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Brentford – Southampton. Post match debrief and top five review

10 May

Brentford made it 6 wins out of the last 9 games. 19 points from the last 27. Saturday’s 3-0 defeat of Southampton giving further hope to those looking towards the top half of the table.

As ever at this point, time to look at who was the star man for Brentford? Who makes the top five? Who is leading the season long hunt for our game by game top performer? Who did enough against Southampton to retain their place for the trip to Everton on Sunday?

And, as ever, the answers to all of those are here…

Who gets your vote? This one is as tough as they come.

9 May

Another weekend done. Brentford turned it on again to sweep past Southampton. A 3-0 win every bit as complete as the scoreline suggests. The team now on 43 points and still dreaming of the top ten in the Premier League. Elsewhere, Everton racked up another win on the road whilst Leeds United went down at Arsenal and had captain Luke Ayling sent off for a crazy challenge. Not the first moment of madness experienced in a game that saw a comical goal being gifted to the hosts. All of which means the Elland Road outfit drop into the relegation zone as we head into the final fortnight of the season. Mind the gap indeed…..

With Brentford travelling to Everton next before hosting Leeds United, we’ve naturally got a lot of interest in both clubs and their current form. In what they have to play for. An awful lot, it seems. Midweek – and the respective games with Watford and Chelsea –  is going to be huge. Still, there’s nothing we can do on that front beyond sit back and watch the action unfold. There’s no real influence can be bought to bear so we’ll leave both clubs to stew in their respective juices and see who can fight their way out.

For Brentford, the focus is now on our player of the year award. The vote was opened to supporters this weekend with the choice being one of the toughest in years. Looking across social media I’ve seen a whole gamut of names chucked in to the mix. Genuinely, any of these would be a worthy winner. But who to pick?

Ivan Toney has the goals. He’s the current leader of our weekly ‘game by game’ top five performers’ chart. The gap at the top is definitely getting narrower and this one is going to go to the wire. Yet, as it stands, he is in pole position. He’s eighth in the Premier League goal scorers chart for the season and, with Harry Kane the only English player above him, could selection for the national team be next on the agenda? If nothing else, given the Three Lions’ uneasy relationship with spot kicks, he could be the perfect weapon up Gareth Southgate’s sleeve when the World Cup squad is named.

Ivan has been doing it since the season began

Then there’s Rico Henry. If we’re looking at Ivan for England then surely Rico has an equally bold claim? My word, he has been incredible this season. Just incredible. The pace. The tackling. The skill with the ball at his feet. The acceleration up the left flank and delivery in to the box. He’s the proverbial ‘first name on the team sheet’. Thankfully, a contract extension has been signed that sees him remain a Bee until 2026.

Rico – just fantastic

What about Bryan Mbeumo? Talk about back to his best. Inspirational captain Pontus Jansson with his heart on his sleeve and always leading by example? The revelatory Kris Ajer? The almost ’taken for granted’ authority of Ethan Pinnock? Mrs Bruzon, who knows a heck of a lot more than yours truly, has cast her vote for one of those.
Vitaly Janelt has been magnificent. That he only cost £0.5million almost laughable in retrospect. 

Might Pontus be celebrating again?

The choice of those looking in would likely sway towards Christian Eriksen. Understandably. The romance of his story aside, he has been game changing since returning to full fitness. Few could dispute what a massive influence he has been on the team since he made his way in to the starting XI. That Chelsea game being the one that grabbed all the headlines but he has been that good every time he has played.

The aforementioned ‘top five’ is only missing his presence due to the way it is calculated on game by game scores. As such he misses out on that and, for the same reason, I can’t cast my vote in that direction. This season. For a player of the year award, 9 appearances (fantastic though the y have been) leaves him just that bit short.

What a signing

For me, Clive, it comes down to two players. First up, Christian Norgaard. Brentford’s Mr consistent. The under the radar player who may not always grab the headlines but who is the beating heart of this team. Who keeps it tight at the back siting just in front of whatever formation Thomas elects to start with. Who drives us forward. Who sprays it about with aplomb. Who even weighs in with the odd goal.

That moment of celebration against Arsenal when Brentford topped the Premier League table back in August, secured by his doubling of our lead. The weekly player review has seen him in the top five more than any other player – 18 times out of 36 games played to date. He has been incredible. He deserves to win.

Might Christian be celebrating again?

Then there’s David Raya. For all that people point to Ivan’s goals. To Eriksens’s influence. To Rico’s pace. To Norgaard’s consistency. They’re all correct but none of it would count for anything were it not for the last line of defence. For me, the biggest moment of the season was the injury suffered late on against Leicester City. Up until then, Brentford had been flying. Raya on fire. Then he was gone. Then we had a different Brentford. One which got humped at Burnley. Handed Norwich City their first win of the season. That couldn’t rejig or get used to life without our number one. Two different options were tried and, but for Covid it would have been three (Matthew Cox, your time will come). None of them worked. Like an overbalanced Jenga tower, Brentford were wobbling.

Then David returned and everything was good with the world once more. He inspires confidence. Positivity. Builds attacks. His distribution world class. His form has seen him rewarded a call up for Spain. If Christian deserves to win then I would say exactly the same about David. 

David Raya – his form has been season defining

Whilst Brentford have defied all the critics with our achievements this year, the vote comes down to a straight fight between Norgaard and Raya. The trophy can’t be cut in two. It needs to come down to the vote. You can get your chance here.

In the mean time, if it helps (or hinders) here’s the Southampton ‘starman debrief and current look at our own top five.

Good luck……..

Nick Bruzon

The dream is still on (although which one?)

8 May

Just when this season couldn’t get any more exciting, it delivers again. Brentford cruising to a 3-0 defeat of Southampton that sees us up to 43 points and chasing down tenth place. The dream is still on (although which particular dream depends on your viewpoint – let’s just say that there will be more than half an eye on our final two opponents this afternoon, with both Everton and Leeds United in action). For now though, it’s all about another fine win and another clean sheet.

Let’s be blunt. This felt as easy as they come. Brentford confident. Dominant. On the front foot and taking the game to their opponents from the off. West Ham levels of game management. Southampton unable to cope with wave after wave of red and white shirts. Alarm bells had been set ringing by Mathias Jensen before Pontus Jansson broke the deadlock on thirteen minutes. Ivan’s ball into the box steered home with one touch. The smiles broad. The celebrations huge. The crowd ecstatic. 

The smile on his face says it all

Still, if that set them off it was nothing compared to what happened a minute later. This time, Yoanne Wissa racing clear and lashing it home from the edge of the area. Advantage being played after Christian Eriksen had been taken out by two Southampton players. The trademark ‘W’ celebration delivered to the joy of all. He might have had another, too, but somehow conspired to shoot over when it seemed easier to score. Oh well. It made little difference as 2-0 at HT eventually finished 3-0. Kris Ajer weaving through the box for a wonderful finish through the legs of Fraser Forster. The celebrations from the crowd only beaten by those at full time.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages, as the regular reader will be aware. Whilst the player debrief will come later, for now it is a chance to enjoy a job well done. To see Thomas Frank not afraid to mix it up. The midfield conundrum posed in yesterday’s column answered not by Vitaly being replaced with Josh Dasilva but, rather, Mathias Jensen. The Dane unlucky not to score early on with a chance that, on TV, looked a lot harder than it had done in the cut and thrust of the live action arena. I do wonder if this was the ground being prepped for the Dasilva-Norgaard-Eriksen midfield trio that all supporters are so desperate to see start a game. Josh eventually making it on to the field and playing a key part in the build up to Ajer’s game sealing goal    

David Raya was solid as rock when needed. The one time he was beaten, offside and VAR cane to the rescue for Brentford. Southampton may feel hard done by but the decision was the correct one. The one chance to haul themselves back in to things snuffed out as quickly as it flickered in to view. Instead, Brentford had it under control in a game played out in a carnival atmosphere of singing and shouting. Not a mobile phone or light show in sight. Any Coldplay stylings deemed very much surplus to requirements.  

Six wins out of the last nine played for Brentford. Confidence booming and not even a green jacket required. Hey, a promise is a promise. Next up, the trip to Everton on Sunday. They travel to Leicester City this  afternoon and relegated Watford on Wednesday. Both fixtures key to their survival hopes. Especially with Leeds United also deep in the mire and making the visit to Champions League chasing Arsenal this afternoon before hosting Chelsea midweek. All four games will make compulsive viewing for more than one reason. By the time we’re back together again in a week, the shape of the table could see one or both clubs in even deeper trouble than they already are. Could see Brentford in position as the ones to administer a potentially fatal blow – should things go badly today and on Wednesday.

A campaign that has been about as exciting as any on record may still have more than a few twists in the tail. All that’s to come, of course. For now, let’s put our feet up and luxuriate in the warm afterglow of victory. A wonderful Saturday afternoon has set up an equally exciting last two games. 

I can’t wait  – see you there.

Fans of all ages celebrate Brentford’s third

Nick Bruzon

Vamos David Raya.

7 May

Three Premier League games to go. Brentford face Southampton this afternoon before next Sunday afternoon’s rearranged trip to Everton (the biggest stitch up since the Allies took the field in Escape To Victory) and then the season denouement at home to Leeds United. With Monday night’s defeat at Manchester United still niggling, a return to winning ways against The Saints would be marvellous for so many reasons.

I’m not gong to lie but the game at Old Trafford really irked me. Perhaps it was exhaustion after the huge trek there and back. Moreso, one undertaken after leaving a family weekend away early. That’s football though. The journey is part of it and, being fair, the travel element of this particular long haul was a heck of a lot more enjoyable than the usual.

Pre-match optimism at Old Trafford eventually turned to frustration

No, for me Clive it was a combination of many other factors. Our own out-of-sorts approach, if we are being honest. Sure, show some respect to Manchester United and there history (lord knows, there were enough reminders of former glories hanging around the tired looking stadium) but this much? Some bright spells aside, we were largely on the back foot. Largely playing too deep. Unable to make any real penetration and lacking some of the usual spark. Where were the Brentford who dominated West Ham, obliterated Chelsea or ran rings around Tottenham?

Then there was Cristiano Ronaldo. He is the ultimate in marmite players. The pace and technique – amazing. World class. The ultimate ball tied to foot with a piece of string. The physique  – just jaw dropping. How can somebody be that fit and that athletic at any age, let alone at a point when most professionals would have hung up their boots? Truly, a model professional in more ways than one. 

For all that good stuff, there’s the bullshit side. The petulance. The backchat. The theatrical waving of arms. The histrionics. The ‘injuries’ and miracle cures. The snideness – yes, Rico fouled him but the initial move to that event was arguably started by the Portuguese show pony. On Monday, we had it all by the bucketload. 

As for the supporters… talk about entitlement. Talk about a bunch of fans whose approach was to turn up, shut up, wave a scarf and expect to win because they were once any good. Even the scheduled ‘protest’ turned into as big a non-event as the Mrs. Brown’s Boys Xmas special once it became clear they were going to win the game.

United may be sixth in the Premier League but of all the away days undertaken this campaign, it was the grand, fanbase and team I’ve been left with the least respect for. Say what you want about Leeds United (and we will over the next two weeks, I am sure) nobody could deny the atmosphere at Elland Road was incredible. What a noise. What backing for their club. Oh, the irony that on that afternoon it was Brentford who fell apart and saw almost certain victory turn to a last gasp draw.

Elland Road – raucous

Anyway, long story short the game at Manchester United has left an unusually sour taste in the mouth. And I’m sorry for harping on but there you go. Oh to have Thomas Frank’s approach of 24 hours to dwell on any result then move on.

The plus side being that Southampton this afternoon sees a chance to get back on the horse. To make one last charge for the upper half of the table. To potentially end the day in tenth place if results go our way. Something that will have even more importance given we go to an Everton side desperate for points in eight day’s time….. 😉  

Imagine what another defensive nightmare at Everton might do to the league table…..

So, what do we think for today? Barcelona bound Sergi Canos (there’s not anybody actually believing that, is there? ) and Ethan Pinnock are 4th out still, although word from Thomas is that Everton is the hope for their return. Otherwise, with Ghoddos, Zanka and Frank the Tanks also injured, we’re the same sqaud as Monday. 

The obvious change is one to a traditional back four rather than three with wingbacks. We know how well that line up has worked against the right opposition in the last month or two and would give us that extra balance in midfield. More, given how deep Christian Norgaard found himself at Old Trafford – at times he looked like a fourth centre back. Then again, I said the same thing prior to the Chelsea game and look how that went? Thomas Frank remaining one step ahead of everyone and I am sure that will be the approach this afternoon.

Of probably more interest will be whether Josh Dasilva makes a start. He came off the bench against United and the prospect of seeing him and Christian Eriksen together for a prolonged period of time is now which has supporters’ drooling. Two of our most technically gifted players in the heart of the midfield could be a joy to behold. Who makes way being the real conundrum. Four in to three just won’t go and Vitaly, who makes up that quartet, would be very hard done by to miss out. A wonderful problem to have.

Southampton won’t just roll over, of course. Like the Bees, they are also on 40 points. They will be looking to end the season with a bang after hitting the buffers in recent weeks. April saw just one win from six games played. A period that included the 6-0 tanking administered by Chelsea. Something as unusual in not just the heaviness of the defeat but their becoming one of the few clubs not to put at least three goals past the Stamford Bridge outfit in a month that saw our own Bees start that colossal Chelsea haemorrhaging. 

Its all our fault. It all our fault….

Still, for me today is all about us. The opposition an almost byproduct of needing to win. Of wanting to win. Wanting to get back to the brilliant Brentford we’ve been spoiled so much with in recent weeks. Of course we haven’t got a divine right to just turn up and win. To expect victory on demand. That’s where we came in to this piece and that sort of approach (see also: fans who thing success equates to stadium capacity) sucks. Victory needs to be earned. Fans need to be loud. Players need to want it.

It doesn’t matter whether we face Southampton or Chelsea. Liverpool or Leeds. The approach needs to be the same. From everybody. The fans got their part spot on at Old Trafford. Here’s to the rest of the pieces in that puzzle falling in to place today.   

I can’t wait for this one. See you there.

Oh, and if anyone needs a new song this afternoon, what about something for our own man in nets?

How we’ve missed him at times this season.

How good to have him back and at his best.

Granted, this one starts off a little bit Dogtanian but what simpler refrain than channeling Righeira’s early 80’s Europe classic…

Vamos, David Raya. Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh….

If nothing else, certainly less of a mouthful than the Christian Eriksen song which I still can’t get right. I know of at least one West Stand observer keen to drive this one forward. Top, top plan.

And until then, here’s the Manchester United debrief…

Nick Bruzon

Post-match debrief and player review.

4 May

Manchester United 3 Brentford 0. They got the points. Well done. At least we had the vocal presence. Sadly, the push for a top ten place hit a bump at Old Trafford on Monday night although with three games to go, that’s still on with the next bite at the cherry against Southampton on Saturday.

As ever at this point we ask who was the star man For Brentford. Who shone as Manchester United did the business? Will Thomas have been impressed enough or make changes for Southampton? Who leads the race to be our season long top performers ?

The answers are here in the post match player review and debrief. .

Nick Bruzon

Get the f*@k in !! Now THIS is what it’s all about.

15 Jan

Well here we are at last. If the Premier League hadn’t been exciting enough so far, Brentford now go into a sequence of games that sees us go to Liverpool on Sunday, host Manchester United on Wednesday and then welcome back old friends Wolves on the Saturday. It is a week of fixtures that at one point in most supporter’s lifetime would have been nothing short of fantasy football. Now it is very real and now it is here. Not to mention the news out of Lionel Road yesterday about Pontus Jansson signing an extended contract. The club captain clearly relishing his time with The Bees following that move which took him from Leeds United to Griffin Park back in 2019.

We can only begin with all things Liverpool, of course. A Sunday afternoon 2pm kick off sees our first visit to Anfield since that 1989 FA Cup quarter final. Brentford, then, a Division three club for whom Andy Sinton, Keith Jones, Allan Cockram, Gary Blissett, Keith Millen and Terry Evans were amongst the players to make yours truly go dewy eyed even now. Checks Wikipedia – Neil Smillie is 63. Cripes – that’s how long ago it was. Yet it was a rare opportunity to step up in class.To continue that epic cup run that had already seen us beat Manchester City and then a fine fifth round win up at Blackburn Rovers.

What an afternoon it was.

Liverpool, of course, were next level. In general and on the day. Reaching the ground relatively late, we walked into an already full stadium to be greeted by a wall of noise and a teeming mass of supporters. The fans moving as one on the Kop at the far end of the stadium. I remember suddenly being hit by the sheer impossibility of the task ahead but also the excitement and the potential if, somehow, footballing fate were to smile on us. If David were to beat Goliath. And it almost happened.

“No Offside!! Cadette!!! Ohhh, he’s missed!! Sinton’s lovely little ball and Richard Cadette, top scorer with seventeen goals this season… how close did he come to putting this quarterfinal? Well, it would have been dreamland for Brentford, wouldn’t it? It was inches wide of the post. And that…silenced the Kop”.

Ahh, Tony Gubba. His immortal words with the score locked at 0-0 still ring in the ears. The chance still visible in the minds’ eye. An opening ten minutes with more action than you get in most games. Then Liverpool turned it up to 11. 1-0 at HT became 4-0 by the end. We did well to hang in there but eventually class told. We went back to West London and that was it for over thirty years. Until this season and that quite incredible 3-3 at Lionel Road.

The inflatable Bee may have gone but the photo from my last trip to Anfield remains

If the trip to Anfield had been a highlight in my life as a Brentford fan, then the Premier League game in September has now overtaken that. To see the two clubs competing on an equal footing. Both in the same division. Decades of ambition finally coming to fruition. The long, hard years having to explain that our team, largely unheard of outside TW8, were Brentford rather than Brentwood (in Essex ) now nothing more than a dusty relic from a previous time. To have my family with me and little H, the excitement painted all over his face in thick brushstrokes. His tears as they scored again. The screams of joy as we pulled them back. Again. Liverpool’s lead falling apart as easily as a Leeds United promotion campaign.

That’s what a Wissa equaliser for 3-3 does

Ahh, good times. Amazing times. But a memory to file alongside Anfield ’89. Now, we’ve the chance to make new ones. Thee points the priority against a Liverpool side shorn of their best player (Mo Salah on AFCON duty along with Sadio Mane and Naby Keita) yet still putting out a terrifyingly strong looking line up for Thursday’s League Cup semi with Arsenal. That one ended 0-0, against ten men. Stoic resistance does work. With the Bees enduring that horror show at Southampton on Wednesday, one so woeful it culminated in a hard hitting approach to the player performance review – the only way is up. There’s just no way we can defend that abysmally again. Whether playing Liverpool or Lincoln City. We were victims of our own lethargy. This time around things will be different. They have to be.

Thomas Frank has hinted that Rico Henry will be ready. Amazing if so but one can’t help but think these are nothing more than mind games and Manchester United will be when we see him back in action. The attacking potential and defence quality he brings is, of course, something that needs no expansion upon. We all know it. We all love him. We all hope there will be no gamble with fitness although if he IS ready then happy days. Roll on 1pm Sunday when the team is announced and we find out.

The other big call will be in nets. Does Jonas Lössl get a start or will Alvaro Fernandez keep his place? It always takes time for a new goalkeeper and defence to sync up whilst nobody could replace David Raya. It’s a task as impossible as following Fergie at Old Trafford. The manager rather than the Black Eyed Pea. Yet, equally, we all know that things have been up and down. Moments of brilliance – he arguably saved us two points late on at home to Aston Villa – have come alongside a frustrating lack of clean sheets. The only people smiling there being the marketing team at Dormeo as another  promotional mattress and duvet set gets to stay in the warehouse. Is it all down to him? What would you do? For me, Clive, there’s nothing to lose by making the change. Something needs to give after Southampton and I’m afraid most eyes will be pointing in the obvious direction – that last line of defence.

Look, I know nothing about football. Really. I love it, live it, breath it. But I’m not a coach. I’m not involveld in what happens. Like most of us, a peripheral figure on the outside looking in when it comes to team selection and actually knowing what goes on behind the scenes.  Everyone’s an expert and a tracksuit manager. Everyone’s a critic and its the easiest thing in the world to pour forth. Indeed, that’s all part of what makes it such a wonderful game. The conjecture. The discussion. The ongoing debate with friends. Listening to pundits and then shouting at the tv as to how wrong they are. 

Ultimately though, it comes down to Thomas Frank and his squad as to who our best eleven are on the day. Rico or Sergi. Jonas or Alvaro. Whomever we go with, this promises to be as loud and exciting an experience as they come. It shouldn’t have the feel of ‘big day out’. That was for 1989 and a one off experience. An amazing one but we were a different club then with different aspirations. These days Brentford have big new ambitions (sorry, sorry, sorry – couldn’t resist) and these upcoming games the Reds, Manchester United and Wolves will go a huge way towards telling us how realistic they are. Bring it on!!! See you there.

The other news was , of course, Pontus Janson and his contract extension. This is fantastic news. He’ll now be with us until the end of of next season after it was announced yesterday that he had put pen to paper. 

No word, of course, as to whether it was ‘that’ pen but one can only dream….

That biro

Nick Bruzon

A brutal evening ends with a reset needed for Sunday.

12 Jan

Where to even start with any of that ? Brentford were humped 4-1 at Southampton in a game that saw a sub-Burnley level of frustration. Even Vitaly Janelt comparing it to Brighton in his own post match comments to ‘official’. In a season packed with so many giddy highs, this truly was as moribund and frustrating an experience as they come. Moreso, given that on paper the return of Kris Ajer and a central midfield of Janelt, Norgaard and Baptiste should have given us as strong a heart as they come. Instead, there was no answer to the hosts combination of fast pressing and long balls forward. With Liverpool next up on Sunday, dial in even half as close a performance – and the word is used in the loosest sense – and we’re going to be in trouble. Regardless of who they have missing at the African Cup of Nations.

Thomas acknowledges the fans at Full Time

We’ve all seen it, I’m sure. Whether through being there, the re-run that began at 9pm or via the video highlights that are now online. Go dig them out, if you must. I have but wish I hadn’t. What felt painful last night looks even worse in the cold light of day. Southampton on top of us at all times and not giving Brentford any chance to breath. Pushing. Pressing. Chasing. Closing us down. Winning just about every second ball. The Bees adopting a much more zonal set up, in that we seemed to be playing in a different time zone. The fetid whiff of 2006/07 and Rosenior-Butcher hanging over the team like a bad smell. Defence awol. The freedom of Saint Marys being handed to our hosts time and again. My word, they punished us. Hard. 

The first goal conceded within minutes. A corner flicked over and through the entire Bees defence. Yes, it was a fast ball but nobody reacted. Nobody got close to even trying to attack it, Ivan Toney aside. He and Fernandez offering little resistance to Jan Bednarek. Urghhh. 

Yet then Brentford hit that little patch of hope. First Vitaly levelling up with the most exquisite left footed volley, his leg at right angles to the pitch, after picking out a ball from Bryan. Then, the same man forcing Fraser-Frster to go full stretch. Promising. Might we actually show the spirit seen so often? The fire and guts that hauled us back time and again when Liverpool came to visit? That roared us on to the last minute at West Ham? 

Err, no. Ibrahima Diallo ligning himself up for a shot on the edge of the box that was predictable as the outcome inevitable. Nobody charged him down or even tried. The merest of shrugs from Ethan as the ball went past another Fernandez dive that didn’t, quite, reach the ball (longer gloves needed? Better positioning?). Either way, he shouldn’t have been beaten on his inside post and even though saved by the post, the ball ricocheted straight into his hand and the back of the net. Urghhh. Hearts sank. Half time came. Surely we’d start at 100 mph? Surely?

Alas not. A long ball forward caught Pontus short. 3-1. A long ball forward caught Pontus short. 4-1. He wasn’t alone btw. The entire defence awol for most of the game. The nonchalant fannying around cross the box lucky not to hurt us further. A brief flurry at the end where Bryan, Wissa and Ivan came close was far too little, far too late.  An absolute 0 out of 10 performance from Brentford, even despite the ref moment of joy elicited by Vitaly’s goal  

The biggest challenge of all then being after full time and attempting to complete the usual post-match piece where we find the top five Brentford performers. Well, I’ve done it on the way home and you can find that here. Please do go take a look. Let us know who, if anyone , missed out or should  / could have been included.   

The positives, if we can, being that this was very much out of character. This is Premier League football where no game is easy. The gaps for a team off their game likely to be exposed even more easily than at any other level we’ve played before. Likewise, one absolutely needs to acknowledge Southampton’s desire. Their drive. Their refusal to give us an inch. The difference bing that when faced with this approach before (e.g . Chelsea, home) we’ve generally hung firm at the back and avoided the avalanche. Not this time. Oh for a T-Rex last night. Or a defence. Or the ability to take the ball to our opponents. 

It happened. Its over. It was one game. No matter how unpalatable it felt at the time. Let’s never talk of their goals ever again and, instead, hope Thomas can pick the boys up in time for Liverpool on Sunday. Hope he can give us the Brentford that travelled to Wolves and West Ham so wonderfully. Not this.

On the plus side, if Rasmus Ankersen was looking to impress his new consortium in charge at Southampton with talent they may be interested in then they’d have laughed him out the ground. The wonderful recruitment strategy he was so instrumental in at Brentford offered up nothing more than … well, we get it. No point dwelling further. The frustration around was evident last night. Having slept on it, one has to remember what this team can do when they are on it. 

Was Rasmus in the boardroom or on security?

Over to you Thomas. Can you get us back to our best for Liverpool?  One thing’s for sure, I can’t wait to find out. Bring it on and see you there.

In the meantime, that ‘heat of the moment’ post-match analysis is here. Go strap on a tin hat…

Nick Bruzon   

And the top five Brentford perfomers were…..

11 Jan

Southampton 4 Brentford 1. It was as bad as the score line suggests . It was a result which now presents yours truly with the somewhat dubious challenge of looking back at the game to try and find the top five performers for The Bees. Those players who will be looking to make a name for themselves at Liverpool on Sunday.

No celebrations at full time

Who made the list? Can anyone count themselves unlucky to have missed out? Has there been a glaring omission? Well, here you go……………. 

Jurassic Park !!! Crazy costume heralds ‘keeper return.

11 Jan

Game on. Brentford travel to Southampton this evening. Victory, should it be earned, will take us into the top ten. Any other result is not even an option being considered by yours truly. Optimism is high following a strong start to the year and some wonderful news off the training ground. We’ve got Liverpool (a) and Manchester United (h) to come after this one and an FA Cup fourth round tie at Everton. Immediately followed by the trip to Manchester City in the league. If Thomas Frank’s team ever wanted to be tested at the highest level then the opportunity is very much here in the next few weeks. First up though, the injury update.

Ordinarily we’d start with some reference to the Southampton game. Rightly so. It is the immediate focus but the news out of Brentford ‘official’ yesterday was jaw droppingly good. Not to mention laced with the simple question…. “Why?”

If ever some ‘Monday motivation’ (urghh – see also humpday Wednesday and Gameday Saturday) were needed then here it was by the bucketload. David Raya back in training. Or, rather, David Raya back in training but rocking up at Jersey Road in a T-Rex costume. Repeat, a T-Rex costume. To clarify, a dinosaur rather than a Mark Bolan corkscrew perm and dapper threads combo.

Jurassic Park !!!

Back on the grass? Or just the painkillers taking hold to inspire a remarkable return? If the smiles were broad at Jersey Road they were even bigger in cyberspace. The Brentford family as exited on Twitter about the next step in his return as his choice of unexpected training gear. It was one of those,  “What the actual…?” moments. One best just enjoyed. As much for his entrance as the sight of our number one looking as solid as one could hope in a shot stopping drill for the cameras.

Brentford official captured it in full. David’s idea, apparently. No idea why but you can’t deny its impressive. Not to mention making me wonder whether there is somebody else inside Buzzette at present if this is what he does as part of that journey back to full fitness?

Whilst a return to playing may be some way off still, just to see David doing his thing was a phenomenal boost. Kris Ajer’s return against Port Vale in the FA cup at the weekend had already given Bees’ fans a lift and then there was this. Yet just when things couldn’t get any better, they did. Thomas Frank using his press conference for the Southampton game to talk about Josh Dasilva. We’d all seen those pictures of him back in training last week but the news on a potential return was about as good as it gets for a player who has missed the entire Premier League campaign.

“I said to Josh the other day that he could be our best signing this year. I really hope he comes back in a fantastic place. Hopefully, five or six weeks if everything goes to plan and he could potentially be available”. That’s no time at all.

Granted, there was an understandable air of caution in the proviso that, “We need to build him very carefully and strong. He needs to have a proper pre-season to load him well. We can’t get too over-excited but everything has been fine so far. The medical staff have been fantastic and done a top job”. However, this suddenly feels close. Very close.

Josh was absolutely immense in the Championship and has already gone on to represent England U-21. With him and David back out there and Kris already in the team, it feels like we’ve had a transfer window hat trick without signing anyone. Just phenomenal news. Let’s not forget either that Josh is only 23. Whilst this absence has felt like an eternity, time is very much on his side when it comes it the future. Here’s to it being with Brentford.

Exciting news from the training ground

As for tonight, Southampton are no push-overs, that’s for sure. The challenge will be as tough as the aforementioned games with Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City. If not harder, given nobody outside of TW8 expects us to do anything against the teams from the North-West. Yet tonight, we are ahead of our hosts in the Premier League and are back to winning ways following the thing at Brighton. The comeback against Aston Villa was inspirational, with the pressure being cranked up to the nth degree until victory eventually came (even if the ultimate talking point remains Trezeguet’s theatrics at the death…).

So yes, we may be back in the zone but that still needs to come with the ultimate respect for who we are up against. Thomas would talk about their pressing and their drive.  “They go very front-footed and are at some stages the best high-pressing, energy team in the league. Then they have some key players; James Ward-Prowse is maybe the best set-piece taker in the league”.

He knows it. We know it. Sadly, there isn’t even time to parachute Ward-Prowse into my Fantasy Football team. A curse which worked so well against Aston Villa with the no-show from Ollie Watkins and two goals conceded by Ezri Konsa. Perhaps just an ‘any time’ goal scorer bet. Whilst it may mean missing out on a whopping £2.30, it could be the best pound invested given my own ongoing ineptitude when it comes to predicting football or winning bets.

Forget Wissa’s rocket – the Villa win was as much down to my own team selection

Still, whatever nonsense takes place in the build up, it all comes down to who Thomas starts and how they go? Can Kris Ajer force his way into the back three or will an appearance from the bench be part of his own, well planned return? Sergi Canos and Matthias Jensen are both available once more although I’d be amazed if Mads Roerslev misses out on the right. So it turns out to be a three-way fight between Dominic Thompson, Sergi or perhaps even the wildcard option of Saman Ghoddos on the left. Rico Henry is expected to be back for the weekend trip to Liverpool. With respect to the other three, the second he is fit then he will unquestionably go straight back in to the team.

As for the middle of the park, it has to be Janelt, Baptiste and Norgaard. Only injury to one of those will see Matthias Jensen force his way into the starting XI. They’re simply that good at present. Up top, Bryan alongside Ivan writes itself after the weekend. Albeit, we don’t know how much strength is in the legs after that short-term lay off. Roll on 6.46 when ‘official’ announce the team news.

Finally, just a thought about those who can’t make it at present. And no, this is not a reference to the ‘plastic’ fans who weren’t at Port Vale. Seriously? Personally speaking, I had a great time drinking a glass of wine on the couch with Mrs. B in front of the tv on Saturday. Sometimes, things have to give for any number of reasons – financial or otherwise.

Something which has come to a head for some of our own friends who sit alongside us in the North stand. If they are somehow reading (stranger things and all that) then know your presence has been sorely missed. Whilst we hope you are back soon, just look after yourselves and know that all in our group are thinking of you. Some of us miss games through choice. Others have less control over matters. It doesn’t make you any ‘less’ of a fan. Genuinely, I’d love a 100% attendance record but that’s just not always possible. At least I get a choice though. Take care and see you soon x

Until then, its on to Southampton. Safe travels to all that can make this one. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Time for another road trip (or three). League and cup action await.

10 Jan

Brentford will travel to Everton in the fourth round of the FA Cup – ties to be played the weekend of 5th February. Along with Spurs v Brighton and Wolves v Norwich, it is one of only three all Premier League ties. Meaning there’s a good chance of the BBC going for TV coverage along with the inevitable bore fest that will be Manchester United v Middlesbrough. Unless, of course, Aston Villa can spare us all from that one tonight when they travel to Old Trafford for the final game of the round. Manchester City have the chance to warm up for our visit the following week with a home draw against EFL club Fulham whilst next on our tour of the Premier League, Southampton, are home to Coventry City.

There was immediate, perhaps bizarre, excitement in our house when Everton came out of the hat. Aside from our own recent 1-0 win and an earlier than expected chance to visit a new ground, if Brentford show half the oomph we did against Port Vale then it could be a classic. A 4-1 win on the road with Mads Bidstrup subsequently described by Thomas Frank as a little bit of our N’Golo Kanté  ( “A big, big claim of course” – Thomas’ own words ). Talking about his “Big engine”, he used the post-match to lavish praise on the midfielder, enthusing that “his ability to press and cover so many yards across the pitch is fantastic and that acceleration when he just goes past people, I think that’s so good in the pressure.”

Mads’ reward is another ‘away’ tie.

Then, of course, we’ve the prospect of another run in with everyone’s favourite Brazilian.  Pele, Socrates, Zico, Ronaldinho…. Allan. As has already been documented on these pages, the midfielder has become a cult hero to rival Argentina’s Lucas Biglia in our house. Any chance of some bonus Allan action is one which we’ll always opt for. Especially if Everton continue to, what’s the polite term, ‘misfire’ as much as they have done in recent months. League form is best described as patchy, with only Leeds United and Watford standing between them and the bottom three.

Meaning that the purse strings could be severely tested, given the trip to Manchester City in the Premier League is just a few days later. A 7.45pm kick off on Wednesday 9th February. Tickets for that one go on sale this Tuesday afternoon for anyone clearing that first TAP threshold of 3,400.  Away capacity for League games at The Ethiad is reckoned to be about 3,000 across the three tiers of the South Stand, so hopefully anyone with requisite form will be able to get in should they so desire. Definitely one where we’ll need to flex the plastic to cover costs.

Before all that we head to Southampton on Tuesday evening. They had the pleasure of a ‘behind closed doors’ tie in Swansea at the weekend (its Wales, innit). That one went to extra time before the Saints went, if not marching, certainly limping on.

Ralph Hasenhüttl telling Sky that his much changed team may not have enough players for tomorrow’s game, saying, ”We never know. At the moment, it’s all about lottery… You wake up in the morning and go to the training ground. You sit at breakfast and you are waiting for new [coronavirus] cases. The problem is with the fixtures coming up. It doesn’t get any easier.”

So far (Monday morning) there aren’t any noises being made about applications to have the game called off or training grounds being closed. Fingers crossed this is nothing more than sabre rattling and mind games. As much for the players’ health as the additional chaos caused by any more backlog. Let’s not forget that this fixture has already been put back once.

For Brentford, expect to see more of Bryan Mbeumo. He was back to his brilliant best, with Thomas waxing lyrical about his half hour appearance form the bench. Less the proverbial cameo and more scene stealing. Our head coach nothing that “I must say he’s been the same for us this year in the Premier League. He’s done really well after coming back from injury. We knew he wanted to play in the Cup to be in with a chance of being ready for Tuesday at Southampton and he’s just come in with three quality finishes”.

Too true, and surely he’ll find his way back in to the Brentford front line alongside Ivan when the teams are named at 6.46 on Tuesday evening.

In the meantime, you can read that piece in full, here. Come for Mads. Stay for Bryan.

For now, though, it’s a chance to charge the battery packs and prepare for the trip to Southampton. Don’t forget those Manchester City tickets tomorrow and, whilst we wait to find out when that Everton game will actually take place (Liverpool are also at home so something will have to give) here’s the rest of the draw in full….

Safe travels to the South coast and see you there…

Fourth round ties…

Crystal Palace v Hartlepool United

Bournemouth v Boreham Wood

Huddersfield Town v Barnsley

Peterborough United v Queens Park Rangers

Cambridge United v Luton Town

Southampton v Coventry City

Chelsea v Plymouth Argyle

Everton v Brentford

Kidderminster Harriers v West Ham United

Manchester United/Aston Villa v Middlesbrough

Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton and Hove Albion

Liverpool v Cardiff City

Stoke City v Wigan Athletic

Nottingham Forest v Leicester City

Manchester City v Fulham

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Norwich City

Allan awaits

Nick Bruzon