|Brentford 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Wednesday, 10th April 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Ipswich Could Be a Much Tougher Game Than Most Are Expecting - Notes for Brentford
Tuesday, 9th Apr 2019 11:00 by HarryFromBath
HarryFromBath assesses the mood in the opposition camp ahead of Wednesday night’s game at Griffin Park by delving into their forums.
“The quicker this poxy season ends, the better”, “Same for me, some big decisions need to be made in the summer, and hopefully addressed better than last season. We came ninth and were pushing for the play-offs last year, but we are now a lower mid-table team more focused on staying up.”
While Brentford may be sitting solidly in a mid-table position as the season enters its closing stages, many fans had hoped for a play-off charge rather than the four-game winless run which they will be taking into Wednesday’s match. Many expect that their small squad will be overhauled this summer.
“This season has been one to forget for many reasons”, “Everyone knew that this season was a great opportunity for us as there isn't really a stand-out team in the league. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be one big flop of a season apart from looking at it only from a purely financial perspective.”
“There have been some poor away performances but some of the football at home this year has been sensational, possibly the best ever. I get the negativity as it feels like we have missed a chance this year. I expect us to be more ruthless both on the pitch and in the transfer market next season.”
“We have a group of players who are not under any pressure to perform.” There is a feeling among some fans that some of the squad are playing within themselves and are counting down the season. “Are we really playing? It seems like we have made the 50 point-mark and now the season is over.”
“We really are poor away from home and a big mentality change is needed in this team. I feel for the people who have exclusively followed us on the road this season. It’s baffling why we struggle away from home. I hope we settle into the new Lionel Road ground very quickly when we arrive in 2020.”
“I love Professor Frank, he works out the code”, “I am getting to the stage where I have more faith in this guy than I have had in just about any other manager we have had in the last 40 years”, “I get the feeling he gets what needs to be done. He is making the fine tweaks he said he wanted to adjust.”
“He is incredibly honest and appears to see games very much like most of us.” The Danish 45-year-old managed Brøndby IF between 2013 and 2016 before joining Brentford as assistant head coach. He replaced Dean Smith in October 2018 when his predecessor departed to manage Aston Villa.
“This guy is the real deal.” Bees have warmed to him as they have seen the side grow in personality and develop a positive brand of attacking football under his guidance. “He has grown more into the job every month. The players are technically expressing themselves much more freely than before.”
“We are now playing like we threatened to at the start of the season but against better opposition and with improved results. This is coming from decisions he is making, his trust with the players and their collective will to work together”, “I hope to see what he can do with a bigger squad next year.”
“He’s the dictionary definition of the modern head coach”, “He’s slightly eccentric sometimes but I love his knowledge and passion for the game”, “He seems to be a ‘let them worry about us instead of them’ man, “He's an interesting and very likeable chap. Long may he continue as our head coach.”
Open Passing Football
“Saturday’s Derby game [at Griffin Park which finished 3-3] was great entertainment but it summed our season up. There was some terrific attacking play and poor defending. Derby were getting joy from simple dinks behind our defence and poor tracking”, “Our last-ditch defending was mixed with absolute carnage.”
“Next season we must cut out the overplaying in dangerous areas and powderpuff defending which led to their three goals. Do this and we will be top six next May. We have given away too many goals this year when teams have pressed us high. We must move the ball upfield quickly to eliminate this.”
Frank has developed a brand of high-intensity football which sees the team move the ball swiftly on the deck and which can transform defence into threatening attacks within seconds. There is a strong emphasis on intelligent movement off the ball and the alert winning of possession to unleash moves.
“We believe that our style of football means we can out-football any team in the league on our day, so we never set up to stifle teams. It's a mistake and means that sometimes, when we aren't on our game, we can be battered. Are we so inflexible that we will never set up to grind out an ugly win?”
The starting XI (above) for Saturday’s draw against Derby was set out in the recently favoured, very open and attacking 3-4-3 shape. Many Bees feel that Frank has preferred this shape to protect their backline, although Swansea dominated the two-man midfield, winning the Bees’ previous game 3-0.
“I thought 3-4-3 was a temporary move but it suits us”, “We look more threatening going forward as the front three can play closer together rather than the two wider attacking players having to play as wingers. The wing-backs also attack more, knowing that the wider centre-backs will cover for them.”
Keeper Luke Daniels replaced Daniel Bentley, who is out with a shoulder injury, for the last five games and he has grown into the role despite some questionable distribution. The sale of Chris Mepham to Bournemouth in January coupled with an ankle injury to Yoann Barbet have disrupted the backline.
“I would rather we play a back four long-term but at the moment our defenders aren't good enough to do it. We simply don't have a gelled defensive unit. The move to a back three has helped but we still look like three individuals at the back, we need a dominating centre-half to organise things.”
Ezri Konsa as the strongest ball-playing and best available centre-half, while partners Julian Jeanvier and Mads Bech Sorensen are both inexperienced at this level and have been pressurised into errors. “When Derby pressed us high, we were immediately in trouble and conceded silly goals once again.”
“Would we not be better with an extra man in midfield?”, “The amount of pressure that the current system puts on Kamohelo Mokotjo and Romaine Sawyers makes me think that Frank needs another body in midfield”, “The two in midfield get pulled all over the shop so something has to change.”
With Mokotjo playing more of a screening role and Sawyers more of a playmaker, the midfield duo is the heartbeat of the side, but this system requires highly energetic performances from them. Lewis MacLeod and Josh McEachran are peripheral players with many seeing them unsuited to this shape.
Henrik Dalsgaard, Rico Henry and Moses Odubajo are all attacking full-backs who have transitioned smoothly to wing-back roles. Said Benrahma is seen as the most threatening of the wide attackers, while Sergi Canos and Ollie Watkins have been more inconsistent as they have learned the new role.
“Neal Maupay looks a bit drained”, “In truth he’s had no match days off since August and that tells you the story.” Brentford’s habit of operating with just one frontline striker has led to some weary displays from Maupay. “He’s shattered, that’s why. He plays almost every minute when available.”
“The players are knackered. The squad's not big enough for a 46-game programme, especially when we have injuries”, “We are safe for this season, but we can’t make the same mistake as this season regarding the squad size. I hope the directors of football can bring in the replacements needed.”
Brentford 3 – 3 Derby
“A daft but entertaining game. I’m happy with that in the end, coming back three times”, “The Rams were nasty and cynical, but we proved we can be tough as well as technical and silky”, “A cracking game filled with lots of quality and lots of mistakes and a thoroughly enjoyable Saturday afternoon.”
Harry Wilson struck for the Rams on 13 minutes only for Julian Jeanvier to level with a half-volley 10 minutes later. Jayden Bogle's first Rams’ goal after a mazy run restored the lead on 26 but the Bees made it 2-2 on 31 minutes when Neal Maupay prodded the ball in at the far post after a lovely move.
Wilson struck again on 78 minutes before Said Benrahma levelled for Brentford five minutes later to rescue a point for the hosts. “It was another frustrating game! We played well but silly errors once again cost us a win. Still, it was a highly entertaining match and we played some very good football.”
Swansea 3 – 0 Brentford
“That’s me done for the season now. We were really poor and didn’t have the effort or urgency”, “We could hardly string any passes together whereas they looked fluid and threatening. We played Mogadon football at its finest”, “At least this should stop our deluded fans talking about play-offs.”
“I don't think I've ever seen such a spectacular first-minute cock-up.” Nathan Dyer’s opener was one of the fastest goals scored at the Liberty Stadium and he added a second on 34 minutes. The hosts wrapped up a comfortable victory on 78 minutes when Daniel James struck to add their third goal.
“We looked very ordinary”, “We sat too deep because we worried about the pace of James over the top, so we didn't commit with a combined high press. They passed the ball through us with ease”, “I really didn’t expect anything from this game, but unfortunately it looks like the team didn’t either.”
“Benrahma and particularly Canos were not applying the slightest pressure and Maupay gave it up quickly, too. Swansea’s full-backs could support in midfield, overloading both of our wing-backs and had all the time in the world to pick their spot in the spaces between wing-back and centre-back.”
“They are just a better version of us.” Bees were happy with the starting XI (above), but as the game wore on it was clear that the hosts beat them at their own game. “The only good thing about tonight is that Fulham got relegated even after spending £100 million, and it gives us another derby game.”
Wigan 0 – 0 Brentford
“Was that an ‘our season is over’ type performance?”, “That was a bore-fest with little or no quality on display”, “It was a pretty dire affair, but a point is better than nothing. In all honesty neither side deserved anything”, “Wigan are far worse than when they last went down and did a number on us.”
Reece James’s spectacular volley for the hosts from around 30 yards was tipped over by Luke Daniels in a rare first-half highlight. Daniels saved twice from Gavin Massey after the break while Anthony Pilkington's late effort was ruled out for offside and Chey Dunkley’s header also hit the woodwork.
“It was not the greatest game but have seen many worse away days. Wigan seemed content not to lose and were set up to squeeze us out which they did to a degree. I think they were happy with a draw which also affected the game although I am not necessarily sure that this has helped them.”
The starting line-up (above) was predictable, but there were familiar grumbles about the inability of the back three to move the ball out. “Some of the passing from the back was shocking and especially some of the balls to Odubajo in the first half were dreadful. If I was him, I would have been fuming.”
Goalkeepers and Defenders
“Luke Daniels is a steady-Eddie number two keeper.” The 31-year-old ex-Scunthorpe man “has been more consistent than Daniel Bentley who is an excellent keeper having the season from hell”, “His distribution is poor and it got worse as the Derby match wore on, but he bossed his area quite well.”
“Playing out from the back is a big part of our game and I think Daniels’s distribution has had a major effect on our defensive jitters recently”, “People can moan about distribution but he has made some very good saves”, “He makes smart stops, but is a little unconventional in dealing with high crosses.”
“I'm worried about Mads Bech Sorensen.” The 20-year-old ex-AC Horsens centre-half “is poor with the ball at his feet and he should never have let Jayden Bogle past him for Derby’s second goal”, “He had a cracking second half and won many tackles, headers and interceptions. He has lots to learn.”
“Sorensen does not yet have the presence to impose himself but that will come. He is by no means the finished article but will get better in time would not write him off yet “, “He look assured, trying to clear the ball simply for a runner. He certainly needs to get sharper but I really like his character.”
“Julian Jeanvier can be that rock for us next season.” The 27-year-old ex-Reims centre-back “hopefully will become a rock but needs to make tackles in the box. He seems nervous about making contact and gives forwards time to shoot”, “Definitely a steadying presence and so important to us.”
“I do like Jeanvier’s no-nonsense clearing of the ball. He makes some ‘Row Z’ clearances”, “I am very impressed with the way he wins headers, using his physical presence to leaning into his opponent to stop a free jump. His no-nonsense tackles and clearances are something we have not seen in ages.”
“With the exception of Konsa we have no centre-backs who can bring the ball out under pressure.” The 21-year-old June signing from Charlton “is great on the ball when playing with confidence but is more suspect in the box and aerially”, “He’s maturing nicely and seems to have an eye for a pass.”
Gwion Edwards v Ezri Konsa
“How mobile and good in possession is Konsa?”, “In recent games, he has pushed further forward, passing with more variation than the diagonal wellies we've got used to. I'm warming to him”, “He could be far better in the air, but I love the way he comes out with the ball and wish he'd do it more”
“We certainly don’t need Lewis MacLeod plodding about in there.” The 24-year-old ex-Rangers man “has little mobility and has done absolutely nothing so far this season”, “He has made little or no impact”, “I would only put him in if were really desperate as he’s generally been woeful this season.”
“I'm struggling to think when Josh McEachran last took a game by the scruff of the neck and changed it.” The 26-year-old ex-Chelsea man “has been going through the motions for months now”, “No question he has talent, what he lacks is desire and will power. It is one big failure of a signing.”
“McEachran has huge potential but has never fulfilled it. It will be his legacy unless he can find some determination and will power from somewhere, a shame really as there’s a real good player there”, “He’s irrelevant right now so let's concentrate instead on the heroes who are doing so well for us.”
“Can Josh da Silva deliver?” The 20-year-old former Arsenal youth product “definitely has potential but isn’t there yet”, “He has the combination of physicality and technical ability that can take him all the way but the tactical awareness element of his game needs developing. Just be patient with him.”
“Looking further into the future, I suspect da Silva may be seen as Mokotjo’s replacement”, “He got involved with the physical stuff at Wigan and made some good attacking play including one beautiful through ball”, “He is strong and always showed for the ball and le keeps it simple when he gets it.”
“Without Kamohelo Mokotjo we really struggle as we have no real running, mobility or tackling in the middle of the pitch.” The 28-year-old South Africa international and ex-FC Twente man “breaks up play and passes well”, “He does the little things so well and can play us out of tight situations.”
“Mokotjo tears around the pitch full of beans and leaps around like a salmon”, “He keeps it simple but reads the game and has made a habit of being in the right place at the right time. He has found his position and is relishing it in the current formation. He is such an important cog at the moment.”
“Romaine is arguably the best technical player to play for us in my lifetime.” The 27-year-old former Walsall man “gives us a cutting edge that leads to more chances. He feels irreplaceable to me and is crucial to our style of play”, “We missed him at Wigan to keep us moving and looking for openings.”
Alfonso Pedraza (Leeds United) v Romaine Sawyers
“In the system we play Sawyers is a major player, in truth we have no one on the books at present that comes near to his influence in that position”, “He drifts around the pitch making the opposition look awful”, “He has got it up there in his footballing brain and with his feet, an incredible talent.”
“I like Moses Odubajo a lot, but I can't be the only one who notices he gives the ball away far too often.” The 25-year-old played for the Bees in their 2014/15 play-off season before joining Hull, but returned to Griffin Park last August. “His speed, physicality and awareness have not diminished.”
Pringle v Moses Odubajo
“Moses always cuts back on his right foot when on the left and its predictable”, “I like his effort and pace but his final product in an attacking sense is poor”, “He loses it with basic passing errors and is reluctant to take on the full-back, but he has been criminally overplayed and is often out on his feet.”
“Rico Henry is bloody fast, isn't he?” The 21-year-old ex-Walsall man started against the Rams after recovering from a foot injury. “He had a massive impact. We were a serious threat down that side with him and Benrahma linking superbly. He's so quick, when he flew forward, he was like the wind.”
“Henry is not physically robust and you need to be to thrive in this division. He is always very injury prone”, “His amazing athletic prowess is his ability to accelerate from a standing start. He competes for a header and then as soon as he lands, he's off and closing down, giving the opponent no time.”
“This system suits Henrik to a tee. It allows him to bomb forward whilst knowing there are three at the back to cover should he or the team lose the ball.” The 29-year-old Denmark international “has the energy and power to play the wing-back role better than anyone else, he is difficult to replace.”
“Henrik gives us a much-needed physical presence. He wins loads in the air and is constant threat down the wing, but needs to work on that final ball”, “He's a lot better on the ball than people give him credit for, often playing some intelligent balls inside and not just whacking it into the box.”
“Ollie Watkins has been iffy for ages.” The 23-year-old former Exeter man “had his best game for ages against Derby, he was causing them all sorts of problems”, “He was very ineffective at Wigan and was off the pace a bit. He tries to take on too many players and often goes down blind alleys.”
“Watkins’s finishing of chances needs a big improvement. At the start of the season he would knock it past a man and blast it accurately towards the goal. Now it's all a bit slower and usually a tame shot at the end but his build-up play is very good”, “He is not consistent for sure, but is still very young.”
Matt Palmer (Burton Albion) v Ollie Watkins
“If I was guessing, I'd say Sergi Canos has cost us most losing the ball.” The 22-year-old ex-Norwich man “loses it a lot trying to overplay but at least he's driving forward”, “His pace and power have improved this season but he has ‘head down, must score’ days making so many very poor decisions.”
“I love Canos and his energy but he gives the ball away in silly positions”, “He is still the most direct attacker we have and can destroy teams with his pace. The final ball will come with experience and he injects such energy into the team. His aggression and willingness to get involved can’t be faulted.”
“Emiliano Marcondes will get his big chance next season.” The Danish 24-year-old ex-Nordsjaelland man “is a really good option off the bench at the moment and looks a quality player. He does appear to have a lot of mobility, he has some lovely touches, he can spot a pass and can also get stuck in.”
“Marcondes has got a good brain on him and will be capable of some great interplay and movement in the attacking third”, “Alan Judge would be the closest analogy to how he can fit in, nominally one of two wingers but drifting all over the place”, “We have seen too little to know his best position.”
“Benrahma is a fantastic player with more to come.” The 23-year-old Algeria international and ex-Nice man “is superb to watch on his game. He’s a young flair player so will be prone to inconsistency which will diminish with experience. He can also be lazy with his defending, failing to stop crosses.”
Said Benrahma (Brentford) v Sam Clucas (Stoke City)
“The way Said keeps the ball is surreal. I can't see the string which attaches the ball to his foot. He goes through players as if they're not there. The blink of an eye and he somehow vanishes for a split second and re-materialises the other side of the defender”, “He has really grown into the season.”
Strikers - Neal Maupay
“Neal showed great effort and skill against Derby despite being repeatedly clattered.” The 22-year-old ex-St Etienne man “deserves any plaudits he gets for the work he puts in. He is not only fantastic on the ball he is so hard-working and such a team player off of it. He can be an annoying little pest.”
Maupay celebrates scoring for Brentford
“Unlike a lot of strikers, who will always take the shot themselves if given half a chance, or do little more than focus on being in the right place in the box to score, Maupay works his socks off all over the pitch and creates space or sets up chances for the others. His overall contribution is immense.”
“Maupay has got better as the season has gone on. He has channelled his nastiness much better and links play with others so well”, “He has also really learned how to take provocation without reacting in recent games. Referees should really now be looking out for fouls on him, rather than by him.”
Bees’ Views on ITFC and the Game
“Let’s get a hatful against Ipswich on Wednesday”, “I think this could be tougher than we expect. Despite their position and imminent relegation, they have become a difficult team to beat”, “They will be regretting not appointing Lambert earlier as they have turned the corner, albeit too late.”
“Ipswich have been pretty consistent in the quality of their performances over the past few months but without getting the results. I expect that this is going to be a pretty tough game against a team whose performances bely their league position massively. I think this could really go either way.”
Many believe that our 1-1 draw at Portman Road in September began a run which saw them drift down the table. “I remember that the away game against them was the start of our run with no victories. I hope history doesn't repeat itself”, “Aren’t we on that sort of run at the moment?”
“The only guarantee is that Judge will score.” Most Bees are taking only one thing for granted on Wednesday night. “I just hope we don't give freekicks away around the box as we all know how good Judge can be. The manager should be pointing this out to the players before the game.”
“I'm not a huge fan of laying out the red carpet for former players, but Judge deserves it”, “I will give him more than just a bit of polite applause on Wednesday, he deserves more than that”, “Thanks for all the superb memories and best wishes for the future. You were a shining light before your injury.”
“He scored the goal that sent us up for starters”, “I will particularly remember your performance in the 3-0 win at Charlton. Arguably the best 90-minute individual performance I've seen from any Bee and on that day for me it was a fantastic birthday present. He deserves legend status.”
“In the context of this game I hope Judge is subbed off a few minutes before full-time and receives a standing ovation from all sides of the ground.”
The busiest Bees’ message board is the very friendly and knowledgeable Griffin Park Grapevine. Brentford highlights are available on the Multimedia menu as well as Ipswich Town and for the whole of the Championship and other EFL leagues. @HarryFromBath
Photo: Action Images
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