When Brentford closed their academy and decided to focus their development interests on a smaller group of older (17 to 21 year old) players – the Brentford B team – there were sharp intakes of breath all around.
The academy was one of the flagships of a forward-thinking Brentford. And the fact that it was abandoned for various reason brought a lot of criticism to the club.
Eight months on, and with victories against Man United, Liverpool (on penalties), Southampton, Reading, QPR, WBA, SV Hamburg and credible draws against the likes of Bayern Munich and Valencia … oh and a European trophy under their belt, Beesotted decided to take a deeper look into Brentford’s B team to try and get a deeper understanding of what it is all about.
We headed down the M4 to QPR’s training ground in Harlington to see the Brentford B team take on their West London rivals in a match which saw Rico Henry play his first match for the Bees since signing from Walsall in the summer.
Watching QPR field a strong 11 with a number of first team players including Ravel Morrison, Idrissa Sylla, Matt Ingram, Jordan Cousins, Jack Robinson and Michael Doughty in their line-up, it was always going to be a tough shout for the Bees. But nothing they hadn’t dealt with before. E
We spoke to Brentford’s Head of Football Operations Rob Rowan who gave the full lowdown on the B Team ethos. And what the club has done to try and ensure a very clear path for players from the B team to the 1st team.
First team head coach Dean Smith describes how the B team fits in with his plans for the future. And how he has no problems throwing raw youth team players into the mix if he feels that they have the potential.
And B Team Head Coach Kev O’Connor gives us his thoughts on how the club has come a long way in a short space of time – giving young players plenty of opportunity to play first team football . However, he also emphasises that it’s up to them to take the opportunity and they need to work hard to ensure they don’t blow the opportunity.
All in all an interesting day spent in West London. Check out all the interviews and the post-match discussion on the Pride of West London podcast (above).