With Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich in town, we thought we would get a few wise words from Harry from TWTD blog and his thoughts on Ipswich’s start to the season, their exit from the League Cup to Stevenage and if Grant Ward’s debut hat trick should be striking fear into the Bees’ defenders
We also look back on a few quotes from Harry from his pre-season prediction preview feature he did for Beesotted where he confidently predicted the Tractor Boys would finish well within the playoff zone – ending up in 4th position come May.
You smashed Barnsley on Saturday scoring four goals in the process. Was the score a fair reflection of the game?
It was a game of two halves but not in the normal sense. In the first half we saw the Town side which failed to gel for stretched last season and Barnsley could well have gone in ahead at half-time had Bart Bialkowski not pulled off an outstanding save. The introduction of both Grant Ward and Conor Grant after the break transformed the attacking balance of the team.
In summary, a one goal margin would have been a fairer reflection of an imperfect win.
You leaked two goals. Could this be your Achilles heel this season?
No. The defence has been strengthened by the signing of Adam Webster, giving us a first-choice right-footed, left-footed centre back pairing for the first time in years and the full-backs are defensively solid. This quartet sits in front of Bart who blossomed last season into an outstanding keeper and we have Cole Skuse, a geometric rather than athletic holding midfielder screening this quintet.
They are still developing an understanding but this will strengthen as the season progresses. We all remember that the first thing Mick McCarthy (the former centre-half) did when taking over was to sort out the chaotic defending which had us on the ropes.
“I struggled watching Jonathan Douglas in a blue shirt last season. His effort and commitment were wholehearted, but he had a run of unthinking moments such as his red card which did for us just before half-time at Birmingham and a careless pass which launched Brentford’s successful counter-attack at Portman Road”
You signed Grant Ward from Spurs for £500k He was Rotherham young player of the year last year. He scored a hat-trick after coming off the bench on Saturday. Did he look the part? Anyone else look good ?
Ward’s hat-trick obviously caught the eye and the stardust he added raised the level of his team-mates performances. Everton loan signing Conor Grant also made his competitive debut at half time and was a good foil for Ward. Bart’s first-half save, as mentioned earlier was huge and although Daryl Murphy did not score, he played an important role in the setting up three of the goals.
In the league cup you played Stevenage at home. Some cynics would say to similar style teams locking horns. Unfair judgement? How did you get on?
Town fans love it when opposition fans characterise our style of play as an unsophisticated lower-league derivative. It is true that we showed elements of this is last season’s injury-blighted campaign. But most would argue that the football we played for 80-plus minutes last season at Griffin Park was hardly League Two fare.
As for Tuesday’s defeat against Stevenage. Mick rested many – but not all – of Saturday’s Barnsley XI and the team served up another of the stuttering disjointed performances which have characterised most of Mick’s cup games since he arrived. Stevenage had personality, a clear playing style and a game plan and fully deserved their win.
Following your events in Exeter, I dread our two teams ever meeting in any cup competition. If it were to happen – and given both our recent cup records – it could be the first time neither team manages to progress from a tie.
“Watch out for 17-year-old Andre Dozzell, son of Jason who – like his father – scored on his Town debut. An elfin lad who normally operates on the right of midfield, he has the ability to make time for himself and ghost past players with ease.
He won’t play every game, but keep an eye on him if he pops up from the bench in our game at Griffin Park in August”
In your season preview for Beesotted you predicted an optimistic 4th. Having a peep around the league after one week do you want to maybe re-address that?
No. Mick guided us to seventh last year despite playing through much of the campaign with an unbalanced defence, no natural wingers and one third of his strike force – along with being down to one fit midfielder at one stage in the spring. With a deeper, fully fit and more balanced squad, a serious play-off assault is an option. Yes, the league is stronger, but this just means that more teams will knock lumps out of each other.
Both our teams seem to have disappeared from everyone’s thinking over the summer. High profile and high spending sides have been hogging the lime-light. I would argue that both our teams have seasoned squads who are more than capable of making a serious play-off run and, as we saw, Newcastle and Villa felt the full embrace of the madness of this league last weekend. We only need to be marginally better than the rest.
There was an amusing joust between Mick and Steve Evans after the Leeds boss was full of sour grapes after the Whites’ Portman Road defeat in January. McCarthy said after hearing Evans’s comments: “He can talk, can’t he? He certainly gives his mouth some exercise… I don’t know what else.”
Brentford were very much work-in-progress on Saturday. We lost to Huddersfield 2-1. We weren’t awful (for awful check the Leeds performance against QPR). But we weren’t good. A bit lethargic. How do you think you boys will shape up on Saturday?
The pattern of the game may well follow Barnsley with a cagey first half played out by two teams incapable of hurting each other. At half-time, I suspect that Mick may try the same trick of unleashing the hounds and the game will open up. If this happened I don’t see either side keeping a clean sheet.
Running the rule over the Brentford squad, I reckon that this may be a good time to play you. Injuries seem to have left the squad looking thin and narrow in midfield with a lack alternatives to change the pattern of play. For example, if we curtail Scott Hogan, there is no Andre Gray to replicate last year’s late chaos.
An alternative scenario, based on our respective midweek ELF Cup games, is that Brentford muzzle any changes Ipswich try to make after the break and the game peters out as a tedious draw. Knowing our luck, we will all end up with this bogey prize.
Pre-season preview: Where will you finish this season?
“We will finish 4th and make it to Wembley”
2-1 to Ipswich.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD
For Ipswich fans coming down, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming.
There are now only three pubs around the ground, following the closure of the Royal Oak.
The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal is the other option.
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) is the Beesotted pre-match pub. This boozer & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’. The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields (it’s a much better pub crawl route getting off at Northfields than South Ealing) before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route).
There is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.
For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. There are loads more too.
A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.
Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Rd (ie. North) via Ealing Rd or Windmill Rd.