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Three players this club must sign. The one vote you must make.

26 Jan

Waking up on Tuesday morning it suddenly hit me. The transfer window is open and has been for weeks. Even better, the transfer window shuts on Friday night yet Brentford haven’t even come close to being mentioned in one of those ‘the three players this club must sign’ non-stories that website 72, flw and the other few clickbait-mongers seem to print every ten seconds. Move along, nothing to see hear. We’ve a huge game with Swansea City tomorrow night whilst over at the City Ground there’s a chance for us to all prove that, sometimes, we’re bigger than any club rivalries which may exist. That sometimes, we need to join together to stop a common foe – the likes of Boris Johnson and Piers Morgan. The pair lining up with Simon Cowell and Rishi Sunak, amongst others, to stop one Nottingham Forest fan scooping one of the greatest awards currently available to mortal man. The Heatworld ‘Secretcrush 2021’ award.

First up, the transfer window. If anything, we’ve been clearing the decks. Turkish striker Halil Dervişoğlu has joined Galatasaray on loan until the end of the season. Thomas Frank told ‘official’ that “Halil is a young player that we have a lot of belief in and one we think has a big future at Brentford,“ but cited competition for places with Ivan Toney and Marcus Forss as a crucial reason in the decision to send him out at this stage in his career. The showing against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup suggested this may well be true but having already spent loan time at FC Twente, one does have to wonder if it is the last we have seen? Only time will tell there.

Dervişoğlu – image shamelessly lifted from ‘official’

About the only thing I’ve seen suggesting anything inward came at the end of the game with Leicester City on Sunday. Adam Devlin and Rob Davies both calling this one. Is Daniel Amartey set to join? Surely this was nothing more than a catch up with a player who spent two years playing in Denmark with FC Copenhagen? Given how close Brentford keep our cards to the chest, not even we’d be this unsubtle? At the same time Amartey, along with Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw, is one of three players this club must sign in the current transfer window. D’oh!! 

In all seriousness though, the longer we avoid those sort of headlines the better. Rico Henry is undoubtedly the best left back in the Championship, if not higher. Ethan Pinnock is winning plaudits everywhere. We already know of Arsenal’s interest in David Raya. Ivan Toney is top of the pops when it comes to Championship goals. To name but a few. All four players will be featured in the Panini sticker book next season. Of that, I have no doubt. All being well they won’t make that step up until the end of this campaign. With Brentford. Cripes, this Swansea game tomorrow is huge !

The other news was that surrounding Nottingham Forest supporter Matt Dyson. He has been nominated for Heatworld’s Secret Crush 2021 award. An honour bestowed on what they deem to be an unlikely sex symbol. “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach” goes the build up, helpfully continuing, “fellas come in all shapes, sizes and age brackets – which is why heat is once again giving you the power to choose the best of the unconventional bunch.”

Thanks, heat. However, look beyond the objectification of men and there’s a far more serious matter at stake. Namely that of stopping Piers Morgan. Or Boris Johnson. Along with Forest fan and Absolute radio DJ Dyson, they’ve both made a long list that also includes names as diverse and far reaching as Gary Lineker and Bill Bailey to Dec and Ant. Yet back to back winner Morgan is the one everybody wants to stop. Apparently. Don’t inflate his or Johnson’s ego any more than they already are. A vote for Dyson is a vote for blokish charm. A vote for common sense. A vote for, well, something. 

The link is here. Please give 30 seconds of your time and go for it. If you don’t, Boris might win. Piers could triumph. And that would be unbearable for followers of social media. Just don’t forget ‘untick the boxes’ asking if you’d like to read more. Unless of course, you would. 

Nick Bruzon

As painful as an episode of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. As grateful to see it finish.

21 Jan

Brentford 1 Luton Town 0. Let the records book show the Bees as unbeaten in the Championship since late October and now up to third place in the table. Two points behind Swansea City and with a game in hand on the team we visit next week. Another clean sheet and a performance that saw us come out of the blocks flying before falling off a cliff late on in the first half and struggling to get even close to competing before muscle bound ref Steve Martin (does he work out?) put everyone out of their misery. It was a second half that had been as painful to watch as an episode of Mrs. Brown’s Boys and, certainly, there was nobody laughing at Lionel Road. Moreso when Ivan Toney was shown a second yellow in injury time and sent off. Along with Tons Lockyer for the visitors. He’ll now miss the Leicester City FA Cup tie on Saturday but should return for the trip to Wales on Wednesday night. It was a frustrating end to a challenging game. Moreso as his dismissal seemed innocuous at best. Even ‘official’ noted in their own match report that it was a fracas, “Which seemed to amount to little more than being in the same area as an angry Lockyer”. 

That was tough viewing

Still. We won. Luton can understandably feel hard done by after throwing the kitchen sink at Brentford. They played out of their skins and it was only the combination of resolute defence, rock solid Raya and some spurned opportunities that preserved our scoreline’s unblemished complexion

One could argue that the game may well have been out of sight by that point with Brentford starting at 100mph. Sergi Canos coming close with a blistering effort before Samman Ghoddos, in for the suspended Josh Dasilva, followed up his FA Cup goal with an absolute beauty fifteen minutes in. Toney and Mbeumo exchanging passes before Ivan’s quite exquisite first time cross into the box was met with the sweetest of connections by the, err, lurking Ghoddos. Timing and quality of the sort Mrs Brown could only aspire. Slick and measured. It all happened so fast and so sweetly it was like watching a replay on Nintendo Super Soccer. A video game quality goal to open the floodgates. Or so we thought.

The goal had video game like cohesion

Alas not. Rather than herald an onrush of goals, that was it. The closure of our training ground thanks to that virus having a clear and visible effect on just about everyone. The Bees struggling to get out of their half as the midfield dissolved. The absent Josh Dasilva and Christian Norgaard so conspicuous by their respective absences as we offered all the resistance of a sodden tissue. Yet, somehow, that last line of defence held firm. The odd foray forward saw a couple of chances presented to Ivan Toney. The player unable to find the net when, perhaps, he might have expected to make the game safe. 

Yet, as we’ve already said, the record books won’t care about that. The table doesn’t lie. Brentford are up to third. Swansea and Norwich City firmly in our sights. Leicester City next up in the FA Cup and a chance, perhaps, for those exhausted legs to get back up to speed. Whether through a complete break or an hours’ run out to keep things ticking over. I’m no fitness coach but what seemed apparent was the impact our Championship absence – the was the first league game since beating Bournemouth in late December – has had. Still, we’ve got a week to figure out the best approach to how we deal with that side of things. I’ve no doubt our coaching staff already have it all well under wraps and in hand. 

Thomas Frank would share similar sentiments to yours truly at full time . (Hey, chuck enough mud and some of it sticks). He used his own round up to summarise that second half as, “Painful to watch and be a part of, it happens in football sometimes. We got too passive”. True enough, but we won. We’re up to third. We’ve now got (yet another) wonderful opportunity to define our season. The trip to Swansea City one which feels akin to that game at Leyton Orient all those years ago. The one where we reeled them in and ended up celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. Oh to come even half way close to playing like that. If we do then there’ll be good times ahead. The opportunity to close in on table topping Norwich City.

That was awesome and exhausting in equal measure last night. But that’s football. It’s the result that counts and , perhaps, hanging on to that victory will turn out to be a most unexpected psychological boost. A punchdrunk boxer clinging to the ropes yet still able to stay on his feet. A demonstration that, actually, we can grind out a backs to the wall performance and come away with all the points when not at our very best.

Whatever you read into it, the points are all that matters. Now bring on Swansea . Bring on Leicester City. Bring on some R&R.

An undoubted highlight from a hard game

Nick Bruzon  

Here’s to fifty saves in grey and a bit of history being made.

5 Jan

Well this is all a bit weird. Talk about finding yourself in illustrious company. Manchester United host Manchester City tomorrow night, with the  winners of that one knowing they’ll be facing a League Cup final at the W place near Ikea against either Brentford or Spurs. Surely it will be Tottenham? Surely? Nobody outside to TW8 gives us Bees a prayer. Yet tonight’s semi-final has all the makings of an absolute classic. A chance to crank out cliché by the bucketload in a David v Goliath clash. A game where Jose Mourinho’s superstar team, with their propensity for an ad-hoc self-destruct, host Thomas Frank’s Championship barnstormers. Brentford now sixteen games unbeaten in all competition and looking like the sort of well run, well rounded side most clubs could only aspire to be. A side only nudged out of the automatic positions at the weekend by the Bristol City symptom-gate affair. Yet with Corona continuing to grab the headlines for all the wrong reasons, if ever there was a time for football to help put a smile back on our faces then it is now.

No word of a lie, last night floored me. Boris bumping his way through the entirely predictable press conference. The usual buzz words coming out (and you thought these pages were littered with repetitive cliché) about collective national efforts but the long and the short of it being no hope of getting out for the next few months. The grim prospects of isolation, paying the bills, keeping the job going and doubling up as a home teacher all we have to look forward to. Freedoms curtailed again after that brief taste of being allowed outside in the autumn. He didn’t even have the decency to cancel Mrs. Brown’s Boys. It’s all a bit soul destroying being honest. 

If only… Instead we had more despair

This should be an exciting day. And it still can be. It still will be. It’s not the place of the players to act as any form of social pillars but, my word, they have an unexpected degree of expectation on them tonight. Not so much to win – you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be all out for that – but to keep morale flying. We’d absolute love to be there with them of course. We’re not even allowed to the pub or our mates’ house to watch it. As Thomas Frank noted in his press conference yesterday, “All players and staff members tested Covid negative before the game. It is maybe more important than ever that football is continuing. For a lot of people, football is a light in the dark that they can cheer on their heroes.

And he’s right. It would be easy to get weighed down in doom and gloom. It’s pitch black and icy cold outside with no real end in sight. I had half an eye on Boris cancelling elite sport, too. I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies. Instead, we are all systems go for this evening. The game is on Sky TV with a 7.45pm kick off The sort of game to attract an audience of unexpected Brentford supporters. Neutrals hoping for an upset and the chance to see whether Jose goes volatile or sporting. Should it happen. If nothing else a case of Manchester united with both sides up there hoping we’ll do it. The easiest option, in theory, for the final.

The big question of course being “Can we?”. The entirely predictable answer being that of course we can. More importantly, will we? Here its not so easy to call. We already know the bookies have Spurs as odds on favourites. They’ll be brutal in their assault. Kane and Son a partnership as balanced as Ant and Dec, Little & Large, Mrs Browns Boys and not laughing. The defence will need to be rock solid – no doubt a case of fifty saves in grey from either David Raya or Luke Daniels. Brentford 6-1 long shots. Yet in my heart of hearts I entirely believe we will do this. Rose tinted? Perhaps. Optimistic? Most definitely? Romantic? It’s what the cup is all about.

A case of fifty saves in grey tonight?

Yet seeing how we’ve developed as a side over the last 12 months. Over this season alone. Over the recent unbeaten streak I’m genuine I my belief that we are the strongest, most consistent team in this division. Much more balanced than last time out. Still smarting about having missed out as we did after doing so incredibly well to even haul ourselves into contention. Yet instead of self-destruction it has has been case of self-belief. Watching the ongoing debacles at FulhamL and West Brom a sore reminder of their own pointlessness in the Premier League. Absolutely they earned their shot but to see them squandering it so badly a painful reminder of where we could have been. 

Kudos to Leeds United. Like Wolves, they have proven that teams can make that step up from the Championship look effortless. Can hold their own against the established teams and the household names. That they will be playing the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham et al on a weekly basis rather than via the fortuitous nature of cup draws. I’m utterly convinced that next season we’ll be there with them. Spurs and Manchester United rather than the Baggies or Cottagers. Tonight marks a huge step on that journey. A chance to see just how well we stack up under the most intense pressure and scrutiny. A chance to beat a fifth Premier League team over the course of this cup run. Most importantly, the chance to make it to a major cup final.

Cripes, I can’t wait for this one. Life outside the front door may feel onerous at present. I’m quite happy to hold up my hands and admit to being amongst those finding things tough. But you can bet come 7.45pm ‘that virus’ will be the last thing on the mind.

We’ll be there in spirit. Bring it on. See you there. Kind of. Instead, here’s to celebrating a winner from Sergi Canos and having a pint together at W….

Can Brentford keep on the “Road to Wembley” ?

Nick Bruzon

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There’s an upset coming….

4 Jan

Here we go. The weekend action is done. Spurs warmed up for Tuesday night’s league cup semi-final with Brentford by thumping Leeds United 3-0. The Bees, meanwhile, put their feet up after Bristol City pulled the plug on our own game at the 11th hour following the discovery of untestable symptoms in the squad. Apparently. We’ve said our piece on that one here. Now is the time to look forward. Perhaps with a bit more juice back in the tank, history awaits at Tottenham.

The quarter-finals were awesome. Next up, Spurs.

Cripes, this is exciting. 90 minutes away from the W place in North London. A chance at a first major cup final. With all due respect to the Sherpa Vans / Leyland Daf etc etc. In our way, the unpredictable genius of Jose Mourinho and his galaxy of International stars. If they go full strength then any team would be up against it. Champions League regulars and currently sitting fourth in the top flight. For Brentford, a question more of how deep into the first team we delve. Sure, we’ve beaten four Premier League outfits to get here (which is still more in total than Sheffield United, West Brom and FulhamL combined have managed in the league all season) but this is next level opposition. Teams like us don’t win these sort of games? Little old Brentford haven’t got a prayer. Have we?

Insert usual lecture about magic of the cup. How both teams deserve to be here and, at the end of the day (Clive) its 11 v 11 over 90 minutes. All of which is true, of course, if not somewhat clichéd. Yet for me this one is even more open than ever. Might Bristol City have even done us an inadvertent favour?

Tottenham fighting it out for the Premier League title. Every point and ounce of energy vital to their cause. The added complication of a huge potato skin coming up on Sunday with the FA Cup tie at Marine. There’s a lot of juggling to be done there. Will it impact selection or are the players simply too strong ? Chuck an empty stadium into the mix and the game takes on the neutrality of a training ground – atmosphere wise, at least. You can bet the regulars will be banging on Thomas Frank’s door for the chance to start this one and just to maintain fitness after the Bristol City debacle. To prove just what they can do and that last season’s wobble when, for once it wasn’t Leeds United who fell apart (amazing how much that break helped them restore their momentum before reaching a deserved promotion), was nothing more than that. An abhoration. A freak. Something to use in order to show that it has only made us stronger.

Despite the loss of Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma we’re arguably stronger this time around. Defensively strong, the midfield has bite and the goals still flow. Perhaps not as quickly as before but we’re not shipping them. Josh Dasilva, David Raya, Sergi Canos and Ethan Pinnock amongst those to be looking even better than ever. Rico Henry surely the most coveted star in the Championship. Ivan Toney banging them in for fun. Vitaly Janelt the latest on the conveyor belt of previously undiscovered talent. 

We’re further ahead in both league placing and points scored than this time last season despite the non-stop cavalcade of games. The performance against Bournemouth last week one of the best games of football seen in many years. The Bees relentless, determined, ruthless. Weathering the early storm. Coming back from going a goal down (see also: Cardiff City away the game before) to blitz our opponents and kill their own free flowing game. Seeing them resort to bypassing their more creative elements proof, once again, that Thomas Frank had it spot on.  Has a game plan that works.

The denouement to last season was death by a thousand cuts. Despite the optimism and genuine belief I felt going in to every game – even the play-offs – that game in North London did for my psyche. Floored emotionally. The thought of having to start it all again, knowing it would be without our star names, a prospect up there with being strapped to a chair and force-fed Mrs. Browns Boys. Nobody in their right mind would want to go through that but, eventually, it ends. The new season has come and with it, renewed love of football and faith in our team. Of trust in our set up and the pleasure of seeing that (cliché alert) calls of it being a marathon not a sprint have been well founded. We never win every game. We’ve had to find our feet. We’ve done that and our now firing.

Spurs have still got too much for us and should, surely, reach the final. On paper. If nothing else, they’re well used to these big games where the line is in sight and the silverware is glistening. For Brentford, this is very much the sort of ad-hoc opportunity which is about as familiar as a decent joke in the Mrs. Browns Boys Xmas special. Or any episode for that manner.

Yet, somehow, Brendan O’Carroll and his fetid creation keep going. Keep defying the odds. Continue to buck the trend. Could Thomas Frank do the same? Nobody expects us to win but this huge unbeaten run and our current approach have to count for something. Its a game where the approach needs to be 110% disciplined but, equally, there is no pressure on us because outside of TW8 there is no expectation.

At the end of the day Clive, it IS 11 v 11 over 90 minutes. The bookies have Spurs as red hot favourites. Brentford the 6-1 longshots. Yet, to me, the gap doesn’t feel that big. Is it? Meet you on the sofa tomorrow evening when we find out. Say this quietly, but I’ve got a feeling we’re going to pull off a shock…

Not my maths….

Nick Bruzon       

And for our next trick, watch as the dog makes this homework disappear.

2 Jan

New Year, same Covid. Brentford saw this afternoon’s game with Bristol City canned last night after the visitors declared that due to a number of their squad apparently exhibiting Corona virus symptoms, and the testing laboratory being closed for the bank holiday so they couldn’t know for sure, they would be unable to safely fulfil the fixture. The timing of the sudden outbreak of symptoms to an injury hit squad (at least 8 at the last count) combined with the inability to perform any testing is one which had supporters up in arms. Fishy is not the word. Jose Mourinho would describe the late cancellation of Spurs game against FulhamL as being like Under-13s football. One can only imagine what the Tottenham boss would make of this one.

Everyone at Brentford FC sends their best wishes to Bristol City for a safe and speedy recovery to all those who are affected.” (as opposed to infected ) said the diplomatic blurb from Official on Twitter that went with the announcement. I do wonder what they made of the situation behind closed doors but the narrative on the BBC home page regarding the three games impacted by Corona Virus said it exactly as it was. Read into this what you will.

The BBC website last night

Genuinely, one hopes nobody is ill. The frustration here being the late cancellation of a game in what reads as somewhat murky circumstances. The story is one that, at face value, is about as fishy as Michael Fish dodging a salad to eat fish and chips in Dodge City whilst listening to the greatest hits of pop music’s Dodgy. A Bristol City team who had been pushing for the play-offs but fallen out of contention after losing four of their last five games. A team decimated by injury. A team due to travel to the Championship’s form club. A team who the day before the game suddenly declare an out break of ‘symptoms’, not confirmed cases, but are unable to prove this due to an inability to get tested in this brief window. Hmmmm. Read into this what you will.

An artist’s impressionif it’s good enough for them

The club won’t say anything. They don’t need to. Thomas Frank will, of course, avoid getting himself or us into trouble. Perhaps there will be good wishes to our opponents and then that will be it. Brentford now facing a sudden gap in the fixture list and needing to crowbar this in somewhere else. A Bank Holiday Saturday now cut short and the chance to spend some more time  in our own company now upon us instead. Urghh. We’ll have to do something.

The flip side to all of this, if I can grasp for any positive, is the chance to restore some fitness. Next Saturday is the FA Cup game with Middlesbrough and one in which, no doubt, the team will be made up of fringe players and those normally used to starting on the bench. With our next league game the trip to Reading on January 16th, it does mean we’ll have had a break of over two weeks without Championship action or international call ups. Might it tempt Thomas to start at full strength against Spurs on Tuesday night? If for no other reason than to keep things ticking over. The selection for the League cup semi-final was always going to be a divisive one, whichever way he went. Show faith with those that have got us this far or strengthen the team even more? After all, the ‘W’ place in North London is only 90 minutes away.

My own feeling is that he would have stuck with the Newcastle side. Now, he’ll go for the one that beat Bournemouth. Perhaps with the exception of Luke Daniels. Our reserve ‘keeper more than earning his own chance on merit this season and, were it not for the outstanding ability of David Raya, would surely have had more starts.

That Tottenham game is all to come. For now, we have an afternoon off. A chance to watch the other results roll in as Brentford sit tight. Time spent kicking our heels instead of looking to extend that unbeaten run further. Perhaps evening finishing off our Christmas holiday’s homework, assuming the dog hasn’t eaten it.

The closest we’ll get to anything at Lionel Road today

Nick Bruzon

Time to go ape once more?

30 Dec

Brentford are now fifteen games unbeaten. The 3-2 Boxing Day knockout of Cardiff City seeing us move to within touching distance of the top. Sergi’s hat-trick the stuff of dreams. Now Bournemouth await in a 5.30pm kick off this Wednesday evening. Both teams level on 38 points and knowing that victory will take them second above Swansea City, who don’t play until later tonight. Their game with Reading has an 8pm kick-off. Even a draw all see the Bees and the Cherries gain a position thanks to our superior goal difference. There’s everything to play for in the latest ‘Biggest game since…’ . A game made all the more interesting by table toppers Norwich City dropping two points at home to the Loftus Road mob on Tuesday.

Sergi got 3 out of 3 on, err, Saturday (I think)

I suppose we should be thankful there’s even a game taking place at present. With Corona virus seeing fixtures now being pulled across all divisions, Big ‘Sam’ Allardyce calling for a ‘circuit breaker’ hiatus to action and talk of tougher restrictions coming in at a national level, it may only be a matter of time before things grind to another halt. 

The plus point being it may allow everyone at our clubs to stay safe and restore some tired limbs. The down side being that Brentford are flying at present. The league and the cup have both seen us come into our own as the pressure has increased on divisional (and Premier league) rivals. The points gap being reeled in by some relentless displays and magnificent use of the squad by Thomas Frank. Those called in have more than done a job. Those who have been regular starters somehow maintaining their energy levels over a run of games that has been as exciting as it has been exhausting.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting Bournemouth to be anywhere near as strong as they have been this season. So many times we’ve seen clubs drop out of the Premier League and struggle to adjust to their new surroundings. With players being shed and talismanic manager Eddie Howe leaving in August, things looked grim. To the casual observer. Instead, they’ve carved out a run of form that has only seen them lose twice since the start of November ( Sheff Wednesday ‘away’ and a slip up at home against Preston. Hmm – I think we can all relate to that.) 

Like Brentford, they have continued to astound. To perplex. To amaze. A club no doubt as tainted with the ‘teams like’ and ‘little’ moniker as we have been in recent times. Their own top flight residence lasting for five years until the end of last campaign. We’ve all got our own thoughts on howe they got there, of course. Who could forget the team they put together when going up in 2014/15 – cripes, that must have cost them a fortune – but once there they more than held their own at football’s top table. Now, they are back amongst us in the Championship and on current form giving every indication that this will be as short a stay as possible.

Nothing would give greater satisfaction than getting the win tonight. Memories of Mike Grella flooding back once more. His name was mentioned during Mark Burridge’s commentary of the Cardiff game as Sergi looked to add a fourth goal to his, and the team’s, total. Instead he had to be content with ‘just’ the match ball and all manner of plaudits. I can’t see it being anywhere near as comfortable as that 6-0 victory back in November 2011 when the gorilla went ape, but even a turgid 1-0 will do me come full time. Chance would be a fine thing. Bournemouth aren’t going to just roll over and anybody claiming to know how this will turn out is a better observer than me. So that’s everyone , then.  

The Gorilla went ape – for one night only

If I had to call it, I’d go for Brentford by the odd goal in three. But I don’t. So I won’t. Even knowing who Thomas will start with is as much a case of car-keys in a bowl as anything else these days. Josh Dasilva and Tarique Fosu were both amongst those to miss out in the starting XI against Cardiff. Sergi is on fire but must be knackered. See also Ivan Toney and Rico Henry. Surely Thomas will go for what he’d see as his strongest option on current form tonight? For me, that read him opting for : Raya, Henry, Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Janelt, Dasilva, Jensen, Canos, Mbeumo, Toney. 

That’s my own hypothesis and the obvious one based on what we’ve seen to date. Who knows what Thomas’ longer term plan and tactics are?  Christian Norgaard doesn’t seem to be quite match fit after that prolonged injury but perhaps Tuesday and Spurs will do for him. Assuming the game even goes ahead. Equally though, one thing we can predict is that Thomas has cards up his sleeve and will be just as likely to mix things up. To try and catch everyone, including Bournemouth, cold. Cripes, who’d be a pundit or anybody trig to write something accurate. Roll on 4.31pm when the team is announced.

I have to be honest, I’m quite liking this 5.30pom kick off time. It’s totally untraditional but at a time when as many of us are able find themselves ‘working from home’ is a cracking way to move direct from the company laptop when the whistle blows directly to the sofa and TV. To start the night early and sill have time to put the kids to bed at full time. Plus it means we’ve less time to wait until the big match kicks off. Which given the way Corona Virus cases are spreading, can only be a good thing. Let’s enjoy this one before it is taken out of our hands.    

It’s a real six pointer. More than that, given the bigger picture impact. Twelve pointer? Double six pointer? Norwich City and Swansea, both in that immediate touching distance, no doubt hoping both teams can lose. Of course that’s not how football works and something will have to give at the business end of the table by full time. It’s live on Sky and i-player so, all being well, everyone has a chance to follow this one if you like pictures with your words.

Bring it on. See you there (in spirit). ENJOY !!!

Something has to give this evening, whatever the result

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

Waking up with a semi and a smile.

24 Dec

The morning after the night before. The die has now been cast. Brentford will travel to Spurs in the first week of January for a single leg league cup semi-final. A London derby the outcome after Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat of Newcastle United. The other tie sees Manchester United hosting their neighbours after winning in front of a ‘crowd’ at Everton. There was to be no reunion for the Bees with Manchester City. No fear of having to go to Stoke after Tottenham had eased through in the first game of the night. We’d love to have been at home, fans present or otherwise, but if it had to be a road trip then it is the most intriguing of the options. Relatively speaking. Pinnock and Sørensen v Kane and Son. Mbeumo v Mourinho. Delle Alli v Mourinho. 

There could only be a romantic outcome from this draw. Two teams from the top six of the Premier League, along with Manchester City and Brentford. City, their own list of recent trophies as long as the ‘bookings’ section in a Keith Stroud match report. Brentford, a whole new list of ‘teams like’ and ‘little old’ accolades now being added to our name from the broader populous. Another match that sees us emerge further from the radar we are seemingly still under. This is going to be good. Very good. The relief as Spurs did their thing against Stoke palpable. The prospect of testing ourselves against the very best now presenting itself.

Personally speaking, I’d have loved Manchester City. Purely because of what happened in 1989. That, still one of my top five Brentford moments and the chance to go again would have been immense. A momentous victory carved out on a quagmire of a pitch. (But enough about Tuesday). Perhaps we’ll just have to wait for the final, he says optimistically.

There was to be no revisit of 1989

It is, also, a tie that adds to our crowded fixture list. The 9 games over December have already been well documented. With an FA Cup match against Middlesbrough next up after the Spurs game, it gives us another 7(seven) in January.  Don’t cry now, but expect more changes. Expect a team much akin to the one that played Newcastle off the park. Thomas Frank has his league and cup strategies so clearly marked that the only unexpected thing about this week’s triumph was the quite bizarre reaction to our starting XI.

We’re talking about players ; not machines. Fatigue is very real. The squad there for a reason. It may not be the romantic ideal of football in the 70s and 80s where every man from a paper thin squad played every minute. Where there was only one sub per game. Where the actual team was printed in the programme before kick off ! That was then. This is now.

If nothing else, those who have helped get us past four Premier League teams more than deserve their chance to carry on again. Be sure the bench will remain strong if needed. Josh Mourinho picked a Spurs team full of household names to get through. The likes of Harry Kane and Gareth Bale, world class players, there from the off. Will he do the same in January or drastically under estimate the challenge provided by ‘little’ Brentford? I’ve no insight into that one but, looking at how we do things, would suggest it’s a fairly safe bet which way Thomas will go. Isn’t it?

Well…. Thomas has massively set out his stall so far but might the FA Cup tie become the game for sacrificial lambs. For the B team to be given a chance to do their thing. Cripes – who’d be a head coach?  90 minutes from a Wembley final, the temptation to go full strength in the league cup must be immense.

In the end, I guess its a case of expecting a similar team to Tuesday night and giving them both the respect and kudos they deserve. The real surprise for me will be if Thomas goes big. But up against the unpredictable genius that is Jose Mourinho, this most compelling of managers, might he have to out think his rival on and off the pitch? Could it be a case of bluff and double bluff? You can bet the players will be desperate to feature in this one. With the W place near Ikea in his sights, the urge to go with the more familiar option will be huge.

Who starts remains to be seen. Before that – with games crucial to the promotion battle next up against Cardiff, Bournemouth and Bristol City  – continuing our mammoth unbeaten run and picking up the points has to be the focus now.

This week has been amazing, no doubt. The hype sure to build as we get closer to the Tottenham game. For the minute though, its time to concentrate on the league. Even if we are still in the cup.

Nick Bruzon 

Eyes down for a full house. Of sorts….

22 Dec

Here we go. Time for some festive cheer. A Christmas cracker etc etc etc. With London plunged in to Tier 4 and the next few weeks looking like the equivalent of being tied to a chair and force fed Mrs Brown’s Boys on repeat, could Brentford provide a much needed boost to morale? Tuesday evening sees our league cup quarter final with Newcastle United and I for one can’t wait. With doom and gloom all around us (but enough about Mrs Brown’s Boys) the chance of making the semis is a huge opportunity waiting to be taken. The chance to get closer to another appearance at the W place in North London. The chance to increase our lead over Fulham L of Premier league clubs beaten this season. The chance to actually qualify for Europe – via the medium of the Uefa Europa Conference League (UECL) place that goes to the winner. The chance to actually lift a trophy.

There are only eight teams left in this. The Bees and Stoke City sole representatives from outside the top flight. Flying the Championship flag but, equally, there in our own right. Tough opposition in Southampton, West Bromwich Albion and Wycombe Wanderers have already been despatched. And also Fulham L. Thomas Frank’s red and white army unstoppable. Now, 13 games unbeaten as the goals fly in. Ivan Toney doing his thing. Vitaly Janelt our latest unsung hero. Sergi Canos back to his best. Bryan Mbeumo lashing in two top, top goals during the weekend’s destruction of Reading. Rico Henry, surely knocking on the England manager’s door from his left-back berth. The rest of the defence being picked with all the consistency of car keys being plucked from a bowl yet whomever gets selected, locking out those coming at us. 

Bryan did his thing in some style on Saturday

Expect more changes tonight. Ethan Pinnock has served Mads Bech Sorensen’s suspension for the red card at Watford (hmmm) and will surely be catapaulted straight back in to the team. Likewise, Christian Norgaard is fit once more. Could he and Vitaly start alongside each other? Will it be a straight swap? Or is the bench the best he can hope for at present? 

Up top, with coverage beginning at 5.00pm you can set your Sky bingo cards to 5.01pm for mention of ‘Ivan Toney proving a point against former club Newcastle United’. Personally speaking, one can only imagine his primary goals being to see Brentford make it through whilst adding to his own tally for the season.Not sure I could sit through another of his penalty kicks, though. The technique incredible although one that gives me kittens in the run up. Doing it in normal time would be just fine, please.

Positivity is great but let’s not forget who we’re up against. Newcastle United (are they still everyone’s ‘favourite second team’?  – thanks, Sky) remain a top flight club and pushing to win a first trophy since 1969. With the 5-2 tonking handed out by Leeds United still fresh in the mind and then, even worse, failing to beat Fulham L, Steve Bruce will be desperate to inject his own brand of good cheer into the North-East. He’ll have to do it without Allan Saint-Maximin and captain Jamaal Lascelles, both of whom are suffering from the fallout out of Corona Virus. Urghh, there we go. The C word. Just add  – Brentford’s longest run in the competition for a ‘full house’.

The one could go either way. For me, Clive, there’s no sense in trying to predict it. It’s hard enough knowing who is even going to start let alone who will emerge on top. Instead, let’s sit back with some snacks, with a beer and watch the action unfold. The kick off is at 5.30pm and its live on Sky. Grab your bingo card and let’s do this…..

Nick Bruzon 

Bees take their chance in style as Boris misses his.

20 Dec

I’m afraid we must look again at Christmas. As Prime Minister it is my duty to take difficult decisions to do what is right to protect the people of this country. Given the early evidence we have.. it is with a very heavy heart I must tell you we cannot sit through Mrs. Brown’s Boys and it is cancelled with immediate effect”. Not my words. The words of.. Actually, they are mine. If only Boris Johnson had come out with that bit of good cheer last night it may have taken the edge off his Christmas shut down. Alas, no. Instead we were reliant on Brentford to do the business and what a way to put a smile on the face. Bryan Mbeumo leading the charge in a 3-1 defeat of Reading that sees us overtake the Royals and move up to fourth. The Bees now on the longest unbeaten streak in the country (13 games, compared to Liverpool next up with 10 ) and all set for the visit of Newcastle United in the league cup quarter finals on Tuesday.

If only

It was a performance that deserved an audience, that’s for sure. Brentford rather than Boris or Brown. Blinkin’ Covid meant another game having to be played at Lionel Road behind closed doors but such was the excitement at the goals flew in, even sitting on the sofa felt that bit less frustrating . Mathias Jensen getting the first with barely ten minutes on the clock. Man of the month Sergi Canos playing a delightful ball through to the Danish international who shot straight down the corridor of saveability. Somehow, Cabral in goal for the Reading allowed it to go straight through him like a dose of salts. All he could do was turn and watch it bobble over the line. It should never have gone in but they all count. Take the festive gifts while you can or applaud the devious nature of Jensesn’s shot. Either way, the scoreline read 1-0.

Soon it was two. And then three. With less than a half hour played Bryan Mbeumo had put the game to bed. His first, magnificent. Josh Dasilva playing a cross field ball that put me in mind of Nico Yennaris to Jota against QPR. The result was much the same – a wondrous goal. Mbeumo picked it up in his stride, shimmied then unleashed a blockbuster from the corner of the box that left Cabral no chance It was just unreal and goal that deserved to be seen in person. Nevertheless, you could see what it meant to him from the celebrations with Josh and captain for the day, Ivan Toney.

Yessss!!!! What a goal !

Then it was three. This time, Toney turning provider. Bryan in the box, opening up the Reading defence as though it were nothing stronger than poorly wrapped Christmas present held together with value brand tape before firing low past the hapless Cabral. 3-0. 29 minutes gone. Game over man. Game over. More importantly, a return to the Bryan we know and love. Like Sergi, good players don’t go bad overnight. Whilst his name hasn’t been a familiar one on the scoresheet in recent months, this is what he does and what a way to do it ! The squad joining together to keep this fine form going.

Half time came and went. The defence somewhat testing the squad set up to the max. Having started with Fosu in place of Dalsgaard and Charlie Goode for the suspended Ethan Pinnock, Dom Thompson came on for Rico Henry. How he keeps going I’ve no idea but a well earned rest ahead of the Newcastle game. Further changes followed and so perhaps no surprise that , with the foot off the gas a tad, a consolation goal was conceded. But, you know, that was it. The lead could have been extended late on with flurry of chances somehow being kept out by the Reading woodwork and defence. Thomas balancing his changes and his squad to perfection once more. The record books showing a 3-1 victory that pushed Brentford up to fourth in the Championship – three points off second placed Bournemouth. That’ll do me.

Next up, Newcastle United. They’re hot off the back of being tonked 5-2 by Leeds United (the ‘wrong’ team falling apart in that one ) and then being held 1-1 by FulhamL. A chance for the Magpies to restore some pride or Brentford to record a fourth victory over Premier League position this season? Either way, it should be a Christmas cracker. Don’t forget the early kick off for this one . 5.30pm on Sky the time and place, unless you are a director, journalist or club official. Here’s hoping the 200+ can roar us on to victory inside the stadium. Back home, we’ll be screaming at our TVs. And not, for once, because Mrs. Brown is on.

On a day where Liverpool grabbed the main headlines with their 7(seven) – 0 bracketing of Crystal Palace, perhaps the result at Lionel Road will be the one to have far reaching top flight consequences. Talking at full time, Thomas was full of his customary good cheer as he noted, “When you look back at the end of a season there will always be some defining wins, this could be one of them”.

Too true. This time last season we’d just lost at Sheffield Wednesday. The Bees had slipped to ninth and had 30 points. A year later we’re on the rise, with 35 points from the same number of games and sitting pretty in the play-off zone. All this, despite the intensity of game frequency and the inevitable squad rotation that has to go with this. We’ve been saying all season this will be key. That the league (cliché alert, cliché alert) is a marathon not a sprint. How Thomas and his rivals manage resources and know when to rest tired limbs will be the answer to who goes up. So far, we’re doing just fine. With Christian Norgaard on the bench yesterday, there’s the prospect of even better to come.

See you on Tuesday. Even if it is on the sofa.     

Enjoy the goals, again….

Nick Bruzon