Levack’s Law: Beesotted contributor Jim Levack (@JImblee1) reflects on the Christian Eriksen ‘will he stay or will he go’ furore, whilst asking whether the media actually realise that Brentford are certainly not a one-man team
As the ‘will he, won’t he’ circus surrounding Christian Eriksen hopefully enters its final phase, it’s been fascinating to watch the media scramble for information unfold.
Since he arrived in West London, the national press, clickbait sites et al, have been transfixed by his presence, their every question helping to elevate him to a level bordering on deification.
It almost reached the stage where even the usually measured, calm and polite Thomas Frank was biting his tongue, before trotting out the same response he must have uttered around 200 times.
Perhaps the best comment on Christian-gate came from my personal player of the season, Christian Norgaard, when I spoke to him after the win over Southampton.
Eriksen’s Danish compatriot, clearly irritated by the constant wave of questions about the former Spurs man, was vehement and unhesitating in his response.
Norgaard is a clever, articulate guy who takes that intelligence into his game, but his reply to one question too many on the subject of how his presence had elevated his team-mates’ performances, made interesting listening.
This is his verbatim comment which as a standalone single quote doesn’t really get across the impatience and agitation in his voice…
“I think he has for everyone (helped them add five per cent to their game) and that’s something we have to take into account… that everyone has more in them than they think they have.
“For me it’s also very important to say that we also have to prepare for a situation where he is not staying. We can’t just be sat there empty handed if he’s not. That is only his decision so we need to prepare for everything.
“We’re trying to of course (convince him to stay) but I also don’t want to spend every hour of my life trying to convince him to stay and he decides not to and then we stand there and what do we do? We need to prepare for both things.
“Of course he’s been fantastic for us and we hope he will stay but if he doesn’t, we will still be a fantastic team next year. I think that’s very important to say.”
Eriksen’s decision will undoubtedly mark a crossroads for many Brentford fans who cling to the hope that his recent situation might align him more closely to the solid values Matthew Benham and Thomas Frank have imbued in the club.
If he goes elsewhere to pursue a chase for silverware and potentially plays only a bit part role, it will leave a ‘what might have been’ taste in the mouths of supporters. Few would deny him that right though.
Money isn’t everything as I’m sure Eriksen can see with even greater clarity these days, so I hope for his sake and that of his family that he makes the right choice. Whatever that choice is for him.
Irrespective of what path he takes, for my part it’s important for us all to have a little bit of Norgaard in our mindset.
Forget the sycophantic media-drafted narrative that we were lucky to have had him – he was lucky to have joined us too – and would have dropped to the Championship like a stone without him.
Sure it would have been tougher, but with players returning from injury and form picking up at the same time, I’m very confident we’d have been fine. So forget all the ‘saviour’ stuff. He’s not the Messiah… he’s just a bloody good playmaker.
More important now is the timing of any announcement and the effect it could have on recruitment, an area I’m uneasy about commenting on and one best left to the canny Phil Giles.
Any player being approached right now will be asking ‘are you keeping Eriksen?’. It’s clearly a slightly harder sell without him, but that’s where the bigger picture has to play its part in the sales pitch.
Put simply we are and always will be bigger than just one player and if we allow ourselves to think otherwise, we’ll always be ‘little old Brentford’.
We’ve shown this season, even before Eriksen’s arrival, that we’re a match for even the best in the Premier League… and that was while a group of players with little or no top flight experience were still acclimatising.
Despite what a top six obsessed media might suggest next season we will be better still with the sublime talent of Christian Eriksen. But equally we’ll be better than we were before his arrival without him.
As Norgaard says we have to start planning for every eventuality. If we do that well, we’ll improve on 13th. If we wait and wait and wait and end up empty handed, we won’t.
It really is that simple or if you’re in the shoes of the recruitment team, that difficult. It’s a balancing act that I’d truly hate to face.