Spending big is not necessarily spending clever.

6 Nov

Good morning Brentford fans. And it is a very good morning. A quick look at the Premier league table following last night’s results shows Fulham firmly anchored to the bottom. Their 1-0 loss at a Huddersfield Town side (who themselves scored their first home goal since mid-April) sees our West London neighbours propping up the rest of the league. Statistically speaking, that’s 24 points behind leaders Manchester City after just eight games and with a trip to Liverpool next up.

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Happy Tuesday in the Premier League

The current predicament seems even more horrific when you look at the outlay from Fulham over the summer. It’s been widely documented that the £100.3m they spent has  been matched by a mere £4m coming in. They’ve kept their squad together and built on it. Hugely. A net outlay of £96.3m is only beaten by Liverpool who top the big spenders on £131m (161m out ; 30m in).  

And what is the result of this? A top flight record of ‘goals against’ for a Premier League start (29 conceded already), the worst goal difference in the division, a form record of LLLLL and a confidence level that saw the BBC match report subsequently describe them as: ”A fragile Fulham side, stripped of confidence and there for the taking.”  

It’s easy to laugh. Let’s be honest. Equally, let’s not make out we wouldn’t like to be feasting at a higher table. Yet that is something which I have no doubt will come. And, when it does, we’ll be competing rather than unable to scrap for the crumbs discarded by others. We’ve talked so often on these pages over the last couple of seasons about how Brentford are doing things. How we are spending cleverly, within means, and using our unique methods in order to stay afloat, comply with FFP but also build for the future at Lionel Road. It becomes a bit of a cracked record at times yet when you see the talent that has been uncovered, aswell as being sold for vast profit down the line as the team continue to step up, one has to step back and take notice.

Likewise, I’m not going to pretend I wouldn’t love to have seen some of those heroes stay on. It still hurts so much to see Jota in the blue of Birmingham City although nobody could deny the form of our current widemen. Having the likes of Ollie Watkins, Sergi Canos and Said Benrahma as regular starters / first choice substitutes a luxury not many managers in this division have the benefit of. That, a situation which has arisen because of our ‘buy low and sell high’ policy. The departure of Harlee Dean (as much due to the the emergence of Chris Mepham) helped facilitate the return of Moses Odubajo and what already seems a huge bargain in picking up Ezri Konsa to further enhance the current squad. Then there’s Neal Maupay…

He’s the Championship’s leading scorer. He’s the Championship’s leading provider of assists. He’s the player who endured such a torrid start to his Brentford career last season – and that was just from Ian Moose. He’s the player who found his feet and perhaps, if anyone, illustrated just how fragile Fulham are when he bagged that late, late equaliser back in April  – ironically, the same day Huddersfield scored their previous home goal. It was a goal that deflated Fulham as easily as somebody letting the air out of a clacker or blow up hand and should have been seen as a warning sign.

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Mark Fuller’s picture captured THE moment at Fulham

Spending big is not necessarily spending clever. That’s for sure. Yet by the same virtue, look at Manchester City. Compared to previous ‘windows’ they’ve barely troubled the scorers over the summer. This, something very much in isolation for them. At the same time, I read a piece yesterday by Miguel Delaney of The Independent. It was an article described by the author himself on Twitter as an “Upbeat piece on football’s impending death”.

Click bait theatrics or genuine cause for alarm? The collapse at The Cottage is great value. For us, at least. The longer term prognosis in the top flight is, if you share Miguel’s opinion, a somewhat more concerning one. If you read one article today, make it his. You can do so here. Whatever your view on City’s approach, it’s well worth a look –  enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

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3 Responses to “Spending big is not necessarily spending clever.”

  1. Jay November 6, 2018 at 12:54 pm #

    ‘Yet that is something which I have no doubt will come. And, when it does, we’ll be competing rather than unable to scrap for the crumbs discarded by others’.

    Great stuff; love it – have you considered a stage career?

  2. martin west November 6, 2018 at 2:13 pm #

    oh yes i hear mrs brown is looking for a new boy.

  3. David Carney. November 6, 2018 at 2:27 pm #

    The history of football is littered with clubs that have bought failure by spending big. True, the figures are bigger now but how many super rich will throw away hundreds of millions failing to buy success and keep coming back to repeat the failure.
    Look at the examples of other sports, for example, professional Tennis was forecast to destroy the game, keep control to a powerful few, but instead it improved the standard of play, broadened the pool of players and increased public interest, the same with Cricket, Athletics, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Cycling, etc, etc,etc.
    Like it or not, the World of Football is not static and will never be so.
    If the logic of Miguel Delaney is correct, then Brentford should at best be wallowing in League 2, but probably lower, Bournemouth would be nowhere near the Premier League and the likes of Sunderland should be a regular member of the football elite. My view is that Delaney is more akin to a football Luddite.
    He has ignored simple facts like Ipswich becoming First Division Champions in 1962/62, Blackburn Premier League Champions in 1993/94, so Leicester City are not such an exception.
    Most Champions have been larger and had vastly superior financial resources than their opponents. The reason why clubs became large and financially strong was because they were successful.
    I suggest anyone who believes Delaney is correct should read the book entitled ‘The Gold Mine Effect’ written by Rasmus Ankersen, who identifies these Gold Mines in different sports and environments, then explains how they come about.
    If, for example there were to be 15 teams is some sort of ‘Super League’ and each team had 40 players, that would be a grand total of 600 players. That still leaves a lot of outstanding players in the World.
    Also, every media outlet in the World that would not have rights to this ‘Super League’ would promote viable alternatives. Excluded Clubs would continue to be successful, but as now, clubs down the lower end of the pecking order will continue to struggle, just as they do now – and always have. There is little public support for struggling clubs and that will never change.
    Look at our own little world of Brentford. Pre Benham, Brentford were facing oblivion with no prospect whatsoever that it could ever be successful again or ever break even, let alone make a profit.
    Today, Brentford sit on the cost of the Premier League, the investment by Benham is represented by a playing group with a value close to that Investment. Brentford has just about become a break-even operation and could move towards profits from this season AND gain promotion to the Premier League. Brentford has achieved this because Benham has introduced a group of people (with diverse and complimentary skills) working to support him that individually and collectively out think other Clubs.
    Spending money in football can be foolish just as it can be wise and the analogy is is you give two people money to spend, the fool will waste it and the wise person will accumulate it.
    I can remember as a boy watching an ‘expert’ on BBC TV in 1957 predicting that if John Charles were to accept the ridiculously large sum of money play for Juventus in Italy rather than staying in England and earning the maximum wage of 20 pounds per week it would encourage others to leave and English football would die.
    I also remember the discussion that televising live football matches would kill the game because no one would go to a game when they could sit at home and stay nice and warm in the process.
    Both of the above examples are just so obviously silly, but at the time were big issues causing much discussion and anguish.
    Best not to over think abstract issues and get on with building a successful club, just as Benham and his merry men are doing – after all that achieves a far better outcome for all.

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