Brentford blessed by Toney's fast start - Interview
Thursday, 26th Nov 2020 16:50 by Clive Whittingham
Brentford have yet another red hot striking talent on their hands, but have made a middling start to the Championship season after going so close in 2019/20. We spoke to @Junkyard_Fool ahead of Friday's derby...
Was last season a success or a failure for Brentford?
Only the worst kind of nouveau Bees fan who’s only been on board since we stopped being West London’s perennial losers (and there’s a fair few of them inhabiting grotty corners of Facebook groups) could view last season as anything other than a resounding success. Our highest league position since we tumbled out of the top flight after the war, playing free-flowing exciting attacking football, with which we’ve become practically synonymous - the media darlings tag that’s become attached to us is strange though and I can well see how it irks others.
It’s hard not to view our relationship with the play offs as similar to Spinal Tap and their drummers, and give a David St Hubbins weary sigh and say “the law of averages says ONE day we’ll go up that way” until then though, us and the play offs is like apple pie and cold sick. The reality of losing a Wembley final to your most hated rivals it turns out is, for me at least, not as bad as the dread leading up to it. Such is this weird current world of non-attendance and all that might entail if you only get one season in the Premiership.
Thomas Frank and certain players copped some grief for being, shall we say, over confident at the end of the season, was that fair?
I struggle to get my head round the absolute tsunami of shit that flowed our way from West Yorkshire and SW6 after what seemed like mild, obviously click-bait driven, cliched comments from the manager and players. A certain amount of siege mentality that had pervaded around Leeds may be responsible and obviously gloating from a Fulham fanbase that had by and large been convinced we were going to do them. That said I always wince at any form of ‘talking-up’ by our management, whenever Dean Smith said anything as we threatened to get near the top six we’d go on one of his famous eight losses in ten streaks. While loathe to use the “lost in translation” bollocks, I think there was a degree of continental naivety by the likes of Frank & Marcondes, perhaps it’s just more of the done thing in other leagues.
How have you found this season so far?
Not sure how alone I am in finding this season just a bit phoney and ersatz. There was a novelty in project re-start or whatever it was called, to get the nine games done last season, and we had a promotion charge to finish (and end in the ultimately predictable way) but starting the new one with no fans has bled all enthusiasm from me. It still feels like early season “meh” even though there’s over a quarter gone.
The League Cup run however has been a bonus, the way the fixtures were scheduled one after the other at the start, and our success, built excitement. I wish they’d have continued with it as most seem to have forgotten that we have a home quarter final against a beatable Newcastle coming up. The early rounds gave us some (teeny tiny) payback against last season’s victorious promotion rivals, beating WBA on pens and smashing our Putney friends with a wonderful Benrahma goal a farewell gift.
Normally I’d have spent the past week lurking on your forum, nodding appreciatively or glaring at piss takes of “Bus Stops” “Lokomotiv Syon House” etc, this season it took a DM from you to remind me there was a game coming up.
When Bees first came up to the Championship, as an out of towner with limited opportunity to get to home games, I got quite giddy at the prospect of watching games on a laptop or kindle via the snide links to Qatari or Norwegian coverage. Stuck in the doldrums of L1/2 for decades meant our only live games were glamorous cup games once in a blue moon.
It took about ten minutes of the first 15.00 league game I watched for my attention to wander, and realise I can’t watch 90 minutes of football on a screen, I don’t watch 90 minutes when I’m in a stadium, I spend most of a match talking to mates, queuing for a piss, going for a pint, glaring at celebrating opposition fans etc. I just don’t have the concentration to focus on a game.
All of this preamble is to couch my opinions as really being a personal guess and in no way representative of general Bees views.
Brentford league results so far…
In the unusual position of favourites rather than underdogs, but have expectations shifted with the Benrahma and Watkins departures?
No not really, both were expected and flagged as happening by the club, we’ve long bought into the ethos of selling (finally getting the fees we thought such stars were worth) and that they will be replaced by a higher grade than the departing player, Vibe and Maupay were further on in their development than Hogan and Gray for example, as such Toney comes to us as a better player than Watkins was when we signed him. Benrahma is irreplaceable such is his mercurial talent, but he often went through patches of being incredibly frustrating and wasteful. I guess overall we’ll be more functional and slightly more predictable without him.
The expectation is pure promotion, I think the club got there before the fans did in that regard, but it Is what the new stadium and expenditure is geared towards. With that in mind the season so far has been a disappointment, we wouldn’t have expected to blow the division away but the lack of consistency and performances are worrying. Despite that we’re a couple of points and places better off than where we were at this stage last season.
Ins >>> Ivan Toney, 24, CF, Peterborough, £5.04m >>> Charlie Goode, 25, CB. Northampton, £990k >>> Vitaly Janelt, 22, DM, Bochum, £540k >>> Samman Ghoddos, 27, AM, Amiens, Loan
Outs >>> Ollie Watkins, 24, CF, Villa, £27m >>> Said Benrahma, 25, LW, West Ham, Loan >>> Dru Yearwood, 20, CM, NY Red Bulls, Undisclosed >>> Kamohelo Mokotjo, 29, DM, Cincinnati, Free >>> Jaakko Oksanen, 19, CM, Wimbledon, Loan >>> Luka Racic, 21, CB, Northampton, Loan >>> Halil Dervisoglu, 20, CF, Twente, Loan >>> Jan Zamburek, 19, CM, Shrewsbury, Loan >>> Joel Valencia, 25, RW, Legia Warsaw, Loan >> Patrik Gunnarsson, 19, GK, Viborg, Loan >>> Julian Jeanvier, 28, CB, Kasimpasa (Turkey), Loan >>> Justin Shaibu, 22, CF, Released >>> Nikolaos Karelis, 28, CF, Released
I’ve seen some criticism of Frank creeping into Brentford Twitter – is that just social media being social media, how do you feel he’s doing?
There are murmurings about Frank, and I suspect they are slightly more real than just internet weapons. His idiosyncrasies can be a tad grating in a post-match interview after you’ve lost 4-2 after being 2-0 up, and I suspect his cerebral manner irks some of our agricultural thinking support. That said I like him, but his insistence in playing a clearly out of form Canos has given a problem that he didn’t need to have.
Where is the team strong and weak?
I worry that the goals seem to be coming solely from the prodigious Toney this season, rather than shared around previously. That said Forss is clearly good enough for the Championship and yet we can only play him when Toney is rested or injured, come January there could be offers for him and I would imagine he’d be interested in guaranteed first team football.
How do you think you’ll do?
Having admitted to barely watching us it would be some cheek of me to venture an opinion on QPR as I’ve only a vague notion of your results this season, but I don’t see this as home-banker. I get the sense for all the calamity defending under Warburton there is a sense of identity being built, and you’re more than capable of turning it on at times. Surely too for all the false “we don’t care about you” bravado there’s a burning desperation to shove the gloating back down our throats for once.
The Twitter @loftforwords, @Junkyard_Fool
Pictures – Action Images
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