Tag Archives: Aitor Karanka

Natalie nails it as Forest fail to chop down the Bees.

2 Sep

What an afternoon. What a game of contrasting football styles. Brentford beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 in a game which will be as much remembered for the three points that take us back into play-offs as it will an infuriating performance from ‘referee’ Peter Bankes. That, and a display of physical thuggery from the visitors which, as was said many times yesterday, came over as ‘a typical Aitor Karanka performance’. See also the phrase: Brian Clough would be spinning in his grave. It was an attitude which spilled over into social media afterwards where none other than Natalie Sawyer waded in to defend her beloved Bees in the face of what could, at best, be described as sour grapes from fans of the visiting team.

It gives me no pleasure in having to write about anything negative from yesterday. Especially about a club I’ve enormous respect for. Why would we want any form of downer after Brentford scooped the win that lifted us back into the play-off zone following last weekend’s blip at Blackburn? We’ve overcome the three game suspension of Neal Maupay and showed tremendous spirit to bounce back after an uncharacteristic fumble from Daniel Bentley allowed Forest to haul themselves into the game on the hour mark.

Yet it was the approach of the visitors which was so at odds with what we’ve seen from them over the years. A team who previously out-thought and out-played opponents to win the trophies for which they are so well known. A team who rightly earned the two stars that adorn their famous crest. Now, their manager has them playing not so much ‘kick and rush’ as ‘kick and punch’.

That there were only 7(seven) bookings for the visitors was a miracle in itself. They were cynical, scything and nasty. Mr. Bankes in the middle seeming to forget he even had cards in his pocket during a first half where Forest had no answer to wave after wave of Brentford pressure. Except, of course, the one shown to Lewis Macleod for apparent diving.

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Two stars, well earned. Plus a welcome return for the castle badge in the programme.

There was no attempt to tackle. The Bees were allowed to run at their opponents with the ‘permission to foul badge’ rotated between the players by manager Karanka. How nobody received a second yellow I have no idea. Yet it was an approach that also allowed us to see Brentford at their finest. And, in the end, crush the visitors as easily as they would a ripe avocado. 

Josh McEachran had an extremely positive game, making one incredible surge forward in the first half that must have seen him take the ball close to forty yards upfield as he rode challenges and played deft flicks. Romaine Sawyers did what he does. Sergi was felled time and again by the yellow shirted lumberjacks. Mepham and Konsa at the back continue to look as though they have been partners for years rather than weeks. Benrahma was magnificent, supplying the crosses for both goals and almost nabbing a couple himself. 

The first, a cross from the right that dropped perfectly for the unmarked Lewis Macleod to head home just before half time. The second, delivered to Ollie Watkins to stroke home with just minutes left on the clock. Between these, Peter Gilham’s quite wonderfully announced substitution of Lolley for Cash looked like it would be bang on the money for our guests. The hero of Forest’s midweek league cup win over Newcastle did it again. Yet the goal from Matty Cash proved to be a small change and, in the end, it was Watkins (nose stuffed full of gauze after receiving a boot in the face from Jack Robinson) who sealed the points that take us up to fifth place in the table.   

Again, I don’t want to come over as negative about the visitors and the ref. I’ve friends who are Forest fans and a healthy respect for the club that goes back to my own formative football years when they were THE kings of Europe. Perhaps they just had a bad day at the office whereby physicality was the only answer to the electric pace of a scintilating Brentford side.  Yet it was awful to watch them yesterday.

Equally frustrating was finding ourselves beholden to the whims of a referee whose performance switched between turning a blind eye and guesswork. All credit to captain Yoann Barbet whose cool head at the very end prevented a major case of handbags turning into a Keith Stroud convention. He led by example throughout although you could also praise the spirit of all Dean’s ‘leaders’. Our unique approach of rotating the captaincy providing its own demonstration of success.

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Yoann Barbet at FT. How was that for you?

I apologise. The point has been laboured and the point has been made. But it is done because so often over the last couple of seasons, we’ve had no answer to teams like this. We’ve seen points dropped and games lost when brute force has triumphed over attempts to play intelligent football. Yet we’ve toughened up and adapted, whilst still retaining that core belief. Being honest, this one never felt in doubt. Even at 1-1 or throughout the protracted period of stoppage time added on at the end. 

It was our own Natalie Sawyer who really summed things up nicely, taking to Twitter at full time to first note that: If ever there was a victory for football today it’s what I’ve witnessed at Griffin Park. Really surprised by how Forest played today considering I thought they’d give us a much better game following what I saw on Wednesday night..

Confronted by frustrated Forest fans, rather than sit on this one she continued to make her point (and rightly praise the Forest midweek match) before eventually going on to add: Excuse me you came not to win, you came to by physical and cynical. It’s the most disappointing performance I’ve seen from a team. I’m not saying that Brentford are wholly innocent in every game they play but today they outplayed a team that just wanted to foul and time waste.

Well said. Professionally put and spot on. There’s not much more one can really say after that. Perhaps a bit more praise for Dean Smith and his wonderful team. Kudos to Yoan Barbet and my man of the match, Said Benrahma.

Put your feet up and enjoy international break. Roll on the 15th for Wigan at home where it’s not so much Will Grigg as the Bees who are currently on fire.

Nick Bruzon

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MK Down and the true price of FA Cup defeat

24 Apr

Bye Bye MK Dons. Brentford racked up yet another win and another hatful of goals on Saturday afternoon to confirm that Karl Robinson and his team will be making an immediate return to League One. There was also that Doctor Who moment during the Manchester United – Everton FA Cup semi which we’d worried about yesterday whilst Kitman Bob is at it again. Yet again.

MK Dons BBC

Not my words but those ..etc

First up though, Stadium MK. As is the norm the BBC, Beesotted, official site  or other less salubrious pages are the place for proper match reports. Instead, the headline news to trumpet about has to be about a 4-1 win for the Bees.

It was a game that, not for the first time this season, featured brilliant goals from first Sergi Canos and later Ryan Woods (do check these beauties out on the Bees Player highlights package). These sandwiched Lasse Vibe’s 13th of the season before Jake Bidwell rounded things off. His free kick from the touchline, just like the game at Preston, drifting past everybody and into the back of the net.

Mark Burridge is back for another win. What jinx?

Team wise both Sam Saunders and Scott Hogan were missing from the 18 who had beaten Cardiff on Tuesday night. The latter used Twitter to allay the fears of worried fans, saying, “I‘m not injured it’s been planned being managed carefully, don’t forget I’ve been out a while , next season most important thing!

Maxime Colin reclaimed his right back position although Josh Clarke, who had impressed midweek, did get the final half hour. John Swift, gash healed, was an unused substitute.

Only just over a month ago many of, us including our own head coach, had noted that the Bees were in a relegation scrap.Now its been 16 points out of 18 over April. It is a month that has seen 16 goals and five wins out of those 6 games.

As it stands we’ve hit Dean Smith’s tenth spot target and could even end as high as eighth should the winning run continue. Victory in ‘our game in hand’ at Hull City AFC on Tuesday night will see the Bees just one point behind Ipswich Town in 8th and make the ‘manager of the month’ vote a very interesting one indeed.

I’d still say that one is a straight shoot out between Chris Hughton or Aitor Karanka. Their teams have won as many as the Bees this month whilst keeping up the pace at the top of a table that sees the top three all on 87 points with just two games to go. Now that’s pressure !

As a side note, am I alone in having a ‘spellcheck’ that defaults the Middlesbrough manager’s name to Aitor Karaoke ? Now there’s some wonderful imagery. Here’s hoping for a Phil Brown style pitch side singalong as Boro’ go up and fairly leave us in peace after 6 wins out of 6 over the last two seasons.

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Could Chris lift something more valuable?

The other Championship news of excitement saw QPR held by Reading. It means the Bees are two points clear of the Loftus Road mob in the battle to see who will end the season as not just West but all London’s top league club. That Hull game has even more riding on it than our opponents might realise.

Back to the FA Cup. We talked yesterday about the forthcoming Doctor Who ‘reveal’ that the BBC had intended to make during half time of the semi final and, sure enough, it happened. Whilst I’ll leave Bees supporter @Lokster71 to comment on the choice of ‘assistant’  via his excellent ‘Patient Centurion’ blog, I have to say that Gary Lineker handled the obvious disruption well.

Indeed, the BBC anchor giving a quite marvellous post-reveal segue pitch side as he dead panned, “The doctor’s not the only one with a new companion, Dan Walker talks to Lee Martin…”.

The only sour notes to the afternoon were  Manchester United securing a winner at the death. To be fair, I’d have been just as unhappy had Everton done this.

It meant that with the spectre of an additional thirty minutes ‘extra time’ now removed, along with it went the chance of Mrs Browns Boys (presumably the safety net should such a situation have arisen) being pulled from the evening’s schedule. Worse, it meant we got Michael McIntyre sooner.

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Mrs Brown – thanks Manchester United. And Everton

Whilst Lineker scored bonus points for the Dan Walker gag, I did also think his closing “Young Prince / party like its 1999” outro felt a little bit forced and, dare I say it, cashing in on the week’s sad news.

And finally, it seems like every week we’re saying this but Kitman Bob is back on the BBgiveaway. Whilst ‘that’ shirt has rolled over to the Fulham game on Saturday, he announced last night : Buzzing about @BrentfordFC support today. I’m throwing in a  BONUS BBGIVEAWAY Tuesday.  Boots to be given away. Keep looking . Tuesday lunch time

As ever, the place to look is on Bob’s twitter account.

Here’s hoping Sam Saunders is back in the team or my bet is spannered .

Roll on Tuesday.

Bob crystal ball

Kitman Bob – man of mystery and king of competitions

Nick Bruzon

Can Dean match the heights of some illustrious company?

19 Apr

Brentford host Cardiff City this evening with head coach Dean Smith aiming to continue April’s unbeaten run after seeing the Bees pick up three wins and a draw since March came to an end. It is an identical record to Chris Hughton’s Brighton whilst only Aitor Karanka and Middlesbrough have better form after winning all five of their games this month. With the Bees now aiming to finish as high as possible, what’s left for us ?

Dean has made no secret of his desire to finish in the top ten. There’s currently a 4 point gap to Preston in 10th and 5 to Birmingham in ninth. With a game in hand it’s more than possible, statistically speaking, although translating that into actual points will be a big ask.

Cliff and Russell_face2

Russell Slade – has gone down in Brentford legend

And its not going to be easy tonight. For Cardiff City, a win is an absolute must. Five points outside the play-off places , anything but an away win will surely see our teams tied together for another season. Of course, Russell Slade will be celebrating like he’s won the FA Cup if he can secure the points and make some ground on Sheffield Wednesday.

The irony of his doing that two years and a day after those incredible scenes as the Bees went up would be lost on nobody.Despite his team going on a recent mini slump that has seen two draws and a loss,  you can bet he’ll have the Bluebirds fired up.

Then again, so will Dean. Since the injuries that have robbed his midfield of John Swift and Josh McEachran, the team have looked a different prospect. Whilst no side could say they were the same without the quality of Alan Judge, even Saturday against Bristol City saw us go so close to making it four in a row as the Bees continued with their attacking intent.

For all Dean talks about 10th, closer to home another win could make the battle for April’s ‘Manager of the month’ an interesting one. Of course, Aitor Karanka remains a shoe in for that as it stands with those 15 points out of 15. Yet with his Middlesbrough outfit facing fellow title chasers Burnley tonight (that’ll be some game) should Andre Gray and co do the business then it opens that one right up.

For me, the target still remains the Bees ending up as the top side in West London. We’re 6 clear of Fulham and only 3 behind the Loftus Road mob (with a game in hand).

Whilst Dean scooping an award in April will be a sign that we’re on track for that one, its a short term aspiration. If the Bees can finish top of this mini-pile after 46 games then I think that after all the ups and downs, the season will have been considered to have  ended on a high.

That’s a big ‘IF’ and, as I say, it won’t be easy tonight. Should anybody be in any doubt I’ll just put two words out there…

Stuart. Attwell.

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8 people liked the official announcement. Wow !

And finally, an apology. Yesterday’s column looked, in part, at the tour-de-force that was Sean Ridley hosting Terrace Talk. As part of this, it was noted that he ended his feature chasing after a duck.

I realise, now, this was wrong. In fact I am reliably informed it was an Egyptian Goose. So caught up was I in the excitement of his quite wonderful performance (and if you haven’t seen it yet, please do) that I’ve made a basic ornithological mix up.

I’m sorry.

That said, Sean has left a tough act to follow. No pressure, Jo 🙂

Nick Bruzon

Could current form see one of our hopes go South?

16 Feb

Come on Middlesbrough. Last night’s 0-0 draw with Leeds United raises a worrying concern for Brentford fans. Specifically that we might have to play them again next campaign. Whilst Boro’ remain in the top two, their form has hit somewhat of a rough patch with two defeats , three draws and just two goals coming in their last five league games. For a team that has beaten the Bees 6 times in the last two seasons, there is a large section of the Griffin Park faithful that will be more than happy to see them promoted to the Premier League.

Of course, we must remember that most delicious of clichés. Namely that the league is a marathon not a sprint. Believe me, I’d be much happier having the sort of form that Middlesbrough are currently ‘enjoying’ rather than that of the Bees. The point is made more to illustrate how interesting the top of the table has become.

Just three points separate first placed Hull City and Brighton in fourth. Even Sheffield Wednesday, who of course put 4 past Brentford on Saturday, find themselves just two wins off the top as the race for ‘automatic’ has locked up once more.

It’s a lovely problem to have and one that, 12 months ago, we were caught up in. Village-gate had been and gone as, with the season’s low point of ‘Charlton away’ behind us, Brentford prepared to get back to winning ways. Of course, we didn’t quite make it despite a heroic effort in, arguably, the most exciting campaign in living memory. Fifth place saw us consigned to an eighth play-off campaign where the combination of a prospective visit to the ‘W’ place, along with games against Boro’, meant that usual service ensued.

That was then. This is now. Surely Middlesbrough have too much about them to trouble Brentford for a third, successive, season? Presumably recent acquisition and former Bee Jordan Rhodes will be the man to complete their stellar line up rather than the Faustino Asprilla to their Newcastle United? If nothing else, I just can’t see Aitor Karanka having a Keegan style meltdown

Any excuse to show this one.

Still, if Brentford fans think things are ‘bad’ at the moment (trust me, they aren’t), then do take a look at Leeds United. Despite some stunning signings of their own, including Stuart Dallas and the free scoring Toumani Diagouraga, there remains unrest at Elland Road. And not just from Steve Evans trying to find a tracksuit that fits him.

Controversial owner Massimo Cellino seems intent to take on the TV companies whilst fans, who had been promised a buy out, took to projecting images onto the stadium after the Italian went back on his word. The Yorkshire Post (@Yorkshirepost) were amongst those leading with some incredible images before kick off last night.

Leeds

Now THIS is how to make a point

Let’s not pretend all is perfect at Brentford currently. Despite Matthew Benham’s life saving investment over the years, many are frustrated by the subsequent decimation of the team that achieved so much last campaign. Current form sees us sliding down the table whilst Dean Smith can’t buy a win (or a goal) at the minute.

But like Middlesbrough, I’m sure this is just a short term thing. We’ve come too far to throw it all away and I’m convinced the rebuilding operation we’ve put ourselves on (team, rather than stadium) will continue over the summer. Like it or not, Brentford are on a path of consolidation now. Last year’s team are nothing more than a warm and fuzzy glow who will rank alongside the heroes of yesteryear.

Instead, let’s just hope that Phil and Rasmus know what they are doing when it comes to any summer recruitment. Barring a miracle / disaster, we’re going to have two London derbies to look forward too along with another chance to take on a Leeds United side who haven’t beaten Brentford in our last 6 encounters.

As for Boro’, perhaps its best all round if they just exit the Championship and do what a club of their size should, conceivably, have done last time out. Good luck in the top flight !

Until then, we’ve got a game against Derby County coming up. All being well, a run out against another play off contender will be just what the doctor ordered to fire us back to winning ways.

Princess Royal Middlesbrough

Never again will still be too soon

Nick Bruzon

No prizes for ‘unlucky’ but at least we won the possession

13 Jan

Well, you can talk about “unlucky” and “on another night “ all you want but the simple fact is that Middlesbrough left Griffin Park with all 3 points after beating Brentford 1-0. It may well have been against the run of play in a game where, especially in the first twenty minutes, we dominated but if ever there was a lesson to be learned about taking your chances when they arise then here it was. And with free scoring Burnley due to visit on Friday night, let’s hope it is one that we learn fast.

Brentford played very, very well for large parts of this game despite the best efforts of referee Gavin Ward. The aforementioned opening salvo saw a performance that was world’s apart from the debacle in the FA Cup. Lasse Vibe, especially, started at 100mph as first he set up Alan Judge for a shot that drifted just wide before finding himself clean through moments later. With defenders closing and Boro’ keeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos on inspired form, as ever, the chance was pushed away for one of the 11 corners we earned.

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Hands off Toumani….. Boro’ defend another corner

The returning Sam Saunders saw Dimi manage to get to a dipping first half free kick whilst Harlee Dean and Max Colin (my standout player from last night) also came close for the Bees. Yet despite these wonderful chances and a final figure of 60% possession if you don’t put the ball in the back of the net then you don’t win football matches.

Middlesbrough were solid and well organised. Perhaps you could even say they were cynical at times but they did what they needed to. On a blustery evening they soaked us up, rode their luck a bit yet, with the scores still at 0-0, when the chance presented itself on the hour they put it away. Or, rather, we did.

David Button, for so long this season the man who has kept us in games, saw an attempted punch spin off his gloves, over his head and, despite the claims of Daniel Ayala, straight through a melee of players and over the line. It was, to be polite, a frustrating moment and I’m not going to start criticising our ‘keeper – far from it. He’s been a hero this season and we play as a team.To be honest, the game should have been closed out by that point.

Instead, Middlesbrough did what they do – lock things down and win games. In tricky conditions, a long way from home, they made it 6 wins in 16 months against The Bees.

I’m not going to pander to our team and say “unlucky”. This was a wonderful chance to beat the league leaders and close in on play-off rivals. Instead, they’ve got away with the points once more and the gap to sixth is now eight points. From a table perspective, the only consolation is that at least positions 4-6 are really tightening up. But, being honest, I think we’re now in a place where unless we start winning very fast indeed, consolidation is the best this side can hope for this time around.

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The BBC table shows the current state of play

That’s still no bad thing and moreso given the start to the campaign we had. People have huge expectation levels and forget how far we’ve come over the last few seasons. Likewise, how mediocre things have been in the past. Ladies and gentlemen, before Marinus I give you Terry Butcher, Leroy Rosenior and even the sad end to the Andy Scott era – just for starters.

Yet at the same time, we were spoiled by what the squad achieved last season and just how close we came to the top flight. For a brief moment, ‘automatic’ was looking very much a possibility and, even then, we still got a second bite as we hit the play-offs on that stunning final day of the season.

Seeing Andre Gray scoring goals for fun this season up at Burnley (and, indeed, the brace he managed for us under Marinus) does show just what this team have been missing in recent weeks. You can’t knock Lasse Vibe’s effort, or goals, but target man isn’t his natural position. The return to fitness of Marco Djuricin can only be a good thing for a team whose record is now just two wins in eight games.

Only Derby, Burnley, Sheffield Wednesday and, erm, Fulham have scored more goals than us all season and so I’m sure you’ll hear the statisticians and coaches saying we’re looking quite healthy in that position. Well, the last five games have only seen us trouble the scorers three times – and two of those were the wonder goals from Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos at Reading. Incredible strikes, for sure, but not the sort of thing you can rely on week in, week out.

Were we unlucky last night? Yes. We played very well with Sam Saunders providing a welcome burst of fresh air and enthusiasm whilst Max Colin really impressed.

Should we have won? Probably. Judge and Vibe had the best of some good chances for Brentford.

Did Middlesbrough deserve it? It’s irrelevant. When the chance arose, we were pressured into conceding and they didn’t let us back in despite the Bees having seen the majority of the ball  by full time.

Goals win football matches, people. Regardless of who you are playing or how it gets into the back of the net.

Roll on Friday, when Burnley await. They warmed up with a 5-0 humping of MK Dons last night. Then again, if Brentford start like we did on Tuesday evening it could be an interesting one…

Nick Bruzon

Bees have nothing to lose and everything to gain at Middlesbrough

15 Sep

Brentford complete their mini-break away from West London, with the game against Middlesbrough following hot on the heels of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Leeds United. But will it be a case of ‘Grim Up North’ or coming back home with some more positive news after last season’s footballing lesson at the hands of the Smoggies?

Brentford, of course, surprised most observers in reaching the Play-Offs last season. Those of us present saw a team punching well above their weight as household names and, so called, ‘big clubs’ were dispatched with all the ease of a supporter polishing off a balti pie i.e. easily. The Bees trounced the likes of Wolves, Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United as we came dangerously close to emulating Bournemouth and reaching the Premiership.

But Middlesbrough were a different kettle of fish. Over four games, including the two-legged Play-Off semi, Brentford ended up on the wrong end of a 10-1 aggregate scoreline. Middlesbrough won all four games, including a 4-0 league victory at the Riverside that Mark Warburton would later say “wasn’t acceptable, especially after the break when we weren’t good enough”.

View from the terrace - Middlesbrough proved tough opponents last time out

View from the terrace – Middlesbrough proved tough opponents last time out

For all that Warbs was a hero to many and did some wonderful things with his team, when it came to Middlesbrough we were most definitely second place. But can Marinus do any better?

Well, that was then and this is now. Whilst it is nice to recognise previous results when they go your way, they are nothing more than a statistical nicety used purely (and there’s nothing wrong with that) to remind the opposition of previous dominance.

But when it comes down to it, current form is the only thing of particular relevance. Whatever happened last season is done. Middlesbrough and Brentford find themselves both locked in the Championship hoping for another crack at promotion.

There wasn't much, beyond this, to smile about last season

There wasn’t much, beyond this, to smile about last season

Boro’ are in third place already, behind runaway leaders Brighton and Cardiff City (Hmmm. That’ll last). They’ve picked up 11 points from 6 games, including 3 wins. Interestingly, their solitary defeat was at home to Bristol City. That’ll be the same team Brentford recorded their first win of the season against, with the 4-1 hammering at Ashton Gate. Mind you, that was also our only win of the season as the other four games have seen two draws and two losses.

Nobody gives us a chance. Certainly, outside of TW8. But then that’s the way I like it. Even my online bookmaker (who I use purely for reference purposes), has the Bees as 9/2 to pick up all three points. It wasn’t going to be easy, let alone midweek when there’ll be only a handful of the super loyal present (at one point, it was touch and go as to whether a coach would even be running).

Full marks to them for making this most torturous of trips. Especially off the back of the weekend when we’d have been denied the luxury of being able to stay in the region. It’s been a while since the odds and situation have been so heavily stacked against us, yet the optimistic part of me thinks this could be the night. And simply because nobody gives us a prayer.

There’s nothing like home support, expecting a massacre, to get frustrated when it fails to materialise. And as we know, that can transmit to the players. I expect Marinus to have the defensive handbrake on full lock today and then look to catch Middlesbrough on the break.

Then again, that’s what most people expect. Could he shock us all and go for all out attack? Looking to create chances at Leeds United on Saturday certainly worked, even if we weren’t quite able to finish them all off.

Ultimately, I haven’t a clue. I’m just the numpty on the terrace but you can be sure I’ll be glued to Beesplayer this evening to follow all the action. It might not be pretty. It certainly won’t be easy. But after last season’s 4 defeats, could it be different?

At 7.45, we find out…..

Nick Bruzon

Congratulations Middlesbrough as Bees bow out

15 May

Brentford bowed out of the play offs on Friday evening as a 3-0 win for Middlesbrough gave them a 5-1 aggregate victory. And before we go any further it is only right and proper to offer them congratulations on both their season so far and a blistering performance at the Riverside. Likewise, we should probably offer the very best of luck to whoever emerges triumphant from Saturday’s game between Norwich City and Ipswich Town. If Middlesbrough play like they did then we are in for one hell of a final on Monday week.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Can Matthew Benham prove Clem wrong? Dr Evil??

12 May

With Brentford and Middlesbrough preparing for the return leg of their Championship play off, I saw an interesting piece in The Times yesterday from Mark Clemmit aka Clem of BBC Football League show fame. A well known Middlesbrough fan himself, he used the column to give his own opinions on Matthew Benham’s commitment to the well documented statistical model he intends to implement at Brentford next season.

Regular readers will know of my admiration for Clem’s reporting technique and the somewhat light hearted approach to statistical analysis that had been undertaken in the weekly ‘Clemwatch’ feature. Long regarded as the harbinger of doom by football supporters, he only saw the team he selected for feature on that evening’s BBC show win 7 (seven) times all season.

Clem finished his season at Watford - who lost the title in the 90th minute

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

It was, as such, somewhat ironic to see him casting his oar into the murky water of statistics in an attempt to analyse Matthew’s plans. Although not as ironic as the fact that he was reportedly at Griffin Park on Friday, overseeing the home team fail to record a win. Again. That said, I’m sure Clem would take it as his beloved Middlesbrough chalking up another victory, regardless of his presence.

Regardless, I’d certainly recommend you try and get hold of this article if possible. And if Mark Warburton is reading, certainly a nice one to add to his future CV. Whilst acknowledging the success, so far, of ‘the model’ for FC Midtjylland in Denmark, Clem certainly seemed to land on the side of the traditional managerial structure over key performance indicators and mathematical analysis.

Fairplay to Clem for trying to balance this out, although his description of Matthew’s Smartodds HQ as “A cross between a giant dealing room and (from the Austin Powers movies) Dr Evil’s underground lair” was one that put all sorts of confused imagery into my head. If for no other reason than who would have been Evil’s mini-me and who his number 2?

Is Matthew Benham's HQ really reminiscent of Doctor Evil's lair?

Talk to the hand. Is Matthew Benham’s HQ really reminiscent of Doctor Evil’s lair?

Ultimately, nobody knows how this is going to pan out. Mark Warburton could be making a huge mistake in walking away from, potentially, the most progressive move in English football since Jimmy Hill proposed ‘three points’ for a win. I can say one thing though, Warbs will be doing his level best to make sure that the model is road tested in the Premiership. He has shown the fans and the team nothing but the most impressive personal performance since the news broke and , I have no doubt, that will continue.

Friday night will see our biggest game, to date, in living memory. And if you wanted even more intrigue, I saw a statistic that said Middlesbrough haven’t lost an evening game at the Riverside in six years. I have no idea if that is true or urban legend but, regardless, nobody can doubt the calibre of the opposition.

Given how much this game is worth, I’m sure the jinx-conscious amongst us will hope that Clem is in attendance once again. Moreso that Matthew, Warbs and the team give him plenty more to think about.

As we saw in last night’s game between Swindon and Sheffield United, which finished 7(seven) – 6(so close) on aggregate, anything is possible in the play offs. On Friday night, we find out what happens in this one.

Just 90 minutes from Wembley as Long mystery explained

9 May

And so the play offs begin with Middlesbrough taking the narrowest of leads from the first leg with a 2-1 victory over Brentford at Griffin Park last night. Pressing for the winner themselves at the end of an impressive second half, the Bees could feel especially hard done by after being stopped in their tracks by a late winner from Fulham loanee Fernando Amorebieta deep into Jota time.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Boro' fans believe in their team and their,erm, farts???

Boro’ fans believe in their team and their,erm, farts???

View form the terrace - Jota prepares to launch another attack

View from the terrace – Jota prepares to launch another attack

Griffin Park under floodlights for the last time (this season?)

Griffin Park under floodlights for the last time (this season?)

Could this be our last stand?

7 May

This weekend’s Championship play offs have huge significance beyond the obvious draw of the eventual winner joining the likes of Bournemouth and Arsenal in the top flight. Saturday sees the, so called, Old Farm derby (nice) between Ipswich Town and Norwich City as local passions are sure to go through the roof at Portman Road. But for us Brentford fans, it will be a different sort of emotion as there is the very real prospect that Friday’s game with Middlesbrough could be our last ever competitive fixture at Griffin Park.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Griffin Park - could the terrace end up seated?

Griffin Park – terraces are not, currently, in the Premiership

Could Friday see the sun go down on Griffin Park for the last time?

Could Friday see the sun go down on Griffin Park for the last time?