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Stock up on the popcorn. Wiggle into that butt-groove.

18 May

This Thursday is one of those special dates in our house. Very much a case of family time and one spent together, the fixture list has now thrown a potato skin into the works. With Brentford hosting Leeds United on Sunday, the requirements in that game will be dictated by what plays out tomorrow night. Everton look to secure their safety against Palace, 9th placed Leicester City (still in our sights) visit Chelsea and of course there’s the big one. Aston Villa v Burnley. One or more points for the Clarets will see them up to 17th and Leeds pushed back into the relegation zone with just one game to play. That game. Persuading Mrs. B. that the evening is best spent together on the sofa watching Burnley is going to be a big ask. 

I guess there’s the Fantasy Football card. At the last look I’m fairly certain she had Ollie Watkins in her team. Could the former Brentford man come back to haunt us and scupper the dream? Victory for Villa will see them overtake the Bees in our pursuit of the top ten although, for what its worth, Burnley were desperately unlucky on Sunday. The penalty awarded against them in the 1-0 defeat at Tottenham as ambiguous as they come. Their own fightback not quite enough. Then, Leeds United taking until the 92nd minute to finally level the scores delivered an even bigger kick to the unmentionables.

That was then, this is now. It’s been. It’s gone. It’s over. The table is what it is and Burnley are the ones who still have the upper hand. Burnley the ones with the ability to turn the screw and heap the pressure on Leeds. And Everton for that matter, given they’re still not safe after Brentford put in that fine, fine performance at the weekend.

An amazing game at Everton

So we’ve got big questions to ask going forward. Namely, “Do you fancy watching Villa-Burnley this evening?”   One would hope that the potential state it could leave the table in as we head towards Sunday’s season finale will be a sufficient draw to tempt even the most neutral of observers. The prospect of what may be on offer. What could occur. Which team may have the final stay in who goes and who stays simply too big to comprehend. Too tantalising a lure not to have an interest in what happens tomorrow night. A season which has gone all the way at the top (where Liverpool could still, theoretically, win the title), in the middle (with Brentford aiming for 9th) and in the relegation battle will finally deliver some answers. 

It has been amongst the most exciting on record and having the Bees playing our part has been the cherry on the icing on the cake. We’ll look back at some of our own highlights in Sunday’s programme column – whittling them down to a final ten was about as tough as it gets. Especially given number ten might even play out in front of our eyes there and then. Albeit we need Burnley to play their part. For what it’s worth Clive, I think they will. Thursday is going to be huge and I can’t wait to see how it leaves things. Hey – we may even get to watch it.

Prior to then, tonight sees the Brentford Player Of The Year awards. The ‘live show’ starting at 7pm and includes the supporter votes for both player of the year and goal of the season. For the record, mine went to David Raya and Yoanne Wissa (at West Ham) respectively. The former has been the key difference to us this season. Brentford with him and Brentford without him as discernible as night and day. 

What a moment at West Ham as Wissa leaves it late

Christian Norgaard and Rico Henry seem to be the favourites, going by what I read on social media, but whomever wins it will be thoroughly deserving. Rico, incidentally, going top of our season long game-by-game review following his own starman performance at Everton on Sunday. Christian, now uncatchable in having the most top five appearances. You can find that here.

Stock up on the popcorn.

Wiggle into that butt-groove.

There could be a lot of time spent on the sofa over the next few nights. Maybe in our house, too…..

Christian is well in the running for POTY

Nick Bruzon

Would you like salt with that ?

13 Mar

F*&k Brentford !! Ivan Toney has done it again. Not THAT, come on. Two more goals to add to the three scored last week at Norwich City made it another three points and Burnley crying all the way home. At least, their commentary team following a moment of saltiness to rival Russell Slade and his infamous ‘Celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup’ post match meltdown.

Another Premier League win  – inspired by a brace from that man Toney – saw Yoanne Wissa leading the post match celebrations. Freed From Desire blasting out from the tannoy sending everyone nuts. The outpouring of joy clear to all except, perhaps, the visitors.

It’s like they’ve won the Champions’ League” being the killer line in the video doing the rounds on social media that, perhaps, eclipses even Slade himself. Who’d have though such a thing was even possible yet here we were with a modern day Waldorf and Statler of the commentary world?      

One can, perhaps, understand the frustration. Burnley had set themselves up to not lose. Chances few and far between. Defence the priority. It almost worked, too. Five men across the back. Four across the middle. Two always sitting deep. It was turgid, if understandable, stuff. Our visitors trying to pick us off on the break and, to be fair, almost managing it with one effort from Jay Rodriguez that David Raya was happy to watch drift over and past him on to the cross bar. Well read that man. Errr, yes. That’ll do. 

To be fair to Raya, he was on his game when called upon but it was, ultimately, our attack that won the game. Christian Eriksen instrumental. Ivan Toney clinical. The ball from the former to pick out the later on the back stick just sublime. It was delivered over the Burnley behemoths and into the perfect space. Toney evading all markers to meet it perfectly. 85 minutes gone. 1-0 Brentford. Talks about worth the wait. All the effort. All the huff, puff and persistence finally culminating in the hugest cheer. Part relief. Part ecstasy. All awesome.

Chants of “The Bees are staying up” rung around Lionel Road. A few last minutes to hold on. To weather any storm or last push that may come. Instead, it was down the other end. Eriksen releasing Toney once more with the free-scoring forward ploughed over and through when clear in the box. Nathan Collins was shown straight red for his trouble. Number 26  – himself lucky to still be on the pitch after a number of questionable challenges – argued his team’s case but to no avail. The decision stood. The ball was placed on the spot. Ivan Toney did what Ivan Toney does. Back of the net ! 2-0 Brentford. Full time called immediately after. The celebrations that would so upset the Burnley commentators in full swing. Ivan, this morning, with his own beautiful retort.

A show of hands to see who woke up with ‘Freed From Desire’ stuck in their head this morning? Yes. Me too. Why not? We’re not stupid. The Premier League is a prize worth fighting for. Any win one worth celebrating. Moreso given the frayed nerves that had started to appear in certain quarters. Had Burnley managed to pull off their own win, then the pressure might have started to increase on Brentford. Instead, the win against Norwich City was followed up with another three points taken from another club who would have been desperate for, at least, a share of these given their own positioning. The Bees now in a much stronger position than eight days ago. Burnley will be praying Norwich City can do something at Elland  Road this afternoon when they take on a woeful Leeds United side. Really sucking them into the mix would be in everybody’s interest. For more than one reason. The GPG hinting at the hope we all have yet dare not speak. Imagine. Just imagine…..

Fair play. They were on fire. Also picking up on the fact that despite there only being three Premier League games yesterday, Brentford still managed to feature 7th (seventh) on Match Of The Day. That’ll be the Thursday night games for you. Or, perhaps we’ll just argue that they saved the best until last….

The praise for Ivan’s penalty technique – not to mention Christian Eriksen – voluminous. Brentford ‘official’ making the later their Man of the Match but did either feature in our ‘star man’ ranking? The post match debrief and look back at the game is up, now, and you can find that here.

For now, time to reflect on a job well done. A win is a win is a win. Whether it comes in the first or last minutes. Brentford have a new shape and a new look. Christian Eriksen is looking every bit the player we hoped he would be. Ivan Toney has made it five goals in two games. Twenty-six may well fins himself playing the football league next season although will, at least, be able to take consolation in being near his family.

Next up Leicester City. We can talk about that later in the week. For now, time to put the feet up and get that ear worm out of the head. If possible…

Nick Bruzon

Wins are like buses at the moment. Bees – Burnley debrief.

13 Mar

How could Brentford follow up last week’s win at Norwich City? Quite simply, go out and do it all again. This time, Burnley were the visitors. Memories of number 26 still living strong in the minds of Bees’ supporters. Christian Eriksen making his first home start. Ivan Toney with three goals to his name at Carrow Road, chomping at the bit to go and do it all over again.

Didn’t Brentford do it in style? A 2-0 defeat of a double-parked double-decker Burnley bus seeing three more points for the Bees and two more goals for that man Toney. We left it late but justice was ultimately done. As ever at this point, we ask who impressed? Who was the star man? Who is in line for our top performer of the season ?

And, as ever, the answers to all of those – not to mention a deeper look at the team performance – can be found here. Enjoy. And here’s to Leicester City next week…

Nick Bruzon

Who’s falling apart (again)? Is Chelsea off?

11 Mar

Questions. Questions. Questions. For a day where Brentford fans had to sit on the sidelines and wait the chance to follow up our defeat of Norwich with Saturday’s visit from Burnley, there was plenty going on. All the talk on social media was around Chelsea. With Roman Abramovich finally sanctioned (and his UK assets frozen) the club are able to continue playing but will not be allowed to sell any more tickets – amongst other special conditions. The other news of interest was Leeds falling apart. Again. New manager. Same result. A 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa puts the Elland Road club even closer to those bottom three places.  

Norwich, last Saturday.

First up, Chelsea. Its all a bit of a mystery what it means for Brentford fans. With the Bees due to visit Stamford Bridge in just a few weeks (April 2nd), ticket sales have gone on hold whilst clarity is sought from the Premier League as to what we can / can’t do. The statement out of ‘official’ was understandably nondescript, given as nobody has a clue. All sorts of theories are doing the rounds, ranging from full refunds for those who got tickets in the first tranche though those same individuals being allowed to attend as part of one of the final away contingents in the foreseeable. There was even, somewhat unlikely, talk of tickets being made available for free/ charity. One things for sure, regular sales are now stopped with immediate effect. 

The reaction from Blues’ fans was the usual polarising of opinion that is social media. Full support for the move versus full on rage about supporters being punished. Other being abused for daring to support what is now happening. For me, Clive, its the absolute right thing to do. Cripes – look out your window. Get your head out of your arse. Turn on the TV. The defence that ‘Abramovich isn’t making any money’ from Chelsea clearly ignoring the fact that he’d make dumper trucks full if choosing to sell off some / all of his assets. Regardless of your feelings about him as an individual, he has been targeted for a specific reason. His links to that maggot penised dickhead running the show in Russia. 

I’m no expert, but somebody really seems to be over-compensating

That’s it. End of. If it means we get our matchday experience pulled then boo-hoo. Of course I’d rather see Brentford play in person but should that fail to transpire then we’ll have to miss out in the context of the bigger picture. Besides, given Season Ticket holders are still able to attend Chelsea will retain a largely full house. Just less tourists and potentially no away support. All transfer activity has been suspended , their travel budget has been slashed and they might find themselves waking up next to Lenny Henry on overnight trips but they can still play. For now.

Shirt sponsors Three mobile have also asked for their brand to be removed from the shirt although that didn’t seem to happen in time for last night’s defeat of Norwich City.  More will, no doubt, become clear in the coming days.

As one observer looked to summarise it: They are stuck with Lukaku, but only season ticket holders will be booing him now.

Parking the bus may take on a new meaning for Chelsea

Elsewhere, Leeds United fell apart. Again. New manger Jesse Marsch followed up Saturday’s loss at Leicester City with a 3-0 home humping at the hands of Aston Villa. That’s six defeats in a row with 21 goals conceded over that period and only two scored. Those in the 2-4 reverse at home to Manchester United. All of a sudden, Saturday’s visit from Norwich City has the feel of a real relegation six-pointer with Marsch calling it a “version of a final”. This, something barely anybody would have considered at the start of the campaign but all of a sudden a very real prospect. With Watford also getting thumped last night (4-0 at Wolves), the two clubs in the bottom relegation slots are looking a long way from safety. Points in the bag very much better than games in hand, as we’ve been saying all season.

The big question being who is third favourite for the drop? Burnley currently have the box seat. Leeds and Everton have the anti-form. Of course, Brentford welcome Sean Dyche’s team this weekend. Our own victory over Norwich on Saturday left supporters in fine fettle. As much due to getting a win under the belt as the performances of Ivan Toney and, of course, Christian Eriksen. The Dane was simply magnificent. Ivan, ice cold with his finishing. Nerves of steel with his hat-trick put away in some style. 

Whilst I’m acutely aware that a win for Brentford will help Leeds out of their own predicament, it has to be all out for another three points to the Bees. Burnley have already confirmed they’ll be missing captain Ben Mee, meaning number 26 will be under more pressure. For Brentford, the team names itself unless there are any unexpected injuries. Whilst we have now lost the element of surprise, formation wise, that was so wonderful at Carrow Road the way that team played means more of the same has to be the only way forward. The difference that a switch to 4-3-3 made was evident to anyone who has been watching this team for more than three seconds. Sweeping attack. Playing on the front food. Laser-pointed delivery from Eriksen. It was a thing of beauty and now we get to show it off at home.

The world is a horrible place at the moment. Last weekend gave some much needed breathing space from the pressure. A chance to switch off from it all for a few hours and just enjoy football. Here’s to more of the same on Saturday.

Bring it on and see you there.

Norwich was a great chance to switch off and enjoy football for football’s sake

Nick Bruzon

Post match debrief. Clubs at the bottom have one L of a weekend.

8 Mar

Brentford got back to winning ways on Saturday with the 3-1 defeat of Norwich City at Carrow Road. Ivan Toney’s hat-trick just one of many talking points that included Christian Eriksen going the distance, a new look Bees’ formation and VAR coming to our aid on more than one occasion. All of which puts a spring in the step for Saturday’s game at home to Burnley. Sean Dyche’s team joining Watford, Everton and Leeds United with another ‘L’ to their name after the last of the results from the weekend fixtures (that 5-0 thumping administered to Everton by Spurs) have been counted.

As ever at this point, we take the opportunity to look at who shone for Brentford. Who was our star man in Norwich, who is a shoe-in for Burnley and who leads the overall chart to find our top performer? You can find the answers to all of those, here…. In the game week 28 review.

Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon  

New look Bees win after top, top performances from Eriksen and Toney.

6 Mar

My word – that was about as wonderful an afternoon as it gets on Saturday. Brentford came away from Norwich City with a 3-1 win under the belt and a whole host of talking points. The memory of last week against Newcastle well and truly exorcised whilst defeats for Leeds United, Burnley and then , on Sunday afternoon, Watford adding further pressure to that clutch of clubs at the wrong end of the Premier League. The Canaries rooted to the very bottom of that pile after a game they would have ear marked as eminently winnable saw Thomas Frank outsmart Dean Smith in his selections – both tactical and in choice of personnel.

Thomas won the tactical battle

First up, the formation. The reveal of the team at 2pm suggested it would be one last throw of the dice for three centre backs. Ajer, Pinnock and Jansson all being selected yet nothing could have been further from the truth. Kick-off saw Sergi Canos playing up top on the left rather than in the much anticipated right wing back role. Kris Ajer then slotting in to a more traditional right back position with Pontus and Ethan in the middle and Rico on the left. It was the formation so many fans have been crying out for – even if, for me Clive, Ajer should be a nailed on right sided CB rather than anything further out wide.

The other key change being the undroppable Mathias Jensen finally being relieved of his place in the starting XI. Christian Eriksen coming in for his first start in Brentford colours and didn’t he do well? With, by ‘well’, we mean amazingly so. He was truly magnificent. Norwich unable to get close whilst the BBC recorded his performance as seeing him with more touches (66) and more passes (44)   – of which he had more in the final third (16)  – than any team-mate. All this done over the course of almost 100 minutes of football. The expected substitution on the hour failing to materialise as he played the entirety of a game that ran to an additional 10 minutes of time added on over the course of both halves.

Thomas choosing not to bring a knife to a gun fight was a selection rewarded with precision passes, space making runs and inch perfect dead ball delivery. Our opening goal – the first of a hat trick for Ivan Toney – came as a direct result of his corner kick being delivered directly onto Ajer’s head and flicked on to the free scoring front man.

Ivan steers home Ajer’s flick on for 1-0 Brentford

Whilst the performances of Mathias Jensen have, it would be fair to say, polarised opinion the Brentford faithful were united in their adulation for Eriksen. He truly was that good and, on any other day, would have ended this one as man of the match. Instead, Brentford ‘official’ limited the choice to Toney, Toney, Toney or Toney? Which to be fair, is hardly a surprise given his and our first Premier League hat-trick. The first goal coming on the half hour from the aforementioned corner kick, with not one but two penalties being awarded over the opening fifteen minutes of the second half. Both despatched to the bottom left corner in that trademark style. Tim Krul able to do nothing beyond engage in childish attempts to psych out our man. They were as futile as his attempts to stop the subsequent spot kicks.

Brentford 3-0 up before VAR then came to the rescue when chalking off an effort from Milot Rashica after Pukki was adjudge to have flicked it on with his head from a marginal offside. Dean Smith’s already bad afternoon going from worse to even worse. His only crumb of comfort seeing VAR then return the favour after Bryan Mbeumo made it 4-0 Brentford. Ethan Pinnock deemed to have been fractionally ahead of play as the ball was being played in to a crowded box.

For a moment…..

Pukki pulled one back for the Canaries but it was too little, too late. Much to the relief of the vociferous Bees travelling support. In the end, the eight minutes of time added on dwindled away. The game closed out. Three points in the bag – our first win in 9 games and one which could not have come at a more opportune moment. 

Toney and Eriksen grabbed all the headlines but hats off to the rest of the team. David Raya immense – especially early on – whilst Kris Ajer proved more adept in his new role than yours truly had anticipated. Oh me of little faith. Surely more of the same will come against Burnley this Saturday. Whether it remains a permanent formation change remains to be seen but, for now, the back line held firm and provided much needed impetus in the attacking third of the field.

One can only imagine how things will look when Josh Dasilva is available once more (the trip to Chelsea on April 2nd). Vitaly Janelt likely to miss out if the rest of the squad are fit. It barely seems possible to be talking this way about a player currently running fifth in our season long review but the signing of Eriksen and recent return of Josh means we are now spoiled in midfield to levels previously only seen at an ambassador’s reception. The flare on display only matched by the one Mr. Carrow was sent to investigate at half time.

Make no mistake, this win was crucial. It was deserved and it was, at times, hard fought. Ultimately, though, the best team won. The best decisions won. Thomas Frank and his team now have the challenge of proving this was no flash in the pan and that normal service has returned. That Christian Eriksen really is the signing he promised to be. 

With all the horror and angst going on in Europe at the moment, how nice was it to just switch off and experience ‘normal’ Saturday afternoon once again? Blessed relief from the outside world, even if the banners waved to show support for Ukraine pre kick-off meant it was still at the forefront of our minds going in to the game.

For now, we’re been and done. Here’s to doing it all again next week when Burnley come to town. Bring it on and see you there.

Nick Bruzon

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.

screen-shot-2017-02-19-at-10-26-18

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 .

Marinus unicorn

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.

screen-shot-2017-02-19-at-10-23-36

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.

Judge pic 2

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.

Andre Gray for 3-0

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.

yoann-scarf-4x3277-2506113_478x359

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