New head coach Lee Carsley hasn’t yet had an impact on poor performances
16 October ~ When Brentford supporters looked at the fixture list at the start of the season, few would have expected Saturday’s home game against Rotherham to have been much more than a run of the mill encounter. However, such has been Brentford’s shambolic start to the season that, rather than looking to improve on last season’s fifth-place finish, fans are anxiously trying to identify three teams that they think might finish below them.
Four players from last season’s successful squad were sold shortly before the start of the season. Jonathan Douglas went to Ipswich and Stuart Dallas, with the promise of a regular starting place and a big increase in wages, went to Leeds. Hull triggered Moses Odubajo’s buy-out clause and the long-running Andre Gray transfer saga finally ended with his move to Burnley.
The fee of up to £9 million for Gray was impossible to refuse for a player who had cost just £500,000 12 months earlier and it also ensured that Brentford would stay within Financial Fair Play guidelines. Their European replacements such as Lasse Vibe, Philipp Hofmann and Konstantin Kerschbaumer have so far found it difficult to adjust to the pace and intensity of Championship football.
On top of this, the club have had to cope with a scarcely believable run of bad luck with injuries. Ten players are currently incapacitated, five of them with long-term injuries including record signing Andreas Bjelland who will not play until next season.
During the summer the Griffin Park pitch was re-laid and during the first pre-season friendly it became apparent that the surface would be unfit and indeed dangerous to play on. This led to the embarrassment of having to postpone the home game with Birmingham and could have been responsible for Bjelland’s injury in the League Cup defeat to Oxford.
So new head coach Marinus Dijkhuizen, already facing the unenviable task of following Mark Warburton’s success, did not have the most fortuitous start to his time at the club. Given that, it was a surprise when he was dismissed after just eight league games. The club let it be known that, even before the season started, they realised they had made a mistake in appointing Dijkhuizen from what they had observed at the training ground. Early performances suggested a worrying fall in fitness and sharpness compared to last season and rumours of player unrest began to circulate.
However, Dijkhuizen’s replacement Lee Carsley hasn’t provided the customary "new manager bounce" and worryingly, the performances in the defeats to Birmingham and Derby were worse than anything produced under Dijkhuizen. Carsley didn’t help his case by stating in a post-match interview that he didn’t really want the job anyway.
Last week’s international break was very welcome and hopefully Carsley and the squad will have had time to regroup. However, it is with some trepidation that they face a Rotherham team who have had impressive recent wins against Cardiff and Birmingham and with a new manager of their own in Neil Redfearn. Chris Dean