So, we’ve reached the end of another rollercoaster season and had our hearts broken at Wembley yet again. Oh the joys of being a Brentford fan! But where do we go from here? Can we really keep up the momentum and make this year’s dream, next year’s reality?
Undoubtedly, achieving this will hinge on whether we keep our young squad, the fifth-youngest in the entire Football League, together and Uwe has a tough job on his hands. The majority of the squad is under contract until summer 2014 at the least but wingers Sam Saunders and Harry Forrester are both out of contract next month whilst standout loanees Tom Adeyemi (Norwich), Jake Bidwell (Everton) and Bradley Wright-Phillips (Charlton) will return to their parent clubs after their loan deals expire.
If rumours are to be believed, we could also be hit with the departures of goalkeeper Simon Moore, who has reportedly been scouted by Manchester United, along with last summer’s acquisitions, Harlee Dean and Adam Forshaw both of whose eye-catching performances will have put scouts from bigger teams on alert. Nevertheless, it was today reported that the club will open talks with the pair later this week with regards to extending their stay in TW8.
Four Development Squad players have been offered improved contracts and will be hoping to build on their minimal first team appearances in the coming season. Midfielder Charlie Adams, who made his Bees debut against Carlisle this season, has been offered a new two-year deal whilst strikers Luke Norris and Antonio German along with defender Aaron Pierre have each been offered another year at the club.
To progress next season, I think a few new faces are required in the squad starting in defence. Obviously Jake Bidwell has only been on loan from Everton for the past 18 months and if he doesn’t sign permanently, a new left-back might be required. Tony Craig can play there if needed and Scott Barron should be given another opportunity to impress as he recovers from injury yet many Bees fans would hope to see the young Bidwell, recently named in the provisional England U20 World Cup squad, become a permanent fixture at Griffin Park.
Personally, I believe signing Tom Adeyemi up for another loan spell would be perfect for the team; he has passion, drive, power and is composed on the ball whilst I think we need another striker to complement Farid and Clayton. I liked Paul Hayes and defended him when others doubted but now I don’t think he is what we need; he holds the ball up brilliantly but is not a prolific scorer and if’s there’s one thing we need, it is goals. Clayton scored twenty-four this season and Forrester scored eleven but they did not flow; the former having more than one six-game drought.
Looking at the list of teams we are set to face next season, there are more than 15 teams who we can beat with the squad we have now, hands down. It will not, by any means, be plain-sailing next season, though. You just have to look at the teams who were relegated from the Championship this season, Bristol City, Wolves and Peterborough, all clubs of a large stature with quality and experience of football at a higher level. Wolves will have something to prove next season having been a Premier League side just one year ago and I would go as far to say that they will be favourites for the title already with Bristol City not far behind.
Nonetheless, I would definitely expect Brentford to finish in the top six and if automatic promotion is not a realistic prospect by the end of April, with a few good signings and the same winning attitude as this season, I don’t see why we can’t tackle the playoffs again and finally break the ‘curse’ they have over us. Could it be eighth time lucky?