Tag Archives: co-director

Not quite a sick relative as agents play dirty, West Ham beckon and furious Phil rages.

22 Jan

Brentford lost at Wigan Athletic on Saturday. 2-1. The video highlights are here. The BBC, official etc have the match reports of what Dean Smith would subsequently describe as a  ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ performance after running Newcastle so close 7(seven) days earlier. Yet it was the talk surrounding Scott Hogan and his on/off move to West Ham that reached a new level after the game as the Wigan result played very much second fiddle in the post match talking points.

It’s an unchanged starting XI for The Bees this afternoon at the DW Stadium” declared Brentford official on Twitter as the team was announced prior to kick off. What they didn’t make any reference to was the changed bench as Scott Hogan hadn’t even made it into the match day 18.

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Unchanged. Kind of…

Another minor injury? Was he being protected ahead of the Chelsea game? Was he on strike in an attempt to force through a move? Or had one of his relatives been feeling unwell?

As it transpired afterwards it was none of these with Dean Smith revealing that the player had a ‘tight hamstring’ and ‘felt it would be a risk to play‘ after being seduced by talk from agents. Dean telling BBC sport that with what he’s been told is on offer for him, it’s very hard for him to go out and play.

With what he’s been told is on offer for him, it’s very hard for him to go out and play,” Dean told BBC Sport in an interview you can hear here.

But it was West London’s Premier Journalist, Tom Moore, who threatened to blow the lid off what was going on behind the scenes. “Just spoken to a livid Phil Giles. Explosive Scott Hogan update coming”, said his Twitter thirty minutes after full time.

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Not my words but those etc etc

We had to wait a further five hours before the big reveal where, it was fair to say, that our co-director of football was threatening to do his own David Banner impersonation. Clearly, he wasn’t happy about agents circling. Phil – welcome to the world of the humble supporter,

The story, which you can find here, contains three counts of livid, two furious, three variants of rage and four no criticism of Scott. The meat of the subject matter being what we’d all suspected – that agents are whispering sweet nothings into his ear about what he could be earning at West Ham and, as such, it is affecting a player who wants to compete but is distracted.

Interestingly, despite an approach that Phil describes as “Completely illegal” the club will not be making a complaint to the FA. This, for me, is the oddest part of a story which has been played out very much in the public eye. A story which has had more leaks than the Titanic. If we are that convinced then why are we taking no action?

Indeed, both Dean and Phil have gone out of their way to defend the player. This, the complete opposite stance to when James Tarkowski refused to play against Burnley ahead of his move to Turf Moor. At the time, the club put out an immediate statement saying how the player had declared himself unavailable after being selected and “as a result of these actions he will be disciplined by the club”, later adding that, “the club will make no further comment on potential punishment.

Whilst Tarkowski would later cite a sick mother as the reason for refusing to play against a team he was looking to move to, this time the justification is an apparent minor injury. Presumably our medical team were in agreement with this? Or is it just an excuse to avoid us getting backed further into a corner with one of our biggest games of the season a week away?

As Phil notes in Tom’s article : “The whole thing is ridiculous. We’re looking ahead to next week – what are we going to do then? We want to pick our best players. We’re paying our best players to play a big game.

Will Scott feature if he hasn’t been sold? Will he want to? Will that hamstring ‘injury’ have cleared up?

One thing is for sure. I can’t imagine this ending cleanly unless diplomacy of an ambassadorial level takes place. And fast. But that’s now living in cloud cuckoo land.

Matthew Benham confirmed last week “I’m holding out” so if West Ham refuse to stump up to our valuation, then things could get very awkward. The club clearly aren’t going be held to ransom whilst Scott’s immediate focus would seem to be elsewhere.

This is lose-lose for everybody at present, with the clock ticking on time for Brentford to get a replacement in should the sale go through. Unless, of course, the plan is to see the season through with The Hoff and Lasse as our choices up top.

Either way, the sooner this ends the better. And if for no other reason than Phil’s blood pressure. The said, how nice to hear him displaying such passion and anger in public.

Now let’s hope it can be channelled for the greater good.

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Scenes unlikley to be repeated ?

Nick Bruzon

Rasmus speaks ahead of our final game…

7 May

Brentford are almost home. It’s Saturday morning and we’ve a game against Huddersfield Town just hours away. Whatever else happens we’re clear of both QPR and Fulham (whose fans continue to bite) in the Championship table after this most up and down of seasons. And should anybody have twenty minutes and any battery power to kill on the way up to, or back from, Yorkshire then Rasmus has spoken…

But firstly, the game at Huddersfield Town. The overwhelming desire for points aside, the big question for me remains one of team selection. In the best sense. Last weekend’s thumping of hapless Fulham saw Scott Hogan grab a brace, that wonderful 7th 5th minute effort from Sam Saunders and the oh-so confident debut of development squad left back Tom Field in place of Jake Bidwell.

Tom Field

Will Tom Field ‘go again’ ?

I’d love to see both Scott and Tom given another chance. With Scott, it will be a question of risk/fitness although I am sure he is chomping at the bit to try and grab at least one more after such a lengthy period out. To say his recent run has been prolific would be nothing short of an understatement. Indeed, he was nominated for April’s Championship player of the month with barely 90 minutes of football under his belt.

As for Tom, how do you drop Jake Bidwell if he is fit? The answer is that you probably won’t, although at the very least I’d hope an appearance off the bench is used as a sign of the faith we have in the young player. Much like Scott’s recent run, the confidence shown in Tom’s debut performance really cannot be underestimated. Moreso given Fulham tried, and failed, to exploit what they perceived to be a weakness in our team. No goals against and two assists tell their own tale !

As ever, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and only Dean Smith knows who will start. The rest of us mere mortals will find out at around 11.15 this morning whether in the ground, on Bees Player or via Twitter.

For many of us, it will be an attempt at simul-cast. Watching Boro – Brighton with the sound off whilst listening to Mark Burridge and his team via ‘Player’. Much as I’d love to have been there today, family time calls. Instead, I’ll kid myself that it’s a process banking the ‘away trips’ for next season.

The other thing to grab my attention was the video from co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen which appeared on the official site yesterday evening (and you can find at the end of this column). I’m the first to admit being quite critical of Rasmus / the club over the course of the season in regards to their approach (or lack of) to comms. So it was with intrigue that I’ve sat through the twenty minute video piece.

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Rasmus is back on Bees Player

With Chris Wickham very much administering a gentle probing, the over–riding message seemed to be that the current campaign has seen a rebuilding and consolidation exercise. That we are now in a position where the squad has contract stability and is a group of players we’d like together for the next two years.

It was another attempt to explain the strategy of the club. Something that, equally, is a lot easier in hindsight where the initial results of our decisions and the quite apparent observation that new players will take time to ‘bed in’ can be reviewed in the cold light of day.

Being honest, I do get the message Rasmus is trying to give out here although I thought it was a bit harsh at one point when asked if supporters understood what the club are trying to achieve.

I can understand why some fans feel we destroyed the team from last season – that’s how it may have looked from outside…sometimes you have to take one step backwards to take two steps forwards” and later, “A lot of things we have been working on are not things you will see the results of immediately. Our job is to build a platform.I understand it can be difficult when you don’t have that context.”

And here is my gripe – this lack of immediate context. Clearly, he relates to the shorter term viewpoint of fans and their emotional bond with our team, noting, “We’re privileged to be working in an environment where people have so much passion and interest in what you do..,.. we shouldn’t complain about being in a world where people have a lot of passion.”

For many of us, rightly so, it’s all about the result. Dean Smith himself was described as the second hand on a clock that keeps us ticking .  “We play a game, we get a result and we go again next week”.

There is a bigger plan afoot here. That much is evident and it was good to hear him enlarge upon this. But we are back to the context thing. Rasmus talked about building a culture amongst the players. All well and good and, indeed, one I agree with.

How about with the fans? This video was a great start, but it seemed very much the exception rather than the rule, safely delivered after we’d been through what will politely be called ‘the sticky patch’ at the start of 2016.

How hard would it be to have an update once a month  / quarter ongoing? How hard to make more of a regular attempt to engage with us over, what I am sure, will be an exciting but challenging next few seasons.

Otherwise, just how do you expect fans to buy in to what you are trying to achieve  and get that ‘context’ if we aren’t able to peer behind the curtain?

Genuinely. I’m pleased Rasmus has spoken. It is impossible to dispute his observation that we are in 10th place in the Championship, despite the challenges of building a foundation whilst trying to balance contracts, budgets and meet FFP.  What individuals make of the message I’ll leave to you.

As a final thought on this, two quotes.

1-When talking about the problems we’d had at the start of the campaign (pitch, Head Coach, injuries) .. “It definitely will not happen again“.

2-Re the summer transfer window: “I am pretty confident that we’ll leave the transfer window stronger than we entered it”.

Both are big claims and fans don’t forget. I remember being told in September, “The goal is to get stronger after each transfer window.”

Whilst he has used the video to expand on how this has panned out this time around, it will be very interesting to see how that assertion is met at the end of the summer.

For now though, I can’t knock this attempt to explain more to the fans. More of the same ongoing would be good.

Rasmus speaks

 

Nick Bruzon

Do we really want Griffin Park to become Jurassic Park?

21 Mar

Are Brentford on social media lockdown after #SwiftHipstergate overshadowed the post match press conference following the Blackburn?

And no, that’s not a typo but at present we can all take subsequent use of the word ‘debacle’ as a given.

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John Swift wasn’t smiling (or a hipster) after Dean swung the disciplinary axe

None of the usual suspects have tweeted anything football related, let alone gone again. Whatever your thoughts on that most awkward of phrases, the use of Twitter and Instgram (amongst other mediums) provides a valuable insight into squad morale and feeling. Both good and bad. Yet there has been nothing out of Harlee, Sergi, Sam, or Nico since the loss to Blackburn.

Has Dean Smith ordered a clampdown to try and maintain some semblance of control? Are the players taking a deliberate step back given the oxygen of publicity breathed into the situation by our head coach after he walked straight into Billy’s gentle probing with a very honest answer to Swift’s absence? Or is there nothing more to this than an overactive imagination from yours truly?

Personally speaking I think that although pushed into a corner from one respect, Dean has made the wrong decision here. Swift shouldn’t have started against Blackburn simply for the performance, or lack of, in the QPR game. But to then limit your bench options when there is a player who has apologised immediately, and must be chomping at the bit to prove doubters wrong, is very much the proverbial condemned man opting for canibalism as a final meal.

Casting the social media net that bit further afield to upper management, only Chief Executive Mark Devlin has dipped his toes into the waters of cyberspace on anything like a regular basis. Whilst Matthew Benham published his ‘cryptic clue’ last week, it was the first time he’d posted in a long while – albeit understandable given his prior absence (presumably as a result of some of the crazy abuse and comments being directed his way).

Chairman Cliff Crown and co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen, both previous exponents of Twitter, haven’t posted in almost a month. 27 and 22 February respectively, to be precise. Both of which is a huge shame for a club that has always been so big on fan interaction and, whether we like it or not, are going through somewhat of a rough patch on the field.

Whatever the reason I can understand why the players, at least, are taking somewhat of a backseat. Any attempt to pour oil on troubled waters at that moment would be more like chucking it onto an already raging chip fire. Indeed, such is the depth of feeling and emotion out there about our current predicament that I’ve seen people calling for Dean Smith’s head (metaphorically) and a return for the likes of Andy Scott or Martin Allen.

Say that slowly. Andy Scott or Martin Allen.

Both are men I loved in their day. Andy – both on the pitch and in his early stint as manager. Martin – well to say he is larger than life is probably an understatement to rank alongside suggestions that Steve Evans gives a calm and measured post-defeat press conference. These days though, Andy is more associated with highlights in ladies hair than on Football Focus whilst Martin Allen would, surely, be a step back into the Jurassic era?

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Martin – larger than life

Whilst I have huge respect for both men, they’ve had their time at Griffin Park. More importantly, would a fourth different Head Coach in less than a season be of any real benefit? Things aren’t working out at present, that’s for sure, but to bring in yet somebody else with so few games to go would be both a brave and risky call.

Much like the loan signings we are supposedly after, if anybody was any good they’d already be in employment at the moment. Unless, of course, Steve Coppell is reading (he isn’t).

Whatever the pitchfork wielding mob are calling for, I fully expect Dean to be at the reins when we start up again against Nottingham Forest in just under two weeks. Besides, IF Matthew was even contemplating a change (and its a bigger IF than Steve Evans) surely he would look for a short term internal fix?

Somebody who has their UEFA A coaching badges. A former player with diverse knowledge of the European game. A man who knows the players, who has a reputation as a motivational speaker and, now that FCM are out of the Europa League, may have a bit more time on his hands.

I’ll leave that thought with you…

Nick Bruzon

As Brentford go down to Walsall, FCM can FC….

9 Jan

Walsall are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup; Brentford are out. This is the simple fact after The Bees went down 1-0 in torrential conditions. Don’t let the weather disguise anything though – the Saddlers wanted it more, they deserved it more and they made Brentford look very much second best. But it was the half time shenanigans involving FC Midtjylland which still leave a bitter taste in the mouth long after the final whistle has blown.

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View from the terrace – David Button slips in the rainy conditions

Let’s be clear – I don’t know where this club would be without Matthew Benham. The amount of investment he has made in Brentford FC, along with his bold vision for a new stadium at Lionel Road, have taken us from the brink of meltdown to the brink of the Premier League.

I also know he has numerous other business interests – primarily Smartodds, Matchbook and the aforementioned Danish Champions. Frankly, I don’t care about that when I’m at Griffin Park cheering on the Bees. Good luck to him and everything but I support Brentford. I wanted to see MY team try and progress in the FA Cup today.

What I didn’t want was the most sycophantic parading of another football club, on a lap of honour, around our pitch.

What I didn’t want was to be asked to applaud them for nothing more than being fortunate enough to be drawn against Manchester United in the Europa League.

What I didn’t want was to be reminded over the P.A. system that our co-director of football, Rasmus Ankersen, splits his time between the Bees and FCM where he is their chairman.

At a time when we were being played off the park after putting in one of the most abject first half displays I can recall for some time – Swift and McEachran in particular being totally anonymous (what do Chelsea put in the water of their youth team ?) – this was a time to focus on our team in our cup competition. Not one of Matthew’s other investments.

By this logic can we expect Smartodds employee of the month to be afforded a similar privilege against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night?

With fans fearing we’ve seen the last of Toumani Diagouraga – and if ever a game was crying out for him it was this one, although I understand he was injured – what I didn’t want was an over crowded and directionless central midfield.

I bumped into Rasmus outside the pub before kick off. I did have a chat with him about the FA Cup and he came across as very pleasant. However, that doesn’t cut the mustard when we then witness what happened next – both at half-time and during the game.

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Will we be seeing the back of Toumani ?

Imagination free substitutions (Judge aside) in a game where it was apparent after the first twenty minutes that somebody with the pace and experience of Sam Saunders was exactly what was required. Instead, we had sideways pass after sideways pass and then like for like changeovers. What Macca did to be hauled off I don’t know – along with Harlee, Jack and Jake he really stood out as wanting to get involved.

The only saving grace being that at least Alan Judge showed some invention when he came on and, as importantly, cup tied himself. Yet when we did get in on the Walsall goal, their goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was on hand to pull of a couple of stonking second half saves. Full credit to that man.

The FA Cup is HUGE in this country. With a direct parachute into the third round, even allowing for a handful of changes from the regular starting XI, I’d have thought we’d have been bang up for this one and a potential tilt at breaking the Wembley hoodoo. Instead, we had to stand through a first half no-show followed by the bizarre parade.

It was a monumental slap in the face to everybody who had paid hard earned money to get into Griffin Park. And I’m sorry if that bucks the corporate line. I’m not employed by Brentford FC and I’m certainly not a supporter of FC Midtjylland. Why would I be?

I have no connection with that club beyond knowing that, amongst others, one of the men most responsible for our transfer policy has his attention split between us and them. This is not a dig at the statistical model. Indeed, it genuinely hurts to say anything negative about the club I’ve supported since 1979.

This is a dig at the fact that when we should have been focusing on the FA Cup, instead there seemed to be a genuine expectation that we’d fawn at the temple of Midtjylland.

Good luck to them in Europe. For Matthew’s sake I’d hope they do well. But on a day when I helped my son make his first ‘tin foil trophy’, I’m ending it feeling thoroughly dejected about what happened today at Griffin Park.

Nick Bruzon