Mind Games – 29/3/16

It’s been a really strange and frustrating Easter weekend as, like I am sure so many others, I have been feeling lost and bereft without my customary football fix. I am sure that I will soon be corrected but I cannot for the life of me remember any other Easter in recent years which has coincided with yet another International Break and resulted in my having to find other ways to amuse myself.

I can still vividly remember Good Friday and Easter Monday last year which saw the nonstop excitement and adrenalin rush of those two unforgettable clashes against Fulham and Nottingham Forest. Hammering Fulham on their own turf will naturally go down as one of my best ever Brentford matches and I can still easily summon up all four of our goals on my personal memory bank and mental tape loop of great Brentford moments, but our late recovery from a seemingly insurmountable two goal deficit against Forest was perhaps just as massive an achievement as it simply exemplified everything good about us at that time and highlighted our relentlessness, never-say-die attitude and total refusal to give any game up for lost as Andre Gray’s clever turn and instant shot put us right back in the game and then deep into injury time Tommy Smith stood his cross up just above the straining hands of Karl Darlow where it was met by the bouffant hairstyle of Jota for a wildly celebrated equaliser.

Where has that spirit gone now, as we appear to have had the stuffing knocked out of us by a seemingly never ending series of body blows, some coming from out of the blue, others quite frankly self-inflicted, that have punctuated a season which promised so much but has ended up being such a cruel reality check to all of us, management, players and supporters alike. This season has been death by a thousand cuts and is still delicately poised and can go one of two ways as we now face a crucial nine match mini-season which will have so many repercussions for the club depending upon where we finish up after our final game at Huddersfield in less than six weeks’ time.

In that respect perhaps we all desperately needed and will greatly benefit from a two week break which ideally will enable us all to catch our breath, gird our loins and get ourselves ready for the struggle and potential torments or even triumphs that lie ahead as the Bees prepare to fight for their very Championship life.

We should all take some degree of comfort by recalling that we went into the last International Break in early October in total disarray on the back of three consecutive defeats, the loss of a Head Coach, the shocking and demoralising foot-in-mouth announcement by Lee Carsley that he had no desire to become the permanent replacement as well as sinking like a stone into a sorry twentieth place in the league table.

We only looked like going in one direction but Carsley apparently put his squad through a mini preseason bootcamp which addressed our lack of fitness and sharpness and we came out of the traps recharged and re-energised, a totally different team in every way, shape and form which won its next four games and went on to take twenty-eight points from fourteen games and ended the year in eighth place just outside the playoff positions. Promotion form indeed and an amazing turnaround which unfortunately has not been maintained since the new year began.

So we know that we can do it and let’s face it, depending on the results of the other strugglers, our minimum requirement for safety is probably a mere seven points from nine matches. Surely not too much to ask for? Given the run that we have been on since early January even that paltry target might seem a tough ask but hopefully Dean Smith will have used the time afforded him by the International Break productively and his ministrations and perhaps tweaking of his resources will hopefully produce the same effect as Carsley had in October.

There must be much for him to ponder on. Does he keep things as they were and hope that our luck will turn and we recover some form or will he freshen things up by changing the way that we play? He will also have to cope with an injury list that now has the names of Josh McEachran and John Swift added to it and we are all waiting anxiously for news about their potential availability for the run in. Given a likely shortage of midfielders will he decide to gamble by naming two forwards, not a formation that he has utilised previously either at Brentford or Walsall? Hopefully we’ll be able to glean some information as the week develops but we might have to wait until just before kickoff next Saturday before his intentions are finally revealed.

Our squad has looked mentally and physically exhausted and slowed down by a total loss of confidence which is hardly surprising as defeats beget more defeats and with every loss the pressure increases and self-belief withers on the vine. Players stop acting instinctively and instead start thinking about what once came naturally and they become afraid of taking chances and running the risk of making mistakes and having the crowd get on their back. As was clearly seen against Blackburn this results in a pallid and listless performance with the safe option taken at every opportunity and the ball being passed endlessly sideways and backwards with nobody prepared to put his head over the parapet and use his undoubted ability to try and make something happen for fear of failure.

There is one positive to consider in that Alan Judge and Lasse Vibe will both hopefully return to the club on a high and full of beans from their full international appearances for Eire and Denmark respectively over the past few days and that they might help raise the spirits of their team mates.

Reading the above which I believe succinctly sums up our current situation, perhaps the most important person at the club throughout this International Break is not Dean Smith but instead, Tom Bates. Who is he I hear some of you ask, did we manage to make a last minute loan signing before the loan window shut last week that has somehow remained unremarked upon? Unfortunately that is not the case, but that is another story given the injuries suffered in the last few days by Josh McEachran and John Swift which might yet rob us of their valuable services and reduce our selection options even further.

No, Tom Bates is a Performance Psychologist at the club who over the past ten years has worked with youth and senior domestic international athletes, coaches, managers and teams helping them to perform under pressure and be at their best when it matters the most. In his own words, Tom specialises in enhancing athletes’ mental and emotional performance states through creating, sustaining and improving supreme optimistic spirit and self belief.

That might all sound like gobbledygook, jargon and management speak but he has an excellent track record and if he can help revive the spirits of a dispirited squad that doesn’t seem to know where its next win is coming from then we will all owe him a massive debt.

Most Premier League footballers use sports psychology as a matter of course as it can help players to maintain or rebuild confidence, deal with anxiety or anger and keep their focus. Players are encouraged to try positive self-talk and convert their negative thoughts and fears into more positive ones. There is a sound scientific basis behind this as ideally thinking positively releases dopamine into the bloodstream which is linked to feelings of certainty and confidence and helps reduce cortisol levels, a hormone linked to stress and physiological reactions related to potentially harmful feelings and sensations of fight and flight.

Visualisation is another technique commonly used whereby players are encouraged to imagine and picture themselves succeeding in their specific tasks such as scoring from free kicks or saving penalty kicks and focusing on positive memories and recollections of doing the same on previous occasions.

Players might also be encouraged to repeat key words or phrases to themselves in an attempt to help regain focus when things go wrong or if the red mist comes down during a game.

I am barely scratching the surface as this is now a sophisticated science that has progressed way past early attempts in this field which included the notorious Romark, or Ronald Markham, to give him his real name, a hypnotist who was used by Malcolm Allison to assist Third Division Crystal Palace on their unlikely run to the 1975/76 FA Cup semifinal. Unfortunately it all ended in tears when he claimed that he had not been paid for his services and promptly put a curse on the club which apparently remains in force to this day.

Hopefully Tom Bates will be more successful in his efforts on our behalf. In the meantime I just have one question for him, can he please suggest something that will help keep all us fans calm, measured, united, supportive, positive, patient and stress free?

Second Time Lucky? – 30/11/15

So The Chosen One is now the Walsall manager Dean Smith as Brentford supporters await agog for confirmation that he will hopefully become the new Head Coach at the club.

Whilst Pep Clotet was apparently the first choice for the job, that deal could not be consummated for a variety of reasons perhaps not unconnected with the current uncertainty at Swansea as well as the total cost of the package required to bring him to Griffin Park.

It is important to say up front that second choice does not mean second best as I understand that the club would be more than delighted if either candidate decided to take up the challenge.

So whilst we wait for the situation to be resolved and I am sure that the cameras tonight at Bolton will be panning the stands in the Macron Stadium in the hope of seeing Smith lurking in the background or skulking in the shadows, I thought that it might be helpful if we examined his career in greater detail and looked at his background and achievements.

Smith is still relatively young in managerial terms at forty-four years of age and had a long and distinguished playing career as a no-nonsense centre half who played well over five hundred Football League games for the likes of Walsall, Hereford, Leyton Orient and Sheffield Wednesday.

He will fit in perfectly with Brentford as he played in four unsuccessful playoff campaigns for Walsall, Hereford and Leyton Orient and fully understands and has experienced the heartache of falling short at the final hurdle!

His best friend would not have described him a cultured defender but he read the game well, was tough and effective and he almost broke the heart of every Brentford fan back in 2004 when he equalised for Sheffield Wednesday in Martin Allen’s Great Escape season seemingly long after James Alexander Gordon had begun to recite the final scores after the referee, George Cain, had lost all sense of time and played on until the home team scored.

After retirement, Smith became Youth Team Coach and Assistant Manager at Leyton Orient and remained there until 2009 when he was named as Head of Youth at Walsall before taking over as manager in January 2011, making him the fourth longest serving manager in the game, behind only Arsène Wenger, Paul Tisdale and our old friend Karl Robinson with an incredible tenure, given the vulnerability of any manager’s position, of four years and three hundred and twenty-nine days.

I am sure that all Brentford fans, desperate for a speedy resolution to the current situation, sincerely hope that he does not make it much beyond that impressive figure!

He is a well qualified and respected coach who possesses his UEFA Pro License and he encourages his teams to play positive, passing and attacking football and to play the ball to feet, as we have learned to our cost in previous meetings between the two clubs.

His time at Walsall has been highly successful given their relative lack of resources, and he took them to Wembley for the first time in their history last season in the final of the Football League Trophy and he has established them in the top half of the table with the promise of a promotion challenge this season as they hover around the top six in League One.

He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the lower divisions and youth football at all levels and has brought through or purchased many young players of exceptional ability such as Will Grigg, Florent Cuvelier, Sam Manton, Romaine Sawyers, Tom Bradshaw and Rico Henry.

Brentford have never found Walsall a pushover in recent years and I well remember a hard-fought draw at The Bescot Stadium in January 2014 when The Saddlers ended our run of eight consecutive victories and could easily have won the game late on.

Mark Warburton’s verdict on the home team that day: It was a tough game and Walsall worked hard and moved the ball well, perfectly sums up the approach of a typical Dean Smith team.

From what I can tell Dean Smith fits the bill as far as Brentford is concerned. He has nearly five years’ worth of managerial experience and has gained a deserved reputation as a excellent coach who more than makes the most of what he is given. He develops and encourages young talent and allows them to flourish within a positive environment and I am told that he is good at man-management.

Smith is a great friend of Martin Ling, so cruelly afflicted by depression in recent years and he has now amended his approach to the job now given the potential risks to his health:

What Martin went through made me realise how important it is to appreciate that there is an outside world, away from football. The support network of your family, friends and staff is integral.

I have always seen myself as a positive person and you come to realise that you are dealing with the natural sensitivities of human beings. That’s why I don’t go into the dressing room after games. It is too emotional a time. I would rather wait, and speak to the players rationally on Monday morning.

Thanks to Mike Calvin and Living On The Volcano for that quote which emphasises just how thoughtful and well-rounded a character is Dean Smith.

It is quite obvious that his team respects and plays for him and he has also done a good job of managing upwards to a tough Chairman in Jeff Bonser who does not attend home matches because of his unpopularity with the Walsall supporters.

Bonser admires Smith and his achievements at the club:

His philosophy is to play good football and, regardless of the results, I think that’s how we play. We’ve stuck to the philosophy and we’re going to continue to stick to it, because it’s bringing us some success.

I can totally see why Brentford want Smith and let us just hope that the feeling is reciprocated. Bonser will probably be a hard nut to crack in terms of compensation and he refused his manager permission to talk to Rotherham when they came calling a few months ago.

Hopefully Smith will want to take up the challenge at Griffin Park and make it obvious to his Chairman that this time he wishes to leave.

Smith was fairly disparaging towards Brentford at the time when we signed his star striker Will Grigg, whom he felt should have joined a bigger club, rather than another League One outfit, however I will take that as a simple case of sour grapes as all is fair in love and war – and football too!

I am sure that nothing is finalised at the present time and that this, just like the Clotet deal, could still go either way. There are no guarantees as there are so many intangibles and potential obstacles that can arise as well as a plethora of different parties involved in any deal including agents and family members.

We also have to keep within our budget and ensure that the entire recruitment package is realistic and affordable.

There will also be the need to decide if he brings any of his staff with him. Bonser might have something to say about that as might Matthew Benham given the continued presence of Paul Williams who would surely expect and fully deserve a coaching role in any new set up. Lee Carsley’s role will also need to be clarified if it is not already decided.

As you can see, there is much to ponder on and a lot that needs to be settled before we can breathe easily. Walsall have a crucial match against local rivals Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday night and I am certain that all parties would like to know where they stand before then so I expect a speedy decision one way or the other within the next twenty-four hours.

Let’s all keep our fingers crossed!

Damned If You Do… – 28/11/15

The airwaves and social media channels alike have been red hot with activity and comment, most of it negative, exasperated, mocking and even vituperative in tone, in response to Brentford Co-Director of Football Phil Giles’s statement last night updating the supporters on the current state of play regarding the head coaching position at the club.

This is what he had to say:

In Lee’s last post-match press conference, he discussed the possibility that the Nottingham Forest game would be his last in charge. This was the expectation of both Rasmus Ankersen and myself. Lee’s comments were made in good faith based on the conversations we held last week.

Circumstances this week have meant that we haven’t been able to make the change as originally anticipated. We will continue with our process to find the right long term Head Coach for Brentford, rather than make a hasty appointment.

Lee has done a superb job since taking charge in September and we look forward to our game with Bolton on Monday evening.

This has been enough to rouse much of the fanbase to fury.

Now before everyone starts with the accusation that I am merely a mouthpiece, shill, or an apologist for the club I will make the point that the purpose of these articles is simply for me to spout off and give my opinion about anything and everything that is happening in and around Brentford FC both on and off the pitch.

I try to avoid unnecessary knee-jerk reactions and, unlike Keith Stroud and Brendan Malone, allow myself time to think before making a final decision. I try as hard as I can to avoid factual errors by taking soundings from friends and contacts in and around – and sometimes well outside – the club and I always endeavour to check my sources before rushing into print. I also take the laws of libel very seriously indeed.

Of course I am probably proved wrong as often – or even more so, than I am correct in my musings, but that is just the luck of the draw. I welcome, publish and respond to any and all feedback and comments to what I write and I am quite used and inured to readers telling me that I am deluded in what I have to say.

I have also not held back in heavily criticising the club over its actions whenever I feel that it is justified. Just to give a couple of examples: I felt that certain individuals were naive in the extreme not to anticipate that ongoing behind closed doors negotiations with potential replacements for Mark Warburton would not leak out into the media and cause the horrendous destabilisation that threatened to jeopardise our promotion push last February. I also felt strongly that the club’s initial crisis management was inept and poorly executed in the extreme.

The appointment of Marinus Dijkhuizen was also totally bungled and we do not know yet how much its impact will eventually influence the outcome of this season given that we have been forced onto the back foot ever since.

I have given a great deal of thought to the current managerial or head coaching hiatus and as far as I am concerned the club cannot and should not be criticised in any way, shape or form for how it has managed and continues to deal with a difficult and complex situation.

Here is my reading of affairs and how they have developed since the end of September and the sacking of Marinus. I fully expect however that much of what I set down is not totally accurate but it is as close to the truth that I can get:

  1. An interim Head Coach is needed at short notice and Lee Carsley is the obvious immediate candidate given his previous, albeit limited, managerial experience and the respect he has gained from the entire squad since his arrival last season
  2. Lee is persuaded to sign on for the rest of the season despite his misgivings, possible concerns about the necessary commitment owing to his family situation and preference to remain as a development coach but he is assuaged by the knowledge that the club will be looking for a permanent replacement from the outset
  3. After two initial defeats, Lee Carsley, aided by the invaluable Paul Williams and Flemming Pedersen is able to put his stamp on affairs and the seemingly terminal decline is arrested and reversed. Not only that, the dramatic improvement in results leads to Lee winning a fully deserved Manager of the Month Award for October
  4. Lee remains entirely consistent and honest in all his public statements reiterating his preference for youth coaching and that he feels that he is not ready for a job of this magnitude which requires a far more experienced pair of hands
  5. Efforts are being made behind the scenes to identify and verify potential candidates for the permanent role but Carsley’s success means that he has bought us sufficient time to ensure that a panic or rushed appointment does not have to be made and that the optimum candidate can be sourced and ideally hired
  6. Given his success I would expect that efforts were made to persuade Lee to change his mind and take on the role on a permanent basis. Maybe he even prevaricated and considered the option too, but the end result remains the same. He does not want to continue in his post any longer than is strictly necessary
  7. A short list is being considered and soundings taken and three names appear in the media: Pep Clotet, Dean Smith and Justin Edinburgh
  8. There is no smoke without fire and it soon becomes evident that Clotet is the preferred candidate. He has limited managerial experience but is an acclaimed coach with an excellent track record, particularly for a man of his relative youth, and Swansea, where he is currently employed, would appear to be a benchmark and exemplar for how Matthew Benham wants his club to set up and play in terms of the quality and style of its football
  9. The situation at Swansea, however is complex, confused and ever changing. Will the manager stay, will he be sacked? Is he being pressurised to make changes in his coaching staff? Will the status quo finally prevail? Is the Chairman willing to allow Clotet to leave or does he want him to stay? Is he looking to extract compensation for him? To a large degree these questions remain unanswered and I am certain that there have been shifting sands over the past couple of weeks
  10. Assuming that Clotet is the man and that he has passed our due diligence (it is of course entirely possible that we have changed our mind too), then it must be a difficult, longwinded and frustrating challenge to firstly persuade him to leave the Premier League and take up the job at Griffin Park and then extract him from his current situation
  11. It would appear that last weekend Brentford believed that this interminable process was near to completion and that we were on the verge of announcing an appointment
  12. Lee Carsley was obviously kept fully updated on the progress of all negotiations and therefore quite reasonably made it clear in his post match interview that he fully expected that the Nottingham Forest match would be his last match in charge
  13. Unfortunately the goalposts changed and what we thought was almost a done deal is no longer the case. Has the change of heart come from Clotet? Has his club decided to hang onto him? Are agents muddying the water? Does his family prefer to stay put rather than move to London? Can we keep compensation and salary costs down to a manageable level and remain within our budgetary constraints? I cannot provide any firm answers to these or any other relevant questions
  14. The bottom line is that what we thought and honestly believed would happen has not yet taken place. Maybe the Clotet deal is dead. Perhaps there will, even now, be a change of heart from whoever is holding things up and he will still be appointed. Highly doubtful, in my opinion
  15. More likely we are on to our next preferred candidate who apparently is the Walsall manager, Dean Smith, and hopefully we will have better luck with him
  16. Second choice does not mean second best. I fully expect that we have identified at least two excellent and ideal candidates for the job either of whom the club would be happy to appoint. For my part I would have liked Clotet for the reasons previously expressed and feel that Smith also has the experience at the coalface to do well and has a football philosophy in line with our own
  17. The only consideration is to get things right this time. We cannot afford another poor appointment if the club is to continue to progress as we fully intend. Thankfully we do not have to make an appointment simply for the sake of doing so and can within reason, take whatever time is necessary
  18. As long, of course, as Lee Carsley continues to play ball and is prepared to hold the fort until the new man is in place. I have no idea if he has set a deadline or if he is willing to remain in charge for an indefinite period as necessary. My gut feeling regarding Lee’s state of mind is that the sooner we are in a position to appoint a new Head Coach the better
  19. I would also add that we are only one of three attractive managerial/head coaching vacancies in West London and it does not appear that either Fulham or Queens Park Rangers are having any more success in getting a deal over the line than we are

I feel that the club has acted entirely responsibly in this entire process and does not deserve the flack that it is receiving from all quarters. Hiring a new manager or head coach is an extremely complex and crucial undertaking. There are so many variables that can change or go wrong. You are dealing with a plethora of individuals, from the candidates themselves, to their agents and representatives. You then have to negotiate with the club and cope with family interests as well. In other words there is a lot of juggling that needs to be done and so much is totally out of your own hands.

I am happy and content that Lee Carsley will remain in charge on Monday and know that he will be fully focused on the task ahead. I also know that the massive amount of work being conducted by the club behind the scenes and under the radar will continue until we are ready to announce the identity of our new Head Coach and I am fully confident that this time it will be the right choice.

Pep – Yes Or No? – 17/11/15

The rumours about Brentford’s potential interest in bringing in current Swansea Assistant Manager Pep Clotet as our new Head Coach received a fairly mixed response from many of the readers of my initial article.

Bill Benn spoke for many of us when he commented:

I hope we keep Paul Williams who has played a big part in the recent upturn of results.

Some, like Jim Rourke felt that his lack of managerial experience counted against him:

My comment would be is that when Pep gets the top job things have not gone well. I would suggest also his appointment as Monk’s assistant coincides with the downturn at Swansea. Sorry to be so negative!

Mark Croxford took issue with this viewpoint and I feel that his rebuttal contains much sense:

How can that be true? Last year Swansea had their best ever season – and that coincided with Clotet’s appointment.

Swansea are probably the nearest model to the way that Brentford operate so it seems to make a fair bit of sense to be interested in someone from there.

Whether he would be the right appointment remains to be seen, of course, and it’s a big jump from being the adviser to the decision maker but with a team of coaches to share the burden, maybe it would be a good move for him?

beesyellow22 expressed his thoughts very emphatically:

The situation at Griffin Park has become like a soap opera this season – it’s hard to keep on top of what’s happening anymore!

Like you Greville, I would love for Carsley to stay in place until the final ball is kicked next May, but apparently the owner does not share this point of view. I understand and appreciate the desire to get the new man in place ASAP but who’s to say it won’t be another Marinus situation – particularly given Clotet’s poor managerial record? We could then find ourselves onto our fourth head coach before we’ve barely gotten into 2016!

If Clotet is indeed to be the new head coach at Griffin Park, then good luck to him. But the big fear for me is that the players have already been through so much already this season, that to get a new man in now could have a real adverse effect and undo all the fantastic work that has been done since Marinus and Roy were given the bullet.

Let’s see what happens, but Clotet’s (admittedly youth-based) managerial record does not fill me with excitement or optimism. In fact, if the plan is to bring in a guy with predominantly youth management experience, why the hell not give the job to Mr. Brentford himself – Kevin O’Connor? He’s doing a great job with the development squad, he knows the club inside out and he is Brentford through and through. Unlike Pep Clotet.

Bill Benn seized upon the hole in this argument – the fact that any managerial change is coming at the request of Lee Carsley and not necessarily Matthew Benham and his Directors of Football:

This is nothing to do with Matthew Benham. Lee Carsley simply doesn’t want to be a manager and wants to go to other pastures as soon as the new coach is in place.

I suggest you check out Lee Carsley’s background in football management too as he hadn’t been too impressive in the short periods he’s been caretaker boss. King Kev as manager at the current time…God give me strength

beesyellow22 was quick to come back in his defence:

It is all very well talking about Carsley not being impressive but facts are facts. We won four on the bounce. The players now know what they are doing. The players are happy once again. The training methods are now working. The players are fitter and stronger. The players (seem to) enjoy playing for Lee Carsley. Pretty much the same players who were failing under Marinus.

“Nothing to do with Matthew Benham”  – this is also extremely wide of the mark! Of course it is everything to do with Benham. Benham is the driving force and the beating heart behind everything that happens behind the scenes. He is a successful and driven businessman and someone who plays to win. Hence the (apparent) decision to now dispense with the services of the man who has a) dragged us kicking and screaming out of a relegation dogfight and b) won the Skybet Championship Manager of the Month award for October! This has EVERYTHING to do with Matthew Benham, presumably hastened by Carsley’s consistent reiteration that he does not want the job.

And why the derision re Kevin O’Connor? How is he any less of a suggestion than Clotet? At least he is passionate about Brentford FC and his early results as Development Squad Manager would appear to be extremely encouraging (I’m interested to hear what your reaction was when Warburton was given the manager’s job…)

Rebel Bee then gave his opinion on the current situation:

In the main I’m with beesyellow22 on this, let’s just rewind to the statements that came out of Griffin Park when Lee Carsley was put in charge until the end of the season. So that went well then didn’t it, as it seems he can’t get away fast enough – so why did he take it and why didn’t Brentford FC just say it was going to be a very short term move?

If Clotet does join I can’t see Carsley or Williams being part of the team going forward. And what has Clotet actually achieved in the game to justify our pursuit of his services?

There seems to be a fascination with overseas coaches, ironically I’d now convinced myself that Edinburgh and Smith could be decent appointments.

Here we go again.

Bill Benn stuck firmly to his guns:

bees yellow22, you said that Lee Carsley is leaving due to Matthew Benham which is complete rubbish and a slur against our owner. How many more times does Lee Carsley have to say that he  doesn’t want the job? In actual fact he hates it and wants to move on.

Lee Carsley has done a good job and I also would have liked him to have continued but he just doesn’t want to. He wants to coach young players as he does with the England Under 19s and it gives him the flexibility for him to work on other things outside of football. I was not dissing Lee Carsley by saying look at his CV but it’s just an example of if he was on our list today as a target check out his history before joining us and you could find many negatives.

We have had an horrendous injury list this season and unfortunately picked the wrong coach in Marinus Dijkhuizen, but this can happen to the best (Manchester United for example.) You might think this season is a soap opera but I among many other fans have enjoyed some great times this season with number one beating that lot down the road as well as our performances against Charlton, Leeds, Wolves, Bristol City and Blackburn to name a few.

When the new manager comes in I expect Lee Carsley to help the transition for a week or so and Paul Williams to stay. I know the majority of our fans will get behind the new man and also expect the usual uninformed clap trap to continue on message boards.

Rebel Bee still hadn’t given up and had an excellent point to make:

Bill we know you’re not dissing Lee Carsley, but if he doesn’t want the job and hates it so much then something has happened right? As a reminder here are the relevant quotes from our Chairman’s statement when he was appointed:

“The Club has moved swiftly and decisively in order to maintain its long-term vision and philosophy. That’s why Lee Carsley has been appointed as Head Coach for the remainder of the season. Lee has shown with the Under 21s that he is an outstanding leader. His work at the training ground has been hugely impressive whilst coaching the development squad and has demonstrated he understands the Club’s philosophy and the ambitions of Brentford FC. We believe these qualities will help Lee settle into his new role effectively and quickly”.

As to his reasons for not wanting to continue, we can only guess and speculate – I don’t blame Matthew Benham for this at all, however the management team shouldn’t get a pass for the Duikhuizen disaster.

I do wonder why once again why we have managed to make a mess of this, even if it is just in the way it was communicated. As for “uninformed clap trap” – really is that your answer to anyone who sees it slightly differently? I think you can do better than that.

Bill Benn was more conciliatory in his response:

“Clap trap” wasn’t aimed at you but the more extreme stuff that has been aimed at Matthew Benham on other forums and social media sites whenever there are decisions being made. I would agree our PR has been dreadful at time over the last twelve months. Lee Carsley has never ever stated that he wanted to be manager until the end of the season although others have been quoted suggesting that for reasons I don’t know, maybe wishful thinking. It’s no secret that he gives a lot of time to charity work and being in youth football gives him the time to do that. I wish him all the best and look forward to the new Head Coach taking over hopefully this week.

As was Rebel Bee and it is hard to argue with what he had to say:

Fair do’s Bill, but there are some wide of the mark views on both sides of this. Like you I have enjoyed some great days already this season – with Charlton and QPR the stand outs. I don’t expect Brentford FC to be top six or chasing promotion either.

I love the league and I’d just be happy to stay in the division with a bit to spare. I’d just like to see us settle down with the coach and players pulling together and playing some decent stuff. And I’d like the club to communicate and do its PR a bit better, so that we don’t need to speculate so much.

I will end with Peter Lumley who had a more radical and resigned viewpoint:

Whoever is appointed it will be just another Matthew Benham gamble with little regard for the views of the Griffin Park faithful.

For my money the “dream ticket”would be Kevin O”Connor and Paul Williams.

Thanks to everybody who participated in the discussion and I think that there will be far more to say as the situation develops over the week. For what it is worth here is where I stand:

Lee Carsley was the obvious immediate short term appointment when the decision made not to continue with Marinus. Who knows how hard he had to be persuaded in order to convince him to take the job and agree to take the reins until the end of the season?

If there was any doubt at the time about his willingness to remain in post until May then it was a mistake to make the statement confirming that he would do so. What I suspect is that Lee did agree to do so, however reluctantly, but soon realised that he had made a mistake and has been actively trying to relinquish his position ever since. This is terribly disappointing given how well he has adapted to the role and the positive response that he has obtained from the squad as is reflected in our improved results and style of play.

We therefore need to make another appointment and whoever we choose will be a gamble to some extent. Clotet is an interesting prospect for all the reasons I outlined in my previous article in terms of his obvious coaching ability and the lovely football that Swansea attempt to play. How will he do when elevated to the Head Coach role and will the players buy into his approach? These are imponderables that cannot be answered.

I suspect that a firm decision has yet to be made and that the situation will not be resolved quickly.

Pep Talk – 15/11/15

JS53729436Talk is cheap and whilst all the rumours are still unsubstantiated, the fact remains that there is growing speculation that Brentford are closing in on their preferred choice to replace Lee Carsley as Head Coach. Much of the chatter is on social media but the mainstream press has finally joined in the fun too with The Daily Telegraph yesterday naming a new candidate, and one who had not previously been openly mentioned in connection with the club.

According to journalist John Percy, the Swansea City Assistant Manager, Pep Clotet, is in serious contention to take over at Griffin Park. It would appear that any leak has come from the Swansea rather than Brentford end given that Percy is the Midlands football reporter for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph and predominantly deals with the Premier League. Indeed only a few days ago, on the ninth of November, he wrote a detailed story about the current state of affairs at Swansea and revealed that their manager, Garry Monk, has effectively been told by the club’s chairman, Huw Jenkins, to agree to changes to the overall management structure of the club or risk losing his job given Swansea’s recent dire run of only one win in their past nine games. It is alleged that Jenkins has suggested that Monk must agree to bring in an experienced coach to assist him and in that regard the name of Colin Pascoe, a Swansea legend and Brendan Rogers’s former assistant at Liverpool, has been mentioned.

Now it emerges that Clotet, whose role at his current club might now be under real threat given the chairman’s apparent ultimatum, could be a serious target for the Bees and has apparently been interviewed by Matthew Benham over the past few days.

Is Percy jumping to conclusions or could there be some – or even a lot, of truth in his suggestion regarding Clotet which has now been picked up by other media outlets in Wales? Perhaps it would help if we examined Clotet’s background and credentials in more detail in order to see if he might fit the criteria required for Brentford’s new Head Coach.

He was born in Barcelona and is still in the first blossom of youth at only thirty-eight years of age. He had a totally undistinguished playing career before earning his coveted Pro License when only twenty-six years of age and took his first coaching role whilst still in this twenties at UE Cornellà before moving to RCD Espanyol’s where he worked with their youth teams. He then joined another local team in UE Figueres but was fired after only nine games as they were relegated from Segunda División B. He subsequently returned to his previous club, still in charge of the youths.

Not the most impressive of starts but all the time he was gaining crucial coaching experience which he then began to use to good effect at Espanyol before he was was spotted by Roland Nilsson at Malmö FF, who won the 2010 the Allsvenskan championship with Pep acting as his assistant. His first major Head Coach appointment then came at Halmstads BK but it ended in disappointment when they finished bottom of the table.

Still he kept moving on and learning and coached at Viking FK before catching the eye at Málaga CF where he began to make his name under Manuel Pellegrini by developing several  young players who would shortly make an impact in the first team.

Swansea City were impressed by what they had seen and in November 2013 Clotet was appointed academy consultant at the club before being promoted to assistant manager in May last year where he has remained ever since as manager Garry Monk’s main confidant and support.

Those are the bare facts which confirm that Pep has packed in a massive amount of coaching experience despite his tender years but we also need to put some flesh on the bones and for that I am going to Mike Calvin who profiled Garry Monk in his excellent recent book on football managers, Living On The Volcano.

Monk spoke extremely positively about Clotet when interviewed by Calvin. Apparently Pep was influenced greatly by the coaches at Barcelona and Johan Cruyff in particular before attending one hundred and sixty training sessions when Louis Van Gaal was in charge of the club in order to analyse the way he set up his teams to maintain possession of the ball. Closet is also renowned for breaking down matches into five minute segments so that he can assess thoroughly what is happening on the pitch and pass on information in real time to Monk. He is quite obviously open minded, thorough, relentless and committed to his role and would fit in perfectly with Brentford’s stats and analysis led approach.

There is talk that he came onto the Brentford radar last year when he was recommended to the club and was apparently considered for the managerial vacancy at FC Midtjylland over the Summer and given the situation at Swansea, it would appear likely that he might well be available and would perhaps not require us to pay compensation in order to acquire his services.

Like the majority of Brentford fans, I would prefer that Lee Carsley remained in post until the end of the season given the way that the squad has responded to him and the renewed sense of togetherness and organisation which has culminated in a series of much improved performances and results, however that does not seem to be an option given that it seems he is determined to leave his position as Head Coach as soon as possible given his total aversion to many elements of the job.

If that is in fact the case then we can only thank him for all his efforts on our behalf and for buying us enough time to make the right appointment to replace him. I would hope that there will still be a role for Lee at the club given his obvious ability but somehow I doubt if that will suit him and his ambitions. Hopefully if and when the new man arrives there will be a hand over period and given his popularity with the players I would anticipate that Paul Williams will be retained as a coach which will help maintain some element of continuity.

I am sure that this coming week will reveal whether or not Pep Clotet is the man for us. He appears to tick many of the boxes for us in terms of his background, reliance on stats and the fact that he has gained a massive amount of coaching experience around Europe given his relative youth. Most importantly, he has worked in England in the Premier League, fully understands the physical demands of the English game and is working at a club that is renowned for its excellent passing and possession based football. How players respond to him is something I am not qualified to answer.

I might be wrong – I normally am – but it would not surprise me if Pep is the man for us and that as long as he can get the players on board and convince them to buy into his methods then we might well have identified a massively impressive candidate who will become exactly the type of Head Coach that we have been seeking .

What The Fans Think! – 1/10/15

This has certainly been a horrendously difficult and unsettling week for everyone involved with Brentford FC, players, management, staff and supporters alike. Head Coach Marinus Dijkhuizen and his assistant, Roy Hendriksen were both sacked on Monday and replaced until the end of the season by Lee Carsley, whose job as Development Squad Coach went to Bees stalwart and legend, Kevin O’Connor.

On the field, Saturday’s narrow and frankly undeserved home defeat by Sheffield Wednesday was followed by a dreadful performance on Tuesday when a totally listless, rudderless and dispirited Brentford team limped to a two-nil defeat by Birmingham City which was immediately followed by Lee Carsley’s naive and unexpected, if totally honest post-match admission that he had no real wish or desire to become a football manager and would therefore be likely to leave the club once his spell in charge was completed. Comments that understandably, have not been well received by Bees supporters.

I can’t speak for anybody else, but my head is certainly spinning and reeling trying to process and assimilate so much traumatic and negative activity in such a short period of time and I have already written at length about my own analysis and reading of the situation.

Over the last couple of days I have received many comments from readers of my material and here is a selection of what they have said and their views on the current situation:

Former player Richard Poole starts the ball rolling:

Well things certainly look gloomy with a newly appointed head coach who does not think he will be there next season and a team with no apparent motivation, something I find hard to understand.

When we were fighting against re-election in 1974 everyone wanted to do their best and the players who were pulling out of tackles or not giving their all were simply replaced by other pros or even by young players like me who were maybe not good enough but who ran theirs sock off for the club.

Yes I know football has changed a lot and yes this is not the Fourth Division we are talking about, but for God’s sake just give me a team of eleven players whatever their age who give their all for the club and I cannot believe that there are not a couple of players in the Development Squad who cannot step up to the plate and help the first team. They might not be quite up to the standard required  but I am sure they would give their total commitment.

As for the coaching side, maybe the owner will admit that things aren’t working quite as anticipated and put his new-fangled approach on ice and appoint a real manager for the time being.

Come on you Bees, at least show us that you’ve got guts and will give your all. Whatever the outcome we are behind you.

Rebel Bee was more outspoken:

I think we have to admit to a lack of quality and physicality too. The team on show on Tuesday was a League One outfit at best. We seem to have signed continental footballers who lack touch and technique – the two things that you would expect them to have whilst they adapt to the more physical side of the English game.

I’m so down on our club right now.

I actually feel very emotional about it. Five years of intelligent endeavour to build something special is being wrecked before our eyes – with both things initiated by the same person.

What Matthew Benham does next will determine his legacy and our future – I doubt he’ll read my words, but just in case, please Matthew come out and speak to us, and let’s try to get everyone back on board before it’s too late.

Mike Rice was also concerned:

Last night we were a League One quality side with three passengers: Vibe, Djuricin and Kerschbaumer. We were playing another League One side who were incredibly well organised and did all of the right things at the right time.

We are ill-equipped to fight a relegation battle, but we are in one. 
I excused Lee Carsley last night because he probably didn’t know he definitely had the gig until last Sunday. I was saying that the jury was out and maybe he was a wonder coach. He would be able to turn things around despite not having any track record at this level.

Now I learn that he expects to go at the end of the season, which sounds to me like he had his arm twisted to take the job. To say that is not encouraging is an understatement.
Perhaps the owner should get in touch with Ian Holloway or Neil Warnock to hold Lee’s hand?

And get in some Championship calibre players on loan as well to replace our foreign imports who will take too long to become acclimatised, as well as some of our League One standard players.

beesyellow22 was equally realistic:

Another excellent article and the reason why there’s no point in me writing a blog myself – after all, you say very eloquently what I think most of us are thinking!

Not much to add to the excellent comments above, except to agree with many of them. Key points for me:

1. Letting Warburton go or engineering a situation where he felt he had to go was a MASSIVE mistake by the club. As much as we owe him for getting us where we are today, the blame lies squarely at the owner’s door.

2. The mathematical model should have been put on hold for as long as Warbs was with us. For goodness’ sake, we finished FIFTH IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP last season! After years of languishing in lower league obscurity! Surely Benham should have parked his new approach, kept our best manager ever and held onto Warburton for another season at least?

3. Dijkhuizen was a nice guy, but to coin a phrase, “nice guys finish last” (or nineteenth as things currently stand). He was the WRONG APPOINTMENT and hopelessly out of his depth. I sit next to a Derby fan at work and we talk about the Championship all the time.

As he puts it, it is a RELENTLESS league! Not amazingly  high quality, but you need to be on your A game every single Tuesday and Saturday (with the occasional Friday and Monday thrown in for good measure).

Dijkhuizen simply did not have the experience, wherewithal, tactical nous or, I’m afraid, connection with the players to be successful. Yes, eight games (actually nine, counting the battering by Oxford) is not nearly long enough to prove yourself – but anyone who watched the Reading match or the first half versus Wednesday will know how awful we were, and I’m afraid that when it comes to preparation, team selection and tactics, the manager ultimately has to carry the can.

4. To coin another phrase, where Bournemouth went for evolution, we went for revolution. Too much, too soon. And one area where the club really failed was in anticipating just how many of our key players from last season would want to leave after Warburton departed.

Yes, Moses may well have left anyway, but I honestly believe tha had Warburton remained, the likes of Dallas and Gray would have felt more inclined to stay too (and obviously Douglas would not have been forced out the door).

5. The question has already been posed, but why on earth has Ryan Woods been stuck on the bench? Yes, he made a mistake against Leeds, but when he came on against Wednesday he looked absolutely sensational – but he was only given FIVE MINUTES!!! To me, he is the future and we should be building a team around him.

Dijkhuizen should have shown positive intent against Wednesday, started with Woods and Canos and gone for the win from minute one. If I was Benham and had spent the best part of a million pounds on League One’s most exciting young player, I wouldn’t have been happy that my head coach wasn’t giving him a game.

I am sad for Dijkhuizen and I am angry at the club we all love so much, but I am also excited and pleased that we now have another chance to hopefully start the season afresh from this point on. Like most Bees fans, when I go to a game I want to see passion, commitment, heart and some semblance of a plan based on intelligent attacking football that primarily involves keeping the ball on the deck.

In the games I’ve seen against Ipswich, Reading and SHeffield Wednesday this has simply not been the case (sadly the only home game I missed was the only game we won). I appreciate that we have shown flashes of good play here and there, but here and there is not enough – especially not at this level. For that reason Marinus had to go and I am looking forward to an English (Irish) manager who will hopefully take the passion we all feel for the club, channel that to the players and begin to turn things around on the pitch. Even with all the injuries, we still have the makings of a good team. Let’s now have the confidence to show it.

He also commented again after the last home defeat, as follows:

Another great, if deeply depressing, post, Greville. Also very insightful comments by Mike and Rebel Bee. I wasn’t at the game and it shows how not actually witnessing it first hand can give you such a false impression. At nil-nil I thought it was looking okay, with possibly our first clean sheet of the season coming. But reading about what actually happened has only served to darken my mood even further.

The worst thing about all of this for me, are the words coming out of Carsley’s mouth. In the interview with Billy Reeves, he sounds flat, downbeat and pretty disinterested in the whole thing. In fact, he actually uses the word “detached” when asked about his emotions. He also says, “I wasn’t looking to be a manager” and “you just have to get on with it.”

What kind of response is that? If he was so reluctant to take the role, then why on earth did he accept when it was offered? What kind of example does that set for the players – to say nothing of the fans?

Let’s make no mistake, we are now in a relegation battle. We can probably expect to get battered on Saturday and should maybe write that one off right now, but come the next home game against Rotherham we need to be totally focused on the task in hand, because only a win will do.

The way I feel at the moment is confused, nervous and incredibly upset. Did Crown / Benham / Devlin / Ankersen / Giles have any idea of the way Carsley felt? You would surely have to say no, otherwise why give him the role in the first place? Did they see him as being so honest with the press? Again, you would surely have to say no. It makes us look amateur – to say nothing of the way our Championship rivals will surely seize on it to gain the initiative when they play us.

Will Carsley still be there in a month’s time? I honestly don’t think so. Forget all this “leaving at the end of the season / I don’t want to be a manager” nonsense. We need a passionate figurehead in charge who can galvanise the players and inspire the fans. Sorry Mr. Benham, but that person is not Lee Carsley.

What’s Neil Warnock up to these days?

Gary Hennell commented as follows:

I think the decision for this sacking was constructed far earlier than this week. How many of us would succeed in a new company where your equipment is broken (pitch), your best staff dispersed to your competitors and then replaced with untried temps who are learning on the job and then, to compound it all your ace sales team all end up on long term sick leave?
The manager’s fault? Hardly. I just wish Crown and Ankersen stood up and said “you know, we got this gamble wrong.” I would have way more faith and respect for that, as this is the path we have publically stated we want to follow (no harm in that) – who of us has never made a management mistake? But it was their mistake not the manager’s.

Too many foreign league so-called bargains, not enough Championship tried and tested players – a lesson learned concerning the right mix. As for Marinus, coming from Excelsior to the Championship was in my view a step too far, or maybe too early but he was also not given the right tools in place to succeed by Brentford.

Culture differences, game pace and media scrutiny make the Championship brutal and possesion is pointless if you do nothing with it.

Last weekend I listened to some clever nitwit on Sky annouce that the team with the highest level of possesion in the entire football league was Brentford – he then followed by adding “and lets look at their league position.” I did use a few unrepeatable words at the telly, which the wife overheard. The media wants us to fail at this soooooo badly, make no mistake about that.

I do still think we are in Warburton withdrawal mode (me included). I need to get over that. Be brave – stand up and say it – we gambled on our manager and came up short and we sold off too much talent before being certain of its replacement.

Don’t be so hell bent that every purchase or decision has to be totally radical because that is what the media expect of us now.

I think the Carsley decision makes much more sense in terms of his pedigree, international experience and internal club knowledge. It really is a massive chance for Mr. Carsley, who I think stands to receive more support than his predecessor did, which seems unfair on reflection.

I suppose what I really wish is that we don’t try to play bargain hunting with our managers like we do with our squad acquisitions and the Marinus appointment had that feel to it.

In the meantime I hope that Carsley can ramp up the tempo and the spirit for tonight’s game – I get the feeling Birmingham might smell blood and I hope we can get after them from the get go.

How badly does our team need a man manager right now?

His thoughts were equally strong after the match:

We need a determined leader/manager to drag their sorry backsides out of the sea of self pity and get stuck in and raise the game tempo. I travelled four hours last night to see Brentford play at such a pedestrian pace that you would have thought we were the away team trying to kill a game off. Honestly, what team in this division cannot defend when provided with over five minutes to set up their defence for a corner?

What I can’t understand is it was blindingly obvious last year that the Championship respects and fears pace in equal measure. The money we received for Odubajo and Gray confirms that. So when did we decide that seventy-five percent possession and zero penetration played at snail’s pace will return better results?

So the thought occurred to me, the statistical models indentified them as good enough – but do they play like they believe they are?

The brand of football being played right now is choking the flair and inventiveness out of the players and it is as much crushing as boring to watch, as you rightly pointed out.

Interestingly, by comparison did you know…..

I read that one of the first things that Warburton did when he arrived at Ibrox was post a big sign up in the dressing room….do you know what he had written on that sign?
SEND THEM HOME HAPPY in big capital letters above the dressing room door. Hmmm, can it really be that simple?

Some fans are saying don’t criticise or Matthew Benham may pull the plug, if he is truly “one of our own” this won’t happen, he’ll work his socks off to fix this and regain all of our trust and goodwill. If he does withdraw support then you’d have to ask what sort of a club would we have become anyway, and was the price of having such a benefactor worth paying?

He must have a hard and at times thankless task, but some communication and engagement now is not so much to ask for, surely?

It has been really tough going so far, the thrill of my next Brentford fix has been erased overnight. I am sad to admit that I will not be at Derby and need the international break to get over the last week. I’ll never give up on my team but it kills me to see others thinking of doing so.

John Hirdle also has questions to ask about our recruitment policy:

Matthew Benhams judgement must surely come under scrutiny. He had months to scour Europe for a replacement for Warburton and came up with a guy he has got rid of after eight games and then gives the job to someone who was under his nose all the time. I don’t know how much say Dijkhuizen had in transfers but surely the mass signings of unproven foreign players with no experience of English Championship level by Benham, Giles and Ankersen was a mistake. Coupled with the departures of several key players and our horrendous injury run it is no surprise that we have struggled.

After the debacle of the Reading home game, performances since have undoubtedly improved and despite rumours of training ground unrest I have seen nothing to suggest that the players haven’t been giving it their all for club and manager on the pitch.

The jury remains firmly out on the effect of the stats based system in my opinion. We remain totally ineffective and impotent on free kicks and corners despite expensively assembled specialist coaches employed in this field.

One also wonders how stats from the second division of a European League correlate with the level we are now playing at.

As always we will rally round and get behind the new manager who may well turn out to be an inspired choice, he will hopefully be helped by returning players soon.

Interesting, passionate and well thought through comments that make depressing reading at what is a pretty depressing time for us all.

Why Marinus Has Gone – 28/9/15

Today’s news that Brentford Head Coach Marinus Dijkhuizen and his assistant, Roy Hendriksen have both left Griffin Park frankly comes as little surprise. The official statements from the club and Chairman Cliff Crown are brief, carefully worded and they take pains not to use the word. Parted company is the bland and anodyne expression used to explain their departure but let’s make no bones about it – the two of them have been sacked.

Dijkhuizen lasted a mere one hundred and twenty days in his post. Appointed on the first of June he departed on the twenty-eighth of September having presided over a mere nine competitive matches. Whilst he was officially titled Head Coach, he was team manager in everything bar name and should therefore be compared against previous occupants of that position.

Let’s get the history out of the way first. In modern times the previous shortest managerial tenure at the club was Eddie May’s who lasted nineteen games in his three months in charge followed by Leroy Rosenior and Terry Butcher who was in charge for twenty-three games and Scott Fitzgerald who managed one more match.

Eddie May potentially presents an interesting parallel for those of us who are conspiracy theorists. An unknown appointed out of left field from Dundalk with indecent haste by David Webb in August 1997 at a time when the club was in total disarray with a squad that had been decimated by the sale of players and the arrival of unknown journeymen replacements, he quite understandably struggled to get results and when the repeated promises of funds to improve the team failed to materialise he was sacked along with his assistant Clive Walker in November 1997, after just four league wins had left the club embroiled in a relegation battle which they ultimately lost on the last day of a quite dreadful season.

May was perceived as Webb’s dupe, the fall guy for the previous manager who had taken over as Chief Executive with the prime intention of ensuring that funds were brought in so that the club was debt free before it was sold to Ron Noades the following year.

Are there any similarities when we come to consider the reasons and rationale for the change in management that took place today?

I have thought long and hard about matters and whilst the start we have made to the season has been horrible there have certainly been extenuating circumstances. Let’s get the hard facts out of the way:

  • Brentford have gained only eight points from their first eight Championship matches and find themselves in nineteenth place, only two points off the bottom of the league
  • We have conceded the first goal in every match bar one and have yet to keep a clean sheet
  • The Bees have won only two matches, both against teams just promoted from Division One
  • We have lost two of our first four home games, could quite easily have lost all four and have trailed at half time in every game
  • A weakened team lost by four clear goals to Second Division Oxford United in the Capital One Cup
  • Performances have been stuttering and inconsistent, we find it hard to start matches on the front foot and there is no settled pattern of play

That is the prosecution case but there is an equally strong case for the defence that more than explains away our less then impressive start to the season:

  • Let’s try and keep a sense of perspective and simply take stock and recognise just how far we have come in such a short space of time particularly given our lack of resources compared to the overwhelming majority of our Championship rivals
  • The enforced sale and departure of five leading players from last season’s squad in Andre Gray, Jonathan Douglas, Moses Odubajo, Alex Pritchard and Stuart Dallas which rendered Dijkhuizen’s preseason preparations almost meaningless
  • Last season’s team included five potential match winners and game changers in Jota, Alan Judge, Odubajo, Pritchard and Gray – a figure currently reduced to one
  • A relentless and seemingly ever-increasing long-term injury list that has rendered key players such as Jota, Andreas Bjelland, Max Colin, Philipp Hofmann, Lewis Macleod and Josh McEachran hors de combat
  • The consequent need to blood members of the Development Squad who will certainly all benefit from the experience but for them to compete in the Championship at this stage of their career is a tough ask
  • Being forced to name only six substitutes including two goalkeepers at the strongest team in the league in Middlesbrough
  • The need to bed in simultaneously nearly half a team of newcomers from around Europe who have no knowledge of English conditions and The Championship and are not being buttressed by more experienced players around them
  • PitchGate – a total embarrassment for the club which necessitated the re-turfing of Griffin Park and the cancellation of the Birmingham home game
  • The scandalous situation at Jersey Road where the main training pitches are still unusable

Whilst there have been some rumblings and murmurings from supporters spoiled by the constant stream of success over the past three seasons and used to the wonderful attacking flair of Mark Warburton’s playoff team last season, the overwhelming majority of Brentford supporters are extremely patient and fair minded and were prepared to give Marinus more time, particularly given the almost insuperable problems he faced that were totally out of his control.

That being said there were growing concerns about his commitment to an impotent and restrictive 4-3-3 formation that patently wasn’t working given the limited resources he had and required constant changes on the hoof when we were chasing games that were already slipping away from us. Lasse Vibe, a proven international striker was hamstrung from being forced to play out wide on the right wing where he has been an isolated figure, rather than more centrally where he and Marco Djuricin looked a highly potent threat when they were finally allowed to play closer together.

Konstantin Kerschbaumer was an ever present in the team despite seemingly overwhelming evidence that he was unable to cope with the physicality of The Championship and the presence of expensive new signing Ryan Woods on the bench who has been clamouring for a start.

I have spoken to many of the key protagonists over the past few weeks and I have found absolutely no evidence that Marinus was in any way shape or form, overruled, instructed, hamstrung, restricted or second guessed in any of his key responsibilities in terms of picking the team, training and preparing them for action and most crucially in terms of game management, tactics and substitutions. He was given an entirely free hand and the freedom to act as he best saw fit. So any comparisons to Eddie May are totally inaccurate and invidious. Marinus was no puppet and was allowed to be his own man.

He had bought into the Brentford project and was happy with the new management structure. He was consulted on all player moves both in and out and whilst he would have liked some additional loan signings to cover for the current injury crisis, Marinus was content with the quality and calibre of the new signings.

So why then did he leave if he was not being made the scapegoat for a series of poor results that were to a large degree out of his control? Now this is where I have to resort to speculation and informed guesswork.

Perhaps the alarm bells were beginning to ring with the powers that be because of some of the onfield tactical and selection problems that I have previously mentioned earlier in this article as well as exploring in depth yesterday.

He also suffered in comparison with his predecessor. Mark Warburton was certainly a hard act to follow and his successor needed to get off to a flying start, something that was denied Marinus.

Warburton was also a workaholic control freak, in the nicest sense of the words. He arrived early at the training ground and left extremely late. Training routines were meticulously planned and organised well in advance and the players knew exactly where they stood and how they were going to spend their days.

It would appear that Marinus and Roy Hendriksen did not run such a tight ship in terms of either time keeping and preparation and a far more laissez faire atmosphere prevailed. This apparently did not go down well with either players or management.

I believe that today’s action has been taken by Matthew Benham on the recommendation of the Co-Directors of Football in order to nip matters in the bud before they can be allowed to get out of hand and beyond control.

It cannot be denied that this is an enormous blow to the credibility of the new regime at the club and I am sure that the media will not be slow to point fingers and make fun at our expense. Such are the vicissitudes of life and we will just have to cope with this opprobrium as best we can.

Brentford pride themselves on doing things differently to other clubs, thinking out of the box and acting far smarter than their rivals.  An enormous amount of due diligence was done before Marinus was hired and he interviewed exceptionally well and seemed to tick all the boxes. However the fact remains that actions speak louder than words and apparently he has not convinced the powers that be since he arrived and drastic action has been taken sooner rather than later to avert the slump before too much damage is done.

It could reasonably be argued that this is an extremely brave move rather than a panicked knee jerk reaction and this could even be a turning point for us in what is developing into a tough season and one where consolidation is perhaps the best we can hope for rather than pushing on from last season’s massive and incredible achievements. As they say – one step backwards – two steps forward!

Lee Carsley is an excellent choice to take over the mantle as Head Coach. Supported by Paul Williams he is a known entity who has already gained the unconditional respect of the entire squad. He is an experienced and proven international footballer who can put his caps on the table and he has previous managerial experience at Coventry City. Most importantly he has a deep working knowledge of The Championship and he will be keen to put one over one of his old clubs, Birmingham City, at Griffin Park tomorrow night.

So on the surface this has not been a good day for the club, but when you drill down deeper and think matters through, then perhaps it has been a brave and correct decision to relieve Marinus and Roy of their jobs.

All will surely be revealed and become apparent over the coming weeks and months.