Tag Archives: channel

From Brentford and brackets to Gibraltar and San Marino.

6 Sep

Brentford fans were left scratching around for interest this weekend, with minimal satisfaction coming from the Euro qualifiers. As expected, England successfully navigated their qualifying group (the easiest since records began) whilst for Gibraltar, although they are starting to find their feet after an international baptism of fire, the Republic of Ireland still presented a tough test as they ran out 4-0 winners on Friday night. There was no Brentford involvement, beyond a brief reminiscence about Stuart Dallas for Northern Ireland although, of course, Lasse Vibe was on the bench for Denmark in a 0-0 at home to Albania.

Instead, the weekend has left more questions about those two perennial debates – ‘minnows’ and brackets. Specifically, should the ‘smaller’ teams be allowed to play with the big boys and, when conceding more than six goals just how should we signify this 7, 7 (seven), 7 (SEVEN), seven or SEVEN?

As a footballing romantic and nostalgic, I’m all for a spot of small team involvement. Equally, I won’t deny a large element of emotional involvement as, having waited years for Gibraltar to finally be given full UEFA membership, the chance to see them test themselves against the great and the good is one I’m loving.

Are they whipping boys at the moment? Unfortunately, the stats would certainly suggest that to be the case although anybody who has seen their games against the likes of Germany, Poland and the Republic will see what strides they have already made. Tougher to break down and a lot less naïve, the boys from the Rock are finding their feet, fast.

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start international life.

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start international life.

The Faroe Islands already have six points from a group in which they have overtaken former Euro Champions Greece whilst Albania have beaten Portugal in their qualifying group. This is the same Portugal who recently lost a home friendly with Cape Verde Islands.

Minnows do get stronger and regular games against a mix of opposition are the way to do it. Not shunting them aside to pre-qualifying where they can only play each other, as seems to be the common suggestion. If this is your logic then just disband qualifying all together and draw the teams for the tournament finals based on seeding.

It only seems like yesterday that England were spannering their own qualification for the World Cup as Davide Gualtieri took less than nine seconds to open the scoring for San Marino with a goal that shook the world. Both teams have grown massively since then, even if England have remained as consistently sub-par when it gets to the tournament itself (Euro 96 aside, and that one they qualified for by default).

Davide Gualtieri opened the scoring against England back in 1994

Davide Gualtieri opened the scoring against England back in 1994

Wales have stepped up the blindside in recent seasons and have moved from 117th ranked team in the world four years ago to the point where a victory against Israel on Sunday could see them deemed the second best team on the planet. Indeed, they are, surely, going to qualify for a first major finals since 1958.

Just to put that into perspective, the teams currently occupying the 117th slot are hardy those we would consider to be traditional powerhouses of international football.

The teams currently in the same spot as Wales, four years ago

The teams currently in the same spot as Wales, four years ago

I could go on. People have very short-term memories and attention spans. I hope UEFA don’t give in to the current clamour emanating from certain circles and give all their members a chance to compete on a level playing field.

That said, games such as yesterday’s 6-0 won’t help the likes of San Marino as they came awfully close to a 7(seven) -0 bracketing. That’s a result that Gibraltar have experienced a couple of times in early qualifying whilst, domestically, former Brentford player/manager Nicky Forster was the unlucky recipient as his Staines Town side went down by that infamous scoreline to Brentwood Town in the Ryman Premier on Saturday.

Nicky Forster (left) formally the deliverer rather than recipient of 7(seven)

Nicky Forster (left) formally the deliverer rather than recipient of 7(seven)

And, as ever in these circles, it prompted the usual questions as to how this should be recorded. One local journalist ended up very much insistent about it being an unbracketed, headline grabbing, SEVEN. For somebody who then used twitter to rally against the vide printer favourite, saying: “Will live in the here and now”, the irony of his bio describing himself as “Ex Woking FC striker” was not lost.

There are others that love the bracket but insist it should be 7 (SEVEN). I’ll spare the regular reader another lecture on the unsubtly and bad sportsmanship of this. A brash, block-capitalled effect to really push home the point that someone has been on the wrong end of a thrashing. It’s gloating for the sake of it.

Clearly, an emotional subject and I don’t think we’ll ever, all, agree. Football is a modern game and one that continues to grow. That said, what’s the harm in a little bit of nostalgia along the way?

And finally, Channel 5 and Football League Tonight. Much as the minnows have been going from strength to strength on the pitch, the same can be said about the latest newcomers off it.

Saturday night was the latest point in case as, despite it being International weekend we actually had a show. In days gone by, Manish and team were shunted to one side when the Championship teams had a break, despite full fixture list in both Leagues One and Two.

So fairplay to Kelly, George and the rest of the production team for still bringing us a show. The disasters that plagued the series openers are a distant memory already and, last night, the biggest problem seemed to be Adam Virgo. More to the point, his sporting of a collared shirt with the top button done up but no tie.

Yet if a pundit’s dress sense (something all channels have suffered from over the years) is the worst we’ve got to worry about then things must definitely be moving in the right direction.

Rio Ferdinand and the BBC panel have had their own fashion problems

Rio Ferdinand and the BBC panel have had their own fashion problems

Nick Bruzon

Is there any Bank holiday fallout or just some perspective?

31 Aug

Calmed down yet after the Reading result? Some Brentford fans were sending Twitter into a GPG level of meltdown last night with a series of rants that were as tragic as they were hilarious. I love this club as much as anybody but we’re only played four league games this season. Brentford have an identical record to Chelsea (P4 W1 D1 L2) and victory in the ‘games in hand’ will take us to within a point of the play offs.

Absolutely, some of the ‘sideways’ football being played has been at odds with what we have been used to recently but as has been said before, we do have a new team. Likewise, the sale and replacement of club favourites has been frustrating for many and I can well sympathise with that, too.

If anything, we’ve been spoiled rotten by success over the previous four or five seasons. I’ve seem some real dross at Griffin Park in the 35+ years I’ve been a supporter yet the last few campaigns have been nothing brilliant. We don’t have a divine right to win anything or buy our way to the top like Chelsea or Manchester City (who found another £55 million just yesterday for Kevin de Bruyne).

Instead, I’d love to see some positivity and get some perspective. And let’s start with the head coach. It would be wonderful if Marinus could get involved a bit with the players or with the fans. This may not be his style and he may not feel he needs to but, come on man, go through the motions at the very least.

Clearly he has passion and cares – look at the tongue-lashings administered to the fourth officials. So why does this not carry over to the crowd or the players – at least in the public eye?

Marinus can cut a lone figure as he observes the 'action'

Marinus can cut a lone figure as he observes the ‘action’

It’s amazing the psychological impact that having a manager (whatever) who seems to give a damn can have on the supporters. I wrote yesterday that this lack of interaction, “still sits uncomfortably with me. It really will be something we all have to adjust to over the coming months.” And adjust we will, but it would be nice if Marinus could make some attempt to meet us half way.

Then there are the fans at Griffin Park. Supporter James Norwood contacted me yesterday with his own thoughts on the atmosphere, or lack of, saying:

“I have never, ever seen Griffin Park so silent. Seen, as I couldn’t hear anything, except the Reading fans who cheered on their team throughout. The score line and the teams’ on field efforts reflected the silence. I tweeted as such and many Reading fans (unfortunately) retweeted it. These are young men and they got minimal support from the stands.

The entire first half, we applauded but we never sang a note. The vocal fans from Berkshire helped out with choruses of “Your support is f*****g s**t,” and “shall we sing a song for you.” No wonder we were 2 nil down by the break and lucky not to be 5 nil down.”

He goes on with his analysis, noting: “How different from the atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium and the free flowing football thanks to the referee Martin Atkinson, who offered a refreshing approach after the disaster of the referee who officiated our match with Reading and in the words of Belle and Sebastian “gave us f**k all.”

I am a Brentford fan and I have been so since 1992 and will be until the day I die, but I have never known any other club to give so little in terms of vocal support. Yes, we pay, yes we show up, and yes we are great critics, but we’re not great supporters and that translates into the players confidence on the field.

Maxime Colin, in his Brentford website interview ahead of his first game said “I hope that I will play my first home game on Saturday. My friends tell me that the fans are very loud and strongly behind the team.” I think he was thinking about another team.“

Ok. Time for a bit of positivity with the ‘other stuff’ from the weekend. Amidst all the noise I’ve not seen much mention of how well the pitch took following the previously documented debacle. As one observer on the New Road noted: ‘No holes or sand, took the water well and played nicely when we bothered

At least that is one area we should, all being well, not need to worry about ongoing.

The pitch (c/o James Norwood) looked lot better than Reading's kit

The pitch (c/o James Norwood) looked lot better than Reading’s kit

And then there was Channel 5 and their latest episode of Football League Tonight. It seems they have taken further feedback on board with another attempt to remove the gormless planks standing behind Kelly and George from our eyeline.

I don’t mean Adam Virgo but, rather, the additional supporters loitering near the ‘big screens’ and studio walls, cluttering up every interview shot.

Whilst a few still remained visible, the vast majority are now ‘off camera’, meaning we could focus on the (still somewhat awkward) interviews.

These loitering numpties are a thing of the past . Virgo remains

These loitering numpties are a thing of the past . Virgo remains

This show lurched onto our screens as a screaming car crash but the producers have, to be fair, listened to what supporters want and, over the course of the next few weeks, moved to a more traditional model.

There’s a crowbarred analogy I could stick in here but not even I’m that unsubtle. Instead, let’s just all have some faith.

And, finally, Jota has had a haircut. The talismanic midfielder may currently be suffering from an ankle injury but he took to social media at the weekend (Instantgram, I believe) to show off his new look. I’ll leave the sartorial comments to his admirers, of whom there seem to be a few, and instead let’s just hope this throws any would-be suitors off the scent ahead of the transfer window slamming shut on Tuesday.

Same player; new hair. Move along, there's no Jota here

Same player; new hair. Move along, there’s no Jota here

Injury blues, red cards, 3 points and the verdict on Football League Tonight

16 Aug

A Bees win by any scoreline will do me. At the end of a difficult week, it would be a shot in the arm for everyone.” Not my words but those of Brentford CEO Mark Devlin ahead of our trip to Bristol City. However, even he would have been doing well to predict the outcome of this one as the Bees surged to third place in the fledgling table. And after the game there was the latest attempt from Chanel 5 to restore some credibility to the terrestrial highlights with the latest episode of Football League Tonight.

A 4-2 scoreline only tells half the story of a game that saw City end with ten men after Luke Freeman was shown a straight red by referee Keith Stroud (who else??) for a boot to the head of Harlee Dean. Indeed, the hosts were lucky not to end on 9 after James Tarkowski suffered what Marinus described as a ‘badly broken nose’ following an elbow from City captain Aaron Wilbraham.

Tarks posted this post match selfie on Twitter

Tarks posted this post match selfie on Twitter

Goals from Alan Judge and Andre Gray sandwiched an o.g. from Derrick Williams. Philipp Hofmann rounded things off to complete a heavy win for Brentford who made it six goals, and unbeaten, from our opening two league games. As ever, should you want the full match report then I’d suggest the BBC, official site or Beesotted.

Moreso as I had to give this one a wide berth for family reasons, so wasn’t even able to follow on Beesplayer although social media suggest that might not have been such a bad thing in this instance.

Roxeth on Beesplayer

Who provided the summary? And was this tongue in cheek?

Bees fans would have been ecstatic to see Andre starting, despite the constant rumours linking him with a move from Griffin Park. Marinus made it quite clear after the game that we want to keep him although was unclear if that would happen, adding “there is a lot of money in England and sometimes money talks”.

It does now beg the question as to whether Matthew Benham will look to ‘cash in’ or make Andre an offer he can’t refuse (although presumably not Vito Corleone style). Just how much is a player who can find the back of the net so frequently worth?

Besides, would Brentford really want to lose another player after the awful run of form that saw Andreas Bjelland join the long term casualty list in midweek with a cruciate injury that has ruled him out for the season? And to that you can also add Jota who missed the Bristol City game with an ankle problem. It is an injury that Marinus subsequently told Beesplayer would see him “ out for three or four months.

Nobody needs any reminding of the Spanish midfielder’s ability and this may also go some way to explaining the shenanigans at the end of the Ipswich Town game, where he and Jonathan Douglas appeared to have had a falling out. It was one which culminated in the former Bee swinging an arm at Jota as the Bees celebrated our last minute draw.

Eagle eyed Beesplayer viewers saw Dougie's 'girly slap'

Eagle eyed Beesplayer viewers saw Dougie’s ‘girly shove’

Still, if this was more bad news for Marinus after our cup exit, I have to give him huge credit for the team he picked. After criticising our head coach for his post match reaction towards his young players on Tuesday (something I stand by), fair play for naming Jermaine Udumaga, Josh Clarke and Courtney Senior on the bench for a high pressure game.

The other thing to catch the attention yesterday was an uncanny parallel to the last time we played Bristol City, a 3-1 win at Griffin Park back in January 2014.

That was a game which also saw City gift the Bees an own goal, from Aden Flint. Whilst Derrick Williams was the provider this time around, that previous match also saw him struggle with what was described at the time as, “The worst free kick I’ve ever seen…. rather than deliver a killer deadball into the box from 25 yards, (he) simply bobbled the ball directly out of play for a goal kick to Brentford. It went closer to the corner flag than the goal and was an effort that made Miguel Llera seem like Gazza.”

And so to the real elephant in the room – Channel 5. Saturday night saw their latest attempt to replace Manish and crew with ‘Football League Tonight’. Their opening show of the season had, rightly, been met with a barrage of almost universal despair as swiveling league tables, awkward audience members, confused pundits and cringey ‘banter’ all nestled alongside the random sequence of match highlights to make a show that was messier than James Tarkowski’s nose.

Well, let’s give Channel 5 some credit. Whilst not, officially, acknowledging their previous failings, Kelly Cates strode in front of the cameras to announce that, “Over the next ninety minutes we’ll bring you all of the goals and the best of the action – in order.

And that’s what we got. The league ladders that looked as though they have been plonked on kebab shop skewers remained although at least they waited until the end of the Championship highlights to show them. And then, they had already been ‘rotated’.

The awkward looking audience members were another reminder of last week’s season opener – something I understand will be remaining (watch this space…) – whilst Jamie Cureton’s trousers were somewhat disconcerting. Actually, just the presence of Jamie Cureton is somewhat disconcerting although us Brentford fans have personal reasons on that score.

However, overall you have to say that, much like Marinus against Oxford , the team at Channel 5 have learnt from their mistakes.

Some things remained despite 'lessons learned' for Channel 5

Some things remained despite ‘lessons learned’ for Channel 5

Nick Bruzon

Could this be the new Best Worst Film Ever?

31 Jul

Sometimes there is more to life than Brentford and football. Every now and again you need to step back, put the Wigan Athletic / Adam Forshaw stories to one side and enjoy the other things that life has to offer. The Championship – and resuming rivalries with the likes of Wolves and Fulham – may be a mere nine days away but on Thursday, for one night only, football will be the last thing on my mind.

The time: 9pm.

The place: Syfy Channel (sky 114).

The reason: Sharknado 2: The Second One

This is (of course) the sequel to Sharknado – a movie universally acclaimed to be the ‘best worst film ever’. Starring Ian Ziering (out of Beverly Hills 90210, apparently) it told the story of what happened when freak storms swamped Los Angeles with thousands of hungry sharks.

This time the action is transplanted to New York where, somehow, the improbable events of the original are recreated and – if the review in today’s Telegraph is to be believed – become even bigger.

This film really exists - and you can see it tonight

This film really exists – and you can see it tonight

I love football and I’m desperate to see Brentford in action. However, this evening I’ll be ditching the Bees and Wolves to enjoy the calm before the Championship storm with the mayhem and bad acting of a shark infested one.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

 

And if you want to read about football, you can still catch up on how we reached the Championship. ‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’ (The story of Brentford’s 2013/14 promotion campaign, amongst other football related chatter) – is now available as a digital book. Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from last season, and some new content, you can download it here for your kindle / digital device.

You could always swap the sharks to read how the Bees got promoted

You could always swap the sharks to read how the Bees got promoted