Bees Fan Billy Waxes Lyrical About Boro v Brentford
By fmttm
Thursday 08 Aug 2019 13:15:00
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Brentford will be Jonathan Woodgate's first home opponents at the Riverside on Saturday. The Bees have been plucky but ultimately BEEten opponents for Boro so many times in recent campaigns that was until it all came crashing down last season when the side from west London turned the tables on us here coming back from a goal down to win.

I asked Billy the Bee Grant (@BillyTheBee99) for his thoughts leading into the big opening fixture at the Riverside. This was also a case of turning tables as Billy is forever asking others questions for the Bees podcast  (http://PrifeOfWest.London) and their website @Beesotted (http://beesotted.com) and indeed arranging interviews for the SKY fans panel.

So, no pressure then, Billy, time for you to face the music and answer some questins about Boro v Brentord.


What are your hopes and expectations for the coming season at Brentford?

I’m writing this before the window closed so it’s hard to say. In the Beesotted pre-season predictions (https://beesotted.com/championship-predictions-barnsley-leeds/) I said we would come 5th. But that was dependent on our team remaining relatively intact. 

We haven’t lost many this window and we’re bought in more than we lost. But the players we have lost and are likely to lose are key. So it depends on what their replacements are like. I have to be honest. I don’t have any idea. But we are stronger defensively than last season. Although Jansson and Pinnock are different type of defenders than Mepham and Konsa.

I will go out on a limb and say - assuming everything clicks for us with the new signings, we should make playoffs. As we’re a good side without a shadow of doubt. 

Bees and Boro

You have had a lot of team changes over the summer – do you feel you have the balance right going into the new season?

 Yes we have brought in a truckload of players including centre back Pontus Jansson from Leeds (£4.5m). Defensive midfielder Nørgaard from Fiorentina (£3m). Attacking midfielder Mattias Jenssen from Celta Vigo (£3.5m). Winger Bryan from Troyes Mbeumo (£6m). Polish player of the season midfielder Joel Valencia from Polish champions Piast Gliwice (£1.5m). 

Keeper David Raya from Blackburn (£3m). Centre back Ethan Pinnock from Barnsley (£3m). Box-to-box midfielder Dru Yearwood from Southend (around £500k). We will have bought in a record -signing striker to take take the place of Maupay by the time you read this. And a left back too. 

Out we have seen Barbet. Odubajo. McEachran. And McLeod leave at the end of their contracts on a free. Fans were sad to see Sawyers go (£3m to WBA). Dan Bentley - who played his final game at Boro last season before being injured half-was through the game - we sold for £3m to Bristol City. Erzi Konsa we sold to Villa for £12m - only a year after we bought him for £2m. He’s a good player but still needs development. 

Maupay we sold yesterday for £20m to Brighton which was the big one. Will Benrahma still be with us at the weekend? If not, that will be another £20m.

People are confused as to how we are going big time spending money. No need to fear. Steve Gibson does not need to get his investigators on our case. I promise you, we haven’t sold our new stadium Derby-stylee even before we built it to fund our transfer spree. As you know, we’re well known for buying and selling players. Over the years, we reinvest the money we get by buying better players than the ones we sell 

Last January a good crop came in. We sold Chris Mepham for £15m after playing not even 50 games for The Bees. He came through our youth/B-team structure so cost us nothing. Ryan Woods went for £6m to Stoke. And Nico Yennaris we got a surprise windfall for him - with him tapping on his Chinese heritage to firstly become naturalised Chinese. Then he was able to sign for a Chinese team as a ‘homegrown’ player (as they have limits as to the amount of Chinese players who can join each team).

That netted us an unexpected £4.5m.So we spent all the money we got for selling three players in January on EIGHT players this window. On top of that, we have around another £38m still pulled in from the sale of Bentley, Konsa, Maupay and Sawyers. We won’t spend all of that. We’re likely to spend another £10m or so I reckon and bank the rest. 

But that’s how we do our business. It’s really REALLY frustrating seeing players go. But we’re getting used to it. Fans have been fuming at the departure of Maupay to Brighton. But the truth is. He got a Premier League deal. And a HUGE pay rise. And no matter what deal we put in front of him, he was gone. Out the door. No interest!

If history is anything to go by, the new recruits more often than not come good. We already have pulled in Benrahma’s replacement - assuming he will leave in the next 12 months. We also have an understudy to Mokotjo in Yearwood - as he only has a year left on his contract. Yes you do get your flops when you buy players. But you get that with every team. On the whole, I would say 80 to 90% of the players we sign come good. But you also get your big Nick Proschwitzs … and Phillip Hoffmans. And Josh McEachrans as well. All of whom failed at Brentford.

The question is how quickly will the team gel? That’s a lot of players to get in the flow. We’ve tightened our defence from last season with Jansson and Ethan Pinnock marshalling at the back. So hopefully we won’t let in so many silly goals. It’s about how quickly the midfield and attack get in the groove. Only time will tell. But I’m feeling confident. 

You finally beat us at the Riverside last season – which players do you feel might trouble us this term?

Excited to see what Bryan from Troyes has to say for himself. Signed from … well Troyes in the French 2nd division, Bryan Mbuemo is a winger who a load of teams were chasing his signature. He turned down a move to Southampton earlier in the year because he wanted to stay in France. Teams like Marseilles were sniffing around him. And the thought was we he would have gone to a big French club. But I guess the promise of guaranteed football swung it for him (in the same way it did for Maupay who Brighton tried to sign two years ago when they were promoted to the Premier League. But we were able to promise him first team football). 

It will be good to see how the back three of Jansson. Pinnock and Jeanvier cope with the Boro attack. Also excited to see how Nørgaard gets on in midfield. He was excellent in pre-season but got an injury that kept him out of the Birmingham game. He’s a proper centre midfield marshall. Dig in. Get the ball. Ping it off to players.

I will also be interested to see what our new mystery striker will be like. I’m sure he will start assuming we sign him. Rumours as I write this range from Charlton striker Lyle Taylor (at 29 years a very un-Brentford signing .. but we’ve changed our syncing strategy this season). To Albanian Swiss international striker Albian Ajeti. To Iranian Swiss striker Sam Ghoddos. We’re putting irons in fires all over the place. Will be interesting to see how these players fare. 

A lot of us are big admirers of the football you play but is it time for you to convert that play into points and prizes – or am I being too harsh/cynical here?

No you aren’t being harsh. This is something we mention on our Pride Of West London (http://PrideOfWest.London) podcast almost every week. In fact we refer to you guys comparing us to you in your Tony Mowbray days. 

Last week against Birmingham was typical Brentford. We passed loads. We had 78% possession. And 800 plus passes. We hit the woodwork loads (three times). Their keeper pulled off one if not two tremendous saves. Then we were were undone by Birmingham’s ONLY foray anywhere near our goal - a 20 yard spectacular header. Our keeper was a spectator other than for picking the ball out of his net. If you believe in xG, Birmingham’s rating of 0.01 is one of the LOWEST of all time.

I believe with the players we have bought, we are trying to shake things up somewhat. Yes we will still play football. But not so purist. Less of the pretty pretty football. And mix it up with a bit of rough and ready. More practical football. We tried to be tougher last season. But it wasn’t really us. Jansson is tough. Nørgaard is tough. Pinnock is solid. Let’s see how this shapes up for us at Boro.

Is there anyone in our ranks that you think could cause you grief?

Let’s see how our new defence of Jansson, Pinnock and Jeanvier fare against the likes of Fletcher, Assombalonga and Wing. They can cause problems. 

Do you reckon Woodgate can cut it as a manager and actually how do you rate the impact Thomas Frank is having at Brentford?

Too early to say for Woodgate. He’s had one match in which Boro seem to have a poorer defence than in recent times (good for us). But are much more attacking (we will have to be on our toes). 

Being a manager is tough. It’s how do you get your team motivated and playing to beat the likes of Wigan. And Barnsley. And Luton. That’s where you really earn your corn. Can Woodgate cut it? The learning curve is long. Frank Lampard stepped in and seemed to take to it like a duck to water. But it was only a small period he was judged on. And he had some BRILLIANT loanees. The likes of Harry Wilson. And Mason Mount. My gut says Woodgate may take a while. But all managers need development time. 

As for Thomas Frank. He had a horrendous start where he lost pretty much every match from October to December. But he then got his team starting to play how he wanted and we saw some great performances from the Bees at the back end of last season. He has had a massive input into the type of squad he wants - directing the DoFs and scouting team to the type of players who have caught his eye. He even would have had direct input into pulling in players like Christian Nørgaard who played for him at Brondby. 

So this is a big season for Frank. He’s a very technical manager. Loves his football. And we have seen what type of football his team likes to play. Some brilliant football. He now has a Thomas Frank team. Not a Dean Smith team. He’s a lovely bloke and a people person. So let’s hope he can get these players to play for him in the way that he wants. 

Many of us can still remember the emotions around our move away from Ayresome Park. What are your thoughts around the final months for you at Griffin Park?

22 games left to go. It’s going to be a gutter when we leave. We’re trying not to think about it. There will be a number of events all season. And the club are planning a big send-off. Not sure of the details as yet. I think they will also be selling off bits of the stadium. Whoever buys the floodlights - I would love to see what they do with it. 

There are also various legacy projects going down - looking to see how we can maintain the legacy of Griffin Park. And fans are having input on atmosphere. Food and drink. Communications. Technology. Plus many more things related to the novel. Fair play to the club. They are liaising with fans a lot on this.

But yes .. we will miss Griffin Park. A real shame we couldn’t have had just one season of Premier League football there (even if we were relegated straight away) so that yer Arsenals. And yer Man Citys could experience it. 

Any predictions for which teams will contest the top and bottom places in the Championship come May 2020?

The top. I have said WBA should be up there. In principal Leeds should be too. As for a wild card as there’s always one. Let’s go for us. If this new team clicks, why not?

Bottom places is tough. I said Wigan but I haven’t got a clue. Barnsley will be OK I think. Charlton I think may be OK as well. Maybe someone will do an Ipswich. Birmingham have always flirted with relegation. They have bought a few players (I thought they were limited because of FFP) and got Pep Clotet in. But they looked awful against us. So I’ll put them down as outsiders. 

Beesoted guys

Finally, it is rumoured that some of your fans were spotted dancing to the Birdie Song after your win at the Riverside, do you have any plans should you win again?

Lol. That was one of those things. We made a pact with you guys. If we EVER won at Boro, we would dance to The Birdie Song. Thinking - on past history - it would never happen. We kept our word when we won.

As Boro fans will know, I love my trips up to Boro - despite the losses - and am gutted not to be there this season. We’re had some of our best awaydays up at Boro despite losing pretty much every time. We were the first away fans EVER to discover Baker Street. Sherlocks had only been open a few weeks when we bowled in. 

Since then we’ve made some great friends in the Baker Street manor and have seen the area grow and grow. Shame won’t be seeing people like Erica at Twisted lip and Jane at Disgraceland this time around. We were lucky enough to have experienced the Orange Pip Market during one of our stays. Last season we even dropped into the Cold War Steve exhibition on Baker Street.

But this year, one of my best mates got her ‘big party’ invitation in before the fixtures came out. So I committed - hoping it would fall on a home game. So this will be the first match up at Boro I will have missed in six outings and I’m gutted. So I’m not sure what the DJ will be playing at her party. It’s an 80s party so no doubt The Birdie Song will be in his repertoire. 

Maybe if we win, you never know …..

 …. just maybe.


Billy Grant (@BillyTheBee99) writes and podcasts for @Beesotted (http://beesotted.com). You can catch their podcast at Pride of West London (http://PrifeOfWest.London)

Beesotted



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