Tag Archives: mathematical

There’s more than one anniversary to commemorate. Could the same thing happen again?

23 Feb

With Brentford due to entertain Rotherham United this Saturday, the game sees a much heralded anniversary being marked – fifty years since the Loftus Road mob failed in their attempt to cast the Bees out of Griffin Park and take over the club. Whilst the club are understandably, marking this date with all the correct protocol and build up, it has overshadowed another anniversary. Namely, Friday 24 February being two years to the day that the Bees enjoyed 74% possession and an incredible 43 shots in a 4-0 Championship defeat of Blackpool.

Of course, the club have numerous articles on the doomed QPR affair. You can see the latest on ‘official’ at present (well worth a look) whilst the Rotherham game sees the event being given formal recognition.

Yet the Blackpool game also deserves a look back. If only for the manner in which Brentford played so soon after the news that Mark Warburton would eventually be moving on, unable to co-exist alongside Matthew Benham and his (then new) ‘mathematical model’.

Bees 1-0 v Watford Warburton

Warbs – more popular at the time than the prospect of the mathematical model

Of course, nobody knew then what we do now. It was decision which seemed crazy at the time . Moreso, given that the Blackpool game seemed a vindication of everything the club had done to get to that point. Equally though, it is one which now sees us about to embark on a fourth season of Championship football. The thought of any QPR style buy out nothing but a bad memory as Matthew Benham’s investment in Brentford continues apace.

So with Saturday seeing us prepare to play Rotherham United and (frankly) jeer QPR, the Last Word takes the chance to step back in time and remember, as if ‘live’, what we did against Blackpool. It was as close as we’ll get to those wonderful brackets that come with 7(seven) goals. Then again, with the divisional whipping boys next up, could Brentford do the same again two years on…..?

25 February 2015. 4 goals, 43 shots, 74% possession. That’s some mathematical model.

Brentford blew aside Blackpool last night like a crisp packet caught on the breeze as they recorded a second win in as many games. The 4-0 scoreline does little to reflect the one sided nature of a game in which we registered 43 shots to the visitors 2 and had 74% possession. Blackpool, who spent much of the game with ten men following a red card for Charles Dunne, offered nothing and, being honest, could have made the long journey home on the wrong end of a bracketing had we been that bit more clinical.

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Those shots in full

As it was, Jon Toral recorded a hat trick with two early goals starting proceedings and looking as though the floodgates might open. With the crowd exhorting Toumani to shoot at every opportunity, expectation was high. Even ‘the left side, Ealing Road’, joined in with the cheering before meeting the good natured retort “You only sing when your winning” from the rest of the stand.

Instead, it stayed at two until just after half time when Andre Gray’s effort eventually squeezed though, and off, a sea of legs for 3-0. And that was it until Toral was forced to make room on his mantelpiece for a match-ball as he stabbed home from close range just before the final whistle.

4-0 was no more than we deserved but with everybody above us (barring Bournemouth who play tonight) winning, it was an essential result. Yes, we could have had more but three points had to be the priority against a team who were desperate for a result and, for a moment, looked as though they might even grab the opening goal.

However, it was just a moment and, with the threat gone, Brentford recorded a victory that sees us sitting immediately outside the playoff zone, just two points off third place. All talk of Matthew Benham’s mathematical model has been pushed firmly to the back of the mind as 7(seven) goals in two games suggest something is working just fine as things currently stand. Hey, we even scored from a corner (albeit, the traditional ball into the penalty box rather than the much maligned ‘short’ variety).

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In the interest of balance I’m looking for a negative about our performance but it is hard to be truly objective when the opposition offer so little. You have to really feel for their fans making that journey for that level of resistance.

Being über critical, the only thing to elicit any form of inward groan, short corners aside, was some of David Button’s distribution. Whilst we used to think even Natalie Sawyer’s feet would be better suited to clearing the ball, that part of his game has still improved so much that a rogue effort does really stand out now. There’s good reason the fans chant “England’s number one”.

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Better than Button? Natalie Sawyer feet pictures feat Mark Burridge, too.

Warbs’ stock continues to rise as the post match discussion in the pub was very much one of “What next”? Matthew Benham has made his intentions clear and so certainly seems to have gone too far down this track for a reversal of opinion. The popular Mark Warburton, meanwhile, has said he won’t be able to work within such a structure.

However, there is an alternative which could keep both parties happy. If Matthew wants a mathematical model then I have two words which, I am sure, would prove a popular decision – Rachel Riley.

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First look at the artist’s impression of a mathematical model etc etc etc

And, as ever, if you would like to read more about that incredible period then you can do so here…….

Nick Bruzon

Can Matthew Benham prove Clem wrong? Dr Evil??

12 May

With Brentford and Middlesbrough preparing for the return leg of their Championship play off, I saw an interesting piece in The Times yesterday from Mark Clemmit aka Clem of BBC Football League show fame. A well known Middlesbrough fan himself, he used the column to give his own opinions on Matthew Benham’s commitment to the well documented statistical model he intends to implement at Brentford next season.

Regular readers will know of my admiration for Clem’s reporting technique and the somewhat light hearted approach to statistical analysis that had been undertaken in the weekly ‘Clemwatch’ feature. Long regarded as the harbinger of doom by football supporters, he only saw the team he selected for feature on that evening’s BBC show win 7 (seven) times all season.

Clem finished his season at Watford - who lost the title in the 90th minute

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

It was, as such, somewhat ironic to see him casting his oar into the murky water of statistics in an attempt to analyse Matthew’s plans. Although not as ironic as the fact that he was reportedly at Griffin Park on Friday, overseeing the home team fail to record a win. Again. That said, I’m sure Clem would take it as his beloved Middlesbrough chalking up another victory, regardless of his presence.

Regardless, I’d certainly recommend you try and get hold of this article if possible. And if Mark Warburton is reading, certainly a nice one to add to his future CV. Whilst acknowledging the success, so far, of ‘the model’ for FC Midtjylland in Denmark, Clem certainly seemed to land on the side of the traditional managerial structure over key performance indicators and mathematical analysis.

Fairplay to Clem for trying to balance this out, although his description of Matthew’s Smartodds HQ as “A cross between a giant dealing room and (from the Austin Powers movies) Dr Evil’s underground lair” was one that put all sorts of confused imagery into my head. If for no other reason than who would have been Evil’s mini-me and who his number 2?

Is Matthew Benham's HQ really reminiscent of Doctor Evil's lair?

Talk to the hand. Is Matthew Benham’s HQ really reminiscent of Doctor Evil’s lair?

Ultimately, nobody knows how this is going to pan out. Mark Warburton could be making a huge mistake in walking away from, potentially, the most progressive move in English football since Jimmy Hill proposed ‘three points’ for a win. I can say one thing though, Warbs will be doing his level best to make sure that the model is road tested in the Premiership. He has shown the fans and the team nothing but the most impressive personal performance since the news broke and , I have no doubt, that will continue.

Friday night will see our biggest game, to date, in living memory. And if you wanted even more intrigue, I saw a statistic that said Middlesbrough haven’t lost an evening game at the Riverside in six years. I have no idea if that is true or urban legend but, regardless, nobody can doubt the calibre of the opposition.

Given how much this game is worth, I’m sure the jinx-conscious amongst us will hope that Clem is in attendance once again. Moreso that Matthew, Warbs and the team give him plenty more to think about.

As we saw in last night’s game between Swindon and Sheffield United, which finished 7(seven) – 6(so close) on aggregate, anything is possible in the play offs. On Friday night, we find out what happens in this one.