It’s Been a While

Silly Season

It has been quite some time since my last blog and to be honest I wasn’t sure I would write on this site again due to work commitments but with one thing or another I have found the

It has been quite some time since my last blog and to be honest I wasn’t sure I would write on this site again due to work commitments but with one thing or another I have found the pressing need to put the proverbial pen to paper again.

 

So as we approach the silly season that is the transfer window there has been several goings on that have really annoyed me. The gutter press seem to be content with printing any wild rumour as truth, former players feeling like it is their duty to tout our players out for sale, the Club itself remaining maddeningly quiet on the Jota stories (more on that in a bit) and overall the level of performance we witnessed against Cardiff have left a few fans feeling a bit frustrated.

 

If it’s in “The Sun” it must be true.

 

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If you got angry every time one of our players got linked to another team then I’m not sure many of us would have made it past Christmas without suffering an aneurism but there is something infuriating at the way certain newspapers go about reporting interest in our players.

 

It may have been the “Scottish Sun” that printed the Jota to Rangers story and as far as I am concerned any newspaper that carries “The Sun” in it’s title is nothing more than a comic book but you can’t fail to be stunned by the arrogance in which they went about reporting the Glasgow clubs advances.

 

Interestingly I saw another piece on their supposed interest in Sergi Canos, which now throws into doubt their move for Jota. It appears they are now certain that Canos would be desperate for a move north of the border to rescue him from his Norwich nightmare.

 

This is despite their definitive narrative that “The King” would cut short his time in Spain and be allowed to join the Scottish giants.

 

I mean it is entirely possible that Matthew Benham, a highly successful businessman, feels the need to terminate the players loan deal with Eibar, release him from his contract early, ignore the ability to extend his contract as written in as part of his previous deal and thus guaranteeing a transfer fee in order for him to join Rangers because, in case you hadn’t noticed that despite playing in a league akin to League 1 or 2 standard, they get a big home crowd.

 

Some of our formers players haven’t helped the situation either with Richard Lee and Stuart Dallas lending their support to Mark Warburton in his pursuit of Jota. Both former Bees favourites have been quick to provide their opinion to the aforementioned Scottish rag.

 

Arrogantly written articles aside, there simply has to be something in the story of Warburton flying to Spain to meet Jota. Surely printing something like that, which amounts to brazenly “tapping up” the player would be libellous if not true.

 

I’m not a lawyer but if Brentford knew nothing of this and it is found to be true, then surely Mr Benham will be on the phone to Claims Direct pretty damn quick.

 

So should the club be commenting? Would it be appropriate for the management to make a statement on the subject. Ordinarily I would say no despite how frustrating this is for fans. However in this instance I feel a statement is needed. Eibar officials have been opened about him being recalled, former managers flying out to Spain to speak to the player about a move and newspapers printing rumour after rumour, I think the club could do themselves a favour here and comment.

 

 

You be the Judge.

 

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I realise that the next few paragraphs may be unpopular but this is something that has been bothering me for some time.

 

Alan Judge was simply sensational prior to his injury and add that to what he had done for the club on the pitch beforehand, I want to make it clear that if he leaves then he would remain something of a hero in my eyes.

 

From scoring the penalty that took us up to his all action performances that all but kept us in the league last season, Alan Judge has been one of Matthew Benham and Brentford’s best ever purchases.

 

But (and it’s a reluctant but) let’s face facts, he wants out of the club. There may be nothing overt and I am sure he would never say as much openly but from the beginning of last season when his stock rose considerably he is been looking for an exit.

 

The rumoured deal to Sheffield Wednesday fell through with Judge allegedly keen on the move and with the player failing a drug test around the same time (although news only came out later) I may be putting two and two together and getting five but I suspect this may have been part of the reason.

 

That drugs test was an absolute joke by the way. How an Asthma sufferer can be criticised for taking his inhaler is beyond me.

 

After his injury cruelly ruined Judge’s season and his hopes of a Euro place with Ireland, Newcastle were rumoured to be interested and reportedly remain so.

 

With Judge refusing to sign a new contract, he is now coming into the later stages of his recovery just in time for a January move. The rumours have started up again and he has been speaking openly about Newcastle’s interest.

 

Of course, nothing in it says he wants out but he does comment on Newcastle’s contact.

 

Firstly, if a club like Newcastle came in for him then you could argue that he would be crazy not to move and I don’t blame him for wanting to get a move to a bigger club when he was on the cusp of the Ireland team.

 

Secondly, he is well within his right, coming to the end of his contract to start talking to other clubs.

 

I just wish that if he was going to leave then it happened sooner rather than later. I’ve not got any time for having players here who don’t want to be. The other huge frustration is that Judge was being put in the £5 million category a year ago. Now, so close to contract end, we are looking at a measly £600K.

 

 

January Sales

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Inevitably, coming this close to the window, rumours are rife about another of our stars, Scott Hogan. As if loosing Judge and Jota isn’t enough, Scott Hogan would appear to be at the top of a number of clubs wish list.

 

It is inevitable that Hogan would be much south, having scored 13 goals this season after finishing last season on fire. There is something refreshing yet worrying about Scott’s honest approach.

 

He has effectively said he is not interested in a move to another Championship club unless Brentford accept a bid but that he would like a move to the Premier League. Refreshing because as a fan you know where you stand but worrying as no doubt there is several Premier League clubs who would be desperate for a big, strong, quick lethal finisher.

 

Hogan isn’t the finished article but with the qualities he has, I’ve no doubt he would deal with the step up quite well.

 

Still, if the club hold out for the reported £15 million price tag they have put on his head then it will be fair recompense for a player who has spent close to two years injured.

 

And whilst we undoubtedly want to keep him, it is definitely to our benefit if more and more clubs join the bidding. If he is to be sold then I would be more than happy for a bidding war to commence.

 

It does mean thought we must strengthen up front and surely a savvy Director of Football will look to bring in someone BEFORE Hogan is sold. If we believe what we are told then the club already have their targets and know who we want to bring in.

 

I’d much rather approach those clubs know rather than when we have £15 million burning a hole in our pockets. I would imagine the price for any potential target will inexplicably rise should Hogan be sold.

 

 

The Dean Smith Dilemma.

 

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I thought I would leave the question of Dean Smith’s future till last as it seems clear to me that Matthew Benham wouldn’t share my thoughts so whilst it is my opinion, it is unlikely to be shared by the clubs hierarchy.

 

Prior to Dean Smith’s appointment I was pretty certain he was the man I would have chose to take over and have always been of the mind that Managers should be given be time.

 

During the clubs poor run of form last season that saw us worryingly looking over our shoulder at the relegation places that I felt a change of personnel was needed and that Smith should go. I placed a caveat on that however. I said I felt that should Smith be given time then I felt he would get it right but that I didn’t think we had the time to wait and relegation was looming.

 

I was wrong, Smith turned it around a lot sooner than that and we finished the season strongly. What is very interesting is that just after his appointment there were many Walsall fans who warned us that we would be in for a frustrating time.

 

Walsall fans warned us that his substitutions could appear odd, his tactics frustrating and that his teams tend to go on long loosing runs followed by winning runs and that sometimes, there wasn’t a lot in between.

 

What we have seen since he took over is a great deal of inconsistency. You can not blame him for what he walked into. Diagouraga forcing an exit, Tarky going on strike and nothing coming in through the door but the football on the loosing run was dire and we looked a league 1 side.

 

The things turned and he needs the credit for that. This season however the football in my opinion has been pretty bland. We all worry about where we would be without Scott Hogan. Despite two positive results against Burton and Bristol City and a decent performance despite the result against Leeds, it was back to being consistently inconsistent.

 

Put aside the emotion of gaining an injury time equaliser, the performance against Cardiff was maddening. Ironically for the first time I can remember it was Smith’s substitutions that changed the game.

 

Kaikai, McEachran and Hoffmann had big impacts and got us back in the game and of course we were not only playing elven men but up against one of the worst refereeing performances in recent memory. But don’t let this take away from the following:

 

Cardiff are awful. From a footballing perspective they are woeful and a decent team would have destroyed them with the way they played on the day.

 

As soon as we went one nil down the players notably dropped their heads. It was as if they didn’t know how they could turn it around. It wasn’t until Kaikai provided a burst of energy, McEachran dominated possession and Hoffmann confused the hell out of the back four that we looked remotely possible of getting back into it. All this against one of the worst sides in the division.

 

All too often Smith makes substitution’s that no one can understand. A left back off for a centre back when loosing or a striker left on the bench in favour of a defensive midfielder all leave us scratching our heads.

 

Even against Cardiff, Smith removed Sawyers and brought on McEachran. Sawyers was the only player on the pitch who looked capable of producing something.

 

I know many will argue that it worked and McEachran was excellent. It did and he was, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

 

At the moment Smith is doing just enough to stay in the job and most likely will continue to do so but I find myself craving exciting football and for the team to produce the kind of stuff that gets you out of your seat.

 

Many will ask who is out there? Who could do a better job? Rowett? Well I get the impression that a few clubs will be looking at him and he may get a shot in the Premier League soon. Maybe waiting till the end of the season is the right thing to do but for me, Smith isn’t what I hoped we were getting.

 

I suppose the way to sum it up is that Smith is probably achieving what is expected. Lower mid table. It’s just this this club is all about finding innovative ways to perform above expectations. Whilst changing a left back for a centre when loosing with 25 to go is certainly innovative, it’s not really what we all had in mind.

 

It may be difficult for Benham to sack him but if there is a possibility of bringing in a manager who would play exciting attacking football, I hope that Benham takes the gamble.

 

Up the Bees.

 

 

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