I gave some grudging praise, as well as some deserved brickbats to Birmingham City after their late and extremely fortunate victory against us on Saturday and suggested that I would even draw the curtains if Birmingham were playing in my back garden so boring, negative and lacking in adventure and attacking ideas were our opponents.
I wanted to gauge the views of fellow Brentford supporters in terms of how they feel about our approach which is always to chase the win and never to settle for a draw even if we risk losing by doing so, as in fact has been the case in two of our last three away games when we have conceded late and crucial goals after fighting our way back to equality.
Should we always go hell for leather for the three points on offer or are there times when it would be more sensible and prudent to settle for one?
Michael Ohl was happy overall with our playing philosophy but pointed out some of our shortcomings:
I agree with you Greville about not settling for a draw – watching The Bees these days is not for the faint hearted. Also, it is a team game, so although Harlee made the original mistake, it was in their half – so where was the cover?
I think we could do with a couple of good defensive midfielders who also have a bit of flair. Clone McCormack? We ARE lightweight in that area.
For this season I am content to watch The Bees play entertaining football, knowing that our ambitions are to be in the Premier League. And when we get there I want us to stay there. That means a team with depth, experience and skill.
Unfortunately, players like the ones he mentioned – a Bradley Johnson, for example are few and far between at our level and also totally unaffordable given our current limited resources.
Peter Lumley was far more resigned and fatalistic about Saturday’s defeat:
Any long term supporters of Brentford could have forecast the inevitable defeat almost from the kick-off knowing Birmingham’s game plan. That is what sets us apart from the fans of the likes of Middlesbrough, Derby and Hull!
Rebel Bee also pointed to a weakness in midfield as well as the problems we face with three tough home games looming up over an intense six day period:
Birmingham certainly have the drop on us and that is a hugely disappointing fact, and whilst I agree with your sentiments regarding our playing style versus theirs, this feeling won’t last indefinitely. Three interesting games over the Christmas period, and a four point return felt just about right, although our best performance was at home to Brighton.
What is weird for me is that our gifted midfield has been a bit of a mess over the last games and that as more players become available Dean Smith needs to find his best combination from the array of options we have. And perhaps make some additions and changes.
Some of us crave a midfield enforcer, or to see more of Alan Mac ( the only squad player of this type) but sadly I’ve accepted the reality that we just won’t sign such players in the future, they are not part of our philosophy. We are only after ball players and try to pass around sides and play a slightly more industrial version of Barca’s wonderful football from a few years back.
We are patently some way off being promotion or playoff contenders, so for me the task now is to carefully secure and assemble a side that can really challenge next term. Finishing as strongly as possible of course, also try to go a few rounds in the FA Cup. We must try to avoid the huge churn of players seen last summer – that work starts now.
We have three really tough games to come, in six days and all at Griffin Park – whilst the spectre of the transfer window looms over us. It’s a real test for Dean Smith and the boys, but one that they need for us to see what we really have.
Former Brentford striker Richard Poole reminded us all of a much loved and feared Brentford midfield dynamo and enforcer from long ago and the influence that he had on friend and foe alike and how we could do with someone like him now:
All this is food for thought but it comes down for me that for the past two years we have needed a grafter in our side just like Brentford had in the seventies. Jackie Graham was the man and, yes, he was a talented footballer with an eye for a pass who could play football as well as anyone else in the team but on top of that he could also destroy the opposition’s midfield. He was a winner even without the football and totally controlled the midfield area.
Look at the best teams around today. Even Arsenal who pride themselves upon maintaining possession feel the need for Flamini or Coquelin to protect their more delicate ball players. This is something that I feel Brentford are missing.
I totally agree with Richard and yearn for a Jackie Graham, Terry Hurlock or even Jonathan Douglas type figure who could fill that gap for us.
Mike Rice had to suffer in silence on Saturday:
A few points Greville, having experienced superb hospitality with my Blues-supporting in-laws. Interestingly, all of them were convinced that the referee was on our side, given the number of free kicks he gave us, particularly in the second half. They were getting quite incensed, but naturally I agreed with almost all of his decisions, except when he gave us a free kick from a breakaway, instead of playing an advantage. He couldn’t wait to brandish yet another yellow card!
I agree with all of your comments about Birmingham, good and bad, but want to add some context. The owner is in jail and the current manager inherited League One quality players (e.g. Donaldson and Cotterill) signed by Lee Clark, and some talented juniors and a few loanees (such as Toral who couldn’t get a regular game with us). He has done a superb job organising them into a team challenging for the playoffs.
We played the first half with all of the possession, but in front of their two banks of four. In the second half, they were told to close us down and give us less time on the ball and perhaps shake us up, which duly worked very well. They played like an away side and were very negative, but I would contend that Gary Rowett has little choice with the players at his disposal. They certainly know how to execute his game plan.
And as for watching Birmingham every week; you should have experienced the delight all around me when they scored their second goal. It may be about the glory, but winning when you know you’re second best (and the ref’s supposedly against you) can be very, very satisfying! There were a lot of smiling faces after the game.
I said after the game that I would not swap a single Birmingham player for a Brentford player with a view to improving our team. Birmingham are far more than the sum of their parts, but I do wonder with Financial Fair Play if our owner’s playing style aspirations currently far overreach our ability to achieve them successfully. Roll on Lionel Road!
Mike Lumley also has a reasonable point to make:
I agree with most of your comments and observations on what the Birmingham game ( and others like them) tell us. However, I am a bit perplexed by the implied assumption that we either have to be a devil may care collection of death or glory heroes or a bunch of faceless defensive drones .
The difference between the class of 2014/15 and our current squad is that last season’s group combined the best of both worlds – with the aggression and clatter of Dougie and Toums complemented perfectly by the flair and panache of Jota and Pritchard. I also believe that despite his alleged negativity and outspokenness, Dougie would still be a regular starter this season if he had not fallen out with the owner and opened his mouth once too often.
We are where we are – and despite my earlier views – I may have to accept that Alan McCormack may be a better option ( at least pro tem) alongside Toums and Ryan Woods than Josh McEachran who still seems to be struggling with the intensity and hurly burly of Championship football. I also believe that with the current set up – a playoff berth is already beyond us this season but add in a genuine box-to-box replacement for Douglas and additional cover for Djuricin/Hogan ( either now or in the summer) and we will be major contenders next season.
I will let Rebel Bee have the last word:
The choice isn’t about going for a win or parking the bus, it’s about sensible risk versus reward which doesn’t mean that you have to give soft goals away does it?
Bees fans I know assume that Josh McEachran will step into the side and be all the things we want him to be, for me he still has plenty to do and prove in order to be a starter at this level – maybe he’s one to come good next season?
And that is where we came in!