Beesotted’s Jim Levack looks back at why Brentford were sent to Coventry by their fans this weekend and asks why there was such a dark cloud hanging over the team?
Hindsight. It’s a wonderful thing, especially when it comes to football. But realistically it didn’t take a genius to see that faced with a massively compressed season and games coming thick and fast, reinforcements would make a difference.
Forget all the guff about the lack of discernible value the January window offers. This was always going to be a season like no other. Fresh legs would prove crucial.
So the decision not to strengthen seems all the more baffling given the injury to Rico Henry and the lack of cover in that area.
But not half as baffling as Brentford’s refusal to adapt to the absence of Ivan Toney by ditching the aerial barrage to instead suit Marcus Forss’ very different game.
Today that failure to adapt and the fact we appear to have no recall on Dom Thompson from Swindon looks negligent. We have humility around the club but our lack of activity in January smacked of arrogance.
Fair play to Thomas Frank. He repeatedly insisted as the window creaked shut that he was more than happy with his squad. Had complete faith in them. Believed they could get the job done.
The last three games, when the free-flowing footballing side of just a few weeks ago has for the most part been a distant memory, will have left Thomas questioning that loyalty to some of his players.
He is also honest enough to be asking himself if he got the selection and tactics right against Coventry, a side we should have been looking to beat as a springboard – even though there are no easy games in this division?
Dalsgaard out? Jensen captain? Dasilva benched? Forss isolated by long balls Toney would have thrived on? Not sure but again it’s easy to be an expert after the event.
More than half of the side let the Head Coach down badly against Coventry in a performance that was bordered on shambolic at times.
Quite frankly, this didn’t look like the Brentford side we’re used to being thrilled by.
We played as if a dark cloud was hanging over us, as if something has gone on that we’re not party to. Hoping it was just an off day.
There’s no doubting that this squad consists of prodigiously talented footballers who have repeatedly mesmerised us this season. Wonderful, flowing football with an end product.
Which makes the last three games all the more frustrating as sides have turned the three 90 minutes plus into exercises in how to stifle, smother, press, foul and foil. And done it well.
I never publicly criticise players, but three or four who Frank has kept a near blind faith in have let him down lately. Hard to say why, but is it now time to go back to basics?
I’ve got no problem losing games as long as the performance is good, like in the first half at Shepherds Bush. But Brentford looked utterly unrecognisable at St Andrews.
A word cloud… languid, carved open, wayward passing, sloppy ball retention, half-hearted tackles, lack of movement, speculative long balls, questionable desire, failed to test the keeper, lack of ambition, reluctance to take responsibility.
That might be a tough or harsh read – I’m still hurting as I live among Cov fans – but the body language as the Sky Blues repeatedly snuffed out what little threat we posed, spoke volumes.
From the outset there was a sulkiness about us, a “why won’t they let us play?” teenage huff as Mark Robins’ side copied the blueprint of Barnsley and Co with a ‘high press and foul’ approach.
It was almost as if we were just playing football. Gone were the intensity and desire that has seen us fight back and never say die in so many games over the past six seasons.
Without Toney and Henry, it’s now even more all about rolling up our sleeves and competing – maybe forget the fancy stuff – until Pontus, Christian and Emiliano return.
But it’s going to need a massive change of mindset from some players who have failed to match their deserved billing and seem content to slink into the shadows.
Frank last week paid tribute to the eight Barnsley players who were still chasing back in the game’s dying embers. That’s the kind of endeavour all Bees fans want from their heroes right now – if we see that and still lose, we can live with that.
All of that said, we’re still second and I’d have bitten your hand off for that whenever it was the season started, our rivals are stuttering too and we have, to my mind, the best ever squad in the club’s history which will only get stronger as our key players return.
Games are coming thick and fast and we face Wednesday on Wednesday in a game we have to treat as the start of a new season, a clean slate and a chance to begin again.
Win that and follow it up with a decent performance in the free hit at Norwich and the gloom will be as distant a memory as Leeds’ wobble was by this time next week.