Tag Archives: Carabao Cup

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. Even spot kicks as, when presented with the ultimate lifeline and a chance to haul ourselves back into it at 1-0 down, Yoann Barbet blasted his penalty so far over the top that it’s now in low earth orbit.

Barbet pen Norwich

Barbet’s pen. (Inset: now)

But then we’ve a tradition of centre backs hoofing dead balls over the bar. See also that ill-fated period of giving spot kick duties to number 26 ( a player who, ironically, missed one for Burnley last night as they lost out against Leeds). Likewise Miguel Llera and his attempts to channel Sam Saunders but which were more akin to Jonny Wilkinson. Why not just give it to a striker? A player whose job it it to strike the ball. To find the back of the net. Subsequent free kicks would suggest the Frenchman’s radar was somewhat ‘off’.

Yet let’s not hide behind one missed penalty. Even before then the writing felt on the wall where, with three B-team players making their first starts, those experienced heads picked by Dean needed to stand up and be counted. To guide the debutants. Instead, they went awol. Instead, the head coach was unable to do anything beyond take tips from Thomas Frank and occasionally lift his arms in frustration.

If Yoann was impersonating Jonny then this was almost like watching the ghost of Marinus past. And in places it was almost like reliving that ill-fated Oxford United tie from a few seasons back.

At a time when we should have come out all guns blazing in the second half, we fell even further behind. Just six minutes were on the clock after the restart when Mario Vrancic doubled the Canaries lead with a free kick curled over the wall and under Luke Daniels. His first had come just ten minutes into the opening period following a very soft penalty decision awarded to Norwich. But they took advantage of their opportunity; you can’t knock them for that. We wasted ours to the extent that even the Met Police were sledging us.

And at 2-0 down, the game was up. Brentford, who had been second best for most of the first half, didn’t even bother. Only Justin Shaibu, on for the totally ineffectual Neal Maupay, coming close with a curler that bounced back off the inside of the post. At least, until Josh Clarke popped up with our consolation goal in stoppage time. But by that point Josh Murphy had already made it 3 for the visitors.

As a means of psyching ourselves up for Saturday and the trip to Bolton, this was less a shot in the arm as us shooting ourselves in the foot. Unless, of course, it was an attempt to deliberately mislead any watching scouts. Truly, this was a soul destroying experience. Akin to what I can only imagine it would feel being force-fed Mrs Browns Boys for 90 minutes.

I could sit here and pick this apart but what’s the point? If you were there, you saw it. If you weren’t, then know that Norwich City were totally up for it and deserved their win. Likewise, know that should we pull our socks up and pull a result out of the bag on Saturday then I have no doubt this one will be forgotten about as quickly as it happened.

We’ve strength to come back off the bench, for sure. That’s the advantage of having a squad which gets stronger each transfer window. Just who plays? Whilst injuries haven’t helped his cause, Dean seems no closer to knowing his first team and this is going to be our 9th game in the Championship. There’s only so long you can experiment for.

Get it right and he’ll be a hero. Get it wrong and the few boos we heard at full time last night could well become a crescendo.

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Dean Smith – nice trainers ; tough challenge

Nick Bruzon

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West London is ours. Who’s up next, whenever that is?

23 Aug

Somebody’s going to get a spanking soon enough“. Words used on these pages after the last few games as Brentford have seen dominance, possession and chances undone by bad luck and the odd moment of defensive ‘frailty’. Well, thankfully for The Bees it was QPR who were the right team in the wrong place. A 4-1 Carabao cup victory saw our biggest ever win at Loftus Road, a record that goes back to the first ever league meeting back in 1920. That’s just shy of a century. Our biggest away win against QPR in pretty much 100 years. Suck that one up, stat fans.

What a performance. With six of the team who played at Ipswich named once more, this wasn’t the wholesale revamp predicted by many. And hasn’t Dean Smith now been given a headache for the Wolves match on Saturday?

Flo Jo opened the scoring after just ten minutes. Shortly after doing so, his cross-cum-shot was redesignated as simply a cross and an o.g. chalked up to QPR defender Ariel Borysiuk. No matter, they all count and from that moment the die was cast.

Captain John Egan doubled the lead soon after. If we’ve had issues with some defensive curios in recent weeks, Rangers boss Ian Holloway must be having nightmares right now. How much space? Still, let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. Subsequent viewing of the Sky Sports highlights show just what that one meant to him.

Egan socres v QPR

And you could see exactly what that one meant to him etc etc etc

But like an additional pizza cutter given away free with with a set of cooking knives on an infomercial, still there was more. Brentford’s third, on the half hour, was a thing of beauty. Romaine Sawyers, with confidence oozing through his body this season, cut the home team in half as easily as if he was serving up a ‘Ham and Pineapple’ with a ball that took out five players in one pass. Neal Maupay latched onto the end of it. His first time shot flying high into the back of the net from the edge of the box. It really was my pick of the bunch and due reward for both players.

Maupay has hit the ground running since coming from France. It is no wonder Brighton were interested in the player and testament to our scouting team that he has joined the Griffin Park revolution. As for Romaine Sawyers, what another (metaphorical) two fingers up to last season’s critics – where are they now? Nice one , Romaine 🙂

Likewise do check out the Sky highlights for the reaction of one home fan in the corner. This, shortly before the fire drill sounded. Just because you’re losing….. A goal every ten minutes and the QPR defence looking flakier than a leper eating a Cadbury’s chocolate bar in a bath. Could we be in line for those mythical brackets that come with 7 (seven) ?

Alas not. But to complain about such a thing would be trite. QPR got going (again?). One back before halftime saw a brief flurry in the second period but it was far too little, far too late. Josh Clarke made things safe to complete the evacuation of Loftus Road on 83 minutes. What a performance. What a result.

Yet perhaps the most telling moment of the night was the return to action of Ryan Woods. Named on the bench, he was applauded by the entire Brentford contingent. You won’t see much about his appearance in the mainstream match reports but we all knew what it meant. Its wonderful to see him back in what must have been really emotional circumstances.

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Emma Briden nails it on Twitter

All of which meant yours truly has been somewhat excited ever since. I slept in the spare room last night so as not to wake up Mrs Bruzon, having set the alarm for 4.10 am (apparently yes, there is a 4 AM, too) to see who we’ll get in the third round.

And so six hours later there was that ungodly clarion call. Bleary eyed, on came Sky Sports . There was ‘Through The Night’, but no cup draw. Did Chanel 5 have it? No.

A flick around the channels but it was nowhere. Not on the BBC. Not even ‘Dave’. Perhaps the Carabao Cup was going to extreme lengths and those ladies from the less salubrious channels ‘at the end of the dial’ were hosting it ? No. No. It wasn’t cup balls they seemed to be pulling. From a hat or otherwise. Move along. Fast.

Then it clicked. It was Wednesday morning. The Beijing based draw is 4.15am on Thursday. Well, thanks Carabao. Is this all just a ploy to make me consume your energy drink later in the day. Out of principal, I’m now going for Red Bull.

On the plus side, getting up early its given a chance to watch the highlights once more. Definitely the highlights.

Roll on THURSDAY morning and another night in the spare room. It’ll be worth it. I hope.

Buzzette REd Bull

No Carabao for this Bees fan. It’s the Red Bull cup today

Nick Bruzon

Will we be in the strangest draw yet after QPR game? Will you be there on Saturday for stadium news?

22 Aug

Brentford travel to QPR in the second round of the Carabao cup tonight with the tournament now sparking as much interest in the latest instalment of their guide to cocking up a draw as in the ties that precede it. And there’s some positive news on the stadium front c/o Beesotted, BU, The GPG, BIAS and the club with a forum taking place this Saturday prior to the Wolves game where the new plans will be discussed further

First up, the Carabao Cup (league cup). The Bees head to Shepherd’s Bush this evening for what promises to be a another fierce derby. We’ll be backed by a huge away following who will now doubt give the usual vociferous support. If you can get past the lack of leg room, restricted views in the upper tier and moribund – meaning dead or dying – atmosphere from the home support then Loftus Road is a great place to go.

But nobody is there for the creature comforts. If that’s your footballing raison d’être then I guess prawn sandwiches and premium seats are the way forward. We’re there for another 237 derby. Another chance to exert our recent superiority over the divisional rivals who so famously tried, and failed, to take over at Brentford. For another chance to remind Jake Bidwell of just what Jota did to him last season at Griffin Park. For another game against our closest geographical rivals.

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I wouldn’t disagree

Will Jota feature? Has his lower back injury cleared up? Can we get a first win of the season (in regular time)? It would certainly be a wonderful opportunity to get things back on track after some real Jekyll and Hyde performances. For every blitzkrieg attack has been some kamikaze defence. Bloopers at the back have been the theme that has, so far, proved very much the fly in the ointment of some very positive attacking play.

We don’t need to list the catalogue of error once more, suffice to say that this presents Dean an additional chance to settle on a first choice defence. To give his preferred foursome another run out. Assuming, of course, he doesn’t choose to mix things up with the game against Wolves swiftly followed by a trips to Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday prior to international break.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Who’d be a head coach?

The other point of interest around the action was Monday’s announcement that the third round draw will take place at 4.15am (yes, that’s the morning, not a typo) in Beijing, China. Whilst the decision is one which has been meet with widespread bemusement, the official blurb from the EFL tells us that: “Once the logistics have been completed in Beijing, the UK will be waking up and the breakfast media will be able to report and get reaction on the 16 ties that will take place next month, which we feel is an interesting move away from the usual post-game evening draws.”

Hmm. I’m convinced. It does seem farcical but there are bigger things to get excited about. This is hardly the prestige of the FA Cup third round draw. It is hardly an occasion graced by the gravitas of Jim Rosenthal. Besides, it is an approach that typifies the competition to date. Who could forget the disaster of the first round draw? Live from Thailand, the Facebook feed cut off after one team had been drawn whilst Charlton were pulled both home and away.

The second round draw, whilst taking place domestically, used a third pot to decide which of the regionally seeded teams would be ‘home’ or ‘away’. It left viewers and clubs baffled as John Salako got the colour of his balls mixed up. Brentford were among four clubs declared as ‘home’ but seemingly ‘away’ who had to eventually be reconfirmed as on the road for this one.

Perhaps having the draw at a time when most of the interested parties will be tucked up in bed is simply a means of avoiding any further fiasco. I feel for the likes of Tom Moore and our other local journalists / club officials who will now have to be up at this ungodly hour to prepare the news for us. Or will it simply be a case of setting up the VHS, waking at 6 and hoping nobody else has woken up yet?

In other news, the fourth round draw will be held on the side of an active volcano. Immediately after the draw for the fifth has already taken place live on the International Space Station. But for a competition that famously once saw Donald Trump pulling the balls alongside Saint and Greavsie, nothing would surprise me.

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Donald Trump pulls Norwich City to play Tottenham. BAD. FAKE DRAW

And finally, with the news about Lionel Road still proving to be the subject of much debate it was announced yesterday that a fans forum will tale place on Saturday prior to the Wolves game. With the new plans being submitted to Hounslow Council this Thursday, there’s nothing we can do to alter the revamped physical build. As has already been noted on these pages, given the route taken by the club this was never going to be possible. Whether we wanted to or not. Moreso when no comment had been made, even after Tom Moore spilt the beans a week early. That’s not support of the approach but a fact of life as to our present situation.

Many fans are disappointed by this. Understandably. But is there still a chance to impact the mindset of the club? Even on things as unclear and worrying as the 3000 Premium seats. Will this create a them and us culture – something that would be totally ‘un-Brentford’ at a club where we pride ourselves on that wonderful sense of family. Happy-clappy sentiment doesn’t pay the bills but could it see us priced out?

Besotted have all the details of the event, which you can find here. If you have any questions /concerns then please get along. Chairman Cliff Crown, Mark Devlin and Donald Kerr will be amongst those on the panel.

See you there.

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Beesotted amongst those to organise this event

Nick Bruzon

A ball of confusion in the cup. Matt Dyson talks Warbs, radio and football ahead of Brentford v Nottingham Forest

11 Aug

Another League cup draw; another ball of confusion. If the first round draw was a farce (Charlton being drawn both home and away) things were no better second time around. Brentford will meet QPR in the second round of the League Cup. Seemingly the game to be played at Griffin Park on first call but the somewhat odd use of a third pot to determine ‘home’ or ‘away’ left fans and officials what we will politely call ‘baffled’. All this before we get to the main event of the next few days – the visit of Nottingham Forest in the league.

Who’d have thought that using three pots to determine a two team cup tie would end in anything but a cock up? And sure enough, it did. Despite the Bees being called as ‘home’ by former player John Salako, question marks were immediately raised over the colour of his venue ball. Even official, once more displaying this season’s new found sense of humour, hit the nail firmly on the head.

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They weren’t alone in wondering just what was going on. Supporter comment on twitter quickly cut to the nub of the matter

Lou Boyd: Hounslow v Hammersmith in a World Cup qualifier I heard

Lee : And Dianne Abbott has concluded that the game will be played on the 43rd September

Oh Fuffuxake!: Why don’t we just play at Craven Cottage?

Even a QPR fan, James Skinner, getting in on the action: How about doing the first half at Brentford, then everyone gets a bus to Loftus Road for the second?

Emma Briden: Please don’t get changed to away cause going to that shit hole once a season is enough..

Alas Emma, it eventually transpired that Brentford are due an additional visit to Loftus Road. Instead of home comforts we have cramped seating, no beer and apathetic support from our hosts. On the plus side, the choice of opponents means that passage to round three remains very much on the cards. How good would it be to see an early season rematch between Jota and Jake Bidwell?

At least it wasn’t just us who suffered. Charlton, Bristol City and Ipswich have also had home ties rebranded as road trips.

Red, H = home. White, A = away. Simple? Surely? Apparently not. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – just give me Jim Rosenthal, a lectern, some fascinating facts and 64 balls. Problem solved.

John Salako cup draw

Confused faces at the draw. Home? Away? Help? Anyone?

Still, all that’s to come. Next up for the Bees are Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon. With Mark Warburton in charge.

We all know how that story ended previously and, whilst the full facts behind his departure seem limited to that explanation about the changed structure and approach differing from his football philosophy, there are more than enough other theories and suppositions doing the rounds. Warbs remains a hero to many; not so much others. That’s football and we’ll probably never know the whole truth on this one.

Yet whatever the catalyst, we’ve all moved on. Mark is now manager at a Nottingham Forest side who almost went down last season but this campaign have won their opening games. Millwall in the league and Shrewsbury Town in the Cup. You can’t ask for more than that and Matthew Benham will no doubt be more than keen to get one over his former charge. But can we do it?

stickers-matt-videoWell, to find out we’ve caught up with one Forest fan whose voice may be familiar to anybody up and about between 6-10am.  Absolute Radio DJ Matt Dyson. The co-host of Saturday afternoon show Rock ‘n’ Roll football, he also mans the sportsdesk on the award winning Christian O’Connell breakfast show and even has a weekly podcast, Gameweek, talking (and singing) all things Fantasy Football.

We can only start with Mark Warburton. A legend to many at Griffin Park and now carving out a new reputation at the City Ground. What’s your take on how he has settled in? And the opinion of the broader fan base? Well he kept us up! So that was good.  He comes to us with a good reputation and seems like the right man for the job.  He’s got his backroom team around him and I hope our new Greek owners will give him the backing he needs.  We should certainly improve this season, after years of back to back decline under the Kuwaiti fridge magnate who used to run our club.

Warburton has made a few good signings from Scotland – a place he knows well from his time at Rangers.  I’m glad he’s not spending loads on big name players on huge salaries whose careers are on the way down.  He seems to be going for young hungry players and I think that is the key to getting out of the Championship.  Not big names who don’t give 100 per cent (e.g. Nicklas Bentdner).

Look at a club like Manchester United, where the spectre of Fergie still looms over anyone to follow in his footsteps. He’s up there in the stand looking down; a stand with his own name on it. Yet at Forest you have one of the greatest names the game has ever seen to contend with. Can Warbs escape from the shadow of Brian Clough? Well Fergie was literally in the stands at Old Trafford watching Moyes like a red faced angry hawk every game, God has left the building.  Brian’s name is quite rightly adorning what used to be called the Executive Stand (despite very few execs ever going to watch the Tricky Trees) and I don’t think his amazing legacy should affect our current manager.

What he achieved is something that all clubs should try and emulate.  Leicester came close, but didn’t get those back to back European Cups.  No cigar, I’m afraid guys.  Clough is quite rightly celebrated to this day by all Forest fans, for being the best thing to’ve ever happened to football in this country. So, no, I don’t think it will effect Warbs.

Bees 1-0 v Watford Warburton

Warbs – in there somewhere. Will he be as popular at the City Ground as Griffin Park?

Will he bring success back to The City Ground? We’ve had pre-season optimism many times in recent years. We get through managers quicker than most people get through bottles of shampoo.  I’d just be happy with a season of consolidation and then a play-off push next year.  He’s the best man available to us right now and I hope he’s given the rime and backing to achieve big things.  But the crucial thing he needs is TIME.  Some old trigger-happy owners never seemed to realise that.

Having survived last time around, you’ve already sold Britt Assombalonga to Middlesbrough for £14m. Good business (he missed a sitter at Griffin Park last season) with the chance to re-invest ? Or will this make things even harder for you?  He is a very natural goal scorer the like of which we’ve not seen at the City Ground for many years. But he had a really bad knee injury and was still recovering last season.  We signed him for £5 million from Peterborough a few years back, so I think it’s good business and a good profit.  I was hoping he’d go to a Premier League side though, as he will no doubt score against us this season.

Where do you see Nottingham Forest finishing this season? I’ve called 5th for Brentford so optimism is allowed.  I’d genuinely be happy with mid-table. After all the years of hurt, we just need to consolidate.

As a fan, what are your long term aspirations for the football club?Premier League, obvs.  But I’m not holding my breath.

Working in radio, specifically Rock n Roll football on a Saturday afternoon, how often can you get to see the team play? In short, not very often.  I’m really gutted to me missing the Brentford game because I’ve had a few great times stood behind the goal in the huge open terrace at Griffin Park.  Lovely old ground and the whole pub in each corner thing is also nice. We never seem to do very well here though, So it’s probably for the best that I’m not at this one.

You star on the breakfast show alongside fellow football fans in Christian (Southampton) and Richie Firth (Arsenal). Like Forest, Southampton have been up and down over the years but there seems to be a sense of entitlement from the Arsenal ‘faithful’ like no other club I’ve seen. Do you have any sympathy for the likes of Richie and those jumping on the ‘Wenger out’ bandwagon?  No. No sympathy whatsoever for the spoiled brats that go along to that ground and  are more interested in talking to their girlfriends on FaceTime than watching the match.  They’ve never known really bad times so aren’t in a position to fully appreciate the good times and they throw their toys out of the pram whenever they drop out of the top 4.  They don’t know they’re born!

Also, I’ve got quite a few mates who are glory hunting Gunners I’d much rather talk football with supporters of REAL football teams with proud histories like Forest and Brentford (…apart from the ‘proud history’ bit).

Christian once debunked the urban legend that Cameron Diaz was a Brentford supporter when interviewing the ‘Something about Mary’ star for the breakfast show. But what’s the scoop with Jason Statham? Whilst the likes of Stuart Broad, James Dean Bradfield and even Su Pollard are confirmed Forest fans, is this another story that’s too good to be true?  Sounds like bollocks to me

Why should people listen to Rock n Roll football on a Saturday? It’s a bit of an alternative to the serious, formal and frankly boring sports coverage that’s saturated the media in this country.  We give you top music and all the goals as they go in with one of the best young comedians in the UK at the moment, Rob Beckett, on the wheels of steel.  We also regularly intersperse the football with clips of Elaine Page laughing, Ronaldo selling blankets and Nigel Spink talking about his love of Ribena.

You can read more from Matt in this week’s ‘official’ matchday programme. The Gameweeek podcast can be found at the i-tunes store   – its free and well worth a listen for anyone with an interest in football – fantasy or otherwise.

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The Gameweek podcast – out now

Nick Bruzon

 

Will we slip on another potato skin or dodge that lower league bullet ?

8 Aug

It seems like only five minutes ago that Brentford performed those League cup heroics against Hull City and Everton, before narrowly missing out on Round 5 via a last minute equaliser and penalties against Birmingham City at St. Andrews. Infact, it was 2010 and The Bees first XI included the likes of Mickey Spillane, Craig Woodman and Pim Balkestein. Whilst the squad has evolved from that small League One group it would be fair to say that our record in the competition hasn’t been a great one since then. Could Tuesday night’s game in Kingston against AFC Wimbledon see us get back to winning ways?

The wins over higher division Hull and Everton were wonderful occasions, no question. The latter in particular seeing a practically full strength Premier League team beaten by a never say die Brentford XI. Gary Alexander scored the equaliser and Charlie MacDonald even had the luxury of seeing a penalty saved before the eventual spot kick triumph. Richard Lee the man on form then.

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Gary Alexander does his thing against Everton. 1-1

Now, we are the team to be shot down. A high performing Championship club travelling to an AFC Wimbledon side whose own ascension through the divisions and struggle to find a home has been a story in itself. Yet the game presents a huge potato skin for a Brentford side that is sure to be changed one from that which lost out to Sheffield United on Saturday.

The last time we won a League Cup tie Montell Moore and Nick Proschwitz (not a typo) were amongst the scorers in that defence shredding 6-6 at Dagenham and Redbridge. Kevin O’Conor played what was, if I am correct, his last ever game for the Bees – scoring what proved to be the decisive spot kick in the subsequent shoot out.

Since then the wheels have come off somewhat. We lost at Griffin Park to Fulham. At the time, something of a rarity for the Cottagers whom we would go on to take 10 points out of 12 from over the course of the following four league games. Didn’t Jota do something in the last minute, too?

Then there was the humiliation handed out by Oxford United at home as the Marinus experiment came crashing down to earth with a bump. Regular readers may be aware this gets mentioned a lot but it is important to never forget how bad that was. The team he selected was one which, long term, had a few players who are now regular (Nico, Lasse, Andreas) but at the time was an untested mixture of youth and new faces. 3-0 down in 12 minutes, that we only lost 4-0 was the main miracle of the night.

It was the consummate example of the flawed logic in both wholesale, untested change and woeful man management. Never forget.

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The Oxford United fiasco  / Marinus experiment (neither being prog rock bands)

Then last season it was the turn of Exeter City to dump us out in the first round. Despite Harlee Dean, John Egan, Josh Clarke and Sam Saunders amongst those picked, Brentford struggled to a 0-0 before Ryan Hartley got an extra time winner for the Grecians.

And now is the time to go again. I can only expect more change tonight but this time I fear for Wimbledon. Harlee is available after suspension.Yoann Barbet was benched on Saturday. Likewise Maxime Colin. Expect the pace of Josh Clarke down the flank and surely starts for Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins. I’d imagine Flo Jo will begin on the left with with a very strong bench, just in case.

As the higher placed team we’re there to be shot down, just as Everton and Hull were all those years ago. That’s one of the privileges of being a Championship side and, sadly, a bullet we’ve taken more than once in recent years.

Will this time around be any different? A full house of Bees fans will be there to roar us on with only 200 tickets remaining on the gate. Watch out for the traffic delays though and get there early.

See you there. Until then, here’s one of the highlights from the Everton game. When our mascot was told to keep holding the hand of his young counterpart, he took that instruction quite literally.

 

Nothing puts Peter Gilham off his stride

Nick Bruzon

Mamma Mia, here we go again. Brentford score big but who are this season’s dark horses?

1 Aug

With the Championship season almost upon us, it would be fair to say that anticipation is rising. Nowhere moreso than at Griffin Park where last night young Brentford fans were given the chance to meet their heroes at the now traditional summer ‘open day’. Sky Sports have launched their own season preview (remember the one Ian Holloway did last time out?) where along with the standard installation of Middlesbrough and Aston Villas as favourites, there’s no surprise for Bees fans. And the EFL have announced a shake up to penalty shoot outs that will have local journalists and bad bloggers in pun heaven.

First up, last night at Griffin Park. What can you say? It never ceases to amaze me just how incredible our players are. I’ve said this before but it needs to be said again. What for them could have been a tedious contractual obligation became a wonderful hour and a half (if not longer) for all those young fans lining up to get a peak behind the scenes and a photo with the stars. Not to mention an autograph or two.

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They were all, without question, wonderful. We got along quite late in the day yet the enthusiasm of the squad was infectious. Whatever Dean Smith and his staff are doing for squad morale is just incredible. What a brilliant group of players who went out of their way to welcome young supporters who might have been bit nervous / awestruck. (and that was just dad, although perhaps not so much of the young).

The entire squad was pretty much all there. Even new dad Maxime Colin, who one could have understandably expected to be on paternity leave. I don’t want to overly single anybody out although big thanks to Harlee, Lewis and Jota for their help with the picture. Hitting peak tiredness, somebody went very shy before composing himself after some enthusiastic words from his heroes.

Would you get this at another Championship team? Would the players be so welcoming? Would the club be so relaxed and open ? Would the club make such a great effort for their fans?  There was nothing corporate about this, it was just beautifully arranged. It was just Brentford. THANK YOU.

HB, Harlee, Lewis, Jota

Sky Sports. We all know what happened this time last season. Pundit Ian Holloway wrote his pre-season review in which he tipped the Bees for a poor season and relegation to League One. The rest is history.

Fast forward twelve months and whilst not the QPR boss with pen in hand, the TV company have published this year’s version. Divided into four categories of : Title contenders, Play-off hopefuls, Dark horses and Potential strugglers it looks at the so-called runners and riders in each category. So where do Brentford fit in?

The answer is a simple one. Nowhere. Not surprisingly they have Middlesbrough as favourites (I’d agree) along with Aston Villa – whom everybody is backing. I’m sorry, but I genuinely don’t get it. They were awful last season. Is a geriatric defender going transform them? Bring on Jota to run at him – Jake Bidwell, round 2.

But that aside, where are The Bees? Quite simply we don’t even warrant a passing mention.

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Whilst I’m tipping us for fifth, I can sympathise with their reticence to perhaps label us play-off contenders. But for a team that have had three top ten finishes over our Championship life (including that play-off with Middlesbrough) and have bought exceptionally over the summer to not even be deemed a ‘dark horse’ is odd.

Then again, if you do want to see Brentford as a dark horse Rod Liddle in The Times has us marked up. Or should that be down? He has us as relegation candidates and scoops this year’s Ian Holloway award.

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Look – I love all this. Three full seasons in and still nobody fancies us. Nobody gives us a hope. We are the stealth bombers of the Championship. Flying very much undetected, under the radar and all the way to the top. Keep on ignoring us – even the TV channels don’t give us a look in over August and September – and that’s just fine by me. If we can say the same to the end of the transfer window then all the better.

Finally, penalty kicks. You may have seen this yesterday but the EFL have announced they are switching the traditional shoot out to the ABBA system for the Carabao Cup, Checkatrade Trophy (should anybody be watching) and play-offs. Effectively, the shoot out will be contested like a tennis tie-break where after the first team starts, teams then get two consecutive kicks each and then continues as such until we have a winner.

The blurb on the EFL site tells us that “The trial of the new system is being backed by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in response to a hypothesis that the player taking the second kick is under greater mental pressure in the current format. Therefore, a different order of kickers will be trialled in an experiment to reduce any apparent advantage the team taking the first kick may have”.

Regular or ABBA. It’s still nerve wracking and exciting in equal measure. Although with the League cup starting next week, this doesn’t give huge amounts of time to prepare. Personally, I’m more interested in the pun potential off the back of this. Which manager will be sending out an SOS? Who will meet his Waterloo? At the end of the day (Clive), the winner takes it all.

Whatever your thoughts on the new system, I can see those headlines being crowbarred in already. Answers on a postcard to the Middlesex Chronicle, marked ‘pun’.

Then again, the only way this could have been bettered is rather than ABBA, the EFL had gone for Diana Ross on the penalty front…..

Nick Bruzon