Tag Archives: Bluebirds

A season defining game and the chance to correct football’s biggest jinx await.

13 Mar

Well this really is an evening with everything to play for. Whilst most neutral observers may well be focussed on Manchester United and the Champions League, it is the Championship where there’s a story of genuine excitement and intrigue building. Brentford host a Cardiff City team looking to make it 7(seven) successive league wins. Victory will see them afforded a chance to draw level with a Wolves team whose seemingly unassailable lead at New Year has melted away quicker than the snow that caused this fixture to be postponed ten days ago. A gap of 12 points after they beat us in early January has now become just 3. Is it conceivable Cardiff could actually catch up with them tonight?

Let’s just cut that one stone dead in it’s tracks. Whilst something that is technically possible, I can’t see it happening. For one thing, Wolves are also in action. They host a Reading team who have offered little this season and are flirting with the relegation zone a touch too much for their liking. Thankfully for the Royals, the ongoing ineptitude of Birmingham City, Sunderland and Burton should see them home, even if their safety is acquired by accident rather than design.

More importantly, we’re also involved. Brentford thumped Millwall on Saturday in everything but goals scored. It was an extremely frustrating end to an afternoon where we did everything but score. Instead, George Saville did the needful for our genial hosts as Andreas Bjelland was left dead in the water after aggravating an Achilles problem he’d felt in the warm up.

There’s no complaints from me. We’ve been saying all season that goals, rather than possession and opportunity, are what win games. Millwall did what they needed to and then more than rode their luck. Equally though, I’m expecting Brentford to come out of the blocks flying tonight. There’s still a hope of the play offs although an eight point gap is going to need reeling in and with games running out, what better time to start than this evening?

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Functional breeze blocks. Millwall on Saturday

I also fancy Neal Maupay to prove a point tonight. I’ve no doubt that with Dean juggling his squad, the enigmatic striker will be back in the starting XI. If nothing else, he’ll have a point to prove to professional loud mouth and moron, Ian Moose. We all know what the imbecilic Talk Sport shock jock said after our sides met at the Cardiff City stadium back in November (and it wasn’t, “Happy Birthday, my good friend….”). I’m backing Neal to make him eat his own words, something that would be quite ironic given it’s normally the half-time catering that Mr. Moose has a morbid fixation with ingesting.

Expect Neal to start whilst Chris Mepham for Andreas is an absolute given. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sergi given a rest, especially knowing Cardiff’s propensity to concede second half goals. Ten of the last eleven they’ve let in have been after the sides have come back out (and I’ll thank the BBC for that one!). Likewise, could this be the time for Josh McEachran to shine? Back from injury, he’ll no doubt be knocking down Dean’s door with a point to prove.

Sky TV are in attendance tonight. I’m not surprised given what is at stake and the results have fallen wonderfully for them. Whilst Manchester United v Sevilla in the Champions League on BT is the obvious draw to the neutral, this one has got it all to play for. It has so many more sub-plots and possibilities at stake than simply whether Jose Mourinho can grind his team through to their own next round.

Even better, why not get yourself down to Griffin Park? Tickets are still available for what promises to be a potentially season defining game. For both teams. Neil Warnock is the current manager of the month and even managed to dodge ‘the jinx’ after receiving his award on Friday. Win the prize; lose your next game.

Then again, the match immediately after that was against Birmingham City. The Blues are displaying such wonderful anti-form at present they couldn’t organise a banjo in a brewery with a barn door. As such, no surprises Cardiff managed to anger the footballing gods and avoid the traditional post-award slip up.

Instead, it’s up to Brentford to right that wrong. Can The Bees do it? I can’t wait for 7.45 when we find out. See you there.

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Fully dseserved for Neil Warnock. But can The Bees correct the jinx?

Nick Bruzon

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Christmas present from Crystal Palace helps Brentford draw with 12 man Cardiff.

27 Dec

A fair point, lucky to get away with it or robbed? Brentford and Cardiff City shared the spoils in 2-2 Boxing Day draw that sprang to life late in the second half but, prior to that, had been a game which felt as stodgy and bloated as a third helping of sprouts and Christmas pudding. Only the presence of Crystal Palace loanee Sullay Kaikai managing to save the day.

And talking of Christmas puddings (oh, the crowbarring…) referee Simon Hooper was giving out no gifts (the penalty to Cardiff for their opener, aside) as he enraged the Griffin Park faithful, management and players – with Harlee Dean being awarded a yellow card for his (correct) protests at yet another stonewall penalty being turned down.

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Harlee tells the ref what we all think and saw – c/o Beesplayer highlights (below)

It was as shocking a display of refereeing as one could hope to see. Consistently poor decision making as appeals for three nailed on spotkicks were waved away by the man in the middle. But it wasn’t just him.

The assistant on the Braemar Road side  proving absolutely no use in telling him what we could all see. Their existence on the pitch proving pointless which, ironically, was how Brentford were almost left after Cardiff had retaken the lead with minutes on the clock.

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Pointless officials almost left the Bees , erm, empty handed

One point for the visitors would have been harsh, let alone all three. They’d taken the lead in the first half with the one penalty that Mr Hooper saw fit to award, for the most innocuous of innocuous ‘challenges’ (please note: yours, and everybody else’s definition of the word ‘challenge may vary).

Yet if the Bees had been robbed we were hardly making a fight of hauling ourselves back into it. Turgid, apathetic, lazy. Every manner of ’too much Christmas dinner’ related cliche. Any of these would have been an apt description of a team that not so much failed to get going as failed to make it out onto the pitch.

With Cardiff opting to go for muscle , brawn and height there is enough talent in this team to have kept it on the deck and run rings around them. Instead, it was tedium in football form. Bounced off the challenge and as many sideways and backwards passes as attempts to take it forward dominated our play. The first half was, frankly, as entertaining as a Christmas cracker joke.

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Answers on a postcard…

An hour in, substitutions . And good ones. McEachran for Sawyers and Sullay Kaikai for Lasse Vibe. Neither had played well whilst, for whatever reasons, the form of our great Dane seems to have long gone off the boil. How he is still justifying a starting berth is confusing to many but, with the new look team in place, things did step up.

With an added positive substitution of Philipp Hofmann coming on for Bjelland, the Bees began to push. And push. The penalty appeals aside, it was surely going to be matter of time.

And then it happened. Visiting ‘keeper Brian Murphy could no longer hold off the red hoardes as, despite a number of fine saves, he finally saw his net bulge courtesy of a quite magnificent effort from Sullay Kaikai. That’s one to hit rewind for again and again once the official highlights come out (until then, we have the Sky variant available).

Mark Burridge now on hand for ‘official’ comms

But with the Bees pressing for a late winner, we were caught short. Kenneth Zohore beating the last man when played on side and, with a generous shove chucked into the mix, was able to fire the Bluebirds into an 89th minute 2-1 lead.

With fans trooping out early for the pub, and City gloating, it was dead in the water, wasn’t it? Those who stayed were rewarded for their faith. That man Kaikai popping up again to head home John Egan’s cross and salvage a point for the Bees.

We should have won this. We could have lost it. Don’t let the anti-performance of the referee or our late surge disguise the fact that we were so desperately poor for huge swathes of this game. But for the Crystal Palace man we’d have had few complaints, barring the referee, at coming away empty handed.

A team just can’t rely on arbitrary decision making from the man in the middle to determine their fate. Cardiff offered nothing beyond grunt yet even that was too sophisticated for the Bees in the opening hour.

The record books will show a point earned and, in the longer term, we’ll have few complaints. Yet I do wonder why Dean’s teams are so inconsistent and such late starters?  Why can’t we play for 90 minutes? See also : Birmingham City . Why do we just fail to turn up at times? See also: Barnsley, Norwich City and Fulham.

I’ve no issue losing but the consistency, or lack off, is perplexing. We just don’t know which Brentford we’re going to get. Here’s hoping that when we play Norwich City on New Year’s Eve it’ll be the one that humped Reading 4-1 or Preston 5-0 way back in September.

Not the Brentford who got turned over 5-0 at Carrow Road earlier this month.

On Dec 31st, we find out. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Can Dean match the heights of some illustrious company?

19 Apr

Brentford host Cardiff City this evening with head coach Dean Smith aiming to continue April’s unbeaten run after seeing the Bees pick up three wins and a draw since March came to an end. It is an identical record to Chris Hughton’s Brighton whilst only Aitor Karanka and Middlesbrough have better form after winning all five of their games this month. With the Bees now aiming to finish as high as possible, what’s left for us ?

Dean has made no secret of his desire to finish in the top ten. There’s currently a 4 point gap to Preston in 10th and 5 to Birmingham in ninth. With a game in hand it’s more than possible, statistically speaking, although translating that into actual points will be a big ask.

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Russell Slade – has gone down in Brentford legend

And its not going to be easy tonight. For Cardiff City, a win is an absolute must. Five points outside the play-off places , anything but an away win will surely see our teams tied together for another season. Of course, Russell Slade will be celebrating like he’s won the FA Cup if he can secure the points and make some ground on Sheffield Wednesday.

The irony of his doing that two years and a day after those incredible scenes as the Bees went up would be lost on nobody.Despite his team going on a recent mini slump that has seen two draws and a loss,  you can bet he’ll have the Bluebirds fired up.

Then again, so will Dean. Since the injuries that have robbed his midfield of John Swift and Josh McEachran, the team have looked a different prospect. Whilst no side could say they were the same without the quality of Alan Judge, even Saturday against Bristol City saw us go so close to making it four in a row as the Bees continued with their attacking intent.

For all Dean talks about 10th, closer to home another win could make the battle for April’s ‘Manager of the month’ an interesting one. Of course, Aitor Karanka remains a shoe in for that as it stands with those 15 points out of 15. Yet with his Middlesbrough outfit facing fellow title chasers Burnley tonight (that’ll be some game) should Andre Gray and co do the business then it opens that one right up.

For me, the target still remains the Bees ending up as the top side in West London. We’re 6 clear of Fulham and only 3 behind the Loftus Road mob (with a game in hand).

Whilst Dean scooping an award in April will be a sign that we’re on track for that one, its a short term aspiration. If the Bees can finish top of this mini-pile after 46 games then I think that after all the ups and downs, the season will have been considered to have  ended on a high.

That’s a big ‘IF’ and, as I say, it won’t be easy tonight. Should anybody be in any doubt I’ll just put two words out there…

Stuart. Attwell.

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8 people liked the official announcement. Wow !

And finally, an apology. Yesterday’s column looked, in part, at the tour-de-force that was Sean Ridley hosting Terrace Talk. As part of this, it was noted that he ended his feature chasing after a duck.

I realise, now, this was wrong. In fact I am reliably informed it was an Egyptian Goose. So caught up was I in the excitement of his quite wonderful performance (and if you haven’t seen it yet, please do) that I’ve made a basic ornithological mix up.

I’m sorry.

That said, Sean has left a tough act to follow. No pressure, Jo 🙂

Nick Bruzon

Can Bees beat Slade to Christmas number one?

20 Dec

Brentford travel to Cardiff City today knowing that a win and the usually unreliable ‘other results going in our favour’ could see us joint top of the Championship table on Christmas day. It is a game most fans have been looking forward to for months and, moreso, because it gives us a chance to renew acquaintances with Russell Slade.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

 Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

Dear Wales Online – welcome to West London

5 May

Boo hoo hoo. Poor Cardiff City – having to travel to Brentford rather than Manchester United next season.And this is meant as no offence to ‘Bluebirds’ supporters but, simply, the obvious reaction to the numpties at ‘Walesonline’.

The Welsh website couldn’t have have written a more patronising, lazy and poorly researched article if they’d tried. Fancy that, having to visit Griffin Park next season. It’s here, if you want to see what they are whining about.

Let’s face it, a trip to Old Trafford is hardly a lifestyle choice for a team who have been fortunate enough to grace the top flight for a solitary season. I wish them well – genuinely. As a Brentford fan, I know what it is like to cheer on the underdog.

However, after years of trying (and don’t forget it was only a decade ago that we shared the same, third, division) Cardiff City finally made a return to the promised land. And then, promptly, left it on the first train back to the Championship.

I wouldn’t wish relegation on anybody. Moreso those that have to suffer the random stylings of crackpot owner Vincent Tan. But for those journalists who had just got used to the Old Trafford prawn sandwiches, get ready for the Griffin Park Balti Pies.

One things for sure and, to quote ‘Walesonline’,  “It ain’t going to be as glamorous”.