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Gamble On Keeping Neal Maupay, Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma

Gamble On Keeping Neal Maupay, Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma

Whilst many Bees fans were watching Pontus Jansson line up agains Bournemouth at Griffin Park yesterday, Bees fan, Paul Gamble, was in Finland, eyeing ex-Bee Daniel O’Shaughnessy line up for HJK Helsinki, however, his mind was very much on events in TW8 and the issues surrounding holding onto our players in what remains of the transfer window. Beesotted are always on the look-out from contributions from fans on, so feel free to send in your thoughts.

As the final pre-season friendly at Griffin Park against Bournemouth kicked off yesterday, I was sitting with my son in the snappily titled, yet largely empty, Telia 5G Arena watching HJK Helsinki grind out a uninspiring draw with bottom club Vaasen Palloseura.  As you will maybe be aware, ex-Brentford defender, Daniel O’Shaughnessy, who we signed in 2014, now plays for HJK.

Granted, he never played a first team game for us, but once a Bee? Turns out he has got an incredible long throw… who knew that, eh? We were also impressed by Santeri Vaananen, a 17-year-old who has just broken into the first team, and who looks like he has a really bright future. I’d be very surprised if he’s not on a number of Championship club’s radars already, including our own. However, all our conversation on the way to the ground centered around the announcement of the line ups at Griffin Park, with excitement about our new back three giving way to concern over the absence of Ollie Watkins.

Like many Brentford fans, we’re resigned to losing Maupay, and have made our peace with that, but Ollie’s unexpected omission was a severe blow. We concluded pretty quickly that the long-rumoured Palace interest may have crystallised, with Thomas Frank’s post-game comment that Ollie had a slight injury, doing nothing to allay our anxiety that he won’t be a Brentford player come next Saturday. 

A quick read of the Griffin Park Grapevine and Beesotted’s Twitter feed unsurprisingly confirmed that we are not alone in this. And nor is this situation new. We, like almost every club in the world, sell on our best young talent when the time is right. We’re just very good at it. The list of our successes in the transfer market is astounding and has turned us into a sustainable Championship club. In the past five years the club’s model has gone from being mocked, to being lauded. Indeed, many clubs are now attempting to copy part, or all, of what we do, and more than one ex-manager seems to have retained a copy of the Director of Football’s shopping list. But this year it feels different.

The reason there is so much anxiety about this window is that many fans now believe, rightly,  that a squad containing a motivated and firing front three of Watkins, Maupay and Benharama – combined with our excellent existing summer acquisitions – would have a genuinely realistic shot at automatic promotion. It feels so close. 

However, if supporters think that is the case, then those making decisions at the club will absolutely know it too. Additionally, the club don’t appear to have to sell further players this window to balance the books. As such, it still appears possible, if unlikely, that all three forwards may still be at Griffin Park come August 10th.

If the trio really do want to go, and something near our valuation is met, Brentford has no real choice. A stable squad with unhappy players won’t get you promoted and once clubs get into those kind of battles, the valuation that can be achieved for the player always seems to decline.

On top of that comes the very real need to treat people decently, honour promises made when players originally signed, namely that we wouldn’t stand in their way (NM chose us over a PL Brighton remember), and protect the club’s powerful reputation as a good employer and a great developer of talent. Doing things properly and always remembering that whilst our club ethos makes it possible for us to sign players like Jansson, Norgaard and Jensen, on the flip side, it also means we had to do the right thing by Romaine Sawyers when West Brom came in. #Manners. 

As such, talk of the club ‘going for it’, or even ‘sticking or twisting’, seems to be a red herring. Surely it’s far more accurate to see this situation as the club doing everything in their power to build a squad able to challenge at the very top of this league, but also recognising that the players involved rightly have a say in where they will be playing. 

I’ve got no idea what will happen between now and when the window slams shut, but Phil Giles, Rasmus Ankersen and Matthew Benham must surely feel they are so close, yet still so far, and will be working like mad to persuade our best players to stay – perhaps fending off bids in the tens of millions. At the same time, they’ll be negotiating with clubs for players we would never have previously believed would contemplate coming to our club, then trying to persuade those players that they should do exactly that. And they seem to be continuing to make that happen, which is incredible. Whilst Daniel O’Shaughnessy now plays in Helsinki – Pontus Jansson plays at Griffin Park.

 I will 100% miss watching Romaine play in a Brentford shirt, and  I’ll also be gutted if we lose two of our front three, even if we replace with potentially better players, because I know it will harm our chances of promotion this season, however, I also have to remember the reason those players are here in the first place. It is because those that run our club do so in the right way. The Brentford ‘model’ seems to have developed into a Brentford culture, and even though that causes anxiety every transfer window,  I genuinely find supporting our club right now so exciting. 

Paul Gamble



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About The Author

Dave Lane

Beesotted Editor Since 1990

1 Comment

  1. Robert Rutter

    Hi Dave,

    Really good article, the culture gets us the players and we love them whilst they are with us but they like Brentford have their aspirations. As you say it is exciting to be a Brentford supporter at this time on so many levels. Romaine has brilliant touches and defence splitting balls and will be missed, lucky old West Brom!

    Keep up the great work.


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