17 September ~ Until the 91st minute of Tuesday's game, Uwe Rösler's Brentford were set to go top of League One. Although Anthony Wordsworth's equaliser for ten-man Colchester United then sent the Bees plummeting to fifth place, it didn't completely take the shine off an excellent performance with the sort of flowing football that, frankly, hasn't been too commonplace at Griffin Park over the last few decades.
Rösler's arrival and the money made available by benefactor Matthew Benham have raised expectations and the squad has been strengthened by a combination of shrewd signings and loan deals. It's impressive that not a penny has been paid in transfer fees, but it has also been made clear that the money is available to reinforce where necessary.
Following a number of unfortunate early season injuries, Mike Grella from Leeds, Miguel Llera from Blackpool and Sunderland's England Under-20 international Blair Adams arrived to strengthen the squad. The missing link could be a forward with pace to accompany the excellent Clayton Donaldson up front. When everyone is fit, Rösler's main problem may be keeping good League One standard players happy at the club when they're not playing.
The first eight matches have produced an encouraging haul of 16 points and although away performances have not been as fluent as some of those at Griffin Park, three consecutive wins on the road have demonstrated a steely side to the team. Rosler has impressed with his calm and honest appraisals of performances – a welcome change from the evasion and self-justification of some previous managers.
He has shown tactical flexibility as well. With at least two players fighting for each position, a pattern seems to be emerging where a 4-3-3/4-5-1 is used away compared to a more expansive style at home. Of course Rösler is still learning. There were some ill-advised substitutions at half-time at Sheffield United and a performance at home to Tranmere that resembled some of the worst of last season, with the manager seemingly unable to change things from the touchline.
Of course, it is still early days and Brentford have had a fairly gentle introduction to the season, having only played (and lost to) Sheffield United and Tranmere from the top half of the table. So today's meeting with Preston, who are only three points behind Brentford and have played two games fewer, assumes added significance. I'd like to think that, along with a good turnout from the north-west, a number of lapsed Bees fans might find their way along to Griffin Park to give Rösler and the players the encouragement they deserve. Chris Dean