Caution. Positivity may offend.

13 Feb

Blip averted after that run of five successive top flight defeats. One point rather than the three it might have been but a 0-0 between Brentford and Crystal Palace saw us building on the foundations (performance wise) laid at Manchester City during the week. With the trip to Arsenal next up, its not going to get any easier for the Bees. Likewise, for our opponents who will continue to find the Bees a tough nut to crack. The return of David Raya cannot be quantified. Kris Ajer and Ethan Pinnock consistently strong. Josh Dasilva making his first Premier League start at Lionel Road in some style and, of course, Christian Eriksen waiting in the wings. His introduction to supporters before kick-off setting the mood and creating expectation levels which one can only salivate at the prospect of being reached. All that’s to come though. For now, the game just played.

The moment

Brentford were solid at the back. The three centre backs clearing everything that came their way. Sergi Canos replacing Mads Roerslev in the right wing back position can only play where he is asked – albeit nobody would deny he’s definitely better when on the front foot. He always plays with his heart on his sleeve and started this one at 100mph. Waving his team mates on and exhorting the crowd upwards. As did Bryan. As did Rico. As did Matthias Jensen. Despite the absence of Ivan Toney once more, it was the Bees taking the game to Crystal Palace. It was referee Simon Hooper redefining the penalty kick laws and needing a new dictionary to look up the definition of the word: push.

Yet for all the positivity it was another game where chances were at a premium. Where optimism failed to create those clear cut opportunities. Where the will to win and the desire from the fans wasn’t enough to drag the ball into the net. And?

We could have won. Maybe should have won. Nobody has a divine right to be any good. To turn up and win. To get the points by simple virtue of expectation. This is the toughest league in the world. One we are competing in. Competing. One we are spending our first season in with a squad made up of players whose experience has been forged in the Championship. Or Below. A bench supplemented by players from the B-team. That’s just how we do things. Always has been.

All the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the transfer window won’t change anything. Our targets were flagged and they didn’t include defensive cover. Get over it. Getting on the backs of those asked to fill in won’t help any. This team has enough about it for people to be getting upset about what some may consider to be not having a recognised right back. I’m not an idiot. I’d love another option there. I’d love another option up top. I’d love Ivan to be playing further forward. To see chances being created for him and snaffled as we did last season but we’ve set our stall out and, mostly, held our own. Laid foundations for the rest of this campaign and what may come beyond.

The return of David Raya is key. As is the continued rehabilitation of Josh Dasilva. I thought he was brilliant yesterday as another half-hour were tucked under his belt. With Mathias Jensen doing all the good stuff and Christian Eriksen still to come, it is the midfield where we have options. The midfield where battle will be done and games can be won. Good luck Thomas in fitting Vitaly, Josh, Mathias and the two Christians in to his team once all are fully fit and available.

A quite wonderful challenge to contemplate and one which far outweighs the ‘problem’ at right wing back.

I thought David Raya brought so much solidity when called upon. So much calm. The renewed acquaintance of the defence with their goalkeeper a beautiful thing to see unfolding once more. The goalkeeper’s distribution something we’ve been crying out for whilst his reaction speed in the dying seconds arguably stopped Crystal Palace taking all three points.

Ok – so the league title is now only a mathematical possibility. We’ve 13 games left. That’s 39 points left to play for. The exact same gap between us and Manchester City with both teams having played 25 games. Whilst it may never have been a realistic option, not long term, we’ve already topped the table once this season and who’s to say it won’t happen again? The season opening defeat of Arsenal providing a moment of optimism now matched by the arrival of Christian Eriksen.

The table doesn’t lie

Eriksen’s walk out on to the pitch before kick-off triggering a standing ovation from all sides of the ground. How quickly he returns, and how well, the questions on everyone’s lips. One thing’s for sure, the prospect of seeing him play again is a tantalising one. A prospect that will be fulfilled in Brentford colours. There’s a behind closed doors friendly on Monday and then the next league game is Saturday afternoon at Arsenal. He’ll feature in the former. Whether the later is a bridge too far at present remains to be seen but there’ll be even more intrigue when Thomas talks to the press on Thursday.

What are the expectations from this point in? So much supporter talk before the season began centred around 17th being the target. Personally, I thought tenth and with the gap to the top half of the table currently at five points, its still a feasible option. I do not and will not subscribe to any of this ‘sleep walking to relegation’ talk, that’s for sure. If positivity offends then that’s your issue, not mine.

With the exception of Burnley, Brighton, Southampton (all away) and Norwich (home) I think we’ve more than held our own in the league this season. Four dreadful performances out of twenty-five so far. That’s a brilliant achievement and should be celebrated. Sure, the results may not always have gone our way but look at who we are up against. Look at their budgets. Their experience.

I’d still be ecstatic to finish 17th but , genuinely, I think we’re better than that. That’s just an opinion of course and the sequence of games after Arsenal is one that sees us face off against sides currently in the bottom four – Newcastle United, Norwich City and Burnley. Anything but gimmes but also an opportunity to silence those uttering the ‘R’ word.

I can’t wait for any of it. All of it. Bring them on and see you there. Until then, the latest player performance review can be found here.

Next up, our first trip to Arsenal since the League Cup

Nick Bruzon    

6 Responses to “Caution. Positivity may offend.”

  1. David Carney February 14, 2022 at 5:59 am #

    The piece you have written, above, is one of the best you have written for a long, long time. Well done, I enjoyed reading it and agree with you whole heartedly

  2. Tim February 14, 2022 at 7:35 am #

    I don’t know how you can give Jensen MoM!
    And not have Ajer in the top 5.
    I’m going to have to stand /sit where you view the game.
    Jensen along with Canos are lightweight and bring nothing to the table. They aren’t Premiership players …. ok Championship players but not Premiership. This is roll up your sleeves and fight time …. we ARE in a relegation scrap and anyone who doesn’t think so is deluded. We never addressed our full back issue and let our only other striker go out on loan! If I was Forss I wouldn’t want to come back to Brentford. Jensen and Canos are clearly Thomas’s favourite teachers pets but we have stronger better players who’ll scrap more than the pair of them on the bench.
    We’ve played the most games than anyone (bar Man C) and if we unfortunately are 4th from bottom in a couple of weeks I wonder what all those over optimistic “pundits” will be saying?
    Because if he keeps starting with Canos and Jensen the way they’ve been performing that’s a very real possibility. I’d be pissed off if I were Ghoddos, Roeslev, Thompson, Forss, Baptiste and others. Time to take your rose tinted glasses off ….. Canos is appaling hence that’s the side to attack Brentford and Jensen not much better. Time to drop them both and let them gave a long hard look in the mirror at themselves. And Thomas we’re not preparing a midfield for the Danish national teams world cup squad!

    • nickbruzon February 15, 2022 at 6:40 am #

      Its an opinion. And I give it to him because he had a fantastic game, in my opinion. Ajer was one of many top, top performers on the day where Brentford showed a much stronger defensive shape. You can’t pick them all.

      As for Serfgi, he can only play where picked. Don;t blame him because there isn;t a better option at RWB. Don;t blame him because Mads went awol against Manchester City and cost us the opening goal.
      Who would YOU pick there? Who would you have bought (and how)?
      Theyre’ clearly playing percentages. There’ll be a targetted number of games and wins in mind. Anything else is just a bonus. With the Rico Henry contract situation still up in the air, you can understand the reticence about splashing out on further defensive cover until that is resolved.
      Its our model. Its Brentford, innit. Some fans may not like it but its how we operate

  3. Tim February 14, 2022 at 7:38 am #

    And bear in mind that was a rubbish Crystal Palace team that are above us with game in hand.

    • nickbruzon February 15, 2022 at 6:36 am #

      The only table that counts is the one after game 38. I thought we’d all learned that after last season’s meltdown 🙂

  4. Brighton Bee February 14, 2022 at 7:58 am #

    A very insightful piece of writing this week Nick. It was disappointing not to win on Saturday against a poor Palace team but at least the players stopped the bad run. We can only go upwards from here. I am trying to be positive as I definitely don’t want to fall back into the cauldron of the Championship. However, we need to start taking the game to teams again as we did at the start of the season. I don’t know if it’s just me but we seem to have changed into a more defensive minded team, constantly passing back, playing across the back with a definite lack of defence splitting passes feeding the strikers. Maybe the return of a fully fit Josh and the appearance of Ericsson will make the difference – I certainly hope so.

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