Looking Back And Forward – 14/1/16

I was really pleased to see that the general reaction to Tuesday’s nights frustrating and totally undeserved defeat by Championship leaders Middlesbrough was an extremely positive one and that the overwhelming majority of Brentford supporters recognised how good certain aspects of our performance really were.

Like everyone else immediately after the end of the game, I was angry and disappointed at how capriciously we had been treated by the fates, however in the cold light of day now that emotions have died down, I realise that there was so much to be pleased and proud about in terms of how we performed against perhaps the best team in the league as well of course as a further reminder and confirmation of all the areas in which we need to improve and work on.

I will wait until after the Burnley match tomorrow night before trying to assess what is likely to be in store for us for the remainder of the season and what we have to look forward to.

In the meantime I thought that it might be enlightening to look back at how some other supporters assessed our performance against the league leaders.

Rebel Bee was as outspoken as normal, and long may he remain so:

I agree with your match summary so I just add honest comments and apologise in advance if they are too blunt for some.

  • New signings stepping up. Woods and Colin both outstanding – and had their best games in the stripes.
  • Vibe, looked dangerous for 15 minutes and had them worried, he then totally vanished – why?
  • Saunders & Swift were bothpassengers, we carried them both until they were hooked. Swift has real talent but doesn’t seem to want it enough and is too flicky at times. Sam’s dead balls were really poor, and he is possibly coming to the end of his time at Griffin Park.
  • It was great to see Toums and Tarks starting and both put in a very good shift. Judge didn’t quite hit his best but was decent throughout. We will struggle badly without any of these at present.
  • We played well, yet lack the things Boro have in spades (nous), we are so naive at this level, and remain error prone.
  • If I see Boro again it’ll be far too soon. I hope they go up and then get smashed every week playing like they do. Give me a Watford, Bournemouth or Norwich any day over this lot.
  • Forshaw may be better off financially but he’d have been far better off starting for us last night as our star man, instead he’s picking up splinters in his arse and moving down the pecking order with them. Total madness.
  • Our season’s ambition is now safety – that’s all.
  • Where do they find these referees – he was conned by them all night.

I guess I should elaborate a bit on my take on Swift. I think he has a lot of talent and disproves the theory that we don’t produce technically gifted footballers in England. And he is still young. I think he is unfortunate in that he has to date mostly played development football, and needs to acquire the hunger and a little of the physicality that you see from those that have worked their way up the divisions. To be fair it was a tough test against very streetwise opponents yesterday, and he is one to watch, and I am glad we have him.

Peter Lumley was also bemoaning our fate:

Walking away from Griffin Park last night I could not recall feeling so dismayed at the outcome of a game we could and should have won. We totally dominated possession and had eleven corners to their five.

But more importantly, Middlesbrough committed twice as many fouls as us.

Their defence has won many plaudits for its strength and organisation But few have spotlighted the cynical fouls and faked injuries that must be condoned by their manager.

If they want to gain promotion by playing the way they do then good luck to them. I can only hope that Brentford are never tempted to follow their example !

Their message to referees appears to be: “do not penalise us, it’s just what we do!” Yes the Bees did contribute to their own downfall by wasting two great scoring chances in the opening minutes. But once again the run of the ball went against us when David Button made a split second decision to push the ball away from a corner taken in a swirling wind.

Also I cannot recall a half season when so many controversial refereeing decisions have gone against us.Many say that these decisions even out over a whole season.Let us hope that they do!

beesyellow22 has also made some extremely sensible and well thought through comments:

Good article, Greville. Good comments too. I do not totally agree with Rebel Bee (who always writes with great insight I must say) with regards to Swift.

I thought he was actually pretty good last night and linked up well on the left with Bidders, Woods and (occasionally) Vibe. I do agree that he is “flicky” though!

Sadly, I also agree that Saunders is more representative of the past than the future. Last season saw him and Yennaris do great things on loan at Wycombe and, surely if we are to be serious about pushing for promotion next season, we have to put sentimentality to one side and accept that it’s time to look for new attacking options and let Sam leave?

At League One or Two level he could still make a real difference but at Championship level I think he’s too much of a passenger.

I thought that Tarky and Toums played pretty well but I also felt that perhaps Tarky might have had his mind elsewhere at times. Perhaps that’s inevitable when you know that another team wants you (and will pay you more and take you back up north to where your roots are).

Overall I thought we were great last night and against a lesser side we would have surely won. You can’t blame Button for his error – he has been brilliant for us all season and made some excellent saves last night too (his header out at full stretch in the first half was superb).

Yes, we know how Middlesbrough play and last night they didn’t disappoint. I actually didn’t think they were as cynical as they were last season, mainly because we played such excellent stuff in the first half. They never had the ball!

The key points for me are two-fold: first, we desperately need a Jonathan Douglas type player to put a bit of steel in the side, galvanise the team and bite the legs of the opposition and secondly we obviously need a long-term replacement for Andre Gray. Vibe does his best and I like him a lot but as has been said many times, he won’t (can’t?) hold the ball up and bring the midfield in like Andre did last season.

I like Djuricin a lot (his passion for the cause is marvellous) and am really looking forward to seeing what he can do between now and May. I hope he starts on Friday, as he always looks really dangerous and capable of sticking it in the back of the net – if he has the service.

I’m trying to remain upbeat about things but it is difficult when you play so well and lose yet again! The manager’s interview with Billy Reeves was really positive and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next season when he a) has spent a sustained period with the squad and b) has hopefully brought in a few players of his own that will see Brentford start to take the shape of what can justifiably be called a ‘Dean Smith team.

Michael Ohl was also pleased with what he had seen and was optimistic about the future:

It’s not nice losing to teams like Middlesbrough for the reasons already stated. No real flair, cynical, tough, badgering the referee etc.

Do we want to be like that, and be top or play the Brentford way with all the ups and downs that that entails?

There has to be a middle way or more accurately we have to stop making so many unforced errors.

Although we had a lot of chances, the last half hour was total frustration. We just couldn’t find a way to break them down, and I really couldn’t see us scoring. If we had taken our chances at the start . . . would we have won? Or would we have given it away?

I don’t know if I am alone, but I am always expecting now to see some sloppy pass to which the opposition say thanks very much and capitalises upon. In this respect Toumani is the one I most expect it from, with Tarkowski and Dean closely behind.

I try not to be too critical about our players, but, Reading notwithstanding, the last few games have been just so frustrating. Surely the players must feel the same?

Watching Brentford these days is not for the faint hearted.

Let’s see what Friday brings.

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11 thoughts on “Looking Back And Forward – 14/1/16

  1. It’s very easy to say ‘I’d hate to be a Boro fan and watch that every week.’ Well – they don’t seem to hate it; in fact their crowds have increased massively since Karanka came in and introduced this style of football.

    I’m not advocating that we play like this, just suggesting – as others have – that we need a bit more nastiness and steel in our own side. Their style will take them back to the promised land where their fans feel they belong. I don’t think we would care if we went up playing that way.

    I thought Woods and, in particular, Colin were very good on Tuesday.

    Swift had one of his better games for us but his decision-making is still woeful in my opinion. Doesn’t read the game well despite his obvious talent.

    Saunders isn’t good enough – obviously. Thanks for your service, but please go.

    None of our strikers offer even 50% of what Gray did.

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  2. 1. I thought Jim Levack made a really good point a couple of days ago, the hard man isn’t just needed on the field but off the field before the game – “Every side needs a player who the opposition look at in the tunnel and think “I don’t fancy this”. It’s the first part of the battle won before a ball is even kicked”.

    2. Are Boro just being professional and are we a bit soft about this? I personally don’t think so, but I remember how that supposedly great manager Ferguson used to coach his players to pressurise the ref, e.g. forming a semi-circle very close to him and shouting in his face.

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  3. Hope i’m not too outspoken, I just love my BFC and want us to do well.

    I guess Boro are making sure they get the job done after losing out in the PO’s, I suppose we can’t blame them and Steve Gibson is to them what MB is to us.

    Some teams in the division try to play our way, whilst others are more industrial (Boro, Bolton, Wednesday, Brum as examples). We seem to be searching for something pure, highly technical, as the antidote to their style. At times we’ve got close, for the moment we are a way off. It’s no secret that these direct teams take too many points off of us. I’m of the view that the only way we’ll now sign anyone who has the physical attributes that we lack, is if they are also one hell of a good footballer.

    We need a win tomorrow, and so does Dean Smith – i’m not 100% but imagine Burnley will probably have a similar approach to the game as Boro.

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    • On reading some of the above comments I get the impression that a significant number of Bees fans might be happy to see us adopt the Middlesbrough “style of play” if it meant we could improve our chances of winning promotion.Maybe I am old-fashioned but do we really want to watch a”nasty” side that commits crude and cynical fouls,fakes injuries to waste time,harasses referees and employs “hard” men to intimidate opponents in the tunnel before “a ball is kicked” I am quite sure that if we did go down that road,whereas the number of Middlesbrough fans has increased,attendances at GP would drop like a stone.Many years ago I can remember seeing the great John Charles, who had the physique to flatten any opponent,earn the nickname “the gentle giant” because he seldom committed a single foul. Other great players of yesteryear like Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney hardly ever made physical contact with an opponent let alone commit a foul . I rest my case.

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      • In my opinion you are mixing up two things, physicality and cynical fouling. John Charles was probably one of the best of all time, he could also play anywhere on the field, but he played when tackling through a player or hacking him down from behind, or charging into the goalie was normal. He was gentle in comparison at the time, but also a very physical player and would not be considered gentle today. Football is a physical contact sport and physicality and the willingness to commit and win the 50/50 balls is part of what makes one team better, you can call this intimidation if you like, but it has nothing to do with cynical “professional” fouling or conning the ref.

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  4. Maybe because of my age my memory is letting me down but I cannot recall seeing John Charles play in the way described.Of course I am not suggesting every player should perform like a Stanley Matthews.Physical attributes have their place in the game but so does “fair play” Brentford.s real needs at the moment in my opinion are 1) At least one striker who can be relied upon to score 20-25 goals a season a la Jim Towers,George Francis,Steve Phillips and Gary Blissett.If physicality is all important how did Phillips score so many goals.? 2) Two central defenders who possess the attributes of Dean and Tarkowski but are not so prone to making so many silly mistakes. Players like Terry Evans,Jamie Bates and Peter Gelson are perfect examples.Finally, no one could argue that Ken Coote demonstrated physicality but he was perhaps one of the finest and most consistent defenders we have ever had.i

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    • I don’t think it is your memory because I can’t ever remember seeing him play apart from 30 seconds on Pathe News. I don’t think we disagree, it is a question of balance, and a team is the sum of many parts, and in my view you do need some “hard men” in the team, most good teams have at least one in my memory.

      As a matter of interest, I found this quote from Jack Charlton about John Charles –
      “He’d never go through somebody or kick them from behind, as centre backs often did in our day. But John used to run with his arms stretched out, and he was so big and strong, you just couldn’t get close to him without being whacked. I remember one guy getting too close to him and being knocked clean over by these massive, powerful arms. They may have called him the Gentle Giant, but when it came to the tricks of the trade, John was right up there with the best of them!”

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      • I was intrigued to see Spanish Bee admit that his comments about John Charles were based on 30 seconds of play on Pathe News ! Also curious that he should cite that paragon of virtue,Jack Charlton, as someone qualified to pass an objective judgement on John Charles. Jack played between Billy Bremner and Norman “bite your legs” Hunter in the infamous Leeds half-back line of the Don Revie era!! Enough said.

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  5. I do like reading the replies from you guys as much as i enjoy Greville’s blog. We come a long way to watch Brentford play (Northamptonshire). Boring, boring Arsenal, the Mourinho way, attack attack attack at Old Trafford – these football slurs, chants & styles all point to the same thing. Crowds want to be entertained; all of us! Being labelled as boring at a game that requires skill is a reflection of ability, which is why so many fans hate this label.

    I cannot think of anything that would fill me with more dread than to put my hand in my pocket to watch the likes of what Birmingham & Middlesborough serve up as sporting entertainment. I wonder how many at Old Trafford would swap a loss or two for weekly excitement, thrills & adventurous football. Hell, my favourite team to watch in the Premiership at the moment is Liverpool & not because they win every week.

    No thanks. I am more than happy to pay to see Brentford play ‘our brand’ of football because winning is great; but utterly outperorming your opponents because you were just too good is classy!

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  6. Personally i’d take your hand off if you offered me BFC being a good passing side, playing in this division and never facing relegation worries. Sadly I can’t vote for this, and in truth it wouldn’t be enough for MB, or many of our supporters. So it kinda raises the question as to what we need to progress, and inevitably this opens the debate on the players we have and the way we play. As much as we genuinely do lack a few leader / enforcer types, we do also lack pace and power – attributes given to us by Moses, Andre & Stuart last season. The more I think about it the more this becomes the thing we need to add, whilst at the same time ensuring good technique. You can’t foul and be as physical these days, and everyone fears pace and powerful runners. It’s a similar formula to the one that worked so well for Watford imho.

    Anyways just my 2 bobs worth.

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