It’s still early days. We’re still on a high and we’re competing on the field. However, there are a few areas of concern and it’s something we cannot ignore. Is Alan Mac able to cope with fast tricky wingers? Is our midfield strong enough to cope throughout the season playing against some pretty physical teams? Do we have enough goals in our team?
I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that our brand of football means we’ll score more than the opposition, but we’ve looked particularly lacking in this area so far. Ok, Hogan will take time coming back from his injury, Gray is an unpolished diamond, and maybe Big Nick will get to full fitness and show us what he can do, but quite how Charlton missed an open goal and Birmingham failed to press home their extra man (and ref in several matches) advantage in the first half, is beyond me. Had they been slightly more clinical, we’d have lost both of those games, and therefore, we are in a fragile position in a lot of games.
However, I’m a positive soul, despite the numerous disappointments I’ve endured over the years, and here are ten reasons why we’ll stay up this season, possibly even push into mid-table, and who knows? Could the play-offs beckon?
DOUGIE He is the glue for our team. He mops up, he keeps things ticking over, he never shirks a challenge, and when he drives forward, you know we are on top in a game.
OUR BENEFACTOR Much has been said about Matthew Benham, but what strikes me about our owner is that he is a true visionary. Never one for the limelight, he still comes across as a very strong personality. It is his desire to see football played the right and same way throughout all the age groups. It was Matthew Benham who was ‘also happy’ with the monies that have been agreed with Wigan for the services of Adam Forshaw, demonstrating to me that it was himself who was not going to budge from our valuation of Adam Forshaw, that HE was to be kept happy or we weren’t going to sell. He has set a precedent, that Brentford are not going to be bullied or dictated to. That takes some doing in the footballing world.
SEXY FOOTBALL Remember that quote? Anyway, in recent years, Doncaster played some beautiful football under Sean O’Driscoll. During that period, I worked in Donny, and spoke to Rovers’ fans regularly about how a small club with poor resources could survive. At one point, they were described as the Arsenal of the Championship in their style, and whilst they didn’t really challenge for promotion, they were a safe team who played football the right way. And so Bournemouth have also proved. They started life in the Championship quite slowly last season, but found their feet and became a team to be feared by playing in the right way. I don’t think we are too different to either Doncaster under O’Driscoll or Bournemouth under Howe.
SMELLS LIKE TEAM SPIRIT We have got this in abundance. Proof? We have scored a lot of late goals and we have already shown against Charlton, Blackpool, and Birmingham, that we can go a goal down, but fight hard to get a result. With the players we have, such as Alan Mac, Tarky, Craig, Harlee, Bidwell, Dougie, Judgey, Pritchard, and others, we are not a team of players who go hiding. Can you seriously imagine these players letting their heads drop and fade out of a game? These are highly motivated individuals who play hard and are mentally strong.
CONTINUITY the fact is that when Matthew Benham appointed Mark Warburton, he wanted continuity. Let’s be honest, Warburton carried on much of the good work that Uwe did, but has improved upon it, having seen Uwe at work and learnt from his mistakes, by having worked closely alongside him. Continuity is something that a lot of football clubs lack and any fan will tell you that continuity brings stability. The biggest argument relating to continuity is Adam Forshaw. He goes to Wigan yet, in almost any other season, Brentford fans would be on the floor in tears. He is undoubtedly one of, if not the, finest footballers I have seen pull on the Brentford shirt. Yet, like most Brentford fans are thinking, will his departure really damage us? We clearly already had a Plan B. We have a strong sense of continuity on and off the pitch. We’re in a far better place than a lot of clubs.
GRIFFIN PARK THE STADIUM We have a tight ground with possibly the nastiest away changing rooms in the league, and I personally love this fact. It’s a bit John Beck of old, but I like the fact that it’s uncomfortable changing room with space for only 12 people.
FORTRESS GRIFFIN PARK and on a similar note, our fans can make the difference. Being a tight ground, with us being so close to the opposition, and with the fact that we know that we are up against it, our support will make the difference. A huge difference. It wasn’t all that long ago that our fans made Griffin Park an absolute fortress, but over the last couple of seasons, the higher level of expectation meant that the atmosphere was a bit flat, with fans seemingly waiting to be entertained. However, this season, we don’t expect to win every game, and with some of the old rivalries back in our manor, the atmosphere should be electrifying throughout the season to lift the players.
LOS TRES AMIGOS AND THE REST Just how many times have we signed players to replace others, only for them to be complete duds? Anyone old enough to remember Murray Jones will know that replacing arguably the greatest striker Brentford has ever had, with arguably the worst ever, in our last season in the second tier, left us struggling. Sure, losing Big Terry Evans to injury didn’t help either, and we didn’t replace him either. So this season, what have we done in the transfer market? We said goodbye to Marcello Trotta and Clayton, and brought in Andre Gray (my lord), Scott Hogan, Tommy Smith, Moses Odubajo, and Big Nick Proschwitz. With Hogan injured, we then brought in a Portugese starlet from Sporting Lisbon! In midfield, we said good bye to Adam Forshaw, but we now possess a whole host of talent, including the three Spanish lads, Jota, Tebar, and Toral, plus the mercurial Alex Pritchard, AND signed up Alan “the” Judge and moved him into midfield. What a squad we have right now!!!
WAAAAAARBUUURTON This man learns, and learns quickly. Remember getting beat up at Rovrum last season 3-0? Yet we beat them 2-0 this time round after Warbs put Harlee in with Tarky to be more physical (Revell got substittuted after only 55 minutes after spending most of the game in Harlee’s or Tarky’s pocket). It shows me that Warburton doesn’t like making the same mistake twice and I can honestly see this Brentford team getting better and better.
RELEGATION? DON’T BE DAFT!
I’m not getting carried away, but we are already competing against other Championship clubs and holding our own. We’re learning all the time, we’re improving, and all the above nine reasons merge into my final reason, which is that not only are we going to avoid relegation, we’re going to push for a play-off place. We’re going to lose a few this season, granted, but we’re going to win a few too. I just cannot even contemplate that we will get relegated, because we are way too good for that. Seeing how poor Rovrum were compared to us, I reckon they’re already pretty much doomed.