On a day of on and off-field shock, meet the Liverpool of the Championship.

21 Aug

Early season form. What can you say? Saturday afternoon saw Brentford go down 1-0 to a Rotherham United team who recorded their first win of the campaign. In a game where the stats may tell a different story (see also Liverpool at Burnley, a game in which former Bee Andre Gray could at least provide one meaningful contribution to a somewhat controversial day) we ended up second best. Yet Dean Smith’s team still sit in eighth place on 6 points, level with the Loftus Road mob and a Newcastle United side who have started to rack up the points. Finally.

That said, our head coach has made that  most awkward of comments at full time, saying : “The better team lost on the day but that’s football sometimes.” No, Dean. No. Don’t believe the manual.

coaching manual

A coaching manual, yesterday

Chances and possession are not what wins football matches. Goals are. Rotherham scored one. We didn’t. When that happens 67% possession and 18 shots (4 on target) count for nothing. By definition, they were the better team. Had we been better we’d have put one away.

It’s the sort of quote you’d expect from a Russell Slade or Steve Evans and whilst, perhaps, made on the spot is the type of thing we’ve all leapt on and laughed at in the past. Certainly, when made by an opposition manager.

Dean Smith is by no means in that category and so, hopefully, this was just an unfortunate choice of words more than anything else. Likewise, it could just be me over-analysing yet comments of this nature, made in defeat, always stand out like a sore thumb.

Even Pele sometimes ditched the passing to go straight for a shot on goal

Instead and you can’t fault the patches of creativity seen on the highlights package, it was another case of close but no cigar. Plenty of oohs and ahhs for Brentford but no end product as Rotherham managed to spring the offside trap for Danny Ward to grab the only goal of the game. The action is on the Sky website now or further below from ‘official’) if you want to take a look at what happened.

I wasn’t there. I can’t really comment on a game based on just a few minutes of commentary free video action. As ever, the BBC, Beesotted and Brentford official are your places for that. What  I can see are those stats.

The aforementioned 67% possession  and 18 shots should, in theory, have warranted more. Yet with only 4 of those on target it was proof, yet again, that if you are going to pick a game plan of hanging on to the ball then you need to be able to finish. Or, at the very least, test the goalkeeper on a regular basis.

I remember a similar scenario at Burnley last season. Marinus producing one of the most negative displays I’ve ever had the misfortune to sit through. We had 62% possession and 4 chances that day too. We also came away on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat.

Marinus unicorn

That Burnley game last season

Ironically it was Burnley who, like Rotherham, showed yesterday that minimal ball retention can still win games. Liverpool had a stunning 81% possession and 26 shots yet still left Turf Moor having succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in the Premier League. Andre Gray providing an assist and a goal before he would later provide the retrospective tweets that would split the footballing community down the middle.

Brentford, the Liverpool of the Championship? Possibly. We’ve already been the Barcelona of the lower leagues so why not. I’d be happy to emulate their historical record, that’s for sure.

Look.It’s still far too early to tell how any team’s season is going to go. Whatever happened yesterday, I’m happy with six points so far although Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday won’t be easy.

The Owls are slithering down the table after their opening day win over Aston Villa. With their fans somewhat frustrated (do check #SWFC on twitter) they’ll be desperate to “go again”.

Regardless, we are already two points further ahead than this time last season. Brentford have a 100% home record and are yet to concede a goal at Griffin Park.

Now those are stats I can live with.

Until then, here’s Mark Burridge and the official highlights package.

Nick Bruzon

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