I know how fed up I often get reading some of my own words back, so I can only imagine what it must be like for everybody else. I have therefore been trying to encourage other voices to make themselves heard on this blog, and today I am thrilled to say that Mick Cabble, star of screen and stage, or at least Bees Player and the Griffin Park Grapevine, has kindly provided his own overview of this remarkable season, as well as his take on the current state of affairs at Brentford Football Club, and I really hope that you all enjoy his words as much as I did.
It may seem an odd title for an article on a blog covering football and all things Brentford. But if you took a snap shot of a Mark Warburton post match interview these are my favourite quotes that tend to crop up as regularly as an Alan Judge cross field pass. If we lose a game Warbs’s defence becomes more rigid than Harlee and Tarky were on Saturday with a “we have to learn from this,” and when we bounce back from a defeat or set back it is a “testament to the character” of the team.
It’s clever tactics and media skills from the Breadman, but whilst some may construe these quotes as just standard sound bites to answer questions professionally, a more pertinent question that could be aired after three defeats in eight days and being hustled out of the FA Cup by Brighton yesterday in an otherwise stain-free season could be: what are the lessons from the first half of the season and what we need to do differently?
One thing about being a newly promoted team in a higher league is the level of expectation, as when we rolled up in August to entertain Charlton, an element of trepidation was in the air and after sweating towards an honourable one-all draw the talk was that every point towards fifty was going be a challenge.
In reality the Bees have breezed through the first part of the season, amassing forty points by the halfway stage. Teams came to Griffin Park expecting to weather a storm from “little old Brentford” and break us down and take the points, whereas in reality the lesson we learnt quickly was that our standard of pass and move and football was giving the other teams the run around. We were good, no, we were very good and we picked up points as easily as pop stars pick up groupies, but we did it with far more class.
Quickly it became apparent; we were better on the ball than Birmingham, more attacking than Leeds, more clinical than Reading. We then proceeded to floor Derby, outclass Forest. We outmuscled and outfought Millwall in their own Den, smashed and broke Fulham and tore apart Wolves before dissecting Blackburn and leaving Cardiff dazzled by our stars with a first half from the footballing heavens. We were good and better on the day than all these so-called big names.
We had learnt we were playing the team, not the name on the shirt or the tradition and following these Championship giants have. We were the new boys on the block and openly strutting our stuff, and, as Warburton would tell, us it was testament to the players and the back room staff that the belief was carrying us to new heights and that there was no limit to where this team could go.
So after getting a taste of our own medicine against a good organised Ipswich side and losing games we have dominated against Wolves and on Saturday against Brighton, what should we be doing differently? Well the evidence is we score goals for fun, with forty netted already, but Bournemouth crashed through the seventy goal barrier at Rotherham to show us we are good but not prolific, so whilst Warburton is attack minded we are not converting our healthy possession statistics into chances converted.
Andre Gray, who has surpassed expectations with his goals tally this year has had three poor games and the heat and strain was showing against Brighton as he snatched, skewed and generally found good positions to miss from. The fact Warbs did not trust Big Nick told us all we needed to know, Proschwitz is on borrowed time more than game time and we need a suitable back up for Andre to help the youngster up.
Also we have started to let goals in like a swinging gate. A clean sheet is as rare as a Big Nick start. Dean, Craig and Tarkowski have been playing pass the parcel with the ball at the back like a hot potato since Christmas, as well as a game of musical chairs, as they all take turns to sit in the two positions at centre back. Nobody is holding down a place with any confidence as the goals fly in and it looks like a new centre half will be required to calm the nerves and help find the most suitable pairing.
But other than that, do we need to be doing anything differently? From this viewpoint at the back of New Road, no we don’t. Pass and move, easy on the eye, high intensity football that we have been waiting a lifetime for, to quote a good football manager, as long as when we get the odd setback we “learn from this” then I’m sure our results and football will finish with our highest placing in the football league for sixty seasons, and that my fellow Bees will be a “testament to the character” of the players and more importantly to our manager and his trademark quotes.
It’s a simple game football, but we play a purer game than most, we are a work in progress and with Warburton’s tweaks and new additions this Brentford team is going to create a few more surprises along the way before the blossom falls. These are great times, but you feel the fun has only just begun.
I have been a little bit down ever since we threw Saturday’s match away, but after reading Mick’s wise and wonderful words, which bear testimony to his sharp analysis and deep knowledge of all things Brentford, there is a new spring in my step and the smile is back on my face.
His optimism and positivity is contagious and I am now looking forward to next Saturday’s match with renewed optimism.