Weak, Wet, Lily-Livered & Spineless – 28/2/16

Football is an emotional game and being a fervent supporter of almost any club means that you have to experience both the highs and the lows on a regular basis.

It is therefore so easy to over react and quickly lose sight of your sense of perspective so I make it a firm rule never to comment on a game when emotions are still running high immediately after the final whistle at a time when initial superficial and kneejerk reactions can so easily dominate and overrule common sense and clear judgement.

More often than not once everything has calmed down, you have taken a few deep breaths and sufficient time has passed to reflect on what occurred in a more measured manner, things can look a lot different to how they initially appeared the previous day.

It is also pointless to change your mind repeatedly about a team from match to match simply depending upon the result as many other factors come into play. In other words, they lost last week therefore they are useless, but they won the next game, so they are all heroes again.

I think we are all running the risk of falling into this trap at the moment when we consider what we are currently watching on the pitch at Brentford.

The knives were out recently when we lost three games in a row to the likes of Brighton, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County and barely laid a glove on any of them and many supporters felt that we were in free fall.

We desperately needed some points on the board against Wolves in midweek in order to boost our flagging confidence and help ensure that we kept a safe distance between us and the stragglers at the foot of the Championship table.

We were fortunate indeed to come across a team as inept as we had been in our previous few matches just at the right time and we easily beat quite the worst team I have seen this season, and one that made the donkeys of MK Dons appear like Real Madrid in comparison.

One swallow does not make a summer and yet many rabid and one-eyed fans on social media and the message boards alike saw this win as a massive turning point and perhaps even as the precursor to a late run on the outside towards the playoffs rather than recognising it for what it really was, simply a much needed and long awaited opportunity for us to fill our boots against another average team like us on a bad run and having a particularly awful evening.

Credit to the Bees, they did not look a gift horse in the mouth and took full advantage and were not flattered by the margin of their victory.

But did it change anything?

In my opinion, not a jot or iota.

I certainly thought that we would have more chance of winning points against the likes of Wolves, Rotherham and Charlton than had been the case against the top teams, but as yesterday’s abject, weak and dispirited show against relegation favourites Rotherham clearly demonstrated, we are and will likely remain a soft touch and a poor or average team at best for the remainder of the season.

I was desperately praying and hoping that yesterday would show a new side of the Bees and that we would use the confidence gained from Tuesday’s victory to show some fire in our belly, fight fire with fire, stand up to the long ball barrage and onslaught of a typical Neil Warnock team desperate for the three points and scrap and win the right for us to play our football and eventually let our undoubted skill do the talking.

Fat chance!

That was not the case as depite dominating possession we did little with it, allowed ourselves to be pushed back and then wilted under the unrelenting pressure and conceded two utterly avoidable goals both totally down to appalling defending firstly by O’Connell and then by Canos.

Judge benefited from a soft and bizarre penalty decision to score from the rebound after Camp saved his weak spot kick, but the unexpected fillip of an equaliser right on half time was frittered away and did not give us the impetus to take the game to a home team that came out after the break still seething from the perceived injustice of the award.

Instead we allowed Rotherham to take the initiative, pen us deep in our own half and their pressure finally told, helped it must be said by poor defending by Canos and aided and abetted by a referee who had stood firm before the break but finally wilted under the pressure of a vociferous home crowd and who gave us absolutely nothing in the second half as the ball kept coming back into our half and we were never able to impose our preferred style of play upon the game.

What was particularly worrying was the number of aerial duels that we lost in our own penalty area as we were totally outmuscled, and also how infrequently we won the crucial second ball.

Brentford allowed themselves to be drawn into a battle, a fight to the death with a team desperate for the points and one that was always going to overpower us as we gently subsided to defeat and proved, yet again, that this team is totally incapable of scrapping for a result.

Swift and Hofmann between them ludicrously missed a glaring opportunity to equalise straight after we went behind and the game drifted away from us as the home team held on for a fully deserved victory and we rarely threatened to pull a late rabbit out of the hat until Vibe missed two last gasp chances to salvage something from the mess.

Everything that we already know about this current squad was reinforced yesterday.

  • We are rarely able to keep a clean sheet
  • We defend set pieces appallingly
  • An overworked back four receives little cover and support from the midfield
  • You have to win the second balls – and we don’t
  • There is barely a tackle in any of our midfield and we have a soft underbelly, and as I said last week, far too many chihuahuas and barely a pit bull in the team
  • We miss the influence of Alan McCormack terribly – that in itself is an indictment of just how weak we are
  • When the going gets tough half the team disappears and we are so easily bullied out of a game and are vulnerable to any team that attempts to outbattle us
  • We pretty much depend upon one man, Alan Judge, to both create and score goals
  • We do not have a striker worthy of the name
  • We have forgotten how to score late goals
  • For all our possession we create so very little and are powderpuff in attack
  • It is rare that we press as a team to win the ball back in key areas of the pitch
  • Our ratio of goals to shots on target is poor in the extreme
  • Despite the odd glimmer recently we rarely threaten or score from set pieces
  • Without Tarkowski we lack the ability to move or pass the ball out incisively from the back and beat the opposition press
  • We need to show some patience as the squad is packed full of young, callow and inexperienced players still finding their way in this division but the best two, in Swift and Canos might well be playing elsewhere next season

In sum, nothing has really changed since the dog days of January. We still have a weak and over matched squad largely lacking in pace, goals, experience, strength, determination, invention, desire and quite frankly, although it pains me to say this – balls.

All that is different is that thankfully we do not have too many of the promotion challengers left to play. What remains to be seen is how we stand up to the teams fighting for their life down at the bottom of the table.

From the evidence of yesterday, we might well capitulate to anybody who really wants to win and does not allow us any time to settle on the ball, and despite how appalling they are, I fear for us next weekend if Charlton employ the same tactics as Rotherham.

Charlton have also come up with a gem in the loan market with the pacy and skilful Yaya Sanogo from Arsenal and he could well lead us a merry dance next weekend if we are not careful.

I am pretty certain though that we will play enough uninterested teams, like us, merely going through the motions to ensure that we finish the season safe and sound in lower midtable mediocrity.

We desperately need to rebuild and examine carefully some of the blatant errors in recruitment that have been made this season and at some point soon I will go through the entire squad and give you my opinion on who will or should remain and who is likely to depart.

That, and the key question regarding how well we are likely to recruit fresh blood this Summer, is for the future though, and the squad now has a week to reflect upon their myriad inadequacies and shortcomings and then prepare to put on a performance next Saturday in what will be a tough and keenly contested local derby against an equally desperate Charlton team.

Are we up for the fight and this time, can we impose our style of football upon yet another team mired in a relegation battle?

I hope that the players’ ears are burning from the tongue-lashing that I expect they will receive after the Rotherham disappointment and every Brentford supporter can simply hope that we will put on an acceptable performance next Saturday.

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25 thoughts on “Weak, Wet, Lily-Livered & Spineless – 28/2/16

  1. Brilliant assessment of the situation, Well said sir, I am sick of the so called “supporters” who constantly say,”Give Smith time” “,He inherited this squad”,He will do things differently in the summer ” ” He needs time to get to know his players. blah blah blah
    Warnock walks into Rotherham and within a week gets them committed,and focussed on survival. It may be ugly it may be crude but it was good enough to beat Brentford yesterday.

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  2. this year last year i already said we need a CHOPPER HARRIS in midfield i know not pretty but look even the gunners have one or two coquelin ou Flamini that will not solve all our troubles and if i look back on my comments and others to last year and this i cannot accept that even if we lose that all the players do not come off the pitch at the end and have given there all.My time at Brentford we were light years from todays team in skill and talent but i can assure you that red and white shirt was dripping wet from the effort we gave

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    • Another justified hard-hitting critique, Greville.I just hope the club’s owner and his coDoFs will reflect on their achievements this season and embark on an alternative “change of direction” But I am not holding my breath !!Perhaps they will carry out a statistical analysis of the performances this season compared with those of last season!!

      2j

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  3. Assuming we fall over the line and can scramble enough points to be safe, the real issue is how we get from here to there. Based on their track record, I don’t feel confident that our new management (all levels) has the ability to recruit, build and put out a winning team by the beginning of next season, regardless of the amount of money available.

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  4. A very honest but accurate appraisal of whats happening at the moment.

    We should have known that a Warnock team staring relegation in the face was going to put up a hell of fight, but for some reason we were either not prepared for a fight or simply wernt up for one.

    Some very interesting points you make, nearly all I agreed with. I do think we have a replacement for Tarky in Barbet but has been a little surprised not to see him recalled after his questionable suspension. Also we may have a striker, but we need to play with 2 up top to see what they can do. Vibe’s success at Gothenburg was as part of a strike pairing.

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    • I agree with the decision to rest Barbet and allow him to reflect upon his catastrophic error at Sheffield but we miss his ability on the ball and what little pace he possesses.

      I cant agree about playing two up top because I cannot see Hofmann or Djuricin bringing anything to the party although I agree that poor Vibe needs and would benefit from support, but just not from these two.

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      • With little to play for now this season. Here are two ‘out there’ thoughts. They arent necessary my first choice thoughts but lets just throw them out there for debate or appraisal. Play 2 up front. Vibe alongside Judge in a Beardsley-type role or Barbet – defensive midfield?

        By the way Greville, have you been barred by Rasmus on Twitter, like a lot of supporters have?

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      • No not yet! I think Barbet has enough on his plate learning the English game to be moved out of position and I do not see the point of playing two up front at the moment. Judge is best as a floater, wandering where he wants.

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  5. Sadly, I don’t think anyone is going to disagree with all of that Greville.
    However, it does occur to me that the root of the problem lies deeper. We have not managed to keep hold of two highly successful managers, and the vast majority of the best players over the past year. Okay some would go, of course. That’s the Moneyball thing. But that many? In such a short space of time? I’m sure we didn’t have to sell ALL of them to satisfy FFP.
    There are things to like about the new team, but results don’t lie, even if you don’t believe the evidence of your own eyes about the way we have played this year. Buying and selling has been an unmitigated disaster.
    It also occurs to me, Greville, that you are one of a small number who can actually do something about it. As a director of Bees United you are one of those with some responsibility for corporate governance. With all the former independent directors removed from the BFC board, probably the only two ‘independent’ directors to remain are the two BU representatives.
    I know very well that BU does not get involved in football and did not even when we owned the club. However, what BU should keep under review, and put to BFC board meetings are things like recruitment and player spending. These surely fall under the remit of corporate governance – even in its narrowest definition of protecting the interests of the owners or, in our case, owner. In a wider definition, to include stakeholders, that is probably the BU’s raison d’etre, and the only important issue left to deal with at BU.
    Of course, it may be that these things are questioned at the BFC and BU boards, anyway. Or perhaps it is all fine and dandy with the BFC board, and everyone is happy with the way things are.

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  6. One of your strongest critiques Greville, but not hard to disagree with anything you have said.

    We just seem to be going over the same old ground. No strikers worthy of the name. Midfield who wouldn’t know a tackle if they saw one. No real leadership (interesting comparison between Warnock and Smith by Fred Martin – maybe we are too forgiving and generous giving the guy a chance). Part-time DoFs. Over reliant on two players (Button and Judge). Same mistakes week in week out.

    I know it is easy being a fan, giving negative observations with no real suggestions, but I can’t see where we go from here. Well done the fans who made that long journey to Rotherham. I hope the team appreciated it.

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    • I was intrigued to read that Rasmus has barred many supporters from his Twitter site. At least it demonstrates that he is “rattled” by the part he and his senior colleagues have played in the de-stabilisation of the club over the past 12-13 months. If he has read today’s edition of the “Football League Paper” he will see that Brentford’s form over the last six games is worse than that of every other Championship side,including the 3 prime candidates for relegation! Hardly an endorsement of the revised recruitment strategy for coaches and players that we were promised some 12-13 months ago!! Please,please can someone bring back the success and quality of the football we enjoyed between 2012-15!

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  7. Being unable to attend matches, I always appreciate Greville’s candid assessment of each performance and today’s report is very sobering. I guess I had always assumed we would go on a Carsley-esque mini run of good form when we came up against the weaker opponents. The problem seems to be, the closer we get to the end of the season, the teams in the relegation zone are starting to fight for their lives. Teams that think they are safe don’t have the same desire and suddenly a Rotherham or a Charlton pull themselves up the table and someone else gets sucked in. I know the coaches at Brentford get that but somehow they need to light a fire under the players and get them playing like their Championship careers depend on it.

    As has been recently mentioned, Brentford are giving up the most shots on goal (16 yesterday against one of the worst teams in the division). If Button does leave in the summer, we are in serious trouble. It really does seem the defensive midfield position is the most urgent right now – even more than a forward that can score once in a while. I also thought about whether Barbet could do a job there – at least until we get to 50 points!

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  8. Another great blog, Greville – also enjoyed your contribution to the Beesotted podcast last week. If I remember rightly, you said you would have been happy with a draw at Rotherham. In the event, a point would have been a great result!

    Lots of interesting things coming out of the responses to your post. Quite alarming to hear that Rasmus is apparently blocking Brentford fans. Of course this is 100% acceptable if he is receiving abuse – but if he is blocking supporters who have been asking him genuine questions about the transfer policy / new signings etc. then it’s very worrying indeed if he is blocking people.

    Staying on the same theme, I do think it would help matters if the club either had another Fans Forum or at the very least issued some kind of statement / press release / Q&A from either of the two football directors or the lesser-spotted Chairman! The point being that THEY might know what’s going on and what the plan is between now and May 7th, but WE certainly don’t!

    I also agree with the comments about Barbet. Think it’s time he got another chance now against Charlton. Nothing against O’Connell, who has done pretty well when he’s stepped in this season, but just think we need that extra bit of ball playing ability against another opponent who will surely be going hell for leather to win.

    Finally, just to touch on the main point of your piece, I do find it strange that the manager didn’t try to somehow beef up the centre of the midfield yesterday – particularly given the way he played Kerschbaumer and Yennaris against Derby, in an apparent effort to grab a point and tighten things up. I’m certainly no flag bearer for the Kersch, but I do think that yesterday would have been a good chance to sit him in front of the defence and give him the role of midfield enforcer. Oh well. Sadly not to be.

    Moving forward, we seem to continually repeat the same things week in, week out. Where is the consistency… why do we let in so many goals… when will we have a striker that can actually put the ball in the back of the net… when will we finally hit that magic 50 point target… and, perhaps most crucial of all, what will next season hold and will we push on or will we have another season like this one?

    Again flirting with uncharacteristic optimism, I am looking forward to seeing what Dean Smith can do once he a) has been in the job for six months b) has a stronger squad to choose from, including players whose signing he has influenced and c) has had a good pre-season preparation period – including the now customary overseas training camp – in which to truly build a strong bond with the players, hone his best side and prepare to be in the best possible shape for what will surely be another hard and unrelenting Championship campaign come August.

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  9. A good honest blog after a really poor result / performance. Clearly the Wolves win was the blip and Rotherham defeat more the rule of late – Brentford are not back & are struggling to compete with the strugglers now too. Our form in 2016 is awful, we lack fight, leak goals and other than Judge have no regular scorer in the side.The coach seems a nice guy, popular with players – but unable to get the best our of what he has to work with.

    I’m very concerned by the general silence from above, and seeming acceptance that we can just drift to the end of season, playing around with formations and trying stuff out. It’s disrespectful to the division and we’ll catch an almighty cold if we’re not careful.

    We do need some unity and to try to pull together, as much for next season as this one. This has be driven from those in charge, instead they seem to have bunkered down and left us to it.

    Interesting that lowly Charlton have found themselves a very decent loan striker! Nuff said really.Saturday is going to be a tough game and one we can’t afford to lose.

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  10. A very accurate assessment of where we find ourselves right now & one that nobody could dispute.I wrote to Phil Giles 2 weeks ago touching on many of the points raised asking for his “take” on where it was going awry.As yet I have not received the courtesy of either an acknowledgement or reply which I find totally unacceptable.
    I chose to write to him as I felt he was the one most likely to reply given Ankersens “day job” at FCM. I was clearly wrong & he obviously feels a season ticket holding supporter of nearly sixty years who lives 150 miles from GP unworthy of a response!!
    I will try again,this time suggesting we might have loaned Sanogo rather than Charlton or at least enlisted a couple of experienced loanees (with balls),in this current window to help us crawl over the safety line!
    As for Neil Warnock, he has brought in 3 or 4 of his own type of player in a relatively short time.Dean Smith has overseen departure after departure with no one other than Swift & Canos coming in the other door.Thats why his jury is out for me whilst the same can’t be said for the “dynamic duo ” that are our DOF’s.They MUST do better !!!

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  11. The level of growing genuine concern and reasoned criticism on here on here over a number of weeks is palpable. And I don’t see one expectant new fan on here saying it. This goes to the heart of Peter’s blog last week on communications – regardless of the medium and delivery the lack of engagement with our fanbase is really disappointing. Paul’s comment above only goes to reinforce this. The support has been growing, BFC was on the brink of breaking through and recapturing its long lost place at the top table, at least in the London football scene.

    It hasn’t gone to plan though has it, something we can all live with so long as we have a bit of honesty from those who took us on this path. Even the youth side are losing every week – 3-0 to QPR on Saturday, when not so long ago we were looking like a better bet than them for young talent to learn their trade.

    Some evangelists will tell you we are being entitled and have no right to be told this that and the other. The occasional fans forum and DoF update is more than enough. Completely disagree – what is to lose by senior staff actually engaging and updating us on where we are at – a little straight honest talk would go a long way to settle everyone down after so much upheaval.

    Rightly or wrongly it feels a bit like you have to turn up and shut up, otherwise you are a heretic.

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    • Hear,hear RebelBee ! Agree with every single word.Let’s just hope a “shadow” member of the Senior Management Team(or the Club Chairman) will sit up and take notice.But do not hold your breath !!

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  12. Thanks for the kind words, Peter! I also pretty much agree with everything that’s been said. RebelBee absolutely spot on, as usual.

    I am trying my best to keep it all very upbeat every time I post a comment these days, as I don’t want to provoke the GPG ‘heavy mob’! At the same time it is hard not to ask questions that do seem to need answering.

    Paul – I think it’s pretty terrible that Phil Giles hasn’t replied to you. It’s also actually quite rude – particularly when one considers that you are a) a season ticket holder and b) a supporter of many years standing. Sadly however that seems to be the way it is with the club at the moment. They are more than happy to instigate their ‘fun’ social media activities (such as ‘Bee the DJ’) but are apparently less enthusiastic when it comes to answering fans’ concerns and keeping us updated on potential loan targets.

    As far as Sanogo is concerned, it seems as if the policy is to persevere with Djuricin, Hofmann and Vibe come hell or high water – regardless of the fact that none of them have actually scored yet in 2016! But just to have some kind of update from Rasmus / Giles / Crown / someone (!) would be fantastically reassuring as we enter what looks like being an absolutely crucial stage of the season, and 12 games that will determine whether or not we are playing in the Championship in August.

    Reasons to be cheerful: watching Scott Hogan play against Crystal Palace today for the development squad – and score a well-taken goal. After being out for so long and being so unlucky with injuries, it was wonderful to see him take to the field – let alone score. Dare we hope that he might get a few games for the first team before May 7th – and actually show Djuricin and chums how to find the back of the net?! What a lovely thought. Also good to see Gogia score too.

    As for Saturday, I remain hopeful that we will put the Rotherham result behind us, take the game to Charlton and find (and exploit) the space that will hopefully be on offer from a team that simply have to go for the win. As terrible a run as we are on (and it IS terrible – P11, W2, D1, L8!!!!!) I really think that if we can get our noses in front we can go on to get the victory. Yes, Sanogo looks a great player, but he is only one man – and let’s not forget, he is playing in a mainly terrible side.

    With Leeds currently getting hammered 4-0 at Brighton, it makes you realise just how much rubbish there is in the Championship this season. And with Wolves (who we battered) beating Derby (who we didn’t), it makes you realise what a crazy league it is too! Yes, lots to be frustrated about and reasons to be critical of the club at the moment. But probably three more wins needed for safety and Charlton, Blackburn, Bristol City, Bolton and Fulham still to come at Griffin Park. Hopefully we’ll all feel a bit happier once more at quarter to five on Saturday. And who knows – maybe Paul will get a reply from Phil Giles too…

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    • I have to say it was great to see Scott Hogan back in action yesterday.His interview later in the day added to this as he was so positive about the future,not to mention the Clubs part in his rehab.Great news indeed!
      I have this morning written a second letter to Phil Giles & have on this occasion expressed my displeasure at being ignored whilst repeating my original questions about the DOF’s lack of success in their recruitment record both on & off the pitch !
      Incidentally on previous occasions following letters to the Club I have had an invite to GP (Tony Swaisland) ,which I took up& a phone call from Andy Scotts mate (Andrew something or other)? from his car in the car park at D&G ,still that was “old Brentford”! Things may have changed for the better & they have, but good manners let alone good buisiness practice should still be followed.
      Any response ,I will update.

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  13. Enjoyed reading that beesyellow, you are right to remind us of just how good it is to see Hogan on the pitch again. And in fairness how great BFC have been with him through his recovery – with the contract extension etc…I guess we have to be careful not to rush him back, or to hope for too much given our inability to put a forward on the pitch who knows where the net is.

    My hope is that we’ll have enough to be OK at GP from now on in, whist I feel our frailties away will continue – some decent points at GP in the games to come would do me fine. And would at least be something to build on going into the summer, also for DS – who needs some results and to show that he can produce something reasonable from this group.

    That said i’m a bit twitchy about Saturday – if we can do better defensively and get our ball players doing their thing we will be ok. Leak a silly goal or two and it could go wrong.

    Leeds have bigger problems than us for sure, the division is far weaker than last season too. I watched their game at Brighton though and felt TD did ok for them, still good enough to do a job for us for a bit longer.

    Paul, please let us all know if you ever get that reply.

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