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New season. New team. New kit? Here we go!

7 Aug

Finally. We’re off. Trains, possibly planes and a few automobiles will be filled with Brentford fans making the trip to Leicester City for Sunday afternoon’s 2pm kick off. Of course, it should have happened already but all we can say is that hopefully everyone enjoyed the carnival that caused our second Premier League season to be pushed back a day. Instead, Saturday was spent enduring Fulham and their clappers at home to Liverpool aswell as watching Everton pick up where they left off last season when going down to Chelsea. Sitting on the sidelines watching the others enjoy (or not) their moment on TV wasn’t the start we were hoping for after but better late than never. Today is the day. The game is on. 

Last season was immense. There aren’t the words to describe how much fun it was being a Brentford fan. How exciting. Although from all my summer reading, safe to say that Greville Waterman has given it his very best shot (available from all good booksellers now).  How our wonderful Brentford team took the Prem by the scruff of the neck from that opening night defeat of Arsenal to sit top of the pack. How we kicked on from there and, but for the injury to David Raya, might well have ended up in the realms of Fantasy Football.  

As it is, our final position of 13th was a huge achievement and above just about everybody’s predictions. A campaign where a wonderful start and finish bookended a downturn in results that, if nothing else, was a timely reminder that a season is played out over 38 games rather than a dozen. Where the trashing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the destruction of West Ham (twice) and Kurt Zouma, Pontus at Vicarage Road, the craziness of the 3-3 with Liverpool and the League game at Everton were amongst so many memorable moments. So many dreams that somehow came true. Now, we have the chance to do it all over again. 

Chelsea (a) up there with the very best moments of last season

We looked yesterday at the summer and personal plans for the season going forward – you can see that here. Today, it is all about the immediacy of the Leicester City game. About opponents who did the double over Brentford last season. Getting some payback would be extremely well received, that’s for sure.

Our hosts will, of course, be missing talismanic goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel who has signed for Nice. Ricardo Pereira and Harvey Barnes are also absent with injury whilst the rumours surrounding James Maddison and Wesley Fofana haven’t stopped circulating.

The Bees, on the other hand, are about as set as we can be. The injury enforced absence of Ethan Pinnock and Kris Ajer will see new signings Ben Mee and Aaron Hickey start this one. Pontus and Rico completing the defence in front of David Raya. A midfield trio of Norgaard, Janelt and Jensen will provide the ammo for our front three of Wissa, Bryan and Ivan Toney.  

It is as strong and exciting as one could hope for. Especially given the injuries and Christian Eriksen’s decision to sit on the Old Trafford bench. Ahh, money. One can’t knock an individual for their decision but the emotional investment made, and now left lying on the vomitary floor, still feels far too raw to be able to ignore.   

It’s over – but we’ll always have the green jacket

On the flip side, from our likely starting XI Wissa in particular is my man to watch. He had a storming end to the last season as he made the transition from squad player to first team regular. He really does provide a wonderful outlet, breaking forward with pace and desperate to perform his trademark goal celebration. The passion is there for all to see. The enthusiasm and the ability to match. More of that would be incredible. 

Those Martin Damsgaard rumours are also kicking around and, if you believe what you read, a deal is imminent. Could he be here in time for the Manchester United game? Amazing though it would be, that’s for then.  For now it is all about how Brentford go. Knowing that one result will not define a season but, as with Arsenal last time out, starting on the front foot. 

Also, am I alone in wondering what colours we will be playing in. Could there be a shock reveal for what Kitman Bob has described as a ‘marmite’ third shirt? He tweeted on Thursday to say that we’d see “Incoming of the marmite kit within a day or 2” . 

Just imagine the reaction as the team unzip their tracksuits at 1.59 to unleash…. who knows what??? 

I can’t wait for any of it. Roll on 2pm. Roll on Leicester City. Let’s do this. ENJOY !!!

Both of these would be incredible

Nick Bruzon

How it’s going to work this season is….

5 Aug

The season is upon us. Brentford travel to Leicester City on Saturday Sunday (keep forgetting about that carnival – it’s so easily done, I suppose) looking to pick up where we left off last time out. A storming start and finish saw the Bees finish 13th in our inaugural Premier League campaign and then spend the summer waiting.. and waiting.. and waiting to see if Christian Eriksen would return the faith shown in him. Alas, Manchester United was the eventual decision made but one has to sympathise with the lure of those reported financials being offered, even if it is somewhat of a rarity to see a rat jumping on to a sinking ship. 

For Brentford, the summer has still seen a huge influx of activity. Ben Mee and Aaron Hickey providing welcome choice at the back with Thomas Strakosha offering an alternative in nets. The goalkeeper’s decision to Lionel Road after his time at Lazio very much an exciting one. Especially as it had been anticipated his move would be to Manchester United. Still, you never learn anything from fanzines or clickbait sites and Old Trafford’s loss is very much our gain. You don’t need to be in possession of Emma Hayes or Gary Neville levels of punditry to see where we struggled last time out.  

Then there’s Keane Lewis-Potter. The former Hull City starlet is an England U-21 and was one of the most sought after players in the Championship. His signing is very much one with the future in mind and builds further on our young but exciting squad With Josh Dasilva back to fitness aswell it would be fair to say that despite missing out on Christian Eriksen, we go into the game with Leicester looking very strong. Get Kris Ajer and Ethan Pinnock back to fitness (the former expected this month) and the Brentford squad is looking well set for what I am calling a top 12 finish. Hey, with a fair wind maybe even 10th. 

Perhaps the most exciting news of the summer was the return of the castle badge on our recently launched ‘away’ shirt’. I’ve not seen a bad word about this one. My word, it’s incredible. Absolutely love it.

Personally speaking, I’ve always felt it was awful how this was ditched for the cluttered clipart of the Middlesex montage that wasn’t designed by Russell Grant. Having this back again has only proven to be a popular decision if you believe what you reason Social media. I wonder if the same will be the case when our third shirt is revealed – something that could be imminent, per Kitman Bob. Oh Christian Eriksen, look at what you could have worn…

Absolutely loving the new away shirt

OK – I’ve been contacted by literally some of you given the relative dearth of material on these pages since the end of the last campaign, asking about any plans for 2022-23.  How it’s going to work this season is as follows…

Brentford FC Match day programme : the two articles per edition from last season are no more. I’m sure the club and the programme team have some big new ideas but it would seem that after contributing since 2009, mine are no longer required. To be fair, something would have had to give anyway and from my side it would have been at least one if not both of those features. Certainly, the kit stuff couldn’t be regurgitated again and not even I’m dumb enough to miss out on taking the hint of radio silence until turning the dial myself. Thanks for all the kind words last season though. 

The Last Word blog: It’ll carry on ; albeit stripped right back in terms of how often this goes online. Time is tight and with plenty of other pressing priorities outside of football, this also needs to be refreshed given we’ve been there and done that for many years now.

Post-match player review: This will continue. I really enjoyed writing these last season and so will continue to do this on the Hollywood Bets blog page (albeit links will always be here and on the socials).

And as if by magic, the first of those pieces is here. Ah, the crowbar like subtly remains as in force as ever. So here you go. Enjoy.

Until then, here’s to Leicester and then the visit of Manchester United on Saturday week. Reckon that could be end up being a spicy one….

Big new bank balance. Terrible new kit

Nick Bruzon   

Heroes and Villans at Lionel Road. Was this the worst dive ever?

3 Jan

Brentford are now half way through a first Premier League campaign that finds the Bees on 23 points and as close to the Champions League spots as we are the the relegation zone (a difference of 12 in either direction). The first game of 2022 seeing a 2-1 victory in a pulsating game with Aston Villa. A game where the Bees started weighed down by lethargy but ended it on fire. So much so that cringey last minute theatrics were brought into play but, thankfully, the officials were not fooled by the sniper in the crowd. Saman Ghoddos being a good yard away from Trézéguet as the Villa man pulled off the worst piece of acting since Mrs. Brown’s Boys graced our screens. A dive Tom Daley would have been proud of. Now, its onwards and upwards to Southampton and then Liverpool….

A sniper takes aim. Surely…..

Talk about a game of two halves. Brentford were awful at first. Slow. Disintersted. Leaden. One North stand observer would explain afterwards how she spent he first half hour doing her accounts on spreadsheet whilst her other half spent the time watching , well…. What he was watching was best summarised as: somebody from the world of music watching his son watching the flight tracker app on his mobile phone. I know Villa were hard to beat but it wasn’t that bad an opening period, was it?

A change in starting XI seeing Sergi in for Dominic Thompson (bench) and Mads Roerslev continuing at right wing back. Kris Ajer was, at least, on the bench with Mads Bech retaining his place in the middle. A midfield trio of Frank the Tank, Christian Norgaard and Matthias Jensen supporting Wissa and Ivan Toney up top. Shandon Baptiste making way. Only Mads Bech keeping us in it during a ghastly first 40 minutes.

Danny Ings produced the opening goal with little more than a quarter hour gone. Emi Buendia, our scourge of last season, producing a moment of absolute brilliance in the middle of the park to open up the Brentford midfield and release Ings. The Aston Villa man making no mistake with an inch perfect drive that squeezed between the despairing finger tips of Alvaro Fernandez and the far post. 1-0 Villa and it could, probably should have been more. Brentford not at the races. Or perhaps we were, because we certainly weren’t at a flat feeling Lionel Road.

Then, the game exploded into life with half-time beckoning. Mads Roerslev exchanging passes with Jensen and then breaking forward down the right. An inch perfect ball across the face of the box found Wissa. One touch, control and then a left footed curler guided home with laser like precision. Martinez in goal left with no hope. That trademark celebration igniting the crowd and his team mates from their slumbers.

Watched this on MOTD2 a few times 🙂

As we’ve said many, many times  – possession and chances are all well and good but the only thing that truly counts is the amount of times the ball has hit the back of the net. Aston Villa should have been out of sight. Instead, it was Steven Gerrard rather than Thomas Frank smashing the tea cups as the opening period ended up 1-1. Brentford with a solitary effort but what a way to take it. What a way to come back to life.

From that point on it was game over. Thomas Frank’s substitutions just heaping the pressure on. First the determined Ghoddos. Here was a man playing for his chance against Southampton. Then Baptiste who gave a masterclass in midfield. His partnership with Norgaard a constant thing of beauty. Chuck in Vitaly for a late cameo and it ended about as good as it can from a playing perspective (certainly, given the options available at present). Then, Mads Roerslev cemented his place in history. Became our 11th Premier League goal scorer.

With 83 minutes gone, Shandon played it into the box on the diagonal. The overlapping Roerslev leathered it at Martinez who could only push it back into the wing back’s path. There was no mistake with that second bite of the cherry. If Lionel Road had erupted for Wissa, the roof was positively torn off this time around. Oh, my. What a moment. What a sound. What a feeling. What a win, we hoped….

It’s Brentford, innit. Another 7(seven) minutes plus a further five of injury time added on saw Martinez charging up for the last few corner kicks. It had been bad enough against Leeds. Surely lightning couldn’t strike twice? Surely?

It didn’t, as much thanks to the alertness of the officials after Trezeguet had channelled the spirit of Rivaldo as one magnificent save from Alvaro Fernandez. How Ings didn’t level I have no idea but there was our ‘keeper to keep it out at point blank range. The spirit of Elland Road well and truly exorcised.

Fairplay to Villa. They deserved more than their nothing based on effort. One can only imagine the words had Dean Smith been at the helm still. But football hangs on moments. Hangs on goals scored. The simple truth is that Brentford seized theirs and stopped the visitors doing the same. It may have been scrappy at times but there was no disputing the quality of the goals or the phenomenal second half effort. Had we been scuppered by Trézéguet’s blatant cheating late on there may well have been a riot. Thankfully, justice was done.

Next up, the FA Cup trip to Port Vale and then back to back away games in the League. Southampton first and then Liverpool. With the African Cup of Nations seeing the Anfield outfield denied a galaxy of starts, could we be hopeful of taking a minimum four points from these two games? Who knows? Play like we started yesterday and we’ll be coming home from both empty-handed. Play like we finished it and anything is possible…..

The player review is up now and you can find that here. Until then, nothing more to do but reflect on a job well done. The table doesn’t lie. Nor does the scoreline. We’ve been hard done by at home this season when playing out of our skins (Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City in particular). For once, it was nice to see that despite a woeful start, chances can be taken. Points can be earned.

Well played all round. Until then, here’s that dive……..

Nick Bruzon

Could the game be off on Tuesday?

13 Dec

Well this is the news nobody wanted to wake up to. With that most anticipated of fixtures upon us – the chance for Brentford to make it three consecutive Premier league wins at Lionel Road – the BBC are reporting that Tuesday’s evening’s visitors Manchester United have recorded a number of positive Covid test on Sunday. This, following their somewhat insipid 1-0 defeat of Norwich City on Saturday evening. One can only hope all at Old Trafford remain well. With the Bees hit by similar – Ivan Toney and Ethan Pinnock both missing the defeat of Watford on Friday that took us to tenth, having to rejig a team is a feeling we know only too well.

Another three points celebrated at full time

That is, of course, assuming the game can now go ahead. That same BBC piece reports the fixture as “Now in some doubt.”  As it stands there is no news as to how deep this runs and what the split between players and staff is. With tails up and the three points Brentford picked up on Friday following the home win over Everton plus draws at Newcastle and Leeds (as for Spurs on the road – move along, nothing to see hear) Thomas Frank and his team will be desperate to keep on rolling.

Despite Vitaly having to cover for Ethan (and you can read thoughts on that in the latest player review, here) and anyone available with the unenviable task of filling in for Ivan, Leeds here), determination and adaptability have kept us going. The points have carried on rolling in and the Bees sit tenth in the Premier League, approaching the game in the knowledge that beating Manchester United will take us back to the very fringe of the European places. 

Ah, even uttering Brentford and Manchester United in the same breath seems crazy. So poles apart are our bank balances and our history. The one time Freight Over Trophy runners up (curse you, Wigan) v the  multiple European Champions. Ronaldo v Canos. Fernandes v Jensen. Fred v Frank. There’s any number of ways to look at the difference between the two teams but, as we’ve already seen when entertaining those other past European champions Liverpool and Chelsea (aswell as Arsena)l, history counts for nothing when you are on your game. When the crowd are behind you. When the bookmakers don’t give you a prayer. The bus stop in Hounslow v the tram stop in… well, perhaps not. 

Sure, you’ve lifted the European Cup but try facing Newport in an FRT semi

I hope the game can continue for all at the right reasons. Nobody wants more spread of infection whilst the prospect of another season being decimated by more and more covid, regardless of who you support, will be a devastating blow. Of course player and supporter welfare needs to be the top priority and so the next few weeks will be approached with increased trepidation about our ability to enjoy the beautiful game. To continue the massive morale boost, and don’t we know one is needed, of trying to carry on as ‘normal’ as ‘normal’ is these days.

Our national game. Our most shared of pursuits. Our barometer of regional wellbeing. In the South-West alone, we all know what a celebration it will be should either Brentford or Manchester United win on Tuesday night. That said, not sure who Gary Neville will be cheering for following his own adulation of the Bees on Friday.

So fingers are crossed. Optimism remains high, if not cautiously guarded. Having to postpone the game will be soul-destroying for so many reasons, even if they are the right ones. Until then, we’ll get on with our daily grind and cross fingers that everything remains ok. That this accursed pandemic doesn’t deliver another kick to our collective nether regions.

Here’s hoping to see you there (and until then, here’s the latest from the BBC on this one)

Nick Bruzon

Still fighting on three fronts. Now bring on Saturday.

28 Oct

For the first time since 2016/17 Manchester City won’t have their name on the league cup.  For Brentford, a potato skin avoided and then some. The Bees are in the quarter finals for the second successive season after last night’s 2-1 victory at Stoke City. A line up including more first team regulars than we, perhaps, had any expectation of seeing run out raced into a 2-0 half-time lead (Canos and Toney) which ultimately proved sufficient to see us over the line. Romaine Sawyers (who else?) pulled one back for the hosts but it was too little too late to stop the Bees recording a first ever win in the Potteries and earning a place in the last 8. Liverpool, West Ham, Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester City and Sunderland make up the list of those teams with their own aspirations of lifting the silverware. Now we await the draw with bated breath. For more reasons than one. 

No caption needed

Last season was just awful. Wembley, promotion, goals, fine wins, bracketings and incredible signings aside. Having to watch from afar as the team rattled around a virtually empty stadium nothing short of torture. Finally in our new home and locked out by a global pandemic.

To compound the felony, Brentford were enjoying out best ever run in the League Cup. A whole gamut of Premier League sides despatched by a Championship club looking to join them in the top flight. A sequence of victories that took us all the way to a single-legged semi-final at Tottenham. Ivan Toney’s equaliser being chalked off by the machinations of VAR. A brief moment of 1-1 based ecstasy turning into an eventual 2-0 win for our hosts before their inevitable defeat in the final to Manchester City. They seem (seemed) quite good at lifting this particular trophy.

A tournament that Brentford have traditionally been bang average in (a smattering of fourth round visits being our best ever) had suddenly exploded into life. Thomas Frank with his eyes on the silverware. The rest of us with our eyes on the TV. It would have been wonderful to be a part of it. Instead, we were all locked out.

The finger nail ended up being ahead of the ankle. Offside

Fast forward 12 months and we are in similar territory. The big difference being that this time around, the fans are back. And how. What an effort for last night’s shlep to Stoke City. What a reward for the journey. Brentford now 90 minutes away from matching last season’s heroics. Perhaps with a chance to go even further. Hey, if nothing else the magnificent win in the play-off final has finally broken our Wembley hoodoo. No longer is it a place to fear but somewhere to look forward to. The next step on the journey about to be made. And we will discover our fate this Saturday when the draw is made on TV’s Soccer AM. 

Ah, Soccer AM. Sad to say it’s not for me anymore. Been there, done that, disgraced myself. Hey, those ‘end of the show’ penalties aren’t going to miss themselves. Helen Chamberlain and Russ Williams have long since moved on. Lovejoy, too. These days, free time on Saturdays is too short a commodity to be spent with Fenners and Jimmy Bullard. I’ve got football club to get H to and other ‘essential’ jobs to be completed before the matchday routine can begin. 

The classic lineup on the Soccer AM sofa

Yet this weekend things will be different. There’s a cup draw to be watched. The list of priority domestic tasks can, for once, include switching on the TV. Probably being confused by banter and catchphrases that will have long since been handed down to a younger generation. This confused 51 year old will, for once, have a legitimate reason to have the show on rather than feeling as awkward as a dad in a disco. Coverage starts at 10.30 although at what point the Soccerettes (are they still a thing?) appear with the balls is yet to be confirmed. I suspect the phrase “Harry, call me when its about to start” may well be uttered. Much as I used to love the show, and I did, age is now feeling as though it has very much caught up on yours truly. Groan.

So yeah. I’ll be watching. Hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Looking forward to seeing if things have changed any. Mostly, though, awaiting our fate. Last night’s team selection suggesting Thomas very much has the League Cup as a legitimate target. Not just an excuse to give fringe players a run out but a trophy to try and win. A place in Europe to be earned. A smile to be put on the faces of fans after missing out last year. An even bigger smile, I mean. A metaphorical heart attack to be given to the Directors of football or Matthew Benham when a potential cup winning team is named at the expense of keeping players fresh for the league campaign. Hey, who says we can’t battle on two fronts? Or three?

It was a strong, strong line up. Canos. Toney. Jensen. Zanka. Ghoddos. Forss. Ajer.  All started this one. Rico, Christian Norgaard and Frank the Tank also came off the bench. Every one of these players featured against Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday  Chuck Charlie Goode, Mads x2 and Alvaro Fernandez to see there was no messing around from Thomas here. He has a cup in his sights. Likewise, perhaps, giving a chance to put his enforced goalkeeping change into play sooner than later. The understanding between the back five and the man in, err, blue will be even more essential than ever. 

For now though, we can dream of Wembley. Of Soccer AM. Of finally exorcising the nightmare of what happened before the Doncaster game. That Doncaster game. Of replacing Manchester City on the trophy. Of a draw that could be cruel or kind. A home tie with Sunderland or a trip to Liverpool? A rematch with Leicester City, perhaps?

On Saturday we find out. Bring it on….

The pre-Doncaster Soccer AM debacle (our H almost due, too)

Nick Bruzon

Will injury blow impact title chances?

27 Oct

After Iheanacho lifts over, Pérez collides with Raya while trying to latch onto Tielemans’ pass – both are fine to continue as play resumes. Not my words, the words of official Leicester City Twitter on Sunday afternoon at 3.46pm. Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon.  After a few days of tests and scans with the medical department, I’m gutted to say that I’ve damaged my Posterior Cruciate Ligament in my left knee on Sunday. Not my words, the words of Brentford goalkeeper David Raya as it was announced he will miss the next four to five months recovering from the injury sustained in the collision with Ayoze Pérez. All of which means preparation form tonight’s game with Stoke City along with the Premier league clashes with Burnley, Norwich City and way beyond are now back to the drawing board. Huesca loanee Álvaro Fernández  will be handed the gloves with the Bees now minus our inspirational shot stopper. 

Bad news from social media

Urghh. Something had seemed odd during the game when Raya hadn’t run up to cause havoc in the Leicester box late on. The award of a corner kick deep into the 7(seven) minutes of injury time was met with exhortations from the crowd for the Brentford ‘keeper to push up and cause mayhem in the opposition box. Instead, we got a rather tepid limp forward and a holding position maintained well inside his own half.

The irony being this moment occurred during time added on to make up for all the ‘treatment’ required by our visitors during the regulation ninety. Supporters infuriated by opponents, and I’ll be generous here, making the most of every moment they went to ground. Collapsing like industrial chimneys after the plunger had been, err, plunged.

Plunge the plunger…..

Cripes. Even Harry had said to me at full time. “Dad. Do you know who men of the match should be?”   Err, ‘men’? I questioned.  He continued, “The Leicester physios”. Well said that boy. Well said.

The regularity with which they collapsed to the floor before making a full recovery had not gone unobserverd by H, us, the entire North stand and fourth official who would eventually hold up the board. My word, It was almost as though it had been a preordained tactic.

Channel your inner Fred Dibnah. Get the lead and go to ground. Run down the clock. Grind it out.

Channelling their inner ‘Fred’ was a success for Leicester

Nobody is suggesting there was any particular malice from Perez, btw. At the time it had seemed like another brave save from Raya. Watching back the highlights on Match of the Day, it didn’t even warrant a viewing. Indeed the most distasteful element aside from the pronunciation of Boo-moo (one to file alongside Canyos) was the celebration from James Maddison for what transpired to be his winning goal.

We’d given him stick all game, and understandably given his own combination of cosying up to the ref whilst playing in bowling shoes, so one can hardly blame him for milking the moment.

I want to be the villain,” he said at full time. “It makes it all the sweeter when I score up that end.”  If nothing else, it makes our rematch on 19th March all the more intriguing. 

Giving it back to the West Stand

Hey, you never know. By that point David may be fit again. Fingers crossed the anti-gravity treadmill does it’s thing. We have the consolation in the fact that no surgery is required. Brentford head of medical Neil Greig confirming that this sort of injury ”Usually heals well without the need for surgery. David has already begun using a brace specifically designed to aid this process.”  You can read that one in full on ‘official’.

Until that point, its a case of best wishes to David off the field and the same to Álvaro Fernández on it. The reserve ‘keeper, on loan from Huesca, now has a chance to establish himself in the battle for the gloves. Whilst nobody would want to get their chance in this fashion, it’s how football goes. The Olympic silver medalist already has a full international cap to his name and so hardly as though we are chucking Don Incognito into the mix. He will no doubt be desperate to hit the ground running and propel Brentford back into the race for the Champion’s League places. Or beyond…. Had The Bees got the decisive goal on Sunday, we’d be waking up this morning placed fifth in the Premier League. Such fine margins in a race which still has a long way to run.

If nothing else, the Directors of Football seem to have got this ‘talent spotting’ thing sorted out just fine. Whilst of course I’m desperately sad to lose David, and for such a long period of a season in which he was making an even bigger name for himself than already, at least there is comfort to be taken in the cover. What this means for the Stoke City game this evening, where he was sure to feature, remains to be seen. Roll on 6.45pm and the team announcements for that news. I can’t imagine Thomas will risk him with his first choice league ‘keeper now MIA.

Then we’re on to Burnley. To Norwich City. To Newcastle United and a long run of games in which David will need to join the rest of us on the sidelines. Looking on and cheering. A run of games where we play some of the biggest names and sternest tests in English football. So just like the season to date then. 

There’s not much else to say at this point. The injury has been confirmed and we can’t dress it up any. A top class player is out. A replacement with all the potential is in. Bring on Saturday afternoon when we see just what Álvaro can do. Until then, it’s a case of knowing that the entire Brentford family is behind David, thinking of him and hoping for a speedy recovery.

David Raya is a Bee.

Nick Bruzon

Roll up. Roll up. Get your sour grapes and injustice here.

25 Oct

Monday morning. Half-term. Brentford very much schooled by Leicester City in the dark arts of football yesterday afternoon. A 2-1 defeat for the Bees at Lionel Road one which left a very empty feeling in the pit of the stomach at full time. Whereas we’d walked off with heads held high after battering Chelsea last week, this time the Bees were undone by the midfield axis of James Maddison and Simon Hooper. The player spending so much time whispering sweet nothings into the referee’s ear, one can only presume his eventual substitution was in order to go and run a warm bath for the pair of them to share. If ever Gareth Southgate needs somebody to gob off to the ref then Maddison is a sure fire selection to add to his solitary England cap. The only time he wasn’t prodding Mr. Hooper, he was busy going arse over tit in a style that suggested the poor man’s Jack Grealish was playing in carpet slippers. Not even Linda Lovelace went down that often.  There was no irony lost in his sole contribution to actual football being the winning goal. As JJ (of goal inducing bladder fame) nailed it afterwards in his always succinct style, “If ever the phrase ‘an utter fanny’ was invented for a footballer then it’s him.” Cripes, even hearing the scoreline from Manchester United in the pub afterwards failed to raise flagging spirits. Liverpool breaking Terry Christian’s heart but failing to complete a bracketing that 5-0 up after 50 minutes and playing ten men suggested might be in the offing.

It’s 07351 62……

Instead, the only 7(seven) we got was time added on in the second half at Lionel Road. The bizarre thing being that the Leicester City players only seemed to be injured when they were ahead. Sorry, only seemed to be ‘injured’. At 0-0 and 1-1 the game was fast flowing and attacking. Yet whenever they had the lead, the visitors collapsed with an ease and regularity that suggested Fred Dibnah had taken over as Leicester head coach. 

Or if not the champion steeplejack, perhaps Brice Samba. Such was the time wasting, gamesmanship and general flow disruption that only years in the Premier League can teach you. Oh, if only Mr Hooper had been wise to it. Alas not. Too busy exchanging phone numbers with Maddison, I suppose. We’d been worried about him going in to this game and came out of it no happier. Another hugely frustrating performance from the man in the middle but you can’t blame Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers for having his team play like this if the ref was going to allow it.

Post match interviews with the BBC’s Lauren Moore

Brentford came out of the traps flying and picked up where we left off against Chelsea. Surely a goal would come? Surely? There it was but the offside flag ruled out an early opener from Ivan Toney. There was no need even for VAR but it did, at least, give hope that we’d kick on.

This, after Pontus had been denied an early penalty for thrusting the side of his face into the outstretched fist of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel rather than guiding the ball into the net. Draw your own conclusions….

Eventually the goal did come. Not as expected though. The Bees undone by a rare incursion into their half from the visitors and an absolute howitzer from Youri Tielemans. The player, a midfielder who does know what it is to be picked for regular international duty, showed all his ability and skill with about as wonderful a goal as you will see. My. Word. What a hit. What a strike. It’s probably still moving even now. Sometimes, one just has to doff the hat and say, ‘Bravo, sir”.

It was a wonder goal that left David Raya no chance. All the early pressure from Brentford undone in an instant. The stream of injuries and ref chat which then followed disrupting any form of attempt to get back in to the game. The Bees desperately missing Vitaly Janelt in the centre. His return cannot come soon enough. Bryan and Ivan linking well but neither able to trouble Schmeichel with the final touch, one Toney header aside.

Half time came and went. Brentford back out and on top. Attacking the East stand after the dirty trick of ‘changing ends’ had been pulled following the coin toss pre kick-off. Yet despite it all, we were level on the hour. Zanka the man who managed to evade to the flying fists and flick home a corner. 1-1. Lionel Road erupted. Scores level. Bees on top and pushing for the winner. Here we go. Here. We. Go. Pressure rewarded. A goal scored and only one possible outcome from this point. Or so we thought…

Football. The game we love. The game that kicks us in the nuts time and again. This time it was the turn of Leicester City to be the ones breaking our collective hearts. Tielmans and the hero of Moscow, Patson Daka, teaming up to catch the Bees on the break. Ripping us a new one with electric pace and there he was. None other than panto villain Maddison to restore their lead, despite the best efforts of David Raya. 2-1 up. The goal deserved with the Bees so focused on breaking forward, we’d been exposed across the rest of the pitch. The visitors picking their moment to strike and what a clinical way to do so. Maddison leaving the field shortly afterwards. He may aswell have worn a cape, top hat and twirled his moustache. Instead, he applauded first his own fans and the Brentford faithful behind the goal.

Despite the final fifteen minutes and prolonged period of time added on, there was little could be done. Foxes back in their hole and the door bolted. Ultimately, doing exactly what they needed to and despite the clear frustrations from all around the ground, nothing more than ‘job completed’. Regardless of the means. A third win on the bounce following those against Manchester Untied and Spartak. Another defeat for the Bees against wily opposition. The absence of Wissa, Baptiste, Josh Dasilva and the aforementioned Janelt wrecking our midfield but still a game where we walked out feeling mugged. Experience at this level definitely something in short supply and, perhaps, another lesson in the fact that nice guys finish last.

Sometimes, a bit more guile needed. If the refs are going to be like this then play to them rather than any moral code. The sole consolation being the sight of Pontus ploughing through James Maddison with impunity later in the second half. But nice though the moment was, and it was, brief smiles don’t win games. Goals do. And on this occasion, Leicester City did just what they needed.    

Ok. So this is full of sour grapes today. I readily admit that. Despite the need to be humble and sporting, sometimes the feeling of being absolutely played or of having a ref offer less protection than a continuity announcer failing to announce “And now on BBC1, Mrs Brown’s Boys” is just too strong. Too over bearing. Even having slept on it. If that makes me the bad loser and poorer for it then fair enough. I’ll take it on the chin. Much like Pontus.  C’est la vie, as popular music’s B*Witched once reminded us in such wonderful double denim toe tapping style. 

For now, heads down. The Premier League experience has been a wonderful one so far. At times, an education but we’ve not looked out of our depth at any point. A bit more luck with the injuries and the refs would be nice. A bit more guile, too. Next up we’ve got two away trips.  Stoke City in the league cup and then Burnley in the Prem. If the chance of playing against number 26 again doesn’t get the blood pumping, what will ? Bring it on.

My only other positive and last thought from this one. At least our Harry is the bigger man. I’d expected upset and tears at full time. Instead, we got the opposite when he went to catch up Woody on the way out of the ground.

Full time. H better than his dad

Nick Bruzon

West Ham undone by El Scorcho from Wissa.

4 Oct

Just magnificent. An epic finish of biblical proportions. Brentford head into international break with another win under the belt. Just when you thought it wasn’t possible to even come close to Liverpool last week, we went and did this. The latest moment of joy, a 2-1 defeat of West Ham at the Olympic Stadium that was as deserved as it was late. Surviving wave after wave of second half pressure, it was that man Wissa who popped up to fire home the winner in front of the Bees faithful with virtually the last kick of the game. The visiting fans went absolutely nuts. The home support in meltdown. Oh for a Rio Ferdninad or John Colby to have got in the way for them. Instead it was another three points earned, up to 7th (seventh) and now two weeks before we welcome Chelsea to Lionel Road.

Yesssss. Wiiiiissssaaaaaaaa!!!!

What a win. What a start. With Ajer missing and Janelt replaced during the warm up, Thomas Frank saw his plans further hampered by a shoulder injury to Shandon Baptiste. Yet this season is as much about strength in depth and the Bees played like a side posessed. Solid at the back but starting on the front front. Mbeumo hitting the top of the bar with minutes before scoring not long after. A fine break from Canos saw his shot only parried and there was Bryan to steer it over the line. ‘Keeper Fabianski shovelling it clear but the goal had already been chalked up, with VAR going through a momentary act of agreement.  

Twenty minutes gone and a goal up. An effort that was reflective of our dominance. A game that was threatening to be much akin to our solitary defeat, that by Brighton, where we had all pressure and no end product. This was different. Roared on by a packed and passionate away contingent, the Bees had gone for it from the off. Pushing men forward and breaking with pace. Rock solid at the back. It might have been double. The home side might have had some cheer but a header from Zouma was about as good as it got. 1-0 Brentford at half time and, despite the enforced substitutions, looking great value for the lead.

VAR confirms what the ref had already seen

And then the second half started. David Moyes can only have delivered the mother of all rollickings whilst the orange segments were being served up because his team re-emerged with with purpose by the bucketload. The manager losing his shit on the touchlines (more than once – here’s the ball…) and his team actually breaking with intent. Yet, somehow, the Bees held firm. Blocks, deflecting, fine saves. It was heart in mouth time as West Ham pushed and probed. 100 yards from the action the supporters giving it their all. Willing the Bees on to hold firm and we almost did. Almost. The clock running down with snail paced movement until, with 80 minutes gone, there was Bowen to fire home the equaliser through a crowd of defenders and inside the near post. It looked side netting from where we stood, binoculars primed by those in the upper tier, but alas it was in. Urghh. Look at what we could have won.

West Ham fans exploding with delight. Bubble machines making a half-arsed attempt to parp out their wares in cringe inducing celebration. Who needs gimics? Whatever. 1-1 and the Hammers continuing to push. Brentford, somehow, hanging in there. Three minutes of time added on and then, deep into this additional period a free kick awarded. Into the box we went. All of us barring goalkeeper Raya. Pontus with the sweetest of connections but once again Fabianski was there to get it clear. Not clear enough. It fell to the edge of the box where the unmarked Wissa kept his cool and despite a man bearing down on him, slammed a scorcher straight back from where it came with interest. Boom. Fabianksi no chance. The net billowing. Limbs. Scenes. Celebrations. Call it what you want, the first team piling on to each other. Even Raya running up to join in. The supporters united in ecstasy. Not knowing whether to celebrate with the team or the home fans stood just to our left who had been giving it large all game. Pantomime villains for 90 minutes and resorting the the role of petulant schoolboys.

Oh football. This is why we love it so much. There was barely time for the restart before the ref called it game over. An incredible ending to a wonderful game. Wissa immense. The balls on that man to connect so well but really it was more than him. It was all round effort. Another top, top team performance. If Liverpool had been amazing, this was up there for different reasons. There’s nothing finer than a last gasp winner and it was one that came in what was an archetypal game of two halves. It’s West Ham, innit? You almost had to feel for the home support. Almost.    

Brentford now three points off second placed Liverpool and a further off the top of the table. Our opening salvo of 12 from 7(seven) games perhaps beyond even the wildest dreams. Nobody gave us a prayer yet here we are again. West Ham the latest to be hit by the runaway bus. A huge arena silenced. The list of achievements that bedecked the middle tier to our left – 1964 FA Cup Winners… 1965 European Cup Winner’s Cup… 1966 World Cup winners – nothing but a reel of the past. A team with an impressive list of former glories but unable to match the moment when it came. Wissa rounding off an afternoon that will live long in the memory.   

West Ham. Winners ( in one respect)

Now , time to catch the breath. A few weeks off. Hopefully the injuries won’t be a severe as first feared although Baptiste’s shoulder, since confirmed as dislocated, isn’t the sort of thing you can just run off in five minutes. One can only imagine it’s going to be a prolonged period of time spent with our old friend, the anti-gravity treadmill.

Until then, time to reflect on about as exciting start to Premier League life as it is possible to have hoped for. It’s been nothing but fun and yesterday, following on from Liverpool the game before, had it all. Top flight football. Opponents steeped in history. Rival fans giving it their all. The bus stop in Hounslow doing it for fun. West Ham pointless. Brentford leapfrogging them in the table and another win under the belt.

Fair to say that top flight life is good. Long may it continue like this. Brentford proving that reputations count for nothing. Ours included. We ARE tinpot. We ARE a bus stop. We ARE put together through shrewd acquisition and team spirit rather than big money buys. And? We know it. We don’t, actually, care. The sooner other teams get used to it and play the 11 in front of them rather than the preconception then the easier they may find it. Until then, keep writing us off all day long.

That was a lot of fun. A lot..

Nick Bruzon

Just about the best Saturday imaginable. This time, it WAS dreamland for Brentford.

26 Sep

Sunday morning. Quite possibly the greatest game of football I’ve ever seen our Brentford play about to be rewatched for the third or fourth time on Match Of The Day. A 3-3 draw with Liverpool washed down with what can only be termed ‘JJ levels of lager’. An afternoon followed up by watching popular music’s Ash blow the roof off the Camden Roundhouse in a style akin to that which Thomas Frank’s Bees had done at Lionel Road just a few hours earlier. The price for such excess being a sore head and a smile like a split watermelon. There aren’t sufficient words to truly describe how good Brentford were. And Liverpool, to be fair. Wave after wave of Mcdonalds’ shirt clad warriors trading goals and attacks in a game of football tennis. Federer v Djokovic at their very best. Each attack met with an even stronger return. A blitzkrieg affair that hung precariously in the balance, tested our nerves to the nth degree and even saw an 87th minute ‘winner’ for Ivan Toney ruled out for marginal offside. We can’t be upset. Quite the opposite. Well, it would have been the most amazing win for Brentford but you can’t have it all. As popular music’s Ash once sang. Last night, in fact. Instead, we have to be content with a point and scoring just the second, third and fourth goals the Anfield outfit have conceded all campaign. Chelsea, of course, being the only other team to get the ball past Alisson in the league this season.  

The smile on the face at Full Time says it all

Brentford. Huge. Liverpool terrifyingly good. Pushing so hard, so fast, so high. Yet somehow the Bees matching them. Hanging on at times but creating massive problems of our own. Before the scoring had even started, Mo Salah saw a nailed on goal somehow cleared off the line by the telescopic legs of Kris Ajer. It was Wolves away all over. Bryan Mbeumo saw the same thing happen just moments later. As Brentford broke the ball was dinked goalwards before being scooped clear at the critical moment by Matip. And then the mayhem started…

Ethan Pinnock at the backpost. A position he has occupied so many times yet which teams still fail to pick up. A free kick from Sergi Canos (not Canyos, MOTD. Or Sergio. Urghh) eventually being turned home by the big man. The stadium erupted. Noise to make the Bournemouth affair seem like a game of musical statues played in a monastery. What a moment. Our Brentford. Our bus stop. Our team with the temerity to take the lead against this global icon. Incredible stuff but, on the balance of play, you have to say it was deserved. 

It didn’t last long, mind you. Jota (not that one) breaking Bees hearts within a few minutes of the restart. Cripes, they’re brutal when they break. The ball pinged around with electric speed. Opposition forced onto the back foot as metaphorical punches were traded and the goal they’d been threatening finally came. Mind you it could have been double that, at least. The post and also David Raya with a world class save coming to our rescue in the opening period. One apiece at half time and nerves shredded. Adrenaline pumping. This was next level stuff.

Yet if the opening period had been the stuff of dreams, it was nothing compared to the second. The miracle man Mo Salah first out of the traps. His 100th Premier League goal momentarily held up for a VAR check following the lino’s flag being raised. It was only a brief respite for the Bees. Liverpool taking the lead and now, surely, just a formality. The hope offered by our short lived lead nothing more than fantasy now. Wasn’t it? 

No chance. Before kick off the wish had been Brentford would play the occasion and the actual game  rather than get caught up in the illustrious nature of our opponents and their reputation. It’s exactly what we did. With ten minutes the scores were level. This time, Vitaly Janelt with the goal. Again, Liverpool failing to deal with a crowded box and the German being the right man in the right place to finally get it over the line. If the first goal had brought shockwaves, this one was off the chart. Going ahead is one thing but to pull it back .. well , it felt ten times better. We could win this… couldn’t we?

?-? indeed

Back came Liverpool once more. This time, Curtis Jones with an absolute piledriver that subsequent viewing showed took a deflection off of Ajer. Raya left with no hope. Brentford on the ropes once more. Tears from our Harry who’d already spent huge portions of the game giving Mr. Atwell short shrift. The man in the middle oblivious to just about everything. This third goal being the straw that broke this camel’s back.

Yet with it came sage advice that, “Remember, it only take a second to score a goal.” And quite literally within moments of imparting these words, we had. Yoanne Wissa the man to give my normally shonky parenting some much needed kudos. 

And then it was 3

You see,” I said as tears turned to smiles. Despair turned to joy. Lionel Road went off the deep end of the Richter scale. This was just nuts. Disbelief on the fact of all around us as Brentford bounced back again. No quarter given. No question remaining unanswered. It was relentless football played at the most gargantuan levels of pace and intensity. On paper we had no right to get even half way close.

As H said to me, ”Dad. That’s the ACTUAL Mo Salah.” Yes Harry, and that’s the actual Rico Henry with the most sublime piece of skill to not only trap the ball with the Egyptian on top of him but then run rings round him when, being honest, an industrial hoof was the best we could have hoped for.

It might have been 4. It would have been the most magnificent fairy tale ending to the most incredible game of football. It doesn’t really matter. Win, lose or draw for me, Clive, it was all about the way we played. Our approach. Our intensity and never say die attitude. Nobody gave the Bees a hope. A lot of people are gong to have to reset their opinions. Once again. It was one of our most incredible displays in living memory. If not ever. Leyton Orient away levels of pressure survived and scoring to match. Bees fans celebrating like we’d won the World Cup at full time.

Thomas a blur of emotion at full time

Next up we’ve got West Ham in the road and then Chelsea at home. On the evidence of the season is far, perhaps they may not be quite the walkovers those outside of TW8 would predict. Brentford still 9th. Four points outside of the Champions League spots and only more more off the top. The season that promised so much going in to it cranking up to levels beyond the expectation levels of the most optimistic supporters. Fantasy football indeed.

Bring on West Ham. And Chelsea. On this form, anything could happen. I can’t wait. Brentford were just amazing yesterday. Liverpool, burned baby. Burned.

just when the day couldn’t get any better, it did

Nick Bruzon

Hail Ants. Who will be the last starter in this toughest of challenges?

25 Sep

The day has come. The one we’ve had marked on the calendar is now upon us. Brentford face a visit from, quite possibly, the most fearsome of all Premier League opponents. Being realistic we haven’t a hope but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be dreaming of the impossible come 5.30pm on Saturday afternoon. My word. Forget playing the likes of Manchester City or Chelsea. This is next level. This is the moment. Our Super Bees are going up against none other than… Stuart Atwell. Groan. I’m sure Liverpool fans feel the same about today’s ref. We’ve all been there. We’ve all suffered. As if it wasn’t going to be hard enough when Jurgen Klopp and his galaxy of stars descend upon us, we’ve this rogue element chucked in to the mix. Hail ants.

Hail ants, indeed.

At best, its the same for both of us. We can’t change anything so let’s go into this one fearing the worst but hoping for the best. Focus on Liverpool and beating them rather than getting overly het up about arbitrary elements. At least, until they happen. If they happen. Hey, you never know. Even Keith Stroud mellowed with experience. A bit. Instead, the question is more one of who Thomas is going to start with? 

Surely more of the same after the defeat of Wolves last weekend? Thomas Frank used his press conference to declare, “There will be 10 of the same starters and then I need to find the last one.” . Yet with, apparently, no injury concerns is this nothing more than gamesmanship? The Bees boss indulging in faux guessing games when the answer is already staring us in the face on the back of last weekend’s matchday programme? 

If my maths are correct, Shandon Baptiste served his red card suspension against Oldham Athletic in the midweek bracketing so could feature. Will his place be taken by Frank the Tank? Is Saman, impressive in the league cup, due another start? Might player 11 be Rico or Pontus? Answers on a postcard please. And remember, no entries can be returned. I’ve no clue but if everybody is available (barring the long term injuries) then surely the same XI has to be the way to go. Play your best team and let the opposition adjust their game to suit. 

Not that Mr. Klopp should have any major concerns about his own selections. Such is the wealth of talent available he could chuck the squad car keys into a bowl, pull out any 11 and aside from a somewhat unsavoury image for a family friendly publication, still come up with a team to beat just about anybody in this division.  Liverpool are currently on a 15 game unbeaten run and have only conceded one Premier League goal this season. That coming in their season opener against Chelsea. The Blues, of course, our next opponents and the only team higher than the Anfield outfit, courtesy of no slimmer margin than alphabetical order. In a statistical anomaly, their records are otherwise identical. 

As it stands…..

Let’s not forget Brentford though. We’re ninth in the table and well aware of our own record and form. Last weekend at Molineux was out best performance of the season by a country mile. Dominant. Dangerous. Cagey when we needed to be. Even a streak of shithousery added to our game. Yet for me, Clive, it was the way we played when down to ten men that was the most impressive element. Of course, Ivan grabbed the headlines but the defence  – especially Kris Ajer and his wonderful tackle – kept us in it. Moreso, given both Pontus and Rico were subbed out in the final quarter hour. It was undoubtedly tense to watch and you could see where the six minutes of additional time came from (hey, those gloves weren’t going to change themselves). 

This had the Wolves fans up in arms. Hey, gloves get holes in them.

I’m not stupid. I’m aware we are being served up as plucky underdogs. The team that many admire but just about everyone expects to go down to a something nil defeat. That Mo Salah will try and use the occasion to progress to that magical numerical mark. Not a 7(seven) goal bracketing (although I wouldn’t put it past him) but more reaching 100 Premier League goals. With the race for the golden boot already looking like it will be a four way fight between him, Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku and Ivan Toney you can bet he’ll fancy his changes to both step up form his current 99 and move ahead in that particular race.

Salah – has scored a few and will be looking to add to that haul

The bookies don’t fancy us, that’s for sure. We’ve come in slightly but are still at a general 6-1 this morning. For the home team in a two horse race, that tells you all you need to know about how we are perceived and how tough the opposition is. Liverpool rather than Atwell. Although also Atwell. Then again, we were similar longshots  in the season opener against Arsenal and look what happened there! Yours truly ended up laughing all the way to the bank that day with 888 having to cough up for a very tasty pint of Guinness at full time. Ker-ching !! 

Then again, this is how we love it. Under the radar. Tinpot. Unfancied. Nothing more than a bus stop. It’s going to be as raucous as they come. The supporters up for it and set to welcome rival fans who actually know a thing or two about making some noise of their own. Cripes, Arsenal may aswell have brought their library with them, such was the lack of atmosphere being generated from that far corner. Oldham were ten times louder and they had a third of the numbers present. This will be different though. Hey Jude v You’ll Never Walk Alone. 

It’s going to be immense. And that’s just before the game kicks off. Bring. It. On…. And see you there.

More of this would be wonderful

Nick Bruzon