It may not have been the performance we’d hoped for but I don’t think too many City fans will be unhappy with last night’s point.
While performance levels are far currently removed from those we’ve become accustomed to in the second tier under Daniel Farke, the fact City are jogging along nicely at not far short of two points per game should at least be a source of comfort.
We just need to hope the level of performance eventually aligns with the results rather than the ordinary form eventually being matched by points on the board.
It feels like it could go either way, although those who love their metrics tell me that in terms of shots and possession we lead the way. Maybe that tilts the balance in City’s favour.
But there is still plenty for those who like a moan to get their teeth into, not least the way we still happily cough up goal-scoring opportunities for our opponents.
It goes slightly deeper too.
The Class of 2019 (I know we need to move on but it’s impossible not to use them as a reference point) were very good at being unmoved by conceding, which was handy as they conceded quite a lot. Right now, a goal against, particularly when we’ve been in the ascendancy, rocks them back on their heels.
The rhythm is lost, passes start going further astray, and we look vulnerable. There remains an air of fragility, with setbacks not handled well and last night, but for the brilliance of Tim Krul, Ivan Toney’s looping header – minutes after his goal – would have made rendered it game over.
The goal itself was a howler of Norwich City proportions, starting from our own throw-in and with the added accompaniment of one of those laissez-faire passes in which Todd Cantwell specialises.
For the sixth time this season (we’ve conceded seven) it was ‘soft’. Again, our opponents didn’t have to work particularly hard for it or have to rely on a moment of brilliance.
Cantwell’s indifferent performance – that wasn’t the only stray pass – may have been down to the injury that required a late fitness test, but on a night when Farke was forced to play Jacob Sorensen as an emergency left-back, a solid, responsible, dependable Todd would have been preferable.
That Sorensen rose to the challenge and grew in confidence as the game went on was commendable, especially with relatively little support down that left side.
But Todd wasn’t alone in having an uncomfortable night. As a unit, Brentford edged it in almost every area and showed themselves to be the title contenders that they are. That we emerged from such a game with a point was the one big positive.
Also worthy of note was how much more cohesive we looked when, late on, we set up as a back three with Sorensen moving over to be the right-sided centre-back. It’s a formation that was denied Farke for most of last season due to the centre-back crisis but is one that’s often mooted.
While I have my own reservations – it leaves you vulnerable in wide areas when you don’t have the ball – there was a pleasing look to how it worked against Brentford’s formation, albeit it would work even better with Xavi Quintilla as the flying left wing-back.
Let’s hope his injury isn’t a serious one.
A back-three, depending on the opposition, could well be on the table moving forward, not least because it allows Farke to play a second striker and also accommodates Mario Vrancic as one of the three central midfielders. Two boxes ticked in one fell swoop.
We’ll see, but it seems that a fit Sorensen is going to be a useful addition.
It was also noteworthy that City’s late goal came as a result of a speculative effort from Kenny McLean – one that was in fact going wide.
While Farkeball is based on the notions of possession, precision and care – and most of us love that – there are times when it cries out for someone to go old school and do what that bloke in the River End says.
PUT YOUR LACES THROUGH IT!
So embedded is the noble principle of pass, pass, pass there are moments when the opportunity to pull the trigger or to ping a cross into ‘an area’ are passed up, sometimes to the detriment of a goal-scoring chance.
McLean bought a ticket, as they say, and it paid off.
So, a good point earned the hard way, and a glance at the table suggests we’re in decent shape. That we are where we are and we’re still moaning is, I guess, a positive sign.
Another big test awaits on Saturday lunchtime.
Bring on the Brizzle.