Keep Calm! – 22/9/14

boro1Well, it was all going so well – an hour gone last Tuesday night and we were in control of the match against Norwich, pressing hard for the opening goal which looked certain to arrive at any moment.

One point seemed likely to be the minimum reward for all our efforts and we looked like ending up with a potential four, or maybe even six point return from two really difficult matches against Brighton and Norwich, both sides likely to be promotion challengers.

Then the roof fell in.

An unforced defensive error, a refereeing howler and the Norwich game slipped through our hands, albeit unjustly, but such are the whims of the footballing Gods.

Brentford travelled to another one of the Championship elite in Middlesbrough on Saturday, hoping to right the ship, but returned with their tail firmly between their legs after suffering a four goal hiding that, from all accounts, could easily have been more.

This was also the first time a Mark Warburton team has lost successive matches.

So what now, and where do we go from here?

Firstly we need to put things into perspective.

Brighton, Norwich and Middlesbrough were always going to present a tough challenge, and three points out of the nine on offer, and one and a half excellent performances out of three is probably as much as any of us supporters really expected beforehand.

That being said, seven goals conceded and none scored in our last two hours of play is a worrying record to say the least.

It would be easy to write Saturday off as being simply a bad day at the office, and, indeed, maybe that is all it was.

We play a high tempo, energetic, pressing game and two full-on matches followed by a journey to the other end of he country left the squad tired and leggy and lacking their customary verve and brio.

I am sure that there will be a reaction from the players and a much improved performance next week against a revitalised Leeds United team.

This league is totally unforgiving, there really is no such thing as a easy game in the Championship, and next Saturday’s match will provide yet another stern test, and if that isn’t difficult enough, we then visit neighbours Watford for a keenly awaited local derby against yet another team aiming for promotion.

Most importantly, we have to avoid feeling sorry for ourselves at all costs.

Even though we can’t buy a decision from referees at the moment, we simply have to keep our heads up and continue playing the way that we have been doing as it has brought us sustained success for the past couple of years.

I remember Richard Lee saying in his book that if you keep losing but continue to do exactly the same thing in both matches and preparation, then you cannot expect results to change.

That certainly isn’t the case with Brentford’s situation at present.

Yes, there are many things we need to improve upon in terms of defending tighter, protecting the ball better and being more clinical in the final third, but these merely require tweaks to our current system rather than major changes.

That well-known philosopher Martin Allen would always warn players and fans alike not to pop the pills when results go badly, or conversely, glug the champagne when you are winning.

Sage advice, as it’s crucial to keep things in perspective and recognise just how narrow are the margins between success and failure.

Things can change in an instant and it won’t take much for Brentford to get back onto the winning trail.

Frankly, Saturday’s match was the first one all season where the Bees were clearly second best.

In the previous seven games either team could have come out on top as the advantage seesawed and veered dramatically as the minutes unfolded.

So what changes will Mark Warburton make for the next match?

Very few I suspect, given that the whole team seemed to have a collective off-day on Saturday.

Odubajo, Judge, Jota and Pritchard will be expected to be less profligate with the ball, stop turning it over so easily and make things happen.

A bit more defensive cover from them would also be appreciated.

There could be a return for the hard running of Stuart Dallas, and, if match fit, Betinho might well challenge for his full debut.

I can’t see a fundamental change with two strikers starting a match together although I think there will come a time when this needs to be tried out.

Teams have to defend from the front and if the ball keeps being given away by the attackers then the defence will come under continuous pressure with the likelihood of drastic results.

This is what happened at Middlesbrough and it cannot reoccur next Saturday.

Both full backs were left isolated and exposed and need midfielders to track back and provide additional cover.

I do wonder if the manager might decide to play Alan McCormack in midfield alongside Jonathan Douglas, a move that will provide us with far more bark and bite and one that looked very promising against Norwich City.

If so, who will play at right back?

Moses is surely wasted there but Nico Yennaris is currently unavailable through injury.

Jon Toral might also be a decent long shot to start as he is a tireless runner, blessed with great ability, who makes things happen.

Perhaps he is seen as the eventual Adam Forshaw replacement as we lack a real box-to-box player at present.

I wrote just before the start of the season that three into two doesn’t go, (https://bfctalk.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/three-into-two-doesnt-go-2814/)

and there is yet another decision to be made regarding the two central defenders.

deanTony Craig has not played since his dismissal against Birmingham a month ago and I think it is time to bring the skipper back.

His experience, calmness under pressure and leadership have never been needed more than now.

Having a left footed centre half also makes us more balanced.

This is certainly no reflection upon Harlee Dean who, as always, has given everything to the cause, but has been guilty of some rash decisions that have proved costly.

Harlee wears his heart on his sleeve and his post match interview on Saturday simply demonstrated his passion and hatred of losing.

Neither are bad things, but engaging your brain before opening your mouth is always advisable and he came close to making direct criticisms of his team mates which might not have been well received within the dressing room, and it might be expedient to take him out of the firing line for a spell.

The good news is that the squad now has a full week before the next game and can spend quality time on the training field to retrench, recover and regain their strength, shape and confidence.

It is not about licking wounds, but much more about tinkering with a few things and reminding players about their responsibilities and, indeed, what they have previously proved that they can do so well.

They have already demonstrated that they are more than good enough to compete successfully at this level, but everyone needs to be on form and on top of their game against Leeds United.

Roll on next Saturday!

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10 thoughts on “Keep Calm! – 22/9/14

  1. Nailed it absolutely,no need to panic, just some tweaks.We’ll lose a few, but sometimes it’ill click (why not on Saturday?).and then we’ll tonk someone rather than the other way around.

    If I could go back in time and choose one pllayer from the past, I’d go for the 21 year old Herman Hreidarsson we signed in 1998. Left footed, comfortable on the ball, worth about 5 or 6 goals a season, and wasted on the hoof Brentford of the time.. Where can we find his like nowadays?

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    • Easy to write and say “don’t panic” but I’m a Brentford fan so I am a bit concerned this week and pray we recover next Saturday.

      I am concerned about our lack of goal threat and also the need for a box to box midfielder but think that Toral might fill that gap.

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      • As you say, easy to write ‘don’t panic’ but hard not to do so after 40+ years of Brentford.I ‘m trying to break a lifetime’s habit and stay positive To alleviate my own risk of panic, I reckon:

        (1) Where we are now is where I would have settled for pre-season. If we are still six points clear of relegation, with three games to go, it would be just fine and dandy.

        (2) no point in crying over spilt Forshaws. Let’s move on.

        (3) Brentford are at least four, perhaps five players away from a team that could push for promotion. But they’re not relegation fodder either. However, not the finished article by any means.

        (4) whatever the result against Leeds, it won’t decide the season. There’s still seven months and 37 games to go.

        (5) And frankly, can we forget about Fulham? Obvoiusly, great games to win, but I’d rather we finished 10 points behind them and get thrashed both times and still stay up, than 10 points ahead, win both games, and go down nonetheless. It’s not about them.

        (6) and finally, I have faith in the namagement team Something I could not say about the 1993/94 lot.

        That’s why I’m not panicking yet,despite Brentford instincts kicking in. It’s that 3am feeling, when you wake up and everyhting in the world seems blackest. We were tonked by Middlesbrough but less than 12 months ago we lost badly to Stevenage. No comparison. Onwards and upwards, but with a few hiccoughs along the way.

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  2. BTW – the Fulham reference is not aimed at you, because you haven’t mentioned it.

    Just that there will be a huge focus when we play them Understandable perhps, but it’s two games out of 46. Love to win them, obviously, but in the greater scheme of things Bees just need to fninsh 21st or higher, and it doesn’t matter how they get the points.

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  3. Thanks Andre, and as always, or always to date(!!) you speak sound good sense.

    It is all about survival this season and providing lots of entertainment.

    Bragging rights would also be nice but are certainly secondary to our main objectives.

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  4. hello MR Waterman
    I just been watching the liverpool match in the league cup against brentfords last league opponents Middlesbourgh this brings back memorys when in september 1974 brentford were drawn away in the second round of the league cup.MIke everitt took me along as 13 man that day I sat on bench that night and watched how close we nearly beat The mighty Liverpool that night yes us little Brentford.thou kevin keegan did not play that night i remember i was outside our teams dressing room and he spoke to me and asked if i would like a look around the trophy room with him and did i jump at this opportunity Thou still a young apprentice i only really relised (recently just what luck i had in such a short time to live a dream)this and other things like actully siting on the bench at anfield and yes seeing as i went up the tight stairway and seeing THIS ANFIELD before taking my place on the bench with the rest of the STAFF.THou we lost 2-1 the total respect of all the Liverpool players which i experienced was not the same everwhere for us brentford players.We did not travel back that night which was rare at that time nearly always after away matches we traveled back to brentford on long coach journeys.deep iinto the early morning.That night we stayed at a hotel and were invited by the liverpool players to join them at a night club great stars but great men.This was a exception thou fearfully proud to be a bee somtimes it was very hard with the way somme people in the football world would say OH BRENTFORD THERE was a time just before signing at 15 for Brentford i was selected for England under 15 schoolboys trials along with kevin hardingfor one week at Bisham Abby .We both signed schoolboy forms for Brentford at 13 or 14 years old and played for hounslow schools.So here we were with other under 15 like ray lewington butch wilkens etc which with others who were on schoolboy forms with chelsea arsenal OPR ect5 Who later the year after we would play against in the SE counties league we some great players like roy cotton etc .THOU most of our team were all non contract players we would be up against the likes of chelsea arsenal who would have 12 ou 14 apprentinces in there side but our team BRENTFORD won respect if antthing.Anyway going back to the england trials we were all asked with whom we have signed school boy forms from the england training staff well theres was the same chelsea arsenal opr etc and us two BRENTFORD well there was a AH but we were always proud to pull on that red and white shirt I think from the first time when we had school boys when MR BLunstone first restarted training us youngster when 12 or 13 in the school holidays and before signing as apprentices at 15 were how can i say made to feel proud to belong to Brentford FCand this was install by all the diffrent training staff an the proffesional players who trained us as well .When we signed apprentice at 15 we played in the SE counties league u18 championship which had a lot of the first divison under 18 side which were full of apprentices .Our home match were played at ruslip town ground not on the theres first team pitch but on the one just next ti it with a slope worst than the old yeovil town ground.We had a great team who more than defended Brentford FC everyone was proud to pull on that shirt At the end of the season we were invited to the youth tournment in Frankfort Germany with lots of internationals teams which we won on a pentalities shoot out(YES we must had been as still one of the first english teams to win a pentalities shoot out lol) which i was proud to say the last shot was from me and as well as wining the competition i finished top goal scorer of the tournament a got a reward .Thou coming back with the trophy there was only a little picture in the Middlesex chronicle as if in the board room at Brentford they were well its only Brentford i do not know how to put it.all the playing staff and mangers really made you feel part of somthing and to be proud but up staires!as i said when we played our youth matches when the first team were at home there was always some of the players cheering us on as we played the saturday mornings.One who was always theres was jackie graham yes great bloke i remember when i scored my first team goal against bradford i turned and started running back to the centre circle there was one strong scottish voice saying stop running son enjoy the monment it was MR Graham such a hard and great competitive on the pitch as well when we had Scotland VEngland matches in training lol thou i hope he wont mind me saying this was a man not afraid at anything but the dreaded needle when each year we had a flu injection lol forgive me Mr Graham lol. SO as you say MR Waterman all you Brentford fans KEEP CALM you earn respect and well never forget where we come from YES Brentford but a proud Brentford who for one will never forget what they gave me when i was that stary eyed youngest to belong to something which is called BRENTFORD FC thank ALL MR Blunstone MR CHADWICK MR Everitt and many more people behind brentford fc at my time i was there. I think at the time all i experinced liverpool Lincoln bradford etc i did not see how lucky i was thou it was not with brentford i made my league debut in the league cup for Watford at CRYSTAL PACE which we won thou the next round i played against sheffield WED AT hillsbourgh so many places and diffrent people i crossed in my time with brentford and Watford (EXAMPLE the president ELTON JOHN) brentford gave me such a good base which even to this day helps me in my life

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    • Whatever ups and downs the next 40 years have in store for the club (and I hope there’s more of the former), I really hope we never leave behind the essence that prompted Richard’s post and the reason why we continue to follow this club, and that in forty years time some of the current players will be able to write about their time at the club in the same heartfelt and moving fashion.

      And, for the avoidance of doubt, that’s not a tear in the corner of my eye – just a bit of grit. Honest.

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      • I have written 3 blogs featuring Richard’s posts and tomorrow will see a fourth. I might well even include what you just wrote too!

        I would love to meet him if we came over to England. He sounds a wonderful guy.

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