Brentford 4, Manchester United 0

Image above: Heads you win: a great first half to be behind the Brentford goal

Second Season: United they fell

It was one of those rare afternoons that will stick in the memory; that you can’t wait to tell your children about and, if you haven’t any children, to get some. Not at all typical of Brentford if you review the ups and downs – oh, those heart-breaking downs – of its history, but a stand-out achievement in what may well be the start of a golden spell.

But that’s enough hyperbole. Here are the facts.

An inspired second-half Bees’ performance that gained a point at Leicester City the previous week had whet the appetite for more, especially as United brought with them to the Community Stadium Christian Eriksen, a Brentford hero until recently. United, having fallen 1-2 at Brighton and apparently suffering unrest among the playing staff, were still surely up for a bounce-back. A national newspaper tipped Brentford to win 3-0, but, hey, what did they know?

Yet United started sluggishly, while the home side was as frisky as a string of ponies. Questioning glances among the home crowd indicated that what they were watching was too good to be true. But it wasn’t.

Just ten minutes in, Matthias Jensen dispossessed Cristiano Ronaldo and slipped a pass that sent Josh Dasilva into a scoring position. Last week Josh unleashed an unstoppable drive; this time he shot weakly, with the least favourite foot of the two available, which a sprawling David de Gea allowed to sneak under his arms and into goal.

‘One of the best goalkeepers in the world’, shrugged a nearby Bees’ fan. Sarcasm this time. But, for de Gea, there was worse to come just eight minutes later when Jensen, having a field day, robbed Eriksen following a ridiculously- short clearance kick and smartly avoided the keeper with his shot as he dived the wrong way.

Image above: A bad day for Man United all round

To his credit, de Gea owned up to costing his team the three points in what he described as a ‘naïve’ performance by United. The naivety was, however, unending and highlighted by a Brentford crowd that dispensed mockery in the direction of Eriksen, presumably for having left Brentford in search of European football, United skipper Harry Maguire, for constantly being caught in possession, and Ronaldo, for… well, for being Ronaldo.

And we were still only half-an-hour into a game in which the home crowd was restlessly expecting another goal, a situation rectified when Ivan Toney, as inventive as ever, looped a header towards the far post, where new centre-back Ben Mee leaned his head in its way and recorded goal number three.

The best, as sometimes happens, was the last, when Jensen cleared a chaotic United attack to send Toney racing down the left. His stunning cross was met on the run by Bryan Mbeumo, who neatly left Luke Shaw in his wake and fired past de Gea.

Image above: … forever


A second half littered with substitutes – Brentford as rewards for a job well done, one suspects, and United in desperation – predictably lacked the   panache of the first, all provided by the home side.

Brentford showed that their new strategy for corners, when Mbeumo and Jensen huddled together before deciding who would take the kick and how, would work just as well with different couplings.

United strove to get a grip but failed dismally. Eriksen, in what for him must have been an especially disappointing game, pondered perhaps that he might inquire if the door was still open at Brentford. The visitors contributed their own five subs – including for Lisandro Martinez, big-money, small-statured defender – none of whom looked as if they wouldn’t really prefer to be somewhere else. Ronaldo, trudged from the pitch, lonely and alone.

New manager Erik ten Hag will have his work cut out, I observed to my mate Charlie. He really needs to adopt a totally new game.

‘What a particular game would that be?’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Raya; Hickey (substitute Bech Sorensen 80), Roerslev, Jansson, Mee, Henry; Dasilva (Janelt 80), Nørgaard (Onyeka 80), Jensen (Baptiste 74); Mbeumo (Wissa 73), Toney.

Manchester United: de Gea; Dalot, Maguire; Martinez (sub Varane 45), Shaw (Malacia 45); Eriksen (van de Beek 87), Fred (McTominay 45). Sancho (Elanga 63); Bruno Fernandes, Rashford; Ronaldo.

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor of the Bees United supporters’ group. Photographs Liz Vercoe

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