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Brentford 2 v 1 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
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.

Friday

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.

Form

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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E15Hoop added 15:35 - Nov 27
Clive: Taking all your logical points about successful development of players into consideration, can you explain to me why Warbling Warbs is so obsessed with sending Conor Masterson out on loan, especially given how short we are at centre half? Yes, he made a right ricket of the corner that led to the goal against Watford, but so did Chris Willock the other night in the lead-up to the Rotherha, equaliser the other night, and that didn't stop him from being top notch for the rest of the hour that he was on the pitch. I don't get how loaning him out to come up against slower league one cloggers is going to benefit him more than having to deal in a real match situation with Ivan Toney, Teemu Pukki, Nahki Wells (who he will obviously have faced often enough in training anyway) etc. Personally, I think young Conor has already shown an obvious improvement in his game already this season by actively coming out of defence looking for a positive pass forwards, and that yielded good rewards in both of the last two games. It seems that Warbs gets fixated on tick-box filling on occasion rather than being pragmatic and making the situation as it is work to best effect, and it makes no sense to me that he would risk what looks like as secure a partnership with Barbet as we're ever likely to find just to fit in with Warburton's self-prescribed "proper development theory".
1

ParkRoyalR added 15:45 - Nov 27
Adversity obviously inspires great writing - Wilfred Owen, Shuggie Bain, Northern...Adele...
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Northernr added 15:54 - Nov 27
E15 - Written before about how players develop for playing proper football. How you see an immense difference in somebody like BOS who has 100 games under his belt compared to say Goss who has none, even though one played for Blackpool and one for Man Utd. We saw it with Eze as he got past 50 and 100 apps. We’re now seeing it with Chair IMO. Masterson has still only played 19 games of senior football in his life, and I think what Warbs is saying is if Dickie and Barbet are both fit it’s going to be a crawl to 50 and 100 for him rather than a quick blast like Bright got at Blackpool, Eze at Wycombe, Chair at Stevenage etc.
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E15Hoop added 16:14 - Nov 27
I get that, Clive, but firstly that's a big "if", given how much of last season Barbet missed, and the possibility that Dickie is going to pick up a fair few cards (and possibly injuries as well). I also think that there's a major difference between the development route for an attacking player where confidence in getting past a man or seeing a piece of sublime skill coming off is a big part of their game, so mastering that at a lower level is a major benefit before trying that out on a bigger stage, and a defender who needs to be bloodied (literally in Masterson's case, given his broken nose the other night!) against a combination of skill, pace and physical presence. In the latter case, adapting quickly at as high a level as possible is of greater benefit than being lulled into a false sense of security by excelling at a lower level, and I think Rob Dickie's first few games this season are actually a good example of that, where we've seen him cruelly exposed pace-wise in a way that he probably wasn't at Oxford last season.
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Northernr added 16:18 - Nov 27
Well I think Warbs did say he would only do it if a back up could be sourced, and like last season if barbet does get injured he won’t be going anywhere. Let’s see how it goes, where he ends up if anywhere, then discuss it further. I’m torn on it as well tbh.
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E15Hoop added 16:25 - Nov 27
Fair enough! And isn't it a nice change to be talking positively about one of our young defenders rather than them being shipped out the back door quietly to fail at a lower level. Which reminds me, how is Cole Kpekwa doing these days...?!
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SirNose added 16:47 - Nov 27
How does one contrive to lose 18 of 19 on a Friday?
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Northernr added 16:50 - Nov 27
It is. And it’s nice that our players get decent EFL loans now quite often which wasn’t always the case. Have to confess I was a bit disappointed Gubbins only ended up at Oxford City.
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E15Hoop added 17:07 - Nov 27
Maybe there's some kind of weird Twilight Zone thing going on with the fact that their kit is practically identical to ours, although they actually beat Northampton the other day which we have frequently failed to do, as you know yourself from painful personal experience of seeing these past travesties play out..
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derbyhoop added 17:14 - Nov 27
Forest as basked cast??
Was that a deliberate misspelling?
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FrankRightguard added 18:38 - Nov 27
Gubbins isn’t starting regularly for them.
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Northernr added 19:25 - Nov 27
He was only there 4 weeks I think
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TacticalR added 20:21 - Nov 27
Thanks for your preview.

Clubs in this division can drive themselves a bit mad comparing themselves to Brentford. Brentford are quite exceptional in their use of statistics e.g. using 'randomness exclusion' to select Benrahma, and I doubt we (or many other clubs in the division) have anything comparable. Instead, it looks like we are using tried and trusted scouting methods to find players, plus Ramsey is creating a path for players to emerge. All the while trying to balance the books. Also worth mentioning that interview on LFW with the Bees fan who pointed out that had been leaking goals until they bought in Pontus Jansson from Leeds (so even trendy Bees don't rely completely on discovering unknown gems).
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