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

18 May

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

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

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

An amazing game at Everton

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

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

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

What a moment at West Ham as Wissa leaves it late

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

Stock up on the popcorn.

Wiggle into that butt-groove.

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

Christian is well in the running for POTY

Nick Bruzon

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

The points needed to survive. The three teams going down.

6 Apr

You couldn’t have scripted it. With Brentford trashing Chelsea 4-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, those clubs at the bottom of the table hoping the Bees might be sucked into the relegation shake up have been dealt a brutal body blow. Not that we’re talking up that prospect on these pages – as the regular reader will know, top ten is still the target. Yet for Leeds United, Norwich City, Everton, Burnley, Watford and Newcastle (aka the bottom six) going down is still a very real prospect. The big question on everybody’s lips being – who survives?

The current bottom 6 + Brentford

I love this time of year. Everyone seems to be in possession of a supercomputer capable of predicting the results of the final games. Of seeing where each club may pick up points or where they may stumble.

We’re no different here and ahead of this evening’s game between Burnley and Everton at Turf Moor have run the numbers to see who will be playing Championship football next season. Now, the results are in.

A supercomputer, yesterday

First up, the good news for anybody anxious about Brentford. Looking at the current table, only one more point is needed to keep us safe. Whilst we haven’t run the full range of Bees’ games, those where we will encounter a bottom six club (Watford, Everton and Leeds United) have been included  and they see another 7(seven ) points added to the total. A win in Watford, a draw at Everton and then final game defeat of Leeds United. The level to which they fall apart could even have a determining outcome on the final place in our bottom three.

Norwich City are, sadly, doomed. They are currently bottom on 18 points and will only pick up 3 more. A last game of the season defeat of Spurs, because, you know – go out in style. Too little, too late to aid the survival battle but enough to ruffle some feathers.

After that, though, things get interesting. Newcastle United will finish highest of the 6 teams scraping for survival. Another 8 points added to their current 31 takes them up to 39. They’ve lost three on the bounce at present but what looks on paper to be a relatively gentle run in (a three game sequence against the Champions League contenders aside) should see them pick up enough to guarantee another season of top flight football.

Watford are also home. Of the bottom 6, they’ll pick up the most points from their remaining fixtures. 13 points, including crucial defats of relegation rivals Leeds United, Burnley and Everton will see them end the season in 16th place on 35.

So we’ve three more clubs looking at two relegation spots. Everton, Burnley and Leeds United.

The Frank Lampard effect won’t be enough to save Everton. Their form is abysmal. Their run in too tough. The best they can hope for is another 7 points. Defeat this evening to Burnley will see the slide towards the EFL continue and they will finish the season in 19th with 32 points.

Even with the level of help given in the FA Cup, Everton won’t make it

Meaning Leeds United and Burnley slug it out for that final spot. Incredibly, it’s going to end level. Burnley with 12 and Leeds picking up just 3 (home to Brighton in the penultimate game) will see both sides finish on 33 points. Goal difference will be key. As it stands, Leeds are on -33 and Burnely on -18, meaning that the Elland Road outfit seem to be on the way out of the top flight given that chasm will only grow wider. Their last game of the season taking place at Lionel Road and sure to be about as tense an affair as they come. Brentford pushing for the top ten. Leeds fighting to survive?

Could this pan out? Is it nothing more than fantasy football (our reader will know yours’ truly strengths when it comes to that)? Or should the green jacket just stay on for the next six weeks?

Who knows. I tell you one thing, if it did come downs to the Lionel Road denouement, just about he perfect season would achieve legendary status. Come on Brentford. Come on !

For anybody still taking note, below is where the points will be gained and dropped. For anyone else, here’s the Chelsea player review.

That final fixture breakdown…..

BURNLEY 12 points

06-04-22 Everton (H) W

10-04-22 Norwich (A) W

17-04-22 West Ham (A) L

 21-04-22 Southampton (H) W

 24-04-22 Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) L

 30-04-22 Watford (A) L

 07-05-22 Aston Villa (H) L

 15-05-22 Tottenham (A) L

 19-05-22 Aston Villa (A) L

 22-05-22 Newcastle United (W) 

NORWICH CITY 3 points

10-04-22 Burnley (H) L

 16-04-22 Manchester United (A) L

 23-04-22 Newcastle United (H) L

 30-04-22 Aston Villa (A) L

 07-05-22 West Ham (H) L

 11-05-22 Leicester ( A) L

 15-05-22 Wolverhampton Wanderers (A) L

 22-05-22 Tottenham (H) W

WATFORD 13 points

09-04-22 Leeds (H) W

16-04-22 Brentford (H) L

 23-04-22 Manchester City (A) L

 30-04-22 Watford v Burnley (H) W

 07-05-22 Crystal Palace (A) D

 11-05-22 Everton (H) W

 15-05-22 Leicester City (H) W

 22-05-22 Chelsea (A) L

LEEDS UNITED 3 points

09-04-22 Watford  (A) L

25-04-22 Crystal Palace (A) L

30-04-22 Manchester City (H) L

08-05-22 Arsenal (A) L

11-05-22 Chelsea (H) L

15-05-22 Brighton (H) W

22-05-22 Brentford (A) L

EVERTON 7 points

06-04-22 Burnley (A) L

09-04-22 Manchester United (H) L

20-04-22 Leicester (H) W

24-04-22 Liverpool (A) L

01-05-22 Chelsea (H) L

07-05-22 Leicester (A) L

11-05-22 Watford (A) L

15-05-22 Brentford (H) D

19-05-22 Crystal Palace (H) W

22-05-22 Arsenal (A) L

NEWCASTLE UNITED 8 points

08-04-22 Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) D

17-04-22 Leicester (H) W

 20-04-22 Crystal Palace (H) D

 23-04-22 Norwich ( A) W

 30-04-22 Liverpool (H) L

 08-05-22 Manchester City (A) L

 16-05-22 Arsenal (H) L

 22-05-22 Burnley (A) L

As famous faces look on, opportunity knocks.

4 Mar

We’ve had a few days down time but now, with the next game here, time to get back on the horse. Last time out was about as emotive and angry as it gets although, at least, the correct decision was eventually made. Not that it changes anything about what’s going on in the more immediate short term. Please do have a read – you can find that here. Back home, Brentford face a trip to Norwich City. We’ll be minus Josh Dasilva after his red card in the game with Newcastle United for a team that will, surely, start Christian Eriksen this time around. Talk about a half decent option lying in wait ! For those of us kicking our heels until the weekend, there was also the chance to see our own FA Cup vanquishers, Frank Lampar…. etc Everton, in action last night as they progressed to the quarters watched by a trio of famous faces from Absolute Radio.

L-R : Matt Dyson, Glenn Moore, Andy Bush are joined by Michael Caine

The obvious starting point is Norwich City v Brentford. Dean Smith v Thomas Frank. A game against a Canaries side who look were looking nailed on for a return to the Championship until, eventually, earning a first win of the season at, errr, Lionel Road. A game that ended in the ignominious position of Charlie Goode playing up top. It was to be Daniel Farke’s last at the helm and , since then, our ex has seen his team pick up the points although still remain adrift. Win the game and they are four points (effectively five, given goal difference) begin Brentford). Lose it and the gap becomes a chasm. 

For Brentford, less a must win and more a don’t lose. With Watford hosting Arsenal and Burnley entertaining (if that’s the word) Chelsea, this weekend sees a wonderful opportunity to put some clear air between the bottom three and the rest of the Premier League. With Everton facing a trip to sporadic Spurs and Leeds United, now bereft of Marcello Bielsa, looking to see if they can stop their catastrophic haemoraging of goals at Leicester City, its not just the bottom three with a vested interest in how the game at Carrow Road turns out.

Another trip to Norwich – H still not ready for his debut

For what its worth, I’m not sure playing it safe is the way to go in this one. Playing for a point a somewhat redundant exercise. Norwich will recognise the opportunity this represents for them given our own current run of form. Given our own no-show against Newcastle last week. That,  a game which we can file in the bottom five performances of the season: Southampton (a), Burnley (a), Brighton (a) and Norwich (h) being the other four.

They’ll be on us from the off. Let them. The best form of defence is attack. Cut the cagey sideways stuff. It hasn’t worked . Feed Ivan. Start Christian. Let the centre backs do their job. Hope we don’t concede a corner (albeit that has been much, much less of a problem since David Raya and the defence have got back in sync after that long absence). As much as anything, keep it loud from the crowd. “Where are you? WHERE ARE YOU? Let’s be ‘avin you!”, to coin a phrase.

Happy birthday??? to my good friend Delia

If nothing else, Norwich are hitting anti-form too. Aside from losing in the FA Cup midweek, their previous three Premier League games have seen 9 goals conceded in a run of defeats that culminated in that rarest of things against Southampton. Namely, Dean Smith not claiming he was managing had deserved to win. Anything but, with his post match interview revealing that, “The better team won on the night, we can’t argue with that”. Not. A. Typo.

So if this is an opportunity for them, it is very much one for us. A chance to get back to winning ways. The first of two huge games (Burnley are at home next week) where we could really inflict some relegation pain on our opponents aswell as shushing any noise about the R word amongst our own support. Form isn’t great, that’s for sure, with Newcastle giving some genuine concern about our ability to get stuck in and to adapt. It IS hard playing with ten men but it was still frustrating, even allowing for the deficit. The positive being how we played until the red card was, understandably, shown. Despite the best efforts of one supporter to persuade Mike Dean otherwise….

You can’t blame him for trying

Win, lose or draw the previous game is forgotten about after 24 hours. That’s the mantra from Thomas Frank. It needs to be one we stick to this weekend. We’ll have 11 men on the pitch and a chance to calm any nerves. Of course we had the same chance last weekend and fluffed our lines. Fingers crossed there’s no repeat this time around. There shouldn’t be. And you can catch up on the player / team performance ratings from that Newcastle game here.

The other lead in to this one was at Everton in the FA Cup last night. Boreham Wood eventually going down 2-0 but preserving their ‘goals against’ column longer than Brentford did in the previous round. We’d let in two by the time that Salomon Rondon eventually broke the non-leaguer’s hearts. Spurred on by a crowd of over 38,000 (that included Absolute Radio DJs Andy Bush,  Matt Dyson and Glenn Moore), the Toffees found it hard going to break down a resolute backline. Victory was eventual and, perhaps, inevitable but the manner of the performance will give further heart to Leeds, Watford, Burnley and those other clubs fighting it out at the wrong end of the Premier League table.

All being well, that won’t include Brentford. One can’t ignore form. One can recognise the opportunity of the next two games which, if taken on top of our current points total, should see us propelled well, well clear. 

For what it’s worth, I’m still totally confident. This is the Premier League, not a walk in the park. There are no easy games but there are those we’ll have earmarked. Norwich will be one. And I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there. 

He came on against Newcastle. Surely a start is next?

Nick Bruzon

Josh a rare Raya sunshine on an otherwise dreadful day.

6 Feb

At least we can concentrate on the league…. There you go. Tick. That said, it would be nice if Brentford could concentrate on actual defending because dial in anywhere near that level of backline based ineptitude against Manchester City on Wednesday night and it’s going to get grammatical (if you know what I mean). Do we need to spell it out? Brackets!! Brentford gave Frank Lampard the most generous of debuts as Frank Lampard’s Everton went through to the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday afternoon. A 4-1 victory for the Toffees the result that, as ever, doesn’t tell half the story. Thankfully. Lampard given the warmest of welcomes by the Bees in the most miserable of conditions. It was wretched. Dismal. Dank. Overcast. The weather was shite too, matching the performance of our centre backs as the goals rained in.   

Two goals conceded from corners. Nobody moving to try and direct the ball outwards for either.  The second corner in particular an absolute horror show as Mads Bech elected to head the ball goalwards and right into the path of Mason Holgate – one of several unmarked players btw. The Everton man making no mistake from close in but, then again, presented such an opportunity even Ian Moose might have come close to an early birthday present (tomorrow is the day). Possibly. 

If you pause the highlights, you can see the defensive masterclass in full effect

It was the nail in the coffin of a relatively even game which Ivan Toney had pulled us back into with a trade mark penalty for 2-1 down and then come painfully close to levelling things up. Brentford had been in the ascendency at that point. The travelling support sensing the chance to reassert ourselves into a cup tie that had looked like getting away from us.

This, after Yerry Mina had been left unchallenged in a first half corner routine and danger man Allan (hey, we did say before) freed Richarlison to burst clear with the second half barely minutes old. David Raya (not a typo !!!!!!) in nets left cruelly exposed and despite rushing off his line, unable to stop the lead being doubled.

Raya was back – and played the whole game

Ah yes, David Raya. The cheer from the few Brentford fans pitch side when his name was announced at 2pm (the crowded vomitories a much better idea in hindsight) was louder than anything our hosts mustered most of the game. It was a strangely lacklustre atmosphere, with the singing not even starting until the third goal had rained in. Not even as the teams entered the pitch to the shrill whistling of the theme tune from TV’s Z-Cars. Dogs left howling at the moon all around Goodison.

It should have set the mood for the messiah but instead, the mood felt more one of caution amongst a fanbase who hadn’t seen their team take the lead since October 23rd 2020. They needn’t have worried. It’s Brentford, inniit. Our defending of – and also, for the record, taking – set pieces as atrocious as it comes. And has been for much of the season. Long throws are predictable. Free kicks tepid. Corners need to be headed clear. Not watched. 

Ethan Pinnock had been named initially at 2pm before going awol when the players came out and the team sheet recirculated. No idea what happened here. Late Covid test ( sadly, Bryan also missed out after testing positive for the dreaded c word  once more)? Dressing room bust up? Fat fingered typos from ‘official’? Whatever the reason, his aerial presence was missed. Much like our attempts to head the ball clear. Mads and Pontus amongst those who really won’t want to watch this one back but should be forced to, in full. Twice.

Now you see him, now you don’t

Poor Alvaro Fernandez. The stick he has taken. Understandably for a lot of it (oh, that Liverpool backpass thing alone) but perhaps not just down to one man as the frenzied mob on Twitter may have you believe.

Look, at least David Raya was back. Being honest, I didn’t expect him. Surely this was too soon with just 60 minutes of a friendly under his belt? Apparently not. Seeing him warm up was reason alone to brave the elements rather than go backstage for that prematch pint. Oh, the throws, The catches. The confidence. His distribution once things got going for real was reason enough to feel the optimism coursing through the veins even moreso than usual. That we were back to our old selves.  Then he was sold up the river as the midfield and defence invited Everton to help themselves.

The other huge plus point was the return of Josh Dasilva. My word, his twenty minute cameo late on was about as welcome as they get. Not just the relief in seeing him back out there for the first time this season but, like David Raya, the comfort with which he slipped straight back in. The excitement he engenders. The optimism he inspires. That ‘next level’ movement on the ball. “Shoooot’ implored the crowd as he worked it round the edge of a crowded penalty box. Alas, it didn’t come this time. Instead, the net only rippled at the other end when Andros Townsend was invited to administer one final, injury time kick to the private parts of the Brentford faithful. Down and now very much out. Out of the cup. Out of the game. Out of the misery of desperately hanging on for a late goal then last gasp blitzkrieg assault. Of David Raya heading home for 3-3 on 90+4.

Ahh. One can dream. Instead, we endured a living nightmare.

Look – I hate to put the boot into our team. We’ve made the step up to top flight football with a largely Championship side (Kris Ajer aside). We’ve mostly held our own, too. I don’t care for getting upset about our transfer policy. Keep on shouting into the echo chamber of social media, kids. It won’t change what or how we do things. It certainly won’t change the ability of those players out there to show some guts. Show some fire in the belly when under the cosh.

And they didn’t do that yesterday. Not even close.

Everton were there for the taking. Instead, we offered them hope, comfort and the ball. They took all three gifts and fully deserved to win the game. You could see them grow from strength to strength as the Bees became shakier and shakier. No sour grapes there. Well played. I just wish Brentford could have done similar.

sledgehammer like unsubtlty to show how shaky we were

The other way to look at this was that the game was a ‘free hit’. True, we’ve fuelled the Frank Lampard hype train which nobody needs (and it will be interesting to see if this goes on to become a flash in the pan or solid foundations) but haven’t, actually, dropped any points. If we were going to go ‘full abject’ then at least this was the time to do it rather than when chasing a top ten finish.  

The league table still sees us in 14th place with Watford and Burnley drawing 0-0 in their much postponed game last night. We’ve got another free hit on Wednesday evening with the trip to Manchester City. Nobody outside TW8 expects anything of us given their all conquering squad, form and current performance levels. The team are 9 points clear at the top of the Premier League with Liverpool the closest to think about about trying to hang on to their coat tails. They’ll win the league at a canter. You don’t need to be Nostradmus to see that. The only question being if Brentford can possibly slow them down.

Play like this and there’s no hope. It’ll take more than Josh, David and Christian Eriksen (who only arrives in West London today). Forget the set piece coach. We might need an actual coach on the goal line. Yet if Thomas can do his usual ‘dwell on it for 24 hours only’ thing then move on, who knows what might happen? We’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain. This is the chance to truly test ourselves at the very highest level. On the toughest of stages. 

Don’t expect any formation rejig. Three CB has been the way we’ve played all season – and the back end of last.

Manchester City away is not the place to experiment.

Manchester City away IS the place to up your performance levels and, at Everton, they were sub zero. 

No more said. We all know. We were all there (well, 2.300 of us). We’ve all seen the highlights although here if you want to torture yourself again they’re here. We can’t change what happened. We can change what comes next. 

Now bring on City.  

It all looked so good pre kick off

Nick Bruzon

Excitement continues to build as we run out of E’s.

5 Feb

Brentford are back on the road to Wembley. Back in action after a two week break that has seen everything from ‘that’ video nonsense through exciting news from Aston Villa, transfer deadline day and possibly the biggest story in world football. Not even Frank Lampard taking charge at today’s hosts, Frank Lampard’s Everton, came close to the announcement that Christian Eriksen has joined The Bees on a six-month contract. The former manager of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea having to play second fiddle to the quite wonderful news out of Lionel Road. The ‘feel good’ story of the year has seen shirts flying off the shelves with so many names printed that the club have reportedly running out of E’s.

Insert usual file photo

Thomas Frank would use the press conference ahead of today’s FA Cup fourth round tie at Goodison Park to talk about the great Dane, saying, “It’s potentially the greatest signing ever for the club. The day that Christian steps onto the pitch will be an unbelievable day. What happened to him in June was a shock for all of us. To see him out on the pitch soon is going to be a big day.

Hear, hear !! We could talk about Christian all day long but, for now, with the player due to start his first training session this Monday our focus has to be on Everton. On the FA Cup. On the second part of a three act play between the Bees and the Toffees. On our first visit to Goodison Park in, well, a long, long time. Most Brentford fans, TC aside, won’t have set foot inside this famous old stadium before. It is a trip that has long been in the diary for the Premier League but now we get a sneak preview.

Our second trip to Liverpool this month

The atmosphere is sure to be an electric one. The fans of both clubs well, well up for it. Will Everton, freed from the shackles of Rafa Benitez, be a rejuvenated force under the former Chelsea and Frank Lampard’s Derby County manager? Or is this a chance to catch them cold as they adjust to this latest attempt at finding the right man to steer them back to the upper echelons of the league table / stay up?

If you count the temporary double stints for Duncan Ferguson and David Unsworth, Lampard is the 11th occupant of the Everton hotseat since David Moyes ended his 11-year stint in 2013.

The first encounter between our clubs this season was a game of football. That’s the factual term and about as exciting as we could get. It ended in victory for Brentford. 1-0. Ivan Toney doing what he does from the penalty spot. The Bees grateful for the points and we park it there. Everton abject. Dreadful. The wrath of Benitez nothing but a spent force. A manager sleepwalking to his inevitable demise.  Lucas Digne, doing his very best to make friends and influence people in a display of bad sportsmanship best consigned to the waste bin of history. Still, he’s Steven Gerrard’s problem now. The pantomime villain now at Aston Villa and so the Brentford supporters denied the opportunity to greet him in the obvious style. Perhaps, instead, that honour will fall to everyone’s favourite Brazilian.

Pele. Alisson. Ronaldinho. Socrates. Zico. Err… Allan. He remains, even now, an enigmatic figure in our house. Talking to our Harry about the most unexotic sounding South American since Fred, the subject of this somewhat random cult-hero (see also: Lucas Biglia) was discussed.  “Allan tomorrow. What are we going to do?

H is only 8 years old but is well, well aware of how football works. Friendships and admiration count for nothing when the whistle blows. There’s no half and half love in there. “Boo him all game, dad.

Apologies, Allan. Don’t blame me, blame the kid.

Allan

As for the Brentford team, well there was great news out of the press conference. Thomas Frank confirming we’ll put out a strong team with Matthias Jensen and Rico Henry both recovered from that awful moment in the game against Wolves. Then there’s David Raya and Josh Dasilva who both played for an hour in the behind closed doors game with Aston Villa during the week. Thomas updating us with some potentially wonderful stuff:

David looked his normal self. I just need to speak to my staff now to see if David can start on Saturday. That was Josh’s third game. You can see three or four of those top actions where you just smile.

Personally speaking, I’d imagine Thomas will bide his time and hold David back for Crystal Palace. Obviously we’re all on the outside looking in so who knows how strong he is atm. He’s been out such a long time that this suddenly feels like 0-60 in 0.5 seconds. I mean, if he’s fit and good then that’s wonderful news but given his importance to our team, one can’t help but feel a bit of trepidation. There’s no point taking a risk this close to his return unless , of course, he’s back up at 100%. The announcement of our team by ‘official’ at 2.01pm will be an interesting one, that’s for sure !

Until then, safe travels everyone. Let’s do this. If nothing else, off the back of Everton fan and Absolute radio DJ Andy Bush giving the Bees an on-air kicking last night when describing this as our ‘one year tour’ of the Premier League. Can’t think why he had been prodded – whether it wsas the ask he play Down, Down by The Quo or something else – but there you go 😉  . 

That said… marvellous as it was that he obliged with a smattering of the Double Denim, how wonderful would it be to make the king of the Indie disco get a plate with some words and a knife and a fork….

See you there.

Nick Bruzon