West Brom are beginning to look like an outfit capable of making the jump back up to the Premier League after being relegated last season. Having won their last 3 matches, the Baggies will have been optimistic of continuing their impressive form in a home match against a struggling Brentford side. It looked as if they might achieve this when Barnes opened the scoring in the second half. The home side managed to defend this lead for 14 minutes only needing to cling on for a couple more in order to clinch the win, but they failed to do so when a 91st minute Brentford equaliser meant the points were shared.
Whilst this result will be a disappointing one for West Brom fans considering their side were so close to getting more from the game, they still find themselves in a decent position. They currently sit 3rd in the league looking in contention to at least secure a playoff place. The Championship season is a lengthy one with plenty of games remaining to alter the current standings. The Baggies will be hoping there’s still more than enough time to close the gap between themselves and those above them; leaders Norwich are currently only 5 points out of reach. Sides relegated from the Premier League often have high expectations in the competitive second tier and West Brom will be no different. Automatic promotion will be the ultimate goal but I’m sure the same outcome from a playoff campaign would also be satisfactory. Additional revenue coming from three televised matches, one of which would be in a packed Wembley stadium, wouldn’t go amiss for a side looking to strengthen in order to compete with established Premier League sides.
As for Brentford, not many would have predicted they’d be in their current position following the start to the season they had, only losing one of their first 8 Championship games. French striker, Neal Maupay, has been prolific for the bees this season with some spectators suggesting he could assist his side in a push for promotion. Only Nottingham Forest forward Lewis Grabban has a higher goal tally at this point. However, their recent form has been much less impressive as they, unlike West Brom, had lost their last three matches prior to today’s game. With the West London club dropping down to 17th place, their fight now looks to be more about avoiding relegation rather than going up as they’re only 4 points clear of the drop zone.
You have to feel some sympathy towards Brentford who have learnt of the damage a larger, more developed team can do when they come calling for your well-respected manager. Dean Smith spent 3 years with the club building a squad which was really starting to look like having the potential to go to the next level. He had them playing eye-catching football and producing results before exiting for former Premier League giants Aston Villa, following the sacking of Steve Bruce. Something which is perhaps bitter sweet for Brentford fans is the fact that Smith’s new side are only 8th in the league meaning a playoff place is far from guaranteed. If Villa were to miss out on this it would be a massive disappointment which could potentially put the managers position at risk. Time is no longer a luxury Smith possesses. At a large club like Villa success is expected and if it isn’t achieved almost immediately it is the managers who suffer the consequences. None of the last 4 bosses have lasted longer than 2 years with some, Tim Sherwood and Remi Garde for example, only keeping their jobs for a matter of months. This and the significant progress Smith made at Brentford could mean there’s a reasonable chance his move to the Midlands could be a step back rather than a move forward in his career.
Brentford certainly certainly look to be a side who have taken a step back from where they were this time just a few months ago whilst the Baggies look to be on the rise. However, today’s result showed no team in the Championship is to be underestimated. West Brom would have expected to secure a win against a deflated Brentford side but failed only emphasising how the second tier of English football is a league full of surprises.