Beesotted contributor Jim Levack (@jimblee1) offers his personal views on the Bees’ less than ideal start to the season and reminds us that Dean Smith had a winning team playing some of the best football we’ve ever seen as fans last season… and will do again. Share your own thoughts by leaving a comment at the foot of this page.
Shortly after Dean Smith first took the reins at Walsall his side went 16 games without a win.
But he stayed calm, stuck to his footballing principles and built a side that went on to punch well above its weight and challenge for promotion.
Four games in and a small minority of Brentford fans – the same ones who were waxing lyrical at the football on display last season – are calling for the manager’s head.
We live in a society where instant gratification is king and where success isn’t necessarily linked to hard work or what we deserve, and the same, sadly, is true in football.
But here are 10 reasons why the doubters need to pipe down until at least the 10-game mark.
Brentford have had no luck
Even Smith’s harshest critics have to accept that things haven’t gone Brentford’s way this season. Yes, the old ‘you make your own luck in this game’ adage is true, but it’s a game of very fine margins the higher up you go and Brentford have been punished in situations they’d have got away with last term.
Forest defender Bouchalakis won’t score another two like he did against us and City’s keeper will almost certainly look back on that night at Griffin Park as one of his best long after he hangs up his gloves.
The sloppy errors will stop
It’s never easy when you’re attacking almost at will – with possession stats pushing 70% – to maintain concentration at the back, but that’s what Brentford have done in the last few seasons.
The first few games have seen some uncharacteristic half-hearted clearances where perhaps the big boot a la Bristol City or Ipswich would be more effective, but then Smith would be damned for that too.
There’s no accounting for ricochets that inexplicably drop at the feet of grateful strikers, but better organisation can diminish the probability of that happening.
Henrik Dalsgaard is still learning his defensive trade in this country and Smith has chopped and changed the defence in search of the best combination.
For me it’s Barbet, Dean, Colin and Henry with Dalsgaard pushed further up, but defensive errors are at least something Smith, a damn good defender in his day, can work with the right personnel. And he has them.
But there are other factors at play, such as…
The uncertainty until the window shuts
The ‘will he, won’t he’ saga surrounding Harlee Dean – and that’s even without a bid coming in for him – can’t be helpful.
Having a natural leader stripped of the captaincy is ludicrous and plays straight into the hands of his rumoured suitors, who could play this game with us every year.
Frankly, I’d have kept him as captain for stability and cohesion and told Wednesday, Leeds, Bristol City et al to do their business before the season kicked off or forget it. What’s to stop them waiting until the last hour of the window, putting a bid in, taking a key player and leaving us with no time to find a replacement.
Likewise the situation with Jota is now starting to bore me. If his agent is touting him around as rumoured, then I’d let him go tomorrow… as long as his bad back has cleared up obviously.
If the agent doesn’t think his charge owes the club something for the way they stood by him, then this unsettling scenario will continue every time the window opens with any player of value.
Sad really because our chances of achieving top six this season – which I still think we’ll do with or without Jota – would be hugely enhanced if he stayed. He’s a quality player and, by all accounts, a nice guy, but I hope he – like some others before him – isn’t being badly advised.
The standard of refereeing will even itself out. Won’t it?
Maybe wishful thinking given the paucity of decent match officials even at Championship level, but the performances so far have hardly helped Brentford find any kind of rhythm in important phases of games.
One or two of our players have gone down too easily for me, perhaps feeling a little sorry for themselves, but wins change that and the standard of officiating will surely even itself out. I hope.
Three points for a win changes everything.
Yes, we’re rock bottom and a club dismissed by all the pundits and bookies looks doomed… or so a quick scan of the GPG and twitter would have you believe.
When we play well it’s expected, and there are no plaudits for Smith. Only his players.
When we play well and lose, taking just a point from 12, the knives are out already.
Two wins on the spin and we’ll be 12th, three and it’s eighth, five out of the next eight and we’re top six and the moaners will have crawled back into their holes to wait for the next shaky spell.
Yes, we need to tighten up for that to happen but we will.
The Woods effect
Never underestimate the effect that the tragedy that befell Ryan Woods and his partner has had on the rest of the players.
Yes, they’re professional sportsmen, but Matthew Benham and the DoFs have assembled a squad of decent young men who are, above all, human.
I’d rather have people like Lasse Vibe, who works tirelessly in the community, and Yoann Barbet, who looks devastated if we lose, than the faceless automatons interested only in cash who turn out for some of our rivals.
Ryan’s return – and again the club have been exemplary in their handling of his situation – will see an upturn in our fortunes. He is our engine room and brings us a tempo and verve that we’ve been lacking slightly in the opening four games.
When Brentford play their game at tempo, there are few teams who can touch them. When we drop below that level, it gives sides like Ipswich a chance to soak up, try to survive and then go on the counter – and that’s been the pattern in all four games this season.
“We are top of the league”
Not a Leeds-style ‘Champions of Europe’ boast, but when it coms to shots on target we are top of the pile.
Obviously that doesn’t take into account goals, woodwork hit etc, but a few inches either side and they’d be flying in. It will come.
Performance is everything
Yes, there’ve been silly errors but if we’d been more clinical in both boxes the performances would have merited at least nine points.
Previous managers adored by the critics have all gone with the same ‘performances bring results’ mantra, and it’s true.
The worst thing Smith could do now is change a tried and tested system that’s seen us play some superb football last season and this, and I’m confident he won’t.
A lucky win will turn it round
A last minute goal off someone’s backside that brings us three points will be enough to turn the season around.
Football is so much a confidence game and when you have to think about things, they don’t come easy.
That could be where the perception that Brentford are currently always trying to score the perfect goal is coming from, whereas in reality all it needs is someone unaffected by the current situation – like Canos or Woods – to come in and lead the way.
The new boys are still gelling
Ollie Watkins, Kamohelo Mokotjo and Neal Maupay look class acts, while Dalsgaard, going forward at least, is a great addition to the squad.
But as Jota’s pass to no one in particular against Bristol City showed, the understanding between the new lads and last season’s players is still developing.
That understanding doesn’t come in four games.
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