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 “ollie watkins”

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

Brentford v Leeds. Even the Star of Bethlehem arrived

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

A Week At Brentford. Whats next? Will there be changes soon? Bolton V Brentford predictions.

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. 1K4A4967x

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.00000262

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. 00000180

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. 00000224

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.

Brentford 2 Bristol City 2. Learnings and Thoughts

For a neutral this was an exciting game that was never sorted until literally the last kick of the game. Brentford fans will point to the statistics that show on paper their marked superiority  and Bristol fans will simply point to the score, and suggest that they might actually have won the game in the eight minutes of added time. Indeed bar an incredible clearance from Barbet that may have happened. Nevertheless Brentford have points tally of one point from three games, and with an away fixture at Ipswich ( who have 9 points), this may soon become one point from four games.

Social media gives a wide spread of opinions why Brentford did not win last night, focusing mostly on awful defending (again) through to the referee. Lets try and take a closer look. For me these were the key learnings and thoughts from last night:

  1. Brentford have uncovered the next premier league star in Ollie Watkins. He works hard and has great pace, can shoot and as he did last night score with headers too. He will now be the first name on the team sheet. Romaine Sawyers was also impressive, not only with his midfield play but also his ability to track back and defend. His partnership with Watkins was excellent and this can only improve.
  2. Yennaris had an unmemorable game both as captain and midfield player. He did so little and we have far better options on the bench and also in the B team. The sad news about Ryan Woods family also gives real perspective to all this.
  3. During pre-season one imagines that the manager would try out various defensive combinations and formations and decide upon a first choice. That seems far from the truth as the central defenders last night were the two whom were on the bench for the Forest debacle. Dean did give leadership and is our best central defender. Barbet however is not. He is prone to errors and made a critical one early on when the Bees confidence was high, and arguably derailed the Brentford side for the first half. There is no doubt he is a skilful player and he does the long pass better than anyone in the squad, there is much to build on, but as a central defender he would need to reduce massively the number of errors. For me the partnership of Egan ( who also has not impressed this season) and Dean is the one to use moving forward. Bjelland was shall we say not missed.
  4. Maxime Colin had a very decent game at the unfamiliar left back position but a fit Rico Henry will be a bonus when he returns. Henrik Dalsgaard also had a decent game but does need to be aware that he is a right back not right sided midfield player. Am I the only one who worries that his throw ins are illegal?
  5. Jota had a better game, not his best game, but the signs were there of improvement. His lack of form and unpredictability this season is a two-edged sword. Will it discourage suitors from making an offer? Will he regain his form of old if he stays at Brentford and signs a new deal?

On balance this was an encouraging game, but Dean Smith will be well aware that this is little margin between the best and worst teams in the division. If Bees continue to ship goals like this then make no mistake we will be in a relegation battle. This is a team in development but to allow the development defence must be solid.

Thoughts on Team for Bristol City. What are the Brentford fans saying on social media?

As much as it ever can be possible , Bees fans on social media seem united that some changes need to be made for tuesday but there is no need for panic. To summarise what has been posted and discussed since the weekend:

  1. Although Bees will always score goals there was concern over the lack of involvement of Vibe on saturday. Mostly fans agree that Watkins should start and possibly Maupay as well. I feel this criticism of Vibe is a little harsh and although have no objections with polls being posted of the best Bees player in a game, I am against highlighting the worst performing player as was done at the weekend in an online local newspaper poll. Vibe got little or no service and that is down to midfield. My hunch is that Vibe will start upfront but that Watkins will also start behind him in midfield.
  2. Midfield came in for the most criticism , and much of it fair and factual. The return of Woods will be much welcomed and there would be little surprise if the enigma that is Josh McCeahran is on the bench replaced by Watkins. Yennaris did not exactly propel himself towards a starting role tomorrow and Sawyers may take his place.
  3. The defence certainly needs a shake up. The individuals and the system need careful looking at. Concerns are growing over the need for Harlee Dean to be both marshalling the defence and also providing the leadership the team need. Egan did not have a good game on saturday and seemingly has not progressed as one might have hoped. How Dean Smith will call this is difficult to predict, however if Dean and Barbet start it would not be a huge surprise. Bjelland looked slow and predictable on saturday and most fans agree that he is not a first choice centre back at present. Rico Henry did not have a good game at all, but escaped most of the more vehement criticism. One big and interesting question is the right back position. Maxine Colin can be considered unlucky to have lost his place, however Henrik Dalsgaard is a very good and exciting player. The problem is that he was rarely seen in the right back position. For me and others he should play in the team but in a midfield role. Will he get another chance at right back tomorrow? I suspect he will. 1K4A2916
  4. Dean Smith quite rightly has come under scrutiny after two unexpected defeats and the manner of those defeats. Defensive frailty has been the keynote finding in both league games. Another bad result tomorrow will certainly put some pressure on him to turn things around soon. He continues to have both supporters and detractors.
  5. Jota. Without doubt he is an incredible player, but he certainly was not that on saturday. Difficult to speculate why, but transfer rumours cannot ever help matters. I expect to see him back to his best tomorrow .


My prediction tomorrow is a close Brentford win, maybe 2-1 or even 1-0.

Brentford 2 Southampton 2. A competitive entertaining pre-season game. What did we learn?

A decent crowd turned up to watch a surprisingly competitive pre-season game that saw Bees use their new signings. A draw was a fair result with each side donating a goal. Brentford looked the sharper side early on and scored with a nicely worked goal from Vibe.  Two Charlie Austin goals put the visitors in front before a howler from the fierce looking Fraser Forster gifted Brentford a late but deserved equaliser. goal

So what were the main learnings? Here are my thoughts:

  1. Fans will turn up in decent numbers for a pre-season game especially if the new players are on show
  2. Despite all the rumours Jota looked fit, interested and made a few Southampton defenders look quite silly at times, being allowed to run around them and then across the penalty area. 1K4A2935
  3. I am no expert in physical fitness but for me these players looked far fitter than in previous seasons. The game was played by both teams sensibly, with a few good challenges but nothing rash nor dangerous.
  4. Daniel Bentley looked a class goalkeeper making a couple of excellent saves, whereas Forster looked distinctly rusty.1K4A2921
  5. The Brentford style this year will be an attacking style using the wing and the concern will be not whether we score goals, which we will, but how to concede less. It is complex to read anything into a single game but to me the body language of Harlee Dean was not positive. Is he on his way out? Will it be Barbet and Egan in central defence? Dalsgaard looked solid at full back and Colin had his usual good game. Difficult to predict the right back starter. Good to see Mokotjo defending also as last line of defence. 1K4A2986
  6. Kamo Mokotjo looked good, scary and solid. He reminded me of  Toumani speeded up. He did make a few mistakes but rapidly corrected them. It is hard to see Yennaris getting many games. 1K4A2979
  7. Lasse Vibe is a class player. His hairstyle this year will be curious. Probably still our first choice striker. Neal Maupay and  Ollie Watkins both looked good and created mischief in the Southampton defence. vibe1K4A29331K4A3036watkinsshot2
  8. Florian J looked good too, maybe fitter, quicker and more stylish than last year. florun


Brentford fans will be looking forward to the season knowing that the size and strength of the squad means there will be healthy competition for places, and allows for injuries and suspensions. Why will we not be a top 6 side?

A full set of photos can be found on





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