They carried on where they left off after last season’s record-breaking number of home defeats, by losing to a late goal against Newport on the opening day. I travelled to Bradford (played alright, no goal threat, lost in the eighth minute of injury time) and then all the way to Bristol on a Tuesday night to watch an absolute shambles of a performance. The pasties were great, though. Then they lost to Colchester at home, before scraping a late win against Sutton Utd in their first-ever EFL home game. They followed that up with a 3-0 hammering by Barrow. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just a bad start to this season, but they’ve lost the opening three games for the last three consecutive seasons.
There have been several protests recently, with tennis balls having been thrown on to the pitch during a game against Accrington in the Carabao Cup and fans sitting in the centre circle against Barrow. Could you provide some insight into why the supporters are doing this?
I teed myself up for this question because, to be honest, it’s all we talk about on the Boundary Park Alert System podcast. They were relegated under the new-ish owner, Abdallah Lemsagam, in his first season in charge, after 21 years in League One. John Sheridan was sacked early in the season, before they officially took over. Richie Wellens initially did really well, until Mr. Lemsagam officially took over in January 2018 when results went south and they were relegated at Northampton on the last day. Since then, they’ve had Frankie Bunn, Paul Scholes, Pete Wild (twice), Lauren Banide, Dino Maarmira, Harry Kewell and Keith Curle.
“Wow, that’s a lot of head coaches since 2018!”, I hear your readers exclaim, and they’re absolutely correct, it is! “But surely they can’t all have been terrible?!”, I hear them follow up, and, I say, no, you are correct! The person overseeing the hiring and firing of First Team coaches and “helping” them with recruitment over this period was Sporting Director, Mr. Mohamed Lemsagam. “Lemsagam?” Your readers have already spotted the connection and yes, the Sporting Director is none other than the owner's older brother, Mohamed. Frustration among fans is at fever pitch, as it appears that Mo is above any blame for us being 91st in the entire Football League and in serious danger of losing Football League status for the first time in our history.
When you add into the time frame; 65 players signed and 105 players used, League Two finishes of 14th, 19th and 18th, three CEO’s, employment tribunals, closing a new stand to supporters, David Wheater expelled to the youth team, late payment of wages, court appearances, ex-employees banned from the stadium and a fan group’s 3,000-strong petition to sell the club completely ignored (to name a few)... You’re going to end up with tennis balls on the pitch and bums in the centre circle.
The Carabao Cup is, in fact, where they have had the most success so far, having reached the Third Round after two successive penalty shootout wins. Has that been a welcome distraction from everything else, at all?
Ironically, the first pitch invasion of the season came after the penalty shootout victory against Tranmere. That one was, I feel, partly ironic and partly an outpouring of joy by some of the younger fans, who hadn’t seen them win a game at Boundary Park for a long time. I wouldn’t say it is a particularly welcome distraction, to be honest. It was a distraction from promotion when they got to the Final against Forest in 1990. They beat champions Arsenal on the way to the Final in an absolutely thrilling campaign, which ended in FA Cup Semi-Final reply defeat to Man Utd and us finishing outside the Play-Offs. That year, they were genuinely good enough to win all three competitions, but this year, their Football League survival is the be-all and end-all.
Which player should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on?
The star man last season was definitely Dylan Bahamboula (above). He can be very quiet and then BAM, he’s gone and done something magic! He’s definitely the danger man for Oldham and can really be a joy to watch. Having said that, the one to watch, for me, is young Harry Vaughan. Harry is only 17, he’s still small in stature, but he’s one of those ‘natural’ footballers; a low centre of gravity, turns on a sixpence and you can see how much he loves playing the game.
How is Keith Curle likely to set up his side in West London?
He loves to play three at the back and have the wing-backs push on. Personally, I don’t think they have the personnel for that and think they look more solid with four across the back. Injuries may dictate what he does, there are quite a few stacking up, but given the choice, he’d probably go 3-5-2.
The last time the two sides met was in March 2014, when they drew 0-0 at Boundary Park. What’s your score prediction for this one?
A lot has changed since then! I’d be amazed if they won, if they do it’ll likely be on penalties after holding on for dear life and scraping a draw. I’m rubbish at predictions, but I’ll go 3-1 Brentford.
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