The Good Times Are Back – 25/10/15

We shuffled into Griffin Park last Saturday with the reluctance of French aristocrats exiting the tumbrels on their way to the guillotine with the jeers of the tricoteuses ringing in their ears.

The season was balanced on a knife-edge and we simply did not know what to expect or how matters would turn out.

Had the international break provided new Head Coach Lee Carsley with sufficient time and opportunity to revitalise a demoralised looking squad that had disintegrated into a near-rabble and desperately lacked fitness, confidence, structure and organisation?

Eight days, three wins and nine points later we have had our answer and today the world is a far cheerier place for everyone associated with Brentford FC.

What a week it has been for us as we have in turn seen off the challenge of Rotherham, Wolves and now Charlton Athletic, scored seven times, conceded only once, kept two consecutive clean sheets and now find ourselves safely ensconced in twelfth place, in mid table and we can now start looking up rather than down.

I arrived at Griffin Park last Saturday with minimal and limited expectations and would have been happy with a return of four points from the nine on offer over the coming week.

If truth be told I had a recurring nightmare that we would end up with only one or two, so to end up with nine is an incredible achievement that is quite above and beyond my wildest dreams.

The amazing happenings of the past three games take me back to the same weekend last year when we were in practically the same place in the league.

A listless performance and a fully deserved defeat to a poor Bolton team led to some soul searching on the long, bleak journey home, and with Alan McCormack also lost to a serious ankle injury we next faced three seemingly insuperable hurdles within a week in the shape of Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Millwall.

We feared the worst but emerged with flying colours and came of age as a Championship team after three brilliant and unforeseen victories which saw Andre Gray establish himself as a forward of pace and deadly menace, and the impetus from our success paved the way to our eventual playoff challenge.

It is a really big ask to expect a similar outcome this season but we have certainly made a massive and praiseworthy recovery after an horrendous and appalling September when it looked as if the Bees were in free fall and looked likely to plummet into the relegation zone from where it would be extremely tough to emerge.

There were many reasons for our poor start to the season which have been well documented in great length previously, so I will instead discuss what has brought about this recovery and, more importantly, whether it can it be sustained?

Quite simply we are looking like a totally different team from the one that struggled so desperately under Marinus Duikhuizen last month. Lee Carsley has overseen a total sea change and the team now looks compact, organised, fit and bursting with confidence. Players know their roles and are encouraging and congratulating each other and also reminding everyone of their specific responsibilities.

If a gap emerges then there is somebody there immediately to fill it and cover their team mate. Everyone is pressing and tackling back, opponents are given no time to settle on the ball and, most crucially, we are moving and passing the ball quickly and sharply and finding gaps in our opponents’ defence.

These are definitely the signs of a successful team that is enjoying itself again and the style and quality of the football being played reflects this too.

Sergi Canos started the match against Rotherham but otherwise the team has remained unchanged with a strict 4-2-3-1 formation employed. The midfield has been our real strength with Diagouraga and McCormack anchoring and supporting the back four whilst still having the freedom and flexibility to move forward when the opportunity arises.

Alan McCormack made a triumphant return to The Valley – one of his less successful stopping off points in his long and illustrious career and he ignored the jeers of his erstwhile supporters to drive the Bees forward and he almost scored an unforgettable goal which would have guaranteed him his bragging rights, when his rasping twenty-five yarder rebounded clear off the underside of the crossbar.

Ryan Woods has found an ideal spot on the right side of midfield where he dovetailed perfectly with the ever-improving Nico Yennaris, and he is another who has helped to revitalise the team with his energy and all action style coupled with his intelligent use of the ball. There is so much more to come from him too.

John Swift has quickly become an automatic choice on the left side of midfield. He is tall, rangy and full of running, plays with his head up, glides effortlessly past opponents and is always looking for a defence splitting pass. He also relishes a good strong tackle and is no shrinking violet.

Swift is already becoming a massive influence on the team and marked an excellent performance with a well-taken headed goal from Alan Judge’s perfect curling cross.

That leads us to Alan Judge who is quite simply playing the best football of his career and is totally irreplaceable as the talisman of the team.

In the last three games he has scored three times and assisted on three other goals too. He is on the verge of international recognition and his recent performances demonstrate his sheer determination to earn that elusive first cap. He is playing on a different level to his team mates and is an utter inspiration.

Yesterday he and McCormack combined perfectly before he cut inside and curled a wonderful shot just inside the far post for a goal of awesome quality and confidence.

For the third goal he seized on a loose ball just outside our own penalty area, headed the ball past an opponent, showed instant control whilst under challenge before pinging a perfect fifty yard pass directly to the feet of Lasse Vibe who cut inside and buried the ball inside Henderson’s near post.

Those two goals highlighted our pace, energy and enthusiasm and demonstrated just how quickly we are now able to turn defence into attack and how we seem to have regained our speed of thought and action.

The five-man midfield has worked perfectly in the last two away games as we have dominated in terms of numbers and possession as well as in our ability to snuff out danger and launch dangerous counter attacks.

It remains to be seen whether we will retain this formation in home games when we are expected to set the tone and take the attack to the opposition rather than counter their moves as we do when we play away. Canos would be the obvious replacement for Toumani, however I would leave well alone as the current system is working so well.

Djuricin is also improving his match fitness and he worked tirelessly at Charlton. He is looking better in every game and I think that the best is yet to come from him. Hofmann and Vibe have both come on as late substitutes recently and scored well taken and important goals and they and Kerschbaumer are benefiting from having more experienced players around them and being allowed to develop and grow into the English game at their own pace rather than being allowed to sink or swim before they are ready.

Yesterday could have ended totally differently had Charlton taken the four gilt edged opportunities that they squandered in the opening fifteen minutes. As it was Brentford escaped unscathed from those early scares and slowly grew into the game before taking over and totally dominating proceedings. As Mark Warburton used to say, the margins between success and failure in this unforgiving division can be so narrow.

Finally it appears that the luck has changed and that things are beginning to go our way. That coupled with tons of hard work and organisation allied to the enthusiasm of youth has enabled us to arrest what appeared to be an irrevocable slump and our season has turned around.

There is so much to look forward to with the prospect of Jota, McEachran, Colin, Saunders and Macleod returning to fitness and further replenishing our once depleted squad over the next month or so.

To make the last week even better, the Development Squad also won twice with Sam Saunders scoring three times including two trademark free kicks and Lewis Macleod is also knocking at the door after two recent goals including a searing thirty-yard winner on Friday against Bristol City.

The good times are on their way back to Griffin Park and what a week lies ahead of us with Queens Park Rangers to come next Friday.

I can’t wait!

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “The Good Times Are Back – 25/10/15

  1. I have to say the turnaround is nothing short of miraculous, how a team essentially with the same players can be so different. Clearly the talent is there, yes the opposition as we can see is struggling as much as we were, but even so . . . and whilst things might have been different if Charlton, had taken their chances, whose to say the final outcome would have been different. We just don’t know and I think we can’t take away the credit due to the team. Also, Lee must take a lot of the credit. I read in last week’s League Paper how in his playing days he was a lynch pin and he seems to have taken this with him to his role as Head Coach aka Team Manager.

    I really am looking forward to this Friday’s game.

    Like

  2. What a strange game football is. From a very nervy and in honesty a somewhat fortunate win against Rotherham, we seem to have grown in confidence. As many said at the time the result was far more important than the performance. It also had an instant impact on the belief of the players, as we put in a very professional performance against Wolves and ran out deserved winners, Then following a slow start at the Valley we eventually controlled the game and were comfortable winners.

    I take my hat off to LC who has obviously addressed the problem areas and we are starting to look like a decent team again. I personally don’t see us being as impressive as last season, but compared to a few ago weeks ago I, like the players seem to be, am growiing in confidence.

    Long may it continue, specially this coming Friday, as I so dearly want to beat the rabble from Sheperds Bush.

    Like

  3. Same comments as above, really. A truly miraculous turn around in a remarkably short space of time. I can do nothing other than take my hat off to LC and the players. Brilliant stuff.

    Stand out things for me:

    1. The 4-2-3-1 formation, with no recognised wide players – yet Diagouraga, McCormack, Woods, Swift and Judge all absolutely outstanding in the last two games, providing energy, width, pace, power and outstanding attacking intent.

    2. The form of Alan Judge. Never has he more rightly deserved the moniker of the ‘Irish Messi’.

    3. The transformation of Nico Yennaris. Still early days and presumably Colin will be knocking at the door once fit, but again well done to LC for seeing something in a player many of us had written off long ago.

    4. The sudden resilience of the back four. Two clean sheets in a row – fantastic!

    5. The increased strength of the squad once Jota, Macleod, Colin, Saunders et al return. Dare we now dream of the playoffs or better?!

    Like everyone else, I can’t wait for Friday! The confidence is back, the energy levels are up and we all feel that we can beat anyone! We don’t know who our manager will be this time next year, but let’s relish what’s happening right now and rise to the challenge of QPR as one!

    Like

  4. Excellent summary and agree with all the great comments too, beesyellow22 has nailed it with is 5 key points. We love football so much because it can do this to you like no other sport, desperation to elation in a week! We’ve all had differing opinions over what has gone on at GP over the past months, it’s been emotional and we’ve fallen out with our own at times. Barring a few on both sides of the debates I felt a sense of healing and togetherness in the stand on Saturday – ironic that it should come at the very place where the cracks opened so nastily a few months ago. That’s the 1st time I’ve seen us win at the Valley and it was so worth the wait. we were superb after that dodgy 1st 10 mins. Such a good away day there, and to play well in an iconic old London stadium left me feeling drained and emotional.

    Whilst Judgey will deservedly get the headlines, huge credit goes to the other boys in midfield, and in particular to Alan Mac, who had possibly his finest game in a Bees shirt.

    I now feel it was a brave and correct call to make the managerial change, it wasn’t nice how it went down but it has potentially saved the season. Some won’t like this fact, but LC has gone back to basics, playing a largely British team who look fitter and happier than a month back – confidence and passion abundant and the foreign boys are correctly being drip fed into the championship, some may turn out OK – others won’t..

    We have turned a corner but mustn’t get carried away, we’ve taken 3 scalps at just the right time, but far bigger tests await in int he next 2 games at GP.

    Greville could i possibly ask that you work your magic on a fitting piece ahead of the QPR game? Was trying to explain to some of our younger fans why to many Bees they are our bitter rivals – not Fulham or others. It needs the historical context and facts to be explained properly as so many just don’t know what went down back in the 60’s. You have the knowledge and the writing ability to do this justice.

    Like

  5. So far away but so happy for my Bees and if you remember i said quite a while ago the difficulties for foreign players to a custom to our way of football and glad to see youth in the side so wish to be able to see fridays match against THEM but no chance here but all the same i will look for the news GOOD I Hope but remember football is a funny game so lets not get to carried away

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s