Y2-Q1 - Overseas Tours = 2
Y2-Q1 - Category 1 Equivalent Games = 7
Overall - Overseas Tours = 6
Overall - Category 1 Equivalent Games = 33
Quarter 1 provided several different types of challenges for our B Team players. Brentford B competed against elite opposition overseas, such as Benfica, Hertha Berlin and Legia Warsaw, elite opposition domestically, in the shape of Chelsea, Everton, Southampton and Bournemouth plus fixtures against First Teams such as Luton Town, ETO Gyor and Dulwich Hamlet.
The flexibility within our model allows us the opportunity to create different scenarios within our games programme. Those scenarios are designed to challenge the players mentally and physically: an example of which would be the one day recovery between the Legia Warsaw and Herth Berlin games to reduce the recovery/preparation time and expose them to situations that are frequent at First Team level.
The most pleasing aspect of the games programme has been our ability to compete against teams at the highest level. There is still progress to be made within implementing our style of play and it’s something Kevin O'Connor and his staff will be working on throughout the next Quarter in more detail.
Y2-Q1 - Brentford B Player training with First Team = 187 sessions
Y2-Q1 - First Team Debuts = 2
Overall - Brentford B Player training with First Team = 596 sessions
Overall – First Team Debuts = 7
The main reason for switching to this model was to establish a stronger pathway to the First Team for young players within this Football Club. The data collected at the end of this quarter compared to this time last year is significantly better. There have been 119 more opportunities this year which highlights the strength of collaboration between First Team and B Team. Credit should be given to both Dean Smith and Kevin for driving this part of the strategy and concentrating on the bigger picture despite their intense schedules.
It was excellent to see Chris Mepham graduate to the First Team so quickly into Year 2. I am certain that his story and the data above will provide inspiration to current and potential B Team players that the opportunities are there if you provide the right level of application daily.
The objective for this model is to establish a succession of First Team regulars. We aren’t there yet but we have made significant progress in this strand aligned to the Three-Year Business Plan and gradually we are becoming more optimistic of achieving this objective.
We recently advertised for a Brentford B Assistant Coach role but, after reviewing the candidates, our infrastructure and key processes within the B Team Model, we have decided to withdraw the advert and instead seek to employ an Individual Development Coach to work with both current players and graduates.
The position itself is quite unique within British football. It’s far more popular within Scandinavian football plus various other team sports and learning environments. The Individual Development Coach will be responsible for overseeing the Player Development Strategy for B Team players and graduates. He or She will be responsible for creating, delivering, and reviewing the process for their football development aligned to the Football Club's style of play.
You often read about the best athletes in the world practising individual skills daily, examples being Steph Curry (Basketball), Jonny Wilkinson (Rugby) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Football). Adding an Individual Development Coach will not only provide more structure to the individual development of the players but also help strengthen the culture at the club. We want players with a growth mindset at this Football Club and it is absolutely essential that any young player is willing to work hard every day to improve themselves.
It’s really pleasing to see how quickly the new players have settled in and adapted to life at Brentford. They have all contributed towards the development of the team and to the development of others, which is exactly what we ask from all players who join the Football Club.
There is a lot of potential within these players but also a lot of development required to achieve that potential. The most pleasing part for Kevin and his Technical Staff is that all five new players have a growth mind-set and are keen to improve and develop themselves. We are looking to recruit a few players over the coming months, with particular focus on younger players and an emphasis on longer-term succession planning.
Quarter 2 Preview
This quarter takes us up to the New Year and is not as intense as the others due to the two international breaks coming up. We have exciting fixtures organised against Rangers, Manchester City, Bournemouth, and Fulham plus an overseas tour at the beginning of November which will expose the players to challenging situations against elite opposition.
We are looking forward to opening the quarter against Rangers Football Club on Sunday. It’s been well documented that Rangers have implemented the games programme strand of the B Team Model within their Academy strategy this year. This fixture allows us the opportunity to share experiences and learn from one another. We have also agreed a return fixture at Ibrox Stadium in the New Year which should provide an excellent experience for our players and, hopefully, be of interest to Bees supporters as well.
Finally, we are close to confirming a Brentford Lifeline Society Exhibition Match. This match will be held at Griffin Park against elite opponent from overseas. As well as being another great opportunity for the players it will also serve to highlight the support that the Lifeline Society has provided to the Football Club over the last 32 years.