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Liverpool, Manchester United and Christian Eriksen latest plus the video to make our eyes light up.

18 Jan

Another day in the non-stop rollercoaster ride that is Premier League life. Brentford have done with Liverpool and we’re now set to host Manchester United . There’s FA Cup news out of Everton plus more midfield news than you can shake a stick at with Christian Eriksen of Denmark being just one of the names out there at the moment. 

Could we actually do this?

Which, with all due respect to Liverpool and Manchester United, needs to be where we start. The GPG have had the story building for over a week but now the rest of the world seems to have caught up with this. The BBC and several newspaper sites confirming that Brentford have been in touch with the Danish midfielder who has been released from his contract with Inter Milan. Serie A rules not allowing the sort of pacemaker which he has had fitted following that terrifying moment over the summer at Euro 2020.  

109 international caps. A pedigree in domestic football that also takes in Ajax and Spurs. 36 goals for his country from a variety of midfield positions. There are no words needed to describe his talent and word on the street is that there are a number of other top flight clubs looking to sign him. However, the actual word out of TW8 being that talks HAVE taken place between Brentford and the player about a six-month deal. Now, the inevitable negotiations begin.  

I can’t imagine somebody of his stature comes cheap, that’s for sure. How big a draw the power of Thomas Frank and the other Danes on our playing staff over wages will be remains to be seen. I’m drooling at the prospect of seeing him alongside Christian Norgaard. Chuck in Mathias Jensen for the full triumvirate. Right now, its more the case of hoping Thomas can do his thing to sell the Brentford project to his fellow countryman. 

Likewise, and perhaps more importantly, being hugely grateful that we can even be having this conversation. The sheer awfulness of what happened over the summer needs no revisiting. The despair and panic felt at the time unable to be put into words. And that was just us watching on from back home. It’s not possible to even half imagine how it felt for his team mates and family after he suffered that on pitch cardiac arrest in the game against Finland.

Thankfully, of course, the medical staff and his own team mates worked wonders to bring him back following the emergency treatment administered at the time. Now he’s in wonderful health by all accounts and chomping at the bit to go again – even targetting a place at the World Cup in December.  

That journey has to start somewhere and Brentford are the ones at the forefront of looking to help him take that first step. Could it happen? Will it happen? Is an unveiling before Manchester United too far flung a dream to cling to? Might it all come to nothing? Fingers are certainly crossed with, I have no doubt, much more to come in the coming days. 

The other news to set tongues wagging concerned a player already on our books. With video footage to match. We’ve all seen the pictures of Josh Dasilva in recent weeks but now he’s been in actual match action. You know, kicking a ball and everything. 45 minutes at Jersey Road in a game with Havant and Waterlooville. The comeback is most definitely on and whilst it may take a while longer to be involved in full fat first team action, this is about as big a boost as they come. Feast your eyes on this. 

Elsewhere, we’ve now gone live with the post match player and performance review following the game at Liverpool. Who were the top five for Brentford? Who is ahead in the race to be our season long star man? Who should have been included but missed out? You can find the answers and catch up on that piece, here.

In other news, TAP limits for the FA Cup fourth round tie at Everton have been announced. The figure cited by Brentford ‘official’ means just about anyone who has seen us on the road can take the trip to Goodison Park on Saturday 5th February. Season Ticket Holders with 1200+TAPs will be able to book their guaranteed place from today. 6,000 tickets are, I believe, available and priced at just £15 these are sure to fly off the shelves. If nothing else, it gives a chance to complete the Stanley Park bingo card following Sunday’s game. 

Two for the price of one

Until then though, it’s almost time for another home game. The chance to have played all 19 clubs in the Premier League will finally arrive. Manchester United being the last of the outliers following their 11th hour Covid related cancellation request back in December. How long ago does that feel now? The delay has allowed us to welcome back Kris Ajer and strengthen our goalkeeping options, amongst others permutations. It seems like another lifetime away when we were talking about having to bring out 18 year old Matthew Cox against the Red Devils for his Brentford debut? Perhaps we still will although any change should it come will, surely, be in the direction of Jonas Lössl. 

Today’s press conference will be telling as to both injuries and team selection. Even if it does end up being dominated by talks of another Dane in Christian Eriksen. All that’s to come, of course. For now we need to focus on Manchester United and the chance to pick up another three points. They looked wobbly (the story of the season) against Aston Villa and may well be without Cristiano Ronaldo which, if nothing else, is disastrous news for all the ‘Can I have your shirt…?’ placard makers. 

Could we do it? Will we do it? There’s only one place to be to find out. Lionel Road. See you there. 

Nick Bruzon 

Who were the top five performers at the weekend?

17 Jan

So Brentford lost out at Anfield on Sunday. A 3-0 reverse to Liverpool coming after 45 minutes of rock solid defending had almost threatened to send the half-time crockery flying. Then, the dam finally broke after wave upon wave of Red pressure and the rest is history. With Manchester United next up on Wednesday, are there grounds for expectation that another big name scalp will be claimed? Will the defensive, err, blips that gifted the third goal in particular be consigned to the waste bin of history?

Brentford push forward at Anfield

As ever at this juncture, we take a look at who deserves to keep their place in the Brentford starting XI after the Liverpool game and who were our top five players at Anfield? Does anyone deserve to miss out against Manchester United or will it be more of the same when Thomas names his team? Looking further afield, how is the race to be our season long star man shaping up?

You can find the answers to all these questions along with the summarised version of the team performance here. Who missed out? Who should have been included? Have we got it right? Over to you….

And that silenced The Kop

17 Jan

Liverpool 3 Brentford 0. The Bees returned to Anfield for the first time since that 1989 FA Cup tie for the return Premier League fixture following our 3-3 draw at Lionel Road earlier this season. This time, however, there was no contest. The odd flurry of chances aside – Bryan Mbeumo channelling his inner Richard Cadette for the closest of these – it really felt like one-way traffic. Yet with Manchester United next up there were still plenty of positives to take ahead of Wednesday night’s home game. Primarily, the return of Rico Henry and the backs to the wall defending – a mile away from the Southampton horror show – that accompanied the opening 44 minutes. Liverpool dominating and pushing but unable to find a way through.

Bryan runs at the Liverpool defence

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages, albeit the player review is now up. For now, the headlines surround two levels of Bees’ defence. That opening phase where despite the hosts having 75% possession, there was no way through. Kris Ajer ploughing through Jota. Pontus heading it clear time and again. Most exciting of all, the return of Rico Henry. His substitution just into the second half confirmed by Thomas Frank as being nothing more than precautionary, with the left back apparently available for Manchester united during the week. Whilst he was on the pitch, there was no holding back the man who is on a fast track to challenge for our player of the season.

Yet when the goals came, they were awful. Awful. A corner that bypassed the entire defence for the opener. A cross that could have been claimed or cleared for the second. A totally needless attempt to play it out from the back that culminated in the inevitable disaster for the third. What Alvaro Fernandez was thinking not once but twice before Minamino wrapped it up I have no idea. A huge shame because he has kept us in it as much as anyone prior to that with a series of smart saves.

What can you say? Resolute defence and valiant effort count for nothing when the final scores are read. Moreso when the nature of the goals conceded was as frustrating as we all saw. Yet having contained our hosts for the vast majority of the opening period and only falling out of sight relatively late on, the contest always felt even. At least in terms of Brentford potentially hauling themselves back in to it. Had Bryan gone the other side of the post with the away support already cheering the equaliser, who knows what might have been? Instead, class eventually shone through and the game ended as comfortably as the scoreline and the statistics suggest.

Ah, yes. Class. Let’s not forget who we were up against. And where. A team second only to Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title. A transfer budget, spending power and sheer quality of playing staff. A stadium with three times the amount of supporters than is possible at Lionel Road.

At face value these were insurmountable odds but we gave it a damn good shot before administering the fatal blow ourselves. That’s not to be harsh. This was a huge learning curve and should Premier League football be on the agenda for next season (Liverpool do seem safe, to be fair) then this sort of experience will only stand us in good stead.   

The Brentford fans were magnificent, btw. What an atmosphere being generated at the away end. What a noise. Singing throughout and cranking it up as the game progressed. In contrast, The Kop less a 12th man as more a library. Certainly, by the sound of things. The fabled atmosphere very much muted for vast swathes of the game.

Keep it like that for Wednesday and who knows what could happen.

Special mention for the rail seating, btw. Everyone stands away from home, anyway, so nothing new there but great to see this legitimised. Hopefully more to follow in our own West Stand shortly off the back of a trial that is only going to get formal approval based on all the evidence seen so far.

The only thing probably worth being aware of as we progress our own drive towards this type of standing, being how anybody lacking in stature gets to see the game. Specifically the kids. Our Harry spent the opening period staring into the backs of the fans in front given, unlike a traditional terrace, there was no room to move. The obvious answer is to stand on the seat, which he did, much to the chagrin of two Brentford ‘fans’ behind him who then started taking photos and went crying to the stewards about it. This despite the eight year old’s head being lower than everyone else in the rest of our group. My word. Seriously? Hats off to the stewards, too, who after ten minutes of their nonsense told him to stand on the seat and get on with it. He wasn’t overly phased whilst all this was going on and, instead, spent the time asking why it was called The Kop rather than The Klopp.

Rail seating looks here to stay based on the evidence

On the other hand, it was so good seeing all the other friendly faces. Including Harry Potter, whom I still can’t get used to seeing in anything beyond his now absent Gunnersaurus coat (Burgundy is not the new green), and somebody who came ‘full Sherlock Holmes’. The good vibes culminating in a chorus of “We’ll race you back to London” as the Liverpool fans poured out before full time.

Overall, a result which was expected by many observers but despite pressure, pressure, pressure The Bees held strong for so long. Had Bryan’s second half chance gone in at 1-0 down well, it would have been dreamland for Brentford, wouldn’t it? It was inches wide of the post. And that…silenced the Kop.

RIP Tony Gubba.

See you all on Wednesday for Manchester United

Nick Bruzon

Get the f*@k in !! Now THIS is what it’s all about.

15 Jan

Well here we are at last. If the Premier League hadn’t been exciting enough so far, Brentford now go into a sequence of games that sees us go to Liverpool on Sunday, host Manchester United on Wednesday and then welcome back old friends Wolves on the Saturday. It is a week of fixtures that at one point in most supporter’s lifetime would have been nothing short of fantasy football. Now it is very real and now it is here. Not to mention the news out of Lionel Road yesterday about Pontus Jansson signing an extended contract. The club captain clearly relishing his time with The Bees following that move which took him from Leeds United to Griffin Park back in 2019.

We can only begin with all things Liverpool, of course. A Sunday afternoon 2pm kick off sees our first visit to Anfield since that 1989 FA Cup quarter final. Brentford, then, a Division three club for whom Andy Sinton, Keith Jones, Allan Cockram, Gary Blissett, Keith Millen and Terry Evans were amongst the players to make yours truly go dewy eyed even now. Checks Wikipedia – Neil Smillie is 63. Cripes – that’s how long ago it was. Yet it was a rare opportunity to step up in class.To continue that epic cup run that had already seen us beat Manchester City and then a fine fifth round win up at Blackburn Rovers.

What an afternoon it was.

Liverpool, of course, were next level. In general and on the day. Reaching the ground relatively late, we walked into an already full stadium to be greeted by a wall of noise and a teeming mass of supporters. The fans moving as one on the Kop at the far end of the stadium. I remember suddenly being hit by the sheer impossibility of the task ahead but also the excitement and the potential if, somehow, footballing fate were to smile on us. If David were to beat Goliath. And it almost happened.

“No Offside!! Cadette!!! Ohhh, he’s missed!! Sinton’s lovely little ball and Richard Cadette, top scorer with seventeen goals this season… how close did he come to putting this quarterfinal? Well, it would have been dreamland for Brentford, wouldn’t it? It was inches wide of the post. And that…silenced the Kop”.

Ahh, Tony Gubba. His immortal words with the score locked at 0-0 still ring in the ears. The chance still visible in the minds’ eye. An opening ten minutes with more action than you get in most games. Then Liverpool turned it up to 11. 1-0 at HT became 4-0 by the end. We did well to hang in there but eventually class told. We went back to West London and that was it for over thirty years. Until this season and that quite incredible 3-3 at Lionel Road.

The inflatable Bee may have gone but the photo from my last trip to Anfield remains

If the trip to Anfield had been a highlight in my life as a Brentford fan, then the Premier League game in September has now overtaken that. To see the two clubs competing on an equal footing. Both in the same division. Decades of ambition finally coming to fruition. The long, hard years having to explain that our team, largely unheard of outside TW8, were Brentford rather than Brentwood (in Essex ) now nothing more than a dusty relic from a previous time. To have my family with me and little H, the excitement painted all over his face in thick brushstrokes. His tears as they scored again. The screams of joy as we pulled them back. Again. Liverpool’s lead falling apart as easily as a Leeds United promotion campaign.

That’s what a Wissa equaliser for 3-3 does

Ahh, good times. Amazing times. But a memory to file alongside Anfield ’89. Now, we’ve the chance to make new ones. Thee points the priority against a Liverpool side shorn of their best player (Mo Salah on AFCON duty along with Sadio Mane and Naby Keita) yet still putting out a terrifyingly strong looking line up for Thursday’s League Cup semi with Arsenal. That one ended 0-0, against ten men. Stoic resistance does work. With the Bees enduring that horror show at Southampton on Wednesday, one so woeful it culminated in a hard hitting approach to the player performance review – the only way is up. There’s just no way we can defend that abysmally again. Whether playing Liverpool or Lincoln City. We were victims of our own lethargy. This time around things will be different. They have to be.

Thomas Frank has hinted that Rico Henry will be ready. Amazing if so but one can’t help but think these are nothing more than mind games and Manchester United will be when we see him back in action. The attacking potential and defence quality he brings is, of course, something that needs no expansion upon. We all know it. We all love him. We all hope there will be no gamble with fitness although if he IS ready then happy days. Roll on 1pm Sunday when the team is announced and we find out.

The other big call will be in nets. Does Jonas Lössl get a start or will Alvaro Fernandez keep his place? It always takes time for a new goalkeeper and defence to sync up whilst nobody could replace David Raya. It’s a task as impossible as following Fergie at Old Trafford. The manager rather than the Black Eyed Pea. Yet, equally, we all know that things have been up and down. Moments of brilliance – he arguably saved us two points late on at home to Aston Villa – have come alongside a frustrating lack of clean sheets. The only people smiling there being the marketing team at Dormeo as another  promotional mattress and duvet set gets to stay in the warehouse. Is it all down to him? What would you do? For me, Clive, there’s nothing to lose by making the change. Something needs to give after Southampton and I’m afraid most eyes will be pointing in the obvious direction – that last line of defence.

Look, I know nothing about football. Really. I love it, live it, breath it. But I’m not a coach. I’m not involveld in what happens. Like most of us, a peripheral figure on the outside looking in when it comes to team selection and actually knowing what goes on behind the scenes.  Everyone’s an expert and a tracksuit manager. Everyone’s a critic and its the easiest thing in the world to pour forth. Indeed, that’s all part of what makes it such a wonderful game. The conjecture. The discussion. The ongoing debate with friends. Listening to pundits and then shouting at the tv as to how wrong they are. 

Ultimately though, it comes down to Thomas Frank and his squad as to who our best eleven are on the day. Rico or Sergi. Jonas or Alvaro. Whomever we go with, this promises to be as loud and exciting an experience as they come. It shouldn’t have the feel of ‘big day out’. That was for 1989 and a one off experience. An amazing one but we were a different club then with different aspirations. These days Brentford have big new ambitions (sorry, sorry, sorry – couldn’t resist) and these upcoming games the Rides, Manchester United and Wolves will go a huge way towards telling us how realistic they are. Bring it on!!! See you there.

The other news was , of course, Pontus Janson and his contract extension. This is fantastic news. He’ll now be with us until the end of of next season after it was announced yesterday that he had put pen to paper. 

No word, of course, as to whether it was ‘that’ pen but one can only dream….

That biro

Nick Bruzon

A brutal evening ends with a reset needed for Sunday.

12 Jan

Where to even start with any of that ? Brentford were humped 4-1 at Southampton in a game that saw a sub-Burnley level of frustration. Even Vitaly Janelt comparing it to Brighton in his own post match comments to ‘official’. In a season packed with so many giddy highs, this truly was as moribund and frustrating an experience as they come. Moreso, given that on paper the return of Kris Ajer and a central midfield of Janelt, Norgaard and Baptiste should have given us as strong a heart as they come. Instead, there was no answer to the hosts combination of fast pressing and long balls forward. With Liverpool next up on Sunday, dial in even half as close a performance – and the word is used in the loosest sense – and we’re going to be in trouble. Regardless of who they have missing at the African Cup of Nations.

Thomas acknowledges the fans at Full Time

We’ve all seen it, I’m sure. Whether through being there, the re-run that began at 9pm or via the video highlights that are now online. Go dig them out, if you must. I have but wish I hadn’t. What felt painful last night looks even worse in the cold light of day. Southampton on top of us at all times and not giving Brentford any chance to breath. Pushing. Pressing. Chasing. Closing us down. Winning just about every second ball. The Bees adopting a much more zonal set up, in that we seemed to be playing in a different time zone. The fetid whiff of 2006/07 and Rosenior-Butcher hanging over the team like a bad smell. Defence awol. The freedom of Saint Marys being handed to our hosts time and again. My word, they punished us. Hard. 

The first goal conceded within minutes. A corner flicked over and through the entire Bees defence. Yes, it was a fast ball but nobody reacted. Nobody got close to even trying to attack it, Ivan Toney aside. He and Fernandez offering little resistance to Jan Bednarek. Urghhh. 

Yet then Brentford hit that little patch of hope. First Vitaly levelling up with the most exquisite left footed volley, his leg at right angles to the pitch, after picking out a ball from Bryan. Then, the same man forcing Fraser-Frster to go full stretch. Promising. Might we actually show the spirit seen so often? The fire and guts that hauled us back time and again when Liverpool came to visit? That roared us on to the last minute at West Ham? 

Err, no. Ibrahima Diallo ligning himself up for a shot on the edge of the box that was predictable as the outcome inevitable. Nobody charged him down or even tried. The merest of shrugs from Ethan as the ball went past another Fernandez dive that didn’t, quite, reach the ball (longer gloves needed? Better positioning?). Either way, he shouldn’t have been beaten on his inside post and even though saved by the post, the ball ricocheted straight into his hand and the back of the net. Urghhh. Hearts sank. Half time came. Surely we’d start at 100 mph? Surely?

Alas not. A long ball forward caught Pontus short. 3-1. A long ball forward caught Pontus short. 4-1. He wasn’t alone btw. The entire defence awol for most of the game. The nonchalant fannying around cross the box lucky not to hurt us further. A brief flurry at the end where Bryan, Wissa and Ivan came close was far too little, far too late.  An absolute 0 out of 10 performance from Brentford, even despite the ref moment of joy elicited by Vitaly’s goal  

The biggest challenge of all then being after full time and attempting to complete the usual post-match piece where we find the top five Brentford performers. Well, I’ve done it on the way home and you can find that here. Please do go take a look. Let us know who, if anyone , missed out or should  / could have been included.   

The positives, if we can, being that this was very much out of character. This is Premier League football where no game is easy. The gaps for a team off their game likely to be exposed even more easily than at any other level we’ve played before. Likewise, one absolutely needs to acknowledge Southampton’s desire. Their drive. Their refusal to give us an inch. The difference bing that when faced with this approach before (e.g . Chelsea, home) we’ve generally hung firm at the back and avoided the avalanche. Not this time. Oh for a T-Rex last night. Or a defence. Or the ability to take the ball to our opponents. 

It happened. Its over. It was one game. No matter how unpalatable it felt at the time. Let’s never talk of their goals ever again and, instead, hope Thomas can pick the boys up in time for Liverpool on Sunday. Hope he can give us the Brentford that travelled to Wolves and West Ham so wonderfully. Not this.

On the plus side, if Rasmus Ankersen was looking to impress his new consortium in charge at Southampton with talent they may be interested in then they’d have laughed him out the ground. The wonderful recruitment strategy he was so instrumental in at Brentford offered up nothing more than … well, we get it. No point dwelling further. The frustration around was evident last night. Having slept on it, one has to remember what this team can do when they are on it. 

Was Rasmus in the boardroom or on security?

Over to you Thomas. Can you get us back to our best for Liverpool?  One thing’s for sure, I can’t wait to find out. Bring it on and see you there.

In the meantime, that ‘heat of the moment’ post-match analysis is here. Go strap on a tin hat…

Nick Bruzon   

And the top five Brentford perfomers were…..

11 Jan

Southampton 4 Brentford 1. It was as bad as the score line suggests . It was a result which now presents yours truly with the somewhat dubious challenge of looking back at the game to try and find the top five performers for The Bees. Those players who will be looking to make a name for themselves at Liverpool on Sunday.

No celebrations at full time

Who made the list? Can anyone count themselves unlucky to have missed out? Has there been a glaring omission? Well, here you go……………. 

Jurassic Park !!! Crazy costume heralds ‘keeper return.

11 Jan

Game on. Brentford travel to Southampton this evening. Victory, should it be earned, will take us into the top ten. Any other result is not even an option being considered by yours truly. Optimism is high following a strong start to the year and some wonderful news off the training ground. We’ve got Liverpool (a) and Manchester United (h) to come after this one and an FA Cup fourth round tie at Everton. Immediately followed by the trip to Manchester City in the league. If Thomas Frank’s team ever wanted to be tested at the highest level then the opportunity is very much here in the next few weeks. First up though, the injury update.

Ordinarily we’d start with some reference to the Southampton game. Rightly so. It is the immediate focus but the news out of Brentford ‘official’ yesterday was jaw droppingly good. Not to mention laced with the simple question…. “Why?”

If ever some ‘Monday motivation’ (urghh – see also humpday Wednesday and Gameday Saturday) were needed then here it was by the bucketload. David Raya back in training. Or, rather, David Raya back in training but rocking up at Jersey Road in a T-Rex costume. Repeat, a T-Rex costume. To clarify, a dinosaur rather than a Mark Bolan corkscrew perm and dapper threads combo.

Jurassic Park !!!

Back on the grass? Or just the painkillers taking hold to inspire a remarkable return? If the smiles were broad at Jersey Road they were even bigger in cyberspace. The Brentford family as exited on Twitter about the next step in his return as his choice of unexpected training gear. It was one of those,  “What the actual…?” moments. One best just enjoyed. As much for his entrance as the sight of our number one looking as solid as one could hope in a shot stopping drill for the cameras.

Brentford official captured it in full. David’s idea, apparently. No idea why but you can’t deny its impressive. Not to mention making me wonder whether there is somebody else inside Buzzette at present if this is what he does as part of that journey back to full fitness?

Whilst a return to playing may be some way off still, just to see David doing his thing was a phenomenal boost. Kris Ajer’s return against Port Vale in the FA cup at the weekend had already given Bees’ fans a lift and then there was this. Yet just when things couldn’t get any better, they did. Thomas Frank using his press conference for the Southampton game to talk about Josh Dasilva. We’d all seen those pictures of him back in training last week but the news on a potential return was about as good as it gets for a player who has missed the entire Premier League campaign.

“I said to Josh the other day that he could be our best signing this year. I really hope he comes back in a fantastic place. Hopefully, five or six weeks if everything goes to plan and he could potentially be available”. That’s no time at all.

Granted, there was an understandable air of caution in the proviso that, “We need to build him very carefully and strong. He needs to have a proper pre-season to load him well. We can’t get too over-excited but everything has been fine so far. The medical staff have been fantastic and done a top job”. However, this suddenly feels close. Very close.

Josh was absolutely immense in the Championship and has already gone on to represent England U-21. With him and David back out there and Kris already in the team, it feels like we’ve had a transfer window hat trick without signing anyone. Just phenomenal news. Let’s not forget either that Josh is only 23. Whilst this absence has felt like an eternity, time is very much on his side when it comes it the future. Here’s to it being with Brentford.

Exciting news from the training ground

As for tonight, Southampton are no push-overs, that’s for sure. The challenge will be as tough as the aforementioned games with Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City. If not harder, given nobody outside of TW8 expects us to do anything against the teams from the North-West. Yet tonight, we are ahead of our hosts in the Premier League and are back to winning ways following the thing at Brighton. The comeback against Aston Villa was inspirational, with the pressure being cranked up to the nth degree until victory eventually came (even if the ultimate talking point remains Trezeguet’s theatrics at the death…).

So yes, we may be back in the zone but that still needs to come with the ultimate respect for who we are up against. Thomas would talk about their pressing and their drive.  “They go very front-footed and are at some stages the best high-pressing, energy team in the league. Then they have some key players; James Ward-Prowse is maybe the best set-piece taker in the league”.

He knows it. We know it. Sadly, there isn’t even time to parachute Ward-Prowse into my Fantasy Football team. A curse which worked so well against Aston Villa with the no-show from Ollie Watkins and two goals conceded by Ezri Konsa. Perhaps just an ‘any time’ goal scorer bet. Whilst it may mean missing out on a whopping £2.30, it could be the best pound invested given my own ongoing ineptitude when it comes to predicting football or winning bets.

Forget Wissa’s rocket – the Villa win was as much down to my own team selection

Still, whatever nonsense takes place in the build up, it all comes down to who Thomas starts and how they go? Can Kris Ajer force his way into the back three or will an appearance from the bench be part of his own, well planned return? Sergi Canos and Matthias Jensen are both available once more although I’d be amazed if Mads Roerslev misses out on the right. So it turns out to be a three-way fight between Dominic Thompson, Sergi or perhaps even the wildcard option of Saman Ghoddos on the left. Rico Henry is expected to be back for the weekend trip to Liverpool. With respect to the other three, the second he is fit then he will unquestionably go straight back in to the team.

As for the middle of the park, it has to be Janelt, Baptiste and Norgaard. Only injury to one of those will see Matthias Jensen force his way into the starting XI. They’re simply that good at present. Up top, Bryan alongside Ivan writes itself after the weekend. Albeit, we don’t know how much strength is in the legs after that short-term lay off. Roll on 6.46 when ‘official’ announce the team news.

Finally, just a thought about those who can’t make it at present. And no, this is not a reference to the ‘plastic’ fans who weren’t at Port Vale. Seriously? Personally speaking, I had a great time drinking a glass of wine on the couch with Mrs. B in front of the tv on Saturday. Sometimes, things have to give for any number of reasons – financial or otherwise.

Something which has come to a head for some of our own friends who sit alongside us in the North stand. If they are somehow reading (stranger things and all that) then know your presence has been sorely missed. Whilst we hope you are back soon, just look after yourselves and know that all in our group are thinking of you. Some of us miss games through choice. Others have less control over matters. It doesn’t make you any ‘less’ of a fan. Genuinely, I’d love a 100% attendance record but that’s just not always possible. At least I get a choice though. Take care and see you soon x

Until then, its on to Southampton. Safe travels to all that can make this one. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Time for another road trip (or three). League and cup action await.

10 Jan

Brentford will travel to Everton in the fourth round of the FA Cup – ties to be played the weekend of 5th February. Along with Spurs v Brighton and Wolves v Norwich, it is one of only three all Premier League ties. Meaning there’s a good chance of the BBC going for TV coverage along with the inevitable bore fest that will be Manchester United v Middlesbrough. Unless, of course, Aston Villa can spare us all from that one tonight when they travel to Old Trafford for the final game of the round. Manchester City have the chance to warm up for our visit the following week with a home draw against EFL club Fulham whilst next on our tour of the Premier League, Southampton, are home to Coventry City.

There was immediate, perhaps bizarre, excitement in our house when Everton came out of the hat. Aside from our own recent 1-0 win and an earlier than expected chance to visit a new ground, if Brentford show half the oomph we did against Port Vale then it could be a classic. A 4-1 win on the road with Mads Bidstrup subsequently described by Thomas Frank as a little bit of our N’Golo Kanté  ( “A big, big claim of course” – Thomas’ own words ). Talking about his “Big engine”, he used the post-match to lavish praise on the midfielder, enthusing that “his ability to press and cover so many yards across the pitch is fantastic and that acceleration when he just goes past people, I think that’s so good in the pressure.”

Mads’ reward is another ‘away’ tie.

Then, of course, we’ve the prospect of another run in with everyone’s favourite Brazilian.  Pele, Socrates, Zico, Ronaldinho…. Allan. As has already been documented on these pages, the midfielder has become a cult hero to rival Argentina’s Lucas Biglia in our house. Any chance of some bonus Allan action is one which we’ll always opt for. Especially if Everton continue to, what’s the polite term, ‘misfire’ as much as they have done in recent months. League form is best described as patchy, with only Leeds United and Watford standing between them and the bottom three.

Meaning that the purse strings could be severely tested, given the trip to Manchester City in the Premier League is just a few days later. A 7.45pm kick off on Wednesday 9th February. Tickets for that one go on sale this Tuesday afternoon for anyone clearing that first TAP threshold of 3,400.  Away capacity for League games at The Ethiad is reckoned to be about 3,000 across the three tiers of the South Stand, so hopefully anyone with requisite form will be able to get in should they so desire. Definitely one where we’ll need to flex the plastic to cover costs.

Before all that we head to Southampton on Tuesday evening. They had the pleasure of a ‘behind closed doors’ tie in Swansea at the weekend (its Wales, innit). That one went to extra time before the Saints went, if not marching, certainly limping on.

Ralph Hasenhüttl telling Sky that his much changed team may not have enough players for tomorrow’s game, saying, ”We never know. At the moment, it’s all about lottery… You wake up in the morning and go to the training ground. You sit at breakfast and you are waiting for new [coronavirus] cases. The problem is with the fixtures coming up. It doesn’t get any easier.”

So far (Monday morning) there aren’t any noises being made about applications to have the game called off or training grounds being closed. Fingers crossed this is nothing more than sabre rattling and mind games. As much for the players’ health as the additional chaos caused by any more backlog. Let’s not forget that this fixture has already been put back once.

For Brentford, expect to see more of Bryan Mbeumo. He was back to his brilliant best, with Thomas waxing lyrical about his half hour appearance form the bench. Less the proverbial cameo and more scene stealing. Our head coach nothing that “I must say he’s been the same for us this year in the Premier League. He’s done really well after coming back from injury. We knew he wanted to play in the Cup to be in with a chance of being ready for Tuesday at Southampton and he’s just come in with three quality finishes”.

Too true, and surely he’ll find his way back in to the Brentford front line alongside Ivan when the teams are named at 6.46 on Tuesday evening.

In the meantime, you can read that piece in full, here. Come for Mads. Stay for Bryan.

For now, though, it’s a chance to charge the battery packs and prepare for the trip to Southampton. Don’t forget those Manchester City tickets tomorrow and, whilst we wait to find out when that Everton game will actually take place (Liverpool are also at home so something will have to give) here’s the rest of the draw in full….

Safe travels to the South coast and see you there…

Fourth round ties…

Crystal Palace v Hartlepool United

Bournemouth v Boreham Wood

Huddersfield Town v Barnsley

Peterborough United v Queens Park Rangers

Cambridge United v Luton Town

Southampton v Coventry City

Chelsea v Plymouth Argyle

Everton v Brentford

Kidderminster Harriers v West Ham United

Manchester United/Aston Villa v Middlesbrough

Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton and Hove Albion

Liverpool v Cardiff City

Stoke City v Wigan Athletic

Nottingham Forest v Leicester City

Manchester City v Fulham

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Norwich City

Allan awaits

Nick Bruzon

FA cup third round goals and fourth round draw details. What next for 19?

9 Jan

Brentford are in to the fourth round of the FA Cup. A 4-1 defeat of Port Vale on Saturday afternoon was as notable for the return of Kris Ajer as it was a second half hat-trick for Bryan Mbeumo. Or Boomoo as Match of the Day insist on calling him still. Come on the media team, have a word. It was all the more impressive given he only came onto the pitch in the heart of the 60-70 sub zone but the game turned from there. With no apparent injuries it means we can get back to Premier League business, and those trips to Southampton and Liverpool, in good spirits. Before that though, there’s the fourth round draw which takes place on Sunday afternoon after the clash between West Ham and Leeds (kick off 2pm). The Bees are ball number 19 in that one. Cambridge United at 26 amongst the clubs looking to cause another following their own humiliation of Newcastle United. Oh, Eddie Howe. You can do it at Bournemouth but what about on a miserable afternoon in the North-East?  

Tough luck. That’s their issue. For Brentford, safe progression was as much as one could have hoped for. Target achieved. We don’t do match reports on these pages and even less so today, given this ‘plastic prem fan’ was following the game from the comfort of the sofa. More wine please? Don’t mind if I do. 

Following progress from home

Sadly, with the post Christmas budget thinner than the Liverpool squad before a league cup semi something had to give. And it was the trip to Vale Park. Kudos to all those who made it. For a supporter who has been following Brentford for over forty years, it was a game too far. This time.

I know I wasn’t alone but the showing from those who could make the trip was hugely impressive. The MOTD cameras at least showing how well we had travelled. Top, top work all round. Even if, as one North Stand observer put it to me , “You should only have to go to Stoke once in a lifetime.”

The highlights for this one are up c/o the BBC . You can see these below.

Watch the lung busting pace of Bryan Boomoo (sic) and an impressive performance from Mads Bidstrup in the middle. If my maths are correct, the arrival of Roerslev for Ajer meant we had all three Mads on the pitch for the final half hour. A curio not seen (probably – although I’ll defer to Jonathan Burchill here) since the three Keiths team back in 1989. Branagan, Millen and Jones, for the record.

Have we ever gone four? Over to you, Jonathan.

Can we find a fourth?

The other FA Cup news is, of course, the draw. With 32 names (subject to those last ties) being left there is still the potential for potato skins and tricky away trips. The absence of any replays thanks to the Covid related fixture pile up something that I am sure will now remain in place forever and which has one advantage in giving the draw a cleaner look. Gone will be those ‘or’ or ‘or’ versus ‘or’ or ‘or’ permutations which have become a familiar thing in recent years. Meaning it should be much easier for the BBC and ITV to fight over who wants to show Manchester United at home next time out.

As noted, that draw takes place this afternoon. The FA website say it will be at approximately 4.50pm. Presumably to allow for the possibility of the West Ham – Leeds game going to extra time and penalties. That is, of course, assuming the visitors don’t fall apart. Again. You can watch this on ITV . The meat in a sandwich completed by their coverage of Nottingham Forest  – Arsenal.  

For me, Clive, very much a case of an afternoon on the sofa. Not for the first time this weekend. Then we’ll be swapping couch for coach and getting back on the midweek road. Bring it on and see you there.

Until then, here are those big money balls………

1 Boreham Wood

2 AFC Bournemouth

3 Stoke City/Leyton Orient

4 Southampton

5 Chelsea

6 Liverpool / Shrewsbury Town

7 Cardiff City / Preston North End

8 Coventry City

9 Huddersfield Town

10 Brighton & Hove Albion

11 Kidderminster Harriers

12 Leicester City

13 Middlesbrough

14 Hartlepool United

15 Everton

16 Fulham

17 Tottenham Hotspur / Morecambe

18 Crystal Palace

19 Brentford

20 Manchester City

21 Wigan Athletic

22 Luton Town / Harrogate Town

23 Plymouth Argyle

24 Manchester United / Aston Villa

25 Wolverhampton Wanderers / Sheffield United

26 Cambridge United

27 Barnsley

28 Peterborough United

29 West Ham United / Leeds United

30 Queens Park Rangers

31 Charlton Athletic / Norwich City

32 Nottingham Forest / Arsenal

Nick Bruzon

The New Year started with a bang. Now, the games come thick and fast.

7 Jan

And so it begins again. Covid may have put paid to the traditional December fixture pile up but, instead, Brentford see the games coming thick and fast in January. We’ve got Port Vale in the FA Cup this Saturday, swiftly followed by a midweek trip to Southampton and then Liverpool away on Sunday week. That, in itself, a topic of huge contention as supporters were once again proven to be the second class citizens we so clearly are in the eyes of those pulling the strings. This is swiftly followed by the rearrangement of the home game with Manchester United (Wednesday 19 Jan). The one cancelled at the 11th hour after their covid outbreak. The one following the insipid performance at Norwich. Then, a fortnight after that FA Cup, we’ve the visit from Wolves in the league. As it stands. Who knows these days?

Another journey on the “Road to Wembley” begins

First up, the FA Cup. Thomas Frank has used his press conference to confirm that Kris Ajer will start that game. His return to fitness is magnificent news. Primarily for his own contributions so far this season, where he has hit the ground running despite the tougher challenge compared to the Scottish Premier league. His own comments about it being easy to make the step up from a division where you are expected to win even game have, so far, been proven. Brentford have most definitely been stronger with Kris in the team whilst his return is as welcome given the injuries still being felt by Zanka and Charlie Goode. All being well he comes out of this unscathed against opponents who will no doubt be going for the juggular. 

Their own recent battles with Covid and fixture congestion means that Vale are sure to start strong. Thomas telling the media that manager Darrell Clarke, “Needs a game for his starting XI. We know they like to play and attack but we will be ready for that.

Trying to help Brentford avoid slipping up on an FA Cup potato skin will be Bryan Mbeumo although for Rico Henry it is seen as “One step too early for Saturday”. Sergi Canos and Matthias Jensen also miss out although should be available for Southampton.

Whether either will start that game is another matter altogether. Janelt, Baptiste and Norgaard are the absolute three nailed on names for just about every Brentford fan, subject to fitness. Likewise, with Mads Roerslev in fine form down the right, it looks like a three way battle between Sergi, Dominic Thompson or even Saman Ghoddos until Rico is ready once more. The later in particular impressing against Aston Villa and breaking in to the top five performers in the post match player review.

The FA Cup is then followed by Southampton (a), Liverpool (a), Manchester United (h) and Wolves (h). Four Premier League games in 12 days. The sort of congestion we saw following lockdown one. Or was it two? The difference this time around being that fans will be present to roar us on. We all know what a difference the atmosphere makes with the crowd really helping drag the players back into that second half against Aston Villa. The visits of the ‘big’ clubs seeing things go nuts from the off and so expect the roof to be ripped off when we get a visit from possibly the biggest of all during this run. Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Our games with Wolves have always been special. Going neck and neck in both League One and the Championship over the last ten years, its been wonderful crossing paths once more in the top flight. Long may the duel continue. Especially if we pull out the result as we did up at Molineux earlier in the season. Another ice-cool penalty from Ivan Toney, a wonder tackle from Kris Ajer and a new pair of gloves for David Raya being the stand out moments from a fine win on the road.

Another round in the ongoing battle of Wolves v Bees approaches.

Before that is the rearranged trip to Liverpool (thoughts on which will likely be saved for the programme column for Manchester United) followed up by the visit from the Red Devils. Certainly two of the toughest fixtures in a back to back sequence of league games. One does have to wonder how they’ll cope with these two? The trip to Lionel Road to take on Brentford is followed by Man U then hosting a West Ham United side looking to consolidate their own, perhaps unexpected, challenge for that fourth Champions League spot. 

Two tough games but that’s their problem. For Brentford, it’s all about Port Vale (the ‘official’ build up is here) and Southampton. Perhaps with half an eye on Anfield. There’s a lot of excitement to come, that’s for sure. Beating Aston Villa was immense. Moreso after Trezeguet attempted to mug us off after channeling his inner Platoon late on. Instead, three points were earned and the Bees started the new year with a bang. Long may it continue. 

Here’s to a glut of football. See you there. Until then, here’s the only ‘highlight’ from last time out.

Nick Bruzon