BACK­ING BEN­HAM’S BEE STING

The Football League Paper - - CHRIS DUNLAVY -

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.

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