FA Cup showcases the future. Some still living in the past.

25 Jan

Congratulations and well played Leicester City. Brentford exited the FA Cup on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline but can be more than proud of the performance on Saturday afternoon. Not for any patronising or ‘plucky Bees punching above their weight’ related reasons but simply because of how comfortable our B-team heavy side looked against the team currently third placed in the Premier League. With West Bromwich Albion making it through to continue a battle on two fronts, after their own win at West Ham, how crucial could the experience (and confidence) gained today prove to be in the all important run in to the Premier league? And whilst not wanting to give the oxygen of publicity to crazed opinion, Thomas Frank absolutely nailed it today despite the provocative clickbait dangled by one BBC London journalist looking for nibbles.

Saturday was awesome. It summed up the very best of our club from start to finish. Yes, Thomas Frank named a team that still leant heavily on less familiar players. Benrahma, Watkins. Pontus, Jensen, Raya and Dalsgaard were among those nowhere near the squad. Rico, Pinnock, Mbeumo, Norgaard and Josh Dasilva on the bench. However, the opening ten minutes aside, Brentford more than matched the former Premier League Champions. Being honest, we can feel hard done by after not even coming away with a draw. Luka Racic seeing a wonderful second half attempt tipped over, Emiliano Marcondes beating everybody but the inside of the post and Bryan Mbeumo having an equaliser denied by the offside flag.

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Brentford attack, again, in the second half

Credit to Brendan Rodgers. His team started at 100 mph and grabbed the early goal. Taking advantage of the time needed for our new look team to find their collective feet. Kelechi Iheanacho converting a slide rule pass from, erm, somebody on just four minutes after the Bees had been stretched thinner than a value brand pizza base. 

But as the game progressed, Brentford grew into it. The new look combination of our starting XI finding their feet and space. Zamburek and Marcondes inventive. Dervisoglu again impressing. Racic and Roerslev definitely more names for the future. Thompson and Yearwood adding further credibility to the Brentford recruitment strategy. Leicester content to absorb and contain rather than put it out of sight. Although, equally, one has to look at what The Bees did. No quarter was given. No question left unanswered. The Championship club more than matching their illustrious opponents but not quite able to force the ball over the line. This time.

Let’s cut to the chase. Nobody is upset. We’re all hugely proud of how our boys performed. There were no dissenting voices when the team was named. More, the reaction seems to have been universal. That this presented the newcomers with the chance to prove what they can do. To give themselves that big game experience that we may be so reliant on coming into the business end of the season. And that they rose to that challenge.

There’s also the small matter of Tuesday night’s Championship six-pointer with Nottingham Forest, a game of pivotal importance to our long term future. This was a consequence free dry run with everything to gain and nothing to lose. We came, they scored, we almost conquered. On another day perhaps. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. This time .    

That’s not to say this wasn’t an occasion to showcase the very best of what we do. So the result didn’t go our way. And? It was still a magical afternoon. Griffin Park a sell out for what would prove to be the last ever cup tie in our famous home. The realisation of that one only hitting home once we got back from the post match beers. A quick catch up of the BBC coverage to make sure Bryan’s ‘goal’ definitely wasn’t then morphed into a catch up of the punditry and the aforementioned stat.

Being quite self-indulgent, and I make no apologies, it was of huge personal pride to hear H read the teams out before kick off. Fair play to him – dad’s fear of stage fright was immediately kicked in to touch –  as proven with the announcement of “Number three. Uncle Justin’s favourite player. Riiiiiccoooo Henrrryy”.

Yet this is the sort of thing that continues to make our club great. Magnificent. Unique. In the week that fan engagement manager Ryan Murrant shared the sad news that he would be moving on, how invigorating to see his work rewarded by a 6 year old coming alive and claiming that microphone as though it was his own personal radio for speaking to the Griffin Park faithful.

Sure, proud dad. I get it and don’t pretend otherwise. Nobody else probably noticed or cared. And that’s fine. It’s mentioned more to showcase, yet again, what we do. Week in, week out. Why we are brilliant.  Why we grab our fans from the off. Why we are all one, huge family. Why it was an absolute honour to bequeath Woody H’s tinfoil trophy at full time. Why the people who share no more immediate connection than the random allocation of a seat number have unintentionally become friends.

As for the aforementioned clickbait, the normally respected Nick Godwin of BBC Radio London was full of it on Saturday evening. As patronising as he was off the mark. Behind the times and living in the past rather than looking at what was unfolding. 

As might have been shouted to the Leicester number 28, Fuchs off ! The B-team players more than rose to the occasion. Testament to our long term strategy of recruitment and transition to the first team. This ‘medium sized Championship team’ may aswell have been labelled tinpot or a bus stop. Sorry, but we’re just a soupçon of places outside the automatic promotion slots to the Premier League. Our profit margins have seen the Brentford transfer model rebranded from crackpot to genius. It was being lauded by the BBC during Saturday’s live coverage, and even their stats didn’t begin to touch the sides. 

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Fuchs off.

Brentford using their intelligently collated squad is not what is killing the FA Cup. Pandering to an ever crowded fixture list. Canning replays. Killing neutral ground semis. Stretching out the weekend to four or five nights so that the draw is made before the final ties have even been played. That’s what is killing the FA Cup. Not, pauses for breath, ‘teams like Brentford‘.  If, indeed, it is even dying. A sell out crowd and Lineker fronted TV panel certainly suggests otherwise. See also, the jam packed KC stadium for Hull City v Chelsea which was on our screens as we got home.

But let’s not end this on a negative. Leicester City scored the goal so deserved their win. Brentford showed even more green shoots of long term potential. Lionel Road is coming. So are Nottingham Forest. I’d have loved to have a crack at Wembley but it wasn’t to be . That doesn’t devalue the experience or upset me any.

Instead, our youngsters showed just what they can do. And it is nothing but positive.

Nick Bruzon  

3 Responses to “FA Cup showcases the future. Some still living in the past.”

  1. Martin west January 26, 2020 at 12:53 am #

    Hi Nick Leicester picked a very good team of experienced players,taking no chances,wished we could have picked a slightly stronger team but they did very well, highlight of the game was your son Harry reading the team sheet, fantastic!!. I hope the tactic of resting players doesn’t bite us in the poster and give us a poor result.

  2. Spanish Bee January 26, 2020 at 12:21 pm #

    First of all, young Harry really went for it, no wonder you’re a proud Dad, lovely to see. Secondly, everybody seems really relaxed about putting out our B+ team, me too. I don’t get to see the Mighty Bees that often, only once or twice a season, so I want to ask you, or even start a debate. The B-team that was put out yesterday would definitely beat Brentford first teams of the past that I have watched. The question is, how far back would you have to go? There is no doubt in my mind that they would have beaten many of the teams we put out in the nineties, but what about the noughties. Interested to know what people say, it is a measure of how far we have progressed.

  3. BeeLieve January 26, 2020 at 11:28 pm #

    I honestly don’t see any point in getting riled up at the journos. They’re here for the headlines, we’re here for the good times (and bad, and indifferent). We should keep focussed on what we’re seeing happen and believe it can and will be greater!

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