Bring On the Anglian Boys! - Notes for Brentford
Friday, 8th Apr 2016 11:50 by HarryFromBath
HarryfromBath assesses the mood in the opposition camp ahead of Saturday home game against the Bees by delving into their forums.
“Nearly there, folks”, “As for the 2015/16 season, I think he can just about say ‘job done’”, “I know our football is ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ after last season but at least we have next season to look forward to now”, “Hopefully these two wins will make the run in a little less tense now.”
“Six points and six goals in two games, well done my Bees.” Life has been good for Brentford fans since the international break. Tuesday night’s routine 3-1 home win over Bolton came on the heels of a comfortable 3-0 win at the City Ground and has pretty well guaranteed safety for the season.
“Safe as houses”, “Mission accomplished, we stayed up without spending any money. Now we have to rebuild”, “We should not be fooled. We have a lot of work to do between now and the start of next season is we don’t want to flirt with relegation next year”, “We can all breathe a bit easier.”
“Last season we were The Jam. This season we are the Style Council. I like the Style Council but the skill and passion weren’t as good as The Jam. We’ll stay up but next season will be tough”, “We need some battlers. We’re not physical enough to compete with experienced Championship players.”
Three Weeks Ago
“You have got to be kidding.” The mood was much darker going into the break after a late goal saw a poor 10-man Blackburn side escape from Griffin Park with all three points. Seven losses in February and March had left the Bees six points off the drop zone and relegation was a reality for many fans.
“We have lost seven in eight and every performance just seems to flat. Nothing has changed for months now”, “I cannot see where the next win is coming from. We’re down”, “This is now a tailspin”, “Everything is a shambles”, “We are clueless”, “We have a real problem”, “We’re gone.”
A Roller-Coaster Season
It has been an eventful season for the West Londoners since they grabbed a late draw against us in the August sunshine. Going into the October international break four places off the bottom of the table, they replaced boss Marinus Dijkhuizen with development squad manager Lee Carsley.
Carsley picked up the October Manager of the month award as the side blazed a trail reaching eighth in the table at the turn of the year, but having indicated that he did not want the role in the long term, Carsley was replaced in December by Walsall boss and current incumbent Dean Smith.
A meagre haul of two wins this calendar year saw the Bees plummet down the table until this week’s victories doubled this total. The fact that only three of the starting XI which secured a 1-1 draw in last March’s corresponding fixture are still at the club highlights the changes which have taken place.
“We have seen that there are foundations to build on and that, perhaps, Dean Smith is capable after all of doing the building”, “He has done very well to grind out two wins and he can concentrate now on who he wants to keep and who he needs to have a look at in our remaining game situations.”
“He’s only really shuffling his pack right now”, “The jury’s still out on Smith. He needs to get his own players in, shift the dead wood out and start rebuilding. Let’s see where he gets to with our results and performances by the end of October. That should be enough time to see what he’s all about.”
“I feel for Smith. He has been given a load of poor replacements for our best player.” Although the run of results since Christmas has been alarming, most Bees believe the manager needs time. “He is trying something new every week and it ends the same way but what can he do with these players?”
“Calling for a fourth manager this season would be a signal that we are at our wits’ end. Any new manager would struggle to improve the situation and we must keep our nerve. We have been on a terrible run but Smith to give him his due has been trying various strategies to reverse the trend.”
“In our last two games Smith has set us up more narrow. Ryan Woods and Sam Saunders were closer to Alan Judge to spark play as neither are creative widemen. We gave up on the idea of getting wide and crossing to no one. Forest became open, our confidence returned and we exploited the gaps.”
Smith has favoured playing with one striker and three in the middle but he clicked the jigsaw into place this week (above) by moving right-back Nico Yennaris into a holding role and replacing him with Maxime Colin. Fans noted how he also pushed the two wide midfielders into a narrower shape.
The team has benefited from Yenaris’s energy in the middle while Colin in particular has become an attacking threat with his runs from deep into space with Woods acting as a fulcrum on the right. Rather than swinging futile crosses into a lone striker, the emphasis has switched to playing men in.
“Five of the six goals we have scored in the last two games were poachers goals. That’s something we have not seen much of recently and is a good development”, “Our game is to work the ball into the box rather than playing percentage football so it’s vital we start to snap up those half chances.”
The line-up (above) against Blackburn had Woods and Saunders crossing balls to 5ft 10in striker Leandro Rodriguez who was easily outmanoeuvred by Rovers’ centre-backs. Judge was criticised for wandering out of position as he tried to create with little assistance from central or wide players.
“We have too many ball players and no strength”, “We looked like 11 kids on a playground trying to score a wonder-goal”, “We tried to play football but Blackburn bullied us.” Two recurring themes have been the side’s lack of physical stature and the loss of playing quality compared to last season.
“Tell we, where are the players that will take the game by the scruff of the neck and push everyone on?”, “The worrying thing is not a lack of effort but a lack of ability”, “We are short of quality in quite a few areas”, “Many of this squad wouldn’t be good enough for a top-of-the-division team.”
Brentford 3 – 1 Bolton
“An easy three points against a sad football team”, “Sometimes you play a poor team and you take your foot off the pedal, so it can be difficult to get going again. We were so dominant in the first half but didn’t get going in the second”, “We’re 12 points ahead of Milton Keynes with a game in hand.”
Nico Yennaris opened the scoring for the hosts from close range on 17 minutes and Lasse Vibe added a brace on 26 and 36 minutes to effectively win the game for the Bees by the interval. The Trotters pulled a consolation goal back from a Zach Clough spot-kick 20 minutes from full-time.
“Bolton were probably the worst team we have seen since Blackpool last year. They were so bad we should have left it at half-time and called it a day. We exposed their centre back Alex Finney time and time again and raced into a 3-0 lead. It was so one-sided we could have won 7-0 tonight.”
“A better side like Burnley would have scoffed up one of the chances we gifted Bolton with sloppy passes at the back but luckily this team was too poor to make use of them”, “The central midfield struggled after the break when Bolton move Zach Clough centrally and removed the midfield space.”
Nottingham Forest 0 - 3 Brentford
“Spring has arrived after our winter nightmare”, “Goodness me, did we need that win today. It was a massive result coming out of an international break”, “A crucial, well-deserved win and three vital points”, “At last a change in our fortunes”, “I cannot overstate how huge those three points are.”
The Bees took the lead four minutes after the break when Vibe pounced on the ball after hesitant defending. Man-of-the-match Yennaris rifled home a corner on 65 minutes and Sergi Canos added a third three minutes from time after Forest full-back Eric Lichaj was given a second yellow card.
“A nervous first half where neither side created too many chances followed by a mad second half”, “Today was about organisation, desire and commitment. We smothered Forest like a fire blanket. They never got going which makes me so proud”, “God it’s good to have the winning feeling again.”
Brentford 0 – 1 Blackburn
“I just bought a first-class ticket with extra legroom on the relegation express. It’s not a lack of guts, heart or passion, just a complete inability to win games against teams that come to spoil”, “It’s everyone’s fault, the god, the grandkids, the missus, I hate everyone, I’m going to bed.”
“A smash and grab.” Shane Duffy nabbed a winner for Rovers three minutes from time after they had Grant Hanley dismissed for a second yellow card on 57 minutes. “Oh dear, meltdown is on its way”, “We are in big, big trouble”, “We couldn’t create a chance against a one-dimensional team.”
“I’m sorry but 30 minutes against 10 men and one shot on target, in bloody injury time is absolutely pathetic”, “Our only tactic was getting it out wide and slinging hopeful crosses to either nobody or someone who is 5ft nothing”, “There was no visible game-plan, pattern or structure on the pitch.”
Goalkeepers and Defenders
“Of all our current woes, David Button is not one of them.” The 27-year-old ex-Charlton keeper “can put players under pressure by giving the ball to them when they are marked”, “He is one of the best distributors in the division and when we are on song he starts more attacks than anyone else.”
“Button creates many attacks for us. His long kicking is better than almost any keeper I have seen at Griffin Park. He’s also brilliant at shot stopping, brave at one-on-ones and pretty commanding in the box. All in all, he is the best we have had for eons”, “We would struggle to get a better keeper.”
“Yoann Barbet has some class but I do worry why he ends up needing to execute so many last-ditch tackles.” The 22-year-old ex-Chamois Niortais centre-back “gets caught out of position and has to go last-ditch which looks good. If he read the game better, he wouldn’t need to get his shorts dirty”.
“Barbet is comfortable on the ball but he can get the wrong side of the forward too often and isn’t physically strong enough as he often loses those battles”, “I like him as a player. He’s young, mobile, committed, classy and improving. He can also pose a threat in the opposition box from set-plays.”
“Harlee Dean was at his frustrating worst against Bolton as he appeared to forget who he was and tried to play like Franz Beckenbauer.” The 22-year-old one-time Dagger “had a nightmare, trying too many casual high-risk passes and none of them came off”, “His concentration can lapse a little.”
“Dean was ball-watching for Blackburn’s goal and left their player unmarked at the back post”, “I always say he’s a mistake waiting to happen”, “He goes walkabout and his Hollywood balls give away possession”, “He doesn’t have silky skills but he has the steel, heart and character any team needs.”
“Jack O’Connell has potential but is a long way from the finished article.” The 21-year-old one-time Blackburn man “commits himself to win the ball when there is no need. He needs to keep hold of his composure more”, “We seem to punt the ball more when he is at the back. He’s very route one.”
“Jake Bidwell lacks a turn of pace but is defensively sound and comfortable at this level.” The 23-year-old ex-Everton left-back “a steady player who has been having a tough time this year”, “He was easily good enough last season”, “but he was surrounded by players better at holding possession.”
“Bidwell’s positioning is fine. Rarely has a winger the beating of him and he can be an outlet and a threat going forward”, “He’s young and improving. Work needs to be done on his final ball when he gets forward but he hasn’t had the midfield cover to allow him to do that so frequently this year.”
“We look so much better with Colin in the back four. He provides an outlet to play from the back and looks so assured on the ball. He’s quality.” The 24-year-old one-time Anderlecht right-back “is calm and assured. He reads the game well, hardly ever misplacing a pass and has a decent shot on him”.
“Class on grass”, “Colin is a very good footballer who could play at the next level”, “I love the way he glides past opponents”, “He’s a natural defender, not relying on his pace to get out of trouble”, “He was outstanding at Forest, setting up two goals from rampaging runs and decent balls”, “Supreme.”
“Konstantin Kerschbaumer has a very strange style of play. Everything he does is very deliberate. You know exactly what he is going to do before he does it.” The 23-year-old ex-Admira Wacker man “is relatively quick, technically sound and works hard but spends too much time shadow boxing.”
Former Chelsea player Josh McEachrean has been ruled out for the season with a foot injury but the 23-year-old has struggled to make an impact lately. “Our midfield looks much more tenacious when he isn’t playing”, “He slows it down and was anonymous for large parts of the Blackburn game.”
“Alan McCormack shouldn’t be good enough for the side because he hasn’t got the legs required but we need a player like him given how lightweight, inexperienced and lacking in leadership our squad is”, “He adds something that no one else in the squad can, a hard competitive edge in midfield.”
“I wish we had a younger better version of McCormack out there.” The 32-year-old former Swindon man “played against Bolton but ran out of steam”, “Tired players make mistakes and it was his error for their penalty”, “A wise and experienced head which had strengthened us at the right time.”
“I never thought Nico would be our ‘fox-in-the-box’ but he is turning into our renaissance man.” The 22-year-old ex-Arsenal right-back “has looked very solid with McCormack in midfield. He is one of the biggest plus points of the season”, “Two goals in two games shows he gets all over the pitch.”
“Yennaris plays with his head up, is happy to tackle and plays the game simply”, “He was everywhere at Forest, a classic box-to-box midfield performance”, “He had bags of energy and got through a load of good work”, “His move to midfield has given us a sound base with his tackling and movement.”
“Nico seems to get forward more than anyone else”, “We had a goal machine all along”, “He is very mobile, filling in when Colin bombs forward and driving the ball forward in every game”, “The story of the season and has emerged from being a squad player to being an integral part of our team.”
“Judge has been trying to do it all on his own”, “Can you blame him? He was the only player willing to shoot against Blackburn”, “He was trying to do far too much but he looked like the only one likely to find the net”, “He was trying too much ruining our shape and running in ever-decreasing circles.”
The 27-year-old former Blackburn attacking midfielder and one-time Town target “was back to his best against Forest. He played all the right passes at the right times and we were better for it. His improvement was due to Smith packing the midfield and getting the wider players nearer to him”.
He has benefitted from the recent change in shape and his industry is constantly praised. “Judge saved the day when five Forest players broke on the counter from a poor Brentford freekick”, “His energy is best used bringing others into play”, “A busy midfielder who can create opportunities.”
“Sam Saunders keeps our game fluid, neat and tidy. His staying out wide means that Judge is less likely to be tempted out there. He works his socks off and tracks back. All of that and more means that we function better with him in the side”, “He has helped us become solid and hard to beat.”
“Sam is good for maintaining the status quo and providing us with balance.” The 32-year-old former Dagger “slows the game down and not in a good way. Some nice touches and control but simple square passes are under-hit and he gets outmuscled easily when opposition giants get near him.”
“I don’t like Ryan Woods playing a wide right role as he can drift completely out of the game”, “We play better and get better results when he’s not dictating play in the middle but when he is on the right flank covering for Colin”, “He puts in an outstanding effort and does do much donkey-work.”
“Woods never stops grafting and trying to play football.” The 22-year-old ex-Shrewsbury man “is very industrious and works far harder than anyone in the team. I see him as a water-carrier in a team doing well, linking play and leaving the flair players to do the damage”, “The least of our problems.”
“I like Sergi Canos. He has exuberance and unpredictability that makes him a joy to watch and very difficult to play against. He runs at people and gets into sound positions in the box.” The 19-year-old Liverpool loan signing “is one player from this season who plays the game like last season’s team.”
“I like the fact that Canos is a bit crackers, like the young lad who has had too much lemonade at your nephew’s eighth birthday and can’t win musical statues for love nor money”, “He’s an honest young man who loves his football”, “He’s a great asset, especially when coming off the bench.”
“Marco Djuricin doesn’t deserve the stick he has been getting.” The 23-year-old Red Bull Salzburg loan signing has missed part of the season with an ankle injury. “He has no pace, doesn’t expect the ball to come to him, ever, has a poor touch and is on a totally different wavelength to anyone else.”
Another peripheral striker is 22-year-old former Kaiserslautern man Philipp Hofmann. “The problem is that he is not the big lump everyone assumes. He’s as good on the ground as in the air. If we really wanted a Plan B striker we would be better off getting a proper ‘big lump’ from the lower leagues.”
“A large well done to Scott, at times it must have seemed the journey was nigh impossible.” Former Rochdale man Scott Hogan has recently made two substitute appearances after lengthy absences with knee injuries. The 23-year-old “is the only player that will actually beat defenders for pace”.
“Hogan definitely has a presence and looks like he could score”, “We might have a striker we have been waiting for”, “He likes to drop off his marker and runs across the line ready to explode on to the through ball, although he plays better with a strike partner”, “He looks quick off the mark.”
“It’s important that Lasse gets a full run in the side so he can continue to build his confidence and gain experience in this league. He’s going to be a key player for us next season”, “Happy for him scoring”, “He was very persistent and it was good to see him score from six-yard box scrambles.”
“Vibe has been playing since February 2015 without a break so he needs a pre-season.” The 29-year-old Denmark international arrived from IFK Goteborg last July and several Bees noted that he has been playing for over a year with the Swedish Allsvenskan running a summer league calendar.
“He is pacy behind the lines and every team could use that. Next season he could be a great player with a three-month break behind him”, “He has lots of mobility, running in behind defenders, finding space and closing down quickly”, “Three goals in two games, he finally seems to have found form.”
“Lasse is too lightweight against big defenders”, “As soon as Bolton brought on David Wheater he was nowhere to be seen”, “He took his goals well but big defenders continue to bully him”, “It was still great to see a striker score. Well done Lasse”, “Get in, you gorgeous little Danish brainbox.”
Bees’ Views on ITFC and the Game
“There will be an air of disappointment at Ipswich as they have failed to emulate their previous season, a bit like us. They have hovered on the fringes of the playoffs without ever looking like a serious threat.
“It seems like their chances for this season have gone and they haven't scored too often recently so it will depend on how much McCarthy can get out of them. An open goal miss from them like Murphy's at Portman Road last season would be nice.”
“It’s a good time to play Ipswich. They seem to be going steady without pulling up trees”, “They are dipping a bit at the moment so it’s probably a good time to play them”, “It’s hard to gauge Ipswich's mood. This is either last chance to keep in the hunt for top six or that boat has already sailed”,
Bees are cautiously optimistic for an away game with 30 per cent predicting a Town victory against 27 per cent forecasting a triumph for the visitors. “If we can stop trying to gift the opposing team possession, especially out of defence we could get a point, but Ipswich are probably too strong for us.”
“Ipswich are on poor run and we can do enough to scrape a draw”, “They are struggling a bit at the moment, but they'll still be a lot tougher test than Forest and Bolton”, “It will be a good measure to see if our improvement has been down to dreadful opposition or better coaching and confidence.”
“We have a dreadful record against the top eight all season so it’s difficult to see past a defeat. I can accept this if the improved performances continue. I think their physicality will also tell as we just don't have enough”, “This is the last chance saloon for Ipswich for the play-offs so they will win.”
“There’s no grey area on the Ipswich forum for Jonathan Douglas”, “It looks like he's been found out by their fans too. Douglas is one of those players who can just about get away with it when he is surrounded by more talented players but in an average side he sticks out like a sore thumb.”
“Douglas is a one-time very good player who, for the most part, served us well and I for one am grateful for that. He is simply reaching the end of his career, in the Championship certainly, and to a fair few people that was apparent at the end of last season”, “He still was a class player for us.”
“I was actually a big fan of him and thought he had a superb first half of last season. However, I simply cannot forgive him for his foul on [Bees’ winger] Jota on the first day of this season”, “To be fair to Douglas, it took a freeze frame analysis to cast him as Public Enemy Number One.”
The busiest Bees message board is the polite and knowledgeable Griffin Park Grapevine. Registration is required to read several sub-forums.
The outstanding Beesotted website featuring wonderful Bees fan Billy Grant contains a selection of informative and entertaining articles. The pre-match podcast for Saturday’s game (Ed: In which Harry puts over the Ipswich view) can be found here.
Photo: Action Images
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