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Rob Burnett: Is Marinus Dijkhuizen’s sacking the end of Brentford’s data-driven approach?

29 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Rob Burnett: Is Marinus Dijkhuizen’s sacking the end of Brentford’s data-driven approach?

Has owner Matthew Benham’s great experiment already failed? Not necessarily, says the Mirror sports writer

When it was announced last season that Mark Warburton would be leaving Brentford and that the club were to switch to a new management structure with a head coach, directors of football and a ‘head of football philosophy’, the response from the football establishment was a collective sneer.

“They want a head coach and mathematical modeling… Ha, ha, good luck with that,” said former Portsmouth, Newcastle and Coventry striker Micky Quinn.

They are Quinn’s words, but they could have come from one of a thousand former players now employed as coaches or pundits.

How dare they try something new?

The next step in Brentford’s master plan was the appointment of Marinus Dijkhuizen as the new head coach to replace Warburton.

“Marinus who?” was the refrain from the English football establishment who viewed the Dutchman with almost as much suspicion as the ‘continental’ structure the club had put in place.

And now, after just two wins in eight games, Dijkhuizen has gone along with his assistant Roy Hendriksen.

You can almost hear Micky Quinn laughing from here.

The Dutchman’s dismissal after such a short spell in charge would seem to confirm what the establishment knew all along: you can’t run a football club in England with the so-called ‘continental’ structure, and trying to use data analysis to help sign players is just a fad – the latest in a long line of football gimmicks.

Experiment failed. Now get back in your box, Brentford.

Tony Cottee was immediately extolling the wisdom of getting in a manager who “knows the Championship” on Sky Sports News, despite Slavisa Jokanovic getting Watford promoted last season having had zero previous experience of the division and Aitor Karanka not doing too badly at Middlesbrough.

But let’s hold those horses for just a minute.

Yes, Dijkhuizen has gone after struggling this season, but it is worth a closer look at some of the ‘buts’.

First off, he’s been desperately unlucky with injuries.

Up to 10 first team players have been unavailable to him, including former Chelsea youth player Josh McEachran and record signing Andreas Bjelland, who was ruled out for the whole season after suffering a serious knee problem on his club debut.

The club also had to re-lay the pitch at Griffin Park after Dijkhuizen described it as “a disaster, awful and unbelievable” after their opening match of the season.

It is also thought the players were not happy with the training methods employed by the Dutchman and his assistant.

So is this the end of owner Matthew Benham’s new regime at the club?

Will the head of football philosophy and the data spreadsheets be thrown out in favour of a traditional manager and a sheepskin coat?

Well, no. Both directors of football remain in their posts, as does the infamous head of football philosophy.

Dijkhuizen may not have been the right man for the job, but there is no suggestion the structure at the club was the problem – or is likely to change.

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