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|If Hurst wants to stay here for very long he needs to be braver|
at 08:07 19 Sep 2018
Stick to what he wanted to start the season with, trust players and let them get used to playing with each other. I can imagine the pressure to win a match is telling, he'll be very conscious that he's proved nothing yet at this level, but just chucking a load of names in the air and picking the XI that way isn't going to work.
How long had we spent in training playing the back three? It looked like a couple of hours if that, no-one knew who was supposed to be where and it allowed Brentford to pass the ball around us very effectively. The goal summed us up: two chances to bring the ball out from the back, but given away, Doancien makes a goal saving tackle and we still couldn't get the ball away and then they got a little lucky with the deflected cross. It was some header of Maupay though, calmly placed beyond Pennington on the line.
Brentford were very good, particularly in midfield where their use of the ball was both economical and telling. They probably don't have enough of a predatory instinct to really challenge for the top two but they certainly look a top six side. All this on a budget a little bit less than ours, playing consistently better football and finishing above us. That's the big indictment of Evans' approach, it's only ever been about the first-team manager out-performing the budget.
They should have scored more than the one goal though, that they hadn't was the biggest positive at half-time. It was a mess, a friend described it as having all the creativity of a bad McCarthy side without any of the organisation. And yet, one goal always leaves a chance.
At half-time Hurst reverted to the formation we had started the season with, one that immediately looked more comfortable. The back four was fairly solid although clearly exposed by Brentford breaking incisively but that's a risk with committing players forward. It was Knudsen's fierce shot after Wards's lovely pass that changed the mood, it provided a bit of belief on and off the pitch and the team grew from there, fans forgot the grumbles go the first half.
Yes, Brentford could have scored a second on the break but there was a sense that the equaliser when it came was deserved. The third or fourth phase of play after the deep free-kick (and what wasn't a cynical foul from behind a yellow card there?), the ball kept alive twice - once by Nolan and Knudsen and then by Skuse - and a lovely flat cross and a brilliant flicked header. I loved Jackson's little glance to follow the ball in. Another man with something to prove in this division but that goal goes someway towards that.
So, another draw then. As with Villa after a decent second half but after eight matches we've only been ahead for 29 minutes all season. A win still looks a way off but I don't think we can afford for it to take much longer. We have shown that we can look a side already relegated and a decent mid-table one in the space of a couple of matches but without a win there will only be more performances like the former.
The team selection yesterday came across as that of a man under pressure, you don't have to believe the rumours about Hurst having to win this week to save his job but there have been enough noises about him and Doig having upset several senior players and members of staff to suspect Evans might be having second thoughts. In which case, Hurst has to stick to what he believes in, stop being antagonistic to players in some kind of weird macho posturing and play on the front-foot from the start on Saturday.
Ultimately it will be results that dictate his fate but I think that the most disappointing thing about this season, aside from the carelessness in discarding experienced players, has been the lack of structure and pressing. Things that Hurst set great store on at Shrewsbury haven't been seen here for more than a few minutes at a time. That is a worry.
[Post edited 20 Sep 10:03]
|Who is going tonight then?|
at 08:12 18 Sep 2018
It's been a while since an evening match and it's just starting to turn Autumnal so we'll have the nice feeling of PR under lights for the first time in a while.
There are, of course, two more important things tonight. Most importantly, to pay tribute to Kevin Beattie which I'm sure will be emotional. I did see some talk of something in the sixth minute as well as the minute of applause pre-match, it would be nice to do something fan-organised as well.
And then to support the team. Hopefully the crowd will be as positive as it's been in the three previous home matches and, whilst there are questions about Hurst so far, they can be put to one side for the duration of the match. We will need to press Brentford tonight, give them space and they'll pass round us. Do that and cut out the defensive sloppiness and we have a chance.
The sooner we can get a win, the happier everyone will be. COYFB.
|Cricket: This is another really good Test match|
at 15:59 9 Sep 2018
Jadega this morning was every bit as good as Butler yesterday in dragging his side towards a respectable score. One day players adapting their games to Test cricketer, and the match situation, superbly.
England 60 ahead at tea. I presume we'll want to be at least 300 ahead. As much as the Oval pitch normally lasts for five days I think this one is doing a bit too much.
Highly tempted by the e-mail I've just received from Surrey, tickets tomorrow are £35 but I shall need to work unfortunately.
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