Bees In Dreamland – 30/11/14

wolvws1So how was November for you?

Pretty amazing might well be the reply from every Brentford supporter.

In fact it would be impossible to overstate just how incredible this last month has been for the club and fans alike.

We ended October on a bit of a wobble after drawing twice against Wigan and Sheffield Wednesday and losing badly at a revitalised Bolton Wanderers, a defeat which saw us fall into the lower half of the league table and drifting into thirteenth place.

Let’s just put my last sentence in context and attempt to impose a sense of reality as well as manage some inflated expectations before we move on to examine November.

We are talking about a newly promoted team, fresh from the third tier of English football, competing at this level for the first time in over twenty years against a series of massive clubs with recent Premier League experience, and yet there was some concern expressed in some quarters at our so called slump.

Some fans are really unrealistic and hard task masters.

At the start of the season any position outside the bottom three would have been deemed more than acceptable and most pundits felt that we would be a lower middle of the table team at best.

The reality is that once the team gained some self-belief and realised that they were easily good enough to survive and indeed, thrive in the Championship, it became obvious that Brentford would do far better than expected by everyone, except possibly by those within the club.

That being said, margins are so narrow, and several of our ten victories could have ended up in draws or defeats if things had gone slightly differently, and conversely, we could just as easily have won four of the five games that we have lost.

Let’s just stop for a moment and simply savour the fact that by the end of November Brentford have already defeated ten, yes ten, Championship teams, with some really big names amongst our victims:

  1. Blackpool
  2. Rotherham
  3. Brighton
  4. Leeds
  5. Reading
  6. Derby
  7. Nottingham Forest
  8. Millwall
  9. Fulham
  10. Wolves

That is not a bad list to say the least and is an absolutely incredible achievement by a team that is taking the entire football world by storm.

Oh, and by the way this is a mere three victories less than the thirteen gained by Brentford throughout the entire season in 1992/93 when we last played at this level of the game.

November has turned into one of the most memorable and successful months in the club’s history with five consecutive victories, the first time since 1934/35 that the club has achieved this feat in the second tier.

Victories, as I have said, over some impressive names, and we have proved that we have simply gone out and defeated the team that is put out against us on the pitch and not been overawed by their reputation, tradition and heritage.

Five victories that have propelled us into third place in the table, a mere one point behind the leaders, Derby County.

This is nosebleed territory in the extreme, and is an achievement that is totally beyond our experience and expectations, or let’s be frank, our wildest dreams, and frankly one that I still find totally impossible to process.

I just hope that we can remain there long enough for the reality to sink in, and that we continue to simply enjoy our success for as long as it lasts without becoming arrogant and developing raised expectations and a sense of entitlement.

Yesterday’s victory was never quite as convincing as the score suggests but our finishing was devastating and, as normal, we were fitter, better organised and totally outpassed and outworked the opposition.

Mark Warburton unsurprisingly started with an unchanged team, with Fulham match winners Dallas and Jota remaining on the bench, but they would have a similar impact yesterday when they were finally called upon to enter the fray.

Wolves sat back early on and allowed us to play in front of them and we kept possession easily and comfortably without ever managing to hurt our opponents.

The only one hurt was skipper Tony Craig who took an unseen and unpunished elbow from Sako in an aerial challenge which stained the Griffin Park pitch red with his blood.

It was Wolves in fact who came the closest to scoring.

Bakary Sako, who had taken his ridiculous celebratory Swarovski crystal-encrusted boots off after the warm-up, bent a long range free kick narrowly over Button’s crossbar with his more prosaic un-bejewelled pair of Nike’s and the tricky van La Parra got away from Bidwell’s close attentions and his centre beyond the far post was brilliantly met by the straining Danny Graham and his header went – nobody really knows quite where.

It hit the underside of the bar and bounced down over the line according to Wolves, but the man who counted, the assistant referee, was unconvinced and play continued.

A narrow escape and maybe a let-off for Brentford and this was a massive turning point, as Wolves came into the game on a poor run of form and an early goal would surely have revitalised their flagging spirits.

George Saville returned to his old stamping ground, almost literally at times, and he thrashed around the midfield like a human combine harvester and received his customary early booking for an agricultural scythe into Alan Judge and his influence waned like that of the setting sun on what was a quite beautiful mild November afternoon.

For all their possession, Brentford created nothing until they scored.

Finally, on the half hour, Toral picked Evans’s pocket after a Wolves throw in and his persistence was rewarded when his slide rule pass sent Judge in on goal and he sashayed between two defenders at pace before flicking the ball almost contemptuously with the outside of his right foot beyond the helpless Ikeme.

Incredibly it was the Irishman’s first goal of a wonderful season where he has been a massive influence with his nonstop energy, vision and skill.

It was a goal of rapier-like deadliness which skewered the Wolves defence and took the wind totally out of their sails.

Button had one sharp save to make his with legs from Sako but Brentford were now in total command.

Wolves changed their approach in the second half and started pressing us high up the pitch, which resulted in them pinning us into our half for the first twenty minutes without creating much apart from an Edwards effort which went narrowly wide of the near post.

Brentford were playing well within themselves and the introduction of Dallas for Toral resulted in us regaining the initiative and simply changing up into a higher gear, and Wolves simply could not live with us.

Odebajo finally won his crucial battle with Sako and with Golbourne off injured he could finally find the opportunity and space to rampage forward, and as Kenny Jackett ruefully admitted after the match, the more Wolves attacked, the more it was Brentford who looked like scoring.

We sent men pouring forward into the space left behind the advanced Wolves players pressing for an equaliser, and we simply tore them apart with incisive close passing and our pace on the break.

Pritchard and Judge combined menacingly and a Hoddle-esque volleyed pass from Dallas sent Judge rushing into the area and his lobbed volley was acrobatically turned over the bar by the keeper.

The imperious Harlee Dean then won the ball deep in his own half, rampaged upfield, just as he had done against Fulham, and found Pritchard, who, with the ball seemingly tied to his foot, made space for himself, and played the ball across the area beyond the straining Dean, for the unmarked Dallas to score calmly and without fuss.

Harlee has rapidly become a massive influence both in defence and as an auxiliary attacker and, on current form, will take some shifting from the first team.

Wolves’s heads went down and their challenge evaporated.

Brentford now went for the jugular and Judge picked out Gray with a perfectly weighted long pass and the former Wolves youngster took the ball across the edge of the area, shrugged off three defenders and buried a fearsome low strike beyond Ikeme into the far corner.

His was a goal of breathtaking quality which emphasised the gulf in confidence between the two teams. Wolves stood off and just watched and tried to react whilst Brentford ran rings around them and made things happen.

Gray retired to a hero’s ovation, he now believes in his own ability, and with five goals in as many games is developing into both a massive threat and an immense prospect.

jota wolvesHis recent progress just goes to show how well a player can perform when he is given the time and support to grow into an unfamiliar role.

Jota came on for the last few minutes and put the cherry on top with a typical party piece goal which simply emphasied the gulf between the two teams.

Judge it was who slipped him through, and Jota’s angled finish from the edge of the six yard box was perfection personified as he threaded the ball through the eye of the needle into the goal.

So this incredible month is coming to an end and every Brentford supporter must wish that it could continue ad infinitum.

Mark Warburton must surely be named as Manager of the Month given his perfect and unblemished record although Ipswich’s Mick McCarthy could run him close given their four wins and a draw over the same period.

Gray too and maybe Toumani Diagouraga, who was imperious yet again yesterday, might also come into contention for Player of the Month honours.

To receive either or both awards would be wonderful as this is New Brentford, and we no longer worry about tempting fate, but in our heart of hearts we know just how good we are and hopefully the run will continue.

We are certainly good enough to achieve great things this season.

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6 thoughts on “Bees In Dreamland – 30/11/14

  1. Brian MoriartyGray’s goal is a treat. He took down a perfect pass with ease and then seemed to leave three Wolves players for dead. We must must be sensible though,enjoy quietly. Let the glory hunters absorb this as a norm for the future.

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  2. As you rightly say, dreamland…

    you know those times when you’re having a good dream, and some part of your unconscious is saying ‘I know this is a dream, just don’t let it stop’. This season, and particularly this month, has been an ever continuing dream. The alarm clock hasn’t rung, your partner hasn’t shifted around, there’s been no extraneous noises to wake you up.

    And when I do eventually wake up, I’ll find that we really have won 5 games on the trot, sat a point off the lead. But, I want the dream to carry on. So, stop all the clocks, prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone, silence the pianos and let us keep sleeping and dreaming.

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  3. This morning I ventured out to get my usual 3 sunday newspapers only when I got home for my wife to say to me ‘ I presume you have bought every tabloid just to read about brentford’ and indeed without realising I had bought six sunday papers. Yesterday I arrived at Griffin Park and again spent the first five minutes looking around the old ground in awe at how many people had come to Watch the game. And then I witnessed 90 minutes of team work, determination, ability, flare, and I felt this was done by a team that seems to really care about the supporters. That may sound somewhat romantic as any one player could be gone next week however this was always going to be a hard month and we have shown that not only are we capable of chasing the dizzy heights of playing football in the premiership but I sense that we have also proved in recent weeks that as a unit this team can still give 100% in defeat as well as victory. I feel at the moment thats all I can say as it seems after each performance I seem to be finding it hard to find the words about how I feel. Perhaps winning promotion last season for me has just sunk in so I’m still playing catch up lol but hey what a fantastic month and I hope come January we have had a fantastic December. …:)

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  4. I didn’t get to the Wolves game but had already mentally chalked it off as being likely to be the end of our run while taking my son and friends out for his 8th birthday. I couldn’t quite believe the scoreline when I checked after all the cake had been eaten!

    We’ll be at Huddersfield and I hope we can carry the run on – if we win, we’ll have accumulated as many points as Yeovil managed all last season (a matter of pride for me not only because they deprived us of promotion the season before but also because our old next door neighbour in Leeds is a Yeovil fan and it’ll be a supreme test of resolve to let him remind me of it rather than vice versa!).

    Watching the highlights of our game on YouTube and comparing them to the featured games on FLS I wonder if it is only my partiality as a Bee or is it that we really do look to play better football than most clubs in the division. It doesn’t quite sit right after all the years of watching dross under the likes of Wally Downes and Terry Butcher. I thought that our team under Coppell was the best I’d ever see, but frankly I reckon the current crop would destroy the team of 01-02.

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