Time For Some Answers! – 6/3/16

Normally the blog seems to write itself. I just sit down at the computer and the words generally flow without too much effort but today was totally different as I vacillated endlessly over the most suitable subject matter and how best to express my feelings.

My first reaction after Brentford’s inept, shambolic, disjointed and passionless performance as they stumbled to an appalling defeat against an equally poor Charlton team was to assert that since the entire Brentford team seemed to have gone on their holidays a couple of months too early then perhaps the blog should do the same and that I would make as much effort as the team had done yesterday and simply refrain from making any comment at all.

I then thought about giving vent to my feelings and forensically dissecting each player’s myriad shortcomings but that was far too depressing a prospect and quite frankly I would simply be repeating so much of what I have already written after previous unacceptable performances. After much thought I have therefore decided to give a brief summary of Saturday’s non-event and then look at highlighting some of the broader issues that now face us and attempting to find some solutions.

Facing a relegation haunted team sorely lacking in confidence we all hoped for a precious early goal that would ideally settle our nerves both on and off the pitch and that is exactly what happened and our prayers were answered as the ball hit the net less than twenty seconds after the opening whistle – unfortunately at the wrong end, as a Brentford team which still looked as though it was in its prematch huddle got into a mess at the back as a left wing cross was allowed to reach the unmarked Harriott who found space in a packed penalty area and easily slotted home.

Dean Smith said that our game plan had gone out of the window after such an appalling start, but surely we still had well over ninety minutes to put things right and address matters?

The Bees eventually clawed their way back into the match and played some reasonable football for the majority of the first half without showing much spark or invention. Swift and Canos shone spasmodically and the Chelsea youngster headed a glaring chance well wide of a gaping goal from a similar opportunity to the one he scored from at The Valley before refusing to fall down when clearly clipped and a penalty kick seemed inevitable.

Frankly it is unfair and unrealistic to put so much pressure on two such talented but inexperienced teenagers and expect them to pull a rabbit out of the hat more than occasionally.

As has happened far too often, Judge was left to forage alone and cut in from the wing to force a brilliant plunging save from Pope. Canos then slipped Djuricin clean through a square defence as the applause rang out in the twenty-fourth minute for the sadly departed Dean Langford but he showed his total lack of confidence and sharpness by allowing the keeper to block his shot when a goal seemed inevitable before Barbet marked a memorable God-given minute by heading home Judge’s corner kick when left totally unmarked and he scored his first ever goal for the club.

Surely the Bees would now take control, but we never found that extra gear nor succeeded in putting a wilting defence under any real pressure. Early in the second half Canos was sent away by McEachran’s exquisite pass but from an identical position from where he rippled the net against Wolves, he could only shoot wide of the post and quite frankly, that was that as we barely created another chance for the remainder of the match, and that miss was to come and haunt us when Charlton realised just how poor we were and finally awoke from their torpor, broke away down their left flank, and the totally unemployed Button could only paw a cross straight to Harriott who made a difficult chance look easy. A ghastly error from a goalkeeper playing against his former team.

The game drifted away from us as we gently subsided to defeat without making much apparent effort to recover as we lacked any shape, invention or frankly, passion. As has happened far too often lately our three substitutions seemed only to weaken us even more. Saunders replaced Canos who seemed to be our main threat although perhaps the fact that he had been booked and subsequently warned for a dive helped make Dean Smith’s mind up for him. Sam barely touched the ball and never played a dangerous pass or cross into the penalty area.

Djuricin gave perhaps the worst and most pathetic performance I have seen from a Brentford striker since the days when the likes of Joe Omigie and Neil Shipperley provided a non-existent goal threat and his replacement, Vibe, who at least gave the impression of breaking sweat, was easily smothered by the Charlton defence. Hofmann came on near the end for McEachran and lumbered around without noticeable effect and it was quite impossible to detect our formation as we degenerated into a hapless and shapeless rabble and we were fortunate not to concede a third as we were cut open repeatedly on the break.

Not for the first time this season the patience of the Brentford supporters was sorely tested and they made their displeasure known at the final whistle.

Charlton came expecting to be defeated but they were let off the hook as they out battled and outfought a Brentford team that was in reality anything but and fully deserved their ultimate victory.

Quite frankly we played with one hand tied behind our back given the lack of incision from our midfield where Woods and McEachran duplicated each other and never gelled as a partnership and Judge provided our only consistent threat but cannot always be expected to do everything on his own.

As has been the case for several months now we do not possess a forward worthy of the name and the Charlton penalty area resembled a cordon sanitaire so seldom did we get players into it.

This sad and sorry state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue, nor can the remainder of the season be allowed to drift away. Not only is this situation patently unfair and unacceptable to supporters who pay good money and quite reasonably expect some level of entertainment and effort in return, and are now justifiably feeling shortchanged, we are also beginning look at the clubs below us with apprehensive looks.

When we lost last month to the likes of Brighton, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby, the exhortation was for patience until we played Wolves, Rotherham and Charlton and then the points and performances would follow. Well those games have now come and gone and bar one bright spark when we hammered a Wolves team which played as if it was tranquillised, we have now lost comfortably and deservedly to two of the relegation favourites without putting up much of a fight. This is not how we expect a Brentford team to perform.

What happens now and where do we go from here? We all deserve some answers. Not because we are spoiled and have massive expectations but quite simply because the squad is patently far too weak and thin and with injuries again biting is now struggling to hold its head above water.

We all know and mostly accept the reasons why the squad has been diminished and denuded without any replacements, but we expected the remaining players at least to be competitive and to provide a reasonable and realistic level of competence, entertainment, effort and results for the remainder of the season before the necessary squad strengthening can take place, not too much to ask for, surely, but the wheels have now come off and Dean Smith is, perhaps unfairly, coming under growing pressure from supporters who are now losing patience and looking for a scapegoat.

That being said he appeared to be be a man in despair in his post match interview and one who was struggling to find the answers to the multitude of problems that currently face him.

Rather than play the blame game I would rather be constructive and look for answers, explanations and firm promises for the immediate and mid-term future as I am extremely concerned at the moment.

I have therefore contacted the Brentford Co-Director of Football, Phil Giles, who responded quickly and courteously and has agreed to meet me next week when I hope to get the answers to some of the questions that we would all like to ask him.

In that regard I have already sent him a comprehensive and voluminous list of question, not that I expect the answers to all of them given the limitations of time and the dictates of commercial confidentiality, but I shall report back on what I am told at our meeting and Phil has also agreed to provide some written answers which will be published as an article as soon as I receive it.

Here are the questions that I have posed and please let me know if there is anything else that you would like me to put to him when we meet:

  • How did a Maths & Stats graduate and a PhD from the University of Newcastle end up as Co-Director of Football at Brentford FC?
  • How much of your time is spent working with the club as opposed to Smartodds?
  • What is the division of roles between yourself & Rasmus Ankersen?
  • Roughly what proportion of his time is spent working for Brentford FC?
  • The role of the new breed of executive versus the traditional “football man” – discuss
  • Dealing with agents and rapacious clubs – are Brentford considered a soft touch or worthy adversaries?
  • How much contact do you have with your peers at other clubs?
  • How is the club now regarded by the rest of the football world?
  • “We look to be stronger after every Transfer Window” – please discuss with reference to the January 2016 Transfer Window?
  • How do you manage expectations amongst supporters who were told that any finish below fifth would be a comedown from last season?
  • What would be realistic expectations for the club until we move to Lionel Road
  • In retrospect was 2015 an annus mirabilis or a massive missed opportunity?
  • How can we possibly hold onto our prime assets when they are offered more money elsewhere or persuade the likes of Button and Bidwell to buy into us and resign?
  • Try before you buy a la Bidwell & Forshaw. Why have we stopped using this successful policy re loanees?
  • What is our relationship like with the top Premier League clubs?
  • What is your strategy for recruitment for the summer (within reason!)?
  • How much say will Dean Smith and Richard O’Kelly have in player recruitment both in terms of identifying targets and wanting to sign them?
  • Who has the final say?
  • FFP and its effect on us
  • How can a team with our financial constraints find and afford flair players who can make and/or score goals?
  • Please discuss our three strikers and how they fit into the current style of play?
  • Jota – discuss
  • How much of a gamble is it signing players from lower divisions at home and abroad e.g. Woods & Gogia
  • How attractive a proposition is Brentford FC for
  1. Young players from lower divisions
  2. Experienced Championship players
  3. Players from the EEC & beyond
  • What are the minimum expectations and KPIs for you and the club for the remainder of the season?
  1. Win as many matches as you lose
  2. Remain competitive
  3. Stay out of the relegation dog fight
  4. Continue to play the Brentford Way
  5. Bed in the new signings from abroad
  6. Persuade Button and Bidwell to resign
  7. Complete a recruitment list for next season
  • How would you respond to supporters who are feeling let down, confused & disappointed at the moment & will soon be asked to buy season tickets for next season?
  • Getting transfers over the line – discuss
  • Undisclosed fees. I understand why you favour them but they are the bane of our lives – discuss
  • What will it take to bring about a change in policy and for you to bring in loanees this month?
  • Where can you find loan players now who can add value to the team?
  • I appreciate that there is a review being conducted, but why has the Academy so far failed to produce a home-grown first team squad player?
  • Has the loss of some well-regarded Academy coaches had a detrimental effect?
  • Why do non-playing first team squad players rarely play in Development Squad fixtures?
  • Can you talk us through the process from acknowledging a need to signing a player i.e. how did we go from knowing we would lose Odubajo to signing Colin?
  • How advanced and complex is the proprietorial analytical data we use to identify and recruit players compared to the likes of Wyscout & Opta etc?
  • In reality how much does our approach really differ from most other clubs nowadays?
  • Can you explain the process by which we combine analytical and physical scouting?
  • Matthew Benham has stated that a player should be watched 100 times. How often do we watch potential players as opposed to watching DVDs and film clips?
  • What sort of physical scouting network do we possess or plug into?
  • How many analysts support yourself and Rasmus?
  • How do you evaluate players in terms of their character and likelihood to settle in the UK?
  • Do we have a constantly updated list of potential and VIABLE prospects from around the world?
  • How far down the pyramid do we analyse players and teams?
  • How happy are you with the 2015 batch of signings in terms of their current performance levels and were some thrown in prematurely?
  • Is it getting more difficult every year to recruit well?
  • What signing and sale have given you the most satisfaction?
  • What lessons were learned from the Marinus recruitment process when it came to appoint Dean Smith?
  • What qualities does Dean Smith possess that makes him the ideal manager for Brentford FC?
  • What are the benefits to Brentford of the association with FC Midtjylland?
  • We have sent them Moore and O’Shaugnessy, when will we receive one of their players on loan or a permanent basis?
  • Why so many injuries this season – coincidence or happenstance?
  • Scott Hogan – what can or should we expect or hope for?
  • When will we take the Cup competitions more seriously?
  • Is a box-to-box player with footballing and tackling ability on the agenda for next season?


53 thoughts on “Time For Some Answers! – 6/3/16

  1. A brilliant summary of the feelings and questions many of us have. I would only add to your voluminous list:

    What did Lee Carsley do – with the same group of players – to get performances, that Marinus and Dean Smith have not been able to do?

    Thank you, as always, for your incisive blob.


  2. Maybe another question to be asked. Where is Cliff Crown on matchdays ? A few weeks ago,pre kick off, he was everywhere.Strolling about the Braemar forecourt, in and out of the Hospitality suite,walking up and down the touchline with a broad grin.I haven’t seen him at the last few home games. Not saying he hasn’t been there,.just haven’t seen him.Or has he joined the shadowy figures of our two Dofs and gone into hiding to let Dean Smith take the flak. .


  3. Another great blog Greville and Mr Giles has a lot of pertinent questions to answer there. Out of interest, why did you contact Giles and not Ankersen?


  4. great questions greveille just hope they give the answers the fans have a right to know thou once again i was not there yesterday and still come back to what i have said so many times this season we lose yes but the players should at least try in respect of the shirt and the FANS relegation could come more quickly than we think


  5. I am a season ticket holder living in Lancashire.Every home match is a 500 mile round journey and a cost of £80/90.First went in September 1961 and have been through all the many bad times as well as the few good.Was at Birmingham,Rotherham and Sheff.Weds recently.I made the decision not to go yesterday because watching this team is so depressing.If the players cannot be bothered,why should I?I predicted that we would lose yesterday.Like many others who watch every week I am not a football expert but every week we see the same players make the same mistakes and see the lack of urgency and pride they exhibit.I don’t blame Smith for this as he has been handed a very difficult situation;it is Giles and his part-time helper who must answer the questions.I do not care a stuff about FCM but worry that M.B.’s focus might have switched.I cannot imagine that he is happy with what is happening now.Without him we have no future though.
    I just hope that yesterday will focus minds and will represent the lowest point of a forgettable season;if not,and if we carry on like this,we are definitely in a relegation scrap.


  6. Another great incisive blog, Greville – and look forward to some of the questions you have asked getting answered honestly and fully. Yes, last season was a brilliant one for us, and fully accept after 52 years of supporting the Bees that we cannot have it like that every year. However, there is still the expectations that life will not always be going from high peaks to low troughs. A few weeks ago I thought that we had enough points to stay safe for this year: after yesterday’s performance, I’m not quite so confident. We have lost too many players without adequate replacement. It is not just the persistence in playing the lone striker that concerns me: there is the lack of an effective midfield. Whilst I was never Douglas’ biggest fan, and obviously he is approaching the twilight of his career, an attacking midfielder is good to see. Equally, Toumani’s departure has left a gap in the defensive midfield – again, he could be on occasion annoyingly erratic but this was rare. It was interesting to hear comments in the stand yesterday about how much we miss him coming from people who were often vociferous critics of him in the past – you don’t know how good someone is until they go.

    Fully appreciate that players will come and players will go, but feel that far too many have gone without adequate replacement – and that is one of my biggest concerns.

    Also feel that Dean Smith has not won the support of the supporters like the previous few managers – we used to regularly hear the chants of “Uwe, Uwe give us a wave”, “Warburton” and even “Marinus” – but how often do we hear anything sung about Dean?

    At the end of the game yesterday I joked as to whether anyone wanted my ticket for the QPR game. By the time I managed to get home just after 2100 last night I was still thinking the same. However, after thawing out overnight I know that I will still be there next Saturday, but desperately hope that the performance is significantly better than yesterday.


  7. Firstly I am pleased to hear that Phil Giles has responded so quickly & courteously to you.It was something he has failed to do for me despite 2 letters in the last couple of weeks!
    That said I applaud you for pinning him down on behalf of all concerned & compiling such an exhaustive list of questions.
    Apologies if I missed them but 2 questions I would add are ;1, How can the loss of Tarkowski,Diagouraga & Jota not have resulted in experienced loanees being sourced in this current window & 2,What his take on the elusive young Scot that is the mythical Lewis Mac cleod.
    I await your feedback from what promises to be a very interesting meeting.
    Thanks again for pursuing the answers.


  8. Something is very wrong at Brentford, and without taking any pleasure in it, some of us have felt this for a long while now. An air of complacency set in at the turn of the year, leaving the squad short in strength, character, quality in this unforgiving division – which is relentless right up to the last game. We could yet pay a very heavy price for this complacency – friends our predicament is that serious.

    You’d have to write a book to pick over that performance yesterday – it was that bad – Smith’s pre match “start on the front foot” quote in tatters after 20 seconds. Even our superb keeper has got the “yips”, gifting their winner with a soft punch – we are unable to dig in and take a few scruffy draws and that is what alarms me most in this bad run. A glaring problem for us is the lack of pace in the squad – it’s a big part of why we lost yesterday.

    It is decent of Phil Giles to respond to you Greville, it seems as though he and Smith are at least fronting up, our other DoF seems to have gone missing. When the going gets tough and all that.

    My questions to PG would be all about the balance of the squad and the rationale behind the signings made this season. Why sign 3 forwards who are unable to play in our lone striker role? Why have we lost and not replaced our powerful, pacy players? We have no width or an outlet, even hapless Charlton had this. I’d also ask how the summer recruitment process will be handled, assuming we stay up, is DS being given more input and say on this than Marinus was?

    Yesterday was the day that even some of the most positive people I know are starting to accept that we’ve made a real mess of things, and wonder where our next point will come from. It’s backs against the wall time – all we can do is to get to QPR and try to do our bit, all of the staff need to respond this week and “man up” a bit.


  9. That looks like a very long interview. I don’t think I can come up with any better questions, but I think you probably need to come up with a prioritised list and focus on the most important questions, so you can drill down, rather than skate across the top.

    My own concerns are to find out what the attitude is amongst the BFC management. Is it “We are altering course to the South to avoid the icebergs”, or are they just re-arranging the deck-chairs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A great blog,Greville, in more senses than one. How will Phil Giles find the time to to give comprehensive answers to all the questions you pose- and look for possible new and better recruits? I eagerly await his responses At the risk of being accused of stating the blindingly obvious.I am convinced that our performances will not improve until our expert recruiters secure the services of a “striker” who can actually score goals! What a joy it would be if Scott Hogan was able to play alongside him.It might just take us back to the halcyon days of Francis and Towers or Forster and Taylor. I am a born optimist!!


  10. Thanks for another good blog Greville. Quite a list of questions! If these will be properly dealt with, then you’ll have a fairly lengthy meeting.

    Clearly yesterday was as bad as it can get right now. You can do no worse in a league game than lose at home to the team occupying bottom place. However, whether we’re on a downward spiral will tell how much worse it can get.

    Not a specific question but one troubling observation which you might be able to build into your discussion. Did you look at the players before kick off yesterday? My friend remarked “their body language is all wrong, they just don’t look like they want this”.

    You know, he was right, it was definitely visible. The contrast with the Charlton players was there to see. Charlton, with an unpopular owner & club in turmoil – Brentford with a fan owner, generally well-regarded.

    Surely the players should at least come out looking like they can’t wait for the game to start? You can have the worst group of players, with a bad owner but still come onto the field highly energised.

    So the events of the first minute only seemed to verify all was absolutely not well in how the players were prepared.

    Still very reluctant to become too critical of our head coach – but when this is coupled with the obviously ineffective substitutions & too many long balls, which we invariably lose … there are more serious concerns now.

    One word on the set up & substitutions – I think Woods, Swift & McEachran are all good players. But not all 3 together. Many prefer McCormack at right back but I prefer him in midfield & if he’s fit enough to be on the bench then he should have come on first for Woods. By the 60th minute. Saunders for Canos? OK perhaps this was due to the card but you can’t take a player off just because he has a yellow card. He didn’t seem to be raging, or losing his head, so do not know why he had to go off. All threats down the flank were eliminated at that point.

    DS has proved himself under different circumstances elsewhere & perhaps he deserves the time to settle. But this is a damaging experiment if he simply not competent for this level of football.

    None of us wants to see much more of this. We have no divine right to win but we expect the team to come out, champing at the bit to go & players to know how the team is expected to play & how they are a part of that.

    Maybe what we need to get things going again is a local derby against a team which fires everyone up? Perhaps we have one of those soon…


  11. Greville. It’s great you are asking questions. Can you ask if the BFC board are asking the same questions – and more? After all they are the people with the responsibility and authority to improve things. Are they happy with the answers they are getting? Are they doing anything?


    • You beat me to it David.

      Greville is on the Bees United board which is now eleven strong. Should not these questions or at least some of them have been asked certainly weeks ago of the BU reps on the BFC board and asked if they be raised at the next BFC board meeting and return with the answers.


  12. Spot on as always with your observations and questions Grev. Good luck in trying to get some answers from Giles. It is long overdue for him and Ankerson to break their wall of silence and front up with some explanations on the current state we find the club in and their proposed actions to improve things both short term and long term. Can’t help feeling though that instead of a private meeting with yourself Giles and his cohort should be addressing these concerns to all of us publicly at a fans forum. I have little confidence in either of them to be honest.


    • While I fully agree that we ALL have the right to be as fully informed as possible, I cant help but feel that an open meeting would just descend into a shouting match and cause even more damage, if that is possible.


  13. Excellent post. I always come here to get a more balanced view, and I often find that it helps me realise things are not as bad as the post match trauma would suggest.

    Question to pass on:

    Is the overall target of premiership football in 5 years (I think that’s the number that was used) still feasible?

    Why should I and many others renew season tickets, given that the football we play currently resembles nothing of last season quality?

    Will we see that exciting brand of high intensity attacking football again at Brentford, or are we now condemned to sideways passing and irrational long balls to players who have a poor first touch and can’t head?


  14. Confidence/belief and momentum
    The fundamentals of sport are being missed by the senior management at Brentford. Sport is part ability and part confidence, we can argue the percentages and yes it’s different between team sports and individual sports, but it’s still critical. We have all seen players perform completely differently when they move clubs or when a new manager comes in – both positively and negatively. With confidence comes momentum and with momentum comes success – Brentford last season are a very good example of that. Bournemouth is another, they have not allowed their confidence to be eroded in the premier league and hopefully they will stay up – proving that clubs like Brentford can also do the same. Equally and sadly the opposite is true. Brentford look like a team with confidence, they look out of their depth and while not in free-fall, not far off it. There is a tipping point, and it’s close. Personally I would like to see some fresh faces brought in on loan, a hardened midfielder and a striker who can hold up the ball (and score goals!).
    Do the club realise the impact of this loss of confidence on the players and the fans? It will take months not weeks, and if they are not careful years not months. Lose confidence and you lose. Full stop.


    • That’s a team without confidence! Typing and playing without confidence!

      Confidence/belief and momentum
      The fundamentals of sport are being missed by the senior management at Brentford. Sport is part ability and part confidence, we can argue the percentages and yes it’s different between team sports and individual sports, but it’s still critical. We have all seen players perform completely differently when they move clubs or when a new manager comes in – both positively and negatively. With confidence comes momentum and with momentum comes success – Brentford last season are a very good example of that. Bournemouth is another, they have not allowed their confidence to be eroded in the premier league and hopefully they will stay up – proving that clubs like Brentford can also do the same. Equally and sadly the opposite is true. Brentford look like a team without confidence, they look out of their depth and while not in free-fall, not far off it. There is a tipping point, and it’s close. Personally I would like to see some fresh faces brought in on loan, a hardened midfielder and a striker who can hold up the ball (and score goals!).
      Do the club realise the impact of this loss of confidence on the players and the fans? It will take months not weeks, and if they are not careful years not months. Lose confidence and you lose. Full stop.


  15. Greville, wonderfully insightful as usual, thank you. In addition to the recommendation to prioritise the list, my question is what the plan is, if there is one now given the scale of the task and extent of the changes needed, to ensure we hit the ground running for the start of the next season? We are all resigned to the fact that this season is over now but we all bed some confidence that the powers that be have this under control. Good luck with Phil.


  16. Well written as always Greville. I will look forward to your update very soon.
    Just one question, how is it that one man is able to get a squad to give a performance and another can’t get the same players to fight their way out of a wet paper bag? A loss of the dressing room methinks? !


    • I think to be fair, David, it’s that intangible ‘something’ that some managers seem to have and others apparently don’t. The best examples are people like Clough and Mourinho, I suppose – although even Mourinho apparently lost the dressing room this season, which led to his demise at Chelsea.


  17. David Matthews hit the nail on the head about Carsley and Smith. I just don’t understand it either.

    I don’t want to see Smith scapegoated. The players have to accept responsibility for their shortcomings. The way things are, apart from Judge, I can’t see why any club would want to sign any of our other players based on current performance, work rate, attitude.

    Circumstances are such for me that I haven’t been to the last two home games, and will also be missing the next one. I can’t say I am missing going to be honest.


  18. Brilliant Grenville as usual. My first thought is Mr Giles the right person to answet such important questions. 3ru What real authority does he have to answer you, or is he just the one to sit in front of your gun. If only you could put the same questions to Mr BENHAM and then we might get the facts. As someone previously mentioned he is a statistician not a football man with experience. Last week I watched 60 minutes of Scot Hogan in the development game. He has the perception to anticipate a through ball by his movements but alas only one Bees player realised this. Please let’s have him on the bench soon at least to lift the squad and get him back in bit by bit. He says he is fit and definitely looked it. But what do I know? I’ve only being watching Brentford for 70 years

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Greville… your article and questions are absolutely on the button.
    It has spawned some intelligent and reasoned responses too.
    Just one thought though – Should it not be Matthew Benham answering those questions as he hired Messrs Giles and Ankersen?
    Not really fair on Giles to take the flak alone, just as it’s unfair for people to judge Dean Smith on a side that he has had no say in developing.
    To those above who say Carsley got more out of the same players, that is selective thinking. Carsley had a quality centre back in Tarkowski and an effective, gangly pain in the arse play breaker and starter in Diagouraga.
    Not going to rant on but to my mind failing to sign any replacements in January has created a destructive mindset at the club. If you tell your office profits don’t matter until the next financial year, the team will cruise.


  20. Great post, Greville and well done for getting time with Phil Giles. As per my tweet to you last night, I feel we need some kind of comment or statement from the club this week, so hopefully this will go some way to achieving that.

    Lots of frustrated supporters out there and a few worried glances down towards the foot of the table. MK Dons picked up another win yesterday, as did Rotherham (and Charlton!) Thankfully Bristol City continue to be erratic and Bolton seem doomed. I still believe we’ll stay up with 52 points, but think it’s asking too much of Alan Judge to do it on his own. We desperately need to bring a striker in on loan, ideally before the Blackburn game. I think it could work wonders and give the squad a boost – not to mention the fans.

    Yesterday was very odd. I thought it would be a stern challenge, given Charlton’s desperate need of the points, but I also thought we’d be up to it. Lots of poor performances all over the pitch really and a general malaise about the whole team. For me, the lack of bite in centre midfield was hugely costly. Hopefully Macormack will start at QPR. Who knows – perhaps we’ll get an unlikely win there and it will be the catalyst to revive our fortunes and get us over the line. But I won’t hold my breath.

    Again I go back to my point about formations from a week or two ago. What harm could it do to try out 3-5-2 against QPR and Blackburn? God knows we could do with an extra central defender to help shore things up. And maybe if Vibe and Djuricin can support each other, they won’t feel so isolated and might actually find the back of the net.

    I realise that it will probably take a lot more than a new formation to start to turn things around for us, but after 8 defeats in 11 matches, surely a new formation is at least worth thinking about?


  21. Grenville (and the many other intelligent and constructive replies)

    Good luck with your meeting with PG. Like many others I have been supportive of the team, the players and the management. Yesterday really stretched my tolerance though. I didn’t like the boos at the end and noticed for the first time that Judgey didn’t come round to applaud the fans. I can understand the frustration that led to the booing and even more the chant of “you don’t know what you’re doing” when Sergi was subbed. It was a truly inept performance from players we have all seen play well at this level (although too many are inconsistent).

    I am still 50/50 as far as Dean Smith is concerned. The thing that gives me hope is that it takes time to make the jump from League One to Championship. If Dean realises he is a novice at this level and has a lot learn, he may turn out be have been a good second choice (remember we made two formal approaches to Swansea for Clotet). What I don’t like is this apparent habit of preparing a different game plan for each opponent. Last season Warbs made a point of taking all the pressure of his young players by telling them to go and enjoy themselves, make full use of their natural ability and not to worry about making mistakes. To me, the spectacle of endless sideways & backwards passes finally ended with a hoof up to a single forward smacks of a players afraid of the consequences of making a mistake. I hope I’m wrong and that the guys are just short on confidence.

    On the subject of Clotet – why didn’t we ask Lee Corsley to keep hold of the reins for another month given the precarious position that the Monk/Clotet partnership appeared to be in? Then we could have approached our number 1 target without having to worry about compensation.

    We all have differing opinions on individual players, but I do feel that the 4-2-3-1 system DS employs is not suited to the midfield players we have. Neither Woods or McEachran are comfortable in this role although I think Josh could play as the single defensive midfielder in a 4-1-4-1 which should also give a bit more support to a lone striker. However, having watched Burnley and Brighton destroy us with 4-4-2 I would rather we went this way giving Hoffman a start with one of the others to link with him. Hoffman gets a lot of stick which is unfair as he only ever gets 15 minutes and then everybody just lumps high balls at him when he actually looks far more comfortable with ball at his feet. I think 2 up front is worth a try.

    Finally, one brief comment on selection. While there are certain players who are picked every week no matter how badly they play, we have others who are ignored. Gogia has scored in each of the last 3 Development/Reserve games he has played but has had just one 15 minute cameo off the bench against Leeds when he set up a glorious chance for Djudicin which was spurned by taking two more touches than were needed.

    Let’s hope that the off-pitch passion of next week’s derby gives the players the urgency and on-pitch passion that has been missing. After all QPR also took a manager from the top of League One who has failed to set the Championship alight and after yesterday’s humbling by Franchise FC I would imagine their social media sources read very similarly to ours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just a few days ago I re-visited a concern that I had expressed some months ago when I feared that the stability of the club was being placed “at risk” with a possible consequential loss of morale among a talented squad of players.These views were contained in a “guest” contribution to this blog site.It received a controversial reception.Some followers shared at least some of my opinions but others were critical to varying degrees. Greville felt that he could agree with only a very minor part. This view was shared by the highly respected Jim Levack. Fair enough.I was somewhat bemused,however, when I read this latest blog and realised that among the many concerns and questions to be put to Phil Giles just a few were the very same concerns that I had expressed albeit in a different tone and style.This irony was compounded when,virtually without exception, the comments posted in response to today’s blog reflected those same concerns I had expressed earlier.The major thrust of which was that I considered that the quality of football on the pitch and the standing of the club in general was going backwards rather than forwards!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Peter, I thought your piece was excellent. Perhaps a little inflammatory, but excellent none the less. Many of your points are points I myself would be making – but I don’t particularly like confrontation and am not thick-skinned enough to invite criticism onto myself! I made a comment many months ago about things at Brentford resembling a ‘soap opera’ this season – a bit of a throwaway comment and not, in my opinion, particularly offensive or damning to the powers that be. However, I took a bit of a hit for that from one of Greville’s more vociferous followers and was indebted to RebelBee for standing up for me! Anyway… as you say, many of us are in complete agreement in terms of our confusion and worry about what’s happening. Hopefully Greville’s chat with Mr Giles will provide some reassurance and we can get in a striker on loan before we play Blackburn.


      • Re my comment above.The statement just a few(of my concerns) etc should have read “many”. instead of “few”. My apologies for the confusion. I hope everyone will now have a clearer understanding of the point I was trying to make.


    • Good points. Agree 100% about the formation thing. 4-2-3-1 simply isn’t working at the moment. I think at least at home we need to start on the front foot – especially against the likes of Charlton. Whatever happens next Saturday, it would be good to see two centre forwards fed by two recognised wingers. On that point I also agree with what you said about Gogia. Why isn’t he being given a chance? He seems to be doing really well for the development squad. On the few occasions I’ve seen him this season he does seem to possess a bit of pace – which is something else we desperately need.


      • Agree mate – 1 up front from the 3 available forwards isn’t working at all, and it’s a huge ask for Hogan to come in and save the day. My fear with trying the 2 up front option is that we may see our already over run midfield under even more pressure. We really do need to try to bring someone in to help.

        Otherwise at Rangers i’d probably go with Vibe and try to get Alan Mac in from the stert, to hold and free someone up to push on and give more support. We have to try to cut out the poor goals we concede 1st, then build from there.

        With Mac returning from a long lay off it is surprising that DS didn’t use him on Sat, with one eye on the game next week.


  22. Opinion moves quickly around football, and results good or bad often mask the other things happening across a club. After Saturday a lot of Bees fans will have taken a significantly more negative stance on the happenings at our club. Peter’s blog shone a light on some of these things and the hard hitting elements will seem different to many today.

    I fear something has seriously gone awry at Brentford, complete supposition on my part but all is not well and it goes far deeper than the on pitch issues. Clearly the frustrating delays to the LR project are part of this, maybe a bigger part than I imagined.

    Within reason the senior figures at the club need to come out and communicate – tell the truth and try to pull everyone together – otherwise our golden moment getting to and competing in the championship will be a fleeting memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Do you honestly believe Phil Giles that you are the right man for the job you have been given? A job that involves you, as an outsider, trying to get what you want from a notoriously insider business, in which it is important to be recognised as a ‘football man’? And given for a partner a part-time foreign chairman who is less familiar with the lower English leagues and the English football establishment than you are?

    I have been fully supportive of Matthew Benham and the way he wants to do things, and still am in a general sense. But I do wonder whether we have the right men at the helm, or rather the right combinations of talents in the right positions. Up until Saturday, I had discounted Mark Warburton’s contribution, believing nobody is irreplaceable. But now I’m not so sure. What has changed from last season? Last season we had two seasoned ‘football men’ in Frank McParland and David Weir, coupled with a skilled youth coach with broad managerial experience far beyond anything to be found in English league football. Now we have two non-football men and a worthy, stolid, possibly even a little reactionary, football man for head coach.

    This combination is certainly not working at the moment, and may never deliver the owner’s vision, as it requires new ways of thinking, but within the confines of the closed world that is professional football. Maybe Dean Smith should change places with one of the DoFs (he suggested very much tongue in cheek)?


    • Mike, agree 100%. The skill and contacts of whole management team from last season is what we have lost. I have no idea what remit Dean Smith is required to work to, but I do see that our problems are in recruiting the right players. There have been indications that the club has gone for players, but failed to get them and perhaps there are many reasons for this. Quite how the director of football and the senior management, at the start of the season, conspired to get not one, not two, but three strikers who cannot score goals is quite some achievement (maybe a bit harsh, but they do not seem to be the cream of the crop). In addition we have sold players, which will always happen, but have failed to adequately replace any of them. Having watched the Charlton game, this reminded me of pre Uwe Rossler days, with a few passes at the back and then a hopeful punt upfield at which point we lost the ball. I really hope that the existing senior directors of football etc have just had a bad start, but the signs are far from encouraging. We are in relegation form and the standard of play on Saturday was at best league one standard.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. i won’t repeat most of things that have been mentioned which I’m in agreement but just a couple of observations.

    I think a good manager will look at what he has been given player wise and devise a system that will maximise their ability. There is an apparent ethos at the club that a lone striker system is the way the club should be playing. This I have no problems with, as it’s a style of football that, if played correctly with the right sort of skillful, comfortable on the ball, pacy players is a joy to watch and which we were treated to on a regular basis last year. I remember France developing this style in the 1980s when the were blessed with fantastic midfield players and were a beauty to watch. However, without those sort of players it becomes laborious, sideways passing and easily taken care of by the opposition. Therefore, the recruitment process is vital if that style is to be employed and, unfortunately, the players brought in last summer are not, at present, of a suitable ability to play this brand of fast, skillful football. This seems to be a root cause of the problems. However, these are the players that we have available and have been recruited by our joint DoFs so the only option seems to be to let Dean Smith develop a style to suit these players until better players are sourced. If he is tied down to trying to put square pegs into round holes, then we are in major trouble and the only saving grace is that there are a number of poor teams and seemingly badly run clubs in the division who should finish below us.

    The other observation is how these problems wouldn’t fester if we had better, positive but realistic communication from within the club. Lots of noises coming out last Summer about how the club was moving forward with even the bound to be mocked “big, new ambitions” but when it has come down to the crunch with relation to the on field performances nothing but tumbleweed apart from Phil Giles well versed communication around the end of the year. Regular communications form the powers to be acknowledging the good and what needs to be improved and what the club intends to do about it would be a good start. I think this would be good for the standing of the club, which unfortunately many people seem to see as a bit of a joke at the moment following on from the events of last February. There are many within the game who, because of this, really want us to fail. We need to acknowledge this and re-emphasise that we have to do things differently if we want to be successful with our resources. But the silence has become deafening.

    Lastly, we’re all in despair because we were actually given that most precious thing – hope. We hoped that we could be successful and last year we saw that it could be done, which has given us belief. There’s no way we can allow that to disappear now – it’s already rooted and mediocrity is only making matters worse. The fact that the mediocrity is now within a Championship setting show how far we have come but also what our current expectations now are.

    Good luck with the meeting, Greville, and I cant wait for the feedback.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Very considered posts all round on here – although some will still see the main substance of opinion as coming from loony fringe of Bees support. I wish it were that simple.

    Even with the current very depleted squad we should be capable of putting out a more competitive side / formation. Until i’m told different DS is the head coach and his role is to coach the players supplied by the DoF’s – we all know they’ve not recruited at all well, but a capable coach should be able to modestly improve what he has at his disposal. And yet we are rapidly going backwards. DS did say that he was happy with the squad recently and didn’t see the need for any loans, a few days later he says he needs to strengthen via the loan market. We all knew it in January.

    Only a few weeks ago new contracts were awarded to 3 players, HD has been OK at best since, NY has to play but hasn’t had a great few weeks – and SS barely gets a look in – if there is ever a time to use him it is now. All 3 of these deals look less sensible than they did a few weeks ago, unless we are preparing for L1.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Good points made by RebelBee above. That was what I was saying after our latest capitulation on Saturday. We supporters are pretty simple creatures, to be honest. We follow the team through thick and thin – and are more than happy to do so, IF it looks as if a) the players are trying b) the players give a sh*t and are proud to wear the colours and c) we have some kind of discernible game plan. After the Charlton game it was hard to see what the game plan was (although to be fair, I do think the players were trying their best). Which is exactly why we need someone from on high to come out and give us some kind of reassurance that things are still on track.

    Also good points from Mike too. I have absolutely no problem with Rasmus and Phil; indeed, their acquisition of Barbet, Woods and Colin was excellent – three really good players in my opinion. However, other signings have proven to be less than outstanding (although, granted, players do need time to settle in and hopefully next season will be a lot better) and this, coupled with complete radio silence (and the apparent disappearance of Rasmus) has led to a bit of concern. I don’t mind that Rasmus and Phil aren’t ‘football men’ – in fact, I think it does show that MB likes to adopt a refreshingly different approach to the way things ‘should be done’. The key thing for me with 11 games left is to get some kind of message about what the club is doing to ensure we are playing in the Championship in August. In this regard, I’m sure it would give us all a lift for the DoF to make some kind of statement – and show that they are as committed to the cause as we all are.

    Assuming that nothing changes between now and the summer, it will be fascinating to see which players the club manages to bring in. With a year under their belts, we can only hope that Rasmus and Phil can unearth some real gems. I’m sure the recruitment machinery is whirring away behind the scenes and that plans are afoot to seriously bolster the squad for the beginning of the 2016-17 season. As I say, it doesn’t matter to me that they are not ‘football men’ in the traditional sense of the word – but lessons must be learned from what happened this season. Hopefully they will be and the quality of recruits will reflect that.

    The final point from me regards the manager. I think we are generally all in agreement that he has been dealt a poor hand and that to lose Toums and Tarkoffski in January and have no replacements come in made a difficult job even more difficult. I was pretty pleased when Dean Smith was appointed and the victory at Deepdale was a great result. Playing a poor Wolves side off the park was also pleasing but apart from those two results, 2016 has been a real struggle, as we all know. It was unfortunate he had to face the chorus of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ when he took Canos off on Saturday, but I can understand the crowd’s frustration.

    I do think the manager is hamstrung but at the same time he does pick the team and the tactics. Whatever happens against Rangers (where personally I would be more than happy to take a point), I do think he has to abandon the ineffective 4-2-3-1 in our remaining home games and start on the front foot against Blackburn. I also agree with Peter Bailey with regards the selection of Gogia. He has been doing well for the under 21s, he is a winger and he has a bit of pace – so why is he so far down the pecking order? I don’t want to criticise the manager and I do feel for him. I just hope that in our remaining home games he puts a bit of steel in the centre of midfield (McCormack), unleashes a pair of genuinely speedy wingers (Gogia, Clarke) and gives the solitary man up front a bit of company (Canos playing behind Vibe, perhaps… or Vibe playing behind the Hoff…?)

    I know we all have our own opinions on tactics and who should be in the side, but I do think the manager needs to come up with an alternative to the existing game plan. That is NOT a criticism of him or his abilities. Rather, it is an acknowledgement that things are not working at the moment and that changing things around a bit might ensure we reach that magical 50 point mark sooner rather than later.


  27. Greville. Just checked the form league table for the last 10 games. BFC is bottom with 7 points. Perhaps Mr Giles would like to expound on the significance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And as a follow-up…what would be the financial impact to BFC of relegation?

      If the current wage-structure assumes Championship attendances and TV, etc, surely spending a bit more now on a couple of loan players to help ensure safety is a sensible bet? After all, isn’t that the general rationale for the DoFs – having someone who understands the business side of the club be in charge of recruitment and not the coach who should focus on the football?


  28. David, if you take out the successful period from mid-October to Mid-December (roughly a third of the season so far) in which we got 24 points in 12 games, if you look at the other almost two-thirds of the season we have got 19 points in 23 games.

    So basically we have been in dire relegation form for most of the season, apart from the other third when we played like promotion material.

    I’m sure even the ultra-loyalists might be starting to have a few doubts. Saturday was the first time the atmosphere really turned. As I said elsewhere, this season has generally been hugely unenjoyable since I walked in against Ipswich before kick-off and saw the state of the pitch. It would be great to have a few decent moments between now and the end of the season to dispel any thoughts of relegation, but I fear it could be a long battle between now and the final game.


  29. U21 spanked 3-0 by “Wall” today – it seems all of our sides are now playing in the same manner – leaky at the back and can’t score. It’s not gone too well for Flemming Pedersen since he took over has it.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Interesting that Kevin had even better U21 results than Lee Carsley. The reason for demoting him, and what affect it had, is another question Greville might care to ask the DoF. Also why, having signed Carsley til the end of the season, did they let him go? Was it to make way for Smith?


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