Tag Archives: Chelsea

Will it be more of the same on Saturday?

26 Aug

Saturday afternoon’s visit from Everton approaches at speed. Thank goodness. It only seems like five minutes ago Brentford were edged out at Fulham by the host’s late, late winner. It was a game that swung back and forth more often than the Drayton Manor Pirate Ship ride but, in the end, The Bees ended up victims to our own slow start. That was then. This is now. In between we’ve progressed to the third round of the League Cup at Colchester United and have been rewarded with the tantalising prospect of a visit from Gillingham. A tie that offers up a chance of progression / potato skin (delete as a you see fit), a further opportunity to stretch the squad and an extra bit of work for the team behind the Matchday programme. Enjoy. For now, though, it’s all about the battle between the former Burnley centre backs.  

The other way, Mads…. Move along. Nothing to see here in the FA Cup

Last season saw The Bees loving Premier League life with The Toffees beaten twice (we won’t talk about the FA Cup debacle). 1-0 at home and then 3-2 at Goodison Park. The first game was as turgid as the reverse fixture exciting. Richarlison doing what he does. Likewise Rico Henry. Amongst others. Everton ending it with 9 men and still deep in the relegation mire with only two games to go. In the end, they survived  – despite being humped 5-1 at Arsenal in the final game. Midweek victory over Crystal Palace, combined with Burnley tripping up and our own huge, huge disappointment in letting Leeds United off the hook mean we get the chance to do it all again.

With the season three games old, it would be fair to say Brentford and Everton have had contrasting starts. The Bees squad has only got stronger with Aaron Hickey and Ben Mee settling straight in. Keane Lewis-Potter impressed at Fulham and Colchester although is an injury doubt. Then there’s Mikkel Damsgaard who made a first start in the same game and could well now make an appearance at Lionel Road. 

For Everton, the sale of Richarlison must have been the most inevitable but gut-wrenching moment of the summer. Ben Godfrey then suffered serious injury in the opening day to defeat to Chelsea whilst the same club are now though to be in the box seat to sign Anthony Gordon ahead of Thursday evening’s transfer window slamming shut(tm).

On pitch, Brentford have twice had the ‘game of two halves’ on the road. Going 2-0 down at Leicester City in the season opener would eventually end in us ‘only’ managing a 2-2 draw. It could have been all three points. The same happened at Fulham where despite their early brace, The Cottagers were eventually pegged back before Aleksander Mitrovic did that thing in the 90th. 

It was so good, for so long

In between, there was the game at home to Manchester United. There are no more words needed about what happened in that one. The net result (aside from our three points) being Monday evening’s TV game between United and Liverpool saw The Bees name checked virtually every minute. Woebtide anybody playing the ‘Brentford’ drinking game. Two fingers per mention? I’d have been under the table by the time Jason Sancho scored their first goal. Contrast that to the weekend prior when he’d been robbed by MOTM Mathias Jensen to set up that quite incredible fourth goal in the 34th minute.

Everton, meanwhile, lost the aforementioned visit from Chelsea and then achieved the same ‘nil points’ at Aston Villa. An 88th minute point was earned at home to Nottingham Forest last week but it is a campaign which would seem to have picked up where last season’s left off. Manager Frank Lampard, as well known for being the  former boss of Frank Lampard’s Derby County, must be wondering when his luck will change. 

Football is never that simple of course. Those thinking this is a case of ‘home banker’ need to look again. If nothing else, there’s that little bit of Brazilian magic lurking in the Everton squad that can be summed up in one word: Allan. They’ve also got another name we are all well, well familiar with. Number 26. The battle of the former Burnley centre backs will likely see him and Ben Mee share the same pitch for the first time since the Clarets played their part in keeping Everton up. Burnley’s relegation being to both our clubs’s benefit with out of contract players electing to stay in The Premier League. For now. 

Number 26

Which is what may well play to our advantage. Think Kurt Zouma when West Ham visited last season. Think Christian Eriksen for the Manchester United game. Harlee Dean with Birmingham City. His comments, of course, inspiring us to play ten times better. Certain players and situations engender certain responses. Let’s not even go down the Martin Rowlands wormhole.

I can only imagine the reception 26 will get every time he goes near the ball. The memory of his refusal to play against a Burnley team whom he would move to shortly after is one that lives on. Football fans are like elephants in that respect. Never forget. Moreso given the subsequent explanation – one to rank along side a dog eating the homework or Bristol City and the closed covid lab.

I’m sure the narrative will be that crowd reaction is part of the game. Players are well used to it and blank these things out. That we should be better than resorting to such an approach from the stands. Bollocks to all of it. He’s an opposition player and once that whistle goes, all bets are off. The crowd do what the crowd do. And they do it bloody well. Look at Zouma backing off (although that was also quite a large part Norgaard !!) . Look at Eriksen dithering in the first two goals (although  that was also quite a large pard David de Gea). Look at Harlee Dean – that one was all him as his team were blown apart.

That Kurt Zouma thing – my suggestion for programme cover was politely declined

So come Saturday afternoon, we’ll absolutely be playing for all three points and doing whatever we have to do. Brentford are a win off second place in the nascent table. The thought of getting back in to the Champions League places is a tantalising one. For that, I do feel for the Everton team and their fans  – of whom I know many. Some. Well two.

They generally seem like a decent bunch who love their club as passionately as we do ours. A club that, like ours, is made up with supporters from the heart of the community rather than the heart of a travel agency. Cripes, I still can’t get over how deadly, deadly dull the atmosphere at Anfield was last season.  See also: Old Trafford (limp protest) and Stamford Bridge (fire drill in a library). At least Goodison Park was rocking.

Everton fans – including DJ Andy Bush – are always top value

Still, that’s been and gone. For now there’s only one topic under discussion. Can Brentford beat Everton? Bring on Saturday afternoon when we find out. I can’t wait. See you there.

Until then, if you want to read more the post-match debrief and top five player review for the Fulham game can be found here. If nothing else, I could really do with the hits so please do take a look. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

Brilliant Brentford batter United.

14 Aug

Is this what they mean by ‘second season syndrome’? Saturday evening saw Brentford write yet another incredible chapter in a story which continues to leap from the pages of a Hollywood movie script. If last season’s home opener against Arsenal had been a nice kick about with the boys, this was a full on bullying. A 4-0 spanking of Manchester United was a performance to rival the destruction of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season. The Bees utterly dominant and scoring goals for fun. Each attack leading to another one on the board and, in the end, the only disappointment being that we didn’t make it to the 7(seven) goal bracketing of United that seemed more than possible with little more than half an hour played. Frank out !!  

At least in the Chelsea game our hosts had been vaguely involved. On Saturday, Brentford didn’t allow Manchester United the chance to even step foot in the game. The Bees on them from the off. Even the camaraderie seen in our pre kick-off huddle compared to our visitor’s standing around listlessly in their puke green kits telling you all you needed to know about the mental approach. There were points to be both won and proven here. The narrative around Christian Eriksen allegedly ‘saving our season‘ (yawn) being put to bed in a style that even the good people at Dormeo would have appreciated. 

What came next was like nothing seen at Lionel Road. The ferocity of approach up there with the play-off semi. United on the back foot from the off. Brentford hounding their rivals. Running with the ball. Passing it around with aplomb. Mathias Jensen on fire. Christian Eriksen greeted with a cacophony of boos every time he got near the ball. What must he be thinking now? “Left for the money” sung the crowd, amongst other things. He’s walked in to a living nightmare and one which only got worse with every passing minute.  Man U? More like Manure.

Within ten minutes, Brentford were ahead. Josh Dasilva receiving the ball from Jensen, drifting across to a shooting position and lashing it low from well outside the box. David de Gea should have stopped it but instead, all he could do was let it squeeze through him and into the back of the net. It was a good shot and let’s also credit the build up of pressure as a contributory factor. David Raya at the other end seeing his squad position for Spain moving up another notch.  

Credit, too, for the way Jensen took the ball off Roanldo to provide the assist. The tantrum prone stropmeister then left sitting on his haunches for a good 30 seconds after the ball had hit the back of the net. Like Eriksen, all his nightmares coming true. Unlike Eriksen, he had no fight. No stomach for a battle. Instead of getting up to inspire his team his game descended into a series of theatrical dives and hissy fits. One thumping of the pitch in frustration having the entire North stand in fits of laughter. 

An overprivileged show pony who should have been leading by example. Instead, his petulance and ego only contributing to United’s demise.

Get over yourself, Ronaldo

But if Josh had put us into dreamland with that early goal it was nothing compared to what came next. Jensen doubling the lead after de Gea played a woeful pass out of defence to Eriksen ( think Alvaro Fernandez at Anfield levels of bad) who was sold totally up the river. Jensen reacting quickest and cleverest to nick the ball and with a beautiful shimmy, create the space for 2-0. The cheers as loud as the Bees were brilliant. 

Two became three as Ivan Toney plopped it straight on to Ben Mee’s head in a crowded box and then, with 34 minutes gone, the pick of the bunch. Jensen again at the heart of everything. He won the ball off of Jaden Sancho in our box and played a delightful ball half up the pitch straight to Toney. His own first touch then delivering an exquisite raking pass on the diagonal straight to the feet of the on running Mbeumo. Luke Shaw’s clumsy challenge on th edge of the box evaded and the ball stroked home for 4-0. FOUR. NIL. Brentford 4-0 up against Manchester United with little more than a half hour played. My word. 

There it stayed until half-time. I genuinely expected United to come back out in different kits, blaming the shirt colour for blending in with the grass as the true reason for the absolute shoeing they’d received. Instead, there was more of that vile green which I’ll be amazed should it ever see ther light of day again. Equally, I expected them to come out at 100mph – Erik ten Hag having delivered the mother of all team talks. Instead, there was nothing. Sure, a bit more endeavour but no real chances. Instead, Aaron Hickey showing that his flattening of Ronaldo meant that we weren’t going to roll over in the second period.   

4-0 it stayed. It could have been more. Probably should have been more. Yet to be upset with ‘only’ ending the game third in the Premier League and with one of our greatest results ever under the belt would be nothing short of churlish. The full time celebrations showing just what it meant to everyone inside the stadium. That Manchester United were terrible is their problem. You still have to beat your opponents and Brentford did it in a style that made the world sit up and take notice. 

Full time as enjoyable as ever

One had to feel for their supporters. Obliterated by Brentford and their misery further compounded by the RMT strike meaning all trains back to Surrey were cancelled.

Or, should that be, almost all their supporters. Professional gobshite Terry Christian was still giving it large before the game. This, despite last season’s gloating having already blown up spectacularly in his face. Some people never learn. 

Still, that’s his problem. For me and for Brentford fans it was another beautiful afternoon. Another of those times you have to pinch yourself to see just how far we’ve come. Ten years ago we were drawing 0-0 with Bury at Gigg Lane. I was there for that one and now, well….  

It was demonstration that all the money in the world counts for naff all when you are that shambolic. That, ultimately, you cannot put a price on team spirit and mindset. 

All the talk coming into the game was about Christian Eriksen. All the talk coming out of it was about Mathias Jensen. He was incredible. Let’s not pretend otherwise. The star man awards (how to pick 5 out of 16 I have no idea) are now up and you can find them here. Otherwise, perhaps might just go and watch Match Of The Day once more. Think we may be first up. 

Jensen – a work of art

Nick Bruzon

New season. New team. New kit? Here we go!

7 Aug

Finally. We’re off. Trains, possibly planes and a few automobiles will be filled with Brentford fans making the trip to Leicester City for Sunday afternoon’s 2pm kick off. Of course, it should have happened already but all we can say is that hopefully everyone enjoyed the carnival that caused our second Premier League season to be pushed back a day. Instead, Saturday was spent enduring Fulham and their clappers at home to Liverpool aswell as watching Everton pick up where they left off last season when going down to Chelsea. Sitting on the sidelines watching the others enjoy (or not) their moment on TV wasn’t the start we were hoping for after but better late than never. Today is the day. The game is on. 

Last season was immense. There aren’t the words to describe how much fun it was being a Brentford fan. How exciting. Although from all my summer reading, safe to say that Greville Waterman has given it his very best shot (available from all good booksellers now).  How our wonderful Brentford team took the Prem by the scruff of the neck from that opening night defeat of Arsenal to sit top of the pack. How we kicked on from there and, but for the injury to David Raya, might well have ended up in the realms of Fantasy Football.  

As it is, our final position of 13th was a huge achievement and above just about everybody’s predictions. A campaign where a wonderful start and finish bookended a downturn in results that, if nothing else, was a timely reminder that a season is played out over 38 games rather than a dozen. Where the trashing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the destruction of West Ham (twice) and Kurt Zouma, Pontus at Vicarage Road, the craziness of the 3-3 with Liverpool and the League game at Everton were amongst so many memorable moments. So many dreams that somehow came true. Now, we have the chance to do it all over again. 

Chelsea (a) up there with the very best moments of last season

We looked yesterday at the summer and personal plans for the season going forward – you can see that here. Today, it is all about the immediacy of the Leicester City game. About opponents who did the double over Brentford last season. Getting some payback would be extremely well received, that’s for sure.

Our hosts will, of course, be missing talismanic goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel who has signed for Nice. Ricardo Pereira and Harvey Barnes are also absent with injury whilst the rumours surrounding James Maddison and Wesley Fofana haven’t stopped circulating.

The Bees, on the other hand, are about as set as we can be. The injury enforced absence of Ethan Pinnock and Kris Ajer will see new signings Ben Mee and Aaron Hickey start this one. Pontus and Rico completing the defence in front of David Raya. A midfield trio of Norgaard, Janelt and Jensen will provide the ammo for our front three of Wissa, Bryan and Ivan Toney.  

It is as strong and exciting as one could hope for. Especially given the injuries and Christian Eriksen’s decision to sit on the Old Trafford bench. Ahh, money. One can’t knock an individual for their decision but the emotional investment made, and now left lying on the vomitary floor, still feels far too raw to be able to ignore.   

It’s over – but we’ll always have the green jacket

On the flip side, from our likely starting XI Wissa in particular is my man to watch. He had a storming end to the last season as he made the transition from squad player to first team regular. He really does provide a wonderful outlet, breaking forward with pace and desperate to perform his trademark goal celebration. The passion is there for all to see. The enthusiasm and the ability to match. More of that would be incredible. 

Those Martin Damsgaard rumours are also kicking around and, if you believe what you read, a deal is imminent. Could he be here in time for the Manchester United game? Amazing though it would be, that’s for then.  For now it is all about how Brentford go. Knowing that one result will not define a season but, as with Arsenal last time out, starting on the front foot. 

Also, am I alone in wondering what colours we will be playing in. Could there be a shock reveal for what Kitman Bob has described as a ‘marmite’ third shirt? He tweeted on Thursday to say that we’d see “Incoming of the marmite kit within a day or 2” . 

Just imagine the reaction as the team unzip their tracksuits at 1.59 to unleash…. who knows what??? 

I can’t wait for any of it. Roll on 2pm. Roll on Leicester City. Let’s do this. ENJOY !!!

Both of these would be incredible

Nick Bruzon

Kitman Bob’s season exclusive and new shirt clues…..

30 Jun

Christian Eriksen this. Manchester United that. It seems that there’s only one subject on everyone’s lips at the moment. Got to love the close (closed?) season. Until such time as Brentford official release a photo of our man brandishing the Pontus Jansson ceremonial biro then supporters can’t be blamed for fearing the worst whilst still hoping for the best. It’s Brentford, innnit?

So we need distraction. Something other than transfer speculation or wondering which team the Great Dane will be lining up for when The Bees host United in the first home game of the campaign. Fortunately (your definition may vary, given the normal standard of content on these pages) we have it. An exclusive from inside the club. From the legend that is Kitman Bob who has taken the time out whilst on his own summer hols to share his thoughts on the season just gone. On everything from pre-season to our 2022/23 shirt (it’s coming, folks…..).

The legend that is Bob Oteng

Sure. You could sweat over Manchester United.

You could carry on panicking over our apparent lack of summer signings….. 😉

One might even dream that we’ve copied Partick Thistle in their, alleged, kit design for 2022/23. No idea if this leaked image is true but, if so, it’s up their with our own Jaffa cake as one of the best shirts ever….. 

Could we copy Partick Thistle? Is this real? Imagine Buzzette, front and centre…..

All the angst in the world won’t change what may or may not happen between now and the season proper starting at Leicester City on Saturday 6th August. Sorry, Sunday 7th. Forgot about the carnival. Again.

So, instead, sit back and let Kitman Bob do the heavy lifting.

Here’s 2021/22 in his own words……

It’s the Bees’ first season in the Premier League and I don’t know if me or the players are the most excited. Having worked in the Premier League before, this coming season definitely feels different. Everything and everyone around me is different. There’s a different feel and atmosphere around Jersey Road. We were all feeling very exhilarated and we were all seeming to be more introspective so we could  ensure we did what was needed to help each and everyone be successful in the coming months.

Giant murals of the season gone and that day in May… A few new members of staff have joined. Luke my new assistant and Josh to help myself and Jo look after the whole team. ( i couldn’t have survived without those three people).

Having worked at a club previously that had been promoted via the play offs, the following season was one of despair. As records go it’s very rare for a team promoted via the play-offs to maintain their PL status.   BUT we are Brentford and WE do things differently…..

Pre-season is a blur. Normally for me pre-season is a drag. Training game after training game but for the first time in many years I’m looking forward to every game and every training session. To watching the new players. 

It just seems so surreal when the fixtures are announced and you see Brentford versus Arsenal. I scroll down to see when we play Liverpool, Man City and especially where we are on Boxing Day.  Then I try and calculate how many points we will have by the first international break [I’m sure we’ve all done it]. Glad to say I was so far off the mark I stopped doing it after the first international break. 

The afternoon of the first game I look round the dressing room. Admire shirts with the lion on the sleeve gave me a sense of pride and emotion of my time at Brentford and my first game Walsall away in the cup. 

The season opener against Arsenal will be remembered not only by Bees’ fans but many around the world. Post covid, post face masks, its Friday night under the lights and what a night it was. I really didn’t know what to expect, the whole stadium came alive, it was impossible to keep calm with what I was witnessing. I felt that what ever happened this season that night was truly a significant and memorable night for all.

Thomas mirrors what we all felt after that 2-0 defeat of Arsenal

The training ground on the Monday morning had such a great feel vibe but everybody knew it was just the beginning. That we had to keep on working. The players and the coaches seemed more focused than ever. I was enjoying the fact that I didn’t have a game to prepare for in 72 hours and I had a whole six days of preparation.

Four games into the season and we are doing ok. The games seem to be so different with huge atmospheres and stadiums. The Bees away fans seemed to be louder regardless of what the score is and seem to be always out singing the home fans.  (I could even hear them at Newcastle). Now when we win at home the ritual of freed from desire is becoming my new favourite. 

At the point we hit a sticky patch the mood at the training ground never changed from that first game. Staff and players knew we had a plan and there was never any panic or worry amongst us. The signing of Christian Eriksen, I cannot lie, gave the whole place an even bigger boost but on the same level was seeing the return of David Raya.

Christian at the Brentford Training Ground

Watching the games now is the same as early the part of the season. The boys looking comfortable and not out of place. Notably at Chelsea away.  The score put the gloss on the day.

The most significant memory is of how Thomas before and after the game made it feel that this will be the new norm. There was no over the top celebrations – players back to recovering and doing what’s right ready for the next game. 

As we proceeded throughout the remainder of the season so many enjoyable and memorable events on the pitch and off the pitch. Everton away was probably the best atmosphere I have ever encountered. In the portacabin in the car park we could hear the singing and the bees fans. As  we followed the team out the noise was gladiatorial, a sense of a true battle ahead.( It reminded me of certain nights at GP).

Burnley at home was magic, an invisible veil of clam and relax came over everyone. As if to say we will be back to do this all over again !!

What an inaugural season for the Bees.

Chelsea away one of many highlights for Bob

There are lots of changes off the pitch to come.  For me, I’m now looking forward to the release of the new away and 3rd kits and the TWITTER banter to follow. May drop a few hints (kit enthusiast beware there could be a Marmite on the horizon, hopefully soon).

This BUS STOP is different, many outside will say it’s a fairy tale season etc. Fairy tales are dreams. We don’t go to bed knowing what we will dream that night!!

This fairy tale is one that has been scripted( AND STILL IS).  Some would say it just doesn’t happen when you’re part of that script and living it like we all have. 

You know THAT WE ARE BRENTFORD AND WE DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY!!!   SWEET DREAMS ALL..

There’s a new change shirt coming – don’t say you haven’t been warned……

Who will fall apart? How hard might ‘the curse’ bite?

13 May

Come on already Sunday. Our trip to Everton cannot come soon enough with Brentford racing towards the end of the season and desperate to see what our final position may be. Not to mention who will be staying with us in the Premier League in 2022-23. A challenge for which both Leeds United and the Toffees were handed a huge boost when Mike Jackson of Burnley was named manager of the month for April. As if their next game wasn’t a tough enough challenge (Tottenham away), the Turf Moor outfit now have the added albatross of the MOTM curse hanging around their neck. We all know how that one goes – win the award ; lose the next game. Something enshrined in footballing folklore as the only greater harbinger of doom than a pre-match visit from ever popular BBC roving reporter Mark Clemmit.

We’ve covered that ground on these pages many times. Albeit worth recalling the quasi-scientific study undertaken in 2014-15 to try and put some meat on the bones of the claim that any club hosting Clem for a Football League Show feature would subsequently fail to win. A season long analysis followed which saw only 7(seven) victories for teams he visited. Out of 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford. The Hornets lead with all other results going their way, the title was in their grasp. With the BBC showing 90 minutes, Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished at 1-1. The title lost, with the final goal. All under Clem’s watchful eye.

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

I don’t have the figures for Manager Of the Month. Thomas Frank and Brentford can count themselves truly unlucky not to have scooped the prize this time around. 10 points out of 12 including that epic win at Chelsea a sequence that, one would have thought, made him a shoe in.

There you go. I’m happy to see Burnley on fire if that run has put the cat amongst the relegation pigeons. Now Everton and Leeds United are both in the mix. Now, Brentford have a genuine say in who will stay n the Premier League with us next season. Even if Burnley have the added pressure of a game at a Tottenham side whose thumping of Arsenal last night means the race for the Champions League spots is anything but over.

And that’s four…. an April that began at Chelsea not quite enough to see Thomas to the monthly prize

This Sunday is going to be intense. The Burnley game is on BT Sport at 12pm although you’ll need to follow on the wireless / ‘other sources’ if you want to keep pace with Leeds United – Brighton. 

Then, at 4.30pm, Brentford are up on Sky. The Everton game pushed back to this horrific time at the 11th hour, after most fans had already made their  transport chaos inflicted plans, in order to help West Ham prepare for the Europa League final. That worked well. They’ll just have to go on reminiscing about 1966 and the 1980 FA Cup final when it comes to talk of silverware. Trevor Broking with a header, apparently. If only somebody had menti…. etc etc etc 

Brentford, meanwhile, are left with an even trickier job. 5/2 the price on an away win. At least Thomas doesn’t have the extra jinx factor to contend with. That curse is a problem for Mick Jackson although I for one , hope he can beat it in what is sure to be a thriller at Tottenham. Let’s not go too far down that pun stern road though.

Instead, the priority has to be in hoping Everton and Burnley do the least badly out of the three teams slugging it out to join Watford and Norwich City in the Championship. Victory for Brighton, Burnley and Brentford probably the best combination of results. 

If only football was that simple to call. That said, let’s not forget we ran the numbers through a super computer in early April. Despite the mockery that came with that prediction – in both the article and online – the suggestion that Norwich, Everton and Leeds would be the sides sent down is still looking as though 2 out of 3 may be called correctly. Albeit, hands need to be held about Watford’s chances. Truly, I (sorry, the computer algorithms) hadn’t factored just how genuinely abject they were.

Whether it is Everton or Leeds joining the Hornets and Norwich remains to be seen, of course. The next part of that plays out at the weekend and I cannot wait. 

Now, if Clem – who, to be fair, has seen very much a reversal of his anti-form in more recent seasons – could ensure he was set to ‘jinx mode’ and then go visit the Elland Road training ground first, that would be just marvellous.

Beesotted shared this yesterday. Any incentive needed…??

Until then, there’s the post-fact debrief from our last game – the 3-0 defeat of Southampton – for anybody who would to read more. Stranger things and all that…

Nick Bruzon

You’re going to reap just what you sow.

12 May

That’s it. Brentford are officially playing in the Premier League next season. Last night’s 3-0 trashing administered to Leeds United by Chelsea – a game which saw yet another red card for the Elland Road outfit – means the last of the clubs who can technically catch the Bees have spurned the opportunity. With Everton pulling further clear following their 0-0 at Watford, the contrasts between Thomas Frank and Jesse Marsch’s teams couldn’t be greater. 

Mind the f*&king gap indeed. Those final two games are going to be immense.

The table this morning

For Brentford, the top half of the table is still very much the target. Four points the difference between us and a Brighton team currently sitting 9th. To survive in the top flight is an achievement that has already surpassed the expectations of just about every critic and pundit prior to the season kicking off. Genuinely, as anyone who reads these pages will know, I’ve always been confident in our ability. In where we’ll end. In how we’ll go. Even in that patchy period during the winter when wining a game seemed as likely as yours truly being invited to sit in the director’s box. 

Instead, we were given yet another reminder that a season lasts 38 games. Not 7(seven) or 8. The David Raya / green jacket / Christian Eriksen inspired run (delete as applicable) that we’ve enjoyed in the last few months, perfectly supplementing that wonderful start which even saw Brentford go top of the Premier League table after our opening fixture. Fact.

The last few months have seen some key contributions

None of this should be underplayed. A squad of predominantly Championship players not only holding their own but even administering more than a fair share of bloody noses. Liverpool. Chelsea. Arsenal. West Ham (twice) amongst those having the rug pulled from under their feet when it wasn’t expected. The crowd playing their part, too, with Lionel Road and the travelling support seeing the roof more than raised game in, game out. Thomas Frank, staying a tactical step ahead of everyone as the season has moved towards a most exciting conclusion.

Now, there are two games left. We start at an Everton team who will be desperate for another three points to boost their own survival hopes. An Everton team who have rediscovered the path to victory in recent weeks after sliding down the table faster than the BBC viewing figures when Mrs. Brown’s Boys are drafted in to replace Match Of The Day on a snow day.

Every football fan’s worst nightmare

That won’t be easy. Of course Brentford want to win. Of course we are pushing for that top ten finish. Equally, if Thomas Frank wants to use the game to preserve some tired legs. To give a run out to those returning from injury. To perhaps blood a few of the B team then so be it. This is all about the longer term. About next Sunday. About ensuring the squad are in peak shape for the game with Leeds United…

For the simple reasons that we all want to finish the season as we started it. With a win. Should that win come and it have any additional consequences then all well and good. You reap what you sow and one game shouldn’t be seen as the defining point in a campaign. If it is the game that sees us in the right place at the right time then all the better for it.

Of course the combination of Burnley, who have a game in hand, and Neal Maupay may have already determined Leeds’ fate. Brighton are the next visitors to Elland Road. They’ll be looking for the win to lock up their own position in the upper half of the table. There’ll be as many eyes on that one as there are at Goodison Park.

Whatever happens, happens. Personally speaking I’m loving the fact that the Premier League battle has gone all the way. At both ends. Brentford are now in a situation where we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. By which I mean our own league position of course. Whatever happens to anybody else is of their own making. Oh, to be the ones swinging the axe though….

I can’t wait for any of this. See you there. And then in the Premier League next season, too.

Might Neal inflict a fatal blow this Sunday?

Nick Bruzon    

Double fantasy points to one result. Could it happen?

2 May

Four Premier League games to go. Brentford about to face Manchester United in a top flight fixture. Bees with their tails up following an unbeaten April that included the 4-1 trashing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and culminated in last weekend’s 0-0 with Tottenham. A game which, even now, seems bizarre that we ‘only’ took one point. Life is good. Further enhanced by Everton winning yesterday – something which has put the relegation cat amongst the pigeons. All of a sudden Leeds United finding destiny outside of their own hands. That final fixture of the season could be huge. All that’s to come, though. For now we need to focus on matters at hand. Namely our own top ten aspirations and a trip to Old Trafford.

This one really has it all to play for. A win for Brentford will take us to tenth in the table with just three games to play. Manchester United are eating dinner in the last chance saloon if Champions’ League qualification is the aspiration. Like Watford at the other end, only maths are keeping them alive. 8 points from fourth place with three games to play. The Bees with a wonderful chance to pull the plug on their life support before the inevitable blow is dealt by one of the many tams above them winning an actual game. With the Theatre of Dreams (TM) more a place of nightmares at present, there will never be a better chance. Morale seems to be worse than that of the studio audience at a live recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys as Brendan O’Carroll fluffs his lines once more and they need to go again. Will the torture ever end?

For Brentford, there was great news in that both Kris Ajer and Christian Norgaard are expected to return. Magnificent though their respective covers did in the Spurs game, I can’t imagine Thomas Frank will mess around with making them fight for their place. Both players are just too good to leave on the bench if they are fit. Hardly cutting edge insight, granted, but at this point in the season the line up is largely settled and the team – now working around the magnificent Christian Eriksen – are on fire.

View from the away end – Christian shows how much it means at Chelsea

All the predictions of doom and gloom continue to be thrown back in the faces of those who utter them. 20th was the call before the season began. Relegation was the call as we hit that mid-winter blip. Even as recently as Saturday afternoon the team line up prompted reactions such as ‘Where are the centre backs’ and ‘Just seen the line-up. Time to stick a straw straight into a bottle of gin’. Again, the critics left with copious amounts of egg on face as Brentford again did what we’ve been doing all season.

Tonight will be no different. My online bookmaker (used purely for research purposes) has Brentford at 18/5. Manchester United 22/31. To be fair, a lot tighter than games against the clubs chasing Europe normally are but still a clear winner has been targeted by the bookies. And? It’s nothing new. We have the spirit. We have the form. We have the passion and the ability to pull it out the bag as seen at Chelsea. At West Ham. Against Liverpool, and Arsenal. That never say die spirit that has kept us going until the last kick of every game. Blood and guts turning draws into wins. 

And we have a green jacket. Cinderella, you shall go to the ball. After missing out on this one for a whole plethora of reasons, an 11th hour saviour has sailed in to view. Now, there is the offer of a return trip and a ticket. Jurassic Park!! I’m in. As the message went: “ I need to know if the green jacket will be making an appearance…

It has now been worn six times at games. It has seen 16 points. 

Norwich (a) W.

Burnley (h) W.

Chelsea (a) W

West Ham (h) W

Watford (a) W

Tottenham (h) D  – albeit worn by Mrs B due to yours truly’s enforced absence.

Could this luckiest of lucky totems inspire further glory? Or is it just down to Christian Eriksen? A mere coincidence that the run has matched those games he has started for Brentford.

En-route to another three points. This time, Watford.

As for Manchester United, they give the impression of a team intent on shooting themselves in the foot time and again. Only Cristiano Ronaldo, that talismanic tour de force, with his unpredictability and almost super human talent, able to offer any vague hope of salvation at the moment. A player who despite his own desperately sad personal news in recent works, still drives onwards. Still pulls the goals out the bag and the team out of the mire.

As we’ve said on the pages many times, an 18 month spell working in Manchester back in 2007-08 meant that I was often that most odious of species – an Old Trafford football tourist. The cliches about fans living down South all true as a colleague, who shared a pair of season tickets with three fans from London, often found he had a spare for midweek games. If Brentford weren’t playing at the likes of Accrington Stanley (coldest. away game. ever), Bury or Stockport County then what else was there to do of an evening? Amongst other visits I was there for the night Ronaldo defied logic and gravity to score ‘that’ free kick against Portsmouth. It is ability of that level that still sets the alarm bells off, even now – fourteen years later.

Still. That was then. This is now. Last night I had a strange dream (involving the fact that I somehow watched the game on Sky 24 hours before kick off) that Brentford win 3-1. Then, our Harry got up from bed, came out of his room and the first thing he said to me was, “Dad – we’re going to win 3-1 tonight.” .

Insert Twilight zone jingle. The go directly back to the bookie’s website for some further research. Undue optimism or is there something in the air? At 35/1, it would seem churlish not to have a nibble. Will it come off? I can’t wait to find out. See you there. Have jacket, will travel.

Until then, here’s the Tottenham catch up and player review….

Nick Bruzon 

Will it be case of Hakuna Matata (it means ‘No Worries’) at Vicarage Road?

16 Apr

Hello. Hello. What have we here? Two London derbies down. Two wins under the belt. Two to go. With Brentford having blown Chelsea off the park at Stamford Bridge and then disposed of West Ham in a style akin to a cat toying with a spider, April continues apace. Before the visit from Tottenham next Saturday, today we travel to Watford for what is, arguably, a game where form could go out of the window. With the Championship approaching at a rate of knots, will we get the Watford who have lost four of their last five home games? The Watford with the worst home record in the Premier League this season (they’ve lost 12 out of the 15 games played)? The Watford who could emulate the feat of Birmingham City in 1985-86 and lose ten consecutive top flight games?

Or will the desperation of trying to hang on to top flight status mean Brentford are up against a team possessed ? One with nothing to lose – the game aside – by going full tilt from the off. After going down 3-0 to Leeds United in a result our own super-computer had marked as a home win, the Hornets really are now starting to warm up the vocal chords in the last chance saloon.

So far, so good in April

I love the unpredictability of football. Nobody expected Brentford to humble Chelsea. To be fair, nobody expected Chelsea to give Real Madrid the fright they did in what turned out to be the narrowest of second leg defeats in Europe during the week. Thankfully, that one went as predicted as it means our own game with Tottenham remains on a Saturday rather than the graveyard shift of Sunday lunchtime (only Monday nights are worse). Nobody expects Watford to offer much resistance this afternoon, either. Moreso after falling apart against Leeds United  – oh, the irony – last time out.

That’s dangerous thinking. For now, they’re still standing but anyone thinking they’re going to sacrifice Premier League status without a fight is in for a bumpy afternoon. There’s nothing more dangerous than a caged hornet backed into a corner. Or should that be what looks like a moose? Red deer rather than catering obsessed narcissist. The Bees are under genuine danger of being hit by a rocket, man. Kitchen sinks being thrown from the off. The big question being how we cope? Suck it up and catch them on the break or take the game to opponents for whom top flight survival is a commodity that is hanging by an ever unravelling thread.

Well, the good news is that, if anything, Brentford now have too many options available. Cripes, imagine saying that earlier in the season. Still, unlike David Moyes we’ve never bleated about it as an excuse for defeat. Poor West Ham. How is Kurt, by the way? The bitch is back. And I love it. Zouma getting everything he deserved and moreso last time out. Take that, you cat kicking fool.

Thomas was left purring with delight after the West Ham game

Now, however, the tables are turned. We have choice. The midfield trio of Christian Eriksen, Christian Norgaard and Vitaly Janelt have been inspired in recent weeks. Having one of the best players in world football will do that to you. Even better news came out of the press conference with confirmation that Josh Dasilva is available once more. Thomas Frank telling the massed ranks of the media that he will be involved with the squad, adding, “Fingers crossed he can stay fit and avoid strange red cards so we see more of him. My take is that a fit Josh Dasilva would have been one of our best performing players this season. “

Given the health update –  “He is nowhere near top fit because we need to ease him into it, and it will probably take a couple of weeks before we really see the best of him”  – one can only expect Josh to start on the bench. What an option to have though? What we’ve seen of him so far this season since finally recovery form that injury has been nothing short of wonderful. Now, the prospect of seeing a midfield with Dasilva and Eriksen is one which has all Brentford fans drooling. Ivan Toney must be licking his lips at the prospect.

Also back is Pontus Jansson after missing out against West Ham with illness. Just as in midfield, there are now tough choices to be made in the back line. Thomas Frank has showed he’s not afraid to make the big calls, though. To mix things up and stay a step ahead of the opposition. Cripes, if the home support can’t read it what must our opponents think.

Back fours against Norwich and Burnley saw us revert to five at Chelsea, with Mads Roerslev quite wonderful in the right channel. His reward was to make way for Kris Ajer last week as we once again became a four. Good luck working out what we do today but, being realistic, it is the midfield where this game is going to be won or lost. Whether in containing and breaking or taking the game to Watford ourselves.

Will our captain regain his place now fit again?

For what its worth, I expect us to try and dictate the pace. Whichever line up Thomas has gone for, the approach has been one of going for it from the off. That twenty minute burst where the Bees look to assert themselves. Snuffing out the opposition as easily as a candle in the wind before they can get into the game.

Sitting back has rarely worked well, regardless of whether we are playing Liverpool or Leeds United. I can only expect more of the flair seen in the last month as we aim to make it three league wins in a row.

I can’t wait for this one. It’s not going to be easy. And that’s just the getting to Vicarage Road where the travel has already been decimated thanks to bank Holiday engineering works. All being well, it’ll be worth the effort. Limbs from the Bees faithful. Sad songs from our hosts.

If nothing else, we’ve still got the green jacket. Regular readers to this page know the current win ratio Hakuna Matata indeed. It means no worries !

From Carrow Road to Stamford Bridge and beyond – the stats don’t lie

Just saying. See you there.

Until then, if you’d like to read more then here’s the West Ham review.

Nick Bruzon  

That’s how your cat felt. Bees do it on and off the pitch.

11 Apr

Ian Moose – your boys took one hell of a… etc etc etc. Brentford have done it again. Hot off the heels of last weekend’s 4-1 demolition of Chelsea, another London derby victory has been earned. This time around our 2-0 defeat of West Ham at Lionel Road as comfortable as they come. The three points earned at the Olympic stadium in October repeated in front of our home support. With a late surge toward the top half of the table still on (as it stands the Bees sit just a solitary point behind tenth placed Crystal Palace ) the forthcoming trip to relegation threatened Watford is as big a fixture as we will have played all season.

Fun in the sun at Lionel Road

Brentford made it look as easy as the scoreline suggests on Sunday. The game always well under control with second half goals from Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo eventually dealing the inevitable blow. West Ham not even close to coming second. Brentford clinical as the pressure on our opponents grew.

By that point they had already been forced into a defensive reshuffle. Kurt Zouma limping off after less than half an hour following his second visit from the medical staff. “Call the RSPCA” quipped one terrace wag as chants of “That’s how your cat felt” rung around the majority of Lionel Road.

One has to wonder how much of blessing in disguise it was for Zouma. Finally running out of lives well before his ninth after after coping dog’s abuse (or should that be…) every time he touched the ball.

The programme cover that never was

The substitution made little difference. Brentford dominating the midfield and slowly turning the screw. Bryan should probably have put us ahead in the first half. He made no mistake just two minutes in to the second. Ivan Toney with a wonderful assist before doubling the lead. His header home this time being served up on a plate by Mbeumo after Rico had sent an inch perfect cross over the box to the back stick.

Not even Said Benrahma could make a difference when he came on for the final half-hour. A glimmer of his wonderful talent on show but the former Bees’ hero unable to make any impact on or through a resolute midfield. Eriksen wonderful. Norgaard equally so. Brentford now having won every game the former has started. The same win ratio applying to yours truly’s lucky green jacket.

The sartorial masterpiece, obviously, remains the real reason for another three points.

The stats don’t lie…

Those looking downwards hopefully feeling a touch less stressed now. Defeats for Watford at home to Leeds United and Burnley at Norwich City mean the bottom three are looking further adrift. Everton beating an absolutely woeful Manchester United on Saturday lunchtime casting further consternation to the clubs below that dotted line. 

For those with eyes on the upper echelons of the table there remains huge cause for optimism. April has already seen us taking 6 points from 6 in London derbies. The month is completed by Watford away and then a visit from another Champions League chasing club, Tottenham. At this rate, anything is possible.

It’s not so much the margin of victory as the style of play now being shown by Brentford. Back to our free styling Championship best, despite playing clubs with genuine aspirations of making Europe’s top table. Thomas Frank not afraid to mix things up again with a return to the back four set up and Mads Roerslev missing out alongside the unwell Pontus Jansson. Perhaps harsh on the young Dane after doing so well against Chelsea but at the end of the day, Clive, we’ll all point to the win as being all that counts.

Next up, Watford. There’s no midweek fixture and so a chance to take stock. To rest any tired limbs. To wonder just what the heck Matthew Benham needs to do to persuade Christian Eriksen to stay on for another season. The crowd love him. The team feed off everything he does. The smile is ever present on his face. Could fate be smiling on us? Just offer him a green jacket, Matthew…

Until then there’s not much else to do beyond reflect on all we have achieved so far. There are only 7(seven) Premier League games to go and Brentford have defied just about every critic’s pre-season prediction. The MOTD2 team would talk about West Ham having a thin squad whilst battling on two fronts. David Moyes would take about circumstances. 

Poppycock. Brentford weren’t whinging when our paper thin set up was decimated by injury or covid. So let’s get some kudos where it is due. For yours truly, the glass remains as full as ever. The wheels may already be coming off the super-computer’s predictions about the bottom three (although if Leeds Untied could fall apart, again, that would be amazing) but as everything else outside of Lionel Road is only a distraction, let’s not hold too much to that for now.

The player review is now up and can be found here as published.

For now here’s to a happy Monday and then we can start prep for Watford. I’m already full of anticipation for that one. See you there.

The gap at the bottom is growing

Nick Bruzon

Where do you go from last weekend?

9 Apr

Even a week on, it’s impossible not to still be smiling if you are a Brentford fan. The 4-1 humping administered to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (even Real Madrid only got a 3-1 there a few days later) up  with the very best we’ve ever witnessed our Bees on the road. Think how incredible it was seeing Yoanne Wissa grab that late, late winner at West Ham earlier in the season then multiply the feel-good factor by a zillion. The same player doing the same thing at Stamford Bridge, although of course, but that point the game was well out of sight. Chelsea supporters had already performed an exemplary fire drill routine at the far end and this time the goal was the cherry on the icing on the cake.  An afternoon that will live long in the memory and now one that gives the chance to step on with Sunday’s visit from West Ham.

Players celebrating with the fans as the goals fly in

Brentford will be chomping at the bit to get back out there. To pick up where we left off at Chelsea. A week to recover from the huge shift put in sees the same matchday squad available. Josh Dasilva still misses out although, incredible though it sounds to say this, even fit he’d have been doing well to force his way in – such was the performance last weekend. Instead, the main decision Thomas Frank has to make will be whether to tick with the 3 centre backs or revert to the traditional back four employed in the defeats of Norwich City and Burnley. 

Nobody saw it coming at Carrow Road ; even when the team was announced. People expected more of the same at Stamford Bridge. Including yours truly. Instead, switching back to our more defensive set up actually resulted in one of our most devastating performances of the campaign. Brentford very much pushing up with Christian Eriksen dominant. Everything will, one again, go through him when we step out against West Ham. He’s just too good not to. That’s not to diminish the performance of anyone else with Brentford showing just how good we can be when everybody is on their game. When the balance is right. When you play with confidence. When the crowd are behind you. The reverential hush of Stamford Bridge shattered by the non-stop roar from the Bees’ faithful. What a huge difference it made.

Christian Eriksen – the superlatives are fast running out

 I’ve given up trying to outthink or predict what Thomas Frank will do. For all the snide comments about our head coach and our squad, we’re doing phenomenally. We’re pulling the results out of the bag. The Norwich, Burnley and Chelsea games have seen 9 goals and nine points.

The only recent blip being Leicester City away. Even that could, perhaps should, have been different but if nothing else, the absence of that man Eriksen showing just how important he is to us. Enjoy him while you can and keep everything crossed we’re somehow able to talk him in to staying for another season.

The Bees can feel hard done by at Leicester City

As for West Ham, they’re likely to be in as fine spirits as ourselves. Thursday night saw a 1-1 draw with Lyon in the Europa League quarter-finals. The chance of reaching the last four still very real, although David Moyes is playing the ‘league places’ card and (outwardly) very much fighting on two fronts. Will he freshen up with the fringe players or go for broke? All but two of his starting XI lasted the full 90 minutes against Lyon and with much of the game played with 10 men (Aaron Cresswell seeing red just before half-time) will changes come? Will the focus be on what is a very realistic chance of lifting a European trophy?

One has to hope so. If for no other reason it’ll give them the chance to move on from 1966 or winning the FA Cup in 1980. Trevor Brooking’s header now 42 years on although you’d be forgiven for thinking it was yesterday.

Whomever David Moyes goes with, Said Benrahma will be keen to impress. There was no doubting the love for him from Brentford fans in his time with us. Thanks to Covid we never got to say a proper goodbye whilst the game at the Olympic stadium saw his threat nullified. He’ll likely start this one, too. If for no other reason than being the one to make way at half-time as David Moyes rejigged his side to cope with their self-inflicted on pitch deficit. As ever, the solution will be in taking the game to our opponents and cutting out the playmaker. In keeping the ball, breaking at pace and pinging it around with precision. Rico, Bryan and Christian (Eriksen) will be key to this. 

What a swansong from Said.

Sunday is going to be huge. For both teams. Brentford can still make the top ten of the Premier League. Every win and point will be vital. West Ham will have even loftier ambitions, sitting just three points behind fourth placed Tottenham as it stands. It’s frustrating to have had the game pushed back a day but that’s always the risk as we hit the business end of the season. Instead, today can be spend watching the next stage of the relegation battle. If nothing else, the midweek review of those teams facing the drop (and calling the final three) has very much upset Leeds United fans. Barely anyone else took the bait although I still stand by that call. Everton  – Manchester United this lunchtime is going to be fascinating.

There may be more games moved, in theory. Brentford official shared the below update following the Chelsea – Real Madrid game. So the game with Tottenham will be played on Saturday 23rd April, then.

Until then, the ‘top five’ player review from the Chelsea game is online and up.  Talk about tough decisions to be made – of the best sort.

Sadly, 11 into 5 just won’t go. No matter how much you try to crunch the numbers.

As a final thought, I may be biased but the cover for tomorrow’s matchday programme is just stunning. Top, top work from Dave Flanagan. Very much a work of art and poster quality stuff. May well have to get one of these framed up. 

Top cover art from Dave

For what its worth, I think it’s his best of the season to date. Hats off all round for the team that put this one together. As much for the decision not to go with a cat motif. Kurt Zouma, we’re looking at you. Meow. 

I can’t wait for this one. The sun is out and the place is buzzing. Bring it on and see you there.

I’d have gone for the cat cover

Nick Bruzon