What a Week! – 9/11/14

mwall1Today I would like every Brentford fan to try and recall some of the more recent disasters and horror shows in our history.

I will start you off with a few that remain etched indelibly in my mind.

  • Bristol City away in 1993
  • The Dean Holdsworth/Murray Jones fiasco
  • Our seven, yes, seven, unsuccessful Playoff campaigns
  • Not turning up for the three Cup Finals against Wigan, Port Vale and Carlisle
  • The Queens Park Rangers, David Webb and Ron Noades sagas that threatened to kill our beloved club
  • Conceding seven goals at Peterborough

Please take a few minutes to fill in the gaps and add your own “favourites” to my initial rogues gallery – offloading is healthy and good for the soul.

There certainly have been many occasions when we have justifiably felt cursed as Brentford supporters and we have certainly had much to bemoan our lot about.

Then comes a week like the one that has just ended when you realise that in reality we are totally blessed in our choice of football club.

Seven days ago the doubts were beginning to creep in after a run of three games without a win.

Granted, we should have won at Wigan, and the Sheffield Wednesday game was an even tussle that could have gone either way, but we had just come off a listless and disorganised performance at Bolton where we had got precisely what we had deserved – nothing, and with the prospect of three ridiculously tough matches in a seven day period against Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Millwall, the prospect of our slight dip in form turning into a slump loomed menacingly over our heads.

We really shouldn’t have worried.

This is New Brentford we are talking about.

This morning we can reflect and look back with pride on seven momentous and unparalleled days that have seen us win all three matches, gain nine points, score eight goals and climb proudly into the Playoff places in the Championship table.

Not a bad way to go into yet another International Break! wall2

Who knows where we will finish in the league come next May, as the table remains compressed and bunched up with only Blackpool becoming marooned at the bottom.

The margin between success and failure is so slim, but these three victories have ensured that the every Brentford player is now bursting with confidence and self-belief and recognises that the team is fully capable of performing, and indeed thriving, at this exalted level of he game.

Confidence must never be permitted to develop into complacency or arrogance but the players appear to be totally grounded and I cannot see Mark Warburton or David Weir allowing that dangerous situation to occur.

As for yesterday, Brentford simply shrugged off the loss through suspension of Jonathan Douglas, recognised by Millwall manager Ian Holloway as our best player, and totally dominated the first half of the game.

Toumani Diagouraga is a man reborn, in fact he seems to have switched identities with the Patrick Vieira of a decade ago.

He was everywhere. Protecting the back four, winning a series of crunching tackles, using the ball simply and effectively, but he has added a real confidence and even swagger to his game which he demonstrated by beating players and pulling off some perfectly weighted longer passes which have never before been seen in his armoury.

This is what self-belief can do, he is a totally different player who has improved five-fold over the course of the past few weeks and this can only be down to his own hard work and dedication as well as the efforts of the manager and his coaching staff. mw3

From being a peripheral figure, on the verge of leaving the club, he is now our undisputed first pick and is rapidly becoming indispensable.

Maybe a new contract might be in the offing, or perhaps it is best to keep him hungry for a little while longer?

It was instructive and illuminating to watch the first half from behind our goal as it enabled us to appreciate our pattern of play and the way in which play developed and our midfield switched positions and kept possession of the ball.

The opening forty-five minutes saw us put on a footballing masterclass.

Orchestrated by Pritchard and Judge and with Toral playing just behind Gray, we threatened to run amok and tear huge swathes in a a poor Millwall back line with the lumbering Shittu and Beevers struggling to keep up with the electric pace of the turbocharged Andre Gray.

Bidwell and Jota combined elegantly, Moses petrified them with his speed moving forward and the aforementioned Toral has taken to the Championship like a duck to water, an astonishing achievement for a player so young and inexperienced.

He is going to be key to our success as he develops throughout the season and will soon make us forget all about Adam Forshaw.

Signing both him and the rapidly improving Alex Pritchard is probably a pipedream, but they are both adding immeasurably to our team.

Whilst Toral seems to enjoy a hard tackle and putting his foot in, the penny finally seems to have dropped with Pritchard, who in addition to his silky skills, is now covering, pressing and tacking back like a demon.

Jota promised more than he delivered and the final ball was often a tad too ambitious, but that will come, however what pleased me the most about his performance yesterday was the moment when he tracked back early in the second half, supported Bidwell and dispossessed the Millwall right back down by our corner flag, before setting us off on the attack again.

His team mates fully appreciated and acknowledged his efforts and he is rapidly becoming integrated into the squad.

Alan Judge played a more central role yesterday and was always buzzing around and it was his perfect through ball that set up Gray for the second goal.

Despite all their first half domination, the goal would not come and indeed, it was the home team, who had been totally second best and unable to maintain any meaningful possession, given the quality of our covering and pressing, who came the closest but Button made an exceptional blocking save from a close range Martin effort.

Finally it all came good and Moses, Diagouraga and Pritchard combined perfectly, and Alex’s cleverly disguised pass put Gray through and he shrugged off the limpet-like Beevers, desperately hanging onto his shirt, to finish emphatically.

We had the lead and it was no more than we deserved.

Millwall slunk off the pitch at the interval shell shocked by our superiority and with the boos of the home supporters ringing in their ears.

They had worn a special commemorative kit to mark Remembrance Sunday but they were more invisible than camouflaged.

They are not used to being totally outplayed at home, but there was more to come when Judge seized on a loose ball thirty-five yards out after more careless play by the home team and Gray scored his second cooly and calmly as he ran in unopposed on goal.

Perhaps we took our foot off the gas and relaxed, but the game immediately turned on its head for no apparent reason as Millwall raised themselves from the dead to score twice in the blink of an eye.

The first was a strange one, Shittu’s slow, looping header from beyond the far post seemed to be merely catching practice for Button, but perhaps distracted by the close attentions of Gregory, he dropped the ball on to the striker from where it rebounded into the goal.

Game on, and then came another hammer blow when the ball was laid back to Dunne on the edge of the area and his instant shot found the bottom corner.

It could have been worse when Millwall had a man over on the left wing and the totally unmarked Gregory hit the post with a free header when he should have scored.

Five minutes of total madness and further evidence, if it was really needed, of just how tough every opponent can be in this division.

Millwall had been hanging onto the ropes, now with the crowd revitalised they threatened to take control of a game that they had never really been in.

This is where we showed our organisation and sheer guts.

Craig and Dean ensured that we coped with the constant barrage of high balls launched like mortar shells into our box and Diagouraga and Judge wrested back control of the midfield.

We weathered the storm and started to probe again.

Gray’s instant twenty yard volley was fumbled by Forde and trickled just past the post before Toral’s perfectly weighted pass sent Gray away on the right flank and his low cross was bundled home by a combination of Shittu and the straining Harlee Dean.

A goal that was received with thunderous celebration by the packed ranks of Brentford supporters who knew we had survived the worst of the Millwall onslaught.

Warburton made three important substitutions as Toral, Pritchard and Jota had run themselves into the ground but the changes revitalised us with Dallas using his pace and power to stretch and occupy the Millwall back line, Smith holding the ball and making space and, best of all Sam Saunders came on for his Championship debut after ten months of injury hell.

He was simply Sam, coolness personified.

He was everywhere, winning the ball, using it, dribbling past opponents and even having a trademark long range shot.

Welcome back Sam.

We have missed you and he will add so much experience and composure to our squad.

We held on comfortably enough although Button redeemed himself with a couple of brave blocks and Gray was only denied a hat trick by the assistant’s flag.

A famous and totally deserved victory earned by our skill on the ball, composure, devastating finishing ability and non-stop pressing.

Gray has now scored four goals in a week and is rapidly demonstrating just how good he is and I suspect we have barely scratched the surface with him.

Ian Holloway was magnanimous enough to recognise and acknowledge our ability and in his immortal words we are no longer “Little Old Brentford.”

No we most certainly are not.

We are still a team who is learning and developing and there is so much more to come from all of them.

We have a team spirit and a will to win and support each other that is second to none, as well as a wonderful management and coaching team.

We now go into the International Break when tired limbs can be rested and revived, and then we will be ready and prepared to go again with the Fulham match looming on the horizon.

This season just keeps getting better and better.

We are in total dreamland, but it really is happening.

This is no fluke and we are the real deal because of our sheer ability, hard work, preparation and determination to learn and continue to improve, as well as keep our feet firmly planted on the ground.

Long may we remain hidden underneath the radar, but I suspect those days are about to end.

This is our blueprint for success and given our approach there is so much more to come.

What a week!

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7 thoughts on “What a Week! – 9/11/14

  1. Thanks for the excellent match report Greville. Not for the first time, technology let me down on Saturday – the stream and Beesplayer were only intermittently available and I had to resort to the Sky goal updates on the telly. Your report filled in so many blanks.

    Like you, I feel that we’ve made a brilliant start. Nine points last week when we could easily have ended up with none was fantastlic, but there’s still a long way to go and a lot can happen between now and the end of the season. My first reaction on seeing the table on Saturday night was ‘hell, we’re sixth’. My second was to work out that we only needed abiut another 23 points odd from 29 games to be safe.

    So I’m not getting ahead of myself. But there’s an elephant in the room. No one wants to mention the P word, but it’s not beyond the bounds of possibilty that we may actually nurdle our way into a play-off spot. It’s a close race and there’s no dominant team(s). If we did, why not eighth time lucky? Ir’s a lottery after all, and we’re due one.

    How do you feel about the possibilityt?

    ‘m torn. I’d obviously accept promotion at the drop of a hat. But I wonder whether it would be in the longer terrn interest of the club if it happened this year. Griffin Park is unsuitable for Premier League football, The new stadium won’t be ready until 2017 according to current estimates. We’d have to neotgiatate a groundHare, pay for the privilege, and lose income as a result of being tenants ellsewhere. Invevitably. less atmosphere. No fortress Brentford.

    This is not an old fashioned ‘nah, they don’t want to go up’ kind of comment. But I;d rather hear about Brentford’s three year record in the Premier League against Manchester Utd/./ Arsenal / Spurs / Chelsea rather than onw season of crash and burn. However, even that is better than nothing at all.. There’s no way of telling what the future will bring. I’ll happily take the opportunties if they come.

    Hence my confusion. With hindsight, losing to Doncaster amd Yeovil turmed out to be a good thing, however much it hurt at the time. Much better prepared for the Championhip this year. But of course, we now know what happened the folliowing year. At the time, we could only feel the pain.

    I can;t help feeling that the prospect of promotion this year scares the bejeesus out of me. But before then, theere’s the small matter of picking up those 23 points for safety. and 16th woudl still be fine and dandy, just as it was at the beginning of the season, althougjh on the evidence so far, we’re much better than that.

    Was I dreaming or did Holloway tip us as an outside bet for promotiion? I hope no one is listening to him, because the longer we stay under the radar….

    .

    Like

    • What am I thinking of?

      The mere fact that I’m worrying about the prospect of playing in the Premier League, rather than wondering about what Comference football might be like, all in the space of seven years, says it alll.

      What progress. Carpe diem. Being promoted too early ia auch a luxury probem !

      But let’s get those 23 points first..

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  2. Andre, we are all in dreamland at the moment and have no idea in which direction we are heading.

    What will be will be, let’s just enjoy the journey.

    All I will say is that we played far better at Forest and Millwall than we did against Derby.

    We are just getting better every game, or so it seems.

    Like

    • well this win i think is really important this win at millwall !says even more for me than the wins against derby or Forest going to places likes this shows just what potential the Bees have and is a good pointer for the coming games in the winter . come My bees and yes in the back of our minds we are all thinking the same but mums the word lol

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  3. My personal lowpoint was an ice-cold midweek November evening during Eddie May’s tenure (1997-ish?) spent watching us go down 0-1 to Carlisle in front of the ‘hardcore’ ~3,000. I think we were relegated that season, & the writing was on the wall even at that early stage – the Bees were truly awful.

    This season, on the other hand, has been a total joy 🙂

    Like

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