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Lasse, come home ! You’re going to look anything but a dog’s dinner.

18 Jul

Lorks”. Not my words but amongst those uttered by BBC Billy Reeves upon hearing the news that Brentford striker Lasse Vibe has been selected to represent Denmark in the forthcoming Rio Olympic games. Elsewhere, with all the gossip suggesting David Button could be on the move to Fulham (please, no) the Bees already know we could be lining up against a former goalkeeper this season. And there’s a further update on the new kit (those of a sensitive disposition may want to look away).

First up, Lasse Vibe. Wow. What an honour. The Olympics. Surely, selection for the games is at the very pinnacle of sporting achievement? The ultimate reward for dedication to a lifetime of training, clean living and hard work. Unless you are from Russia.

Seriously though, when the news broke today – published by Lasse on twitter and Instantgram – my first reaction was, like Billy, just one of immense pride and congratulations. Equally, one of torn emotions.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 19.57.15

Of course, the head will be hoping that the team of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (plus Channel Islands and other crown dependencies) sweep aside all before them but the thought of an Olympic gold medal at Griffin Park does have a certain resonance. And besides, Great Britain & NI won’t be participating in football this time around so Denmark can happily have that one.

The downside of this wonderful news is, of course, it means that Lasse will miss the start of the domestic season. With the Olympic final not taking place until 20 August, that could potentially rule him out of our first four Championship games. Who will support Scott Hogan up top? Would Scott and Lasse have started together anyway? Could this leave us short?

Whilst I’m sure Dean Smith will be thinking, “Lasse, come home” it would take the most churlish of supporters to wish him anything but the best and hope he returns with a gold medal in the back pocket.

And should Lasse make the final then it will take place on the same day Brentford travel to Rotherham (Rio or Rotherham, hmmmm). There, we could get the chance to test our shooting boots against none other than Lewis Price. The BBC report that he has signed a two year deal with the Millers. Here’s hoping that’s the last we hear about former Griffin Park goalkeepers being on the move.

The other news is that of our new kit. Specifically, and I apologise for flagrant self-promotion (which does feel a tad narcissistic ), given yours truly’s role in today’s latest ‘teaser campaign’.

Whilst most of us have seen various shots / perceived recreations of the new shirt doing the rounds of social media, I was fortunate enough to recently spend a morning at Griffin Park where, amongst other things, several supporters were given an early look at our new kit. And, I have to say, I love it.

Far be it from me to ruin any further launch surprise, beyond saying this : In my opinion, for what it’s worth, its our best home shirt in years – bold, distinct and with a bit of a retro vibe. I will be buying one. And, to be clear, I’m not on commission or the payroll.

Being equally honest, I can fully understand people’s reticence not to pre-order based on the teaser shots and the words of this kit nerd. Let’s just hope that when we finally get to see it in full, people like it as much as (personally) I think it deserves.

One fan’s ‘best ever’ is another’s ‘nightmare’. Who could forget the ‘prototype’ with the smudgy stripes that got booed all the way around Griffin park at the end of one season back in the 90s.

If we all liked the same things then life would be a very boring indeed? This time around though, I think we may end up very happy.

Nick Bruzon

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X-rated stuff at Rotherham. And that was just off the pitch

28 Feb

Two steps forward, two steps back. Not so much Paula Abdul and M.C. Skat Kat (kids, ask your parents) but the feeling around Brentford after a 2-1 defeat at Rotherham United yesterday. The Millers were always going to be tough opposition, given their perilous position in the relegation zone and so it proved. But with basement club Charlton Athletic going down to Reading by the odd goal in 7(seven) yesterday, at least we have a chance ‘to go again’ next weekend.

What can you say? I wasn’t at this one so had to rely on Bees Player, where Mark Burridge and Ciaran Brett brought us the action along with a cameo from Sean Ridley who appeared just before kick off. Our video whizz kid popped up holding what Mark described as the biggest hot dog ever, to opine further on the forthcoming game.

hot dog

A sausage added to the pre-match chat

In addition, one of the home supporters seemed to be doing his level best to join in with the commentary once it all kicked off. It was the sort of language more suited to an x-rated movie than a football match and highlighted the perils of building the press box amongst the supporters. One for the builders to take note of for Lionel Road, when it happens.

He seemed quite sure that the Brentford players were unable to do something, although I couldn’t quite figure out what. This, despite his constant screaming of “You can’t, you can’t” (at least, I think that’s what he was shouting). ‘Defend’ was the suggestion from one terrace wag. Well done Mark B in maintaining his composure throughout this first half barrage.

If it didn’t sound great the subsequent highlights show Rotherham had the lions’ share of chances. And goals. Indeed, when the most memorable thing to come out of the afternoon seems to have been the presence of Toumani in the away end (well played, that man) it’s one we’re just going to have to chalk off to experience and hope the Charlton game sees things get back to normal. Whatever normal is for this season.

Mark and Ciaran do their thing.

I have no quibbles whatsoever with Dean’s team selection. It was about as attacking as it comes given the options available to him at present. Sadly though, the heroics against Wolves just couldn’t be repeated.

Indeed, the lunchtime aperitif of Wolves v Derby showed that the men from Molineux can play a bit, when they put their mind to things. A 2-1 home victory was all the more noteworthy after a brace from George Saville of all people. Despite my own assertions on Wednesday, perhaps he can find the back of the net when he puts his mind to it.

As ever, Twitter was the other place to be for those not able to make the journey. Luis Adriano showing he knows as much about me when it comes to reading a game. It’s all his fault, perhaps?

image

Is Luis a goalkeeper? It’s all his fault

Then there were the post-match tweets from the players. Honest enough from their perspective although a somewhat familiar path being trod here. As one supporter (Jacks Dad) noted, “Cut and paste working overtime this season.

Harlee: Sorry to all who travelled up. No where near good enough.

Sergi Canos: Sorry to all who travelled up today…

I thought we might have turned a corner after the poor run that had preceded the Wolves game. Sadly it wasn’t to be, this time. To be honest, after a season of managerial upheaval, the pitchgate affair and all those player sales, when we look back it’ll probably be considered quite an achievement for Brentford to stay up this season. And if we can do it without any further unrest over the next few months, all the better.

Then again, we’re Brentford FC. We don’t do things normally or quietly.

It’s only Sunday morning yet already I can’t wait for the Charlton game. This is the club we support – whether in the Championship, Ryman Premier or any division. We may not always agree with the team selections, the staff appointments, the transfer policy or the tactics. We may not always leave the game happy when the referee blows his final whistle. Certainly, we may not always agree with each other.

But I’m a much happier man for knowing that regardless of everything else, the next game is just 6 days away.

Until then, here’s Paula Abdul and Skat Kat. Kind of….

Nick Bruzon

Will it be a red card for Mark or is all now forgiven?

27 Feb

Brentford travel to Rotherham United on Saturday afternoon, hoping to build on the back of Tuesday night’s 3-0 win against Wolves. On paper, the neutral would probably mark this as an ‘away’ on their coupon. The Millers are struggling in the relegation zone whilst online bookmakers show the Bees as slight favourites. But no pre-match bet can ever factor in that most random of elements – the referee. Today’s is one who, over the early stages of his career, managed to earn himself a ban for having at dig at Liverpool (amongst the several other clubs he managed to upset).

Mark Brown is our man in the middle today and, being honest, his stats are very impressive for this season. I don’t recall him troubling us in the past whilst 71 yellow and 2 red in his 21 games over 2015/16 suggest a record that is hardly in Trevor Kettle or Keith Stroud territory . The only slight caveat being that the four he has officiated at Championship level (he is yet to grace the Premier League) have seen 16 bookings and a red.

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Mark Brown – as seen in his Football League website bio (worth a read)

Of course, this could just mean the Championship is a more physical place and, likewise, two of those games have involved Birmingham City. In those encounters alone, 11 of the 16 yellows, along with one of the reds, were shown.

During his first season as a referee, Brown himself was shown the red card. He received a three week ban in 2011 for making fun of then Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard on Twitter. Specifically, his highlighting the Reds’ unlikely chance of winning the Premier League that season.

The football authorities took a somewhat dim view of this although, personally, I think it simply demonstrates his excellent knowledge of football. Liverpool have struggled to win a raffle over the last 10 years but, maybe, this Sunday will be different.

Trawling the internet (or, rather, typing ‘Mark Brown referee’ into google) took me to the BBC, where November 2013 saw him upsetting Dave Kitson of Oxford United. His assessment included the terms “horrific“, “horrendous“, and “He is probably the most arrogant man I have ever come across on the pitch in my life”.

According to Burnley fan site, ‘Clarets Mad’, that debut season saw Brown “ridiculously” send off Kieran Trippier for two yellow cards. They go on to note that manager Eddie Howe (during his spell of not being a Messiah), “accused him of being too influenced by the crowd

All of this was a while ago, of course. Brown doesn’t appear to have troubled anybody too much in recent seasons and his forays into the Championship would seem to suggest his career is now on the rise. Here’s hoping. There’s nothing worse than a card happy ref to ruin what should, otherwise, be a fascinating contest between a side fighting for survival and a Bees outfit who will be keen to show that Tuesday wasn’t a one off.

I’m full of confidence in regards to Mark. Stats don’t normally lie and those previously mentioned instances are in the past. Besides (crowbar alert) we could have Trevor Kettle ruining the show. When I said at the top end that no pre-match bet can factor in the ref, there is always an exception. And it is Kettle.

His reputation has now become so synonymous in the football world with poor performance that supporters are placing bets on his awarding a penalty / showing red today ( at odds of 6/1 and 4/1 respectively, for the record). The game is the bottom of league two clash Dagenham and Yeovil. With all to play for in a desperate struggle, could this come in…?

Whilst, ordinarily, no-one wants to see those sort of bets come in (punters aside), the pun potential of “players in hot water”, “tempers boiling over” and “T. Kettle left the manager steaming” can never be overlooked.

They are always a favourite of the Bees Player commentary team who, as I get that crowbar out once more,  will be a lifeline for many today. The Bees’ travelling support has been wonderful this season but another trip to Yorkshire so soon after Sheffield Wednesday is a huge undertaking.

As such, I’d imagine today’s two man team of Mark Burridge (our commentator par excellence) and Ciaran Brett (whose punditry skills are fast growing on me and, being honest, is stronger when working in a less crowded commentary box) will have a significant audience. Certainly, I’ll be amongst them when the show goes ‘live’ at 2.30pm.

Whatever cracks were made at the top end of this column about it being an ‘away’ win, I see it as anything but a guaranteed. Simply put, Rotherham have to win given their precarious position at the wrong end of the Championship table.

Let’s just hope the Bees show the same commitment that they did against Wolves. Likewise, that Mark Brown continues the same form he has shown this season.

Rotherham table

Are bums starting to squeak?

Nick Bruzon

All to play for but is an upset on the cards?

26 Feb

Brentford travel to Rotherham United on Saturday, hoping to build on the back of Tuesday night’s 3-0 stroll against Wolves. After a day in which the postponement of our trip to Hull City AFC (thanks to their FA cup replay with Arsenal) and an end to the fascination with all things FCM (thanks to Manchester United remembering how to score goals) were the main talking points for many Bees fans, it’ll be good to have a match to focus on once more.

So, Rotherham . The Championship table doesn’t lie and the Millers now find themselves in a bottom three who are already six points, and inferior goal difference, adrift of an MK Dons side occupying the final safe berth. A gap of what is effectively 7(seven) points will be hard enough to reel in at the best of times, let alone when you are on a miserable run of form and with only 13 games to go. Something will need to change pretty quickly or they’ll be digging out the maps for next season’s trip to Accrington Stanley.

Which makes me wary about Saturday. Not so much for us but more the mind state of the opposition. Dean Smith’s team reminded us against Wolves just how well they can play when allowed to run at their opposition and take the ball forwards. Sergi Canos, Ryan Woods, Alan Judge and John Swift (see, it wasn’t a typo in Wednesday’s article) were excellent and I’d love to see more of the same. Then again, we were playing a Wolves team who seemed to have replaced their entire midfield with a colander.

Surely there’s no chance we’ll get similar opposition in successive games? Instead, one can only imagine Rotherham are already approaching that last chance saloon and will want to turn around before they start drinking.

As such, expect dogged resistance from a side who last won in early January (albeit against Brighton) and haven’t scored in three games. I have no doubt Neil Warnock will be asking his team to come flying out of the traps at us although, equally, I have no doubt that if we can see out that early storm then the Bees can sweep to a fourth consecutive Championship win over a side we’ve beaten 2-0, 1-0 and 2-1 since we both got promoted from League 1.

last-chance-saloon

Are Rotherham approaching the bar? And League 1?

The home game at Griffin Park this time around was one punctuated with three stunning goals, including a brace for Alan Judge.

I’ve had to remind myself just how good the first was whilst, let’s not forget, he even popped up with one on his head for the winner. More of the same would do very nicely and, however we get there, is the score I’m calling for tomorrow. Confidence is a massive thing in football and with Dean Smith’s team surely full of it, we should be too good for a team whose next three games are against top 6 teams and that my online bookmaker (reference purposes only) shows as 1/8 on to go down.

Alan Judge – his first minute opener was THAT good !

Yesterday’s other talking point was the postponement of the Hull game, originally scheduled for March 8th, due to their ongoing FA Cup involvement with Arsenal. This was an inevitable casualty of the fixture list as soon as the original tie ended 0-0 and will be a source of frustration to many.

Good luck to them. I’d love it for us to be the ones having to cancel games and moreso after our third round capitulation to Walsall back in January.

That was a dreadful performance from the Bees and one which, if you recall, saw us suffer the further indignity of that strange half time ‘lap of honour’ from FCM following the news they’d drawn Manchester United in the Europa League.

How good if we could have made headway in that competition (FA cup, not Europa league) rather than match last season’s home defeat at the first hurdle? Maybe next year but, until then, I’ll certainly wish good luck to our Championship rivals in the replay.

Which brings me full circle back to last night. Thankfully, Brentford ‘official’ have listened and scaled back the Midtjylland tub-thumping to zero. Twitter and the official site were both silent before, during and after the game. It marks a refreshing change in the media/comms team and was probably no bad thing as the Danes saw their ‘cup final’ end in a 5-1 second leg defeat.

Cup football is a hotbed of upsets. If even Manchester United can get a win then maybe Arsenal could end up getting dumped too. It would certainly take the sting off our own postponement if that were to happen.

Although, perhaps, lay off the Griffin Park laps of honour.

Alan Judge corner Rotherham

Alan Judge – goals and set plays against Rotherham last time out

Nick Bruzon

Judge becomes chief executioner on a day of huge significance

18 Oct

On a day of sporting dominance, one result which will go largely unnoticed outside a small corner of West London could have huge longer-term significance. Brentford beating Rotherham United 2-1 may not be up there for the neutral at a time that saw Bournemouth getting tonked 5-1 at Manchester City or New Zealand wiping the floor with France in the rugby but it mattered to us. A lot. We’ll get to the rest of that shortly (especially Bournemouth, who seemed to suffer some form of self-inflicted manager-of-the-month curse) but can only begin at Griffin Park.

It was a day of huge importance on and off the field. The club rightly celebrated the life of Martin Lange with a rousing minute’s applause before kick-off whilst it was also ‘kick it out’ day.

Both teams and all supporters applauded for Martin Lange

Both teams and all supporters applauded for Martin Lange

‘Kick it out’ is a thoroughly noble campaign and a shame that, in this day and age, such a cause needs highlighting with a specific day. Moreso, that when it comes around, we could still do more, as a club. There were people handing out leaflets and placards in their special yellow t-shirts whilst Buzz and Buzzette wore the campaign colours prior to kick off. I’d love if our team could go one better and actually wear the logo on the shirt for this sort of game, rather than the traditional sponsor.

Brentford have done this before. Most notably when Skyex generously made way to help celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Community Sports Trust on the silver shirt back in 2012. Perhaps it is something we might want to consider for next season, if Matchbook.com are reading?

Or, even, how about being trailblazers and doing this at another game later on this campaign? After all, the ideals of ‘kick it out’ are those that, surely, we should be aspiring to every week?

Where Buzzette leads, could the team follow?

Where Buzzette leads, could the team follow?

On pitch, we’d all absorbed the message that the season was due to ‘restart’ with the Rotherham game. And boy, what a restart.

Alan Judge opened the scoring with little over a minute on the clock. The Irishman looping a sweet volley straight back over the top of the Rotherham defence and ‘keeper Lee Camp from the edge of the penalty box. It really was a wonderful strike as Judge, my man of the match, caught the clearance first time and set up another contender for goal of the season.

In a game that, like it or not, word on the street had marked down as a relegation six pointer (although interestingly, the win sees us just 8 points away from the play offs) it was the perfect start. And then it stopped.

Lee Carsley’s boys put in plenty of effort but a new look midfield containing Sergi Canos, Ryan Woods and John Swift struggled to make further impact. Indeed, Rotherham had the better chances – in each half – and to go in leading on 45 mins was a scenario I’d have bitten your hand off for before kick off. It is only the second time all season we’ve taken the lead in a game!

It was a lead that didn’t last long. If Judge’s goal had been good, within minutes of the restart Joe Mattock hit a beauty past David Button from even further out than the opener. It was a shot that got higher and faster, leaving the Bees ‘keeper no chance as it screamed past him.

One thing Lee Carsley had promised us was fight and determination. Sure enough, we got it. United’s lead lasted barely ten minutes as that man Judge grabbed his second of the game. A bullet header (yes, you read that correctly) past Camp after getting on the end of a Jake Bidwell cross restored the lead. And that’s how things stayed until full time. Scorewise, anyway.

Having score two, Alan Judge tries to set up a third

Having scored two, Alan Judge tries to set up a third.

Being quite honest, the visitors had the better chances and the majority of possession. David Button was forced into a number of smart saves that reinforced, yet gain, the importance of both him and Judge to this team. Where we’d be without them, I dread to think, based on how things began this campaign. But, they ARE here and, more importantly, it was another win for the Bees.

The BBC stats just show how much the visitors did control affairs (shots especially) and, as one New Road observer noted afterwards, “I’d like to see Rasmus try and spin these”.

The BBC stats don't lie. Except they do. We got 2 goals to their 1

The BBC stats don’t lie. Except they do. We got 2 goals to their 1

I have no doubt that had Steve Evans still been in charge of the Millers he’d have complained afterwards how they murdered us, how we’d robbed them etc. etc. etc. Instead, both Neil Redfearn and Lee Carsley were much more realistic in their appraisals of our respective teams. The Brentford man, in particular, admitting how “we started the second half poorly”.

Talking to supporters after the match, the general theme of opinion seemed to be that Alan Judge was the standout player in a game that was otherwise much akin to a League One fixture in places. The flipside being that it was a hard fought contest between two teams that haven’t had the best of starts, for a number of well documented reasons. Ultimately, the only stat that really counts is balls in the back of the net – and that’s where Brentford were strongest.

With a mid-week trip to Wolves up next, those points and a win were vital. And if nothing else, for morale. It’s just great to get back to winning ways but the big question now, of course, is whether we can do it again?

Away from Griffin Park, my highlight was at the Ethiad where Manchester City routed Bournemouth. Whilst I have nothing but respect (and even a sense of ‘if only’) for the Cherries in what they achieved last season, I can’t help but feel they brought this on themselves a touch.

There can’t be many in football who don’t know about the ‘manager of the month curse’. Pick up up this award and instantly doom your manager to losing his next game. So on Thursday, when Bournemouth started trumpeting the success of Eddie Howe and his signing a contract extension to 2020, even creating a hashtag to mark the occasion, there was only one thing that was going to happen.

Sure enough, three down in less than half an hour eventually finished up as a 5-1 humping.

Eddiesigns - no painting over that scoreline

Eddiesigns – no painting over that scoreline

Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have been where the Cherries were, playing at Manchester City, instead of struggling past Rotherham. Indeed, part of me still thinks we were the ultimate architects in our eventual capitulation last season where, catching everybody cold, we ended up in a position to cause one of the biggest upsets in sporting history. Then blew it with Village-gate and, perhaps, some tactical naivety late on when the team was crying out for a bit of change

That was then, this is now and there’s no point having any regret. We had the chance, lost out, but have had a taste of our potential. Being realistic, with a quarter of the season gone I think it would be a huge ask at this juncture to repeat last season.

Then again, there are still 105 points available…..

Nick Bruzon

Who’s looking shaky as Bees host Rotherham United?

17 Oct

Finally. League football is back as Brentford welcome Rotherham United to Griffin Park for a league game that sees the visitors with a new man in the managerial hotseat. Neil Redfearn, of course, replacing the now departed Steve Evans despite everybody’s favourite manager having won in his last two games prior to his and the club’s ‘parting of the way’.

That’s football. Evans leaves a big void to fill, no more so than on these pages where the regular reader will be aware of the admiration felt towards him as our paths have crossed over the last two seasons (please note: my definition of admiration may vary from yours).

Evans - gone but not forgotten (much like how-old

Evans – gone but not forgotten (much like how-old.net)

Whilst I’ll miss his press conferences and a level of sour grapes not seen this side of a bottle of past-its-sell-by date liebfraumilch, Rotherham have replaced him with Neil Redfearn who seemed to be doing a great job at Leeds United. That, until crackpot owner Massimo Cellino decided he was ‘weak’ and ‘a baby’. Still, Leeds’ loss is the Millers’ gain and today won’t be easy.

The flipside, of course, being that in Lee Carsley we have a head coach who has been with these players all season and has already had two games in charge. Whilst we won’t overly dwell on the results against Birmingham City and Derby County (a), the noises coming out of the Bees’ camp have been a lot more positive this week.

Putting to one side the (albeit beautifully shot) video from the Griffin Park ministry of propaganda, what has been encouraging has been Lee’s talk about a step up of intensity and purpose on the training ground. Likewise, a heightened feeling of togetherness and determined attitude amongst the squad.

Why this was missing in the first place one can only speculate. However, what has happened has happened and we have plenty of time left to make a really decent season. Lee’s comments on the club site certainly press all the right buttons but, as ever, it is what happens at 3pm that counts. Let’s hope we are now in a better place for that challenge.

Lee Carsley hit all the right notes at the club press conference

Lee Carsley hit all the right notes at the club press conference

As for his selection, I’m keen to see what, if any, changes are (or can be, given injuries) made. There’s no doubting the potential of our players – it’s more what Lee can get out of them that Marinus and Roy were, seemingly, unable to do. Moving the ball forward and taking some shots would be a good start.

Still, Lee isn’t the only one with a selection poser. The club’s cringeworthy use of Twitter hashtags has been a regular subject of discussion on these pages (although it was nice to see Bournemouth join us yesterday). That said, credit where it is due and I’m loving their #BeeTheDJ campaign as supporters are given the opportunity to pick the pre-match music at Griffin Park.

It’s still not too late to put your selections forward in a feature that shows how the club, when it tries, can embrace social media and fans perfectly. A selection of great songs and our own supporters’ sense of humour are already on show.

That said, there’s no irony about my own selection. I love a bit of the Quo (the fecal Marguerita Time aside – sorry Rhino) and Down, Down is their finest four minutes. Indeed, alongside Merry Christmas, Everyone (Shakin’ Stevens) I’d easily rank it in the top five UK hit singles of all time.

Although much as I love it, even I’m not stupid enough to think we’d play a Christmas song in October.

#BeeTheDJ . If you don't ask…..

#BeeTheDJ . If you don’t ask…..

Nick Bruzon