View from the Opposition: ‘I would carry Alex Pritchard back to Brentford myself if he became available’
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Season ticket holder Chris Fairbank provides an insight into Brentford's season ahead of today's clash with Norwich City.
Results have been disappointing recently, are Bees fans nervously looking over their shoulders?
Not yet, I firmly believe we have the quality to be a mid-table team this year, there are far worse teams than us in the division. We've been playing well the last few weeks, but not getting the results we deserve. Hopefully it will all even out by May.
Is Dean Smith popular among supporters?
He has just passed his one-year anniversary and most fans would be content with his performance. He hasn't overly impressed but gone about his business quietly. There are a few tactical questions hanging over his head, but he has a good reputation for bringing young players through, which, for a club our size, is incredibly important.
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Has the club recovered from Mark Warburton's exit now?
Yes. We appointed the wrong man to replace him – that has taken more time to get over than Warburton. He was great for us but that's all in the past now. As long as you don't accuse us of sacking him...
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Norwich are yet to see the best of Alex Pritchard, what made him so successful at Brentford?
His ability to find space between the midfield and defence when moving forward, keep the ball and play a great pass. He moved the ball quickly and was decent from set-pieces. He was the conduit through which we attacked and moved forward and had obvious quality from day one. I'll go to Carrow Road and carry him back to Brentford myself if he became available.
Norwich have been linked with Scott Hogan this week, how highly do you rate him?
Very, very highly. Scott has been excellent for the team and the club as a whole. To return from two back-to-back knee injuries and have the impact he has had is testament to his mental strength. If Andre Gray went for £9million, Hogan is probably a £12m player. Our next highest goal scorer is a centre-back, illustrating the significance he has to our team. He sits on the last defender, has explosive acceleration, without being quick, and finishes well. That natural eye for goal is a quality few players have in the Championship.
Which players have impressed you most so far this season?
Ryan Woods, John Egan, Daniel Bentley, pictured inset. Woods does all our running in midfield, enforces and passes well. Egan came in from Gillingham and has settled into the Championship instantly, keeping our record signing Andreas Bjelland on the bench. Bentley, in goal, has saved us on several occasions already and is agile and confident. The shame is that those three and Hogan are the only ones to have impressed.
And who have been the weak links?
Injuries to two left-backs have meant playing slow Bjelland there, who has been exposed against quick wingers – although we played five at the back in our last game and Yohann Barbet at left wing-back looked more solid. Romaine Sawyers has produced little despite promising lots and our lack of width is a concern. We knew that in the summer and haven't rectified the problem. Josh Clarke and Sullay Kaikai have both been consistently inconsistent.
Have you been surprised to see Norwich's recent poor form?
Yes – Norwich have spent money, benefit from ridiculous parachute payments and have great infrastructure. It seems like Neil has lost the dressing room which is very hard to reverse once it has set in. The quality in the squad is there for all to see but if the players won't play for the manager then losing five on the bounce is the result.
Which of the Canaries' players will Brentford be most wary of?
Brentford know all too well what Canos and Pritchard are capable of – both, on their day, can win a match on their own. I've always like Naismith and Ruddy – two players who shouldn't be in this division. Cameron Jerome is a flat track bully, but scored two cracking goals against us the last time we played at Griffin Park so I'm sure he will be confident of repeating that.
And finally, what is your score prediction?
Both sides are in a slump, but I think Norwich need the win more than we do. Well, Alex Neil needs the win more than Dean Smith does. So 1-0 Norwich.