I thought I would allow things to settle down for a couple of days or so before I made any comment about Brentford’s activity in the Transfer Window, its ramifications, and where it has left us in terms of the remainder of the season and beyond.
Given that we lost three valuable members of our first team squad and brought in no immediate replacements I fully expected that there would be a tirade of vituperation from those Brentford supporters who still do not understand how our club is being run or, even worse, do not want to do so.
There were indeed quite a few comments on social media which accused the club of treading water at best or even going backwards, demonstrating a total lack of ambition by not splashing the cash and that we were now holed below the waterline and had given up on the remainder of the season which we now faced with a weakened and diminished squad.
To my surprise and pleasure, of the vocal minority who made their voice heard, a far greater number supported the club’s stance and welcomed the fact that even more transfer income had been received, our limited funds had been conserved and we could now build up a war chest for the summer when more quality players would be available for far less exorbitant sums than is the case in January when desperation is the rule of the game and clubs will only allow their best players to leave if they are offered far more than their real market value.
We are a case in point as Brentford placed an extremely, and perhaps artificially, high value on our star player and talisman, Alan Judge, in what turned out to be a successful attempt to ward off potential suitors, as we made it absolutely clear that only an enormous offer would persuade us to allow him to leave the club in January.
Our tough stance worked a treat and Judge will remain at Griffin Park at least until the end of the season and, given his singleminded ambition and focus on making the Republic of Eire squad for the European Championships, it is an absolute given that he will be putting everything into his performances over the next three months in order to catch the eye of Martin O’Neill.
I fully expect that Judge will be gone before the beginning of next season but we really cannot lose out as we will have benefited from his service, receive a transfer fee in excess of ten times what we paid Blackburn Rovers for him and should he make the Eire squad and shine on the pitch during the Tournament then who knows how much we might be offered for him?
In the meantime we should just be grateful that he will be with us for the remainder of the season and continue to act as our spark plug and inspiration.
In passing there was an interesting debate in the pages of The Griffin Park Grapevine a few days ago regarding the identity of the last non-striker to score twenty goals in a season for the club as Alan, with twelve to his name to date, is perhaps within striking distance and has a realistic possibility of achieving that momentous feat.
Nobody immediately sprung to mind with the exception of Johnny Brooks who scored twenty-two times way back in 1962/63. He was a classic inside forward who played alongside John Dick and Billy McAdams in a team that scored ninety-eight goals whilst on its way to winning the Fourth Division title. We all send him our continued best wishes given that news broke last season of his ill health.
Other midfielders or wingers who in recent times have got anywhere near the hallowed twenty goal mark in a season are Bobby Ross with fifteen in 1970-71, Glen Poole, Paul Evans and Allan Mansley with fourteen, John Docherty with thirteen and Gary Roberts with twelve goals.
if I have forgotten any other candidates then please let me know.
Please excuse me for that brief but enjoyable diversion and now, back to the present day.
I will simply say that we have already made a massive profit on James Tarkowski which will be increased significantly should Burnley get promoted, and we enjoyed six years of excellent service from Toumani Diagouraga and also obtained a three hundred per cent profit on what we paid Peterborough for him.
Thankfully Co-Director of Football, Phil Giles, has given a long and illuminating interview on the official club website which explains far better than I can the rationale behind our entire Transfer Window strategy, why we divested ourselves of Toumani Diagouraga, Jota and James Tarkowski, what efforts were made to bring in fresh blood and, most importantly, where we are going from here.
If you have not read it, then I commend it to you as it is clear, open and honest and, at least to me, he makes perfect sense in what he has said.
Words, however wise and well meant, are cheap, and actions certainly speak louder, and we now all have to wait and see what transpires during the remainder of this season and, even more importantly, in the close season, before we can finally pass judgement on the success or otherwise of the most recent Transfer Window.
If the departing players are replaced wisely, as I fully expect, and further tweaks are also made to the squad, then all will be well.
In the meantime I have made a list of all the things that I hope and expect to see take place over the course of the next few months which ideally will go a long way towards proving that we remain on track and that further progress will be made:
- We retain our focus and remember that there is still over a third of the season to play and that performances and points remain crucial and an absolute priority as is reaching the recognised safety mark of fifty-one points as soon as possible
- A realisation that the season is most certainly not over as has been claimed elsewhere and that matters cannot be allowed to drift
- Beating both Queens Park Rangers and Fulham and proving that we are the top dog in the Championship in West London
- Experimentation in terms of lineups and even formations as we need to assess what works best for us and which players are up to the challenge and can remain with us and contribute fully to our journey and who is not up to the mark
- Giving Philipp Hofmann, Konstantin Kerschbaumer and Andy Gogia a run of games to see if they are good enough to thrive at Championship level
- Likewise with Marco Djuricin as he was looking good before his unfortunate injury at Blackburn in early November and a decision will need to be made as to whether he becomes a permanent signing at the end of the season
- Giving Lasse Vibe a breather from time to time given the amount of games he has played over the past year without benefit of an end of season break
- Seeing if Vibe, Hofmann and Djuricin, or any combination of two of them can play together in a front two
- Easing Lewis Macleod into the team and allowing him the chance to sample Championship football when his fitness levels allow. A place on the bench tomorrow night at Brighton would be a good start
- Identifying a suitable backup for Jake Bidwell who could also be groomed into becoming his successor should Jake not extend his current contract with the club
- Demonstrating to crucial mainstays of the team such as David Button and Jake Bidwell that our ambitions remain unchanged and convincing them to buy into our vision by extending their contracts with the club beyond 2017
- Coming to a suitable agreement with Harlee Dean that allows both sides to feel content about him signing a new contract. With the departure of Tarkowski, Dean is now the only senior right sided centre half at the club and hopefully he will thrive on the responsibility as well as the opportunity it affords him
- Persuading Sam Saunders to put his American Dream on hold and coming up with a new deal that allows him to combine playing with perhaps developing a new career as a coach
- Nursing Scott Hogan through the final stages of his recovery period and getting him back onto the field with renewed fitness and confidence in his ability
- Giving Josh McEachran the opportunity to develop an effective partnership with Ryan Woods as our defensive midfielders and hoping he regains sufficient fitness to make forward runs too
- Deciding upon the future of Alan McCormack and ensuring that he has a dignified exit if that is the way things go
- Encouraging Ryan Woods to get into the opposition penalty area whenever possible and to try shooting more often
- Doing everything possible to persuade John Swift that his permanent future lies at Griffin Park and that next season he will be allowed to play in the centre of midfield rather than out on the left wing
- Integrating the impressive Yoann Barbet into the team whilst still convincing Jack O’Connell that he has a future at the club
- Keeping in constant contact with Jota and doing everything within our power to persuade him to return with his batteries recharged and spirits revived as and when it is possible for him to do so
- Trying to persuade Nico Yennaris to sign a new contract at the club given his value as a squad member
- Encouraging Sergi Canos to try the spectacular when appropriate but not to take on too much responsibility on the pitch
- A limited number of loan players are brought in to fill gaps that currently exist on the wing and perhaps at centre half and ideally they are on the try before you buy basis which has worked so well previously
- To continue our root and branch review of the Academy
- To bring in more promising players from outside for the Development Squad and hope that the influence of Fleming Pedersen produces a winning mentality and helps bring some emerging young players through to the first team squad
- Finding appropriate loan moves for Josh Clarke and Jermaine Udumaga so that we can find out just how good they are
- To identify and initiate appropriate levels of contact with potential new signings for next season from both at home and abroad and ideally formalise agreements with them for next season and beyond
So there is certainly much for us to look forward to between now and the end of the season and hopefully many of the points I have mentioned above will be actioned by the club.
I would love to hear from other supporters regarding their own wish list for the next three months as I am sure that I have left a lot out.