Tuesday 9 July 2019, and it's a fantastic morning to wake up here in the Austrian Tyrol. Apart from a multitude of other reasons, such as it being the start of another day working with and alongside my heroes, later today I will have the pleasure of welcoming into the Family that is Brentford Football Club, another member and one that has put various supporters forums up and down the country (well London and Yorkshire to be precise) in meltdown.
It is fair to say that the arrival of Swedish international Pontus Jansson, allied to the previous signings of Christian Norgaard, Ethan Pinnock and David Raya, is a huge statement of intent from our Club under the incredible vision and stewardship of Matthew Benham.
It is one that even members of the existing squad have heralded as the catalyst for a very exciting and memorable season ahead. That is not to say that everything will run exactly as we would wish, but given where we were some six years ago, we have every reason and justification to live the dream and get very excited about our last season at Griffin Park.
With all due respect to the many players who have graced the red and white striped shirts since, the last player to have had such an impact (albeit before the days of social media) was the signing of Hermann Hreidarsson, another Nordic player, back in 1998. A year later he had been instrumental in us winning the Third Division Championship.
To quote The Pointer Sisters - “I’m so excited”.
However back, momentarily, to today’s exertions following breakfast. Late last evening we were pleased to see the arrival of Nicolas Jover, our set piece coach, who, due to personal circumstances, was unable to fly out with the main group on Saturday. Pre breakfast this morning he was already working with the Analysis Team in respect of the week thus far, and as a result organised a set piece group of players who made their way to the Training Ground, together with Inaki and the three keepers, ahead of the rest of the group.
The set piece session having finished, and the keepers having been put through an exhaustive warm up stint, the whole group were then “handed” over to Thomas, Brian and Kevin.
No two training days follow the same pattern, albeit they do include small sided games each time as well as a session I call “twenty second runs”. They involve a number of different aspects, including shooting, blocking, heading and sprinting all within 20 seconds. It tends to wear me out just watching it but I am in total awe of the players stamina.
The small sided games consist of the group being split into three, and they each play each other....and not just one game either. The players contest every ball and every situation as if there were points at stake. Once again VAR was sought by some as there was some dispute over the ruling out of a goal for offside. But today those responsible for the VAR (the Analysis Team) just couldn’t be bothered! Today’s sessions lasted about two hours before hotfooting it back to the Hotel for lunch.
The afternoon consisted of Clinic and Gym with the players directed to one or t’other in equal measures.
I was asked by Thomas to meet him in Reception at 3.45 so that we could meet our latest signing, Pontus Jansson. Now there are times when I think I’m a bit of a fraud in being paid for what I do. Yet here I was, in Austria, awaiting the arrival of someone who many a Bees fan would give anything to meet on a one to one basis. Yet I had been asked to do it. What a chore!!!!! I know exactly how every Bees fan felt on hearing that the deal had been completed, and share the same excitement at the prospect of what this transfer window has given us.
First impressions ..... he’ll do me! Tall, strong, polite and eager to get going. He is rooming with Henrik Dalsgaard, so two quality players as well as two quality people. I am very much looking forward, as he is, to his first training session with the rest of the lads.
That apart, dinner was slightly earlier as the players and staff are on the receiving end of one of my quizzes, comprising five topics: Geography, Football, Sport in 2019, Entertainment and “Next in Line”.
But prior to the Quiz two more names were pulled out of the hat with the “lucky” twosome entertaining us, and once again the diners in the adjoining restaurant. First up was Jan Zamburek who gave us his version of Bruno Mars “Billionaire”. I’d like to tell you it was word perfect and hit every note spot on, but I’d be lying. Not that he didn’t do ok, its just that I have no idea of the words or tune. So who am I to judge.
Next up was Cole Dasilva with Drake’s number 1 hit “One Dance”. On hearing Cole's interpretation of it, I have to say it was an improvement on Drake’s last single back in 1961 - “My Boomerang Won’t Come Back”, which got to number 14 in the UK charts.
After all that excitement and entertainment, it was time for the Quiz. The four teams which Kevin had organised a couple of days ago were split down into eight teams, two from each group.
All the teams performed well but the overall winners, just three points clear of the runners up were Team B comprising Patrick Gunnarsson, Canice Carroll, Henrik Dalsgaard, Sergi Canos, Romaine Sawyers, Justin Shaibu, Christian Norgaard, Matt King, Luke Stopforth and Neil Greig.
And that brought to a close a special day for this particular Bees fan. Isn’t it wonderful being a Brentford supporter!