New Beesotted contributor, Steve Hollidge, gives his perspective on the vast sums of money exchanging hands for the world’s elite players and whether Brentford can, or more importantly should, maintain the recruitment policy and culture that’s got them to where they are today.
It’s the year 2026. Reports are rife amongst the worldwide football media and those ‘in-the-know’. Dortmund’s 23-year-old midfield sensation Jude Bellingham, once a product of Birmingham City’s youth academy and now topping the Bundesliga’s goals and assists charts for a midfielder for the last three campaigns, has ‘ants in his pants’.
The seasoned international for good-ole Blighty could be on a potential move back to his home shores to none other than… Brentford. Yes Brentford. A move which could help bolster their remarkable rise in English football and help them secure a realistic Champion’s League place next season. The price? It will set the West London outfit back a mere £250m for arguably the most successful English player of his… coughing and spluttering ensues as I sit up in bed at 3am wondering where the hell I am and what I just heard, on what I’ve immediately established at 3.01am, was a ‘dreamy’ edition of Transfer Deadline Day breaking news on Sky Sports with Jim and Natalie. (Our ‘Nat’ was reinstated after the well-publicised ‘Natalie back in the Sky with Diamonds’ campaign by Brentford’s own supporters.
My futuristic, tongue-in-cheek, bit of fun (not the Natalie part I hasten to add), pokes a large stick at the grizzly bear that’s the Global Football Transfer Market. It’s continued trajectory to new heights has recently seen hundreds of millions of pounds exchange hands between agents and owners in order to become the best football club in the world. A staggering level. Some say obscene.
Lukaku to Chelsea for £97m. Grealish to Man City for £100m. Even free agent Messi pocketed £25m signing on fee and an eye-popping £53.8m a season contract at PSG. Just £1m-a-week basic. Who can begrudge the best players receiving nice little pay cheques every month? Unfortunately for Messi though that’s a million before tax, so he’s going to have to settle for half that to do his ‘Intermarche’ weekly shop on a Friday night. For PSG though, most of their savvy outlay has already been recouped from shirt sales. And he hadn’t even kicked a ball for them competitively. A demonstration of ‘big business’ first and foremost, the spectacle of watching a football match second? Perhaps.
Does this level of spending on players buy you success? It depends. Success on the pitch? Success in the boardroom? Success in the bank balance? Success for the fans? Now we’re mixing it up in the Premier League, I believe you could factor all those questions of success to every club, it’s just some are driven by one more than others.
Our recruitment policy and, now well-established, togetherness culture is going to be rightly tested against the best in England. Granted the top elite have goals on another level to ours, and their owners aren’t the sort to sit around and wait patiently for success if their respective managers don’t do the business and win the Champions League within 12-24 months. But we will compete and surprise more big clubs like Arsenal over 90 minutes, I’m sure of that.
Our aim for many will be on survival this year. But for me I’m aiming higher. If we continue to focus on a combination of going quietly about our business and building a group of committed, team orientated people, we can cement ourselves into the Premier League in a confident, yet humble way (to quote Thomas directly) and bring a bright future for our ‘little bus top business’. A little business no less beautifully demonstrated by the purchase and rise of Ethan Pinnock and Vitaly Janalt in the last few years and most recently, as Sky Sports reported in ‘real-life’, the arrival of Under 21 Spanish International Goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez on loan, another new recruit that looks primed to fit nicely into the Brentford mould and could well be a Watkins or Benrahma of the future.
Should we continue to ‘uncover’ some of our very best talent behind the dusty wardrobe in next door’s garage? Absolutely. Should we continue to benefit from that grizzly bear the big boys, the media and the footballing powers that be have created? Absolutely. The investments we do make and those we benefit from will cost us and our competition a little bit more than £10 or £15m for an established professional who can hit the ground running. But when buying, they’ll have to demonstrate the ability to fit into our ‘no dickheads’ culture.
And don’t underestimate the rising stars coming from our Brentford B team. They will be chomping at the bit to flourish and get into the first team. Without a shadow of a doubt. So, for now let’s continue to stay firmly on the ground, level headed and confident. ‘Jude’ may not be joining us for £250m in the future, but he could well be right under our noses, we just don’t know it yet.