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Brentford v Everton. Post match debrief and player ratings.

28 Aug

A 1-1 draw between Brentford and Everton saw points shared and questions for Thomas Frank ahead of this Tuesday’s trip to Crystal Palace. Good questions, mind you, as the second half changes have certainly given him some food for thought.

Where was Allan when Everton needed him?

As ever at this point, we ask who was the star man for Brentford? Who made the top five against Everton in our season long quest to find the top Bees’ performer? IS anyone sweating on their place for the trip to Crystal Palace?

And as ever, the answers can be found here in the post match debrief and player review….. 

Nick Bruzon

Brentford dominate sticky Toffees but points are shared.

28 Aug

Well wasn’t that the afternoon of tough work for Brentford? A 1-1 draw with Everton sees another point on the board and the Bees still in the top ten. It was a hard fought contest which felt, for huge swathes, as though we’d reach full time quoting our previous head coach Dean Smith and lamenting the fact that, “We deserved to win.” That, given the amount of chances created but unable to be taken relative to our opponents. Regardless, we’ll have to up our game somewhat if there is anything to be taken from the trip to Crystal Palace on Tuesday. The annihilation of Manchester United, still writ large on the cover of the matchday programme – an edition that had 12(twelve) pages of b&w Mikkel Damsgaard photos for us all to luxuriate in – now needs to be put to bed. We caught them at the right time but, as yesterday proved, The Bees need to be cleverer when presented with opponents for whom winning a game of football comes second behind killing it. We had our chances but it was one of those where we did everything but score a hatful.

It was tight in the middle

Don’t @me Everton fans. I think we’ve generally had nothing but good words to say when our paths have crossed. Likewise, we held up our hands after Brentford were humped in the FA Cup at Goodison Park last season. What comes next is hard to write about a club and supporters I’ve only got respect for. Yet Frank Lampard could well be in deep, deep trouble. His team were terrible. The tactics worse.

Injuries have bitten, sure, but the trouble seems to lie beyond that. If Anthony Gordon heads off to Chelsea they’re in even more trouble. Neal Maupay is an absolute class act but they’ll have to get the ball to him and, on this showing, I’ve just no idea how that’s going to happen.

Maupay’s fighting spirit is much needed

Brentford should have been much smarter. Sharper. Perhaps luckier.  There were plenty of opportunities from the clear cut (Bryan and, frustratingly, Wissa when the back of the net was crying out to be hit) to the unfortunate – Jensen, Ivan and then Norgaard. The later providing the most spectacular of all when his bicycle-kick hit the post. Brentford finding more wood than Ron Jeremy performing a Bryan Mbeumo 2020/21 tribute act. Jordan Pickford also had his moments – that is, when he wasn’t channeling his inner Bryce Samba. 

When your game plan is to score on the hoooooofffff and then run down the clock with an hour of time-wasting, procrastination and more dubious injuries than the average episode of Casualty (not to mention amazing recoveries to match), things are grim. It was turgid. Ten mend behind the ball at all times and constricted into a 20 yard space. Wissa’s fire extinguished by a blue duvet. Josh Dasilva unable to work any space.  Ivan and Bryan finding it tough going.  No complaints. Brentford can only play who they are up against and in Everton, it seemed to be a team already firmly locked in survival mode. They did what they set out to do very well although when your personal bar is set that low it isn’t hard.  

It wasn’t until the 86th minute that Vitaly Janelt finally levelled things up from close in. KLP’s flick on timed to perfection despite the brief wait for a VAR check which, given how things played out all afternoon, had an almost inevitable feel to it. Thankfully, there was to be no repeat of last week at Fulham.

Brentford could / should (delete as you see fit) have been cleverer. We definitely had the chances and had any one of them gone in it might have been a different story. That’s not how football works though, as we all know well. Balls in the back of the net are what count – not that a team ‘deserved to win’. Everton may well be happy with a point. Brentford will likely feel frustrated, even if Thomas Frank would afterwards talk about his pride at how we played in the circumstances. In the end, the difference between the two sides came down to Thomas once again making great use of his five substitutes. 

Regardless of their role in the goal, surely with Keane Lewis-Potter and Vitaly Janelt both upping the ante from the bench they will be screaming out for a start against Crystal Palace in a few days time. Pontus Jansson will, also, hopefully return after missing out on this one. Otherwise, I’d expect / hope for a back five with maybe Kris Ajer or Mads Roerslev making up the numbers. Palace sure to offer much more going forward than Everton did.

Personally speaking, I think Brentford should still be pleased with a point. I say that on the basis of us keeping pace with the teams in the top few places whilst, also, back in the day it would have been a game we ‘d have lost. Huff. Puff. Desperately unlucky, coming oh so close but unable to breakdown dogged determination.  As Mrs B said, “Sometimes the gods just aren’t on your side”. A point is a point and we’ll enjoy that. Until then, here’s to Tuesday night and Crystal Palace.

The footballing gods have forsaken Wissa, based on this moment yesterday

The star man and top five player review is now up here. Enjoy.

All being well the watching Gareth Southgate did and has now seen sufficient to aid his next pick. Perhaps he wasn’t the only one…..

Nick Bruzon

Will it be more of the same on Saturday?

26 Aug

Saturday afternoon’s visit from Everton approaches at speed. Thank goodness. It only seems like five minutes ago Brentford were edged out at Fulham by the host’s late, late winner. It was a game that swung back and forth more often than the Drayton Manor Pirate Ship ride but, in the end, The Bees ended up victims to our own slow start. That was then. This is now. In between we’ve progressed to the third round of the League Cup at Colchester United and have been rewarded with the tantalising prospect of a visit from Gillingham. A tie that offers up a chance of progression / potato skin (delete as a you see fit), a further opportunity to stretch the squad and an extra bit of work for the team behind the Matchday programme. Enjoy. For now, though, it’s all about the battle between the former Burnley centre backs.  

The other way, Mads…. Move along. Nothing to see here in the FA Cup

Last season saw The Bees loving Premier League life with The Toffees beaten twice (we won’t talk about the FA Cup debacle). 1-0 at home and then 3-2 at Goodison Park. The first game was as turgid as the reverse fixture exciting. Richarlison doing what he does. Likewise Rico Henry. Amongst others. Everton ending it with 9 men and still deep in the relegation mire with only two games to go. In the end, they survived  – despite being humped 5-1 at Arsenal in the final game. Midweek victory over Crystal Palace, combined with Burnley tripping up and our own huge, huge disappointment in letting Leeds United off the hook mean we get the chance to do it all again.

With the season three games old, it would be fair to say Brentford and Everton have had contrasting starts. The Bees squad has only got stronger with Aaron Hickey and Ben Mee settling straight in. Keane Lewis-Potter impressed at Fulham and Colchester although is an injury doubt. Then there’s Mikkel Damsgaard who made a first start in the same game and could well now make an appearance at Lionel Road. 

For Everton, the sale of Richarlison must have been the most inevitable but gut-wrenching moment of the summer. Ben Godfrey then suffered serious injury in the opening day to defeat to Chelsea whilst the same club are now though to be in the box seat to sign Anthony Gordon ahead of Thursday evening’s transfer window slamming shut(tm).

On pitch, Brentford have twice had the ‘game of two halves’ on the road. Going 2-0 down at Leicester City in the season opener would eventually end in us ‘only’ managing a 2-2 draw. It could have been all three points. The same happened at Fulham where despite their early brace, The Cottagers were eventually pegged back before Aleksander Mitrovic did that thing in the 90th. 

It was so good, for so long

In between, there was the game at home to Manchester United. There are no more words needed about what happened in that one. The net result (aside from our three points) being Monday evening’s TV game between United and Liverpool saw The Bees name checked virtually every minute. Woebtide anybody playing the ‘Brentford’ drinking game. Two fingers per mention? I’d have been under the table by the time Jason Sancho scored their first goal. Contrast that to the weekend prior when he’d been robbed by MOTM Mathias Jensen to set up that quite incredible fourth goal in the 34th minute.

Everton, meanwhile, lost the aforementioned visit from Chelsea and then achieved the same ‘nil points’ at Aston Villa. An 88th minute point was earned at home to Nottingham Forest last week but it is a campaign which would seem to have picked up where last season’s left off. Manager Frank Lampard, as well known for being the  former boss of Frank Lampard’s Derby County, must be wondering when his luck will change. 

Football is never that simple of course. Those thinking this is a case of ‘home banker’ need to look again. If nothing else, there’s that little bit of Brazilian magic lurking in the Everton squad that can be summed up in one word: Allan. They’ve also got another name we are all well, well familiar with. Number 26. The battle of the former Burnley centre backs will likely see him and Ben Mee share the same pitch for the first time since the Clarets played their part in keeping Everton up. Burnley’s relegation being to both our clubs’s benefit with out of contract players electing to stay in The Premier League. For now. 

Number 26

Which is what may well play to our advantage. Think Kurt Zouma when West Ham visited last season. Think Christian Eriksen for the Manchester United game. Harlee Dean with Birmingham City. His comments, of course, inspiring us to play ten times better. Certain players and situations engender certain responses. Let’s not even go down the Martin Rowlands wormhole.

I can only imagine the reception 26 will get every time he goes near the ball. The memory of his refusal to play against a Burnley team whom he would move to shortly after is one that lives on. Football fans are like elephants in that respect. Never forget. Moreso given the subsequent explanation – one to rank along side a dog eating the homework or Bristol City and the closed covid lab.

I’m sure the narrative will be that crowd reaction is part of the game. Players are well used to it and blank these things out. That we should be better than resorting to such an approach from the stands. Bollocks to all of it. He’s an opposition player and once that whistle goes, all bets are off. The crowd do what the crowd do. And they do it bloody well. Look at Zouma backing off (although that was also quite a large part Norgaard !!) . Look at Eriksen dithering in the first two goals (although  that was also quite a large pard David de Gea). Look at Harlee Dean – that one was all him as his team were blown apart.

That Kurt Zouma thing – my suggestion for programme cover was politely declined

So come Saturday afternoon, we’ll absolutely be playing for all three points and doing whatever we have to do. Brentford are a win off second place in the nascent table. The thought of getting back in to the Champions League places is a tantalising one. For that, I do feel for the Everton team and their fans  – of whom I know many. Some. Well two.

They generally seem like a decent bunch who love their club as passionately as we do ours. A club that, like ours, is made up with supporters from the heart of the community rather than the heart of a travel agency. Cripes, I still can’t get over how deadly, deadly dull the atmosphere at Anfield was last season.  See also: Old Trafford (limp protest) and Stamford Bridge (fire drill in a library). At least Goodison Park was rocking.

Everton fans – including DJ Andy Bush – are always top value

Still, that’s been and gone. For now there’s only one topic under discussion. Can Brentford beat Everton? Bring on Saturday afternoon when we find out. I can’t wait. See you there.

Until then, if you want to read more the post-match debrief and top five player review for the Fulham game can be found here. If nothing else, I could really do with the hits so please do take a look. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

Fulham v Brentford. Post match debrief and player ratings.

22 Aug

Fulham 3. Brentford 2. A game of two halves, five goals but no points. This time.

The Bees managed to get themselves level

As ever at this point we look to see who makes our top five, who gets the star man award and who could be in with a chance of starting against Everton.

And as ever, the answers are here…..

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

Everton – Brentford. Post-match debrief and star player ratings.

16 May

Everton 2 Brentford 3. Another win for the Bees. Another morale boost ahead of the season finale with Leeds United this Sunday. 7 wins from the last 10 games played and the top half of the table very much in Thomas Frank’s sights.

As ever at this point, we look back on who scoops the star man award For Brentford? Who made the top five as Everton ended up with as many goals scored as red cards earned? Will Thomas be making any changes for ‘that’ game with Leeds United?

The answers are here in the post match debrief . Enjoy…..

Nick Bruzon

The dream is on.

16 May

What a Sunday. Brentford were magnificent, simply magnificent, in a 3-2 defeat of 9 man Everton. Burnley robbed by the most dubious of penalties at Spurs. Leeds United leaving it to 90+2 to salvage a draw that keeps them one point above The Clarets, albeit with a game more played. Next weekend is going to be huge. The Bees still with a very realistic chance of a top ten finish. As interestingly, that final relegation spot is going to go to the wire. The dream really is on. Should Burnley pick up a point in either of their final two games, then Brentford will have the final say in who goes down. Could it be Leeds? Could it….?

What an afternoon

Let’s start at Goodison Park though. We’ve likely all caught up with it by now. Either live at the ground, on Sky as events unfolded or perhaps later on MOTD2. The tale of the tape being goals for Wissa, Rico and an o.g. to give Brentford the points. 

Everton ending the game with 9 men after straight reds for both Jarrad Branthwaite and Salomon Rondon. The master outsmarting the apprentice on the other bench as Thomas Frank played his substitution cards with all the insight of a man reading the game as a scholar would the Encyclopædia Britannica. Lampard, meanwhile, was stuck on Page 2 of Topsy and Tim Play Football with no clue which way to turn. 

Even the undoubted king of shithousery Richarlison, a man who makes Neal Maupay look like Mother Theresa, unable to salvage the game for the Toffees.

Required reading

The post-match debrief is up here with all the info on who did what. For now, we need to reflect on the bigger picture. On the fact that Brentford are not only closing in on the top ten but we played a ferocious atmosphere and shut it down. We survived the desperation of a 3.30am firework laden wake up call to deliver a few rockets of our own. Our supporters immense. Our players, equally so. Thomas shuffling his pack before the decision was taken out of his hands on an afternoon when you were never quite sure what colour card would come next.

Most of all though, it means that Sunday is going to be massive. Regardless of the midweek results when Burnley and Everton play their games in hand, that final relegation spot will be open. Leeds United still have matters outside their own control – my word, Thursday night at Villa Park is going to be some game  – and Brentford are the ones now in position to potentially send them back to the Championship.

Of course, we’ll be playing for league position. A win absolutely vital for Brentford if the dream of top ten in the Premier League is to become a reality. Anything else that may transpire off the back of that, nothing more than a consequence of our actions and our ambition. Not to mention our opponents’s season long bad form with only five clean sheets and their breaking the all time Premier League record for yellow cards in a campaign.

That said, the one thing you can bank on is that Bees’ fans would, universally, love that scenario to play out. Any Everton supporters worried about being overtaken should they somehow fail to pick up another point can rest assured that the Bees will be going for it.

Which sticks in the craw somewhat given the racial abuse dished out on social media and to the families of both Rico Henry and Ivan Toney by some of the home fans. It has all been reported to the Police but the fact this is still happening is utterly sickening. Utterly baffling. Let’s see what the club do in relation to this. It’s 2022 for crying out loud. Not the 70s. 

For that alone I’d love not doing them any sort of favour but, sadly, needs must and the bigger picture potential of the Bees recording our own victory is just too huge to contemplate.  With 7(seven) wins from the last 10 games and the only real negative being the off-key evening at Old Trafford, Brentford are on fire. Oh to make it an eighth on Sunday.

Rest assured, if Leeds United think that Brentford are going to be on their summer holidays nothing could be further from the truth.  I tell you this now. I’d love it if we can get the win. Absolutely love it. Leeds United went down in my estimation when they published that video, despite subsequently removing it. I’ve got a feeling that despite his diplomatic persona, Thomas Frank is thinking much the same.

Mind the gap…

Nick Bruzon

Who will fall apart? How hard might ‘the curse’ bite?

13 May

Come on already Sunday. Our trip to Everton cannot come soon enough with Brentford racing towards the end of the season and desperate to see what our final position may be. Not to mention who will be staying with us in the Premier League in 2022-23. A challenge for which both Leeds United and the Toffees were handed a huge boost when Mike Jackson of Burnley was named manager of the month for April. As if their next game wasn’t a tough enough challenge (Tottenham away), the Turf Moor outfit now have the added albatross of the MOTM curse hanging around their neck. We all know how that one goes – win the award ; lose the next game. Something enshrined in footballing folklore as the only greater harbinger of doom than a pre-match visit from ever popular BBC roving reporter Mark Clemmit.

We’ve covered that ground on these pages many times. Albeit worth recalling the quasi-scientific study undertaken in 2014-15 to try and put some meat on the bones of the claim that any club hosting Clem for a Football League Show feature would subsequently fail to win. A season long analysis followed which saw only 7(seven) victories for teams he visited. Out of 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford. The Hornets lead with all other results going their way, the title was in their grasp. With the BBC showing 90 minutes, Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished at 1-1. The title lost, with the final goal. All under Clem’s watchful eye.

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

I don’t have the figures for Manager Of the Month. Thomas Frank and Brentford can count themselves truly unlucky not to have scooped the prize this time around. 10 points out of 12 including that epic win at Chelsea a sequence that, one would have thought, made him a shoe in.

There you go. I’m happy to see Burnley on fire if that run has put the cat amongst the relegation pigeons. Now Everton and Leeds United are both in the mix. Now, Brentford have a genuine say in who will stay n the Premier League with us next season. Even if Burnley have the added pressure of a game at a Tottenham side whose thumping of Arsenal last night means the race for the Champions League spots is anything but over.

And that’s four…. an April that began at Chelsea not quite enough to see Thomas to the monthly prize

This Sunday is going to be intense. The Burnley game is on BT Sport at 12pm although you’ll need to follow on the wireless / ‘other sources’ if you want to keep pace with Leeds United – Brighton. 

Then, at 4.30pm, Brentford are up on Sky. The Everton game pushed back to this horrific time at the 11th hour, after most fans had already made their  transport chaos inflicted plans, in order to help West Ham prepare for the Europa League final. That worked well. They’ll just have to go on reminiscing about 1966 and the 1980 FA Cup final when it comes to talk of silverware. Trevor Broking with a header, apparently. If only somebody had menti…. etc etc etc 

Brentford, meanwhile, are left with an even trickier job. 5/2 the price on an away win. At least Thomas doesn’t have the extra jinx factor to contend with. That curse is a problem for Mick Jackson although I for one , hope he can beat it in what is sure to be a thriller at Tottenham. Let’s not go too far down that pun stern road though.

Instead, the priority has to be in hoping Everton and Burnley do the least badly out of the three teams slugging it out to join Watford and Norwich City in the Championship. Victory for Brighton, Burnley and Brentford probably the best combination of results. 

If only football was that simple to call. That said, let’s not forget we ran the numbers through a super computer in early April. Despite the mockery that came with that prediction – in both the article and online – the suggestion that Norwich, Everton and Leeds would be the sides sent down is still looking as though 2 out of 3 may be called correctly. Albeit, hands need to be held about Watford’s chances. Truly, I (sorry, the computer algorithms) hadn’t factored just how genuinely abject they were.

Whether it is Everton or Leeds joining the Hornets and Norwich remains to be seen, of course. The next part of that plays out at the weekend and I cannot wait. 

Now, if Clem – who, to be fair, has seen very much a reversal of his anti-form in more recent seasons – could ensure he was set to ‘jinx mode’ and then go visit the Elland Road training ground first, that would be just marvellous.

Beesotted shared this yesterday. Any incentive needed…??

Until then, there’s the post-fact debrief from our last game – the 3-0 defeat of Southampton – for anybody who would to read more. Stranger things and all that…

Nick Bruzon

You’re going to reap just what you sow.

12 May

That’s it. Brentford are officially playing in the Premier League next season. Last night’s 3-0 trashing administered to Leeds United by Chelsea – a game which saw yet another red card for the Elland Road outfit – means the last of the clubs who can technically catch the Bees have spurned the opportunity. With Everton pulling further clear following their 0-0 at Watford, the contrasts between Thomas Frank and Jesse Marsch’s teams couldn’t be greater. 

Mind the f*&king gap indeed. Those final two games are going to be immense.

The table this morning

For Brentford, the top half of the table is still very much the target. Four points the difference between us and a Brighton team currently sitting 9th. To survive in the top flight is an achievement that has already surpassed the expectations of just about every critic and pundit prior to the season kicking off. Genuinely, as anyone who reads these pages will know, I’ve always been confident in our ability. In where we’ll end. In how we’ll go. Even in that patchy period during the winter when wining a game seemed as likely as yours truly being invited to sit in the director’s box. 

Instead, we were given yet another reminder that a season lasts 38 games. Not 7(seven) or 8. The David Raya / green jacket / Christian Eriksen inspired run (delete as applicable) that we’ve enjoyed in the last few months, perfectly supplementing that wonderful start which even saw Brentford go top of the Premier League table after our opening fixture. Fact.

The last few months have seen some key contributions

None of this should be underplayed. A squad of predominantly Championship players not only holding their own but even administering more than a fair share of bloody noses. Liverpool. Chelsea. Arsenal. West Ham (twice) amongst those having the rug pulled from under their feet when it wasn’t expected. The crowd playing their part, too, with Lionel Road and the travelling support seeing the roof more than raised game in, game out. Thomas Frank, staying a tactical step ahead of everyone as the season has moved towards a most exciting conclusion.

Now, there are two games left. We start at an Everton team who will be desperate for another three points to boost their own survival hopes. An Everton team who have rediscovered the path to victory in recent weeks after sliding down the table faster than the BBC viewing figures when Mrs. Brown’s Boys are drafted in to replace Match Of The Day on a snow day.

Every football fan’s worst nightmare

That won’t be easy. Of course Brentford want to win. Of course we are pushing for that top ten finish. Equally, if Thomas Frank wants to use the game to preserve some tired legs. To give a run out to those returning from injury. To perhaps blood a few of the B team then so be it. This is all about the longer term. About next Sunday. About ensuring the squad are in peak shape for the game with Leeds United…

For the simple reasons that we all want to finish the season as we started it. With a win. Should that win come and it have any additional consequences then all well and good. You reap what you sow and one game shouldn’t be seen as the defining point in a campaign. If it is the game that sees us in the right place at the right time then all the better for it.

Of course the combination of Burnley, who have a game in hand, and Neal Maupay may have already determined Leeds’ fate. Brighton are the next visitors to Elland Road. They’ll be looking for the win to lock up their own position in the upper half of the table. There’ll be as many eyes on that one as there are at Goodison Park.

Whatever happens, happens. Personally speaking I’m loving the fact that the Premier League battle has gone all the way. At both ends. Brentford are now in a situation where we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. By which I mean our own league position of course. Whatever happens to anybody else is of their own making. Oh, to be the ones swinging the axe though….

I can’t wait for any of this. See you there. And then in the Premier League next season, too.

Might Neal inflict a fatal blow this Sunday?

Nick Bruzon    

Did we all enjoy our night at the theatre? Will anyone be able to go to Everton?

3 May

Farewell, oh luckiest of lucky omens. In the end, not even a magic green jacket could save Brentford on a night that saw Manchester United pick up all three points. On a night where the Old Trafford crowd put the theatre into theatre of dreams. The game played out in a bubbling cauldron of abject silence, save for the three thousand Bees’ fans in that far corner. Where Cristiano Ronaldo was the lead player – acting skills, feigning of injury and theatrical flailing of arms all coming to the fore. Where even Sammy Saunders’ name got more of a cheer than any song mouthed by the Untied. Their planned exodus in the 73rd minute failing to materialise. Hey, its easy to support your club when you are winning. It was a night made only more frustrating by today’s news about the game with Everton….

Farewell, my old friend

In the end, the Red Devils were worthy of the points after taking their chances in a 3-0 win which left many supporters feeling disappointed on the way back to London. For clarity, should read – which left many away supporters feeling disappointed on the way back to London. I’m sure the mood from the home contingent as they headed back down South was one very much of relief.

Old Trafford felt less a Theatre and more a Coliseum. A vast arena that once saw heroes triumph. Now, nothing more than a relic. Banners lauding Sir Alex Ferguson hanging from every vantage point. A ghoulish reminder of when they used to be any good. A spectre looking down over a team very much trading on former glories. One half-expected a bit of Jethro Tull for the run out music prior to kick-off. Brentford unable to take advantage of our own fine run and our opponents’ current self-destruct. Manchester United grateful for coming up against a team showing way too much respect and playing far too cautiously.

This despite a pulsating first ten minutes which saw it all Brentford until we were caught off guard. Beaten by pace. The game swung in an instant and Bruno Fernandes edged the offside trap by a hairs breadth before finding the back of the net.

During the war, Grandad

That was it. The hosts ahead and the game settling in to a much more even affair. Brentford attempting to dictate play via the magical boots of Christian Eriksen. Ivan Toney coming close. David de Gea called in to action on several occasions. Instead, it was United who had the second attempt but this time Ronaldo was offside. His hissy fit as the decision was given against triggering the expected reaction from the Bees. 1-0 down at half time and all to play for.

The second half then seeing two more goals, a bucketful more ‘gamesmanship’ and Brentford not really at the races. United looking as comfortable as they had every right to once the lead had been doubled following a foul by Rico in the box. Ronaldo unable to believe his luck – much like an opportunistic car thief finding a brand new motor with the engine running, a bow on top, the doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition. Who’s going to turn down that sort of gift horse? There was no mistake made and with the third goal coming moments after Brentford had mixed it up in midfield, the game was done.

Waking up this morning after just a few hours sleep, I’ll take one huge positive. That we are are genuinely downbeat not to have got at least a point from a game against Manchester United. It is a measure of just how far we’ve come. They rode their luck in the first game at Lionel Road and could well have been there for the taking had we gone for it as we had done all April.

Instead, United proved that games are won by seizing on moments. Dark Arts slow things down. Silent crowds, plastic fans and fake walk outs all an irrelevance. Ultimately, it comes to taking your chances and, last night, they did just that. Whatever feelings one may have, balls in the back of the net are what counts.

The player review is now up. That look at our top five performers. Something which was a bit more challenging than normal given the subdued approach to the game from Brentford. You can find that here.

Otherwise, the only other thing to do at this juncture is reflect on today’s 11th hour slap in the face in regards to the game with Everton. A Sunday afternoon already ruined by transport chaos, now made worse by those arrangements being thrown into disarray with kick off time being flipped to 4.30pm to accomodate TV. West Ham – Manchester City coming the other way nd getting our 2pm slot.

Brentford official moved quickly to give those supporters who had already purchased tickets a credit on their account. Yet, as with Liverpool (a), all the talk about not moving games so close to the actual date once again being proven to be the crock of shit that it is. Something to be taken as seriously as Cristiano Ronaldo claiming he’d been fouled.

Sky 1 Supporters 0. Sort it out please, BIAS. And not just the usual statement saying you are disappointed although, to be fair, the one published this evening has upgraded the anger rating to ‘disgusted’. Well said indeed. Now let’s see where that may lead….

Brentford Official, likewise. A credit for the fans is a wonderful gesture but won’t help anyone in rearranging travel that was already fraught so close to matchday. Nothing will happen. It never does.

Everybody will, somehow, find a way. We always do. But that doesn’t mean its easy and it certainly doesn’t mean its right. Sometimes, a tweet sums it up quite succinctly.

Nick Bruzon