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Everton – Brentford. Post-match debrief and star player ratings.

16 May

Everton 2 Brentford 3. Another win for the Bees. Another morale boost ahead of the season finale with Leeds United this Sunday. 7 wins from the last 10 games played and the top half of the table very much in Thomas Frank’s sights.

As ever at this point, we look back on who scoops the star man award For Brentford? Who made the top five as Everton ended up with as many goals scored as red cards earned? Will Thomas be making any changes for ‘that’ game with Leeds United?

The answers are here in the post match debrief . Enjoy…..

Nick Bruzon

The dream is on.

16 May

What a Sunday. Brentford were magnificent, simply magnificent, in a 3-2 defeat of 9 man Everton. Burnley robbed by the most dubious of penalties at Spurs. Leeds United leaving it to 90+2 to salvage a draw that keeps them one point above The Clarets, albeit with a game more played. Next weekend is going to be huge. The Bees still with a very realistic chance of a top ten finish. As interestingly, that final relegation spot is going to go to the wire. The dream really is on. Should Burnley pick up a point in either of their final two games, then Brentford will have the final say in who goes down. Could it be Leeds? Could it….?

What an afternoon

Let’s start at Goodison Park though. We’ve likely all caught up with it by now. Either live at the ground, on Sky as events unfolded or perhaps later on MOTD2. The tale of the tape being goals for Wissa, Rico and an o.g. to give Brentford the points. 

Everton ending the game with 9 men after straight reds for both Jarrad Branthwaite and Salomon Rondon. The master outsmarting the apprentice on the other bench as Thomas Frank played his substitution cards with all the insight of a man reading the game as a scholar would the Encyclopædia Britannica. Lampard, meanwhile, was stuck on Page 2 of Topsy and Tim Play Football with no clue which way to turn. 

Even the undoubted king of shithousery Richarlison, a man who makes Neal Maupay look like Mother Theresa, unable to salvage the game for the Toffees.

Required reading

The post-match debrief is up here with all the info on who did what. For now, we need to reflect on the bigger picture. On the fact that Brentford are not only closing in on the top ten but we played a ferocious atmosphere and shut it down. We survived the desperation of a 3.30am firework laden wake up call to deliver a few rockets of our own. Our supporters immense. Our players, equally so. Thomas shuffling his pack before the decision was taken out of his hands on an afternoon when you were never quite sure what colour card would come next.

Most of all though, it means that Sunday is going to be massive. Regardless of the midweek results when Burnley and Everton play their games in hand, that final relegation spot will be open. Leeds United still have matters outside their own control – my word, Thursday night at Villa Park is going to be some game  – and Brentford are the ones now in position to potentially send them back to the Championship.

Of course, we’ll be playing for league position. A win absolutely vital for Brentford if the dream of top ten in the Premier League is to become a reality. Anything else that may transpire off the back of that, nothing more than a consequence of our actions and our ambition. Not to mention our opponents’s season long bad form with only five clean sheets and their breaking the all time Premier League record for yellow cards in a campaign.

That said, the one thing you can bank on is that Bees’ fans would, universally, love that scenario to play out. Any Everton supporters worried about being overtaken should they somehow fail to pick up another point can rest assured that the Bees will be going for it.

Which sticks in the craw somewhat given the racial abuse dished out on social media and to the families of both Rico Henry and Ivan Toney by some of the home fans. It has all been reported to the Police but the fact this is still happening is utterly sickening. Utterly baffling. Let’s see what the club do in relation to this. It’s 2022 for crying out loud. Not the 70s. 

For that alone I’d love not doing them any sort of favour but, sadly, needs must and the bigger picture potential of the Bees recording our own victory is just too huge to contemplate.  With 7(seven) wins from the last 10 games and the only real negative being the off-key evening at Old Trafford, Brentford are on fire. Oh to make it an eighth on Sunday.

Rest assured, if Leeds United think that Brentford are going to be on their summer holidays nothing could be further from the truth.  I tell you this now. I’d love it if we can get the win. Absolutely love it. Leeds United went down in my estimation when they published that video, despite subsequently removing it. I’ve got a feeling that despite his diplomatic persona, Thomas Frank is thinking much the same.

Mind the gap…

Nick Bruzon

Who will fall apart? How hard might ‘the curse’ bite?

13 May

Come on already Sunday. Our trip to Everton cannot come soon enough with Brentford racing towards the end of the season and desperate to see what our final position may be. Not to mention who will be staying with us in the Premier League in 2022-23. A challenge for which both Leeds United and the Toffees were handed a huge boost when Mike Jackson of Burnley was named manager of the month for April. As if their next game wasn’t a tough enough challenge (Tottenham away), the Turf Moor outfit now have the added albatross of the MOTM curse hanging around their neck. We all know how that one goes – win the award ; lose the next game. Something enshrined in footballing folklore as the only greater harbinger of doom than a pre-match visit from ever popular BBC roving reporter Mark Clemmit.

We’ve covered that ground on these pages many times. Albeit worth recalling the quasi-scientific study undertaken in 2014-15 to try and put some meat on the bones of the claim that any club hosting Clem for a Football League Show feature would subsequently fail to win. A season long analysis followed which saw only 7(seven) victories for teams he visited. Out of 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford. The Hornets lead with all other results going their way, the title was in their grasp. With the BBC showing 90 minutes, Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished at 1-1. The title lost, with the final goal. All under Clem’s watchful eye.

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

I don’t have the figures for Manager Of the Month. Thomas Frank and Brentford can count themselves truly unlucky not to have scooped the prize this time around. 10 points out of 12 including that epic win at Chelsea a sequence that, one would have thought, made him a shoe in.

There you go. I’m happy to see Burnley on fire if that run has put the cat amongst the relegation pigeons. Now Everton and Leeds United are both in the mix. Now, Brentford have a genuine say in who will stay n the Premier League with us next season. Even if Burnley have the added pressure of a game at a Tottenham side whose thumping of Arsenal last night means the race for the Champions League spots is anything but over.

And that’s four…. an April that began at Chelsea not quite enough to see Thomas to the monthly prize

This Sunday is going to be intense. The Burnley game is on BT Sport at 12pm although you’ll need to follow on the wireless / ‘other sources’ if you want to keep pace with Leeds United – Brighton. 

Then, at 4.30pm, Brentford are up on Sky. The Everton game pushed back to this horrific time at the 11th hour, after most fans had already made their  transport chaos inflicted plans, in order to help West Ham prepare for the Europa League final. That worked well. They’ll just have to go on reminiscing about 1966 and the 1980 FA Cup final when it comes to talk of silverware. Trevor Broking with a header, apparently. If only somebody had menti…. etc etc etc 

Brentford, meanwhile, are left with an even trickier job. 5/2 the price on an away win. At least Thomas doesn’t have the extra jinx factor to contend with. That curse is a problem for Mick Jackson although I for one , hope he can beat it in what is sure to be a thriller at Tottenham. Let’s not go too far down that pun stern road though.

Instead, the priority has to be in hoping Everton and Burnley do the least badly out of the three teams slugging it out to join Watford and Norwich City in the Championship. Victory for Brighton, Burnley and Brentford probably the best combination of results. 

If only football was that simple to call. That said, let’s not forget we ran the numbers through a super computer in early April. Despite the mockery that came with that prediction – in both the article and online – the suggestion that Norwich, Everton and Leeds would be the sides sent down is still looking as though 2 out of 3 may be called correctly. Albeit, hands need to be held about Watford’s chances. Truly, I (sorry, the computer algorithms) hadn’t factored just how genuinely abject they were.

Whether it is Everton or Leeds joining the Hornets and Norwich remains to be seen, of course. The next part of that plays out at the weekend and I cannot wait. 

Now, if Clem – who, to be fair, has seen very much a reversal of his anti-form in more recent seasons – could ensure he was set to ‘jinx mode’ and then go visit the Elland Road training ground first, that would be just marvellous.

Beesotted shared this yesterday. Any incentive needed…??

Until then, there’s the post-fact debrief from our last game – the 3-0 defeat of Southampton – for anybody who would to read more. Stranger things and all that…

Nick Bruzon

You’re going to reap just what you sow.

12 May

That’s it. Brentford are officially playing in the Premier League next season. Last night’s 3-0 trashing administered to Leeds United by Chelsea – a game which saw yet another red card for the Elland Road outfit – means the last of the clubs who can technically catch the Bees have spurned the opportunity. With Everton pulling further clear following their 0-0 at Watford, the contrasts between Thomas Frank and Jesse Marsch’s teams couldn’t be greater. 

Mind the f*&king gap indeed. Those final two games are going to be immense.

The table this morning

For Brentford, the top half of the table is still very much the target. Four points the difference between us and a Brighton team currently sitting 9th. To survive in the top flight is an achievement that has already surpassed the expectations of just about every critic and pundit prior to the season kicking off. Genuinely, as anyone who reads these pages will know, I’ve always been confident in our ability. In where we’ll end. In how we’ll go. Even in that patchy period during the winter when wining a game seemed as likely as yours truly being invited to sit in the director’s box. 

Instead, we were given yet another reminder that a season lasts 38 games. Not 7(seven) or 8. The David Raya / green jacket / Christian Eriksen inspired run (delete as applicable) that we’ve enjoyed in the last few months, perfectly supplementing that wonderful start which even saw Brentford go top of the Premier League table after our opening fixture. Fact.

The last few months have seen some key contributions

None of this should be underplayed. A squad of predominantly Championship players not only holding their own but even administering more than a fair share of bloody noses. Liverpool. Chelsea. Arsenal. West Ham (twice) amongst those having the rug pulled from under their feet when it wasn’t expected. The crowd playing their part, too, with Lionel Road and the travelling support seeing the roof more than raised game in, game out. Thomas Frank, staying a tactical step ahead of everyone as the season has moved towards a most exciting conclusion.

Now, there are two games left. We start at an Everton team who will be desperate for another three points to boost their own survival hopes. An Everton team who have rediscovered the path to victory in recent weeks after sliding down the table faster than the BBC viewing figures when Mrs. Brown’s Boys are drafted in to replace Match Of The Day on a snow day.

Every football fan’s worst nightmare

That won’t be easy. Of course Brentford want to win. Of course we are pushing for that top ten finish. Equally, if Thomas Frank wants to use the game to preserve some tired legs. To give a run out to those returning from injury. To perhaps blood a few of the B team then so be it. This is all about the longer term. About next Sunday. About ensuring the squad are in peak shape for the game with Leeds United…

For the simple reasons that we all want to finish the season as we started it. With a win. Should that win come and it have any additional consequences then all well and good. You reap what you sow and one game shouldn’t be seen as the defining point in a campaign. If it is the game that sees us in the right place at the right time then all the better for it.

Of course the combination of Burnley, who have a game in hand, and Neal Maupay may have already determined Leeds’ fate. Brighton are the next visitors to Elland Road. They’ll be looking for the win to lock up their own position in the upper half of the table. There’ll be as many eyes on that one as there are at Goodison Park.

Whatever happens, happens. Personally speaking I’m loving the fact that the Premier League battle has gone all the way. At both ends. Brentford are now in a situation where we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. By which I mean our own league position of course. Whatever happens to anybody else is of their own making. Oh, to be the ones swinging the axe though….

I can’t wait for any of this. See you there. And then in the Premier League next season, too.

Might Neal inflict a fatal blow this Sunday?

Nick Bruzon    

Video nice and video nasty suggest a special dish will be on the menu.

10 May

Another day, another vote. We wrote yesterday about the almost impossible choice facing anybody making their Brentford player of the year selection. Such have been the performances this season there are a genuine half-dozen candidates who could lay claim to the award. Now, with just Everton (a) and Leeds United (h) to go, we’re almost at the end of the line. There’s still a ton of excitement to come – and the resurfacing of ‘that’ video yesterday has only served to further stoke supporter intrigue in all things Elland Road (that’s the polite term) – with the hope paramount that we’re all channeling our inner Joy Division next Sunday. That is, assuming Neal Maupay and Brighton don’t get there first this weekend.

Could Neal do it, again

First up, the player of the year vote. For what its worth I’ve gone David Raya. There seems to be a lot of noise for Christian Norgaard too. Both magnificent candidates. As are all the other names on a shortlist where Rico Henry, Ivan Toney and Christian Eriksen seem to be amongst the other names of those leading the charge.

It really is a case where car keys in the bowl would be just as fair a mechanism for selecting the winner though. They’ve all been incredible and this is, without a doubt, the toughest vote ever. My thoughts on the runners and riders, to coin a phrase, are in yesterday’s piece – along with the Southampton post-match debrief and our own season long ‘top five’.

Then, on Monday, another vote dropped. Like standing at a bus stop you wait ages and then two come along at once. This time, the goal of the season.

What a choice this one is. A shortlist of 11 that is dominated by two players. The technical brilliance of Vitaly Janelt at Southampton. His pair agasint Chelsea also included. Then there’s Wissa. Liverpool. Aston Villa. Oldham in the cup. And, of course, that amazing moment against West Ham. Oh, the hairs on the back of my neck are tingling just thinking about that one. About just how incredible it was.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

Then there’s Sergi Canos. He scored our first top flight goal of the season. You know? That night we beat Arsenal and went top of the Premier League. Don’t @ me. The table doesn’t lie.

If Wissa was incredible for the timing and the celebration, this one was at home and that mass out pouring of joy. It wasn’t a bad finish either, with a personal celebration to match.

Sergi very much enjoys the moment…

The vote is live now. As with the POTY awards, all you need is a fan number and a surname to take part. Much as I was tempted by Ajer against Southampton or Saman up at Burnley, for me it is a straight fight between Sergi and Wissa at West Ham.

However, that’s me. Vitaly’s precision and technique are more than worthy of recognition – just which of the three ? Good luck sorting through all of this but at least it’s fun doing so. The video is below.

And talking of videos, a segue as subtle as the ‘jokes’ in Mrs. Brown’s Boys, if ever inspiration was needed for the Everton and Leeds United games (it isn’t) then we were given a helpful reminder from Elland Road yesterday. A helpful reminder that revenge is a dish best served cold. A reminder, that there could be something very special on the menu next Sunday.

We were all saving it. We were all keeping our powder dry. But we’ve all started sharing it. And Monday seemed to be ‘Mind the Gap’ reminder day. Sometimes, there is no real comment needed. No point waxing lyrical for pages. Just remember that even Leeds United ‘official’ shared it before hastily changing their minds….

I am sure that Thomas Frank and all those in an official capacity at Brentford will remain tight lipped in the build up to this one and maintain a stance of nothing more than looking to finish the season with a win. For Brentford fans, we all know what this would mean. Not just the video but the ongoing arrogance and entitlement since our days together in League One. Oh, Ben Strevens xx

A season that has given so much since Sergi got the ball rolling against Arsenal back in August looks like it is going to go all the way to the wire.

And I cannot wait. If its good enough for Ivan then its good enough for me….

Hmm. Love will tear us apart, anyone? A game that was already laced with anticipation looks like it might have cranked up a level or three.

In the meantime, the post match debrief from the Southampton game is now up and online. Should anybody need any further food for though in picking their POTY then this may provide the calm before the storm.

Nick Bruzon

Brentford – Southampton. Post match debrief and top five review

10 May

Brentford made it 6 wins out of the last 9 games. 19 points from the last 27. Saturday’s 3-0 defeat of Southampton giving further hope to those looking towards the top half of the table.

As ever at this point, time to look at who was the star man for Brentford? Who makes the top five? Who is leading the season long hunt for our game by game top performer? Who did enough against Southampton to retain their place for the trip to Everton on Sunday?

And, as ever, the answers to all of those are here…

Who gets your vote? This one is as tough as they come.

9 May

Another weekend done. Brentford turned it on again to sweep past Southampton. A 3-0 win every bit as complete as the scoreline suggests. The team now on 43 points and still dreaming of the top ten in the Premier League. Elsewhere, Everton racked up another win on the road whilst Leeds United went down at Arsenal and had captain Luke Ayling sent off for a crazy challenge. Not the first moment of madness experienced in a game that saw a comical goal being gifted to the hosts. All of which means the Elland Road outfit drop into the relegation zone as we head into the final fortnight of the season. Mind the gap indeed…..

With Brentford travelling to Everton next before hosting Leeds United, we’ve naturally got a lot of interest in both clubs and their current form. In what they have to play for. An awful lot, it seems. Midweek – and the respective games with Watford and Chelsea –  is going to be huge. Still, there’s nothing we can do on that front beyond sit back and watch the action unfold. There’s no real influence can be bought to bear so we’ll leave both clubs to stew in their respective juices and see who can fight their way out.

For Brentford, the focus is now on our player of the year award. The vote was opened to supporters this weekend with the choice being one of the toughest in years. Looking across social media I’ve seen a whole gamut of names chucked in to the mix. Genuinely, any of these would be a worthy winner. But who to pick?

Ivan Toney has the goals. He’s the current leader of our weekly ‘game by game’ top five performers’ chart. The gap at the top is definitely getting narrower and this one is going to go to the wire. Yet, as it stands, he is in pole position. He’s eighth in the Premier League goal scorers chart for the season and, with Harry Kane the only English player above him, could selection for the national team be next on the agenda? If nothing else, given the Three Lions’ uneasy relationship with spot kicks, he could be the perfect weapon up Gareth Southgate’s sleeve when the World Cup squad is named.

Ivan has been doing it since the season began

Then there’s Rico Henry. If we’re looking at Ivan for England then surely Rico has an equally bold claim? My word, he has been incredible this season. Just incredible. The pace. The tackling. The skill with the ball at his feet. The acceleration up the left flank and delivery in to the box. He’s the proverbial ‘first name on the team sheet’. Thankfully, a contract extension has been signed that sees him remain a Bee until 2026.

Rico – just fantastic

What about Bryan Mbeumo? Talk about back to his best. Inspirational captain Pontus Jansson with his heart on his sleeve and always leading by example? The revelatory Kris Ajer? The almost ’taken for granted’ authority of Ethan Pinnock? Mrs Bruzon, who knows a heck of a lot more than yours truly, has cast her vote for one of those.
Vitaly Janelt has been magnificent. That he only cost £0.5million almost laughable in retrospect. 

Might Pontus be celebrating again?

The choice of those looking in would likely sway towards Christian Eriksen. Understandably. The romance of his story aside, he has been game changing since returning to full fitness. Few could dispute what a massive influence he has been on the team since he made his way in to the starting XI. That Chelsea game being the one that grabbed all the headlines but he has been that good every time he has played.

The aforementioned ‘top five’ is only missing his presence due to the way it is calculated on game by game scores. As such he misses out on that and, for the same reason, I can’t cast my vote in that direction. This season. For a player of the year award, 9 appearances (fantastic though the y have been) leaves him just that bit short.

What a signing

For me, Clive, it comes down to two players. First up, Christian Norgaard. Brentford’s Mr consistent. The under the radar player who may not always grab the headlines but who is the beating heart of this team. Who keeps it tight at the back siting just in front of whatever formation Thomas elects to start with. Who drives us forward. Who sprays it about with aplomb. Who even weighs in with the odd goal.

That moment of celebration against Arsenal when Brentford topped the Premier League table back in August, secured by his doubling of our lead. The weekly player review has seen him in the top five more than any other player – 18 times out of 36 games played to date. He has been incredible. He deserves to win.

Might Christian be celebrating again?

Then there’s David Raya. For all that people point to Ivan’s goals. To Eriksens’s influence. To Rico’s pace. To Norgaard’s consistency. They’re all correct but none of it would count for anything were it not for the last line of defence. For me, the biggest moment of the season was the injury suffered late on against Leicester City. Up until then, Brentford had been flying. Raya on fire. Then he was gone. Then we had a different Brentford. One which got humped at Burnley. Handed Norwich City their first win of the season. That couldn’t rejig or get used to life without our number one. Two different options were tried and, but for Covid it would have been three (Matthew Cox, your time will come). None of them worked. Like an overbalanced Jenga tower, Brentford were wobbling.

Then David returned and everything was good with the world once more. He inspires confidence. Positivity. Builds attacks. His distribution world class. His form has seen him rewarded a call up for Spain. If Christian deserves to win then I would say exactly the same about David. 

David Raya – his form has been season defining

Whilst Brentford have defied all the critics with our achievements this year, the vote comes down to a straight fight between Norgaard and Raya. The trophy can’t be cut in two. It needs to come down to the vote. You can get your chance here.

In the mean time, if it helps (or hinders) here’s the Southampton ‘starman debrief and current look at our own top five.

Good luck……..

Nick Bruzon

The dream is still on (although which one?)

8 May

Just when this season couldn’t get any more exciting, it delivers again. Brentford cruising to a 3-0 defeat of Southampton that sees us up to 43 points and chasing down tenth place. The dream is still on (although which particular dream depends on your viewpoint – let’s just say that there will be more than half an eye on our final two opponents this afternoon, with both Everton and Leeds United in action). For now though, it’s all about another fine win and another clean sheet.

Let’s be blunt. This felt as easy as they come. Brentford confident. Dominant. On the front foot and taking the game to their opponents from the off. West Ham levels of game management. Southampton unable to cope with wave after wave of red and white shirts. Alarm bells had been set ringing by Mathias Jensen before Pontus Jansson broke the deadlock on thirteen minutes. Ivan’s ball into the box steered home with one touch. The smiles broad. The celebrations huge. The crowd ecstatic. 

The smile on his face says it all

Still, if that set them off it was nothing compared to what happened a minute later. This time, Yoanne Wissa racing clear and lashing it home from the edge of the area. Advantage being played after Christian Eriksen had been taken out by two Southampton players. The trademark ‘W’ celebration delivered to the joy of all. He might have had another, too, but somehow conspired to shoot over when it seemed easier to score. Oh well. It made little difference as 2-0 at HT eventually finished 3-0. Kris Ajer weaving through the box for a wonderful finish through the legs of Fraser Forster. The celebrations from the crowd only beaten by those at full time.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages, as the regular reader will be aware. Whilst the player debrief will come later, for now it is a chance to enjoy a job well done. To see Thomas Frank not afraid to mix it up. The midfield conundrum posed in yesterday’s column answered not by Vitaly being replaced with Josh Dasilva but, rather, Mathias Jensen. The Dane unlucky not to score early on with a chance that, on TV, looked a lot harder than it had done in the cut and thrust of the live action arena. I do wonder if this was the ground being prepped for the Dasilva-Norgaard-Eriksen midfield trio that all supporters are so desperate to see start a game. Josh eventually making it on to the field and playing a key part in the build up to Ajer’s game sealing goal    

David Raya was solid as rock when needed. The one time he was beaten, offside and VAR cane to the rescue for Brentford. Southampton may feel hard done by but the decision was the correct one. The one chance to haul themselves back in to things snuffed out as quickly as it flickered in to view. Instead, Brentford had it under control in a game played out in a carnival atmosphere of singing and shouting. Not a mobile phone or light show in sight. Any Coldplay stylings deemed very much surplus to requirements.  

Six wins out of the last nine played for Brentford. Confidence booming and not even a green jacket required. Hey, a promise is a promise. Next up, the trip to Everton on Sunday. They travel to Leicester City this  afternoon and relegated Watford on Wednesday. Both fixtures key to their survival hopes. Especially with Leeds United also deep in the mire and making the visit to Champions League chasing Arsenal this afternoon before hosting Chelsea midweek. All four games will make compulsive viewing for more than one reason. By the time we’re back together again in a week, the shape of the table could see one or both clubs in even deeper trouble than they already are. Could see Brentford in position as the ones to administer a potentially fatal blow – should things go badly today and on Wednesday.

A campaign that has been about as exciting as any on record may still have more than a few twists in the tail. All that’s to come, of course. For now, let’s put our feet up and luxuriate in the warm afterglow of victory. A wonderful Saturday afternoon has set up an equally exciting last two games. 

I can’t wait  – see you there.

Fans of all ages celebrate Brentford’s third

Nick Bruzon

Vamos David Raya.

7 May

Three Premier League games to go. Brentford face Southampton this afternoon before next Sunday afternoon’s rearranged trip to Everton (the biggest stitch up since the Allies took the field in Escape To Victory) and then the season denouement at home to Leeds United. With Monday night’s defeat at Manchester United still niggling, a return to winning ways against The Saints would be marvellous for so many reasons.

I’m not gong to lie but the game at Old Trafford really irked me. Perhaps it was exhaustion after the huge trek there and back. Moreso, one undertaken after leaving a family weekend away early. That’s football though. The journey is part of it and, being fair, the travel element of this particular long haul was a heck of a lot more enjoyable than the usual.

Pre-match optimism at Old Trafford eventually turned to frustration

No, for me Clive it was a combination of many other factors. Our own out-of-sorts approach, if we are being honest. Sure, show some respect to Manchester United and there history (lord knows, there were enough reminders of former glories hanging around the tired looking stadium) but this much? Some bright spells aside, we were largely on the back foot. Largely playing too deep. Unable to make any real penetration and lacking some of the usual spark. Where were the Brentford who dominated West Ham, obliterated Chelsea or ran rings around Tottenham?

Then there was Cristiano Ronaldo. He is the ultimate in marmite players. The pace and technique – amazing. World class. The ultimate ball tied to foot with a piece of string. The physique  – just jaw dropping. How can somebody be that fit and that athletic at any age, let alone at a point when most professionals would have hung up their boots? Truly, a model professional in more ways than one. 

For all that good stuff, there’s the bullshit side. The petulance. The backchat. The theatrical waving of arms. The histrionics. The ‘injuries’ and miracle cures. The snideness – yes, Rico fouled him but the initial move to that event was arguably started by the Portuguese show pony. On Monday, we had it all by the bucketload. 

As for the supporters… talk about entitlement. Talk about a bunch of fans whose approach was to turn up, shut up, wave a scarf and expect to win because they were once any good. Even the scheduled ‘protest’ turned into as big a non-event as the Mrs. Brown’s Boys Xmas special once it became clear they were going to win the game.

United may be sixth in the Premier League but of all the away days undertaken this campaign, it was the grand, fanbase and team I’ve been left with the least respect for. Say what you want about Leeds United (and we will over the next two weeks, I am sure) nobody could deny the atmosphere at Elland Road was incredible. What a noise. What backing for their club. Oh, the irony that on that afternoon it was Brentford who fell apart and saw almost certain victory turn to a last gasp draw.

Elland Road – raucous

Anyway, long story short the game at Manchester United has left an unusually sour taste in the mouth. And I’m sorry for harping on but there you go. Oh to have Thomas Frank’s approach of 24 hours to dwell on any result then move on.

The plus side being that Southampton this afternoon sees a chance to get back on the horse. To make one last charge for the upper half of the table. To potentially end the day in tenth place if results go our way. Something that will have even more importance given we go to an Everton side desperate for points in eight day’s time….. 😉  

Imagine what another defensive nightmare at Everton might do to the league table…..

So, what do we think for today? Barcelona bound Sergi Canos (there’s not anybody actually believing that, is there? ) and Ethan Pinnock are 4th out still, although word from Thomas is that Everton is the hope for their return. Otherwise, with Ghoddos, Zanka and Frank the Tanks also injured, we’re the same sqaud as Monday. 

The obvious change is one to a traditional back four rather than three with wingbacks. We know how well that line up has worked against the right opposition in the last month or two and would give us that extra balance in midfield. More, given how deep Christian Norgaard found himself at Old Trafford – at times he looked like a fourth centre back. Then again, I said the same thing prior to the Chelsea game and look how that went? Thomas Frank remaining one step ahead of everyone and I am sure that will be the approach this afternoon.

Of probably more interest will be whether Josh Dasilva makes a start. He came off the bench against United and the prospect of seeing him and Christian Eriksen together for a prolonged period of time is now which has supporters’ drooling. Two of our most technically gifted players in the heart of the midfield could be a joy to behold. Who makes way being the real conundrum. Four in to three just won’t go and Vitaly, who makes up that quartet, would be very hard done by to miss out. A wonderful problem to have.

Southampton won’t just roll over, of course. Like the Bees, they are also on 40 points. They will be looking to end the season with a bang after hitting the buffers in recent weeks. April saw just one win from six games played. A period that included the 6-0 tanking administered by Chelsea. Something as unusual in not just the heaviness of the defeat but their becoming one of the few clubs not to put at least three goals past the Stamford Bridge outfit in a month that saw our own Bees start that colossal Chelsea haemorrhaging. 

Its all our fault. It all our fault….

Still, for me today is all about us. The opposition an almost byproduct of needing to win. Of wanting to win. Wanting to get back to the brilliant Brentford we’ve been spoiled so much with in recent weeks. Of course we haven’t got a divine right to just turn up and win. To expect victory on demand. That’s where we came in to this piece and that sort of approach (see also: fans who thing success equates to stadium capacity) sucks. Victory needs to be earned. Fans need to be loud. Players need to want it.

It doesn’t matter whether we face Southampton or Chelsea. Liverpool or Leeds. The approach needs to be the same. From everybody. The fans got their part spot on at Old Trafford. Here’s to the rest of the pieces in that puzzle falling in to place today.   

I can’t wait for this one. See you there.

Oh, and if anyone needs a new song this afternoon, what about something for our own man in nets?

How we’ve missed him at times this season.

How good to have him back and at his best.

Granted, this one starts off a little bit Dogtanian but what simpler refrain than channeling Righeira’s early 80’s Europe classic…

Vamos, David Raya. Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh….

If nothing else, certainly less of a mouthful than the Christian Eriksen song which I still can’t get right. I know of at least one West Stand observer keen to drive this one forward. Top, top plan.

And until then, here’s the Manchester United debrief…

Nick Bruzon

Post-match debrief and player review.

4 May

Manchester United 3 Brentford 0. They got the points. Well done. At least we had the vocal presence. Sadly, the push for a top ten place hit a bump at Old Trafford on Monday night although with three games to go, that’s still on with the next bite at the cherry against Southampton on Saturday.

As ever at this point we ask who was the star man For Brentford. Who shone as Manchester United did the business? Will Thomas have been impressed enough or make changes for Southampton? Who leads the race to be our season long top performers ?

The answers are here in the post match player review and debrief. .

Nick Bruzon