Ten Games In – The Verdict! – 4/10/15

For once the M1 was kind to us and the drive to and from Derby was swift, incident free and almost pleasant. If only we could have said the same about what came between both journeys and totally spoiled the day.

To develop the travel theme a bit more, apparently Derby striker Darren Bent was caught in traffic and was left out of the squad after his late arrival, not that his team needed him on the day. As for the Brentford team – they never turned up.

The Bees were second best from the first whistle and subsided without much of a fight to a two-nil defeat by a Derby County team that despite three consecutive away victories were still searching for their first victory in front of their own supporters.

Had the Bees even tried to start the game on the front foot and put the home team under any sort of pressure then they might well have caused problems and quieted a slightly nervous and apprehensive home crowd but as it was they were forced back from the opening whistle and the only surprise was that it took almost twenty minutes for Chris Martin to score.

A second followed just before the interval from Tom Ince and with better finishing and a more measured final pass Derby might well have run up a cricket score as they found space and time on both flanks and tore us open on numerous occasions and were in total control for the overwhelming majority of the match.

David Button was his customary heroic self and Dean and Tarkowski did their level best to make up for the myriad deficiencies exhibited by those in front of them although Dean was caught ball-watching for the first goal and he was left marking fresh air as Martin’s well-timed run gave him an easy chance to score.

Brentford were slow on the ball, timid and lethargic in their general approach, showed little or no incision and lost possession with monotonous regularity.

The lower than normal possession stat of a mere forty-six percent highlighted their main problem and weakness on the day. This really did not look like a Brentford team as we know it out there but eleven ill-matched strangers who had been cobbled together at the last minute.

As is now customary the midfield was neither fish nor fowl, providing little protection for the beleaguered defence and creating nothing of substance for the isolated Vibe and Djuricin who were forced to feed off scraps.

Vibe barely touched the ball in a performance of shocking ineptitude and his only real contribution apart from shooting wastefully wide early on was to shriek in vain for a foul when dispossessed deep in home territory when cleanly tackled and twenty seconds later he was still on the ground and the ball was in the back of our net as Derby broke from defence with with pace, intent and incision.

Woods worked hard and kept going to the end without much end result but Diagouraga was submerged as we were outgunned and outfought in the middle of the field. Swift came on for the last quarter and showed that he has skill on the ball and can see a pass and he will be an asset to us when he settles in.

For the home team, Bradley Johnson and George Thorne combined size and strength with footballing ability that we could not match. In comparison, we looked small, weak and frail and lacking in overall stamina and fitness without the skill to compensate, and were knocked off the ball far too easily and barely won a challenge or second ball all afternoon.

Last season we were similarly lacking in strength and brute force but it hardly mattered as you have to catch somebody before you are able to kick them up in the air and we possessed far too much pace and pure ability for most teams to bully us. Now the situation has changed as we are slow and ponderous and are being outplayed as well as outfought week after week.

Gogia and Judge started the match on the wings but were starved of possession and this was surely a day for a 4-3-3 formation as we were far too open and outnumbered in midfield.

Canos flitted in and out of the match when he replaced Gogia after the break but we only threatened – and spasmodically at that – when Hofmann replaced Vibe. He did well, held the ball up, even won the odd aerial challenge and at last gave us a target to aim at upfront. He came close twice, forcing Carson into a plunging save and seeing a late effort hacked off the line but we were well beaten on a day when we again resembled an overmatched and outclassed lower division team.

This was a terrible, spineless and abject performance against a decent team who were made to look far better than they really are by our disorganisation, failure to get the basics right and total ineptitude.

It is only a few short months ago since we played pretty much the same Derby team off the pitch in a performance packed full of confidence and brio but we are now a mere shadow of that team and those days are sadly long since gone and show no sign of returning in the immediate future.

Ten matches in is quite long enough for us to have a fair idea of how the season is likely to turn out and there is absolutely no point in my mincing my words.

We are currently in free fall and on the evidence of the last couple of games there is every chance of us plummeting straight back to Division Two unless the slide is reversed – and quickly, before what little confidence that remains drains away.

It does not take much to pinpoint what is going wrong both on and off the pitch but it is far harder to understand how to turn things around.

I have no intention of repeating the words that I have written so often over the last couple of months – words that come so easily now that they almost seem to write themselves. We all know about the ravages of Financial Fair Play, our lack of resources in comparison with the rest of the league and our utterly ridiculous injury list but despite all of these obstacles we are beginning to look a shambles of a club.

We botched the recruitment process for the Head Coach in the Summer and the club has at least held its hand up and rectified the problem before it got out of control. Then came the short term appointment of Lee Carsley and his unfortunate post match interview on Tuesday that further put the cat amongst the pigeons.

That being said our two worst performances have come since the departure of Duikhuizen, two defeats where we have barely looked like scoring and the body language of the players today spoke volumes.

It is trite and far too easy to say that matters will improve when we get our long-term injured players back. I am now not so sure as only Jota, who will take time to regain match fitness, and McEachran have any experience of this level of the game.

Our new foreign players resemble nothing more than rabbits caught in headlights as they have been thrown in and are currently well out of their depth and struggling to cope with the relentless mental and physical demands of the Championship. Are they good enough? Well the jury is still out and whilst Colin, Barbet, Vibe and Djuricin have all flickered into life spasmodically, far too much is being asked of them too soon and it is quite frankly unfair to expect too much of any of them.

We now have a welcome respite and a break of two weeks before what is now turning into a massively important match against Rotherham, a team that currently looks as if it will be competing with us to fill one of the three dreaded relegation spots.

So what do we do in the next fortnight or so to ensure that we arrest the slump?

Here are my suggestions, none of which are likely to make me popular with the powers that be at the club:

  1. Look to bring in an older head to mentor and support Lee Carsley. Somebody like Steve Coppell would be ideal for the role. He would command instant respect and be able to provide a wealth of experience and football knowledge that is sadly lacking throughout the club at the moment. Steve Perryman fulfils a similar position with Paul Tisdale at Exeter City and adds massive value. In truth I would really welcome a new Head Coach from outside to provide a fresh voice, outlook and perspective but I fear and suspect that is a step too far at the moment despite it being a seemingly obvious move
  2. I would offer our two Co-Directors of Football some external assistance too. Someone similar to Andrew Mills (now working at Millwall) who knows the English game inside out and has extensive contacts with agents, managers and coaches and can ensure that we are offered the right players and that we get the deals done for the right price without waste or extravagance. It might also be that come January we could be looking to move some players on too and we need someone experienced in handling such a difficult situation and getting players out of the door
  3. Compromise our ideals a little bit given our current circumstances and try and find, hard though it will be, a couple of battle hardened, wizened veterans who can become teachers and leaders, things that we currently lack both on the pitch and at the training ground. I can still remember a gnarled Jimmy Gabriel coming to us back in 1974. He could barely run or move around the pitch but he inspired a young team to play above themselves and avoid the threat of re-election
  4. More controversially, find a couple of independent non-executive directors, men of substance and experience who are not beholden to Matthew Benham, who will have the forcefulness of character and the strength of mind to make their opinions heard at Board Meetings so that the Owner’s wishes are not just nodded through but their implications are discussed and fully thought through before a decision is made. Sometimes the word no has to be heard

I spoke at length tonight with my friend and fellow Brentford fanatic Gary Marson and he summed up the situation far better than I ever could and I totally concur with his wise words and opinion so eloquently expressed:

The vast majority of Bees fans recognise that Matthew Benham’s philosophy is the only game in town. His approach of securing competitive advantage through innovation and risk has already secured us success beyond our wildest dreams and in the long term is the only realistic way in which we can hope to continue to punch so far above our weight in a stale and rigid footballing hierarchy where there is normally such a stifling correlation between financial resource and performance.

The present crisis therefore need not, indeed must not, mark the end of the Benham project. But in order to preserve the long term strategic vision, not to mention his enormous investment, he may be well advised to consider a short term tactical retreat and re-think the approach for the remainder of the season. This means supplementing the playing squad and management team, both of which appear to be desperately naive at the rarefied level of the English second tier, with the type of solid if unexciting domestic experience and organisational knowhow that we might have previously disregarded.

We have attempted open heart surgery to cure a minor ailment and as a result found ourselves in intensive care. Before we can begin to think about a healthy and sustainable return to full fitness we must do everything that it takes to ensure that the patient survives.

The future can still be ours, but for now it must wait.

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14 thoughts on “Ten Games In – The Verdict! – 4/10/15

  1. your right about J Gabrial I was in the front line at the time yes he could hardly run but he did not need to the ball came to him thou in the vital last games he was not there! yes he did inspire us youngster and someone to come into the team like him now would help a lot but at that time there was also Jackie Graham who played all those last reelection games even now take him out of retirement so he can help if not on field at least in training (even at his advanced aged)iam sure he would put grit into the team and what it means to pull on that red stripe shirt.Right i can understand the injuries some players not up to standard but if i reading in between the lines these players are not coming of the pitch with sweat .Theirs nothing you can do if they not prepared to runs there’s B;;;;;lls of sorry to be so brutal but you fans know who trying or not .Yes it looks like we are going to be in a long relegation fight so be it i can understand the fans being disappointed after last seasons showing but that’s football turns so quickly we just got to get behind our team yes that’s what supporting a club means and and i know so well how much you fans have suffered over so many years but still and i can tell you after what i experienced as a young teenager coming in to the side THEY DEED YOU FANS more than ever. We were nearly bottom of the fourth division but how you fans were behind us away from home as well at home .That Easter Tuesday april 16 1974 against the top team colchester untied the ground seemed to be so full and the fans were well just Fanstatic

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  2. Very good article going some way to explain the frustrations of the majority of the fans, who now have a genuine fear, that the last 3 or 4 seasons of extremely hard work in achieving the goal of playing in a higher division than the lower 2 leagues of Englsh football, might now be under serious threat with the disasterous start and seemingly self imploding nature of the club at present. Make no bones about it, we are definitely in a relegation dogfight at the beginning of October and it will not be easy to get out of this one! Not the way the whole situation is being managed currently.

    We were spoilt last year, of that it’s clear. Quality, exciting, attacking football at new grounds to visit against big clubs and after Bournemouth away and Nottingingham Forest away, when our performances gave us the belief that we were not only going to compete but be deservedly better than a good few teams as well. It was fantastic, a season like I’d never believed possible in 35 years of supporting Brentford. Then the news broke about Warburton, the upset caused, the recovery to a certain extent, the continuation of a charge to the play offs and then the acceptance that it might well be best for both parties, the club and Warburton to go our separate ways. This was coupled with the belief and the buying in to the system that Benham was creating, promising us that we were going to compete again and again until this hallowed promised land of the Premiership is to be achieved (and who really wants it if their totally truthful). Corporate meltdown, higher prices, club and players becoming distanced from each other, money driven spin on everything about the club. Not me but I’d love a few more years competing in the Championship though.

    We had the close season of excitement of a new manager with new ideas but before that even, players coming in. Strange at first I’d thought, that players were being bought with no manager in place to see if he was happy to work with them but this was it, th new model, it must work, Benham told us it will. Exciting stuff. One midfielder, then another, add another centre midfielder, then another midfielder. A couple more, then an attacking midfielder and it was then that I started to think, hold on, this isn’t right here. Alarm bells started ringing, admittedly at a very low volume but still, ringing all the same. I’d watched last years team, I’d seen what I thought was good and great about the team but I also seen some places where I thought we could improve too and of all of it, midfield was my least concern. We were more than enough for most teams BECAUSE of our midfield but here it was getting a complete makeover, an overhaul. Weird!

    What about a back up keeper for the outstanding Button. Would our season not have been drastically different if he’d got injured at any point last year and Bonham, the shaking, nervous, quivering wreck of a player had had to step in instead?

    What about our defence, where only after Odabajo had stepped back in to replace an injured or more than likely, suspended again because of his draconian football style of rattling in to a player to show him who’s boss but not in a clever astute way but in a glaringly obvious, stupid, lacking in IQ way that everyone in the ground held their heads in disbelief way, that McCornack fouls players. Was it only then that we gained an attacking threat, even a goal threat, from one member of our defence? The addition of Moses at right back triggered for me though, a massive realisation that now, on the other flank, we had Bidwell, a player that if I was asked to name the starting 11 who played the game is just witnessed, would pretty much always be last or who I’d forget. Not for any reason other than, well, he just seems to be there. Nothing more, nothing less. A very much standard 5 out of 10 player, never ever in a million years going to be man of the match and definitely never ever going to get a goal, let lone beat a man on the outside for pace or even swing in a decent cross once a game. He was a stale, name on the team sheet, not looking to change that position left back but Odabajo showed us what we might expect on both flanks and as such, showed for me, that Bidwell, as good as he had been in Div 1 was now sub standard in the Championship. Some fans might disagree but watch him, watch him closely and see if he ever does anything to excite you, ever!!

    Then we had Dean, for all his heart, his passion, his bustling tackles, his desire to be good, was unfortunately an error prone, mistake in every game, slow, combative, out manouvered centre back most weeks. He was also playing at least a division above his ability if not 2 above. I felt for him, he was isolated and exposed on several occasions but it became painful to watch. We steadied the ship to an extent with Tarkowski who was composed, a ball player, strong and bulky and much calmer in demeanour but also one who seems to have got slower, has failed to progress because of his, in my opinion, confidence or swagger in his own self worth and instead of trying to better himself by adding to his game has gone backwards because of an ‘ I play in the Championship now and have made it’ attitude.

    I know this is brutally harsh but of this back 3, take away Odabajo, there is absolutely zero goal threat from any of them, not even from set pieces and don’t get me started on Tarkowskis penalty. So now we have a back 4, plus keeper obviously, who won’t give us a goal in any game. That’s 5 out of the starting 11. Then we now have Dave, that jovial sounding nickname for Diagouraga. A break up the play and give it simple defending midfielder, who’s performances last year were punching above his weight and some from anything we’d seen from him previously. He was quality in a good few games last year and alongside Douglas was an imoveable line in front of our lightweight back 4 last season but goal threat ability? Also 100% zero. So much so it’s a standard, hilariously funny, running joke amongst our fans. Add him to the back 5 and that’s now 6 out of 11 players that we aren’t likely to get a goal out of in any game throughout the entire year. Oh oh, this isn’t looking good. Our other 5 players must be mustard.

    So we had 5 players to score goals and be the creating, attacking force and also the defending from the front, protecting the back line, first line of defence and here’s where Warburton must have been a genius. He managed to do exactly that. Wow. Jota, Pritchard, Douglas, Judge, Gray….sometimes Dallas too but they got us to 5th, even with that defence behind them. Unbelievable. No wonder under Benhams stats, he had us finishing no higher than mid table and accounted for most of our points with luck but he forget the heart and desire of these front 5. How many last minute wins, or draws did we manage. How many cheap goals did we give away and this lot pulled it back? Untold. Too many to remember in that great season. Memories that will last a lifetime. The greatest midfield ably supported by the battering ram, unpolished diamond of Gray up front but together they over achieved and we were eternally grateful.

    Who, as a fan, thought that what we really needed to do close season, was rip apart the successful aspect of the team and leave in place the weakened end? Admittedly, as a supporter, hearing the club has signed a defender, we don’t get over excited or not as much as a forward or midfielder but surely, surely, If Benham had ran his stats that we are ensured are ran over all new signings, over his own defence, then we would surely be only left with Tarkowski as a member of the team and that only because of his potential to improve.

    The club have made glaring errors. The pitch not being ready, the training ground, other minor incidents but what you have touched upon above as an area needing assistance, be it the 2 co-directors of football needing assistance, I would be very hesitant to offer these 2 any assistance whatsoever and more so be calling them in and asking them to account for what has so far been a dreadful recruitment policy starting and very much highlighted by Dijkhousen, a man that never once looked comfortable in either the club or his tracksuit but also the basic lacking in knowledge, of what was right and what was wrong with our squad last season and therefore recruiting players in positions we didn’t even need to address and none in others which were and still are so so weak for the rigours of the Championship.

    We need at least a reserve keeper of a high standard, a left back of attacking flare or an exciting overlapping prospect ( Aaron Greene in the reserve fits this mould), a pacy, comfortable, ball playing centre back alongside Tarkowski and hope that Colin is the answer at right back when he returns. We need to replace Diagouraga as he’s had his best days and is onl a sideways passer of the ball and will never play that incisive cut through a defence ball and then we need a miracle with the rest of the squad because Alan Judge has been isolated as our one and only game changing player. A constant goal threat, nervy in abundance but cannot operate alone.

    How we got this so wrong is worrying, especially as Benham brought in ‘experts’ to oversee it. I’d be asking for the co-directors heads and their clearly more important outside interests of Smartodds or Mjitland FC respectively and get in people who’s only interest is Brentford FC, not any other nonsense.

    I have faith that the successful Mr Benham will do it and act sooner rather than later but Lee Carsley isn’t the answer, nor his assistant bought in only months ago to act as a player advisor and now reserve coach of a championship club. They don’t want it, they’re not excited by it and I can tell you, I’m not exactly thrilled about it either dos they’re showing nothing to show any roots of recovery.

    Please sort out the shambles it has become. We have a defence that concedes an average of 2 a game. Therefore to win a game we would by the same token need to score 3 or more a game but we couldn’t buy a goal for toffee at present. That means we will let in at least 2 goals most games, not score 2 goals in 6 games so either lose most weeks or scrape a draw one in every 4 or so. Relegation form all day long.

    We’re in a mess that we have to start to get out of this side of Christmas so please do what needs to happen, get rid of Carsley or demote back to Development squad, get a known football man in for this year alone if necessary and sort the defence as a first priority to give us at least a basis of a clean sheet to try to score 1 goal to win a game.

    Worrying months but I’m sure exciting times will be back again soon if we act now.

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  3. Any form of dictatorship is a bad thing – so your fourth suggestion – “a couple of independent non-executive directors” – hits the nail firmly on the top of the bonce. It is, I would suggest, essential…………….I for one don’t want a backroom that is (in my opinion) full of yes-men (and I include the two Bees United board men, who are outvoted in any case).

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  4. Too much too fast. We needed evolution not revolution. The players brought in on the statistical system needed time in the development squad building up their fitness and stature whilst getting well acquainted with our system of play. Meanwhile players already proven in this league should have been brought in to replace those sold on. Players that would slot in to the role they were replacing. And yes we need someone with league football experience having some kind of say, someone who knows how to go about things in this league because on all levels we have inexperience and the one thing that will get us out of this mess is someone who’s dealt with it before and knows exactly how to go about repairing the team.

    I certainly don’t get blaming Macca for this. He has been one of the few players driving us on.

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  5. Greville,
    As a BU board member, I think it is your job to see that your two colleagues on the BFC board have some independent input on the issues you raise.
    Even so, to make things work is going to take some leadership for all aspects of BFC’s operations. Something like the Moneyball approach can only work with a first class leader like Billy Beane. We do not have one – at all. I think one of those would be a lot more productive than another bunch of advisers.

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  6. The most positive thing I can find after 10 games is that we are 5th form bottom after an awful start. Suggests that the division isn’t as strong as last time and that there are plenty of other candidates for the drop. If we could find a way to finish the season in our current league position I’d take your hand off for it right now.

    Simple truths needed good people, our issues are not simply coaching related, this team isn’t nearly strong or balanced enough at present. The vanity project is flawed and there is a startling lack of football experience in the club to put it right.

    I would love to be proven wrong but I fear the worst, and I don’t want to describe how bad that looks.

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    • Nothing wrong with vanity it covers many things such as arrogance ,pride, self regard ,all things most successful people have.The same as why people post and they look for the “like” from others,the same as why people put in the effort to write books.So I find that a cheap dig at MBs initiative.
      However some very good posts on here regarding the situation not many solutions that excite me though.We look like the same team that finished last season at boro but with only 10 games under the belt other than the 50 that team had endured.
      I have worked out that all was not well with Marinus at the training ground but can’t understand why that didn’t come to light in pre season training in Portugal some 3 months ago.I liked Marinus and thought he would eventually had turned things round as he seemed like a good coach and proper football man.Lee Carsley hardly excites at the moment and his post match interview yesterday was unrecognisable from the comments of posters on GPG who were at the game ( I wasn’t there I’m in Arizona thank god) Rasmus gave a good interview in the week and seemed very laid back and assuring about the LCs position and admitted they got it wrong with MD but if we lose the next 4 games which is very possible how long will he be given before he has to repleat these words.Why didn’t they just say LC was overseeing the first team for an indefinite time and save any more embarrassment.I would go for Karl Robinson,sort out who wants in and who wants out on the playing side and that goes for Dean Judge Tarks and others who are sulking on the pitch ( Dean not one of those)I agree that this is a poor league this season and the hope is there are a few clubs worse than us.

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  7. If there’s nothing wrong with vanity why is it a cheap shot at MB? I know what the word means & think I used it appropriately.

    Karl Robinson – no thanks, Hasselbaink would be more interesting for me.

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    • Do you disagree with the project?What part of vanity did you mean then by the “vanity project” ?Hasslebank would also be ok by me.

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      • I can only answer sincerely and honestly Ben, I think that analytics have some value & support MB for looking at ways to make us more competitive. The concept has value i’m sure, but the forced pace of change culminating in MW’s departure, and subsequent outcomes from decisions taken, in a results based business justify questions and balanced criticism. I would have preferred MW’s time at BFC to run its course, he wasn’t at all against analytics and was the perfect man to take MB’s ideas forward. MW may well have left us ultimately, and then MB could have pushed on further. So if the concept has value then I have to question its implementation, the way it has been communicated to the fans, and most of all the personnel entrusted to make it work.

        So in summary I don’t disagree with the project in its entirety, what I disagree with is getting beaten every week by ordinary teams, and throwing away a brilliant platform that MB/MW built together. The damage seems self inflicted to me, you defined vanity as arrogance, pride, self regard and i’d include all of those words in my description of this as a vanity project.

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  8. A fantastic response from RebelBee. You have put it all so eloquently that I really have very little to add except for a big round of applause for what you said and the way you said it.

    Unfortunately this is now the way things seem to be at Brentford. Benham has done so much for our club, that to be seen to criticise him in any way attracts criticism itself.

    The forced pace of change has been horrendous and we are now seeing the evidence of that on the pitch (the table does not lie, Ben – we really have only won 2 games out of 10). Also, I agree that the people brought in have, so far, not exactly covered themselves in glory. I like Ankersen and Giles as people. In interviews and at the fans’ forum they came across very well. But again, the proof of the pudding is where we sit in the table, the lack of any clean sheets and the way in which we have played. Yes, we have injuries, but we also have the likes of Djuricin, Vibe, Kerschbaumer and Gogia playing. Players all brought in by our new Co-Directors of Football.

    Like RebelBee I too do not disagree with the project and I applaud our owner for having the vision to seek success in a brave new way. But when you have your most successful season for 80 years and then do not do everything in your power to retain the person largely responsible, then that, in my opinion, is pure folly.

    To call it a vanity project might be a little harsh on Matthew Benham. However, the fact is, he did allow Warburton to leave and was seemingly implacable in his belief that the Moneyball approach was worth the sacrifice.

    We all hope the international break does us good, helps the players bond with the new manager, hone things on the training pitch and ultimately bring a good win over Rotherham, which we can then build on. However, until we see a definitive turn-around on the pitch (including a bit of desire from the players, coupled with something resembling a game plan), then people will continue to question the actions of the owner and I believe they have every right to do so.

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