Good Hunting! – 13/3/16

Over three thousand Brentford supporters went to Loftus Road yesterday afternoon, perhaps more in hope than in expectation and for half an hour or so the team, and we will come back to its composition shortly, was well in the game with Canos twice and Judge going close before conceding a brilliantly taken but eminently avoidable opening goal which was totally demoralising after we had given as good as we had got.

Even after such a sickening blow we showed some fight and resilience and came so close to an immediate equaliser when Ryan Woods took a short free kick in his stride and drilled a long ranger against the post. The second half was a different story as after Judge curled narrowly but wastefully over we created next to nothing and the ball became a hot potato as we conceded possession with monotonous regularity and our final ball was invariably overhit or poorly directed.

We conceded two quite appalling goals after schoolboy errors firstly when Woods was dispossessed and then after Swift played a careless and suicidal pass across the midfield, each time leaving us with a yawning chasm down the middle. QPR took full advantage of both gifts, that horrible celebratory Pigbag tune blared out and assailed our senses and eardrums and yet another game had slipped away without any reward.

We collapsed like a pricked balloon as the fight and confidence drained out of us and the last twenty minutes was more notable for a mass exit as Brentford supporters left in droves, shocked, horrified, confused, infuriated and let down by what they had seen and, sadly, many of those who were left turned upon each other and the players too who were subjected to vitriol and insults as the game dragged on to its by now inevitable conclusion.

Such is the reaction however unacceptable and unattractive when a team loses for the ninth time in its last twelve Championship matches and subsides to a comprehensive and embarrassing defeat to its local rivals who quite frankly barely had to break sweat to beat us, so eager were we to help them given that all three goals came gift wrapped with a bow on top.

Effort and passion there most undoubtedly was – at least for the first three quarters of the match, but we played exactly like the team we have become over the horror show of the past couple of months, one that is desperately lacking in quality, imagination, creativity, pace, craft, strength in midfield, defensive organisation and most importantly, confidence.

Dean Smith took the brave if highly unusual step of leaving both of his two remaining fit, if pallid strikers, Djuricin and Vibe on the bench and playing Alan Judge up front on his own in a new 4-1-4-1 formation. The main thinking behind this move was to encourage the nimble Judge to run at the man mountain Clint Hill in the home defence. Perhaps Smith also intended a coded message and that this move, which quite frankly smacked of desperation, was also a cry for help to the two Co-Directors of Football and an acknowledgement that we currently do not possess a striker worthy of the name and that none of them merit a first team spot.

Judge did his best but was a fish out of water and he was never really able to hold onto the ball in order to create things and give his defence some respite particularly when far too many passes aimed at him were fired at his head rather than directed to his feet. His influence was sorely missed elsewhere as our main creator of goal chances and it has to be said that the experiment did not work and contributed to our defeat although Vibe was typically weak, anonymous and infuriating when he was finally introduced as a second half substitute.

Alan McCormack made a welcome return in front of the back four and helped shore us up and for a time appear more solid but he must accept some of the blame for the crucial opening goal when the dangerous Hoilett picked the ball up on halfway and was allowed to drift towards our goal as we simply backed off him. McCormack belatedly thought about making a challenge but criminally pulled out and allowed Hoilett to pass unscathed and, left in splendid isolation, the winger had the ability to curl a sublime effort into the top corner of the net. If you give a good player time and space he will punish you.

The game turned on this moment as the home team was energised and reinvigorated by a moment of sheer quality and noticeably went up a gear and after that near miss from Woods our heads went down and our challenge faded.

Dean Smith now appears to be simply rearranging the deckchairs and desperately trying to find some semblance of a structure or shape from the same small, ever diminishing and underperforming squad of players. We are quickly disintegrating into a rabble and are quite frankly in free fall and his face is taking on an increasingly haunted look as he seeks some answers and solutions which continue to elude him.

Whether the manager deserves criticism for not managing his limited resources better and ensuring that we at least put in a decent shift and make the most of what little we have is open to question. Comparisons at this stage with Lee Carsley are both pointless and invidious.

There is no appetite within the ownership of the club to make another change at this juncture of the season and such a move would be totally unjust and make us a laughing stock given that Smith has not been able to introduce a single new face while losing three key members of his squad as well as seeing the injury bug begin to bite deep again.

That being said the current state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue given that even with Bolton and Charlton seemingly doomed there is still a third relegation place left to avoid as Rotherham’s revival continues unabated.

The thought persists, indeed it is a raging certainty, that we should not have allowed ourselves to get into this situation with an ever worsening spiral of defeats but recriminations are for later, now we simply have to concentrate on the task in hand and do whatever it takes to ensure that we start next season in the Championship. Given our plans and ambitions, relegation is utterly unthinkable but it is looming up on the blindside and could still yet overtake us if we do not take strong and immediate remedial action.

My recent meeting with Phil Giles left me excited and reassured about the mid to long term future of the club but I was also extremely concerned about the here and now as it is no use having ambitious plans about squad strengthening in the Summer if we end up having to start next season in League One. The chances of this happening are admittedly still low but increasing by the week and at present it is hard to see where the two wins we need are going to come from.

I understand why we sold players and did not strengthen the squad in January given the exorbitant prices we were quoted for some of our targets but perhaps if you sell high as we most certainly did, occasionally there is the need to buy high too in order to maintain the status quo.

I think that our current fall from grace has taken the senior management totally by surprise and caught them with their pants down and we are struggling to cope with the situation.

Fortune has certainly not favoured us but it is hard to look back at the horror show that has been the story of this year and identify many matches where we were unlucky not to take points. We should not have lost at Birmingham or been beaten by Middlesbrough or even dropped two stupid late points at home to Leeds, otherwise we have very little to complain about and the results and performances speak for themselves.

So what can we do? Is there any potential salvation from within our current resources? I do not expect to see Colin or Macleod again this season and have no expectations of Hofmann once he recovers from injury. The only potential ray of hope is Scott Hogan, which shows just how desperate we are, as untested and half fit though he undoubtedly is, I would hope that he is given a place on the bench next weekend for what is now a crucial clash against Blackburn Rovers.

Perhaps his return would give us all a boost and fillip although it would be patently unfair on him to see him as our potential saviour. He is, however, enthusiastic and hard running and would provide us with an injection of energy and he is also untainted by the cloud and gloom that surrounds the team at present.

We need fresh faces and belatedly I am now certain that stringent efforts are being made to bring in short term reinforcements in time for next Saturday. We will need to take a deep breath and temporarily at least ignore our principles and accepted modus operandi.

Think about the likes of Bidwell, Schlupp, Berahino, Forshaw, Harris, Trotta, Pritchard, Toral, Swift, Long and Canos and they all had something in common being young, promising and inexperienced. What we need now are a couple of players who have been around the block a few times, battlers who know and fully understand the demands of the Championship and can lead and inspire our faltering squad as well as provide a spark in front of goal.

It will be difficult both practically and philosophically for us to do so as well as cost us a lot of money currently earmarked for other purposes. I fully expect that some of the war chest ideally being pigeon-holed and conserved for next season will now need to be used in order to pay for players who will probably be earning far more than our current squad. Such is life and we will need to be adaptable and flexible as our salvation is paramount.

Other clubs in and around us have found such players recently and have been able and prepared to pay the necessary wages in an attempt to ensure Championship survival. Blackburn sold their prime asset in Jordan Rhodes but have brought in high quality short term replacements in Jordi Gomez, Tony Watt and Danny Graham, who we will all face next week. Charlton signed Yaya Sanogo from Arsenal, suspended now but a striker who led us a merry dance last week. There is an unsubstantiated rumour going around that we were offered him first but turned him down. MK Dons brought in Alex Revell, Nottingham Forest, Federico Macheda, Huddersfield have just signed Rajiv Van La Parra and most noticeably Bristol City have splurged out on Lee Tomlin and Peter Odemwingie.

I am sure that most of these names will understandably make our Co-Directors of Football come out in hives and not all of them quite frankly, fill me with much too enthusiasm, but much as it pains us to do so, we will need to follow suit with someone of that ilk next week if we want to do absolutely everything within our power to ensure that our precious Championship status is preserved.

I wish our two Co-Directors of Football all good fortune in their quest.

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20 thoughts on “Good Hunting! – 13/3/16

  1. Just two questions following this dire result: 1) Why oh why have those responsible allowed the club to reach the “nightmare” situation it is in today ? 2) Will those responsible do their utmost to secure,at the very least, a “half decent” striker before the loan window closes?I keep telling myself(as do others) that I must put the past behind me and move onto a much more positive outlook for the future.Forget those halcyon days between 2012 and 2015 when I and thousands of others enjoyed promotion success and a quality of football not seen at GP for years. But surely one of the best ways to move forward is to recall and learn from experiences of the past?

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  2. Solid article as always Greville, but why do you believe that the chances of relegation are ‘still low’? At the moment I don’t see where we’ll pick up our next points from. Since the turn of the year I’ve sensed a collective sense of myopia from management and fans alike, that we’ll stay up because we’ve already amassed enough points, but IMO this is severely misplaced. Why are our chances of relegation low? I simply don’t get the logic!

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  3. The reassurances given to us by MB & PG about our future have disapated in the wake of what in reality was another embarrassing & in truth enviable defeat.Despite their encouraging words concerning the Summer transfer window they palpably failed to address or even acknowledge really the dilemma we find ourselves in NOW !
    No amount of rhetoric from DS & certain players changed the course of events at Loftus Rd.Talk is cheap & saying they are up for it ,& understand how much it means to us the fans ultimately counted for nothing.
    I am still in the camp ,just, that says continue to give Smith a chance,purely if I’m honest because he has been dealt a dud hand & as not even signed a player !!
    Compare that to Neil Warnock,3 or 4 experienced loanees & positive mindset,motivational manager,albeit I can’t stand him personally,& hey presto they are transformed into a side who are capable of beating anyone in this league & are doing so!!
    To not sign a couple of decent loanees this week would be absolute lunacy.It should have happened half a dozen games ago but obviously the powers that be thought we could coast the rest of the season Well we can’t & those concerned need to understand that & act NOW !!!

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  4. I feel the powers that be have been caught with their pants down over this “slump” . Did they bring in Dean Smith to have a look around for the remainder of the season before setting their plans into motion for the 16/17 season. I cannot think of a fix for the current situation apart from a couple of lucky bounces to restore some of the players confidence which seems to drain swiftly at the momeny.

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  5. Really angry and hurting after such a limp surrender to “them”, our support turned out and were up for it, sadly that was of no consequence a few minutes into the 2nd half. Groundhog Day again. Rather than stay and risk falling out with other bees, I bailed well before the end seeking comfort in libation. Last week we had well intentioned words from the boss and PG, for some of our number this was enough, the obvious problem overlooked, in that words won’t win us the necessary points to arrest our collapse.

    The complacency at BFC since the turn of the year is incredible, the moment that we decided not to buy in January, midfield and forward loan targets should’ve been sorted. If we do not move on loans right now we will be relegated.

    Personally I have zero confidence in DS, he seems a nice guy who everyone likes – so why aren’t they playing for him, or is our squad really so weak? I imagine that he’s easy to mange and doesn’t challenge the likes of PG & RA or the players. His tactics aren’t working & his so called contacts haven’t helped us at all. I’m not sure that he can fix this, even with reinforcements.

    Be honest and ask yourselves if there really are 3 worse sides than us in the division? As for 3 wins, I’m genuinely unsure if we can collect 3 points in the 10 games to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Spot on, again. I rarely ever disagree with anything you post and I’m not about to start now.

      I find myself really having to bite my lip with regards the manager, as I know a lot of people that follow this blog like him and feel he has been dealt an almost impossible hand. I really want to like him and I really hope he gets a break soon but I do agree that his basic tactics are poor and that the players aren’t playing for him the same way they were for Carsley. I know that Carsley had the luxury of Toums and Tarkowski, but those two aside it’s pretty much the same team – unless I am missing something?

      I can’t help feeling that, had Carsley and Williams stayed until the end of the season, we would have had a far better return than 10 defeats out of the last 13 games. Tactically he seemed more clued up than Smith and it looked like the players really gave him their all.

      As for 3 worse sides… well, I still think that Bolton and Charlton are worse than us, and I also think that Huddersfield, MK Dons and Fulham are pretty awful too – and all just as likely to go down as we are. As much as I dislike Warnock, I think he will definitely keep Rotherham up, and you have to also take your hat off to Lee Johnson at Bristol City too. Fantastic win yesterday and I can’t see them going down. So for me it’s one from us, MK, Huddersfield and Fulham – all of which we have still to play. Those three matches will, without doubt, decide our fate come May 7th.

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  6. Further to my earlier comment,it will take me a long time to get over seeing the expressions of dismay on the faces of a son and a young grandson as we walked away from Loftus Road yesterday. No doubt many other passionate supporters will have experienced the same dire emotions. Let us hope that those responsible for the club’s critical situation appreciate just how much they must strive to make amends for what has happened over the past few months!!

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    • I feel for you, Peter. Luckily my wife didn’t let me go so I was spared the misery first hand! Well done for going and doing your part. Shame the players failed to follow your lead.

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  7. A difficult article to write without regurgitating the same things as the last match, the one before that etc. etc. But you managed as always. Thank you.
    After a small poll on the 237 afterwards with some,born in red and white, fans, the feeling was that DS’s approach was innovative and well worth the try, considering the options. (And if you want Judge up front, pass rather than lob/hoof). This gave the team a chance to attack and not play too deep.
    The individual players, except one or two, gave 100%, there’s a more of problem playing as a team, rather than individual performance.
    Relegation is certainly possible but not close enough to worry yet (though I feel this was a little bit of ‘been there, seen it, done it’).
    This season is practically over, survive then strengthen.

    I understand that this seems a little bit of dewy-eyed optimism but I’m just recording some of the positive feelings after the match. There were some negatives but to be honest not that many for saying we’d lost against #%^! Or whatever they’re called.

    My personal feelings regarding getting a loanee in now, are mixed. Are we really going to get someone in good enough to make a great difference at this time of the season? But then again, as mentioned before, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    Thanks.

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  8. Greville – the time for discussion is over. All comments above have been spot on for me. Dan is right – as is RebelBee. Without reinforcements between now and the Forest game we will go down. We need a striker. That’s a fact. Yes, hopefully Scott Hogan can continue his comeback and make the bench (possibly after the international break) but it would be completely unfair to pin all our hopes on a player who has been out of action for the last 18 months. We need either a young and hungry Premiership hotshot or an experienced hitman with Championship experience – or, ideally, both.

    I am not a scout or a director of football or an agent, so I wouldn’t know how easy it is to find players like that – but others in the Championship relegation mix up seem to have been able to bring players in of late, so why not us?

    Ideally, for me, we also need an experienced central defender to help Harlee Dean and shore up a defence that has let in 20 goals in the last seven matches. And finally, while we’re at it, a tough tackling midfielder to help McCormack and Woods and put some much needed steel in our spine.

    Do I think it will be easy to find those players over the next couple of weeks? No, I don’t. Do I think we will be playing the likes of Bury, Rochdale and Scunthorpe next season if we don’t get players in? Yes, I do.

    I don’t want to get on Dean Smith’s back. I think he has been put in an almost impossible position. And to have been lumbered with three of the most ineffective ‘strikers’ ever to take to the football field has been incredibly unfortunate for him. But it’s now time for the club to follow up words with action. Matthew has told us to get behind the team – but he needs to get behind Dean, and give him the tools with which to do the job.

    We still have plenty of winnable games left: Blackburn, Bolton, Fulham and Bristol at home… Huddersfield, MK Dons and a managerless Forest away. We need three wins. Maybe even only two. But to get those wins we need someone who can put the ball in the back of the net. Alan Judge can’t do it on his own. Let’s hope there is a chink of light at some point over the next five days – otherwise come August it’ll be goodbye Leeds, Ipswich and QPR and hello Northampton, Shrewsbury and Swindon.

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  9. Ten losses from 13 says it all, really. And unfortunately that’s how it will stay unless changes are made. I hope all those clever chaps in charge, staff and BFC board, are able to make the right changes. Come on guys, contribute something to match the owner’s amazing cash input. Coaches and players, too.

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  10. I’m getting really angry now.
    1. Lee Carsley shouldn’t have been ‘promoted’ knowing he would leave, but having done so he should have been kept in position until the end of the season.
    2. The Directors of Football should have been sacked at the end of January, partly for the Carsley debacle but also for signing few players capable of Championship football. They are not fit for purpose with regards to the Championship.
    3. Although I have no great belief in the fora having been lied to at the last 3 or 4, I am angry that the club is clearly too cowardly to call a fans’ forum.
    After this season, even a season ticket freeze seems too much!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. To be fair, tfalbb, Lee only signed til the end of the season to fill in. Don’t know why he went so quickly, tho it clearly did nothing for us. Or why Willo followed him out of the door. Anyone know? Might help us understand the way things work, or don’t, as the case may be.

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    • Talking of Williams, we’ll be facing him soon enough – he has now been placed in charge of Forest until the end of the season following Freedman’s sacking today. Let’s hope he remembers his time at Griffin Park with fondness and gifts us the three points!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Well as i said not long ago greville WE are in a relagation fight and we all now should accept and to even find or bring in a striker now at so late time in the season will be hard.I know its easy to say now but our troubles started last season with WARBURTON gate and we should had kicked on from last season !but we did not for a number of well for me ME excuses like its to early to go up again the facilties staduim ect B;;;;;sh;;;; football funny game and when you got chances to go further we should had kick on from there to much calucation or stats does not help.Sad to here our fans turned on the players and themselves i can understand the fans but now is where the whole club needs to stick together and get the points needed to stay in this divison

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  13. Sitting in the warmth of Marbella sunshine trying to enjoy a nice break, this makes depressing reading. So sad to start having to believe that we are sliding towards self inflected relegation. Sadly I don’t have any faith in the current footballing management team to arrest the slide. Personally believe it will take a mini miracle to stay in the Championship and just can’t believe that we have allowed this situation to come about. What a difference a year makes.

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  14. Amongst all of the comments, here and on the GPG, there is nobody calling for giving one of our own youngsters a chance. I find that almost as depressing as our recent fall (s) from grace. We have an Academy, we have an under-21 development squad, but we have nobody that is even being considered for a start. Maybe the time has passed, as the results get worse and confidence falls even further, but I think it’s a sad indictment that we have nobody coming through that looks like a real prospect. Where is it written that you have to be over 21 to play in the Championship?

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    • That’s a good point, Mike. One or two U21s look really good prospects, despite the team’s poor results.Earlier in the season Josh Clarke looked a bit of a game changer when he came on, before strangely being shunted off to League 2. If we do give them a go, the results can’t get any worse, and we might find a couple of gems for next season. Look at Man U and young Rashford.

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  15. I guess that Holdack can’t be too far off & Clarke did OK when tried – but in our current situation it is too much to ask to throw any rookies in, and there is a whole other conversation needed re the academy. We’ve not given this division the required respect this season, pretty much from game 1, in my view the only way to save ourselves is to use all of these contacts I keep hearing about to bring 2 or 3 loans in sharpish. We need a couple of midfield battlers and a forward.

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  16. I agree with all the comments from the various correspondents. Clearly, senior management at the club have not understood the Championship, in particular, it’s strength. Week after week at home games the fans around us in the paddock say the same thing when the players line up for the handshakes before kick off. It normally involves comments regarding the sheer size and power of the opposition compared to our team of midgets. We have given away or sold the Crown Jewels since the end of last season and replaced them with paste imitations and as with most things in this life – you only get what you pay for! One shout for a forward to bring in on loan is Kyle Lafferty of Norwich. He’s a goal scorer that cant get a game at Norwich and like our own Alan Judge with Ireland, he needs to play games to get into the NI squad for the Euros. We could do worse.

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