Tag Archives: Antonio Conte

No fight, No clue, No nothing. Worst. Display. Ever (and that’s just Dean) as Bees go down at Chelsea.

29 Jan

Chelsea 4 Brentford 0 . Well played Chelsea. You can only beat what is put up in front of you and what comes next is by no means meant as either criticism, or over exuberant praise, of our hosts on Saturday. But that was atrocious.

An FA Cup scoreline most outsiders would have expected before kick off yet one which, with the players at Dean Smith’s disposal could have been so much closer. More to the point, with the players at Dean Smith’s disposal it should have been one which involved some passion and fight. Instead, he rolled over and had his belly tickled.

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Stat of the day going into this one..

The BBC match report has the highlights as does Match of the Day on the I-player, approximately an hour and nine minutes in. If you must do it to yourself, I’d suggest going with the latter option purely for Gaby Logan’s sub-Partridge introduction to the game “Two years ago Chelsea lost out to League One Bradford City in the Fourth round. Today’s opponents also started with ‘B R’ and ended in ‘Ford’ but could Brentford give the Premier League leaders another FA Cup thumping?

The answer was a categoric “No”.

It is said that games can hinge on a single moment. This one was the exact moment Dean Smith set up his team. Chelsea were never going to be at full strength with matches against Liverpool and Arsenal in the coming week. Even I could see that and my managerial experience has been limited to two games at the helm of the Brentford legends.(P2 W2 D0 L0. Just saying).

The only chance of getting anything out of this was to go for it from the off, get in their faces and then grind it out later on if needs be when Chelsea brought their big guns on.

Instead, we stuck to the five defenders and four midfielders in  a system totally devoid of any attacking intent. Tom Field was demoted to the bench. Jota and Josh Clarke sat along side him, with Scott Hogan helping make up the numbers. Wing backs without wings. I’ve seen more flare and width on a kipper tie. Brentford invited Chelsea to come at them and it was a tactical decision that was doomed to fail.

We will be going all-out to win the game” promised Dean on Thursday. His team and their tactics – a Marinus era display of sitting deep then passing it sideways and backwards rather than forwards – gave the impression that we would be going all out to sneak a turgid draw.

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Was this Dean’s game plan, left on the Stamford Bridge steps?

It was total exhibition stuff from Chelsea. Rather than Diego Costa, I was half expecting Antonio Conte to bring on the Harlem Globetrotters in the second half .

The opening forty-five was so abject from Brentford that the biggest cheer from the visiting fans came at half time with the news that Paul Hayes had put Wycombe 2-0 up at Spurs. Along with the likes of Aaron Pierre, Myles Weston and Sam Wood (Marcus Bean and Sam Saunders having to be content with a place on the bench) The Swans giving a perfect lesson in how to take on a below strength team at the business end of the Premier League in their own back yard.

I heard supporters berating Romaine Sawyers and Josh McEachran – claiming the latter had been more interested in his recent ‘golf photos’. Neither had great games, granted, but they were as much a product of the tactical decisions going on around them.

Tom Field was dropped. Why, Dean? Why? Even if he was as tired as you made out, at least start him for an hour then bring on Barbet for the defensive role once we are ahead. Given the line he’d spouted two weeks earlier about trusting his players in regards to ‘not picking’ Scott Hogan (because of course, that was your decision and not at all influenced) then why his sudden reversal? Tom had absolutely nailed that position in the last few months and this was as big a slap in the face as a manager/head coach (whatever) could deliver.

There was no attacking intent on the left. Barbet either too scared, or simply not allowed, to try and take it forward. No width on the right. Josh Clarke and Jota were both overlooked in favour of a 5-4-1 formation in which all 5 sat back and all 4 passed it sideways. And backwards. It was an open invitation for Chelsea to come at us. It was an invitation which required no RVSP and no second chance. It was an invitation which came with a party bag marked ‘goals’. Only Daniel Bentley and the linesman’s flag keeping the first half score respectable.

It was abundantly clear what was going to happen. Invite them on and pay the inevitable price.

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Pre kick off. Yet worse was to come. Much worse

Just look at the way the two managers/head coaches (whatever) performed. Smith, cutting a solitary figure standing motionless on the edge of his technical area. He was a man reverting to the same abject characteristics of his ill-fated predecessor, Marinus Dijkhuizen. He was a man displaying all the passion of a waterlogged stats graph and about as much technical ability.

His opposite number Antonio Conte was like a man possessed. A demented conductor, directing an orchestra of understudies. There he was, driving them on with every gesticulation. A man constantly encouraging his team and barking out orders. This, despite them being two up against a side whose sole purpose seemed to be ‘don’t lose’.

As for the Scott Hogan decision, who knows what was going on there? If there was any chance of taking anything out of the game he should have started. Or been dropped. There’s no room or place for wishy-washy nonsense. Whatever point either he or Dean are trying to prove at the moment is not in the best interests of this team.

The opening twenty minutes of the second period showed just what would happen if we decided to cross the half way line. Attacking the Shed end that housed the 6,000 Brentford fans we began the half the way we should have started the first.

And then it fizzled out as Chelsea started to play again.

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An impressive arena. A less than impressive performance

Only poor finishing and Dan Bentley had kept the scoreline vaguely respectable in that first period. With Romaine Sawyers (whose role yesterday eludes me) unable to go forward,  three static central midfielders passing it amongst themselves and the defence stretched (how can five men get stretched?) the only question was how many Chelsea would get. That it was only two, and eventually four, is a miracle in itself.

In Matthew we trust” , I wrote earlier this month. Well I stick by that. The problem being his trusted lieutenants. The players are there. The talent is there. The motivation and formation isn’t.

For gosh sake, I could have done a better job at motivating them and setting up yesterday . If that was a team designed to go ‘all-out to win the game’ (Dean’s words, not mine) then perhaps he needs a new dictionary or coaching manual.

We haven’t got a divine right to roll over anybody before us. Likewise, Chelsea are where they are for good reason. Roman’s roubles have allowed them to build a squad that is sweeping all before it in the Premier League. But if our ultimate fate was to lose, at least show a bit of passion. A bit of fight . Make a half-arsed attempt to try and get something out of the game instead of trying to chase it when it was already lost.

The most attacking intent shown by anybody vaguely connected with Brentford was from the paunchy geriatrics in the upper tier at full time, as a crazy punch up ensued amongst some agitated supporters.

Instead, we were left with the aforementioned stat of the day from Standard Sport still holding true. We’ve never had a better chance of putting this one to bed. Instead, there was no kapow from Dean Smith.

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Nick Bruzon

As Chelsea look ahead to the fifth round and Liverpool, why Brentford will cause the mother of all upsets.

28 Jan

Saturday morning. 8.15am. The (now) ‘lucky’ tinfoil FA Cup from the 5-0 victory in the third round has just come out of storage whilst over on the TV Captain Barnacles, Kwazi and Peso are having another underwater adventure. That’s HB, not me, watching Octonauts and oblivious to the fact that today’s decreed ‘naughty team’ (a title bestowed upon anybody to line up against Brentford), are none other than Chelsea – the current Premier League leaders and one time Champions of Europe.

Oh yes. Its FA Cup fourth round day and Brentford go into this one with absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. We’ve been written off by just about everybody already whilst our own fans have, genuinely, no idea if the club’s leading scorer and one man goal machine, Scott Hogan, will start, be on the bench or have received a phonecall from his agent advising him that a buttock spasm has returned or his hamstring looked a little tight in Friday’s training.

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Just what is Scott’s number?

Nobody expects us to do it today. Mark Lawrenson and his team of guest pundits A.dot (no idea) and Adele (not that one ) from BBC radio have all tipped us to lose without scoring. Even the most tight fisted of bookmakers has us at 11/1 to win; the most generous 18/1. Chelsea, on the other hand, are 2/11 to win . Understandably so, given their wealth, their talent and their excellent start to the Premier League campaign. Chelsea lead the table by a country mile and specialise in clean sheets.

The nightmare of 2015/16, where José Mourinho proved less than ‘special’ as he lead the Blues to the edge of the relegation zone before being dismissed half way through the campaign, now seems as distant as it was unlikely. Only their failure to qualify for Europe in a season when even Spurs reached the Champions League group stages serving as a reminder of how much they had slipped last time out

Yet despite the calibre of our opposition there is room for massive hope and massive optimism. With games against Liverpool and Arsenal (genuine titles contenders and Arsenal, respectively) in the coming week you can expect an element of squad rotation. A Tuesday night trip to Anfield, where the home side will be looking to reel in the league leaders, must surely be seen as more of a threat and priority? Could an unfamiliar line up have trouble in making a cohesive unit?  With many changes predicted,  we are already boosted by the news that one man brick wall Thibaut Courtois has been replaced by ring rusty Asmir Begovic between the sticks.

There’s the atmosphere factor.Brentford sold out all 6,000 tickets within two days. nom matter what your views on the sale technique employed, expect there to be nothing but deafening noise from the Shed End. And that’s just when David Luiz puts in any form of appearance. Nobody in TW8 has forgotten about Jake Reeves.

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Nobody has forgotten…

What about the magic of the cup ? It was only two years ago that League One Bradford City humped Chelsea 4-2 at this stage of the competition. At Stamford Bridge. This, despite going 2-0 down in 38 minutes and playing against the likes of Cech, Drogba, Cahill, Oscar, Hazard and Fabregas – amongst others.

Then of course, we’ve our own recent fourth round encounter with the Blues. 2013 saw us hold Chelsea 2-2 at Griffin Park and for the entire first half of the replay until, eventually, form told.

Whilst they are few and far between we’ve had our own share of giant killing over the years. Sunderland, Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers are the names that spring immediately to mind whilst had we just conceded four goals less and scored one at Anfield then we’d have beaten Liverpool and reached the 1989 semi-final.

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Bliss doing his thing against Manchester City in the fourth round – January 1989

Yet, for me, the most telling sign for optimism are the Chelsea fans at work who, to protect their identities, we’ll simply call ‘Andrew’ and ‘Dave’. They go into this one knowing they can’t win. Apart form on the pitch. If Chelsea do manage to get past us it will be what everybody expected. But if Brentford do what I genuinely expect, there will be nothing but a very sheepish journey into the office on Monday morning and bragging rights secured for the next few months.

That alone is reason to go for it today and I can’t wait. however you travel – tube, bus, Routemaster or even on the river cruise – be safe and have fun.

But most of all, come 3pm let’s be loud. Very loud. There’s a fifth round draw to look forward to. And Brentford WILL be in it.

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The lucky cup has been touched by Buzzette. What better omen do we need?

Nick Bruzon

Forget West Ham. Now is the time for Scott to do his thing at Chelsea.

27 Jan

It has been a week of surprises and a week of shocks. Scott Hogan is still a Brentford player (at the time of writing) whilst Mrs Browns Boys won ‘best comedy’ at the National TV awards on Wednesday A bigger voting shock than Donald Trump or the Brexit result, and about as funny as Lee Hurst tied to a bomb for an hour. Yet the unfathomable success of the alleged comedy means we will only be subjected to more of the tedious Agnes Brown (for years to come). And it meant my  mind has been elsewhere rather than laughing at West Ham’s inability to prise our star man away or, of course, looking forward to the FA Cup fourth round with Chelsea on Saturday.

But if Scott is going nowhere, as it stands, then will he play against Chelsea on Saturday? Surely our best hope of beating the team that Dean Smith described yesterday as “The current leaders of the land, away” (promptly forcing me to recall the point where the draw paired us with a visit to Westminster and the Bees running out against Theresa May’s cabinet – get stuck in, Macca) is by playing our strongest XI. And that includes Scott.

Dean was in belligerent form at Thursday’s Brentford press conference, telling the media that ”Scott is available for selection. He has trained all week as he did last week” and that “we made it abundantly clear after the game last week that my decision about whether he plays or not will be final

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Dean speaks to the media on Thursday

If he’s been training and is available then, surely, he starts? Or at the very least makes it off the bench if Chelsea are looking like clawing themselves back into it after an hour and we need to turn the screw?

I can’t believe a player would suffer a minor injury for a second week in succession and so with that excuse out of the window, will Dean pick his main man?

The words used were very careful. Dean hasn’t said he will pick Scott. Just that he is available and that he (DS) will be the one to make the call. Nobody appears to have pressed him on the question – will he start? A shame, as at times our media would do a better job grilling bacon than grilling a head coach with the questions that everybody wants to know the answers to.

At the same time, keeping the cards close to the chest is no bad thing. If Brentford fans don’t know and the press don’t know then you can be sure that Antonio Conte and his Chelsea team don’t know.

On a personal note, there wouldn’t be a better stage to impress his would be employers than at Stamford Bridge. If West Ham needed any further incentive to loosen their purse strings and get into the real world, then a goal scoring performance in the backyard of the Premier League leaders would surely be the perfect audition.

Should Dean start him given all that has gone on? Forget Lee Hurst’s nonsense from yesterday – something that The Guardian took apart in such wonderful style. This is a real world situation and a genuine dilemma. Would you pick Scott?

For me, it is an absolute yes. We can’t be held to ransom. If nothing else, one could call it squad rotation. Especially with the Aston Villa game coming up on Tuesday.  But what a way to rotate a squad, brining the likes of Scott Hogan and Jota into starting XI.

If Scott remains at Brentford then he’s going to play for us anyway, so let’s just carry on that he’s ours until such time as a proper offer comes in. Frankly, if he does the business against Chelsea then we’d be well within our rights to chuck an extra couple of million on the valuation

As Dean noted, “We know the pool of talent that they have but we will be going all-out to win the game. You only have to look at who could play.

In my book, ‘all out’ means picking your best players. And that includes Scott Hogan. He’s 17/5 to score at any time.

Now where are the deeds to the house?

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Nick Bruzon

Happy with the cup draw? A chance for payback awaits.

10 Jan

The FA Cup fourth round draw has been made and Brentford will face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It is a draw that immediately evoked memories of the same stage back in 2013 where only a late equaliser from Fernando Torres kept The Blues alive as they forced a replay following a 2-2 at Griffin Park.  That second game was a much more one sided affair as 0-0 at half time turned to 4-0 in favour of a Chelsea side who would eventually make it all the way to the semis before coming unstuck against Manchester City.

Just yesterday morning when writing about the forthcoming draw, it was noted on these pages: Trumping the likes of Manchester City and Sunderland whilst running Southampton and Chelsea more than close. Oh, for a chance to do it once more.

Ask and you shall receive. If only wishes were always granted this easily.

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We faced Chelsea back in 2013. 2-2 at Griffin Park

Back then, Chelsea were Champions of Europe although that’s a far cry these days following last season’s failure to even make the Europa League (10th, wasn’t it – so not singing that song for the next few weeks would be nice). That said, nobody could deny they’ve taken the bull by the horns this time around with Antonio Conte at the helm, Diego Costa scoring for fun and their defence a fantasy football manager’s dream. Another clean sheet? Don’t mind if I do.

Brentford, on the other hand, are holding our own in the Championship but consistency is probably still the biggest challenge. With rumours about Scott Hogan’s future circling daily like vultures just waiting to feast on a carcass, could our star man even be wearing the red and white by the time we make the short trip down the road for another West London derby.

Indeed, this must be the first time in some time that we’ve played games against Fulham, QPR and Chelsea all in the same season.Where’s Luis Melville when you need him to dig out the stats on the last time that happened? (Luis, if you are reading…..).

We haven’t got a chance? Or have we? Could that cup magic deliver another wonderful story?

I have no doubt the away end will be sold out. We took 6,000 Back in 2013 and surely similar numbers will travel this time, ticket allocation permitting. Certainly the Bees will inject some atmosphere into what felt very much like a library last time out (watch out for those ‘official flag wavers’) whilst I’m sure David Luiz will warrant special attention.

Nobody at Griffin Park has forgotten what happened to Jake Reeves in the replay as the youngster came out on the wrong end of an assault (won’t dignify it with the word ‘foul’ or ‘challenge’) from the Brazilian.

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That is, of course, if Luiz and the rest of Chelsea’s first team even play in this one. With the FA Cup falling down the pecking order for many of the, so-called, ‘big’ clubs might we see a less familiar line up? Even John Terry played on Sunday against Peterborough (before being promptly red carded).

Likewise, the tie only comes a few days prior to The Blues’ trip to Liverpool for a game with  a team who are currently their closest rivals for the Premier League title. Is it wishful thinking to imagine that could play into our hands? That minds will be focussed more on that than a cup tie with a Brentford team who, on paper, they should win the floor with?

Let’s hope so. As we all know ‘on paper’ counts for nothing in this sort of game. Last time out it took Chelsea over two hours of football before they were finally able to take the lead against the Bees whilst let’s not forget the fourth round 2015. Bradford City, of course, coming from 2-0 down at Stamford Bridge to eventually emerge with an incredible 4-2 victory.

Being honest, the only slight down side to all of this is feeling a little disappointed that we’ve been denied the opportunity to visit a new ground. With all due respect to Chelsea, we’ve been there and done that. Until the Bees are regularly competing in the Premier League (one day, one day) then these sort of games are the only chance we get to mix it with football’s biggest names. Wonderful though another trip to Stamford Bridge will be, the chance to play one of the Manchester teams or even the likes of Arsenal would have been incredible.

Then again, there’s always the fifth round for that.

See you there. I can’t wait.

Nick Bruzon