A sunny afternoon greeted the first Brentford home game of the season played against a team that Brentford normally respect however with the bad taste left in the mouth from the encounter at Portman road a few months ago, this was always going to be an interesting occasion. Even the River Thames at Brentford looked acceptable in the absence of any water.
Thankfully football prevailed and there no side shows provides, Alan Judge did not make a visible appearance, Luke Hyams “injured” and Mick McCarthy played a decent role as the pantomime villain cheekily acknowledging the applause that greeted Dean Smith, as if for him.
The game was played mostly in good spirit and refereed well. In the first 30 minutes Brentford might well have been behind, the post saving us from an opening Ipswich goal, as the large sized Ipswich team marauded forward and at that stage my massive £1 bet on a Brentford win looked very much in doubt. in fact most Bees fans would have taken a draw if offered. But the Ipswich dominance became less as the half went on and it was no great surprise when Brentford took the lead early in the second half with an excellent attacking header from John Egan and soon after a close range superb finish that Hogan would have been proud of, made it 2-0 and effectively the game ended there. Sam Saunders should have added to the score and 2-0 did not flatter Brentford.
What did we learn? Firstly Ipswich will struggle this season to be a play-off contender. They were well beaten by Brentford who many take to be a mid-table side. The Ipswich style of play is a long way from the Sir Bobby Robson era and frankly I would not want their style transposed on Griffin Park too often. They may also want to consider signing a goalkeeper with more presence.
Brentford in contrast were surprisingly good. The new players all settled quickly. Callum Elder looks a good left back and very much in the Bidwell style. John Egan grew into the game and will be a superb centre back. Harlee Dean had a great game and I dont say that often. It is unclear how Barbet or Bjelland will get into the side apart from injury or suspensions. Romaine Sawyers was simply superb and my man of the match. Looking like a Clayton Donaldson lookalike he ran the midfield and grew into the game increasingly. Lewis Macleod was the only player I have some early reservations over lacking physical presence and missing an excellent opportunity. Dan Bentley had little to do but did suggest that his kicking game had been stoled from David Button.
A good start to the season and many encouraging signs for Brentford but maybe not for Ipswich. How long will Mick McCarthy remain as their manager? My bet is not for long at this rate.
On a hot sunny afternoon this was a good workout for both teams that played a competitive match in terms of effort without a great deal of end result or indeed physicality.
There was the curious sight of the scoreboard using maybe a bad acronym for FC Kaiserslautern…….
As is the norm a number of substitutions in the second half rendered any interpretation of whether this was a good or bad display meaningless. Overall Brentford played with the same style as last season and looked a decent side. No one stood out today on either side. The work rate however was superb for a pre-season game.
FC Kaiserslautern brougt almost 1000 fans it seems and there was a fair amount of cabaret between their fans and the Brentford stewards, mostly all good humoured and in fact well stewarded with no incidents that I saw. If their fans can be described as having a uniform it would be multiple tattoos and a flag per person, the noise from them was massive. They played an open style of play and it was no surprise that their goal came from quick running down the wing with an accurate cross on the floor that was finished neatly. In contrast Brentford goal came from an own goal scored from a corner.
From the new players Romaine Sawyers looked industrious and moved seamlessly at times from central midfield to the wings. Sam Saunders played the game more like it was a league game and looked fit and interested throughout.
There were a number of nice touches in the game, not least the minute silence for the Munich victims, and the general noise and support from the FC Kaiserslautern fans. At times even a little too vociferous and some needed reminding that a minute silence means just that!
The stewarding was also appropriately relaxed and fans had a great afternoon in the sun.
Ljubljana is Slovenia’s capital and largest city. It’s known for its university population and green spaces, including expansive Tivoli Park. The curving Ljubljanica River, lined by outdoor cafes, divides the city’s old town from its commercial hub. Ljubljana also has many museums, including the National Museum of Slovenia.
What however is less well known is the street art that covers walls in many parts of the city. Here is a selection of some of the variety you can see, all from the city centre. Some are works of art whilst some border almost on the graffiti border. Would you want a half eaten fox on the wall of your restaurant?
I have posted a few articles this year on Madrid. A great city but a warm one. Recently I had a few hours to myself to walk around and that goes quickly in Madrid. Who cares where I walked but it was on the edge of Gran Via.
A few things struck me:
When can I go back please? But dont mention the football. Euro 2016.
Corpus Christi is the Catholic holiday in honour of the presence of the body of Christ in the holy water. It is celebrated throughout Spain and is held in either May or June depending on when Easter occurs. To calculate the next Corpus Christi date, look for the first Thursday after Trinity Sunday (the eighth Sunday after Easter) and you’ll know when the fiesta is set to begin in towns and villages throughout Andalucia.
This is a painting from Benalmadena Pueblo by Vincent Van B from Corpus Christi 2016. Today it is still typical to carpet the streets of towns and villages with greenery for the solemn Corpus Christi processions. This adds a special ambiance to the processions. The Corpus Christi parades also tend to attract all the local authorities, and in some cases, military personnel as well.
What can be seen here is not the petals that adorn the smaller streets but the greenery that is essentially decorative only.
The result was important here as this seals the impossibility of relegation and takes Brentford up to 13th in the table and a maximum of 9 points in a week. The game was marred by the terrible injury to Alan Judge who after a reckless challenge from the seemingly unrepentant Luke Hyam suffered a double fracture of his leg. After the tackle and when the players became aware of the seriousness of the injury it was clear that tackles on Hyam were strong and Jake Bidwell had words for Hyam as he left the pitch.
I cannot recall such anger from a Brentford team over a challenge such as this. At a minimum it was reckless and the conspiracy theorists argue that Hyam picked his man. The only person who truly knows is Luke Hyam. What I will comment is that having seen the tackle in real time and watched it on TV many times, that there was no necessity for this tackle. It was dangerous, reckless and is the type of tackle that can end careers. there seemed little sympathy in the ground even from Ipswich fans at his eventual sending off. Good management might have dictated that he was replaced as he became a peripheral figure after that unpleasant challenge. And as of 24 hours after the incident he has posted nothing on his Twitter account to offer anything resembling repentance or even good wishes to Alan Judge. He will be a marked man at Brentford for many years to come.
What was both refreshing and encouraging for next season was to see that the workrate and tackling so much missing this last few months was clearly back. The midfield were both skilful and combative and Sam Saunders for me had one of his best ever games in a Brentford shirt. Lass Vibe scored two superb goals that maybe he might not have scored even 2 weeks ago.
Sergi Canos gave the kind of display that should make Brentford want to sign him on a permanent contract and the 18,845 crowd included 559 Bees fans who made more noise than the 18,000 Ipswich players. Canos ran, tackled and fought for every ball. He was magical.
The introduction of Jonathon Douglas in the second half did galvanise Ipswich a little and Douglas was involved in most of the decent passages of play that Ipswich had. My own view is that I would have him back at Brentford any time.
Ipswich Town are a friendly football club and to some extent one wonders if that hampers their desire to return to the top tier. Certainly there was nothing in evidence to show that Mick McCarthy has great tactical or even motivational tactics to produce. Talking to the local fans it was clear that they feel his time has come and he should move on. The fans and the stewards are some of the most friendly football fans in our division.
Sam Saunders epitomised the spirit shown by the Brentford players as in the photograph below.
Even the fringe Brentford players when they came on, and will surely feature more in this injury melee that surrounds Brentford , did their part. Gogia looked interesting and created trouble for Ipswich and Kerchbaumer also had his best game in a Brentford shirt. The photo below of a snarling Jonathon Douglas is a classic.
Mention has to be made however of the defence who have been heavily critiscised this season, by many including myself. They were imperious. Maxim Colin was both skilful, creative and tough tackling and is the kind of player we need in the summer to boost our chances of promotion next season. Harley Dean shows the dominance to contain Freddie Sears and make him look almost anonymous.
The only negatives apart from the dreadful injury to Alan Judge, were the cost to get in that Bees fans had to pay £32.50. This is too much for Championship football. Even for the home fans excluding travel, this takes the cost of a game over £100 for a couple.
But this week and maybe the day belonged to Lasse Vibe who looked every inch a Danish International striker. We should applaud him.
On Feb 24th I wrote an article after the Wolves game essentially saying that the clouds had lifted over Griffin Park .I was in retrospect very wrong to suggest that the dire spiral that Brentford had descended into over the last 2 months was over.
The reality is that is has got a whole lot worse and Brentford now must be potentially fearing relegation if not this year then next unless a whole load of changes are made.
Today we lost a home game 1-2 to an appalling Charlton side who had the benefit of the worst goalkeeper in the Championship, Nick Pope. And frankly we deserved to lose.
The game was of a standard that frankly under the trade descriptions act should not belong in the “football” league. Better skill and certainly better commitment can be seen weekly free of charge on many park football pitches.
I will not deal with Charlton other than to say that they were poor and relegation certainties and one wonder why Sanogo the tall striker on loan from Arsenal needs to handle the ball almost every time it comes near him.
Brentford lacked desire, application, effort, skill, height, speed, accuracy of passing, and ability to get players in the box. Other than that they did well. Dean Smith seemed unable to turn the tide and his substitutions apart from being poor and not leading to any improvement were utterly incomprehensible. Taking off their most creative player, Sergi Canos, was not the best option, and bringing on Sam Saunders, who contributed zero, Phillip Hoffmann ( did he touch the ball in the 20 minutes he graced the pitch?) and Lasse Vibe, were frankly absurd changes.
Some will blame the sale of Tarkowski and Diadouraga. I don’t. They would not have made much difference today. Something was very wrong in the state of Denmark. Brentford did not compete, although I would abstain from including Bidwell and Swift, who did put in the work and were the best players on the pitch.
Brentford fans do not mind losing to a better side, but to lose in this appalling manner to an equally dreadful side needs some explaining and responsibility needs to be taken and changes need to be made.
Who is at fault here? Should Dean Smith be sacked already? There is a case for the defence that he only has the players he has. There is a better case for the prosecution that he is neither trying to change things with the players he has, for example bring in youngsters like Jan Halldack, or change the system if his players cannot perform in this system. He also appears unable to motivate his side to perform the kind of work rate that all successful sides do and which we were doing under Lee Carsley. And this is the man in indictment against him. Many of these players were involved in Brentford wins last autumn. The role of the co-directors needs also some discussion. What we can say with certainty is that they are not visible. That is not always a crime and in many cases a cloak of invisibility is a good thing, however when things are going horrifically wrong then some explanation is needed. At the very least a Fans Forum seems a sensible option to at least explain the direction of the club in the next 6 months. Most of the players brought in last summer are not good enough and lack basic technique. My own view is that even given time and opportunity , Hoffmann, Vibe, Djuricin, Kerschbaumer and Gogia, will not become championship standard. The jury is also out on Ryan Woods who increasingly is muscled off the ball and needs a strategy to become more involved in the game. Increasingly Marco Djuricin is looking out of his depth and I remain underwhelmed by his goal scoring rate and his work rate.
What should and will worry the club are falling attendances and no doubt lower season ticket sales than this year. Empty seats help no one.
At this stage of the season we need to ensure enough points to avoid relegation and make a decision then over Dean Smith. We also need to stop making excuses over players who have been with the club almost a year and chronically under perform. The main value of a striker is calculated by goals scored and it is clear Brentford do not have a striker meeting that definition. Most fans would like to see the back of Phillip Hoffmann.
Lets hope the way forward is not now down.