Tag Archives: Andre Gray

Get a plate, a knife and a fork. Add some words. Start eating.

19 Apr

Sometimes it’s just too easy. The inevitable ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ of blog columns arrives as Brentford gear up for Saturday’s home derby with QPR. Whilst Fulham may have finished above us for the first time in three seasons (although there’s still much more to come on that front), once again the Bees will finish the Championship campaign clear of the not so super hoops. With just three games to go we’re 10 points ahead – Brentford on 60 to our neighbours’ 50.

Poor Ian Holloway. Whilst it looked at one stage as though he might turnaround what had become very much a damp squib of a season, normal form has now returned. Rangers’ current record in the league reads: LLLLL and , mathematically, they still aren’t safe. Only six points separate them from third bottom Blackburn Rovers. Themselves, a team who will no doubt be going hammer and tongs for a victory when they visit Griffin Park on the final game of the season. What an awkward one that could end up being.

But if the chance to go 13 points clear of the Loftus Road outfit and push them ever closer to the trapdoor wasn’t enough inspiration for Brentford this Saturday, there’s more. Much more. Whilst one can only have huge respect for all Jake Bidwell did at Griffin Park, moreso in a week that marked the three year anniversary since our ascension from League One, how good to show him he made the wrong call? If only for that #Jakejoins hashtag.

Indeed from out of that move we’ve not only seen the true emergence of Tom Field but, as excitingly, Rico Henry recover from injury and show just how the statistical model helped pick another former Dean Smith player. To have two such comfortable looking left side players really is a rare luxury and one that has provoked intriguing discussion as to just who should start in the full back berth.

Then, of course, we’ve got the chance to do the double over the neighbours. A 2-0 win for Brentford at QPR back in October was one that saw Romaine Sawyers hit an absolute screamer to double our lead. Writing about that one at the time, it was noted on these pages that : “”Sure, the QPR defence looked holier than the Pope (and were about as benevolent) but you still need the technique to put it away. What. A. Finish.

“The look on his face before he hit it”, opined one terrace wag to me, “you just knew what was going to happen”. And sure enough, it did.””

More of the same would be just wonderful.

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View from the terrace – the net starts to bulge from Romaine’s rocket

But, of course, the biggest incentive of them all is ‘that column’, written by Ian Holloway in his pre-season guise as a pundit for Sky Sports. In it, he tipped Brentford to be relegated, saying we’d finish 23rd and incorrectly claiming we’d punched above our weight under Warbs.

“ Brentford are regressing. Mark Warburton got them punching above their weight. They still haven’t replaced Andre Gray and Alan Judge will be missing for the start of the season. They could be in trouble.”

Sorry, Ian. Punching above our weight? Regressing? The table doesn’t lie. It didn’t then. It didn’t under Dean Smith last year when we finished above both Fulham and QPR in the table (despite the early sale of Gray and the injury enforced absence of the Judge). It certainly doesn’t now. Brentford sit in 11th place. QPR are down down in 17th and still looking down the barrel of relegation.

I’m not Dean Smith. I’m just the numpty on the terrace. But even I can predict what his pre-match team talk might be on Saturday afternoon . Something Twitter correspondent Luis Adriano also noted might be making an appearance.

I can’t wait for Saturday. A West London derby is always a great thing but to have two of them back to back (of course, the trip to play off chasing Fulham is the following week) is a rare treat.

Here’s to a repeat of October. For more than one reason….

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I’m sure this was full earlier? Still eight minutes to go

Nick Bruzon

Bees got that vibe as that man beats Robins.

2 Apr

Another Saturday, another win. Brentford eased past a hapless Bristol City side 2-0 as though they weren’t even there. And in truth, for most of their first half showing, they weren’t. It was another game where we were left waiting for the consummate 90 minute performance. That’s no criticism. Perhaps with the game well safe and Tuesday night’s visit from Leeds United in mind, one can understand us slipping back down into cruise control. At the end of the day, Clive, Dean Smith will rightly point to a clean sheet, a dominant (if somewhat restrained) display, two goals and a clean sheet. And I defy any fan to tell me they wouldn’t have taken that if offered before kick off?

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View from the Braemar – Romaine Sawyers got stuck in to City (c/o Tim Griffiths, thanks!)

As ever, get your full fat match reports on the BBC, Brentford official, Beesotted etc. Those of us that were there would have seen a game that was never in doubt from the off and was all but wrapped when Lasse Vibe doubled the scoreline on 26 minutes. This, after Sergi picked up where he’d left off at Burton Albion.

The spaniard’s opener one that Brentford fans were relieved to see in more ways than one after Joe Bryan had scythed through the wing wizard leaving him prostrate in agony. For a while it looked like our man of the moment was in all sorts of trouble. “I heard that one from up here”, one observer at the back of the Braemar Road would later note. For those of us on the touchline, right in front of where the incident occurred, there were most definitely hearts in mouths

You’re Donald Trump, you are”, shouted one young fan at referee Simon Hooper. The yellow card waved at the Bristol City man engendering the wrath of supporters who had been closer to the assault than the man in the middle. Thankfully, the enthusiastic young Bee (Sergi, rather than our own political commentator) was soon back on his feet to administer the perfect payback – an opening goal as he fired home from a parried free kick on 18 minutes.

Lasse Vibe soon made it two, heading home from a ball that was fired forward into the box, flicked up as it continued it’s journey to the back of the bet and finally steered home by the Great Dane. It was due reward not only for the Brentford faithful as for two IFK Göteborg fans who had come across to see their former favourite in action.

Interestingly, Lasse’s own own strike rate in Brentford colours of 0.367 (25 goals in 68) is now just behind that of Andre Gray on 0.38 (18 in 47). However, to see just how prolific he has been (Will Grigg supporters, please take note of this true definition of ‘on fire‘) , Brentford official nailed things wonderfully.

After that, we were all expecting it to be a question of how many Brentford chose to inflict upon the visitors. Instead, as the one-sided first half came to an end,  we sat back and waited for Leeds United. Sure, City hit the bar and the post in some rare sorties but, in truth, they could still be playing now and one can only imagine they’d have struggled to hit a barn door with a proverbial banjo. They really were that far out of their depth.

As ever, Sky TV have the video highlights up already. Alternatively, the official highlights are longer, have the commentary from none other than our own Mark Burridge and, more importantly, are now available to all.

We’ve got that Vibe. And that Canos. And Mark Burridge

Outside the ground, there was a stranger than usual vibe. Choruses of  “No surrender, No surrender to the IRA” ringing around the beer garden of The Griffin in a somewhat unusual choice of prematch song from Robin’s supporters. Seriously? In 2017 this one seemed about thirty years past its sell by date. Likewise, whilst perhaps more understandable, there seemed to be a lot of agitation towards Bristol Rovers. This is Brentford. Who? Cares?

As the aforementioned Braemar Road observer would also note – “How bad do things have to be that you hate, actually HATE, Bristol Rovers?” . A team about as inoffensive to most as pink unicorns or the Care Bears.  Despite the divisional gap (for now) it did seem as though they had somewhat of a huge inferiority complex. Yeah, we get it. You hate Bristol Rovers. Yawn.  Then again, geography counts for a lot. An awful lot. Perhaps Rovers being to City as Mrs Brown and her boys or the Loftus Road mob are to yours truly.

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City supporters in happier mood at full time, despite sliding down (the table)

Oh well, perhaps they can sort it out amongst themselves in League One next season. That’s assuming City aren’t overtaken, of course. With Rovers just two wins away from the League One play offs, there’s only one point separating fourth bottom City from the relegation places in the Championship. As for Brentford, we’re up to twelfth and the knowledge that a win over Leeds United on Tuesday night could see us back in the top ten.

Beating Leeds United will be a huge ask, of course. But their own defeat to play-off rivals Reading yesterday shows it is possible, despite the goal scoring prowess of Chris Wood. With a place in the play offs all but assured, can we use this one to continue our own upward trajectory? The Bees are three points clear of QPR and Fulham have to be next in the sights. With games against both still to come, the crown of Championship kings of West London (one worn by the Bees last season) is still, mathematically, up for grabs.

If anybody was in any doubt as to what we still have to play for, Beesplayer commentator par excellence Mark Burridge summed things up perfectly once the dust had settled . “Still lots to play for, another top 10 finish & win the derby games – so much to look forward to for Brentford FC fans next season too” he opined on social media.

Well said, Mark. With just 7(seven) games to go, the season still has plenty to offer. On Tuesday night at Griffin Park we find out how much.

Nick Bruzon 

On a day of incredible shocks, have we found a new ‘best worst ever’ ?

19 Feb

With no Brentford action over this weekend there’s no real Championship action to talk about today. Instead, there’s a flashback to yesterday’s column looking at the FA Cup and the best/worst of football films where, it would be fair to say, one has most definitely got away. First up though, Lincoln City and their incredible FA Cup win at Burnley.

What can you say? It was the archetypal cup tie and a captivating game from start to finish. Andre Gray and James Tarkowski were amongst those left looking very much non-league (please, stop sniggering) whilst Joey Barton’s second half collapse in the box was a piece of football acting so bad it made When Saturday Comes, one of the films under discussion in yesterday’s column,  seem positively Shakespearean in comparison.

Here’s hoping the FA take some retrospective action. It was a terrible example for any young children who may have been watching etc etc etc and a chance missed by the BBC. Whilst, rightly, focussing on Lincoln’s incredible triumph Barton was mostly glossed over. Whilst he was discussed, his antics would be described on Match of the Day as “Just Joey’s game” – see also, his shove in the face of Terry Hawkridge.

It may be “Just Joey’s game”. It’s not the FA’s, though. Old habits seemingly just can’t go away as the whole sorry performance was glossed over. No irony has been lost today with this tweet subsequently resurfacing.

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What a performance from Lincoln. How nice to be talking about City rather than Red Imps of Gibraltar on these pages. And what a disaster for Burnley. If only they’d played like that when Marinus took Brentford to Turf Moor last season. Come to think of it, the way we played that day, we’d still have gone down .

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Turf Moor last season. Any excuse to crowbar this one in – love that unicorn

It was a wonderful cup upset with another one appearing on these very pages. One of those rare instances where yours truly has actually called something correctly. It won’t last although, whilst I’m on something of a streak, let’s tempt fate and back Brentford to beat Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night.

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The other topic under discussion yesterday was the portrayal of football on screen. The good, the bad and those efforts which crossed over into both camps. Yet one was missed. One I’d never, ever heard of yet now seen, am giving serious consideration to tracking down if the trailer is anything to go by.

Big thanks to supporter Marc Loewenthal for sharing, this : Hot Shot.

Coming soon. To a betamax near you

The 94 second trailer features, amongst other things : temporarily washed up Pay-lay (that’s Pele to you and I), an up and coming hot head,  an 80’s synth pop soundtrack and a training montage.

A training montage ! A. Training. Montage. In a trailer ! How good must this film be that they can afford to offer up this most iconic of sequences in the teaser sequence?

With a script that seems hammier than Joey Barton’s acting, the producers may aswell have just lifted it straight from the bucket marked , “One was a cop who played it straight. The other wasn’t afraid to bend the rules to get results. Yet, somehow, this unlikely pairing could just be the ones to crack the case and save the day

Nice one , Marc. And thank you.

Good luck Lincoln City in Sunday’s draw. As for me, I’m looking forward to Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday.

Can Brentford bounce back?

Nick Bruzon

What to do on FA Cup weekend? The best (and worst) of football film plus an offer for the fans.

18 Feb

With Brentford having gone missing in action at Chelsea last month, it means we’ve got a free weekend. Instead of a league game against Wolves at Griffin Park, our would be visitors host our FA Cup conquerors in a fifth round encounter that has all those classic ingredients to serve up a potential potato skin. As for Bees fans, we’ll need to put the tinfoil back to regular use and find something else to occupy us until we visit Wednesday on Tuesday. Sheffield, that is.

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For Brentford fans, the tin foil has now reverted to normal use until next season

So? What to do ? Of course, there are still the televised games. These include the aforementioned encounter at Molineux aswell as the one at Turf Moor where Andre Gray, James Tarkoswski (is he still even there?) et al provide the Goliath role as Lincoln City pay Burnley a lunchtime visit.

That one’s well worth a watch, purely for the novelty factor of seeing Burnley playing the role of giants. Yet, at the same time, I’ve got a sneaky feeling this will be the one where we have a weekend shock. Whilst the ties at Wolves and Sutton United are the obvious TV draws, expect the top class opponents, and also Arsenal, to go through. Yet with motivation, form and the entire country behind them, Lincoln look remarkable value.

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But if watching Chelsea is a painful reminder of what might have been then could I suggest an alternative? A football film. Regular readers, should such a thing exist, will know of my love of these. The pinnacle of the genre being Escape To Victory.

This has it all. Actors playing football, badly. Footballers acting,very badly. Michael Caine alongside Pele. Sylvester Stallone sharing screen time with Bobby Moore. John Wark’s moustache is worth the entrance fee alone. Come for the facial hair; stay for the Ardiles flick.

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Pele scores as the Allies escape to victory.

Yet for every Escape to Victory and, to a lesser extent, The Damned United, Fever Pitch, Mike Bassett: England Manager or even TV’s Dream Team, is a Green Street, a Soccer Dog (and the even weaker sequel, Soccer Dog: European Cup) or The Goal Trilogy. The football film is a veritable minefield of weak acting, poor script and overly laboured cliché.

Aside from Luis Figo doing ‘Just for Men’ (still got it, Figo) the only on screen football to transcend both good and bad is, perhaps, When Saturday Comes. It is a film so loaded with cliché it is fit to burst. Hard drinking park footballer Jimmy  – played by 37 year old Sean Bean  – eventually gets his break for Sheffield United after stuffing up his first trial before taking on Manchester United in an FA Cup semi final.

It is a film so loaded with inaccuracy (an FA Cup semi final at The Blades home ground, in the middle of winter, being just one of many) that you have to wonder just who gave this script the green light. And, of course, it is a film with Emily Lloyd displaying the worst Irish accent this side of Alan Partridge telling TV execs, “There’s more to Oireland, dan dis” .

Yet this underrated classic is so bad it’s brilliant. It goes beyond nonsense and into the realm of unintentional comedy gold. No mean feat for what, on paper, should be a complete car crash of a movie.

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If you haven’t seen this, you haven’t lived.

And thus talk of football films brings us, with all the subtly of an Alan McCormack challenge, bang up to date and back to Griffin Park.

Next Tuesday, 28th February,  sees Brentford and Sky Sports joining forces for an exclusive screening of the film Wonderkid.  The short film looks at one of football’s biggest issues – that of homophobia in the modern game – with Brentford doing their part to help raise awareness.

It is a cause we’ve always looked to promote and now the Bees are tackling this from a different angle, through the medium of cinema. The football film is a tricky enough genre to get right as it is, let alone with the added pressure of a serious issue. Yet, at the same time, I can’t wait to see how this goes and how it is received.

Full information about the event, including how to get free tickets, is on the club website now. See you there.

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Nick Bruzon

As transfer window starts to creak, will we be saying farewell?

30 Dec

Brentford host Norwich City on New Year’s Eve with supporters wondering if this could be our last chance of seeing Scott Hogan in a Brentford shirt. With the transfer window due to creak open on January 1st prior to the inevitable ‘slam’ shut (tm) at the end of the month, the free scoring front man is currently being linked with everybody from Newcastle United to West Ham. Even Aston Villa have been mentioned although anyone who had the misfortune to sit through the turgid encounter with Leeds United will realise it’s not so much a centre forward they need as a few crates of Red Bull. And that’s just for supporters. (please note : other energy drinks are available).

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Could these Championship rivals be the villains of the piece?

With fees as high as £15million being quoted, one really can’t see anybody blocking this move if that sort of money is genuinely on the table. Brentford have a new ground in the offing whilst have made no secret of the need to sell players over the last few seasons to ensure financial fair play criteria are met.

It is surely just a question of when rather than if? If the Christmas build up was all about the excitement of what we might receive, this next period is the opposite for supporters of a club like Brentford. The fear of who we could lose.

Like it or not, that’s the reality the club find themselves in. Being honest with ourselves, the play-offs look a leap too far at present. Much as I’m a footballing romantic and never say never, the simple fact is that we have too much quality ahead of us in the league table. Too much consistent quality.

Were Dean Smith’s team putting in the performances game after game then fair enough. But sadly, we aren’t. For every last twenty minutes against Birmingham or Cardiff is a performance like the respective first halves in those games. For every defeat of a Brighton(a) or Reading is a Barnsley or Fulham no-show.

The manager is still struggling to settle on his best team and formation. Substitutions seem haphazard whilst certain players are untouchable; others can’t get a look in. At times we look like world beaters. At others, a side lining up to let the opposition dominate.

You have to remember, also, that historically we’ve rarely (if ever) had things so good. After years of mediocrity results wise, we had that wonderful period under Uwe Rosler before Mark Warburton got us over the League One line. Since then, we’ve more than held our own in the Championship. The. Championship.

Whilst everybody wants wins and results , things need to be put a little bit into context. To see 10,000+ crowds week in, week out. To see Brentford on the cusp of a fourth season at a higher level after decade upon decade of League One or Two mediocrity. To have players that other teams are prepared to pay us millions upon millions of pounds for.

All of this is just a bit surreal. Even now. I’m still of the belief that we could, probably should, have gone up to the Premier League in 2014/15. But for village-gate who knows what might have been. Equally though, that’s behind us and the aforementioned context now needs to be the thing with which we view our longer term prospects.

But if we are unlikely to go up, this time, what about the other way? Allowing for the rose-tinted glasses of home support, going down would seem a tough act for any team in Brentford’s position. Even if we were to lose our principal goal threat.

Rotherham lost, again, last night whilst Wigan are doing their level best to join them on a trip back to League 1 ( sorry, who’s on fire did you say?). After that, QPR, Blackburn and Cardiff City are slugging it out for third spot. I’m still hoping Ian Holloway’s pre-season prediction of a West London relegation comes true. Moreso with the Bees due to host the hapless hoops towards the end of the campaign.

Other sides and other supporters have it no easier than us. I’d much rather be in our shoes than those of former Premier League champions Blackburn. For all that, at times, we’ve frustrated on the pitch in recent months, Brentford aren’t alone.

Just watching the fare on offer between Aston Villa and Leeds was a stark reminder that a gritty form of combative football followed by a final fifteen minutes of frenetic thrusting is not uncommon. And this was from two, so called, giants of the English game. Teams with genuine aspirations to return to a top flight they graced for so long. With aspirations to return to European competitions they’ve previously performed heroics in – something that looked a long way off on Thursday evening.

Should Scott Hogan leave us for Newcastle United, West Ham or other then I’ll be gutted. Likewise, if Alan Judge says farewell or Jota fails to return from Spain. Both are equally possible. But I’m also realistic about our position and how the club works. Given where we are this season then, for now, it seems a case of cashing in and holding station. A case of taking a tactical gamble whilst still picking up points and goals from other sources.

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Could scenes like this be a thing of the past?

I’ve seen some supporters say they’d give it up for the season if the aforementioned triumvirate leave in January. I don’t believe that for one second. I may be a numpty on the terrace. There may be twits on the sidelines or over enthusiastic keyboard warriors in a banana republic. That’s football and we all have opinions. However, the one thing we also all have in common is that we’ve supported this club for far, far too long. And it’s great.

We know we sell. We know we make things hard for ourselves. But we all know how much we love it supporting the Bees, no matter what fate throws at us.

Dean spoke about Norwich City yesterday, saying: “It is an important game for us because we want to exorcise the demons from the Carrow Road defeat

This much is true, but should Scott Hogan be sold then it could also see those of us who are a bit longer in the tooth needing to exorcise a more familiar demon. That of history. Dean Holdsworth, Gary Blissett, Nicky Forster, DJ Campbell and Andre Gray to name but a few.

Will it happen? Next month, we find out. Until then, here’s to stuffing the Canaries. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Where’s Billy when you need him?

1 Dec

Brentford head into Saturday’s game with Norwich City on the back of three successive defeats and only one win out of the last 8 games. That recent hat-trick of ’nil points’ against Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City has only intensified scrutiny on Dean Smith with supporters starting to ask where the next win is going to come from. This is probably not how Dean envisaged his one year anniversary at Griffin Park (which the club announced on Twitter yesterday) and so it will be very interesting to hear what the press ask him today.

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Dean Smith at the start of this season

Here’s hoping they ask some hard hitting questions, for once. Less money for old rope and more action would be nice. With the king of gentle probing Billy Reeves currently out of action until the end of the year, there’s been nobody to really step up and fill his boots in recent weeks.

Ahh, Billy. The deadly assassin. Practiced in the dark art of asking that killer ‘to the point’ question, albeit delivered in the most charming and almost apologetic of styles, I’d love to know what he would put to Dean at the moment in regards to the current run and his approach to the game with Norwich City. Can anybody pick up the gauntlet?

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So Uwe. Stevenage…..?

Nobody could pretend we’re not displaying anti-form at the moment, certainly result wise. Is it as simple as just needing that little twist of fate; for something to go our way? Certainly we had the lion’s share of possession and chances against Birmingham – just couldn’t quite put more than one of them away for well documented reasons. Or is it more down to his team selection and substitution strategy  – the later of which has seemed dreadfully late, reactive and decided using a roulette wheel in recent weeks?

Being more down to earth, are the team just finding their level in the Championship this season? We’ve been wonderful at times; awful at others. The table doesn’t lie and so he (and we) can have no complaints with 16th based on what we’ve seen. The questions are now – Dean, what are you going to do about it? When are we next going to win a game?

I saw a comment on Twitter last night in regards to the aforementioned one year anniversary. Official highlighted his win ratio and a reply was posted comparing him to previous managers.

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Whilst not strictly true – who could forget the Marinus experiment – further investigation via the medium of our most recent result records at Soccerbase.com has revealed this isn’t too far off the mark. Looking at managers who have been in charge over the last 10 calendar years – so starting with Martin Allen who left at the end of the 2005/06 season – the ranking for all those occupying in the Griffin Park hot seat, including caretakers  is as follows :

51.28%  Mark Warburton (41 wins out of 78 games)

50% Lee Carsley (5 out of 10)

43.79 % Uwe Rösler (60 out of 137)

43.55% Martin Allen (54 out of 124)

42.85% Nicky Forster (9 out of 21)

38.1% Andy Scott (64 out of 168)

36.73% Dean Smith (18 out of 49)

25% Barry Quinn (1 out of 4)

22.22 % Marinus Dijkhuizen (2 out of 9)

21.74% Terry Butcher (5 out of 23)

16.67% Scott Fitzgerald (4 out of 24)

13.04% Leroy Rosenior (3 out of 23)

0% Alan Kernaghan (0 out of 1)

So no surprises up at the top and one which will no doubt have many asking the eternal question – why? That’s been and done. Much like Jota, Stuart Dallas, Moses Odubajo, Andre Gray, James Tarkowski (well perhaps not) et al, crying over it isn’t going to bring him, or any former fan favourite back to Griffin Park . Is it?

Besides, I’m more interested in the ‘here and now’. Discussing the win ratios with one New Road observer last night, he has pointed out something which stacks up far more interestingly than overall career percentages. Recent form. Look at the result records in Marinus’ last 9 games and Dean’s most recent over the same period…..

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Marinus form

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Dean Smith form

Matthew Benham doesn’t strike me as the trigger happy sort so those calling for a change (there are some, apparently) would probably be better putting their energies elsewhere.  From what we’ve been told, the Marinus experiment ended because of more than just results. Yet at the same time those of us on the sidelines only have results to go on. And at present they aren’t great.

If Dean was ever going to give an invigorating press conference, then today would be a good day. If Brentford were ever going to get back to wining ways, then Saturday against a Norwich City team whose current form read: LLLLL, would be the perfect time.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Come on Dean – let’s see what you’ve got.

Come on you Beeeeesss!!

Nick Bruzon

 

A goal, a goal is all we need…

23 Nov

It’s only Wednesday. The interminable wait until Brentford host Birmingham City on Saturday continues. If anything, it is a wait made all the more painful by our previous outings – the lacklustre defeat to Fulham followed up by Brentford going down by the odd goal in 5 at Blackburn.

In the understatement of the decade, Dean was quoted after that one as saying that he didn’t expect us to concede the goals we did. “I felt this was a place that we could come and score goals. Unfortunately, I didn’t expect us to concede the goals we did”, said Dean etc etc.

Just for good measure, we got a graphic of this one too.

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Whilst it seems obvious, and the gut reaction was one of contemplating whether this was even an act of parody, thinking about it more I think I get what he is trying to say. The goals were all sloppy, all unexpected and all out of character (other cliches are available). Indeed, of our 17 Championship games so far, 6 have seen us keeping clean sheets whilst it would be fair to say that Daniel Bentley hit the ground running between the sticks.

Further, only 7(seven) Championship teams have conceded less than our 19 goals over that period. That said, the left back situation is one I’d like to see cleared up sooner than lately. Nobody can doubt the international class and calibre of Andreas Bjelland but he is still a man pressed into an unfamiliar role. Roll on the return of Rico Henry and then the hope he lives up to all his plaudits . No pressure there.

It is up front where perhaps the situation is more interesting and different to any of our previous seasons playing at this level. In our first Championship campaign, Andre Gray was our top scorer in the league (16) but was ably supported by Alex Pritchard, Jota and even Jonathan Douglas who all weighed in with 13, 10 and 8 goals respectively . Last time out, it was another shared load. But for injury, who knows where Alan Judge would have stopped – he’d got 14 league goals up until that horrific broken leg. Lasse Vibe ended on the same figure whilst Scott Hogan, Sergi Canos and John Swift all managed 7 (seven)

Granted, we’re only just over a third of the way through the campaign but it doesn’t seem to me as though the same pattern is being repeated this time around. Rather than the shared workload, we are reliant on one man. And what a man !

Goal machine Scott Hogan is miles out in front with 10 league goals already. He’s picked up the baton from where he left off last season and is currently just a few behind Newcastle United’s Dwight Gayle in the race for leading Championship scorer. But after that it is a  case of slim pickings in the league. Centre back John Egan is next with 3, Josh Clarke and Lasse Vibe 2 before a handful of players have one apiece.

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Can one man do it all on his own?

It’s great that we have a free scoring centre forward. His timing and technique are clear for all to see. The question now is whether he gets the support that has been so much a part of our game over the last few campaigns ? Whilst, generally, we’re keeping it tight at the back up front we’ve drawn a blank 4 times out of the last 7 (etc) games . Is this a blip? Are teams getting wise to us? Does Dean have a plan B for getting the goals? Does he even need one?

At the end of the day, Clive, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. I’ve no sort of tactical insight and what I know about running a football team you could write on the back of a matchbox. But for a club who, whether rightly or wrongly are held up as one for whom statistical analysis is a a key part of our make up, those are a few for thought.

I’m genuinely not sure which way will it go against promotion chasing Birmingham City. Will the goal machine keep on firing? Could somebody else get their name on the scoresheet? Will it be another blank for the Bees? The permutations in my head keep veering wildly between the three and I can’t call it at this juncture.

However, with our record against the Blues a less than favourable one in recent seasons W0 D1 L3), not to mention a fair amount of historic rivalry, I’d be well happy with a gritty 1-0. Hogan.

We can worry about the bigger picture after that.

Nick Bruzon

A shock u-turn. But have the bookies got it wrong for the Villa game?

13 Sep

Well that’s a bit of an about turn. With Brentford heading into tomorrow night’s game at Aston Villa sitting eighth in the Championship table, just two points behind second placed Newcastle United, the mood is a positive one. Of course, we had the marvellous win down at Brighton on Saturday but, perhaps as importantly, we’ve now had an apology from Ian Holloway

Back in early August, the former Bee (his other clubs including Bristol Rovers and, of course, the Loftus Road mob) incensed Brentford supporters with his pre-season prediction that we would go down. Writing under the moniker of ‘football expert’ in his column for Sky Sports , he called us out to finish in 22nd place, noting: “Brentford are regressing. Mark Warburton got them punching above their weight. They still haven’t replaced Andre Gray and Alan Judge will be missing for the start of the season. They could be in trouble”.

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Ian Holloway – predictions as good as the kits of his playing day

Reaction at the club fans’ forum later that week was unanimous: “I just think it proves he doesn’t know a great deal about football, especially in West London” was the frank response from Chairman Crown. A similar observation came from Mark Devlin, who noted,  “Who cares what pundits say” whilst Phil Giles was a bit more diplomatic, noting that Ian had commentated on the Bees in two very poor performances last time out. Perhaps that had crept into his prediction?

But it was Rasmus who came out with the zinger of the night. Fusing corporate with club, his observation on the former QPR man’s prediction of  22nd was a simple:  “Thats not what Smartodds says”.

Which, I suppose, is amongst the reasons that he is the chairman of FCM aswell as a (newly appointed) club director at Griffin Park. Congratulations Rasmus. And, likewise, Phil , who also has similar role.

But I digress. There was something of a U-turn in Ian’s column yesterday as looked ahead to the Aston Villa game. He used that one to note, “I didn’t see Brentford’s wonderful win at Brighton on Saturday coming. I put them in the relegation zone in my pre-season predictions and I apologise wholeheartedly, they’ve lost some good players but they’ve got some good ones in.

What about Scott Hogan’s goal at the weekend? He jinked, he twisted and smacked it in the top corner. Unbelievable! So I’m giving another away victory to Brentford. I think it’s difficult for Aston Villa to win at home in front of that crowd when you’re expected to. Brentford will be a tough nut to crack.”

Fair play to him for eating those words. A month is a long time in football. Six games even longer. Whilst the table is still four games away from officially ‘taking shape’ we are starting to get a bit more of an idea about the form of the various runners and riders.

Huddersfield have already shocked many observers, as have third placed Barnsley . Ian called them to finish 23rd and 19th respectively, so at least Brentford aren’t alone. Frankly, as we’ve seen over the last two seasons, the Championship is just too open and too hard a decision to make such predictions.

As for the win he didn’t see coming or those goals from the player who just hasn’t replaced Andre Gray, why not take one more look…

Hogan makes it 10 from 10 as Andre Gray isn’t replaced. Or missed

But if Ian Holloway was in contrite form, the Brentford head coach was ebullient. He used his press conference ahead of Wednesday’s game to note: “The supporters at Aston Villa expect them to get straight back to the Premier League but they had a terrible season last year, adding “they have had a big turnaround and I am not sure that confidence is fully back yet. There has been a big change around in players but they have only won one game out of their six so far. Hopefully it is the right time for us to play them

You can’t knock his confidence although, equally, one would hope he hasn’t done the job of giving Roberto Di Matteo’s team talk for him. That said, he did also note that “they played very well against Nottingham Forest yesterday and deserved to win the game.” But I’m with him on this one.

We DID play well on Saturday and are the team to beat. It will be tough, no question, but perhaps with a few fitness related tweaks to the starting XI, Aston Villa will find us as tough a nut to crack as Brighton did.

That said, if anybody does have faith in the team and accepts Mr Holloway’s new found belief in the Bees, club sponsor 888sport have us at a very generous price. Whilst it is said that the bookies are rarely wrong, surely this is too good an offer to pass up?

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The other fall out from the Brighton game was an admission from Harlee Dean that he had been involved in some theatrics . West London’s Premier journalist Tom Moore published an interview with the player in which he is attributed to have said: “It’s modern-day football. I had an incident in the first half with Hemed when I went down. It was embarrassing for me, falling on the floor as a six foot three centre half.

“That is the way the game is played now and I’m disappointed in myself but it’s something that’s got to go out of the game. I don’t know why I did it.

Refreshingly honest from our club captain or somewhat naive? Probably a bit of both although, equally, I find it a tad strange that he would admit this than for no other reason beyond knowing how picky referees are being this season. With Keith Stroud due at Griffin Park this weekend for the Preston game, admitting that you go down easily isn’t, perhaps, the most advisable course of action .

Then again, when Harlee was on his feet at the Amex, nobody could deny that he, along with John Egan, had a rock solid game at the back.

Here’s hoping for more of the same at Villa Park.

Nick Bruzon

On a day of on and off-field shock, meet the Liverpool of the Championship.

21 Aug

Early season form. What can you say? Saturday afternoon saw Brentford go down 1-0 to a Rotherham United team who recorded their first win of the campaign. In a game where the stats may tell a different story (see also Liverpool at Burnley, a game in which former Bee Andre Gray could at least provide one meaningful contribution to a somewhat controversial day) we ended up second best. Yet Dean Smith’s team still sit in eighth place on 6 points, level with the Loftus Road mob and a Newcastle United side who have started to rack up the points. Finally.

That said, our head coach has made that  most awkward of comments at full time, saying : “The better team lost on the day but that’s football sometimes.” No, Dean. No. Don’t believe the manual.

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A coaching manual, yesterday

Chances and possession are not what wins football matches. Goals are. Rotherham scored one. We didn’t. When that happens 67% possession and 18 shots (4 on target) count for nothing. By definition, they were the better team. Had we been better we’d have put one away.

It’s the sort of quote you’d expect from a Russell Slade or Steve Evans and whilst, perhaps, made on the spot is the type of thing we’ve all leapt on and laughed at in the past. Certainly, when made by an opposition manager.

Dean Smith is by no means in that category and so, hopefully, this was just an unfortunate choice of words more than anything else. Likewise, it could just be me over-analysing yet comments of this nature, made in defeat, always stand out like a sore thumb.

Even Pele sometimes ditched the passing to go straight for a shot on goal

Instead and you can’t fault the patches of creativity seen on the highlights package, it was another case of close but no cigar. Plenty of oohs and ahhs for Brentford but no end product as Rotherham managed to spring the offside trap for Danny Ward to grab the only goal of the game. The action is on the Sky website now or further below from ‘official’) if you want to take a look at what happened.

I wasn’t there. I can’t really comment on a game based on just a few minutes of commentary free video action. As ever, the BBC, Beesotted and Brentford official are your places for that. What  I can see are those stats.

The aforementioned 67% possession  and 18 shots should, in theory, have warranted more. Yet with only 4 of those on target it was proof, yet again, that if you are going to pick a game plan of hanging on to the ball then you need to be able to finish. Or, at the very least, test the goalkeeper on a regular basis.

I remember a similar scenario at Burnley last season. Marinus producing one of the most negative displays I’ve ever had the misfortune to sit through. We had 62% possession and 4 chances that day too. We also came away on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat.

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That Burnley game last season

Ironically it was Burnley who, like Rotherham, showed yesterday that minimal ball retention can still win games. Liverpool had a stunning 81% possession and 26 shots yet still left Turf Moor having succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in the Premier League. Andre Gray providing an assist and a goal before he would later provide the retrospective tweets that would split the footballing community down the middle.

Brentford, the Liverpool of the Championship? Possibly. We’ve already been the Barcelona of the lower leagues so why not. I’d be happy to emulate their historical record, that’s for sure.

Look.It’s still far too early to tell how any team’s season is going to go. Whatever happened yesterday, I’m happy with six points so far although Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday won’t be easy.

The Owls are slithering down the table after their opening day win over Aston Villa. With their fans somewhat frustrated (do check #SWFC on twitter) they’ll be desperate to “go again”.

Regardless, we are already two points further ahead than this time last season. Brentford have a 100% home record and are yet to concede a goal at Griffin Park.

Now those are stats I can live with.

Until then, here’s Mark Burridge and the official highlights package.

Nick Bruzon

As Ipswich visit Brentford, Charlton go mad and Solo goes home.

13 Aug

Finally. Match day at Griffin Park. Brentford entertain Ipswich Town with the smart money wondering just which of our players they’ll attempt to break this time around (hey, we may aswell get it out early). Charlton Athletic, already as popular as a Mexican at Donald Trump rally, have ‘gone again’ whilst, with Lasse Vibe continuing his quest for Olympic gold, USA goalkeeper Hope Solo has done her very best to make events at the Valley seem (relatively) sane.

First up though, we can only start with the Bees where Ipswich Town are the first visitors to Griffin Park in 2016/17. It would be fair to say that Brentford very much ended with the advantage over Ipswich last time around.

A 3-1 victory at Portman Road for Brentford, including a brace for Denmark international Lasse Vibe, was a fine win in game marred by that brutal assault on Alan Judge from Luke Hyam. It was one that  left the Irishman with a horribly broken leg and his Euro 2016 ambitions in tatters whilst Hyam was only booked. It took another foul, on Ryan Woods, to see the correct sentence eventually administered.

The preceding fixture, to open the campaign, had seen Ipswich snatch (metaphorical) defeat from the jaws of victory. 2-0 up and cruising, the arrival of Jonathan Douglas for the Tractor Boys with just 12 minutes left on the clock saw two very late goals conceded and the former Bee put Jota out of commission for the next few months.

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Bru celebrated (too soon) as Ipswich opened the scoring last season

What can we expect today? No idea, being honest. I’m not a pundit, just the numpty on the terrace. The first few games of the season are always so hard to call and, with Bees fans still not clear on our first team (moreso with the aforementioned Vibe on Olympic duty for Denmark), it remains hard enough to predict Dean Smith’s starting XI, let alone the result.

With Ipswich having already got off to a flier with a 4-2 home win over Barnsley, like the Bees they came crashing back down to earth with a mid-week 1-0 EFL cup defeat at the hands (or should that be feet?) of league 2 opposition. Losing at Portman Road to Stevenage hardly the ideal prep for today’s game.

I’ll be happy to avoid defeat and any more serious injuries. Ipswich fans always travel well and have done nothing in the past but provide friendly banter in the pubs around the ground before and after kick off. With hot weather promised here’s hoping for a great afternoon, a clean game of football and, perhaps, victory by the odd goal in three for the Bees.

And for the rest of the look at Ipswich Town you can catch up with two new, regular features on our opponents that will be appearing before most home games.  The Last Word on….. and Kit Obsessive, are available now.

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other pubs are available too

Aside from Championship football, there can’t be anybody who didn’t read about the crazy goings on at Charlton Athletic yesterday. One supporter being sent a letter saying that they’d have to pick up their Season Ticket in person and that it would only be handed over if a good behaviour contract was signed. Apparently some “not particularly constructive” comments about the club on social media had upset the top brass at the Valley

With Roland Duchâtelet crying in the corner like a timid schoolboy after being picked on by the mean kids, the club have taken the step of saying that the ticket will only be handed over in exchange for a signed promise that they “refrain from posting derogatory or inflammatory comments regarding the club or people representing the club in the future on any social media websites” .

This is just staggering. Caught in possession of flares or bringing beer bottles onto the terrace, fair enough. But being rude about Katrien Meire is hardly grounds for a banning order.

If Brentford were to adopt this stance then a cursory glance at the GPG would see our average attendance instantly cut by about a  quarter. And that’s just from supporters criticising each other, let alone discussing our management.

Fortunately for Mr Banana and the rest of his cyber gang, freedom of speech is alive and well at Griffin Park.

When the question was put to Matthew Benham on social media yesterday, our own chief executive Mark Devlin responded within minutes to confirm:

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Elsewhere, Lasse Vibe continues his quest for Olympic gold this evening. Denmark take on Nigeria in a quarter final that kicks off at 8pm. Having been absent this long, I’m sure Dean Smith is hoping to have the player back sooner than later. Yet, at the same time, should the Danes keep their run going then nobody could deny the morale boost of seeing Lasse back at Griffin Park with a medal around his neck.

Meanwhile, in the women’s football the USA were knocked out by Sweden on penalties yesterday. And, it would be fair to say, goalkeeper Hope Solo has not taken defeat well. She produced a stunning rant , packed full of more sour grapes than Steve Evans drinking Blue Nun with Ian Moose and Russell Slade.

I’m very proud of this team” she said,  “but I also thought we played a bunch of cowards.The best team did not win today”. Solo added, “They didn’t want to play great soccer. It was a combative game, a physical game. Exactly what they wanted and exactly what their gameplay was.”

This, having earlier calling a halt to proceedings before the decisive spot kick to request a new pair of gloves. An unsporting move that proved ultimately futile.

Whatever you think about the Olympic ideals being tarnished by Russian doping scandals, the spirit of sporting behaviour remains one of it’s strongest principals. What a shame Solo forgot about this and produced a terrible example for any young children who may have been watching etc. etc. etc.

Swedish coach Pia Sundhage nailed it though, responding with the wonderful comment: “I don’t give a crap. I’m going to Rio; she’s going home.”

For once, choice language the absolute order of the day.

Going somewhere, Solo? Only home!  And for the record, it’s football. Not soccer.

Nick Bruzon