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Shoulda Woulda Coulda. Mixed bag of results leaves it tense at the top.

21 Mar

Two points dropped or another gained in a performance that was streets ahead of that second half no show on Tuesday? Brentford held 1-1 by Nottingham Forest in a game that arguably we could have won , given the chances created, or making further ground on Swansea City who lost at home to Cardiff City? The gap between us a solitary point. The huge fly in our ointment being a Watford team who won, again, and are now looking to make their own insurmountable assault on second place. A position they currently occupy with a 7(seven) point advantage over the Bees, albeit having played an extra game. With so many Brentford fans fixated on the potential 8 point lead available to the Swans after the dog’s dinner we served up at Coventry (how are those maths working out?), how many stopped to focus on The Hornets as the main danger threat to our automatic aspirations? They’ve been chipping away with win after win after win and now, all of a sudden, have found quite the clear air between second and third place as their rivals’ current milieu has been one more favouring draws and defeats.

The final score – as seen on Brentford official.

Our own game started so brightly. Ivan Toney scoring yet another from the penalty spot. It was as stonewall as they come in the decision making stakes. As ice cool as ever in the execution. Another one rolled into the bottom corner, taking the Championship’s leading scorer up to 28 from 37 games. Twelve minutes gone and Brentford ahead. Nottingham Forest on the ropes and doing well to stay alive. Mbeumo could have done better. Dalsgaard had a a glorious chance. The pressure building and the approach play suggesting more was to come.

Our visitors limited to a half-arsed penalty shout of their own that had both sets of players laughing and earned Alex Mighten nothing more than a yellow card for his trouble. The Tricky Tree less felled in the box and more needing to smooth over the rough edges on his Tom Daley tribute act.

Perfect 10s for effort, if not executionthe GPG at the right place on the screen grabs for this ‘penalty’ analysis

But let’s not get cocky here. Dominant though Brentford were, it had the feel of a game that needed more than one goal got make it safe. Half time came and went with the thought that taking one of those additional chances in the opening period might have eased stress levels in the environs of TW8. Calmed some strained nerves as the inevitable happened just after the hour. Mathias Jensen losing out to Bong after the Forest player manhandled his way through and past our man before releasing the ball forward. Brentford still had enough back to cover but Winston Reid could only guide his clearance straight to Filip Krovinovic close in. Ping. The ball was returned with interest straight back in the direction from which it came, straight past the defender and straight past David Raya in nets. 1-1. Well done. That play had been allowed to continue after the assault on Jensen a cause of huge frustration (and that’s the polite term) but, frankly, we still should have had the nous to cut that one out. Instead, the visitors handed out the consummate lesson in taking your chance when it comes.

This was not a park the bus exercise either. Progress was hard, as much through our own decision making, but there were still chances to seal it. Substitutes Ghoddos and Fosu who, personally speaking, should have come on much earlier, both coming close. Mbeumo had already had a glorious chance, foiled only by time quite wonderful defending. It had seemed an odd on goal after the square ball across the face from Ivan but, instead, a last gasp challenge saw a corner the best we could salvage. And then with almost the last kick of the game Toney saw his own deflection assisted shot go just the wrong side of the post. So near yet so far. 1-1 it finished. Forest good value and deserving of their point. Brentford left frustrated. Twitter given a wide berth. Frankly, life’s too short to read that in the heat of the aftermath.   

Checks for #Frankout

Sunday morning. Time to pick up the pieces once more. To read match reports and see what Thomas had to say for himself. His key take away being that, “this was close to a spotless performance in every aspect, we defended well, created chances, pressed forward and first half we should have been 2-0 up“.

Well yes, he’s right from many respects. Shoulda Woulda Coulda, though. Chances don’t win games, strikers do. Or, at least, goal scorers. Any other day at least one of those probably goes in and the game is safe. But it didn’t. It was today. Not the other 9 times out of 10. And it’s agonising. As much as anything else because we know how last season played out when opportunity knocked. That’s the obvious downside and the place people are likely to gravitate towards. It’s football. We’re pessimists. We’ve been here many, many times. Dont even start me on there W place in North London.

Personally speaking, I’m of the more optimistic school of thought. It goes without saying I’d prefer to be in the position Watford find themselves, even though they have played that additional game. Yet they aren’t home and hosed yet. Anything but. Let’s not forget they still need to come to Lionel Road in the penultimate game of the campaign. That’s before they host Swansea City.  We win that one and our game in hand over them then the gap is a solitary point. Imagine actually needing a favour off Swansea at the end of all this? 

I can’t really think that way. This is on us still. We still have the time and potential on our side. There are still 9 games to play. That’s a fifth of the season as near as makes no difference. This campaign still has SO much football left in it. We’ll call it after game 46. Not after a result that doesn’t go our way. 

Everybody now gets the chance to reset and recover. Hopefully our internationals will all be suffering from niggles that cause their precautionary resting from World Cup qualification and U-21 duty. We’ve still got Josh Dasilva and Rico Henry to return. Hopefully this season . Hopefully soon. Along with Ivan they are two of the best players in the division, let alone this team. Name me any Championship side that could honestly say it was better without players of their calibre? Well, we all know the answer to that and whilst lamenting their absence won’t help anyone, I’d love if they play some significant role in that final run in. Fingers crossed the anti-gravity treadmill, or whatever else they are hooked up to, is doing its thing.

Until then, time to try and chill for a bit. There are two weeks until the next round of fixtures. We’ve got the Mark Devlin derby at Huddersfield on Easter Saturday. The day before, Watford host Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea go to Birmingham City.  Fingers crossed that’s a Good Friday. For Brentford.

For a moment, it looked like we’d have comfortable afternoon. Sadly, this was the only chance taken

Nick Bruzon

Amazingly, this stat seems true – and I don’t like it.

19 Mar

Brentford host Nottingham Forest on Saturday lunchtime. The game live on Sky with a 12.30 kick off. The Bees looking to bounce back from the 2-2 draw with Wayne Rooney’s Derby County on Tuesday night. A game we could, maybe should, have been out of sight in by half time. Instead, our PMA got on the coach early and a second half no show saw us hanging on for 45 minutes before succumbing to the inevitable equaliser. Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it but there’s nothing we can do now except kick on and go ag, ag, ag, once more. Elsewhere, there was amazing news on the international front with nothing but plaudits for Ethan Pinnock and Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa but still a Bee in our hearts) earning call ups for Jamaica and England respectively.

First World problems, eh? The sort most teams would love. Automatic is still well within our control, should we find our mojo. It seemed to be well back after the game at Blackburn and the opening period against Derby. Then, inconsistency struck. For Thomas Frank, selection headaches, of the nicest sort at centre-back. Pontus, Winston and Ethan Pinnock are all fit. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, as popular music’s Meatloaf once sung. So will we dispense with full backs and go for the lot? Then there’s the perennial question of Fosu v Canos. The former at least attempted to inject some of the zest that had so sadly gone awol from the rest of the team when he came on. Sergi had already added to his goal haul. 

Yet perhaps the biggest conundrum is how Bryan Mbeumo rediscovers his spark? There, perhaps, the greatest enigma of all. He seems to be either amazing our anonymous. Like Sergi, Thomas Frank has persisted, perhaps in the hope that he will also return to last season’s consistent brilliance. With one game to go before the break I am sure we will see more of the same.

Flying Bryan is a joy to behold

That’s me. Flying Bryan was an integral part of the BMW that got us so close last time out. We’ve readjusted to life without Ollie Watkins just wonderfully, Ivan Toney scoring at an even more prodigious rate than the now Aston Villa man, but our approach play has felt, if not laboured, then certainly off the pace at times compared to last season. Then again, we’re a different team. The emergence of Vitaly Janelt in the middle a joy to behold. With Christian Norgaard fit again, those two have immediately formed a quite wonderful partnership. Questions as to whether they can play together well answered. When Josh Dasilva is fit once more we could have quite the line. Regardless of individuals, that return from injury can’t come soon enough. Whomever else is picked, a fit Josh is a guaranteed starter.

As for Nottingham Forest, well…. I heard a stat on this week’s Prutton’s Predictions podcast for Sky Sports claiming that ‘own goals’ was their leading scorer. Surely not? Well, a check of the stats sees 29 scored in the league, 25 named players getting them and Lyle Taylor leading the pack on 4. Meaning that, at the least, o.g.s would seem to be joint top. 

Urghh. I hate these sort of nuggets. Much like Derby not scoring in four games before we played them, the sort of thing that can only come back to haunt you. Either Grabban or Taylor (and talk about the DoFs making the right transfer selection there) to get a hatful or one to go in off Henrik’s backside and further strengthen o.g’s claim for the Forest golden boot.  Please note: by Henrik, substitute ‘anyone’. For once, a jinx free game of regular football would be just wonderful. It’s Brentfoird, innit? A moniker I’d love if we could dispense with as we enter this final run of fixtures.

Cripes,  I can’t call this. Even though I have on the aforementioned podcast. Let’s just wait to see what plays out. One last push before International break. The dream of three points at the forefront of the mind and then, once more, hoping Watford and Swansea care to fall over in their games at home to Birmingham City and Cardiff respectively. If ever there was a time to prove you are ten times better…

Come for the podcast, stay for the stats (and dodgy predictions)

Nick Bruzon

Three players this club must sign. The one vote you must make.

26 Jan

Waking up on Tuesday morning it suddenly hit me. The transfer window is open and has been for weeks. Even better, the transfer window shuts on Friday night yet Brentford haven’t even come close to being mentioned in one of those ‘the three players this club must sign’ non-stories that website 72, flw and the other few clickbait-mongers seem to print every ten seconds. Move along, nothing to see hear. We’ve a huge game with Swansea City tomorrow night whilst over at the City Ground there’s a chance for us to all prove that, sometimes, we’re bigger than any club rivalries which may exist. That sometimes, we need to join together to stop a common foe – the likes of Boris Johnson and Piers Morgan. The pair lining up with Simon Cowell and Rishi Sunak, amongst others, to stop one Nottingham Forest fan scooping one of the greatest awards currently available to mortal man. The Heatworld ‘Secretcrush 2021’ award.

First up, the transfer window. If anything, we’ve been clearing the decks. Turkish striker Halil Dervişoğlu has joined Galatasaray on loan until the end of the season. Thomas Frank told ‘official’ that “Halil is a young player that we have a lot of belief in and one we think has a big future at Brentford,“ but cited competition for places with Ivan Toney and Marcus Forss as a crucial reason in the decision to send him out at this stage in his career. The showing against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup suggested this may well be true but having already spent loan time at FC Twente, one does have to wonder if it is the last we have seen? Only time will tell there.

Dervişoğlu – image shamelessly lifted from ‘official’

About the only thing I’ve seen suggesting anything inward came at the end of the game with Leicester City on Sunday. Adam Devlin and Rob Davies both calling this one. Is Daniel Amartey set to join? Surely this was nothing more than a catch up with a player who spent two years playing in Denmark with FC Copenhagen? Given how close Brentford keep our cards to the chest, not even we’d be this unsubtle? At the same time Amartey, along with Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw, is one of three players this club must sign in the current transfer window. D’oh!! 

In all seriousness though, the longer we avoid those sort of headlines the better. Rico Henry is undoubtedly the best left back in the Championship, if not higher. Ethan Pinnock is winning plaudits everywhere. We already know of Arsenal’s interest in David Raya. Ivan Toney is top of the pops when it comes to Championship goals. To name but a few. All four players will be featured in the Panini sticker book next season. Of that, I have no doubt. All being well they won’t make that step up until the end of this campaign. With Brentford. Cripes, this Swansea game tomorrow is huge !

The other news was that surrounding Nottingham Forest supporter Matt Dyson. He has been nominated for Heatworld’s Secret Crush 2021 award. An honour bestowed on what they deem to be an unlikely sex symbol. “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach” goes the build up, helpfully continuing, “fellas come in all shapes, sizes and age brackets – which is why heat is once again giving you the power to choose the best of the unconventional bunch.”

Thanks, heat. However, look beyond the objectification of men and there’s a far more serious matter at stake. Namely that of stopping Piers Morgan. Or Boris Johnson. Along with Forest fan and Absolute radio DJ Dyson, they’ve both made a long list that also includes names as diverse and far reaching as Gary Lineker and Bill Bailey to Dec and Ant. Yet back to back winner Morgan is the one everybody wants to stop. Apparently. Don’t inflate his or Johnson’s ego any more than they already are. A vote for Dyson is a vote for blokish charm. A vote for common sense. A vote for, well, something. 

The link is here. Please give 30 seconds of your time and go for it. If you don’t, Boris might win. Piers could triumph. And that would be unbearable for followers of social media. Just don’t forget ‘untick the boxes’ asking if you’d like to read more. Unless of course, you would. 

Nick Bruzon

Frank out? You’re having a laugh. Another masterclass in squad use sees Bees win. Again.

13 Dec

2019/20 – After 18 games Brentford had picked up 27 points and were sitting 8th in the Championship table. We’d just gone down 1-0 at Blackburn Rovers. Fast forward a year and we’re 6th after the same number of games. The points total four better on 31. The Bees returning home following a 3-1 tonking of Nottingham Forest. Ivan Toney clear of Adam Armstrong in the race for the golden boot. His late strike blowing the beautiful curler from Josh Dasilva clean out of the water in any attempt to find goal of the day. All this, at a time we’re having to rest/rotate the squad as often as we’re playing games, given the two a week schedule we’re currently racing through. With the televised trip to Watford next up on Tuesday, be sure of more to come. Likewise, be sure of more moaning. Seriously! The announcement of yesterday’s team the latest place where the more unhappy element of our fanbase came to the fore in the replies. Frank out. Yeah!! 

Some of those replies…. !!??

We talked about this after the game Blackburn game. We’ve a club here doing so much for their fans. Look at the way we’ve rallied around Jamie Powell and those before him who have found themselves in the most unimagineable situations. A club doing so much in the local community.  A club set up for ongoing growth. A club that is better placed this season (points/table) than at any other time in our Championship life. A club that don’t have an unlimited supply of funds yet are spending, selling and reinvesting in unspotted talent in a style that makes us the envy of the football world.

Yet there are still fans who seem to relish being able to slag off players before a ball has even been kicked. Demanding ‘Frank out’ (are they SERIOUS ?) with nothing more blatant than pure pleasure as a cause for doing so . The treatment of Sergi this season has been horrific. Emiliano last time out. He seems to be flavour of the month once more. 

We win and lose as a squad. Those of us with eyes have been under no illusions that squad play has been essential. Will continue to be so. Thomas has been unequivocal about his need to make multiple substitutions per game. Before and during. There will be times when we see players start that we think would be better placed on the bench and vice-versa. That’s football. Its all about opinions. But for a squad and head-coach that is so well placed to come under such constant attack from certain quarters is utterly baffling. 

And we go again

I’ve seen us when we genuinely shit. This is nowhere near it. I’m not using ‘we used to be broke’ as the sole excuse to appreciate what we’ve got now. It’s massively important to know your history and remember where we’ve come from but that’s only part of it. No player will ever be 10/10 game after game. No squad has a divine right to win every match. We’ve said this so many times before but its true. So suck it up. 

Benrahma has gone and, whilst I’d love him back here still (who wouldn’t) we’re still scoring goals for fun. To be 11 unbeaten and still carving out the wins is nothing short of incredible given the intense physical pressure the players are under. It may not always be the 100mph football of last season and it may, sometimes, be a horror show to sit through (Middlesbrough and Derby anybody…) but we’re finding our groove. We’re finally into our new home. We’re three points off automatic. We’ve just obliterated Nottingham Forest. We’ve just seen Ivan Toney score one of THE goals. Highlights below.

It went up as high as it went forward. The hoof (and there is no other word for it) from Janelt coming down with snow on it. Ivan keeping his eye on the ball all the way through to beat his man and fire a quite exquisite finish home on the half-volley. There are no words to really do it justice. Just watch again. And again.

To think, Nottingham Forest ended up with Lyle Taylor. Both our clubs heavily linked with both players over the summer. Safe to say we’ve got the good end of that deal. Frank out. Sack the board. Where’s the money, Benham?   

Before that, Henrik Dalsgaard had opened the scoring early for a much changed Brentford line up. We still played the same way. We still tried to pour forward as we’d done against Blackburn. We still created chances but this time, unlike the Derby game, they went in.

There could have been more. Mbeumo coming close whilst Ivan Toney almost scored a first half wonder goal after connecting with an inch perfect cross from Emiliano and seeing his acrobatic effort swoop just over. In the end, it was Josh Dasilva who double the lead late on with a left-footed curler from the corner of the box after Sergi Canos continued his red hot streak with another assist. It was a goal that would have been the moment of the match, had Ivan not come along and done his own thing minutes later. Frank out !

Ivan comes close in the first half after postman perfect delivery from Emiliano

Next up, a trip to Watford on Tuesday night. I’d love to be there but we’ve no hope. Urgh. Corona. Then, assuming there is no change to the London tiering, we’ve another 2,000 fans able to get a taste of Lionel Road when Reading visit at the weekend. With both teams above us, these games are real six-pointers. A chance to reel in the promotion pack and perhaps even hit those automatic spots.

What a fantastic opportunity awaits. With Newcastle United to come in the league cup quarter-finals, life is definitely looking up on the pitch. For most of us.

Nick Bruzon 

Another excellent bit of business for the future.

7 Oct

The transfer window has shut. Kind of. Whilst it has now closed for international registration, there’s still an additional two week extension agreed between the EFL and Premier league. Meaning 5pm next Friday, 16 October, is when Brentford fans hoping Said Benrahma will stay can relax. That hasn’t stopped us moving though, with very welcome news coming out of Lionel Road yesterday. In the Championship, Nottingham Forest L have moved quickly to arrest their current run of anti-form by replacing Abril Lamouchi with former Bee Chris Hughton. This does not bode well for the rest of the division. And there’s been a twist in the tail in regards to yesterday’s piece about Arsenal terminating their mascot, Gunnersaurus. None other than Mesut Ozil has stepped in to the breach whilst very much painting his club into a corner.

First up, as ever, Brentford. Josh Dasilva has signed a contract extension that ties him to the club until 2024. Like David Raya last week, he has committed to another four years and this is just wonderful news. The midfielder has been in magnificent form this season (like Sergi Canos, one of our outstanding players so far) but, to be fair, this is something that has been growing and growing since he turned down the offer of a contract with Arsenal in August 2018 and headed West.

Throwback to Josh joining

We all know what Josh can do, of course. Those goals from the edge of the box have fast become a trademark and are much more the norm than an ad-hoc nicety. Thomas Frank summed things up succinctly when talking to ‘official’ yesterday, noting: “His running and his pressing are getting better and better and he is taking responsibility defensively. He is magnificent on the ball; he can dictate a game and he scores goals. I expect there is even more to come from him”. 

Well put. Josh really is another of those who could go all the way. He made his England Under-21 debut against Austria last month and, I am sure, will go on to make more. He’s in the squad for tonight’s game in Andorra and the fixture with Turkey next week. On current form, I’d expect him to make the bench at the very least this evening. Yet another tick in the box for our ongoing ability to attract the very best under-the-radar young talent. A demonstration that taking the time to invest in individuals continues to reap rewards. Congratulations Josh. Looking forward to seeing you continue in action for Brentford. And England.

Great news for the Bees

Next up, Benrahma. The saga that never ends. The transfer window is closed but it isn’t. Players can still leave the EFL for the top flight although who will have the cash to spend, I wonder? If anyone. Brentford have made no secret of playing hard ball over our most coveted stars. Ollie Watkins cost Aston Villa £33m whilst look at the whole Raya / Arsenal story – we had no desire or need to sell. The price had to be very right. And it wasn’t. 

Wilfried Zaha is still at Crystal Palace so does that mean their alleged interest in Said is over?   Who knows. I’m not even sure I follow this convoluted system of staggered windows which are closed but still open depending on where you play. All I can say is that this is sure to remain a tense few weeks – for the top flight. I can’t see Said going anywhere. Not now. With Julian Jeanvier amongst those already out on loan, the squad was further trimmed yesterday with news that Jan Zamburek (Shrewsbury) and Halil Dervisoglu (FC Twente) have also left Brentford in the short term. 

It goes without saying I’d love him to stay. Sergi has filled his boots in some, albeit different, style although there’s nobody on earth who can do what the Algerian can. The Spaniard has certainly given it his all whilst that ball through to Bryan Mbeumo for our opener against Preston on Sunday (yes, we were actually winning at one point) was as much Seve Ballesteros as it was Sergi Canos . Absolute perfection. Yet Said is a unique talent and when he does stay, I can’t wait to see how Thomas will fit them both into his starting XI. Good luck with that ! In the nicest sense.

Next up, Nottingham Forest. How deep are their pockets? How can they afford it all? Having splashed the cash over the summer, their start has been somewhat less than electric. Asbri Lamouchi paid the price yesterday but was replaced within what felt like minutes by none other than our friend Chris Hughton. It was a brutal hit. Efficient. Ruthless. Clean. Lamouchi’s chair still warm and spinning as the ex-Brentford man sat down to sign his new up for his stint at the City Ground.

Cripes. It’s a good appointment. Very good. Chris has more than earned his stripes in the Championship and the Premier League in the past I’d really thought we might have seen him in the Griffin Park hotseat. Certainly, it would have been an appointment welcomed although we’ve gone a different route these days. And I’m glad we have, having long been an admirer of Thomas Frank’s style and approach. However, Forest fans should be ecstatic about this one. If nothing else, surely they’ll get a more exciting style of football and a man who knows how to get out of the division. 

Hopefully, for him, upwards rather than outwards. Forest certainly have a Leeds United / Real Madrid approach to managerial appointments. Prior to this news, including caretakers and short term appointments there have been 20 previous incumbents since since Billy Davies’ (first spell) came to an end in June 2011.  Good luck, Chris.. On and doff pitch. Although not too good! 

And finally, Arsenal. Not David Raya but the story yesterday of how, as part of a cost cutting exercise, the club had dismissed the man behind mascot Gunnersaurus after 23 years. Shameful stuff. This, despite their then splashing  of £45million on Thomas Partey and then, even worse, using a… signing hashtag. Urgh, set phasers for cringe and prepare for #NoThomasNoPartey

Yet who should ride to the rescue than club star Mesut Ozil? He took to social media where he declared, in what is royally the single trending topic of yesterday: I was so sad that Jerry Quy aka our famous & loyal mascot @Gunnersaurus and integral part of our club was being made redundant after 27 years. As such, I’m offering to reimburse @Arsenal with the full salary of our big green guy as long as I will be an Arsenal player…   

No pressure there then, Gunners. Having made this quite astounding decision in the first place, they were always going to be subject to a significant level of  public outcry. Like Kingsley at Partick Thistle, Gunnersaurus has an almost universal appeal in the football world. That rare example of being able to transcend club boundaries without the need for a (shudders) half and half scarf. Now the club are being put in a position where they have to make an embarrassing backtrack or put a small entry on the balance sheet ahead of this fan favourite.

Who doesn’t love seeing a PR shambles with a happy ending? It’s a fairly safe bet Jerry will be back in the suit soon.

Nick Bruzon

What happened off pitch showed our true colours. Regardless of the result.

2 Feb

My word. Brentford do it again – win handsomely, that is. My words Leeds United do it again – fall apart, that is. A day that began with our tonking Hull City 5-1 and further enhancing a goal difference ratio that could prove so crucial at the business end of the season, ended with defeats for Nottingham Forest (at Birmingham City, of all places) and the aforementioned Whites. Their latest debacle taking place at home to Wigan Athletic – something I’m fairly sure happened last season, too. Yet, really, the day was all about one man – Saïd Benrahma. The hat-trick, the celebrations, the emotion, the reaction of Thomas Frank. All this, of course, following the very recent death of his father.

There can’t be anybody at Griffin Park, or beyond, who wasn’t moved by what happened. To lose a loved one is about as heart-breaking as they come. Saïd’s return to the team for the Nottingham Forest game on Tuesday ended with the player sitting on the pitch in tears – the emotion seemingly still so raw. There was emotion yesterday, too, but of a different kind.  Benrahma playing out of his skin to secure another hat-trick for Brentford – his previous one also coming against Hull City. Each goal greeted with him pointing to the sky and a reveal of his under shirt showing the message – ‘JE T’AIME PAPA’. 

Screenshot 2020-02-01 at 14.05.55

Brentford ‘official’ capture the moment on Twitter

Referee Darren Bond left no choice but to enforce football’s stupidest rule and book him the first time he did this, with his blue shirt being fully removed. Whilst one would have hoped he might have chosen not to have seen the incident, it was a case of Bond or Benrahma. The man in the middle elected to cover his own backside and pulled out a yellow card in case anybody was watching on from the stands.

Sometimes you’ve got to take that hit and do what you need to, though. The whole of the Brentford family was behind Benrahma. Thomas Frank giving his man a huge hug that set off just about any last stragglers in TW8 who hadn’t as yet succumbed to the significance of the moment.

We talk so often about our togetherness as a club, as supporters, as friends, as a family. Here it was in bucketloads. Thomas the physical embodiment of this huge outpouring of love being directed towards the Algerian  – whether in the stands, in front of the TV or on social media. Thomas the head coach but, more importantly, Thomas the man to show once more the wonderful connection he has with his players.  

To see this coming together got me, I don’t mind admitting. Seeing the pair of them walk around the pitch at full time week in, week out is always a wonderful moment. They have a stunning connection with the supporters. Smiles, hugs, high fives and selfies – and we’ve had all from both this season –  are common place. There’s no slinking off and nobody missed out with at least a wave and an acknowledgement. We see the effort and love they both put into the game but this embrace summed it all up in a nutshell.   

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 06.31.42

Thomas giving some big love

As for Hull city, well – they were either going to react to losing their two star players in the transfer window at 100mph or collapse. We got the later. A cautious opening few minutes then saw the game explode into life. Benrahma opening proceedings with a curling shot from the edge of the box and we were away. Ollie Watkins soon doubled the lead with just 20 minutes gone. Or, rather, Hull’s Reece Burke did as he attempted to head the goal bound effort clear. Instead, he somehow directed it into the net. 0-2, game over and possible brackets . Surely?

Of course not. This is football. This is Brentford. This is the place where, at least with the supporters, those inner demons still lurk. A game is never comfortable until we are four or five up. Ryan Tafazolli punting one from close to half way in the direction of David Raya. It wasn’t particularly powerful or bobbly yet, somehow, it went under his foot and in. So innocuous an effort was it that the stats didn’t even deem it to be a hot on goal but they all count.

Oh well. The way the commentary team banged on about if for the next hour you’d have thought that anything similar had never happened before. You’d have missed the fact that only Liverpool have conceded less goals than us this season in the top four English divisions. Still, with Hull offering nothing else whatsoever I guess there had to be some talking point for them.

1-2 and Brentford ahead at half time. It was a score we’d all have taken prior to kick off. It was a score that was then obliterated in the second half. Rico Henry doing magnificent work down the left channel to volley a cross directly onto Ollie Watkins’ head. 1-3 and this time it was game over. Except Saïd had unfinished business. Two more goals followed, each one with another reveal of the shirt although his playing kit stayed firmly on.

The hat-trick clincher culminating a quite magnificent passing move in which Jensen performed a 360 turn and move of the purest filth. Kudos to him. It was a thing of absolute beauty. “Oh, my. I hope they score from here. Just for that” was my comment to Mrs. Bruzon and HB watching alongside. Sure enough, they did. In a game that was once more overshadowed by our well-documented BMW, it was great so see the Jensen Interceptor dominating the middle of the park.

Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 07.25.43

The Sky graphics team having a moment – Surname 85 playing alongside Trialist 89

All in all, it was about as wonderful a lunchtime as one could have hoped for. Then the other teams did their thing. Ok, Fulham won – but they did their level best to throw away an early 3 goal lead and were left hanging on at the end. West Bromwich Albion secured the win (not a typo) although they were at home to basement club Luton Town. Yet it was at Elland Road and St. Andrews where the truly bizarre happened. If you can call Leeds United falling apart ‘truly bizarre’ – these days it seems to be happening more often than Mrs. Browns Boys winning comedy awards.

Their latest self-destruct happening at home to Wigan Athletic as they went down 0-1. Patrick Bamford needing to polish his shooting boots, by all accounts. Ironically, Wigan being the club and game they had the opportunity to wrap up promotion against last season, before they fell apart when a goal and a man up at Elland Road.

Ah, we can joke. Not that I can imagine anybody in Leeds is laughing (but enough about the recording session for Mrs. Browns Boys). They’re still too far ahead and there’s no way they’ll throw it away this time. Is there?

As for Nottingham Forest, having grabbed the initiative from Brentford midweek they promptly there it away at Birmingham City  – the club fast replacing Wycombe as the home for retired Bees. There were four  featured yesterday – Maxime Colin, Josh McEachran, Harlee Dean and Scott Hogan. It was the later of these who levelled things up before the home side secured all three points (not a typo). 

All in all, a sound afternoon that shows the only certain thing about the Championship is that nothing is certain. We’re five points off second placed Leeds United, whose next two games are away – at Nottingham Forest and then, erm, Griffin Park. 

Could it be time for Big Bee Radio to start warming up the Joy Division? No pressure, Patrick.…

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Last season’s form at home to Wigan…

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…continued at home to Wigan

Nick Bruzon

Penalty? This is football, not Frozen.

30 Jan

Big love and huge thanks to all at Nottingham Forest. The reaction to the column on their victory at Brentford on Tuesday night was top draw. The jist of the piece being that the ref had a stinker, Brice Samba wasted a LOT of time and started it early, that Forest played to a plan and, ultimately, were both quicker and stronger than us when it counted in a game of very few chances. They got a goal. We didn’t. They won the game. Well done. Well done everyone. They deserved it. That’s how football works

Yet the ‘not mentioning’ of a penalty that wasn’t given after Lewis Grabban fell over in the box during the second half was what has provoked an outburst of self-righteousness that I’ve not seen in a long, long time. Yes, in reaction to my piece but also on social media in general. My word, get over it. And then just when you thought they had, up popped another one. Let it go. This is football, not Frozen. I’ve not seen a saltier reaction from a bunch of supporters since Birmingham City were thumped 5-0 after Harlee Dean and his infamous 10 times better comments. 

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Nottingham, yesterday

Here’s the thing. If Forest fans are, for some reason, so desperate for me to include an opinion on a non-incident in a game that they won then I’m happy to give it. Gut reaction in the stadium was in line with them. The usual comments were made in such a situation, “Move along, nothing to see here”. Honestly, I thought we’d dodged a potential bullet. But then no surprise given the ‘performance’ of referee Tim Robinson who was the only person letting just about everything go. Including the ongoing time wasting. 

Yet on reflection, and having seen the challenge once more from the more relaxed confines of the sofa once I’d got home, revised opinion is that this was 50/50. At best. Sure, the players touched but this is football. A physical game. Something the visitors were so keen to demonstrate for huge swathes. Grabban goes down but there’s certainly no shove or trip. It wasn’t penalty but just another non-incident in a game that was an insomniacs wet dream. A turgid flat pancake of a performance that needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history and which Thomas Frank will have to use as a learning curve in order to get Brentford back to their best. The opposition didn’t sit back and roll over ; we had no answer to their advance. That’s a fact. 

Of course Forest fans think it was a penalty. It was a 50/50 so you will only lean towards your own team in that situation. But it wasn’t. Sadly for them.  If anything, and don’t cry, should Robinson have deemed it to be a non-penalty then really Grabban should have been booked for simulation. That’s not me being a bitch but the rules of the game. That’s also a fact.

The Ironic thing was that I actually used my programme column to big up Nottingham Forest and their supporters. Genuinely, I’ve a lot of love for the club. Very much one that those of us over a certain age grew up watching and who dominated early 80s football. The exact words used being, “Yet all of this achieved without the sense of entitlement shared by the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal supporters. With a level of modesty so missing from those watching their respective ‘miracle ofs..’ from the Anfield Kop.

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From Tuesday’s programme column

Hmm. I stand corrected. Certainly based on the post match whining and moaning all over social media. Honestly, I don’t care and don’t mind. It’s football and of course fans have an opinion. Of course supporters will see the good in their team and turn a blind eye to the other stuff. Frankly, it gave an additional nudge to visitors on the blog site (Perhaps the hit-seekers at sites such as Football League World need to follow suit rather than write another ‘Three things you do/don’t need to know about three players who will/won’t be a big addition to your club’ piece). So big thanks there.

It just got me thinking of what they’d have been like had something gone against them. Had they even lost the game. But they didn’t. And you know what, I hope Forest do keep this up. Their winning ways and style, that is. With games against West Brom and Leeds United coming up, they could be just what we need to soften up our divisional rivals. If nothing else, and the play-offs looking like potential options for both teams, who knows how valuable both this and their similarly achieved 1-0 win at The City Ground back in October may prove to be in the long run.

That is, assuming Leeds don’t fall apart. Again.

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October’s game was just as rigid

Nick Bruzon

 

Monsieur Lamouchi’s Boys do what they need. Ref loses cards and watch.

29 Jan

That was awful. Horrific. A brutal assault on the senses that despite there being, technically, a winner nobody could honestly admit to taking any pleasure from. The crowd favourite somehow pushed into second place. But enough about Mrs. Brown’s Boys beating Fleabag to the best comedy award in last night’s National Television Awards. At Griffin Park, Brentford went down 0-1 to Nottingham Forest in a game that made Brendan O’Carroll’s alter-ego seem like the height of cultural sophistication. The only consolation to be taken was the confirmation at full time that West Bromwich Albion had continued their awful form as they lost to Cardiff City. Even Leeds United picked up 3 points (not a typo) although had to come from 0-2 down at home to Millwall. 

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How could this happen?

Just like at the NTA ceremony, there was nobody laughing at Griffin Park. A game of few chances saw the visitors bludgeon us into submission with all the subtlety of a man in a wig and cardigan masquerading as an alleged popular Irish mammy. With Nottingham Forest time wasting and fouling from the off, referee Tim Robinson needed to get a grip on things immediately. It was something he failed spectacularly to do. Assisted by fourth official Keith Stroud and two linesmen who may aswell have not been there, Sabri Lamouchi’s boys were allowed to run riot – and they did. Why not? We’d have done the same. Play the conditions. If the referee has left his cards, glasses and watch at home then you’d be a fool to ignore that.

That’s not to be overly sour, although obviously it will come over that way should any away fans stumble across this page. Brentford were well, well below their best. It’s been a long time since we’ve been up against such stern opposition and, sadly, we couldn’t find a way through. Forest pressed tight and were quick on the break. Any attempt at creativity was snuffed out before it could begin. The Bees looking off the pace and stifled for huge swathes of this game, unable to adjust to the situation.

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A rare moment of space under the lights

In a game of few chances, the only goal came early. Joe Lolley left unmarked on the edge of the box and his weak shot from a corner took a wicked deflection off of Julian Jeanvier to loop past David Raya. Urghh. Less than a quarter hour gone and on the back foot. The clock already being run down with Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba soon booked for time wasting. Mr. Robinson then appearing to lose his cards as Brentford were given no protection or help. Left to fend for ourselves, we couldn’t cope. As one Braemar Road observer would later put it, Sammy Ameobi on Rico Henry was like watching Mick Fleetwood and Samantha Fox at the Brit Awards. Now that, unlike O’Carroll and his brood, WAS comedy. Albeit of the unintentional variety.

Being quite honest, the six point nature of the game didn’t even cross my mind once proceedings had got under way. It was just another match and one in which, sadly, we fluffed our lines after having the usual script ripped up. If only Mrs. Brown could do the same. Forest did exactly what they needed to and so took the points. That’s how football works. They are the ones now sitting just two points behind West Bromwich Albion. We’re the team in fifth. All the looking at the table and gnashing of teeth isn’t going to change that today. All the frustration at the officials just  wasted energy that can never be claimed back. 

Peter Gilham’s subtle as a brick announcements towards the end of the game telling us all we needed to know. “The referee has indicated there will be just three minutes of additional time. Just three minutes” and deep into the 93rd, ”A substitution for Nottingham Forest”. It felt like even he’d had enough, with all his customary courtesy and enthusiasm long out of the window. Even the emphasis on “Thank you for your TIME” as the crowd was announced saying more than any match report could.

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The referee and his assistant ignored all reminders of both the rules and timekeeping

Just about the only positives to be taken are another defeat for West Brom and more of that Leeds United leaky defence. That said, even they had the temerity to regain top spot after that comeback at home to Millwall and are surely, now, over their huge wobble. Surely?

Thomas Frank summed it up nicely at full time, using his interview to note that “From minute one you could see they wanted to make it a slow and scrappy game..we didn’t handle that well enough today.” HB in the Braemar Road cutting to the chase almost as eloquently…. 

He’s already watched far too much football for a six year old..

There’s nothing else to say this morning. Well done Nottingham Forest, I suppose. They took the points and rightly celebrated. The important thing being what we learn from this and where we go from here. Hull City being the obvious answer. A televised clash on Saturday lunchtime being the next test for Team Thomas. 

Let’s hope the Tigers prove to be bigger Fleabags than Monsieur Lamouchi’s Boys. I could do without another unpopular victory. Until then, here’s the ‘highlights’..

Nick Bruzon

Can anyone better LFC? Tuesday’s game is HUGE.

28 Jan

Here we go!! Forget Saturday and Leicester. It’s been and gone. THIS is currently about as big as it gets. Brentford host Nottingham Forest at Griffin Park tonight. Both teams locked firmly into the play off zone and knowing that a win for either side will take them third in the Championship table. With the two teams in the choke zone both facing tricky fixtures – Leeds United at home to Millwall and West Bromwich Albion visiting Cardiff City – there is the added incentive of knowing that victory could narrow the gap to the clubs currently set on ‘self-destruct’ even further. Yet with the visitors sitting one point ahead of the Bees after playing their long overdue ‘game in hand’, focus on our own game has to be the priority.

We all know what this one means. We know that Griffin Park is a sell out or as close as it can be to one – albeit, do check  the ticket office and resale website if there are any last moment aspirations to attend. We all know that the place is going to be absolutely rocking. FA Cup action has given us a bonus ‘Brentford night’ and with just ten games to go at our famous home, what better way to spend it than under lights?

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Griffin Park under lights is always special

Seriously, I cannot wait for this one. Whilst I am as confident as ever heading in to the game, one can’t underplay the significance of the occasion. Mrs. Bruzon and I are currently tossing the coin to see who gets to go and who stays at home with H (if his teacher is reading) 😉

It has all the potential to be season defining. Brentford on fire at present with a recent home record of WWWWWW in the Championship. Nottingham Forest very much the club of the moment as they have reasserted their early season form to climb back into the mix.

Now, like the Bees, they are looking upwards. Fulham don’t play this week and so Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion are very much the targets. With the BBC reporting them to be injury free, we know we are going to be up against the best that Sabri Lamouchi has at his disposal.

Then again, Forest aren’t going to have it easy. Aside from doubts over Pontus Jansson and Mathias Jensen, expect Brentford to be back at our very strongest too. The FA Cup side performed magnificently at the weekend and offered HUGE potential for the very near future. Maybe even this season. Who knows how valuable the ‘big game’ experience they earned will prove to be as we head towards the business end of the campaign. 

At the same time there can’t be a manager in the Championship, or higher, who would turn down the opportunity to bring Thomas Frank’s super car back out of the garage. The combination of Benrahma, Mbeumo and Watkins like a Lamborghini Huracán Evo  crossed with a Chevrolet and powered by the Ferrari 812. I appreciate there’s probably a better analogy, if only somebody could find one, but the point being that this turbo charged threesome are still setting the division on fire.

Bryan has found the back of the net in his last five home league games, Ollie is top of the pops in the Championship goal scoring charts whilst Saïd is just Saïd. We know what he does.  And it is amazing. I can only imagine an even warmer and louder reception for the talismanic wideman than ever after his own awful news of last week. The universal applause on the 10th minute at the weekend showing just how close is is to all of us.

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Like a Lamborghini crossed with a Ferrari and Chevrolet – can anyone better LFC?

I’m not sure what else to add at this juncture. Millwall and Cardiff City doing the business, any form of business, would be huge. Brilliant. Likely to have the crowd singing as one – Leeds, Leeds are falling apart. Again. And it’s not often that happens. But that’s a nice to have . The need to have is getting the three points. And I can’t wait to find out how this one is going to play out.

Roll on kick off and see you there !!!

Nick Bruzon  

Tricky choices for the boss. Brutal words to a special Guest.

21 Jan

Oh my word. Would you believe it?. There were smiles all over Brentford last night after yet another favour going our way at the top of the Championship table. Stoke City hung on to beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at the Hawthorns, meaning the gap between ourselves and the top spot is locked in at six points. With the Baggies and Leeds United both to visit Griffin Park still, along with Nottingham Forest in a week’s time, the league continues to prove itself the most exciting in Europe. Elsewhere, some audio has emerged from the Dave Berry Breakfast show on Absolute Radio after a listener, Brian Guest, got in contact regarding Fulham and their clappers at the weekend.

First up, West Bromwich Albion. Oh my, Just when the Championship couldn’t get any more unexpected, it has. And then some. I have to be honest that watching this one on Sky last night, I couldn’t help but feel Stoke City were only moments away from collapsing after their early goal. Surely West Brom would find a way through? Surely? But no. Wave after wave of pressure was repelled as the Potters closed out the game in some style. It all looked so, so controlled by the end of it. The home side unable to penetrate and their record now stretching out to one win in eight league games. See also: Leeds United. 

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As it now stands on the BBC

All of which makes the point earned by Brentford on Saturday seem even more valuable than it did back then. Sure, 0-0 hardly reeks of glamour (on paper) but I’d take it over defeat any day of the week. I’m ecstatic about the way the top two keep on hitting ‘self-destruct’. How that once humungous lead is now becoming thinner by the week.

It all goes to make next week’s visit of Nottingham Forest to Griffin Park all the more crucial. The Tricky Trees sit just behind us. Level on points but some way back on goal difference. However, they have that all important additional opportunity that is provided by having played one game fewer. Whilst I’m a firm believer in the adage that points in the bag are better than games in hand, you can bet they’ll be bang up for what is a real six pointer.

If anything, the short term destiny of The Championship is very much in their hands. Aswell as the game at Brentford, their next five fixtures include a visit from Leeds United and a trip to West Bromwich Albion. On current form, a guaranteed six points. Ahh, if only football really was that simple. The positive news here being that if Brentford keep doing their thing, then something else will go in our favour. One of those three teams has no choice but to drop points. 

I’d go so far to say that, and whisper this in hushed tones, Tuesday is more important than the visit of Leicester City in the FA Cup this weekend. I love the tournament and am desperate to proceed but if the price of keeping our assault on the upper echelons of the table going is to keep our squad fresh and play some of the B-team, then name Jan Zamburek as captain right now. Return Emiliano Marcondes to the line up. Stick Luke Daniels between the posts.

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I’m all for this on Saturday

Who knows what Thomas is thinking about there. Who’d be a head coach? For all we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves, and play-off zone consolidation has to be the immediate aim, that narrowing gap to the top makes for the most tempting prize. Like Indiana Jones reaching for the idol, would we unleash all manner of mayhem and chaos if we made a grab for it? For me, it has to be worth the gamble of naming a less familiar starting XI in the cup. 

I’ll still be 100% behind the Bees and screaming support but wouldn’t be anywhere near as disappointed as I was at Arsenal when we saw Dean Smith’s initial line up for that one last season. Then, the campaign was fresh with a wonderful chance to make a name for ourselves. Now, we’re knee deep in the blood of our Championship rivals and looking to take down more. That has to be where the resources are ploughed. Unless, of course, the players are fit enough for another stint of four games in fourteen days (at least, my fingers only go up to ten). Whomever is named, both games represent wonderful opportunities and I can’t wait.

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Alan Judge pulls one back against Arsenal

Elsewhere, I was listening to national station Absolute Radio yesterday morning. Specifically, the Dave Berry breakfast show where our eponymous host, co-host / Nottingham Forest supporter Matt Dyson, and sports anchor Glenn Moore were contacted by a listener. Brian Guest.

On hearing his name my ears pricked up. If memory serves, he may have once had a body of work published in the Fulham match day programme when The Bees came to visit. Getting one (or three) past the editor to reflect on some of their lesser moments whilst under the guise of supporting the home club. Or something like that.

Dave had asked listeners to sum up their weekend, but in just six words. It’s a regular part of the Monday show and it seems Brian is an avid listener. He got in touch to share the update, “Fulham had clappers. Why? Why? Why?”

It was a question which clearly nudged the boundaries of curiosity, and common sense, as the results are below. Enjoy. Unless you support Fulham……

Nick Bruzon