An American travels to see Championship playoff between Brentford and Middlesbrough

It would be remiss of me not to mention how enjoyable it was to watch Brentford play. Most teams in the Championship often rely on big, physical, ungainly strikers and their modus operandi often becomes the route one long ball to the target man. Brentford play an attractive style under their manager Mark Warburton, who will leave the club at the end of the season regardless of how the playoffs turn out after a dispute with the club’s owners. They only resort to long balls as a last resort and instead rely on slow build up play out of the back. After watching Spurs play all season and seeing match after match where the only creativity in attack was a pass out wide to Danny Rose, Andros Townsend or Kyle Walker followed by a cross into the box, it was refreshing to see the Brentford wingers (including on-loan Tottenham player Alex Pritchard who was magnificent and I cannot wait to see at White Hart Lane in the future) try cutting in and making some great passes to set up chances. They thrived off the energy of the crowd and really took the game to Middlesbrough after the goal. They won corner after corner after corner but could not turn that into a decisive goal. By the 80th minute I was secretly hoping that the match would never end as I was so won over by the atmosphere and Brentford’s free flowing attacking football. Mourinho, if you ever read this this, I hope you were taking notes from the Braemar Road Stand because that is how soccer is supposed to be played, even if your team lacks the quality to become serial winners. The Middlesbrough fans were very silent during this period but this was more than made up by the noise created by the Brentford terrace. Although I had never seen Brentford play before this match, I found myself biting my nails and breathing heavily every time either team entered the attacking third. I willed Brentford on with everything I had. That is how tight this match was. The stakes so high that every action means millions of pounds. The fans were on a knife-edge. It was more intense than any of the London derbies I had attended with Spurs. I found myself wanting Brentford to win more than I ever had with Spurs. It’s not normal I know, but that’s what the playoffs do to people even if they are supposed neutrals.

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