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The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

Archive for the tag “brentford”

Why Brentford Are A Real Team.Some Post-Match Millwall Thoughts


Usually when I post musings and photographs after a  game I go through and find my best 20 action photos and write a few words around these. Here I want to do something a little different.

Things have not been good recently at Brentford. Not many good results, some social media distractions amongst fans and generally the mood of optimism that was with us a month ago had partially evaporated. There was ill-advised talk that Thomas Frank had only a few games to save his job ( ridiculous I know) and many ideas regarding team selection (myself included). This was an important game in the context of where the season might go from here.

Griffin Park at sunset in November

Griffin Park at sunset in November

We all know Brentford won 2-0 and although there were a few scares along the way, Brentford were the better footballing side and generally had the higher work rate. Something very different struck me strongly yesterday, perhaps I miss this sometimes, but Brentford are a real team. They worked hard for each other and have a true bond with the fans. The bond is important. We learned this week how strong that bond can be and the results of a good bond with the sad news emanating from Leicester city.  No doubt I will post more comments and photos during the week, but these are the ones that captivated me . They are not my best action shots, these will follow, but these show the real emotion and bond between players, fans and the manager.

  1. Neal Maupay. This guy really cares and works hard. On this occasion he had made a great run but his final shot was inches away. This was one of the many opportunities Brentford had to make the score 2-0. 0000482600004824
  2. Said Benrahma. Looking through the photos the players photographed the most are Said and Moses. It was lovely to witness the celebration after the game as Said walked back alongside Braemar Road. He embraced a few fans and the looks on their faces says it all. 00004860
  3. Daniel Bentley. He has had a tough month and no-one would argue that he has lost form. This result and the clean sheet meant a lot. 00004866
  4. Thomas Frank. This was an important game for not only the team but also himself, and the justification of his team changes, and perhaps some of the changes he did not make. His bond with  Neal Maupay is clear and so wonderful to see. 000048560000485400004853
  5. Moses Odubajo. His first game as first choice left back. A long spell of injury the last few years at Hull City. The way he worked tirelessly all game and created havoc in the Millwall defence was immense and enjoyable to see.  0000480300004777
  6. Sergi Canos. Sergi is returning to the form we know he has but he has had to work hard to get there. His enthusiasm is immense to watch and no doubt rubs off on the team too. 00004784
  7. The whole Brentford team. They were a team and it showed before, during and after the game. 00004743

In the context of the season the result and the performance was critical and the obvious bonding between fans and team will be important in the months ahead. Brentford are a good team, a young team, mistakes will be made (by players, manager and fans) but lets keep this tight bond going.

Something Wrong At Brentford . The More Difficult Question Is What?


Anyone watching Brentford earlier in the season saw that we were a good team. Few teams if any looked better than us. This wretched run has now made some question even if relegation is a possibility.

It’s more simple than that . We are a mid table side that was full of confidence but after a series of events has lost confidence. My personal belief is that the players knew Smith was going long before it was announced . Weeks even. Having watched Brentford for many years , around 50 , I can spot when something behind the scenes is causing issues.

This leads to uncertainty amongst the players. Frank may be a good or a bad manager. We simply do not know , however it is unlikely he will have the same beliefs as Smith. Some players such as Josh have reverted to the abysmal form of last season. His lack of consistency for me combined with his inability to tackle means he is not one of our untouchable players, however to make wholesale changes last night was not the clever option. Moses will struggle to come up to speed , literally, after his injuries and lack of game time , and as he needed to play last night it could be argued that changing the midfield formation was not the time to do this. Having said that Yennaris is also a hideously inconsistent player who should have done better both last night and in general. Dan Bentley losing form has also cost us 3-4 points at minimum.

Frank needs to look close up at the team. My suggestion would be to revert to a single captain, a leader . That narrows it down to Dalsgaard or Barbet. The trouble is that the petulance and poor discipline that Dalsgaard can show suggests that to keep things calm he might not be the man.

So to put it simply my team selection for Norwich would be the usual back four, Kamo and McCleod , Watkins, Maupay, Benrahma, Sawyers and Daniels.

Daniels is a good shot stopper, like Andy Woodman, but currently falls down literally from not being able to command his area and come authoritatively for crosses, also like Andy Woodman. A goalkeeper coach is critical here to bring him on.

Some players must realise they are in the last chance saloon. Sawyers can perform. He can be premiership material but equally at times can be dreadful. Consistency is the key . Frank needs to select his best team and stick with them for 4-5 games. He also must not be afraid to make early changes in a game. If a player is poor for 20 mins take him off. Warnock does not do everything right in my book but this Warnockesque activity is what the team needs. Substitutions need also to be logical not pre-planned

Lastly do not play players where they are poor. Barbet is actually a good footballer but he has never been nor will be a good central defender. At times I would have played him as an old fashioned number nine as Plan B.

Brentford are a work in progress. We need as fans to remain realistic and supportive but also to be appropriately critical. That is important . Let’s have a rethink after the next six games of the Frank regime.

Some Frank Thoughts On Where Brentford go now


Over the last few months there has been an optimism amongst fans that for me is a little over placed. Sure we have some good players and at least two who could start in the premiership right now. The issue though is consistency. The teams that get promoted have good players but are consistent. Brentford have not been consistent.

My personal view might not go down well with some fans and that’s fine . Lewis McLeod is a luxury player. He has some good games. Some good moments . But if you were in a casino would you bet on him having a good game for example at Preston? Don’t think so. Some of his passing is sublime . But will he compete in every game ? Josh M… well ok we can explain an average performance on Saturday. Why was he selected? But many of his performances have been average . Intertwined with some brilliance . What was missing Saturday was physicality until Kamo came on. This guy is good. He rattles other teams. And he is consistent and needs to be a starter.

Thomas Frank will have his own views and I suspect team selection will evolve rather than see 5 changes overnight. We know our best defence. We know our most consistent player. Barbet. We need a Plan A and B and C for midfield. On days when Ollie Watkins is not at his best we need a quick change. Sitting in New Road the warm up gives me an indication who is up for it . Certainly by 30 minutes I can tell for sure. Let’s be radical and make substitutions early if needed or not at all if not .

Lastly we need leadership. Is the rotating captain working? Not sure. The natural captains of the side are Mepham , still learning his trade , Barbet and Dalsgaard. I would experiment with making Barbet captain. It just might work.

At the moment we are a mid table side. We could make top six but no way top two. Our focus needs to be on consistency and finishing off games. Few teams are better than us but on Saturday we saw a side that worked harder than us and it sounds bad but Lee Johnson got his tactics spot on. Thomas Franks did not.

For Preston let me see a real high tempo start . Kamo in the line up and early changes if things not going well.

Brentford ease to a 2-0 win over Hapless Sheffield Wednesday . What are the learnings for the Brentford fans?


There are plenty of good websites that will give far better game reports than I am capable of. Sheffield Wednesday came to Griffin Park in some degree of turmoil with a transfer embargo being lifted only two days previously.

Brentford fans were in good voice pre-game and a positive atmosphere pervaded everywhere, with one exception the two poor guys selling the half time lottery tickets were struggling and at the time we entered, one had sold none and the other two tickets. IMG_1654IMG_1648

The sun was shining and the pitch looked perfect. Brentford strolled to a 2-0 win that should have been far more emphatic, with five one on ones with the keeper failing to register a goal. IMG_1649

Dean Smith has a clear vision of his best team and the Bees were unchanged from last saturday. Ryan Woods making it to the bench. Sheffield Wednesday despite bringing 1500 fans were poor. Their whole demeanour pre-game and during the game was heads down and misery. Their style was also poor with mostly route one humping of the ball to their strikers, who looked disinterested . The gangling Atdhe Nuhiu who is a Kosovo Albanian professional footballer who plays  for the Kosovo national team, looked at times almost amateur. Wikipedia gave his salary as 300,000 euros in 2012. Astonishing if true. Their manager looked equally lost and bored in equal measures standing on the touchline often alone with none of his coaching staff visible. Jos Luhukay is a Dutch football manager and former midfielder. In January 2018, Luhukay was appointed as  manager, but it seems likely that on this form he will not see out the season until christmas.

Brentford were superb in their football, confident, skilful and at times cheeky. So what did we learn from today?

  1. The distribution of Dan Bentley has improved hugely and it is hard to think of a better English goalkeeper currently with the exception of Jordan Pickford. This is not hyperbole but fact.
  2. Henrik Dalsgaard needs to be more cautious in his tackling. Following a yellow card today another dubious tackle went unpunished and a different referee would have dismissed him.
  3. The defence is settled. The central defensive pairing of Mepham and Konsa surely is the best we have had in the last 10 years. Both players are light years in ability away from Dean and Egan. Chris Mepham is already premiership class.
  4. Neal Maupay has improved his all round game and looks a fine player. His finishing can and will improve. He can budget for 20-25 goals this season.
  5. Sergi Canos needs to up his game. At times today he was invisible. He may come under pressure for his place in the next few weeks.
  6. A settled squad and an unchanged team pays dividends this early in the season. I do not recall the quality being present so early in a season nor the fitness levels
  7. Brentford can push for promotion.
  8. That Griffin Park is going to be full most weeks, so buy season tickets right now
  9. There is a New Road mystery though. Where do you buy Pizza? We saw a guy return with a slice of pizza. Anyone know?

Rarely have the Brentford fans been so positive about a season and a team. 00003219

Wage Bills In Championship


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

Brentford 2 Bolton Wanderers 0. A Comfortable Victory Against A Poor Bolton Side.


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. 00001530

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.

Neal Maupay

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.

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If John Stead Had Been Playing For Brentford Would The Score Have Been different? Thoughts After A Dismal Day


Although no-one likes losing a game, frankly this was a game that Dean Smith clearly thought little of. Despite his post-match protestations, this was a  truly abysmal ineffective Brentford performance. Few would disagree with that and most might go further and ask why this might have happened. 00001572 copy

A very different Brentford team with 8 changes found it hard to get going and a half time score of 0-0 was about right against a physical Notts County.  The difference between the sides was a well taken goal from John Stead who is having a superb second half of his career at Notts County. 00001545 copy

With so many new faces it was maybe harsh to expect the kind of football and passing we are used to simply because the players have not played before together.  Individually a couple of the players had nightmare games for different reasons. Josh McCeachran was not only ineffective but gave the ball away numerous times and had his weakest game in a Brentford shirt. For all his skill, it is difficult to see what he gives to the team and his absence of physicality makes things even harder. Neal Maupay worked 100% but it seems does not have either the talent to succeed or the confidence, either way he again did not score and in the second half with multiple balls coming from the right from Florian Josefzoon one might have expected a goal or two. It is difficult to see how he can turn this around frankly. Alan Judge came on and had a decent 20 minutes and Marcondes also seemed a little unsure of his positioning but did show some promise. 0000152100001571

The reality of the game was that it should have been 0-0. Notts County worked hard but did not inspire, and although they will undoubtedly gain promotion, my guess is they will have a short stay in League 1 unless they sign a few more creative souls. I was not pleased to see their brand of physicality  ( which translates to fouls).

If Dean Smith wanted to win this game then he could and should have made perhaps only 4 changes. What he probably learnt was that his ” reserve” players are not perhaps quite up to Championship standard currently.

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The body language at the end showed it all, disappointment  , but simply the side was not good enough to score against a team two divisions below.  John Stead looked a decent player and with the number of balls that got into the box in the game, my suspicion is that if he were the Brentford forward, he might have had a hat-trick.

JM00001542000015271K4A7847000015230000151500001538Alan Judge will most likely be eased back over the next few months and realistically will look to be 100% by the start of next season. On positive notes yet again Chris Mepham played well and Florian worked hard but his final balls could be better. As we enter the transfer window yet again we are all thinking we need to sign 1-2 strikers. The argument that we already score lots of goals is not a good one, as with a pair of different styled strikers we might score a lot more. Some unanswered questions might be:

  1. Why has Justin Shaibu not featured more this season?
  2. What is the plan with Theo Archibald? Has his off-field antics caused behind the scenes problems?
  3. What to do with Neal Maupay?
  4. How could Brentford possibly consider selling Lasse Vibe?
  5. With our midfield and defensive players often getting balls into the box, is there not a solid argument for having a large centre-forward as either Plan B option or as yesterday, Plan A?

Were Aston Villa that bad? Or were we that good? Thoughts after the night before


A very wet evening heralded an excellent game of football that even torrential rain could not dampen nor actually have much effect. A sell out crowd of 12,000 including 1,600 Villa fans saw an end to end game that at times could have gone in any direction. IMG_6569

The scoresheet will confirm that Brentford won 2-1 but that hides a lot of the game. The few minuscule words that The Times chose to post about the game really were both clueless and gave their readers no feeling of anything about the game. So lets go back to the start. Brentford have a whole series of injuries that have disrupted their starting eleven for around 2 months now, yet even with players out of position and squad players coming in, the results have been quite superb. So looking at some of  the players who were absent from last night: Egan, Henry, Dalsgaard, it is clear that the Bees defence was not first, nor second choice but maybe third choice. Nico Yennaris at right back and Joann Barbet at left back, two players not always first choice this season, playing out of their regular positions. On paper this was a team that Villa managed by the ever increasing frame of Steve Bruce should have been looking to beat comfortably. Certainly thats the view from their hordes of fans on social media. In fact Brentford looked the most comfortable they have all season in defence, with the exception of the Villa goal scored too easily. 00000513

Brentford have turned into a hard working and maybe fitter side than earlier in the season, and are playing as a team. They are also some of the best football I have seen at Griffin Park over the years. The players have a game plan and it works. The return from injury of Sergi Canos has been crucial as has the return to form of Florian.

The pitch is now in excellent condition considering the recent weather and rainfall, and yet this is Brentford, were before the game smiling stewards were trying to sweep away the rain behind the New Road stand but at a slower pace than the rain that was falling!

The return of Alan Judge to the bench was warmly applauded and we might expect to see him starting a game soon.

My impression of Villa was actually positive. They were a hard working team in the first half and probably shaded the game on points. Always a threat when coming forward but as the game went on they failed to have a plan B and arguably gave up after Lasse Vibe’s 52nd minute winner. The last 10 minutes were the usual panic stations and especially as both Brentford central defenders were off the pitch with bloody head injuries, with goal line saves keeping Villa out. 00000487

Despite negative comments on social media my impression was they are a side that will be in the playoffs. The fans are shouting to maybe have Bruce out but they might look at their alternatives and instead stick with him. Do they really want a Pulis, Warnock or Pardew? Their football was not as good as Brentford and on the night it showed, but on other nights they will beat similar teams because of their speed in attack and physical size. What however surprised Brentford fans was the odd role given to Hogan. We know he is a good player, but we also know he is a confidence player, and a player that needs service in the box. He could slot back in at Brentford in the correct role and start scoring goals again. But a real lesson for not only Villa but also Birmingham and Norwich, do not just buy the best player, but look at the system they have been operating in and why they have been the best player. The simple reason why Canos, Jota and Hogan have not flourished after leaving Brentford. IMG_6583

The football played by Brentford was superb last night, there were no defensive errors ( bar one that we got away with) and we made good substitutions at the right time. The other thing we learned last night was that we do need to give Lasse Vibe a new contract. For me he has vastly improved this last 2 years and has at least another 2 years left of Championship football. He also is a stable influence on the side and is likely to feature in the World Cup in 2018. Nico Yennaris for me had his best game in a Brentford shirt, not only his positional sense but his cajoling and encouraging his team colleagues. Could this be his best position? I would not be alone in thinking that Henrik Dalsgaard would be better in midfield . Chris Mepham was superb and a casual observer would be surprised to learn he has only started a handful of games. Sergi Canos had a superb game despite his Malfoy like hairstyle, and is getting better by the game. Romaine Sawyers also had one of his best games and also looking better each game. Even Keith Stroud had an average game, when our expectations are that he will ruin any spectacle. A question to ask him is his interpretation of the advantage rule though.

Villa do not need to panic and although automatic promotion is beyond them, the playoffs certainly are not. Their hope might be that they do not meet Brentford there. This was one of the great nights under the lights at Griffin Park and when we move to Lionel road this is what we will miss.

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Brentford v Barnsley. What did we learn from this festival of football? Talking points


  1. Never knowingly watch Barnsley ever again. Another club in the lower reaches of the championship  who seem to think that mathematically drawing each game 0-0 will preserve their league status. The time wasting tactics we saw yesterday ranging from their goalkeeper wasting time two minutes into the game, and  added to by curious injury delays towards the end, were very much old league four behaviours. Simply dire.  As a footballing side they were adequate when trying to come forward but little better than that. In 2017 this kind of gamesmanship has no place and one wonders of the mentality of manager Paul Heckingbottom or his assistant Jamie Clapham.
  2. Never undertake the role of Barnsley performance analyst (Alex Bailey, what exactly do you analyse? Minutes of time wasted when score 0-0?)
  3. Brentford are not improving at knowing how to unlock defensive minded teams. We are a far better side in terms of skin levels yet seemingly not any better than teams like Sunderland, Burton and Barnsley, with disappointing home draws in recent weeks. The team seems not set up to do this and importantly no sign of a Plan B either.
  4. Josh McCeahran had a poor game and is not suited to playing in front of the defensive unit. He did not tackle and gave the ball away in highly dangerous situations. This was a curious decision by Dean Smith. It is difficult to argue that he should be starting games as he also offered little in attacking options either.
  5. Team selection and tactics. To put Kamo and Nico on the bench was perhaps an odd selection. Players need to be played who are in form and both are in the best performing 11 players at present. Ryan Woods is out of form and this worries me as is reminiscent of the form of players like Tarkowski and Toumani shortly before their departures. Why is Florian not playing? A player in good form and a set ball expert. There is plenty of room for both Sergio and Florian in the same team. 00000198
  6. Route one football at Brentford? We have never been known for this style of football. Our current squad are also not suited not frankly capable of playing this way, yet against Barnsley and Burton, for periods of the game this was our style. Justin Shaibu is the only squad member capable potentially of playing in this style ( and why has he not been on the bench recently?).
  7. Neal Maupay. Enigma or unlucky? The season has not gone well for him and some fans are starting to turn on him. He should have scored more goals but yesterday his level of service was zero. He is not a midfielder yet was having to win the ball to be able to do anything with it. For me he has the potential but needs the team set up to provide far more crosses into the box. He also I suspect is a confidence player.
  8. Is Dean Smith getting the best from his squad? Putting aside the few folks with persistent negative views, others are questioning his team selection, tactics and ability to out manoeuvre the opposition, especially when changes need to be made during the game. His choice of central defenders have come under scrutiny  and I am a critic here too. Our central defence is the weakest for many seasons regardless of international players we have playing there. As an ex-central defender he must see that too and I would like to see changes in the transfer window.
  9. Are we going anywhere this season? My opinion is not. We are a mid-table side. We will not make the top six, and unlikely to be in the bottom six either. We should take this opportunity to blood the youngsters or move them on. Chris Mepham should be starting and Ilias should be given a run of 4-6 games to assess potential.
  10. Why do the half-time draw sellers stand both outside the gents toilet ( for their sake, the smells are not lovely) and blocking the entrance to the steps up into the stand in New Road?  I do not much like this way of making a minuscule amount of money and £2 a ticket is a lot of money frankly for a small prize. The simplest way to make a sensible amount of money would be to make catering available to supporters in their seats in the stands. Trays of hot drinks and burgers etc. All priced sensibly maybe with pre-paid vouchers. To sell 300 extra hot drinks and 300 extra burgers would make a decent amount of money and provide a service.
Neal Maupay

Neal Maupay

FA cup First Round. The grounds are hardly crowded. Why ?


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;

  • Colchester. We all recall Layer Road and the Leeds cup tie. The crowd v Oxford City a pitiful 1775. Oxford won 1-0.
  • Coventry. A crowd of 3370 saw a 2-0 victory over Maidenhead.
  • Charlton. Another ex-premier league side . A crowd of 4494 saw a 3-1 victory over Truro. Around 1000 were Truro fans
  • Blackburn. Premiership winners . A crowd of 3710 saw a 3-1 victory over Barnet
  • Wimbledon. There has been enough miserable moaning from the club over the last few years about MK Dons and Franchise FC. The famous FA cup winners persuaded only 3394 paying spectators to attend their game against Lincoln City who had an incredible run last year. Terrible in my opinion. Need I continue.

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

  1. Do nothing and watch the history and glamour of this great competition die
  2. Allow the FA to subsidise prices for the first two rounds such that the maximum ticket price is £10 or less and children are free
  3. In the first round seed all nonleague teams to have home advantage

To do nothing is not an option.

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