Another Saturday, another game. For most teams. With Brentford travelling to Rotherham United today and looking to the top of the table, Manchester United, Southampton and Sky have already disrupted things for supporters with the return of Friday night football to our TV screens. More on that later but first, the Rotherham game.
Like Wolves, The Millers are a team that Brentford have gone neck and neck with over the last few seasons. Coming up with the Bees from League One, albeit via something called a play-off victory (I read the words, but I fail to truly grasp the concept) the Millers also begin their third successive season of Championship life.
With former character Steve Evans nothing more than a loud-mouthed memory these days, although I’m sure he’ll be back by Christmas, Rotherham were many people’s pre-season favourites to be amongst the bottom three. Certainly, a start of 1 point from a possible 9 hasn’t been the best but these are early days. The nascent table (that one another gem from the thesaurus like mind of Billy Reeves) sees them struggling but things can easily change at this stage. It’s far, far too early to name either team as clear favourites in a Championship game.
Steve Evans – much missed. For now.
Moreso, if we’re being honest, given Brentford have got away with it a little bit as we’ve climbed up to sixth. Nottingham Forest dominated for huge swathes of the second half on Tuesday and only Dan Bentley proved the difference between 1 point and 3 when Britt Assombalonga was denied, wonderfully, as the game reached a nail biting denouement.
Likewise, Ipswich Town will probably still consider themselves somewhat unlucky not to have taken a first half lead last weekend as Brentford eventually worked their way back into the game and a 2-0 win. But unlucky counts for nothing in football.
At the end of the day (Clive) points on the board and balls in the back of the net are the only stats that people remember. Ball possession and chances created count for nothing when reviewing the final table. And for Brentford, that means back to back wins accompanied by a pair of clean sheets.
As pop music’s Meatloaf once noted, two out of three ain’t bad.
For Brentford, Scott Hogan returns to the ground where he endured that potentially career ending injury back in September 2014. 18 months later and how his world has changed. Banging in goals for fun, he is like the stereotypical ‘new signing’. Likewise, the availability of Lase Vibe (now back from Olympic duty with Denmark) presents an interesting new dynamic for Dean Smith to consider.
Will the Dane start? And where? Surely it will be a case of keeping faith with the same side that have done so well this week? Or will 3 games in 8 days be too much? It’s a nice problem to have, put it that way.
Last season, the Rotherham fixture saw a 2-1 win for the homeside in each game. At Griffin Park, Alan Judge grabbed a brace for the Bees – that wonderful looping volley over the head of Miller’s keeper Lee Camp opening proceedings within a minute before his second half bullet header secured all three points.
View from the Braemar : Alan Judge did it all against Rotherham last season
Up at the New York stadium, things weren’t so plain sailing. And that was just for Mark Burridge and Ciaran Brett in the Bees player commentary team.
Their proximity to a somewhat foul mouthed supporter turning the airwaves blue for most of the first half. “You can’t, you can’t” (at least, I think that’s what it was) he yelled incessantly . Presumably, a reference to Mark Chapman being rested mid-season from punditry duties. Well Mr.Sweary I think you’ll find we can, as Ciaran did a fine job filling in for Chappers along with a cameo from a hot dog wielding Sean Ridley.
As for the on pitch action – move along, nothing to see here. It was so demoralising a performance that both Harlee Dean and Sergi Canos would later use Twitter to apologise to all those fans who had travelled.
I can’t call it today. The heart says it will be a third successive win. The head says we’ll be quoting the singer known as Marvin Lee Aday to his friends and, instead, a hard fought draw will be the order of the day.
All we can do is hope that we go better than last time out and that there is at least one Chuckle brother present. Imagine the meeting of minds that would would be Paul and/or Barry with Leo Sayer.
The new look Chuckle Brothers line up was very short lived
Elsewhere, Manchester United presented fans with a problem last night. And not just with an uncharacteristic start to a season as they made it two wins from two against Southampton. More, it was the logistical issues presented by Premier League football filling in for the Championship on a Friday.
For one thing, it meant updating my Fantasy Football Team at work (during my lunch hour, boss). This just isn’t right. Seeing who is going to score me nil points and moving those subsequent hat-trick scorers onto the bench before pressing ‘choose team’ should be a Saturday morning treat. One savoured over a cup of tea and a toasted peanut butter bagel whilst the wife and kids are still asleep.
Not something rushed though in two minutes when the management aren’t looking. And that’s for those of us, used to an 11.30 deadline on a Saturday, who even remembered to go early. How many people have woken up today, looked at the league and exclaimed, “You can’t” !?
Well, I’m afraid the Premier League can. And they have
The other problem was the presence of Manchester United supporter Rachel Riley on the panel of the new Top Gear-lite style show. Friday nights should not be spent watching the maths genius talking about football. They should be spent watching the maths genius doing maths on Countdown (‘8 out of 10 cats’ version). Double Rachel Riley. Which way to go?
In the end it was a case of neither for very long and, instead, opting for the Olympics. The Manchester United game proving a somewhat turgid affair and the prospect of more gold medals was ultimately the more appealing one by the end of the first half . Via a brief sojourn with Countdown. For the maths of course. 305! 6 x 50 , add the 5. Yes!
Sure enough, the Great Britain women’s team delivered in the hockey to send us all to bed happy. Here’s hoping local boy Mo Farah can go again tonight.
Until then, good luck to all those travelling to Rotherham. I’m not even close to be able to make hat and so, instead, it’s one for Mark, Bees player and just crossing my fingers that we have a clean game.
On and off the pitch.