Tag Archives: Burnley

Can we be party poopers at the coronation of King Eddie?

19 Nov

And we’re back in the room. Brentford travel to Newcastle United this weekend on the back of a first real challenging streak in the Premier League. Recent form of LLLL takes no account of the performance against Chelsea or the shonky ref. Likewise Leicester City, where I’d imagine the midfield partnership of James Maddison and Simon Hooper will cause further mayhem for whomever they come up against next. As for Burnley and Norwich City. Hmmm . The Canaries will no doubt feel they deserved to win and three points will show this to be the case. The appointment of Dean Smith at Carrow Road something one could write an entire chapter on but that’s a subject for elsewhere. So we’ve been great, we’ve been unlucky and we’ve been downright awful. Injuries decimating us, too. Whatever the analysis and performance, it all comes down to wins. Or lack of. The net result is nil points and the hope that International break has helped recharge some batteries.

one of the few bright sparks recently

Which leads into Saturday afternoon. The game at Newcastle United is a sellout for the travelling fans. Presumably the home side, too, with Eddie Howe taking another opportunity to test himself away from Bournemouth. Things were average at Burnley (8th and 13th in the Championship) with his eventual departure for what were deemed at the time to be personal reasons and since confirmed as being due to the death of his mother rather than anything to do with being ‘homesick’ . That one’s here.

It’ll be manic at Newcastle. Their first home game under the new regime saw the lead taken against Spurs within three minutes before normal form resumed. Cripes, Spurs winning a game is reason enough to be worried about your own form but with the Magpies being the only top flight team yet to win a game, will the new incumbent have done sufficient in this relatively short time to change that around? 

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank gave a, perhaps, surprising assessment of the opposition in Thursday’s press conference. He’s told the massed ranks of the journalistic corps that: “We haven’t looked that much at Newcastle, apart from individual players, but rather what Eddie Howe did at Bournemouth in terms of shape and style. I expect them to come flying out, pressing us…. His profile is fantastic and stands for progressive football, front-footed pressing, and he wants to be dominant on the ball. I admired his job at Bournemouth a lot. I’m convinced that, over time, he will be a success at Newcastle

Over time. Let’s hope for sure it’s not immediate. Perhaps of more interst is his claim that we are not studying our opponents. One can only presume a bluff from Thomas that, surely, isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. Not even a cursory glance? Mind games and false messaging or just supreme confidence in our own ability, our own shape and our own players? Whatever that shape is and whomever they may be this time around.

With injuries continuing to bite there is some good news. Mathias Jensen is back from Denmark, has completed his quarantine following that Covid test result and so has been in training. Will he start or have recent performances now been deemed sufficient that a place on the bench is the best he can hope for? The availability of the broader midfield will determine that as much as anything else. Norgaard and Janelt nailed on starters for 2 of the 3 berths, even if the latter was below his best against Norwich. I felt.

Zanka will be assessed and Wissa is getting closer with Thomas due to decide today (Friday) if he is able to play some part. Likewise Shandon Baptiste who is deemed in contention to be in the squad. Kris Ajer and David Raya remain the key absences with the former due a scan at the end of the month to see how he is placed going forward.

For me, Clive, its as much as getting through this one unscathed. Obviously we want the win and there is still sufficient in the starting XI to beat just about anyone on our day. Yet with those much missed players starting to get close to a return, let’s not scupper this with any rushed return or further injury blow. Our luck on this front has been bad enough already. I’m amazed that Shandon Baptiste is where he is already after that dislocated shoulder but there you go. Hurrah for medical treatment. Yet with the busiest time in the calendar fast approaching, including that league cup quarter-final with Chelsea, keeping the squad fit is as crucial as picking up the points.

The atmosphere on Saturday is going to be nuts. All the focus on Newcastle United. Brentford nothing more than the bit part players at the coronation of King Eddie. The chance to be party poopers always a wonderful one.

I’ve no idea what any of Thomas’ talk means. Nobody will reveal their cards in public, that’s for sure. All we can say is that after the frustration of Burnley and Norwich, this is the perfect time for us to get back in the groove. Let’s hope we take it.

Bring it on and see you there.

Hopefully he won’t be smiling at full time

Nick Bruzon

One man’s balls are another’s bolas. Time to get back on the horse.

6 Nov

Move along, nothing to see here.” A comment taken from the opening line in yours truly’s programme notes for today’s game, following last week’s result at Burnley ( In the interest of keeping these pages a true catalogue of the campaign, a 3-1 reverse for Brentford). For reasons that primarily involve mental overload, there’s been a week or so’s break from penning any of this nonsense. But with the visit of Norwich City imminent, now is the time to pick up the keyboard once more. There’s news of a brand new feature to run in tandem with these pages whilst, on a personal note, today offers the chance of a quite unique way to watch (and potentially get involved in) the game.

Norwich City. Cripes. Where are they this season? Come on. Based on current form they don’t so much need a 12th man as a 13th and 14th. The stats speak for themselves with last year’s all-conquering form nothing more than a beautiful memory. Nothing more than a name etched into a Championship winner’s trophy. Played 10. Lost 8. Drawn 2. Goals scored 3. Goal difference -22. Mark Lawrenson’s pre-match prediction on the BBC includes the quite soul-destroying observation that,  “After 10 games of the season, Daniel Farke’s side just have that pallor of relegation about them.” Their problems further compounded by the absence of captain Grant Hanley this afternoon.

Where are you? etc etc . Best. Football thing. Ever.

Let’s be clear. I take no pleasure from this. As has been documented many times, we’ve a lot of love for Norwich City in our house. A club whose approach and welcoming arms are very much like Brentford in so many respects. Equally though, games of football are there to be won and this one presents the best opportunity one could ask for to get back up amongst that pack of teams chasing Europa League places. A phrase which, for the record, whilst statistically true is still one which reminds me of the beer infused afterglow with which we are enjoying our football this season. That three pint feeling of numbed bonhomie. Everything is awesome. Crazy times. Exciting games. A dream that keeps on giving for a team who are, mostly, indestructible. Burnley aside. Even the there game blip of LLL involved double dubious refs (Chelsea and Leicester City) aswell as a top, top ‘keeper in inspired form when the European Champions came to visit.

So yes, everybody will be expecting a win today. That includes me. Aside from some payback for last season (what foul on Bryan in the box?) form alone suggests there will never be a better chance to get back on the winning horse. All being well, Vitaly Janelt will start this one after coming off the bench at Burnley. Wow – hasn’t he been missed? Likewise, a return for Bryan Mbeumo has been strongly hinted at. For Kris Ajer, the prognosis remains a longer term one but having these two back will be huge boost. Moreso, if Yoane Wissa and Shandon Baptiste join them in the category marked ‘available for selection’. Whilst today may well be a game too soon, with international break next up the trip to Newcastle United could well see that later pair back in contention too.

As ever, Thomas Frank would speak about our opponents in respectful terms, urging caution if anyone is expecting to just turn up and take three points. He used his press conference to talk about the difficulty in opening up a five man defence, adding “I understand the expectation from everyone outside is that we will win. The reality is that the level between the two teams is so tight and it is all about the day. Every game in this league is going to be unbelievably difficult”.

As ever, the fans have their part to play. The atmosphere at Lionel Road has been immense this campaign. “Hell on Earth”, as Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell described the intensity. Also, and being honest, a little muted at times. Relatively speaking. Brighton and Leicester City in particular where tails dropped and there was as much focus on pantomime villain James Maddison as anything else. It was a point also picked up on by Thomas. Not to criticise but as much to emphasise the difference that keeping it loud makes:  

We have a big task ahead of us but I also think our fans have a big task. If we want to make this a fortress, and a hostile environment, it needs to be every single game. It can’t only be the nice performances against the big clubs”.

Will we win today? I think so. Will it be easy? No. If nothing else, there’s change everywhere and we know what that does to all of us who get sucked in by jinxes and keeping things consistent. For a start, there’s new a ball in the offing. The Premier League winter edition is now available for use. Whilst longer terms readers will be aware of our love for the traditional ‘orange’ variant (come on snow clouds, do your thing), one can’t deny that this one is eye catching. Nike’s one-of-a-kind design taking inspiration from the world of comic books. Apparently. Whatever the blurb, it feels as far away from the all time best balls ever (aside from 007’s bolas) the 1978 Adidas Tango and The Mitre Ultramax as it is possible to imagine. Yet, yet, yet…. it is so different it’s incredible. Let’s hope our play on the pitch is a stylish as the red, yellow and blue effort.

A new contender…..?

On a personal note, huge thanks to our Harry and the Community Sports trust. Earlier in the year, our commentator par excellence Mark Burridge hosted a Juniors Bees commentary workshop via Zoom. Remember when that was our only way to interact during one of the various lockdowns? It was a wonderfully engaging session and a great way to capture the imagination of our younger fans, who were afterwards invited to submit their own commentary efforts. All well and good, but things cranked up a notch when we received a phone call recently to say that two of the participants had been selected to spend an afternoon in the company of the commentary team, on the gantry, for their efforts in the respective age groups. And our H had scooped the junior section.   

Needless to say, excitement is in the air. With a responsible adult needing to accompany the respective kids, that role reluctantly falls to myself. Less responsible and more available. So rather than sitting in the North Stand, for one game only it will be alongside Mark, Karleigh and team looking out on all around from what is rumoured to be the best view in the house. Will changing seats make the same difference as changing ends before kick off? It’s a risk we’re willing to take and you can read more on Brentford official, here…

And finally, we don’t do match reports on these pages. Not in depth, anyway. There isn’t the time for that level of in depth analysis. On the flip side, there is a new column which will be running alongside this one in conjunction with our principal partner, Hollywood Bets. It’s different to what we normally do (albeit, will have the same level of typos and other nonsense) and is a first dip of the toe into a more analytical role. We’re not talking Phil, Rasmus and Matthew Benham’s super-computer levels of observation but a more traditional  fans’ take on ‘Player ratings’ after every game.

You can find the story of the season so far here and then there’ll be an updated version published after each Premier league game. Feel free to @ me when my take on who has done well is invariably different to everybody else’s. At the end of the day, Clive, it’s not an exact science. One man’s balls are another’s bolas.  

Balls, Q? Bolas, 007

Will injury blow impact title chances?

27 Oct

After Iheanacho lifts over, Pérez collides with Raya while trying to latch onto Tielemans’ pass – both are fine to continue as play resumes. Not my words, the words of official Leicester City Twitter on Sunday afternoon at 3.46pm. Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon.  After a few days of tests and scans with the medical department, I’m gutted to say that I’ve damaged my Posterior Cruciate Ligament in my left knee on Sunday. Not my words, the words of Brentford goalkeeper David Raya as it was announced he will miss the next four to five months recovering from the injury sustained in the collision with Ayoze Pérez. All of which means preparation form tonight’s game with Stoke City along with the Premier league clashes with Burnley, Norwich City and way beyond are now back to the drawing board. Huesca loanee Álvaro Fernández  will be handed the gloves with the Bees now minus our inspirational shot stopper. 

Bad news from social media

Urghh. Something had seemed odd during the game when Raya hadn’t run up to cause havoc in the Leicester box late on. The award of a corner kick deep into the 7(seven) minutes of injury time was met with exhortations from the crowd for the Brentford ‘keeper to push up and cause mayhem in the opposition box. Instead, we got a rather tepid limp forward and a holding position maintained well inside his own half.

The irony being this moment occurred during time added on to make up for all the ‘treatment’ required by our visitors during the regulation ninety. Supporters infuriated by opponents, and I’ll be generous here, making the most of every moment they went to ground. Collapsing like industrial chimneys after the plunger had been, err, plunged.

Plunge the plunger…..

Cripes. Even Harry had said to me at full time. “Dad. Do you know who men of the match should be?”   Err, ‘men’? I questioned.  He continued, “The Leicester physios”. Well said that boy. Well said.

The regularity with which they collapsed to the floor before making a full recovery had not gone unobserverd by H, us, the entire North stand and fourth official who would eventually hold up the board. My word, It was almost as though it had been a preordained tactic.

Channel your inner Fred Dibnah. Get the lead and go to ground. Run down the clock. Grind it out.

Channelling their inner ‘Fred’ was a success for Leicester

Nobody is suggesting there was any particular malice from Perez, btw. At the time it had seemed like another brave save from Raya. Watching back the highlights on Match of the Day, it didn’t even warrant a viewing. Indeed the most distasteful element aside from the pronunciation of Boo-moo (one to file alongside Canyos) was the celebration from James Maddison for what transpired to be his winning goal.

We’d given him stick all game, and understandably given his own combination of cosying up to the ref whilst playing in bowling shoes, so one can hardly blame him for milking the moment.

I want to be the villain,” he said at full time. “It makes it all the sweeter when I score up that end.”  If nothing else, it makes our rematch on 19th March all the more intriguing. 

Giving it back to the West Stand

Hey, you never know. By that point David may be fit again. Fingers crossed the anti-gravity treadmill does it’s thing. We have the consolation in the fact that no surgery is required. Brentford head of medical Neil Greig confirming that this sort of injury ”Usually heals well without the need for surgery. David has already begun using a brace specifically designed to aid this process.”  You can read that one in full on ‘official’.

Until that point, its a case of best wishes to David off the field and the same to Álvaro Fernández on it. The reserve ‘keeper, on loan from Huesca, now has a chance to establish himself in the battle for the gloves. Whilst nobody would want to get their chance in this fashion, it’s how football goes. The Olympic silver medalist already has a full international cap to his name and so hardly as though we are chucking Don Incognito into the mix. He will no doubt be desperate to hit the ground running and propel Brentford back into the race for the Champion’s League places. Or beyond…. Had The Bees got the decisive goal on Sunday, we’d be waking up this morning placed fifth in the Premier League. Such fine margins in a race which still has a long way to run.

If nothing else, the Directors of Football seem to have got this ‘talent spotting’ thing sorted out just fine. Whilst of course I’m desperately sad to lose David, and for such a long period of a season in which he was making an even bigger name for himself than already, at least there is comfort to be taken in the cover. What this means for the Stoke City game this evening, where he was sure to feature, remains to be seen. Roll on 6.45pm and the team announcements for that news. I can’t imagine Thomas will risk him with his first choice league ‘keeper now MIA.

Then we’re on to Burnley. To Norwich City. To Newcastle United and a long run of games in which David will need to join the rest of us on the sidelines. Looking on and cheering. A run of games where we play some of the biggest names and sternest tests in English football. So just like the season to date then. 

There’s not much else to say at this point. The injury has been confirmed and we can’t dress it up any. A top class player is out. A replacement with all the potential is in. Bring on Saturday afternoon when we see just what Álvaro can do. Until then, it’s a case of knowing that the entire Brentford family is behind David, thinking of him and hoping for a speedy recovery.

David Raya is a Bee.

Nick Bruzon

What’s brewing at Birmingham for Brentford? Will Bees’ keeper get stung on the Arse(nal)?

12 Sep

Brentford head to Birmingham City this lunchtime for a Championship opener sure to be overshadowed by transfer speculation. Number 26’s move back down South from Burnley to West Ham (they’re actually going to pay for somebody?) sure to reap us a healthy windfall should it happen. Elsewhere, the talk around David Raya to Arsenal shows no sign of abating, with his agent stoking the flames on that one. I don’t, now, expect him to play today with the answer to that one hidden in plain sight on Brentford ‘official’.

If yesterday morning’s piece was lacking the usual buzz about the season to come then the prospect of having a match today is making things feel slightly better. An early kick off on Sky sure to set the pulse raising when things get back under way in Birmingham at 12.30. 

Who starts for Brentford remains to be seen, of course.

David Raya  / Luke Daniels between the sticks is the big question. The answer is Luke Daniels. I call that specifically based on the match preview published yesterday by ‘official’. It notes that “Mads Roerslev will be absent due to a foot injury while David Raya has missed the last three matches with a knock”. Before also adding that “There are no tanks”. Possibly.

There you go. Forget the rumours – its injury. Having not played in weeks, and so presumably off the pre-season pace given this health related update, I’d be amazed if it is anyone but Luke Daniels who starts today. The club have made it quite clear they have no desire or need to sell Raya. His recent absence has been down to nothing more than a knock. Honestly! Who could think otherwise?

Look, I don’t know what’s actually going on here. Who does? Phil and Rasmus aside. Arsenal are involved in quite public dealings with Aston Villa to sell goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. Dean Smith being able to wield the chequebook is like watching a kid at Christmas. The smile on his face when Ollie Watkins walked in to the room was infectious. In a nice way. Will he get a new ‘keeper and thus add more smoke to the Raya rumours? Or will the club hold firm and show him that the Premier League, with Brentford, is the future. Oh to be a fly on the wall at Benham towers these days.

Whatever happens, happens. We don’t need or want to sell. If we do then it will be on our terms. Common sense dictates that Luke Daniels is our lunchtime starter and then we go from there. Wait for Raya to recover and then see if he is a Bee or a bookworm (because they play in a libra.. oh, why do I bother?). 

David Raya – still a Bee. For now.

On the plus side, all this has distracted from Benrahma talk. Nobody has mentioned his name for a good week or so. Move along. Nothing to see here. Again, I can’t see him starting against Birmingham or being involved in any capacity but we’ve more than enough in the squad to do the business today.

Hand on heart, I’m calling this as ‘away win’. There’s too much talent and too many memories of how last season played out to do anything less than looking to start at 100 mph. The BMW may have lost some constituent parts but it will still be pedal to the medal for our, ermm, MTC. That one needs a little work.

New season – different model rolling off the forecourt

The other transfer story doing there roads (Josh Clarke to Wigan aside) is the alleged move of number 26 to West Ham. We all know the terrible personal circumstances that led to him refusing to play against Burnley before suddenly signing for them. That’s happened and we can’t change it. Only remember. What is it with our ex-centre backs and their dealings with the press? Something something something ten times better…. 

But the plus side to this is, of course, the windfall we’ll receive should it go through. Whilst, personally, I take the majority of football rumours with a huge pinch of salt, the prospect of multi-millions was enough bait to make me click. Lancslive are clapping it could be as much as £8.5million to the Bees, given any sale  needs to factor in what they describe as a whopping “27.5 per cent sell-on fee to Brentford of any profit on the £3.5m the Clarets paid the Bees for the 27-year-old’s services in 2016. That means that should Tarkowski depart for £35m then Brentford could pocket more than £8.5m, cutting the Clarets profit to around £26.5m.” You can read the full piece here if you want.

Rasmus models his new look

Again, I’ve no idea how true any of this is / isn’t. The only thing we can say for certain is that Brentford are masters of the transfer market. Buy them cheap, sell them high, take a cut on anything in the future. It’s more than plausible we’re in line for further financial reward and, if so, reduces the need to make any hurried sales ourselves. In theory. Arsenal may need to add an extra nought on to their offer.

Still. All that’s to come. For now, it’s a case of Brentford v Birmingham City. Of taking your place on the couch. Chosing a lucky shirt and cracking open the goal sweets. And the beers. See you at lunchtime on social media and in front of the TV. 

And finally… e-book, season review etc etc. If you’d like to read more then you can still pick up 2019-20 for free, here. Time is ticking on this one so move fast before Amazon stick a price back on them (at which point any proceeds received go to the Community Sports Trust). From Birmingham City to Ollie Watkins and beyond….

Enjoy

New season – new lucky shirt

Nick Bruzon

What a weekend awaits. Sofa Saturday and a Super Sunday.

28 Dec

A rare Saturday without football for Brentford. Our time comes tomorrow with the trip to Millwall and the chance to see if we can build on the Boxing Day tonking of Swansea that saw the Bees end the day in third place. Instead, there’s the rare opportunity for the Premier League to take centre stage this afternoon. It is one that should be grabbed, lest we forget about the people who actually invented our beloved sport back in the early 90s. More importantly, it’s a reminder that The Last Word Fantasy Football competition is still running. Suddenly, the 3-2 kicking administer by Wolves to Manchester City last night becomes of crucial importance. There’s more than just the comedy factor of watching Manchester United hit self-destruct (again – think of them as a top flight Leeds United) in the evening game at Burnley. And who doesn’t love seeing Neal Maupay do his thing? Fingers crossed for a Brighton penalty kick today!!

Neal Maupay Leeds

Come on Neal. More of this would be lovely ( I need the points)

So what have we learned so far? Well, yours truly really is the numpty on the terrace. Ranked 52 out of 66 – and that’s by actually trying to compete. Why bother? Honestly, setting the team to random mode would have more success. I’m that tempted to go there for the second half of the season, just to try and prove a point.

On the plus side, it does mean I can’t win my own competition – as if that was ever even a possibility. For those still curious / playing, the current top ten is below. Ben Shephard is at the top (anyone? Presumably not the host of daytime TV’s  Tipping Point ?)  and then supporter Simon Burns is coming in second. This is taken post Wolves but pre Brighton, so this could all move around once the rest of the games play out.

Screenshot 2019-12-28 at 07.07.47

Current standings

In all seriousness though, the thought of a lazy day is something I’m quite looking forward to. Some calm before tomorrow’s storm. Harry’s football club is closed, for once, and Brentford go to Millwall on Sunday. Mrs Bruzon is out with her parents so there’s nothing more to do today than watch Neal banging them in for Brighton at lunch, fall asleep on the couch in front of Jeff Stelling in the afternoon and then pay a passing homage to events at Turf Moor.

Not that I’ve got anybody from either side in my Fantasy team. Not even number 26. Although given the aforementioned inability to pick winners, his absence from my line up is one that should be considered a de facto guarantee to lump it on. He’s 14/1 to score (for Burnley) at any time, although those odds don’t seem to factor in any potential family related absence so invest at your own risk.

And then it all goes again tomorrow. Brentford make the short trip across London to the Lion’s Den where the pressure on the team will be immense. From the top of the club to the very bottom we all know what is at stake. From Matthew Benham through Thomas Frank, the players and the fans. Everybody is fully aware what will be the consequences of anything not going to plan….

Concede and we’ll be subject to ‘that’ toe-curling song. If Mrs. Browns Boys teamed up with Dick Van Dyke to do goal music. Whilst wearing Ali-Baba slippers.

Millwall wide (1)

We’ve been there before…

Forget the ‘no-one likes us’ stuff. Good luck if it makes them happy. Besides, I can relate to this. In part. It’s as much a part of the Millwall legacy as our own being called a tinpot / little / pub / bus stop team Albeit, theirs is self-created (why is that now?) whilst we always look to answer our critics on the pitch.   

But that song. Urghh. Take a look at yourselves. And I apologies for mentioning it every season but it’s godawful shite. F*ck me, I’d be more embarrassed than Madonna on a staircase if that was my club. And we should know about cringe, given the awfulness of #trophyfriends. Never forget.  

Just about forgivable as ‘walk out’ fodder, it’s only a Pearly queen short of a full house in cliche bingo. But the true horror being that it then doubles up as goal music. Something we all know shouldn’t be allowed in football stadia – see also: ball boys waving giant flags, fans with drums, Mr. Portsmouth and his bell, Mexican Waves and the England supporters band. Basically, anything needed to try and generate an atmosphere.

For crying out loud, if you can’t get turned on by the ball hitting the back of the net then there’s something seriously wrong. If things are so flaccid that you need Roy Green singing about jellied eels to give you a boost of footballing viagra then perhaps it’s time to just give up and call it a day.

Portsmouth bell

The Millwall song. Currently residing alongside Mr. Portsmouth and Mexican waves.

We digress. The point being that Brentford have it all to do if we are to maintain third place and, maybe, further close the gap on Leeds United. That’s a big ask, of course. Much as they have that wonderful ability to hit self-destruct, and their current record reads DLD, not even they can cock up a trip to Birmingham City. Harlee Dean and his Blues are simply too poor at present. Whilst Boxing Day saw just about everybody at the business end of the table do us a favour, this time we’re on our own.  We have to win to progress. We have to keep a clean sheet to spare the supporters.

Frankly, I can’t wait for this one. I expect everybody around us to get maximum points on Sunday . Even Fulham, who are home to Stoke City. So the onus has to be on us to go for it. And we will. This team only knows one way to play. Attack. Score. Win.  Our goal difference speaks for itself. Our defensive solidity is renowned. Our fans loud. The atmosphere magnificent.

It won’t be easy. Bums might even squeak for a bit. But it has the potential to round off 2019 in quite wonderful style. If you are still thinking about going, then what’s to decide? Get off the couch and get going. It’s a Sofa Saturday followed by a Super Sunday.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Could Barnet serve up the final potato skin of a stunning fourth round?

28 Jan

Arsenal : out. West Ham : out. Everton : out. Tottenham : out. Wolves and Middlesbrough just about hanging in there. A weekend which has seen all manner of upsets and big names dumped on their backsides in the FA Cup comes to a frenzied denouement this evening as Brentford travel to Barnet for the final tie of the fourth round. Only Manchester City looked assured as they swept Burnley aside by five goals without reply. 

Tonight’s game is in equal measure just about as good a chance of progression as one could hope for (on paper) but also about as big a potato skin as could be lobbed under the feet of Thomas Frank. Just ask West Ham about that ! And please, stop sniggering. They did it win it back in 1980. A Trevor Brooking header, apparently. If only somebody had mentioned.

health-and-beauty-benefits-of-potato-peels

Barnet represent a potato skin of the highest order

THE big question of course being whether Thomas will follow the fate of his predecessor Dean Smith and slip up on it or will safe transit to the fifth round be achieved for the first time in what feels like a long time? Brentford will be in the unusual position of knowing who we might be playing and where (subject to replays) before the Barnet game kicks off, given the draw takes place prior to kick off. We’re number 13 in that one, for the record. Wimbledon are 2, Manchester City 12 (oh to play them again), Manchester United 15 and Spurs are…out. 

Yet let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Whilst we may know who the potential opposition are going to be for this one, we still need to get past the current team in our way. Barnet will no doubt make it about as tough as they can with a full house roaring them on in a bid to make The Hive as intimidating as possible. 

Cripes, didn’t it work well for Wimbledon on Saturday. Facing a West Ham team who looked anything but up for it and playing like a beginner on FIFA 19, the higher ranked team were torn apart time and again before the goals started to flow. It was a quintessential example of playing the position rather than the situation and the Hammers came unstuck in quite glorious style. 

Brentford will be doing very well to learn the lessons from that one. You can bet that the press, BT Sport (who are showing this one live) and any neutral fan watching on TV will be desperate for a home win. Even if it is a non-Martin Allen year at Barnet. As noted at the top end, this one has the potential to see us left with as much egg on our face as those illustrious names to have already fallen this year. Just look at how Newport County took Leicester City part in the previous round to know that there is nothing guaranteed in football. No matter how lowly the other team may appear to be.

Even Frank Lampard’s Derby County (TM) were left hanging on during Saturday lunchtime’s game. That one was a classic cup tie played out on the proverbial quagmire of a pitch. Only some last gasp fouls and a cracking save from visiting ‘keeper Kelle Roos kept the Rams in the hat as they snuck through 1-0.

The point being that no matter how easy this one looks, it won’t be. The only thing that counts will be progression. Nobody will remember an unlucky loser when the fifth round kicks off in anger. Eyes will only be looking forward.

The FA Cup is that most incredible of tournaments. That most unique of formats. Think of all those combatants who have done battle through the preliminary rounds to bring us to the position we are now in. Their roles, perhaps, forgotten but pivotal to the rich tapestry of a competition which is still watched the world over.  Clubs and broadcasters may try to tinker with the format and the spirit of the tournament but at the end of the day (Clive) it boils down to a one off game of 11 v 11.

And I really can’t wait for this one.       

cup wembley

Here’s hoping Brentford continue on the “Road to Wembley” .

Nick Bruzon

As unexpected shocks go, this is up with the best of them. What next, though?

1 Feb

Can we look yet? 5.30am and the alarm has just gone off but, it seems, Brentford are in the clear. At least for now. The domestic transfer window has formally slammed shut and we have survived. Whilst outside of TW8, the biggest Bournemouth related shock of yesterday was their beating Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge, at Griffin Park we had our own cause to be wary of Eddie Howe. The Bournemouth manager reported by Sky Sports to have bid a staggering £5.5 million for Chris Mepham. Something that other sources later claimed had been upped to £7(seven) million pounds.

Chris is a huge talent and has done nothing but impress in the handful of appearances since making his Championship debut but a bid of that size is one that nobody expected. With all the talk of Lasse Vibe heading off to China or Ryan Woods to Sunderland, nobody had considered the thought that our new star could be on his way to the seaside. Thankfully, he isn’t. For now.

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Chris Mepham won’t be turning his back on the Bees

Once again, it shows how much guess work and clickbait goes into those January rumours. Nobody saw this one coming and it will be very interesting to hear the official verdict on our January business. After the carnage in the summer when Harry Redknapp started to splash the cash at the 11th hour, you could have been forgiven for fearing the worst.

Instead it has been a case of tumbleweed at Griffin Park. Chris Mepham is still at Brentford and that can only be a good thing for all concerned. He has shown so much ability and maturity in such a short time that there is no doubt he can play at the highest level. Yet, for now, he continues his footballing education with Brentford and that’s fantastic news.

Instead, it is the ‘in door’ which has swung this time around with the signing of 20 year old Chiedozie Ogbene confirmed from Limerick earlier in the week. Another free scoring attacker (10 goals in 37 appearances last season) he is a player with huge potential. With Alan Judge staying at Griffin Park and Emiliano Marcondes taking those initial steps in the first team, competition is set to be even fiercer than ever before.

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#WelcomeOgbene

In other ‘non’ news, number 26 is still at Burnley  – so no sell on clause for us. Although given his family ties, there was no way he was ever going to join the likes of Arsenal or any other Southern club. Manchester City would have been the only viable option out of all those clubs being linked with the strike happy centre-back.

That said, Justin Shaibu has gone out  – albeit on loan to Walsall. I really thought he may have been given a bit more of a try out in the first team – especially when Lasse has not been available. One does wonder what will happen should the Great Dane decide his career lies abroad. The transfer window in China remains open until February 28th so I don’t think we are quite out of the woods there. Still, all that is pure conjecture. We know from Dean Smith and other club sources that he has been in conversation with another club but, to date, no agreement has been met. Fingers crossed that Lasse sticks with the rest of his team mates to see where this season might take us.

I’m a very happy man this morning. Whilst it has got to the point that nothing would surprise us anymore (and almost did), when the worst that happened on deadline day was my triple Chelsea defence taking a fantasy football hammering – thanks, Eddie – then things have gone very, very well.

Yet had we sold anyone then I think it fair to say that whenever this has happened we’ve bounced back. This summer’s window has seen the quintessential example of this, with it taking Birmingham City the best part of four months to finally limp out of the bottom three. Even then, it took a win over fellow relegation strugglers Sunderland. Brentford, meanwhile, have picked ourselves up since losing Maxime et al to become the divisional form team as we’ve climbed from bottom of the table to the fringes of the play-off race.

But we digress. I don’t want to get caught up on the woes and travails at St. Andrew (albeit February 20th could be a very tasty encounter). Like it or not we are set up to grow, develop and sell players at present. Everybody has their price although clearly Chris Mepham’s is expected to be a lot more than has already been dangled under our noses.

We didn’t sell this time around. It’s brilliant. Moreso, it poses a very interesting question now about what happens should the Bees really kick on from that wonderful recent form. Espcially if Lasse stays put.

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Nick Bruzon

Best. Club. Ever. It was a very merry Christmas as doors to the ground thrown open for young fans.

13 Dec

Yours Truly writing this particular column seems almost as seasonal a repeat as BBC1 showing the Mrs Browns Boys Christmas Special. Yet whilst that is the ultimate in festive hell (with nary a ho, ho or ho in sight) Brentford was the place to be last night with seasonal goodwill and Christmas cheer in abundance. At a time when most of the football world would have had their eyes on Burnley going fourth in the Premier league (why thank you for the Fantasy Football points, number 26) or Chelsea winning a game once more, over in TW8 it was a case of all down to Griffin Park for the Junior Bees Christmas get together.

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Mrs Brown – a festive repeat undoubtedly coming. Sadly, the same can’t be said for laughs

And, as ever, whilst you may have read this before it bears repeating. The squad, the staff, the mascots and the entertainers were beyond compare. Talking to the youngsters, signing player cards, posing for photos and hosting all manner of football related games. Giant jenga with Romaine Sawyers and Daniel Bentley (smart lads, bagging an indoor spot). A tour of the dressing room with John Egan . Ollie Watkins and Neal Maupay in charge of the snowball toss. It had it all. And more.

Special mention to Brentford head coach Dean Smith, too. My four year old knows what Dean does – amongst other things, he picks the players. As such, the pair of us (me and Harry, not me and Dean) had needed a long chat in September about where his former favourite Harlee Dean had gone. So I was shocked and surprised (pleasantly so) when the normally shy four year old asked him: “Why has Harlee Dean joined the naughty team”?

Let’s just say that his response was both utterly professional yet, at the same time, displaying a sense of humour that has certainly tickled Harry. Thank you, Dean.

And thanks, as ever to all at Brentford. I love this club. I love what they do for the fans. Would you get this at a Chelsea or a Manchester United? I neither know nor care. I don’t support them and I don’t live overseas. My suspicion is a no. And certainly not for free. Yet Brentford, a top half of the table Championship club, were quite happy to throw open the doors once more. And it was wonderful.

Harry is still enthusing about it this morning. And that’s only a good thing.

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Sergi and Josh just running the ‘ being popular’ stall

Nick Bruzon

Out of the cup but where next?

20 Sep

Brentford 1 Norwich City 3. We’re out of the EFL Cup after a night in which we were never even close to being in it. Hey, let’s be positive though. At least Bolton Wanderers lost ahead of Saturday after their long trip to West Ham.

Dean Smith would later describe the second half performance as being “insipid” but I’d also question if he watched the opening period.  It was a 45 minutes punctuated by strange refereeing decisions and a Bees team who were second to just about everything.

And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust …. the rest of this article can now be found in the Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

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

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

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Certainly, if there’s no Marcos Tea Bar at Lionel Road it will be an opportunity missed.

All proceeds from any sales will go to the Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given something very special. A 2017/18 third team shirt with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in the EFL typeface. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop.  Anyone who has read any of this before will know what a kit nerd yours truly is so when I say this is rare, take that in good faith!

To be in with a chance of owning it, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before selecting a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

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Barbet pen Norwich

Barbet’s pen. (Inset: now)

 

 

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Dean Smith – nice trainers ; tough challenge

Nick Bruzon

Who will win the Championship? Who will go down? What about the Bees? Who has the best new kit?

3 Aug

Almost there, Brentford fans. It’s Thursday morning. The Championship kicks off tomorrow evening before The Bees travel to Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon. But with three top ten finishes under our belts, is it now the time to look at stepping up? Or should we remain content just to swim in the same waters as Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves and all those other famous names? To stay safe. To look at holding station until such time as Lionel Road is ready for us to move in to?

Yesterday’s column on Jota and not ‘Jota’ ended with several questions of this nature. The predominant one being, what are your hopes for the forthcoming season? Well for what it’s worth, here’s my take on how the Championship is going to pan out.

Starting with Brentford, the summer has been an exciting one. On the transfer front it has been one way traffic inward with, to date, nobody leaving bar The Hoff. Even KK and Jack Bonham have only gone out on loan. There has been no Jota to West Ham. No Ryan Woods to Sunderland. No Harlee Dean to Sheffield Wednesday. No Rico Henry to Hull City. No Romanine Sawyers to Southend United (and apologies – but that one really did appear) . So far…

Instead we have bought what would seem to be incredibly astutely. The EFL young player of the year in Ollie Watkins and South African international Kamo Mokotjo are the two names immediately grabbing our attention. The former because of the potential and our beating off a host of other clubs to his signature. These include a Nottingham Forest side who let Britt Assombalonga go to Middlesbrough and are now relying on veteran striker Daryl Murphy. Prolific in his day although never forget ‘that’ miss.

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And Murphy must score. Erm….

Kamo is getting Bees fans excited simply due to the fact of how skillful and how comfortable he already looks. Translating pre-season into real life form will be another thing, but the early signs are wonderfully positive. We seem to have genuine competition in pretty much every position. Just the amount of different stories that have appeared about our players over the summer show how strong our squad has become.

Of course, let’s not rest on our laurels here. The season may begin this weekend but that godforsaken transfer window still remains open until August 31. As we’ve seen in the past, players can come and go well after the campaign has begun. Andre Gray being a most recent example where, despite his two goals in two games at the beginning of the Marinus era, the inevitable sale to Burnley went through straight after.

Yet, at the same time, the current signs are positive. Fingers crossed it can stay that way. If Matthew Benham can juggle the finances to keep this squad together then we have the potential to be amongst the best in the league.

Little Brentford punching above their weight”. Not my words but those of just about every pundit outside of TW8 in recent times.

B*llocks” . They’re my words.

The last three years we’ve done what we have on merit. Reaching the play-offs for the Premier League in our first Championship season may have caught a few people unawares but it was fully deserved on our play. Coming out the other side of the Marinus experiment to end ninth, equally justified – despite that post Christmas wobble.

But for a ropey patch in the autumn last time around we could well have pushed on then. The football in the second half of the season, freed from the understandable obligation to play everything through Scott Hogan and reinvigorated by the returning Spanish duo of Jota and Sergi, was simply breathtaking.

We destroyed Aston Villa at Griffin Park. Absolutely destroyed them. You could say the same for the home games with Derby County. With Leeds United. With QPR, for whom Jake Bidwell probably has ongoing nightmares. Police still involved in that one (not literally), after reports of Jota picking his pocket more than once.

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‘Official’ love him, too

I don’t buy any of this small club nonsense. I fully know our history and have been coming to Griffin Park since 1979. Absolutely, it is a privilege to play at the level given some of the low points we’ve been through. But that doesn’t mean we should be showing any defference, any OTT respect, any form of “we’re just happy to be here’ humility. Just as nobody has a divine right to ‘be any good’ (see: Arsenal), equally just because you have humble origins you shouldn’t go into it expecting bad things to happen. Have some confidence in our ability. Our perceived size is an advantage. It is an advantage we should play up to.

We’ve taken so many teams and pundits by surprise already. I’m convinced it will happen again. My call for the Bees was initially 6th at the start of the summer. In recent weeks I’ve revised that to fifth. I’m sticking to that and nailing my colours to the mast here. Brentford to finish fifth.

Optimistic? Stupid? Naive? Whichever – I’m here to have fun this season and am only looking upwards.

Casting the net further afield, it is not a view shared by other sources. Middlesbrough and Aston Villa remain favourites to win the league. The former, I can fully understand. They’ve only ever been a force at this level (move along, nothing to see here….) whilst boosted by both the goals of Assombalonga and the parachute payments from the Premier League will be exceptionally strong . I’m agreeing with the experts on this one.

Villa though? No. No. No. I can’t see them finishing in the top six. The were horrific last season. Only good for betting on 1-1 scorelines, <2.5 goals and away L. The hype around John Terry surely more distraction than yardstick of genuine aspiration. I find it inconceivable that Steve Bruce will have turned things around this much over the summer. Stranger things have happened, of course, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Instead, Sheffield Wednesday are the team that will finally come good and take the second spot. Celebrating their 150th year with some cracking new kits, to boot (in my opinion, and not including our own, the best shirts in the Championship ) they’ll go up after knocking on the door for so long. Joining Brentford in the play-offs will be Norwich City, Fulham and Leeds United. Pick your order for these three. Much as I’m loathe to admit it, the Cottagers played some wonderful football last season. Their stadium may well be a hotbed of neutrality but, on the field, they showed they can more than do their stuff these days.

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Sheffield Wednesday to play as good as they’ll look?

Bottom three. Millwall, Ipswich Town and QPR for me. The former just too out of their depth whilst the Tractor Boys and not so super hoops have only gone backwards. With no real inward investment and a team that has only stagnated, those days of top flight football are a long, long way away.

Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. What do I know? Not much. I’ll happily hold up my hands when this all gets proven wrong, One man’s opinion is another’s comedy.

Club sponsor LeoVegas has us ranked joint 11th to win the league at 25/1. Do they know something we don’t?

Likewise FourFourTwo magazine have just published their season preview. Available now from all good newsagents, they call Brentford to finish 10th. Don’t let that or the fact that yours truly wrote the piece on The Bees (Klanggggggg; the sound of a name being dropped) put you off, though. It’s actually a great read.

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Season preview edition now available

The other follow up we need to do from yesterday is in regards to Jota. Or, specifically ‘Jota’. Of Wolves. You may recall that the EFL have told Wolves that he needs to have his real surname, Silva, on his shirt rather than what they deem to be his nickname.

All well and good, although my own subsequent thought was what this might mean for us? Should we even be able to hang on to him, of course. An awkward look in the other direction being the immediate reaction.

However,Twitter user Ben (@BenPlumb97) has put the question out there in cyberspace. Thankfully, the legend that is Kitman Bob has stepped up to answer.

And relax 🙂

Bob Tweet re Jota

Nick Bruzon