As Brentford fans we should be used to a little turmoil. As a club we have gone through just about every battle it is possible to fight. From near extinction to key assets sold of at key times. Blimey, we’ve even had players pimping out their wives! We have literally seen it all, so when the announcement came last year that one of our most successful managers in our history and quite possibly the most well loved was leaving, it should have come as no surprise. Except it did, Matthew Benham had brought with him a rather astonishing sense of calm and success, progress and perseverance. So when the decision was taken to part ways, it took many of us “battle worn” Brentford fans with more surprise than it should have done.
However, the club then set upon a path of restructuring and full on philosophy implementation. A huge increase in staff and a new Head Coach arrived. Marinus Dijkhuizen was the gamble that could lead to a huge payday but it was apparent to most that things were not going to plan. To us fans, a lot of the poor results could be offset against a truly horrendous injury list but those in the corridors of power at Brentford saw something far more ominous. Dijkhuizen was getting things wrong and to them, wasn’t the man they thought they were getting.
Cue Lee Carsley and Paul Williams. For a man who has been at the club just under a year before being appointed Head Coach on an interim basis, Lee summed up what Brentford are about. We will always think of Lee fondly after he leaves, he has rescued our season and has given the team back their belief. It is no easy thing to recover a players confidence, yet by going back to basics, Carsley with the help of Paul Williams has done just that. Looking at things objectively there has been no miracle formula, no genius tactics or mind games by Carsley. He has put round pegs in round holes, shown belief in those that deserve it and removed those in the firing line that needed to be.
Carsley and Williams were on a hiding to nothing going into the Birmingham game. With little or no time to work with the players, he faced a good Birmingham side and an away trip to Derby, who have just embarked on a winning run that has taken them to the top of the Championship. Two defeats and a seriously worried fan base must have been a daunting task but clearly their honesty coupled with an ability to communicate properly with the players has seen the kind of progress that looked a million miles away. Alan Judge had already taken on the role of talisman but Carsley has helped him to another level. Woods has been properly integrated and many of us view him as a crucial component moving forward already. Diagouraga has rediscovered his form, Harlee Dean has been imperious and the rise of Yennaris is pleasing.
All of this on a backdrop of more injuries with none of the previous players returning. As in interim Head Coach surely it must have been tempting to rush players back to help the cause. Both men have obviously been able to detach themselves from worrying about their own success as they have ensured that players make steady progress and return slowly, emphasising the point that players should be match fit before joining the first team, not using Championship matches to get up to speed.
Carsley even epitomises Brentford with his handling of the media. The club makes a hash of it frequently too! Lee is always honest in his press conferences and I can picture Ankersen and Giles sitting in the board room with their hands over their ears whist Lee talks to the press after the Birmingham game. Lee made it clear that he didn’t want the job and when he told the press that, I was one of those that rolled my eyes and muttered “well why bloody give him it then” but in truth the Co-Directors of Football got it right. Carsley and Williams have not just won football matches. That may have been enough to appease us fans anyway but he has seemingly steadied the ship and united the dressing room. Only time will tell if the new man can maintain this but one thing is for sure, thanks to Carsley and Williams he now has the best possible opportunity to do so.
I am deeply dissappinted that Lee is not staying with us. It would appear as if that decision has been made by Lee but I’m not certain on that. If so, then I sincerely hope he goes on to be a hugely successful coach elsewhere. He may have only been in charge for ten games but without him we could well have been facing a relegation battle. It is pleasing to hear that Paul Williams is staying with us and will revert back to his previous job. I suspect his job is one that it is a bit easier to return to than it would have been for Lee but it would have been great for Them both to have stayed with us.
I think it is obvious that should Lee Carsley decide in the future to go into management then he will be a great success. He obviously knows the game inside out and to win matches at this level you have to have tactical nouse about you but simply being able to talk to players and earn their trust will be his big asset. There will be a lot of players willing to run through brick walls for him and that’s the kind of skill that money can’t buy.
Clearly Paul Williams has complemented Carsley well. Again he is someone that the players have respect for. The fact he is staying at the club is a big win for us. It is great to have proper football people around and he is one of them. Again, he may well go on to be a manager in his own right or take up a number 2 role somewhere but I hope we can keep hold of him for as long as possible.
So I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Lee Carsley and Paul Williams. After just a handful of games in charge us fans were able to say “we’ve got our Brentford back” that was thanks to you. I hope you go on to be successful wherever you end up (as long as it’s not QPR or Fulham).
Up the Bees