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

19 Aug

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

Fixed it for you, official

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More of this would be amazing

Nick Bruzon. 

Footballing gods serve up a chance for instant payback on Saturday. How will it go?

12 Aug

Saturday evening is almost here. Brentford host Manchester United in our first home game of the season. A game going out live across the world on TV. A game that sees us with a superb opportunity to carry on where we left off at Leicester City. A squad further boosted by the wonderful double news of Mikkel Damsgaard signing and then being revealed wearing our new third shirt. Our opponents, meanwhile, still smarting from their own opening day home humbling at the hands of Brighton and Hove Albion – (C) The Middlesex Chronicle Big Book of 80s alliterative headlines / Jim Levack. All the focus should be on the wonderful occasion it is sure to be. Yet, the footballing gods being what they are, the game has served up a further twist in the interminable tale that is the Christian Eriksen transfer saga. That, of course, being our first game back at Lionel Road will see him turning out once more – albeit this time in Puke green (if you believe the photos of United’s new ‘third’ shirt) rather than red and white. So let’s get that out the way and then move on. Hopefully forever.   

 

Damsgaard – new player ; new shirt

Nobody could deny the excitement in the air last season as the stories started to build that we may be making what was seen (then) as an audacious bid to help Christian pick up his career after that thing at the Euros. The thought of attracting a World Class player to Brentford just about as impossible as things get but that’s what we always do – make the impossible possible.

It was more tantalising a prospect given that, at the time, we were definitely in a form dip. The injury to David Raya along with fixture congestion and covid cases meant the early season juggernaut had very much hit the buffers. Norwich City. Burnley. Southampton. Brighton. Just some of the names that spring to mind. Then Christian came in, got his fitness back and his introduction to the starting XI coincided with our return to winning ways. Chelsea. West Ham. Watford. Burnley. Just some of the names that spring to mind. Ironically, the one real poor performance being the one against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Very much a ‘no show’ when our hosts were there for the taking.

Happy days at Chelsea

Anyway, long story short the narrative built up in the media is that Eriksen saved Brentford’s season. And to that I say bollocks. There’s no doubt he gave us a HUGE boost. That he was quite wonderful for the Bees. That a starting XI with him in it would always have been the selection of choice. He was amazing. He was a breath of fresh air. He was skill on a stick with that calmness and passing range one could only aspire to.  Yet he wasn’t the only factor.

From where I was sitting, it was undoubtedly the return of David Raya that was THE single key factor which – if you had to name one thing that ‘saved our season’ – we should be looking at. Suddenly, our opponents discovered that goal scoring was an aspiration rather than a gimme (Oh, that third against Liverpool is still the stuff of nightmares). Suddenly the defence were calm again. Were confident. Suddenly the distribution had returned. Rather than sitting on the back foot we had the ability to build attacks from our own 18 yard box.

I’d also cite Wissa finding his feet. The performances of Rico Henry and Christian Norgaard. Ivan Toney scoring for fun once more. Vitaly Janelt. Yes, Eriksen inspired and helped but the players had it already. The players had showed early doors we weren’t just here to make up the numbers. Hey, even the green jacket had a role to play. Don’t knock it – I bet there’ll be more than a few of us pulling on the magic pants on Saturday morning

just some of the factors that put a late spring in our step

All of us which then brings us to the weekend and Manchester United. There’s been a lot of talk about how we ‘greet’ Christian. Polite applause on warm up and then boo the hell out of him seems to be the popular consensus on social media. I make no pretence that I’m still hurting massively. Not so much that he left for Old Trafford  – his decision to go for money and carnage is a personal one and that’s an individual’s choice. Few of us could resist the sort of figures being talked up in the press so let’s not pretend otherwise. 

More, it was the manner in which it all played out. We’d taken a chance. We’d formed what seemed, at face value, a beautiful relationship. Christian was king of the castle. The fans loved him. The players fed off him. He got back to winning ways. There was the obvious Danish connection. Then, what was always only a six month contract expired. Again, we knew this was going to happen. It was made clear from the off. Yet seeing how things had played out – so beautifully for both parties – there was a genuine belief amongst the fans that his signing on the dotted line would be a formality. Instead, there was nothing. Nothing.

Days turned to weeks. The list of potential suitors moving from the obvious – Spurs (the history)  and Newcastle (and their dumper truck full of money )  – to the ridiculous – Everton and Leicester City. All along, Brentford still being mentioned in tandem until the bookies dropped us like a stone.  Manchester United entered the mix but still nothing. No news. No updates. No decision. Like playing poker with a brick wall – nobody could read anything. The Bees back in the race all of a sudden as Spurs were deemed persona non grata. It was down to the two of us until, eventually, the stories started to leak that he had signed. Albeit nothing official. Nothing out of Old Trafford for another two weeks until, eventually, the news we’d all feared was confirmed. 

Good luck to him. At least we can all move on. And in the signing of Mikkel Damsgaard we certainly can. The man that replaced him in the Euros now replacing him at Lionel Road. Yet the manner it all played out in still feels raw. As we’ve said before, like Jota joining Birmingham City. We love our heroes. Worship them. We know they move on. That’s life. That’s football. Yet to remain tight lipped for so long. To then not even say farewell, beyond some crappy Instagram post that may aswell not even have bothered getting out of bed, it had already overslept for so long. To read all that talk about wanting Champions League football. Hmm.

So yes, my heart IS broken. It shouldn’t be but I’m a football fan. I’m emotional. He didn’t ‘save us’ but he was amazing. I’ll never forget Chelsea and Watford away. Or Norwich away. Or Burnley home. Any of them. Good, good times ad the smile will return in time. For now, though, I still feel like we’ve been dumped for the attractive girl who we can all see is a bit of a nightmare. And it hurts.

its over

I won’t be booing Christian. I’ll be booing all of them. If he plays / comes on then so be it. I can’t stand any of that self-entitled nonsense that goes with anything Old Trafford related. All that Fergie gumph. All that belief amongst their fans that they’ve a divine right to be competing at the very top because they used to be any good. The instant sacking of head coaches. Cripes, I thought we gave our manager a ridiculously hard time but that’s nothing compared to some of the crap you read. The worshipping of the man-boy Ronaldo.

Ah, who could forget his hissy fit at Lionel Raod last season? He didn’t even make the starting XI against Brighton. The complete antithesis of a team player. He may get the goals but the disruption to broader team play that trying to channel it through him does is clear for all. Not that it helped dropping him on Sunday. 

If anything , this, rather than Eriksen will provide the real sideshow on Saturday.

strop, strop, stop

Brentford will never have a better chance to beat Manchester United than on Saturday. Our confidence is high. We have new kits and that wonderful, wonderful new signing in Damsgaard. Our opponents seem to be in disarray. Lionel Road will be rocking. The first home game is always loud – just ask Arsenal – but I’ve got a feeling this one will be ten, times better. More than a few people – and players – with points to prove.

I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there.

Until then, here’s the recap from Sunday and the performance at Leicester City…

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   

Christian Eriksen. The dream is over.

5 Jul

Oh. Christian Eriksen. He plays for Manchester United. They’re f’ing shite. Or however it is the song will now go. Brentford fans were last night left reeling from the news we’d all suspected but had hoped against hope wouldn’t be confirmed. Now, it would seem, the die is cast with even the BBC reporting the player has agreed a deal at Old Trafford. To be fair, whomever he had joined would have been seen as a slap in the face or a crazy move. Everton. Newcastle. Leicester City all amongst the other clubs being talked up. Now, rather than Brentford, the decision is Salford.  

Never again 😦

There’s been a lot of frustration out there last night. Others, with the ‘enjoy what we had ; it was only ever short term’ mentality.

I can sympathise with both view points but, personally speaking, right now it feels like a punch to the gut. Joining a club in complete disarray in return for a wheelbarrow load full of cash and the chance of Europa League football. Manchester United – a club whose fans will bang on about being one of the biggest in the world but who, realistically, have not been able to compete even domestically for years. Whose desperate chuck of the dice at Cristiano Ronaldo is now imploding in dramatic style. Whose defence is shot to pieces and attacking options about as potent as a toothless lion. For whom throwing money at the problem – see also: Pogba, has hardly been a recipe for success in recent seasons.

Good luck to both of them. Brentford enjoyed the very best Christian had to offer once his fitness had returned. The Brentford that guided him back into the game and took a chance on a player whom, well, we all know what had happened. The Brentford that gave him a surrogate Danish family and the chance to play alongside his international team mates going in to this winter’s World Cup. Who were ideally placed for the London lifestyle his nearest and dearest had, apparently, been so comfortable in.

Instead, as with everything in life, money talks. Certainly, if you believe what you read about signing on fees and a salary what will be, at the least, three times what we were able / prepared (delete as applicable) to offer. No doubt we’ll hear talk about the stature of Manchester United and the chance to return them to former glories. Perhaps he will achieve that. Perhaps the lure was the chance of reigniting a former giant. A club where reminders of Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy still hang from every available space like some footballing albatross around the neck. Good luck to him. Genuinely.    

We had some good times together. Some amazing times. Chelsea and Watford away in particular but, to be fair, every time he started we upped our game. He hit our own top five pretty much every time he played. Christian didn’t ‘save us from relegation’ but he did help get us going again.

Let’s not forget how well we were placed and how strong we were doing before David Raya got crocked against Leicester City.  As Kitman Bob said in his own insider’s perspective last time out on these pages: “ At the point we hit a sticky patch the mood at the training ground never changed from that first game. Staff and players knew we had a plan and there was never any panic or worry amongst us. The signing of Christian Eriksen, I cannot lie, gave the whole place an even bigger boost but on the same level was seeing the return of David Raya.”

I’m just a naive fool. A footballing romantic. Despite the talk of money and the chance to play in Europe (albeit the Champions League is a long, long way off right now), I honestly thought we’d be seeing him again. 100% convinced. Instead, I’m left with that same numb feeling as when Jota left for Birmingham City. A talisman departing for a godawful club. That awful emptiness. Them, of all places. 

This is how it feels right now

Things will be good again. They always are. Aaron Hickey and Keane Lewis-Potter are seemingly coming in. Josh Dasilva is back. Ethan Pinnock is fit. David Raya showed just how much he does for us whilst Christian Norgaard was a goat. Or whatever it is the kids say.  

Plus, as importantly, we’ll never have to sing that chant again. Sorry but like Oldham’s song, I’ve always struggled with it. That’s the polite phrase.

Fate, as ever, has administered a further blow to the unmentionables with Brentford’s first home game seeing a visit from Manchester United. One can only expect that will now be moved from a Saturday 3pm kick off to accommodate TV coverage and the inevitable media circus. Joy.

The positivity of what Christian brought to Lionel Road will never be forgotten.  I’m just struggling to feel it this morning.

Nice try, Bjorn… Not even the Scandinavian hard sell worked

Nick Bruzon  

Kitman Bob’s season exclusive and new shirt clues…..

30 Jun

Christian Eriksen this. Manchester United that. It seems that there’s only one subject on everyone’s lips at the moment. Got to love the close (closed?) season. Until such time as Brentford official release a photo of our man brandishing the Pontus Jansson ceremonial biro then supporters can’t be blamed for fearing the worst whilst still hoping for the best. It’s Brentford, innnit?

So we need distraction. Something other than transfer speculation or wondering which team the Great Dane will be lining up for when The Bees host United in the first home game of the campaign. Fortunately (your definition may vary, given the normal standard of content on these pages) we have it. An exclusive from inside the club. From the legend that is Kitman Bob who has taken the time out whilst on his own summer hols to share his thoughts on the season just gone. On everything from pre-season to our 2022/23 shirt (it’s coming, folks…..).

The legend that is Bob Oteng

Sure. You could sweat over Manchester United.

You could carry on panicking over our apparent lack of summer signings….. 😉

One might even dream that we’ve copied Partick Thistle in their, alleged, kit design for 2022/23. No idea if this leaked image is true but, if so, it’s up their with our own Jaffa cake as one of the best shirts ever….. 

Could we copy Partick Thistle? Is this real? Imagine Buzzette, front and centre…..

All the angst in the world won’t change what may or may not happen between now and the season proper starting at Leicester City on Saturday 6th August. Sorry, Sunday 7th. Forgot about the carnival. Again.

So, instead, sit back and let Kitman Bob do the heavy lifting.

Here’s 2021/22 in his own words……

It’s the Bees’ first season in the Premier League and I don’t know if me or the players are the most excited. Having worked in the Premier League before, this coming season definitely feels different. Everything and everyone around me is different. There’s a different feel and atmosphere around Jersey Road. We were all feeling very exhilarated and we were all seeming to be more introspective so we could  ensure we did what was needed to help each and everyone be successful in the coming months.

Giant murals of the season gone and that day in May… A few new members of staff have joined. Luke my new assistant and Josh to help myself and Jo look after the whole team. ( i couldn’t have survived without those three people).

Having worked at a club previously that had been promoted via the play offs, the following season was one of despair. As records go it’s very rare for a team promoted via the play-offs to maintain their PL status.   BUT we are Brentford and WE do things differently…..

Pre-season is a blur. Normally for me pre-season is a drag. Training game after training game but for the first time in many years I’m looking forward to every game and every training session. To watching the new players. 

It just seems so surreal when the fixtures are announced and you see Brentford versus Arsenal. I scroll down to see when we play Liverpool, Man City and especially where we are on Boxing Day.  Then I try and calculate how many points we will have by the first international break [I’m sure we’ve all done it]. Glad to say I was so far off the mark I stopped doing it after the first international break. 

The afternoon of the first game I look round the dressing room. Admire shirts with the lion on the sleeve gave me a sense of pride and emotion of my time at Brentford and my first game Walsall away in the cup. 

The season opener against Arsenal will be remembered not only by Bees’ fans but many around the world. Post covid, post face masks, its Friday night under the lights and what a night it was. I really didn’t know what to expect, the whole stadium came alive, it was impossible to keep calm with what I was witnessing. I felt that what ever happened this season that night was truly a significant and memorable night for all.

Thomas mirrors what we all felt after that 2-0 defeat of Arsenal

The training ground on the Monday morning had such a great feel vibe but everybody knew it was just the beginning. That we had to keep on working. The players and the coaches seemed more focused than ever. I was enjoying the fact that I didn’t have a game to prepare for in 72 hours and I had a whole six days of preparation.

Four games into the season and we are doing ok. The games seem to be so different with huge atmospheres and stadiums. The Bees away fans seemed to be louder regardless of what the score is and seem to be always out singing the home fans.  (I could even hear them at Newcastle). Now when we win at home the ritual of freed from desire is becoming my new favourite. 

At the point we hit a sticky patch the mood at the training ground never changed from that first game. Staff and players knew we had a plan and there was never any panic or worry amongst us. The signing of Christian Eriksen, I cannot lie, gave the whole place an even bigger boost but on the same level was seeing the return of David Raya.

Christian at the Brentford Training Ground

Watching the games now is the same as early the part of the season. The boys looking comfortable and not out of place. Notably at Chelsea away.  The score put the gloss on the day.

The most significant memory is of how Thomas before and after the game made it feel that this will be the new norm. There was no over the top celebrations – players back to recovering and doing what’s right ready for the next game. 

As we proceeded throughout the remainder of the season so many enjoyable and memorable events on the pitch and off the pitch. Everton away was probably the best atmosphere I have ever encountered. In the portacabin in the car park we could hear the singing and the bees fans. As  we followed the team out the noise was gladiatorial, a sense of a true battle ahead.( It reminded me of certain nights at GP).

Burnley at home was magic, an invisible veil of clam and relax came over everyone. As if to say we will be back to do this all over again !!

What an inaugural season for the Bees.

Chelsea away one of many highlights for Bob

There are lots of changes off the pitch to come.  For me, I’m now looking forward to the release of the new away and 3rd kits and the TWITTER banter to follow. May drop a few hints (kit enthusiast beware there could be a Marmite on the horizon, hopefully soon).

This BUS STOP is different, many outside will say it’s a fairy tale season etc. Fairy tales are dreams. We don’t go to bed knowing what we will dream that night!!

This fairy tale is one that has been scripted( AND STILL IS).  Some would say it just doesn’t happen when you’re part of that script and living it like we all have. 

You know THAT WE ARE BRENTFORD AND WE DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY!!!   SWEET DREAMS ALL..

There’s a new change shirt coming – don’t say you haven’t been warned……

Christian Eriksen. Is this the biggest clue yet in transfer saga ?

23 Jun

Oh, Christian Eriksen. He plays for Brentford. In red and white.. etc etc etc. How such an incredible player has been bequeathed such a tongue twister of a song is a mystery up there with the pyramids or Stonehenge. Perhaps the only thing more confusing being the Denmark International’s destination next season. The Bees? Tottenham? Manchester United? Newcastle United have also been mentioned along with the likes of Leicester City (although presumably, if that were somehow to happen, they’d suddenly remember there’s a carnival going on and so any unveiling would have to be delayed).

Nobody needs a lecture on how staggeringly good Christian was for Brentford last season. On how he slotted back into football as though he had never been away following that temporary interruption to his career at Euro 2020. The precision delivery. The 6th sense allowing him to play the ball into space yet still meet an onrushing colleague. The goals. Oh, the goals. Just a mention of Chelsea bringing a smile to the face. His ball across for Pontus at Watford was precision delivery that not even Postman Pat could hope to muster up.

Despite the heroics and good times, we all knew that it was a temporary affair. A six month contract having been signed back in January and one that has now expired, leaving him homeless. The clamour for Eriksen’s signature one of the most talked about moves of the summer.

Norbee Bjorn does his best to persuade Christian where the future lies…

There are so many reasons why sticking with Brentford makes sense. Guaranteed football. A wonderful environment at a club located in a great city. The chance to shape destiny. The Danish connection. Moreso, with Denmark having qualified for the World Cup this winter. Loyalty, even. We took, at the time, what was considered by many outsiders to be a risk. Didn’t that work out well ?

The flip side, of course, being that the lure of Champions league football (Tottenham) and a bucketload of cash (everyone) would be hard for anybody to resist.

The bookies had Brentford as favourites to re-sign him a few weeks ago. Then the Tottenham connection grew. Manchester United, Leicester City and Newcastle were also linked. Nobody knew how much was rumour and how much was fact. Whatever you read there was nothing concrete. Just clickbait.

Then, suddenly, the Bees were out of the running. You couldn’t bet on Brentford, even if you wanted to. At least, with my online bookmaker (who, of course, is used purely for research purposes).

This morning, in the daily trawl for any clue whatsoever, a diamond emerged from the rough. We’re back in the running. Brentford are available to bet on.

With – if you believe what you read – interest in his joining Manchester United and Spurs seemingly on the way out, staying at Lionel Road would seem to be an option. The bookies are rarely wrong and I’d take their insight over any conjecture or Twitter ‘expert’.

There we go. 7-2. Third favourite, with United and Spurs both drifting out compared to yesterday. Brentford back in the running after dropping off the shortlist for the last few weeks. Is this a sign? Wishful thinking? Blind optimism? Or the biggest indication yet that this global superstar could be plying his trade in red and white once more?

Here’s hoping. I was fortunate enough to meet the great man towards the end of last season and, like all connected with our squad, he was nothing but the most personable to approach – even if it was a case of losing any semblance of cool or reserve that one might have hoped to retain. There are some players where the only reaction possible is to regress 40 years in an instant and go from ‘grown up’ to wide-eyed, giggling school kid.

That’s the presence and stature of the man, though. Fingers crossed we get to experience it all again next season….

A meeting of two greats – Christian and THE green jacket

Nick Bruzon

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