How's your season started?
To say things haven’t gone according to plan is a bit of an understatement. We’ve played well in every single game but have only picked up three points from 21. The best testament to how your team is playing is to check the views of the opposition fans. The pre-Reading match podcast his here and we have a section seven minutes in where we talk to away fans. Every one we speak to raves about the football we played and says they have no idea how we didn’t get all three points.
Very similar to when we came to the Madjeski last season on a Tuesday night. We played Reading off the park that evening and went home with a English Eurovision nil points. That game just about sums up our season.
There was a simple chart drawn up with a league table of shots on goals and on target and we were right up at the top of that (before the most recent midweek games).
We’ve been chatting a lot about expected goals (xG) on our podcasts recently - which not only plots up how many chances you have on goal but the quality of those chances. Before the midweek game, xG has us in the top 10.
But we’re not stupid enough to think that stats will win you matches. You have to take your chances. And quite simply, we haven’t taken ours. Despite us having a shed loads of shots - and good shots at that.
Yes we have had bad luck. We must have hit the post at least four or five times in those games. But we’ve also not been clinical enough in front of goal. That coupled with a certain haphazard-ness in defending (solid most of the time but then we let in silly goals), we still have a few things we need to sort out.
Saying that, I’d rather be playing wicked football. Creating a shed load of chances. And fluffing it. Than playing dire football and creating very few chances. Brentford fans on the whole believe we just need one win to get our season up and running. Will it be this weekend?
Did you get what you needed in the transfer window?
Yes and no.
We bought six new players. Henrick Dalsgaard (RB), Luke Daniels (GK), Kamo Mokotho (DM), Neil Maupay (F), Ollie Watkins (F), and Emiliano Marcondes (AM - due to join in January).
In addition, we picked up for our B-team 19 year old attacking midfielder Theo Archibald from Celtic - who has already made his first team debut. 19-year-old midfielder Ali Coote from Dundee United - who seems quite a prospect - and left-back/centre-back Mads Bech Sörensoen from AC Horsens in Denmark who made his debut for them in the Danish Superleague at the age of 16.
Couple that with the likes of left-back Ilias Chatzitheodoridis and striker Justin Shaibu who graduated from the B team to the first team this summer, we have had a raft of ‘new’ players this season ready to make their bow. That’s 11 ‘new’ players right there.
The real killer was when we lost three players to Birmingham on deadline day - Jota, Dean and Colin. The fact is - it was highly likely all three were going to go as Jota and Dean refused to sign new contracts with a year to go and Colin has a buy out clause and had people sniffing around him all season.
But fans got upset as it was seen as a disastrous window because we lost 3 players at the end - even though we actually picked up six (or 11 if you want to go for B teamers).
How are they doing?
It’s bedding-in time. Watkins looks lively - picking up three or four man of the matches in the process. Maupay looks like he is going to be a pest. Mokotjo looks good but currently is a bench player as Ryan Woods is bossing the midfield. Right-back Dalasgaard has looked more solid the past few games but got knocked out on Tuesday at Wednesday so probably won’t play against Reading.
All in all. Some great players were picked up. But as I stated before, we’re missing a load of gilt-edged chances. Saying that, as we’re quick to point out, Andre Gray we bought from Luton for £500k a few years ago and he found the initial settling-in difficult - scoring two goals in his first 14 league games for Brentford. The rest is history.
Give this lot a few months and they’ll be fine.
We've seen rumblings of unhappiness over your new stadium, what's going on?
They’ve downgraded to the stadium from 20k to just 17,250 fans and taken out a few features like seven-days-a-week hospitality, club shop and a dedicated fans’ bar. This was due to escalating costs and the club feeling that the original build was too difficult and could incur delays which would cost even more money.
The club has decided to focus on matchday activity – including matchday hospitality - and is less interested in trying to make the stadium a 7-day-a-week all seeing all dancing conferencing etc venue.
The argument with the reduction was that club was happy with filling the stadium to the rafters with committed Brentford fans rather than spending time and resources trying to pull in every Tom, Dick and Harry in a bigger stadium with potential to expand. The counter argument is there is no plan B for expansion if the club were ever successful and Brentford will always be a 17,250 sized club - restricted by the stadium we play in.
When it was explained properly to fans what was going on and why, I would say most accepted it. Still some questions and gripes. But as was described in one of our podcasts, if you were told you were going to get an Audi A6 and when you opened the garage you found an Audi A4, initially there will be disappointment. But the reality is… if you were offered an Audi A4 in the beginning, you would more than probably been well happy with that.
Who should Reading be wary of on Saturday?
Ha! Well that would be telling. When the whole team is on their game, they pass the ball around like no-one’s business. So you will be impressed by a plethora of folk I would say. The Sawyers, Maupay, Woods, Watkins ball-play is interesting .
Ollie Watkins has impressed me by how young but athletic, strong and fast he is - with an eye for goal. Look out for Ollie.
Anyone from Reading that's impressed you?
Yann Kermogant was always a pest. I was impressed with him when he was at Charlton. Addicts fans were gutted when he was sold. I’m sure he will continue to be a pest for Reading.
We are due a win. A decent win. You can’t keep passing teams off the park and shooting loads. On target. Having decent shots. Without scoring for too long. Surely. On our podcast this week, I said we’d win 2-1 .. but that was only because 3-1 was taken by The Dutchman.
I’m going to say Brentford to win 3-1.
Finally, any advice for fans making the trip?
In our Beesotted match preview, we always give away fans a decent pub guide. Check it out here. There are the four pubs on the corner of course (The Griffin being the best). But slightly further afield and all decent are One Over The Ait and The Express Tavern (both Kew Bridge Station), Magpie and Crown (Brentford High Street) and The Globe and The Lord Nelson (both ‘local boozers’ just over the A4 Great West Road four minutes walk from Brentford station)
Billy Grant can be found on Twitter at @BillyTheBee99 and blogs, videoblogs and podcasts for @Beesotted (www.beesotted.com).