Solitary diamond atop a dungheap of a performance sees Bees devoured by hungry Wolves.

15 Mar

Brentford 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2. Let’s start immediately by saying well played to Wolves and that the points went to the right team. Much as it pains me to say this the visitors fully warranted the points on a night when only one side showed the desire, or the ability, to win a game of football.

We don’t deserve to ‘be any good’ by divine right. We don’t deserve to win every game of football, much as the fans would like it. Yet, by the same virtue, the supporters do deserve to see their team put a bit of a shift in.  Don’t let the Sky video highlights, or the stats, fool you. Wolves ended the game with an apparent 57% possession yet watching on from the sidelines I’d have said nearer 75%. It felt as though we were that much under the cosh, the second half especially.

Dean Smith would note afterwards in his BBC interview that, “That was certainly the worst performance at Griffin Park in my time here. I don’t even think we had a first gear and Wolves were better from start to finish….Normally we out-football sides but we couldn’t pass water.

Ha! Ha! Dean. Very funny. Everybody loves a comedian and, whilst honest, what was the reason your team were so flat? Why couldn’t we break down physical opponents who clearly wanted it? Why did we just sit back to try and ‘absorb’? There was plenty of finger pointing in his interview on ‘official’ Brentford and acceptance of poor performance but what was the reasoning behind us being so far off the pace? Why weren’t our basics good enough? Why were we so outmuscled?

It has been interesting to read Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola talking about his philosophy on the BBC today, ahead of the Champion’s League tie with Monaco. His own take on their situation is a simple one.“The best way [to defend] is score goals,” adding that “when one team scores many goals and you think about just defending, you kill yourself. The idea is to try and attack”.

The Brentford performance was an even odder one because we’ve all seen how good this team can be in recent weeks. I’m not going to slag off individuals. Players have off days but the rest of the group can soak it up. Yet when they all fail to spark, and the manager is unable to motivate them or change it, you get what happened here. It was quite apparent within the first twenty minutes that there was only one side in this. The biggest miracle of the night not being that that we went into half time one up but that we then held the lead right up until the 86th minute.

Maxime Colin’s goal was a thing of beauty. A flowing move (yes, we did have one) culminated in a delightful pass from KK before the full back broke free and shot across the goal into the far corner. Sadly, it was solitary diamond sitting atop an otherwise dung heap of a performance.

Despite Dan Bentley stopping everything that came at him, aided by some last gasp challenges and Nouha Dicko hitting the bar when it would have been easier to score, eventually the pressure told with barely minutes remaining.

Both Wolves goals came from balls down the right flank, crossed  into the box before being tucked home. The second, in particular, was shocking, Having already been reduced to a point by Matt Doherty’s 86th minute equaliser, Brentford then offered Helder Costa the freedom of the Griffin Park penalty box as he was left unmarked to volley into the ground and past Dan Bentley with just seconds of regulation time left.

With it went the chance of the most undeserved of points making their way into Dean’s back pocket.  Game over, man. Game over.

Even George Saville looked vaguely competent. The former Bee actually managed to tackle Jota at one point. Which probably tells you as much as you need to know. This, despite coming in for dog’s abuse on the Braemar Road side about an incident that had allegedly happened around the back of a hotel carpark, in Brentford lock.


We may have lost, but I’d take Jota over Saville any day of the week

Only Keith Stroud’s assistant, who struggled on manfully despite being an accident waiting to happen with his clearly undone bootlaces, received more flak than Saville, Costa or any other of the players out there. Certainly it was more entertaining waiting for the inevitable ‘stack’ that failed to materialise, despite his steadfast refusal to do anything beyond eventually tucking the loose laces into his boot like a lazy schoolboy, than watching the game.

And talking of Keith Stroud, what of our favourite ref?  The diminutive man in the middle was somewhat restrained by his own reputational standards and had a generally good game. There were a few calls we all felt went the wrong way but that’s football. At one point, he even changed his mind in our favour following advice from the aforementioned assistant. I repeat. He changed his mind in our favour.

Instead, his convoluted prematch warmup routine of stretches, thrusts and synchronised dancing with his assistants was the highlight. Keith even went so far as to delay the prematch photos as he underwent one, final, shuttle run.

IMG_2350 (1)

Big bet ; diminutive ref. But a good performance from Keith Stroud

When the most exciting part of the evening was Buzzette dancing (in the most playful of fashion) with our Ealing Road wag, you know it’s one to file in the locker marked ‘painful’ and, instead, hope for some form of retribution up at Burton on Saturday.

Even the post match tweets from the players had a somewhat similar feel. Did Harlee and Sergi compare notes before tweeting? Are they handed these by the media team? Or is it just the ultimate summary of what happened – very disappointing tonight; can only apologise and say thank you.

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 05.14.32

Did the players compare notes?

Hey, at least we weren’t offered the chance to go again.

There’s nothing else to say on this one. This was less the proverbial bad day at the office and more one of being put on immediate gardening leave from desk based activity, pending a full enquiry. Instead, we can only put it behind us and await Burton. There’s no way it will be even half this bad.

Roll on Saturday. I certainly wouldn’t want be in Nigel Clough’s position when Storm Brentford approaches.

Nick Bruzon

12 Responses to “Solitary diamond atop a dungheap of a performance sees Bees devoured by hungry Wolves.”

  1. Graham Phillips March 15, 2017 at 8:05 am #

    Whenever our fixture with the Bees comes around I look forward to reading the ‘last word’. Always an intelligent, fair and comedic summary. Thank you!

    • sparkes March 15, 2017 at 9:17 am #

      Snap, This blog was my highlight of the League One season and meant I always looked for the Bees results that year because I wanted them to come up with us. One of the best footballing sites out there. I hope Brentford fans know how lucky they are.

      • nickbruzon March 18, 2017 at 9:23 am #

        Many thanks indeed. Really appreciated. That League One campaign was just ridiculously good and glad to see things continuing. Here’s to next season’s games

    • nickbruzon March 18, 2017 at 9:22 am #

      Many thanks Graham (and apologies for the delay in updating – been one of those weeks). Have very much enjoyed watching, and writing about, our encounters with Wolves over the last few seasons. Here’s hoping for more to come.

  2. peter lumley March 15, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    An elegant analysis of last night’s “performance. The omens for next season are now not so good

  3. Bernard Quackenbush (@BernardQuack) March 15, 2017 at 10:08 am #

    I think you sum it up perfectly. The team was flat, the team was knackered. Nico looked tired even before the match started. Even Smith was tired, looking on not able to effect any real change. Lost count how many times the Danish coach got up to advise him. Probably telling him to actually do something rather than looking like a helpless shell shocked general when a battle is going on all around him.

    I fear for us at Burton. A number of players desperately need a break from the recent Saturday-Tuesday schedule and are suffering badly. Is a clearly exhausted Nico going to be any real influence on Saturday? Buzzette had far more energy! Why are we playing hoof ball when our tallest forward player is about 5ft8? If our B team is so celebrated, why not give 1 or 2 a proper chance? After all we are really just playing out the season now. And how many times will Harlee and Bentley have to keep bailing us out to keep the scoreline respectful?

  4. @wolfwhowanders March 15, 2017 at 10:31 am #

    Good and well balanced read as ever Nick.

    I never thought the first goal would come and thought we were in for yet another “we were the best team by far but lost” interview with Paul Lambert. Not sure my stomach could have taken that.

    In the end it turned out to be a glory night. Late comeback wins are often the most enjoyable.

    I’ve not come on here to gloat – this is not a season for gloating Wolves fans – but really to ask the question: “What’s happened to the Bees?” In the words of Delia: “Where were you?”

    I was full of trepidation before our visit to Griffin Park. It’s proved to be a very difficult ground to play at. I remember even in the season we put three past you there in our shared promotion year from League 1 that we were extremely flattered by that scoreline. A recall a lucky opener and a couple of breakaways from a fast and confident forward line.

    Last night the brittle lack of confidence of a goal shy Wolves team was laid bare. However, at least the desire was there and in spades. It strikes me that we wanted it more even though. Surprising really as “lack of fight” & either Brentford or Dean Smith do not normally sit well together.

    And yet, that was a truly lacklustre Bees we saw last night – a team lacking in ideas and spirit.

    I can only assume that the comfort of mid-table where neither play-offs or relegation seem relevant has injected a degree of complacency. If that’s true then that is dangerous and Smithie needs to snap them out of it sharpish.

    I certainly hope you get it back soon and hope you can recover the belly fire to thump Burton and Bristol City in your next two games. You will need that fire as here are two more teams fighting for their lives just as we were last night.

    Good luck and I hope you don’t begrudge us the points too much … our need was greater.
    Wolves fans everywhere will be rooting for you as we are far from safe yet and we need all the favours we can get.

    • Rob March 15, 2017 at 11:18 am #

      Nice to see some constructive points of view from the opposition on here. Since DS has taken over we seem to play football in cycles, peaks and troughs. We build improve look confident and full of energy to the point where on our day we could beat anyone. Then we lose some of that energy for whatever reason, lose a few games then the confidence goes. Then we look like a team that’ll end up in a relegation battle. And that’s when the cycle reverses. The players galvanize, the tenacity and endeavor comes back and the confidence grows. I don’t really understand it personally. People talk about our average age; thats definitely a factor we need a bit more grit and nous, but as professionals at the very least the effort should be there and for some reason sometimes we just don’t get going like ladt night and the away day at Norwich. No one can begrudge Wolves the win last night especially with a £13m man in your starting line up ;). Good luck for the rest of this season.

    • nickbruzon March 18, 2017 at 9:26 am #

      Thanks indeed for your lengthy and articulate update. I enjoy the games with Wolves as much for the pre-match and the game itself as the analysis afterwards – always vocal but intelligent.
      Last night’s result from Bristol City hasn’t helped but you’ll be fine, albeit things could look a touch hairy at the moment. I;ve no doubt the Bees will hump Burton today – there just HAS to be some bounce back after Tuesday (when Wolves showed all the hunger and desire you want from a football team).
      Roll on next season….

  5. Bernard Quackenbush (@BernardQuack) March 15, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

    In reference to Saville. I read the phrase ‘dogs abuse’ and ‘back of a hotel car park’ and probably came up with the wrong story!

  6. Rob O March 15, 2017 at 1:10 pm #

    mmm. The worst aspect was the hoof and head league 1 approach – Why? We seemed to forget our natural passing style last night apart from the goal. Early part of the season Hogan would probably have dug out a point for us despite playing so badly but we don’t have that option now.

    Season is fizzling out whether we like it or not (though we are not technically safe) and it is up to the management team to make sure that we at least keep a game face on (I.e. have a bit of professional pride in performance) – or at least let us know that they are going to text in a performance so we can decide not to bother turning up too.

    My inner grumpiness about this is somewhat tempered that I’d rather not see Wolves relegated. We’ve had some good games over the recent years. But still don’t like seeing the way we played last night. Can’t think of any worse we’ve played at home in the last 3 years (possibly Walsall?).

    As a final point, I think Tom Field should have started for Rico Henry. RH needs a rest and I fear another Alfie Mawson with TF.

    • Rob March 15, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

      Agree RE: Henry. Tom looked knackered in the Brighton game but now has had plenty of time to recover. RH has played 5 or 6 90 mins after a long lay off, and the time’s right to give him a rest. I think Jota could also do with a rest, as to Nico. We’ve got Flo and Sergi so that’s doable, possibly get away with KK for Nico too. We could really do with another central midfielder right now though.

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