SPY IN THE CAMP: Inconsistency is the biggest threat to Brentford's promotion hopes
Griffin Park regular ANDREW HICKLEY, raised a Chelsea fan, but who switched alliances to Brentford seven years ago, assesses the Bees' promotion push for the Scunthorpe Telegraph.
It’s become quite congested at the top of League One in the past few weeks. What’s your gut feeling for the Bees this season – automatic promotion, play-offs or missing out on the top six?
A few weeks ago I genuinely thought this would be our year, but our form has dipped lately and there are so many teams up there that are in with a chance.
We had such a good run during the middle of the season – beaten once in 17 matches in all competitions, while playing the best football in the league – that it would be criminal to miss out on the play-offs.
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Given our games in hand we really should be there or thereabouts come the end of the season, but my gut instinct is the play-off lottery.
What’s the biggest thing likely to hold them back when it comes to finishing as high as possible?
Consistency. In November we followed winning at Swindon with a home victory against Sheffield United.
However, recently we’ve drawn against Walsall, Bury and Leyton Orient at Griffin Park – teams we really should be beating.
Goals haven’t been hard to come by, but we still have a tendency to concede needless goals from set pieces and long balls.
Two wins in seven matches suggests they’ve started to stutter a bit. Do performances reflect their results during February?
Yes and no. Performances in the league haven’t been good enough over the past month, but bear in mind that during that run we were five minutes away from knocking holders Chelsea out of the FA Cup.
Having missed out on the chance to go top when our game against Stevenage was postponed just before Christmas, we’ve now fallen four points behind Doncaster Rovers.
We have a game in hand, but we’ve dropped points against mid-table clubs and been beaten by our top-of-the-table rivals Tranmere and Yeovil since the turn of the year.
This is all a bit negative, but on our day we spray the ball around on the ground better than anyone in this league.
The fact they’ve only lost five games suggests Brentford are difficult to beat. Given they’ve drawn 12 matches though, have they got the ability to win enough matches?
We seem to have a tendency of shooting ourselves in the foot.
Strikers like Clayton Donaldson and Marcello Trotta know exactly where the back of the net is, midfield starlet Forrester has been linked with the Premier League and we have a good young defence.
However, we don’t always connect all these dots when it really matters, particularly in terms of seeing out a lead.
Uwe Rosler has made a success of his first managerial job in England. Is there a fear he’ll move on if the Bees don’t go up?
Uwe has been a refreshing change after a series of managers focused on long ball tactics and shunned flair players in favour of brutes.
He probably made a few mistakes last season in terms of rotation but his passing style has become very popular with fans and the players seem to love him.
I would be surprised if someone came in for him if we don’t get promoted; for all the positives he has been given funds to spend and he has phased some well-liked players out of the team for pastures new.
More of a worry is the future of our most creative lynchpin Harry Forrester, who turned down a deal at Ajax to join us in 2011.
If we don’t go up he will almost certainly leave on a free at the end of the season and we don’t have an understudy ready to step in and fill his place.
The loan capture of Bradley Wright-Phillips looks to be a good one. With Clayton Donaldson and Marcello Trotta, though, do the Bees really need him?
There aren’t really any areas of the squad where we need a noticeable improvement, so it can’t hurt to add a bit of strength in depth.
‘Donaldinho’ and Trotta have been banging in the goals, so Wright-Phillips won’t just walk into the team, but ultimately goals win games and it can’t harm to have an extra option.
He has always struck me as a player too good for League One, so it speaks volumes about our quality up front that we aren’t partying in the street at his arrival.
Wright-Phillips’ arrival adds to what already looks like a strong set of striking options, how has former Iron front man Paul Hayes done since making the move to Griffin Park?
Hayes has really struggled to win over the fans since arriving in the summer.
He was brought in as a back-up player behind Farid El Alagui, who was signed from the SPL and had a bright start before rupturing his cruciate ligament, putting him out for the year.
Hayes then got a run in the team but didn’t score until the end of October, and hasn’t seen much action since the arrival of Trotta on loan. With the arrival of Wright-Phillips, he will have little more than a bit-part role for the rest of the campaign.
Plans are afoot to open a new 15,000 capacity stadium in 2016. How key is the move for the club’s future?
As with a number of clubs at this level, a new stadium will only really pay dividends if it comes hand-in-hand with promotion to attract additional fans into the thing.
I am originally from a village near Colchester and they are still getting the same numbers at their new ground, are paying double for tickets and are now battling relegation.
However, Griffin Park only holds 12,000 and would look a little jaded if we were to become a Championship club.
Encouragingly, the club have committed to having a safe standing section in any new stadium, keeping up the
incredibly popular terracing which helps ensure Griffin Park has one of the best atmospheres in the country.
More important will be the continued support of chairman Matthew Benham, who has pumped millions into the club.
The new stadium comes in tandem with moves to build up our youth academy, with long-term sustainability the name of the game.
Where will Saturday’s game be won or lost?
Whoever wins the midfield battle will dictate how the game is played.
If Brentford can keep the ball down then Forrester and loanee Tom Adeyemi have the ability to get forward and create chances.
If it is a scrappier game then the power and determination of fans’ favourite Jonathan Douglas will be crucial to breaking down the ball and allowing the Bees to play.
Up top Donaldson has remembered how to finish this season after an average maiden year at the club, and Trotta evokes a similar class at his age to another of our previous loanees, Wojciech Szczesny.