|Brentford 2 v 1 Queens Park Rangers|
Friday, 27th November 2020 Kick-off 19:45
Okilly dokilly neighbourino – Preview
Friday, 27th Nov 2020 14:49 by Clive Whittingham
QPR head across to Brentford’s new Lego-dome for the first time tonight for a fixture that has, in recent times, become an annual chastening experience.
Brentford (5-5-3, DWDDDW, 9th) v QPR (4-5-4, 13th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Friday November 27, 2020 >>> Kick Off 19.45 >>> Weather – Cold and dark >>> Brentford Community Stadium, Lionel Road
And so we come to the dubious annual pleasure that is watching Brentford tear our beloved Super Hoops a new arse. A helpful twice-yearly reminder of how the club we used to nick players from and dust down occasional table scraps by way of a money-spinning pre-season friendly or two has now surpassed us in every way. Better scouting, better recruitment, better facilities, better players, better managers, better football, better lovers, better husbands. Probably the best team we’ll play all season. Meanwhile we get wrecked in Vegas and come back with a part-used Jay Emmanuel Thomas on a three year contract. It’s like living next door to Ned Flanders.
I’ll be honest, I’m giving strong consideration to watching the Derby and Forest games rather than the QPR ones for the next few weeks. Even the wins we manage often turn into terrifying ordeals – two nil up against Cardiff and coasting, three one up against Rotherham and comfortable, and yet getting both over the line into actual wins felt like trying to shit out a snooker table. I’ve had more fun negotiating the HMRC website than I got from that last ten minutes the other night. Passing the ball around, torching the full backs, lovely to watch, gorgeous football, glad to be alive, goals going in, lazy lob developing into a full throb and then… I WANT TO PLAY A GAME. “I’d like some more QPR goals,” said Nick London, echoing the general mood, as Chris Willock waltzed around his man with a deft swagger to tee up our umpteenth chance spurned against the Millers. I’d like to go home to Kelly Brook every night, and that seemed a hell of a lot more likely than QPR even hanging on for a point just 15 minutes later. If we promise to treat them well and play with them properly this time, can we go back to having nice things again?
Meanwhile, up in the East Midlands, two clubs for whom brief periods of success under once in a lifetime maverick management a generation ago apparently entitles them to some divine right for a seat at the top table are once again tangled in their own hubris. Derby writing their own ‘how many managers does it take to change a lightbulb’ jokes by adding Steve Schteve McClaren to Wayne Wazza Rooney, Liam Rosenior, Justin Walker and Shay Given – big impact seen in the midweek 3-0 defeat at Middlesbrough. They’ll be exhuming Jim Smith next. Forest at least run their managers on a single rotation, one new man every 45 minutes of so, but are failing in similarly miserable fashion in an equally ridiculous endeavour to sign every professional footballer in Europe, thereby starving the rest of the clubs of bodies and beating them through sheer default. Bournemouth the latest to comfortably rubbish the hypothesis. God if only the cruel and uncaring EFL had allowed them to sneak that crucial sixteenth signing, Kamil Grosicki, through after the deadline had passed who knows how far clear at the top of the table they'd be. Instead, Chris Hughton now two wins from eight – another ‘new Cloughie’ for Christmas perhaps? I can't look away. I know it's wrong, but it feels so right.
If we are looking for signs of progress at our own club, then there’s plenty to be found in those two examples. That was once us, chucking good money after bad, signing and loaning anything that moved, managers coming and going at such a rapid rate the office door had a chalkboard instead of a nameplate. Each problem surely cured by just one more change of boss, just six more signings this window, just one more outlay of owner money, and before you know it you’re getting done 1-0 at Peterborough with Tamas Priskin up front, one of so many loanees they couldn’t all be named in the matchday squad. We’d have absolutely spent £7m on Tom Lawrence seven or eight years ago, based on some dim and distant myth of ability and who his agent is. Not only is it financially ruinous, not only does it destroy the fabric and soul of a club, but it very seldom brings positive results, as we found to our considerable cost, and the Sheep and Florists are now discovering themselves.
Now without parachute payments, much as it pains us to admit it QPR are aspiring to the Brentford model. You recruit sharply, you develop intelligently within a set and consistent ethos and style of play, you sell at the right time for the right price, and you reinvest. Brentford have taken themselves from League One in an ancient stadium to the cusp of the Premier League in a new ground through doing those four things on a loop, regularly bludgeoning the noses of supposedly far “bigger” clubs, with greater resources, spending vast amounts more on transfer fees, loan fees, agent fees and wages. They’re ten years into that development cycle, QPR are five, which is the stock and not unreasonable reason given for the regular shellackings they deal out when our paths cross.
There is progress being made. We used to double Rob Green’s money to get him from West Ham, replace him with Julio Cesar on double that money a month later, and end up with them both hanging around at the end of said lucrative contracts going out on loan or spending Saturday’s watching Esher play rugby and doing tearful puff pieces with the Daily Mail. Now we pick up an outstanding goalkeeper in Alex Smithies from Huddersfield, sell him for a profit, and replace him with keepers we’ve developed ourselves, one of them in Seny Dieng starting to look like a serious prospect. We scout Luke Freeman as a prospect being misused by Bristol City, play him in his correct position and get £5m for him barely three years after paying a tenth of that. Ebere Eze, a £20m player, and among the reinvestments from that there’s great promise in Rob Dickie, Chris Willock and others while Ilias Chair starts to grow into the vacated playmaker role – three goals in three home games now.
It’s tough. It’s galling. It’s gruelling. There have been many, multiple, missteps – Steve McClaren, Ryan Manning, potentially Bright Osayi-Samuel, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Ariel Borysiuk, Tomer Hemed. Huge great long list, opportunities missed, money wasted. But even standing still in the Championship while taking your annual wage bill from £80m to £18m is progress of sorts, and we’ve done a bit more than that. It would just help us feel it a bit more if we didn’t so frequently turn 3-1 leads against Rotherham into a night in a haunted house. Or, for that matter, lose quite so comprehensively to our opponents tonight whenever we meet them.
Links >>> Toney fast start – Interview >>> Memory Lane – Podcast >>> Bircham’s screamer – History >>> Donohue in charge – Referee >>> Official Website >>> Beesotted – Blog and Podcast >>> Griffin Park Grapevine – Forum >>> West London Sport, Brentford – News
Geoff Cameron Facts No.117 In The Series – Geoff would go all that way on two rotten pair.
Team News: Yoann Barbet missed both meetings with his former club in his first season as a QPR player, and was rated as a doubt for this one by Warbs Warburton after taking a hefty whack in the process of denying Freddie Ladapo a goal during the late siege of the School End on Tuesday night. Conor Masterson broke his nose in that game but played through to the end so should be ok. Rob Dickie has trained this week but it remains to be seen if tonight has come too soon with the games coming, cliché klaxon, thick and fast at the moment. If George Thomas doesn’t appear somewhere in the next week or so we’re going to start rolling over all those prizes we have left from the Sean Goss years.
One time QPR transfer target Charlie Goode continues to sit out with a feeling of deep and profound regret, suffered with one look at our red and white halved away kit at the Cardiff game. Christian Norgaard is dealing with lingering feelings of shame and low self esteem. Josh Dasilva went off at half time at Barnsley in the week with a dead leg but after it was pointed out to him that this is something eight-year-old boys give to each other ON FUCKING PURPOSE he’s dried his eyes and made himself available. Prepare a Victoria Cross.
Elsewhere: Without really hitting any kind of performance levels, newly relegated Borussia Norwich and Bournemouth now occupy the top two spots, with their fellow ex-Premier League chums Watford in fifth. All three will be reasonably confident of victory this weekend with the Canaries at home to Coventry, Watford hosting Preston Knob End and Bournemouth heading up to Rotherham.
The other three teams in the top six are enjoying/enduring a mixed autumn. Bristol City, like ourselves, probably did enough to beat Watford in what turned out to be a home draw during the week, but that’s still ten points from 12 for them and they’re third despite missing several players and staff through plague protocols. Swanselona, likewise, in decent touch in fourth, though unfairly denied a late winner in their midweek tie with Sheffield Owls thanks to Chuckles Woolmer’s latest brain explosion in injury time. Reading, on the other hand, have seen an early pace setting run fo results evaporate into a draw and four defeats from five. The Royals and Bristol City meet in the Saturday lunchtime tellybox game, while the Welsh outfit are at basked cast Nottingham Florist on Sunday.
The Thirteenth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour sits poised in seventh ahead of their north-off with Huddersfield, while Stoke are eighth ahead of the Tony Pulis derby at Hillsborough. Go on Jon indeed. There’s a couple of clubs perhaps doing better than expected meeting – Blackburn and Barnsley this week’s exciting game between two teams beginning with B – while Cardiff and Luton are both at opposite ends of the table relative to their pre-season odds ahead of their meeting. Neil Harris ex employers Miwllwawll, facking ‘ell Wawll, are within touching distance of the top six ahead of their 0-0 draw at Aitor Karanka’s Birmingham thrill machine.
Derby at home to Wycombe Wanderers has transpired to be something of a six pointer. However did it come to this?
Referee: As with the Watford game a week ago a fixture you thought may be flagged up as requiring a more tried and trusted referee at this level (not you Stroud) has been handed to a relative newcomer, with Matt Donohue from Manchester just beginning a third season on the league list. Details.
Brentford: From February 1 last season Brentford lost only one, and won ten, of 15 matches. Having beaten Sheff Wed 5-0 in the game before lockdown, they came back behind closed doors with seven consecutive wins leaving them needing just one victory from games away at Stoke, at home to Barnsley and against Fulham at Wembley to win promotion to the Premier League. They lost all three. Now tipped as a promotion favourite, rather than their traditional underdog role, and without Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma, progress has been middling. They currently sit ninth with five wins, five draws and three defeats. Coventry and Huddersfield have been beaten to nil at the new stadium, but Preston won 4-2 here having trailed 2-0, and Norwich, Swansea and Boro have all left with draws in the last three games. There is, amongst this, an impressive League Cup run which has seen them breeze through Wycombe, Southampton, West Brom and Fulham into a quarter final with Newcastle. The Bees have scored 18 times in the league so far, but Ivan Toney has 11 of those and perennial sub Marcus Forss another four. Only five different scorers in the Championship so far, three of those with a single goal each. Ominously though, they’re well in touch with the top six as November ends, and in recent seasons they’ve often started sluggishly after the sale of big name players while the well scouted newbies bed in. They won only three of the first 11 games last season, then eight of the next 11 through this part of the year, including a 7-0 home victory against Luton in this week 12 months ago. The season before they fell short of the play offs after winning just four of the first 15 league games, despite several big winning runs thereafter. Similar story in 17/18 – one win from the first 11 games, eventually six points off the play-offs. By Brentford’s recent standards, this is actually a worryingly good start - they’ve kept four clean sheets in the last five games, including the last three, and are unbeaten in six coming into the game albeit with four draws.
QPR: Rangers are not in dissimilar form from their hosts, with three defeats in 11 compared to their two in 11. Ten points from five games is, whisper it quietly, the magic two points a game marker that play-off qualifying teams aim for, and Rangers arrive into this game in exactly that sort of touch after victories against Cardiff, Derby and Rotherham. Temper that optimism slightly with a look at the league table which shows that Cardiff in eighteenth are the highest placed of the teams Rangers have beaten this season – Rotherham nineteenth, Forest twentieth, Derby dead last. The deserved victory at Pride Park is the R’s only win in seven league and cup games on the road this season, with draws at Bournemouth and Sheff Wed chucked in for good measure. It’s now just three wins in 20 away games for Mark Warburton’s side, a run which includes last season’s 3-1 defeat in this fixture. Coming into 2015/16 Rangers hadn’t lost to Brentford since 1965 – albeit only six competitive fixtures in that time – but in the 11 meetings since the Bees have won eight and QPR only two. We lost our last five visits to Griffin Park, scoring only two and conceding a dozen.
Prediction: We’re indebted to The Art of Football for once again agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. The squad is updated and you can get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Last season’s champion Mase offers us this…
“I am hoping for an improved display over our recent visits to Brentford. We seem to be staying in games a lot more this season than last, and with a bit of a fair wind we may be able to give them a bit of a scare. Ultimately I think they have a bit too much for us, with Toney to the fore, but then I thought the same about Bournemouth and Watford. It’s a hard job predicting this topsy turvy team.”
Mase’s Prediction: Brentford 2-0 QPR. No scorer.
LFW’s Prediction: Brentford 3-1 QPR. Scorer – Macauley Bonne
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Letters from Wiltshire #26 by wessex_exile
Well, after a piss-poor Xmas period so far for the U’s, culminating in the Roots Hall horror show on Boxing Day, let’s hope the U’s have burned off those festive calories and are raring to go. They’ll certainly have to be at their best against a Cheltenham side aiming to force their way into the automatic promotion places. In other news, we now finally have confirmation that there will be a trade deal in place with the EU once Brexit arrives in 2021. It remains to be seen whether it’s a good deal or not, and more to the point, who for, but at least it’s not the economic uncertainty of no-deal.
Letters from Wiltshire #25 by wessex_exile
A little earlier than usual, but as we approach the end of what has been a most difficult year for everyone, I’ll keep the introductory editorial brief, as I’m sure you will all be very busy in the coming days rescuing what you can from this pandemic-ravaged festive period. I simply wish you all peace on earth, goodwill to all (yes, even our South Essex cousins), and here’s to a happy, prosperous and most importantly healthy 2021 for us all.
Letters from Wiltshire #24 by wessex_exile
Welcome to our last match before Christmas. With South Essex going into Tier 3, by the time we take to the pitch at Roots Hall, it’ll be another behind-closed-doors match. With the Tier 3 boundary creeping inexorably closer, one wonders how long the JobServe will hold out and still be able to allow fans to attend. Robbie is doing all he can to make it possible for supporters to attend, and I confess I’m seriously considering our January 2nd match against Tranmere. In other news, I’m relieved to read that the FA will not take disciplinary action against Colchester United after a shameful minority chose to boo players and officials taking the knee, in the words of the EFL “as they highlight the inequality and injustice experienced by the Black Community”. I noticed a tiny minority chose to boo at our mid-week match at the Abbey Stadium, but I was pleased to hear they were immediately drowned out by the remainder of the 2,000 cheering and applauding. I admit I’m a little anxious about today…
Letters from Wiltshire #23 by wessex_exile
As I’ve been providing updates on the ongoing US presidential election, it is worth mentioning that the Electoral College votes have now been cast, which formally confirms Biden as the new President-elect. Normally a formality, as the losing candidate has usually long-since conceded defeat, but these are far from normal times, and America has far from a normal lame-duck President. Still, at least the threat of members of the Electoral College ignoring the popular vote in favour of an outcome demanded by Trump has failed to materialise. In the UK, new Covid tiers were announced this week, with London going into Tier 3. Colchester stays in Tier 2, but only just, with as far north east as Maldon, Braintree and Chelmsford also moving into Tier 3 – and as if you need reminding, Tier 3 means no supporters at matches.
Letters from Wiltshire #22 by wessex_exile
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…hence I’m a bit late today, following the inevitable Christmas tree hunt – the decorating will have to wait until later I reckon. In the news, despite my confident assurance several weeks ago that Trump appeared to be grudgingly starting to accept that he had lost the US presidency election, he’s since doubled-down on his baseless accusations of election fraud – without obviously providing a single shred of evidence to back it up (and how could he, there isn’t any). His latest apoplectic tirade, just today, follows the Supreme Court telling Texas just where they can stick their egregious lawsuit demanding that Biden’s victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia be thrown out in favour of Trump. From a global perspective, it is deeply troubling that no less than 126 republican congressional representatives signed an amicus brief supporting the challenge. Trump will leave the White House in January, but they will stay at the heart of the US government, and I don’t think that’s good news for democracy, nor even the rest of the world. Ho hum…
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