Tag Archives: Arsenal

A good news/bad news kind of start to the day.

23 Sep

Another win for Brentford. Another game unbeaten. Through to the fourth round of the league cup at the expense of a West Bromwich Albion side who may have seen this one as a chance to restore some morale. Instead, the game ended two apiece – three of the goals coming from spot kicks and Marcondes with a sublime overhead kick – before we went through 5-4 in the penalty shootout. The reward for this being a visit from either Fulham or Sheffield Wednesday in next week’s fourth round. That, and the knowledge we’ve already defeated more Premier League sides than all three of those that made the jump up from the Championship last season. Leeds United the only one of those to taste any success (and that in the game of haemorrhaging defences against the hapless Cottagers). What a shame there was nobody allowed in to see it.

Sergi amongst those to feel the Forss

The expected changes to both teams were made. For Brentford it saw a return to goal of David Raya and a start for Marcus Forss, amongst others. Rico Henry, Emiliano and the sublime Sergi Canos also getting another runout from the off (let’s hope they can manage to avoid over exertion) after doing the business against Huddersfield on Saturday. With a strong bench that was well utilised the Bees were as strong as one could have expected. Certainly given the constant procession of midweek games clubs have had no choice but to play given the way the previous campaign was extended. It still makes no sense to even be playing the competition this year but, hey-ho, player burnout is a secondary consideration I suppose.

And if we are playing it, how nice to see Brentford doing so to the best of their available ability. West Brom barely got a look in during the opening half. Canos flashing one just wide and Emiliano hitting the post from distance. Fosu impressing throughout. The hosts with the one moment of danger just before half-time with a free kick awarded on the periphery of Saunders territory. It came to nothing.

Yet if the first half had seen everything but a goal, it all changed after the tea. The hosts took the lead form the spot. Dominic Thompson adjudged to have fouled Hal Robson-Kanu. The Baggies man picking himself up to give his side the lead. It was a lead that lasted less than two minutes and one which was cancelled out in fine style. Apparently.

We say ‘apparently’. Yours truly missed out after “Doing a JJ”. The net rippling off the back of Marcondes’ quite wonderful bicycle kick as this numpty had gone for a ‘splash and dash’ . Regular readers may be aware how back in the days we were allowed into grounds, it was a feat that the Giant Scot with the Pea sized bladder used to pull off with abandon from the Ealing Road terrace (missing goals by having to go for a wee, rather than bicycle kicks). Yet after suffering the same fate for our second on Saturday , has the baton been passed? Cripes. I hope not. 

If for no other reason that having fallen behind again to another Robson-Kanu spot-kick (not seen a worse ‘pen’ decision since Pontus elected for his infamous biro) we were then given our own chance to level things up.

‘That’ BIC

Daddy”, said H (I would imagine, if his teacher is reading) “wee. Go again”. One had to be impressed by the wordplay, if not the ignominy of being banished to the bathroom. I guess if you have to go, you have to go. Sure enough, it worked. Nothing to do with Marcus Forss at all. Like the lucky shirt, magic pants and not shaving, is this a new ‘omen’ to top the lot? Urghh.

Anyway, 2-2 it stayed. David Raya pulling off a flying save relatively late on to preserve the scoreline and justify his place back in the team after injury. The Twitter hate mob seemed out for our captain for the night. Makes a change from the quite bizarre Ivan/Sergi angst being seen in certain social-media quarters. Go figure. Nothing like getting on the team’s back based on nothing more than unfounded rumour. Anyway, if you’re one of those me banging on won’t change it. And if you aren’t, then presumably its nothing more than weird. Cripes. Considering some of the dross we’ve had over the years, the current squad is light years ahead.

Something proven from the full time penalties. Goal followed goal followed goal. Ivan Toney getting things off to a fine start for a Brentford team kicking second. The pressure of following the lead always adding an extra layer of pressure but, If it was there, it didn’t show. Josh Dasilva made it 2-2 with his own ‘Jonny Wilkinson’ style run up. Fosu and Forss were there for three and four. Then, David Raya did his thing. Diangana denied and the stage set. Up stepped Christian Nørgaard and there was no mistake made. West Bromwich Albion denied. The Bees through. A visit from another of last season’s Championship rivals next on the agenda.

We find out tonight whether that will be Fulham or The Owls. Brentford looking forward rather than over their shoulders at what might have been. At what happened last campaign. When pushed on whether this win was seen as revenge, Thomas Frank noted : “That’s the past, this is the future”.

With it, comes a chance to set our own personal best in this tournament. We’ve never reached the fifth round before. That game at Birmingham City being as close as it has got in recent years. Now, we’re all set for another crack.

Before that though, there’s a chance to rest tired limbs over the next few days. Saturday sees the trip across London to face Millwall. I’d love to be going – as much for the pre-match pub crawl as the actual game. Again, an action now denied and one with no end in sight. The latest announcements from the government curtailing any experiments with letting spectators back and meaning it looks like March, at the earliest, before we can even consider attending a game. ‘For the greater good’ and all that but let’s not pretend this isn’t soul destroying. That this isn’t devastating for so many, if not all, clubs on the financial front. That football without fans present and watching on I-follow is an ersatz replacement for the real thing.

I don’t really want to end on a downer. The prospect of Preston had been dangled like a carrot. That’s now been snatched away and for the foreseeable too. Waking up and listening to the radio this morning makes for hard news. We want in. We want normal. We just want to go and watch a game of football.  We aren’t allowed. For crying out loud, wash your hands and wear a mask. Like it or not. Believe it or not. Let’s all just do this . Please. I want to watch football. Not listen to Boris giving the impression of a man making it up as he goes along.

The latest rules invoking a virus busting cut-off at 10pm mean anyone wanting to watch the Arsenal – Liverpool game down the pub on Monday night will be kicked out with the game approaching 85 minutes gone. Small consolation, I suppose. And nothing Arsenal won’t have experienced before with fans streaming out early.

Before 22.00, everything is just fine. Be warned, horror awaits straight after.

Instead, let’s end with the thought of another fine performance. Of our MOTM Marcus Forss scoring. Again. With thoughts of Brentford continuing our winning form. Of taking consolation that, had we gone up last season, we’d have missed out on being physically present for that. 

Here’s to Millwall on Saturday. See you on I-follow.

Nick Bruzon 

Waiting for (err) Raya as old friends return.

18 Sep

The game with Huddersfield Town may be upon us but for now Brentford supporters seem more concerned with transfer talk. There’s the move, or non-move as now looks likely, of David Raya to Arsenal along with the incoming conjecture surrounding Saman Ghoddos. Plus we’ve the return of an old favourite from last season – Stu Wakeford and Marcus Gayle are back with ‘The Run In’ (as was). The show, affectionately nicknamed ‘Soccer PM’ makes a return on Friday evening and the team are looking for your help. Meanwhile, over in Gibraltar a win for Glasgow Rangers has us asking questions about football folklore.

They’re back tonight

First up, David Raya. Go back to sleep Arsenal fans, its not happening. Despite the stress and angst felt in this corner of the world by many (although if that was bad then just wait until the Benrahma / Crystal Palace stories start up again…) our man is going nowhere. It is a drum that the GPG in particular have been long banging and now the press would seem to have caught up. Several publications (established rather than those ‘the three players this club must sign’ type clickbait mongers) are now reporting that we have turned down a significant bid – £10m is the figure quoted – even though this also had a season long loan back option included. Apparently.

What a statement if so. This club won’t be pushed around. Players will only be sold if Brentford want it to happen. Arsenal will have to wait. Or come back to the table with a nuclear sized bid although the same sources now say that their attention is focussed elsewhere. Hurrah. Of course, what this means for the Lionel Road goalkeeping position remains to be seen. Luke Daniels has worn the gloves so far this campaign and I can only imagine him doing so again when Huddersfield Town come to visit. He’s waited a long time for his chance and won’t be happy to give it up.

That’s the view looking in. Of course, we don’t actually know what’s going on behind the scenes. Paper talk is one thing and Raya could be genuinely injured. Hey, you never know. The wantaway talk nothing but bull smoked up by agents and a rival club to strip up intrigue and unsettling speculation. Hey, one can fantasise.

David Raya is a Bee.

Next up, Saman Ghoddos. We’ve not talked about the attacker’s proposed move on these pages yet. Mainly because the saga seems to have dragged on longer than a studio recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys and has been as equally painful. That’s as much down to the same ‘joke’ (and I use that word with the same caution offered at a studio recording of Mrs. Brow… ) being used by the entire internet. Yes, I get it. His surname is Ghoddos. We’re still waiting for news on him signing.  If only there was an original way to connect the two that, seemingly, nobody else has thought of. Waiting f… No. Can’t do it. Won’t do it.

Instead, I’ll offer up a couple more shared last night . “Where Is Your Ghoddos now” was nice. There was also “Does your Ghoddos exist?” . If it all turns out to be idle speculation then we can just go for “The Ghoddos Delusion”

Next up, ‘The Run In’ is back. The surprise hit of the summer, put together to build up the big game atmosphere as lockdown bit,  was a video show hosted by the aforementioned Wakeford and Gayle. The former of Soccer AM duties (but don’t let that stop you watching) and the legend that is Marcus. A club hero on and off the pitch. A club ambassador and , like Sam Saunders, one of those with his own special song. We still know it.

The great news is that the first show of series 2 is up this evening. It hits YouTube at 6pm and is very much a ‘must see’ for anyone needing their fix of all things Brentford. The one fly in the ointment being the title. The run in to 2019/20 has been and gone. We’ve a new season and, as such, something more appropriate is needed. This is where your help is needed. A tweet went up last night calling on fans to come up with a title. Personally, I’ve gone for Countdown to Kick-Off (Soccer PM felt as obvious as the Ghoddos affair) but there must be better out there. Surely?

Anyway, if you want to win a new shirt reply to the below Tweet. But do it fast.

Finally, Gibraltar. Lincoln Red Imps, who so famously beat Celtic 1-0 in a Champions League qualifier a few season back, were thumped 5-0 by Rangers last night in the Europa League. Fair enough. It happens. The regular reader will know of my family connection and fascination with all things based around the GFA. 

However, the score is mentioned as much to question the rules of a football trashing. This, being how Absolute Radio reported the game in their breakfast show news today. 

Much like the wellness scale of shot methods (at 110%, if anything he hit it too well) what determines when the word ‘trashing’ can be used? Is it 4, 5 or more goals? Does that need to be clear (So 5-3 isn’t a trashing)? Do you get bonus points for playing away? Should the perceived quality of the opposition ever be factored in (so Liverpool winning 4-0 away to teams like Brentford or Arsenal is, perhaps, more well played than an actual ‘thrashing’)?

If anyone knows, then please send in your answers on a postcard, marked ‘thrashing’. Please note that your entries cannot be returned. Until then, we’ll stick with the only two really established rules. Brackets after a 7(seven) – 0 should always, only ever be lower case and then there’s that quite magnificent scale of shot quality.

If anything he hit it too well

Nick Bruzon 

Luke rushes to save his loved ones. Will Raya force a move?

13 Sep

That was quite frustrating. We outplayed them and outbattled them, created four major chances and they did nothing. We had 13 shots, they had one and our keeper hardly touched the ball”. Not my words but those of Brentford head coach Thomas Frank after going down 1-0 in the season opener to Birmingham City…… in 2019. Fast forward 12 months and it was a case of deja-vu. Lesson not learned and chances not taken. Blues running out 1-0 in winners in a game where they created few opportunities but did the all important thing of converting. No complaints. Well done. With the Arsenal & Aston Villa talk still hanging around like a bad smell, David Raya missed this through injury. In a game of few opportunities created by the hosts we could have played Luke Skywalker rather than Luke Daniels and it would have made no significant difference (one sharp save early on aside). The goal, when it came, as much due to non-existent marking. It was an opening gratefully accepted by Jeremie Bela as he headed home a corner at the near post just prior to half-time.

We created seven big chances today……They scored on the only big chance they had, they had maybe one or two half chances and didn’t create anything besides that.” Those WERE Thomas’ words after this one and he’s right.

Sergi was on fire throughout and hit the crossbar with a bicycle kick in the second period after Josh Dasilva had rattled the post in the first. Mbeumo Barbet’d one in the first half and flashed a shot across the face of goal in the second. That’s not to mention two very strong penalty shouts – one in each period. First, Harlee Dean with all the finesse of a juggernaut and then Pontus Jansson unceremoniously man-handled later in the game. That’s before we even mention several scrambles where rock solid, last-gasp defending prevented Blues’ line form being breached.

I’ve no issue with the result. Well done Birmingham City. They did what they had to at both ends and that’s how you win football matches. Pretty play and passing counts for nothing if you can’t convert. The league table doesn’t have an additional column for ‘deserving to win’ (except, perhaps, at Aston Villa – oh Dean, I do love your post match conferences). Brentford sit on Played: 1, Points: 0 . That’s a fact.

Yet, at the same time, we’ve a team re-finding their feet. Put Raya to one side. Whether injured or half-way to Arsenal, it was in the attacking third that things didn’t quite work out yesterday. That cosmic understanding between the BMW disrupted by the fact that only one of them was on pitch. Whether Benrahama will return remains to be seen but the smart money is on planning for life without him.

That goal busting form will come once more as the new look line up starts to gel. Sergi Canos was chomping at the bit and Mbeumo are into it. There’s already the option of Marcus Forss on the bench and, let’s not forget, it wasn’t as though we didn’t create chances. We did. Sadly for the Bees, Birmingham City were equal to the task. The woodwork taking heavy punishment. Referee Tony Harrington choosing not to award a spot kick. On another day…

The season Newcastle United were Champions they lost the first two. The year Bournemouth bought their way up, it took until November to start firing. Even Brentford had the slowest of starts last campaign before we hit that wonderful hot streak. The doom and gloom already being seen one game in is, of course, to be expected (it wouldn’t be football otherwise) but I’m more frustrated than in panic mode.

The talk this morning is that Emiliano Martinez is Aston Villa bound. Arsenal have, apparently, agreed a £20m deal with Aston Villa following the decision that Jay Leno will be first choice at the Emirates. The scrutiny on the Bees will only increase should that transpire. If David Raya IS injured then we wish him a speedy recovery. If he wants to be a number two then that’s his call, of course.

.

I’d love him to stay. I’ll happily take the cash if he doesn’t want to be a part of this. No matter how cynical one gets about pre-season injuries and trips to the beach for our coveted players, this team always finds a way to grow. Look at how Ollie Watkins stepped in to cover off Neal Maupay last time out. Could this end up being the same opportunity for Luke Daniels? Or will David be back for the visit of Huddersfield on Saturday?

It wouldn’t be Brentford if it were any other way.

And finally… e-book, season review etc etc. If you’d like to read more then you can still pick up 2019-20 for free, here. Time really is ticking on this one now so move fast before Amazon stick a price back on them (at which point any proceeds received go to the Community Sports Trust). From Birmingham City to Ollie Watkins and beyond….

Enjoy.

Simon Moore famously went to Cardiff beach

Nick Bruzon

What’s brewing at Birmingham for Brentford? Will Bees’ keeper get stung on the Arse(nal)?

12 Sep

Brentford head to Birmingham City this lunchtime for a Championship opener sure to be overshadowed by transfer speculation. Number 26’s move back down South from Burnley to West Ham (they’re actually going to pay for somebody?) sure to reap us a healthy windfall should it happen. Elsewhere, the talk around David Raya to Arsenal shows no sign of abating, with his agent stoking the flames on that one. I don’t, now, expect him to play today with the answer to that one hidden in plain sight on Brentford ‘official’.

If yesterday morning’s piece was lacking the usual buzz about the season to come then the prospect of having a match today is making things feel slightly better. An early kick off on Sky sure to set the pulse raising when things get back under way in Birmingham at 12.30. 

Who starts for Brentford remains to be seen, of course.

David Raya  / Luke Daniels between the sticks is the big question. The answer is Luke Daniels. I call that specifically based on the match preview published yesterday by ‘official’. It notes that “Mads Roerslev will be absent due to a foot injury while David Raya has missed the last three matches with a knock”. Before also adding that “There are no tanks”. Possibly.

There you go. Forget the rumours – its injury. Having not played in weeks, and so presumably off the pre-season pace given this health related update, I’d be amazed if it is anyone but Luke Daniels who starts today. The club have made it quite clear they have no desire or need to sell Raya. His recent absence has been down to nothing more than a knock. Honestly! Who could think otherwise?

Look, I don’t know what’s actually going on here. Who does? Phil and Rasmus aside. Arsenal are involved in quite public dealings with Aston Villa to sell goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. Dean Smith being able to wield the chequebook is like watching a kid at Christmas. The smile on his face when Ollie Watkins walked in to the room was infectious. In a nice way. Will he get a new ‘keeper and thus add more smoke to the Raya rumours? Or will the club hold firm and show him that the Premier League, with Brentford, is the future. Oh to be a fly on the wall at Benham towers these days.

Whatever happens, happens. We don’t need or want to sell. If we do then it will be on our terms. Common sense dictates that Luke Daniels is our lunchtime starter and then we go from there. Wait for Raya to recover and then see if he is a Bee or a bookworm (because they play in a libra.. oh, why do I bother?). 

David Raya – still a Bee. For now.

On the plus side, all this has distracted from Benrahma talk. Nobody has mentioned his name for a good week or so. Move along. Nothing to see here. Again, I can’t see him starting against Birmingham or being involved in any capacity but we’ve more than enough in the squad to do the business today.

Hand on heart, I’m calling this as ‘away win’. There’s too much talent and too many memories of how last season played out to do anything less than looking to start at 100 mph. The BMW may have lost some constituent parts but it will still be pedal to the medal for our, ermm, MTC. That one needs a little work.

New season – different model rolling off the forecourt

The other transfer story doing there roads (Josh Clarke to Wigan aside) is the alleged move of number 26 to West Ham. We all know the terrible personal circumstances that led to him refusing to play against Burnley before suddenly signing for them. That’s happened and we can’t change it. Only remember. What is it with our ex-centre backs and their dealings with the press? Something something something ten times better…. 

But the plus side to this is, of course, the windfall we’ll receive should it go through. Whilst, personally, I take the majority of football rumours with a huge pinch of salt, the prospect of multi-millions was enough bait to make me click. Lancslive are clapping it could be as much as £8.5million to the Bees, given any sale  needs to factor in what they describe as a whopping “27.5 per cent sell-on fee to Brentford of any profit on the £3.5m the Clarets paid the Bees for the 27-year-old’s services in 2016. That means that should Tarkowski depart for £35m then Brentford could pocket more than £8.5m, cutting the Clarets profit to around £26.5m.” You can read the full piece here if you want.

Rasmus models his new look

Again, I’ve no idea how true any of this is / isn’t. The only thing we can say for certain is that Brentford are masters of the transfer market. Buy them cheap, sell them high, take a cut on anything in the future. It’s more than plausible we’re in line for further financial reward and, if so, reduces the need to make any hurried sales ourselves. In theory. Arsenal may need to add an extra nought on to their offer.

Still. All that’s to come. For now, it’s a case of Brentford v Birmingham City. Of taking your place on the couch. Chosing a lucky shirt and cracking open the goal sweets. And the beers. See you at lunchtime on social media and in front of the TV. 

And finally… e-book, season review etc etc. If you’d like to read more then you can still pick up 2019-20 for free, here. Time is ticking on this one so move fast before Amazon stick a price back on them (at which point any proceeds received go to the Community Sports Trust). From Birmingham City to Ollie Watkins and beyond….

Enjoy

New season – new lucky shirt

Nick Bruzon

Needless to say, he had the last laugh.

10 Sep

And with that, Ollie Watkins was revealed at Aston Villa. The latest Brentford star to make the step up to the top flight. These days,  the Villans rather than Wycombe or Birmingham City are the ones becoming our ‘B’ team. He joins Jota, Ezri Konsa and manager/ head coach Dean Smith in a squad that could be argued as , if not ‘ten times better’, certainly one chock full of talent. England debutant Jack Grealish the most prodigious of the stars that will be playing alongside our (former) man.

That’s about as ‘official’ as it gets.

There was nothing but good wishes from all at , err, Lionel Road when the news was announced. A low key statement from Brentford, “All the best, Ollie. The striker has this morning completed his move to @AVFCOfficial for an undisclosed fee” was followed by a much more in depth piece detailing the move. Albeit, the fee of £28million with a further £5million in add-ons was not confirmed. Kerr-chinggg! 

After the season he had, and that unmentionable final game, it was unlikely Ollie would be staying. No complaints here. Quite the opposite. He has his dream move and a well deserved reward for all the hard work and good times. Brentford have shown we are no longer the pushovers in the transfer market that we were in days gone by. Now, there is no need to sell. Just the knowledge that we help players progress, with replacements lined up, and release them when it is mutually beneficial. 

Cripes – what a price. I saw a comment that says it is the 12th highest ever paid for an English player. Aston Villa have absolutely got an international star in the making. If he can continue his goal scoring hot streak – and Dean will know what his man can do – then the England shirt will be beckoning. Neal Maupay showed last season how that step up to the top flight can be made. I fully expect more of the same from Ollie. 

There was a graphic from Sky Sports on Twitter yesterday, declaring Brentford to be ‘Masters of the transfer market’. 

Looking at it in cold, hard figures you’d be doing well to disagree. Not just with the fees but , as much, our recruitment process. How far away do all the sneers now seem? The talk of Matthew Benham’s system being nothing more than robotics and Moneyball? Of him inhabiting a Doctor Evil style ‘lair’? That one was Clem, I recall. Needless to say, he’s had the last laugh. (Matthew, rather than Clem).

Talk to the hand – a strange analogy once made about Matthew Benham’s HQ

So who next? Joel Valencia seems set for a loan out to Legia Warsaw. Talk on Said Benrahma has gone quiet. Very quiet. Is he also Aston Villa bound? Somehow, possibly, maybe sitting tight? Hey, one can dream. David Raya still seem inexorably linked with Arsenal although the club have made it absolutely clear we are not interested in even considering a sale. It’ll be telling to see what happens when we visit Birmingham City on Saturday lunchtime. For the record, I expect David to start and be with us all season.

As ever with Brentford, this is all out of our control. Stressing about it won’t do any good. Confidence in who will comes in to replace those that have moved on is something which should remain sky high. Past seasons have more than proved that, now we’ve got the Proschwitz style kinks out of the system. Ivan Toney is the latest of those to join us and I can’t wait to see how he goes in the red and white.

That’s all to come. The season proper starts on Saturday. The transfer window remains open until early October. That’s a LONG time. Urgh. Still, heads down. Teeth gritted. Move along, nothing to see here. Nothing to worry about if it does happen. He says….

Until then, it’s a case of one more ‘Good luck’ Ollie. Not that he needs it. Perhaps more a case of ‘So long and thank you for everything’. Here’s to seeing you on Match Of The Day.

And finally, don’t forget that all The Last Word season reviews remain available, for free download for your kindle e-book reader. There’s only a day or so of this to run so please help yourselves – if you want. You can pick up 2013/14 – 2017/18 here, there’s 2018/19 here whilst the latest effort (which is probably the word), covering 2019-20 is here. These are free so get in now. Once these go back to ‘regular’ price (the Amazon store gives five free days every three months) then any monies received go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust…

Thanks, as ever.

You can read about all this sort of stuff once more

Nick Bruzon

Who goes? Who stays? Who is back to his best?

3 Sep

New month. Same Brentford. Transfer rumours hang around like a bad smell. The wait for live action seems an eternity away. Despite our new stadium finally hosting a game (the 2-2 friendly draw with Oxford United) the headlines are dominated by talk of Arsenal, Aston Villa and even West Ham looking at the likes of Rico Henry, Ollie Watkins and David Raya. Plus ça change. It’s Brentford, innit.

Sergi does his thing against Oxford. Twice.

The prospect of attending a game in person still seems a long way off. Arsenal allowing 2,500 fans into the Emirates in October – presumably in a bid to keep the atmosphere identical to when it is empty – was the talk of the pub last night. How accurate this is remains to be seen, of course.  Then there’s the obvious question is whether we / other clubs could follow suit? How would tickets even be allocated? One thing’s for sure, it’s a tightrope of supporter happiness that I wouldn’t want to tread. Especially for the Bees when we’ve got the prospect of visiting our new home added to the mix of what is already a desperate craving to see a ‘live’ game again. No matter how sparse the attendance. 

Good luck there. Good luck everyone. Until then we can at least see a few games on TV. Sunday’s cup tie with Wycombe Wanderers is on Sky. As is the season opener at Birmingham City. I’d love to be there in person for that one but instead , the couch beckons. Urghh. The chance to see our team in action will be undertaken from the sofa instead of St. Andrews or Lionel Road. Welcome to season 2 of Covid 19.

Who will start either game, though? The much rumoured signing of Ivan Toney was revealed during the week. He slotted straight into the team for the Oxford game. That, a line up which (like the 2-1 reverse at West Ham) was missing Said Benrahma, Ollie Watkins and David Raya. Read what you want in to that. Likewise, take heart from this post by the GPG….

 We all know they have their ear very close to the ground and are pretty much spot on when it comes to advance warning of incomings and outgoings. The spine of the team would seem to be remaining intact. Our ‘keeper and left-back going nowhere. Aston Villa and West Ham (won’t happen – see every rumour, every season) forced to dig very deep should they want to try and prise the others away. 

I’m a realist. I know how the club works and the signing of Ivan Toney would suggest the out-door is going to swing. Who, when and where the questions that remain to be seen? I’d happily be proven wrong, of course, and this be the season to really go for it from the off. To make a full tilt charge for the top of the Championship after coming ludicrously close last time out. To do this with a full fat squad bursting at the seams. But we all know that’s not our model.

Keep it lean. Keep it trim. Keep it topped up with talent. Have the B-team step straight in when the time comes. The bookies still have us as 6-1 favourites for the title. Sergi Canos is fit again and chomping at the bit. His brace against Oxford United seeing him become the first person to score at Lionel Road. The ever popular wideman is sure to be a key player this time around after that crippling blow suffered at Nottingham Forest last time out. Indeed, he could have had a hat-trick but for a penalty being saved (It’s Brentford, innit).

Match action , here

We’ve bought shrewdly with Ivan and Charlie Goode following our usual model of buying highly-rated young talent from divisions below us. Of knowing these are players already able to compete at this level. And beyond. Toney was heavily linked with the top flight so it’s great for us he’s made the decision to go there with the Bees. He was also linked with the Scottish Premiership so it’s nice that he has chosen to step up rather than sideways following the move from Peterborough.

As for the rest of this week, distraction from transfer rumours begins with the auction pick up. That starts today with winning bidders able to start collecting their items from 9am in The Hive. Good luck to anybody who ordered a turnstile…..

Come for the collection. Stay for the excuse for one last, last, final, last visit to Griffin Park. 

The previous, last , last visit to Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon 

FA Cup ‘highlights’ build anticipation for Tuesday.

2 Aug

Two more wake ups to go. The battle for the final place in next season’s Premier League is almost upon us. Who will join Frank Lampard’s Chelsea for next season’s West London derby? Brentford or Fulham? Who will stay behind in the Championship to slug it out with the Loftus Road club? Wembley awaits but before that it has played host to yesterday’s FA Cup final between The Blues and Arsenal. 

For the neutrals amongst us, it really was a cracking match despite being played out in front of a near-empty Wembley. Arsenal ran out 2-1 winners in a game that it wouldn’t have been a surprise to hear Keith Stroud had been refereeing. Some of the decisions made were, err, ‘questionable’. Specifically, the second half sending off of Mateo Kovacic when he earned a second yellow for what could be describe as, at worst, a harmless challenge. 

Stroud

A Keith for all seasons

A bitter pill to swallow and, unlike Rico Henry’s red last week, there is no room for any further recourse. At least Brentford had the opportunity to appeal and bring back our man for that blockbuster destruction of Swansea. Instead, this game is now consigned to the record books. Arsenal lift the cup and have now earned the right to be kicked out in the last 16 of the Europa league. Chelsea are left to count the horrific injury cost suffered in this one. More dodgy hamstrings than the deli counter in Morrisons and what looked like a dislocated shoulder for Pedro.

There was a howl of frustration from Mrs. Bruzon when he came on to the pitch, let alone went off. “Urghh – Pedro”. Nothing to do with the player himself but a terrifying flashback to the relentless days and days and day spent watching Peppa Pig when H was much younger.

All I can think of now is blinkin’ Pedro Pony and his whinny voice.” Brentford not feasting at football’s top table had meant, of course, that these are streams yet to be crossed. Until this unfortunate coming together. And with that, the Cup final was ruined.  

Pedro

Pedro Pony

The other big talking point to come out of yesterday’s game was just what font had been used on the back of the Arsenal kit? Bavarian beer house? Medieval? Samurai? Had the designers at Adidas been on the pop when going through the MS Office gallery? 

Sadly, the answer would now seem to be a much more mundane one. Nothing more nostalgic than it being based on the classic crest that adorned their shirt from 1949-2002 before being replaced by the current Clipart. Typeface aficionados can look forward to seeing this in forthcoming Cup and European games.  

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The ‘cup’ font – expect it to be retired by March

As ever, there was controversy. Not so much the sending off but the BBC losing the plot when the added time was announced at the end of the second half. The signal of ‘7’ on the board should have seen a regulation use of brackets. 

Yet rather than go with: “7 (seven) minutes added on” , the live updates on the BBC website went for a quite bizarre mismatch. Whomever was driving obviously had vague notion of 7 = brackets but that was about as far as their basic knowledge of football folklore went.

It was almost as though the videprinter was being operated by Officer Crabtree from ‘Allo ‘Allo. Good moaning. I was just pissing by your door etc etc etc.

How else to account for this mangled grammatical effort?

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And with that, it was all over. I won’t deny a small increase in stress levels when the board went up. And not just because of the BBC setting my teeth on edge. More, due to the fast forward to Tuesday night. Brentford and Fulham really will be in to the last knockings at that point. Will it be a case of hanging on for extra time, backs to the wall defence or throwing the kitchen sink forwards in a last gasp attempt to win the game?

Imagining that moment wasn’t fun. The clock will either be moving at snail’s pace or accelerating at warp factor 10 (don’t ‘@‘ me, nerds) depending on how the scoreline sits.

It’s going to be awesome and awful in equal measure. And I can’t wait. The game is getting ever closer. The moment building. As we noted yesterday, life shouldn’t wished away yet, at the same time, waking up this morning the anticipation seems even greater than ever before. In part this was due to a great game yesterday but, equally, because knowing the possibility of facing both these clubs as part of a regular campaign is only 90 minutes away. Possibly  ninenty-SEVEN (97).

Elsewhere, The Scottish Premiership returned with Celtic looking for their chance to make it ten league titles in a row. Or, as Adam Devlin put it on Twitter…

5lD

And I can’t top that so, instead, it’s a case of saying thank you and good morning. 10am Boot Camp in St. Paul’s Park, Brentford calls (do get along if you are local). Anything to try and exorcise (exercise?) some of those pre-match demons that are already tapping on the shoulder…   

Nick Bruzon

TV review. Football : 3 out of 5. Can Brentford do better?

18 Jun

Well that was quite the surreal experience. It looked like football. Kind of sounded like football. But without the fans it certainly wasn’t football. Mrs. Bruzon summed it up nicely during the Manchester City v Arsenal game with the succinct observation that, “My God, this is shit”. On the plus side, we had the tragedy of David Luiz to enjoy – one that always brings a smile to the face of us Brentford Fans and an elbow to the face of Jake Reeves. Prior to that was the ‘return of football’ with Aston Villa v Sheffield United. A game which saw Hawkeye ball tracking fail to return from furlough and Dean Smith, not unusually, believing his team deserved that (because they’ve previously been on the receiving end). But with the trip to Fulham coming ever closer, what did we learn last night ?

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Nobody has forgotten…

Well the first thing being that the game at the Cottage has come into question from some fans, with the announcement from Brentford that, “We have had a positive test from the latest round of Covid-19 testing. The individual concerned is now self-isolating in accordance with the EFL guidelines”. There’s nothing further added. No word on how the individual is faring or who it is although the priority here being we all wish them well for a quick recovery. There has been no suggestion of any postponement either – from either the club or the EFL  – so it’s pretty safe to assume that we will be going ahead as (new) normal come Saturday lunchtime. The short hop to Fulham set for a televised 12.30pm kick off.

Of course I’ll be watching on Saturday. The chance to tear Fulham a new one never one to be missed. The opportunity to close in on ‘automatic’ as appealing . For those needing a reminder, victory would take us within a point of our third placed neighbours whilst table topping Leeds United are 11 points clear at the top of the pile. And I did have to check, it’s been that long. It’s been missed a lot. Even Harry said to me last night, “Daddy, I really miss my seat at Griffin Park. I wish I could be back there”. Don’t we all. Instead, TV coverage is the next best thing and we had our first taste of it last night.

There was the option of genuine coverage – the one where you could hear every pin drop, exhortion from the coaches and clanger from David Luiz – or the version with fake crowd sound piped over the top. We settled on the later. It made a very odd experience, where supporters had been replaced with giant flags, slightly less surreal. But not much. It was weird. It wasn’t football as we know it but at least it was here. Arsenal showing their customary irrelevance. Their pretentions of success nothing more than a rapidly fading memory. Manchester City imperious and sweeping all before them.

Curse Liverpool and their enormous lead at the business end of the Premier League. The only consolation being that the inevitable triumph will be greeted with, “Well, you won it. But….”. That said, I’m sure their fans will be gracious when the moment finally comes and it won’t be mentioned much.

Yet even with fake sound I found it tough going. Fans are such a vital part to every game and never more has it been seen. Or not. There was no humour. No terrace wags. No natural reaction to events unfolding but more a background hum much akin to motorway traffic heard from a distance. Personally, I don’t know what it’s gong to be like watching a game at Griffin Park without Angry Dad giving his advice to the touchline officials and the referee. 

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The referee and his assistants can now ignore all reminders of the rules

One New Road observer has been in touch to share his thoughts about the prospect of watching Brentford in such circumstance, and they are, as ever, infinitely more eloquent than anything yours truly can put together….. 

“As someone who regularly attends football, what makes the atmosphere at football special and genuine isn’t that sanitised “this is what football sounds like” image. It’s the spontaneity, the characters unique to your section of the crowd, the extra edge a midweek match has as people arrive having had quite enough of work. It’s the chatter and buzz of the crowd before kick off, it’s the lone joker that pipes up with a slice of dark humour at the sight of yet another turgid midfield display, it’s the vociferous rebuke of a player at an FA Cup tie that has the TV producer scrambling for the mixing desk (although let’s keep it inclusive at all times), it’s one away player being singled out as that afternoon’s pantomime villain, it’s the crowd shouting “handball” with every pass to mock the opposition’s failed claim for a penalty. That’s the romance of football. That’s atmosphere. 

You can’t replace that with carefully vetted recordings of Barcelona fans performing their manufactured anthem or, heaven forbid, a crowd using cardboard clappers instead of making noise with their hands and mouths. Genuine atmosphere isn’t someone in the booth pressing a button to play GenericCrowdGoesOohClip3 as another wayward shot sails over the bar. If you want that, you can get plenty of it in FIFA Soccer. I’m not interested in hearing what Sky Sports wants us to think football sounds like. 

One Bundesliga referee recently reported feeling like the job is easier and his heart rate is lower without a baying crowd on his back. Playing recordings of the home crowd jeering a decision won’t have any significant effect on that. The referee and players know it’s fake. Pressuring a referee is part of our job as fans and something that can’t be replicated.

Will anyone dare play a clip of their crowd booing the team off at half time as they’re 3-0 down? But it would be a very brave club that piped in a recording of their entire home end letting Lee Tomlin know he’s a wanker. For example.” *

All this aside, I still can’t wait to see Brentford in action on Saturday. The involvement so desperately lacking by watching two teams I’m not overly bothered by will definitely be present. And then some. We’ll be shouting from our couches and social bubbles. Beer in hand and shirts worn with pride. The fake sound will be turned off. I want to hear Pontus screaming. I want to hear Fulham silent. Albeit, it does seem they have plans to pipe in their own noise. Groan. 

View from the stand - Stuart Dallas celebrates doing that thing.....

Moments, and sounds, like this will be denied

Manchester City – Arsenal definitely whetted the appetite but it wasn’t really more than a distraction. Something to finally give me back remote, control after close to 100 days of outback murder, property shows and Gogglebox. Oh, Mancunian dog owner. You may be funny but please get those boots away from the cakes. Please.

To repeat an oft used analogy on these pages, it was like a Timothy Dalton ‘Bond film’. The rest of the crew and supporting cast may be the same, the action and the sound are similar and he even wears the same clothes. Yet ultimately, without the one-liners and raised eyebrow of Roger Moore, or the cameos from Victor Tourjansky, it all seems to be missing critical element. Atmosphere. Passion. Emotional Investment.

Here’s hoping that when it is our turn, things feel better. I’m sure they will. I’d say “See you there” but we all know that’s not possible. Pretty sure social media might be busy though…

victor montage

Any excuse for the Victor montage

Nick Bruzon

* Please note, the views shared by one New Road observer about Lee Tomlin are personal but also shared by this page.

Which way are you going?

16 Jun

Here we go again. Part 2 of 2019/20 is almost upon us with Brentford gearing up for life on and off the pitch. Arsenal were put to the sword 3-2 in front of a noisier than usual crowd last week. The Bees then went down 2-0 at Watford on Saturday. Chelsea are supposedly in for Saïd Benrahma, if you believe the ’stories’. A mixed bag of pre-season results and the worry of transfer rumours – the more things change, the more they stay the same. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve got the trip to Fulham on Saturday.

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The blue of Brentford rather than Chelsea is the future. I hope.

I have to be honest that there are a whole range of mixed emotions at present. That football can even take place in any format is going to be a huge morale boost after three months of lockdown. Likewise, the fact that the Championship is able to be determined on the pitch, despite the horribly artificial environments the games will be played in. Some clubs – the likes of Arsenal and Fulham – are sure to thrive in these familiar circumstances. Libraries and clappers have never made for good atmosphere. Others, like Leeds United and West Brom, may struggle rattling around inside those huge, empty arenas. So often a cauldron of noise but now empty vessels where every sound and echo is amplified further.

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Arsenal played Brentford in front of a noisy Emirates crowd.

We’ve all been granted the option to donate our remaining Season ticket balance for access to I-follow and a club brand facemask in order to watch the action. You have to feel for the clubs with revenue streams being decimated. Having to then refund supporters for cancelled tickets on top of this could be a body blow fo many. 

The email sent to Brentford fans was certainly a tough sell,  pressing all the buttons marked ‘togetherness’ and ‘challenge’. I don’t envy the clubs these decisions. I don’t envy fans then being put in the position where they have to make the choice in what are horrific financial times for many. Individual and family circumstances will, of course, vary. Money is tight and if nothing else, Lionel Road Season Tickets still need to be paid for. Some fans may want to help but simply have no option. Others may take the line of why pay for something they aren’t getting to the full?         

Personally, I’ve gone for the donate option. It may be super cheesy but Griffin Park is one place where, for me, ‘togetherness’ IS what it has always been about. Fans mix with players. The top brass talk to supporters. The Community Sports Trust is magnificent whilst let’s not forget our unique involvement – past and present – c/o Supporters Trust Bees United. Buckets have been rattled and times have been hard. Takeovers from down the road have been put off – all thanks to the fans coming together. For me, this is another defining moment in our history and it’s been refreshing to see so many coming out on social media to say that they are doing their bit to help our club.  

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Togetherness – my abiding image of the season to date

Those wanting to get the I-follow access for Fulham have until Wednesday lunchtime to push the button. After that, fans will be sent the link for the game aswell as the chance to upload their picture for the fan banner going up at Griffin Park.

It won’t make for the usual experience, obviously. But football fans and business the world over are in the same boat. We have to try and make the best of a crappy situation. Even if it is in our front rooms and social bubbles. Look positive, should things go one way (i.e where Leeds and West Brom don’t choke but our own wins keep coming), we won’t actually be allowed to go and watch the team at Wembley. We all know what plays out when that happens. Imagine it taking nobody being there to finally break the duck. 

Still, all that is a long, long way off. First up, its Fulham on Saturday. They’ve even been testing fake crowd noise. Good to see that some things don’t change.

Nick Bruzon

Won’t anybody think about Gary?

14 Mar

And so we have now had to bow to the inevitable. It was announced yesterday that all games in the EFL, the Premier League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship along with those in Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland, have been postponed in response to the Coronvirus. As expected, Friday evening’s much anticipated game between Fulham and Brentford was the first major casualty of this new directive, albeit Brighton v Arsenal had already gone to P-P as a result of Mikel Arteta’s positive test for the virus.  In theory, the Championship and other league fixtures will resume on April 3rd with the Premier league following the day after. Good luck with that. Good luck deciding if Liverpool will be crowned champions or Leeds United will finally join them with the top flight place they so desperately aspire to.

The BBC have responded to any football related delay as they always do – by replacing Match of the Day with a repeat of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.  Stop and take that in. Keep stopping. Keep thinking. Mrs.. Browns.. Boys..

Whilst ordinarily the preference would be to avoid the use of choice language, I think I speak for all of us when I ask them to f**k the f**k off with Mrs. F**king Brown. Then f**k off some more. To coin a phrase.

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Despair was the feeling

Haven’t we already suffered enough? Won’t anybody think of Gary Lineker? My word, just why do they do this? Society is on the verge of breakdown. There are riots in the toilet paper aisle and Match of the Day has now been canned. The last thing we need now is more of this tedious claptrap. From all the depths of their historic sporting resources, was there not a classic match or some sort of compilation the BBC could have put together instead of subjecting us to everyone’s favourite Irish ‘mammy’. Stereotype and cliche going neck and neck in the desperate search for laughs.

Look at cricket. There’s a sport that has always been subject to sudden and unexpected cancellation. Broadcasters left with hours of airtime to fill at a moment’s notice. What they don’t do is hit the panic button. Instead we have the highlights. The classic game from days gone by The in-studio panel discussions. Some semblance of attempted normality relative to what we should have been shown.  Not Mrs. Brown.  It’s not hard. It’s not tricky. Sort it out, please. For all our sanity.

I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again. What dirt does Brendan O’Carroll have on the Beeb? Why is his cackling creation deemed the ‘go to’ in any scheduling crisis? For crying out loud, if we HAVE to have comedy instead of sport there are thousands of other choices out there. Anything from Blackadder to Absolutely Fabulous (which wasn’t, although still infinitely preferable to Agnes and her cardigan). Cripes, if we’re going for out-dated comedy I’d even take Terry and June over Mrs. Brown.

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Even this would be better

The other obvious casualty of football being cancelled is Talk Sport narcissist, Ian Moose. A broadcaster whose modus-operandi consists of insisting he’d have done better than the on-pitch professionals, taking subsequent selfies with them and gorging on the pre/post match catering is now in serious danger. As much of starving as anything else, given that no football means no half-time buffets laid out for journalists. Think of all those pies that will never be eaten. At least we’ve still got the internet so wishing his good friend happy birthday  – a routine as nauseating as being part of the audience for Mrs Brown’s Boys –  is still possible. For now.

So what happens next? I honestly can’t see any way that games will recommence in three weeks time. We haven’t even got to the official cancelling of mass gatherings that is expected to be announced next week. Italy, who are streets ahead of us at present, aren’t even close to recommencing any form of action. In my opinion, for what its worth, this is the first stage of a broader cancellation. Euro 2020 will inevitably be put back a year. Whether this then leaves capacity to finish domestic campaigns remains to be seem. That’s assuming, of course, that the health situation starts to rectify itself. Boris’s approach of ‘let it all blow over, we’re British’ hardly a reassuring one. 

But I’ll leave that side of things to somebody else. We’re  primarily here to look at the Brentford angle on these pages. If there can be any positives for us I suppose that at least it is the chance for Mathias Jensen, Sergi Canos, Pontus Jansson et al to get back to full fitness. For tired legs in a thin squad to recharge.

Although what that they will be getting back to is THE question. Leagues suspended? Cancelled? Played out in empty stadia? Champions,  promotion and relegation decided by current placing (surely not – that would be the worst of any sporting decision made).  Imagine the uproar if Liverpool were denied their inevitable title? Or if they were handed the crown despite not, technically, having crossed the line.

Think of the irony if Leeds United,  who so often miss out on a place in the top flight by their own falling apart, were actually handed a position on account of the nation collectively choking on their behalf. If nothing else, a lesson learned for Alanis Morissette and her ‘Isn’t it unlucky’, song.  

However this all goes remains to be seen. For now, stay healthy. Take care and look after each other. We’ll keep sticking this nonsense up here as much as possible. It may help kill thirty seconds of tedium as we all move towards virtual house-arrest next week. Possibly.  

And the BBC, if you are reading, if there really are no other sporting highlights then rather than Mrs. Brown how about just sticking on Escape To Victory…

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Pele scores as the Allies escape to victory.

Nick Bruzon