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Rovers use Bees for Turkey practice.

28 Nov

Oh well. In the end it makes no material difference beyond putting our push for a play-off spot back by a game. Brentford lost by the odd goal in one at Blackburn Rovers last night but, with other results largely going our way, The Bees are still in eighth place. Primary amongst them was West Bromwich Albion retaking top spot from Leeds United after their own home win against Bristol City. Whilst it would have been nice if some form of resistance had been offered to Nottingham Forest at Loftus Road, who doesn’t love seeing the not so ‘super-hoops’ on the wrong end of a 0-4 trashing? Ultimately, we are three points off top six with a visit from relegation threatened Luton Town to come on Saturday.

First things first, well played Blackburn Rovers. Their first half domination was rewarded with an early goal for Bradley Dack and from that point on it was a game of catch up. We couldn’t. You can understand the home fans’ appreciation of the finish. If Jota had performed miracles at Ewood Park a few season back, this one was much akin to that incredible effort. Playing out from the back, Rovers used Brentford as some sort of makeshift turkey. Putting in the practice ahead of December 25th as they carved us apart with all the finesse of a Masterchef contestant (Professionals rather than Celebrities). It was a break that must have had Thomas Frank tearing at his luxuriant hair, with pass and move being rewarded by Dack’s run into the box. 1-0. 11 minutes gone. Game over.

There was only one team in it over the first half and, sadly, it wasn’t The Bees. Given our lack of penetration and languid start, it could have been worse. At least there was promise on the bench with Josh Dasilva and Bryan Mbeumo having been dropped in place of Norgaard and Jan Zamburek respectively . The former a decision that could have gone either way – three into two of Norgaard, Jensen and Dasilva simply won’t go. The full debut of Zamburek somewhat of a surprise but, to be fair, one that has  been coming and is more than deserved based on performances off the bench so far. Moreso with that third game in eight days, the crucial visit of Luton Town, at the weekend. 

Both Mbeumo and Dasilva made it on to the pitch in the second period, a clear attempt to add impetus to a team that looked transformed following the half time talking to. Benrahma hit the woodwork early on with a magnificently struck free kick from the heart of Saunders’ territory. Pontus Jansson then saw a header cleared off the line. Surely the goal would come? Surely? Alas not. With Norgaard also coming close-ish, it was as far as Brentford got. Blackburn able to hang on to a 1-0 win that sees them climb further up the Championship table . Their 13th place a position aided by virtue of having less bad goal difference (-2) than the likes of Birmingham City, QPR and Derby County who all sit below them on the same 24 points. For Brentford, we remain on 27 but so tight is the table that the gap from QPR in 16th to Swansea in the play-offs is just 6 points. Talk about every point counting. Of taking every game as it comes. With so many teams so close, something has to give somewhere. The weekend fixtures are as intriguing as the midweek run we’ve just ‘enjoyed’.

There’s not really much more to say about this one. We’ve all seen it, somehow. Even the highlights are up now. Such as they are. We all know the stats and we can all read the table . Perhaps this is a game that will simply serve to be looked back on when we tell the story of how Brentford fared in our final season at Griffin Park.

Whether that story is one with a happy ending remains to be seen, of course. There’s nothing we can do to change yesterday’s result. Blackburn deserve the win by virtue of scoring the goal. For Brentford, its onwards and upwards. Next stop, Griffin Park. Next opponents, Luton Town.

See you there.    

Nick Bruzon

(below – the crucial moment)

 

The huge prize awaiting if……

27 Nov

Oh my. What an incentive going in to this evening’s game at Blackburn Rovers. If Brentford win and West Bromwich Albion avoid defeat at home to Bristol City, The Bees will end the night in the play-off places. The maths are that simple even if the application of these facts may not be. Football has a funny habit of kicking you in the nuts when you least expect it. When your hope is highest. Yet, at the same time, it would be churlish to ignore the position we now find ourselves in after Swansea City were held at Huddersfield last night.

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The top of the table via the BBC – basic maths.

For Thomas Frank, naming the team would seem an easy decision. Ethan Pinnock more than impressed against Reading on Saturday and so, with Julian Jeanvier still suspended, his retaining his place is an absolute no-brainer. Thankfully, a decision that can be justified on merit rather than card induced necessity. In the midfield, Christian Nørgaard is available once more and could be in with more of a chance at getting his place back. However, Mathias Jensen won’t give up his place without a fight and the cross he supplied to set up Ollie Watkins’ winner last time out was sublime. Inch perfect delivery that was begging to be put away. Watkins duly obliged.

Could Josh Dasilva be moved to accommodate Nørgaard or is, as is more likely, it simply a case of having to bide his time on the bench with Thomas selecting an unchanged starting XI? I can’t see beyond the same team as started against Reading beginning this one tonight. Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and would have more chance of calling the lottery numbers than getting something as vital as a team selection correct.

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Jensen supplied a delicious cross for the goal on Saturday.

Blackburn Rovers are no pushover, that’s for sure. A Bradley Dack brace and a shot from Stewart Downing earned them all the points in a 3-2 fight back against basement boys Barnsley on Saturday. No doubt they will be looking to build on this and climb further up the table from their current 17th. But Brentford are going to be confident. We have every right to be so, too. The last three away games have seen us pick up 9 points and scoring 3 goals each time out with fine wins at Loftus Road, Swansea and then Wigan. We haven’t won four successive games on the road since back in 2011 and so there is yet another incentive to really go for it tonight. That is, if getting Ollie Watkins to the the top of the Championship goal scorer charts or ourselves into the top six wasn’t enough already.

This one is going to be tough. Win, lose or draw it makes no real difference in the long term. At least, at this juncture. It would be quite magnificent to get the points and hope West Bromwich Albion can do us the proverbial favour. With Leeds United grabbing a late winner at Reading last night, the Baggies currently find themselves in second place. One place off the top of the table. If The Bees have the motivation to go for it then surely Slavan Bilic’s team have just as much themselves? The battle of Romaine Sawyers v Daniel Bentley could be a fascinating one although, for obvious reasons, not one I’ll be following.

Instead, it’ll be the red-button and Sky Sports smudge vision in our house. A mid-week trip to Lancashire is one that is diametrically opposed to the budget, holiday allocation at work and domestic green cards. The efforts and ability of our travelling fans to get to games like this one never ceases to amaze me. Would that being there was an option. Tonight will be very much a case of mind over body and true faith in our boys.

Brentford have been superb in the last two months. The victory over Reading very much a case of grinding one out against stubborn opposition who had set out to strangle us. Something we have often struggled with yet this time around kept going for the entire 90 minutes. However we play and whatever Blackburn do, the opportunity and ability are there. 

I can’t wait for this one. Enioy.

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We’ve had some fine away performances this season.

Nick Bruzon  

Magnificent Brentford obliterate Blackburn. What an afternoon at Griffin Park.

2 Feb

My word. That was incredible. What an afternoon. What a game. What a result. Brentford swept aside Blackburn Rovers in a phenomenal display that saw a 0-2 deficit with just 7(seven) on the clock turned into an eventual 5-2 thrashing. We’ve handed out some football lessons over the last few seasons – the likes of Leeds United, Birmingham City and Aston Villa amongst those to feel the pain of a full force red machine – but this was something else. Moreso given the quite horrific start to proceedings.

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Brentford were head and shoulders above Blackburn at Griffin Park

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages and now isn’t the time to change that record. If you were lucky enough to be there you’ll know how scintillating Brentford were. How irrepressible Said Benrahma was. How desperate were an opening eight minutes that saw Bradley Dack and Danny Graham hand in-form Blackburn an early lead with Daniel Bentley beaten twice. And then the Bees woke up.

Benrahma got our first after a wonderful exchange of passes. The Rovers defence sliced open with all the precision of a surgeon. The execution, clinical. That the goal came so soon after having shipped our second almost nullified the effect of going down so early. The crowd shifted from moan to buzz to noise.

The Bees kicked on. Harrison Reed in the Rovers midfield kicked off. It was symptomatic of his afternoon, tumbling under the most innocuous of challenges and doing his level best to wind up the Brentford players. But they, and the ref, were having none of it. Instead, all he got was a chorus of boos for his trouble. 

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Cheer up cheater Reed. Captain Romaine makes his point.

With Benrahma also finding the crossbar from out wide, Brentford went in 2-1 down at half time but very much in the ascendency. And when they came out for the second period, things escalated to the realms of fantasy football. Ollie Watkins levelled up from distance (something which seems to be very much his thing at present) as the Bees continued to turn the screw. 

Attacking with confidence, flair and swagger there was only one team in it. With Blackburn forced to withdraw both their goalscorers they could do nothing but try to soak up the relentless pressure. A kitchen sponge would have done a better job. 

Ollie Watkins got his second and our third on 73, heading home after David Raya made a mess of a high ball in the box. Five minutes later Neal Maupay doubled the lead after another slick passage of play from Thomas Frank’s free-flowing Bees. And with Brentford refusing to slow it down, birthday boy Sergi Canos completed the rout in the final few minutes.

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Size doesn’t matter – the Bees kept pushing up until the end.

One can’t underrate the beauty of our play or the tremendous character shown by the team. To go two down so quickly against a Blackburn side coming into the game on such a great run of form could have been the catalyst for disaster. Instead, it was a metaphorical boot up the backside that resulted in us being privileged enough to witness one of THE Brentford performances. 

The goals are up on Sky already – they’re every one of them worth a watch. Ollie Watkins ended this one being nominated for Sky Sports ‘goal of the day’. Frankly, it could have been any of the five. Trying to pick a Man-of-the-match from that one is a task akin to the judgement of Solomon. Ollie? Said? Kamo? Romaine? Yoann? Any of them.

Neal was as formidable and ballsy as ever. He must be nightmare to play against. Talking to one Braemar Road observer in the second half, he commented that we probably haven’t had such a tenacious (that’s the polite version) player since the likes of Terry Hurlock. There is no quarter given. Whether in the challenge, the build up or the finish. 

Honestly, I can’t was lyrical enough about this one. It was a finish and performance that put me in mind of Birmingham City last season. The 5-0 rout. Fans lined the pitch at full time as the players walked off to a heroes’ serenade. Thomas Frank, his arm around Neal Maupay, amongst the last to exit this arena of joy. How wonderful for him to see his own plans coming together after that horrific run of form that coincided with his own step up into the head coach role. Yet he has stuck to his principals, taken a horrific amount of flak on the chin but won those dissenting voices around. That’s now 9 games unbeaten and the goals flying in for fun. These 5 came after the 3 against Barnet, the 4 at Rotherham United and another 3 at home to Stoke City. 15 in four games – that’s just ridiculous.

The only question now being how Tuesday night can follow this? A visit from Barnet in an FA Cup replay, our lesson learned, could turn into a massacre IF Brentford continue with the same flair and attacking intent. It’s no gimme of course but I can’t wait to see if we can pick up then where we left off tonight.

What a performance.

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The smile says it all as Brentford go 4-2 up

Nick Bruzon

BBC Wales stick two fingers up to The Bees ahead of Blackburn visit

2 Feb

Brentford host Blackburn Rovers this afternoon, looking to make it 9 games unbeaten and continue the climb up the table that Thomas Frank’s rejigged team have been enjoying since just before Christmas. It is a game that will see him looking to kick on from the disappointment of being held at Barnet in the FA Cup on Tuesday night. That in itself, a game which now presents a further headache beyond the forthcoming replay. Namely, BBC Wales selecting the fifth round tie at Swansea City for a Sunday afternoon, 4pm TV fixture. The reaction to that news one of universal frustration as a day of motorways or train disruption awaits anyone looking to make that trip.

First up, Blackburn. I have to be honest that their position in the table had escaped me. Instead thoughts of Rovers normally turn to Gary Blissett in the FA Cup, ‘Birdy’s date’ (THE single best kit launch video ever – Kitman Bob, if you are reading I remain available) and Jota causing Mark Burridge to explode in the commentary box. Yet a quick glance at the Championship standings shows them just four points behind Frank Lampard’s Derby County (TM) in the hunt for a play-off place. They’ve won four on the spin, conceding just a solitary goal whilst the BBC match preview tells us that they are the kings of the second half goal. Brentford, beware.

Come on Bob. I’m game if you are

Yet The Bees are no slouches either. With goals being scored for fun and Neal Maupay exhuding all the confidence and prowess of a Grand National winner, we’re a force to be reckoned with ourselves. The squad is now confirmed after what was, thankfully, one of the dullest deadline days in history. There was none of the alleged interest from Dean Smith up at Villa Park and so Thomas can be confident he has his boys until the rest of the campaign. Unless, of course, any of them fancy joining Nico Yennaris in China. That being the news that was confirmed on official yesterday but which even Matthew Benham had been tweeting about the day before.

The goals against Barnet were all great. Ollie’s strike from distance, Neal slotting home another ice cool penalty and then Sergi maintaining his composure after a quite delightful ball to feet from Henrik Dalsgaard. Then there were the three efforts against the post. Had Moses Odubajo found himself an inch or two luckier I think we may have had another ‘Jota moment’ in the commentary box. #burridgegasm. Instead, we’ve been left with a tricky replay and the image of John Motson talking tactics under the shadow of Ian Moose stuffing his face. For crying out loud man, at least chew.

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Motty and Chris do their thing as Ian Moose does his

The goals against, and the midfield, were very much a case of ‘move along, nothing to see here’. I guess in part this was down to the slight squad rotation in a game played out against the backdrop of a passionate full house. One thing’s for sure, you can see the incredible difference Kamo makes to the squad. We’re a different team when he starts and one has to hope he’ll be back in the Brentford line up today.

I can’t even come close to calling this one. It promises to be a fascinating match up and I’m intrigued as to how hard we react after Tuesday night. The only thing you can be sure of is that’s going to be bitterly cold out there. Whatever you do, please take care and wrap up warm. The slush may have been cleared but I almost lost a few toes to frostbite on the school run past Griffin Park yesterday.

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A carpet of slush is clear from Griffin Park, Friday

From the league to the cup, next. “An away game at Championship rivals Swansea City has about as much romance, of the cup or otherwise, as a Valentines card and bunch of flowers from petrol station forecourt. I’ve no doubt they are thinking the same…… As I can’t imagine it’ll be one that is selected for TV, if we actually win the replay, at least it should be a traditional 3pm kick off“. 

My words, written on Wednesday morning. Well that’s just another example, if one were needed, of why yours truly is the numpty on the terrace rather than any sort of informed source. As was revealed yesterday, whomever wins the replay on Tuesday night has now seen the match at Swansea City moved to 4pm on a Sunday afternoon.

Well thanks a bunch, BBC Wales. Talk about sticking two fingers up to the fans who now face the prospect of the three scariest words in the English language – ‘Rail replacement bus’- which we’re all thrilled to hear is operating between between Bristol and Cardiff on the Sunday. Expect a return home of about midnight if you chose to take the most godforsaken mode of transport since records began.

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Bad news for The Bees

The reaction has been almost universal. It all seems so pointless. A game that’s not even likely to sell out being picked for a regional arm of the BBC – albeit one available outside of Wales via the medium of Virgin and Sky. Yet we all know that watching it on the armchair is nothing like being there. And why do it at such a ridiculously inconvenient time, given the travel hell that is sure to unfold (see also: moving the cup final to an evening kick off). 

I’ve no doubt the club will point out that we are beholden to the rules of the competition and the whims of broadcasters. Broadcasters who clearly don’t give a monkey about the people that actually make the competition what it is – the fans. Let’s wait to see if BIAS swing into action. This would be the perfect forum for them to say their piece or, better still, our fans’ group get involved. Seriously Adam, if you are reading then you’ve got a quite wonderful opportunity to do something for the supporters. No matter that we already know it is a decision which won’t be over turned.

And yes, I realise that we have to get past Barnet first. They’re in exactly the same boat as us but there’s nothing to stop our clubs, and fan groups, presenting a united front on this one. At least until 7.45pm on Tuesday night.

Still, that’s for then. For now, we’ve got a visit form Blackburn Rovers to look forward to and I can’t wait. See you there.

Now, how about one more look at Jota…..

 

Nick Bruzon   

Will Stoke get Woods? Does it have a beach? Can Bees push on at Blackburn?

25 Aug

Strap yourselves in folks, this could be some day. Brentford travel to Blackburn Rovers looking to continue that unbeaten run of early season form which currently sees us sitting fourth in the pack of twenty-four teams. Yet the big question is whether Ryan Woods will be travelling with The Bees as news of the rumoured interest from Stoke City cranked up a few notches yesterday when the Potters as good as let the cat out of the bag. If you believe them. Yet if this comes to pass, it will end one of the most protracted moves of the summer following the initial stories and bid from Swansea City. At the same time making somewhat of a mockery of a transfer window which contains the biggest hole this side of the QPR defence (nil points. P4 L4).

The trip to Blackburn represents the mid-point of an intense two-week period that has already seen us beat Wednesday on Sunday and then have victory at Aston Villa cruelly slip from our grasp deep into the 95thminute out of 95 on, erm, Wednesday. That was a game which will as much as anything else be remembered for the goals from Neal Maupay which took him to the top of the Championship scoring table. Likewise, his retrospective red card which means he is missing from today’s game aswell as the League Cup on Tuesday and then the visit from Nottingham Forest next weekend.

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The Villa game ended 2-2 (and with a retrospective ban for Neal)

So what does Dean do to compensate? Personally, I think he’ll push Ollie up top and mix the wingers up. Said Benrahma and Sergi Canos have been doing quite magnificent battle over that right hand berth but can they be accommodated at the same time? Will Alan Judge make a start (although hopefully not as a false 9 – see yesterday) ? Does Marcus Forss then come off the bench and Ollie go back to our traditional shape if we need to change things up? Or, indeed, might Dean start like that anyway?

Who knows? I’m just the numpty on the terrace rather than anybody with any real knowledge – whether behind the scenes or just of football in general. Whilst on the one hand it may expose our lack of an alternative out and out second striker, based on what we’ve seen to date, the one thing Brentford have always done is play as a team. Score (and show) goals from every angle. From every positon bar goalkeeper. And with the length he gets these days, one wouldn’t be totally surprised if Daniel Bentley was to find the back of the net.

The other change I would think may also come is in central midfield. Both Nico Yennaris and Kamo have been superb when they have come off the bench for Lewis and Josh. The step up in play at both Stoke and Aston Villa was demonstrable by their entrance to the field of play. Dean has a wonderful bench available and is yet to change his starting XI in four league games. Yet with the matches coming thick and fast, and one enforced move in Maupay already thrust upon him, don’t be surprised if Dean twists further when the teams are announced at around 2pm.

One player that even I’m not so naïve as to think will be starting is Ryan Woods. Sadly. As noted in the introduction, Stoke City seems to be edging ever closer to getting their man. BBC Radio Stoke were bigging it up on Wednesday evening (be glad you can’t get it down here, given the Bees observer they had to drag in to opine on that one) and then yesterday it was the turn of current Stoke manager Gary Rowett. He announced that Woodsy, who was of course an unused substitute for that Aston Villa game, has already had a medical. He went on to claim that, “We are quite close to concluding a deal but we are not there just yet.

Brentford official are, of course, saying nothing. The club never comment on rumours and whilst history teaches us that you’ll never learn anything from fanzines, this all has a somewhat familiar ring to it. I think back to July 2013 when Simon Moore was being linked with Cardiff City, Back then their manager Malky Mackay (who, for the record, is currently the performance director of the Scottish Football Association – good luck with that one) told the media two days prior to signing the player that, “It’ll be paperwork first thing Monday morning, that’s the only thing holding that one up.”

An odd statement to make when infact we all knew Simon was simply on holiday. At the beach. In Cardiff.

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Cardiff beach. Simon Moore once holidayed there. According to Uwe.

Unless Stoke does have a beach then it kind of suggests this one is all but nailed on. The fee reckoned to be £6.5-£7(seven) million depending on which which source you read. Presumably with the usual clauses that Brentford have the shrewdness to insert. Who’d have thought we’d get money from Alfie Mawson’s sale to Fulham after all this time?  

Do I want him to go? No. In a word. That’s me being an emotional, selfish fan. Will we miss Ryan? Absolutely. The tussle that has gone on for his services (and those of us looking in only know of Swansea and Stoke’s interest to date) show the regard with which he is held in this division. Would we cope? Well, here’s the thing. I don’t want to tempt fate overly but look at what we’ve already done this season and Woodsy hasn’t got close to the pitch. The first XI and oncoming substitutes have performed quite wonderfully. It has been our best start to a campaign since 2013/14 and we we ended that one with promotion to the Championship. The squad would be stronger with him, no question, but it has still had a stunning start without.

This club has made no secret of transfer strategy. That we won’t stand in the way of players who want to leave if the price is on our terms. That we have got the player replacement technique pretty much nailed on now. Don’t get me wrong, I want him to stay. But I also trust what we’ve seen before. Adam Forshaw, Simon Moore, Moses (welcome back), number 26, Andre Gray. The Birmingham three – Jota, Maxime and Harlee. Aww, I do miss those defensive wobbles. They’ve all gone. We’ve survived. If Ryan decides his time has come then good luck to him. And huge thanks. He’s a hero and an inspiration at Griffin Park.

Yet now it seems that chapter is coming to a close, should the announcement indeed be confirmed today. Stoke City need a player of his ability, that’s for sure. Despite the wealth of talent they already seem to have their midfield was conspicuous by its absence when we traveled up there the other week. Supporters disappointment at ‘only’ getting a draw, further exacerbated by then seeing Wigan hump them 3-0. Even Will Grigg scored a penalty. The reward for that a (surely temporary) place in the relegation zone.

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Stoke have bite. But not much more…at present

The one other thing this has exposed is just the vagary of a transfer window that shut weeks ago yet still sees players able to move between Championship clubs on loan or, as would seem to be happening here, ‘loan with a permanent contract in January’ deals. It does seem to defeat the purpose somewhat and one can only feel for managers trying to put their squads together when they now have not one but effectively two windows to cope with.

QPR themselves have signed strikers Tomer Hemed from Brighton and Burnley’s £5m man Nahki Wells on loan for the duration of this campaign. Not quite sure how that all works but it seems to be legal – an unusual strategy for them given the £42m fine and transfer ban they finally agreed to in July following the breach of FFP rules.

Still, that’s their issue. I’m focussed on Blackburn and Brentford. Regardless of whether Ryan Woods is in the squad or sitting in the bottom three with Stoke. That a position I can’t imagine that they’ll occupy for very long should the move go through.

As for us, I’m calling this one as an away win. Complete confidence for the boys in brown and orange. Maupay may be missing but this squad is just too good at present. Enjoy the game!

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The current table. Come on Ryan. If you go, at least leap frog 20th….

Nick Bruzon

What a night. Harlee and Jota go head to head at Player of the Year awards.

8 May

What a night. With the dust not even settling on Sunday afternoon’s defeat by Blackburn Rovers at Griffin Park, the Brentford family reconvened for the season end Player of the Year awards.

With Natalie Sawyer hosting the ceremony , ably abetted by Peter Gilham, the night marked a wonderful end to a third successive season in the Championship. And a third successive top ten finish. It was something noted by Chairman Cliff Crown who, as with those who would follow him to the microphone, was quick to note not just the great job done by all at Brentford this season but, as importantly, the optimism with which we can view the forthcoming season.

No more so was this demonstrated than with the ‘breaking news’ (and there was even a graphic for this) that Jota’s contract extension had been triggered. He’s with us for 2017/18 ! He’s staying with us. This is just stunning news and received one of the biggest cheers of the night. As one would expect.

In terms of the awards, Harlee Dean scooped a brace including the big one – supporters’ player of the year. He gave an interesting pair of speeches, highlighting where he has come from over the last few years, despite the various levels of trust shown in him by Dean Smith’s respective predecesors. On the sending off against Blackburn his own admission was that he just wasn’t going to let them score, even though it wouldn’t have made a difference to us. If anything told you what you needed to know about his fighting spirit then here it was.

All being well the club will publish the video highlights of these over the next day or so. The positivity and goodwill emanating from not just Harlee and Cliff but also the likes of Dean Smith, Mark Devlin and a departing Alan McCormack in their speeches was almost tangible.

Ryan Woods was named player’s player of the year. Perhaps one of our unsung heroes, he’s somebody we almost take for granted. Obviously he’s good, very good. Yet it is only in his absence that we truly see how much he does, what value he is to this side and how conspicuous the gap created by his absence is.

There were touching stories from Yoann Barbet and Lasse Vibe in picking up their Community awards whilst Zain Westbrooke picked up the first honour of the night in being named B-team player of the year. But it was that man Jota who really took the limelight.

Firstly with his goal of the season award. That wondrous, wondrous moment against QPR at Griffin Park which Jake Bidwell, and the rest of their defence, are probably still having nightmares about. Well played Nico Yennaris and Josh Clarke in not making it a Jota 1-2 in this category as the one against Derby County failed to make the top 3. What a mark of the quality we have !

But secondly, and with due respect to Captain Harlee, perhaps the REAL big one of the night was a return for Hottie of the Year. Joining a list of previous winners including Andre Gray, Jonathan Douglas and Sam Saunders, the latest name to be added to that list is now Jota.

Let’s be honest, even for us married men that one was never in doubt. His hair, something most of us aspire to as much as his footballing ability, could have won that prize on its own. Here’s to seeing if he can scoop it in 2019/20.

What a season it has been. There’ll be more to come over the week. Until then, it simply remains to say a HUGE thank you to all involved in last night’s event. It really was enormous fun, the players were magnificent and it showed yet again (as if any reminder were needed) what a wonderful club we have.

THANK YOU Brentford FC.

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Jota – the hair.

Nick Bruzon

Top ten Bees and win for Forest doom Blackburn.

7 May

A third season in the Championship. A third top ten finish for Brentford. Despite a 3-1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers, the ubiquitous ‘other results’ conspired to send the visitors down to League One and ensure the Bees continued their proud ascendency. Whilst  Birmingham City boss Harry Redknapp suffered a very squeaky bum and Mark Warburton at Nottingham Forest endured a short term scare, both managers recording wins meant that the three points and two goal victory margin were ultimately insufficient for Blackburn.

We’ll keep this brief, for now. Besides, what else can you say? Not much. It seems trite to revel in another team’s moment of misery. Rovers fully deserved their win and came so, so close to securing Championship survival. Brentford were very much observers in a first half that saw an early two goal lead given away and an improbable tale of survival almost unfold at Griffin Park.

Alas, it was not to be. As Nottingham Forest started to find the net in their own fixture up at the City Ground, so did Brentford. Lasse Vibe all but scuppering Blackburn’s slender survival hopes when he got on the end of a low cross from Harlee Dean, of all people. The captain finding himself in uncharacteristic territory out on the right but still able to deliver a killer ball into the box.

That was as good as it got. Rather than press home the psychological advantage, Brentford were unable to penetrate. Indeed, Harlee was the man still involved in the action, although not for any reasons he’ll care to remember.

I’m sure by now we’ve all seen the picture of him and Craig Conway engaged in what official would describe with the somewhat diplomatic phrase: ‘ the two debated the decision at close proximity’.

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Tom Moore shared ‘the’ moment on Twitter

This was sufficient to earn a yellow card and was followed up shortly afterwards with a second for a foul in the box. Red card and penalty were the obligatory next steps. 3-1 and effectively game over. Indeed, that’s where the scoring stopped and the game ended as Blackburn then had to endure ‘trial by TV’, waiting to see if Bristol City could equalise against Birmingham at the death. They couldn’t.

What else can we take from today? Well, it was a fond farewell for Alan McCormack whose decision to move on at the end of the season is one which has been made very public these last few weeks. The programme contained fitting tribute whilst the player himself made a gladiatorial entry to this footballing arena. His name ringing around three sides of a packed Griffin Park.

Sam Saunders was inducted into the Brentford Hall of Fame at half-time whilst even ex-Bee Sam Wood was in attendance. He, along with Maxime Colin, amongst those enjoying the sunshine on the forecourt at half time.

We’ll round up the season properly over the next few days. For now, there’s the Player of the year evening to prepare for and a few more celebrations so we’ll cut this one dead here.

Although, in true Columbo style, there is just one more thing.

Seeing Harlee’s flesh pressed up so close to another player did make me recall that this isn’t the first time we’ve been here. Whilst perhaps not in such close proximity, who could forget that cheeky gatecrashing of Chris Wickham’s interview with then captain Kevin O’Connor ?

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Back in the day….

Nick Bruzon

Brentford, Blackburn or Nottingham Forest? Who will win (or lose by less)?

6 May

This is it. The last weekend of the season with so much excitement still to come. And that’s just off pitch where the club have asked fans to dig out their retro shirts to mark the occasion of our current crest (badge) making one final appearance before being retired. Then there’s the small matter of Mark Warburton and Nottingham Forest hoping Brentford can do them a favour when Blackburn Rovers are the visitors to Griffin Park. With Birmingham City still not safe either, live on TV we’ve Sunday’s relegation shootout.

So what will happen? Will Brentford take the foot off the gas and Blackburn survive? Can Forest get the home win they need and hope their goals are sufficient? Both they and Rovers are locked on the same points and so if they match each others results, it comes down to goal difference. Which is currently -13 Forest and -14 Rovers. It could even turn into a case of whoever loses less heavily stays up.

And I have to say that because I fully expect Brentford to win. We’ve a chance to get up to 8th place, which would be one better than last season. Then again, for that to happen it means we need  to rely on victories for both Rotherham United and QPR. We’ve got to be realistic here.

But a win for the Bees, something that is in our hands, will see us surpass last season points total by two. That alone will be incentive for Dean Smith and a team that I fully expect to be focussed on going out in style.

I feel for the Nottingham Forest and Blackburn supporters in their having to rely on another result. Moreso, from teams who they may think are already on the beach or, in our case, at the Player of the Year awards that are taking place later on Sunday night. However, I refer you back to season 2014/15.

This was Brentford’s first in the Championship and Mark Warburton was looking to go out in style. Despite a little wobble towards the end, the Bees went into that final weekend needing to beat Wigan Athletic then rely on a slip up from Derby County or Ipswich Town in order to make the play offs. The Rams were home to hapless Reading and needed just a point to secure their own spot. We’d beaten the Royals a week earlier and they looked awful. Ipswich were on fire though and, likewise, avoiding defeat was all they needed.

On an incredible afternoon, BOTH results went our way. Despite taking an early lead at Ewood, the Tractor Boys were eventually reigned in and went down 3-2. As for Derby, they missed an early penalty and hit the self-destruct from that point. A 0-3 home loss to a bang average team with nothing, absolutely nothing, to play for was as unexpected as it was hilarious.

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Post Wigan: Err. You know that holiday? Well, Derby and Ipswich have both lost.

The point being that strange results can happen. That the team who appear to have nothing to play for on paper won’t just switch off. We’ve definitely been the beneficiaries of this fact in the past.

However on Sunday, and I take no pleasure from this prediction, my gut feeling is that Brentford are going to be the executioners. We’ve more than just pride to play for. For Blackburn Rovers to stay up, it’s going to have to rely on Nottingham Forest losing by more than they do.

Then again, as has been said many times, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. Take results based advice from these pages with a huge dollop of caution. Indeed, given the aforementioned favour they did us, there’s a big part of me that hopes Blackburn losing by less than Forest is the way this one plays out. Everybody in TW8 can go home smiling. Especially if Rotherham and (something I can’t believe we need or want to happen) QPR also win.

Then again, there’s the Mark Warburton factor. A hero to many at Griffin Park, could we take any pleasure from putting a nail in his Championship coffin? Perhaps it’s not one to overthink. Let’s just go out and let the football do the talking – whatever will be will be.

Besides, there’s more to think about off field. I make no secret of being a kit nerd and the club putting out this challenge to supporters has got me intrigued.

Just what could we see? What will the fans’  ‘favourite’ be? Does anybody even own that wonderful Hummel-lite version from 94-95; our first to feature the current crest (badge)? Is there a Samvo shirt out there that still has the sponsor intact rather than having disintegrated the first time it went through the washing machine?

On a personal note, I’ve whittled it down to a choice of three. Or four. But there are more than a few stunners to pick from.

Being fortunate enough to take part in filming an episode of Britain’s top rated day time TV show Bargain Hunt yesterday, both the Bees and the kit obsession made it into that really awkward chat bit at the start.

And that bit, when the show goes out, is quite likely to be the highlight. Let’s just say it’s a lot harder than it looks ‘playing’ live rather than when you watch from home.

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Just some of the shirt choices – although current crest (badge) only

Likewise, subject to any last minute editorial decisions then I gather the match day programme will feature a very special top ten.  Although after last weekend’s Brian Guest affair at Fulham, which the club knew nothing about in advance, we probably shouldn’t take anything on that front for granted.

So if you haven’t done it yet, why not have a root through the back of the wardrobe and see what you can pull out? Whatever your thoughts on the current crest (badge) why not help see it off in style?

The next time we all get together, there’ll be a new design in place….

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Coming soon. To a shirt near you….

Nick Bruzon 

 

A goal, a goal is all we need…

23 Nov

It’s only Wednesday. The interminable wait until Brentford host Birmingham City on Saturday continues. If anything, it is a wait made all the more painful by our previous outings – the lacklustre defeat to Fulham followed up by Brentford going down by the odd goal in 5 at Blackburn.

In the understatement of the decade, Dean was quoted after that one as saying that he didn’t expect us to concede the goals we did. “I felt this was a place that we could come and score goals. Unfortunately, I didn’t expect us to concede the goals we did”, said Dean etc etc.

Just for good measure, we got a graphic of this one too.

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Whilst it seems obvious, and the gut reaction was one of contemplating whether this was even an act of parody, thinking about it more I think I get what he is trying to say. The goals were all sloppy, all unexpected and all out of character (other cliches are available). Indeed, of our 17 Championship games so far, 6 have seen us keeping clean sheets whilst it would be fair to say that Daniel Bentley hit the ground running between the sticks.

Further, only 7(seven) Championship teams have conceded less than our 19 goals over that period. That said, the left back situation is one I’d like to see cleared up sooner than lately. Nobody can doubt the international class and calibre of Andreas Bjelland but he is still a man pressed into an unfamiliar role. Roll on the return of Rico Henry and then the hope he lives up to all his plaudits . No pressure there.

It is up front where perhaps the situation is more interesting and different to any of our previous seasons playing at this level. In our first Championship campaign, Andre Gray was our top scorer in the league (16) but was ably supported by Alex Pritchard, Jota and even Jonathan Douglas who all weighed in with 13, 10 and 8 goals respectively . Last time out, it was another shared load. But for injury, who knows where Alan Judge would have stopped – he’d got 14 league goals up until that horrific broken leg. Lasse Vibe ended on the same figure whilst Scott Hogan, Sergi Canos and John Swift all managed 7 (seven)

Granted, we’re only just over a third of the way through the campaign but it doesn’t seem to me as though the same pattern is being repeated this time around. Rather than the shared workload, we are reliant on one man. And what a man !

Goal machine Scott Hogan is miles out in front with 10 league goals already. He’s picked up the baton from where he left off last season and is currently just a few behind Newcastle United’s Dwight Gayle in the race for leading Championship scorer. But after that it is a  case of slim pickings in the league. Centre back John Egan is next with 3, Josh Clarke and Lasse Vibe 2 before a handful of players have one apiece.

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Can one man do it all on his own?

It’s great that we have a free scoring centre forward. His timing and technique are clear for all to see. The question now is whether he gets the support that has been so much a part of our game over the last few campaigns ? Whilst, generally, we’re keeping it tight at the back up front we’ve drawn a blank 4 times out of the last 7 (etc) games . Is this a blip? Are teams getting wise to us? Does Dean have a plan B for getting the goals? Does he even need one?

At the end of the day, Clive, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. I’ve no sort of tactical insight and what I know about running a football team you could write on the back of a matchbox. But for a club who, whether rightly or wrongly are held up as one for whom statistical analysis is a a key part of our make up, those are a few for thought.

I’m genuinely not sure which way will it go against promotion chasing Birmingham City. Will the goal machine keep on firing? Could somebody else get their name on the scoresheet? Will it be another blank for the Bees? The permutations in my head keep veering wildly between the three and I can’t call it at this juncture.

However, with our record against the Blues a less than favourable one in recent seasons W0 D1 L3), not to mention a fair amount of historic rivalry, I’d be well happy with a gritty 1-0. Hogan.

We can worry about the bigger picture after that.

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees miss out, fans rally round Manchester United man and birthday wishes. A week in football

20 Nov

Brentford went down 3-2 at Blackburn despite Scott Hogan grabbing the first of his brace quicker than most people can spell antidisestablishmentarianism. Newcastle United are now 9 points clear of third place whilst Dwight Gayle, also with a brace as Leeds were despatched 2-0, occupies the penthouse suite at the Championship leading scorer hotel (i.e. he’s number 1). Norwich City made it four in a row – defeats that is. Their ignominy being compounded by this being at the hands of Ian Holloway and his QPR side who now sit a point ahead of our super Bees. At the bottom, it’s business as usual. Blackburn, Wigan and Rotherham continue to make up the final three.

That’s the latest Championship action in 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.

As ever, we start with Brentford where defeat at Ewood Park was hard to swallow. Despite Scott Hogan making it 9 and 10 for the season, those expecting us to ‘bounce back’ after Fulham were left ruing a lost chance. Indeed, it seems we’re struggling against the less fancied teams.

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That said, away from the action it was good to see Beesotted main man Billy Grant find the pub in Blackburn. Presumably, those aren’t wasps?

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Talking of which, (and this really IS the last comment on the crest confusion) anybody thinking our new logo looks like a wasp may want to refine their opinion. Or start supporting Alloa Athletic. Now THIS is a wasp (with thanks to @sarangipani for this spot).

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As a final Bees related though, Bernard Quackenbush just can’t let this one go. And rightly so, quite frankly. This time, the normally accurate BBC being the ones to feel his ire.

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Instead, the main story of the week has been the furore surrounding Manchester United and England man Wayne Rooney. Regular readers to this page will know that the Old Trafford outfit are frequent visitors (largely thanks to the black humour in their ongoing struggle to pick up where Sir Alex Ferguson left off). Yet, for once, I must spring to Rooney’s defence.

Seriously, what a fuss over nothing. What a ridiculous attempt by the press to once again knock the England team and kick the players that they’ll be the first to be fawning over when something goes well. It all started when he was photographed at a wedding party and then made to apologise like a naughty schoolboy….

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Fortunately, most people could see through the sham. From the Brentford angle, none other than Bluetones guitarist Adam Devlin and Irish international Alan Judge were quick to weigh in with their thoughts. The former being first out of the blocks with a double whammy.

 

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Manchester United legend Phil Neville also added his own voice to proceedings in defence of his former team mate.

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But it wouldn’t be the weekly round up without mention of Manchester United failing to hit the heights.  With local rivals Manchester City winning on the road at Crystal Palace thanks to a brace from Yaya Toure, the Telegraph were quick to post the following statistic.

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Elsewhere, the peril of wearing ludicrous luminous kits was highlighted – quite literally.

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We’ve spoken this week about the ongoing fall out at Charlton Athletic. Following a group of supporters confronting owner Roalnd Duchatelet in his home town of St. Truiden on the occasion of his 70th birthday meal, the Addicks were taking no chances this time around.

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‘Football on 5’ host George Riley put us in mind of one of the most favourite football cliches whilst preparing for the weekend’s show.

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With it , a cheap excuse to crowbar in another look at ‘the wellness scale’ of typical shot methods. I love this but can take no credit for producing what is a work of genius.

 

Wellness scale

Those of us who didn’t make it to Ewood Park were later afforded the opportunity to watch another 3-2 game. Namely, Tottenham’s home win over West Ham on Saturday night. Like our own game, the visitors took the lead before a soft penalty turned the scores.

BBC Radio London man Phil Parry was on hand to witness the action, where our own Billy Reeves laid down a gauntlet.

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And the answer, according to Billy today, saw the Children In Need coffers swelled further thanks to the ding-dong antics on BBC Radio London.

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They weren’t the only station reporting on this one, obviously. Ian Moose from Talksport was also present for another combo of commentary, banging on about pies and referencing ‘my good friend’ (insert name of player) – the regular form if his social media feed is to be believed. Mr Moose’s address book must be fit to burst whilst I dread to think what his birthday card bill is.

Friendship couldn’t get in the way of the result, however, as West Ham lost out at the death.

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And finally, on the same subject, regular followers of the Twitter scene may be aware of Ian offering what seem to be daily birthday wishes to one of his good footballing friends. Shameless name dropping or simply a public service keeping us abreast of all matters age related?

So it’s time for Ian’s football friend birthday of the week.  In a column that sees us looking at Manchester United, it is perhaps appropriate that this week Ian offers birthday wishes to his friend : Paul Scholes.

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Nick Bruzon