Play off challengers go fo it as transfer rumours begin

2 Jan

Brentford travel to Birmingham City today, hoping to end the festive fixture period with 7(seven) points out of 9. The Boxing Day draw at home to Brighton and the follow up win at Reading, which featured those goals from Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos, has left the Bees in eighth place. We’re already six clear of QPR (well played last night against Hull, btw…), Fulham are out of sight – at the wrong end – whilst a win could take us to within two points of fifth place. But with the transfer window creaking open today, what will we get?

First up, a team in the same position and with the same potential as ourselves. Birmingham City, who are likely to include former Bees Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson, sit one place below Brentford on the same amount of points. 36. A win for them does exactly what it would do for us and so this is a real chance for both sides to steal a march on a play-off rival.

Birmingham after 8 Clayton

Clayton eyes the target – outside of the box.

Despite all the potential of recent weeks, nobody has been able to break into that top 6 but the gap is getting tighter. Previously unbeatable Brighton have now had their vulnerability exposed, having lost 3 out of the last 4. Freescoring Burnley are still showing intermittent form. Don’t be fooled by a pair of 4-0 wins in recent games. These sandwich a 3-0 loss to Hull City and a six game winless streak prior to that.

And today they entertain Ipswich Town, who of course, sit directly below them. Something will have to give there as Andre Gray takes on Jonathan Douglas. As such, today’s game presents a tremendous opportunity for the Blues and Brentford to really close in on that pack of promotion wannabes.

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 07.41.32

The BBC  show how tight that chasing pack are

Make no mistake. This team ARE in a race for the play-offs now. I find it an incredible statement to make based on the start of the season but you can’t fault the ability or desire of the Brentford squad. Birmingham are going to see a totally different side to the one they beat 2-0 at Griffin Park earlier in the season.

Lee Carsley’s first game in charge as he attempted to salvage something, anything, from the mess that was the Marinus experiment was a woeful performance. I genuinely hate to be negative about our team but even that, a match originally postponed due to the pitch debacle, met with a summary that included:

The longer the game went on the more heads dropped. Sideways pass followed sideways pass followed backwards pass – think Jonathan Douglas at his most negative. There was no penetration or cohesion as optimistic balls forward were easily snaffled up by the Blues defence….. as at the weekend we conceded in the 90th minute – so there is some consistency. “Not quite as sh*t as Saturday” was the view of one New Road wag after the game. I’d disagree – I thought we were dreadful. Even Lee Carsley would later tell Billy Reeves that, “We went passive with our passing which suited them”.

Still, that was then and this is now. It’s the sort of fixture today where I’d be happy with a point prior to kick off but I‘ve got a funny feeling we could go two better. That said, I’m sure Birmingham City fans are thinking exactly the same.

And if you think you know better than me (let’s face it, anybody still reading does) and fancy getting your hands on a pair of shirts – including the stunning black ‘third’ strip – then head over to Twitter where Kitman Bob is running a fantastic competition. He’s well worth a ‘follow’ anyway, but moreso now given what he is offering one fan…

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 06.41.27

Move fast – what a prize

Get on it quickly.

And finally, January 2nd see the transfer window open for a month prior to the trademark ‘slam shut’ at 11pm on February 1st. As ever, for us Brentford fans, it will be a case of ‘squeaky bum’ time. Whilst I pay little notice to rumours circulating in the local press, one can’t help but be curious as to the Alan Judge situation – his being the name at the forefront of most stories on the subject.

One of THE top performers in the Championship this season, he is sure to be attracting interest from divisional rivals and those clubs currently locked in the Premier League relegation battle (think Aston Villa, Sunderland, Chelsea , Swansea City) or beyond. Jota’s name is never far from the frame either whilst Sam Saunders is out of contract at season end. David Button is pulling out all the stops in goal whilst the likes of Jake Bidwell and James Tarkowski are showing just how much we rely on them.

I could go on. The reason the Bees are where we are is because the team is playing well. Very well. And, as such, your better players are sure to attract more interest. We saw the squad rocked by a series of summer sales as popular players such as Stuart Dallas, Will Grigg, Andre Gray and Moses Odubajo all left Griffin Park for 7(seven) figure sums. It is only natural supporters will be worried about the same thing happening again.

Will that have been sufficient to balance the books or could more be on the way? Alternatively, will Dean Smith have the green light to look at bolstering the squad to form one more in his own image? I’m sure Walsall fans are probably fearing a raid as much as we are.

I’m not a huge fan of this ‘window’ system but, like it or not, it’s what we have. One just has to hope our top brass hold firm, that the books are in good shape and the squad want to continue this push – together.

I read an article on the Telegraph website this morning regarding the top fifty transfer targets for this window. Only two were from the Championship, both at QPR – Charlie Austin and Matt Phillips. Whilst a somewhat blinkered view of the talent available, if we can stay under the radar as long as possible then I’m all for that.

Besides, we‘ve got more important things to worry about. All the concern in the world about who might go counts for nothing until it happens. Let’s not let it distract us from the trip to St.Andrews.

Here’s hoping  we can start 2016 like we ended 2015.

Nick Bruzon

 

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