Archive | Bristol City RSS feed for this section

What a performance. None moreso than from this man!

4 Feb

Second in the Championship. Unbeaten in 19 league games. Perhaps, most important, an opportunity taken when it was presented. Brentford beat Bristol City 3-2 last night to move within four points of Norwich City at the top of the table. Still with a game in hand. It was a game that, aside from a few minutes at the start and the end, always looked in complete control. The early and late goals for the visitors causing a few anxious moments but ultimately the strikes from Sergi Canos, Ivan Toney and Samman Ghoddos proved sufficient. Now we can look forward to Friday night and seeing which favour is done when Swansea City host Norwich. All that, prior to our our game at Middlesbrough on Saturday. 

No words needed

Let’s not underestimate the scale and importance of this victory. With everything going our way in the build up (Norwich held, Watford and Bournemouth losing, our own domination of the physical Swans) there was always that nagging doubt that it might go a bit Pete Wrong. Perhaps scarred by the memories of Stoke and Barnsley at the denouement of the previous campaign where West Brom’s falling apart was only matched by our own LL after looking untouchable for the entirety of the post lockdown run-in. It was a feeling only perpetuated after the Robins took an early lead, Zak Vyner guiding home a free kick at the back post. A free kick that probably shouldn’t even have been awarded but, alas, it was. It was punished with clinical precision and Bristol City were away. 

Except, they weren’t. Boom, Brentford came flying out the traps from the restart and turned up the pressure. Sergi and Tariqe pulling the strings down the flanks. Ivan Toney getting involved everywhere. Josh Dasilva missing but replaced by unsung hero Vitaly Janelt. Ethan close. Sergi closer. Noooo. Almost. “It feels like its going to be one of those,” I said to Mrs. B. with almost half an hour gone. Oh me of little faith. Superb work down the right from Ivan saw the ball played into the box. Fosu took first bite at the cherry before who else but Sergi was there to add another goal to his haul. Daniel Bentley’s parry out falling perfectly for the Spaniard who made no mistake. One each, Brentford dominant and pushing on.

Half time came with the scores level but if it felt like welcome relief for the visitors, the moment was short lived. As with Wycombe on Saturday, Brentford came back out at 100mph. Bristol City nowhere close to being prepared for what came next. Tariqe Fosu’s cross from the right was about as perfect as they come. A tracer bullet of a delivery that tore through the heart of the Robins to be met withI the brilliance of Ivan Toney. The timing and execution as he steered it home about as beautiful as one could hope to see. His twentieth goal of the season as wonderful as any that have come before and one which owed a huge debt of gratitude to Tarique. Lovely stuff.

The Bees pushed on, dominating possession. City shell shocked and although trying to get back in to it, offering as much resistance as a chocolate lime left in the blazing sunshine. There was no way through and instead it was Brentford who controlled the pace. It felt like the next one was inevitable and sure enough, as the Spice Girls almost once sang, tonight is the night that two become three. This time it was Samman who got on the scoresheet. Again, Fosu was the architect with his run and ball being picked up by Ghoddos. His first effort saw Bentley beaten all ends up but came back off the bar. Alfie Mawson’s clearance wasn’t but Ghoddos still had to stretch before connecting with the other foot to blast it straight back past the ‘keeper and into the back of the net for 3-1 with not much more than an hour played. Game over, surely? 

Well, yes. The game was contained and the final quarter-hour saw a flurry of substitutions. Understandable given this was the first of 8 league games over just 24 days in February. The trip to Middlesbrough at the weekend no doubt playing on Thomas Frank’s mind. Freshness will be key and a two goal lead was enough to preserve. Errrr. Well, yes it was at the end although let’s not pretend there wasn’t a bit of squeaky bum time with the plethora of defensive changes leaving us feeling a tad lopsided. Certainly, to the usual observer. Ultimately though the record books and table don’t lie. They show Brentford second and with a 3-2 win. They don’t show how the late consolation from Nahki Wells was offside. At least, by the rudimentary calculations offered up by the GPG. Who needs computer graphics when things appear this blatant?

We won. We’re happy. Very happy. It was a game that, as Thomas was quick to remind viewers, was played without four players who would likely be considered part of his starting XI : Pontus, Josh, Christian and Bryan. He was also quick to praise the roles played by those who have stepped in and stepped up. The way Tariqe has grown from being in Benrahma’s shadow. The way Sergi has flourished – wonderful to hear although anybody following the games could see that. Yet let’s not forget, either, that at least two of those four have missed most of this season. The ‘stand ins’ have already well stood up and taken their chance. Vitaly Janelt has been immense. Bryan Mbeumo must be wondering how and when he gets back in. I’d love the options provided by a fit Pontus but even he was there roaring the team on from the sidelines. Besides, you can’t have everything and to be where we are  at this juncture, with this squad, is quite fantastic.

Whilst an all round team performance, Fosu deserves special singling out. Sergi and Ivan were immense and could rightly consider themselves hard done by in not scooping the MOTM award. Yet to have given it to anyone beyond Tariqe would have been criminal. He’s been growing into the team and offering up more and more of his brilliance. Cripes, last night (and also Saturday v Wycombe) see him as undroppable. He was incredible. Thomas Frank mutt be smiling to himself at the perfect timing of this talent explosion.

Tarique swept the board when the votes were counted

February is going to be huge. It is going to be exhausting. Yet get through it with any sort of form and the finish will be in sight. There’ll be just 12 games left to play and the position at the top will, one hopes, be clearer. That’s not to get too far ahead of ourselves though. That’s not to enjoy the moment of another fine win. Like all of us I’d have loved to be there. Alas, it wasn’t to be but at least we had the pleasure of seeing another win. Of seeing Ivan go three clear at the top of the Championship goal scorers charts. Of seeing Tarique play a quite wonderful game of football. My word he was immense. 

There’s plenty of fun, stress, excitement and expectation to come. For now, let’s catch our breath and say ‘Well done’ after another stonking win. Bristol City may have been generous in their own pre-match donations to a local food bank (well played, well played) but once things kicked off there was no gifts being offered. The Bees had to scrap for everything but what a way to do it. Class on a plate. Here’s to the hope of more being served up at Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Nick Bruzon   

Who is The Masked Signer?

2 Feb

Take it off. Take it o… No, enough of that. At the start of a massive week for Brentford, the transfer window creaked shut with the loan signing of Winston Reid from West Ham, resplendent in face mask although disappointingly unchewed biro,  whilst there was a favour at Watford from the Loftus Road mob. We’ve got our own game at home to Bristol City on Wednesday (the game in hand on Swansea City) whilst Norwich City visit Millwall tonight and then play the, hopefully third placed, Swans in an epic showdown this Friday.

Winston joins

The signing of an emergency centre back was an obvious one. With Pontus Janson and Charlie Goode both currently out of action, it left us only Mads and Ethan as the regular starters. In Winston Reid we have a player with big league and International experience. A player who began his career at Midtjylland in 2005 (just how far back to Rasmus’ records go?) and has close to 200 games for West Ham. With a huge run of back to back weekend/midweek games coming up, having some extra experience and competition out there will be vital. His last action has been out on loan at Sporting Kansas City who let him return when that expired. Here’s hoping their loss is our gain.

The rest of the window saw loan deals tied up. Said Benrahma has now officially completed his transfer to West Ham (so we can put ‘loan update’ out of its misery), Patrik Gunnarsson, Jan Žambůrek and Luka Racic have returned to the fold. Samman Ghoddos has completed his transfer in. Those heading out for the short term  are Dominic Thompson, Patrik Gunnarsson, Ellery Balcombe and Halil Dervişoğlu.  And that’s it. Business concluded. The squad strengthened in our usual fashion – as much by returning B team members, that bit more experience under their belts, than anything else. More importantly, nobody out (let’s not forget that Said had already long gone). The squad now locked in and ready for the second part of the season.

I saw a tweet prior to the second half against Wycombe saying, “And some of you don’t think we need to sign anyone….? Deluded as f**k.” . Hmmm. Not sure I quite agree with that and whilst it felt grim after Admiral Muskwe got a second Wycombe equaliser just prior to half-time the second half proved (yet again) that football is a game of 90 minutes. That one early miss from Sergi Canos does not make him the devil incarnate as some would suggest. Wasn’t that a penalty earned and a blockbuster goal for the Spaniard in the second half? 

Sergi got my vote on Saturday ; Josh was first class

Where I would agree we had an obvious gap was in defence. You can only stretch it so far and any further injury would leave us brutally exposed. That gap has now been covered. I can’t see Winston stepping in to the team immediately but at least, now, we have extra options. Mads and Ethan don’t need to be run into the ground.

Elsewhere, Championship action took an unexpected turn last night when Watford missed out on the chance to go second. They went down 2-1 at home to the hoops from Shepherds Bush. Unexpected for sure but it leaves them  a point behind Brentford having played two games more. Should Millwall pull of something similar when Norwich City visit this evening it will leave that gap to the top as six points but with the same two games in hand. Cripes. The Championship just reeks of potential and has never felt more open. Yet whatever favours are delivered and results go our way, doing the business against Bristol City – a game already rearranged twice due to Corona Virus (‘suspected’ and actual) – will be the absolute priority.

That one kicks off at 7.45pm on Wednesday evening at Lionel Road. Here’s hoping Mark Burridge is already limbering up those vocal cords. I’ve got a feeling its going to be epic.

Nick Bruzon

Time to say, “Enough is enough.”

13 Jan

Get well soon, everyone. Is it time to call a halt to football for a while? Brentford were the latest in a growing list of clubs to see games cancelled yesterday due to the ongoing Corona Virus outbreak. Cripes, words that have actually surpassed ‘Rail replacement Bus’ , ‘Mrs Browns Boys and ‘England Supporters Band’ as the three most soul-destroying in the English language. Following Monday’s latest testing, the Bees have reported further positive results to the EFL and, as such, been asked to close our Training Ground aswell as carry out additional tests. The immediate consequence of this being our own confirmation that we are now unable to complete the games with Bristol City (tonight) and at Reading on Saturday. As is the way,  these games will now have to be rearranged. Somewhere. Likewise the trip to Swansea City on 23rd January, although that’s as much due to both clubs involvement in the FA Cup – us with Leicester City and the Swans against Nottingham Forest.

This is getting ridiculous now. At the very least an extension to the season is needed. Realistically, we need to call a halt for a few weeks. This is no longer isolated and ad-hoc. Where does health and safety take a priority? Not just of players but all those still involved behind the scenes on a match day. With the rest of the country being forced into stricter and stricter controls for our own benefit, why are the clubs still being put into a situation which seems to be spiralling out of control at present?

Sick (ill) Bees – and we aren’t alone

I love football. I’m desperate for it to go ahead. To have some feeling of normality and light at the end of the tunnel. But this is no longer normal. This is no longer isolated amongst a small element of the football community. Bristol City have already pulled their game with us due to players feeling unwell. Like other clubs, we’ve actually pulled them now due to genuine cases. No irony lost there and I don’t retrospectively change my opinions or what was said at the time on the circumstances surrounding what happened at Ashton Gate. At least they are healthy. However, its not the time for point scoring or ploughing on with an ever growing fixture list. Some clubs left trailing with even more games to somehow cram in to an ever decreasing list of dates.

If we’re talking irony, look at how this happened over November and December. Game followed game followed game. Now we’re left in a situation in January where we kick our heels as the club hope players, staff (and head coach Thomas Frank) recover as quickly and as healthily as possible. If nothing else, let’s not pretend Bryan Mbeumo hit the ground running upon his return from a positive test last season. We all have eyes and we  all saw how his own from dropped away. 

As it stands, the only other games this month will be Luton on January 20th, Leicester City in the cup and then home to Wycombe on January 30th. Assuming, of course, the authorities don’t call a temporary halt to proceedings.

The rising infection rate requires action. Now”. Not my words, but those of the government propaganda advert playing out across the radio on an hourly basis. It’s come on just now (6am). Sitting here doing my day job from the kitchen table, it’ll no doubt be washed down another half-dozen times over the course of the day. At least. The news is telling us it’s likely we’re not even going to be allowed to exercise in public with one other person for much longer – the current extent to our freedoms – yet football carries on regardless. Why is nobody thinking of their health and well being? Marcus Rashford is effectively doubling up as the leader of the opposition, yet football carries on regardless.

Perhaps I need to turn the radio off. It’s not been a good start to the day. It’s only going to get worse when I have to find three hours from nowhere to do home schooling. Sorry to whinge. First world problems – at least I have a job and some food on the table. I’m fully aware others have different challenges oaf their own. As much as anything else how to occupy spare time. That’s not to pretend things are easy for anyone at the moment.

Yet mentioned because as much as anything else, it is the strange normality of crowd free football that helps us keep us going. Gives something to look forward to at the weekend or the end of the day. I’d love more of it, being quite selfish. But, perhaps, now somebody has to have the balls to stand up and say ‘enough is enough’. Even if its just for a couple of weeks.  

Get back to me on that one. 

Perhaps time to turn the radio off

Nick Bruzon

Monthly winners announced. Crack out the Picard graphic (and the praise).

8 Jan

Well, well, well. Brentford fans have woken up to discover that Thomas Frank has been named Championship manager of the month for December. Congratulations all round on a quite magnificent run. A nine game unbeaten streak in the month that saw us knock Newcastle United out of the league cup and climb to the automatic promotion slots. Whilst that cup dream may have ended at Spurs on Tuesday the league is very much alive. Our game at Bristol City now been rearranged for next week (Wednesday) whilst we’ve also got a visit from Middlesbrough tomorrow in the FA Cup.

For Thomas, a huge vindication of what he and the squad have accomplished to date. A slow, steady climb up the league despite a whole host of dissenting voices from the more bizarre element of our fan base. The frustration at not winning every game by a country mile or his refusal to pick the same 11 players twice a week accompanied by ‘that hashtag’. Hmm. Its all gone quiet over there, as the song goes.

Instead, the tactics justified and achievements (to date) recognised outside TW8. As Thomas noted, this is a very much about the ‘we’. “This award is one for the team. No Manager or Head Coach will win an award like this without a great team of staff and players going in the same direction”. He went on to recognise the intense efforts of those players, without careful management of whom and clever selection we couldn’t have got this far, “Across the whole of Europe, no team has played more games than Brentford this season. It takes a big effort from everyone to continue to perform to such a high level and everyone should be really proud.

You can read that piece in full, here, on the EFL website.

There was to be no double, sadly. Sergi Canos was nominated as player of the month but lost out to Middlesbrough striker Duncan Watmore. However, even to be in the shortlist is a quite remarkable achievement for player who, its bonkers to think, is still only 23. He seems to have been around forever and is only getting better and better with age. The hate mob gunning for him at the start of the season presumably now back under the rock they emerged from. As we’ve been saying all campaign ; criticism is absolutely fine. Its a natural and vital part of football but the sheer vitriol and hate directed at certain individuals, from people purporting to be supporters of the team, nothing short of embarrassing.

Fortunately, teams aren’t picked by social media. Likewise, the majority recognised the re-emergence of this most exciting player after that awful injury and refused to join the lemming like pile on. Thankfully Thomas Frank had faith in his man and has been duly rewarded. The goal against Blackburn was just magnificent. The hat-trick at Cardiff City something very, very special. That’s before you even factor in the determination, the approach play, the passion. We’ve always loved Sergi in our house and long may that continue.

Congratulations Thomas. Congratulations Sergi. Long may it continue! 

Sergi got 3 out of 3 at Cardiff

This does throw Saturday’s game with Middlesbrough in to question. Nothing to do with Corona Virus but more as to whether the curse of ‘Manager of the month’ transfers to the FA Cup? My gut says this is a league thing but with the two clubs that won the December awards coming head to head tomorrow, could this all implode? We all know the adage about that jinx –  whomever wins the monthly award loses the next game. Seeing this one play out could put a ground breaking twist on everything we know about football folklore.

Otherwise, our next game is the league clash with Bristol City which has been rearranged from Saturday just gone to this Wednesday. In a shock turn of events none of the City players who had gone down with 11th hour Corona symptoms, that they were unable to be tested for, have since been reported as having had a positive test. Who’d have thought it? I guess one should be relieved for the Robins. Imagine having to add Corona Virus to what was already a lengthy injury list at the time they pulled the game. Hmmmmmm.

I’ve heard more convincing explanations at school

The EFL are due to conduct an investigation into the circumstances but that’s not going to change what didn’t happen. Instead we had a weekend off, a sour taste in the mouth and the chance for our first team to be recharged for the Spurs match. Hurrah for VAR. Said nobody ever.

There’s only one thing to do now and that’s get heads down and focus. Nobody can change what has played out in January. Feeling we’ve been treated unjustly by the late postponement or the video treatment of Ivan Toney’s fingers at Spurs is only good, if it inspires us. Wallowing in self-pity of no benefit but I can’t imagine Thomas allowing any of that. We’ve had a quite incredible December that has seen us rewarded on and off the pitch. That’s now done and it is time, as ever, to look forward. Following Bristol City, we’ve the tames with Reading and Luton. Another crowded run of fixtures against teams with the same aspirations as the Bees for promotion.

A very fishy, dodgy story

Before that though, Middlesbrough. I can’t wait to see the team in action. Whichever element of the squad Thomas picks it from.

Nick Bruzon

New decade. Same brilliance.

2 Jan

What a start to the New Year. A 4-0 win for Brentford at Bristol City about as comprehensive as they come. Robins’ manager Lee Johnson self-combusting in a full time Scrappy Doo impersonation that saw him red carded at full time for an altercation with Thomas Frank.  With Leeds United being held at West Bromwich Albion, the gap to the top two is back down to single figures. The Bees sit third in The Championship after Fulham lost at home. Millwall, Forest and The Cottagers making up the play-off places. Ollie Watkins back up to one goal behind Aleksander Mitrovic at the top of the divisional goal scoring charts after his brace rounded things off following early goals from Bryan Mbeumo and Saïd Benrahma.

Screenshot 2020-01-02 at 08.46.23

The full time score at Ashton Gate, c/o Quest TV this morning..

We’ve all see this one, presumably? Either as part of the thousand plus who travelled to Ashton Gate or via the red button on Sky. Yet some performances need to be chewed over once more, such was the manner of victory. David Raya set up the first goal with just 6 minutes gone. His enormo-clearance one that might have been selected at Millwall on Sunday. This time he called it right with a ball that must have carried close to three-quarters of the pitch before Ollie picked it off and danced through the visitors defence. They tried but couldn’t stop him and it slipped through for Mbeumo to dink home his tenth of the season.

1-0 and game on. 1-0 and man off. Ashley Williams was shown red just minutes after he and Ollie had both been booked for a coming together. A scything challenge on Watkins resulted in his ejection and with it, the home team’s chance. It was 0-2 moments later. Less than half an hour gone and Benrahma got the goal he’s been looking for in recent weeks. Daniel Bentley could only pat down a Jensen shot and, despite upending Ollie when clean though, was unable to stop Saïd from doing his thing. It all looked ridiculously easy. The decision to trade him in for David Raya being proven more and more an incredible piece of business with each passing game.

A tactical readjustment for the hosts saw them working their way back in to the game. Relatively speaking. They didn’t concede anything further up to half time and even looked vaguely threatening. Yet there was no way through, with one kamikaze backpass in the second period giving even more opportunity for Ollie to join the scorers. His goals eventually coming in the final ten minutes. The first, guiding home a tracer bullet of a cross from Jan Zamburek down the left. His second, capitalising on a Mads Roerslev  (in for Dalsgaard) assist from the other flank.  Bentley only able to parry his header and there was to be no mistake as the ball fell nicely. 4-0 and all done. Barring the full time whistle and Johnson’s punishment. 

It really was a stunning, stunning performance. Thomas Frank’s BMW front three once more driving us forward with speed, skill and flair. It’s hard to believe the Mbeumo is only 20. Amazing to see the advances to Ollie’s game. Saïd on song just speaks for himself. All three once more dividing the goals between them. Benrahama back to his sizzling best. One second half flick over his own head had to be seen to be believed. Filthy, audacious, taking the p. All three rolled up into one and served up with a side salad of confidence and self-belief. Truly, he is a talent to behold.

With that accursed transfer window now open for a month, hanging on to B, M and W will be huge. If we can do it. Yet with spirits high and the team storming the table, why would anybody jump ship now? Yes, I know money talks and this is the naivety of being a fan but the chance to see what this team could do in the second half of the season is an intriguing one.

The defence is tight (we are now clear in the fewest ‘goals against’ chart), the midfield dominant and the attacking trio electric. Leeds United continue to wobble. Their 1-1 with West Brom meaning its only been one win out of the last five for them. Even that needed a 95th minute own goal by Birmingham City to hand them the points after having shipped four themselves.I still think that top two would be Boys Own stuff, relying on a staggering run of favours, but as long as we keep on doing our thing then anything else is a bonus. The gap in the-play off zone is starting to grow with clear air now between us and seventh placed Sheffield Wednesday. Four points the difference and our staggering goal difference of +21 bettered only by West Bromwich Albion.

It is easy to get excited, no question, but why not? Why shouldn’t we enjoy the moment? This team and this performance has been building . The goals have been flying in for months. The team slowly climbing up the table. Sneaking under the radar, if you will, to emerge into 2020 with plaudits from all. We’ve got the FA Cup against Stoke City next and then a return to Griffin Park in the league where QPR visit for our next Championship fixture. With the Lionel Road season tickets also going on sale to us non-premiums, it promises to be an exciting week or two.

Then again, when isn’t it?

Nick Bruzon

Sometimes it’s just important to set the scene.

1 Jan

Bristol City host Brentford today. At the very top of the table Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion meet later in the day. Good luck. Good luck everybody. Personally, this is all going to be hard work. 

I woke up, took one look at the detritus from the night before and knew immediately that things were not good. Empty bottles. Lots of empty bottles. Dirty plates. Mess. Wine glasses all over the kitchen counter. Ferrero Rocher wrappers littering the living room floor like the remnants of an ambassador’s reception gone rogue. Fuzzy memories of Craig David doing his thing on the TV. Thankfully, none of Jools Holland and his smug piano show. 

Screenshot 2020-01-01 at 09.08.49

Then, with the espresso kicking in I stumbled across it. The left over fondue pot containing the congealed remains of a kilogram of Swiss cheese. The pungent smell carried to the back of the throat on a wave of grease. The plan of reducing the pain felt today by last night lining the stomach with an early evening, pre-drinks blanket of bread and melted gruyere suddenly backfiring with abandon. Should have stuck to the original plan of pizza rather than trying to be clever.

Let’s leave that thought there. All being well, nothing some fresh air won’t sort out. Hopefully. Instead 2020 begins with an immediate chance to put Sunday’s anti-football at Millwall out with the empties. A stodgy game played (if that is the word) on an over watered ploughed-field of a surface. One can’t dispute that The Lions had a specific game plan, which worked, but it was very much one for the insomniacs. Too many Brentford players looked off the pace and unable to adjust to the visitors pressing game. I’m pretty sure today will be different.

DSC06911

Millwall away – awful

That’s not to suggest Bristol City will be easy. Anything but. They’ve been in the play-off race for the vast majority of the season and are only one point outside of it at present. A run of four straight defeats has now ended with Sunday’s home win over bottom three Luton Town. You can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be expecting more of the same. Then again, so will Brentford. If ever motivation was needed it will be the chance to consolidate our own top six placing. Likewise, the opportunity to bury the memory of Sunday. For the talismanic Benrahma to get back on his top game – something so desperately missing at The Den. He wasn’t alone, either, but knowing just how good he can be, an off-key Saïd stands out more than anybody. That’s the price to be paid for such incredible talent, I suppose.

I’d love to pour forth with erudite learnings and big match previews at this juncture but it’s not really working. Not today. The thought that forcing myself to the keyboard after the treat of a rare lie in would help sort things out proving to be nothing more than wishful thinking. Instead, there’s another waft of scorched emmenthal drifting across the kitchen and it’s not good. Mrs. Bruzon and Harry are both asleep still. I can only envy them. No doubt each dreaming about Ollie Watkins and  Sergi Canos. Albeit I’d imagine different content in their respective minds’ eyes. Instead, a riverside walk beckons before the football. Possibly.   

Sometimes it’s just important to set the scene. Now, how about a Bloody Mary to settle the stomach…

Nick Bruzon

A tough one to take after a night of one way traffic.

3 Oct

Brentford 1 Bristol City 1. It is a score which does nothing to illustrate the performance of The Bees over 87 of the 90 minutes before a late, late equaliser, gifted to the visitors on a plate after a self-inflicted formation change, saw two points very much dropped. Brentford dominated and the stats more than bear this out. Yet as we’ve said many times, goals are the only thing that count at full time and all the wonderful play, brilliance from Daniel Bentley, domination and shots count for nothing if your opponents score as many, or more, than you. There’s a lot of positives to be taken from this one ahead of the trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday aswell as a few very valuable lesson learned.

First up, credit to Bristol City. Let’s not sound like we’re full of the sour grapes enjoyed by the likes of Steve Evans and Russell Slade back in the day. Whilst Brentford clearly had the lions share of possession and chances, it wasn’t one way traffic. The Robins set up to defend and almost caught us on the break in the first half. Rico Henry losing the ball and a lightning fast counter attack saw David Raya making a fine save one-on-one, when a goal was all but chalked on. In the other goal, Daniel Bentley was on inspired form. Save followed save and chance followed chance as the former Bees ‘keeper and his five man defence did everything to keep out the rampaging red and white hoard.

The goal, when it did come, was quite magnificent. Josh Dasilva curling a wonderful effort into the far top corner from outside the box. It was a strike that was as tasty as a freshly toasted bagel smeared in marmite, crunchy peanut butter and fake plastic cheese i.e delicious. The celebration was equally emphatic. Arms out high, he  ran to the Braemar Road side with players coming from all directions to leap on the midfielder in congratulation. 

For me, the smile on the face of Pontus Jansson said it all. A man who wears his heart on his sleeve at all times, you could see what this one meant to our captain as he joined the ever growing pile of players. A grin from ear to ear mirroring just what the supporters were feeling. Contrast that the look in his face at full time after ‘that’ equaliser had salvaged a point for Bristol City. He cut a distraught figure in the centre of the park, taking in what had gone on around him. I do wonder if words were exchanged in the dressing room at full time, and towards whom, or whether it one where we have to recognise the calibre of the opposition and our own performances which are improving. 

IMG_9061

View from The Braemar – Josh celebrates (somewhere)

I guess the frustrating thing is not so much that we conceded a late goal after battering our opponents without reply – that’s just one of the many elements that make being a Brentford fan what it is – but more that it just seemed so needless.

The 4-3-3 that we’d employed to such good effect at Barnsley and then again last night, was ditched with the fat lady performing her vocal warm ups. Sergi was replaced by an additional centre back in Ethan Pinnock on 83 minutes as we switched defensive formation. Four minutes later, with the team already looking stretched despite the additional numbers in the back line, Andreas Weimann was given all the space he needed to get on the end of Jack Hunt’s long cross and leave Raya with no chance.

Bristol City had their chance. They took it. Well done. That’s how football works. We could, no should, have wrapped this one up against a well disciplined and solid team. Instead, that combination of great goalkeeping, intense defence and plain old ball luck kept them in it until the opportunity arose. And when it did, my word they grabbed it. The celebrations were as ecstatic as our own had been. Understandably so. Even then, Daniel Bentley still had to be on his game to keep things level, tipping over a dipping cross from Dalsgaard late on in the last meaningful move of the match. And that was it. 1-1. Full time.

Waking up on Thursday morning it was very much a case of the ‘D’ word to describe this one. ‘Disappointed’ rather than ‘deserved’. As in, to win. There were plenty of positives to be taken but a single point instead of the three we looked like taking for huge swathes of this game feels like the metaphorical nuts. It did last night and there’s still a numb feeling down there today. Metaphorically speaking.  When you can’t even find room, or motivation, to talk about the Kurupt FM takeover at Griffin Park then you know it’s been a hard one.

IMG_9032

Add your own punchline

But, we didn’t lose. The table has now ‘taken shape’ at the ten game mark and we are 15th. We are getting much better as new faces and returning heroes adjust to life without the likes of Sawyers, Bentley, Maupay and McEachran swell as each other. We have a trip to fourth placed Nottingham Forest on Saturday where, if we can hold our defensive shape and maintain the same level of positivity going forward, our rise up the table will continue. Probably. 

Brentford are six points off the promotion pack. I can’t wait for the weekend when we see if that gap can be further reigned in. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Will it be raining goals once more?

2 Oct

Hot on the heels of thumping Barnsley, Brentford host Bristol City on Wednesday evening in game 10 of a Championship season that will finally see the table have officially ‘taken shape’. Both teams know what a win could mean – for the Robins, a chance to enter the play off zone whilst another three points for The Bees should see us hit the top half of the table and overtake Birmingham City (who lost another one last night – good luck there, Josh).  Leeds United have retained top spot but despite their game being televised, I know I’m in shock too – I can imagine most neutral observers would have been watching Spurs in the Champions League. That one, of course, saw Tottenham suffer the indignity of a home bracketing as they went down 2- 7 (seven) to Bayern Munich.

brentford v Bristol City

Looks familiar……

As ever, we can only start at Griffin Park. Sunday was as morale boosting as they come for Brentford. The performance – opening quarter aside – was about as dominant as they come. Barnsley weren’t even second and struggled to get close to us. Ollie was our hat-trick hero but there were plenty of superstars out there beyond the headline maker. He’s currently joint top scorer in the Championship with 7(seven) but if he wants to stride clear of Aleksander Mitrovic then he’s going to have to beat former colleague Daniel Bentley. Of course, now plying his trade at Ashton Gate following his sale to Bristol City over the summer.

That’s not going to be easy. In his three season at Griffin Park Daniel was, largely, magnificent. Sure, there were a few wobbles last season but on the whole he was about as good as we’ve seen between the sticks on TW8. I remember BBC Billy Reeves making a very early declaration that he was our best ever and, whilst time may have forced us to slightly redraw that balance when compared to the legend that is Wojciech Szczęsny (to this day, I still do now know how we pulled that one off) for me, Clive, he’s certainly in the top few. A great shot stopper with cat-like reactions who we’ll be doing well to find the back of the net against. Perhaps we just need to pump those crosses into the box and shout ‘punch’ in a West Country accent.

So who will win the battle of the badges tonight? Let’s hope our crest is the only Brentford thing the visitors try to emulate, based on our performance at the weekend. Or perhaps they could pick up where they left-off defensively – shipping three goals on the road in a draw at Preston that saw them surrender the lead twice. Personally, I’m calling this one as another win for the Bees. The formation at Oakwell suited us wonderfully and we all know what the widemen did where the pace was electric and the delivery pin-point.

I can’t wait for this one. The modern day Michael Fish at the BBC have promised us a break from the recent downpours whilst Griffin Park always feels that much more exciting when the floodlights are on. Walking past the ground this morning on the school run, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky although do pack your gloves. Sergi, I’m looking at you in particular.

_93286911_mediaitem93286909

Could it be raining goals in West London tonight ?

The win is there to be grabbed and the table is about to have become the true barometer of our rival’s ability. The draw with Stoke City L can formally be deemed a disappointment (they went down, again, last night and are rock bottom on two points) whilst we’ve already taken on table toppers Leeds United and missed out narrowly. It’s going to be tight. It’s going to be tense. But it’s going to be fun. See you there.

And in true Columbo style, just one more thing. Or should that be 7(seven)? Spurs were humped by Bayern Munich last night, leaving to a chorus of boos after the German giants hit the magical bracket mark. As if going down by this many in your own back yard wasn’t bad enough, Tottenham even had the temerity to take the lead before allowing the floodgates to open.  And what a way to rain goals as the heavens opened.

Cue obligatory shots of fans sitting in solitude at full time  – is there any more wonderful a piece of camera work in world sport? A shot akin to the sudden zoom that follows two ‘treble-twentys’ in darts. The camera lurching forward in anticipation of capturing the 180 scoring arrow in extreme close up. Probably not. Unless you support the team that has just suffered that footballing humiliation. And last night, it was the Spurs players & supporters left typing “We go again” into their social media accounts.

F2F686A3-B7C8-48EE-AF25-DF7F049E25DF.jpeg

Nick Bruzon

It’s all go in the Championship. Bee becomes a Robin and Derby prepare for historical change.

29 Jun

It’s all been kicking off in the Championship these last few days. Brentford have sold Daniel Bentley to league rivals Bristol City. A club who, as one source close to the club told me last night, “Are really going for it this season”. Elsewhere, there is more and more expectation that Frank Lampard’s Derby County will release their man to Chelsea. And Nottingham Forest sack Martin O’ Neill then replace him just 18 minutes later.

We can only start with the news about Daniel Bentley. He’s left Brentford for Bristol City in a fee that is thought to be at least £2million – certainly per the daily mail website, amongst others, so take that with whatever pinch of salt and disgust you need to apply first before searching it out. Presumably this will be with the usual add ons and clauses that we seem to make a matter of course as part of doing business. As we saw when Alfie Mawson joined Fulham from Swansea (prior to that, Barnsley), play it right and the money keeps on coming in.   

lSR2iBno

Noooo. My eyes. They’re  burning

Being honest, I don’t think this will come as a surprise to anybody in TW8. The club are long thought to have been on the hunt for a new goalkeeper whilst time on Dan’s own deal with us was starting to run out. Moreso given the number of uncharacteristic slips seen last season from a player who, I think, has the potential to go all the way to the top. Let’s not forget Dan is only 25 and had two absolutely cracking seasons between the sticks for Brentford after joining from Southend United when his contract had run down.

Director of football Phil Giles told official that, “As most fans will know, Dan had one year remaining on his contract. With that in mind it makes sense to sell now and reinvest the transfer fee. We have been planning ahead with regards to bringing a new goalkeeper to the club and hope to make some progress soon“.

Dan is a cracking aquisition for the Robins. Some of his shot stopping has been out of this world whilst as anybody who has had the pleasure of meeting him will know, he’s nothing but the consummate gentleman with all the time in the world for supporters – young and old alike.

It does also beg the question of whether Dan will now be obliged to make one of those awful Twitter ‘gifs’, just in case he scores. The things you do to avoid our own 2019/20 goalkeepers kit…

With City having also hoovered up England U-21 defender Jay Dasilva from Chelsea (who’d have thought it – the Stamford Bridge club selling on one of their youngsters rather than letting him breakthrough) and due to sign Sammie Szmodics from Colchester United when his contract expires on Monday, perhaps they are a team with promotion on the agenda?

image

Dan inspiring the next generation

What this means for Luke Daniels, who knows. We already have Icelandic youth international Patrik Gunnarsson and England U-20 Ellery Balcombe as part of the B team set up whilst Phil’s talk of a new target surely means that something has to give. Surely? Let’s not forget that Patrik has already made a Brentford debut, coming on for Dan when we won up at Middlesbrough in the brown/orange (not a typo) back in March. As such, one would think that we’ll be looking towards youth and the future once more.

Then again, yours truly is just the numpty on the terrace with no real inside knowledge – as ever, let’s just wait and see what plays out. One thing you can be sure of is that the club know what they are doing. Our business over the last five or so years has shown that. Sure, we may get the odd Nick Proschwitz but the Neal Maupay and Said Benrahamas (amongst many, many) of this world show that more often than not we get it very right indeed,

Next up, Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™. Rams’ supporters are bracing themselves for the fact that their club may be about to undergo a radical rebranding with Chelsea in the hunt for their manager. Frank Lampard.

It is widely expected he’ll be taking over at Stamford Bridge this week, meaning all sorts of questions will be asked about what’s going to happen next. Primarily, the immediate logical step being one which will see the Pride Park outfit having to be renamed. At present, the hot favourite title in the frame is a simple ‘Derby County’ . This is a choice which will only be seen as a nice historical nod to their origins and one which may help appease fans, upset by the loss of a man who helped keep them in sixth place in the Championship after replacing Gary Rowett.

Certainly, as a founder member of the football league back in 1888, they were known by this shorter format. It is one the club enjoyed for a long period after that in a run that extended all the way up until Lampard’s arrival last year. Now, it would seem, the name Derby County is set to return once more.

IMG_3204

Was this the last appearance of Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™ at Griffin Park?

Nottingham Forest sack manager Martin O’Neill. Nottingham Forest replace Martin O’Neill just 18 minutes later, with former Rennes manager and French international Sabri Lamouchi taking over. Wow!! Although is it?

The trigger happy club, who had already seen a parting of the ways with Aitor Karanaka and his physical approach (who could forget the Griffin Park kick-fest?), have moved again. Reportedly as a result of dressing room disharmony. Being the numpty on etc etc I’m not close enough to know the ins and outs but a great source close to the City Ground (a friend on Twitter)  has shared this link from Daniel Taylor at The Guardian.

Its well worth a read, if only to show how lucky we are to have such positivity in our own dressing room. Likewise, what can happen when that all goes South. Thank goodness for the likes of Thomas Frank at the helm and our own recruitment approach.

Thomas Frank FT Preston

We’re lucky to have Thomas and the great morale he inspires.

And finally, as unsubtle as ever,  for things that may not be worth so much of a read (but are for a great cause).. please do download a copy of the Last Word season season review – containing the least bad of these columns from the World Cup to Aston Villa deserving to win the play offs. It also includes the World Cup aswell as all the ‘Park Life’ articles submitted for the matchday programme and so not previously available on these pages.  

ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so what better way to remind yourself how brilliant 2018/19 was? To kill a bit of time on the commute to work / on your summer holidays / on the toilet etc You can download it , now, for your kindle , iPod telephone or other electronic reading device here.

At £1.99 it’s cheaper than half a pint so what’s to lose? Apart from £1.99 – which then goes to The Community Sports Trust anyway. Many thanks again. And enjoy.

511568510

Nick Bruzon

Football fans lost in the superunknown as Festive fixtures take hold.

28 Dec

Is it Friday? Saturday? Thursday? We’re in that dead-zone of the calendar where nothing makes any sense. A random televised game between West Ham and Southampton last night being the only clue that some half-arsed sort of normality is trying to be attained as the festive fixtures plough ever onwards. For Brentford, a 1-1 draw at Bristol City on, erm, let’s just call it Boxing Day for ease, saw The Bees make if 4 points out of 6 as our kamikaziesque tailspin was arrested and Thomas Frank pulled back hard on the rudder with his revamped team formation. i.e. he made us climb. But with a trip to play-off chasing Birmingham City (not a typo) next for Brentford will the return to more positive results continue ?

Fair dues to Garry Monk’s Blues. There’s no doubting we’ve enjoyed the lion’s share of points and jokes at the expense of Birmingham City on the pages over the last few years. How they swerved relegation to League One last campaign was a miracle akin to Christmas. There were the 7(seven) goals scored with none against. Four top ten finishes in the Championship for the Bees – each one above Garry Monk(/ insert name of previous incumbents) Blues. Then there was ‘that’ ten times better thing. 

Yes – I know Blues’ fans like to point it out as some form of ‘obsession’ every time it gets mentioned but football fans have long memories. As was written in the programme notes for Bolton, “The likes of Martin Rowlands, 10 times better Harlee and of course Mr. Moose’s own withering attacks on us have still not been forgotten.” . Even Dean Smith’s proclamation after his Aston Vila threw it away against Leeds United, causing him too declare that “From the celebrations, I thought they’d won the title” brought back found memories of Russell Slade after Leyton Orient had capitulated in that famous promotion clash six years ago. His own sour grapes are as much part of Griffin Park’s rich football folklore tapestry as the dog on the pitch, the hand grenade, badges being kissed or Mark Burridge exploding in the commentary box as Jota sliced through the Blackburn Rovers frontline… and midfield… and defence and goalkeeper… As magnificent as the time Stuart Dallas scored the best. goal. ever. at Craven Cottage.

View from the stand - Stuart Dallas celebrates doing that thing.....

Stuart Dallas – one of THE Brentford moments

And so the somewhat meandering point is that whilst Harlee will no doubt continue to warrant a mention from time to time, don’t think there’s anything ‘exclusive’ about it. Don’t think it’s any form of singling out a player or a club. A club who we’ve more than held our own against in recent times. It’s just one of the many comedy moments to have graced our footballing experience that will no doubt be mentioned again and again over the years.

Although I do so this time around with some trepidation. One can only acknowledge current form and results where Birmingham City are flying. They’re up to 7th (seventh) in the table and know that a win could see them leap-frog Frank Lampard’s Derby County (TM). Brentford, on the other hand…. Well, we all know what has happened since being named as joint favourites to win the Championship back in October alongside Leeds United. The bookies never get it wrong, supposedly. I’d imagine there were a few red faces at the Leo Vegas Christmas party this time around when reviewing that one.

Yet, yet, yet. Form can be temporary. Good or bad. The brakes are now on and the team set up has changed. We have the Championship’s leading scorer in Neal Maupay – a player who buried an absolute beauty at Bristol City. Mind you, it needed to be after the opening goal we conceded. A neon highlighter pen would have done a better job at being a a reliable marker as Eros Pisano was given all the time and room he needed to give the hosts an early lead. Just about the only positive to be taken from that one was that it wasn’t followed by a second within a few minutes – something else that has looked like becoming a trademark of our play in recent months. Instead, it was a case of start again and earn a hard fought point.

I take umbrage at Thomas’s post match assessment that “The header for Bristol City’s goal would have gone wide if it had not hit a defender and overall I thought we deserved to win the game”. We’ve done ur piece on ‘deserving’ many, many times over the years. It was a favourite of Dean Smith’s and a dangerous trap to fall into. Moreso, when ignoring the obvious shortcoming around the goal – every man and his dog could see that with all 11 players back in the box to defend a corner, allowing an opposition player to remain totally unmarked is nothing short of shambolic. Something that was also picked up on when  defending a free-kick at Hull City.

Screenshot 2018-12-28 at 09.26.04

Sky cameras caught how bad this one was

Still, the defence shortcomings have looked to be addressed. The switch to three centre backs to support the pressing full backs is one which has come at the same time as our switch in form. No bad thing either, given today’s game won’t be easy. By any stretch of the imagination. Garry Monk has his team eating up the table for fun and they are where they are on absolute merit. To make matters worse for us, Jota is back after injury lay off and whilst we all know he’ll look to cut in from the right wing, he is a luxury I’d still love to have available.

The bottom line is that going in to this one, Birmingham City are favourites. They’re the team on form. They’re the team gunning for promotion at present. They’re the team the bookies see as the one with most chance of picking up three points. If they do, it’ll be the first time since November 2016 that they’ve recorded a notch in the ‘W’ column when up abasing Brentford. 

That in itself will be reason alone to go for it once more. If Thomas Frank wanted to do anything to win over any doubters on the terrace, then three points on Saturday (I think) will be the perfect way to do it. 

DPE3B5xW0AE7Fz4

Feliz Navidad

Nick Bruzon