With Brentford due up against Sheffield Wednesday today, Bees fans woke to find we’d been overtaken in the table by Burton Albion whose 1-0 derby win over, erm, Derby moved them into the play-off zone. And those who went to bed really, really early have woken to the news that Championship rivals Barnsley have accepted a bid of £5million from Swansea City for former Bee Alfie Mawson.
First up, today’s game. On paper Brentford are looking good at Griffin Park. Played 2, won 2, scored 3, conceded 0. Sheffield Wednesday, on the other hand, have picked up 1 point form the last 3. On paper.
The Owls have been one of the teams to provide us what could politely be called ‘a challenge’ since our return to the Championship. If not quite at Middlesbrough standards then certainly a team we’ve struggled against.
A 0-0 at Griffin Park under Mark Warburton the best we’ve achieved . That, a result which was followed by 1-0, 2-1 and 4-0 defeats. Wednesday being, if you will, the anti-Fulham when it comes to Brentford performance. So can we do any better today ?
You’d be brave to call it. On the one hand , we’ve looked wonderful at times and dominated the possession in our game at Rotherham. On the other, despite dominating the possession we came away from that one on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat whilst both Ipswich and Nottingham Forest left Griffin Park feeling somewhat hard done by.
All three games showing that most basic of football lessons – it doesn’t matter how hard you huff and puff or how much the stat chart showed you held onto the ball. At the end of the day (Clive), the rewards go to the the team that can take their chances when they present themselves.
Look at last night’s Championship action. Derby County had 64% possession. Almost double that of their opponents. Yet it was Burton Albion who took a 12th minute chance and left their more fancied neighbours floundering as they retained that lead for an historic 1-0 win .
It was a result that shows, once more, how tough the Championship is and how nobody can be taken lightly. Our own Bees have already proven that, coming 5th and 9th in our first two seasons at this level. Kudos to Rotherham United for staying up having joined at the same time as the Bees whilst Preston North End, on their return last season, surprised many with just how well they did. Could Burton now be joining those ranks?
Reputation and domination count for little these days. Take your chances, whomever you are playing, and the rest comes naturally. It sounds so simple. On paper.
The other news of interest for Brentford fans was that about Alfie Mawson. A player who came up through the youth team, having joined from Reading in 2010, he left for Barnsley when his contract expired at the end of June 2015. Despite having been offered a new deal two months earlier, Alfie opted for dropping down a division and to take his chances in League One.
With the likes of Tony Craig, Harlee Dean, James Tarkowski, Raphael Calvet, Jack O’Connell and Finland international Daniel O’Shaughnessy also in the squad, you can understand part of his decision making process. Certainly, it was one which has proven to be correct for the player, with Barnsley winning promotion through the play-offs aswell as the JPT final. And Alfie, like Harlee Dean, even being awarded a football league ‘unsung hero’ award.
Should / could Brentford have tried harder to keep him? Or is hindsight a wonderful thing? Probably a bit of both. The evidence was certainly there to suggest that Alfie could go far. His loan period at Wycombe in 2014/15 saw him scoop several player of the year awards (including supporters and players) aswell as coming third in the running for divisional player of the season. Something that hadn’t gone unnoticed up North.
Yet, ultimately, the decision was the player’s. Lets not forget that. Likewise, do bear in mind also that this is exactly how we have acquired Dan Bentley, John Egan and Romaine Sawyers this season.
The list of ‘next big things’ at Brentford who have had all the potential but not quite delivered is legion. As is those who supporters have been happy to see released only for players to find new form at a new club. See, amongst others : Northern Ireland International Will Grigg and the aforementioned Lewis Grabban – the benchmark figure for subsequent transfer inflation with his value accelerating from £0-8/9m in six seasons.
Instead, rather than the usual social media based angst, perhaps the more pertinent point from Alfie’s case is to highlight more just what our youth system was capable of. We’ve already seen Tom Field and Josh Clarke break into the first XI.
Here’s hoping the B team can follow suit. And in the meantime, good luck to Alfie in the Premier League!