Tag Archives: Andreas Bjelland

What a wonderful gesture for fans. There’s still time to get involved.

7 Sep

With the Brentford Fan Forum tonight and the return to Championship action approaching with the trip to Aston Villa on Saturday there’s going to be more than enough to talk about over the next few days. So we’ll keep this relatively brief and acknowledge our near neighbours QPR. Specifically the fact that this Saturday sees them celebrate the 100th anniversary of their first fixture at Loftus Road when Ipswich Town visit. For the stat lovers amongst us, 8th September 1917 saw QPR take on West Ham for the stadium’s opening game and now they are looking to celebrate a centenary.

It wouldn’t be a ‘new stadium’ story without West Ham muscling in on the act. Apparently, and you may have missed it, they moved recently. Albeit these days the buzz is less about their own Olympic Park and more their owners. But that’s another story.

This time around, QPR are the team in the limelight. And to help mark this occasion they’ve been asking fans to use the hashtag #LoftusRoad100 to post pictures on Twitter. The best of these will then feature on the programme for the Ipswich game.

What a lovely gesture. And how great to see the reaction of supporters. Not just from QPR but other clubs, too. Not least Brentford where several of our fans have got involved in the action to help our neighbours mark the date. Photos of the stadium exterior, players scoring goal after goal, Romaine Saywers and even the technicolour marvel that is the scoreboard are all featured.

So do take a quick look. #LoftusRoad100. And for anybody wishing to get involved, the closing date for entries is 10am today.

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100 years of Loftus Road. Can you help them celebrate?

As for Aston Villa, I can’t wait to get back to action on Saturday. What with several of our heroes moving on, the Stadium news and Gibraltar shipping 9 in Belgium it’s been a turbulent week or so for yours truly. But all that’s behind us and its time to look forwards.

And what better way to do so than with the major positive being Sergi Canos. The Spanish wing wizard featuring in the B-team fixture at Griffin Park, against QPR of all teams, earlier in the week.

Whilst I missed the final score, I do know that he made it through 66 minutes of the game and seems as excited as ever about playing at Griffin Park. Certainly if his own Twitter feed is to be believed.

We all know how good Sergi is and what he can do. At a time when some of us might need a shot in the arm, to have him back will be a wonderful thing. Aston Villa haven’t had the best of starts and will no doubt be there for the taking, albeit I’m going for my standard Villa bet of 1-1 in this one (for research purposes, that’s currently available at 23/4).

The Villans sit just above Brentford in 18th place and, it would be fair to say, so far haven’t set the world alight this season. See also: last season. Moreso, for a team inexplicably tipped as title favourites when the campaign began.

That said, our own record isn’t as good as some of our play suggests. However, and quality though they were, with both Harlee and Max departing for Birmingham at least the plethora of defensive combination should be whittled down somewhat. There was a double pair of Danish clean sheets for Andreas Bjelland and Henrik Dalsgaard during the break, which will only have the defensive duo in high spirits. Chuck Sergi into the mix and who knows what could happen?

Whilst I’ve called it 1-1, Villa failing to score is an equal possibility. Certainly if our old friend SimonHateley on twitter is to be believed. He’s recently posted a wonderful graphic showing just how Villa Park really is THE place where goalscoring form goes to die.

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Villa Park. Where form goes to die. Apparently

That’s all to come though. First up we have the Fan’s forum. Don’t forget that one starts at 7.00ppm tonight in The Hive and so do get along if you can. I can’t imagine many other clubs doing this on such a regular basis and what a great chance to put anything you may wish to ask to our top brass.

Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

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Will we slip on another potato skin or dodge that lower league bullet ?

8 Aug

It seems like only five minutes ago that Brentford performed those League cup heroics against Hull City and Everton, before narrowly missing out on Round 5 via a last minute equaliser and penalties against Birmingham City at St. Andrews. Infact, it was 2010 and The Bees first XI included the likes of Mickey Spillane, Craig Woodman and Pim Balkestein. Whilst the squad has evolved from that small League One group it would be fair to say that our record in the competition hasn’t been a great one since then. Could Tuesday night’s game in Kingston against AFC Wimbledon see us get back to winning ways?

The wins over higher division Hull and Everton were wonderful occasions, no question. The latter in particular seeing a practically full strength Premier League team beaten by a never say die Brentford XI. Gary Alexander scored the equaliser and Charlie MacDonald even had the luxury of seeing a penalty saved before the eventual spot kick triumph. Richard Lee the man on form then.

Gary Alexander does his thing against Everton. 1-1

Now, we are the team to be shot down. A high performing Championship club travelling to an AFC Wimbledon side whose own ascension through the divisions and struggle to find a home has been a story in itself. Yet the game presents a huge potato skin for a Brentford side that is sure to be changed one from that which lost out to Sheffield United on Saturday.

The last time we won a League Cup tie Montell Moore and Nick Proschwitz (not a typo) were amongst the scorers in that defence shredding 6-6 at Dagenham and Redbridge. Kevin O’Conor played what was, if I am correct, his last ever game for the Bees – scoring what proved to be the decisive spot kick in the subsequent shoot out.

Since then the wheels have come off somewhat. We lost at Griffin Park to Fulham. At the time, something of a rarity for the Cottagers whom we would go on to take 10 points out of 12 from over the course of the following four league games. Didn’t Jota do something in the last minute, too?

Then there was the humiliation handed out by Oxford United at home as the Marinus experiment came crashing down to earth with a bump. Regular readers may be aware this gets mentioned a lot but it is important to never forget how bad that was. The team he selected was one which, long term, had a few players who are now regular (Nico, Lasse, Andreas) but at the time was an untested mixture of youth and new faces. 3-0 down in 12 minutes, that we only lost 4-0 was the main miracle of the night.

It was the consummate example of the flawed logic in both wholesale, untested change and woeful man management. Never forget.

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The Oxford United fiasco  / Marinus experiment (neither being prog rock bands)

Then last season it was the turn of Exeter City to dump us out in the first round. Despite Harlee Dean, John Egan, Josh Clarke and Sam Saunders amongst those picked, Brentford struggled to a 0-0 before Ryan Hartley got an extra time winner for the Grecians.

And now is the time to go again. I can only expect more change tonight but this time I fear for Wimbledon. Harlee is available after suspension.Yoann Barbet was benched on Saturday. Likewise Maxime Colin. Expect the pace of Josh Clarke down the flank and surely starts for Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins. I’d imagine Flo Jo will begin on the left with with a very strong bench, just in case.

As the higher placed team we’re there to be shot down, just as Everton and Hull were all those years ago. That’s one of the privileges of being a Championship side and, sadly, a bullet we’ve taken more than once in recent years.

Will this time around be any different? A full house of Bees fans will be there to roar us on with only 200 tickets remaining on the gate. Watch out for the traffic delays though and get there early.

See you there. Until then, here’s one of the highlights from the Everton game. When our mascot was told to keep holding the hand of his young counterpart, he took that instruction quite literally.

 

Nothing puts Peter Gilham off his stride

Nick Bruzon

Bring on the Blades. Time to chop down the Forest

5 Aug

For gods sake… you don’t want to go up Brentford’. ‘Smith out’. Just some of the tongue-in-cheek comments after Brentford crashed out of the play-off zone and down to eighth place as the Championship kicked off in anger on Friday night. A win for Nottingham Forest combined with a point apiece for Sunderland and Derby County saw the Bees overtaken before we’ve even got our boots on. But with the trip to Sheffield United finally here, the moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived.

Of course the table is purely in an embryonic and predominantly alphabetical state at present. Whilst Mark Warburton and his Nottingham Forest team will undoubtedly be pleased with the win that sends them temporarily top of the pile, it is nothing more than a statistical nicety for now. Newcastle United were bottom of the lot with nil points after two games last season and look how that all turned out.

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Forest top the lot. Temporarily, I’m sure

Yet to see things event starting to move around after months of 24 teams showing P 0 has got the spine tingling. Months of Aston Villa topping the lot by virtue of their place in the dictionary over the rest of the Championship. Thankfully, that statistical glitch has been resolved and the normal order of things can start to take hold once more with, for the record, their standard score of 1-1 available at 11/2 this afternoon when Hull City are the visitors. I mention this purely for research purposes.

But we digress. As ever. Today is all about Sheffield United and Brentford. Thankfully Keith Stroud is not in charge – and for anyone late to that party, let’s just say that when our big chance came a few years ago, he saw red. Plus ça change. Regular supporters know the drill at this point so let’s leave that one here. Another rant on his performance won’t help today’s proceedings.

Instead, Stephen Martin is in charge. His own record in 2016/17 was a very healthy 78 yellows from 35 games officiated. He only showed 3 red cards all season – ironically, the same amount as Stroud showed in that one night at Bramall Lane back in April 2013.

Mr. Martin was our own man in the middle just once let time out, as The Bees secured a 2-0 win over Ipswich Town in our opening home fixture of that campaign. John Egan grabbed a brace then but could he do it again today ?

Well, the one thing we can say is that Harlee Dean won’t feature today following his one match suspension that carried over from the end of last season. Given that ban and the injury to Sergi Canos, my own personal selection would be a starting XI comprising: Bentley, Colin, Egan, Barbet, Henry, Mokotjo, Woods, Jozefzoon, Jota, Wakins, Vibe.

Will Sergi be fit? Is Dean able to fit the wonderfully impressive Kamo and player’s player of the season Ryan Woods in the same team? Has Josh done enough pre-season to make it a real selection dilemma? Might we actually be able to hang on to Jota ? Who’d be a head coach? Tough decisions to be made today but what a nice position to be in.

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Jota impressed in the rain against Celta Vigo

As for Sheffield United, they’ll be up for this and then some. Of course, we all know Jack O’Connell and Simon Moore from Griffin Park, but the Blades are so much more than that. 100 points from a League One title winning campaign tells its own story whilst the likes Preston, Burton, of course the Bees and even Rotherham United (for a while) have shown how well teams can do when making that step up.

I very much expect Sheffield United to be in that category rather than joining the likes of Yeovil Town and Doncaster Rovers in bombing straight back out of the Championship and further down the leagues. Boo hoo. Shame. Move along now.

I’m struggling to call this one. The heart says Brentford, both teams to score and a narrow victory. But aswell as strong team we’ll be playing to a packed house and a crowd chomping at the bit for a taste of higher division football. Could the anticipation and expectation work to our advantage? Will it be the proverbial 12th man for the home side? Would we be happy to come home with a point ?

One things for sure, we’ve had three year’s experience playing at this level and at these marvellous stadia. Whomever Dean picks will be key. An obvious statement but he has as many personal decisions as tactical ones to make. The likes of Josh, Ryan, Andreas and Yoann will all be expecting too play. What about ever reliable Nico Yennaris?

Roll on 3pm when we find out. I cannot wait !

And as a foot note, huge congratulations to long time local boy Sir Mo Farah after his stunning performance in the World Championship athletics last night. There can’t be anyone who hasn’t warmed to his infectious enthusiasm and vast determination over the last ten years as he has made scooping gold medal after gold medal look almost effortless. His ‘golden’ post box near Isleworth station on the way through to Griffin Park is a constant reminder of just what he has achieved. Last night was yet another example of his incredible talent.

Nice one, Mo !

Nick Bruzon

Every cloud has a silver lining. There’s only one Jota (although we’ve two Mads).

2 Aug

We’ll be doing well to top yesterday’s column  (at least in terms of ‘feel good factor’ rather than quality) but with Brentford fans still sweating on the future of Jota, there has been some relief out of Molineux where Wolves have had to make an interesting update. Despite all the stories linking West Ham, Burnley et al to our talismanic Spaniard, it seemed that they had blindsided everybody late last month when the club website proclaimed: Wolves announce Jota.

Having already swooped for Portuguese midfielder Rúben Neves at close to £16,000,000 anything was possible. That’s some serious money to be splashing around. Are Wolves joining the ranks of the big spenders in a bid to get back to a top flight they have graced on numerous occasions over the years?

Snatching Jota from under the noses of West Ham would have been another indication this was their intent. Thankfully, of course, once the heart attack had been averted the story turned out to be anything but the case. Infact, it was another Portuguese player, although this time Diogo Jota.

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Jota signs – kind of

And relax.

Then, yesterday morning, Wolves sparked up the Jota talk once more when they announced their official squad numbers. Despite that initial declaration to supporters, it seems the player has changed his surname. Or, rather, has had it changed for him. Despite still calling him by the aforementioned name, the club have had to concede that:

Also in today’s ‘squad number news’ Diogo Jota will have SILVA on back of his shirt due to EFL regs about players needing to use surnames”, declared official Molineux twitter. Then adding “That is part of his surname. Jota is just a nickname he has become known by… Obviously fans can still choose whatever they like on the back of shirts – Jota if they wish – but he can’t wear in games”.

Move along. Nothing to see here. Turns out there is only one Jota after all.  And, as it stands, he’s nowhere near West Ham. The closest Burnley will get to him was last night’s 2-2 friendly with the same Celta Vigo side turned over at Griffin Park three days earlier.

Whether this remains the case is, of course, a matter of conjecture and something well outside of all our hands. But for now, with the game at Sheffield United just a few days away, he is very much a Bee. Long may this continue.

That said, the transfer door did swing open at Griffin Park yesterday when it was announced on ‘official’ that another Dane joined the ranks. Mention the name Mads to any Brentford fan and chances are that the first thought will be one of Mads Tarrant and the team in our wonderful ticket office. But now there are two.

Defender Mads Bech Sørensen has become the latest to join the B-team after signing from AC Horsens in his native Denmark. With the likes of Andreas Bjelland, Lasse Vibe, Henrik Dalsgaard and Justin Shaibu in the first team squad, not to mention the B-team set up, is it a case of us now becoming Brentfjord?

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There’s only one Jota although two Mads at Brentford.

Bad puns aside, given the strike rate of our recruitment team to date this marks a really interesting signing as another player with international experience (he is a current Danish U-19) is added to our playing staff. The set up at Griffin Park is really now becoming one of strength in depth. The competition in the first team is already clear to see with most positions having genuine alternatives whilst the performances of the B-team have, to date, vindicated that decision.

It’s not often we’ve been able to say this in the past.

Is it too soon to get excited ? Is it time for the Bees to really push for the Premier League after three successive top ten finishes in the Championship. Should we be happy with survival? Are we all getting carried away? What are your hopes for the forthcoming season ? See you here this time tomorrow when we explore in depth.

Nick Bruzon

West Ham ? Sheffield Wednesday? Hull City? Which Brentford star is going where? If any…

25 Jul

Jota to Newcastle United, West Ham United, other? Harlee Dean to Sheffield Wednesday? Now Rico Henry and an apparent interest from Hull City is the latest story being touted in the press involving the possibility of a player leaving Griffin Park. You can tell the impending football season is approaching at a rate of knots with rumours surrounding Brentford stars cranking up. As ever.

Ordinarily these pages don’t do transfer gossip. The only source close to the club I trust (Beesotted aside, given they are almost always bang on the money) is the ketchup that comes with the half time chips. Yet this time it is worth paying note. If not for the quality of the ‘story’ – please note, your definition of ‘quality’ and ‘story’ may vary – as to the bigger picture questions.

Everybody is focussed on Jota. Understandably so given his unadulterated ability and contract length are diametrically opposed to each other in terms of size. The stories about West Ham won’t go away although I’d refer you back to the Scott Hogan tedium. Likewise the fact that they’ve already acquired the likes of Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Marko Arnautovic.

All this, before £16m Javier Hernandez became the latest to join the 1966 World Cup winners at the Olympic stadium yesterday. Are we really expected to believe they could also splash out on the likes of Jota aswell? Is the West Ham acquisition process now at an end? They were bad last season, that was plain to see, but surely no mid-table team needs this much rebuilding? Or can afford it? Then again, the TV money is at the ridiculous level and so not surprising our man’s name is mentioned in such circles.

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Jota and Harlee amongst the main men for Brentford in 2017/18

Yet for me all this Jota talk has been an unintentional smokescreen that has detracted from a real possibility – that of losing a centre back. We are more than amply catered for in this area of the field with Yoann Barbet, John Egan, Andreas Bjelland and of course  Harlee Dean all jockeying for position. This is before you even factor in the B-team. But then the Sheffield Wednesday rumour appeared.

Nobody on the terraces can imagine Harlee will leave. That surely the club will do all in their power to hang on to our player of the year and club captain. I’m not convinced this is anything more than a story that will come and go. But this hasn’t stopped us before.

At the same time, how does Dean Smith keep four quality defenders happy with only two positions to fill? He’s tried to play three of them and despite some initial positives, it was hardly the roaring success he had anticipated. So much so that normal service was soon resumed.

Sheffield Wednesday coming in for Harlee may be true, it may not. Yet we’ve shown every season that something has to give in order to help balance those FFP books. Hogan to Villa; Odubajo to Hull; Gray and number 26 to Burnley.

This time around, rather than Jota might it be elsewhere on the pitch? The defence? Certainly, this move was just one of those talked up in the recent Beesotted transfer activity piece. Could Billy have got his hands on the crystal ball once more?

The other story we then saw yesterday was a laughable column about Hull City looking at Rico Henry . With Andy Robertson joining Liverpool for £10milion last week, the Tigers are supposedly coming in with a £3.5 million bid.

Ted Knutson put that one immediately into context on Twitter.

We’re all about maximising player potential but, equally, we’re not in the business of giving anyone away. Rico’s emergence last season well and truly put Jake Bidwell in the shade and showed just why we were prepared to let our former skipper join the Loftus Road mob. Here is a player with the potential to go all the way and somebody who absolutely hit the ground running at Championship level after signing from League One Walsall.

Whichever story, if any, is true it all goes to show once more that we are a team in demand. That we aren’t just one goal scorer or one luxuriantly coiffured Spaniard. Brentford’s stock is high. The 2-2 with Southampton at the weekend proved that.

Yet let me ask you a question. If it kept Jota safe in the short term, would you sell Harlee? Would you let Rico go? Who’d want to be on the board with those sorts of decisions to make?

Ultimately of course, we may not have any choice in affairs. Money and agents talk. Likewise, we’ve acquired very well in the close(d) season. For both the first XI and B-team. Does the strongest looking all round squad we’ve had in years – boosted by five new signing – mean some form of departure is inevitable? Or is this going to be the season where the Brentford players and board all say – up yours West Ham. So long Hull City. Sorry Newcastle. These players aren’t for sale. We’re going places.

Whatever happens, all will become much clearer over the coming weeks. I can’t wait for the season to start but it might be stressful getting there.

As one final thought, what are you going to be wearing on the terraces this season? The new kit is stunning, with the goalkeeper and away variants already available in the club shop. Yet for anybody wanting a retro touch then eBay is the place to go at present.

This isn’t me (the chances of anything slipping my collection are slim to zero) but I have seen one fan looking to clear out their own wardrobe this week. Seller aamy_r_reetqr26 has listed 11 shirts that run from 1988 up to 2002, many of which are rarely seen on the terraces these days. You can find them here if this is of interest.

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Just some of the retro shirts on offer this week

Nick Bruzon

Is it all smoke and mirrors? Or have we been here before? Jota missing again.

16 Jul

Well that’s been an interesting few days for Brentford fans. Le tour de France is now over. We’ve seen another new signing with striker Neal Maupay joining from AS Saint-Étienne (he’s on the phone, presumably being the cry from the Griffin Park media suite as the deal was being confirmed). The friendly with Swiss side Lausanne-Sport ended in a 1-1 draw whilst we’ve now got less than three weeks until the season opener up at Sheffield United. Yet, for all that, there’s one word on supporter’s lips – Jota. Just what is going on?

Despite a wonderful looking line up in France for Saturday’s game with Lausanne, there were two notable absentees. Maxime Colin and, of course, the talismanic Spaniard – King Jota. Whilst Max was labelled an injury precaution, things were less clear on the subject of Jota. One could also argue that Lewis Macleod and Alan Judge were the other big names to miss out but given their lengthy injuries and recuperation there was never a chance of either player featuring.

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Injuries and absence aside, the team was a very strong one

BBC Billy Reeves had already probed Dean Smith last Friday on that subject. Likewise, I’ve already given my own thoughts (all that is here) but since then we’ve had radio silence. The ‘imminent’ big bid from a Premier League side has yet to materialise or, if it has, nobody is saying anything. The local press have no more clue than myself (at least, in public) whilst usually reliable sources on the rumour front such as Beesotted have remained very much under the radar.

It’s a shame the likes of Billy (Reeves – BBC and Grant – Beesotted) were missing yesterday. I’d love to have heard their thoughts and questions on a team line up that already looks incredibly strong for the forthcoming season. Stick Jota, Maupay and Colin in there too and Sheffield United could have a Championship baptism of fire. Not to mention the rest of the league .

Instead, it was left to ‘official’ where the match report had no managerial comment although Twitter did at least give us some update.

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 07.38.18So there you have it. Despite all the noise this just seems to be smoke and mirrors at the moment. Indeed, it all very much smacks of West Ham and Scott Hogan once more. All talk, all rumour, all unsettling but no action.

It reminds me in a way of the Simon Moore transfer. His sale had been talked up for most of the 2013/14 pre-season before he eventually ended up at Cardiff City. Prior to that though, he’d featured in a two minute pre-season cameo before being substituted with an ‘injury’. This, was immediately followed by his sale to a Cardiff City team we’d then play in a friendly after the infamous explanation for another absence as ‘visiting the beach’.

That game, for the record, being one we emerged from with a fantastic 3-2 win after going 2-0 down early on. Although Paul Hayes in the last minute doesn’t quite have the same ring.

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Simon Moore. Once went to Cardiff beach, according to Uwe

Is Jota being viewed as a big part of our plans for 2017/18 (one can only hope) or is the writing already on the wall? Without a doubt the club know more than they are saying in public – nobody expects them to reveal transfer dealings negotiations ahead of any deal being signed or rejected. But a second absence in eight days speaks huge volumes. If the player does feature against Oxford United on Wednesday, it will be very interesting to see for how long. A full 90 minutes or a token run out at the death? There’s going to be a lot of squeaky bums over the next three days, let alone the next three weeks.

On the positive side, the signing of Neal Maupay presents another exciting opportunity for Brentford. Nobody can deny that whatever the initial scepticism around our transfer strategy, we’ve unearthed some gems from the continent over the last few seasons.

Of course there’s Jota but you could add Yoann Barbet, Maxime Colin, Lasse Vibe, Andreas Bjelland and, in my mind, the criminally under used Konstantin Kerschbaumer to that list for starters. We’ll draw a discreet veil over Big Nick although he did join us from the English league so doesn’t really count in that bracket. That said, for the record, this Wednesday will mark the five year anniversary since Hull City paid SC Paderborn £2.6 million for his services. How times change.

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Neal Maupay – as seen on official

As a final thought for today, since the previous column about Peter Gilham it has been wonderful to see the outpouring of love and best wishes for Mr Brentford. Without a doubt he is one man to unite this club, having talked the Bees family through thick and (a lot of ) thin. So to read his own message was intensely heart warming for all of us but, as importantly, the fact that he has just carried on with his pre-season duties as though it was BAU.

His tour blogs have kept us updated as to those behind the scenes details of what goes on when the Bees are abroad. Here’s hoping he’s back with the mic on his hand for August 12th and our first home game.

Peter, we’re still thinking of you. Get well soon.

Nick Bruzon

Surprise inspiration from Richie and Mark as Bees twiddle their thumbs this weekend.

24 Mar

This is the time of season that these pages normally express an element of frustration with International break. Very much one of the downsides of Championship life, Brentford have now got another eight days to wait until the home double header against Bristol City and Leeds United. The king of comebacks against Burton Albion already seems a distant memory although Sergi Canos did take to Twitter yesterday to remind us  all how wonderful that was.

Sergi – a dab hand with the air guitar, too

So, what to do whilst we await City and Leeds? Well, this round of Internationals is slightly different in that we do have some additional interest. Whilst it’s not unusual to see Andreas Bjelland and Lasse Vibe selected for Denmark, John Egan is in the Republic of Ireland squad when they take on Wales in a World Cup qualifier tonight.

Even if you have no Irish or Welsh affiliation, the chance to see one of our team make his international debut (subject to final team selection) has to be better than Liechtenstein v Macedonia on the red button or, worse, a double header of Coronation Street. If nothing else, with the Irish rugby team having played at the Avvia last weekend when they scuppered England’s Grand Slam aspirations, it will be very interesting to see how the surface holds up less than a week later.

With permission having been given to London Irish to ground share at Lionel Road, Brentford supporters are, not surprisingly, questioning the integrity of the playing surface. The likes of Sergi and Jota better suited to playing on a billiard table rather than a ploughed field. And that is meant metaphorically; I’ve never seen either at Rileys in Twickenham.

All of which is great, but then it does leave us with a blank slot in the diary on Saturday. Well, how about getting on your bike? Quite literally. With the mornings getting lighter there’s never been a better time to undertake a bit of exercise whilst, at the same time, enjoying the fresh air. Personally, I’ve just started doing this again – triggered predominantly by my own lack of exercise. The realisation has finally set in that FIFA on the PS4 does not count no matter how many times I’ve tried to tell myself since Christmas.

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FIFA 17 – fun but not, technically, exercise

Likewise, there’s only so many times I can convince myself that the pecs have just ‘slipped’ or that the layer of fat around the midriff is there to insulate over the cold winter months. So the beer and junk food has gone out the window (for now) whilst there’s been additional inspiration from two unlikely sources – Richie Firth on Absolute Radio and our own Mark Chapman from the Brentford media team.

Richie, speaking on the Christian O’Connell breakfast show last week, was extolling the virtues of vibrating massage plates which, when fixed to the body for twenty minute periods, would slowly burn the fat away. All well and good – aside from looking like a complete numpty as you stand around in your pants with Borg style implants affixed to the torso.

More importantly, where is the aerobic exercise? Where is the fun? Where is the smug feeling of having actually gone out and done something, then boring your mates rigid afterwards?(And yes, I see the irony).

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(L-R) Richie and OC doing more traditional exercise despite the horrific attire

But it was Bees programme editor Mark Chapman who is the straw that broke the camel’s back. His own ‘fanActiv’ blog on Brentford official has been a real call to arms, with some brutally honest observations about where he was prior to starting this aswell as how things are progressing . Three blogs in (the latest was published last Friday and can be found here), I have to say that is a case of doffing my cap to him.

It’s not easy to admit you need to get up off your backside. It’s even harder to do this so publicly. Nice one Mark, and THANK YOU for the motivation. Keep up the good work and stay off the chocolate bars.

So this weekend sees another ‘dry’ one for yours truly. I’m not so naive as to pretend that by the time Bristol City and Leeds come around I won’t be out the back of The Griffin – the prematch pint is a quintessential part of football’s rich tapestry – but at least I won’t feel quite so guilty about doing it.

Lecture over. Whatever you do this weekend, have fun. If anybody is in Richmond Park on Sunday morning, I’ll be the one wheezing. But, most importantly, good luck to John Egan tonight.

We’ll all be wishing you well.

Nick Bruzon

Mark Burridge wins Twitter for the day as Brentford prepare for trip to Ipswich Town

3 Mar

Roll on Saturday. Brentford travel to Ipswich Town looking to make it three wins in a row whilst, at the same time, building on a ‘goals scored’ record that has seen us find the net 16 times in the last 6 games. The last of which saw that smile inducing hat trick from Jota (just think of it and tell me you aren’t still grinning). And those of you up early may have spotted something on Twitter from the midweek win for Newcastle United at Brighton, c/o of our commentator par excellence Mark Burridge.

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View from the Braemer – unadulterated joy from Jota and the team on Saturday

But we can only start with Brentford and Ipswich Town. Last season saw a 3-1 win for Brentford at Ipswich, in a game that was marred by Luke Hyam’s horrific lunge through Alan Judge. It was a foul subsequently defended by Tractorboy’s boss Mick McCarthy who, even given time to reflect , made no attempt to reconsider his opinion.

Hyam was shown a yellow for the assault on Judge which broke his leg, ruled him out of EURO 2016 and 11 months later still sees him nowhere close to a first team return. The Ipswich man was eventually shown a second yellow for going at Ryan Woods just before half time.

Dean Smith’s suggestion that he had been  “a bit naughty” and deserved straight red prompted a somewhat bizarre reply in which McCarthy noted, “I’m disappointed if he’s said that. I don’t think it is. I think he’s won the ball. I’ve actually complained to the referee as to why it’s a booking if he’s won the ball. I don’t think it’s naughty at all. That surprised me and disappoints me if he’s said that, but we all have opinions”.

Hyam hasn’t featured this time around but don’t expect anything different from Mick and his team. If not career threatening injuries, certainly a side who are robust in the challenge and have lost the form that has seen them threatening the play offs in previous campaigns. Instead, a squad that contains Jonathan Douglas and Toumani Diagouraga have seen their stock fall and sit below Brentford in the league table.

As for Brentford, there’s been more than a touch of Keegan-era Newcastle United about us in recent weeks. Dean’s return to picking a four man defence has seen goals aplenty, at both ends. Is kamikaze football better than the turgid possession game? Absolutely. Is it just a matter of time before the team re-adjust to both their ‘new’(traditional) system and new faces  such as Flo Jo and Sergi ? I have no doubt. Which of those two Dean starts with on Saturday will be tough choice but, like Justin Shaibu, the impact made from the bench by the Spaniard was clear for all to see.

Harlee Dean has flourished in recent months. He really has been indispensable, both at the back and going forward. He’ll be missed in his second game out following his tenth yellow, but it gives Andreas Bjelland  and John Egan a chance to really give Dean another selection headache. Along with Yoann Barbet, we really have been blessed with centre backs – the trick for Dean being which combination to pick and which players to sit alongside them.

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Suspension saw Harlee spending Saturday very much put of position

And there’s another thing. Rico Henry. He’s barely featured on these pages since, finally, making his debut in the 2-1 win up at Sheffield Wednesday. Rico, if you are reading (you aren’t) I can only apologise.  Commentators and supporters alike were left enthusing about his performance. Those who saw him in the flesh against Rotherham could only agree. Pace, skill, tricks and tackles. In abundance.

Tom Field has been magnificent at left back but Rico really has thrown down a gauntlet. In doing so, he has shown just why the statistical model has identified a second Dean Smith ex-player as one we should move for.

As for Romaine Sawyers, his killer ball through for the goal to complete Jota’s hat-trick showed just why our head coach must have been smiling when ‘the model’ threw up his name over the summer. Like Brentford, consistency has been the main problem here in a tricky first season but we’ve nobody who can split a defence like Romaine when he is on his A game.

Rotherham, like Sheffield Wednesday, saw him very much a fish out of water. The ‘false 9’ formation is not one that we’ve been overly comfortable with and Saturday was the archetypal example. A set up that looked good on paper pre kick off clearly wasn’t working and Dean Smith really should have rescued his man earlier.

As for the experts, the bookies see Brentford as 39/20 to win this one whilst ‘over 2.5 goals’ is evens. And for those of you with a penchant for curse of the ex-player (as so ably demonstrated by John Swift at Reading) Toumani is 15/2 to score at any time. Whilst the big man was only the bench last time out, football being football then surely that’s where the smart money is?

Calling the shots will be Mark Burridge, as ever. With travel chaos expected thanks to the rail service, could Beesplayer be the best place to catch up on the action? Whilst there is no substitute for being there, the thought of spending the afternoon with Mark and his team is a tempting one. If for no other reason than we can expect quick off the mark observations from our man at the mic.

Does he ever sleep? Is his attention permanently tuned in to all things Brentford and Greyhounds ? We alluded to an early morning social media spot at the start of the article and sure enough, Mark / Newcastle United delivered.

Nice one Mark . Here’s to more zingers on Saturday. And goals.

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Nick Bruzon

Christmas present from Crystal Palace helps Brentford draw with 12 man Cardiff.

27 Dec

A fair point, lucky to get away with it or robbed? Brentford and Cardiff City shared the spoils in 2-2 Boxing Day draw that sprang to life late in the second half but, prior to that, had been a game which felt as stodgy and bloated as a third helping of sprouts and Christmas pudding. Only the presence of Crystal Palace loanee Sullay Kaikai managing to save the day.

And talking of Christmas puddings (oh, the crowbarring…) referee Simon Hooper was giving out no gifts (the penalty to Cardiff for their opener, aside) as he enraged the Griffin Park faithful, management and players – with Harlee Dean being awarded a yellow card for his (correct) protests at yet another stonewall penalty being turned down.

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Harlee tells the ref what we all think and saw – c/o Beesplayer highlights (below)

It was as shocking a display of refereeing as one could hope to see. Consistently poor decision making as appeals for three nailed on spotkicks were waved away by the man in the middle. But it wasn’t just him.

The assistant on the Braemar Road side  proving absolutely no use in telling him what we could all see. Their existence on the pitch proving pointless which, ironically, was how Brentford were almost left after Cardiff had retaken the lead with minutes on the clock.

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Pointless officials almost left the Bees , erm, empty handed

One point for the visitors would have been harsh, let alone all three. They’d taken the lead in the first half with the one penalty that Mr Hooper saw fit to award, for the most innocuous of innocuous ‘challenges’ (please note: yours, and everybody else’s definition of the word ‘challenge may vary).

Yet if the Bees had been robbed we were hardly making a fight of hauling ourselves back into it. Turgid, apathetic, lazy. Every manner of ’too much Christmas dinner’ related cliche. Any of these would have been an apt description of a team that not so much failed to get going as failed to make it out onto the pitch.

With Cardiff opting to go for muscle , brawn and height there is enough talent in this team to have kept it on the deck and run rings around them. Instead, it was tedium in football form. Bounced off the challenge and as many sideways and backwards passes as attempts to take it forward dominated our play. The first half was, frankly, as entertaining as a Christmas cracker joke.

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Answers on a postcard…

An hour in, substitutions . And good ones. McEachran for Sawyers and Sullay Kaikai for Lasse Vibe. Neither had played well whilst, for whatever reasons, the form of our great Dane seems to have long gone off the boil. How he is still justifying a starting berth is confusing to many but, with the new look team in place, things did step up.

With an added positive substitution of Philipp Hofmann coming on for Bjelland, the Bees began to push. And push. The penalty appeals aside, it was surely going to be matter of time.

And then it happened. Visiting ‘keeper Brian Murphy could no longer hold off the red hoardes as, despite a number of fine saves, he finally saw his net bulge courtesy of a quite magnificent effort from Sullay Kaikai. That’s one to hit rewind for again and again once the official highlights come out (until then, we have the Sky variant available).

Mark Burridge now on hand for ‘official’ comms

But with the Bees pressing for a late winner, we were caught short. Kenneth Zohore beating the last man when played on side and, with a generous shove chucked into the mix, was able to fire the Bluebirds into an 89th minute 2-1 lead.

With fans trooping out early for the pub, and City gloating, it was dead in the water, wasn’t it? Those who stayed were rewarded for their faith. That man Kaikai popping up again to head home John Egan’s cross and salvage a point for the Bees.

We should have won this. We could have lost it. Don’t let the anti-performance of the referee or our late surge disguise the fact that we were so desperately poor for huge swathes of this game. But for the Crystal Palace man we’d have had few complaints, barring the referee, at coming away empty handed.

A team just can’t rely on arbitrary decision making from the man in the middle to determine their fate. Cardiff offered nothing beyond grunt yet even that was too sophisticated for the Bees in the opening hour.

The record books will show a point earned and, in the longer term, we’ll have few complaints. Yet I do wonder why Dean’s teams are so inconsistent and such late starters?  Why can’t we play for 90 minutes? See also : Birmingham City . Why do we just fail to turn up at times? See also: Barnsley, Norwich City and Fulham.

I’ve no issue losing but the consistency, or lack off, is perplexing. We just don’t know which Brentford we’re going to get. Here’s hoping that when we play Norwich City on New Year’s Eve it’ll be the one that humped Reading 4-1 or Preston 5-0 way back in September.

Not the Brentford who got turned over 5-0 at Carrow Road earlier this month.

On Dec 31st, we find out. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Where’s Miss Marple? BBC Phil nails it as Birmingham City get away with murder.

27 Nov

Well, perhaps murder is a bit extreme. Although if not that, certainly a case of “Call the police, there’s been a robbery” as Birmingham City left a sunset drenched Griffin Park with all three points yesterday following a 2-1 win over Brentford. With Norwich City also losing, again, it makes next weekend’s road trip very interesting indeed.

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Griffin Park looked glorious, even if the result wasn’t

But before we get too ahead of ourselves and think about Carrow Road , let’s look back at this one first. For me, it was a game which could be summed up at the highest level in three quotes:

Birmingham City boss Gary Rowett :“We rode our luck and if luck was a horse I have won the Grand National today”.

Dean Smith: “If it was a boxing match it would have been stopped”

Phil Parry of BBC London : How is it still 1-0 to Brum??? How did Vibe not score?? Where’s Miss Marple?

First up, Mr Rowett. Honest of him to admit but, equally, teams ride their luck. Teams take their chances. Teams play worse and win. His Birmingham did that yesterday, ably helped by a couple of wonder saves from Tomasz Kuszczak in the second half.

As for the goals, both were presented to Birmingham on a plate. The first saw a penalty awarded for a foul on Clayton Donaldson as the former Bee ran onto a ball threaded straight through the midfield and our plethora of centre backs. Dan Bentley was adjudged to have brought him down and the spot kick duly despatched. Indeed, but for Andreas Bjelland running across, surely red would have been shown and, with it, a possible league debut for Jack Bonham.

The irony of Clayton even winning a penalty at Griffin Park was missed by nobody. I’ve lost count of the number of nailed on spot kicks denied in League One as he’d be kicked, tripped , manhandled or wrestled to the ground only to see his claims waived away. Maybe it was just a Brentford thing.

I’ve all the time in the world for the big man, even now. When his contract expired, Birmingham were there to offer him what he wanted and allow him to move closer to home. We couldn’t match that. And so some of the abuse he was coming in for yesterday seemed harsh – especially after the penalty. What’s he going to do – not score? I’m not going to openly cheer somebody who is now an opposition player but at the same time, have some class.

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View from the terrace – Clayton fires home for 0-1

The second goal was an equally disappointing one to concede. Also, from a dead ball situation as a free kick was awarded in front of the away fans and out near the Braemar Road touchline . With all the time we needed to set ourselves up to defend, City were still able to float it over our plethora of centre backs to the far post where Ryan Shotton was able to stroll clear of his marker and tap home for 2-0.

As for Dean Smith, he can talk about it being a boxing match that should have been stopped but that’s not how football works. Nobody cares how much possession a team had, how many shots were rifled in or how unlucky you were. At the end of the day, Clive (and as we’ve said many times before) the only stat that counts is balls in the back of net.

“If we played them ten times again we would beat them nine times: It was that one sided” he also added – that one in the interview on ‘official’. He’s probably right but we got off to a very slow start in a system that took everybody some getting used to – three centre backs in the middle and a fourth playing out left, with Max Colin on the right. To be fair to Dean, I had wondered if this is how he would crowbar the glut of defensive talent together and so let’s not write this one off. Certainly, it allowed Barbet to get into some very advanced positions and I’ve a feeling we’ll see more of the same against Norwich next weekend.

Yet despite Brentford continuing to build the pressure, turn the screw and find ourselves in full ‘unlucky’ mode, it was the second half and Birmingham were 2 goals up. Then Scott Hogan happened. Again.

Getting onto the end of a ball floated into the box from Josh Clarke, he beat Kuzczak to dink his header past the otherwise excellent ‘keeper and into the back of the net to send the home fans delirious. It set up the proverbial grandstand finale in which if Dean Smith had a kitchen sink on the bench I’m sure he would have brought that on, such was the amount chucked at the Birmingham goal .

And then it happened. 2-2!! Andreas Bjelland with a header from a Ryan woods cross. Or was it Scott Hogan with the faintest of toe pokes from an Andreas Bjelland header? Either way, the one man goal machine was adjudged offside as a result. Standing behind the goal it looked like Bjelland’s effort all the way and a very harsh call from the referee and his his assistant. Brentford official were more diplomatic in their match repot saying, “It is possible that if Hogan had not touched it the goal may have stood but the movement of the Brentford man definitely affected Kuszczak and he would probably have saved it without the touch.

The third quote at the top end was from Phil Parry, on Twitter, mid-match as Lasse Vibe failed to put it in from yards out with the ‘keeper beaten and two defenders on the line.

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Gut reaction at the time was, like Phil, just how did he miss that? How? Looking back at the video  – and you can see the highlights on Sky at present (until the BeesPlayer goes live at mid-day)  – perhaps at first the ball gets gets caught up in his legs a bit. Likewise, he maybe takes one turn too many that allows the defenders time to position themselves more. Either way, a chance that he’ll be bitterly disappointed not to have buried from that starting position.

It was always going to be tough game. To be honest, we created more decent chances than I expected us to . It’s just a huge shame that when it came to putting them away a combination of great ‘keeping and bad luck have conspired against us. Then again,  Birmingham City have delivered the quintessential lesson in taking the opportunity when it arises.

Dean Smith also noted at full time that,  “We have played two weekends, Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City, and we should be sitting here really pleased with six points…However, we are here with zero and that is the Championship.

It is Dean, it is. But with only 1 win from the last 8 games, I’m very interested to see what you do next to try and increase those points from zero to three. Surely it can’t all be down to bad luck?

As for next weekend and Norwich City, well they lost again yesterday. That’s five defeats in a row for the once high flying Canaries. Are they the ones to help us return to wining ways…?

Nick Bruzon