You know when you leave somewhere with a smile on your face. Not a smug smile. But a knowing smile. A confident smile. A smile that tells a million stories.
That’s a good feeling.
So as I walked out of the City Ground last night in Nottingham, I looked around me and saw Bees fans walking out with that knowing, confident smile on their face.
We’ve all been coming to football long enough to know when things are good. When things are bad. And when things are indifferent.
Yes football fans are notoriously fickle. Yes fans have, at times, the memory of an elephant. But then at other times, selective memory is the order of the day.
But for the 7th game out of 8 (only the Ipswich match was a bit difficult on the eye to watch .. but then Mick McCarthy ensured that we were unable to play our usual flowing football), we’ve been treated to yet another exciting football match with lots of goals.
We haven’t won all of them.
But by gum (as Liberal Nick would say), have they all been edge-of-your-seaters.
And more encouraging is how, after a pretty limp November, December & January period, we have gone on to impress. We took Villa apart on Sky TV (3-0) which saw the commentators purring about our style of football and waxing lyrical about our striker Vibe being an incredible danger man – as if they had any idea who he was before the programme started. Then top-of-the-table Brighton drove away from Griffin Park absolutely delighted to have earned themselves a last minute point in a scintillating 3-3 game.
We’ll pass over Preston although the six goals (2-4) didn’t make it a boring affair to watch at all.
Then Reading managed somehow to take all three points from us in a game in which we dominated pretty much from beginning to end with two fairly late goals – including one from a Bentley mistake. Our chums from The Tilehurst End Reading blog asked after the match “How the hell did we win that match 3-2 .. and more to the point .. how are you mid-table?”
Sheffield Wednesday (2-1) saw some clinical finishing from the Bees defence followed up by some dogged defending at the other end of the pitch.
Then came Rotherham. Of course they weren’t going to roll over. They didnt make it easy for us. But two goals in injury time by Jota turned disappointment into joy as the Bees claimed all three points winning 4-2.
Then there was that Ipswich match in which we should have won but drew. And fair enough. There will be matches like that in a season and you have to roll with the punches.
So we come to Forest. We can wax lyrical about how well we played in this match. We were cruising at 3-0 but allowed Forest to score 2 late goals to make the match sound like squeaky bum time.
The reality was … it wasn’t really squeaky bum time at all.
We took off Vibe, Jota and Yennaris – looking ahead to Saturday’s battle with promotion-chasing Huddersfield – who had now played three matches in 7 days. A decision was made to give our youth a bit of experience once we were 3-0 up – bringing on Shaibu (who actually came on at 2-0 but there was 10 minutes to go at the time) and Reece Cole in a match that we were dominating.
Forest scored their 2nd goal in three minutes added on of extra time. There was barely time for the referee to restart the game before the match was over.
But forget Forest’s late flurry. What was more important was what went on in the previous 80 minutes (minus Forest’s 10 minute purple patch at the end of the 1st half). Brentford showed real signs of class. And look like a team who are setting themselves up for a proper push on promotion next season.
You only have to look at the props receives from the opposition if you dont want to pat yourselves on the back.
Reading manager Jaap Staam said in his post-match Newcastle conference in which The Royals held Newcastle to a 0-0 draw:
“The best two teams we have played at home this season have been Brentford and Fulham”
Meanwhile Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy said after our 1-1 draw with The Tactor Boys:
“They were very, very good. They deserved a point, they probably deserved to win it, they were the best team”
Forest Manager Gary Brazil said after his team was beaten:
“But I also have to give Brentford credit, because some of their football was excellent”
But more to interestingly, Forest fans were very complimentary of Brentford’s style of play after the match. You normally have to do something fairly special to get props from opposition fans.
All this doesn’t mean very much if we can’t put it to good use next season. We have the nucleus of a very good side at the moment. Our biggest issue will be keeping the team together in the summer as the vultures come circling – something that we will talk about on this week’s Pride Of West London Podcast (out on Thursday morning 7am). We saw that two seasons ago when our best players were plundered by teams with bigger pay cheques.
The big difference between then and now is most of our key players (bar probably Jota) are now on long-term contracts (three and four years). When we reached the Championship playoffs, most of our players had only one and two years left on their contacts. Longer contracts put the ball firmly in Brentford’s court when it comes to selling players. We could quite simply say NO to transfers out one season if we decide on a promotion push and then see how it goes at the end of that year.
Will next season be the season when we roll the dice?
So we’ll enjoy each week as it comes at the moment. It’s become a pleasure and not a chore to watch the Bees play at the moment.
And as for next season … lets just see how things pan out and wait and hope that come September 1st, we have the full complement of players still with us … plus a couple more to boot.