Tag Archives: 0-0

Just four games to go and fate is hanging in the balance

28 Apr

How things can change. Nine years ago it was one of the lowest points in our club history – the appearance on Soccer AM where we missed more penalty kicks than, well, we all know what happened later that afternoon against Doncaster Rovers….. At least we had the pleasure of seeing Frank Leboeuf being about as Gallic as they come. Charm personified (on and off camera) then puffing on a Gauloises the second he was out the studio. Likewise, there was a TV debut for our H – and he hadn’t even been born at that stage.

Now Brentford have four games to go in our first Premier League campaign with a top ten finish still well in sight. Next up, Monday evening’s trip to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. With it, a chance to avenge their second half ‘smash and grab’ at Lionel Road in January . There will be half an eye on their game at home to Chelsea tonight although whether a full viewing will be allowed in our house after watching both Liverpool and Manchester City in some quite wonderful Champions’ league action remains to be seen. Three nights of football in a row will all depend on a combination of marital goodwill combined with whether Kirsty and Phil are currently loving it or listing it.

Hopefully no repeat of the Soccer AM ‘performance’

Still, if that’s the worst of our problems then sporting life is indeed good. There’s a gap of just three points in the table from Brentford in 12th to Newcastle in 9th. We’ve got a tantalising run-in to try and secure that wonderful finish. Manchester United (a), the visit of Southampton and then a chance of sealing a relegation.

First bite comes with the game at Everton before the season concludes with the visit of Leeds United. Watford’s abject form means it unlikely both can now go down, as earlier predicted by The Last Word super computer, but Everton look like a dead man walking whilst Leeds find their next three games against top four clubs in Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. A haul of nil points is quite feasible from those and then, should the Toffees somehow find the means to reverse their form, there could be some very squeaky bums at Elland Road.

Its all ifs, buts and maybes of course. For me, Clive, the way Brentford have played since the return of David Raya and the arrival of Christian Eriksen / green jacket (delete as applicable) has been nothing short of wonderful. Unbeaten April – including the humping of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – culminated in holding Tottenham on Saturday night. It was a game that I am sure, had he been watching, Dean Smith would have called Brentford as deserving to win. We didn’t, but the performance in adding another point to our haul was about as good as it gets. Up there with those wonderful moments against Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham and Chelsea.

Chelsea away the highlight of a wonderful April

Indeed, but for the punishment inflicted by covid and injury around Christmas, who knows what might have been this season?  The manner of that last minute call off from Manchester United  – a few days after their own sub-Everton performance at Norwich City – one which still sticks in the craw even now. Even if it did save us a goalkeeping conundrum having to be solved. 

It certainly has felt like a campaign which has started and finished at 100mph after getting bogged down in the middle. The squad being used to the maximum and no panic buying. Those predicting doom and gloom when nobody came in have now been left with copious amounts of egg on face.

Nobody, that is, barring Christian Eriksen. A player for whom there aren’t sufficient words to describe how wonderful he has been. The primary focus being his own return to playing with the obvious benefit being what he has then got on to do for Brentford. Should Phil Gules, Matthew Benham et al persuade Christian his future lies with Brentford then who knows what next season might bring. Moreso if David Raya can borrow a pen from Pontus.

David has been key to our recent form

For now let’s focus on a top ten finish. Realistically, we’re looking at 10 points from 12, minimum, starting Monday. Only a fool would write off Manchester United, of course. Their form has been woeful – even Everton beat them the other week in what was one of the most dreadful games of football I’ve ever had the misfortune to witness. There is no comment needed on the toxic atmosphere pervading from all angles of Old Trafford. They limped past doomed Norwich City and shot themselves in the foot at every opportunity against Arsenal on Saturday. 

Can they use tonight’s game with Chelsea to salvage a last gasp stab at reaching the Champions’ League? Time is running out, that’s for sure. They’re six points, and inferior goal difference behind Arsenal with four to play. By the time Brentford visit, dreams of feasting at Europe’s top table could be all over.

All being well, the remote can be controlled for a third night in a row. It has been a cracking week of football for the neutral observer and tonight promises to be no different. Moreso given Brentford fans have a very vested interest in how things play out at Old Trafford.

Until then, the Tottenham player review (where the battle for our season long star man is going to the wire), is up here. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

Post match debrief after a top, top April comes to an end.

24 Apr

Brentford 0 Tottenham 0. Another point for the Bees. 10 out of 12 for April in an unbeaten month against London clubs. The trip to Manchester United next up as the season heads towards the final four games.

As ever at this point, the chance to reflect on the game just gone. Who was the star man for Brentford? Who made the top five as Tottenham were limited to zero shots on target? Has anyone in a much changed line up done sufficient to keep their place for the game with Manchester United next Monday?

The answers are here, in the post-match debrief….

Brilliant Bees round off April in style.

24 Apr

Well that was an amazing afternoon and as much, from a personal perspective, because I wasn’t there. A funeral in Gibraltar of a much loved aunt meant yours truly was overseas during the prep for Brentford – Tottenham. Having been expected home by Friday afternoon, weather based debacle then struck to such an extent that all flights were cancelled and touch down in London only made near 9pm last night. With the first half watched on mobile phone in a departure lounge and Mrs. B. reluctantly picking up green jacket duty, the chance to see us take on Spurs was denied. On the flip side, at least our next opponents, Manchester United, were able to be watched in the earlier TV match.  

If there is any positive, our own game being televised live means a full recording has now been watched. Not to mention Match of the Day.

Brentford, again, wonderful. Unbeaten in April and 10 points out of 12. Thomas Frank now in genuine contention for a ‘manager of the month’ award. With Manchester United next up, what time for that jinx to come in to play. Moreso, and I’m putting it out there now, the bank holiday 8pm kick off combined with no trains meaning the trip to Old Trafford has had no option but to be put on ice until next season. Magic pants and green jackets will not be there.

That’s a problem for another day, though. For the minute, time to reflect on where we are at and moreso given the noises coming out when the team was announced. With Ethan Pinnock already known to be missing, the announcement of the team saw him joined in the medical room by Kris Ajer and Christian Norgaard. Starts for Mathias Jensen, Mads Roerslev and Saman Ghoddos prompting our resident soothsayers to predict he ned was nigh. Instead, with regular reserve right wing back Roerlsev shifting to the middle alongside Mads Bech and Pontus (what a game he had), Thomas Frank was again one step ahead of just about everybody. Instead, it was that man Ghoddos how not only played counterpoint to Rico Henry but matched his drive, energy and tenacity.

We’ve all seen it though. We’ve all enjoyed it. The game a quite wonderful one and Brentford on fire from the off. Ivan hitting the woodwork twice, including a last gasp chance that was as close to goal as we were going to get.  Pontus and Christian also amongst those who came close. Tottenham snuffed out to the extent they were limited to a total of zero chances on goal. See also: last week.

There’s no such thing as ‘deserved to win’. We’ve always maintained that and this is no different. Brentford were hands down the better side. Tottenham very much playing second fiddle. Thomas Frank would talk at full time about how impressed he was, about our togetherness whilst also recognising the talent of our opponents. Likewise, Pontus, who would take to social media after the game to note:

A evening to me proud of. Mentality and mindset within this squad are out of this world! Thanks for top class support once again!

Pontus shared this picture on his Twitter – head and shoulders above Tottenham

It was wonderful watching it on TV. Even if in an airport / after the Lord Mayor’s show. It can only have been incredible to catch it live from a clearly buoyant Lionel Road. There’s not much more to add at this juncture although if you want the post-match debrief / star man review then that’s up now and can be found here.

Ultimately, if you were there, you know. If you’ve seen via screens, you’ll be smiling . Certainly, I am this morning. If for no other reason than being safely back in TW8.

Nick Bruzon

Who were the crown jewels against Palace ?

13 Feb

Another day, another game. Brentford arrested the recent run of defeats on Saturday afternoon with a 0-0 home draw against Crystal Palace. It was an afternoon that saw David Raya playing at home for the first time in months and Josh Dasilva finally back out in front of the Lionel Road crowd. Fingers crossed he’s good for Arsenal on Saturday, based on what we saw..

As ever, it’s time to take a look at some of the game highlights and those players that shone. Who were the Brentford top five? How does Thomas pick his midfield for Arsenal and beyond? Has the result agsasint Crystal Palace had any bearing on our season long hunt for the top Bees’ performers? Well, the thoughts on all of those can be found in the latest player review, here.

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Time to shed the L plates and get back to business

11 Feb

Brentford are back at home on Saturday for a clash with Crystal Palace where getting a point or three on the board is very much top of the priorities. Wednesday night’s 2-0 reverse at Manchester City felt like Liverpool away all over. Whilst a performance to give huge swathes of encouragement for the rest of the campaign, it still ended with another L being added to our current run of league form. At face value, our record is worse than The England Supporters Band World Cup singalong EP. Current results seeing the letter L becoming as unwelcome as one hanging around Mrs. Brown’s (of Boys infamy) neck on a hen night. Sounds and sights that nobody needs. The big question being how we get to reverse this blip before it moves form a statistical anomaly to an albatross?

Sights and sounds nobody needs

First things first, Manchester City away. The highlights of that one were covered off in the player review which you can find here. An already tough task was made inifinitely harder before the game had even started when it was revealed there would be no Ivan Toney, no Vitaly Janelt, no Bryan Mbeumo and no Yoanne Wissa. Striking options reduced to Sergi Canos and Saman Ghoddos.

We love Sergi in our house but if those two knew each other like the back of their hand then they must have been wearing gloves. Those rare opportunities where a break was made possible immediately snuffed out by a wayward pass or the offside flag.

The positive news being our performance in keeping our hosts at bay. Many had expected Manchester City to score at will but an ultra-disciplined performance at the back – where Kris Ajer and Rico Henry in particular were standout – saw the attacking threat nullified. The midfield, likewise. Something which made the manner of the two goals we did concede all the more frustrating.

Sergi spurning chances to release the ball in midfield, losing possession and Mads Roerslev giving away a clumsy penalty form the resultant ball forward. It was all a bit Laurel and Hardy yet so avoidable. From Sergi’s part, last season’s Norwich City away all over again. An infrequent but glaring howler. For Mads, perhaps a bit of inexperience and big game rabbit in the headlights but, again, he didn’t even get close to the ball and it was as clumsy as they come. David Raya with no chance from the spot kick. Much as the game in Liverpool, forty plus minutes of resolute defending undone with one lapse minutes before half-time.

If the first had been Liverpool away, the second was a carbon copy. Perhaps even tougher to swallow given we’d been playing our way back in to the game. Rico had almost equalised moments after the penalty and now the Bees were actually breaking forward. Putting City on the backfoot. Yoanne Wissa was all set to join the fray when more sloppiness, from the unlikeliest of sources. David Raya passing it out of defence and straight to Raheem Sterling. It was Alvaro Fernandez at Anfield all over again. One that we will, perhaps, be generous and chalk down to being out of action for all those months. If nothing else, his performance the rest of the game was as welcome and confidence inspiring as they come.

Let’s be clear, having David Raya back is a magnificent thing. No Brentford fan would deny that. Form started to wobble the moment he went away and, whilst it may take a game or so to reacquaint himself with the defence, long term our prospects are infinitely sounder. Likewise Josh Dasilva, who came off the bench for a pre-planned substitution. He was our star man against Everton and continues to show what we’ve been missing. Cautious reintegration to the team – it was a LONG injury break – will surely be the way here as fitness returns.

Then there’s Christian Eriksen. Is Crystal Palace too soon for him to have a run out? He’s been in training this week and says he’s in better shape than ever , albeit obviously lacking competitive minutes.

When might he step from training ground to first XI ?

However, with two goalkeepers being maned on the bench for Manchester City, I’m half expecting him, to be added to the substitutes for Palace. Even if there’s no chance of getting an actual run out. Just think of the boost it will give the crowd when his name is read out. When we see him warming up. Running down the touchline. Perhaps as important a move to make as actually bringing a player on. As for the noise if / when Christian finally enters the fray. Whether it is against Crystal Palace or elsewhere. Thomas has a wonderful card up his sleeve and when he plays it is a decision that has everyone guessing. Everyone talking. Everyone anticipating.

As for Crystal Palace, they’re only a point ahead of the Bees following a 1-1 draw with Norwich City midweek. I don’t think even Dean Smith would claim his side deserved to win after the Eagles had a gola disallowed and were guilty of missing what has been described as one of the worst Premier League penalties of all time. If only Manchester City had followed that script.

The game at Selhurst Park ended in a 0-0 draw. Our first Premier League away day played out in a cauldron of noise – even if it did require, shudders, a drummer to help crank things up. Likewise, there was fake Hans Gruber in the supermarket end, Doing his best to wind up the visitors and falling flat on his face (metaphorically speaking) after being invited to leave by the stewards.

Goodbye

Despite the mayhem and chaos all around, Brentford more than held their own. Recreating similar (perhaps without the drum) will be huge tomorrow. Ivan Toney being declared fit, equally so. Thomas Frank used his press conference yesterday to share the update that, “We found out late on Monday afternoon that Ivan Toney would be a big doubt for the City game (with a calf injury) but fingers crossed he’ll be ready for Saturday. It will be a race against time but we’re hoping he’ll be okay for the Palace game.

Only time will tell if Ivan is involved. If Bryan starts or Vitaly is fit. Whether Christian Eriksen could make a gladiatorial entry into the fray. Roll on 2.01pm when the team is named and we find out.

Bring it on. See you there.

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 

This could be biblical…..

30 Jan

Are we all over the Swansea City foul fest now? All being well Brentford fans are now fully focussed on Saturday afternoon’s game with Wycombe Wanderers, even if Swans’ supporters are still justifying their team’s own somewhat robust approach to Wednesday evening’s 1-1 draw. Certainly, going by the comments to Thursday’s column… That’s nice. Good luck to them. For the Bees, this represents another chance to continue an unbeaten run in the Championship that stretches back to late October and ‘that’ 3-2 slip up in Stoke. The one with the defensive experiment. Well, we’ve all learned a heck of a lot since then and now find ourselves nipping at the heels of the top placed teams. Reading’s victory over a Bournemouth team rapidly perfecting their own Fulham tribute act has catapulted the Royals above the Bees, for now, but its all so tight at the top that should we pick up all three points this afternoon, second place with games in hand is more than attainable by 5pm. Should other results go our way.

Wednesday has been and gone – let’s just move on now

These are exciting times, no doubt. If the snow which was thought to be that great leveller never quite materialised against Leicester City on Sunday, the elements could play much more of a significant role today. At the time of writing (7(seven) am) its torrential outside and has been for the last few hours (at least). The ground in TW8 will already be sodden and the rain shows no sign of abating. Great conditions for those that like slick, passing play. For those that remember to pack the extra long studs.

Things are biblical in Brentford this morning, that’s for sure, but with the Bees looking to make their own exodus from the Championship it couldn’t be more apt. Let’s just hope there’s a great flood of goals to match the downpour. Ivan Toney’s recent hot streak may have hit the skids but he is still playing quite wonderfully. The timing of his runs (where only being man handled can stop him) and link up play to those who are finding the net still worth their weight in gold. Or should that be goals? This afternoon’s visit from the Championship’s bottom side, who haven’t played in the league since a 1-3 defeat to Middlesbrough, could be the perfect opportunity for him. Of our divisional rivals, only Huddersfield Town have conceded more goals this season and a visit from a leaky defence in the rain could be just what the doctor ordered.

Of course, football is never that easy. Gareth Ainsworth’s team have certainly tightened up their act and are even winning games now. We laboured to our own 0-0 at Adams Park back in November and so won’t be under any illusions about this being a formality. Anything but. Talismanic behemoth Adebayo Akinfenwa may not have troubled the Championship statisticians so far this campaign but his presence alone makes the front man a huge distraction for the Brentford defence. Keeping the ball down the other end will be key. Dominating the midfield the way we’re going to win this one and break down resolute opposition.

Fortunately, Matthias Jensen was on fine form at Swansea City. See also the returning Josh Dasilva who did well to avoid another early exit fro matt game. Albeit on a stretcher, given the non-stop assault he was subjected to in the first half. Thankfully, referee Mr Brooks was on hand to ignore it all. Today we’ve got David Webb (rather than W£bb) in the middle so let’s hope for a little bit more protection in the slippery conditions. 

The heart says comfortable win today. The head says I’ve been a Brentford fan far too long to take anything for granted. However, let’s put the neck on the block and call it. 3-0 Brentford. There you go. Having got the last two league games spot on (somehow) its a hat trick that will be as welcome as it will be unlikely. Bring on 2pm when we find out the team and baton down the hatches for another afternoon on the sofa. Urghh – I’d love to be soaked to the skin this afternoon, so cold and wet that all feeling has been lost to the fingers. Unable to feel my nose and rain running down the glasses. We all know why that’s not possible so instead, let’s just hope the Internet holds up. Let’s wait for Mark Burridge to do his thing on the microphone.

Bring it on and see you there. In mind if not body. There’s always social media. Enjoy the game and here’s to the right result come 5pm. No pressure, lads….

Nick Bruzon 

Robert’s legacy lives on as the dream continues.

10 Jan

Back of the net ! Brentford went through to the fourth round of the FA Cup, despite the absence of Thomas Frank and a whole raft of first team regulars. Goals from Halil Dervişoğlu and Saman Ghoddos were enough to steer us past Middlesbrough in a comfortable 2-1 win. It was a game as notable for the debutants as it was for both of our scorers’ first Brentford goal – in particular, the strike from Ghoddos one we’d been, ermm, anticipating /  expecting / hoping for. No, sorry, the correct word to use escapes me but I’m sure somebody will come up with a better one. Crowbarred headlines aside, we’re through. Monday evening sees the draws for rounds four AND five, before we can then concentrate on the league for a few weeks. Bristol City, Reading and Luton Town are next on that circuit.

Aswell as the two goalscorers making the headlines, lets not ignore the debuts for Alex Gilbert and Lewis Gordon or a first start for Fin Stevens. Not to mention Max Haygarth coming off the bench late on. Truly, the B team flame is alive and well. Burning as strongly as ever with Stevens, in particular, impressing. Robert Rowan’s legacy lives on and shows no sign of abating. How much of what we enjoy and take for granted is down to this man? In addition, there was a welcome return for Mads Roerslev – amazing to already consider him an ‘elder statesmen’ in this set up ! Most importantly though, this has shown a new strength and set of options available to Thomas, temporary custodian Neil MacFarlane, Sam Saunders and the rest of our group as we head into the second part of the season. The comfort level showed by the newcomers no surprise but very welcome nonetheless.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. Never have done. We all saw the game anyway or, at least, had the opportunity to do so via the surprisingly reliable FA player. Yet what was notable was what an open attacking match it was. Both sides going for it in a complete antithesis of November’s infamous 0-0 snoozefest.

Once the teams had found their feet it was Middlesbrough, if any, who felt in the ascendency. Luke Daniels in nets looking as solid as ever to thwart smiling assassin Chuba Akpom and Marcus Browne. Brentford building into it until , with half time approaching,  Dervişoğlu struck. He’d been offered a good chance earlier but steered wide when cutting in. There was no mistake this time. Boom. 1-0 and the tinfoil trophy hoisted high into the living room air. Ghoddos with the delivery from the corner and Halil executing it low past the ‘keeper. 1-0. Game on. First period done.

With the world outside the front door feeling , at times, like it’s going to hell in a handcart, you can’t put a price on seeing a smile like this. Thank you Halil. Thank you Robert. Thank you everyone. It certainly helps make my life and the struggle of being a parent that much easier. Keeps a 7(seven) year old ecstatic at a time when popping out to the park is about as good as it gets for him compared to normal. Instead, he then spent the entire second half waving the tinfoil and commentating over the top of FA player in equal measure.

Celebrations back at home for the first goal

As ever, this is Brentford. This is football. It’s never 100% plain sailing and with Neil Warnock’s team back out on the front foot, the scores were level soon after the restart. Sam Folarin being given all the time and space needed to pick his spot. Daniels, for once, given no chance of stoping it. Yet rather than collapse into a pit of despair it was the Bees who picked themselves up and kicked on. 

Saman Ghoddos timing his own run through the middle to perfection, picking up the ball and waltzing through the gaps in the Boro’ defence. The Iranian timing his moment before unleashing a devastating counterstrike  from 12 yards out. Hard and low into the bottom corner. Jordan Archer in goal unable to do anything beyond looking good in his shirt. Wow, that was a stunner. As was Saman’s shot. You can see all of it, and more, on the BBC highlights which are available here.

The BBC replay shows all the magnificence.

And from there, the game was closed out. Nothing more to worry about. No stress. All calm. All good. A potato skin negotiated. No need for energy sapping extra time but instead an immediate return to winning ways after Spurs had put the brakes on that mammoth unbeaten run. Brentford through to the next round and the excitement of the draw. Bristol City here in a few days time when league action recommences. The team sure to return to a more familiar starting XI but, at the same time, one that now knows there are even more options than before to plug the gaps. To increase competition for places. To earn the shirt in their own right.

The future is bright. The future is red, white and youth. Brentford continue to lead the way in squad development and B-team progression. The work started by the much missed Robert Rowan continuing apace. Who knows how vital this will prove between here and May? And beyond...

The architect of so much we enjoy and take for granted. Thank you.

Nick Bruzon  

Tin foil? Check. Sofa? Check. Corona Virus? Check.

9 Jan

The FA Cup third round is here. It began last night at Aston Villa (we’ll get to Dean Smith in a bit) and now Brentford host Middlesbrough this evening. Another run at the stadium in North London near Ikea awaits. Memories of the epic afternoons against Manchester City and Sunderland flooding to the fore every time this competition is mentioned. Even last season’s game with Leicester City at Griffin Park is up there – if only for the fact it was one of the last occasions we were all together. Now, we begin another journey although one I get the feeling is going to see a lot of less familiar faces helping us along the way. A side much more akin to the one that started the early rounds of the League Cup likely to be the direction chosen by Thomas Frank. Albeit, he won’t be there to put an arm around the shoulder or impart some top, top words of advice. Yesterday’s news certainly put paid to that. Award winner in the morning followed by the confirmation he has tested positive for Covid 19. Ten days self-isolation now follow and, of course, everybody wishes him nothing but the best. Talk about the ‘curse’ of manager of the month ! For once, it really is a case of ‘Frank out’. In all seriousness though, one can only hope our inspirational head coach is back amongst us as soon as possible and not suffering any ill effects.

The quintessential Brentford FA Cup image

Yet whomever is picked for Brentford – and even Charlie Goode has noted in his programme interview that “I am sure the squads will be very different today” (from ‘that’ 0-0 with Middlesbrough – the game that dare not speak its name) it is still the FA Cup. It is the third round. It is the single most exciting weekend in the football calendar. The chance for the mighty to fall. For heroes to be made. For the armchair fan to sit back and gorge on all that the cup has to offer. Every game will be available to sofa dwellers and, with nothing else to do, why not. A cup tie is the one occasion where you can dip into a random game and pick a side. The desire to see an ‘upset’ is almost instinctive.

 For example, next weekend sees Sheffield United host Newcastle United in the Premier league. Honestly, is anyone outside of their own fans going to think that looks like an attractive means to spend two hours? Cripes, talk about boredom on a plate and I wouldn’t go near it with a barge pole. Personally speaking. I’ve suffered enough already this season when Middlesbrough came to visit in the league  – and that was my own team dragging themselves through 90 minutes – so have no desire to inflict similar on myself. Yet offer up the prospect of this afternoon’s encounter between Bristol Rovers and Sheffield United, then all of a sudden the chance to watch the Blades limp through a game takes on a whole new level of intrigue. And with our own kicking off at 6pm, it means both can be watched. If you want.

We won’t be there in person. Nobody will. One has to feel for the fans of Marine in particular. Hosting cup kings Spurs yet forced to watch it from the safety of home. There’s an entirely different question out there as to whether football should even go on hold for a while, as it did last season, with more and more clubs returning positive tests. Or, in the case of Bristol City, sore throats. Yet until, or if, that happens, we’ve got this. Watching on from home and hoping to progress. Hoping to get through without injury or suspension that has already robbed us of Josh Dasilva.

I’d still love to be there and would have gone like a shot had we been able. The chance to see Brentford, against anyone, always a pleasure. The opportunity to wield that tin foil trophy – something our Harry has done every season – one that is always grabbed with relish. The creation of the trophy a  Saturday morning ritual of gluing and cutting that we’ve always enjoyed but, alas, not this year. Or maybe we will anyway. Just because.  

Win or lose, we’ve had our moments. Hosting Marcus Gayle and Staines Town. The aforementioned game with Leicester City. Even being dumped out by Walsall. As much because of their own reaction to recently departed boss and ‘Ginger Judas’ Dean Smith who had joined us at Griffin Park. A quite remarkable reaction, a cracking afternoon of cup football and one it would be fair to say that the Saddlers ‘deserved to win’. 

Dean certainly upset the Walsall fans

The league cup run has certainly lifted spirits, that’s for sure. Coming so close to a Wembley final with Manchester City one that, whilst everyone is rightly still looking at with pride, would have been a quite incredible experience had we managed to pull it off. Now, we must go again.

I’m not an idiot. The absolute 110% priority is the league. We’ll never have a better chance to reach the hallowed ground of the top flight and I have no doubt Thomas will juggle resources accordingly. Yet, at the same time, that’s not to say I won’t be investing any less in the FA Cup. Our squad have shown what they can do already and I‘m sure they’ll be out to do the same again this afternoon. Bring it on !!

Now, where are the scissors…?

Another FA Cup journey on the road to Wembley begins.

Nick Bruzon 

Now let’s unmask this phoney fan and see who she really is…

10 Dec

Brentford 0 , Wayne Rooney’s (interim) Derby County 0. The Bees made it ten unbeaten on a night that, being honest, was as frustrating on pitch as it was exciting off. We head into the weekend, sitting 7th (seventh) in the Championship. A win away from Bournemouth in the automatic spots and facing the prospect of a trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon. Themselves, victims by the odd goal in three at table topping Norwich City and sure to be raging after going behind, again, just after they’d hauled themselves back in to it last night. Yet the fact that we’re already talking about another team is, perhaps, subconsciously telling us all we need to know about last night at Lionel Road. My word that was hard going.

For the supporters taking their turn on the ticket merry go round, you could see and hear what this meant. Social media was awash with more positivity and photos. It sounded great from the TV and just imagine what the noise will be like when the stadium is eventually allowed to be full (scientists calculate that as being approximately 2032). 

Back home we had the intriguing combination of witnessing this in the company of Natalie Sawyer and Jonathan Douglas sitting with Mark and Mick in the commentary box. Fate bringing together one of our more recognisable fans alongside a former player who is a hero to just about all Brentford supporters. They seemed to go well together !  Mark was in there with his Cameron Diaz story  – pretty sure I heard her name mentioned on more than one occasion – as her fake fandom was once again put into the minds of all true Bees (and if you’d like to read more, then let’s never forget her celebrity supporter status, or lack of, being unmasked on national radio…).

Now lets unmask this imposter

Again, though, we’re digressing from the main event. When Brentford fans (or lack of) are the talking point then we’re probably in the right ball park after a gritty 0-0. It was one that saw us unable to break through the eleven men Wayne Roo… (can we just call them Derby County and take the Rooney bit as read?) had packed behind the ball. 59% possession for Brentford (I’d have had it as more) and 12 shots only tell part of the story. The crucial factor being that not one of those was on target. That when the chances came, we blazed high. We fired wide. We didn’t trouble their goalkeeper. Bryan Mbeumo, starting this one alongside Sergi and Ivan, had the best of these. It seemed harder to miss than score yet he managed the former when he found himself just yards out early in the second half with the goal gaping.

That’s football. Ideally the game doesn’t hang on one chance. Vitaly Janelt had a pair of shots from distance early on as it looked like it was simply going to be a matter of time before the floodgates opened. ‘This is going to be 0-0’ said Mrs. Bruzon early on. Hmm. What does she know? Rico’s on fire. Sergi has picked up where he left off against Blackburn. Ivan is the division’s top scorer. Alas, as with everything in life, she was right. Josh Dasilva also had his moment but couldn’t quite find a way through in a game where Thomas Frank noted at full time that, “We created five big chances but didn’t have the sharpness or quality in the decisive moments.

Too true, Thomas. His team selection was strong enough. The opposition came to do a job on us and they succeeded. No complaints there. An away point from a promotion chasing team no bad thing in their eyes, I’m sure. For Brentford, though, can there be any positives? 

Well yes, of course there are. The unbeaten sequence aside, it was another clean sheet. It was another game without Christian Norgaard – a player that I’m intrigued to see playing with Vitaly Janelt. Too similar or the making of Brentford 2021? It was another solid performance from Mads Bech Sørensen. It was another point that keeps us well in contention. This time last season we were eighth with 27 from 17 games played. This time around we are one point and one position better off. Not so much clutching at straws after a ‘challenging’ 90 minutes but more the case of looking at the table with fresh eyes having slept on it following, rather than during, the game.

For me, Clive, the frustrating thing is as much seeing Said Benrahma keeping the bench warm at West Ham. The reasons for selling (sorry, loaning) him are clear to all and so there are no complaints there. He wanted his move to the top flight and the money will be very good for us. Yet last night was the sort of game where having a player of his unique ability could have been the difference between the win and the eventual draw. He’d have decimated them, had he been on his game.

There’s no benefit in crying over who we don’t have but at the same time there has been a clear gauntlet thrown down which, to date, none of the wider players have consistently looked like picking up. We’re solid at the back. We drive forward in midfield. The goals are coming up top (normally). Unlocking that final area of the pitch is the challenge. It’s great that the full backs can overlap in such style but Rico must be knackered. Thomas can only pick from his available squad and, perhaps, it will be a return to the combination of Canos, Forss and Toney that serves us best against Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Go for it from the off and see what happens. 

For now, though, it IS another point and another game where we’ve had some more of the fans back in. Long may that continue. ( Did somebody say Tier 3…..…?). Derby County are still languishing in the bottom three and we’ve a trip to another of their relegation rivals to look forward to this weekend. Chris Hughton’s recent record at Forest is on a par with Simply Red’s greatest hits – short and terrible. LLDLL from the last five doesn’t make good reading. 

So I’m happy still. It wasn’t a great spectacle but one game is only a small part of the bigger picture. A picture which is a frenetic, non-stop season with games coming week on week on week. I’d love to have won but in the end we’re as lucky not to have lost. Derby had their own chance(s) late on and that post is still rattling.

Move along. Nothing to see here. Instead, its one for the record books and the ongoing hope that, one day, perhaps Cameron might just check what she is missing out on. Hey, if its good enough for Ryan Reynolds and Wrexham….. Yet even if she does, somehow, appear Natalie will always remain Queen Bee.

Nick Bruzon