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Will this be the best deal on deadline day? Are we safe?

31 Aug

Deadline day is here. For unbeaten Brentford (the 1-1 at Aston Villa on Saturday making it WDD from our August Premier league fixtures) there is an unusual lack of speculation. This time of year should be sponsored by Anusol, such is the amount of itchy bum time felt at Lionel Road. There’s normally at least one of our top names linked with a move outside the club. Yet even Ivan Toney’s name has barely been mentioned this time around, despite our main man getting off the mark on Saturday at Villa Park. Instead, all the talk as the window prepares to ‘slam shut’ (TM)  has been around Manchester City, Manchester United – something, something, something Cristiano Ronaldo –  and the possibility of Daniel James leaving them for Leeds United (one of ten clubs currently below Brentford in the top flight). 

Celebrations after taking the lead at Villa. Another top-flight point the eventual reward

I don’t like it. The quiet, I mean. By now we should have complete faith in our directors of football. And, to be fair, I do. Yet that doesn’t make it any easier. Certainly, as an outsider looking in. Old habits die hard and having seen our loyalty tested so many times over the years, despite the fact that in recent times things have always gotten better as the replacements bed in, it doesn’t do anything to dispel those lingering doubts that somebody could rock up with a nuclear sized bid that it would be impossible to ignore. Such is the amount of cash currently sloshing around English, and European, football.

The Dean Holdsworth / Murray Jones ‘deal’ the one which we go back to time and again. Yet something that stands out as the the bit of business, if one can call it that, to show how hard it has been for Brentford to retain / attract talent over the years. Of course things are different now but that doesn’t stop the little devil from tapping on the shoulder. In football just about anything is possible when a dumper truck full of money turns up at the front door. Even as recently as the Birmingham City firesale in 2017, late exits have still delivered the mother load of unexpected shocks. Maxime Colin – gone. Jota – gone. Harlee Dean – gone. Insert ten times better comment.   

Time is a great healer

Honestly, it feels too late for anything to happen now. We’ve no intent, need or desire to sell. The start to Premier League life has been a more than positive one. Unbeaten and only one goal against. That, in Saturday’s draw with Aston Villa. It was a game yours truly missed due to a long overdue few days holiday and, instead, Match Of The Day was the place for source material on that one. It was another point and could have been three. Oh, Vitaly Janelt. Ingenuity and optimism that, despite the rules, was worth a punt in the spur of the moment. David Raya at the other end seeming to keep us in it on more than one occasion. 

Yet despite all the positivity on pitch, and inward movement being lined up off it, old habits die hard. Over an hour watching Sky Sports News last night (prior to changing channels for a fascinating ‘fly-on-the’wall’ documentary about weddings) revealed nothing beyond the fact that we are looking to move Joel Valencia out on loan. That was it for the Bees. No mention of Ivan Toney. Nothing. Not even a whisper. 

Instead, it was all Manchester City discussion now Harry Kane has confirmed he is staying put in the short term and Manchester United. The Ronaldo story about as exciting as they come but, in fact, the outward movement of Daniel James to Leeds United could be one of the shrewdest bits of business over the summer. 

£30m the price for a 23 year old who destroyed the Championship at Swansea City, has already got 74 appearances for the Red Devils under his belt and has been long coveted by Marcelo Bielsa. His powerpoint on the Welsh International must be one bursting with positive feedback and he could be a game changer at Elland Road. Certainly, a signing I’m watching with envious eyes in terms of a divisional rival picking up a player who could slot into any team with the potential to be devastating from the off. Cripes, our Harry is still traumatised by his game-changing wonder goal in the FA Cup fifth round a few seasons back….

The Daniel James impact. Brutal

We know our model. Honestly, how many supporters could say they knew much about Frank Onyeka or Yoanne Wissa prior to them joining the Bees? See also: Jota, Benrahma, Mbeumo et al. Ronaldo and Daniel James are oven ready household names. The sort of players that come with a huge cost, huger expectation and the ability to be immediate game changers. With the exception of Pontus Jansson, and perhaps Kris Ajer, we remain masters of tapping into the unknown. Those players tracked well in advance. Players who can do the business despite remaining largely off the broader radar. Shrewd acquisitions rather than five star names. 

Aston Villa have done similar. Their own business over the window lined up early to replace Manchester City bound Jack Grealish. For me, Clive, they are the ones to have come out of the latest round of wheeler-dealing ahead of the rest. So far. Emi Buendia in particular. We’re well familiar with what he can do from last season. There was more of the same on Saturday. As long as we can resist any 11th hour offers then Brentford could well be saying similar. Although if anybody at Lionel Road wants to do a bit more shopping then nobody would complain. 

Just as long as that ‘out door’ stays firmly shut. Just 16 hours to go. And counting……

Pontus – our most high profile signing in years and still a Bee

Nick Bruzon

Will we end up heroes or Villans? Either works for me.

27 Oct

Brentford host Norwich City tonight looking to bounce back from the Stoke enigma. Going over the bones of that one again won’t help any. We all saw it. We all know. We all, err, go again. Elsewhere, the hotly anticipated ‘third’ shirt was revealed to the world yesterday. If Ollie and Said had wanted to wear claret and blue, then perhaps there was an alternative to joining Aston Villa and West Ham. This kit is a cracking effort that is as clean and smart as had been hoped for from those initial ‘reveal’ photos. A well documented nod to our origins rather than those who have spent the transfer window shopping at Lionel Road.

We were given a proper look yesterday

First up though, the Norwich City game. I’ll be amazed if Brentford start with the same formation as we did on Saturday. Whether we start how we finished it is another question, of course. The switch to a pairing of Ivan Toney and Marcus Forss drew gasps of admiration from all quarters and is one we’d love to see again. Moreso with home advantage. Such as it is, these days. 

We know also that Emiliano Marcondes is available although Pontus remains out (albeit for weeks rather than months). Thomas using his press conference to confirm that,”We will still have Shandon, Mads, Pontus, and Christian out for this game”.   

Beyond that, draw your own conclusions. Whichever way Thomas goes, expect the same sort of reaction as we did when playing Coventry recently. Brentford came out of the blocks flying before eventually moving clear in the second half. Norwich City are currently placed fifth but a victory would see us overtake the Canaries on goal difference. I think Thomas will stick with the tried and tested. Two centre backs and Marcus kept on the bench. A chance to inject fresh blood as legs begin to tire on both sides. It’s the obvious choice with games continuing to come at us at break neck speed but with Brentford suddenly having a choice up top, it’s understandable we’re desperate to play both ! Good luck solving that one, Thomas.

As ever, the game is on I-follow. As ever, follow the golden rules. Make sure you avoid Safari when selecting a browser, you’ll need to add your credit card details when putting in your code to redeem the game for free and don’t forget to check your bank statement afterwards. Many are the stories coming in regarding those still charged for viewing despite free access. Whilst the reclaim process sounds relatively simple, that we are even having to go down this route is another farce that I’d love to hear the EFL and I-follow explanation of.

Presumably the Sky red button is also available, being a mid-week game. Don’t quote me on that though. With codes available, the soothing tones of Mark Burridge and Marcus Gayle are there preferable route, anyway.

Elsewhere, we’ve now seen the new kit. It looks a thing of beauty and will be worn with white shorts and socks. The club shop is reopening next week for all sales, including this one. You can read the full info on ‘official’ here, with the salient point being that the Superstore will reopen from Friday 30 October at 9am for seven days a week until Sunday 29 November (Monday to Saturday – 9am to 5pm / 10am – 4pm on Sundays). For three days only prior to general launch, our third shirts will be exclusively available in store. Supporters will receive goodie bags for every purchase over £50 (subject to availability)”. 

It’s a quite lovely shirt and with the ability to buy in person once more available, I’ll be popping down to Braemar Road soon. Whilst we me made a crack about Aston Villa at the top end, this really does put me in mind of their own Umbro away shirt from 1980-81 which is no bad thing. If for no other reason than the Villans ended that campaign as league champions. I’ll take a lucky omen wherever it can be found and for me, Clive, that’s about as good as they come.

Had Umbro gone one further and added that famous elasticated diamond piping to the sleeves, I may not have been responsible for my actions. In a good way. However, sometimes less is more and I think we’ve nailed it. Great work.

Until then, its Norwich City. Enjoy the game. Please….

That classic from Aston Villa and Umbro

Nick Bruzon

It was Boy’s Own stuff on Thursday but who starts now ?

3 Oct

The League Cup has been and gone. Brentford are through and that’s fantastic but that’s also as far as it goes. For now. Thoughts of a Christmas quarter-final with Newcastle United can wait for another month or so. Instead, the focus is back on the Championship and Sunday afternoon’s visit from Preston North End. With the mood at Lionel Road one of optimism – as much due to the performance of Said Benrahma as off-field updates that came in a new signing and the David Raya to Arsenal story finally being put to bed – the big question being who starts? And up at Aston Villa, the love story between Dean Smith and  Jota has come to an end.

First though, Brentford. Cripes. Who’d be a head coach? What lovely problems for Thomas Frank to have. What decisions to make. Everyone’s a manager and will have different options as to the team. Sergi Canos has been wonderful but Said Benrahma sent a reminder about what he can do in the most jaw-dropping style.

‘That’ goal against Fulham, with Michael Hector humiliated by the backwards nutmeg, before the Algerian lashed it low and hard into the bottom corner from distance was pure Boys Own stuff. A more incredible return than the second coming of Jota.

Benrahma’s skils – an obscene publication?

Then there’s Mbeumo and Ghoddos. The waiting for Saman was rewarded as he provided the perfect tee up for Marcus Forss to open the scoring on Thursday.  Bryan is immense though. We all know his pace down the flanks and prowess in front of goal. Could Emiliano be sweating tonight as we at least try to fit three of the four into the starting XI? That’s before you even consider Toney v Forss. The big money replacement for Ollie Watkins or the young pretender with the thunderbolts in his boots and the habit of scoring whenever he takes the field?

Dominic Thompson had a great game whilst in goal, David Raya has shown just why Arsenal were so heavily linked. Those rumours should now be dispelled for a while after it was confirmed our number one had signed a four year contract extension on Friday. Pity Luke Daniels who has done a fine job deputising in the league for a man who has pulled off some world class saves during the Cup run. A man who, don’t forget, is the current holder of the Championship golden gloves.

Luke, of all, has most to lose should Thomas twist rather than stick when it comes to selection for Preston. Having waited his turn, it has finally come. Drop him back to the bench and you may aswell start looking to the B team for our reserve ‘keeper. That is, assuming Luke wants first team football. He’s more than good enough for it at this level, that’s for sure. I don’t envy Thomas that choice or that conversation – with either ‘keeper.

For me, Clive, assuming there are no injury doubts I think he’ll go :

Raya, Henry, Dalsgaard, Pinnock, Jansson, Norgaard, Dasilva, Marcondes, Benrahma, Mbeumo, Toney.

It’s going to be harsh on anybody who misses out after Thursday but with international break approaching, this is the time to go for it. Personally speaking, I’d love to see Marcus Forss start but if nothing else the bench should be tastier than a slice of sour-dough toast smeared in marmite i.e very.

Elsewhere, there’s been more transfer news. The bees have signed German Under-21 Vitaly Janelt from VfL Bochum. There was no pretence about the  midfielder’s skillset from Thomas, describing him as “Dynamic in his play and strong in the middle when it comes to duels. Most importantly, he has the aggressiveness and intensity in the high press that we want to have”.

Another classic set of signing photos suggesting we’ve picked up a player who would fit in as well as alongside a Jonathan Douglas or Christian Norgaard as he would in a cold war era spy thriller. Think the Man From Uncle or anything from the second best Bond, Connery.

All being well Vitaly is as stylish on field as he is off it

700 words in and no mention our opponents. Well, those early season results are tricky to get too much of a reading from. The Lilywhites have only managed a single point so far but that was up at Carrow Road – not a performance to be sniffed at. Are home defeats to Stoke and Swansea the sign of a team on the way out or simply one finding their feet in another bizarre season of behind-closed-doors football?  

We’ll find out on Sunday afternoon, that’s for sure. Season ticket holders should have been sent their I-follow codes by now. Don’t forget those all important tricks to ensure stress free sign on… Firstly, use Chrome. Not Safari. Surely something as simple as an internet browser thingy shouldn’t make such a significant difference but, as we now know, it does. Secondly, even though the codes allow you to watch for free, credit cards details are still required. Presumably supporters wanting to watch the Huddersfield game the other week will have now bypassed that pitfall but for anybody just coming in from work, please be aware.

And talking of watching football over the internet… Rasmus, bring forth the crowbar. The latest edition of ‘The Warm Up’ has now gone live on YouTube. Marcus and Stu are again joined by Karleigh Osborne for a look back at Fulham and Millwall along with a couple of very special challenges. Even  Harlee Dean, sorry Crash Bandicoot, puts in an appearance in the ‘nutmeg’ challenge. There’s another competition and the results of last week’s. Plus a forfeit that must now be paid. And how……

Finally, Jota. I make no secret of the fact he has been my favourite Brentford player in years. As much for the hair. The excitement of Benrahma, the last minute goals, the leaving opponents for dead (poor Jake Bidwell) and the return from loan after his love-letter to the fans. It all ended on somewhat of a disappointing note with the triple transfer swoop by ten times better Birmingham City before the King finally found his place in the top flight with Aston Villa. 

Sadly though, it wasn’t to be. After just 16 appearances his contract has been cancelled a year early by mutual consent. He is a free agent and surely Spain beckons? I mean, there’s no way he’ll come back here a third time. Is there…?

I’ll never forget all those good times and wonderful moments. Hail to the King. Wherever he goes.

Oh Jota…. Any excuse

Nick Bruzon

Needless to say, he had the last laugh.

10 Sep

And with that, Ollie Watkins was revealed at Aston Villa. The latest Brentford star to make the step up to the top flight. These days,  the Villans rather than Wycombe or Birmingham City are the ones becoming our ‘B’ team. He joins Jota, Ezri Konsa and manager/ head coach Dean Smith in a squad that could be argued as , if not ‘ten times better’, certainly one chock full of talent. England debutant Jack Grealish the most prodigious of the stars that will be playing alongside our (former) man.

That’s about as ‘official’ as it gets.

There was nothing but good wishes from all at , err, Lionel Road when the news was announced. A low key statement from Brentford, “All the best, Ollie. The striker has this morning completed his move to @AVFCOfficial for an undisclosed fee” was followed by a much more in depth piece detailing the move. Albeit, the fee of £28million with a further £5million in add-ons was not confirmed. Kerr-chinggg! 

After the season he had, and that unmentionable final game, it was unlikely Ollie would be staying. No complaints here. Quite the opposite. He has his dream move and a well deserved reward for all the hard work and good times. Brentford have shown we are no longer the pushovers in the transfer market that we were in days gone by. Now, there is no need to sell. Just the knowledge that we help players progress, with replacements lined up, and release them when it is mutually beneficial. 

Cripes – what a price. I saw a comment that says it is the 12th highest ever paid for an English player. Aston Villa have absolutely got an international star in the making. If he can continue his goal scoring hot streak – and Dean will know what his man can do – then the England shirt will be beckoning. Neal Maupay showed last season how that step up to the top flight can be made. I fully expect more of the same from Ollie. 

There was a graphic from Sky Sports on Twitter yesterday, declaring Brentford to be ‘Masters of the transfer market’. 

Looking at it in cold, hard figures you’d be doing well to disagree. Not just with the fees but , as much, our recruitment process. How far away do all the sneers now seem? The talk of Matthew Benham’s system being nothing more than robotics and Moneyball? Of him inhabiting a Doctor Evil style ‘lair’? That one was Clem, I recall. Needless to say, he’s had the last laugh. (Matthew, rather than Clem).

Talk to the hand – a strange analogy once made about Matthew Benham’s HQ

So who next? Joel Valencia seems set for a loan out to Legia Warsaw. Talk on Said Benrahma has gone quiet. Very quiet. Is he also Aston Villa bound? Somehow, possibly, maybe sitting tight? Hey, one can dream. David Raya still seem inexorably linked with Arsenal although the club have made it absolutely clear we are not interested in even considering a sale. It’ll be telling to see what happens when we visit Birmingham City on Saturday lunchtime. For the record, I expect David to start and be with us all season.

As ever with Brentford, this is all out of our control. Stressing about it won’t do any good. Confidence in who will comes in to replace those that have moved on is something which should remain sky high. Past seasons have more than proved that, now we’ve got the Proschwitz style kinks out of the system. Ivan Toney is the latest of those to join us and I can’t wait to see how he goes in the red and white.

That’s all to come. The season proper starts on Saturday. The transfer window remains open until early October. That’s a LONG time. Urgh. Still, heads down. Teeth gritted. Move along, nothing to see here. Nothing to worry about if it does happen. He says….

Until then, it’s a case of one more ‘Good luck’ Ollie. Not that he needs it. Perhaps more a case of ‘So long and thank you for everything’. Here’s to seeing you on Match Of The Day.

And finally, don’t forget that all The Last Word season reviews remain available, for free download for your kindle e-book reader. There’s only a day or so of this to run so please help yourselves – if you want. You can pick up 2013/14 – 2017/18 here, there’s 2018/19 here whilst the latest effort (which is probably the word), covering 2019-20 is here. These are free so get in now. Once these go back to ‘regular’ price (the Amazon store gives five free days every three months) then any monies received go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust…

Thanks, as ever.

You can read about all this sort of stuff once more

Nick Bruzon

Farewell to a hero.

9 Sep

Will Ollie Watkins earn that most special / awful of honours today – a personalised transfer signing hashtag? Word on the street is that he will complete his move from Brentford to Aston Villa, for a fee that keeps rising and rising – depending on where you read. Elsewhere, Christian Nørgaard mad his full international debut as England were held 0-0 in Denmark. And there’s more e-book updates (thank you !).

Ollie – a hero to all at Griffin Park

First up, Ollie. Dean Smith will no doubt feel he deserves a reunion with his ex and is certainly prepared to pay handsomely for his man. The latest reports suggest he’s prepared to break the bank for this one (Premiership survival will facilitate that, I suppose). The price is thought to read: 

£28million, rising to £33million based on add ons.

The Kitchen sink

Some tracksuits

Jota (hey, one can dream)

An arm and a leg  

Whatever the fee actually reads in the end, it will be another incredible reward for the Brentford system. Aston Vila have been made to sweat for their primary target, with no urgency to sell. Now, valuations would seem to have been met and Ollie has his well earned move. When the GPG are calling it then that’s as close as you can get to a ‘done deal’ beyond seeing a shirt photo or one of those awkward #partofthepride type messages (stick to a chewed BIC – much classier).

We’ve been here before

Nobody could doubt what Ollie, an absolute hero at Griffin Park, did for the Bees. Nor can there be any bitterness about him taking the step up that came so close to being made at Lionel Road.  Ah, but for that play-off final. Even then, he bust a gut covering just about every blade of grass. 

His goals speak for themselves – the work rate, probably under-rated to the casual observer. Then there’s the fact that he’s just an all round good egg. The Brentford policy of ‘no dickheads’ – where personality and group spirit has always been a key part of our acquisition strategy – as key to his approach as anything else.

I’ve no doubt Exeter City will also be salivating at their own cut, should it have been written in, but if nothing else the step up made by yet another of our players should hopefully give incentive to those below us looking to sell in future. Likewise, those considering a move to Griffin Park. The conveyor belt of talent progressing through the ranks and up into the top flight, at vast profit, is a well documented effect of Matthew Benham’s system. Crazy stuff ! Who’s laughing now?

The one real downside being that we’re going to need a new car. The BMW will be no more. Still, at those prices perhaps the directors of football will have earned a Porsche or two. 

BMW etc etc etc

In all seriousness, one can only wish the very best to Ollie. He has been an absolute phenomenon at Griffin Park, stepping up when Neal Maupay left for Brighton and more than making the goalscorer’s position his own. Aston Villa have got an absolute gem and I can’t wait to see how he goes in the top flight.

The other news from last night was the England – Denmark game. Ordinarily, condolences would be offered to anyone sitting through a performance from tGareth Southgate’s team which has universally described as ‘turgid’.  

Yet, as ever, let’s try to look positive. For one thing, ‘that’ band were, ermm, banned. (Copy, paste, add usual rant about Bernie Clifton, unwelcome horns and off-key renditions of the Dambusters theme). True, so were ALL supporters but if there’s one thing Covid has done it is, at least, to ensure that the awful noise to simulate atmosphere is limited to that being piped in by Sky.

Christian Nørgaard joins the World Cup’s Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford in representing his country. His debut was as solid as those performances for the Bees and there’s a strong case for him winning now of the many man-of-the-match polls doing the rounds. We all saw what he did last time around. Could 2020/21 see him as one of our key players in that push for the top? Roll on Saturday when we find out.

Elsewhere, e-books. The Last Word compendiums are already available for free (for a couple of days) on the Kindle store. You can pick up ‘There Is No Plan B – Brentford FC season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18’ and also ‘The Jaffa cake Shirt – Brentford FC season review: 2018/19‘ for free. Now. 

But, like an advert for kitchen knives, there’s more. The latest version ‘Farewell, Griffin Park – Brentford FC season review: 2019/ 20’ is also up and is also now free for a few days. It would normally retail for £1.99 (with all money received going to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust) but life’s too short. If you want this one, too, and the chance to relive all those amazing Ollie Watkins moments (via these dodgy sources) then fill your boots at no expense.

Enjoy.

Until then, the only other thing to say is goodbye and good luck to Ollie. Thanks for everything. Here’s to crossing paths in 12 month’s time.

Nick Bruzon

Neal going? Neal staying? Names – and nonsense – all over the place.

14 Jul

Yawn. Rumours. We should be talking about amazing things such as how the live YouTube stream of Dynamo Kyiv v Brentford (0-0) held stable throughout Saturday morning’s game. About how solid we looked at the back – second half especially (sadly, HB’s football club meant I missed a first half that Thomas Frank would later describe in glowing terms). We should be talking about the wonderful new home strip that the team wore and whether this may be the week where the ‘away’ colours finally put in an appearance (Come on Umbro, do your thing. Please). About our first proper look at the likes of Pontus Jansson and David Raya. But instead, it is all Neal Maupay – Sheffield United, Leeds United, Aston Villa and now even West Ham are being added to the rumour mill. Presumably as a result of their non-purchase of Scott Hogan a few years back.

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Still hoping to say happy birthday to my good friend next season – to coin a phrase

OK – let’s just cut to the chase and deal with the Neal Maupay situation from this perspective. That of outsider looking in and, as such, not privy to any club knowledge. Oh to have Phil Giles or Matthew Benham’s numbers in my i-pod telephone now. But, to be fair, even if I did I can’t imagine either party would be letting any cats out of bags. Why would they? This is a football club – not a committee meeting between supporters and top brass. Strategies and models have been laid out, precedents have been set and trust has long been earned. The amount of money invested in this club over the last 10 years and the players we have seen are a thing to behold. The sight of the new stadium springing up at Lionel Road, something to make the heart beat a little bit faster every time I walk past it.

I’m not in the employ of the club. Yes, I write in the match day programme but that’s voluntary and as much for my own pleasure or the chance to sneak past the editor some ‘in jokes’, a couple of references that only two or three other New Road Observers, Ealing Road fans & Braemar Road residents may get or simply a few open digs at our rivals. Thanks, Sam 😉

If something needs to be said on these pages then it’ll be said. But frankly, it hasn’t in recent years. The team are magnificent. Our top brass open and engaged. Our transfer business phenomenal. We’ve shrewdly and carefully built this club up. Improved and strengthened . Seen new heroes created. And, yes, leave. I still weep at the though of Jota sent to St. Andrews but take comfort in the fact that he is, at least, now an Aston Villa player. There’s one name going straight into my Fantasy Football team. Perhaps alongs side Chris Mepham, Ezri Konsa and number 26.

Jota team Rotherham

Oh, Jota….. Any excuse

I also know that, like myself, we’ve a hardcore of long standing supporters for whom this positive period is something that still feels somewhat unusual. That success is brilliant but odd. That we’re only a moment away from selling Dean Holdsworth and replacing him with Murray Jones. To saying farewell Nicky Forster, Andy Sinton, DJ Campbell et al. That it’s Brentford, innit. Something is bound to go wrong. We’ll discover that Lionel Road is built on the site of an ancient burial ground. That somebody messed up the bluerprints and got the cms / inches mixed up a la Spinal Tap. That Neal Maupay’s contract was signed with invisible ink that is slowly disintegrating before our very eyes.

But it won’t. The evidence is there before our eyes. The difference is that when things happen that supporters may not like  – primarily the sale of a fan favourite – we now have a Plan B and C already lined up and in operation. Sometimes we sell early. Sometimes we sell late. Always we invest in potential. Now we are also investing in experience. The signing of Pontus Jansson a huge marker post that things continue to evolve at Griffin Park. 

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The final piece is lowered in to place at Lionel Road. Errrr “Chaaaaappp-mannnnn”

It is so apparent how things work these days. That Brentford still feels very much our club despite Matthew Benham and his team being at the helm. That they are deserving of our faith and trust. Be honest, NO football club is going to share transfer plans and divulge details of bids to supporters or journalists. Not even Brentford. Ignore the clickbait. Ignore the rumour. Trust the system.

Sure, Neal Maupay may well end up leaving us imminently. He may not. He was missing from the Dynamo Kyiv game, with Thomas conforming at full time that he had gone back to France for a couple of days but that there was nothing wrong with his approach and he’d be in training next week. Likewise, Said Benrahama although Kamo will be out for a few more weeks given his extended progress at the African Cup Of Nations.   

I’m not an idiot. I know we’re in clickbait season and that all manner of publications publish all manner of nonsense. Some of it may stick in hindsight. Most of it won’t. Maupay can’t be going to Aston Villa, Sheffield United AND West Ham. Romaine Sawyers can’t be going to Leeds United AND Aston Villa. Somebody might move. They might not. I’d love it if Neal lines up against Birmingham City on August 3rd. Absolutely love it. If only because I think he’ll destroy Harlee Dean and that’s worth anybody’s entrance fee. Let’s be blunt – I do NOT want him to leave. No matter how strong my trust in the system.

But, at the same time, IF he does then it’s not going to be a case of wailing and moaning. Most of our fans seem to get it, too. A twitter poll set up by the GPG (below) showed only 29% of voters saying that Neal must stay whatever. Likewise, the piece published by fellow blogger Luis Adriano – which you can read here – really hits the nail/neal on the head.

The last few years have more than shown that the board know what they are doing. Without Matthew Benham there probably wouldn’t even be a club now. We’d likely be watching AFC Brentford Phoenixes running out against Dulwich Hamlet or some such. Look at how Leyton Orient’s fortunes changed as a result of roping those three points to Marcello Trotta’s goal when we celebrated like we’d won the FA Cup. Look at how Doncaster and Yeovil have fared since being promoted at our expense the season prior.

We may not always do it immediately. But we ARE doing it right. I’d love Neal and/or Said to stay and really hope they do. Yet if they don’t, we’ll survive and who knows who we’ll unearth next….  

IMG_2147

The mutual love at Brentford is palpable – from Neal to Said and beyond

Nick Bruzon

The Brentford transfer machine rolls on. Will Dean swoop again?

12 Jul

And then the door swung the other way. Following the sudden influx of players to Griffin Park, it was perhaps inevitable that Daniel Bentley would not be alone in leaving Brentford. Sure enough, the expected sale of Ezri Konsa to Aston Villa was announced yesterday. With Pontus Jansson ( thanks, Leeds United ) and Ethan Pinnock (c/o Barnsley) having been unveiled in recent weeks, something was going to give. With the BBC reporting a sale price of £12million, a year after Ezri joined us for £2.5m from Charlton, Dean Smith has got his man and Matthew Benham has more than balanced his books.

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Nice work. Nice training gear. Sponsored by Wolves?

Much as when Dean himself moved to Aston Villa in October, the universal reaction seems to be one of positivity and well wishes from the Griffin Park faithful. The arrivals of Ethan from Barnsley and, especially, Pontus from Leeds United had more than boosted morale whilst signposting a back three that will presumably feature Julian Jeanvier as the final part of this defensive Holy Trinity. Likewise, turning around a price differential of close to £10m in such a short space of time for a player who is already part of the England U-21 set up. Very much a case of win-win for all parties. 

Presumably we’ve added the usual sell on, appearance, international clauses that seem to be our way these days. Whether Charlton Athletic did the same last time out, who knows, but I’ve seen words out there to suggest this was not the case. Then again, that could be the usual conjecture and clickbait that is so prevalent at this time of year so perhaps best to draw a discreet veil and move on. Ultimately, we’ve got a price we’re happy with and Ezri has a dream move to the Premier League. 

If selling a CB seemed an obvious move , what about central midfield? With Dean Smith having already taken old boys Jota and Ezri to Aston Villa, could he be looking to a third? Is there any substance to the Romaine Sawyers / Leeds United stories that are flavour of the week? Again, dispensing with all gossip the fact that we have picked up Nørgaard and Jensen makes us suddenly look very strong in that area with Romaine and Kamo already in situ. Especially given the Thomas Frank preference for a plethora of centrebacks and wide men.

Clickbait journos are putting 2+2 together . Strength in depth. Our approach of selling on. Dean Smith hoovering up his old boys. The Leed United rumours. As an outsider looking in, I can see why. As an outsider looking in, I’ve no idea whether they have got 4 or 5. And I don’t particularly care. 

By which I mean that I obviously want the best for the squad. I want to see how it all plays out and who will be in that starting XI to face Harlee Dean and whoever else is left at Birmingham City when they visit on August 3rd. But to overly expend energy following clickbait and rumour or upsetting myself over what is so clearly outside of any control is time that could be infinitely better spent. There are away shirts to launch, pre-season friendlies to follow, Tyrolean tour blogs to read, Leeds fans to get upset and season review e-books (all proceeds to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust) to download here.

Subtle as a Neal Maupay goal celebration but I thank you for your indulgence.

There’s not much else to say today beyond a final good luck to Ezri. I’m sure there may be more to follow but until they do, life’s too short to get stressed by rumour and rubbish. We’ve an incredible squad at our disposal and every day that passes is one closer to the accursed transfer window ™ slamming shut. I’d also offer you these words of comfort / approach from Phil Giles , given at last year’s fan forum when the news of Dean’s departure for Aston Villa meant players would follow despite our strong start to that campaign. 

He was unequivocal about the situation in regards to a promotion push, saying that “If we are in the top six in January we won’t be selling players….If we’ve a high likelihood of getting promoted we’d be very reluctant to sell.”

That was then. This is now. Of course things change but given the gauntlet already being placed in front of our Championship rivals, do we honestly think the club will then look to cut off a metaphorical arm and haemorrhage the very life blood of a promotion push?

Ultimately, the answer to that depends on what plans are being forged behind the scenes. Obvious, I realise. Yet those words from Phil are quoted to illustrate that we’ve stayed strong and shown positivity before. Here’s hoping we can do it again.

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Nick Bruzon

If it helps, blame Greville. Warning : may contain typos.

10 Jun

Welcome back, Brentford fans. The dust has finally settled on 2018/19 and we’re now into that long wait for proceedings to begin in anger once more. The Bees finished 11th in the Championship, despite flirting with both ends of the table. Aston Villa ‘deserved to win’ in the play-off final as Griffin Park head coach Dean Smith swapped TW8 for his boyhood club back in October. Leeds United fell apart in quite spectacular style although will no doubt be amongst the favourites when the fixtures are announced this month. And Thomas Frank won over the doubters in some style as his free flowing team, spear-headed by Neal Maupay and Said Benrahma, started scoring goals for fun.

It was some season, that’s for sure. Season tickets are already flying off the shelves for 2019/20 as realisation dawns that we have just over 20 games left to play at Griffin Park. It’s going to be an emotional campaign and I for one cannot wait to get going once more. No matter how tedious the wait for early August already seems. Cripes, we don’t even know what we’re going to be wearing yet. Come on Bob – give us another kit clue. That said,  Umbro have at least had their name revealed and Lionel Road stadium building firm Ecoworld have been named as our new sponsor. 

For yours truly, it’s ‘that’ time of year aswell. I wasn’t going to bother and was then caught unawares by Bob Booker biographer Greville Waterman. I say unawares, more under the influence. A few pints had been consumed when he caught up with me and asked if I’d be doing it this time around, “Sure. Why not” was the answer. Curse you, Guinness. And so it began.

And as a result we’re live as of…. now. It’s annual e-book time. As ever, any and all funds raised from this (or previous titles) are going to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. This season’s effort is entitled ‘The Jaffa cake Shirt’ because we all know how amazing this was(n’t) – delete as applicable. It contains the least bad of the Blogs from this site swell as all the articles submitted for The Park Life feature in the Griffin Park match day programme – league and cup. 

Starting with the summer and the World Cup (when it got mentioned once or twice that we had a player involved – Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford) it goes on through all the fun and games.  Remind yourself how we out played Aston Villa. Again. Even if Dean did think they deserved to win. Re-live the goals from Neal Maupay – and the quite magnificent mentality! Watch Fulham and QPR self destruct, Birmingham City prove that overspending is anything but a ten times better strategy. Remember how Leeds United fell apart. Curse as Mrs. Brown’s Boys still exists.

Regular readers of these pages know the drill. The  quality may not be great. There WILL be typos. I probably use the phrases ‘That said’, ‘Then again’ and ‘However’ far too often. Much of it you will already be familiar with.

On the plus side, what better way to remind yourself how brilliant 2018/19 was? To kill a bit of time of the commute to work / on your summer holidays / on the toilet etc You can download it , now, for your kindle , iPod telephone or other electronic reading device here. That’s here !

Many thanks in advance for your time. At £1.99 it’s cheaper than half a pint so what’s to lose? Apart from £1.99  – which then goes to a great cause anyway.  I’ll apologise in advance for mentioning this again over the next few weeks but it will all benefit our quite fantastic Community Sports Trust. 

And if it helps, blame Greville. I have !

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Nick Bruzon

Rumour meltdown: Jota, Bentley, Maupay. And a certain game (of Liverpool bingo) awaits.

1 Jun

The wait is over. Strap yourselves in for a wild ride. This is the big one. Sure, there may be something going on in Madrid this evening between Tottenham and Liverpool (and we WILL get there for a bumper game of bingo) but back in Brentford it begins. With Aston Villa confirmed as a Premier League team, there was always going to be untold speculation linking Dean Smith with not only his old club but just about any target that may have been potentially available. Yes, clickbait season – aka the early knockings of the summer transfer window – is here.

The desperate hunt for stories and transfer news sees all manner of sources close to clubs being quoted and suspicions alluded to as news sites will publish anything in the desperate search for hits. Usually involving the phrase, “We understand that…” and  “The player is thought to be: unhappy / desperate to force a move / frustrated / keen to test himself at a higher level”.

We don’t normally do rumours on these pages but with some corkers out there at present, you have to make an exception every now and again.  I’ve already seen a lot of talk about Aston Villa making a £20million swoop for Neal Maupay. It’s an obvious link between Dean Smith and Brentford with an incredible amount of money being suggested but it won’t be happening. No chance. The player is too deeply ingrained into the set up at Griffin Park. The club love him. He loves the club. The final season in our current home is where its going to be happening.

Indeed, if anyone leaves Brentford for Aston Villa then its more likely to be somebody like now out-of-contract Yoann Barbet or Josh McEachran – both of whom thrived under Dean at the start of the season just gone. Nobody can doubt Yoann’s versatility or passion and our loss will be anybody elses’ gain when pen is eventually put to paper. As for Josh, he was widely quoted as still harbouring England ambitions and, to be fair, was one of our stand out players prior to the autumn blip in form that saw us dumping our promotion ambitions for a short lived dalliance with the lower end of the table.

But rest assured, Neal is going nowhere. His value as an individual is, of course, immense but it is his interaction with those around him something that you cannot put a price on. The link up play with the likes of Sergi, Ollie and Said was a thing of beauty to behold. He needs them as much as we need him. If nothing else, can you honestly imagine him and John McGinn in the same team? Let’s just stamp on this rumour right now.

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Going nowhere

I’ve also seen whispering of Dan Bentley to Stoke City. That one seemed pretty random and probably based on nothing more than their all-round awfulness in 2018/19 and our own goalkeeping conundrum that eventually saw duties shared. Let’s not forget our first away game of last season, at Stoke, where the opening goal he and Chris Mepham conspired to let in between them was hardly a great advert for any prospective employer. Personally, I think Dan is great and would hate to see him go. Don’t let the odd hiccup last campaign tarnish his overall quality between the Griffin Park sticks.

Yet the best rumour involves the King. Jota. Despite the quality we have now, one can’t help but go misty-eyed thinking about all he did at Griffin Park. How awful it was to see him end up in that footballing backwater and cultural desert that is Birmingham City.

Now, there are stories doing the rounds that are linking him with a move across the city to reunite with Dean Smith as part of a swap deal involving somebody called Gary Gardner. I have to be honest, he’s not a player I’m overly familiar with but , regardless of the stories validity, it’s my favourite so far. Purely because of the reaction form the St. Andrews faithful. Talk about Twitter meltdown.  

DPE3B5xW0AE7Fz4I hope this one is true. Presumably we’d be in line for any sell on clause whilst it would be incredible to see Jota in the top flight.  He has the ability, that’s for sure. Jota v Jota in the Wolves – Villa game would be magnificent. Anything that causes Birmingham City angst can only be a good thing in my book and they’re likely looking to rebalance their wage bill after last season’s little bit of bother with financial irregularities and that points deduction.  Plus he’s a shoe-in for any fantasy football selection if so.

Come on – make it happen, Dean.

The genuine news out there at present is this evening’s Champions League final between Tottenham and Liverpool. It’s a game that is harder to unravel than one of Matthew Benham’s cryptic video clues. No matter who you think is the strongest of the two, the double ‘miracle’ of the semi-finals where seemingly insurmountable leads were reeled back in prove that both teams have what it takes. And both defences must be somewhat porous to have got into that position in the first place.

If anything, Tottenham pulled off the bigger miracle. Liverpool were at home and had the full 90 minutes to reel in Barcelona. Spurs were playing in Amsterdam and had capitulated to a position that saw them needing their three goals in the second half alone. To hang in there until finally taking an aggregate lead in the 96th minute of the second leg was nothing short of incredible.

I can’t even come close to calling who will win this one. What I can predict, however, is that we’ll have a field day in Champions League final bingo. For no other reason Liverpool are playing. Chuck another English team into the mix and you can bet the related clichés will be on overdrive.

If you’d like to play along, then here’s your card….

anfield bingo

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

That was some weekend. But what’s happening today?

28 May

What a weekend! Brentford now know every team we’ll be playing in the Championship next season after Charlton Athletic triumphed in the League One play-off whilst Frank Lampard’s Derby County missed out to Aston Villa in the battle for a Premier League place. There were nothing but good wishes coming out of TW8 for Dean Smith as saw his dream come true in a game that could have gone either way in a frenzied final ten minutes. Back at Griffin Park, we have incoming news following a cryptic late night tweet from Brentford official on Sunday.

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Villa celebrate at Wembley

Love or hate the play-offs, nobody could deny that was the weekend that had it all. From what we could politely call a ‘defensive mix up’ that put Charlton on the back foot within minutes of kick-off to Derby County suffering their own goalkeeping malfunction that allowed the Villans to double the lead. Despite a late surge and the arrival of Flo Jo from the bench, Dean Smith and his team were able to hang on. The smiles at full time said it all. Smiles that we’ve never experienced as the tears on the faces of the Derby and Sunderland fans were a pain that we know all to well.

Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 06.11.57The bonus of Aston Villa going up means that the Bees already climb a place in the fledgling league table. We’re currently fourth, clear of Leeds United, Fulham and QPR. Newly promoted Charlton are sniffing around the play-offs (not bad for a team that have just gone up) although there’s a shock at the top with both Barnsley and Birmingham City in ‘automatic’. I can’t imagine that will last for too long. Had Derby made it then we’d be sitting in fifth, albeit I can’t imagine Dean Smith would have settled on taking top spot as a palatable alternative.

The other big question from the play-offs was how much Brentford stand to make from Villa going up. What ‘clauses’ (if any) were written into the deal to let Dean go? More importantly, there’s a certain Scott Hogan. Somehow, he has got himself promoted to the Premier League twice in the same season. Officially with Villa and as an on-loan player at Sheffield United. Does this mean we get paid twice? Stranger things have happened.

Waking up this morning, Brentford official have started to prepare the way for some form of news. I say, some. In part this is obvious – we have incoming. The tweet that went up late last night noted : ✍ Announce 9am.

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The pen emoji presumably for a contract being signed rather than to highlight our new rnage of autograph books in the club shop. And if so, every bit of transfer gossip suggest this will be Danish midfielder Christian Nørgaard from Fiorentina. Whilst that bit may be fairly nailed on – if you believe what you read – what still remains uncertain at this moment in time is what form of ‘signing photo’ we are going to get.

The classic ‘pen poised over contract’? How about, ‘Holding a Brentford scarf’ – either aloft or at waist height? Yet perhaps this could a double whammy to link in with the kit launch. Imagine if the new player were to appear with our first look at the Umbro 2019/20 kit? Home or away? Don’t forget that last season, supporter Lucy Draper was given permission to drop the images on to Twitter to formerly launch the kit whilst the arrival of Said Benrahma was first revealed in a video clip to supporter Ryan.

The point being that we like to do things in an unorthodox style. Whilst unlikely (and it may not even be Christian who is joining), until such time as we see the images I won’t rule out the possibility of a new shirt being included.

Just as long as there isn’t a comedy hashtag……

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Is Christian now a Bee?

Nick Bruzon