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And breathe. A return to winning ways more than welcome in the circumstances.

25 Feb

As you were in the league table. Brentford remain second albeit a 3-0 win (not a typo) over Sheffield Wednesday saw us nudge further ahead of the chasing pack on the goal difference stakes. However, Norwich, Watford and Swansea all picking up their own three points was reason enough to be glad we were back to winning ways as much because it saw an end to the blip which had seen our huge unbeaten run come to an end in quite cataclysm style. Instead, we’re level on 60 points with the Hornets whilst Swansea sit on 59 , having played two games less. Norwich are, of course, 7(seven) points clear in first but a televised trip to Carrow Road on Wednesday evening (17.30 for that one) could see the punch up at the top of the Championship get even tighter. That’s to come. As is Saturday’s visit from Stoke City. For now it a case of a job very well done.

A much changed Brentford team with no recognised left back or centre-forward saw Bryan Mbeumo  filling in for Ivan Toney (Marcus Forss out with a concussion) and Mads Bech Sørensen covering for Rico. This a position he is going to have to fill for the next two months although based on last night’s showing we seem to have dodged a bullet for sure. One swan doesn’t make a summer but an assured performance and the third goal would have given him confidence by the bucketload. 

Let’s be honest. Who amongst us didn’t feel slightly anxious going in to this one? Yes, I’ve got tons of optimism but the niggling self-doubt that goes with being a Brentford  / football fan had been tested on that three match run. With big names missing already, the press conference given by Thomas Frank yesterday had caused additional trepidation as to how we would line up. Along with Marcus, he also declared Ivan and Josh Dasilva missing (although both would be named on the bench, both would come off and both would help give the team some added familiarity late on ). However, in the end it saw the above mentioned changes with Sergi and Tariqe alongside Bryan aided and abetted by Ghoddos and Jensen give us a relatively familiar feel.

Understandably things started slowly although the positive being we didn’t concede first (see also: pretty much every game in February). Instead, the Bees took the lead mid-way through the first half when Bryan Mbeumo guided an effort from Sergi home at point blank range – or it hit him in the face and turned in, you choose. Either way, his reaction time was impeccable and the goal stood. The net rippling, Peter Gilham cheering and any pre-match nerves falling away by the bucketload. The memory of ‘that’ false nine formation at QPR under Dean Smith disappearing as quickly as it had come on seeing the inevitable team selection.

Half-time came and went. A game of few chances saw Brentford in control and biting hard. Some much missed steel returning in style. Move along Henrik, nothing to see here. Thankfully Keith Stroud was keeping time from the side rather than our man in the middle ! Sheffield Wednesday unable to make inroads and the changes from the bench, which also saw a return to action for Emiliano Marcondes, were sufficient to help wrap up the points. Samman Ghoddos first on the scoresheet, having missed out earlier in the half with a glorious chance when he placed it just wide after being left totally unmarked. This time there was no mistake , with Mbeumo turning provider and a beautiful finish to double the lead.

With the Bees pressing, Mads made it three. This time Ghoddos suppling the killer assist which was met with a well placed header that the keeper could only slow down on its way into the back of the net. 3-0 and game over. It might have been more had other chances gone in. That’s football though and the final score is all that counts. I’d have taken 3-0 all night long had it been offered beforehand. Which, of course, it isn’t. For the full match report you’ve got the usual places as a good start: Brentford official and the BBC (as long as you can go into it on the  assumption their reporter is either an Owls’ fan or has some sort of anti-Bees agenda).

It wasn’t overly pretty and it wasn’t our usual slick play. The absolutely key thing being three points on the board and our performance one which saw the Bees keep going and then turn the screw in testing circumstances. Winston Reid and Ethan Pinnock immense at the back. David Raya not really given the chance to be tested, barring one first half-effort. We’ll have more options for the game with Stoke City on Saturday and then the Norwich fixture. Neither are going to be easy, that’s for sure. Then again, nobody said the Championship was a walk in the park. All we can do is worry about ourselves and keep up the pressure. Keep on banging in the goals. Keep on churning out there results, It may not always be super slick but the-performance was a hundred miles away from the horror show at Coventry City. For that, I’m a happy, happy man. Lesson learned. Can they be applied again? Roll on Saturday when we find out.

And relax – we all feel it. Brentford official published this on their Twitter last night

Nick Bruzon  

Two Tone(y) Ivan keeps on making records.

22 Oct

Up we go. Six games in, three more points and two more goals for Ivan Toney. Brentford left Hillsborough on the right end of a 2-1 away win. A Sheffield Wednesday team with more than a few familiar faces had no answer to a determined Bees side. Barring a brief flurry around their equaliser and a final push in a protracted five minutes of injury time, our hosts were never in it. It’s not often we can say that at this most hoodoo laden of venues but there we go. History counts for naff all. You can only win on the night and that’s what we did in a game that saw Samman Ghoddos and Vitaly Janet make impressive starts for Brentford. Likewise Sergi Canos, Tarique Fosu and especially Mads Bech Sørensen – coming off the bench to replace injured Pontus Jansson.

Official capture our man enjoying another moment !

We can talk about Brentford’s determination. Our solidity. The comfort factor generated by having David Raya back to his best and committed to the Bees between the sticks. Rico Henry once again doing what he does so so well. Yet for all the talk of team effort it is that man Toney who is grabbing all the headlines. Two clear in the penthouse suite of the Championship leading goalscorer hotel. i.e. he’s at the top. Six league games played and 7(seven) goals scored. Six of those coming in the last three games as brace has followed brace has followed brace. Indeed, it may even have been a hat-trick had sweet connection been made with one second half delivery from Sergi. 

It’s a moot point. To have settled in this quickly is nothing short of astounding. The goals are, of course, magnificent but the ground covered and reading of the game just as impressive. His first, based purely on instinct and reaction. On reading the game to anticipate Owls’ goalkeeper Cameron Dawson parrying Henrik Dalsgaard’s rocket shot. Timing his run to perfection, he burst clear on goal to guide it straight back into the net. 1-0 Brentford and less then ten minutes gone.

On we went. Possession dominated. Chances created. This was looking good. Up yours, ‘Frank out’ brigade. Go figure. But being who we are, making it easy is so often not on the list of requirements. Sure enough, our hosts levelled it midway through the first half. Callum Paterson getting through the Bees defence to power over Pontus and steer home a perfect cross from ex-Bee Kadeem Harris. Sheffield Wednesday level. Yet instead of collapsing it was time to step up.

Less than five minutes later and Brentford were back in front. Ivan Toney, again. This time from a Janelt corner and a celebration to match the mood. 2-1 Bees. Thomas Frank buzzing. It could have been more. Perhaps should have. Dalsgaard hit an absolute screamer just over the bar with Dawson rooted to the spot. A relieved man indeed as he could only watch it whistle past. Mathias Jensen found himself clean through but the Wednesday ‘keeper was more than equal to the task.

Still, 2-1 up at half-time is good. Very good. Just as long as you can hold on to the lead. Which is what we did. A substitution riddled second half also saw Mbeumo and Ghoddos makeway aswell as our captain. Thomas had no real comment about the longer term prognosis fro Pontus beyond saying it was hamstring related. The plus point being at least he was able to watch on for the second half. There were more chances for The Bees. Likewise the visitors. Toney might have had a hat-trick. Wednesday may well have levelled it as the pressure built late on. Instead, it ended 2-1 and that’ll do me. Three more points and Brentford now up to 7th. Back to back wins and the trip to Stoke City next. 

Tails will be up but, of course, we now sweat on injuries. Albeit those that came on more than showed their worth to this team. The strength of the squad  being built is more than impressive. Let’s not forget we’ve lost Benrahma, Watkins and Christian Norgaard is out injured. Yet we have more points than this time last season and Toney is scoring for fun.

It’s too early to get overly carried away. The table is still taking shape but I can take heart that Brentford seem to have found their feet. Sheffield Wednesday are no mugs and Barry Bannan, in particular, showed his worth. Moses Odubajo and Jordan Rhodes also there to remind us of our own past. On another night they could easily have picked up a point. At the least. But they didn’t. That’s not how football works. As we were reminded in the season opener at Birmingham. The record books will show three points and an away win – that’s all we can ask for.

Well played Brentford. Hard lines Wednesday. A few days to recharge and then the trip to Stoke City on Saturday afternoon. Pretty sure last season’s fixture was of some significance but the exact circumstances escape me. No doubt the press will be on hand to remind us. That was then. This is now. Keep on looking forward. Keep on looking upwards. The gap to second place is three points. What more incentive could we ask for?

For now, though, a chance to catch out breath for a few days. Ivan Toney won another man-of-the-match award and you could hear what this all meant to him at full time. There was no comparison to Ollie Watkins. Just a player doing his own thing and continuing to rip up the goal scoring charts. All of a sudden the trip to the Potteries isn’t as daunting as it once might have felt.

Bring it on.

Good company

Nick Bruzon

Making the best of a crumby situation all round.

21 Oct

Brentford travel to Sheffield Wednesday this evening in a game where, sit down, one can only wish ‘that band’ were present. Not a typo. Oh to hear their moribund trumping. Their off-key renditions: Now that’s what I can jingoistic music. For no other reason than it would mean fans were allowed inside the ground. Instead we remain firmly behind closed doors. The closest thing possible to sit inside the confined quarters of a stadium lounge, enjoying food, drink and the game on a big screen, when the real action is taking place in the fresh air on the other side of the wall. That, the scenario playing out at Bristol City v Middlesbrough last night and one which has already been reported many times. The sheer ludicrousness of this situation lost on nobody, no matter how tightly social-distancing rules were, I am sure, being applied. We’re all desperate to get back in. Instead, we’re stuck with TV games in tumbleweed swept grounds. Fans confined to barracks rather than enjoying the fresh air in yet another example of the double-standards being applied to when it is, and isn’t, deemed safe to be near other people.

If only for real rather than cruddy photoshop

So we have coverage on Sky TV and i-follow ‘VIP’ (for those who chose to freeze their season tickets) as the next best thing. And it isn’t even close. Of course, I’m grateful for the opportunity to still see the Bees in action but let’s not pretend it’s the same. We’re all chomping at the bit to attend a game in person. To get our first taste of Lionel Road. The closest we’ll get to that is our own take on the ‘big screen / club lounge’ experience. Saturday’s offer for the trip to Stoke City has, I understand, seen heavy interest. This, even with a price of £40 for adults and £30 for children including food and beer (for the adults). 

I was tempted, but aside from the £100 it would have cost me, Harry and Mrs. Bruzon to attend personally speaking I want my first taste of the new stadium to be in a real match scenario. Not some ‘close but no cigar’ situation. Bullseye for the 21st century. ‘Look at what you could have won’. 

Fair play to the club for arranging. It will be of huge appeal to many – if only for the communal coming together and the chance to get some small look at our new home. If you don’t agree then don’t pay. Simple economics and Brentford doing nothing more than trying to make the best of what is a crumby situation all round. Balancing demand v numbers. Do it for free / token costs and we’d be flooded – then you get people upset about missing out. Lose-lose all round. So it’s not for me, Clive, but the closest we can get. For now.

Still, it’s all secondary compared to the news about Brentford supporter Jamie Powell. I’d imagine most fans have seen the devastating story on social media over the last few days. This, about his awful illness and the crowd-funding effort being launched to help raise the £350,000 to support treatment for an aggressive bone cancer in the skull. The club, the fans and the players are all behind this whilst my fellow blogger Luis Adriano wrote a quite wonderful piece yesterday which yours truly couldn’t even get close to emulating. You can find that here whilst I’d urge everyone to visit the ‘Just giving page’ to read more and donate if you can.

Life certainly deals a crappy hand at times. One can’t even imagine the anguish Jamie and his family are going through at present. It puts our own problems into perspective. Whilst, of course, not everybody will be in a position to contribute, it really is one of those where if you can then every penny counts.  

Getting back to matters more mundane, this evening’s game. Experience says that Sheffield Wednesday aren’t going to make it easy. We’ve always struggled at Hillsborough and our hosts are already eating into the -12 point deficit they began the season with. As such, I can’t see this being any easier. I’d also suggest that overly dwelling on the past isn’t going to help any.

Crack open the cliches but it really is 11 v 11. Empty stadia do make a significant difference. Away games much more of a leveller. Ivan Toney is firing them in for fun and Thomas Frank used yesterday’s press conference to confirm he expects the Championships leading scorer will be available to play. Likewise Emiliano Marcondes. This, following the game with Coventry at the the weekend.

I’m not stupid enough to even try and call this one. The bookies make Brentford favourites ; our hosts are 5/2. I take that, combined with Saturday’s solidity, as a positive. We’ve got through the first game of the post-Benrahma era with a win. Tonight will be a much sterner test but one I’m intrigued to see play out. Even if it has to be from the comfort of the sofa.

Last time out. Ivan did his thing against Coventry before injury denied him a hat-trick.

Nick Bruzon

Owls become pussycats as Bees run riot.

8 Mar

Now that’s how to return to winning ways. Brentford trashed Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 in a game that was every bit as one sided as the scoreline suggests. The Bees climb to fourth, tucked in behind a Fulham side who of course we visit on Friday evening. We’re now five points clear of seventh (effectively six given the quite incredible goal difference of +31) and ten off second placed West Bromwich Albion. With The Baggies next up at Griffin Park and nine games to go, destiny remains very much in our hands.

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Brentford attacked from the off

What an afternoon. It was one of those where another bracketing looked on the cards and could easily have played out. Brentford came out of the traps flying and peppered the Wednesday goal, including one effort from Watkins that flew off the crossbar. Josh Dasilva opened the scoring when a shot was only parried. It fell kindly to him tin the box and there was no mistake with his left foot. Emiliano Marcondes doubled things soon after with an absolute beauty from what must have been a good twenty-five yards. It was a thing of beauty and worth the admission price alone as it flew through the air and into the far corner of the net. Less than twenty minutes gone and two up.

Brentford continued to press and Bryan Mbeumo made it three. He worked an opening and hit a low shot through the box that curled off the base of the post. The Bees in total control. Sheffield so far off the pace that forget about Wednesday, they were still on Monday. It was domination that continued in the second period although the goals took a back seat until late strikes form DaSilva and Fosu gave the scoreline the margin our performance warranted. The Bees had been rampant. The Owls outclassed and outplayed. Wednesday boss Garry Monk would use phrases such as ‘inexcusable’, ‘embarrassed‘ and ‘lost for words’. Thomas Frank would call us ‘scarily good’.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. Never have done. If you want detail then official or the BBC are you best places. Or the highlights are below.

Goals, goals, goals….

Suffice to say though that this was about as completes a performance as they come. Thomas Frank would talk afterwards about our desire to defend. We were rock solid at the back despite the ongoing absence of Pontus Jansson. Anything that was hit on target, comfortably saved by David Raya.

Marcondes and Dasilva will get the goalscoring headlines but don’t rule out their overall contributions either. Emiliano was named man of the match whilst Josh had one of those games where the ball seemed tied to his foot with a piece of string. Said Benrahma did everything but score but must, instead, be content with a clutch of assists. 

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Taking deserved applause at full time

Next up is the televised game at Fulham on Friday night. With The Cottagers needing a late equaliser at Bristol City, the chance is there to really stick a late season mark on our rivals. Victory in Hammersmith would take us to within a point of third place. The satisfaction of doing them infinitely more preferable though. It won’t be easy. It never is. But it will be fun and I can’t wait. With another midweek break there’s more chance to recharge legs and do the same as we did yesterday.

There’s not much else to say, really.  Referee Keith Stroud had a great game, letting the football flow and keeping himself out of the limelight. It felt comfortable all afternoon and, honestly, never in doubt from the moment the game began.There will no doubt be tougher tests ahead but you can only play who you are up against. Beyond that, simply a case of keeping heads down until Friday night and then we see what happens down the road.

I can’t wait….

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Mr. Stroud was in good form – even giving a wave

Nick Bruzon   

Keep your hands and noses clean – look who’s in charge….

7 Mar

The promotion push continues. With just ten games to go in the Championship campaign, fifth placed Brentford are all set to host Sheffield Wednesday at Griffin Park this afternoon. Whilst the eleven point gap to ‘automatic’ may be starting to look significant, we’ve already reeled in Leeds United once this season. Any hope of doing the same needs to begin today although primary focus needs to be on strengthening our current top six placing. To that end, we were given a small boost last night as Nottingham Forest were obliterated at home by Millwall. Still, the good news is that our man in the middle is Keith Stroud.

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Keith Stroud – NO card.

The big on-pitch question today is whether Pontus Jansson may be ready to make a long-overdue return. We spoke last time out about his importance and his presence but the BBC match preview really highlights this from a statistical perspective. Brentford have won just twice since his last appearance, that against QPR in early January. Indeed, we’ve only tasted victory in two of the eleven games he’s missed all season compared to fourteen out of twenty-five when he has appeared.

One does need to counter this with the fact that this recent ‘run’ has only seen us defeated twice in the league – Nottingham Forest and Luton (a). It has been a period of eminently loseable fixtures such as Cardiff City and Birmingham away ; Leeds United and Middlesbrough at home. Yet we’ve still survived those unscathed and it could be argued the had we hung on to the 1-0 lead against the Elland Road outfit, Brentford may well be looking down on more than just the 19 teams currently below us.

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View from the Braemar – I’d love to see Pontus back

That’s football. No point dwelling on ifs, buts and maybes. Instead, time to focus on Sheffield Wednesday. Of course I’d love Pontus in the team but we should still have enough in the starting XI to give anybody a run. Leading the charge will be Ollie Watkins who was, of course, named EFL Player of the Year at the London Football awards this week. Alongside him fellow nominees Said Benrahma and Bryan Mbeumo. With Thomas Frank beating the likes Roy Hodgson and Frank Lampard for the managerial honour, one has to think that morale will be high in the camp.

For the visitors, they are currently the quintessential example of a mid-table side. On paper. Sitting 12th, Wednesday are 10 points off relegation and 8 off the play-offs. A late charge for the play-offs would seem even more optimistic than our own efforts to hit the top two slots. Aside from their own recent form, which has only seen 1 victory and 4 defeats in the last 8 league games, the sheer weight of numbers above them makes that more improbable. Millwall being the latest teams to knock on the door following their own 3-0 heroics at Nottingham Forest last night. Added to this are injuries suffered by The Owls in the FA Cup defeat by Manchester City midweek. Kieran Lee is  almost certainly out whilst defender Julian Borner went off at half-time. It’s just a shame that stamina levels weren’t tested further by a period of extra time and penalties. 

That’s not to say that today is going to be easier than recent challenges. It’s anything but. Yet at the same time I’ve got the feeling in my heart that we will win this. Whether Pontus plays or not. But for the referee we could have come away from Cardiff City with a lot more last weekend as Brentford kept going until the very end.

So let’s all breath a sigh of relief that Keith Stroud is in charge today. Could today see his traditional flourish of a red card? Will there be random decision making? Or might we have the more level-headed Keith of recent outings? Whatever happens, he can’t do a more frustrating job than Simon Hooper. 

Do get there early for his always entertaining warm up routine, too. Very much a modern day Burridge (John, of Crystal Palace goalkeeping fame, rather than Mark, of commentary and greyhounds).

Keith Stroud montage

Keith Stroud – has form

The other point of note about today is the additional health and safety precautions in place given the current concerns around Covid-19. You can read the full statement on the club website although the main impact for supporters will be a cessation of our usual close contact with the players whilst the traditional prematch hand shake will stop for now. The full gamut of measures and what to expect are noted here although I’d also note that we should probably be glad football is even going ahead. In Italy, all sporting fixtures are now being played behind closed doors whilst the top flights clubs have already started to mention they expect similar may follow.

For now, keep those hands clean and let’s see what happens down the line. Until then, heres to Sheffield. Let’s do this.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon 

Will it be Wednesday on Wednesday? What about Pontus on Saturday?

4 Mar

Could Pontus Jansson be back in Brentford colours for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday? That was the question on everybody’s lips last night following an instagram post from the player which suggested a return was imminent. So much for that nonsense you may have read on more ‘loyal’ sites. With the Owls in FA Cup action at home to Manchester City this evening, the result there could have as much bearing on our promotion push as any return of our talismanic captain.

So, Pontus. The desperation to play was clear to all in a post which read : “It has been the absolute worst months for long time to not be able to be out on the pitch and play games. I am soon there where I want to be and I promise that I have given and will give everything to be back as soon as possible” . This, followed by a string of emojis and tagging in the club.

 

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A personal message and a string of emojis

What a boost. How timely. Could he feature against Sheffield Wednesday? Just knowing a return is close will be huge for the player, the squad and the fans. His experience has been sorely missed as games we may have won previously have ‘only’ seen us pick up a point. 

use the word ‘only’ in the loosest sense. Let’s not forget that Brentford are fifth in the Championship with only ten games to go. We’ve amazing goal difference and are still banging them in for fun (we’ll pretend Luton Town never happened). No team at this, or even higher, level could honestly say they were stronger with Pontus missing from the team. Strong? Yes. But stronger….. ? Hmm. His wealth of experience and fighting spirit are worth their metaphorical weight in gold. His influence on the pitch and inspiration off it clear for all to see.

Not just in the centre back position, I hasten to add, where the replacements have still performed admirably as the Bees have stayed in contention. It is more in that ‘money can’t buy’ yet presence and charisma that only a Captain can bring. He is a true leader and the sooner we have him back the better the entire team will be. Whilst perhaps Saturday may be optimistic, it does seem the end is in sight. Here’s hoping it comes soon.

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Could Pontus be back soon?

Who we line up against remains to be seen, of course. There’s a huge FA Cup match this evening between Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City. The cup fan want a win for the Owls – who doesn’t love an upset – even if it does mean further exposure for ‘that band’ . The Brentford fan in me wants a win for the Owls, but one which goes to energy sapping extra time, possibly penalties and perhaps even a contagious red card or two. Anything that can feasibly make the trip to Griffin Park that little bit more of an exertion.

With Wednesday eight points off the play-off zone, perhaps a win tonight may also focus their attention in the direction of Wembley rather than promotion. Any questionable decision to rest injury risks / tired legs made that little bit easier. Hey, I’m allowed to be optimistic.

In all seriousness, I’d absolutely love the Owls to stuff City tonight. There’s no finer sight than a giant being slayed. My love for the FA Cup has been well documented and here’s hoping another chapter in this love story can be written on Wednesday, by Wednesday. Anything else is a bonus.

Bliss Manchester City

Can the Owls emulate the Bees ?

Nick Bruzon   

Crisis club in tailspin? Are fans revolting?

8 Dec

Sheffield Wednesday 2 Brentford 1. 

Sack the board. Spend £100million. Benham out. Frank out. It’s disaster. Nooooo. You don’t want to go up etc etc.

That’s one response to yesterday’s game I suppose. Some people may feel that way. Not me.

Personally speaking, I’m of the ‘everybody just calm down’ school of thought this morning. We lost a game. Away. To a team who are at the business end of the table for good reason. We might have won. Perhaps we should have drawn. But that’s not how football works. They scored twice. We scored once. We were missing two World Cup players. Arguably the most experienced members of our squad. We’ve still got one of the youngest and most exciting teams in the division. We’re ninth in the Championship. We’re three points off Nottingham Forest in fifth place. We move into Lionel Road in little over eight months time. We’ve back to back home games approaching – Cardiff City and then Fulham on Saturday. 

Football life is good. Very good. Enjoy the moment. Ride the wave. I’d love to have won it yesterday but it’s not the end of the world. Anything but. Come back to me in May if you think there is any form of crisis. There isn’t, for the record.

Besides, from my perspective there’s another reason for yesterday’s defeat. Pick up Wednesday’s programme to find out why. Or just look at Twitter.

See you then.

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Nothing more than a temporary glitch

Nick Bruzon

 

 

 

 

Victory would be huge but can we do it?

7 Dec

Here’s the good news. Win today and Brentford will go into the top six, regardless of other results. Victory at Sheffield Wednesday means we would overtake fourth-placed Nottingham Forest, who sit just three points ahead of the Bees following their own draw at Millwall last night, regardless of other results. Here’s the bad news. We’re at Sheffield Wednesday. Hillsborough has been somewhat of a bogey ground for us in recent seasons, losing four out of the last five played  from of our recent visits. The sole victory coming in 2017, courtesy of goals from John Egan and Harlee Dean. Yet with confidence high following the annihilation of Luton Town last week, we have to go into this one with our tails up.

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Brentford celebrated 7 (seven) times on Saturday

Besides, past form counts for nothing. So we may have found this fixture a tricky one historically but this team is now one that is on fire. They have the taste for goals, even prior to last weekend’s 7(seven) goal bracketing of Luton, whilst recent away games have seen us banish the alleged jinx of the chocolate and orange back to the rumour mill from which it emanated last season. 3-0 at Wigan. 3-0 at Swansea. 3-1 at QPR. I forget what happened at Blackburn the other night but we have, mostly, being picking up the points in emphatic style. Could there be more of the same to come today?

Well, the BBC stat page (for once not focussing on the number of non-English players we’ve used – thanks for that helpful insight) give us the good news that regular thorn in our side Fernando Forestieri will be missing . This is a bonus for Brentford and just one of several absences for the hosts. Wednesday’s last three home games have all ended as draws and whilst a point may be sufficient to take us in to that hallowed top six, you can bet Thomas Frank will have the scent of blood in his nostrils.

Last Saturday against Luton Town was about as complete a performance as we’ve had the privilege of watching. It was immense from start to finish. The Hatters may, in part, have been the architects of their own demise but you can only play who you are up against. Josh Dasilva’s hat-trick included that blockbuster from outside the box and the tightest of finishes on the angle. The ball from Said Benrahma to sit that up was about as filthy as they come. Yet for me, Clive, Mathias Jensen had the goal of the game. A cool head and clever positioning allowed him to stroke the ball straight through a defender’s legs with slide rule precision for our third. You’ve seen it. You know. Laser guided brilliance.

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Mathias and Josh celebrate

That was then. This is now. We know the chance that awaits us if we can do this . Brentford have had similar opportunities in the last two games. Then, though, victory also required other results to go our way in order to hit the top six. Against Blackburn we got the ‘other results’ but not much else. When Luton came to Griffin Park it was the opposite. Now, thanks to Millwall (not often one can say that) holding Forest last night, destiny is in our hands. The stage is set. Will Thomas Frank’s boys fluff their lines or are we going to give them a standing ovation?

The heart says that we’re flying and more of the same will come. The head says that this is going to be a tough afternoon. Don’t forget that Wednesday are only a single point behind us in the table. Their incentive to get back into the mix will be just as great as ours. If not more, given as they’ll be playing in front of their own fans in their former home. Owner Dejphon Chansiri holding the keys to Hillsborough these days after buying it from the club for £60million. Misconduct? Sounds fine to me. Good luck with that counter claim against the EFL. 

Perhaps all that nonsense is just what we need. An unnecessary distraction for the visitors at a time that the Bees need everything going for them if we are to really turn the screw on our divisional rivals. Not being funny, I’d be happy to come out of this with a point and no injuries ahead of the midweek visit from Cardiff. You can bet your bottom dollar that the team will be thinking otherwise. Win or bust will, I am sure, be the mentality.

I can’t wait for this one. Bring it on ! 

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The BBC show the state of play , as it stands..

Nick Bruzon

 

Let’s be Frank. Hats off to Thomas ahead of Wednesday on Tuesday.

26 Feb

Here we go again. To coin a phrase. No sooner has the dust settled on yet another five goal spree for Brentford (Saturday’s tonking of Hull City still fresh in the memory) than we’re back on the road. A trip to Sheffield Wednesday, Tuesday, now awaits Thomas Frank and his free scoring Bees. The big question tonight being whether our home form can be translated into that on the road. And before we go any further, let’s not start blaming the brown shirt. I love it. You probably don’t. However, the only crime it can be blamed for is, possibly, one against sartorial elegance. Or stealing my heart. I guess it all depends on your point of view.

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Saturday was fun….

But we digress. As ever. We all know our record on the road isn’t the best this season. Likewise, recent trips to Hillsborough haven’t seen it the happiest of hunting grounds. As a general rule. Yet with our tails up, is this the time for the form book to go out of the window? Who knows? I’m just the numpty on the terrace and any perceived expertise could be consigned to the back of an envelope. (I would also accept: postage stamp / matchbox).  

Yet what we also know is that Thomas Frank has pulled Brentford out the slump that Dean Smith’s side began nosediving into during the last few games of his own tenure. His enthusiasm is absolutely palpable. You can see what every game, every goal, means to him. Those full time sorties around the pitch at Griffin Park seeing him lauded as a hero. His desire to win clearly translating to the players where broad grins are as de rigueur a fashion item as our away kit (sorry). How distant the negativity from so many angles back in November and early December must now seem. How much egg has been wiped off faces and hands since held high in acknowledgement? 

One thing that has remained constant on these pages over the last few years has been faith in our model. Faith in the management and the team behind the team. Trust in what we are doing as a club. Whilst I’m the first to acknowledge my own personal views were somewhat tested (that’s the polite term) after the Birmingham City triple transfer swoop of summer 2017, it would be absolutely fair to say we’ve kicked on since then. And how!! 

Hats off to the current regime but, more importantly, no surprise that when Thomas was coming in for dog’s abuse from all angles, with more calls for his head than Henry the Eighth in the mood for a wedding, the top brass didn’t even flinch. Not even a vote of confidence. Instead, he was allowed to go about his business as sanity prevailed and the points began pouring in.

Now, we’re flying. This is in part down to the players (of course) but as much to Thomas and his staff looking at who we had. Looking at how we were playing. Rebuilding the system. Even the enforced placement of Sergi Canos as emergency wing back has proved a masterstroke. Albeit, we’ll draw a discreet veil over the second half of the FA Cup – en masse (in case you are reading, Sergi. You aren’t, obv).

I cite two personal examples. First up, the away game at Norwich City back in October. With HB fortunate enough to be mascot for that one, we were afforded a unique view behind the scenes. We’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating. Thomas was nothing but the consummate host in the early stages of the build up. Welcoming, cordial and talking with enthusiasm about the job in hand after taking over from Dean. Even in those early stages, his desire to progress and knowledge of the task ahead was apparent to even a numpty such as yours truly. 

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When Harry met Thomas

Secondly, the Junior Bees Christmas party in December. It would be fair to say that moment in time was probably about the low point, results wise, for Thomas and his team. Yet there was no hiding behind the safety of an autograph table or a sanitised photo op with officials on hand. Instead he stood slap back in the middle of the forecourt, willing to talk with anybody who approached. Others may have hidden away or ducked questions. Not Thomas. And let’s not pretend there weren’t as many adults as children there – obviously, in the guise of guardianship! 

Since that moment, the points have come thick and fast. The morale has soared. The smiles have returned. Even at Swansea City last Sunday, his arrival was greeted with applause. The first thing he did upon exiting the team bus was to head across to the waiting supporters for autographs and photos – especially with the tinfoil FA Cup that proudly bore his image.

Let’s make no mistake. Sheffield Wednesday away is about as tough as it comes. Moreso for a midweek fixture where travel is a gargantuan challenge for supporters. To compound our watching woes, it’s not on either the ‘red button’ or the Ifollow streaming service. Whilst there may (apparently) be other ways of following the action, I’d suggest it’ll be e a significant audience share for Mark Burridge and his commentary team.

However this one ends, it won’t be season defining. Yet with the table very much locking up towards the top ten, it presents a quite wonderful opportunity to really close in our rivals. I can’t wait to see how it turns out (plus ca change) and whilst am unable to say “See you there” this time, will instead sign off with another thought – stolen directly from the BBC Match preview (let’s not take any credit for picking up on this otherwise).

Since last season, this is our fourth successive game against Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship with their having a different manager at the helm. Carlos Carvalhal, Lee Bullen, Joe Luhukay have all held the reins prior to the current incumbent, Steve Bruce. Compare that to the solidity of the Brentford model to see who is taking very much that long term, sustainable, approach.

Here’s to seeing how it can be rewarded this evening.

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Thomas celebrated with the fans at full time on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

Maupay? Yes please. More Pie? No thanks.

20 Aug

What a weekend. Brentford picked up another three points and have gone another game unbeaten. A 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday see the Bees up to fourth place in the embryonic table on 7(seven) points, three off the top and with a mid-week trip to Aston Villa next up. Elsewhere, it was a case of being deafened by the brackets klaxon as QPR went down by that fateful scoreline at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. On the down side, Ian Moose was back at Griffin Park.

We can only start with Brentford and another win for Dean Smith’s Bees. It was, by all accounts, as comfortable as they come – barring one block from Daniel Bentley at 1-0. A goal in either half wrapped things up. Neal Maupay with the first from the penalty spot and then the fox-in-the-box turning from poacher to provider as he set up Ollie Watkins for our second.

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Monday Motivation on Twitter from @BrentfordFC

I say ’by all accounts’. Yours truly wasn’t at this one although attendance was already off the moment the game was moved to a Sunday with a long standing engagement taking precedence. As it happens sickness took hold and so both the game and the previously booked party also had to be missed, much to my dismay. Instead, it was a day spent feverishly sprawled out on the sofa under a duvet and having to follow the game via the open window and the cheers from Griffin Park.

So what can we say? Well, Dean started his third successive league game with an unchanged team. Meaning no start for Ryan Woods although he has now been named as substitute, albeit unused. One can understand Dean’s desire not to break up a team on form whilst, at the same time, his looking to ease the supporters’ (and travel club) player of the year back into the side after the bids from Swansea City.  

Could Aston Villa see him back in league action or will it be ‘more of the same’? With a bench that already seems to have the magnificent Said Benrahma, Kamo and Alan ‘The magician’ Judge as first choice changes for now, might this still be too soon for The Ginger Pirlo to be thrown back into action? Nobody is going to give up their place easily, that’s for sure. What a wonderful ‘problem’ for Dean to have.

The popular consensus on social media was that this was a win that, if anything, could have been even heavier:

@nickcarthew:If one were to be REALLY critical @BrentfordFC should have won that game much more comfortably.

@fatwhit5:@BrentfordFC may I be as bold to suggest that this week the boys work on one on one finishing ? 😂😂just a suggestion 🤪#BrentfordFC #couldofbeenbrackets

@swinedonbee:A clean sheet as well! Could have been 6-0! Well done you Beeeess

@3rhythms:#brentfordfc buzzing that Dean Smith has probably given the team an absolute rocket for not pumping Sheff Wed by at least five. Owls fans don’t even @ me #TeamsLikeBrentford

Three points are three points. That is the absolute priority from every game and for a side that have managed 12 goals in the opening four games (don’t forget the win on the road in the league cup) finding the back of the net isn’t something that is causing any concern at present. Yes, to really thump somebody again would be nice but let’s not get carried away with ourselves here. Sheffield Wednesday need to be offered the respect a proper club of their stature deserve. That any club deserve. They are in the Championship by right. Indeed, but for Daniel Bentley it could have been level at one point. The second you start to underestimate your opponents or how potentially fragile a 1-0 scoreline is then the game’s gone.

Personally, I’d take a 2-0 home win and minimal bookings all day long. There’s a tough game coming up on Wednesday with the trip to Aston Villa in front of the TV cameras. Like Brentford, the Villans have picked up 7(seven) points form their first three and sit one place below us in the interim play-off zone. With Jack Grealish (a player whose name is as synonymous with the words ‘transfer rumour’ as eighteen-year old Ryan Sessegnon’s is with his age – 18, for the record), seemingly unphased by his own speculation expect this to be as tough as they come.

The other point of note from Griffin Park was the presence of TalkSport DJ Ian Abrahams Moose in the Braemar Road press box. I don’t follow him on Twitter anymore but his feed (of the social media variety) crossed my timeline yesterday and, like many Bees fans, caused umbrage.

I don’t really get Mr. Moose – specifically his use of Twitter where, for a journalist giving match updates, so much written is about his apparently pivotal role in proceedings (just look at yesterday’s posts). Mention of a player doing something is so often accompanied by a picture of the pair of them together, usually with the obsequious reference to ‘my good friend’. Then there’s the constant harping on about pre-match grub. Oh look, another pie.

Is he just a desperately insecure human being, craving any form of perceived recognition and hanging off the coat tails of those who can actually play the beautiful game? Or is it just an act? His ‘thing’? And away from the glare of the public eye he’s the humblest human being on the planet. I don’t know the answer to either question so can only ask based on what I read. 

If the former then one can’t even begin to envisage how hard it must be for him to carry on thrusting himself into the public eye. If the later, he really needs a new scriptwriter. As routines go, this one is about as endearing as Noel Edmonds doing his faux-banter shtick with ‘the banker’ in the former Deal Or No Deal ‘dream factory’ (his name for it, not mine).

Except it doesn’t really seem to be either of these. Instead Mr. Moose comes over as straddling some line in between. If anything, he gives the impression of having been the sort of kid who was bullied at school. The last person to get picked for the football team. Left standing alone in that humiliating line up and then having to make the forlorn trudge over to despondent team mates who would rather have given him to the opposition. Yet despite this, he has made it in football. And now he is in a position of ‘power’. Giving it back to those who may have once mocked him with his trademark tools of narcissistic selfies and snidey digs. 

Yesterday was no better. We all know what Mr. Moose said about Neal Maupay last season following the game at Cardiff. Moreso, his own subsequent attempt at self-promotion. Needless to say, Neal had the last laugh with the game at Fulham being the crème de la crème of big match climaxes. Even better, his Man of the Match performance yesterday seeing him nab his third goal in as many games.

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We’ve been here before. 

You’d think the dust might have settled after that. But no, he was back for round two. Moaning about his view at Griffin Park as a photograph of the Ealing Road goal was shared, with the caption: ”Hopefully not too many goals in the one away to my right (I can only see half of it)

Aside from being factually incorrect, if it was an issue then I don’t suppose moving his head one inch to the left would have been beyond the bounds of credibility? Who knows? I’m not a journo but just the numpty on the terrace. Perhaps that sort of thing isn’t allowed in the press box?

Twenty minutes in and Maupay did his thing. Get in!!  1-0. Cue for celebrations all round. Cue for trademark Moose: GOAL – 20mins Lewis MacLeod pushed over in an off the ball incident in front of ref David Webb. My mate Neal Maupay dispatched the resulting penalty 1-0

My mate. Hmmm.

And with an hour on the clock, we had Neal cutting in to hold up play then square it to the arriving Ollie Watkins for 2-0. It was a goal reported by respective sources as:

BBC: Maupay rounded Wednesday keeper Cameron Dawson from a swift counter-attack just after the hour mark to allow Ollie Watkins to double the lead.

Sky Sports: Maupay racing clear from his own half before drawing the ‘keeper and squaring for Watkins to stroke home from 12 yards.

Ian Moose: “Maupay in on goal, dilly and dallying, keeper Dawson got a hand to the ball, but pushed it to Ollie Watkins who slid into an empty net 2-0”

Dillying and dallying? Dillying and dallying? What? Is? His? Problem? Thankfully Kitman Bob was on hand to call him out on this later that night where there was what I guess is as close to an apology as one could hope for.   

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Well done, Bob.

You know what, we all make mistakes. But when your agenda comes across as one of negativity from the off then you are only ever going to see the worst. Even the full time summary lacked any praise for the Bees and, instead, noted how Brentford “could win by 6 but for Weds keeper Dawson, Weds really poor today” whilst Maupay was “Not prolific enough, should’ve had a hat-trick today”.

Why praise an assist and a goal against a ‘keeper you have recognised as doing the business, when it’s easier to put the boot in? Why praise a player who has the highest combined goals and assists in the Championship?

I’ve bitten. And I apologise. As noted earlier, there’s a simple way around this. Don’t follow. And personally, I don’t. But I don’t like people having an unnecessary pop. Especially journalists whom, as far as I am aware, we haven’t upset in an official capacity (Move along Oliver Holt, nothing to see here). Would it be that hard to say something, anything, positive?  You can be sure come the end of the season when we are storming into the Premier League he’ll be there giving it large. And great if so. Just remember how it started.

All of which has served as a huge distraction from the other event of the weekend. Brackets. At West Brom. Administered to none other than QPR. Does it get any sweeter? Well, perhaps if we’d been the ones to score the goals that go with a 7(seven) -1 scoreline.

Regular readers will be well aware of the love for this footballing on curio on these pages. So when the Twitter notifications started to rack up on Saturday afternoon I thought at first that it was simply more feedback from Birmingham City fans following that morning’s column. They really weren’t happy. Oh well.

I could wax lyrical about the QPR result but sometimes its just easier to cut to the chase….

Nick Bruzon