BACKING BENHAM’S BEE STING
LITTLE in life is more uplifting that watching an underdog trump his supposed superiors.
Which is why we should all hope that Brentford chairman Matthew Benham’s moneyball experiment leaves the Championship’s big spenders scratching in the dust.
On the face of it, a secretive policy of signing players for the Bees purely on stats sounds sterile and unromantic. A little bit Football Manager.
We’d much rather imagine grizzled old scouts with magical intuition than banks of pasty statisticians hunched over computer screens.
And we all adore the old tales of Bob Bishop, the man who discovered a scrawny George Best on the playing fields of Belfast, then called Man United to report that he’d “found a genius”.
But then Man United could afford ten Bob Bishops. These days, they could pay for 100, maybe 1,000.
And that’s the whole point. Right now, the system is rigged. Those with the deepest pockets can afford the best players, the best networks, the best coaches and facilities.
Teams on the breadline blindly ape their methods, paying over the odds for castoffs and dreaming of an altruistic Arab.
Surely it is better to innovate, to find a different way of doing business. So ignore the ‘football men’ who scoff that Benham will fall flat on his keyboard. At least he’s trying to beat the system. At least he’s trying to give the big-spending bullies a run for their money. At least he’s fighting back.
All everybody else does is toe the line, whinge about parachute payments and watch as the gap becomes a chasm. That is no help to anyone.