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Tricky choices for the boss. Brutal words to a special Guest.

21 Jan

Oh my word. Would you believe it?. There were smiles all over Brentford last night after yet another favour going our way at the top of the Championship table. Stoke City hung on to beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at the Hawthorns, meaning the gap between ourselves and the top spot is locked in at six points. With the Baggies and Leeds United both to visit Griffin Park still, along with Nottingham Forest in a week’s time, the league continues to prove itself the most exciting in Europe. Elsewhere, some audio has emerged from the Dave Berry Breakfast show on Absolute Radio after a listener, Brian Guest, got in contact regarding Fulham and their clappers at the weekend.

First up, West Bromwich Albion. Oh my, Just when the Championship couldn’t get any more unexpected, it has. And then some. I have to be honest that watching this one on Sky last night, I couldn’t help but feel Stoke City were only moments away from collapsing after their early goal. Surely West Brom would find a way through? Surely? But no. Wave after wave of pressure was repelled as the Potters closed out the game in some style. It all looked so, so controlled by the end of it. The home side unable to penetrate and their record now stretching out to one win in eight league games. See also: Leeds United. 

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As it now stands on the BBC

All of which makes the point earned by Brentford on Saturday seem even more valuable than it did back then. Sure, 0-0 hardly reeks of glamour (on paper) but I’d take it over defeat any day of the week. I’m ecstatic about the way the top two keep on hitting ‘self-destruct’. How that once humungous lead is now becoming thinner by the week.

It all goes to make next week’s visit of Nottingham Forest to Griffin Park all the more crucial. The Tricky Trees sit just behind us. Level on points but some way back on goal difference. However, they have that all important additional opportunity that is provided by having played one game fewer. Whilst I’m a firm believer in the adage that points in the bag are better than games in hand, you can bet they’ll be bang up for what is a real six pointer.

If anything, the short term destiny of The Championship is very much in their hands. Aswell as the game at Brentford, their next five fixtures include a visit from Leeds United and a trip to West Bromwich Albion. On current form, a guaranteed six points. Ahh, if only football really was that simple. The positive news here being that if Brentford keep doing their thing, then something else will go in our favour. One of those three teams has no choice but to drop points. 

I’d go so far to say that, and whisper this in hushed tones, Tuesday is more important than the visit of Leicester City in the FA Cup this weekend. I love the tournament and am desperate to proceed but if the price of keeping our assault on the upper echelons of the table going is to keep our squad fresh and play some of the B-team, then name Jan Zamburek as captain right now. Return Emiliano Marcondes to the line up. Stick Luke Daniels between the posts.

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I’m all for this on Saturday

Who knows what Thomas is thinking about there. Who’d be a head coach? For all we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves, and play-off zone consolidation has to be the immediate aim, that narrowing gap to the top makes for the most tempting prize. Like Indiana Jones reaching for the idol, would we unleash all manner of mayhem and chaos if we made a grab for it? For me, it has to be worth the gamble of naming a less familiar starting XI in the cup. 

I’ll still be 100% behind the Bees and screaming support but wouldn’t be anywhere near as disappointed as I was at Arsenal when we saw Dean Smith’s initial line up for that one last season. Then, the campaign was fresh with a wonderful chance to make a name for ourselves. Now, we’re knee deep in the blood of our Championship rivals and looking to take down more. That has to be where the resources are ploughed. Unless, of course, the players are fit enough for another stint of four games in fourteen days (at least, my fingers only go up to ten). Whomever is named, both games represent wonderful opportunities and I can’t wait.

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Alan Judge pulls one back against Arsenal

Elsewhere, I was listening to national station Absolute Radio yesterday morning. Specifically, the Dave Berry breakfast show where our eponymous host, co-host / Nottingham Forest supporter Matt Dyson, and sports anchor Glenn Moore were contacted by a listener. Brian Guest.

On hearing his name my ears pricked up. If memory serves, he may have once had a body of work published in the Fulham match day programme when The Bees came to visit. Getting one (or three) past the editor to reflect on some of their lesser moments whilst under the guise of supporting the home club. Or something like that.

Dave had asked listeners to sum up their weekend, but in just six words. It’s a regular part of the Monday show and it seems Brian is an avid listener. He got in touch to share the update, “Fulham had clappers. Why? Why? Why?”

It was a question which clearly nudged the boundaries of curiosity, and common sense, as the results are below. Enjoy. Unless you support Fulham……

Nick Bruzon  

It’s even tighter at the top as pressure grows.

19 Jan

A 0-0 draw at Huddersfield Town keeps the Brentford streak going. That’s one defeat in eight games as The Bees kept up the pressure on the top two. With Leeds United falling apart (again), their own 1-0 loss at Loftus Road yesterday means the gap from us to second is now down to 5 points from the 12 that it was just a few weeks ago. Hoping for a QPR win wasn’t the most enjoyable way to spend a Saturday lunchtime, and one which could be better translated as more praying for an away disaster, but events transpired in our favour and that’ll do me looking at the table this morning. Whilst Fulham remain fractionally  ahead of us, there was at least the consolation of watching their supporters spend all day crying on social media over the ‘clappers’ video’ from yesterday’s piece. There, there – mummy will kiss it better. Factor in the added bonus of Leicester City being next up in the FA Cup and its all happening in TW8.

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Brentford ‘official’ sum it up on Twitter

First up, Huddersfield Town. It was a performance that Thomas Frank would describe at full time as ‘average’ , saying he wasn’t happy with a point. Good man – high levels of expectation and long may that continue. Personally, 0-0 doesn’t look great on paper but this was a team missing both Pontus Jansson and Mathias Jensen. Both were deemed to be injured although one does then wonder if it leaves them fresh / available for the Leicester game. You know, just to keep the legs ticking over. Thomas would suggest in his interview (below) that it may be a game too soon for the midfielder but we’ll see. 

As for positives, it was another clean sheet to the Championship’s tightest defence. In a game of few chances, Brentford arguably had the majority. Josh Dasilva coming closest as he hit the post late on, albeit we all know that shots at goal count for naff all if you can’t put them away. But, it’s a point on the road. It’s another game unbeaten. It’s even more ground gained on the top two. It’s further psychological pressure applied to a Leeds United side who continue to astound with their ability to hit the meltdown button. 

Thomas tells it how it is.

We’re never going to pick up three points EVERY game. That’s not how football works, generally. Albeit, the memory of Liverpool and Manchester City matching each other win for win last season as the Premier League rolled out to that relentless conclusion  is still fresh in the mind. Liverpool are doing it again this time around whilst everybody else around them has reverted to what is considered the norm in footballing form. At least, for teams competing at the business end. Win most games, draw a few and slip up every now and again. Just look at the defeats for Leicester last weekend (Southampton) or Chelsea yesterday (injury hit Newcastle). So a point for Brentford is something I’ll embrace. Moreso in the bigger picture of how the season end table may play out. The key thing at this juncture is not to be hitting the skids. Not to be ‘doing a Leeds’. Not to have a record akin to West Brom, who are currently experiencing similarly patchy form.

I’m just gad that the emotional investment in proceedings at Loftus Road wasn’t wasted. Nobody wants to hope for an away defeat there, in the normal course of events, although this is anything but a normal season. So things couldn’t have turned out any better than hoped for. At least, from a Brentford / Leeds perspective. Patrick Bamford saw a penalty saved and Kalvin Phillips was shown a straight red late on for a horror challenge that summed up the wretched state of affairs currently being enjoyed / endured (delete as applicable) by the Elland Road outfit. They host Millwall next Tuesday with the Lions looking to go one better than their current position just outside the play-off zone. That promises to be fun. 

At the same time, we’re home to Nottingham Forest with the FA cup sandwiched in between. Excitement levels continue to build in this part of West London as the denouement of Griffin Park life draws to a thrilling conclusion. Fighting a battle on two fronts is going to mean some tough decisions are made on Saturday when that team is announced late in the morning. Go for broke in the cup? Stick with the B team? Or play a mix of both? Either way, I can’t wait for the next chapter of the Brentford story to unfold.

See you there.

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Things are getting tight at the top

Nick Bruzon 

Just when things couldn’t get any more intriguing in The Championship….

17 Jan

There’s plenty happening on Friday morning and Brentford haven’t even got close to being involved, yet. Our weekend trip to Huddersfield Town is another opportunity to keep pace with / close the gap further on Leeds United. We’re currently third in the Championship table after humping QPR although know that should Fulham beat injury hit Middlesbrough at The Gin Bar tonight then they will, temporarily, overtake us. Although one point behind, a draw won’t be good enough thanks to their vastly inferior goal difference of +11 compared to a division’s best +23 for The Bees. Elsewhere there’s trouble for the club formerly known as Frank Lampard’s Derby County,  Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Please. Stop sniggering. There’s nothing funny about being accused of breaching EFL spending rules.

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Good times at Griffin Park last Saturday

First and foremost, Brentford. Not only does our game at Huddersfield Town present the chance to keep up the pressure on Leeds and West Brom  – both of whom are currently falling apart in the box quicker than a dropped jigsaw – but perhaps also there’s a slight element of payback. Anybody present at the Griffin Park Kickathon agaisnt the Terriers back in November can’t help but struggle to remember how awful it was. Our form since that point has been pretty much non-stop, but that encounter (ending in a 0-1 defeat) was horrific and best forgotten. It was described at the time on these pages as “A turgid afternoon in dank conditions” and has long since been consigned to the darker recesses of the memory. The place Where Mrs. Brown and her boys reside. Probably wearing Team GB tracksuits and drinking ‘expresso’. On Star Wars day, May the fourth.

We digress, but that’s how awful it was . Possibly rivalling September’s 0-0 with Stoke City for a text book demonstration of anti-football. That was then, though. We’ve since gone on to dump Stoke out of the FA Cup with our B-team and I have every confidence that the first XI will do similar tomorrow. Or, at least, have a much better chance of showing what they can do on their day.

Last weekend’s blitz of QPR saw us devastate our neighbours in a 15 minute first half flurry of non-stop attacking football. A goal apiece for the much touted WMB was bookended with further chances to extend the lead. Former Chief Executive Mark Devlin, watching on from the Director’s box, could only share the bemusement of his fellow Rangers’ fans as their world fell apart. It was yet another stunning performance from Brentford and I’d bet on more to come tomorrow.

Ironically, Mark will be watching on again. This time in his new guise as interim Chief Executive of Huddersfield Town. I’ve a lot of time for Mark – who was always extremely approachable when at Griffin Park – and whilst wishing him all the best in this role, will perhaps delay those good wishes until Sunday. There’s no room for sentiment when there are points at stake, especially with so much riding on this one.

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Plenty to mull over for the Huddersfield Chief Exec last weekend

Yet my faith in this team is unshakeable at present. My knowledge of their ability and pleasure on watching them breaking at 100mph sky high. Honestly, and this isn’t arrogance, such is the way we are playing I’d back us to pick up the points anywhere at the minute. Thomas Frank can do the job of keeping the player’s feet on the ground and telling them there are no easy games, take each one as it comes et etc. For the fans, optimism is a good, good thing and I’m loving it.

Fulham do have that chance to see us start the day in fourth place, should they get the home win against Middlesbrough this evening. Sadly, they will. Even without Aleksander Mitrovic they’ll have too much in them to come away with anything less than three points. But that’s all by the by as long as we do our thing on Saturday. Especially given as Leeds have a trip to Loftus Road – if ever a game said ‘away banker’ it is that one. On the plus side, with West Brom not in action until Monday evening, there’s further opportunity to close the gap on at least one of the top two, IF we can do our thing. No pressure lads 🙂

But these are good times. Lionel Road season tickets are flying off the shelves with the Twitter hashtag #MyNewHome showing plenty of smiling faces. The latest I saw using that one saw Alex Austin and his family now booked in, meaning the helpful advice and reminders of the rules offered to linesmen will continue long into our new home and, all being well, The Premier League. Magnificent news.

We’re doing all of this on budget and within the rules of the EFL. Something Birmingham City have already fallen fall of and now, it seems, Derby County (can we just take the “Wayne Rooney’s” as a given?) are facing trouble. The charges brought by the authorities relate to losses in the three years up to June 2018. With rules allowing clubs to lose up to £39m over a three year period (still, wow),  the controversial deal to sell Pride Park to owner Mel Morris for £80m continues to attract scrutiny. As the BBC reports, “The Rams have leased back the ground, which was said to have been independently valued at £80m despite it being on the club’s books as an asset worth £41m, from a company owned by Morris.” Hmm, sounds legit.      

 This one is sure to rumble. I’m just glad our own set up is one which is so tightly controlled. Sure, it always hurts short term when we see our heroes sold (emotionally, more than on the pitch) but I know whose shoes I’d rather be in. Sustainable, improving, getting stronger by the season and with a new home imminent. Or the club now having to answer some very awkward questions.

There’s not much more to say here. I’m sure The Rams will argue they’ve done nothing wrong. Mind you, so did QPR when they got fined. And that didn’t work out too well for them.

Instead, all the focus for us should be on events in Huddersfield. Perhaps with half an eye on Loftus Road and The Cottage…

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Saturday’s goalscoring heroes – accelerated like a Porsche off the starting line

Nick Bruzon

Brentford ruthless. QPR hopeless. Pressure building on top two.

12 Jan

That was just about the perfect day of football. Brentford obliterated QPR with a pedal to the metal first half performance that saw our visitors blown away and leaving Griffin Park for the last time on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline. PaddyHoops. John Storm. Mike O’Callaghan. Pete Doherty – your boys took one hell of a beating. And it was quite wonderful. Moreso with Leeds United falling apart (again) and West Bromwich Albion being held at Charlton Athletic. With the pressure on the top two building further, The Bees have halved that previous 12 point gap to a mere 6.

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Players and fans celebrate – Pontus loving it

But before table talk and our rivals, let’s cut to the chase of the game at Griffin Park. Brentford were simply magnificent. The first half especially where the much talked about BMW of Benrahma, Mbeumo and Watkins all scored over the course of a blistering 15 minute spell in that opening period. QPR weren’t even close to coming second, such was the one way traffic and relentlessness of our approach. With fans knowing what this one meant, and Peter Gilham in fine voice, the goals started to flow.

First up, B. Saïd sweeping home a Jensen free kick to make it 1-0. The ball was played low into the box, Benrahma lost his man and hit it first time from just in front of the penalty spot to the bottom corner. The crowd exploded as one. Broad smiles across the faces of the players. Pontus fist pumping and screaming for all his worth. What a moment. Whatever pressure might have been on us was released in an instant.

Next, M. A woeful clearance from the QPR keeper found man of the match Christian Nørgaard. He hoisted it up to Mbeumo whose reading of the high ball into the box as he ran was exquisite, watching it from before reaching a telescopic leg around the chasing defender and making the perfect connection. 2-0 and the ground went bonkers. Peter set to blow, which he did just a few minutes later.

With the Bees continuing to push it was the turn of W, Ollie Watkins. His header coming off the end of another free kick move as Ethan Pinnock guided the ball across the face of goal. “That’s the B…M…W…” exhorted Peter over the p.a. system. Ollie making it quite clear the goal, his 18th of the season, was being given to him ! It sees him top of the Championship charts, level with Aleksandar Mitrovic who was stretched off yesterday.

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The BMW…

This was the stuff of dreams. And it could have been more. Watkins denied a stonewall penalty early doors as he was bundled over when clear through. Immediate talk in the stands and on social media was that this seemed an outrageous decision. It was something borne out by the Sky cameras and the crowd were quick to let the Braemar Road linesman know. “You should check your VCR” suggested one. Alex to our right was much more vocal. His observation thatYou know they’re slagging you off all over Sky  drawing huge laughs of appreciation. 

It was just about as exhilarating a half as one could have hoped for. Former Chief Executive Mark Devlin sitting up in the director’s box, watching his team torn apart. They came back into it, slightly, in the second half with Nakhi Wells pulling one back but it was nothing more than a consolation. The visitor’s industrial approach endangering our players and angering the fans although not sufficiently to dampen the mood. The cheers at full time worthy of the occasion. The celebrations from the players matching those in the stands.

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Plenty to mull over at 3-0 down

Brentford were ruthless. QPR hopeless. It could, probably should, have been more. As one Braemar Road observer noted, “Imagine Peter if he had to announce Dasilva BMW”. Instead, we took our foot off the gas and coasted over the line. That said, the single most importune thing was getting the win. There’s not a single person amongst us who wouldn’t have taken three points and a 3-1 if offered up front. Winning the last ever West London derby at Griffin Park was an absolute must – and the boys more than met the challenge.

I’d imagine this will get a few plays…

Then, when the afternoon couldn’t get any better, it did. And how! Charlton managing not one but two equalisers as West Bromwich Albion were held at The Valley. Then Leeds United did what only Leeds United can. They fell apart. This time, Sheffield Wednesday their conquerors with two very late goals at Elland Road – their only two shots all game  – to leave the home side pointless. The gap to the top two continuing to shrink as the current form over the last 7(seven) league games  reads – West Brom : 1  Leeds United : 2   Brentford : 5.

That’s the exciting part. It all counts for nothing on the ‘automatic’ front should Leeds and West Brom both start winning again. That said, we’re now five points clear of seventh place ourself. There was a time not so long ago that just three points separated close to a dozen teams in and around that play-off zone. Now we’re starting to see some clear air. Now is the time to really push on.

The euphoria of beating our neighbours was about as exciting as it gets. Even official got in on the act with just about the best tweet they’ve ever shared…

On a personal note, H was the mascot and had a cracking afternoon. The club, as ever, pulling out all the stops for our young fans. It was just about the cherry on the cake of a wonderful day in and around Griffin Park.

There aren’t many of these to go – let’s make them all count.

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London Pride

Nick Bruzon

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

11 Jan

Saturday morning. Brentford are set to host QPR in a few hours time. The chance to inflict one more Griffin Park defeat on our near neighbours too delicious an opportunity to ignore. The potential of closing the gap between Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and ourselves to a mere six points an even bigger incentive. Whilst both of those have eminently winnable games later today, keeping the heat on two teams who have only picked up a single win apiece out of their last five and six Championship games respectively is no bad thing in the psychological stakes.  Assuming, of course, we do our thing !

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Another of these would be lovely

My word, this is what football is all about. The QPR fans can pretend it doesn’t matter. I’ve seen plenty of talk from their supporters making out that this is no derby, that there is nothing between our respective sides and that any talk of rivalry with Brentford is something purely played out in our heads.

Really? It didn’t feel that way when we were trashing the pants off them (again) at Loftus Road earlier in the season – you can stop crying now. When they tried to put us out of existence and move in back in 1967. When Martin Rowlands was kissing the badge – hopefully a doctor has now helped clear up the infection. When they were deriding us for our bus stop status. When there is a mere 5.2 miles (aka a short hop on the 237) separating our two grounds. Make that 4.2 miles next season when we move in to Lionel Road.

Try telling me it doesn’t matter

With Brentford flying high and achieving success within our means rather than incurring the huge fines that come with overspending it smacks of jealousy. With the Bees all set to move into a state of the art stadium whilst our neighbours languish in their matchbox it stinks of bitterness. With The Bees having a visionary owner rather than being a club going through the motions and struggling for a Plan B it reeks of huge inferiority complex. 

Yes, I’ll absolutely acknowledge they’ve been in the top flight more often than us and have been picked up the odd piece of silverware. Well done. Congratulations. That was then. This is now. Live on former glories at your peril. We’ve bided our time, caught them with their pants down and are now the biggest and best Championship club in West London. That’s beyond doubt – if for no other reason, the table doesn’t lie. Their supporters can pretend it doesn’t matter or doesn’t hurt all they want. I’m not having a bar of it. To borrow a line from Hamlet (Shakespeare. rather than the cigars), “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

As such, I’ll take particular pleasure in really raising the roof at Griffin Park today. Of knowing how important this game is. Of relishing how extra special it feels every time we beat the lices of QPR or Fulham. How extra sweet those points taste in games of this nature every time we add another three to our total. I’m not alone, either. Griffin Park is sure to be a cauldron of noise. If the QPR fans want to kid themselves it doesn’t matter and prefer to take their own game of Loftus Road library simulator on the road then all the better.

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It’s all gone quiet over there – again.

Ok – I’m not a complete idiot and fully appreciate that going gung-ho comes with it’s own risks. Yet this is how I feel about this one. To be honest, this is how genuinely confident I am every time The Bees run out to play at present. Regardless of opposition. Matthew Benham and his team have transformed this club. Every time we think we’ve seen a ‘best ever’ Brentford, they just go and reinvent the model (no pun intended). The football being played is like nothing we’ve ever seen. Goals flying in and the meanest defence in the division. Scintillating attack combined with a back line that oozes confidence. That’s not arrogance but a simple fact borne out by the statistics at the top of the table. That early season wobble as we found our feet nothing more than a hazy memory. For crying out loud, back then we even lost to Birmingham City….

So yes, these comments obviously come with a fair amount of home bias. With lashings of self-belief in what we do. Of course they will – it’s a Brentford blog page and we’re playing some quite incredible football at present. If that upsets anybody well tough. Get over it.  Everything we have done so far has been on absolute merit. That’s not to say the job is done. Anything but. Pride comes before a fall and if we even take our foot off the gas slightly or think a game is won before it kicks off then that’s a recipe for disaster. Thomas Frank will remind the players of that. For the supporters, our job – no, our privilege – is the chance to keep it loud and enjoy this moment. Every week sees our time at Fortress Griffin Park grow ever shorter. Let’s make sure we go out on a high.

My word. Hurry up 12.30pm. I can’t wait. Genuinely can’t wait. There’ll be Kevin Keegan levels of loving it if we do what I know we can. Bring it on and see you there.

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I’d love it etc etc etc

Nick Bruzon

Let’s do this. Come on…..!!!

10 Jan

It’s all about lunchtime TV at Griffin Park. The Brentford – Leicester City FA Cup tie has been picked for live coverage with the BBC deciding that this is the game for their  Saturday 12.45pm slot. Of more critical importance, we’ve got QPR coming down tomorrow for another. This one kicks off live on Sky at 12.30pm. But, frankly, watching it from the comfort of the sofa is the last place I’d choose to be. There’s nothing like a West London derby and this is, in theory, our last one at home before we move to Lionel Road. In theory, he says. The Bees and Fulham are both sitting in the play-off spots at present……..

Let’s get back to more immediate matters though. QPR and then Leicester City. 

First up, the visit of the not so super hoops. Anybody present for our 3-1 win at Loftus Road would know how incredible an atmosphere the Brentford fans generated. How exhilarating our performance. How easily we opened up our hosts, time and again. The BMW’s motor purring. Benrahma’s penalty and celebration entering the pantheon of club folklore as they ran to celebrate on the touchline with Peter Gilham.

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Back of the net…!!!

We know what this game means to Peter. You can bet tomorrow he’ll be referring to them as ‘our visitors’. Their name the most blasphemous of phrases following the well documented events of 1967. He’s not alone in having that added desire to win this fixture. We’ve a fine recent record against neighbours separated only by a distance of just over five miles and a short hop on the 237 from Westfield to a bus stop in Hounslow. It is one we will be absolutely pumped to continue on Saturday. Play-offs and promotion are, perhaps, equaled by local bragging rights as a motivation factor. Albeit, we’ll very much be playing the game and the team in front of us rather than the occasion.

Whilst Brentford are flying, QPR have been very much on a bumpy track recently. Although two wins in a row (wow!!) in January may suggest a positive start to 2020, prior to that they had a dreadful December – picking up just one one point from the last four games  – and a winless November. All being well,  vague form – back to back wins against bang average teams – will be arrested as easily as it has raised it’s head. Especially if we can get that early goal.

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Results at home to QPR have been wonderful in recent seasons

And if we don’t, patience will be the order of the day. The bench is starting to look stronger whilst the team just keep on going for the full 90 minutes. Me banging on won’t change this. You know it and I know it. Thomas Frank and his team are flying. We’ve all seen what Brentford can do. I just can’t wait for the opportunity to try and close the gap on the top two. With our game taking place at lunchtime, victory would take us to within 6 points of Leeds United and West Brom. How nice to do that at the expense of Rangers.

As for Leicester City and the FA Cup, TV was always an option and given their fixture list the Saturday lunchtime seemed likely. Now it has been confirmed that the BBC have selected us. As such, kick off is now 12.45 on Saturday 25th with tickets going on sale Friday afternoon to existing season ticket holders. Full details are on the official website.

There’s not too much else to say at this juncture. If for no other reason, the (subsequently corrected) error in yesterday’s piece that forgot about us playing Nottingham Forest the Tuesday after Leicester. Oops.  Besides, I think we’ve done this one to death now.

Very much time to concentrate on the league. And it’s not often you can say that when you are still in the cup. Bring it on tomorrow. Get on the bus. Get off in Hounslow. See you there….

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Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

Nick Bruzon

Have we just been given a cup boost?

9 Jan

With Lionel Road season tickets now on sale and the 237 derby approaching, for Brentford fans there was interest away from Griffin Park last night. Our FA Cup opponents Leicester City were in EFL cup action at home to Aston Villa. The Foxes were unable to rise to the occasion and left with a semi that is very much in the balance after the first leg ended 1-1. The chance to play Manchester City in the final (we’re all agreed United are dead in the water, yes?) as  wide open for Brendan Rodgers as it is Dean Smith.

This is great news for Brentford. That second leg at Villa Park is scheduled to take place the Tuesday after Leicester visit Griffin Park in the FA Cup. With the Foxes also having a midweek league match in the run up to their game with the Bees, any thoughts about their resting players may just have been cranked up a few notches. Three games in six days is a huge ask of anybody. Moreso given the intensity of the  battle for the Premier League top spots and already being a mere 90 minutes from a Wembley final.

Wishful thinking? Maybe. For all I know Thomas Frank may have a similar mindset and prefer to give his star men a breather. Personally, I don’t think that will happen though. I’m pretty sure we’ll go for broke. The BT cameras are rumoured to be lined up for this one (don’t take that as gospel, yet) and it is a wonderful chance for us to test ourselves against one of the best teams in the country. As importantly, we have no midweek action prior (although I’ve have subsequently been reminded that the fixture v Forest has ben moved to the following Tuesday – oops!) . Equally, the disappointment of our ‘doing a Leeds’ ( i.e. falling apart) in the second half of last season’s fifth round at Swansea City still burns strongly. A 0-1 half-time lead ending in 4-1 devastation and the tin foil trophy ending the night stuffed into a bin.

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Swansea in the FA Cup wasn’t good.

For now, we have to sit tight and wait for the time and date of this one to be formally announced. All being well that will happen soon and plans can be made. Favours called in for those looking to come out of the woodwork and see The Bees in action. As an advert for the Lionel Road tickets, the Leicester City tie couldn’t have come at a better time for the marketing team should anybody currently be undecided. There’s nothing like an FA Cup run and a spicy draw to generate buzz and interest.

Chuck in the visit of QPR on Saturday lunchtime and it would be fair to say that it’s all happening in this little corner of TW8 at present. With Ollie Watkins seemingly happy and no real talk about anybody else (thankfully), even the transfer window isn’t bothering us. Yet. Move along, nothing to see here.

Things are going well. I’m absolutely set for a stunning January. On paper. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. Roll on Saturday. See you there….

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More of this would be fantastic

Nick Bruzon

Welcome to Brentford 2.0

7 Jan

With all the Brentford related on-pitch buzz at present being about the visits of Leicester City and the 237 derby (FA Cup and Championship, respectively), there’s something even bigger happening off it. No – not the transfer window. Move along, nothing to see there. Fact. 

Of course, Monday saw the club launch their latest caption competition (one can hope) as Peter Gilham was pictured wearing a VR headset for his own personal game of Lionel Road simulator (one can hope).  The reason being that the ‘regular’ season tickets for our new home have now gone on sale and, it has to be said, that having been along to the reservations centre myself this morning things are incredibly slick. The whole process was ludicrously easy, hands on and engaging. Being honest, I’d feared the worst when my appointment as our group ‘representative’ was confirmed. The phrase ’It’s Brentford, innit’ lives long in the mind. Reputations take an age to build and a moment to destroy. 

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Virtual Reality. Whatever that is

Instead, we got Brentford 2.0.  The biggest sales pitch of our communal lives has just kicked off but the whole team seem intent on making this as user friendly as possible.  

Current seating is being replicated as closely as possible. Groups are being organised. Phone calls made in advance to remind us of the pertinent additional info to bring – namely, photo ID for the U-16s / seniors. I still forgot but was saved by the joy of tech. The club and sales team at great lengths to make the whole experience as painless and simple a process as possible. 

If anything, this is a wonderful opportunity for displaced friends to reorganise themselves and finally get a chance to sit together after years of being split up, save for the 15 minute beer run at half time. It is an opportunity the club seem hell bent on grabbing. The Ealing Road becoming the West Stand. Groups of singers put together. A chance to really build an atmosphere that replicates what we have at present. Then cranks it up to 11. 

I even got my hands on Peter’s VR head set to check out the view from my prospective new vantage point. That looks good. Very good. Sadly, there was no smell-o-vision option to see if the phantom trumper from Ealing Road would be in close proximity. Or, should that be trumpers? Rumour has it they are Balti fuelled brothers. Instead, we’ll just wish good luck to those in the West Stand…..

Me waxing lyrical isn’t going to impact your decision to buy a season ticket. That’s not the agenda here. I don’t have one, anyway. I’m not employed by the club and am nothing more than a fan who clogs up your timeline with a pile of crumby observations and the odd photo. Yet this is a key moment in our rapidly evolving history and one which I cannot believe has been undertaken so seamlessly. 

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Let the seat sales commence

I WAS stressed up front and won’t pretend otherwise. This is a crunch decision. A massive moment. The opportunity to cock it up, huge. There’s no stadium to walk around yet (at least, not which we are allowed in to) and so we really are relying on good faith and computer simulation. Walking past the site on a daily basis I’m still amazed that we’ve been able to fit our new home into what seemed a tiny plot of land.

Yet, yet, yet… so far, so very, very good. It is there. It is happening. Judging by the seat maps on display we’ve plenty of choice of where to sit. Going on the intent to match current views at Griffin Park as much as possible at Lionel Road, the club’s aim is clearly 110% about accommodating supporters. Keeping us happy.  The team are informed, on board and they get it. They get that this is as huge for us as it is for them. 

There’s not much else to say beyond the fact that if you want to get in, you will. If you want to see Brentford, you will. There will be no pillars on the way. No TV gantries blocking the view. Nothing to hinder your enjoyment. 

Roll on August. Roll on our first game. What price that being in the Premier League?     

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Finally – a ‘signing’ photo. No half chewed biro though

Nick Bruzon

Exciting cup draw provides as much intrigue off-pitch as on.

7 Jan

So there we have it. Brentford will host Leicester City in the FA Cup following last night’s fourth round draw. The former Premier league champions who currently lead the chasing pack behind Liverpool in the top flight will visit Griffin Park at some point over the weekend of 24-27 January. We say ‘at some point’ given as it is a tie that will be sure to be on any potential shortlist of those selected for TV coverage. 3rd in the Championship v 2nd in the Premier league. Others ups for consideration include Hull City v Chelsea , Bristol City or Shrewsbury Town v Liverpool and Northampton Town v Wayne Rooney. There are plenty of other intriguing ties, especially in Birmingham, but we can only start in West London.

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There you have it

For both clubs, this is going to present selection questions. Leicester City especially. Whilst we both looked outside of the regular starting XI in the third round, might Thomas Frank be tempted to give his star players the chance to test themselves against one of the Premier league big boys? A possible dress rehearsal for next season’s league action? Leicester City may well go light (relatively), given they have a midweek game either side of this one.  Home to West Ham the prior Wednesday and then the second-leg of the EFL Cup semis with Aston Villa the following Tuesday.

And has anybody checked in on Bees Fan Engagement Manager Ryan Murrant? Whilst his work at Griffin Park is legendary, especially with the way he inspires our youngest generation of supporters, he is a self-confessed and very vocal
Leicester City fan. Could this be a case of his cracking open the half and half scarf? Will it be club over employer? Or simply a case of hoping that football is the real winner of what has all the potential to be one of the most exciting matches in the round. As Lasse Vibe put it on Twitter, ”Schmeichel vs the rest of Denmark.”

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Ryan – Bee or Fox?

All that’s a problem to come though. First things first and the question is one of when the game takes place. Here’s hoping the TV gods are smiling on us if we are selected for coverage. Nobody wants the solitary Monday night tie in the ‘post-draw’ segment of the round, albeit given out visitor’s prior commitments one can only think that Saturday lunchtime will be the appointed time. Should it be a case of Manchester City v Fulham or the multi-optioned Watford or Tranmere Rovers v Wolverhampton Wanderers or Manchester United that are deemed more appealing then we are back on for a Saturday 3pm.

To be fair, it wouldn’t be the FA Cup without Manchester United being selected for the cameras. Who cares about magic or intrigue when there’s the opportunity to appease the nation’s armchair supporters? That said, the permutations from the respective replays leading up to that one do present slightly more intriguing options than normal. Especially if Tranmere win. If…. Watford v Wolves, anyone? 

The other tie really grabbing my attention is the possible situation at St. Andrews where landlords Birmingham City could be forced to pay a visit to their tenants, Coventry City, and then squat in the ‘away’ end. Cue demands for ten times more tickets than their official allocation as they miss the point of how the cup works. To be fair, even should Coventry fail to overcome Bristol Rovers in the replay, its a tie I’d love to see selected for coverage. Even though we know full well it’ll never happen. A night out in Birmingham being about as glamorous as a trip to Mrs. Brown’s bedroom. Besides, we’ve got Northampton Town for the interest further down the EFL tables. Their home tie with Derby County, and the guaranteed baggage that comes with that, sure to have lazy directors, cliché spouting pundits and overkeen caption writers already prepping their scripts.

For now, though, it’s a case of ifs, buts and maybes. I’m just glad Brentford are at home and there’s (at least) one more chance to visit Griffin Park. Anything else after that is a bonus. 

Here’s that draw in full….

Watford or Tranmere Rovers v Wolverhampton Wanderers or Manchester United

Hull City v Chelsea

Southampton v Middlesbrough or Tottenham Hotspur

Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield Wednesday

Bournemouth v Arsenal

Northampton Town v Derby County

Brentford v Leicester City

Millwall v Sheffield United

Reading or Blackpool v Cardiff City or Carlisle United

West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion

Burnley v Norwich City

Bristol Rovers or Coventry City v Birmingham City

Manchester City v Fulham

Rochdale or Newcastle United v Oxford United

Portsmouth v Barnsley

Bristol City or Shrewsbury Town v Liverpool

Nick Bruzon

It’s………….Wayne Rooney’s Account

3 Jan

Brentford host Stoke City in the FA Cup tomorrow. Liverpool moved 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League, having gone unbeaten in a year after yesterday’s 20 win over Sheffield United. However, none of that matters compared to the 2-1 victory for Wayne Rooney’s Derby County over Barnsley, played out live on Sky Sports last night to the entire planet. A dominant Wayne Rooney destroyed the Tykes, as the newly appointed Wayne Rooney’s Derby County captain provided both assists and scored a brace on his long awaited debut.

You’ll forgive me for feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the Derby County love in that took place on Thursday evening. Or, specifically, that surrounding the all time England goal scoring record holder. I hadn’t realised. If only somebody had said. About a dozen times. Every touch from the stocky looking midfielder was greeted as though it had been played by Pele. Every pass seemingly as sublime as a Cristiano Ronaldo through ball. 

Only an idiot would fail to realise that Wayne’s arrival was going to attract attention. That was guaranteed from the announcement of his signing, the gifting of his traditional ’32’ shirt and the protected lead up to this one. By the time the 34 year old finally made his debut it was beyond all previously seen hype levels. The records set by Frank Lampard’s Derby County being obliterated within moments of coverage starting. You’d be forgiven for thinking the family Rooney had somehow hacked Sky’s account to influence the coverage, such was the fascination. Except, of course, that sort of stuff could never happen. Carry on like this and they’re going to shit themselves next Saturday when the cameras are back at Griffin Park for Brentford – QPR.

Except, of course, they won’t. We aren’t global. We don’t have his former glories. His baggage. His wife, who was there looking on from the stands and even got her own graphic. His wage bill.

Good luck to Derby County. Limping past rapidly improving Barnsley, to stay in 17th place in the Championship, is only the first step in what will need to become a very much long term project. Who knows? Wayne could be the man to inspire them. Filling the Championship void left by the departure of Aston Villa’s John Terry.  Inspiring his younger team mates to retain their former glories. It’s going to be a lot easier – for them and for us – without the eyes of the world watching.

Two tweets summed it up for me last night. This is what it felt like for anyone outside the Pride Park love in.

There we go. The high bar has been set. No doubt the media will now be tripping over themselves to shoot him down the second anything, no matter how small, fails to go to plan. Derby and Bet 32 have take an a massive gamble. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Getting back to TW8, Brentford and Stoke meet in the FA Cup third round on Saturday. With promotion to the Premier League very much a genuine aspiration at present, what would you do if you were Thomas Frank? Give the B team and substitutes a run out or stick with the team that has done so well over these last few months?

For me, Clive, it’s an odd one. I absolutely love the FA Cup and have advocated full strength for year after year,. The chance to progress in this famous old competition too big an opportunity to cast aside with abandon. The potential of entertaining a Liverpool or Manchester City a delicious incentive for reaching the fourth round. Moreso in what is our final season in Griffin Park.

Yet, yet, yet….. Bloody hell. We’re third in the Championship. The gap to seventh place is starting to grow. The two teams above us – Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion, whilst still well, well clear are both starting to wobble. Relatively. Each team having a current league record of only one win in five. If ever there was a time to give the first team a chance to catch their breath then now is the moment that Thomas Frank could be forgiven. For letting the broader squad stay match fit.

I’m absolutely with him on this one. I’m fully expecting the BMW to stay in the garage. For Luke Daniels to be named captain. For Julian Jeanvier to start this one after Ethan Pinnock as come in and performed heroics alongside Pontus. For the long awaited debut of Halil Dervisoglu – should clearance come through 🙂 .

And, it would seem, I’m not alone. As ever, the medium of Twitter summarising in one comment more than all this gubbins could ever do….

Whomever Thomas picks, it’s still a special occasion. Still a game we’ll be going out 100% to win. Whilst I’m absolutely with Luis on the team selection strategy, it doesn’t mean the occasion will be enjoyed any less. The desperation to win as enormous as ever. Peter Gilham busting a gut to big up the crowd. Tin foil trophies being hoisted high in the sky. The lure of Wembley still as strong as ever.

I can’t wait for this one. Bring it on!! Whatever the team.

FA Cup tin foil

Nothing says FA Cup tradition like a home made trophy

Nick Bruzon