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Leicester City – Brentford. Post match debrief and player ratings.

8 Aug

Here we are again. Brentford travelled to Leicester City yesterday and came away with a hard fought point. A top, top second half-performance seeing The Bees’ bogey team hit the buffers. Goals from Ivan Toney and Josh Dasilva rounding off a comeback that, at times, looked questionable. With Manchester United next up on Saturday, the stage is well set following their own hiccups at Old Trafford.

As ever at this point, it’s tine for the post match review. What were the highs for Brentford? And the lows? Who shone agasint Leicester City and who is a shoe in for the visit of United? Most importantly, who is our first ‘star man’ of the season.

And as ever, the answers are here……

Nick Bruzon

New season. New team. New kit? Here we go!

7 Aug

Finally. We’re off. Trains, possibly planes and a few automobiles will be filled with Brentford fans making the trip to Leicester City for Sunday afternoon’s 2pm kick off. Of course, it should have happened already but all we can say is that hopefully everyone enjoyed the carnival that caused our second Premier League season to be pushed back a day. Instead, Saturday was spent enduring Fulham and their clappers at home to Liverpool aswell as watching Everton pick up where they left off last season when going down to Chelsea. Sitting on the sidelines watching the others enjoy (or not) their moment on TV wasn’t the start we were hoping for after but better late than never. Today is the day. The game is on. 

Last season was immense. There aren’t the words to describe how much fun it was being a Brentford fan. How exciting. Although from all my summer reading, safe to say that Greville Waterman has given it his very best shot (available from all good booksellers now).  How our wonderful Brentford team took the Prem by the scruff of the neck from that opening night defeat of Arsenal to sit top of the pack. How we kicked on from there and, but for the injury to David Raya, might well have ended up in the realms of Fantasy Football.  

As it is, our final position of 13th was a huge achievement and above just about everybody’s predictions. A campaign where a wonderful start and finish bookended a downturn in results that, if nothing else, was a timely reminder that a season is played out over 38 games rather than a dozen. Where the trashing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the destruction of West Ham (twice) and Kurt Zouma, Pontus at Vicarage Road, the craziness of the 3-3 with Liverpool and the League game at Everton were amongst so many memorable moments. So many dreams that somehow came true. Now, we have the chance to do it all over again. 

Chelsea (a) up there with the very best moments of last season

We looked yesterday at the summer and personal plans for the season going forward – you can see that here. Today, it is all about the immediacy of the Leicester City game. About opponents who did the double over Brentford last season. Getting some payback would be extremely well received, that’s for sure.

Our hosts will, of course, be missing talismanic goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel who has signed for Nice. Ricardo Pereira and Harvey Barnes are also absent with injury whilst the rumours surrounding James Maddison and Wesley Fofana haven’t stopped circulating.

The Bees, on the other hand, are about as set as we can be. The injury enforced absence of Ethan Pinnock and Kris Ajer will see new signings Ben Mee and Aaron Hickey start this one. Pontus and Rico completing the defence in front of David Raya. A midfield trio of Norgaard, Janelt and Jensen will provide the ammo for our front three of Wissa, Bryan and Ivan Toney.  

It is as strong and exciting as one could hope for. Especially given the injuries and Christian Eriksen’s decision to sit on the Old Trafford bench. Ahh, money. One can’t knock an individual for their decision but the emotional investment made, and now left lying on the vomitary floor, still feels far too raw to be able to ignore.   

It’s over – but we’ll always have the green jacket

On the flip side, from our likely starting XI Wissa in particular is my man to watch. He had a storming end to the last season as he made the transition from squad player to first team regular. He really does provide a wonderful outlet, breaking forward with pace and desperate to perform his trademark goal celebration. The passion is there for all to see. The enthusiasm and the ability to match. More of that would be incredible. 

Those Martin Damsgaard rumours are also kicking around and, if you believe what you read, a deal is imminent. Could he be here in time for the Manchester United game? Amazing though it would be, that’s for then.  For now it is all about how Brentford go. Knowing that one result will not define a season but, as with Arsenal last time out, starting on the front foot. 

Also, am I alone in wondering what colours we will be playing in. Could there be a shock reveal for what Kitman Bob has described as a ‘marmite’ third shirt? He tweeted on Thursday to say that we’d see “Incoming of the marmite kit within a day or 2” . 

Just imagine the reaction as the team unzip their tracksuits at 1.59 to unleash…. who knows what??? 

I can’t wait for any of it. Roll on 2pm. Roll on Leicester City. Let’s do this. ENJOY !!!

Both of these would be incredible

Nick Bruzon

How it’s going to work this season is….

5 Aug

The season is upon us. Brentford travel to Leicester City on Saturday Sunday (keep forgetting about that carnival – it’s so easily done, I suppose) looking to pick up where we left off last time out. A storming start and finish saw the Bees finish 13th in our inaugural Premier League campaign and then spend the summer waiting.. and waiting.. and waiting to see if Christian Eriksen would return the faith shown in him. Alas, Manchester United was the eventual decision made but one has to sympathise with the lure of those reported financials being offered, even if it is somewhat of a rarity to see a rat jumping on to a sinking ship. 

For Brentford, the summer has still seen a huge influx of activity. Ben Mee and Aaron Hickey providing welcome choice at the back with Thomas Strakosha offering an alternative in nets. The goalkeeper’s decision to Lionel Road after his time at Lazio very much an exciting one. Especially as it had been anticipated his move would be to Manchester United. Still, you never learn anything from fanzines or clickbait sites and Old Trafford’s loss is very much our gain. You don’t need to be in possession of Emma Hayes or Gary Neville levels of punditry to see where we struggled last time out.  

Then there’s Keane Lewis-Potter. The former Hull City starlet is an England U-21 and was one of the most sought after players in the Championship. His signing is very much one with the future in mind and builds further on our young but exciting squad With Josh Dasilva back to fitness aswell it would be fair to say that despite missing out on Christian Eriksen, we go into the game with Leicester looking very strong. Get Kris Ajer and Ethan Pinnock back to fitness (the former expected this month) and the Brentford squad is looking well set for what I am calling a top 12 finish. Hey, with a fair wind maybe even 10th. 

Perhaps the most exciting news of the summer was the return of the castle badge on our recently launched ‘away’ shirt’. I’ve not seen a bad word about this one. My word, it’s incredible. Absolutely love it.

Personally speaking, I’ve always felt it was awful how this was ditched for the cluttered clipart of the Middlesex montage that wasn’t designed by Russell Grant. Having this back again has only proven to be a popular decision if you believe what you reason Social media. I wonder if the same will be the case when our third shirt is revealed – something that could be imminent, per Kitman Bob. Oh Christian Eriksen, look at what you could have worn…

Absolutely loving the new away shirt

OK – I’ve been contacted by literally some of you given the relative dearth of material on these pages since the end of the last campaign, asking about any plans for 2022-23.  How it’s going to work this season is as follows…

Brentford FC Match day programme : the two articles per edition from last season are no more. I’m sure the club and the programme team have some big new ideas but it would seem that after contributing since 2009, mine are no longer required. To be fair, something would have had to give anyway and from my side it would have been at least one if not both of those features. Certainly, the kit stuff couldn’t be regurgitated again and not even I’m dumb enough to miss out on taking the hint of radio silence until turning the dial myself. Thanks for all the kind words last season though. 

The Last Word blog: It’ll carry on ; albeit stripped right back in terms of how often this goes online. Time is tight and with plenty of other pressing priorities outside of football, this also needs to be refreshed given we’ve been there and done that for many years now.

Post-match player review: This will continue. I really enjoyed writing these last season and so will continue to do this on the Hollywood Bets blog page (albeit links will always be here and on the socials).

And as if by magic, the first of those pieces is here. Ah, the crowbar like subtly remains as in force as ever. So here you go. Enjoy.

Until then, here’s to Leicester and then the visit of Manchester United on Saturday week. Reckon that could be end up being a spicy one….

Big new bank balance. Terrible new kit

Nick Bruzon   

Time to start talking kit (and buying tickets).

24 Mar

We’re half way through the first week of international break. Another ten days until Brentford head to Chelsea for a league game in which there was good news for us Bees yesterday. The narrow defeat at Leicester City now put behind us. Fantasy football teams left gathering dust. No bad thing in the case of yours truly, whose attempt to jinx Leeds United on Friday backfired terribly. Three players selected yet rather than this seeing them fall apart (again), they mounted that stonking rearguard action at Wolves to turn 2-0 down into an eventual 3-2 victory. At the same time, rather than the consolation of a plethora of points that should go with an on pitch win, the net result was a measly three. Three. Points. I give up. That long time aspiration to be a football manager one best consigned to the waste bin of history.

Bruzon’s falling apart. Again.

Anyway, aside from Leeds United and the Foxes putting a dent into the weekend (as ever, you can catch our take on the Brentford ‘top five’ from Leicester City here), there’s been another dalliance or two into the world of football fantasy. Namely, kit design. We shared some of them on these pages in the last few days but, along with some other efforts where we’ve messed around in Photoshop (see – it can be used for more than just venting the spleen about Mrs. Brown’s Boys) why not stick them all up in the same place?

If nothing else, we’re getting close to that time of the season where talk turns to what we’ll be running out in next season. Expect clubs to start dropping their 2022-23 efforts over the coming weeks and, whilst we’ve traditionally left things late, we already know that our home shirt will remain the current home shirt. Huge thanks from from the Bruzon family piggy bank on that decision to roll over this season’s design.

The flip side to this equation being we’re guaranteed a new away and third kit. Jon Varney has already confirmed that, “We hope the new away shirt design will excite our fans who remember the 80’s and early 90’s, whilst the new third shirt is designed very much for the future!

What does all this mean, though? The obvious guess would be a return for either the Hummel fractals or more blue on blue for our change colours. Possibly even the one season wonder that was the Funky Bee centenary crest. Go on Bob, I dare you…

Could the 2022-23 be heading down one of these routes…

Or, of course, rather than colours it could be a reference to our much loved ‘castle badge’ which was everywhere in the 80-90s . Tapping into that retro vibe very much in evidence at the moment. A bit of castle action. A helping hand from one of my favourite (non Bees) Umbro kits of all time. A sash. My word, an actual sash on a Brentford shirt…

…. or perhaps adopting the Castle badge once more?

As for the ‘one for the future’, that’s as open to interpretation as you want.  Could we be going back down the trailblazing route? Specifically that adopted with the brown / orange? Whilst it is, without doubt, up there with our best ever change strips in years, it’s fair to say that one split opinion. Incredibly, some people didn’t like it – I know, I know – so would take a huge leap of faith to retread that path. Then again, combine those colours with some yellow and our much repeated ‘Bus stop in Hounslow’ tag for the obvious solution. One we’ve talked about before and would take balls of marketing steel to adopt. Albeit, just imagine…..

Just for the meltdown…..

Then there’s our favourite yellow and black combo. The one unveiled in the window of a Bathroom shop (c/o our then sponsors, Bathwise) . Albeit remixed into more of a Bee motif.

Or something more simple but (and with apologies for shoddy photoshoppery) showing colours appropriate for what’s going on in the wider world at the moment.

It’s all complete guesswork and, with no inside knowledge, nothing more than a bit of fun. The point being that talk will soon be starting. The guesses will begin. The reveal will be dropped on us.

We’ve had it all over the years. Fans involved. A youth team member leaking the picture. The week long strip tease inflicted upon us by (now Leyton Orient) chief executive Mark Devlin. The only ask this time around being that whatever it is, please make it quick and make it soon. And Bob, if you are reading – I’m available….

How not to ‘launch’ an away kit. Curse that leak

Until then, which of these would you pick ?

Theo other, actual, news from yesterday was the news that Chelsea tickets are back on sale. With the terms of their sanctioning tweaked, Brentford fans with over 2,000 TAPS will be able to get these from today on a first come, first served basis. 1,600 were already sold before the shutters came down which, by my rudimentary calculations, means we have another 1,400 to go. Don’t @ me if that maths is wrong. Just move quick smart if you want in. Full details here, on Brentford ‘official’.

Until then, you can have a vote on the kit or catch up on that Leicester City piece.

Nick Bruzon

Leicester City debrief. Foxes sting Bees.

22 Mar

Brentford went down 2-1 at Leicester City on Sunday afternoon in a game of three outstanding strikes and not too much else to separate the two teams. With international break now upon us prior to those back-to-back London derbies at Chelsea and then home to West Ham, time to catch our breath. 

Time to look back at who was our star man, who were the top five performers and who leads the charge for our overall player of the season. At least, in these awards. The Leicester City debrief is now up and can be found here. In the absence of Ghoddos and Christian Eriksen (thanks a bunch, Covid) did anyone do enough to write themselves in to the first team for that game at Chelsea……

Nick Bruzon

He’s behind you. Time for some payback?

20 Mar

It’s been an odd weekend so far. With Brentford not in action until this afternoon given our trip to Leicester City has been put back by their own European jaunt (its currently 6.30am and the sun is rising over West London. That beautiful moment of Sunday morning calm before our H gets up to check his Fantasy Football scores prior to binge watching Pokemon – something he has recently discovered and which appears to be the animated equivalent of Mrs. Browns boys in its sheer repetitiveness of the same ‘plot’ every episode. Also, there are no jokes in it.) we’ve been enjoying the other games. There was the Premier League clash between Wolves and Leeds United on Friday night and then Middlesbrough – Chelsea in the FA Cup yesterday.   

First up, Brentford. Last time out we wrote about Leicester City and kit. About what happened when the Foxes came to Lionel Road. That’s here if you need another reminder of that one. Applications to the James Maddison fan club can be completed by sending a 45p postal order and s.a.e. to the following address… and don’t forget to mark your envelope with the word ‘buffoon’ in the top corner. Hey, its a family publication. Generally.

Let’s hope for less of a pantomime this time around

You can’t blame Leicester. We’d have been ecstatic had that been us. See: West Ham (a) . See Wolves (a). Playing the opposition like fiddles. Taking the moment when it arose and then milking it to death. Doesn’t make it any easer when you are on the receiving end though and so, all being well, the team (and the supporters) have stored this away. A reminder ready to be delivered. Football fans don’t forget. See also: Harlee Dean. Just because we can.

Yet despite the backdrop it’s a chance for Brentford to record a third successive win in the Premier League. For Ivan Toney to build on his record of five goals in the last two games and show Gareth Southgate what he has missed out on. For Christian Eriksen to wow us, yet again. My word he’s a special player. Subject to injuries the team will pick itself once more. The change in formation very much suiting our game play. The dogged determination against Burnley last weekend keeping us going until the 90th minute, and beyond, to wrap up the points. It’s going to be a good one today and I can’t wait. Victory, should it happen by sufficient goal difference, could see us end the day in twelfth place. Talk about an incentive to go for it.

Until then, we can reflect upon what has happened so far. Friday night at Molineux was bizarre. Wolves raced in to a two goal half-time lead as Leeds United fell apart. Again. No surprises there. Then, the impossible happened. Not one, not two but three goals from the visitors. The late, late winner mirroring Everton the night before. Albeit without the cable ties. 

Credit to Leeds United for their guts and fighting spirit. Much as it pains me to admit it. Surely, now, they’re safe from the drop. For a moment it looked like the season might be heading for the perfect denouement. Brentford safe. Leeds down. Game 38, between our respective teams at Lionel Road, the cherry on the cake. Then they started to win. Again. As The BeeGees almost once sang. That said, they’re still below us in the table. If ever there was any further motivation needed to get three points this afternoon then here it is. 

Leeds finally flexed their muscles on Friday

Then yesterday, we had the FA Cup tie. If grudging respect is being paid to Leeds then wheel it out by the bucketload for Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson. There was absolutely no mincing of words ahead of his club’s home quarter-final with Chelsea. The Blues’ request that is be played behind closed doors for reasons of ‘sporting integrity’ (given their own sanction based inability to sell tickets) was met with understandable short thrift. That’s the polite term.

Gibson telling them to f8%k the f87k off and when they’re done, f78k off some more. Or, as he put it, only slightly more diplomatically…….

“Chelsea and sporting integrity do not belong in the same sentence……Where is the intellect of Bruce Buck, the chairman of Chelsea, who has been an apologist for his owner, where the trophies won over 19 years have come from the corrupt money provided by Abramovich.” 

Well said that man. The sheer brass neck of the Stamford Bridge outfit stretching the incredulity of even the most dispassionate fans outside their little corner of South-West London. Just p8ss off, the almost universal thought that had sprung to mind when that request was made, before being later withdrawn.

Sadly, with millions of casual observers willing Middlesbrough on, there was to be no fairytale ending. No sense of justice done. Chelsea did what Chelsea do and made their 2-0 progression to the semi-finals look as comfortable as a squad that strong would. We’ve got them next up, after Leicester. In person, too. Assuming those tickets already sold remain valid…

The only other thought for today. Kit. Whilst I’m sure next season’s are already long since picked and in production, another though has crossed the mind. Writing in the programme this season about opposition colours we had the chance to feature one of the all time greatest. Namely, the Manchester City third shirt produced by Umbro for 2009-10. Given we’re stable mates – at least in terms of manufacturer – could we do something similar? 

Regular readers to these pages will know of my own kit nerdery. And so with, seemingly, nothing to write about Brentford yesterday (David Raya being called up for Spain what now?) there was time for a few minutes tinkering on photoshop. To produce this…

Concept kit art – with the deselect black/white filter in full effect today

Thoughts? Kitman Bob? Anyone? Well I like it so that’s that.

That’s it. Our Harry is stirring. It’s only minutes until another foray into the copy/paste world of Pokemon and Team Rocket falling apart like Leeds United. Again. Best get set for Leicester….

Just once Team Rocket. Once….

Nick Bruzon 

A question of kit. Could we? Should we?

16 Mar

The spectre of fixture reshuffling for TV hangs heavy once again. “Our match away to Manchester United has been moved to Monday May 2. This game will kick-off at 8pm at Old Trafford. Fans should note that this date is subject to Manchester United’s involvement in the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final”. Not my words. The words of Brentford official. At the same time confirming that the home game with Tottenham Hotspur on 23rd April has had kick off pushed back to 5.30pm. Again, subject to potential European fixtures . Much like January’s game in Liverpool, the date is now locked in. Unless cup football gets in the way. Nothing like looking out for the fans although, at least, the risk of Manchester United being further moved has disappeared as quickly as it was announced. Tuesday night’s defeat at home to Atlético Madrid just hours after the TV announcement means that interest in this season’s European competition is well and truly over. Elsewhere, with Leicester City next up for Brentford, we look to that game aswell as mulling over a possible kit ‘first’ for the Bees.

More to follow, below

First up, TV. For Brentford it’s the sort of ‘nice’ problem to have. A club in demand and a further reminder that we’re a Premier League team. Sometimes, its still a case of a self-administered pinch to remind ourselves we’re in the top flight. Such has been the journey to get here over the years. Yet here we are. Deserving of our place and back on form. Ivan Toney banging them in for fun and Christian Eriksen fast carving himself a place in club history.

His signing could end up being the shrewdest, boldest move of the Premier League season. His impact has been immediate. Burnley and Norwich carved open. Less canaries, more turkeys. But hey, enough about the commentators. Eriksen’s reward being an immediate recall to the Denmark squad announced yesterday for the games with the Netherlands and Serbia later this month. If he carries on at this rate the queue to secure his longer term signature over the summer is going to be a long one. Of course, I’d love it to be with Brentford but that choice is going to be down to the player and bigger powers than the aspirations of one supporter with his head in the clouds.

Then again the lure of our set up, Thomas Frank and the welcome received so far may talk louder than any dumper truck full of cash offered up by other clubs. You never know…

Christian Eriksen – had a blinder against Burnley

Until then, we’ve got the trip to Leicester City this Sunday. A 2pm kick off (again, European football getting in the way) with no official TV coverage. Presumably those unable to get a ticket for the sold out away end may find a means to circumnavigate technologies ‘The Internet’ for live streaming.

The focus on Sunday will be in Brentford maintaining the winning run. In seeing if Ivan Toney can keep up that goal scoring form that sees him up to fifth in the Premier League goal scoring charts. His eleven for the season see our man one behind Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Sadio Mané and Diogo Jota (both Liverpool) in joint second place and level with Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min (Spurs). Not bad company to be keeping and with only Mohamed Salah above them (cripes, its no wonder Liverpool are still in the title race with that amount of firepower), the calls for Ivan to be selected for England are starting to grow. Whether they are answered at this point remains to be seen but, if nothing else, the national team’s historic form in penalty shoot outs alone suggests his eventual selection is inevitable.

Sunday also sees another coming together with pantomime villain James Maddison. He may aswell have turned up in a top hat, cape and sporting a waxed moustache when the Foxes visited Lionel Road back in October. His full-time admission that “I want to be the villain,” …“it makes it all the sweeter when I score up that end.”  Further endearing him to Brentford fans whose skin he’d spent the entire game getting under with his theatrics. Then again, he wasn’t alone.

Hmmmmm

Our Harry asked me at full time. “Dad. Do you know who men of the match should be?”   Err, ‘men’? I questioned.  He continued, “The Leicester physios”. The regularity with which they collapsed to the floor before making a full recovery had not gone unobserverd by H, us, the entire North stand and fourth official who would eventually hold up the board. My word, It was almost as though it had been a preordained tactic. The Foxes collapsing like chimneys. Brendan Rodgers very much channeling his inner Fred Dibnah when it came to setting up his team.

Channelling their inner ‘Fred’ was a success for Leicester last time out

Just like the visit of number 26 with Burnley at the weekend, football fans don’t forget. We have long memories and this one will be front and centre on Sunday. Much like Russell Slade and ten times better Harlee Dean, these things have a tendency to come back and bite you in the backside. Here’s hoping Brentford can invoke the spirit of another pantomime villain and remember that revenge is a dish best served cold. Or, in this case, lukewarm.

The season continues to deliver. Most observers had Brentford written off before the campaign began. Instead, its Leeds United and Everton who are the ones duking it out in the relegation places. Whilst most fans would, I am sure, like a few more points for comfort I’m still looking upwards. Beating Leicester City on Sunday with sufficient GD swing will see us overtake the currently 12th placed team. That’s not a bad incentive to go for it with less than ten games remaining in the season.

The other question remains one of ‘kit’. Or should that be two questions? Firstly, yours truly. I make no secret of my own shirt nerdy. With ‘several’ shirts from the last five decades at home, one has always been worn when watching Brentford. Always, That is, until Norwich City when the new ‘lucky’ green jacket got an an outing. A late ‘70s polyester masterclass in fashion that time forgot. Yet… we won. No shirt. No colours, beyond the addition of the yellow / blue hat ‘away’ hat. Next up, Burnley. Same again. No colours. Just the green jacket and the hat. We won.

It seems obvious what to do wear next time out but, the one small problem being…..Mrs. Bruzon hates it. Absolutely hates it. “You look like a gnome” being the polite way of putting things. My protests that, “The table doesn’t lie” falling on deaf hears. As it stands. 

Domestic bliss or playing the part, no matter how small, in keeping a winning run going ? What to do? What to do…..? 

The other kit question being that of this season’s offerings. We all know what’s going on in Europe at the moment. The reaction of the International community to the attrocities in Ukraine has been pretty much universal – the handful of dickhead countries aside. Here, Premier League games have seen stadia drapped in Ukrainian colours and huge murals of the national flag held aloft prior to kick off. Again, support has been largely universal – the dickhead club aside.

However, how about going one better? How about getting a one off kit commissioned? Match shirts to be auctioned off afterwards for charity to help Ukranian refugees?

Might Brentford be the ones to nail our colours to the mast and help lead the way as we have done so often before?  Kitman Bob? Matthew Benham? If either of you are reading (err, its a lovely thought….)  Brentford official? Could we? More importantly, should we?

Everyone talks the talk but why don’t we walk the walk? Forgive the shoddy photoshop but you get the gist. What about it?

For now though, at least we can start booking the train to Manchester United and awaiting the game with Leicester City. I can’t wait for that one. Bring it on and see you there. All being well, in the green jacket.

Until then, here’s the Burnley catch up.

Nick Bruzon

Will injury blow impact title chances?

27 Oct

After Iheanacho lifts over, Pérez collides with Raya while trying to latch onto Tielemans’ pass – both are fine to continue as play resumes. Not my words, the words of official Leicester City Twitter on Sunday afternoon at 3.46pm. Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon.  After a few days of tests and scans with the medical department, I’m gutted to say that I’ve damaged my Posterior Cruciate Ligament in my left knee on Sunday. Not my words, the words of Brentford goalkeeper David Raya as it was announced he will miss the next four to five months recovering from the injury sustained in the collision with Ayoze Pérez. All of which means preparation form tonight’s game with Stoke City along with the Premier league clashes with Burnley, Norwich City and way beyond are now back to the drawing board. Huesca loanee Álvaro Fernández  will be handed the gloves with the Bees now minus our inspirational shot stopper. 

Bad news from social media

Urghh. Something had seemed odd during the game when Raya hadn’t run up to cause havoc in the Leicester box late on. The award of a corner kick deep into the 7(seven) minutes of injury time was met with exhortations from the crowd for the Brentford ‘keeper to push up and cause mayhem in the opposition box. Instead, we got a rather tepid limp forward and a holding position maintained well inside his own half.

The irony being this moment occurred during time added on to make up for all the ‘treatment’ required by our visitors during the regulation ninety. Supporters infuriated by opponents, and I’ll be generous here, making the most of every moment they went to ground. Collapsing like industrial chimneys after the plunger had been, err, plunged.

Plunge the plunger…..

Cripes. Even Harry had said to me at full time. “Dad. Do you know who men of the match should be?”   Err, ‘men’? I questioned.  He continued, “The Leicester physios”. Well said that boy. Well said.

The regularity with which they collapsed to the floor before making a full recovery had not gone unobserverd by H, us, the entire North stand and fourth official who would eventually hold up the board. My word, It was almost as though it had been a preordained tactic.

Channel your inner Fred Dibnah. Get the lead and go to ground. Run down the clock. Grind it out.

Channelling their inner ‘Fred’ was a success for Leicester

Nobody is suggesting there was any particular malice from Perez, btw. At the time it had seemed like another brave save from Raya. Watching back the highlights on Match of the Day, it didn’t even warrant a viewing. Indeed the most distasteful element aside from the pronunciation of Boo-moo (one to file alongside Canyos) was the celebration from James Maddison for what transpired to be his winning goal.

We’d given him stick all game, and understandably given his own combination of cosying up to the ref whilst playing in bowling shoes, so one can hardly blame him for milking the moment.

I want to be the villain,” he said at full time. “It makes it all the sweeter when I score up that end.”  If nothing else, it makes our rematch on 19th March all the more intriguing. 

Giving it back to the West Stand

Hey, you never know. By that point David may be fit again. Fingers crossed the anti-gravity treadmill does it’s thing. We have the consolation in the fact that no surgery is required. Brentford head of medical Neil Greig confirming that this sort of injury ”Usually heals well without the need for surgery. David has already begun using a brace specifically designed to aid this process.”  You can read that one in full on ‘official’.

Until that point, its a case of best wishes to David off the field and the same to Álvaro Fernández on it. The reserve ‘keeper, on loan from Huesca, now has a chance to establish himself in the battle for the gloves. Whilst nobody would want to get their chance in this fashion, it’s how football goes. The Olympic silver medalist already has a full international cap to his name and so hardly as though we are chucking Don Incognito into the mix. He will no doubt be desperate to hit the ground running and propel Brentford back into the race for the Champion’s League places. Or beyond…. Had The Bees got the decisive goal on Sunday, we’d be waking up this morning placed fifth in the Premier League. Such fine margins in a race which still has a long way to run.

If nothing else, the Directors of Football seem to have got this ‘talent spotting’ thing sorted out just fine. Whilst of course I’m desperately sad to lose David, and for such a long period of a season in which he was making an even bigger name for himself than already, at least there is comfort to be taken in the cover. What this means for the Stoke City game this evening, where he was sure to feature, remains to be seen. Roll on 6.45pm and the team announcements for that news. I can’t imagine Thomas will risk him with his first choice league ‘keeper now MIA.

Then we’re on to Burnley. To Norwich City. To Newcastle United and a long run of games in which David will need to join the rest of us on the sidelines. Looking on and cheering. A run of games where we play some of the biggest names and sternest tests in English football. So just like the season to date then. 

There’s not much else to say at this point. The injury has been confirmed and we can’t dress it up any. A top class player is out. A replacement with all the potential is in. Bring on Saturday afternoon when we see just what Álvaro can do. Until then, it’s a case of knowing that the entire Brentford family is behind David, thinking of him and hoping for a speedy recovery.

David Raya is a Bee.

Nick Bruzon

Roll up. Roll up. Get your sour grapes and injustice here.

25 Oct

Monday morning. Half-term. Brentford very much schooled by Leicester City in the dark arts of football yesterday afternoon. A 2-1 defeat for the Bees at Lionel Road one which left a very empty feeling in the pit of the stomach at full time. Whereas we’d walked off with heads held high after battering Chelsea last week, this time the Bees were undone by the midfield axis of James Maddison and Simon Hooper. The player spending so much time whispering sweet nothings into the referee’s ear, one can only presume his eventual substitution was in order to go and run a warm bath for the pair of them to share. If ever Gareth Southgate needs somebody to gob off to the ref then Maddison is a sure fire selection to add to his solitary England cap. The only time he wasn’t prodding Mr. Hooper, he was busy going arse over tit in a style that suggested the poor man’s Jack Grealish was playing in carpet slippers. Not even Linda Lovelace went down that often.  There was no irony lost in his sole contribution to actual football being the winning goal. As JJ (of goal inducing bladder fame) nailed it afterwards in his always succinct style, “If ever the phrase ‘an utter fanny’ was invented for a footballer then it’s him.” Cripes, even hearing the scoreline from Manchester United in the pub afterwards failed to raise flagging spirits. Liverpool breaking Terry Christian’s heart but failing to complete a bracketing that 5-0 up after 50 minutes and playing ten men suggested might be in the offing.

It’s 07351 62……

Instead, the only 7(seven) we got was time added on in the second half at Lionel Road. The bizarre thing being that the Leicester City players only seemed to be injured when they were ahead. Sorry, only seemed to be ‘injured’. At 0-0 and 1-1 the game was fast flowing and attacking. Yet whenever they had the lead, the visitors collapsed with an ease and regularity that suggested Fred Dibnah had taken over as Leicester head coach. 

Or if not the champion steeplejack, perhaps Brice Samba. Such was the time wasting, gamesmanship and general flow disruption that only years in the Premier League can teach you. Oh, if only Mr Hooper had been wise to it. Alas not. Too busy exchanging phone numbers with Maddison, I suppose. We’d been worried about him going in to this game and came out of it no happier. Another hugely frustrating performance from the man in the middle but you can’t blame Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers for having his team play like this if the ref was going to allow it.

Post match interviews with the BBC’s Lauren Moore

Brentford came out of the traps flying and picked up where we left off against Chelsea. Surely a goal would come? Surely? There it was but the offside flag ruled out an early opener from Ivan Toney. There was no need even for VAR but it did, at least, give hope that we’d kick on.

This, after Pontus had been denied an early penalty for thrusting the side of his face into the outstretched fist of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel rather than guiding the ball into the net. Draw your own conclusions….

Eventually the goal did come. Not as expected though. The Bees undone by a rare incursion into their half from the visitors and an absolute howitzer from Youri Tielemans. The player, a midfielder who does know what it is to be picked for regular international duty, showed all his ability and skill with about as wonderful a goal as you will see. My. Word. What a hit. What a strike. It’s probably still moving even now. Sometimes, one just has to doff the hat and say, ‘Bravo, sir”.

It was a wonder goal that left David Raya no chance. All the early pressure from Brentford undone in an instant. The stream of injuries and ref chat which then followed disrupting any form of attempt to get back in to the game. The Bees desperately missing Vitaly Janelt in the centre. His return cannot come soon enough. Bryan and Ivan linking well but neither able to trouble Schmeichel with the final touch, one Toney header aside.

Half time came and went. Brentford back out and on top. Attacking the East stand after the dirty trick of ‘changing ends’ had been pulled following the coin toss pre kick-off. Yet despite it all, we were level on the hour. Zanka the man who managed to evade to the flying fists and flick home a corner. 1-1. Lionel Road erupted. Scores level. Bees on top and pushing for the winner. Here we go. Here. We. Go. Pressure rewarded. A goal scored and only one possible outcome from this point. Or so we thought…

Football. The game we love. The game that kicks us in the nuts time and again. This time it was the turn of Leicester City to be the ones breaking our collective hearts. Tielmans and the hero of Moscow, Patson Daka, teaming up to catch the Bees on the break. Ripping us a new one with electric pace and there he was. None other than panto villain Maddison to restore their lead, despite the best efforts of David Raya. 2-1 up. The goal deserved with the Bees so focused on breaking forward, we’d been exposed across the rest of the pitch. The visitors picking their moment to strike and what a clinical way to do so. Maddison leaving the field shortly afterwards. He may aswell have worn a cape, top hat and twirled his moustache. Instead, he applauded first his own fans and the Brentford faithful behind the goal.

Despite the final fifteen minutes and prolonged period of time added on, there was little could be done. Foxes back in their hole and the door bolted. Ultimately, doing exactly what they needed to and despite the clear frustrations from all around the ground, nothing more than ‘job completed’. Regardless of the means. A third win on the bounce following those against Manchester Untied and Spartak. Another defeat for the Bees against wily opposition. The absence of Wissa, Baptiste, Josh Dasilva and the aforementioned Janelt wrecking our midfield but still a game where we walked out feeling mugged. Experience at this level definitely something in short supply and, perhaps, another lesson in the fact that nice guys finish last.

Sometimes, a bit more guile needed. If the refs are going to be like this then play to them rather than any moral code. The sole consolation being the sight of Pontus ploughing through James Maddison with impunity later in the second half. But nice though the moment was, and it was, brief smiles don’t win games. Goals do. And on this occasion, Leicester City did just what they needed.    

Ok. So this is full of sour grapes today. I readily admit that. Despite the need to be humble and sporting, sometimes the feeling of being absolutely played or of having a ref offer less protection than a continuity announcer failing to announce “And now on BBC1, Mrs Brown’s Boys” is just too strong. Too over bearing. Even having slept on it. If that makes me the bad loser and poorer for it then fair enough. I’ll take it on the chin. Much like Pontus.  C’est la vie, as popular music’s B*Witched once reminded us in such wonderful double denim toe tapping style. 

For now, heads down. The Premier League experience has been a wonderful one so far. At times, an education but we’ve not looked out of our depth at any point. A bit more luck with the injuries and the refs would be nice. A bit more guile, too. Next up we’ve got two away trips.  Stoke City in the league cup and then Burnley in the Prem. If the chance of playing against number 26 again doesn’t get the blood pumping, what will ? Bring it on.

My only other positive and last thought from this one. At least our Harry is the bigger man. I’d expected upset and tears at full time. Instead, we got the opposite when he went to catch up Woody on the way out of the ground.

Full time. H better than his dad

Nick Bruzon

It was hell on earth. Could the same happen again?

24 Oct

Sunday morning and another early start. The eSpresso has been drunk, last night’s washing up done and the cat fed whilst the rest of the family still sleep. Even the cat.  Hey, never let it be said that yours truly doesn’t lead a rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. Yet all of this mundane normality will explode out of the blocks in a few hours time. Brentford host Leicester City knowing that victory combined with a win for Liverpool could propel the Bees to fifth in the Premier League table (one of the teams having to get some combination of points in the Spurs – West Ham game makes fourth just out of sight). Having performed so well in recent weeks, moreso seeing how fellow promoted teams have fared against teams we’ve taken all the way (Chelsea hitting Norwich City for a 7(seven) goal bracketing yesterday), means we go in to this one with tails very much up.

A typical early morning in TW8

Bloody hell. The atmosphere, and performance, in the Chelsea game (Brentford rather Norwich) were like nothing else. Then again, we said the same after West Ham away and the 3-3 with Liverpool. Every time you think that things have got as good as they can, the team and the fans rewrite the form book. Last Saturday evening had just about everyone channeling their inner Dean Smith. We actually did deserve to win. It’s a real ‘break glass in case of emergency phase but for once, it rang so very true.

Of course, the record books will show we didn’t. Ben Chilwell’s goal separating the teams. True enough. Talking to friends and colleagues last week, all anyone outside TW8 could say was just how the heck had we been denied at least a point? The reaction was almost universal. Match of The Day showing the collection of wonderful saves, posts rattled and last gasp defending that kept us at bay. Kudos to Chelsea, btw. They did what they needed to and won the game. Yet seeing them dismantle Norwich City yesterday put it truly into context. Perhaps even more dramatically than Watford being obliterated by Liverpool the week after we were denied a famous victory over the Anfield side by nothing more than an offside flag.

It was a case of less Canaries and more headless chickens at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea with their pedal to the metal. Norwich, stuck in reverse and about as clueless as a Glenn Hoddle punditry masterclass. Just as at Lionel Road, the game started with the Champions of Europe pouring forward. Unlike the game at Lionel Road, the opposition crumbled and had no idea how to counter (or even contain) their opponents. The half-time assessment that with some substitutions Norwich might be able to play for the draw (they were 3-0 down at this juncture, having previously scored just 2 goals all campaign) was about as far fetched as it was just plain stupid. Instead, all we got was the aforementioned bracketing.

Let’s be clear. I’ve no particular love for Chelsea. Or any other club. At most, a lot of admiration for Norwich after they way they treated our Harry a few years back. Likewise, today’s opponents given the much needed shot of footballing romance they gave us all a few years back. If nothing else, the proof that the ‘elite’ don’t have it all their way.

Good times at Carrow Road. Pre kick-off

Ultimately though, in our house it’s all Brentford. At the same time, seeing how the three promoted teams have performed against the best in the land shows such a marked contrast as one can’t help but try to draw parallels. The respective results speak for themselves.  Watford 0 Liverpool 5 to Brentford 3 Liverpool 3.  Chelsea 7(seven) Norwich 0 to Brentford 0 Mendy Chelsea 1. Last season’s performance in the Championship counting for nothing now we’ve all stepped up. 

The one clear difference being that we were at home for both. My word, home. Talk about making that advantage count. Talk about not just raising the roof but ripping it off. The noise levels being generated have been stratospheric. Gargantuan. Like nothing we’ve ever experienced before. “It was hell on Earth, the last 20 minutes” being the considered verdict of Ben Chilwell last time out. 

Hell on earth at Lionel Road, last time out

We may not have the financial clout to match but we certainly have the passion. I’ve been in stadiums where we’ve played European Champions and missed out on promotion by play offs. And the atmosphere at Lionel Road is ten times better than that. It’s just about getting the balance right.

We had it at Griffin Park, of course. Who could forget the denouement to the 5-0 against Birmingham City or that afternoon against Preston North End? Then lockdown came, we were all stuck at home and denied football for the best part of an entire season, not to mention the end of the one before. Yet upon return its almost as if all the frustration of missing out has been bottled and the stopper now released. Seriously, being part of these crowds has been as much cathartic as anything else. Makes the missing out and the early morning washing up all that bit more bearable. Mostly, though, it plays a HUGE part in stifling our opponents and making Lionel Road a place to be feared. A genuine fortress. 

Leicester City are about as tough as opponents get. Just like Brentford, they’ll have the top quarter of the table in sight and, of course, have experienced their own huge morale boost. Namely that of coming from 2-0 down in Moscow to stride out as eventual 4-3 winners. Jamie Vardy spent the evening on the bench, with the Foxes four coming c/o of Patson Daka. Joy, another goal threat to contend with today and Kasper Schmeichel a man mountain at the other end. Having finally said farewell to one top class shot stopper in Edouard Mendy, we’re straight back up against another. Nobody sad it would be easy at this level !   

Foxes in Europe. Laboured wordplay and a half hour spent on photoshop yesterday so damn well going to use it again

Can I call it? No hope. All we can say is that if the Brentford faithful keep it as loud as we have done all season then we’ve every chance of lifting the boys onwards and upwards.

The bookies have the Bees as the outsiders, plus ça change, although at least we are deemed a little bit closer than in previous weeks. To be honest, it counts for naff all barring curiosity. All that matters is how we hit the ground at 2pm – on and off the pitch.

The bookies give Leicester the edge

Bring it on. See you there. If nothing else, there are Panini Cards to swap. Our Harry has a stack of doubles and is all set for the 1pm swap meet underneath the Family Section in the North West corner of the stadium. You can read about that on ‘official’.

Fingers crossed, the team can match his, and our, enthusiasm…..

Nick Bruzon