|Ipswich Town 2 v 0 Brentford|
Saturday, 19th August 2017 Kick-off 15:00
Something’s Not Right in the Good Ship Brentford - Notes for Brentford
Friday, 18th Aug 2017 11:30 by HarryFromBath
HarryfromBath assesses the mood in the opposition camp ahead of Saturday’s game at Portman Road by delving into their forums.
“Sometimes I bloody hate football”, “Three easy games and only one point”, “There’s a ton of quality in our team but we need to start winning games”, “A season which showed so much promise could all too quickly become a struggle”, “It sounds a bit wet but nothing is going for us at the moment.”
“And so 2017/18 begins…” It has been a frustrating start to the season for the Bees. Losses in their opening two league games at Sheffield United and at home to Forest were followed by Tuesday’s draw at home to Bristol City where the gloss of a first point was tarnished by a late Robins’ equaliser.
“Our season has spluttered to a start”, “We look far from the world-beaters the squad depth and quality suggested at the start of the season”, “The start to the season will hopefully have knocked any arrogance out of the side and brought a degree of realism to our pretensions this season.”
“Shooting ourselves in the foot.” Fans have felt that the side has flattered to deceive in early league encounters. They are less than the sum of their talented parts, playing stylish football but “dropping points to bad luck and schoolboy defending”, being undone by individual errors and poor teamwork.
“Early days and no cause for despondency.” Most fans are urging patience. “We have great talent at our disposal and need some perspective in what will be a marathon season”, “It’s gutting to concede so late, but the overall quality of our play bodes well”, “We will be fine this season, top half again.”
“Dean Smith may take some time to get the balance and blend right, but our aspirations are to be in and around the higher reaches of the division so this needs to be sooner rather than later”, “He will hopefully sort out his formation and tactics in the near future, but I’m not holding my breath.”
“Get it sorted, Smith.” Bees’ patience has started to wear thin with their manager. Many believe that the 46-year-old former Walsall boss has the strongest squad in the club’s history but has yet to work out how to deploy it effectively. “He seems to have no idea what his most powerful team is.”
“We have the greatest strength-in-depth in a lot of people’s memories but it is still incumbent on the coach to pick the right team”, “The very real problem facing him now is the number of changes to make. You can’t keep making lots of changes as the players won’t build any consistency or rhythm.”
Settling on the Best Starting Line-up
“We seem to be relying on the ‘we will score more than you’ mentality, which is not working”, “The very best sides grind out scruffy 1-0 wins and we need to learn how to do the same”, “I like the fact that no matter what the deficit is you still have legitimate hope that the team can turn it around.”
“Lee Johnson’s thoughts [after the Bristol City game] encapsulated how we are at the moment, silky with the ball and open without it”, “We have brought in some great prospects but don’t know how to fit them in”, “We have a lot of very good players. I just hope the right combination is found soon.”
The starting XI (above) for Tuesday’s game against the Robins was missing two regular starters in winger Sergi Canos, absent with an ankle injury and midfielder Ryan Woods, away from the side due to very sad family circumstances with the loss of the baby he and his partner had been expecting.
Smith has stuck with his preferred three-man midfield but shook the personnel up from the side (below) which lost last Saturday at home to Forest. He made five alterations, replacing the heart of the back four and reshaping the central midfield in an attempt to improve the team’s balance.
“The balance in the team has been wrong but tonight I feel we are getting closer to the starting XI that will put us in a good place come May.” Fans had criticised the lack of pace of centre-backs John Egan and Andreas Bjelland against Forest but the biggest concern was their tepid central midfield.
“Our central midfield has yet to gel, it needs more bite and guile”, “It doesn’t protect a defence lacking in pace and leadership”, “I don’t see the point in having two holding midfielders when we concede goals from the edge of the box, the area at least one of them should be patrolling.”
The introduction of Romaine Sawyers as a playmaker and Ollie Watkins on the left flank improved the attacking balance of the central three against Bristol City. Josh McEachran departed with a leg injury but Bees noted how his creative passing had a more effective platform with Sawyers ahead of him.
Two of Brentford’s three goals against Forest were headed home by centre-backs, but Sawyers and Watkins gave the Bees a sharper cutting edge against the Robins. “Going forward against Forest we resembled Arsenal, very pretty to watch but making far too many passes and with no end product.”
“Deano, you were a defender. Sort this mess out at the back”, “The defence looks shaky and short of confidence”, “We cannot keep giving away these defensive free gifts to all and sundry”, “We have shipped seven goals in three games to three ordinary teams. I worry what a good team might do.”
“If we are not solid at the back, we will be sunk.” Bees have put their defensive problems down to a lack of pace with central defenders, unforced errors, poor midfield protection and gung-ho attacking by full-backs. “It’s not the players having a nightmare. We don’t seem to be organised at the back.”
“Too many unforced errors, giving the ball away cheaply”, “Opponents know that we make mistakes and give chances if they press hard when we play out from the back”, “The unprotected defence gets constantly out of position when teams counter because we commit so many bodies forward.”
A Lack of Composure
“Why can’t we manage a game out? Slow the game down, make simple passes and make them run around. Not us, we always panic”, “We looked so nervous at the back and kept giving the ball away to Bristol City at the end”, “We needed to play keep-ball to control the game but we patently couldn’t.”
“I am very worried about the lack of character in the side at the moment.” This has been a recurring theme in the last two league games. “We make simple, avoidable mistakes like getting sucked in to the ball too much”, “This is really infuriating. The lack of composure in added time is inexcusable.”
Brentford 2 – 2 Bristol City
“God, what a choke. We deserved to win by five, never mind taking only a point. We deserved much better than that”, “Once we gave Bristol City the early lead they sat back and soaked the pressure up”, “We get punished for every mistake we make”, “Robbed, we battered them for most of the game.”
Josh Brownhill opened the scoring for City in five minutes with a shot into the bottom corner and the Robins were indebted to keeper Frank Fielding for a string of superb saves. Ollie Watkins headed the Bees level on 56 and substitute Neal Maupay put them in front with a curling shot in the 77th minute.
After a lengthy break to treat Josh McEachran’s injury, Bobby Reid pounced on a rebound from Bees goalkeeper Daniel Bentley in the eighth minute of added time to grab a late equaliser. Brentford fans were left lamenting their poor defending. “We left the door open with far too many silly errors.”
Brentford 3 – 4 Nottingham Forest
“That was horrible”, “Fortress Griffin Park? A pretty woeful fortress currently”, “Forest played two wide attackers who got in behind and wide when they had the ball. This stretched our defence wide-open, allowing their midfielders space in the middle”, “We defended like schoolboys.”
John Egan headed Brentford in front on 38 minutes, but Forest hit back with a strike by Andreas Bouchalakis on 41 and former Town striker Daryl Murphy on 43 to give them a half-time lead. A second brilliant strike by Bouchalakis doubled the East Midlanders’ lead two minutes after the break.
Andreas Bjelland’s header on 77 pulled a goal back and gave Brentford hope of a comeback only for Kieran Dowell to score the Reds’ fourth on 83. Substitute Maupay finally added a stoppage time consolation goal for the hosts. “You shouldn’t concede four goals at home, end of discussion.”
“A really frustrating afternoon”, “A strange game because for 40 minutes it was very calm. We were slowly breaking them down and finally scored. Then all hell broke loose and I am struggling to make rhyme or reason of it”, “I found myself enjoying it one minute and tearing my hair out the next.”
AFC Wimbledon 1 – 3 Brentford (Carabao Cup - After Extra Time)
“A decent workout, it took longer than expected but we got the result”, “We dominated the first half an hour but didn’t do enough in the Wimbledon box”, “Everyone seemed quite relaxed that a goal would come but then some sloppy defending put them in front and we lost our composure.”
“Wimbledon’s direct style caused too many problems for our back four.” Paul Robinson gave the hosts the lead on 25 minutes and a powerful Sawyers drive drew the Bees level on 69. Brentford won the tie with extra-time goals from Watkins on 105 and substitute Justin Shaibu on 119.
“Happy with this result, the youngsters did us proud.” Dean Smith’s selection (above) had a mix of young and experienced players. He also gave some of the younger and newer flair players such as Watkins, Maupay, winger Josh Clarke and striker Justin Shaibu the opportunity to play together.
Defenders and Goalkeepers
“Why are so many prepared to overlook Daniel Bentley’s iffy kicking and flaky distribution? If your goalkeeper doesn’t fill you with confidence, is it not surprising that defenders feel less confident?” The 24-year-old ex-Southend man “does not command his area enough from crosses and corners”.
“I’m concerned about Bentley. He’s not commanding enough and our back four lacks confidence and is uncertain as a result”, “His kicking seems hit and miss, especially with his hurried clearances. He has fallen into a habit of playing short to team-mates who have an attacker bearing down on them.”
“Henrik Dalsgaard’s height adds a bit and he looks good on the ball.” The 28-year-old Danish right-back arrived this summer from Zulte Waregem. “He looks great marauding forward and gives the keeper a target to aim for. His defensive positioning is questionable, leaving the right flank exposed.”
“Dalsgaard was standing ball-watching instead of marking Forest’s Daryl Murphy for their second goal”, “He’s a real physical tackler who scared the pants of opponents, a monster driving forward and winning every ball played wide to him. He leaves gaps which need filling when pushing forward.”
“Maxime Colin is more defensively solid than Dalsgaard.” The 25-year-old ex-Anderlecht right-back “has been really good on the left flank and looked both elegant and comfortable there”, “He was relatively quiet in his new position against Bristol City but was his usual Rolls Royce assured self.”
“Rico Henry is our main passing outlet on the left.” The 20-year-old former Saddler “is brilliant when going forward and overlapping Florian Jozefzoon. He caused Forest problems down that side and a lot of our build-up play came down the left”, “He is not bullied off the ball and wins his headers.”
Sheffield Wednesday's Ross Wallace v Rico Henry
“Henry is young and learning, he has so much potential”, “He hasn’t always kept things tight at the back. He loses possession too easily”, “Defensively he has been exceptionally poor and his passing can be careless”, “He can be slow and hesitant to decide on the best option in any given scenario.”
“Andreas Bjelland’s lack of pace is a problem.” The 29-year-old former FC Twente centre-half “is a great passer and a skilful player but hasn’t enough pace for this division”, “He is far too immobile, is outmuscled and out-jumped”, “He has the positional sense but not the speed to cover the danger.”
“With a regular run, John Egan will come good.” The 24-year-old ex-Gillingham centre-back “scored a nicely-placed looping header back across goal from the far corner against Forest and is a threat at set pieces”, “He was out of the team for a long time last year and looks he needs a good run again.”
“Egan’s lack of pace is an accident waiting to happen”, “He made one header against Forest straight into the danger zone. His distribution would improve greatly if he showed more composure”, “He was poor defensively but the centre-backs were horribly exposed by our full-backs not defending.”
“Yoann Barbet has more pace than Bjelland.” The 24-year-old former Chamois Niortais centre-half “distributes the ball well but he cost us the first Bristol City goal and it hit his confidence”, “He played it off someone and they went on to score”, “He should play the ball out quicker and can get caught.”
“Good to see Dean back”, “He had one great run forward against Bristol and almost put Lasse Vibe through. He looks our best centre-back by a mile.” The one-time Dagger’s “energy and organisation at the back has been missed in his absence. We miss his dominance and leadership in defence.”
Harlee Dean v Blackburn Rovers' Craig Conway
The 26-year-old is in the final year of his contract and has been linked in the media with a move away from Griffin Park. “Get Harlee tied down and into the side”, “The biggest defensive issue is Dean. That needs to be resolved quickly by him signing a new contract or our signing a new player.”
“Ryan Woods in the essential midfield dynamo”, “All our thoughts are with Ryan and his family.” The likely absence on Saturday of Woods and Josh McEachran on Saturday has simplified Dean Smith’s selection dilemma in central midfield and left him with three established first-team starting options.
“Kamohelo Mokotjo is not yet dominating although I hope that will come.” The 26-year-old South Africa international holding midfielder arrived this summer from FC Twente. “He hasn’t delivered what we expected from his reputation, but that is fine as he needs time adjusting to this league.”
“Kamo gets in tackles that we never got in last season”, “He has done well but is not as dominant as Woods. He doesn’t seem to know his position. If he was more disciplined and sat in front of the back four it would free the creative players to pick their passes, but he will learn when to keep it tight.”
“Nico Yennaris is always an option and an outlet.” The 24-year-old ex-Gunner “looks to have stepped up a gear and we look more threatening with him playing. He gets stuck in and he shows what a little bit of directness and running can do to make us a lot less predictable and much more of a threat.”
“We looked a different team from the moment Yennaris came on from the bench at Bramall Lane. He started organising everything”, “He may yet be one of the season’s most important players”, “He can change the dynamic of the game from the bench but doesn’t set the tempo from the start.”
“I don’t understand the exclusion of Sawyers. The midfield looks unbalanced when he’s left out.” The 25-year-old ex-Walsall man “is capable of stunning strikes and is always moving and providing options”, “Our main attacking midfielder linking play, creating space for others. He can’t half shoot.”
Leeds United's Alfonso Pedraza v Romaine Sawyers
“Sawyers is still fairly poor defensively. If he stands up to opponents and stops getting knocked off the ball or learns to win headers rather than making a token effort it would help”, “We are unable to hold on to the ball when he drops deeper”, “We really miss his vision and subtlety going forward.”
“Florian Jozefzoon was very poor against Forest.” The 26-year-old former PSV winger “continues to disappoint and be anonymous. He has so much talent and subtlety and could be a game winner but so often is on the periphery”, “He looks pretty lively but is far better used as an impact substitute.”
“I thought Ollie was one for the future, but no, he’s for now.” The 21-year-old July arrival from Exeter “is getting better and better and will terrify defenders this season”, “The further forward he plays for us, the better”, “He has all that raw pace, power, athleticism and he’s good in the air.”
“Fast, strong and direct, he puts defences under pressure”, “He makes such an impact. He does lack composure in front of goal but will create so many chances for others”, “He gives the opposition so many problems with his speed, strength, hunger and skill”, “Ollie might be our best signing ever.”
“Can someone tell Jota to pull his finger out?” The 26-year-old left-footed ex-Celta Vigo man “hasn’t produced that spark yet but cannot be dropped”, “His crossing is world class but he seems a little bit absent-minded at times”, “He looks a little out of place but still is providing good balls and running.”
“Jota has looked like he’s thinking of pastures new.” The Spaniard has recently been linked in the press with a move to several Premier League clubs. “He glides past people looking for options but we haven’t provided them”, “He stood off and left Dalsgaard isolated against Forest instead of doubling up.”
“Neal Maupay is direct, runs at players and makes things happen.” The 20-year-old July signing from St Etienne “doesn’t make the right choices all the time but he looks very lively and a decent finisher”, “He buzzed about and finishes brilliantly. He knows exactly where the goal is. He’s a right handful.”
“Maupay got stuck in against Bristol City and his finish was clinical. Half a chance and bang, it was in the top left-hand corner. I haven’t seen enough of him but want to see more”, “His tenacity and hunger are impressive. What a threat and he works hard too”, “He’s probably not up to speed to start yet.”
“I’m a big Vibe fan but he is doing himself no favours.” The 30-year-old ex-IFK Goteborg striker “was miles away from anyone against Forest and miles off the pace. There is no way anyone will get near him if he somehow does manage to control a pass”, “He’s, well, not fit enough for even the bench.”
“The less said about Vibe the better”, “I was surprised he wasn’t hooked earlier against Bristol City. He was terrible and looked unconfident”, “He is currently really struggling, but he needs space to run into and teams sit back against us. Nobody is supplying him with chances or scoring opportunities.”
Bees’ Views on ITFC and the Game
“Only 700 tickets sold for the Ipswich game, pretty disappointing”, “One of the least glamorous games we can play against a team that typically style-wise is bad, and in a bit of the country no one really thinks of”, “Ipswich is a great day out, a good place to visit and not a depressing Northern dump.”
“If Millwall can put three past Ipswich then it’s the right time to play them”, “Let’s not knock Ipswich too much. They may have been an average team since we were promoted but they have won all of their opening games, so they are currently doing something right and will be high on confidence.”
“A rubbish time to play Ipswich, they have won all three games and have nine points in the bag”, “I expect there will be a high turnout of home fans.” Brentford fans don’t run prediction leagues but they have noticed our strong start to the season and are treating Saturday’s game with caution.
“I didn’t expect Ipswich to start well at all. I thought they may even have an outside chance of going down. Saturday will be very interesting. Who do we pick and can we cope with their physicality?”, “I assume they're being ironic when they say we'll worry about the physical threat of Joe Garner?”
“It looks like Ipswich have ditched their old in-your-faces, hoof-it-long style and are playing it more on the floor now. I heard on the radio they started with four forwards at Millwall last night. They are apparently weak in the centre of midfield with youngsters filling in as they have a few injuries.”
“There’s nothing wrong with a set piece winner away from home in injury time. It just felt like the stereotypical Ipswich so interesting to read they may have a new approach.” A number of Bees have spotted our new playing style but the perception of us being a physical side has not gone away.
“Anybody over 6ft and likes kicking opposing players for the McCarthy battle please”, “Is someone going to take Luke Hyam out or will the team rotate kicking him?”, “What, like a chorus line taking turns?”
Some Bees are still angered by the tackle which led to Alan Judge’s unfortunate injury in the Portman Road fixture in April 2016. “The Ipswich fans said ‘they seem to forget how hard their players went in on Hyam after the Judge challenge’. Actually, we haven't forgotten.
“We’re actually proud of the players response to work as a team to get him sent off, the main difference being that none of the tackles were leg breaking for the sake of ‘show them they're in for a game’. It wasn't the only leg break caused by an Ipswich player that year either...”
The busiest Brentford message-board is the friendly and knowledgeable Griffin Park Grapevine.
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