As Dean prepares for City game, what has he learned from the weekend? Who starts?

13 Dec

Midweek decisions. With Brentford travelling to Bristol City tonight, I’ve got some sympathy for Bees boss Dean Smith. My own all conquering Fantasy Football team has suddenly been shot to pieces by the red cards for Manchester City duo  Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho combined with long term injuries to Philippe Coutinho and Charlie Austin at Liverpool and Southampton respectively. Seriously, you couldn’t make it up.

The danger of over tinkering to remedy this has already blown up in my face at the weekend  (yes Jermaine Defoe, you do seem to be a cheap replacement for the free scoring Manchester City man) and could get worse.  The Bees, meanwhile, are at Ashton Gate tonight with Dean facing a similar set of decisions.

Thankfully, there are no new injuries but with this being the middle game in a set of three within eight days (and that’s before you even hit the busy Christmas schedule – wonderful planning from the league) is it a case of doing some longer term planning? Will he change things around a bit or does he stick with more of the same and potentially run his team into the ground?

To be honest, I can’t see him mixing things up. Whilst Burton Albion didn’t provide the stiffest of opposition it was a case of getting back to winning ways. One of the oldest of football clichés says you never change a winning team whilst I’d also chuck in the one about taking each game as it comes. Besides, what should he actually do?

As in the game with Birmingham City, it was as much a case of celebrating what hit the back of the net as lamenting what didn’t but at least on this occasion we got out of it with points. Is it simple bad luck or something intrinsically flawed with his set up?

Personally I’m in the former camp. Mostly. The plan seems a simple one, play it through for Scott Hogan to get on the end of and, when it works, it does so to devastating effect. The goal machine is now three clear of Tammy Abraham who he’ll be up against tonight in the race for leading Championship scorer. Only Dwight Gayle at Newcastle United has scored more this season. That’s a  stunning achievement although one which does show our incredible reliance on Dean’s Plan A.

hogan-celebrates

The Bees celebrated more goals for Scott at the weekend

As in the Birmingham game, we saw  the return of the three centre back system and I’m sure Dean will give that another go. Should Tom Field (two wins from his two Brentford appearances) get a start or will he have to remain content on the bench? The system is one that needs to be persisted with – the opening goal against the Blues was horrible whilst the marking for Burton would have shamed a primary school team. Yet it is a system which looks as though it will have merit whilst solving Dean’s problem of how to play at least three, if not all four, of his centre backs.

As for the midfield, one can only guess at just what is it that stops KK even making it onto the field of play? But if he is to get a look in, it needs to be a decent run of appearances rather than a token cameo. It is one that has been much needed in recent weeks – if only to try and break up the poor run – but Dean has remained steadfast. And now, with the team back to winning ways, the Austrian may aswell take a pair of tweezers to Bristol in order to pluck the splinters from his backside.

Then again, the start against Burton (at least, until the substitutions) means no change will, or should, happen. Romaine Sawyers was quite wonderful, Nico was full of fight whilst Josh McEachran picked up where he left off against Birmingham. There was a strong case for Alan Mac but one that was resisted and it seems to have been the correct decision.

Let’s not pretend we were perfect against Burton. But we were much improved. Indeed, but for that twist of fate it could have been more. We can see from the stands how unlucky we are being although my slight concern is that listening to Dean speak and reading ‘official’ it is an element that is being heavily focussed upon. “We could have done this…. the referee should have done that…. how did the ‘keeper stop it?” rather than simply, asking the question – why aren’t we finding the net more?

In a column that has already mentioned double cliché, let’s go for the hat-trick. You make your own luck in this game. Create enough chances and, eventually, things will go in your favour. Something will go in off a defender’s backside. The referee will wave somebody on when they are five yards ahead of the last defender. The opposition goalkeeper will be distracted by chants of “It’s all your fault” and spill one on the line.

Over 500 hardy souls are travelling up to Bristol tonight. Many more will be listening on BeesPlayer. Here’s hoping they are rewarded for their efforts with another hard fought performance.

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View from the Braemar – it was full blooded on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

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