Brentford and Marinus – a supporter’s view of the season so far

12 Sep

Ahead of Brentford taking on Leeds United today, I was contacted by supporter Rob Young who has asked if he could share his own thoughts on the season so far. It’s fair to say that Brentford have had a hectic start to the campaign. The departure of Mark Warburton to Glasgow Rangers meant Marinus was on a hiding to nothing from some quarters before before he even joined. And then we had pitch gate. And injuries.

I’m always keen to hear other perspectives and, I have to say, Rob has put into words his feelings an awful lot better than I could hope to ever achieve.

Rob – over to you. Brentford, Marinus, the supporters, transfers et al…..

Firstly many thanks to Nick for allowing me to air my thoughts on the tempestuous start to the season.

I was hoping the dust would have settled a little since the Reading defeat and the influx of 3 new players at the end of the transfer window (and none leaving) may have ‘cooled’ the fervent negativity within our fan base. But reviewing the dreaded social media its seems the two week gap has done little to dampen the plethora of frustrations, anger and derision of the owner, management, coach and players. We are very much a bunch of fans in flux at the moment – bit like Stormont in Northern Ireland. Yes we have two tough games ahead and if we get one point from six I will be happy, but I guess many more will want a lynching if that is the end result.

I genuinely feel for Marnius, new job, new challenge and having to tread in the footsteps of one of the most liked, most successful and best managers our club has ever had. How he must have wished and dreamed for a solid start to win the hearts and minds of the loyal faithful. Only for fate and the power of cash rich Clubs see the backbone of his team ripped from under him. He must have, like many of us do, have had the perfect team in his head, dreaming of them doing the business on the pitch.

He would likely have planned a team built with one of the best Championship keepers in Button, the experienced Bjelland in front, and then Josh McEachran running midfield, Jota doing what he does best out wide and Andre Gray providing the spearhead.

View from the stands: Jota appeared against Ipswich and was then injured

View from the stands: Jota appeared against Ipswich and was then injured

To lose 3 of those to injury and one heading for the ‘out’ door after the first league game must have been a real kick in the teeth. Last season we were blessed with good fortune on the injury front. Yes, we lost Scott Hogan, but by and large we managed to keep the best players fit and on the field which played a huge part in our success.

Luck plays a huge part in success or failure, on the injury front Warbs got lucky, Marinus has not. Add Moses up and going and what Marinus had hoped to be his strongest XI was decimated through no fault of his own. No wonder he looks a somewhat forlorn figure on the side lines. Poor man must wonder what the hell he has let himself in for or what he did wrong in a past life.

I wanted to comment on something Nick did mention in one of his posts about Marinus and his body language. I have a lot of experience of working alongside Dutch people. They, like many different nationalities, have a lot of different traits to us. I also worked in Finland where I found out you were often presented with a stony silence during meetings and presentations, I thought I had crashed and burnt, it took me time to realize this was actually a good thing, they would speak only when unhappy. I have found the Dutch very friendly and passionate people, they can also be very arrogant, stubborn and straight talking but will show this usually on when on the edge. The remaining time they can be reserved and calm externally but fuming inside.

Marinus can come across as a solitary figure on match day

Marinus can come across as a solitary figure on match day

Like Warbs was different to Uwe, Marinus is different to Warbs. Different people, different traits. I recall it was usually David Weir laying into the officials and not Warbs, now I notice its Marinus who sounds off to the officials. Warbs drove his team from the side, Marinus takes a more statuesque role – that’s his way. Warbs liked a suit, Marinus is a clear tracksuit man. I don’t think he doesn’t care about what’s going on the pitch, he just has his own way of dealing with it, possibly that is in the dressing room. The fact he is not screaming and gesticulating shouldn’t be taken as a weakness, I think we just have to adjust to a man from a different culture which can be seen as laid back but is a likely as passionate and caring as he can be in his own way.

It’s only natural that people will compare Marinus to Warbs and how we play now to how we played last season. But this is now and not then. Let’s be honest against Reading we could have been 4 or 5 down at half time. But that happened last season as well. We rode our luck big time last season. How many times did we hear the ‘we’ll learn from it’ comment from Warbs.

I recall some saying ‘yes but when will we learn’. Don’t get me wrong I loved the way we played last season, but I also remember the howls of anguish of how risky we were playing out from the back, how open we were at times in our play. My good friend an Ipswich Town ST holder commented that we were a side with suicidal tendencies.

As we often saw if we didn’t score first we struggled to break teams down. Our strength was the counter attack as teams pushed to recover from being behind to us. High tempo, close passing, pass and move. It was wonderful but it all hinged on taking our chances because we were just as likely to ship two or three ourselves. Teams that did their homework knew how to spoil our game and we all know what Warbs approach to ‘plan B’ was.

Had Warbs stayed would he have changed our style this season? Would teams now we are in the second season syndrome know exactly what to expect and nullified our slick passing game? I didn’t want Warbs to go, I liked him – I liked him a lot, I would have liked him to take a chance on the owner’s new approach but that wasn’t ever going to happen. He moved on and so must we. But let’s give the new man some credit, he will change formation, he will make the substitution we may not expect, he does have a plan B and C.

Warbs - had success, even if no Plan B, at Griffin Park

Warbs – had success, even if no Plan B, at Griffin Park

We all know Warbs view was the ‘on the hour sub’, and usually always the same 3 subs. Marinus has had to juggle his pack given the limited resources to hand and until he has a full complement of resources how can we be sure of what he can do with them. No one wanted this start to the season, but given all that has happened how can we panic so soon until the team is again at the strength that was planned? Was our expectation too high from too many who have only known success of the last 3 years?

I hear the voices of those who have concerns but some of these fans have only known good times over the last 6 years or so, some even less than that. They crave instant gratification and expect we now have a divine right to be top of the league marching to the Promised Land because we came 5th, so now is our turn for automatic promotion! Maybe the disquiet comes amongst the ranks because we expected to keep every member of the squad and only add even better players to that squad.

Life and football, unfortunately is not like that, sometime you have to go back to go forward. Many of us remember the times of 4000-5000 attendances and the dodgy signings and dodgy managers and false hope and promises. We are a million miles from where we were then. Even at this current state of flux we are better off and we must never forget that or how and who got us here.

I heard people say Reading were a ‘poor side’ – I actually felt they were a lot better than last season, stronger at the back, quicker and slicker up front, they signed 11 players changed their squad and are unbeaten. They struggled last season, but so did Brighton and look at them now. We have to accept other teams will improve from last year and others will do worse it’s the nature of the Championship the toughest league to get out of. Just because we have not hit out straps from the start does not mean we are going to do a Blackpool. What right do we have after a mere 1 season and 4 games to be top?

Reading  - terrible kit; good team

Reading – terrible kit; good team

We need to allow the new team, players and management alike, to get to grips to the challenge ahead they are not blind to what needs to be done and we have to stop thinking about last year and stop thinking we are a slippery slope to disaster because we have not started like a train. I am a pessimist and even I believe the glass is half full.

The way some seem to see it the pub is dry let alone the glass! We were going to strengthen this season no matter what but I was always clear in my mind this would be a year of consolidation on our goal to long term sustainability. I would have settled for staying up last year, and would do the same this year as we rebuild. I feel the pain too readily of the last relegation at this level and I don’t want to feel it again. But those times were under a different leadership, different perspective and with a different end game.

Yes we should be aiming as high as possible and never accepting second best, aiming to be better year on year but we also need to do that in a measured way. We over achieved last year in my view, only the fate of others in the last weeks got us into the play offs and it hurts me to say but we were not good enough to go up. I forecasted openly before the end of the season that 5 or 6 players would leave (not including the obvious loan and 1 year contract boys).

I was right on a couple of names in Tony Craig and Dougie but didn’t foresee some of other players going, but was pragmatic enough to know we were never going to keep everyone and it was likely some big assets would be amongst those to move on. Berating the owner and club for the fact some on the team have moved on is nonsensical. Do people really believe Mr. Benham would invest in everything he has done so far just to reap the rewards in the transfer market? People need to understand the current stupidity of the English transfer market which dictates why you have to look at foreign players with lower cost implications for the next rising talent.

Selling Andre was a no brainer at 9 million for me, he could have been the next injury victim and then where would we have been? Look at B’muff, 8 million for Tyrone Mings, now he is out all season, Ipswich are the ones who truly benefited and got a good replacement for minimal outlay. We also need to be clear and understand as supporters that as much as we have great loyalty to our club the likes of Kevin O’Connor are a thing of the past now – players will do what’s right for them and their future in what is a short career. We always say once a Bee always a Bee – but can Moses (or even Andre) ever truly have a level of loyalty after just one season.

Personally I am relatively happy with the influx of new players – ok they may not be all home grown, but go review most Championship sides and you will find plenty of non-home grown players in their squads. We have to find the next ‘star’ by looking outside of these shores due to the costs demanded of quality English players, it is about finding that ‘star’ before someone else does. I like the current new boys, I believe they all have something to offer and once they have settled I am sure things will click and players who are being berated currently will ultimately prove to be of great benefit.

Some may not make it we have to accept that but plenty will. It was interesting to see much being made of the signing of Ryan Woods – “at last an English player” was one comment I saw. I retorted that as long as he can do the job, gives 100% and wears the shirt with pride does his nationality matter? It was mentioned back to me the importance of an Englishman who knew the nature of our game…and who speaks the language. I have no doubt Ryan is an excellent signing, I am excited about him joining but the lad no matter how good he is has league 1 and 2 experience to date, the pace of Championship football is vastly different as those who have come from overseas are finding. I just hope we are not thrusting too much expectation from day one because he is English.

Ryan Woods  - now a Bee, regardless of nationality

Ryan Woods – now a Bee, regardless of nationality

The comment about the pace of the Championship and someone speaking English was I thought interesting. I made an assumption that the correspondent was openly taking a pop at KK – who to be fair has loads of energy but still needs to find his feet. I have seen enough to think he will make the grade. But let’s also be honest and say he was surely going to be a backup midfielder to McEachran. If KK was the player being targeted to be replaced by our English style midfielder let’s not forget Toums was at the heart of the team versus Reading, someone to has played in England for many seasons with plenty of experience of both Championship and League 1, who speaks English perfectly yet was totally off the pace and looked out of his depth.

I think Toums has looked a shadow of the player he was last season, someone commented to me he was back to his pre-Portsmouth loan form, I had to agree. Some said he was missing Dougie, to me he looks to have lost confidence and his composure on the ball – can this be because Douglas has gone, if so I think that a weak excuse, he should be stepping up and being the most experienced on the pitch taking the lead. I thought his removal was the right thing to do, too often he was in no man’s land and Macca gave us a better bite and tenacity.

Talking of Dougie, and I know there are many who point to a void now he has gone, I refer back to my Ipswich Town friend, who has now watched all the games in which he has played for his new club – his view was “what exactly does he do, beyond being slow” – the ground swell is there is Jay Tabb is losing out to Dougie and some locals are not happy!

No one in their right mind can feel happy with the way things have panned out that’s for sure, and that surely includes Matthew Benham and the management of the club. Football as we all know is about opinions and it is everyone’s right to voice their view how they feel they wish. I can remember many years back feeling the wroth of those who stood around me on the New Road terrace (as it was then) as we disagreed with tactics, players and the management of the time. So much so that in the end I chose to view home matches from elsewhere, in the process losing touch with many I had shared space with week in week out for many years. We were each entitled to our views but did it really change anything?

Older and wiser I know now the only thing divided support does is, especially in a small ground such as ours, is transmit the divided views and nervousness of the support or lack of it on to the pitch and to the players. Many have quite rightly voiced their frustrations and anger over the performance against Reading – which needs no further elaboration on.

However the excellent overview from the chairman and the calls from Skipper Jake Bidwell for unity along with the comments from Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen all surely need to be heeded. Much was made last season about the atmosphere at Griffin Park and how it helped the players. This I feel has been sadly missing in both our home league games, split opinions of the fans can only be prevent this atmosphere from being generated. Fans are turning on fans, many are quick to damn the new players, the coach, management and owner.

I stood in the hive having a beer over hearing so much negative clap trap I wondered if this was possibly the same club as last year. Had we transferred in moaning fans from another west London club? Yes, we are all entitled to an opinion but for heaven’s sake this is really achieving nothing, when it’s not running your way the team need us to lift them. Negativity spreads and it’s spreading throughout the club like a virus. I’ll be honest my days amongst the singing section are long past, but when we are up against it, no matter how bad we have played I believe those playing for the club need our undivided support from all sides, no matter how we chose to deliver it.

Now is the time for us to remember where we have come from in such a short period, and that this is about the longer sustainability for our club. We could go the QPR route and break the rules and throw good money after bad. Or we can follow a different path and try and find a different route to success within our means. Then again we could lose our benefactor and slowly slip into the abyss of the lower leagues and go backwards again. I don’t know him but I am pretty sure I know which way Matthew wants to take us and for that I give him, the management, Marinus and our squad my faith and belief that they will do everything possible without risking our club’s future to deliver that success we all desire.

C’mon you Bees!

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15 Responses to “Brentford and Marinus – a supporter’s view of the season so far”

  1. Greville Waterman September 12, 2015 at 6:21 am #

    Excellent stuff, many thanks

  2. John Hood September 12, 2015 at 6:40 am #

    Well said.I have been following the Bees for 54 seasons.This is the best time since the 1930s.I suspect that many of the moaners are of the recent new-comer,glory-hunting type who were not here during the really bad days.Matthew Benham and his team will get it right.Just show some patience and perspective.

  3. KevinO September 12, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    It is 57 years since I first saw Brentford play so I remember good and bad times. The Bees probably mean more to me now because I live in another country and have to plan trips carefully although I will get at least 2 games in at the end of this month. This article is well written but I cannot understand the ‘surprise’ at the fans reactions. Some Bees fans have always been a fickle crew, raging after a mistake, quick to criticise etc. At the end of last season the fans who are bemoaning the sale of Andre Gray might well have been among those criticising Warbs for continually picking him as he looked ‘tired’.

    I do not blindly agree that MB has got us to where we are so we have to trust in him. I agree that it is his money so to an extent he can do what he wants, but it is not his club, the club belongs to the fans, in their hearts – without fans there is no club. I was a great fan of Warbs, I am not surprised he has had quick success at Rangers, he is a class act and carries himself very well. I thought he was badly treated by Brentford, although he has never said a word of criticism of the club. Normally if a manager achieves success (and his success cannot be argued against) he would expect to be rewarded not be told he can stay on as long as he accepts a reduced role that includes not having a final say on transfers.

    Time will tell if the statistical model will work with transfers. Football is not baseball, statistics can show a lot but is also open to interpretation and bias. My other sport is Rugby where statistics are used extensively but I see the same problem there where too much trust is put in statistics without counter views being valued.

    The article talks about limited resources yet we have bought more players than ever in this close season. We must allow the players time to settle before passing judgement. It takes time to settle, not just with new team-mates but to a new city, new home, etc. I don’t like articles where comments are made on individuals without the context being known. The Ipswich fan who criticises Dougie may well be a Jay Tabb fan so will feel aggrieved of course he also may not be and is entitled to his opinion. I think Dougie was also badly treated by the club. I read somewhere that he had a falling out with the owner, I don’t know whether that is true but it is poor that he was banished to train with the development squad. A lot can be read into how a company treats its employees (and that is actually what we are talking about here) I feel there is an autocratic structure being shown that may also hinder progress.

    I don’t want to appear too negative. Whatever happens this is my club, my team, and I want them to do well. I remember standing on the terraces watching a dire performance in Division 4 saying that was it I’m finished with this rubbish, but of course I was still back for the next home game. I have at least 5 games pencilled in up to February (as far ahead as I can plan) and I am looking forward to each and every one. Eventually I hope to be back in England and able to go to every game…..as I used to before work took me abroad. It will always be my club and we are allowed to criticise the club if we do not like what is happening, or we disagree with some of the things they do.

    • Hobbo September 12, 2015 at 10:12 am #

      Suggest all Benham bashers and pro warburton fans read an article on http://www.standamf.com Benhams brentford issue 14. How short some of our memories are.

    • nickbruzon September 12, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

      Thanks very much. Equally balanced observations. I’m all for criticism where and when it is due (although I can’t help feel some supporters have exceedingly small memories and large expectations). I hope you enjoy the forthcoming five..!!!

  4. David Carney. September 12, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    A few comments:
    1. Whilst on the subject of rotten eggs do not forget Jack Dunnett who tried to close down Brentford and move QPR to Griffin Park. He did not even conceal the fact that he wanted to destroy Brentford.
    2. Like it or not part of the urgent need is to recruit well, develop and sell. The Chairman made it clear that Brentford income is in the bottom 3. That means an operating loss every day, so there are two ways that can be covered:
    – Benham can keep putting his hand in his pocket for the privilege of being abused by a group of halfwits (who call themselves supporters) that complain every time Brentford do not win and have no idea that a group of highly talented individuals are working very hard as a team to take Brentford into the pointy end of the Premier League
    – Brentford sell some of the talent they have developed when: (a) A wealthy club is willing to pay more than a player is worth, (b) Brentford have developed a surplus of talent for a particular position or (c) It is obvious a player will not renew a contract so needs to be sold otherwise they will walk away with nothing for Brentford.
    If the noisy, negative and delinquent minority wish to object to the manner in which Brentford is being managed I suggest they find 100m pounds to repay Benham plus find the next 50m he is likely to put in before Brentford are regularly in the top 5 or 6 of the Premier League – and have a plan that will get Brentford into that same elevated position.
    Until that happens I suggest that group be totally ignored and we all direct our efforts to supporting the direction and progress under Benham.
    I have 61 years of support under my belt and I can state with absolute certainty that times have never been so good as they are now.

    • nickbruzon September 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

      Cheers David. I’m a few decades off 62 years but have been coming for 35+ and I couldn’t agree more.
      This really is as consistently good as it has got in terms of player quality, investment level and ,finally, an owner who can balance his ambition and support with his level of investment. There’s loads I loved about the ‘old’ Brentford but I’m loving this new adventure

  5. David Carney. September 12, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    Nick,
    Your last sentence just says it all

  6. KevinO September 13, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

    As far as I can see all the above seem to think that Pro-Warburton supporters are automatically anti-Benham….being a supporter of Warbs does not automatically mean you are against MB. Also, having a view that expresses any form of doubt, unhappiness, or disenchantment at what has happened over the past six months seems to be unacceptable. I can assure you I am not a half-wit, nor am I delinquent, and having loyally followed the Bees for over 50 years with a trip to any match for the past 25 years costing me £100s of pounds I feel it is disingenuous to suggest that any supporter who questions recent events falls into the so-called fan variety.

    • Hobbo September 13, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

      Like it or not Kevin the section of so called fans giving Matthew Benham the most grief and abuse is because of the Warburton saga. all our fans loved warbs but only one man saved Brentford football club along with Bees united and that man should not be getting some of the abuse he is.

      • KevinO September 14, 2015 at 8:36 am #

        Hobbo, I couldn’t agree more and accept all that you say. But I wish some wouldn’t assume all Warburton supporters are automatically anti Benham. I certainly am not but still feel it was a pity they could not work out a compromise that kept a very good manager at the club. I am certainly not surprised that Glasgow Rangers are doing so well to such an extent there is debate as to whether he is their best ever manner. Again, this is over the top after just a few months but does show the influence he has on all around him. Once again he is taking a holistic view and it is working.

        I always remember the old adages “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and sometimes “less is more”……are we going backward or forward? I hope to get in a home and away match when I am over at the end of the month so will then be able to see it all first hand but it is so disappointing to read so much negativity.

  7. Hobbo September 14, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    Yes kevin a very good manager in a mickey mouse league even the Scottish prems a bit that way.In fact after an excellent first year as manager with us and his stock running high, a move to Rangers getting them promoted and challenging Celtic again his stock runs even higher.Not a bad cv after three years as a manager is it.A very shrewd cookie was our Mr Warburton.

    • KevinO September 14, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

      Agreed Hobbo but I still think he would have preferred to stay at Brentford and see the project through but wanted to be a manager rather than head coach without final say on signings. More than a few of us were hoping for a compromise before the divorce became final but that wasn’t to be. I confess I am still unsure on this model….time will tell if will work in the English league. I have to say I was as much impressed by him as a person rather than a football manager. Having lectured in Strategy for many years I was interested in how well the lessons he learned on teamwork seemed to transfer so well from the City to Football. I digress but I have found him a very interesting study from a distance.

  8. Chuma September 16, 2015 at 9:35 am #

    Hi, I’m a Spurs fan but started watching Brentford matches because of Alex Pritchard, and have kept an eye on your club even though he’s returned. I quite enjoyed this article, and I share many sentiments outlined, and boy, do I know about change.

    It’s never easy changing, or embracing new philosophies, but the only thing you can do is give it time. Your football last season was at times excellent, but at other times predictable, in so much that certain tactically astute managers knew how to shut you down.

    I’m an avid fan of the marketing guru, Seth Godin, and most of his books talk about life and business as ‘art’. To create art, you cannot seek to copy what has been before, and it involves risk. You need to have a philosophy, and come hell or high water, stick to it. Mark Warburton did this. He created his ‘art’ with your club, and found a tribe that loved it, and it resonated with them. Now he’s departed, you have a new manager, with his own ‘art’, which involves it’s own risks. It must be given time.

    Football is now so riddled with short term thinking, that a lot of people are forgetting what it means to be truly ‘supporters’, and want instant gratification. At my club, some want beautiful playing style, allied with tons of goals, to not concede, oh, and win every game. Fantasy. Lest I forget, they want it right now.

    Sir Alex Ferguson is lauded as this archetype of what a great manager should be, but I’m old enough to remember his first four years in the United hotseat, and they weren’t mindblowing. Sir Alex threw money at it, coached his socks off, and Manchester United became the winning machine we all came to know under his guidance. Key point here: TIME.

    Patience is a word we fans tend not to use nor like to hear, but quite clearly, that’s what’s needed now.

    • KevinO October 3, 2015 at 10:51 am #

      Hi Chuma, you can see now how much time was given to the new manager!

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