Tag Archives: 4-0

Rams raided in demolition derby. The Great Dane and King of Spain inspire killer Bees.

14 Apr

Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do but stand back and gasp in awe. There’s Good Friday and then there’s this. Bloody Marvellous Friday. Brentford swept Derby County aside by 4-0. It was a scoreline which, if anything, underplays just how complete a team performance this was. Barnsley should be quaking in their boots if we can even half replicate this one on Monday.

Three hours after full time and I’m still staggered by just how beautiful that was. We’ve spoken all season about what would happen if the Bees could play a full 90 minutes at full tempo. Well, here was the answer. And boy, wasn’t it a joy to behold?

“A game of two halves. And Derby weren’t in either” . Not my words but those of one New Road observer. Top comment from a top cat. He really couldn’t have summarised it in a more poetic or appropriate fashion. Sentiments shared at the bar of The Griffin post game, where the first comment I heard was one of , “4-0? 4. 0. To Brentford? Just what’s that all about?”

Ah. The tale of the unfancied and underestimated underdog being played out yet again. Derby committing the fatal mistake of playing the reputation (a traditional mid tier three outfit) rather than the team in front of them (a free scoring XI with the tastiest wings this side of Colonel Sanders).

Oh, Jota. Could we love this man any more? Every time you think he’s reached his peak he then goes one better. Or, in this case, two. His opening goal, to double Lasse Vibe’s first half opener (one that the Spaniard himself had provided the assist for) was beautifully taken. But the second, to hammer home the four goal advantage, was up there with the best of them.

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View from the Braemar. Jota points the way

The King of Spain let the ball slide one way past the hapless Richard Keogh, the player himself going the other, before reuniting with the ball. It was a moment to take the breath away and as close to Pele in 1970 or Maradona against England in 1986 as one could hope to see in West London.

But then, with supporters gasping for air, he completed the stranglehold. On Derby, that is . From a seemingly impossible angle he fired home from the corner of the six yard box, through three defenders, past the ‘keeper, across the goal and into the net at the back stick.

How the crowd roared. How the king, arms aloft, soared. Grown men gasped. The director’s box, to a man (and woman) stood as one. Acknowledging a moment that truly was the crown jewel in a consumate performance.

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The Bees line up to celebrate with the man of the moment

Between Jota’s pair, Lasse Vibe had made it 3-0. His shot from outside the box already wrapping things up and leaving the Great Dane on the cusp of what would, possibly should, have been a well deserved hat-trick. Scott who? With the greatest of respect to the former Bee, Lasse has well and truly proven what he can do and what a great piece of business that Matthew and the team pulled off back in January.

But just as against Leeds United, to overly single out any one payer would be unfair. It was one of those performances where we saw just how good Dean Smith’s team is. The difference being that, whilst both games saw great Bees’ performances, this time we kept it going for the full 90. Indeed, if anything, we actually accelerated.

Marcus Gayle summed things up nicely at full time . His twitter analysis encapsulated it in succinct fashion. “That was the most complete 90 min team performance by @BrentfordFC this season – full of confidence,creativeness and goals at  Grifffin Park

If you were there, you know what happened. If you weren’t, then my condolences. It really was THAT good. As ever, the BBC, Brentford ‘official’ or Beesotted are amongst the sources to get your full fat match report.

The next game can’t come soon enough. The trip to Barnsley may be a long one but if Brentford put in even half the shift they did today, then three points are the least we’ll come home with.

That’s for Monday, though. For now, it’s a chance to maybe play those goals once more. Sky sports have the video up now on their internet page, with Bees Player to follow tomorrow.

I can’t wait to hear what Mark Burridge made of this one.

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Derby were yards behind us, in both halves

Nick Bruzon

There’s more than one anniversary to commemorate. Could the same thing happen again?

23 Feb

With Brentford due to entertain Rotherham United this Saturday, the game sees a much heralded anniversary being marked – fifty years since the Loftus Road mob failed in their attempt to cast the Bees out of Griffin Park and take over the club. Whilst the club are understandably, marking this date with all the correct protocol and build up, it has overshadowed another anniversary. Namely, Friday 24 February being two years to the day that the Bees enjoyed 74% possession and an incredible 43 shots in a 4-0 Championship defeat of Blackpool.

Of course, the club have numerous articles on the doomed QPR affair. You can see the latest on ‘official’ at present (well worth a look) whilst the Rotherham game sees the event being given formal recognition.

Yet the Blackpool game also deserves a look back. If only for the manner in which Brentford played so soon after the news that Mark Warburton would eventually be moving on, unable to co-exist alongside Matthew Benham and his (then new) ‘mathematical model’.

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Warbs – more popular at the time than the prospect of the mathematical model

Of course, nobody knew then what we do now. It was decision which seemed crazy at the time . Moreso, given that the Blackpool game seemed a vindication of everything the club had done to get to that point. Equally though, it is one which now sees us about to embark on a fourth season of Championship football. The thought of any QPR style buy out nothing but a bad memory as Matthew Benham’s investment in Brentford continues apace.

So with Saturday seeing us prepare to play Rotherham United and (frankly) jeer QPR, the Last Word takes the chance to step back in time and remember, as if ‘live’, what we did against Blackpool. It was as close as we’ll get to those wonderful brackets that come with 7(seven) goals. Then again, with the divisional whipping boys next up, could Brentford do the same again two years on…..?

25 February 2015. 4 goals, 43 shots, 74% possession. That’s some mathematical model.

Brentford blew aside Blackpool last night like a crisp packet caught on the breeze as they recorded a second win in as many games. The 4-0 scoreline does little to reflect the one sided nature of a game in which we registered 43 shots to the visitors 2 and had 74% possession. Blackpool, who spent much of the game with ten men following a red card for Charles Dunne, offered nothing and, being honest, could have made the long journey home on the wrong end of a bracketing had we been that bit more clinical.

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Those shots in full

As it was, Jon Toral recorded a hat trick with two early goals starting proceedings and looking as though the floodgates might open. With the crowd exhorting Toumani to shoot at every opportunity, expectation was high. Even ‘the left side, Ealing Road’, joined in with the cheering before meeting the good natured retort “You only sing when your winning” from the rest of the stand.

Instead, it stayed at two until just after half time when Andre Gray’s effort eventually squeezed though, and off, a sea of legs for 3-0. And that was it until Toral was forced to make room on his mantelpiece for a match-ball as he stabbed home from close range just before the final whistle.

4-0 was no more than we deserved but with everybody above us (barring Bournemouth who play tonight) winning, it was an essential result. Yes, we could have had more but three points had to be the priority against a team who were desperate for a result and, for a moment, looked as though they might even grab the opening goal.

However, it was just a moment and, with the threat gone, Brentford recorded a victory that sees us sitting immediately outside the playoff zone, just two points off third place. All talk of Matthew Benham’s mathematical model has been pushed firmly to the back of the mind as 7(seven) goals in two games suggest something is working just fine as things currently stand. Hey, we even scored from a corner (albeit, the traditional ball into the penalty box rather than the much maligned ‘short’ variety).

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In the interest of balance I’m looking for a negative about our performance but it is hard to be truly objective when the opposition offer so little. You have to really feel for their fans making that journey for that level of resistance.

Being über critical, the only thing to elicit any form of inward groan, short corners aside, was some of David Button’s distribution. Whilst we used to think even Natalie Sawyer’s feet would be better suited to clearing the ball, that part of his game has still improved so much that a rogue effort does really stand out now. There’s good reason the fans chant “England’s number one”.

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Better than Button? Natalie Sawyer feet pictures feat Mark Burridge, too.

Warbs’ stock continues to rise as the post match discussion in the pub was very much one of “What next”? Matthew Benham has made his intentions clear and so certainly seems to have gone too far down this track for a reversal of opinion. The popular Mark Warburton, meanwhile, has said he won’t be able to work within such a structure.

However, there is an alternative which could keep both parties happy. If Matthew wants a mathematical model then I have two words which, I am sure, would prove a popular decision – Rachel Riley.

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First look at the artist’s impression of a mathematical model etc etc etc

And, as ever, if you would like to read more about that incredible period then you can do so here…….

Nick Bruzon

No fight, No clue, No nothing. Worst. Display. Ever (and that’s just Dean) as Bees go down at Chelsea.

29 Jan

Chelsea 4 Brentford 0 . Well played Chelsea. You can only beat what is put up in front of you and what comes next is by no means meant as either criticism, or over exuberant praise, of our hosts on Saturday. But that was atrocious.

An FA Cup scoreline most outsiders would have expected before kick off yet one which, with the players at Dean Smith’s disposal could have been so much closer. More to the point, with the players at Dean Smith’s disposal it should have been one which involved some passion and fight. Instead, he rolled over and had his belly tickled.

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Stat of the day going into this one..

The BBC match report has the highlights as does Match of the Day on the I-player, approximately an hour and nine minutes in. If you must do it to yourself, I’d suggest going with the latter option purely for Gaby Logan’s sub-Partridge introduction to the game “Two years ago Chelsea lost out to League One Bradford City in the Fourth round. Today’s opponents also started with ‘B R’ and ended in ‘Ford’ but could Brentford give the Premier League leaders another FA Cup thumping?

The answer was a categoric “No”.

It is said that games can hinge on a single moment. This one was the exact moment Dean Smith set up his team. Chelsea were never going to be at full strength with matches against Liverpool and Arsenal in the coming week. Even I could see that and my managerial experience has been limited to two games at the helm of the Brentford legends.(P2 W2 D0 L0. Just saying).

The only chance of getting anything out of this was to go for it from the off, get in their faces and then grind it out later on if needs be when Chelsea brought their big guns on.

Instead, we stuck to the five defenders and four midfielders in  a system totally devoid of any attacking intent. Tom Field was demoted to the bench. Jota and Josh Clarke sat along side him, with Scott Hogan helping make up the numbers. Wing backs without wings. I’ve seen more flare and width on a kipper tie. Brentford invited Chelsea to come at them and it was a tactical decision that was doomed to fail.

We will be going all-out to win the game” promised Dean on Thursday. His team and their tactics – a Marinus era display of sitting deep then passing it sideways and backwards rather than forwards – gave the impression that we would be going all out to sneak a turgid draw.

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Was this Dean’s game plan, left on the Stamford Bridge steps?

It was total exhibition stuff from Chelsea. Rather than Diego Costa, I was half expecting Antonio Conte to bring on the Harlem Globetrotters in the second half .

The opening forty-five was so abject from Brentford that the biggest cheer from the visiting fans came at half time with the news that Paul Hayes had put Wycombe 2-0 up at Spurs. Along with the likes of Aaron Pierre, Myles Weston and Sam Wood (Marcus Bean and Sam Saunders having to be content with a place on the bench) The Swans giving a perfect lesson in how to take on a below strength team at the business end of the Premier League in their own back yard.

I heard supporters berating Romaine Sawyers and Josh McEachran – claiming the latter had been more interested in his recent ‘golf photos’. Neither had great games, granted, but they were as much a product of the tactical decisions going on around them.

Tom Field was dropped. Why, Dean? Why? Even if he was as tired as you made out, at least start him for an hour then bring on Barbet for the defensive role once we are ahead. Given the line he’d spouted two weeks earlier about trusting his players in regards to ‘not picking’ Scott Hogan (because of course, that was your decision and not at all influenced) then why his sudden reversal? Tom had absolutely nailed that position in the last few months and this was as big a slap in the face as a manager/head coach (whatever) could deliver.

There was no attacking intent on the left. Barbet either too scared, or simply not allowed, to try and take it forward. No width on the right. Josh Clarke and Jota were both overlooked in favour of a 5-4-1 formation in which all 5 sat back and all 4 passed it sideways. And backwards. It was an open invitation for Chelsea to come at us. It was an invitation which required no RVSP and no second chance. It was an invitation which came with a party bag marked ‘goals’. Only Daniel Bentley and the linesman’s flag keeping the first half score respectable.

It was abundantly clear what was going to happen. Invite them on and pay the inevitable price.

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Pre kick off. Yet worse was to come. Much worse

Just look at the way the two managers/head coaches (whatever) performed. Smith, cutting a solitary figure standing motionless on the edge of his technical area. He was a man reverting to the same abject characteristics of his ill-fated predecessor, Marinus Dijkhuizen. He was a man displaying all the passion of a waterlogged stats graph and about as much technical ability.

His opposite number Antonio Conte was like a man possessed. A demented conductor, directing an orchestra of understudies. There he was, driving them on with every gesticulation. A man constantly encouraging his team and barking out orders. This, despite them being two up against a side whose sole purpose seemed to be ‘don’t lose’.

As for the Scott Hogan decision, who knows what was going on there? If there was any chance of taking anything out of the game he should have started. Or been dropped. There’s no room or place for wishy-washy nonsense. Whatever point either he or Dean are trying to prove at the moment is not in the best interests of this team.

The opening twenty minutes of the second period showed just what would happen if we decided to cross the half way line. Attacking the Shed end that housed the 6,000 Brentford fans we began the half the way we should have started the first.

And then it fizzled out as Chelsea started to play again.

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An impressive arena. A less than impressive performance

Only poor finishing and Dan Bentley had kept the scoreline vaguely respectable in that first period. With Romaine Sawyers (whose role yesterday eludes me) unable to go forward,  three static central midfielders passing it amongst themselves and the defence stretched (how can five men get stretched?) the only question was how many Chelsea would get. That it was only two, and eventually four, is a miracle in itself.

In Matthew we trust” , I wrote earlier this month. Well I stick by that. The problem being his trusted lieutenants. The players are there. The talent is there. The motivation and formation isn’t.

For gosh sake, I could have done a better job at motivating them and setting up yesterday . If that was a team designed to go ‘all-out to win the game’ (Dean’s words, not mine) then perhaps he needs a new dictionary or coaching manual.

We haven’t got a divine right to roll over anybody before us. Likewise, Chelsea are where they are for good reason. Roman’s roubles have allowed them to build a squad that is sweeping all before it in the Premier League. But if our ultimate fate was to lose, at least show a bit of passion. A bit of fight . Make a half-arsed attempt to try and get something out of the game instead of trying to chase it when it was already lost.

The most attacking intent shown by anybody vaguely connected with Brentford was from the paunchy geriatrics in the upper tier at full time, as a crazy punch up ensued amongst some agitated supporters.

Instead, we were left with the aforementioned stat of the day from Standard Sport still holding true. We’ve never had a better chance of putting this one to bed. Instead, there was no kapow from Dean Smith.

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Nick Bruzon

Happy with the cup draw? A chance for payback awaits.

10 Jan

The FA Cup fourth round draw has been made and Brentford will face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It is a draw that immediately evoked memories of the same stage back in 2013 where only a late equaliser from Fernando Torres kept The Blues alive as they forced a replay following a 2-2 at Griffin Park.  That second game was a much more one sided affair as 0-0 at half time turned to 4-0 in favour of a Chelsea side who would eventually make it all the way to the semis before coming unstuck against Manchester City.

Just yesterday morning when writing about the forthcoming draw, it was noted on these pages: Trumping the likes of Manchester City and Sunderland whilst running Southampton and Chelsea more than close. Oh, for a chance to do it once more.

Ask and you shall receive. If only wishes were always granted this easily.

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We faced Chelsea back in 2013. 2-2 at Griffin Park

Back then, Chelsea were Champions of Europe although that’s a far cry these days following last season’s failure to even make the Europa League (10th, wasn’t it – so not singing that song for the next few weeks would be nice). That said, nobody could deny they’ve taken the bull by the horns this time around with Antonio Conte at the helm, Diego Costa scoring for fun and their defence a fantasy football manager’s dream. Another clean sheet? Don’t mind if I do.

Brentford, on the other hand, are holding our own in the Championship but consistency is probably still the biggest challenge. With rumours about Scott Hogan’s future circling daily like vultures just waiting to feast on a carcass, could our star man even be wearing the red and white by the time we make the short trip down the road for another West London derby.

Indeed, this must be the first time in some time that we’ve played games against Fulham, QPR and Chelsea all in the same season.Where’s Luis Melville when you need him to dig out the stats on the last time that happened? (Luis, if you are reading…..).

We haven’t got a chance? Or have we? Could that cup magic deliver another wonderful story?

I have no doubt the away end will be sold out. We took 6,000 Back in 2013 and surely similar numbers will travel this time, ticket allocation permitting. Certainly the Bees will inject some atmosphere into what felt very much like a library last time out (watch out for those ‘official flag wavers’) whilst I’m sure David Luiz will warrant special attention.

Nobody at Griffin Park has forgotten what happened to Jake Reeves in the replay as the youngster came out on the wrong end of an assault (won’t dignify it with the word ‘foul’ or ‘challenge’) from the Brazilian.

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That is, of course, if Luiz and the rest of Chelsea’s first team even play in this one. With the FA Cup falling down the pecking order for many of the, so-called, ‘big’ clubs might we see a less familiar line up? Even John Terry played on Sunday against Peterborough (before being promptly red carded).

Likewise, the tie only comes a few days prior to The Blues’ trip to Liverpool for a game with  a team who are currently their closest rivals for the Premier League title. Is it wishful thinking to imagine that could play into our hands? That minds will be focussed more on that than a cup tie with a Brentford team who, on paper, they should win the floor with?

Let’s hope so. As we all know ‘on paper’ counts for nothing in this sort of game. Last time out it took Chelsea over two hours of football before they were finally able to take the lead against the Bees whilst let’s not forget the fourth round 2015. Bradford City, of course, coming from 2-0 down at Stamford Bridge to eventually emerge with an incredible 4-2 victory.

Being honest, the only slight down side to all of this is feeling a little disappointed that we’ve been denied the opportunity to visit a new ground. With all due respect to Chelsea, we’ve been there and done that. Until the Bees are regularly competing in the Premier League (one day, one day) then these sort of games are the only chance we get to mix it with football’s biggest names. Wonderful though another trip to Stamford Bridge will be, the chance to play one of the Manchester teams or even the likes of Arsenal would have been incredible.

Then again, there’s always the fifth round for that.

See you there. I can’t wait.

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees miss out, fans rally round Manchester United man and birthday wishes. A week in football

20 Nov

Brentford went down 3-2 at Blackburn despite Scott Hogan grabbing the first of his brace quicker than most people can spell antidisestablishmentarianism. Newcastle United are now 9 points clear of third place whilst Dwight Gayle, also with a brace as Leeds were despatched 2-0, occupies the penthouse suite at the Championship leading scorer hotel (i.e. he’s number 1). Norwich City made it four in a row – defeats that is. Their ignominy being compounded by this being at the hands of Ian Holloway and his QPR side who now sit a point ahead of our super Bees. At the bottom, it’s business as usual. Blackburn, Wigan and Rotherham continue to make up the final three.

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

As ever, we start with Brentford where defeat at Ewood Park was hard to swallow. Despite Scott Hogan making it 9 and 10 for the season, those expecting us to ‘bounce back’ after Fulham were left ruing a lost chance. Indeed, it seems we’re struggling against the less fancied teams.

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That said, away from the action it was good to see Beesotted main man Billy Grant find the pub in Blackburn. Presumably, those aren’t wasps?

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Talking of which, (and this really IS the last comment on the crest confusion) anybody thinking our new logo looks like a wasp may want to refine their opinion. Or start supporting Alloa Athletic. Now THIS is a wasp (with thanks to @sarangipani for this spot).

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As a final Bees related though, Bernard Quackenbush just can’t let this one go. And rightly so, quite frankly. This time, the normally accurate BBC being the ones to feel his ire.

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Instead, the main story of the week has been the furore surrounding Manchester United and England man Wayne Rooney. Regular readers to this page will know that the Old Trafford outfit are frequent visitors (largely thanks to the black humour in their ongoing struggle to pick up where Sir Alex Ferguson left off). Yet, for once, I must spring to Rooney’s defence.

Seriously, what a fuss over nothing. What a ridiculous attempt by the press to once again knock the England team and kick the players that they’ll be the first to be fawning over when something goes well. It all started when he was photographed at a wedding party and then made to apologise like a naughty schoolboy….

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Fortunately, most people could see through the sham. From the Brentford angle, none other than Bluetones guitarist Adam Devlin and Irish international Alan Judge were quick to weigh in with their thoughts. The former being first out of the blocks with a double whammy.

 

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Manchester United legend Phil Neville also added his own voice to proceedings in defence of his former team mate.

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But it wouldn’t be the weekly round up without mention of Manchester United failing to hit the heights.  With local rivals Manchester City winning on the road at Crystal Palace thanks to a brace from Yaya Toure, the Telegraph were quick to post the following statistic.

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Elsewhere, the peril of wearing ludicrous luminous kits was highlighted – quite literally.

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We’ve spoken this week about the ongoing fall out at Charlton Athletic. Following a group of supporters confronting owner Roalnd Duchatelet in his home town of St. Truiden on the occasion of his 70th birthday meal, the Addicks were taking no chances this time around.

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‘Football on 5’ host George Riley put us in mind of one of the most favourite football cliches whilst preparing for the weekend’s show.

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With it , a cheap excuse to crowbar in another look at ‘the wellness scale’ of typical shot methods. I love this but can take no credit for producing what is a work of genius.

 

Wellness scale

Those of us who didn’t make it to Ewood Park were later afforded the opportunity to watch another 3-2 game. Namely, Tottenham’s home win over West Ham on Saturday night. Like our own game, the visitors took the lead before a soft penalty turned the scores.

BBC Radio London man Phil Parry was on hand to witness the action, where our own Billy Reeves laid down a gauntlet.

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And the answer, according to Billy today, saw the Children In Need coffers swelled further thanks to the ding-dong antics on BBC Radio London.

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They weren’t the only station reporting on this one, obviously. Ian Moose from Talksport was also present for another combo of commentary, banging on about pies and referencing ‘my good friend’ (insert name of player) – the regular form if his social media feed is to be believed. Mr Moose’s address book must be fit to burst whilst I dread to think what his birthday card bill is.

Friendship couldn’t get in the way of the result, however, as West Ham lost out at the death.

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And finally, on the same subject, regular followers of the Twitter scene may be aware of Ian offering what seem to be daily birthday wishes to one of his good footballing friends. Shameless name dropping or simply a public service keeping us abreast of all matters age related?

So it’s time for Ian’s football friend birthday of the week.  In a column that sees us looking at Manchester United, it is perhaps appropriate that this week Ian offers birthday wishes to his friend : Paul Scholes.

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Nick Bruzon

Tony Craig day is here as an inevitable pun is released into the wild.

30 Jul

Brentford travel to Millwall this afternoon for Tony Craig’s thoroughly deserved testimonial. Elsewhere Championship rivals Wolves, a club we have focussed on a lot more in recent years, have finally succumbed to the almost inevitable in providing the most expected of bad punnery.

First up, Tony Craig.  His transfer to Millwall in July of last year was a particularly disappointing one. As we’ve noted previously, he was one of these players who gave his all in a Brentford shirt over three seasons in which he was one of our standout players.

Tony bounced back from a dubious red card administered by Keith Stroud during the infamous battle of Bramall Lane in the year of ‘that penalty’. He was a colossus at the heart of the defence during our promotion season in which he scooped the player’s player of the year award.

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Tony – as seen on the club site after helping the Bees to promotion

One particular game from that campaign, home to Oldham Athletic and just into Warbs’ managerial tenure following the departure of Uwe, was notable for one of the most incredible pieces of defending I’ve ever seen, described at the time thus:

On the only occasions Athletic really threatened, Tony Craig was there to mop things up. The highlight of which being a 5 on 1 breakaway in the first half where he stood his ground, kept standing and did sufficient to fend off the Oldham hordes. Lesser players could have been forgiven for lunging in but not Tony. It was my moment of the game – until the goal itself”.

There was no fuss and no showmanship with Tony for Brentford. That’s not to say he wasn’t skillful but he just got on with his game. No more so was the difference in attitude between him and the more outrageous players seen than in the Championship fixture with Wolves at Griffin Park back in November 2014.

That was the one where, you may recall, Bakary Sako was due to play against us in golden boots, encrusted with Swarovski crystals. Tony was the complete opposite. The anti-Sako, if you will. For one terrace wag, whose identity I’ll protect, the sight of even neon teale or electric pink boots on a Brentford player will usually elicit a cry of, “Rubbish. I like Tony Craig. Sensible, no nonsense footwear.”

Tony played the full 90 minutes that day as Wolves and Sako were locked out, leaving TW8 on the wrong end of a 4-0 thrashing. It was part of that #Novemberkings phase (please ‘official’, let’s never use hashtags again) that saw Warbs win manager of the month, Tony feature prominently and the Bees get within a sniff of the table top.

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Bakary Sako’s boots failed to sparkle

Indeed, his absence from the side in the back end of the season coincided with some defensive howlers but, more importantly, a seeming fragility across the defensive area of the team when, perhaps, his experienced head would have been the perfect tonic. Whilst he remained available for selection, Warbs kept faith. with his chosen two.

I can’t knock him for that and the end result was Brentford reaching the Play-Offs. Itself, a phenomenal achievement when viewed independently. However, I do also wonder had Tony stayed in the team, might we actually have gone one better and achieved ‘automatic’?

We’ll never know but what better way to celebrate then by getting along to Millwall this afternoon? Admission is just £10 for adults and, more importantly, Tony is using the proceeds to make a donation to Headley Court, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre which treats injured members of the Armed forces.

The other Bees news is the just announced (Saturday morning) signing of Callum Elder on loan from Leicester City for the season. Filling the gap at left back made by Jake Bidwell’s departure for Loftus Road earlier this month, the move was one which had been very widely anticipated.

Fair play to the rumour mill, it has been spot on this season. Either they’ve upped their game or the Brentford press team have become leakier than the Fulham defence. Regardless, this can only be good news on the playing front and nice to see a change from the normal ‘signing photo’. This time around, we’ve gone for the rarely seen line up of the shirt  / contract combo.

And talking of Wolves earlier ( a link made with all the subtly of Bakary Sako’s boots), it has been announced overnight that the Molineux club have parted company with / sacked manager Kenny Jackett.

This is an inevitable part of modern football life. Moreso in the Championship where managers seem to have the longevity of a cornetto in a greenhouse. Yet, I feel a particular affinity to Wolves.

Despite the initial mocking from a minority of their fans in regards to how big they were compared to ‘little old Brentford’ (somebody should use that one) it’s fair to see we’ve given as good as we’ve got over a wonderful last three seasons.

There was the 2013/14 League One campaign where, despite a record number of points for the Bees and that huge unbeaten run, Wolves stormed to the title with a final total of 103. In any other season our own 94 would have been more than good enough for top spot.

However, the following two campaigns have seen Brentford fare better than Wolves, positionally. 2014/15 saw our two clubs locked on 78 points, with the Bees reaching the play-offs in fifth and Wolves coming so close to edging out Ipswich on that incredible final afternoon. In the end, it was a goal difference gap too far but 7th place still not one to be sniffed at for a newly promoted club.

Last season saw a 7(seven) point gap split the teams with Dean Smith’s team ending it in 9th and Wolves 14th. The moral high ground for Brentford and some consolation for the £250 bet proceeds lost as a result of our being beaten (deservedly so) to that League One title.

So it was sadness that I woke this morning to the news of Kenny Jackett’s departure. Undoubtedly a huge club with big ambitions  – whether new or otherwise – (hello, is that the marketing team?) he has perhaps been an inevitable casualty of failure to make an immediate return to the top flight.

On the other hand, a rare opportunity for lazy headline writers and lazier pun makers. Chin up Kenny, I’m sure you’ll get a chance to go again soon.

No jacket required kenny original

No words required

Can Brentford keep the Wolves from the door?

23 Feb

Another day, another game. With Brentford’s form going downhill faster than Eddie the Eagle, we face a Wolves team who find themselves in a similar position to the Bees. Both locked on 40 points in the middle of the Championship table, current performances are a mile away from what supporters of both clubs have been used to in recent seasons. Can The Bees turn it around tonight? Or will Kenny Jackett inspire his team to inflict more pain on the Griffin Park faithful?

The current stats don’t make great reading for Brentford. Whilst I did something similar in the build up to the Derby game, looking at the BBC match preview (who give us the first detail below) it highlighted a huge part of the current challenge we are facing.

No Championship side has faced more shots on target this season than Brentford (168).

The Bees have conceded 10 goals in their last 3 league games.

Only Fulham and the three teams in the dropzone have conceded more goals than us.

2016 has seen us lose 7(seven) out of our 9 games.

Only David Button, Harlee Dean, Jake Bidwell and Alan Judge remain from those who featured in the 4-0 thrashing of Wolves at Griffn Park last season. Moses Odubajo, Tony Craig, Jonathan Douglas, Jon Toral, Toumani Diagouraga, Alex Pritchard, Andre Gray, Stuart Dallas and Jota are no longer with the club for a variety of well documented reasons.

This was only last season

That makes the afternoon complete, revenge for last year” opined Mark Burridge when Andre Gray’s wonderful strike made it 3-0. Yet still, there was more. Who else but Jota , doing what only he could do late on. It was a wonderful performance against a Wolves team who, the season previous, had run out 3-0 winners at Griffin Park en-route to deservedly steamrollering all comers for the League One title

Watching the highlights, the difference in confidence and playing style from then to now is just world’s apart. Yes, we’ve had to change the make-up of our team but seeing the class of 2014-15 in action just emphasises what a tough job their replacements have faced . Gone is the excitement, gone is the open attacking play, gone is the feeling that when we put our minds to it we could carve teams open for fun.

4-0 Wolves Dallas goal

View from the terrace – Dallas does Wolves for 4-0 last season

Yet if we are currently struggling to recover from a dip in form, then the same could be said of Wolves. Talking to supporter Steve Darby (whose help in tonight’s ‘kit obsessive’ programme article is much appreciated ), he tells me : “This has been a frustrating season for us too. Injuries haven’t helped, neither has the owner putting the club up for sale. We are in limbo with no real investment”.

Morale seems low whilst formwise they haven’t won in 6 (3L 3D). Indeed, it all sounds a bit like the build up to the Derby County game where the visitors were on an equally poor run. There, David Button kept us in it before Alan Judge gave Bees fans hope. Sadly, it wasn’t to be as the Bees turned 1-0 on 80minutes into a 1-3 defeat.

I can’t call it this evening. A clean sheet would be a start. But for David Button, Saturday could well have seen a 7(seven) goal bracketing. He was just that good.

Genuinely, I expected a reaction against Derby. It just wasn’t to be. I’m not sure how Dean Smith can pick the lads up from here but I hope he does . I hate to sound negative about our performances and I’ll be giving it as loud as anybody in support when I’m out there tonight. But, also, I’m realistic.

Quite simply, we haven’t matched the standards from last year or earlier in the season when Lee Carsley had the Bees’ engines purring like a contented kitten .

We have to get out of first gear soon. Let’s hope it begins tonight !

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Bees fans make their feelings known on Twitter

Nick Bruzon

Killer Owls slaughter Bees in a Valentine’s massacre

14 Feb

Brentford fell to a second straight defeat as Sheffield Wednesday inflicted a 4-0 thrashing on the 10 man Bees. Following last week’s reverse at Brighton, this made it 7(seven) goals against without reply as we were left dead in the water after referee Scott Duncan showed straight red shown to Yoann Barbet in just the fifth minute.

In a repeat of the corresponding home game earlier in the season, Lucas João grabbed a last minute winner. This time, though, there was no question as to who deserved the points. The encounter at Griffin Park may have seen things end with a hard fought 2-1 in favour of the visitors but yesterday’s result was one which, if we are being honest, they’ll probably be disappointed not to have ended with a bracketing.

If we’re being equally honest, their cause was massively helped by the sending off. Barbet was adjudged to have brought down Gary Hooper with the Wednesday player clean through on goal after running onto a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). It may have been Valentine’s weekend but this was one card that Yoann won’t have wanted to receive. I’ve watched it and rewatched it yet my own opinion remains wooly.

Undoubtedly, the Brentford man has raised a hand to Hooper’s shoulder, to which the striker needed no further invitation to go straight down. Was it a professional foul? Was the reaction exaggerated? Who knows. Certainly not the ref and one can sympathise with Dean Smith’s assertion that, “I don’t believe the referee can make the decision. I think he guessed. He’s directly behind it, 40 yards away. I thought it was a poor decision.”

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Yoann Barbet – his sending off left Dean Smith seeing red

Put it this way. Had the same thing happened at Griffin Park, we’d have been baying for blood and a red card. There’d have been uproar had it not been given. That said, the ref had enough time to think about it – such was the length he had to run in order to flourish his card – so could at least have consulted his linesman and used any available help to make a potentially game changing decision.

Guess or not, Hooper had been in a great position and with the Bees forced into a rejig (Jack O’Connell coming on for the recalled Konstantin Kerschbaumer) parity lasted until just the 12th minute. Fernando Forestieri’s header giving the hosts an early lead.

Hooper doubled it with a great strike after a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood claiming the assist for that one as Hooper ignored the presence of Jack O’Connell to fire home with a sweet first touch. It was a cracking strike and deserving of all plaudits – such was the technique and precision employed.

It was game over just before half time. A long ball over the top (sound familiar?) reached Kieran Lee in the box. The Wednesday midfielder bamboozled Harlee Dean whose non-challenge was, at best, an attempt to jump into his opponent after Jack O’Connell had been beaten for the cross in.

Yet despite a marginally better second-half showing from the Bees , it was Sheffield Wednesday who would eventually extend the lead further. A long ball threaded through the midfield (hey, at least it wasn’t over the top) found Lucas João. With Jack and Harlee ambling (now there’s an idea for a Partridge TV show – “Ambling with Jack and Harlee”), David Button could only help push it into his own net and will, perhaps, be disappointed with that one.

4-0. Game over. Ouch.

Not even Mark Burridge can salvage this one

There is one school of thought that would suggest the referee ruined this one. The Bees had been the stronger team in the opening spell before it became 10 against 11 and were left with no hope from that point. True enough, but to be cut open so easily and so consistently was nothing but shambolic. Blame the ref, absolutely, but we need to look inwards too. Certainly, we gave our opponents a huge helping hand with what could politely be called ‘schoolboy defending’.

Likewise, take nothing away from Wednesday. They are where they are on merit and will present a major threat to anybody with play-off aspirations. Certainly those are aspirations that Brentford can no longer harbour – even Ciaran Brett from the club media team admitted during the game that those pre-match claims had been “optimistic” .

So what of the Bees? Our current form is starting to worry and the current statistical trend doesn’t make great reading. We’ve only scored 6 goals in our last 8 games – and 3 of those came up at Preston, our only win all year. Indeed, yesterday’s result means we’ve lost 6 out of our last 8 matches whilst the ‘winning run’ stretches to 5 out of 18.

With the top of the table out of reach, and Brentford now occupying 13th, should we be worried about the other end? It sounds ludicrous to even mention such an option and a 14 point gap (combined with ’less bad’ goal difference) should be too much with 15 games to go.

post SW table bbc

The BBC table shows us firmly ensconced mid-table. For now

More, its just disappointing to see the great work put in by Lee Carsley and the squad, where we were within spitting distance of the top 6 after the disaster of ‘The Marinus Experiment’, now falling away amidst further departures and a poor run of results.

Nobody has a divine right to be any good. Nobody has a divine right to promotion. Nobody stays up by default. You need to work at these things and earn them. We did so much of that last season and absolutely deserved what we got, despite a team that many suggested were ‘punching above their weight’. Personally, I thought such a suggestion to be disrespectful. We were a team that thrived on spirit and skill who could, arguably should, even have gone one better.

Now we have made the decision to dismantle and rebuild. On-field, the transfer policy that is being driven by our co-directors of football is certainly open to debate. I get that money talks and we can’t force players who don’t want to stay to remain here. Likewise, many talk about this being a longer term strategy to keep us financially viable until the Lionel Road stadium is able to be built.

All true. Yet few could deny that the change in morale, motivation and performance make this seem a world away from where we were 12 months ago. For those football fans whose week is based around the last result and looking forward to the following game (surely the point of going?), it’s a tough place to be at present.

The next few weeks, let alone the next few months, are going to be very interesting indeed.

Nick Bruzon

Sparkly boots, club records and poison chalices – a brief history of (recent) time

21 Oct

Brentford take on Wolves at Molineux tonight. That’s the simple fact but to supporters there’s so much more to it. Over the last few seasons, games against Wolves have been at the forefront of those that Brentford fans have been looking forward to as the stand outs on the fixture list.

Wolves, of course, are a club with a huge fanbase, a cracking stadium and a great reputation. It is the sort of set up most teams could only aspire to yet, if we are being honest, they haven’t always lived up to that reputation on the pitch. No moreso than back in 2013/14 when they found themselves alongside Brentford in League One.

That, of course, the season that we finally escaped the lower tiers with a club record 94 points and went on that humungous unbeaten midseason run. One which was, of all teams, ended by Wolves at Griffin Park as they made no mistake when it counted – running out 3-0 victors in February’s top of the table clash. Whilst our two teams stayed neck and neck for most of the campaign, their class eventually showed and they deservedly scooped the title with a staggering 104 points.

Even then, they still played key role in our promotion. A 6-4 victory (only one short of doing it with brackets- I’d have probably self-combusted at 7(seven)) over Rotherham meaning that Steve Evans team would be unable to catch us in third place. At the same time, ensuring that the post Preston pitch invasion hadn’t been a somewhat premature and embarrassing one.

Confirmation of Wolves beating Rotherham saw us officially promoted after our own win over Preston

Confirmation of Wolves beating Rotherham saw us officially promoted from League One

That said, prior to and even during the early part of that season, there were a lot of sneering and arrogant comments from a small part of the opposition support. That’s football but the simple fact was that whatever their past and size, Wolves were playing the likes of Brentford for a good reason – they hadn’t been good enough so had suffered successive relegation.

If we are being equally honest, a massive respect seemed to grow between our two clubs. Nobody was stupid enough to pretend that, historically, Wolves aren’t one of English football’s bigger teams. Indeed, their most recent stint in the top flight had only ended in 2011/12 after three seasons. Yet on the pitch we were going neck and neck.

Then, last season, it all went bonkers. After a slow start to Championship life, Mark Warburton’s Bees hit overdrive and a 4-0 thumping of Wolves at Griffin Park was enough to take us up to third place aswell as securing him the poison chalice of ‘Manager of the Month’ . It was a game played in a stunning atmosphere – before, during and after – and one which more than lived up to the hype that surrounded Bakary Sako’s crystal encrusted golden boots.

Bakary Sako's boots failed to sparkle

Bakary Sako’s boots failed to sparkle

Former Bees boss Leroy Rosenior nailed things on the BBC Football League Show later that evening when discussing the game with Manish. He mentioned that a supporter had approached him the previous weekend saying, “Leroy, who would have thought we’d be beating Fulham at home, be challenging for a place in the Premier League, have a new stadium around the corner after you managed us.”

As Manish commented, “The only way was up from there”.

Whilst the reverse encounter saw Wolves run out 2-1 winners the following month, both sides kept their form despite tough fixtures and (for us) the frustration of Village-gate. Indeed, that crazy final day of the season that saw Derby and Ipswich self-destruct, allowed Brentford into the play-offs whilst, at one point in the afternoon, the results were also going Wolves’ way. In the end, they finished 7th(seventh), missing out on goal difference. However, for both our teams it had been one of the most exciting seasons on record, given the chance to test ourselves at a higher level.

Coming bang up to date, Brentford haven’t had the brightest of starts for reasons that have been well documented on these pages already. That said, victory on Saturday at home to Rotherham United sees us only four points behind a Wolves team who currently occupy 12th place. And with our own trip to hapless Charlton on Saturday, victory tonight would be a priceless one in reigniting our own campaign.

Can we do it? Despite all the good form over our recent campaigns, the Bees have only picked up one point and one goal from Molineux whilst we’ve been trading blows. Those two seasons may have had more incidents than some club’s entire histories but we have found the away trip a tough one

Then again, will the pressure of expectation show on a home side who got humped 4-2 at the weekend and have lost over a third of their league games already? Being honest, I’d take the draw. Being realistic, I haven’t got a clue which way this one is going to go.

At 7.45pm, we find out.

Alan Judge got both goals on Saturday. Can he keep up that strike rate?

Alan Judge got both goals on Saturday. Can he keep up that strike rate?

Nick Bruzon

Can Pele inspire Brentford or will Wednesday escape to victory ?

26 Sep

Brentford fans were given the chance to warm up for the weekend football ahead of the game with Sheffield Wednesday by enjoying Friday night’s derby between Fulham and Queens Park Rangers. And we’ve got a visit from footballing (and cinematic) royalty today, kind of…

But beginning at Craven Cottage, it really was one of those awful yet compelling choices. Our two local rivals going head-to-head with no way that both could lose. Whilst, ordinarily, you’d hope for a red card laden 0-0 in this sort of game, if one side has to win then at least it’s nice to see the other on the back end of a spanking. And what a thrashing was administered as Fulham ran out 4-0 victors.

The Rangers website described it as “another night to forget for QPR at Craven Cottage” although I much preferred Bees fan and Bluetones’ guitarist Adam Devlin’s take on things:

Adam shares what we were all thinking

Adam shares what we were all thinking

There was a debatable/condescending (delete as applicable) point made in the Sky commentary that it was, “The great West London derby” alongside the semi-apologetic caveat “with all due respect to Brentford”. Anybody with half an eye on football knows full well that the phrase ‘with all due respect to’ means anything but. A polite way of saying,”we are miles better than you ”.

Aside from my own loyalties to the Bees, a half full away end and a crowd of 19,784 compared to the 23,271 present for our own game in April suggest otherwise. Those visiting supporters who did travel provided all the excitement of a children’s magic trick as the TV coverage suggested a somewhat muted atmosphere. This was less,”The great West London derby” and more ‘The Great Soprendo’ (kids, ask your dads).

On the plus side, at least Fulham now know what it feels like to score four goals at Craven Cottage.

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The stats don’t lie….

And so on to all matters Sheffield Wednesday. Not that there’s too much to say at the moment. Brentford supporters will, hopefully, have been buoyed but the updates from the management team during the week at the fans’ forum, along with the news that one of the dirty dozen (that’s the injury list) is due to return. Marinus confirmed on Thursday evening that James Tarkowski was over the knock that had kept him out of the game at Middlesbrough and the win over Preston North End in our previous outing.

The visit of Wednesday is the second of three home games in a row for the Bees and a victory today, whilst by no means a guarantee, will take us to exactly the same position as we were in last season – 11 points after 8 games. It would take us past our opponents, level with Fulham and just one point off QPR (and the teams currently in the play offs) with a game in hand.

Whilst it is still a bit early into the campaign to make an informed decision on our prospects for the season overall (only after ten games can we say that the table has ‘taken shape’) today would seem to be the perfect example of – cliché alert – taking every game as it comes. The short-term rewards for a win are tangible and some which should, one would hope, add to the already charged atmosphere at Griffin Park.

And finally. Pele. To many, the greatest footballer of all time. To me, moreso. The greatest footballer of all time abut also the greatest footballer-cum-actor who starred in the quintessential ‘football/POW escape’ crossover movie, Escape To Victory.

I’ve waxed lyrical about this film, many times so will spare the regular reader another lecture – suffice to say it comfortably nestles in my all time top ten films alongside the likes of ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, ‘Star Wars’ and the Vin Diesel classic ‘xXx’.

Pele - a footballing and acting giant

Pele – a footballing and acting giant

So imagine my excitement to read on the official site that he will be the guest of honour at the training ground today for the Pelé cup. This, as the club have announced, being “A special tournament honouring one of the world’s greatest ever players and featuring some of the best up-and-coming talent in Europe.”

Sadly, they then went on to announce that this tournament is, “Behind closed doors and strictly no admittance.”

I have to be honest, initial feelings were of immense disappointment. Why plaster this news all over the cub site on a Friday afternoon but then make it clear we couldn’t come along without prior arrangement? A footballing demi-God will be walking amongst us, just not the supporters. Were they worried we might witness the latest round of the training ground injury jinx?

It seemed to be the equivalent of that moment on TV’s Bullseye during the show’s finale – The Gamble. The competing couple had stuffed it up. The cash, the ‘Bendy Bullys’ and the washing machine or decanter set from the prize board had all been frittered away in pursuit of a speedboat.

Then Jim Bowen would give the ultimate kick in the nuts and utter the immortal lines, “I hate to do this to you, but let’s look at what you could have won”.

Out would come the obligatory boat, but there was no way anybody was getting near it. In footballing terms, Pele is within our grasp but strictly ‘off limits’.

Bullseye - another pair try to win Jim Bowen's speedboat

Bullseye – another pair try to win Jim Bowen’s speedboat

Thinking more about it this morning, I can only imagine the security nightmare that an open house ‘meet and greet’ with Pele would have caused. Our stewards are indifferent enough as it is at times on matchday, let alone with an undetermined number of people turning up unannounced at Jersey Road. Equally, this could have been as much at his request as the clubs.

That said, there are ways and means of saying things. Why share this exciting news but then make it clear in such blunt terms that we aren’t welcome? Moreso, given the open house policy we’ve all become so used to in the past.

Of course the club are going to want to share such news this but there are ways and means. If you are going to big up this sort of news, at least explain why it is being done in private or why not even have held a competition to allow a few supporters along?

Being honest, given our game with Sheffield Wednesday I can only imagine the climax of the tournament would cut across this anyway. Whilst the thought of meeting Pelé is, of course, an incredible one I’d rather be at Griffin Park with my friends.

Instead, I will simply remain in awe of the great man, think about ‘what might have been’ and perhaps crack out ‘that’ DVD once more.

A goal to rival the 'Ossie flick'

A goal to rival the ‘Ossie flick’

Nick Bruzon