Rasmus Ankersen, Brentford’s soccer director, also likes to say the story of his first meeting with the club’s president, Matthew Benham.
It was 2013, in League One, Brentford was seventh, and Ankersen wanted to make a little small talk. “Do you think you’ll get promoted?” Ankersen asked.
Benham turned towards him. “This is the kind of story people like to tell about Brentford: a club bought on a rainy Tuesday night by a gambling tycoon with a penchant for numbers, backed by a small army of analysts and disruptors who apply regression curves and game theory to the EFL. One often hears that the most successful era of Brentford since the 1940s is based on a “data-driven” approach: both evoke notio-like:”
A vibrant new stadium, a good financial base and promotion within reach: this could be a club with a firm hold on the figures.
But here, too, there is a human side at work: one that has taken the different components – first team, board, backroom and fans – and mixed them into a single, devastatingly cohesive whole. Josh Dasilva, the powerful midfielder of the club, may not be able to tell you anything about the science behind the rise of Brentford. But what he knows is what it looks like on the inside. All who works is a positive person here.
And on the field, you see that, too. Good people do good stuff. After playing 62 minutes under Arsène Wenger, Dasilva signed for Arsenal in the summer of 2018.
He was searching for his next challenge at 19 and was able to tackle competitive men’s football.
But there was one issue: for several months, he was hurt and wouldn’t be fit. “Maybe other clubs saw it differently,” he says. “But Brentford just wanted to get me fit and see what I could do.” After Covid fracture, Érik Lamela won’t play against Brentford at ChristmasContinueYou hear tales like Dasilva’s also in the Brentford locker room: of young players who had fallen on hard times. Whose big break had come and gone. Who was only one poor decision away from falling through the cracks. Who just needed a little time and a little love.
Sergi Canós, once in the academy of FC Barcelona, was plucked from the reserves of Liverpool and is now one of the best wingers in the Championship. After struggling to make an impact with Celta Vigo in La Liga, Danish midfielder Mathias Jensen signed for Brentford. After being released by West Brom in 2019, Finnish striker Marcus Forss was signed for Brentford’s B team, and he is a seven goals this season.
Identifying talent is just the first step, after all.
In the recruiting process, character tests play a significant role, so much so that the club also scours fan forums for rumors of future additions. Once a player is welcomed into the Brentford family, he is nurtured and encouraged to reach the full extent of his ability. Brentford likes to go his own way in the battle for promotion. It’s tempting to see a pattern to copy for other aspiring clubs in Brentford’s growth.
Ultimately, however, there is nothing archetypal or transferable about their performance, which is simply the reaction.