There was a lot of muttering after Saturday’s defeat by Walsall regarding the team rotation and selection, the apparently cavalier way it appeared that some of the players treated the FA Cup given the lack of zip and intensity of our overall performance, particularly in the first half, plus concerns about whether we are likely to recover for the two tough matches that lie ahead this week as well as even the half time parade around the pitch by the FC Midtjylland squad. In fact I think I shall just let everybody vent and offload today given how fed up most of you sounded.
John Hirdle can start us off and I agree with every word he said:
Our First half performance was as insipid and as uninspiring as I have seen in a long time. Dean Smith’s pre match words regarding picking a team to respect the competition and to win the game seemed very hollow indeed. I felt sorry for Hoffman. He is no solo striker and had no support whatsoever from midfield. A baffling tactical line up given Smith’s inside knowledge of the opposition. As you rightly say all will be forgotten quickly if we can get things right both on Tuesday and Friday, and we return to the tempo and energetic game we know we are capable of to prosper in this league.
It does seem that the club and the players these days don’t seem to give a toss about the Cup competitions. Even with reduced admission prices, the inevitable outcome is that the fans will eventually vote with their feet and just give these games a miss in the knowledge that the club has no desire to progress in them. I find this very sad indeed.
Clive Longhurst had lots of questions and absolutely no answers but his comments certainly concentrate the mind!
Great article, as always. My worries are: will this be an “Arsenal week”, when, in six days our season effectively ends? How did our philosophy of attacking, pressing football dissipate so quickly?
The “if Judge goes we’re sunk” therorists seemed to include the rest of the team yesterday! How much strength in depth do we actually have? If Saturday’s team weren’t good enough to beat a team we could be facing in the league next season, which players are pressurising our first team for their places? We have people, but do we have sufficient strength in depth?
Is it a mere coincidence that all the players who have been transfer targets over the summer and January all came from British clubs. Are our European signings still struggling to become acclimatised to British football (I realise that Jota is the exception that proves my rule)?
I overheard our chairman (at a certain book signing in the club shop) say he didn’t think we would “do much business” in the January window. Does that mean the bids for our players have come as a surprise and, if they prove successful, do we have replacements in our sights or will we be forced into more team selections like the one we saw yesterday?
Will a parade of a more successful football team at half time yesterday be an inspiration to our team or fill them with feelings of being the poor relation?
I hate posing questions and not offering solutions but, I just don’t know. My optimism and confidence in the club and its management have been dented. I hope my worries will be reduced in seven days and forgotten by the end of January but, it’s Brentford innit!
Former player Richard Poole puts things into context as he reminds us of a time when players just got on with things and rotation had not yet been invented:
I was not there on Saturday but Brentford, like all the other teams rest their players and don’t bother with the cup competitions Of course I realise that football is much harder physically than when I played. At that time we had only a sixteen man squad as well as two youngsters.
I rememember at Easter time on the Friday we played at Colchester, on Saturday we went to Chester, two matches in two days, plus all the travelling, then we hosted Colchester, the team at the top of the table, at Griffin Park on Tuesday evening. On the following Saturday we had Bradford at home and at the age of sixteen I played in all of them and just missed the first half at Chester.
Today’s players are, or should be, in top condition. We had poor training facilities and did not even have the use of a gym. Our supporters have to get up every day and go to work and most footballers will tell you that they would prefer to play games rather than just train. All this talk abut tired legs makes me smile. I know that many of our players have been out injured and I would like to know how many games each player has played since the start of the season.
In other words footballers today are totally mollycoddled.
Peter Lumley also wasn’t very happy:
Everyone, however competent, has the odd bad day at the office and I am afraid Dean Smith had one such day on Saturday. I had no problem with the team selection. What bemused me was the way the Bees played so deep in the first half. It was as though they were relying on breakaways without trying to make any! Dean Smith has to take some responsibility. He cannot just blame the players for the unbelievably bad performance.
Tim Ward echoed his sentiments:
That was really frustrating. I, like you, love the cup and had been looking forward to this game. I knew Walsall would be a good side and provide tough opposition but had assumed that we’d be prepared and up for it.
Im not sure what you think but I really hoped that when we needed to make changes we could have taken the game to them by replacing Macca with Marco and playing two up front. I thought The Hof actually played quite well and has the ability to bring other players into the game but was so isolated up there on his own – I felt frustrated for him.
As Clive alludes to above I hope there isn’t a resignation amongst the team that we will lose Judge. It did look a bit like that.
Interestingly I thought we really missed Tarky and Toums – not so much defensively but in the way they bring the ball out and start the counter attack. The replacements just don’t seem to be the same type of players. Early days maybe but the team did look unbalanced and predictable.
One last point. I wish that more players would take responsibility for shooting. I know that Dean said he wanted more shots (and how good was Woods at Reading) but too many times they seem to be trying to craft the perfect goal.
As I said, I fell frustrated!
I quite agree with Tim’s comments and think that a Plan B should be considered where necessary and playing two up front for the last fifteen minutes might have been a good idea unless Hofmann had run himself out.
Michael Ohl also did not enjoy what he saw:
The FA Cup matters to me as well Greville. That it appears to not matter to players makes me sad.
I think we should give some credit to Walsall. They were keener, quite attractive to watch and should they go up I think they should do just fine. They can only play what is up against them and yes Brentford were that bad and if would have been unfair to them if we had sneaked past them and won the game.
There was a lot of negativity from the Ealing Road end, and some pretty vitriolic comments made about Hoffman, unfairly I think.
I hope the saving of players for the week ahead is justified, but I have a gnawing feeling that it won’t be a good week.
I hope I am wrong.
Rebel Bee found fault with pretty much everything and I cannot argue with much of what he said:
A very good selection of comments.
Richard Poole’s reminiscences on squad size and fixture congestion back in the day are something that our staff should read. I’ve been around the block with Brentford FC like you all, and the great moments have to be savoured, whilst the hits are taken on the chin. But we follow a club where everything is analysed, and by many measures we aren’t where we wanted to be in terms of squad strength, depth and our transfer dealings.
Four home cup defeats since promotion is no accident and who can blame fans for not turning out on the evidence seen – 6,500 Bees showed up yesterday for a game versus a League One side – not bad is it?
I didn’t think there was much in the game in truth, they shaded it I guess. Worryingly until Alan Judge’s entrance our only creative spark came from Swift and Canos – two loanees – not good. We won’t score many with Hoff or Vibe as the lone front man and Djuricin is a finisher, he can’t head the ball or hold up up, so for me he needs to play with Hoffmann in a two man front line.
Most of the injured players are now back on the scene, and it seems that we over estimated the bounce this would give us.
Early days I know, but I feel but Dean Smith needs a decent week on and off the pitch, otherwise we could slump and we are not safe yet.
As for the FC Midtjylland halftime parade – frankly it was ill judged and a bit embarrassing.
I cannot see us changing from 4-2-3-1 as it has worked so well for us, but as I said above, we should show some flexibility when necessary. I think that the more accurate way of looking at it is to realise that none of our three strikers really suit the way that we play and we have yet replace Andre Gray with a player of similar style.
The parade didn’t bother me at all and I think that it just did not help that it came on a day when we so patently underperformed and fans were looking for things to criticise.
beesyellow22 provides some sort of perspective
Another great post, Greville and I agree with many of the comments above.
It was a very curious performance from Brentford. As has been discussed, we backed off them throughout the first half and gave them far too much time on the ball. We weren’t really on it in any department and failed to create anything of any real note.
It was strange, because when I saw the lineup before the kick off I actually felt quite excited. All the changes made seemed entirely acceptable and it looked like a great opportunity to give good players who have been warming the bench in recent weeks a decent run out. To me, our starting eleven didn’t look particularly terrible and I wouldn’t have said that we were either disrespecting Walsall or failing to take the competition seriously. Unfortunately what transpired over the course of that first forty-five minutes proved otherwise.
A weak, insipid, tired, uninspiring performance from a side which displayed none of our usual exciting cut and thrust and devil-may-care free-flowing football. Lots of huff and puff from the Hoff (or should that be Hoff and puff) but no incision and one solitary shot on goal. Canos was completely nullified by Walsall’s left-back who was superb throughout and the team from League One were superior in every department.
Second half we looked sharper, but Walsall never looked like getting beaten and, but for the post, would have wound up winning by even more.
I am reluctant to criticise either the manager or the players but we really did seem curiously subdued yesterday. If anything, it reminded me of watching Dijkhuizen’s Brentford – no sense of common purpose and a general lack of any discernible game plan. This is obviously disappointing, because the FA Cup is still a massive competition and, as a (usually) exciting, high tempo, free-scoring Championship side, I was hopeful that this season we might be capable of a decent cup run.
I thought the manager was right to rest Judge, Tarkowski and Toums because I believed that the players coming in would seize their chance with relish. Yes, I knew the dangers Walsall would pose and I also realised how desperate they would be to have some kind of revenge over Dean Smith. However, I was confident that we would have both the strength in depth and high intensity kind of football to edge it on the day.
How wrong I was.
We now move onto two massive, potentially season-defining games in four days. It doesn’t get any tougher than playing Boro and it will be fascinating to see how we play on Tuesday night. I was genuinely depressed about how easily we got beaten on Saturday and how little fight many of the players appeared to have (with the exception of Judge and also Swift, who I thought had a great game personally).
I still have faith in our new manager and hopefully finally breaking the Middlesbrough hoodoo will go some way to erasing the memories of the Walsall game. But it was a curious one and I, like the rest of us, am still scratching my head as to why we were so awful.
I will end with these comments which are an excellent summation of where we are.
This is a crucial week for the Bees and at the end of it we will know far more about where we are going this season. Saturday left us all feeling flat and we desperately need a spark and some good news given all the uncertainty currently surrounding the future of a few of our best players.
Jota’s loss is also an unexpected and bitter blow that we will just have to deal with and it also did not help how well Kemar Roofe performed yesterday. There have been rumours on social media that we have been looking at Oxford United’s exciting young player and his brilliant two goal performance against Swansea and Oxford’s victory might make it far more difficult, if not impossible for us to sign him if those rumours were in fact correct, given the hype that will now surround him.
I am excited and, I confess, a little bit worried too about how this week will pan out but I expect that we will recover from Saturday and put in two committed and excellent performances – you cannot really ask for more than that.