Gameday Opinion

The Opposition’s View: Aston Villa v Brentford

We spoke to Brentford fan Luke about Brentford’s great start to the season, their footballing model and tonight’s game.
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand)

Wednesday’s game against Brentford is the first part of a duet of home games. Here’s a fact for you; Aston Villa haven’t beaten the Bee’s this century, to find the last time we did you have to go back to 1953. Brentford fan Luke Furber (@beeLJF), a 30-year-old teacher from Berkshire, will be hoping recent history repeats itself.

What are your expectations for Brentford going into the season?

I went with 6th before the season started – so I’ll stick to that for now. Overall I have been very impressed with the football Brentford have played in the opening three games. More so than I can ever remember. To the point that I am trying not to get too carried away with it all as I write this. We annihilated Rotherham 5-1 on the opening game. I can honestly say we should have won against Stoke away- but it ended 1-1 (they Stoked us). Then we comfortably beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 without ever really having to get out of third gear. It doesn’t feel natural to write about Brentford with such confidence at this level. However, with the performances and results so far this season it is hard to do anything otherwise…

How would you rate your pre-season out of 10 and why?

I have never really been one to read too much into pre-season friendlies. The main plus is that we got through it with pretty much the whole squad fit and ready to go. The only casualty being Emiliano Marcondes (back soon), who frustratingly was probably our best pre-season performer.

Are you happy with Dean Smith’s transfer business so far this summer?

First of all, Dean Smith isn’t really too much to do with our player recruitment. In Brentford’s model that responsibility falls mainly to Rasmus Ankersen and Phil Giles- our Co-Directors of Football. It has to be said they both do an absolutely fantastic job.  They came under a lot of criticism in the early days but year after year they replace our key players (who are usually sold!) with potentially better players. Somehow.

2015/16

  • S.Dallas sold £1.3m (bought nom. fee)
  • M.Odubajo sold £3.5m (bought £1m)
  • A.Gray sold £9m (bought £500k)
  • J.Tarkowski sold £3m (bought nom. fee)

2016/17

  • J.Bidwell sold £2.5m (bought nom. fee)*
  • D.Button sold £2m (bought nom. fee)*
  • S.Hogan sold £12m (bought £750k)*

2017/18

  • H.Dean sold £3m (bought nom. fee)*
  • M.Colin sold £3m (bought £1.2m)*
  • Jota sold £7m (bought £1.2m)*
  • L.Vibe sold £3m (bought £1.3m)*

2018/19

  • J.Egan sold £4m (bought nom. fee)*
  • F.Josefzoon sold £3.5m (bought £1m)*

*rumoured transfer fee as undisclosed

This season we have bought well again. Ezri Konsa from Charlton for £2.5m who is an England U21 centre back. Julian Jeanvier, a French Ligue 2 Team of the Year centre back from Reims for £1.8m. Said Benrahma a winger from Nice (who looks awesome!) for £1.5m. Another notable signing is the return of injury-ridden Moses Odubajo on a free (1 year contract) after previously selling him to Hull for £3.5m.

Which Bees players should Villa be wary of?

In attack, Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins are currently a real threat. Both have scored 3 goals in 3 league games so far. Neal is a small and aggressive striker who holds play up well and seems to get in the right positions frequently. Ollie is a bit of a specimen. He plays on the left wing but can play up front, and drifts there frequently. He is quick AND strong plus he can use both feet. He makes a lot of supporting runs for the striker. He is a direct dribbler and loves to cut in and have a crack at goal. We love him and I can see us getting a sizeable transfer fee for him one day!

Ryan Woods is another I’d mention who is very easy-on-the-eye in midfield, but he isn’t even making the starting 11 currently.

You’ve had an excellent start to the league campaign unlike last season, what do you put that down to?

I feel like we have been building towards this for 4 or 5 years now. Last season we had an abysmal start (as you mentioned) and had to play-catch up which ultimately cost us play-offs in my opinion. Finally, we have started well so it is very exciting to see where it takes us. I would put early success this year down to us sticking to the way we play but adding some bite in defence (where we have been weaker over the years on and off). Chris Mepham is a stand out at the back. 20 years old, Welsh international, recently had offers rejected in the region of £15m… he is going to be a future star I’d hope.

We play an attractive attacking brand of football home and away and it has been a pleasure to watch since Matthew Benham bought the club and started changing things years ago. He has transformed the club beyond recognition.

Are you for or against the club’s new stadium?

I’m in two minds.

On the one hand, I’ve grown up watching my ‘terrible’ club play at a terrible ‘tin-pot’ stadium. Some of the football has been woeful down the years and I remember teams like Rochdale and Tranmere coming to Griffin Park and giving us a good hiding as a young boy in front of crowds of 2 to 3 thousand. I love the small compact crowds right on top of the pitch. I love the look of corrugated iron shelter over-head. I even savour taking a piss in the diabolical facilities nowadays as I know it’s all over soon! The whole place has a certain charm to me. One I cannot fully describe as it is more of a feeling. I have been going regularly since I was a boy, I am a fourth generation fan, and I would happily be going if we were still that bad.

On the other hand, I understand the stadium needs to happen if we are one day to be anywhere near sustainable and in the promised land of the Premier League. I know it’s going to be a very mixed-emotions thing for me when the move finally happens…

Where do you see Villa finishing this season and why?

I think you’ll do well. I was surprised you kept hold of a few players, including Grealish (who I think is a fantastic footballer). I can see you being pretty consistent throughout the season and finishing fairly comfortably in the play-offs.

Score prediction for Wednesday?

This is maybe the most exciting time I can remember being a Brentford fan. I said to my dad yesterday that I don’t think it will happen… but… dare to dream… IF we did win against your lot on Wednesday I think the promotion dream is well and truly on! If…

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