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Brentford 3 v 1 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 11th January 2020 Kick-off 12:30
Do you want the options again? Always the same... Report
Sunday, 12th Jan 2020 15:54 by Clive Whittingham

QPR's last ever visit to Griffin Park brought the sort of comfortable defeat to Brentford that has become an annual occurrence in the last five years.

A result so predictable we actually predicted it, achieved in much the same way as all our other ritual humiliations on this ground in recent years: with a Brentford onslaught, a QPR collapse, an angry away end reaction, and torrents of social media bile. It was only a week ago Rangers won consecutive games 6-1 and 5-1 but you’d never know it on the pitch, on the terrace, or in the dark world of the internet.

This fifth successive defeat at Griffin Park was suffered for a couple of reasons, the first of which is simply that Brentford have a better team than QPR at the moment. They know their shape, style and identity by heart. They’ve been able to dive deep into the world of analytics and scouting far more effectively than most, steadily improving their team year on year to the point where they could now quite easily christen a new stadium springing up by Kew Bridge Station with Premier League football next season.

After a tentative start in which the pornographic possibility of a Pontus Jansson own goal in front of the away end was prevented only by a fine Raya save from the Swede’s botched header, and the Spanish keeper was then incredibly fortunate not to present Rangers with the opening goal himself when needless posing and pisballing about almost saw the ball taken off his toe on the goal line by Nahki Wells, the hosts had an electric half an hour that blew Rangers away and finished the game before it had really begun.

Ollie Watkins had already been in behind the centre half partnership of Grant Hall and Geoff Cameron once – somehow not being awarded a penalty for a fairly obvious trip on him in the area by Cameron who knew he was stranded the wrong side of his man – when Josh Dasilva cut a cross back to the near post and the former Exeter man spun and fired wide via a deflection. They took the lead just after the quarter hour when Ryan Manning’s theatrical fall on the ball routine (rightly) didn’t yield the free kick it usually gets and the Irishman was forced into a foul of his own to rescue the situation. The free kick was cut back low into the area and Said Benrahma arrived right on time to sweep the opening goal of the game through a crowd-scene and into the net.

Rangers, obviously rattled, presented the Bees with a second goal immediately in much the same way they had Fulham in their previous West London derby this season. A needlessly rushed, horrendously executed first time clearance from Lumley went straight to Christian Norgaard who again got a man in behind Cameron all too easily and this time Mbeumo was able to bobble the ball past the despairing keeper and into the far corner.

I was surprised Mark Warburton hadn’t used last week’s FA Cup performance as an excuse to leave Liam Kelly in goal for this one. Joe Lumley’s form had marginally improved over Christmas, culminating in a good display at Reading, but the Cardiff consolation goal was an obvious error whatever anybody says and the mistakes he’s been making have come not only far too frequently but also in a manner that betrays a lack of confidence and creeping self doubt. This is a game that horribly exposes that in QPR players and the manager’s faith in his keeper was misplaced. Lumley slipped horribly and spaffed his next clearance as well – not the only QPR player who seemed to be in inappropriate footwear it must be said – but Dasilva put the resulting chance just wide.

That resulting corner was headed just wide and with the Bees really motoring soon Rico Henry was in down the left for a first time cross that was just out of Watkins’ reach – though he’d been flagged offside. Three nil felt inevitable and when Jensen lofted a free kick to the back post and Pinnock was able to head across unmarked, Watkins did the honours from close range.

Rangers had been absolutely blitzed. Completely blown out of the game by an excellent team with a fearsome forward line. Unable to regain a foothold after conceding the first, wide open in defence and completely mismatched in midfield. It was a carve up, and although there was a late chance for Ilias Chair off a decent Amos through ball that Pinnock cleared up with a ballbusting tackle, and a second obvious penalty shout of the game waved away by referee John Brooks when Jansson cynically and deliberately cleared out Nahki Wells as he threatened to run onto a through ball, there was barely a murmur from a shell-shocked away end.

QPR couldn’t really do a lot about the quality of the opposition. They’re a better run club, and a team further on in their development. But the second reason for this defeat was less forgivable – an abdication of the basics of the game.

It was QPR who won the toss and elected to switch ends, kicking into a fierce wind in the first half, only to concede one and nearly another off lousy goalkeeper clearances into the teeth of it. Several times, including for the Watkins penalty appeal and the Mbeumo goal, simple balls lofted in over the top of Cameron on the breeze got the hosts clean through on goal – just one ball over the top all it took to get them in. Winning the toss and switching the teams around hinted at a strategy to make the most of the conditions, but actually it ended up being little more than us wanting to get playing into the wind out of the way. Well, that went well, by the time we switched back the bloody match was over.

Two of the Brentford goals came from non-existent marking at set pieces – a persistent problem all season for Rangers, who’ve now shipped more goals from dead ball situations (19) than anybody else in the league this year. The second, in particular, was a carbon copy of goals we conceded in a 3-0 away defeat at Cardiff – unmarked centre half at the far post from a straight free kick heading down to unmarked team mate in six-yard box. The first was from a low cut back cross that Brentford had picked out as a weakness before the game and written about on signs placed on the wall of their dressing room. These failings are not new in this defence, the whole division knows about them, but Rangers seem completely incapable of doing anything about them.

And there was the persistent problem in this fixture of it obviously mattering far more to the Brentford players than the QPR ones. To quote Chris Wilder, they ran forwards, they ran back, they tackled hard, they won every first ball, and they won every second ball. Their tackles carried feeling and threat, they were tough and physically dominant as well as classy in possession. Pinnock and Jansson were both towers of strength – aided and abetted by QPR chipping stupid passes up to the much smaller Nahki Wells and waiting until 20 minutes from time to add the presence of Jordan Hugill to challenge them – and Dasilva was the best midfielder on the pitch. Luke Amos, after several impressive performances over Christmas, was back to looking like a nice little academy boy. This is why it winds me up a bit when Warburton keeps bringing up a “lack of academy education” when he’s talking about the merits and failings of Bright Osayi-Samuel – does an academy education include some schooling on tackling for these pretty little boys? Putting a fucking foot in, kicking a few people? There’s more to football than an academy education, and on days like this it’s actually a weakness in players like Amos. Put some fucking minge round it mate. Dominic Ball, himself coming off the back of his best performances for the club, was back to treating the football like it had had an affair with his wife. He was hooked at half time, and things improved for moving Cameron into his position and adding Conor Masterson to the backline.

We were, and are, way too meek. Easily bullied. The final 20 minutes of the game saw a succession of very soft free kicks being given to the home team for stuff we hadn’t been given free kicks for ourselves – nobody said a bloody thing about it. Three Brentford subs walked very slowly off the field milking the applause and running the clock. Again, nobody spoke to referee Brooks about it. Way, way too nice.

Things did improve after half time. They could scarcely have got worse, and it probably owed as much to Brentford kindly taking their foot off our throat than anything we did, but Masterson looked more composed and confident than our other centre backs, just as he had done last week, and Cameron’s outrageously bad first half gave way to a far better second back in midfield. There was still the problem of Brentford being able to double up on Ebere Eze and Bright Osayi-Samuel, stunting their impact, while themselves being able to get the excellent Benrahma and Mbeumo in on Kane and Manning one on one whenever and wherever they pleased, but Rangers did at least regain some sort of competitive hold in the game and when Osayi-Samuel finally escaped Rico Henry’s clutches on the hour he crossed low for Nahki Wells to score from close range.

Who knows what may have transpired had Eze’s turn and finish on the end of a nice move involving Manning and Chair ten minutes later brought the score back to 3-2? Nerves jangling, an epic comeback in the making, I’d have followed that cunt in the camel coat to the left of the away end all the way home and stood in his garden all night banging the world’s biggest drum. Alas, Raya saved well, and Hugill’s impact from the bench was minimal. Eze and Chair both getting in behind Dalsgaard but overcomplicating with too many touches and passes that should have been shots confirmed the defeat.

In truth, it looked more likely to be 4-1 than 3-2. An early Benrahma free kick looked in all the way before it slide into the side-netting. Watkins let Rangers off the hook with a deliberate handball on the corner of the penalty area with Lumley having a little wander out into zone six. Kane, horribly exposed defensively again, was spared embarrassment after believing a ball was going out only for Benrahma to keep it in with an immaculate first touch and cross by Watkins’ header over the bar. More lousy marking from an eighty seventh minute corner presented Watkins with another chance at the back post but he fired it back from whence it came rather than into the net.

On one of the rare occasions Brooks did award QPR a free kick he seemed to immediately change his mind, apologise, and present an uncontested drop ball back to Brentford, who hadn’t had the ball at the time. An odd moment amidst a strange refereeing display.

Twas ever thus. We can only hope a new stadium brings about a change of fortunes in this fixture for our team, if indeed this is a game on our calendar for next year. That won’t happen while we’re ignoring the basics of the sport though. Beating talented teams is difficult enough without leaving players unmarked, repeatedly, religiously at set pieces. Talented teams also know how to tackle, and head it, and win second balls, and get about the field. You don’t beat them if you’re second best at those either, and you don’t need to be particularly brilliant yourselves to be able to get absolute fundamentals of the game like that right.

And it also won’t happen if we keep panicking, making short term decisions based on anger and emotions after defeats like this, and changing tack. The overall message under Les Ferdinand and Lee Hoos has been the right one – reduce the wage bill, reduce the age of the team, develop players, buy low sell high and reinvest. But within that have been a number of about turns. We went from a head coach with a director of football buying the players, to name managers picking their own signings. We went from scouting the lower leagues for Luongo and Washington types, to scouting Europe for Sylla, Polter, Chery and Borysiuk types, to trying to bring in big name players on loan. We went from youth coach to promising lower league manager to club legend to big name – each with enormously different styles. We've gone from Les picking the signings, to Gary Penrice, to Steve McClaren, to Mark Warburton. Brentford’s brilliant team has been built steadily, over years, under one identity and stedfast belief and recruitment strategy. Managers have been appointed carefully to fit within that, and only once when they decided they’d made a poor call with Marinus Dijkhuizen have they jettisoned a boss after a small run of bad results. Dean Smith and Thomas Frank have both survived long winless runs the likes of which have QPR losing their shit and craving more change.

Match Gallery: 26 photos

There are failings in Mark Warburton’s team, and they were brutally exposed in the first half on Saturday, but we’ve come a long way under him in a short period of time. Players are developing and improving, big transfer fees will be received and reinvested, the direction of travel is, generally, the right one. The defence is a joke, but it’s not like he’s not aware of that – he tried to sign Scott McKenna in the summer and wasn’t able to. The centre back and central midfield areas will be particular areas of interest in this window if the right player becomes available, and particularly in the summer. Warburton has had just one window so far, and did a hell of a lot of good in that.

Brentford’s is not a success born out of a lot of chopping and changing, a lot of acting on whims and hunches, a lot of panicking and a lot of placating Twitter trolls. And QPR won’t come close to matching it, and will continue to suffer embarrassing defeats in this fixture, until they pick a course and stick with it, even through disappointing, painful days like this one.

Links >>> Photo Gallery >>> Ratings and Reports >>> Message Board Match Thread

Brentford: Raya 7; Dalsgaard 7, Jansson 7, Pinnock 8, Henry 8; Jensen 7 (Mokotjo 75, 6), Norgaard 7, Dasilva 8 (Marcondes 87, -); Mbeumo 8 (Castillo 81, -), Watkins 8, Benrahma 8

Subs not used: Thompson, Jeanvier, Daniels, Zamburek

Goals: Benrahma, 19 (assisted Jensen), Mbeumo 23, Watkins 33 (assisted Pinnock)

QPR: Lumley 3; Kane 4, Cameron 5, Hall 4, Manning 5; Ball 4 (Masterson 46, 6), Amos 5; Osayi-Samuel 6, Chair 5 (Shodipo 81, -), Eze 5; Wells 5 (Hugill 71, 5)

Subs not used: Wallace, Pugh, Scowen, Kelly

Goals: Wells 61 (assisted Osayi-Samuel)

Bookings: Hall 46 (foul), Kane 56 (foul), Cameron 71 (foul), Osayi-Samuel 90 (unsporting), Manning 90+4 (foul)

QPR Star Man – Conor Masterson 6 Osayi-Samuel was probably the pick of the starters, though far from the blistering form of the previous weeks and I thought Rico Henry handled him better than most full backs this season. Masterson came on at half time and the defence immediately looked more comfortable with and without the ball, aided by Cameron moving from centre half where he was dire into midfield where he did considerably better than Dom Ball who had a nightmare first half. All this with the caveat that Brentford clearly took their foot off the gas second half.

Referee – John Brooks (Leicestershire) 4 Given that he’s getting games like this, and Forest v Derby earlier in the season, it’s reasonable to assume he’s being earmarked for bigger things, but every time I see him he gets big, not particularly difficult, decisions wrong. Sheff Wed at home last year he failed to award the Owls a penalty despite Rangel kicking right through Pudil’s face, splitting his head open. At Millwall away he failed to even award a free kick, let alone the red card it deserved, for Joel Lynch fouling Lee Gregory when he was clean through. And at Hillsborough this year he gave a penalty against Grant Hall which I still don’t understand the reasoning behind four months and a million replays on. Here, both teams should have had a first half penalty – Cameron tripped Watkins having allowed him to run in the wrong side of him, Jansson cynically and deliberately took out Wells trying to get onto a return ball from Eze. Obvious, easy stuff. Having ignored those two blatant fouls he then spent the second half awarding free kicks for every tiny little brush or bit of contact by anybody – unless it was on Jordan Hugill, that was fine apparently. Unbelievably fussy about every little thing that happens outside the penalty area, completely oblivious to serious stuff that happens in the box.

Attendance 12,324 (1,400 QPR approx.)

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billericaydicky added 16:53 - Jan 12
A very aptly written piece Clive, much of which I think you could have cut and pasted from previous matches at Griffin Park. My two-penneth if I may;

Ysp Brentford are a much better side than us, a much better run club and I think are heading to the Prem. They remind me of Bournemouth when they went up.

As for us, we don't have a leader on the pitch and are often naive and easily bullied. We don't have a Jansson or a Watkins who ref the match when the Ref himself is a weak one like he was yesterday. I thought Manning was fouled for their first goal, but yes they should have had a pen. I think the Wells pen shout was outside the box, but a clear foul nonetheless.

I think you make a really good point that it clearly means a lot more to the Brentford players than it does to Rangers. I know many fans feel the same, me included. I class Fulham as our 'West London' rivals, not Brentford. If we do happen to play the Bees again next season then I for one would like this attitude to change or it will be Groundhog Day (part 6).

We all know our shortcomings and with a magic wand we'd sign a left and right back, a keeper, a centre half and a younger and nastier Geoff Cameron type. Oh and throw in a striker too, you know one that we actually own. But as you say Warburton knows that, and we are trying to get things on an even keel and certainly off the pitch the club is going in the right direction. Fingers crossed matters on the pitch take a turn for the better too.


Geoff78 added 17:17 - Jan 12
Spot on Clive. Direction of travel for the club is right. Warbs has done more right than wrong. How he manages this transfer window (+ the next, assuming the club don't pull the plug) is key to us continuing to improve. Getting another manager in would just be adding to the catalogue of bad decisions at the club.

But I just don't get why he can't get these players to mark effectively in our penalty area and look like they want to win the ball in 50:50 challenges, or even 60:40 ones. Even if he is the right man he should (with all the other coaching staff on the payroll) be able to make some progress in these areas. We may have a couple of players who aren't good enough, but Manning, Hall, Scowen (although he's out of favour) have shown in previous seasons that they can tackle and provide a bit of bite. It's one of the reasons I like to see Hugill come on as he will battle away in spite of his limitations (at least one attempt to get the 3 points for a drop goal in every match).

This frustrates fans as the team look half arsed and feeble, when we know fans would always want to see passion + commitment, sometimes (sadly) more than skill.

Paddyhoops added 17:39 - Jan 12
I think it was David Fraser on the last QPR podcast (which you yourself , Clive contributed to) said in relation to joe Lumley, " we're not a charity" . Never a true word was said . Pretty much every second or third game involves a brainfart from joe. We all want him to succeed but it gets to a point where it's got to change. Kelly may no be the answer but its surely a better option.
Also the noises from warburton is that Masterson will go out on loan. It worked brilliantly in the cases of Eze and Chair but from what Iv'e seen in the last game an half, he' s ready.

switchingcode added 18:58 - Jan 12
Good assessments of the game Clive.i was behind the Ealing Road goal and thought the shout for a penalty in the opening minutes on Watkins was stone wall at the time and the free kick given against Manning that led to the first goal was very soft and thought the Lino was bullied by the crowd calling for hand ball by the rangers player ive since seen both incidents on sky and havent changed my mind.In fact you will see manning is fouled first.Overall our midfield came out well on top and kept the usually excellent Eze quiet and Henry kept the impressive B O S fairly quiet except for your goal would love to have them in our side.
I agree the Ref was useless for both sides on occasions but gave us lots of free kicks in the second half that were not and ignored many of ours on your players.Players like Eze and BOS need time to progress under Warburton and he will do that and develop a team around them and steer clear of loan players if possible it’s taken years for us to realise that.Didnt think the game lived up to my expectations as far as end to end football goes maybe the wind didn’t help.

Phil_i_P_Daddy added 20:53 - Jan 12
"Put some fcuking minge round it mate."

I'm tempted to get that tattooed.

Myke added 22:40 - Jan 12
Excellent report Clive - spot on. Only two surprising things about this result. 1 considering how unpredictable football is, that the entirely predictable result (well done on that even down to the scorer) played out exactly like it should and 2 that people should be surprised and angry about it. I understand, far removed on the west coast of Ireland (storm Brendan is hot-footing it here as I write) that I don't have to go through the humiliation of living and working with Brentford fans, but honestly anyone who thought the two Welsh results (a tear in the fabric of reality?) would somehow make us equal to Brentford were in dreamland. I expected more goals - 5-3 maybe apart from that it was as expected. The game was a microcosm of our entire season ; switching off for set pieces, individual errors (yes Lumley, but Cameron's bun is now on it's second assist) and soft goals from flick ons. But we are doing grand, keep the faith, pull in the guts of 20m for Eze in the summer and maybe 3m for Manning. Try to hold on to Chair and BOS for another season. Spend the money on a GK, a defensive midfielder, a striker and Wells wages and see where that brings us

HastingsRanger added 22:57 - Jan 12
I do wonder with a defence that is low on confidence, if you have the choice, why choose to kick into a strong wind from the off. With the wind, it will allow a defence some time to get into the game. Odd decision.

To play both Chair and Eze in the midfield is a luxury, especially against a very decent opposition. I also think Brentford had done their homework, nullifying both Eze and BOS well.

To be well beaten by the division's in form team is disappointing but not to be unexpected. Put this one down to experience, even if it is a little bitter.


Northernr added 23:15 - Jan 12
Hastings - not a luxury in a 4231 if the 2 do their job. They didn’t here, Amos and Ball weak as piss and well beaten. Better once Cameron stepped in there. Warnock used to play with Mackie, Routledge, Ephraim and or Taarabt behind Helguson or Hulse. None of them particularly defensive, but the ‘2’ were Derry and Faurlin so it didn’t matter.

extratimeR added 23:43 - Jan 12
Thanks Clive

Yes, sadly it happens again, but if we are going to change to a well run club, we will have to be patient, again as long as we finish above relegation I will be satisfied, buys more time, and allows us to strengthen in the positions mentioned by Clive, (see above).

It is frustrating looking at the mistakes, its hard to fathom watching amazing skills one week, followed by appalling mistakes the next.

I like the look of Masterson, (last week and this), but it was particularly unwise to put Ball, (who is an honest player and always puts a shift in) in the centre of midfield against the fastest moving team in the Division, he was slaughtered, he cannot carry the ball to the opposition 18 yard box, (not easy), and under pressure he just cannot go forward, again not his fault, its just not in his game.

But we are learning and we are getting better!

Cheers Clive!

smegma added 00:05 - Jan 13
" I’d have followed that c*nt in the camel coat to the left of the away end all the way home and stood in his garden all night banging the world’s biggest drum."

062259 added 00:46 - Jan 13
11 points from safety
11 points above the drop zone

superhoopdownunder added 01:38 - Jan 13
Team selection was poor.
Lumley and Manning should not have started
Cameron is not a centre half.
We should have started with Kelly, Wallace and Masterson.
Stupid decision to kick into the wind.
Hall is no captain or leader.
We lack leaders on the pitch.
Brentford wanted it more than us and dived and fouled us a lot.
The referee was rubbish.
Masterson should be a starter and not go out on loan.
Disappointing to see a team with so much potential not realise it as our manager has not been able to fix our defence and we still concede 2 or 3 most games.
I didn't think Brentford were that good - we just made it easy for them.
It would be good if we turned up for every game - especially London derbies.

derbyhoop added 08:03 - Jan 13
The club is doing lots of things right, but all the current weaknesses with the team were ruthlessly exposed in the first 45. Keeper whose kicking is erratic and getting worse; 2 full backs who cant defend; lack of pace in central defence; weak in the tackle; lack of on field leadership; and, as you said, just too nice.

YorkRanger added 08:37 - Jan 13
Enjoyed the Headline reference to the office. Keith's appraisal remains one of the funniest clips from that series...

Hadders added 10:20 - Jan 13
Great report. One extra point - I'll be sorry to see Griffin Park go. I know it's progress and we hope to follow one day, but I expect Brentford supporters will miss their atmospheric, rackety old ground - especially their home terrace. As Nick Hornby said somewhere, referrring to Highbury v The Emirates - "Everything's better now, but nothing's as good."

francisbowles added 11:45 - Jan 13
Unlike the team Clive the usual consistency in your game.

On the success of Brentford by sticking to 'one theme', how did they get to that in the first place. Presumably they went through some of the same stuff that we have been through, in the days since we left the promised land. Anyone remember/know the story of how they got to the Rossler years?

The other question I have is, how do you react quickly enough when a player moves before you at a set piece? You know it's going to happen but not when or even where he might run. On this occasion, it was even stranger as Wells seemed to react and then hesitated and then couldn't get there. I don't think it is the first time he has been beaten to a ball in a similar position and it absolutely is/should/must be part of his game as we routinely bring everyone back for set pieces except our quickest player. As MW continually reminds us 'we defend as a team'

kingfisher6404 added 20:47 - Jan 13
Lots of good comments on your great article Clive! Would only add my own two points:
1. Warburton is at fault, after so much analysis, for picking the wrong starting XI. Should have been Kelly, Masterson, Wallace and Hugill (instead of Eze) at kick-off. I am guessing that Ball was preferred in midfield because he was thought to be faster at dealing with the 'BMW' threat? Cameron proved he can make an impact there though in the second half! (Has to be Hall there next season surely?)
2. I know the analysts provide the data on the next opposition and I know the defence, midfield and strikers work with that to be prepared; so how come, week after week, we perform so bad when it comes to defending dead balls? Does Warburton take the 'defensive coach' down a dark alleyway after such performances? He should!

Myke added 23:25 - Jan 13
Well I do believe there have been a couple of occasions when Eze should have been subbed off this season, but Hugill starting before him?? Also not sure how Manning has gone from the best stats at the club to a liability?

TacticalR added 13:58 - Jan 14
Thanks for your forensic analysis of the game (it's not just Brentford who do analysis).

It looks like the meek are not going to inherit the earth. The naive certainly aren't. We were terrible defensively, but it's worth remembering that Brentford have recently torn decent teams like Swansea and Bristol City to shreds. The real shame was that we couldn't use our creative players to get into the game.

'Dean Smith and Thomas Frank have both survived long winless runs the likes of which have QPR losing their shit and craving more change.' That's because Benham, who is a physics graduate, is convinced that there is random element in football and bad runs don't necessarily reflect the underlying quality of the team.

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