Friday 20 February 2015 17:08, UK
Peter Beagrie has his say on the main talking points in the Football League this week, including what's next for Brentford, Jimmy Flloyd Hasselbaink's brilliant Burton and Middlesbrough against Leeds...
Middlesbrough have had a terrific season. They are solid at the back, have a goal threat from midfield, are strong and organised and have strikers who can score goals in Kike and Patrick Bamford. The best player in the Championship at times this year has been Boro’s magician Lee Tomlin playing just behind the front man.
Their last couple of performances tell you a lot about them. They had a tremendous win at Blackpool on a quagmire of a pitch, which says plenty about the resolve about the team. Then they got the point against Birmingham away from home.
They had the keeper sent off and managed to get a brilliant draw which will have felt like a win after getting a point from the jaws of defeat. They were strong enough and had the ability to take the opportunity and they are above Bournemouth now and top of the division.
Leeds are doing incredibly well and seem to have settled down since the chairman has not been there. The focus is back on the pitch and the bright spark this season has the youngsters.
Charlie Taylor at left-back has replaced Stephen Warnock and been terrific. He is a tremendous player who can go forward and is strong and athletic.
Lewis Cook in midfield gets better every time he plays, he is still physically developing but has a big heart and is technically very gifted.
Sam Byram I think will play Premier League football. He is a modern day full-back who gets down the right and has an eye for goal as well.
These guys have great ability and brilliant temperament too. At Leeds you have to be mentally strong, believe in your own ability, because the fans are vociferous and demand a lot, you have to accept responsibility and be brave enough to get on the ball and make things happen.
Alex Mowatt has done that and can score goals from open play and free-kicks, breaks from midfield, has a good passing range and never receives the ball with his back to goal.
They are all benefitting from Neil Redfearn being in charge and being left to his own devices. He has got rid of a couple of experienced players, given youth a chance and helped with the development of these players so they trust him and he trusts them. When you get it like that it is mutually beneficially and Leeds are in a rich vein of form.
The FA Cup defeat to Arsenal told me a lot about Boro because they were desperately disappointed. They fancied their chances and thought they had let themselves down.
In a Championship season that is going to be as close as ever this is a big game. Boro are favourites because they have mostly performed well in the big games but both sets of fans will be turning up in their numbers believing they have an opportunity.
It’s a traditional old-style Yorkshire derby. Before it was Teesside and Cleveland it was North Yorkshire and the biggest games to be involved in for Boro was against Leeds. When I played it was very tense, very close, with lots of passion, commitment, incidents and maybe red cards. I imagine it will be a terrific game.
I cannot believe what has happened at Brentford. Gone are the days when everything is done in-house!
You can see what Mark Warburton means to the players and vice versa, but they could implode. Hopefully they won’t because of his demeanour and the way he is handling the situation with tremendous humility and common sense that hasn’t been displayed by the football club.
Warburton and the chairman are close friends and that makes it even more hard to believe. There should have been a conversation in house, discussing it amicably and Mark been rewarded for the job he has done if he was going to leave the club and nobody else knowing about it.
He comes out with tremendous credit for what he has done, the players he has bought, the way he has managed and the harmony he has created, but also the humility and professionalism he has shown in this situation. I would guess Brentford’s promotion opportunities will be hindered more than Mark’s chances of getting a Championship job at the end of the season.
I find it ludicrous you would do something to derail what has been a remarkable season for Brentford so far. I think there is an opportunity for them still because of his relationship with the players, but this has dealt them a ridiculous blow from an area you would have never had expected.
All the managers, journalists, media people I have spoken to cannot believe what has happened and the way it has transpired and the timing. I can’t say enough how disappointed I am for Mark and the club’s fans. It’s not a crisis but it’s a major hurdle for them to overcome.
Everybody raised their eyebrows when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was appointed but I knew for a fact that Jimmy watched a lot of football – League Two, League One and Championship – and he is a student of the game and also a deep thinker about the game.
Burton have done amazing, I fancied them to make the play-offs but they are second behind Shrewsbury, who are the favourites for me. They lost Alex McDonald to Oxford and Jacob Blyth to injury but Jimmy went into the transfer market knowing he needs a powerful centre forward like Blyth and he has got in Mickael Antoine-Curier.
He has all the experience, is big, strong and powerful and runs the channels like Blyth. They have the armoury to make sure Blyth is not a massive loss, even though he was in great form.
Darragh Lenihan has been absolutely terrific, he plays in front of the back four, on loan from Blackburn and has been a tremendous signing. He is a young lad whose attitude and application matches his ability and he has a very good future in the game.
Jimmy Floyd has pulled people from all over the place, he has showed his ability to spot a player and integrate into the shape he wants to play. Burton are a club on a solid financial basis, with tremendous facilities and Jimmy is justifying what people thought was a gamble.
I thought it was a good way for him to get on the footballing ladder, learn the game, all the dealings and transfers and serve his footballing education at a really solid club.
The appointment of Paul Buckle seemed a good fit at the time but instead of a marriage made in heaven it was 79 days of hell. The quality had much improved since his time managing in that division and the one win in 13 doesn’t make good reading.
When you look at the position they are in now the decision was made sooner rather than later because of the amount of games left to get them out of the situation. Russell Milton has taken over with Steve Elliott as his assistant and he has an affinity with the fans. There was a good response to these two guys and they know the club inside out.
They will be hoping they can resurrect what has been a disastrous season. They have made a few signings to try and change it around but there are a lot of youngsters and it’s a tough division. You are trying to integrate these youngsters into a team already struggling.
When you look at the games coming up they need to try and get points from the likes of Accrington, Tranmere, Carlisle and Mansfield. These teams are in a mini-league and will be desperate to take points from each other.
There have been a few names bandied about as a replacement for Buckle but the name that catches my eye, even though he is inexperienced, is Grant McCann. He could come in and be a player/manager and inspire the people around him, get the fans through the doors, bums on seats and be more vocal then they have been.
He was a tremendous servant for Cheltenham and he could be the one to spark everything. Usually it cries out for experience but the feel-good factor with Grant could push them on and get them out of the bottom two.
They are not cut adrift, when you look up to Accrington in 14th and only nine points above. It’s very tight at the bottom and I am sure the proposition would appeal to Grant at a club close to his heart.