I am always keen to give loyal readers of this column the right of reply and to publish articles that they submit to me either spontaneously or sometimes at my request. After all, we share one thing in common, we are all fervent, if not rabid Brentford supporters who only want the best for our beloved club and we all have our own opinion and take on everything that has been happening at Brentford FC.
I might not always succeed, but I always attempt to provide a calm, considered and objective view and opinion on the way that the club is run and what is happening both on and off the field.
Sometimes I feel that I am a bit too cold blooded, detached and rational and that occasionally it does no harm to vent a bit and let those emotions out and today is going to be one of those days, even if the words that you are about to read are not my own and perhaps they go too far!
Peter Lumley is quite evidently not a happy man and he appears to be feeling a combination of anger, sadness, frustration and disappointment at most of the events of the past year and he has just sent me the article that I enclose below which succinctly sums up exactly his current state of mind.
Some of you might well agree with every word of what he says, I certainly do not share his opinion on most of the matters that he criticises and have already rebutted them many times in previous articles, others might see it as an impassioned or maybe even ill founded rant or, more charitably, simply as a dedicated, loyal and long-suffering supporter offloading because of what he perceives as an opportunity lost and that we are now a club that is drifting and suffering from the mistakes made in our overall strategy over the past year.
Whilst I accept that you can generally only predict the future by examining the past and that there are certainly several things that I would certainly have done differently, I have made it clear over the course of well over half a million words that I have written since I started this blog in June 2014 that I am fundamentally massively supportive and appreciative of the way that Matthew Benham, Cliff Crown and the rest of the senior staff have constantly tried to innovate and think outside the box in order to catapult Brentford way up the pyramid so that we are competing on an almost even keel with clubs far richer and larger than us and teams that we would barely have dreamed that we would be playing against, let alone defeating.
That being said, nobody is above criticism as long as it is fair, constructive and carefully thought through.
I have given chapter and verse on countless occasions exactly why I feel that we have gone backwards this season, but only after we began from a ridiculously high base line that could never in reality have been sustained given our circumstances.
Mistakes have certainly been made and we are currently in a bad patch, but we have also been the victims of bad luck and poor fortune on a massive scale as well as, it has to be acknowledged, poor judgement and we have suffered grievously at the hand of rapacious and far better heeled teams with the power to divest us of our better players. Such is life and we have to get used to it and plan for the future.
As for the future, again, I have made it clear just how crucial this Summer will be and I await what transpires with interest as well as the expectation that the right moves will be made, not just from blind faith but also from my soundings regarding the way in which we intend to operate.
Perhaps I will be proved wrong but somehow I doubt it and I firmly believe that we will retrench and come again next season.
In the meantime, here is what Peter has to say and, as always, I look forward to receiving your feedback on his article, which is hard hitting in the extreme.
I decided to write this item in the hope that it represents the views of dozens or hundreds of other Brentford supporters like myself. From the outset I should state that I was just one of the ninety-eight percent of fans who, according to a social media poll at the time, were opposed to the announcement by the Board of Directors, on the eleventh of February last year, that the club intended to dispense with the services of Mark Warburton as Manager at the end of the season, come what may!
At the time I wrote at least four letters to the club chairman, Mr. Cliff Crown, expressing fears that this decision would, almost inevitably, lead to a destabilisation of the club with a consequent loss of morale among a very successful squad of talented players who had treated fans to a quality of football they had not seen at Griffin Park for years.
Not surprisingly, my fears fell on deaf ears. It took at least two to three months for the chairman to even acknowledge my letters. When his response did eventually arrive it was not worth the paper it was written on – quite apart from the fact that I was addressed as “Dear Mr. King” rather than by my correct name. Many may say that this was a trivial offence. But to me it was symptomatic of the club’s attitude towards its loyal fans.
Perhaps I should recap, briefly, on the events that led up to the controversial decision and the subsequent fallout from that fateful day last February.
That morning an exclusive leaked story appeared in The Times newspaper announcing that Mark Warburton’s rolling contract would not be renewed at the end of the season even if the club was promoted to the Premier League. In a panicky response the club issued an interim statement that was an utter disgrace and an insult to anyone with a scrap of intelligence. To the press and the UK football community, it made the club a laughing stock from which, in my opinion, it has never really recovered.
In an attempt to make amends, the club subsequently issued a more considered response, the gist of which read as follows (using my own words):
The club believes that if it is to sustain the progress achieved over the past three seasons and is to compete successfully against bigger and more wealthier clubs in the future, it must rid itself of the hazards of human judgement and experience and replace them with a greater use of statistical analyses. Particularly as an aid to the recruitment of better players and coaches. Then, and only then, will we be able to reach the Promised Land of Premier League football at the proposed new stadium at Lionel Road.
Again, briefly, I went through all the emotions of shock, anger, bemusement, but I eventually came to terms with the decision and decided, in the interests of sanity and loyalty, to give the new direction a chance to succeed. And although I rated Mark Warburton as a great and highly popular manager, there were those who took the view:
1) That he possibly overplayed Jonathan Douglas, when he was not getting any younger and his box-to-box style of play demanded an enormous amount of energy.
2) There was a reluctance to recruit a second striker to take the pressure off Andre Gray.
But to me he was the perfect manager and a great asset to the club.
Now I want to fast forward to the present day. There are a growing number of fans who believe they are owed an explanation for what appears to have gone wrong with the current approach and a prediction of of what they can expect in the immediate future. This should come from the club chairman or a representative of the senior management team and should take the form of a progress report.
If I were to be asked to ghost write a statement on his behalf it would probably read as follows (in my own words):
1) Hello, all you grateful and loyal Brentford fans. We very much regret that many of you are suffering from a severe bout of nostalgia at this very trying time. We are confident, however, that this problem will soon pass and you can look forward to some quality football again shortly!
Quite naturally, our esteemed club owner is very reluctant to admit that, possibly, he has made a ghastly mistake and that, as yet, his massive gamble does not seem to be paying off. By nature he is a very shy and private person who wishes to remain incognito for as long as it takes. He believes he has a right to remain silent and no one should criticise him for that. Fair enough.
He also believes that fans should understand that money talks (or doesn’t talk!) to the tune of ninety million pounds! He is confident that his much cherished one direction will soon seem like music to the ears of many of you – and he will come up smelling of red and white roses.
Finally, he would just like to point out that foresight is a wonderful thing and he hopes you will now be prepared to show a little more patience!
2) We also have to admit that we have lost far too many good players to our rivals in the Championship and have been unable to recruit adequate replacements except with two possible exceptions. We would like to point out, once again that foresight is a wonderful thing etc etc….
3) We also admit that we cannot claim that our recruitment of new and better coaches has been wholly successful but we would like to point out etc etc ….
4) Our club chairman has agreed that the fears expressed that he was putting the club’s stability at risk were, with the benefit of hindsight, possibly well-founded. But he asks us to point out etc etc ……
5) Yes, we are conceding far too many goals and missing far too many scoring chances but would like to point out etc etc ……
6) At least one of our Co-Directors of Football has other fish to fry (possibly Danish) and cannot possibly be expected to devote more time and energy to the interest of Brentford. But he does ask fans to show a little more patience and a lot more loyalty to the club!
7) We ask fans and potential fans (if there are any out there!) to show a lot more patience, loyalty and optimism in the future. Because that is the only way that we will achieve our common goal (strikers permitting) of a place in the Premier League.
8) We also admit that the recruitment of better coaches has not really improved the performances of our youth and development teams in recent weeks. Due to unforeseen circumstances we lost the services of, arguably, the best Development Squad coach in the land. We then appointed the ultra-loyal Kevin O’Connor as lead Development Squad coach but quickly replaced him in what some describe as undue haste. Patience has, however, never been one of our strong points. In fact there are some among us who hardly know the meaning of the word! Regretfully, Kevin’s replacement has not met with much success but we would like to point out etc etc …
9) Finally, we pledge to give our very loyal fans regular and forthright updates, based on our very latest statistical analyses of the progress being achieved, we will then not have to rely on that young upstart, Peter Lumley, to do the job for us.