He’s only got four fingers but he still knows what to do with his head.

27 Feb

When does a blip become a trend? When does a bad run of results become more of a worry? The first of three games against teams below Brentford saw a 2-0 win for Newcastle United at Lionel Road. It was as abject a showing as we’ve seen all season (certainly in my bottom five ‘performances’ ) with the only two positives being the performance of David Raya and the entrance of Christian Eriksen into the field of play. If you want some further straw clutching at good news, then the ongoing holes in the Leeds United defence and use of VAR at Everton were further bonuses on an afternoon of slim pickings. It’s not time to enter panic mode but it IS time to now start getting points on the board. Failure to do so against Norwich City next week or Burnley in a fortnight and things could look very different.

What a moment

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe pretty much nailed it at full time. “If you can’t win, don’t lose”. Certainly that was our approach going in to that recent run of games against the clubs chasing Europe, for all our defensive heavy tactics ended up fruitless. This was different. This was the chance to turn the screw and aim for three points at home. To ride the wave of optimism engendered by the return of Ivan Toney to the squad. By Josh Dasilva starting once more. By the promise that we would see Christian Eriksen make a debut. The chance for Brentford to take a home game by the scruff of the neck. Instead, it was an opportunity that saw the Bees fall flat on their collective faces. 

Referee Mike Dean didn’t help matters, that’s for sure. The red card shown to Josh Dasilva after just 11 minutes about the only thing he got right all afternoon and even that was a decision that had originally been given as a free kick to Brentford. Then VAR stepped in and, upon review, there can be few of us not wincing at a challenge which, whilst I am 100% sure was made with no ill intent, did not look pretty on the replay. The Bees down to ten men for the majority of the game and any early impetus gone in a flash.

Let’s not blame Mike Dean for our own failings, though. He didn’t help matters but Newcastle United wanted this 100 times more than we did. Their 26 shots (to our 6) and 63% possession (for an away team !!!) matched by their two first half goals. Indeed, were it not for David Raya who was absolutely dominant in goal for Brentford things could have ended up a heck of a lot worse. Joelinton magnificent with his head for the eventual opener. An absolute blinder with Ajer made to look invisible. Joe Willock finishing a rapier like counter attack just before half time after Jensen had delivered a Brentford corner so deep it needed its own scuba gear.

The players trooped off with ‘All Apologies’ playing out over the tannoy at half-time. Irony alive and well at Lionel Road where it was anything but a state of Nirvana. 

It was a case of All Apologies to the Brentford fans at half time

On the plus side, if there can be one, it perhaps accelerated the entrance of Christian Eriksen. What a moment. What a reception. Universal applause and good will. Not just in the stadium but , no doubt, further afield. The moment we’d been building to finally where. A standing ovation and the player straight in to the action in place of Jensen. Within a minute he might had opened Newcastle up. His game then demonstrating the passing and movement we’re all so familiar with and which could prove invaluable in the coming weeks. 

Sadly, it wasn’t quite enough but ten men are always going to struggle against opposition that stretched us further than the elastic on a pair of granddad’s pants. That were on their game and had their fans singing throughout. One song about Joelinton, to the tune of ‘She’s Electric’ on repeat after he’d bagged the opener. “He’s only got four fingers” ringing around Lionel Road again and again and again. 

Albeit subsequent post match discussion suggesting the line might, actually, have been a reference to his price tag. That’s what £40million gets you, I suppose.  

As for Brentford, hindsight is wonderful thing. The popular opinion being that Eriksen should have started from the off. Should have take the game to Newcastle and let them play catch up. Personally speaking, I’d have made the same call. Bring him on. We have an abundance of midfield options. Norgaard, Janelt and Dasilva in the middle with Roerslev at right wing back. Instead, we got the three of them plus Mathias Jensen (who should have been dropped after his cameo at Arsenal), no Roerslev or Canos and Ivan Toney on the bench. It survived just 11 minutes.  

I guess if Ivan is not 90 minute fit the thinking was to have him, Josh and Christian Eriksen on together. Besides, as one terrace wag put it in the pub after the game, having played for Spurs Eriksen is used to coming on at 2-0 down. It didn’t work though. Not this time. Personally, I’d have started Ivan and brought him off if needed. Then use impact player Wissa up top with Bryan.

Being an armchair manager is easy. There’s no consequence to your decisions. No comeback or tirades of abuse for getting it wrong. None of us know what goes on behind the scenes. How fit players are. Why some start ahead of others. It’s not the team I’d have picked but it was still a team that should have been good enough to perform a hell of a lot better than they did. The ten men didn’t help, of course, but it just felt as though we barely got even half way close to sniffing the chance of having a look in.

It’s done. It’s dusted. It’s put to bed. The player review and ‘deeper dive’ is here. A bad day over. A bad day made even worse by then having to watch Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. In itself, always an awful experience and one made even worse by their proving how ‘live’ the show was by harping back to the result. There it was again. And again.

Instead, it’s time to focus on Norwich City. They looked desperate against Southampton on Friday night. Another team spending huge swathes of time on the backfoot and inviting pressure on themselves. Bringing the inevitable goals against with even Dean Smith replacing his usual “We deserved to win” with, “The better team won on the night, we can’t argue with that.” . Like Eddie Howe, a manager reading the game correctly, even if the result didn’t go as planned. 

It will be crucial how Thomas and his team react to this performance when we go to Carrow Road next week. Otherwise, those last two games of the campaign (Everton away and Leeds United at home) might end up proving very significant. All that’s to come, of course. For now we need to focus on Norwich City and then Burnley. 

Nobody said life at this level would be easy but I’m still loving it. Bring them on and see you there.

So much optimism from the young Bees before kick-off

Nick Bruzon

20 Responses to “He’s only got four fingers but he still knows what to do with his head.”

  1. Tim February 27, 2022 at 11:01 am #

    The panic button should have been pressed in the January window ….when there was a chance to change things. If you don’t suggest pressing it now with 11 games left when would you press it … less than 10 games to go? 9?8?7?
    Teams don’t perform well when they are panicking/desparate …. at the moment we can’t buy a win and look less likely to score.
    If we survive this season I’d suggest to Thomas never to start Canos or Jensen for the next 11 games (unless a horrible build up of injuries forces him to do so) …and if he does start Canos never as a full back (whether Sergi can remember how to play as winger remains to be seen!). Sadly just can’t see where the goals will come from (unless we’re talking about Forss but that doesn’t help Brentford just rubs more salt into the wound). The no dickhead policy off putting player punishment before club survival is a brave/stupid call (delete as you see fit) referencing Fosu. We are in a relegation scrap and have been for the last 6 or so games at least …. we are one of the 12 to 14 sides that make up the numbers and hopefully more towards the top of that group rather than the lower end come the end of the season.
    There are 11 games to go where we need to fight and hopefully win ugly … that means a starting 11 that doesn’t include Sergi or Mathias unfortunately but that’s the reality of the situation. I think Norwich have had it and the next two will be out of us, Leeds, Watford and Everton (though I think they’ll be alright) to go down. I think Burnley and Newcastle will survive. But it is a scrap make no mistake and tippy tappy football played out from out the back won’t cut it.
    Lets hope we survive and learn that you can’t go into the Premier league with a full back down and rely on just one striker as a small, making up the numbers team.

    • Maybee February 27, 2022 at 11:16 am #

      Not sure that I agree about sergi .yes he is not a full back .but he is the best right wing back in a squad that does not have a right wing back and he does know how to scrap and play for the shirt.The owners of the club decided to gamble in January when vanderson let us down and with what we have in the squad it’s a choice between sergi and mads ,in a relagation battle. For me its a simple choice as it’s too late to mess with tactics. We also have too hope that someone finds some goalscoring form as without Ivan we have not looked even likely to score.Looking like a last game shoot out with Leeds at this point but many twists and turns still in this season

      • Tim February 27, 2022 at 7:28 pm #


      • Tim February 27, 2022 at 8:16 pm #

        Unfortunately if Sergi loses the ball (which again is unfortunately quite often) he’s one of those players that kicks out or shirt pulls. Not a good tactic if you’re playing wing back. He’ll probably tell you himself he doesn’t t do combative headers.
        And you’re right he’s the best right wing back in a squad that doesn’t have a right wing back …. so there’s your answer, who are you comparing him against?
        A bit like not having a goalkeeper and putting an outfield player in goal and saying he’s the best goalkeeper in a squad that doesn’t have a goalkeeper.
        Though in this instance we do have a right back …. Roeslev …. who had a good game against Man City. And for my money Sergi has forgotten how to play as a winger …. but wasn’t he a left winger? So how does someone play right back and be a left winger?
        I have these conversations with the group I stand with and some (one actually) say are you anti Canos and Jensen and I say no I’m sticking up players on the bench who can do a better job but don’t get a look in.
        And I reiterate if you start the next eleven games with Sergi as right wing back and Mathias in midfield, for all the passion and badge kissing and enthusiasm they can muster we will get relegated. Don’t confuse passion and running around like headless chickens for being able to scrap. Both Canos and Jensen aren’t scrappers, they’re both quite lightweight and give away a lot of fouls. Scrappers are people like Norgaard, Janelt, Jeanvier, Rico, Baptiste and like what Dalsgaard is/was. Even Roeslev ….. dare I say Dom Thompson who isn’t at our disposal this season ….. and if Toney picks up another “injury” we have no recognised centre forwards. DoF/club haven’t done their homework on this issue.
        If we go down with fight and passion then so be it …. we’re not good enough this time for another season in the Premiership …. but if we go down because of wrong tactics, playing people out of position, not concentrating resolving attacking and right back issues in transfer windows, and not just Januarys (everyone knew about the Dalsgaard situation even before the Wembley final), then thats carelessness/naivety. I hope I get a slagging if we stay up without Thomas changing anything but I tell you it’ll be a small miracle and/or other teams imploding worse than us if we do.

      • Tim February 27, 2022 at 8:25 pm #

        Also, and sorry for waffling and going a little bit off piste, but when we played Palace at home and their keeper was lame did we test him? I think not.
        Very difficult to get excited about that game ….. so we lose 7 games on the trot but should be happy we drew without conceding a goal against a poor Palace performance that day. That’s show signs of desperation and will not get us away from a relegation battle …. if I’m right in thinking we would have gone above Palace if we’d won?
        It’s now fight-time to save the clubs Premiership survival. The coffee has finally been smelt! 😉😊
        As always Up the Bees.

  2. 43twintown86 February 27, 2022 at 11:09 am #


  3. Bernard Quackenbush (@BernardQuack) February 27, 2022 at 11:17 am #

    I have been in the ‘lets not panic’ brigade, but now after seeing yesterday, i fear the worse.

    On the long drive home yesterday, i had been trying to think of when the last performance of real quality was, and im wondering if it was actually before Raya got injured. Mike Dean aside, we were dire. It feels like it was yet another match where we didnt even look like we could score a goal. There has been too many of those recently.

    True. Josh’s sending off was the clear turning point, if you can have a turning point after 11 minutes. From then on we were under assault. Newcastle getting shot in after shot with ease. Raya, outstanding. Enjoy him now, because he wont be here in August.

    But what were the tactics?

    Were we playing a back 4? If so, someone needed to tell Ajer. We were exposed time and time again down our right flank. The Ajer at RB experiment, which so many were calling for, was never going to work. Again all it does is paper over the failings of the recruitment team of not replacing Dalsgaard. I still cannot fathom why we failed to sign a half decent RB from absolutely anywhere. There are plenty in the Championship who do a half decent job and have the experience and know how to have filled that gap. But Ajer is our best CB, & to be honest we was still playing CB yesterday.

    But that wasnt all. Our sheer inability to get the ball into dangerous places shows how far behind we are to most Premier teams. The introduction of Eriksen clearly showed that we now have a player who could provide that killer pass, but we need a fully functioning Ivan & Bryan to be able to cash in. Sorry, Wissa is Championship quality at best. He is not the answer.

    We cannot lose either of the next 2 games in order for us to have a hope of staying up, otherwise all i can see is a depressing next couple of months.

    • Max February 27, 2022 at 4:55 pm #

      Absolutely agree with this .Our transfer policy seems to be that we only sign young players that we can sell on for a profit and it has been brilliant for us over the past few years ,however it may need a tweak in the prem as 1)what are the realistic chances of finding 11 of the next superstars to have in the team (2) what are the chances on making a decent profit on players that are being quoted at 20 million quid having scored 6 goals in the championship. The team needs a right full back (How many goals have come down that side this season) and their are plenty of them about in the championship and we also need a striker that looks like scoring to play up with Ivan. All the reports that I read on wissa from his former club were that he is a world beater one week and completely missing the next week .These problems need sorting if we stay up or go down .

      • Rob February 27, 2022 at 9:01 pm #

        I think the tweak would be to have loaned in a couple of players. A RwB (having not been able to secure one permanently) and a striker…and probably not loaning out our LB cover and our only other striker would have been sensible Prior to Eriksen signing I also felt we were weak in the creative part of our game with JDS having been out long term and Jensen being hit and miss. Appreciate it’s easier said than done, but I look at what Gallagher is doing at Palace and Broja at Southampton and those guys have really contributed. And if they keep those teams up then the outlay will be recouped by the additional £70 odd million for staying up another season. If we did go down then those guys can go back to their parent club and lower our wage bill too.

    • Rob February 27, 2022 at 8:47 pm #

      Last time we played well was probably Leicester. We created chances scored a goal but were undone by 1 bit of quality and one moment of naivety at the back where taking one for the team would have saved Madison rubbing our faces in it. Whilst we’ve won a couple of times since then we’ve been outplayed by everyone.As Nick has mentioned on here, we look like we are trying to protect a point instead of being brave on the ball and taking the game to the opposition. We haven’t been playing ‘the Brentford way’ like we did first 10 games of the season. What grates is we have demonstrated we are better than we are currently showing. All the pundits who said Brentford weren’t good enough are feeling vindicated and smug, particularly Micah Laughing Boy Richards who offers about as much insight into football strategy as Mrs Brown would. But this isn’t us. Thats not what we’ve become synonymous with. This is what I’m finding hard to take at the moment, that style and technical quality seems to have evaporated into thin air
      4 points from the next 2 games is a must, and creating double figures of chances in each game otherwise my faith is, and will, be sorely tested coming into the business end of the season. If we do go down…at least give it a go.

  4. 43twintown86 February 27, 2022 at 11:46 am #

    As usual Nick, an entertaining and informative post.
    I’m not in any position to comment on the match ’cause I’ve been laid low by a major operation and I don’t think I can endure any further pain, ie watching either a shortened or a full length replay of the match on the tele!
    What I will say though is how come a side that was able to out perform nearly all of the opposition before December now looks like it would struggle to stay in the Championship?
    I’ve got some other questions too.
    (1) Have all the players suddenly forgotten how to play decent football?
    (2) Have they all lost confidence in both their individual ability and/or of those around them?
    (3) Have the new signings done any good?
    (4) Do we have a coaching team that has lost its way?
    Whatever the answers to these and other questions you can conjure up, they have got to be addressed – and now.
    We can’t rely on Christian as being some magnificent magician who is going to waive his magic boots and transform the team overnight. Even if he could and keep us from falling through the trapdoor, we’ve got to be realistic and accept that he will be moving on to bigger and better things for next season and we can’t go through the same pain again.

  5. Ex Brighton Bee February 27, 2022 at 11:47 am #

    Couldn’t agree more Tim. Our tactics are naive and almost non existent at times. Plus, the sight of that Scottish midget from Bournemouth taking the mick down the open spaces of our right hand side was almost too much to bear. This was the direct result of Phil Giles and the Owner not signing a replacement for Dalsgaard and TFs inability to re organise his team after the sending off..

    Disappointingly, once again yesterday we also had the sight of our opponents scoring a breakaway goal from our corner – absolutely naive and beyond belief at this level.

    In my opinion, if we are to avoid relegation, there must be a radical change in tactics, formation and thinking for the rest of the season. Parking the bus and hoping for a breakaway goal as we have been doing is not going to work as the last few games have demonstrated even against average teams like Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Southampton, let alone the big hitters.

    TF and BR have a big job on their hands – I just really hope they are up to it.


  6. Rod Davidson February 27, 2022 at 11:51 am #

    Hi Nick,
    Your analysis is spot on, but this has been coming for weeks.
    We trumpeted the fact – prior to the game – that everyone was now fit and that we had a full squad to choose from.
    So how come despite that – we put in such a ‘headless chickens’ display ?
    So what’s the truth here?
    David Rayer who kept us in the game was a star with at least three excellent saves, but after that we are clutching at straws to find other genuine positives. Christian Erikson is a plus but who potentially, has he got to work with?
    He would have a defence behind him who can mostly hold their own and perform well, but they are being ‘ground down’ by our continual inability to be able to relieve the pressure they are constantly put under.
    He would have a strike force that is totally impotent at the moment.
    He would have on (paper) a couple of midfield colleagues who could shine more consistently and not be so hit and miss, so the potential for midfield could be exciting.
    It is elsewhere that I have my concerns.
    Game management that places Jensen marking Dan Burn at corners or the confusion of who takes corners. Be it Jensen or Mbueno, when corners are being overhit or not clearing the first man on a pretty regular basis.
    Mbueno unable to be effective as a striker ? Is it just me or or does he seem to get knocked off of the ball too easily. Has he got a real change of pace that can take him past a defender, and can he be cool enough in pressure or goal scoring situations. I don’t think so!
    So what is his best position? The problem is it’s a bit late in the season to be asking these sort of questions.
    And Ivan Toney. Are we being fair to him ? He has the potential to be the finisher for any creative opportunity that comes his way. But nothing is coming his way – even before his recent absence from the team his open play chances were at a premium ( penalties excluded)
    Supporters love this team and are grateful for the special Premiership moments they have given us.
    Don’t let that honeymoon be over !

  7. Ex Brighton Bee February 27, 2022 at 12:32 pm #

    Apologies Nick but I just wanted to use your pages to pay tribute to Clive Lewry, an ardant and die hard Bees fan who sadly passed away after suffering a stroke at the Ason Villa game. Clive was a real gent and whenever I met him around the Braemar Road Paddock we always had a chat about all things Brentford and particularly the old days of c.40 years ago when we used to travel to third and fourth division away games on the “Tony Ewers” organised coaches, so many happy memories.
    RIP Clive

    • nickbruzon February 27, 2022 at 12:58 pm #

      That you EBB. And well, well said. Sad times

  8. Garry Shrimpton February 27, 2022 at 1:41 pm #

    That is exactly the same manoeuvre that got Josh sent off versus Spurs in the League Cup semi last season.

    Why is he attempting a drag back on the edge of his own box?

    We’re in big big trouble if we don’t win the next two.

    • Rob February 27, 2022 at 9:06 pm #

      Thought exactly the same…on Hojbjerg. he also lunges with his leg in and is off balance trying to shield too much area in front of the opposition player. Let’s hope it doesn’t dent his confidence as it seemed to last time,

  9. Tim February 27, 2022 at 8:28 pm #


  10. Mark February 27, 2022 at 10:41 pm #

    And not a keyboard warriors jibe in sight !!

    Us fans are sick to the teeth of the inept tactics game after game, loss after loss and we haven’t seemed to learned a thing, long ball after long ball and repeat, how on earth can Frank not see this is beyond me, very sad to see after all the hard graft of getting into the Premiership just to see it slipping away when it has always been in our hands.

    Bielsa has been sacked but we reward Frank with a new contract, sad to say he’s run his course just like Bielsa, he can’t take Brentford forward any further, just so sad how our current tactics and play has now developed.

    By the way, Ex Brighton Bee, don’t knock Ryan Fraser, he was just to good for us, he had Ajer in his pocket from the kick off, sad to see I know but he was just to good.

  11. james February 28, 2022 at 3:22 pm #

    The present formation of 352 does not work 343 did work. Is our Kev still part of the coaching team ?
    I saw us relegated in 1947 when when I was 13, I hope I am not going to see it again.
    8 games one point why is Frank still there !?
    Oh ! for a Peter McKennon
    Ancient Supporter

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