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Match preview: Brentford V Forest

Billy Grant was kind enough to sit down with us and clearly explain the recent shenanigans at Brentford and what we can expect on our visit to Griffin Park.

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A few weeks ago, you'd blown it big time but now you're back in there, elbowing yourselves to the front of the already bulbous queue. Was it the whole 'Mark Warburton' thing that was the cause of this wobble?

Warburton-gate is a very long story … most of it is explained in the articles on Beesotted and also in the interviews. But in a nutshell, owner Matthew Benham made a decision he wants to run the club the european way - technical director and head coach. Technical director would be in charge of buying and looking after players; Head coach would be in charge of on-field stuff. Initially Mark Warburton was initially in effect sporting director when Uwe Rosler was manager and did a great job - finding players like Adam Forshaw, Jake Tidwell, Harlee Dean and Stuart Dallas. He then became manager and has done fantastically well.

Meanwhile Benham’s company, SmartOdds, has had huge success from their statistical model which has stats on pretty much everything that moves in football. It is the success from these stats that funds Brentford football club.

The club has also used the stats in a number of ways in the past - including identifying players to buy. Jota, Gray and Odubajo who will all play on Monday, were all identified as players to have a good look at from his statistical model. The word is Benham wanted to formalise the club structure which would mean that the manager would no longer have a veto on signing - that would like with the sporting director.

That did not work for Warburton as he wanted to be able to bring in whatever players he wanted. As a result, they already had made a decision to go separate ways. There are a number of rumours flying around about both parties talking to different people and clubs. However, it when only someone leaked the story to the press that the whole affair really blew up. If the story hadn’t leaked, the whole world would have been none the wiser and Benham and Warburton would have most likely sorted out their differences or thrashed out a deal without the whole world knowing.

Fans are a bit torn. Everyone loves Mark Warburton and how he has transformed the team and the club on the pitch. But they also love Matt Benham who has been a fan for over 35 years and admitted that he will only do what he feels is right for the club.

Everyone was very flat after the story ran in the paper. We had to play Watford that night and surprisingly the team was brilliant. We went 1-0 up even though we were down to 10 men with over 65 minutes to go. But we just ran out of steam and lost to a last minute goal. The following Saturday we were awful against Charlton. We thought it was because of the Warburton thing but Mark reckoned that the Watford game just sapped the energy from the team. It was probably a mix of the two.

By the middle of next week, a lot of the cloud had cleared as positions were clarified. The fans felt they understood more what was going down (not saying all of them agreed with it) … and the team was the same. It felt like everyone was on the same side again. Bournemouth were up next - we smashed them off the park. Since then we’ve had a few slightly iffy results (losing away to Birmingham who were poor .. and home to Cardiff who were poor) .. but that was more due to the fact that we looked a bit tired more than anything else.

The Warburton situation is behind us for this season. Everyone is focused on what is happening on the pitch. If we don’t make the playoffs, it won’t be because of the Warburton situation. It will be because our squad isn’t quite big enough and we run out of steam. Either that or we get a few late season injuries.

Playing devil's advocate - and from a very safe and distant distance away - isn't there a case to say that there is in fact a big dollop of logic behind the whole thing? What's so wrong about ensuring continuity on the football side of things so that whoever comes in can focus on that and not get bogged down in the overall 'vision' of the club, or whatever they do in the boardroom?

There are two schools of thought here. Yes there is a dollop of logic in the system Benham is suggesting. And if anyone is logical, it is Benham. He makes very good logical decisions. What makes it difficult for us football fans is we’re very emotional. So we see things in a more emotional way. So although Benham’s approach is sensible for the long-term good of the club, we fans just like things to stay as they are if everything is going well.

The hardest thing for anyone to do is to change things when everything is going hunky dory. I have to tip my hat to Benham as he is going against the grain. Doing the tough thing. At a time where everyone around him will tell him he is doing the wrong thing.

The ideal scenario that every fan wants is for Warburton and Benham to sort ‘something’ out so that Benham could maintain his vision and work with Warburton. However, realistically we don’t think that’s going to happen.

If you to ask me who do I think is right. I think they’re both in their own right to pursue the path they feel works for them and you have to respect them both for making decisions that they believe in.

The reality is Benham would almost definitely be at Brentford longer than Warburton. If he got us to the playoffs you never know .. West Ham could come in with a wheelbarrow of cash and lure him away in the summer. Then we’d be accused of not planning ahead.

You played us off the park at our place earlier in the season and your home record is pretty impressive. Is there any reason to think you won't do it again?

We had a great day and night in Nottingham and Brentford were on fire that night. Andre Gray - played for Luton in the Conference last season. This was his night. He really stepped up to the plate.


But as I said before, we’ve been really tired recently. The international break has been great for us. We came out against Fulham and in the end we smashed them off the park. That November and December period was our peak this season. We were very good then. We haven’t quite hit those dizzy heights since week in and week out. We beat you guys, Derby, Fulham and smashed Wolves and Blackburn off the park in that period.

However, we have learned a lot since that period and have still had some great great matches. Norwich fans thought we were the best team to come to Carrow Road when we beat them 2-1 … Boro fans thought the same even though they beat us …  On our day we can be absolutely brilliant. And, being the team who has scored most goals from 80 minutes in the whole league, we never give up (we’ve scored 3 goals against Fulham after 90 minutes this season).

As long as you come down to Griffin Park to play football and our players don’t get a rush of blood to the head because you have Chuba Akpom playing for you (he never really tried to pretend he was happy about lowering himself to play for us last season. We sent him packing home after a few weeks. Word on the street was he …. er … didn’t get on with a few of his new team mates) and keep it professional, we should be OK.

And naturally, we will have to press you for a prediction. Sadly, my crystal ball looks all misty and bleak in terms of a Forest win. How about you?

A tough but after seeing how we despatched or massive MASSIVE rivals Fulham, I we’re going to be buzzing. Clean sheets are a rarity for us. I see a nervy 2-1 win for the Bees. However, I would settle for a 1-1 draw and no injuries as we’re playing Derby at their place on Saturday and I believe we can get 3 points there if fully fit.

……

Billy Grant knows his onions. He writes, videoblogs and podcasts (www.audioboom.com/beesotted) for Beesotted website. I feel tired just thinking about all of the things he does.