Dean Brennan – the Barnet boss bringing a buzz back to The Hive

4 min

Finding themselves comfortably in the running for a National League Play-Off place, it’s been quite a turnaround in fortune for Barnet under head coach Dean Brennan.

Having been at the wrong end of the table for the past two campaigns, the Bees have defied the pre-season odds to currently sit fifth under the 42-year-old’s tutelage.

Initially joining in a Head of Football capacity before becoming caretaker following the sacking of Harry Kewell in September 2021, Brennan galvanised the side to an 18th place finish during the 2021-22 campaign and a comfortable 16 points from relegation.

Now permanent head coach, the Bees have continued to develop this term with the Dubliner awarded National League Manager of the Month for December as well as a new contract until 2026.

Barnet may currently be on a run of only two wins in their last seven but there is no doubt Brennan has resurrected the club’s fortunes with the boss believing the current spell is the final remaining remnants of the club’s previous failings.

Speaking exclusively to London Football Scene following the recent 3-1 home loss to Oldham Athletic, Brennan said: “These are the sort of periods that will kick us in the teeth, that’s the truth.

“The mistakes we’ve made are the reason why this football club has been near the bottom for a long time.” 

Brennan’s side were poor on the night with their step-in goalkeeper Aymen Azaze enduring a torrid time, displaying shaky composure and gifting Oldham their second goal after a horrible misjudgement outside his box to collide with opposition forward Alex Reid.

The defensive frailties on show were reminiscent of last season’s problems where only bottom of the table Dover Athletic conceded more goals (101) than Barnet’s 89. 

Granted, first choice keeper Laurie Walker may have been sidelined with a thigh injury but Brennan’s abrasive reaction to understudy Azaze’s performance underlined the ruthlessness he is trying to instil in Barnet’s previously soft underbelly. 

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“If Laurie (Walker) is not available for the weekend, we need a new goalkeeper in for the game,” Brennan added. 

“It’s not good enough, it’s as simple as that, you can’t be clattering centre-forwards.”

Thankfully Walker was fit to start against Southend, delivering an assured performance that saw Barnet keep a clean sheet on their way to a hard-fought 1-0 win, courtesy of Idris Kanu’s 66th minute strike.

That was the winger’s third goal in as many games with the side not struggling for attacking impetus which also includes top-scorer Nicke Kabamba, Harry Pritchard and Ryan De Havilland.

Joining the ranks on loan from Leyton Orient in January was Harry Smith, who has gone on to score seven goals in his first eight appearances for the club.

Barnet’s best form of defence is arguably their attack, currently sitting third in the scoring charts with 66 goals and only behind runaway promotion pacesetters Wrexham (94) and Notts County (90).

And although this current imbalance has led to some barnstorming score lines including 5-4 and 7-5 defeats to Dagenham & Redbridge and Wrexham respectively, if Brennan was able to somehow shore up their leaky defence then a Play-Off place would surely be guaranteed.

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Injuries to key personnel in Barnet’s backline such as Ben Wynter, Dominic Revan and Danny Collinge haven’t helped but with Brennan suggesting players were set to return in the coming weeks things are looking up.

When asked what success would look like for the rest of the season, Brennan said: “We set a points target at the start of the season and we’re still on for that. If we can achieve that, I think we will make the Play-Offs.”

Regardless of whether Barnet remain on Brennan’s intended target or not, there is certainly optimism around the Hive that the Bees are slowly beginning to buzz once again.

Images of Barnet boss Dean Brennan and Laurie Walker supplied with thanks to Kieran Falcon.

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