The morning after the day before

24 Jan

Ok – first up, congratulations to the Bees on another three points. The 3-1 win up at Preston yesterday saw Brentford push back up to the 10th place in the Championship table. As ever, should you want a full / any sort of quality match report then I’d recommend the BBC, Beesotted or the clubsite. The regular reader will be aware that’s not really what we do here.

Instead, I want to focus on yesterday’s column, given the reaction – both on this site and social media. Comments (that I can publish) ranged from ‘dross’, ‘claptrap’ and ‘tripe’ to ‘great piece’ ‘exactly how I’m, feeling’ and ‘excellent spot on article’ .

Both viewpoints are more than welcome. It’s great we’ve got such a loyal fanbase, prepared to back this team through thick and thin. I’m not going to apologise for what I feel, what I am thinking or what I wrote. Neither will I go back and rewrite anything. This site is an ongoing document of the season – as we’ve done for the previous two.

However, what I will do is try to clarify a little more about what I meant – should anybody still be reading !

First up, and let’s be exactly clear, without Matthew Benham we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Who knows what perilous state the club would be in or what lower league we’d be kicking around? I’ve said this many times on these pages and stand by it. However, this doesn’t mean I’m going to pretend to agree with all the methods being employed by the people at the top end of our club.

Whether we like it or not and whether we’ve had a choice or not, a team that had got us so close to the Premier League has changed beyond recognition. And, at present, in my opinion we aren’t as strong as we were last season. We’ve beaten Preston but have only won 4 games out of the last 12 – a run that includes the FA Cup defeat at home to Walsall. Likewise, we haven’t beaten a team in the top half of the table all season.

I understand that players come and go yet, at the moment, it feels like we are having to reconsolidate something that, on the pitch at least, didn’t need rebuilding. Of course we’ve got FFP rules to comply with but you can’t make such sweeping changes to a successful side (‘rip out the soul of the team’ was the phrase used yesterday) and expect to continue where we’d left off. The newcomers are finding their feet and, midfield especially, I think is a concern from a playing perspective.

I realise that no team has a divine right to be any good. I’ve said this many times – especially about the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Leeds United where supporters have some crazy expectation levels. Equally, I’ve heard it said many times that last season, ‘Brentford punched above their weight’.

I disagree. I’d say that last season we had a tremendous spirit, on and off the field, that helped us forge a stunning team with some great players. We got where we got on merit.

Dallas 2-0

View from the terrace – Last season saw an incredible team

I’ve stood through enough pain, heartache and inadequacy over the years to know how bad things can be and, believe me, I appreciate how good they are at present. At the end of the day (Clive) we are still 10th in the Championship table. That in itself is an incredible achievement in the cold light of day and not one to sniff at.

But also, having stood through that pain, heartache and inadequacy over the years I am desperate to see us do well at some point. Having almost made it last season, I really thought we’d have a chance to replicate Bournemouth and step on immediately.

Instead, the team that got so close is rapidly being replaced. The news about Toumani was the final straw for me. Certainly in terms of seeing that side become nothing more than the memory of what one correspondent called “a golden age”.

Look. The new crop will, I am sure, find their feet and their full potential at some point. This takes time. Equally, going up last season might have brought new headaches with the stadium being the least of them. That’s something we’ll never know – at least, not this year – but I won’t pretend it wasn’t an exciting journey. Infinitely better than 4000 fans watching a Rosenior or Butcher team. Equally better than knowing if Brentford Football Club would even exist.

Which brings me onto the other point. Brentford Football Club. Again, like it or not, it is changing as a place. As an entity. And this is the one that upsets me more than anything on field.

Griffin park GP

Griffin Park – still our home, for now

I’ve loved feeling a part of this club and part of a community where everybody knows each other – including players and staff. I’ve done my time on Bees United – a thoroughly enjoyable experience – and am in my fifth year of writing articles in the matchday programme. We still have a lot of interaction with supporters – on social media especially where Chief executive Mark Devlin and Kitman Bob are amongst our most prolific (and popular) users.

Yet, yet. So much of the other side feels different. The strange appointment of Marinus followed by the way he was then dumped immediately after the ‘positivity’ of the fans’ forum.

The lack of any noise out of the club when even opposition managers are telling us they’ve signed our players. Silence when every news site out there is saying that players are up at other clubs. To the point where one of them, number 26, refused to play against a team that he was keen to move to.

To hear about Toumani from Steve Evans and the player himself is just bonkers. At least Dean Smith has now come out and confirmed he’s having a medical.

We get updates on a fansite from one of our co-director’s of football. A fascinating interview with Phil Giles who came across as a really decent bloke. Great work, too, from Beesotted but why are they the ones having to do this?

Huge swathes of the team who served so well have now gone and, of those left, question marks still remain over how long we’ll be able to hang onto Alan Judge whilst defender 26 made a huge error of judgement.

The parade of FC Midtjylland around Griffin Park for a requested round of applause on their lap of honour. Crazy. How could anybody think that supporters of Brentford, despite Matthew’s obvious interest in FCM himself, would care about another team? That’s not how football works. We don’t do half and half scarves and we don’t follow two clubs.

Few people, if any, support West Ham and Brentford, Chelsea and Brentford, Liverpool and Brentford. Why would we care about FCM and Brentford? If nothing else, think of the Europa League headache that might occurred had we not capitulated in the FA Cup ? Brentford may choose to share a co-director of football (ours) and a chairman (theirs) with FCM but I have no allegiance to the Danes.

All this, off the back of last season’s Warburton-gate, ‘football is a village’ and even the interim #bignewambitions.

Matthew Benham has taken himself off Twitter again whilst even supporters (nice work, @beesbanter) are sharing pictures of Toumani in a Leeds United tracksuit. Even though still a Brentford player. Oh the irony that their own manager can’t find one to fit yet one of our players can.

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 22.38.21

@beesbanter were on the spot

It wouldn’t be Brentford if we did things quietly or normally. And, again, I’m still loving the fact we are in the Championship. A top ten side, no less.

But I won’t pretend our team is (currently) as strong as last campaign and I certainly won’t pretend to agree with how we handle ourselves off pitch.

Football is a game of opinions. We all love it. We all talk about it and we’ll all carry on following it. I’m a Bee for life, as (I hope) is my son. It does seem odd to sound moany when we are well placed but that’s just how I’m feeling at present.

Some may agree. Others may shoot me down. That’s fine, either way. We ARE being ambitious and radical. We won’t always get the simple things right.

I’d love to see us try though.

Nick Bruzon

16 Responses to “The morning after the day before”

  1. C January 24, 2016 at 9:30 am #

    Your last column was spot on. Sensible and straightforward. Pleased to read something (justifiably) critical for once. No one could doubt your sincerity or motivation. Always look forward to your email.

  2. Spanish Bee January 24, 2016 at 9:47 am #

    If half of the feedback you get is abusive and half of it is supportive, you are probably doing a pretty good job, so keep at it. My son is a Barcelona fan, (although sensitive to BFC) and when we went down after the Leroy Rosenior season, he rang me up and thanked me.

  3. Richard Nabarro (NAB 1) January 24, 2016 at 10:19 am #

    Last night I was looking up when the play off dates are for this year, because the Missus has booked something in mid May (may be able to go to one of the games, if we make it, and deffo the final, but that is another story).

    As a result, I’d gone onto the Football League website and came across the team that lost to Boro on the Friday night in last year’s semis:

    27 Button
    10 Odubajo
    06 Dean
    26 Tarkowski
    03 Bidwell
    20 Diagouraga
    08 Douglas
    23 Jota
    18 Judge
    21 Pritchard
    19 Gray

    04 MacLeod
    05 Craig
    12 McCormack
    15 Dallas
    16 Bonham
    17 Toral
    24 Smith

    If you look at it, we could have a situation at the end of this season when only Bidwell, Bonham and the two Maccas remain, with only Bidwell and McCormack regulars since last season: Judge to go before the end of January (have you seen the Sky news report overnight about him being “angry” with Brentford about the pricetag), no 26 off to pastures new too this month, Dean out of contract (mistake to let him go in my opinion: Brentford runs through his veins), Button the best keeper in this division, but someone will come in for him, surely.

    The remarkable thing for me is that we are still 10th after this turnaround, although I entirely agree with you that this team is about 75% of last year’s in terms of entertainment.

    This is a big week for Brentford. Keep Judge and we will stay up; lose him and we could end up being dragged into the relegation battle.

    If Dave scores on Tuesday, then maybe people will be on the pitch…………………..

  4. Gordonbankole January 24, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    You are right to make criticisms Nick where you see fit. I can’t think of one Bees fan who isn’t grateful and appreciative of what Matthew Benham has done for the club, yet this season has raised a few issues which, quite frankly, have polarised opinions in a way I don’t want to see (eg. a fight between two Bees supporters after one home game, over how the club was being run).

    For what it’s worth I have a big problem with the two DOFs; I don’t really see how they are qualified to do their jobs (though I am happy to be enlightened on this if anyone can fill me in), and despite their utterances they have failed to improve the team from last season (the club’s stated aim). As I have said elsewhere, the recruitment last summer in particular was terrible.

    Given all this, it’s an amazing achievement to be 10th in the league. The squad must have more about them than we give them credit for sometimes, and Lee Carsley in particular did an incredible job in moving us forward post-Marinus.

  5. Greville Waterman January 24, 2016 at 10:32 am #

    I too share you concerns about the problems we face and wrote at length about it yesterday. I am also totally frustrated and fed up about the player exodus and haemorrhaging of talent but looking at the facts of the matter I honestly do not see what we could have done to keep any of the major, key players who have left.

    Money talks and players walk. It is daft to try and cling on to someone who’s head has been turned by his agent’s siren song – or a buy out clause has been activated.

    Those are the facts of life when our turnover is dwarfed by our rivals. Unless we bankrupt ourselves or run the risk of falling foul to FFP we have to let the player go after assuring that we get top dollar and he can be replaced.

    The time to worry is when the departing players are not replaced or when they are replaced on the cheap and by ones who are patently not good enough.

    I agree that some of the summer acquisitions are still pretty iffy but as I demonstrated yesterday the lion’s share of monies brought in has been reinvested on the squad.

  6. Rob January 24, 2016 at 11:31 am #

    I agree with everything written on here to date. I read the sky sports article about Judgey. He’s shown loyalty, as had “Dave” and yet these DoF haven’t appeared to have entered into talks about renegotiation of a contract despite Dean Smith being keen to do so. Dave for me, whilst not a fantastically technically gifted player was an important one for us and i suspect far more important than a poultry £600 k. Judgey is the beating heart at the moment and if he goes then thats all the creativity and energy gone in my opinion.
    Totally agree that the remit to strengthen the squad has failed. I think we’ve been unlucky in some instances (take Bjelland for instance) but others have been poor (Duricin as a replacement for Gray? Kerschbaumer and Gogia?).They may come good, but it was always going to take time for them to adapt. If you look at Bournemouth, they sold Grabban for good money, but also spent good money on Wilson who was already a proven goalscorer in England.
    It seems the fabric of the Bees as a club is being damaged by some cold calculated business decisions that actually haven’t always been successful at all.

    • Bill Benn January 24, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

      Bournmouth have spent big,the fact they have broken FFP so not a good example.Do you honestly believe you can just replace a 6 million £ player by spending less easily?The fact is most of these players who were signed where to form part of a squad and would be eased into championship football like Vibe and Hoff.We didn’t start out the season with the intention of selling mosses or Gray this along with injuries meant we had to start games with these only have to look at foreign players coming into the PL whatever their price take time to settle in.Gray got loads of abuse from some sections of the crowd last season the same people who where moaning I expect when we sold him.We are not a million miles away from being a top 6 championship team …something we could only dream of 2 years ago.I am confident that the people working on players contracts are doing so in the best interests of the club and not greedy agents.

      • hobo January 24, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

        Well said Bill.

      • Rob January 24, 2016 at 6:55 pm #

        I was referring to Bournemouth’s dealings at the beginning of lastseason when they were promoted. They lost their star striker, Lewis Grabban to Norwich for £3m and immediately replaced him with Callum Wilson also for around £3m. A proven goalscorer at L1 level and used to the rigours of English football. We sell Andre for £6 (or £9m depending on which report you read). We had Vibe and Hoff which i totally agree, were there to be gradually brought into the first team because they had to get up to speed, but then we get Djuricin as Grays replacement,who, like the other two, also needs to get up to speed. In fact, i dont even think he was playing first team football?
        We’ve been unlucky, i accept that. We are watching some of the best football from a Brentford side too. BUT, with Gray, Moses, Douglas, Jota, Toums and Dallas all gone, Tarks probably on his way and Judgey allegedly ‘upset’, all within 6 months, it would suggest to me that all is not harmonious at the club.

      • nickbruzon January 24, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

        Cheers Rob. “all is not harmonious at the club” is the suspicion that many supporters have.
        Without doubt we have Matthew to thank for getting us where we are (alive, for one) but that doesn’t mean we should ignore our gut feelings or concerns about the internal workings of the club we’ve all loved for years

  7. Rob O January 24, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

    I don’t particularly like the way last years team was split up so clinically as that was the best season I’ve experienced since I started attending in 1969. But to be honest most of that team had been with us less than 3 or 4 years and teams do constantly get renewed. I just think that last years team was such a special one in bees history (the one that got us back to the promised land and played with such intensity and style) that we’re feeling the loss of the participants in that keenly due to the wonderful memories attached to that team.

    What I don’t like is the erosion of the sense of Brentford as a club with an existing heritage. It may not have been particularly successful but the there have been countless individuals and families that have kept the club going over the years during some very lean times.. Some of the new version of the club’s behaviour to us longer-term fans does feel a bit disrespectful and crass at times. Being economical with the truth at the forum regarding Marinus’s positon. Never communicating what’s going on and why; Parading another team around the pitch (!).

    But at the end of the day (Clive) we are competing and holding our own at a much higher level than we were when MB took over. Our stated medium-term aim is to be an established Championship side. Its not to crash and burn on a headlong rush to the summit. It may not be as exciting or as stylish as last year but the evidence currently points to us being on track for that doesn’t it?

    Was at Preston yesterday and the midfield played well. Woods, McEachran, Swift. all new players this year. Plus Barbet had a good game. I think comparing these 2 teams is telling: We played a much higher quality of football than Preston. They played a league one style (akin to MAs teams). Effective at times but not going to keep you at the top of the Championship, let alone the Premier league. I left that game feeling more positive about our chances for the rest of the season than I have for a while (to come crashing back down on Tuesday no doubt) and think some of the new players are beginning to step up.

    I particularly don’t want Judgey or Harlee to leave – but we’ll get over it if and when it happens. Like we did Andy Sinton, Dean Holdsworth, Nicky Forster, The Gillingford team and even Roger Cross and John O’Mara (No strike that as an 8 year old I never got over John O’Mara leaving!)

    My preferred outcome would have been some sort of compromise between MB and MW last season, but it didn’t happen and we’ve moved on. Anyone who doesn’t like whats happening needs to come up with an alternative and take ownership of the club somehow and pay Matthew back the money he’s invested:).

    In my opinion the club is in the best position its ever been, nothwithstanding the current ‘growing pains’.

    • nickbruzon January 24, 2016 at 7:23 pm #

      Thanks Rob. Extremely eloquent and you’ve summed it up perfectly in your last two paras.
      It is these ‘growing pains’ that are really gnawing at me and I hope we can get past them. I’m sure we will

  8. Rob O January 24, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

    Thanks Nick. Always enjoy reading your posts. I think we’re very lucky at BFC to have a bunch of fans that do give a monkeys and do ask questions about what’s going on. The proof of that being we’re not a non-league team playing at Woking.

    • Rob January 24, 2016 at 8:36 pm #

      Don’t remind me about Deano going Rob! Him leaving at the start and big Terry Evans getting injured did for us that season.
      I have to say, I’m rapidly growing to dislike Burnley. Rumour has it that after disrupting our season they are dropping interest in Judgey and looking at my other favourite player, Alex Pritchard. If only we could get him back then maybe we could be that top 6 side we were last term….

  9. edmundpw January 24, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

    Not quite sure what you mean to suggest by your final sentence. Do you think the club isn’t trying to get things right?

    And while the Judge situation is unnerving, I’m not sure why everyone is determined to assume that there isn’t another side to the story. There’s an agent involved here and who knows what trickery he’s up to. Perhaps he’s trying to get a trigger clause inserted, in the knowledge that he has a club lined up to jump in as soon as the ink is dry, able to spend the savings on the fee on a larger salary for Judge? Pure speculation on my part, but all the stuff we’re hearing about Judge is speculation, isn’t it?

  10. RebelBee January 25, 2016 at 9:06 am #

    I enjoy your blog, sometimes I agree sometimes I don’t, surely that’s the point – we all want to discuss the club we love. You openly share your thoughts and don’t claim to be a journo or an official source – and you are are hardly on the extreme fringes of BFC opinion.

    We’re all learning to cope with the new pressures of being a decent club in the big league, the last 2 transfer windows have been awful, we actually have players that other clubs want, who easily get worked over by agents and potential suitors. Losing those players that we have loved makes us all a bit cranky, in your case Toums – we wouldn’t be human to not have the hump about it.. This next week will test us all.

    I know you’ve taken “pelters” from some after the Toums to Leeds piece. And it is right that we should be reminded of just where we are at these days, under the direction of our incredible owner, a fan. But MB’s BFC is all about doing things better, analytics at all levels of the club, And there are still things that can be done better, you have pointed some of these out – keep writing & don’t be afraid to raise them in future. Others are free to criticise you, but surely we are all allowed to support BFC in our own way?

    Main thing now is for us to all get up to GP tomorrow and roar the boys on to a famous win.

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