Brentford 4 : Derby County 0 – 14th April 2017

I approached this game with a sense of anticipation. I’d never been to Griffin Park before and this was also my first opportunity to witness “The Rowett Revolution”. A draw and three wins on the bounce is not a bad set of results for a new manager, especially given the mess that McClaren (or is that Mel?) left Rowett with. Perhaps all these perpetually underperforming players needed to succeed was a young, motivational manager with a flexible, common sense approach…? 
Well, not really, as it would transpire. This was to be one of worst performances I’ve seen from a Derby side in years. Having said that, it was not dissimilar to the abject performances we saw in the Brighton away game and the Blackburn home game. Or come to think of it, plenty of games under McClaren, Clement and Wassall over the past few seasons. Not surprising really, given it’s the same set of players. 
Once we’d consumed our traditional pre-match hot dog, purchased conveniently from someone’s front garden opposite the away end, it was time to squeeze into our seats and review the team news. An unchanged side again, which was not surprising after three straight wins. But the continued absence of Vydra and Hughes from the first team was a bit disconcerting. And had we really reverted back to 4-3-3 again?
I didn’t know much about Brentford but had heard people talk about Jota being pretty decent. The cynic in me influenced my prediction of a 1-2 defeat for Derby.
Right. The game. It was embarrassing to watch to be honest. Brentford simply passed us off the park. We were static, immobile, lethargic and completely lacking in tempo and commitment. They were the complete opposite of us and danced around us, through us and behind us, passing the ball around intelligently and to great effect. We were nowhere. We had no tempo, no commitment, no guts. Which, given Rowett warned the players about how Brentford would play before the game and reminded them to get at them, is particularly worrying. Five games into the Rowett era and the players have already proved incapable of taking instructions from their manager. 
The threats from Brentford came from all over the place. If it wasn’t Jota raiding down the right and all across the front line, it was Canos down the left or even giant centre half, Dean, cutting through our midfield like butter. We had a let off when Carson prevented an own goal from Baird but it was inevitable that Brentford would gain the lead before long. After 32 minutes, Vibe, the lone striker (a proper one, not like anything we’ve got) scored from close range. If there was ever a goal that was coming, that was it. We were awful, so predictable. Butterfield passed the ball neatly but always sideways or backwards and to no effect. Ince was surrounded by two Brentford players whenever he got the ball and was almost totally anonymous. Johnson again demonstrated his tendency to lose possession and not fit in that “warrior” role that McClaren rather ludicrously gave him. Bryson, nominally in an advanced role behind Nugent, huffed and puffed to no effect. Nugent despite one shot on goal was, ineffective, isolated and unsupported. The full backs lacked the ability to go forward and link up while also struggling with the mobility and intelligence of the Brentford forwards. It was all so familiar. 
Something had to change half time and thankfully on came Hughes and Bent. We improved a bit and managed to peg Brentford back to some extent but it was never particularly convincing. A tame shot from Russell was about the best of it.
And then it all collapsed after 70 minutes. Brentford were again knocking the ball around with aplomb and we didn’t show any particularly desire to interrupt the flow of beautiful, sharp, passing football. Jota ended up with the ball unchallenged on the edge of our area and rifled a shot past the static Carson. We had a great view of that from the other end of the ground and I couldn’t help but applaud. It was quality stuff but you couldn’t help think that we were making it easy for them. 
It was over as a game then. Not for the first time this season, any fighting spirit we had just disappeared and all that was left was capitalulation. Another shot from the edge of the area, this time from Vibe, went into the back of the net, again without any attempt from Carson to save it. Three nil. It was soon four nil, with Jota humiliating Keogh by flicking the ball round him and then outpacing him and slotting the ball past Carson. 
And that was it. All that was left was for the team to trudge disconsolately past the  remaining Derby fans that hadn’t angrily stormed out of the ground after the humiliation we had all just witnessed. For the most part the players just looked embarrassed. Rowett? He looked in a state of shock to be honest. I don’t blame him. Like a lot of people have said, at least he can be in no doubt about the challenge he faces with this severely unbalanced, dysfunctional and ineffective team. I’m sure he had a pretty good idea of what the real position was but at least the rest of us have been disabused of the notion that we can progress next season without major surgery. We were given a football lesson by a little team with few resources, no academy and a squad that probably cost a couple of million to put together. I hope Mel was there and reflected on the contrast between the young, hungry, skilful, committed Brentford players and the menagerie of over paid and under performing individuals wearing Derby shirts out there. Let’s hope he has an epiphany.
Let’s also hope Rowett bites the bullet and makes some dramatic changes for the Huddersfield game. Vydra, Anya and a couple of Under 23 players would be a good start.
Onwards and upwards.

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