King Jota – Is He The Best Brentford Player Of All Time?
Yes. I would say he absolutely is, so there you have it, is that the shortest Beesotted article ever?
Well, okay then, perhaps it’s only fair to elaborate a little and give the reasons behind my rather bold statement – to justify a claim that really isn’t as black and white as the conclusion suggests – and to share some superlatives about a player some fans claim is the Bees’ Messiah.
Jota’s first stint at Griffin Park was wonderful to witness, as free-flowing Brentford gave the Championship a pleasant surprise by making the play-offs, and who will ever forget the wins over Fulham, in which the Spaniard’s ‘last minute’ ditty was forged? Jota was pivotal in a team that was crammed full of attacking options –alongside Alan Judge and Alex Pritchard we had an abundance of flair and expressive footballers. That was some team. That was some season.
But as good as the likes of Judge and Pritchard were that campaign, in my opinion at least, Jota had that little bit extra about him, an added magical quality. Whenever the trio got the ball the home crowd’s posture changed and there was an air of excitement that built… something was about to happen. And it often did.
Pritchard was never our’s to keep, and as harsh as it sounds on Alan ‘he scored the goal that sent us up’ Judge, Jota has the edge in my view – there may not be a lot in it, but as we’ve recently discovered, the difference our Spanish wonder kid has made to the side over the past two months is perfectly clear. We’ve been given a massive shot in the arm and the whole squad seems to have gained another 5-10%. The players know they have a great team mate back in the camp and they have responded.
I’d go as far as to say that Jota is more of a team player and, over all, less of a one man band than Judge was last season – a brilliant player undoubtedly – but Judge gave the impression, at times, that he knew he was the best player in a red and white shirt, and in the same way as Scott Hogan became, the focus of play was all about them.
I don’t see that with Jota. He floats all over the pitch and works tirelessly, just like Judge, but I never get the impression that Jota is a pushy player… the ball finds its way to him because he positions himself perfectly… Jota doesn’t demand the ball is played through, or to, him every attack. I hope that’s not too harsh on Judgy as that’s not the intention, both are outstanding on their day, but we’ve grown to survive without him and, ultimately, I’m more excited about next year than at any stage in my time as a Brentford fan.
Anyway, whether the other players see Jota’s return as a relief now we are playing a system that they enjoy more, or whether they have stepped it up in an attempt to shine just as brightly themselves, who cares, what we are seeing now is a Brentford team emerging from a two-season rebuild in very exciting shape. Yes we’re leaking too many goals still, but at least now there is a clear focus to fix… rather than missing half the jigsaw puzzle, we’re now missing possibly three pieces to make us proper contenders next season.
So, back to my ‘best of all time’ claim. As I said on this week’s Pride of West London Podcast (click the link above), and as we all discussed, the consensus of opinion is that despite the amazing success our proud club enjoyed under Harry Curtis during the Twenties, Thirties and Forties – packed full of internationals and household names – today’s footballers are far superior in almost every department. Technically, they have all been coached to their very highest level from an early age; physically this generation are genuine athletes and enjoy all the benfits of medical, sports and nutritional advances over the past 70 years… and professionally the training regime and high reward lifestyle all combine to prove one thing. The squads of the past three seasons have been the best in our club’s history. And if these are the best squads in our club’s history, who is the best player to pull on a red and white short in the past three years? Jota I reckon.
Of course we have seen outstanding individuals in lesser Brentford teams over the years, and I’m as guilty as anyone when I often look back with misty-eyed nostalgia and remember the likes of Andy Sinton, Dean Holdsworth, Herman Hreidarsson, Stan Bowles, Terry Hurlock, Ken Coote, Jim Towers and George Francis, but with the greatest respect in the world, and for a variety of reasons, I stand by my claim that ‘he’s best by far’ as the old Jamie Bates song used to go.
For the remainder of this season, and hopefully well into the medium term future, we should treasure watching Jota playing for Brentford. Just three, short months ago we never envisaged that we’d see him return to Brentford at all, let alone eclipse his form first time round.
Brentford will clearly trigger the contract clause to keep him at the club for 2017/18, then work hard to secure a longer term deal this summer… after that, who knows? Can he keep up this current form? Will the vultures come along and swoop? Or will the player learn from the past and realise his bread is buttered right where he is? In an envirmonment where he feels comfortable and at home in, where the fans adore him, and where he can express himself and have a team to challenge for the Premier League built around him?
Whatever happens, Jota is definitely one player who has more than justified our owner’s much derided use of mathematics in conjunction with traditional scouting techniques in an attempt to discover great unearthed talent from the hidden pots of Europe.
Obviously there is no definitive conclusion to this article’s title question, and I’m not always right, so we’re fascinated to hear your thoughts on whether Jota should be crowned as the all time King of Brentford… What do you think? Share your thoughts by commenting below.