Tag Archives: Chris Hughton

Will there be more of the same at a price that, surely, is beyond generous?

4 Feb

Saturday morning. Match day. Except, of course, it isn’t. Brentford fans have to wait an extra day for the chance to see if we can match Tuesday night’s annihilation of Aston Villa. This time around, the visitors are none other than Brighton. A team who, whilst managing to reel in and then fend off long term runaway leaders Newcastle United, went down 3-1 at Huddersfield Town in front of the Sky TV cameras on Thursday night.

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Will the Seagulls fall victim to Dean’s killer Bees?

There’ll never be a better time for the Bees to take on the Seagulls. Brentford blew away Aston Villa on Tuesday night as though they were nothing more inconvenient than an empty crisp packet. 3-0 really doesn’t even begin to do justice to a scoreline that saw added width courtesy of Florian Jozefzoon and the wonderful Jota.

It was something noted by Dean, who used his press conference to note that “They give us an extra dimension and that enabled me to flip the system on Tuesday” (and, as ever, you can read his full interview on ‘official’).

With one defender less and more room in the middle of the pitch, Dean set his team up in much more balanced and positive formation than we’d seen in a long time. The results more than justified the tactical reshuffle. And this is before the returning Sergi Canos has even got a look in. Whilst I can’t imagine he’ll start in this one, I can already hear the reception he’ll get coming off the bench.

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Jota was back in the starting XI on Tuesday night

The big question now being whether it was a one off or if we can expect more of the same against Brighton? I hope so. Desperately. Tuesday night saw genuinely exciting football as the Bees, perhaps with a point to prove to Scott Hogan, tore Villa a new one.

Brighton, meanwhile, may well be back in second place by the time we cross paths. Newcastle United play on Saturday although a visit from Derby County won’t be the easiest fixture in the calendar. Yet if they can get the win, that adds the pressure to Albion. Especially if third placed Reading can also do the business at hapless Ipswich Town. A win for the Royals will take them to within just two points of Brighton.

Then, of course, we’ve got Thursday night to consider. Nobody needs a midweek trip to Huddersfield at the best of times, let alone when you then put in a performance that Chris Hughton would later describe saying, “Every now and again you get a real bad one, and that was a real bad one.

Perhaps he should compare notes with Steve Bruce !  To compound their misery, highly rated defender Lewis Dunk was shown the red card so misses out at Griffin Park.

One can’t help but think Brighton will be exhausted. With little over 48 hours to recover from the game and subsequent trip back from Yorkshire to the South coast, they are back on the road again.  Whilst we’ve all been victims to the vagaries of TV scheduling, this one seems extreme and yet another example of the TV companies putting teams and fans firmly in second place.

The question being if Dean Smith and his team can take advantage of this gift we’ve been offered. Brentford have already beaten Brighton in the corresponding fixture – becoming the only team this season to leave the Amex with all three points. Can we now become the first to do the double over the Seagulls? Could Sergi cause havoc in the final twenty minutes as tiredness starts to tell?

At odds of 11/5 with club sponsors 888, it seems to be free money for anybody looking to invest. Surely that’s too generous a price?

On Sunday afternoon, we find out.

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Nick Bruzon

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As the Bees prepare for a last hurrah, why Middlesbrough will go up on Saturday..

6 May

What a day tomorrow promises to be. Brentford travel to Huddersfield Town looking to secure 10th (and a possible 9th) place in the Championship table. At the business end, the mythical beast that is the fixture computer has served up a play-off before the play-offs in the Middlesbrough v Brighton ‘winner takes all’. As for yesterday’s Josh McEachran to Chelsea story. Let’s just park that one right here.

First up though, I have to start with the Middlesbrough – Brighton game simply because of what it represents. And I can tell you who’s going to reach the Premier League aswell.

With both teams locked on 88 points, The Seagulls have to win to snatch ‘automatic’. Anything less, with Boro on a superior goal difference, will see Brighton consigned to a play off with Sheffield Wednesday.

Sadly, for Brighton fans, I’ve got Boro’ all over this one. If for no other reason than Chris Hughton has just been named manager of the month for April. No matter how strong the visitors are and what the weight of expectation from the home supporters, we all know how the award works.

Win manager of the month – lose your next game.

It’s a curse as longstanding as Clem featuring ‘your team’ for his prematch feature. Last season saw a mere 7(seven) winners for sides highlighted by the ever popular roving reporter. ‘MotM’ is, for the jinx wary amongst us, no different.

Genuinely, I’d love to see former Bee Chris do it. Realistically, I think ‘that curse’ may strike again.

In a way, whilst proud that Dean Smith was also nominated, at least Chris ‘taking the hit’ has increased our chances slightly. No doubt Huddersfield will want to sign off in style etc etc etc but equally Brentford fans know what another three points means. Already 5 clear of QPR and out of sight from Fulham, this really is a stunning chance to strengthen our stranglehold on the West London mini league.

Hopefully this message has also translated to Dean and the players. Certainly the build up to, and reaction from, last weekend’s 3-0 thumping of the Cottagers suggests this will be the case.

For us, the season is almost over. We’ll look back on it over the next week or so (although I promise that the cliché of an ‘end of term report card‘ is one I’ll leave to others). Instead, for now, here’s hoping the men in black can ‘go again’ one more time.

For those fortunate enough to be able to make the trip, Kitman Bob has suggested on Twitter that the players plan to give their shirts away at the end of the game. I’ve no idea how this will happen although if Sam Saunders is reading, perhaps rather than throw it to the crowd you could just put yours in an envelope addressed to….

In all seriousness, this kit nerd has loved the various giveaways over the season and what a great gesture to say ‘thanks’ to those who have travelled with The Bees this campaign. Good luck to the 400+ able to make the trip tomorrow.

And finally, Josh McEachran to Chelsea?? No. Seriously. I don’t normally talk about rumours but this one was so random it bears reflection. Coming from a source weaker than a watered down bottle of value brand low-sugar ketchup, the Express ran a ‘story’ yesterday saying how Chelsea “hadn’t ruled out re-signing” Josh.

This, in itself, turned out to be a comment on something they’d read in the Evening Standard the night before. Thankfully Tom Moore, West London’s Premier Journalist, was able to speak with Dean Smith where this one was not so much scotched but laughed off in a state of confusion.

Tom’s article quotes Dean as saying: ” I have heard nothing at all about this. Is that to help him with his treatment? I’m not aware of any buyback clause either

Perhaps the Standard/Express had got confused and were assuming John Swift would be returning to Stamford Bridge when his loan expires. That, surely, the most likely outcome when the season draws to a close.

Either way, it just proves once more the old adage about not believing everything you read in the papers. Unless it comes from Beesotted, I’ll generally give such speculation a very wide berth.

And with that out of the way, I can get back to lumping the mortgage on Middlesbrough’s promotion.

What can go wrong?

Sam Saunders black kit

One last look – at the shirt..

Nick Bruzon

Plenty to play for on a Tuesday night in Hull

25 Apr

Brentford visit Hull City AFC tomorrow for a game that was originally set for March 8th but subsequently put back due to the host’s FA Cup involvement with Arsenal. Understandably there  was much frustration from the Bees faithful at the time although, in retrospect, might this have been a blessing in disguise? At least from a playing perspective.

Hull tigers Bees

The Bees go to Hull

At the time, Hull City were right amongst the promotion chasing teams and in with a very real chance of ‘automatic’. Since that date, they’ve only won three times. The Premier League is still more than possible but now it will need to be via the play-offs .

However, with a place in the end of season ‘choke-off’ already assured the only thing, momentum aside, that they have to play for is whether they can hang on to fourth place and a second leg at home.

I say “only”. Its a position I’d still love to be in ourselves. After coming so close last season, most of us would have loved another bite at the proverbial cherry.

Brentford, meanwhile, were in the depths of despair back in early March. As has been well documented, 2016 started terribly and this game would have been sandwiched between the 2-1 home defeat to Charlton (yes, the same Charlton who have since slithered into League 1) and then the 3-0 ‘no show’ at Loftus Road.

It was a period that saw the Bees flirting with the teams in the relegation zone and a game at high flying Hull is probably the last thing we would have wanted.

Yet now the Bees have it all to play for. And then some. Dean Smith is in possible contention for ‘Manager of the Month’ (what a shame the league don’t do ‘head coach of the month’ – he’d make a clean sweep). Victory will take him to 6 wins in April, surpassing the 5 achieved by Chris Hughton at Brighton and Aitor Karanka at Middlesbrough. That said, even a win doesn’t guarantee things with the Smoggies closing the month at Birmingham.

More importantly though, victory will take the Bees five points clear of the Loftus Road mob with just two games to play. And, without wanting to get too far ahead of us, we then host Fulham before QPR are next up. On Monday evening at Burnley.

The ‘kings’ of West London league football could be crowned prior to the final weekend. Last season it was a two club battle with the Bees finishing 26 points clear of Fulham. How sweet to do it again with the loud mouths from the Bush chucked into the mix this time around.

If this isn’t incentive to go for it on Tuesday, I don’t know what is.

West London football map

As it stands, in the West London Championship table

Nick Bruzon

MK Down and the true price of FA Cup defeat

24 Apr

Bye Bye MK Dons. Brentford racked up yet another win and another hatful of goals on Saturday afternoon to confirm that Karl Robinson and his team will be making an immediate return to League One. There was also that Doctor Who moment during the Manchester United – Everton FA Cup semi which we’d worried about yesterday whilst Kitman Bob is at it again. Yet again.

MK Dons BBC

Not my words but those ..etc

First up though, Stadium MK. As is the norm the BBC, Beesotted, official site  or other less salubrious pages are the place for proper match reports. Instead, the headline news to trumpet about has to be about a 4-1 win for the Bees.

It was a game that, not for the first time this season, featured brilliant goals from first Sergi Canos and later Ryan Woods (do check these beauties out on the Bees Player highlights package). These sandwiched Lasse Vibe’s 13th of the season before Jake Bidwell rounded things off. His free kick from the touchline, just like the game at Preston, drifting past everybody and into the back of the net.

Mark Burridge is back for another win. What jinx?

Team wise both Sam Saunders and Scott Hogan were missing from the 18 who had beaten Cardiff on Tuesday night. The latter used Twitter to allay the fears of worried fans, saying, “I‘m not injured it’s been planned being managed carefully, don’t forget I’ve been out a while , next season most important thing!

Maxime Colin reclaimed his right back position although Josh Clarke, who had impressed midweek, did get the final half hour. John Swift, gash healed, was an unused substitute.

Only just over a month ago many of, us including our own head coach, had noted that the Bees were in a relegation scrap.Now its been 16 points out of 18 over April. It is a month that has seen 16 goals and five wins out of those 6 games.

As it stands we’ve hit Dean Smith’s tenth spot target and could even end as high as eighth should the winning run continue. Victory in ‘our game in hand’ at Hull City AFC on Tuesday night will see the Bees just one point behind Ipswich Town in 8th and make the ‘manager of the month’ vote a very interesting one indeed.

I’d still say that one is a straight shoot out between Chris Hughton or Aitor Karanka. Their teams have won as many as the Bees this month whilst keeping up the pace at the top of a table that sees the top three all on 87 points with just two games to go. Now that’s pressure !

As a side note, am I alone in having a ‘spellcheck’ that defaults the Middlesbrough manager’s name to Aitor Karaoke ? Now there’s some wonderful imagery. Here’s hoping for a Phil Brown style pitch side singalong as Boro’ go up and fairly leave us in peace after 6 wins out of 6 over the last two seasons.

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Could Chris lift something more valuable?

The other Championship news of excitement saw QPR held by Reading. It means the Bees are two points clear of the Loftus Road mob in the battle to see who will end the season as not just West but all London’s top league club. That Hull game has even more riding on it than our opponents might realise.

Back to the FA Cup. We talked yesterday about the forthcoming Doctor Who ‘reveal’ that the BBC had intended to make during half time of the semi final and, sure enough, it happened. Whilst I’ll leave Bees supporter @Lokster71 to comment on the choice of ‘assistant’  via his excellent ‘Patient Centurion’ blog, I have to say that Gary Lineker handled the obvious disruption well.

Indeed, the BBC anchor giving a quite marvellous post-reveal segue pitch side as he dead panned, “The doctor’s not the only one with a new companion, Dan Walker talks to Lee Martin…”.

The only sour notes to the afternoon were  Manchester United securing a winner at the death. To be fair, I’d have been just as unhappy had Everton done this.

It meant that with the spectre of an additional thirty minutes ‘extra time’ now removed, along with it went the chance of Mrs Browns Boys (presumably the safety net should such a situation have arisen) being pulled from the evening’s schedule. Worse, it meant we got Michael McIntyre sooner.

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Mrs Brown – thanks Manchester United. And Everton

Whilst Lineker scored bonus points for the Dan Walker gag, I did also think his closing “Young Prince / party like its 1999” outro felt a little bit forced and, dare I say it, cashing in on the week’s sad news.

And finally, it seems like every week we’re saying this but Kitman Bob is back on the BBgiveaway. Whilst ‘that’ shirt has rolled over to the Fulham game on Saturday, he announced last night : Buzzing about @BrentfordFC support today. I’m throwing in a  BONUS BBGIVEAWAY Tuesday.  Boots to be given away. Keep looking . Tuesday lunch time

As ever, the place to look is on Bob’s twitter account.

Here’s hoping Sam Saunders is back in the team or my bet is spannered .

Roll on Tuesday.

Bob crystal ball

Kitman Bob – man of mystery and king of competitions

Nick Bruzon

Can Dean match the heights of some illustrious company?

19 Apr

Brentford host Cardiff City this evening with head coach Dean Smith aiming to continue April’s unbeaten run after seeing the Bees pick up three wins and a draw since March came to an end. It is an identical record to Chris Hughton’s Brighton whilst only Aitor Karanka and Middlesbrough have better form after winning all five of their games this month. With the Bees now aiming to finish as high as possible, what’s left for us ?

Dean has made no secret of his desire to finish in the top ten. There’s currently a 4 point gap to Preston in 10th and 5 to Birmingham in ninth. With a game in hand it’s more than possible, statistically speaking, although translating that into actual points will be a big ask.

Cliff and Russell_face2

Russell Slade – has gone down in Brentford legend

And its not going to be easy tonight. For Cardiff City, a win is an absolute must. Five points outside the play-off places , anything but an away win will surely see our teams tied together for another season. Of course, Russell Slade will be celebrating like he’s won the FA Cup if he can secure the points and make some ground on Sheffield Wednesday.

The irony of his doing that two years and a day after those incredible scenes as the Bees went up would be lost on nobody.Despite his team going on a recent mini slump that has seen two draws and a loss,  you can bet he’ll have the Bluebirds fired up.

Then again, so will Dean. Since the injuries that have robbed his midfield of John Swift and Josh McEachran, the team have looked a different prospect. Whilst no side could say they were the same without the quality of Alan Judge, even Saturday against Bristol City saw us go so close to making it four in a row as the Bees continued with their attacking intent.

For all Dean talks about 10th, closer to home another win could make the battle for April’s ‘Manager of the month’ an interesting one. Of course, Aitor Karanka remains a shoe in for that as it stands with those 15 points out of 15. Yet with his Middlesbrough outfit facing fellow title chasers Burnley tonight (that’ll be some game) should Andre Gray and co do the business then it opens that one right up.

For me, the target still remains the Bees ending up as the top side in West London. We’re 6 clear of Fulham and only 3 behind the Loftus Road mob (with a game in hand).

Whilst Dean scooping an award in April will be a sign that we’re on track for that one, its a short term aspiration. If the Bees can finish top of this mini-pile after 46 games then I think that after all the ups and downs, the season will have been considered to have  ended on a high.

That’s a big ‘IF’ and, as I say, it won’t be easy tonight. Should anybody be in any doubt I’ll just put two words out there…

Stuart. Attwell.

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8 people liked the official announcement. Wow !

And finally, an apology. Yesterday’s column looked, in part, at the tour-de-force that was Sean Ridley hosting Terrace Talk. As part of this, it was noted that he ended his feature chasing after a duck.

I realise, now, this was wrong. In fact I am reliably informed it was an Egyptian Goose. So caught up was I in the excitement of his quite wonderful performance (and if you haven’t seen it yet, please do) that I’ve made a basic ornithological mix up.

I’m sorry.

That said, Sean has left a tough act to follow. No pressure, Jo 🙂

Nick Bruzon

Bees left following the Seagulls as Brighton win TV clash. So what next?

6 Feb

Well, if anybody doesn’t think the business end of the season hasn’t already been and gone for Brentford then I’d happily meet them. I’m still desperate for us to do as well as we can but I’m also realistic. Last night’s 3-0 tonking by Brighton was (the first half particularly) pretty hard to swallow. Dean Smith’s post match comment that: “We have 16 games and 48 points to play for, while there is still an opportunity to make the Play-Offs we will go for it” was, I suppose, obligatory but he’s not fooling anybody. Nice though the sentiment was, 1 win out of the last 7 (seven) and 5 out of the last 17 is nowhere near play-off form .

Brighton fully deserved their win. That’s it. Take nothing away from them despite what was a particularly off-key performance from the Bees. One shot on target all game tells its own tale whilst several players looked particularly sloppy.

Swift doing his drunk propeller impression again and Josh going rogue as the cross for the second goal was delivered (“he might aswell not be there” being the subsequent pundits view). Harlee might question himself over the first two whilst, but for the crossbar, he’d have skyed a goal line clearance into the back of the net. Even Sam looked off the pace in this one.

I could go on but we all know what happened. Given the calamitous off-field season we’ve had – three head coaches (technically four, given Lee Carsley retired after Forest only to come back for a one game second stint v Bolton); the pitch debacle; losing/selling the vast majority of the team that took us to fifth last season – to still be 10th in the Championship is a fantastic achievement from one respect.

But if wanting to build on last season’ performances and questioning the haemorraging of those that performed such miracles makes me a bad person (as certain fansites would seem to believe) then I can’t do anything about that.

You don’t need a match report- I can’t imagine there were many who weren’t there or didn’t see it on TV. As ever, Beesotted, the BBC and the club are the places to go.

That said, in the case of the ‘official site’ I’d question their assertion that “the scoreline may have been a little harsh on a Brentford team that dominated possession for long stages.” In football, holding on to the ball for 65% of the game counts for naff all if you can’t get more than one shot on target or put it in the back of the net. Certainly, Brighton managed it three times !

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‘Official’ Facebook tried to end it early, mid-game. Sadly, it finished 3-0

The other thing to remember is that regardless of whether we agree with the changes or methods being employed, this is our team. I’d still come along if we were in the Ryman Premier league.

Of paramount importance from this point in is how we perform over the coming months in preparation for next season. We have a lot of relatively new faces who are finding their feet and still bedding in. Some of those have really impressed early on; others have shown form in patches.

Which amongst those are going to be able to keep their places next campaign, vindicating the recruitment policies of Rasmus and Phil, and who will be deemed ‘a statistical experiment too far’ ?

Lewis Macleod finally appeared in a Brentford shirt whilst Sam Saunders (who up until last night had been on fire in recent weeks) has signed a year’s extension to his contract. The likes of Ryan Woods, Max Colin and Yoann Barbet have all shown their potential whilst Alan Judge is going to be a key man for somebody next season – hopefully the Bees.

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There was good news about Sam in the morning

I don’t subscribe to the ‘little old Brentford’ theory. Just because, outside of TW8, we’ve been nothing more than a blip on the football radar over the last sixty years doesn’t mean that now we’ve taken our place amongst the game’s bigger names we shouldn’t aspire to equal them or continue pushing ourselves. Big names and big reputations count for nothing. They certainly shouldn’t be feared. Just looks at QPR (4 points behind us) and Fulham ( 12 points adrift of the Bees).

We’re going to have good times and we’re going to have bad times. I’d love us to keep up with the high velocity progression but, equally, given what has happened over the summer there is an obvious need to consolidate. That’s what I thought we’d do with last season’s team – bolt on to that side and ‘go again’. Instead, it has been almost a complete rebuild and so to still be in 10th IS a huge achievement from that respect.

It may not always feel like it as we saw last night. The trick Matthew Benham’s people now face is that fine balancing act between starting afresh from the Championship and undoing what we’ve done these last few seasons. ‘The model’ is still very much being called into question by some whilst the success being achieved North of the border by Warbs is reminder of what we’ve achieved recently.

It isn’t going to get any easier. A trip to Sheffield Wednesday then home games against Derby and Wolves are next up for the Bees. Then again, I wouldn’t want it to get any easier. Testing ourselves against two teams pushing for the play offs and then the side that have been one of our main rivals in recent seasons is what it’s all about. Disappointing though last night was, the next game is only a week away. It certainly makes a change from playing the likes of Yeovil and Doncaster.

As a final thought – Keith Stroud. What can you say? He only made two bookings all night and that for Brighton ‘keeper David Stockdale seemed to confuse most of us. Even by his own whistle happy standards, there were a mere 24 fouls called.

This stat, amongst all, is the one most Brentford fans (goals aside) were interested in. Kitman Bob giving away three, yes three, pairs of player boots for whoever called that number correctly. My own 31 being somewhat off the pace as Keith had a relatively restrained game.

At least, by his standards.

Nick Bruzon

Is this a sign of the impending apocalypse?

23 Jan

Whilst this column is, primarily, about Brentford (and there’ll be more about the Norwich City game over the weekend) we aren’t afraid to look at other ‘issues’ in the world of football. And with Aston Villa due to entertain our Championship rivals Bournemouth in the FA Cup on Sunday, they don’t come much bigger than what could play out at Villa Park.

The regular reader will know of my interest in football jinxes.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

The apocalypse approaches… possibly

The apocalypse approaches… possibly

A night of surprise (and horror) as an exciting weekend awaits

22 Jan

And just when the top of the Championship table couldn’t get any tighter, it did after Brighton and Hove Albion beat Ipswich Town 3-2 at the Amex last night. Brighton who, despite our victory, ran Brentford close on Saturday did the Bees a massive favour. It is one that means another win at the weekend, when we visit Norwich City, will take us to within a point of the second and third placed teams.

To be quite honest, I’d forgotten all about that game as a night of channel surfing in our house (briefly) saw the horror of Mrs. Brown’s Boys winning ‘Best Comedy’ at the National Television Awards before I was able to switch to the football.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Bees dunk Brighton as the albatross becomes a canary

18 Jan

Three fortunate points or well deserved? That was the question after full time at the Amex where Brentford recorded another league win, this time against Brighton and Hove Albion. With the majority of the teams around us, including a shock for Norwich City (given their ‘guest of honour’ – more later), also triumphing it keeps things very much ’as you were’ at the top of the Championship table.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

The Albion mascots - I feel like I've cheated on Buzzette

The Albion mascots – I feel like I’ve cheated on Buzzette

View from the terrace (arm, padded seat) - And Toral must score...

View from the terrace (erm, padded seat) – And Toral must score…

Clem was looking over his shoulder at the drop zone before kick off at Carrow Road

Clem was looking over his shoulder at the drop zone before kick off at Carrow Road

No trains. No Clem. No Judge? Bring it on!

17 Jan

Brentford travel to Brighton and Hove Albion today for one of the most hotly anticipated games of the season. When the Championship fixtures were released last year, this was one of first dates many of us looked for. A day out at the seaside in the sunshine and a short hop down to the South Coast were the fringe benefits to look forward to from this trip. Not to mention a new stadium with Brighton’s impressive looking Amex.

Instead, as popular music’s Meatloaf almost sang, one out of three ain’t bad.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Manish confirms Brentford's job has become that bit harder

Manish confirms Brentford’s job has become that bit harder