Archive | Matthew Benham RSS feed for this section

With a new season upon us, The GPG give genuine cause for reflection.

27 Jul

Welcome back, Brentford fans. Football is almost upon us again and so the time has come to once more start looking at all things Bees related on these pages. Watford visit tomorrow for a friendly and then a week later proceedings kick off in anger (metaphorically speaking) when Rotherham come to Griffin Park. Championship action is back for a fifth successive season. Yet before all that, three things have happened in the last 24 hours that have caused yours truly to take stock and reflect (don’t worry – this isn’t going to be a heavy one). One involves QPR and the other two, our own supporter interaction.

First up, the GPG. Love it or otherwise (and I’ve done both at times), few could deny the hot bed of passion, opinion and supporter interaction that this site is. Like Beesotted, a group that looks to link the fans to the club, canvass opinion and encourage debate. Even if I’m always right and they aren’t.

Equally, and another thing they and Beesotted have in common, they are set ups that have contacts all the way to the top of the club. Previously Billy and Dave have had their own interview with Matthew Benham published on the Beesotted website. Last season, Trevor has had his own Q&A with our owner – led by supporters – appear on the GPG.

So why mention this now given both interviews were long covered off on these pages when they appeared? Put simply, Twitter. More to the point, something I saw on the social media website last night, posted by the GPG:

One of the things that makes this club special is our owner and supporters access to him. Anyone disagree?

There are many things that make this club special. The ongoing efforts to become involved in the local community. The proximity of players to the supporters – both inside Griffin Park aswell as in the streets around the ground. Nobody even blinks when they see one of the first XI en route to a game or the Chairman walking past the pub pre kick off. Likewise, Mr Benham – barring the nod of gratitude, acknowledgment of his presence or just general ’how’s it going‘ chat .  

Look at how exciting the Junior Bees Christmas Party is. The pre-season ‘meet the players’. Peter Gilham doing his thing like nobody else could. Then there’s Griffin Park and her ‘old school’ feel. Our ongoing status as unfancied under-dogs. Our use of social media (now that all that hashtag nonsense has stopped). Our shrewd, shrewd business in the transfer market. Etc etc etc

Griffin Park pre Wolves GP

Griffin Park – one of the many reason we are so special

But Matthew Benham is a class above. We all know how much money he has pumped into Brentford. Quite frankly, he has saved this club. We are now Championship regulars with a new home on the imminent horizon. We have a new structure and a B-team that is fast tracking players into the first XI. We pick up players for (relative) peanuts; we sell them for amounts that are beyond the dreams of avarice.

This isn’t meant as a Benham love-in. More to acknowledge how lucky we are to have a smart owner who has been a fan for close to forty years. A man who is running this club within sustainable means and who, whilst not one for the public eye, still takes time out to interact with fans (those twitter videos or the aforementioned interviews).

So when I saw the GPG post I had to agree. Hear, hear. Well said. There is so much going right at Brentford and it all stems from one man and his vision. His approachability.

This may not always be immediately clear to those of us who are sat outside, looking in. Last year’s summer transfer window and the Birmingham City triple transfer was proof of that. Even then, the pay back in February was just exquisite.

So long, and thanks for all the cash. And the points

Likewise, the understandable interest in Midgetland – not one shared by the majority of us on the terraces where support of a second club is a largely alien concept. Thankfully, that is something which has really been dialled back. The half time ‘lap of honour’ in the Walsall FA Cup debacle the nail in that coffin.

The point of all this? We’ve a fifth season in the Championship approaching. Rotherham are just over a week away and their visit heralds the start of our latest attempt to get us into the Premier League. Brentford, in the Premier League. To those of longer in the tooth it seems an alien concept yet one can only acknowledge that the vision of one man has put us in this position. We are now here by right. No longer plucky under dogs punching above our weight or against the odds. We are here on merit. Who cares if the wider football community still miss this.

And this season, I really think that next step will happen. This is the season that Brentford hit the top six but push on. The season that Brentford finally break that play-off hoodoo. I’d love to hear where Smartodds think we’ll finish. I’d love to hear where Matthew thinks we’ll finish. With Thorne In The Side seemingly on a self-imposed hiatus for now, I’m guessing it is the turn of BIAS for this season’s big Benham interview.

I can’t wait to read this one and see what he thinks will happen. Failing that, how about the Fans’ Forum this September….?   Either way, we’re incredibly lucky to have an owner who cares this much. Who, whilst infrequently, will take the time to interact with the fans in print.

Contrast our owner with the way QPR down the road are run. This afternoon it has been reported that they have agreed a settlement of almost £42m with the EFL after previously breaching FFP rules back in 2013/14. If I recall correctly, clubs were allowed losses of up to £8million that season. QPR ran up a deficit of £9.8million aswell as then seeing owner Tony Fernandes and other shareholders write off an additional £60million loan, deeming it an ‘exceptional item’. As you do.

At the time Fernandes denounced how unfair this all was. His team had been a Premier League club but after employing the likes of Neil Warnock and Harry Redknapp (not for the first time) were relegated (not for the first time).  Yet despite the rules in place they chose to breach them to suit their own situation.

My view has been consistent, that it is very unfair for a club that has been relegated as the wage difference between the Premier League and Championship is impossible. There should be a time period for clubs to rectify their salaries.

 “If we were in the Championship in two years with that wage bill it wouldn’t be right. I’m in favour of FFP but it is unfair for a club coming down.

Ah, diddums. If only we could all take the ‘its not fair’ defence. If only we could conveniently forget the parachute payments that already put clubs coming down into the Championship a huge advantage over the rest.

Welcome to the real world of football. Under Matthew’s stewardship Brentford have been trying to compete within the rules against the likes of over spending QPR and Bournemouth. Of Leeds and Aston Villa. We’ve had to watch for year on year as our best players are sold to balance the books. The likes of Moses Odubajo, Scott Hogan, Andre Gray, Jota, Maxime Colin, number 26 and Stuart Dallas.

How nice would it have been just to spend beyond our means and then moan about the rules. But no, Matthew is all about doing this right and now that chicken has finally come home to roost at Loftus Road. Good.

I’d love to hear what he has to say about that, although I’d imagine he’s too well-mannered to offer anything more than a diplomatic silence.

QPR Loftus Road

QPR – now got what they deserve

And finally, the other piece of supporter interaction outside of Twitter/The GPG.  I’ve this morning sent the summer’s sale proceeds from the Last Word season review e-book to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Downloads on that front have now dried to a trickle and so it seemed a timely juncture. Moreso with the new season approaching.

HUGE thanks to all of those who downloaded a copy. Apologies for even mentioning this (as I’m not one to overly blow the trumpet of charitable good deeds) but given the fact that people have once more been prepared to spend good money on this nonsense, the least I can do is a public acknowledgment of how fantastic our supporters are.

It’s still up there if anybody else wants one. Any further funds received will still go to the BFC CST. For now though, that horse has been well and truly flogged and so that’s me done.

Instead, we’ve the visit of Watford (and hopefully some rain) to look forward to on Saturday. And then, Rotherham await……

Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 09.56.08

Still available to download for your kindle / e-reader

Nick Bruzon

In Matthew we trust. Whatever happens over the next two weeks.

15 Jan

Newcastle United left Griffin Park with all three points last night and nobody can deny them that. They scored twice. Brentford scored once. Newsflash: that’s how football works. Yet even in defeat, I woke up this morning (duh-duh-duh-duh-duhh) full of positivity. As, it would seem, have the vast majority of those out in cyberspace. This, despite losing a game and the prospect of our star man on his way to West Ham/other after Dean’s strange decision in regards to team selection.

Thoughts on that were published in yesterday evening’s post match article. Worth a look purely for the ever eloquent views of Bernard Quackenbush in the comment’s section. And Bernard, if you are reading, then that special guest slot remains yours should you ever want to go ‘full fat’ on the column (not a euphemism).

Looking across Facebook and Twitter (other sources are also available) there is a lot of pride out there today at how well Brentford played. There is huge recognition of how well Lasse Vibe performed up top. Perhaps the immediate answer for when Scott is sold is sitting right under our noses. There is huge regret at the fact that Jota couldn’t quite complete his moment of magic in the 90th minute.

If not for the well deserved point that we would have scored but the sheer and unadulterated moment of mutual celebration that the 10,000 home supporters would have shared. Jota. In the last minute. After the Bees had been knocking on the door all second half. Just imagine the sheer ecstasy had he found the back of the net in such circumstances…

Even Mark Burridge has posted on facebook this morning to say that the game, “Was a pleasure to commentate on, Marcus, Mick and I really enjoyed it….had the last minute Jota goal happened then I feel the stadium would have erupted.”

Eruption probably the understatement of the decade.

So it is a morning of regret. But lovely regret. Disappointment yet in the nicest way. Honestly, I’m struggling to explain it properly. We lost. It’s normally the cause for a moan about not creating enough chances and, had we, then things might have been different. But yesterday we played. And we played so well. No pressure Dean, but a bar has been raised after outperforming the league leaders for huge periods.

As for Scott Hogan, well I’ve see some nonsense out there today. He didn’t come out for the second half. He didn’t warm up, his attitude sucks. Allegedly. Utter garbage.

If you want bad attitude then look at Dimitri Payet or Diego Costa. Scott has done nothing but carry on doing his thing when selected. Just look at the Birmingham game when rumours had long been gathering. You can’t blame the player for the manager’s decisions to declare him available, to not start him and then to not bring him off the bench.

We’ll sell him at some point, no question. But once the price is right. Standing outside The Griffin yesterday evening, Matthew Benham and his family walked past. “Don’t sell Hogan…” shouted one supporter . “Unless the price is right” , added another.

The response was immediate: “I’m holding out”. Anybody thinking they’ll get a cut price deal might do well to remember this isn’t the Brentford of old.

We’ll reinvest, but once the players are right (Hello? Operator? Can I have the number for Norwich City please?)  The likes of Tom Field, who had another great game yesterday, and Josh Clarke have already shown we have strength within the deeper squad. Chris Mepham has now had his debut whilst Jota is back and Rico Henry has still to show us what he can do. Alan Judge gets closer to fitness each day although perhaps that is a dream too far? Or is it?

One thing Matthew has shown is he loves to surprise us. Who would ever have thought Marcello Trotta would return after the rarely mentioned penalty incident? Yet return he did as he not only won back the fans after the lowest of lows but his goals then inspired us to that wonderful promotion.

They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup”. Not my words but those of Russell Slade after that incredible Lunchtime at Leyton Orient. Trotta scored the winner that day yet, but for Mathew’s shock decision, we’d never have seen him in Brentford colours again. But for Matthew’s decision who knows what might have happened that season?

1-0 Marcello

Marcello – Matthew brought him back despite everything

Whatever happens with Scott Hogan, anybody doubting the player’s attitude should probably take a step back. Anybody doubting that a decision made will be for the long term good of the club and the team might want to consider how the side has ebbed, flowed and transformed over the years.

Co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen, made that famous quote back in September 2015, telling supporters that “The goal is to get stronger after each transfer window”. Being honest, it has never quite felt as though we are stronger in the immediate short term yet this team and this squad keep going.

rasmus-goal-stronger

Perhaps this is as much through long term injury. As Andre Gray was doing his thing, Scott was undergoing that long, long recuperation. Imagine a team with those two together?  Now we have Rico Henry and Lewis Mcleod out for most of the season. Yet this has given others the chance to shine and I can’t imagine Tom Field giving up his place without a fight once the former Walsall man is fit again.

I’m bored of people getting overly critical about the make up of the squad or our long term direction. And that includes myself. How that squad is managed is a different issue altogether but Dean Smith showed yesterday we have players who can do it.

We came close. We lost. But we impressed. Can Dean get us to go one better? Can we get a repeat of our last away performance when we travel to Wigan next weekend? And then there’s the small matter of Chelsea away.

Whoever is picked, it’s a great time to be a Brentford fan. We’re fast approaching our fourth season in the Championship with a wonderful opportunity to cause an incredible cup upset. I’ve said it before but need to say it again. That’s just bonkers. Moreso, for those of us who have been here for sometime.

cliff-and-mike-1

Mike Ashley and Cliff Crown yesterday – Brentford now mixing it with the big boys

Anybody who doubts how far we’ve come just needs to look at yesterday’s match day programme. Part one of Mark Chapman’s piece on the failed takeover attempt by QPR is well, well worth a read to remind ourselves of what once might have been.

I disagree with how Dean handled Scott yesterday. A poor decision. One of the B-team should have been recalled. But I admire his trust in Lasse and how good to see that rewarded.

Who knows what will happen over the next two weeks? It might not be pretty. It might not be pleasing. Yet one can only trust in everything that has gone before and the way we are continuing to build for our long term future.

Now, who’s got shovel ? There’s a stadium to build.

vp3pyqad-jpg-large

The programme this season has been quality – credit to Mark Chapman

Nick Bruzon

Matthew Benham’s letter to fans – the verdict

22 Jul

Wow. With Brentford fans still talking about the sales of David Button to Fulham and Jake Bidwell to QPR, Matthew Benham caught us with a stunning surprise right (or should that be, write?). Yet again our owner proving he is the master of the unexpected but utterly welcome with yesterday’s open letter. Brutally honest, frank, revealing and optimistic as Matthew wrote to supporters with his thoughts on last campaign along with his hopes for the future.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 05.26.40

We want to be in the top six and we will see where we can go from there”. Boom. That was some opening and an aspiration for sure. Talk about set your sights high yet, at the same time, if we start this season like we ended the last one then absolutely no reason why not. Moreso given the new signings, “They are high-quality players, young and hungry and for all three there was unanimous backing from everyone in the recruitment process to sign them.”

We’ve been in the territory of ambitious hopes before. I still recall Rasmus telling us in September how the Brentford squad would get stronger each transfer window. Honestly, could we say that had happened when the January window closed?

At the time, no. Yet nobody can deny the players that did come in have grown, developed and are arguably performing much, much better having had games under their belt. Any club would do well to replace an Andre Gray but Scott Hogan has certainly picked up the baton and run. Goals were going in for fun. Moses Odubajo looked a huge loss but I love Max Colin – a player Matthew acknowledged himself was one of the odd ones to hit the ground running

Yes, we’ve had  to make some sales this time around. Inevitable but I can’t wait to see how those new players bed into an now established squad. Of course, we don’t know what else might happen before the summer window ’slams shut’ but, for now, the changes don’t seem anywhere near as wholesale as last time out. More to the point, they seem a lot more positive – at least in terms of potential and excitement for those coming in.

Of course the owner wants to big us up, to try and engender optimism. I get that and it’s natural. But, equally, there was  an undercurrent of almost too much honesty in there. That’s no bad thing – quite the opposite. We’ve all got eyes and we could see what was happening out there at times. Likewise, we’ve moaned on these pages about the lack of such an approach or fan comms in the past. It’s more that it was just so unexpected.

This time last year there wasn’t a lot of direction or organisation. I don’t blame anyone, it happened” and “We did change too much at once as well but I like it a lot that it’s stable this year” were just two of the lines to really jump out (see, also, talk about KK and the closure of the Academy). If you want to set yourself up to be criticised then here’s the ammo. Yet, to be honest, as supporters we could see this and we knew it too. Fair play for Matthew holding up his hand.

Tinfoil cup

The FA Cup dream was over after a rubbish afternoon

Personally, I’d have been disappointed had there been no recognition for some of the low points in a campaign that included the Marinus experiment, pitch gate, the FCM parade in our Walsall cup debacle and then the infamous 4-6-0 formation in the no show at QPR . Matthew didn’t need to highlight our flaws but that he has, and that they are recognised, is infinitely more welcome than his ignoring them. He could have hidden but he didn’t and this, for me, was probably the most telling point of the entire letter.

On the new stadium, there was a teaser of an update with the admission that: “We are close to taking another big step forward. Hopefully there will be news in the next few weeks”.

Nobody could deny that Lionel Road has been a long process, for numerous well documented reasons. However, with Brentford about to begin their third consecutive Championship season as a terraced club, here’s hoping for something else to cheer about on that front. The clock is ticking

I did find Matthew’s closing comment of “I don’t like it when fans sing my name though, I wish they would stop. It’s not for me” equally interesting. As somebody who normally keeps quite a low profile, to write his letter was an unusual (albeit welcome) step. To make this admission must have been a tough one.

If nothing else, supporters just want to recognise and thank him for what he has done. Then again, if we respect the man that much then perhaps one to drop from the repertoire for now.

If Matthew spares us goal music the least we can do is spare him a song !

Is everything as good as it could be at Brentford? No. If it was we’d be celebrating a Premier League title now, having gone up against Middlesbrough in the play offs and then beaten Leicester City to the title last season. But, it IS exciting.

Just to be starting a third successive Championship campaign after so long in the doldrums and coming ’so close’ gets my spine tingling. As somebody who has been coming to Griffin Park since 1979, to be in with another attempt at breaking into the top flight is one that genuinely excites and baffles me. Historically, our default mode is mid-table or sniffing around the trap door to tier 4.

Let’s be honest. There were a lot of things that made no sense last season and frustrated us. We’ve been there, done  it and you could write a book on the subject. But far be it from me to waffle on about that any more. That’s a job for others.

It’s a new campaign, a new start and I’m full of new optimism. Forget the hashtags and slogans. Just keep the straight talk coming.

Bring on Huddersfield Town…

20160312-145223-0008277-3199261_613x460

Nick Bruzon