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Vamos David Raya.

7 May

Three Premier League games to go. Brentford face Southampton this afternoon before next Sunday afternoon’s rearranged trip to Everton (the biggest stitch up since the Allies took the field in Escape To Victory) and then the season denouement at home to Leeds United. With Monday night’s defeat at Manchester United still niggling, a return to winning ways against The Saints would be marvellous for so many reasons.

I’m not gong to lie but the game at Old Trafford really irked me. Perhaps it was exhaustion after the huge trek there and back. Moreso, one undertaken after leaving a family weekend away early. That’s football though. The journey is part of it and, being fair, the travel element of this particular long haul was a heck of a lot more enjoyable than the usual.

Pre-match optimism at Old Trafford eventually turned to frustration

No, for me Clive it was a combination of many other factors. Our own out-of-sorts approach, if we are being honest. Sure, show some respect to Manchester United and there history (lord knows, there were enough reminders of former glories hanging around the tired looking stadium) but this much? Some bright spells aside, we were largely on the back foot. Largely playing too deep. Unable to make any real penetration and lacking some of the usual spark. Where were the Brentford who dominated West Ham, obliterated Chelsea or ran rings around Tottenham?

Then there was Cristiano Ronaldo. He is the ultimate in marmite players. The pace and technique – amazing. World class. The ultimate ball tied to foot with a piece of string. The physique  – just jaw dropping. How can somebody be that fit and that athletic at any age, let alone at a point when most professionals would have hung up their boots? Truly, a model professional in more ways than one. 

For all that good stuff, there’s the bullshit side. The petulance. The backchat. The theatrical waving of arms. The histrionics. The ‘injuries’ and miracle cures. The snideness – yes, Rico fouled him but the initial move to that event was arguably started by the Portuguese show pony. On Monday, we had it all by the bucketload. 

As for the supporters… talk about entitlement. Talk about a bunch of fans whose approach was to turn up, shut up, wave a scarf and expect to win because they were once any good. Even the scheduled ‘protest’ turned into as big a non-event as the Mrs. Brown’s Boys Xmas special once it became clear they were going to win the game.

United may be sixth in the Premier League but of all the away days undertaken this campaign, it was the grand, fanbase and team I’ve been left with the least respect for. Say what you want about Leeds United (and we will over the next two weeks, I am sure) nobody could deny the atmosphere at Elland Road was incredible. What a noise. What backing for their club. Oh, the irony that on that afternoon it was Brentford who fell apart and saw almost certain victory turn to a last gasp draw.

Elland Road – raucous

Anyway, long story short the game at Manchester United has left an unusually sour taste in the mouth. And I’m sorry for harping on but there you go. Oh to have Thomas Frank’s approach of 24 hours to dwell on any result then move on.

The plus side being that Southampton this afternoon sees a chance to get back on the horse. To make one last charge for the upper half of the table. To potentially end the day in tenth place if results go our way. Something that will have even more importance given we go to an Everton side desperate for points in eight day’s time….. 😉  

Imagine what another defensive nightmare at Everton might do to the league table…..

So, what do we think for today? Barcelona bound Sergi Canos (there’s not anybody actually believing that, is there? ) and Ethan Pinnock are 4th out still, although word from Thomas is that Everton is the hope for their return. Otherwise, with Ghoddos, Zanka and Frank the Tanks also injured, we’re the same sqaud as Monday. 

The obvious change is one to a traditional back four rather than three with wingbacks. We know how well that line up has worked against the right opposition in the last month or two and would give us that extra balance in midfield. More, given how deep Christian Norgaard found himself at Old Trafford – at times he looked like a fourth centre back. Then again, I said the same thing prior to the Chelsea game and look how that went? Thomas Frank remaining one step ahead of everyone and I am sure that will be the approach this afternoon.

Of probably more interest will be whether Josh Dasilva makes a start. He came off the bench against United and the prospect of seeing him and Christian Eriksen together for a prolonged period of time is now which has supporters’ drooling. Two of our most technically gifted players in the heart of the midfield could be a joy to behold. Who makes way being the real conundrum. Four in to three just won’t go and Vitaly, who makes up that quartet, would be very hard done by to miss out. A wonderful problem to have.

Southampton won’t just roll over, of course. Like the Bees, they are also on 40 points. They will be looking to end the season with a bang after hitting the buffers in recent weeks. April saw just one win from six games played. A period that included the 6-0 tanking administered by Chelsea. Something as unusual in not just the heaviness of the defeat but their becoming one of the few clubs not to put at least three goals past the Stamford Bridge outfit in a month that saw our own Bees start that colossal Chelsea haemorrhaging. 

Its all our fault. It all our fault….

Still, for me today is all about us. The opposition an almost byproduct of needing to win. Of wanting to win. Wanting to get back to the brilliant Brentford we’ve been spoiled so much with in recent weeks. Of course we haven’t got a divine right to just turn up and win. To expect victory on demand. That’s where we came in to this piece and that sort of approach (see also: fans who thing success equates to stadium capacity) sucks. Victory needs to be earned. Fans need to be loud. Players need to want it.

It doesn’t matter whether we face Southampton or Chelsea. Liverpool or Leeds. The approach needs to be the same. From everybody. The fans got their part spot on at Old Trafford. Here’s to the rest of the pieces in that puzzle falling in to place today.   

I can’t wait for this one. See you there.

Oh, and if anyone needs a new song this afternoon, what about something for our own man in nets?

How we’ve missed him at times this season.

How good to have him back and at his best.

Granted, this one starts off a little bit Dogtanian but what simpler refrain than channeling Righeira’s early 80’s Europe classic…

Vamos, David Raya. Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh….

If nothing else, certainly less of a mouthful than the Christian Eriksen song which I still can’t get right. I know of at least one West Stand observer keen to drive this one forward. Top, top plan.

And until then, here’s the Manchester United debrief…

Nick Bruzon

Post-match debrief and player review.

4 May

Manchester United 3 Brentford 0. They got the points. Well done. At least we had the vocal presence. Sadly, the push for a top ten place hit a bump at Old Trafford on Monday night although with three games to go, that’s still on with the next bite at the cherry against Southampton on Saturday.

As ever at this point we ask who was the star man For Brentford. Who shone as Manchester United did the business? Will Thomas have been impressed enough or make changes for Southampton? Who leads the race to be our season long top performers ?

The answers are here in the post match player review and debrief. .

Nick Bruzon

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

3 May

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

Farewell, my old friend

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

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

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

During the war, Grandad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

Double fantasy points to one result. Could it happen?

2 May

Four Premier League games to go. Brentford about to face Manchester United in a top flight fixture. Bees with their tails up following an unbeaten April that included the 4-1 trashing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and culminated in last weekend’s 0-0 with Tottenham. A game which, even now, seems bizarre that we ‘only’ took one point. Life is good. Further enhanced by Everton winning yesterday – something which has put the relegation cat amongst the pigeons. All of a sudden Leeds United finding destiny outside of their own hands. That final fixture of the season could be huge. All that’s to come, though. For now we need to focus on matters at hand. Namely our own top ten aspirations and a trip to Old Trafford.

This one really has it all to play for. A win for Brentford will take us to tenth in the table with just three games to play. Manchester United are eating dinner in the last chance saloon if Champions’ League qualification is the aspiration. Like Watford at the other end, only maths are keeping them alive. 8 points from fourth place with three games to play. The Bees with a wonderful chance to pull the plug on their life support before the inevitable blow is dealt by one of the many tams above them winning an actual game. With the Theatre of Dreams (TM) more a place of nightmares at present, there will never be a better chance. Morale seems to be worse than that of the studio audience at a live recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys as Brendan O’Carroll fluffs his lines once more and they need to go again. Will the torture ever end?

For Brentford, there was great news in that both Kris Ajer and Christian Norgaard are expected to return. Magnificent though their respective covers did in the Spurs game, I can’t imagine Thomas Frank will mess around with making them fight for their place. Both players are just too good to leave on the bench if they are fit. Hardly cutting edge insight, granted, but at this point in the season the line up is largely settled and the team – now working around the magnificent Christian Eriksen – are on fire.

View from the away end – Christian shows how much it means at Chelsea

All the predictions of doom and gloom continue to be thrown back in the faces of those who utter them. 20th was the call before the season began. Relegation was the call as we hit that mid-winter blip. Even as recently as Saturday afternoon the team line up prompted reactions such as ‘Where are the centre backs’ and ‘Just seen the line-up. Time to stick a straw straight into a bottle of gin’. Again, the critics left with copious amounts of egg on face as Brentford again did what we’ve been doing all season.

Tonight will be no different. My online bookmaker (used purely for research purposes) has Brentford at 18/5. Manchester United 22/31. To be fair, a lot tighter than games against the clubs chasing Europe normally are but still a clear winner has been targeted by the bookies. And? It’s nothing new. We have the spirit. We have the form. We have the passion and the ability to pull it out the bag as seen at Chelsea. At West Ham. Against Liverpool, and Arsenal. That never say die spirit that has kept us going until the last kick of every game. Blood and guts turning draws into wins. 

And we have a green jacket. Cinderella, you shall go to the ball. After missing out on this one for a whole plethora of reasons, an 11th hour saviour has sailed in to view. Now, there is the offer of a return trip and a ticket. Jurassic Park!! I’m in. As the message went: “ I need to know if the green jacket will be making an appearance…

It has now been worn six times at games. It has seen 16 points. 

Norwich (a) W.

Burnley (h) W.

Chelsea (a) W

West Ham (h) W

Watford (a) W

Tottenham (h) D  – albeit worn by Mrs B due to yours truly’s enforced absence.

Could this luckiest of lucky totems inspire further glory? Or is it just down to Christian Eriksen? A mere coincidence that the run has matched those games he has started for Brentford.

En-route to another three points. This time, Watford.

As for Manchester United, they give the impression of a team intent on shooting themselves in the foot time and again. Only Cristiano Ronaldo, that talismanic tour de force, with his unpredictability and almost super human talent, able to offer any vague hope of salvation at the moment. A player who despite his own desperately sad personal news in recent works, still drives onwards. Still pulls the goals out the bag and the team out of the mire.

As we’ve said on the pages many times, an 18 month spell working in Manchester back in 2007-08 meant that I was often that most odious of species – an Old Trafford football tourist. The cliches about fans living down South all true as a colleague, who shared a pair of season tickets with three fans from London, often found he had a spare for midweek games. If Brentford weren’t playing at the likes of Accrington Stanley (coldest. away game. ever), Bury or Stockport County then what else was there to do of an evening? Amongst other visits I was there for the night Ronaldo defied logic and gravity to score ‘that’ free kick against Portsmouth. It is ability of that level that still sets the alarm bells off, even now – fourteen years later.

Still. That was then. This is now. Last night I had a strange dream (involving the fact that I somehow watched the game on Sky 24 hours before kick off) that Brentford win 3-1. Then, our Harry got up from bed, came out of his room and the first thing he said to me was, “Dad – we’re going to win 3-1 tonight.” .

Insert Twilight zone jingle. The go directly back to the bookie’s website for some further research. Undue optimism or is there something in the air? At 35/1, it would seem churlish not to have a nibble. Will it come off? I can’t wait to find out. See you there. Have jacket, will travel.

Until then, here’s the Tottenham catch up and player review….

Nick Bruzon 

Just four games to go and fate is hanging in the balance

28 Apr

How things can change. Nine years ago it was one of the lowest points in our club history – the appearance on Soccer AM where we missed more penalty kicks than, well, we all know what happened later that afternoon against Doncaster Rovers….. At least we had the pleasure of seeing Frank Leboeuf being about as Gallic as they come. Charm personified (on and off camera) then puffing on a Gauloises the second he was out the studio. Likewise, there was a TV debut for our H – and he hadn’t even been born at that stage.

Now Brentford have four games to go in our first Premier League campaign with a top ten finish still well in sight. Next up, Monday evening’s trip to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. With it, a chance to avenge their second half ‘smash and grab’ at Lionel Road in January . There will be half an eye on their game at home to Chelsea tonight although whether a full viewing will be allowed in our house after watching both Liverpool and Manchester City in some quite wonderful Champions’ league action remains to be seen. Three nights of football in a row will all depend on a combination of marital goodwill combined with whether Kirsty and Phil are currently loving it or listing it.

Hopefully no repeat of the Soccer AM ‘performance’

Still, if that’s the worst of our problems then sporting life is indeed good. There’s a gap of just three points in the table from Brentford in 12th to Newcastle in 9th. We’ve got a tantalising run-in to try and secure that wonderful finish. Manchester United (a), the visit of Southampton and then a chance of sealing a relegation.

First bite comes with the game at Everton before the season concludes with the visit of Leeds United. Watford’s abject form means it unlikely both can now go down, as earlier predicted by The Last Word super computer, but Everton look like a dead man walking whilst Leeds find their next three games against top four clubs in Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. A haul of nil points is quite feasible from those and then, should the Toffees somehow find the means to reverse their form, there could be some very squeaky bums at Elland Road.

Its all ifs, buts and maybes of course. For me, Clive, the way Brentford have played since the return of David Raya and the arrival of Christian Eriksen / green jacket (delete as applicable) has been nothing short of wonderful. Unbeaten April – including the humping of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – culminated in holding Tottenham on Saturday night. It was a game that I am sure, had he been watching, Dean Smith would have called Brentford as deserving to win. We didn’t, but the performance in adding another point to our haul was about as good as it gets. Up there with those wonderful moments against Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham and Chelsea.

Chelsea away the highlight of a wonderful April

Indeed, but for the punishment inflicted by covid and injury around Christmas, who knows what might have been this season?  The manner of that last minute call off from Manchester United  – a few days after their own sub-Everton performance at Norwich City – one which still sticks in the craw even now. Even if it did save us a goalkeeping conundrum having to be solved. 

It certainly has felt like a campaign which has started and finished at 100mph after getting bogged down in the middle. The squad being used to the maximum and no panic buying. Those predicting doom and gloom when nobody came in have now been left with copious amounts of egg on face.

Nobody, that is, barring Christian Eriksen. A player for whom there aren’t sufficient words to describe how wonderful he has been. The primary focus being his own return to playing with the obvious benefit being what he has then got on to do for Brentford. Should Phil Gules, Matthew Benham et al persuade Christian his future lies with Brentford then who knows what next season might bring. Moreso if David Raya can borrow a pen from Pontus.

David has been key to our recent form

For now let’s focus on a top ten finish. Realistically, we’re looking at 10 points from 12, minimum, starting Monday. Only a fool would write off Manchester United, of course. Their form has been woeful – even Everton beat them the other week in what was one of the most dreadful games of football I’ve ever had the misfortune to witness. There is no comment needed on the toxic atmosphere pervading from all angles of Old Trafford. They limped past doomed Norwich City and shot themselves in the foot at every opportunity against Arsenal on Saturday. 

Can they use tonight’s game with Chelsea to salvage a last gasp stab at reaching the Champions’ League? Time is running out, that’s for sure. They’re six points, and inferior goal difference behind Arsenal with four to play. By the time Brentford visit, dreams of feasting at Europe’s top table could be all over.

All being well, the remote can be controlled for a third night in a row. It has been a cracking week of football for the neutral observer and tonight promises to be no different. Moreso given Brentford fans have a very vested interest in how things play out at Old Trafford.

Until then, the Tottenham player review (where the battle for our season long star man is going to the wire), is up here. Enjoy.

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

Imagine no more. Could we be one decision away from the greatest thing ever?

22 Jan

Brentford host Wolverhampton Wanderers this Saturday afternoon. The fallout from the Manchester United game has been done, dusted and (along with the player / team performance summary) written about here. We’ve, likewise, looked forward to the visit from Wolves in yesterday’s column. To be quite honest, the plan had been for a lie in this morning before freezing my bits off in Gunnersbury Park whilst H spends 90 minutes at the weekly Community Sports Trust football training for years 3-6. That was the plan. But something has been niggling. Something kit related. Something utter, utter genius. Something to better even the brown and orange. Yeah. I hear you. Me too. “How is that even possible?” being the universal reaction to such a crazy statement.  

Choc & Orange – much missed

We’ve written about the good people behind @BeesShirts on Twitter before. Their ongoing homage to the history of red and white stripes along with just about anything else we’ve ever worn before. For a shirt nerd like yours truly – who, to be honest, is only a whisker away from Kitman Bob issuing the restraining order once Luis Adriano is finished with it – this is a mandatory inclusion in the social media ‘Follow 400’ max. Honestly, you don’t need any more. It’s just noise and clutter. A therapeutic clear out every now and again to avoid tipping over the magic mark is truly refreshing.

You can thank Twitter guru Richie Firth for that one. Although, I note with dismay he has let his own standards slip and is now up to a terrifying 469. Albeit, the visit to his own page to see that current tally revealed a spot on analysis of Jamie Carragher’s sartorial stylings from last night’s coverage of Watford – Norwich.

As ever, we digress. In short – don’t follow more than 400. Do follow @Beesshirts. And if you took the later advice chances are you’d have seen the greatest concept design for Brentford shirt ever. Imagine running out against Manchester United in what they’ve come up with? Well you don’t even need to imagine, if you can make it to the end of this page.

What a concept. What a look. A design based upon that classic London Transport seat material. Bringing the ‘Bus Stop in Hounslow ‘ to life. Reinventing the much loved choc /orange for an unexpected comeback. If nothing else, imagine the global shirt sales form Trainspotters. From travel enthusiasts. As a revenue generator alone, a tie up with LT could see the coffers swelling.

If THIS were to happen…….

But this is not really about money. This is about looking cool. Looking stylish. Being the trailblazers we so often are. About making Brentford stand out. About being different. About embracing what we have become so intrinsically associated with.

The aforementioned restraining order moved a step closer last night when Kitman Bob was asked for his thoughts on this. Clearly, we’ve stumbled across Matthew Benham’s latest masterplan. What other reason can you give for a reaction of “Hell no !!!!!”. Something I can only think is a coded message to keep quiet and not let the cat out of the bag.

Well, some things do need to be shouted about from the roof tops. Just imagine running out in this. Imagine the envious looks on Cristiano Ronaldo’s eyes if the Manchester United stropmonger had sulked off past players wearing this. Imagine owning something truly unique.

Imagine no more….

Bob, over to you.

What a concept

Nick Bruzon

When was the last time this happened? Who will start on Saturday?

21 Jan

League football at 3pm on a Saturday for Brentford returns for the first time in over two months with the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers this weekend (for no points, can you remember who our previous fixture at this time was without checking ? answer at the bottom). The bravery of Wednesday night and Manchester United has been done, dusted and filed away in the Dean Smith ‘deserved to win’ dustbin. Despite our wonderful performance – and for the record I still stand by the belief from yesterday’s column that Man U most definitely rode their luck in that opening period – in the end the difference between the two sides turned out to be nothing more than finishing. For all our chances, it was the Red Devils who were clinical when the moment arose. Devastatingly quick. Unlike their post goal scoring celebrations where the only thing slower than their walk back for the restart was their number 7 ambling off in a strop after being substituted. 

In your own time

What a terrible example to set by the Manchester United megastar for any young children who may have been watching etc etc etc. For the rest of us, every cliche and preconception about the world famous winker summed up in that moment. And also this one which has been doing the rounds on Twitter.  

For Brentford, we can mull on it or move on to Wolves. Thomas Frank has always been one to celebrate or reflect for 24 hours then focus on looking forward to the next game. For me, Clive, that’s the right approach but equally this is a game which could be blistering if we can continue the momentum. If we can pick up where we left off against Manchester United. Creative. Attacking. Taking the game to our opponents rather than sitting on the back foot and waiting for them to bring it to us. If the crowd and players continue that symbiotic relationship of feeding of each other. 

Who would you pick though? Centre back and midfield are the two areas where we finally seem to have interchangeable options. Should Matthias Jansen retain his place after a showing which saw him score highly in the player review feature but, sadly, not on pitch. Indeed, is it unfair on expecting him to get the goals when we play an all round team system and took until the 85th minute to get ours? Let’s not forget, either, being up against a World Class ‘keeper in David De Gea.

Its a really easy trap to fall into and go all ‘Ian Moose’. Who could forget his shameful attempts at self-publicity after Neal Maupay missed what the ego-driven broadcaster considered to be a chance so simple he’d have snaffled it up as easily as the prematch catering (is his banging on about that a thing, still?). Note to self: don’t forget to wish my good friend a happy birthday on February 7th (seventh).

But we digress. I thought Matthias had a wonderful game. I thought he should have scored. But also so could several others. Personally speaking, I’d start him again based on his performance alone. For all I rate Shandon Baptiste, and I do, I’m sure Matthias will be itching to get back out there and start this one at 100 mph. Like the rest of the Brentford team, looking to continue on from where we left off. 

Whomever, starts competition could really crank up soon. Aside from the Christian Eriksen rumours still kicking around,  Thomas Frank gave the latest assessment on Josh Dasilva in the Wolves press conference, saying “Kristoffer Ajer trained with him today and just said ‘what a player’. There is a very good player who hopefully we will see playing for us. I think it’s still four weeks away from him being involved in the squad, if we build him well. That could potentially be a tiny bit quicker, but it definitely also be longer”.    

In defence, I thought Mads Bech looked assured. Ethan too and perhaps he can consider himself unlucky to miss out on the top five this time around. With Pontus Jansson the club captain, does Kris Ajer continue on the sidelines? Is he fit to go? Who misses out if so? Indeed, do we persist with the three CB and double wing back combo that has been used so far this season? I’d love to see a try out for the more traditional set up that gave Ivan so much service before but that’s just me. 

Much as we love Sergi Canos in our house, if Rico Henry is fit then he’ll go straight in. He was immense at Liverpool and continues to provide attacking threat. Coming off the bench for the Man U game, I am sure he’ll start on Saturday. Certainly, Thomas has confirmed that everyone who was available for the last game remains in the same position this time around. 

Decisions, decisions, decisions. One things for sure, getting back to winning ways will be very welcome. Starting to get a few more points on the board can only be good. There are no rewards given for ‘close but no cigar’. No points earned for topping the ‘deserved to win table’. Next up in the Prem is that trip to Manchester City. About as tough as it gets for anyone !

As for Wolves, Thomas used that conference to pay tribute to Bruno Mars and his squad. “I think Conor Coady is a key for their defense. When you play with a back three/back five like we do, it is very difficult to break down. They are a group of players who know each other well and who want to run and fight for each other which means a lot.”

The Wolves – Bees picture has been in use since 2014

Joy. One can only hope that Spurs interest in Adam Traore (a £15m bid was rejected yesterday) could have some sort of unsettling effect. The eight placed team (Wolves, not Tottenham) are on a hot streak at present and racking up the points with ease. They’ll be as confident and optimistic of continuing that run as we will be of getting back to winning ways.

Can we do it? There’s only one place to find out. Lionel Road. On Saturday. At 3pm (not a typo) See you there…

And that last Saturday game? Newcastle United away. The 3-3 at St. James Park on November 20th.

Until then, if you’d like to read more… then here’s that post-match player review from Manchester United and the 1-3.

Nick Bruzon

Who shone against Manchester United? Who should be picked for Wolves?

20 Jan

A 3-1 reverse for Brentford at home to Manchester United only tells one part of a evening in which the Bees did everything but score, visiting number 7(seven) Cristiano Ronaldo had a quite spectacular hissy fit and Bees fans were left genuinely frustrated not to have beaten the ‘biggest club in the world'(TM). As ever at this point, it’s time to look at who the best pf the Bees’ players were. Who is a nailed on start for the game with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday ? Has anyone broken into the season long top 5? Do you agree with the selections where there’s a few whose inclusion may cause some surprise? Have Matthias Jensen, Sergi Canos and Mads Bech (all of whom made the starting XI this time around ) done enough to hang on to their places for Wolves at the weekend?

The post match player review can be found here. Plus a few more thoughts on the overall Brentford performance. Sure, Manchester United won (no denying that) but, much like sitting through an episode of My Family, there was nothing particularly comfortable about it.

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Jamchester United. Bees miss out after storming performance.

20 Jan

What can you say? Brentford went down 3-1 at home to Manchester United in the proverbial game of two halves. The first seeing us utterly dominant. United, apparently the ‘biggest club in world football’ made to look like a bunch of Sunday league part-timers. The only one to emerge with any credit being David De Gea in nets who twice denied Matthias Jensen when it seemed odds on the Danish midfielder would score. The fans were on their feet in anticipation of him burying one of them but, yet again, Thomas Frank must be left wondering whose black cat he has run over. Like Chelsea, a blood and thunder performance saw us thwarted by a ‘keeper at the very top of his game. Christian Norgaard also with the best of the chances in an opening period that saw 6 decent efforts and the memory of our blank at Liverpool nothing more than that. A memory. This was a team reacting at the top of their game. A team breathing in the atmosphere at Lionel Road and then using it to super charge our drive forward.

Bryan was on fire. Matthias too, to be fair. The frustration of inconsistency rearing its head when the ball was lost or the chances spurned. The brilliance of him at his best coming through in patches. Perhaps that’s what the prospect of Josh Dasilva and Christian Eriksen breathing down your neck does. United left looking tattered and one of the worst teams to visit Lionel Road this season. We were that good. They were that bad. De Gea aside. The visitors not even testing Jonas Lössl who had replaced Alvaro Fernandez in goal.

Then , the second half happened. A sloppy first goal conceded with Lössl unsure whether to stick or twist as the ball was played forward and ended up doing neither. A despairing stretch was powerless to stop Elanga heading home. Ronaldo chesting it forward for Fernandes to give his only meaningful contribution of the evening in the build-up to the second. The ball then played through to Mason Greenwood who, despite a suspicion of offside, made no mistake. Marcus Rashford made it three late on.

The goals all well, well taken and the consummate lesson that chances can’t continue to be spurned. United weren’t even close in this game but rode their luck to the max. All we had to show for it was Ivan Toney’s late, late consolation goal. A long throw working for the second time this season. Brentford throwing everything and anything from the kitchen sink to Stephen Pressley’s socks at the United goal but nothing more followed.  

Look positive. This was Manchester Untied we were up against. It was miles improved on Liverpool. We didn’t concede form a corner either. Mads Bech coming in for Kris Ajer looked strong. Ivan is back on the score sheet whilst who didn’t enjoy the sight of Ronaldo’s hissy fit. Trudging off in what the BBC described afterwards as “a ridiculous show of petulance with a slow stroll off, some very obvious muttering and a burst of anger on the bench after he was substituted with 20 minutes left”?

In your own time, Cristiano

A case of ‘And this isn’t Ronaldo territory?’ Frankly, a two headed tortoise would have been quicker leaving the field. The chants of “winker, winker, winker” being directed towards the player showing that he hadn’t been forgiven for his World Cup shenanigans back in 2006. At least, I thank that’s what was being chanted.

Thomas would talk afterwards about how we absolutely destroyed them in the opening period. How he was hugely disappointed not to grab the win against a top team. All true. All true. Feelings felt by the majority of a fanbase who absolutely ripped the roof off Lionel Road. Kudos too, for the West stand breaking in to a chorus of: “Live round the corner. You only live round the corner.

The deeper dive player review is now up and can be found here. Otherwise, it’s a case of waking up and wondering how we came away empty handed. Of being taught a lesson that opportunities need to be grabbed when they come along. Something Manchester United are still masters at and which they demonstrated three times last night.

So head held high and all that but, at the end of the day Clive, a blank on the points tally. That’s football. All we can do now is bottle if for Wolves and, err, go again.

See you there  

Nick Bruzon