Tag Archives: Brentford blog

Lucky pants? Tick. Magic hat? Tick. Clem? Tick. The omens are good.

20 Sep

Easy come. Easy go. Brentford saw that brief flirtation with the ‘automatic’ places in the fledgling Championship table come to a (presumably temporary) end as Middlesbrough beat Bolton 2-0 last night. It was an evening that saw Birmingham City became one of only two teams – see also Ipswich Town – who are yet to win a league game. Hey, I guess at least they’re ten times better at getting draws. Nobody in the division has more than their 6. And back at Griffin Park, today sees a potentially secret weapon heading our way. From, of all teams..…

Middlesbrough may have overtaken us in the table ‪on Wednesday evening‬ c/o George Saville and a late strike from Britt Assombalonga but they are, at least, sending us a gift this morning. A journalistic gift as, it seems, Neal Maupay is to be the subject of an interview from one of our favourite reporters. So not Ian Moose.

Per his Twitter feed during the week, it seems that none other than ever popular Boro’ fan and BBC man Mark Clemmit (Clem, to us) will be at the training ground today. Primarily to catch up with the Championship’s leading scorer ahead of Football Focus but who knows where this one may go?

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Clem lines up a visit to Neal (or Ian Moose)

Long suffering readers may well recall our season long analysis of Clem during his time on the much missed Football League Show back in 2014/15. Specifically the anti-form that seemed to follow him around as part of his roving reporter duties for Manish and team.

Quite simply, there was a theory that whichever club he featured for that weekend’s show would subsequently fail to win. A visit from the popular reporter being the death knell for their team that many supporters believed it to be.

Nobody does superstition like football fans and there was no bigger jinx at the time than Clem. If you could distill the essence of lucky pants, magic hat, prolonged bouts of not shaving and favourite shirt (all much more efficient barometers of potential success than coaching, opposition or fitness) into one potent brew then promptly throw them down the sink, that was Clem. Seemingly.

But was it? Well, we undertook a Clemwatch survey on these pages to see if the ever popular man-with-the-mic was being unfairly maligned or, infact, was a footballing albatross best avoided. A season long analysis followed which saw only 7(seven) victories for teams he featured on that evening’s show. Out of 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford. The Hornets lead with all other results going their way, the title was in their grasp. With the BBC showing 90 minutes, Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished ‪at 1-1‬. The title lost, with the final goal. All under Clem’s watchful eye.

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Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

Then, suddenly, things changed. The Football League show was sadly lost to us and Clem took a back seat. Those quite wonderful reports, finished. Until Football Focus duties reared their head and he picked up the roving reporter’s baton once more. With a difference. This time, his teams started winning. It’s true.

It began the day Brentford won 5-3 at Burton when perhaps something special was in the air. Some sort of football magic that saw The Bees come back from 3-1 down whist elsewhere Clem broke his bad ‘form’. From being the man avoided like the plague (think: trapped in a lift with Ian Moose and only one pie available) his team that day – Bournemouth – won. Now he is being welcomed with open arms. A visit from Clem coincides with a win for your team.

With his presence at Brentford today, I’m betting the mortgage (metaphorically speaking) on The Bees to beat Derby County on Saturday. Moreso, given we’re sure to be in that quite wonderful brown/orange away kit.

Here’s to 3pm when we find out. And perhaps Football Focus at lunchtime….

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Neal is doing it game after game.

Nick Bruzon

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Prophetic Peter calls it and Matthew goes full Partridge as Neal and Josh do the business. Again.

16 Sep

7(seven) games down and Brentford are up to second in the embryonic Championship table after a fifth, successive, home win. This time, over Wigan Athletic. In a display of quite delicious passing football, Neal Maupay grabbed both goals to take his individual total to 7(seven) for the season and move clear in the Championship goalscoring charts. This, despite his missing two league games following the Villa Park affair. Just to put that into context, Neal already has two more than the entire Birmingham City and Ipswich Town teams have scored all season. Then again, with four league wins under the belt that’s already four more than both the entire Birmingham City and Ipswich Town teams have earned all season.

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View from the Braemer – Brentford strolled past Wigan on Saturday

The visit of Wigan was never going to be easy. On paper. Paul Cook’s team were only a point behind the Bees before kick-off whilst the visitors had ex-Bee Will Grigg in their squad. The inevitability of a former player doing the business is never a particularly enjoyable moment for home fans of any club. Even moreso in the case of Will when no doubt ‘that song’ would have been given a rendition.

Yet there was a comfort about this one, especially once the second goal had gone in, that is true testament to the confidence flowing through both Dean Smith’s squad and the home support. Maupay scooped man of the match honours but I thought Lewis Macleod and, in particular, Josh McEachran were quite wonderful. The latter starting the move for the opening goal with a cheeky nutmeg followed by a delightful crossfield ball forward to Said Benrahma. If only the sky cameras had captured the moment for their post-match highlights. Here’s hoping those on ‘official’ catch the full move when they appear at lunchtime. (12pm update: Yes! They did. Enjoy…..

 

Credit to Josh. If any player has taken his time to start winning over the critics it is him. Yet he has plugged away and the management have shown faith. With Ryan Woods having moved on the chance has been seized after what were, if we are being honest, a patchy couple of seasons. And how. We’ve already noted his increased presence this season on these pages a few times. The killer pass and/or move forward being a key change in his dynamic.

Indeed whilst being gently probed by Natalie Sawyer during this week’s TalkSport interview, Dean Smith was full of praise for a player who has admitted to still having England aspirations. Consistency will be key, of course, but for now one can only applaud a quite wonderful start to the campaign.

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Neal was MOTM but Josh played blinder, too

That Maupay goal came half-way through an opening period that Brentford dominated. Whilst it had felt as though the flood gates would open within seconds when the Bees swarmed forward from the kick-off, Christian Walton in the Wigan goal held back the tide. Something which proved to be the theme of a game in which, a brief first-half flurry aside, was about as one way as they come.

The threat of Grigg never materialised. He wasn’t so much on fire as on the bench. A place he never left, save for the warm ups. But then as Our Graham (a Huddersfield fan making one of his semi-regular but always welcome visits to Griffin Park) noted, perhaps the judgement here being that the ball needed to be near the Brentford goal in order for him to put it in it, and it was seldom in that vicinity.

One up at half-time became two just after the hour. That man Maupay with his second, this time against ten men rather than eleven. Sam Morsy having been sent off five minutes earlier for poleaxing Yoann Barbet with a head butt that had referee Darren England instantaneously calling for the medics before subsequently brandishing the red card. And from that point on it really was game over. Two clear and coasting. Despite Walton mountin’ a one-man resistance, in the end it was a case of goodnight Wigan Athletic. With other results falling kindly the Bees move up to second, just a point behind Leeds United.

What a time to be alive. What a time to be a Brentford fan. What a reward for all those who’ve been with us through thick and thin. Now able to enjoy what Matthew Benham would later describe on Twitter as “Liquid football” .

Back of the net, indeed ! There is no finer moment in life than anybody embracing their inner Alan Partridge. Accidentally or otherwise. All the while of course, just up the road our new home continues to grow. On current form I can only imagine Mr. Benham naming that one ‘Jurassic Park’.

Credit to Matthew and the current regime for allowing this to happen. There can’t be a fan amongst us who isn’t appreciative of what is being built here and how it has happened. Yes, there have been some tears and frustration along the way – this is football, we are passionate supporters who often think with our hearts in the heat of the moment rather than our heads  – yet only a fool would jump off this train now.

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The site at Lionel Road, (very) early on Saturday morning

Next up, Ipswich Town on Tuesday night. Whilst their record was mentioned in the introduction by way of comparison to Neal’s form, they also need to be recognised for the genuine threat they present to Brentford’s own aspirations. And as much, a mark of our own progress. True, they are bottom of the table but they are only two wins away from the top half. They may have lost to Hull City yesterday but the season is still young. They aren’t, surely, a bottom three side? If nothing else, we’ve the likes of Preston, QPR, Reading and Birmingham City for that particular task.

Last season saw Brentford take nine games before we got our first three pointer. It was a run which was typified by performances that Dean Smith swore by, maintaining we were deserving of victories. Eventually they came.

Yet the game at Portman Road was one of those from that early, ill-fated patch. It was a perfromance noted at the time on these pages as, “Wonderful attacking play (the first half especially). One-way traffic. The proverbial kitchen sink chucked at the opposition. 65% possession and twenty-one attempts at goal compared to Ipswich Town’s four. Yet it was the Tractor Boys who took the points and kept a clean sheet with a 2-0 win that left the Bees bottom of the pile in the Championship after four games

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Portman Road (and what Billy Reeves calls the best font in football) is next.

That was then. This is now. Nottingham Forest two weeks ago saw us win the sort of game that, last season, we’d have lost. Refusing to be outmuscled as the team converted chances into goals and, eventually, all three points. Could Tuesday night promise more of the same? It won’t be easy, that’s for sure. Yet on this sort of form I wouldn’t bet against Dean’s team.

As a final note of the day, could we see a new partnership forming at Griffin Park? Not so much the Ollie Watkins / Neal Maupay combo but that of Peter Gilham and Stuart Wakeford? Our own ‘man with the mic’ joining in during the #BeesLive segment prior to kick off where I walked in on his line: “I don’t know what the question was but the answer was Josh McEachran”.

How prophetic. On yesterday’s performance at Griffin Park the answer was very much Josh McEachran. With perhaps, a soupçon of Neal Maupay.

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Stu does his thing on #BEESLIVE – but what WAS the question?

Nick Bruzon

Who’s on fire when league action returns this weekend?

14 Sep

Finally. Championship action returns this weekend with Brentford hosting Wigan Athletic, straight off the back of the news that out allocation of 7,700 tickets for the league cup game at Arsenal has already set out. For the masochistic amongst us, winless Birmingham City tonight entertain (if that is possible) a West Bromwich Albion side who know that victory will take them up to third place in a still coagulating table. Yet one which is almost at that magical ‘ten game mark’.

First up, Brentford. Obviously. Two weeks of inaction with nothing but the evolving site at Lionel Road have been a tough void to fill. Moreso given how frustrating it has been having to slam the brakes on what has been a quite wonderful start to the campaign for the Bees.

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Lionel Road ; Thursday morning

Our current fifth place has been achieved through three wins out of three at home and only one defeat on the road. That at Blackburn where we were missing Neal Maupay following that thing at Villa Park. Yet the team have been scoring goals for fun, with the aforementioned Frenchman the division’s top marksman on 5 and Ollie Watkins right behind him on 4. Chuck in a further four assists between them aswell as no other Championship player having more touches in the box than Ollie’s 44 (although I’m sure Ian Moose would probably just call that dilly-dallying) and you can see how well they are going together.

Indeed, only West Bromwich Albion (15) and Leeds United (14) have managed more than the Bees 12 goals to date. Even then, the West Brom total includes the, albeit magnificent, bracketing of hapless QPR when the not so super hoops conceded 7(seven) in a single game.

Brentford’s football has been a joy to watch. Positivity that was shared by our own Dean Smith, talking to Natalie Sawyer on Talksport Radio last night. Some things are worth breaking my own, self-enforced, ban on all things Ian Moose for and with the catering obsessed narcissus nowhere near the studio I tuned in.

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Thankfully, there was no Ian Moose last night

There were big ups for Josh McEachran. Talk of expansive football. Discussion about the Arsenal game, where with the squad having been thinned out by the loans of Chiedozie Ogbene to Exter City, Tom Field to Cheltenham Town and Ryan Woods (albeit the cat was initially let out of the bag before Dean corrected his own use of the word ‘sold’) to Stoke the implication was that we would go with a strong team. And rightly so. Who would want to miss out on that one?

Yet what was clear through all the twenty minute probing Natalie administered to Dean was his ongoing self-belief and enthusiasm. For the squad, the style of football which the benevolence of our current regime has enabled him to play and his immediate focus being on Wigan Athletic rather than anybody beyond. In his eyes its all about Saturday. Talk of Arsenal was tempered with the fact that there are another two games after Wigan (as part of another intense 22 day run) before we get to the League Cup.

If you missed this one you definitely missed out. Anyone who has had the pleasure of listening to Natalie’s podcasts for The Times know she is a most engaging presenter. Frankly, she could make any subject from Tom Moore’s socks to Josh McEachran’s phone case collection (both hypothetically) sound interesting. So when you have a guest who was as on fire as Dean, then it was radio gold.

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Captain Barbet sums up the spirit in the Bees camp , last time out

Certainly, if I was up for the weekend fixture beforehand then it’s even more so the case now. With our 7,700 tickets sold out for Arsenal (and a further 700 being made available) presumably we can only expect a close to sell-out crowd for this one? No doubt all those heading to the Emirates will be at Griffin Park (and beyond) in the build-up to that one? If nothing else, seeing the alleged conflagration that is Will Grigg being extinguished will put a lot of smiles on faces. For no more reason than silencing ‘that song’ – something akin to the England Supporters ‘band’, the Portsmouth bell, vuvuzelas and goal songs as musical interruptions that should be consigned to video games rather than football stadia.

Still, we’ve been there and done this before. Let’s not get distracted by the England band. There’ll be enough to keep us busy this weekend. Moreso, given we have the TV treat (errr) of Birmingham v West Brom tonight. Can the Blues get their first win of the campaign at the 7th(seventh) time of asking? Will the visitors keep on banging in the goals that have propelled them towards touching distance of the play-off zone already? Will ‘you know who’ need to trot out his usual combination of post-match tweets – we go again / fans deserved more / apologies / KRO (whatever that means)? Or could the St. Andrews team finally start to fulfil the promise that a club of their former glory and current size would no doubt expect?

Besides. It’s that or Coronation Street so I’ll certainly be watching the game. Whilst Mrs. Bruzon may prefer the cobbles of Weatherfield, there’s not quite a KRO-bar in our house. Yet.   

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Taxi for Grigg? Here’s hoping on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

Bring on the big guns. And also Arsenal.

31 Aug

Finally. It actually happened. The game that so many of us have been waiting for will finally take place. Brentford entertain Nottingham Forest on Saturday in a chance to head back to the very upper reaches of the Championship table. Elsewhere, and you may have missed this on social media last night, we’ve been drawn away at Arsenal in the third round of the league cup. It it is a tie that seems to be exciting just about everyone, no more so than our own chairman Cliff Crown.

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A fairly safe bet we’ll need to go brown for this one

You can understand the buzz around this game. We all know the history at Arsenal and of the many, many trophies they have won. Even if things have got (relatively) barren in recent years and Europa League qualification is the best they have to be content with. As the later end of The Wenger era saw them very much standing still, the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Spurs have all overtaken Arsenal at football’s top table. With Tottenham currently sitting pretty as kings of North London football, I have no doubt current boss Unai Emery will view the Carabao Cup as a huge opportunity to try and start redressing that balance.

C137D36D-7E04-4531-81DE-C0D1C441FEA8For Brentford fans, this presents the rarest of opportunities. Our paths haven’t crossed in over 70 years and for many it is a chance to visit a new stadium. Whilst the records are under debate (certainly in regards to our own number of defeats) the one thing everyone agrees on is that Brentford have the lion’s share of victories. As much as five can be deemed any sort of lion’s share. Personally, I’m just grateful for a kind draw (the prospect of Boro’ away, urghh) , an eminently winnable game and the chance to return my books before they become overdue.

The other thing to catch my eye on Twitter was the number of people who already seem set to miss this one : New York, Vegas, Franz Ferdinand (the band rather than the deceased Archduke), recovering from a car crash……

These just some of the many, albeit wonderful reasons (perhaps not so much that last one), as to why people are now checking their diaries to see if there is any chance of avoiding a pre-booked clash. Yet with Arsenal playing on the Sunday, the game seems likely to be played on the evening of 26th September. A cup tie on a Wednesday evening is something that The Emirates won’t have seen for a few years, even if it does push yours truly dangerously close to the list of absentees.

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That’s the night of my own work Christmas party (being the last time all 11 of the team are in together prior to late December). And now I’ll have to let the team down. Them, not Brentford. Unless of course they fancy some celebratory cup football. Yes, do spare a thought for Mads and her team in the ticket office as all manner of strange(r) requests are likely to come out of the woodwork. I can only imagine the queue for this one being akin to the launch of our own brown and orange away shirt.

All of which is wonderful, but there is also the small matter of Nottingham Forest tomorrow. Of course I’m excited about the prospect of reaching the Carabao cup fourth round but the league campaign is where it’s all at. Can Brentford get back to winning ways after the slip up at Blackburn? Will we be able to inflict a first defeat of the season on a Forest team who themselves beat Premier League opposition in the cup this week. A very late brace from the wonderfully named Matty Cash seeing Newcastle United’s celebrations at a 90th minute equaliser being somewhat short lived. An eventual 3-1 win sees the Tricky Trees presented their own chance of further profession, with a home tie against Stoke City the reward.

I thought the Bees looked wonderful with the build up play on Tuesday night against Cheltenham. It’s great to see the players coming in adapting to the system used by the first team. I also think we were over elaborate, profligate and almost got caught out. Dean Smith will no doubt be making changes with Romaine Sawyers and Ollie Watkins amongst those sure to return.

There’s no Ryan Woods, of course. His own ‘loan to sale’ was confirmed last week Saturday and he is now a Stoke player. Let’s hope they don’t injure him. Although I’d imagine neck ache from looking up at the sky will be his main health concern.

There’s no doubt we’re all well up for that Arsenal game. Chairman Crown and his family may even don a half/half scarf (although hopefully not) whilst Nico Yennaris and Josh Dasilva have their own points to prove. Yet all that is to come. If nothing else, we’ve a score to settle after last season’s capitulation at home to Forest. 1-0 up after 40 minutes turned into 3-1 down after 47 and an eventual 4-3 defeat that was nowhere near as close as the score line suggests. Then (away) manager Mark Warburton doing his ‘Brittas Empire’ thing in a shirt / short combo that was tighter than the final score.

Still, that was then and this is now. Warbs has moved on from The City Ground. Brentford have moved up. Dean Smith and his team are playing some quite wonderful football. Here’s hoping we can find the back of the net and return to winning ways.

See you on Saturday.

Brittas Warbs

Mark Warburton – won at football but lost at fashion last time out.

Nick Bruzon

Bees march on after cracking game at Villa Park.

23 Aug

The morning after the night before. Brentford took a point from a 2-2 draw at Aston Villa that sees the Bees move up to fourth place in an evolving Championship table which is now almost half-way towards attaining ‘fully taken shape’ status. It was a point that we would all have taken before kick–off and yet, with Villa’s equaliser coming deep into the final minute of five added on by referee Jon Moss, still felt as though we’d had the win cruelly taken away from us. That the Bees had snatched a draw from the jaws of victory. A scenario, at least result wise, akin to QPR away last season.    

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The stats tell it all

Yet at the same time, the common consensus on social media was that it had been a quite wonderful advert for Championship football. That Brentford had put in their (relatively) weakest performance of the campaign to date and Aston Villa should perhaps be kicking themselves for not having wrapped it up early on themselves.

It was almost the opposite of the Stoke (away) game. Whereas as the Bees started that, like every other time the season, on the front foot, this time around the hosts didn’t allow us a chance to settle. Villa pressed and pressed whilst the Bees couldn’t get out of their own half. Chance followed chance and surely it as only a matter of time before the goal came. And on 23 minutes it did. But to Brentford. A quite delightful run and cross from Sergi was headed cleverly into space by Ollie Watkins to Neil Maupay. The Frenchman made no mistake as he buried it with a clean strike high into the back of the net.

Get in!! Our sofa erupted. Not literally. Although the pizza did fly and Mrs. Bruzon does now have a very awkward stain to get out of the upholstery. Glad that one wasn’t me. Yet the joy didn’t last long. With half time approaching Jonathan Kodjia levelled things up for Villa, evading Ezri to fire in hard past Daniel Bentley from close range. It was a goal that Villa’s pressure had suggested would come and so take nothing away from our hosts. It was pressure they continued into the second half as we struggled with our shape. The full backs both looked ragged whilst central midfield was given a much needed backbone with the additions of Kamo and Nico for Lewis and Captain for the night, Josh McEachran.

The two changes made all the difference and with the inevitable sub-by-numbers of Said Benrahma for Sergi Canos, the screw started to turn. Nico almost gave us the lead with one impressively hit shot from distance as the game turned into an end-to-end classic. Maupay then went one better with Ollie Watkins again turning provider. His shot was only parried down and Neal’s reactions were quick enough to again bury it first time. Whether he should have been on the pitch after a stamping incident in the first half was caught by the cameras, albeit missed by the ref, is another question. There will no doubt be a few squeaky bums at Griffin park today as we wait to see if that was deemed accidental or deliberate foul play.

It didn’t look pretty but I’m just the numpty on the terrace and that’s a question for Mr. Moss to consider. There’s nothing we can do and Dean Smith has already come out and said that should any charges be pressed, he’ll be doing similar. He used his post-match conference to tell the BBC that, “If you remember the incident, Mile Jedinak fell over, got up and then smashed Neal in the back of the head so, if they are looking at retrospective for Neal, then we’ll do so for Jedinak.

Let’s move on though. Back to the game. 2-1 up. Less than ten minutes to go yet still Brentford pressed. Said Benrahma had a glorious chance to extend the lead further. His close range head, flying like a tracer bullet to the goal was again only parried by Orjan Nyland in the Villa goal. It bounced on the line and seemed over, but television replays confirmed the ball hadn’t fully crossed.

I say ‘only’. Nyland had minimal time to react and credit to him for a cracking performance when it counted. Likewise Daniel Bentley who, one stutter aside early on, looked as commanding as ever. Sadly, he could do nothing about the late, late equaliser that had an almost inevitable feel to it the moment five additional minutes of time were indicated. It gave Villa the exact period for which they knew they could throw the kitchen sink at things and sure enough, with what must have been the final move of the game, that man Kodjia was on hand to break Brentford hearts.

I was gutted. I think we all were. But at the same time, some perspective. We are unbeaten. We are fourth. We haven’t lost to Aston Villa in five games at this level. That we are all disappointed about picking up an away point tells you all you know about how far this team have come. This isn’t fans being greedy. About having some sort of divine right to just turn up and win. This is about knowing how well we have played all campaign and so being genuinely hopeful of pushing on to take all three points once that second half fight-back had taken hold.

I’m also glad that with one, potentially two, new signings in the stands for the home team, we’ve got this one out of the way early. Like the Bees, Villa sit in the play-off zone on 8 points and I think they’ll only go on to get even stronger. The top two a genuine aspiration for the players. An expectation, perhaps, for the fans. Certainly on this showing.

It could have been more. Given the clock, it probably should have. But take nothing away from Villa in a game where I’d have taken a point up front. Having slept on it, the proverbial ‘fair result’.

With Dean Smith’s interview not appearing on Brentford ‘official’ as yet, I’ll be keen to hear his thoughts in full. Was it another game we ‘deserved’ to win or does he feel a draw was the just result? Funnily enough, we joked about his having a ‘deserved to win’ table on these pages after the Stoke game. Then sure enough, the Sky team would talk after the game about how the club “build an alternative table; the justice table”.

Hmm. I’m all for motivation and telling the players how good they are. Yet results don’t lie and the league table certainly doesn’t. If it works for the club whilst the Championship is still forming then fair enough.  Personally, I’m not a fan of the Justice league. If nothing else, Batman and Superman aren’t a patch on the Hulk and Thor….. 

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I’ll get my coat

Final observations about the game – the viewing experience via Sky Sports. I wasn’t fortunate enough to be able to travel for this one but there was a convenient alternative. TV.

Great coverage, in general, although even as the most ardent admirer of our quite stunning brown and orange kit, I don’t think I was alone in struggling to make out the respective teams. Perhaps it was easier at the ground, and certainly seeing it in the flesh at Stoke presented no issues.  Yet back home on TV, under floodlights, there did seem to be somewhat of a clash. Perhaps a case for orange shorts? Or a third shirt? There’d be no complaints from yours truly with either option.

As for Sky themselves, what is their obsession with our old badge? Still they get it wrong. Come on chaps, it’s not that hard. Surely? How can their graphics department be so out of touch? Let’s all move on from the clipart montage. If you have to get it wrong then at least give us a castle.

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Dear Sky. Please. Stop. Getting our badge. Wrong.

The only other point of note from the night was Reading who drew 2-2 with our next opponents, Blackburn Rovers. Whilst ordinarily as insignificant as result as they come, a point takes their total to 1. Meaning there is now only one team in the Championship who have P4 L4 Pts 0.  

And that, of course, is QPR. After suffering the indignity of a 7(seven) goal bracketing at the weekend, their own woeful form continued with a 3-0 home defeat to Bristol City on Tuesday. They’ve only scored twice all season and have GD of -11 already.

With Birmingham City also failing to win, again, anyone still feeling despondent about last night’s 95thminute (and surely there won’t be anyone now), just take a look at that table today. Top and bottom.

With Brentford not playing QPR until November, one can’t imagine Steve McClaren will still be in the hot seat by that juncture if they keep up this run of form.  Here’s hoping though.

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The fledgling table makes for great reading. At both ends

Nick Bruzon

So….who fancies going to Swansea beach and who’s staying at home?

2 Aug

The last knockings of pre-season. There’s just a couple of days to go until things kick of in anger once more for Brentford fans. On pitch, that is, where Saturday sees the visit of Rotherham United to Griffin Park. Off-field it seems to be a case of Swansea this, Swansea that. All served up with a side salad of Leeds United and a smattering of Middlesbrough as the transfer speculation, gossip, guesswork and predominantly click bait continues at pace. As we sit tight and wait for the transfer window to ‘slam shut’ ™ the likes of Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos are the ones very much in the shop window and heading out of Griffin Park. If you believe what you read. Which I don’t.

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Griffin Park looked gorgeous during the week

Urghh. Transfer crud. Every season it is the same. Somebody will go. It always happens. That’s how we work. But there’s no point getting upset over whom it might be, to where or when. Besides, even if we do survive unscathed after August 9th, the European clubs remain able to to buy players from any league – including our domestic ones –  until the end of the month.

Yet with John Egan and Florian Jozefzoon having already departed for fees reckoned to be over £6million, might we have already completed our outward business? Might it be done, dusted and hidden in plain sight? Unless, of course, it is a player who wants to leave rather than the club needing/choosing to sell?

One thing Brentford fans should have learned over the years is that we’re bloody good at picking up players and selling them on for much, much more than we have paid for them. As importantly, unearthing talent to replace those that have gone before. That’s not to say I’m advocating a wholesale clearing of the decks. Quite the opposite. My own preference would be to shut the gates now and have Buzzette imprison the first team squad in the changing room for a week. But enough about my fantasies.

Of course last year was the ultimate leap in faith for Bees fans but it was one which was more than amply rewarded. Once the dust settled. The manner and timing of magnificent Maxime, talismanic Jota and, erm captain Harlee to Birmingham City tested the best of us. I’d absolutely include myself in that group and would be more than happy to eat those words now. It was Brentford who were left with all the money, almost hit the play offs after a lousy start to the campaign and had a ten times better season. Birmingham only just swerved relegation and now have a transfer embargo in place.

I hope nothing happens. Absolutely. But if it does then it’ll just be a case of ‘C’est La vie’, as former hit parade favourites B*Witched once sang. Although perhaps with just a shrug of the shoulders rather than a clunky segue from stone cold pop classic to Irish jig interlude* . If nothing else, I can’t do the kind of stress and angst as we saw when Harry came knocking last time around.

On a totally unrelated note, Swansea beach does look quite magnificent. You can see more at visitswanseabay.com .

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Swansea – has a beach. A nice looking one, too

Two other bits of business for today’s article. First up, fantasy football. And no, I don’t mean Buzzette. If anybody is playing in this year’s official Fantasy Premier League game then I’ve set up a Last Word League. It would be great if anybody wanted to take part and join in – see which Brentford fan has the best knowledge of a division we’ll, no doubt, be aiming for.

It all kicks off on Friday August 10th so there’s time to get your team in still. You can sign in at fantasy.premierleague.com, and then the league details you need are…

League name: The Last Word – Brentford

League code: 707088-156816

If we get a few people in before their big kick off, I’ll see if I can dig a prize out of the cupboard. And if not, we’ll just pretend this conversation never happened.

IMG_5044And finally, FourFourTwo magazine launched their season preview edition yesterday. You can pick this up now from all good newsagents. And probably some bad ones too. It is worth picking up as much for their in-depth Championship preview where they are tipping Brentford to finish 3rd. That’s third (not a typo).

Whether it happens or not remains to be seen – although personally I’ve called us fourth in the ‘fans’ segment of the Bees preview. However, it’s just nice to be recognised for four successive top ten finishes and be seen as a side now ready to look at taking that next step. Certainly, the opposite to that infamous quote from Mr. Holloway. Or that other one from Harlee Dean.

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No pressure, Dean

Predictions mean naff all if we can’t turn performances into wins but it means we start on an optimistic note that, for once, extends beyond well beyond the normal bubble of self-confidence that is TW8. Keep the likes of Romaine, Meps, Bentley and Sergi together and who knows? I’d be partial to a little bit more of Woodsy too, of course.

For the record, Swansea are tipped to finish 13th. Just saying.

Nick Bruzon

*Note to self. Pick this for #BeeTheDJ v Rotherham

 

Hashtags, bans, predictions and new signings (for some of us).

31 Jul

Finally. The Championship is back this weekend. There’s no doubting how fantastic the World Cup was yet, at the same time, I’ve a huge feeling of anticipation at the prospect of Brentford entertaining Rotherham United before our own trip to Stoke City the following Saturday. We’ve another new signing (which is more than Birmingham City can say after their own announcement yesterday) in centre back Julian Jeanvier from French Ligue 2 champions Stade de Reims whilst both Beesotted and the Brentford FC Drone also return.

We can only start with transfer news. No sooner has the out-door swung with John Egan heading to Sheffield United for a fee estimated at a minimum of £4million than his replacement has come in for half that – certainly if reports are to be believed. The Jeanvier speculation had been mounting on Twitter for the last few days and was confirmed yesterday with a series of photos (‘leaning on the terrace’ being a new addition to those other signing staples of : holding / wearing new shirt, scarf raised aloft or pen poised over contract) . There was also a hashtag. #JeanvierJoins. Boo.

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A new addition to the range of ‘signing poses’

Julian certainly has form. His Reims side ‘romped to the Ligue 2 title’ last season (those aren’t my words but the words of Brentford official in their own article of ten things you might not know about Jeanvier) , keeping 18 clean sheets and conceding just 24 goals. On a personal basis, he has been in the team of the season for the last two campaigns and would appear to be yet another success for our recruitment team who continue to hoover up quality talent on a more than sustainable basis.

The same can’t be said for Birmingham City who were forced to publish their own official statement yesterday, in which their own transfer embargo was confirmed somewhat obliquely. You can read their full comment here if that takes your fancy, yet the salient line would seem to be the point that: “Unfortunately and disappointingly the EFL are currently refusing to allow us to make additions which would enable us to strengthen the Manager’s squad”.

Oh dear. That’s not good. Even if it is painted in such a way, ending with a rather abrupt, “The Club will make no further comment”. Curse those naughty people at the EFL. All they did was try to make their squad ten times better and look what happens. Big spending Harry would seem to have gone well beyond his means and now, like QPR, no further investment is currently being allowed.

All of which is mentioned not to gloat at Birmingham City where their fans can’t be held responsible for the profligacy of the manager, the misguided indulgence of the board or Harlee Dean opening his mouth. Besides, there’s on pitch results for that. 2-0 and 5-0, wasn’t it?

Click at your peril. Oh, maybe once more….

Instead, it is mentioned more to reflect on how right we continue to do things. Big names and big spending are not the Brentford way yet, somehow, Phil, Rasmus and team continue to unearth the talent. I cannot wait to see how not only Jean but also the likes of fellow new boys Ezri Konsa and Said Benrahama slot into the team.

Saturday against Rotherham is the place to find out whilst 7(seven) days later we travel to title favourites Stoke City. My online bookmaker (purely for research purposes etc etc etc ) has the Potters as 5-1 to win the title. Next up are Middlesbrough at 8s whilst the Bees are 9th favourites at 18-1. At the other end of the spectrum, Birmingham are 50-1 whilst the only teams at a longer price are Hull City, Ipswich, Bolton and then Rotherham themselves at 200-1.

On paper, you’ll be doing well to find two as contrasting games. Being honest, we couldn’t have picked a more favourable start than a home game with the divisional long shots. I can absolutely guarantee it won’t be anywhere near as easy as those prices make out. If for no other reason than early season form needs a while to settle in whilst the Bees haven’t won an opening day fixture in 6 seasons. Likewise, Stoke City won’t fancy a visit from Dean’s brown machine. They’ll be adjusting to Championship life after long stint in the Premier League and this will all be a new experience for many of their fans. And that’s just the quality of the visitors’ shirts! If Stoke do turn out to be the form team predicted then I’d rather get our trip out of the way early.

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Good times against Rotherham the last time they were in the Championship

It is way too early to predict results but, instead, I will do my Ian Moose thing. By which I mean directing you towards my good friends at Beesotted rather than wishing a footballer ‘happy birthday’ via the medium of a narcissistic selfie or banging on about half-time catering in the Premier League.

They have published their annual feature predicting what lies ahead for Brentford aswell as reflecting on the highs and lows from last campaign. Put together by a number of guest contributors, it is always a great read and if you haven’t already seen this one I’d thoroughly recommend you check it out. You can find that one here…

Finally, Lionel Road. The Brentford FC Drone (which you can follow on Twitter : @TheBFCDrone) is back with the latest video on everything that is happening up the road at our new home. It seems incredible to think how far we’ve come on this journey already. Likewise, that in 16 months’ time there will be a new stadium on this site. Yet that’s the aggressive timeline being aimed for and so this really is on track to be our last full season at Griffin Park. That’s not much more than 30 games and a couple of cup runs to go.

Starting with Rotherham on Saturday. I can’t wait. See you there.

Get your latest Lionel Road views, here.

Nick Bruzon

The jewels remain still gleaming, for now. Which England will we get? Which Billy will we get?

11 Jul

Could today be THE big one? The one we’ve all been waiting for? And for clarity, I don’t mean if we find out whether the Birmingham City transfer embargo story is confirmed. Likewise, what the next instalment of Peter Gilhams’s Brentford tour diary contains (the most recent edition is up, here). Of course, there’s nothing but talk of the World Cup and whether England can reach a first final since West Ham fans claim to have won the tournament back in 1966. In their way, Croatia. Already there, a France team who played out a quite thrilling semi-final with Belgium last night before running out 1-0 winners.

This is going to be something very special. Pub tables are booked and plans made for the evening. It’s 6.30am and already I’m hearing nothing but football as the lead story on the radio whilst the music is being interspersed with snippets of commentary. Roll With It – Jonathan Pearce remix? If you were listening to Matt Dyson and Dave Berry on Absolute radio early doors then that’s what you got. The phrase ‘Football’s coming home’ is everywhere. But will it? 

Well, whatever happens , let’s not forget Croatia have just as much right to be there as England. Will believe they have just as great an opportunity of taking on France in the final. If nothing else, they deserve huge praise just for having the balls to pose for ‘that’ page in the Panini sticker book. Presumably, the result of having lost some form of bet. Please, tell me this is the result of having lost some form of bet….  

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Croatia – first class action in the sticker book.

Then there’s the so-called ‘Curse of ITV’. With England having recorded only a second ever ‘Light channel’ World Cup win since 1998 following victory over Colombia in the second round, is that jinx broken? Or could the spectre of Glenn Hoddle still lean over Gareth Southgate’s team like some nonsense spouting harbinger of doom?

No chance. England are too strong. The mood too positive. The ‘lucky’ table in the pub already secured. England reaching the final is as likely as Billy The Bee appearing in front of a TV camera at some point during tonight’s proceedings. Hopefully face set to ‘ecstatic grin’ rather than’ groan of despair.’  One can’t knock his enthusiasm and passion for both football and England. His magnetic attraction to TV cameras. Those facial gymnastics are an incredible thing – does he have to practice in the bathroom mirror?

In all seriousness, how great to see a familiar Brentford face out there so often. Spreading good cheer and positivity. Helping us tick off our World Cup bingo cards each game. With Denmark’s Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford having finally departed the tournament after his own magnificent run, great work Billy on keeping us in the public eye.

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Which Billy will we get tonight?

Yet getting back to tonight’s game, the positivity aside will fatigue play a part in England’s favour? Whether physical or mental? Croatia have seen their last two games go all the way to extra time and then penalties. Whilst the prize at stake is a huge one, could they already be on the back foot? The margins between winning and losing are going to be infinitesimally small tonight and this may be one factor to England’s advantage.

Then again, we all expected Saturday against Sweden to be cagey yet once Harry Maguire opened the scoring the game really was one-way traffic. Even when the opposition did get in on goal, there was Jordan Pickford to keep them at bay.

I guess that all this goes to say is whilst I’m backing England, ultimately nobody can make an accurate prediction. In a tournament that has seen the likes of Germany and Argentina humbled, Spain go down in the second round and Brazil in the quarters – take nothing for granted. No one team has a divine right to win it. No one team can guarantee getting there. Obvious, perhaps, but this really is wide open. Whomever doesn’t lift that trophy will never have had a better chance to do so,  

For now, the jewels remain still gleaming. As somebody almost sang. England are alive. But so are France and Croatia. The only thing you can say for sure is that at the end of the day (Clive), a tournament that has done nothing but captivate and surprise is sure to still have a few tricks up her sleeve. And I cannot wait to find out what they are.

Roll on 7(seven) pm.

Nick Bruzon

Kit news? Some news? Natalie aces the World Cup podcast and YOUR chance to shape Lionel Road.

9 Jun

Saturday morning. Something’s happening. For any Brentford fans up early then 9am is the time; the official website is the place. But what is it? What’s happening? Is it kit or a new player? Please be kit. For those England, Denmark fans (and beyond) we’ve a double World Cup latest for anybody wanting something a little bit different to the usual ‘fantasy football’ and podcasts. And there is stadium news as the Lionel Road plans continue to take shape.

First up, Twitter. Fan engagement manager Ryan Murrant set tongues wagging on Friday morning when he casually dropped the bombshell, “Oh and kit news is coming real soon…” into our social media feed.

What??? Where? When? Real. Soon. Define either/both. Please. The response was a GIF. Not quite meme levels of social media offences but acceptable enough if it gives this obsessive a kit related clue. But what does a calendar rushing through the early days of June mean?

Will that be when we our given our first snippet? The start of Mark Devlin’s now traditional strip tease routine. Or is it a full reveal? Will the point that the GIF stopped looping around (the 10th/11th seemingly the last clear dates) prove significant? Is that when we’re given the news, whatever that is, or did Ryan’s graphic just signify a broader date of ‘June’?

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Was he talking about Leicester City (given Brentford weren’t, actually, mentioned). Might it be the addition of Kit Symons to the coaching staff, as one Twitter wag noted. As yours truly over-analyses his tweet in a desperate search for clues one thing’s for sure –  with other clubs now in full sarotial flow, our own news can’t come quick enough.

I woke up this morning (du du du du duhhh) to more twitter news. This time from Brentford official. A late night tease and a Matthew Benham style video with the promise of even more news. Has Ryan’s news been usurped? Is this something different? Just what is going on? One things for sure, 9am Saturday morning promises to see our computer logged on to brentfordfc.com

Sitting here writing this nonsense I’m being kept going by Bees super fan Natalie Sawyer. Metaphorically speaking. With Russia 2018 almost upon us, The Times have launched their own tournament podcast, The Game World Cup daily.

Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 08.12.40We all know Natalie’s talent when it comes to hosting, presenting, chairing and talking football in general. Likewise, what happened in the last few months.

Supported by an extremely knowledgeable panel of Gab Marcotti, Henry Winter and James Gheerbrant, it’s a compelling listen. There are the views on what to expect from Russia as a host nation – especially for the England fans. The hopes and chances of the more favoured teams. Who will get through the knockout phases? What about England? Brazil? Germany? Lionel Messi and his Argentina side? Have Belgium under prepared or are they simply untested? Dark horses that nobody can get a proper read of?

With the promise of a new episode to come every matchday evening after the final whistle has blown, the opening preview has me hooked. I love the World Cup anyway but this additional insight is a very welcome partner to my Panini sticker book and wallchart. With Sky Sports loss very much The Times gain, bring on the next episode. You can find it here. Great job, Natalie. And team.

Next up, predictions. We’re all experts when it comes to calling the games. Obviously. The only reason I’m not a betting millionaire is because I only use the internet gambling sites for research purposes. That, and the prospect of being lured in by Ray Winstone’s disembodied head, responsibly or otherwise, is as distasteful a thought as a night out with Mrs Brown and her boys (I would also accept: The England supporters’ band).

Yet hope is at hand. Hashfootery is back. The simple prediction game where the most you can lose is your sanity as you try to predict the scores of group games and beyond. The most you can win, the acclaim aside, are some quite magnificent beer glasses.

But its not about the prizes. Its about the chance to demonstrate what we know about football – albeit I’ll take any guidance Natalie and her team can offer. If you fancy a go then you can enter here for free.

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Enter today and win a prize (stickers not included)

Getting back to Brentford, did you see the Lionel Road news on the official site yesterday? YOUR chance to be involved in the stadium planning committee and help shape our future home. This is incredible. Having sat in on some of the meetings already, I can’t stress how involved the club are looking to make this. How much of a supporter driven effort this is becoming.

Yet with everything from Farewell to Griffin Park, through ticketing, seating and even things such as catering up for discussion – you must have athought on one of these? Surely? If so then ‘official’ have all the details of how fans can get involved.

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Lionel Road is well under way

And finally, I just wanted to offer a HUGE thanks to all those who have downloaded one of the season review e-books to date. With all proceeds raised going towards the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, I can’t say how grateful I am to our fans. Don’t forget also that if you do this before the end of June, I’ll put you into the draw to win this exclusive ‘third’ shirt – just DM / tweet me your download confirmation mail so as I can add your name.

Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Pinch yourself at just how far we have come in such a short space of time

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Nick Bruzon

That’s one Saturday we’ll never forget although maybe not for all the right reasons.

27 May

After all the build-up to both the play-off final and Champions League it ended up being awful. Just awful. Cock ups and woeful flaps. Dreadful clappers egging on their heroes and nobody laughing. But enough about BBC1 screening: All Round to Mrs. Browns last night. We need to talk about football. Brentford will play Aston Villa next season after they lost out to Fulham. Liverpool return home empty handed following the game with Real Madrid in Kiev.

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Mrs. Brown. As relentless as The Terminator

I hadn’t planned on blogging much until the World Cup. Yet yesterday’s double-header has seen a temporary return for this weekend. With Brentford having enjoyed such an action packed campaign it was only right and proper to recognise the Championship season coming to conclusion. And then there was the added bonus of Liverpool trying to recreate the miracle of Istanbul on another of those glory, glory European nights (other entries from the Anfield bingo card are also available).

What can you say though? Even this morning I still numb by what happened. Shocked. That most fickle mistress having administered a kick to the nuts that was harsh even by her standards. And just to be clear, I’m still talking about the football rather than any accidental switching over to Mrs. Brown half way through the night.

There’s not much to add that hasn’t already been written and said. The clappers were horrific. The play-off final was cagey. The post-match love in with a Fulham side who should have been reduced to ten players much earlier than it eventually happened was awful. Aston Villa picked themselves up in the second half but it was much too late by then. Tom Cairney grabbing the winner after being put through by Eighteen-year-old Sessegnon. For those not familiar with the player, I understand his name is actually Ryan. And he did a pass. Well done.

The only real plus point to come out of this was that at least Steve Bruce has been spared telling John Terry to grow up, forget his own perceived self-importance and get warmed up for the game against Chelsea next season. Instead, it’ll be a game against Brentford. If he doesn’t hang up his boots.

As for Liverpool, it wasn’t to be. Goalkeeper has a nightmare will be what we take away from this. Sadly. One has to feel for Loris Karius. He cut a desperate figure at full time, left alone on the pitch in Kiev. For all the world looking like he just wanted the ground to open up and swallow him. It was awful to watch. As though we were peering in on an individual’s moment of personal hell when surely an immediate arm round the shoulder was needed.

Rio Ferdinand in the pundit’s box didn’t really help afterwards. None of his teammates will say it, but they‘ll all be looking at him and thinking it. I’ve been in that situation. I’ve done it…he noted.

Stevie G joined in, mentioning he’d won the final. Again. And again. Clanngggg – the sound of a name being dropped.

Whatever happened, happened. Easy for me to say on a Sunday morning but we’ve more than seen our own pantheon of goalkeeping calamity at Griffin Park over the years. We’ve more than felt our own pain at the final stage. That’s before you even get to all those play-off semis and, of course, ‘that penalty’.

Wigan, Crewe, Port Vale, Stoke City, Carlisle and Yeovil Town may not have the same allure as Real Madrid but the pain was just as real. The feeling of emptiness horrific. The realisation of having got so close only to fall at the last is just a brutal sensation.

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Marcello Trotta takes that penalty – as bad as it got but what a response next season.

It was Ashley Bayes to the max. It does get better. It will get better. It may not feel it now. That feeling of despair we all felt as the penalty hit the bar was replaced with something quite wonderful the following season as another penalty hit the back of the net.

At the same time, bouncing back from making not one but two such high profile mistakes with the eyes of the world watching is going to be as huge a challenge as they come. Hopefully, somebody will go round Twitter mopping up some of the vile abuse being poured out towards the young goalkeeper and his family. It was simply horrific. This normally most wonderful of social media tools at it’s very worst.

Spare a thought also for Mo Salah. Whether you support Liverpool or not, only the most churlish could take pleasure from the fact that he now looks as though he’ll miss the World Cup. For this global superstar to be absent from the most exciting of tournaments is a huge loss. For Egypt, for fans, for football and of course the player himself. What a way it would have been to wrap up a simply magnificent season. Now, he’s hoping the medics can do their thing but listening to Jürgen Klopp talking at full time, it doesn’t seem good.

I could ramble on, but what’s the point. Football treated us to the very worst of what she offers yesterday. At least in terms of raw, inconsolable emotion. Unless you are a Fulham fan.

See you all again in a week or so. There’s a World Cup, a new Brentford kit and a few more things to look forward to….

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Ashley Bayes bounced back from this debut

Nick Bruzon