Brickbats and Bouquets – 17/1/16

Just as my article yesterday castigated James Tarkowski for his utter stupidity and selfishness, it is only right and proper that I give praise too whenever and wherever it is justified.

So will the Brentford Media Department please stand up and take a bow – yes that is you Chris Wickham and you too, Mark Chapman whom I am referring to.

The club’s statement regarding Tarkowski was a perfect example of less is more as it provided a clear but brief and unemotional description of his behaviour and its natural consequence without labouring the fact, elaborating on matters or going into unnecessary detail.

Yesterday they surpassed themselves when the club announced the sad departure of Jota on loan to Eibar on loan until the Summer of 2017 after agreeing an option to extend his Brentford contract for a further season and gave a full and frank explanation for his having no option but to leave the club while he works through some personal issues that require him to be in Spain rather than West London.

There is a crumb of hope and comfort for us as we are told that we have the option to recall the Spanish maestro during the next two Transfer Windows – this Summer and in January 2017 although quite frankly, I am not holding my breath.

In PR circles there are two schools of thought regarding the announcement and dissemination of bad news: You either bury it in and amongst other less contentious announcements and hope that you get away with it without the public noticing or cottoning on, something that is particularly prevalent in government circles, or, as Brentford have done, you provide full disclosure as well as a detailed and compelling explanation of the facts.

In my view, honesty is always the best policy and now every Brentford supporter is totally aware of what has been going on and should understand why, given the circumstances, the club had absolutely no option but to act in the way that they did and allow him to return home in order to sort out his personal life.

The club should be congratulated for acting in such an honourable and farsighted manner.

Jota too earned full marks by releasing a statement to the Brentford fans which made it abundantly clear just how difficult the last few months have been for him and how happy and content he has been at the club and if it had not been for his difficult personal circumstances he would not have been going anywhere.

The letter is heartfelt, open, honest and emotional and he memorably and evocatively states that my children will grow up listening to Jota in the last minute which I have saved forever in my heart as well as constantly in my head.

He ends by simply stating, I won’t say goodbye, just see you soon, so we will all just have to wish him well and wait and see how things turn out for him and his family.

In the meantime we will just have to make do with our abundant memories of the little genius and keep ourselves warm on cold nights by thinking about his twinkling toes and mesmerising dribbling and the incredible goals he scored against the likes of Leeds, Cardiff and Blackburn.

In truth it has been an horrendous week for the Bees and a real eye opener and possibly reality check for all of us supporters. I cannot recall the last time we ever lost three home games in a six day period and maybe Mark Croxford or Paul Briers or somebody else better informed than I can tell us if this sad state of affairs has ever happened before?

Losing to Middlesbrough and Burnley was bad enough if not totally unexpected, and whilst I realise that we had to husband our limited resources and rest players, in retrospect the FA Cup defeat to Walsall was just as damaging. Given where we are in the league a cup run would have ensured that we remain in the public eye and provided a real boost and fillip to our supporters in a season that now looks unlikely to end in a charge for the playoffs.

The Tarkowski and Jota situations just piled further upset and frustration on everybody and we now have to reassess where we are and what happens for the remainder of the season.

It is important to keep a sense of perspective and recognise that a position in the upper mid table of the Championship given everything that has happened to date this season both on and off the field is no mean achievement.

We were spoiled by last season’s top five finish and some senior representatives of the club were perhaps misguided in allowing us to think or expect that further progress and improvement was anticipated.

Frankly you are only as good as the players you are able to put out onto the pitch and we have been hamstrung by our massive and long lasting injury list as well as the loss of so many talented players mainly for reasons well out of our control.

The damage might not yet be over as we face losing more players before the end of the Transfer Window. Tarkowski moving on is surely a given and Toumani might well follow him out of the door, this time with our heartfelt thanks and best wishes. The Alan Judge situation remains totally open and up in the air and we just have to hope that no other club meets our valuation of the player.

There is also wide speculation that Sam Saunders will have his contract cancelled and leave for Tampa Bay Rowdies in the MSL. Should that be the case we cannot begrudge him his opportunity given his loyal service to the club and we can only wish him well. He has returned to the first team reckoning recently given the quality of his displays in training , but also because of our lack of resources and other options.

The loss of Jota is particularly damaging as he would have given Judge additional support and taken some of the pressure off him and revitalised our midfield.

Sergi Canos and John Swift have also shown that they have the potential to more than contribute at Championship level, however I have felt in recent games that they have both hit the wall and need to be taken out of the firing line for a while given their youth and relative inexperience. Swift too is learning how to play a new position and adjust to a role out wide on the left hand side of midfield.

This means that reinforcements are urgently needed and there was talk yesterday that George Evans was on the verge of joining us but that he had decided to join Reading instead. This is potentially disappointing news, given that he is a very talented young player, well known to Dean Smith from his recent loan spell at Walsall who would have been an ideal replacement for Toumani as a box to box midfielder. Evans also has an eye for goal, something that is lacking with Toums and it appears that we will now have to look elsewhere.

It is hard to argue with the view that so far many of our summer recruits have failed to step up to the plate and contribute to the level anticipated and even expected. Gogia has suffered from niggling injuries and not established himself and Kerschbaumer has not been able to cope yet with the pace and physicality of the Championship. Williams has disappeared without trace but he was simply a project anyway. Bjelland, a man of whom we had such high hopes has barely kicked a ball due to long term injury and Barbet has shown great promise but is probably seen as a player for next year rather than this.

As for the three strikers, if you could combine all of their best assets you would have a fantastic player indeed but none of them has totally convinced or demonstrated that they are the real answer to our problem. Andre Gray was certainly a hard act to follow and it is probably unfair to expect a foreign player to step in and find his feet at once but neither Vibe, Hofmann or Djuricin look like they enjoy or are best suited to playing as a lone striker and perhaps they should simply be congratulated for having done as well as they have given that they have scored fifteen goals between them, far more than Gray had managed at this stage of last season.

I cannot see this situation changing at the moment and we will simply have to get on with things as best we can until the close season when we can reassess matters.

McEachran is still regaining form and fitness and of the newcomers only Colin and Woods can be said to have been total successes at the present time although hopefully that situation will change .

I would be more than happy if we remain where we are in the league and start building for the future. What is certain is that we will remain easy on the eye and play exciting and vibrant attacking football whilst retaining a slightly soft underbelly.

I hope that we are able to bring in some new permanent rather than loan players either from abroad or the lower divisions who will be part of our future rather than just short term solutions brought in to plug up some immediate holes.

We now have a week to recover and take stock and hopefully we will not overreact to the setbacks of the last week, after all, Reading lost six games out of seven recently but have recovered as will we.

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21 thoughts on “Brickbats and Bouquets – 17/1/16

  1. I have to join issue with you regarding the Tarkowski statement on the official website. I thought that it was ill advised, poorly written and has effectively removed from the Club the ability to deal with the matter privately and without scrutiny. Supporters and media are now waiting to see how the matter evolves and I suggest that whatever the Club now does there will be negative comments.

    It has created media publicity of course ( a page in today’s FLP) and a lot of negativity towards the player which normally would bother me not one bit but in this case it certainly has not enhanced his ultimate transfer value and probably reduced it. That seems bad business and a poor return to me for the limited benefit of getting our retaliation in first.

    The statement was bylined ‘Mark Chapman’ which is pretty unusual as a lot of the official site stuff is not attributable and usually under the generic ‘Brentford FC. I would however be astonished if BFC Media Department (and I am a supporter of the work that CW and MC do and the way they go about their business) had anything to do with the decision to issue a statement re Tarkowski.

    The suggestion from some quarters that it was done to avoid Dean Smith having to ‘lie’ if asked about Tarkowski’s absence is risible.

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    • Thanks Alan but this was news that was always going to come out and better the club seized the moral high ground and set the agenda rather than being caught on the back foot when responding to the queries that would be sure to ensue.

      This could not be swept under the carpet in my opinion.

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      • I’m clearly going to be in a minority of one here but I would have preferred that we deal with it and then issue a statement rather than box ourselves in.

        What was the hurry exactly? If Dean Smith or anyone in authority at BFC was asked ‘Why wasn’t Tarkowski in the squad tonight’ the response would be ‘Ask the player if you want an immediate comment’……that’s what I call setting the agenda Greville and I’ll leave it at that.

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  2. Seems like damned if you do issue an official statement and damned if you don’t. What with social media, opinion and gossip on the internet, I think that the club was wise to issue a statement.

    Acting with honesty and integrity has to be the right way. In my eyes a player refusing to play puts him in breach of contract. To be honest, if he behaves like that to BFC, there is every chance he could be behave like that with another club. His value is diminished by his actions, not the club’s.

    We bemoan the negative influence of money in the game. If our actions area going to be guided just by money, then you can hang honesty and integrity.

    Compare this with the Jota situation. Both club and player come out of it well. Brentford, by saying, yes you personnel issues are in effect more important, and Jota recognizing, this support and the affection he is held by us fans. The fact that in his statement he says he turned down other others from Premier league clubs speaks volumes.

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  3. I accept that any punishment imposed on James Tarkowski is entirely a matter for the club’s management and I had no problem with the issued statement.I would hope,however, that in the wider interests of football, and loyal supporters throughout the land,it has or will take the strongest possible line. The worst outcome would be if the club,as an act of expediency,accepted a “knock down” transfer fee from a rival club. that would open the floodgates for other dissatisfied players who might be tempted to follow his example.Brentford’s response must be seen as a deterrent to others and not as an invitation to hold clubs to ransom One of the saddest aspects of this situation is that Tarkowski comes across as a very likeable and fair minded young man. It is a complete mystery to me why he should have acted in the way he did on Friday.

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  4. Alan has hit the nail on the head. The main consequence of all this is that the player’s value will have dropped and we will want him gone asap. Not smart. Not good business.

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    • A minority of two then David!!!

      As I said ‘What was the hurry exactly?’…….Greville thinks it was excellent and necessary and I don’t but as Greville frequently says the point of his blog is to stimulate debate.

      We didn’t exactly rush out a statement regarding Jota even though there were sufficient ‘leaks’ by the ‘in the knows’ for most supporters to gain some insight into what was going on.

      It’s not so much the bald official Tarkowski statement itself but its effect upon the supporters emotions and attitude towards the player as it effectively rules out any possible compromise, apology and player acceptance of whatever sanctions are imposed. The depth of feeling against him now suggests that there is little chance that he will ever again pull on a Brentford shirt and either he is left to see out his contract with BFC taking a substantial asset hit or he is sold during the current window and he gets what he wants all along.

      My point was and remains that far better to have imposed whatever punishment is decided upon the player, continue to negotiate to move him on during the January window and then later issue a statement clarifying why Tarkowski was not in the squad for the Burnley match.

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  5. The unknown factor here is exactly what was done or said by Tarkowski and perhaps his agent and how disruptive it was. It is in their interest to make it as well known as possible that the player wants out and I am sure that the fact would have leaked and supporters would have put two and two together if he had simply not played on Friday with no explanation coming from the club.

    Other players have behaved in a similar manner elsewhere and it is now a recognised if unsavoury tactic commonly used by players to ensure that they get a move.

    In my opinion as soon as Tarkowski made it clear what his intentions were he became toxic and I understand that the players are none too happy with him either.

    There are no winners in this difficult situation but I still feel that the club acted correctly

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  6. They may have acted ‘correctly’ but at what cost?
    They should play him on Saturday, and if their spin doctors are worth their fee, they will keep quiet. If they can’t do that they should come up with how they’ve settled the misunderstanding about whether Tarky thought it best for the team if he did not play rather than throwing his toys out of the pram.

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  7. The discussion seems to revolve around how much we now get for the player. So in effect money is the driving consideration. I just don’t think players can get away with this kind of behaviour, and some stand needs to be taken. Ultimately it is the owners call, who is, I have to say, a more effective businessman than I will ever be.

    The Jota situation is entirely different and I don’t think comparing the two is right.

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  8. I just do not agree, sorry, although I understand your and Alan’s viewpoint.

    There are only two ways out of this impasse.

    1. JT apologises and knuckles down – and I cannot really see that ever happening

    2. We sell him in the next two weeks

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  9. 1. It should not be beyond the wit of BFC to work out some compromise
    2. If we sell him in the next two weeks it will lose us a lot of money – and it’s not part of the business model.

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  10. Where is the BFC statement? Sorry but I’ve missed this and only saw the headlines on SSN’s ticker when I arrived at GP Friday.

    I’m all over the place on this right now, and just feel so let down by “Fark Offski” and his antics that I can’t focus yet, i’ll be back soon though as this week’s events raise questions about so many things beyond this alone.

    Good to have the comms debate initiated by Grevlle & Alan. 2 Bees folk who’s opinions I pay much attention to. Worryingly i’ll probably have to disagree with one or other in the end. Although the handling of this mustn’t totally detract from the real issue.

    As for the “model” – I think there are some parts missing in the box, or possibly it is broken.

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  11. If we were dealing with this situation in a business other than football I would agree with Alan’s point as there would have been a good chance of keeping this “in house”.However in the murky world of football where there are more leaks than you would get at Westminster.I heard this rumour Friday evening in the Inverness club,and I hear it was general knowledge in the Kings Arms as well we then got the Official Statement from the club to confirm it.I think the club did the right thing to own the situation rather than just let the truth be knocked about like a football by parties with an agenda.This whole saga has left a bad taste with us fans and I’m pointing fingers at The Player,His agent and Burnley Football Club with a whiff drifting down from Glasgow.The sooner this gets resolved the better but sadly there is only one winner and it ain’t us.

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  12. Sticking my oar in, I’m coming down on the ‘side’ of Greville and Bill Benn (not that we want to take sides in the BFC family!) I think the club were put in an almost impossible position by JT and had they not put out a statement, the rumours swirling around would probably have made the situation worse. The club would then have been accused of being slow to act and keeping the supporters in the dark! So in a way it was ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’.

    As a professional writer, I don’t think the statement from the club was OTT or sensationalist particularly. It seemed pretty matter-of-fact and to-the-point. It was also pretty much devoid of emotion. I am inclined to agree with Bill Benn in that I can’t see BFC coming out as winners in all of this.

    If JT doesn’t play for the club again, we’ve lost our best central defender. If he leaves before the end of January, we probably won’t get anything like what Fulham offered in August. Would Dean Smith dare select him for the Preston game? And if he did, what would be the reaction of the Brentford fans? As much as I now dislike Tarkowski (and his agent) I’m inclined to look at the bigger picture and do what’s right in terms of picking the best team to win matches. Having said that, if his actions have gone down badly with the rest of the squad, his position is now seemingly untenable. If that’s the case, he definitely won’t play for the club again and will presumably disappear in a similar way to Forshaw.

    But personally I think the club did the right thing and we now have to use this situation to galvanise the squad and the fans, get behind the players that want to play for us, see it as a great opportunity for O’Connell and Barbet and look to try to get back to winning ways on Saturday.

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  13. Judging by the way they played in the first half on Friday, they were hardly galvanized. All a bit reminiscent of last January and those strange goings on and their effect on the team.
    All in the past now. Let’s hope someone can sort out a way forward that will not lose money or leave us with continuing personnel problems. Naive? I hope not. Difficult? Sure.

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  14. Has anyone thought that Tarkowski and his agents have done this there way so that BFC will have to sell him at a much lower price .So many others players have done the same roony for money ect And lets be honest some clubs do not care at all about the way some players look it how they are when they signed for them that counts

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    • Consider the source.

      Adrian Durham is a shock jock who deliberately provokes and is contrary as he wants to stir and wind people up and get a reaction – and he’s very good at doing so.

      He is also a Peterborough fan!!

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  15. Sadly the source has a platform – one which many people read or listen to. Which is why his so called journalism needs correcting – particularly when it involves our club.

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