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We’ve finally jumped the shark. Off-pitch, at least.

5 Oct

Disgraceful. Appalling. Spineless. I’ve not seen such a lousy and shameful performance in a long, long time. And I’ve been supporting Brentford FC for over forty years. But hey. Enough about our yoof element and their Twitter opinions. Thankfully, the club is run by professionals rather than a committee of angry school kids. Just imagine if social media had been available in the Butcher, Rosenior, Noades, W£bb eras ! How quickly people forget about the Marinus experiment. And most of this ranting was before we’d even stepped out against Preston. By the time our 2-0 half time lead had turned to a 4-2 humping, the nuclear button had been long pressed all over the internet. On a day Manchester United were one short of being bracketed at home and Liverpool succumbed to that fate at Aston Villa (including an Ollie Watkins hat-trick), perspective is needed . Of sorts.

About the one part of Twitter we can reproduce – this, from ‘official’

If you use Twitter you’ve no doubt seen all the vitriol. The nonsense. The whinning self-pity or pathetic justification of the abuse being doled out to certain players. The expectation that we should be a Premier League side and somehow falling short of those lofty aspirations by not wining every game 20-0 is a cardinal sin.  The abuse handed out to other supporters for having the temerity to even question this. Those brave keyboard warriors wading in before their bedtime. 

Personally, I just find it utterly baffling. There’s clearly no ability to read a game, to understand our club or for that matter, football. And I say this prior to the Preston performance. Which was a disgrace to the word performance. Ivan Toney taking two magnificent goals that should have set Brentford on the way to 7th(seventh) place. Instead, the second period saw our defence fall apart like Leeds United on steroids.

That’s football. It’s inexplicable. Perhaps inexcusable. The team losing their way the second Christian Norgaard limped off. Only Josh Dasilva and Sergi Canos keeping us in it. But one man shouldn’t make that much of a difference and for whatever reason, they were off their game today. Marcondes invisible. Jensen likewise. Benrahma a shadow of the talent who electrified us on Thursday night. The back four leakier than Julian Assange. Sometimes it happens. When one or two go awol, the rest of the team can generally cover them. Do it en-masse and you bring on the inevitable. Which in this case was four goals conceded in 18 second half minutes. What looked at one stage like certain victory turned into a brutal humbling.

Credit to Preston, btw. They went for it and got what they deserved. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Goal followed goal followed goal followed goal. Ivan Toney’s early brace rendered nothing more than a statistical nicety. The opportunity was there and they took it. No complaints here. No sour grapes.

For me, the big take away was Brentford fan social media. Genuinely, I don’t get it. My longevity as a supporter doesn’t make my opinion or viewpoint any more relevant or important than that of those who have jumped on the Brentford bandwagon in more recent years. We want the club to grow. We want our stadium full. We want new supporters. 

I’ve seen a lot of awfulness over those forty years. I’ve had a lot of fun, too. Yet until Matthew Benham came along we know that the good times were very much the thin end of the wedge. A genuine playing talent something that came long once every five years and was inevitably sold the second we received our first offer.

Now, we’re generally winning for fun. We’re turning vast profit on our transfer business as though that was the BAU model for any football club. Watching Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa destroy Liverpool at Aston Villa on Sunday evening just another reminder of how well our former players do when making that next step. How much we make, funds vital for keeping alive a club that was shaking buckets in easy living memory, when they take that leap.   

So why are ‘fans’ now so quick to turn on a team that have already reached the quarter-finals of the league cup and had picked up 4 points out of 9 prior to what was an absolute debacle? Why the hate campaign from certain quarters against certain players? Why the expectation that we should win every game? Why the calls for Thomas Frank’s head? Of course people get upset about losing but this has been going on well before that. It’s almost as though they relished the excuse of a diabolical showing – we’ve chucked in a couple a season as long as I’ve been coming – to really then let rip.

I can’t answer that. Lonely? Self-indulgent? Craving attention? Small penis? Who knows? Brentford were bobbins but it was one game. But for those arbitrary moments on which football turns we would have drawn or beaten Birmingham City. Millwall away is never easy but we still took a point. Huddersfield were annihilated. We were shocking against Preston. All round. But one lousy performance in weird circumstances does not even come close to justifying some of the abuse being dished out. And yes, there is a mute button. Or a block. But this isn’t about that. It’s about trying to get the head round why anybody who purports to be a fan thinks this is even vaguely appropriate at any time. Let alone when we have a new stadium, a team that came so close last time out and a solid start to the season. For me, Clive, this really was the moment they jumped the shark (and kids, if you are somehow reading – if you can read – go look that one up).

Was Sunday the moment we finally jumped the shark on social media?

It’s not been electric in the league but we are getting better as our team adjust to a new striker and an absent Benrahma / Raya. Sunday WAS horrific but it was one game. Look at Nottingham Forest whose record reads LLLL. Look at Manchester United – shipping six goals at home to Spurs. Liverpool took an absolute tonking at Aston Villa. Even I’d agree with Dean Smith that his team ‘deserved to win’ this one. Not everybody can do it every game. Although, apparently, Brentford must. 

I could go on but, really, what’s the point? I’d love to win every match but that’s just not how football works. If you are of the mentality that bullying certain players, calling for a successful head coach to be sacked and abusing fellow fans is justifiable then this won’t change a thing. If you are in the other camp then we already agree.  Players have off games and it is absolutely right and proper that we can comment on it. That we can analyse a game. See who might have done better or been switched. But that requires a brain. Requires a genuine opinion. Requires the ability to reply without having to resort to ‘f*ck off’ or ’n*nce’ as your counter argument to anyone trying to defend our team.

We had a stinker. No question. It was rancid . But it was also one game. Get over yourselves, kids. Try showing a bit of support. Try enjoying yourself. Teams don’t win every game. Team have off days. Players have shockers. Looks at Manchester United. Look at Liverpool. Errr, Klopp out?? 

Hey, perhaps he can take over from Thomas Frank. Alternatively, get a grip.

At times like this there can be only one explanation

Nick Bruzon

Brentford join the rest of the pack on a day of shocks. And kids, get over yourselves.

4 Oct

Article proper is now over the page. Identical (typos aside) but now with a few pictures etc. You can find it here

Nick Bruzon

It was Boy’s Own stuff on Thursday but who starts now ?

3 Oct

The League Cup has been and gone. Brentford are through and that’s fantastic but that’s also as far as it goes. For now. Thoughts of a Christmas quarter-final with Newcastle United can wait for another month or so. Instead, the focus is back on the Championship and Sunday afternoon’s visit from Preston North End. With the mood at Lionel Road one of optimism – as much due to the performance of Said Benrahma as off-field updates that came in a new signing and the David Raya to Arsenal story finally being put to bed – the big question being who starts? And up at Aston Villa, the love story between Dean Smith and  Jota has come to an end.

First though, Brentford. Cripes. Who’d be a head coach? What lovely problems for Thomas Frank to have. What decisions to make. Everyone’s a manager and will have different options as to the team. Sergi Canos has been wonderful but Said Benrahma sent a reminder about what he can do in the most jaw-dropping style.

‘That’ goal against Fulham, with Michael Hector humiliated by the backwards nutmeg, before the Algerian lashed it low and hard into the bottom corner from distance was pure Boys Own stuff. A more incredible return than the second coming of Jota.

Benrahma’s skils – an obscene publication?

Then there’s Mbeumo and Ghoddos. The waiting for Saman was rewarded as he provided the perfect tee up for Marcus Forss to open the scoring on Thursday.  Bryan is immense though. We all know his pace down the flanks and prowess in front of goal. Could Emiliano be sweating tonight as we at least try to fit three of the four into the starting XI? That’s before you even consider Toney v Forss. The big money replacement for Ollie Watkins or the young pretender with the thunderbolts in his boots and the habit of scoring whenever he takes the field?

Dominic Thompson had a great game whilst in goal, David Raya has shown just why Arsenal were so heavily linked. Those rumours should now be dispelled for a while after it was confirmed our number one had signed a four year contract extension on Friday. Pity Luke Daniels who has done a fine job deputising in the league for a man who has pulled off some world class saves during the Cup run. A man who, don’t forget, is the current holder of the Championship golden gloves.

Luke, of all, has most to lose should Thomas twist rather than stick when it comes to selection for Preston. Having waited his turn, it has finally come. Drop him back to the bench and you may aswell start looking to the B team for our reserve ‘keeper. That is, assuming Luke wants first team football. He’s more than good enough for it at this level, that’s for sure. I don’t envy Thomas that choice or that conversation – with either ‘keeper.

For me, Clive, assuming there are no injury doubts I think he’ll go :

Raya, Henry, Dalsgaard, Pinnock, Jansson, Norgaard, Dasilva, Marcondes, Benrahma, Mbeumo, Toney.

It’s going to be harsh on anybody who misses out after Thursday but with international break approaching, this is the time to go for it. Personally speaking, I’d love to see Marcus Forss start but if nothing else the bench should be tastier than a slice of sour-dough toast smeared in marmite i.e very.

Elsewhere, there’s been more transfer news. The bees have signed German Under-21 Vitaly Janelt from VfL Bochum. There was no pretence about the  midfielder’s skillset from Thomas, describing him as “Dynamic in his play and strong in the middle when it comes to duels. Most importantly, he has the aggressiveness and intensity in the high press that we want to have”.

Another classic set of signing photos suggesting we’ve picked up a player who would fit in as well as alongside a Jonathan Douglas or Christian Norgaard as he would in a cold war era spy thriller. Think the Man From Uncle or anything from the second best Bond, Connery.

All being well Vitaly is as stylish on field as he is off it

700 words in and no mention our opponents. Well, those early season results are tricky to get too much of a reading from. The Lilywhites have only managed a single point so far but that was up at Carrow Road – not a performance to be sniffed at. Are home defeats to Stoke and Swansea the sign of a team on the way out or simply one finding their feet in another bizarre season of behind-closed-doors football?  

We’ll find out on Sunday afternoon, that’s for sure. Season ticket holders should have been sent their I-follow codes by now. Don’t forget those all important tricks to ensure stress free sign on… Firstly, use Chrome. Not Safari. Surely something as simple as an internet browser thingy shouldn’t make such a significant difference but, as we now know, it does. Secondly, even though the codes allow you to watch for free, credit cards details are still required. Presumably supporters wanting to watch the Huddersfield game the other week will have now bypassed that pitfall but for anybody just coming in from work, please be aware.

And talking of watching football over the internet… Rasmus, bring forth the crowbar. The latest edition of ‘The Warm Up’ has now gone live on YouTube. Marcus and Stu are again joined by Karleigh Osborne for a look back at Fulham and Millwall along with a couple of very special challenges. Even  Harlee Dean, sorry Crash Bandicoot, puts in an appearance in the ‘nutmeg’ challenge. There’s another competition and the results of last week’s. Plus a forfeit that must now be paid. And how……

Finally, Jota. I make no secret of the fact he has been my favourite Brentford player in years. As much for the hair. The excitement of Benrahma, the last minute goals, the leaving opponents for dead (poor Jake Bidwell) and the return from loan after his love-letter to the fans. It all ended on somewhat of a disappointing note with the triple transfer swoop by ten times better Birmingham City before the King finally found his place in the top flight with Aston Villa. 

Sadly though, it wasn’t to be. After just 16 appearances his contract has been cancelled a year early by mutual consent. He is a free agent and surely Spain beckons? I mean, there’s no way he’ll come back here a third time. Is there…?

I’ll never forget all those good times and wonderful moments. Hail to the King. Wherever he goes.

Oh Jota…. Any excuse

Nick Bruzon

Can anyone beat Droid Owusu? Are these the three best videos ever?

30 Sep

With Brentford facing home games against both Fulham (cup) and Preston North End (league) in the next few days, there’s going to be a whole load of on-pitch stuff to talk about between now and Monday morning. So for now, there a bit of a round up regarding season tickets – admin and humour. Plus, because we can, the latest in the series of ‘spotter denied’ videos. Something which is nothing to do with football but always worth a watch – even if it did see legions of Harry Potter fans (the boy wizard rather than the green-jacketed super fan) left distraught. Stop sniggering.

Brentford’s own Harry Potter

First up, season tickets. Friday October 2nd is the deadline to ‘Freeze. Reserve. Refund’.  Whilst, for many, the first option is the most practical, individual circumstances may well be different. These are tough times for many. As such I guess this is as much a note to remind supporters that the default option for taking no action will be ‘Freeze’, with all the associated benefits of course.

The club have sent reminder emails whilst anybody with questions can either email tickets@brentfordfc.com with your query or call our Box Office team on 0333 005 8521 and they will be happy to assist you. Not my words etc but I’m sure it is true. Our ticket office have been one of the standout areas of supporter service in recent years.

Option selected

There is also a third option, our new ‘chatbot’. Cripes, I hate these things normally. The shame faced attempt to lure you into the belief you are talking-to a human being when, infact, it’s nothing more than series of computer generated responses designed to match up to common questions. Hurrah for algorithms. Said nobody ever.

Brentford official have now gone down this route too but there’s no pretence. Quite the opposite. We’re advertising it. And how. There’s a quite magnificent thread on Twitter, asking supporters to come up with a name for our own in-house ‘bot’. Why we need to name it I’ve no idea, beyond awareness, but it has spawned a quite magnificent thread of bot-based bad Bees punnery. Whilst blowing my own trumpet, I defy even Jim Levack at his Middlesex Chronicle big book of 80s alliteration best to beat that one.

But , as ever, its all about substance rather than headline. And what substance. For me, Clive, the stand out contenders are.

Mark Chatman 

Murray Drones

Botinho

Droid Owusu

Johnny 5 – Birmingham 0

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chatman get it. Great wordplay and as popular a name in recent times as Ollie Botkins or anyone else associated with the club.  Botinho is magnificent, too, although there’s a danger it would only run for 13 minutes then disappear without a trace. Murray Drones is probably more one for the grown ups (and remember kids, don’t have nightmares) whilst Droid Owusu deserves it on merit alone. Quite brilliant. 

As Tom Arron noted on Twitter: Someone said Droid Owusu? They win.

The full thread is here. Help yourself and why not play along too? Is it too late for me to add Harry Botter?

Next up, Harry Potter. Or, rather, Potter fans. We’re all, I am sure, with the trainspotter denied orgasm video. One of the all time classic YouTube clips, there is no explanation required. All I’ll say is to wait for the exasperated cry of “bollocks” before anything even comes into view. You can hear the anticipation falling off a cliff.

Another video has started doing the rounds now of something similar happening up in Scotland. The chance to see the ‘Hogwarts Express’ was denied fans of the popular children’s character when another commuter service got in the way. If only they could make the 18.26 to Edinburgh disappear….

To this series of shorts, we’ve also been sent this one. From the States. The moment the historic (apparently) Georgia Dome was demolished. With onlookers all set to capture the moment for posterity, a bus pulls up to…. well, just take a look.

They’re nothing to do with football, of course, but sometimes you just need to realise that however bad life feels, there’s always somebody else having their day ruined. With Griffin Park now in line for a similar fate at some point, will the first swing of the wrecking ball be recorded forever or caught behind an Amazon delivery truck?

To be honest, I’d rather not think about it. Perhaps let’s just rewatch Potter once more.

Nick Bruzon

Top, top football. Just two more to go….

16 Jul

And relax. For now. Brentford have done it again. This time with a hard fought 1-0 at home to Preston North End. That’s eight wins in a row and the gap to second placed West Bromwich Albion cut to a single point with two games to go. Ollie Watkins got the goal early doors, setting the scene for a stressful but solid performance to keep the visitors at bay. With us and the Baggies both facing trips to relegation threatened teams this weekend (West Brom at Huddersfield Town on Friday evening and then our own game with Stoke City the following lunchtime) there’s everything to play for heading in to the last few games.

My word that was tough. For the fans. The players looked comfortable and in control all the way through but a goal can be conceded in a moment. In a freak of nature. At the death and then all the hard work is undone. We’ve all been there too many times over the years. Thankfully, this team haven’t.

Ollie had found the back of the net with less than five minutes on the clock.  A thunderbolt of a shot on the half volley, latching on to a quite delightful ball through from Emiliano Marcondes. The Championship top scorer almost taking goalkeeper Declan Rudd’s head off as he unleashed a howitzer from just outside the corner of the six yard box with a defender bearing down.

Truly, it was class finish although as much praise is due to the build up play that saw Emiliano set a high water mark for Championship assists since the return from lockdown. Yet instead of opening the floodgates as so often happens, Preston stood firm. If anything, they came back in to the game and could probably consider themselves unlucky not to go in level. David Raya was on fine form between the sticks for his sixteenth clean sheet of the season – more than any other goalkeeper in the division. That’s when the Lilywhites got through – Christian Norgaard was as much a rock in front of the back four as Pontus Jansson was at the heart of it.

Watching on TV, you could see him bellowing, directing, guiding and shaping his team. The club captain filling the role in style. What a man to have around you in a pressure situation. How important could his experience prove over the next couple of days?

It was a stonking win, with absolute credit due to Preston. The longer the game went on the less likely it felt – to those of us watching back at home on TV – that a second goal would come. Instead, it was a case of gritted teeth and waiting for the clock to slowly wind down. Limping towards full time at almost snail like pace before a torturous five additional minutes were added on. Like being strapped to a chair and force fed Mrs. Brown’s Boys, there was palpable relief when it was all over. At least, from the fans watching at home. I’m sure the players will tell us they had no worries and it was all under control.

But for all the discomfort of watching the game from a distance, it played out wonderfully. The final score at full time shows it ended 1-0 to Brentford and the record books won’t give a damn that Preston did everything possible to keep there own play-off dream alive. The table doesn’t lie and we’re that single point behind West Bromwich Albion.

Having reached a place where we are now breathing down the neck of a team who were ten points ahead of us before the season took that mid-season hiatus, can we go that bit further? To come out of a game like that with the win is a sign of our top, top football. Our spirit. Our never say die approach.

To an extent, control is still out of our hands. Favours are still required. Even assuming we fulfil our part of the bargain, we are still beholden on assistance from Huddersfield Town or the Loftus Road mob. Could it really be a tale of two Marks to help get the Bees over the line? Chief executive Devlin or manager Mark respectively. 

That’s to come though. And all out of our hands. Even Thomas Frank admitted he’d be watching the game on Friday – but only because he’d have nothing else to do on the coach to Stoke.

We’ll be with you Thomas . In mind if not body.

Nick Bruzon

Chief exec confirms Dream Team should return, kit update and stadium news.

18 Apr

Saturday afternoon. 4pm. Brentford fans should be getting ready for a potential promotion deciding second half against Preston North End ( I won’t say in whose favour, given the current state of the paused table) . Instead, all over cyberspace we’re stepping back in time to our victory over the same opposition that saw the Bees finally reach the Championship following the something , something, something penalty against Doncaster the previous season.  And we’ve had to get our main football fix from the morning’s Q&A with Bees Chief Executive ‘Jon’ Reg Varney  – the latest guest in the GPG live webcast hotseat. And the post match celebrations will, instead, be filled with the latest results from the World Cup of Brentford shirts as the polls close at 7pm.

Screenshot 2020-04-18 at 17.40.12

Jon spoke for a good two hours.

First up, Jon Varney. Just where on earth did two hours go? But enough about the talk through of his career history which opened proceedings. I half expected him to conclude the opening monologue with a Partridge-esque, “Needless to say, I had the last laugh”. Yet, in retrospect, this was the perfect introduction as it gave us mere mortals a peek behind the curtain of a man who has worked in all manner of sporting capacities since leaving school. A man who is a Brentford fan through and through, with name checks to his heroes from the 80s and 90s peppering the conversation. A man who almost didn’t take the role for the simple fact of it interfering with his football weekend. A man who exuded knowledge but, perhaps more importantly, an understanding of what makes the fans tick and how important the club is to us. And vice-versa. 

Following Martin Allen was always going to be a big ask and so fair play to the chief exec for not only stepping up to the plate but then hitting it out of the (Griffin) park. It was captivating. It was emotional. It was honest. It was frank. The questions were broad with nothing really off limits, barring those topics covered off by Phil Giles two weeks ago. Even then, it was more to give everyone from a large audience the chance to get involved. And didn’t we just.

There were updates on the new stadium’s readiness (as good as), test events that were being considered and the preparations / plans for the Barnsley game where we had been in discussion with the Oakwell outfit to limit their supporter numbers in order that more of us could see that last game at Griffin Park. Lionel Road season ticket sales and next steps were covered (payments due for May now looking to be deferred over the three months to July) and even discussion around a relocation for the programme collector’s club. The club was confirmed to be in great financial health over the immediate months and we also talked at length about the possibility of the season being played out behind closed doors. Sadly. 

Should that happen then the list of those looking to don the ballboys’ tracksuit already seems to be growing with even Trevor Inns hoping to pull his Adidas ventex out of the gym locker. Personally, I’ll be going for the ‘mascot’ option. No holding hands with Pontus though – purely for reasons of social distancing. In all seriousness though, should we be unable to attend in person then it seems i-follow will be the way to go.

Yet the big question was one about that perennial favourite on these pages, Sky One’s Dream Team. You may well know the drill in regards to Harchester United (and if not, here’s the main cut and thrust) but Jon’s earlier involvement in the show brought an intriguing possibility to the fore . One supporter proposed that, ”You’ve said how the new stadium gives us new opportunities. You’ve talked about sky and your previous involvement with Dream Team. Could we see the new stadium used to relaunch the show? 

What followed was nothing short of a love letter to the show with the acknowledgment, ”Wouldn’t it be good to get Dream Team back on the screen at the new stadium.” That’s as good as a yes in my eyes. You heard it here first. Well, second after the live chat this morning. Dream Team will return. And it could be filmed at Lionel Road. Possibly.

Certainly, that’s how I understood things. Nothing was actually confirmed. Instead the subsequent elaboration that with football and rugby dominating stadium usage it was unlikely there would be opportunity for anything else was, I can only presume, a cunning smokescreen designed to throw people off the scent.

There was even time for kit talk – that is, when we weren’t hypnotised by Greville Waterman mopping his kitchen floor (never forget when the camera is on). Jon bigged up the wonderful partnership with Umbro and confirmed that next season’s home shirt will be red and white, albeit made of a slightly heavier material than the current version. Adding that he really likes it.

He wouldn’t be drawn on the colour of the away shirt although did confirm that this season’ incarnation was probably out best selling change strip. By contrast, the much loved brown/orange hadn’t sold well. I’m genuinely shocked by this. Who’d have thought that so many fans would have had such strange taste ?

Screenshot 2020-04-18 at 17.44.26

Greville, the clue is in the word ‘Recording’

Those were the highlights that stuck in my mind. Billy Reeves feed has a great transcript whilst I understand that the full play back will take place in the coming days when the video of today’s event is released. Do take a look. These words won’t do justice to a morning where Jon showed what makes Brentford such a special club. Where the fans are at the forefront of everything. A place where Matthew Benham’s agenda is one that has ‘affordable football’ at the top of the priority list.

Next up is a double header that has the potential to be the best yet – Sam Saunders and Kevin O’Connor. Bring it on. I can’t wait to dip my toes into Saunders territory on Saturday.

As ever, HUGE thanks not just to Jon but also Trevor, the GPG and his team who made this happen. The logistics and behind the scenes stuff to line this up and make it all as seamless as possible are not to be underestimated. Do tune in next Saturday for Sam and Kevin then who knows who might be next up after that….. 

To close out today, have you voted in the World Cup of Brentford Shirts as yet? The Semi-final rounds conclude at 7pm so do feel free to add your opinion. They can be found on Twitter at Brentford In Colour /  @beesincolour.

Here’s The Group of Death to whet your appetite. Enjoy…..

Nick Bruzon

What’s that noise? Tumbleweed!

10 Nov

And there we go. Quite magnificent. Brentford returned to three goal winning ways with as comprehensive a scoreline as one could hope for on the road following our 0-3 defeat of Wigan Athletic on Saturday. The horror show of the laboured Huddersfield Town game (something that should have seen both teams banned under the Geneva convention) was well and truly laid to rest after a victory that sees us climb to within two points of the play-off zone. Elsewhere, the aforementioned Terriers were trounced at Preston North End in a game of particular significance to look at shortly. Yet, as ever, we can only start with The Bees.

Screenshot 2019-11-10 at 08.36.53

Official Twitter show the celebrations

What can you say? Well, in theory not much. There was no real chance of attending this one whilst for multiple reasons, Friday night saw sleep a rarer commodity than a Nick Proschwitz goal. As such, Saturday afternoon saw my time spent curled up on the sofa, drifting in and out of a light snooze with Jeff Stelling and WhatsApp. Not literally, I’m not for one second suggesting Jeff sleeps with viewers. It was more the case of dozing in front of the TV as random dreams of Paris, The Eiffel Tower and other such romantic notions were punctuated by the phone going off or an excited shriek from the Soccer Saturday studio. 

And there was a lot of vibrations and shrieking. WhatsApp didn’t stop buzzing from the moment the team were announced. If we’re being honest with ourselves, days gone by would have seen the selection of number 10 as something to fill supporters with a sense of disappointment. Of dread. Of midfield nothingness. Nowadays, 10 is the first number we look for on the team sheet. The fleet-footed Algerian Benrahma having inherited the shirt and filled it with a joie de vivre so clearly missing in previous seasons. 

DSC06416

Number 10 – popular with the fans !

So come 2pm, here was the team. Our group have several traditions. One Braemar Road observer will always send the line up around once official have published it at 2.01pm. Another will then remark that the bench looks weak. It’s as much part of football’s rich tapestry of supporter ritual as not shaving on a winning run, lucky shirts, magic pants et al. And this weekend’s message saw Benrahma awol. Noooooo. On a day where we’d only that morning noted the need to undo our own shackles, and those of the opposition, our skeleton key was missing. Hamstring, rather than agent. Thankfully.

Into his boots stepped Joel Valencia. The side, otherwise unchanged from the one which had trounced QPR before falling down agasint Huddersfield. Whatever Thomas Frank said prior to kick off, it worked. And then some. We were most definitely back in ‘attack mode’. 

Five minutes gone and the phone buzzed. ‘Bryan’ . Jeff and the team then confirmed Mbeumo had done it again. Get in. This was good. Too good. If anything, might we have scored too early? Oh ye of little faith. This is not the Brentford of days gone by (mostly). 0-1 up at half time then saw the game, and the phone, explode in a manner not seen since the commentary on ‘that’ Jota goal at Blackburn. #Burridgegasm  .

“Kamo !! “

“Need to see that magical goal celebration tomorrow”

“Wigan red”

“Still plenty of room for 3-2”

And 2 up thanks to the brilliance of Mokotjo became 3 up thanks to a quite wonderful strike from Josh Dasilva. He doesn’t do simple, that’s for sure. Do check out the video highlights for all three but, for me Clive, his was definitely the pick of anther very strong bunch. As much for the way we tore and stretched Wigan. They were left looking so thin, and the Bees creating so much space, that you’d have found better markers in a packet of Sharpies. It really was destructive from The Bees. 

The only sour note being a straight red for Jeanvier deep into injury time for his part in a scuffle. Whether the club take it on the chin or appeal remains to be seen but that’s a problem for another day. For now, it’s another case of saying hats off to Thomas Frank. Hats off to Brentford. 

What’s that noise? Silence? Tumbleweed? No, its the Social media keyboard warriors who had been calling for his head and slagging him off as clueless creeping back under their rocks.  Fairplay to Thomas for keeping on doing what he is doing. 12 points and 12 goals form the last five games does tend to suggest he has his game plan exactly on course!  

IMG_9539

Thomas Frank – popular with the fans !

Next up is International break followed by the visit from Reading. They’ve hit a 10 out 12 point form run that makes this one an extremely interesting challenge. The table doesn’t lie but it is rebalancing itself. Nowhere more is this seen than at the top where West Brom (with Romaine Sawyers taking his game to the next level) and Preston occupy the top two slots.

North End destroyed Huddersfield yesterday to continue their inexorable climb upwards. Almost sneaking up the blindside to go past Leeds United into second place after their third win in a row. For me, the highlight of this one was Paul Gallagher’s second half penalty. It was on a par with Benrahma at QPR for the consummate lesson in how to finish from twelve yards. Power and precision very much the order of the day.

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Benrahma at QPR. Gallgher did similar

Yet Preston are mentioned to note that, much like Brentford, put the wins together and the rest happens naturally. Don’t worry about other clubs and other results. Concentrate on your own game. With the top half of Championship table locked up tighter than Alcatraz, if you keep winning then the potential for ascension remains huge. Thomas Frank is proving it. Alex Neil at Preston is proving it. Keep getting those wins on the board and then when somebody falls apart or hits the skids – boom ! Move in and move up.

The Bees are now doing it and have gone up to 9th. We’ve overtaken QPR. We’ve overtaken Birmingham City. Who can we overtake next?

Roll on Saturday week when we can find out.

Nick Bruzon

Bring it on! Championship action is back.

14 Sep

Preston boss Alex Neil faces a raft of injury concerns ahead of Brentford’s visit to Deepdale…… Not my words but those of the BBC big match preview this morning and, with the greatest respect to our hosts, great news for the travelling Bees. After the interminable wait through international break following the humping of Derby County – a period punctuated by the obvious results of double victory for England along with twin defeats for Gibraltar & Scotland (sorry, JJ) – we’re back to the important stuff. Championship action. And, as ever, I can’t wait.

There’s something quite special about that moment you wake up and, as the fog clears, realising that it’s a weekend. For most of us, there’s no mad rush to get ready for the school run. No stress of having to go to work for the day. No commuter hell to fight through just to face all manner of other challenges once you reach the office.

Instead, waking up can be done at leisure. Lie ins can be enjoyed – yours truly had the luxury of 7(seven)am today. Fantasy football teams can be prepared, BBC match previews read and blogs written. The morning can be eased in to. Until the mad rush to get ready for Harry’s football club begins. But it’s fun. It’s relaxing. Mrs B is asleep and H is yet to surface. A rare moment of stolen tranquility before the fun starts. 

And that’s all before train rides North and the proper action scan be served up where this afternoon we have Preston v Brentford as our dish of the day. I’m really excited about this one. We’ve already kicked last season’s away day blues in to touch with the win on the road at Middlesbrough. Last time out at Griffin Park was magnificent. Derby County were trounced in a game that saw us really unfortunate not to extend the 3-0 lead that had been built at half-time. 

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Raining (goals) last time out, against Derby County.

Brentford really were scintillating with the team looking solid at the back and irrepressible going forward. Wing back Sergi Canos a joy to behold. Bryan Mbuemo a new hero in the making. Ollie Watkins making centre-forward look more and more comfortable a role with each passing goal.

Then there was Saïd Benrahma – a player who seems to have a permanent smile on the face and one who has the ability to pass it on to the supporters, too. Words cannot say how pleased I am that we’ve retained the mercurial wide man. Consolidating our form and position over the next few months will be crucial to retaining his services, one would presume, as the top flight can only be his inevitable home. Fingers crossed it will be with Brentford.

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Just a few men of the moment. 

Getting ahead of ourselves, perhaps, but one needs to aim high. It’s part of being a football fan. One of the many reasons we come . The expectation. The hope. Yes, there’s the social side too. Something that is more prevalent on those wonderful away days we get to experience in the Champinship. “Why are you leaving at 9am” asks Mrs Bruzon, “when the game doesn’t kick off until 3?”. She is yet to experience playing away and so doesn’t understand that the 90 minutes of on-pitch time are often the least enjoyable of the day.It’s as much about meeting your friends sharing that train ride, discovering a new pub in a new town and ticking another stadium off the list. The football itself is another bonus added to a great day out with your mates. Especially when there’s a win at the end of this.

And today, Preston is the place. This one won’t be easy, despite their own apparent injury concerns. Even at this early stage in proceedings the Deepdale outfit find themselves separated from the play-off zone by nothing more than goal difference. It is a  position they will no doubt expect to consolidate after three wins out of three in the league (Stoke, Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan). Yet Brentford are no slouches. We’ve seen the team really start to find their feet as we adjust to the loss of Neal Maupay and the acquisitions of those new faces. Derby County was the quintessential demonstration that Thomas Frank has the tools at his disposal. How he uses them today will be key.

Thankfully, injury is not something that will trouble him. Whilst we had nobody on England duty (one day…one day), those who did represent their countries have come back healthy. And hopefully not too tired ! With England scoring goals for fun – and shipping them too – supporters went home happy after the victories over Bulgaria and Kosovo last week. We won’t overly dwell on Gibraltar v Denmark and Switzerland, where the ‘shipping’ was our main issue.

The point being that it was still enjoyable. But it was still England qualifying. A largely redundant exercise for those seeking a competitive edge given the size of the groups, the amounts of teams who can get through and the quality of those playing. Give me the Championship any day of the week. At least until the tournament proper kicks off in 2020.

Until then, here’s to Preston away. Enjoy…..

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Supporters enjoy watching England win at Wembley

Nick Bruzon

Neal’s going nowhere (fact) as Thomas unleashes his Action Forss. What a finish!

6 May

The morning after the night before. For you, Bees fans, the season is over. The wait until August 3rd already seems an interminable one yet, at the same time, what a way to end the campaign. What a high to finish up on. As comfortable a 3-0 won for Brentford as one could hope to see, with Preston swept aside and barely a glimmer off resistance offered. An incredible 13 minutes of first half injury time added on as fans feared the worst for Julian Jeanvier, knocked cold within the first 30 seconds but thankfully back on pitch by full time for the customary lap of honour. Another goal for Neal Maupay. Peter Gilham on fire. A top 11 finish for The Bees whilst that ever useful yardstick, the difference between us and ten times better Birmingham City, was this time around recorded as 12 points. In our favour. And Leeds United fell apart. Again. This is all before you even get to the sad farewells and the player of the year do.

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An anxious wait

The other key point, of course, being that this time next season there’ll be no more Griffin Park. No more waking up and imagining our return in a few months time. That’s not to be fearful of Lionel Road but merely to note how much we should appreciate our current home whilst we still can. Taking the kids for a pre-match stroll around TW8 and up to the club shop for the magnificent scarves c/o Audrey (thank you again, so much) it really began to hit home. We’ve all known this is coming but suddenly things seem very, very close. And I’m one of the lucky ones fortunate to have the stadium as a near neighbour. For others, I can only imagine those moments are disappearing quicker than Keith Stroud waving a yellow card.

Still, that’s for the future. For now, let’s savour another incredible afternoon. The pre-match vibe was killed stone-dead within moments of kick-off following the horrific looking injury suffered by Jeanvier. The haste with which referee Mr. Linnington and the players in his vicinity summoned the medical staff told you all you needed to know. Over ten minutes of treatment later the neck brace, oxygen and some very delicate stretcher work had us all fearing the worst. Sickening. Absolutely sickening. Sergi Canos in particular, seemed particularly shaken with his emotions going through the roof. Something seen moments after play resumed where he was quite direct in his asking the linesman what game he was watching.

With no further news as to the injury forthcoming and fans fearing the worst, it’s no surprise things took a while to get going once more but when they did, wow!! It was another master class in the Thomas Frank brand of free flowing football that we’ve all come to know and love. This, without Romaine Sawyers or Saïd Benrahama on the pitch but inspired once more by Sergi and Neal. Rico Henry ripping it up down the left flank. Moses Odubajo on the other side, winning balls he had no right to even come second to after a few ‘bambi on ice’ moments.

Ezri Konsa got the first. On what the clock says was 45 although there were close to another ten minutes played after that. One can only imagine the havoc this would have caused had there been a Big Bob Giveaway happening. The centre back swept it past ‘keeper Connor Riley to break his Brentford duck and effectively kill the game stone dead going in to half time. Preston had offered nothing to this point and were now left a mountain to climb.

It got worse for them in the second half. Brentford picked up where they left off and the second goal was only a matter of time. Sergi was inspired as he pushed and pushed before eventually setting up who else but Neal Maupay for his 25th league goal of the campaign. Yet such was his contribution and celebration that Peter Gilham, quite rightly, name checked the Spaniard for the assist as part of his goalscorer announcement. But it was that sort of day. Our man with the mic feeling the moment as much of anybody in the stands. I’ve not heard such voluminous cheering since Boris Johnson took the stage at the Conservative Party Conference and was greeted with cries of “Britain Trump. Britain Trump. Britain Trump.”

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Neal has been wonderful this season

As for the third, it was something anybody in Griffin Park will never forget. A side that was already seeing some heavy B-team presence with Marcondes, Racic and Dasilva all starting the game, ended it with more than a passing nod to Kevin O’Connor’s side. Ollie and Sergi were subbed late on for Jaakko Oksanen and Marcus Forss. And four minutes later it was 3-0. Marcus Forss with a quite wonderful run through the Preston midfield before firing home low and hard from distance.

Riley was left once more with no chance yet if Sergi had enjoyed his own moment, this was next level celebration. The young Finn running full tilt towards the home fans on the Ealing Toad. Arms aloft and loving it. Absolutely loving it. Fist pumps, Cheers. Acknowledgements. Big grins. He just kept going and going. It had the works. Yet understandably so.

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What a finish

And there it ended. 3-0 and up to 11th. Whilst we couldn’t, quite, make it five Championship top ten finishes in a row it was near as it gets. To come top half, yet again, still a quite magnificent from a squad that is founded upon discovering untapped potential and selling at profit when the time is right. Contrast this to your Leeds United and Birmingham City type teams. I cite these two in particular given the ongoing glut of tinpot accusations and ridiculous levels of overspending that have already led to some terrible acquisitions and points deductions.

Leeds have, once more, thrown away a seemingly impregnable position (although at least they are in the play offs. This season). Yesterday’s capitulation to Ipswich Town telling you all you need to know about theur current mental fragility. I still think they can do it but my word, Marcelo Bielsa will need to deliver the mother of all pep talks in the coming days.

As for ten times better Birmingham, there’s no team I enjoy trouncing more. And boy are Blues the gift that keeps on giving. Looking at our relative form over the last five seasons in the Championship, I’m spotting a trend here…..

2014/15: Brentford 5th   (78 points) Birmingham City 10th (63 points)

2015/16: Brentford 9th   (65 points) Birmingham City 10th (63 points)   

2016/17: Brentford 10th (64 points) Birmingham City 19th (63 points)

2017/18: Brentford 9th   (69 points) Birmingham City 19th (46 points)  

2018/19: Brentford 11th (64 points) Birmingham City 17th (52 points)   

You can’t make up that form of consistency and I cannot wait to see what next season brings. One thing we can be sure of is that we have now seen Yoann Barbet play his last Brentford game. Both the player and Thomas Frank have confirmed that it will be very much a case of ‘Au revoir’ for this fan favourite.

 I’m genuinely saddened. The passion and versatility alone are going to be a huge job to replicate. His popularity second to none as he went out of his way to show the love for all things, and fans, red and white. Yet fan love alone does not make a football team and, as we have now seen many times, our Directors of Football would seem to very much know what they are doing. I shot my emotional bolt after the loss of Jota and Maxime Colin to Birmingham yet look how that all played out. I’m gutted to see Yoann go, from a personal level as much as anything else, but trust implicitly what we are doing.

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What a man

The flip side to all of this is Neal Maupay. Last night he scooped supporters’ player of the year aswell as the same accolade from his team mates. He is one of the most hotly sought after talents in this squad and there’s no doubt his name will be linked with all manner of clubs over the summer.

The goals alone only tell half the story. There’s the pace, the approach play and, like Yoann and Sergi, that raw passion. He absolutely loves it and the fans love him like no other player I’ve seen in a while. Even better, everything he says suggests there is no intention whatsoever to leave. He’s already said as much to BBC Radio London and then yesterday afternoon did one of those things that you only get at Griffin Park –  he took a post-match stroll down Braemar Road and past The Griffin pub.

Seizing the opportunity to do my own one man Ian Moose impersonation although without the pies, corpulence or slagging off Maupay’s goal scoring ability (how IS that working out for you Ian?) – why not take the chance of a picture and to ask about next season’s plans? The answer was as categoric as they come. Definitely staying. Not moving. Absolutely loves it here. He even shook hands on it and promised. Fact.

Neal, just for the record we all know that a promise to a fan is as legally binding as any contract. Don’t let any agents tell you otherwise!

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Happy birthday to my good friend – to coin an (incorrect) phrase

Next season is going to be special. Very special. The emotion of leaving Griffin Park something that you can’t buy. The enthusiasm from Thomas Frank infectious. That he has won over the fans so incredibly well tells you all you need to know about his character, his mindset and his own popularity levels. With players like Ollie, Sergi, Neal and Saïd in the team, you know there are goals to come. Josh Dasilva has impressed in his late season cameos. Marcus Forss has hit the ground running. The difference that the return of Kamo made was quite apparent whilst some of Romaine Sawyers ball control has been nothing short of sizzling.

Of course players will go over the summer. They will also come. That’s how things work at Brentford. Yet if we keep the key components in the squad then this could be as exciting a close (closed?) season as it will be when things kick off once more in August.

For now, thank you Mr. Benham. Thank you Thomas Frank. Thank you Neal, Saïd, Sergi et al. Thank you Yoann. Most of all, thanks to all my fellow supporters for making 2018/19 special in so many ways. I’ve got a felling 2019/20 is when this pahse of life at Brentford is all going to come together. And I cannot wait.

See you there….

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Nick Bruzon

Farce of the missing game comes to an end. Can we end on a high ?

4 May

Pope declares his admiration for the Catholic faith. Bear defecates in small forest. Laurence Bassini has insufficient cash.  EFL call off Bolton v Brentford. The most obvious facts since records began were formally, finally, declared yesterday morning with the Bees being awarded a nominal 1-0 win and all three points for the game which will not be played and never had a hope in hell of happening the second it was called off last Friday. Instead, Sunday lunchtime’s visit from Preston North End will now become our final game of the season and, with it, the chance to secure a top ten finish is still on. Likewise, the chance to ensure that the nine points deducted from Birmingham City for breaking financial regulations give no chance of claiming ‘if only’ as we finish above them, again, with Bees already ten points better. 

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At least we got to play Bolton at home this season

What a mess. What a farce. What a shame. The only positive to come out of this in the immediate short term was the game being cancelled. Something which should have happened the exact same second Bolton Wanderers were unable to field a team. We all know the circumstances around why they did this, and there’s no vitriol being directed towards their first team, but the can of worms this opens with teams being able to cancel games unilaterally with no immediate form of solution, sanction or recourse available to the EFL is a worrying one. Might want to update that BCP plan, chaps.

Moreso, it begs the question as to how on earth they felt adequate safety personnel might be in place on Thursday afternoon when the next morning it was realised they wouldn’t. That being the formal reason the game was called off, rather than any considerations around fans, players or other clubs who now see Brentford climb to 12th after our third away win of the season.

Most frustratingly, there was no confirmation from the authorities as to whether we’d recorded the win in our magnificent away kit or who had scored the goal. With Neal Maupay (24) sitting four behind leading scorer Teemu Pukki of Norwich City (28) this would have been an excellent chance to try and narrow that gap. Instead, there’s only the Preston game left for Neal to try and finish top of the Championship pile .

Likewise, the brown and orange has been denied a triumphant farewell. Brentifrd fans were left crying into their beer last night at this devastating news, with Kitman Bob having used Twitter to declare that..

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For all I’m rooting for Neal in the goalscorer stakes, for the purposes of this result I’m pretty sure it was Sergi Canos on 7(seven) minutes who got this one. That said, it was @OllieW3BB on Twitter who probably wins the BBGiveaway this time around. His own shout for the time of the first goal deserving of more than a few ‘likes’ – something which at least one person seemed to appreciate.

Ollie: If my maths is right, the 8493rd min!!! Almost 6 days after KO 😂😂😂     

Kitman Bob: deserves a training top at least !!!

As for Brentford, like it or not as to how this happened we’re now up to 12th. I still say we would have won, regardless, and the point been Brentford’s had the game taken place on pitch.

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Brentford have won away?

If nothing else, The Trotters visit back in December brought about a most telling exchange in our house between Mrs. Bruzon and five year old Harry.

Rachel: “They won!! Does that mean the jinx is off and I can come back to football?”

Harry: “No mummy. Bolton were so bad that even if you’d been here Brentford would still have won”

Recent form and the current situation suggest nothing had changed on that front. Instead, we’re now in a position where, in theory, 10th place is still available. for that to happen we not only need to beat Preston on Sunday (something which is by no means a given) but also rely on favours. Including a win for Bolton at Nottingham Forest. With morale through the floor, the realist in me just can’t see that happening although I live in hope.

Regardless, our own victory is an essential. Primarily, to end the season on a high but as much to widen the gap over Birmingham City to a potential 13 points. That, an outcome which will please yours truly (at the least) for reasons which have been well documented on these pages and of which Harlee’s ten times better nonsense is only the most recent. Although at least on this day of piss weak ‘jokes’ (Star Wars fans, I’m looking at you) it has brought a smile to my face thinking about his interview and the on-pitch payback. Again. Thinking about their inability to beat us or finish above us. Again.

Roll on Sunday. See you there.

League after game 45

After 45 games, there’s still plenty to play for

Nick Bruzon