Ten out of Ten, so far. In a manner of speaking.

5 Nov

Ten games played all round. The table has now ‘taken shape’ . Brentford sit in tenth after Tuesday’s night’s 1-1 draw with Swansea City. A late goal from Andre Ayew denying us all three points. An even later one in injury time from the same player denying the visitors similar. This, after Ayew’s header home was adjudged to have been from an offside position. Elsewhere, Wayne Rooney’s Derby County are in early trouble whilst pacesetters Reading have now made it two defeats on the spin. With play-off contenders Middlesbrough up next before the two week international break ( what break??) the Bees remain well in contention for another promotion push. What have we learned so far though?

As we’ve seen the last few games the injuries are already biting. Squad rotation over the entire season is going to be absolutely key. Not just for Brentford but any team with realistic ambitions to stay afloat in this division, let alone make a run for the Premier league. Mads Bech Sorensesn joined Pontus Jansson on the missing list at centre back. Christian Norgaard is amongst the other big names currently awol thanks to the non-stop run of games our players are being obliged to undertake. Whilst we have squad depth, let’s not pretend that we are better with those players missing. I can’t imagine they will be the last, either.

Being blunt, we were lucky as on Tuesday night. Swansea City will probably feel hard done by following a game in which who else but Ivan Toney grabbed the opening goal. That’s ten out of ten  for the free scoring front man as he guided home from close range with 36 minutes on the clock. Again eluding his markers for what then seemed the simplest of finishes. Yet in truth it was a goal against the run of play and even having gained the lead, it never felt comfortable. David Raya keeping us alive before and after until, eventually, Ayew restored parity with a quarter hour to go. Even Thomas Frank would admit afterwards that “I don’t think we hit a good level” but the final score is the one that counts and that shows that the visitors failed to stretch their lead at the business end.

Man of the match Raya kept us in this one

Ok, so we were lucky. A lot of players had an off game. No excuses from me. We’ve had long enough to adjust. Ghoddos and Canos in particular below their best as we were looking for some oomph. The plus points being the form of Raya, Rico Henry, Ethan Pinnock and Toney. Not to mention Marcus Forss from the bench.

For me, the revelation of our two front men (Ivan tops the Championship charts with ten goals from ten games) has been the absolute golden bonus of a frustrating season. Frustrating, mainly because we remain locked out of our new home. Watching it all on tv is fine but no substitute for being there. No way to generate proper atmosphere. No way to try and assert any semblance of home ‘advantage. It’s tough for the players, the club, the balance sheet and especially the fans. Much as I love listening to Mark Burridge and Marcus Gayle, what I really want is to be hearing Angry Dad reminding the officials how to do their job. To hear HB cheering as Ivan slams home another goal. To hear Peter Gilham doing it for real on the p.a. system. 

We’re all in the same boat.I have to be thankful that we are quids in from Ollie Watkins’ inevitable departure yet, if anything, the goals are flowing even faster. Not just from Ivan but Marcus, too. We’ve been unlucky (Birmingham City), shot ourselves in the foot (Norwich), ridden our luck (Swansea) and plain awful at times (Stoke and Preston). Yet the wins have also started to come as the team adjust to new surroundings, new colleagues on pitch and a BMW now missing its B and W.

At the back, David Raya is back to his best whilst Rico Henry continues to astound. Ethan Pinnock looking like yet another top draw signing. We saw him grow last season and he has only continued that progress. Get the flanks right and I still think we’ll be ok. Of course, it would be lovely to clone Josh Dasilva in the middle but that’s not how football works. Thomas has the most almighty struggle in having to juggle fit players whilst waiting for the injured to recover.

I’d love to be higher up of course. Who wouldn’t? The table doesn’t lie though and if we are honest with ourselves, tenth place is reflective of our form. Great goals and pleasing wins combined with the challenges of injury and self-inflicted debacle for a team readjusting to new faces and a possible hangover from last season. Yet, more importantly, we are only four points off of second place in the table. Two points outside of the play-off zone.

Besides, look at those others we may have earmarked as promotion contenders when the season began? Wayne Rooney’s Derby County are languishing in the trapdoor zone. Wycombe Wanderers overtook them last night thanks to a last minute own goal at Birmingham City (not from whom you’d think, either) meaning only ‘minus point’ Sheffield Wednesday are below them. Nottingham Forest have had an absolute stinker and are only now starting to find their feet. A mere six points cover the 15 teams from second placed Swansea down. I’d much rather be in that pack than sitting outside of it. The wins and the run will come and, at the least, we know we can rely on goals. Whomever starts up front for Brentford. Get the midfield balance right and we’ll be just fine.

Middlesbrough on Saturday will be absolutely huge. A win for Brentford will see us overtake the fifth placed team as we go into that two week break from league action. Will see us end this part of the season on a high. The injured will at least have that additional chance to regain their fitness in the buffer zone of no further games being missed. Those selected for their country will hopefully come back in one piece. Hopefully.

In short, we’ve been awesome and at times we’ve been awful. The goals are flying in. The injuries are biting. But we remain just outside the promotion pack. The new signings are bedding in and we’ve  overcome the challenge of replacing Ollie Watkins in some style. If we can get the Benrahma piece right then we’ll be just fine. Getting on the players backs won’t help any but that’s part and parcel of football. I just wish we were there to cheer them in person. Maybe in 2021……

Longing for a stadium full of fans rather than empty seats

Nick Bruzon 

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4 Responses to “Ten out of Ten, so far. In a manner of speaking.”

  1. connor campbell November 5, 2020 at 1:03 pm #

    Andre Ayew*

    • nickbruzon November 5, 2020 at 1:54 pm #

      Thanks – my spell check has had shocker there (and my sleepy eyes)

  2. Gav November 5, 2020 at 2:04 pm #

    Spot on Nick, I just wish we would be brave and start Forss with Ivan (Luca?) Toni 😉

  3. Brighton Bee November 5, 2020 at 10:57 pm #

    Spot on and as eloquent as ever Nick. Apart from the actual game, two things stuck in my mind from Tuesday. One, the top level banter between Terry Evans and Allan Cockram during the iFollow coverage – it was brilliant. Secondly, I don’t know if other people think like me regarding the main iFollow camera covering the game – do they need to clean / wipe the camera lens or buy a proper camera? Unlike the action replays or the camera views from behind the goal, the main camera appears to be out of focus or foggy!

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