Tag Archives: Bees United

More domination. More defeat. Thoughts after Town sting Bees.

19 Aug

Brentford fans, fire up the ‘copy/paste’. Wonderful attacking play (the first half especially). One way traffic. The proverbial kitchen sink chucked at the opposition. 65% possession and twenty-one attempts at goal compared to Ipswich Town’s four. Yet it was the Tractor Boys who took the points and kept a clean sheet with a 2-0 win that left the Bees bottom of the pile in the Championship after four games.

Ipswich aced the one stat that counts, goals scored. They played us like a fiddle. Martyn Waghorn’s 35th minute opener was so far against the run of play Mick McCarthy must have been almost embarrassed to take it. But we know better than to expect embarrassment from Mick. Who could forget his shameless comments about Luke Hyam’s assault on Alan Judge two seasons ago? And we know just what to expect from his Ipswich teams.

Solid at the back, we just couldn’t break them down in that final third. Cynical in the challenge, with minimal protection offered by referee Oliver Langford. The man in the middle seemed set to ‘press and guess’ mode. Forget Oliver, Bonnie would have done a better job.

But let’s not gripe. With no Jota (dodgy lower back. Apparently) no Josh and no Rico once more it meant further changes were required. Maxime had to continue at left back with Dalsgaard at right. Flo Jo ahead of him with Ollie Watkins pushed out left. Despite all the pressing, nothing came. The Bees couldn’t find a way through despite Nico rattling the bar, Kamo coming close and Jozefzoon somehow conspiring to head straight down the keeper’s throat when unmarked in front of the goal.

We had chances; we couldn’t take them. Ipswich got their game together. Got their defence organised. Brentford couldn’t adapt. Too static. Too many players out of position. Even Lasse Vibe suffering an injury related ‘sub subbed’ that saw a debut for Theo Archibald.

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There was little return in the second half

By this point we were two down. Rather than come flying out of the traps to pick up where we’d left off, Brentford were bogged down. Joe Garner headed home a corner on 51 and that was it. Mr. Langford’s assistant confirming the validity of his effort via the medium of goal line technology and with it, consigning us to another nil points.

Try as we might, nothing came. Ipswich had it on lockdown. A fourth Championship win on the spin that sees them second only to Cardiff City in the fledgling table. Coming out of the stadium, there was nothing but plaudits from the home fans for our play. Acknowledgement that they’d ridden their luck early on.

All nice to hear but it doesn’t gloss over the fact that we haven’t scored and we’ve gone home empty handed with nothing but memories of good pies and what I saw BBC Billy Reeves declare as the “Best football font.” All very frustrating but take nothing away from Town.

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Nice font. Shame about the score

So what next? Even allowing for the absences, Dean has enough talent in his squad to fashion a wonderful team. Kamo, Romaine and Nico all looked a cut above. The first half especially. The second was typified by our inability to get in behind a progressively deeper and deeper Ipswich defence. By the lack of any real runners.

Bur he needs to get the tactics right. To get the selection right. Perhaps just get that run of luck – with injuries and even refereeing.

Am I worried? No. Look, I’m not a (complete) idiot. One point and bottom of the table isn’t anyone’s preferred position. Certainly not mine. But the first half was one of quite breathtaking forward play where we did everything but score. As with Forest, we conceded well into the first half and early into the second. Neither were particularly good goals to look back on and I’m sure Dean will have words. I hope he does.

The questions being, what does he learn and what does he do next? Can he eradicate these sloppy moments?

Equally, how is Jota’s back? Will it be a similar injury to Scott Hogan’s buttocks? Could Sergi return? Will we keep a clean sheet?

Talk to Brentford fans at the moment and the subject on everyone’s mind is, of course, Lionel Road. It would be great if we were discussing three points.

Roll on next weekend and Wolves when we get the chance.

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The first half, at least

Nick Bruzon

Big new ambitions? Or downsizing? What do you make of stadium news?

17 Aug

Thursday morning. We’ve all had time to digest the news out of Griffin Park. Namely that in a week’s time Brentford FC will be presenting plans to Hounslow council for an amendment to our design for Lionel Road  – the key points of which include : a location move (3 metres south),Premier League quality ‘outside broadcast facilities within the stadium itself, the relocation of BFC Community Sports Trust outside the ground and the capacity reduction from 20,000 to 17,250. The target date for all of this is now late 2019 / early 2020.

The statements on the club site and in the programme from Cliff Crown & Mark Devlin have gone on to further elaborate on the reasoning about this in what, I have to be honest (and I’d say this to their face) reads an awful lot like a game of buzzword bingo in places. Especially with regards to the housing element of the project which is so key to making it a success.

That’s marketing speak. We’re always going to get it. What seems to be of as much interest to supporters is what these official statements don’t say about the redesign. The obvious questions that immediately get asked. Moreso when the statement from BIAS and the article on the Beesotted site (who had been given a preview of the plans a week earlier) cut to the heart of so many questions that supporters are asking.

What will it now look like? Why no club shop? Why no central bar areas such as The Hive? What are the Premium seats and why so many? 3000 out of a total capacity of 17250, and that includes away fans. What does that do for us ordinary fans who currently sit on, or around, the halfway line? Can we still afford to in future? Why no monorail?

Lionel Road monorail

Lionel Road. A new look – sans monorail – is coming

They are just a few of the obvious questions and ones which our fan groups quite rightly ask. Read the club statements but please also read these pieces too before you continue. That said, I can’t imagine many supporters are yet to see them.

Or the GPG to which I was also directed yesterday.

Welcome back Trevor; it’s been a while since I darkened your pages. Yet it seems that he has also been granted access to not only the plans but also a chat with Matthew Benham and Cliff Crown where many of these key questions have been both anticipated and which he has attempted to answer. Albeit, and in his words: “I didn’t make any notes of the meeting at the time, so this is a summary of our discussions created a few days later in a old man’s memory”.

I’d suggest you also have a read of this, too. If it as accurate as one would hope (presumably Matthew and Cliff would be at the doors of the GPG with pitchforks, flaming torches and lawyers if they had been misquoted or the article has not been pre-approved) then it presents a lot more clarity around the logic being employed. The reasoning behind certain decisions.

Which brings me to the crux of the matter after all this preamble. We’re talking about a new stadium. Not the end of days. This is a great, great thing.

We all recognise what Matthew Benham has done for the club. The vast investments he has made and the upward trajectory Brentford FC have been on over the last 6 years since he officially took over after our first dealings way back in 2009. Many of us have questioned his ‘mathematical model’ yet, equally, after three years in the Championship the fruits of this are clear for all to see.

He’s a supporter since 1979. He has been ever clear about his vision for sustainable top flight football. Frankly, he’s too far into this to run himself out with a half-baked scheme or an unsustainable one when it comes to stadium design. I can’t imagine any of these are decisions which have been taken lightly but at the end of the day (Clive) these changes would seem to be the compromise that needs to be made in order to deliver the build.

We all love Griffin Park. We all know it’s not fit for long term purpose. Certainly not sustainable Premier League football which is THE ambition for everybody at the club. Back in September 2015  Rasmus Ankersen told supporters at the Fans forum:  “It is not an option to not be in the Premier League. It has to happen in the next three years…. At the moment there is no Plan B. we’ll be in the Premier League in three years.”

That’s only a year away now. Quite frankly, I don’t want to be squatting at Loftus Road. The sooner we are able to take things forward the better.  And on that point, if that was our ambition then why were the much touted Outside Broadcast facilities not part of the original spec? For what it’s worth.

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Griffin Park. Wonderful but not a long term future

Listen. I don’t want this to read as though it has an overly negative tone. Quite the opposite. Football is a hugely emotive thing. It is a part of all our being. Our collective experience. Our lives. Our friends and families have been made here and come here. Supporters are loving the fact that we have a new home on the horizon but, equally, from first impressions it seems that many are worried we’ll lose some of what makes being a Brentford fan unique. That we’ll be priced off our own doorstep.

Trevor’s article suggests we socialise ‘off site’. 3000 premium seats, whilst obviously a revenue winner, are pretty much 20% of the home fans. Will we be able to still be amongst ‘the heart’ of it?

Perhaps we’re lucky that at Griffin Park to sit in that location isn’t vastly prohibitive in terms of cost relative to other areas. Some element of clarity about that aspect – and Mark did note on Saturday that “We have already started planning the sales proves for Season Tickets and Premium seat packages”  – would be wonderful.

I want to keep coming and I will keep coming. I can’t wait to see what our new home looks and feels like. To experience top flight football there.

Let’s be realistic. Whatever our thoughts, nothing is going to change. Not physically. Redesigns are being submitted next week. This is it. Plans will be locked down. You can’t build a stadium based on a vote by committee of thousands. Equally, if it came down to another source would we even be in existence still? Let alone with such a prospect on the horizon?

But by the same virtue, why are we so poor at communications? (football is a village etc) . Why did it take Tom Moore to break the news a week ago? Then nothing be said once that story came out? When you take the forward thinking step of sharing the plans with our supporter groups, the obvious consequence is that they will have the time to digest them and review. To prepare questions. As I’m thankful the club have done and our groups have then reacted.

So why have the club not looked to anticipate some of these? It is clear they have come up in the discussions the club held with the fan groups. Whether as part of Cliff / Mark’s articles or as an additional statement alongside them. Why has it taken Trevor and the GPG (which not all supporters read) to provide undocumented answers?

To say again. This is a great thing that is happening. It seems trite to even consider having the hump over over a new stadium and a plan that is going to get us there. And personally, whilst I can’t get my head around some of the aspects, I don’t. We need a new home.

I don’t expect sales figures. I don’t expect minutiae to be shared in advance. That’s not how you do business. I’m not here to sell the plans to you or tear them down.

But once the news had broken, it would just have been good if we could have had a few more facts about the things that are really going to impact us. Even a picture would have been nice!

A fans forum is planned for next month. Will anything be said in advance? It would be in everyone’s interest if a bit more meat could be put on the bones of these plans. Publish an official statement rather than an article on the GPG.

It’s not every day you move home. It’s not that much to ask. Surely?

Nick Bruzon

Bees get off the mark with plenty of positives on show.

16 Aug

Well, that was some day. We had contrasting announcements made about Lionel Road whilst on pitch Brentford hosted Bristol City and ended the game having taken a point but feeling, quite honestly, as though we’d lost. This after Bobby Reid delivered the ultimate kick to the knackers with his 98th minute equaliser. Yet it all seemed inconsequential given the desperately sad news announced by Ryan Woods just before kick off.

First up, Bristol City . What can you say? Well, Dean Smith has come out fighting with the observation that, “If we play like that, week in week out, then we will be a top six team“. Adding , “It was the most one-sided game in the Championship I have been involved in. How we didn’t get three points is beyond me .”

All true Dean. All true. You can read his full piece on Brentford ‘official’ but there was an almost inevitable familiarity about the way this one ended. Inability to clear the ball led to Brentford conceding an early goal courtesy of right winger Josh Brownhill but from that moment on it was the proverbial one way traffic.

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Josh Brownhill’s opener is celebrated on twitter

Brentford were quite delicious going forward. Jota and Romaine amongst those really testing Frank Fielding (whose name conjured up images of some Victorian musical performer) in the City goal. Both the keeper and the framework denying the marauding Bees who ended the half a goal down but with 69% possession and 13 attempts to City’s 1. Surely our luck would change as the game wore on?

Sure enough, it did.

With the quite wonderful Romaine Sawyers and Ollie Watkins pulling the strings – both of whom were among five changes for a Dean Smith team that also saw the return of Harlee Dean (although Nico retained the armband) – it took just ten minutes into the second period before parity was restored.

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Harlee was back in the starting XI

Jota, whose game plan seemed to consist of either shoot on sight, cut inside or ping it to the back stick opting for the last of these tricks as the modern day Paul Daniels dropped a ball onto the head of Ollie Watkins to power home. Griffin Park erupted. Better delivery than Postman Pat. Better execution than John Wilkes Booth. They were my words on Twitter at the time and I stand by them.

But the Bees pushed on. Chance followed chance before Neal Maupay, barely on the pitch for five minutes after replacing Lasse Vibe, fired home from the edge of the box. Back of the net. Pick that out. 2-1 Brentford. Perhaps, finally, our possession, domination and chances would be rewarded.

Alas, no. A lengthy injury to Josh McEachran (ankle) saw a butt clenching 8 minutes of added time shown on the board. Even Fielding joined the attack as the Bees held on. And on. Until virtually the last kick of the game when Bobby Reid did that thing. Urghh.

A combination of ricochets and inability to hoof clear a ball bouncing around the box after a fine save from Daniel Bentley saw silence decend on Griffin Park. Except from the away fans who were understandably ecstatic. What fighting spirit from the visitors.

It was oh so reminiscent of the 3-3 with Brighton last season where we were left feeling as thought we’d snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. As ever, the goals are up on the internet c/o Sky .

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Brentford had most of the control but ended with a share of the points

87 minutes on the back foot and one spawny goal. Their ‘keeper had nothing to do all second half.” Not my words but those of one Bristol City fan in The Griffin at full time. Even this morning I feel as though I’ve taken a massive punch to the gut, such is the feeling of numbness about the result although that could just be the five slices of cold pizza that Mrs B left for me to hoover up upon the return home.

Yet whilst I expected Dean to come out with the lines he did – he’s head coach – hearing this view from the other side gives some comfort today. Somebody is going to get a proper spanking soon. The preferred starting XI is beginning to take shape with Sawyers and Watkins surely nailed on. We’ve Sergi to come back and, likewise, Ryan whenever he is ready. This is still very much a squad and a force to be reckoned with.

Next up, a trip to Ipswich Town. They’re one of three teams with a 100% record – along with Cardiff City and a Wolves side who come to Griffin Park on Saturday week .

The Championship doesn’t get any easier. But it certainly keeps us on our toes.

Off field, there was the stadium news. Two very differing announcements were made by the club and BIAS in regards to the proposed changes in plans for Lionel Road (including capacity reduction from 20,000 to 17,500) and the details around this. Our fans’ group very much delving into the logistics which made for some confused reading. Surely they’ve got this wrong? And if not, why would the club only share part of the announcement ?

At the end of the day (Clive) I’m just the numpty on the terrace. The likes of Beesotted and BIAS do a great job supporting the fans and promoting the club. It’s great they’ve been involved in getting the news out although presumably there’s more to come clarifying the detail?

Putting this nonsense together the morning after the night before is fun, but its not a job. I’m not a journo. I’m not Billy Grant who never seems to sleep, such is his prodigious output. Something as emotive and important as this needs to be digested. Properly. More to follow on this one tomorrow.

As for Ryan Woods, there are no words. All we can do is respect his privacy and know that the entire Brentford family is thinking of him. Know that there is copious amounts of love heading the way of him and his family.

Thanks for reading.

Nick Bruzon

A ball of confusion in the cup. Matt Dyson talks Warbs, radio and football ahead of Brentford v Nottingham Forest

11 Aug

Another League cup draw; another ball of confusion. If the first round draw was a farce (Charlton being drawn both home and away) things were no better second time around. Brentford will meet QPR in the second round of the League Cup. Seemingly the game to be played at Griffin Park on first call but the somewhat odd use of a third pot to determine ‘home’ or ‘away’ left fans and officials what we will politely call ‘baffled’. All this before we get to the main event of the next few days – the visit of Nottingham Forest in the league.

Who’d have thought that using three pots to determine a two team cup tie would end in anything but a cock up? And sure enough, it did. Despite the Bees being called as ‘home’ by former player John Salako, question marks were immediately raised over the colour of his venue ball. Even official, once more displaying this season’s new found sense of humour, hit the nail firmly on the head.

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They weren’t alone in wondering just what was going on. Supporter comment on twitter quickly cut to the nub of the matter

Lou Boyd: Hounslow v Hammersmith in a World Cup qualifier I heard

Lee : And Dianne Abbott has concluded that the game will be played on the 43rd September

Oh Fuffuxake!: Why don’t we just play at Craven Cottage?

Even a QPR fan, James Skinner, getting in on the action: How about doing the first half at Brentford, then everyone gets a bus to Loftus Road for the second?

Emma Briden: Please don’t get changed to away cause going to that shit hole once a season is enough..

Alas Emma, it eventually transpired that Brentford are due an additional visit to Loftus Road. Instead of home comforts we have cramped seating, no beer and apathetic support from our hosts. On the plus side, the choice of opponents means that passage to round three remains very much on the cards. How good would it be to see an early season rematch between Jota and Jake Bidwell?

At least it wasn’t just us who suffered. Charlton, Bristol City and Ipswich have also had home ties rebranded as road trips.

Red, H = home. White, A = away. Simple? Surely? Apparently not. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – just give me Jim Rosenthal, a lectern, some fascinating facts and 64 balls. Problem solved.

John Salako cup draw

Confused faces at the draw. Home? Away? Help? Anyone?

Still, all that’s to come. Next up for the Bees are Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon. With Mark Warburton in charge.

We all know how that story ended previously and, whilst the full facts behind his departure seem limited to that explanation about the changed structure and approach differing from his football philosophy, there are more than enough other theories and suppositions doing the rounds. Warbs remains a hero to many; not so much others. That’s football and we’ll probably never know the whole truth on this one.

Yet whatever the catalyst, we’ve all moved on. Mark is now manager at a Nottingham Forest side who almost went down last season but this campaign have won their opening games. Millwall in the league and Shrewsbury Town in the Cup. You can’t ask for more than that and Matthew Benham will no doubt be more than keen to get one over his former charge. But can we do it?

stickers-matt-videoWell, to find out we’ve caught up with one Forest fan whose voice may be familiar to anybody up and about between 6-10am.  Absolute Radio DJ Matt Dyson. The co-host of Saturday afternoon show Rock ‘n’ Roll football, he also mans the sportsdesk on the award winning Christian O’Connell breakfast show and even has a weekly podcast, Gameweek, talking (and singing) all things Fantasy Football.

We can only start with Mark Warburton. A legend to many at Griffin Park and now carving out a new reputation at the City Ground. What’s your take on how he has settled in? And the opinion of the broader fan base? Well he kept us up! So that was good.  He comes to us with a good reputation and seems like the right man for the job.  He’s got his backroom team around him and I hope our new Greek owners will give him the backing he needs.  We should certainly improve this season, after years of back to back decline under the Kuwaiti fridge magnate who used to run our club.

Warburton has made a few good signings from Scotland – a place he knows well from his time at Rangers.  I’m glad he’s not spending loads on big name players on huge salaries whose careers are on the way down.  He seems to be going for young hungry players and I think that is the key to getting out of the Championship.  Not big names who don’t give 100 per cent (e.g. Nicklas Bentdner).

Look at a club like Manchester United, where the spectre of Fergie still looms over anyone to follow in his footsteps. He’s up there in the stand looking down; a stand with his own name on it. Yet at Forest you have one of the greatest names the game has ever seen to contend with. Can Warbs escape from the shadow of Brian Clough? Well Fergie was literally in the stands at Old Trafford watching Moyes like a red faced angry hawk every game, God has left the building.  Brian’s name is quite rightly adorning what used to be called the Executive Stand (despite very few execs ever going to watch the Tricky Trees) and I don’t think his amazing legacy should affect our current manager.

What he achieved is something that all clubs should try and emulate.  Leicester came close, but didn’t get those back to back European Cups.  No cigar, I’m afraid guys.  Clough is quite rightly celebrated to this day by all Forest fans, for being the best thing to’ve ever happened to football in this country. So, no, I don’t think it will effect Warbs.

Bees 1-0 v Watford Warburton

Warbs – in there somewhere. Will he be as popular at the City Ground as Griffin Park?

Will he bring success back to The City Ground? We’ve had pre-season optimism many times in recent years. We get through managers quicker than most people get through bottles of shampoo.  I’d just be happy with a season of consolidation and then a play-off push next year.  He’s the best man available to us right now and I hope he’s given the rime and backing to achieve big things.  But the crucial thing he needs is TIME.  Some old trigger-happy owners never seemed to realise that.

Having survived last time around, you’ve already sold Britt Assombalonga to Middlesbrough for £14m. Good business (he missed a sitter at Griffin Park last season) with the chance to re-invest ? Or will this make things even harder for you?  He is a very natural goal scorer the like of which we’ve not seen at the City Ground for many years. But he had a really bad knee injury and was still recovering last season.  We signed him for £5 million from Peterborough a few years back, so I think it’s good business and a good profit.  I was hoping he’d go to a Premier League side though, as he will no doubt score against us this season.

Where do you see Nottingham Forest finishing this season? I’ve called 5th for Brentford so optimism is allowed.  I’d genuinely be happy with mid-table. After all the years of hurt, we just need to consolidate.

As a fan, what are your long term aspirations for the football club?Premier League, obvs.  But I’m not holding my breath.

Working in radio, specifically Rock n Roll football on a Saturday afternoon, how often can you get to see the team play? In short, not very often.  I’m really gutted to me missing the Brentford game because I’ve had a few great times stood behind the goal in the huge open terrace at Griffin Park.  Lovely old ground and the whole pub in each corner thing is also nice. We never seem to do very well here though, So it’s probably for the best that I’m not at this one.

You star on the breakfast show alongside fellow football fans in Christian (Southampton) and Richie Firth (Arsenal). Like Forest, Southampton have been up and down over the years but there seems to be a sense of entitlement from the Arsenal ‘faithful’ like no other club I’ve seen. Do you have any sympathy for the likes of Richie and those jumping on the ‘Wenger out’ bandwagon?  No. No sympathy whatsoever for the spoiled brats that go along to that ground and  are more interested in talking to their girlfriends on FaceTime than watching the match.  They’ve never known really bad times so aren’t in a position to fully appreciate the good times and they throw their toys out of the pram whenever they drop out of the top 4.  They don’t know they’re born!

Also, I’ve got quite a few mates who are glory hunting Gunners I’d much rather talk football with supporters of REAL football teams with proud histories like Forest and Brentford (…apart from the ‘proud history’ bit).

Christian once debunked the urban legend that Cameron Diaz was a Brentford supporter when interviewing the ‘Something about Mary’ star for the breakfast show. But what’s the scoop with Jason Statham? Whilst the likes of Stuart Broad, James Dean Bradfield and even Su Pollard are confirmed Forest fans, is this another story that’s too good to be true?  Sounds like bollocks to me

Why should people listen to Rock n Roll football on a Saturday? It’s a bit of an alternative to the serious, formal and frankly boring sports coverage that’s saturated the media in this country.  We give you top music and all the goals as they go in with one of the best young comedians in the UK at the moment, Rob Beckett, on the wheels of steel.  We also regularly intersperse the football with clips of Elaine Page laughing, Ronaldo selling blankets and Nigel Spink talking about his love of Ribena.

You can read more from Matt in this week’s ‘official’ matchday programme. The Gameweeek podcast can be found at the i-tunes store   – its free and well worth a listen for anyone with an interest in football – fantasy or otherwise.

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The Gameweek podcast – out now

Nick Bruzon

 

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

8 Aug

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

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

Gary Alexander does his thing against Everton. 1-1

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

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

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

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

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

Marinus Oxford touchline

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Nothing puts Peter Gilham off his stride

Nick Bruzon

Football is back as Blades set the standard and Bees miss out.

6 Aug

Another season begins, another round of opening day disappointment for Brentford. The Bees left Sheffield United on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat which could have been more – the second of the hosts two disallowed goals subsequently being deemed very unlucky to be chalked off. Yet on a day dominated by home teams where only three away goals were scored in the Championship, including one for Hull City in their 1-1 at Aston Villa (as predicted yesterday – I’m still in shock), Bees fans should remain upbeat.

As ever, Sky have the highlights online already whilst the BBC, official, Beesotted and the likes are your place for match reports. This one moreso, where the long arm of the wife and her plans meant it would have been easier to escape from Alcatraz than TW8 yesterday. Yet despite an enforced absence from Bramall Lane, I was full of optimism.

Even the London Evening Standard had failed to put me off my stride on Friday’s journey back from work. Their typically supportive piece on the Bees highlighting our opening day win record. Or, rather, our opening day lack of win record.

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And now make that six. Yet it so easily could have been at least a point.

Most people will point to the double opportunity presented to Nico Yennaris and Lasse Vibe in the second half. Understandably so. It was the proverbial gilt edged chance. With Jota’s shot from outside the box only parried by Blackman in the Sheffield United goal, and the aforementioned players in acres of space just yards out, the ball was headed first against the crossbar and then over.

I’ve rewatched it a few times. You can look to the looping trajectory and height of the ball as it approaches our players. Blackman did well to put them off their stride, too. Yet being honest, one would still have expected to see the net ripple. Only the good people at TheIntakeGroup, Pinders, H.E. Barnes and Sky Bet taking any pleasure from seeing this one again….

Lasse and Nico at Sheff U

If ever an image summed up an afternoon. Sky have it in full

That’s football. Let’s not forget the staggering miss from Lucas João at Griffin Park last August when that other Sheffield side, Wednesday, were the visitors. Just yards out and unmarked in front of the goal, the back of the net was at his mercy as a Fernando Forestieri pass found its way past Daniel Bentley. João was even afforded the luxury of having a couple of stabs at the before somehow conspiring to hoof it clear of the bar.

I could also refer you to Daryl Murphy at Ipswich Town a few seasons ago. One that still sticks in the mind as the Bees were, once more, the beneficiaries of an impossible to miss opportunity being somehow missed with goal gaping and an unmarked player just needing to tap it it in.

It happens. A lot. Obviously we’d have preferred a goal but I’m not going to get hung about it. Besides, overall performance comes across as a largely positive one with the Bees dominating possession and shots at 59%/41% and 12/9 respectively.

Probably not what our performance deserved” said head coach Dean Smith after the game and while he may well be right, as we’ve said many times on these pages that its balls in the back of the net being the only stat that really counts. Sadly for us, Sheffield United aced that column by 1 to 0.

Still, at least our head coach acknowledged this too, noting: “Unfortunately, it’s about putting the ball in the back of the net and we didn’t take our chances today. Billy Sharp’s had one and has ended up winning the game.” And you can read read/see his interview in full on official.

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Dean does his thing at full time

Fair play to the Blades for doing so, too. The warning about their form and their packed house was there for all to see in advance. Safe to say they didn’t let the occasion get the better of them and, subject to the result of the Bolton – Leeds game, are one of eight sides on three points after this opening round of games.

I’d have loved three points. You can bet Sheffield United will be chuffed to bits with their win. And rightly so. On the plus side, we’ve now got a brace of home games in quick succession. Mark Warburton brings his Nottingham Forest team to Griffin Park on Saturday before we host Bristol City three days later. And there’s the small matter of the League cup first round at Wimbledon on Tuesday night.

After months of inactivity, the games are suddenly approaching us thick and fast. And I love it .

Nick Bruzon

Bring on the Blades. Time to chop down the Forest

5 Aug

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

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

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Forest top the lot. Temporarily, I’m sure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jota impressed in the rain against Celta Vigo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice one, Mo !

Nick Bruzon

Who will win the Championship? Who will go down? What about the Bees? Who has the best new kit?

3 Aug

Almost there, Brentford fans. It’s Thursday morning. The Championship kicks off tomorrow evening before The Bees travel to Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon. But with three top ten finishes under our belts, is it now the time to look at stepping up? Or should we remain content just to swim in the same waters as Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves and all those other famous names? To stay safe. To look at holding station until such time as Lionel Road is ready for us to move in to?

Yesterday’s column on Jota and not ‘Jota’ ended with several questions of this nature. The predominant one being, what are your hopes for the forthcoming season? Well for what it’s worth, here’s my take on how the Championship is going to pan out.

Starting with Brentford, the summer has been an exciting one. On the transfer front it has been one way traffic inward with, to date, nobody leaving bar The Hoff. Even KK and Jack Bonham have only gone out on loan. There has been no Jota to West Ham. No Ryan Woods to Sunderland. No Harlee Dean to Sheffield Wednesday. No Rico Henry to Hull City. No Romanine Sawyers to Southend United (and apologies – but that one really did appear) . So far…

Instead we have bought what would seem to be incredibly astutely. The EFL young player of the year in Ollie Watkins and South African international Kamo Mokotjo are the two names immediately grabbing our attention. The former because of the potential and our beating off a host of other clubs to his signature. These include a Nottingham Forest side who let Britt Assombalonga go to Middlesbrough and are now relying on veteran striker Daryl Murphy. Prolific in his day although never forget ‘that’ miss.

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And Murphy must score. Erm….

Kamo is getting Bees fans excited simply due to the fact of how skillful and how comfortable he already looks. Translating pre-season into real life form will be another thing, but the early signs are wonderfully positive. We seem to have genuine competition in pretty much every position. Just the amount of different stories that have appeared about our players over the summer show how strong our squad has become.

Of course, let’s not rest on our laurels here. The season may begin this weekend but that godforsaken transfer window still remains open until August 31. As we’ve seen in the past, players can come and go well after the campaign has begun. Andre Gray being a most recent example where, despite his two goals in two games at the beginning of the Marinus era, the inevitable sale to Burnley went through straight after.

Yet, at the same time, the current signs are positive. Fingers crossed it can stay that way. If Matthew Benham can juggle the finances to keep this squad together then we have the potential to be amongst the best in the league.

Little Brentford punching above their weight”. Not my words but those of just about every pundit outside of TW8 in recent times.

B*llocks” . They’re my words.

The last three years we’ve done what we have on merit. Reaching the play-offs for the Premier League in our first Championship season may have caught a few people unawares but it was fully deserved on our play. Coming out the other side of the Marinus experiment to end ninth, equally justified – despite that post Christmas wobble.

But for a ropey patch in the autumn last time around we could well have pushed on then. The football in the second half of the season, freed from the understandable obligation to play everything through Scott Hogan and reinvigorated by the returning Spanish duo of Jota and Sergi, was simply breathtaking.

We destroyed Aston Villa at Griffin Park. Absolutely destroyed them. You could say the same for the home games with Derby County. With Leeds United. With QPR, for whom Jake Bidwell probably has ongoing nightmares. Police still involved in that one (not literally), after reports of Jota picking his pocket more than once.

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‘Official’ love him, too

I don’t buy any of this small club nonsense. I fully know our history and have been coming to Griffin Park since 1979. Absolutely, it is a privilege to play at the level given some of the low points we’ve been through. But that doesn’t mean we should be showing any defference, any OTT respect, any form of “we’re just happy to be here’ humility. Just as nobody has a divine right to ‘be any good’ (see: Arsenal), equally just because you have humble origins you shouldn’t go into it expecting bad things to happen. Have some confidence in our ability. Our perceived size is an advantage. It is an advantage we should play up to.

We’ve taken so many teams and pundits by surprise already. I’m convinced it will happen again. My call for the Bees was initially 6th at the start of the summer. In recent weeks I’ve revised that to fifth. I’m sticking to that and nailing my colours to the mast here. Brentford to finish fifth.

Optimistic? Stupid? Naive? Whichever – I’m here to have fun this season and am only looking upwards.

Casting the net further afield, it is not a view shared by other sources. Middlesbrough and Aston Villa remain favourites to win the league. The former, I can fully understand. They’ve only ever been a force at this level (move along, nothing to see here….) whilst boosted by both the goals of Assombalonga and the parachute payments from the Premier League will be exceptionally strong . I’m agreeing with the experts on this one.

Villa though? No. No. No. I can’t see them finishing in the top six. The were horrific last season. Only good for betting on 1-1 scorelines, <2.5 goals and away L. The hype around John Terry surely more distraction than yardstick of genuine aspiration. I find it inconceivable that Steve Bruce will have turned things around this much over the summer. Stranger things have happened, of course, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Instead, Sheffield Wednesday are the team that will finally come good and take the second spot. Celebrating their 150th year with some cracking new kits, to boot (in my opinion, and not including our own, the best shirts in the Championship ) they’ll go up after knocking on the door for so long. Joining Brentford in the play-offs will be Norwich City, Fulham and Leeds United. Pick your order for these three. Much as I’m loathe to admit it, the Cottagers played some wonderful football last season. Their stadium may well be a hotbed of neutrality but, on the field, they showed they can more than do their stuff these days.

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Sheffield Wednesday to play as good as they’ll look?

Bottom three. Millwall, Ipswich Town and QPR for me. The former just too out of their depth whilst the Tractor Boys and not so super hoops have only gone backwards. With no real inward investment and a team that has only stagnated, those days of top flight football are a long, long way away.

Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. What do I know? Not much. I’ll happily hold up my hands when this all gets proven wrong, One man’s opinion is another’s comedy.

Club sponsor LeoVegas has us ranked joint 11th to win the league at 25/1. Do they know something we don’t?

Likewise FourFourTwo magazine have just published their season preview. Available now from all good newsagents, they call Brentford to finish 10th. Don’t let that or the fact that yours truly wrote the piece on The Bees (Klanggggggg; the sound of a name being dropped) put you off, though. It’s actually a great read.

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Season preview edition now available

The other follow up we need to do from yesterday is in regards to Jota. Or, specifically ‘Jota’. Of Wolves. You may recall that the EFL have told Wolves that he needs to have his real surname, Silva, on his shirt rather than what they deem to be his nickname.

All well and good, although my own subsequent thought was what this might mean for us? Should we even be able to hang on to him, of course. An awkward look in the other direction being the immediate reaction.

However,Twitter user Ben (@BenPlumb97) has put the question out there in cyberspace. Thankfully, the legend that is Kitman Bob has stepped up to answer.

And relax 🙂

Bob Tweet re Jota

Nick Bruzon

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

2 Aug

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

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

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

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Jota signs – kind of

And relax.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

Mamma Mia, here we go again. Brentford score big but who are this season’s dark horses?

1 Aug

With the Championship season almost upon us, it would be fair to say that anticipation is rising. Nowhere moreso than at Griffin Park where last night young Brentford fans were given the chance to meet their heroes at the now traditional summer ‘open day’. Sky Sports have launched their own season preview (remember the one Ian Holloway did last time out?) where along with the standard installation of Middlesbrough and Aston Villas as favourites, there’s no surprise for Bees fans. And the EFL have announced a shake up to penalty shoot outs that will have local journalists and bad bloggers in pun heaven.

First up, last night at Griffin Park. What can you say? It never ceases to amaze me just how incredible our players are. I’ve said this before but it needs to be said again. What for them could have been a tedious contractual obligation became a wonderful hour and a half (if not longer) for all those young fans lining up to get a peak behind the scenes and a photo with the stars. Not to mention an autograph or two.

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They were all, without question, wonderful. We got along quite late in the day yet the enthusiasm of the squad was infectious. Whatever Dean Smith and his staff are doing for squad morale is just incredible. What a brilliant group of players who went out of their way to welcome young supporters who might have been bit nervous / awestruck. (and that was just dad, although perhaps not so much of the young).

The entire squad was pretty much all there. Even new dad Maxime Colin, who one could have understandably expected to be on paternity leave. I don’t want to overly single anybody out although big thanks to Harlee, Lewis and Jota for their help with the picture. Hitting peak tiredness, somebody went very shy before composing himself after some enthusiastic words from his heroes.

Would you get this at another Championship team? Would the players be so welcoming? Would the club be so relaxed and open ? Would the club make such a great effort for their fans?  There was nothing corporate about this, it was just beautifully arranged. It was just Brentford. THANK YOU.

HB, Harlee, Lewis, Jota

Sky Sports. We all know what happened this time last season. Pundit Ian Holloway wrote his pre-season review in which he tipped the Bees for a poor season and relegation to League One. The rest is history.

Fast forward twelve months and whilst not the QPR boss with pen in hand, the TV company have published this year’s version. Divided into four categories of : Title contenders, Play-off hopefuls, Dark horses and Potential strugglers it looks at the so-called runners and riders in each category. So where do Brentford fit in?

The answer is a simple one. Nowhere. Not surprisingly they have Middlesbrough as favourites (I’d agree) along with Aston Villa – whom everybody is backing. I’m sorry, but I genuinely don’t get it. They were awful last season. Is a geriatric defender going transform them? Bring on Jota to run at him – Jake Bidwell, round 2.

But that aside, where are The Bees? Quite simply we don’t even warrant a passing mention.

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Whilst I’m tipping us for fifth, I can sympathise with their reticence to perhaps label us play-off contenders. But for a team that have had three top ten finishes over our Championship life (including that play-off with Middlesbrough) and have bought exceptionally over the summer to not even be deemed a ‘dark horse’ is odd.

Then again, if you do want to see Brentford as a dark horse Rod Liddle in The Times has us marked up. Or should that be down? He has us as relegation candidates and scoops this year’s Ian Holloway award.

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Look – I love all this. Three full seasons in and still nobody fancies us. Nobody gives us a hope. We are the stealth bombers of the Championship. Flying very much undetected, under the radar and all the way to the top. Keep on ignoring us – even the TV channels don’t give us a look in over August and September – and that’s just fine by me. If we can say the same to the end of the transfer window then all the better.

Finally, penalty kicks. You may have seen this yesterday but the EFL have announced they are switching the traditional shoot out to the ABBA system for the Carabao Cup, Checkatrade Trophy (should anybody be watching) and play-offs. Effectively, the shoot out will be contested like a tennis tie-break where after the first team starts, teams then get two consecutive kicks each and then continues as such until we have a winner.

The blurb on the EFL site tells us that “The trial of the new system is being backed by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in response to a hypothesis that the player taking the second kick is under greater mental pressure in the current format. Therefore, a different order of kickers will be trialled in an experiment to reduce any apparent advantage the team taking the first kick may have”.

Regular or ABBA. It’s still nerve wracking and exciting in equal measure. Although with the League cup starting next week, this doesn’t give huge amounts of time to prepare. Personally, I’m more interested in the pun potential off the back of this. Which manager will be sending out an SOS? Who will meet his Waterloo? At the end of the day (Clive), the winner takes it all.

Whatever your thoughts on the new system, I can see those headlines being crowbarred in already. Answers on a postcard to the Middlesex Chronicle, marked ‘pun’.

Then again, the only way this could have been bettered is rather than ABBA, the EFL had gone for Diana Ross on the penalty front…..

Nick Bruzon