Brentford travel to Bristol City today, with several obvious questions on everybody’s lips. Can we bounce back from the midweek humbling at home to Oxford United in the Capital One Cup? Will Andre Gray be ‘ready’ to start after speculation continued to link him to Hull City and, erm, today’s opponents? Who will be fit for the Bees? And can Channel 5 salvage anything from their ‘Football League Tonight’ show after last week’s car crash of a season opener.
First up, Bristol City. Well the good news is that we can expect 11 changes from the team thrashed by Oxford United. The not so good news is that Andreas Bjelland’s replacement will be an enforced one after the first half injury he suffered turned out to be severe cruciate damage that will keep him out for the entire season.
One can only wish him well after this most awful of starts to his life at Griffin Park. Interestingly, Marinus ruled out our playing surface as being a contributory factor, although it was something he had already acknowledged in his Beesplayer interview as, “more dangerous than a good pitch.”
This is a cruel twist of fate for our record signing and sees him join the ranks of Scott Hogan, Lewis Macleod and Josh McEachran as potentially game changing players who have come to Brentford but then seen injury rob them of the chance, so far, to impress.
On the more positive side, Marinus also confirmed that Alan Judge and Harlee Dean are both fit to return (expect to see the later line up alongside James Tarkowski at centre back) although Jota (ankle) and Nico Yennaris (dead leg) are doubts. As for Andre Gray, the impact he made against Ipswich Town last weekend was clear for all to see and one can only hope he is going to begin the game against Bristol City. Certainly, Marinus remained a lot more upbeat on that front, when pressed on the latest speculation, saying: “No news. I expect he will be playing on Saturday”.
Another player who could feature, although I expect it will be too soon, is new right back Maxime Colin. The former French U-20 signed yesterday from FSC Anderlecht, providing competition in the wake of Moses Odubajo moving to Hull. I’d still expect Alan McCormack to begin today but it will be very interesting to see how this latest new player performs when he pulls on the red and white stripes.
My prediction for today’s starting XI: Button, Bidwell, Dean, Tarkowski, McCormack, Diagouraga, Kerschbaumer, Gogia, Judge, Hofmann, Gray
As for the Oxford United game, it is done. Let’s all put it behind us. Move along, nothing to see here.
Marinus was man enough to admit, ”Maybe I was a little bit naïve about the game” and, no matter how well our opponents played (which was ‘very’) we all know that was nowhere close to the Brentford FC starting XI. It promises to be a tough match today against a Bristol City team making their first Championship appearance in front of their home fans after last season’s promotion and so expect a passionate, full house.
That said, Brentford have come out smiling from tough venues in the past. Last season gave us an excellent grounding for Championship life and so I don’t expect atmosphere to be a factor.
Instead, the challenge will be for the team to carry on where they left off against Ipswich Town and try to find a way past former Bees ‘keeper Ben Hamer in the City goal. Matthew Benham used Twitter last night to acknowledge the role Ben had played for the Bees and few who had seen him in action could disagree.
Ashton Gate or Beesplayer are the obvious places to see how things do pan out today but, if you are feeling particularly masochistic, how about avoiding the scores until 9pm and then tuning in to Channel 5 and Football League Tonight?
Surely, there can be no way this week’s show can be as bad as what was served up last week as the alternative to Manish and team? My own thoughts on their effort have been well documented and mirrored those of supporters up and down the land.
Presumably George, Kelly and the production team have taken some of the criticism about format on board. It IS a tough challenge to try and do something different and the basic elements are in place – decent presenters and League football. It was everything else, from start to finish, that was wrong about a show which is going to have to adapt, fast, to survive.
Can they do it? At 9pm we find out.