Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

7 Feb

Fear not, Brentford fans. This isn’t another discourse on FCM although their role does play a part in today’s column. I’d love to pretend I was a connoisseur of all things Shakespeare but nobody is going to be fooled by any pretensions of being high-brow. Whilst the line is one of the most famous from Hamlet, it wasn’t The Bard who gave me inspiration but Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Originally spoken by the character Marcellus (presumably not Trotta), it is one which has since slipped into common usage to describe corruption or a situation in which something is wrong. You’ll also find it in one of the greatest ‘so bad it’s good’ films of all time, Arnie’s ‘Last Action Hero’ in which the Terminator star’s mock trailer for a more explosive version appears.

Hasta la vista, William

Before anybody calls in the lawyers, I’m not suggesting any form of corruption at Brentford. Or FCM. Clear?!

That said, I’m still not entirely convinced that all is good about the situation surrounding our club at present. We lost at Brighton on Friday night and that is part and parcel of having to rebuild a successful team. Moreso, playing against a side pushing for promotion who seem to have rediscovered their mojo.

Yet I do wonder how we could run them so close on Boxing day, yet 6 weeks later be played off the park. Did Toumani and James Tarkowski, both since sold, make that much of a difference? Or was there more to it than that?

What really worried me was Dean Smith being quoted as saying: “We spoke about the training and we felt the intensity hadn’t been good enough and that carried over into the game. I felt it turned over the first goal

Wow! How on earth has that been allowed to happen? We’ve got more specialist coaches than National Express so what is wrong in the set up that we lack training ground intensity? Is there discontent behind the scenes following more high profile departures after the influx of statistical recruits over the summer?

Was this a throwaway remark made out of context or should we really be concerned?

Ordinarily, I might now have paid this quite so much attention, were it not for what has already happened this season. We had the Marinus experiment that ended after a mere 9 games and 2 wins – of which the first was inspired by a brace from Andre Gray.

Whilst the club’s statement didn’t go into huge specifics on his eventual exit, despite us being told how great things were in the Fans’ Forum just days earlier, there are several suggestions on news sites that training ground issues were a huge part of this. The Daily Mail, in particular, made the statement that , “It was the quality of training which was his true undoing, with a number of first-team players holding serious misgivings”.

Indeed, in his introduction of Lee Carsley as the successor to Marinus, our chairman specifically noted : “Lee has shown with the Under-21s 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.”

Lee certainly had the team back up to the incredible heights we’d reached last season, even winning October’s manager of the month award following a run of four straight victories. Since he left, the team has managed four more victories in the 13 games since Dean took over.

We’ve only scored 6 goals in the 7(seven) games that covered the transfer window period and then the Brighton match. Of those, 3 came in the only win over that period, the away game at Preston.

Draw what conclusion you want from these stats but I’m not convinced we have an entirely happy camp. It’s always harder looking in, of course, and perhaps there is still an element of caution after so much change has taken place.

Lee Carsley MOTM

October very much a ‘head coach’ high point after Marinus

Fans aren’t happy either. Just look around social media to see them sniping at each other. The GPG is going into meltdown in certain areas. Twitter is an angry place. Club employees are publically critical of supporters for voicing opinion whilst even the normally placid ‘Brentford FC loyal’ site on Facebook is becoming a fractured group.

You can ignore this but discontent in cyber space fuels discontent on the terrace and people ARE falling into two camps. On the one hand those who say we should put up, shut up, trust the hierarchy and be grateful for what we’ve got . After all, it wasn’t so long ago we were fighting for survival and playing in Division 2 . That this is long term ‘project’ (I HATE that word to describe a football club).

On the other, those who say that – you know what, whether expected or not we did bloody well last season. Why shouldn’t we have tried to build on that team, with a manager who had performed heroics ? What’s wrong with wanting our team to succeed and do better each season? Having had a taste of Championship success, who wouldn’t want more?

Compare this to the last three seasons where the most we’ve had to argue about is whether Marcello Trotta should have come back (a resounding yes, for me). Now, supporters are at each other’s throats but who is right?

As ever, the answer seems to lie half way between both. I’ll put in my usual disclaimer at this point about being eternally grateful of Matthew Benham’s investment but, equally, every supporter’s right to still ask questions about our direction.

We’ve had to sell. But so heavily? Was last season our best shot of going up and, having just missed out, is it now simply a case of treading water whilst building up both the balance sheet and a new team until we are ready to move to Lionel Road?

This sort of consolidated approach can pay long term dividends. Look at Stoke City. They reached the Championship after beating us in the 2001-02 play off final and immediately sacked their manager. Gudjon Thordarson was replaced by Steve Cotterill with Tony Pulis taking over from him just four months into the season. Six years later, Pulis took Stoke into the Premier League on the last day of the 2007-08 season. A place they still hold today.

As a side note, what few may recall is that during his time in the Championship, Pulis was also sacked by Stoke before being reappointed. In the interim, Dutchman Johan Boskamp was appointed for a season. It was a period that saw him bring in a number of new players from Europe but his inconsistent side limped to mid-table.

Unlike Stoke, our European approach has this analytical element. It worked for FCM but will it work for us? So far, the jury is out. Equally, and whether he likes it or not, Rasmus Ankersen seems to be public enemy number 1 in some circles.

At the end of the day (Clive), you can understand some scepticism given that the chairman of one club is responsible for transfer policy at another. Ours.

How can you split two roles? Who will get preference when the ‘statistical jewel in the crown’ is uncovered? Moreso, when a team that is crying out for a goalscorer has not looked / been able (delete as applicable) to make any investment over the January window.

If Rasmus is reading (who knows) then why not give an interview? But not to the club media team. What about a hard hitting one? I’d love to see if the likes of Beesotted could probe him properly. Billy Reeves style.

And this wouldn’t be to take pot shots – quite the opposite. Whether people like it or not, this is currently our direction so let’s hear more about it, please. Why not try and engender some trust? Last time that we were told everything was rosy it wasn’t, so how about some reassurance now?

Our new look approach. Our three / four (I count Lee twice) head coaches in one season. Our shedding of a side that came ‘so close’. Further talk of training ground issues. Even just this squabbling amongst ourselves are all things we are not used to at Brentford. Why not sit down in front of a couple of respected supporters and give us your take ?

There’s no real answers from me in today’s column. I’m just one numpty on the terrace chucking a few questions out there and calling things how I see them – from one supporter’s perspective. Some may agree; others probably won’t.

To be honest, that we are talking about Championship consolidation in almost a negative term seems bonkers. I get that bit.  Yet there is an underlying vibe that surrounds this which, whilst perhaps just me, I’d love to hear more about from the other side of the fence.

The club.

Rasmus talks to Beesplayer

Is Rasmus the man to reinvigorate our support?

Nick Bruzon


28 Responses to “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”

  1. Bernard Quackenbush (@BernardQuack) February 7, 2016 at 8:45 am #

    Pretty much agree with everything you said & written right from the heart as well as the head. Although being a Bee of old I just knew back in the summer that we would be very lucky if half the play off team were left come 1 February. I just knew the vultures & the promise of amazing contracts would come picking at our bones.

    Rasmus, for me, is public enemy no 1, although not necessarily his fault personally, as you cannot be expected to run 2 football clubs. Im sure FCM’s game at Old Trafford means he is spending far too much time in Herning than TW8, FCM bringing in 5 players this transfer window testament to that, and consequently the lack of activity in the transfer market at GP. We need people 100% committed to Brentford, & that includes you Mr Crown. We are no longer a mid table 3rd tier team, we are a team with desires on the richest league in the world.

    Like you, the training issue deeply concerns me. What with the players looking so lacking in energy & direction Friday (other than sideways & backwards).

    • DG February 7, 2016 at 8:59 am #

      You’re right Bernard, Cliff Crown should stop his dual role. He’s spending too much time as that postman in Cheers.

  2. Andy Evans February 7, 2016 at 9:31 am #

    Ah, the usual caveat – ever so grateful to Matthew Benham etc etc etc. Careful, we don’t want to kill that goose do you? I wish people would just come out and say it – you hate the foreigners with their funny ways, stats, FCM, blah blah blah – you just wish Benham would give up that wad and leave the spending of it to someone else. Like all those other proper football clubs owners. Hold on ……..

    Then of course there’s the “why do we sell everyone” line. How about looking at it a different way – we are not selling (which suggests an action on our part to move a player on), other clubs are buying. When a club comes promising much, much more money to a player, nobody has explained to me yet how Brentford are supposed to resist that. When we have tried very hard – Gray, Tarkowski – both times players have practically forced themselves away from the club – admittedly Gray more elegantly than Tarkowski – but they still wanted those big bucks on offer. Do you suggest that we double the wages of those players? Is it really sensible way for a club with crowds of 10k to do that? Plenty of evidence out that of clubs spending beyond their means with huge and devastating implications – some (Portsmouth an example) may take a generation to recover if at all.

    So, an alternative strategy – we do have to find value where other might not spot it, we will have to sell players for profit but if 1 and 2 years in the Championship becomes 3, 4 , 5 etc and Lionel Road happens, that need will become less and less.

    As for the social media meltdown – I think a lot of people need to calm down, show a bit less ignorance and a bit more patience. Not everything will go right and some signings will be poor but the club has identified very good players in the recent past who have done very well and I trust they will continue to do so. Not always though.

    My only every comment is around FCM – it baffles me to see the reaction to anything where Brentford might dare to mention the club – is it really that big a problem? Just seems such a non-issue to me. I’m not likely to ever cross the street to see one of their games but if I try not very hard at all, I do manage to comfortably not let it bother me.

    • nickbruzon February 7, 2016 at 9:39 am #

      cheers Andy.

      The usual caveat because it’s true.

      And nothing to do with ‘foreigners’ or their ‘funny ways’ – your words, not mine.

      Simply to do with general bad vibes felt by a lot of supporters and a role of dual allegiance that is at odds with what we are used to.
      I’m glad you are comfortable with this. As I say, I may just be in the
      Thanks for reading and your comment

    • RebelBee February 7, 2016 at 10:09 am #

      “Little Brentford, we can’t compete” there it is right there, the blanket caveat – normally followed by “be careful what you wish for”.

      Follow,that logic and Leicester City may as well not bothered turning up at the Etihad yesterday!

      We get it, it’s not easy, but the return on those players recruited by Mcparland, Warbs and Mathew has been massive, that plan was working. We’ve changed direction and it has been a bumpy ride since, some reasonable scrutiny on this is entirely valid surely?

      • Andy Evans February 7, 2016 at 10:28 am #

        It’s true that we can’t compete on wages with Hull and Burnley. Are you disputing that? We can compete as a football club though which is why we are mid table in the Championship. The players we have recruited this year have been a mixed bunch but we did the same last year – difference is that we had no need to play any duffers last year because we could keep our best players on the pitch.

  3. Gordonbankole February 7, 2016 at 10:20 am #

    Here we go again. I was much more long-winded on Greville’s blog, but I’ll be brief his time.

    Do I admire and respect Matthew Benham? Yes, hugely. And I don’t know one Brentford fan who doesn’t.

    Does this exempt him from criticism given what’s happened over the last 12 months? No.

    The two things are not incompatible and criticising (constructively) does not make someone disloyal. In fact, I would suggest that if the club could learn from its mistakes over the last year, then we could really push on.

    • Roderic February 7, 2016 at 11:25 am #

      Paras 3 and 4, cool, on the money, except: I as a BFC supporter, am loyal to the club and I see no correlation with personal opinions on the owner [praise his name], far from it, after the damage he has brought to last season, by his disloyal announcement re-Warbs fate mid season, when we were on an express train to success and the fiascos of the present season [deconstructivism in action}. Comments are interesting and hopefully provoke debate whether constructive, unconstructive or emotional; as per A. Evans above, when he says , “I think a lot of people should calm down, show a bit less ignorance”, we are on the way down the table now, after an absolute thrashing at Brighton, so the Mid -table complacency brigade had better wake up and consider a reality check.

  4. paul klein February 7, 2016 at 11:48 am #

    As always, you speak a lot of common sense. You hint at what I think are two major issues…this view that as a true supporter you shouldn’t ask uncomfortable questions and if you do you are being disloyal….the second is I hear a lot about the philosophy of the club from the management team but what is it?..where is it published?. The philosophy at the moment seems to be make a lot of changes and don’t invest in the squad.

    • Andy Evans February 7, 2016 at 11:59 am #

      The lack of investment you referred to was explained by Phil Giles in his recent interview. If we could have signed George Evans, we would have done so at a cost presumably of close to £1m. He stated that all other possible targets were over priced in the opinion of the club so the policy was to work on investing in the summer rather the over pay now.

      • Roderic February 7, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

        The unbalanced amalgam that are running the club have, by default, admitted the season is blown; the cost of players will have gone up by the summer, surely, not down, unless they are more statistically sourced flops, of course!

      • Bernard Quackenbush (@BernardQuack) February 7, 2016 at 8:52 pm #

        You actually hit on the part of Phil Giles’s statement that said to me so much about whats wrong.

        Why are we looking at players we cant afford? Why is the ‘project’/DoF’s identifying players out of our price range? Why have we wasted a whole transfer window pursuing the wrong players?

  5. Spanish Bee February 7, 2016 at 11:58 am #

    Dear Andy,

    I have had a few arguments with Rebel and Gordon on the net and now at last I realise that it must be because I am a foreigner. Hang on a minute ‘Evans’, that’s Welsh isn’t it?

    • Andy Evans February 7, 2016 at 12:04 pm #

      I’m as Welsh as the English bit of the Severn bridge mate. 🙂

  6. steve b February 7, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    isn;t it tine we had another fans forum ..???? how about a bees self-confessed lifetime fan , mr benham presiding…??? perhaps peter gilham could sit with us and fire off a few questions too…!!

  7. Roderic February 7, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    I have been watching the inspiring tour of the Bournemouth setup, in the preview to their game at home to Arsenal; that could have been BFC! THey have a real MANAGER who has great talent and principles and a big bucks backer, who knows to leave the on the pitch duties to the experts; that is two things BFC need to get straight, the Russian knows his oil and the great man [praise his name], should concentrate on am massing more gambling money to put into BFC. Good luck to the cherries!

    • RebelBee February 7, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

      Andy I don’t for one minute dispute the fact that we can’t compete on salaries with Hull, Burnley etc – the game is rigged in their favour with the parachute payments they have. By the same token can Leicester compete financially with the top 4 in the PL, or can Burton with the bigger sides in L1? We made the play offs last year don’t forget, the same challenges applied then too. Sure the wealth of a club is a big deal, but if it were only about the financial muscle of clubs, we wouldn’t have the competitive game we have today.

      You won’t find one bees fan I know who is critical because of our league position. BFC was building nicely, buying well and selling on with huge returns. Possibly we’ve moved on too many players too soon, and have not found adequate replacements. The squad looks light and feeble, lacking in pace and leadership. Questions are reasonably being asked about the current recruitment strategy, the roles of the DoF’s and its success to this point. I have nothing but respect and gratitude for all that MB has done for our club, but this shouldn’t preclude sensible comment and questions when things are not quite right.

      • Andy Evans February 7, 2016 at 2:07 pm #

        Absolutely. Every fan has a right to question. The think that irks me though are that I believe the perceived problems are exaggerated and one sided and some are abusive and petty which of course is ridiculous. I also think that continually looking back at events serves no purpose and only ends up dividing.

  8. RebelBee February 7, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    Some (a tiny few) are abusive and have views that are well OTT. If you look at another fan site you’ll also see that reasonable people raising valid questions are being described as “thick” or ” cretins” and to go and follow another club.

    We all love Brentford, there is no rule book and often it’s like a marriage whee we will have our moments. One of the things that I love about MB is that I feel he doesn’t see us as a small cub, never has done and sees it’s potential. I want to believe that his dream is to brig. Brentford back to its pee war size and importance. Too many fans think small, do this and we will become small and irrelevant.

    I have no complaint whatsoever with what we pay or spend. I hope that Mathew himself understands the validity of some of the questions being and concerns, and is asking everyone within the club to step up their game.

    • hobbo February 7, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

      Did you know Warbs first met Benham as part of a delegation from Watford ,when they knew he was interested in owning a football club, but he decided to pursue his first love the Bees, i bet a part of him wishes he hadn’t bothered. The danger is that he has enough of the abuse he’s getting from some of our fans and pulls the plug, including Lionel rd ,recoups some of his outlay, and then its really back to square one ,or worse, i for one wouldn’t blame him if he did.

      • RebelBee February 7, 2016 at 5:21 pm #

        Agree that abuse is out of order, although I don’t see much of it and certainly not on this blog. You’ll always get a few stupid things with Twitter, Facebook – not right but it goes way beyond football tbh.

        Some sincere fan concerns and questions about where we are currently at as a club Is healthy, I doubt MB would have a problem with that. To be as successful as he is, in a pretty tough industry, you need to be determined and strong, as well as talented.

      • hobbo February 8, 2016 at 9:35 am #

        Rebelbee, this blog Jan 28,2016 at 9:26pm, take a look mate

  9. Andy February 7, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    Good article Nick, and your correct we should be looking to be as competitive as possible every year. I may be wrong and the club should be more open as you say. However could we realistically afford the wages that the bigger clubs are offering ?. Last season was heroic and manager needs praise however what a good team of players he had, the same players who can rightly now demand bigger wages, and sadly I don’t think Brentford can be throwing out these numbers. I would like to know where all the fees are going and if it will be re-invested, maybe we will see this for next season.

  10. KevinO February 7, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

    The person I feel most sorry for is Dean Smith. He seemed a perfect fit for us except players are being sold from under him and not being replaced. When Marinus took over during the summer what happened, the best players were sold from under him and replaced with players who would not be a great advert for “statistical data mining”. I watch this from a distance as I live abroad and only get to see a few games a season but we are definitely weaker than we were last season – hardly surprising when you consider what we have sold. Are we in danger of sliding in to a relegation dogfight? I hope not. I still see us playing good football at times, although rarely for 90 minutes but the difference between what I saw in October against Derby and in January against Birmingham was like chalk and cheese. It is hard to see us making real progress if we “have” to sell our best players because we can’t compete with the likes of Burnley and Hull (those pesky parachute payments again) but I guess we can live with two steps forward and one step back, the danger comes when it is one step forward and two steps back, not sure where we are at the moment on that analogy.

  11. Martin February 8, 2016 at 7:58 am #

    When Matthew chucked in the dosh part of the equation would have involved how long he had to do so till a new stadium could generate extra revenue. Correct me if I am wrong, but we have heard nothing re the CPO appeal. Thus the gap is much longer than anticipated and we may have to adjust (hopefully) short term expectations/ambitions.

    • Roderic February 9, 2016 at 6:02 pm #

      The characters that run BFC, are always on about not releasing players, even with dying mothers, until they get their full pound of flesh; First Industrial Ltd, are a substantial company, who do deals with major UK companies, like Marks & Sparks, who are a real drive a hard deal company. FIL,are only trying to get value for money for the site, so why cannot the great man ( praise his name), agree an improved deal, to move the stadium project forward? It surely would not impinge much on his countless millions.

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