Tag Archives: Charlie Macdonald

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.

Marinus Oxford touchline

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

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Ricky Shakes Bees as Jack joins Blades

9 Jul

The rumour mill has done it again, in part, as Jack O’Connell’s move from Brentford to Sheffield United was confirmed yesterday. With the other subject for discussion, Alan McCormack, taking part in our 2-1 defeat to Boreham Wood despite being reported to have held talks with Southend United the future is less clear there.

First up, Jack O’Connell . He leaves Griffin Park for Bramall Lane, having spent 18 months and featured 18 times for Brentford. The signing of John Egan made it 5 centre backs on the books and so it was perhaps inevitable that there would be some outward movement in that position. With Yoann Barbet more than demonstrating his ability last season, full Danish international Andreas Bjelland back from that horrendous injury and Harlee Dean (who it is hard to believe is still only 24) well established perhaps Jack has just found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Jack O'Connell signs

Jack has swapped Bees for Blades

It’s a real shame on an individual level. I really thought he had the making of a great player. Correction, I think Jack has the makings of a great player.  It just won’t be with the Bees.

Jack looked like he might be forging a partnership with James Tarkowski at one point around Christmas time. He had , of course, stepped in to replace Harlee after a three game ban for seeing red against Nottingham Forest (granted, a moment that saw the visitors’ Jonathan Williams collapse like a sack of spuds before a Lazarus style recovery). It was a period that saw us earn 5 points out of 9 and one which culminated in his equaliser in the 2-2 draw at Fulham.

The fans went delirious and, but for a rogue linesman, the Bees would conceivably have gone on to pick up all three points that afternoon. Jack’s reward, keeping his place for the next game at Cardiff City despite Harlee’s ban having been served. Sadly, it wasn’t to be and a 3-2 defeat saw him consigned once more to the bench.

Like Alfie Mawson and Will Grigg last season, players have shown they can leave  Griffin Park for League 1 and earn a return to the Championship. Sheffield United have ‘been there and done it’ many times before. I have no doubt in the potential of Jack to help them do it again. Good luck !

The other transfer story doing the rounds surrounded Alan McCormack , supposedly holding talks with Southend United. Those who made the trip to Boreham Wood or tuned in to hear Mark Burridge and Charlie MacDonald describe the action on Bees Player HD would have been well aware that last night he was lining up for the Bees.

What can you say about that game? Not much, beyond well done to a Boreham Wood side who were missing Yakubu. (Yes. That one) but featured former Bees cult hero Ricky Shakes.

It was a pre-season loosener after we’ve been back in training for about five minutes and they won. Nicely done, Boreham. Dean Smith certainly made his feelings clear in the post match interview that talked of a great exercise in which he got exactly what he wanted. You can read more of that one on the official site.

For the Bees, of course a victory by any margin would have been nice but what would it have told us? Not much. Traditionally, these games see multiple players used and this was once more the case. Dean Smith picking two almost entirely different line ups with Lasse Vibe, Romaine Sawyers, Dan Bentley, Josh McEachran, Alan Judge and Sam Saunders amongst the notable absentees.

On the plus side, Lewis Macleod is fit. And scored. This is huge. Like Scott Hogan, a player with huge potential but one who has faced the best part of 18 months out of action. Here’s hoping that like Scott, all the pain and effort reaps a just reward.

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The Bees, in sponsor free kit, lost out by the odd goal in three

Then again, this does give head coach Dean Smith even more of a challenge as to whom he picks from an already voluminous set of midfield options.  Romaine Sawyers is in whilst Lewis is, cliché alert, ‘like a new signing‘. With John Swift back at Chelsea, Sergi Canos at Liverpool / ?  and Jota on loan (surely that will just be a matter of time before, sadly, formalities are completed) what next ?

Alan Judge continues his return from injury although the pessimist in me suspects that once fit, he’ll be the subject of renewed interest from a whole host of suitors. But it is the question of Macca that really intrigues. The iron fist within our velvet glove of a midfield, is a player of his style a thing of the past or do we still need that tough tackling and experience?

For me Clive, it’s the later. This is the Championship, not a nursery. Will he start every game? Unlikely. Do we have an alternative with his steel when needed? I can’t see one at the moment.

And that’s not meant as any disrespect to any of the wonderful individuals we are assembling in a truly impressive squad. But a bit of variety can only be a good thing and, personally, I’d love to see a player with his very particular set of skills, skills acquired over a long career, retained on the Griffin Park playing staff. They are skills that make him a nightmare for opponents but will Dean and the team decide they are still needed?

Here’s hoping the right decision is taken.

Nick Bruzon 

And finally…. :   The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. For all the info, the highs, the lows, more highs then  you can do so now.

Its been a wonderful three years. Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading.

 

Return of the Mac will see first look at our future

19 Jul

Finally, it feels as though things are getting closer. There has been plenty of build up from Brentford supporters, the club and the press alike but pre-season prep cranks up a notch today after what seems an interminable wait since Middlesbrough got one over us in the play off semis. With the Mark Warburton saga finally being closed out following his move to Rangers, and those incessant transfer rumours going silent, for now (Andre Gray to QPR, Hull City, just about anywhere being the chief concern) perhaps we can concentrate on the business at hand. A match. At Boreham Wood.

Sunday afternoon sees a 3pm fixture against the National League (former Conference) outfit who have recently been strengthened by none other than Charlie MacDonald. But it is less the opposition that is of interest than fans’ first chance to see Marinus and his team in action, first hand.

Hopefully not a sign of things to come

Just two of several posts promoting pyrotechnics

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, it’s the annual clean up to make more space on the site for the inevitable follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are ! 

The A-Z of the season, so far

21 Sep

With no game this Saturday and a rather slow news week for Brentford, I thought I’d catch my breath to look at the season, so far. So here it is,  using the oh so desperate medium of an A to Z list ….

A – Adidas. Our technical sponsor and shirt supplier (in theory). I said my piece on them in the previous column.

B – Beach. The preferred holiday destination of our former number one, if Herr Rösler is to be believed. (Just who is that watching the volleyball in Cardiff? below).

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C – Carlisle. A bizarrely disallowed goal for Toumani Diagouraga was about all we could take home from a game that ended up being an insomniac’s wet dream. 0-0 and, to paraphrase the famous Shankley-ism, both sides were lucky to get nil.

D – Donaldson. Guess who’s back? Clayton’s back. On form, that is. His wining goal against Walsall was followed up with two more against Tranmere.

E – El-Alagui.  Farid is fit again. Farid is scoring again. A last gasp equaliser at Gillingham and a virtuoso performance against AFC Wimbledon in the JPT. C’est magnifique!

F – Fulham. Comedy opportunities were taken down a level with the news this week that they are returning the Michael Jackson statue to Mr Al Fayed. No idea what he will do with this but please, Mr Benham, don’t get any ideas…

G – Goalkeepers. David Button, Jack Bonham, Richard Lee and Liam O’Brien. How many have we named already? And with rumours flying around at one point that Simon may have ben returning on loan, who knows who will be between the sticks by the end of the campaign.  Great to see Richard fit again, and my money is on him!

H – Hammered. It happens. We’ve had it at Derby and Bradford, conceding a total of nine goals without reply. What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger – just no more repeats, please: -)

I – Internationals. Brentford’s (not, on loan’s) Will Grigg has come off the bench twice for Northern Ireland in recent months. He featured in the shock win against Russia and then again as the team came back down to earth in the Luxembourg game

J – JPT. The Bees have successfully negotiated the first two rounds of a competition that represents an excellent opportunity to finally lay the hoodoo of the ‘W’ place. Next up, Peterborough (a).

K – Keith Stroud. Has carried on where he left off last season, having shown 29 yellows and two reds in the 6 (six) games he has officiated so far this season. A stat so shocking it has necessitated the rarely seen  ‘pre-seven’ bracket.

L – Lionel Road with a small, but vocal minority making noises against the current scheme to build a new stadium, have you sent in your support yet? The club have made it very easy so please do get involved. Every response counts.

M – McAleny. The excitement, the ability, the horrendous bad luck. Conor was looking like another lad straight out of the Goodison Park barrel marked ‘talent’, until that awful injury put paid to his Brentford career after just three appearances. Get well soon.

N – Ninth. Where Brentford currently sit, as it stands. Only eight places off their anticipated final position.

O – O’Connor, Kevin. – With our club captain back to fitness, ‘Mr Brentford’ is getting ever closer to that 500th appearance. Full back; centre back; centre mid. Is there anything he can’t do? Has definitely recovered from the terrible injury and even worse video-bombing (below) he suffered last season.

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(Harlee Dean, allegedly, over the moon about his work on Beesplayer)

P -Penalty. We’ve scored one! Adam Forshaw has written himself into Brentford history by converting from the spot in open play. The goal, against Tranmere, secured the three points for Brentford.

Q – Qatar Airways. Still getting a free advert on the roof of the New road Stand. Come on, marketing crew….

R – Rainbow laces. Here’s hoping the boys will be showing their support to the anti-homophobia campaign on Monday night. Uwe’s backing it, as he told visitors to the club website this week.

S – Sky. Cripes, we are back in front of the Sky cameras on Monday v Leyton Orient. Nobody needs reminding how it went last time that happened.

T – Tranmere – ‘It ain’t over till it’s over’, sang pop music’s Lenny Kravitz on his 1991 hit parade troubling single.  Tell that to Tranmere Rovers. They were dancing in the vomitories of Prenton Park after pulling it back to 3-3 in the 90th minute. Until Adam Forshaw popped up, deep into injury time, to help bag the win.

U – United. Sheffield were trounced 3-1. (and that only tells half the story) on a sunny afternoon at Griffin Park. Adam Forshaw’s first half strike eclipsing Shaleum Logan’s from the previous week as an early contender for goal of the season.

V – Venta – another signing straight out of left field. Javi, a champion’s league veteran, is as comfortable queuing with the fans in the burger queue as he is on the pitch.

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W – Window (transfer)  – flippin’ ‘eck, Uwe! Marcello Trotta. A ballsy move but I hope, a brilliant one. Hasn’t been given a massive opportunity so far due to the red card incident at Bradford but the patches we have seen suggest this could be inspired stuff.

X – eX players. There are a few doing the rounds. Highlights include Charlie McDonald becoming acquainted with the penalty box at Oldham and Gary Alexander’s Van Bastenesque effort for Crawley as they stunned league high fliers Peterborough. However, the real surprise is seeing Lewis Grabban banging them in for fun at Bournemouth in the Championship.

Y – Yeovil Town. Oh dear.  Seeing them being torn apart on the Football League Show every weekend is so frustrating, knowing just how much better than them we would have been. If ever there was an incentive needed to get over the line this season, there it is.

Z – Zones. As it stands Brentford are only one point outside the dreaded play off zone (PLEASE get those four needed to take us into an automatic place).