Where We Are
Last Saturday’s result was a major disappointment. After playing Port Vale off the park in the first half only to reach half-time at 2-1, the Valiants rallied and won 3-2 with a winner from ex-Sky Blue Chris Birchall. The defeat ended a 6 game unbeaten streak and once again the club failed to win a third game in a row.
However it has only come as our 2nd defeat of the season and overall we are performing above everyone’s expectations from the start of the season. Today’s fixture against Brentford is an opportunity to show that our recent form hasn’t been a flash in the pan as well as a chance to prove ourselves against one of the best sides in the division. It’s also important to win today as yesterday’s fixtures saw us slip back into the bottom 4 of the division.
The major news of the week has been related to the corporeal appearance of the previously unseen owner of the club, Joy Seppala. After talking to a select group of fans at Ryton earlier in the week, Coventry Telegraph political writer Les Reid also gained an interview with her, published on Wednesday. The noises being made have been that a return to the Ricoh is difficult for the club given the council’s unwillingness to negotiate a sale, SISU remain committed to financially supporting the club and that the main plan is to now build a stadium somewhere just outside of Coventry. For some this has been good news, for others it has confirmed some of their fears, as Simon & Garfunkel once put it ‘A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.’
The final thing to note from this week is that both Carl Baker and Billy Daniels are continuing to struggle with injuries that have left them doubts for the past few games. Pressley may either have to re-jig his formation to include Adam Barton or Mathieu Manset or finally hand Leon Lobjoit his debut as a direct replacement on the right of midfield.
Last Time We Met
This was during one of the final games at the Ricoh last season. Ryan Haynes made his debut at left-back and looked reasonably solid as Coventry asked a few questions of a Brentford side then challenging for promotion. After taking the lead from a Carl Baker penalty, Brentford equalised as the game ended 1-1. For City it was yet another meaningless result after our 10-point deduction. For Brentford, failing to gain 3 points ultimately cost them automatic promotion, then again they had many opportunities to cast this poor result aside right up until the final minute of the league season.
How Are They Doing?
After failing to achieve promotion both automatically and then in the play-off finals Brentford went on a summer shopping spree to ensure that last season’s heartache was a thing of the past. Their only major exit was Harry Forrester who left for Doncaster but was not entirely a regular starter for the London side. This season has been a minor disappointment so far, as of this morning they sit 11th after being tipped as 3rd or 4th favourites for promotion. 11th after 8 games though is far from catastrophic and they still have a lot of time to make up for a sluggish start, although some of their fans are beginning to panic.
Brentford have a reputation as one of the best footballing sides in the division. Their manager Uwe Rosler favours a similar style to our own, featuring passing and pressing, regularly playing midfielders in the back four. If Brentford have a weakness it is that their our at times wasteful in front of goal and can lack a plan B when things don’t go their way. Their away form is also traditionally quite poor, especially when compared to their exceptional home form, giving us hope of achieving a positive result here.
Their key players in defence are Harlee Dean and Alan McCormack. Both started their careers as midfielders but have moved into defence after moving to the London club. Both are physically strong and imposing as well as providing the team with a solid passing platform out of defence. This quality they have of being natural midfielders may make the less easy for us to press and they can close the door on us with their physical robustness.
In midfield their key man is ex-Everton youngster Adam Forshaw. Highly impressive last season he is a player who connects midfield and attack. An excellent dribbler and with a keen eye for a pass he has also chipped in witha couple of goals so far this season, a player who probably belongs in a higher division.
Brentford’s options in attack are eye-watering. In addition to Clayton Donaldson, who scored 18 goals in the league season, they have Will Grigg who scored 19 last season for Walsall and could cost them up to £700,000 after an announcement at a recent tribunal. The man who has been scoring most for them is Farid El Alagui who played under Steven Pressley at Falkirk and missed a lot of football last season due to injury.
Last week’s result put a real dampener on my optimism for this side as Port Vale managed to bully us out of three points. We have really struggled with teams able to impose themselves physically upon us so far this season, conceding 4 to both Bristol City and Preston as well as dropping points to Shrewsbury. As much as Brentford are a passing team they also have a large number of players in their first XI who are over 6 foot giving them the potential to bully our more diminiutive side.
The loss at Port Vale also have made me re-analyse our wins so far this season. Against Bristol City we played well but shouldn’t have allowed them to come back into the match after leading 3-0. Since then we’ve beaten Carlisle and Gillingham who both were out of form and confidence and Colchester who could barely put out 11 fit players. Perhaps I’m being paranoid and overly concerned about our performances so far this season, a win today would prove my concerns to be wrong, a defeat shows to me that we’re not as good as we’ve imagined ourselves to be.
My prediction is based on my worry that we’ve fooled ourselves into believing we were too good for this league, facing one of the better sides I predict that we’ll lose 2-1.