Far Too Much Christmas Generosity from The Bees! – 16/12/15

I fully appreciate that Christmas is the time for giving but over the past two matches Brentford have shown far too much holiday spirit and conceded five ridiculously soft goals.

Away games at Fulham and Cardiff City are tough enough obstacles to overcome without giving the opposition a leg-up and a serious helping hand and after two glaring defensive errors at Craven Cottage last Saturday which cost the Bees victory, Cardiff were not made to work very hard to score three times last night and earn a last gasp victory.

The winning goal deep into stoppage time was a bitter blow to take given that Brentford had fought back to equalise after deservedly trailing by two goals at the interval after a quite dreadful and listless first half display which bore much similarity to the spineless surrender against Derby County.

Brentford had lots of possession but did absolutely nothing with it and also defended like statues as they all stood back and admired firstly Tony Watt and then the ever-dangerous Kenwyne Jones as they were both allowed the time and space to score simple goals. Yennaris was the fall guy for the first when the Bees failed to clear a long throw and the ball eventually bounced off the hapless defender straight to Watt and, for the second goal, Swift dwelt on the ball in midfield and was dispossessed before Cardiff capitalised on a two-on-two situation with O’Connell and Tarkowski both drawn out of possession and the fullbacks marooned upfield.

Nothing much changed in the early part of the second half until Dean Smith took off the invisible Kerschbaumer and also Diagouraga, who had had one of his more frustrating evenings where little had gone right and he was never able to influence matters. The tireless Alan Judge had been trying to create and finish chances on his own, so insipid and off the pace had been the overall team performance but Jota and McEachran made an immediate difference as Brentford were finally able to raise the tempo, show some penetration, create chances and threaten a nervous looking home team which had conceded two goal leads in their previous two home games.

Lightning struck for the third time as firstly Jake Bidwell with a header from a perfectly flighted Judge corner and then John Swift, following up a half save from Marshall after a Judge effort who had been set up well by Hofmann, brought the Bees level and with the home crowd nervously and angrily baying its disapproval an unlikely win even appeared to be a possibility before disaster struck right out of the blue with the Bees unforgivably losing concentration and caught napping and ball watching from another throw in with Fabio allowed to make a dangerous run unchecked and his left wing cross was allowed to reach the predatory Jones who scored easily to deny the Bees any reward.

Three horrible and scruffy goals, all down to a series of individual and team errors and all three easily avoidable if players had been doing their job properly and had seen their task through to the bitter end. Not good enough and further proof that we are still the nearly team.

Cardiff are by no means a good team, far too reliant upon the long ball, and yet Brentford allowed them to bully them and boss proceedings for much of the game and the Bees eventually left themselves with too much of a mountain to climb, close though they came.

Dean Smith kept faith with the Tarkowski/O’Connell partnership but might now have to reconsider his decision given the number and type of goals conceded in the last two games and suddenly Harlee Dean is looking a good option once again after being left to stew on the bench last night when all three goals were scored by the Cardiff twin strikers. It is so easy to use hindsight and say that Dean would perhaps have been a better bet against the height and strength of Jones but O’Connell had done nothing wrong – and much that was right, over the past three games.

The most surprising news of the night was that Jake Bidwell finally broke his goalscoring duck at the one hundred and eighty-sixth time of asking. He had, it is fair to say, been getting closer and closer to opening his Brentford account over the past few games – and, if it had been me, I would also have done my utmost to claim what eventually turned out to be credited as an own goal by a Wolves defender last Christmas, but now he has finally scored maybe he will get the taste and become a far more potent threat in the opposition penalty area.

The substitutions changed the game with Josh McEachran making a superb cameo appearance on his long awaited and much delayed debut for the club. He quite simply oozed Premier League class, was always available to receive the ball and probed ceaselessly in order to create opportunities for his team mates. I cannot wait to see him, Judge, Jota, Swift and Canos combine to tear opposition defences apart, as they most surely will as soon as Josh and Jota are fully up to speed in terms of their match fitness. Alan Judge in particular, is a man on a mission and last night he added two more assists to his ever-growing tally.

Last season we were able to rely on the skill and guile of the likes of Odubajo, Judge, Pritchard, Jota and Gray in order to turn the screw on our opponents but our current five-some will, perhaps by the New Year, go a long way towards providing us with a similar goal threat.

Hofmann replaced the ineffective Vibe who had missed gruesomely from a gilt-edged one-on-one opportunity and the substitute held the ball up well and was also involved in the equalising goal but I believe that we remain well short in the striking department and something will need to be done in January to help rectify this problem if we are to even threaten the playoff positions.

A tally of only one point from the last two games is well under expectations and what was hoped for, particularly given the fact that we scored four times in the two matches, including, interestingly enough, three goals from set pieces, something that augurs well for the future.

The Championship is tough and unforgiving and any mistakes and shortcomings are punished mercilessly as the Bees have really found out to their cost over the past two games.

Dean Smith has now had three matches to run his eye over his squad and come to some initial decisions about the makeup of his best team and I suspect that there will be some changes made for the next game.

We have options in pretty much every position and Harlee Dean and maybe even Max Colin might well be looking at Saturday’s team sheet with some level of hope and expectation given the porous nature of our defence in the past couple of games.

The forbidding and quite frankly, scary, presence of Alan McCormack last night might well have galvanised some of his team mates into more strenuous action, particularly in the first half, but for all his passion, bite, drive and positive dressing room influence, I feel that his time as a first team regular has perhaps come and gone as we are now looking to play a more patient, technical and cerebral brand of football in which the likes of McEachran will play an integral part.

The last two matches have provided us with a real learning curve and the harsh lessons need to be taken on board extremely quickly.

I believe that a top ten finish is most likely the summit of our ambitions and expectations for the remainder of the season but unless we are able to eliminate the quantity and type of defensive errors and shortcomings to which we have become far too prone lately, then we will fall short of that target. Get it right and also become less profligate up front, then, who knows, we might yet even challenge for a playoff spot.

We are so nearly a very good team. When we are on song we are capable of an exceptional brand of exciting, one-touch, imaginative and incisive football that just lacks the final touch.

We have some quite exceptional midfield players and McEachran last night demonstrated that we now have an abundance of riches in that department. Our sole problem will be in identifying the optimum blend and ensuring that we have round pegs in round holes.

Last night was ultimately a massive disappointment, but at halftime we looked as if we were going to be beaten out of sight and whilst to lose in the manner that we did is utterly frustrating and infuriating, at least we roused ourselves from our torpor, came alive after the interval and so nearly recovered from a seemingly impossible situation – even if it had been one that was mainly of our own making.

Christmas is a time for giving but we have been more than generous enough already and it is now time for us to start resembling Scrooge rather than Santa Claus.

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20 thoughts on “Far Too Much Christmas Generosity from The Bees! – 16/12/15

  1. Thought we weren’t that bad first half,as we all know we need a striker and with Djuricin back soon and hopefully additions in January this will be addressed.The midfield you have highlighted fills me with excitement for the second half of the season.

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  2. It is just that we are close and getting even closer to being a fantastic team and it is frustrating when we throw points away like we have done over the past two games.

    I do worry about the striking situation and understand that we need to be patient.

    We are still new to the Championship and have to understand that whilst most established teams a this level have experienced and effective strikers, they come at a massive cost – and are beyond dour means.

    I am not sure if Djuricin is the real answer as he is best in a two rather than playing on his own up front.

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  3. I wasn’t at Cardiff but this looks to be an honest and fair assessment of the game and where we are at. DS has been loyal and fair to the players in possession of the shirts, 1 point from the past 2 games, where a 4 point return would have been very winnable suggest a touch too loyal. Annoying to lose to Russel Slade side at any time too.

    We haven’t beaten a side above us in the division, and big direct sides like Cardiff are our worst nightmare – we just cant deal with them. We sack off cheap goals every week and don’t have a decent striker. Despite this our away performances are often full of promise, but return little in terms of points.

    No more Mr nice guy Dean, the honeymoon is over and we have very tough games to come. Dean & Colin need to now come back in, and any list of January targets needs to include a pacy physical striker. 55 points can’t come soon enough, then we can see where we go from there.

    Mid table seems about the limit of our ambitions at present, not a disaster, but well behind the clubs own targets.

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    • Think all clubs are looking for a striker in our league,maybe even Burnley after all Gray hasn’t scored in 5 lol.Mid table is about where we are going to have to settle for this season and that’s fine for me.My only fear is losing Judge in January as he is by far our best player imho.Some of our football last night in the second half was superb.We do miss a Macca type in midfield though.

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      • Absolutely true, i’m realsitic on this but think we need to be looking for another Gray type player in the lower divisions, hard to find but not impossible. I think it’s the type of player rather than the actual player if you get my meaning. Pace, power, the stuff Vardy does for Leicester. We don’t have anything like that, Djuricin is a finisher, Vibe needs to be in a 2, Hoffman does the hold up work and a bit more.

        Take your point on Gray – we got a good deal on him and he was raw, still plenty of learning to do.

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  4. What is your view on the Judge situation Bill as I am going to have to write an article soon about the strength of the squad and what January might bring? Would you like to write an article giving your own opinion?

    As for Macca, I have thought long and hard and I would prefer him as a non-playing captain available to gee us up in the dressing room. I think we have progressed beyond him but nights like yesterday do show we have a soft underbelly still.

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  5. I have already written about our three strikers and thinking about it, I would try and find a way of offloading Vibe and try and replace him with a pacy, strong channel runner with some arial ability – if we can afford such a player. As for Djuricin…..

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  6. Re my earlier comment my now “famous” friend,John Barr, was at Cardiff last night.He too was very impressed with your analysis. For me there was some consolation(not much) for the devatating last minute twist to the game when the news came through that Walsall won their cup replay on penalties.That nicely set up the clash at GP next month.Due to the DS factor this game will almost certainly attract considerable media attention.And if we get the right result we can all dream of a FourthRound tie with the likes of Arsenal,Celsea , ManU or even Leicester !! I should have typed devastating. I really am struggling with my keyboard skills!

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  7. Patient, technical and cerebral is great but in this division you need an enforcer to allow those types of players to thrive. I normally agree with your analysis but not on this occasion. You rightly say we are outmuscled by teams above us…, well take a look at their midfiields and you’ll see most have a battle scarred ball winner…. Ours last night was presumably KK who imho wouldn’t cut it in many League 1 sides.
    He will come good but he’s nowhere near ready yet. The striker problem is obvious and will be sorted in Jan but to create chances you have to win the midfield battle. Cerebral and technical is great and lovely to watch but you need the ball to carry it out

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  8. Thanks Jim, so I assume you would have McCormack in the eleven? I can see where he is needed particularly on nights like at Cardiff but I still see him as a retrograde step and am waiting for the more gifted midfield alternatives to learn to put their foot in and do the job instead/

    Maybe it won’t happen.

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    • To add to the midfield debate , although I agree that Macca is a leader and motivator of men , I do also believe that as Ryan Woods matures and becomes more familiar with the team ethos he will better provide the tenacious ‘foil that allows Diagouraga to relax and play his best football . In this context , I would like to see a five man midfield involving Toums at the defensive base with McEachran ahead marshalling centre midfield with Woods and Judge rotating and Jota pushing up on the right to provide improved distribution for Vibe to find the pockets and use his latent speed on the edge of the box . It’s not the final solution to mount a serious promotion challenge but it’s the best we have to offer until the January window opens and Djuricin returns.. Unfortunately, very few of us have seen enough of the enigmatic Lewis MacLeod to judge how or where he fits into this ’embarrassment of riches’ equation !!

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      • One thing i’m now convinced of is that like it or not, we aren’t going to try to match up to other sides in terms of physicality. Our MO is all about playing around teams and with good technical players, speed of thought, accuracy of the pass and top notch fitness levels. People like me can wish for enforcers all we like, but we won’t see them amongst this generation of BFC players.

        I loved what Bournemouth did as they progressed from L1 to the Premier League, they seemed to have both parts of the game covered. Maybe that’s why we are doing OK but realistically a mid table side, whilst they have pushed on.

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  9. We are not going to change how we play and we are always going to struggle against the bigger and stronger teams.

    Are we happy with this state of affairs or should we try and address it?

    The problem is we can afford good ball players or reasonable kickers but not a combination of the two!

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  10. I’m a great believer in compromise, so yes if it were on me i’d try to strike a balance. There are a lot of teams up the top of this division that win ugly and grind it out – we don’t really have this in the locker. We are now a lite version of last years side, we can pop the ball about beautifully but still lack a strikers goals and doggedness defensively to be much more than pleasing on the eye.

    Loads of gettable talent in L1/L2 – that’s where i’d be looking.

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