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Economics student Tom Worville (@Worville) published an fascinating blog summarizing the goings on at Brentford over the past few months both on and off the pitch. So fascinating, Beesotted asked him if we could publish it – and were kindly give the thumbs up.

The article is published in two parts. This first article (parts 1 and 2) looks at the new management structure at Brentford and technical staff with the employment of Marinus Dijkhuizen and team. The second part .

You can also check for the full series.

With the summer transfer window in full swing, it’s a good time to look at what is going on over in Brentford and find out who the new additions that have joined the Bees are.

As many readers will know, Brentford are the poster boys for the data revolution in football. With that in mind, every single move that they make can be scrutinized to look at the reasons behind the signing and how they are going to shape the team in the upcoming season.

In this mini series, I’m going to analyse the new signings at Brentford, and try to understand the moves at the club a bit more.

Part 1: Off-pitch acquisitions

Marinus Dijkhuizen joined Brentford on June 1st as head coach. The Dutchman previously managed S.B.V. Excelsior for the 14/15 season, and led the team to finish with the lowest cost per point in the whole of the Eredivisie – €0.08million.

In Dijkhuizen, the Bees have a manager who is comfortable working on a tight budget. He is also a self starter in management, who decided to work his way up from the bottom as a manager. Starting his career at fifth division Dutch side VV Montfoort, then seventh division side VV De Meern and finally moving to second division side S.B.V.Excelsior. Not as glamorous as many other managers in the game.

He’s also a realistic manager, who knows how to manage depending on the circumstances. In a recent interview with Get West London, Dijkhuizen revealed that he decided to play more defensively in the Eredivisie last season, as his side couldn’t compete in attack with the behemoths of Ajax and Feyenoord.

We played a little bit defensively because I felt that was a most realistic strategy. We had the lowest budget in the league so we had to be organized defensively to make us hard to beat. We drew a lot of games because we were defending in the zone. Even Ajax and Feyenoord struggled to score goals against us. I want to play attacking football but I’m also realistic about what is the appropriate approach for each match.

It may only have been a basic tactical choice – focusing on defence rather than attack – but it was one that resulted in the team in the Eredivisie most likely to get relegated … not getting relegated. Dijkhuizen’s ability to use the resources available to him effectively and being happy to not make all of the big decisions at the club, means he should be a big hit at Griffin Park.


Roy Hendriksen joins Brentford as assistant manager to Dijkhuizen, having previously worked with him at S.B.V. Excelsior and playing with him at SC Cambuur. The two have known each other for more than 15 years, and from a recent interview, they look like they will complement each others’ styles very well.

I know my role, I have done it for five years at other clubs. This is the first time we have worked together. I can support Marinus. I am open and take decisions, I am not afraid to have discussions and I accept if the decision is different. I say what I think and that is the reason Marinus has taken me with him. We are very different.

 Hendriksen’s open-ness to new ideas and comfort in only taking a supporting role tick the two boxes of being an assistant manager. In the interview above he also mentioned his position as a defensive coach too.


Flemming Pedersen is the new Head of Football Philosophy and Player Development at Brentford, joining from his previous role as Assistant Manager at Mainz 05.

His role is an intriguing one.

Flemming will also be responsible for setting out Brentford’s football philosophy and structuring individual development plans for players.

Football philosophy is a difficult term to define, although I think the summary below does a great job of encapsulating the main theory.

A footballing philosophy is defined as: a set of beliefs about how football should be played on the field tactically. Football tactics are assumed to be that of the strategy(-ies) employed by a team to defend, attack and everything in between (the two transitions of losing the ball and winning the ball).

So Pedersen is likely to be helping the players understand how they are going to transition in play, and what their roles are individually. He’s also going to be helping them develop into the professionals and people that they want to become.

This may all sound like a load of rubbish. But if the players’ mindset is in the right place and they’re constantly working to better themselves, the club is only going to benefit and move forward.

What hasn’t been said about Brentford is how the club is turning itself into a positive force in football. The quote below from co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen encapsulates that perfectly:

We don’t send a scout to a game to see if a player is good enough. We already know that.

We send him to determine if his character fits into our team structure.

What would be an exclusion criterion?

The fact that he’s an asshole.

Part 2: Technical staff acquisitions

Bartek Sylwestrzak

Bartek Sylwestrzak






Bartek Sylwestrzak is a free kick coach who was originally with the youth side, but has recently been promoted to the first time. Some of Bartek’s excellent work is public and can be found on his personal website here and on his Youtube here. My favourite video is shown below.

What stands out about Bartek is his focus on developing the one repeatable aspect of the game – kicking. Many of his tutorials focus on hitting a ball with top spin instead of the usual side-spin. Side-spin depends on gravity to pull the ball towards the ground, and swerves off uncontrollably towards the side.

These types of balls are traditionally easier to save, because the path of the ball continues in the same direction and the height it travels at changes at a constant speed (e.g. it returns to the ground at a constant speed). The top-spin free kick on the other hand pushes the ball towards the ground more quickly, making it unpredictable for goalkeepers due to the dip the ball has. Notable examples that Bartek points out in his videos are Juninho, Marcos Assuncao and Ryan Williams.

You may never have heard of Ryan Williams – but guess who he just signed for? Yep, you got it. Brentford. Williams features heavily in Sylwestrzak’s videos as his case study for his training working. What’s intriguing is the sort of role that Williams is due to play next season and how much of an effect the new free kick coach will have.

Williams only recently signed from Morecambe – who play in League Two – so his general play may not be as effective as that of his team mates who have played at this higher level previously. More on Williams in part three. One theory that is plausible is that Brentford are trying to train up the squad the best that they can so that they can approach any dead ball situation and have a greater chance of converting it into a goal – regardless of who is on the pitch.

Think of them as an American Football style special team when it comes to set pieces. It’s certainly going to be intriguing to see the set pieces that they come up with next season. This talk of philosophy is one which plays very well into the next technical coaching hire – Gianni Vio.

Gianni Vio

Gianni Vio has a great story, covered by the ever excellent James Horncastle. A man obsessed with attacking free kicks and corners joining a team that’s trying to game attacking free kicks and corners in their favour – a match made in heaven surely.

Vio joins from AC Milan, after previously working at Fiorentina and Catania. He’s regarded by many as the best free kick coach in Europe, which is quite a coup for Brentford. Below is a video of some of his work at Fiorentina:

Where Vio and Sylwestrzak differ though is in their work on set pieces. Whereas the latter is more focused on the mechanics of kicking the ball and its flight path after being struck, Vio is more focused on the setup with the free kick. From setting up a second wall to making dummy runs and even pulling down a players shorts to distract the keeper, these are all tactics that Brentford could be using in the near future.

One of Vio’s books is called “Dead balls: the 15 goal striker”. The name of the book comes from how Walter Zenga (current Sampdoria coach) describes Vio’s work:

A 20-goal a season player can get injured. He can get suspended. But there are set-pieces in every game. Always. And he knows how to exploit them best. He’s very skilled at it. He manages to get players scoring who otherwise wouldn’t score.

What is going to be interesting to see if Brentford try and sign players who also try and win a lot of free kicks or corners so that they get more chances to put the new dead-ball tactics into practice, or just that when it comes to these situations they are better prepared.

The latter seems more appropriate, as it is better for a team to rely on scoring from open play rather than set pieces. Having said that, if the side can replicate the form of their Danish brothers (FC Midtjylland) who scored almost a goal a game from set pieces, they’ll end up in a good place come the end of the season.

Below is a link to a compilation of all many of Midtjylland’s set pieces from this season.

They definitely make it look easy.

Interestingly, taken from the piece by Horncastle Vio claims that “Ninety percent” of his approach to free kicks is psychological. This fits nicely with the signing of Flemming Pedersen in the last post, and how the mental side of the game is viewed of as an equally important aspect to the others. Which leads nicely into the next signing.

Tom Bates










The final coaching hire of the offseason (so far) is that of Tom Bates. Bates comes from West Bromwich Albion where alongside being a coach, he had a large focus on the psychological part of the game also. This is from his bio on FourFourTwo, where he has a column as one of their ‘Experts’:

As well as helping develop the confidence and mental toughness of WBA’s rising stars, the Baggies sports psychology expert has also worked with England schoolboys.

What Bates brings to the table may not be as tangible as where you’re going to stick the ball at a corner kick – but it’s likely to be as impactful. As noted in the previous piece, Brentford are trying to create a nice atmosphere in the club with the focus firmly on the team and not individuals.

From looking at his previous writing on FourFourTwo, a lot of the topics that Bates covers will be used over the course of the next season. Here’s a sample:

• Channel aggression positively: Stay cool in the heat of the moment with advice from peak performance coach Tom Bates
• Ditch the hairdryer: If you want want all three points, don’t blast your players – just give them a warm, fuzzy hug and watch them go…
• Don’t dwell on it: Focus on what you can change, not the red card decision,
 says West Brom’s peak performance coach, Tom Bates

Working with players of all backgrounds and mindsets can be difficult for a manager – so why not outsource that to an expert? It seems that Brentford are doing just that, meaning that the coach can focus primarily on what he’s been bought into do – coach.

By having experts in nutrition, psychology, analytics, attack, defence, set pieces, physiotherapy and conditioning – the team is strong in every area and staff aren’t stretched to cover more than one role.

Evidently this is a benefit of being relatively wealthy and being able to pay for all these staff – but if you spend this money on the infrastructure of the club it’s likely to have a positive effect on the pitch.

You can catch the final part of Tom’s blog analyzing the players Brentford have bought so far on here.