Well that’s a bit of an about turn. With Brentford heading into tomorrow night’s game at Aston Villa sitting eighth in the Championship table, just two points behind second placed Newcastle United, the mood is a positive one. Of course, we had the marvellous win down at Brighton on Saturday but, perhaps as importantly, we’ve now had an apology from Ian Holloway
Back in early August, the former Bee (his other clubs including Bristol Rovers and, of course, the Loftus Road mob) incensed Brentford supporters with his pre-season prediction that we would go down. Writing under the moniker of ‘football expert’ in his column for Sky Sports , he called us out to finish in 22nd place, noting: “Brentford are regressing. Mark Warburton got them punching above their weight. They still haven’t replaced Andre Gray and Alan Judge will be missing for the start of the season. They could be in trouble”.
Reaction at the club fans’ forum later that week was unanimous: “I just think it proves he doesn’t know a great deal about football, especially in West London” was the frank response from Chairman Crown. A similar observation came from Mark Devlin, who noted, “Who cares what pundits say” whilst Phil Giles was a bit more diplomatic, noting that Ian had commentated on the Bees in two very poor performances last time out. Perhaps that had crept into his prediction?
But it was Rasmus who came out with the zinger of the night. Fusing corporate with club, his observation on the former QPR man’s prediction of 22nd was a simple: “Thats not what Smartodds says”.
Which, I suppose, is amongst the reasons that he is the chairman of FCM aswell as a (newly appointed) club director at Griffin Park. Congratulations Rasmus. And, likewise, Phil , who also has similar role.
But I digress. There was something of a U-turn in Ian’s column yesterday as looked ahead to the Aston Villa game. He used that one to note, “I didn’t see Brentford’s wonderful win at Brighton on Saturday coming. I put them in the relegation zone in my pre-season predictions and I apologise wholeheartedly, they’ve lost some good players but they’ve got some good ones in.
What about Scott Hogan’s goal at the weekend? He jinked, he twisted and smacked it in the top corner. Unbelievable! So I’m giving another away victory to Brentford. I think it’s difficult for Aston Villa to win at home in front of that crowd when you’re expected to. Brentford will be a tough nut to crack.”
Fair play to him for eating those words. A month is a long time in football. Six games even longer. Whilst the table is still four games away from officially ‘taking shape’ we are starting to get a bit more of an idea about the form of the various runners and riders.
Huddersfield have already shocked many observers, as have third placed Barnsley . Ian called them to finish 23rd and 19th respectively, so at least Brentford aren’t alone. Frankly, as we’ve seen over the last two seasons, the Championship is just too open and too hard a decision to make such predictions.
As for the win he didn’t see coming or those goals from the player who just hasn’t replaced Andre Gray, why not take one more look…
Hogan makes it 10 from 10 as Andre Gray isn’t replaced. Or missed
But if Ian Holloway was in contrite form, the Brentford head coach was ebullient. He used his press conference ahead of Wednesday’s game to note: “The supporters at Aston Villa expect them to get straight back to the Premier League but they had a terrible season last year, adding “they have had a big turnaround and I am not sure that confidence is fully back yet. There has been a big change around in players but they have only won one game out of their six so far. Hopefully it is the right time for us to play them”
You can’t knock his confidence although, equally, one would hope he hasn’t done the job of giving Roberto Di Matteo’s team talk for him. That said, he did also note that “they played very well against Nottingham Forest yesterday and deserved to win the game.” But I’m with him on this one.
We DID play well on Saturday and are the team to beat. It will be tough, no question, but perhaps with a few fitness related tweaks to the starting XI, Aston Villa will find us as tough a nut to crack as Brighton did.
That said, if anybody does have faith in the team and accepts Mr Holloway’s new found belief in the Bees, club sponsor 888sport have us at a very generous price. Whilst it is said that the bookies are rarely wrong, surely this is too good an offer to pass up?
The other fall out from the Brighton game was an admission from Harlee Dean that he had been involved in some theatrics . West London’s Premier journalist Tom Moore published an interview with the player in which he is attributed to have said: “It’s modern-day football. I had an incident in the first half with Hemed when I went down. It was embarrassing for me, falling on the floor as a six foot three centre half.
“That is the way the game is played now and I’m disappointed in myself but it’s something that’s got to go out of the game. I don’t know why I did it.”
Refreshingly honest from our club captain or somewhat naive? Probably a bit of both although, equally, I find it a tad strange that he would admit this than for no other reason beyond knowing how picky referees are being this season. With Keith Stroud due at Griffin Park this weekend for the Preston game, admitting that you go down easily isn’t, perhaps, the most advisable course of action .
Then again, when Harlee was on his feet at the Amex, nobody could deny that he, along with John Egan, had a rock solid game at the back.
Here’s hoping for more of the same at Villa Park.