During the second half of the recent game versus Bolton, the view over the Ealing Road stand was as good as any I have seen in years watching Brentford. So instead of photographing Neal Maupay rampaging through the Bolton defence , I spent 5 minutes capturing this beautiful moon.
When we move to Lionel road I will miss hugely Griffin Park and moments like this will forever be remembered.
These three photos were taken only a few minutes apart and using different exposures. Don’t let anyone ever say it’s easy to photograph the moon. Sometimes you get lucky and some of the trees behind the Ealing Road stand can be seen in front of the over exposed moon making an interesting image.
Just seeing these numbers make one realise two things. It’s not all about money. Some teams with big budgets do badly and little old tinpot Brentford do rather well. One example might be Norwich with a wage bill triple that of Brentford or Middlesbrough which approaches five times that of Brentford
The reality was that Brentford were clearly the vastly superior side in skill, technique and work rate and thoroughly deserved the victory which could have been more comprehensive.
Without doubt to give perspective Bolton were the second worst side to visit Griffin Park this season with Burton being the worst. Both sides also make me wonder why does anyone pay to watch their brand of prehistoric football? Bolton lacked any skill or style, and their version of football consisted of not having any player under 6ft and many over that, and just kicking the ball in the general direction of the sky. Curiously about their only player who was not gigantic was a full back called Little. Not everyone on social media would however agree with my sentiments. But frankly the few chances that came their way derived from long throw ins or errors in gifting the ball to Bolton in dangerous situations.
There was also cabaret to be had with the antics of Phil Parkinson in his touchline boudoir seemingly disagreeing with each and every decision made by the referee, to the extent of clear fouls ( shirts being pulled, players being pulled down) seemingly being within the spectrum of normal play in his not so humble opinion.
Brentford were not at their best today but that did not matter. The impressive Florian Josefzoon caused problems all afternoon and although Vibe did not have his best game, he caused enough mischief to have had a reasonable game.
There were some real positives though today. The distribution of Dan Bentley was superb. His throwing the ball out makes a real difference. Chris Mepham again had a great game and John Egan is not going to get back into the side easily, if at all. Nico Yennaris had a decent game too and right back may be his best position, however he gave the ball away far too many times and often in dangerous positions. It was also good to see Neal Maupay score a back heel goal in the final minutes. Although this may have looked easy, he actually finished it very well and hopefully his confidence will return.
To return to Bolton, my prediction is relegation. They will fail to trouble sides who play football although undoubtedly will get a few points against the Burton and Sheff Wednesday style sides that rely on kick and run ( both the ball and the player) and sit perilously near the relegation zone. Bolton and Burton will go down, and the third place is open for auditions from Sunderland, Birmingham and Hull.
The media are full of the glamour of the FA cup. Sadly for many if not most teams that glamour is somewhat tarnished.
Not everyone is aware that the FA cup starts in August and ends in May. The early qualifying rounds are a god given chance for nonleague teams to make a small amount of money from the moderately attractive prize money on offer. By the time the first round rolls round in November the media suddenly awake with their stories of candlestick makers and funeral directors somehow managing to combine a job and a nonleague football career. Curiously they manage that on each of the other 364 days. As overheard at the recent Met Police FA trophy game a player when asked if he was playing on Tuesday simply answered negatively as was working. As Moriarty famously said in Sherlock “ that’s what people do”.
The glamour of the first round however comes with sadness too. The crowds at many grounds , sometimes famous grounds in FA cup parlor, were poor if not pathetic. The reasons may be varied. Clubs that decide not to offer deals and retain normal charges . Clubs that poorly advertise. Clubs that simply do not care as the league club imagines that the prize money more than compensates.
Let’s take a look at the winners and the rogues gallery. Starting with the rogues;
So where were the decent crowds? The nonleague sides playing at home. Hereford who are a reincarnated club but with great cup history had 4712 watch them defeat another nonleague side AFC Telford. Almost matching the highest crowd of the round at Luton v Portsmouth. 5333.
What realistically can be done? There are three options
To do nothing is not an option.
After two superb away wins and that curious but positive draw against Sunderland , Brentford fans were in optimistic mood with a nicely positive atmosphere prior to kick off.
In fact a beautiful evening to watch football. New Road was even treated to a sunset .
Shame the Leeds fans were unable to maintain a minutes silence for remembrance. Although to be fair many were expecting the referee to whistle to start the minute of silence. We were however treated to far too many renditions of his whistle during the actual game .
The game was superb end to end stuff. Brentford worked hard and in most areas for most of the game were superior to Leeds. But let’s start with the negatives. Too often Leeds were allowed space to attack through the middle and far too much time to shoot from the edge of the box. Bees were also slow to close down players again allowing far too many shots from around 20 yards. The good news was that Brentford were technically superior in every area.
Brentford took the lead after a keeper error allowing a simple finish. The luxury of another missed penalty did not put Bees off and if anything inspired Ollie Watkins to have maybe his best game. Leeds equalised curiously in an identical manner. Dan Bentley dropped the ball again allowing a simple finish. In many regards this was a copy of the Reading game except Bees then upped the tempo and deservedly scored 10 minutes from time . A nice free kick from Barbet who had a good game and finished the game off in injury time with a nice move down the left , the ball pulled back to the edge of the box and Ryan Woods scoring the best goal of the game.
If Brentford fans thought they had defensive issues, Leeds have far more serious issues. Goalkeeper Andy Lonergan looked dubious all game with plentiful handling errors. Defensively there was a lack of talent and skill with the ball going in any random direction often however out of play. When Leeds attacked they showed flashes of good play but so many unforced errors meant that many of their attacks ended as throw ins.
For Brentford this was their best team performance of the season. The side looked quick, skilful, hard working and effective. Chris Mepham looked solid coming on for the injured Bjelland. Yennaris had probably his best game I have witnessed with clever passes combined with a high work rate. Mokojoto was an ideal substitute stretching the Leeds defence with clever runs.
Nine points in a week does not come along very often and we have been shifted acutely from a relegation battle to a potential play off battle. There is a long season ahead but this game showed what Brentford are capable off. And for once Sky was there to capture it all
After the disappointing 1-1 result against an average Reading side, that frankly at the end could have been a defeat, there have been the usual comments this week with little substantial of note. The result was a fair one frankly. Brentford won the first half and Reading the second. The obligatory defensive error was even more ludicrous than normal, and why Rico Henry felt the need to commit any foul in the area is beyond me.
During the game Dean Smith had plenty of opportunities to change things, however he chose not to other than some ineffective substitutions. Bringing on relatively lightweight midfield players was probably not what was needed. The strikers got average service but missed chances again. So we arrive 22nd September with a very real chance that we will be winless entering October, possibly bottom and certainly getting further away from safety with each game. Although Bees fans support their team well and do not consider that we are the second worst team, the reality is that we are. Brentford play good though currently ineffective football and have been beaten by some very mediocre teams. We are not scoring and seem unable to contemplate a Plan B.
Despite these assertions the team have had a high work rate and probably do deserve a few more points. What is for certain is that our aim this season now must be to avoid relegation. Sounds harsh but I believe it to be true. Are there three worse teams than us? Maybe. On paper Bolton , Barnsley and Burton look relegation candidates. I cannot conceive that Sunderland nor Birmingham will get relegated.
So what is to be done? The Bolton game is a must win game. A draw is simply not good enough as it is difficult to see anything other than a point at best versus a good Derby side on tuesday . Brentford need to be physical and positive, and for once avoid needless errors. I would have no issues with the same starting 11 as last week. I don’t think Yennaris nor McCeachran are the players to do this. Should we lose the knives will be out for Dean Smith, and in my view he should be doing better with the players he has, they should be gelling more and scoring more goals. He should be looking for positive early substitutions if needed or none if not. Players like Shaibu and Archibald should be given 45 minutes to play. Often the fans can determine after 15 minutes how good or bad the system is and they can also guarantee that it will be the 60th minute before changes. The captain also needs to captain and be visible and vocal. The fans need (as they will) to stay behind the team.
Let us hope that we get three points tomorrow against a team bottom and out of form. An early goal might be what we need and preferably 4-5 so we can relax. I have a feeling we might indeed win tomorrow however that by itself will not magically solve all our problems.
This season is not going well. Let’s be realistic . We have two points from 5 games and no striking chance of a win until possibly the end of September. Far from chasing promotion we look a potential relegation side.
We have scored goals in only 2 of the 5 games and although the football has looked good at times in terms of end results it has not been.
Will we improve? Sure. We are not on paper a relegation side but we need to find our best permutations in midfield and defence.
Will we get into the play offs? Personally I think no chance.
My main concerns are that personally I am unconvinced by Dean Smith. I am also convinced that Yennaris is neither captaincy material nor even worth a place in the side.
Maupay will come very good with better service and Woods will help us a lot.
My prediction is Bees will finish in 15th place .
Did we do ok yesterday against Wolves? It was pleasing to keep a clean sheet. The defence was better. Midfield was average and we need Jota to commit to stay or go. But we cannot be happy with a statistic of zero wins in 5 games including 3 at home.
Too many times this season Bees have been lauded as one of the best teams other sides have played. A great performance is then followed by incredibly dire ones. How many times have we had this during the season? Games lost against Wolves, Fulham, Wigan, Blackburn amongst others. Why does this happen? Why does Dan Bentley openly admit that ‘ wolves wanted it more’? Why should Bees not be as motivated ? Is this down to the players or the manager?
Most fans have their views but will all agree on a few things. We need more physical midfielders. We need a Plan B. We need more strikers. But the fans are not all convinced that the players are to blame for these disparate resukts. Some feel the manager is at fault. It is his job to motivate the players and select a team that is ‘up for it’.
It might be even more complex. Certainly no managers are faultless and all players can have an off day. But my view is that Dean Smith is not good at selecting the right team for the right game. There are some games where one knows physicality wil be important . The dire 0-0 home draw with Wigan is one example. He needs to have and to select more physical players. The only exception to this is Jota who must start every game. He also needs to make changes to a system earlier in a game. Changes could and should have been made early against Wolves.
So what’s the prediction versus Burton? I suspect a tough game and maybe a draw would be a decent result. Bees are a mid table side and it would be good to now push on to a good run of form building for next season.
On paper a mid table side sets out to topple a promotion certainty side . However a lot more is at stake. Brentford performances recently have been dubious and inconsistent and the superb performance last week was not predicted.
There are two ways the season might go. A decent run of league results seeing us sit maybe in 10th place. A horrid run of results that see us in a relegation battle. Very difficult to call the direction on this .
Our squad needs to lose the fringe players. The squad should only contain players good enough for the championship . Sadly that means Bonham, KK, Saunders, Hoffman all need to move on. The jury is out on Barbet and Yennaris. My own view is that they are not good enough .
We all know what we need but importantly we also need options. Sometimes Plan A does not work and we need a different approach during a game. A further thing needed in my view is far more engagement with the fans than Dean Smith currently exhibits. Fan forums would be a good start. Maybe also acknowledging in his press conferences mistakes . Certainly a little bit of warmth too. Martin Allen was a revelation last week . Fans need to engage with the manager as they did with Warburton.
Lastly players need to start a game at high tempo . I can see no reason why not. Players need to play to their potential . Ryan Woods has ranged from brilliant to inept . And similarly most players.
Smith might also consider blooding more young players. Exactly what Holldack and others will learn from B games is unclear. Either play them or send them on loan to a league club or let them go. They need to play football. Week in week out.
Tomorrow against Newcastle will be a challenge. For me a good result is a draw. But a spirited draw.