I’m Tired – 23/3/16

  • I’m tired of all the infighting between Brentford fans – something that is tearing our great club apart
  • I’m tired of the lack of tolerance and manners being shown by some of our supporters
  • I’m tired of genuine supporters being bullied, abused and denigrated because others disagree with their opinion
  • I’m tired of the toxic atmosphere that seems to pervade everything and everyone in and around the club at the moment
  • I’m tired of reading page after page of endless negativity, arguments, insults and vituperation on all of the message boards
  • I’m tired of reading the sick and appalling comments regarding Dean Smith recently on Twitter, some of them potentially actionable in my opinion
  • I’m tired of having to referee disputes between readers of my own blog site – not something that I ever expected to happen
  • I’m tired of reading comments accusing our best player of selfishness and of not caring about the club
  • I’m tired of being accused of being self-serving and encouraging negativity on BFC Talk when entirely the opposite is true
  • I’m tired of trolls who seek only to cement discord by spreading their poisonous bile
  • I’m tired of the attacks on Matthew Benham without whom…
  • I’m tired of the ceaseless blame culture which is helping to wreck our season
  • I’m tired of my own sour grapes
  • I’m tired of the inquests which should all be delayed until the end of the season when I am certain that lessons will be learned and changes will be made
  • I’m tired of the massive over promising from the club which has led to unrealistically raised expectations
  • I’m tired of self-proclaimed experts spouting off and pontificating
  • I’m tired of know-it-alls who seem to be taking a positive delight and glorying in our current misfortune
  • I’m tired of not enjoying anything at the moment regarding Brentford FC both on and off the pitch
  • I’m tired of not being able to persuade any of my friends to come and watch us play this year
  • I’m tired of watching a vibrant, brilliant and exciting team that played without fear become boring, slow, pedestrian and mediocre
  • I’m tired of having to make excuses when in reality we are totally underperforming
  • I’m tired of watching players who are simply not up to scratch do their best to compete in the harsh world of the Championship
  • I’m tired of an obsession becoming a chore
  • I’m tired of going to sleep worrying about the Bees and waking up doing exactly the same
  • I’m tired of this season
  • I’m tired of going to away games recently expecting nothing
  • I’m tired of going to home games recently expecting nothing
  • I’m tired of losing games week after week
  • I’m tired of counting off the games until the end of the season
  • I’m tired of praying that there will be three Championship teams even more inept than us
  • I’m tired of bemoaning just how far we have fallen so quickly and how easily it might have been avoided
  • I’m tired of waiting for a striker to score a goal for us
  • I’m tired of waiting for Harlee Dean to score for us
  • I’m tired of waiting for us to get more players into the opposition penalty area
  • I’m tired of waiting for us to show bravery and attempt positive passes rather than go backwards and sideways
  • I’m tired of the disgusting behaviour of some of our supporters at away games
  • I’m tired of the barracking of some of our players during and after recent matches
  • I’m tired of waiting in vain for a referee to do his job and send an opponent off after he has tried to cut one of our players in two
  • I’m tired of horrid abuse being laughed off and excused as mere banter
  • I’m tired of our never ending injury jinx
  • I’m tired of excuses
  • I’m tired of feeling disappointed and conflicted about us struggling in the Championship when I would have given my eye teeth to have merely got there a few years ago
  • I’m tired of rumours and innuendos that are never backed up or substantiated
  • I’m tired of our inflexibility in our approach towards transfers
  • I’m tired of waiting for Championship tested players to arrive in order to reinforce our beleaguered squad
  • I’m tired of thinking about the furore there will be if tomorrow ends without another loan signing
  • I’m tired of asking kids to do a man’s job
  • I’m tired of pointless comparisons between Lee Carsley and Dean Smith
  • I’m tired of people failing to recognise that we have a Head Coach and not a Manager
  • I’m tired of supporters not accepting that Dean Smith plays a key role in player identification and recruitment
  • I’m tired of nonstop and ignorant criticism of Dean Smith which does not take into account the problems he is facing
  • I’m tired of continual references to Mark Warburton and how he was fired
  • I’m tired of fans bemoaning the lack of news and PR from the club and then complaining when the likes of Matthew Benham and Phil Giles are interviewed by supporters
  • I’m tired of the mainstream football media treating us like a laughing stock and just hoping and waiting for us to implode
  • I’m tired of Adrian Durham and his mindless shock jock jeering
  • I’m tired of Pitchgate
  • I’m tired of us shooting ourselves in the foot
  • I’m tired of the thought of the supporters of other relegation haunted clubs like Rotherham, MK Dons and Fulham taking comfort from the obvious dissension in our ranks
  • I’m tired of waiting for the Lionel Road CPO decision to be announced
  • I’m tired of counting off the days, months and years until we arrive at Lionel Road and just hoping that we can survive in the Championship until then
  • I’m tired of being patronised and laughed at by my Watford and Queens Park Rangers supporting friends
  • I’m tired of all the moaning about our association with FC Midtjylland
  • I’m tired of all the pointless match day parking restrictions around Griffin Park
  • I’m tired of all the ignorant criticism about our set pieces which are greatly improved this season
  • I’m tired of living in fear of being hit by the damn ball in Ealing Road
  • I’m tired of conspiracy theorists spouting nonsense about Matthew Benham’s plans for us
  • I’m tired of waiting for our Academy to develop some worthwhile prospects
  • I’m tired of our slavish devotion to a 4-2-3-1 formation when we do not possess the players to suit it
  • I’m tired of reading about Jota’s accomplishments back in Spain when I want him back with us
  • I’m tired of poor Lewis Macleod’s never ending bad luck and injury traumas and feel so sorry for him
  • I’m tired of having to remind people that we need to remain united if we are to survive this season unscathed
  • I’m tired of waiting for next season when hopefully we can repair some of the damage that has been inflicted this season
  • I’m tired of writing this blog

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!

Hofmann – The Pinball Wizard! – 22/11/15

Football is traditionally referred to as a game of two halves but the Brentford versus Nottingham Forest match yesterday afternoon broke new ground as it is best described as a game of three thirds – a first forty-five minutes where absolutely nothing happened, a pulsating fifty-two minute long second half packed with incident and action and then the post match press conference where much was revealed.

The Bees had not seemed to have benefited from the international break and were flat and torpid in the first half. There was lots of passing – mostly sideways but absolutely no pace, movement, energy, vigour or penetration.

In another words this was not a typical Brentford performance and it felt almost like a practice match or shadow boxing as the ball was moved slowly and carefully from player to player with nobody able or prepared to attempt the killer pass. Our sole tactic seemed to be to give the ball to the ever willing Alan Judge and hope that he could create something out of the blue.

Forest set up in two banks of four and stifled us and their goalkeeper Dorus De Vries must have been the coldest man at a frigid Griffin Park given his total lack of action. The visitors kept Ward and Mendes wide and they created several chances for Nelson Oliveira but thankfully David Button was sharp and alert and kept the Bees in the game with a series of saves – none out of the ordinary it has to be said, but the first half was total one way traffic and the Bees were distinctly fortunate to go into the break on level terms.

Lee Carsley apparently got into his team at half time but nothing much changed early on and Brentford were indebted to Button for a wonderful clawing save from Oliveira’s header and Lansbury was allowed to run through a static midfield who waved him past before shooting a presentable opportunity over the bar.

John Swift had endured a tough day with nothing going right for the youngster but he finally put in Brentford’s first on-target effort when his twenty-five yarder finally forced the frozen De Vries into action.

Carsley had already demonstrated his frustration at what he, along with the rest of us, was being forced to endure – although he at least was being paid to freeze – by belting the ball miles in the air when it fell out of play by the dugout. Finally, his patience exhausted, he made two significant changes on the hour in an effort to breathe some life into his sluggish team. Swift and the totally anonymous Vibe were replaced by Canos and Hoffman although there were several others could could also have been hooked without too much complaint.

Suddenly the tempo changed as the Bees were inspired by the effervescent and gifted young Spaniard, and just as was the case against Preston, Canos had an instant impact, scoring his first ever league goal with a close range effort in a packed six yard box when Dean headed down a Judge cross after a McCormack corner had been half cleared.

The Bees were inspired by the substitution as Canos roared around the field pressing, passing and dribbling and Hofmann too finally provided an outlet with the size and strength to hold the ball up. He is also a gifted footballer and used his sleight of foot to bamboozle his tall markers and bring others into play.

Suddenly the Bees took control. Judge shot over and a pulsating move ended with McCormack stretching but just failing to reach a deadly low cross in front of an empty net.

Then the Bees self-destructed when Dean mis-controlled, overran the ball and tried to make up for his mistake with a lunging tackle which was harshly penalised by the referee. Dean heatedly disagreed, picked the ball up to remonstrate and demonstrate the legitimacy of his challenge and when Williams went to grab the ball, Dean’s swinging arm apparently caught the Forest substitute who went down as if shot.

Referee Malone produced the red card with Stroud-like speed and in an instant the match was turned on its head. Villain or Silly Sausage as Dean was unforgettably described by Billy Reeves after the match? Williams certainly made the most of his opportunity but Harlee was impetuous and gave the referee a decision to make, not forgetting that the whole incident was caused by his own error whilst in possession of the ball.

Whatever actually happened, and the incident was over in a flash, I cannot see an appeal succeeding and we will lose Dean for three crucial matches at a time when he and Tarkowski were playing so well together.

Jack O’Connell replaced Judge and slotted in well but the damage had been done and a Forest team which had squandered its opportunities was offered an undeserved way back into the game and they took immediate advantage when a Mills cross was criminally mis-controlled by Diagouraga on the edge of the penalty area and the predatory Lansbury took full advantage of the gift and slotted the ball low into the corner.

Brentford now had twenty long minutes to hang on, as Forest would surely go for the jugular, but the anticipated bombardment on our goal never happened. Bidwell and Yennaris were immense and the two centre halves won everything. Woods, McCormack and Diagouraga covered, chased and held the ball whenever possible and Hofmann and Canos worked hard and never allowed their defence to settle.

In short we looked like a Brentford team again and we finally began to believe that we could hold onto our hard won point. Even better Carsley kept waving us forward as he realised that attack was the best form of defence. Canos turned brilliantly in the box and his effort forced a wonderful save from De Vries. McCormack had impressed with his set piece delivery and a perfectly placed long free kick was met by Tarkowski but his header clanged clear off the post.

Forest had shot their bolt and we waited for the six long minutes of injury time to expire but the Bees had different ideas. Diagouraga slid a perfect through ball to Woods who roared through the defence, fought off his marker and hammered an angled shot which was parried by De Vries straight to Hofmann, and his instant effort from the edge of the area caught not one, not two but three defections off Vaughan, De Vries and then Lichaj on the line and ended up in the corner of the net. Hofmann – The Pinball Wizard as his effort had won the game for us

Cue tumultuous celebrations and yet another in a catalogue of late winners by a team that never knows when it is beaten.

The rollercoaster ride of a second half had ended with three glorious and unexpected points when at one time one or even none had appeared more likely. What can ever beat the excitement of a ninety-sixth minute winner?

Let’s just hope that it was simply a case of blowing the cobwebs out of our system after what was a lacklustre first half non-performance. Canos and Hofmann provided the catalyst for our recovery and we were much improved in the last half hour.

If that was not enough there was far more to come when Lee Carsley was interviewed by Billy Reeves after the match and made it perfectly clear that this had probably been his last match in charge with a new man expected to be appointed early next week. Lee then stated that he would be remaining at the club to support the new Head Coach and would also return to his Development role. Paul Williams would also remain in post. Good news indeed!

There is a lot there to assimilate and I think I will let the dust settle before I attempt to do so. I assume that Pep Clotet will be the new man in charge with Carsley staying around to assist in the handover and Williams remaining as a first team coach. Whether Lee then returns to his former position as Development Squad Manager and, if so, what that might mean for Kevin O’Connor are questions that remain unanswered at the present time.

At this point I am sure that all Brentford fans would like to join me in giving thanks to Lee Carsley who has won five out of his nine matches in charge and been responsible, along with Paul Williams, for a total sea change in our approach and performances.

Brentford break the mould and do things differently it would appear and I am sure that never in the history of the game has an interim Head Coach had such a run of success, won the Manager of the Month Award and then voluntarily given up his post despite the entreaties of the club, because it is not what he wants to do at this juncture of his career. Only at Brentford….

Thanks Lee for everything you have done and I am delighted that his talent and influence will not be lost to us.

What a day and I am sure that there will be more exciting news unfolding within the next forty-eight hours.

What I can say without a shadow of doubt is that it is never dull being a Brentford fan!


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.

Stick Or Twist? That Is The Question – 10/11/15

According to Sky sources Brentford are actively engaged in trying to recruit a new permanent Head Coach and might even be close to be making an appointment.

Two names are supposedly in the frame with Gillingham manager Justin Edinburgh and Walsall’s Dean Smith both apparently under serious consideration. There is also talk that we are considering a British-based foreign manager.

Who knows if there is any truth in these rumours and we’ve learned at our cost that you cannot discount what is being said as we are still smarting after poo-pooing and dismissing out of hand the article in The Sun suggesting that Marinus Dijkhuizen was on the way out and yet, despite our scepticism, he was sacked less than a week later when the general feeling was that he would be given more time to turn things around at Griffin Park.

On the surface it would appear an irrational decision to upset the applecart and make fundamental changes particularly at a time when things are going so well at the club. Just to recap, we are coming off a month in which Lee Carsley won the Manager of the Month Award and Alan Judge was also named Player of the Month to complete an incredible winning double.

After losing his first two matches and presiding over two appallingly insipid performances against Birmingham and Derby County, Carsley took advantage of the opportunity provided by the international break to put his own stamp on affairs and he spent valuable time with the squad on the training ground and what has happened since is barely short of miraculous.

We have played six games since then and taken thirteen of the eighteen points on offer, beating Rotherham, Wolves, Charlton and most notably, QPR, drawing with Blackburn Rovers and losing to promotion favourites, Hull City.

You The results have been sensationally good, particularly given the state of affairs when he took over when confusion reigned, results were poor and performances even worse with the team unrecognisable in terms of both personnel and style from the salad days of last season when the Bees, under the reassuring and empowering management of Mark Warburton, took the division by storm.

The recent turn around encompasses far more than a massive improvement in results as Lee Carsley, not ignoring or forgetting the contribution of his sidekick Paul Williams, can take full credit for the following changes:

  • Improving the fitness levels of a squad that was visibly wilting in the final minutes of matches
  • Making training sessions sharper and better organised
  • Totally changing the playing style and increasing the pace and tempo of our game with players pressing far quicker and higher up the pitch
  • Reintroducing the slick, quick passing game that worked so well last season
  • Switching from the 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formations favoured by Marinus to the 4-2-3-1 set up that worked so well last season
  • Encouraging possession football but with an end result rather than possession for possession’s sake
  • Relying on the proven, Championship experienced homegrown players remaining from last season and taking the rump of the new foreign signings out of the firing line where they had generally struggled to keep their heads above water

From what I have heard the training ground is a happy place at the moment and the smiles have returned to the faces of the entire squad who totally believe in their new interim Head Coach.

Alan McCormack, a player who has particularly benefited from the influence of Carsley and is once again a mainstay of the team, has been extremely vocal in terms of confirming how much the squad would like Lee to become the permanent Head Coach.

Given all of the above it would seem that he should be a shoo-in for the post given his popularity and obvious success, but there is where the problems begin.

Lee is an honest man who has unequivocally stated on many occasions since his appointment to the job at the end of September that he has no interest in the position on a permanent basis as he wants to concentrate on his first love, coaching young players, rather than becoming a first team manager or head coach, and he has remained true to his word and not once has he changed his tune or gone back on his initial assertion that the job was not for him, stating:

I didn’t ask to be a football manager and when I retired, my first thought wasn’t I want to be a manager. I want to coach Under 21 and Under 18 teams, that’s where my strength is.

In fact he has also gone on record as saying that the Brentford job is far too big for a rookie boss without any relevant experience.

Normally you would take these words with a pinch of salt and as the normal negotiating ploy of a man cynically pretending not to be interested in the job but in reality doing everything in his power to be seen to be reluctantly accepting the accolade. But with Lee, what you see is what you get and barring a remarkable and totally unexpected volte-face I cannot see him becoming our permanent Head Coach.

So what happens now? Why upset the applecart when everything has gone so well and Lee’s approach and success has bought us the time to make a measured decision about the next appointment? That is a damn good question and one that I cannot answer apart from reminding everybody about what somebody very close to the action said to me about Matthew Benham last season.

Whereas Mark Warburton’s view of life was If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it, Matthew Benham’s motto is far more akin to It might not be broken but let’s keep improving it.

Matthew Benham is dedicated to developing his beloved Brentford both on and off the pitch and if Lee Carsley has made it clear that he is not the right man for the job or if indeed Benham has independently come to the same decision, then perhaps he has decided to fill the post with the best possible candidate as soon as possible.

Maybe Carsley has also intimated that he would like to relinquish this role for his own good reasons well in advance of the end of the season and that a more immediate change needs to be made.

Those are the only possible interpretations as surely the Bees have learned from February’s fiasco and are not merely looking to sound out potential candidates now and then bring one in at the end of the season. All that leads to is chaos for all parties when the news inevitably leaks out.

The downside is that I cannot see Lee Carsley remaining at the club once a new man takes his place and to lose a man of his ability would certainly be a sad loss to the club. His previous job as Development Squad Manager has been filled by Kevin O’Connor who has started exceptionally well in his new post and I cannot see Carsley relegating himself to becoming the assistant to the new Head Coach as this would seem to make little sense for him and probably not suit the new man either. Perhaps he can increase his involvement with the England set up or seek a position as Academy Director at a Premier League club? In any case his success at Griffin Park has deservedly put him and his achievements into the spotlight.

So what happens now and who are the likely candidates under consideration? I have to say that given Carsley’s popularity and success to date I fully expected him to remain in charge until the end of the season, and that, of course, might still be the case.

I also thought that Brentford would probably select somebody who would not be available until the end of the season and ideally avoid the need to pay his club any compensation.

Both Dean Smith and Justin Edinburgh have proven themselves to be astute operators in the lower divisions and Dean in particular has established an excellent reputation for playing decent football and bringing through young talent and Romaine Sawyers and Tom Bradshaw have both caught the eye this season, as has Bradley Dack at Gillingham.

Neither Smith nor Edinburgh have managed in The Championship but either would be reasonable options, although of the two I would be far happier with Smith as I believe he would be far better attuned to how we want to do things at Brentford.

Having been badly burned once with Dijkhuizen I am certain that a prerequisite for any new Head Coach will be a sound working knowledge of the Football League and I would be staggered if we bring in somebody who hasn’t already had some managerial experience in England.

As Sky have intimated he could also be a foreigner and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, for one, has gained a flood of admirers for his work at Burton Albion over the past year and he would tick many of the boxes although he would still be a calculated risk.

I have always been a fan of Slovisa Jocanovic who led Watford to promotion last season but he has taken on a new challenge at Maccabi Tel Aviv.

We have just started a fortnight’s international break and this could turn out to be a crucial time for the club and whatever decision is taken will have enormous ramifications for the future success or otherwise of the club.

Having made such a poor appointment in Dijkhuizen, Brentford cannot afford to make another mistake and it might well be that the best decision is to do nothing and leave well alone, unless Lee Carsley has made it perfectly clear that he wants out as soon as possible.

Double Celebration – 6/11/15


October was a really exhilarating month for everybody connected with Brentford FC and their recent run of success and indeed total revitalisation after a humdrum start to the season has been marked with today’s announcement that Lee Carsley has been named as Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for October and, just to make things even better, Alan Judge has also become the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for October. A double celebration indeed!

If you had dared even suggest the possibility of either or both these awards coming to fruition to the bedraggled and dispirited mob of Bees fans as we wended our way home after the shambolic performance at Derby County five short weeks ago then you would have been laughed out of court.

Yet since that sad day there has been an amazing turnaround at Griffin Park with four consecutive victories followed by what can only be described as a glorious defeat by table toppers Hull City. The defence has more than done its job with three clean sheets in a row and there has been a return to the slick, confident one touch football of the Warburton era.

We are now safely ensconced in mid table after a plunge into the relegation zone looked far more likely and our improvement and recovery were confirmed by last week’s momentous victory over QPR.

Lee Carsley, the reluctant interim Head Coach has stepped up to the plate and after a shaky start when his first two games in charge were lost, he has transformed our fortunes and we now look – and are – a totally different team.

The players look a happier bunch too and are fitter and far more confident in everything they do.

Carsley and his sidekick Paul Williams have totally changed our training regime and we now look far more organised with everyone aware of their role.

We have reverted to last season’s successful 4-2-3-1 formation, flood and dominate the midfield with players switching position at will and we also press far higher up the pitch to win the ball back. We have also stopped taking so many chances through overplaying at the back and get the ball forward a fair bit quicker then we have been accustomed to do.

Carsley appears to be calm and measured and has earned the respect of the squad as he is a talented coach and with forty international caps he also practised what he preaches.

Of course there will be setbacks and blips and even rocky roads ahead, but we are in safe hands at the moment and his success has bought us the time to make the correct management decision without being rushed into another poor appointment. Maybe Carsley might even change his mind and throw his cap into the ring and if he did his claims would have to be taken extremely seriously.

Brentford have become a team worth watching again, with a firm sense of purpose and much of the credit for this should go to Lee Carsley who has settled down so well into his new role.

Four wins and twelve points in October ensured that he received the coveted Manager of the Month Award and his achievement was recognised by George Burley the Chair of the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel who made the following comment:

Lee took on the difficult task of trying to get Brentford back to the form of last season which he has done successfully, winning the last four games.

The win over Queens Park Rangers showed the standard of football he is imposing on the team.

Pundit Don Goodman was also impressed:

The way that Lee has turned Brentford’s fortunes around in such a short space of time is highly commendable.

When Marinus Dijkhuizen departed the role five weeks ago, few would have predicted that Brentford would be sitting comfortably in mid-table, or that his replacement would be picking up the October Manager of the Month award.

Brentford fans will all join me in saluting his achievement today and long may it continue.

If that was not quite enough then there is also the equally amazing achievement of Alan Judge to celebrate. He scored three goals and assisted in four more as Brentford won four of their five Championship matches in October. He dominated almost every game in which he played and looked a class above most of his opponents.

The goals themselves  were all brilliantly taken and comprised a controlled volley from outside the area, a darting header and a perfectly placed curler into the far corner. Charlton could not get near him as he laid on two of our three goals and showed an unstoppable combination of pace, energy, vision, passing and dribbling ability as well as the ability to shoot on sight. He missed Tuesday’s defeat with a hamstring injury and is doubtful for tomorrow’s match. He will then go away with the Republic of Ireland squad and that elusive first international cap cannot be far away as he is a class act.

He has regained the goal touch that eluded him last season and has relished the responsibility of being the main man in the absence of the likes of Jota. He is coming into his peak as a player and hopefully he will decide to remain with the club and sign an extension to his contract. It is an interesting conundrum for him particularly as it is rumoured that some Premier League clubs are sniffing around him. Should he stay at Griffin Park or earn more money somewhere else but run the risk of playing less often, and he is a player who just loves to play football.

Lee Carsley spoke for us all when he commented:

I am really pleased for Alan to get this recognition and reward for his hard work. It is something he deserves. He has been the outstanding player in the Sky Bet Championship this month and his focus is now on winning this in November, December and every month.

We have spoken internally that if he wants to be a full international, the consistency he has shown in the last month has to be replicated for ten, eleven, twelve months. That is his target.

Don Goodman also sang his praises:

In the month when Alan welcomed a new addition to the Judge family, he also finishes as the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month. His displays at the tip of the Brentford midfield diamond have been nothing short of outstanding and he has really come into his own since Lee Carsley took charge at Griffin Park.

Let’s just bask in the glory of these two highly prestigious awards to two such deserving candidates. This is the twenty-third time that a Brentford manager has won this coveted award, and only three of them, Frank Blunstone, Phil Holder and Mark Warburton have lost their next match after the announcement of their award.

Let’s just hope that Lee Carsley leads the Bees to a minimum of one point tomorrow so that we can justifiably claim that as far as Brentford is concerned the so-called curse of the Manager of the Month barely applies.

October was a wonderful month for the Bees, and as for November – who knows, but the auspices are good.

A Different League – 4/11/15

Sometimes you win a match but deep down you know that you were lucky and that the result was a travesty and a distortion of reality. I can still quite clearly remember a Huddersfield team brilliantly marshalled by the gifted Chris Marsden playing us off the park at Griffin Park back in October 1990. Luckily that was at a time well before the obsession for collecting match statistics came into vogue and the possession figures remain a mystery. Fortunate indeed for the Bees who were pushed back for the entire ninety minutes and relied on Graham Benstead and stand-in central defender Simon Ratcliffe to keep the visitors at bay. Having absorbed everything our dominant visitors could throw at us, Ratcliffe’s long ball forward with six minutes to go found Eddie May who finished clinically and we had stolen all three points.

Conversely you can lose a game and still come away satisfied at a job well done and at a more than decent performance that bodes well for the future.

Last night was a case in point as Hull City finally emerged as victors by two goals to nil but only after being decidedly second best for the entire first half to a Bees team who played excellent, slick, passing football and really should have been leading at the interval.

The second half told a different tale as our highflying visitors finally creaked into gear and took total control and eventually fully deserved their victory.

There is an old expression – never give a sucker an even break, and quite frankly, we let Hull off the hook. We played really well in the first half, kept possession well and created several clear opportunities which were all spurned by Djuricin, Vibe and Woods. McGregor made three excellent saves but he should have been left helpless on at least one occasion. Vibe too had a more than decent shout for a penalty when his shirt was tugged as he ran through but his appeal fell on deaf ears.

Djuricin also created space for himself right after the break but scuffed his shot wide and then Hull took over. They began to take control of the midfield and both full backs overlapped with menace. We were forced back and smothered with all our out balls covered and we found it hard to get out of our own half of the field. The goal finally came when the excellent Clucas combined well with Robertson and when McCormack fatally stopped his covering run, the fullback strode on unchallenged to thrash the ball past Button who was beaten at his near post.

Vibe had been replaced by Kerschbaumer to help address our problems in midfield and the substitute came so close to equalising when after Tarkowski made a rousing forward run, his beautifully taken instant volley from outside the area seemed a goal all the way but frustratingly bounced clear off the post and the rebound was skied over by Woods.

We wasted a free kick for a back pass well inside the area which caused much merriment as Hull raged at the referee for his decision, but otherwise that was that and we were left to appreciate Hull’s dominance with substitutes Huddlestone and Diame a class above anything we could offer. They saw the game out comfortably and deserved their second goal scored late on by Clucas after a short corner.

A short while ago there was uproar amongst some Brentford fans at the prospect of Moses Odubajo leaving us for Hull City who they considered to be a smaller club than us. Last night I am sure finally dispelled that ridiculous assertion.

Hull City took in over sixty-six million pounds last season from television rights payments and will be the recipients of sixty-four million pounds in parachute payments over the next four years following their relegation from the Premier League.

Their starting eleven cost about thirty-five million pounds in transfer fees and their three substitutes another eleven million. Every time they brought in a replacement (with the exception, of course of the clumsy Harry Maguire) they improved and went up a gear.

They simply had far too much in their armoury for us and we did so well to match them, and indeed, outplay them for half of the match.

By way of comparison, our team cost well under three and a half million pounds and I am sure that their wage bill exceeds ours by a quite laughable amount. No wonder Moses decided to forgo the social delights of London and join them. He will quite probably be celebrating promotion next May, his bank balance will have been swollen and he will be playing alongside a massively strong squad packed full of internationals. What’s there not to like?

That being said there was much to be happy about last night. We more than matched one of the best teams in our division for half the match and imposed our own style of football upon them. We have regained much of the confidence that was lost after our stuttering start to the season and there are several subtle changes to our approach that have become evident now that Lee Carsley has had time for his influence to take effect. We press far higher up the pitch and generally show far more energy and bite in our efforts to regain possession. Our fitness levels have gone up a notch or two and we are no longer running out of steam. We still pass the ball around in our own defensive area but we are taking less risks and are getting the ball forward quicker with Button kicking the ball more often. We are packing the midfield which enables us to keep possession for longer periods but McCormack, Woods and Swift are quick to get upfield in support of the lone striker, Djuricin.

We achieved all this last night without our most influential player, Alan Judge, and for half the match we barely missed him. Good news indeed as it confirms just how well the entire team is playing. Of course we could have done with his industry and imagination as it might well have made the difference between us going in goalless at the interval and enjoying a confidence boosting halftime lead.

There is talk that he might be back on Saturday when I am sure that he will be keen to show everybody at Blackburn Rovers that they were wrong to let him go. He will then be off with the Republic of Ireland squad for their two crucial playoff clashes. That elusive first cap is not too far away!

Like every other Bees fan, I don’t like losing games, but there is a way to lose, and last night was one of those occasions when despite the final result there were so many positives to take out of the entire proceedings – a bit like after the Norwich clash at Griffin Park last season.

We lose, we learn, we move on. Such is the way of life in the Championship. Unlike last season when we kept doing the same things match after match, many of them, of course, really good, others less so, there is a real sense that we are far more flexible now and ready to learn and adapt whenever necessary.

The future is looking bright at Griffin Park.