I may be writing this over a month since we were promoted, but it still hasn’t quite sunk in. Little old Brentford are a Championship club. Wow. I have been supporting the club since I was nine-years-old and could never have envisioned what we all saw this season.
After THAT day last season, I couldn’t see us challenging for promotion and was proved right in the early stages of the season as early-October saw us languishing in 11th place. But it was a defeat away to Stevenage that marked the beginning of an incredible 19-match unbeaten league run stretching from October to February, which set the Bees on the way to automatic promotion.
Even a managerial change that threatened to challenge the promotion push, could not do so, and arguably further set the club up for a successful Championship season – the first in the second tier in 21 years – despite the disappointing reality that there will be no visit to Loftus Road to play bitter rivals, QPR. Meanwhile, this season’s archenemy, Russell Slade (of “They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup” fame), whose Leyton Orient side fell at the final hurdle in last week’s playoff final, seems to have gained some respect for Brentford, telling the press, “I think the thing to do is to look at what Brentford did last season…we need to use that as a model.”
So how does Warburton plan on keeping us in the Championship? Firstly, in preparation for the start of the season, the squad will jet off to the IMG Training Facility in Florida on 2 July for ten days. Although no matches will be played during the training camp, the manager has been quick to point out that it is “not a team vacation”, with the players “undergoing three sessions per day for the majority of the stay”. Upon their return from the US, the players will face friendlies against Borehamwood, Barnet and Crystal Palace, with more to be announced in due course. Chief Executive Mark Devlin has this week taken to Twitter with news of “a very exciting potential opportunity to play South American opposition on July 26”.
Unlike the Andy Scott years there will be no summer exodus, with the promotion-winning squad being given the opportunity to test themselves at a higher level. Nonetheless, ‘Warbs’ is on the prowl for a couple of new faces with the Bees reportedly chasing Yeovil Town’s former Arsenal trainee, Luke Ayling, who is out of contract at the end of June. The 22-year-old is, like Alan McCormack, capable of playing in both defence and midfield and could provide much needed Championship experience at the expense of Nico Yennaris. Caen and Mali international centre-back Molla Wague tops the list of defenders linked with the club along with Bristol Rovers pair Michael Smith and long-term target Tom Parkes, whilst Liam Ridgewell – close friends with Bees’ winger Sam Saunders – has been linked with the club after his release by West Bromwich Albion.
A number of the club’s young players have been offered contracts to be a part of the Bees’ ‘revolution’ and have important decisions abut their futures to make in the coming weeks. Luke Norris is a player I would love to see next season; now a proven Football League goalscorer the 21-year-old would fit into a side lacking a prolific striker. And whilst Clayton Donaldson weighs in with his fair share of goals, Norris adds youthful flair and will be given a chance, should he choose to accept. Millwall’s Simeon Jackson and Bolton’s Marvin Sordell are rumoured to have attracted Brentford’s attention, although judging by the social media reaction, fans would be less than ecstatic with either player making the move to west London. Aside from Norris, midfielder Manny Oyeleke and commanding central defender Alfie Mawson have also been offered fresh terms whilst midfielder Joe Maloney has been given a 1-year playing deal with coaching responsibilities for younger age-groups.
In terms of this season’s loan signings, Chelsea midfielder George Saville will almost certainly not be returning to the club, with Wigan (and former Bees) manager Uwe Rosler said to be keen on linking up with the 20-year-old once again. It was announced this week that Marcello Trotta has handed in a transfer request at Fulham and, as the striker has impressed for Italy’s U21s, a number of clubs are said to be eager to obtain his signature. One player who will be returning to TW8 however, is Alan Judge after he signed a three-year deal on Monday. The Irishman spent five months on loan from Blackburn Rovers and played an instrumental role towards the end of the season, including scoring the penalty against Preston North End that sealed promotion.
Left-back Scott Barron and terrace favourite Farid El Alagui, who both endured a torrid spell at the club plagued by injury, have been told that they do not feature in Warburton’s plans, along with goalkeeper Liam O’Brien who will sign a two-year deal with Skrill Premier side Barnet on 1st July. Former Manchester City right-back Shaleum Logan has signed permanently for Aberdeen, where he impressed on loan at the end of last season, whilst Development Squad defender Aaron Pierre turned down the offer of a new deal to sign for League Two side Wycombe Wanderers.
Written by Dan Long, We Are Going Up’s Brentford Blogger