Tag Archives: blog

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

24 Jan

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

Fingers at the ready

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

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

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

David Raya has been missed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

photoshop skills don’t match imagination

Nick Bruzon

Left or right? Who were the top performers?

23 Jan

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

Jamchester United. Bees miss out after storming performance.

20 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

In your own time, Cristiano

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

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

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

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

See you there  

Nick Bruzon

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

18 Jan

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

Liverpool has been and gone now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

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

18 Jan

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

Could we actually do this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two for the price of one

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon 

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

15 Jan

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

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

What an afternoon it was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That biro

Nick Bruzon

And the top five Brentford perfomers were…..

11 Jan

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

No celebrations at full time

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

Time for another road trip (or three). League and cup action await.

10 Jan

Brentford will travel to Everton in the fourth round of the FA Cup – ties to be played the weekend of 5th February. Along with Spurs v Brighton and Wolves v Norwich, it is one of only three all Premier League ties. Meaning there’s a good chance of the BBC going for TV coverage along with the inevitable bore fest that will be Manchester United v Middlesbrough. Unless, of course, Aston Villa can spare us all from that one tonight when they travel to Old Trafford for the final game of the round. Manchester City have the chance to warm up for our visit the following week with a home draw against EFL club Fulham whilst next on our tour of the Premier League, Southampton, are home to Coventry City.

There was immediate, perhaps bizarre, excitement in our house when Everton came out of the hat. Aside from our own recent 1-0 win and an earlier than expected chance to visit a new ground, if Brentford show half the oomph we did against Port Vale then it could be a classic. A 4-1 win on the road with Mads Bidstrup subsequently described by Thomas Frank as a little bit of our N’Golo Kanté  ( “A big, big claim of course” – Thomas’ own words ). Talking about his “Big engine”, he used the post-match to lavish praise on the midfielder, enthusing that “his ability to press and cover so many yards across the pitch is fantastic and that acceleration when he just goes past people, I think that’s so good in the pressure.”

Mads’ reward is another ‘away’ tie.

Then, of course, we’ve the prospect of another run in with everyone’s favourite Brazilian.  Pele, Socrates, Zico, Ronaldinho…. Allan. As has already been documented on these pages, the midfielder has become a cult hero to rival Argentina’s Lucas Biglia in our house. Any chance of some bonus Allan action is one which we’ll always opt for. Especially if Everton continue to, what’s the polite term, ‘misfire’ as much as they have done in recent months. League form is best described as patchy, with only Leeds United and Watford standing between them and the bottom three.

Meaning that the purse strings could be severely tested, given the trip to Manchester City in the Premier League is just a few days later. A 7.45pm kick off on Wednesday 9th February. Tickets for that one go on sale this Tuesday afternoon for anyone clearing that first TAP threshold of 3,400.  Away capacity for League games at The Ethiad is reckoned to be about 3,000 across the three tiers of the South Stand, so hopefully anyone with requisite form will be able to get in should they so desire. Definitely one where we’ll need to flex the plastic to cover costs.

Before all that we head to Southampton on Tuesday evening. They had the pleasure of a ‘behind closed doors’ tie in Swansea at the weekend (its Wales, innit). That one went to extra time before the Saints went, if not marching, certainly limping on.

Ralph Hasenhüttl telling Sky that his much changed team may not have enough players for tomorrow’s game, saying, ”We never know. At the moment, it’s all about lottery… You wake up in the morning and go to the training ground. You sit at breakfast and you are waiting for new [coronavirus] cases. The problem is with the fixtures coming up. It doesn’t get any easier.”

So far (Monday morning) there aren’t any noises being made about applications to have the game called off or training grounds being closed. Fingers crossed this is nothing more than sabre rattling and mind games. As much for the players’ health as the additional chaos caused by any more backlog. Let’s not forget that this fixture has already been put back once.

For Brentford, expect to see more of Bryan Mbeumo. He was back to his brilliant best, with Thomas waxing lyrical about his half hour appearance form the bench. Less the proverbial cameo and more scene stealing. Our head coach nothing that “I must say he’s been the same for us this year in the Premier League. He’s done really well after coming back from injury. We knew he wanted to play in the Cup to be in with a chance of being ready for Tuesday at Southampton and he’s just come in with three quality finishes”.

Too true, and surely he’ll find his way back in to the Brentford front line alongside Ivan when the teams are named at 6.46 on Tuesday evening.

In the meantime, you can read that piece in full, here. Come for Mads. Stay for Bryan.

For now, though, it’s a chance to charge the battery packs and prepare for the trip to Southampton. Don’t forget those Manchester City tickets tomorrow and, whilst we wait to find out when that Everton game will actually take place (Liverpool are also at home so something will have to give) here’s the rest of the draw in full….

Safe travels to the South coast and see you there…

Fourth round ties…

Crystal Palace v Hartlepool United

Bournemouth v Boreham Wood

Huddersfield Town v Barnsley

Peterborough United v Queens Park Rangers

Cambridge United v Luton Town

Southampton v Coventry City

Chelsea v Plymouth Argyle

Everton v Brentford

Kidderminster Harriers v West Ham United

Manchester United/Aston Villa v Middlesbrough

Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton and Hove Albion

Liverpool v Cardiff City

Stoke City v Wigan Athletic

Nottingham Forest v Leicester City

Manchester City v Fulham

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Norwich City

Allan awaits

Nick Bruzon

The New Year started with a bang. Now, the games come thick and fast.

7 Jan

And so it begins again. Covid may have put paid to the traditional December fixture pile up but, instead, Brentford see the games coming thick and fast in January. We’ve got Port Vale in the FA Cup this Saturday, swiftly followed by a midweek trip to Southampton and then Liverpool away on Sunday week. That, in itself, a topic of huge contention as supporters were once again proven to be the second class citizens we so clearly are in the eyes of those pulling the strings. This is swiftly followed by the rearrangement of the home game with Manchester United (Wednesday 19 Jan). The one cancelled at the 11th hour after their covid outbreak. The one following the insipid performance at Norwich. Then, a fortnight after that FA Cup, we’ve the visit from Wolves in the league. As it stands. Who knows these days?

Another journey on the “Road to Wembley” begins

First up, the FA Cup. Thomas Frank has used his press conference to confirm that Kris Ajer will start that game. His return to fitness is magnificent news. Primarily for his own contributions so far this season, where he has hit the ground running despite the tougher challenge compared to the Scottish Premier league. His own comments about it being easy to make the step up from a division where you are expected to win even game have, so far, been proven. Brentford have most definitely been stronger with Kris in the team whilst his return is as welcome given the injuries still being felt by Zanka and Charlie Goode. All being well he comes out of this unscathed against opponents who will no doubt be going for the juggular. 

Their own recent battles with Covid and fixture congestion means that Vale are sure to start strong. Thomas telling the media that manager Darrell Clarke, “Needs a game for his starting XI. We know they like to play and attack but we will be ready for that.

Trying to help Brentford avoid slipping up on an FA Cup potato skin will be Bryan Mbeumo although for Rico Henry it is seen as “One step too early for Saturday”. Sergi Canos and Matthias Jensen also miss out although should be available for Southampton.

Whether either will start that game is another matter altogether. Janelt, Baptiste and Norgaard are the absolute three nailed on names for just about every Brentford fan, subject to fitness. Likewise, with Mads Roerslev in fine form down the right, it looks like a three way battle between Sergi, Dominic Thompson or even Saman Ghoddos until Rico is ready once more. The later in particular impressing against Aston Villa and breaking in to the top five performers in the post match player review.

The FA Cup is then followed by Southampton (a), Liverpool (a), Manchester United (h) and Wolves (h). Four Premier League games in 12 days. The sort of congestion we saw following lockdown one. Or was it two? The difference this time around being that fans will be present to roar us on. We all know what a difference the atmosphere makes with the crowd really helping drag the players back into that second half against Aston Villa. The visits of the ‘big’ clubs seeing things go nuts from the off and so expect the roof to be ripped off when we get a visit from possibly the biggest of all during this run. Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Our games with Wolves have always been special. Going neck and neck in both League One and the Championship over the last ten years, its been wonderful crossing paths once more in the top flight. Long may the duel continue. Especially if we pull out the result as we did up at Molineux earlier in the season. Another ice-cool penalty from Ivan Toney, a wonder tackle from Kris Ajer and a new pair of gloves for David Raya being the stand out moments from a fine win on the road.

Another round in the ongoing battle of Wolves v Bees approaches.

Before that is the rearranged trip to Liverpool (thoughts on which will likely be saved for the programme column for Manchester United) followed up by the visit from the Red Devils. Certainly two of the toughest fixtures in a back to back sequence of league games. One does have to wonder how they’ll cope with these two? The trip to Lionel Road to take on Brentford is followed by Man U then hosting a West Ham United side looking to consolidate their own, perhaps unexpected, challenge for that fourth Champions League spot. 

Two tough games but that’s their problem. For Brentford, it’s all about Port Vale (the ‘official’ build up is here) and Southampton. Perhaps with half an eye on Anfield. There’s a lot of excitement to come, that’s for sure. Beating Aston Villa was immense. Moreso after Trezeguet attempted to mug us off after channeling his inner Platoon late on. Instead, three points were earned and the Bees started the new year with a bang. Long may it continue. 

Here’s to a glut of football. See you there. Until then, here’s the only ‘highlight’ from last time out.

Nick Bruzon

New video footage shines different light on worst dive ever.

4 Jan

There’s no Premier League action for Brentford until next and the trips to Southampton / Liverpool. We’ve got the FA Cup this weekend but before then we’ve got the last knockings from the Aston Villa game at the weekend. Of course, that ended with both a 2-1 win for the Bees and a last second piece of hammy theatrics from Trézéguet so blatant, so sub-Rivaldo and just so ludicrous as to earn mockery from all over the internet and beyond. Even Match Of The Day 2 laying in to the most cringe inducing dive since Greg Louganis at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. It was a dive which produced an unexpected delivery to the Last Word inbox. Namely, new video footage of the incident that you’ll absolutely want to see.

How it appeared at first

First up, we’ve got the player ratings for Brentford. The ongoing quest to see who will end the season as our outstanding performer aswell as looking at the top five individual ratings on a game by game basis. The Aston Villa results can be found here. If nothing else, we’ve been given a clue as to how the team for Southampton may well look.

Then, just when the weekend looked like if had drawn to a close we had more. Specifically, more Trézéguet. And no, this wasn’t the picture of him spark out on a plane, accompanying Liverpool legend Mo Salah to the African Cup of Nations.

Instead, a mystery benefactor sent through additional footage of the Trézéguet incident. Whilst most fans are hoping for some retrospective punishment, has the Aston Villa man been wronged?

Was there outside influence from the much touted ‘sniper in the crowd’ theory?

Or was it just a shit dive?

We’ll never know because the Premier League have since had it taken down after close on 50,000 views. Their call. Instead, we’ve gone for a different take – namely, an artist’s impression of events.

Over to you….

Nick Bruzon