The club’s owner, Matthew Benham, has made it no secret that he hopes the Bees can become a sustainable Premier League club in the years to come. For a side with Brentford’s limited resources, that may seem ambitious, but the club have persevered with innovative and sometimes controversial ideas, in the aim of making this dream a reality.
However, many supporters have been quick to cast a shadow over this vision, due to the sales of yet more star players this summer. Last season’s captain Jake Bidwell and ever-present goalkeeper David Button, have already left for pastures new this summer. Although the most hurtful part of their departures, was surely their destinations – joining West London rivals QPR and Fulham respectively. The club cited ‘economic reasons’ for the deals.
There have been a handful of incoming players at least, to balance those blows. The main one being Romaine Sawyers, who worked with manager Dean Smith during his time at Walsall. Brentford will remember Sawyers, after his impressive showing against the Bees in the FA Cup last season, mesmerising a shaky defence. Other notable signings include Irish defender John Egan, signed from Gillingham, and Callum Elder, signed today on loan from Leicester City. Whilst the highly rated Daniel Bentley, has been brought in from Southend, to replace Button.
The Bees begin their campaign with a trip to Huddersfield Town, in a repeat of their final fixture of the previous campaign – which the West Londoners won 5-1! Next up is Exeter in the League Cup, where the boys will be looking to avoid a repeat of the 4-0 humiliation they suffered at the hands of lower-league Oxford United in the competition last year. That is followed up by the first home league game against Ipswich Town – in a repeat of last season’s opening fixture at Griffin Park.
Brentford will hope for a more stable season after the club worked through 3 managers last year. However, the team finished the campaign strongly under Dean Smith’s stewardship, after the former Walsall boss had struggled on first arrival. The Championship is surely the most unpredictable league around, where any team can beat anyone and by any margin. To win promotion you have to possess a deep squad and be extremely strong mentally. Newcastle United, with Rafael Benitez as their manager, start the season as the favourites for promotion, with Aston Villa also fancied by some despite the turmoil of their last campaign. The league appears pretty open, though.
A crucial factor in how Brentford will fare is the fitness of striker Scott Hogan. The former Rochdale man joined the club 2 years ago but had to wait until the back end of last season to make his breakthrough, due to horrific injury problems. When he did get his chance, though, he took it, finishing the season in tremendous fettle. For large parts of last season, the Bees lacked a prolific goal scorer and he provided that – playing a huge part in the club’s late-season surge up the table. He has suffered inju
ry troubles again in pre-season, but should be back for the opening game against Huddersfield.
It will also be interesting to see how new man Romaine Sawyers gets on, having shown glimpses of real class at Walsall. His former manager, Dean Smith, will know all about him and his strengths, so no relationship needs to be developed there. Sawyers should add a much-needed creative spark to the side – with his flair, vision, and tricks.
To summarise, fans are unsure about what to expect this season. The sales of Button and Bidwell have been a cause for concern but there are also positive shoots. Pre-season has been mixed but as we all know; those results count for very little when the whistle first blows on the opening day. The lack of outstanding candidates for promotion in the division means that if Brentford can get their act together, then there could be a genuine chance of promotion. Right now, though, it looks like a bit of an ask. The proof will be in the pudding…