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On a day of incredible shocks, have we found a new ‘best worst ever’ ?

19 Feb

With no Brentford action over this weekend there’s no real Championship action to talk about today. Instead, there’s a flashback to yesterday’s column looking at the FA Cup and the best/worst of football films where, it would be fair to say, one has most definitely got away. First up though, Lincoln City and their incredible FA Cup win at Burnley.

What can you say? It was the archetypal cup tie and a captivating game from start to finish. Andre Gray and James Tarkowski were amongst those left looking very much non-league (please, stop sniggering) whilst Joey Barton’s second half collapse in the box was a piece of football acting so bad it made When Saturday Comes, one of the films under discussion in yesterday’s column,  seem positively Shakespearean in comparison.

Here’s hoping the FA take some retrospective action. It was a terrible example for any young children who may have been watching etc etc etc and a chance missed by the BBC. Whilst, rightly, focussing on Lincoln’s incredible triumph Barton was mostly glossed over. Whilst he was discussed, his antics would be described on Match of the Day as “Just Joey’s game” – see also, his shove in the face of Terry Hawkridge.

It may be “Just Joey’s game”. It’s not the FA’s, though. Old habits seemingly just can’t go away as the whole sorry performance was glossed over. No irony has been lost today with this tweet subsequently resurfacing.

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What a performance from Lincoln. How nice to be talking about City rather than Red Imps of Gibraltar on these pages. And what a disaster for Burnley. If only they’d played like that when Marinus took Brentford to Turf Moor last season. Come to think of it, the way we played that day, we’d still have gone down .

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Turf Moor last season. Any excuse to crowbar this one in – love that unicorn

It was a wonderful cup upset with another one appearing on these very pages. One of those rare instances where yours truly has actually called something correctly. It won’t last although, whilst I’m on something of a streak, let’s tempt fate and back Brentford to beat Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night.

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The other topic under discussion yesterday was the portrayal of football on screen. The good, the bad and those efforts which crossed over into both camps. Yet one was missed. One I’d never, ever heard of yet now seen, am giving serious consideration to tracking down if the trailer is anything to go by.

Big thanks to supporter Marc Loewenthal for sharing, this : Hot Shot.

Coming soon. To a betamax near you

The 94 second trailer features, amongst other things : temporarily washed up Pay-lay (that’s Pele to you and I), an up and coming hot head,  an 80’s synth pop soundtrack and a training montage.

A training montage ! A. Training. Montage. In a trailer ! How good must this film be that they can afford to offer up this most iconic of sequences in the teaser sequence?

With a script that seems hammier than Joey Barton’s acting, the producers may aswell have just lifted it straight from the bucket marked , “One was a cop who played it straight. The other wasn’t afraid to bend the rules to get results. Yet, somehow, this unlikely pairing could just be the ones to crack the case and save the day

Nice one , Marc. And thank you.

Good luck Lincoln City in Sunday’s draw. As for me, I’m looking forward to Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday.

Can Brentford bounce back?

Nick Bruzon

Honours for Alan and Andre as a star is born

18 Apr

Alan Judge. He may have been missing from Saturday’s draw with Bristol City but he was the centre of attention on Sunday as Brentford went head to head with Burnley and  Fulham to see which club would have the honour of their man being selected as ‘Championship player of the season’. With the Judge up against former Bee Andre Gray and Cottager Ross McCormack in the final three, the winner was announced on Sunday evening.

It was a tremendous honour for Alan even to be named in this group. From the outside looking in, Brentford have failed to match last seasons heights and limped into mid-table after losing huge swathes of that squad. We’ve had to rebuild the team (and the pitch) yet Alan has been consistently brilliant.

The leading number of assists in the division is matched with his being top scorer for the Bees. Selection for the Irish National team saw a very real chance of his playing in the Euro 2016 finals, until that awful leg break suffered last weekend.

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Would Alan run off with the award?

His being shortlisted for this award was fully deserved but, in the end, it was the goalscoring prowess of Andre Gray that was telling. Massive congratulations are due to Andre as he not only picked up where he left off last season but has gone even better with Burnley knocking on the door of the Premier League once more. Thanks in no small part to his ability in front of goal.

Hey, in part this award was earned at Griffin Park. Whilst his sale to Burnley seemed inevitable given all the talk over the summer, Andre did start the season as a Bee. Indeed, his two game cameo saw goals against Ipswich Town and Bristol City as Brentford made it 4 points from our opening 6.   The rest though, is history.

Well done Andre. Fully deserved and, I have no doubt, his career will only go on to bigger and better things. I can’t wait to see how he does in the top flight next season.

That said , there was still great news for Alan. Whilst he may have just missed out on ‘Championship player of the season’ he did make it in to ’ ‘Team of the Season’ . This new award names the 11 outstanding players (and a manager) across all three divisions of the Sky Bet Football League.

Just to show how tough this one was, only 6 of the 11 slots went to Championship players whilst fellow nominee Ross McCormack missed out on selection. Interestingly, the League website tells us that selection was made as “a national judging panel then chose the final Football Manager Team of the Season with Opta’s player statistics assisting”.

See? Stats aren’t all bad 🙂 And does this mean we’ll have our eyes on any of the below over the summer…..?

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The League team of the season

Ok. A few other things from the weekend. Firstly, Toumani. He’s only been with Leeds United for three months and now he’s scored again. Ironic enough he did it on his full debut after keeping us hanging for so long but to nab a second so soon is just rubbing salt into the wound. In the nicest possible sense.

Bob’s big giveaway, that ‘one-of-a-kind’ signed shirt, has officially rolled over to the Fulham game. Nobody picked ‘Hogan,90’ against Bristol City and so we all have another chance to ‘go again’. Bob made the announcement on Twitter after the game although what method he has up his sleeve to find this a home is, as yet, unknown….

And finally, everybody’s favourite club feature, Terrace Talk, was back. With a new host. Don’t panic, Jo Tilley isn’t on gardening leave but due to her role at the Fan Zone, video content manager Sean Ridley stood in as a one-off host.

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For one night only….

As the regular reader will know, I love Jo’s work on Terrace Talk but having seen this,  all I can say is…Wow!!

Was there genuine panic in her voice at the end when she told our host, “Don’t steal my job” before he went chasing a duck (literally rather than metaphorically). Whilst I can’t really comment on the quality, or lack of, amongst some of the interviewees, could Sean have found a new role for himself? Or are we just lucky enough to have not one but two roving reporters who would give Clem a run for his money?

On Tuesday night against Cardiff City, we find out.

Nick Bruzon

Time for a few people to man up ?

9 Mar

Well that couldn’t have worked out much worse for Brentford last night had we tried. With the Bees game at Hull City P-P due to the Tigers’ FA Cup commitments, all we could do was sit back and watch as Rotherham United beat Middlesbrough, Charlton and MK Dons picked up a point in their own relegation choke off and the gap to the bottom three closed to eight points . Over in West London rivals QPR beat play off bound Derby County to make further ground over the Bees and put them in good spirit for the weekend. Hey, at least Fulham lost at home to table topping Burnley.

Ah, table topping Burnley for whom Andre Gray did it again. The division’s leading scorer grabbed the winner for the Clarets, taking his own personal total to 22 for the season and showing the Bees just what we’ve missed out on. With James Tarkowski also on the bench last night, don’t under estimate just how strong we were last season and what the consequences of our chosen transfer policy have been on the pitch.

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View from the terrace – Andre used to get goals for us

We didn’t punch above our weight then but deserved what we got. On merit. The same can be said for this season where a succession of head coaches and multiple high profile departures (who have largely, on the evidence so far, been poorly replaced) has seen us sliding down the table with a series of woeful performances over 2016.

This calendar year alone has seen us lose 8 out of the 11 ‘competitive’ games we’ve featured in, although there was nothing competitive about the performances at Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton or home to Walsall and Charlton. As for the Burnley game, had it been a boxing match then the referee would have stopped it by halftime for Brentford’s own safety.

With Rotherham winning three games in a row and Charlton making it 4 points out of 6, is safety still the guaranteed position that we’ve been taking for granted as our form has continued to fall apart ? 5 defeats out of the last 6 in the league could easily become 6 out of 7, and then a potential 5 points off relegation, if we don’t pull our fingers out. And fast.

Short of Alan McCormack (just back from fitness) and Scott Hogan (surely far too soon) Dean Smith has tried just about every combination of players available to him. So what does he do and, more importantly, how does he motivate? One would presume Macca will be brought in for QPR to add some steel and experience to our midfield but, other than that, the team has no choice but to pick itself. The only question being who fills the role of ineffectual striker – Hofmann, Djuricin or Vibe. And I’m sorry but with only 12 goals in 2016 and Alan Judge miles out in front as our leading scorer, it IS a serious concern .

Look, I don’t want to be over critical. I want to enjoy the derby on Saturday and a win at Loftus Road but this is now the time for Phil, Rasmus and Dean to properly ‘man up’. They’ve selected these players and pick this team. There must be something about them that we just aren’t seeing a on a regular basis.

Is it the motivational factor behind closed doors? Is it a case of too many cooks? Is it the formation ? Is it the lack of experienced heads out there? Aside from Jake, Harlee, the Judge and David Button this is a new squad.

Or is it simply that no squad could cope with losing the likes Jota, Grigg, Gray, Odubajo, Dallas, Tarkowski. Diagouraga and even, dare I say it, Douglas?

Either way, something needs to change and fast. Otherwise, the Bees will find themselves sucked towards the relegation battle whether we think we’re too good for it or not . Personally, I think we’ll dodge it but I’d be a much happier man if we can get the win at QPR and start to put all this behind us.

Three points and Dean Smith will be the best thing since sliced bread (Warburtons?). Lose and in the eyes of many he could be toast.Longer term, of course, there are huge questions to be answered about recruitment – in and out. For now though, could we just all focus on the job at hand?

The 1-0 victory at Griffin Park was one of the highlights of the season. Oh, to be able to do it again on Saturday…

SWIFT Brentford QPR

October at Griffin Park – could we do it again ?

Nick Bruzon

Are we stronger after the transfer window closes?

2 Feb

The transfer window has closed. Burnley got their man (one of them, at least), Alan Judge remains a Bee (for now) but no real inward activity for Brentford. Given our considered approach and much-derided model, that shouldn’t come as any real surprise. But is it the right move?

To be quite honest, one always feels a pang of disappointment when we have no news about inward signings. Such is the way we have been conditioned in recent seasons to accept a flurry of crazy, last-minute action. Instead, we also saw several untried names depart and the return of one player from a loan.

For me, and given where we are, there are several points to draw from yesterday.

First up, and being realistic, we aren’t going to leave the Championship this season. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it to happen (upwards) but I think even the most optimistic of Brentford fans would accept this is as long a shot as a Nick Proschwitz hat trick. We’re 7(seven) points off a very strong play-off zone whilst current form isn’t great (4 wins in our last 13 games).

Instead, this will now be a period of consolidation. Which of the new boys can cut it and where will we really need to strengthen? Yoann Barbet and Maxime Colin have already shown they are class whilst Ryan Woods is getting better each game. Will the likes of Andy Gogia, Philipp Hofmann, Konstantin Kerschbaumer and Josh McEachran (who has also been in the rise in recent weeks after a disappointing start) be able to match the aforementioned players?

Don’t forget we have the untapped potential of Lewis Macleod still to be seen in first team action whilst record signing Andreas Bjelland and striker Scott Hogan continue their recovery from long term injury.

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Yoann Barbet has certainly made an impression recently

What is of infinitely more importance is what we do over the much longer summer window that, this season at least, ran from June to September. Will Alan Judge be sold? Will Harlee get a new contract? Will we look to extend the likes of Jake Bidwell and David Button? Will we continue the shredding of the previous squad? Will we be looking up to the Barclays Premier League or down to the Ryman equivalent?

Yesterday’s article included the quote made by Rasmus Ankersen back in September, saying : “The goal is to get stronger after each transfer window.”

Are we stronger now? Well, in terms of current playing strength I’d have to disagree. Although not as ruthlessly as some might expect.

No squad could afford to lose the likes of Jota, Tarkowski or Toums and honestly say it was stronger. The flipside of this is that the emergence of Max Colin and Yoann Barbet in recent weeks, who we hadn’t really seen much of in the early season, has been like getting two new players. Josh has definitely improved and we have the potential of those three long-term injuries to look forward to.

Financially, we’re in a better position for sure although officially nobody knows how much we’ve been paid for anybody this season. The question will be how, if at all, will this be invested at the end of the season?

As for James Tarkowski, the sorry story comes to an end with the player certainly seeming pleased with his move. Nobody could knock what he did in his time at Griffin Park and it was a shame it all ended in such confusing, angry and emotional circumstances. You can’t knock anybody for wanting to be close to a sick family member and, perhaps, it’s best that’s where we should leave that side of things.

The only other point to make on the subject is Burnley – what was with the official ‘signing photo’ ? The brilliance of his shadow mullet, the 1970’s veneer effect boardroom and awkward pose have not been missed.

As for our lower key departures, Josh Laurent is already at Hartlepool whilst Ryan Williams has been snapped up by football’s greatest tweeters – Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Few could dispute that Montell Moore has had his own issues and so, perhaps, a fresh start is best for all. Time will tell on that one.

I must admit, I did have to perform a double take when the message flashed up that R.Williams had left Brentford. Were the Scots looking for somebody to help build them a new stadium? Were their fans voicing too many opinions and so in need of being patronised? Instead, it was simply the departure of our much touted free-kick specialist.

Then again, with Alan Judge and Sam Saunders in the side, he never had a chance.

Nick Bruzon

 

Monday’s statement

25 Jan

What can you say? James Tarkowski has today (Monday) opened up about his absence from the team against Burnley by issuing a deeply personal statement regarding what is one of the most harrowing of family situations to find one’s self in.

Like many Brentford supporters, when I heard the news this afternoon my immediate reaction was one of both shock and sympathy. Indeed, having been through a similar experience myself in recent weeks my thoughts are only with him at this toughest of times.

Moreso, given the choice of language and words in regards to the news announced just prior to the Burnley game. For that I can only apologise. The subsequent context of today’s statement paints a somewhat different picture of events.

Given the announcements made both before and after that game, followed by a period of radio silence, many fans were upset and angry. Certainly I was and, like other supporters, vented frustration following what we’d been told in both the original club statement and Dean Smith’s post match comments. Equally, like other supporters I know that I’m not alone in now wishing we’d all done things differently.

James’s full statement is on the clubsite. He tells us how in the build up to those events, “I was open and up front about this with the Club, who were sympathetic and said they’d work with me and my agent to try to reach a solution which worked well for the Club whilst giving me the possibility to move to closer to my mum

Football is an emotive subject. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Given the public support of Jota, I wish the club has just mentioned an ‘injury’ or ‘bug’ rather than the somewhat contradictory sounding talk of disciplinary action, transfer bids, refusal to play and trying to broker a move.

Frankly, it doesn’t really seem to matter anymore.

Nick Bruzon  

’26’ , Jota, Beesotted and B.U. provide contrasting emotions

21 Jan

This week really has been interminable. The spate of 3 games in 6 days that culminated in our number 26 having his hissy fit prior to the Burnley game on Friday , seem nothing but a distant memory. The trip to Preston and follow up with Leeds United still seem an eternity away whilst, in between all of that of course, Jota has returned to Spain with Eibar.

Whilst the Jota move is a loan, part of me can’t help but think we’ve seen the last of the talismanic Spaniard. 18 months back in his homeland, with the addition of family life thrown in, could be a huge draw and prove too much for a return to TW8. Then again, if the Bees are pushing for the top flight (or even there already, you never know…) could that be the additional catalyst required ?

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Here’s hoping we welcome Jota back

The club have only ever shown themselves as honourable when dealing with players in tricky situations – see also Scott Hogan as a recent example and his contract extension, despite being gripped by a career threatening injury. Their release of Jota shows that same understanding and, one hopes, we all reap the rewards of this when it comes to the start of the 2017/18 season.

And the reason for further mention of Jota is twofold. Firstly, this whole business with Talksport shock-jock Adrain Durham (I always thought that was the alter ego of children’s entertainer ‘The Great Soprendo’ – kids, ask your dads).

I’ve deliberately not given him the oxygen of publicity these last few days following his indefensible, erm, defence of Brentford centre back number 26. Beesotted have nailed it, anyway, but for me it’s left a somewhat desperate taste in the mouth.

Secondly, the contrast with the way Jota has handled himself still just feels too raw. Moreso, when pictures of the still popular Spaniard (I see Bees fans already planning trips to see Eibar take on Barcelona in March) have now appeared in his new kit.

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Jota – at Eibar (for now)

It’s going to be an interesting dilemma as to what Dean Smith, Matthew Benham, Phil Giles and Rasmus do in regards to the centre back situation. Cash in or let him rot? Or could there even be a Trottaesque second chance?

I loved it when Marcello came back. Despite how sensitive everybody, quite understandably, felt about the situation after ‘that penalty’, here was a man with a point to prove. And boy, did he prove it ! With the Italian just this week signing for Serie A club Sassuolo there’s no chance we’ll be seeing him again any time soon but I still have fond memories about what he did at Griffin Park.

Could Harlee’s partner achieve the same status?

No. In a word.

The only thing he’ll do is rebrand himself as the new Martin Rowlands. Too much damage has been done. At least with Trotta it was ‘heat of the moment’ and the chance of glory being seized by a young striker. This was cold, calculated and deliberate.

Talking to Gerhard, landlord at The Griffin on Tuesday, he put forward the suggestion of naming him as a substitute against Leeds. Unused, of course. Make him warm up pre-game and walk out with the team. Walk across the pitch and even have to run up and down the touchline. See how he and the fans react just so he can truly understand the depth of feeling in what has happened. But don’t bring him on.

Could we see this? Allowing him to take any part in playing action will be the worst message possible to send out. What happens next could be very telling.

And finally, yesterday saw the ten year anniversary of something fantastic. Not the release of the first Arctic Monkeys album but a decade since Bees United took control of the club from Ron Noades. Again, a subject I chose not to write about but for totally different reasons.

Having served on the BU board at the time that members agreed to let Matthew Benham assume ownership, it felt a bit awkward now jumping on top of their own moment and good news. Besides, as with Beesotted on striking centre backs, the club have done a much better job than I could ever hope to do so – as anybody with even half an eye on social media would testify.

So instead I’ll simply offer my congratulations and huge thanks to David Merritt, Donald Kerr, the rest of the BU board and of course the members – all of whom have played their part in keeping this club alive in one of our darkest hours.

I really hope people understand how hard everyone worked to get this club on the path to where it is today. I hate to think what would have happened without this action.

It’s a shame some of our playing staff don’t share the same attitude towards this club.

Bees United, THANK YOU !!!

As Tarka’s the Rotter is it adios to Jota and Toums?

16 Jan

The morning after the night before. Burnley have still beaten Brentford 3-1 after playing us not so much off the park but into next week during the most shambolic first half I can recall in some time. The second half remains one of top- drawer excitement and a hugely enjoyable atmosphere as Alan Judge and the boys began an improbable fight back that, in the end, wasn’t to be. And, having slept on it, words to describe James Tarkowski’s actions still fail me.

I wrote a column when I got home last night to describe my thoughts on the player and the situation. It was an angry one – although not quite up to the recent FCM piece – and it’s here if you want to read it. In the cold light of day, has anything changed? No, with the exception of fellow central defender Andreas Bjelland.

Just to clear up any potential confusion, I can only apologise if anybody feels that the weak pun in the headline was a sleight at him. Andreas has suffered a horrendous injury and James is one of the players we’re looking to help in his place at centre back. Personally I felt a bad pun, that fitted the scenario, would be the best way of conveying what most of us are probably thinking. I could have gone much stronger but, then again, writing at 1am following an emotional night has probably impaired that decision ! Certainly one that would have been written differently with a bit more consideration.

Having given it some thought over night, my over riding feeling is one of being tremendously let down. Alan Judge and Toumani Diagouraga have both been the subject of high profile bids – in the case of the former from Burnley themselves – yet both continue to give their all for the Bees. Indeed, Toumani may well have played his last game if the gift he gave one supporter is any sort of indication. ..

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One train passenger got more than he bargained for

Yet neither player has stooped to this level. There’s nothing much you can really say on the matter. We’d all love Matthew Benham to hold out on selling him but, sadly, the financial demands of Championship football and FFP rules means it will be unlikely we can afford to leave a wheelbarrow full of cash on the training pitch. I’d love to be proved wrong on that front and hope , for once, principals would triumph. However, given that, barring a miracle, Tarks has played his last game for Brentford can we afford not to sell him just to prove a point ?

What a sad end to a great Griffin Park career. From hero to zero in the space of a day.

The other hero who sounds as though he has played his last game at Griffin Park for some time is Jota. Reports doing pretty much all the rounds suggest that he is on his way back to Spain to play for Eibar on an 18 month loan.

Certainly, Dean Smith has alluded to the hugely popular player having some personal issues at the moment and so, whilst this would be a huge loss for Brentford if confirmed, we can only wish him the very best. Of course, we all hold out hope of seeing him in a Bees shirt once more but I fear the worst.

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It looks unlikely to be Jota in the 90th minute any more

So what else did we learn from last night?

Well, despite popularity levels on a par with James Tarkowski (at least, amongst the Brentford faithful) Joey Barton can take a mean free kick. If Burnley’s opening goal, curled in from 25 yards by Scott Arfield was a stunner, this wasn’t too far behind Whilst it hurts to say anything nice about the former Loftus Road man and outspoken numpty, you can’t deny the technique used in his strike. Fair play to the Turf Moor dead ball coach.

Sam Saunders ran his heart out, as did Alan Judge. One good thing to come out of the last week might just be the renaissance of the ever popular wing wizard (some would argue it had never gone). I’m sure he’ll get another run out at Preston next week – and no bad thing.

Brentford are still struggling to score goals. We’ve managed just 4 in 6 games whilst Dean Smith can’t seem to buy a win (not literally, that would be a breach of regulations). The Bees are still in a great position, moreso given the start to the campaign, but I really hope the rest of the campaign doesn’t fizzle out into a fug of gloom and nonchalance as we slither down the table.

Yet when this team do play, they still look stunning. Talking to one New Road observer in the pub afterwards, she noted how the first half had seen us play like a team that would struggle to even complete a dot to dot, let alone a pass to each other. The flipside being that the second period saw us turn it on for one of the most exciting periods of play we’ve seen in a long while.

And finally, Burnley ‘keeper Tom Heaton. Or, more specifically, his buttocks. “Stunning” was the politest of many references to a player that one terrace wag described as “The Kim Kardashian of the 18 yard box”. Truly, a rotund derriere that was the butt of many jokes from the Ealing Road.

On a night where Tarky was talking out of his backside, let’s just hope we can put all this business behind us.

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Nick Bruzon

Tarky – Our new Bjelland

16 Jan

Oh, the irony. A game featuring Joey Barton in which the former QPR man was only the second biggest w*nker on show. Burnley beating Brentford 3-1 (and well played on that front – seriously) was but the mere sideshow as former Bee James Tarkowski gave his very best demonstration of how to lose friends and alienate people.

What a colossal wand. His pre-match hissy fit and refusal to play against the club so publically courting him have instantly graduated the player formally known as ‘Tarks’ to Martin Rowlands levels of popularity.Never have I known such anger, frustration and incredulation amongst the Griffin Park faithful. It was disappointment on a level approaching a post match article about the development squad.

For a player under contract, and whom we have turned down a bid for, to then refuse to play smacks whole heartedly of the last time he has pulled on the red and white.

To be honest, having taken things to that level he probably doesn’t give a monkey anyway. With agents pouring money and sweet nothings into his ear, along with the prospect of a move North, offending his employers and supporters was probably the least of his concerns.

Well, James. This one’s for you. Call me Kevin Keegan but I tell you this. I’d love it. I’d absolutely love it if Mr. Benham leaves you to rot in the reserves. You’re under contract and so we don’t, actually, have to sell you.

Sure, the lorry load of cash that Sean Dyche will now have to drive up to Griffin Park would be nice, but sometimes principals are the better part of valour. You’ll never be able to play for Brentford again, that’s for sure.

I just hope Matthew is in a position where he can really tell you to do one. Five months of doing laps around the youth team training pitch would be a wonderful return for this complete slap in the face to those supporters – young and old – whose shirts bear your name.

The game tonight went to the deserved team. Burnley produced three class goals and, being honest, we were lucky that’s all it was. Brentford put in a complete first half no show as the visitors were allowed to run riot. How Andre Gray didn’t join the scorers (or The Bees were able to contain it to just three) we’ll never know. Yet Alan Judge’s goal, early in the second half, raised the roof and gave us hope that the impossible may just happen.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Whilst the follow up display was as good as the first half was bad, by that point we’d already been fatally holed below the waterline. The play-offs now look nothing more than a wistful flight of fancy whilst, with a fifteen point gap, relegation is surely too impossible to comprehend.

Instead, it simply remains to hope we hang on to all our transfer targets and eventually choose, under our terms, to sell Tarkowski to Wigan Athletic or some other such Northern non-entity.

Again, well played Burnley. You thoroughly deserved your win and no amount of Tarkowski related frustration will change that.

The alternate post-match exit music of Jessie J and her chart topping ‘Price Tag’ single was a very telling choice. Lyrics of “It’s not about the money, money, money. We don’t need your money, money, money,” were, I am sure, anything but coincidence.

As for the Bees, the next few days are going to make very interesting viewing indeed.

Tarkowski post Bristol City

Tarks – picture taken months ago rather than last night

Nick Bruzon

A goal scoring hero returns for TV clash

15 Jan

Brentford entertain Burnley this evening. On the one hand it is a battle for the promotion play-offs and a chance to get one over Sean Dyche but there is more to it than just that. Bees fans will, no doubt, be hoping our boys can teach him and Andre Gray a footballing lesson. Many remain unhappy about the net result of the striker’s sale whilst the unsettling rumours surrounding James Tarkowski and Alan Judge have been as welcome on the terrace as a visit from ‘the phantom farter’ (if you’ve ever stood in the vicinity, you’ll know). Chuck former QPR employee and motormouth Joey Barton into the mix aswell and, I think it would be safe to say, we might have quite an atmosphere tonight.

Will Tarks and Judge play? One would only assume so. I’ll be furious if either is missing. That said, Sean Dyche can’t be blamed for trying to both acquire and unsettle the players just ahead of the game. Dean Smith confirmed yesterday that the Burnley boss had put in a bid for our leading scorer and player of the season to date.

We saw the same thing happen with Andre Gray just before we played at Turf Moor earlier on the season. Dyche finally got his man with Brentford happy to sell for a lorry load of cash despite his scoring 2 from 2 against both Ipswich Town and Bristol City. The Bees very much missed his cutting edge in that game at Burnley although, equally, even with Dean Holdsworth, Robert Taylor and Lloyd Owusu up front I think we’d have struggled to score in that one.

As was noted in the Last Word at the time, Marinus seemed obsessed with ball retention and pass completion – to the point that out 62% domination saw the ball rarely cross the half way line as time and again it went across the defence and out to the midfield before heading back to David Button.

Hanging on to the ball at the back is all well and good, and we did that part very well, but the lack of any imagination, movement, cut and/or thrust when we tried to take it forward was, ultimately, what did for us.”

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The Bees at Turf Moor – as our pitch looked like a ploughed field, theirs was magnificent

So can we do any better in front of the Sky cameras tonight? It’s true that Burnley look in ominously good form with their 5-0 win on Tuesday night. Likewise, their mini slump has ended with them still sitting in an excellent league position. Whilst they’ve only won 3 times in the last 10, they’ve picked up 10 points out of a possible 15. Andre Gray leads the divisional scoring charts on 16, having now broken clear of a chasing pack that includes our own Alan Judge.

Yet we have our own incentives to win as noted at the top of this column. Likewise, three points will lift us up to 9th and within touching distance of that play-off zone once more. I’d imagine Sergi Canos will start this one, having moved back to the bench in midweek, although I wouldn’t be upset to see Sam Saunders hang on to his place. Personally, I thought the wing wizard gave a very good account of himself against Middlesbrough.

As ever, the main question is going to be one of where the goals will come from. Is Marco Djuricin ready to start? Will The Hoff be given a chance from the off? Or does Lasse Vibe retain his place? I have no clue as to which way Dean Smith will jump but, personally, would stick with Lasse given the current options.

Which, as I put the industrial sized crowbar away, talk of strikers brings us onto tonight’s guest of honour – Lloyd Owusu – who is being welcomed into the Brentford ‘Hall of Fame’. Signed by owner/chairman/manager Ron Noades from Slough Town in 1998, his impact was immediate. 25 goals followed, including the Third Division title decider against Cambridge United. The denouement of that season saw the final game of the season become a battle to be Champions at the Abbey Stadium and Lloyd was the right man in the right place to help Brentford bag the honours.

Leading scorer 3 times in his 4 seasons, he stayed with us right up to the end of the Steve Coppell era and that play off final (spoiler alert – we lost) at the Millennium Stadium against Stoke City. It was a sad end to a great career at Griffin Park and more so as, out of contract, he left for Sheffield Wednesday.

Three years later there was better news for Bees as the hero returned. Martin Allen brought him back to Griffin Park for a further two years. 2005-06 saw him bag a further 14 goals in 42 games that resulted in another play off appearance – we lost. Injury blighted his final season but, by that stage, the legend had been born.

The arms raised high in the air and the chants of “Ooh Ooh Ooh” from the terrace have become an iconic image, and sound, for those who frequented Griffin Park at the time. Equally, Peter Gilham going into meltdown every time he launched into a lung busting scream of “Owusuuuuuuu!

Here’s hoping for some more tonight.

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Lloyd Owusu – back at Griffin Park tonight

Nick Bruzon

And now Rangers join the mix as Brentford staff respond to rumours

8 Jan

Amidst the glut of Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley related transfer rumours currently doing the rounds at Brentford it was one out of leftfield, from Rangers, that had Bees fans talking yesterday. The BBC were among the news outlets to confirm that Mark Warburton had made a bid, which has been rejected, for supporter’s player of the year Toumani Diagouraga.

But first those longstanding stories about Alan Judge and James Tarkowski were finally confirmed by Dean Smith in an interview on the club’s YouTube channel. Whilst I don’t for one second believe anybody of any significance pays any attention to this column, fair play to the media team for putting the rumours which we’ve all read about direct to the Head Coach. And you can see this on the video, where he also expands on the Jota situation, below.

Dean Smith speaks

As mentioned in Tuesday’s column, I really didn’t think that was our style (discussing rumours up front). Yet Dean confirmed, “We’ve had bids for Alan Judge and James Tarkowski but we’ve turned both of them down” although didn’t go so far as to confirm these were Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley. And the reason, “We’re in a position where we don’t want to sell our players at the moment…we want to keep our better players at the football club”.

So all the right noises and just what supporters would hope to hear. Sentiments echoed, likewise, by co-director of football Phil Giles on the latest Beesotted podcast – which you can find here . Stay for the full hour twenty experience or jump straight to Phil’s piece 11 minutes into the playback. Either way, very well worth a listen and hats off to Dave and Billy for nabbing another exclusive. Phil comes across very well whilst the probing questions certainly bear a considered listen.

As for Toumani, well it was no doubt Mark Warburton would be hoping to take some former players to Rangers. Indeed, Warbs has already signed up former golden boy Harry Forrester after his jumping ship for the dream of Championship football with Doncaster quickly turned into a nightmare.

But the bid to lure Toumani sees a significant step up in Mark’s intent, given this a player who is still a regular in a Brentford team pushing for the Premier League play offs. Was the £100,000 bid, which of course was rejected, just the first salvo in a bidding war to lure the ever popular midfielder.

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Toumani, Sam, Buzz and Buzzette. Bees for years and massively popular

Whilst there’s no doubt we have a huge selection in the middle of the park, Toumani is surely one of the first names on the teamsheet, around whom the others fit. If nothing else, there’d be huge disappointment if he leaves – for Rangers or elsewhere – prior to scoring a goal.

What happens next is going to be a very interesting test of the club’s ambition versus the obvious lure presented by a lorry load of cash. Whilst I’m just the numpty on the terrace rather than any insider, I’m not that stupid as to realise that every player does have his price. Indeed, this is something Phil discusses on that Beesotted interview.

Are we prepared to fight for our players – as seems to be the intent from the first round of bids? Or is this simply just a case of playing the waiting game? With the transfer window remaining open for the best part of another four weeks, there’s simply no reason to jump at the first bid – if that is our long term goal.

My own personal feel for all of this is that at least one of these three will leave before Jim White declares the window as officially slammed shut. If nothing else, the financial rewards for playing top-flight football, with buckets of TV money sloshing around, do help compensate some of this initial investment. As long as the bidding club do then make the ‘promised land’, of course.

Dean Smith did acknowledge an element of rotation will be in effect on Saturday. This works for him in potentially camouflaging any sales we may be considering. Tuesday night against league leaders Middlesbrough, a game where surely your first choice XI need to start, will be a very different and interesting selection.

Until then, despite all the speculation and opinion, there’s nothing any of us can do to stop or influence matters. Alan Judge will leave the Bees at some point in his career as, I’d suspect, will Toums, Tarks and most of this team. Let’s just hope it isn’t until the summer time, at the least.

Despite our slow start to the campaign, this team is tearing up the blindside. I’d love to see it given at least another six months to see what we can do. Will money talk or will we hold it altogether?

The next few days could prove to be extremely ‘squeaky bum’ time for those wanting to hang on to our current squad.

Nick Bruzon