Time for part two of the Brentford FC series, where I am now into the new year and six months into my managerial reign. Overall, things couldn’t have gone better and we are now sitting second in the league, through to the fourth round of the F.A Cup (where we were drawn away to Manchester City) and in semi-finals of the Carling Cup (where we face a two-legged tie against Nottingham Forest – winnable!). After a slow-ish start to the season, my formation is finally working; Andre Gray (my first-choice striker) is firing on all cylinders and racking up plenty of assists for the two widemen along the way – who have also got their fair share of goals. Here’s a full breakdown of the past six months with the Bees:
I’ve been slightly lucky in that the squad hasn’t been plagued with injuries this season, allowing me to keep a settled and consistent first eleven. Luke Garbutt has been an absolute revelation playing out of position at right-back too.Solid defensively and great going forward, I am very keen to tie him up permanently at the end of the season. Midfield has been solid; Lewis Macleod probably the stand out performer, going about his business quietly but efficiently. The front three are magical! Traore, Pritchard and Andre Gray have formed a destructive threesome and have proved themselves against the best, putting Liverpool and Tottenham to the sword in the Carling Cup. James Tarkowski, Nathan Ake and Humam Tariq have stepped-up from the bench when needed and Khouma Babacar, who i signed on loan in January, looks like he will provide sufficient back-up should Andre Gray suffer an injury.
After losing a few of the opening fixtures of the season and languishing down in 9th position in early September, I would never have thought second position, and an automatic promotion spot, would have been possible. However, after a fantastic run of results from November onwards, I’d like to think that we can now look to challenge Norwich for the title.
I tweaked the formation far too much during the early stages of the season, which i think can be attributed to our poor start. After analysing our performances however, i decided to stick with a narrow 4-3-2-1 formation – pushing the defence high, closing down more and exploiting the pace and creativity i have available out on the wings. Andre Grays links the play and drops back to collect the ball, dragging defenders out with him to create space, whilst Jota drops into the space and sprays the ball wide. As we adopt a narrow approach, Garbutt and Bidwell have been set to attack and provide the team with the necessary width. Though this leaves us slightly vulnerable at the back, Marcos Tebar drops back in to nullify any counter-attacks whilst the full backs look to hit the byline and cross for the striker and onrushing midfielders. The formation doesn’t vary much for home or away matches, I only adjust the tempo and the style of passing (from lower tempo to higher and short passing to direct).
Out of all the games so far, the results against Liverpool and Tottenham in the Carling Cup have to stand out above all. Yes, we conceded 6 goals over the two games, but to put 4 past each of them, especially at Anfield, was extraordinary. Our goals may have been slightly against the run of play against Liverpool, but we dominated Tottenham from start to finish and were even 4-1 up at one point. Aside from our cup exploits, it was difficult to pick out any real stand-out results as all were fairly consistent. A 3-0 at home to Ipswich and 4-1 win away to Millwall perhaps the best of the bunch and both came at critical points in the season.
Now it’s time to maintain our push for automatic promotion and hopefully beat Forest to get into the Carling Cup final. We’ve exceed expectations already this season, so barring any injuries to the first eleven, I am fully confident of at least reaching the play-offs. Come’on the Bees!
Stay tuned to see how the season pans out – the next update will be at the end of the season!