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Could this be the shock of the weekend? Or is it now expected?

14 Oct

We’re back. Brentford host league leaders Chelsea this weekend with another international break done and the chance to see if we can build on the quite wonderful performances at home to Liverpool and then, last time out, away at West Ham. Final thoughts on those are in the forthcoming edition of the matchday programme (along with other nonsense, subject to editorial discretion, including one covid related tale of woe). Alternatively, the previous columns from these pages are here (Liverpool) or here (West Ham) for those wanting one more look back at what happened as the games unfolded and the aftermath was very much enjoyed. It all seems a lifetime ago already. There’s been a trip to Gibraltar for the World Cup qualifier with Montenegro in between and now, of course, we have the prospect of a visit from the European Champions.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

“We’re coming for you. We’re coming for you. Champions of Europe. We’re coming for you.” Thus went ‘that’ song. Ad-nauseam it felt at the time, as the Bees prepared for a 2013 FA Cup tie against the Stamford Bridge outfit. A strong opposition were held 2-2 at Griffin Park, with a late equaliser from Fernando Torres sparing Chelsea from copious amounts of egg on face.

For me, Clive, of course it was an exciting build but oh that song went on. And on. Much like Oldham’s. Focus on f’ing promotion rather than singing to opposition that weren’t even there, listening or gave a monkey about what was happening in League One.

Chelsea were almost given the elbow at Griffin Park in 2013

That was then. This is now. Better form in the FA cup, several seasons in the Championship and our own reaching the Premier League mean that as it stands games like this are the norm rather than ad-hoc flashes in the pan demanding their own song. A blistering start to top flight life means we’re currently sitting 7th (seventh) in the table. A win would put Brentford just one point behind the leaders and whilst, in theory, that sounds about as far fetched an aspiration as they come, the season has already been packed with more drama and wonderful performances than an episode of Dream Team. Get warmed up, lads.

Much missed. Especially former Bee Andy Ansah

Arsenal. Beaten. Liverpool. Held in that epic 3-3. West Ham. Crying. Wolves. Humped. Raya. Gloves needed changing. Only one defeat and that in the final minute of Brighton’s gamesmanship masterclass. The new signings bedding straight in, Kris Ajer especially, whilst Yoanne Wissa is already well en-route to becoming a cult hero. Come for the late goals. Stay for the celebration.

It has been quite the incredible start to a season that has seen this little bus stop in Hounslow punching above the weight and expectation levels of just about everybody outside TW8. Those inside the circle knowing what we can do and what to expect, even if at times it does seem against the realms of probability. That Liverpool game being the quintessential example of our never say die attitude and desire to attack until the death. The one time we’ve played super cagey, the last quarter of Brighton’s visit, our undoing had an almost Bees like inevitability about it. It’s Brentford, innit.

Wiiissssaaaaaaa. As calm as Peter Gilham isn’t

That’s not to say we’ll turn up and beat Chelsea. Cripes, if the fixtures so far have been tough then this is next level. A quick check on my Fantasy Football squad this morning is a bleak reminder of the strength they have in depth, let alone the starting XI. Whichever one they opt to go with.

For Brentford, subject to injury –  Shandon Baptiste’s shoulder being the primary concern – its a safe bet who will start this one. As ever. Thomas Frank has enjoyed the luxury of his preferred starting XI playing to such a level that the only real selection decision has been who to bring on and when. Thomas Tuchel could probably chuck the car keys in a bowl and still come up with a team that the bookies would fancy to romp home. 

Indeed, the Bees are this morning priced at 26/5 to take all three points. As ever, nobody gives us a real chance. No surprise. Our opponents are as strong as they come. Their record and consistency over the last twenty years speaks for itself. If we’ve hit the ground running then they’re next level. Romelu Lukaku looks like he’s never been away whilst only Manchester City have taken a win off them. So far. 

Which is what makes football just the exciting thing it is. Nobody gave us a hope against Liverpool. There was similar from the other 6 games. We know what we’ve done and what we can achieve when all guns are firing. The funnest season ever is now cranking up even more, reaching previously unimaginable levels. That final moment at West Ham was about as good as things got. Now to see if we can pick up where we left off.

Of course it’s going to be tough. Some might say nigh on impossible. But if that’s the approach then why bother turning up? Genuinely, I’m convinced we will do this. As we’ve been saying all season, forget the calibre and reputation of the opposition. Play the moment. Play the game. Play as we’ve played so far. Of course we HAVE to be aware of who we are up against but there’s a distinct difference between being respectful and being in awe. 

I can’t wait for this one. Quelle surprise. Even that game at the Victoria Stadium to see Gibraltar go down 3-0 to Montenegro now feels second fiddle. Fun though it was. The home side weren’t given a prayer in that one, either, but I’ve got a rock solid belief we’re going to pull a few more pants down on Saturday evening.

If nothing else, this is a West London derby. THE West London derby. Move over Fulham. See you later Loftus Road. Brentford and Chelsea are currently the two best placed clubs, not only in this quarter but the entire capital. Bring it on and see you there.

International football provided relief in the absence of Premier League action

Nick Bruzon

West Ham undone by El Scorcho from Wissa.

4 Oct

Just magnificent. An epic finish of biblical proportions. Brentford head into international break with another win under the belt. Just when you thought it wasn’t possible to even come close to Liverpool last week, we went and did this. The latest moment of joy, a 2-1 defeat of West Ham at the Olympic Stadium that was as deserved as it was late. Surviving wave after wave of second half pressure, it was that man Wissa who popped up to fire home the winner in front of the Bees faithful with virtually the last kick of the game. The visiting fans went absolutely nuts. The home support in meltdown. Oh for a Rio Ferdninad or John Colby to have got in the way for them. Instead it was another three points earned, up to 7th (seventh) and now two weeks before we welcome Chelsea to Lionel Road.

Yesssss. Wiiiiissssaaaaaaaa!!!!

What a win. What a start. With Ajer missing and Janelt replaced during the warm up, Thomas Frank saw his plans further hampered by a shoulder injury to Shandon Baptiste. Yet this season is as much about strength in depth and the Bees played like a side posessed. Solid at the back but starting on the front front. Mbeumo hitting the top of the bar with minutes before scoring not long after. A fine break from Canos saw his shot only parried and there was Bryan to steer it over the line. ‘Keeper Fabianski shovelling it clear but the goal had already been chalked up, with VAR going through a momentary act of agreement.  

Twenty minutes gone and a goal up. An effort that was reflective of our dominance. A game that was threatening to be much akin to our solitary defeat, that by Brighton, where we had all pressure and no end product. This was different. Roared on by a packed and passionate away contingent, the Bees had gone for it from the off. Pushing men forward and breaking with pace. Rock solid at the back. It might have been double. The home side might have had some cheer but a header from Zouma was about as good as it got. 1-0 Brentford at half time and, despite the enforced substitutions, looking great value for the lead.

VAR confirms what the ref had already seen

And then the second half started. David Moyes can only have delivered the mother of all rollickings whilst the orange segments were being served up because his team re-emerged with with purpose by the bucketload. The manager losing his shit on the touchlines (more than once – here’s the ball…) and his team actually breaking with intent. Yet, somehow, the Bees held firm. Blocks, deflecting, fine saves. It was heart in mouth time as West Ham pushed and probed. 100 yards from the action the supporters giving it their all. Willing the Bees on to hold firm and we almost did. Almost. The clock running down with snail paced movement until, with 80 minutes gone, there was Bowen to fire home the equaliser through a crowd of defenders and inside the near post. It looked side netting from where we stood, binoculars primed by those in the upper tier, but alas it was in. Urghh. Look at what we could have won.

West Ham fans exploding with delight. Bubble machines making a half-arsed attempt to parp out their wares in cringe inducing celebration. Who needs gimics? Whatever. 1-1 and the Hammers continuing to push. Brentford, somehow, hanging in there. Three minutes of time added on and then, deep into this additional period a free kick awarded. Into the box we went. All of us barring goalkeeper Raya. Pontus with the sweetest of connections but once again Fabianski was there to get it clear. Not clear enough. It fell to the edge of the box where the unmarked Wissa kept his cool and despite a man bearing down on him, slammed a scorcher straight back from where it came with interest. Boom. Fabianksi no chance. The net billowing. Limbs. Scenes. Celebrations. Call it what you want, the first team piling on to each other. Even Raya running up to join in. The supporters united in ecstasy. Not knowing whether to celebrate with the team or the home fans stood just to our left who had been giving it large all game. Pantomime villains for 90 minutes and resorting the the role of petulant schoolboys.

Oh football. This is why we love it so much. There was barely time for the restart before the ref called it game over. An incredible ending to a wonderful game. Wissa immense. The balls on that man to connect so well but really it was more than him. It was all round effort. Another top, top team performance. If Liverpool had been amazing, this was up there for different reasons. There’s nothing finer than a last gasp winner and it was one that came in what was an archetypal game of two halves. It’s West Ham, innit? You almost had to feel for the home support. Almost.    

Brentford now three points off second placed Liverpool and a further off the top of the table. Our opening salvo of 12 from 7(seven) games perhaps beyond even the wildest dreams. Nobody gave us a prayer yet here we are again. West Ham the latest to be hit by the runaway bus. A huge arena silenced. The list of achievements that bedecked the middle tier to our left – 1964 FA Cup Winners… 1965 European Cup Winner’s Cup… 1966 World Cup winners – nothing but a reel of the past. A team with an impressive list of former glories but unable to match the moment when it came. Wissa rounding off an afternoon that will live long in the memory.   

West Ham. Winners ( in one respect)

Now , time to catch the breath. A few weeks off. Hopefully the injuries won’t be a severe as first feared although Baptiste’s shoulder, since confirmed as dislocated, isn’t the sort of thing you can just run off in five minutes. One can only imagine it’s going to be a prolonged period of time spent with our old friend, the anti-gravity treadmill.

Until then, time to reflect on about as exciting start to Premier League life as it is possible to have hoped for. It’s been nothing but fun and yesterday, following on from Liverpool the game before, had it all. Top flight football. Opponents steeped in history. Rival fans giving it their all. The bus stop in Hounslow doing it for fun. West Ham pointless. Brentford leapfrogging them in the table and another win under the belt.

Fair to say that top flight life is good. Long may it continue like this. Brentford proving that reputations count for nothing. Ours included. We ARE tinpot. We ARE a bus stop. We ARE put together through shrewd acquisition and team spirit rather than big money buys. And? We know it. We don’t, actually, care. The sooner other teams get used to it and play the 11 in front of them rather than the preconception then the easier they may find it. Until then, keep writing us off all day long.

That was a lot of fun. A lot..

Nick Bruzon

We’re going to need a Biggar boat.

1 Oct

Next stop on the Premier League express, the Olympic Stadium. Brentford travel to West Ham United this Sunday afternoon for a 2pm kick off against a team we’ve not played competitively since 1993. Compared to some of those we’ve already taken points from this season (Arsenal and Liverpool, where league fixtures were nothing more than a relic of the 1940s, we’re looking at you) that’s fairly recent. Relatively speaking. Back then in our solitary second tier season under Phil Holder, 0-0 at Griffin Park was followed up a 4-0 drubbing / kicking in East London that saw the slide back to (now) League One continue its inexorable momentum. Mind you, the game before and Ray Biggar doing his thing in the 1-1 draw with Notts County – a ball breaking amount of mystery time ‘added on’ until the Magpies levelled it up on about +8 that anyone there will never, ever forget – was enough to destroy whatever fragile confidence we had left. 

Upton Park / The Boleyn Ground. Whatever. It all ended the same way

That was then. This is now. Just as we have VAR to help the ref and time boards raised by the fourth official in order to let us know exactly how long there is to squirm through, we’ve also got a squad that’s ten times better than any we’ve had before. And that includes teams that have been in play offs. Brentford are on fire and playing for fun. The only points dropped being the 90th minute smash and grab at home to Brighton. Unbeaten on the road and still smiling off the back of our most recent performance, the 3-3 with Liverpool last Saturday evening. A game of gargantuan proportions that saw the mother of all footballing battles. Ivan Toney denied an 87th minute winner by the Lino’s flag which, whilst the correct decision, for a moment sent Bees’ fans into even greater states of delirium than those giddy highs already reached.

It was about as far away a moment as just about anything we’ve ever experienced. Playing a Premier League game against a full strength Liverpool side. The league leaders going behind c/o Ethan Pinnock and then twice being pulled back when it looked like they should accelerate out of sight. Brentford brilliant. Everyone playing at 110%. No let up. And that was just the crowd. The atmosphere immense with on pitch commitment to match. The Anfield outfit coming out the other side knowing we aren’t just going to make up the numbers and any walkover they may have expected was as far from the truth as the popularity of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.

What pressure? Calm as you like against Liverpool

Of course, we can’t live completely in the past. Beating Arsenal. Blitzing Wolves at Molineux. Holding Liverpool. All well and good. All brilliant. All amazing. I wouldn’t trade any of it but now it is done. The stuff of memory. Use it to inspire us and learn from but don’t just think that because we’ve done the business so far, everyone else is going to roll over. That we’ll turn up and win. Very much a case of dragging out the cliches and taking each game as it comes. Which takes us full circle to the first line – our trip to West Ham United. The BIAS supporter’s boat is about to set sail once more. This time, for a rematch with Said Benrahma. A game against a team very much doing the business at present. Penalty based substitutions aside. Seriously? That was never going to work.       

Last night’s defeat of Rapid Vienna continuing fine form that domestically sees the Hammers as one of only eight teams better placed than Brentford in the football pyramid. Michail Antonio is grabbing the goals and the headlines. Declan Rice busting guts to do his thing. The team flying. The talismanic Algerian Benrahma finding a regular place, form that we are so familiar with from his time at Brentford and the goals starting to come too. West Ham will be as tough as anyone we’ve played so far. The atmosphere as intense. The teething troubles from the early days in their new home, seemingly consigned to the past. Supporters about as passionate as they come and even a few who have donned that most odious of items, the half and half scarf. Metaphorically and for real. Well, now’s the time to drop (or grow) your balls and pin those colours to the mast.   

Said (in pre-lockdown mode). As popular now as he was then for us

October 2021. Brentford on a Premier League roll. Its a long, long way from the lower leagues. From Leroy Rosenior, Terry Butcher et al. From fans raising funds to keep us afloat. From finally escaping the third tier and celebrating the achievement by replacing our leading scorer with, err, Murray Jones. From Ray Biggar helping send us back from where we had come. After years of hard work, shrewd investment, even shrewder strategy and a lot of patience we are now at the place we’ve aspired to be for so, so long. Inside the tent pissing out rather than the other way round. There’s no way anyone is going to willingly give any of this up. It’s just been too much fun so far. 

Sunday is going to be hard as, no question, but its another step in an incredible journey and I can’t wait. However you travel – tube, train or boat be safe. Certainly avoid the road. Fuel wankers aside, the London marathon means there are closures just about all over town.

See you there.

Biggar – perhaps the programme editor’s typo upset him

Nick Bruzon 

More than just one man. Today is about all of us coming home.

31 Jul

Saturday lunchtime. Excitement is building. For Brentford fans, the first chance to attend a ‘normal’ home game since the 5-0 humping of Sheffield Wednesday back at Griffin Park in March 2020. We’re now in August 2021 and whilst not even feeling as though we are close to being out of the woods, the chance to reconvene en-masse is not one to be spurned. West Ham United the visitors. A pre-season friendly between the two Premier League clubs (not a typo) and an added layer of anticipation given the return of one well loved face in Said Benrahma. There hasn’t been this much anticipation about seeing a West Ham player since the days of John Colby. The England International, of course, one of the most universally loved players on the world stage following the part he played during that infamous ‘friendly’ between the Allies and Germans back in the day.

John Colby – West Ham and England

I’m pumped for this one. The performance at Old Trafford during the week was one to inspire even more optimism than before. Shandon Baptiste’s strike was immense whilst the touch from Bryan Mbeumo to begin the move for his goal was one which, in retrospect, was criminally overlooked on these pages. Yet what brought greater pleasure was the all round solidity, even upon full rotation of the outfield contingent. After weathering the early storm there was no being fazed by what was a first visit to that vast area for just about everyone.

Now we face a West Ham team sure to feature that man Benrahma. So much has happened that it’s almost a case of pinching one’s self to remember he played for us, and also scored against (allegedly) Premier league opposition last season. The League Cup goal agasint Fulham, where Michael Hector was mugged but the most outrageous of back-heeled nutmegs, a quite fitting send off for the Algerian magician. A man who lit up Griffin Park with his ball tied-to-foot-with- a-piece of string levels of skill previously only seen from Jota or Roy of the Rovers (not a real footballer).

Said did it one last time against Fulham(R)

Many thought we’d fail without him. Instead, we rebuilt and despite the odd wobble, achieved the ultimate goal. The Bees were promoted to the Premier League. Now we get the chance to catch up once more. To say goodbye in person. I’m sure there’ll only be a fond welcome during the warm up. But come 3pm, all bets are off. Brentford will be playing to win. No old pals act. no room for sentiment. Perhaps there’ll be ah ug for Peter Gilham.

Yet it’s more than just one man. It’s a chance to see and hear what Lionel Road sounds like when it’s got more than 4,000 present. A chance for many to make their first pilgrimage to our new home. Supporters who have only ever known Griffin Park now get to see if it is all worth it (it is ). To understand why we’ve had to move.

Leaving Griffin Park without saying a proper goodbye was heartbreaking for so many. Even moreso , seeing the images of floodlights coming down, stand being ripped apart and the pitch dug up. Perhaps today will provide some cathartic relief to all that pain. To complete the journey. I’m one of the lucky ones who has already been to Lionel Road. Who has already had the opportunity to see the future. The atmosphere against Bournemouth was immense. This could be ten times better.

Roll on 3pm. And for the first time in a while, we can even say… “See you there”

View from the Braemar – Said celebrates

Nick Bruzon

A chance to remember ‘that’ goal then look forward to an epic build up.

13 Jul

And thus pre-season was complete. At least, in terms of the calendar. Hot on the heels of our trip to Manchester United, Brentford have had the final two games of the build up confirmed. Saturday 31st July sees a visit from West Ham United with Spanish outfit Valencia next up in a 5.30pm kick-off the following Saturday (7 August). Six days later it all starts when Arsenal jump on the Piccadilly line to South Ealing. Full details are on ‘official’, with the Valencia game expected to see a full house and even some away fans present for the visit of West Ham (presumably, actual fans rather than those in the half/half scarves).

Arsenal are a short tube ride away

With all Corona bets off from July 19th – albeit we’ll see how long that lasts – the next natural step is for Brentford to go for broke in terms of capacity. The Valencia game has been declared as the formal opening of our new stadium and I can’t wait. The atmosphere against Blackburn and Bournemouth was nothing short of incredible. When the place is full – and especially when Arsenal visit for a full blooded, full fat encounter – it only promises to be immense. More importantly these are three tests that, at least in terms of opposition, one would hope may provide a bit more a steer as how the Bees will fare in the forthcoming season. Assuming both teams go full tilt rather than use them as an experiment in squad rotation. 

We’ll likely end up somewhere in between but as much as anything else its just an excuse to go to football once more. Why wouldn’t you. Cripes, we’ve missed it. Desperately. Euro 2020 showed that, as if any reminder were actually needed, despite the painful on-pitch denouement to that competition (can’t even begin myself to start about the shameful stuff that happened off it). We’re still wiping up the tears in our house even now. A brutal punch to the stomach of a young boy who has so far experienced a World Cup semi-final and a Wembley win to reach the Premier league. Normally unshakeable faith in his team now tested once more following our assault by Fulham in the previous play-offs. Oh well, like Doncaster Rovers and Yeovil Town you can file them in the ‘where are they now?“ files.

Which pretty much sums up the quite magnificent enigma that is Brentford FC 2021. That we can now mention Yeovil and Doncaster in the same breath as Manchester United, Arsenal and Valencia. Talk about time being a great healer. Talk about looking forward to enjoying every moment of the most monumental season for our club since records began. Sink or swim? Stay or go? Still under the radar and under rated or flying high from the off? Nobody gives us much of a hope, although Ivan Toney’s popularity in the Fantasy football stakes suggests otherwise. Personally speaking, I’m hugely optimistic (quelle surprise) although will perhaps forego the annual bet on Brentford to win the league. Something that, over the years, has seen us just about in net-gain territory. Perhaps it may be more prudent to go ‘each way’ , this season. 

This far in to a small piece on West Ham and no mention of Said Benrahma. Yet. Ah, it’ll be great to see him back and no doubt there’ll be an appearance. A player up there with Jota in the ability stakes and one who has gone on to the next level, despite yet to break into the first team on a regular basis. He was AMAZING at Griffin Park. He had that brief cameo at Lionel Road when scoring ‘that’ goal in the league cup against a hapless Fulham outfit. The turn and beautiful back-heeled nutmeg before rounding Michael Hector to unleash the mother of all shots. No doubt he’ll warm up to a heroes welcome before it all goes ‘panto villain’ once the game starts. 

‘That’ goal against Fulham last season..

What an opportunity for us to lay down a marker as to how far we’ve come. The fears that selling him and Ollie Watkins would see Brentford come to nothing last season, dispelled as quickly as Fulham’s Premier league survival hopes. The faith shown by those that stuck by Thomas and the team rewarded in the most incredible style at Wembley in May. The moment still feels as fresh now as it did then. It was a long time coming and still deserves to be enjoyed to the max. A moment to provide all the inspiration we need going forward.

With the Bees back in training already you can be sure Thomas will have us set to hit the ground running. The Euros have gone. The close-season (closed?) break now feels over. Sure, we‘ve a month to wait until the Premier League kicks off properly but now it feels as though the clock really is ticking. As though we are racing full tilt towards destiny. Now, the only things in the way of that season opens with Arsenal are Manchester United. Are West Ham. Are Valencia. 

My word, this is going to be fun…..

And as our regular final thought, the entire Last Word from 2019/20 aswell as all the programme articles (previously unpublished on line) and our season-finale guest columns from Natalie Sawyer and Kitman Bob remain available for download. The later in particular, my favourite column of the season as the inside story of the big build up to Wembley was revealed.

With all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund for CRY, we couldn’t be looking to try and help a better or more personal cause to Brentford FC. If anybody can spare a few quid to help and wants to get hold of an amazing story, told averagely, then they can do so here. THANK YOU

Until then, why not enjoy that Benrahma goal one more time…..

Nick Bruzon

Who is The Masked Signer?

2 Feb

Take it off. Take it o… No, enough of that. At the start of a massive week for Brentford, the transfer window creaked shut with the loan signing of Winston Reid from West Ham, resplendent in face mask although disappointingly unchewed biro,  whilst there was a favour at Watford from the Loftus Road mob. We’ve got our own game at home to Bristol City on Wednesday (the game in hand on Swansea City) whilst Norwich City visit Millwall tonight and then play the, hopefully third placed, Swans in an epic showdown this Friday.

Winston joins

The signing of an emergency centre back was an obvious one. With Pontus Janson and Charlie Goode both currently out of action, it left us only Mads and Ethan as the regular starters. In Winston Reid we have a player with big league and International experience. A player who began his career at Midtjylland in 2005 (just how far back to Rasmus’ records go?) and has close to 200 games for West Ham. With a huge run of back to back weekend/midweek games coming up, having some extra experience and competition out there will be vital. His last action has been out on loan at Sporting Kansas City who let him return when that expired. Here’s hoping their loss is our gain.

The rest of the window saw loan deals tied up. Said Benrahma has now officially completed his transfer to West Ham (so we can put ‘loan update’ out of its misery), Patrik Gunnarsson, Jan Žambůrek and Luka Racic have returned to the fold. Samman Ghoddos has completed his transfer in. Those heading out for the short term  are Dominic Thompson, Patrik Gunnarsson, Ellery Balcombe and Halil Dervişoğlu.  And that’s it. Business concluded. The squad strengthened in our usual fashion – as much by returning B team members, that bit more experience under their belts, than anything else. More importantly, nobody out (let’s not forget that Said had already long gone). The squad now locked in and ready for the second part of the season.

I saw a tweet prior to the second half against Wycombe saying, “And some of you don’t think we need to sign anyone….? Deluded as f**k.” . Hmmm. Not sure I quite agree with that and whilst it felt grim after Admiral Muskwe got a second Wycombe equaliser just prior to half-time the second half proved (yet again) that football is a game of 90 minutes. That one early miss from Sergi Canos does not make him the devil incarnate as some would suggest. Wasn’t that a penalty earned and a blockbuster goal for the Spaniard in the second half? 

Sergi got my vote on Saturday ; Josh was first class

Where I would agree we had an obvious gap was in defence. You can only stretch it so far and any further injury would leave us brutally exposed. That gap has now been covered. I can’t see Winston stepping in to the team immediately but at least, now, we have extra options. Mads and Ethan don’t need to be run into the ground.

Elsewhere, Championship action took an unexpected turn last night when Watford missed out on the chance to go second. They went down 2-1 at home to the hoops from Shepherds Bush. Unexpected for sure but it leaves them  a point behind Brentford having played two games more. Should Millwall pull of something similar when Norwich City visit this evening it will leave that gap to the top as six points but with the same two games in hand. Cripes. The Championship just reeks of potential and has never felt more open. Yet whatever favours are delivered and results go our way, doing the business against Bristol City – a game already rearranged twice due to Corona Virus (‘suspected’ and actual) – will be the absolute priority.

That one kicks off at 7.45pm on Wednesday evening at Lionel Road. Here’s hoping Mark Burridge is already limbering up those vocal cords. I’ve got a feeling its going to be epic.

Nick Bruzon

More chance of getting ‘that’ unicorn tattooed on my butt than this happening.

10 Nov

International ‘break’ is on us. Good news. The players and the lazy bloggers amongst us finally get a rest. Assuming they aren’t picked to represent their country (the players). Brentford updates are a little thin on the ground at present and, whilst we normally take this time to catch breath, the latest ‘loan round up’ had news from the West Ham – FulhamL game. And, perhaps, a missed opportunity? On the International front there may also be some unexpected respite for our own tired legs, with Denmark now subject to travel restrictions. 

First, loan round up. Yes, we’re still going through the motions and reporting on Said Benrahma. Come on official, whilst technically he’s on loan we know its over. Let’s stop this charade. There’s more chance of me getting a tattoo of Marinus and the unicorn on my butt than there is of him coming back to Lionel Road at the end of the season. He’s at West Ham now and so good luck to him. And them. Enjoy.

He’s not coming back, sorry

That said, having gone down the road of including Said in the loan piece (which you can read here in full) then it’s only fair that we all reflect on the circumstances of that one. ‘Official’ noting how Benrahma, “Set up Tomáš Souček for The Hammers’ injury-time opener before then giving away a 97th minute penalty for a foul on Tom Cairney; Ademola Lookman chipping the resulting effort straight into the arms of Łukasz Fabiański”.

Chipping the resulting effort? Talk about underselling it. That’s like saying Donald Trump seems mildly perturbed by the U.S. election result. The FulhamL player is widely acknowledged to have taken one of the worst penalties of all time.

I suppose, to be fair, we should be thankful that Brentford haven’t gone down the ‘Obama meme-wars’ route of a few years back with the Craven Cottage club. Instead, diplomacy was the true champion….this time around.

Putting that all to one side doesn’t mean we can’t opine though. Or, more importantly, watch it again. And again. Just because.

Over on Social Media, Lookman spoke up on the matter. He posted a tweet explaining, “After yesterdays mistake, I take full responsibility and onus for it. To my teammates, manager and the supporters I vow to put the next one in. I will not let one failure hold me back. @FulhamFC.

As Adam Devlin, cutting to the chase as ever, noted on Twitter : ”This is a new one — the apology without apologising apology”.

And I can’t top that. So we’ll move on to Denmark. Fast. With the Danes due to play Iceland this week, and the current 14 day quarantine period on individuals returning now in place, the squad has been updated. Neither Henrik Dalsgaard or Mathias Jensen will now feature on Wednesday. Likewise Mads Bech Sørensen for the U-21s. What this means for the rest of their games remains to be seen but you can read the latest, here.

Obviously it’s a huge shame for the players but in the longer term, could Brentford be the beneficiaries? Let’s look at whatever positives can be taken from this situation – not many, granted. Yet with the injuries and the games coming thick and fast, could this be a rare silver lining in the longer term storm that is the never-ending Covid situation? 

I’ll take what I can get. Football sucks as it is at present. Certainly compared to normal. Losing more players to injury or exhaustion would only be another kick in the butt. Tattoo free, of course.

Nick Bruzon

Football fraud or the right result?

8 Nov

WE WON THIS GAME, BY A LOT!… THE FANS WERE NOT ALLOWED INTO THE STADIUM. WE WON THE GAME, GOT 71,000,000 GOALS. BAD THINGS HAPPENED WHICH OUR FANS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SEE. NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. MILLIONS OF THANK YOU LETTERS WERE SENT TO PEOPLE WHO NEVER ASKED FOR THEM! Hmmm. Not even Donald Trump himself would be able to try and convince you that the 0-0 snoozefest between Brentford and Middlesbrough was anything but a gift from the gods for the insomniacs amongst us. Whilst there was some consolation to be taken from the hilarious proceedings at West Ham later in the evening (where FulhamL have done it again) let’s not pretend the game at Lionel Road wasn’t horrific. Football fraud of the highest order.

Official update us as FT. Was this the score or shots on target?

Let’s try to look positive. Brentford didn’t lose. We’re unbeaten in four games now. Mads Bech Sorensen impressed again as did Ethan Pinnock alongside him. The Bees are only five points off second place and we now get a well earned rest. Thank heavens Rico Henry and Ethan Pinnock have avoided international call ups. 

Likewise, Middlesbrough are no mugs. With the Jonathan Woodgate experiment consigned to the annals of history, Neil Warnock is doing what he does. Sucking any glamour out of his football and, instead, replacing it with a steely resolve. An indefatigability from his squad combined with a simple inability to breakdown the most solid of midfields. With Matthias Jenssen shackled all afternoon and Vitaly Janelt sitting in the holding role, we were unable to make any intent as the midfield was swamped in our visitors favour.   

Ironically, despite the presence of the Championship’s leading scorer in Ivan Toney it was Janelt himself who had the one golden chance of the game. With Brentford starting the second half in a more attacking frame of mind, he connected with a low Dalsgaard cross just yards out. Surely this was it? The sort of opportunity even Ian Moose might have claimed he could have tucked away as easily as he would a pie at a half-time buffet. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Instead of guiding it home the shot was slashed at and spooned wide. Urghh. 

It was that close. At least I think that’s what they’re saying

It happens. No slating of the player from me for a solitary near miss. Middlesbrough came to do a job and boy did they do it. They got their point and stay above us. Frankly, we didn’t have the nous or the tactical wherewithal to get past our opponents. Kudos to them for also going unbeaten and their own start to the season. Say what you want about it but they’re a hell of a lot more effective than last time out. The sort of Boro’ side that have long held the jinx factor over us in the Championship. I suppose we should be grateful we didn’t lose! 

Look. It’s one more game. The unbeaten streak is coming together. We’re well, well in contention and have a run of games coming up against lower placed teams. Wycombe, Barnsley, Quarter Pound of Rubbish and then Rotherham United. Those of you getting stressed that we aren’t winning the league with 33 points come back after those. Look at early pace setters Reading whose record now reads LLL. Look at Wayne Rooney’s Derby County – languishing at the very bottom of the Championship after Sheffield Wednesday saw their 12 point deduction reduced to 6.

The Championship is an absolute marathon rather than a sprint. The table may have ‘taken shape’ but it is still tighter than Trump’s claims of voter fraud. I’d love to have a few more wins under the belt but I still think we’re heading in the right direction.

The key decision remains one of replacing Said Benrahma on the opposite flank to Bryan Mbeumo. It is, to date, something we’re yet to do convincingly. Then again, how do you replace the irreplaceable? For all those laying in to the players that Thomas has tried, let’s not forget the boots that need to be filled. That once in a lifetime talent – when he could be bothered, of course. Let’s not pretend either that our own miracle man had a tendency to go awol at times.

It was Boys Own stuff at times

We’ll get there. International break has come at the perfect time to allow for a recharge. Whilst a staunch traditionalist when it comes to footballing matters, even I’d agree that perhaps for this season the extended substitutes bench is really needed once more. There are just too many games and too many injuries. A temporary return from three to five substitutes one which may well benefit everybody in the longer term. Until that happens, expect tired legs to be running around for another 90 minutes as we saw yesterday.

And finally, whilst the Benrahma / West Ham story is now done and dusted one couldn’t help but notice how he and the Hammers got on yesterday. As much due to their opposition – FulhamL.  Sure enough, another game saw another defeat for the Cottagers. That’s now 6 out of 8. The latest coming at the Olympic Stadium last night where the home side took an injury time lead c/o a Benrahma assist. Hmm – let’s see if that one makes official’s ‘Loan round up’ . Yet Scott Parker’s boys had an even later chance to level things up when awarded a spot kick. That is, until this happened. Quite possibly the worst penalty of all time. Enjoy….

Nick Bruzon

No income tax, no VAT. No money back, no guarantee.

17 Oct

The news we all feared was confirmed on Friday. Brentford will go into today’s game with Coventry City knowing we’ll be missing one of our most essential players. One of those automatic choices on the team sheet (think Dougie under Warburton or the unicorn when Marinus was the helm). Christian Norgaard has an ankle injury and will be out for eight weeks. It looked bad when he went off during the Preston anomaly (that being the 2-4 reverse rather than one of Billy Reeves’ favourite bands) and now we know. Elsewhere, West Ham finally got their man. Kind of. Whatever you think about the way they undertook their business, Said Benrahma will now be plying his trade at the Olympic stadium. Assuming, of course, he’s fit enough. You know, having ‘failed’ their medical.

It’s official

First up, Coventry City. Say what you want about Brentford, and many have, but we never fail to surprise even our own fans. That game with Preston was about as awful as it gets. And bizarre. 2-0 up at half time thanks to a brilliant brace from Ivan Toney (Oh, that pass from Sergi…) we fell apart in the second period in a manner that would make even Leeds United blush. My word it was horrific. Awful. A car crash. An insult to the word defending. etc etc etc. 

We all saw it. We all get it. Move on. Frankly, it is an impossibility that we could go awol like that again. Ever. We know what this team and this squad is capable of on their day. And that was anything but it. I’m absolutely expecting a statement of intent today. A demonstration that it was a freak of nature and, unfortunately, Coventry City are the wrong team in the wrong place.  Canos, Mbeumo, Dasilva to go rogue. Fosu to get a run out and do his thing. Raya back in goal. Toney to add to his collection. 

Cripes, we need it. That’s for sure.  We’ve that open question as to who replaces Christian Norgaard and, of course, the frustration over West Ham. No bad vibe towards Said. Quite the opposite. He was magnificent as a Bee and it has been apparent he’s wanted that step up. We all know what he can do. His talents most definitely befitting the top flight – even if it is only for a season. Said lit up Griffin Park and we loved him. Jota levels of excitement.  Let’s not pretend, either, that this one doesn’t hurt though.

No matter how philosophical one can be about our transfer model and recruitment strategy, for supporters it is Jota and Maupay levels of ‘Nooooooo’. An iconic and unique talent leaving Brentford for pastures new. We all knew this day would come and can only wish him well. The manner West Ham conduct their business one which has left a sour taste in the mouth.

A unique talent

Surprise, surprise – they weren’t able to pay up. Rather we’re left with a cobbled together deal that could only go through after the window had shut. One which involves an initial loan period and downpayment of £5million, a guaranteed £20m purchase at the end of the season  and then a further £5m of add ons. When we said he was part of a BMW, nobody expected the Hammers to act like they were trying to buy a second hand car. One very careful owner. Let’s just hope they don’t go under or try some means to weasel out of this further down the track should things not work out for whatever reason. After all, this is a player who apparently failed his medical. Hmmm

As Nathan Caton put so wonderfully….  Benrahma fails a medical at a club where Jack Wilshere & Andy Carroll passed theirs???? Yo West Ham if you don’t have the money just say bruh…

So instead, we go down this route. An inability to stump up the cash has left us agreeing to this one. It worked with Ryan Woods and, I suppose, as long as that contract is water tight then all good further down the track. We don’t need to sell and have stuck to our guns so long that a decision to go down this route is one that Matthew and the DOFs have felt is in our interests. That doesn’t stop it felling like we’ve been played, though.

That West Ham have been haggling like Del Boy on a market stall rather than a football club befitting their proud history and tradition. World Cup / FA Cup winners in 1966 and 1980, as you may be aware.

This tweet from Ongar hammer was one of many form their own fans offering similar sentiments: Our owners are the most despicable bastards going , we despise them with a passion, they are a disgrace.

Still, we’ve agreed to it. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes? We’ve proven time and again we’re no mugs in our transfer dealings. You and me getting upset isn’t going to change anything. I can’t waste the energy on it and can only wish Said well. Hope his enthusiasm, joie de vivre and talent can all translate to the pitch at his new home. 

If he does what we know he can then West Ham supporters are going to wet themselves. For us, time to focus on the future. And that starts on I-follow this afternoon with Coventry City visiting Lionel Road.

See you on the couch at 3pm.

Nick Bruzon

The simple truth about Benrahma and Brentford.

14 Oct

West Ham / Benrahma blah blah blah. Quelle Surprise. As of Wednesday morning the Algerian master is still a Brentford player. Who’d have thought it? All the click bait in the world counts for naff all. As we said on these pages earlier in the week, he won’t be going there on the cheap. Whatever you read abut deals stalling and broken promises, the simple truth of the matter is that Said remains a Brentford player. For now. Whether anyone comes up with an actual serious bid – Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Brighton are the other names we’ve seen bandied around – remains to be seen of course. If they do, then kerr-chinggg. If not, we retain the services of the most exciting player in the Championship.

There’s still almost three days to go and that’s a long time, of course. 5pm on Friday is when all deals must be completed. With personal terms having allegedly been agreed then should West Ham actually blow the dust off the ‘tens column’ in their chequebook things could well happen. Likewise, those goals against Fulham L would only have reminded other suitors of what he can do. Crystal Palace were the other team whose name kept appearing earlier in the ‘window’ but, personally, I’ve got half an eye on Aston Villa swooping in. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the obvious reasons for that one.

Said was back to his very best against Fulham L

One thing’s for sure, with revenue streams falling rapidly as fans remain locked out, Premier League survival this season is more important than ever. European qualification equally so. We’ve already seen huge money thrown around and this will continue over both the next few days and the mid-season window. Said is the obvious crown jewel, ripe for plucking by whomever has the balls to make the right offer. 

With our own goal that of promotion to the top flight then of course it makes perfect sense to hope he stays. For what it’s worth, my own preference would be that we keep (a happy) Benrahma. Transfer money is great. It is the lifeblood that will keep us going until the time we are all allowed back in. Whenever that may be. But to make it up you need the very best options at your disposal. No matter what miracles Thomas Frank was able to conjure out of his squad last season, we all know what a huge part of that Said is.

There’s that key word though. Happy. Has Said had his head turned? Sweet nothings poured into his ear? Is his heart already set on West Ham? Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. Let’s not forget the saga of Neal Maupay who was giving everything for the Bees and his long term desire to stay – then agents and Brighton happened. Should Said stay at Lionel Road will it be a case of having to reignite the fire in somebody who would rather be elsewhere? What use is a, so called, ‘wantaway’  player who drifts out of games because he has the hump? 

We all know what a happy Said can do

None of the clickbait or conjecture will help you find any answers to that one. Either he goes or he stays. And if the later then you can bet Thomas and his team will have our man firing on all cylinders before you can say “Siracusa”. (It’s a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford lock. Apparently).  

This is where we can have no influence and no impact. None of what I, you or any of the fans want will make a difference All the stress, angst and trying to sniff out clues aren’t going to help. There are no real clues to be sniffed out. Enigmatic ‘sources’ nothing more than a lure with little or no actual substance behind them. Brentford simply don’t advertise in this fashion. Bidding clubs don’t show their hands so openly. Matthew and his directors of football play hard ball.

Who is looking at Benrahma? Who has shoddier photoshop?

All of which adds up to: he’ll go but it will be at our price. Who knows where and who knows when though? Today? Tomorrow? January? Next season? Aston Villa? Crystal Palace? West Ham even? Hey, this is football. The unexpected always happens.

Elsewhere, England play Denmark tonight. Christian Norgaard remains out of the squad with that injury picked up against Preston last Sunday. There’s been no real news on him since and one has to hope he is on the road to recovery. The visit from Coventry City is almost upon us and, like Said, he’s a key part of the squad. Mathias Jensen and Henrik Dalsgaard are still key parts of the Danish set up and it’s always interesting to see how they go against top flight opposition.

That one kicks off at 7.45pm. As with the Wales game last week, it will be played out at an empty Wembley stadium. Good news indeed for those who love a bit of atmosphere at their England games – we’ll be ‘band’ free once more. 

Whatever else is going on around us, that’s cause enough to celebrate. See you on the couch this evening.

That. Band. It always comes back to this

Nick Bruzon