Tag Archives: Adam Virgo

The good, the bad and the ugly. A week in football as Adam nails deadline day and Jim does his thing

5 Sep

Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw that featured the greatest miss ever seen at Griffin Park. Huddersfield remain top of the pile with 13 points from 15 whilst Newcastle United have begun their slow, inexorable climb to the top of the Championship table having disposed of Brighton at St.James Park.

Erm. Sorry. That was last weekend. International break means there has been no Championship action and so there’s no Monday morning round up of the last 7(seven) day’s action. In a nutshell or otherwise. Still, at least we had the excitement of Sunday evening’s England game. Please note: your definition of excitement may vary etc. etc. etc

Yet in a week that saw Beesotted do it live in the pub and Jim White getting over excited in a TV studio, the arrival of both Deadline Day and the Checkatrade Trophy mean there are still a few things to look back on from the world of social media that you might have missed.

Rather than Brentford, let’s just start with the last thoughts on the new look JPT.

If that was the new look trophy in four tweets, this next one summed it up rather neatly.

Still, with the Checkatrade Trophy out of the way (quite possibly for all time based on the reaction from supporters) we were free to move on to Deadline Day. The annual attempt by the media to fill 12 hours of dead air with a lot of cutaways to empty stadia and in-studio shouting. One can only imagine what it would do to Jim White if he were to see something genuinely exciting rather than a taxi (possibly containing a footballer) arriving at an otherwise deserted Newcastle United.

These got things off to a good start, though.

Even frozen food magnates Iceland (other frozen food stores are available, too) got in on the act with a cheap bit of sledging when it transpired that Jack Wilshere’s future lay not at Arsenal or Roma but, rather, a toss up between Crystal Palace and Bournemouth.

It wasn’t long before Jim appeared on our screens. Although not, perhaps, in the style that many people were expecting. As for that ‘cheeky wink’ to camera….

Brentford did some great business. Nobody left and the Alan Judge to Newcastle / Scott Hogan to Hull / Leicester City stories proving to be nothing more than rumours.Whilst Walsall fans were, not surprisingly, left unhappy by our acquisition of Rico Henry it seems they weren’t alone.

There was equal trouble over at Fulham where, it seems, their signing is done in either a primary school classroom or a dolls house.

But it was none other than Adam Devlin – Brentford supporter and Bluetones guitarist – who cut to the very essence of Deadline Day in one sentence .

That was the week in Championship football. Of sorts. It’s going to be a painful six days until Saturday and the trip to Brighton comes along for us Bees. Moreso given we’ve got the memory of that England game still hanging around like a bad smell.

So, rather than any more discourse on the trip to Slovakia, let’s look back to days gone by. When a reporter fell off a ladder. Live on air. Although a great save from none other than Jim White…..

Nick Bruzon 

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Can we just go straight to Plan B?

27 Sep

Mark Warburton may have a Plan B up at Rangers (I don’t know, I don’t follow the Scottish Championship that closely) but he famously didn’t have one at Brentford. Marinus, on the other hand, does but as Sheffield Wednesday left Griffin Park with all three points yesterday, Brentford fans were left wondering why Plan A doesn’t seem to be working.

For the seventh time in eight league games we fell behind before, as we did last Saturday, stepping up our game considerably in the Second half. But unlike the game against Preston, where we stormed back to a 2-1 win, this time it was Sheffield Wednesday who achieved that scoreline – a 90th minute goal on the break from Lucas João being the ultimate difference between the two teams.

View from the terrace - the HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate at that point

View from the terrace. The HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate ….at that point

We can take positives from the way the team played for the majority of the second half, despite being down to ten men. The penalty awarded for James Tarkowski’s foul on Atdhe Nuhiu with less than 40 minutes on the clock saw the giant centre forward stroke it past David Button as well as, eventually, earning a red card for the fit again centre back.

It was a strange decision (the sending off, I mean). Indecisive referee Geoff Eltringham allowing himself to be harangued by Wednesday players before consulting a linesman who, eventually, helped him come to the decision of ‘straight red’. This, despite Jake Bidwell clearly being the last man back between Nuhiu and the goalkeeper.

Nuhiu is the sort of player you’d love in your team. Physical, huge presence and a proper nuisance. And he knew the way to goal – seeing an earlier effort come back off the bar. He went to ground very easily on more than one instance yet Eltringham saw nothing wrong in his game to warrant even a talking to, let alone a yellow, at any point.

Still, if Brentford went in a man and a goal down, they did everything to start fighting their way back into the game. Jack O’Connell had a stunning effort at the back with a number of perfectly timed tackles and challenges. It was a shame he was the unfortunate man in the wrong place at the wrong time for 2-1 as Brentford were exposed, pushing for a late winner.

Likewise, Josh Clarke at right back looked very impressive, especially bringing the ball out of defence. I’d be very interested to see him playing ahead of Alan Mac at some point, with the midfielder returning to that defensive role he’d made his own in the past.

With the Bees pressing, a goal seemed likely and finally it came – from the most unlikely of assists. David Button pushed almost to the half way line to curl a cross-field ball to Alan Judge. It was an exquisite delivery from a ‘keeper whose distribution has been lambasted in the past but the execution from Judge was even better.

A perfect trap and then shot across the goal into the far corner sent the crowd wild. Even the club staff celebrated that one to a fanatical level – a moment captured by the Football League Tonight and Beesplayer cameras.

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

At 1-1 and pushing it looked as though Brentford might snatch a winner that, in the first half, had been the last thing anybody expected. Instead, when the more prudent amongst us might have reverted to Plan A and locked things up to get an unlikely point, we went for it. You can’t knock Marinus’ desire and moreso with Wednesday also down to 10 men at this point.

But with the Bees in the Sheffield box, the ball broke and once Lucas João had picked O’Connell’s pocket, not even the Herculean David Button had sufficient strength to hold back the last minute one-on-one.

It was a bitter blow and moreso, having been given the hope of a route back into a game we had no chance of being anywhere near on the first half showing. Bees stat guru Luis Melville nailed it on twitter late last night with this very telling observation:

Luis's stats remain 'the bomb' (that's a good thing, I believe)

Luis’s stats remain ‘the bomb’ (that’s a good thing, I believe)

The positive is a chance to get straight back into action on Tuesday night against a Birmingham City side that hasn’t won in three (and went down at home to Rotherham United yesterday). The negative is that we haven’t really got a huge element of team choice, given the injury crisis and suspension for Tarks. Will the players have enough in the tank for another 90 minutes – moreso, against a team containing a few familiar faces in Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson?

Away from Griffin Park, the Pele cup took place at the training ground. The great man himself was, indeed, at Jersey Road where Cliff Crown was amongst the fortunate few to meet him. Hopefully they just discussed football, football, football (and, perhaps, Escape To Victory) rather than Pele’s foray into TV advertising. I would.

A moment I never thought I'd see - Pele and the Brentford chairman.

A moment I never thought I’d see – Pele and the Brentford chairman.

And then I did it. Football League Tonight. I sat through the full 90 minutes. Or should that be, stood.

Having previously given the show a good kicking on it’s debut (one which, for the record, I still stand by) it’s been pleasing to see the gimmicks fall away and, over the weeks, Channel 5 giving us a more traditional ‘highlights package’. So when the opportunity came to be an audience member, it seemed churlish to turn it down.

Being honest, I’m impressed. What we tend to take for granted is that this is a live show. Given how soon it is transmitted after the action ends, there’s no real choice but despite the problems they suffered in the opening weeks, fair play for sticking to that element. Moreso, with the ‘random’ element of an audience.

Not as bawdy as Soccer AM but sufficiently different from the Football League Show, they have now fused the better parts of each programme. Kelly Cates is definitely the show’s shining star and the chemistry from George Riley is growing.

The audience interview still seemed a bit stilted (then again, that could just be the price you pay for talking to MK Dons fans) although I do like the idea of this quick snapshot from the ‘regular fan’ aswell as the players – Barry Bannan of Sheffield Wednesday being the man brought in to admit, small consolation, that his team and been lucky to get the win.

As for Adam Virgo – I’m still not sure what to make of him. Part footballer, part Clem, part geography teacher. He’s no Leroy (still my favourite pundit from Manish’s Football League Show) but then again, he’s no Steve Claridge and is looking a lot more confortable in the role

Does it beat the Football League Show? No, not yet. Then again, football highlights shows have been in such a set style for so long that it is a format we’ve had drilled into us. You can’t knock Channel 5 for attempting to break from the norm and, moreso, acknowledge that their initial attempts to do so were somewhat OTT.

Will I watch again? Absolutely. Many of the previous gripes have been ironed out and Kelly, especially, did a great job (catching George with one particular zinger about his age and Top of the Pops). Ultimately, the show gives us what we need – the highlights, in order, with a number of extended games.

It’s just a shame that, with more focus on Brentford, we didn’t see the Bees pick up any points. Still, there’s always Tuesday. It won’t be easy and, being honest, I’m anxious.

Then again, Griffin Park under floodlights is a magical place and, IF we can start that one like we ended this one (the goal aside!) then who knows what could happen….

Mark Burridge certainly enjoys the Judge strike (along with the rest of the video highlights)

Nick Bruzon

From Brentford and brackets to Gibraltar and San Marino.

6 Sep

Brentford fans were left scratching around for interest this weekend, with minimal satisfaction coming from the Euro qualifiers. As expected, England successfully navigated their qualifying group (the easiest since records began) whilst for Gibraltar, although they are starting to find their feet after an international baptism of fire, the Republic of Ireland still presented a tough test as they ran out 4-0 winners on Friday night. There was no Brentford involvement, beyond a brief reminiscence about Stuart Dallas for Northern Ireland although, of course, Lasse Vibe was on the bench for Denmark in a 0-0 at home to Albania.

Instead, the weekend has left more questions about those two perennial debates – ‘minnows’ and brackets. Specifically, should the ‘smaller’ teams be allowed to play with the big boys and, when conceding more than six goals just how should we signify this 7, 7 (seven), 7 (SEVEN), seven or SEVEN?

As a footballing romantic and nostalgic, I’m all for a spot of small team involvement. Equally, I won’t deny a large element of emotional involvement as, having waited years for Gibraltar to finally be given full UEFA membership, the chance to see them test themselves against the great and the good is one I’m loving.

Are they whipping boys at the moment? Unfortunately, the stats would certainly suggest that to be the case although anybody who has seen their games against the likes of Germany, Poland and the Republic will see what strides they have already made. Tougher to break down and a lot less naïve, the boys from the Rock are finding their feet, fast.

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start international life.

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start international life.

The Faroe Islands already have six points from a group in which they have overtaken former Euro Champions Greece whilst Albania have beaten Portugal in their qualifying group. This is the same Portugal who recently lost a home friendly with Cape Verde Islands.

Minnows do get stronger and regular games against a mix of opposition are the way to do it. Not shunting them aside to pre-qualifying where they can only play each other, as seems to be the common suggestion. If this is your logic then just disband qualifying all together and draw the teams for the tournament finals based on seeding.

It only seems like yesterday that England were spannering their own qualification for the World Cup as Davide Gualtieri took less than nine seconds to open the scoring for San Marino with a goal that shook the world. Both teams have grown massively since then, even if England have remained as consistently sub-par when it gets to the tournament itself (Euro 96 aside, and that one they qualified for by default).

Davide Gualtieri opened the scoring against England back in 1994

Davide Gualtieri opened the scoring against England back in 1994

Wales have stepped up the blindside in recent seasons and have moved from 117th ranked team in the world four years ago to the point where a victory against Israel on Sunday could see them deemed the second best team on the planet. Indeed, they are, surely, going to qualify for a first major finals since 1958.

Just to put that into perspective, the teams currently occupying the 117th slot are hardy those we would consider to be traditional powerhouses of international football.

The teams currently in the same spot as Wales, four years ago

The teams currently in the same spot as Wales, four years ago

I could go on. People have very short-term memories and attention spans. I hope UEFA don’t give in to the current clamour emanating from certain circles and give all their members a chance to compete on a level playing field.

That said, games such as yesterday’s 6-0 won’t help the likes of San Marino as they came awfully close to a 7(seven) -0 bracketing. That’s a result that Gibraltar have experienced a couple of times in early qualifying whilst, domestically, former Brentford player/manager Nicky Forster was the unlucky recipient as his Staines Town side went down by that infamous scoreline to Brentwood Town in the Ryman Premier on Saturday.

Nicky Forster (left) formally the deliverer rather than recipient of 7(seven)

Nicky Forster (left) formally the deliverer rather than recipient of 7(seven)

And, as ever in these circles, it prompted the usual questions as to how this should be recorded. One local journalist ended up very much insistent about it being an unbracketed, headline grabbing, SEVEN. For somebody who then used twitter to rally against the vide printer favourite, saying: “Will live in the here and now”, the irony of his bio describing himself as “Ex Woking FC striker” was not lost.

There are others that love the bracket but insist it should be 7 (SEVEN). I’ll spare the regular reader another lecture on the unsubtly and bad sportsmanship of this. A brash, block-capitalled effect to really push home the point that someone has been on the wrong end of a thrashing. It’s gloating for the sake of it.

Clearly, an emotional subject and I don’t think we’ll ever, all, agree. Football is a modern game and one that continues to grow. That said, what’s the harm in a little bit of nostalgia along the way?

And finally, Channel 5 and Football League Tonight. Much as the minnows have been going from strength to strength on the pitch, the same can be said about the latest newcomers off it.

Saturday night was the latest point in case as, despite it being International weekend we actually had a show. In days gone by, Manish and team were shunted to one side when the Championship teams had a break, despite full fixture list in both Leagues One and Two.

So fairplay to Kelly, George and the rest of the production team for still bringing us a show. The disasters that plagued the series openers are a distant memory already and, last night, the biggest problem seemed to be Adam Virgo. More to the point, his sporting of a collared shirt with the top button done up but no tie.

Yet if a pundit’s dress sense (something all channels have suffered from over the years) is the worst we’ve got to worry about then things must definitely be moving in the right direction.

Rio Ferdinand and the BBC panel have had their own fashion problems

Rio Ferdinand and the BBC panel have had their own fashion problems

Nick Bruzon

Is there any Bank holiday fallout or just some perspective?

31 Aug

Calmed down yet after the Reading result? Some Brentford fans were sending Twitter into a GPG level of meltdown last night with a series of rants that were as tragic as they were hilarious. I love this club as much as anybody but we’re only played four league games this season. Brentford have an identical record to Chelsea (P4 W1 D1 L2) and victory in the ‘games in hand’ will take us to within a point of the play offs.

Absolutely, some of the ‘sideways’ football being played has been at odds with what we have been used to recently but as has been said before, we do have a new team. Likewise, the sale and replacement of club favourites has been frustrating for many and I can well sympathise with that, too.

If anything, we’ve been spoiled rotten by success over the previous four or five seasons. I’ve seem some real dross at Griffin Park in the 35+ years I’ve been a supporter yet the last few campaigns have been nothing brilliant. We don’t have a divine right to win anything or buy our way to the top like Chelsea or Manchester City (who found another £55 million just yesterday for Kevin de Bruyne).

Instead, I’d love to see some positivity and get some perspective. And let’s start with the head coach. It would be wonderful if Marinus could get involved a bit with the players or with the fans. This may not be his style and he may not feel he needs to but, come on man, go through the motions at the very least.

Clearly he has passion and cares – look at the tongue-lashings administered to the fourth officials. So why does this not carry over to the crowd or the players – at least in the public eye?

Marinus can cut a lone figure as he observes the 'action'

Marinus can cut a lone figure as he observes the ‘action’

It’s amazing the psychological impact that having a manager (whatever) who seems to give a damn can have on the supporters. I wrote yesterday that this lack of interaction, “still sits uncomfortably with me. It really will be something we all have to adjust to over the coming months.” And adjust we will, but it would be nice if Marinus could make some attempt to meet us half way.

Then there are the fans at Griffin Park. Supporter James Norwood contacted me yesterday with his own thoughts on the atmosphere, or lack of, saying:

“I have never, ever seen Griffin Park so silent. Seen, as I couldn’t hear anything, except the Reading fans who cheered on their team throughout. The score line and the teams’ on field efforts reflected the silence. I tweeted as such and many Reading fans (unfortunately) retweeted it. These are young men and they got minimal support from the stands.

The entire first half, we applauded but we never sang a note. The vocal fans from Berkshire helped out with choruses of “Your support is f*****g s**t,” and “shall we sing a song for you.” No wonder we were 2 nil down by the break and lucky not to be 5 nil down.”

He goes on with his analysis, noting: “How different from the atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium and the free flowing football thanks to the referee Martin Atkinson, who offered a refreshing approach after the disaster of the referee who officiated our match with Reading and in the words of Belle and Sebastian “gave us f**k all.”

I am a Brentford fan and I have been so since 1992 and will be until the day I die, but I have never known any other club to give so little in terms of vocal support. Yes, we pay, yes we show up, and yes we are great critics, but we’re not great supporters and that translates into the players confidence on the field.

Maxime Colin, in his Brentford website interview ahead of his first game said “I hope that I will play my first home game on Saturday. My friends tell me that the fans are very loud and strongly behind the team.” I think he was thinking about another team.“

Ok. Time for a bit of positivity with the ‘other stuff’ from the weekend. Amidst all the noise I’ve not seen much mention of how well the pitch took following the previously documented debacle. As one observer on the New Road noted: ‘No holes or sand, took the water well and played nicely when we bothered

At least that is one area we should, all being well, not need to worry about ongoing.

The pitch (c/o James Norwood) looked lot better than Reading's kit

The pitch (c/o James Norwood) looked lot better than Reading’s kit

And then there was Channel 5 and their latest episode of Football League Tonight. It seems they have taken further feedback on board with another attempt to remove the gormless planks standing behind Kelly and George from our eyeline.

I don’t mean Adam Virgo but, rather, the additional supporters loitering near the ‘big screens’ and studio walls, cluttering up every interview shot.

Whilst a few still remained visible, the vast majority are now ‘off camera’, meaning we could focus on the (still somewhat awkward) interviews.

These loitering numpties are a thing of the past . Virgo remains

These loitering numpties are a thing of the past . Virgo remains

This show lurched onto our screens as a screaming car crash but the producers have, to be fair, listened to what supporters want and, over the course of the next few weeks, moved to a more traditional model.

There’s a crowbarred analogy I could stick in here but not even I’m that unsubtle. Instead, let’s just all have some faith.

And, finally, Jota has had a haircut. The talismanic midfielder may currently be suffering from an ankle injury but he took to social media at the weekend (Instantgram, I believe) to show off his new look. I’ll leave the sartorial comments to his admirers, of whom there seem to be a few, and instead let’s just hope this throws any would-be suitors off the scent ahead of the transfer window slamming shut on Tuesday.

Same player; new hair. Move along, there's no Jota here

Same player; new hair. Move along, there’s no Jota here