PENALTIES obsessed Beesotted contributor Luis Adriano looks back on James Tarkowski’s miss against Leeds and gives some ideas on how we might be able to start celebrating a few more spot kicks actually being converted.
For the third game running, over 10,000 spectators crammed into Griffin Park, this time seeing Leeds Leeds Leeds led a merry dance by the Bees Bees Bees. While the behind the scenes shenanigans at the Yorkshire club must be the envy of Emmerdale scriptwriters, here in West London, Messrs Benham, Crown, Warburton, McParland, Weir et al, continue to go about their business quietly and quickly consolidating Brentford as a Championship club.
Another three points chalked up on the board thanks to a delightfully sublime first half goal from Jota and a typically Ave Some O’ That finish from the recently contract extended Alan McCormack in the second. Special mention too for the engine on ex-Elland Roader Jonny Douglas, who has already shown he will be a useful driving force in this league, yet seemed to step into a further gear against one of his former clubs.
There will be many words written on how good a performance this was and what a pleasing indication of progress it is. My focus, without wanting to place myself within the ever decreasing moaning minority, will focus on the 28th minute penalty miss by James Tarkowski.
Ever since Trottagate, the nominated penalty taker is always known to the Brentford players taking the field. There have been quite a few names written on that board since and, with our awful record of converting from 12 yards, a fair deal scrubbed off. With the attacking prowess in Saturday’s starting line-up (eg. Gray, Pritchard, Judge, Jota, Moses), it would be hard for fans to nail down just who the name on the board would have been. I think it’s fair to say Tarkowski was unexpected.
With the hindsight of a Waddlesque blast into orbit, it’s simple to point this out and say, “a centre-half – you’re avin’ a larf”.
In defence of all concerned, it has been pointed out that James, who let’s face it is a technically gifted distributor of the ball rather than a Jamie Bates type striker cruncher, is often the best penalty taker at Jersey Road.
Here, at long last some may say, is the point of my piece.
Taking penalties at Jersey Road is completely different to taking them at a packed Griffin Park or any of the other lovely stadiums we will visit in this league campaign and possible FA Cup run to the latter rounds.
There will be fans of all ages, genders, and footballing experience within GP who could probably take a nice penalty at an enclosed training ground. Add a load of screaming Northerners abusing you from behind the goal and three other stands packed of fellow Bees counting on your conversion then your bum might start squeaking.
Again, going into the game, I’ve no doubt that the management thought West London’s best centre half with the initials JT could cope with that pressure. I hope they have evidence and if not, here are a couple of ideas.
At Jersey Road, whenever penalties are practiced, there needs to be some form of stress added to the situation. If it’s a simple case of players taking them at the end of a session against the goalkeeping contingent then sorry, we’re wasting our time.
This may sound rather stupid, but the situation needs to be made as close to that of a game as possible. People should be behind the goal and behind the player shouting abuse, the worst abuse you can think of, at both taker and keeper. Everything should be done to try and put those players off.
Some players may crumble. Some may laugh. Scrub these players off that board. Put a note up saying ‘Must Not Take In Game Situation’.
The players who are able to blank out all the shouting and abuse, focus, and place that ball in the back of the f***ing net, should see their names scribbled down and underlined.
Also, penalties happen at all different types of the game. Every so often, training should be stopped and these penalty training scenarios started. You want players to be able to take them when they are fresh in the first minute and when they are knackered in the 95th.
Indeed, for Cup Games and shoot outs, you’re going to be taking them after a couple of hours of pushing your body against nature. This is why international teams should be going into tournaments having practices penalties when the players have been put through hell. Give them a bleep test, tell them they’re practising penalties and shout abuse when they take them.
It’s not just, “ah, Keeps, do you fancy facing some of my pens?” when everyone is feeling fine and dandy.
To take this one step further, it would be useful to get the players taking penalties after a league game. I believe Aidy Boothroyd may even have done this during his time as Watford manager.
Get the players as close to the situation they’ll face as possible. Get them used to seeing their penalties hitting the back of the Ealing and Brook Road nets. Seriously, I think we should be doing this!
When Tarks stepped up, he should have had it in his mind what it looks like to see the ball hitting the back of that net. Mental imagery can get you so far. I’m hoping he at least visualised his success before he swung his leg back and hit that leather sphere as hard as he could.
Maybe, Tarky (note, I’m trying to call him something different everytime), will get opportunities to show us just how good a penalty taker he really is. I’d love him to go on and become our very own, Ray Stewart, Stuart Pearce or even Kevin O’Connor.
If not, and if we are unable to go through all I’ve described to find our premium penalty perfectionist, then f**k it, just give it to Andre Gray. He scored a shed load for Luton and I think there is always something extra about getting your main striker to take your spot kicks. Hopefully, the majority will go in which will boost their goal tally, thus increasing their confidence, thus leading to more goals, thus increasing their confidence, thus making them more likely to convert penalties, thus leading to more goals, thus, thus, thus…
You then get a striker nudging the top of the goal-scoring charts which is always nice and, as well as the success that brings the team, it adds a few more quid on their value.
Anyway, 2-0 against Leeds United was another great Championship result from the Bees, it’s just penalties, as you may know, is one of my many obsessions.
12 Yards by Ben Lyttleton
Penalties by Luis Adriano