Brentford complete their mini-break away from West London, with the game against Middlesbrough following hot on the heels of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Leeds United. But will it be a case of ‘Grim Up North’ or coming back home with some more positive news after last season’s footballing lesson at the hands of the Smoggies?
Brentford, of course, surprised most observers in reaching the Play-Offs last season. Those of us present saw a team punching well above their weight as household names and, so called, ‘big clubs’ were dispatched with all the ease of a supporter polishing off a balti pie i.e. easily. The Bees trounced the likes of Wolves, Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United as we came dangerously close to emulating Bournemouth and reaching the Premiership.
But Middlesbrough were a different kettle of fish. Over four games, including the two-legged Play-Off semi, Brentford ended up on the wrong end of a 10-1 aggregate scoreline. Middlesbrough won all four games, including a 4-0 league victory at the Riverside that Mark Warburton would later say “wasn’t acceptable, especially after the break when we weren’t good enough”.
For all that Warbs was a hero to many and did some wonderful things with his team, when it came to Middlesbrough we were most definitely second place. But can Marinus do any better?
Well, that was then and this is now. Whilst it is nice to recognise previous results when they go your way, they are nothing more than a statistical nicety used purely (and there’s nothing wrong with that) to remind the opposition of previous dominance.
But when it comes down to it, current form is the only thing of particular relevance. Whatever happened last season is done. Middlesbrough and Brentford find themselves both locked in the Championship hoping for another crack at promotion.
Boro’ are in third place already, behind runaway leaders Brighton and Cardiff City (Hmmm. That’ll last). They’ve picked up 11 points from 6 games, including 3 wins. Interestingly, their solitary defeat was at home to Bristol City. That’ll be the same team Brentford recorded their first win of the season against, with the 4-1 hammering at Ashton Gate. Mind you, that was also our only win of the season as the other four games have seen two draws and two losses.
Nobody gives us a chance. Certainly, outside of TW8. But then that’s the way I like it. Even my online bookmaker (who I use purely for reference purposes), has the Bees as 9/2 to pick up all three points. It wasn’t going to be easy, let alone midweek when there’ll be only a handful of the super loyal present (at one point, it was touch and go as to whether a coach would even be running).
Full marks to them for making this most torturous of trips. Especially off the back of the weekend when we’d have been denied the luxury of being able to stay in the region. It’s been a while since the odds and situation have been so heavily stacked against us, yet the optimistic part of me thinks this could be the night. And simply because nobody gives us a prayer.
There’s nothing like home support, expecting a massacre, to get frustrated when it fails to materialise. And as we know, that can transmit to the players. I expect Marinus to have the defensive handbrake on full lock today and then look to catch Middlesbrough on the break.
Then again, that’s what most people expect. Could he shock us all and go for all out attack? Looking to create chances at Leeds United on Saturday certainly worked, even if we weren’t quite able to finish them all off.
Ultimately, I haven’t a clue. I’m just the numpty on the terrace but you can be sure I’ll be glued to Beesplayer this evening to follow all the action. It might not be pretty. It certainly won’t be easy. But after last season’s 4 defeats, could it be different?
At 7.45, we find out…..