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Who will win the Championship? Who will go down? What about the Bees? Who has the best new kit?

3 Aug

Almost there, Brentford fans. It’s Thursday morning. The Championship kicks off tomorrow evening before The Bees travel to Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon. But with three top ten finishes under our belts, is it now the time to look at stepping up? Or should we remain content just to swim in the same waters as Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves and all those other famous names? To stay safe. To look at holding station until such time as Lionel Road is ready for us to move in to?

Yesterday’s column on Jota and not ‘Jota’ ended with several questions of this nature. The predominant one being, what are your hopes for the forthcoming season? Well for what it’s worth, here’s my take on how the Championship is going to pan out.

Starting with Brentford, the summer has been an exciting one. On the transfer front it has been one way traffic inward with, to date, nobody leaving bar The Hoff. Even KK and Jack Bonham have only gone out on loan. There has been no Jota to West Ham. No Ryan Woods to Sunderland. No Harlee Dean to Sheffield Wednesday. No Rico Henry to Hull City. No Romanine Sawyers to Southend United (and apologies – but that one really did appear) . So far…

Instead we have bought what would seem to be incredibly astutely. The EFL young player of the year in Ollie Watkins and South African international Kamo Mokotjo are the two names immediately grabbing our attention. The former because of the potential and our beating off a host of other clubs to his signature. These include a Nottingham Forest side who let Britt Assombalonga go to Middlesbrough and are now relying on veteran striker Daryl Murphy. Prolific in his day although never forget ‘that’ miss.

Murphy miss FLS Ipswich

And Murphy must score. Erm….

Kamo is getting Bees fans excited simply due to the fact of how skillful and how comfortable he already looks. Translating pre-season into real life form will be another thing, but the early signs are wonderfully positive. We seem to have genuine competition in pretty much every position. Just the amount of different stories that have appeared about our players over the summer show how strong our squad has become.

Of course, let’s not rest on our laurels here. The season may begin this weekend but that godforsaken transfer window still remains open until August 31. As we’ve seen in the past, players can come and go well after the campaign has begun. Andre Gray being a most recent example where, despite his two goals in two games at the beginning of the Marinus era, the inevitable sale to Burnley went through straight after.

Yet, at the same time, the current signs are positive. Fingers crossed it can stay that way. If Matthew Benham can juggle the finances to keep this squad together then we have the potential to be amongst the best in the league.

Little Brentford punching above their weight”. Not my words but those of just about every pundit outside of TW8 in recent times.

B*llocks” . They’re my words.

The last three years we’ve done what we have on merit. Reaching the play-offs for the Premier League in our first Championship season may have caught a few people unawares but it was fully deserved on our play. Coming out the other side of the Marinus experiment to end ninth, equally justified – despite that post Christmas wobble.

But for a ropey patch in the autumn last time around we could well have pushed on then. The football in the second half of the season, freed from the understandable obligation to play everything through Scott Hogan and reinvigorated by the returning Spanish duo of Jota and Sergi, was simply breathtaking.

We destroyed Aston Villa at Griffin Park. Absolutely destroyed them. You could say the same for the home games with Derby County. With Leeds United. With QPR, for whom Jake Bidwell probably has ongoing nightmares. Police still involved in that one (not literally), after reports of Jota picking his pocket more than once.

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‘Official’ love him, too

I don’t buy any of this small club nonsense. I fully know our history and have been coming to Griffin Park since 1979. Absolutely, it is a privilege to play at the level given some of the low points we’ve been through. But that doesn’t mean we should be showing any defference, any OTT respect, any form of “we’re just happy to be here’ humility. Just as nobody has a divine right to ‘be any good’ (see: Arsenal), equally just because you have humble origins you shouldn’t go into it expecting bad things to happen. Have some confidence in our ability. Our perceived size is an advantage. It is an advantage we should play up to.

We’ve taken so many teams and pundits by surprise already. I’m convinced it will happen again. My call for the Bees was initially 6th at the start of the summer. In recent weeks I’ve revised that to fifth. I’m sticking to that and nailing my colours to the mast here. Brentford to finish fifth.

Optimistic? Stupid? Naive? Whichever – I’m here to have fun this season and am only looking upwards.

Casting the net further afield, it is not a view shared by other sources. Middlesbrough and Aston Villa remain favourites to win the league. The former, I can fully understand. They’ve only ever been a force at this level (move along, nothing to see here….) whilst boosted by both the goals of Assombalonga and the parachute payments from the Premier League will be exceptionally strong . I’m agreeing with the experts on this one.

Villa though? No. No. No. I can’t see them finishing in the top six. The were horrific last season. Only good for betting on 1-1 scorelines, <2.5 goals and away L. The hype around John Terry surely more distraction than yardstick of genuine aspiration. I find it inconceivable that Steve Bruce will have turned things around this much over the summer. Stranger things have happened, of course, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Instead, Sheffield Wednesday are the team that will finally come good and take the second spot. Celebrating their 150th year with some cracking new kits, to boot (in my opinion, and not including our own, the best shirts in the Championship ) they’ll go up after knocking on the door for so long. Joining Brentford in the play-offs will be Norwich City, Fulham and Leeds United. Pick your order for these three. Much as I’m loathe to admit it, the Cottagers played some wonderful football last season. Their stadium may well be a hotbed of neutrality but, on the field, they showed they can more than do their stuff these days.

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Sheffield Wednesday to play as good as they’ll look?

Bottom three. Millwall, Ipswich Town and QPR for me. The former just too out of their depth whilst the Tractor Boys and not so super hoops have only gone backwards. With no real inward investment and a team that has only stagnated, those days of top flight football are a long, long way away.

Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. What do I know? Not much. I’ll happily hold up my hands when this all gets proven wrong, One man’s opinion is another’s comedy.

Club sponsor LeoVegas has us ranked joint 11th to win the league at 25/1. Do they know something we don’t?

Likewise FourFourTwo magazine have just published their season preview. Available now from all good newsagents, they call Brentford to finish 10th. Don’t let that or the fact that yours truly wrote the piece on The Bees (Klanggggggg; the sound of a name being dropped) put you off, though. It’s actually a great read.

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Season preview edition now available

The other follow up we need to do from yesterday is in regards to Jota. Or, specifically ‘Jota’. Of Wolves. You may recall that the EFL have told Wolves that he needs to have his real surname, Silva, on his shirt rather than what they deem to be his nickname.

All well and good, although my own subsequent thought was what this might mean for us? Should we even be able to hang on to him, of course. An awkward look in the other direction being the immediate reaction.

However,Twitter user Ben (@BenPlumb97) has put the question out there in cyberspace. Thankfully, the legend that is Kitman Bob has stepped up to answer.

And relax 🙂

Bob Tweet re Jota

Nick Bruzon

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Mamma Mia, here we go again. Brentford score big but who are this season’s dark horses?

1 Aug

With the Championship season almost upon us, it would be fair to say that anticipation is rising. Nowhere moreso than at Griffin Park where last night young Brentford fans were given the chance to meet their heroes at the now traditional summer ‘open day’. Sky Sports have launched their own season preview (remember the one Ian Holloway did last time out?) where along with the standard installation of Middlesbrough and Aston Villas as favourites, there’s no surprise for Bees fans. And the EFL have announced a shake up to penalty shoot outs that will have local journalists and bad bloggers in pun heaven.

First up, last night at Griffin Park. What can you say? It never ceases to amaze me just how incredible our players are. I’ve said this before but it needs to be said again. What for them could have been a tedious contractual obligation became a wonderful hour and a half (if not longer) for all those young fans lining up to get a peak behind the scenes and a photo with the stars. Not to mention an autograph or two.

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They were all, without question, wonderful. We got along quite late in the day yet the enthusiasm of the squad was infectious. Whatever Dean Smith and his staff are doing for squad morale is just incredible. What a brilliant group of players who went out of their way to welcome young supporters who might have been bit nervous / awestruck. (and that was just dad, although perhaps not so much of the young).

The entire squad was pretty much all there. Even new dad Maxime Colin, who one could have understandably expected to be on paternity leave. I don’t want to overly single anybody out although big thanks to Harlee, Lewis and Jota for their help with the picture. Hitting peak tiredness, somebody went very shy before composing himself after some enthusiastic words from his heroes.

Would you get this at another Championship team? Would the players be so welcoming? Would the club be so relaxed and open ? Would the club make such a great effort for their fans?  There was nothing corporate about this, it was just beautifully arranged. It was just Brentford. THANK YOU.

HB, Harlee, Lewis, Jota

Sky Sports. We all know what happened this time last season. Pundit Ian Holloway wrote his pre-season review in which he tipped the Bees for a poor season and relegation to League One. The rest is history.

Fast forward twelve months and whilst not the QPR boss with pen in hand, the TV company have published this year’s version. Divided into four categories of : Title contenders, Play-off hopefuls, Dark horses and Potential strugglers it looks at the so-called runners and riders in each category. So where do Brentford fit in?

The answer is a simple one. Nowhere. Not surprisingly they have Middlesbrough as favourites (I’d agree) along with Aston Villa – whom everybody is backing. I’m sorry, but I genuinely don’t get it. They were awful last season. Is a geriatric defender going transform them? Bring on Jota to run at him – Jake Bidwell, round 2.

But that aside, where are The Bees? Quite simply we don’t even warrant a passing mention.

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Whilst I’m tipping us for fifth, I can sympathise with their reticence to perhaps label us play-off contenders. But for a team that have had three top ten finishes over our Championship life (including that play-off with Middlesbrough) and have bought exceptionally over the summer to not even be deemed a ‘dark horse’ is odd.

Then again, if you do want to see Brentford as a dark horse Rod Liddle in The Times has us marked up. Or should that be down? He has us as relegation candidates and scoops this year’s Ian Holloway award.

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Look – I love all this. Three full seasons in and still nobody fancies us. Nobody gives us a hope. We are the stealth bombers of the Championship. Flying very much undetected, under the radar and all the way to the top. Keep on ignoring us – even the TV channels don’t give us a look in over August and September – and that’s just fine by me. If we can say the same to the end of the transfer window then all the better.

Finally, penalty kicks. You may have seen this yesterday but the EFL have announced they are switching the traditional shoot out to the ABBA system for the Carabao Cup, Checkatrade Trophy (should anybody be watching) and play-offs. Effectively, the shoot out will be contested like a tennis tie-break where after the first team starts, teams then get two consecutive kicks each and then continues as such until we have a winner.

The blurb on the EFL site tells us that “The trial of the new system is being backed by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in response to a hypothesis that the player taking the second kick is under greater mental pressure in the current format. Therefore, a different order of kickers will be trialled in an experiment to reduce any apparent advantage the team taking the first kick may have”.

Regular or ABBA. It’s still nerve wracking and exciting in equal measure. Although with the League cup starting next week, this doesn’t give huge amounts of time to prepare. Personally, I’m more interested in the pun potential off the back of this. Which manager will be sending out an SOS? Who will meet his Waterloo? At the end of the day (Clive), the winner takes it all.

Whatever your thoughts on the new system, I can see those headlines being crowbarred in already. Answers on a postcard to the Middlesex Chronicle, marked ‘pun’.

Then again, the only way this could have been bettered is rather than ABBA, the EFL had gone for Diana Ross on the penalty front…..

Nick Bruzon

A new look – in more ways than one. But do you like it?

10 May

Boom. No sooner has the regular season ended than out of nowhere Brentford have launched a new club website whilst our new crest has also began to appear all over cyber space. And, although slightly delayed (this nonsense can’t write itself every day) we now know another opponent for next season as Middlesbrough make a swift return to the Championship following the briefest of sojourns in football’s top flight.

First up, the website. There was no real build up but visitors to what is now brentfordfc.com on Tuesday morning were greeted with a new look. And what a relief. What a blessed relief. Gone is that awful, awful cluttered template look. Gone is the almost random way articles were thrown together on screen. Gone is that stream of outdated and long defunct ‘news’ that we’d get on the right hand side of the screen.

The previous incumbent was awful. I make no apologies for saying this and it was something that had been noted on these pages previously. Equally, it wasn’t one of the club’s direct making. Look around the websites of other EFL clubs and you’d see the vast majority with the same, restrictive template. Even the ability to write in paragraphs was an enhancement that only came about this season.

First impressions of the replacement are nothing but positive. What a great decision by the club to look at breaking the mould and what a great job, certainly on first impressions, to those responsible for putting this together. For a non-techy like yours truly, it was simple to use, intuitive and I loved the fact that there’s even a tab for our fan groups on there (most of whom will grant you access !).

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Early visitors to ‘new look official’ got a treat – our important fan groups being represented.

Nice one Brentford. I can’t wait to see how it looks once we get back into a season ‘proper’.

Next up, the crest. We’ve made no secret on these pages of loving the castle and not being the biggest fans of her replacement – the cluttered, clipart that until the weekend has been the public image of BrentfordFC for over 20 years. To me, it was always the graphical equivalent of  Murray Jones replacing Dean Holdsworth. Equally, I’m not so naive as to ignore the fact that it remained hugely popular amongst a large section of out fan base who view the crest’s passing with some sadness.

But whether you loved it or loathed it, the crest is dead. Long live the crest. The new look Bee began to take pride of place on the website and Twitter from yesterday, with the promise of a club wide rebrand to follow. For me, the is nothing but good news.

On a personal note, there was no secret of my approval for the new version when it was revealed earlier on the season. It is an opinion that I most definitely stick with now we’ve had time to acclimatise. Stylish, smart and displaying a modern take on a former classic, this really is a good look.

Looking around the internet yesterday I saw those interminable muttering about the legs and the ‘wasp’  factor being mentioned once more. It is so clearly a bumble bee as to be almost unrecognisable as anything else. Likewise, it is possible for a Bee to only have four of the six legs on display at any one time. And if we’re really going to split hairs, just look at the crest that has just shuffled off this sartorial coil. Examine the legs on view and count them. One, two, three, four, fi..no. That’s it. The same four as we have once more.

new-badge-bee

The new crest is now live (and a bee, for comparison)

Look I don’t want to dwell on that anymore. Our new crest is, in my opinion, worthy of a big thumbs up. It isn’t the Castle (what is, though?) but it is now the look of our club. The next big question being just what it is going to look like on a shirt. Kitman Bob, any clues here?

And finally, Middlesbrough. As suspected by many, they’ve bounced straight back to the Championship after a solitary season in the Premier League. Which is awful for them and potentially worse for us. Nobody needs any reminder of our record since the return to this level of football. Played 6 Lost 6.

That was then; this is now. Four of these six were in our first season and included that play-off semi final loss where we came so close to an incredible end to the campaign. Then again, do we do play-offs any other way?

I think both Middlesbrough and Brentford will find each other very different opponents next time out. Our own set up has undergone a huge overhaul and the starting XI is probably now our strongest in years. Certainly when the players hit their stride. As for Boro’, they’ll have had the wind taken out of their sails somewhat and will no doubt have their own rebuilding exercise to undergo.

Will they be a Newcastle united or an Aston Villa? We saw vastly different responses to Premier League relegation from those two fallen giants this campaign. Newcastle bouncing back in style; Villa finding the Championship a much tougher division than could have been anticipated. Whilst the Magpies ended it as champions,  the Villans finished the campaign below the Bees in the final table.

Whilst the suspicion is that Boro’ will use their experience and set up to be nearer the business end of the table, they’ll no longer be that big fish they once were. Neither will Brentford be the perceived minnow.

I can’t wait for the chance to do battle once more and look at getting that first win under our belts. Until then, it simply remains to say, RIP to the previous crest.

Now bring on our new look….

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Nick Bruzon

Double goal 7(seven). You couldn’t have made that finish up.

8 May

9th. We’ve finished 9th !!  Brentford continued their stunning run to the denouement of season 2015/16 with a 5-1 humbling of Huddersfield Town. In a quite bonkers afternoon that saw Middlesbrough promoted (sorry Brighton fans, genuinely, but ‘manager of the month’ rarely lies) and Burnley crowned as Champions amidst bizarre scene at Charlton, Scott Hogan took his strike rate to something that must be approaching an average of 5 goals a game whilst Liverpool loanee Sergi Canos bid a very fond farewell.

Where do you start from the Huddersfield game, though? For a season that saw Brentford involved in what Dean Smith agreed was a relegation scrap as recently as 19 March, things have taken a turn for the surreal. We’ve scored 24 goals and won 7(seven) out of the last 10 games. Formwise, that puts only Brighton above us. Five more of the goals total coming yesterday to make it 9 for the season against The Terriers alone.

We don’t, generally, do match reports on these pages. The highlights are already doing the rounds and , if you haven’t seen them yet, do take the time to catch up with these. The quality of every goal – from Sergi Canos grabbing the opener on just 21 seconds  – to substitute John Swift blasting the fifth home as we approached full time is to be admired. Lasse Vibe shot home from the edge of the box after a delightful ball from Canos whilst man of the moment Scott Hogan grabbed another two.

Having spent muchh of the last 18 months with his leg in a brace (I’d imagine) how brilliant to see him now grabbing one on pitch. A brace, that is. The opening 64 minutes was the longest we’ve seen Scott in action since the oh-so gradual and carefully managed return from that sickening injury. Having lasted 45 minutes in the previous game (the 3-0 over Fulham) making it as far as the hour allowed Hogan to get the goals which took his total to 7(seven) for the season. Not a bad return !

Sergio Canos also made it 7(seven) for the campaign in what was, barring some form of transfer coup over the summer, his final appearance for the Bees. Surely he will only be Liverpool bound when the next campaign kicks off in August ? Certainly, his twitter feed suggested that this would be the case.

Sergi sign off

If this transpires to be the case then we can all, truly, say we’ve had the pleasure of watching a prodigious talent emerge. I’d love to see Sergi back next time around and, whilst stranger things have happened, can only imagine a place at Anfield will be calling.

His mood was one shared by all the players on social media. After what must have been some horrendous pressure at various points this campaign and some harsh, albeit warranted at times, criticism of the set up the flip side is that when they have been let off the leash it has been an absolute joy to watch.

Rasmus nailed it in the recent video when he noted that a team wins three in a row and you think they’ll never lose again. Certainly, that’s how it has felt.

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Lasse wins at Twitter as the squad end in high spirits

Injury has forced a rejig in the midfield with Josh McEachran and John Swift undergoing an enforced rest. Nico has stepped up in style whilst Scott has made his well documented return. KK and Gogia have started to show what ‘the model’ (please note: traditional recruiting is also involved) has suggested whilst even an experienced pro like Sam Saunders has pushed onwards and upwards. With this has come the results.

The only slight disappointment was on Bees Player where the assertion was made of Dean Smith supposedly berating Scott Hogan for not going down in the box but, rather, staying on his feet, with the Bees 1-0 up. I’m all for winning games but I’d much rather we did it by fair means. Let’s hope this was simply a misinterpretation of the conversation rather than a terrible example for any young children who may have been watching etc etc

That said, we won. Handsomely. We’ve finished the season in 9th place which would be an incredible achievement in its own right. Let alone when you factor in the challenges of FFP enforced sales, The Marinus experiment, pitchgate and that quite dreadful start to 2016. I stand by what I said about these things at the time but, equally, who isn’t thrilled at how Brentford have emerged from all of this?

For the record, Fulham and QPR also both recorded  final game victories. As such, although we ended the season as the top side in London outside the Premier League, the lead over our West London rivals remained at a ‘mere’ 14 and 5 points respectively.

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QPR and Fulham could only watch the red and white express

Are we the finished article? No. But I’m not alone in feeling tremendously positive going into the summer break. Given the low points of the season have ben particularly painful, to end it on such a high has left all around Griffin Park with a huge buzz. Who knows just what a fully match fit Scott Hogan will do whilst we have the added advantage of finally saying goodbye to Middlesbrough.

Whether you believe in bogey teams or not (and for somebody who swears by ‘lucky pants’ and the ‘motm curse’, to criticise would be somewhat hypocritical) nobody can deny that in 4 league and 2 play-off encounters since our return to the Championship, Brentford’s record with Boro’ reads:  P: 6  W: 0  D: 0  L: 6 .

For now, it’s time to catch our breath once more. Hey, when we went up to the Championship on that famous day against Preston,  if you’d have been offered 5th and 9th from our first two seasons there wouldn’t have been anybody amongst us who wouldn’t have bitten the hand off to secure that.

I love seeing the Bees do well. I thought that last season was not the “punching above our weight” that so many people claimed but, actually, a wonderful triumph of ability and team spirit based around the infectious warmth of Mark Warburton. We got where we got on merit.

With that well documented parting of the ways, this season was always going to be a tough one. Moreso given the other issues noted above. I stand by my assertion that we could have handled ourselves better off-field, comms wise, but you live and learn. Hindsight is always wonderful.

Something, perhaps, the owners at Charlton Athletic could learn. Amidst understandable  scenes at The Valley, their supporters showed just what they thought of the people in charge. Even ‘official’ twitter had somewhat of a Freudian slip (or sabotage from within the ranks? ) as their campaign came to a sad climax.

Charlton poison 2

Whatever you’ve thought about our lowest points this season, things could have been an awful lot worse. Still, sad though I am for Charlton, their fate lies elsewhere.

For Brentford, we’ve got watching the play-off finals to look forward to and the final Premier league fixtures to see who joins us next season. There’s the new shirt to be released whilst the promise from Kitman Bob that his BBGiveaway will return.

Oh,and there’s been the small matter of Euro 2016 in the summer. Whilst Alan Judge will be missing, could the presence of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane at yesterday’s game have any additional significance? The local press believe he was checking on Town winger Sean Scannell but with Scott scoring those two goals, could there be a surprise call up in the offing?

I’ll leave that thought here……

However, as a final observation, for me (Clive) Twitter user @MrJamie88 nails it in words and pictures better than most could hope to.

Enjoy.

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Do the body and legs match?

Nick Bruzon

As the Bees prepare for a last hurrah, why Middlesbrough will go up on Saturday..

6 May

What a day tomorrow promises to be. Brentford travel to Huddersfield Town looking to secure 10th (and a possible 9th) place in the Championship table. At the business end, the mythical beast that is the fixture computer has served up a play-off before the play-offs in the Middlesbrough v Brighton ‘winner takes all’. As for yesterday’s Josh McEachran to Chelsea story. Let’s just park that one right here.

First up though, I have to start with the Middlesbrough – Brighton game simply because of what it represents. And I can tell you who’s going to reach the Premier League aswell.

With both teams locked on 88 points, The Seagulls have to win to snatch ‘automatic’. Anything less, with Boro on a superior goal difference, will see Brighton consigned to a play off with Sheffield Wednesday.

Sadly, for Brighton fans, I’ve got Boro’ all over this one. If for no other reason than Chris Hughton has just been named manager of the month for April. No matter how strong the visitors are and what the weight of expectation from the home supporters, we all know how the award works.

Win manager of the month – lose your next game.

It’s a curse as longstanding as Clem featuring ‘your team’ for his prematch feature. Last season saw a mere 7(seven) winners for sides highlighted by the ever popular roving reporter. ‘MotM’ is, for the jinx wary amongst us, no different.

Genuinely, I’d love to see former Bee Chris do it. Realistically, I think ‘that curse’ may strike again.

In a way, whilst proud that Dean Smith was also nominated, at least Chris ‘taking the hit’ has increased our chances slightly. No doubt Huddersfield will want to sign off in style etc etc etc but equally Brentford fans know what another three points means. Already 5 clear of QPR and out of sight from Fulham, this really is a stunning chance to strengthen our stranglehold on the West London mini league.

Hopefully this message has also translated to Dean and the players. Certainly the build up to, and reaction from, last weekend’s 3-0 thumping of the Cottagers suggests this will be the case.

For us, the season is almost over. We’ll look back on it over the next week or so (although I promise that the cliché of an ‘end of term report card‘ is one I’ll leave to others). Instead, for now, here’s hoping the men in black can ‘go again’ one more time.

For those fortunate enough to be able to make the trip, Kitman Bob has suggested on Twitter that the players plan to give their shirts away at the end of the game. I’ve no idea how this will happen although if Sam Saunders is reading, perhaps rather than throw it to the crowd you could just put yours in an envelope addressed to….

In all seriousness, this kit nerd has loved the various giveaways over the season and what a great gesture to say ‘thanks’ to those who have travelled with The Bees this campaign. Good luck to the 400+ able to make the trip tomorrow.

And finally, Josh McEachran to Chelsea?? No. Seriously. I don’t normally talk about rumours but this one was so random it bears reflection. Coming from a source weaker than a watered down bottle of value brand low-sugar ketchup, the Express ran a ‘story’ yesterday saying how Chelsea “hadn’t ruled out re-signing” Josh.

This, in itself, turned out to be a comment on something they’d read in the Evening Standard the night before. Thankfully Tom Moore, West London’s Premier Journalist, was able to speak with Dean Smith where this one was not so much scotched but laughed off in a state of confusion.

Tom’s article quotes Dean as saying: ” I have heard nothing at all about this. Is that to help him with his treatment? I’m not aware of any buyback clause either

Perhaps the Standard/Express had got confused and were assuming John Swift would be returning to Stamford Bridge when his loan expires. That, surely, the most likely outcome when the season draws to a close.

Either way, it just proves once more the old adage about not believing everything you read in the papers. Unless it comes from Beesotted, I’ll generally give such speculation a very wide berth.

And with that out of the way, I can get back to lumping the mortgage on Middlesbrough’s promotion.

What can go wrong?

Sam Saunders black kit

One last look – at the shirt..

Nick Bruzon

Could current form see one of our hopes go South?

16 Feb

Come on Middlesbrough. Last night’s 0-0 draw with Leeds United raises a worrying concern for Brentford fans. Specifically that we might have to play them again next campaign. Whilst Boro’ remain in the top two, their form has hit somewhat of a rough patch with two defeats , three draws and just two goals coming in their last five league games. For a team that has beaten the Bees 6 times in the last two seasons, there is a large section of the Griffin Park faithful that will be more than happy to see them promoted to the Premier League.

Of course, we must remember that most delicious of clichés. Namely that the league is a marathon not a sprint. Believe me, I’d be much happier having the sort of form that Middlesbrough are currently ‘enjoying’ rather than that of the Bees. The point is made more to illustrate how interesting the top of the table has become.

Just three points separate first placed Hull City and Brighton in fourth. Even Sheffield Wednesday, who of course put 4 past Brentford on Saturday, find themselves just two wins off the top as the race for ‘automatic’ has locked up once more.

It’s a lovely problem to have and one that, 12 months ago, we were caught up in. Village-gate had been and gone as, with the season’s low point of ‘Charlton away’ behind us, Brentford prepared to get back to winning ways. Of course, we didn’t quite make it despite a heroic effort in, arguably, the most exciting campaign in living memory. Fifth place saw us consigned to an eighth play-off campaign where the combination of a prospective visit to the ‘W’ place, along with games against Boro’, meant that usual service ensued.

That was then. This is now. Surely Middlesbrough have too much about them to trouble Brentford for a third, successive, season? Presumably recent acquisition and former Bee Jordan Rhodes will be the man to complete their stellar line up rather than the Faustino Asprilla to their Newcastle United? If nothing else, I just can’t see Aitor Karanka having a Keegan style meltdown

Any excuse to show this one.

Still, if Brentford fans think things are ‘bad’ at the moment (trust me, they aren’t), then do take a look at Leeds United. Despite some stunning signings of their own, including Stuart Dallas and the free scoring Toumani Diagouraga, there remains unrest at Elland Road. And not just from Steve Evans trying to find a tracksuit that fits him.

Controversial owner Massimo Cellino seems intent to take on the TV companies whilst fans, who had been promised a buy out, took to projecting images onto the stadium after the Italian went back on his word. The Yorkshire Post (@Yorkshirepost) were amongst those leading with some incredible images before kick off last night.

Leeds

Now THIS is how to make a point

Let’s not pretend all is perfect at Brentford currently. Despite Matthew Benham’s life saving investment over the years, many are frustrated by the subsequent decimation of the team that achieved so much last campaign. Current form sees us sliding down the table whilst Dean Smith can’t buy a win (or a goal) at the minute.

But like Middlesbrough, I’m sure this is just a short term thing. We’ve come too far to throw it all away and I’m convinced the rebuilding operation we’ve put ourselves on (team, rather than stadium) will continue over the summer. Like it or not, Brentford are on a path of consolidation now. Last year’s team are nothing more than a warm and fuzzy glow who will rank alongside the heroes of yesteryear.

Instead, let’s just hope that Phil and Rasmus know what they are doing when it comes to any summer recruitment. Barring a miracle / disaster, we’re going to have two London derbies to look forward too along with another chance to take on a Leeds United side who haven’t beaten Brentford in our last 6 encounters.

As for Boro’, perhaps its best all round if they just exit the Championship and do what a club of their size should, conceivably, have done last time out. Good luck in the top flight !

Until then, we’ve got a game against Derby County coming up. All being well, a run out against another play off contender will be just what the doctor ordered to fire us back to winning ways.

Princess Royal Middlesbrough

Never again will still be too soon

Nick Bruzon

What’s the talk about ‘Terrace Talk’ and Lloyd?

14 Jan

Burnley visit Brentford tomorrow and the Bees will, no doubt, be looking to bounce back from Tuesday night’s defeat to Middlesbrough. Despite playing fantastically at times, that goal just wouldn’t come and, as such, we played the ultimate price. You know what happened by now though.

Instead, to coin that most jarring of phrases, “We go again” . Whilst ordinarily I’d suggest you file that one next to: “every little helps” (bad grammar that doesn’t actually mean anything), “expresso” (the word is espresso – is it that hard to pronounce the letter ‘s’ ?) and “You support Brentwood. In Essex?” as things to get under my skin, I’m kind of desperate for that to happen this time around.

All the plaudits in the world for nice approach play and some cracking chances don’t disguise the fact we lost. Albeit to the League leaders. But there was still plenty in there to inspire and give cause for optimism that we can go one better against Burnley in front of the TV cameras on Friday. And I can’t wait for that chance to come.

The other thing to emerge from Tuesday night’s game, and a subject we’ve not discussed as yet in this column, is the latest ‘Terrace Talk’ video. In a feature that seems somewhat familiar to those that Beesotted have being doing for years, the club have now jumped on the ‘fan interview’ bandwagon.

Hosted by matchday programme contributor Jo Tiley, the initial criticisms are obvious and I feel somewhat like a cat toying with a spider saying anything nasty on this one. It has been accused of being a blatant rip off of a fan produced feature introduced by a presenter who seemed to suffer from volume issues at first (the microphone is what helps us hear, there’s really no need to shout).

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Jo Tiley presents the latest edition of Terrace Talk

Yet.Yet.Yet… I love it. It shouldn’t work given the high profile comparison yet somehow it does and is fast becoming cult viewing. The interviews feature a good cross section of guests – both fans and club figures. Vice-chairman Donald Kerr appears alongside supporter John Hirdle, amongst others, in this latest issue whilst I’m sure I saw Buzzette’s minder in the post Walsall edition.

Jo has definitely refined her presenting technique, too, and even managed to root out an Arsenal fan (who was apparently hospitalised with frost bite) in this one. I’m very much looking to see her do battle with the Sky team on Friday. Come on Jo ! Why not even see if you can rope one of their team in for a chat?

Hey, with Lloyd Owusu deservedly being welcomed into the hall of fame (and more on this tomorrow), he’d be a cracking guest to bag. Or even how about that as a subject of discussion?

Which player do supporters think should be entered into this elite group ?

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Lloyd Owusu – back at Griffin Park this Friday

At the end of the day, Clive, a good idea is going to see similar ones follow suit. Coke and Pepsi; Grandstand and World of Sport. The Last Word and, erm… well, you get my drift.

Terrace talk may come over as the club take on Beesotted, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a crack aswell.

Keep up the good work, Jo. Here’s to the next edition.

terrace talk – the latest edition

Nick Bruzon

No prizes for ‘unlucky’ but at least we won the possession

13 Jan

Well, you can talk about “unlucky” and “on another night “ all you want but the simple fact is that Middlesbrough left Griffin Park with all 3 points after beating Brentford 1-0. It may well have been against the run of play in a game where, especially in the first twenty minutes, we dominated but if ever there was a lesson to be learned about taking your chances when they arise then here it was. And with free scoring Burnley due to visit on Friday night, let’s hope it is one that we learn fast.

Brentford played very, very well for large parts of this game despite the best efforts of referee Gavin Ward. The aforementioned opening salvo saw a performance that was world’s apart from the debacle in the FA Cup. Lasse Vibe, especially, started at 100mph as first he set up Alan Judge for a shot that drifted just wide before finding himself clean through moments later. With defenders closing and Boro’ keeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos on inspired form, as ever, the chance was pushed away for one of the 11 corners we earned.

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Hands off Toumani….. Boro’ defend another corner

The returning Sam Saunders saw Dimi manage to get to a dipping first half free kick whilst Harlee Dean and Max Colin (my standout player from last night) also came close for the Bees. Yet despite these wonderful chances and a final figure of 60% possession if you don’t put the ball in the back of the net then you don’t win football matches.

Middlesbrough were solid and well organised. Perhaps you could even say they were cynical at times but they did what they needed to. On a blustery evening they soaked us up, rode their luck a bit yet, with the scores still at 0-0, when the chance presented itself on the hour they put it away. Or, rather, we did.

David Button, for so long this season the man who has kept us in games, saw an attempted punch spin off his gloves, over his head and, despite the claims of Daniel Ayala, straight through a melee of players and over the line. It was, to be polite, a frustrating moment and I’m not going to start criticising our ‘keeper – far from it. He’s been a hero this season and we play as a team.To be honest, the game should have been closed out by that point.

Instead, Middlesbrough did what they do – lock things down and win games. In tricky conditions, a long way from home, they made it 6 wins in 16 months against The Bees.

I’m not going to pander to our team and say “unlucky”. This was a wonderful chance to beat the league leaders and close in on play-off rivals. Instead, they’ve got away with the points once more and the gap to sixth is now eight points. From a table perspective, the only consolation is that at least positions 4-6 are really tightening up. But, being honest, I think we’re now in a place where unless we start winning very fast indeed, consolidation is the best this side can hope for this time around.

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The BBC table shows the current state of play

That’s still no bad thing and moreso given the start to the campaign we had. People have huge expectation levels and forget how far we’ve come over the last few seasons. Likewise, how mediocre things have been in the past. Ladies and gentlemen, before Marinus I give you Terry Butcher, Leroy Rosenior and even the sad end to the Andy Scott era – just for starters.

Yet at the same time, we were spoiled by what the squad achieved last season and just how close we came to the top flight. For a brief moment, ‘automatic’ was looking very much a possibility and, even then, we still got a second bite as we hit the play-offs on that stunning final day of the season.

Seeing Andre Gray scoring goals for fun this season up at Burnley (and, indeed, the brace he managed for us under Marinus) does show just what this team have been missing in recent weeks. You can’t knock Lasse Vibe’s effort, or goals, but target man isn’t his natural position. The return to fitness of Marco Djuricin can only be a good thing for a team whose record is now just two wins in eight games.

Only Derby, Burnley, Sheffield Wednesday and, erm, Fulham have scored more goals than us all season and so I’m sure you’ll hear the statisticians and coaches saying we’re looking quite healthy in that position. Well, the last five games have only seen us trouble the scorers three times – and two of those were the wonder goals from Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos at Reading. Incredible strikes, for sure, but not the sort of thing you can rely on week in, week out.

Were we unlucky last night? Yes. We played very well with Sam Saunders providing a welcome burst of fresh air and enthusiasm whilst Max Colin really impressed.

Should we have won? Probably. Judge and Vibe had the best of some good chances for Brentford.

Did Middlesbrough deserve it? It’s irrelevant. When the chance arose, we were pressured into conceding and they didn’t let us back in despite the Bees having seen the majority of the ball  by full time.

Goals win football matches, people. Regardless of who you are playing or how it gets into the back of the net.

Roll on Friday, when Burnley await. They warmed up with a 5-0 humping of MK Dons last night. Then again, if Brentford start like we did on Tuesday evening it could be an interesting one…

Nick Bruzon

Opinion very much divided as rumours persist and Boro’ await

12 Jan

Brentford take on Middlesbrough tonight, hoping to put the cup defeat to Walsall behind them and get back to winning ways in the league. An obvious statement, perhaps, but anybody who bore witness to just how below par Saturday was, where we were outplayed for huge swathes of the game, will be fully aware that a reaction is needed. Moreso, with a game against play off rivals Burnley just three days after this one.

I mentioned in yesterday’s article that Boro’ have beaten us five times in the last 16 months. What I didn’t realise was that they’ve actually done us the last 8 times out of 8. Whilst, understandably, some people are calling Middlesbrough a bogey a team, I’m not having a bar of that. The only bogeys I care about are the ones up my nose, with a heavy cold putting attendance tonight in the balance.

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View from the terrace – Middlesbrough proved tough opponents last season

Besides, it may be horribly clichéd but you are only as good as your last result. Ahhhh. Yes. Walsall. But that was the cup, where we played with a black hole in the centre of the park, sucking all life and creation into a morass of nothingness.   In the league, the Bees have recorded 5 wins and a draw out of our last 7 (seven) games at Griffin Park.

Yet, tonight provides a real problem for Head Coach Dean Smith in one respect. Who does, or can, he pick to start for Brentford? With the flurry of transfer rumours doing the rounds might his hands be tied? Tarks keen to go to Burnley and Toums asking for a transfer request being the pick of the pops yesterday.

Could wandering minds impact performance?

Both players were sorely missed at the weekend. Toumani in particular. It is a tremendous insult to either player to suggest they’d give any less than 100% yet, at the same time, if (and it is a huge IF) somebody would rather be elsewhere then will the absolute focus be there? Will they stick their foot into that 50/50 challenge?

I’m not a professional footballer and I don’t have the answer to that question. I’d hope that once you pull on the red and white shirt, all else goes out of the window. Regardless, I’d be starting with Toums, Tarks and Alan Judge unless injury or orders from a higher power than Dean Smith said otherwise.

Given Alan’s appearance from the bench on Saturday, I’m sure we’ll see him from the off. As for the other two, let’s just hope ‘the injuries’ that caused them to miss the cup game have cleared up.

The middle of the park was a mess on Saturday. If Swift or McEachran start I’ll be really quite frustrated tonight. P*ss poor performance should not be rewarded with another chance. Josh, for all his potential, was off the pace whilst Swift is fast becoming the new Jonathan Douglas. Don’t let the odd goal and surging run disguise the lack of impact when things are against and defensive frailty when the ball is going the other way. Even Dougie would stick his foot in from time to time.

And the reason I mention our former man was an article by West London’s Premier Journalist, Tom Moore, looking to analyse the reasons for our cup exit. Fair play to Get West London for running an opinion piece – always much more interesting than a ‘double transfer swoop’ scoop that turns to nothing.

As I said myself on Saturday night, it was the sort of game crying out for Sam Saunders. That’s a point also picked up on by Tom, with him actually going one further to suggest this could be the beginning of the end for the mercurial wing wizard. I hope not but fear he could be right.

Where I don’t agree is in his comments regarding Dougie. “While it is clear that Douglas was difficult to handle off the pitch, what he brought on the pitch is still being missed.

He would mop up attacks and charge forward, turning Brentford’s 4-2-3-1 formation into one more akin to a 4-1-3-2 and Douglas scored eight goals last season”

Sorry Tom. I respect your opinion but on this one I feel you’re wrong. It’s an emotive subject, for sure. Dougie was a hero to many and nobody could deny the amount of goals he scored.

But it was this charging and chasing forward, especially last season, that saw us cruelly exposed time and again. You didn’t need to be a genius to know we’d be done by the long ball over the top of the midfield or see the hole that he kept leaving. That’s without any of the ‘off field’ issues that are alluded to. Even when he came back with Ipswich Town, Jota was the man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A great player at his peak, Dougie’s time had definitely come and, for me, it’s less a case of missing him as more needing the new breed to step up and do what they are supposedly able to.

Douglas hits jota post Ipswich

Dougie – last seen on Beesplayer giving Jota a ‘girly slap’

For me, and I may be in a minority, one of the few good things that happened under Marinus was to end ‘the cult of Douglas’. Despite his longevity and past heroics, at the end it felt as though he was keeping his place on reputation rather than ability. I do wonder what might have happened had Warbs given things a bit of a shake up towards the end of last season.

Still, that’s all conjecture and why we love football so much. Wallowing in the memories of past legends with the beauty of rose tinted glasses isn’t going to change what our current, youthful, team do. Or don’t. One person’s hero is another’s villain. Poor Harlee Dean certainly seems to be the fall guy in that position, amongst some supporters, this season.

We could talk about this for hours. That’s what podcasts are for.  Perhaps instead  a topic for Beesotted over the coming days? For now, I’m only interested in the current team and tonight’s performance against Middlesbrough.

If Dean looks to crowd the midfield again, let’s just hope they don’t trip over each other’s feet and, likewise, look to get the ball forward. We’ve got as tough opponents as you could expect in the league and it’s going to be hard. Very hard.

On the flipside, if ever a reaction from the previous game was needed then it is now. And what a team it would be to give it against.

See you there. Hopefully.

Nick Bruzon

From storming mad to a storm in TW8

11 Jan

And relax Brentford fans. Before we start to look ahead to Middlesbrough and Burnley, just a quick note to say thanks for all the feedback on social media this weekend. Specifically, regarding Saturday night’s column about the FA Cup against Walsall and the visit of FC Midtjylland. Football is a game that has always polarised opinions (just ask any visitor to the GPG) but the reaction to this one on Facebook and Twitter was amongst the most extreme I’ve ever seen. I have no idea if anybody in the club reads this column but would hope that they at least note this has clearly been an emotive subject for the supporters.

Monday morning. With Middlesbrough due here in just over 36 hours, the rain of the weekend has been followed by an overnight downpour of biblical proportions (is there any other type?) in TW8. At the time of writing (6.30am) it is still tipping down in Brentford. One can only hope that the drainage system is working and the Griffin Park pitch holds up.

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View from the terrace – the rain was constant on Saturday

To be fair, since the farce at the start of the season that saw it needing to be relaid just two games in the surface has been magnificent. Whilst it was clearly greasy on Saturday, I didn’t notice it overly cutting up. However, with another three hours of rain due on Tuesday afternoon according to the BBC, one can only imagine what referee Gavin Ward (oh, joy) will make of things when he carries out his pitch inspection.

I’m sure we’ll be fine but, equally, with conditions likely to be slick it could be a fast paced game. Certainly, I’m expecting a huge reaction from Brentford – both players and fans. Whilst Saturday was absolutely gutting, we are still placed in an extremely interesting position. A minimum of three points this week will see us close in further on two promotion rivals.

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The current BBC table shows how crucial points are this week

It is, being honest, a season defining week. The cup is over but the league is very much alive – if we can do what we know we can do. I’d love to see the likes of Toums, Tarks and the Judge start this one. They were sorely missed on Saturday but the transfer stories doing the rounds may still take this out of our hands

Middlesbrough, of course, are seen by many as some form of bogey team. Three league wins and two play off semi final victories in the last 16 months certainly make Boro’ the form team when it comes to games between our respective sides.

Then again, I don’t pay too much attention to history. Do so and you’ll beat yourself before you even leave the dressing room.

Personally, my only focus is on getting three points. Former Bees promotion hero Adam Forshaw will be down with his new side and whilst it would be nice to show him how we’ve progressed since last season, I’d settle for a scrappy 1-0.

Let’s just hope we don’t give him a half time lap of honour.

Nick Bruzon