Confident Brentford Face Tricky First Tie at Sheffield United – Fans’ View

Confident Brentford Face Tricky First Tie at Sheffield United – Fans’ View
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This Saturday sees Brentford open their Championship account with a tough match away to Division One Champions Sheffield United. 

Make no bones about it. This will be a tough game for The Bees. The team haven’t lost at home since Uwe Rosler’s Fleetwood beat them 2-0 in late January. Maybe that’s a good omen for the Bees – clutching at straws – that their last home defeat was orchestrated by an ex-Brentford manager. 

But what can we expect on Saturday from both sides?

Ian Rands from Sheffield United blog Unitedite (@Unitedite) gave his thoughts on the Blades’ season in the Beesotted Bloggers Predictions (you can find Part 1 by clicking here and Part 2 by clicking here) where he predicted United to cope admirably with the rigours of the Championship and finish a respectable 13th. Billy Grant (that’s me) gave a view from the Brentford perspective. 

This is how these thoughts relate to this weekend’s match:

Sheffield United

Hopes for 2017-18 season

More of the same please! 

Realistically I think this is a season where the focus is safely staying in the Championship and building a platform to push for the play offs in future seasons. For some fans this is not ambitious enough, but I think it is a sensible and pragmatic way of looking at our current squad and capabilities. Whilst success on a relative shoestring like Huddersfield is rare, it shows that you don’t have to spend big on named players for success.

As Wilder himself has said “you don’t get medals for spunking money”. Our spirit and momentum from last season will carry us so far, it is then a case of how many of the players step up to the challenge when losing more than the odd game is a reality.

The transfer market

Incoming the targets are talented players from the lower league, sometimes former Premier League academy products, but those with a point to prove. Whilst this approach disappoints some fans who want to see money splashed out on proven Championship players, Wilder’s approach has proved fruitful so far and not upsetting the collective spirit and close bond of the existing squad is key to his decision making on any signing.

George Baldock from MK Dons, John Lundstram from Oxford (who was earmarked for Brentford 12 months ago – Ed) and Enda Stevens from Portsmouth are players I can see making a positive impact.

Probably the exceptions to the rule are Richard Stearman from Wolves, who will bring some much needed Championship and Premier League experience and strength to the back line, and Ched Evans, whose return created plenty of conjecture regarding whether the manger had much input into his return.

The sense is Wilder is very much his own man and won’t be dictated to on signings so he clearly feels he can add something when fully fit. Until then we may be a little light up front, pending any further signings before the window closes.

Biggest hero 

You would have to say Wilder.  From fan to ball boy. Apprentice to first team player and now manager. He has brought something to his club that many fans (me included) doubted him capable of when he was appointed manager last Summer.

The turning point of last season came four games in, after a last minute away defeat at Millwall thanks to a last minute penalty given away by ex-Bees player Jack O’Connell. Sensing the players were down, after what he considered a positive performance, Wilder got the coach driver to pull over at an off licence, bought £100 of beer for the players and left it at the front for the players to come and take. Cue a few uplifting words from his skipper Billy Sharp and the players responded. An old school approach, but it showed it can still paid dividends in the modern game.

What you see is what you get with the manager. Chest pumping, badge kissing, straight talking, all from the heart.

Key players

He may well be used off the bench, but David Brooks is the latest hot prospect off the Blades Academy conveyor belt following Phil Jagielka, Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton, Harry Maguire and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. A tricky and direct midfielder who could equally play the number ten role, he was Player of the Tournament in the Toulon Youth Tournament this Summer.

Realistically, we may not see much of him this season as he will be Premier League bound for sure, with Everton already reportedly sniffing around. I only hope we get something resembling his true worth in return.

Of those likely to start, the Fleck and Coutts combination in midfield conducted things last season and hopes are high that they will continue this season, whilst ex-Bee Jack O’Connell was outstanding at the back. 

Atmosphere

There is a feeling around the club and fanbase similar to when Dave Bassett was in charge (and when Wilder was a player). Whilst the football is a different style, there is a closeness of players and fans and a unity long missing from Bramall Lane.

Team Selection

New signing George Baldock, re-signing Ched Evans and James Hanson are now back in training after injuries. Whether or not Saturday will be too early for their return will be seen. New signings Nathan Thomas, Enda Stevens, Richard Stearman and John Lundstram. Nick Blackman, on loan from Chelsea, is set to make his competitive debut for the Blades with ex Brentford stopper Simon Moore injured. 

In the Brentford camp, things are looking very buoyant. The club has been active in the transfer market – picking up a number of players that probably no one has ever heard of to strengthen the team that finished 9th last season in The Championship. 

Brentford

Hopes for 2017-18 season

We’ve signed some quality players (on paper) in the transfer window. How we do depends on how quickly these players acclimatise to Championship football. How lucky we are with injuries. And how many players we lose this window. And how successfully we patch up our goal leaking. Last season we scored loads of goals and let in loads. That may be a product of how we play but that’s got to stop (the leaking that is). 

If we don’t lose Jota, we’re in good shape to make a playoff push. If we do lose him, we’re still a better team overall that we were when we got to the playoffs two seasons ago. But it’s a tough league. And consistency is key.

Transfers

People were worried when we didn’t spend our Scott Hogan cash straight away last January but the club did say the money would be spent better in the summer. So few we’ve got in:  Striker – Neil Maupay (St Etienne – £1.6m). Midfielder Kamo Mokotjo (FC Twente – £800k). Striker – Ollie Waktins (Exeter – £1.6m). Goalkeeper – Luke Daniels (Scunthorpe – free). Right back – Henrick Dalsgaard (Zulte Waregern – £930k). Winger – Emiliano Marcondes (pre-signed for January – free). left back – Mads Bech Sörenson (AC Horsens – £200k).

There are daily rumours about Jota leaving. He’s been linked with West Ham. Everton. Watford and Swansea. The positive thing is he only wants to leave for the Premier League so if he does go, he won’t be playing against us this season. Captain Harlee Dean (CB) hasn’t signed a new contract so there are rumours about him too. Plus Maxime Colin (RB) may leave as his conract is coming to an end.  Sunderland and a few other teams were reputedly interested in Ryan Woods who quite randomly bought a house in the Midlands recently making it a bit of a commute to training every day. 

Who was your biggest hero 

I would say Harlee Dean who is banned from playing today’s match for his final day of the season red card. He improved somewhat after taking the captain’s armband – leading the team from the back. Jota – who is quite simply sensational – would have got a hero’s medal .. but I guess it’s not fair to give one for only 3 months work.

Key Players

It could be a number of players this season. When Jota is on fire he’s on fire. Vibe knows where the back of the net is and works hard. Maupay looks a good hungry buy. Dalsgaard loves a pass as does McEachran and new signing Mokotjo. Woods when he is on it, can have a great game commanding centre midfield. Canos is young, enthusiastic and getting better but is injured for this match. Jozefzoon confuses people when he comes on. Should I go on? …

Atmosphere

With Brentford expected to bring around 1,200 fans the away end will be in buoyant mood. Many fans have fond memories of their last visit to Bramall Lane. An exciting 2-2 draw which saw Brentford go down to 9 players on a Tuesday night – buoyed on by a lively away following. The name Bradley Wright-Philips – who scored the Brentford equaliser – is like a blur in the distance now for most Bees fans. 

Team Selection

Brentford fans have been fiddling with their team selector apps trying to guess the starting formation for Saturday. With The Bees having the unbelievable luxury of having two first class players for each position now (OK not all of them are fit admittedly) for the first time since …. well ever .. Dean Smith will be really earning his crust this season choosing the right combination of players and keeping everyone happy. 

Winger Sergi Canos is out after injuring his ankle in Brentford’s 2-1 win over Celta Vigo. Other than that, Brentford’s only other injuries are long term – Alan Judge and Lewis McLeod. Both players are expected back around New Year. Centre back Harlee Dean serves a one match ban. Ryan Woods may miss the match due to his partner giving birth to his first child. 

Brentford’s centre back options will see either Yoann Barbet or Andreas Bjelland partner John Egan. Dalsgaard seemed to be the favoured right back in pre-season with Rico Henri at left back. Lasse Vibe looks set to start up front with Mokotjo playing the quarter back role marshalling the midfield with McEachran and Jota starting (bar any Scott Hogan-eesque bum twinges).

Matchday

All in all, potentially a tough match which should see an entertaining afternoon of football. The bookies have made Sheffield United favourites to take all three points whereas over 60% of Brentford fans polled by Beesotted feel a Bees win was on the cards. 

Matchday drinking – too many pubs to list. The most obvious choices are The Sheffield Tap inside Sheffield Station for ale heads and The Howard and The Globe directly opposite Sheffield Station. Many Brentford fans head to The Rutland Arms for real ales – a 5 minute walk from the station. Other ale heads head over to Kelham Island where The Fat Cat brewery, Kelham Island tavern and other esteemed establishments. In town, there are plenty of drinking options if you head for Devonshire Street, Division Street and West Street. Nearer the ground, there are a few options including The Railway Hotel but we’re not sure if they have bouncers on the door with a home fan-only policy. 

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of our Championship Bloggers’ predictions – Aston Villa, Barnsley, Birmingham, Bolton, Brentford, Bristol City, Burton, Cardiff, Derby, Fulham, Hull and Ipswich fans give us their views (click here)

You can check out Part 2 – Leeds, Middlesborough, Millwall, Norwich, Nottingham Forest, Preston, QPR , Reading, Sheffield Utd, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland and Wolves –  by clicking here

 

Billy Grant
@BillyTheBee99

 

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About The Author

BillytheBee Grant

Following Brentford for 30 years plus now.. write .. blog .. videoblog .. podcast ... photograph ...eat .. sleep .. Brentford.. am known to attend the occasional England match too (12 tournaments now) so am hardened to failure ...On the board and national council of the Football Supporters Federation.... organised husky dog racing for a living back in the day ... as you do ..You don't wanna go up!!

2 Comments

  1. Boru

    The Blades, to win.

    Reply
  2. Hobo

    So is Mr negative Predicting relegation for the bees already ?.well done Brian.

    Reply

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