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I’m glad I support Brentford rather than one big fish in a rapidly stagnating pond. And Dean speaks

5 Jul

Football is slowly waking up. This time last year, we were talking about Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar beating Celtic 1-0 in the Champions League qualifiers. Quite possibly the most embarrassing results in Scottish football history (to add to an already long list) yet last night they were equalled by fellow Glasgow side Rangers when the fourth best team in Luxembourg, part timers Progrès Niederkorn, knocked them out of Europe. And closer to home, Brentford boss Dean Smith has been up in front of the Sky sports cameras.

Ordinarily these pages wouldn’t look at the Scottish game but Rangers have held a bit of a fascination in recent years, given the circumstances which saw former Brentford boss Mark Warburton both join and leave the Ibrox club. “You walk around the stadium, the first time for me this morning, and you smell the history” he said upon becoming their manager in June 2015.

I’m sure this morning they’ll be smelling something rather different North of the border and Warbs will be very pleased with his decision to resign prior to joining Nottingham Forest. Internet bookmaker PaddyPower have already declared Celtic as league Champions prior to a ball being kicked although, to be fair, most bookies have them as 1/9 on at best to lift that particular silverware.

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Other bookmakers are also available

For all the ongoing talk about these two ‘giants’ of Scottish football joining the English Premier League, the totally one sided nature of their domestic league along with results such as those against Progrès or Lincoln show how out of touch they sadly are these days. A point made all the more apparent as after limping past the Gibraltarians last season, Celtic then endured complete capitulation in the group stages, failing to reach the Europa League whilst also suffering a 7(seven) goal bracketing.

Winning at home is nice, but to watch such consistently uncompetitive football must become a somewhat soul destroying affair. Where’s the genuine competition? Where’s the excitement? What’s the point when you win your league by a country mile or get kicked off the park the moment the competition hots up a bit. With your closest historical rival a shadow of their former selves, it really gives off the impression of going through the motions. Give me the Championship any day of the week.

Which is why the return to our own league campaign cannot come soon enough. Nobody could claim this division is one sided. Anything but, with Newcastle United’s title win going right down to the wire last season whilst Brentford have claimed more than their fair share of illustrious scalps over the last three campaigns. Three top ten finishes have surprised more than a few people outside of TW8 (most notably Ian Holloway) and I’m desperate for us to give this division another try.

The good news is that the Bees are now back in training and yesterday, ‘official’ released a video of head coach Dean Smith talking to Sky Sports News.

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Dean Smith spoke to Sky

In the interview, which you can see below, Dean sounds über positive. He talks about having had lots of fresh ideas and sharing our own sentiments that its good to be back after a long break. He has confirmed his top six aspirations along with a desire to keep hold of last seasons squad. Moreso given our strong finish to the campaign.

Then, somewhat randomly, the interview changes tack with the second half being taken up with a discourse on penalties. The recent England – Germany U-21 game. Dean Smith’s philosophy on penalty taking. As a player and as a head coach. It went on. I was half expecting him to be quizzed on Marcello Trotta.

A shame really,, as this was a somewhat wasted opportunity from Sky to dig into our plans, our set up and mindset. To find out how Dean has continued the great work already done by Warbs, Lee Carsley and, of course, the team behind the team.

A missed opportunity?

Then again, I’m more than happy being the underdog. Being that unfancied, under the radar team. Catching the likes of Leeds United, Derby County, Aston Villa, Mr Holloway et al with their pants down.

Nobody can deny the likes of Rangers and Celtic have huge stadiums, even bigger fan bases and plenty of historical honours. Likewise that Griffin Park is still only a 12,000 capacity ground with a trophy cabinet that is emptier than Arsenal’s.

But who wants to be the one big fish in a rapidly stagnating pond of tadpoles? A fish that gets gobbled up the moment any invasive species appears from the continent. The Championship, and beyond, is where it’s all at. Where the real action happens. Where real football takes place.

It’s July 5th. This time next month proceedings begin in anger with out trip to Sheffield United. I really cannot wait. It promises to be even bigger and better than ever before.

Nick Bruzon

How do Bees fare against Monaco, Manchester City and Celtic in the pre-season buzz?

26 Jul

The season is almost here. New kits. New signings. New season tickets now in the post. Brentford, of course, have now unveiled their new strip which, presumably, will see another airing for the home version agasint Peterborough tonight. But we aren’t alone. Celtic took a (double) trip into the bizarre yesterday whilst AS Monaco and Manchester City are amongst those promoting themselves in unique style ahead of the big kick off.

First up, as ever, Brentford. The big talking point from Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Kaiserslautern was nothing to do with the on pitch matters but more one about the kit. Wonderful though it is, the universal opinion seemed to be that the shirt numbers were somewhat ‘tricky’ to read.

Very retro” was the diplomatic verdict from the Beesplayer team as they discussed this during the first half. Adding, “It’s a good job we know the players”. Was this fair? Will we get used to them? Could the players see a patch having to be added to the reverse? Will the football league change their font? More than likely, we’ll all just have to get used to it. Family time meant Saturday was a game too far but here’s to tonight and seeing the new kit in action, under floodlights. I’m sure it’ll all be fine.

The other thing that has impressed me about the new Brentford shirt was the way the launch was handled. For obvious reason there may be a slight element of bias but using the supporters was a wonderful idea.

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The new kit is available now

But it wasn’t just this. It was the subtle yet classy way we did this. No OTT catchphrases. None of those dreaded hashtags. Just a series of great (player) photos.

The same can’t be said about others. With passage to the third round of the Champion’s League now assured after edging past Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar 3-1 over two legs, Celtic have safely launched their third kit. And it is one born in the history of their European cup triumph of 1967.

#IfYouKnowYourHistory says the launch hashtag. And enough, but it is what the blurb says about the inspiration for a somewhat gaudy colour scheme that really intrigues. Apparently the shirt has been inspired by the colours used on the match ticket for the 1967 final, with the electric pink and black design honouring the ‘Lisbon Lions’ team.

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A historical inspiration – supposedly

It’s tenuous but if true then who am I to argue. It’s just a shame that, in choosing to honour what is probably the biggest moment in the club’s history, Celtic have done so in such appalling fashion. It is a shirt which, in this kit nerd’s opinion, gets a direct pass to the hall of shame.

Social media was awash with commentary, most of it less than favourable. Almost as much for the picture published (which since seems to have been removed), of new signing Kolo Toure. Perhaps he’d been shown the new kit just before the photo was taken?

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Happy to have joined

If Brentford have looked to take a different approach to kit launch this season, we aren’t alone. Over in France, AS Monaco have released a video to help with theirs. Sadly, this isn’t in the same ball park as the infamous Blackburn Rover’s effort  – Birdy’s date – instead being somewhat tasteful and rather innovative .

Virtual Reality – words not heard since the late 80’s and pixel laden video games accompanied by ill-fitting headsets and impossible controls. Well, it’s back (albeit via the medium of YouTube, and has been used on the Monaco kit launch.

With the release of a new kit becoming more and more a ‘big thing’ , one does wonder where this is going to go next. We’ve certainly come a long way since a photo in the programme or our own ‘reveal in the bathroom shop window’.

Monaco breaking new ground

Finally, have you got your new season ticket as yet? With the cards and wallets coming through letter boxes as we speak, it’s another indication of the forthcoming season. This has done nothing but further whet the appetite although I do wonder if it might have been possible to have some variety in design or even for of the year embossed onto the card or holder.

I guess this was for reasons of cost / continuation of design but football fans are, in many cases, completists and collectors. I have drawers full of the things from seasons gone by, as do many others. Being able to look back over them is a hugely sentimental / nostalgic thing for many. If the marketing chaps are reading, perhaps a small ask for next season?

Looking at Manchester City, their ticket has been despatched in a collectors box with pin badge for their new, old crest. Perhaps somewhat outside of our budget range and a tad OTT but, equally, you can’t deny it is a well meaning touch.

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Nick Bruzon

Super Lincoln go ballistic, Celtic were atrocious

12 Jul

It’s been done before. I don’t care! Brentford fans, you get your ‘Last Word’ fix tomorrow.Right now, let’s just cut to the chase and reflect on the enormity of Lincoln Red Imps (champions of Gibraltar) beating Celtic (one time European cup winners) 1-0 in the Champion’s League .

Long have these pages celebrated those fleeting moments of triumph from this most fledgling of footballing nations. Long have we absorbed the mocking of Spanish (and other) supporters.

Yet, yet, yet…. write off anybody at your peril when it comes to football. Forget the statistics. Forget the futsal. Forget the tippy-tappy. When it comes down to it, there’s only one thing that counts – the result after 90 minutes.

“A result which ranks as the most embarrassing in Celtic’s history.” Not my words but those of journalism’s, The Independent.

“The Shock of Gibraltar: Celtic beaten by minnows in Brendan Rodgers’ first match.” Not my words but those of The Mail.

Brendan Rodgers’ first game as Celtic boss ended in humiliation as his Hoops side were humbled 1-0 by Lincoln Red Imps in in the first leg of their second Champions League qualifier at the Victoria stadium.” Not my words etc.etc…. The Telegraph.

“Celtic suffered arguably the worst defeat in their history when they were humbled by Gibraltarian part-timers Lincoln Red Imps in the Champions League second qualifying round.” This time from the BBC.

“We wanted an easier job after the first leg, and this makes it a bit more complicated, but we will be fine for the second game.” Most definitely not my words but those of Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.

Brendan, I wouldn’t be so sure.

It was a scoreline you can only dream of.Let’s not forget that Gibraltar (pop 30,000ish) have only been UEFA members since 2013.  If Iceland beating England in the Euros may have been deemed an upset, this one comes in at an 11 on the Richter scale of shocks.

Forget sleeping giants. This was a sleeping policeman. MOD police office Lee Casciaro giving Rodgers a (cardiac) arrest in his first competitive game at the helm of Celtic.

No, being the clear answer

What more can you say? Celtic are still giving it large, despite having lost. On reputation and history then surely they will sweep the boys from Gibraltar to one side in the second leg next week.

The again, on reputation and history they should have done that on Tuesday night.

What a result. Congratulations to Lincoln Red Imps in producing a shock on the Rock. Here’s to the second leg…..

Nick Bruzon