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MK Down and the true price of FA Cup defeat

24 Apr

Bye Bye MK Dons. Brentford racked up yet another win and another hatful of goals on Saturday afternoon to confirm that Karl Robinson and his team will be making an immediate return to League One. There was also that Doctor Who moment during the Manchester United – Everton FA Cup semi which we’d worried about yesterday whilst Kitman Bob is at it again. Yet again.

MK Dons BBC

Not my words but those ..etc

First up though, Stadium MK. As is the norm the BBC, Beesotted, official site  or other less salubrious pages are the place for proper match reports. Instead, the headline news to trumpet about has to be about a 4-1 win for the Bees.

It was a game that, not for the first time this season, featured brilliant goals from first Sergi Canos and later Ryan Woods (do check these beauties out on the Bees Player highlights package). These sandwiched Lasse Vibe’s 13th of the season before Jake Bidwell rounded things off. His free kick from the touchline, just like the game at Preston, drifting past everybody and into the back of the net.

Mark Burridge is back for another win. What jinx?

Team wise both Sam Saunders and Scott Hogan were missing from the 18 who had beaten Cardiff on Tuesday night. The latter used Twitter to allay the fears of worried fans, saying, “I‘m not injured it’s been planned being managed carefully, don’t forget I’ve been out a while , next season most important thing!

Maxime Colin reclaimed his right back position although Josh Clarke, who had impressed midweek, did get the final half hour. John Swift, gash healed, was an unused substitute.

Only just over a month ago many of, us including our own head coach, had noted that the Bees were in a relegation scrap.Now its been 16 points out of 18 over April. It is a month that has seen 16 goals and five wins out of those 6 games.

As it stands we’ve hit Dean Smith’s tenth spot target and could even end as high as eighth should the winning run continue. Victory in ‘our game in hand’ at Hull City AFC on Tuesday night will see the Bees just one point behind Ipswich Town in 8th and make the ‘manager of the month’ vote a very interesting one indeed.

I’d still say that one is a straight shoot out between Chris Hughton or Aitor Karanka. Their teams have won as many as the Bees this month whilst keeping up the pace at the top of a table that sees the top three all on 87 points with just two games to go. Now that’s pressure !

As a side note, am I alone in having a ‘spellcheck’ that defaults the Middlesbrough manager’s name to Aitor Karaoke ? Now there’s some wonderful imagery. Here’s hoping for a Phil Brown style pitch side singalong as Boro’ go up and fairly leave us in peace after 6 wins out of 6 over the last two seasons.

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Could Chris lift something more valuable?

The other Championship news of excitement saw QPR held by Reading. It means the Bees are two points clear of the Loftus Road mob in the battle to see who will end the season as not just West but all London’s top league club. That Hull game has even more riding on it than our opponents might realise.

Back to the FA Cup. We talked yesterday about the forthcoming Doctor Who ‘reveal’ that the BBC had intended to make during half time of the semi final and, sure enough, it happened. Whilst I’ll leave Bees supporter @Lokster71 to comment on the choice of ‘assistant’  via his excellent ‘Patient Centurion’ blog, I have to say that Gary Lineker handled the obvious disruption well.

Indeed, the BBC anchor giving a quite marvellous post-reveal segue pitch side as he dead panned, “The doctor’s not the only one with a new companion, Dan Walker talks to Lee Martin…”.

The only sour notes to the afternoon were  Manchester United securing a winner at the death. To be fair, I’d have been just as unhappy had Everton done this.

It meant that with the spectre of an additional thirty minutes ‘extra time’ now removed, along with it went the chance of Mrs Browns Boys (presumably the safety net should such a situation have arisen) being pulled from the evening’s schedule. Worse, it meant we got Michael McIntyre sooner.

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Mrs Brown – thanks Manchester United. And Everton

Whilst Lineker scored bonus points for the Dan Walker gag, I did also think his closing “Young Prince / party like its 1999” outro felt a little bit forced and, dare I say it, cashing in on the week’s sad news.

And finally, it seems like every week we’re saying this but Kitman Bob is back on the BBgiveaway. Whilst ‘that’ shirt has rolled over to the Fulham game on Saturday, he announced last night : Buzzing about @BrentfordFC support today. I’m throwing in a  BONUS BBGIVEAWAY Tuesday.  Boots to be given away. Keep looking . Tuesday lunch time

As ever, the place to look is on Bob’s twitter account.

Here’s hoping Sam Saunders is back in the team or my bet is spannered .

Roll on Tuesday.

Bob crystal ball

Kitman Bob – man of mystery and king of competitions

Nick Bruzon

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Who, cares? BBC ‘go again’ but will unbeaten April continue?

23 Apr

Today should be a day of excitement. Brentford have the chance to go above the Loftus Road mob in the table once more (only goal difference separates us now) whilst simultaneously relegating MK Dons. This is immediately followed by the FA Cup semi final between Everton and Manchester United. Yet, yet, yet – the words ‘shoddy BBC Doctor Who crossover’ are lurking to spoil things. Again.

First up Brentford’s trip to Milton Keynes. This is going to be a very interesting test of Dean Smith’s managerial process. One can only assume that, injuries aside, he’ll stick with the majority of the team that continued April’s unbeaten run, making it 13 points from 15 against Cardiff City in midweek.

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The Bees recorded a fine win on Tuesday night

Josh Clarke gave a very assured performance in the position that Maxime Colin has filled with aplomb this season. Yet, with Dean confirming that the Frenchman is “available but we have to just manage him” he has a tricky decision to make. Personally, I’d keep Josh in the side. He absolutely deserves it for his showing on Tuesday whilst, if nothing else, it gives Maxime a bit more recovery time ahead of Hull City and Fulham. Assuming he is even required.

Then there’s John Swift. In his absence, Brentford’s record reads: WWWDW . That’s some difference from the LLLL that preceded it .

The Chelsea loanee has featured heavily this season despite a mixed period of form. When he’s good he’s great; when he’s off the pace well, the less said the better. That’s the price of youthful talent. Yet Dean certainly seemed excited about his potential return when giving his updates to the press yesterday.

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Will we see him back today? I doubt it and, being honest, I hope not. At least, not in the starting XI . That’s not meant as a criticism of the player but more the point that our form needs to be rewarded. Very few players could expect to walk back into a winning team after such a lengthy lay off and, with all due respect to John, he’s not one of them.

That said, I’m sure he’ll be on the bench and from there we see what happens next. Sitting next to him will also be Scott Hogan. Surely it’s too soon for our ‘man of the moment’ to start a game despite the obvious excitement about both his recovery and his form. There’s next season for that. Now, let’s just keep easing him back and setting our watches for ‘Jota time’.

The other point from Dean’s press conference was his observation that, “People talk about a massive turnaround but in my eyes we haven’t played loads better than vs Charlton Athletic or Blackburn Rovers.”

Hmm. Not sure that’s a view which will be shared by many Brentford supporters. “Frustratingly grim” was the two word summary of this one following our inability to even take a point at home to ten man Rovers. I don’t want to overly dwell on that now –  I have eyes, I was at those games, I know what I saw. Let’s just take great comfort in the fact we’ve definitely turned the corner, even if Dean believes it’s just in terms of results.

Ok. The FA Cup. Tonight’s semi-final at Wembley (count the things already wrong in this sentence) between Everton and Manchester United should be one to get the juices flowing. Instead, the BBC have chucked a huge rock in the water. Specifically, by telling us that they’ll be using the game to announce the identity of Doctor Who’s new ‘assistant’.

Please. No. I like Doctor Who (much to Mrs Bruzon’s chagrin) and have what could politely be called more than a passing interest in the great game of football. These are big occasions in each field of interest but to jam them together just seems like some cheap-arsed attempt to boost audience figures. It is one that detracts from both events. To be honest, even making ‘an event’ out of a new cast member for the Sci-Fi classic seems like an unnecessary stunt, anyway.

The BBC have ‘form’ here. During the 2014 World Cup final, they crowbarred the trailer for the then forthcoming new series into the middle of the half-time analysis. It was a horribly awkward moment. Gary Lineker seemed genuinely lost for words as any momentum for the second half was immediately washed away. Even I switched channels to ITV, and for that to happen…

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Not even Rio Ferdinand’s ‘Easyjet’ look could detract from the awkwardness in 2014

I love the FA Cup. Please, BBC . At a time when every season sees further elements of tradition being stripped away from this oldest of tournaments, please don’t demean it any more.

And finally, from Peter Capaldi to another doctor who (sorry) is going to be doing his bit for charity on Sunday. Brentford head of medical Neil Greig, that is.

For anybody not aware, Neil will be taking part in Sunday’s London Marathon where he’ll be running on behalf of Havens Hospices. You can read more about this great cause, and also donate, on his Just Giving page.

Good luck tomorrow, Neil.

And if Scott bangs one in against MK, we know who deserves much of that thanks.

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Neil will be doing his thing tomorrow

Nick Bruzon 

Football reaches an all time low

22 Apr

Match day is almost upon us once more. Brentford visit MK Dons knowing that a point will be sufficient to confirm the home side’s relegation back to League One. Over in Italy meanwhile, AC Milan used last night’s Serie A game with Capri to come out with something so cringeworthy as to make #trophyfriends and #BigNewAmbitions seem tame in comparison.

First up, MK Dons. There was genuine sadness amongst many supporters when Charlton joined Bolton in being relegated to League One. The controversy going on at the club surrounding owner Roland Duchatelet and the set up at The Valley has blighted their campaign, culminating in that bizarre ‘telling off’ administered to fans back in mid March.

For all that people have moaned this season about some aspects of life at Griffin Park, our ‘problems’ are, on the surface, just a drop in the ocean compared to those of the Addicks. It’s always been a great club to go and visit (especially pre-match) and for that reason alone I’ll be sad to see them outside of our league next year. Here’s hoping they bounce back fast.

Yet, on the flip side, I can’t imagine there’ll be any tears shed amongst supporters if MK Dons join them. This most divisive of clubs have done nothing but upset football fans up and down the country since their relocation and rebranding of Wimbledon FC 11 years ago.

Closer to home, we’ve had our own runs in with the club. Manager Karl Robinson left “shaken” (not my words but those of the Daily Mirror – I know) after claiming to have had a pint glass thrown at him by Bees fans back in 2012.

Chief Executive Mark Devlin, of course, categorically denied the claims – if for no other reason than we all know it’s physically impossible to find a pint glass within 100 square metres of Griffin Park on Match Day. All we have are those flimsy plastic things to wash down the free chili.

Whilst charges were never pressed by the police, not unsurprisingly that memory still lingers amongst Brentford supporters. Ordinarily I’d say it would be wrong to take pleasure in another club’s misfortunes and I’m sure Dean Smith will only be interested in keeping our unbeaten run going as we close in on QPR.

But for the Bees fans, I’m sure that a win or draw this Saturday will be treated far more excitedly than the point(s) would, ordinarily, warrant. Here’s to the weekend – whether you follow on BeesPlayer or live at Stadium MK, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of Bees fans with their fingers crossed for the right result come 5pm.

MK League one

Could this happen on Saturday?

ok – Italy. We all know that football is becoming much more corporate these days and the fans so, so sterile. Whilst I’m not advocating a return to the dark days of hooliganism by any stretch, the library at Arsenal or tourist trap at Stamford Bridge show how our stadia are becoming soulless arenas of polite applause. Our game is littered with fans wearing half and half scarfs whilst sporting selfie sticks and listening to ‘goal music’.

Yet AC Milan have taken this to the next level of awfulness after performing a pre-match haka on the San Siro pitch before kick off for last night’s match against Capri.

This, bad enough. The haka, from a sporting perspective, belongs exclusively to New Zealand. And they’re welcome to it. What on earth has the haka got to do with football? Or Milan?

Promoting skin-care company Nivea is the answer. One part of the Milan haka involves them rejigging the traditional dance to mimic the application of face cream.

Sometimes words just aren’t enough. The shameless appropriation of another team’s culture and history is below.

Not that such an act has anything to do with Saturday.

Nick Bruzon

Andy Scott the unlikely hero as Bees thump MK to begin Dean Smith era.

6 Dec

As home debuts go, this was about as good as it gets. Dean Smith, the new Brentford Head Coach, couldn’t have written a better script had he tried – such was the performance delivered in a 2-0 victory over MK Dons. Bees fans left Griffin Park asking,”Pep who?” as the attacking line up delivered everything it promised.

Indeed the other more pertinent question being asked was. “How the hell was it only 2”? With Brentford having taken a first half lead via the head of Lasse Vibe and the inch perfect cross delivery of Jake Bidwell, the floodgates looked set to open. Alan Judge was next up, drawing a wonderful save from David Martin in the MK Dons when, clean through, he was odds on to score. No matter. The goal would come. Surely?

The same player (whose work in the build up for the opener also needs due credit) hit the post with a stunning free kick that saw Kerschbaumer’s subsequent follow up cleared off the line. But if that was close, Sergi Canos was next up to have a crack.

The Spaniard worked a wonderful chance but thundered his effort of the woodwork with Martin floundering and the goal begging. If the aforementioned Judge, ‘one on one’ put one in mind of the great Clayton Donaldson, this one had the name of Marcello Trotta on everybody’s lips. The Ealing Road crossbar resounded with a thump not heard since ‘that penalty’.

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View from the terrace – Canos thunder a shot off the bar

An opening period that also saw Vibe having had a goal denied thanks to the offside flag, left the fans ecstatic but, equally, wondering how MK were (technically) still in it. Moreso, when Vibe hit the bar for a third time as the second half got underway. It was a wonderful strike that deserved better and had supporters fearing it might be one of those days.

For those of us a bit longer in the tooth, it had all the hallmarks of an ‘old school’ Brentford game. Domination, chance after chance, stonewall penalties turned down, woodwork rattled and then Milton Keynes grabbing a scrappy, late equaliser.

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View from the terrace – Vibe makes it 2-0 before the linesman intervenes

Instead, justice was done. Alan Judge, who had done everything but score, finally found the back of the net on seventy minutes. His effort from the edge of the box eluding everybody to roll in past Martin and finally give us the breathing space we’d been gasping for

And that really was it. Pressure off, Brentford played out the final twenty minutes of which the highlight was, absolutely, the return of Jota for a ten-minute cameo at the end.

His presence on the bench, along with Sam Saunders, Andy Gogia and Philipp Hofmann certainly signaled an attacking intent from Dean Smith. Equally pleasing was the presence of Josh McEachran amongst the substitutes, following a late withdrawal for Alan McCormack. Whilst the former Chelsea player didn’t get a run out, this time, Dean Smith’s arrival has been perfectly timed to coincide with the squad returning to peak fitness.

Jota is back

Jota prepares to make his long awaited return

As for the Head Coach? Well, you can’t deny the impact he had. An attacking bench and a team who ‘went for it’ from the off. Even that most awkward of tactics, ‘kicking the wrong way in the first half’ failed to put us off our stride. He was rightly pleased at full time, telling the BBC, “Today’s performance was excellent” although also gave full credit to Lee Carsley for putting the squad in this position.

Even more incredibly, we scored from a short corner. Yes – you read that correctly. A short. Corner.

Judge’s goal coming from a move that began with one of these much-maligned set pieces. As the regular reader knows, “Don’t take it short. They never f**king work”, if the terrace mantra is to be believed. Frankly, there’d be more chance of Chelsea losing at home to Bournemouth than one of these ever succeeding.

Well, we did and we scored. Thanks also to the influence of Sam Saunders – king of the set piece. If this is the Dean Smith effect, the next game can’t come soon enough. Moreso, with the Bees now just one point off sixth placed Cardiff City. Fulham away on Saturday already promised to be as exciting as last season’s game. You can crank that up to 11, now.

And finally, I saw a post on Twitter last night from Matthew Benham after the match. Who knows how football works behind the scenes but this one was a revelation that has come out of leftfield.

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Matthew Benham – back to his Twitter best !

I was always a huge fan of Andy as a player and was gutted when Ron Noades let him go to Oxford. Whilst his managerial career could perhaps be described as ‘mixed’ (although I’ll never forget that night against Everton), who knew he had such Griffin Park connection and influence?

Nice work Matthew. Great work Andy.

But most of all, excellent start Dean.

Nick Bruzon

Forget sexist Tyson, I’ve still got Robinson Fury

5 Dec

Brentford take on MK Dons today with the British press in uproar over boxer Tyson Fury and his reported sexist comments about Jessica Ennis-Hill and women, in general. Phrases such as, “A woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on their back. That’s just my personal beliefs. Making me a good cup of tea, that’s what I believe” don’t sit well at all. Maybe that’s just me, although I’d hope not.

Rather than give the heavyweight moron of the world any more publicity, I reference this specifically to show that sportsmen can often engage the brain only after already coming out with some ridiculous things. And as we are all aware, MK Dons boss Karl Robinson is no different.

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Who wears short shorts?

Brentford fans still have a sour taste in the mouth following the controversial incident back in December 2012 when Robinson claimed a pint glass was thrown at him whilst leaving Griffin Park.

It was a bizarre allegation (if for no other reason than given our plastic cups in the hive, you’d have more chance of Nick Proschwitz scoring a goal than getting hold of an actual glass on match day) and one that was never taken forward by Police. This, despite the Daily Mirror running with the “Fans’ glass attack on boss” ‘story’.

Thankfully, chief executive Mark Devlin was on hand to diffuse the situation afterwards, explaining to anybody that wanted to listen to the truth that, “There was almost an incident but our stewards stepped in. Some beer was thrown, most of which hit our operations manager and a couple of stewards. I can categorically say no glass was thrown at Karl Robinson.”

Say what you want about MK Dons (and many have) but this, more than anything, is my abiding memory of a club for whom, I suppose, you can understand Robinson automatically being keen to avoid any references to plastic.

Regardless of our own desire to get three more points that would, potentially, take the Bees to level points Birmingham City in the play off zone, this game has that extra factor riding on it. Football fans have very long memories and I’m sure Mr Robinson can expect more than a few choice comments in his direction today.

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The BBC table shows a win will take us past QPR towards the play-offs

As for the man in the middle this afternoon, it’s Oliver Langford. His current statistics show 43 yellows and one red from 17 games, of which only 3 have been without a card being produced. That’s approximately 2 .5 per game – a figure which looks very good on paper.

And if anybody is looking for how that sits in the wider officiating community, there’s always Keith Stroud to refer to as a the yardstick of heavy handed booking ratios. And nothing changes.

His 20 games ‘in charge’ this campaign have produced 80 yellows and a further five reds. Even I can do the maths on that in my head but for those of you with a ghoulish statistical interest, West Brom v Port Vale in the Capital One Cup and last month’s Derby v QPR league game saw the yellow card appear 17 times.

But for those thinking a Langford may be better than a Stroud, I’ll take you back to last season, October 2014, and the 0-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday. My own comments from the Last Word archives, aside from, “‘Big‘ Nick Proschwitz could have won it at the death” (how little we knew then, although were already starting to fear) included the following assessment.

Referee Oliver Langford earned the wrath of the crowd for that one, along with several horror challenges from the visitors which went unpunished or overlooked. Is it too much to ask for a bit of consistency and quality from the men in the middle?”

With the likes of Sam Saunders and, potentially, Jota just out of the cotton wool, let’s hope our players get the protection they deserve.

The club have also reminded people, for understandable reasons, to please turn up early for the game as supporters will be asked to undergo additional bag inspections, ‘pat downs’ and metal detector searches. The plus point to all this being (free chili aside) that we get the chance to hear a bit more of Big B Radio.

More importantly, those pre-match requests that have come in via the medium of Twitter.

As ever, the Brentford fans seem to be combining musical excellence with, at times,  a subtle level of punnery. As such, it will be interesting if we hear some of these before kick off.

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Can you better these? Certainly Bieber must be possible

Although let’s hope Dean Russell’s fears prove unfounded – we may now be waiting until next season for Kurt and the marketing men to bring us a jumbotron TV but we do of course already have a new, improved tannoy public address system.

As the regular reader will know, I’m not a fan of Brentford ‘official’ using hashtags on Twitter but, I have to say that this is very much an exception. And you can still get involved using #BeeTheDJ.

Nice work Brentford. Here’s to three points.

See you at the game.

Nick Bruzon

 

Is Jota set to return?

4 Dec

With MK Dons due at Griffin Park on Saturday, there was exciting news for Brentford fans in the world of social media. Whilst, I’m sure, new Head Coach Dean Smith is by now fully aware of the state of his squad, there was a one man campaign on Twitter to remind him about player availability.

In a genuinely exciting update for fans, Jota published a couple of photos and updates late Thursday evening that have got Bees supporters buzzing.

If anybody was in any doubt about his fitness or availability for selection for the Milton Keynes game, ‘The King’ has been happy to update us. And whilst Dean Smith doesn’t appear to be on Twitter as yet, what a start to his own reign in having the player available once more.

With the talismanic Spaniard clearly itching to be back in action after being crocked by former fan favourite Jonathan Douglas in the season opener against Ipswich Town (the equivalent of being run over by an oil tanker),  I wouldn’t want to be Karl Robinson tomorrow if Jota gets a chance to face MK, Although, to be fair, much like Steve Evans I wouldn’t want to be Karl Robinson any time.

In addition, he has also bolstered his Twitter ‘banner’ with a new ‘hashtag’ – #Jotainthelastminute . There’ll be more than a few pints spilled on Saturday if he manages to get on the pitch at some point and do what only he can do.

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It does what it says

I’ll forgive Jota anything.Nobody needs another moan from me about hashtags and, frankly, I’m too excited about the prospect of seeing our man back in action to even (overly) mention the likes of #beardclub or #bignewambitions .

Instead, let’s hope it’s a phrase that can start trending at 4.50 on Saturday night. Dean Smith has been talking about his brand of exciting football in the midweek press conferences – here’s the perfect opportunity to see that in action.

And if it sets Mark Burridge off, then all the better…

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Will it be Jota in the 90th minute….again?