Defender looks back on his first season with The Bees and his growing defensive partnership
Yoann Barbet feels that he can look back on his first season in English football with pride after establishing himself at the heart of Brentford’s defence in the final few months of the season. Following his summer move from French Ligue 2 side Chamois Niortais, Yoann found appearances hard to come by in 2015. However, a new year, and a new Head Coach in Dean Smith, brought about a change for the 23-year-old who became a key part of The Bees backline alongside Harlee Dean.
Speaking to Bees Player at the Player of the Year dinner earlier this month, Yoann said he had learned a lot about his game partnering Harlee and felt that the two had brought the best out of each other: “I had a tough four months at the start of the season where I played only two games. It wasn’t easy for me because I played all the games last season. After James Tarkowski left for Burnley the gaffer gave me the opportunity to play so I tried to do my best. I thought that I did well and I think the partnership with Harlee Dean was really good. Our partnership is getting better. We are confident and help each other. Maybe Harlee is stronger than me in the air and I am maybe better with my feet. We complement each other and have a good relationship off the pitch as well. I have improved a lot next to him and it was good for me to play next to him. It was really good for me to play those games and to get confidence. In my first season I started 18 games so I am happy.”
As well as having Harlee to help him to adjust to English football, Yoann also has Head Coach Dean Smith, himself a defender with more than 650 professional appearances, getting him used to life in the Sky Bet Championship. Yoann has been impressed with what he has seen of Dean and his assistant, Richard O’Kelly, so far and feels that Dean’s experience can only be of a benefit to him.
“I didn’t play a lot under the last Head Coach so it was difficult,” said Yoann. “I read in the paper that Dean said he was really impressed by me and that made me feel stronger and more confident. He gave me the opportunity to play so I tried to do my best. Dean and Richard O’Kelly speak with the players and they know what we like, and don’t like, and what we need to improve. It is good for me because he played centre-back and scored a lot of goals so it is easier for me to have a gaffer who was a defender.”
Yoann played in the local derbies against Queens Park Rangers and Fulham in March and April and scored his first Bees goal in the 2-1 home defeat to London rivals Charlton Athletic back in March. The defender believed nothing could have prepared him for the atmosphere’s at those matches, adding that the support of the fans over the season was a big help in the team securing a ninth placed finish.
“The atmosphere here is unbelievable,” said Yoann. “I was on the bench for the first game against Ipswich Town and we scored two goals in the last four minutes. It was crazy. When you hear the fans, home and away, singing for you, you want to give something back. The key to us finishing ninth was that the fans were behind us every game and I am really looking forward to next season. My first goal against Charlton Athletic stands out for me and the big win against Fulham was so good. The atmosphere was really good as it was the last game at home in the season.”