In addition to the MK Don fan’s view on Latics’ new signing, Will Grigg, we also reached out to a Brentford fan to give us an insight on the player’s time there.
Billy Grant (@billythebee99) writes and videoblogs for the Beesotted blog (www.beesotted.co.uk) and has previously written for us his view on ex-Brentford personnel Uwe Rosler and Adam Forshaw.
Here’s over to Billy:
Grigg came in with high expectations. He had scored 20 goals in the previous season for Walsall – all from open play and was scouted because, statistically, he fitted a profile. A striker who found himself himself in goalscoring positions and made chances.
His transfer was protracted and bad-blooded (quite similar in ways to the Wigan-Forshaw scenario) except unlike Forshaw, Grigg was out of contract.
Walsall manager Dean Smith didn’t want him to leave and had offered him a new deal. And even said something to the words when he left … “If he were leaving to go to a better side I would have thought he would have done better than Brentford”. He toned down his comments later to say what he meant was he thought Grigg’s agent could have done better and got him a championship move.
In the end, as the sides couldn’t agree a fee, it went to tribunal with Brentford having to pay Walsall compensation. A figure of £325k with add-ons was finally decided upon. Smith was still angry as he valued Grigg at closer to £1m even back then.
He had a good start to the season. Scored a brace on his home debut vs Sheffield Utd – missing a penalty for his hat trick. Brentford fans thought our time had come. Beating Sheffield Utd – the team who last season came so close to promotion to the Championship – was a real barometer of how we had stepped up. Or so we thought. Our next two months were fairly average to say the least .. whilst Sheffield United went from bad to worse.
As for Grigg, after that run he got immediately called into the Northern Ireland squad to start against Russia. And his bedding into the Brentford team was continually disrupted over the next few months by being taken off by he Northern Ireland national side to effectively sit on the bench.
He was missing out on game time. And training with his team mates.
He also was unlucky with niggling injuries during that period which never saw him fully fit and he was often subbed off during matches.
All in all, this led to a massive dip in confidence for the lad who was starting to feel the pressure in a side gunning for promotion.
Eventually over the course of the season Marcello Trotta became the forward of choice with Brentford deciding to send Will off to Franchise FC aka MK Dons the following season to get ‘game time’ after scoring 4 goals in his 39 appearances for The Bees.
His time at MK Dons is unprecedented – scoring 22 goals in 50 games including a brace against Man United. Not many players can boast to their grandkids that they scored against Man United.
Apparently he was great for MK Dons. Worked hard. Made chances. And took over the mantle of top goalscorer after Afobe left for Wolves.
Brentford fans would often say ‘he couldn’t do that for the Bees though. He couldn’t play up front on his own’ .. but apparently, he played the lone striker role magnificently up in Milton Keynes.
Bees fans wee bracing themselves for giving Grigg a second chance. The thoughts – having a 20 goal striker as you 2nd or 3rd choice is never a bad thing. But for Will .. and for Brentford .. with 1 year left on his contract .. the opportunity to cash in (even make a profit) … and for Will to lead the line for a team intent in reclaiming they place back in the Championship proved too much of a pull.
The Griggster (as we call him) … lovely bloke. Really down to earth. I even managed to nab the first interview with him when he joined Brentford a couple of seasons ago.
And I – and I’m sure all Bees fans – wish The Griggster the best of luck at Wigan … even easier to do so now that we are a division apart. And that wasn’t meant to be a dig by the way … just I don’t have to worry about him coming back to Griffin Park and scoring a hat trick … not for a season anyway.
I cannot think of a better signing we, or any League One team, could have realistically made. He is proven at League One level, scoring 22 goals in the league despite having to compete with Benik Afobe for much of the season (who has been scoring for fun for Wolves of late). He is young and he will be improving. Perhaps most importantly the team he did it for was MK Dons, who play an attractive, passing style of football similar to what Gary wants Wigan to play, so he is a perfect fit for our style of play. He can play up front alone as he did last season or in a strike partnership, he can score with his left, his right and his head, he can poach goals and he is technically good too. This could be the signing to propel us back up. After all, he did it last season for the Dons.