Brentford’s striker curse returns

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GetWestLondon have reported today that the Bees are in pole position to sign out-of-favour Sunderland striker Danny Graham after being linked with former loanee Marcello Trotta, who was placed on the transfer list by caretaker Fulham boss Kit Symons last week. Here are a few personal thoughts on the Bees’ current options and potential loan signings.

Based on the past few games, it seems that the striker’s curse which threatened to derail Brentford’s promotion challenge in the final few weeks of the 2008/09 season has returned. But not in the form of injuries (excluding Scott Hogan); this time there is an almighty goal drought.

No player has scored more than 3 goals this season and the last time a striker hit the back of the net since Andre Gray’s goal in the 3-2 victory over Brighton on 13 Sept – 44 days ago…and counting. It seems a shame that Clayton Donaldson’s talent is being wasted in a poor Birmingham team; whilst he would waste a host of chances every game, he could create and score goals and his haul of 53 goals in three seasons undeniably proves his ability.

No one can deny that Gray has coped with the demands extremely well, having taken the gargantuan leap from the Conference to the second tier of English football. The former Luton man scored a magnificent curling effort against Rotherham, hit the bar against Bournemouth after an expert free-kick routine and should have been awarded a goal in last week’s stalemate with Sheffield Wednesday but was incorrectly ruled offside. But despite his impressive performances in leading the line, the 23-year-old has notched just three times.

Then there’s Nick Proschwitz. Big Nick. The former Hull target man has done little to endear himself to Brentford fans bar a goal at Dagenham that he didn’t actually score and a simple one-yard tap-in up at Rotherham. Nonetheless, the potential silver lining is that the German has started in just three of his 14 appearances for the club. Given his first-rate goalscoring exploits in Germany, many would agree that he should be allowed to add to his solitary league start and show both the coaching staff and the fans alike, what he is capable of. Playing alongside a raw talent like Gray’s could add an interesting dimension to the team whilst benefitting both players but the question is, who would the manager drop from a youthful team already exceeding expectations, for a misfiring 27-year-old?

Mark Warburton’s other options include highly rated Sporting Lisbon loanee Betinho, who has only made two late substitute appearances for the club thus far and veteran Tommy Smith with his extensive Championship experience. Encouragingly, the latter made his return from injury at with a goal for the Under-21s last week and his first team return in the 3-1 defeat to Bolton at the weekend.

And so to the potential signings; Marcello Trotta; everyone’s favourite love-hate figure of the past two seasons. He lost us promotion in 2013, came back the following season and all but won it at Leyton Orient away earlier this year. Mark Warburton made no bones about the fact that he wanted to sign the young Italian in the close season but was prevented from doing so by then-Fulham manager, Felix Magath.

He knows the club and how we play, is highly thought of by the management and most importantly, he knows where the goal is – and, on his day, his technique is a wonder to behold. But – and this is a big but – the youngster’s workrate is highly questionable at the best of times and, like most of the squad, is unproven at this level. Meanwhile, assistant manager David Weir played down speculation of Trotta’s return to Brentford on Monday but it seems farcical that a return of 22 goals and 11 assists in just under 70 games – adding to goals for Italy U21s can go unrewarded, albeit at a lower level.

Danny Graham’s name and apparent loan move sprung up from nowhere on Monday afternoon and was met with widespread approval on social media. The Sunderland frontman has played just two minutes in the Capital One Cup this season and ended the previous campaign at Middlesbrough in the Championship. Graham’s career somewhat nose-dived following the rise of Michu at Swansea City and he has found himself a bit-part player ever since. Despite this, his form returned at Middlesbrough and the 29-year-old proved that his goalscoring prowess – reminiscent of his prolific spell at Watford – remains.

November will be a tough month with games against Derby, Forest, Millwall, Fulham and Wolves and if Graham can carry on from where he left off last season, then his influence in what has been touted as a 2-3 month loan deal, could prove invaluable in Brentford’s plot to remain in the Championship.

Written by Dan Long, We Are Going Up’s Brentford Blogger

Dan tweets at @DanLong__

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