Bees journalist Jim Levack shares his thoughts on how he feels Brentford should adapt to other teams’ tactics when they play us, and he feels we are missing Ryan Woods.
If I were a manager heading to Griffin Park I’d have a fairly clear set of instructions for my players.
Keep it tight for the first 20, restrict them to half chances or efforts from outside the box, grow into the game, silence the crowd.
As the game goes on, test the water going forward when you think it’s safe. If they look like finding any kind of rhythm, break it. If they look like they’re picking up free kicks around the edge of the box, don’t let them take them quickly. Stifle and bore.
If they get the upper hand at any stage, disrupt with niggly fouls in areas that don’t matter. Suss out how far you can go with the ref. If he’s inconsistent or weak, take the above up a notch.
Not rocket science to be honest, because judging by the way the last seven or so games have gone, the word is definitely out among our Championship rivals.
Have we been rumbled? Maybe slightly yes. Sides know we like to play football and will do just that with panache if you let us. They also know that an alarming number of referees, even at this this level, are utterly ineffectual and bordering on inept.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t enjoyed my last few visits to Griffin Park in the slightest, with each game taking on a familiar and frustratingly negative pattern.
Teams are coming with a clearly set out yet simple plan, an ‘anti-football’ strategy which will always have a decent chance of succeeding if the referee allows it… as they increasingly appear to want to do.
It’s not even that these teams are unadventurous, because when they break quickly we look vulnerable at times. It’s more that they are setting up to stop us for large swathes of the game.
Fair enough. I’d do the same, especially if I saw how the tactic was affecting the discipline of Brentford’s technically gifted players every week as they grow increasingly frustrated by both the tactic itself and the lack of protection from the referee.
So, have we seen three of the worst referees since Alf Grey in the last three home games, or are we simply looking for excuses… as frustrated as our players who sides couldn’t get near earlier in the campaign?
Maybe, maybe not. But for me, the answer lies closer to home and has nothing to do with the man at the helm, be it Dean or Thomas.
No. The big miss – and I know I’ll get shot down in flames by some for even suggesting it – is the absence of Ryan Woods. A departure that has adversely affected us more than I’m sure anyone at the club will publicly admit.
He wanted to leave for family reasons, the club wanted to sell to maximise income and that, after all, is how our model works. No problem with that at all. But the lack of a replacement is a loss that needs to be addressed in January.
Brentford playing at pace with one touch zip and zing are virtually unplayable. But without Woods, our metronome, our tempo has dropped and we aren’t the formidable opposition we were before his departure.
Kamo, Romaine and Josh all bring different qualities to the side but don’t possess a surge, that rapid and powerful change of gear over the first five yards to make things happen from deep going forward.
Woods, who one of my managers would have hailed as a “busy little xxxxxx”, brought an urgency to proceedings and was often a catalyst to make something happen in a game that had been predictable and far too one-paced, like recent home games.
There’s now more pressure on Sergi and Said to provide the spark for Ollie or Neal to hit the target, and let’s face it, if they don’t score we hardly have prolific finishers elsewhere in the side. Maybe another area for January’s shopping list?
Referees will continue to be poor, sides will continue to try to kick, niggle, time-waste and hit on the counter because to take us on at football is a much tougher ask. Bottom line is the only way to combat it is to play that football even better. And quicker.
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