Two quickfire Swansea City goals condemned Hull City to defeat on the opening day, but The Tigers bounced back against Reading in a Jarrod Bowen-inspired 2-1 win. What have you made of the opening weeks of the season?
I think they’ve had a good start and the win against Reading was big. Against Swansea they dominated the first half and then chucked it away with a mad five minutes in the second. I think the new system that Grant McCann is trialling, a 4-3-3 where they press really high, looks like it could work for them, but it’s going to take a bit of time for them to get to their absolute best. It seems to be a suitable system and there have been promising signs so far.
New Tigers boss Grant McCann led Doncaster Rovers to the League One Play-Offs last term, where they pushed eventual winners Charlton Athletic all the way in the Semi-Final. Is there a feeling that he can instil a similar winning mentality at the KCOM?
Well he’s already said that he wants to target the Play-Offs. Not many people agree that it’s a realistic aim, but that’s what him and the players are going for. It does seem like a wide-open division this year, so given the fact they were closer to the Play-Offs than they expected last year, who would necessarily bet against it this time around?
They are going to have to find some consistency from their defenders, because it’s quite a young group at the back and not the most experienced in the Championship. They are also going to need somebody up front who can play as that number nine and be a regular source of goals. Jarrod Bowen is a proven scorer in the division and Kamil Grosicki can chip in with the odd goal, but whether it’s Josh Magennis, who has just come in from Bolton Wanderers, or whether it’s Tom Eaves or Nouha Dicko, the latter of whom has been given another chance with Hull City, they need one of those three to have a good year.
In the grand scheme of things, it seems as though the club’s transfer business has been somewhat overlooked in the media this summer, but Hull’s recruitment has undoubtedly been impressive. Would you agree?
The parachute payments are gone and they’ve had to cut their costs accordingly. They’ve had to take a chance on players from lower down: Tom Eaves has come in after scoring about 40 goals for Gillingham in two years and they’ve signed George Honeyman for £400k, which is good value for someone who has played a lot of football for Sunderland and even captained the club. I think it’s about the quantity of players, too. Last summer, they did all of their business right at the end of the transfer window and had a bad start, so this year they signed a large number of players in the summer and then four more on Deadline Day. They’ve actually done quite a bit of business and I think it’s been surprisingly positive at the club that they have been able to do that business, now it’s just a case of whether they can fill some holes. They’ve lost experienced players like David Marshall and Fraizer Campbell, while Markus Henriksen is eventually going to move during this window. Having lost some of that experience, can some of the younger players fill in the gaps?
It probably couldn’t be clearer, but which player should Brentford fans be most wary of this weekend?
Obviously the two names are Bowen and Grosicki. Bowen has scored a lot of goals, but Grosicki is a player who is equally threatening; he’s got pace, runs at players and, on his day, can be a match-winner. The two of them combined, especially in this new system, really puts a lot of responsibility on them to be the attacking force, so it’s without question that they are the two players to keep an eye out for. Kevin Stewart has had a really good start to the season in midfield and so has Dan Batty, so there’s more than just those two.
How are Hull likely to set up at Griffin Park?
They use a 4-3-3 and they’ll press from midfield; you’ll see the three in the middle really pushing on. Whether McCann makes some changes or not, I’m not sure. Stewart has had a good start in midfield, I’d be surprised if Batty is not in there as well as Jackson Irvine, because the three of them have had a really good start. Grosicki and Bowen will feature out wide, with Tom Eaves playing as the number nine as he’s been brought in to play that role. At the back, you’ve got Eric Lichaj who’ll play in one of the full-back spots, Jordy De Wijs, Reece Burke and then the other full-back is a question mark. They signed Callum Elder from Leicester City and you’d imagine he would come in as Stephen Kingsley has had a rough start at left-back, so that’s an area they might look to change. George Long will be the ‘keeper.
What’s your score prediction for Saturday’s game?
The last couple of times these two have played I’ve gone for a Brentford win and I was right on both occasions! But I think this one might end in a draw, so I’ll call 1-1.
We are back at Griffin Park on Saturday to face Hull City and expect lots of Bees families in and around the ground on the day. Kids tickets are only £1 and Adults just £20 so book yours now.