How do you top Saturday? Simple. Don’t repeat last season.

22 Oct

It’s an obvious question. The turnaround that saw Brentford go from 0-2 down with 84 minutes on the clock to end the game as 3-2 winners over Millwall was one of those ‘I was there moments’. See also: Burton away, Fulham away or the time somebody laughed at Mrs. Browns Boys. Oh well, as Meatloaf once sang… And the simple answer is that we go again. This time to Swansea City where an intense period of Championship action resumes this evening with the hope that we forget about 2018/19….

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What a finish on Saturday

It would be fair to say that whilst it probably can’t get any better than Saturday for The Bees, it certainly can’t get any worse than last season. Swansea were the Mrs. Brown to our sanity. An undefeatable nemesis whose performance against us in the FA Cup fifth round at The Liberty stadium was a humbling experience only made worse by their performance against in the League  at The Liberty Stadium. 

The 4-1 trashing administered in the cup, one which was earned from an Ollie Watkins inspired 0-1 HT lead. The turnaround in the second period was immense. Swansea scoring four times as they earned a quarter final at home to Manchester City, Daniel James earned a transfer to Manchester United and Neal Maupay earned the wrath of the BBC and (probably) Ian Moose. That after firing over late in the game .

The league game in April saw Brentford on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline in an encounter that had it been the proverbial boxing match, would have been stopped within the first minute after Nathan Dyer gave Swansea the lead with what even the BBC described at the time as “One of the fastest goals scored at the Liberty stadium”. Don’t forget, either, how we’d also lost the early season league game 3-2 after shipping three goals in an opening half hour that had already included a close to ten minute delay for an injury break. It would be fair to say that we were all well glad to see the back of Swansea City last season.

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Swansea in the FA Cup wasn’t good.

That was then. This is now. Swansea are riding high in the table. Currently sitting in third position and surely favourites for this one tonight. Surely? Well, having already buried last season’s away shirt ‘hoodoo’ (there wasn’t one, but if it makes the brown/orange haters, of which there were apparently a few, then all the better) with our form on the road this time out, Brentford had THAT morale boosting win at the weekend. Ollie Watkins is at the business end of the Championship leading goalscorer charts whilst Bryan Mbuemo is looking as though he could be our latest hidden gem, unearthed. Sergi may be injured but the likes of Pontus and Said lead the the charge of players with their hearts on the sleeve. Josh Dasilva has discovered his appetite for goalscoring and seems to enjoy the taste.

Hats off to those travelling. Long midweek journeys provide a very easy option these days via the medium of the Sky ‘red’ button. There’s also the lure of iFollow for those of you who like your coverage ‘old school’. The excitement of the team as Ollie did his thing on Saturday very much akin to the moment Mark Burridge exploded up at Blackburn after Jota went on that little sortie forward.

 I can’t call this tonight. The heart says Brentford. The table says Swansea. The Championship says anything can happen. All I’ll say for sure is that it can’t be as awful as last season. It can’t be exciting as Millwall. Can it…..?

Nick Bruzon

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It’s much more fun to win this way.

20 Oct

The greatest come back since Lazarus? Burton Albion away? Liverpool in the Champion’s League (take your pick of those – you may have heard mention of their particular ‘miracles’). The intensity of the turnaround at Griffin Park yesterday probably tops the lot. Whilst not a European trophy lifting moment or matching the relentlessness of our comeback against The Brewers, for Brentford to turn around a 2-0 deficit with 6 minutes left on the clock but end the game as 3-2 victors over Millwall was pretty, pretty good. Thomas Frank, unable to curb his own enthusiasm at full time, was quick to note that “It’s much more fun to win this way”. The boys in blue arresting a run in form that had only seen us win once since late August.

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Brentford – unbeaten in anniversary blue

And he’s right. They were words uttered on a full time touchline stroll as fans gave the head coach and his team a standing ovation. There were hugs from Saïd. Even handshakes from Matthew Benham as everybody came together once more to enjoy one of those moments that makes Griffin Park SO, SO special. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Imagine turning your back on all of this because it isn’t the set up of previous decades. Imagine not wanting to be part of this last hurrah. Imagine booing the head coach and demanding his head week in, week out. 

We aren’t Liverpool. We aren’t going to win every game every week. Sometimes we are a bit rubbish (Forest away last time out was tough viewing). Sometimes we are awful. That’s football. Yet when it all comes together there’s no place on earth I’d rather be. With my family . With my friends. With my team. A place where despite the many changes we’ve seen in recent years, on and off field, the heart of this football club is still there. Still beating strong. Still pulling us all together in a communal outpouring of joy the likes of which is still sending shivers running up the spine over 12 hours later.   Instead of joyless negativity then, personally speaking, my own preference is to focus on the positive and yesterday was about as positive as it gets.

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A belated and very happy birthday to my good friend at full time

What a game. What a start. What pressure. Ollie was returned to the right side of the pitch as Niko Karelis got that first start which had been suggested in yesterday’s article might be coming. Every now and again we call one right – it can happen. The set up looked much more balanced than at the City Ground. Surely it was only a matter of time before the goal came. Pressure built as The Bees turned the screw. Millwall not getting a look in. Karelis hit the post early on before referee Stuart Attwell then pointed to the spot for what seems an innocuous incident at best  – at least on first viewing – but let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. 

Urgh. We did. This is Brentford, innit. Ollie Watkins seeing his penalty well saved by visiting ‘keeper Bartosz Bialkowski. There was worse to come. Just before the half ended, Karelis went down with what looked like a sickening injury and was eventually stretchered off. The visiting fans showing their class, waving him off and singing cheerio as the rest of the ground gave the customary respectful applause reserved for such incidents – regardless of the team. 

And as the team readjusted, the Lions pounced. They’d not been in the hunt yet a rare foray into the Brentford box saw Raya unable to fully clear Molumby’s effort and Tom Bradshaw stabbed home from close in to leave the half time cuppas with a very bitter after taste. Typical Brentford. Dominate. Come close. So close. Slip up in a rare moment of defensive absenteeism. Stats and possession count for nothing if you can’t finish. Millwall giving the consummate demonstration as they took their one chance with aplomb. And their second. 

Mr. Attwell pointing to the spot once more after the teams had emerged. This time, Ollie Watkins adjudged to have wrestled his man to the ground. Raya unable to equal the save pulled off by his counterpart between the sticks and Jed Wallce doubled the visitor’s lead.  Painful stuff. Familiar stuff. Brentford dominant but somehow on the wrong end of the scoreline. “Where’s the midfield?“, shouted one supporter. “Up there with Natalie” replied another.

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Dougie was back for this one

Just as goals scored rather than possession and stats being the only true indicator of whether a team deserve to win is one mantra I live by, so is staying and playing until the end. So often we’ve ‘done a Brentford’ and spannered ourselves late on. See: Bristol City just last time out. Even more often we’ve taken it to the wire and pushed on. See: just about any goal Jota ever scored or Thomas and his own brand of attacking substitutions – last season in particular seeing him opt to go big rather than bringing on defensive subs in order to close out a match. And what a way to do it.

First up, Josh Dasilva. The midfielder coming off the bench to fire home from just outside the box with 84 minutes on the clock. It was a strike of precision – just as he had done against Bristol City – and gave hope for a barnstorming finish as we looked to pick up a point. Four minutes later, it was all level. Bryan Mbueno the man as his beautifully place shot from Dasilva territory seemed to drift over the defence, past Bialkowski and in to the far corner of the net. 

It all felt very slo-mo ; all very surreal. A split second wait for the random officials to wave a flag – it had happened early on in the half with Ollie called ‘offside’ as he found the net – but no. Nothing. Except an eruption of joy from fans and players alike. Get!! In!! We’d done it. Saïd Benrahma with the assist, along with an apparent deflection too, and a point all but assured. 2-2 from the unlikeliest of situations. Just please don’t cock it up from here. Please don’t ‘do a Brentford’. 

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Fans and players celebrate

You could see from the looks on the player’s faces what this one meant. How hard a level that they, and we, knew this battle had been fought at. But wait, like a  4am infomercial for the greatest hits of Country or a butcher’s knife kit, there was more. If Josh and Bryan had provided the ten CD set, it was none other than leading scorer Ollie Watkins who weighed in with the bonus extra. And what an extra. So much better than a 12 track disc of County duets.

With four additional minutes shown on the board, there WAS still time. Time for huge handbags in front of the Millwall fans as Attwell once more lost control. Time for passions to rise to even more intense levels than had already been seen. And when it came, with Ollie guiding home in the last of those additional minutes, Griffin Park exploded. The noise incredible. The relief, palpable. The joy unconfined. The noise intense. The smiles broad. The Lions silenced. The perfect payback for Karelis. The perfect reward for Thomas Frank who has come in for all levels of dog’s abuse so early in to a season in which his new squad is taking shape. Is readjusting to life without Maupay. The reaction from captain Pontus said it all. The grins from Ollie and Saïd, beautiful. Brentford up to 13th and now six points off the play-off zone. 

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Yesssssss. 3-2. 

With little over a quarter of the season gone, both ends of the table are still a long way off. We’ll play well and lose. We’ll pick up some jammy points along the way. I’m still not sure which way this campaign is going to go but it’s going to be fun getting there. As has been seen this season with the likes of Derby County, Barnsley and Middlesbrough, when we get it right we are simply wonderful. To that list you can now add Millwall. 

What a performance. What a result. What a moment. What a game that, you know what, we deserved to win.

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Nick Bruzon     

Here’s hoping a change in garb sees a change in form.

19 Oct

Phew. We’re back. International break has been and gone in a cloud of mixed results (England going down to Czech Republic and Gibraltar almost pulling off the mother of all come backs against Georgia) aswell as those awful ‘off-field’ scenes in Bulgaria. Domestically, Brentford have officially launched the special shirt that will be worn today at home to Millwall whilst Leeds United have followed suit with their centenary effort for the visit of Birmingham City. Something that is as stylish as it is impressive – mainly because it sees them kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon rather than at a time dictated by their Sky Sports overlords.

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Today is the day

First up, Griffin Park. Obviously. It seems an eternity since the 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest. Thank goodness. Primarily because it was about as turgid a performance as it is possible to see. From both sides. The teams were set up to cancel each other out and boy did they do that. A defensive glitch seeing the hosts take their chance when it came in an encounter that really put the stale into stalemate. 

The only lasting memory to take from that one being the long-term knee injury suffered by Sergi Canos. Boooo. That’ll happen though when the man-in-the-middle offers no protection to anybody and leaves his cards back in the Forest changing room. Urghh. Referees. Still, at least with Stuart Attwell at the helm today, we can be sure of quality decision making and consistency from the man in black. 

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Man in black, assuming he runs out in the traditional grab of course. Who could forget that it is Brentford rather than Millwall who are the ones who will be in blue today? The reason for that being to mark our first-ever victory at Griffin Park, back in October 1904. The 2-0 win agasit Millwall Athletic being the first time the Bees had genuinely deserved to win a home game and the shirt being worn today is designed to pay homage to that occassion. Let’s hope its not the last time we win a home game prior to leaving for Lionel Road at the end of the season.

Whatever your thoughts on this one (and I DO love it), it seems to have made rapid progress off the shelves. The limited edition boxes that came with the initial orders have already cleared out as fans pick up this uber-smart, and sponsor free, variant on our home colours.

For those baulking at the price (£60 for an adult shirt) look positive – at least it isn’t the £149 that Leeds United have charged supporters for their own centenary effort to be worn in today’s game against Birmingham City. My word, it IS lovely but that’s a sum of money even yours truly would have had to say no to. HOW can they justify it? How can fans afford it? I couldn’t. You could buy three or four away tickets at Elland Road for that price. Yet, the limited run of 1919 sold out in minutes and is now retailing on eBay for anything between £400-£2000. Not that they have any bids but at some point somebody will crack. Possibly.  

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Good luck with that…

Still, we digress. Back in West London, we’ll be facing a Millwall side who no longer have Neil Harris in charge following the manager’s shock resignation at the beginning of the month. He is a man as linked with the Lions as Harchester United and that toe-curling ‘run out’ song / goal music about jellied eels i.e. intrinsically. 

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Harchester United – did ‘The Den’ proud.

As such, his departure was news that caught everybody cold. The club moved quickly to put Adam Barrett, who had initially joined as a first team development coach, into the caretaker’s hot seat.

True to form in such situations, he immediately recorded a win – against Leeds United of all teams. Yet with the ‘caretaker first game victory’ out of the way (a result as predictable as Brentford in the play-offs or the curse of  ‘manager-of-the-month) , does this now open things up for us?

Whilst we are missing our talismanic Spaniard, the Lions have their own headaches. The first of which being the absence of goalkeeper Frank Fielding, injured in the aforementioned game with Leeds. As a Bees fan, I’m shedding no tears here – he’s quality. Except, perhaps, in that it means we’ve one less chance to pull the Big Book of Middlesex Chronicle 80’s alliteration from the shelf. Fielding foiling us from a free kick being one  line that can’t be used today.

The big question being who is going to be pulling the trigger today? If not from dead balls then certainly open play? 7(seven) goal Ollie Watkins, pressed into a role as emergency front man but filling his boots in the Championship goal scorer charts? Or more traditional striker Nikos Karelis? Nick the Greek yet to start a game since joining the Bees but now starting to put in the appearances from the bench as he picks up fitness. 

We love Ollie in our house. Almost as much as Sergi and Pontus. Personally speaking, I’m well happy if he continues in this position and I fully expect he will. However, it is genuinely intriguing to see what Nikos might do when given a bit more than a fifteen minute cameo to chase a game. Is he the next Neal Maupay? Might he be another Nick Proschwitz ? (yes, that DID happen). Or is he just emergency cover until Halil Dervisoglu rocks up in January? Whichever way he goes, there’s only one way to find out and that’s not by getting splinters in your arse. Roll on that moment of returning to full fitness so he can have a decent stab at seeing which way this one will transpire.

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Here’s to a few more of these later today

Elsewhere, the time away from these pages has seen Euro 2020 qualifiers dominate the headlines. England went down in the Czech Republic but put matters right against Bulgaria a few days later, coming one short of administering the brackets that go with a 7(seven) goal scoreline. As we are all well aware however, the result is the last thing anybody will remember from this game. The stomach turning sight and sounds of fascism and racism from the home support being images that are indelibly engrained on the memory.

Nobody needs a lecture from me on this – and you aren’t going to get one. We ALL know how vile this is whilst the way English conducted themselves does need to be applauded. Next stop, UEFA. And FIFA. Will the authorities have the balls to actually do something credible for once? Or will it be yet another pointless slap on the wrist? I pray for the former and fear the latter. Let’s see what happens…

On a more positive finish, Gibraltar lost in their qualifying group. Again. However, much as in the narrow 1-0 defeat to Republic of Ireland, it was a game that saw them playing out of their skin to come ‘oh so close’ against higher ranked opponents. This time, the visitors were Georgia who despite racing in to a 2-0 first half lead, saw parity restored before snatching a late, late winner at the Runway end of the Victoria Stadium. 

Yet rather than heartbreak for the boys for The Rock, it was a performance that should be viewed with immense positivity. Primarily because it was one of the most attacking displays I’ve seen them put in . Rather than ten men behind the ball and a series of stat building sideways/backwards passes, they pushed forward. With intent. The second period in particular seeing them put in a shift that caused even Mrs. Bruzon to note ‘They’re faster than Brentford’. I’m taking that as a compliment . Even at 3-2 down, they kept going and almost rescued a Euro 2020 Group D qualifying point.

It wasn’t to be, this time. It’s coming though. From small acorns…..

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Two Chipolinas. There’s only two Chipolinas. (and two Casciaros, two Hernandez’…)

Nick Bruzon

Sure, play detective. But this is the real story making football headlines.

10 Oct

And on that bombshell. My word, what a way for Thomas Frank to celebrate his birthday (Sergi’s new contract until 2023 rather than the belated, and obligatory, narcissistic greeting from Ian Moose – my good friend). Whilst the rest of the football world may have been talking about the social media spat – the polite word – between the current wives of Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy, over at Griffin Park it was the late afternoon kit reveal that was making all the headlines. Brentford will run out against Millwall next Saturday wearing a special edition kit designed to evoke memories of 1904. QPR tickets have gone on sale and for those of you wanting to catch up on the Kurupt FM takeover against Bristol City last week, this Saturday’s Soccer AM is your place.

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Great news !

However, we can only start with THE big news from yesterday. The story that just about everybody was talking about. Certainly, based on my Twitter feed. The sudden and unexpected dropping of a quite beautiful looking ‘third’ kit which will be worn by Brentford next Saturday.

Whilst Kitman Bob had hinted at something more to come during the pre-season build up, things had gone very quiet after the launch of our home and away shirts. Then, out of nowhere, this appeared yesterday evening.

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My. Word.

Obviously one needs to see it in the flesh but from the publicity stills and video alone, it’s an absolute class 10 /10 effort. My word. It really is stunning. If the current away shirt is special, and it is, all of a sudden it has become second best of this season’s kits next to this. Relatively speaking, of course A thing of sheer beauty and, even better, sponsor free.

The blurb on official tells us that:  we will mark our first-ever victory at our famous old stadium by donning a 1904-inspired third kit against Millwall on 19 October. Produced by Technical Supplier, Umbro, this commemorative jersey features a stylized crew neckline in spun poly fabric with printed tonal blue stripe, a gold woven crest and ‘Farewell Griffin Park’ back neck sign-off.

You can read that in full, here. Likewise, find the link to ordering one of these beauties, the first 400 of which come in a limited edition box.

I’ve no idea how historically faithful it is. Certainly, the blue we wore back then had yellow stripes whilst this one is more two-tone blue. Yet as discussed with one Ealing Road wag last night, it could be Donald Trump’s version of the truth and I’d still hoover it up. Indeed, the order has already gone in – despite the price tag. It is a heavy one this time around and I can well sympathise with those who may baulk at the £60 for an adult or £50 for a child sized effort. Certainly, compared to the prices that we are used to normally. Is this the cost of having a unique and (presumably) limited edition run? 

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We’ve been back to our past before. This, from 2004

Either way, it’s too special and too delicious not to add to the collection. I console myself with the thought that I haven’t bought the home shirt for a few seasons (until this time around) and will just have to lay off the pints before the Millwall game to protect the pocket. It’s a small price to pay. Top marks Kitman Bob. Top marks everyone. I love it !

Enjoy!

Next up, QPR away. Your latest chance to see Yoann Barbet give away another penalty. That’s at least three so far this season – by my counting. Your chance to catch up once more with Mark Warburton who, it has to be said through gritted teeth, has his team doing relatively well so far. Compared to normal form. It won’t last – don’t get excited. 

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I love a 237 derby and, it would be fair to say, we’ve definitely had the lion’s share of the results since our paths have crossed in the Championship. Sure, there’s been the odd slip up but, overall, it is the Bees who have the ascendency with 6 wins out of 9 in league and cup.

Monday October 28th is the date with ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ view upper tier tickets available already, before you get to the ones where you can’t see the away goal. Then ground floor go on sale. It’s always an odd way of doing things but there you go. At prices approaching Leeds United levels (£34 to see a Monday night game that is also on TV? ) you can get these now. 

Personally speaking, I’m all set. The month’s pocket money went in the space of an hour on a new shirt and match ticket. On the plus side, making the not so super hoops try and do Plan A better is always worth the entrance fee. Even if it does require a mortgage.

Finally, Soccer AM. I have to be honest they are two words that normally put a shiver up the spine. Not so much because of the ‘bantz’ but more as a result of the penalty shoot out performance from the Brentford fans at the end of the show on ‘Doncaster’ day. I can’t help but feel partially responsible for a ‘nil point’ performance that in no way was an omen for what came next.

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Soccer AM. Even HB made a first, off screen, appearance

The show is still going. And this weekend’s has all the fallout from the Kurupt FM takeover at Griffin Park on the occasion of the Bristol City game.  In their words, you can see ‘Chabuddy G & the gang wreak havoc’.

There’s nothing more to really add off the back of that. Roll on Saturday. Despite International Break. Enjoy. 

Nick Bruzon

Brentford lost in the forest.

6 Oct

That was 90 minutes we’ll never get back. Urghh. Brentford came away from Nottingham Forest on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline after a game that turned into an insomniacs wildest dream. That goes for both teams where despite a lot of huff and puff there were few chances and entertainment was at an absolute premium. The footballing equivalent of watching Mrs. Browns Boys with the volume on. Well, not quite that bad but it was certainly hard going. A masterclass in defensive solidity, with the exception of the host’s goal where they took advantage of some very generous positional play. The unmarked Ben Watson volleying home a corner that had been headed into his path by the unmarked Joe Worrall. And when The Bees had a rare break forward, Forest closed us down quicker than a small business post Brexit. Credit to them. Frustration for us.

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Defensive discipline at The City Ground

Positives? Are there any? Well we were up against one of the division’s form teams. They started the day in fourth and ended it in second. They are where they are for a reason. Sabri Lamouchi would pay Brentford compliment at full time and my guess is we’d all have been happy coming away from that one with a point. At nullifying a team with genuine aspirations for promotion. That a hard fought game on the road was the price to pay for remaining unbeaten. But that’s not how football works and that’s not what happened.

When the chance came, Watson took it. Despite over half an hour to go there was an almost palpable feeling of dread and expectation as to how this would now finish. That didn’t stop the Brentford fans from cheering the boys on. If anything, the noise was even louder in an attempt to drown out the singing that had finally started from the home supporters. Mind you, if ‘Mull of Kintyre’ was our ‘go to’ song, I can imagine we’d be quiet too. Hey, at least it’s not ‘Hi-ho Silver Lining’. Or some of the other dreadful efforts for the McCartney back-catalogue. ‘Spies Like Us’ or ‘The Girl Is Mine’, anyone? 

Dreadful film. Even worse theme tune

Yet despite the ever vocal exhortations from The Bees faithful there was no way through. Forest too disciplined at the back to be troubled by a somewhat off-colour looking Brentford forward line. Too quick to break and avert any threat of potential danger. Leading goal scorer Ollie Watkins drifting out wide time and again, leaving the central role vacant. Nikos Karelis given far too little time to make any impact. Sergi Canos forced to limp off the pitch with all our subs having been used.   

I saw a tweet from Brentford official whilst travelling home, quoting David Raya. His observation that “‘The game plan was going well at half-time, then we switched off for one second and conceded a goal” telling us all we needed to know about this one. Containment was the order of the day. Stifle the hosts. Pick up a point. We didn’t look close to threatening, let alone scoring. The one real save that home ‘keeper Brice Samba was forced in to making came when a Mathias Jensen free kick took a wicked deflection and momentarily threatened his unmblemished net. However, he moves well for a big man and was very much Forest’s Jensen interceptor.

Overall, it was poor viewing and a struggle on pitch. We’ve got great players and I’m utterly convinced it will come very good, very soon. Thomas Frank is a wonderful motivator and certainly has a challenge on his hands as to how he fits the pieces together. I’m not joining the vitriolic Twitterati in calling for a sacking. Anything but. However, he does have to figure out if Ollie Watkins is the solution to our centre forward conundrum, do we give Nikos a few starts (assuming fitness is not an issue) or is it just a case off hanging in there until January when the transfer of Halil Dervişoğlu from Sparta Rotterdam completes? Yesterday saw us looking dreadfully lopsided. It’s fine against the weaker teams such as Derby County and Barnsley. Not quite so good against a disciplined outfit. 

Either way, the international break is well timed. We can all cool off. We can all forget about a dreadful game of football. We can all put our feet up until visit of Millwall. At least, on the supporter side. I’d imagine for the players things may be somewhat different…..

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Nick Bruzon

The BIG questions answered by a very special guest as Brentford travel to Nottingham Forest…

5 Oct

Friday was an odd one. It was a day where all the weighty issues of the world were bouncing around my head. And that’s not a good place to be. For example… If one asteroid wiped out the dinosuars, why did the plethora of city-sized spaceships falling to earth at the end of the film Independence Day have no more inconvenient an effect than providing an invaluable cache of alien technology which was able to be reclaimed in time for the (unspeakable) sequel?  Whose version of a song entitled C’est La Vie is the best? With all due respect to The Stereophonics, and bypassing the suggestion of Robbie Neville from a fan of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea that I work with, this can only be won by the best band to wear double denim since Status Quo. Of course, I mean B*Witched. Most telling of all though, was the question of who carries off smart-casual knitwear the best? Nottingham Forest manager Sabri Lamouchi or Brentford head coach Thomas Frank. It is a question we may well be able to answer at the City Ground on Saturday afternoon.

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Great dress sense AND great music

The reason this particular thought had been turning over was c/o of today’s guest, Nottingham Forest fan and Absolute Radio DJ Matt Dyson.

Regular readers – should such a concept exist – will be aware that we’ve got the radio on in our kitchen. A lot. Combined with the unsocial hours kept by yours truly to churn this nonsense out, the radio is tuned to Absolute pretty much permanently.

It is something that has already reaped benefits, of sorts, when Christian O’Connell was able to finally put the question – Is Cameron Diaz a Brentford fan? – direct to the horse’s mouth. The result was categoric. Some might say catastrophic. Albeit one loaded with potential (you can find that here) although Cameron, if you are reading (you aren’t) or your legal people get hold of this,  I’m not for one second suggesting you look like a horse. That said, the clock IS ticking on your chance to visit Griffin Park. Get yourself over. I have it on good authority there is a permanent seat reserved for you.

We digress. As ever.  The co-host of the Dave Berry Breakfast show on 105.8 FM and DAB digital (apparently) is a long-time fan and very vocal supporter of The Tricky Trees. The highs and lows at The City Ground are a regular topic of discussion in the morning, aswell as on the weekend’s Rock N Roll Football along with fellow Forest fan Matt Forde.

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Matt Dyson – right. Co-host at breakfast wit Dave Berry

As such, who better to ask for his opinion on today’s opponents for a Brentford side very much looking to bounce back from what we will diplomatically describe as our ‘tactical meltdown’ in the last few minutes on Wednesday night? With his team flying high and his talk of Lamouchi playing havoc with my thought process, here’s our Q&A with Matt…..

Ten games in and the fledgling table is now deemed to have ’taken shape’. Nottingham Forest are two points off the top in fourth place (effectively third given Leeds United will start their annual choke at some point).  What’s happened at The City Ground?  Well, having changed our manager (and then the entire squad come the transfer window) every six months for what seems like the past decade, we’ve finally stumbled upon a good one! Sabri Lamouchi has effortlessly adapted to the Championship and he has instilled a great sense of confidence into the squad and an ability to play attractive attacking football.  Happy days.

Recent seasons have told us to expect mid-table at best. Can you hold your position? Until our incredibly brief stint at the top of the table towards the end of last month, we hadn’t reached the summit for 5 years.  That was when the legend Stuart Pearce was in charge. And while, at the time, we expected that form to tip (as tended to happen with Psycho’s teams after the honeymoon period ended) I’m not getting the same feeling this time around. I don’t want to curse us, but we look like ‘the real deal’ this season. We’re grinding out away draws even when we don’t deserve them. The players seem super confident.

What price Lewis Grabban? Brentford infamously game him away on a free a few season back , only to see his value increase with just about every subsequent move. What is he worth to you now ? He’s invaluable – the only thing that could seriously derail our season at this point is Lewis getting injured. He’s a wispy bearded behemoth of a striker. Grabbing goals left, right and centre. Brentford’s crazy loss was eventually our gain.

Who are the Nottingham Forest danger men? The aforementioned Grabban, the excellent left footed wing wizard, Joe Lolley (there literally ain’t no body like him) and the tiny Portuguese prince, Joao Carvalho.  But, in my opinion, our new sense of confidence stems from the back. The partnership of Michael Dawson (Forest past) and Joe Worrall (Forest future) had been an option for previous managers but they had other ideas. This blend of youth and experience is the backbone of Sabri’s red and white army.

Ahh, yes. Sabri Lamouchi. Is there a more wonderfully named manager in English football? What does he bring to Nottingham Forest that previous incumbents of the City Ground hot seat have struggled to do? Like I’ve said, he’s instilled confidence, made good signings and seems like our coolest manager since Cloughie. He rocks turtleneck knitwear in an effortlessly stylish way.

Brentford v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship - Griffin Park

Who will win today’s battle of C&A?

Tottenham got thumped 7(seven)- 2 during the week in the UCL. What is the correct use of brackets to reflect this. 7 (seven), 7 (Seven) or 7(SEVEN)? (SEVEN)

Author’s note: one can only presume Matt has not fully understood the question. As we all know, the correct answer should be 7(seven). Shouldn’t it? Can’t just be me….

The League Cup. You slipped up by the odd-ish goal in five at Arsenal, a similar fate to the one we suffered last season. Is there any point in this anymore, though? The League Cup, rather than Arsenal. Or should we just put it out of its misery?  We’ve done very well in the competition in the past, so I don’t want to ditch it. Those glorious trips to Wembley in my youth, for a cup final sponsored by a catalogue shop or an electrical goods rental store, were priceless. But if teams are going to play their reserves in the early rounds they should tell fans in advance. Going straight to pens after a draw is a step in the right direction, but a reserve team tournament is of no interest to anyone.

The big game….

I’m heading up by train and fancy downloading a movie. Which is the greatest football film ever made? Escape to Victory – John Wark’s inexplicable time to shine on the silver screen.

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We can win this….. Stallone and Wark stand shoulder to shoulder. Amazing !

Curses. My Netflix subscription has run out. I’ll make do with a podcast. Which episode of the Dave Berry breakfast show from 2019 should I listen to? Just subscribe and get all of them. Or listen live on Absolute Radio and pick which decade’s music you want to go with it. It’s ground breaking technology, so take advantage of it. Or listen to the Gameweek fantasy football podcast (which I do with my old mate Dan Prior) if you indulge in the anti-football stat-based weight around your neck that is the Fantasy Premier League. The Rock N Roll Football podcast with me and Matt Forde is also worth a listen.

Are you a Hooters man? Or is there another pub you can recommend to us travelling fans?  I used to frequent it occasionally. It’s just a family restaurant with a slightly saucy mystique. If you like being served chicken wings by women in Lycra head there.   But I think all away fans should be forced to drink in that soulless crappy looking pub at Meadow Lane (home of Notts County).  The Broken Wheelbarrow is built into the ground and looks like a hideous new build social club. Please try it and give it a rating on trip adviser

Finally, who’s going to win this one and what’s the score going to be? We should edge it 3-1. Sorry.

Thank you Matt. Very much appreciated, even if you are wrong about brackets. Regardless, this has all the elements of a cracker today. With man-to-watch Dawson, missing through injury does this give Brentford hope or will Grabban come back to haunt us? Roll on 3pm when we find out.

I can’t wait for this one. See you there. Perhaps in The Broken Wheelbarrow….

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Nick Bruzon   

A tough one to take after a night of one way traffic.

3 Oct

Brentford 1 Bristol City 1. It is a score which does nothing to illustrate the performance of The Bees over 87 of the 90 minutes before a late, late equaliser, gifted to the visitors on a plate after a self-inflicted formation change, saw two points very much dropped. Brentford dominated and the stats more than bear this out. Yet as we’ve said many times, goals are the only thing that count at full time and all the wonderful play, brilliance from Daniel Bentley, domination and shots count for nothing if your opponents score as many, or more, than you. There’s a lot of positives to be taken from this one ahead of the trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday aswell as a few very valuable lesson learned.

First up, credit to Bristol City. Let’s not sound like we’re full of the sour grapes enjoyed by the likes of Steve Evans and Russell Slade back in the day. Whilst Brentford clearly had the lions share of possession and chances, it wasn’t one way traffic. The Robins set up to defend and almost caught us on the break in the first half. Rico Henry losing the ball and a lightning fast counter attack saw David Raya making a fine save one-on-one, when a goal was all but chalked on. In the other goal, Daniel Bentley was on inspired form. Save followed save and chance followed chance as the former Bees ‘keeper and his five man defence did everything to keep out the rampaging red and white hoard.

The goal, when it did come, was quite magnificent. Josh Dasilva curling a wonderful effort into the far top corner from outside the box. It was a strike that was as tasty as a freshly toasted bagel smeared in marmite, crunchy peanut butter and fake plastic cheese i.e delicious. The celebration was equally emphatic. Arms out high, he  ran to the Braemar Road side with players coming from all directions to leap on the midfielder in congratulation. 

For me, the smile on the face of Pontus Jansson said it all. A man who wears his heart on his sleeve at all times, you could see what this one meant to our captain as he joined the ever growing pile of players. A grin from ear to ear mirroring just what the supporters were feeling. Contrast that the look in his face at full time after ‘that’ equaliser had salvaged a point for Bristol City. He cut a distraught figure in the centre of the park, taking in what had gone on around him. I do wonder if words were exchanged in the dressing room at full time, and towards whom, or whether it one where we have to recognise the calibre of the opposition and our own performances which are improving. 

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View from The Braemar – Josh celebrates (somewhere)

I guess the frustrating thing is not so much that we conceded a late goal after battering our opponents without reply – that’s just one of the many elements that make being a Brentford fan what it is – but more that it just seemed so needless.

The 4-3-3 that we’d employed to such good effect at Barnsley and then again last night, was ditched with the fat lady performing her vocal warm ups. Sergi was replaced by an additional centre back in Ethan Pinnock on 83 minutes as we switched defensive formation. Four minutes later, with the team already looking stretched despite the additional numbers in the back line, Andreas Weimann was given all the space he needed to get on the end of Jack Hunt’s long cross and leave Raya with no chance.

Bristol City had their chance. They took it. Well done. That’s how football works. We could, no should, have wrapped this one up against a well disciplined and solid team. Instead, that combination of great goalkeeping, intense defence and plain old ball luck kept them in it until the opportunity arose. And when it did, my word they grabbed it. The celebrations were as ecstatic as our own had been. Understandably so. Even then, Daniel Bentley still had to be on his game to keep things level, tipping over a dipping cross from Dalsgaard late on in the last meaningful move of the match. And that was it. 1-1. Full time.

Waking up on Thursday morning it was very much a case of the ‘D’ word to describe this one. ‘Disappointed’ rather than ‘deserved’. As in, to win. There were plenty of positives to be taken but a single point instead of the three we looked like taking for huge swathes of this game feels like the metaphorical nuts. It did last night and there’s still a numb feeling down there today. Metaphorically speaking.  When you can’t even find room, or motivation, to talk about the Kurupt FM takeover at Griffin Park then you know it’s been a hard one.

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Add your own punchline

But, we didn’t lose. The table has now ‘taken shape’ at the ten game mark and we are 15th. We are getting much better as new faces and returning heroes adjust to life without the likes of Sawyers, Bentley, Maupay and McEachran swell as each other. We have a trip to fourth placed Nottingham Forest on Saturday where, if we can hold our defensive shape and maintain the same level of positivity going forward, our rise up the table will continue. Probably. 

Brentford are six points off the promotion pack. I can’t wait for the weekend when we see if that gap can be further reigned in. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Will it be raining goals once more?

2 Oct

Hot on the heels of thumping Barnsley, Brentford host Bristol City on Wednesday evening in game 10 of a Championship season that will finally see the table have officially ‘taken shape’. Both teams know what a win could mean – for the Robins, a chance to enter the play off zone whilst another three points for The Bees should see us hit the top half of the table and overtake Birmingham City (who lost another one last night – good luck there, Josh).  Leeds United have retained top spot but despite their game being televised, I know I’m in shock too – I can imagine most neutral observers would have been watching Spurs in the Champions League. That one, of course, saw Tottenham suffer the indignity of a home bracketing as they went down 2- 7 (seven) to Bayern Munich.

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Looks familiar……

As ever, we can only start at Griffin Park. Sunday was as morale boosting as they come for Brentford. The performance – opening quarter aside – was about as dominant as they come. Barnsley weren’t even second and struggled to get close to us. Ollie was our hat-trick hero but there were plenty of superstars out there beyond the headline maker. He’s currently joint top scorer in the Championship with 7(seven) but if he wants to stride clear of Aleksander Mitrovic then he’s going to have to beat former colleague Daniel Bentley. Of course, now plying his trade at Ashton Gate following his sale to Bristol City over the summer.

That’s not going to be easy. In his three season at Griffin Park Daniel was, largely, magnificent. Sure, there were a few wobbles last season but on the whole he was about as good as we’ve seen between the sticks on TW8. I remember BBC Billy Reeves making a very early declaration that he was our best ever and, whilst time may have forced us to slightly redraw that balance when compared to the legend that is Wojciech Szczęsny (to this day, I still do now know how we pulled that one off) for me, Clive, he’s certainly in the top few. A great shot stopper with cat-like reactions who we’ll be doing well to find the back of the net against. Perhaps we just need to pump those crosses into the box and shout ‘punch’ in a West Country accent.

So who will win the battle of the badges tonight? Let’s hope our crest is the only Brentford thing the visitors try to emulate, based on our performance at the weekend. Or perhaps they could pick up where they left-off defensively – shipping three goals on the road in a draw at Preston that saw them surrender the lead twice. Personally, I’m calling this one as another win for the Bees. The formation at Oakwell suited us wonderfully and we all know what the widemen did where the pace was electric and the delivery pin-point.

I can’t wait for this one. The modern day Michael Fish at the BBC have promised us a break from the recent downpours whilst Griffin Park always feels that much more exciting when the floodlights are on. Walking past the ground this morning on the school run, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky although do pack your gloves. Sergi, I’m looking at you in particular.

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Could it be raining goals in West London tonight ?

The win is there to be grabbed and the table is about to have become the true barometer of our rival’s ability. The draw with Stoke City L can formally be deemed a disappointment (they went down, again, last night and are rock bottom on two points) whilst we’ve already taken on table toppers Leeds United and missed out narrowly. It’s going to be tight. It’s going to be tense. But it’s going to be fun. See you there.

And in true Columbo style, just one more thing. Or should that be 7(seven)? Spurs were humped by Bayern Munich last night, leaving to a chorus of boos after the German giants hit the magical bracket mark. As if going down by this many in your own back yard wasn’t bad enough, Tottenham even had the temerity to take the lead before allowing the floodgates to open.  And what a way to rain goals as the heavens opened.

Cue obligatory shots of fans sitting in solitude at full time  – is there any more wonderful a piece of camera work in world sport? A shot akin to the sudden zoom that follows two ‘treble-twentys’ in darts. The camera lurching forward in anticipation of capturing the 180 scoring arrow in extreme close up. Probably not. Unless you support the team that has just suffered that footballing humiliation. And last night, it was the Spurs players & supporters left typing “We go again” into their social media accounts.

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Nick Bruzon

Bees hit Barn door with abandon. Three goals and three points on a very Super Sunday

30 Sep

Well there you go. How about THAT for a Sunday lunchtime treat ? Brentford blew Barnsley away in a game that was as much dominated by Ollie Watkins head as it was the weather. Horrific conditions at Oakwell were no barrier to a Bees team that despite conceding the first goal before most of us had even sat down, ended up disappointed to have ‘only’ scored three times. There was to be no curse of the cameras and none of the way day blues that we suffered last season. Two wins on the road under the belt already and we’re still in September. All of which means that with the table one game away from being full formed (Wednesday night at home to Bristol City sees that mark being attained), we’re up to 14th in the Championship. One place behind Birmingham City and six points away from the play-off zone. For the record.

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We’ve had worse afternoons… Brentford ‘official’ put this one up on Twitter at FT

It was a stonker of a game. The hosts held all the cards for the opening quarter hour and opened the scoring with the clock having barely registered a minute gone. Cauley Woodrow curling one in from distance with the defenders, perhaps guilty of standing off, but still the player with no real right to score from there. Yet he did.

What an effort. Credit where it is due, he hit it well. Very well. David Raya on the six-yard line had no chance and the net rippled to the sound of groans all round the pub. The pub, given as there was no pretence at being even close to making this one. At least we had a nice lunch to console ourselves with. And Guinness. And warmth. 

One nil down and it could have been two. Barnsley started off at 100mph. Brentford getting used to their new look 4-3-3 formation. It was a formation we’d hinted at yesterday, suggesting that Kamo would be back and noting “Any line up change will likely be in midfield with the rest of the team pretty much picking itself. Is there room for Nørgaard, Jensen and Mokotjo in the centre?

Hey. Make enough guesses and sometimes you get things right. Although, to be fair, it’s been crying out for this sort of change. And sure enough the Bees began to find both their way and their feet in the slippery conditions.

Just after half an hour gone and it was 1-1. Ollie Watkins, with his head, from a Jensen cross. It should have been two at half time with the post, then the crossbar denying our goalscorer twice in as many seconds before Benrahma somehow steered it wide from ten yards out.

Ooooh, Oooohh, Nooooooooo went the collective groan around the pub. Even Sky chalked it up as a goal, momentarily, before resetting their graphic. So close yet so far. What can you do? Instead, the half ended with scores level and Brentford having weathered the early storm. No irony lost on that one given the Biblical deluge (is there any other sort?) unfolding over the stadium. 

Whatever is is about the away end at Barnsley, it must be infectious. If the hosts had come out the traps flying to open the scoring in the first half, the Bees were even quicker in the second. Sergi, electric down the right and playing a much higher line than in recent weeks, delivering an inch perfect cross to Ollie. He made no mistake with his head from close in and that was it. 2-1!! The Bees in the lead and one which they showed no signs of surrendering.  

On we pushed. The home side being out passed and out manoeuvred. Sergi breaking with abandon. Balls being delivered from midfield with all the finesse of Paul Daniels pulling the lovely Debbie McGee (TM) from a seemingly empty cabinet. A third goal was inevitable and when it came, it was an almost carbon copy of the second. Sergil delivering from the right ; Ollie close in with his head. Back of the net !! Liquid football (although that could has been as much due to the rain). 3-1 Bees. Get in there you beauties!! What a moment. What a finish. What a hat-trick. 

What a goal, daddy. What. A. Goal.” You can thank HB for that one. The intonation in his voice a thing of beauty. But he’s right. A wise head on six year old shoulders and if for no other reason than it saw Ollie rise to the top of the Championship goal scorer’s chart. No player has more than the man thrust into a makeshift role yet looking more and more comfortable with each passing game . As Thomas Frank would note at full time, “We’ve been working very hard with him to arrive in the box in the right positions and he definitely did that three times today…..I think he has all the qualities needed to play higher. That’s why we’re very pleased that he signed a four-year contract with us a month ago. Very clever! 

Sam Saunders on pundit duties was equally effusive but it was one of those performances, as always seems to be the case when we get ‘good’ Brentford, where overly singling anybody out would seem trite. Sergi and Ollie will, understandably, grab all the headlines but this one is as much down to the formation and the team’s ability to keep their heads held high in awful conditions after that horrific opener. Collectively, about as positive a performance as one could hope to see and what a reward to all those supporters who had made the effort to travel for this one.

Three points are in the bag. The Bees are back in West London. Next up sees the visit of Daniel Bentley and Bristol City on Wednesday evening. With The Robins flying at present, can Thomas clip their wings and see Brentford hit the top half of the table?

See you there when we find out ! 

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Thomas and Sam do their thing in the rain at full time

Nick Bruzon

Will Sunday Service resume? Have faith in our boys. Whoever they are.

29 Sep

Here we go. 7am Sunday morning and Brentford fans are beginning the trip to Barnsley. Personally, it’s a journey too far for yours truly. This one was covered off yesterday but, in summary, was a decision ratified the exact same second the people at Sky Sports Leeds decided to move us to a lunchtime kick off. That’s football these days and things could be worse. We might be suffering the vagaries of VAR being experienced by those teams a division up. With a rare period of Saturday sofa time able to be enjoyed yesterday, it was an excruciating afternoon of stop-start football as game after game was delayed (Aston Villa and Bournemouth providing the prime examples)  for this much maligned analysis of wafer thin decisions that would have been otherwise imperceptible to the human eye.

Choose your own VAR graphic

Still, at the moment any hope of being caught up in VAR frustration is a nice dream to have. First priority has to be getting back to winning ways. Brentford haven’t had as strong a start as hoped for, certainly given the way we finished last season, and two wins from our opening eight games isn’t form to set the world on fire. We’ve looked wonderful in places. Abject in others.

The decision to sell Neal Maupay was a huge one, no matter how much this was out of our hands (ahh, the joy of agents), which we’ve been slowly adjusting to. Said Benrahma missed a significant period out recovering from injury although is now back and itching to prove his invaluable role in this team. We’ve also been short of two midfield giants. Romaine Sawyers is currently top of the league at West Brom whilst Kamo has had to be content with a place on the bench following his own return and recovery time from an extended African Cup of Nations over the summer. 

Players need to recharge, of course, but I cannot wait to see him back in regular action. He was immense last season and surely, today, is the perfect opportunity for Thomas to shuffle his pack? If there is to be a switch in line up after three games unchanged then his is the obvious name. I’d love to see him start this one, although would be intrigued as to who makes place?

Likewise, it’s probably a bit too soon for Nikos Karelis to be starting a game although I’d expect him to put in an appearance from the bench at some point. We all know how well Ollie Watkins has done in adjusting to his new role but one can’t help felling it is only a short term positional change until we have a more traditional centre forward available. Then again, this is Brentford so who knows.

I had a message from an observer on the New Road last night that simply read ‘4-4-2’.

For a moment I thought he was live-scoring with the Strictly Come Dancing judges but after a moments reflection I questioned two things. 1) How did he know I was watching Strictly? I wasn’t, for the record. Just happened to be in the room at the same time as Mrs. Bruzon had it on TV. 2) It was actually his own suggestion of formation at Barnsley but would we ever go this far? 

Not a hope. There’s more chance of me watching ‘Strictly’. Something that hasn’t happened since the exact same second their best, ever, competitor in Judy Murray was voted off. The show has been dead to me since that moment. Nobody could reach the level she attained, although David James gave it a mighty fine stab last night and deserves to be booted out just for the gratuitous amount of chest hair on display. Not that I was watching. 

TX8 RESULTS SHOW

Safer with Anton than David. Don’t drop….

See also: Wagner being kicked out of the X-Factor. Not one of all those to follow in the illustrious footsteps of the (apparent) singer or dancer has come even half way close to emulating their efforts. If you are going to take part in these trials by TV then at least do it in style. As these two did.

You’ll be doing well to find a better moment than Anton du Beke precariously slinging Judy around a ballroom or Wagner making the effortless segue from ‘She Bangs’ to ‘Love Shack’ whilst positioning himself behind a giant pair of bongo drums.

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Love shack, baby…. Better than a 0-0 v Stoke City

But we digress. Radically. The point being that Brentford won’t play anything as traditional as a 4-4-2 line up. No matter what prediction has been made by my fellow fan. So it’s Ollie or Nikos to start and, of course, it will be Watkins out of those two. Instead, any line up change will likely be in midfield with the rest of the team pretty much picking itself. Is there room for Nørgaard, Jensen and Mokotjo in the centre? Could any change to accommodate the South African come elsewhere? Or does Thomas keep faith with the team that destroyed Derby County but then struggled to break through against Preston and Stoke City?

One thing’s for sure, don’t take the advice of the numpty if you are looking for tactical insight. As we know full well, Brentford make a habit of constantly surprising us. On and off the pitch. Three games with a settled team is lovely but with a squad chock full of new and familiar faces, could something give when the referee gets proceedings underway at Oakwell? Roll on the 12.30pm team announcement (or 12.32pm on ‘official’) when we find out.

For those travelling to Barnsley, hats off and well done. It is a supreme effort when the game is, of course, available on BBC Radio London DAB or Sky Sports. The later of which is also being shown in the shadow of our own stadium at The Griffin pub.

Billy Reeves, Claire & Gerhard or Simon & Billy (Grant). Whoever you spend your afternoon with, enjoy the game. Win, lose or draw the season remains young and the table is still forming. There’s a LONG way to go in this campaign. Leeds United started at 100mph but things have started falling apart and the Elland Road outfit have dropped from 1st to 4th after picking up 4 points from the last possible 12 available. Beat Barnsley today and we’ll be on better form than Bielsa’s boys following our own 4 from the last 9.

Leeds will come good again. As will we. Starting today. I’m hugely confident about this one and am calling it now……. Away win.

The online bookmaker I use for research purposes also agrees and has us as ‘odds on’ favourites (marginally) at 19/20. Whilst not a game to bet the mortgage on, I take confidence in their faith. Let’s hope Sunday service is resumed at Oakwell.

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Let’s hope Brentford are more competitive today

Nick Bruzon