Tag Archives: Brentford FC

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

26 Jan

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

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

Dervişoğlu – image shamelessly lifted from ‘official’

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

Bring on Brendan. Rodgers rather than O’Carroll. FA Cup excitement continues.

24 Jan

This is about as intriuging as an FA Cup tie gets. Brentford, two points off second place in the Championship, host Leicester City, two points off the very summit of the Premier league, in Sunday afternoon’s fourth round tie. The winners know they will be given the opportunity to welcome Brighton in the last 16. With heavy snow forecast in the area from 8am, this one really could have it all. Perhaps, even, an orange ball (although one would presume we’ll get the insipid, dog piss yellow version). Yet with an absolutely massive game on Wednesday at Swansea City, and the sheer exhaustion quite clearly in evidence during the second half against Luton on Wednesday, don’t go into this one expecting the full fat first team. I’m still expecting excitement. Having had the appetite whetted with Chorley – Wolves and Cheltenham Town – Manchester City, now its our turn to strip up to that TV plate.

Thomas Frank has already dropped all the hints you need about who is going to be starting this one today. We know Ivan Toney is missing because of that suspension so Marcus Forss will be up top. That Luton match saw the start of a 14 game run of midweek / weekend fixtures and we looked absolutely fit to drop during that most painful of second halves. It was unmissable stuff and you couldn’t look away. Albeit in the same excruciating way as being tied to a chair and force-fed Mrs. Browns Boys. That Brentford hung on for another win after the two week closure of the training ground was quite amazing but it is clear these are men, not machines. As such, no surprise to hear Thomas announce in his press conference that, “I will use the squad but not like a full rotation. We will put a strong team out there tomorrow.”

The second half against Luton was about as painful viewing as Mrs. Brown’s Boys

Regardless of the Swansea City game, this is absolutely the right thing to do. We’ve a fantastic squad and already seen in the league cup how deep this runs. Four wins out of five against Premier league opposite this season. Only Jose Mourinho getting in our way. A sixth game upon us now and a chance for the likes of Tarique, Samman et al to show what they can do once more. Could there be more action for the likes of Alex Gilbert, Lewis Gordon, Fin Stevens and Max Haygarth who all featured against Middlesbrough in the previous round? Who all impressed, Stevens in particular. We already know that Marcus Forss, a player Thomas says “The Club have a strong belief that he will be a top striker”, starts. This, for me , is a great thing.

Marcus’ form this season has been quite outstanding to watch. His goal for Finland in France a quite wonderful cherry on the cake of his own personal growth. He has a foot like the proverbial traction engine and when he hits that ball, it stays hit. I can’t wait to see what he can do against Leicester City and if we can give him the service then the results could be quite incredible. With Ivan Toney missing through suspension, the door is open to lay down a claim to a more regular starting berth. Whether now or in the near future. 

Marcus has only impressed when he has featured.

It won’t be easy, of course. Leicester City were the visitors for the fourth round last year. They ran out 1-0 winners and despite our best efforts, it felt comfortable all the way through. Albeit a much changed Brentford team including relative unknowns (then) Yearwood, Racic, Thomspon, Roerslev and Zamburek gave a strong account of themselves. Bryan Mbeumo saw an equaliser chalked off by the officials but in the end an early goal from Kelechi Iheanacho was enough to separate the two teams. With Jamie Vardy’s well documented injury today, expect the same player to start again. Wes Morgan and Dennis Praet are also missing from a selection where Brendan Rodgers hinted at a similar approach to Thomas, “We always try to rely on the collective, the group has always been able to find results.

Whomever he goes with, Leicester are gong to be strong. About as tough a test as they come. Just as when they won the league before, the Foxes are the one team nobody is really talking about. Liverpool choke. Frank out (at Chelsea). Manchester City and their early stumble. Manchester United at the top despite the odd reaction of their own fans to Ole earlier on. Sound familiar? Yet it is Leicester who have avoided the noise, shirked the nonsense and just got on with what they are great at. Winning football matches. Indeed, they went top during the week until United did their thing, Treat this one as a casual affair at your peril. It is an FA Cup tie that is about as hard as it comes.

Despite the lack of crowds – even next season is now feeling optimistic at best – the tournament has continued to provide excitement. Who couldn’t help but be moved by Chorley? Their game on Friday night with Wolves could, genuinely, have gone either way. It was quite the cracker. Cheltenham Town had us all believing in the magic of the cup last night until Manchester City stepped up very late to crush the dreams of the nation’s armchair fans. Blackpool had us on the edge of our seats yesterday afternoon until Brighton retook the lead with the most severe of deflections. It was cruel but it was a goal. That’s football. For a moment, the outride world forgotten about until full time came around and then there was nothing else to do except watch The Masked singer. Apparently. I mean, I don’t, but I believe some people may. The crushing reality of having to watch Davina Macall gurning her way through truing to fathom out who was lurking beneath a Bushbaby  costume (if only there was a mask for her) no replacement for celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup in the Griffin at full time. Moreso given it wasn’t Jason Donovan or Joe Mangel when his head eventually came off.

We digress. Cripes, do we digress. I can’t wait for this one. As ever, I’d love to be there. I understand why we can’t but it doesn’t make it any easier. At least we have the TV to provide a bit of an escape and we’ll be huddled around it for sure. Taking consolation in the fact we’re not freezing to death in what already feels absolutely bitter outside my front door. The lack of frostbite a small benefit for being forced to stay home although there isn’t one amongst us who wouldn’t happily lose a few toes if it meant being able to see the game at Lionel Road?

Kick off is at 2.30pm today. BT Sport the place. There are no cameras on I-follow although Mark Burridge and team will still have audio commentary. As do BBC Radio 5 live although for me (Clive), the Parry-Reeves line up offered by their London based counterpart is always infinitely preferable for anyone heading down the wireless route. 

The day is upon us. Enjoy the game however you are following it. On tv, in the bathtub with a terrace tranny, in the gym with internet radio or just sat on the sofa. We’ll be doing the later. We’ll be hoping for another upset. Another Premier League notch on the belt. Another excuse to watch something that isn’t people giving it their all in oversized anthropomorphic costumes. Buzz and Buzette aside. Yet even they are victims of the current Corona rulings, it would seem. Oh to have a pre-match welcome from their furry faces. Curse you, Covid. Curse you.

Still, at least there is a game to watch. I’m just glad we’ll be seeing Brendan Rodgers rather than Brendan O’Carroll – the usual automatic replacement for ‘no football’. No matter how hard it is doing it from the couch. The prospect of being able to welcome a 7th (seventh) top flight team, whilst playing in the Championship, would be a quite wonderful mark of how this strangest of seasons has gone. Should we first beat a 6th. Just the small matter of Leicester City standing in the way….

This time last year – my sort of masked mystery

Nick Bruzon.

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

21 Jan

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

That was tough viewing

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

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

The goal had video game like cohesion

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

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

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

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

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

An undoubted highlight from a hard game

Nick Bruzon  

Back in action. Time to test ourselves as the door opens.

20 Jan

Here we go, again. Brentford are back in action after that three week Corona Virus related lay off. Luton Town the visitors this evening and then Premier League leaders Leicester City in the FA Cup on Sunday. The players are all reported as well (injury aside) and Thomas Frank was back at the helm in a series of photographs published from the training ground earlier in the week. As one correspondent noted, short of holding up a copy of ‘The Sun’ (other fetid rags are available), the photos couldn’t have been any more ‘honestly, these are fresh’ if we’d tried. And that’s great news. Even better is the shape of the table. Whilst we’ve fallen a few spots due to inaction, the Bees find themselves four points ahead of 7th (seventh) placed Stoke City with three games less played. More importantly, Bournemouth hitting the skids with DLL sees the opportunity to go clear in second open up. Should we win those games in hand. Hmm, no pressure lads 😉 

Thomas, and the squad, were pictured back in action this week.

I can’t wait for this. If anything, the delay to football has felt even longer than last season’s Covid cancellation. Then, everybody was in the same boat. This time around we been amongst a handful of teams unable to play whilst everyone else has carried on. Its very much felt like outsiders looking in. One must be thankful that, at the least, things haven’t got any worse. We did talk about the need for football to call a halt as increased numbers of positive cases were bing reported across the football world. Whilst the opportunity of seeing a game in person still seems as far away as ever, at least that decision is one which hasn’t needed to be taken. Long may that level of good health continue.

Getting back to this evening’s game, it really is a quite wonderful opportunity for Brentford. There’s no Pontus, of course, but otherwise it looks like we have that full squad to pick from. I’d absolutely expect the same starting XI as that which began at Spurs : Raya, Dalsgaard, Pinnock, Bech Sørensen, Henry, Dasilva, Janelt, Jensen, Mbeumo, Toney, Canós.  Or, at least, were Josh still not under suspension. Honestly, didn’t forget about that at the ungodly hour these are written at. Could it be Marcondes? A return for norgaard? Pan C?

Regardless, that last league game saw a line up which also took Bournemouth apart, albeit Pontus played then, in our last league fixture. That, one of the most encouraging and determined performances from a Bees team in a long while. The balls and never say die attitude. The fortitude. The attacking intent. It really was an excellent game of football with new levels of expectation now being set.

What. A. Performance!! Cherries picked.

Luton Town won’t be easy, of course. They did us that recent favour of their own whilst we were out action, beating Bournemouth. The side that got hammered 7(seven) – 0 at Griffin Park last season nothing more than a distant memory. They have found their feet and then some. Indeed, the play-offs are a more than realistic aspiration in what is one of the most open Championship campaigns in years. The quality of our opponents something Thomas picked up on in his press conference, noting that, “I know that we will be there performance-wise tomorrow night but I am more worried about Luton because I know they are a very underrated team in this division…on their day they can make it difficult for any team because of their style of play. They work hard throughout the team and are very good on set pieces. They want to play, and can play, because they have some quality players.

Yet there’s no reason to be scared. It’ll be a tough game for sure but we’ve more than proven we can handle those in recent months. The prize for victory will be a return to third place. The opportunity to sit just two points behind Swansea City with a game a in hand. The chance for Ivan Toney to open up a gap at the top of the Championship leading scorer table. What more could you want at this stage?

Personally speaking, I’m just happy to be back in action. That Thomas is feeling fit and well once more. That we have no apparent casualties of this relentless virus. That we have another exciting week upon us. Luton this evening. Leicester City on Sunday and then that HUGE trip to Swansea City next Wednesday. It does big the question as to what line up Thomas may go for in the FA Cup. He kept nothing back for Spurs but that was a semi-final in the middle of a brief respite from frenetic action. Now, the door to the Premier League is opening once more. I’d love the chance to take on the Foxes at full strength. Being realistic though, I can only see that as an opportunity for the squad to show just how deep it goes. To repeat what it did against that legion of Premier League sides in the League Cup. 

That’s to come. For now, all eyes and all focus have to be on this evening. On Luton Town. On doing all possible to pick up another three points. On keeping that huge unbeaten run of league form going. I’d love another bracketing. If it ends up being a scrappy 1-0 we’ll be just as happy. Kick off is at 7(seven)pm. See you there. In spirit.

Our last home game with Luton ended in brackets.

Nick Bruzon

Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. You just know they’ll do it.

12 Jan

And with that the FA Cup fourth round draw has been made. Not to mention the in no way convoluted selection for the fifth. With Brentford fans settling down in front of the TV to watch proceedings unfold (and Leeds United fans settling down in front of the TV to watch The One Show) the best we could hope for was a home draw. Well, we got one. A repeat of last season’s tie  with Leicester City. The winners of which will be at home again, entertaining whomever comes out on top between Brighton and Blackpool. The chance to test ourselves once more against the former Premier League Champions . A possible return for Neal Maupay should everything go to plan. The quarter-finals wide open. I’m sure all four clubs in our little group are thinking the same about that one. This could be fun. Even if the TV companies will be wetting themselves over the prospect of Manchester United – Liverpool. Yawn.

This really is as good as it could have got for the Bees. Brentford  – Leicester City is a tie with all the elements in place for a classic FA Cup match. High flying Championship side at home to the former top flight champions and a club currently in the top three. It was a close run thing last time out and I can’t wait for the chance to go one better. Or, at least, try to ! Would that we were able to attend in person but there’s frankly no way we’ll be able to get anywhere near a football stadium by the end of January. Even 9-11 February for round five is still nothing more than a flight of fancy. Sadly, it will have to be the TV for us, Brighton and Blackpool.

Its one of those where, genuinely, any of the four teams can make it through. Brighton are hardly on fire at present. Blackpool made West Brom look even shoddier than normal at the weekend. Leicester City are clearly the favourites but they won’t relish a visit to a Brentford team who made it to the League Cup semi-finals. Who are flying high in the league and have an added element of steel that was, perhaps, missing last season. Opposition generally despatched with ease but, if we’re being honest, perhaps lacking that additional nous when it counted. Look at how Leeds United held it together at the critical time. Fair play to them. When all were expecting them to fall apart (again) they stayed firm. The brilliance of Bielsa pulling them through. Hurrah for powerpoint!

There are a few obvious plum ties in the draw. Wycombe v Spurs. Cheltenham Town v Manchester City. Chorley v Wolves is, for me, the pick of the bunch. No doubt BT and the BBC will be falling over themselves for Manchester United v Liverpool. Why? Why? Why? (Delilah). A game, and teams, we’ve seen a thousand times before. An encounter with as much cup magic as an end of the pier entertainer pulling a dirty handkerchief rather than the missing card from his sleeve. Genuinely I’d give that one a swerve. Been there. Done it. No interest. The others, and the wider draw, offer up genuine intrigue. Ourselves included. Moreso once the cards fall into place for round five. 

That’s way down the track though. First things first, we’ve got Bristol City tomorrow night. Then a few more league games. Then Leicester City visit. I’m sure, likewise, Thomas will go for a similar team that beat Middlesbrough in round three. That took us most of the way in the league cup. I’m fully behind that, too. The squad is there for a reason and these boys have more than proven they can step into the first team. Even if his rotation does cause a few tears to be shed in other quarters.

I love the FA Cup. I’d love us to get as far as possible, no question. I still see the Championship as an absolute priority. Equally, though, having one foot in the quarters a few season back was quite the moment. Until Swansea City did their thing in the second half. With the paths for both mapped out in front of us, the next month or two could be even more exciting than ever. There’s not really much else to say at this point. The balls have dropped. We know what awaits.  Bring it on.

It all went South at Swansea after a cracking first half.

Nick Bruzon

Robert’s legacy lives on as the dream continues.

10 Jan

Back of the net ! Brentford went through to the fourth round of the FA Cup, despite the absence of Thomas Frank and a whole raft of first team regulars. Goals from Halil Dervişoğlu and Saman Ghoddos were enough to steer us past Middlesbrough in a comfortable 2-1 win. It was a game as notable for the debutants as it was for both of our scorers’ first Brentford goal – in particular, the strike from Ghoddos one we’d been, ermm, anticipating /  expecting / hoping for. No, sorry, the correct word to use escapes me but I’m sure somebody will come up with a better one. Crowbarred headlines aside, we’re through. Monday evening sees the draws for rounds four AND five, before we can then concentrate on the league for a few weeks. Bristol City, Reading and Luton Town are next on that circuit.

Aswell as the two goalscorers making the headlines, lets not ignore the debuts for Alex Gilbert and Lewis Gordon or a first start for Fin Stevens. Not to mention Max Haygarth coming off the bench late on. Truly, the B team flame is alive and well. Burning as strongly as ever with Stevens, in particular, impressing. Robert Rowan’s legacy lives on and shows no sign of abating. How much of what we enjoy and take for granted is down to this man? In addition, there was a welcome return for Mads Roerslev – amazing to already consider him an ‘elder statesmen’ in this set up ! Most importantly though, this has shown a new strength and set of options available to Thomas, temporary custodian Neil MacFarlane, Sam Saunders and the rest of our group as we head into the second part of the season. The comfort level showed by the newcomers no surprise but very welcome nonetheless.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. Never have done. We all saw the game anyway or, at least, had the opportunity to do so via the surprisingly reliable FA player. Yet what was notable was what an open attacking match it was. Both sides going for it in a complete antithesis of November’s infamous 0-0 snoozefest.

Once the teams had found their feet it was Middlesbrough, if any, who felt in the ascendency. Luke Daniels in nets looking as solid as ever to thwart smiling assassin Chuba Akpom and Marcus Browne. Brentford building into it until , with half time approaching,  Dervişoğlu struck. He’d been offered a good chance earlier but steered wide when cutting in. There was no mistake this time. Boom. 1-0 and the tinfoil trophy hoisted high into the living room air. Ghoddos with the delivery from the corner and Halil executing it low past the ‘keeper. 1-0. Game on. First period done.

With the world outside the front door feeling , at times, like it’s going to hell in a handcart, you can’t put a price on seeing a smile like this. Thank you Halil. Thank you Robert. Thank you everyone. It certainly helps make my life and the struggle of being a parent that much easier. Keeps a 7(seven) year old ecstatic at a time when popping out to the park is about as good as it gets for him compared to normal. Instead, he then spent the entire second half waving the tinfoil and commentating over the top of FA player in equal measure.

Celebrations back at home for the first goal

As ever, this is Brentford. This is football. It’s never 100% plain sailing and with Neil Warnock’s team back out on the front foot, the scores were level soon after the restart. Sam Folarin being given all the time and space needed to pick his spot. Daniels, for once, given no chance of stoping it. Yet rather than collapse into a pit of despair it was the Bees who picked themselves up and kicked on. 

Saman Ghoddos timing his own run through the middle to perfection, picking up the ball and waltzing through the gaps in the Boro’ defence. The Iranian timing his moment before unleashing a devastating counterstrike  from 12 yards out. Hard and low into the bottom corner. Jordan Archer in goal unable to do anything beyond looking good in his shirt. Wow, that was a stunner. As was Saman’s shot. You can see all of it, and more, on the BBC highlights which are available here.

The BBC replay shows all the magnificence.

And from there, the game was closed out. Nothing more to worry about. No stress. All calm. All good. A potato skin negotiated. No need for energy sapping extra time but instead an immediate return to winning ways after Spurs had put the brakes on that mammoth unbeaten run. Brentford through to the next round and the excitement of the draw. Bristol City here in a few days time when league action recommences. The team sure to return to a more familiar starting XI but, at the same time, one that now knows there are even more options than before to plug the gaps. To increase competition for places. To earn the shirt in their own right.

The future is bright. The future is red, white and youth. Brentford continue to lead the way in squad development and B-team progression. The work started by the much missed Robert Rowan continuing apace. Who knows how vital this will prove between here and May? And beyond...

The architect of so much we enjoy and take for granted. Thank you.

Nick Bruzon  

Not even Michael Caine could have turned this around.

6 Jan

Well played Spurs. Let’s start right there. Brentford went down 2-0 on Tuesday to miss out on a place in the League Cup final against a quality side packed with more than enough talent to reach Wembley. Jose Mourinho went strong and was duly rewarded. Mind you, so did Thomas Frank with only Pontus Jansson missing from what could now be deemed his preferred starting XI. It wasn’t quite enough. The combination of defensive generosity, great finishes and the machinations of VAR being enough to see Tottenham through. They controlled the game, no doubt, but there was enough about the Bees to suggest this wasn’t going to turn out the foregone conclusion many expected. Manchester City play Manchester United this evening to discover who will contest the final. Luckily for both, they’ll be spared referee Mike Dean.

Urghh. What can you say about the controversial man in the middle? Personally, I was left thinking that this is how it would be if Keith Stroud did regular top flight action. Soft yellows given to Brentford. Robust challenges unpunished from the hosts. Josh Dasilva sent off for an accidental, albeit painful looking, foul on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Understandable on review, even if without any intent. Yet it was the second half VAR controversy (words as intrinsically linked as ‘Mrs Browns Boys’ and ‘unfunny’) that left the sour taste in the mouth. 

By that stage Spurs were already ahead. A bright start from the Bees being stopped dead in its tracks with not even a quarter-hour played when Moussa Sissoko was given the freedom of the penalty box. Marking that took the social distancing guidelines to the letter of the law. The Tottenham man heading home with pleasure and Brentford on the back foot. The wind taken from our sails and containment the immediate next order of the day. A flurry of half-chances and no further breaches the best we had to show.

Half time came and went. The Bees back out with a spring in their step. Lucky shirts being worn back home were clearly doing their thing. Forget the ever closer Ivan Toney. The magic of Bryan Mbeumo. The I don’t know what of Mathias Jensen. The goal felt like it was coming and sure enough, it did….. Just after the hour who else but Ivan Toney was there to head home from close in!! TW8 erupted. The players celebrated. Game on. Echos of the quite magnificent Escape to Victory ringing in the ears… “We can win this!!

Sadly though, we couldn’t. Michael Caine, Pele et al may have had a dodgy referee, physical opponents and superior opposition to deal with. We had, well all of that  – albeit without the dodgy acting – but also VAR. The much maligned tool alerting Mike Dean to the fact that the Championship’s leading scorer may have been offside as he guided the ball home. Indeed, after multiple replays Dean felt obliged to chalk off the goal he had already awarded. Toney’s fingernail being apparently ahead of the last defender’s heel and, as such, interfering with play as fell to his knees.

We quoted this one in last night’s post match immediacy. There’s no reason not to do it again. 

Hey, its not Spurs fault and no sour grapes towards them. Does anyone really think we’d have complained had it gone the other way? Of course not. Yet this doesn’t make it any easier. Doesn’t make the game we love feel even further away from the thing of excitement and spontaneity that it used to be. Instead, the life has been sucked out of it with goals being tediously dissected by set squares and sub-millimetre thin lines on screen. Its not even close to being obvious. Its an absolute joke.

Spurs, of course, did what teams do in these situations, Remained calm, professional, well used to it. With Bees fans and players feeling the most tremendous sense of injustice, out hosts carried on as normal and within minutes had gone down the other end to double the lead. Son Heung-min bursting clear to leather one past David Raya. A top quality move and finish from one of the best players in the land. No complaints. No arguments. First class. Game over man. Game over.

There was still enough time for VAR to alert Mike Dean to the fact that he may want to give Josh Dasilva a red card. It was inevitable the second the replay was shown on the big screen. It made no impact to the outcome but does now mean he misses out on the FA Cup (who doesn’t though?) and the more important league games with Reading and Luton. Thomas will need to get his whiteboard back out and rejuggle for them.

Tottenham deserved it overall, even if that’s not how football necessarily works. Ultimately, it comes down to balls in the back of the net and we had that denied us in the most painful of circumstances. Thomas would talk about how proud he was at full time and I guess he’s right.

Yet thinking about it this morning, the overall feeling is one of genuine frustration that we haven’t beaten one of the best teams in the Premier League. That we have had the chance of victory, could have taken it, matched our opponents but were ultimately denied by external factors. That is perhaps what we should focus on. Nobody gave us a chance but we just carried on doing what we’ve done so far this campaign. Played our best combination against the team in front of us. And we ran them blinkin’ close. 

This was no trashing and whilst I don’t overly do the ‘plucky losers’ thing (nobody remembers, or cares about how unlucky the beaten team were) the feeling remains that we had enough about us to win this one. Had the breaks gone, then who knows. The experience alone could prove invaluable in or long term future. 

Jose Mourinho was adamant at full-time that we’d meet again next season in the Premier League. I think he’s right, too. In the short term then look positive. At least we can concentrate on the league.

Nick Bruzon

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

5 Jan

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

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

If only… Instead we had more despair

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

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

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

A case of fifty saves in grey tonight?

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

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

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

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

Can Brentford keep on the “Road to Wembley” ?

Nick Bruzon

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There’s an upset coming….

4 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not my maths….

Nick Bruzon       

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

2 Jan

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

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

The BBC website last night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon