Solid mid table as we go into November. Is that about what you expected after promotion last year?
Honestly? It’s far better than we expected. We were warned that we needed to brace ourselves and keep our head above the water and make sure we don’t go down. We know it’s a long LONG way to go but we’re quite proud with the way that our team has tackled this division by sticking to their guns playing attractive football. We’re always pessimistic (30 plus years in Division 3 does that for you) but it is the away fans that we meet that say that we’ll be OK if we continue with the same style of football. I do worry if we have a slew of injuries though…
We’re just enjoying our time in the division. We’re probably the smallest team in the division but the fans are making sure they travel the country and enjoy themselves. We took 1,200 up to Wigan, over 2,000 to Watford (OK, it wasn’t far but you have to remember our average crowd was 5,500 only a few season ago) Furthermore, we have a fleet of free coaches coming up to your ground for this match. Hopefully we’ll get anywhere between 750 and 1,000 fans up there. Not bad for a Wednesday night.
Not bad indeed. Mark Warburton comes across as an impressive bloke. Is he as likeable as he seems?
He’s a top, top bloke. He’s worldly. Worked in the city, bagged a load of cash, then gave it all up to coach Under 9’s at Watford because he wanted to get into football. So I get the feeling nothing phases him too much and whilst he’s obviously ambitious, he is also level headed and is motivated in different ways than his rival managers. The players all seem to like him because from what I gather as he talks to them on a level and allows them to express themselves.
A glance at your results so far suggests that you’ve done well against the lower placed teams but not so well against the teams at the top end of the table. Is that about right?
Absolutely not. We finally got the result we deserved against one of the best teams in the division at the weekend – top of the table Derby. In the first half we gave them too much respect and they took the game to us – taking the lead. The way we approached the second half, the Derby fans told me after the game "We weren’t ready for that. You came at us and destroyed us".
It was really pleasing to hear Derby fans reckon that we were, on our 2nd half performance, the best team they had played all season. Andre Gray equalized just after the break. Derby fans thought he was well tricky. Could have been worse for Derby as Gray’s header came off the inside of the post and bounced out after that. The most gratifying thing was … most teams would have settled for a draw against the top of the league team with 10 minutes to go .. but Warburton smelt blood, went all out attack .. and it paid off.
The thing is … we have played as well as that or even better this season and not got the result.
You have to remember we’re learning. Our main problem is we have been failing to take our chances. We discussed this in the recent Beesotted podcast, which featured both Derby and Forest fans. Caj, the Forest fan, pointed out that the league is so tight, you can have three bad results and be out the picture then have three great results and go from nowhere to the fringes of promotion.
We played Norwich at home recently. I had three Norwich fans in the home end with me and they were dumbfounded as to how we weren’t two or three goals up in the first half. We were brilliant. After 70 minutes of not scoring, they picked us off and scored 3 goals. We were also very unlucky against Watford. We matched them throughout the game but Vydra scored an absolute worldy of a goal and we lost 2-1.
That Vydra. Damn him and his talent and goals.
We did beat Rotherham on the road and interviewed a load of Forest fans on their way to Sheffield Wednesday on our Beesotted video. We have conceded a lot of goals from 25 yards plus this season. We rarely came across goals from that distance in League One. That’s something that we need to work on for sure.
On the plus side, we’re disappointed with our last three results but the reality is we’re only four points off the play-off laces.
After our dismal performance at Huddersfield Town in which we crashed to a 3-0 reverse, it's fair to say that we are a tad nervous at the prospect of facing a buoyant Brentford team. How confident are you of getting a result at the City Ground?
The Derby win came after drawing two games: 0-0 away to Wigan and home to Sheffield Wednesday, then losing 3-1 to Bolton. Some argue the way we play, we’re not set up to win away. We’re not happy to sit back and let teams come for us. We still go for it. Technically, if your front players are on fire, you should give us a hard time. But you just never know with us. We’ll we flying down the wings and playing the ball around in midfield for sure.
The Derby win will give us confidence. As long as we don’t go missing in the first 20 minutes, which happens quite often, we will give you guys a game. We won’t be sitting back and putting 10 men behind the ball I can assure you.
I think we can get a result … a draw is likely .. but if we’re on fire, we could sneak a win.
I wouldn't rule it out given our performance against Huddersfield. Let's just hope , from our perspective, your hubris is your undoing. I saw a bit of Moses Adubajo last year for Leyton Orient. He looked like an interesting prospect. Has he stepped up to the level required in The Championship?
Moses is a very good player. He still has work to do to acclimatise to this division. He looked great in pre-season. But teams know he’s a threat so they do a job on him. So it’s how he gets around that problem.
On Saturday, he played at right back as our regular full back, Alan McCormack, got injured against Bolton. In the 2nd half, he really took the game to Derby setting up both goals with maurauding runs from deep.
We’re looking really for players like Gray and Odubajo to get game-time and experience. If we manage to stay in this division this season (and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t), they will come back even stronger next season. They cost £1.5m between them. If they carry on developing the way they are at the moment, you can quadruple that value in a year, at least.
How likely is it that Jonathan Douglas smash in a screamer from long range? Does he still have that in his locker?
Douglas could strike from long range. But you are more likely to find him defending on the edge of our penalty area then moments later marauding in on the edge of your penalty are and looking for a loose ball to bang in from 10 yards. Alan Judge is more likely to hit a 35 yard winner. He loves a shot does olde Judgey. Our Celta Vigo midfielder Jota (José Ignacio Peleteiro Ramallo) can also shoot from range.
Just before kick-off, we’ll belt out a rousing and amended version of ‘Mull of Kintyre’ to get us in the mood. (We’ll also have another, slightly less rousing bash at it just before the second half kicks off too, depending on the score at that stage). What can we expect in terms of songs from your end?
If your keeper lets a goal in, "It’s all your fault" will be directed at him when he is at our end. "Can’t hear Forest sing we’ll sing on our own" will hopefully be a big one. And you know we’ve had a good night if "Hey Jude" rings from the Brentford end: a song we’ve been singing on the terraces since the 70s but now being adopted by all sorts of teams including Sheffield Wednesday (who have claimed ownership apparently. I think Paul McCartney may have something to say about that) and recently, as I filmed for my Brazil videoblog, in Belo Horizonte, England.
We did make a football record last season called Come On You Brentford. The video featured fans and players and it gets played on the tannoy at half time … but you wont hear it on the terraces.
That song is ridiculously catchy. Which of your players are you likely to blame should it all start going wrong for you and conversely, who is most likely to leave the City Ground as a hero?
This is a toughie. We like to think we came up from League 1 as a team and we don’t like to blame anyone. When we missed that penalty against Doncaster Rovers which saw us spend another year in League One, some people blamed Marcello Trotta, the F*lham loanee, for the penalty miss but that was a bit unfair. There were games we could and should have won that we didn’t which would have meant we wouldn’t have had to rely on Trotta.
We’re also still gelling with a load of new players coming in. Fans will undoubtedly get frustrated if there’s a game when we’re not scoring goals and we bring on another striker like Nick Proschwitz; he doesn’t quite deliver the goods.
The hero? I think with players like Assombalonga, Antonio and Fryatt banging in the goals, this is the game where David Button could be the hero of the day.
The catering at Forest is awful. I recommend that you bring a pack-up. Carrot cake is criminally underrated, in my humble opinion.
Got the lunch box and hip flask already packed up. Thanks for the tip.
Thanks for your time and all the best for the season. Looking forward to a trip down to Griffin Park on Bank Holiday Monday in April.
Billy the Bee Grant writes and video blogs for Beesotted fanzine (www.beesotted.co.uk). You can see their videos on Beesotted YouTube (www.youtube.com/beesotted1992) and you can catch up with their pre-match podcast with Derby and Forest fans on iTunes (http://bit.ly/1sYKFAz) and audioboom (http://bit.ly/1xExlPX)