Archive | Fulham RSS feed for this section

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…..

Fulham game sees the worst ending possible. After full time.

22 Aug

The morning after the weekend before. An intriguing two days of Premier League football where, of course, for Brentford the only result that really counted was the 3-2 reverse at Fulham. A scoreline that does little to tell the story of a game that went back and forth until, eventually, there was 90th minute heartbreak after the Bees had thrown a second-half kitchen sink at our hosts. It was a defeat where any feel good factor from last weekend’s demolition of Manchester United was gone in 44 seconds although one in which, eventually, the result really could have gone either way. Elsewhere, Everton warmed up for Saturday’s trip to Lionel Road with their first point on the board whilst the Priti Patel saga had further ‘light’ shed on it. You’ve been warned so please feel free to leave now if that upsets you.

However, the real subject for discussion this morning has to be the game at Fulham. By all rights, Brentford should have been dead in the water and out of sight within the opening quarter. 2-0 down after Joao Palhinha had doubled their lead with twenty minutes on the clock whilst between their opening pair, Aleksander Mitrovic had also seen one chalked off by VAR. Truly, it was a woeful start from The Bees. Think Southampton away or Everton (FA cup) levels of bad. We would also accept: Burnley (a) or Norwich (h).

Brentford reeling. The team that had blown Manchester United off the park just a week earlier now being outclassed and outpaced. No movement and second to everything. Fans still showing wonderful support but wondering where anything would come from. Fulham one goal away from properly putting it to bed. Except, of course, they didn’t. As we’ve all seen now, The Bees clung on until 44 minutes when Christian Norgaard leathered a corner kick from Mathias Jensen straight past Bernd Leno on the volley. Our first and only real moment of attacking intent leaving the Fulham ‘keeper for dead. 2-1 at half time and, suddenly, the scoreboard offered a glimmer of hope.

It was an opportunity seized with both hands. Ivan Toney a man possessed as he found the back of the net three times. One, fair enough offside. One, on 55 minutes, as close and dubious as they come. It took a good two minutes of VAR deliberation and set squares before his trailing leg was eventually adjudged to be interfering with play. As he turned away from the Fulham goal. They’re the rules but, as we’ve seen so many times, they don’t half kill the game. It was a beautiful finish and deserved more.

Had we equalised then, who knows what might have been? Brentford with their tails up and driving forwards. As it is, things were levelled on 70. Ivan Toney, again. This time the goal allowed to stand – moreso as there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. 2-0 down and looking dead in the water now back to 2-2 and only one team in the driving seat. Fulham woke up. David Raya in nets absolutely wonderful. Save followed save as the game swung back and forth. Toney denied a late penalty after Mr Bankes deemed he’d thrown himself to ground when clean through in the box and bearing down on goal. As he does. Apparently.

A game that swung back and forth

In the end though, it wasn’t to be. Mitrovic doing a Jota. 90 minutes on the clock and he out jumped Bryan Mbeumo (don’t, just don’t) to steer home a ball that could, probably should, have been well cleared prior. Brentford not quite able to see it through. Fulham with all the points. What is their to say?

No complaints from here. We’d shot ourselves in the foot early doors but at least had sufficient about ourselves to launch a quite wonderful fight back. A game is won over 90 minutes, not 20, and whilst we couldn’t quite do the business this time the opening three games have shown there is enough about this team to suggest the season will be an exciting one. 

The player review and deeper dive will are below.

For now, the other takeaways from the game perhaps revealing the real reason for defeat. A pre-match encounter with Harry Potter (Simon, not the boy wizard) brought about this shocking revelation that.. “I’m teetotal today.” 

I’m sorry? What?” Was the reply from TC with genuine incredulity. The human embodiment of Gunnersaurus, Brentford’s own Winston Churchill, universally known in TW8 for his bighearted exuberance and love of all things Brentford. Perhaps those vocal styling were stifled by a dry throat. Who knows?

Brentford’s own Harry Potter

Elsewhere, there was the bizarre sight, or should that be sound, of Freed From Desire being played moments before the teams walked out. Seriously? I mean, not complaining but talk about a way to stoke up the away fans. The only thing missing was a AA with Hey Jude. By all accounts, they’s also played YNWA when Liverpool visited last week. Go figure.

Something which then gave their subsequent post match tweet regarding Ivan Toney an even more bizarre twist.

I’m sorry? What?

Then there was the away end. Appreciate they are still finishing off their new stand on the river side (something that has taken even longer to build than La Sagrada Familia) but having a mixed zone of home and away fans in the bar areas behind the goal felt odd. That’s the polite term. Unsegregated football hasn’t been a thing for decades and whilst we’re all a friendly bunch in the main, it’s an emotional game. A trailblazing step in the right direction or an accident waiting to happen? There was no bother that I saw although I heard differently from others. Their next few home games see visits from Brighton and then Chelsea. Good luck.

For Brentford, Everton are next up. An 88th minute equaliser saw them pick up a first point of the season at home to Nottingham Forest. Only Wolves, Leicester City, West Ham and Manchester Untied below them in the table. It’s not been the best start, with injuries and departure compounding to their woes from last season. On paper, the perfect opposition for Brentford. In practice, they’re already in survival mode. A caged tiger of a team. Backed in to corner and fighting for their lives or, at the least, to prove all the pundits wrong. The awesome power of everyone’s favourite Brazilian, Allan, currently confined to the bench but surely set to be unleashed at Lionel Road.

Pele. Zico. Ronaldo. Socrates. Allan

Ok. Turn away now if you are going to get upset about more Priti Patel. Last time out we asked on these pages what had happened there? Put the questions out there to try and understand why our stadium had been turned into a political arena? Moreso, when the person in question holds views that are so diametrically opposed to those of the club. We eventually got a brief statement saying that she had been invited by the Premier League, journalists had gone off topic and it wasn’t our media team controlling events. It was as neutral an ‘answer’ as would have been expected.  

Bees United were quicker out of the blocks, noting that, amongst other things whilst it hadn’t been us that invited her, the club “Should have anticipated that the media would ask about wider political issues such as government policy towards asylum seekers. Brentford’s stadium thus became the background for political views which are not universally shared by fans”

You can read that one in full, here.

Whatever the explanation. Whatever the outcome. One thing is clear that we all share different views. The vast majority of Brentford fans would seem to be extemely unhappy about what played out. I’m still of the belief that things could have been handled differently. That things should have been handled differently. That’s me.

We’ve not even had a formal piece on the real reason for her visit but, all things considered, that horse has long since bolted and perhaps it is best one we all box off. 

Our club have always been amazingly proud of their values and the amazing work being done on that front. If any positive can be taken out of all this, it is that the reaction of so many supporters shows how much we all share these. That, for me, is the real story to take away from all of this. Now let’s never talk of it again.

Finally, if there was one thing worse than the final score at Fulham it was the disaster that befell yours truly after the game. With the club putting out a tweet before kick off about the wonderful change shirt being worn for this match, the thought process naturally gravitated towards the brown/orange. Which was duly worn. Rightly so, until walking back to the pub it snagged against a bit of metal on the side of a white van. Disaster. Nooooooo. Ruined.

Like punching a hole in the face of the Mona Lisa, a masterpiece has been ruined. Kitman Bob? The club shop? Anyone? Is there a spare out there? Does anyone have one of these Jaffa caked beauties lying around gathering dust? I’ll be at the Everton and would be happy to broker a deal. Probably let’s play safe and say in an XL.

Over to you. Please…

Nick Bruzon

We’ve had an absolute shocker. Is there a response coming ahead of the weekend?

19 Aug

Brentford travel to Fulham on Saturday afternoon. Our first West London derby of the season (and, for the record, anyone boring off about the postcode can shove their clackers where the sun don’t shine). Our stock is still high after tanking Manchester United 4-0 and the smile still broad following one of THE greatest Bees’ performances of all time. It should be an amazing time, and it is, yet one can’t help feel the edge was taken off things somewhat on Thursday evening. We’ll get to all things Fulham and Man U in a moment but the topic on everybody’s mind – certainly going by social media – was Priti Patel being allowed to use Lionel Road to spout off about the government’s hugely divisive and controversial policy to send immigrants to Rwanda.

Fixed it for you, official

Stop Brentford. Stop. How on earth was this allowed to happen? Why was this allowed to happen? Never mix sport and politics is a golden rule that has been completely overlooked. Where was the swift response and explanation after Sky ran the story late in the afternoon?

Those of us just coming in from work were greeted by the Home Secretary in the South Stand at Lionel Road, attempting to justify this abhorrent policy. That’s my view, others may differ, but reading my own timeline it seemed that Bees’ supporters were united in shock, disgust and outrage at our home being used for such purposes.

Presumably she was there for footballing purposes but any such reasons were not made clear. I looked on Brentford ‘official’ and there was no story about her visit. Instead, all we have was the piece on Sky News – here for the record – and a lot of upset fans. Upset and confused. 

The club have been groundbreakers in diversity. In inclusion. In supporting refugees. In standing up to hatred and abuse. We are known for it and, quite rightly, trumpet all the amazing work we do in this field. There’s no place better for feeling welcomed. 

To then see our club used as the backdrop for what is about as inhumane a policy as one could imagine, from a government who have long proven themselves to be morally redundant and totally self-serving, is at odds with everything we stand for.

I doubt very much Ms. Patel just dropped in on the off chance. This sort of visit would have been properly lined up. Likewise, her views and policies are well, well documented. This should not have been a surprise and so for her to use our home for such propaganda purposes has left many of us feeling extremely let down. That’s the polite term. 

Why the heck our media and comms team have not been all over this up front and making crystal clear the line of political questioning a football club were comfortable to be associated with, used as a platform for,  is an explanation I’d love to hear. Instead, we got tumbleweed. No doubt (he says) there’ll be something pushed out today. There had better be but, regardless, judging by the reaction from fans – just a few of the many, many, many comments are below – it is already way too late and should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.

Right, Fulham away. Less than a third of the usual number of Brentford fans will be present for this one, given the dearth of tickets made available but rest assured we’ll be just as loud. The atmospheres at both Leicester City and then home to Manchester United ripped the roof off and I can only see more of the same coming for this one.

Frankly, I can’t wait. Memories of THAT 4-1 or Neal Maupay denying them automatic in the 89th still live strong in the mind. Our hosts devastated in their own backyard. Silenced by the Bees  – not that you could tell there was any difference from the normal happy-clappy, gin swigging, cake eating, foam finger waving, Michael Jackson worshipping, clacker filled vibe.

Stuart Dallas – scorer of my favourite ever Bees goal (pre-Mbeumo v Man U)

That’s their problem. We’ll make it happen once again. Just as we’ve done before. Just as we did when putting four goals past Manchester United with little more than 30 minutes on the clock. Brentford were imperious. Magnificent. Devastating. Matthias Jensen having the game of his life and continuing that upward trajectory of form that has more than rewarded Thomas Frank’s faith in the Danish midfielder. Christian Eriksen left ruing his summer choice. Cristiano Ronaldo a series of hissy fits, strops and self-entitlement. Harry Maguire a broken man. Lisandro Martínez out of his depth – literally and metaphorically. 

They were dreadful whilst in Erik ten Haag appear to have unearthed the new Marinus Dijkhuizen. That’s their problem though. Let’s take nothing away from Brentford who were magnificent. Both tactically and in terms of gameplay. We hassled, closed down and out ran their (apparently) illustrious opponents to such an extent that, in the end, there was genuine disappointment that it ‘only’ ended 4-0. At one point I was seriously wondering if we might even inflict brackets on Manchester United. Such was they way we were playing, 7(seven)-0 would not have been out of the question. You can get the full view that one, here.

All well and good, of course. The cardinal error now would be in thinking that we have a divine right to steamroller Fulham on Saturday. That we’ll just turn up and inflict more of the same as we’ve done against them in the past or did to Untied last week. Whilst, personally speaking, I can only see us continuing our form you can be sure that Thomas Frank will have boxed off the previous results and is only looking forward. Is only too aware that Championship flat-track bully Aleksandar Mitrović has actually started to score goals in the Premier League. Two against Liverpool in their 2-2 draw could haven three, but for a missed penalty in the 0-0 at Wolves. 

The long story short here is that for all we were amazing this is a new game. That past results have happened. That whilst confidence is high, there’s nothing like a West London derby to set the pulse racing that bit faster. Both teams are unbeaten in their opening two games and even thought Brentford are on fire, it all starts from nothing once referee Peter Bankes blows the whistle at 3pm. I can’t wait for this one. See you there. 

More of this would be amazing

Nick Bruzon. 

Fulham promoted. And?

20 Apr

The reaction on Twitter to one Brentford fan offering congratulations to Fulham for wining promotion to the top flight last night (albeit, looking as though it was as much a dig at QPR as anything else) was entirely understandable and expected. This most pointless of local rivals. A club who have spent the last five years going up and down more often than the lifts at the Burj Khalifa. For whom their main goal threat is the ultimate flat track bully. Aleksandar Mitrović may have bagged a few in the Championship but seems to become Aleksandar Meerkat when he steps up a level to the Premier League. A place where goalscoring has been anything but ‘simples’.

My initial reaction to the news of their promotion was that classic Partridge shrug.

Having slept on things and reconsidered then its actually all good. Bear with me…

There’s a chance to laugh at neutral stands. Gin bars. Statues of Michael Jackson. Clackers. Foam fingers. Run out music for the warm up. An(other) inevitable relegation. Six points for the Bees. Perhaps even a second column from ‘Fulham fan’ Brian Guest and his Spall 87-88 Bees away shirt. The full story on that one is here. Oh, and did we mention neutral stands?

Brian Guest – Fulham note him as a fan despite the pain inflicted by the Bees

That’s before we get to a local game – the cost of a return ticket from Brentford to Putney sure to save a few pennies from the season long travel budget.

Before we get to reflect on Stuart Dallas scoring ‘that’ goal in ‘that’ 4-1 at the Cottage.

Moments, and sounds, like this make life all the sweeter

To Jota in the last minute. To Neal Maupay doing that amazing thing in the 89th.

To the closest I ever got to winning the Big Bob giveaway – Sam Saunders scoring in the 5th rather than 7th minute (Scott Hogan grabbing our second at that point) in what eventually became the 3-0 at Griffin Park. The game when Tom Field made a shock debut.

Or to the 4-0 HT lead that was the precursor to our eventual promotion from Division Three at Peterborough.

Oh, Jota….

Safe to say that there’s plenty to milk and enjoy about the return of the Fulham game next season. With Brentford still pushing for a top ten finish, securing mathematical safety is the first order of business. That said, I’m still more focussed on another mathematical possibility – a place in Europe. Albeit that relies on the Bees winning those final five games and Manchester United (amongst others) losing the same amount. Although on last night’s showing and their abject display at Everton, nothing would surprise me on that front.

All that’s to come. I’d offer congratulations to Fulham but why? No quarter given. No encouragement needed. Just another league double to dream of.

Nick Bruzon

A topsy-turvy day ends with a lot to be said for sustainable football.

1 Sep

In the end it all came to nothing for Brentford. Nobody in but nobody has gone and the transfer window has now slammed shut. Thankfully. Despite the lemming like collective jumping on the Fosu to Swansea City bandwagon, Tariqe is still a Bee. As are both Joel Valencia and Halil Dervişoğlu. None of those players moving out on anticipated loan with the former, apparently, floundering after Fulham failed to take Matt Grimes from the Liberty Stadium. Fosu having driven all the way to Wales in expectation before that one bit the dust. If you believe what you read. Which I didn’t. It made no sense and just goes to show you can’t always trust the Twitter rumour mill until things are done and dusted. The Athletic, amongst others, convinced it was on. It might have been but wasn’t. Well, I guess you get what you pay for.  Swansea clearly haven’t. Look positive though, its nothing compared to the mess at Barcelona.

Fosu. Deadline Day ended with Swansea trailing in his wake.

What else is there to say? Perhaps, as much as anything, is the question of why the Bees seemed set to offload a man popular with just about the entire fanbase and who has certainly proven his place? At one point it looked like we were going to have to start celebrating Canos Friday instead. And whilst, of course, supporters don’t decide team or managerial selection (thank goodness, based on some of the observations last season) , nobody could deny that this move seemed strange. Which is as much why trying to scratch below the surface will, once again, likely show why yours truly is the numpty on the terrace rather than anybody with any form of influence or input. 

Given his age, experience and development already I’m not sure the advantage to either Brentford or the player in sending him to Swansea? A club shedding players like a snake does its skin and positioned at the bottom end of the Championship table. Temporarily moving out a player who has always impressed for Brentford made no real sense, at face value. Perhaps there were deeper issues we are unaware of. Who knows?  

Maybe it was nothing more than looking to trim a squad that, per the GPG, is now one over the current maximum Premier League size of 25 (excluding Under 21 players).  As they put it, the current number of eligible players over 21 is 26. We still need one to go out. Or he sits on the sidelines. Albeit we have some temporary ‘respite’ on that side of things given Mads Bech would appear to be out for half the season at least. He can fill the somewhat unflattering ‘makeweight position’ in the short term and, as such, we may well see Tariqe in the Premier League.

Personally speaking, I’m just pleased there was no 11th hour bid for one of our ‘first name on the teamsheet’ players. Sergi Canos, Rico Henry, Ethan Pinnock and David Raya are still with us. There was no late, late bid to take Ivan Toney to Barcelona in lieu of the now departed Lionel Messi or Antoine Griezmann. £40m for the later a poor return on the £120m to bring him in just two seasons ago. The Catalan club off-loading their star names faster than Fulham exited the Prem last season. Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba taking wage cuts to keep the team within FFP limits whilst another £25m was recouped by the sale of Emerson Royal to Spurs.

Matthew Upson, commenting on the BBC live feed, would note. “For Messi to go says it all. I could not picture it. It has got that bad, we are seeing such a different Barca team – what will the team be like in coming seasons? To see it in thus position, I find it sad.”  

Why? As one source a bit  closer to West London said to me last night: “Why are so many people sad about it? Them and Real Madrid got so much more money than any other team just to maintain their cartel status and bring tourists to La Liga. F*ck ‘em. Get found out and go bust.”

Well said that man. Or woman. Brentford may not be going out and buying the big name players but, instead, we keep on doing our business the old school way. Albeit with a modern twist. Finding untapped talent and developing it. Building a squad through patience rather than remortgaging the house and putting the deeds on the line for an apparent quick fix solution. 

There’s a lot to be said for sustainable football.

Nick Bruzon 

Crash, Bang, Wallop. (What a video).

2 Oct

Brentford will play Newcastle United in the quarter finals of the league cup. A tie with another top flight side the reward for trashing Fulham in a game where Said Benrahma reminded the world just why he is so highly valued. Oh, that second goal. If the likes of Aston Villa, Crystal Palace or others are interested they’re going to have to stick another couple of 0s on his price. But this has to be about the brilliant Bees and a performance that means Championship Brentford have now beaten three Premier league teams this season. For context, that’s three more than Fulham. Who play in the Premier League.

Brentford were brilliant. Fulham were woeful. Dreadful. A top flight team on technicality alone. Certainly not on current performances. Only Michael Hector surviving from the team that were humped by Aston Villa at the weekend. He probably wishes he hadn’t after the public puling down of his pants administered by that man Benrahma en-route to his second, and our third, goal. Pure, pure filth. Something so obscene that by all rights, should have been shown well after the watershed rather than the second half of a late afternoon kick-off. 

Benrahma. So cool, he doesn’t even need to see his man to beat him

Cripes. The run, the turn, the nutmeg – oh the nutmeg – and then the finish from distance. If only to have had a full house there to witness it. Thanks a bunch, Corona. Instead, we had to be content with TV where there was at least the option to rewind and watch it again. And again. And Again. It was that good.

And if you’d like to watch more…..

Will he stay or will he go? (as popular music’s The Clash almost once sang). The transfer window now has an agonising few days until it finally creaks shut at 11pm on Monday night. I’d be ecstatic if he were to stay at Lionel Road. Certainly, there’s no need to sell but that’s not necessarily how it works.

As Thomas Frank himself commented at full time, “Am I confident he will stay? I’m confident that I would love him to stay…But I don’t know. Honestly, if the price is right we are open to selling, but if not we will be happy for him to stay.

That goal was so good, I barely remember our second (and the Algerian’s first). Something, something, something, backpost. It also drew all the attention from our opener. A quite wonderful move involving debutant Saman Ghoddos, who delivered a ball into the box from the right where Marcus Forss absolutely leathered it home. A strike combining equal parts power and placement. It would have graced any goal of the month competition but has already been blown out the water and had thunder very much stolen.

What a reaction from Marcus’ mum though….

More importantly though, it gives Thomas a real selection headache for the Preston game on Sunday. Does he revert to Ivan Toney, who of course got off the mark against Millwall last time out, or stick with the young Finn who seems to have a sledgehammer in his boot? Honestly!! How hard can he hit the ball? 

For what it’s worth, I’m sure he’ll go with Ivan. Our marquee signing will be chomping at the bit to further add to his haul whilst the lure of a rematch with former club Newcastle United is sure to have him even quicker on the toes than he already is. Forss will be a regular for sure. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but if he carries on like this it will soon. Another huge tick in the box marked ‘recruitment’. Who’s laughing now?

The one ‘sour’ note of the evening, and I use that word in the loosest sense, another piece of shameless tie-in obligation. With a hashtag. This time promoting the latest in the Crash Bandicoot series of video games. The competition was simple – spot the eponymous character on the screen and share a picture accompanied by the mantra #FoundCrash. Win a copy of the game.

It was no #novemberkings or #trophyfriends  (never, ever forget) but certainly in our top five. As one North Stand observer noted to our WhatsApp group , “I still can’t fully decide if this is better/worse than the Varney/Kurupt FM cringe off” . 

As shameless a promotional crossover as ever we’ve been obliged to undertake

Personally speaking, Kurupt FM’s visit to our chief executive was one of the best things we’ve ever done. So awkward it was amazing. Acting that, by all rights, should have seen Jon fast-tracked to a cameo role in Dream Team. If only that still existed. Certainly, a programme he knows well – as we learned over lockdown. If you are reading (you aren’t) then how about using your influence to nudge it back into existence. Imagine basing it at Lionel Road…

But we digress, massively. Brentford gave the fans plenty to smile about. Newcastle United are next up in the cup just before Christmas. Dean Smith may well be opening his cheque book. With Aston Villa having been knocked out by Stoke City last night, he doesn’t even need to worry about Benrahma being cup tied. Whether he, or anyone else, can afford the man of the moment is another matter of course.

That’s a question for another day. For now, we can wake up with smiles on our faces. Brentford looked back to their best. All being well we can do it again on Sunday. Preston sure to provide a sterner test than Scott Parker’s starting XI. As one Twitter wag noted, even Crash Bandicoot would have been more mobile than their defence.

Still, that’s their problem. Let nothing detract from the way we played. From that full Forss Finnish. From Benrahma doing what only he can with a quite outrageous goal. From Brentford making our longest journey, and counting, in the League Cup. Bring on Newcastle United in December.

Until then, why not catch up on another piece of brilliance…

Nick Bruzon

Set your alarms for 5.30pm. And also the future.

1 Oct

Well this got interesting. With Newcastle United ghosting past Newport County last night (needing an 87th minute equaliser and penalties), Brentford go into tonight’s league cup tie with Fulham knowing that victory could make us the only club outside of the top flight in the quarter finals. Or are we still calling it the round of eight? Hopefully not. Let’s file that atrocity with Mrs. Browns boys, eXpresso (sic) and the England ‘Supporters’ ‘band’. Only Stoke City, travelling to Aston Villa, remain as EFL representatives.

Seriously……

Forget Fulham. Please. Leave them to their clackers and gin. This is all about Brentford tonight.  This is all about the first phase in what has been a frenetic opening to the League Cup drawing to a close.

The fifth round doesn’t take place until just prior to Christmas. The relentless cycle of mid-week games that has seen us go full tilt towards the final eight clubs now paying for breath. Win or lose, we’ll all be able to concentrate on the league. For a while at least.

With that in mind, how hard does Thomas Frank go? We’ve never reached the quarter-finals before and so this really does represent an excellent chance to achieve that aim. As our head coach noted in Wednesday’s press conference, “Everyone who is involved in this beautiful sport would like to change history and be a part of history. We would like to achieve the first bit of that by qualifying for the Quarter-Final. That is why it is a big game for us.

Thomas also confirmed that Said Benrahma would be part of the squad whilst Saman Ghoddos now has international clearance so is also available. I’d expect the former to start. Presumably a substitute’s role for our latest acquisition.

Rico Henry has a low grade hamstring injury but the medical opinion is that niggle will have cleared up by the weekend. We all know the rest of those faces likely to be fighting it out for a start. I can only imagine Thomas will keep similar faith with the bulk of the team that knocked out Southampton and West Bromwich Albion in the previous two rounds. The bench could be very tasty, too….

As if anybody needed reminding, this one has been changed for TV. The game is live on Sky with a 5.30pm kick off. It’s amazing the amount of people caught out by changes in kick-off times before (something as frustrating as getting to the gates, only to release you’ve left your season tickets behind). I include myself in at least one of those categories.

So, if any prompt is needed, it’s a 5.30pm kick off with coverage beginning half-an hour earlier. Set your alarms.

Don’t forget…

The obvious elephant in the room is the W place. Not so much what happened a few months back but more the fact we can only see that point being bludgeoned to death. One can only hope the commentary team and pundits will avoid the obvious low-hanging front but its just too predictable and easy a target not to take aim at. Which is a shame because this should be all about reaching that stadium again. About two teams who have responded to the start of THIS season in very different styles. About what is to come. 

Stop. Stop. It’s already dead..

As Thomas also said in his conference when faced with the obvious question, “For me that is the past, it is history. What we can affect, and do something about, is the game tomorrow which is a huge opportunity for the team and the Club to write history.”

Well done. I don’t care about ‘revenge’ or any such pay back. For me, if there is any consideration given to the opposition this evening, it is merely to show, once more, what an irrelevance the Michael Jackson fanclub are. This is all about us. About taking another step towards our future and unchartered ground. Another step towards the quarter-finals. Another step towards silverware.

And with all the subtly of a wrecking ball, if ever life for Brentford was all about the future then nowhere was it more apparent than at Griffin Park yesterday. We’ve already had the farewell tours and that absolutely bonkers auction (cripes, I’m still paying for that…) but now the builders really are moving in.

I know a lot of fans find this distressing and, to be fair, it’s not something I’m going out of my way to hunt down. However, with the twice daily school run talking us past the old ground, anything new happening is sure to attract attention. Sure enough, yesterday afternoon’s trip really does seem to indicate that the end is nigh……

The builders are moving in

Still, as is very much the theme of today’s thoughts, the past belongs there. It really is all about the future. That continues this evening at Lionel Road. See you on the couch at five-thirty.

Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon   

Don’t shoot the messenger. This is worse than Barrymore rapping.

29 Sep

Ring, ring. Ring, ring’. Is that the sound of the telephone in the Parker household? (Thanks, Uncle Justin). One does have to wonder after Monday’s results. Now let’s be clear I take no pleasure in the following facts but with Brentford due to host Fulham on Thursday in the fourth round of the league cup, it’s only natural we look at our next opponents and their current form. Hey, it’s what we do on these pages. Albeit your definition of ‘form’ may vary after last night’s latest defeat. This time to Aston Villa and one which prompted a quite awkward act of self-flagellation from Tony Khan. A man who, per his own Twitter bio, currently has more jobs than the rest of the country put together: Owner/Director of Football/GM/Sporting Director. Perhaps a bit of focus may be in order.

Played three. Lost three. Points nil. Goal difference -7 (minus seven). It’s hardly an auspicious start to a league campaign which has already seen bookmaker Paddy Power paying out on anybody who has invested in Fulham being relegated this season. Don’t shoot the messenger, that’s a fact. Even by their attention grabbing headlines, three games seems somewhat early but the bookies very rarely get it wrong.

Don’t shoot the messenger – this was the offer last night

The resulting act of public humiliation Fulham owner Khan then embarked upon was about as toe-curling as the Michael Barrymore gospel choir clip currently doing the rounds on social media. Rapping as brutal as The Cottager’s defence ; the tune changing key as often as Fulham do managers. Hey, it’s a fact.

Desperately looking for salvation, he (Tony Khan rather than Barrymore) took to Twitter to declare:

I apologize to @FulhamFC supporters for our performance tonight. We’ve looked to add centre-backs since Wembley, I’m sorry we haven’t yet as 2 got COVID + we lost a Free we thought was close + had another issue with a 4th CB. I promise players in + better efforts from this squad.

I should + will apologize repeatedly for that performance. I’m sorry everybody. We all need to do a better job. Everyone at the club for the past year worked really hard to get the team up, & now we need to work significantly harder to stay up. I promise better efforts than today.”

Cripes. He may aswell have added “We go again” for the full house. It got the expected reaction from a fan base with very short memories. Their last stint in the top flight saw a similar record and three different managers in the one season before relegation – Slaviša Jokanović, Claudio Ranieri and Scott Parker all had a go at keeping the ship afloat before, they sank beneath the Thames. Now we’re less than a month in and they already look fatally holed below the waterline. Again.

And yes. We all know what happened at Wembley. That’s also a fact. Well done. Well done everyone. A tactical masterclass in shithousery that has somewhat blown up now and cruelly exposed the lack of depth available. And I’m sorry that’s a fact. Even Brentford have despatched two more Premier League teams than Fulham have this season and we’re not even in the same division. That’s two by the way. Compared to none.

With Brentford looking to reach the fifth round of the League Cup on Thursday night, the Cottagers anti-form couldn’t have come at a better time. No doubt their supporters will claim the tournament an irrelevance in the build up then give it large should they triumph. Fair enough. Yet for the Bees this is an excellent opportunity to keep our own form going. To give those players from the squad a chance to step up and mix it with the first team. Thomas Frank has got that balance bang on so far and I expect more of the same on Thursday.

Marcus Forss will be coming at the bit for another go up top. The chance to lay down a real gauntlet at the feet of Ivan Toney. The same goes for the likes of Charlie Goode, Tarique Fosu, Shandon Baptiste and David Raya. Might we even see Said Benrahma given a start after he came off the bench against Millwall? With the transfer window getting ever closer to finally creaking shut, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa are going to need to get their chequebooks into gear if the talismanic Algerian’s future lies away from Lionel Road.

Looking towards Lionel Road?

We love him. He’s amazing. His future surely lies in the top flight. Ideally with Brentford but who knows what may be. Looking backwards or too far forwards are fatal. Don’t rest on your laurels. Whatever has happened has happened. Wishing it away or fond reminiscing won’t change a thing. For Brentford it’s all about picking the best team to Fulham in the cup with half an eye on Preston in the league. Even that far ahead is only to consider the starting XI Thomas may pick on Thursday evening.

Focus on the game. Win it. Look at the current facts. Let the others resort to cheap shots or exposing their woes in public.

Brian Guest x

Marcus had a blinder in the previous round

When the brackets come second, you know it’s BIG news.

24 Sep

For a day with no game (something in itself that feels quite odd at present) Wednesday still had plenty to deliver. For Brentford, our opponents for the League Cup fourth round tie were confirmed. It’ll be Fulham at Lionel Road next week. Elsewhere, there were brackets for Newcastle United, Chelsea came close to the same magical scoreline and in Wales, Ryan Reynolds is the name being linked with a takeover of Wrexham. Yes. THE Ryan Reynolds. The actor of Deadpool andDetective Pikachu fame. Albeit perhaps best we just gloss over Green Lantern.

The new Wrexham away kit needs a rethink

First up, the League Cup. With Brentford through to the fourth round we’ve been handed the chance to make our furthest ever progression in the tournament with a home tie. Against Fulham. Cripes, if only there was some recent encounter between the two clubs that pundits and commentators could bludgeon to death in the build up to this one. And then through the game itself. Alas, not.

Yet if there is something to mention, let the others be the ones to wallow in the past. Its all about the present. About going forward from where you are. 

For Brentford, that’s unbeaten in three games and two Premier League clubs already despatched this season. The performance against Huddersfield Town on Saturday one which saw the Bees back to their best. That indefatigable, keep going until the end spirit seeing us run out eventual 3-0 winners after dominating the game. 

A great team performance on Saturday

For Fulham, its nil points and 7(seven) goals against from their opening two league fixtures. And that’s with the advantage of playing in an empty stadium. Well done. Well done everyone. 

The sweetest part being that their fansite will be obliged to copy/paste this entire article onto their own page – as they always do for anything published on the internet that concerns Cottaging – and thus be reminded further of their woeful start to life this time around. After all the smugness over the summer, it’s great to see them being on the wrong end of a kicking week in, week out.

The Fulham defensive wall needs some work

Anyway, whatever. For me its about Brentford. For going as far and high as we can. Let anyone else worry about themselves. It’s an amusing side story to laugh at but doesn’t detract from the desire to keep on doing our bit. Which we are. Let’s concentrate on Fulham next week when they come to visit. The details for that one are yet to be confirmed although given the proximity of the game, it can only be imminent. Instead, we’ve a trip to Millwall to focus on this Saturday.

However, the big story yesterday was one which came out of Wales where National League Wrexham have the most unexpected of potential new investors lined up – actors Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool etc) and Rob McElhenney (no idea). The club, currently under fan ownership (sound familiar?) has seen 1,223 Supporters Trust members opt in favour of the proposal which would see control handed over (sound familiar ?)  for an investment thought to be worth £2m . To put that in numbers, only 31 voted against  – less than 5% of those polled.

The stage seems set for them to enter, should they follow through of course. For Brentford, the move from fan owners surrendering their shares in return for new investment has been the best deciosn ever made. Matthew Benham has transformed the club through shrewd management and innovative techniques. Whether Ryan and Rob could bring the same tactical nous to North Wales remains to be seen. Smart one-liners and katana blades can only take you so far compared to an advanced computer modelling system – at least on the football pitch. Certainly I wouldn’t fancy Matthew in a fight although he’d win at recruitment every time.

Safe to say the football world will be watching with interest over the coming weeks. Let’s just hope its not like the time Michael Jackson turned up at Exeter City. Or Fulham, for that matter.

And finally, back to the league cup. Newcastle United hit brackets last night with a 7(seven) – 0 win at Morecambe. Six up at half-time, they left it late to hit the magical mark with an injury time o.g. just prior to the final whistle getting them over the line. It was a night that saw former Bees favourite Toumani Diagouraga shown a red card for the hosts – a case of Newcastle score, he’s off the pitch?

“Shooooot” – Toumani is a Griffin Park legend.

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea (are we  still doing that?) came close to the same score. Their 6-0 home defeat of Barnsley saw a hat-trick for £71million signing Kai Havertz as a strong looking line up romped home. Olivier Giroud made it 6 on 83minutes but, alas, that’s where things ended. A brace of brackets in one night would have likely seen the roof come off in our house. Instead, we had to be content with the one on a night that also saw Everton hit five.

Anyway, good luck to them all. A win next week could well see us paired with any one of these teams. We’ve tasted cup success against Chelsea and Everton in recent-ish years. I’d love the chance to do it again. However, before that there’s Fulham. And before that there’s Millwall.

Roll on Saturday. Another game on the couch. Another game on the I-follow/ See you there. In spirit.

A cracker against Chelsea at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon