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Updates on and off the pitch plus the small matter of a Chelsea rematch.

19 Oct

Wednesday evening and Brentford welcome Chelsea to the Gtech for a 7.30pm kick off. A slightly unusual time although, for those of us living close to the ground, a more sociable one. Good luck to those coming from further afield or those Manchester United fans heading back to London after their own game with Spurs kicks off at 8.15pm tonight. The price fans pay for the broader carve up of TV football. Don’t even start about Christmas and New Year fixture times…. Yet for now, with the 2-0 defeat of Brighton still fresh in the memory, all focus is on another encounter with the team from Stamford Bridge. There can’t be anyone amongst us who could forget what happened the last time we met. Could a repeat be on the cards?

What an afternoon at Stamford Bridge

It’s unlikely, let’s be honest. Brentford were magnificent that afternoon and whilst fully deserving of our 4-1 win, that was then. This is now. Ownership and management have changed. Graham Potter has his team back in form with five wins and four clean sheets on the bounce, including a Champions League double over AC Milan. Incredible though that afternoon back in April was, and it was, a repeat scoreline is priced at 90/1 with the bookmakers. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, does it?

That’s not to say Brentford won’t fancy their chances. Ivan Toney is very much the man of the moment and the opening goal of his brace against Brighton is one of those that can’t be watched enough. Even our Harry had it on repeat over breakfast yesterday. The vision, skill and confidence to even take on that back heel, let alone pull it off, was something to behold. Next level brilliance. His second, from the penalty spot, oozing that unearthly calm with which we are all so familiar yet still end up baffled by a technique which has do far proved to be unstoppable for The Bees. 

Ivan did it again from the spot on Friday

The downside is our injury prognosis. Thankfully, the return of Ethan Pinnock has been timed to perfection. With Thomas Frank revealing yesterday that Pontus Jansson is out until after the World Cup, we’ll now be seeing that partnership with Ben Mee given a chance to flourish. Also absent for the same period will be Aaron Hickey. He missed the Brighton game and is now out for a similar period to his captain after suffering ligament damage following a twisted ankle. The plus side is the ability of Kris Ajer and Mads Roerslev to fill in – depending on whether we play two or three centre backs – but there can be no doubting the loss that Aaron will be. A player who had very much hit the Premier League ground running and was making early inroads into the season long campaign to find our own star player for the season.

With reserve goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha also out for a few months (if I recall correctly he injured an ankle saving a Kris Ajer penalty in training, but don’t @ me if my memory is playing up) then we’re definitely looking a little thinner. It goes without saying Thomas won’t want Neil Greig knocking on his door any time soon although the plus-side being that at least Christian Norgaard has been pictured in training once more.

Out on the grass and being match fit are two toady different things but there’s no doubting the boost that seeing last years player of the season has brought to fans.  

Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of this soon

As long as we don’t suffer any further fitness blows then Thomas Frank still has enough about his squad to give anybody a match. Something Brighton discovered on Friday night where despite dominating the possession stats, the Seagulls were clinically despatched in a manner that gave huge encouragement. But for the woodwork, Bryan Mbeumo might also have had a wonder goal added to his tally. Plus ca change. It’s 2021/22 all over again. 

For all we’re revelling in the memory of that 4-1, a more pertinent indication of the Chelsea danger would be the 1-0 defeat inflicted earlier that season. Édouard Mendy in nets was simply incredible for the visitors that night, keeping his team alive during a backs to the wall second-half from the battling Bees. A point was the least our performance suggested but as we always say, deserved to gets you nothing. Stats and possession are worth naff all (just ask Brighton). Balls in the back of the net are the only thing that count. If anybody has a point to prove it won’t be Chelsea. It will be Brentford.

 I can’t wait to discover which way this one will play out. Roll on, err 7.30pm. Bring it on and see you there.

In the meantime, please do take a look at the Brighton post match debrief and our current star player review. You can find that here. Thank you .   

Finally, and its a bit awkward talking about myself, I’ve been approached by so many supporters this season asking about these pages – namely the fact that they have all but gone to sleep – and the programme articles. Specifically asking why have they both stopped?

Being honest, I love talking and writing about Brentford. Likewise the enjoyment it seems to bring and the kinds words are always appreciated more than anybody could imagine. Equally though, life is just SO busy at the moment and there’s only so much one can blog about orange balls in the snow and the correct use of brackets after a 7(seven) goal trashing or berate Mrs Browns, boys, The England ‘supporters’ ‘band’, people drinking ‘espresso’ (it’s a blinkin’ S, not x), Star Wars Day etc etc etc 

Why? Why? Put them in a car park and let them sort it out rather than bother us

Mainly though, I don’t have the time and last season saw the blog, two programme articles and a piece for Hollywood Bets competing equally for time and attention. So the decision was made to cut back on these pages and focus on the Star player pieces, which are always good fun to write and have seen the two different columns slowly merging. We still may post the other stuff up here but it will be a lot, lot less for now.

As for the programme pieces, ask the club. I’ve no idea. Having done these for years and years for nothing more than enjoyment, there was no out reach from them over the summer. Dropped like Alvaro Fernandez reaching for a cross or simply the fact that we’re a Premier League club now who employ professionals rather than rely on the good intent of plucky amateurs and want a fresh approach? Who knows? It was fun whilst it lasted and very much an opportunity I’m grateful for. Thank you.

Good luck to the team there producing what is always a wonderful read. Tonight’s issue is no exception with the club using it to promote life saving CPR skills. We’ll have a heart-shaped ‘CPQR code’ on the over and our shirts – a gesture as wonderful as naming our training centre after Rob Rowan. Something that has been met with universal acclaim amongst the Bees faithful.

Yet or those wondering if I’m in it still then the answer is, sadly (as much given the circumstances) a no. Like I say, I hate talking about myself but given I’m currently being asked about this by lots of our fans, thought it best to save you the effort. That said, if anyone wants to talk Brentford then go for it. I’m the one in green jacket.

Nick Bruzon 

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Brentford v Brighton. Post match debrief and player ratings.

16 Oct

Last time out Brentford fans were left wondering if Friday night’s game with Brighton would see a reaction following the 5-1 reverse at Newcastle United. It was a question answered in some style as a rejigged team ran out 2-0 victors . With Chelsea next up on Wednesday night, can The Bees kick on or will our guests have payback in mind after our previous meeting?

View from the North Stand – Ivan walks up to the spot. Again…

For now, though, time to look back. On a night that ended with Brentford sitting eighth in the Premier League, who shone against a Brighton team which dominated the possession stats but not the score line? Have any of our bench players done sufficient to make the starting XI for the Chelsea game? Who was star player? Who else made the top five in the season long quest to find the top Bees’ performer? 

And as ever at this juncture, the answers can be found, here, in the post match debrief and player ratings feature…..

Who were the top five performers last time out?

28 Dec

Next up for Brentford (that is, what’s left of the squad) a visit from Manchester City. We’ll get there very shortly. First up, as ever, last knockings from the 2-0 defeat at Brighton. It’s the regular player review feature. Our ongoing quest to see, game by game, who were the top five performers aswell as who is on contention to be come our season-long overall winner.

Has anyone from the Brentford squad played their way into contention for the visit of Manchester City? Should any player be stripped of their place, regardless of current levels of squad depth? Do we have a prayer on Wednesday? Could we pull off the greatest upset since records bagged (31/2 is the current price)?

Those Brentford player ratings are here…. I’d say enjoy, but…

Nick Bruzon

Do this again and the next game will be brutal. The next game will be brackets.

27 Dec

Is there a way to dress that up? Can Brentford take any consolation in the no show at Brighton (sadly, we don’t mean the home fans). What next for the visit of Manchester City on Wednesday evening? With Pep Guardiola’s team bracketing Leeds United the other week and then falling one short of the magical 7(seven) against Leicester City themselves, that one has all the potential to be a turkey shoot if the Bees don’t find whatever was missing at the Amex. Starting a game without Vitaly Janely (covid) and Rico Henry (hamstring) was always going to be tough. Moreso, given the longer term injuries felt by David Raya and Kris Ajer. Yet, yet, yet surely we could have offered something, anything, more than a first half so laid back as to be practically horizontal. Beautifully taken first-half goals by Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay (of course, although kudos to the man for his own reaction and post-match comments) were the least Brighton deserved but by the time Brentford got their arse into gear, it was too little too late.

Neal. Class, as ever

There are no words to really describe how frustrating this one was. Bryan Mbeumo limped off with little more than a half hour gone whilst Matthias Jensen was pulled off with the tea cups still being thrown around the dressing room at half-time. The makeshift defence having twice held open the door for Brighton to seize the initiative and put this one beyond reached after the initial threat that Brentford had been hinting at disappeared into the ether. By the time we rediscovered our mojo in the second half, the game had already been put to bed. Robert Sánchez in goal for the Seagulls preserving their dignity when Baptiste and Pinnock got the ball goalwards.

Having now caught up on the highlights, it feels even more deflating than seeing it at the time.

The legs, as much as the door, held open for the second goal

Perhaps we have been spoiled this season. Perhaps it is as much the fact that, at times, we’ve made the step up to the Premier League look easy. Perhaps games like this – whether outclassed or just not showing up – were always going to happen. Likewise, there is the dreaded Covid factor to factor in. An added element of pot luck to chuck into the mix of trying to prepare for big games with key names already absent. 

I’m certainly not in the doom and gloom camp – anything but. Prior to this we’d had two wins, two draws and a solitary defeat in our previous five league games. It could, probably, should have been three wins but for the 95th moment up at Leeds United. The only performance of real concern being that one at Spurs. This ranked alongside it. Alongside Burnley away. Signs as much has anything else that the Premier League is just so, so tough. Play slightly below your best and watch that gulf in class unfold into a gaping chasm.

We don’t generally do match reports on these pages. Not huge ones, anyway. Besides, we’ve all seen the game – whether at the Amex of c/o our friends at Sky. Thanks a bunch, again. Instead of regurgitating what we all know (albeit the player feature will be up later) , it is as much about where we go from here. Manchester City, Aston Villa and Liverpool (a) are next up in the league. Assuming, of course, Covid doesn’t do its thing in either camp. They’re going to be as tough a set if fixtures as they come. One could almost argue they are games with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Moreso given we know that Christian Norgaard will also be on the casualty list for the City game, given his (soft) yellow card now takes him to five and a mandatory one game ban. 

Certainly, there’s a chance for a midfield bereft of him and Vitaly to either crank it up a notch or be brutally exposed. Given the current popularity and wayward form of his Danish international team mate, one can guess which way supporter feeling will be leaning. 

The pace of Rico Henry was another crucial dimension to our game missing last night. Here’s hoping his stint on the sidelines is as short as possible albeit hamstring injuries don’t, as a rule, cure themselves overnight. On the plus side, Shandon Baptiste is really adjusting to this level well and looking more and more exciting with each game. Had Sanchez not been equal to his effort early in the second half we could well have been sitting here in a different frame of mind today. But we aren’t. That’s not how football works.

So close – Brentford ‘official’ capture the moment on their Twitter feed

Crying over being below par won’t help us recover. It certainly won’t help us against Manchester City on Wednesday. Just about the toughest job in football – stopping pep Guardiola – will only become ten times harder if we aren’t all fully on it.

So, yes, it was a terrible performance. No question. It shouldn’t take that long to get out of first gear – at any level. But it is the Premier league and the game is now over. We put it to bed, file it under b and move on.

Here’s to Wednesday. Here’s to some good news on the health front. Here’s to Manchester City. Here’s to emulating one of my all time favourite football moments. Perhaps…… See you there.

The quintessential Brentford FA Cup image

Nick Bruzon 

All you need are two pints, the internet and a credit card. Can anyone swap Osca for Tracy?

24 Dec

Christmas Eve 2021. Mayhem and chaos run amok outside. Boris has just been on the radio telling people that the best gift you can give this year is the booster jab. F the f off you f’ing f and then f off some more with your patronising bullsh*t. Besides, we all know that the best gift would be the Brentford Adidas 80-81 home shirt, although the chances of finding one of those are about as slim as, well, no analogy needed. Please note: we would also accept the Osca 1983 shirt in any size beyond ‘spray on’. Or perhaps just Terry Hurlock’s phone number. Yet with football on pause until the festive pile up of Brighton, Manchester City and Aston Villa (we hope…..) let’s take stock.

They must be out there, somewhere? I’m too scared to approach Terry Hurlock though

The chance of being able to afford any football kit for the foreseeable has long gone. Primarily because the spare change has been spent on Christmas presents. And stupidity. Thankfully, Brentford have chosen to roll the current home shirt into next season and so that’s a few quid in the back pocket already. Although looking through the Umbro back catalogue for next week’s Manchester City programme, here’s hoping Kitman Bob has taken note of their previous templates when selecting our away / third kits for 2022. My word, they’re just stunning. Umbro rather than Manchester City. Although also Manchester City.  

The stupidity, I can only lay at my own doorstep. It’s long been said that the internet or, at least, mobile phones should come with a built in breathalyser. Some sort of sign to warn: You are too dumb to use this device safely.  Don’t send that text message. Don’t make that call. Don’t visit that online auction website. If you aren’t safe to drive you certainly aren’t safe to use anything that may commit you to flashing the plastic at a later, more sober, date. It all sounds so obvious, in hindsight. In the cold light of day.

Yet an early December evening spent in The Griffin, a very heavily Guinness infused evening, talking football, shirts and other such Brentford related nostalgia ended up with a wobble home and yours truly noodling around the darker recesses of the internet. Not like that.

Instead, it was the usual search around the various shirt sites in case one of the aforementioned holy grails had turned up. It hadn’t, of course. It never does. But, if nothing else, the more generic auction rooms sometimes have shirt related curios. And other things too.

Oh dear. Other things. The combination of a cyber-space wormhole and alcohol fuelled Christmas nostalgia meant that once the search for shirts proved fruitile (a combination of fruitless and futile) it would seem I just carried on looking. As you do. Until apparently bidding on a few other items. And I say apparently because this part was promptly forgotten about until an emailed invoice arrived at the end of last week, confirming that one of my bids had been successful. 

Crap. What bid? Where? When? Checks invoice. Ah, that bid. Yes, it all came flooding back. And there was no ebay style ‘just ignore it’ option available, given they already had my card detail hard coded in.

There was no choice. The contract had to be honoured. Payment was made. The only saving grace being that with the auction house just down the road from the in-laws, at least they were able to pick it all up rather than add crippling postage to the already brutal ‘hammer fees’. 

And so yesterday, it arrived. Or should I say, they arrived. Boxes of random toys. James Bond cars. Thunderbirds spacecraft and the year’s most in demand, must have Christmas gift. That is, if the year was 1993. Groan. Tracy Island, anyone? 

So if anybody fancies swapping Tracy for Osca, I’ll be in the Griffin for the Christmas Day pint tomorrow. Probably paid for from the pennies pot. And definitely not going online afterwards.

Have a great day, stay safe, enjoy Brighton and remember…..don’t drink and bid.

Nick Bruzon

Very much a case of lesson learned.

12 Sep

And there you go. Felled by the ultimate sucker punch. Brentford dominant but failing to capitalise on the plethora of half-chances, first half especially, that we created. Brighton offering little beyond stoic resistance, one wasted opportunity from Danny Wellbeck and a level of shithousery that looked as though they’d cloned Neal. Then, in the 90th minute, one moment of brilliance from Leandro Trossard. The Seagull opening up the Brentford defence like a can of sardines, Jensen watching and Pontus unable to connect with a lunging challenge as the visiting player curled a beauty past David Raya from the edge of the box and broke Brentford hearts. 1-0 Brighton. No complaints at all after a first defeat for the Bees. Very much a case of lesson learned about taking the chance when it comes. Winning games is about balls in the back of the net rather than deserving to win. Next up Wolves. Then Liverpool. Nobody said it would be easy.

Shithousery and unchallenged falling over was the order of the day

Ok. The game. With Onyeka and Ghoddos both fit, the only change was Baptiste leapfrogging the pair of them to start in midfield. Kudos to Thomas Frank for this call. I thought Shandon was wonderful. Driving the team forward and spreading the ball out. A gutsy call to start him after so long out but a great one. The downside here being he visibly wilted later in the second half. Understandable, and not a dig at a player who had a great game, but we were saying in the stands that he needed to be switched out. It came ten minutes too late. That, combined with the addition of Jensen, rather than the flair of Wissa put the Bees on the backfoot and let our visitors back into a game they would eventually snatch. A most unThomas like tactic of settling for the draw rather than going for the win. 

Had it ended 0-0 we’d have been happy. It could have ended with a win had we been a tad more fortune in front of goal. Ivan Toney with a quite delightful first half effort from 40 yards . A dinked chip that had no right to stay so flat from that distance floated agonisingly over the crossbar with goalkeeper Sánchez well off his line. It was an ‘if only’ moment to match his hitting the underside of the bar at Wembley and would have been a goal to rival his finish from the Janelt sky ball at Forest.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. But early on and with Brentford bossing the play, as much as the ref and opposition would allow them, chances came. Bryan moving in to the top forward position and finding himself with four opportunities of varying degrees. There’s one he might feel in retrospect he should have put away but at least the chances are coming. On another day we’d have been two or three up at half-time and romped it. That’s not how football works. Brighton managed the game quite magnificently from their perspective and made no mistake at the death when the door opened an inch. There was Trossard to boot it wide open and hoover up all three points. 

In the end, a frustrating afternoon of coming so close. Brighton, as stingy in defence as we had gone into this game expecting. No inch offered. No quarter given. No goal scored. Brentford pressing but without that moment of good fortune or game changing genius to break them down. An early yellow card for Sergi put him on high alert and his ultimate removal from the field of play by Thomas probably no bad thing, on this day. 

We can’t look back at this now without mentioning referee Graham Scott. Cripes, Graham Norton would have done a better job out in the middle and he’s a comedian. Mind you, so is Scott on that showing. The Albion players going down as easily as a sack of floor magnets (Harry’s choice of phrase and he’s only 8). Bournemouth levels of game spoilery. Yet instead of a Begovic meltdown and a Mepham red card we had an impotent referee and an opposition who played their game to perfection. Maupay at the end showing this to the fore, playing Ivan like a fiddle as we attempted to restart. 

No complaints about that either, by the way. We loved this attitude when he was at Griffin Park. A leopard won’t change his spots and we knew to expect it. What came as more of a surprise was this approach running through the whole of Graham Potter’s team and the ref’s blind eye to the whole thing.

Perhaps it’s the Premier League. Perhaps we need to be more cynical. More shrewd. Play to the letter of the rules rather than the spirit of the game. Collapse like a felled domino to slow down the clock and disrupt the flow. Let’s not forget, either, that this was a third win out of four for Brighton. They’ve had a great start and this is why. Solid, solid work.

Still, no point crying over spilt milk. It was as devastating as it comes when the game ended yesterday. To run it so close and fall down on the line. For Brentford to look so promising but come away with nothing. It was hard but at least we remained competitive. 

Tough to take at full time

One thing’s for sure, if anybody was under any doubt as to how hard it’s going to be getting results at this level then perhaps this was the reality check we needed. Congratulations, Brighton. For Brentford, back to finishing school before the game with Wolves. After that, we’ve got Liverpool at Lionel Road. Anything less than 110% focus in our first game with a team of genuine title contenders (sorry Arsenal, but…) and it could be brutal. Get it right and it could be the stuff of legends. 

We can’t change the disappointment but we can use all the positives. Now bring on Saturday. Bring on Wolves.  

Nick Bruzon  

Time to do another Arsenal? Or will a returning hero ruin the party?

11 Sep

Saturday and the Premier League is back. Brentford host Brighton in our second top flight fixture at Lionel Road following the game with Arsenal. As if anybody needed any further reminder about that one. A 2-0 home win that saw us hit the dizzy heights of first place and sent Mikel Arteta’s team to the bottom of the table. A place they still occupy with a total of no points and no goals. For the Bees, unbeaten and a record of WDD is a wonderful start with the opportunity to try and kick on again today. With Wolves (a) and then Liverpool (h) next up For Brentford in the league, nobody could deny the intensity of games or ongoing calibre of opposition at this level. Even Arsenal. Still, that was then and this is now. Brighton are coming and with them, of course, one particular name. One particular man. One Neal Maupay.

Maupay – a work of art

Shithousery. That’s the word (I’m assuming the editor has resisted the temptation to include it in the ‘family-friendly’ programme article today – although if you want to find out its available around the ground for the price of £4) . The undisputed master of this dark art. And we loved him for it. Absolutely loved him. The goalscoring wasn’t bad either. Ruining Fulham’s promotion push at the last minute or just ruining Leeds United. The pint sized magician was as skilled with the ball at his feet as he was with his studs on the opposition. He swore he’d stay. We were distraught when he left. We’ve all moved on. Now, we have a chance to offer a welcome back and then see how both he, and Brighton, have progressed.

Leeds United. Ruined. Many, many times

I have to say I’m excited going in to this one. Plus ça change. Table wise, Brighton have finished bottom quarter in the four seasons since we parted ways in the Championship and they hit the top flight. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that makes them (relatively) ‘easier’ opposition. Just to maintain this level is a feat in itself whilst, as the preview on ‘official’ notes in 2020/21 “Graham Potter’s side played far better than their results suggested last term. On expected goals, Albion finished fifth, with 20 points more than they actually earned, and with the third meanest defence in the division”.

Whilst the table doesn’t lie, performance needs to be noted. If nothing else, they currently sit above the Bees having already picked up six points. The one blot on the copy book coming at home to Everton last time out.    

For Brentford, everybody is fit barring long term injuries Mads Bech and Josh Dasilva. Our squad has been bolstered by the signing of Danish International Mathias Jørgensen, aka ‘Zanka’. He’ll be filling the Winston Reid role of emergency centre back and comes in as cover for Mads on a one year contract. With a wealth (is there any other sort? Gamut, perhaps) of experience, including Euro 2020 and World Cup 2018 he sounds like a shrewd acquisition. One can only presume bench, at best, today. The key question being whether Frank Onyekareturns in midfield or will be left…waiting for Ghoddos to lose his place. Sorry. Apologies. I’ve finally done it. But given Saman has been with us since September 2020, that’s not bad going.  

With that Portuguese chap set to debut for Manchester United today, it’s a safe bet we won’t be first up on Match Of The Day this evening. To be fair, the only thing stoping us being ninth in the running order is the fact there are only eight games taking place this afternoon. Fair enough. Reputations need to be earned. Praise not just handed out for the sake of it. With ghoulish fascination about the fate of Arsenal aswell as Spurs being handed the opportunity to stride further clear at the top, it doesn’t take a genius to pick the setlist. That’s football. 

Yet this afternoon’s game has all the hallmarks of a really close fought battle. A hotly contested encounter which will be played out in front of a full house. The raucous crowd sure to lift the players as they have done in the previous three games.  Hey, get it right and Gary Lineker may even have us on his couch before Watford – Wolves. 

I can’t wait. For the game (I’ll be asleep by the time MOTD comes around). Roll on 3pm.

See you there. And don’t forget your Covid pass…..

Full time against Arsenal – more of the same would be incredible….l

Nick Bruzon

Happy birthday to my good friend. He only went and did it…

15 Aug

Narcissistic? Hypocrite? ‘Edgy’ journalist with a ‘hilarious’ ‘thing’ ? Amazing and just misunderstood? Whatever your take on Ian Moose, and his perpetual wishing of ‘happy birthday to my good friend’ (accompanied by a photo of him and his, apparent, football friend), yesterday took the biscuit. Even by the barrel scraping standards usually employed by the Talk Sport broadcaster. 

We all know what Mr. Moose said about Neal Maupay at Brentford. How he subsequently tried to ingratiate himself with the club top brass to wangle a self-promotional trip to the training ground. How Neal shoved those comments back down his throat, much like a half-time pie (obsessing about those being his other ‘hilarious’ ‘thing’) by banging in goals for fun and securing a reported £20m move to Premiership Brighton. So yesterday, on the occasion of Neal’s birthday, surely he wouldn’t? Surely? He did….

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Suffice to say that the one photo he could rustle up of Neal hardly had the mercurial frontman looking as though he was in the company of somebody he’d consider a ‘good friend.’ The look on his face was more one of somebody who realised they’d accidentally walked into a recording of Mrs. Browns Boys and turned around to discover the studio doors had been locked.

And on that note, why are these photos never taken in the sort of environment one would associate with two good friends spending time together? A pub, restaurant, discotheque or even just watching the football? It’s slightly odd that all his friends seem to hang out in press interviews.

Look. We all know it’s his attention grabbing thing. Yes? A desperate attempt at self-promotion. Yes? And I’ve bitten at his successfully deployed fishing-rod emoji. Now Neal has swapped Brentford for Brighton and the top flight he’s an infinitely more valuable commodity. But we’ll never forget what was said before. As the comments to the birthday message (twitter link below) more than indicate. 

Well worth a look if you are bored today. And, for the record, I believe the corresponding date is 24th October for all you well wishers and good friends out there.

Nick Bruzon

Seagulls follow the trawler and end up with more than sardines. Au revoir, Neal.

5 Aug

There was an almost inevitable end to Monday with the news finally announced that Neal Maupay has left Brentford. His non-appearance over most of the summer, followed by his absence from the squad at the weekend, left the writing somewhat on the wall and now it has been confirmed. The Premier league is the destination. Brighton and Hove Albion the choice, in a deal reported as being worth £20m. At least it wasn’t Dean Smith and Aston Villa although until that window slams shut on Thursday, one can only envisage Said Benrahma continuing to be linked with a move to the Midlands. On the plus side, we have not one but two news signings. Midfielder Dru Yearwood makes the switch from Southend United whilst French youth international attacker Bryan Mbeumo joins from Espérance Sportive Troyes Aube Champagne.  Or Troyes AC, as ‘official’ helpfully confirmed they are better known.

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I feel for Dru and Bryan. Both look like more shrewd acquisitions from Matthew and the Directors of football. Southend and Troyes’ loss, very much our gain given how well our acquisitions over the last few years have turned out. Yet all anybody is talking about today is Brighton and Neal.

Oh, how we loved him. The shithousery – there’s no other word for it. The speed. The work rate. The aerial prowess from one so small. The goals. The balls. Oh my, the size of those balls. What a way to celebrate not once but twice against Leeds United. Both times, right in the faces of their rabid support. 

And that equaliser at Fulham wasn’t bad either. ‘Limbs’ as I believe the kids call it. What a moment. What a celebration. What a photo from Mark Fuller. What a way to seal your place in club legend. To ensure that whatever came next (what stamp at Aston Villa ?) could never tarnish your reputation. Would only make you even more universally loved.

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What balls

Yet it was a love that seemed to go both ways. Talk to Neal and he would only enthuse about all things Griffin Park. Promises were made at the end of last season about his return for this one. Sadly, now, things have moved on somewhat. Money talks but so do agents, it would seem.

And whilst that may be bleedin’ obvious, the Twitter thread published on Monday night by the GPG makes for very interesting reading as to how this all played out. About how things have changed as this marriage made in footballing heaven between player and club has ended in the Bees being jilted for the Seagulls.

Do read the thread. In full. It starts below and makes for a fascinating insight as to what went on with this one. There’s no animosity towards player, Brentford or Brighton – for what it’s worth. But, as has been noted part way through, “ In this day of low morals in football these days – I’m glad that we demonstrated that we are a decent club with manners. The fact that we have done right by the player demonstrates to future signings that we provide a potential route to PL, it keeps us in business of course. 

There’s not much else to say at this point. There’s a genuine feeling of good luck to Neal, from me. Of course I’m absolutely gutted to see him go. No question. I was itching to see him stay put for one more season. To guide us to the top flight. Now that responsibility rests elsewhere.

In my heart of hearts I really did think he might stay until January. Mind you, I think the same about Said and Ollie. At least the latter started on Saturday and looked formidable during that opening salvo. I’m sure Dean Smith is opening the Aston Villa cheque book we speak but I’m also, perhaps naively, thinking this really is it . 

We’ve sold Ezri. We’ve sold Romaine. Of course we’ve sold Neal. We’ve also invested very wisely with the likes of Jansson, Jensen, Pinnock and Norgaard now joined by Blackwood and Mbeumo. Keep Benrahma and Watkins amongst their ranks and we will remain more than a force to be reckoned with.

Sell either/or and, you know what, there’ll be no meltdown from me. As with Neal this evening,  I would be gutted with further departures. Yet our DOFs and Matthew Benham have shown us time and again that they are three steps ahead of everybody else when it comes to doing the business.

I really didn’t think it could get any more depressing than selling Jota and Maxime to Birmingham City (and Harlee makes three) but we survived. We got stronger despite the crushing blow of seeing our hero put out to pasture. That trust is there and I cannot wait to see how the next chapter in the Brentford story plays out.

Until then, we’ll always have Fulham.

6F4460FC-5DC2-4259-9467-864C4A9FFE16

What a moment. Thank you, Neal

Nick Bruzon

KK bids farewell (for now). But is it the right decision?

29 Jun

This is the moment for the Austrian. And what a moment it is.” Not my words but those enthused by Beesplayer commentator par excellence Mark Burridge to describe the goal scored by Konstantin Kerschbaumer as Brentford retook the lead deep into injury time against Brighton back in February. It was a strike worthy of the shortlist for goal of the season yet it was announced yesterday that the Austrian is off on loan to Germany where he will spend 2017/18 with DSC Arminia Bielefeld.

kk-post-goal-v-brighton

KK is in there, somewhere, celebrating a ‘winner ‘ against Brighton

The immediate question is why? Specifically, why has this happened and why wasn’t he ever given a decent run in the side? That Brighton goal was the obvious cherry on the cake of two years at Griffin Park and it’s been no secret on these pages that he’s been a player yours truly would have given much more game time. The interplay between himself and Scott Hogan at the end of Dean Smith’s first season suggested such huge potential yet despite plenty of patchy performances from his team mates, he’s never been given a proper crack of the whip.

Then again, Dean Smith is head coach for a reason and I’m just the numpty on the terrace. He was quoted on ‘official’ yesterday as saying, “With the quality we have in the squad, we cannot guarantee game time for anyone”. Presumably, unless your name is Nico? Or Ryan? Or Romaine? Or Josh (subject to injury)? That’s meant as no disrespect to any of these players but more to make the point that a settled and pretty much guaranteed midfield is something Dean has set out to build. As such, it seemed a somewhat contradictory statement.

KK rightly deserving of a place in this pantheon of net busting brilliance

 

Stats. Is there a scarier, more mis-construed word in the Griffin Park vocabulary? The journalistic zombie that Matthew Benham just can’t kill? Well, I’m going to play the stats game here with a few.

First up – this from our own Luis Melville back in April. If anybody can nail a killer stat it’s Luis. This one is very simple but very to the point.

It’s interesting to see Luis responding to Ted Knutson (who was of course hugely involved in Player Analytics at Smartodds). For our second piece of statistical reference, a piece written by Ted in May 2017 says more about the player then these pages could ever hope to do. For me, his key statistical point being:

2320 minutes, 1 goal, 12 assists.

That’s an assist rate of about .47 per 90, which is in the top 3% of footballers. Kersch also doesn’t take set pieces, meaning nearly all of his assists come from open play. To give you an idea of how unusual this is, in the last four seasons in the Championship nine players have posted 12 assists or more, all with more minutes and nearly all of them taking set pieces.”

There’s so much more to Ted’s column than just that stat. For those doubting what Konstantin added, please do have a read. If nothing else, it gives a fascinating insight into the Brentford recruitment process. At the same time, take a positive from the fact that, officially, the player is going out to Germany to get game time under his belt. With a Jota style additional year added to his contract (see also: Jack Bonham and Carlisle), could he return even bigger and better than ever before? Here’s hoping.

Whether you would pick KK or not (and one thing I’d agree with Dean on is that the squad has midfield quality) the simple fact is that the head coach has never seen fit to give a player he inherited an extended run. Personally, I disagree but that’s football. Dean and his team must have known the statistical evidence so perhaps there is something more to it than that.

Who knows why and who knows where we’ll all be in 12 months time? I, for one, could quite honestly never ever see Jota coming back after heading out to Eibar on loan. Nobody needs any reminder of just how wonderfully that played out.

Could the same thing happen again? Just imagine….

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon