Tag Archives: Albion

Bring on Brendan. Rodgers rather than O’Carroll. FA Cup excitement continues.

24 Jan

This is about as intriuging as an FA Cup tie gets. Brentford, two points off second place in the Championship, host Leicester City, two points off the very summit of the Premier league, in Sunday afternoon’s fourth round tie. The winners know they will be given the opportunity to welcome Brighton in the last 16. With heavy snow forecast in the area from 8am, this one really could have it all. Perhaps, even, an orange ball (although one would presume we’ll get the insipid, dog piss yellow version). Yet with an absolutely massive game on Wednesday at Swansea City, and the sheer exhaustion quite clearly in evidence during the second half against Luton on Wednesday, don’t go into this one expecting the full fat first team. I’m still expecting excitement. Having had the appetite whetted with Chorley – Wolves and Cheltenham Town – Manchester City, now its our turn to strip up to that TV plate.

Thomas Frank has already dropped all the hints you need about who is going to be starting this one today. We know Ivan Toney is missing because of that suspension so Marcus Forss will be up top. That Luton match saw the start of a 14 game run of midweek / weekend fixtures and we looked absolutely fit to drop during that most painful of second halves. It was unmissable stuff and you couldn’t look away. Albeit in the same excruciating way as being tied to a chair and force-fed Mrs. Browns Boys. That Brentford hung on for another win after the two week closure of the training ground was quite amazing but it is clear these are men, not machines. As such, no surprise to hear Thomas announce in his press conference that, “I will use the squad but not like a full rotation. We will put a strong team out there tomorrow.”

The second half against Luton was about as painful viewing as Mrs. Brown’s Boys

Regardless of the Swansea City game, this is absolutely the right thing to do. We’ve a fantastic squad and already seen in the league cup how deep this runs. Four wins out of five against Premier league opposite this season. Only Jose Mourinho getting in our way. A sixth game upon us now and a chance for the likes of Tarique, Samman et al to show what they can do once more. Could there be more action for the likes of Alex Gilbert, Lewis Gordon, Fin Stevens and Max Haygarth who all featured against Middlesbrough in the previous round? Who all impressed, Stevens in particular. We already know that Marcus Forss, a player Thomas says “The Club have a strong belief that he will be a top striker”, starts. This, for me , is a great thing.

Marcus’ form this season has been quite outstanding to watch. His goal for Finland in France a quite wonderful cherry on the cake of his own personal growth. He has a foot like the proverbial traction engine and when he hits that ball, it stays hit. I can’t wait to see what he can do against Leicester City and if we can give him the service then the results could be quite incredible. With Ivan Toney missing through suspension, the door is open to lay down a claim to a more regular starting berth. Whether now or in the near future. 

Marcus has only impressed when he has featured.

It won’t be easy, of course. Leicester City were the visitors for the fourth round last year. They ran out 1-0 winners and despite our best efforts, it felt comfortable all the way through. Albeit a much changed Brentford team including relative unknowns (then) Yearwood, Racic, Thomspon, Roerslev and Zamburek gave a strong account of themselves. Bryan Mbeumo saw an equaliser chalked off by the officials but in the end an early goal from Kelechi Iheanacho was enough to separate the two teams. With Jamie Vardy’s well documented injury today, expect the same player to start again. Wes Morgan and Dennis Praet are also missing from a selection where Brendan Rodgers hinted at a similar approach to Thomas, “We always try to rely on the collective, the group has always been able to find results.

Whomever he goes with, Leicester are gong to be strong. About as tough a test as they come. Just as when they won the league before, the Foxes are the one team nobody is really talking about. Liverpool choke. Frank out (at Chelsea). Manchester City and their early stumble. Manchester United at the top despite the odd reaction of their own fans to Ole earlier on. Sound familiar? Yet it is Leicester who have avoided the noise, shirked the nonsense and just got on with what they are great at. Winning football matches. Indeed, they went top during the week until United did their thing, Treat this one as a casual affair at your peril. It is an FA Cup tie that is about as hard as it comes.

Despite the lack of crowds – even next season is now feeling optimistic at best – the tournament has continued to provide excitement. Who couldn’t help but be moved by Chorley? Their game on Friday night with Wolves could, genuinely, have gone either way. It was quite the cracker. Cheltenham Town had us all believing in the magic of the cup last night until Manchester City stepped up very late to crush the dreams of the nation’s armchair fans. Blackpool had us on the edge of our seats yesterday afternoon until Brighton retook the lead with the most severe of deflections. It was cruel but it was a goal. That’s football. For a moment, the outride world forgotten about until full time came around and then there was nothing else to do except watch The Masked singer. Apparently. I mean, I don’t, but I believe some people may. The crushing reality of having to watch Davina Macall gurning her way through truing to fathom out who was lurking beneath a Bushbaby  costume (if only there was a mask for her) no replacement for celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup in the Griffin at full time. Moreso given it wasn’t Jason Donovan or Joe Mangel when his head eventually came off.

We digress. Cripes, do we digress. I can’t wait for this one. As ever, I’d love to be there. I understand why we can’t but it doesn’t make it any easier. At least we have the TV to provide a bit of an escape and we’ll be huddled around it for sure. Taking consolation in the fact we’re not freezing to death in what already feels absolutely bitter outside my front door. The lack of frostbite a small benefit for being forced to stay home although there isn’t one amongst us who wouldn’t happily lose a few toes if it meant being able to see the game at Lionel Road?

Kick off is at 2.30pm today. BT Sport the place. There are no cameras on I-follow although Mark Burridge and team will still have audio commentary. As do BBC Radio 5 live although for me (Clive), the Parry-Reeves line up offered by their London based counterpart is always infinitely preferable for anyone heading down the wireless route. 

The day is upon us. Enjoy the game however you are following it. On tv, in the bathtub with a terrace tranny, in the gym with internet radio or just sat on the sofa. We’ll be doing the later. We’ll be hoping for another upset. Another Premier League notch on the belt. Another excuse to watch something that isn’t people giving it their all in oversized anthropomorphic costumes. Buzz and Buzette aside. Yet even they are victims of the current Corona rulings, it would seem. Oh to have a pre-match welcome from their furry faces. Curse you, Covid. Curse you.

Still, at least there is a game to watch. I’m just glad we’ll be seeing Brendan Rodgers rather than Brendan O’Carroll – the usual automatic replacement for ‘no football’. No matter how hard it is doing it from the couch. The prospect of being able to welcome a 7th (seventh) top flight team, whilst playing in the Championship, would be a quite wonderful mark of how this strangest of seasons has gone. Should we first beat a 6th. Just the small matter of Leicester City standing in the way….

This time last year – my sort of masked mystery

Nick Bruzon.

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Maupay does it again. What a way to celebrate. Again.

17 Jan

Life isn’t great at the moment. Not compared to normal. The relentless grind of Lockdown and ‘that’ virus. Games played out in empty stadia. Brentford not even able to take the field at the moment due to our own training ground being closed – albeit results have gone largely in our favour whilst we’ve been away – thanks, Luton.) Yet sitting at home yesterday afternoon there was a moment to put a smile on the face once more. Delivered in the game between Leeds United and Brighton c/o that king of shithousery, Neal Maupay. A cult hero at Griffin Park to rank alongside the best of them. 

We all loved Neal. No question. That goal and celebration at Fulham. The absolute dirt that went alongside his game. Cheeky digs. Sly tugs. A side to a Brentford player we’d not seen in a long, long time. Somebody you wouldn’t want to get close to, yet had that wonderful combination of mercurial talent combined with unpredictable volatilty. Err, what Aston Villa game? He was, rightly, lauded at Griffin Park. We’d have loved him to stay but we’ve all moved on. Our loss, Brighton’s gain. Had he stayed there’d have been no Ollie Watkins up front. Win-win.

The classic Neal image? Perhaps….

Yet, as we all know, his ultimate moment was up at Elland Road. Back in October 2018, with the scores locked at 0-0 in an early season Championship pacesetter, Ollie was brutally fouled (errr) by Leeds ‘keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Up stepped Neal to not only score from the spot but then celebrate in that quite wonderful style. Only he would have had the balls to take on the home contingent, arms aloft and fronting them out in the face of all manner of , understandable, abuse flying back. Cripes, had the boot been on the other foot we’d have been spewing. It was bad enough that the spot kick had been deemed questionable but this was then the ultimate indignity for the home support. A celebration to rank with the best of them and an iconic moment. 

It was a moment only bettered in the return fixture at Brentford when Neal scored again. Right in front of the away fans. He celebrated, again. Right in front of the away fans. Same pose, same stare, same abuse. Talk about king of wind up. The man has balls of steel. If anybody was looking to endear themselves to the home support then here it was. Griffin Park erupted. If it wasn’t possible to love him anymore, then here was the opportunity to do so. 

Then, Brighton came knocking and we went our separate ways. That’s football. Neal is still a fixture in my life – even if just through the medium of Fantasy Football. Then, yesterday, at Leeds United, it all came flooding back. He scored for Brighton. The Seagulls 1-0 up. The only thing missing being supporters to see the goal live. 

No matter. This is Maupay. This was Leeds. This is the man who lives for the moment. And sure enough, he did. He celebrated in the only way he knew how. Despite the fact there was nobody there to wind up. Oh, we all knew how much this meant. And it was brilliant. Never have I enjoyed a goal in a different division for a club I don’t even support so much. This one was all about the man, the moment and the place. What a way to liven up an otherwise desperate Saturday.

Thank you, Neal. Thank you for doing this.

It’s much more fun to win this way.

20 Oct

The greatest come back since Lazarus? Burton Albion away? Liverpool in the Champion’s League (take your pick of those – you may have heard mention of their particular ‘miracles’). The intensity of the turnaround at Griffin Park yesterday probably tops the lot. Whilst not a European trophy lifting moment or matching the relentlessness of our comeback against The Brewers, for Brentford to turn around a 2-0 deficit with 6 minutes left on the clock but end the game as 3-2 victors over Millwall was pretty, pretty good. Thomas Frank, unable to curb his own enthusiasm at full time, was quick to note that “It’s much more fun to win this way”. The boys in blue arresting a run in form that had only seen us win once since late August.

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Brentford – unbeaten in anniversary blue

And he’s right. They were words uttered on a full time touchline stroll as fans gave the head coach and his team a standing ovation. There were hugs from Saïd. Even handshakes from Matthew Benham as everybody came together once more to enjoy one of those moments that makes Griffin Park SO, SO special. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Imagine turning your back on all of this because it isn’t the set up of previous decades. Imagine not wanting to be part of this last hurrah. Imagine booing the head coach and demanding his head week in, week out. 

We aren’t Liverpool. We aren’t going to win every game every week. Sometimes we are a bit rubbish (Forest away last time out was tough viewing). Sometimes we are awful. That’s football. Yet when it all comes together there’s no place on earth I’d rather be. With my family . With my friends. With my team. A place where despite the many changes we’ve seen in recent years, on and off field, the heart of this football club is still there. Still beating strong. Still pulling us all together in a communal outpouring of joy the likes of which is still sending shivers running up the spine over 12 hours later.   Instead of joyless negativity then, personally speaking, my own preference is to focus on the positive and yesterday was about as positive as it gets.

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A belated and very happy birthday to my good friend at full time

What a game. What a start. What pressure. Ollie was returned to the right side of the pitch as Niko Karelis got that first start which had been suggested in yesterday’s article might be coming. Every now and again we call one right – it can happen. The set up looked much more balanced than at the City Ground. Surely it was only a matter of time before the goal came. Pressure built as The Bees turned the screw. Millwall not getting a look in. Karelis hit the post early on before referee Stuart Attwell then pointed to the spot for what seems an innocuous incident at best  – at least on first viewing – but let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. 

Urgh. We did. This is Brentford, innit. Ollie Watkins seeing his penalty well saved by visiting ‘keeper Bartosz Bialkowski. There was worse to come. Just before the half ended, Karelis went down with what looked like a sickening injury and was eventually stretchered off. The visiting fans showing their class, waving him off and singing cheerio as the rest of the ground gave the customary respectful applause reserved for such incidents – regardless of the team. 

And as the team readjusted, the Lions pounced. They’d not been in the hunt yet a rare foray into the Brentford box saw Raya unable to fully clear Molumby’s effort and Tom Bradshaw stabbed home from close in to leave the half time cuppas with a very bitter after taste. Typical Brentford. Dominate. Come close. So close. Slip up in a rare moment of defensive absenteeism. Stats and possession count for nothing if you can’t finish. Millwall giving the consummate demonstration as they took their one chance with aplomb. And their second. 

Mr. Attwell pointing to the spot once more after the teams had emerged. This time, Ollie Watkins adjudged to have wrestled his man to the ground. Raya unable to equal the save pulled off by his counterpart between the sticks and Jed Wallce doubled the visitor’s lead.  Painful stuff. Familiar stuff. Brentford dominant but somehow on the wrong end of the scoreline. “Where’s the midfield?“, shouted one supporter. “Up there with Natalie” replied another.

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Dougie was back for this one

Just as goals scored rather than possession and stats being the only true indicator of whether a team deserve to win is one mantra I live by, so is staying and playing until the end. So often we’ve ‘done a Brentford’ and spannered ourselves late on. See: Bristol City just last time out. Even more often we’ve taken it to the wire and pushed on. See: just about any goal Jota ever scored or Thomas and his own brand of attacking substitutions – last season in particular seeing him opt to go big rather than bringing on defensive subs in order to close out a match. And what a way to do it.

First up, Josh Dasilva. The midfielder coming off the bench to fire home from just outside the box with 84 minutes on the clock. It was a strike of precision – just as he had done against Bristol City – and gave hope for a barnstorming finish as we looked to pick up a point. Four minutes later, it was all level. Bryan Mbueno the man as his beautifully place shot from Dasilva territory seemed to drift over the defence, past Bialkowski and in to the far corner of the net. 

It all felt very slo-mo ; all very surreal. A split second wait for the random officials to wave a flag – it had happened early on in the half with Ollie called ‘offside’ as he found the net – but no. Nothing. Except an eruption of joy from fans and players alike. Get!! In!! We’d done it. Saïd Benrahma with the assist, along with an apparent deflection too, and a point all but assured. 2-2 from the unlikeliest of situations. Just please don’t cock it up from here. Please don’t ‘do a Brentford’. 

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Fans and players celebrate

You could see from the looks on the player’s faces what this one meant. How hard a level that they, and we, knew this battle had been fought at. But wait, like a  4am infomercial for the greatest hits of Country or a butcher’s knife kit, there was more. If Josh and Bryan had provided the ten CD set, it was none other than leading scorer Ollie Watkins who weighed in with the bonus extra. And what an extra. So much better than a 12 track disc of County duets.

With four additional minutes shown on the board, there WAS still time. Time for huge handbags in front of the Millwall fans as Attwell once more lost control. Time for passions to rise to even more intense levels than had already been seen. And when it came, with Ollie guiding home in the last of those additional minutes, Griffin Park exploded. The noise incredible. The relief, palpable. The joy unconfined. The noise intense. The smiles broad. The Lions silenced. The perfect payback for Karelis. The perfect reward for Thomas Frank who has come in for all levels of dog’s abuse so early in to a season in which his new squad is taking shape. Is readjusting to life without Maupay. The reaction from captain Pontus said it all. The grins from Ollie and Saïd, beautiful. Brentford up to 13th and now six points off the play-off zone. 

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Yesssssss. 3-2. 

With little over a quarter of the season gone, both ends of the table are still a long way off. We’ll play well and lose. We’ll pick up some jammy points along the way. I’m still not sure which way this campaign is going to go but it’s going to be fun getting there. As has been seen this season with the likes of Derby County, Barnsley and Middlesbrough, when we get it right we are simply wonderful. To that list you can now add Millwall. 

What a performance. What a result. What a moment. What a game that, you know what, we deserved to win.

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Nick Bruzon     

A day of questions for Clem, Sky, the BBC and lovers of football folklore.

10 Jan

Well that was a day that threw up all manner of questions. Brentford have been offered a potential ‘gift horse ahead of the visit from Stoke City this weekend whilst Manchester City have once more thrown open the age old question of brackets. This, after they hit the 7(seven) goal mark for the second time in less than a week when filling their boots against Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup.

First up, Stoke City. There’s an article on Brentford ‘official’ at present ( you can find that one here) , reminding us that it was 27 years ago that a Dean Holdsworth inspired team beat The Potters 2-0.

Cripes, it still feels like it was five minutes ago and is well worth a look. If for no other reason than the shorts and shirts on display – both of which I possess but only one of which Mrs. Bruzon allows me to wear in public. Or private. They certainly made shorts short in those days but, if nothing else, it will be a good excuse to crank something retro out of the wardrobe on Saturday.

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Yet the visit of Stoke City offers a more intriguing prospect than yours truly being poured into a pair of vinyl effect Chad shorts. Not so much the return of their new signing Ryan Woods but more the fact that the visitors have new manager. Nathan Jones. Who has, of course, joined from Luton Town. Aside from being a shoe-in for #BeeTheDJ, it does pose a a much broader question.

On the day he joined Stoke, Nathan was also named as one of the nominees for League One manager of the month for December. I hope he wins it for no other reason than it will then provide an answer to the question that probably nobody has ever asked. Until now.

Is the manager of the month curse transferable ?

We all know what is supposed to happen. Win the award, lose your next game. It is a piece of footballing folklore as old as time itself and as certain as a team featured by Clem on his ‘football focus’ previews also failing to win. At least, historically. It is worth noting that in recent times that jinx has turned itself on its head and Clem is now viewed more as a black cat than a beleaguered albatross.

But what happens when a manager moves with the award ’inflight’ ? Should he succeed, does the jinx remain at Luton Town? Does it travel with him to Stoke City? I’m desperate for Nathan to pick up the trophy just so as we can find out.

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Could Clem provide the answer?

Alongside this footballing curse, the other curio to visit these pages on a regular basis is the phenomenon of vidiprinter brackets. Regular readers will know of our love for a team scoring 7(seven) goals so that this additional qualification can be provided. No, it’s not a typo. Someone really has managed to score this many. 

And on the subject of favourite methods of goal clarification, see also use of the early evening World Cup phrase, “For those of you just coming in from work, the score is….”    

In the last 7(seven) days ‘brackets’ has happened three times. Spurs on Friday night against Tranmere and then Manchester City v Rotherham. Both in the FA Cup. Then last night, Manchester City did it again before eventually running out of steam after hitting 9 past Burton in the first leg of the league cup semi-final. The only saving grace for The Brewers meaning that as away goals don’t count double, they are spared the indignity of needing 11 should City find the net in the return game.

Yet more importantly, it once more opened the can of worms that is the etiquette of brackets. Do you keep going after 7(seven) to 8(eight), 9(nine) and beyond? Is it just prime numbers? High single figures? And then what case? Lower, Upper or a Capital letter? 

My own preference is 7(seven) only and always lower case. Never full ‘upper’ or higher numbers – both are brash, unnecessary hammering home of the fact that a team really has taken a kicking. Even a capital letter seems a little OTT. Absolutely use the 7(seven) but have a modicum of discretion and sportsmanship.

The reason for bringing this up again today – aside from having to doff several hats to Manchester City – is due to the BBC live text as last night’s game unfurled. They went through several permutations up to 9(Nine) before even chucking a 16(SIXTEEN) into the mix. 

A crossing of the streams that was as confusing as it was a terrible example for any younger fans that may have been watching. Probably. 

The point being that if anyone can give definitive authority on what the correct protocol is, and why, it would be appreciated. Until then I’ll stick with my 7(seven) and nothing else.

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Have the BBC gone rogue?

Nick Bruzon

Who will lose it at the bottom? Can the Bees make it another top ten success?

6 May

Well here we are. One final round of games awaits in the Championship. Brentford entertain Hull City AFC, knowing a win could take us as high as 7(seven)th in the final table. We already know we’ve a trip to Stoke City next season and a possible return to The Valley, if Charlton can do the needful in the League One play-offs. Yet it is at the bottom of the table where the longer term situation is perhaps more interesting. Birmingham City v Fulham is THE big one in the division today and is sure to have Bees’ fans split as to who they’d like to come away with the win. Along with the Blues, the final two relegation spots are predominantly in the hands of Burton, Bolton and Barnsley. And all this is before we get to the end of season ‘player of the year’ dinner and awards. Plus some nonsense on pitch at half time – I really wouldn’t be looking there. Move along; nothing to see.

First up, the visit of Hull. A club, like Wolves, I’ve developed a long standing and unexpected admiration for over the years. Standing up to crackpot owner? Tick. Some of the best kits ever? Tick. Correct use of AFC in their name? Tick. That said, not sure if I can forgive them for Nick Proschwitz but, hey, you can’t have everything.

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Great kits. Great principals

With the sun (and shorts) out, it promises to be a great day. At the time of writing (6.59am) the sky in TW8 is a wonderful clear blue and things are already warming up. The bank holiday awaits and it’s our last time all together for a couple of months. This really promises to be special. Even if we are left wondering whether this is the last time we see some of our heroes in action. Listening to the Beesotted podcast the other day I am curious as to whether it will be a case of farewell Ryan Woods, Andreas Bjelland and Josh McEachran – amongst other potential departures.

Whilst that is a column for another day, it’s mentioned more as a chance to really appreciate these great players. I’m desperate to see the likes of Woodsy and the World Cup’s Andreas back next season of course. Who wouldn’t? By the same virtue I’m also a realist as to how we operate. The last few seasons have taught us that. With the likes of Chris Mepham fast tracking up the football ladder at a rate of knots, the future is still looking good.

We digress. Plus ça change. The club have surprised us at just about every step of the way over the last few seasons. I can’t call what’s going to happen today, let alone further down the track. Let’s just focus on the here and now. Dean Smith wants to finish on a high. As do the fans. I can’t see much change from the side which went down at Barnsley last weekend. If only because it was so out of sorts relative to the last few months that the players themselves will be desperate to prove a point and end with three. Hull City AFC are clear of the relegation pack so can also play pressure free. This could, and should, be a good one. Get those calculators out and prepare to start tracking the goals.

At the bottom, I’m calling Burton and Birmingham City to go down. Blues fans, if you somehow see this then don’t cry. Don’t take it as some personal dig. Whatever some commentators to these pages think, I don’t ‘hate’ your club. Likewise, any perceived negativity is not down to the triple transfer swoop over the summer although, undoubtedly, it has added to a rich tapestry that has been woven over the last 26 years.

That said, Harlee Dean’s ‘ten times better’ comments are most definitely a long term dish that I would take great pleasure in serving up cold at 3pm. If you want to know why there’s such an interest in goings on at St.Andrews, then click here. You probably won’t care. That’s football and I’m not looking for any sympathy after a season spent doing battle with brave keyboard warriors, frustated by their own team’s inadequacy and looking to lash out.

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He said it….. Not me.

Yet given the hand that the fixture list has dealt today, I can’t look beyond League One for The Blues next season. If I’m wrong then will happily hold up my hands tomorrow. Likewise, I’d be genuinely happy if Birmingham do stay up – if only for another chance at six points next season. Ba-doom, Tish !

But I can’t see anything beyond a Fulham win at St. Andrew today. Words which are as distasteful to me as saying Happy Star Wars Day – May the fourth be with you.

With Preston chasing the play-offs, surely that one is a step too far for visitors Burton Albion despite their own impressive run of form in recent weeks. Sadly for Nigel Clough and his team their current streak of WWW is looking like it will be too little, too late. Even though pressure can do funny things, surely that one has to go down as ‘home win’ in the race for the final play-off spot? Doesn’t it…?

Barnsley travel to Derby County today. Derby County, a team who have mastered the art of ‘the choke’ . Who could forget that infamous play-off final against the Loftus road mob? What about the time we reached the Championship play-offs under Mark Warburton. All they needed was a point at home to an impotent Reading side yet somehow self-destructed and went down 3-0. With Barnsley fighting for their lives, that’s where I’m calling the shock (now watch it happen at Preston).

Which takes us to Bolton. Home to Nottingham Forest. Should they win, that takes them level on points with Birmingham. But they need to win well and that’s a BIG ask. The goal difference gap still sees them four behind the Blues yet they are the division’s second lowest scorers having managed just 36 all campaign. The only side having fared worse with the worse in the ‘F’ column being Birmingham who currently have a paltry 35. Compared to our own 61 or the 82 of Champions Wolves, it’s no surprise they both find themselves in such big trouble.

So the heart is ruling the head, here, but with Fulham having to win to have any chance of ‘automatic’ I’m calling four goals as a gap that can be reeled in for Bolton. Even if they need another club to do most of the legwork.

But before you go putting the mortgage on any of this then please bear in mind two things….

Firstly, I’ve not even mentioned Reading. They aren’t safe yet and travel to a Cardiff side that, like Fulham, are also chasing the other promotion slot. Secondly, my predictive skills are notoriously woeful. I’ve called Birmingham and Burton to go down but there’s as much chance of it being Bolton and Reading. Pressure can do strange things.

Instead, I’ll be at Griffin Park cheering on the Bees. Albeit with half a near on the terrace trannie. Purely out of curiosity….

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The BBC table shows just how tight things remain at the bottom

Nick Bruzon

Will there be more of the same at a price that, surely, is beyond generous?

4 Feb

Saturday morning. Match day. Except, of course, it isn’t. Brentford fans have to wait an extra day for the chance to see if we can match Tuesday night’s annihilation of Aston Villa. This time around, the visitors are none other than Brighton. A team who, whilst managing to reel in and then fend off long term runaway leaders Newcastle United, went down 3-1 at Huddersfield Town in front of the Sky TV cameras on Thursday night.

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Will the Seagulls fall victim to Dean’s killer Bees?

There’ll never be a better time for the Bees to take on the Seagulls. Brentford blew away Aston Villa on Tuesday night as though they were nothing more inconvenient than an empty crisp packet. 3-0 really doesn’t even begin to do justice to a scoreline that saw added width courtesy of Florian Jozefzoon and the wonderful Jota.

It was something noted by Dean, who used his press conference to note that “They give us an extra dimension and that enabled me to flip the system on Tuesday” (and, as ever, you can read his full interview on ‘official’).

With one defender less and more room in the middle of the pitch, Dean set his team up in much more balanced and positive formation than we’d seen in a long time. The results more than justified the tactical reshuffle. And this is before the returning Sergi Canos has even got a look in. Whilst I can’t imagine he’ll start in this one, I can already hear the reception he’ll get coming off the bench.

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Jota was back in the starting XI on Tuesday night

The big question now being whether it was a one off or if we can expect more of the same against Brighton? I hope so. Desperately. Tuesday night saw genuinely exciting football as the Bees, perhaps with a point to prove to Scott Hogan, tore Villa a new one.

Brighton, meanwhile, may well be back in second place by the time we cross paths. Newcastle United play on Saturday although a visit from Derby County won’t be the easiest fixture in the calendar. Yet if they can get the win, that adds the pressure to Albion. Especially if third placed Reading can also do the business at hapless Ipswich Town. A win for the Royals will take them to within just two points of Brighton.

Then, of course, we’ve got Thursday night to consider. Nobody needs a midweek trip to Huddersfield at the best of times, let alone when you then put in a performance that Chris Hughton would later describe saying, “Every now and again you get a real bad one, and that was a real bad one.

Perhaps he should compare notes with Steve Bruce !  To compound their misery, highly rated defender Lewis Dunk was shown the red card so misses out at Griffin Park.

One can’t help but think Brighton will be exhausted. With little over 48 hours to recover from the game and subsequent trip back from Yorkshire to the South coast, they are back on the road again.  Whilst we’ve all been victims to the vagaries of TV scheduling, this one seems extreme and yet another example of the TV companies putting teams and fans firmly in second place.

The question being if Dean Smith and his team can take advantage of this gift we’ve been offered. Brentford have already beaten Brighton in the corresponding fixture – becoming the only team this season to leave the Amex with all three points. Can we now become the first to do the double over the Seagulls? Could Sergi cause havoc in the final twenty minutes as tiredness starts to tell?

At odds of 11/5 with club sponsors 888, it seems to be free money for anybody looking to invest. Surely that’s too generous a price?

On Sunday afternoon, we find out.

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Nick Bruzon

Harlee’s the man as Scott and Romaine bisect Burton.

11 Dec

Brentford 2 Burton Albion 1 . It is a scoreline which, as ever, doesn’t even come close to telling the story of a game that the Bees could have won by more, probably should have won by more, but were ultimately grateful to end up wth three points in the back pocket and 11 players on the pitch.

Referee David Coote, a man Brentford fans may recall from last season when he incorrectly ruled out Jota’s winning goal at Fulham (for apparent offside) was at it again. A display that showed all the authority and decision making ability of White Star Line when they declared the Titanic seaworthy, even ‘official’ noted in their match report that his “Decisions throughout the afternoon frustrated many of a Brentford persuasion”.

And in a bizarre moment of handbags in injury time, his presence was almost perfunctory as he allowed the incident to escalate to a situation where any of several players, from either side, could have seen ‘red’ . Bees captain Harlee Dean stepping up to a situation where he was eventually surrounded by several irate Albion players whilst their goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin went at Romaine Sawyers like a drunken Morris dancer.

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View from the Braemar – Albion seemed agitated

Ah yes, Romaine Sawyers. What a performance from that man. No wonder the opposition were upset. His through ball to release Scott Hogan for the opening goal was quite, quite delicious. If ever you want to see perfection in a pass then here it was. The midfielder taking half the Burton team out of the game with one, exquisitely timed ball that split the defence as cleanly as a if he’d taken an axe to a watermelon.

That Scott Hogan then finished with as cool a finish as we’ve come to expect was almost secondary. Such is the talent of the man and the expectation that surrounds him whenever he gets those runs right, most of Griffin Park (official attendance 9,035 – hmmmm – was somebody counting season tickets?) was already on its feet as he stroked the ball past Mclaughlin.

Even more incredibly, the goal came from a short corner. This is not a drill. I repeat. This is not a drill. Even more incredibly, the goal came from a short corner.

It was a case of same again later in the half as Sawyers repeated his earlier trick. Hogan ran on to it once more, only to see his wonderful lob beat the ‘keeper but bounce back off the post, with the crowd already cheering a second goal.

It would have been a strike to restore our lead as in between, we’d conspired to let Burton back into the game. Instead of turning the screw and taking one of several other chances (see also: Birmingham City), sloppy defending gave the visitors an early Christmas present. Despite our three centre backs, the marking was nothing shy of ‘schoolboy’.

Jamie Ward received a cut back from the touchline and, with nobody in about ten yards of him, was allowed to stroke it home from the edge of the box. Even then, it was shot which the normally reliant Daniel Bentley may feel disappointed to have let squirm over the line.

That said, one couldn’t help but smile at the noise from the director’s box when it went in. Such was the jubilation amongst the visiting dignitaries, who must be enjoying Championship life to the max. Here’s hoping they can continue a journey which, like Brentford, is nothing but wonderful. Who doesn’t like seeing a traditional ‘smaller’ club now given the chance to play with the big boys yet more than holding their own?

1-1 at half time and the visitors still very much in it. Parity didn’t last long though. That man Scott Hogan, again, finding the back of the net from a tight angle 7 (seven) minutes into the half as the rain began to fall.

But if that was skilful, his hat-trick goal was out of this world with yet another beautifully timed run, this time onto a long hoof out of defence. He sprung the offside trap perfectly, left former Bee John Mousinho floundering and rounded McLaughlin to make it 3-1.

Except, of course, he didn’t. Referee Coote deciding that somehow the goal machine had caused Mousinho to fall flat on his backside as the two raced for the long ball. It was a ridiculous decision and one which could have cost the Bees dear. It looked bad live but having watched the highlights c/o Sky (a version of which are also now available on BeesPlayer – below) I’m still not clear as to just what is alleged to have happened.

Oh, for the dulcet tones of Mark Burridge

Instead, we held on with Lasse Vibe and substitute Tom Field (how good to see him back on) also having very good chances late on. And with the dust finally settling on the aforementioned handbags (supporters at least grateful that it was Coote rather than than Stroud in the middle) that was it. Three points for the Bees and a job well done.

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Turner’s pants as visible as his temper during the ‘handbags’

It wasn’t a classic performance but it was a win. Romaine Sawyers gave a quite magnificent two fingers up to the critics (metaphorically so) whilst Scott Hogan continues to astound. That said,  The Bees really should have put the game well out of sight whilst one wonders just what on earth Dean Smith would do without his talismanic striker.

Aswell as paying due credit to Romaine Sawyers, Harlee took to twitter to acknowledge the prowess of the big man up front. When even the club captain is saying this, the message is loud and clear.

Here’s hoping Mr Benham, our co-directors of football and Dean are taking note. It could be a long , painful January otherwise.

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Nick Bruzon

Dean Smith. If you are reading (you aren’t) I’ve got a few questions.. .

4 Dec

Norwich City 5 Brentford 0. Cripes. That’s bad. Really, really bad. And I mean from the Bees’ perspective. Up against a team touted by their own support prior to kick off as ‘pedestrian’, ‘slow’ and ‘dull’, a team who had lost five in a row prior to this one – that’s LLLLL – didn’t they administer a humping of royal proportions ? No complaints with Norwich. You can only beat who you are up against and that would seem to have been the grand total of naff all.

We’ve all caught up on what happened by now, surely. Whether through being at the game, listening on Bees Player, catching up on the video highlights c/o Sky, reading the match report, following the observations of those on social media or just a combination of the above. Yet at a time when we needed to pick up where we left off in that final half hour against Birmingham City, instead we picked up where we spent the entire game against Barnsley, Fulham, Wigan..etc . 1 step forward 8 steps back.

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The sky video shows how 1 on 3 outside the box became a penalty and 2-0

Prior to this one Dean Smith had gone on record as saying,”Sometimes we can catastrophise defeats and that leads to a demise in confidence.” If previous defeats were being talked up as a catastrophe , I can’t even begin to imagine what he makes of this one. What he can do next or how he can rejig his team and remotivate his players?

Hints are dropped in his interview on official  where Dean tells us:  “It is a performance that I thought I wouldn’t see from this group of players” before adding “I had a chat with the players and that performance can’t happen again.”

Come on Dean. Have some balls. Please. Your team who, prior to this had only won 1 in 8, have been blown off the park by the side with the worst form in the Championship. Incredibly, even Rotherham United (currently 1/50 to be relegated) managed a point over that period. For the record, 29th October against Ipswich Town. Is that response  – one which ended with ‘we go again’ style talk of future results – really the one you felt best in the circumstance?

Perhaps harsher words were exchanged in private rather than a simple chat. Here’s hoping, because something needs to be said. I recall Uwe adopting a similar line in the post match interview after the debacle at Stevenage a few seasons ago. Things transformed themselves from there as opinions were made clear in the dressing room – from all sides.

Indeed, Daniel Bentley alluded to it in his own ‘official’ interview where, amongst other things, he has come out and said: “I think I can speak for myself and the boys that I am embarrassed with that result. We weren’t good enough all over the pitch …. It was totally unacceptable. If there is stuff that is underlying then there comes a time when it needs to be said. After that tonight it was probably overdue. There’s only so long you can go without saying things that need to be said”.

What was said? By whom? And to who? Whilst I doubt we’ll ever know, let’s hope this has now cleared the air and given both Dean and his squad some element of clarity. Saturday sees us play Burton Albion, locked immediately below us in 19th place on 22 points. With the Bees in free fall – there’s no other word for 6 defeats in 8 and a mere four points over that period, something needs to change around and fast.

There’s only so much optimistic glass half full spin one can try to impart on this torrid run from a season which had begun so brightly. Fans are turning on each other in social media – always a bad sign that things are less than rosy in the garden – whilst yesterday even saw our Chairman Cliff Crown compelled to delete his own tweet about being entertained pre-match by his Norwich City counterparts Ed Balls and Delia Smith.

I’m not sure I follow the furore, here. Hardly a case of Nero fiddling given Rome had yet to start burning at the time he published that one. Indeed, whilst taking the post down in retrospect was probably a sensible precaution given the vitriol flying around and bad vibe amongst the Brentford faithful, it now makes him look as though he’s done something wrong.

We’ve all seen it and presumably such activity happens in football stadia up and down the land every weekend (mutual boardroom diplomacy and hospitality rather than Cliff name dropping B list celebrities like Ian Moose on a footballer’s birthday). Unless, of course, they were discussing rumoured transfer activity.  Although to be fair to Cliff, I don’t think he’d have been so naïve to post such a comment if that had been the case. Surely?

Look, it’s very easy to be wise after the event but even putting himself in that position in the first instance, given how we’d been performing recently, probably something that in the cold light of a day should have been reconsidered. Had we won, it would have all been seen as the bonhomie which it was and nobody paying any more notice. We didn’t and now look.

Positives on waking up this morning? Struggling here. About all I can come up with is the fact that for all we’re on the slide, the bookmakers still see us finishing the campaign mid-table. Brentford are currently 25/1 to be promoted and 10/1 to go down. Indeed, looking at the relegation suspects, aside from aforementioned Rotherham United there are still another 9 teams considered more likely than the Bees to be plying their trade in League One next season.

That said, three points against Burton on Saturday are essential. For more than one reason. Dean – if you’re reading (you aren’t) I’d love to hear how you are going to make that happen?

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Current prices to go down. Rotherham great value

Nick Bruzon

Will it be three in a row as Swansea make £5m move for former Bee ?

27 Aug

With Brentford due up against Sheffield Wednesday today, Bees fans woke to find we’d been overtaken in the table by Burton Albion whose 1-0 derby win over, erm, Derby moved them into the play-off zone. And those who went to bed really, really early have woken to the news that Championship rivals Barnsley have accepted a bid of £5million from Swansea City for former Bee Alfie Mawson.

First up, today’s game. On paper Brentford are looking good at Griffin Park. Played 2, won 2, scored 3, conceded 0. Sheffield Wednesday, on the other hand, have picked up 1 point form the last 3. On paper.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Brentford hung onto a win against Forest last time out

 

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Alfie Mawson – you can read about his unsung hero award on the EFL site

 

Nick Bruzon

With launch imminent, the Kit Obsessive returns for a look at our good, bad and ugly

21 Jul

Finally. The most protracted kit launch since the Knight Industries 2000 rolled off the production line comes to a head. ‘Official’ have announced that the new Brentford home and away shirts will be revealed on Friday and then worn on Saturday against FC Kaiserslautern. Initial thoughts on this subject have already been published but, before we look forward, perhaps time to look back.

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It’s coming. Not my words etc. etc. etc…..

Last Season I was fortunate enough to be able to write the ‘kit obsessive’ articles in the match day programme in which we looked at the best, worst and plain unusual of the visitor’s kit. Whilst for obvious reasons the feature won’t return this season – barring those newcomers to the Championship such as Burton Albion , Newcastle, Aston Villa etc  – these pages will (amongst other new features) no doubt make the odd reference to footballing fashion.

Indeed, over the years we’ve talked about the best, and worst, of Brentford shirts but never given them the ‘kit obsessive’ style treatment . So with the launch imminent, it seemed a timely juncture to close this loophole.

As ever, the categories remains : The best; the worst; the away; the unfortunate design / the retro classic. Likewise, these are picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste.

Are these right? Wrong? What are your thoughts?

For me, they are as follows….

The Best: Chad. Home 1990-92 KLM sponsored. Chad manufactured. Title winning. Simple but stunning and the most evocative of memories. No nonsense red and white with black collar and tasteful trim. I can’t look at this without thinking of Terry Evans, Kevin Godfrey, Keith Millen, Neil Smillie and, of course, Deano & Bliss. Didn’t something happen at Peterborough? My all time favourite, hands down.

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Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 06.15.17The away: Adidas. Third 2015/16 Whilst I’ve always opted for the corresponding Chad away shirt, kitman Bob pulled something very special out of the bag last season when we played Blackburn Rovers. A Brentford third kit. In black. Oh, this is a thing of beauty – and not just the image of Sam Saunders wearing it in conjunction with short shorts (which, I gather, medical advice suggests is apparently something not thought about in this already hot weather !) . We’ve gone for black again this season – can it match up to this?

 

 

The worst: Puma. Away.  2008/09 .Puma’s offering was truly horrific. It shouldn’t have been. There was nothing too fussy / garish about it whilst it had two shades of blue. But what a shade – pastel ‘baby blue’. The sort of thing a newborn might wear – until he vomited on it (which would be an improvement). Worse, it was regurgitated as 2009/10’s third kit.

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And from a home perspective, how about Puma 2011/12 Floppy black collars. They’re floppy!!? The only point of a collar on a football shirt is so as you can stand it up – preferably just at the point of entering ‘Saunder’s territory’. Sizing issues. Yet the ultimate crime is the red shoulder patches and double black trim.  A combo that makes us look like hotel doormen in knock off adidas shirts – the brand with two stripes

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Marcel Eger chose to wear a spray on shirt rather than hold it

 

Retro classic / unfortunate design: Osca. Home, 1983/84 . It just had to be. A white upper half and, for the first half of the season, worn with white shorts….. The Marmite of Brentford shirts. To some, an abhoration. To others (well, me) it’s brilliant. One man’s retro classic is another’s unfortunate design. I’m definitely in the former camp

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Here’s hoping tomorrow brings something equally spectacular.

Nick Bruzon