Opposition focus: Brentford have coped well with post play-off change
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Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has a lot of respect for the way Brentford have coped with selling a string of key players.
Both the Blues and the Bees punched above their weight to finish in the top six of the Championship table in 2014/15 – McCarthy’s men losing to Norwich in the play-off semi-finals and Brentford thrashed by Middlesbrough.
Since then, Ipswich have had to deal with some key injuries and the big money sales of Tyrone Mings and Daryl Murphy. They finished seventh last season but have been in the bottom half for much of this campaign.
Any disruptions at Portman Road pale into insignificance when compared to the huge changes seen at Griffin Park over the last 18 months though.
The West London club adopted a controversial statistical-led approach to recruitment and selection. Their play-off team quickly disbanded as key men Andre Gray, Moses Odubajo, Jake Bidwell, Toumani Diagouraga and Jonathan Douglas all moved on.
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Mark Warburton’s managerial replacement, Dutchman Marinus Dijkhuizen, lasted just nine games, then Lee Carsley had 10 games in charge before Dean Smith was recruited from Walsall in November 2015.
Last season’s ninth-place finish belied that chaos and, despite star man Alan Judge having been a long-term absentee and striker Scott Hogan moving to Aston Villa for £9m on January transfer deadline day, they continue to tick along nicely in the second-tier.
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“They are a bit like Norwich – they’ve scored a lot, but have conceded a lot,” said McCarthy. “One week they concede three or four, the next week they score that many. That’s their potential.
“They play pretty expansive, wide football. They can open you – as we saw when we went down there earlier in the season (a 2-0 defeat). But we were hopeless in that game, so I hope for a much better performance against them this time. They’ve got some good players and they are very capable.”
McCarthy added: “They’ve continued to play the way they play. It’s a smaller club, it doesn’t get great gates and I guess they have to take that money when it comes along to regenerate and keep going. They’ve done fabulous.”