Perhaps we can call it a business meeting.

10 Dec

Friday night under the lights and Brentford host Watford. The 2-2 draw at Leeds United feels a lifetime ago already as the December fixture list continues to crank up. We’ve got Manchester United at home on Tuesday, the small matter of the trip to Southampton next weekend and then the league cup quarter-final a few days after that. Whilst by no means season defining, come out of this run with a few wins under the belt and there’ll a lot of smiles as we head towards the New Year. The other news of the day being Liverpool tickets are now on sale, but we’ll get there shortly. First up, Watford.

Charlie enjoys the point on his Instantgram

Cripes. The result from Elland Road was niggling on Sunday evening. That was then. This is now. Personally, I still feel it was a good point for Brentford in a ferocious atmosphere (Spurs could learn a thing or two – all the glitz and glamour counts for nothing if you can’t generate noise) even if it was deeply gut-wrenching to concede so late an equaliser. Lessons learned and all that. As Thomas Frank noted in the press conference for the Watford game, “When it is so close it is difficult to accept that you just lost two points, but we have this rule that you have 24 hours to celebrate and 24 hours to be disappointed. I constantly remind the players, staff, and myself about it. We came in Monday, and it was difficult because we were still in this 24 hour bracket. We were off yesterday and today I didn’t see any sign of any disappointment. It was just a group of players willing to train hard and concentrate”.

Philosophical to the last. As eloquent as ever. But he’s right. We can’t dwell on the negative or rest on our laurels when things go right. Use the moment, in either direction, and then move on. Very much a case of, if not so much going again, as taking each game as it comes. And if anyone has a spare crowbar, we‘ll continue to mangle our metaphors in tomorrow’s match update.

It’s all about looking forward to Watford (and more wonderful cover art on the programme)

For Brentford, there are two obvious casualties. Ivan Toney remains self-isolating as a result of that Covid test prior to the Leeds game. I’m not clear on whether that will still be the case for the visit of Manchester United but a rough count on my fat fingers thinks we ‘may’ be in the clear. hHis own health and fitness aside, of course. 

Ivan has been magnificent this season. The current leader in our game by game review to see who the top Brentford performers are (and you can find the latest look at our ‘top five’ here). Pulling in as big a defensive shift as that up top, he’s every manager’s dream. You can’t put a price on those additional elements to his game outside of the assists and goals. He really is the consummate all-round player and the stereotypical ‘first name on the team sheet’. As for who will step up should we somehow be awarded a penalty by tonight’s referee, Michael Oliver, then good luck calling that. 

One thing’s for sure, it won’t be Sergi Canos. He also misses out after stepping in for Ivan on Sunday. A fifth yellow card of the season means a one-game ban is now in force. It’s a crying shame for Sergi, and Brentford, given he had one of his best games of the season. Pushed up top from wing back (where Mads Roerslev stepped in admirably) he adapted quickly and after a slight positional shift, obliterated our opponents in that second half. The team up with Shandon Baptiste in particular bringing ongoing success as we took the game to our opponents and watched them fall apart. Again.

Sergi misses out

Instead, one can only assume Marcus Forss will step in and step up alongside Bryan. Thomas as already confirmed he was ‘that’ close to starting against Leeds and with Wissa continuing to be nursed back in to the team, it will surely be a place on (and appearance from) the bench for our talismanic late, late goalscorer. Let him come on and do to Watford what he did to Liverpool and West Ham.

All being well we can afford to rotate the team and the subs though choice rather than necessity. With the Manchester United and Southampton games following in close succession, having everyone physically fit will be as big a challenge as anything else. The Brentford casualty list already one which is stretching our troops although kudos to Charlie Goode for stepping up so well in place of Kris Ajer. Likewise, the return of Shandon Baptiste couldn’t have come at a better time.

The heart says it’ll be a win for Brentford. The head says I’ve maximum respect for Claudio Ranieiri. He has had the luxury of a relatively stable team in recent weeks, albeit one that has lost 5 out of their last 6 league games.The one outlier from there being the absolute ticking administered to Manchester United late last month. That 4-1 thrashing being the last straw for the Old Trafford board and, regrettably, jus ta few weeks too soon for us. Oh, to have faced a side in a trough of despair and supporter unrest rather than one that has a chance to reset. Still, that’s all to come. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much. First and foremost has to be Watford. Bring it on and see you there.

The one other piece of immediate news being Liverpool away tickets are now on sale. That game takes place Jan 15th and expect another sell out crowd ( home and away) for the trip to Anfield. One can only assume these will fly off the shelves as we work through the TAP barriers. We picked up ours yesterday. With ‘Plan B’ now in operation (a first if ever I heard one in TW8), let’s hope the’C’ word doesn’t get in the way of our party on Merseyside.

Hey, perhaps we can call it a business meeting. There’s certainly enough cheese, and the odd whine, on these pages.

The games come thick and fast

Nick Bruzon 

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