With a month to go until the first match of the new season, Bees fans sit nervously watching updates on their phones and laptops hoping the Brentford DoFs strengthen the squad with four or five quality signings whilst keeping the core of the squad together.
Having managed to have kept the squad pretty much intact last summer – with Ryan Woods, John Egan and Florian Jozefzoon the only first-teamers to have departed the camp in the summer, it goes without saying that we were going to be under pressure from more ‘churn’ this summer as teams come sniffing around our players
And with rumours continually wafting around about Maupay, Benrahma and Watkins, it looks like it’s going to be a bum-clenching month for Bees fans as we watch the ins and outs at Griffin Park.
Will Matthew Benham stick? Or will he twist – with it being our last season at Griffin Park?
After being so near but so far last season, I’d put money on him sticking and us going for a first season a new stadium in the Premier League.
With Yoann Barbet, Josh McEachran, Lewis McLeod and Moses Odubajo all having left the club after not having contracts renewed, we now come to the slightly trickier juggling act of bringing in suitable new players whilst getting the best deal for any players who decide to leave for pastures new.
And the signs are there of Brentford’s intent this season with Ethan Pinnock (centre back), Christian Norsgaard (centre mid) and David Raya (goalkeeper) signing for a total of around £9m to date.
Goalkeeper Dan Bentley is the first of Brentford’s first team to have left the fold this summer for a fee – having signed for West Coast rivals Bristol City for a fee of around £2.5m (plus add ons).
Signed from Southend in Summer 2016 a season after saving a penalty at Wembley that gained The Shrimpers promotion to Division 1, Bentley was well received at Brentford by fans and players alike – deemed a future England Number One and predicted to play at the very highest level.
But Bentley’s career seemed to have plateaued at Brentford. Rumours of an alleged falling-out with the goalkeeper coach. Whispers of a personal family tragedy. All of this would not have helped his form.
He was particularly gutted when we spoke to him at Darlington Station – the day that he injured his arm in what ended up being his final match for Brentford. In retrospect, I think he knew that was his final game for the Bees. There was something in his eyes.
Taking this all into consideration, some may say a move to another club at this particular time was best for both parties. Bentley desperately needed a change of scenery to get back to the form he was in when he joined the club. Brentford needed a change of keeper (click here for article David Raya signs for Brentford)
As Daniel Bentley moves West, we wish him well (except against us of course).
Having met him a few times, he was a top bloke. Always willing to talk to the fans. And, despite not having the best of seasons last term, he was still a very good keeper who always gave his best for Brentford.
And there aren’t too many fans who can lay the claim that their goalkeeper has saved a man from drowning. Or has saved a shot with his face.
We talked to Beesotted regulars who reminisced on the best … and the worst of Dan Bentley’s time at Brentford.
Best of luck Daniel
Beesotted Contributors’ Bentley Reflections
Tony Ryan (@oldmead)
Lou Boyd (@LordLouCan)
Jon Restall (@TheCondorman)
Caleb Johnson-Cowan (@cjohnstonecowan)
Andy Cooper (@HongKongBee)
Greville Waterman (@grevillewaterman)
Edwood the Headwood Langdon (@HeadLangdon)
xG Dave Anderson (@DavidAnderson_1)
Keith Ed Sheeran Allen
Robin Hood McMichael (@robinmcmichael)
Your fondest memory of Bentley
Bentley’s best moment for me was the penalty save away at Fulham. It wasn’t a great penalty but his anticipation for the direction of the shot and the brave follow-up smothering of the ball is a good summary of what he’s best at.
When we played Millwall at home in 2011, Bentley was bang on form. Incredibly flexible, he made fantastic save after save. Saving penalties is also a strength of his and he came up with a gem here. It was Bentley v Gregory and the stopper pulls off a wonderful trademark save from 12 yards. He clearly works hard studying the opposition in this area and it’s a great trait.
Keith – Ed Sheerhan
My best Bentley moment was the “Save with his head”. I can’t remember the game though.
He made quite a few sublime cross-field passes particularly in early days
The whole first season where most fans were convinced we’d upgraded significantly on David Button and Bentley was destined for the top level in the near future. He always seemed great at engaging fans
Edwood the Headwood
Quite clearly saving with his head and his knob (which became quite popular terrace songs). His engagement with the fans before each kick off was also very good
His match winning performance against Millwall for our first home win of the 17/18 season where he pulled off a brilliant penalty save.
Reminiscing on Dan Bentley
Bentley arrived as a young keeper full of potential. From interviews it was obvious from the get go that he is intelligent, hard working and reflective.
He was never really strong at crosses. I always felt that he needed to dominate his area better. But he was a great shot stopper and who improved as the months progressed.
The strongest part of his game was his positioning. His success in saving goals when one-on-one with an attacker. And his distribution – both throwing and kicking.
To play the Brentford way demands requires complete synergy between keeper and defenders. This has been clearly missing at times in the last year.
Bentley appears to be the ultimate confidence keeper in the championship. A great shot stopper on his day. But never really grew into a goalkeeper that commanded a defence.
Bentley joined the Bees as a confident upcoming English keeper who looked destined for the Premiership. As his tenancy in the Bees goal continued the errors starting to rise, miskicks and fluffed handling, and you felt the opposition sensed this.
He wasn’t helped last season by a flat four struggling to play possession football under a high press but he worsened the situation with some poor judgement and kicking.
There are also rumours flying around that he struggled with our change of goalkeeping coach. If he gets his confidence back then he could still play in the Premier League and Bristol might have a bargain on their hands
Bentley gave up some time to do a bit of coaching with my lad. A really decent guy.
Excellent shot stopper. Great distribution. Good on one on ones. Lacked judgement and concentration and prone to costly errors.
Edwood the Headwood
Bentley had a fantastic start to his Brentford career. He was a great “shot-stopping, agile, quick-to-close down forwards” keeper. Particularly, after Button’s consistent kicking the ball-out-to-touch nonsense, I thought his ability to lob the pressing striker to either left / right back (with some head in hand moments too) was exceptional.
One of the best in the division with the ball at his feet, Bentley is a distribution master. The problem we found ourselves stuck with was the fact that his skills in possession were no longer enough to compensate for his waning ability between the posts.
My final memories are unfortunately of him being erratic, poor in terms of concentration and a keeper that appeared to have lost any sense of when to stay at home or come out and deal with danger.
As Brentford fans we’ve become accustomed to young players getting better and better right before our eyes – taking continued progression for granted as so many of our players improve at a fairly consistent rate.
Bentley and Josh McEachran particularly buck this trend as neither has benefited or developed from the meticulous training plans constructed for them. Instead they’ve struggled where somehow so many others around then have thrived.
Whether it be external factors, internal politics or coaching techniques, Bentley, as some people would like to suggest, can’t just become a bad keeper overnight. To the contrary, he’s gradually become a bad keeper over time. He started so well in a Brentford shirt but has consistently gotten worse with the 18/19 season hitting a tough to watch low.
Worst Bentley moment
Hull away last season. Errors allowed a team we were on top of going forward take advantage of the game with Hull then going on an unbeaten run that could have been us instead.
The most disappointing of them all for me personally was the two nil collapse in injury time to let QPR off the hook and scrape an undeserved point last year. That was Bentley at his delirious worst when the game needed minutes of calmness.
The Reading game at home last season. Two horrendous mistakes cost us a win and was the start of our slide.
Do you think Bentley leaving was right for both parties?
Bentley needed a fresh start. He’d lost confidence in himself and Brentford had lost confidence in him. There were problems with the goalkeeping coach and from what I heard personal difficulties too. He will come again and I expect him to have a great season.
It’s a good deal for the both. He wasn’t happy with the coaching and we weren’t happy with his form. He gets to experience competition and fight for a place at a club really going for it to get promoted. We never saw him having to compete for a place so the pressure will probably increase.
Bentley made too many mistakes to list last year. Something triggered this as you could almost see the confidence leave him. Whether this was caused by personal issues or a new coach we will never know but I recall an interview where he stated the need to pull everything apart and start from basics.
In the end, him leaving for Bristol was a good deal for both clubs, I do believe City have a potential future Premier League player on their hands and a fresh start allows him to start with a clean sheet. For us, there was now too much baggage and too many things to fix, if we got the reported £4M then that’s good business. I wish him well.
Edwood the Headwood
I think after Royce left, what Bentley was being asked to do changed which lead to poppadom hands and less belief in himself. It will probably be a great move for him to have a fresh start. He’s a nice fella so deserves it. At anywhere between £2.5m and £4m it’s great business. I do worry that young Patrik Gunnnarsson is probably not ready for Championship football yet and Ellery Balcombe needs to be thrown in.
Bentley needs a fresh start and the move to Bristol is absolutely perfect for him, his family and both clubs so that he can try to begin to reignite his career.
It’s a great bit of business from the clubs perspective as Bentley looked like a keeper that had wiped all value from his book price.
A new environment is precisely what he needs. A fresh start, a more experienced team and maybe even better defenders in front of him can only help towards him trying to rediscover some of his early Brentford form.
I wish him all the best and hope to see him back showing the doubters that his decline isn’t terminal.
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