Billy Grant pontificates on Brentford’s loss against Birmingham City and ask fans “What exactly did we learn from that match?” both on the post match podcast and in writing
Brentford went down 1-0 to Birmingham City in their first match in their ‘#FarewellToGriffinPark season. And there was high expectation in Griffin Park – with Brentford signing six new players before kick-off – with a couple more player signings imminent.
The ground was buzzing. But there was also an air of trepidation around the ground as Neal Maupay once again failed to make an appearance for The Bees this season – making it not one competitive or friendly match he has played for Brentford all summer.
Unfortunately being realistic, the likelihood of Maupay pulling on a Brentford again is pretty low. We used to sing “You’re French and you know you are” to Brighton fans. It looks like Maupay has taken that chant quite literally.
The Bees started the match on fire – moving the ball around the pitch with ease whilst mounting wave after wave of attack on Birmingham City. The woodwork saved the team three times. Camp pulled off at least one if not two incredible saves in the Birmingham goal. Canos want close a couple of times – putting the ball across the face of the goal.
It looked only a matter of time before The Bees got the goal they so rightfully deserved.
However, David Raya found the only action he had all match was to pick the ball out of the net after a tremendous deft header on the edge of the box found itself buried in the back of the box.
The second half, Birmingham dug deeper and Brentford struggled to break them down.
DaSilva and Jenssen – who had very promising first halves – looked not so effective in the second half. Ollie Watkins was moved wide to accommodate B-team graduate Marcus Forss up front.
Brentford continued to pass themselves to death – playing 710 passes to Birmingham’s 178.
But as time went on, the game seemed too fizzle out. There was no evidence of the last ten minutes rallying that we would normally see at Griffin Park.
And despite their 15 shots to Birmingham’s 1, the Bees ended the game with a bit of a whimper.
If you have read my ramblings before or listened to me on the PrideOfWest.London podcast, you know that I have always been a but ‘meh’ about pre-season friendlies.
Useful them to pick up snippets of guidance as to where our season may be going.
How good an individual player may look.
How well the Bees can cope with a new formation.
How well the new defence can handle the aerial attack.
But more often than not, you don’t gain very much from pre-season. Because when push comes to shove, it’s a whole new ball-game when you are playing Championship football. I would not be blowing Brentford’s trumpet too hard if I were to say we should have beaten Birmingham comfortably today. Even Blues fans messaged me during and after the match asking “how the hell are we winning”.
Simple fact. They scored the goal that counted.
I believe we learned a lot more about our new-look Brentford side in this one match than we did in all of our friendlies.
If you check out the post-match Beesotted Pride Of West London Podcast (below), you will heard Bees fans’ frank opinions on how and why we lost to Birmingham.
I also asked Bees fans if they learned anything after watching Brentford pass Birmingham City to death.
This is what we learned from our first defeat of the season?
The transfer window needs to shut before the season starts
The transfer window may have been moved back to the first week of the season – which is better than it was before on September 1st. But it has caused chaos with Brentford’s pre-season. The transfer window was moved back three weeks to close a few days before the Premier League starts. However, as the Championship starts a week earlier, the window actually closes a few days after the Championship opener. There is an argument to close the Premier League window a week earlier. Or if they don’t play ball, moving The Championship back one week
English leagues should all start on the same day and after the transfer window has slammed shut.
Dave Laney Lane
I learned that the Maupay situation cost us at least one – but most probably all three points. The EFL and Premier League start date and transfer window has to be synced without a doubt and the transfer window needs to shut before the start of the season.
Once again Brentford struggled to break down a very negative opposition
When teams come to Griffin Park and park the bus, historically we have struggled. We seemed to have addressed that issue with an overly-industrious team containing a number of players willing to run at the opposition. And key playmakers able to thread passes through the eye of a needles to unlock the opposition defence. Yesterday, Birmingham’s dogged defensive tactics got the better of us. But is this an issue a long term problem?
We need to have more movement in the final third of the pitch. Too often, Jensen, DaSilva, Pinnock and Jeanvier were picking the ball up in the middle of the pitch and looking to play forward but had to play sideways or backwards.
Rico was coming short for the ball too often and not making runs in behind the full back. And the diagonal to Dalsgaard (which he won pretty much every time) was worked out quickly by the Birmingham back four.
I thought our front three all showed flashes of class – particularly in the first 25 mins – but ran out of ideas in terms of runs and movement as the game wore on.
There was far too little movement off the ball yesterday. We needed to drag Birmingham players out of position and create options for midfielders to pass into.
Mats Swedish Bee
We need to figure out a way to handle teams that block our central midfield – forcing us to use the wings only. When that happens, we run out of ideas, the player’s confidence seem to go down, and the champagne football stops. More movement is probably the key.
Billy TheBee Grant
I learned (and it’s such a cliche) small margins make big differences. Because the second half was so frustrating, we forgot how good we were in the first half. If one of those chances went it, it would have been a different game altogether. Saying that, we did seem to run out of ideas in the second half. And steam. It shows how important our key players are to the team and the way that we play
Jon Condorman Restall
Jack Maghoma showed yesterday that a winger with some skill but most importantly a strong running ethic can get the crowd going and take the pressure off their team.
We are best when we play through the lines at a high tempo. We ran out of ideas yesterday against a very limited side. That said our back three will take some beating as they complement each other well and we finally look good in the air.
I felt that Canós was the only one trying to run through their lines with the ball but they pretty much doubled up on him and snuffed him out. Disappointed that Da Silva didn’t try it as we know he is capable of doing that. Disappointed that Da Silva didn’t try it as we know he is capable of doing that
The Amazing Gem
I learned our way of playing is nothing without urgency. That’s what we lacked in the second half. Urgency. Without urgency we just look like we’re running the clock down three nil up. Frustrating for fans yes, but also teams are going to be able to defend against that all day
We need to learn to play against thugs one way or the other
We learned that Neal Maupay is worth more than 20million!!!
We have a number of very good players in our side
Overall, debutants David Raya (who was a virtual spectator), Pontus Jansson, Ethan Pinnock and Mattias Jensen received good reviews for their performances.
I’m not worried about this one result. It will click at some point.
Jensen, Jansson and Dalsgaard all had good games and a reinforced subs bench with returning / incoming players will help add more options and fresh movement up front in the last 30 mins.
Jon Condorman Restall
I learnt that we’ve brought some new very talented footballers to the squad
Jensen and Jansson are both quality signings.
Jensen playing beautiful balls around and was lovely to watch. Our best efforts came from that. We looked strong and controlled at the back but the two central midfielders both played too deep.
Matt The Allard Allard
I learned that Pinnock is excellent in the air and that Jutkiewicz either wasn’t allowed to or couldn’t work out for himself that it might make more sense to go up against Jeanvier.
I learned I’m going to enjoy watching Jensen I also learned people need to have a teeny bit of patience, loads shouting for the pass whilst he took a few milliseconds to look for the best spot to place them
Billy TheBee Grant
Pontus Janssen has a real presence on the pitch and you can see is highly respected by his team mates. He’s going to need a few more hard-fought games to get himself 100% match-ready – same as quite a few of his colleagues.
With central midfielder Dru Yearwood looking to be joining us very shortly, does this mean another departure? Or is it a kick up the arse for Mokotjo to sign a new contract?
Ken The Cheshire Bee
Our back three looked very solid. This season may well deliver a better goal difference than previous years but maybe with us not scoring as many goals unless we are more clinical in front of goal.
Saying that, a tight defence is a proven formula for teams getting promoted.
The Amazing Gem Teale
I learned I feel a lot calmer watching a game, even one as frustrating as that, knowing we have a strong defence. Also I learned even more we need Maupay.
I thought Canós looked better than I’ve seen him for ages. And actually stronger
Brentford still have not solved their secondary striker conundrum
Brentford have managed to survive with one dedicated striker pretty much in our whole time in The Championship. The problem with that – if we have an injury or a player decides to leave (Hogan. Maupay), we have promising but not guaranteed backup stepping into his shoes. Remember when Watford were in our division and they would bring Troy Deeney off the bench and we would be like ‘”We can’t compete with that”. A semi-proven back-up striker is an expensive option. But it also has cost us somewhat.
We don’t have a replacement for Maupay and we must pull out all the stops – even last minute – to keep him. Forss will do well from the bench but we need more than that. If Maupay is to leave, we need a replacement and fast. Watkins or Marcondes are the answer in the role of solo striker.
Billy TheBee Grant
Some things have not changed. This has the same for a few seasons now. Forss is still developing so we have no natural secondary striker to step into Maupay’s shoes. Brian Mbuemo (otherwise known as Bryan from Troyes) is to join us any day. But he is a winger as opposed to a striker.
After trying Ollie Watkins up front on many occasions, it hasn’t really worked. Marcondes is also not the main front man from what I’ve seen from him so far. Forss looks lively. But a lot of pressure on him.
Maupay has unfortunately buzzed from the hive. So the pressure is in to get in a striker in the next four days.
Tony Old Mead
Stating the bloody obvious, today’s game proved once and for all, Watkins is not a Centre Forward and never will be
Griffin Park is a wonderful place to watch football – win or lose. Lets enjoy her last moments
When I’m feeling a bit meh about the football this season, I will just take a deep breath and have a good look around the ground, feel the atmosphere and history as the old girl will be gone too soon.
Groundhog Day Returns to Griffin Park. We’ve seen it all before
To be fair, this isn’t the first time we have seen Brentford dominate games at Griffin Park and lose. How do we solve this conundrum?
Jon Condorman Restall
I learnt that you need to take your chances when on top. I didn’t actually learn that yesterday but it was made even more apparent.
And if you believe xG and all that statistical hoodoo voodoo, Birmingham finished the game with a ridiculously paltry xG of 0.01.
If that game were played 99 more times, worst case scenario it would have ended up 0-0.
And 80 times, we would have won.
But we didn’t. We lost.
What worries me slightly is we’ve seen it all before. Two seasons ago we played wonderful football but couldn’t win a bean for two months. Boro fans told us – very politely – we reminded them of their side under Tony Mowbray. Beautiful football. Just missing that ‘something”.
We look to be transforming our side to be slightly less ‘beautiful on the eye’ and more ‘direct, tough and practical on the pitch’. It looks like the transformation process won’t take place overnight
Fitness seems to have been an issue with a number of the Brentford players
A few fans on the post-match podcast mentioned fitness as an issue for the Bees players. Should the team not be coming back fighting fit from pre-sesaon or will it take a few matches to kick into top form?
Jon Condorman Restall
We need to sort out wing-back cover because both Rico Henry and Henrick Dalsgaard were knackered from the extent of their attacking and defending
Billy TheBee Grant
DaSilva was a shadow of himself in the second half. A number of players were also blowing. There would never be any fitness issues after an Uwe Roslers’ legendary ironman close season.
To be fair, we were going hell for leather in the first half. Not scoring that crucial goal – and more to the point conceding – really cost us .
The Amazing Gem
I learned that we may have been lacking mental and competition fitness. Physical fitness they looked fine. Dalsgaard and Canós looked trashed at the end. But they should have
We haven’t finished in the transfer market this window. We didn’t have the players on the pitch this match to play exactly the way that suits us at the moment
It’s hard to get a real handle for the team at the moment. Incoming, winger Bryan Mbuemo and centre midfielder Dru Yearwood are both pretty much done deals. A striker is the main transfer target with what increasingly looks like the imminent departure of Maupay. Plus we have been rooting around for cover at left back for a while now. We won’t get a real handle of where we are until the squad is announced against Middlesbrough next Saturday.
Clive Davis The Bee
Thomas Frank tweaked the formation – getting Canos and Marcondes to play much narrower. I don’t know whether this was as a result of Maupay missing or something more permanent.
The Amazing Gem
I know it’s not conventional wisdom, but if Maupay wants to go now, ignore him and still make him stay
We don’t have the players to play route one football. But we do need a plan B
Dan Leicester Bee
I learnt that there’s a very large element of our fans who seem to prefer us to lump it forward when 1-0 down despite us having very few aerial options up front
Jon Condorman Restall
I think most people were just wanting some urgency rather than completing another 87 passes between the back three when we needed a goal. A plan B is always very useful
We haven’t quite nailed our playing style or ideal formation yet with all the new players coming in, injuries and transfer speculation players
We need to play more outside their box rather than just over the half way line. We either need to carry the ball their or find spaces for Jensen to hit (which we did well early on). Kamo Mokotjo coming in will help.
I’d be interested to see a back four with Norgaard just ahead of them freeing up the other two to go further up the pitch
I learned that Da Silva is much more effective when coming off the bench. He showed some nice touches but goes backwards and sideways too much.
The game needed an injection of pace and we need to move the ball quicker. This is something DaSilva didn’t do.
It’s still early very days. We will learn a lot more after the transfer window has finally shut
I learnt that it was the first game of a long season and players, and fans, will take time to learn a tweaked system and to get to know each other
It was evident how relatively weak our bench was yesterday. Saying that, it’s hard to work out what our first team will be never mind our bench until the window has shut. Maupay and Benrahma not featuring was a blow. We missed Benrahma’s runs. Mokotjo is an influential player. Nørgaard looked quality in close season and his injury against Bournemouth last week threw us. Valencia sounds like an exciting prospect.
Throw four of those five into the squad. Add Bryan from Troyes (who hopefully will be announced soon) and the bench is transformed
Tony Old Mead
I’m not at all worried after today’s performance. We look a lot stronger at the back. Wide play was good. And with a recognised centre forward and a bit more luck, we win that game.
Marcondes has a lot to do for me, not writing him off, but I am unimpressed so far. Da Silva is promising but not surprisingly is finding the pace hard over 90 minutes.
Brentford need to stick to what they are good at
Matt The Allard Allard
I learned we stopped being effective when we reverted away from what we are good at. We shouldn’t forget we were brilliant in the first half. We played high intensity, attacking football and hit (well, smashed) the woodwork three times and created a couple of golden opportunities.
In the second half it was like we started listening to the crowd and just started to aimlessly ‘GET IT FORWARDS!’
My Blues mate reckoned after the game they’re likely to be relegated and we’ll have a good season. He did spend most of the match grinning inanely though.
Some Bees fans still hate Birmingham City
The olde skool Bees Blues ding dong will go on and on for a few more years no doubt although things seemed to have simmered down somewhat. And even Harlee Dean was more diplomatic in his approach to this game. Personally I have a load of Blues mates so when it comes to taking the p!ss, we give as good as we get. The round of applause for the Blues as they entered our pub pre-match was quite funny. But with some fans, the needle still runs deep
I despise Birmingham City even more than I previously thought… jammy b@stards
This match was an excellent case for kicking football out of football
I learned that once again…..football ruined a great day out 😐
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