Opposition Focus: Brentford

Image: Richard Heathcote/Getty

We spoke to Billy Grant from the Beesotted Podcast to get a Brentford perspective ahead of Saturday’s game…

Fulham vs Brentford: What’s the first thing that comes to mind?

It’s probably not what you want to hear but it’s the 4-1 win at Craven Cottage on Easter weekend. We hadn’t been to Craven Cottage for years, it was a beautiful day, boats down the Thames, drinks by the river and 7,000 Bees fans in the away end. Brentford were on fire! It was just a brilliant day out from beginning to end, in what was an exciting season all round where we unexpectedly (to us as well) made the playoffs and were a couple of matches away from the Premier League.

I’ve been to pretty much every single Fulham game since Peter O’Sullivan heartbreakingly scored for you in front of 11k fans at Griffin Park in 1982. The only goal of the match in a season that saw you win promotion to the second tier. What an atmosphere that day, it was proper lively! But it’s going to be really hard to beat that 4-1 match. Even the 4-0 tonking at Griffin Park in our promotion season in 1992 doesn’t come close.

Aleksander Mitrović is one goal ahead of Ollie Watkins in the Championship’s top scorers list this season. How does Watkins get most of his goals, what advice would you give to the FFC defence if they were listening and do you think Watkins will finish above Mitro as the Championship’s top scorer? 

I’m sure your scouting team have done their homework… The thing about Watkins is that he works so, so hard. He not only does a lot of running off the ball, tracking back and playing the ball into channels. He’s now also learnt how to become a pain in and around the area and he’s great with his head as well.

But what is more dangerous is the fact that he is part of a trio who have scored 49 goals between them. The opposition don’t really know who to look out for. If you concentrate on Watkins, up pops Mbuemo who has scored 14 goals from the wing. Try and lock down Mbuemo and 10-goal Benrahma coasts past defenders to knock one in the top corner. But I’m not going to get over confident. None of them have scored in the three friendly matches we’ve played so maybe the momentum has gone and we will have to start from scratch. Nothing is a given a this stage. It’s like a new 9 game mini-season.

Will Watkins beat Mitrović? Hard question that. Mitrović is unbelievable in front of goal, if you give him an inch, he’ll score. Having said that, Fulham on paper have a tougher run-in than us. So, if I were to put 50p on who will finish top goalscorer, I would say that Ollie will pip him by one goal by the end of the season.

Have you missed out on the chance to say goodbye to Griffin Park properly? Are you excited about moving into your new home?

I thought there was an outside chance that we would have one last competitive match at Griffin Park but it seems like it that candle may be flickering out. The developers are keen to build (and you might chuckle about this) flats on Griffin Park so unless fans are allowed back in stadia sooner rather than later (and there was talk of maybe looking at fans back in stadia in September) then I think there’s no chance which will be really gutting. It’s been my footballing home for over 40 years and we probably won’t get one last chance to wish her farewell.

The move to New Griffin Park has been a long time coming. We’ve managed to procrastinate all the moves proposed over the past few years. Our move to Western International Market in Hayes was put on ice, our move to Woking was kiboshed. Even when we told the authorities we were going to move to New Griffin Park ‘soon’, we managed to procrastinate the move so many times. Year after year getting a stay of execution by putting more seats on the terracing but the time has run out. We’re out of excuses.

So, there is a certain amount of excitement coupled with nervousness that New Griffin Park will not be nearly as tight, buzzing or homely for the fans and equally less fearful for opposition players as our current stadium.

How do you feel about the prospect of playing us in the playoffs? 

If there were fans in the stadium, I would have relished it. With no fans, it seems like a different prospect. All jokes aside, Fulham are a very good footballing side and you have some great players. Likewise, we also play good football so it should be a great game. I’m guessing in principal, it may suit us better to play you than a Forest or a Preston.

As fans, we all believe that we (personally) can make that little bit of difference from the vocal support we give the team. So, empty stadia changes that dynamic. Brentford vs Fulham with no fans just isn’t the same. If anything, it’s probably better for you.

How do you see the game going on Saturday?

This is a guess as we have nothing to go by other than both teams on paper. So, I’m going for a 2-0 win to Brentford and I have no idea why. My only reasoning is that we have some really good players who, when they click, can really do some damage. But I’m not copping out by saying I have no idea how they will be perform on Saturday. If the Arsenal match is anything to go by (we won 3-2) then hopefully we’ll do ok…

Final League Standings for the Top 6 and Bottom 3?

Leeds and West Brom will remain the top two. Although if West Brom lose to Birmingham on Saturday, I reckon there could be an upset. 

think we’ll finish 3rd, Fulham 4th, Forest 5th and  I’m going with Preston over Millwall in 6th.

Barnsley, Luton and Charlton will go down. Although Hull look in big trouble, they will miraculously wriggle out of it.

Thanks to Billy Grant (@BillyTheBee99) who writes and podcasts for @Beesotted (beesotted.com). 

You can catch their post-match podcast on Saturday from 4 pm on http://PrideOfWest.London