Richard Keogh is urging Derby County to play with more aggression and intensity following a 3-0 defeat against Brentford at Griffin Park.
A brace by Ollie Watkins after Bryan Mbeumo’s opener punished the Rams, who Keogh believed put in an “unacceptable” performance in the opening 45 minutes.
The Derby captain said the team lacked intensity and failed to play to their strengths which cost them in the first-half. Although he said there was improvement in the second-half, the damage had already been done.
“The first-half was unacceptable. We lost too many duels, didn’t play with enough intensity in our game, turned the ball over too much,” he told RamsTV after the final whistle.
“Everything that makes us a good team, we didn’t do in the first-half and they punished us for it.
“I don’t know if we gave them too much respect. I just know that when we play well and when we are a good team we play on the front foot and we are aggressive and get around teams because we have got quality in the team that we have. Our side of the football is good, but off the ball we need to be better.”
He added: “The second-half we played better, we were a lot more aggressive, took a few more chances and looked more threatening. Just our intensity was a lot better. We are not a team that cannot play like that, we showed last year that we need to play with intensity and aggression, that is when we play at our best and the first-half wasn’t good enough.”
Brentford’s momentum was accelerated with the timings of the goals, with the first two in quick succession and the third in the final minute of the half.
For the first, Keogh was on hand to make a goal-line block which fell to Mbeumo to pile in. Less than a minute and a half later, and the Rams were hit on the counter again and left wide open for Watkins to slot in.
The third goal came after a corner wasn’t cleared and a blocked shot fell to Watkins to fire in his second.
“The first-goal I blocked on the line then they got a little bit of luck and fell back to them. Max tried to do the same and it just ricocheted off him,” he explained.
“When you concede a first, you don’t want to concede a second. We turned the ball over too quickly and we are wide open. They are a counter-attack team, they keep the ball, but they try and hit you on the counter and we conceded the second goal far too quickly. We gave ourselves a mountain to climb.”
Despite the disappointment of the defeat, Keogh feels that there is a lot to learn from. The team now has two weeks to get to work on the training pitches in the first international break of the season.
“We will learn from this, it is the international break now, and the gaffer has spoken in the dressing room and told us what he expects,” Keogh said.
“We have got to work hard, harder than we have ever done before on the training pitch. A few of us are going away on international duty, but the lads have got to work hard.
“We have got a massive game when everyone gets back. This group has got a good mentality, but we just need to make sure when we come back after the international break we are ready to go.”