Big guns ready to fire


FOOT­BALL Con­sol­i­da­tion is the name of the game for Brent­ford this sea­son, ac­cord­ing to chair­man Cliff Crown.

Hav­ing clinched pro­mo­tion af­ter fin­ish­ing run­ners-up be­hind Wolves last term, Crown is con­fi­dent the club will hold their own in their first sea­son back in the Cham­pi­onship in 22 years.

“The last time we were in the divi­sion we went straight back down, so it’s im­por­tant­tomain­tain­our­mo­men­tum,” said Crown.

“We hope to con­sol­i­date and if we can fin­ish mid-ta­ble or higher I’d be very happy.”

A char­tered ac­coun­tant for 32 years, Crown, who is 57 and lives in Radlett, tookover­there­ins­fromGregDyke­when here­placedDavidBern­steinaschair­man of the FA just over a year ago. He said: “We’ve strength­ened the squad and are in re­ally good shape. I’m lov­ing ev­ery minute of it.”

Hav­ing at­tended all five friendlies, fa­therof-three Crown en­joyed a short break in Por­tu­gal ahead of Satur­day’s derby against Charl­ton Ath­letic.

He­said:“We’ve­hada­good­pre-sea­son, in­clud­ing matches against Bore­ham­wood, Bar­net and Crys­tal Palace, whom we beat 3-2.

“We’re on a bit of a roll, but the Cham­pi­onship is a dif­fer­ent ball-game. It’s much tougher phys­i­cally than League One.

“Some­thing new to fac­tor in is teams get six weeks off due to in­ter­na­tional matches,but­this­means­there’llbe­more mid­weekgamestofit­in­which­will­re­ally test the depth of the squad.

“We’re ex­cited by the chal­lenge but also wary that we’ll be up against some for­mer Pre­mier League teams, plus some other big clubs in­clud­ing Leeds, Not­ting­ham For­est and Derby.”

Charl­ton look set to give a de­but to de­fender Tal Ben Haim. “One would hope­he­do­esn’tre­ceiveanyver­bal­abuse from the crowd re­gard­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Is­rael,” said Crown who is a fre­quent vis­i­tor.

“It’s a very sad sit­u­a­tio­nand hope they can find a peace­ful so­lu­tion.”

We’re in good shape and I’m lov­ing ev­ery minute

TONY BLOOM I S h o p i ng i t ’ s third time lucky as Brighton bid to shed their near­ly­man tag.

Brighton have suf­fered play-off semi-fi­nal heartaches in the last two sea­sons.

But the Seag­ulls chief in­sists there will be no hang­over as they look to go again un­der another new man­ager.

For­mer Liver­pool de­fender Sami Hyyp­i­ais­the­new­maninthe­hot-seathav­ing re­placed Os­car Gar­cia, who re­turned to Mac­cabi Haifa.

Bloom said: “He played in Eng­land for a decade and his en­thu­si­asm and hunger is clear.”

Brightonarenowe­quipped­to­takethe next step and reach the Pre­mier League. They reg­u­larly fill out the 28,5000 Amex Sta­dium, have con­structed a new train­ing ground and their academy sys­tem is flour­ish­ing.

Bloom­said:“Weareputtingth­e­build­ing blocks in place for when we do hope­fully make it. I think we can chal­lenge, along with Nor­wich and Derby.”

JOE JA­COB­SON IS con­fi­dent his re­turn to League Twowith­Wy­combe Wan­der­ers will be a short­lived one.

T h e C a r d i f f - born de­fender shunned the ad­vances of Craw­ley to take a punt on Wy­combe fol­low­ing his re­lease from Shrews­bury.

The Chair­boys sur­vived by the skin of their teeth last sea­son hav­ing only guar­an­teed their Foot­ball League sta­tus on a nail-bit­ing fi­nal-day.

Ja­cob­son said: “I know the club will not want to go through that ex­pe­ri­ence again. But there’s one thing say­ing it and then ac­tu­ally do­ing it.

“There’s a few new play­ers so it will take a bit of time to find our feet and gel.

“But from what I’ve seen there are a lot of good play­ers here. Of course it’s a tough league to get out from as every­one knows.

“I do know though that with con­sis­tency and a bit of luck you can go up.”

Wy­combe be­gin their new cam­paign against Newport County.

DEAN FUR­MAN HAS the added in­cen­tive to pick him­self up from the floor – by win­ning a new con­tract at Don­caster. Fur­man admits he took his time to re­cover from the heart­break of rel­e­ga­tion back to League Two last sea­son.

The set­back took its toll but the South African mid­fielder is ready to go again.

And with a po­ten­tial new deal in the pipe­line at the Keep­moat Sta­dium, Fur­man, 26, will not be short of mo­ti­va­tion.

He said: “Rel­e­ga­tion hit the team and my­self hard. We be­lieved we were good enough to stay up. In the end it wasn’t to be and we are back again at this level hav­ing to go all again.

“But that’s the chal­lenge we should all be rel­ish­ing. I’ve had a taste of the Cham­pi­onship and I would like another crack. “There are some big teams in our divi­sion. The likes of Sh­effield United, Pre­ston and Bris­tol City have some fi­nan­cial clout and they will be chal­leng­ing, but we feel we could be one of them once again.


Cliff Crown pre­dicts big things from Brent­ford

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