Carl Massey has joined the Beesotted editorial team and will be producing a series of weekly news round-ups as we look to improve our Brentford news and comment pieces ahead of the 2016/17 season.
First of the new signings:
The new pre-season has certainly started with a bang as far as transfers go – July kicking off with the news that we’ve all been expecting as the club secured the services of the long time transfer targets Romaine Sawyers and John Egan. Sawyers, in particular, looks a mouth watering prospect.
After an impressive season with Brentford’s feeder club Walsall, Sawyers took second place in the League One player of the year vote, finishing just behind the equally impressive Bradley Dack. Sawyers finished last season with a return of six goals in 57 games and was the catalyst for The Saddlers’ fourth place finish. As much as it’s fun to take a dig at Walsall after their hissy fit when we signed Will Grigg, they have developed some fine young talent, which can only bode well for us!
Quick to follow the signings of Egan and Sawyers was ‘keeper Daniel Bentley. As I have already said elsewhere, Daniel Bentley is an exciting prospect, and for Brentford to capture one of the country’s most promising young talents speaks volumes for the reputation the club has gained in recent years for progressing talented lower league players. As much as selling our best players after a season or two irks many fans, it is a sound business plan, one that has arguably given us the success we have since in recent years. Bentley’s arrival leaves the door open for a David Button exit however. As another player to so far refuse to sign a new deal, the club has ensured that they won’t get caught short this time, by swiftly bringing in a replacement, and should Button decide his future does in fact lie in TW8, then the competition for places can only be a good thing.
Farewell to Bidwell
July 1st wasn’t without disappointment though as Jake Bidwell, who had refused a new deal, made the move to bitter rivals QPR. His move was not met with the kind of uproar that a certain Mr Rowlands faced when he defected to the other side, but his contribution to Brentford shouldn’t be forgotten. Bidwell never set the pulses racing but his steady-eddie style and consistency meant we could rely on him, and the search for a successor must surely now be stepped up. Tom Field, whilst impressive against Fulham, isn’t ready for a full season as first choice in the Championship in my opinion.
We have been talking about Sawyers, Egan and Bidwell for months in the podcast .. and they came up again in our mid-season podcast (below).
The old new boys
As the players returned to training, and the new boys settled in, Dean Smith was also quick to praise the attitude and fitness levels of Lewis Macleod, Andreas Bjelland and Scott Hogan, who all returned a week earlier then the rest of the first team to improve their chances of being prepared for the season opener at Huddersfield. Whilst the trio may not seem it to us, for Smith at least, they will be like new signings. Hogan aside, who gave us a tantalising taste of his talents in the last few games, we as yet have no idea how they will fit in, but you can expect them to add substantial quality to a side that is shaping up nicely.
Dean Smith, who thankfully turned round the team’s fortunes after a horrendous run of games last season, a run that led to his position being questioned, has stated in the last couple of days that Jake Bidwell’s replacement will not be signed before the trip to Germany, which will give Tom Field the chance to impress. It’s been enjoyable to see Field and Josh Clarke break into the first team and there are still one or two promising young players to come as well.
We could realistically be starting the season with two youth team prospects in the starting XI, which is impressive considering the standard of the Championship. Smith has also said that between now and a new left back arriving at GP, Ankersen and Giles will be turning their attention to a couple of new wingers. If Brentford can add quality in those areas then we are in a considerably stronger place then this time last year. With a number of foreign players joining the squad 12 months ago it was always going to take time to settle, and after a relentless run of bad luck and manager changes, a ninth place finish was pretty impressive. So with a solid squad to choose from this year we are surely right to be optimistic.
O’Connell to Sheffield United?
And just before Brentford kick off the pre-season with a trip to Boreham Wood, it has been announced in various news outlets that Jack O’Connell is on the verge of completing a move to Sheffield Utd. Jack has struggled to nail down a starting spot in the side and has been limited to just 16 appearances since his move from Blackburn in January 2015. With John Egan joining the ranks of the central defenders, and O’Connell already behind Dean, Barbet and presumably Bjelland in the pecking order, it would seem an obvious time for him to move on. O’Connell came to us with a decent reputation and it’s been something of a disappointing time. He must have thought he would get his opportunity when Tarkowski downed tools and forced a move to Burnley, but with the emergence of Barbet, and now Egan, it would seem his time with us is over.
Elsewhere around the Championship, Bristol City and Norwich have had bids accepted for Sergi Canos. I know it’s difficult to make comparisons with the Premier League due to the money generated, but when you consider Canos will be leaving for £2.5 million and Jordan Ibe is rumoured to be on the way out of Anfield for £15 million it begs the question, is Ibe really £12.5 million better then young Sergi?
Personally I think £2.5 million is a sound investment. We need a winger and at such a young age he has a ridiculous amount of talent and potential. Canos has enormous sell on scope, and with another successful season under his belt, he would surely be on the radar of Premier League clubs. I’ve no doubt a stumbling block for us would be his wages now that he has been tempted by the riches of Norwich and Bristol, but he has also tasted the kind of development we can offer and seen for himself what happens to those who do well at Brentford.
Newcastle Utd in the mean time have set about recruiting some real top talent. In fact they have set their sights so firmly on promotion back to the Premier League that they have signed none other than Jesus himself. I am aware that walking on water and turning water into wine are some of his more common traits, but whether or not he can score 30 goals a season remains to be seen. It’s actually Jesus Gamez formally of Athletico Madrid. They haven’t held back at all and Grant Hanley is apparently also on their shopping list. The Magpies are assembling a very very good squad and you can’t see how they can fail to get promoted with Rafa Benitez in charge. I’ll certainly be looking forward to making the trip up to St James’ Park though, even if you do have to sit closer to heaven then Jesus himself.
So Boreham Wood is the first of the friendlies and we are only a few hours away from getting a first look at this seasons squad – I’m sure we can expect to see the majority of the first team get a run out at some point before they fly off to Germany to continue the build up. Things are looking healthy, and most importantly stable, which perhaps couldn’t be said this time last year.