Relief! – 18/10/15

The overriding emotion after yesterday’s narrow and hard fought two-one victory over Rotherham was simply one of relief.

Relief that we had arrested the rot of three successive defeats, relief that we had beaten a team likely to be in the relegation zone, perhaps alongside us, and relief that Lee Carsley had finally broken his duck as a Head Coach and led us to our first victory under his charge.

This was a game where, in all honesty, very little mattered beyond the result. A defeat would have seem morale and confidence amongst players and supporters alike plummet to new depths and the Bees would have dropped into the relegation zone for the first time this season.

Going into the game it hadn’t helped to watch a confident and revitalised Bristol City team totally outplay and pulverise a poor and dispirited Nottingham Forest on Friday night and to see them play the ball around with such precision and accuracy and a certain joie de vivre just emphasised how much the Bees needed to improve in order to get their season back on track and escape from the pack stuck around the bottom of the Championship table.

The three points that we eventually won, not without a desperate struggle, were the absolute priority and I believe that given the fillip of yesterday’s much needed victory, we will now improve slowly and gradually as we regain some confidence and cohesion.

It will also help if we can get some high quality reinforcements into the squad either from outside, during the January transfer window, or hopefully well in advance of then when the likes of Jota, Macleod, McEachran and Colin report back for duty as soon as they have recovered from long term injury.

I therefore do not intend to dwell too much upon the myriad shortcomings that were exposed yet again yesterday afternoon.

We know that the players currently available to us have not proved to be of sufficient quality or experience to get us to where we want to be in the Championship and to carp and criticise them might be good for the soul but is hardly likely to be productive in the great scheme of things.

To emphasise where we are at the moment, we were outpassed and out-possessed yesterday by Rotherham. Nothing really more needs to be said as there is really very little point in doing so.

We all know that our visitors are a set of decent, honest journeymen, toiling hard at a level that is probably just a little bit beyond them and we recognise and appreciate that they do their utmost to make up for their deficiencies in terms of class and ability through the virtues of organisation, effort and sheer hard work.

Please do not think that I am trying to patronise or denigrate them or minimise their achievements as I greatly admire Rotherham as a club for more than making the most of what they have, and it is fair to say that they played as much football as we did, if not more, and probably just had the edge in terms of creating opportunities.

Brentford had forty-seven percent possession of the ball and attempted three hundred and eighty-four passes of which sixty-seven per cent found their target.

Rotherham had fifty-three per cent possession and attempted fifty-two more passes than us with a slightly higher rate of accuracy.

In the corresponding match last season Brentford enjoyed sixty-six per cent possession and whilst comparisons are both pointless and invidious you can see how far things have changed in the interim period.

There is really no possible benefit in wailing, gnashing our teeth and bemoaning the fact that we have fallen so far from grace since the high points of last season and have also massively declined in terms of the quality of our squad and footballing ability – that is simply a fact that we have to accept and get beyond at the moment if we are to retain our sanity and sense of proportion.

The time for recriminations will come later on if the season ends in disaster. Now is simply a time for all hands at the pumps and for us to work together to help ensure our survival at Championship level as it would be a disaster of massive proportions if we allow our hard won Championship status to be surrendered come next May.

Apart from the victory there were many other positives to come out of yesterday’s match:

  • A five-figure crowd that, whilst quiet and muted at times, got behind their team and appreciated their efforts.
  • A positive up-and-at-’em start culminating in a quite brilliantly taken early goal from Alan Judge
  • Scoring the opening goal for the first time this season at home
  • A solid defensive display with Dean and Tarkowski particularly impressing
  • Nico Yennaris making the opening goal and playing his best ever game for the club
  • Ryan Woods playing in a holding role alongside Alan McCormack and looking calm and composed on the ball, winning his challenges and rarely conceding possession
  • Young guns Sergi Canos and John Swift justifying the faith shown in them and demonstrating their ability and youthful enthusiasm on their first start for the club
  • The imperious Alan Judge, scorer of two quite beautifully taken goals, including a rare header, and running the game from start to finish
  • Brentford scoring two excellently worked, constructed and taken goals
  • A recognisable and effective team shape being employed in the 4-2-3-1 formation that worked so well last season
  • A determination and will to win, evidenced by the Brentford players putting their body on the line and defending desperately during the six interminable minutes of injury time when Rotherham threw the kitchen sink at us
  • A team selection which ignored the claims of all our fit if underperforming preseason foreign signings in Barbet, Kerschbaumer, Vibe, Hofmann and Gogia and contained seven of last season’s tried and tested squad, plus Woods and recent loanees, Canos, Swift and Djuricin

I fully recognise the lack of quality on display at times yesterday, our inability to keep possession, the lack of incision, the paucity of attempts on target, the fact that Djuricin must surely have been suffering from a communicable disease, so isolated was he upfront, the languid start to the second half that cost us so dear and our appalling marking at opposition set pieces where we relied far too much upon David Button’s brilliance to save the day.

I would also hope that somebody introduced Philipp Hofmann after the game to returning legend Robert Taylor as I think that they could have had a most productive conversation on centre forward play that would have greatly benefitted our new German striker who still has so much to learn about the demands of English football.

Yesterday was still an improvement on what we have seen recently and you can only beat the opposition that is facing you on the day.

We now have two tough away games in the next week at Wolves and Charlton and I will withhold any judgement until after we have played both of these matches. I would hope and expect that we improve gradually from game to game but I have no real expectations of a massive change in our fortunes until the injured players return.

But hey – WE WON!

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10 thoughts on “Relief! – 18/10/15

  1. As you rightly said Greville it was a win. Also, we didn’t have majority possession, yet still won, and I’ll settle for that. Yennaris, Swift and Woods impressed. We didn’t give away goals – their equaliser was unstoppable, although we did rely on Button, yet attain. There was more passion from most of the team. What mostly annoys me about some of the new signings, such as Hoffman, is not so much that I think they are poor buys, but more the visible giving up, when the ball isn’t just at his feat. At least make the effort. We are also missing that spark of quality which can turn a game. Toumani can do that sometimes . . . Jota, I really can’t wait for his return. Still it’s a start. But as Lee said, no time to sit back, Wolves are next.

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  2. Yes Greville the win was so important, but the first shoots of recovery, I have grave doubts. As you say Rotherham are more than probably going to be fighting an up hill battle against relegation, yet they were more than a natch for the Bees.

    I walked out of Griffin Park just shaking my head in disbelief, that how such a vibrant Bees side of a few months ago have turned into the rabble of a team that was on display yesterday.

    We are a mere shadow of the team of last season and unless something unique happens soon, we are surely set for relegation this seasn. Yes I know we have injuries and lost a few players, but whatever happened to the proud boast that leaving players will be replaced by something better. The evidence so far suggests exactly the opposite. If we have to rely on the same people who brought these new players in again, then I have little faith in their ability to get it right the second time around; As they say the buggers who got you into the mess, are unlikely to be the ones to get you out of it.

    It is so depressing specially when you think to build on the last three years, we just needed a bit of fine tuning. Instead of that we have opted for wholesale change and are paying a heavy price. To me it is stupidity beyond belief. Still we live in hope that things will change for the better, but I wouldn’t bet much money on that happening

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  3. Alan I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said but frankly there is no point in everyone banging on ad infinitum about all the mistakes that have indisputably been made and how much worse we are than last season.

    The time for any reckoning is the end of the season. What matters now is what is done to get us out of the mess we find ourselves in. Nothing else matters.

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  4. well a win under the belt is all that matters to me and glad at last we put a few youngesters into the team thou we maybe did not have the choice but at least they done there bit and now is the time to go on from here last season gone as you know football changes very quickly lookong forward to our next game COME ON YOU BEES

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  5. Another great article which sums up pretty much a) the debacle of our performance yesterday and b) the key thing being the fact that after three defeats we finally got a much needed win. As you say Greville, there is no point constantly going over the same old thing week after week, game after game. What’s happened has happened and this is now where we find ourselves. However, I do have to concur entirely with what Alan says in terms of walking out of Griffin Park after the match, shaking my head and wondering whether I’d somehow entered some kind of parallel universe, such is the difference between the Brentford side that finished last season and the current team we are watching at the moment.

    Let’s look at the positives (apart from the win). Our reluctant manager had the wherewithal to revert back to the successful 4-1-4-1 formation that served us so well last season. Also, he ditched the Ankersen / Giles Moneyball flops (Kershbaumer, Gogia, Hofmann, etc.) and gave youth a chance in the shape of Woods and Swift (with the exciting Canos out wide). And possibly most importantly of all, he had the players worked up from the first minute, with a level of pressing and desire that I have certainly not seen before this season.

    Unfortunately however, that really is where the positives stop. Judge’s two goals aside, we were absolutely awful. For pretty much the majority of the game, it really did look like a poor League One side taking on another poor League One side. Lots of long balls from us, very little in the way of free-flowing possession football and a performance that at times resembled more of a Sunday morning game down at the local rec than a Championship-quality league match. But…

    It was a win. And I actually thought that Carsley’s comments post-match were both refreshingly honest and totally accurate. We really did only play decent possession football for perhaps 20 of the 90 minutes. We did look jittery. But we did grind out the result, regardless of the fact that it was against possibly the division’s poorest side. We have the victory we needed, we now move onto Wednesday and we hope we can build on the positives of a rare victory.

    For me, as we now look forward to going to Molineux, there are three things to ponder on. Firstly, as Alan (and Michael) touch on above, the Moneyball signings are extremely worrying. Yes, they need time to settle into Championship football, but that is quite simply time we no longer have! As has been discussed, Kerschbaumer looks utterly clueless, Hofmann is unimposing and Gogia is no Stuart Dallas. Barbet I like but Carsley apparently does not, whilst Vibe does, I think, offer some quality but could now find it difficult to work his way into a system that now employs only one striker. The point I am somewhat laboriously making is that these players were supposed to be the great new hopes for this season; players to replace the likes of Dallas, Pritchard, Douglas, etc. The paucity of ability shown by many of them surely has to give all of us cause for concern when it comes to the ability of Ankersen and Giles to get decent signings in.

    The second thing is far more positive and touches on something you mention, Greville – namely we are inching ever closer to the likes of Macleod, Jota, Colin and McEachran finally coming back into contention. Outstanding players that will hopefully make all the difference to us and finally see us start to play the kind of football we were all so used to (and possibly spoiled by) last season.

    And thirdly I (inevitably?) go back to my prediction chart that you so kindly published a week or so ago. I know they are only predictions, but I said we’d lose at Derby and beat Rotherham, and so it turned out! I now believe we will lose at Wolves and Charlton, get a draw against QPR, then lose the next two to Hull and Blackburn! Defeatist talk? I don’t look at it that way! Even saying that we will lose all of those games, as long as we can then pick up 8 points from 12 against MK Dons, Forest, Bolton and Fulham, we will go into the home game against Huddersfield pre-Christmas on 20 points – just 10 behind my 30 point mid-season safety target! And by then, we will hopefully have the likes of Jota, Colin, McEachran and Macleod back playing for us again.

    So overall, a bit of a mixed bag. A poor performance but a great result. Messi-like brilliance from Judge, but still defensive question marks hanging over Harlee Dean (sorry Greville, I don’t think he’s the player he was last season, which may or may not have something to do with his current contractual situation). An encouraging show from Yennaris (I can’t believe I actually just typed that, but credit where it’s due – he played pretty well) but practically zero service to the forlorn-looking Djuricin (who I still think had as good a game as he could have done under the circumstances).

    Let’s celebrate the positives, seek to eradicate the negatives and focus on the fact that things might, very, very, very slowly, be starting to get slightly better. Or not.

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  6. Relief is the definitely the word i’d use to describe my feelings coming out of GP on Sat.

    The main piece and other comments have covered most of the key points well, so all I can add today are some random observations.

    -Make no mistake that was a relegation battle, our results against the other strugglers are key.

    -Thank god for Judgey, and Button – we urgently need to sort out new deals for these two, plus the other key players – Tarks, Harlee etc.

    -With Woods in the side we did at least have a pass into midfield, and someone who can move it about.

    -All the coaching and improved fitness training from LC can’t cover up for the backwards steps taken in squad quality & the level of many of the new signings. We got through on Saturday without the stats influenced newcomers who have been flops so far.

    -Ankersen’s post match comments were optimistic in the extreme!

    -We need a striker (again). And if we’d only kept Dallas this side would look a whole lot better.

    -The division seems more even than last year with no real outstanding sides emerging yet, this gives us some hope that we can stay up.

    -Over 10K at GP for that is impressive, just imagine what we could achieve if we had got this season right.

    – Pleased with the tribute to Martin Lange, nicely observed by Rotherham also. Can somebody tell me if the current Chairman has said anything on his passing as I didn’t see a programme?

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    • I just want to second RebleBee’s comments re Rotherham observing the Martin Lange tribute. Gesture seems the wrong word, but not sure waht the right onw would be, but good on them.

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  7. Win ugly, and it certainly was. We needle do win but I can’t remember a Bees team at home conceding so many fouls . Beautiful football it isn’t but if it is what is needed- so be it. Tony Pulis cook book on view.

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