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Still fighting on three fronts. Now bring on Saturday.

28 Oct

For the first time since 2016/17 Manchester City won’t have their name on the league cup.  For Brentford, a potato skin avoided and then some. The Bees are in the quarter finals for the second successive season after last night’s 2-1 victory at Stoke City. A line up including more first team regulars than we, perhaps, had any expectation of seeing run out raced into a 2-0 half-time lead (Canos and Toney) which ultimately proved sufficient to see us over the line. Romaine Sawyers (who else?) pulled one back for the hosts but it was too little too late to stop the Bees recording a first ever win in the Potteries and earning a place in the last 8. Liverpool, West Ham, Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester City and Sunderland make up the list of those teams with their own aspirations of lifting the silverware. Now we await the draw with bated breath. For more reasons than one. 

No caption needed

Last season was just awful. Wembley, promotion, goals, fine wins, bracketings and incredible signings aside. Having to watch from afar as the team rattled around a virtually empty stadium nothing short of torture. Finally in our new home and locked out by a global pandemic.

To compound the felony, Brentford were enjoying out best ever run in the League Cup. A whole gamut of Premier League sides despatched by a Championship club looking to join them in the top flight. A sequence of victories that took us all the way to a single-legged semi-final at Tottenham. Ivan Toney’s equaliser being chalked off by the machinations of VAR. A brief moment of 1-1 based ecstasy turning into an eventual 2-0 win for our hosts before their inevitable defeat in the final to Manchester City. They seem (seemed) quite good at lifting this particular trophy.

A tournament that Brentford have traditionally been bang average in (a smattering of fourth round visits being our best ever) had suddenly exploded into life. Thomas Frank with his eyes on the silverware. The rest of us with our eyes on the TV. It would have been wonderful to be a part of it. Instead, we were all locked out.

The finger nail ended up being ahead of the ankle. Offside

Fast forward 12 months and we are in similar territory. The big difference being that this time around, the fans are back. And how. What an effort for last night’s shlep to Stoke City. What a reward for the journey. Brentford now 90 minutes away from matching last season’s heroics. Perhaps with a chance to go even further. Hey, if nothing else the magnificent win in the play-off final has finally broken our Wembley hoodoo. No longer is it a place to fear but somewhere to look forward to. The next step on the journey about to be made. And we will discover our fate this Saturday when the draw is made on TV’s Soccer AM. 

Ah, Soccer AM. Sad to say it’s not for me anymore. Been there, done that, disgraced myself. Hey, those ‘end of the show’ penalties aren’t going to miss themselves. Helen Chamberlain and Russ Williams have long since moved on. Lovejoy, too. These days, free time on Saturdays is too short a commodity to be spent with Fenners and Jimmy Bullard. I’ve got football club to get H to and other ‘essential’ jobs to be completed before the matchday routine can begin. 

The classic lineup on the Soccer AM sofa

Yet this weekend things will be different. There’s a cup draw to be watched. The list of priority domestic tasks can, for once, include switching on the TV. Probably being confused by banter and catchphrases that will have long since been handed down to a younger generation. This confused 51 year old will, for once, have a legitimate reason to have the show on rather than feeling as awkward as a dad in a disco. Coverage starts at 10.30 although at what point the Soccerettes (are they still a thing?) appear with the balls is yet to be confirmed. I suspect the phrase “Harry, call me when its about to start” may well be uttered. Much as I used to love the show, and I did, age is now feeling as though it has very much caught up on yours truly. Groan.

So yeah. I’ll be watching. Hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Looking forward to seeing if things have changed any. Mostly, though, awaiting our fate. Last night’s team selection suggesting Thomas very much has the League Cup as a legitimate target. Not just an excuse to give fringe players a run out but a trophy to try and win. A place in Europe to be earned. A smile to be put on the faces of fans after missing out last year. An even bigger smile, I mean. A metaphorical heart attack to be given to the Directors of football or Matthew Benham when a potential cup winning team is named at the expense of keeping players fresh for the league campaign. Hey, who says we can’t battle on two fronts? Or three?

It was a strong, strong line up. Canos. Toney. Jensen. Zanka. Ghoddos. Forss. Ajer.  All started this one. Rico, Christian Norgaard and Frank the Tank also came off the bench. Every one of these players featured against Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday  Chuck Charlie Goode, Mads x2 and Alvaro Fernandez to see there was no messing around from Thomas here. He has a cup in his sights. Likewise, perhaps, giving a chance to put his enforced goalkeeping change into play sooner than later. The understanding between the back five and the man in, err, blue will be even more essential than ever. 

For now though, we can dream of Wembley. Of Soccer AM. Of finally exorcising the nightmare of what happened before the Doncaster game. That Doncaster game. Of replacing Manchester City on the trophy. Of a draw that could be cruel or kind. A home tie with Sunderland or a trip to Liverpool? A rematch with Leicester City, perhaps?

On Saturday we find out. Bring it on….

The pre-Doncaster Soccer AM debacle (our H almost due, too)

Nick Bruzon

Oldham bracketed. Now bring on Liverpool.

22 Sep

Bring out the brackets. For a third successive season, Brentford managed the magical mark following a 7(seven) – 0 defeat of Oldham Athletic in the League Cup third round at Lionel Road on Tuesday night. Four goal Marcus Forss leading the charge, ably complemented by a Yoane Wissa brace and an o.g. from our visitors compounding their agony. It was every bit as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests. For once, stats telling the story with the Bees managing 24 efforts at goal. A largely scratch side but one still full of internationals could, really, have doubled things in what seemed to be a shoot on sight policy. Victory over the English football’s basement side as deserved as it comes. The big question being whether we can repeat it on Saturday when the league’s top side, Liverpool, come to visit. Joint first with Chelsea (also due here in a few weeks), that also has the potential to be a 7(seven) goal thriller. Anything but on top of our game though and I’d hate to imagine which way those would be shared out.

Forss of nature

First up, Oldham Athletic. They came into the game with a reputation as a club in trouble and that was proven on field when the flying Finn grabbed his first with less than three minutes gone. Forss making no mistake from the spot and from that point on it was game over. One had to feel for the 600 or so visiting fans. That’s a trek and a half to watch the goals roll in. Moreso with no beer in the away end. Sorry…. Kudos to them. We’ve been there over the years. Getting spanked on the road and no money rather than sobriety. Away clubs have always been very welcoming and I’m not, quite, sure why we’ve gone dry. Unless it’s some attempt to demoralise our guests. On pitch, nobody needs another history lesson on our own bucket rattling or lower league survival where, but for the grace of our ownership, we could still be. 

Instead, they gave it their all, going nuts when the odd shot from distance came in. One second half beauty from Jamie Bowden forcing Álvaro Fernández into a quite wonderful save as it headed for the far top corner . There would have been no complaints from the Bees faithful had that gone in but, instead, it was kept out and we now start the Twitter stampede to win a sponsored mattress as a result of our clean sheet. Not a typo.

Sadly for our guests it was one chance out of not many. Captain Jensen pulling the strings in the middle, Wissa on fire, Forss doing what he does for fun and Samman Ghoddos running his socks off. Pick of the goals being the last of the night. Wissa with a quite delicious bicycle kick to round off the rout. On another day he’d have had a hat trick too. Certainly not holding back on his efforts although it was one from Charlie Goode that really had the fans on their feet. An absolute howitzer from distance smacking the bar. Had it gone in Lionel Road would have erupted. Instead, we had to be content with a 5-0 HT lead, two in the second period and opponents for whom Brentford showed no signs of taking the foot off the gas. It was relentless. It was brutal. It was fun. For us.

Official Twitter capture the pick of the night

The fourth round draw takes place tonight. Micah Richards and Harry Redknapp pulling out the balls live from a Bedfordshire Bowls club. The competition sponsors once again doing their thing to mix it up and generate publicity. The sort of thing that previously would have had wringing of hands and much lamenting at unnecessary gimmicks. Now, with Brentford in the fourth round once more, I’m past caring. Just get the draw done and let us know who its going to be. With Wembley no longer the jinx it was, there’s an added layer of appeal about a potential visit. Of course, that’s still a fair way way off and there’ll be plenty of tough tests for whomever eventually lifts the trophy. On the flip side, you can only beat who is in front of you and last night Brentford did that in style.

Next up, Liverpool in the league. That’s at 5.30pm on Saturday evening and is, of course, a sell out. The game’s live on Sky for those unable to get a ticket. Victory will see Brentford move to within two points of the Anfield side. Should it happen. Defeat, something expected by just about everybody outside of TW8. I mean, there’s no way a team like Brentford, a bus stop in Hounslow, will get anything against such illustrious opposition. Is there? Eh, readers 😉  

We all know what we can do. Everyone else knows what Liverpool can, and have, done. The wealth of talent in their team. That’s taken as red. Yet with our own goal machine(s) in fine form and a bench the likes of which we’ve never had before, who knows? Christian Norgaard will be vital and it was good to see him picked out on Match of the Day for special treatment in the post-match analysis last week. Hey, we weren’t even last up in the running. 

It’s the sort of moment we’ve been building for. Years in the coming and, finally, a global super team up at Brentford for a competitive fixture. No offence, Arsenal. Beating them was quite wonderful but, equally, a club in disarray and very much trading on former glories were there for the taking. That opportunity was grabbed in some style on a night that saw the roof raised and Brentford dominant.

Can we do the same this time around? I can’t wait to find out. Hopefully we can show Mr. Klopp what he missed out when choosing Anfield over Griffin Park…. See you there.

Bring on the fixtures…The Bees haven’t played Livepool since the FA Cup in 1989

Nick Bruzon 

Safe passage and a tasty warm up for Saturday.

25 Aug

Brentford safely through to the third round of the League Cup after coming from behind to defeat Forest Green Rovers 3-1 on a night that also saw six goals for Aston Villa. Amongst others. Saturday’s opponents falling one short of the magical 7(seven) that would have seen the brackets brought out of cold storage. For the Bees, a much changed line up did the needful with goals from Yoane Wissa, Bryan Mbeumo and Marcus Forss sufficient to see us into the next draw. That one takes place at around 9.45pm(ish) tonight, following the conclusion of the game between Arsenal and West Brom. Perhaps the Gunners will even manage to score. With Manchester City next up in the Prem, failure to do so could leave them scratching around the archives for entries to August’s goal of the month competition.

For a while it looked a bit iffy

For Brentford, relatively safe passage was as much as could be hoped for. We’re in the third round and, all being well, will be able to select our normal seats for that one. Should the reward for last night’s win be a home tie. Confusion and frustration the order of the day with fans displaced following a free for all on seat selection. How hard is it to get this sort of thing right? We go where we do for a reason. Whether dodgy knees requiring seats these days or simply a case of preferring to put the stand into the West Stand singing section as the action hots up. Nobody can deny the atmosphere that generates – come on already the ‘rails seats’ if that’s what it takes.

Still, we’re through. Forest Green making it tough and having the temerity to take the lead. Bravo and well played. Only Ethan Pinnock and Vitaly Janelt surviving from those who started the Premier league game with Crystal Palace. It was still a strong enough team and one further reinforced by the additions of Ajer, Canos, Mbeumo and Frank the Tank as events unfolded. Yet with the team playing catch up eventually strength told as the Bees cranked up the pressure. Yoanne Wissa on the hour, followed by Bryan and then, with opponents down to ten, Marcus Forss rounding things off. 

Loved this image from ‘official’ and their Twitter feed

Thomas Frank magnanimous enough to note both his opponents aswell his own tactical decisions at full time, telling the BBC that, ”I need to praise Forest Green Rovers, Rob Edwards and his staff, I think they did a top job and I think they were the better side in the first half” whilst his own tinkering with the formation, “maybe that didn’t help, maybe I didn’t help the boys as much as I should have done.”

Still, we’re through. We’ve Aston Villa in the league at the weekend. They warmed up for that one with their own win. A 6-0 away win at Barrow. With a quarter hour remaining when they hit the sixth it really was looking like brackets but, alas not. Still, they’ll be buzzing for that game and the Dean Smith reunion. I can already hear him telling the press corps that his team will have deserved to win. Regardless of whatever result transpires. With Ollie Watkins sitting out the season so far, not facing our old boy will be an advantage (of sorts) although the Villans looked imperious at the weekend. Newcastle United put to the sword in some style. Jack who now? 

Prior to all that is this evening’s draw. You can follow it on Sky, amongst other sources, although as it stands (8am) the ball numbers remain a mystery. Seemingly. Nobody has them up on club or news sites as yet. Not even on the Carabao Cup home page. With nothing more than click bait at present (stories titled along the lines of : get all your third round draw details, here, seeminlgy nothing more than a chance to list the 18 highest placed teams in the Premier league, and then Arsenal, it can’t be long until we find out our numerical fate. 

Whatever number we are bequeathed is not going to change too much. The most important thing being that we are through. If we are given a home tie then all the better. After missing out on our entire run to the semi-finals last season, the chance to watch live football and progress further is one that has us all chomping at the bit. How often would we say that about the League Cup in recent years?

Nick Bruzon

Not even Michael Caine could have turned this around.

6 Jan

Well played Spurs. Let’s start right there. Brentford went down 2-0 on Tuesday to miss out on a place in the League Cup final against a quality side packed with more than enough talent to reach Wembley. Jose Mourinho went strong and was duly rewarded. Mind you, so did Thomas Frank with only Pontus Jansson missing from what could now be deemed his preferred starting XI. It wasn’t quite enough. The combination of defensive generosity, great finishes and the machinations of VAR being enough to see Tottenham through. They controlled the game, no doubt, but there was enough about the Bees to suggest this wasn’t going to turn out the foregone conclusion many expected. Manchester City play Manchester United this evening to discover who will contest the final. Luckily for both, they’ll be spared referee Mike Dean.

Urghh. What can you say about the controversial man in the middle? Personally, I was left thinking that this is how it would be if Keith Stroud did regular top flight action. Soft yellows given to Brentford. Robust challenges unpunished from the hosts. Josh Dasilva sent off for an accidental, albeit painful looking, foul on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Understandable on review, even if without any intent. Yet it was the second half VAR controversy (words as intrinsically linked as ‘Mrs Browns Boys’ and ‘unfunny’) that left the sour taste in the mouth. 

By that stage Spurs were already ahead. A bright start from the Bees being stopped dead in its tracks with not even a quarter-hour played when Moussa Sissoko was given the freedom of the penalty box. Marking that took the social distancing guidelines to the letter of the law. The Tottenham man heading home with pleasure and Brentford on the back foot. The wind taken from our sails and containment the immediate next order of the day. A flurry of half-chances and no further breaches the best we had to show.

Half time came and went. The Bees back out with a spring in their step. Lucky shirts being worn back home were clearly doing their thing. Forget the ever closer Ivan Toney. The magic of Bryan Mbeumo. The I don’t know what of Mathias Jensen. The goal felt like it was coming and sure enough, it did….. Just after the hour who else but Ivan Toney was there to head home from close in!! TW8 erupted. The players celebrated. Game on. Echos of the quite magnificent Escape to Victory ringing in the ears… “We can win this!!

Sadly though, we couldn’t. Michael Caine, Pele et al may have had a dodgy referee, physical opponents and superior opposition to deal with. We had, well all of that  – albeit without the dodgy acting – but also VAR. The much maligned tool alerting Mike Dean to the fact that the Championship’s leading scorer may have been offside as he guided the ball home. Indeed, after multiple replays Dean felt obliged to chalk off the goal he had already awarded. Toney’s fingernail being apparently ahead of the last defender’s heel and, as such, interfering with play as fell to his knees.

We quoted this one in last night’s post match immediacy. There’s no reason not to do it again. 

Hey, its not Spurs fault and no sour grapes towards them. Does anyone really think we’d have complained had it gone the other way? Of course not. Yet this doesn’t make it any easier. Doesn’t make the game we love feel even further away from the thing of excitement and spontaneity that it used to be. Instead, the life has been sucked out of it with goals being tediously dissected by set squares and sub-millimetre thin lines on screen. Its not even close to being obvious. Its an absolute joke.

Spurs, of course, did what teams do in these situations, Remained calm, professional, well used to it. With Bees fans and players feeling the most tremendous sense of injustice, out hosts carried on as normal and within minutes had gone down the other end to double the lead. Son Heung-min bursting clear to leather one past David Raya. A top quality move and finish from one of the best players in the land. No complaints. No arguments. First class. Game over man. Game over.

There was still enough time for VAR to alert Mike Dean to the fact that he may want to give Josh Dasilva a red card. It was inevitable the second the replay was shown on the big screen. It made no impact to the outcome but does now mean he misses out on the FA Cup (who doesn’t though?) and the more important league games with Reading and Luton. Thomas will need to get his whiteboard back out and rejuggle for them.

Tottenham deserved it overall, even if that’s not how football necessarily works. Ultimately, it comes down to balls in the back of the net and we had that denied us in the most painful of circumstances. Thomas would talk about how proud he was at full time and I guess he’s right.

Yet thinking about it this morning, the overall feeling is one of genuine frustration that we haven’t beaten one of the best teams in the Premier League. That we have had the chance of victory, could have taken it, matched our opponents but were ultimately denied by external factors. That is perhaps what we should focus on. Nobody gave us a chance but we just carried on doing what we’ve done so far this campaign. Played our best combination against the team in front of us. And we ran them blinkin’ close. 

This was no trashing and whilst I don’t overly do the ‘plucky losers’ thing (nobody remembers, or cares about how unlucky the beaten team were) the feeling remains that we had enough about us to win this one. Had the breaks gone, then who knows. The experience alone could prove invaluable in or long term future. 

Jose Mourinho was adamant at full-time that we’d meet again next season in the Premier League. I think he’s right, too. In the short term then look positive. At least we can concentrate on the league.

Nick Bruzon

Here’s to fifty saves in grey and a bit of history being made.

5 Jan

Well this is all a bit weird. Talk about finding yourself in illustrious company. Manchester United host Manchester City tomorrow night, with the  winners of that one knowing they’ll be facing a League Cup final at the W place near Ikea against either Brentford or Spurs. Surely it will be Tottenham? Surely? Nobody outside to TW8 gives us Bees a prayer. Yet tonight’s semi-final has all the makings of an absolute classic. A chance to crank out cliché by the bucketload in a David v Goliath clash. A game where Jose Mourinho’s superstar team, with their propensity for an ad-hoc self-destruct, host Thomas Frank’s Championship barnstormers. Brentford now sixteen games unbeaten in all competition and looking like the sort of well run, well rounded side most clubs could only aspire to be. A side only nudged out of the automatic positions at the weekend by the Bristol City symptom-gate affair. Yet with Corona continuing to grab the headlines for all the wrong reasons, if ever there was a time for football to help put a smile back on our faces then it is now.

No word of a lie, last night floored me. Boris bumping his way through the entirely predictable press conference. The usual buzz words coming out (and you thought these pages were littered with repetitive cliché) about collective national efforts but the long and the short of it being no hope of getting out for the next few months. The grim prospects of isolation, paying the bills, keeping the job going and doubling up as a home teacher all we have to look forward to. Freedoms curtailed again after that brief taste of being allowed outside in the autumn. He didn’t even have the decency to cancel Mrs. Brown’s Boys. It’s all a bit soul destroying being honest. 

If only… Instead we had more despair

This should be an exciting day. And it still can be. It still will be. It’s not the place of the players to act as any form of social pillars but, my word, they have an unexpected degree of expectation on them tonight. Not so much to win – you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be all out for that – but to keep morale flying. We’d absolute love to be there with them of course. We’re not even allowed to the pub or our mates’ house to watch it. As Thomas Frank noted in his press conference yesterday, “All players and staff members tested Covid negative before the game. It is maybe more important than ever that football is continuing. For a lot of people, football is a light in the dark that they can cheer on their heroes.

And he’s right. It would be easy to get weighed down in doom and gloom. It’s pitch black and icy cold outside with no real end in sight. I had half an eye on Boris cancelling elite sport, too. I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies. Instead, we are all systems go for this evening. The game is on Sky TV with a 7.45pm kick off The sort of game to attract an audience of unexpected Brentford supporters. Neutrals hoping for an upset and the chance to see whether Jose goes volatile or sporting. Should it happen. If nothing else a case of Manchester united with both sides up there hoping we’ll do it. The easiest option, in theory, for the final.

The big question of course being “Can we?”. The entirely predictable answer being that of course we can. More importantly, will we? Here its not so easy to call. We already know the bookies have Spurs as odds on favourites. They’ll be brutal in their assault. Kane and Son a partnership as balanced as Ant and Dec, Little & Large, Mrs Browns Boys and not laughing. The defence will need to be rock solid – no doubt a case of fifty saves in grey from either David Raya or Luke Daniels. Brentford 6-1 long shots. Yet in my heart of hearts I entirely believe we will do this. Rose tinted? Perhaps. Optimistic? Most definitely? Romantic? It’s what the cup is all about.

A case of fifty saves in grey tonight?

Yet seeing how we’ve developed as a side over the last 12 months. Over this season alone. Over the recent unbeaten streak I’m genuine I my belief that we are the strongest, most consistent team in this division. Much more balanced than last time out. Still smarting about having missed out as we did after doing so incredibly well to even haul ourselves into contention. Yet instead of self-destruction it has has been case of self-belief. Watching the ongoing debacles at FulhamL and West Brom a sore reminder of their own pointlessness in the Premier League. Absolutely they earned their shot but to see them squandering it so badly a painful reminder of where we could have been. 

Kudos to Leeds United. Like Wolves, they have proven that teams can make that step up from the Championship look effortless. Can hold their own against the established teams and the household names. That they will be playing the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham et al on a weekly basis rather than via the fortuitous nature of cup draws. I’m utterly convinced that next season we’ll be there with them. Spurs and Manchester United rather than the Baggies or Cottagers. Tonight marks a huge step on that journey. A chance to see just how well we stack up under the most intense pressure and scrutiny. A chance to beat a fifth Premier League team over the course of this cup run. Most importantly, the chance to make it to a major cup final.

Cripes, I can’t wait for this one. Life outside the front door may feel onerous at present. I’m quite happy to hold up my hands and admit to being amongst those finding things tough. But you can bet come 7.45pm ‘that virus’ will be the last thing on the mind.

We’ll be there in spirit. Bring it on. See you there. Kind of. Instead, here’s to celebrating a winner from Sergi Canos and having a pint together at W….

Can Brentford keep on the “Road to Wembley” ?

Nick Bruzon

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Waking up with a semi and a smile.

24 Dec

The morning after the night before. The die has now been cast. Brentford will travel to Spurs in the first week of January for a single leg league cup semi-final. A London derby the outcome after Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat of Newcastle United. The other tie sees Manchester United hosting their neighbours after winning in front of a ‘crowd’ at Everton. There was to be no reunion for the Bees with Manchester City. No fear of having to go to Stoke after Tottenham had eased through in the first game of the night. We’d love to have been at home, fans present or otherwise, but if it had to be a road trip then it is the most intriguing of the options. Relatively speaking. Pinnock and Sørensen v Kane and Son. Mbeumo v Mourinho. Delle Alli v Mourinho. 

There could only be a romantic outcome from this draw. Two teams from the top six of the Premier League, along with Manchester City and Brentford. City, their own list of recent trophies as long as the ‘bookings’ section in a Keith Stroud match report. Brentford, a whole new list of ‘teams like’ and ‘little old’ accolades now being added to our name from the broader populous. Another match that sees us emerge further from the radar we are seemingly still under. This is going to be good. Very good. The relief as Spurs did their thing against Stoke palpable. The prospect of testing ourselves against the very best now presenting itself.

Personally speaking, I’d have loved Manchester City. Purely because of what happened in 1989. That, still one of my top five Brentford moments and the chance to go again would have been immense. A momentous victory carved out on a quagmire of a pitch. (But enough about Tuesday). Perhaps we’ll just have to wait for the final, he says optimistically.

There was to be no revisit of 1989

It is, also, a tie that adds to our crowded fixture list. The 9 games over December have already been well documented. With an FA Cup match against Middlesbrough next up after the Spurs game, it gives us another 7(seven) in January.  Don’t cry now, but expect more changes. Expect a team much akin to the one that played Newcastle off the park. Thomas Frank has his league and cup strategies so clearly marked that the only unexpected thing about this week’s triumph was the quite bizarre reaction to our starting XI.

We’re talking about players ; not machines. Fatigue is very real. The squad there for a reason. It may not be the romantic ideal of football in the 70s and 80s where every man from a paper thin squad played every minute. Where there was only one sub per game. Where the actual team was printed in the programme before kick off ! That was then. This is now.

If nothing else, those who have helped get us past four Premier League teams more than deserve their chance to carry on again. Be sure the bench will remain strong if needed. Josh Mourinho picked a Spurs team full of household names to get through. The likes of Harry Kane and Gareth Bale, world class players, there from the off. Will he do the same in January or drastically under estimate the challenge provided by ‘little’ Brentford? I’ve no insight into that one but, looking at how we do things, would suggest it’s a fairly safe bet which way Thomas will go. Isn’t it?

Well…. Thomas has massively set out his stall so far but might the FA Cup tie become the game for sacrificial lambs. For the B team to be given a chance to do their thing. Cripes – who’d be a head coach?  90 minutes from a Wembley final, the temptation to go full strength in the league cup must be immense.

In the end, I guess its a case of expecting a similar team to Tuesday night and giving them both the respect and kudos they deserve. The real surprise for me will be if Thomas goes big. But up against the unpredictable genius that is Jose Mourinho, this most compelling of managers, might he have to out think his rival on and off the pitch? Could it be a case of bluff and double bluff? You can bet the players will be desperate to feature in this one. With the W place near Ikea in his sights, the urge to go with the more familiar option will be huge.

Who starts remains to be seen. Before that – with games crucial to the promotion battle next up against Cardiff, Bournemouth and Bristol City  – continuing our mammoth unbeaten run and picking up the points has to be the focus now.

This week has been amazing, no doubt. The hype sure to build as we get closer to the Tottenham game. For the minute though, its time to concentrate on the league. Even if we are still in the cup.

Nick Bruzon 

That was something very, very special. In more ways than one.

23 Dec

Get the f*ck in!!! What a night. What a finish. What a result. Brentford beat Newcastle United 1-0 to make it into the league cup semi-finals. Josh Dasilva scoring the goal that means we’re now one round away from a game at the W place in North London. Aside from us there’s only Manchester City along with the winners of tonight’s games between Everton  / Manchester United and Stoke / Spurs left in the competition. It was an evening that saw Thomas Frank picking a team of familiar faces if not entirely made up of regular starters but certainly one well, well good enough to do a job. They didn’t let him, or the fans, down. Instead, the reaction from certain quarters and usual suspects to our team announcement left a hell of a lot of egg on face when the full time whistle went.

official capture the moment – and why not!!

It was a night to rank up there with the third round defeat of Everton. I was going to add ‘a few seasons’ ago but, incredibly, that was 2010. A decade gone already. Cripes, it feels like yesterday and perhaps even more highlights our lack of success in this, or any, cup competition. Early exits with nothing but a handful of memorable moments to test the grey matter. Fourth round defeats at Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City about as good as it has got. To date. Not now though. 

My word that was immense. Oh to have been there in person. Yet, in a bizarre way, we were all in it together. All suffering in isolation at home. All willing the team on to beat Newcastle. Most of us backing them. All of us desperate for the win. Of course, for the good cheer it would bring but as much as anything else to shut up the dickhead element. The legion of armchair managers doing their thing when the team was announced almost desperate for a perceived weaker team to be revealed so they could vent their usual bile.

Why why oh why! Disgraceful team selection for 1/4 final of cup!

Only a quarter final nothing important f&@k sake

No ambition.

What an absolute shambles – who do Brentford think they are? Quarter Final and a chance of Europe and he names that team??

What the actual f@&k has he done that for?

I cannot get over how much he has f@&ked up that starting XI. My head is gone.    

These, just a few of the erudite observations on social media. Nothing like a bit of loyal support but it made what came next even sweeter. A team with a spine of Pinnock, Mads, Sergi, Vitaly, Josh and Marcus Forss up top is one you’d quite easily expect (and be happy with) in a league game. Supplement that with a whole host of familiar faces from the bench, including captain for the night Luke Daniels, and this was hardly the stuff of capitulation. Hardly a team set up to fail. This was Thomas Frank doing what we’ve said , all season, he’ll have not choice but to do. Use his squad to see us through. Try everything possible to get us past December and the horror run that sees us backs up to play 9 games in 31 days.

He must be doing something right. It was one way traffic in the first half with Ghoddos hitting the crossbar, Marcondes coming close and Sergi somehow heading wide when unmarked just yards out. Hey, not even he can be perfect every time. Newcastle United riding their luck and the feeling that, perhaps, if we didn’t take chances then it could get tense late on. Anything but.

One sharp save from Daniels aside and a few jittery clearances (Dom Thompson solid as, too) I don’t recall much attacking intent from our visitors. Instead, Brentford picked up where we left off with Sergi Canos providing a delightful ball across the box which Josh Dasilva blasted home with just over an hour gone. Oh. My. Word. What a ball. What a finish. What. A. Goal!!!! Another beer? Don’t mind if I do. It went nuts at our place. I’m sure the same all over TW8 or wherever our fans were gathered. 

1-0 up and what to do? Hang on or go for it? Within moments, Thomas Frank had pulled off Sergi and replaced him with Ivan Toney. There was a statement of intent. A well earned rest for the magnificent Spaniard and a chance for Ivan to do his thing once more. He almost did, too. A chance late on producing a finger tip save and, as importantly, helping wind down that clock through an excruciating four minutes of mystery time added on.

Let’s not forget either the return to fitness of Christian Nørgaard. A player who has been missing for so long it would seem that even ‘official’ have forgotten how to spell his name. It’s amazing to think that we’ve gone on our mammoth unbeaten run despite the enforced absence of a player who would, ordinarily, be one of the first names on the team sheet. His entry into the field of play on the hour had been well telegraphed by Thomas but still produced a cheer from our sofa. Albeit. Not as as big as the one at full time. Yess!! My word !!!! F*ckin’ incredible ! A fourth Premier league team beaten this season. For context, that’s the same as Arsenal and double the amount FulhamL have in the actual Premier league. Two times better? Ah, who cares about them? This is about us. About adding Newcastle United to an ever growing list of top flight scalps. About now needing to sit through Everton – Manchester United in order to await the post match draw for the semi finals.

Christian who now?

Will it be Spurs? Might it be Manchester City? Oh for the chance to emulate our heroes of ’89 once more. You see what we were saying about cup moments being few and far between ? Truly, this is a thing to savour. Knowing Brentford it’ll end up being Stoke City which, for the record, I’m sure is something deemed as unpalatable in the Potteries as it would be down South. 

Destiny beckons. Thomas Frank and his team continue to earn the plaudits and praise that they richly deserve. To ride the wave of bull being directed at them from our twat element. Tap, tap, tap, tap. What’’s that noise? Oh, the sound of social media being deleted. The post match hypocrisy a thing of beauty to behold. The frank out hashtag having been early thawed out having to be returned to the freezer once more.

Oh dear.

Perhaps, this time, it might actually stay there. The whole thing has been an embarrassment and a colossal disrespect to the squad . F*ck you. This is OUR moment. And I’m not gong to let a bunch of morons ruin it.

Ah, you know what. It’s their problem. Hating is easy. Having a bit of trust much harder. Perhaps years of having to answer the question, ‘Brentwood? In Essex?’ makes the positive approach that bit easier. Not so much thinking that we’re ‘little old Brentford’ (because we’re well, well beyond that) but simply remembering our history and where we’ve come from.  Of recognising that the players, approach and mentality now instilled is nothing like anything we’ve ever had before.

This is Brentford 2.0 . And I love it !!! Now bring on Manchester City. Or Stoke.

Bliss doing his thing against Manchester City in the fourth round – January 1989

Nick Bruzon

Eyes down for a full house. Of sorts….

22 Dec

Here we go. Time for some festive cheer. A Christmas cracker etc etc etc. With London plunged in to Tier 4 and the next few weeks looking like the equivalent of being tied to a chair and force fed Mrs Brown’s Boys on repeat, could Brentford provide a much needed boost to morale? Tuesday evening sees our league cup quarter final with Newcastle United and I for one can’t wait. With doom and gloom all around us (but enough about Mrs Brown’s Boys) the chance of making the semis is a huge opportunity waiting to be taken. The chance to get closer to another appearance at the W place in North London. The chance to increase our lead over Fulham L of Premier league clubs beaten this season. The chance to actually qualify for Europe – via the medium of the Uefa Europa Conference League (UECL) place that goes to the winner. The chance to actually lift a trophy.

There are only eight teams left in this. The Bees and Stoke City sole representatives from outside the top flight. Flying the Championship flag but, equally, there in our own right. Tough opposition in Southampton, West Bromwich Albion and Wycombe Wanderers have already been despatched. And also Fulham L. Thomas Frank’s red and white army unstoppable. Now, 13 games unbeaten as the goals fly in. Ivan Toney doing his thing. Vitaly Janelt our latest unsung hero. Sergi Canos back to his best. Bryan Mbeumo lashing in two top, top goals during the weekend’s destruction of Reading. Rico Henry, surely knocking on the England manager’s door from his left-back berth. The rest of the defence being picked with all the consistency of car keys being plucked from a bowl yet whomever gets selected, locking out those coming at us. 

Bryan did his thing in some style on Saturday

Expect more changes tonight. Ethan Pinnock has served Mads Bech Sorensen’s suspension for the red card at Watford (hmmm) and will surely be catapaulted straight back in to the team. Likewise, Christian Norgaard is fit once more. Could he and Vitaly start alongside each other? Will it be a straight swap? Or is the bench the best he can hope for at present? 

Up top, with coverage beginning at 5.00pm you can set your Sky bingo cards to 5.01pm for mention of ‘Ivan Toney proving a point against former club Newcastle United’. Personally speaking, one can only imagine his primary goals being to see Brentford make it through whilst adding to his own tally for the season.Not sure I could sit through another of his penalty kicks, though. The technique incredible although one that gives me kittens in the run up. Doing it in normal time would be just fine, please.

Positivity is great but let’s not forget who we’re up against. Newcastle United (are they still everyone’s ‘favourite second team’?  – thanks, Sky) remain a top flight club and pushing to win a first trophy since 1969. With the 5-2 tonking handed out by Leeds United still fresh in the mind and then, even worse, failing to beat Fulham L, Steve Bruce will be desperate to inject his own brand of good cheer into the North-East. He’ll have to do it without Allan Saint-Maximin and captain Jamaal Lascelles, both of whom are suffering from the fallout out of Corona Virus. Urghh, there we go. The C word. Just add  – Brentford’s longest run in the competition for a ‘full house’.

The one could go either way. For me, Clive, there’s no sense in trying to predict it. It’s hard enough knowing who is even going to start let alone who will emerge on top. Instead, let’s sit back with some snacks, with a beer and watch the action unfold. The kick off is at 5.30pm and its live on Sky. Grab your bingo card and let’s do this…..

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

The wait is over…

22 Sep

And with that, Saman Ghoddos finally became a Brentford player after the 27 year old attacker signed on a year’s loan from Amiens SC, with the option for a further two year permanent deal. The player put pen to paper and, with it, provided much relief. Not so much because it saw a 16 month pursuit come to an end but more because it meant we could finally retire those ‘Waiting For Ghoddos’ quips made by just about the entire internet in the build up to this one. I say quips. The line had been used so often it had become about as amusing (and tedious) as an episode of Mrs. Browns Boys. He’s gone straight in to training although one would suspect tonight’s trip to West Bromwich Albion in the third round of the league cup might be a leap too far.

The wait is over (sorry, sorry, sorry)

Speaking to ‘official’, Thomas Frank waxed lyrical about Ghoddos. So did Rasmus. Our head coach noting that along with his off the ball play, “He will bring good attacking qualities in the final third. He is good in one-on-one situations, is a good crosser of the ball, and makes very intelligent passes….He also has a personality and style of play that will work well with the group.You can read that piece, along with the thoughts of our top-knotted Co-Director of Football, here.

Imagine, somehow, the deal to take Said Benrahama from Lionel Road fails to transpire. My word, we’d be overflowing with attacking riches. I still can’t see that happening. Stadiums need to be paid for, books balanced and we’ve made no secret of the fact we expect him to leave. Yet, if things did play out differently…..

Like Pontus and Andreas (err), Saman had his moment in the World Cup 2018 sticker book

Still, we’ve not even seen our new man in action yet. The expectation from some fans no doubt huge. Players can take time to adjust. Others hit the ground running. For now, I’m glad we’ve got Bryan and Sergi tearing it up on the drive forward. That Josh Dasilva has picked up where he left off in the middle of the park. Canos in particular looks like he is planning for fun. Freedom of movement and confidence exuding from every pore. Long may that continue.

Whether tonight sees him get another run out or rested will be revealed when the team to play West Bromwich Albion is announced at 6pm. Don’t forget the early kick off if you are looking to follow this one on the ‘player’ option. £10 passes are available via the cup sponsor’s website and can be bought here

A trip to the Hawthorns feels very much like a case of déjà vu. They were one of the many teams we beat in the post Lockdown ‘run-in’ last season as Brentford came oh so close to making that step up. In the end, it was the Baggies that made it. Deservedly so. They got over the line in the final game and rightfully claimed their reward. 

Last time out against West Brom

That said, it has shown how hard the step up is. From going toe to toe with the Bees and Leeds United, they’ve now been on the wrong end of eight goals conceded and nil points as Everton and Leicester City have both feasted at the Slavan Bilić all you can score buffet.

Still, there’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded, err, Throstle and they’ll no doubt be looking to reset the form this evening. A home tie against a lower division ‘team like’… sure to have their eyes wide open and the players waking up this morning dreaming of the fourth round. The publicity seeking nature of the cup sponsor means we already know the reward for victory – a home tie with Fulham or Sheffield Wednesday. Their current ‘thing’ of doing the next round draw before the current one has even begun something designed as much with the intent of generating publicity, outtrage, knee jerk reaction and social media comment aka free advertising. So I won’t. You know their name. 

That’s their choice. We’ve ben treated to all manner of bizarre draws in the past. It’s their hilarious gimic  – something that has become about as amusing (and tedious) as an episode of Mrs. Brow…..

Instead, focus should be on going through. On getting the win. Rather than be distracted by the prospect of a local derby or the chance of a rematch with the final team to face Brentford in front of a Griffin Park full house.

The thought of playing the Cottagers something that will only see all the references to last season and the denouement of ‘that’ run in dragged up again. Oh. Joy. It’ll be like Doncaster Rovers all over. Something. Something. Something. Penalty.

Oh well. As Matthew Benham once said, “It’s become like a zombie that we can’t kill. But what can you do, eh?”. That, in regards tour transfer model but it feels much the same. We bounced back from that in style. I’m fully expecting the same thing to happen this time around. Needless to say, we’ll have the last laugh.

That’s for the future. For now, there’s another game. Could David Raya return? Will any of the new boys feature. Might Marcus Forss start? Could Ivan Toney get the goal he was so close to on Saturday afternoon. Roll on kick off. See you there – in spirit.

Let’s hope tonight is less tedious than…

Nick Bruzon