Jim Levack reviews the latest edition of Beesotted’s Pride of West London Podcast, which features Brentford’s Premier League Directors of Football, Rasmus Ankersen and Phil Giles, on what proved to be a very enlightening and thoroughly enjoyable event that was held on Wednesday evening in The Globe’s beer garden, Brentford.
Three years ago I told the football crowd in my office that Brentford would be in the Premier League inside five seasons. They laughed.
There was grudging respect for the club’s consistent progress from colleagues, most of them Villa or Coventry. But my dream was always dismissed as fantasy.
They’re not laughing now.
To anyone outside our club and fanbase, the ‘Brentford story’ and the forensic way we have gone about our task quietly and under the radar, was a mystery.
It still is to a degree. And that will be a major weapon in the next chapter of our journey, which will see us challenging for a top six spot within the next five years. There I’ve said it.
If you know about the Brentford model, you know. Pundits like Don Goodman and Andy Hinchcliffe might reel off pre-prepared ‘Brentford Bingo’ commentary notes, but they don’t really ‘get it’.
They are unaware of the values that underpin the club, the pillars of togetherness and attitude, the ‘no dickheads’ policy, the very ethos of the model that makes Brentford unique and allows B Team players to fit seamlessly into the first team.
Directors of Football Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen popping in for a drink and a Q&A session with Beesotted suggest that grounded approach isn’t going to change any time soon.
But now is where the real challenge begins. The next, and arguably hardest, step to take this ‘bus stop in Hounslow’ to the next level while retaining its friendly, family feel. That will be the toughest test of all.
If you haven’t listened to Phil, Rasmus – and Phil’s mum – then make sure you do. It gives a fascinating insight into the people who have played a pivotal role in getting us to where we are now.
Like the non-believers in my office, seven years ago when talk of a ‘stats-led model’ was first announced, I was one of the sceptics.
Unlike some, my cynicism was never aired publicly, but I was of the school that number crunching is all very well but utterly ineffective if the player concerned wasn’t the right fit as a human being.
Since then, more detail has emerged around the values and no dickheads policy – the foundations if you like – along with a humility that fate too can play its part in the perfect signing.
Where things didn’t work as they might have, the DoFs admitted they learned from it, held their hands up and got it right next time. Every mistake made them, and the model, stronger.
I blame my initial scepticism on the fact that I’m a glass half full journalist and the fact that the new concept being meticulously rolled out by Messrs Giles, Ankersen and Benham wasn’t explained quite as well as it could have been to all. A PR dilemma I guess. Say too much and you tip people off. Say too little and the naysayers thrive.
It’s a lot clearer now, and the proof of the pudding is definitely in the tasting… and the Premier League is a mouth-watering dish.
I have to say I could listen to Phil Giles gentle Geordie lilt all day. He’s a hugely intelligent bloke with a wonderful dry sense of humour. Our club is clearly in very safe hands.
I’m also a lot clearer about Rasmus Ankersen’s ying to the former Toon season ticket holder’s yang following this live podcast and his fans forum appearances over the past few years.
He has a caustic wit, as anyone listening to his comments about future player links with the “soft touch” negotiators at Midtjylland will testify.
The crowd at The Globe cheered every time ‘Premier League’ was mentioned and yes, now’s the time for us to revel in the ‘warm afterglow’ of promotion and upcoming fixture list.
But as the weeks go by, England’s defence fails them in the Euros once again and the big kick off draws near, we will need to shake off our plucky Brentford tag, abandon thoughts of being grateful to be there, ditch any inferiority complex we might have, and think bigger… whilst staying humble.
We are there on merit. We will be playing Man City and United, Spurs, Chelsea but we can’t afford to play their names or illustrious history. On each game day it will be 11 against 11 and we will be the unknown quantity.
Dave Lane, a bloke who I’ve shared many downs and ups and fought common foes with through the years, summed it up perfectly in the podcast intro.
“We’re not here to make up the numbers . We’re Brentford and we’re here to stay.”