Lets Have A... MASS-DEBATE

Last updated : 07 January 2002 By
I would say that our panels predictions for Brentford this season, bearing in mind they were asked during the pre-season campaign, was a pretty fair reflection as to how the majority of us felt the club would fair. Without any of them daring to mention the word 'relegation' for fear of public execution, they all seemingly believed that the outlook for Brentford this season seemed pretty bleak. Steve Wilson, making his debut appearance for TITS, tipped Mr Coppell's lads to finish a respectable tenth, despite clutching rather tightly to a 50/1 each way betting slip. Robert Trand pitched in one place lower and opted for a no frills campaign and a comfortable mid table position (12th) whilst Rob Davies predicted what was probably going through all of our minds and spoke of his fear that Brentford were in for a very tough nine months and would only survive relegation by the skin of our teeth finishing a lowly 18th in the Second Division.
Interestingly enough though, looking back on all their comments, everyone of them highlighted Brentford's lack of fire power in-front of goal for their pessimistic opinions!

So now that our panel of experts have seen the lads in the flesh and that their prayers have been answered with the introduction of loan signing Ben Burgess, do they now believe that Brentford have the quality to sustain a promotion push come May or do they still hold reservations about Brentford's early form and see them dropping down the charts quicker than a Posh Spice seven inch (and we're not talking about Mr Beckham)

Over to you boys!

Steve Wilson - Electrical Engineer - Hayes

What a start to the season! I don't think anyone within Brentford thought we'd witness such fine displays down at Griffin Park.

I must admit to being rather negative when approached for this article during the summer and although saying that I thought Brentford had a fairly solid team on paper, I didn't honestly believe that they could physically turn it into results. I was wrong, as Brentford have since been flying and have even topped the table at one stage this season.

Obviously my opinions have swung somewhat and I'm not coming to Griffin Park with a negative attitude anymore, as was the case last season, but our whole season still rests in the hands of one man. Not Lloyd Owusu, Paul Evans or Darren Powell but the man himself Mr Noades.

I would love to think that he has witnessed the transformation this club has gone through since the arrival of Coppell and believes that giving the club 'one last go' is a fairly sound investment, yet I still have a feeling that a rather nasty surprise is lurking around the corner. As I write we now have a very organised, confident and able squad. Just a little bit of tinkering here and there would make the world of difference and turn us into serious promotion contenders! Maybe the word 'tinkering' means a little more investment from Mr Noades, but is that possible with the club being in so much debt? I'm not so sure!

The arrival of Ben Burgess has been a Godsend though. Some of his goals have been worthy of the Premiership and those very goals have been the difference between being in the top three for the first few months rather than occupying a mid table spot. If we can show enough forward thinking and tie him down on loan till the end of the season then who knows what may happen? Just goes to show that we were right when we talked about the missing link all those months back in the first issue of TITS, but whether we could sign Big Ben permanently is extremely doubtful. No doubt everyone is wondering what will happen if and when he returns to Ewood Park? Do we inherit the goal scoring drought again and are we back to square one?

Even with Ben gracing Griffin Park I still don't think the forward line is the finished article. I know that Lloyd comes in for much criticism and heaping more pressure onto his shoulders isn't exactly going to help the lad, but he has missed some absolute sitters this season and continues to frustrate. In my book he still lacks the conviction of a feared striker that can perform consistently over a whole season and lead us into the First Division. If sacrificing Lloyd would mean we'd have some cash to invest in Burgess then I wouldn't hesitate.
I genuinely believe that on reputation alone someone would be willing to part with half a million for Owusu! - Sounds terrible to be talking like that about a player that is still pitching in with his fair share of goals, but if it improves the squad then so be it!

I'm dreaming a little now, but can you imagine Jamie Forrester and Ben Burgess leading the attack? Now that's what I call a championship winning side! Sheer class.

You'll have noticed that I haven't mentioned the midfield or defence. That's because they don't need mentioning. If you can find me better in the division then I'd like to hear about them!

So I originally predicted Brentford to come home a distant 10th. Have I changed my mind? If we can keep the current squad in tact them I'm prepared to put my head on the line and go for a play-off berth.

If we sell come the New Year then I hope we have enough points in the bag to stave off relegation!

Over to you Mr Noades!

Robert Trand - Student - Ickenham.

What a great start to the season - I can't really believe how well we have done so far, but I'm afraid I am going to have to continue with my views from the last issue. I would love to see us in this position come late April, but being a Brentford fan I have been there, done that and got the emotional scars. Brentford always muck up!

Despite having Steve Coppell in charge I can see it happening again. So why do I have these views? Firstly Brentford have been quite fortunate so far this season in terms of injuries - makes a change after the last few seasons. An injury can strike at any moment - how would we cope without Michael Dobson, Darren Powell, Paul Evans, Gavin Mahon? No disrespect to those who are behind these players in the pecking order, but they would find it difficult to replace these quality players.

Secondly, its common knowledge that the likes of Paul Evans, Lloyd Owusu and Gavin Mahon are all out of contract come the end of the season. If Brentford receives a bid for any of these, the club can't really refuse. It's better to take some money for our stars, rather than risk losing them on freebies come the end of the season. Especially in our financial situation.

Ben Burgess has been a revelation at the club since joining on loan - a young Bob Taylor in the making. He is so composed in front of goal - it just brings all the memories back! But Big Ben could be gone any day. I know the club and player in question would like to stay for the season, but as Steve Coppell recently said it's down to Blackburn Rovers. They could recall him tommorow, or could sell him. So we'll have to wait nervously over the next few months. Brentford seem a pretty strong outfit under Steve Coppell, but I think the area that we are still lacking is in front of goal. I have already mentioned Ben Burgess, but what happens if he does go? Can Lloyd Owusu and Kev O'Connor score sufficient goals to keep us in promotion contention? I'm not sure.

Brentford need a lot of luck if they are to get promoted in my view. They have the talent and the manager, but I think they will need luck in the injury department and transfer market if we are to achieve the impossible....promotion.

Rob Davies - Air Traffic Controller - Hillingdon

I have to admit to being very surprised at Brentford's start to the season. Delighted, but surprised.

Until last Friday I was still a bit sceptical, after all how many times could you honestly have said that Brentford have played well this season? One good half against Port Vale, one good half against Tranmere and 90 excellent minutes against Newcastle doesn't amount to too much does it?

But all my pessimism went completely out of the window after the brilliant result at the Withdean Stadium last week. To be honest I didn't go due to the lack of tickets (I even had my Fulham supporting boss on the phone to his old mate and now Brighton player Paul Brooker to see if he could blag one for me!), but from what I can gather it was a creditable TEAM performance and even Lloydie tried hard!!

I can't see too many more difficult games than Brighton away this season and I think that this fine result is an indication of what the TEAM is capable of, and that was without Ben Burgess too.

I keep emphasising the word TEAM because this is where I think any future problems might lie. I said in my original piece for TITS that I think we have a good first choice XI and that is proving to be true but I can't help thinking that if we start picking up injuries and suspensions and consequently have to rely on squad players we could still end up struggling.

The other thing to consider is the possible sale of players during the season. It's highly unlikely that our success hasn't brought a few scouts down to Griffin Park, eyeing up the likes of Dobson, Mahon, Evans and Powell and in our current financial crisis it would be madness not to sell if BIG money was being offered.

I'm glad to say that my original prediction of the Bees to finish just above the relegation zone looks horrendously wrong. The problem now is that the team have set themselves a very high standard and I now expect them to win every game and finish the season as champions!!

Many thanks to our three panellists....
Read their views in the next issue of TITS