It is just wonderful when I receive unsolicited articles from my fellow Brentford supporters. Firstly it is great for everyone else to hear other voices as I am sure that you all get a bit bored with me prattling on all the time – I know that I do, and it is healthy and thought provoking to read some different perspectives, viewpoints and opinions about the club, favourable, supportive or even at the other end of the spectrum. Most importantly, and selfishly too, from my point of view it means that another day has gone by without the necessity of me having to gird my loins and struggle to write something new and hopefully interesting myself.
Dave Washer has just sent through some fascinating comments and as an advertising copywriter, he can certainly write – as is proved by this article which analyses the current state of play on the pitch at Griffin Park and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:
What with the gap between the last game and the next one, my thoughts have turned (inevitably?) to the games we have ahead of us this season and, specifically, how many wins and draws we potentially will require to remain a Championship club next season – surely now the summit of our ambitions.
I’m certain that if you asked officials at the club, they would still say we are looking to push on from where we left off last season; but the reality is, with all the turmoil off the pitch so far since the departure of Warburton and Weir, many (if not all) Brentford supporters would snatch your hand off right now if they were offered a finishing position of twenty-first place. A depressing admission perhaps, but one which I think sums up the mood on the terraces (and in the seats) after a mere two wins from 10 games.
Before we realised just how incredible our team actually was last season, I was working on the “sixty points for survival” philosophy, targeting thirty points between August and December and another thirty points between January and May. Taking this as a basis for this season (and readjusting slightly to reflect the fact that I don’t think we are capable this season of reaching sixty points) I have jotted down below the games in which I believe we will find the wherewithal to take all three points, as well as where I think we will get a draw.
Naturally we all have differing opinions about who we will be able to beat between now and May, for example, I see Rotherham at Griffin Park as an “easy” win, whilst others may view it as a tense six-pointer that will inevitably end in a draw or even, God forbid, a defeat, but for me the following list gives me something to cling on to as we seek to plot our course away from the wrong end of the table.
Obviously it is not definitive but I thought others might be interested in my thoughts as a conversation-starter as we count down the days until kick-off against the Millers next Saturday.
NB. To be anywhere close to the thirty points by the end of December target, we need to take seventeen points from the next thirty-nine available. Then, to get close to a tally of sixty points (which should definitely see us stay up) we need to take thirty-four points from sixty-six between next January and next May.
Seventeen from thirty-nine actually gives us quite a lot of room for dropping points, with twenty-two points written off before a ball is kicked. That is a win ratio of less than fifty percent, surely the kind of statistic that a lower-mid table Championship side should be more than capable of achieving?
Similarly, thirty-four from sixty-six after Christmas sees a sizeable thirty-two points sacrificed by the Bees. The prediction: that we will gain just over fifty percent of the points on offer to us between January and May. Again, surely more than achievable if we are to have any pretensions of staying up?
Games we will win (in 2015)
Nottingham Forest (H)
MK Dons (H)
Games we will draw (in 2015)
Games we will lose (in 2015)
Games we will win (in 2016)
Bristol City (H)
MK Dons (A)
Games we will draw (in 2016)
Sheff Wed (A)
Games we will lose (in 2016)
As I say, these are only my thoughts and of course there will be many who completely disagree with my predictions! Added to which, who knows what will happen with all of the currently injured players between now and the end of the season? Once we get back the likes of Jota, Colin and McEachran, we could well exceed all expectations and actually finish nearer to the playoff places than the relegation places.
Speaking of Jota, Colin and McEachran brings me onto my next point: namely, what will the team selection be for the Rotherham game and what will our new Head Coach decide to do? Although we were apparently awful against Derby, Lee Carsley will have had two weeks to work with the players, bond with them and mould them more into “his” team.
Will he persevere with Vibe sitting behind Djuricin however? According to Greville, Vibe was pretty awful against Derby, so perhaps a change in formation is in order? Or will he think about playing Hofmann up top with Djuricin and try to batter his way through what is sure to be a resilient and defence-minded Rotherham line-up?
I was thinking about what made us so successful last season and, apart from the obvious man-management / tactical skills of Mark Warburton (ably assisted by David Weir) and a relentless brand of attacking football that simply did not allow the opposition to settle (unless they were Middlesbrough!) the one constant was an almost slavish deferral to a 4-1-4-1 system which, correct me if I’m wrong, we don’t seem to have employed this campaign.
Were we to revert to 4-1-4-1 against Rotherham, my selection would be thus:
I would bring Josh Clarke back in at right back, as I simply do not think Nico Yennaris is Championship standard (I still have nightmares about the game at The Valley last season). I would give Barbet another go at centre back as a) he looks a quality player and b) the fact that we have conceded in every single match so far this season tells me that the current de facto centre back pairing of Tarkowski and Dean is simply not working.
In front of the holding role of Diagouraga I would give youth a chance in the shape of Ryan Woods (playing the Jonathan Douglas role of bursting creative midfielder) and John Swift (filling in the attacking midfield role that has been so desperately missing since Alex Pritchard went back to White Hart Lane). I would stick with Judge on the left, as he has been outstanding all season and, for true pace, give Canos a chance on the right, until Jota is back to full fitness.
Assuming that Lewis Macleod doesn’t trip over another twig between now and the Rotherham game, I would have him on the bench, waiting in the wings to burst on and add another goal or two to the tally with 25 minutes to go. And of course, moving forward, if Macleod carries on the way he left off against QPR the other night, he will command a starting place right at the heart of our midfield before long, hopefully leading us further and further up the table.
What will Lee Carsley decide to do? Of course it is difficult to say. But, assuming everyone is match fit, and because it is a match we simply have to win, I think he will go for a 4-1-3-2 formation, lining up like this:
The main thing of course is that we win – whatever the formation and however we achieve it! However, it would be monumentally encouraging were we to win playing good, confident, attacking football, which could then give us a good platform on which to build as we go on to seek that additional fourteen points between then and the end of December.
The club, the team and the fans have been through a lot this season and now we have a chance to draw a line, put in a performance of intent, desire and skill and kick on towards the next batch of ten league games – from which, we hope, we will garner a) more than a paltry two victories and b) start to shut up shop at the back and actually look a bit more difficult to score against.
If we can manage that, we might all be able to predict a far happier outcome when the final league table is published next May.
Thanks again to Dave for his predictions and team selection. I would note that Peterborough went down in 2012/13 having finished with a record high Championship points total of fifty-four so he is being very cautious with his proposed target of sixty points – or so I hope!
I do share his optimism as I believe that we are a couple of short months away from being able to field a potent and attractive midfield comprising four – or even five out of:
- Swift (if he remains with us)
Now they might be lacking a bit in bite but you cannot tell me that we would not dominate possession, and more importantly, create chances given the talent that they all possess.
The key question for me is whether we revert to a 4-2-3-1 formation like last season or keep two men up top? I am concerned that Djuricin cannot play the lone striker role and run the channels like Gray did, although he might prove me wrong once he regains full match fitness. Vibe is currently proving to be a bit of a damp squib and the jury is still out on Hofmann, although he impressed in his cameo at Derby.
I would prefer us to have the extra man in midfield if at all possible, as what is the point of having two strikers if there is nobody there to load the gun for them?
The defence is serviceable but for all his dominance at Leeds, Tarkowski does not totally convince me as I believe that there is always a mistake in him. Dean has become more consistent and measured in his play and I would like to see a left footer play alongside him, and I would choose Barbet because of his better distribution and the fact that he is becoming more accustomed to the rough and tumble of the Championship.
As for right back, I have no real preference between McCormack or Clarke as they both bring different skills to the party. I simply hope that Colin recovers quickly and refrains his place as he showed real promise before his injury.
You have now read the views of both Dave Washer and myself. What does everybody else think?