Tag Archives: Andy Gogia

Return of the Mac ? Something has to give as Bees aim to sting Canaries.

3 Dec

Too obvious? Apologies. A full house today in local paper football headline bingo (try saying that after a night out). With Brentford and Norwich City both experiencing what Dean Smith has described as ‘blips’, whilst the teams’ respective form has been well documented as LLL and LLLLL , something has to give at Carrow Road today. The obvious question is, what?

I haven’t seen enough of Norwich City to overly comment on what they are doing wrong all of a sudden. But with the likes of Sergi Canos and Alex Pritchard not featuring at present (although the later did make a 67th minute appearance from the bench last weekend) one has to wonder what talent they have ahed oaf them? And why it is failing to fire after a start to proceedings that made it look as though an immediate return to the Premier League was high on the agenda?

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Sergi – in the unfamiliar yellow and green

The ever wonderful Beesotted have cut to the nub of matter. Do take the time to read their article today in which Norwich supporter Jon Rogers describes the footballing fayre currently on offer as “pedestrian. It’s very congested. It’s sometimes slow and dull”.

Can Dean Smith and Brentford take advantage of this? Sure, we’ve had 1 win in 8 and lost three on the bounce but it still seems incredible that we got nothing out of the Birmingham game. It was the proverbial case of doing everything but score a second goal whilst I’m still in awe at the wonder save Tomasz Kuszczak pulled off to deny Scott Hogan’s net bound effort. We know the defending against Blackburn was uncharacteristically shambolic (although at least the team scored a few) whilst Fulham (h) was the performance that we don’t talk about . Move along, nothing to see here.

Yet how quickly things change, Had we beaten Fulham, we’d have made it into the play-off zone that evening. Now, Brentford sit four points above the relegation place (albeit with another five teams between us and Cardiff City). Yet a win today could take us back up to tenth. Things are still that tight.

So just how does Dean take advantage of slow and dull Norwich? How does he convince his team they really are world beaters. To avert a situation arising where, in his own words, “Sometimes we can catastrophise defeats and that leads to a demise in confidence.

Well, if Norwich are as pedestrian as we’ve been promised, then the likes of Sullay Kaikai and Josh Clarke could run riot. But I’m more interested to see if Dean will perform a further midfield shuffle and parachute Alan McCormack into the side. Is an immediate return following his five match ban and ‘that suspension’ something we can expect?.

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Will Norwich see return of the Mac?

Personally I thought Josh McEachran did really well coming on as substitute at the weekend. Likewise, when the three centre back system settled it looked a lot better than in the opening period. So, for me, its a place on the bench for Macca with Josh (M) in the middle and Josh (C) in place of Lasse. If we’re talking about catastrophising defeat then the great Dane’s miss against Birmingham has enough in it for an Irwin Allen movie (kids, ask your dads). One presumes Romaine Sawyers will keep a place and so that leaves Ryan Woods with Scott Hogan up top.

Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. If it were down to me I’d have given KK a few starts by this juncture. Yet, for whatever reason, he’s currently got more chance of a run around Richmond Park than a run in the team. Likewiswe, with Andy Gogia scoring for fun on loan in Germany and Jota doing God knows what on loan in Spain, the Griffin Park midfield situation has more questions than answers at present.

All are questions that will no doubt be forgotten or, at the least, put to one side should Dean and the boys pick up three points today. Whatever the run of results, there’s enough talent in that Brentford team – as was shown in the way we played in the denouement of the Birmingham game.

Can we pick up where we left off? At 3pm, we find out.

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

Nick Bruzon

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Club gives the verdict on Holloway as fans forum reveals key updates

2 Aug

With our Championship campaign kicking off on Saturday, Brentford continued pre-season preparation with the regular fans forum last night. A panel of Cliff Crown, Dean Smith, Mark Devlin, Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen took questions from those in attendance whilst our host for the night, the inimitable Peter Gilham, fired the questions sent in over social media from a global audience. With Newcastle United, QPR , Ian Holloway and, of course, Lionel Road all up for discussion, what did we learn?

Firstly, how key Peter is to the club. Traffic delays meant proceedings were delayed until he made his entrance, mic in hand, doing a wonderful walk-and-talk. He hadn’t even reached his seat at the top table and we were off.

The panel, only missing missing Matthew Benham for a full house in ‘top brass bingo’ , were as open as ever. There were several unexpected nuggets of information in an hour and a half that showed just how willing to engage our club can be.

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the panel line up

The panel all have “realistic” hopes of a top 6 finish in a Championship that Mark Devlin sees the inclusion of Newcastle and Aston Villa as adding a rich pageantry. All, that is, except head coach Dean Smith who stuck his head on the block and suggested he’d have to go for the same 1st place that he’s told his players he is aiming for. No pressure , Dean! At 33/1, I’ll have some of that . Certainly better value than the 15/8 currently available for every pundit’s favourite, Newcastle.

Dean also acknowledged that he was very disappointed with the performance against Millwall. And that the players knew this. However, what was pleasing is that we have been creating chances.Besides, he never really pays too much notice to results over this period – a sentiment I, for one, concur with.

On the playing front, Lewis Macleod has really impressed. A player described by Dean as “excellent”, adding that “he looks a really exciting player”. We are yet to pick a captain but the selected candidate is likely to be one who will feature in the majority of games.

Whilst Dean is still considering his squad options, with the Huddersfield game less than five days away, surely that decision will be imminent? Harlee Dean, Ryan Woods or Sam Saunders surely in line for the armband, based on that logic.

Andy Gogia looks like he is heading out on loan whilst Jota remains available for recall. Although we are in touch with him, Phil acknowledged that the best thing for the player at the minute is to remain in Spain. Jota is somebody I’d love to see back but, sadly, the language being used about personal circumstances and respecting privacy suggests that it is a forlorn hope and the player’s future will lie in Spain. This, something I’d happily be proved wrong on!

Jota corner short?

Jota – when will we see you again?

The big three questions of the night (we’ll overlook the shirt talk) were, in no particular order, :

QPR – will we celebrate their failure to take over the club 50 years ago? An anniversary that comes up in March of this season.

Cue the microphone being thrust immediately to Chief Executive Devlin (no idea why) who confirmed that whilst celebrate might not be the word, it was certainly an occasion we would look to mark. Likewise, our 4000th league game which will take place agasint Barnsley in October. For the record, Peter Gilham did then confirm that “the word IS celebration, by the way

Next up. Lionel Road. No immediate progress although Cliff confirmed that the GVD (general vesting declaration) had been issued on Friday, following the CPO. This, followed by the air of caution that, “These things do take quite some time” .

It was a sentiment echoed by Mark Devlin, given how we are “Inching towards the new stadium”. As such, he has already been speaking to the football league about a dispensation for Griffin Park in order to maintain the current set up next season. That said if we do have to put seats behind the goals then the costs and reduced capacity (down by about a thousand) are already known. Let’s just hope commons sense prevails if Lionel Road is clearly under way by that point.

But THE big one was all about former Bee, Ian Holloway. What did the panel think of his tipping Brentford as a club that was regressing and one who he saw finishing in a relegation spot this time around? He also made the bold prediction of Newcastle United winning the league.

The response to this was a unanimous one. Hardly surprising but great to hear. “ 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 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”.

As ever, a huge THANK YOU to the club for hosting this event. No question was off limits and the vibe really was positive one. It was, as ever, a unique opportunity to question those at the top.

Let’s hope their faith in the squad is rewarded when the action begins once more this Saturday.

Nick Bruzon

Double goal 7(seven). You couldn’t have made that finish up.

8 May

9th. We’ve finished 9th !!  Brentford continued their stunning run to the denouement of season 2015/16 with a 5-1 humbling of Huddersfield Town. In a quite bonkers afternoon that saw Middlesbrough promoted (sorry Brighton fans, genuinely, but ‘manager of the month’ rarely lies) and Burnley crowned as Champions amidst bizarre scene at Charlton, Scott Hogan took his strike rate to something that must be approaching an average of 5 goals a game whilst Liverpool loanee Sergi Canos bid a very fond farewell.

Where do you start from the Huddersfield game, though? For a season that saw Brentford involved in what Dean Smith agreed was a relegation scrap as recently as 19 March, things have taken a turn for the surreal. We’ve scored 24 goals and won 7(seven) out of the last 10 games. Formwise, that puts only Brighton above us. Five more of the goals total coming yesterday to make it 9 for the season against The Terriers alone.

We don’t, generally, do match reports on these pages. The highlights are already doing the rounds and , if you haven’t seen them yet, do take the time to catch up with these. The quality of every goal – from Sergi Canos grabbing the opener on just 21 seconds  – to substitute John Swift blasting the fifth home as we approached full time is to be admired. Lasse Vibe shot home from the edge of the box after a delightful ball from Canos whilst man of the moment Scott Hogan grabbed another two.

Having spent muchh of the last 18 months with his leg in a brace (I’d imagine) how brilliant to see him now grabbing one on pitch. A brace, that is. The opening 64 minutes was the longest we’ve seen Scott in action since the oh-so gradual and carefully managed return from that sickening injury. Having lasted 45 minutes in the previous game (the 3-0 over Fulham) making it as far as the hour allowed Hogan to get the goals which took his total to 7(seven) for the season. Not a bad return !

Sergio Canos also made it 7(seven) for the campaign in what was, barring some form of transfer coup over the summer, his final appearance for the Bees. Surely he will only be Liverpool bound when the next campaign kicks off in August ? Certainly, his twitter feed suggested that this would be the case.

Sergi sign off

If this transpires to be the case then we can all, truly, say we’ve had the pleasure of watching a prodigious talent emerge. I’d love to see Sergi back next time around and, whilst stranger things have happened, can only imagine a place at Anfield will be calling.

His mood was one shared by all the players on social media. After what must have been some horrendous pressure at various points this campaign and some harsh, albeit warranted at times, criticism of the set up the flip side is that when they have been let off the leash it has been an absolute joy to watch.

Rasmus nailed it in the recent video when he noted that a team wins three in a row and you think they’ll never lose again. Certainly, that’s how it has felt.

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Lasse wins at Twitter as the squad end in high spirits

Injury has forced a rejig in the midfield with Josh McEachran and John Swift undergoing an enforced rest. Nico has stepped up in style whilst Scott has made his well documented return. KK and Gogia have started to show what ‘the model’ (please note: traditional recruiting is also involved) has suggested whilst even an experienced pro like Sam Saunders has pushed onwards and upwards. With this has come the results.

The only slight disappointment was on Bees Player where the assertion was made of Dean Smith supposedly berating Scott Hogan for not going down in the box but, rather, staying on his feet, with the Bees 1-0 up. I’m all for winning games but I’d much rather we did it by fair means. Let’s hope this was simply a misinterpretation of the conversation rather than a terrible example for any young children who may have been watching etc etc

That said, we won. Handsomely. We’ve finished the season in 9th place which would be an incredible achievement in its own right. Let alone when you factor in the challenges of FFP enforced sales, The Marinus experiment, pitchgate and that quite dreadful start to 2016. I stand by what I said about these things at the time but, equally, who isn’t thrilled at how Brentford have emerged from all of this?

For the record, Fulham and QPR also both recorded  final game victories. As such, although we ended the season as the top side in London outside the Premier League, the lead over our West London rivals remained at a ‘mere’ 14 and 5 points respectively.

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QPR and Fulham could only watch the red and white express

Are we the finished article? No. But I’m not alone in feeling tremendously positive going into the summer break. Given the low points of the season have ben particularly painful, to end it on such a high has left all around Griffin Park with a huge buzz. Who knows just what a fully match fit Scott Hogan will do whilst we have the added advantage of finally saying goodbye to Middlesbrough.

Whether you believe in bogey teams or not (and for somebody who swears by ‘lucky pants’ and the ‘motm curse’, to criticise would be somewhat hypocritical) nobody can deny that in 4 league and 2 play-off encounters since our return to the Championship, Brentford’s record with Boro’ reads:  P: 6  W: 0  D: 0  L: 6 .

For now, it’s time to catch our breath once more. Hey, when we went up to the Championship on that famous day against Preston,  if you’d have been offered 5th and 9th from our first two seasons there wouldn’t have been anybody amongst us who wouldn’t have bitten the hand off to secure that.

I love seeing the Bees do well. I thought that last season was not the “punching above our weight” that so many people claimed but, actually, a wonderful triumph of ability and team spirit based around the infectious warmth of Mark Warburton. We got where we got on merit.

With that well documented parting of the ways, this season was always going to be a tough one. Moreso given the other issues noted above. I stand by my assertion that we could have handled ourselves better off-field, comms wise, but you live and learn. Hindsight is always wonderful.

Something, perhaps, the owners at Charlton Athletic could learn. Amidst understandable  scenes at The Valley, their supporters showed just what they thought of the people in charge. Even ‘official’ twitter had somewhat of a Freudian slip (or sabotage from within the ranks? ) as their campaign came to a sad climax.

Charlton poison 2

Whatever you’ve thought about our lowest points this season, things could have been an awful lot worse. Still, sad though I am for Charlton, their fate lies elsewhere.

For Brentford, we’ve got watching the play-off finals to look forward to and the final Premier league fixtures to see who joins us next season. There’s the new shirt to be released whilst the promise from Kitman Bob that his BBGiveaway will return.

Oh,and there’s been the small matter of Euro 2016 in the summer. Whilst Alan Judge will be missing, could the presence of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane at yesterday’s game have any additional significance? The local press believe he was checking on Town winger Sean Scannell but with Scott scoring those two goals, could there be a surprise call up in the offing?

I’ll leave that thought here……

However, as a final observation, for me (Clive) Twitter user @MrJamie88 nails it in words and pictures better than most could hope to.

Enjoy.

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Do the body and legs match?

Nick Bruzon

Sam, Scott and Sergi in a Field of dreams

1 May

Oh, where to begin? That was stunning. Saturday afternoon saw Brentford dispose of Fulham with what Sky Sports would later describe in their match report as “an emphatic 3-0 rout”. We had a special guest in the Bees Player commentary box  whilst Liverpool loanee Sergi Canos gave a big clue about his future.

Yet the scoreline and that narrative doesn’t even begin to tell half the story of a game played out in front of a 12,300 full house at Griffin Park.

Pre-match had seen Brentford fans in buoyant mood if not somewhat intrigued by head coach Dean Smith’s team selection. Robbed of Lasse Vibe, Jake Bidwell and Alan McCormack though injury, it really looked a patched up outfit. One held together by …gaffer tape, if you will?

Field? Who’s he? Is that a typo”, seemed to be the general consensus around the ground as we all wondered just who the new left back was. In fact (Tom) Field was no typo but a player plucked so deep from the development squad that he didn’t even feature on the back page of the match day programme.

But what a start! Well played that man. Despite the pressure of a first team debut Tom was magnificent. He looked composed, positive and it was he who instigated the first goal. With Fulham pressing he broke up the attack, turned it over and the ball eventually found itself to the demi-god that is Sam Saunders via Sergi Canos.

Sam made the finish look effortless. Moving through acres of space in the Fulham defence he timed it perfectly to run on to the Spaniard’s through ball and float a delightful first time lob over Bettinelli in the visitor’s goal.

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Tom Field – a debut to remember

Just 5 or 7 (depending on how your watch is set…..) minutes on the clock and Brentford already a goal up. But if Griffin Park erupted for that one, it went bonkers just two minutes later as Scott Hogan doubled the lead after being put through by Kerschbaumer.

It wasn’t even ten past three and the Bees were already two up. This was just ludicrous. But it would get even better. That man Hogan, again, grabbing his second of the afternoon and Brentford’s third just before half-time. Direct from a corner. That’s not a typo either. A corner whipped in by hero of the hour Tom Field and volleyed home by Scott.

The crowd exploded. Peter Gilham lost it. In the best possible sense. “The scorer of Brentford’s third goal…Yoannnn Barbettttt !!!…. I think, ” and then after the briefest of pauses, “ No. It was Scott Hogan. Who cares !!!!

Bottles were launched at the celebrating striker. Fulham fans booed their own team. “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” was the cry. Three up at half time and surely this could only better.

Sadly for those wanting a fairy tale ending, head coach Dean Smith wisely opted to rest Hogan for the second half. Tom Field was also subbed early, leaving to a hero’s round of applause. Yet not as big as the one which Sam Saunders would eventually get.

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View from the Braemar. Sam – a magnificent 7

The second period passed in somewhat of a blur. Sergi Canos had one nailed on shout for a penalty denied but, in the end, it was ‘only’ 3-0 when the referee called a halt to proceedings.

Brentford were simply magnificent . All of them. Andy Gogia, especially, impressed me whilst David Button pulled off a couple of great stops when the visitors eventually got through. Yet to overly single anybody out on this most wonderful of afternoons would be unfair.

Statistically speaking, Scott Hogan is going to present us with a conundrum at the season end. Even ‘official’ twitter were on form yesterday as they noted :

Scott Hogan recordAt this rate he’s averaging about 6 goals every 90 minutes of football. Now there’s reward for the faith Matthew Benham and Neil Greig’s medical team have shown. No pressure for next season 🙂

Brentford are 10th . We’re 14 points clear of a Fulham team against whom our record in the last two seasons reads.

Played: 4.  Won: 3.  Drawn: 1.  Lost: 0.  Goals For :11.  Goals Against: 4.  Points: 10.

Writing this on Sunday morning, I can’t wait for midday when the chance to watch the YouTube highlights presents itself. Mark Burridge was joined by Dave Morley and super fan Natalie Sawyer in the Bees Player commentary box where, I am in no doubt, things reached fever pitch.

Mark Burridge and Natalie Sawyer

Our commentator par-excellence was joined by Natalie.

As for Sergi Canos. Could we have seen his last game for the Bees? At least, at Griffin Park.

After the match he gave a strong hint that he’d be heading back to Liverpool, as he took to twitter where he thanked fans, saying:

Wow. That was incredible!! Last game for me in Griffin Park… Will always be in my heart. Thanks for everything. What a year has been for me…

Who knows what plans Dean and Matthew Benham have in regards to potential transfer targets over the summer, if any. Likewise, who knows where Jürgen Klopp sees the young Spaniard fitting in at Anfield. If he is deemed ready, of course.

Like Alex Pritchard before him, I think we’ve seen our time with Sergi but I’d love it if he was to return. That said, if his future is elsewhere then at least he has left us with this thought…

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Sergi nails it on Twitter

Sergi. I can’t top that.

If it really was your last game at Griffin Park then all we can say is: THANK YOU

Nick Bruzon

Are we stronger after the transfer window closes?

2 Feb

The transfer window has closed. Burnley got their man (one of them, at least), Alan Judge remains a Bee (for now) but no real inward activity for Brentford. Given our considered approach and much-derided model, that shouldn’t come as any real surprise. But is it the right move?

To be quite honest, one always feels a pang of disappointment when we have no news about inward signings. Such is the way we have been conditioned in recent seasons to accept a flurry of crazy, last-minute action. Instead, we also saw several untried names depart and the return of one player from a loan.

For me, and given where we are, there are several points to draw from yesterday.

First up, and being realistic, we aren’t going to leave the Championship this season. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it to happen (upwards) but I think even the most optimistic of Brentford fans would accept this is as long a shot as a Nick Proschwitz hat trick. We’re 7(seven) points off a very strong play-off zone whilst current form isn’t great (4 wins in our last 13 games).

Instead, this will now be a period of consolidation. Which of the new boys can cut it and where will we really need to strengthen? Yoann Barbet and Maxime Colin have already shown they are class whilst Ryan Woods is getting better each game. Will the likes of Andy Gogia, Philipp Hofmann, Konstantin Kerschbaumer and Josh McEachran (who has also been in the rise in recent weeks after a disappointing start) be able to match the aforementioned players?

Don’t forget we have the untapped potential of Lewis Macleod still to be seen in first team action whilst record signing Andreas Bjelland and striker Scott Hogan continue their recovery from long term injury.

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Yoann Barbet has certainly made an impression recently

What is of infinitely more importance is what we do over the much longer summer window that, this season at least, ran from June to September. Will Alan Judge be sold? Will Harlee get a new contract? Will we look to extend the likes of Jake Bidwell and David Button? Will we continue the shredding of the previous squad? Will we be looking up to the Barclays Premier League or down to the Ryman equivalent?

Yesterday’s article included the quote made by Rasmus Ankersen back in September, saying : “The goal is to get stronger after each transfer window.”

Are we stronger now? Well, in terms of current playing strength I’d have to disagree. Although not as ruthlessly as some might expect.

No squad could afford to lose the likes of Jota, Tarkowski or Toums and honestly say it was stronger. The flipside of this is that the emergence of Max Colin and Yoann Barbet in recent weeks, who we hadn’t really seen much of in the early season, has been like getting two new players. Josh has definitely improved and we have the potential of those three long-term injuries to look forward to.

Financially, we’re in a better position for sure although officially nobody knows how much we’ve been paid for anybody this season. The question will be how, if at all, will this be invested at the end of the season?

As for James Tarkowski, the sorry story comes to an end with the player certainly seeming pleased with his move. Nobody could knock what he did in his time at Griffin Park and it was a shame it all ended in such confusing, angry and emotional circumstances. You can’t knock anybody for wanting to be close to a sick family member and, perhaps, it’s best that’s where we should leave that side of things.

The only other point to make on the subject is Burnley – what was with the official ‘signing photo’ ? The brilliance of his shadow mullet, the 1970’s veneer effect boardroom and awkward pose have not been missed.

As for our lower key departures, Josh Laurent is already at Hartlepool whilst Ryan Williams has been snapped up by football’s greatest tweeters – Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Few could dispute that Montell Moore has had his own issues and so, perhaps, a fresh start is best for all. Time will tell on that one.

I must admit, I did have to perform a double take when the message flashed up that R.Williams had left Brentford. Were the Scots looking for somebody to help build them a new stadium? Were their fans voicing too many opinions and so in need of being patronised? Instead, it was simply the departure of our much touted free-kick specialist.

Then again, with Alan Judge and Sam Saunders in the side, he never had a chance.

Nick Bruzon

 

Who will be celebrating like they’ve won the FA Cup?

9 Jan

FA Cup third round day. Unquestionably THE highlight of the calendar for me. With Brentford due to entertain Walsall, last night’s 2-2 between Exeter City and Liverpool reminded us just how exciting this oldest of cup competitions can still be whilst simultaneously higlighting the perils of picking an under strength team.

Watching Liverpool struggle as they were outplayed by Exeter showed, yet again, that much clichéd entry onto the FA Cup bingo card of ‘David v Goliath’ with a generous sprinkling of ‘cup magic’ on the side. As seems the fashion these days, Jürgen Klopp rotated his squad but almost paid the ultimate price for over tinkering.

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Exeter still have a chance of a trip to North London

So was Dean Smith watching and has he taken heed? If today isn’t in the realms of David v Goliath – Walsall are simply too good to be patronised with any sort of underdog tag – it represents a huge potato skin for the Brentford Head Coach to try and navigate. The Saddlers are flying high at the top end of League One and haven’t allowed our acquisition of their former manager to disrupt the promotion push.

Understandably, feelings on social media suggest this is still somewhat of a sensitive subject and I have no doubt that a sold out away following will make their presence, and feelings, heard. Which is all well and good but I fancy full strength Brentford to give anybody, in any division, a run for their money.

However, with this being the much discussed first of 3 games in 6 days, not to mention the various transfer stories doing the rounds, just how ‘full strength’ will, or can, Dean go?

Well, outside of left back we have viable candidates in pretty much every position. We’ve been promised the strongest team possible but it could swing as much as follows:

Bonham, Bidwell, Yennaris, Dean, O’Connell, McEachran, McCormack, KK, Saunders, Gogia, The Hoff.

Personally, I think we can expect to see all three transfer targets rested and the likes of Sam and Macca given a full run out. The changes won’t be as extreme as highlighted above but, equally, I’m just the numpty on the terrace rather than any part of the club ‘inner circle’. At the end of the day (Clive) this is all pure conjecture.

One thing I can be sure about is that, as Liverpool discovered last night, you under estimate anybody at your peril. A lesson that Marinus learned the very hard way in the Capital One Cup humiliation by Oxford United. Certainly, Walsall will be no different and would absolutely love it, Kevin Keegan style, if they could get one over Dean and the Bees.

Whatever the result, today also sees a chance for two of those other cup traditions to raise their heads. And they don’t come any bigger than the tin foil trophy.

The regular reader will know I absolutely love this ritual and despite my age – 45 going on 5 – will be knocking one up later this morning. Fortunately, a last minute decision to switch from turkey to beef for Christmas lunch means we have a surfeit of Bacofoil in the kitchen drawer – much to Mrs. Bruzon’s chagrin.

Well fret no more, Mrs. B. 10metres of the shiny stuff should be enough for a decent effort, And if it’s good enough for Des Lynam then who am I to argue?

Des Lynam FA Cup

Des prepares for the final , back in the day

Second up – ‘other jobs’. TV producers love a ‘minnow’ ™ as it means they can trot out that list of the part-timer’s daytime occupations. “Somehow he manages to fit in training three times a week and a game at weekends with his job as a postman/plumber/firefighter(delete as applicable)”.

All being well this is a situation Brentford will never find themselves in and so one aspect of footballing life that we’ll not have the chance to experience. Much as this makes me a very happy man, a little part of me also wonders…’what if?’. Sam Saunders aside, who we all know used to work on the Underground as an electrician before joining Dagenham, I’m pretty sure the rest of the squad have parachuted directly into football.

Indeed, terrace talk has switched to this very subject at times as we’ve questioned what jobs our team would do if, hypothetically of course, an examination of the books and subsequent financial collapse saw us reborn in the Evo-Stik League Southern as part-timers AFC Brentford.

Well, here’s the answer. Or, at least, one take on it which of course is all just a bit of fun. Sam is in our team, although has moved on to bigger and better things. It’s based on nothing more concrete than a bit of banter and I’ll ask you indulge me formation wise – for no other reason than technological ineptitude meant this was the best way to crowbar it all together.

On the flip side, could we have stumbled across Dean Smith’s starting line up for the afternoon? See you at 3pm when we find out.

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‘Problems’…. ‘Solved’

Nick Bruzon

Putting the ‘beautiful’ back into our game. THIS is why I love my club

23 Dec

What can you say? Brentford have done it again. With most fans looking forward to the Boxing Day clash with Brighton, Tuesday night saw the focus on our Junior Bees as Griffin Park opened its gates for their now annual ‘Meet the players Christmas party.’ And, as ever, Brentford showed just what a great family club we are.

The squad was out in force signing ‘player cards’, posing for photographs and taking part in all manner of football related activities. Also present were Buzz and Buzzette, along with chairman Cliff Crown.

But it was the attitude that really impressed me. To a man, they were nothing but absolutely welcoming to our young fans (along with mums and dads) when, being honest, they may well have preferred to be sat indoors in front of Holby City on what was a wet and windy evening.

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A very happy two year old

To put on an event of this nature so close to Christmas shows, yet again, what a fantastic family environment we have at Griffin Park. The players and all others involved in the set up were an absolute credit to the club.

It’s very easy to criticise and, at times this season, I have done. However, even the most Scrooge-like amongst us could only have been impressed by what happened last night. For a team knocking on the door of the Premier League (and with the Bees just two points outside the play-off zone, we all know how significant a win over Brighton at the weekend could be), it was so refreshing to see how down to earth Brentford remain.

The sport has, rightly at times, come into much criticism for having a reputation of avaricious greed whilst Messrs Platini and Blatter are hardly portraying the beautiful game in a beautiful light at present. Yet what happened at Griffin Park was a wonderful check to remind us what is at the heart of football.

Great job all round – and THANK YOU. If nothing else, I’ve now got a son who worships Buzzette. Not bad compared to this time last year.

HB and Buzzette xmas 2014 2015

Left – December 2014. Right – December 2015

The other news of note was the fantastic ‘wall of fame’ that has sprung up behind the Braemar Road stand. I know Bournemouth did something similar a few seasons back and I’d always thought this might be a nice touch if we could make our own attempt.

Well, we have, and I have to say it looks absolutely stunning. Do get along early on Saturday for a look. Honouring players from Jimmy Jay via the likes of Ken Coote, Jim Towers and George Francis it takes us on a trip through the annals of club history, right up to Kevin O’Connor.

A stunning piece of artwork and one which has the memories flooding back. If only for Gary Blissett and his short shorts.

Will any of today’s players join that illustrious list? On Saturday, we’ll take another step on the journey to finding out.

Wall of fame

Some of the more recent entries on the ‘wall of fame’

Nick Bruzon

 

Can Brentford repeat last season’s double six over Fulham?

12 Dec

Today’s the day. Brentford visit Fulham with Bees fans hoping for a performance and result even half as good as last season’s 4-1 thumping of our neighbours at The Cottage. Coming off the back of Jota’s late, late winner at Griffin Park (in the last minute, wasn’t it…?) six points and six goals against our nearest and dearest was more than anybody had a right to hope for. But that was then and this is now. So what about today?

I’ve had some ‘interesting’ observations (that’s the polite word) over the last two columns in regards to my own build up and lack of “A proper assessment of THIS game”. Whilst the regular reader will know we concentrate as much on the ‘other stuff’ that goes with Brentford as we do on previews/reports, if it stops Mr X from crying then here it is:

We’ll beat Fulham.

To enlarge upon that, I think that even the most optimistic amongst us would be pushing it to expect the same as last time out. Then again, looking at the facts, why not? Our own last performance, against MK Dons, was one that saw a 2-0 win, the woodwork thumped three times, decent penalty shouts denied, goal line clearances, an offside effort ruled out and the excellent Alan Judge presented with a Claytonesque moment when clean through in the first half. Frankly, it could have been brackets.

Vibe 2-0 no

Lasse Vibe had a goal denied by the flag against MK

Fulham, meanwhile, suffered a 3-0 hammering at the hands of Nottingham Forest and are still looking to replace manager Kit Symons. It’s now over a month since he was sacked although Stuart Gray has been named as an interim ‘Senior Coach’ , whilst the search for a permanent ‘head’ continues.

It’s no secret that Fulham have the second worst goals conceded record in the League”. Those aren’t my words but those of the Cottagers own in-house YouTube channel for an interview with Gray.

It’s an interesting piece (to be found at the end of this column) and certainly one any Brentford fan looking to get the opposition perspective would do well to watch. If only for some quite blunt questions and some honest answers.

We do defend with eleven; we do attack with eleven. What we haven’t done, we haven’t defended set plays very well so this week we’ve concentrated on showing the players where we’re going wrong,” said Gray when pushed on the defensive set up of the team.

Likewise, when the club acknowledge that, “Last season’s result smarts with a lot of Fulham fans,” he is savvy enough to admit that “bragging rights are up for grabs and that’s the most important thing.

I take all of this to mean we can expect a very turgid line up and formation from the home side. Priority one will be to avoid defeat and putting eleven men behind the ball will be the way to achieve this. So what about the Bees?

Well, as anybody who bore witness to the MK Dons game will know, when the midfield turns it on we are a force to be reckoned with. Moreso, given the attaking options on the bench presented by the likes of Jota, Andy Gogia and Sam Saunders (did somebody mention defensive frailties from set plays?).

Gray can park the bus all he wants but when the likes of a Jota, Judge, Saunders or Canos are running at you full tilt then not even Chelsea could stop them. Mind you, on current form Chelsea would be doing well to stop a team of pensioners.

Fulham bus

Stuart Gray’s pre-match talk suggests this is what we can expect

Likewise, Josh McEachran and Max Colin are both fit once more. Subject to fitness, I expect Dean Smith to, at least, start with the same team as last weekend . However, the return of Max Colin is the most intriguing one in my eyes. His performance prior to injury marked him out as potential game changer yet, in his absence, Nico Yennaris has done nothing but shine.

It’s fair to say that, perhaps unfairly, Nico has had his critics but my hasn’t he proven them wrong? At the end of the day (Clive), you don’t come through the ranks at Arsenal without being ‘any good’. I’m sure he’ll be picked again today but the chance for more competition amongst the squad and cover in case of injury can only be a good thing.

Victory for Brentford today would take us to within three points of fifth place, as things currently stand, and nine clear of Fulham. That said, the table is still so tightly packed that, perhaps, Stuart Gray has it right. At least in part.

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The BBC table shows just what victory would do – for either team

Bragging rights are up for grab but victory is absolutely key. Personally, I’d take the win above all else. Even if it came by a solitary goal. This time. If we can do it in style, then all the better.

After Marinus departed, Lee Carsley did a fantastic job in getting us to this position. Being honest, a lot of Brentford fans were probably expecting us to be more at the trapdoor end of the table, such was the mood around the place until Lee ‘did his thing’.

Following the news that Lee has now moved on himself (as expected at some point) following early completion of the handover to Dean Smith, what better way than to sign off than with a win.

See you at the game .

Nick Bruzon

Walsall, Chelsea and Eastleigh add to FA Cup excitement – even for Brentford

8 Dec

A Christmas party meant I missed the FA Cup third round draw and ‘the big reveal’ as to who ball 7 (seven), Brentford, would be up against. A subsequent, and furtive, check of the Internet revealed a somewhat low-key headline on the BBC website: Arsenal host Sunderland. It was a title that suggested a tepid draw and, after seeing we’d been given a home time against the winner of the Chesterfield / Walsall tie, the phone went back into the pocket until this morning.

That was then. This is now. Having slept on it and reviewed the draw with fresh eyes, I have to say it looks somewhat more exciting than on first glance. Exeter City v Liverpool, Eastleigh v Bolton and Chelsea v Leyton Orient or Scunthorpe all seem made for TV and a potential ‘upset’. They have those classic FA Cup ingredients of an unfancied side hosting a ‘bigger’ team that, on paper or current form, are the candidates for the proverbial giant killing.

Hopefully we’ll be served up one of these rather than the tedium of an Arsenal v Sunderland or Norwich City v Manchester City. The sort of game we get week in, week out on Sky and BT but which the BBC, given their dearth of live games, will be itching to show. Anybody that wants to see that will be there – us ‘regular’ fans will be much more interested in seeing whether the likes of Chelsea or Exeter City can cause an upset and reach the fourth round.

Saunders territory Chelsea

View from the terrace – Chelsea almost came unstuck at Griffin Park in 2013

And then, as ever, we have the subplot at Griffin Park. With Dean Smith having left Walsall to takeover at Brentford last week, the chance to renew acquaintances so soon is the sort of opportunity that only this oldest of cup competitions can throw up. A tie that, at the start of the campaign wouldn’t have got the fans overly excited, suddenly has an additional layer of intrigue.

Who’d have thought two weeks ago that a second round replay between The Saddlers and Chesterfield would have so much interest from all at Griffin Park? If nothing else, it may send our one decent twitter hashtag, #BeeTheDJ, into meltdown. Certainly if this early contender from the weekend is anything to go by.

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A song too far for #BeeTheDJ?

On a more practical note, this does mean we’ll have three home games over a six day period with the visits of Middlesbrough (Tuesday) and Burnley (Friday) immediately afterwards. And if the cup was to go to a replay it raises the prospect of four games in the space of just over a week.

For that reason alone, I’d expect Dean Smith to shuffle his FA Cup pack – regardless of the opposition. But when you have the likes of Sam Saunders, Andy Gogia, Josh McEachran and Jota currently on the bench, that’s no bad thing. Hey, we might even get a chance to see Lewis Macleod by that point (subject to leaf fall).

That said, one can only hope that the lessons from the earlier season debacle in the Capital One Cup have been learned. Marinus Dijkhuizen put together such an inexperienced and rejigged team that we were lucky to escape with just a 0-4 thrashing. From League 2 Oxford United. Three goals down within twelve minutes meant Brentford were, at one point, staring down the barrel of a bracketing.

Using the squad is one thing but this, on a pitch that was very much looking like the Somme despite having hosted less than two hour’s competitive football, was the polar opposite. In retrospect, it’s a miracle Marinus lasted beyond the end of that first week.

Still, that’s all in the past. Things have only moved onwards and upwards. We’ve got a home tie and that, for me, is all you can ask for in the Cup.

The rest is down to Dean and the eleven players he picks to start this one.

Marinus Oxford touchline

Marinus looked a lone figure as the carnage unfolded against Oxford

Nick Bruzon

Andy Scott the unlikely hero as Bees thump MK to begin Dean Smith era.

6 Dec

As home debuts go, this was about as good as it gets. Dean Smith, the new Brentford Head Coach, couldn’t have written a better script had he tried – such was the performance delivered in a 2-0 victory over MK Dons. Bees fans left Griffin Park asking,”Pep who?” as the attacking line up delivered everything it promised.

Indeed the other more pertinent question being asked was. “How the hell was it only 2”? With Brentford having taken a first half lead via the head of Lasse Vibe and the inch perfect cross delivery of Jake Bidwell, the floodgates looked set to open. Alan Judge was next up, drawing a wonderful save from David Martin in the MK Dons when, clean through, he was odds on to score. No matter. The goal would come. Surely?

The same player (whose work in the build up for the opener also needs due credit) hit the post with a stunning free kick that saw Kerschbaumer’s subsequent follow up cleared off the line. But if that was close, Sergi Canos was next up to have a crack.

The Spaniard worked a wonderful chance but thundered his effort of the woodwork with Martin floundering and the goal begging. If the aforementioned Judge, ‘one on one’ put one in mind of the great Clayton Donaldson, this one had the name of Marcello Trotta on everybody’s lips. The Ealing Road crossbar resounded with a thump not heard since ‘that penalty’.

IMG_5171

View from the terrace – Canos thunder a shot off the bar

An opening period that also saw Vibe having had a goal denied thanks to the offside flag, left the fans ecstatic but, equally, wondering how MK were (technically) still in it. Moreso, when Vibe hit the bar for a third time as the second half got underway. It was a wonderful strike that deserved better and had supporters fearing it might be one of those days.

For those of us a bit longer in the tooth, it had all the hallmarks of an ‘old school’ Brentford game. Domination, chance after chance, stonewall penalties turned down, woodwork rattled and then Milton Keynes grabbing a scrappy, late equaliser.

Vibe 2-0 no

View from the terrace – Vibe makes it 2-0 before the linesman intervenes

Instead, justice was done. Alan Judge, who had done everything but score, finally found the back of the net on seventy minutes. His effort from the edge of the box eluding everybody to roll in past Martin and finally give us the breathing space we’d been gasping for

And that really was it. Pressure off, Brentford played out the final twenty minutes of which the highlight was, absolutely, the return of Jota for a ten-minute cameo at the end.

His presence on the bench, along with Sam Saunders, Andy Gogia and Philipp Hofmann certainly signaled an attacking intent from Dean Smith. Equally pleasing was the presence of Josh McEachran amongst the substitutes, following a late withdrawal for Alan McCormack. Whilst the former Chelsea player didn’t get a run out, this time, Dean Smith’s arrival has been perfectly timed to coincide with the squad returning to peak fitness.

Jota is back

Jota prepares to make his long awaited return

As for the Head Coach? Well, you can’t deny the impact he had. An attacking bench and a team who ‘went for it’ from the off. Even that most awkward of tactics, ‘kicking the wrong way in the first half’ failed to put us off our stride. He was rightly pleased at full time, telling the BBC, “Today’s performance was excellent” although also gave full credit to Lee Carsley for putting the squad in this position.

Even more incredibly, we scored from a short corner. Yes – you read that correctly. A short. Corner.

Judge’s goal coming from a move that began with one of these much-maligned set pieces. As the regular reader knows, “Don’t take it short. They never f**king work”, if the terrace mantra is to be believed. Frankly, there’d be more chance of Chelsea losing at home to Bournemouth than one of these ever succeeding.

Well, we did and we scored. Thanks also to the influence of Sam Saunders – king of the set piece. If this is the Dean Smith effect, the next game can’t come soon enough. Moreso, with the Bees now just one point off sixth placed Cardiff City. Fulham away on Saturday already promised to be as exciting as last season’s game. You can crank that up to 11, now.

And finally, I saw a post on Twitter last night from Matthew Benham after the match. Who knows how football works behind the scenes but this one was a revelation that has come out of leftfield.

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Matthew Benham – back to his Twitter best !

I was always a huge fan of Andy as a player and was gutted when Ron Noades let him go to Oxford. Whilst his managerial career could perhaps be described as ‘mixed’ (although I’ll never forget that night against Everton), who knew he had such Griffin Park connection and influence?

Nice work Matthew. Great work Andy.

But most of all, excellent start Dean.

Nick Bruzon