Ten Reasons For Dean Smith Doubters

Ten Reasons For Dean Smith Doubters
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Beesotted contributor Jim Levack (@jimblee1) offers his personal views on the Bees’ less than ideal start to the season and reminds us that Dean Smith had a winning team playing some of the best football we’ve ever seen as fans last season… and will do again. Share your own thoughts by leaving a comment at the foot of this page.

Shortly after Dean Smith first took the reins at Walsall his side went 16 games without a win.

But he stayed calm, stuck to his footballing principles and built a side that went on to punch well above its weight and challenge for promotion.

Four games in and a small minority of Brentford fans – the same ones who were waxing lyrical at the football on display last season – are calling for the manager’s head.

We live in a society where instant gratification is king and where success isn’t necessarily linked to hard work or what we deserve, and the same, sadly, is true in football.

But here are 10 reasons why the doubters need to pipe down until at least the 10-game mark.

Brentford have had no luck

Even Smith’s harshest critics have to accept that things haven’t gone Brentford’s way this season. Yes, the old ‘you make your own luck in this game’ adage is true, but it’s a game of very fine margins the higher up you go and Brentford have been punished in situations they’d have got away with last term.

Forest defender Bouchalakis won’t score another two like he did against us and City’s keeper will almost certainly look back on that night at Griffin Park as one of his best long after he hangs up his gloves.

The sloppy errors will stop

It’s never easy when you’re attacking almost at will – with possession stats pushing 70% – to maintain concentration at the back, but that’s what Brentford have done in the last few seasons.

The first few games have seen some uncharacteristic half-hearted clearances where perhaps the big boot a la Bristol City or Ipswich would be more effective, but then Smith would be damned for that too.

There’s no accounting for ricochets that inexplicably drop at the feet of grateful strikers, but better organisation can diminish the probability of that happening.

Henrik Dalsgaard is still learning his defensive trade in this country and Smith has chopped and changed the defence in search of the best combination.

For me it’s Barbet, Dean, Colin and Henry with Dalsgaard pushed further up, but defensive errors are at least something Smith, a damn good defender in his day, can work with the right personnel. And he has them.

But there are other factors at play, such as…

The uncertainty until the window shuts

The ‘will he, won’t he’ saga surrounding Harlee Dean – and that’s even without a bid coming in for him – can’t be helpful.

Having a natural leader stripped of the captaincy is ludicrous and plays straight into the hands of his rumoured suitors, who could play this game with us every year.

Frankly, I’d have kept him as captain for stability and cohesion and told Wednesday, Leeds, Bristol City et al to do their business before the season kicked off or forget it. What’s to stop them waiting until the last hour of the window, putting a bid in, taking a key player and leaving us with no time to find a replacement.

Likewise the situation with Jota is now starting to bore me. If his agent is touting him around as rumoured, then I’d let him go tomorrow… as long as his bad back has cleared up obviously.

If the agent doesn’t think his charge owes the club something for the way they stood by him, then this unsettling scenario will continue every time the window opens with any player of value.

Sad really because our chances of achieving top six this season – which I still think we’ll do with or without Jota – would be hugely enhanced if he stayed. He’s a quality player and, by all accounts, a nice guy, but I hope he – like some others before him – isn’t being badly advised.

The standard of refereeing will even itself out. Won’t it?

Maybe wishful thinking given the paucity of decent match officials even at Championship level, but the performances so far have hardly helped Brentford find any kind of rhythm in important phases of games.

One or two of our players have gone down too easily for me, perhaps feeling a little sorry for themselves, but wins change that and the standard of officiating will surely even itself out. I hope.

Three points for a win changes everything.

Yes, we’re rock bottom and a club dismissed by all the pundits and bookies looks doomed… or so a quick scan of the GPG and twitter would have you believe.

When we play well it’s expected, and there are no plaudits for Smith. Only his players.

When we play well and lose, taking just a point from 12, the knives are out already.

Two wins on the spin and we’ll be 12th, three and it’s eighth, five out of the next eight and we’re top six and the moaners will have crawled back into their holes to wait for the next shaky spell.

Yes, we need to tighten up for that to happen but we will.

The Woods effect

Never underestimate the effect that the tragedy that befell Ryan Woods and his partner has had on the rest of the players.

Yes, they’re professional sportsmen, but Matthew Benham and the DoFs have assembled a squad of decent young men who are, above all, human.

I’d rather have people like Lasse Vibe, who works tirelessly in the community, and Yoann Barbet, who looks devastated if we lose, than the faceless automatons interested only in cash who turn out for some of our rivals.

Ryan’s return – and again the club have been exemplary in their handling of his situation – will see an upturn in our fortunes. He is our engine room and brings us a tempo and verve that we’ve been lacking slightly in the opening four games.

When Brentford play their game at tempo, there are few teams who can touch them. When we drop below that level, it gives sides like Ipswich a chance to soak up, try to survive and then go on the counter – and that’s been the pattern in all four games this season.

“We are top of the league”

Not a Leeds-style ‘Champions of Europe’ boast, but when it coms to shots on target we are top of the pile.

Obviously that doesn’t take into account goals, woodwork hit etc, but a few inches either side and they’d be flying in. It will come.

Performance is everything

Yes, there’ve been silly errors but if we’d been more clinical in both boxes the performances would have merited at least nine points.

Previous managers adored by the critics have all gone with the same ‘performances bring results’ mantra, and it’s true.

The worst thing Smith could do now is change a tried and tested system that’s seen us play some superb football last season and this, and I’m confident he won’t.

A lucky win will turn it round

A last minute goal off someone’s backside that brings us three points will be enough to turn the season around.

Football is so much a confidence game and when you have to think about things, they don’t come easy.

That could be where the perception that Brentford are currently always trying to score the perfect goal is coming from, whereas in reality all it needs is someone unaffected by the current situation – like Canos or Woods – to come in and lead the way.

The new boys are still gelling

Ollie Watkins, Kamohelo Mokotjo and Neal Maupay look class acts, while Dalsgaard, going forward at least, is a great addition to the squad.

But as Jota’s pass to no one in particular against Bristol City showed, the understanding between the new lads and last season’s players is still developing.

That understanding doesn’t come in four games.

Jim Levack



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  1. Richard Bradbury

    I totally agree with Jim, we have to give them time to bed in as a team. Once the window shuts all will settle down. I’m only a distant observer, listening in from Limerick on I follow but patience is what we need and we’ll look back on this as just a learning curve towards our aim.

  2. bob amon

    The decision to strip Harley Dean of the captaincy is ridiculous and without a doubt is effecting the players. Also playing three at the back
    is clearly not working. We are not Chelsea. I would have thought conceding all those goals last season would tell Dean it needs changing
    and the start this season is highlighting my point. Dalsgard is ok going forward but his defending is questionable. The players must be
    settled without these transfer problems. Smith should come out and say Jota is going nowhere and quickly give Harley the captaincy back

    • Leicester bee

      We’re playing three at the back?
      I honestly hadn’t noticed that. Thought we were playing a traditional four at the back.

    • PJAitch

      Three at the back? This season? Been to many games..?

  3. Liberal Nick

    The defensive issues are the key as people have already identified . I”m not sure that stripping Harlee off the captaincy role has anything to do with them, as the issues with the back four were there towards the end of last season too.

    Jim writes thats “defensive errors are at least something Smith, a damn good defender in his day, can work with the right personnel. And he has them.” I think we can all agree with the fact that that Dean Smith has the right personnel; I’m less convinced he knows how to use them and correct the errors.

    There has been too much chopping and changing thats for sure, but surely by now our Head Coach should know who are the strongest pairings in the centre of our defence and how to best full backs to support them?

    Harlee has regularly demonstrated during his contract negotiations over the years that he would be happy to listen to listen for offers from other clubs unless Brentford give him what he wants. Much as Jim has suggested the club do with Jota, I suggest now is the time too say to Dean’s agent ‘put up or shut up”. It will be interesting to see if any clubs really come in with a serious bid for Harlee as opposed to all the ‘paper’ talk currently around the player.

    Its of course too early in the season to be calling for the manager’s head, but it not too early to say that this week is crucial. Beating QPR is always a must. Wolves look a strong and attractive winning football team. How the next 5 days pan out could be crucial ones in the career of Dean Smith.

  4. Charlie the bee

    100 per cent right any body who wants dean gone should join that know all that hoolloway down at the flea pit

  5. Mark Hardy

    It still worries me – as it did last season – that Dean Smith is so-o slow to react to situations when they’re going against us (how long did it take him to find a winning combination last year?).
    The players – like Harlee – seem to be able to put their fingers on the problems …but not the bloke who’s employed to do it.
    Having said that, I can honestly say that I think this is the most exciting squad of players I’ve seen at Griffin Park in the sixty years I’ve been following the Bees…but if Dean can’t do anything with them soonish, it may be time to start thinking alternatives…?
    Just as as aside, how about a quick debate about how often dominant possession wins games? Looking at the Gunners’ stats at Stoke last weekend, they’re having similar problems to ourselves (dominating possession and still losing). Is possession the ‘be-all-and-end-all’?

  6. Gerry

    Not so sure the next 5 days are crucial as nick says as I think a couple b team players will get nod on Tuesday.
    Jim’s right though, the performances haven’t got the points they’ve deserved so a little tweak here and there and better luck than what we’ve had so far and we’ll be marching up the league in no time. Look at any team finishing top 6 in recent years, and you’ll see none of them go a whole season without blips. Maybe ours has come early.

  7. Andrew Hodson

    Still think the return of Canos will add a huge amount of momentum to the team and the crowd-revs the crowd up and is direct

  8. fred Page

    Dean Smith is way out of his depth. It’s not bad luck when you ship goals like this, and it’s not just six goals against in two home games either. The problems were plain to see last season the 5-0 defeat at Norwich was just one of many defensive disasters. I warned all who would listen last season if we had a coach who could organise defences we would have made the play offs. This is not a knee jerk reaction just watch the defenders at any of the matches, they’re like rabbits caught in headlights, no one knows what to do, who to mark or how to cover. I warn you now, if Smith is not replaced, things will not get better. When you score five goals in two home games, you expect more than one point! so don’t give me the crap about it being not scoring. It’s the defence, period and Dean is clueless when it comes to organising the defence. So replace him now, before it’s too late.

    • gary

      Fully agree , the same old comments Unlucky again, all the possession again, more shots on target again !
      All those wearing the rose tinted glasses need to look at the stats, leaking goals like we do has been going on for far too long………..it should have been sorted long long ago??????????????????

      Dean Smith has been given the strongest squad we have ever had, and likewise fred I am not convinced he is the man to take us forward.

  9. RED ROse Bee

    I agree with much of Jim’s article but the lack of coherence and confidence at the back is the main concern.When did Brentford last keep a clean sheet in a competitive match,let alone two consecutive ones?The baffling aspect is that Dean Smith was a hard,no nonsense defender himself.Once we have a reliable defence ,the results will flow from what is still a very promising group of young players.

  10. Dave Washer

    Another good article from Jim as one would expect. Measured words as usual. I don’t want to join the glass half empty mob, but there are two key things for me.

    First, Harlee. I personally think that Smith has handled the situation very poorly. To take the captaincy away from him and STILL play him gives the opposition a psychological head start before a ball has even been kicked… to say nothing of how it must make Egan and Bjelland feel – two centre backs who have both committed themselves to the club beyond the current season. The whole thing just feels like a mess and, however good Dean might be, until his situation is sorted one way or another, I wouldn’t even have him on the bench, let alone in the starting eleven.

    The other point that surely has to be made is the team’s spectacular levels of inconsistency since Smith took over. Whilst two top ten finishes should be applauded, the Jekyll and Hyde results since Smith became manager are enough to make you shudder. Win two, lose three, draw one, win another three, lose four, etc. No consistency at all. If it’s part and parcel of being in a division as tough as the Championship, then fair enough. But moving the club forward towards the stated aim of sustainable Premier League football? The two don’t sit particularly well together, for me. Bad luck aside, the start to this season is a case in point. 4 league games, no wins. And now we’ll probably beat Wolves, Villa and Wednesday before losing another three!

    Finally, as to Jim’s point about Smith’s time at Walsall and not winning for 16 games, is that stat a) relevant and b) a compelling reason as to why he should remain Brentford manager? My response would be no and no again. Okay, he didn’t win for a lot of games and then took Walsall to the edge of promotion and Wembley glory. But the fact is, they didn’t win for 16 games! Under Smith’s stewardship! Nearly two years after taking over at Griffin Park, nothing seems to have moved forward in terms of where his management is actually taking us. The start to this campaign might well simply be an awful (and very unlucky) blip, but based on the last two seasons, where exactly do we think his managerial nouse and motivational / leadership qualities will ultimately lead?

    I sincerely hope we batter Rangers, beat the old gold, embarrass Bruce at Villa Park and go on a 20 game unbeaten run. If we do, I’ll happily hold my hand up and say I was wrong. But, regardless of the way this season has begun, I simply don’t think Dean Smith is the right man for the job. Tactically, motivationally, or in any other regard.

  11. WESTbERKSbee

    Top article Jim. Love the league table! Another big + in my view is Sawyers – he is really coming of age.

  12. Boru

    The “B” Team, are doing a great job, which should be inspiring the efforts of their senior colleagues.

  13. David Carney

    Jim, of course and as usual is correct in his summary, but the typical emotion response of the boo boys calling for blood is quite silly.
    If the present management is unacceptable there is no point in the totally negative of shoot from the hip, instead come up with a better solution – and of course the boo boys have no better alternative or solution.
    Think back to the early days of Fergusson at Man U. For three years there was derision from the boo boys and most supporters and commentators had written him off. Fast forward to today and he is a close second to Busby, such were his achievements.
    Once again a cold shower is in order and if after 23 games Brentford are at the bottom, then Benham would be proven to have made the wrong choice as Head Coach (and the whole coaching group) plus his strategy of building Brentford since owning the club and investing very, very heavily would be on shaky ground.
    Last season Huddersfield lost 15 games, which equates to almost 33% of all games during the season, yet they gained promotion from the play offs. In the process there was universal praise of the Huddersfield Coach.
    If/when Brentford gain promotion this season (and on the way lose 15 games) I would suspect that the boo boys will regard 15 losses as a failure, yet those very same people most likely are impressed with the Huddersfield promotion last season.
    The odds for promotion and a top six finish must have improved by now so instead of investing in a gun to shoot the coach, take the better odds and enjoy the spoils at season end.

  14. Gordonbankole

    Dear All

    The flip side of this is very simple:

    We have had two shocking runs under Dean Smith over the last two seasons, in which we have averaged less than a point a game over months. And here we are moving towards another slump.

    While we continue to concede two goals a game, we are going to be in trouble, pure and simple. The forwards are not going to dig us out every time, especially when we are chasing games. While the defence remains a problem, the results are going to suffer.

    Of course it is very early doors and far too early to be talking of major upheaval on the coaching side, but I think it is important to point out the above.




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