Tag Archives: 26

Do Brentford have the scent of Royal blood at Reading? Could ‘other results’ actually happen?

20 Jan

Here we, erm, go again. Brentford travel to Reading on Saturday afternoon knowing a win, along with defeats (and definitely not victories as was originally noted)  for the five teams above us, will see the Bees end the day level on points with the play-off teams. Goal difference could even put us into that top six pack. True, this relies on things as improbable and distasteful as QPR and Birmingham City (amongst others) doing the needful but stranger things have happened before. Who could forget that wonderful denouement to 2014/15 when wins for Reading at all-but-there Derby County and Blackburn at home to Ipswich, combined with our own defeat of Wigan, saw the Bees slip through into fifth place?

Indeed it was the penultimate week of that season which saw a Brentford win on the road, at the Madjeski, to keep our hopes alive. Alan Judge and number 26 getting the goals as the Bees ended the day in seventh, two points and vastly inferior goal difference behind Derby.

Andre Gray for 3-0

Andre Gray for 3-0 v Wigan (and other results) secure a 2015 play-off spot

We all know how that play-off campaign ended. It was the play-offs, after all. Although at least we got there, unlike Derby.  Instead the point is made to illustrate what can happen when you least expect it. Sometimes, other results can go our way despite form. Thankfully the end of the season is a lot further away this time and so to desperation for the not so super hoops or Birmingham to win doesn’t have the same frisson, that’s for sure.

Whilst that unholy alliance is not one Brentford need to make today, it is still a nice position to be in. For now, though, let’s just focus on ourselves. Other results will do whatever they do. With games to come against all the chasing pack we still have matters well in our hands. Besides, it seems a bit premature to be talking play-offs and potential promotion at this juncture.

Yet, the table doesn’t lie. The gap to Sheffield United in sixth place IS three points. I’d be a liar if I was to say to you that I wasn’t absolutely excited by this prospect, no matter how slim and tenuous it is. Being realistic, Birmingham haven’t a prayer at Preston. Leeds, despite their own recent poor form, now have Adam Forshaw added to their ranks and are surely good for at least a point at home to Millwall ? Middlesbrough WILL hump QPR.

Can we do it though? Well, there’s no doubting Dean Smith’s team are on form at present. Last weekend’s defeat of Bolton followed a wonderful Christmas period in the league. Perhaps its best we forget about the hiccup in the FA Cup now. Move along, nothing to see there. Indeed, the Bolton game didn’t even require the mercurial Sergi Canos to start that one, although his presence at the end of the game was a most welcome one as the wide man set up Neal Maupay for 2-0 late on.

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Bolton were left looking dazed and confused by the end

I’m still not convinced we know Dean’s best / preferred starting XI. When this squad is on form and the players are at the top of their game, it really is a case of Buridan’s Ass. Which of the available options does he pick? 14 into 11 just won’t go. It’s one of those lovely problems to have, that’s for sure, with Chris Mepham’s form and the return of Alan Judge adding to his quandaries.

Reading, on the other hand, are missing John Swift whilst centre back Paul McShane is also reported as out. The Royals are very much off their A-game, form wise, although at least they have made it through to the fourth round of the FA Cup. In another battle of Championship v League 2, they made it through (unlike the Bees) and their reward is a trip to Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night.

With that to come and their own progress requiring Tuesday evening’s replay against Stevenage, could players be rested? Might if be a case of that old cliche being turned on its head and the Royals concentrating on the cup, now they are effectively out of the league?

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John Swift. The former Bee is missing in action today

One can dream. I’m still expecting a tough one today. The trapdoor to League One isn’t actually that far off for Reading. They’ll be as keen to secure those points as we are. Yet along with form, Brentford will have massive support on our side. Close to 3,000 tickets have been sold to the visiting support . With less than 15,000 turning up for their last league game at the Madjeski, a defeat at the hands of Birmingham City (clearly ten times better than the Royals), the 24,000+ capacity ground could feel a very empty place for the home team.

Certainly, it’s a stadium that has been a happy hunting ground for the Bees. Along with the aforementioned 2-0 win, let’s not forget the following season. Dean Smith’s first in charge saw that wonderful 2-1 victory. It was a win that was lit up by Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos. Goals that fall very much into the category of ‘best we’ve seen in recent years’ (see also: Stuart Dallas at Fulham and Nico Yennaris at Birmingham).

Sergi Canos v Reading

Sergi. Great goal, great shirt, great hair (then)

That’s all in the past though. If it meant more points, I’d happily settle for 1-0 and a deflection off Josh McEachran’s backside. Scrappy finish or 25 yard piledriver, they all count the same.

Roll on 3pm when we find out which it will be. Roll on 5pm when we see just how those ‘other results’ have gone. Could Brentford continue to climb up the table? Might we be saying a small word of thanks to our rivals?

I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.

Nick Bruzon

Ryan’s wonder goal set a very high bar. That Sergi then cleared.

 

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Are we stronger after the transfer window closes?

2 Feb

The transfer window has closed. Burnley got their man (one of them, at least), Alan Judge remains a Bee (for now) but no real inward activity for Brentford. Given our considered approach and much-derided model, that shouldn’t come as any real surprise. But is it the right move?

To be quite honest, one always feels a pang of disappointment when we have no news about inward signings. Such is the way we have been conditioned in recent seasons to accept a flurry of crazy, last-minute action. Instead, we also saw several untried names depart and the return of one player from a loan.

For me, and given where we are, there are several points to draw from yesterday.

First up, and being realistic, we aren’t going to leave the Championship this season. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it to happen (upwards) but I think even the most optimistic of Brentford fans would accept this is as long a shot as a Nick Proschwitz hat trick. We’re 7(seven) points off a very strong play-off zone whilst current form isn’t great (4 wins in our last 13 games).

Instead, this will now be a period of consolidation. Which of the new boys can cut it and where will we really need to strengthen? Yoann Barbet and Maxime Colin have already shown they are class whilst Ryan Woods is getting better each game. Will the likes of Andy Gogia, Philipp Hofmann, Konstantin Kerschbaumer and Josh McEachran (who has also been in the rise in recent weeks after a disappointing start) be able to match the aforementioned players?

Don’t forget we have the untapped potential of Lewis Macleod still to be seen in first team action whilst record signing Andreas Bjelland and striker Scott Hogan continue their recovery from long term injury.

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Yoann Barbet has certainly made an impression recently

What is of infinitely more importance is what we do over the much longer summer window that, this season at least, ran from June to September. Will Alan Judge be sold? Will Harlee get a new contract? Will we look to extend the likes of Jake Bidwell and David Button? Will we continue the shredding of the previous squad? Will we be looking up to the Barclays Premier League or down to the Ryman equivalent?

Yesterday’s article included the quote made by Rasmus Ankersen back in September, saying : “The goal is to get stronger after each transfer window.”

Are we stronger now? Well, in terms of current playing strength I’d have to disagree. Although not as ruthlessly as some might expect.

No squad could afford to lose the likes of Jota, Tarkowski or Toums and honestly say it was stronger. The flipside of this is that the emergence of Max Colin and Yoann Barbet in recent weeks, who we hadn’t really seen much of in the early season, has been like getting two new players. Josh has definitely improved and we have the potential of those three long-term injuries to look forward to.

Financially, we’re in a better position for sure although officially nobody knows how much we’ve been paid for anybody this season. The question will be how, if at all, will this be invested at the end of the season?

As for James Tarkowski, the sorry story comes to an end with the player certainly seeming pleased with his move. Nobody could knock what he did in his time at Griffin Park and it was a shame it all ended in such confusing, angry and emotional circumstances. You can’t knock anybody for wanting to be close to a sick family member and, perhaps, it’s best that’s where we should leave that side of things.

The only other point to make on the subject is Burnley – what was with the official ‘signing photo’ ? The brilliance of his shadow mullet, the 1970’s veneer effect boardroom and awkward pose have not been missed.

As for our lower key departures, Josh Laurent is already at Hartlepool whilst Ryan Williams has been snapped up by football’s greatest tweeters – Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Few could dispute that Montell Moore has had his own issues and so, perhaps, a fresh start is best for all. Time will tell on that one.

I must admit, I did have to perform a double take when the message flashed up that R.Williams had left Brentford. Were the Scots looking for somebody to help build them a new stadium? Were their fans voicing too many opinions and so in need of being patronised? Instead, it was simply the departure of our much touted free-kick specialist.

Then again, with Alan Judge and Sam Saunders in the side, he never had a chance.

Nick Bruzon

 

The morning after the day before

24 Jan

Ok – first up, congratulations to the Bees on another three points. The 3-1 win up at Preston yesterday saw Brentford push back up to the 10th place in the Championship table. As ever, should you want a full / any sort of quality match report then I’d recommend the BBC, Beesotted or the clubsite. The regular reader will be aware that’s not really what we do here.

Instead, I want to focus on yesterday’s column, given the reaction – both on this site and social media. Comments (that I can publish) ranged from ‘dross’, ‘claptrap’ and ‘tripe’ to ‘great piece’ ‘exactly how I’m, feeling’ and ‘excellent spot on article’ .

Both viewpoints are more than welcome. It’s great we’ve got such a loyal fanbase, prepared to back this team through thick and thin. I’m not going to apologise for what I feel, what I am thinking or what I wrote. Neither will I go back and rewrite anything. This site is an ongoing document of the season – as we’ve done for the previous two.

However, what I will do is try to clarify a little more about what I meant – should anybody still be reading !

First up, and let’s be exactly clear, without Matthew Benham we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Who knows what perilous state the club would be in or what lower league we’d be kicking around? I’ve said this many times on these pages and stand by it. However, this doesn’t mean I’m going to pretend to agree with all the methods being employed by the people at the top end of our club.

Whether we like it or not and whether we’ve had a choice or not, a team that had got us so close to the Premier League has changed beyond recognition. And, at present, in my opinion we aren’t as strong as we were last season. We’ve beaten Preston but have only won 4 games out of the last 12 – a run that includes the FA Cup defeat at home to Walsall. Likewise, we haven’t beaten a team in the top half of the table all season.

I understand that players come and go yet, at the moment, it feels like we are having to reconsolidate something that, on the pitch at least, didn’t need rebuilding. Of course we’ve got FFP rules to comply with but you can’t make such sweeping changes to a successful side (‘rip out the soul of the team’ was the phrase used yesterday) and expect to continue where we’d left off. The newcomers are finding their feet and, midfield especially, I think is a concern from a playing perspective.

I realise that no team has a divine right to be any good. I’ve said this many times – especially about the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Leeds United where supporters have some crazy expectation levels. Equally, I’ve heard it said many times that last season, ‘Brentford punched above their weight’.

I disagree. I’d say that last season we had a tremendous spirit, on and off the field, that helped us forge a stunning team with some great players. We got where we got on merit.

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View from the terrace – Last season saw an incredible team

I’ve stood through enough pain, heartache and inadequacy over the years to know how bad things can be and, believe me, I appreciate how good they are at present. At the end of the day (Clive) we are still 10th in the Championship table. That in itself is an incredible achievement in the cold light of day and not one to sniff at.

But also, having stood through that pain, heartache and inadequacy over the years I am desperate to see us do well at some point. Having almost made it last season, I really thought we’d have a chance to replicate Bournemouth and step on immediately.

Instead, the team that got so close is rapidly being replaced. The news about Toumani was the final straw for me. Certainly in terms of seeing that side become nothing more than the memory of what one correspondent called “a golden age”.

Look. The new crop will, I am sure, find their feet and their full potential at some point. This takes time. Equally, going up last season might have brought new headaches with the stadium being the least of them. That’s something we’ll never know – at least, not this year – but I won’t pretend it wasn’t an exciting journey. Infinitely better than 4000 fans watching a Rosenior or Butcher team. Equally better than knowing if Brentford Football Club would even exist.

Which brings me onto the other point. Brentford Football Club. Again, like it or not, it is changing as a place. As an entity. And this is the one that upsets me more than anything on field.

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Griffin Park – still our home, for now

I’ve loved feeling a part of this club and part of a community where everybody knows each other – including players and staff. I’ve done my time on Bees United – a thoroughly enjoyable experience – and am in my fifth year of writing articles in the matchday programme. We still have a lot of interaction with supporters – on social media especially where Chief executive Mark Devlin and Kitman Bob are amongst our most prolific (and popular) users.

Yet, yet. So much of the other side feels different. The strange appointment of Marinus followed by the way he was then dumped immediately after the ‘positivity’ of the fans’ forum.

The lack of any noise out of the club when even opposition managers are telling us they’ve signed our players. Silence when every news site out there is saying that players are up at other clubs. To the point where one of them, number 26, refused to play against a team that he was keen to move to.

To hear about Toumani from Steve Evans and the player himself is just bonkers. At least Dean Smith has now come out and confirmed he’s having a medical.

We get updates on a fansite from one of our co-director’s of football. A fascinating interview with Phil Giles who came across as a really decent bloke. Great work, too, from Beesotted but why are they the ones having to do this?

Huge swathes of the team who served so well have now gone and, of those left, question marks still remain over how long we’ll be able to hang onto Alan Judge whilst defender 26 made a huge error of judgement.

The parade of FC Midtjylland around Griffin Park for a requested round of applause on their lap of honour. Crazy. How could anybody think that supporters of Brentford, despite Matthew’s obvious interest in FCM himself, would care about another team? That’s not how football works. We don’t do half and half scarves and we don’t follow two clubs.

Few people, if any, support West Ham and Brentford, Chelsea and Brentford, Liverpool and Brentford. Why would we care about FCM and Brentford? If nothing else, think of the Europa League headache that might occurred had we not capitulated in the FA Cup ? Brentford may choose to share a co-director of football (ours) and a chairman (theirs) with FCM but I have no allegiance to the Danes.

All this, off the back of last season’s Warburton-gate, ‘football is a village’ and even the interim #bignewambitions.

Matthew Benham has taken himself off Twitter again whilst even supporters (nice work, @beesbanter) are sharing pictures of Toumani in a Leeds United tracksuit. Even though still a Brentford player. Oh the irony that their own manager can’t find one to fit yet one of our players can.

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@beesbanter were on the spot

It wouldn’t be Brentford if we did things quietly or normally. And, again, I’m still loving the fact we are in the Championship. A top ten side, no less.

But I won’t pretend our team is (currently) as strong as last campaign and I certainly won’t pretend to agree with how we handle ourselves off pitch.

Football is a game of opinions. We all love it. We all talk about it and we’ll all carry on following it. I’m a Bee for life, as (I hope) is my son. It does seem odd to sound moany when we are well placed but that’s just how I’m feeling at present.

Some may agree. Others may shoot me down. That’s fine, either way. We ARE being ambitious and radical. We won’t always get the simple things right.

I’d love to see us try though.

Nick Bruzon

’26’ , Jota, Beesotted and B.U. provide contrasting emotions

21 Jan

This week really has been interminable. The spate of 3 games in 6 days that culminated in our number 26 having his hissy fit prior to the Burnley game on Friday , seem nothing but a distant memory. The trip to Preston and follow up with Leeds United still seem an eternity away whilst, in between all of that of course, Jota has returned to Spain with Eibar.

Whilst the Jota move is a loan, part of me can’t help but think we’ve seen the last of the talismanic Spaniard. 18 months back in his homeland, with the addition of family life thrown in, could be a huge draw and prove too much for a return to TW8. Then again, if the Bees are pushing for the top flight (or even there already, you never know…) could that be the additional catalyst required ?

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Here’s hoping we welcome Jota back

The club have only ever shown themselves as honourable when dealing with players in tricky situations – see also Scott Hogan as a recent example and his contract extension, despite being gripped by a career threatening injury. Their release of Jota shows that same understanding and, one hopes, we all reap the rewards of this when it comes to the start of the 2017/18 season.

And the reason for further mention of Jota is twofold. Firstly, this whole business with Talksport shock-jock Adrain Durham (I always thought that was the alter ego of children’s entertainer ‘The Great Soprendo’ – kids, ask your dads).

I’ve deliberately not given him the oxygen of publicity these last few days following his indefensible, erm, defence of Brentford centre back number 26. Beesotted have nailed it, anyway, but for me it’s left a somewhat desperate taste in the mouth.

Secondly, the contrast with the way Jota has handled himself still just feels too raw. Moreso, when pictures of the still popular Spaniard (I see Bees fans already planning trips to see Eibar take on Barcelona in March) have now appeared in his new kit.

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Jota – at Eibar (for now)

It’s going to be an interesting dilemma as to what Dean Smith, Matthew Benham, Phil Giles and Rasmus do in regards to the centre back situation. Cash in or let him rot? Or could there even be a Trottaesque second chance?

I loved it when Marcello came back. Despite how sensitive everybody, quite understandably, felt about the situation after ‘that penalty’, here was a man with a point to prove. And boy, did he prove it ! With the Italian just this week signing for Serie A club Sassuolo there’s no chance we’ll be seeing him again any time soon but I still have fond memories about what he did at Griffin Park.

Could Harlee’s partner achieve the same status?

No. In a word.

The only thing he’ll do is rebrand himself as the new Martin Rowlands. Too much damage has been done. At least with Trotta it was ‘heat of the moment’ and the chance of glory being seized by a young striker. This was cold, calculated and deliberate.

Talking to Gerhard, landlord at The Griffin on Tuesday, he put forward the suggestion of naming him as a substitute against Leeds. Unused, of course. Make him warm up pre-game and walk out with the team. Walk across the pitch and even have to run up and down the touchline. See how he and the fans react just so he can truly understand the depth of feeling in what has happened. But don’t bring him on.

Could we see this? Allowing him to take any part in playing action will be the worst message possible to send out. What happens next could be very telling.

And finally, yesterday saw the ten year anniversary of something fantastic. Not the release of the first Arctic Monkeys album but a decade since Bees United took control of the club from Ron Noades. Again, a subject I chose not to write about but for totally different reasons.

Having served on the BU board at the time that members agreed to let Matthew Benham assume ownership, it felt a bit awkward now jumping on top of their own moment and good news. Besides, as with Beesotted on striking centre backs, the club have done a much better job than I could ever hope to do so – as anybody with even half an eye on social media would testify.

So instead I’ll simply offer my congratulations and huge thanks to David Merritt, Donald Kerr, the rest of the BU board and of course the members – all of whom have played their part in keeping this club alive in one of our darkest hours.

I really hope people understand how hard everyone worked to get this club on the path to where it is today. I hate to think what would have happened without this action.

It’s a shame some of our playing staff don’t share the same attitude towards this club.

Bees United, THANK YOU !!!