Brentford travel to Exeter City in the first round of the League Cup tonight, no doubt anxious to make up for last season’s humiliation at this stage when Oxford United were given the freedom of Griffin Park. Elsewhere, those of us with half an ear to the wider football grapevine can breath a huge sigh of relief at the news that the Paul Pogba to Manchester United saga is finally over. And Olympic fever is slowly taking hold in the Bruzon household.
First up, as ever, Brentford. The trip to Exeter City marks a chance for the Bees to start another attempt at a cup run after a somewhat disappointing last couple of seasons. Capitulation in the FA cup against Brighton in 2014/15 was followed by last season’s no show at home to Walsall. As for the League Cup, who needs any reminder of the tie with League Two Oxford United?
Well, all of us do – just to make sure it never happens again. Dean, if you are reading (you aren’t) I realise this wasn’t your fault but….
It was probably the moment, with pitch gate already taking a grip, that we looked to each other and said collectively “Hmm. This Marinus thing. Not sure it’s going to work”. For all the subsequent short term keeping of faith in the league, this was absolutely horrific. Three down in 12 minutes and playing with an experimental line up, that we only lost by four was the major miracle of the night.
Chuck in the head coach having a complete lack of any perceptible body language – something totally alien to football fans used to a manager (whatever) exhorting his troops to push harder or just giving them some guidance – and he was doomed.
The Oxford United fiasco (not a prog rock band)
Failure to even give Courtney Senior a handshake, let alone acknowledge him as he trooped to the bench after surviving 75 minutes of hell out there, was shameless.
The only thing I would say about that night was a team which raised so many eyebrows at the time has now become one which, if it started this evening wouldn’t cause quite so much alarm. Yoann Barbet and Andreas Bjelland as a CB pairing is one I’m desperate to see tried again, Nico Yennaris was played in a then unfamiliar centre mid role whilst Josh Clarke has forced his way more and more into the first team since that night.
With Danish Olympic captain Lasse Vibe up top, you can’t deny we had some now familiar names out there. Add to the mix a couple of kids and Jack Bonham having a game he’d probably like to forget then perhaps, as much as anything, it was a lesson in throwing too many untried people in too soon.
As for Exeter City, they’ll no doubt be well up for it (the technical term). This game represents a huge potato skin for the Bees and the home side will be itching for the chance to claim the scalp of a now established Championship side.
More importantly, the game marks six years since the tragic death from bowel cancer of striker Adam Stansfield at the age of 31.
Never forgotten by supporters who still cheer his name every game, I gather tonight will feature a minute’s applause (no doubt, longer !) on the ninth minute . A classy gesture from a club and a set of fans who have only ever been top value when hosting / visiting the Bees.
Whichever way the game turns out, it is sure to be an emotional night for all. Here’s hoping Brentford can hold it together and go one better than we have done in recent seasons. The last time we played Exeter in the cup we reached Wembley (albeit that was the JPT). Sam Saunders, eventually subbed by Lewis Grabban, scored that night and is the only current squad member from that night. What price him doing it again?
The other football news to grab my attention – how could it not – is the interminable story of Paul Pogba and his protracted move from Juventus to Manchester United. Despite him reportedly having had more medicals than bionic man Steve Austin over the last few weeks (kids, ask your dads), in the end it has cost the Old Trafford club considerably more than six million dollars to re-sign the player they let got for £1.5 million just four years ago. £89million is the fee being reported for that deal.
It is a terrifying rate of inflation and a crazy amount of money. Does this mean a trend following? To compare, I’m always staggered by the transfer fees commanded for Lewis Grabban. This is no reflection on the player’s ability but more the fact that he left us for Rotherham on free.
Since then, Bournemouth have sold him for over £3million and then bought him back for just shy of Nine. Million. Pounds.
I’m sorry, but that has to be said slowly. In days of spiralling transfer fees, ‘the Grabban’ has become a much more effective unit of transfer fee comparison than sterling.
Given Rasmus has already confirmed that Alex Pritchard would have been too expensive to buy back, I can’t see us emulating Mr Mourinho and offering a similar sum to Eddie Howe. That said, for a player to cost 11 Grabbans shows how much Manchester United are hanging their reputation on him. Here’s hoping it doesn’t backfire on them. No. Seriously. Please stop sniggering.
As for that #Pogback hashtag. Not even we’d stoop that low. Surely? #Grabback, anyone?
Steve Austin – 0.5 of a Grabban
Finally, the Olympics are taking hold. We’re now three days in and Great Britain are starting to win medals . They aren’t ‘medaling’ (whatever you may read about this irritating faux-verb) and we aren’t the Sue Barker inspired Team GB. How this has been allowed to become common parlance, I have no idea.
Please, have some dignity. Does everything have to be reduced to a hashtag or supposedly snappy soundbite? I don’t see Mannschaft D or Equipe F taking part. What’s wrong with just calling us Great Britain?
That aside, after the horrific scare in the women’s road race, it was the turn of the men to hold our attention last night. In the pool, that is. Surprisingly, Mrs Bruzon joined me on the sofa in a rare display of domestic sporting unity to watch finely honed athletes, wearing nothing but the skimpiest of trunks, hurl themselves into the pool from 10 metres up.
I’ve no idea why she had decided to watch but, more importantly, it once again gave a chance to show that even the laziest of athletes (that’s me) can become experts in any judging discipline within about three goes. In moments, 7.5’s were being handed out with abandon as observations about synchronicity came as easily as those about Great Britain’s hopes of winning a medal in this event.
Equally impressive was the confidence being shown by the team mates. Not in each other, where synchronised action is key to success, but in their speedos. How none of those flew off after hitting the water at such speed, from such distance, is a feat of engineering beyond even NASA scientists. Surely something to deny the laws of known physics?
Yes. For as many alternative reasons as sporting ones, the Rio games are grabbing the attention. Whilst I’ll be following the football tonight, I can’t deny I might also have half an eye on more Olympic action.