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Another Monkees moment approaches although this would be eleven times better.

20 May

One Premier League game to go. Brentford sit 11th in the table, with this Sunday’s visit from Leeds United even bigger than it already was following last night’s almost perfect combination of results. Everton are safe after coming back from 0-2 down to defeat Palace. Burnley control their own destiny after holding Aston Villa in a game that, arguably, they may even have won. Regardless, the point earned was sufficient to take them out of the bottom three as we head into that final round of fixtures. The Bees are now clear of both Villa and The Eagles, knowing that a win (combined with defeat for Brighton) will see us finish tenth. This would, of course, also see Leeds United relegated….…. 

Oh. My. You couldn’t have scripted it. A moment that has been building for so long is now upon us. We’d all seen the possibility from the moment the fixtures were published. Albeit most critics thinking it would be Leeds United as the ones aiming to hit the top ten whilst swinging the axe marked ‘relegation’. Instead, it is Brentford who find themselves in pole position. The stars slowly aligning over the last few months with supporters whispering under their breath about the potential for the final weekend but barely even able to speak about it for fear of the dream scenario not coming into play. Now, it has. Now we are in a place where… 

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had this kind of pre-match buzz since the return of Harlee Dean and Birmingham City to Griffin Park in February 2018. 

Their triple transfer swoop earlier in the season had, of course, already left a sour taste in the mouth

Maxime Colin. Gone. As much a blow as it meant we lost Peter Gilham’s quite wonderful Gallic stylings as he wrapped his tongue around the full back’s consonants.

Jota. Gone. There aren’t the words to describe the heartbreak felt. Even now, he’s up there in the bracket of my most favourite of all modern-era players. The passion. The joy. What he did in the last minute. Time and again. What he did at Fulham. What he did to Jake Bidwell at Griffin Park. The flowing locks. The silky skills. The heartbreaking ‘farewell’ (first time). The joyous return. All to go ’there’. Urghh

Jota – any excuse. Just one of so many wonderful moments

And, of course, Harlee Dean. Gone.

Harry Redknapp flashing the Birmingham City chequebook to hoover up a quarter of our starting XI in a move that would ultimately backfire big time. Harlee then kicking us squarely in the knackers with ‘that’ soundbite. Another case of the brain taking a good ten seconds to catch up. Much akin to a man leaving his car keys in the ignition, sticking a big bow on the bonnet and then turning his back as an opportunistic thief walked past..

If only he’d just thought it. But no, he said it.

It was a moment that is as now enshrined in Brentford infamy as Russell Slade, the Burnley commentary team, Martin Rowlands’ twisted kiss and number 26 refusing to play against Burnley. Just prior to his then signing….for Burnley.

That said, should he do the business against Newcastle on Sunday (something that will also see Leeds relegated regardless of how things play out at Lionel Road) then perhaps we can cut a little slack. Perhaps… 

Here’s hoping that Burnley can celebrate at Full Time, this time

The scene had been set but what played out when Birmingham City made their first visit to Brentford since all of that nonsense was beyond even the wildest dreams. You knew something special was in the air when, on walking into the ground, the first song heard from #BeeTheDJ was Jessie J – Price Tag . “Money. Money. Money” indeed.

The crowd were buzzing, the atmosphere charged. Flo Jo and Ollie Watkins giving us an early lead before a brace from Neal Maupay made it 4-0 with less than an hour played. Harlee coping it from everyone with even goalkeeper Daniel Bentley unable to supress his giggles. Ollie rounding things with a late fifth and that’s how things stayed. 

Yet just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, there was Brentford Official to surpass even the Jessie J moment. Instead of our regular ‘win music’, there was the ultimate in trolling.

Kool and The Gang / Celebrate subbed off.

The Monkees/ Daydream Believer brought on for a rousing reception.

The chants of ‘Cheer up Harlee Dean’ which had being doing the round most of the game, cranked up to the loudest yet. Simply beautiful and, whilst there has been a lot of subsequent dissection of this moment – predominantly saying we should have been better than this – for me, Clive, it captured the mood of the supporters quite magnificently. It was dirty. It was a low blow. It was brilliant.

That’s how it feels for this Sunday. A game where there is a personal edge to all of this.

A team whose fan base, amongst all of those aiming the tinpot jibes, has been as condescending as it comes over the years.

A club who have consistently fleeced visiting supporters.

A club, apparently, too big for a league that has regularly seen them matched up with ‘little’ Brentford in recent years. Of course, stadium size equates to the league a team should be playing in.

Neal Maupay doing what only Neal could. Even when there were no supporters present.

Then there’s ‘that. video. Probably most of all there’s that video.

“Mind the Gap, Thomas Frank”.….. Not my words Carol. The words of Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas.

I’m sure whatever Thomas says in public, there’s nothing that will give greater pleasure than boxing this one off. Than being the one whose team turn the screw and deliver the fatal blow.

Oh, to return all of that with interest and a smile….

Football isn’t that simple, of course. Wishful thinking alone doesn’t win games. Leeds United will be in a desperate fight for survival. Much as we’d all love to be facing a litter of toothless kittens, I suspect we’ll be confronted by a caged tiger. A desperate beast backed into a corner with survival hanging in the balance.

Their support will be loud. Fierce. Ours needs to be ten times better. And it will. This is going to be as exciting as it comes. As much for the chance of our own top ten finish as whatever else may come.

Watching the Burnley game in The Griff last night, the cheer as they went 1-0 up said everything about where our hearts lie. About what is now in front of us.

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

Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

Nick Bruzon

The morals of a psychopath. The teeth of a great white shark.

22 Mar

Just eight games to go. Our first Premier League campaign racing towards an exciting denouement. Brentford may have gone down to Leicester City by the odd goal in three on Sunday but as it stands the table shows the Bees 8 points (and superior goal difference) clear of third bottom Watford, a somewhat gargantuan 18 off the European places but 6 away from the top ten. Don’t @ me – the table doesn’t lie. Whilst Europe is too much even for an optimist such as yours truly, top ten for Brentford is still a feasible possibility. I know many fans are still looking over their shoulders, understandable from some respects, but glass half full and all that. Next up Chelsea. Assuming the padlocks haven’t gone over the gates of Stamford Bridge by that stage. Then West Ham at home. Nobody said it was going to be easy at this level, that’s for sure.

First up, Leicester City. What can you say? The post match debrief and top five players can be found here. For me, Clive, one incident stands out. They say ‘fine margins’ make the difference at this level and wasn’t that the truth? James Maddison came into this game with all eyes on him following his performance in the reverse fixture at Lionel Road. He may aswell have been wearing a top hat, cape and twirling a waxed moustache as he strode out on to the pitch. 

One could almost hear the Mwah, ha, ha, ha of a panto villain’s laugh as he backed into Mathias Jensen, threw himself to the ground and then got back up to hit a screamer past David Raya. No doubting the quality of the strike – one to rival Timothy Castagne’s opener for The Foxes  – but whether he should have even been in a position to hit the ball remains very much open to debate.

It had seemed questionable at the time – they always do, though ! However, the video clip that has been doing the rounds on social media and has since been taken down really does beg the question as to what the heck was going on in the VAR booth? The ‘official’ highlights c/o our friends at Sky Sports cut straight to the goal itself rather than the cause. Somewhat frustratingly. That’s the polite term for the goal that allowed the Foxes to double their lead.

It was Jeremy Clarkson who said, “The fox is not a little orange puppy dog with doe eyes and a waggly tail. It’s a disease-ridden wolf with the morals of a psychopath and the teeth of a great white shark”.

I’ll just leave that there.

A clear ‘foul’

So, we lost. Wissa’s late strike not quite enough to drag us back in to things. The pressure on Leicester building but Kasper Schmeichel doing his thing. The absent Christian Eriksen likely to have made a big difference but there was still enough about us in the second half to suggest that had we pushed up (Brentford) a bit earlier and harder then the result could well have been different. 

The other frustrating thing of the afternoon was the inevitable response to the team line up from certain quarters on social media. Nobody can doubt that Christian Eriksen is a cut above just about any midfield options we have. He has been immense. Covid robing us of the chance to see him in action. Likewise, his absence from the squad meaning a return to the starting XI for Mathias Jensen. The negativity around each point as predictable and evident as ever. 

Hey, I’m all for opinion and if somebody has a bad game then we need to talk about it. Absolutely. What I can’t get my head around is this putting the boot in before a ball has even been kicked. Perhaps its just a generational thing. Perhaps I’m just blindly naive and don’t know how football works. Likewise, I know that players don’t see any of this but, equally, negativity spreads. Transmits. The vibe kills. The groans and mutters every time the current ‘target’ goes near the ball sound louder. Become infectious amongst the lemmings not wanting to be seen backing the ‘bad one’. 

Ah, I don’t get it. We’re all experts and its super easy from the safety of the stands, the pub, social media or wherever you follow your football. The opinions are great. The opinions are needed. The pre-determined negativity just baffles me. Whilst its easy to say look away, this stuff just pops up all over the shop.

Anyway, like a cracked record and all that. For what it’s worth, I don’t think we’re going down. I still believe we can end the season in, or around, the top ten. I don’t think the team selection warrants this level of negativity. I’d LOVE Christian Eriksen to be playing – who wouldn’t – but I’m not sitting poised over my keyboard to drip poison the second he isn’t available. Etcetera, etcetera etcetera. I’m not going to change. Nor, I suspect, are others. As ever, the simple question remains – if somehow given the opportunity, would you say what you type to to the manager or the player’s face ? Hmmm.

Now we’re on to a fortnight of down time. Two weeks to rest and recover. Two weeks of International ‘break’. Most eyes will be on the Spain squad to see if David Raya makes his first international start. His displacement of David de Gea symptomatic of both our own man’s ability and the current crisis at Old Trafford. 

Then, its the short hop to Chelsea. The lucky few Brentford fans with tickets awarded in that first, pre sanction, tranche needing to be even louder than ever. The state of the team for that one not even close to being discussed yet. If nothing else, we’ve a whole gamut of players on international duty. David with Spain and then most of the midfield with Denmark  – Jensen, Norgaard and Eriksen all swapping red and white stripes for, errr, red and white. Fingers crossed everyone returns in high spirits and unscathed.

Until then, we’ve the Leicester debrief to catch up on. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon 

Arsenal get cocky. Brentford go home empty handed. Next up, Newcastle…

20 Feb

Arsenal 2 Brentford 1. Defeat for the Bees but one which came with both good and bad. A game played out in a cracking atmosphere with the Bees fans getting stuck in and, unexpectedly, the home support actually making noise. Unexpectedly given their own reputation, our previous visit and the ‘noise’ (or lack of) already experienced this season in the games at Liverpool and Spurs. Big ground does not equal big volume, that’s for sure. Yet despite more empty seats than a studio recording of Mrs Brow… sorry, My Family, it stayed lively throughout. Even turning hilariously tetchy towards the end with one fan getting played like second hand fiddle. What is it about green jackets? Yet none of this bonhomie changes a nil return for Brentford. The forthcoming trio of games : Newcastle United (h), Norwich City (a), Burnley (h), now looking like they will play a key role in helping decide which of those clubs may go down aswell as giving a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our position in the table and calm any jangling nerves.

The Bees come close on a rare sortie into the Arsenal box

Post-match commentary was interesting:

Nice kick about with the boys. The apparently prolific Lacazette proving himself anything but in either goal scoring (nil return) or humility..

fun session today – Emile Smith-Rowe who, up against the defensive prowess of Sergi Canos – we’ll get there in a moment – at least managed to score.

Footballers being footballers, eh? Or arrogant dicks? Take your pick. 

For me, Clive, don’t give it if you can’t take it and the key observation was not from a player but one overheard from an irate Arsenal fan in the queue or the Piccadilly line home:  

We’re getting excited because we’ve scraped past the shittest team in the league 2-1. 

Arsenal twitter – a real work of art

Let’s not make any pretence here, Arsenal deserved to win. They actually played football. Brentford guilty of showing too much respect and, whilst colossal at the back, no real drive forward.  Hardly the shittest team but one that were bereft of attacking desire. Looking to contain rather than go for the jugular. For all that Arsenal were dominant, you could see them wobbling when we eventually stepped up. Christian Norgaard’s goal, sadly too late. 

Instead, we’d already had to endure the usual gamut of sideways and backwards passing in the seeming desire to carve out a perfect opening. Mathias Jensen, mercifully subbed off after an injury. Sergio Canos, not his fault that he is being asked to play out of position, but looked out of his depth trying to defend against this calibre of opposition. Ivan Toney again absent following his ‘minor calf injury’.

That’s all three Premier League games missed since the fuckgate tape emerged. Is the injury report correct or could the player be suffering form a case of video nasty? One thing’s for sure, we need him up top. On the rare instance the ball got into the Arsenal box, we could have killed for his attacking presence. His dead eye cool in front of goal.

All being well this is nothing more than Thomas Frank being ultra cautious going into a game which, at least prior to kick off, the home side would have been red hot favourites to win. To play percentages and hold his star man back for the forthcoming 9 points we’ll be competing for. For Ivan to be fighting fit when he gets the chance to show Newcastle United what might have been.

Certainly, the vibe at the moment feels as though we’re trying to close games out and banking on that early season run being sufficient to carry us over the line. To pick up wins in targeted games against ‘teams like….’ with anything else in between being a bonus. Phil Giles appears to be flavour of the month amongst the usual suspects on twitter, bemoaning his ‘tactics’ of not strengthening in the transfer window. 

And I can see why that view point may be taken but I’d refer back to a paragraph written last week. Which I’ll republish here, just because :

All the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the transfer window won’t change anything. Our targets were flagged and they didn’t include defensive cover. Get over it. Getting on the backs of those asked to fill in won’t help any. This team has enough about it for people to be getting upset about what some may consider to be not having a recognised right back. I’m not an idiot. I’d love another option there. I’d love another option up top. I’d love Ivan to be playing further forward. To see chances being created for him and snaffled as we did last season but we’ve set our stall out and, mostly, held our own. Laid foundations for the rest of this campaign and what may come beyond.

I guess the issue is that when the gaps are exposed, they look brutal. Mathias Jensen has been playing really well in recent weeks but yesterday was not it. Anything but. Sergio Canos the same. Again, let’s be clear that this isn’t his position. Marcus Forss scoring at Loftus Road for Hull City a question that does make the decision to loan him out, with Ivan now awol, seem an even more perplexing one.

All of which leads back to the simple fact that this is us now playing those percentages. Looking to stay calm and pick off the wins in the games played outside of those top six clubs. Of having those opening twenty minute bursts at home as we did against the two Manchester clubs. Of locking it up at the back as we did for so long at Manchester City, Liverpool and then yesterday until the dam eventually broke. Of not buying recognised right wing back cover given we may also need to spend on the other flank. Rico Henry’s contract won’t sign itself and until that situation is resolved I can imagine trying to rebalance the squad is something that remains in a holding pattern.

Yesterday was too cautious, though. Arsenal were rattled when we pushed. Had we done it sooner then who knows? But we didn’t. You can’t deny the league position and the spending power of our hosts. Cripes, if I had their resources a I’d be sharing the views of the aforementioned fan. Not just about Brentford but Burnley, Wolves and those other teams they’ve struggled against in recent week. Maybe its the optimist in me but I really thought that yesterday we’d do more. Could have and would have. Instead, nil points was the return.

Let’s not forget, also, that we’re 14th, everyone. Not 18th. Not 19th. Not 20th. That games in hand actually need to be won. That form then needs to be maintained. Just saying. Don’t shoot the messenger. That table doesn’t lie.

We’ll share the Brentford player and performance review shortly. Here and on its own page. For now, its more a case of at least knowing our players stayed classy. Our next game is at home. That Josh Dasilva is starting games again. That Christian Eriksen will surely make it off the bench against Newcastle United.

That moment is going to be immense and I can’t wait. See you there….

Come on H. Arsenal weren’t that boring. A long day takes it’s toll

Nick Bruzon

New video footage shines different light on worst dive ever.

4 Jan

There’s no Premier League action for Brentford until next and the trips to Southampton / Liverpool. We’ve got the FA Cup this weekend but before then we’ve got the last knockings from the Aston Villa game at the weekend. Of course, that ended with both a 2-1 win for the Bees and a last second piece of hammy theatrics from Trézéguet so blatant, so sub-Rivaldo and just so ludicrous as to earn mockery from all over the internet and beyond. Even Match Of The Day 2 laying in to the most cringe inducing dive since Greg Louganis at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. It was a dive which produced an unexpected delivery to the Last Word inbox. Namely, new video footage of the incident that you’ll absolutely want to see.

How it appeared at first

First up, we’ve got the player ratings for Brentford. The ongoing quest to see who will end the season as our outstanding performer aswell as looking at the top five individual ratings on a game by game basis. The Aston Villa results can be found here. If nothing else, we’ve been given a clue as to how the team for Southampton may well look.

Then, just when the weekend looked like if had drawn to a close we had more. Specifically, more Trézéguet. And no, this wasn’t the picture of him spark out on a plane, accompanying Liverpool legend Mo Salah to the African Cup of Nations.

Instead, a mystery benefactor sent through additional footage of the Trézéguet incident. Whilst most fans are hoping for some retrospective punishment, has the Aston Villa man been wronged?

Was there outside influence from the much touted ‘sniper in the crowd’ theory?

Or was it just a shit dive?

We’ll never know because the Premier League have since had it taken down after close on 50,000 views. Their call. Instead, we’ve gone for a different take – namely, an artist’s impression of events.

Over to you….

Nick Bruzon

Who were the top five performers? Who tops the season long chart?

3 Jan

Brentford 2 Aston Villa 1. A win for the Bees in a game where we never said die and never gave up, despite the somewhat slow start to the game. In the end, justice was done. As much for the non-award of a penalty following the callous taking out of Trézéguet by a sniper in the crowd with just seconds left on the clock. Even Match Of The Day paying him out for that one. Instead, with the games at Southampton and Liverpool next up in the league for Brentford its time to look at those players who left this game with their heads held high. Those who might have played themselves into contention for those next couple of road trips.

In addition, who is holding pace in the hunt for our season long top five? Who has broken in to that top group where there has been a change at the business end? The answers are here. Enjoy. And see you at Southampton…

Nick Bruzon

Can we pick up the baton and run after last time?

2 Jan

Here we go again. The first fixture of 2022 is upon us with Brentford hosting Aston Villa at Lionel Road on (checks calendar) Sunday afternoon. 2pm is the kick off time for a game going out live on Sky Sports Premier League. For the Bees, yesterday’s positive news (predominantly around Kris Ajer and Vitaly Janelt) was given a further boost by the man very much one of our top( top) performers this season, Christian Nørgaard. There was wonderful news out of ‘official’ surrounding his new deal but the ultimate question to be asked is whether we can harness the positivity from last week’s narrow defeat to Manchester City to get back to winning ways? 

Fantastic news, yesterday

The pundits would seem to be looking towards Aston Villa as the winners of this one. As are the bookies, who have Brentford priced at 2/1 to win. Fair enough. The form under new manager Steven Gerrard being seen as key. Likewise, the covid related break they’ve had. However, with captain Tyrone Mings absent as a result of a fifth yellow card could we have an added glimmer of hope? Might Ollie Watkins have an off day? What of, with apologies for going all FLW / Chronicle, much touted ‘starlet’ Jacob Ramsey? Indeed, at what point does the cut off between starlet and fully fledged stellar  / ‘out of this world’ performer occur? 

Frankly, who cares. This is all about us. This is all about how Brentford pick up the baton from our performance against Manchester City and run with it. I can only imagine we’ll have Christian Nørgaard back in the team, despite the heroics of those selected last time out. It’ll be harsh but why leave your best players on the bench if they are available? 

If nothing else, the announcement made yesterday regarding his contract extension will only serve to put an additional spring in the step of both the midfielder and the fans. It was confirmed yesterday that he has extended his time at Lionel Road until the end of the 2024/25 season, with the three and a half year deal having the option for a further year’s extension. Only somebody who had been living under a/the rock would fail to appreciate the significance of this. It’s just huge for Brentford.

Thomas Frank was effusive in his praise, telling ‘official’ that, “Christian shows great leadership qualities in training every day and he helps build our culture. That is very important to us. He has an unbelievably important role in this team, and it is great that he will be part of our future.

For me, Clive, it is magnificent news. Christian is going neck and neck with Ivan and Rico in the race to find our top performer over the season (you can read the latest instalment of that one – the post Manchester City piece – here). Anything that ties him to our future and our club can only be a good thing. Happy days indeed.

As for the game, well victory would see us overtake Aston Villa and up as far as  11th placed Crystal Palace. With the groundswell of Covid related cancellations still causing mayhem, getting a proper read on the table is till a bit tricky. Palace have played two more than us, table toppers Manchester City three more whilst Burnley in 18th have gone two less. All we can do is focus on the task in hand and remember that s Eason is 46 38 games long. The only position that matters is the one occupied after that final fixture has played out. Albeit, let’s not pretend that topping the Premier League after beating Arsenal wasn’t the most amazing / hilarious thing going. Sergi Canos and, of course, Christian helping make that possible.

For what its worth, I’m going for a Brentford win today. With goals in it. 3-2 for the record. Confidence in our boys combined with the attempt at jinxing Ollie through the medium of Fantasy Football (see yesterday) will hopefully suffice. Not to mention the small matter of Thomas’ tactics and a strange omen (which I’ll elaborate on tomorrow should it somehow come off). A wonderful opportunity awaits this afternoon and I cannot wait to see how it plays out. Even just the slightly novel concept of getting back in to regular football is a nice one. Long may that continue.

On a side note, don’t forget to pick up the matchday programme. I would’t normally plug this (as much due to my own four pages of nonsense – albeit hoping the Villa kit pics have come out well). However, the prospect of Greville Waterman effusing over Ollie Watkins and a catch up with Kevin O’Connor are never to be missed. Hey, if nothing else there’s that wonderful cover art from the amazing Dave Flanagan. Somebody I am led to believe is a goat. Whatever that means. Keep those cultural references coming.

That’s it. See you there. Here’s to 2pm……

Nick Bruzon

New year, same Brentford. 2022 starts in style…

1 Jan

Well that’s been a busy start to 2022. Jools Holland hadn’t even started his Hootenanny and the signing pen had already been in action with incoming confirmed from Midtjylland confirmed. New year. Same Brentford. Hot off the heels of the Manchester City game we’ve a visit from Aston Villa. From Ezri Konsa. From Ollie Watkins. Subject to any 11th hour test results coming through, Sunday afternoon sees us host Stevie G ™ et al in a 2pm TV game. There’s ‘that’ video and even some fantastic news on the New Year Honours list.

First up, the obvious stuff. We have a new goalkeeper. With David Raya still suffering that long term injury, 32 year old Jonas Lössl has joined Brentford on loan from Midtjylland, with the option to make it a permanent deal further down the track. Providing some competitor between the sticks is an obvious move. Alvaro Fernandez has stepped in but with the recent scare that would have seen 18 yo Matthew Cox make a debut against Manchester United, had they not called Covid at the last moment, shows how exposed we may have been. With Thomas Frank also confirming the Spaniard had missed training recently, moving fast to give options makes 100% sense. I can only see Alvaro starting against Aston Villa on Sunday – frankly, it’ll be harsh on anyone to lose their place after running Manchester City so close – but after that who knows? Jonas has top flight experience with Huddersfield Town and has also been on Everton’s books, so it wouldn’t be a trip into the total unknown. Good luck Jonas and welcome.

Welcome Jonas. No messing around

The other person in evidence onto training ground was Josh Dasilva. This is about as huge as it comes. Our England U-21 has missed the entire season after playing such a pivotal part in Brentford reaching the Premier League. Whilst there’s no news as to when he might be back out in front of us, just to see him out and about. To see him running around. To see him chasing the ball . Well, its nothing but magnificent.

There aren’t the words to describe how much we’ve missed Josh. The imagination has been running riot at the thought of how much better we may have performed than we already have, had he been available. Whilst one man doesn’t make a team, there are those whom you know would have been nailed on starters had fitness allowed. Josh is at the top of that list for sure. Here’s hoping we see him soon.

He’s on the mend….!!!!!!!

The one player more likely to be back in action soon is Kris Ajer. Thomas Frank used the Villa press conference to confirm that the ball carrying centre back ”Hopefully can make the bench”….whilst on the other absences, “Rico Henry will be out, Bryan Mbeumo is touch and go, and Christian Norgaard is back from suspension. Vitaly Janelt could be on the borderline to be involved.

Again, this is fantastic news. Kris has made an immediate impression at Brentford. Not just in defence but in his ability to take the game to our opponents. Having him available alongside Ethan and Pontus is easily our top combination and comes just in time for the trips to Southampton and then Liverpool. Whether he will be able to break in to the stating XI by then remains to be seen but, personally speaking, if he’s fit and able then he starts. If we take Thomas at face value then presumably expect to see those legs being stretched on Sunday. With Vitaly also close, it could suddenly be a very impressive looking array of substitutes available.

In the shorter term. Dominic Thompson will be given anther chance to impress. The contrast between Brighton away and Manchester City home was about as vast as they come. Although, to be fair, you could say that about the entire team. However, for Dominic in particular the confidence and calmness with which he played against City was just stratospheric. Follow that up again and we could finally have the much needed competition / cover for Rico that was so sorely missed last campaign. Like Charlie Goode, Dominic is another of those slow burners to bide their time and look to take the chance when it has been presented. That Manchester City review is here. And the Brighton one here (for the masochistic amongst us).  

For the rest of the Aston Villa stuff, it’ll all be about Ollie Watkins. Cripes, we know what he did at Griffin Park. We know how close the team came to taking us up. His goals were legendary. His character about as engaging as it comes. Expect warm welcomes and fond returns all round on Sunday. Before and after the game, that is. During it, there’s no doubt everyone will have a point to prove about where Brentford have come since Ollie stepped up that level. Keep it classy. Keep it loud. All being well, we’ll keep him quiet. 

But just to be sure, I have picked both Ollie and Ezri Konsa for my Fantasy Football Team. The closest guarantee of nil points since the UK’s last entry to Eurovision. Honestly, I’m just horrific at player selection so have started the new year with a clean slate in the desperate attempt to overtake my eight year old son. However, on the assumption that normal service is resumed then lump the mortgage on a home win and everyone thank me afterwards.

Hopefully that should work

The other news to accompany Jools tinkling on his ivories was twofold. Firstly, ‘that’ video put out by official yesterday, looking back at the year gone by. It would be easy to forget just how much we’ve accomplished and whilst I won’t overly dwell on it here (did somebody say Aston Villa programme notes?) Let’s just say it got very dusty in here during the Bournemouth semi and when Ethan scored against Liverpool. Enjoy

And then we were given the chance to offer huge congratulations to Natalie O’Rourke who was awarded the MBE. To most of us, she’s Woody’s mum. To our family, somebody who sits a few rows in front and is always up for a chat about anything and everything Brentford. Yet her ongoing dedication to saving the beloved Park Lane Stables riding for the disabled centre has seen this so very well deserved accolade awarded. Huge, huge congratulations Natalie. What a way to start the year 🙂

Like the 2021 highlights video, this was another story that has seen massive smiles on faces after some truly good news. Given how awful the year was at times, great to see so many nice things coming out of it at the end.

And you can read all about that, in full, here.

Until then, simply a case of hoping the hangovers aren’t kicking in too much. Being glad we have another 365 days until Jools or Olly Alexander trouble us again. Most importantly, wishing everyone the best for 2022.

Starting against Aston Villa on Sunday. See you there!! 

Nick Bruzon

Will a miracle be needed to take anything from Jesus and co?

28 Dec

Well, this is about as big as it gets. Brentford go into Wednesday’s game at home to Manchester City, with a well-documented injury crisis and morale potentially down after a first half no-show at Brighton on Boxing Day. Very much a case of turkeys handing our presents and getting stuffed – at least in the first half. That was then. It’s been and gone. You can get the leftovers (or, rather, the player review – granted the festive analogy is starting to get stretched now) here if you want. Instead, all we can do is look forward to another clash with a team at the business end of the Premier league. Having already hosted the rest of the top four and won (Arsenal), drawn (Liverpool), narrowly lost (Chelsea) are there grounds for optimism? Could this one see the mother of all upsets? The paper thin squad taking on the League Champions and current table toppers.

The season has seen some amazing moments so far….

If Brentford are to get anything out of this game its going to be an upset to rank alongside the time we beat, errrr, Manchester City in the FA Cup. And that one’s going back to January 1989. The gulf in class is beyond the stuff of Fantasy football dreams. Rock solid at the back, indefatigable in the middle and a likely front three of Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Jesus. That’s before you factor in a bench likely to include the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez. Assuming they don’t add to the challenge by starting.

Contrast that with our missing list: David Raya, Christian Norgaard, Kris Ajer, Josh Da Silva, Rico Henry, Bryan Mbeumo and Vitaly Janelt being the 7(seven) names you’d guarantee to start should they be available. Instead, they join a list of further absentees, untested players and those on the way back from Covid to add to Thomas Frank’s selection headache. Does he stick with the wing backs or rejig the formation? Does he have enough players left to even consider a change in set up? Who partners Ivan Toney up top? And can anyone even get the ball in the general vicinity of our joint top scorer?

That’s the bad news. The obvious stuff. We’re going to take a kicking if you believe what you read. A 7(seven) goal bracketing is on the cards should Manchester City fulfill their potential. December has already seen them administer one to Leeds United whilst they fell a single goal short of the magical mark against Leicester City on Boxing Day. 

The one thing that all the stats and data in the world can’t buy is a sense of occasion. A sense of purpose. That game-changing X-Factor which only Lionel Road can bring. Whether the Thomas Frank inspired play-off semi-final atmosphere which saw 4,000 sound like ten times that against Bournemouth or those more recent big game events. Cometh the hour, cometh the Brentford fans.

Arsenal – obliterated on the opening night of the season. Chelsea – kept alive by a miracle man in nets. Liverpool – held 3-3 with Ivan denied a late winner by the lino’s flag. The roof ripped off in that one. Metaphorically speaking. Lionel Road at its very best is next level. The atmosphere indescribable. All the superlatives and written word no replacement for being there. For feeling that noise pulsating through you. For being unable to hear the person a few seats down such is the sound ringing around.  And yes, whilst our more illustrious opponents may be used to big games, as we’ve already seen its amazing what a great leveller chucking them into the mix of a full house and a crowd that are on top of the pitch can do.

Will the crowd be enough to drag Thomas Frank’s patched up team over the line? To inspire them to even greater heights than those already ascended this campaign? Let’s not forget that despite the blips of Burnley and Spurs away or the Brighton first half, we’ve taken several big scalps, topped the table and are currently sitting in 13th. Had Covid not put a boot into our momentum that would arguably be even higher

Might Manchester City have an off-day? Are we looking at a proverbial hare and the tortoise? A game that is, on paper, so far out of sight that the favourites take their foot off the gas. Can we bring Gary Blissett out of retirement?

Questions, questions, questions. It’s going to be a night where we’ve nothing to lose and everything the game. Everybody already has us beaten. This is a game in a pressure and consequence free environment. A game that will be played out in a cauldron of noise where the one other trump card up our sleeve is that this is all new for Manchester City.

Will it be enough? I can’t wait to find out. Bring it on and see you there.

Will there be a late call up for Bliss?

Nick Bruzon

Was the boss really watching the same game as us? Did anyone impress?

4 Dec

Brentford head up to Leeds United on Sunday off the back of that 2-0 defeat at Tottenham. Spurs deserving of the win in a game where the Bees seemed very much on the back foot. Thomas Frank would use his press conference prior to that Leeds game to say, “I loved our approach; we were front-footed, we were aggressive, we were pressing forward and pressing high throughout the game. I love that we were brave and wanted to be on the ball.”

A first appearance since Covid tests for Jensen

Ok. That’s his view and respect for the opinion but we called it differently. Very differently. Did anyone display this high press at Tottenham? Who was brave? Who wanted to be on the ball more than Spurs and, as importantly, how? Well, the latest player analysis from that one is now online and can be found here.The good news being that there are positives to be found with some key players finding form and some new names troubling the charts to discover who will be the main men for Brentford over the course of 2021/21.

Enjoy. And see you at Leeds United.

Nick Bruzon

I’m a defender….. get me out of here!!!

21 Nov

Newcastle United 3. Brentford 3. Or as I saw one correspondent put it late last night: Community Asset Stolen by Evil Despotic Sportswashing Murderous Regime FC 3 – 3 Bus Stop in Hounslow . Whatever the wrongs or potential rights of Newcastle’s new ownership, Eddie Howe saw his tenure start off at 100 mph. Albeit that with the medicating Magpies’ manager confined to a hotel room after testing positive for Covid, the club chose to replace him at the game with the spirit of Kevin Keegan. They’d have had as much joy picking Ant or Dec. Mind you, Thomas Frank opted for a similar approach. All out attack, combined with an ongoing injury crisis at the back, led to a change in formation and a game of goals, goals, goals. It finished 3-3 but such were the glut of chances it could have gone any way. In the end, a point can only be seen as positive thing, despite Brentford leading twice. Huge sighs of relief after Joelinton stumbled at the crucial moment late on rather than giving Eddie Howe the perfect get well soon gift.

It was certainly a trial of sorts for the spectators. Ouch, my heart

It was as exciting going forward as it was shambolic at the back. For all those bemoaning the absence of David Raya in nets for Brentford, Karl Darlow was the sloppier of the two ‘keepers on display. Ivan Toney’s equaliser for 1-1 on 11 minutes a great finish to a great move but one that, ultimately, went straight through the Newcastle goalie. Less shot-stopper and more shot-letter-inner. Hey, you can only take the chances that present themselves and Ivan did that with aplomb. 

It was no less than we deserved after falling behind just 75 second earlier. A cross evading Pontus and Jamaal Lascelles outmuscling Vitaly to head home unchallenged. It was as easy as they come. Fernández little hope and the dream start for the home supporters. Thank goodness for Ivan, who then did his thing after being released by Sergi. Indeed, it could have been two even sooner than it eventually was . Bryan finding himself in similar territory to that occupied by our goalscorer beat Darlow, only for the ball to bobble back off the post. There was Ivan to bundle it home home but, alas, he was fractionally offside. The flag was immediate with VAR and subsequent viewings showing there to be half a boot in it. As with his ‘goal’ against Liverpool it felt good but one where the cameras have again come to the opposition’s defence.

Soon after, we were ahead. This time, Rico Henry ghosting in unmarked at the backstick. His second in as many goals. Sergi once more the provider. Trapping it in a style it much akin to way he did against Reading when scoring ‘that’ goal, this time the second touch was followed by a left footed inswinger that took out the entire Newcastle back 2/3/4 (?). There was the marauding left-back to power home with his head and give Brentford the lead. Up in the gods, the Bees’ fans erupted. Surely there was only one way forward from here? Surely?

Alas not. Once again the game swung. With half time beckoning, Roerslev’s attempted clearance only spun as far as Joelinton who swept home first time to the bottom corner, past the despairing stretch of Ethan Pinnock,  leaving Fernández minimal chance. 2-2 and it could have been worse. Fernández and Pontus then getting in each other’s way defending a free kick. The ‘keeper spilling it under pressure but there was Ivan on the line to get it clear.  The striker helping  keep them out as well as bang them in.

The second half saw the introduction of Onyeka bang on the start of the 60-70 substitution window so favoured in days gone by. Hey, Newcastle aren’t the only ones who can channel a former manager. It worked, too. Within seconds of coming on, there was Frank the Tank with a shot -cum-cross turned past the hapless Darlow by Lascelles. It goes down as an o.g. because it was . Pure and simple. The midfielder’s ball into the box hinting at a trajectory towards the back post but the Newcastle captain made sure it wasn’t in doubt. 

The lead restored. The heart unable to take it. And moreso as it lasted less than a quarter hour. Pontus and Roerslev unable to deal with a deep cross and, again, a goal. 3-3. The uber impressive Allan Saint-Maximin nodding home for 3-3. Once again, Fernández left minimal chance to keep it out. 

Indeed, there could, probably should, have been a fourth. Maximin going on a run reminiscent of Daniel James for Swansea in the FA Cup. Eventually he freed up Joelinton who, with the goal beckoning, not for the first time this afternoon fell over at the crucial moment. Rather than unleashing waves of misery on the Bees faithful, the ball was cleared. Another point added to our total and the run of LLLL coming to an end.  

For Thomas Frank, the outcome was clear. Speaking afterwards, his belief was unshakeable. “Slightly biased, I think we had the bigger chance to win it.. but I am aware they had the big transition at the end of the game which could have killed it off for them. I think we were the team that maybe should have taken three points.

For me, Clive, take the point and run. I’ve watched it back this morning and it really could have gone either way. A game which both teams clearly viewed as an ideal opportunity to pick up the win saw caution thrown to the wind and defence something that was as much a concept as anything of genuine practicality. For the Bees, injuries meant our hand was forced and with the best way to keep the ball out being by sticking it in at the other end, no complaints. Newcastle is as raucous a place to go and moreso yesterday. Eddie Howe missed his own coronation. Ivan Toney showing his former club what they missed out on.

Next up, Everton. At Lionel Road. Thomas needing to choose whether to stick or twist with his formation. And perhaps some sleep for yours truly. More to follow on that later….. The formation rather than the late night

The calm before the storm – a few familiar faces as part of a sell out away contingent

Nick Bruzon