Player Power – 16/1/16

I was doing some research in the early hours of this morning and chanced upon the wording of a standard footballer’s contract which I found particularly fascinating reading given the remarkable happenings at Griffin Park over the last twenty-four hours.

I have highlighted a couple of relevant clauses:

Duties and Obligations of the Player

The Player agrees:

 when directed by an authorised official of the Club

1. to attend matches in which the Club is engaged in

2. to participate in any matches in which he is selected to play for the Club

3. to play to the best of his skill and ability at all times

4. to undertake such other duties and to participate in such other activities as are consistent with the performance of his duties and as are reasonably required of the Player

Well it would appear that Brentford defender James Tarkowski must be suffering from dyslexia or a reading disorder given his recent behaviour when he informed his manager, Dean Smith that he did not wish to play against Burnley in last night’s Sky Bet Championship match and declared himself unavailable for the fixture despite being selected in the starting line-up.

The net result of his action was to bring about unspecified disciplinary action from the club but also to wreak havoc on team morale and organisation which surely played a major part in explaining Brentford’s spineless first half surrender to a rampant Burnley team which took full advantage of the home team’s ineptitude and total lack of fight, spirit, organisation or apparent ability to win any challenges for first and second balls.

It is all very well partially excusing the player for his actions by claiming that he was poorly advised and was perhaps misguidedly following his agent’s instructions but for me that does not wash. He is not a child but a twenty-three year old man who has shown a total lack of judgement and should surely know better and be able to know his own mind and make more reasoned and sensible decisions. As it is he has painted himself into a corner and made himself a total pariah in the eyes of all Brentford supporters who were previously great admirers of his on-field ability.

Apart from breaking the terms of his contract, Tarkowski’s strategy is incredibly dumb and ill thought through and will have totally the opposite effect to the one desired by him as all it will do is harden attitudes towards him from club officials and make them even more determined that he will not succeed in his effort to leave on his terms.

He has made it patently clear that he wishes to leave the club and ideally return nearer to his roots in the North West of England with last night’s opponents, Burnley, rumoured to be his preferred destination. He would also surely have noted the seriously enhanced wages that his former team mates are now earning higher up the food chain.

Well every player has his price, a statement that is particularly apposite and appropriate at Griffin Park where it has always been made quite clear that we cannot compete with the budgets and deeper pockets of our better heeled competitors and will sell our players should they wish to leave and if, and only if, our valuations are met by the potential buying club.

An offer of around four million pounds plus lucrative add ons from Fulham was apparently turned down for the player right at the end of the August Transfer Window, more I suspect because the club did not want to be seen to be selling yet another major asset at a time when the likes of Moses Odubajo and Andre Gray had already left the club rather than because the sum offered was unacceptable.

That has set the benchmark for him and it is understood that Burnley’s recent offer for Tarkowski is for far less than half that sum and is therefore nowhere near the figure that is being sought by the club.

By refusing to play he is now trying to force Brentford’s hand and stampede them into accepting a low ball offer for his services rather than wait for full market value to be offered by either Burnley or another of several clubs also rumoured to be sniffing around him.

His approach is totally doomed to failure as it is patently obvious that he has neither really thought matters through nor has he properly considered who he is dealing with. In a game of poker I would not expect Matthew Benham or his Co-Directors of Football to be the first to blink.

I fully expect that Tarkowski has bitten off far more than he can chew and that he is certain to follow the fate of Adam Forshaw who also made it clear at the beginning of last season that he wanted to leave the club and was promptly put on gardening leave and not selected again, and crucially was not allowed to leave the club until Wigan finally came up with the goods and offered us near what we were looking for in terms of his value.

A similar fate is surely certain to befall Tarkowski as he has totally burned his bridges and it is now quite impossible for him to play for the club again as the fans would not countenance his doing so and to allow him to win and force a bargain basement transfer would be scandalous and demonstrate that the players rule the roost and that by behaving badly and unconscionably they can force the issue.

Brentford are far stronger and more resolute than that and Tarkowski will now be left to kick his heels, ideally train on his own and, at best, play in the Development Squad until Brentford receive an offer that reflects his full value – however long it takes.

His agent would now be far better employed in drumming up further interest for his client, ideally at a fee level that will be acceptable to Brentford FC.

The current situation, which has been brought about totally by the player’s actions (or perhaps inaction might be a better description) is frankly of no benefit or use to anyone and the sooner it can be resolved the better it will be for all parties, but there is only one way out of this impasse which is for the club to be offered an acceptable amount for him and hopefully that is what will happen within the next fortnight.

Tarkowski’s character is now stained and blemished indelibly and he follows the likes of Gary Alexander into our personal Rogues Gallery and Hall of Shame for his pathetic and unacceptable behaviour.

What he should have done is quite simply follow the example of Alan Judge. He too is rumoured to be the target for several clubs in the Transfer Window, so what did he do and how did he respond?

Well rather than behave in the same puerile, selfish and blinkered manner as Tarkowski, he simply played his heart out and used the televised match against Burnley as a national showcase for his talent and total commitment to the cause. He was Brentford’s best player by a mile, scored a good goal and spearheaded a second half revival that at least regained a semblance of pride for a team that had been totally overrun before the interval and could easily have been trailing by five or six goals rather than just three.

Any managers and scouts watching the match cannot fail to have been impressed by his performance and attitude and we can only hope that he remains at the club until at least the end of the season.

That is how to do it and Alan Judge went up in the estimation of every Brentford supporter for the way he handled the situation last night.

As for the match itself, well there really is not too much to say as Brentford came up against an excellent team that smelled blood, went for our jugular from the first whistle and we were never allowed to settle down into our normal rhythm. Brentford chased shadows and made football seem like a non contact sport given the time and space they granted their visitors who were allowed to show off their ability and run rings around us in the first half.

The second half was a different affair and had the excellent Sam Saunders scored with an unlikely header or Maxime Colin’s shot have brushed the net on the inside rather than the outside of the post then who knows what might have happened as the comeback would really have been on but Burnley were streets ahead of us and fully deserved their comfortable victory.

We have now lost four games in a row and three home matches in less than a week. There is much work to be done as we have performed for only around half of each of our last three games and scored only once.

How we should go about that is for another day. For now I just hope that James Tarkowski is already reflecting upon his behaviour and has already realised that he has totally let his team mates, the Brentford staff and supporters and of course, himself, down by his selfish and inappropriate behaviour – and more importantly, that it will not succeed or get him the result that he desires.



10 thoughts on “Player Power – 16/1/16

  1. I just hope we leave Tarkowski to train with the youth team and hold out for an offer which reflects his undoubted ability. And if we don’t get an appropriate offer, may he rot…

    These transfer windows have a depressing, demoralising effect on everyone and I could really do without this every six months.

    Last night was back to the Dijkhuizen days. Awful first half in which we are totally overrun, better second half which does nothing more than restore a bit of pride.

    No doubt I’ll be slated for this (with references to ridiculous characters from old sitcoms), but I am looking down the table at the moment. Mid-table is our best hope, and the sooner we hit 50 points the better (I don’t want to think back to 1992-1993).


  2. well Tarkowski is still a Brentford player being payed by BFC but iam afraid his attiude is like a lot of the players today terriable.When i played for BFC there was no code of what to do and not what to do you new your priorites yes there were sum who would step out of line .I remember when i left Watford when Graham Taylor took over he made sure all the players lived in Watford and when i signed at SC TOULON in1977 there was a book given to us where we told what we could and could not do and looking at it today well we in England were far behind


  3. Terrible night, terrible week, probably a terrible month too.

    Tarkowski has now been inducted into the Brentford hall of shame for committing the worst act of selfishness and entitlement that I’ve known in my years following our club. It is a big smack in the chops to all us fans who graft all week to save up to watch him play. It is hugely disrespectful to his team mates, not to mention the owner and staff at the club who have worked to put him where he is today. Unnecessary too as he’d be more likely to achieve his aims by putting in a strong performance on the TV – stupid plain stupid!

    Agree that these transfer windows are not good for the health, is it as bad as this for other clubs? Doesn’t feel like it.

    Anyway here we are again, Groundhog Day – players unsettled, new coach struggling, unbalanced fragile squad. Carsley’s simplicity and common sense a distant memory.

    More time for analysis later, for now all I can cling on to is the hope that cheats & bullies aren’t allowed to prosper. Karma will prevail.


  4. Greville

    Excellent blog. I couldn’t get there last night but watched the horror show unfold in my living room until I could take it no more – about 3 mins from the end.

    There are insufficient words in the English dictionary to describe Tarkowski and his behaviour. The effect he has had on the team is as you say in some ways more damaging than the potential economic cost. As to who blinks first will depend a lot on when his contract is due to expire. If it is this summer then he holds the cards sadly.

    The club is now in a potentially very serious situation. The foreign imports (other than Colin) have not worked, Harlee for whatever reason is refusing to sign or not being offered a new contract, we don’t know if Toums and Judge will survive the month, plucking talent from lower league clubs is now a crowded space. It is noticeable how QPR who didn’t have a clue about leagues 1 and 2 when they came down are now being linked to players from those divisions.

    As someone who runs a large team, I know that morale can be cyclical depending on whether people are leaving or joining. It is not always under one’s control. We are now in the down element of the cycle and we need to arrest the decline by bringing in new faces. However FFP might prevent us from doing that and so it may be that we need to cut our losses with some players and let them go. Vibe is clearly one not cut out for the Championship.

    Our Directors of Football also need to revise their algorithms as we can’t afford the level of hit and misses that we had last summer.

    On the plus side, I thought Yennaris looked decent in midfield yesterday indeed if I have got that right.

    I never liked January as a month and now I really hate it. It can’t finish soon enough. It would also be unfair to judge the new manager based on performances in January.


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  5. Maybe we could ask Burnley for Chris Long as a part exchange for Tarkowski. Long does not appear to be particularly featuring in Burnley’s plans at present. I really liked this lad when he was on loan with us and i think he is just what we need right now.


  6. Matthew Benham (and probably Phil Giles) is a strong proponent of Game Theory. I cannot imagine that Tarkowski will win this one. Let’s hope his agent quickly earns his fee.


    • After last night’s first half debacle, I have agonised over posting this comment.My hesitation is due to a reluctance to re-visit the events of this time just over a year ago(i.e. Feb 11)But I cannot resist the temptation.We were told by the owner and his chairman that our hopes of reaching the Promised Land of the Premiership could only be achieved if we dispensed with the frailities of human judgement and experience and replaced them by a far greater use of statistical analysis. This would lead to the recruitment of better players,coaches and managerial staff.Now let us examine the results to-date of that change of direction.Some of our real star players of last season could not get away from the club quickly enough -and that trend continues. Our new Head Coach was sacked after only 8 games,we lost the services of one of the best coaches in the land and we have just lost 4 games in a row(including 3 atGP) for the first time in years.More importantly of all we are now asked to watch and pay for a quality of football that bears no comparison to that achieved last season under the guidance of Mark WarburtonThis is no refection on Dean Smith although I must say I am now rather more hopeful,than confident, that he will be able to turn things around and at least keep us in the top half of the table-given the right financial backing and owner’s support!


  7. Good comments Peter.

    We knew that this was a tough looking week, but that after these 3 games it was a good moment to reflect on where we are as a club. Our 2nd season at this level was always going to be challenging, especially after the heights we reached under Mark Warburton. And although our current position is not disastrous, it is my view that by any fair measure we’ve gone backwards, in part through poor fortune, but equally through the failure of the new system of player recruitment / development – and critically the revised position of head coach. The quality of player going out in the summer has not been replaced by that coming in, the DoF’s and their methods have found 2 gems in Woods & Colin, but far too many others haven’t or won’t make the grade – many costing us decent money. Then we have the huge team of analysts brought in to enhance fitness, rest, and the delivery of set plays – do we see any tangible improvements in these areas? For me a resounding no. So on to the head coaches role, we are now on our 3rd of the season. Marinus couldn’t have read the brief and was soon triggered for failing to use the resources at his disposal, results were poor but we are told this isn’t why he went. Then came Lee Carsley, the reluctant hero, who kept it simple, had the relationship with and reverted to the remaining players and methods from the Warburton era, then we shot up the table. We were told Lee was on board until the end of the season, only somebody forgot to confirm this with Lee himself who wanted away and was gone before Christmas. In comes Dean Smith taking the reigns in a decent position and seemingly comfortable with the role – he made a decent start and at the end of 2015 things finally start to look like they are coming together as we push on. The fans lifted by the assumption that returning players will strengthen us yet further. 4 poor performances later we have an unsettled, unbalanced squad leaking goals, failing to take chances and being over run in midfield. Clearly this window is crucial for the short to mid term position of the club, everyone needs to up their game – particularly the DoF’s and coaches in my view. Painfully for me it may now be necessary to move on the last of the class of 14/15 if these players can’t settle and help us move forward. What a shame that we find ourselves in such a place when all Warburton wanted was more say in player signings – was it really worth going through all this upheaval for?

    For now Tarkowski is the focus of attention, I don’t blame the club for his stupid actions. But even the most positive / supportive of bees fan has to acknowledge that this season has been very difficult and that we are nowhere near the stated aims of those in control.

    50 plus points can’t come soon enough, at the moment I can’t see where the next point is coming from.


    • Just a further comment on the Tarkowski fiasco. If his ambitions are not achieved he will only have himself(or his agent) to blame! My sympathies lie with Dean Smith(not that he needs them). But he must be wondering why he swapped the”green,green pastures” of Walsall for the challenges waiting for him at GP. Fortunately he appears to have the sort of personality that relishes a challenge.I can only hope that he receives 100 per cent support from MB and is given sufficient time to replicate his achievements at Walsall.


  8. We are still suffering from the abysmal recruitment last summer. Carsley basically jettisoned most of the “moneyballers” and selected a team that was used to English football. The squad has now become stretched and we are struggling once again. Too many of them don’t cut it, and a combination of misfortune and a failure to regain form once fit has buggered us with MacEachran, who was meant to be the Douglas replacement.

    The honeymoon period is well and truly over for Dean Smith and I do not envy him one little bit, much as I didn’t envy Dijkhuizen with all the problems he had.

    I say this very much tongue in cheek. In 1992-3 we had 33 points after 23 games, lost a very winnable game in the FA Cup and then went an appalling losing run. This season we had 33 points after 23 games, lost a very winnable game in the FA Cup and (etc. etc.).

    Not saying history will repeat itself, but we are looking downwards as things stand at the minute and need to arrest the decline fast. It’s very easy to drop like a stone in this league once you get on a bad roll.


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