Tag Archives: Chris Wickham

If Carlsberg did Twitter. New signing and backfiring bet see media team attain greatness.

19 Jul

Brentford travel to Oxford United for the latest stage in our pre-season programme, buzzing from the news that the much touted transfer of Ollie Watkins from Exeter City has been completed. Becoming our eighth signing of the summer, the conclusion of this move has seen two wonderful bits of social media (three if you count our own lack of hashtag / signing video when the news was announced). The first could leave one Bees supporter very much out of pocket whilst the second threatens to catapult a Nottingham Forest fan into Simon Hateley territory (he of Aston Villa infamy).

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Ollie Watkins joins. Its all very red

First, Ollie himself. What can you say? The Hoff may have departed over the summer but he has been replaced up top by first Neal Maupay and now the EFL young player of the year. The club were understandably excited about the news with Phil Giles telling official We first made an offer for Ollie 12 months ago, and again last January, so I am glad that we were finally able to sign him this time around”.

But it was on Twitter where the real story was beginning to unfold. Andy Scott joined Phil in celebrating the news about the Exeter man joining us, noting on the football front that it has been “A huge team effort from everybody involved” and that “patience is a virtue!” before going on to note that Ollie is “part of the family now!”.

Judging by the picture of his agent, its probably not the first time he’s heard that phrase. I’m sure he’s a lovely guy and all that but I for one wouldn’t want to cross him, going on this photo. That’s one intense look.

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Ollie and his agent. Was a horse’s head involved in transfer negotiations?

Spare a thought too for Brentford fan Josh Mahoney who is currently in the chair for a £2.5K bar bill following a tweet published last week, where he laid down a gauntlet which has come back to bite him firmly on the behind:

Can’t see us signing Ollie Watkins, if we do I’ll buy everyone who likes this a drink this season.

Yet it was the comeback from official which inspired what one supporter has described to me as “The greatest thing that media team have ever done”.

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Chris, Sean and Ciaran most definitely first up at the bar

What? This is brilliant. This is genuinely funny. Is this the same media team that has previously brought us ‘The Obama meme’,  #TrophyFriends and #Novemberkings? Whatever wind of change has blown through Chris Wickham’s department you can only doff your cap. First, no hashtag or gimmick to announce Ollie had joined from Exeter (take a leaf, Aston Villa with your fake Whatsapps and #WelcomeJT). Now, a genuine joke. And a great one. Not withstanding their choice of drink.

Andy was on fine form too, showing just what happens when you cross swords with Scott, Giles and Ankersen (not a law firm or 70s folk group).

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But it wasn’t just Josh who was left eating his words.

Up at the City Ground, Nottingham Forest fan ‘Redman’ may be regretting his own boast. Whilst not in Hateley territory (yet), this has somewhat backfired.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 05.59.07As at the time of writing (6.00am, Wednesday morning) we’re still waiting for banter to commence. Very much a case of tumbleweed and radio silence. Ironically, something matched by Forest fan Matt Dyson – the avocado loving sports presenter on Christian O’Connell’s Absolute Radio breakfast show. His bulletins failing to mention what was the day’s big transfer story.

The other question to come out of this is how we pay for the summer’s transfer activity and changes to the wage bill? Moreso to remain FFP compliant. Of course, the fees paid for our new signings are undisclosed, we have a new sponsorship deal and are about to begin our fourth season in the Championship. Yet with previous seasons seeing outward activity as well as inward, the big fear remains that we’ll be saying ‘adios’ to Jota.

Burnley are the latest club to join the rumour mill (although I’m still laughing at the thought he’d go to the likes of Derby County or the aforementioned Forest, despite their Assombalonga windfall) despite there being no further news following Dean’s talk 12 days ago about an imminent big bid coming in.

So what happens at the Kassam tonight could be telling. Of course, Dean has already said that if a bid fails to materialise then Jota “will be available for the Oxford United game”. Playing won’t be a guarantee he’ll be with us for the big kick off but any absence from the starting XI will be an enormous sign.

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Faster than a speeding bullet – is the Spanish superman leaving Griffin Park ?

I’m not stupid (completely). We all know how good Jota is. We all know his contract is running out so we could lose a £10million player for nothing. We all know our own model. We all know we’ve sold and still thrived before. Yet, the footballing romantic in me is desperate for him to stay. The last five years have been SO exciting. With a wonderful spine to this team and an ever evolving squad, he really could be the final piece in a promotion gamble.

I’ve called top six already. Given our experience and starting XI this is more than feasible. With Jota in the team, the chances can only improve.

That may well be a decision that is already out of our hands. A decision that has already been made. One thing’s for sure, the Brentford family will be taking a very keen interest in tonight’s team sheet when that one is published.

For now, though, let’s focus on the uber-positive. Jota is a bee and we’ve made another wonderful purchase. Our media team have developed a genuine sense of humour and we’ve not sold any fan favourites.

On a day that sees us looking at how football and Twitter work hand in hand, what better way to end than with another observation from the social media platform. Ian Westbrook distilling it all into one tweet.

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Nick Bruzon

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Kamo joins but will King Jota abdicate ? Reece Cole – what a goal !

8 Jul

Boom. That was a day and a half. Following weeks of tumbleweed, football has come back to Brentford with a bang. There’s been a new signing in Kamohelo Mokotjo.  We’ve had the first pre-season friendly with a 5-1 run out at Aldershot. Yet all the talk was of  the main man, Jota, missing that game following a deluge of transfer speculation involving the likes of West Ham, Newcastle, Brighton and just about any other name our local press could chuck at the story to generate click bait headlines and some form of substance.

And so, with the absolute greatest of respect to Kamo, we can only start with Jota. Everybody knows just what he did before going out on loan to Eibar for personal reasons and everybody knows just how incredibly he performed upon this return in January. His ability is staggering, his enthusiasm and love for the club is apparent and he is one of those rare players to unite all Brentford fans in a common opinion – namely just a wonderful player and, quite possibly, the most skillful we’ve had the privilege to watch in living memory.

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‘Official’ love him, too

Well, whatever nonsense/guesswork was going around cyberspace (and boy, here was an example of how a rumour can spread like wildfire thanks to social media), it was down to none other than Billy Reeves as the right man in the right place. His post match interview with Dean cut to the nub of the matter, where our head coach confirmed:

“Jota came to see me yesterday and he said that his agent has told him there’s a bid imminent from a Premier League club. He knows that club will want a massive bid….If the bid doesn’t come in and its not big enough Jota’s happy enough to stay at Brentford as a Brentford player”

This seemed to immediately rule out West Ham as potential suitors. The words ‘bid’ and ‘massive’ being anything but their style, as evidenced during the faffing around with Scott Hogan at Christmas. That, something which eventually worked to our advantage as the player moved to Aston Villa for a figure documented in the media (although officially undisclosed) as £15million.

Dean went on to add that,“It would have to be a massive bid to tempt the football club” , so the question is now, what happens next? And apologies if that puts anybody off their cornflakes with images of Phil Tufnell or Ally McCoist faux-flirting with Sue Barker.

Let’s rule out West Ham. His flair and skill would perhaps be at odds with their more industrial style of football whilst they’re generally all talk and no trousers when it comes to significant transfer activity. My gut fells is one of those clubs we were on Championship terms with last season – namely a Brighton, Huddersfield or Newcastle United. Although don’t rule out the likes of Bournemouth or Watford. Hey, I realise that’s a quarter of the league in one sentence but I’m just trying to figure it out.

Talking to another source close to the club last night, the name Brighton also came up. On target or miles off? Who knows. Will they, or anyone else, put in what Dean confirms “would have to be a massive bid to tempt the football club” ?

Billy’s interview cuts to the chase, as ever

It’s interesting. We know the financial rewards for reaching the top flight. £170milllion is the figure touted for going up from the Championship. Weigh that up against £8m – the figure Billy suggested to Dean – for a player who will be out of contract when this campaign ends. Which way will the club jump? Indeed, will we even get a choice if Jota decides his heart and feet belong in the Premier League immediately?

We all know of his love for Griffin Park. That much is apparent . But agents and money both talk. We showed loyalty to him in supporting the loan move back to Eibar and that was paid back in bucketloads when the player returned at Christmas. Indeed, Dean spoke earlier in the week (in that SKY interview) about our aspiration being top six. By definition, that means promotion or a shot at it through the play-offs. With it comes that dumper truck fill of money and the top flight football that Jota is so clearly capable of.

Is he prepared to wait? Can we make him an offer he can’t refuse? Are we financially able to turn down that short term hit of cash which comes with his transfer fee ? Are we able to make it without a man who is most prolific talent? This one is going to take am massive leap of faith from all parties if Jota is to stay a Bee.

Brighton. West Ham. Other. This is going to be a very squeaky next couple of weeks on that front. I’d also note that the fact we are even having this conversation – top flight aspirations and another multi million pound transfer – shows yet again how far we’ve come as a club. This time though, I’m hoping it’ll play out in a fan friendly way and the King doesn’t abdicate just yet .

On the more positive front, Kamo Mokotjo has signed from FC Twente. Top marks Beesotted for calling that one. Dean Smith told Billy “He’s a ball winning midfielder. His passing stats were incredible last year in the Dutch league“ whilst his quote on official describes Kamo as “a defensive midfielder who can break play up, cover a lot of ground and use the ball intelligently

The news was preceded by a short video in which the media team debated whether there was a gimmicky way to announce his signing before settling on the traditional signing photo. Reaction to the 40 second film has been mixed – both cringe and brilliant.

For me, we are in the latter camp – a clear attempt at taking the ‘p’ from the likes of Aston Villa (That. Whatsapp) and the seemingly modern trend for ‘hilarious’ announcements. Often involving hashtags.

Whilst the build up to the punchline was perhaps a tad laboured (Chris Wickham, Ciaran Brett et al are certainly no Matt Damon on the acting front) we got there in the end. Top marks all round and I hope supporters can see it for the obvious joke that this was !

And did anybody spot new programme editor Sam Marshall in there? He’s on twitter now as @SamMarshall94 .#WelcomeSam.

D’oh!

One other observation on this news but has Kamo been given the world’s longest signing scarf? Or, as one New Road observer would suggest to me last night, perhaps he’s only 5ft two ?

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Kamo signs – he won’t be cold in the winter

As for on pitch action, we can only be happy with a 5-1 win at Aldershot. I wasn’t there so can’t add much more beyond what we’ve all seen on social media. That said, special mention to Reece Cole in setting an early bar for goal of the season. What a strike for the youngster and, with the finish/build up play, an effort somewhat reminiscent of Stuart Dallas at Fulham.

You can see that one Twitter now.

Thanks again for reading. I’m off to watch The Lions and pray for Jota.

AUTHOR’S PLUG – (it’s all for charity).

And if you’d like to read more about Jota and last season then please don’t forget (how could you?) that the regular season review e-book remains available for download. This one is titled ‘Welcome home, King Jota’ and this time around it is for a great cause. All funds raised are being given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Likewise, any subsequent sales from the previous versions.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 2016 to May 2017 and a bit of new material too, you can pick it up, here. It’s just £1.99.

So why not do something great to help our club. What else will £1.99 get you? What better way to spend some time on the commute to work, the beach, by the pool or even hiding out in the toilet at the office?

For less than the cost of half a pint on match day, it’s the season review that has been designed to fit in your pocket (if you are using an i-phone).

Nick Bruzon

The King of Spain reigns supreme at Griffin Park. Unprecedented joy follows a quite wonderful denouement.

26 Feb

Brentford 4 Rotherham United 2. A game that prior to kick off had promised goals and a guaranteed three points for the home side would look, by the scoreline, to have delivered just that. The headlines, quite rightly, will have been dominated by a quite wonderful performance from King Jota, whose joy enthused celebrations of his late hat-trick goals left everybody (the handful of Rotherham supporters aside) leaving Griffin Park with grins like split watermelons. Yet on a day where we commemorated 50 years since the doomed take over attempt by QPR, the Millers came so close to being consumate party poopers.

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View from the Braemer – unadulterated joy from Jota and the team

To be overly down on a four goal home win seems really odd. Yet Brentford were so, so sloppy for huge swathes of this game. The Bees started, with Romaine Sawyers seemingly in the ‘false 9’ position once more, at 100 mph. 85% possession in the opening period was rewarded by Jota’s first after what the papers report as 13 minutes (although if Kitman Bob is reading, I’m pretty sure the Griffin Park clock said 8) . It was a beautiful finish from a tight angle on the left and promised to be the precursor to a much anticipated opening of flood gates.

And then. Nothing. From shuffling around like disinterested zombie hoards, Rotherham United were slowly allowed back into it. The scoreline stayed 1-0 at half time as the game descended into League one style averageness. Sawyers was drifting so deep that he was more Josh McEachran replacement than filling in for Lasse or the Hoff. This isn’t his natural position and I do sympathise with a player thrust out of his comfort zone yet, at the same time, if you can’t handle it then let somebody else have a go. Let the head coach read the game. Really, Dean should have made changes quicker rather than Romaine coming in for more flack. When he was switched, look what happened.

Being honest, I was quite happy with the starting XI in the circumstances but once we’d got bogged down into high ball kick and rush then changes should have been made. Instead, Brentford allowed the visitors to equalise not once but twice. Our second goal, Nico bundling home a cross from Ryan Woods, should have knocked the stuffing out of a Rotherham team looking to grind out a draw. Instead, we gave them the freedom of Griffin Park.

Then, with the impressive Sergi Canos and the B-Team’s Justin Shaibu making their marks from the bench, Jota stepped up and did his thing on the 90th minute. The first, from the penalty spot, prompting ecstatic celebrations from the player, the team and the crowd. A few minutes later, he combined with Sergi to get on the end of a through ball from Sawyers (and when he does those, he does them so so well), to go around Lewis Price. With the former Bee scrabbling around in the mud, the King of Spain was as cool as you like to stroke it home.

Cue mayhem of an unprecendented style. Cue tears of regret from those who left early.

Even now, Sunday morning, I still have a huge smile on my face at the resultant celebration. An outpouring of pure joy. And that was just Jota. Truly, we are blessed to have such a talent in our team. It was a privilege to be part of that moment.

What a wonderful, wonderful man and yet, what incredible enthusiasm. Even Dean Smith told Billy Reeves at full time that the player had received a round of applause on entering the dressing room.

Aswell as the goal video (up on Sky now ; Beesplayer now below) do listen to BBC Billy’s interview with Dean. It’s interesting to hear his acknowledgement of our own improvement points from this one aswell, of course, as his own admiration for the super Spaniard and his “great balance” .

Fantastic Jota gets his first hat-trick for the Bees

What else can you say about this one?

Well, the club have rightly paid huge notice to the 50 year anniversary of QPR trying their little stunt and the incredible effort involved by supporters and players like in thwarting this. We’ve had all the build up to this game whilst on the day there was that wonderful banner and of course, the minute’s applause on the 67th minute. The timing of Rotherham’s equaliser proving somewhat unfortunate and one of those rare instances where there was more clapping from the home side than the visitors after an way goal had been scored. Only Brentford.

Equally, another big nod of recognition is due to Mark Chapman. This season’s match day programme has been given due credit on these pages before and likewise, the piece of work he and the team put together for yesterday’s game needs proper recognition. If you haven’t got one yet, do drop into the club shop to see if you can get your hands on a copy. It is well, well worth a look about an event that is such an important part of our history. There’s more than just QPR, though. Come for the history lesson; stay for the interview with Chris Wickham.

But we can only finish, once more, by offering a huge cyber hug to Jota. What a way to finish a game. What a way to grab a hat trick. What a way to pull Brentford out of the fire. What a way to send the fans home so very, very happy.

What a way to stick two fingers up to all those at Loftus Road.

Muchas Gracias to the king.

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Nick Bruzon

What happens in Preston, stays in Preston as Harlee makes a frank admission.

12 Feb

F*ck off Brentford” said one supporter on Twitter after this one. Others were calling for Dean Smith’s head. I’ve even seen comments reminding us that Mark Warburton is available after his resignation/non resignation from Rangers. Seriously? Seriously?? Sure, The Bees had been beaten 4-2 by Preston North End but let’s leave that nonsense and put this one down to the proverbial bad day at the office.

After those two tonkings administered to Aston Villa and Brighton, had Dean Smith gone into this one with anything but the same approach then, perhaps, there could have been casue for frustration. But no, he stuck to his guns and rightly so.

This team and formation were the exact same decisions I would have taken and, whilst just the numpty on the terrace rather than any form of Championship Manager, it was great to see Dean continue with this attacking intent. Indeed, despite the availability of John Egan, amongst others, the only change was one of personnel as fit again Maxine Colin replaced Josh Clarke in the right back position.

The anti-performance at Chelsea had been followed by a new look team and a new set up. Despite the absence of Scott Hogan, six goals had followed from five different players.

Now make that 8 goals from 7(seven) players in three games as Lasse, Nico, Harlee, KK and Jota were joined by Maxime Colin and Tom Field on the list of recent scorers. For Tom in particular, his first league goal for Brentford – and one which gave us an early lead –  was the perfect riposte to his critic after last Sunday’s post match nonsense.

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Post goal celebrations for Tom Field, c/o the Sky Sports highlight reel

After that, though, the wheels fell off. Aiden McGeady waltzed through the Brentford midfield and defence to equalise from distance for the hosts. Preston then took the lead early into the second half as Callum Robinson stole in totally unmarked between Harlee and Andreas to beat the offside trap and tap home.

And with the Bees pushing to get back into it, Mcgeady (again)  and Daryl Horgan put the game beyond doubt as it became a case of “After you, Claude” from Brentford. Maxime Colin pulled one back late on via a generous deflection but that was how it ended.

As ever, proper match reports are available on the BBC, Besotted or ‘official’. Likewise, you’ve got free video highlights on Sky – at least, until we get the full fat Burridge infused version on Beesplayer lunchtime.

It was interesting to read the post match comments of both Dean Smith and Harlee Dean after this one. Talking to ‘official’, Dean admitted that “We lost our organisation and our discipline, we opened up too easily and they could have scored more. We need to be disciplined and have emotional control. Football is about scoring goals and you can’t get too emotionally involved when the opposition score one”.

As for Harlee, his observations were on a similar line. Along with a captain’s standard post defeat apology to those who travelled, there was an admission of tactical naivety from the players combined with their poor decisions and poor performances. Coming from the man in the midst of the action, these are probably more telling and comments I take heart from.

It is hard to remember that Harlee is only 25. One forgets just how young he was when he first turned out for Andy Scott’s Bees way back in November 2011. Yet here is a man who has fought his way up from non league and loanee to now being club captain and one of the first names on the team sheet.

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Harlee Dean – also appearing on Twitter at FT

Don’t get me wrong, nobody wants to make that long journey home (longer for those who travelled on Virgin Rail if head of media relation’s Chris Wickham’s twitter account was anything to go by) on the back of a 4-2 scoreline. Yet if the players themselves are aware of where they went wrong and where they showed inconsistency (another phrase used by Harlee in that post match article and which has been visible to all but the most blinkered of supporters this season) then there is hope that this newly reinvigorated team can continue to do what they’ve been doing.

We’ve two very tricky fixtures coming up. Midweek trips to teams currently looking for play off points. Reading this Tuesday and then Sheffield Wednesday a week later.

Here’s hoping Dean can hold his nerve in regards to team selection again.

Here’s hoping the team can learn from those mistakes on Saturday.

Here’s hoping that what happened in Preston, stays in Preston.

Nick Bruzon

 

The ultimate sucker punch; the ultimate indignity. Leeds sting Bees with a short corner

18 Dec

After 7 (seven) attempts, Leeds United finally recorded a win over Brentford in modern times as Kyle Bartley’s 89th minute header saw the home side shade a 1-0 win over the Bees at Elland Road. No complaints here. We’ve always said there’s only one stat that counts – balls in the back of the net. Leeds aced that statistical column yet how different it might have all been.

Scott Hogan had a ‘goal’ ruled out for an apparent offside that Dean Smith was left hugely frustrated about at full time. His post match interviews saw him telling the BBC that, “It wasn’t justified. I’ve seen the replays and he was marginally onside” whilst his chat with Channel 5 included the observation that “we’ve had a goal chalked off when it was marginally onside”. Interestingly, the BBC match report claim this one was ‘rightly’ ruled out yet the views that are perhaps most telling are those of former Leeds player Michael Gray.

Sitting on the Channel Five punditry sofa (what a far cry for those early days of an awkward looking studio audience milling around the set), and with the benefit of video replay, his own take on it was : “Looking across the six yard line here, he’s actually onside Scott Hogan when he put’s the ball in the back of the net… the ball does go back a little bit and it should have actually stood.

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Channel 5 footage supported their view – Scott was onside

Yes, Channel Five. Whilst this page normally opts for the Sky clip one has to say that Five’s video package is definitely the winner this weekend. Besides, when the alternate 9pm TV  option last night was Michael McIntyre with both David Brent and Sting (a man whose recent Twitter trending made me fear 2016 had lost another rock legend but, alas, it was worse than that – he was on national TV) then it was a no-brainer to opt for George Riley and co.

At least, until Sunday lunchtime when we get the Burridge free Beesplayer take on things featuring Chris Wickham, Mark Chapman and Sean Ridley. Pity those three doing their best to light up this one – a game that another internet source I stumbled across mid-afternoon described as “anything but a Christmas Cracker”.

Official highlights now available, too

Then again, it was only going to be the proverbial,’gritty game’. Tell me otherwise but it seems one of few chances with those that were taken amounting to nothing even close. At least, until first Hogan and then Bartley had their respective moments.

“Chances were at a premium” said Dean afterwards. This was only ever going to be the case going into this game and sure enough it transpired as Leeds moved to within a couple of points of third place with their late, late winner.

Tom Field started, again. He was mysteriously substituted, again. A shame for so many reasons, not the least of which being there just didn’t seem to be any need to do it. I have to be honest, Dean’s substitution philosophy does seem somewhat random at times. Perhaps the youngster just hasn’t got the legs but, equally, against Burton he came on for Yoann Barbet . Perhaps the Frenchman is still seen as first choice and isn’t fully fit.

Either way, the goal came from a ball dropped amongst our plethora of centre backs, who then parted like the Red Sea. More tellingly it was one delivered from a short corner. A short corner for crying out loud. This most maligned of set pieces works about as frequently as a Brentford win in the play offs yet here it was, reaping reward at the denouement of what should have been at least a point for the visitors. It is a routine that even the Beesplayer team had noted Leeds were favouring and if they could spot this, surely our fleet of coaches would have done the same and looked to shut it down?

Go figure?

Anyway, we’ve lost and all the analysis in the world won’t change a thing. I’d called home win, away win, draw from these three games prior to Burton. But for a rogue corner / offside flag Christmas would have come early in our house. Instead, it’s gruel for lunch next week as an investment made for research purposes only came unstuck at the death.

On the positive side, we’ve got a home clash on Boxing Day to look forward to. Always a favourite, I’ve no doubt the Bees will get back to winning ways on the 26th.

See you then  – preferably with Fields (of goals), and no Sting.

dunemoviefacts

Nick Bruzon

Rasmus speaks ahead of our final game…

7 May

Brentford are almost home. It’s Saturday morning and we’ve a game against Huddersfield Town just hours away. Whatever else happens we’re clear of both QPR and Fulham (whose fans continue to bite) in the Championship table after this most up and down of seasons. And should anybody have twenty minutes and any battery power to kill on the way up to, or back from, Yorkshire then Rasmus has spoken…

But firstly, the game at Huddersfield Town. The overwhelming desire for points aside, the big question for me remains one of team selection. In the best sense. Last weekend’s thumping of hapless Fulham saw Scott Hogan grab a brace, that wonderful 7th 5th minute effort from Sam Saunders and the oh-so confident debut of development squad left back Tom Field in place of Jake Bidwell.

Tom Field

Will Tom Field ‘go again’ ?

I’d love to see both Scott and Tom given another chance. With Scott, it will be a question of risk/fitness although I am sure he is chomping at the bit to try and grab at least one more after such a lengthy period out. To say his recent run has been prolific would be nothing short of an understatement. Indeed, he was nominated for April’s Championship player of the month with barely 90 minutes of football under his belt.

As for Tom, how do you drop Jake Bidwell if he is fit? The answer is that you probably won’t, although at the very least I’d hope an appearance off the bench is used as a sign of the faith we have in the young player. Much like Scott’s recent run, the confidence shown in Tom’s debut performance really cannot be underestimated. Moreso given Fulham tried, and failed, to exploit what they perceived to be a weakness in our team. No goals against and two assists tell their own tale !

As ever, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and only Dean Smith knows who will start. The rest of us mere mortals will find out at around 11.15 this morning whether in the ground, on Bees Player or via Twitter.

For many of us, it will be an attempt at simul-cast. Watching Boro – Brighton with the sound off whilst listening to Mark Burridge and his team via ‘Player’. Much as I’d love to have been there today, family time calls. Instead, I’ll kid myself that it’s a process banking the ‘away trips’ for next season.

The other thing to grab my attention was the video from co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen which appeared on the official site yesterday evening (and you can find at the end of this column). I’m the first to admit being quite critical of Rasmus / the club over the course of the season in regards to their approach (or lack of) to comms. So it was with intrigue that I’ve sat through the twenty minute video piece.

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Rasmus is back on Bees Player

With Chris Wickham very much administering a gentle probing, the over–riding message seemed to be that the current campaign has seen a rebuilding and consolidation exercise. That we are now in a position where the squad has contract stability and is a group of players we’d like together for the next two years.

It was another attempt to explain the strategy of the club. Something that, equally, is a lot easier in hindsight where the initial results of our decisions and the quite apparent observation that new players will take time to ‘bed in’ can be reviewed in the cold light of day.

Being honest, I do get the message Rasmus is trying to give out here although I thought it was a bit harsh at one point when asked if supporters understood what the club are trying to achieve.

I can understand why some fans feel we destroyed the team from last season – that’s how it may have looked from outside…sometimes you have to take one step backwards to take two steps forwards” and later, “A lot of things we have been working on are not things you will see the results of immediately. Our job is to build a platform.I understand it can be difficult when you don’t have that context.”

And here is my gripe – this lack of immediate context. Clearly, he relates to the shorter term viewpoint of fans and their emotional bond with our team, noting, “We’re privileged to be working in an environment where people have so much passion and interest in what you do..,.. we shouldn’t complain about being in a world where people have a lot of passion.”

For many of us, rightly so, it’s all about the result. Dean Smith himself was described as the second hand on a clock that keeps us ticking .  “We play a game, we get a result and we go again next week”.

There is a bigger plan afoot here. That much is evident and it was good to hear him enlarge upon this. But we are back to the context thing. Rasmus talked about building a culture amongst the players. All well and good and, indeed, one I agree with.

How about with the fans? This video was a great start, but it seemed very much the exception rather than the rule, safely delivered after we’d been through what will politely be called ‘the sticky patch’ at the start of 2016.

How hard would it be to have an update once a month  / quarter ongoing? How hard to make more of a regular attempt to engage with us over, what I am sure, will be an exciting but challenging next few seasons.

Otherwise, just how do you expect fans to buy in to what you are trying to achieve  and get that ‘context’ if we aren’t able to peer behind the curtain?

Genuinely. I’m pleased Rasmus has spoken. It is impossible to dispute his observation that we are in 10th place in the Championship, despite the challenges of building a foundation whilst trying to balance contracts, budgets and meet FFP.  What individuals make of the message I’ll leave to you.

As a final thought on this, two quotes.

1-When talking about the problems we’d had at the start of the campaign (pitch, Head Coach, injuries) .. “It definitely will not happen again“.

2-Re the summer transfer window: “I am pretty confident that we’ll leave the transfer window stronger than we entered it”.

Both are big claims and fans don’t forget. I remember being told in September, “The goal is to get stronger after each transfer window.”

Whilst he has used the video to expand on how this has panned out this time around, it will be very interesting to see how that assertion is met at the end of the summer.

For now though, I can’t knock this attempt to explain more to the fans. More of the same ongoing would be good.

Rasmus speaks

 

Nick Bruzon

Benham? Devlin? Wickham? If Sam is away, who is driving?

28 Mar

Sometimes we really do need to ‘big up’ the team behind the team at Brentford. Tuesday sees the development squad host Barnsley at Griffin Park at 1.00pm  – assuming that Storm Katie, which is still battering TW8, has left the place in one piece.

Despite the frustrations that many supporters are feeling at present, there are plenty of positives to enjoy. Not least of which is the fact the our Bees are just a few wins away from guaranteeing a third, successive, season in the Championship. Honestly, if you’d been offered that four of five years ago, surely most of us would have bitten the hand off to grab that chance?

Yes – last season was stunning and the sales / managemement changes / pitch issues/ recent poor run have certainly been in contrast this time around. However, once the dust settles I’d hope we’ve all learned an awful lot more about the direction of the club and the strategy required for long term success.

Yet amongst all this have been plenty of unsung heroes. The ticket office team continue to blaze a trail as club ambassadors. I’ve mentioned them before but each dealing with them  – whether on the phone or in person – gives a renewed feeling of positivity about our club.

Buzz and Buzzette. Despite their ‘drivers’ remaining a closely guarded secret, these über-friendly faces never, ever pass up the offer of a ‘high five’ or turn down a cuddle with an adoring fan. But that’s enough about my own pre-match peccadillos.

Certainly, they are  one of the reasons my lad loves coming to Griffin Park. So much so that when I asked him on Friday, “What do you want to do next week. Anything?” his two answers were, “I want to go and watch Daddy Bees”, closely followed by “Can we play football in the park with Sam and Harlee?

And so half-term break sees me being taken to Griffin Park by a 2 and 3/4 year old to watch the development squad take on Barnsley. “Will Buzz be there?” he asked me after I’d told him that we could, indeed, see the Bees (although unfortunately Sam was on holiday with Harlee).

Hmm. Whilst a great chance for the development squad to experience match day at Griffin Park, this was likely to be a scaled down experience with only Braemar Road open (albeit free admission). I’d imagine Buzz is lazing around the pool in his Thomas Royall’s with Sam but, you never know. Daddy will find out.

And here is where the power of social media, and Brentford brilliance, swung into action thanks to another of those ‘heroes’. Chief Executive Mark Devlin doing his Santa routine at Easter has put in a phone call to Buzz and he’s now coming back from holiday early. Just to be there on Tuesday.

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Mark Devlin swings immediately into action

My own overactive imagination aside, huge thanks to Buzz for cancelling his holiday and sorting out a short notice ‘fly in’. Which, once HB had gone to sleep, did make me start to wonder how this could be arranged so quickly?

Is Buzz on 24 hour standby, like some mascot emergency service? Or could there be a new man or woman donning that famous costume just for this game?

Chris Wickham or Mark Chapman doubling up their media team duties, perhaps? Mr Benham taking inspiration from TV’s  ‘Undercover Boss’? Mark Devlin, unwilling to ‘leave a fan down’, seeing his duties through to an extreme level ? Or Kitman Bob seeing just how comfortably that XXXXXL shirt fits Buzz?

Either way, whoever is Buzz (tomorrow or any day), THANK YOU. And Mark, likewise.

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Buzz does his thing against Blackburn

And just as one final thought, it was only yesterday that this column was talking about the potential catastrophe of using comedians or novelty presenters for major sporting events. Then the boat race happened and proved the point.

I’ll leave that thought with you. If you saw it, you know.

If you didn’t, then just Ask Jeeves. Or Bernard Quackenbush.

Nick Bruzon

Who will come out on top as Brentford and QPR meet again?

12 Mar

Shepherds Bush. Home of the hell on earth that is Westfield. Currently closed music venue The Empire. That now defunct Australian pub. Oh, and also to our near neighbours QPR.

And, for one afternoon , it will also be full of the Brentford faithful. The time has finally come to take the short trip up the road for a West London derby that sees the Bees aiming to make it 6 points out of 6 against the Loftus Road mob for this season. Our 1-0 win at Griffin Park in front of the Sky cameras at the end of October was a victory that secured Championship ‘manager of the month’ for Lee Carsley and has given us recent bragging rights. But can we do it again?

More importantly, can form go out of the window? Let’s hope so. The happy hoops have won 2 out of 3 and have only lost 2 in 10 whilst, for Brentford, it is a case of “Move along please. Nothing to see here”.

move along

An explosive encounter awaits

That game at Griffin Park earlier in the season was one in which Alan Judge and Toumani Diagouraga shone as they bossed the midfield. The Judge has maintained his imperious form, managing to notch up 14 goals along the way and put himself in pole position for Euro 2016 selection this summer. Toumani, of course, is now at Leeds United but in his place we have the potential return of Alan McCormack.

Looking through social media and reading the player’s comments themselves, here is somebody who has the feel of what this game means. There’ll probably be some form of mini meltdown from certain quarters if Macca doesn’t feature today – such is the respect he commands and the physical presence of a man who has become somewhat of an icon for the Griffin Park faithful with his ‘take no prisoners’ approach’ .

Then again, we could play John Swift in goal with Harlee Dean up front and nobody would care if it meant getting on the 237 home with all three points in our back pocket. For all that we have our favourites and those players whom, being honest, we might not have on our teamsheet, today is all about backing the Bees together.

Whoever is picked, in whatever position, the most important thing is doing the double over our rivals after that wonderful night in October.

SWIFT Brentford QPR

October at Griffin Park – Brentford beat QPR 1-0

As for the most influential man on the pitch, our referee is Fred Graham. Whatever you may think of the man in the middle, Brentford’s own king of stats tells me that, “For all the ‘need a sign’ merchants there’s this… Ref fact: No team that begins with the letter ‘B’ has lost when Mr Graham has refereed this season.”

There’ll be close to 3000 visiting supporters crammed into the limited capacity of the Loftus Road away end. Rest assured , that although half the size of what we’ve taken to Fulham (due to ticketing allocation) we’ll be just as noisy. People just seem so up for this one.

For those who can’t make it, there is always Bees Player. Mark Burridge, ably assisted by Ciaran Brett, is the man to guide you through the 90 minutes of action.

I’ve said it before but Mark and Ciaran are fast becoming by favourite commentary matchup since the halcyon days of Billy Reeves and Chris Wickham forming their ‘axis of excitement’. The likes of Natalie Sawyer and Luis Melville are gone, but not forgotten, whilst recent co-pundit of football Mark Chapman seems to have hung up his microphone. However, whilst they all brought their own unique insight to the seat, an unfettered Ciaran is going a long way to standing out as a very intelligent co-host.

Whichever you follow the action today – at the ground, on BBC digital radio with Phil Parry & Billy Reeves (switching to all platforms at FT) via TV , the Internet or ‘Player’  – there are sure to be voluminous amounts of Bees desperately urging their team on to a repeat of October.

I’m surprisingly optimistic about this one though. Forget the current form or a hard fought 1-0, I’ve got a feeling there’s another ‘Fulham away’ coming up. How good would that be?

See you there.

Dallas montage Brentford

could we do this again in the ‘away’ derby?

Nick Bruzon

From ’81 – ’97…and beyond

14 Oct

I was as saddened as everybody associated with Brentford Football Club when I heard the news about Martin Lange yesterday. His passing, at the age of 71, ends one of the strongest associations with a club for who he was synonymous for the majority of the 1980s and 1990s.

Martin Lange - as pictured on the official site yesterday

Martin Lange – as pictured on the official site yesterday

As chairman from 1981-1997, Martin was the man at the helm when my own obsession with Brentford was really growing. Quite simply, I cannot associate one without the other.

Martin’s achievements (which are legion) and his progressive outlook have been well documented and people have, rightly so, been lining up to pay tribute. Gary Blissett, in particular, paints a moving picture on his own facebook page.

The club site is amongst those to give a synopsis of his work in the wider world of football. Campaigns to tackle hooliganism, the proposal of the play offs (I still smile at the irony of these being put forward by the Brentford chairman, given our subsequent record) and even his idea to incorporate squad names and numbers onto players’ shirts.

It was this latter point that had me scratching my head yesterday. I’m sure Martin was the man who, unable to get this pushed through initially, took the next available step and incorporated player names onto their shorts instead. Sure enough, a trawl of the interweb reveals pictorial evidence.

The Holdsworth shorts

The Holdsworth shorts

The team Martin helped put together, containing the likes of Deano and Bliss, which eventually win that epic game at Peterborough back in 1992 is, much like the great man himself, one that will be never be forgotten. RIP Martin Lange.

The other piece of news to catch my attention is one close to my heart and, perhaps, very appropriate today. As somebody who has served on the Bees United board in the past, I’ve seen the role that everyone from Chairman down to supporters can play in our club.

Like BU, BIAS (Brentford Independent Association of Supporters) have proven that fan interaction can play a key part in our club’s future. This Saturday sees their annual AGM and I’d encourage all supporters to attend or, at the very least, read their latest article (written by Gemma Teale) which you can find here. Specifically as this gives supporters who want to get involved a chance to join the BIAS committee aswell as re-electing (or not) the current members.

And for those of you who may be unsure about the prospect of joining a committee, Gemma’s article notes “ I figured it would just be a lot of talking, and minutes and motions and not much else. I’m happy to say I was wrong “.

She goes on to add, “We have quarterly meetings with the club, so get to give Mark Devlin, Kurt Pitman, Chris Wickham and others a really hard time – I mean, have really productive discussions with them. And we make progress, we have influenced the club’s Customer Charter, and we have successfully campaigned for reducing the length of time before a game that advance tickets can be purchased”.

The BIAS AGM takes place at 12pm on Saturday at the Inverness Lodge, Brentford.

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Crunch. The sound of the PR machine moving in to gear.

3 Oct

A day before our trip to Derby County, co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen has ‘exclusively revealed’ more to Brentford supporters about why Marinus Dijkhuizen was replaced as head coach on Monday morning and, equally, the comments made by short-term replacement Lee Carsley after the defeat to Birmingham City.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the video by now – it’s at the bottom of this article for anybody that hasn’t. Likewise, it has been pretty much paraphrased by the local press – copy, past, no opinion, free column – so I’ll save you trawling through the full re-write in print.

Rasmus reveals 'all' on YouTube

Rasmus reveals ‘all’ on YouTube

However, for me the salient point was more what wasn’t said. Given we’ve had the best part of a week to put some positive spin around the news, following the vacuous statements released when the news first broke, I was hoping for more.

I’m not (totally) stupid. There was no way the club were going to air all their dirty laundry in public (that’s a metaphor, I know that kitman Bob Oteng does an excellent job) but to leave us hanging like this just causes more questions. Indeed, the stage was all set for a big reveal when Chris Wickham cut directly to the chase and asked the obvious question, “Why did we feel a change of head coach was necessary?

Along with admitting the club had made a mistake, Rasmus told him, “There were some fundamental approaches at the training ground that didn’t work to the level we expected…it hasn’t improved to the level we want to. In the end we felt the right decision was to make a change rather than protect something we didn’t really believe was going to work

Although he reinforced this point again, adding, “I completely understand how it looks. It wasn’t a decision based on eight league games but three months of training“, there was no explanation as to what the actual training ground problems were. Further, there was no attempt from Chris to get these answers.

Was it the spate of injuries? Were the players being forced to go on three hours of running around the pitch? Did Marinus not bother turning up? Was it limited to playing football manager on the PC? (crappy stats based joke).

The club have embarked on a new direction, something that was made clear as early as last February. Understandably, it’s has been a tough enough sell to get all the fans to accept this change in approach as it is. Frankly, the model is not one we are used to. So when the approach is deemed not to have worked, to not really elaborate on why is very much a missed opportunity.

Whereas Billy Reeves, the master of gentle probing, would have pushed on here, Chris / Brentford official (he may well have had a line to follow) seemed content with that and moved on to the subject of Lee Carsley. Specifically, his comments on Tuesday where he said he hadn’t put his hand up for the job and didn’t want it permanently

Here, at least, Rasmus told us what we expected to hear, and what should probably have been made clearer on Monday/ explained differently on Tuesday, “We always knew that Lee was not going to be a permanent option. He made that very clear to us when we started talking and we respect that but we feel we have a job to do in the short term and he’s the best man to do that….. In hindsight we could probably have dealt with it a bit better and we always knew Lee wouldn’t be our permanent solution”.

Lee spoke to Beesplayer after the game on Tuesday

Lee spoke to Beesplayer after the game on Tuesday

As I noted last time out, this isn’t a pop at Lee. I stand by that. Things can be taken out of context or said in the heat of the moment. Moreso, by somebody stepping in at the 11th hour. But, equally, we have an experienced backroom staff who, yet again, move with all the speed of Jonathan Douglas (certainly at the end of his time here) tracking back into midfield after a run up pitch.

I really thought we might have learned something from the football village. Likewise, and I need to be clear, I know we aren’t going to reveal everything. Much as I’d love if the club would, I’m just not that naïve. But surely there has to be a happy medium?

Even though Rasmus did go on to apologise to the fans and admit we should have handled things differently. I just don’t know why we failed to do so. It’s not hard. Surely?

The ironic thing is that we’ve been so good at straight talking in the past. The fans’ forums in particular being a place where questions have been answered to a surprisingly in depth, and honest, level. As such, to remove Marinus just three days after he and Rasmus had spoken openly to the fans smacks as a very much lost opportunity for us all to be able to put this to bed.

Instead, supporters will likely draw their own conclusions and mutter about conspiracies in the timing or being kept in the dark. And that’s the last thing we need right now. Derby County are going to be tough enough opponents as it is, without the fans on side.

It’s equally frustrating because pretty much everybody passing through the turnstiles has nothing but admiration and respect for Matthew Benham and what he has done for this club. The amount of money he has pumped in to, firstly, save us but then put the club on the path to hitherto unseen excitement has been nothing short of incredible.

We all know the stories of potential mergers, Dave W£bb, Ron Noades, bucket collections, Bees United and BIAS. Matthew has come in and done the hard part (investment) to a level that still makes me pinch myself.

It’s just a shame that those working around him can’t always do the easy part (talking to the fans), to the same degree. After all, with no fans there is no club. It’s just a team in an empty stadium.

That said, when it comes to 3pm I know full well that those lucky enough to make it up to Pride Park will do nothing but roar the Bees on. I’ll be shouting at Beesplayer for this one.

Hopefully for all the right reasons.

Here's hoping for a repeat of these scenes from last weekend

Here’s hoping for a repeat of these scenes from last weekend

Nick Bruzon

Here’s the full video, for those who haven’t seen it