Tag Archives: Brighton

Updates on and off the pitch plus the small matter of a Chelsea rematch.

19 Oct

Wednesday evening and Brentford welcome Chelsea to the Gtech for a 7.30pm kick off. A slightly unusual time although, for those of us living close to the ground, a more sociable one. Good luck to those coming from further afield or those Manchester United fans heading back to London after their own game with Spurs kicks off at 8.15pm tonight. The price fans pay for the broader carve up of TV football. Don’t even start about Christmas and New Year fixture times…. Yet for now, with the 2-0 defeat of Brighton still fresh in the memory, all focus is on another encounter with the team from Stamford Bridge. There can’t be anyone amongst us who could forget what happened the last time we met. Could a repeat be on the cards?

What an afternoon at Stamford Bridge

It’s unlikely, let’s be honest. Brentford were magnificent that afternoon and whilst fully deserving of our 4-1 win, that was then. This is now. Ownership and management have changed. Graham Potter has his team back in form with five wins and four clean sheets on the bounce, including a Champions League double over AC Milan. Incredible though that afternoon back in April was, and it was, a repeat scoreline is priced at 90/1 with the bookmakers. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, does it?

That’s not to say Brentford won’t fancy their chances. Ivan Toney is very much the man of the moment and the opening goal of his brace against Brighton is one of those that can’t be watched enough. Even our Harry had it on repeat over breakfast yesterday. The vision, skill and confidence to even take on that back heel, let alone pull it off, was something to behold. Next level brilliance. His second, from the penalty spot, oozing that unearthly calm with which we are all so familiar yet still end up baffled by a technique which has do far proved to be unstoppable for The Bees. 

Ivan did it again from the spot on Friday

The downside is our injury prognosis. Thankfully, the return of Ethan Pinnock has been timed to perfection. With Thomas Frank revealing yesterday that Pontus Jansson is out until after the World Cup, we’ll now be seeing that partnership with Ben Mee given a chance to flourish. Also absent for the same period will be Aaron Hickey. He missed the Brighton game and is now out for a similar period to his captain after suffering ligament damage following a twisted ankle. The plus side is the ability of Kris Ajer and Mads Roerslev to fill in – depending on whether we play two or three centre backs – but there can be no doubting the loss that Aaron will be. A player who had very much hit the Premier League ground running and was making early inroads into the season long campaign to find our own star player for the season.

With reserve goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha also out for a few months (if I recall correctly he injured an ankle saving a Kris Ajer penalty in training, but don’t @ me if my memory is playing up) then we’re definitely looking a little thinner. It goes without saying Thomas won’t want Neil Greig knocking on his door any time soon although the plus-side being that at least Christian Norgaard has been pictured in training once more.

Out on the grass and being match fit are two toady different things but there’s no doubting the boost that seeing last years player of the season has brought to fans.  

Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of this soon

As long as we don’t suffer any further fitness blows then Thomas Frank still has enough about his squad to give anybody a match. Something Brighton discovered on Friday night where despite dominating the possession stats, the Seagulls were clinically despatched in a manner that gave huge encouragement. But for the woodwork, Bryan Mbeumo might also have had a wonder goal added to his tally. Plus ca change. It’s 2021/22 all over again. 

For all we’re revelling in the memory of that 4-1, a more pertinent indication of the Chelsea danger would be the 1-0 defeat inflicted earlier that season. Édouard Mendy in nets was simply incredible for the visitors that night, keeping his team alive during a backs to the wall second-half from the battling Bees. A point was the least our performance suggested but as we always say, deserved to gets you nothing. Stats and possession are worth naff all (just ask Brighton). Balls in the back of the net are the only thing that count. If anybody has a point to prove it won’t be Chelsea. It will be Brentford.

 I can’t wait to discover which way this one will play out. Roll on, err 7.30pm. Bring it on and see you there.

In the meantime, please do take a look at the Brighton post match debrief and our current star player review. You can find that here. Thank you .   

Finally, and its a bit awkward talking about myself, I’ve been approached by so many supporters this season asking about these pages – namely the fact that they have all but gone to sleep – and the programme articles. Specifically asking why have they both stopped?

Being honest, I love talking and writing about Brentford. Likewise the enjoyment it seems to bring and the kinds words are always appreciated more than anybody could imagine. Equally though, life is just SO busy at the moment and there’s only so much one can blog about orange balls in the snow and the correct use of brackets after a 7(seven) goal trashing or berate Mrs Browns, boys, The England ‘supporters’ ‘band’, people drinking ‘espresso’ (it’s a blinkin’ S, not x), Star Wars Day etc etc etc 

Why? Why? Put them in a car park and let them sort it out rather than bother us

Mainly though, I don’t have the time and last season saw the blog, two programme articles and a piece for Hollywood Bets competing equally for time and attention. So the decision was made to cut back on these pages and focus on the Star player pieces, which are always good fun to write and have seen the two different columns slowly merging. We still may post the other stuff up here but it will be a lot, lot less for now.

As for the programme pieces, ask the club. I’ve no idea. Having done these for years and years for nothing more than enjoyment, there was no out reach from them over the summer. Dropped like Alvaro Fernandez reaching for a cross or simply the fact that we’re a Premier League club now who employ professionals rather than rely on the good intent of plucky amateurs and want a fresh approach? Who knows? It was fun whilst it lasted and very much an opportunity I’m grateful for. Thank you.

Good luck to the team there producing what is always a wonderful read. Tonight’s issue is no exception with the club using it to promote life saving CPR skills. We’ll have a heart-shaped ‘CPQR code’ on the over and our shirts – a gesture as wonderful as naming our training centre after Rob Rowan. Something that has been met with universal acclaim amongst the Bees faithful.

Yet or those wondering if I’m in it still then the answer is, sadly (as much given the circumstances) a no. Like I say, I hate talking about myself but given I’m currently being asked about this by lots of our fans, thought it best to save you the effort. That said, if anyone wants to talk Brentford then go for it. I’m the one in green jacket.

Nick Bruzon 

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Brentford v Brighton. Post match debrief and player ratings.

16 Oct

Last time out Brentford fans were left wondering if Friday night’s game with Brighton would see a reaction following the 5-1 reverse at Newcastle United. It was a question answered in some style as a rejigged team ran out 2-0 victors . With Chelsea next up on Wednesday night, can The Bees kick on or will our guests have payback in mind after our previous meeting?

View from the North Stand – Ivan walks up to the spot. Again…

For now, though, time to look back. On a night that ended with Brentford sitting eighth in the Premier League, who shone against a Brighton team which dominated the possession stats but not the score line? Have any of our bench players done sufficient to make the starting XI for the Chelsea game? Who was star player? Who else made the top five in the season long quest to find the top Bees’ performer? 

And as ever at this juncture, the answers can be found, here, in the post match debrief and player ratings feature…..

Newcastle United v Brentford. Post match debrief and player ratings.

10 Oct

A 5-1 reverse for Brentford at Newcastle United. Like last season, another six goals at St. James’ Park but this time around there was to be no even split. The Bees thumped in a game where the scoreline does nothing to illustrate just how baffling some of the defensive decisions were. With Brighton up on Friday night, surely a reaction is incoming….?

Whilst the final scores may look brutal on paper, did anyone emerge with any credit for Brentford? Who shone for The Bees against a Newcastle United team who made light work of continuing their climb up the Premier League table in some style. Have any of the bench players done sufficient to make the starting XI for our next game, Brighton at home? Who, or was there, a star player? Who else made the top five in the season long quest to find the top Bees’ performer? 

And as ever at this juncture, the answers can be found in the post match debrief and player ratings article, here…..

Who will fall apart? How hard might ‘the curse’ bite?

13 May

Come on already Sunday. Our trip to Everton cannot come soon enough with Brentford racing towards the end of the season and desperate to see what our final position may be. Not to mention who will be staying with us in the Premier League in 2022-23. A challenge for which both Leeds United and the Toffees were handed a huge boost when Mike Jackson of Burnley was named manager of the month for April. As if their next game wasn’t a tough enough challenge (Tottenham away), the Turf Moor outfit now have the added albatross of the MOTM curse hanging around their neck. We all know how that one goes – win the award ; lose the next game. Something enshrined in footballing folklore as the only greater harbinger of doom than a pre-match visit from ever popular BBC roving reporter Mark Clemmit.

We’ve covered that ground on these pages many times. Albeit worth recalling the quasi-scientific study undertaken in 2014-15 to try and put some meat on the bones of the claim that any club hosting Clem for a Football League Show feature would subsequently fail to win. A season long analysis followed which saw only 7(seven) victories for teams he visited. 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.

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

I don’t have the figures for Manager Of the Month. Thomas Frank and Brentford can count themselves truly unlucky not to have scooped the prize this time around. 10 points out of 12 including that epic win at Chelsea a sequence that, one would have thought, made him a shoe in.

There you go. I’m happy to see Burnley on fire if that run has put the cat amongst the relegation pigeons. Now Everton and Leeds United are both in the mix. Now, Brentford have a genuine say in who will stay n the Premier League with us next season. Even if Burnley have the added pressure of a game at a Tottenham side whose thumping of Arsenal last night means the race for the Champions League spots is anything but over.

And that’s four…. an April that began at Chelsea not quite enough to see Thomas to the monthly prize

This Sunday is going to be intense. The Burnley game is on BT Sport at 12pm although you’ll need to follow on the wireless / ‘other sources’ if you want to keep pace with Leeds United – Brighton. 

Then, at 4.30pm, Brentford are up on Sky. The Everton game pushed back to this horrific time at the 11th hour, after most fans had already made their  transport chaos inflicted plans, in order to help West Ham prepare for the Europa League final. That worked well. They’ll just have to go on reminiscing about 1966 and the 1980 FA Cup final when it comes to talk of silverware. Trevor Broking with a header, apparently. If only somebody had menti…. etc etc etc 

Brentford, meanwhile, are left with an even trickier job. 5/2 the price on an away win. At least Thomas doesn’t have the extra jinx factor to contend with. That curse is a problem for Mick Jackson although I for one , hope he can beat it in what is sure to be a thriller at Tottenham. Let’s not go too far down that pun stern road though.

Instead, the priority has to be in hoping Everton and Burnley do the least badly out of the three teams slugging it out to join Watford and Norwich City in the Championship. Victory for Brighton, Burnley and Brentford probably the best combination of results. 

If only football was that simple to call. That said, let’s not forget we ran the numbers through a super computer in early April. Despite the mockery that came with that prediction – in both the article and online – the suggestion that Norwich, Everton and Leeds would be the sides sent down is still looking as though 2 out of 3 may be called correctly. Albeit, hands need to be held about Watford’s chances. Truly, I (sorry, the computer algorithms) hadn’t factored just how genuinely abject they were.

Whether it is Everton or Leeds joining the Hornets and Norwich remains to be seen, of course. The next part of that plays out at the weekend and I cannot wait. 

Now, if Clem – who, to be fair, has seen very much a reversal of his anti-form in more recent seasons – could ensure he was set to ‘jinx mode’ and then go visit the Elland Road training ground first, that would be just marvellous.

Beesotted shared this yesterday. Any incentive needed…??

Until then, there’s the post-fact debrief from our last game – the 3-0 defeat of Southampton – for anybody who would to read more. Stranger things and all that…

Nick Bruzon

You’re going to reap just what you sow.

12 May

That’s it. Brentford are officially playing in the Premier League next season. Last night’s 3-0 trashing administered to Leeds United by Chelsea – a game which saw yet another red card for the Elland Road outfit – means the last of the clubs who can technically catch the Bees have spurned the opportunity. With Everton pulling further clear following their 0-0 at Watford, the contrasts between Thomas Frank and Jesse Marsch’s teams couldn’t be greater. 

Mind the f*&king gap indeed. Those final two games are going to be immense.

The table this morning

For Brentford, the top half of the table is still very much the target. Four points the difference between us and a Brighton team currently sitting 9th. To survive in the top flight is an achievement that has already surpassed the expectations of just about every critic and pundit prior to the season kicking off. Genuinely, as anyone who reads these pages will know, I’ve always been confident in our ability. In where we’ll end. In how we’ll go. Even in that patchy period during the winter when wining a game seemed as likely as yours truly being invited to sit in the director’s box. 

Instead, we were given yet another reminder that a season lasts 38 games. Not 7(seven) or 8. The David Raya / green jacket / Christian Eriksen inspired run (delete as applicable) that we’ve enjoyed in the last few months, perfectly supplementing that wonderful start which even saw Brentford go top of the Premier League table after our opening fixture. Fact.

The last few months have seen some key contributions

None of this should be underplayed. A squad of predominantly Championship players not only holding their own but even administering more than a fair share of bloody noses. Liverpool. Chelsea. Arsenal. West Ham (twice) amongst those having the rug pulled from under their feet when it wasn’t expected. The crowd playing their part, too, with Lionel Road and the travelling support seeing the roof more than raised game in, game out. Thomas Frank, staying a tactical step ahead of everyone as the season has moved towards a most exciting conclusion.

Now, there are two games left. We start at an Everton team who will be desperate for another three points to boost their own survival hopes. An Everton team who have rediscovered the path to victory in recent weeks after sliding down the table faster than the BBC viewing figures when Mrs. Brown’s Boys are drafted in to replace Match Of The Day on a snow day.

Every football fan’s worst nightmare

That won’t be easy. Of course Brentford want to win. Of course we are pushing for that top ten finish. Equally, if Thomas Frank wants to use the game to preserve some tired legs. To give a run out to those returning from injury. To perhaps blood a few of the B team then so be it. This is all about the longer term. About next Sunday. About ensuring the squad are in peak shape for the game with Leeds United…

For the simple reasons that we all want to finish the season as we started it. With a win. Should that win come and it have any additional consequences then all well and good. You reap what you sow and one game shouldn’t be seen as the defining point in a campaign. If it is the game that sees us in the right place at the right time then all the better for it.

Of course the combination of Burnley, who have a game in hand, and Neal Maupay may have already determined Leeds’ fate. Brighton are the next visitors to Elland Road. They’ll be looking for the win to lock up their own position in the upper half of the table. There’ll be as many eyes on that one as there are at Goodison Park.

Whatever happens, happens. Personally speaking I’m loving the fact that the Premier League battle has gone all the way. At both ends. Brentford are now in a situation where we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. By which I mean our own league position of course. Whatever happens to anybody else is of their own making. Oh, to be the ones swinging the axe though….

I can’t wait for any of this. See you there. And then in the Premier League next season, too.

Might Neal inflict a fatal blow this Sunday?

Nick Bruzon    

Video nice and video nasty suggest a special dish will be on the menu.

10 May

Another day, another vote. We wrote yesterday about the almost impossible choice facing anybody making their Brentford player of the year selection. Such have been the performances this season there are a genuine half-dozen candidates who could lay claim to the award. Now, with just Everton (a) and Leeds United (h) to go, we’re almost at the end of the line. There’s still a ton of excitement to come – and the resurfacing of ‘that’ video yesterday has only served to further stoke supporter intrigue in all things Elland Road (that’s the polite term) – with the hope paramount that we’re all channeling our inner Joy Division next Sunday. That is, assuming Neal Maupay and Brighton don’t get there first this weekend.

Could Neal do it, again

First up, the player of the year vote. For what its worth I’ve gone David Raya. There seems to be a lot of noise for Christian Norgaard too. Both magnificent candidates. As are all the other names on a shortlist where Rico Henry, Ivan Toney and Christian Eriksen seem to be amongst the other names of those leading the charge.

It really is a case where car keys in the bowl would be just as fair a mechanism for selecting the winner though. They’ve all been incredible and this is, without a doubt, the toughest vote ever. My thoughts on the runners and riders, to coin a phrase, are in yesterday’s piece – along with the Southampton post-match debrief and our own season long ‘top five’.

Then, on Monday, another vote dropped. Like standing at a bus stop you wait ages and then two come along at once. This time, the goal of the season.

What a choice this one is. A shortlist of 11 that is dominated by two players. The technical brilliance of Vitaly Janelt at Southampton. His pair agasint Chelsea also included. Then there’s Wissa. Liverpool. Aston Villa. Oldham in the cup. And, of course, that amazing moment against West Ham. Oh, the hairs on the back of my neck are tingling just thinking about that one. About just how incredible it was.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

Then there’s Sergi Canos. He scored our first top flight goal of the season. You know? That night we beat Arsenal and went top of the Premier League. Don’t @ me. The table doesn’t lie.

If Wissa was incredible for the timing and the celebration, this one was at home and that mass out pouring of joy. It wasn’t a bad finish either, with a personal celebration to match.

Sergi very much enjoys the moment…

The vote is live now. As with the POTY awards, all you need is a fan number and a surname to take part. Much as I was tempted by Ajer against Southampton or Saman up at Burnley, for me it is a straight fight between Sergi and Wissa at West Ham.

However, that’s me. Vitaly’s precision and technique are more than worthy of recognition – just which of the three ? Good luck sorting through all of this but at least it’s fun doing so. The video is below.

And talking of videos, a segue as subtle as the ‘jokes’ in Mrs. Brown’s Boys, if ever inspiration was needed for the Everton and Leeds United games (it isn’t) then we were given a helpful reminder from Elland Road yesterday. A helpful reminder that revenge is a dish best served cold. A reminder, that there could be something very special on the menu next Sunday.

We were all saving it. We were all keeping our powder dry. But we’ve all started sharing it. And Monday seemed to be ‘Mind the Gap’ reminder day. Sometimes, there is no real comment needed. No point waxing lyrical for pages. Just remember that even Leeds United ‘official’ shared it before hastily changing their minds….

I am sure that Thomas Frank and all those in an official capacity at Brentford will remain tight lipped in the build up to this one and maintain a stance of nothing more than looking to finish the season with a win. For Brentford fans, we all know what this would mean. Not just the video but the ongoing arrogance and entitlement since our days together in League One. Oh, Ben Strevens xx

A season that has given so much since Sergi got the ball rolling against Arsenal back in August looks like it is going to go all the way to the wire.

And I cannot wait. If its good enough for Ivan then its good enough for me….

Hmm. Love will tear us apart, anyone? A game that was already laced with anticipation looks like it might have cranked up a level or three.

In the meantime, the post match debrief from the Southampton game is now up and online. Should anybody need any further food for though in picking their POTY then this may provide the calm before the storm.

Nick Bruzon

New year, same Brentford. 2022 starts in style…

1 Jan

Well that’s been a busy start to 2022. Jools Holland hadn’t even started his Hootenanny and the signing pen had already been in action with incoming confirmed from Midtjylland confirmed. New year. Same Brentford. Hot off the heels of the Manchester City game we’ve a visit from Aston Villa. From Ezri Konsa. From Ollie Watkins. Subject to any 11th hour test results coming through, Sunday afternoon sees us host Stevie G ™ et al in a 2pm TV game. There’s ‘that’ video and even some fantastic news on the New Year Honours list.

First up, the obvious stuff. We have a new goalkeeper. With David Raya still suffering that long term injury, 32 year old Jonas Lössl has joined Brentford on loan from Midtjylland, with the option to make it a permanent deal further down the track. Providing some competitor between the sticks is an obvious move. Alvaro Fernandez has stepped in but with the recent scare that would have seen 18 yo Matthew Cox make a debut against Manchester United, had they not called Covid at the last moment, shows how exposed we may have been. With Thomas Frank also confirming the Spaniard had missed training recently, moving fast to give options makes 100% sense. I can only see Alvaro starting against Aston Villa on Sunday – frankly, it’ll be harsh on anyone to lose their place after running Manchester City so close – but after that who knows? Jonas has top flight experience with Huddersfield Town and has also been on Everton’s books, so it wouldn’t be a trip into the total unknown. Good luck Jonas and welcome.

Welcome Jonas. No messing around

The other person in evidence onto training ground was Josh Dasilva. This is about as huge as it comes. Our England U-21 has missed the entire season after playing such a pivotal part in Brentford reaching the Premier League. Whilst there’s no news as to when he might be back out in front of us, just to see him out and about. To see him running around. To see him chasing the ball . Well, its nothing but magnificent.

There aren’t the words to describe how much we’ve missed Josh. The imagination has been running riot at the thought of how much better we may have performed than we already have, had he been available. Whilst one man doesn’t make a team, there are those whom you know would have been nailed on starters had fitness allowed. Josh is at the top of that list for sure. Here’s hoping we see him soon.

He’s on the mend….!!!!!!!

The one player more likely to be back in action soon is Kris Ajer. Thomas Frank used the Villa press conference to confirm that the ball carrying centre back ”Hopefully can make the bench”….whilst on the other absences, “Rico Henry will be out, Bryan Mbeumo is touch and go, and Christian Norgaard is back from suspension. Vitaly Janelt could be on the borderline to be involved.

Again, this is fantastic news. Kris has made an immediate impression at Brentford. Not just in defence but in his ability to take the game to our opponents. Having him available alongside Ethan and Pontus is easily our top combination and comes just in time for the trips to Southampton and then Liverpool. Whether he will be able to break in to the stating XI by then remains to be seen but, personally speaking, if he’s fit and able then he starts. If we take Thomas at face value then presumably expect to see those legs being stretched on Sunday. With Vitaly also close, it could suddenly be a very impressive looking array of substitutes available.

In the shorter term. Dominic Thompson will be given anther chance to impress. The contrast between Brighton away and Manchester City home was about as vast as they come. Although, to be fair, you could say that about the entire team. However, for Dominic in particular the confidence and calmness with which he played against City was just stratospheric. Follow that up again and we could finally have the much needed competition / cover for Rico that was so sorely missed last campaign. Like Charlie Goode, Dominic is another of those slow burners to bide their time and look to take the chance when it has been presented. That Manchester City review is here. And the Brighton one here (for the masochistic amongst us).  

For the rest of the Aston Villa stuff, it’ll all be about Ollie Watkins. Cripes, we know what he did at Griffin Park. We know how close the team came to taking us up. His goals were legendary. His character about as engaging as it comes. Expect warm welcomes and fond returns all round on Sunday. Before and after the game, that is. During it, there’s no doubt everyone will have a point to prove about where Brentford have come since Ollie stepped up that level. Keep it classy. Keep it loud. All being well, we’ll keep him quiet. 

But just to be sure, I have picked both Ollie and Ezri Konsa for my Fantasy Football Team. The closest guarantee of nil points since the UK’s last entry to Eurovision. Honestly, I’m just horrific at player selection so have started the new year with a clean slate in the desperate attempt to overtake my eight year old son. However, on the assumption that normal service is resumed then lump the mortgage on a home win and everyone thank me afterwards.

Hopefully that should work

The other news to accompany Jools tinkling on his ivories was twofold. Firstly, ‘that’ video put out by official yesterday, looking back at the year gone by. It would be easy to forget just how much we’ve accomplished and whilst I won’t overly dwell on it here (did somebody say Aston Villa programme notes?) Let’s just say it got very dusty in here during the Bournemouth semi and when Ethan scored against Liverpool. Enjoy

And then we were given the chance to offer huge congratulations to Natalie O’Rourke who was awarded the MBE. To most of us, she’s Woody’s mum. To our family, somebody who sits a few rows in front and is always up for a chat about anything and everything Brentford. Yet her ongoing dedication to saving the beloved Park Lane Stables riding for the disabled centre has seen this so very well deserved accolade awarded. Huge, huge congratulations Natalie. What a way to start the year 🙂

Like the 2021 highlights video, this was another story that has seen massive smiles on faces after some truly good news. Given how awful the year was at times, great to see so many nice things coming out of it at the end.

And you can read all about that, in full, here.

Until then, simply a case of hoping the hangovers aren’t kicking in too much. Being glad we have another 365 days until Jools or Olly Alexander trouble us again. Most importantly, wishing everyone the best for 2022.

Starting against Aston Villa on Sunday. See you there!! 

Nick Bruzon

Paging Les and Gabriel. The amazing connection that goes from Brentford to Manchester City via Preston.

29 Dec

We would appear to be ‘game on’. Brentford host Manchester City this evening, both squads with at least the mandatory minimum of 13 outfield players seemingly available. No last minute crisis riding in to scupper the match as Newcastle United have just succumbed to. No rash of symptoms that were unable to be confirmed given the closure of the test centre – oh Bristol City, has it been a year already? Thoughts and prayers. Instead, we’re all off to Lionel Road to see if the improbable (16/1 is the price on a Brentford win at the time of writing) can become possible. Yet also, we finally get to square a circle that goes from Brentford to City via Preston North End (twice).

Nick Leeson. Martin Lewis (as unlikely a combo as one could imagine). Liam and Noel. Your boys are expected to give one hell of a beating. Manchester City being the only opponents in the division to give genuine concern pre-season and a team that have won their last three away games against promoted sides by an aggregate scoreline of 11-1.

The other 18, on a good day, you’d fancy Brentford could do something. Sure enough, we’ve all been here for the games with the big guns and household names. Liverpool. Chelsea. Arsenal. Everton. All have seen points taken or top drawer performances. Now we are at the next level. It is equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. We deserve to be where we are on merit. Now comes the time to test ourselves against the very best.

We’ve already spoken about the challenge of this one and looked back at the Brighton player performance. We already know the relative strength of the squads. There’s nothing further to be gained from overly diving in there. Nothing new that can be said. Instead, we’re now at the point where all that can be done is enjoy the moment of another night game. Of a nothing to lose scenario where that magic feeling of Brentford under the lights can take hold. Sure, we can reminisce about Gary Blissett. About Uwe. About Robert Taylor. Nice though it is, and it is, this all comes down now to what happens when it all kicks off at the somewhat unusual time of 8.15. That’s unbelievable, Jeff (Bezos).

Uwe’s ‘last hurrah’

For me, Clive, mention the name Manchester City and the memory goes off in a different direction to a different couple of names. Neither linked to the Gallaghers or finance. Instead, there’s Jim – who I met through / prior to the arrival of our Harry at NCT class nine years ago. Cripes, that’s flown.  

As staunch and longstanding as they come. Home and away. Season on season. Despite now living in West London, he’s always at pains to point out he’s not a bandwagon jumping fan. As, to be fair, seems to be the case with the vast majority where even in the third tier of English football in the late 90s, support remained huge. His take on the game is both good and bad, for Brentford fans: “You might get a heavily rotated squad as we play arsenal 2 days later. That being said, we’re pretty slick at the moment.”

Then there’s Gabriel Valentine. The chances of whose seeing this are slim to zero. However, back in the 89-90 season, yours truly took his first footsteps into the wide world of work (before promptly stepping away again). There was Mr. Valentine, another displaced City fan whom, along with the rest of the firm I was working for, was eventually worn down with all this talk of Brentford, Brentford, Brentford and came to Griffin Park for a game.

That was March 1990 and the moment of Ashley Bayes making his debut against Preston North End. I can still see it now. Funnily enough, they never came back.

“Dreadful mistake / That stupid goal” – not my words, Susan

Yet prior to this, we’d already been tied together on a footballing journey that lasted less than a week but, for a brief moment, could have seen life heading in a very different direction. Flushed with youthful naivety / blind-optimism, The Bruzon-Valentine partnership took the bold step towards managing a professional football club.

Why not? Preston North End were struggling and had just dispensed with the services of John McGrath. We were 18(ish, in his case) with spare time on our hands.

This was back before it became the popular thing to do based on one’s experience playing Football Manager (the nearest we had back then was the ZX Spectrum equivalent on cassette).

How could anyone fail with a Spectrum squad this strong?

Amazingly, our letter received a reply from chairman Keith Leeming. As did our phone call to Saint and Greavsie who then politely declined our offer to appear on the show. Their loss. The dream was still alive. This was it. The moment was set. And then Preston went for former player Les Chapman. Fair enough, I’d have done the same.

Where we now go full circle is that this is the same Les Chapman who would eventually become Manchester City kit man for 17 (seventeen) years before moving into their media department. Pretty much the dream career path: player, manager, kit guru, media.

Whilst Gabriel won’t be reading or present today, Les may well be at Lionel Road. If he somehow stumbles across this (and let’s be realistic here…) then imagine how life may have turned out had Keith Leeming decided to take a reckless punt on a pair of untried youngsters. Again, let’s be realistic, but one has to dream.

However, who knows what, if any, impact the mere presence of our names may have had on that longer term decision making process? Could we have tipped the dice in Les Chapman’s favour?

It’s a funny old game. As Saint and Greavsie didn’t say to us. Yet the excitement felt when that hand-typed and signed postcard appeared on the doormat is still up there as a moment when life was wide open. When anything, no matter how improbable, felt possible……. 😉

Bring it on. See you there

Keith never did write back to us…

Nick Bruzon

Who were the top five performers last time out?

28 Dec

Next up for Brentford (that is, what’s left of the squad) a visit from Manchester City. We’ll get there very shortly. First up, as ever, last knockings from the 2-0 defeat at Brighton. It’s the regular player review feature. Our ongoing quest to see, game by game, who were the top five performers aswell as who is on contention to be come our season-long overall winner.

Has anyone from the Brentford squad played their way into contention for the visit of Manchester City? Should any player be stripped of their place, regardless of current levels of squad depth? Do we have a prayer on Wednesday? Could we pull off the greatest upset since records bagged (31/2 is the current price)?

Those Brentford player ratings are here…. I’d say enjoy, but…

Nick Bruzon

Do this again and the next game will be brutal. The next game will be brackets.

27 Dec

Is there a way to dress that up? Can Brentford take any consolation in the no show at Brighton (sadly, we don’t mean the home fans). What next for the visit of Manchester City on Wednesday evening? With Pep Guardiola’s team bracketing Leeds United the other week and then falling one short of the magical 7(seven) against Leicester City themselves, that one has all the potential to be a turkey shoot if the Bees don’t find whatever was missing at the Amex. Starting a game without Vitaly Janely (covid) and Rico Henry (hamstring) was always going to be tough. Moreso, given the longer term injuries felt by David Raya and Kris Ajer. Yet, yet, yet surely we could have offered something, anything, more than a first half so laid back as to be practically horizontal. Beautifully taken first-half goals by Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay (of course, although kudos to the man for his own reaction and post-match comments) were the least Brighton deserved but by the time Brentford got their arse into gear, it was too little too late.

Neal. Class, as ever

There are no words to really describe how frustrating this one was. Bryan Mbeumo limped off with little more than a half hour gone whilst Matthias Jensen was pulled off with the tea cups still being thrown around the dressing room at half-time. The makeshift defence having twice held open the door for Brighton to seize the initiative and put this one beyond reached after the initial threat that Brentford had been hinting at disappeared into the ether. By the time we rediscovered our mojo in the second half, the game had already been put to bed. Robert Sánchez in goal for the Seagulls preserving their dignity when Baptiste and Pinnock got the ball goalwards.

Having now caught up on the highlights, it feels even more deflating than seeing it at the time.

The legs, as much as the door, held open for the second goal

Perhaps we have been spoiled this season. Perhaps it is as much the fact that, at times, we’ve made the step up to the Premier League look easy. Perhaps games like this – whether outclassed or just not showing up – were always going to happen. Likewise, there is the dreaded Covid factor to factor in. An added element of pot luck to chuck into the mix of trying to prepare for big games with key names already absent. 

I’m certainly not in the doom and gloom camp – anything but. Prior to this we’d had two wins, two draws and a solitary defeat in our previous five league games. It could, probably, should have been three wins but for the 95th moment up at Leeds United. The only performance of real concern being that one at Spurs. This ranked alongside it. Alongside Burnley away. Signs as much has anything else that the Premier League is just so, so tough. Play slightly below your best and watch that gulf in class unfold into a gaping chasm.

We don’t generally do match reports on these pages. Not huge ones, anyway. Besides, we’ve all seen the game – whether at the Amex of c/o our friends at Sky. Thanks a bunch, again. Instead of regurgitating what we all know (albeit the player feature will be up later) , it is as much about where we go from here. Manchester City, Aston Villa and Liverpool (a) are next up in the league. Assuming, of course, Covid doesn’t do its thing in either camp. They’re going to be as tough a set if fixtures as they come. One could almost argue they are games with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Moreso given we know that Christian Norgaard will also be on the casualty list for the City game, given his (soft) yellow card now takes him to five and a mandatory one game ban. 

Certainly, there’s a chance for a midfield bereft of him and Vitaly to either crank it up a notch or be brutally exposed. Given the current popularity and wayward form of his Danish international team mate, one can guess which way supporter feeling will be leaning. 

The pace of Rico Henry was another crucial dimension to our game missing last night. Here’s hoping his stint on the sidelines is as short as possible albeit hamstring injuries don’t, as a rule, cure themselves overnight. On the plus side, Shandon Baptiste is really adjusting to this level well and looking more and more exciting with each game. Had Sanchez not been equal to his effort early in the second half we could well have been sitting here in a different frame of mind today. But we aren’t. That’s not how football works.

So close – Brentford ‘official’ capture the moment on their Twitter feed

Crying over being below par won’t help us recover. It certainly won’t help us against Manchester City on Wednesday. Just about the toughest job in football – stopping pep Guardiola – will only become ten times harder if we aren’t all fully on it.

So, yes, it was a terrible performance. No question. It shouldn’t take that long to get out of first gear – at any level. But it is the Premier league and the game is now over. We put it to bed, file it under b and move on.

Here’s to Wednesday. Here’s to some good news on the health front. Here’s to Manchester City. Here’s to emulating one of my all time favourite football moments. Perhaps…… See you there.

The quintessential Brentford FA Cup image

Nick Bruzon