Tag Archives: Birmingham City

A terrible morning after a frustrating night before.

7 Apr

Another game unbeaten. Third placed in the Championship table. A clean sheet. Clear of Swansea City on level games. Ordinarily one would be ecstatic to be in this position heading in to the final seven games of the campaign. Yet a 0-0 for Brentford against Birmingham City, a fourth successive draw for the Bees, has left nothing but a feeling of deep frustration. An opportunity spurned. The gap to second placed Watford 9 points. As if to underline the gulf in class at the top end, Norwich City took the opportunity to inflict a 7(seven) – 0 bracketing on Huddersfield Town. The Terriers on the receiving end of what happens when the opposition actually take their chances rather than just create them. 

There’s no disguising the final score

Brentford are now closer to 7th(seventh) place than automatic. Bournemouth currently sitting five points behind as they look to break in to the play-off zone. We’ve been saying for weeks that automatic is possible but failure to look over the shoulder has cost us – both Barnsley and Watford storming up and, in the case of the Hornets, through. Whilst the play-offs are the more realistic option for the Bees now (albeit, I’ll never say never until it’s mathematically out of sight) even falling over the line into that final-four shoot out isn’t as cut and dried as once it looked. Comments on Twitter to any post from ‘official’ were the usual mix of FrankOut and calls for Fosu to start. The Messianic pressure being heaped on Tariqe’s shoulders as odd as Thomas Frank’s refusal to mix things up and give his man a start or even just a bit more than a late run.

Instead, the only change from Saturday’s draw at Huddersfield saw Mathias Jensen start in place of Saman Ghoddos. To be fair, it looked good. Pressure built. Chances were created – Jensen blasting over before Sergi Canos had the very best of them. The Spaniard timing his run to break clear straight down the middle, only to Clayton it when one on one with ‘keeper Etheridge. There were others, too. Yet it already felt like ‘one of those’ as we headed in to half time. Lots of pressure and neat play. A statistician’s dream but no clinical finish or even ‘out and out’ chance, the Canos opportunity aside. And the longer the game went on the more it lacked any cutting edge. Brentford looking flat, muted, impotent. Ivan Toney rarely getting a sniff. 

Clearly we’re missing the threat offered by Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva. Two of our three best players missing for weeks now. No coincidence the results have slipped away with their injuries. The added absence of Henrik Dalsgaard further limiting our attacking threat. At least we kept it tight at the back although still had to be grateful to the woodwork after Scott Hogan caused merry hell in the box, freeing up Gary Gardner close in on the angle. Thankfully, the Birmingham player saw his shot cannon clear off the post and the Bees survived. It was part of a sequence that saw our visitors take the game to Brentford early on. Clearly, they weren’t here just to throw 11 behind the ball and with that level of open play we should have had enough about us to convert something of our own. Instead, it was another case of ifs, buts and maybes. A definite feeling of two more points dropped rather than one gained.

Bryan Mbeumo had one of his best games in a while. Coming close himself aswell as creating opportunities, such as they were. We might have had a few good shouts for penalty kicks – Mads Bech Sorensen in particular – but ultimately it was an evening where full time came with a feeling of emptiness. Of lethargy. Of bang average performance rather than one of having seen us kept out by a combination of cat like ‘keeper, shonky refereeing, ratlling woodwork and all those other things that so often come together to aid the opposition. This one was down to us and us only. When the time came, we couldn’t rise to the occasion. 

When Watford had finally left a glimmer of light we were unable to take advantage and close down what, this morning, feels less like a gap and more like a chasm to second place. It is one we can still cross, and let’s not forget that as part of a tough run in, they also have a six pointer at Lionel Road. Hopefully, things won’t be too late by the time that comes around. Ultimately though, every passing game sees it more reliant on maths than it does on our own ability to play football.

I was genuinely full of optimism yesterday.About both the game and our longer term prospects but even having slept on it, the feeling of self-destruct and now being really up against it that hit home at full-time remains. All being well it’ll go by the weekend when we travel to Preston.

I’m not sure what Thomas does from here to help his team rediscover their clinical edge. Short of a miraculous return for Rico or Josh, his squad remains as it is. The clamour for Fosu remains loud on social media and whilst teams have never been picked by fans before, something needs to change. Some fresh blood needed to reinvigorate a team who are so tantalisingly close to the ultimate dream yet, for whatever reasons, so far off the pace at present. There is still time to turn it around, even if it is just our form that returns. Anything else beyond there, from anyone else, nothing more than a bonus.

Then, when things couldn’t get worse, they did. I’ve woken up to the club highlighting the racist abuse once again directed towards Ivan Toney on Instagram last night. The club published their own reaction, one mirrored by all of us with brains.

There are no real words and no excuse to justify what was written by the perpetrator. ‘Frank Out’ is easy enough to ignore or even laugh at but this is totally different. Spineless. Cowardly. Hateful. Ignorant. Here’s hoping they catch whomever it is and use all the powers available to deal with this. How anyone thinks that sort of language about a fellow human being is acceptable remains beyond me. I can’t imagine how utterly horrific it must be to have this directed towards you. It’s awful enough reading it.  A crappy end off the pitch after a frustrating evening on it.

So I’m done. Here’s to a few days of ‘down time’ from social media, from football, from all this nonsense and then back to it for Preston. I think we could all do with a reset.

Nick Bruzon  

This is one we really must win.

6 Apr

Eight games to go. Brentford host Birmingham City on Tuesday evening following the draw with Huddersfield at the weekend. A game we go into with the knowledge that, finally, the results around us have been favourable. Yesterday saw Watford held at Middlesbrough after leading for a large chunk of that one and Swansea City losing their fourth on the bounce. The Bees in third place. Ten points behind the Hornets but with two games in hand. The first of which takes place at 7.00pm this evening. A game where victory has to be at the top of our priorities if there is to be any hope of overhauling the team(s) in ‘automatic’. If not a mathematical ‘must win’ then psychologically, very much the time to return to winning ways. Over reliance on favours not a strong card for any head coach to play too often. All good in theory. The problem being Lee Bowyer and his Blues are very much in a battle of their own at the wrong end of the table and aren’t just going to hand over the points.

All to play for still – not just for the top two

The plus point being the Bees are unbeaten since the 1-0 at Norwich City a month ago. All well and good but let’s not pretend the last three games have been anything but frustrating. Starting off at 100mph against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County but falling over the line to a 2-2 draw. See also: Nottingham Forest where chances aplenty were created but only one converted. The inevitable happened. Then Saturday saw us peg it back against Huddersfield Town for another draw. True, the point saw us clear Swansea City but Watford are the ones that, at present, we all have to catch up with. Indeed, the nature of the opening goal at the weekend a horror show to match anything Mrs. Browns Boys have inflicted on us over the years. 

The net result of all this meaning that, really, only victory will be good enough this evening. Certainly if we have genuine aspirations to recapture that place in the top two we held for a tantalising moment. True, Watford have a tough run but they also have more than enough ability to win them. To beat opponents before they have even walked out of the tunnel. For Brentford, the free-scoring fun seems to have gone awol. The team predictable and , perhaps, weighed down by both expectation and the pressure of last season. If ever there was a time to put the shooting boots back on and bolster the defence it is now. To pray Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva are back soon. The lack of any talk about either player suggests that won’t be anytime in the next five minutes. Perhaps, though, Thomas is playing his cards close to his chest.

Regardless, we still should have enough in this team to win tonight. Ivan Toney knows thew way to goal. Norgaard is back. Fosu and Marcondes must be chomping at the bit to begin this one from the off. Can Thomas inspire his troops? Make the pieces of this most enigmatic jigsaw fit together?

I don’t buy into any of this “We should have strengthened the squad in January” nonsense, btw. How do you predict injuries? How do you pay for it? How do you keep the squad happy? Which players would you have actually brought in? Moreso, at a time when we were on fire and storming it? Genuine question. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but let’s not forget, either, we’re more than holding our own against teams that have parachuted down from the Premier League and been able to maintain their structure. Likewise, that a season lasts for 46 games. Swansea City currently proving that no team can win every game. Hitting a wobble that’s actually worse than the one we did in that unholy trinity of games that reached a brutal denouement at St. Andrews against Coventry City.

Here’s the thing. Laugh and sneer all you want. This isn’t misguided optimism but genuine belief. I’ve been saying it all season and I still stand by the fact of my own personal feeling being Brentford will go up. Even now when, at face value, the table is less than favourable to us with Norwich and Watford in the box seats.  That doesn’t mean we can just continue to try and dial in performances. Saturday was a prime example of what happens when you do that. Yet with our rivals having a tough streak coming up and our own ability to turn it on should we get the on-pitch part right, this is still all to play for. It really needs to start tonight though. Two games in hand are more than handy but they need to be turned in to points. Both are at home to teams playing for their lives (see also: Rotherham in game 45).

This won’t be easy, of course. Birmingham City have got quality in that squad. I’ve seen teams finish fifth in this league and miss out on promotion by play offs. Their squad is ten times better than that. Its just about getting the balance right……

This could be huge. This might even be fun. It should be. What’s the point, otherwise? Kick off is at 7.00pm whilst before that you’ve got a ‘live’ edition of ‘The Warm Up’ . Stuart Wakeford, Marcus Gayle, Karleigh Osborne and special guest Natalie Sawyer will be hosting the show from Lionel Road at 6pm. You can catch that on YouTube with full details on ‘official’, here.. 

Until then, have a great day. See you there (metaphorically speaking). It’ll be another one on the sofa for us. All being well with a lot of cheering……

Nick Bruzon

Anything but a top draw afternoon.

4 Apr

Another point for Brentford. The draw at Huddersfield Town marking a mixed bag of results from the opening round of the Easter Championship fixtures. With Swansea City making it three defeats in a row at the hands of Birmingham City but Watford winning, again, the gap from the Bees in third to the second placed Hornets is now nine points. True, we still have that extra fixture and a visit from the Vicarage Road club to come but, for now, points in the bag are very much better than games in hand. For now… Who knows how things will or could change over the next few games?

We can only start with events at Huddersfield Town. A game which finished 1-1 after a first half in which we were frustrated by tenacious opponents and referee Oliver Langford. The man in the middle clearly set to ‘random’. Our case not helped by a shambolic opening goal conceded via a bit of defensive playmaking as haphazard and frustrating as the ‘officiating’ in the opening period. Raya playing out to Roerslev rather than booting it. The young Dane seemed to lose his footing before giving it away. Norgaard shoved before losing it and then Raya caught flat-footed after man of the match Lewis O’Brien reacted quickest. Just 7(seven) minutes gone and a goal down. Mere words can’t describe how awful it looked from start to finish. Dig out the video if you can do it to yourself. Anyone giving up the booze for Lent would have been forgiven for cracking at that point.

Help very much needed to get through the opening to the game

It was a goal all the more frustrating given Langford had adjudged Sergi Canos to have ‘fouled’ Demeaco Duhaney when running clean through on our hosts just moments earlier. Wonderful though he is, you’ve more chance of the Easter bunny displaying that level of dirty play. The Spanish playmaker one who very much embraces the positive side of attack, preferring to do it with the ball rather than his elbows. A player who trusts the referee to do his job. Sadly, the man in the middle failed spectacularly. See also the clear handball by Naby Sarr with Ivan Toney bursting clear or our man being bundled over yet adjudged to have conceded the foul. 

Let’s be clear, you still need to make your own chances but against opponents facing their own battle at the other end of the table, nothing is going to be handed over on a plate. The referee still needs to do his job and my word, Mr. Langford failed spectacularly in the first half. It was an opening period that actually had me yearning for the card waving discipline of Keith Stroud.

Our own cause not helped by Ghoddos and Mbeumo joining Dalsgaard in missing the game. At least the later had the excuse of being injured so not making it onto the pitch. Marcondes and Fosu amongst those given their chance far too late. Even Marcus Forss coming on for his 80th minute ‘subs by numbers’ appearance was as predictable as it was reactive. I’m no manager but the lack of impact and spurned opportunities in the opening period should have been a clarion call to action at half time rather than waiting until the usual 60-70 minute ‘Warburton zone’ to start proceedings.

Mr. Langford’s first half performance left a lot to be desired

Then again, we came out for the second period with a rocket having been delivered. Mads Bech Sørensen stabbing home the equaliser with just five minutes gone. Ivan Toney then hitting the inside of the post moments later. Surely, now, the pressure would build and the screw be turned? Surely? Alas not. Whilst Brentford had the lion’s share of the ball and possession, inability to carve out any further clear opening saw the game meander to an inevitable finish. Actual goals, rather than expected ones or retention stats, being what wins games. Huddersfield Town proving as resolute hosts as when they scuppered West Brom in game 45 last season. We weren’t complaining about their approach then. Perhaps it is something we might have done well to  remember.

Disappointed? Well, yes. Nobody has a divine right to win but Brentford just feel very samey at the moment. Our free flowing play and attacking intent parked in the sickbay with Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva. Games we might have won earlier in the season now turning into draws. Blame the ref. Blame lost chances (see: Nottingham Forest). Blame late wobbles (Derby County). Either way, the top two places would be infinitely nearer had we been able to close out any of the last three games. On the plus side, the meltdown ushered in by the FrankOut brigade after the Coventry debacle hasn’t seen Swansea City win their three games in hand to stride clear by the eight points predicted. Instead, we’re now ahead of the Swans whose current form reads LLL. Yet, like Barnsley, nobody has really kept tabs on Watford and they are the ones who have kept on churning out result after result after result.

What next? Watford travel to a Middlesbrough team who still have play-off aspirations. That, before another promotion hunting team in Reading, the derby with Luton and then Norwich away. Come out of those in any semblance of good form, off the back of an already mammoth run, and they deserve everything that comes their way. For Brentford, a visit from Birmingham City to set the pulse racing. Harlee Dean, Maxime Colin, Scott Hogan plus  Jon ‘and Toral must score’ amongst those likely to feature on Tuesday.

And Toral must score….

‘Automatic’ is still well possible but it is going to take a huge effort. Not just from those lining up against our rivals but from Brentford themselves. On and off the pitch. My word, if ever there was a time to return to winning ways then this it is upon us. Even Thomas seemed subdued after yesterday’s game, noting that “I would assess it as a decent performance. Not a top performance.

Here’s hoping for a return to winning ways and the chance to hear ‘Daydream Believer’ at full time. Oh, to be there on Tuesday.

Nick Bruzon

Needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle.

2 Apr

Finally, the Championship is back for Brentford after the interminable two week international break. This highlights of which included a first cap for Ethan Pinnock aswell as those much celebrated goals for Ollie Watkins and Gibraltar. The former on his international debut. The later, a brief moment of respite against Montenegro that came either side of home defeats to Norway and the Netherlands. For once, no consolation in seeing the brackets wheeled out as the boys from the Rock took a second half shoeing from the Dutch after an inspired opening forty-five. This, despite the wonderful form of goalkeeper Dayle Coleing. Not often you can concede ten in two games yet still be lauded as a player of the week. That’s now been and gone. Instead, we’re off to Huddersfield Town for a TV game tomorrow lunchtime. Today, we have to sit tight and wait for Watford to host Sheffield Wednesday before Swansea travel to Birmingham City this evening. If ever there was a ‘can both sides lose?’ derby then here it is.

No celebration. No brackets

Of course we should just focus on ourselves. The squad, one hopes, mostly refreshed. Recent pictures of Rico ‘on the grass’ providing some optimism. How close he remains to full fitness is, of course, another question altogether. Likewise Josh Dasilva.

Both sorely missed in recent weeks. Both players who can only strengthen our chances in the run in should they be available. Both players who will be in the Premier League next season – one way or another. See also: Ivan Toney. Cripes, we’ve got some first XI when everyone is fit.

Might we see Rico in action again soon?

Whilst just looking out for Brentford is the text book answer to any question about the last stages of a promotion campaign, we all know that’s nonsense when it comes down to it. Every decision, every goal, every result from our rivals is scrutinised in agonising detail. Moreso, when they are in action and we have an extra day to wait before our own game. Watford are the ones currently in second place. A 3pm kick off at home to Sheffield Wednesday in their game and, surely, no possible outcome beyond a win for the Hornets? Our only hope of a favour here being the Owls fighting a desperate rearguard against relegation. Who knows? 

For Swansea, a trip to Birmingham City in the evening. Last time out Lee Bowyer’s Blues were hammered at Vicarage Road. Tonight’s test equally tough and they’ll have to be ten times better to get anything out the bag here. The combination of Harlee Dean at the heart of the defence and the Swans propensity to be awarded penalties has me worried, that’s for sure. The one real hope being that, like Wednesday, City are also perilously close to the trapdoor. The only thing keeping them out of the bottom three being their having played about a hundred games more than Rotherham United. Any salvation for them needs to start immediately.

With Brentford not in action until tomorrow, let’s not pretend we won’t be following both games with a combination of intrigue and blind optimism. I’m not expecting any favours out of either and know we’ll have to rely on ourselves. Wednesday and Birmingham will only be able to offer the expected resistance of any team facing the dual factors of a relegation battle and promotion contenders. The bookies are giving 2.75 – 1 as the current price on Watford and Swansea in a win double. Lump your mortgage on it. I have. Well, if not the mortgage the remaining contents of my online betting account. Which should see me able to spring for a Creme Egg come Saturday morning.

Whatever happens, happens. None of it counts for anything if we can’t hit our own winning streak. Whilst not a ‘must win’ game, the trip to Huddersfield is one where three points will be very, very welcome. Time is starting to run out for all of us. Brentford have nine games left. That’s still almost 20% of the campaign – a significant proportion of course – but it doesn’t feel like that many when they can be counted on your fingers and thumbs. Especially when you know how the pressure will crank up in those final few fixtures. If ever there was a time to show what we’ve got then it’s now. The Terriers tomorrow and then Birmingham City at home on Tuesday. No irony to be lost there if, somehow, they rediscover the way to goal and any semblance of form today. Stranger things.

It doesn’t feel like there are too many to go….

If you can’t face watching either of today’s games on TV then there are two alternatives. First up, The Beesotted podcast. Billy and team providing an hour long distraction in their own big game build up. You can get that here.

Then there’s the combination of social media and kits. The World Cup of Brentford shirts seeing an epic head to head between Adidas 80 and Hummel 93. That one comes to a conclusion on Saturday morning and, whilst we are sadly lacking the Chad 92, Osca yoke and Funky Bee pin stripe, let’s not pretend the two finalists are nothing but amongst the very best we’ve ever had.

You can vote below. Until then, that’s me. See you on the other side. Tonight, Matthew, I need to be Birmingham City. And that’s not a good thing for anyone, especially those of us who supported the club during the early 90s. Then again, needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle, or whatever somebody much clever than me once said. 

Nick Bruzon

Time to start putting the boot in. Or, rather, on.

27 Sep

Brentford are up to 9th in the fledgling table and unbeaten in all competitions since the season opener at Birmingham City. The latest result, a 1-1 draw at Millwall in a game that will be remembered as much for the return of Said Benrahma and the excessive wind coming down the I-follow line. That, less a comment on Marcus and Mark’s personal hygiene and more a reflection of the howling gusts rattling around the Harchester United stadium. Very much a case of Cold Blow Lane despite the Lions having long moved home. Certainly it wasn’t one to live long in the memory but it’s another point on the board and another chance for this team to reacquaint themselves with playing together in these oddest of circumstances. Besides, thing could be worse. Looks at Nottingham Forest. How IS that close (closed ?) season investment working out? 

What is there to say after this one? Both teams pressed. Both pushed. Both scored. Both could have won it. We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages as the regular reader will be aware (you can get the ‘official’ view here if you want). That’s no bad thing. It wasn’t that we put in a bad performance but, like Birmingham City away, the trip to Millwall is generally a game of few goals (that one where Danny Shittu gave us the o.g. winner aside). You can now add Saturday to the list and, being honest, after conceding an early goal I’m more than happy we were even able to pull it back rather than succumb to yet another 1-0 defeat. 

‘Official’ capture the equaliser in their match report – link above

Moreso, given the manner in which it was given away. Pontus somehow seeing a boot go flying high in to the sky as he tracked Mason Bennett. The Swedish international unable to keep pace, or balance, with uneven footing and the ball was delivered in Jed Wallace who made no mistake. You wouldn’t with that much space.

The defending from Brentford absolute schoolboy for the opener, regardless of the Swede’s footwear faux-pas. Surely one for Thomas to review on the whiteboard when we all reconvene at Jersey Road. 

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Pontus’ shoelace.

It was a defence that had already seen Rico Henry replaced just three minutes in. Dominic Thompson coming off the bench to cover our unsung hero. Something clearly not right – whether picked up in the warm up or earlier. Regardless, it was an opening five minutes you’d happily forget about. Many following on I-player not even watching as yet. Several reboots were needed to update the somewhat random commentary (again no reflection on Mark of Marcus) as it switched between Millwall’s effort and our own. The lack of pictures also somewhat disconcerting. Once again, a simple solution (once you realised) that Safari and the EFL app do not make happy bedfellows. Chrome all the way. After last week’s ‘credit card’ farce, a frustrating start to what should have been a super simple process. 

Regardless, we had it all to do now. And that was just being able to watch the game. But with the challenge of grappling with technology overcome it was onwards and upwards. Mark Burridge was coming loud and clear, the pictures were sharp and Brentford were pushing. Surely the Millwall goal would soon be breached. Sure enough, with little more than 20 minutes on the click we were level. Ivan Toney hauled down in the box as he waited for a Dalsgaard cross to plop onto his head.

But if the opportunity to score his first league goal was denied, he made no mistake from the spot. Ivan’s approach to the ball was more amble than run up. Not even the Brentford yoof element are this casual (that Stone Island won’t wear itself)  but it made no difference to the result. The ball calmly stroked into the bottom corner, as close to the post as was possible. The precision of the shot, over power, giving Bialkowski in the Millwall goal no chance. 

1-1. Over an hour to go. Surely one of the teams would kick on? It didn’t happen. Both had chances and, being honest, it was probably the hosts who had the better of them. Mahlon Romeo hitting a first half thunderbolt against the post from the corner of the box with the diving Luke Daniels beaten and then Tom Bradshaw offered the freedom of the box before steering wide in the second. For the Bees, a lot of threat but no real cast iron chance. Benrahma made his way on for the final quarter hour and played one delightful ball towards Toney but, alas, it was cleared.

It’s was interesting that Thomas used Sergi Canos to make way for the return of the mercurial Algerian. Even Mrs Bruzon was amongst those questioning why it hadn’t been Emiliano as the one pulled off. Still, that’s why Thomas is the head coach – he’s the one paid to read the game and make the tough calls.

We’ve picked up another point and, as ever, all the conjecture in the world and ‘if onlys’ don’t make a difference to the table at full time. Millwall probably feel they should have had all three points. Brentford will be happy with one but on another day we might have taken the lot. 

Still, I’m happy to be picking up the points. The trips to St.Andrews or The Den are never pleasant experiences. We’ve got them out the way early and are climbing the table. Look at the bottom for some context.

Wayne Rooney’s Derby County ™, Nottingham Forest and Wycombe Wanderers only have one goal and nil points between them after their opening three. Sheffield Wednesday’s start of -12pts the only thing keeping that trio off the bottom and even then something being reeled in at a rate of knots by the Owls.

Ten games in is that real marker of form. Of who will be the teams to beat and who are the division whipping boys. Certainly, I’d had Forest in the former category at the start of the campaign. These are still very early days but it’ll be interesting to see how they bed in or whether the ever sartorial Sabri Lamouchi will fall out of fashion.

Next up is the visit of Fulham L in the League Cup. A somewhat unusual Thursday afternoon, 5.30pm kick off on Sky Sports. As a consequence, the Championship game with Preston has been shunted back to Sunday 3pm.

I’d only expect a raft of changes for the visit of the Cottagers. This 100mph start to the fixture list will be killing players and perhaps the ever present Rico Henry was the first victim of this. Is it time to wrap up Sergi in the cotton wool and cup-tie Said ?

Whoever Thomas starts with, my hope for that one is the pundits and commentary team don’t go into pay-off ‘verload’ . Yes. We know. It happened. Move along now. It’s all abut the future. History belongs in the past. So to speak. 

See you there, Thursday. Well not Lionel Road but on the couch. Here’s to the chance of reve… D’oh !

Nick Bruzon

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

13 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.

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

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

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

Enjoy.

Simon Moore famously went to Cardiff beach

Nick Bruzon

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

12 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Raya – still a Bee. For now.

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

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

New season – different model rolling off the forecourt

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

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

Rasmus models his new look

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

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

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

Enjoy

New season – new lucky shirt

Nick Bruzon

Just what the doctor ordered? Possibly.

11 Sep

Ollie Watkins has gone. Aston Villa his new home. Brentford move on. What does the weekend promise….? Birmingham City. Birmingham City. Owned by a per… well, we don’t sing that one any more. Things have changed at the top of the club. Then again, we won’t be singing anything for a while. The Bees travel to St. Andrews tomorrow for a Championship opener which, save for our dozens of journalists, will be bereft of fans. Much like the conclusion to the previous campaign. 

There will be no fans an no noise this time around

Given the ever evolving advice about Corona Virus (and ‘advice’ is a word used in the loosest sense), one can’t see that changing anytime soon. Oh, good. More couch time at home watching the games on i-follow rather than nail biting away days to those far flung pubs that are visited once a year (subject to cup ties).  Just what the doctor ordered. And this one is on Sky, meaning that per my non-Sky sources, even the online service won’t work. Now TV, a pub or a social bubble are your options. Assuming we are still allowed to meet some of our friends this weekend? 

Anyway, the point being it promises to be a very different start to the season compared to normal. I can’t see anything significant changing any time soon, either. Talk of experiments at allowing fans into grounds seems diametrically opposed to the tighter rules about gathering that come in to play from Monday. It’s all a bit underwhelming now. Everybody well sick of this (no pun intended) and longing for the day we can do something as simple as attend a game of football with our friends. Dreams about filling Lionel Road nothing more than that in the short to mid term.

Cripes. I turn 50 next month. There had been a lot of thought about doing the Preston or Coventry games in style. Of going hell for leather with friends. Now, we’ll be lucky to watch it with more than six of us in the same room. On the plus side, it does make up for there fact I don’t actually have more than six friends who’d want to celebrate.

Anyway, We digress. I’m tired.The dawn of a new season is upon us and that should be an exciting time. There have to be some positives and, of course, there’s always light on the horizon. Benrahma and Raya are still Bees. Will either start / feature  for Brentford tomorrow? Is Luke Daniels our new skipper or will Pontus step straight back in to the team and exert control of the armband?  Can Ivan Toney fill the boots left empty by Ollie Watkins following his move to Aston Villa. Only Thomas Frank knows that one and whilst I can’t see anyway in for the mercurial Algerian, as much through his lack of participation in the pre-season games as any transfer related wrapping in cotton wool (“Hello? Matthew? It’s Dean Smith here…”).

That first team selection is, as we have said many times already, going to be telling. The window has a long way to run – October this year – and the cramped fixture list means we could be well into the campaign by the time our final squad is locked down. Then again, our  directors of Football have their heads screwed on. Time has more than proven that and so whilst it’s easy to panic, gritting teeth and trying to stay calm has to be the way forward. An infinitely tougher task for those of us on the outside looking in but that’s part of being a football fan. Especially at Brentford.

As for our opponents, they’ve got Aitor Karanka in charge and no longer have a number 22 shirt, having retired it after club icon17 year old (is that compulsory still?) Jude Bellingham moved to Borussia Dortmund. With the flair gone and the former Middlesbrough man at the helm, expect a more robust than ever approach from our hosts. Their squad may not be ten times better than it was last season but no doubt Harlee Dean, Maxime Colin, Josh McEachran (inj) and now Jon Toral will all have a point to prove. We’ve more old boys there than a school reunion. Even Aston Villa only have three (although the dream I had last night about Jota – get your minds out of the gutter – perhaps only two).

And Toral must score….

It should be super exciting. And to an extent it is. Yet it would be a lie to say this has the the overwhelming buzz of previous campaign launches. This is nothing to do with ‘that’ result at the W place in North London but more because it all feels so detached still. So disjointed. So close to being awesome yet, instead, we’re locked out of our new home with more of the same to follow. I-follow and Sky coverage ARE great but watching football on TV, being played out in front of empty seats, just doesn’t have the same allure as normal. 

Of course it doesn’t. Its an ersatz replacement but one which will hopefully line us up for when we do get the chance to return. Whenever that may be and however that may look. 

Once the table starts to take shape and the games begin then hopefully the usual positive feelings will return. A win on the road will be the perfect tonic. See you on the sofa for Saturday brunch.

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

Nick Bruzon

Needless to say, he had the last laugh.

10 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, as ever.

You can read about all this sort of stuff once more

Nick Bruzon

The Brentford BMW has a new M as Fulham are flayed. Again.

21 Jun

Well that was just magnificent. It wasn’t the same as being there, let’s not pretend otherwise, but Brentford were nothing short of incredible as they destroyed Fulham at a more atmospheric than usual Craven Cottage on Saturday lunchtime. Benrahma and Marcondes doing their thing in Jota time to send the TV audience wild and silence the home team’s tannoy. Scott Parker was left looking as though he’d caught Alexsander Mitrovic red-handed going through his fridge whilst one can only imagine the scenes that would have played out had we been in the away end for this most incredible of denouements. I believe what the kids would call ‘limbs’. Even Pontus was smiling at full time. Not a typo. His former club, Leeds United, have already been displaced at the top of the table and the gap to our next opponents, West Bromwich Albion, reeled in by two points.

Screenshot 2020-06-21 at 07.59.55

The smile says it all

Imagine choosing not to watch that. What else were you going to do on a Coronavirus Saturday lunchtime? Online shopping? Cleaning the house? Or sit in your social bubbles with a few drinks to see if the impossible might become possible. Could Brentford pick up where we left off in March and keep up the push for ‘automatic’?

Well, a 2-0 win for the Bees means we are now eight points off West Brom and Leeds (albeit Bielsa’s boys have a a game in hand at Cardiff today) with the Baggies due to visit Griffin Park on Friday night under the lights. That one’s going to be huge but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s the small matter of destroying Fulham to talk about first.

Brentford took the game to our hosts from the off. This, despite Thomas Frank confirming that Bryan Mbeumo would be missing out as the individual who had tested positive for Coronavirus. The player has shown no symptoms but is self-isolating at present whilst the rest of the squad had all come back negative on their subsequent tests. Take care Bryan and see you soon. But if his absence might have felt like a blow, it wasn’t impacting the team. Tarique Fosu stepped in and the hairy Bees (Benrahma’s bouff, Dasilva’s beard and Jensen’s top knot – oh dear) went for it.

Both keepers were in good form as the hosts, in the unusual situation of being  roared on…by their p.a. system…. found a way back in to the game. Being honest, David Raya kept us well in it at times whilst they probably had the better of the first half chances. Despite our possession, drive and one close effort from Josh, it was Decordova-Reid who hit the bar whilst Knockaert and Mitrovic both came close. The later even found the back of the net in the second half although was correctly adjudged to have been well offside. The linesman’s flag being lowered with almost slow-motion accuracy to chalk off the rotund striker’s effort.  

And with it, their chance was gone. The arrival of Shandon Baptiste and Emiliano Marcondes breathing new life into Brentford as we kept on pushing. Break followed break until, with the game well into the clock 88th minute, Emiliano played a ball across the box which Benrahma guided home from close in. Yessssss!!! The scream from our house probably loud enough to wake the dead. It was a noise replicated across this part of West London as the Bees moved into a (surely) unassailable position.

No word of a lie, there was calm in our house. This is not the Brentford of old. The Brentford that cock it up late to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Thomas Frank’s brand of football is part Kevin Keegan (minus the meltdown), part confidence and a huge dollop of faith in his players. We kept going. If the ball is up the other end then the opposition can’t score. And sure enough, they couldn’t. Fulham left very much in second place as Marcondes wrapped up the points, and his own man-of-the-match award, late into stoppage time with a cool finish. Not bad for twenty minutes work.

Fulham were broken. Battered. Down and very much out. They retain third place, for now, although have the Bees breathing right down their neck and a trip to Leeds United next up. Either way, something has to give there. With the visit of West Bromwich Albion to Griffin Park taking place the night before, that Elland Road game could turn out to have even more significance than already. Especially if Cardiff City can pull a favour out of the bag today when Bielsa and co resume their own campaign.

I didn’t expect West Brom to drop points yesterday. I mean, Birmingham City? But it happened and that’s a dirty favour we’ll gratefully accept. These early games are going to be critical as teams rediscover there form and fitness. Accept the gifts whilst you can and enjoy our own moment. Beating a team above us in the table, whoever they are, is no small feat. Don’t let the derby nature of the game take away what we achieved. Likewise, Blues at the Hawthorns. No matter how it may feel.

Screenshot 2020-06-21 at 08.00.30

…Our squad is ten times better than yours ever was…

Yet for now it would be trite not to focus on our own performance. A never give up reminder that football is a 90 minute game. Football is a squad game and if you keep going to the very end, rewards can come.

I’d love to have been there. No question. It was a quite amazing finish to a fixture that always brings out the best in Brentford. Everybody from Jota and Stuart Dallas to Neal Maupay and even Brian Guest have written their own particular chapter in the Brentford- Fulham story. To that you can now add Emiliano Marcondes. The BMW found a new M when it mattered.

Screenshot 2020-06-21 at 08.00.09

We can’t celebrate in person but this was the next best thing

I’m desperate to attend on Friday but it’s not going to happen. Sadly. I’m not alone. Instead, it’s another shift in front of the TV and the genuine belief that the Bees will pick up where we left off. Yesterday was such a huge morale boost. Something that was quite evident in our own post-match Zoom chat aswell as from dipping in and out of social media. Wherever you went, there we were celebrating. And why not?

Roll on Friday night. Football Is back. It is very different and it is very echoy. But it also has Brentford winning and foe me, Clive, that alone is cause for celebration. Four derbies this season and four wins. Kings of West London. I’ll take that.

See you Friday. In spirit. 

0X-LMIjO.jpg-small

Nick Bruzon