How Many Points Do We Need To Get? – 10/10/15

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)

Rotherham (H)
Nottingham Forest (H)
MK Dons (H)
Huddersfield (H)

Games we will draw (in 2015)

QPR (H)
Bolton (A)
Fulham (A)
Brighton (H)
Reading (A)

Games we will lose (in 2015)

Wolves (A)
Hull (H)
Blackburn (A)
Cardiff (A)

Games we will win (in 2016)

Leeds (H)
Wolves (H)
Rotherham (A)
Charlton (H)
Blackburn (H)
Bolton (H)
Bristol City (H)
Cardiff (H)
MK Dons (A)
Fulham (H)

Games we will draw (in 2016)

Burnley (H)
Sheff Wed (A)
Derby (H)
QPR (A)

Games we will lose (in 2016)

Birmingham (A)
Middlesbrough (H)
Preston (A)
Brighton (A)
Hull (A)
Forest (A)
Ipswich (A)
Huddersfield (A)

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:

Button (Goal)
Clarke (RB)
Bidwell (LB)
Barbet (CB)
Dean (CB)
Diagouraga (HM)
Woods (AM)
Swift (AM)
Judge (LW)
Canos (RW)
Djuricin (A)

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:

Button (Goal)
McCormack (RB)
Bidwell (LB)
Tarkowski (CB)
Dean (CB)
Diagouraga (HM)
Woods (AM)
Swift (AM)
Judge (AM)
Vibe (A)
Djuricin (A)

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:

  • Diagouraga
  • Woods
  • McEachran
  • Macleod
  • Swift (if he remains with us)
  • Jota
  • Judge
  • Canos

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?

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7 thoughts on “How Many Points Do We Need To Get? – 10/10/15

  1. A good read frm Dave, I’m a bit more pessimistic and need to see some signs of recovery before being able to contemplate safety. I expect Rotherham will be a very hard game – more typical of the division below us, and our lack of physicality worries me. All that matters is that we find a way to win, then we can push on a little. Lose and I think we may be looking for another head coach, part of me thinks that somehow we will get out of trouble, but there is no science behind this, just hope. At least you’ve gone for some predictions.

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  2. The number of points needed is a tough one, saturdays game is massive rotherham will have a new manager so the players will want to impress,i think it is vital for us to score first, to give the players and fans a lift, the first clean sheet this season will also be massive for the confidence of the players, fifty points is always a target to aim for, but it may need more or even slightly in a very competive championship.

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  3. I hope Lee Carsley has been studying the recent Birmingham vs Rotherham game, which Rotherham won 2-0, arguably one of the more surprising results so far this season. I have a (depressing) feeling this will be 0-0 as we try to keep a clean sheet at the expense of an attacking threat. If we lose at home to Rotherham, it will be difficult to imagine who we can beat this season, placing an awful lot of pressure on the shoulders of young players who have barely played for us, or not yet played at all.

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  4. Thanks to Greville for publishing my ramblings and thanks too to everyone who has taken the time to post a comment. To be honest, nothing I wrote was based on any particular kind of watertight analysis, and to take edmundpw’s point, the whole 60 point equation was really just me looking at 50 possibly being enough for survival and then sticking an extra 10 on top just to be sure!

    Reading the comments from RebelBee and Mike, I cannot disagree with your somewhat downbeat appraisal of the situation. The article was not so much based on what I truly believe will happen in terms of us picking up points, as much as giving me a set of targets for us to hit if we are to have any chance of staying up this season.

    Like RebelBee I also think Rotherham will be a tough game – even more-so now that they have a new manager in charge – and I think anyone who rocks up at Griffin Park next Saturday expecting a guaranteed three points is living in a dreamworld. We must expect that Neil Redfearn will have them fired up and well prepared for an intense battle. However, we can only hope that our reluctant manager has also imbued his Bees side with the same kind of battle-ready mentality.

    This is a genuine six-pointer and whoever wins will gain a massive psychological advantage. However well Rotherham defend and whatever kind of resilience they show on the day, we have to be ready to match and exceed them in all areas across the park. Quite simply, this is the day for every single Brentford player to step up, work their socks off and get the result we so desperately need.

    If, as expected, Tarkowski partners Dean at the back, they need to show a resilience that has in the main been completely absent this season. If McCormack is reinstated at right back, he has to match his unquestioned tenaciousness with a capacity to support and feed whoever is playing on the right side of midfield – just as Odubajo did so brilliantly last season. And on the left, captain Bidwell needs to finally stand up and be counted, combining his defensive duties with a strong performance that will inspire the rest of the team.

    In midfield, Diagouraga needs to be the fulcrum that breaks up the opposition play and starts our attacks, whilst Ryan Woods and John Swift (if indeed he actually starts the match) need to be tenacious and rapier-like in their forward play, giving Marco Djuricin the kind of service that his undoubted finishing will hopefully feed off with one or possibly more goals.

    As for the remaining players that will start the match, Alan Judge has to just keep doing what he has done so far over the first 10 games, take the game by the scruff of the neck and exert his undoubted ability on the Rotherham back four, whilst Vibe (if selected) has to step out of the shadows, realise that we need him to have his best game yet in a Brentford shirt and hook up with Djuricin in a potent and dangerous attacking partnership.

    Of course, I hope that all of that will happen. I also hope that Sergi Canos will come on and make a goal or two and that we will run out comfortable winners and send us home happy for a change. But as I sit here writing this with just under six days to go, I can honestly say I really don’t know what will happen. I can see us winning it, I can see us drawing it and, God forbid, I can also see us losing it as well!

    All we can do is cheer them on from the first minute til the last, keep everything crossed and pray that these two weeks have given them a chance to regroup and discover some kind of collective spirit and common purpose.

    The nightmare scenario: we lose to Rotherham, lose at Wolves and then lose to QPR. If it’s five defeats out of five from Carsley’s first five games in charge, I predict that we will then be looking for our third manager since the start of the season!

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