A Missed Opportunity – 27/1/16

Let’s just get things into context for a moment.  I am sure that most Brentford supporters left Griffin Park last night frustrated and not a little fed up after Jake Bidwell’s calamitous and most untypical error gifted Leeds United a late and totally unmerited equaliser that cost Brentford two crucial points as we attempt to stay on the coat tails of the playoff chasing pack.

This morning I have had some time to think more carefully and rationally about the events of last night and now my overriding view is quite simply how far we have come as both a team and a football club when we are moaning and gnashing our teeth at our failure to defeat one of the country’s biggest and most established teams – tarnished and faded glory that they undoubtedly are.

I well remember our inferiority complex when we played Leeds in 2009 after a gap of several decades and our sheer incredulity that the minnows of Brentford were allowed to share a pitch with the giants of Elland Road.

Oh, and by the way, times have changed. Leeds have not beaten us on any of the six occasions that we have played them since then and there was only one team trying to play football out there last night.

It was also Groundhog Day as there was a similar sense of frustration earlier in the season when we totally dominated proceedings at Elland Road, squandered chance after chance to score what would undoubtedly have been a match clinching second goal and then succumbed to a late equaliser after an unforced error when Ryan Woods was caught in possession.

Last night saw us play some quality football particularly in the first half when we totally dominated but failed to make our possession count – a failing that came back to haunt us after the break when we put the handbrake on and created very little.

Had we held on, as we should have done, and emerged with a confidence boosting and much needed and long overdue home win, as well as the first clean sheet of the year, then we would today be congratulating the team for a solid, competent and professional performance.

The fact that we were unable to see the game through was certainly galling and provided further proof, if any was needed, that we are still a work in progress and nowhere near the finished article, but there was also much to take pride and pleasure in.

Sam Saunders was a bundle of energy and effervescence and he frolicked around with the enthusiasm of a new born lamb.

He scored a beautifully taken goal when he ran at the heart of the Leeds defence from the halfway line and distracted as they were by the excellent decoy runs of Judge and Vibe, they criminally backed off him and Sam picked his spot perfectly into the corner of the net from the edge of the area before deservedly milking the applause from the Ealing Road faithful.

Sam is rumoured to be on his way shortly to Tampa Bay but given the sheer professionalism and excellence of his performance last night there is surely still a place for him in and around the first team squad at Griffin Park.

Given the current uncertainty over James Tarkowski, Yoann Barbet needed to step up to the plate last night and he more than met expectations, winning all of his aerial challenges, showing strength and pace as well as demonstrating his skill on the ball and ability to pick out a pass.

He is a real find and there is now a refreshing French feel and Gallic flamboyance in our defence with Barbet and Max Colin both looking as if they will be in the team to stay and I prophesy that it will not be too long before they attract serious attention from other interested parties.

There has been some recent criticism, both veiled and overt, regarding the quality of our recruitment since the end of last season so it is also important and only fair to give praise and recognise the achievements of our Directors of Football whenever it is justified, and in Colin, Barbet, as well of course in Ryan Woods, we have struck gold and made potentially exceptional signings.

We might well be talking about another one very shortly if Josh McEachran continues in the same vein as last night.

Toumani Diagouraga, watching for most of the match from the Leeds dugout where he must have recoiled from the nonstop verbal onslaught from his uncouth new managerial team, must surely have appreciated the sheer quality of his likely successor’s performance as Josh combined some welcome and unexpected grit, pressing and tackling with the eerie ability to find time and space in a congested midfield as well as the vision to invariably find a team mate with his pass.

McEachran clearly demonstrated that given full fitness he will become a massive asset for the club and his burgeoning partnership with the bustling Ryan Woods, lightweights that they both are, augers well for the future and will ideally prove that brain overcomes brawn.

John Swift and Alan Judge too often dribbled into blind alleys and their final ball was often lacking, but we never stopped probing for openings and perhaps the key moment came soon after we had scored when Swift found Judge who turned inside his marker, switched the ball onto his left foot and curled his shot inches over the bar with Silvestri helpless.

A second goal then would surely have put the game well beyond Leeds but we rarely threatened after the break and Leeds finally took advantage when the normally reliable Jake Bidwell shanked his clearance when under no real pressure and Carayol took full advantage with a well placed curling shot just out of the reach of the straining David Button.

So a curate’s egg of a performance which reconfirmed many of our strengths and weaknesses.

We do not make the most of our possession and let teams off the hook and I would hate to count up the number of giveaway goals we have gifted the opposition this season.

The formation we play requires our midfield to flood forward far quicker in support of our lone striker and I am afraid to say that in my opinion we need far better up front than the three strikers we currently possess, as none of them have really convinced that they are the solution to the problem.

We are not using Lasse Vibe to the best of his ability and his minimal threat was easily snuffed out last night which meant that the ball rarely stuck in the final third and the pace and bubbly enthusiasm of the injured Sergi Canos was also badly missed.

However the good easily outweighed the bad and we now move on.

Who knows what might happen in the next few days before the end of the Transfer Window?

Will we escape unscathed or suffer further losses and depredations, and if so who might come in to augment our depleted squad?

That though is a reflection for another day.

 

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9 thoughts on “A Missed Opportunity – 27/1/16

  1. Surely it is now time to recognise that until we sign an ” out and out” striker we will not reach our true potential. We have given away too many soft goals,due to defensive errors,but our failure to take advantage of so many good scoring chances is of equal,if not more,concern

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  2. You capture my thoughts on the game and result, Greville. Certainly Barbet, Colin and McEachran look very promising indeed for the future, and Swift delights and frustrates me in equal measures. I was standing right in front of Bidwell’s mistake. He looked as mortified as much as we were.

    We give away so many goals and I’d like to just see a bit of safety first policy – just turn the ball for a corner or throw in.

    I agree that we really need to find that elusive goalscorer at the price we can afford. I’d also like to see a bit of steel in our midfield/defence (aka “hatchet man”). Every good team had one – a Nobby Stiles, Dave Mackay, Ian St John,etc; we seem too lightweight and get easily bundled of the ball.

    I was left baffled by the substitutions. It would be good,to hear the reasonings.

    Having said all that, last night we played some of our best football I’ve seen this season, and I feel we are now moving in the right direction.

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  3. That’s more like it Greville :). I said months ago that Brentford’s signings policy looks totally fine. The one touch football closest to Braemer Rd stand had Leeds chasing shadows & a delight to watch. McEachran kick & turn in our own box, under pressure, worth the entrance fee alone. Quality! Lengthen his contact.

    To ignore the fact the Brentford needed to add better quality footballers (if you take posts in general on here & beesotted this season) to reach Premiership status is to assume that Premiership footballers play at league 1 level. It was always going to be the case that we would see wholesale changes once the Championship was reached. Diagouraga making way for another midfielder this window & Ryan Williams not making the grade shows that we are setting the bar far higher now. Great 🙂

    I am totally fine with that & I fully expect Judge to be moved on this window or the next – when we find players like Jota I am not going to worry about Ted Knutson identifying the next Jota for us (he probably has already). Judge is clearly not happy, body language & frequent frustated verbal exchanges with teammates shows a negative side that is creeping into his game more often than not; I should imagine that the constant sky & media circus is playing its part in that. I don’t know if you could hear it – you could pitchside. Brace yourselves it’s coming.

    But the sheer quality this side now oozes at times is fantastic & if you look at the number of chances we create against any team in this league it makes Michael’s. Peter’s & your comments about adding a poacher/striker a forgone conclusion. When that is finally achieved I predict top 5 for us (at least).

    Premiership in 3 years looking more likely than not Mr Benham.

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    • Thanks for that Rasmus 😀.

      Agree with the beginning & end of your comments, you lost me in between. Great to see Barbet & Josh stepping up, also agree with your observations on AJ, although he wasn’t alone in losing it with Djuricin the other night. Sad if he has properly got the hump as Brentford has been good for him as well as us. I though we played some lovely stuff 1st half, I also thought last year’s bees team would’ve put Leeds away by 2 or 3 goals.

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  4. You mean Ted Knutson yes?

    He is the headhunted Data Analyst that Benham found from Statsbomb, bit like squawka & whoscored. I can give you guys a link to the stuff that persuaded Brentford to remove this guys work from the public domain & only give Brentford the access too. Blow you mind once you know.

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  5. Ok I will link one of the final pieces Ted wrote on statsbomb – there is a wealth of knowledge here – i have actually read the lot. I’m like that. I have learnt so much in the last 4 months about how clubs like Manchester City were doing this in early 2011 with Gavin Flieg. Only now is data analytics getting its trial by media as people like us start to become aware of its existence; it’s been around for a long while.

    Arsenal bought a cutting edge Analytic company in 2012! How many of you knew that?

    http://statsbomb.com/2014/09/what-if-bill-james-had-been-hired-in-the-early-80s/

    The other link is a Q&A at the bottom of the page that I found quite by accident & instantly realised the link between this stuff & Brentford.

    http://statsbomb.com/2015/08/up-the-arsenal-epl-2015-16-preview/

    Ted Knutson is the guy who created Gifolutions (player radars).

    I know there are alot of people who will dismiss this stuff, I find it absoluetly fascinating & you can read all of the stuff he was writing about in the Authors gallery, which is all that is left of his work prior to being snapped up by Brentford. Bare in mind this stuff was written at the end of 2014 & look at some of the players he was recommending clubs like Southampton should buy:

    In fact Brentford policy & Southampton’s wasn’t that far apart:

    http://statsbomb.com/2014/08/epl-season-preview-2014-15-southampton/

    Anyway, hope you enjoy it. Knowing all this really does make me think Matthew Benham was onto something alot earlier on & the FCM purchase was simply the 5million pound product testing phase.

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  6. Wasn’t Ted Knutson in that fine film by the Coen bothers – Fargo?

    Definitely something in analytics, no argument from me & I’d love to see us prosper using it. But I’ve played & watched the game for a long time now & still think what you see is as important as what you don’t, everything in balance.

    And we’d have humped Leeds 12 months ago.

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