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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.

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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.

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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

If Sunday was brilliant (and it was) Tom’s tweet was anything but

7 Feb

We’ve spoken about the good stuff from the weekend already . Brentford were desperately unlucky not to take all three points at home to Brighton in a performance that gave huge cause for optimism. Six goals and four points since the day Scott Hogan was sold to Aston Villa, Jota destroying all comers on the right, Sergi Canos back in the team and Harlee Dean looking as though he could go on and play for England, such has been the enormity of his performances as part of a reintroduced back four. Dean Smith has finally shuffled his pack and the result has been some mouth watering football.

This is all good, very good. A fourth season in the Championship awaits and our sights must now be on a top ten finish. All this, of course, before the likes of Alan Judge, Rico Henry and the returning Lewis Macleod have even set foot in the team.

Yet one thing is still bugging me from the Brighton game. A post match tweet from Tom Field that really took the sparkle off a near perfect performance for Brentford (the final twelve seconds aside) .

Ordinarily these things contain such anodyne statements as ‘unlucky out there today’ , ‘apologies to those who travelled’ or the dreaded ‘we go again’. And that’s when we lose. Victory is the cue for outpourings of positivity from players and supporters alike. Heroic performances, such as on Sunday, likewise. So what on earth prompted this?

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How could anybody come out of Griffin Park and give abuse to one of our own players?  A player who has been nothing but incredible from his home debut, chucked into the lion’s den of a West London derby at home to Fulham. A West London derby in which he kept a clean sheet and was instrumental in two of the three goals Brentford scored.

Tom has barely put a foot wrong since that moment and has made the left back position his own this season, despite his tender years. He’s a player who, if we’re being honest, not many people had even heard of when he was thrust from the youth team to the first team name for that 11th hour debut.

Tom Field

Academy graduate Tom Field made a wonderful debut against Fulham

Keeping Anthony Knockaert in his back pocket was no mean feat at the weekend, either. Tom really has been one of the bright lights in a season that, if we’re being equally honest, has been a somewhat up and down one for the Bees.

Players have off days. They don’t get abused. Yet Tom had a great game on Sunday. They all did. So what on earth would cause a handful of numpties to decide this was an appropriate means of marking a wonderful performance by Brentford? What amount of prematch WKD blue consumption could legislate for slagging off one of your own players after this incredible game? Were they just Brighton fans in disguise?

Whatever the reason, I really hope these morons have had a long hard look at themselves since. And yes – if this is a bit patronising then so what. Frankly, Tom deserves better from our fans. Much, much better. Thankfully, just about everybody else is in agreement . Replies to ‘that tweet’ have been unanimous in their opinion and support.

I’m hoping Tom realises this and appreciates just how much the fans are loving what he does out there. We all have a moan from time to time. Whether about certain players , the manager, the directors of football, stats etc. I’m surprised Rasmus doesn’t bring an umbrella to games (when he is here) such are the voluminous amount of comments aimed in his direction at times.

That’s part of football and is often justified. But not this time. It was something as bizarre as it was incorrect .

Tom, if you are reading, just know that everybody at Griffin Park has your back. Keep up the great work. Keep on doing what you do. Keep on accelerating your growth as you are and, surely, one day it won’t just be Harlee we might see in an England shirt.

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Nick Bruzon

Brilliant Bees have their chips stolen by Seagulls. But what a game and what a goal!

5 Feb

Is it wrong to walk out of that game feeling totally crushed? If ever there was a rollercoaster ride of footballing emotion then here it was as Brighton left Griffin Park with a point that looked anything but expected for huge periods of this game. That it ended 3-3 was beyond most people’s comprehension with the clock showing 94 minutes played and the score at 2-2.

Anybody who wasn’t here missed one of the games of the season. Anybody who wasn’t here missed one of THE goals of the season as Konstantin Kerschbaumer’s late strike sent tidal waves of delirium cascading over Griffin Park with the Bees retaking a lead they’d held for all but the final 12 minutes of the game. It was a lead we held until all but the final 12 seconds of the game as Brighton broke Brentford hearts to snatch a late, late equaliser.

If you were there then you know what happened. If you weren’t then there’s the BBC, Brentford official, Beesotted etc. You all know the drill by now. We don’t do in-depth match reports here. I’ll leave that to the likes of Billy – Reeves and/or Grant. That said, whether you were or weren’t then do check out the highlights, which Sky TV have already put up on their website.

With barely twenty minute gone, the Bees had raced into a two goal lead. The first a back heel from Jota that was as delicious as a half time cup of Bovril. The second, a powerful header from Harlee Dean.

Reminiscent of Terry Evans” was the verdict for one terrace wag whilst discussing the opening period on the forecourt over a well deserved cup of the aforementioned meat extract drink. And yes, it was. Yet Big Tel wouldn’t have driven forward so purposefully for so long. With a two man central defence restored, Harlee has looked even bigger and better than before. Even charging forward on breakaway runs whilst leaving Ryan Woods to cover. He’s been magnificent.

The second half could have seen it all wrapped up. Another blitzkrieg raid from Jota saw a penalty earned. Lasse Vibe stepped up, only to see the diving Stockdale in the Brighton goal somehow get a hand to it and send the ball looping over the Ealing Road in a trajectory not seen on a dead ball since Miguel Llera lined up for the Bees.

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Jota all of a blur as he shredded Brighton

No matter, this one was still in the bag. Surely? Brentford had been simply magnificent up until this point. Whilst the penalty had, somehow, been saved another goal was only a matter of time. And sure enough, it came. To Brighton.

What? This wasn’t in the script. Moreso, when it was followed three minutes later by another. Shane Duffy (who I could have sworn was part of popular music’s Boyzone) headed home for 2-2.  Noooo. How could this happen? We should be 3-0 up. not pegged back to 2-2. Not on the ropes and reeling as only poor finishing and Daniel Bentley’s point blank save stopped the Seagulls from stealing all three points as though they were a tourist’s chips.

And then, it happened. With 7(seven) minutes on the board, most of those had elapsed when KK picked up a through ball from Alan McCormack just inside the Brighton half.

I repeat: KK picked up a through ball from Alan McCormack. Oh, how these two have been conspicuous by their absence yet coming off the bench they showed Dean Smith just what he had been missing out on all these months.

Like Forrest Gump (except quality entertainment) he ran. And ran. An exchange of passes with Lasse Vibe just outside the Brighton box was met with a crushing drive, low into the bottom corner past the despairing Stockdale.

Yeeeeessssssssss! The net rippled, there was the briefest of silences as we all registered what happened and then Griffin Park exploded. 9000 voices erupting as one in an outpouring of joy I haven’t heard the likes of at home since Jota did that thing against Fulham. In the last minute.

Oh, what a moment. Word cannot describe how that felt. Utter joy. Utter jubilation . Utterly deserved. 3-2 up. Three points in the bag. Even quality journalists such as the BBC, and also Ian Moose from Talksport,  had declared it as a win. All we had to do was run out the clock.

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KK is in there, somewhere

Yet Brighton are pushing Newcastle United neck and neck at the top of the Championship table for good reason. With the totally ineffectual Glenn Murray having been replaced, the Seagulls had finally looked like a team worthy of their lofty position. And with virtually the last play of the match, it was their fans who had their own moment of ecstasy. Tomer Hemed being the man to head home an equaliser that, if KK had provided the orgasmic denouement, was the equivalent of then being told “Its not you, its me”.

Brentford had been well and truly dumped.

Yes. I walked out of Griffin Park feeling crushed. But a bit of past match perspective is a wonderful thing. Two weeks ago we were a team who had struggled to put more than 20 minutes of pressure on our opponents. Now we’ve destroyed Aston Villa and, arguably, should have had another three points after making Brighton look like relegation fodder rather than title contenders for huge swathes of this game.

The new look formation and a couple of judicious changes have worked wonders. We’ve scored six goals in two games since the day Scott Hogan was sold to an Aston Villa side who remain behind us in the table. KK’s moment of brilliance is one I’ll never forget. As one Braemar Road observer would later reflect, “I think that Kersch goal is up in my all-time list that I’ve seen live.”

I wouldn’t disagree. Chin up lads, you were magnificent today. Again. Chin up Tom Field and Lasse Vibe. You were both wonderful and totally underserving of the respective tweets that you have been forced to post. Heckling your own players after this one? Feeling guilty about missing a spot kick?

Utter nonsense. I feel blessed to have watched that one today.

Chin up, Brentford. That was incredible.

Nick Bruzon 

Could we go one better with next season’s third shirt? A groundbreaking opportunity awaits.

5 Feb

Finally. 24 hours after the majority of our Championship rivals, Brentford get the chance to get back into action. And what a test it will be, against league leaders Brighton and Hove Albion. Although, of course, that should now read ‘former’ league leaders after Newcastle United regained top spot on Saturday.

With third place Reading also picking up a point yesterday afternoon, the pressure will be on the Seagulls to really go for broke. Brentford, of course, will be looking to build upon Tuesday night’s tonking of Aston Villa. We looked at the forthcoming challenge in the previous column which you can find here.

However, today I wanted to mention the Football v Homophobia (FvH) campaign. Don’t worry, this is no attempt at cod moralising or patronising anybody. The last thing anybody needs, the LGBT community especially, is an article that goes all preachy.

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Yet with February being designated the international month of FVH, today’s game with Brighton has been selected in support of the campaign. You can read more about this on Brentford official where the article notes that as many as 72% of fans have heard homophobic abuse at football matches.

Thankfully, and as we’ve mentioned many times before, at Brentford this would seem to be very much the exception rather than the rule. Aside from an odd incident at Newcastle United this season from a few of the visiting fans, this isn’t anything I’ve encountered before. Home or away. It’s just one of the many reasons I’m glad I can bring my son,family and friends to Griffin Park.

And so, despite no real issue of homophobia at Brentford, the club continue to back the campaigns and make all the right noises. We support the rainbow laces promotion, print the statements on the website whilst the excellent matchday programme will, no doubt also contain similar messages today. Likewise, we also have the @LGBT_Bees group on Twitter who are well worth a follow.

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Harlee Dean shows his support earlier in the season

Yet, equally, it does sometimes feel a little bit like lip service and some clubs going through the mentions. That’s no disprespect to Brentford, who certainly push the right buttons, but more an observation about football in general. How do a club really nail their colours to the mast? Or, rather, their kit?

German club VfL Bochum have long been noted amongst supporters for their late 90s kits, which sported the rainbow colours so closely associated with the LGBT community on one half of the chest. Yet whatever the connotations of this colour scheme, this  was no precursor to the FvH campaign.

Instead it was a case of taking sponsorship to Coventry City levels (the Sky Blues famously attempting to bypass football regulations by incorporating Talbot’s ’T’ directly into their early 80’s kit design). The rainbow colour scheme was actually that of club sponsors Faber, who ran the German lottery. However well meaning this shirt may be considered by the casual observer, it was chosen for nothing more than commercial gain.

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The Bochum kit (with Faber logo inset)

But it did get me thinking. Why not introduce the rainbow colours to a shirt? Even just for one match ? Event specific shirts are hardly uncommon these days and it would be a wonderful way to bring awareness to a new level. Nobody could deny the that the Bochum effort got people talking, even if for the wrong reasons.

One can only presume that contractual / commercial reasons would probably get in the way of such an enterprise before it got off the drawing board. Yet if any club and Adidas wanted to lead the way in throwing their support behind the FvH campaign, then what a groundbreaking way to do it? Even if just by tweaking the colour scheme on the famous shoulder stripes?

Bochum have shown this could be done, albeit by accident. How about Brentford do it for real ?

I’d be proud to wear this or some similar variant. Even if it was for one night only.

Would you?

 

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Could this be in Bob’s locker next season?

Nick Bruzon

Will there be more of the same at a price that, surely, is beyond generous?

4 Feb

Saturday morning. Match day. Except, of course, it isn’t. Brentford fans have to wait an extra day for the chance to see if we can match Tuesday night’s annihilation of Aston Villa. This time around, the visitors are none other than Brighton. A team who, whilst managing to reel in and then fend off long term runaway leaders Newcastle United, went down 3-1 at Huddersfield Town in front of the Sky TV cameras on Thursday night.

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Will the Seagulls fall victim to Dean’s killer Bees?

There’ll never be a better time for the Bees to take on the Seagulls. Brentford blew away Aston Villa on Tuesday night as though they were nothing more inconvenient than an empty crisp packet. 3-0 really doesn’t even begin to do justice to a scoreline that saw added width courtesy of Florian Jozefzoon and the wonderful Jota.

It was something noted by Dean, who used his press conference to note that “They give us an extra dimension and that enabled me to flip the system on Tuesday” (and, as ever, you can read his full interview on ‘official’).

With one defender less and more room in the middle of the pitch, Dean set his team up in much more balanced and positive formation than we’d seen in a long time. The results more than justified the tactical reshuffle. And this is before the returning Sergi Canos has even got a look in. Whilst I can’t imagine he’ll start in this one, I can already hear the reception he’ll get coming off the bench.

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Jota was back in the starting XI on Tuesday night

The big question now being whether it was a one off or if we can expect more of the same against Brighton? I hope so. Desperately. Tuesday night saw genuinely exciting football as the Bees, perhaps with a point to prove to Scott Hogan, tore Villa a new one.

Brighton, meanwhile, may well be back in second place by the time we cross paths. Newcastle United play on Saturday although a visit from Derby County won’t be the easiest fixture in the calendar. Yet if they can get the win, that adds the pressure to Albion. Especially if third placed Reading can also do the business at hapless Ipswich Town. A win for the Royals will take them to within just two points of Brighton.

Then, of course, we’ve got Thursday night to consider. Nobody needs a midweek trip to Huddersfield at the best of times, let alone when you then put in a performance that Chris Hughton would later describe saying, “Every now and again you get a real bad one, and that was a real bad one.

Perhaps he should compare notes with Steve Bruce !  To compound their misery, highly rated defender Lewis Dunk was shown the red card so misses out at Griffin Park.

One can’t help but think Brighton will be exhausted. With little over 48 hours to recover from the game and subsequent trip back from Yorkshire to the South coast, they are back on the road again.  Whilst we’ve all been victims to the vagaries of TV scheduling, this one seems extreme and yet another example of the TV companies putting teams and fans firmly in second place.

The question being if Dean Smith and his team can take advantage of this gift we’ve been offered. Brentford have already beaten Brighton in the corresponding fixture – becoming the only team this season to leave the Amex with all three points. Can we now become the first to do the double over the Seagulls? Could Sergi cause havoc in the final twenty minutes as tiredness starts to tell?

At odds of 11/5 with club sponsors 888, it seems to be free money for anybody looking to invest. Surely that’s too generous a price?

On Sunday afternoon, we find out.

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Nick Bruzon

A shock u-turn. But have the bookies got it wrong for the Villa game?

13 Sep

Well that’s a bit of an about turn. With Brentford heading into tomorrow night’s game at Aston Villa sitting eighth in the Championship table, just two points behind second placed Newcastle United, the mood is a positive one. Of course, we had the marvellous win down at Brighton on Saturday but, perhaps as importantly, we’ve now had an apology from Ian Holloway

Back in early August, the former Bee (his other clubs including Bristol Rovers and, of course, the Loftus Road mob) incensed Brentford supporters with his pre-season prediction that we would go down. Writing under the moniker of ‘football expert’ in his column for Sky Sports , he called us out to finish in 22nd place, noting: “Brentford are regressing. Mark Warburton got them punching above their weight. They still haven’t replaced Andre Gray and Alan Judge will be missing for the start of the season. They could be in trouble”.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 2016 to May 2017 along with a smattering of new material, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Ian Holloway – predictions as good as the kits of his playing day

 

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Nick Bruzon