Spread the love


Jim Levack looks back at the below-par defeat at Birmingham City and urges the Bees to “toughen up, get ruthless and stop gifting goals”

Another trip to St Andrews, another wasted 90 minutes as Brentford huffed and puffed without ever really threatening to blow the Blues’ house down.

It’s become a depressingly familiar walk back to New Street for Bees fans who have to go back to 1992 to remember the last win in the second city.

But it was the nature of this defeat – all possession and no penetration – that left a sour taste in the mouth that will give Dean Smith plenty of food for thought in the transfer window.

Once again Brentford’s midfield, whilst winning plenty of second balls and individual duels, rarely found Lasse Vibe who cut an isolated figure up top.

It wasn’t really a surprise either as this is a regular occurrence every time Brentford visit Birmingham. Nice football, decent passing in patches, beaten by a goal against the run of play.

Better though that Smith sees his side’s frailties now rather than in February though… and in this game he could take his pick.

Lack of quality in the final third, a shortage of invention going forward and a moment of sloppiness that handed possession to the hosts for the winner all combined to make it another miserable day out in Small Heath.

But for me there are two areas that urgently need addressing over the next few weeks which would, hopefully, reduce the errors at the back.

First and most importantly we lack any real nastiness in the middle of the park, particularly in games against streetfighter sides likes Blues unable to match us on football terms.

When you go to St Andrews you know what’s in store… a scrap in every area of the field, yet incredibly it seems to take us by surprise every season.

Many Bees fans insist we don’t need that kind of player because we are going to pass our way around sides, be technically superior and punish them with our possession and panache.

But Saturday was the moment when the needle scratches across the record. If ever a game was screaming out for an Alan McCormack figure this was it.

Instead Canos and Swift looked like rabbits in the headlights for spells, Vibe was forced to feed off scraps and even the usually ebullient Judge looked strangely subdued.

Make no mistake, this was a game that needed a Brentford player to mix it just as Jon Toral did, and incredibly stayed on the pitch.

Instead it took until midway through the second half after going a goal behind before Brentford came anywhere close to testing the largely redundant home keeper.

The old maxim that you can’t move or look after the football unless you actually have it was never truer here – when Brentford had it, it was all too briefly, a misplaced or sloppy pass handing the initiative back to the hosts.

When the ball did find its way into the box, Vibe was nowhere to be seen such is his laudable determination to help out defensively.

Which is why we are screaming out for a fox in the box centre forward – even with the returning Marco Djuricin and Hogan – if we are to mount a serious challenge for the play offs.

The statisticians will shout that we are one of the top scorers in the division, which is true. But our goals come from all over the midfield, fantastic but they should be add-ons to the steady stream from the out and out poacher.

Let’s be honest, few of us would want to watch the kind of football Birmingham City turn in every time we play them.

But it’s hard to argue that it’s effective, so perhaps it’s a lesson learned that we need to be more capable of mixing and matching our principles and game according to the teams we’re playing.

Brentford didn’t appear to have a Plan B at Birmingham as Rowett’s side strung eight across the back after going ahead. At times it felt that Brentford were the home side which I suppose is a compliment, albeit a pyrrhic one.

Its tough for me as live and work among Blues fans who all believe their side is the finest in the Championship and yet again I face a Monday at work arguing until I’m blue in the face that they are deluded. Their argument is to point to the final scores over the last 25 years.

Playing lovely football is great but there needs to be an end product and at Cardiff and again here we look far too brittle against the bullies.

Time to toughen up, get ruthless and stop gifting goals in 2016.

Jim Levack