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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.

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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.

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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

As transfer window starts to creak, will we be saying farewell?

30 Dec

Brentford host Norwich City on New Year’s Eve with supporters wondering if this could be our last chance of seeing Scott Hogan in a Brentford shirt. With the transfer window due to creak open on January 1st prior to the inevitable ‘slam’ shut (tm) at the end of the month, the free scoring front man is currently being linked with everybody from Newcastle United to West Ham. Even Aston Villa have been mentioned although anyone who had the misfortune to sit through the turgid encounter with Leeds United will realise it’s not so much a centre forward they need as a few crates of Red Bull. And that’s just for supporters. (please note : other energy drinks are available).

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Could these Championship rivals be the villains of the piece?

With fees as high as £15million being quoted, one really can’t see anybody blocking this move if that sort of money is genuinely on the table. Brentford have a new ground in the offing whilst have made no secret of the need to sell players over the last few seasons to ensure financial fair play criteria are met.

It is surely just a question of when rather than if? If the Christmas build up was all about the excitement of what we might receive, this next period is the opposite for supporters of a club like Brentford. The fear of who we could lose.

Like it or not, that’s the reality the club find themselves in. Being honest with ourselves, the play-offs look a leap too far at present. Much as I’m a footballing romantic and never say never, the simple fact is that we have too much quality ahead of us in the league table. Too much consistent quality.

Were Dean Smith’s team putting in the performances game after game then fair enough. But sadly, we aren’t. For every last twenty minutes against Birmingham or Cardiff is a performance like the respective first halves in those games. For every defeat of a Brighton(a) or Reading is a Barnsley or Fulham no-show.

The manager is still struggling to settle on his best team and formation. Substitutions seem haphazard whilst certain players are untouchable; others can’t get a look in. At times we look like world beaters. At others, a side lining up to let the opposition dominate.

You have to remember, also, that historically we’ve rarely (if ever) had things so good. After years of mediocrity results wise, we had that wonderful period under Uwe Rosler before Mark Warburton got us over the League One line. Since then, we’ve more than held our own in the Championship. The. Championship.

Whilst everybody wants wins and results , things need to be put a little bit into context. To see 10,000+ crowds week in, week out. To see Brentford on the cusp of a fourth season at a higher level after decade upon decade of League One or Two mediocrity. To have players that other teams are prepared to pay us millions upon millions of pounds for.

All of this is just a bit surreal. Even now. I’m still of the belief that we could, probably should, have gone up to the Premier League in 2014/15. But for village-gate who knows what might have been. Equally though, that’s behind us and the aforementioned context now needs to be the thing with which we view our longer term prospects.

But if we are unlikely to go up, this time, what about the other way? Allowing for the rose-tinted glasses of home support, going down would seem a tough act for any team in Brentford’s position. Even if we were to lose our principal goal threat.

Rotherham lost, again, last night whilst Wigan are doing their level best to join them on a trip back to League 1 ( sorry, who’s on fire did you say?). After that, QPR, Blackburn and Cardiff City are slugging it out for third spot. I’m still hoping Ian Holloway’s pre-season prediction of a West London relegation comes true. Moreso with the Bees due to host the hapless hoops towards the end of the campaign.

Other sides and other supporters have it no easier than us. I’d much rather be in our shoes than those of former Premier League champions Blackburn. For all that, at times, we’ve frustrated on the pitch in recent months, Brentford aren’t alone.

Just watching the fare on offer between Aston Villa and Leeds was a stark reminder that a gritty form of combative football followed by a final fifteen minutes of frenetic thrusting is not uncommon. And this was from two, so called, giants of the English game. Teams with genuine aspirations to return to a top flight they graced for so long. With aspirations to return to European competitions they’ve previously performed heroics in – something that looked a long way off on Thursday evening.

Should Scott Hogan leave us for Newcastle United, West Ham or other then I’ll be gutted. Likewise, if Alan Judge says farewell or Jota fails to return from Spain. Both are equally possible. But I’m also realistic about our position and how the club works. Given where we are this season then, for now, it seems a case of cashing in and holding station. A case of taking a tactical gamble whilst still picking up points and goals from other sources.

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Could scenes like this be a thing of the past?

I’ve seen some supporters say they’d give it up for the season if the aforementioned triumvirate leave in January. I don’t believe that for one second. I may be a numpty on the terrace. There may be twits on the sidelines or over enthusiastic keyboard warriors in a banana republic. That’s football and we all have opinions. However, the one thing we also all have in common is that we’ve supported this club for far, far too long. And it’s great.

We know we sell. We know we make things hard for ourselves. But we all know how much we love it supporting the Bees, no matter what fate throws at us.

Dean spoke about Norwich City yesterday, saying: “It is an important game for us because we want to exorcise the demons from the Carrow Road defeat

This much is true, but should Scott Hogan be sold then it could also see those of us who are a bit longer in the tooth needing to exorcise a more familiar demon. That of history. Dean Holdsworth, Gary Blissett, Nicky Forster, DJ Campbell and Andre Gray to name but a few.

Will it happen? Next month, we find out. Until then, here’s to stuffing the Canaries. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

A tale of two Steves as Dean stays in charge where it counts

13 Oct

With Brentford making final preparations for Saturday’s trip to Newcastle United, we can at least be safe in the knowledge that any chance of Dean Smith going to Aston Villa has now officially been snuffed out. On a day of managerial change, not only was Steve Bruce named in charge at Villa Park but Steve McClaren has, seemingly out of nowhere, been reinstalled at Derby County. The same Derby County team that we visit on Tuesday evening.

First up, Aston Villa. Despite the early talk about our own Dean Smith being linked with that one it was never anything more than a story. At least, based on outward appearances. Personally, and I said at the time, there didn’t seem any chance of this happening for multiple reasons and this has now proven to be the case.

It’s great news for Brentford and, one would hope, for Aston Villa. Some fans will be relieved they haven’t inherited the manager of a ‘pub side’. Others might have some concern about a man who was in charge of local rivals Birmingham City from 2001-07.

That latter point, aside from getting stick from the opposition fans when the two sides meet, would seem to be largely irrelevant though. As long as a team is doing well then it is an awful lot easier to look at the past through rose tinted glasses.

Then again, he walks into a hotbed of expectation.

Tim Sherwood was in charge of Aston Villa back in October 2015 (hmm, that went well). A year later they’ve been through Sherwood, Kevin MacDonald, Remi Garde, Eric Black and of course Roberto di Matteo. Twelve months on and Bruce now has what was previously described as less a hot seat and more an electric chair.

And, of course, there is the additional pressure of a hashtag. The club announced his arrival with use of this cringeworthy social media device (see also: #Jakejoins). At this rate, surely we’re only a short step away from a meme to announce a new signing?

Nobody knows how this will turn out. It’ll be fun finding out though.

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Steve joins at Villa; Dean stays with his pub side

But the really interesting news yesterday surrounded Derby County and Steve McClaren. Of course,  the one time umbrella wielding manager has been there before. He and Derby parted company in 2015 amidst much interest from a Newcastle United side he would eventually join (hmm, that went well) and hot off the back of that self-destruct as they threw away an almost nailed on place in the play-offs.

Brentford were just one of the beneficiaries as the Rams somehow lost 3-0, at home, to a very average Reading side who had literally nothing to play for. Indeed, our 2-0 win over them the weekend before had further knocked the stuffing out of the Royals in their final home game of that campaign. The Bees’ reward for that capitulation,  a two legged semi with Middlesbrough. Move along, nothing to see here.

But will it work again? McClaren’s time at Newcastle was an unmitigated disaster, I’m sorry to say. He has that emotional pressure of the way his England career panned out – a disaster on the pitch and widely ridiculed off it –  whilst he is as known for his infamous Dutch accent as his two stints in charge of Eredivise side Twente. That, a role he would also be obliged to resign from.

Frankly, he seems to have more lives than a cat yet still boards come back to him. I’m not sure what just what it is that he posesses but it’s going to be interesting finding out.

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Can Steve the cat stay out of the rain this time?

Both Bruce and McClaren will have expectation from their own fans aswell as heckling from the visiting supporters to deal with. In the case of Aston Villa, one can only assume this will be limited to a few games here and there – the Birmingham s and Wolves of this world. But for McClaren, with terrace wags knowing just how many roles (and play offs) his teams have eventually choked, he could be in for a rough ride should things not get off to anything but a flier.

Forget the weight of expectation, that umbrella is the real baggage he carries around with him. Here’s hoping it is still weighing him down when Brentford visit on Tuesday.

Before that, though, is the small matter of our visit to Newcastle on Saturday. The Bees will be there in huge numbers, with chief executive Mark Devlin giving local journalists a free story with his latest ’tweet’ on ticket sales. For a club our size, the travelling fans have always gone in impressive numbers and this is no different.Close to 3,000 for the long trek up to the North-East isn’t to be sniffed at.

Great work, one and all. Let’s hope the team, and Dean Smith – our head coach – do them justice on the pitch.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Wales and Aston Villa amongst those asking the questions. A week in football

10 Oct

Brentford striker Scott Hogan was named Championship player of the month whilst Norwich city boss Alex Neil scooped the managerial award. As the Bees prepare for the trip to Newcastle United it was another former Premier League side making the headlines. Aston Villa having sacked manager Roberto di Matteo after a handful of games were strongly linked with our own Dean Smith. But with World Cup qualifiers meaning there were no Championship games this weekend, it’s ‘as you were’ in the league table. Brentford can prepare for Saturday’s game in Newcastle knowing that victory will take us to within a point of the currently third placed Magpies.

That’s the latest Championship action, such as it was, in a nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

It would be wrong to start with anything but a final congratulations to Scott Hogan. His six goals in five games over September rightfully scooping him the player of the month award. Brentford Chief Executive Mark Devlin amongst those leading the praise.

If this was positive news another announcement, that of the televised Christmas fixtures, bought about a less than positive reaction. Here’s just one, of many, on a similar theme when it was announced that our game with Norwich City had been moved to a 5.30pm kick off on December 31st.

There was as much concern over our manager (sorry, head coach) as this fixture. With Aston Villa sacking their own incumbent, Dean Smith quickly moved to second favourite for this position. Despite sitting in Steve Bruce’s considerable shadow, there was a lot of worry at Griffin Park that our man could be approached. Brentford supporter Natalie Sawyer was amongst those voicing concern.

Concerns shared at Aston Villa, too. There, the same keyboard warrior who threatened to give up football earlier in the month if his beloved side failed to beat a pub team was back. Not only had he reneged on his promise but he still seemed angry.

Still, this was just the small fry compared to the Twitter spat that rapidly unfolded between Aston Villa and Virgin Rail. Whilst we’ve all see this (surely) in the cold light of day it looks even more ridiculous. As we’ve said many times before, unless you are Inverness Caledonian Thistle then football clubs really, really shouldn’t do Twitter sarcasm.

The ‘quiet coach’ . Presumably a euphemism for either the manager or a trophy room that hasn’t been opened since the last century (unless you count the Intertoto cup) .That final ‘comeback’ met with the expected criticism from all comers. However, the pick of the bunch were these two :

In terms of domestic games, the Checkatrade Trophy was back and provided more highlights. Or should that be lowlights ?

Ahh, West Ham. Despite no Premier League game for them this weekend ( a phrase they’ll be repeating most Saturdays in 2017) they still managed to make the headlines. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

But it was the International game where the real ‘action’ was. England emerged from the considerable shadow of Sam Allardyce to record a crushing 2-0 win at home over Malta.

They weren’t the only team making headlines for unexpected reasons. Wales continued to confound pundits following Euro 2016. not with their on pitch antics but with their prematch photos.

If anybody knows just what is gong on, then answers on a postcard please.

And finally, tweet of the week. Infact there are two. First up, who doesn’t love a bit of Accidental Partridge? That wonderful moment when ‘Idea for a show’ becomes reality. And Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp seems to have hit gold.

But in a week where Donald T Rump has made all sorts of nasty headlines in the U.S.A. for his obscene comments about women, Antiques Roadshow guru (seriously, follow his updates on a Sunday evening if you are partial to Fiona Bruce and her dusty collectibles) Jamie Lovell proved that, sometimes, we all just need to catch our breath.

Nick Bruzon