Tag Archives: Blackburn

Rams await as Sergi speaks out.

16 Mar

Tuesday night. Another round of fixtures at the business end of the Championship table. The weekend played out with Brentford seeing our own win on the road matched by away wins for Swansea, Barnsley and Watford on Saturday. Norwich picking up three points the following day. Now, we’ve another chance to see if things can change around any. For the Bees, a trip to Wayne Rooney’s Derby County awaits. The Hornets are at Rotherham whilst Steve Cooper’s side face a trip to Bournemouth. Themselves, once looking nailed on for automatic and now trying to play catch up to the play-off pack. How quickly things can change. How quickly they can return with a few wins on the bounce. Easier said than done, of course. Elsewhere, Sergi Canos has spoken to Sky Sports about his own return from injury and the social media abuse being handed out this season by some of our followers.

Sergi got 3 out of 3 against Cardiff City

First up, Brentford face Derby County at 7pm this evening. The Rams are very much at the wrong end of the table compared to recent seasons and whilst relegation is probably not a subject on the agenda, they’ll want to start picking up a few points to make sure. Should Birmingham City start winning a few Derby may find themselves sucked in once Rotherham’s mammoth four games in hand play out. Stranger things have happened.

They’ll need to start finding the back of the net though. Saturday’s home loss to Millwall was their fourth game in a row without troubling the scorers. The sort of stat that always makes me angsty. I’ve been following Brentford far too long to take anything of that nature for granted. Following football far too long, to be fair. Complacency is the mother of all f*ck ups and we’ll need to be at our very best tonight. Pride Park never an easy place to go, regardless of how well our opponents are playing. The Championship a division where anyone can beat anyone. Something we’ve said many, many times. Mainly because it’s true. All being well a philosophy Watford and Swansea City will be on the receiving end of this evening. Much as we need to focus on ourselves only, let’s not pretend we won’t be keeping an eye on those other results.

The good news is the Bees played out of their skins to beat Blackburn Rovers on Friday night. Rock solid at the back and dominant in midfield. Winston Reid and Ethan Pinnock (a player I saw described afterwards as a ‘heading machine’) locking it up in the CB positions. The combination of Vitaly Janelt and the returning Christian Norgaard made the midfield a dream to behold. Ivan Toney doing what Ivan Toney does. Scoring. It was the sort of game that might have seen us pegged back or even beaten in days gone by. This time around, we held our nerve and took three crucial points. More of the same tonight would do very nicely, thank you. Here’s hoping everyone remains fit as, if so, I can’t see Thomas changing anything up. Sergi Canos the obvious choice to come in but given how the team played, I’d imagine he’ll have to be content with a place on the bench and trying to make his usual high energy impact.

Ah, Sergi Canos. What can you say? Well, if we’re on these pages its only going to be positive stuff. Or, at least, fair.  Then again, any regular reader (should such a concept exist) will know that. Aside from being our Harry’s favourite player he’s one of those you can’t help but love. The passion, the desire, the team spirit. The goals. The speed. The enthusiasm. The love for Brentford and our fans. Sure, he’s had his off days but who hasn’t ? The season has been a long one and players must be knackered. Moreso coming off the delayed end to the previous campaign. For Sergi, there was also that injury suffered at Nottingham Forest that kept him out for the best part of 2019/20. It’s amazing to think that at only 24 years old he’s fast closing in on his 200th Brentford appearance. 

Yet all this hasn’t stopped a quite bizarre hate campaign, bullying even, from a sub-strata of apparent fans on Twitter this season. Criticism and objective comment is one thing but this has been nothing short of consistent bile. Poison. Keyboard warriors at their very worst. We all know who they are. Their crud keeps popping up. You can try to avoid but still it appears. Frankly, I’ll call it out anyway. We can pretend it isn’t going on but it is. See also: FrankOut. Err…..?? Our team have been on an upward trajectory all season, everyone wants the same thing – promotion – and moreso after the frustration of how last season played out. So how does a ‘special’ group think they can help? By putting the boot in to one of the players trying to achieve that goal. Go figure. And sure enough, Sergi has seen it.

His interview with Dan Long on the SkySports website is here. Everyone should read this. Regardless your opinion on the player. WE all have favourites. We all have players whom, perhaps, we may inwardly groan when we see their name on the team sheet. My word, some of those to have worn the red and white over the years…. Cripes, it makes your hair curl to think back. Yet despite all of this we’ve supported them through thick and thin. Certainly, at the time. No matter how frustrating it was. And that’s been the (relatively) crap ones. The sad thing being Sergi’s actually ‘any good’. Yet the lemmings have had it in for him. His own comments sum it up..  

Normally, when you are not injured, you are playing and you manage that criticism during the season, but because I was going from zero to 100, it did affect me a little bit because it wasn’t only coming back from injury, it was also handling that pressure and that criticism from everyone. It was quite shocking because it was all at once. It didn’t help me, I’m not going to lie.

Perhaps it’ll subside. Perhaps just one person might change their choice of words or think before committing comment to social media. Might also consider the mental health of players. Just because they have the dream job and the public eye doesn’t make them immune to a constant barrage of abuse. Be kind, everyone. Would you say it to his face? Well, we all know the answer to that. 

I’m glad Sergi has said his thing. It’s a shame he has had to but it’s nothing we haven’t been banging about for months on these pages. Now, perhaps, everyone can just shut the heck up and back our boys. All of them. There’s 11 games to go and every point, every goal, is going to be crucial. Starting tonight at Derby County.

I’d love to be there in person. Instead, it’ll be time spent on the sofa with Mark Burridge. Metaphoriocally speaking. Sky also have it on the red button. See you there. In spirit.

Amazing to think this was 2015 yet he’s only 24

Nick Bruzon

A very beautiful, ugly win. They all count though.

13 Mar

Well, well, well. I’d open with a comment on our league position but fear some of us might get upset. DM’s are open hun. Hope all is ok. Instead, let’s look at the result. Brentford beating Blackburn Rovers 1-0 on a Friday night capped with another ice-cool penalty finish from Ivan Toney. A game in which we dodged more than a few bullets, no question, but perhaps could have scored more ourself. A game marred by a horrific looking injury to Bradley Dack after the Rovers’ man almost caught David Raya cold when going for an opportunistic steal. You could see the upset on Tony Mowbray’s face, obliged to talk to Sky at full time when it was clear his mind was only on his player. A game where there was no irony lost in the fact our winner came from the penalty spot whilst, being honest, our hosts  should have had one of their own awarded following a clumsy challenge by Mads Bech Sørensen on Ryan Nyambe. I’ve seen them given, Clive, and that was definitely one that got away. Given the run of ropey spot kick decisions enjoyed by Swansea City in recent weeks, perhaps it was time one went our way. No matter how harsh it was on the opposition. With the Swans at Luton this afternoon and Cardiff City knowing that defeat of Watford could see them enter the play-off positions, it’s all set for an intriguing Saturday.

First up though, events at Ewood Park. The excitement was palpable from prior to kick off with the selection of both Christian Nørgaard AND Vitaly Janelt in midfield. Finally. The moment we’d all been waiting and my word, wasn’t the return of our great Dane a joy to behold? He was magnificent from the off. Janelt likewise. The question of whether they could play together answered in emphatic style with attack broken down and passes being pinged forward with abandon. Widemen Fosu and Mbeumo playing just as fluently to take the game by the scruff of the neck. The former earning the spot kick after racing a beautiful pass from the ever creative Toney and being felled in the box. Up walked Ivan with his trademark approach. His trademark precision. His trademark goal. 1-0 up and only ten minutes gone.

No words needed

Brentford pushed on and pushed up. Possession dominated. Janelt and Jensen with the best of the follow up chances. The game in control but the knowledge that we’ve seen so many of these lost in the past always at the back of the mind. A second half that could have seen it go ether way. One finger tip save from Raya denying Dack when it seemed the ball would surely sneak inside the far post. Ivan Toney with a wonderful effort from just inside the Rovers half almost saw goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski lobbed when off his line. Substitute Sergi Canos unleashing a piledriver within moments of coming on that Kaminski did well to turn away. Marcus Forss perhaps guilty of missing the chance to put the game to bed and avoid us enduring those painful last few minutes of squeaky bum time. That’s before we mention the two penalty shouts for Rovers.

Mads has been very, very lucky. I’m still not sure how it wasn’t given but, you know what, I’ll take the decision. No matter how hard done by Blackburn will surely feel. Match referee Geoff Eltringham at his most random. Just as we’ve said Swansea would, obviously, accept everything that has gone their way in recent games of course we’d do the same. Move along. Nothing to see here. As for the Dack shout, I’m not so sure that was as cast iron as our opposition make out. It almost seems a secondary discussion given the injury suffered in the subsequent coming together. What seemed innocuous as it happened soon became clear to be anything but. The Blackburn manager confirming at full time that Dack was in a bad way with suspected cruciate ligament damage. Sometimes, our beautiful game can be anything but. Moreso given the same player had only just returned in December from a similar injury. Kudos to Tony Mowbray for keeping it together with a camera shoved in his face. He clearly wanted be anywhere but there and his words really emphasised the bond shared with his players.      

For Brentford, three points earned. The sort of game that could have been an absolute potato skin has ended with all three points coming back to West London. The return of Christian Nørgaard something that cannot be under estimated. Cannot be lauded sufficiently. He, Vitaly and Ivan were immense. They all were though. Winston Reid and Henrik Dalsgaard brutally tough. A rock solid Bees team able to call on both strength and skill. No pushovers. The top end of the table calling. A trip to Wayne Rooney’s Derby County on Tuesday night and then Nottingham Forest visit next weekend before international ‘break’. Let’s just keep Christian away from the Denmark squad, this time.

The rest of the weekend fixtures start to play out at lunchtime. Luton  – Swansea is first up at 12.15pm with Watford going in the traditional 3pm slot. Any favours grateful accepted. None expected. This promotion race will go all the way to the line. Brentford are currently in second place. That’s a fact and certainly nothing to be ashamed about. Here’s hoping we’re still there after game 46. If we can achieve what Thomas Frank described at full time as “A very beautiful, ugly win” then anything is possible. Starting at Derby…..

Nick Bruzon 

I’ve seen them given, Clive. Just not like this.

10 Mar

Finally. Games in hand have played out. If anything, Brentford and Swansea City are now the ones with the opportunity of playing catch up. Watford the team looking over their shoulders. Current occupants of second place in a Championship promotion race that is going to run and run. Last night’s 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers meaning the Swans are now three points ahead of the Bees with both teams having played 34 of our 46 games. Only goal difference keeping them behind The Hornets who have, of course, played that extra fixture. Whilst, personally speaking, I’m a firm believer in the ethos that points in the bag are better than games in hand there is extra comfort to be gained by the fact that our goal difference currently is clear of both our main rivals. Hopefully we’re all a bit less stressed now. Blips happen to the best of teams. Even in the top flight Liverpool are turning Fortress Anfield into an all you can score buffet for visiting teams whilst normally indestructible Manchester City ‘lost’ a game at the weekend (not a typo). 

I’d rather be second than fourth. No question. Prefer 66 points to 63. Only a moron would say otherwise. Yet the doomsday scenario being played out by so many after our own  disaster showing against Coventry City has failed to materialise. Swansea having three games in hand at that point and the potential to go 8 points clear should they win them all. They didn’t. Instead, were humped soundly by Bristol City and Huddersfield Town. Turned one point into three c/o of 96th minute penalty awards that were straight out of Dodge City. Fishier than Michael Fish eating fish and chips. Then, last night, another one awarded although this time in the first half but when a goal down. A penalty that was as soft as any other we’ve seen awarded recently. I’ve seen them given, Clive. Just not with this regularity. Alan McInally reporting for Sky Sports aghast at what he’d just seen after Andre Ayew made it four goals from the spot in as many games.

Penalty to Swansea. Awarded whilst listening to pop music’s Dodgy

Good luck to them. As we said before, Brentford wouldn’t turn down the opportunity if offered. We’d be right on the spot, trusting Ivan Toney to do his thing. That so many have been awarded , and in such controversial circumstances, is of course going to frustrate. That’s the polite phrase. Shonky refereeing to those looking in. The EFL powerless, impotent, silent.  We can’t change that. We still have plenty of opportunity to wrestle control of our destiny. 12 more games. That’s a lot of time and a lot of points. Even if we need to do it from open play. Err, Bryan Mbeumo at Norwich anyone…? Besides, I’m still firmly of the belief that this one is going to go all the way to the wire. If for no other reason than Watford visit Brentford then host Swansea in their final two games. 

All being well, things will be a lot clearer by then. If the recent run of LLL was stressful for some think how that final brace of fixtures is going to be? That’s a level of angst I don’t want to be part of although can only presume things will head that way. None of the teams around us will drop that many points between now and then.  At least we got back on track with those defeats of Sheff Wed and Stoke. Next up Blackburn Rovers on Friday.

Cripes, that trip to Ewood Park is going to be tough. By all accounts they should have won last night. We all know our own injury situation at the back. That said, we all know our own goal scoring potential going forward. The choice being faced by Thomas Frank over who from Tariqe Fosu, Bryan Mbeumo and Sergi Canos to start with a tough one. A nice one, I suppose. For me (straps on tin hat) the later had been the most consistent performer this season from the three although nobody could deny the game against Norwich City was one where he was at anything than his best. I still stand by the fact that the abuse he came under was way out of line and totally out of order. If nothing else, there were enough others who went awol in a game against the runaway league leaders. But we’ve done that one to death. 

Brentford may well lose again this season. Sadly. That’s football. As noted earlier, even Manchester City got a nil return on Sunday. It happens. Liverpool have hit such a rough patch of home form that even Fulham picked up three points over the weekend. Swansea City have fluctuated between whipping boys and relentless winners over the last five games. The only consistent thing about the beautiful game is its inconsistency. Nothing can be predicted. Although if everyone could just stop awarding Steve Cooper’s team penalties, that would be nice. As a side note,  those bemoaning Barnsley inflicting one of our own defeats in the blip period may care to notice the Tykes now sitting in the play-off spots. Talk about a surge up the blindside. 

We can talk about others in the same breath as we do ourselves. That’s not obsession. That’s a fact. That’s what makes football so exciting. So addictive. Delivers the agony and ecstasy in equal measure. We can be at our best yet still be undone by outside influence. Be ropey as but nick the points and then see our rivals do everything but score. Of course we have to focus on Brentford as a priority. Of course we shouldn’t get overly upset about what the others do, as long as we continue to pick up the points. Yet with our destinies so inter twined, it’s hard not to look at the other games with microscopic interest. Luton v Swansea on Saturday and Cardiff v Watford will be two such games. Moreso with our own game taking place on Friday night. Fingers crossed we’ll be back in automatic by the time our nearest and dearest kick off. Fingers crossed….

Nick Bruzon  

Some humble pie for our Christmas puddings. What a way to show them three fingers.

27 Dec

It’s one thing doing it in front if your fans at Brentford against Blackburn Rovers (yes, we did have supporters allowed in for that brief moment!) but can you do it in Cardiff on a wet and windy Boxing Day afternoon with no support? The answer was an emphatic YES. Not once, not twice but three times as Sergi Canos fired home a sensational second-half hat-trick to secure the points for the Bees. Each goal was class. Each goal knocking a further nail in the coffin of the social media haters who’ve spent the last few months talking sh8t about, and to, a player who had been feeling his way back from that horrific injury picked up at Forest last season. With Bournemouth next up (one of the few teams still above us) the excitement can only continue.

Sticking three fingers up to the critics? Official shared this one at full-time

Brentford are now 15 unbeaten in all competitions. One point off second placed Swansea City. A squad carefully negotiating their way through December’s fixture pile up that has also seen us reach the semi-finals of the league cup. We’re five points better off than this time last season (a game also marked by a defeat of Cardiff City) and have the Championship’s leading goal scorer. It all makes somewhat of a mockery of the Frank Out nonsense  – something which, like the Sergi bile – had been emanating from the same sources and had gone equally quiet yesterday. Even if the picking of Marcondes and non-selection of Tarique Fosu and Josh Dasilva caused certain supporters’ little brains to fuse. My word, its almost as if having to play two games a week for 7 (seven) weeks might cause individuals to need a rest.

It could have been different, of course. A first half which was as brutal as the weather ended in a storm of angst. With no shots having been recorded on target, Will Vaulks changed that from inside his own half. A hoof up pitch – caught perfectly, to be fair – turned from speculation to part Nayim, part Paul Evans with a dash of David Beckham thrown in for good measure. David Raya could only back pedal but, alas, not furiously enough (is there any other way to back pedal?)  as the ball sailed over his head and into the back of the net. Urghhh. Groan. Your exclamation of despair may vary.

He caught it well

As the players trooped off and supporters hit the fridge for refreshment, the feeling of a dire second-half to come was overwhelming. We’re talking about a Neil Harris team. A side sure to set out their stall and carry on grinding it out as they had in the first. What we got , instead, was the Canos show.

His first came just minutes in and was about as incredible as they come. If Vaulks was all about the length, Sergi’s proved that technique and placement is just as important when summoning up the spectacular. With his initial shot bouncing back into play he caught it once more as the ball fell out of the sky , almost on top of him. Yet, somehow, the Spaniard was able to angle his body to catch it first time and return straight back from where it came with interest. A rising, then dipping volley that cleared the defence and the goalkeeper to level the scores. This sweetest of strikes, from outside the box, with a trajectory to send Vaulk’s earlier effort into the back of next week.

eye on the ball.. eye on the ball.. eye on the b… BOOM

It got better, though. Little over an hour gone and we were ahead. The Spaniard picking up the ball ion the left and waltzing through the Cardiff backline. Beating defenders with abandon and waiting to pick his moment before firing low into the bottom corner. 2-1 Brentford. Different technique, same class. Something Thomas Frank would describe at full time as, “Another wonder goal, while the third one was maybe a cross but don’t tell anyone”.

Yes, the third. Well it looked pretty good to me. If that was meant as a cross then all well and good. Perhaps. But it ended up in the back of the net and they all count. Due reward for a player who had been on fire. Not just these three but several other efforts that could easily have seen Sergi surpassing ‘that’ Mike Grella performance against BournemouthInstead, he’ll need to be content with the ‘praise’ from those who had previously been slating him. Destroying him. Abusing him. What a response to those pudding brained fools. Again!

For Canos, a half-hour hat-trick earned in the toughest of conditions. Not just the weather but the brutal approach of Cardiff who resorted to predicted type. Vitaly Janelt in particular being targeted for cynical assault. IF you can’t win fair, win foul being the mantra. Yet not even that worked, despite a late consolation goal via a wicked deflection that left things close for the final fifteen. Yet there was to be no collapse. No throwing away of points. A steely defence, bolstered by the return of Pontus Jansson, doing their thing in style to close out the game. The clock further run down with late, late substitutions . Marcus Forss and Josh stretching their legs. Both sure to be used for longer when Bournemouth visit on Wednesday.

All that’s to come. For today, Sunday morning, one can only admire the drive and determination from not just serge but the entire team. This was a hard fought win, no question.  You could see from the smiles at full time and the celebrations in the dressing room just what this one meant. My word, its almost like Thomas actually knows what he’s doing. Like having a strong squad to pick from and showing faith in his players is a sound tactic. Who’d have thought it? Thank goodness he, not social media, are the ones picking the team and the tactics. Fifteen unbeaten a spectacular run that will see one of its toughest tests on Wednesday. A real six-pointer in the ongoing pursuit of a place at the top of the table. Brentford are flying and I can’t wait for this one.

Until then, though, perhaps let’s just watch those goals once more…….

Nick Bruzon

Move over Cameron Diaz. Bees face their own ‘Bullseye’ moment.

15 Dec

Easy come , easy go. Not so much the latest Tier 3 restrictions imposed in London which means Brentford fans miss out on the chance to visit Lionel Road for the Reading, Newcastle United and beyond games. Urghhh. More, the world of celebrity support. With the Bees due at Watford for a crucial top six six-pointer this evening, none other than England cricket legend Monty Panesar popped up last night to pledge his support for Thomas Frank’s team. Could we have another superstar to join the ranks of Dean Gaffney, Rhino from the Quo, Adam Bluetone and Natalie Sawyer? Or is this merely a short term love affair, given Monty’s apparent support of Luton Town?

I’m all good with this. Fully fledged transfer or short-term support at the expense of the rivals. Luton and Watford have never been the best of friends, he says politely. Personally speaking, as a Brentford fan there’s no finer sight than watching FulhamL or Quarter Pound of Rubbish imploding. Of seeing Birmingham City self-destruct (Dean o.g. “Apologies to those who travelled. The fans deserve better” ) or Leeds United fall apart. Again. Whomever it is inflicting the fatal blow. So if Monty wants to  follow suit and give us an extra cheer, regardless of whether his motive is genuine affiliation or interim support, then go for it.  Half and half scarf, anyone?

Monty is a Bee. Perhaps for one night only?

And we’ll need all the support we can get. Thomas Frank used his press conference to highlight the challenge presented by Watford. “It is a top six game against one of the relegated sides who have transitioned well. They are one point off the automatic promotion spots so it is going to be a very tough task. In terms of conceding goals, they have the second best defence. They defend extremely well and play with an experience that makes it very difficult to beat.

As ever, there was that wonderful turn of phrase. The performance of Vitaly Janelt, fast becoming a fan favourite, was noted by Thomas who described how, “He has hit the ground sprinting” but those of you fed up with substitutions better look away.. “It is about trying to balance between getting the core in the team right while still freshening it up in some positions. We have to use the subs well because freshness will be a big part of success throughout the season”. Not my words. The words of Thomas Frank.

And we all know why. So get used to it. Tonight won’t be easy, that’s for sure. But it is one of those where the opportunity is wonderful. A chance for Brentford to leap frog Watford in pursuit of an ‘automatic’ place. We’re no pushovers ourself, of course. 11 games unbeaten and Ivan Toney scoring for fun. The defence generally locking things out game on game whilst the win at Nottingham Forest on Saturday saw attacking intent of the highest order. Brentford will present as big a challenge to our rivals as they do to us. 

If only we could get in to see it. The trip to Vicarage Road always an enjoyable one (aside from trying to get out the car park at full time). Alas, visiting fans are nothing more than a flight of fancy at present. A pipe dream up there with seeing Cameron Diaz wearing a Brentford shirt. 

Even home support has been knocked on the head as quickly as it was dangled in front of us. A two game carrot cruelly snatched away as London moves back in to a Tier 3 restriction from Wednesday. Those fortunate few (4,000 fans and 200 directors) to have been present for Blackburn, Derby and QPR respectively now back on the Follow or Sky Sports – as is the case tonight, with an 8pm kick off. Those lined up for Reading on Saturday seeing the opportunity now denied them. Even worse, the visit of Newcastle United for the league cup quarter-final on Tuesday also impacted. Another to be played out in front of no more than Matthew Benham, the board and a handful of journalists. Urghhh. Frustration, he wrote.

And then Sergi popped up to say his thing on Twitter. Positivity coursing through his veins, as ever.  “You really made a difference when you all came to the stadium. We will miss you but we need you behind us for the games coming up! You can still make the difference from home. POSITIVE and TOGETHER! Come on @BrentfordFC

From the seat in my kitchen, I’m struggling to match him this morning. Having finally seen supporters inside Lionel Road it felt as though we had that extra lift. As though things were heading back to some small semblance of normality. Now we’re back to square one.

Backing the team is no issue. As ever. Being there to do it in person a real highlight. Now it has been taken away once more. A crappy year getting crappier. Much like that moment at the end of Bullsye. “We hate to do this to you”, Jim Bowen would say (oh no you don’t), “but we’ve got to show you. Look at what you could have won…”. 

Rather than a speedboat it was a chance to watch an actual game of football.

Look at what you could have won…..

Hey. I’m the lucky one. Part of the 4,200 who have been afforded the opportunity. I get that and am truly grateful for being amongst the first fans in. I can’t begin to imagine how awful it must have been the last few days, knowing you had a ticket for Reading but also hearing the news updates and waiting for the inevitable axe to fall. Gutting. Yet even watching a game on TV with the fans present has felt ten hundred times better than seeing it played out in front of an empty stadium. Now we are back to square one.

As Thomas himself said, “We are sad we can’t have fans for the next few games. I can’t wait until we are done with Coronavirus but we will carry on”.

Too true. Until then, its back to the sofa. Sitting there, in spirit at least, with the rest of our fans and, perhaps, Monty Panesar. Metaphorically speaking.

Roll on 8pm See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Frank out? You’re having a laugh. Another masterclass in squad use sees Bees win. Again.

13 Dec

2019/20 – After 18 games Brentford had picked up 27 points and were sitting 8th in the Championship table. We’d just gone down 1-0 at Blackburn Rovers. Fast forward a year and we’re 6th after the same number of games. The points total four better on 31. The Bees returning home following a 3-1 tonking of Nottingham Forest. Ivan Toney clear of Adam Armstrong in the race for the golden boot. His late strike blowing the beautiful curler from Josh Dasilva clean out of the water in any attempt to find goal of the day. All this, at a time we’re having to rest/rotate the squad as often as we’re playing games, given the two a week schedule we’re currently racing through. With the televised trip to Watford next up on Tuesday, be sure of more to come. Likewise, be sure of more moaning. Seriously! The announcement of yesterday’s team the latest place where the more unhappy element of our fanbase came to the fore in the replies. Frank out. Yeah!! 

Some of those replies…. !!??

We talked about this after the game Blackburn game. We’ve a club here doing so much for their fans. Look at the way we’ve rallied around Jamie Powell and those before him who have found themselves in the most unimagineable situations. A club doing so much in the local community.  A club set up for ongoing growth. A club that is better placed this season (points/table) than at any other time in our Championship life. A club that don’t have an unlimited supply of funds yet are spending, selling and reinvesting in unspotted talent in a style that makes us the envy of the football world.

Yet there are still fans who seem to relish being able to slag off players before a ball has even been kicked. Demanding ‘Frank out’ (are they SERIOUS ?) with nothing more blatant than pure pleasure as a cause for doing so . The treatment of Sergi this season has been horrific. Emiliano last time out. He seems to be flavour of the month once more. 

We win and lose as a squad. Those of us with eyes have been under no illusions that squad play has been essential. Will continue to be so. Thomas has been unequivocal about his need to make multiple substitutions per game. Before and during. There will be times when we see players start that we think would be better placed on the bench and vice-versa. That’s football. Its all about opinions. But for a squad and head-coach that is so well placed to come under such constant attack from certain quarters is utterly baffling. 

And we go again

I’ve seen us when we genuinely shit. This is nowhere near it. I’m not using ‘we used to be broke’ as the sole excuse to appreciate what we’ve got now. It’s massively important to know your history and remember where we’ve come from but that’s only part of it. No player will ever be 10/10 game after game. No squad has a divine right to win every match. We’ve said this so many times before but its true. So suck it up. 

Benrahma has gone and, whilst I’d love him back here still (who wouldn’t) we’re still scoring goals for fun. To be 11 unbeaten and still carving out the wins is nothing short of incredible given the intense physical pressure the players are under. It may not always be the 100mph football of last season and it may, sometimes, be a horror show to sit through (Middlesbrough and Derby anybody…) but we’re finding our groove. We’re finally into our new home. We’re three points off automatic. We’ve just obliterated Nottingham Forest. We’ve just seen Ivan Toney score one of THE goals. Highlights below.

It went up as high as it went forward. The hoof (and there is no other word for it) from Janelt coming down with snow on it. Ivan keeping his eye on the ball all the way through to beat his man and fire a quite exquisite finish home on the half-volley. There are no words to really do it justice. Just watch again. And again.

To think, Nottingham Forest ended up with Lyle Taylor. Both our clubs heavily linked with both players over the summer. Safe to say we’ve got the good end of that deal. Frank out. Sack the board. Where’s the money, Benham?   

Before that, Henrik Dalsgaard had opened the scoring early for a much changed Brentford line up. We still played the same way. We still tried to pour forward as we’d done against Blackburn. We still created chances but this time, unlike the Derby game, they went in.

There could have been more. Mbeumo coming close whilst Ivan Toney almost scored a first half wonder goal after connecting with an inch perfect cross from Emiliano and seeing his acrobatic effort swoop just over. In the end, it was Josh Dasilva who double the lead late on with a left-footed curler from the corner of the box after Sergi Canos continued his red hot streak with another assist. It was a goal that would have been the moment of the match, had Ivan not come along and done his own thing minutes later. Frank out !

Ivan comes close in the first half after postman perfect delivery from Emiliano

Next up, a trip to Watford on Tuesday night. I’d love to be there but we’ve no hope. Urgh. Corona. Then, assuming there is no change to the London tiering, we’ve another 2,000 fans able to get a taste of Lionel Road when Reading visit at the weekend. With both teams above us, these games are real six-pointers. A chance to reel in the promotion pack and perhaps even hit those automatic spots.

What a fantastic opportunity awaits. With Newcastle United to come in the league cup quarter-finals, life is definitely looking up on the pitch. For most of us.

Nick Bruzon 

Sergi does it in style and Thomas speaks out as Brentford open the doors.

6 Dec

What’s that noise? The sound of tunes being changed? What’s that smell? The stench of flagrant hypocrisy. The ongoing bullying, and there is no other word, of Sergi Canos by a group on social media replaced by praise of the highest order after a quite stunning performance and goal for Brentford against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday afternoon. Sorry to start here. We should be focussing on the brilliance of a first game at Lionel Road for our fans and the prospect of doing it all again on Wednesday night against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Themselves, visitors likely to get a warmer reception (at least pre kick off) following the bullsh*t at Millwall yesterday. Yet the internet trolls (see also: Frank Out) have been on it all season and it stinks. We talk about being fans. About mental health – hey, players are as human and fragile as the rest of us. How do YOU know what’s going on in their head? How do you genuinely think that tagging players and messaging them to drip more poison in any way helps? Of course we‘ve got a right to have an opinion. To criticise a team selection. To offer up our own game plan and strategy. What stinks is what has felt like an ongoing and lemming like bullying campaign from keyboard warriors who wouldn’t have the balls to say any of this to anyones face.

For me, being a fan is about showing support. About showing faith. About not launching into one player when he has, in your opinion, an off day. About not jumping on a bandwagon because its the ‘cool’ thing to do. About knowing that recovery from horrific injury is a long term process. About recognising that, actually, we are a team and that aside from being wrong ( for more than one reason) picking on one player is hardly going to help anyone. Call me a n*nce, happy clapper, whatever. Tell us ‘don’t defend him’. Personally, I don’t give a monkey. I make no apologies for supporting my team and our heroes. I’m not blinkered. We recognise poor performances but what we don’t do, at least in our house, is round on our team. Blame every perceived ‘failure’ at the door of one man.

Cripes, you could see what that meant to Sergi yesterday. The tears in his celebration. You could see Thomas Frank fuming, too. He came out fighting at full time to defend his own tactics after Jacob Davenport had rescued an 87th minute equaliser for a Blackburn team who had been playing with ten men for close to an hour. This, following a straight red for Darragh Lenihan had let Brentford back into the game on 36 minutes. His foul on Ivan Toney being deemed sufficient for the player to be invited to leave the field of play. Toney, the Championship’s leading scorer, made no mistake from the spot. Once again his balls of steel walk up culminating in a strike that was as accurate as it was powerful. 

Red seemed harsh but no mistake made from the spot

By this point we had already gone a goal down. Blackburn came out charging and, perhaps sensing the emotion of the day, brought the game to us. It worked. Despite Dalsgaard returning for Fosu to give a more orthodox full back option, our normally impenetrable defence lasted less than twenty minutes. Joe Rothwell waltzing through a series of pirouettes and half arsed challenges.  

Rather than anyone attempting to put in an actual tackle he was given the freedom of Lionel Road before firing home from the edge of the box. 1-0. Deserved. But it woke us from our slumbers. With Sergi puling strings in a front three made up of him, Ivan and Marcus Forss it only felt like a matter of time before we would be level. Sure enough, we were.

Yet if the build up and first half had got the juices flowing, it was nothing compared to the second. Roared on by Peter Gilham, the players came out and kicked on from where they’d left off. The inevitable goal coming from Sergi on the hour. Cutting down the left he stepped into the box, dodging defenders before unleashing an absolute piledriver into the top corner. The Blackburn ‘keeper left no chance. The tears flowing. And that was just from our family ! What a strike. What a way to answer those with nothing good to say. What. A.Goal !! It put one in mind of his effort at Reading away a few years back. It was that good. Bravo, Sergi. Bravo.

It should have been put to bed from there. Blackburn offered nothing. Making no attempt to break and set up to snuff out any further damage. The much touted Adam Armstrong was subbed off, leaving Ivan a clear run to go ahead in the top scorer charts. Yet, instead, we ‘did a Brentford’. D’oh ! 

87 minutes gone and another defensive malfunction allowed Jacob Davenport room to wriggle though and bury it. Urghh. And with that, there was to be no more. Five minutes of injury time, most of which were wasted by the visitors’ ‘keeper, saw us unable to get the fairytale winner. Instead, Brentford having to be content with making it nine unbeaten and still in the top six. Of picking up a ‘mere’ ten points from the last four games which included two midweek trips to Yorkshire and a local derby.

The other talking point was substitutions. We’ve been saying on these pages all season that changes will be made. Either in the starting XI or off the bench. Now offered the chance to make five switches per game, Thomas Frank has absolutely taken that opportunity. Yesterday was no different. Did it change the course of the game? Probably, although we still had enough to wrap up the win and by his own admission we should have gone for more at 2-1. Thomas reflecting at full time that we should have made more forward passes (a real life case of ‘Push up, Brentford’, perhaps?) ”After the 2-1 goal of course we need to win because they didn’t want to come forward so it was only about us making a mistake and unfortunately that happened”.

That’s football. As a fan, ‘disappointing’ didn’t even begin to cut it. Talk about seeing the wind taken form our sails. Ecstasy replaced by agony. Yet as we always say, no team has a divine right to win every game. Sometimes we cruise home by a mile. At others we hang on and fall over the line. Cripes, we’re still up there fighting and just four points off the top of the table. Hardly a case of ‘Frank Out’.

Should we have won? Yes. Did we deserve to? No. Each team scored two goals. That’s how football works. Chances count for naff all. Did the subs affect the team balance? Probably. But that’s the nature of this season which is a marathon crammed into a sprint period. We’ve made changes. We have our squad intact for Derby County on Wednesday. Others are going to do the same. Managers have no choice. On that, Thomas was quite clear. Unequivocally so.

If you asked me if I wanted to make five substitutions if it was the World Cup final tonight then I wouldn’t, probably not…but we have 30 more World Cup finals to play in the most compact programme ever and if people don’t understand that we can’t play every single player for 90 minutes in 46 games then they need to start studying a little bit about science and fatigue, mental freshness and how you use that. So, if you ask me if I would do it again? 

ONE.. HUNDRED.. PERCENT.

Do I like it as a supporter? Well, its not what I’m used to that’s for sure. But we’ve also got a great squad. Blame the defence for having a moment if you must but why not lambast the attackers for failing to put this one to bed? Tarique Fosu came on for Sergi. Mbeumo for Forss. These are great players and very much the heroes of our Twitter crew. Yet they couldn’t wrap it up. That’s not to knock either player btw. We were up against a resolute Blackburn side who hung in, absorbed damage and caught us on the break. It finished 2-2. That’s football. The important question now being how we can bounce back against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County in midweek.

I’ve got a feeling that one’s going to be and absolute cracker. Being part of the Lionel Road crowd was a huge honour.  Our new home is everything it has been bigged up to be and more. Great sightlines, close to the pitch and a truly fantastic atmosphere. Griffin Park at night, under floodlights, was always special. Imagine that on Wednesday? Two thousand made some noise in the dusk. It’s going to be even louder when Derby visit.

It won’t be easy, either. They finally climbed off the bottom of the table after winning 1-0 at Millwall in a game ruined before kick off by the moronic booing of the players supporting racial equality. Something as awful as the club’s complete silence on the matter. If only their fans could have adopted the same tone. There aren’t sufficient words. Pathetic justification of not bringing politics into football no defence. This is not support of  what many feel is some quasi-marxist movement. This is support of players. Of showing we feel there is no room for racial injustice or discrimination. And if you think that’s wrong then f*ck off. Football has come so far, in places, except it would seem at the den.

So Derby County were riled. They got their win in a game where the closest the the home team’s match report would get was to note that,  “Roared on by 2,000 fans – and what a great sight it was – the game got underway “. Hmmm. What a way to welcome fans back in. What a way to represent yourselves. Perhaps the only saving grace here being that with only two thousand present it will be easier for any identification to take place. But I doubt that’ll happen.

Instead, Wayne Rooney and his Rams will find things much more welcoming at Lionel Road on Wednesday. At least, before kick off. Once that whistle blows, give them hell. I’d love to be a part of it once more. For those getting their turn next up, ENJOY.  

Until then, perhaps one more time from Sergi….

What an afternoon it was. Welcome to the future. Welcome home.

Well played, Sergi.

Nick Bruzon

Finally. The chance to see our new home for real. Lionel Road awaits.

5 Dec

Corona Virus restrictions. With the exception of ‘Rail Replacement Bus’, you’d be doing well to find three more depressing words in the English language. Yet today there’s a light through the gloom. For the first time since the 5-0 tanking of Sheffield Wednesday back in March, Brentford fans have the opportunity to see a game for real. Moreso, a first chance to do so at our new home. Lionel Road prepares to welcome fans for the visit of Blackburn Rovers this afternoon. I promised myself I wouldn’t overly bang on about it but to say we’re excited doesn’t even begin to cut the mustard. Like flicking on to a random episode of The Simpsons and discovering its the one with the Springfield Monorail. Yessss!! 

Not ‘that’ monorail

To date, the most to see a game at Lionel Road have been the smattering of club representatives, journalists, photographers and our 200+ directors that were on hand to roar the Bees on against Quarter Pound of Rubbish. Oh, Warbs. I’m still laughing about that one. And if you’d like to read more, today’s ‘Bees Blog’ in the matchday programme will (I hope) cover that one off. #shamelessplug. To those, we can now add the 2,000 supporters who were the first invited in as part of the Season Ticket rotation and, it has to be said, anticipation is rife. 

For me, Clive, the uniqueness of the occasion aside it gives an opportunity to really try and assert some form of home advantage. We’ve already heard Peter Gilham, the directors and Cliff Crown roaring Brentford on. Having those extra voices sure to motivate the players once more. How much of a difference will supporters make?

And what a time for this to happen. Blackburn Rovers are top of the Championship goalscoring charts. Adam Armstrong the division’s highest individual contributor with 14. Let’s not forget Ivan Toney though. As if we could. With our own man tucked in right behind on 13 goals, it has all the makings of a promotion chasing shootout. Rovers sit two points outside the top six. Brentford knowing that a win would take us to within a point of first placed Bournemouth (subject to other results). Frank out indeed. They’ve all gone very quiet – insert Picard graphic. Every voice will count. Every motivational cheer and extra bit of backing for the Bees a chance to finally remind ourselves that it is an actual advantage to be playing at home – albeit, of course, we’ll all be following the officially published Covid guidelines which, understandably, come with the contractual obligation to remind supporters: “Please avoid excessive singing, shouting and cheering.” Good luck there. The same goes for all clubs, btw.

Frank Out… ??!! Where have they all gone?

Recent form has really gone to plan. Thomas Frank hasn’t been afraid to mix his team up and bring in plans B and C. The step up in the game against the Loftus Road mob when we employed the three centre back option for the second half worked brilliantly. This time 🙂 . His use of Toney and Forss at Rotherham United on Tuesday night seeing each player end up on the scoresheet. The temptation to go again must be immense. But with our defence stronger than the Rock Of Gibraltar (only three goals conceded in the last eight games) and Vitaly Janelt once again proving that the Brentford recruitment model is light years ahead of just about every club in English football, why not?

Now, Brentford are breathing down the necks of Bournemouth and Norwich City in automatic positions. The later probably expecting to breeze past Luton Town midweek but, instead, fatally holed below the waterline at a Kenilworth Road that saw supporters present. The cat that got the canary. Mind you, going by the state of their former mascot  – frankly, terrifying – the Hatters would be doing well to bring him back out of retirement. If we’re looking at clubs making any form of home advantage count then how about starting right there? Kenilworth cat up there with Kingsley, Boiler man and Buzzette in the all time great mascots.

Kenilworth Cat – back in the day Luton very much had a rabid beast

Ah, Buzzette. Another reason to be grateful for our return to live action. John Travolta in a furry suit. 70’s John Travolta, I mean. Those funky dance moves have been sorely missed whilst we’ve been locked out. Unlike the Gunnersaurus saga over at the Emirates (remember that from the surreal heights of football lockdown?), Brentford have made if quite public that we’re sticking with our anthropomorphic crowd pleaser. Let’s hope that along with Buzz she’s back out there doing her thing this afternoon.

Yes, we are going. It IS exciting and I get that not everybody is allowed in first time out. It’s a huge shame from that respect and we’re feeling truly privileged to be part of that initial group going in. I promised myself I wouldn’t overly bang on when we were let back in. Cripes, it only seems like five minutes ago that every man Jack and Harry was telling us from their seats in the ground how amazing it was. How incredible. Hardly a day went past without seeing somebody else in there, banging on about how incredible OUR home was. All whilst we were confined to barracks. It hurt, a lot. I remember my own frustration well. Perhaps it will be even tougher for those fans who haven’t been given the chance this afternoon. Social media sure to be awash with photos and comments. Those obliged to wait until the visit of Wayne Rooney’s Derby County or beyond missing out on today and having to wait whilst that anticipation builds even further.

It will be tough for them, no question. It’ll be amazing for us, I hope. Yet at the same time whenever you get your place on the ST rotation train, it won’t feel properly proper until we are all allowed in together. Until we can have a beer with our friends. Until we can all cheer, en-masse. Until the place is sold out our rather than operating at 11% capacity (15% if you include the massed ranks of our directors). That’s not to say we can’t wait for this afternoon. Only a liar would pretend otherwise.

Finally, for the first time in 9 months, I can dig out the old refrain. Roll on 3pm. See you there !

I can’t wait to see these two again

Nick Bruzon

Frank IN. Sense!! Bees do it again amidst festive fixture pile up.

2 Dec

Well wasn’t that the performance? Brentford made it three wins on the bounce, eight unbeaten with just three conceded over that period and up to fourth place. Just two points behind current table-toppers Norwich City after a 2-0 defeat of Rotherham that never, really, looked in doubt once the game had begun. Whilst the first half may have been frustrating for many, the Bees kept going and eventually grew into another game where the opposition’s primary objective had been survival. With the FT index mk.ii starting a game together, both players scored to present Thomas Frank further selection headaches (of the nicest sort) for the visit of Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. Marcus Forss grabbed the first before Ivan Toney made it 13 for the season with a calm finish from the penalty spot to wrap up the points and return to the top of the Championship goal scorers charts. 

Marcus shared this one on Twitter at full time. As cool as you like.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. We’ve all seen the game and there’s the BBC or Brentford ‘official’ for anyone wanting in depth. For me, the key takeaways were another team rejig that has, once again, proven we have a Plan A, B and C. The absence of Henrik Dalsgaard was barely felt with Tarique Fosu able to bomb up and down the flank in lieu of the Dane. Indeed, whilst the opening goal was notable for the interplay between Toney and Forss (what teamwork for Ivan to pass rather than shoot himself), the patience, the feint and the delivery of that ball into the box from Fosu was magnificence served up on a silver salver. Bees fans being spoiled to ambassadorial levels by a team goal that would have had the ‘Frank Out’ brigade and Canos bullies on their high horses once more as if their managerial credentials had somehow been borne out.

Yet it was Sergi himself who set up the second goal. Forss feeding the Toney before he found Canos. The Spaniard’s timing and pace were electric as he burst clear in the box. This was it. 2-0. Just the keeper to beat until….. Nooooooo! Brutally scythed by Rotherham substitute Mickel Miller with the goal gaping, referee Tim Robinson had no choice but to award the spot kick. At the same time booking the hapless Miller for a second time in the 11 minutes since he had entered the field of play and promptly returning the player from whence he came. He sent him off.  

There was no mistake from the spot. I won’t deny Ivan’s approach to penalty taking gives me the heebie jeebies. A slow, measured almost walk up is one that is contrary to everything we’ve seen about running full tilt at the ball before striking. The files of football bloopers filled with strikers attempting ‘comedy run ups’ only to be left with copious amounts of egg on face (or is that just FulhamL ?). The first time against Millwall had heart in mouth. This was no different. Perhaps it is just Brentford and penalties in general? Yet with the shot eventually released, execution like a tracer bullet speeding towards the bullseye, there was once again no doubt. The net bulged. The 20 directors and officials celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup.

As for the Toney and Forss pairing, well I can’t wait to see which way Thomas jumps when Blackburn come to Lionel Road on Saturday. With Forss playing up top and Toney just to his side in our attacking front three, the interplay between the pair of them more than provide its worth. Marcus has tremendous amounts of confidence and we all know how hard (and accurately) he can strike a ball. It’s a quite lovely team decision we have now been presented but with the visit of the Championship’s most devastating attack (Blackburn have scored 27 from 14 games, Adam Armstrong going neck and neck with Ivan for the golden boot) will he stick or revert to our more familiar starting XI? May he have no choice given Henrik wasn’t even on the bench? Given our 9 games over December and the festive period, changes are sure to continue.

One thing you can say for sure is that Vitaly Janelt gets the nod. He’s looking stronger and stronger each game. I love his approach (almost as much as his post match interviews) and can’t believe we’ve unearthed yet another one. Whilst we miss Christian Norgaard, and who wouldn’t, the German is making himself very, very hard to dislodge. Our Triple J in midfield once more banging the drum for Brentford and Thomas Franks’ tactical genius.

As for Thomas, I’ve always been a fan. I’m one very much of the ‘marathon not a sprint’ approach to football. Of realising a league campaign is 46 games long and every side has blips. Of knowing that when we’ve been awful (Stoke City away and that second half againat Preston) it is the exception, not the rule. That no team has a divine right to win every game. Nor will they. At any level. His enthusiasm is infectious. The mentality instilled in his squad really paying dividends. The Bees making their way up the table and improving on last season’s record every game. At the played 15 point in 2019/20 we’d picked up 21 points and were sitting in 13th. This time around we’ve 26 points and are already up to fourth.  ‘Frank out’? Take a look at yourselves.

Fans are entitled to opinions. Of course they are. Football would be deadly dull if it was full of blind lemmings towing the company line and singing everything is awesome. Well, you know what? At present it is. Show me any team that could lose like the likes of Benrahma / Watkins and overcome play-off pain then expect to immediately find their feet? It has taken us a few games but we’ve plugged away, the defence is looking rock solid and our attacking options continue to grow as the new look line up gel. Only Blackburn, Bournemouth and Reading have scored more than us. I don’t get the line of nonsense directed towards Thomas from certain quarters but in this strangest of seasons, he and the squad are doing more than ok. Everything IS awesome. Everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Events at the Lego Community stadium continuing to prove this. 

from one lego house to another

Let’s finish on a high, though. In what has already been a topsy-turvy season, Brentford are the division’s form team. We’ve won three on the bounce including two midweek trips to Yorkshire and a local derby. I’m absolutely ecstatic to have taken 9 from 9 over that run. Now we have the Championship golden goal shootout to look forward to. Even better, there will be fans present.

To everyone that got a ticket, ENJOY and make yourselves heard. Lionel Road is going to be rocking on Saturday. 2,000 supporters are going to sound deafening. Here’s hoping Simon got his email !

And finally…. Yesterday we put up the link for the Brentford pub Top Trumps. Today’s item of choice is a Nico Yennaris 28 football shirt. Anybody interested in picking this one up can do so here. Thanks for looking.

Until then, here’s to another three points. Here’s to us looking to continue our climb. Perhaps there may even be half an eye on Luton v Norwich tonight….

Nick Bruzon 

Let’s smash them! Let’s do this!!

27 Nov

The 237 derby awaits. Brentford are all set to host the team from Shepherds Bush at Lionel Road this evening. The move to our new home meaning a mere 3.4 miles now separates the two clubs. I’ve not been this excited about a ‘behind closed doors’ game since Barnsley last season. Hmmm. Move along, nothing to see here. That was then. This is now. The Bees are on it at the moment (6 unbeaten and only two goals against) whilst Tuesday night’s performance ay Oakwell ensured the promotion pack remain well in our sights. Not to mention exacting a little payback from the aforementioned game. Elsewhere, it’s well possible that our reader could be watching the Blackburn Rovers game next Saturday in person. Not a typo.

Games with our neighbours have been wonderful in recent seasons

For all the negativity out on social media over recent weeks, the simple fact is that victory tonight takes Brentford up to fourth place. Chuck in the opposition factor (oh, to be a fly on the wall for Peter Gilham’s pre-match speech to the squad) combined with the nature of our performance at Barnsley and you can be sure the boys will be up for it. They’d better be. This, of all games, is the one we love each season. Victory in their pokey matchbox is always fun but to do it at home, in front of your own seats, is truly special.

Sadly, it comes just too soon for the return of 2,000 fans to a home game but at least Lionel Road will look full. Who’s laughing at those coloured seats now ? Of course, the place will be full in spirit. The game is on Sky sports and I-follow VIP.

Murdoch or Mark Burridge? Tonight, ambassador, you are really spoiling us. 

I have to be honest, one of the highlights of the season to date (the performances of Ivan, Ethan, Marcus, Sergi, Rico et al aside) has been the role carried out by our commentator par-excellence throughout all of the Corona based despondency. It can’t be easy commentating on what, to all intents and purposes, has all the passion of Mrs. Brown smooching with Donald Trump on Star Wars Day whilst sipping on an Expresso. The strains of the England supporters band wafting over them. No fans in the ground makes a distasteful experience for the viewers. Commentating on it must be truly tricky. Nowhere to hide. No crowd noise to fill the gaps or spur you on.

Yet Mark, Mick and Marcus (Gayle, not Forss – note so self : find excuse to work that pun in ) make it seem effortless. For that, I am genuinely thankful. A shitty time made slightly better thanks to our top, top football commentating team. 

Jacket sleeves rolled up? My Mammy Vice? The allure of crowd free football

Whichever way you watch (or listen) to it tonight, it’s sure to be an exciting one. Expect the same team as started up at Barnsley with cameos from the bench. That said, one does have to wonder how Thomas is keeping Marcus Forss happy – he must be chomping at the bit – but you can’t look past the imperious form of Ivan Toney.

My word, that man is on fire and more than filling the boots of Ollie Watkins. I’d still love that Ollie was here but we’ve done pretty, pretty good in replacing him. Ivan is definitely at the Maupay / Grey end of the striking scale rather than Proschwitz / Jones.

Of all that has happened this season, the goal scoring prowess of Ivan has been the absolute stand out for me. Yes, Rico has been immense. Ethan continues to flourish. The goalkeeping saga put to bed. Yet to find such a composed goal scorer and, probably more important, one who has adjusted to this team and this level of football so, so quickly has been pivotal. He is already ahead of Ollie and Neil on the goals scored at this stage in their respective Brentford careers with the promise of more to come. Aside from keeping the fans happy, doing it again tonight against that lot will see him return to the top of the Championship goal scorers chart. At present, he sits one behind Adam Armstrong of Blackburn Rovers (11 and 12 respectively after 13 games).

And on a side note to form, that of the overall squad has been as impressive. Sure, we’ve had a few stinkers (Stoke away and the second half debacle at home to Preston being the real low lights) yet point for point we’re still well clear of this time last year. Moan all you want about individuals but the table doesn’t lie. I saw this one last night to illustrate, in a nutshell, where we are. Frank out. Apparently. Groan. Insert Picard meme.

Anyway, we can big it up all we want. Form is out the window. Past results irrelevant. For one night only is it about the 90 minutes that lay ahead. The hope that special agent Barbet can do it again. Truly, I loved him at Griffin Park but there’s always the hope that he goes awol this evening. Perhaps adding to that tally of own goals or missed penalties.

Ultimately though, its about one thing only. Winning the game. Beating our neighbours. Showing Mark Warburton our Plan A ! Bring it on and see you there. Kind of.

We love you, Yoann.

Although… this time next week we’ll be saying that for real. At least, a maximum 2,000 of us will. With the latest announcements from Boris now out there, and London placed in Corona Virus Tier 2, we’re allowed some supporters into games. The first game up is Blackburn Rovers next Saturday. The Toney-Armstrong shootout (so another 0-0, then). Good luck to the club in sorting out how all this is going to work – genuinely – although at least the slightly ambiguous wording on Twitter yesterday – intimating that Premium would get first dibs – was quickly cleared up on social media aswell as in the main article where it is noted that,”Whatever number we are working to, we will ensure that each ticket group  will have a fair split of the overall allocation“. 

I’m still not clear what happens if those fans live in Tier 3 but at least we now have some, scant respite. A first step back to sporting normality. You can read the full article here and, if you haven’t done your survey yet, I’d be doing it fast. 2,000 desperate fans are going to make a hell of a lot of noise. Personally speaking, I can’t wait to be part of it. No matter how bizarre it may be.

That’s all to look forward to. For now I’m all about watching it on the sofa. Possibly for one last time before getting in to a game for a real. Let’s smash them. Let’s go out of this creepy ‘no fans’ atmosphere in style. Let’s do this. I can’t wait!

Nick Bruzon