Time for a bit of Frank talking with each other.

25 Oct

How are we all doing in Brentford this morning? Presumably still smarting over yesterday’s defeat at Stoke City or looking onwards and upwards? To the visit of Norwich City and then a trip to Luton Town. For what it’s worth (not much, apparently), I’m past it already. All the pontification about the formation won’t change anything. It’s how we react to it collectively that matters now. This was one game and there was enough there in the second half to suggest that, actually, change can be a good thing. I’ve also now seen the interview with Thomas Frank – at least, the 2 minutes 53 seconds put out by the club. That’s below… 

Say what you want about Thomas’s answers but he can only react to the softball questions casually tossed to him. These are the times when the fans are desperate to hear his thoughts on what went wrong but it felt as vanilla a Q&A as could be delivered. Of course,’official’ aren’t going to spill the tactical beans, overly show our hand or hang the coach out to dry but a bit of pressure would have been nice.

Oh, for BBC Billy Reeves and some of his characteristic gentle probing. The killer question delivered with all the charm of Leslie Phillips apologetically wielding a sledgehammer.  

Billy Reeves (kind of) – a portrait of charm and that sledgehammer blow

For me, Clive, the key point to take from this one was in regards to our formation. Was it tactical? Done due to personnel reasons? Or a bit of both?  Thomas’ answer confirming the combination approach but giving some reasoning and future notice that things are likely to be similar when Norwich City are in town. 

We are struggling a little bit with injuries, especially in the middle of the park with midfielders. For the second game in a row we only had three midfielders available from the squad and we know its most likely to be the same on Tuesday.” Going on to add that, “It’s a long season. We’re playing a lot of games. We are fit, we are strong but its also about keeping that freshness.”

Read in to that what you will. More of the same to follow, presumably, but which same? Five at the back or Ivan and Marcus back together again? The difference between the two formations was obvious to all. Going for broke and opting for the later one which puts all our attacking eggs in one basket from the off but I’m sure something which would shut the moaners up. And I don’t mean about yesterday’s performance – which was rancid – but in general.

That, and dropping Sergi who seems to have become the social media target of choice. He didn’t have a good one yesterday but you could say that about the vast majority. Henrik had a stinker. All three centre backs were stretched and caught out of line time and again. There was no service at all to Ivan. Yet the enthusiastic Spaniard is one kopping it from all angles and seemingly the reason we don’t have a record of WWWWWWW. Hmmm. 

Nobody came out of the opening hour with any credit. But if we learn form it then perhaps no bad thing in the longer scheme. Stoke City absolutely deserved their win, regardless of our own shortcomings. The season is a long one and there are going to be more decisions made which we don’t agree with. Decisions made based on fitness, tactics and a myriad of injury related factors we’re just not privy to. Sometimes it will work. At others, like yesterday, it won’t.

As Thomas himself acknowledged, “In the end it wasn’t good enough ……It was not spot on in the first half for various reasons but to be fair we could have played 3-4-3, 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 7-9-13 and I don’t think that would have helped first half.

The one obvious positive has to be the role played by Marcus Forss. He can hit a ball but he can also read the game. Ice running through his veins, judging by the finish for his second. What composure. What calmness. It gave brief hope we could still pull something out of the fire and whilst it wasn’t to be, talk about impressive. Another one storming up the blindside to emerge into the light, a fully fledged Championship and international player. 

One from the official Twitter feed – the real shining light on an otherwise dark day

For all that Thomas has injury problems to contend with, what a nice challenge at the other end of the spectrum with both Marcus and Ivan banging them in for fun. Get the supply lines and formation right ongoing and the Stoke game could well be seen as a turning point in our fortunes, much like Stevenage away all those years ago.

Not that we’re in any form of crisis, btw. One shit hour doesn’t define a season. The key point to come is what we learn from it. In how we react over the next few games. I’m not joining those getting on Thomas’ back. Quite the opposite.  Of course people have opinions and every right to express them. Context is always nice. And justification , of course. 

For me, he knows this squad. He has a wonderful way of motivating players. Look at how last season went as we hit that wonderful run after the clocks went back. The players, head coach and fans in unison.

We’ve lost that, now. There is no physical support. No closeness. The bond broken thanks to Corona. Of course, every team has the same to contend with yet for for us at Brentford it was always a huge factor. That tight stadium and proximity of fans to the action was massive. Those post-match walkabouts seeing the symbiotic relationship between those on pitch and those in the stands growing ever closer. Geeing each other up to the point where we hadn’t even left Griffin Park and already couldn’t wait for the next game.

It is a massive advantage that has been removed from our armoury and with game following game following game, needs to be considered by those wondering why we’re not winning everything 5-0. Support and motivation from the stands are a massive thing for players. Everybody acknowledges that football without fans isn’t the same. Injuries bite and necessitate change. Tired legs are already obvious to see.

Thomas and the crowd have always fed off each other’s energy

It’s how we react to these factors that is going to be so crucial to our fortunes over the next month or so. Look at he bigger picture and we’re well, well set. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We have a fantastic squad and a passionate head Coach who, for the record, better not be going anywhere. That’s my opinion and you may feel it is wrong. Fair enough but as one fan to another, explain why. Explain what you would do. How you would cope with a relentless series of games that would test the fittest of players. How you would motivate players rattling around empty stadia.

Those, for me, are the challenges faced by not just Brentford but every club in this division. This Championship campaign is going to be one of the most open on record. Careful management of the squad will be key to success. This is what we are trying.

Life’s too short and too hard at present to lose it on negativity. That’s not me wearing a club hat (they don’t employ me and I have no obligation to kiss anybody’s butt). It’s me fed up with the constant moaning about a team who have a progressive set up, a passionate head coach and are only four points off second place.

That said, please let’s never play three centre backs again.

Nick Bruzon  

8 Responses to “Time for a bit of Frank talking with each other.”

  1. Martin West October 25, 2020 at 9:39 am #

    You are right Nick about opinions and advice, bit like Starmer in England and Biden in USA asking questions they don’t even have answers to.hindsight is always 20/20 and if we had won it would be tactical genius. 3 CBs not used to that system was fraught with danger and so it proved but till you try something you won’t know. Back to playing our game and let the opposition do the thinking is how we must go from now

  2. Rod Davidson October 25, 2020 at 10:28 am #

    Hello Nick,
    You touched on this theme the other day – keyboard warriors – and now ‘ constant moaning’.
    I have to say that I don’t get a sense of that at all.
    I contend, that the vast majority of people – in any situation – who are content, will tend to be the silent ones, because generally their attitude is, that it’s all OK at the moment.
    I happen to think that myself. We have come a long way in recent years and have achieved fantastic things compared to times gone by.
    Thomas Frank is an intelligent man who under his leadership has produced for us a very attractive brand of football.
    How many times have you heard experts, commentators and opposition managers saying that Brentford are a poor side. Absolute ZILCH !
    So then it all comes down to personal opinion. You mentioned Canos and Dalsgaard – I have an opinion on that too – but I don’t think it agrees with yours.
    The system yesterday was wrong (in my opinion) with too many square pegs in round holes.
    Remember Alan Judge playing as a false number Nine at Loftus Road.
    My only real criticism of yesterday was that we persevered for too long with a system that deprived us of any creative fluidity.
    Stoke are a big side in terms of us having to defend set pieces, so perhaps that was the original thinking on the selection strategy.
    But big men can’t run very fast can they.
    Foss and Toney are quick and must give nightmares to opposition coaches when they look at the problems that a Brentford team could pose.
    Thomas Frank is in place together with his coaching staff to solve these problems for us.
    So I suppose the question is : until we get more availability of our injured midfield players, would we prefer to go for broke and score 3 or more goals and still perhaps lose. Or would we be happier to grind out some other result in a negative way – and perhaps lose in a negative way.
    My money would be for the former. Let us use the asset of pace we have to our better advantage. We need to take the game to those teams that press high and try to stifle our ability to play through them.
    Remember Stoke did this to us last season and so did Barnsley.
    Not sure what happened at Wembley last season,or indeed Preston this season, but we need to be confident sometimes in taking a chance or calculated risk.

  3. David Carney October 25, 2020 at 11:19 am #

    Far too much over analysing with far too few facts. Just be content in the certainty that the clear minds at Brentford have their fingers right on the pulse. Despite missing players through injury, through very profitable trading and new players learning how to fit into the Brentford way, I think we have more points this season that at the same stage last season.
    So what is the issue here, other than a below par performance at Stoke?.

  4. Bernard Quackenbush (@BernardQuack) October 25, 2020 at 11:58 am #

    Lets face it, Thomas got it horribly wrong yesterday. We tried to out-Stoke Stoke. At 1pm i was ready to put my 50p on a 2-1 win to the Bees, but at 2pm on seeing the side, i realised my 50p was better spent on a Stoke win. It was as obvious as Birmingham winning on opening day.

    We are at that time of year when you get children knocking on the door dressed as ghosts demanding your Twirls. The team line up was its equivalent. It was utterly terrifying!! Clearly we were not going to play our 4-3-3 but instead returning to the dreaded 3 at the back. Yesterday we just did not have the personnel to deal with this. You had Charlie Goode, playing his first game at this level. Mads Bech who just isnt Championship quality. Vitaly playing his third game in English football and all in one week, additionally in a different role to previously. Ghoddos with his second start in 4 days, again new to English football. Then you had Henrik yet again reverting to the form of 2 years ago. Rico who looked slightly awkward being pushed so high up the pitch. Consequently,the defence was awful yet again. The midfield overrun, despite Josh being one of the only ones coming out with credit, and Ivan completely without service and getting tetchy.

    Everything was so wrong, yet so obvious. There are long term warning signs. We are in danger of over exposing Ghoddos in becoming a Gogia rather than a Benrahma. Vitaly needs to be nurtured more, as Norgaard was early last season. Henrik was all over the place yet again, leaving Fosu is benched yet again. And questions as to why knowing the fixture list as it is, why did we let Zamburek go out on loan?

    (Un)fortunately i did miss most of the second half as i was genuinely helping police with their enquiries over witnessing an incident, although i would have been happy to testify over witnessing the crime of that shocking first half performance.

    • nickbruzon October 25, 2020 at 4:34 pm #

      Thanks BQ. I think the reaction was universal on seeing the team. With the greatest respect to the players selected, it’s not our way. Injuries bite, of course, but I think even Marinus may have suspected this wasn’t the way to approach it.

      Have to respect TF and his efforts but , on this occasion, it was clearly the wrong one. Cripes, even I called it. Which is telling you all you need to know. As noted, I won’t pretend I’d have thought to start with Toney and Forss but what a way to end the game. Sadly too late but a glimpse of things to come, I hope.

      We live and learn. Better to do it now than in game 45. The season is far too early for any stress. Frustration? Yes. Because it was so obvious. But the table is still crazy tight. We’ll be fine.

    • sam October 25, 2020 at 9:58 pm #

      Out stoking Stoke is the perfect term. We even had Sorenson doing long throws as if we’d got Rory Delap.🤣😂😂

  5. Sam October 25, 2020 at 9:55 pm #

    In all honesty I’m not a huge Frank fan. I think he does some things well, others not. Apart from those amazing 8games last year we have never really been consistent at all under him. You can get all bogged down in his win % etc, but we have by far the best Brentford squad this and last yr probably ever, and we should have got promoted last year. The way we crumbled last year was some of the worst I’ve dealt with in all my years as a Brentford fan. Having said all that it’s not fair to say ‘hes shit’ etc like some do online. I wouldn’t say I’m ‘Frank Out’ but tbh I would like to see someone else give it a go. Personally I just can’t see us going up with him, like I could with Rosler or Warburton. We nearly always use 433 with the occasional 523, would be nice to see a bit more creativity in formation sometimes, Forss and Toney are both top quality and we need to play them both together imo.

    Definitely agree it’s terrible a lot of this getting on players as people do. Canos has been poor in all honesty but he’s not been the only one by any means. I think it’s more frustration from people he keeps on getting picked whilst players like Forss are wasted on the bench, but sort of ‘targeting players’ is the wrong way to support.

    Again tho all my opinion, whether we keep Frank for eternity or he’s gone Tommorow I’ll still support the team and club. I think it’s natural to get annoyed and moan a bit but we all have to understand when it goes from normal to unnecessary and personal.

  6. Bill Benn October 26, 2020 at 8:44 am #

    I’ll buck the trend here as when I saw the starting line up I thought it was ok and thought the physical presence of Vitaly and Goode would help address Stokes’ play.Despite 9 attempts over the years with different managers players and formations we have failed to win at Stoke.I think Thomas Frank is a great coach and the best we have had in my 60 years of supporting the club and those wanting a change (laughable) don’t understand the clubs structure.When you like I’ve done ask these fans who usually pop up after a couple of defeats who do they suggest after a few mumbles you will get some unrealistic names.How many managers would be beating a path to our door when they know they have to sell their best players every season and always the top goal scorer.
    I wish we had a massive fan base with passionate fans like most other clubs in the championship and could keep our best players but that isn’t going to happen so we have to stick to our very successful structure.Oh and as far as playing 3 at the back we have done this before one that springs to mind is when we beat Aston Villa on Dean Smiths return Thomas Frank was praised as a tactical genius at the time 😃How times change.

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