Tag Archives: Bees

Are we really looking to press the button? Or choose a pen?

24 Jan

And let’s all relax. Winter break is upon us. We’ve no football for a fortnight. A time for Brentford to take stock, complete any transfer business before the window shuts (come on already Christian Eriksen) and then we’re back to it. The FA Cup tie with Everton followed by the trip to Manchester City in the league, a visit from Crystal Palace and then off to the Highbury library for Arsenal. Nobody said it was easy, that’s for sure. Yet off the back of several defeats (a sequence that includes losses to Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and a very strong Wolves team in the last thirty days) I’ve started to see mutterings of panic on these pages – in the comments – and also social media. Quelle surprise…. Here’s the question though. Is it time to press the big, red panic button?

Fingers at the ready

Cripes, one commentator even posted he would expect us to beat ‘teams like’ Brighton and Southampton. Teams like. Teams.. Like….…. Insert Picard emoji. The simple fact of the matter is that there are no easy games at this level. The standard of goalkeeping we have come up against is like nothing we’ve seen before. Mendy and De Gea in particular but they are not alone in the elite ‘keepers club. Whereas in the Championship we got a dozen chances per game and generally scored two or three of these, we’ve stepped up the ladder and how.

There have been some wonderful performances and we’re fourteenth everyone. Fourteenth. Out of twenty. Look at the precarious state Burnley are in if you want panic. The slide that Everton are on. Managerial sackings and more shots on target against Aston Villa from the crowd than the first team. Kids, don’t throw things.

There have also been some shockers. Burnley, Southampton and Brighton away in particular. You can’t be ‘any good’ every game and it’s true that when we’ve been off the pace we’ve been awful. There’s the 100% attention that is needed every game and at times we’ve been off it. Yet still with a team that is, mostly, made up of Championship players. Kris Ajer being the only new signing to regularly feature in the starting XI. A team that is missing one of the best goalkeepers in the division and whom we have really struggled to replace. The importance of David Raya cannot be underestimated. The confidence he exudes. The shot stopping ability. The distribution.

David Raya has been missed

Failing to replace / cover at full back has been the other, obvious, key difference. We love Sergi Canos but so much better to play him higher up. We can’t when Rico is out. The goals scored by Wolves all emanating down that side of the pitch. Mads Roerslev has impressed but his is only a recent emergence. Oh to have persuaded Henrik to stick around for one more campaign.

We’ve been decimated by covid and injury. We’re also missing Josh Dasilva. If he returns next month and Christian Eriksen joins us too, suddenly the central midfield options look magnificent. We’ve two and a half weeks until the next Premier league fixture. Plenty of time to regroup and recharge. Transfer business, if any, will be minimal.

Ultimately, we’ve had a wobbly run. No question. We’ve looked patchy at times. No question. We’re still playing a more all-round team set up rather than channelling everything through Ivan Toney. The yards he is covering from box to box are immense. Equally the performances of Bryan, Rico and Christian Norgaard have been magnificent. They’ve made the step up look oh so simple. David Raya, too, until that injury against Leicester City.

We’re not far off getting back to our best. The difference is marginal but that small gap does feel like a gulping chasm at times. Looking back to February 2021, I remember the meltdown after we’d lost against Coventry City up at St. Andrews. It was as poor a performance as we’d seen all season. We’d played three games more than Swansea City who were tucked right up behind us in third place. The wailing and gnashing of teeth, especially form a certain clique, was up there with the most ridiculous things we’d ever seen. Cripes, imagine if Twitter had been around in the Rosenior / Butcher eras.  The Swans responded just a few hours later by getting thumped by Huddersfield and going on an equally poor run themselves. Parity restored and the reminder delivered that a season is determined by results over 46 (now 38) games. Not from a snapshot in time when spirits are, understandably, low.

That’s the same now. We aren’t at Coventry levels but the mutterings are definitely creeping in. Genuinely, I’m so unphased and laid back as to be almost horizontal. I’m loving Premier League life and want this to continue as long as is possible. The return of Raya and Dasilva will be huge. Christian Eriksen putting pen to paper next level craziness. Perhaps some cover at full-back would calm a few frayed nerves. It might also give us the option to revert to a more traditional back four and strengthen higher up the pitch. Beyond this, I’d be amazed if there’s any further activity before that window ‘slams shut’ ™.

Wolves were so strong on Saturday. They’re also eighth for a reason. Please do take a look at the player review, which you can find here / below. If nothing else, it tries to take a more considered view over the course of the campaign as to where those strengths lie.

Until then, time for some calm. Time to reflect on just what we’ve already achieved this campaign. Time to look forward to those games at Arsenal and Manchester City. Tickets for the former going on sale today.

Enjoy. See you there. Until then. Perhaps a few days off. At least, until Christian Eriksen signs. Whichever pen he uses….. 😉

photoshop skills don’t match imagination

Nick Bruzon

Left or right? Who were the top performers?

23 Jan

Brentford 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2. For some fans, doom and gloom about a recent run that has seen us lose to Manchester United, Liverpool, Southampton (move along, absolutely nothing to see here) and now eighth placed Wolves. Chuck in Manchester City just prior along with a whole host of injuries and its no surprise that the points total has been slimmer than the Peter Bankes guide to competent refereeing. As ever though, we need context. As ever after a Brentford game, we have choice….

Or should that be, choices? Two infact. Will you go left for ‘the other stuff’ from the Wolves game? The Drone. The parachute. The ‘referee’. A man who Jim Levack would this afternoon put on a pedestal alongside Ray Biggar… Ah, who could forget Notts County? ‘That’ game.

Or will you turn right for the deeper dive into how the team fared (along with a bit more of the off-field nonsense)? The regular post-match search for our top five performers. The search for our season long star man. The quest to see who should keep their place for Everton and Manchester City? The genuine consideration as to whether Peter Gilham should have been included.

Well, the choice is yours….. (but go right, below).

Nick Bruzon

Eriksen update tops surreal afternoon of drone, parachute and a Bankes robber.

23 Jan

Where to even start after the most ludicrous, incident filled, crazy game of football we’ve ever witnessed? Waking up on Sunday morning and the brain is still fizzing off the back of a 2-1 victory for Wolverhampton Wanderers over Brentford at Lionel Road in which what happened between the two teams was probably the least of the talking points. With the Christian Eriksen story also feeling like a done deal now (perfect timing with Manchester City away, our next Premier League fixture) , the goals and game almost feel like an after thought.

Is Christian about become a Bee?

So let’s start there. The actual game bit. Well done Wolves. Defensively organised and solid. Taking advantage of a cautious Brentford side in the second half to go for the jugular and score three goals with the Bees defence standing off. Static. Shots from the edge of the box all flying past Jonas Lossl. That the final one was removed by VAR for offside doesn’t disguise the fact that we were left exposed time and again. Ivan Toney brought things level midway through the second half with a wonderful strike for 1-1 but just when it looked like we’d haul ourselves back in to it, the Bees shot themselves in the foot. Whilst the ‘player review’ is now online here, for this page let’s focus on the other stuff. And my word, that other stuff didn’t stop.

First up, the referee. Peter Bankes. Robin Bankes more like. A game of football stolen from the fans. He was horrific. Awful. For both teams. Wolves and Brentford united in their chants of ‘Can we have a referee’. Did I imagine it? Well, no although if you’d been reliant purely on Match of the day, yes. The only concession to anything vaguely contentious being the comment that, “The afternoon gets more and more bizarre.” Not my words Carol. The words of BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce.

This, after Toti Gomes had scythed through Kris Ajer and been shown straight red for dangerous play. That the decision was, in hindsight, correct to be reversed added further injustice given the fact that play had been immediately halted with Bryan Mbeumo clear though in the box. No sending off (come on Alex Austin, you’re by the VAR seat for a reason) and no attempt at goal possible. 

Amazingly (its Brentford, innit? and we’ve all been here way too long) the restart saw Toney’s wonder strike. Justice done but through nothing to do with the man in the middle. That said, Mr. Bankes would eventually get to wave his red card but we’ll get there shortly. 

Yet this was just one of a collection of strange events in a game which I wouldn’t be surprised if the phrase ‘irregular betting patterns’ was eventually used to describe. First up, the drone. There it was, hovering over the pitch midway through the first half and once spotted Mr. Bankes had no choice but to pull the players off. For fifteen minutes.

Peter Gilham helpfully explaining over the p.a. how Premier League rules state that “In the event of an unofficial drone over the pitch” he had to clear the field of play. Eventually adding, “Don’t blame the referee. Don’t blame the players. Don’t Blame me. Blame the drone.” He’s right, of course, and the ref did the right thing here. (Not a typo) . “Who’s the wanker with the drone?” sang the crowd before it eventually disappeared to be replaced by a police chopper. 

It meant a colossal 15 minutes of time (at least) was wasted with the players then having to come back out for a warm up before the board showed the first half would conclude at that point. After an additional +19 minutes of time added on. How he came to this conclusion I have no idea. Outside of regular incidents we’d already had a huge stoppage for the horrific injury between Rico Henry and Matthias Jensen. The pair of them both going to clear the same hoofed clearance and colliding with each other in a sickening clash of heads.

Lengthy treatment followed before both were eventually guided from the field of play and subbed off. Blood everywhere. The photos doing the rounds not pleasant. We’ll opt for a claret free choice c/o MOTD. How this stoppage was meant to signify a mere 4 minute delay I have no idea but perhaps Mr Bankes has a different watch to the rest of us.

All being well both players are ok this morning but if nothing else, it gave Peter Gilham his first opportunity of the afternoon to delve into the the official Premier League rule book and explain that both players had been replaced as ‘concussion substitutes’, meaning they didn’t count towards our tally of three permitted changes.

Sickening

Eventually, half time came. Peter telling us, “We’ve had a drone this afternoon. Now you can hear me drone on…” before prefacing the second period with the deadpan comment, “Just remember the date. Saturday 22nd January. 2022.” 

If his youthful apprentice Stu SoccerAM is ever to inherit the mantle of full time announcer, he’s  got a lot of learning to do if there’s any desire to match this level. What a teacher to have, though. Amazing. Yet that’s the experience that being at the helm since 1969 gives. Even his closest rival on the experience stakes,  George Sephton at Anfield whom we all heard last weekend, can’t hold a candle to Peter. Long may he continue. Zingers that money can’t buy.

As if to underline the date, the second half was then delayed just as the game was set to start with Mr. Bankes leaving the field of play. A problem with his earpiece meaning he couldn’t communicate with his assistants. On an afternoon of arbritary decision making to match the worst of what we’ve seen in all our years, it would have needed more than an earpiece to help him communicate. Oh well. 7(seven) minutes later and with the players having gone through a second mid-game warm up, we were back under way.

The surreal events continuing later through the half with a small parachute descending to the pitch in front of the North stand. It happened right in front of me and dropped straight down. This was not thrown from the crowd.

In lieu of ‘Action Man’ or whomever would have been held beneath the canopy, it appeared to be carrying what appeared to be a pair of frilly pink knickers. Granted, my eyes are poor but this was the ‘best guess’ consensus from those sitting around us. Whether the drone had returned to drop off a cargo of lingerie or some other reason, it rounded off a Daliesque afternoon in more confusion.

Or should that be, almost rounded off. Full time eventually came at the end of a game that had seen a total 26 minutes of additional time. Thomas Frank, understandably, frustrated after a game which had seen our early momentum stopped dead by the aerial visitor and then Brentford unable to repel Wolves in the second period. With the players being applauded off the pitch, there appeared to be confrontation in the middle with Bankes brandishing the yellow card now once but twice. Our head coach sent off. Ejected from the field of play. His explanation to the press afterwards revealing…   

I got a yellow because confronting one of their players. Fair enough. And then I turned around and said to Peter, “You can just give me another one”, because I was very irritated But its not because of this… just asked the ref and apparently I was too aggressive. Look back and if you think I was too aggressive then I can just put my hands up and say that’s not good enough. I tell my players not to keep their emotions get stupid cards and of course that was stupid by me.”

Thomas aggressively responding to Peter Bankes

A flat, flat ending to a surreal afternoon all round. Then, light at the end of the tunnel. Bright light. Christian Eriksen IS signing for The Bees. It is as nailed on as one could expect with a series of posts on social media detailing the move. And that’s just what has been shared so far. This IS happening. My word. It will be immense. We’ve got a break next weekend, followed by Everton in the FA Cup in a fortnight. Then there’s the small matter of the trip to Manchester City. 

Things are never dull at Brentford, that’s for sure. This crazy end to what was already up there as one of the craziest day we’ve ever experienced proving that yet again.

One of several posts from the GPG

Nick Bruzon

Imagine no more. Could we be one decision away from the greatest thing ever?

22 Jan

Brentford host Wolverhampton Wanderers this Saturday afternoon. The fallout from the Manchester United game has been done, dusted and (along with the player / team performance summary) written about here. We’ve, likewise, looked forward to the visit from Wolves in yesterday’s column. To be quite honest, the plan had been for a lie in this morning before freezing my bits off in Gunnersbury Park whilst H spends 90 minutes at the weekly Community Sports Trust football training for years 3-6. That was the plan. But something has been niggling. Something kit related. Something utter, utter genius. Something to better even the brown and orange. Yeah. I hear you. Me too. “How is that even possible?” being the universal reaction to such a crazy statement.  

Choc & Orange – much missed

We’ve written about the good people behind @BeesShirts on Twitter before. Their ongoing homage to the history of red and white stripes along with just about anything else we’ve ever worn before. For a shirt nerd like yours truly – who, to be honest, is only a whisker away from Kitman Bob issuing the restraining order once Luis Adriano is finished with it – this is a mandatory inclusion in the social media ‘Follow 400’ max. Honestly, you don’t need any more. It’s just noise and clutter. A therapeutic clear out every now and again to avoid tipping over the magic mark is truly refreshing.

You can thank Twitter guru Richie Firth for that one. Although, I note with dismay he has let his own standards slip and is now up to a terrifying 469. Albeit, the visit to his own page to see that current tally revealed a spot on analysis of Jamie Carragher’s sartorial stylings from last night’s coverage of Watford – Norwich.

As ever, we digress. In short – don’t follow more than 400. Do follow @Beesshirts. And if you took the later advice chances are you’d have seen the greatest concept design for Brentford shirt ever. Imagine running out against Manchester United in what they’ve come up with? Well you don’t even need to imagine, if you can make it to the end of this page.

What a concept. What a look. A design based upon that classic London Transport seat material. Bringing the ‘Bus Stop in Hounslow ‘ to life. Reinventing the much loved choc /orange for an unexpected comeback. If nothing else, imagine the global shirt sales form Trainspotters. From travel enthusiasts. As a revenue generator alone, a tie up with LT could see the coffers swelling.

If THIS were to happen…….

But this is not really about money. This is about looking cool. Looking stylish. Being the trailblazers we so often are. About making Brentford stand out. About being different. About embracing what we have become so intrinsically associated with.

The aforementioned restraining order moved a step closer last night when Kitman Bob was asked for his thoughts on this. Clearly, we’ve stumbled across Matthew Benham’s latest masterplan. What other reason can you give for a reaction of “Hell no !!!!!”. Something I can only think is a coded message to keep quiet and not let the cat out of the bag.

Well, some things do need to be shouted about from the roof tops. Just imagine running out in this. Imagine the envious looks on Cristiano Ronaldo’s eyes if the Manchester United stropmonger had sulked off past players wearing this. Imagine owning something truly unique.

Imagine no more….

Bob, over to you.

What a concept

Nick Bruzon

When was the last time this happened? Who will start on Saturday?

21 Jan

League football at 3pm on a Saturday for Brentford returns for the first time in over two months with the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers this weekend (for no points, can you remember who our previous fixture at this time was without checking ? answer at the bottom). The bravery of Wednesday night and Manchester United has been done, dusted and filed away in the Dean Smith ‘deserved to win’ dustbin. Despite our wonderful performance – and for the record I still stand by the belief from yesterday’s column that Man U most definitely rode their luck in that opening period – in the end the difference between the two sides turned out to be nothing more than finishing. For all our chances, it was the Red Devils who were clinical when the moment arose. Devastatingly quick. Unlike their post goal scoring celebrations where the only thing slower than their walk back for the restart was their number 7 ambling off in a strop after being substituted. 

In your own time

What a terrible example to set by the Manchester United megastar for any young children who may have been watching etc etc etc. For the rest of us, every cliche and preconception about the world famous winker summed up in that moment. And also this one which has been doing the rounds on Twitter.  

For Brentford, we can mull on it or move on to Wolves. Thomas Frank has always been one to celebrate or reflect for 24 hours then focus on looking forward to the next game. For me, Clive, that’s the right approach but equally this is a game which could be blistering if we can continue the momentum. If we can pick up where we left off against Manchester United. Creative. Attacking. Taking the game to our opponents rather than sitting on the back foot and waiting for them to bring it to us. If the crowd and players continue that symbiotic relationship of feeding of each other. 

Who would you pick though? Centre back and midfield are the two areas where we finally seem to have interchangeable options. Should Matthias Jansen retain his place after a showing which saw him score highly in the player review feature but, sadly, not on pitch. Indeed, is it unfair on expecting him to get the goals when we play an all round team system and took until the 85th minute to get ours? Let’s not forget, either, being up against a World Class ‘keeper in David De Gea.

Its a really easy trap to fall into and go all ‘Ian Moose’. Who could forget his shameful attempts at self-publicity after Neal Maupay missed what the ego-driven broadcaster considered to be a chance so simple he’d have snaffled it up as easily as the prematch catering (is his banging on about that a thing, still?). Note to self: don’t forget to wish my good friend a happy birthday on February 7th (seventh).

But we digress. I thought Matthias had a wonderful game. I thought he should have scored. But also so could several others. Personally speaking, I’d start him again based on his performance alone. For all I rate Shandon Baptiste, and I do, I’m sure Matthias will be itching to get back out there and start this one at 100 mph. Like the rest of the Brentford team, looking to continue on from where we left off. 

Whomever, starts competition could really crank up soon. Aside from the Christian Eriksen rumours still kicking around,  Thomas Frank gave the latest assessment on Josh Dasilva in the Wolves press conference, saying “Kristoffer Ajer trained with him today and just said ‘what a player’. There is a very good player who hopefully we will see playing for us. I think it’s still four weeks away from him being involved in the squad, if we build him well. That could potentially be a tiny bit quicker, but it definitely also be longer”.    

In defence, I thought Mads Bech looked assured. Ethan too and perhaps he can consider himself unlucky to miss out on the top five this time around. With Pontus Jansson the club captain, does Kris Ajer continue on the sidelines? Is he fit to go? Who misses out if so? Indeed, do we persist with the three CB and double wing back combo that has been used so far this season? I’d love to see a try out for the more traditional set up that gave Ivan so much service before but that’s just me. 

Much as we love Sergi Canos in our house, if Rico Henry is fit then he’ll go straight in. He was immense at Liverpool and continues to provide attacking threat. Coming off the bench for the Man U game, I am sure he’ll start on Saturday. Certainly, Thomas has confirmed that everyone who was available for the last game remains in the same position this time around. 

Decisions, decisions, decisions. One things for sure, getting back to winning ways will be very welcome. Starting to get a few more points on the board can only be good. There are no rewards given for ‘close but no cigar’. No points earned for topping the ‘deserved to win table’. Next up in the Prem is that trip to Manchester City. About as tough as it gets for anyone !

As for Wolves, Thomas used that conference to pay tribute to Bruno Mars and his squad. “I think Conor Coady is a key for their defense. When you play with a back three/back five like we do, it is very difficult to break down. They are a group of players who know each other well and who want to run and fight for each other which means a lot.”

The Wolves – Bees picture has been in use since 2014

Joy. One can only hope that Spurs interest in Adam Traore (a £15m bid was rejected yesterday) could have some sort of unsettling effect. The eight placed team (Wolves, not Tottenham) are on a hot streak at present and racking up the points with ease. They’ll be as confident and optimistic of continuing that run as we will be of getting back to winning ways.

Can we do it? There’s only one place to find out. Lionel Road. On Saturday. At 3pm (not a typo) See you there…

And that last Saturday game? Newcastle United away. The 3-3 at St. James Park on November 20th.

Until then, if you’d like to read more… then here’s that post-match player review from Manchester United and the 1-3.

Nick Bruzon

Who shone against Manchester United? Who should be picked for Wolves?

20 Jan

A 3-1 reverse for Brentford at home to Manchester United only tells one part of a evening in which the Bees did everything but score, visiting number 7(seven) Cristiano Ronaldo had a quite spectacular hissy fit and Bees fans were left genuinely frustrated not to have beaten the ‘biggest club in the world'(TM). As ever at this point, it’s time to look at who the best pf the Bees’ players were. Who is a nailed on start for the game with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday ? Has anyone broken into the season long top 5? Do you agree with the selections where there’s a few whose inclusion may cause some surprise? Have Matthias Jensen, Sergi Canos and Mads Bech (all of whom made the starting XI this time around ) done enough to hang on to their places for Wolves at the weekend?

The post match player review can be found here. Plus a few more thoughts on the overall Brentford performance. Sure, Manchester United won (no denying that) but, much like sitting through an episode of My Family, there was nothing particularly comfortable about it.

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Jamchester United. Bees miss out after storming performance.

20 Jan

What can you say? Brentford went down 3-1 at home to Manchester United in the proverbial game of two halves. The first seeing us utterly dominant. United, apparently the ‘biggest club in world football’ made to look like a bunch of Sunday league part-timers. The only one to emerge with any credit being David De Gea in nets who twice denied Matthias Jensen when it seemed odds on the Danish midfielder would score. The fans were on their feet in anticipation of him burying one of them but, yet again, Thomas Frank must be left wondering whose black cat he has run over. Like Chelsea, a blood and thunder performance saw us thwarted by a ‘keeper at the very top of his game. Christian Norgaard also with the best of the chances in an opening period that saw 6 decent efforts and the memory of our blank at Liverpool nothing more than that. A memory. This was a team reacting at the top of their game. A team breathing in the atmosphere at Lionel Road and then using it to super charge our drive forward.

Bryan was on fire. Matthias too, to be fair. The frustration of inconsistency rearing its head when the ball was lost or the chances spurned. The brilliance of him at his best coming through in patches. Perhaps that’s what the prospect of Josh Dasilva and Christian Eriksen breathing down your neck does. United left looking tattered and one of the worst teams to visit Lionel Road this season. We were that good. They were that bad. De Gea aside. The visitors not even testing Jonas Lössl who had replaced Alvaro Fernandez in goal.

Then , the second half happened. A sloppy first goal conceded with Lössl unsure whether to stick or twist as the ball was played forward and ended up doing neither. A despairing stretch was powerless to stop Elanga heading home. Ronaldo chesting it forward for Fernandes to give his only meaningful contribution of the evening in the build-up to the second. The ball then played through to Mason Greenwood who, despite a suspicion of offside, made no mistake. Marcus Rashford made it three late on.

The goals all well, well taken and the consummate lesson that chances can’t continue to be spurned. United weren’t even close in this game but rode their luck to the max. All we had to show for it was Ivan Toney’s late, late consolation goal. A long throw working for the second time this season. Brentford throwing everything and anything from the kitchen sink to Stephen Pressley’s socks at the United goal but nothing more followed.  

Look positive. This was Manchester Untied we were up against. It was miles improved on Liverpool. We didn’t concede form a corner either. Mads Bech coming in for Kris Ajer looked strong. Ivan is back on the score sheet whilst who didn’t enjoy the sight of Ronaldo’s hissy fit. Trudging off in what the BBC described afterwards as “a ridiculous show of petulance with a slow stroll off, some very obvious muttering and a burst of anger on the bench after he was substituted with 20 minutes left”?

In your own time, Cristiano

A case of ‘And this isn’t Ronaldo territory?’ Frankly, a two headed tortoise would have been quicker leaving the field. The chants of “winker, winker, winker” being directed towards the player showing that he hadn’t been forgiven for his World Cup shenanigans back in 2006. At least, I thank that’s what was being chanted.

Thomas would talk afterwards about how we absolutely destroyed them in the opening period. How he was hugely disappointed not to grab the win against a top team. All true. All true. Feelings felt by the majority of a fanbase who absolutely ripped the roof off Lionel Road. Kudos too, for the West stand breaking in to a chorus of: “Live round the corner. You only live round the corner.

The deeper dive player review is now up and can be found here. Otherwise, it’s a case of waking up and wondering how we came away empty handed. Of being taught a lesson that opportunities need to be grabbed when they come along. Something Manchester United are still masters at and which they demonstrated three times last night.

So head held high and all that but, at the end of the day Clive, a blank on the points tally. That’s football. All we can do now is bottle if for Wolves and, err, go again.

See you there  

Nick Bruzon

View from the opposition. Manchester United fan opens up ahead of Brentford game.

18 Jan

Brentford host Manchester United at Lionel Road on Wednesday evening. The build up to this one has been as much post-mortem from Liverpool as it has been excitement about Christian Eriksen (hey, you have to dream). Now though, we need to cut to the chase. To look at the opposition. One of the most famous clubs in the land but, by their own illustrious standards, perhaps not at the races in recent years. The challenge of following Fergie a riddle to challenge the deepest of minds. A conundrum to file along side the question of just what makes Mrs Browns Boys popular or whether anyone, actually, enjoys the England Supporter’s band.

Liverpool has been and gone now

Those, of course, are well trodden paths on these pages. Instead, let’s look at Manchester United. Through the eyes of Dale O’Donnell. The blue ticked editor of the @strettynews website, Sky Sports News contributor and member of the Football Writer’s Association. Thats the Twitter bio done. Onto the questions…

What a tumultuous season for those of us looking in. Ole sacked and the Red Devils languishing in 7th (seventh) place. European qualification – even for the Europa Conference – hanging in the balance. Are things at Old Trafford as bad as being made out? 
Well, yes, because it’s not difficult to see the root of our problems. Just look at the Glazer family and how they only see our club as a commercial cash cow. One they can continue to milk despite the team showing utter mediocrity on the pitch.

From my perspective, being any good back in the day isn’t a guarantee of success and most clubs would love to be in your position. Do the supporters have unrealistic expectation levels?
No offence – but we are Manchester United. The biggest football club – not only in England, but – in the world. We’ve seen a lot of poor recruitment, ill-advised decisions from the hierarchy and a lack of planning over the years but it still beggars belief that we’re so poor on the football pitch, with the players we have available. We’re a million miles away from where we need to be.

What about Ole? A club legend. Was he let go too early? Or was it the right move?
It was the right move because the results got so bad and our season objective looked out of reach just two or three months into the season. Ole will forever be remembered as a club legend — mostly as a player, but I think he did a lot of good as manager too — and I’m still gutted that he wasn’t the one to bring the Premier League back to Old Trafford. That would have been amazing.

How have things changed since the arrival of Ralf Rangnick? 
Not much if I’m being honest. We can see that the manager wants to play a totally different way and that was always going to take time. However, rumours about dressing room unrest are unsettling because the players might not give this man the respect he deserves, with Rangnick moving upstairs at the end of the season.

Who would you like to take over following his interim stint and who do you think will get the role?
It’s got to be Pochettino for me. I know most online polls show that United fans are rooting for Ten Hag, who I also rate as a leading candidate, but I’m not sure he is quite up to task. As ever I’d happily be proven wrong.

Donny van de Beek ? What’s going on?
Not fancied by previous management team and I don’t think Rangnick feels he can cut it in the Premier League.

What has been your best performance of the season to date? And the lowest?
Giving Leeds a good hammering on the opening day of the season was great, but our season has nosedived since. The lowest point for me, though, was obviously losing 5-0 to Liverpool. At least the Stretford End was loud that day…

Getting to the matter at hand, who are the current danger men Brentford need to be aware of?
Ronaldo (if fit) and Fernandes. You never quite know with the rest. De Gea has been our best player this season which tells you a lot.

As outsiders looking in, what’s the take from the Old Trafford faithful on the Bees?
I’ve been very impressed by your style of play and willingness to go at teams in your first season in the Premier League. A welcome addition to the top-flight.

If you could sign any one player from Brentford in the current window who would it be? Indeed, would you?
I’d probably say Kristoffer Ajer because he can play as a defensive midfielder and we badly need one of those.

Your score prediction for Wednesday?
2-1 win for United.

What would you consider to have been a successful season for our respective clubs when we get to the end of the campaign?
I’m going to say… United 4th and Brentford 10th.

And if you’d like to read more……. the return feature (the Brentford take on Manchester United) can be found here. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

Liverpool, Manchester United and Christian Eriksen latest plus the video to make our eyes light up.

18 Jan

Another day in the non-stop rollercoaster ride that is Premier League life. Brentford have done with Liverpool and we’re now set to host Manchester United . There’s FA Cup news out of Everton plus more midfield news than you can shake a stick at with Christian Eriksen of Denmark being just one of the names out there at the moment. 

Could we actually do this?

Which, with all due respect to Liverpool and Manchester United, needs to be where we start. The GPG have had the story building for over a week but now the rest of the world seems to have caught up with this. The BBC and several newspaper sites confirming that Brentford have been in touch with the Danish midfielder who has been released from his contract with Inter Milan. Serie A rules not allowing the sort of pacemaker which he has had fitted following that terrifying moment over the summer at Euro 2020.  

109 international caps. A pedigree in domestic football that also takes in Ajax and Spurs. 36 goals for his country from a variety of midfield positions. There are no words needed to describe his talent and word on the street is that there are a number of other top flight clubs looking to sign him. However, the actual word out of TW8 being that talks HAVE taken place between Brentford and the player about a six-month deal. Now, the inevitable negotiations begin.  

I can’t imagine somebody of his stature comes cheap, that’s for sure. How big a draw the power of Thomas Frank and the other Danes on our playing staff over wages will be remains to be seen. I’m drooling at the prospect of seeing him alongside Christian Norgaard. Chuck in Mathias Jensen for the full triumvirate. Right now, its more the case of hoping Thomas can do his thing to sell the Brentford project to his fellow countryman. 

Likewise, and perhaps more importantly, being hugely grateful that we can even be having this conversation. The sheer awfulness of what happened over the summer needs no revisiting. The despair and panic felt at the time unable to be put into words. And that was just us watching on from back home. It’s not possible to even half imagine how it felt for his team mates and family after he suffered that on pitch cardiac arrest in the game against Finland.

Thankfully, of course, the medical staff and his own team mates worked wonders to bring him back following the emergency treatment administered at the time. Now he’s in wonderful health by all accounts and chomping at the bit to go again – even targetting a place at the World Cup in December.  

That journey has to start somewhere and Brentford are the ones at the forefront of looking to help him take that first step. Could it happen? Will it happen? Is an unveiling before Manchester United too far flung a dream to cling to? Might it all come to nothing? Fingers are certainly crossed with, I have no doubt, much more to come in the coming days. 

The other news to set tongues wagging concerned a player already on our books. With video footage to match. We’ve all seen the pictures of Josh Dasilva in recent weeks but now he’s been in actual match action. You know, kicking a ball and everything. 45 minutes at Jersey Road in a game with Havant and Waterlooville. The comeback is most definitely on and whilst it may take a while longer to be involved in full fat first team action, this is about as big a boost as they come. Feast your eyes on this. 

Elsewhere, we’ve now gone live with the post match player and performance review following the game at Liverpool. Who were the top five for Brentford? Who is ahead in the race to be our season long star man? Who should have been included but missed out? You can find the answers and catch up on that piece, here.

In other news, TAP limits for the FA Cup fourth round tie at Everton have been announced. The figure cited by Brentford ‘official’ means just about anyone who has seen us on the road can take the trip to Goodison Park on Saturday 5th February. Season Ticket Holders with 1200+TAPs will be able to book their guaranteed place from today. 6,000 tickets are, I believe, available and priced at just £15 these are sure to fly off the shelves. If nothing else, it gives a chance to complete the Stanley Park bingo card following Sunday’s game. 

Two for the price of one

Until then though, it’s almost time for another home game. The chance to have played all 19 clubs in the Premier League will finally arrive. Manchester United being the last of the outliers following their 11th hour Covid related cancellation request back in December. How long ago does that feel now? The delay has allowed us to welcome back Kris Ajer and strengthen our goalkeeping options, amongst others permutations. It seems like another lifetime away when we were talking about having to bring out 18 year old Matthew Cox against the Red Devils for his Brentford debut? Perhaps we still will although any change should it come will, surely, be in the direction of Jonas Lössl. 

Today’s press conference will be telling as to both injuries and team selection. Even if it does end up being dominated by talks of another Dane in Christian Eriksen. All that’s to come, of course. For now we need to focus on Manchester United and the chance to pick up another three points. They looked wobbly (the story of the season) against Aston Villa and may well be without Cristiano Ronaldo which, if nothing else, is disastrous news for all the ‘Can I have your shirt…?’ placard makers. 

Could we do it? Will we do it? There’s only one place to be to find out. Lionel Road. See you there. 

Nick Bruzon 

Who were the top five performers at the weekend?

17 Jan

So Brentford lost out at Anfield on Sunday. A 3-0 reverse to Liverpool coming after 45 minutes of rock solid defending had almost threatened to send the half-time crockery flying. Then, the dam finally broke after wave upon wave of Red pressure and the rest is history. With Manchester United next up on Wednesday, are there grounds for expectation that another big name scalp will be claimed? Will the defensive, err, blips that gifted the third goal in particular be consigned to the waste bin of history?

Brentford push forward at Anfield

As ever at this juncture, we take a look at who deserves to keep their place in the Brentford starting XI after the Liverpool game and who were our top five players at Anfield? Does anyone deserve to miss out against Manchester United or will it be more of the same when Thomas names his team? Looking further afield, how is the race to be our season long star man shaping up?

You can find the answers to all these questions along with the summarised version of the team performance here. Who missed out? Who should have been included? Have we got it right? Over to you….