Tag Archives: Beesotted

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

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

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….

Get the f*@k in !! Now THIS is what it’s all about.

15 Jan

Well here we are at last. If the Premier League hadn’t been exciting enough so far, Brentford now go into a sequence of games that sees us go to Liverpool on Sunday, host Manchester United on Wednesday and then welcome back old friends Wolves on the Saturday. It is a week of fixtures that at one point in most supporter’s lifetime would have been nothing short of fantasy football. Now it is very real and now it is here. Not to mention the news out of Lionel Road yesterday about Pontus Jansson signing an extended contract. The club captain clearly relishing his time with The Bees following that move which took him from Leeds United to Griffin Park back in 2019.

We can only begin with all things Liverpool, of course. A Sunday afternoon 2pm kick off sees our first visit to Anfield since that 1989 FA Cup quarter final. Brentford, then, a Division three club for whom Andy Sinton, Keith Jones, Allan Cockram, Gary Blissett, Keith Millen and Terry Evans were amongst the players to make yours truly go dewy eyed even now. Checks Wikipedia – Neil Smillie is 63. Cripes – that’s how long ago it was. Yet it was a rare opportunity to step up in class.To continue that epic cup run that had already seen us beat Manchester City and then a fine fifth round win up at Blackburn Rovers.

What an afternoon it was.

Liverpool, of course, were next level. In general and on the day. Reaching the ground relatively late, we walked into an already full stadium to be greeted by a wall of noise and a teeming mass of supporters. The fans moving as one on the Kop at the far end of the stadium. I remember suddenly being hit by the sheer impossibility of the task ahead but also the excitement and the potential if, somehow, footballing fate were to smile on us. If David were to beat Goliath. And it almost happened.

“No Offside!! Cadette!!! Ohhh, he’s missed!! Sinton’s lovely little ball and Richard Cadette, top scorer with seventeen goals this season… how close did he come to putting this quarterfinal? Well, it would have been dreamland for Brentford, wouldn’t it? It was inches wide of the post. And that…silenced the Kop”.

Ahh, Tony Gubba. His immortal words with the score locked at 0-0 still ring in the ears. The chance still visible in the minds’ eye. An opening ten minutes with more action than you get in most games. Then Liverpool turned it up to 11. 1-0 at HT became 4-0 by the end. We did well to hang in there but eventually class told. We went back to West London and that was it for over thirty years. Until this season and that quite incredible 3-3 at Lionel Road.

The inflatable Bee may have gone but the photo from my last trip to Anfield remains

If the trip to Anfield had been a highlight in my life as a Brentford fan, then the Premier League game in September has now overtaken that. To see the two clubs competing on an equal footing. Both in the same division. Decades of ambition finally coming to fruition. The long, hard years having to explain that our team, largely unheard of outside TW8, were Brentford rather than Brentwood (in Essex ) now nothing more than a dusty relic from a previous time. To have my family with me and little H, the excitement painted all over his face in thick brushstrokes. His tears as they scored again. The screams of joy as we pulled them back. Again. Liverpool’s lead falling apart as easily as a Leeds United promotion campaign.

That’s what a Wissa equaliser for 3-3 does

Ahh, good times. Amazing times. But a memory to file alongside Anfield ’89. Now, we’ve the chance to make new ones. Thee points the priority against a Liverpool side shorn of their best player (Mo Salah on AFCON duty along with Sadio Mane and Naby Keita) yet still putting out a terrifyingly strong looking line up for Thursday’s League Cup semi with Arsenal. That one ended 0-0, against ten men. Stoic resistance does work. With the Bees enduring that horror show at Southampton on Wednesday, one so woeful it culminated in a hard hitting approach to the player performance review – the only way is up. There’s just no way we can defend that abysmally again. Whether playing Liverpool or Lincoln City. We were victims of our own lethargy. This time around things will be different. They have to be.

Thomas Frank has hinted that Rico Henry will be ready. Amazing if so but one can’t help but think these are nothing more than mind games and Manchester United will be when we see him back in action. The attacking potential and defence quality he brings is, of course, something that needs no expansion upon. We all know it. We all love him. We all hope there will be no gamble with fitness although if he IS ready then happy days. Roll on 1pm Sunday when the team is announced and we find out.

The other big call will be in nets. Does Jonas Lössl get a start or will Alvaro Fernandez keep his place? It always takes time for a new goalkeeper and defence to sync up whilst nobody could replace David Raya. It’s a task as impossible as following Fergie at Old Trafford. The manager rather than the Black Eyed Pea. Yet, equally, we all know that things have been up and down. Moments of brilliance – he arguably saved us two points late on at home to Aston Villa – have come alongside a frustrating lack of clean sheets. The only people smiling there being the marketing team at Dormeo as another  promotional mattress and duvet set gets to stay in the warehouse. Is it all down to him? What would you do? For me, Clive, there’s nothing to lose by making the change. Something needs to give after Southampton and I’m afraid most eyes will be pointing in the obvious direction – that last line of defence.

Look, I know nothing about football. Really. I love it, live it, breath it. But I’m not a coach. I’m not involveld in what happens. Like most of us, a peripheral figure on the outside looking in when it comes to team selection and actually knowing what goes on behind the scenes.  Everyone’s an expert and a tracksuit manager. Everyone’s a critic and its the easiest thing in the world to pour forth. Indeed, that’s all part of what makes it such a wonderful game. The conjecture. The discussion. The ongoing debate with friends. Listening to pundits and then shouting at the tv as to how wrong they are. 

Ultimately though, it comes down to Thomas Frank and his squad as to who our best eleven are on the day. Rico or Sergi. Jonas or Alvaro. Whomever we go with, this promises to be as loud and exciting an experience as they come. It shouldn’t have the feel of ‘big day out’. That was for 1989 and a one off experience. An amazing one but we were a different club then with different aspirations. These days Brentford have big new ambitions (sorry, sorry, sorry – couldn’t resist) and these upcoming games the Rides, Manchester United and Wolves will go a huge way towards telling us how realistic they are. Bring it on!!! See you there.

The other news was , of course, Pontus Janson and his contract extension. This is fantastic news. He’ll now be with us until the end of of next season after it was announced yesterday that he had put pen to paper. 

No word, of course, as to whether it was ‘that’ pen but one can only dream….

That biro

Nick Bruzon

A brutal evening ends with a reset needed for Sunday.

12 Jan

Where to even start with any of that ? Brentford were humped 4-1 at Southampton in a game that saw a sub-Burnley level of frustration. Even Vitaly Janelt comparing it to Brighton in his own post match comments to ‘official’. In a season packed with so many giddy highs, this truly was as moribund and frustrating an experience as they come. Moreso, given that on paper the return of Kris Ajer and a central midfield of Janelt, Norgaard and Baptiste should have given us as strong a heart as they come. Instead, there was no answer to the hosts combination of fast pressing and long balls forward. With Liverpool next up on Sunday, dial in even half as close a performance – and the word is used in the loosest sense – and we’re going to be in trouble. Regardless of who they have missing at the African Cup of Nations.

Thomas acknowledges the fans at Full Time

We’ve all seen it, I’m sure. Whether through being there, the re-run that began at 9pm or via the video highlights that are now online. Go dig them out, if you must. I have but wish I hadn’t. What felt painful last night looks even worse in the cold light of day. Southampton on top of us at all times and not giving Brentford any chance to breath. Pushing. Pressing. Chasing. Closing us down. Winning just about every second ball. The Bees adopting a much more zonal set up, in that we seemed to be playing in a different time zone. The fetid whiff of 2006/07 and Rosenior-Butcher hanging over the team like a bad smell. Defence awol. The freedom of Saint Marys being handed to our hosts time and again. My word, they punished us. Hard. 

The first goal conceded within minutes. A corner flicked over and through the entire Bees defence. Yes, it was a fast ball but nobody reacted. Nobody got close to even trying to attack it, Ivan Toney aside. He and Fernandez offering little resistance to Jan Bednarek. Urghhh. 

Yet then Brentford hit that little patch of hope. First Vitaly levelling up with the most exquisite left footed volley, his leg at right angles to the pitch, after picking out a ball from Bryan. Then, the same man forcing Fraser-Frster to go full stretch. Promising. Might we actually show the spirit seen so often? The fire and guts that hauled us back time and again when Liverpool came to visit? That roared us on to the last minute at West Ham? 

Err, no. Ibrahima Diallo ligning himself up for a shot on the edge of the box that was predictable as the outcome inevitable. Nobody charged him down or even tried. The merest of shrugs from Ethan as the ball went past another Fernandez dive that didn’t, quite, reach the ball (longer gloves needed? Better positioning?). Either way, he shouldn’t have been beaten on his inside post and even though saved by the post, the ball ricocheted straight into his hand and the back of the net. Urghhh. Hearts sank. Half time came. Surely we’d start at 100 mph? Surely?

Alas not. A long ball forward caught Pontus short. 3-1. A long ball forward caught Pontus short. 4-1. He wasn’t alone btw. The entire defence awol for most of the game. The nonchalant fannying around cross the box lucky not to hurt us further. A brief flurry at the end where Bryan, Wissa and Ivan came close was far too little, far too late.  An absolute 0 out of 10 performance from Brentford, even despite the ref moment of joy elicited by Vitaly’s goal  

The biggest challenge of all then being after full time and attempting to complete the usual post-match piece where we find the top five Brentford performers. Well, I’ve done it on the way home and you can find that here. Please do go take a look. Let us know who, if anyone , missed out or should  / could have been included.   

The positives, if we can, being that this was very much out of character. This is Premier League football where no game is easy. The gaps for a team off their game likely to be exposed even more easily than at any other level we’ve played before. Likewise, one absolutely needs to acknowledge Southampton’s desire. Their drive. Their refusal to give us an inch. The difference bing that when faced with this approach before (e.g . Chelsea, home) we’ve generally hung firm at the back and avoided the avalanche. Not this time. Oh for a T-Rex last night. Or a defence. Or the ability to take the ball to our opponents. 

It happened. Its over. It was one game. No matter how unpalatable it felt at the time. Let’s never talk of their goals ever again and, instead, hope Thomas can pick the boys up in time for Liverpool on Sunday. Hope he can give us the Brentford that travelled to Wolves and West Ham so wonderfully. Not this.

On the plus side, if Rasmus Ankersen was looking to impress his new consortium in charge at Southampton with talent they may be interested in then they’d have laughed him out the ground. The wonderful recruitment strategy he was so instrumental in at Brentford offered up nothing more than … well, we get it. No point dwelling further. The frustration around was evident last night. Having slept on it, one has to remember what this team can do when they are on it. 

Was Rasmus in the boardroom or on security?

Over to you Thomas. Can you get us back to our best for Liverpool?  One thing’s for sure, I can’t wait to find out. Bring it on and see you there.

In the meantime, that ‘heat of the moment’ post-match analysis is here. Go strap on a tin hat…

Nick Bruzon   

And the top five Brentford perfomers were…..

11 Jan

Southampton 4 Brentford 1. It was as bad as the score line suggests . It was a result which now presents yours truly with the somewhat dubious challenge of looking back at the game to try and find the top five performers for The Bees. Those players who will be looking to make a name for themselves at Liverpool on Sunday.

No celebrations at full time

Who made the list? Can anyone count themselves unlucky to have missed out? Has there been a glaring omission? Well, here you go…………….