Brentford v Cardiff: defensive struggles


Dean Smith

A section of Brentford fans are growing unhappy with Dean Smith and Richard O’Kelly’s management of the team and this blog can understand why. Left-back Tom Field, who has filled a once problematic position for the Bees is often substituted and the youngster’s departure was partly what turned the tide at Leeds last time out.

However, 14th is not a bad position to be in, considering that the club is at the lower end of the Championship spectrum in terms of budget. It would be unfair to say that Smith had been working with a top six squad, because they lost David Button and Jake Bidwell to their West London rivals in the summer. They also lost James Tarkowski and Toumani Diagouraga to Burnley and Leeds respectively in January, then Andre Gray and Stuart Dallas to the same two clubs before Smith’s regime.

The club’s summer transfer policy was to sign the best young players from League One, who are not necessarily above midtable Championship calibre, so this blog would argue results are as expected. Where the management team should take criticism, is in their reluctance to sign tall, physical players. According to WhoScored, the average age of their likely starting line-up against Cardiff is 24 with an average height of 181cm. Their central midfield, in almost every game this season, has consisted of Ryan Woods and Nico Yennaris and it is hard to see either striking fear into opposing midfields.

Cardiff provided more battling qualities in the first few games of Neil Warnock’s tenure, though they defended poorly in the 4-3 defeat to Barnsley last time out. They had plenty of experienced players on the pitch, yet still lacked leadership and organization, particularly when dealing with counter-attacks.

Some fans have called for Sol Bamba not to play for the club again after his on-field confrontation with Warnock. In some ways though, his best game for the club came against Barnsley – when he didn’t play, but it became evident how much the team needed him. Bruno Manga has class on the ball and good feet as well as pace, but is prone to the odd slip in concentration and some fans feel he could be more suited to a midfield role.

The Bluebirds have conceded 13 goals in their last seven matches while Brentford have shipped 14 in the same timeframe. Both managers have defensive issues to address.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 3-2


The Football Lab is sponsored by Classic Football Shirts.