Tag Archives: Brentford blog

One shot. One goal. No excuses. No sales.

4 Aug

Every good run comes to an end. Birmingham City enjoyed that rarest of experiences on Saturday afternoon, victory over Brentford, after coming away from Griffin Park with all three points for the first time since 2016. It was our first home defeat on the opening game of a season since 1992 – that, a 2-0 loss to Wolves which ushered in the start of the post Dean Holdsworth era and saw talismanic Terry Evans crocked for the vast majority of the campaign. It almost felt like that with Neal Maupay missing amid the stories linking him with Brighton, Aston Villa et al not going away. Yet there was plenty to be encouraged by  from what was, ultimately, a frustrating afternoon. One not helped by referee Gave Ward doing his very best to lose control of the game in the second half.

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Deano and Terry  – their last game together as Bees

With transfer speculation hanging heavy in the air, there was an audible gasp when the team was announced 59 minutes before kick off. Or was that just my asthma? No Neal Maupay in the 18. A bench where Josh Clarke was the most experienced of those named by Thomas Frank. Kamo and Benrahma both absent (although that had been expected, given fitness reasons as much as anything else).

Despite those missing, Ollie Watkins (whose name has been linked with Crystal Palace on the clickbait sites all week) did start and hit the ground running. As did my man of the match, Sergi Canos. With Pontus Jansson named as captain at the heart of a three man central defence the new look Brentford  team still had a solid feel to it. And it WAS new look, with only three of those who started the equivalent game last season, the 5-1 pasting of Rotherham, beginning this one. Sergi, Ollie and Henrik – for the record.  

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View from the Braemar – Captain Jansson impressed.

But with Peter Gilham getting the crowd going, his task aided by the presence of Harlee Dean (C) in the blue of Birmingham City, Thomas Frank’s boys wasted no time in pouring forward. Surely it was only a matter of time. Boom – the crossbar hit not once but twice in close succession as the goal threatend. A clutch of great saves from Lee Camp. Another onto the post. Shots fizzing just wide. A goal was coming….wasn’t it?

We’re in danger doing a Brentford here”, I quipped to one Braemar Road observer sitting alongside after the second shot onto the bar. That, from Marcondes who may be disappointed not to have found the net in retrospect.  Within 30 seconds Kristian Pedersen had headed the visitors into the lead. A quickly taken free kick where I’m not sure if Mr. Ward had even blown was met deep. Nobody picked up Pedersen’s short run and his precision header looped over and in from distance. One effort. One goal. One nil to the visitors. 

Much like Shakira’s hips, the stats don’t lie. At least, the one that says ‘goals scored’.  Despite that being they solitary time Birmingham threatened, and our own first half dominance which saw the game end on 76% possession to Brentford, the only piece of data that really counts is balls in the back of the net. And Birmingham City edged that. Somehow. Yet goals win games and, as such, one can’t try to deny them the points.

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Brentford 0 Birmingham City 1

Looking across social media and match reports, the ‘d’ word is being floated around by all manner of observers. Deserved, not Dean. Yes, we looked fantastic at times. Yes, we DID play well in the first half. Very.  But NO, we didn’t deserve to win because we couldn’t score a goal. We slowed down noticeably in the second half and looked laborious in the build up where the cut and thrust of the wide men and wing backs had diminished noticeably. No matter how leaden, physical and solid Birmingham City looked, they did manage to score and then succeeded in closing us out. On the plus side, I take heart from the clear and almost universal recognition of the way played for a significant chunk of this game.

I liked the look of Mathias Jensen in the centre of the park when he was able to push forward although Romaine and Kamo were clearly conspicuous by their absence. Josh Dasilva struggled whilst one free kick that he took from the heart of Saunders territory ended up in the heart of Tarkowski territory as it cleared the Ealing Road stand.

Romaine’s not coming back – we’ll just have to get over it – but Kamo’s presence around the ground did put a smile on the face at full time. As did a chance encounter with Sam Saunders who was as amiable as ever when discussing the game with an enthralled HB. Something all the more special given that the uttering of standard line: “And this is Saunders territory…” when the aforementioned free kick was awarded was met with the response “Daddy? What IS Saunders territory?” Where do you even start? Just not with the wife….

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Ian Moose was loitering. Amazingly, a look at his Twitter feed this morning shows there’s no criticism of Neal Maupay’s performance. Despite the player’s absence it is a mode that seems so hard-wired into the Talk Sport shock jock that I half expected to see some form of negativity towards Neal. Perhaps the pillars were in his way.

For now though, there’s nothing more to do beyond clenching the buttocks ahead of our trip to Middlesbrough on Saturday.  We’ve another painful wait until the transfer window finally slams shut at 5pm on Thursday afternoon. Will Neal still be here or might Brighton make an offer we can’t refuse? Has Said’s absence made him invisible to big spending Aston Villa? Indeed, has Dean Smith run out of money after his latest acquisitions this week in Tom Heaton and Marvelous Nakamba ? Might the Griffin Park ‘in’ door swing further ? 

All or none of the above happening wouldn’t surprise me. The one thing to expect these days is the unexpected. Let’s not forget that despite all the rumours and whispers, nothing has actually happened as it stands. None of the names in the frame have left the club. All we can do is sit tight and wait to see who Thomas has available when the team sheet is handed in at the Riverside.

Enjoy.

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The look from Thomas says it all….

Nick Bruzon

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My morning with Bush interrupts one kit launch and one kit ‘launch’.

18 Jul

Clanggggg – the sound of a name being dropped. There was no Last Word yesterday as a previous football related engagement with Absolute Radio (more to follow) meant it was a case of being up, ready and out of the house before 6am – the usual point at which this nonsense is being put together. Which was gutting for this kit nerd given that the previous day had seen the launch of the new Brentford away shirt. Gut reaction to that one is that we have an absolute stunner. On the plus side, it means we have had time to ‘enjoy’ the ‘hilarious’ ‘joke’ shirt launch at Huddersfield Town. At least, I am assuming it is a joke launch – at the time of writing that has yet to be confirmed.

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It is what it says

Tuesday morning had seen these pages looking for a potential ‘away’ shirt at some point this week. Two hours later and it was on us. Coincidence and pot luck rather than anything more sinister at play, I assure you. I hope. Then again, nothing to hurt by writing that I’m fairly sure Neal Maupay will be signing a contract extension in the next couple of days. Move along – nothing to see here. Back to the shirt.

Oh. My. Word. Umbro and Kitman Bob really have hit the jackpot this season. I loved the home version. Our change strip is glorious. Discarding all the usual techno-babble about breathable material, seams, side panels etc etc that goes with these things, we’ll cut to the chase . If for no other reason than everybody has seen it whilst Luis Adriano has dissected this (and previous versions) in magnificent detail already – do look at his piece which you can find here.

Black. Jet Black. Yellow trim. A monochromatic badge. Bee colours. Beautiful. Just beautiful. It’s the first time in a few seasons I’ll be buying a home and an away kit which, given the state of yours truly’s bank balance, is no small claim. We’ve got it wrong or come close so many times but to hit the mark first time out with both shirts is testament to the partnership being formed with Umbro.

One can only imagine what we’ll have lined up for the third shirt which, reading between the lines, IS coming. Kitman Bob’s tweet in response to a question of whether that would be delivered,  suggesting that we enjoy this one first, implies that there is more to come. And definitely not just me reading into this what I want to.

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Great work all round

Talking of Kitman Bob, his Wiz Khalifa clue from earlier in the summer paid out in wonderful style. With fans guessing he meant ‘Black and Yellow’ it was another nice touch from Brentford ‘official’ to title the launch email “Yeah, uh huh, you know what it is…”. They lyrical amongst us / those who double checked on google, just in case (delete as applicable) obviously recognising the opening line from the former Billboard 100 chart topper.

The only downside to any of this is that the ditching of Adidas means we’ve no hope of ever seeing the brown/orange again. Even in the event of a colour clash against, say, Bournemouth who play in red and black. Yet as we bemoaned this sad loss, one Twitter correspondent noted: You’ve just married Helena Christiansen and you’re lusting over Ann Widdicombe?

Personally, I’d say that it was more a case of just marrying Helena Christiansen then lusting over Cameron Diaz. They’re both great. They’re both Brentford. Or are they….

Next up. Huddersfield Town. Yawn. Urghh. Yesterday’s sponsor joke being played at their expense, yet seemingly in full co-operation with the club, has kind of backfired. The obvious knee jerks of disgust were all over social media within nano-seconds. If for no other reason than how do you mess up a sash kit? Surely that’s sartorially impossible?  Peru, Crystal Palace, Vasco da Gama of Brazil have all proven many times how wonderful this design feature can look. 

Then there was the realisation that the size of this logo clearly breached the 250 square centimetre area on the front of a kit permitted for such advertising. The FA have been obliged to step in as we all waste time waiting for the true reveal. I could bang on but, frankly, nobody wants to read about it. The sponsor have achieved their presumed aim of getting people talking about them. Huddersfield, meanwhile, have a short term ‘cult’ classic that is truly deserving of the title: Worst. Shirt. Ever. And given it was worn in last night’s friendly game, could technically now be deemed canon. Even if only for one game. We can all moan about the attrocities at play but the ultimate realisation that people are using the phrase ‘bantz’ to describe what is happening is reason enough to consign this whole sorry affair to the waste bin of history.

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Don’t. Promote. Sponsor.

Moving on, I was fortunate enough to be a history maker yesterday morning. Innovation in action, care of Absolute Radio – whom we talk about on these pages from time to time. Ahhh, who could forget Christian O’Connnell and Cameron Diaz in the ‘Are you a Brentford fan’ reveal…? 

This time, it was care of Hometime DJs Andy Bush and Richie Firth  – on the five-a-side pitch.

Who doesn’t love this version of the game? Well, me these days. Primarily because family life means that playing after work is no longer an option. Why go for glory on the astroturf when there’s a school run to do?  And nothing to do with knackered knees or lungs.

So when the chance of flipping the traditional post-work format of the game on its head via an 8am kick-off  presented itself I was there. Boots out of retirement, gloves back on and goalkeeper for Bushia Dortmund. 

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What a morning. What a game. What a concept. An 8-7 defeat and swollen finger are a small price to pay for being part of the future. It was magnificent fun. I’d love to blame our narrow loss on the fact that Richie’s Railway Madrid featured a player who was the spit of the villain out of Superman 2 (from that spinny space mirror thing) and had his strength but, ultimately, it was down to my crapness. And Richie’s dexterity as opposing ‘keeper. Very much Neville Southall at the end of his career – in more ways than one. Yet if we can take one thing away from all of this it is that morning football is the way forward.  

Huge thanks to Bush, Richie and all at Absolute Radio. The full video goes live today. The teaser is below. The podcast is up already – you can find that one here.  There’s more to follow.    

Until then, you may want to kindly please download the annual Last Word season review for e-book for your kindle, iPod telephone or other electronic reading device. You you can do so, here, with the important bit being that all proceeds received from the £1.99 sale price go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

It’s shonky, there are typos in it (still) but what better way to while away your time on the commute to work, the toilet, holiday or just simply relive some of the exciting moments from last campaign as we wait for Bob to (hopefully) do his thing for the third time. And then prepare to see them blown out of the water in 2019/20.

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Nick Bruzon

Neal going? Neal staying? Names – and nonsense – all over the place.

14 Jul

Yawn. Rumours. We should be talking about amazing things such as how the live YouTube stream of Dynamo Kyiv v Brentford (0-0) held stable throughout Saturday morning’s game. About how solid we looked at the back – second half especially (sadly, HB’s football club meant I missed a first half that Thomas Frank would later describe in glowing terms). We should be talking about the wonderful new home strip that the team wore and whether this may be the week where the ‘away’ colours finally put in an appearance (Come on Umbro, do your thing. Please). About our first proper look at the likes of Pontus Jansson and David Raya. But instead, it is all Neal Maupay – Sheffield United, Leeds United, Aston Villa and now even West Ham are being added to the rumour mill. Presumably as a result of their non-purchase of Scott Hogan a few years back.

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Still hoping to say happy birthday to my good friend next season – to coin a phrase

OK – let’s just cut to the chase and deal with the Neal Maupay situation from this perspective. That of outsider looking in and, as such, not privy to any club knowledge. Oh to have Phil Giles or Matthew Benham’s numbers in my i-pod telephone now. But, to be fair, even if I did I can’t imagine either party would be letting any cats out of bags. Why would they? This is a football club – not a committee meeting between supporters and top brass. Strategies and models have been laid out, precedents have been set and trust has long been earned. The amount of money invested in this club over the last 10 years and the players we have seen are a thing to behold. The sight of the new stadium springing up at Lionel Road, something to make the heart beat a little bit faster every time I walk past it.

I’m not in the employ of the club. Yes, I write in the match day programme but that’s voluntary and as much for my own pleasure or the chance to sneak past the editor some ‘in jokes’, a couple of references that only two or three other New Road Observers, Ealing Road fans & Braemar Road residents may get or simply a few open digs at our rivals. Thanks, Sam 😉

If something needs to be said on these pages then it’ll be said. But frankly, it hasn’t in recent years. The team are magnificent. Our top brass open and engaged. Our transfer business phenomenal. We’ve shrewdly and carefully built this club up. Improved and strengthened . Seen new heroes created. And, yes, leave. I still weep at the though of Jota sent to St. Andrews but take comfort in the fact that he is, at least, now an Aston Villa player. There’s one name going straight into my Fantasy Football team. Perhaps alongs side Chris Mepham, Ezri Konsa and number 26.

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Oh, Jota….. Any excuse

I also know that, like myself, we’ve a hardcore of long standing supporters for whom this positive period is something that still feels somewhat unusual. That success is brilliant but odd. That we’re only a moment away from selling Dean Holdsworth and replacing him with Murray Jones. To saying farewell Nicky Forster, Andy Sinton, DJ Campbell et al. That it’s Brentford, innit. Something is bound to go wrong. We’ll discover that Lionel Road is built on the site of an ancient burial ground. That somebody messed up the bluerprints and got the cms / inches mixed up a la Spinal Tap. That Neal Maupay’s contract was signed with invisible ink that is slowly disintegrating before our very eyes.

But it won’t. The evidence is there before our eyes. The difference is that when things happen that supporters may not like  – primarily the sale of a fan favourite – we now have a Plan B and C already lined up and in operation. Sometimes we sell early. Sometimes we sell late. Always we invest in potential. Now we are also investing in experience. The signing of Pontus Jansson a huge marker post that things continue to evolve at Griffin Park. 

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The final piece is lowered in to place at Lionel Road. Errrr “Chaaaaappp-mannnnn”

It is so apparent how things work these days. That Brentford still feels very much our club despite Matthew Benham and his team being at the helm. That they are deserving of our faith and trust. Be honest, NO football club is going to share transfer plans and divulge details of bids to supporters or journalists. Not even Brentford. Ignore the clickbait. Ignore the rumour. Trust the system.

Sure, Neal Maupay may well end up leaving us imminently. He may not. He was missing from the Dynamo Kyiv game, with Thomas conforming at full time that he had gone back to France for a couple of days but that there was nothing wrong with his approach and he’d be in training next week. Likewise, Said Benrahama although Kamo will be out for a few more weeks given his extended progress at the African Cup Of Nations.   

I’m not an idiot. I know we’re in clickbait season and that all manner of publications publish all manner of nonsense. Some of it may stick in hindsight. Most of it won’t. Maupay can’t be going to Aston Villa, Sheffield United AND West Ham. Romaine Sawyers can’t be going to Leeds United AND Aston Villa. Somebody might move. They might not. I’d love it if Neal lines up against Birmingham City on August 3rd. Absolutely love it. If only because I think he’ll destroy Harlee Dean and that’s worth anybody’s entrance fee. Let’s be blunt – I do NOT want him to leave. No matter how strong my trust in the system.

But, at the same time, IF he does then it’s not going to be a case of wailing and moaning. Most of our fans seem to get it, too. A twitter poll set up by the GPG (below) showed only 29% of voters saying that Neal must stay whatever. Likewise, the piece published by fellow blogger Luis Adriano – which you can read here – really hits the nail/neal on the head.

The last few years have more than shown that the board know what they are doing. Without Matthew Benham there probably wouldn’t even be a club now. We’d likely be watching AFC Brentford Phoenixes running out against Dulwich Hamlet or some such. Look at how Leyton Orient’s fortunes changed as a result of roping those three points to Marcello Trotta’s goal when we celebrated like we’d won the FA Cup. Look at how Doncaster and Yeovil have fared since being promoted at our expense the season prior.

We may not always do it immediately. But we ARE doing it right. I’d love Neal and/or Said to stay and really hope they do. Yet if they don’t, we’ll survive and who knows who we’ll unearth next….  

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The mutual love at Brentford is palpable – from Neal to Said and beyond

Nick Bruzon

The Brentford transfer machine rolls on. Will Dean swoop again?

12 Jul

And then the door swung the other way. Following the sudden influx of players to Griffin Park, it was perhaps inevitable that Daniel Bentley would not be alone in leaving Brentford. Sure enough, the expected sale of Ezri Konsa to Aston Villa was announced yesterday. With Pontus Jansson ( thanks, Leeds United ) and Ethan Pinnock (c/o Barnsley) having been unveiled in recent weeks, something was going to give. With the BBC reporting a sale price of £12million, a year after Ezri joined us for £2.5m from Charlton, Dean Smith has got his man and Matthew Benham has more than balanced his books.

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Nice work. Nice training gear. Sponsored by Wolves?

Much as when Dean himself moved to Aston Villa in October, the universal reaction seems to be one of positivity and well wishes from the Griffin Park faithful. The arrivals of Ethan from Barnsley and, especially, Pontus from Leeds United had more than boosted morale whilst signposting a back three that will presumably feature Julian Jeanvier as the final part of this defensive Holy Trinity. Likewise, turning around a price differential of close to £10m in such a short space of time for a player who is already part of the England U-21 set up. Very much a case of win-win for all parties. 

Presumably we’ve added the usual sell on, appearance, international clauses that seem to be our way these days. Whether Charlton Athletic did the same last time out, who knows, but I’ve seen words out there to suggest this was not the case. Then again, that could be the usual conjecture and clickbait that is so prevalent at this time of year so perhaps best to draw a discreet veil and move on. Ultimately, we’ve got a price we’re happy with and Ezri has a dream move to the Premier League. 

If selling a CB seemed an obvious move , what about central midfield? With Dean Smith having already taken old boys Jota and Ezri to Aston Villa, could he be looking to a third? Is there any substance to the Romaine Sawyers / Leeds United stories that are flavour of the week? Again, dispensing with all gossip the fact that we have picked up Nørgaard and Jensen makes us suddenly look very strong in that area with Romaine and Kamo already in situ. Especially given the Thomas Frank preference for a plethora of centrebacks and wide men.

Clickbait journos are putting 2+2 together . Strength in depth. Our approach of selling on. Dean Smith hoovering up his old boys. The Leed United rumours. As an outsider looking in, I can see why. As an outsider looking in, I’ve no idea whether they have got 4 or 5. And I don’t particularly care. 

By which I mean that I obviously want the best for the squad. I want to see how it all plays out and who will be in that starting XI to face Harlee Dean and whoever else is left at Birmingham City when they visit on August 3rd. But to overly expend energy following clickbait and rumour or upsetting myself over what is so clearly outside of any control is time that could be infinitely better spent. There are away shirts to launch, pre-season friendlies to follow, Tyrolean tour blogs to read, Leeds fans to get upset and season review e-books (all proceeds to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust) to download here.

Subtle as a Neal Maupay goal celebration but I thank you for your indulgence.

There’s not much else to say today beyond a final good luck to Ezri. I’m sure there may be more to follow but until they do, life’s too short to get stressed by rumour and rubbish. We’ve an incredible squad at our disposal and every day that passes is one closer to the accursed transfer window ™ slamming shut. I’d also offer you these words of comfort / approach from Phil Giles , given at last year’s fan forum when the news of Dean’s departure for Aston Villa meant players would follow despite our strong start to that campaign. 

He was unequivocal about the situation in regards to a promotion push, saying that “If we are in the top six in January we won’t be selling players….If we’ve a high likelihood of getting promoted we’d be very reluctant to sell.”

That was then. This is now. Of course things change but given the gauntlet already being placed in front of our Championship rivals, do we honestly think the club will then look to cut off a metaphorical arm and haemorrhage the very life blood of a promotion push?

Ultimately, the answer to that depends on what plans are being forged behind the scenes. Obvious, I realise. Yet those words from Phil are quoted to illustrate that we’ve stayed strong and shown positivity before. Here’s hoping we can do it again.

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Nick Bruzon

Interceptor Jensen signs – with a proper pen. Tour diary continues to delight.

11 Jul

Raya – In. Nørgaard – In. Jansson – In. Pinnock – In. And yesterday Brentford continued with the summer shopping following the acquisition of midfielder Mathias Jensen from Celta Vigo . Hot on the heels of signing Pontus Jansson from Leeds United, Matthew Benham has flexed the Griffin Park chequebook once more with the addition of another player who very much fits our bill. With the likes of Josh McEachran and Lewis Macleod departing over the summer, the midfield has been more than boosted with the Danish contingent of Christian Nørgaard and now, of course, Mathias. It’s wonderful news and if for no other reason than unlike with the Pontus signing, we were even able to use a proper pen rather than a half-chewed biro found down the back of the sofa.

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Mathias brings quality, and a proper pen, to the squad

Crack open the big book of Brentford summer bingo:  Matthew Benham. Statement of Intent. Going for it. New signing. Incoming. Welcome. Exciting times. Final season at Griffin Park.

These are all words we’ve become very familiar with over the last few weeks and they were trotted out once more by the bucketload as yesterday’s news was formally confirmed. The story had been doing the rounds a few days prior and had been hinted at with Matthews ‘duel’ (dual) cryptic video clue. At least, I’m assuming that’s what he meant. Even when you know the answer these things are harder to unravel than a pair of i-Pod headphones that have been left unattended in a draw for 24 hours. Oh, Apple. If only they played music as well as they knot themselves. Projecting the sound inwards, into the ears of the person intending to listen to Drake’s Greatest hit, rather than outwards – in the direction of fellow commuters.

Thomas Frank and Rasmus were, understandably, enthusing about our latest bit of business the newest signing. In the story which you can read in full on ‘official’, Thomas noted how “With Mathias’ arrival, we have a group of top-quality central midfielders with different skill sets which we can use in various combinations” whilst Rasmus went even stronger. “He is technically gifted and has a great football brain. In many ways we believe he is the perfect fit to Brentford, and we are really pleased that it was possible to sign him this window.

Wow. No pressure! But high praise indeed.  The obvious question off the back of all this is whether the door might swing the other way? There’s not been a day go by over the summer without one of Ezri Konsa, Romaine Sawyers, Neal Maupay, Ollie Watkins or Said Benrahama being linked with a move somewhere. Usually Aston Villa, Wolves or Sheffield United.

We all know the club modus operandi when it comes to business but having already trimmed the wage bill when contracts expired (farewell, Yoann Barbet) and sold Daniel Bentley, might this be it? Or could the signing of two central midfielders and two centre backs be an indication as to what may happen next?

It goes without saying that I hope nobody leaves. It also goes without saying that if somebody does, then more than a huge dollop of faith in the squad needs to be put in place. The club have consistently shown how well we recruit, sell and replace. How players continue to be better than those who had come before. How we balance the books whilst building the team.  Something I learned the hard way after the Birmingham City business a few years back. How much egg on face?

Yet in this final season at Griffin Park, might Matthew Benham really be going for it? Has he laid down an early statement of intent with his latest new signings and now be in the process of applying a heavy-duty padlock to the out-door? Who knows? These are exciting times and I can’t wait for the season proper to start in less than a month. If only for the prospect of seeing Pontus and Neal on the same team – the photo published on ‘official’  Twitter this week was just magnificent.

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I can’t wait for that first goal celebration….

Actually, that should read photos.

The one of Peter Gilham and Thomas Frank meeting Pontus just smacked of a burgeoning bromance. As did Peter’s tour diary, where the oblique reference to Drake (Charlie) had me chuckling more than it should have. Then again, so did his reference to The Pointer sisters. You can read that one, here. Keep up the great work, Peter.

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Ahhhh..

I’m so excited, indeed. Birmingham City and August 3rd can’t come soon enough.This really has the potential to be the big one….

511568510Until then, perhaps you may want to kindly please download the annual Last Word season review for e-book for your kindle, iPod telephone or other electronic reading device. You you can do so, here, with the important bit being that all proceeds received from the £1.99 sale price go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

It’s shonky, there are typos in it (still) but what better way to while away your time on the commute to work, the toilet, holiday or just simply relive some of the exciting moments from last campaign. And then prepare to see them blown out of the water in 2019/20

Nick Bruzon

Bees in ecstasy. Leeds in meltdown. Matthew Benham amazes Brentford, again.

9 Jul

I’m lost for words. Last night really did happen. Social media has been in meltdown after THE news was confirmed. Of course it had been rumoured but deep down, did we honestly expect it to happen? Well, it has. It wasn’t a dream. Brentford have seen September’s game at Barnsley moved back a day after it was picked by satellite channel Sky Sports Leeds United  for live TV coverage. And in other Elland Road related news, we’ve only gone and signed Pontus Jansson. This is not a typo. This is not a drill. Repeat – we’ve only gone and signed Pontus Jansson.

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Seriously, I’m in shock. We’d talked about the possibility of this rumour being confirmed earlier in the week but to see it come to fruition is about as huge statement of intent and future direction as they come from Matthew Benham. This has so bucked the trend of our usual transfer strategy that I’m struggling to get my head around the news. Yet at the same time, can’t pretend to be anything short of ecstatic about  the Swedish defender joining the fun at Griffin Park.

This is a HUGE signing. A proven player and another player who, like Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford (remember that from 2018) reached the knockout stages of the World Cup. Indeed, he has  captained the national side on more than one occasion en-route to winning this current total of 20 caps.

Leeds United fans are in meltdown. Brentford fans living the dream. The news was the only thing stopping TV’s Love Island completing a whitewash of trending topics on Twitter last night as the news broke. We’d suspected something was about to happen when Matthew Benham posted a cryptic video clue  – the duel scene from the brilliant Curb Your Enthusiasm. As ever, no idea, beyond a rumoured second (err dual) signing due soon. Then official shared what seemed to be either confirmation that incoming was imminent or Peter Gilham had gone old school on his Tyrolean blog and was reverting to pen & paper. 

That was it. Surely this was all but confirmed. Short of Pontus being revealed whilst wearing the new away kit, this couldn’t have been any more exciting. And then it happened. Twitter exploded. That was just in Leeds where Brentford is still trending this morning.

The words ‘f**king brentford’ were used almost as much as the three letters, FFS. It was just ‘tinpot’ and ‘pub side’ short of a full house in ‘clubs like Brentford’ bingo. Bees fans in raptures. Leeds supporters devastated. The final aftershock of the Aston Villa equaliser being felt, even now.

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Hey, who cares? This is our gain and very much so. Thomas Frank summarised things beautifully when talking to official, as he noted “Everyone knows about the Brentford model but to develop the young players we have here, we also need experience and quality in the squad to get the perfect balance. To have someone with his CV turn down other offers to join us shows where we stand as a club now.

As for director of football Phil Giles, he was also on point to confirm what we’d all talked about – this being contrary to our usual methodology. His own update included the confirmation that “Pontus is not a player we have been tracking for some time. In fact, it was only very recently that we were alerted to his availability and reacted quickly to the opportunity.

But sometimes, when opportunity knocks, you need to go for it. What a way for Matthew Benham and his team to do that. What a marker to lay down to the rest of the division. What a prospect awaits – especially if we can hang on to the likes of Neal Maupay. Imagine the pair of them in the same team. Talk about bite!!  Talk about passion!! Talk about the celebration should we continue that unbeaten / winging run against Leeds United. That ‘away’ trip, five games in on August 21st, has just cranked up another few notches and then some. It was already ripe for being a fine encounter following October’s 1-1 draw – the one where Neal scored that goal, did that celebration and Pontus, of course, broke our hearts late on.

At the end of the day (Clive) Brentford have just stepped up a level. On the day that Aston Villa paid £25million for Tyrone Mings from Bournemouth, we’ve proven once more that we are kings of the cut price transfer. Relatively speaking – a rumoured £5m no small change and easily a club record. Yet to acquire a player of this quality really says where we are now at. No longer below the radar but very much sticking our heads above the parapet. And I can’t wait to see who takes a shot at us first. 

As the fallout continues, there’ll no doubt be enough material for the GPG to write a sequel to what was the best video in sometime – F**king Brentford. This one did the rounds in a precursor to the transfer news being confirmed. And now it has happened, expect more to follow.

I have to be honest, this is still somewhat bizarre news for so many reasons. But it is also brilliant news. For so many reasons. What a way to strengthen our squad. To tell our rivals that we aren’t here for the ride – not that this has ver been the case. To really inspire the fans ahead of our final season at Griffin Park. Is this the season that we really go for it? The next few weeks, and any outbound activity, will be very telling. At the same time, our transfer strategy has more than proven its worth over the years. Could this be the one that takes us to the next level? I can’t wait to find out. 2019/20 was always going to be exciting – now it’s gone nuclear. And not just on the Leeds twitter feed. Fair to say that Peter Gilham’s tour diary might be quite an interesting one today.

As for the other news of the day, we have our first TV game of the season. The trip to Oakwell will now take place on Sunday 29th September at 1.30pm Barnsley v Brentford isn’t one that seems an obvious draw but Sky have picked us. Perhaps, as with the Jansson signing, the Bees are finally being seen to have come of age as a Championship club.

So that’s the state of the TW8 nation this morning. Whilst I’ve no doubt this one will rumble on, there’s not much else to say beyond kindly asking you once more to please download the e-book for your kindle, iPod telephone or other electronic reading device (which you can do, here, with all proceeds go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Now we really can all leave each other to enjoy the next few days*. Regardless of what happens off pitch.

*Please note. I reserve the right to bother you all once more should anything further happen.

Nick Bruzon

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Free agent joins new team. Club sack manager (again).

19 Jun

What’s there to say after Tuesday’s double whammy of Championship news? Yoann Barbet was the name in the frame for Brentford fans once it was announced that he had signed for QPR. There was always a fair chance our paths were going to cross again but Loftus Road was the last place anybody expected him to pop up, with Leeds United being the name that has appeared on more than a few occasions. I guess it just goes to show, once more, that the clickbait is nothing more than that. Elsewhere, Birmingham City will no doubt have somebody ten times better lined up for their own hot seat after sacking Garry Monk. I hear Gary Rowett is available.

So, Yoann Barbet. Emotions were mixed on social media after the news was revealed via the medium of cringey hashtag. #BonjourBarbet being the offending article this time around. You have to feel for Yoann. Whatever snake emojis were offered in his general direction (and there were a few) nobody deserves that. It put one in mind of the #JakeJoins they used when Jake Bidwell moved to Loftus Road.

bonjour Barbet

Urghh – hashtags

Personally, I’m not in the snake camp. If anything it’s an attitude of general ambivalence. He was a hero to us at Brentford and provided plenty of good times. Enthused team spirit. Was nothing but welcoming and friendly when approached by supporters – young and old. He could even smile at himself (if you recall the reaction to his goal at Bolton following ‘that’ league cup penalty v Norwich City’) . We had the chance to retain him if it was one we had both wanted to take but, for whatever reason, Yoann’s contract was allowed to run out and he became a free agent.

From there, he has taken the decision to join Mark Warburton at Loftus Road. A place where he will no doubt find himself having to do Plan A better. A lot. There’s no ill will pointed towards him – just surprise at the destination and a lot of good luck offered. He’ll need it. If nothing else, it’ll make the 237 derbies even more interesting than they had already become following the news about their new manager.

That’s the thing. Of all the clubs there had to be a better option. Surely? Leeds were rumoured. There was talk of Aston Villa looking to take him up a level. Then again, who hasn’t Dean Smith been linked with? Or Mark Warburton, for that matter. I’ve also heard Alan Judge’s name in the frame to reunite with his former manager. It’s an inevitable part of the transfer window as lazy journalists look for stories where none are even close to existing. Perhaps Yoann’s link to those clubs was nothing more than ‘fake news’. Urghhh.

At the end of the day (Clive), the player has made his choice. Whatever the motivation – be it money, staying local or maybe there were just no other offers. Who knows? Yoann will be well aware of the history between our clubs but as long as he doesn’t do anything along the lines of Martin Rowlands or Harlee Dean (surely nobody could be that stupid) then presumably we’ll all move on. Albeit, If Said wants to recreate Jota v Jake Bidwell then that would be nice.

 

Instead, it is left to Bernard Quackenbush on Twitter to sum up what many of us are thinking: Feel somewhat deflated by this. I wanted to give the guy a warm welcome if he ever returned with an opposing team. But just cannot applaud anyone wearing those hoops.

No meltdown – more an opportunity lost.

Yoann barbet post Forest

Better times

As for Birmingham City…wow!!  The tailspin they’ve been in since relieving Gary Rowett of his duties in December 2016 has been well documented. From a Premier league chasing position, they’ve gone on to flirt with relegation a couple of times, over spent, seen points deducted and consistently finished below Brentford (that’s five seasons in a row, now).

With Garry Monk, it looked as though he might arrest that decline. Instead, the sale of Jota to Aston Villa has been seen as the catalyst for a bizarre parting of the ways with the club formally announcing that: “The board of directors are hopeful that over time the team can adopt a fresh and modern footballing philosophy,“. Hmmmm – read as much between the lines on that as you can.

You couldn’t make it up after the Rowett affair but instead, another promising manger has gone.  No tears here – any rival choosing to weaken themselves through sackings and sales is only a good thing for us. The BBC report tells us how owners Trillion Trophy Asia are calling for a change in “footballing philosophy”. Good luck with that. It could be a long and painful season ahead at St. Andrews.

And finally, with a sledgehammer like unsubtle change of direction, huge thanks to all those who have downloaded a copy of the Last Word season season review – containing the least bad of these columns from the World Cup to Aston Villa deserving to win the play offs. It also includes the World Cup aswell as all the ‘Park Life’ articles submitted for the matchday programme and so not previously available on these pages.  

ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so what better way to remind yourself how brilliant 2018/19 was? To kill a bit of time on the commute to work / on your summer holidays / on the toilet etc You can download it , now, for your kindle , iPod telephone or other electronic reading device here.

At £1.99 it’s cheaper than half a pint so what’s to lose? Apart from £1.99 – which then goes to a great cause anyway. Many thanks again. And enjoy.

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Nick Bruzon

QPR visit is time to get the arousal level up (although hopefully not the ref).

2 Mar

Let’s draw a discreet veil about what happened midweek. Brentford went down 2-0 at Sheffield Wednesday after what has been reported all round as somewhat of a horror show of a performance. Our neighbours, on the other hand, arrested a run of form that had seen them lose 7(seven) league games on the bounce after getting one over Leeds United at Loftus Road. Well done there. That recent set of results has now been tweaked to read: LLLLLLLW . 

And we can now chuck all of that out of the window. It’s derby day. West London, as opposed to Frank Lampard’s County (TM) . Queens Park Rangers visit Griffin Park in a game that is a must win. Not so much for the chance to put further clean air between us and the not so super hoops as the opportunity to continue a fine home record against our neighbours from the other end of the the 237 bus route.

Last season saw us triumph 2-1 thanks to Sergi and Flo Jo. The year before it was 3-1 as Jota ran riot. 2015/16 saw us take the honours 1-0 in front of the Sky cameras courtesy of Marco Djuricin. The big question now being if Brentford can make to four on the bounce whilst, at the same time, wiping the memory of the return encounter earlier in the season where that ten minute blip just after half-time meant a less than happy afternoon spent in the environs of White City.

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Results at home to QPR have been stunning in recent seasons

The short answer to that one is ‘Yes.’ Being blunt. Even allowing for the reversal of league fortune suffered by both teams during the week, I’m still going into this one buoyant. Leeds United were clearly suffering from an ‘off day’, as was evidenced last night when West Brom took an absolute hammering. 4-0 that one finished and I’ve no doubt Thomas Frank will have Brentford producing a similar reaction.

Our home form has been blistering in recent weeks. The performance against Aston Villa was magnificent whilst to put five goals past both Hull City and blackburn Rovers has made it a quite incredible February.  The form of Saïd Benrahma has been electrifying whilst Neal Maupay was named as EFL player of the year the other night at the London football awards.

Besides, if you can’t get yourself up for this match then what’s the point?  There’s a great quote from Thomas on the BBC website in their match preview, where he notes that: “We know it is a massive game for the fans and the club. Griffin Park will be bang on it…..it is one of these games where I feel the same tension as the Brondby-Copenhagen derbies in Denmark, where you don’t have to say much to the players as the arousal level is up there.”

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Wonderful news for Neal, midweek

The arousal level is certainly up there at home. I love this game. I sit next to a Rangers’ fan at work whilst HB has been telling everyone from his school friends to Chairman Cliff Crown (after a chance encounter yesterday)  about the forthcoming visit from Quarter Pound of Rubbish. No idea where he picked up that from – the things they must say at football club or in the schoolyard. 

It promises to be a fierce encounter. One to set the pulse racing and the blood pumping. One where fans from both sides will be doing all they can to push their team on and remind the officials about the rules of the game (I’m looking at you, Braemar Road linesman). One where tempers could threaten to boil over in the heat of the moment and the passion of the occasion . So the great news is that the EFL have named Keith Stroud as our man in the middle….

We all know Keith of old. The battle of Bramall Lane can never be forgotten. The soul destroying flourish of a red card with all the authority of a picked upon school kid granted immunity from the bully by virtue of his prefect badge. The infamous penalty incident  at Newcastle United where he disallowed a goal for the Magpies and awarded an indirect free kick to Burton rather than allow it to be retaken after encroachment.

That one seemed to be the death knell of his career but he’s been back this season – officiating 20 games where, stat check, Keith has only shown two red cards and averaged 3.5 yellows. Somewhat restrained compared to his former reputation. Could we see a mellower version in action this afternoon? Or will he be performing his one man Clintons’ tribute show?

Roll on 3pm when we find out. See you there.

Keith Stroud montage

Which Keith will we get today?

Nick Bruzon

Tigers mauled by the Bees as Saïd inspires mayhem.

24 Feb

It really doesn’t get much more enjoyable than that. If Aston Villa had been fun, this was next level excitement. The memory of Swansea City in the FA Cup well and truly exorcised by a rampant Brentford side, inspired by Saïd Benrahma. Three wonder goals and one assist for the Algerian put a huge dent in the scoreline that saw Hull City heading towards brackets and lucky to leave with just a 5-1 reverse to their name. Brentford were scintillating. Magnificent. Insatiable. Choose any positive adjective and it applies to this.  A second five goal haul in less than a month at Griffin Park (and our third this season) were the very least Thomas Frank and his team deserved after a performance that was very much men against boys.

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Saïd definitely enjoyed this one

Where do you even start with this? Benrahma will understandably grab the headlines. His goals and approach play dictate that. Peter Gilham losing himself on the public address system, prefacing the announcement for our second goal and Saïd’s first with a shocked “Wow!!”.

But it was stunning. Waltzing through a crowded penalty box. Dancing around the Hull City defence until the smallest of gaps opened up, he pinged it into the top corner.

It took the breath away. The crowd erupted. The Bees turned the screw.

Saïd had already set up our equaliser, opening up the Hull defence to free the General. Kamo made no mistake as he virtually passed it in from distance. Parity restored after the visitors had, to be fair, controlled the lion’s share in the early stages. Their goal had threatened and eventually came via the head of Fraizer Campbell as a rare slip from Yoann Barbet gave the Hull man all the room he needed and left Daniel Bentley with no chance. Yet from that moment it was game over. Albeit the Tigers has no idea what was about to be unleashed.

The third came just before half time. That man Benrahma firing home as 0-1 down after 25 minutes became a 3-1 lead when the players headed in for their half time cuppa. There was a serious danger of the supporters running out of ‘goal sweets’ at this rate (one Haribo Supermix every time the net ripples, being the tradition in our block). There was a serious danger that the brackets would need to be defrosted.

Moreso when Maupay made if four just after the break, guiding home from close range after top work from Ollie Watkins. Watching the build up on the highlights (available now via Sky’s match report), the work Neal does to even get in position is great. He delivers the pass that sets the move in motion before breaking up field through the middle to get on the end of the eventual finish. The finish may have been (relatively) simple but it was all about the approach play

Peter Gilham was practically self-combusting at this rate. Freestyling on the mic with all the panache of a man who knew how exquisite this performance was turning out to be. How wonderful the interplay across the team was. Sergi roasting his man time and again. Romaine having one of those beautiful games where the passes flowed as sweetly as honey off the back of a spoon. Liquid football. Ollie and Neal linking up the play as Moses continued to push up on the other side. 

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The high-flying Bees were rampant

We said after the Aston Villa game how good this team can be when they get going. That time, they were only rewarded with one goal. This time out, it was carnage. The fifth and, ultimately, final strike being on a par with everything that had come before. Whilst the second took the breath away at the time, the hat-trick strike was just beautiful.

Romaine’s pass through was stopped dead, Saïd spun and curled it from the edge of the box into the top corner. One touch. Barely looking up as he hit it. Pure instinct and what a finish. What a celebration as he ran full tilt towards the dugouts to celebrate with Thomas.

You could see what this one meant to them both. Likewise at full time where the players did the lap of Griffin Park to rapturous applause. Every one of them enjoying the moment, talking to the fans and enjoying very well deserved acclaim. It really was a devastating afternoon and one had to feel for the visitors, now facing a long shlepp home.

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Thomas celebrates with the fans at full time

Brentford remain 16th, with the prospect of a trip to Sheffield, Tuesday, and then the visit of “The team from West London” (as PG called them) next weekend. The table above us is really getting congested now with the gap to the top ten now just four points away and, for the dreamers amongst us, 10 points to Bristol City in sixth.

Whatever happens, if the Bees carry on playing like this there’s going to be a lot of fun between now and May. For all that the Hull fans like to sing about “Getting mauled by the Tigers“, this time around they were made to look as dangerous as a restaurant cat. Claws very much clipped as Brentford ran riot.

Tuesday is about as a huge an ask as they come but what momentum to go into the game with. And then there’s the small matter of Saturday. See you there. 

Now, let’s go and watch those highlights once more…

 

Bees cat mauled tiger

The only mauling on Saturday came from the Bees

Nick Bruzon 

Are we all set for a jolly boys (and girls) outing? The quarters are beckoning….

16 Feb

Oh my. The FA Cup fifth round is here. Opportunity is very much knocking. Watford are already through to the quarters after winning 1-0 at Loftus Road last night. Now we’re getting ready for our shot as Brentford fans begin to countdown for Sunday’s trip to Swansea City. There’s plenty to whet the appetite for that one today with Newport County hosting Manchester City and the visit of Millwall to AFC Wimbledon. That’s before you even get to the likes of Doncaster v Crystal Palace or Monday’s final game denouement that had TV producers reaching for the ‘coverage selection’ button the second Chelsea v Manchester United came out of the hat.

We can only start at the Liberty Stadium. On paper, there isn’t much to grab the neutral about the prospect of Swansea City v Brentford. Whilst both clubs and their fans will be viewing it as a wonderful chance to progress, it hardly has the upset potential of Manchester City at Newport County. The follow up story to Wimbledon’s wonderful humiliation of West Ham (winners of the trophy in 1980 and World Cup in 1966) from the previous round. Don’t let that fool you for a second. This one is huge and I can’t wait.

You could hear the collective groan echoing around TW8 and the GPG as the decision was made to move this to a Sunday afternoon, 4pm kick off for the benefit of BBC Wales. I’ve said my piece on that decision already and we just have to move on now.

With the prospect of a rail engineering works ruining it for everyone, the club sprang into action quicker than Neal Maupay running though on goal with the announcement of free coach travel to the game. Along with the reduced ticket prices , it was about as supporter-friendly a gesture as one could get. Consequently, myself and Harry are the ones now re-upholstering the tinfoil trophy that has seen us through the previous rounds. An £11 return trip for two of us, including entrance to the game, a bargain in anybody’s book and the reason The Bees will be there en-masse as the coaches filled up in nano-seconds.

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Who doesn’t love a coach trip ?

It’s not going be easy, that’s for sure. For either team. Only four points separate Brentford and Swansea City in the Championship table. Advantage traditionally favouring the home side as we’ll be running out in that glorious brown and orange. Here’s hoping for a repeat of the performance at Rotherham in that one, rather than a repeat of the performance just about anywhere else on the road whilst wearing this most stylish of shirts.

The good news for those deeming this to be some sort of jinx (honestly, I’ve never heard such nonsense, now where are my lucky pants?) being that we’ll have a new goalkeeper’s shirt making its debut. If what a source close to the club told us plays out, this one promises to have us kit nerds salivating.

The other factor to play more into the hands of Sunday’s eventual result is, of course, our recent form. We’ve only lost once in the last 12 whilst the midweek victory over Aston Villa was just about as comprehensive and stylish a performance as one could ever hope to see. Truly, Brentford were magnificent. Dean Smith left shell-shocked at full time and chuntering all sorts of nonsense about his team ‘deserving it’ (change the record) after Neal Maupay sent the hone fans wild in the 91st minute. Even now, Saturday morning as this is being written, I have a huge grin on my face thinking about that moment.

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This one from Brentford official said it all about Wednesday

Prior to that and, excusing the Forest game, it has been a case of scoring at least three goals a game in the previous five. A streak that coincided with Brentford playing stylish football with confidence and swagger. The ball being moved around the team for fun as we took the old mantra of “Push up, Brentford” to heart. It was a self-belief that was in evidence once more on Wednesday night. Here’s hoping Swansea City get to experience it themselves on Sunday afternoon. 

For sure they’ll be feeling as upbeat as we are. A home draw is the first thing any club hoping to progress would ask for in the later rounds of the FA Cup. Swansea have had that prayer answered  whilst on pitch have had a fairly strong start to 2019, winning five out of their nine games played so far in all competitions. They’ll no doubt fancy this in their own back yard whilst also have the benefit of ‘Mark’ Lawro Lawrenson using his BBC prediction column to back the Bees. Trevor Nelson and DJ Big Zuu (literally no idea – parents, ask a kid) going for the home side.

My main concern with this is Lawro’s assertion that, “I am backing Brentford to stay unbeaten, and get through on penalties.” We all know the nonsense he spouts these days and his presence as a pundit or co-commentator is generally greeted with the same fear felt by a pre-match press room buffet as Ian Moose approaches. But penalties? Seriously? You’ve got to think our name is on the cup if that’s going to happen. Here’s hoping he’s right. You can read that one in full, here.

Otherwise, its going to be a case of trying to make today feel as much like a normal Saturday as possible. I make no apologies for being excited or loving the FA Cup. Perhaps it’s an age thing but this tournament remains, for the supporters, about as exciting as it gets. The nostalgia, the romance, the potential, the shot at glory and even the cliches. 

I saw a quite wonderful tweet from @DeanCornish1966 yesterday about the Newport – Manchester City game, noting that:

ITV news preview on Newport v Man City just included:

2 x ‘The whole town is buzzing’

1 x ‘biggest match in history’

1 x ‘David v Goliath’

3 x ‘unbelievable’

1 x ‘dare to dream’

1 x ‘Gulf in class’

2 x ‘dreams are made of’

1 x ‘stacking shelves’

If ever there was close to a full house in cup upset bingo then here it was. But it’s what makes this trophy so special. Even now. It’s why I’m taking a five year old boy on a marathon coach trip to see if we can equal our furthest ever progression. Or perhaps even go beyond.

I’ve no doubt that when me and H are sitting down this evening to see if Newport can throw a potato skin under the feet of Manchester City (that’s one which ITV missed), the talk will be all about what awaits on Sunday afternoon. 

That, and maybe seeing if we need to add another layer of tinfoil to our replica trophy. 

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We’re all up for the cup

Nick Bruzon