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Here we go again…..

12 Sep

No sooner has the weekend gone than Brentford hit the road for a second away game in three days. Following the 0-0 with Aston Villa on Saturday, next up is tonight’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday. Can Dean Smith’s team make it 7th(seventh) time lucky and record a first league victory that, whilst our play has more than suggested should have come by now, currently remains tantalisingly out of reach?

I missed Aston Villa. Even in as much as being able to listen to Mark Burridge and team. Whatever the opposite of a footballing green card is, it was played by Mrs Bruzon as a long planned family weekend away took precedence over any lingering thoughts of a trip to Villa Park. Let alone keeping a crafty ear pinned to goings on in the Midlands. Instead, it was country walks through muddy fields as Brentford had, by all accounts, the lion’s share of the game against opponents who believed their own pre-season hype.

Mark talks us through the highlights

Twitter, as ever, a joy to behold from supporters (theirs) who had failed to recognise the Brentford potential and, instead, assumed us to be the pub team that our relative size (and wage bills) suggested. Even Dr. Tony Xia getting in on the act as Brentford’s Championship record against Aston Villa now reads : P3 W1 D2 L0 F4 A1.

We’ve said it countless times before and will no doubt say it again. Having a big stadium, a huge fanbase, a proud history and a ginormous wage bill doesn’t give you a divine right to be any good now. History counts for naff all when it’s 11 v11 trying to play your way out of what is, arguably, football’s toughest division. Just look at how Leeds United have fared since they dropped out of the Premier League in 2004.

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Arrogance and over confidence. How many times will we see it?

All of which brings with sledgehammer like unsubtly to Sheffield Wednesday this evening. A former top flight team with a huge stadium and more than the odd bit of silverware to their name. They’re unbeaten in five league games with 2 wins and 3 draws seeing them sitting 10th in the fledgling Championship table. A midweek trip immediately after Villa, with less away fans than would normally have been expected (give the distance and Saturday’s exertions) would probably not have been on Dean Smith’s ‘wishlist’ . But can Brentford come away with anything?

Out recent form has been relatively positive. In the last five games we’ve only lost once, that being the trip to Ipswich Town where the Bees dominated for the first half hour before being caught by the consummate sucker punch. It is a run that has included three more draws in the league as well as the 4-1 thrashing administered to QPR in the league cup.

If ever anyone was going to suggest that the league table lies (it doesn’t) it would be now. Our play has been quite wonderful at times and, but for some inspired opposition ‘keepers / our own defence having the odd ‘walkabout’ moment then surely the W column would be registering at least 2 ? Nottingham Forest and Bristol City, I’m looking at you.

So can we go one better against Sheffield Wednesday tonight? Well, in short: Yes. Rico Henry is fit again which means we have a recognised left back once more. Harlee Dean is amongst those to have gone and, whatever your thoughts on that move, it does mean that at least we are closer to a settled centre back pairing. Ryan Woods was, by all accounts, at his best against Aston Villa whilst with Sergi Canos suffering that ankle blow there’ll be hopes that Flo Jo has recovered from the fever that caused him to miss Saturday’s game.

Club sponsor LeoVegas have us as long as 13/5 to win this one. That’s very generous in my eyes. Whilst the deeds to the house won’t be going on it, perhaps a little investment – purely for research purposes – is the order of the day.

Take my advice at your peril. Yet, at the same time, I’ve got a feeling something is going to give tonight. In a good way.

Here’s to 7.45pm when we find out.

Nick Bruzon

 

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What a wonderful gesture for fans. There’s still time to get involved.

7 Sep

With the Brentford Fan Forum tonight and the return to Championship action approaching with the trip to Aston Villa on Saturday there’s going to be more than enough to talk about over the next few days. So we’ll keep this relatively brief and acknowledge our near neighbours QPR. Specifically the fact that this Saturday sees them celebrate the 100th anniversary of their first fixture at Loftus Road when Ipswich Town visit. For the stat lovers amongst us, 8th September 1917 saw QPR take on West Ham for the stadium’s opening game and now they are looking to celebrate a centenary.

It wouldn’t be a ‘new stadium’ story without West Ham muscling in on the act. Apparently, and you may have missed it, they moved recently. Albeit these days the buzz is less about their own Olympic Park and more their owners. But that’s another story.

This time around, QPR are the team in the limelight. And to help mark this occasion they’ve been asking fans to use the hashtag #LoftusRoad100 to post pictures on Twitter. The best of these will then feature on the programme for the Ipswich game.

What a lovely gesture. And how great to see the reaction of supporters. Not just from QPR but other clubs, too. Not least Brentford where several of our fans have got involved in the action to help our neighbours mark the date. Photos of the stadium exterior, players scoring goal after goal, Romaine Saywers and even the technicolour marvel that is the scoreboard are all featured.

So do take a quick look. #LoftusRoad100. And for anybody wishing to get involved, the closing date for entries is 10am today.

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100 years of Loftus Road. Can you help them celebrate?

As for Aston Villa, I can’t wait to get back to action on Saturday. What with several of our heroes moving on, the Stadium news and Gibraltar shipping 9 in Belgium it’s been a turbulent week or so for yours truly. But all that’s behind us and its time to look forwards.

And what better way to do so than with the major positive being Sergi Canos. The Spanish wing wizard featuring in the B-team fixture at Griffin Park, against QPR of all teams, earlier in the week.

Whilst I missed the final score, I do know that he made it through 66 minutes of the game and seems as excited as ever about playing at Griffin Park. Certainly if his own Twitter feed is to be believed.

We all know how good Sergi is and what he can do. At a time when some of us might need a shot in the arm, to have him back will be a wonderful thing. Aston Villa haven’t had the best of starts and will no doubt be there for the taking, albeit I’m going for my standard Villa bet of 1-1 in this one (for research purposes, that’s currently available at 23/4).

The Villans sit just above Brentford in 18th place and, it would be fair to say, so far haven’t set the world alight this season. See also: last season. Moreso, for a team inexplicably tipped as title favourites when the campaign began.

That said, our own record isn’t as good as some of our play suggests. However, and quality though they were, with both Harlee and Max departing for Birmingham at least the plethora of defensive combination should be whittled down somewhat. There was a double pair of Danish clean sheets for Andreas Bjelland and Henrik Dalsgaard during the break, which will only have the defensive duo in high spirits. Chuck Sergi into the mix and who knows what could happen?

Whilst I’ve called it 1-1, Villa failing to score is an equal possibility. Certainly if our old friend SimonHateley on twitter is to be believed. He’s recently posted a wonderful graphic showing just how Villa Park really is THE place where goalscoring form goes to die.

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Villa Park. Where form goes to die. Apparently

That’s all to come though. First up we have the Fan’s forum. Don’t forget that one starts at 7.00ppm tonight in The Hive and so do get along if you can. I can’t imagine many other clubs doing this on such a regular basis and what a great chance to put anything you may wish to ask to our top brass.

Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

Mamma Mia, here we go again. Brentford score big but who are this season’s dark horses?

1 Aug

With the Championship season almost upon us, it would be fair to say that anticipation is rising. Nowhere moreso than at Griffin Park where last night young Brentford fans were given the chance to meet their heroes at the now traditional summer ‘open day’. Sky Sports have launched their own season preview (remember the one Ian Holloway did last time out?) where along with the standard installation of Middlesbrough and Aston Villas as favourites, there’s no surprise for Bees fans. And the EFL have announced a shake up to penalty shoot outs that will have local journalists and bad bloggers in pun heaven.

First up, last night at Griffin Park. What can you say? It never ceases to amaze me just how incredible our players are. I’ve said this before but it needs to be said again. What for them could have been a tedious contractual obligation became a wonderful hour and a half (if not longer) for all those young fans lining up to get a peak behind the scenes and a photo with the stars. Not to mention an autograph or two.

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They were all, without question, wonderful. We got along quite late in the day yet the enthusiasm of the squad was infectious. Whatever Dean Smith and his staff are doing for squad morale is just incredible. What a brilliant group of players who went out of their way to welcome young supporters who might have been bit nervous / awestruck. (and that was just dad, although perhaps not so much of the young).

The entire squad was pretty much all there. Even new dad Maxime Colin, who one could have understandably expected to be on paternity leave. I don’t want to overly single anybody out although big thanks to Harlee, Lewis and Jota for their help with the picture. Hitting peak tiredness, somebody went very shy before composing himself after some enthusiastic words from his heroes.

Would you get this at another Championship team? Would the players be so welcoming? Would the club be so relaxed and open ? Would the club make such a great effort for their fans?  There was nothing corporate about this, it was just beautifully arranged. It was just Brentford. THANK YOU.

HB, Harlee, Lewis, Jota

Sky Sports. We all know what happened this time last season. Pundit Ian Holloway wrote his pre-season review in which he tipped the Bees for a poor season and relegation to League One. The rest is history.

Fast forward twelve months and whilst not the QPR boss with pen in hand, the TV company have published this year’s version. Divided into four categories of : Title contenders, Play-off hopefuls, Dark horses and Potential strugglers it looks at the so-called runners and riders in each category. So where do Brentford fit in?

The answer is a simple one. Nowhere. Not surprisingly they have Middlesbrough as favourites (I’d agree) along with Aston Villa – whom everybody is backing. I’m sorry, but I genuinely don’t get it. They were awful last season. Is a geriatric defender going transform them? Bring on Jota to run at him – Jake Bidwell, round 2.

But that aside, where are The Bees? Quite simply we don’t even warrant a passing mention.

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Whilst I’m tipping us for fifth, I can sympathise with their reticence to perhaps label us play-off contenders. But for a team that have had three top ten finishes over our Championship life (including that play-off with Middlesbrough) and have bought exceptionally over the summer to not even be deemed a ‘dark horse’ is odd.

Then again, if you do want to see Brentford as a dark horse Rod Liddle in The Times has us marked up. Or should that be down? He has us as relegation candidates and scoops this year’s Ian Holloway award.

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Look – I love all this. Three full seasons in and still nobody fancies us. Nobody gives us a hope. We are the stealth bombers of the Championship. Flying very much undetected, under the radar and all the way to the top. Keep on ignoring us – even the TV channels don’t give us a look in over August and September – and that’s just fine by me. If we can say the same to the end of the transfer window then all the better.

Finally, penalty kicks. You may have seen this yesterday but the EFL have announced they are switching the traditional shoot out to the ABBA system for the Carabao Cup, Checkatrade Trophy (should anybody be watching) and play-offs. Effectively, the shoot out will be contested like a tennis tie-break where after the first team starts, teams then get two consecutive kicks each and then continues as such until we have a winner.

The blurb on the EFL site tells us that “The trial of the new system is being backed by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in response to a hypothesis that the player taking the second kick is under greater mental pressure in the current format. Therefore, a different order of kickers will be trialled in an experiment to reduce any apparent advantage the team taking the first kick may have”.

Regular or ABBA. It’s still nerve wracking and exciting in equal measure. Although with the League cup starting next week, this doesn’t give huge amounts of time to prepare. Personally, I’m more interested in the pun potential off the back of this. Which manager will be sending out an SOS? Who will meet his Waterloo? At the end of the day (Clive), the winner takes it all.

Whatever your thoughts on the new system, I can see those headlines being crowbarred in already. Answers on a postcard to the Middlesex Chronicle, marked ‘pun’.

Then again, the only way this could have been bettered is rather than ABBA, the EFL had gone for Diana Ross on the penalty front…..

Nick Bruzon

If Carlsberg did Twitter. New signing and backfiring bet see media team attain greatness.

19 Jul

Brentford travel to Oxford United for the latest stage in our pre-season programme, buzzing from the news that the much touted transfer of Ollie Watkins from Exeter City has been completed. Becoming our eighth signing of the summer, the conclusion of this move has seen two wonderful bits of social media (three if you count our own lack of hashtag / signing video when the news was announced). The first could leave one Bees supporter very much out of pocket whilst the second threatens to catapult a Nottingham Forest fan into Simon Hateley territory (he of Aston Villa infamy).

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Ollie Watkins joins. Its all very red

First, Ollie himself. What can you say? The Hoff may have departed over the summer but he has been replaced up top by first Neal Maupay and now the EFL young player of the year. The club were understandably excited about the news with Phil Giles telling official We first made an offer for Ollie 12 months ago, and again last January, so I am glad that we were finally able to sign him this time around”.

But it was on Twitter where the real story was beginning to unfold. Andy Scott joined Phil in celebrating the news about the Exeter man joining us, noting on the football front that it has been “A huge team effort from everybody involved” and that “patience is a virtue!” before going on to note that Ollie is “part of the family now!”.

Judging by the picture of his agent, its probably not the first time he’s heard that phrase. I’m sure he’s a lovely guy and all that but I for one wouldn’t want to cross him, going on this photo. That’s one intense look.

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Ollie and his agent. Was a horse’s head involved in transfer negotiations?

Spare a thought too for Brentford fan Josh Mahoney who is currently in the chair for a £2.5K bar bill following a tweet published last week, where he laid down a gauntlet which has come back to bite him firmly on the behind:

Can’t see us signing Ollie Watkins, if we do I’ll buy everyone who likes this a drink this season.

Yet it was the comeback from official which inspired what one supporter has described to me as “The greatest thing that media team have ever done”.

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Chris, Sean and Ciaran most definitely first up at the bar

What? This is brilliant. This is genuinely funny. Is this the same media team that has previously brought us ‘The Obama meme’,  #TrophyFriends and #Novemberkings? Whatever wind of change has blown through Chris Wickham’s department you can only doff your cap. First, no hashtag or gimmick to announce Ollie had joined from Exeter (take a leaf, Aston Villa with your fake Whatsapps and #WelcomeJT). Now, a genuine joke. And a great one. Not withstanding their choice of drink.

Andy was on fine form too, showing just what happens when you cross swords with Scott, Giles and Ankersen (not a law firm or 70s folk group).

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But it wasn’t just Josh who was left eating his words.

Up at the City Ground, Nottingham Forest fan ‘Redman’ may be regretting his own boast. Whilst not in Hateley territory (yet), this has somewhat backfired.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 05.59.07As at the time of writing (6.00am, Wednesday morning) we’re still waiting for banter to commence. Very much a case of tumbleweed and radio silence. Ironically, something matched by Forest fan Matt Dyson – the avocado loving sports presenter on Christian O’Connell’s Absolute Radio breakfast show. His bulletins failing to mention what was the day’s big transfer story.

The other question to come out of this is how we pay for the summer’s transfer activity and changes to the wage bill? Moreso to remain FFP compliant. Of course, the fees paid for our new signings are undisclosed, we have a new sponsorship deal and are about to begin our fourth season in the Championship. Yet with previous seasons seeing outward activity as well as inward, the big fear remains that we’ll be saying ‘adios’ to Jota.

Burnley are the latest club to join the rumour mill (although I’m still laughing at the thought he’d go to the likes of Derby County or the aforementioned Forest, despite their Assombalonga windfall) despite there being no further news following Dean’s talk 12 days ago about an imminent big bid coming in.

So what happens at the Kassam tonight could be telling. Of course, Dean has already said that if a bid fails to materialise then Jota “will be available for the Oxford United game”. Playing won’t be a guarantee he’ll be with us for the big kick off but any absence from the starting XI will be an enormous sign.

Jota 2-2

Faster than a speeding bullet – is the Spanish superman leaving Griffin Park ?

I’m not stupid (completely). We all know how good Jota is. We all know his contract is running out so we could lose a £10million player for nothing. We all know our own model. We all know we’ve sold and still thrived before. Yet, the footballing romantic in me is desperate for him to stay. The last five years have been SO exciting. With a wonderful spine to this team and an ever evolving squad, he really could be the final piece in a promotion gamble.

I’ve called top six already. Given our experience and starting XI this is more than feasible. With Jota in the team, the chances can only improve.

That may well be a decision that is already out of our hands. A decision that has already been made. One thing’s for sure, the Brentford family will be taking a very keen interest in tonight’s team sheet when that one is published.

For now, though, let’s focus on the uber-positive. Jota is a bee and we’ve made another wonderful purchase. Our media team have developed a genuine sense of humour and we’ve not sold any fan favourites.

On a day that sees us looking at how football and Twitter work hand in hand, what better way to end than with another observation from the social media platform. Ian Westbrook distilling it all into one tweet.

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Nick Bruzon

What’s worse than a hashtag? Two hashtags. And a fake Whatsapp

4 Jul

Roll on August. Please. As tumbleweed continues to blow through the Championship, something actually happened yesterday. Brentford haven’t signed/sold anybody although Aston Villa have – and it would be fair to say they are wetting themselves over picking up a past his prime John Terry from Chelsea. Elsewhere, we’ve dodged the TV cameras with the latest fixtures up until the end of September. And there’s shock news there for Leeds United fans.

Clanggggg. The sound of a name being dropped. This week I wrote the annual season preview for FourFourTwo magazine, looking at the good and bad of Brentford, along with a number of other Championship based questions. One of which being – Who will be the biggest pantomime villain in the Championship this season?

I did think about Aston Villa super fan Simon Hateley – still smarting from all his bravado last season coming back to royally bite him. What was Villa’s record against the Bees? Ah yes, P 2 W0 D1 L1 GD -3 and £15m handed over – thanks for that.

But then it really would be too niche and, besides, Hateley fits more in the category of unintentional comedian rather than poor man’s Christopher Biggins. That said, he’s still going strong on Twitter at the moment, declaring his own Scott Hogan a ‘bag of shite’ this week. And you can follow him etc at @simonchateley.

Sadly, magazine deadlines ahead of an August publication got in the way of choosing a player who would surely have won the poll hands down. Aston Villa new boy, John Terry.

In the most cringeworthy of press releases – a simulated WhatsApp conversation between Dr. Tony Xia (the man going neck and neck with Vincent Tan as the Championship’s poor man’s Bond villain) – the news was released yesterday. In it, (current) manager Steve Bruce was given the news that Villa had got their man from Chelsea.

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Oh, you couldn’t make it up. Toes are curling just looking at this news now. I’m not sure what’s worse. The cheesy press release or the fact they’ve signed this most disruptive and washed up of players. No premier League club have touched him. No MLS side – surely the standard cash cow for any past their prime ‘name’ – have made an offer he can’t refuse . No side challenging for Championship promotion have gone near him. I can’t wait to see us run rings around the rusty old legs. September 9th can’t come soon enough.

There were multiple hashtags for this one. #WelcomeJT and #PartOfThe Pride. Still nowhere near #Bignewambitions or #Trophyfriends but at least we’ve dropped all that nonsense now. Good luck to Villa, seriously.

Whilst Hateley was unusually silent on the subject, comments on Twitter from other fans included: “Most high profile signing at Villa for years.” ,”Im over the moon with this, great signing, leading by example, UTV” and “Can not wait until I see the legend he is at villa park, what a sight that will be!” I fear this is a massive gamble that will only end in disappointment – whether for Terry’s new admirers or his team mates.

Give me Harlee Dean, any day.

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JT is a Villan. Indeed

Elsewhere, the latest round of TV fixtures has been announced. Brentford have managed to swerve the cameras whilst perennial Sky favourites Leeds United only appear once. Not a typo. The club that have had more appearances than Steve Claridge has had clubs have only been picked for their trip to Sunderland. Infact, there seems to be a real mixture of teams being shown for the games prior to 9 September.

That said, we’re not out of the woods yet with 14 July being the final date for the last September games to be announced. Fulham and QPR are amongst those to also avoid rearrangement, so far. Surely West London won’t avoid selection come the next round.

This is all part and parcel of being in the Championship, of course. Griffin Park has been a popular place for the cameras over the last few seasons and it’s no doubt a matter of time before our number is up. At least we can do some train booking in relative confidence though and with Sky having opted for Sheffield Wednesday v Nottingham Forest on September 9th, at least our trip to see Scott Hogan, John Terry (assuming not dropped, suspended/injured by that stage) et al remains as is

The full list of TV fixtures to date on ‘official’ .

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Brentford will return to Villa Park at 3pm on 9 Sep

AUTHOR’S PLUG – (it’s all for charity).

And if you’d like to read more about last season including those wins over Villa and Leeds, amongst others then please don’t forget (how could you?) that the regular season review e-book is now available for download. This one is titled ‘Welcome home, King Jota’ and this time around it is for a great cause. All funds raised are being given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Likewise, any subsequent sales from the previous versions.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 2016 to May 2017 and a bit of new material too, you can pick it up, here. It’s just £1.99.

So why not do something great to help our club. What else will £1.99 get you? What better way to spend some time on the commute to work, the beach, by the pool or even hiding out in the toilet at the office?

For less than the cost of half a pint on match day, it’s the season review that has been designed to fit in your pocket (if you are using an i-phone).

Nick Bruzon

From the best to the worst in football’s role of honour. Plus a new favourite site.

21 Mar

Whilst there were some Brentford fans upset about the recent sale of Scott Hogan to Aston Villa, one would hope that those concerns have now been dispelled. Ably abetted by the two amigos on the flanks, a rejigged formation and a great Dane up top, The Bees have money in the bank and 25 goals in the 11 games since the Scott moved to Villa Park. Things could have been a lot, lot worse as we’ll look at momentarily. At the other end of the field, there was great news for John Egan who was called up to the Republic of Ireland squad for Friday’s World Cup qualifier with Wales.

Nobody could doubt John’s performances this season. At one point he was neck and neck with Scott to be our leading scorer whilst, more importantly, has forged a wonderful partnership with Harlee Dean at the back.

Brentford ‘official’ share the great news on social media

I don’t envy head coach Dean Smith having to crowbar the pair of them, Yoann Barbet and fellow international Andreas Bjelland into his team. Perhaps the quality at his disposal goes someway to explaining our mid-season persistence with three centre backs. It was a valid attempt but one which persisted for far too long as it became clear it wasn’t working.

Yet, and with the greatest respect to Yoann and Andreas, John and Harlee are – at least in my opinion – our absolute nailed on first choice centre backs. Harlee has been magnificent this campaign and, along with Dan Bentley and John Egan, remains in my top three for player of the season. Although had Jota returned a month or two earlier then that competition would be an even stiffer one.

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Jota – c/o Sky. Imagine if he’d come back earlier…..

So news of John’s call up yesterday was one that is thoroughly deserved but has only been a matter of time. John, if you are reading (unlikely, let’s be honest) congratulations. As for Harlee and Dan, give it another season or two playing like this and their matching him on the International scene, for England, is well within the bounds of credibility.

Next up Twitter. A popular subject on these pages for many reasons. Ease of use, interaction with the actual players, Kitman Bob and his BBB giveaways, banter with fellow fans and the most immediate means of learning news updates are amongst the many reason for the site’s popularity here.

For Brentford supporters, there’s a recent addition to our family of familiar faces (© the Middlesex Chronicle big book of ’80s alliteration) out there in cyber space. Brentford Bot.

In their own words, “Judging Positive and Negative mentions of Brentford“.And that’s about all there is to it. But very, very well executed, often deadpan but sometimes laugh out loud funny and showing a tireless dedication to keeping the Bees family updated. I’ve no idea who the power behind the Bot is, but it’s well worth a follow. You can find @BrentfordBOT here.

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Brentford Bot does his/her/its (?) thing

Ok – striker sales. We talked at the top end about the departure of Scott Hogan to Aston Villa. Those of us a bit longer in the tooth need no reminding of what has happened in the past – Nicky Forster, Carl Asaba, Gary Blissett, Robert Taylor, Dean Holdsworth, DJ Campbell and even Andy Scott are amongst those who have been sold in their free scoring prime. Goals aside, the other thing connecting these players was their lack of a like-for-like replacement.

To be fair, how do you replace the likes of Deano, Bliss or the FT index? Even for the player, following a fan favourite and goalscoring legend must be thankless task. Yet when this goes wrong it can be truly horrific.

FourFourTwo magazine have just started to publish their list of every league club’s worst ever player. The initial instalment, in a series which is now running daily, runs from Accrington Stanley up to Bury, taking in the likes of Aston Villa, Bournemouth and of course Brentford along the way.

On the Bees front, it feels somewhat awkward badmouthing one of our own yet for whatever the reason we’ve had some players over the years who really haven’t shone. Past their prime, over weight, over rated or just really, really bad. It happens. It happens to every club. So when FourFourTwo approached yours truly for the name of the Griffin Park protagonist, it was one that eventually came about as a result of a public vote. Too much power should not lie with just one man.

It was a top five that included, in no particular order : Nick Proschwitz, Paul Davis, Murray jones, Neil Shipperley and Steve Claridge. Yet in the end the ‘winner’ was a clear one.

And you can find out who, here…

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Nick Bruzon

If you can’t beat them (and they can’t), then sign them. Thank you, Aston Villa

2 Feb

The transfer window has closed. Hot off the back of thumping Aston Villa 3-0 at Griffin Park on Tuesday night, Brentford announced that goal machine Scott Hogan had, finally, been sold. Not to long time suitors West Ham – a club who would have, in the short term, fulfilled his Premier League aspirations – but instead to none other than Villa themselves. Championship rivals to the Bees and now sitting below us in the table.

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Aston Villa announce their side of the deal

Good luck to Scott, genuinely. I’m sure we’ve all seen his message to supporters , sent via club Captain Harlee Dean. We’ll miss his goals, no question, but Lasse Vibe showed once more that he is more than capable of stepping up. Moreso given the new look formation employed by Dean on Tuesday night as Aston Villa were put to the sword.

I suppose we’ve a lot to be thankful to Villa for. Brentford have received a record club transfer fee whilst West Ham have been put firmly back in their box. On the pitch, we’ve picked up four points from a possible six over the course of the current season. Our record against Villa now reading:

P2 W1 D1 L0 F4 A1

Not bad, for a pub team.

Then, of course, we’ve got ‘tweet of the season’ from quite possibly football’s angriest fan. This beauty appeared prior to Brentford visiting Villa Park back in September. Fair to say that Master Hateley is probably looking for a new team to support at present. I hear Birmingham City are worth a look. Similar current form and a former Brentford goal machine up front.

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The other reason to be thankful was that it has freed up funds to let us sign Sergi Canos.

Looking at the player’s post on Twitter it would be fair to say he seems as excited as the Brentford supporters about a permanent return to Griffin Park, telling the club that his move was,  “Amazing. I feel full of happiness” before putting his motivation down to the supporters themselves for believing in him.

The whole piece is on Brentford official and well worth a read through. And , for Beesplayer subscribers, there’s even a video. Do take a look, You won’t be disappointed.

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Equally good news about the Canos transfer is that we didn’t use that most cringeworthy of social media devices, a hashtag.To be fair, after #bignewambitions (never, ever forget), #Novemberkings and #trophyfriends, it would be fair to say that the club have been a lot more judicious about the use of such devices.

Instead, Brentford fans have looked on and laughed as other teams fall prey to this trap. The season has already given us QPR with #Jakejoins. Now, we have had #WelcomeScott from Aston Villa.

As correspondent Luis Adriano note on Twitter yesterday, it looked as though he was standing in front of a TV weather map, Carol Kirkwood style. All that was missing were a few magnetic stickers. Personally, I’m more a Michael Fish fan – from a meteorological perspective – although do think Luis may have a point.

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That said, looking at Scott’s stance – classic Antoine de Caunes – he is perhaps more kitted out to stand in for the host of early-90s pop culture show, Rapido. Whilst I can’t imagine Scott ever cracking out the “Rap, Rap, Rap, Rapiiiidoo” (kids, ask your dads), he does have a certain Je ne sais quoi about him.

In all seriousness though, there’s nothing but genuine good wishes toward Scott. We all know the 18 month injury hell he went through which now seems well behind him whilst his goals saved us on more than a few occasions.

I’m sure he’ll continue to find the back of the net for Villa. Indeed, I hope he does. There’s more than a few ’Scott Hogan – leading Championship goalscorer’ bets that are still well alive.

For research purposes, of course.

welcome-scott-rapido

Nick Bruzon

Not bad, for a pub team. Brentford destroy Aston Villa to exorcise memory of Chelsea

1 Feb

Fair play to Dean Smith. Let’s start right there, pause, and then say it again. Fair play to Dean Smith. After the debacle at Chelsea on Saturday (and I still stand by what was said after that one) this was ‘good’ Brentford back again. Not even ‘good’ but more ‘magnificent’ as Aston Villa were sent packing on the wrong end of a 3-0 defeat. So outclassed were the Villans that new signing Scott Hogan will now be more concerned with playing in League One than the Premier League next season. It was as one sided a game as you could imagine.

What a night. From the unveiling of new signing Sergi Canos to an all round team performance that was as good as we’ve seen all season, if not longer. Brentford were simply stunning as they tore apart an Aston Villa side who looked like a bunch of strangers at a meeting of the Steve McClaren fan club. With torrential rain falling all night long, the Bees used the slick conditions to their advantage; Villa looked as though they’d forgotten to pack their golf umbrellas.

Who do you praise? All of them. Who do you single out? Lasse Vibe is the obvious candidate and scooped Sky’s man of the match aware for his two goals. The first coming as he was set free by Nico Yennaris and the third as he was played in by an absolutely exquisite through ball from Josh McEachran. This, the highlight of a wonderful night for the former Chelsea man. “Oh my actual life” gasped one Terrace wag as that move reached a net rippling denouement, with Lasse then launching himself across the pitch for a full on body slide.

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Another wonderful set of pictures from another wonderful night

In between these , Nico had doubled the lead as a pin point cross from Jota out on the right wing landed perfectly for the midfielder to fire home off his studs. He had no right to score from there with three Villa defenders around him but the positioning of the cross and the timing of the execution made the outcome inevitable.

Jota was rampant. Oh, how good to have him back and starting. Florian Jozefzoon impressed on his debut whilst Ryan Woods was as tenacious as only he can be. The defence were virtually faultless with Harlee Dean, in particular, immense. And that was just going forward ! We could name them all – it was the consumate team performance.

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View form The Braemar. Jota’s back – in the starting XI

Most of all though, we need to note how Dean Smith reacted. Changes were made – to personnel and formation. The defensive heavy set up seen against Chelsea was replaced by a formation that allowed us, no encouraged us, to go forward. With the Bees reverting to a traditional four man defence and given extra width on the flanks with more room in the middle, the response was as emphatic as one could have hoped for.

The key word for the season has been consistency. With Brighton next up on Sunday, and playing away on Thursday night at Huddersfield, the Bees have another tough fixture. No less than the League leaders. Yet, also, having shown what we can do against a supposedly ‘big’ team, can Dean and his troops offer up a repeat?

As for Scott Hogan, I’m just glad this sorry affair is now over. That’s no offence to the player but more a huge two fingers up to West Ham and the agents who tried to bully us but, instead, had it thrown back in their face.

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Oh dear. A hashtag

We’ll miss his goals , for sure, but if the Bees can play with the same freedom of expression as they did last night then perhaps this is a return to a Brentford side not so reliant on one man. A Brentford side who can score goals from all over pitch.

There’s another huge test coming up on Sunday but we can go into it with a lot more optimism after last night.

Not bad, for a pub team.

Nick Bruzon

Could Aston Villa kerplunk Brentford AND West Ham? Deadline day & match day are here.

31 Jan

What is your focus today ? Brentford v Aston Villa in the battle for three points or Brentford v West Ham in the battle for Scott Hogan’s transfer fee. Yes, it’s match day AND transfer deadline day in a bizarre crossing of the streams that can only end badly for everybody. Moreso, with yesterday’s rumour of the day being an apparent bid for Hogan from none other than Villa themselves.

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Don’t cross the streams…

That’s not happening, fact. And when I say fact, I mean more opinion. I’ve no inside knowledge but let’s look at the situation a little bit. The Villans are locked firmly in middle table, a mere three points above our own Bees. Despite a brief resurgence when Steve Bruce took over the reins early in the season, they’ve hardly set the world alight. 12 draws (usually 1-1) from their 27 games sees them hard to beat but hardly the sort of team that will have anybody rushing out to watch them. The football I’ve seen has been of a turgid, industrial nature as the draw specialists (they’ve had the most ‘single point’ games in the division), grind their way through the Championship.

Given Scott’s avowed intent to be playing Premier League football, any move to Aston Villa would be a bizarre one. A return to that top flight is a long way off and certainly won’t happen this campaign. The very soonest they’ll be scrapping to avoid relegation to the Championship would be August 2018. Is he really going to wait that long when, along with West Ham, Crystal Palace and Watford are amongst those reportedly touting for his signature.

I believe those two as much as I believe the Aston Villa rumour but, if there’s even a chance of playing in the top flight why would he tie himself to the Championship? Villa have a wonderful history and a magnificent stadium – nobody can deny that. But they aren’t a Premier League team. Not any more.

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Aston Villa hardly threatening the top flight at present

This smells of Tarkowski all over again. The day we were due to play Burnley, with the club looking to sign him up, he refused to play. I’m not suggesting for one second that Scott will attempt to pull the same stunt (assuming West Ham haven’t stumped up the requisite cash by that point) but is this enough just to put our danger man off his game? Is this enough just to keep him out of the squad as ‘negotiations’ take place? Is this enough to make an agent pick up the phone and comment how the hamstring looked a little stretched at Stamford Bridge on Saturday?

In my opinion, and that’s all it is, discount all the other nonsense. It’ll be West Ham or nowhere . I still hope it is nowhere, just so as we can demonstrate we are no longer the sort of club to be bullied in transfer negotiations. Scott will go at some point but let it be on our terms and moreso as, unless the master of surprise Matthew Benham has more than few hidden cards up his sleeve, there can’t surely be any time to bring in new blood.

Instead, this is just another game where preparation is disrupted by outside influence. I still can’t get my head around the craziness of the transfer window. Let alone holding a programme of Premier League and Championship fixtures as it ‘slams’ shut(TM).

Whilst most people will be looking to see Harry Redknapp eating out of a car window – surely something that he still has an obligation to perform, despite not managing a club since he bailed on doomed QPR two years ago because of a knee problem – in TW8 we’ll be left wondering who will even start tonight and who will be in the squad this time tomorrow.

Focus should be on the game. It should be on picking ourselves up and putting in a performance to prove the naysayers wrong after Chelsea.And it wasn’t just me on that front. For a very considered read then Billy Grant’s latest Beesotted column on the subject is well worth a look.

Dean has a lot to prove tonight and he has a lot to do to restore some confidence and cheer to the Brentford fans. He can do it, no question. He has the players to do it. But it would be a lot easier if we didn’t have any transfer related distractions hanging around.

See you at Griffin Park where, given my prediction skills, Scott will likely be on the opposition bench.

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Will this be all that happens today?

 

Nick Bruzon

With Chelsea done and Aston Villa next up, could West Ham continue to disrupt Brentford boss?

30 Jan

I’d like to say “And relax” at this point but I can’t. We can’t. I’m still just so frustrated about the no show at Chelsea on Saturday as, it would seem, are an awful lot of Brentford fans given the response to yesterday’s column on Dean’s team selection and set up at Stamford Bridge. Yet straight off that we’ve Tuesday night’s televised home game with Aston Villa. If that wasn’t a tough enough challenge already, we’re waking up to the news that West Ham have finally sold Dimitri Payet to Marseille.

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The news is official. Does this mean Scott is next?

I really feel for Dean Smith on this one. Having a full programme of fixtures at the same time as the transfer window slams shut (TM) is just ludicrous. How on earth does a manger / head coach (whatever) prepare for a game at the same time as those final thrusts of frenetic bargaining are due to reach their denouement?

Will West Ham finally budge over Scott Hogan? Will Brentford have to compromise on the valuation that we have long held out for? If no sale has gone through today will he even be in contention to line up against Aston Villa? Just how on earth can these last minute negotiations which have become so much an unwelcome part of our game take place when the exact same subjects of such haggling are supposed to be plying the very trade for which they are now sought?

Presumably if not sold then he’s a Brentford player for the rest of the season and goes straight back into the team – the club then able to conduct the inevitable sale at their leisure over the summer.

Scott will go. I won’t be crying if it doesn’t happen this time around. And if only for the two figures it will stick up to those agents who have been doing their best to disrupt his, and our, preparations over the last few weeks.

None of this glosses over the Chelsea selection. Try the same against Aston Villa and we’re doomed. Dean HAS got the players that can win big games. He’s done it himself, too. Just look at Brighton away, the home humping of Reading or even the psychological triumph of the trip to Loftus Road. Yet for all of those is a Wigan (H&A), Rotherham, Fulham or Barnsley (all home).

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The QPR game just one of those when Dean’s Bees rose to the occasion

This is not me being ungrateful. I’ve said many times that the simple fact Brentford are approaching a fourth season in the Championship is cause for huge celebration in itself. But it is perplexing how the team have played so inconsistently this season. It is confusing as to why the formation change seems, at times, more and more about crowbarring in the centre backs and favoured midfielders than playing to our strengths.

I’ve not seen a team put in such a no-show as they did on Saturday in a long, long time. And let’s just discount who we were playing or where. If the FA Cup has shown us one thing this weekend, it is that a well organised and positive outfit can perform heroics against supposedly superior opposition. Sutton United, Lincoln City, Wolves and a desperately unfortunate Wycombe Wanderers are all proof of that.

Dean , if you are reading (you aren’t) Saturday was desperately disappointing. Moreso the subsequent press conference where there didn’t seem to be any perception of just how badly he’d got it wrong, this time around. Most of us expected to lose but at least to go down fighting or to even just give it a go from the off. I’d rather have lost 7(seven) – 0 and tried for 90 minutes than lose by four yet only turn up for the start of the second half. I take no pleasure from writing what I did yesterday. But sometimes things need to be said.

We’ve already been through the cold fish approach of Marinus – a man whose touchline routine appeared to be modelled on a game of musical statues. Let’s not go there again . We aren’t worldbeaters but at least it would be good to see Dean cares – something I have no doubt on. At least it would be good to see Dean get vaguely animated or just to follow up on his pre-match words.

Aston Villa aren’t going to be easy by any strength of the imagination. Specialists in the 1-1 draw (6-1 with 888sport, for the record), setting up as we did against Chelsea is a recipe for a 0-X scoreline. Reinstalling some width and remembering that the trick to scoring goals is to go forward then things could well be different – regardless of whether Scott Hogan is leading the line or trying on a West Ham shirt.

Chelsea is over. To coin that most awful of phrases, ‘We go again’. Let’s just hope it is in a different direction.

On Tuesday night, we find out.

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An early season trip to Villa Park saw another solid performance from the Bees

Nick Bruzon