Tag Archives: Ciaran Brett

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

Harlee, thongs and perfect scoring. Dean’s ‘false 9’ secure a genuine 3. Points, that is.

22 Feb

Why do Brentford exist?” Not my words but those of one Sheffield Wednesday fan on Twitter, just prior to kick off. Two hours later he’d found out why, as Dean Smith’s Bees recorded a quite wonderful 2-1 away win. It was a first victory for Brentford over Wednesday in more time than I can remember – certainly since our paths recrossed in the Championship.

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The spirit of Descartes is alive and well at Hillsborough

A looping header from John Egan and a follow up from captain Harlee Dean just before the end of the first period had given the Bees a deserved 2-0 lead going in for their half time cuppa. It was a gap we maintained until the game reached the last gasps of a frantic denouement, Fernando Forestieri pulling one back for the hosts. Yet despite the Owls having, finally, turned the Brentfrod goal into a metaphorical Alamo after what seems a somewhat contained first 80 minutes, the brilliant Dan Bentley and his defence more than held firm.

As ever, decent match reports are on the BBC, ‘official’ or Beesotted. As are Dean’s post match thoughts where, amongst other things, he made the very valid point that Wednesday “Will be a top six side“.  I didn’t travel and nor, does it seem, were many others in a position to do so. What a reward for those who did make it. Yet, likewise, what a treat for those stuck at home relying on Beesplayer or the wireless. Personally, I opted for the later on this occasion (with apologies to Mark Burridge), giving BBC Radio London a spin. It was a twist of the dial well worth making.

Phill Parry’s opening gambit to Billy Reeves of “You half expect the players to come out wearing nothing but leather thongs” as the prematch music built was the shape of things to come. Our commentary team subsequently noting that, perhaps, this would be against FA regulations. I was then lost in a sea of praise for Harlee, conjecture over ‘false 9s’ and general admiration for the luxuriance of Jota’s hair. Great job chaps, and thank you.

False 9’s, you (possibly) say? Indeed. With Lasse Vibe and Philipp Hofmann both missing, an already tough task was made the harder by having no recognised centre forward (don’t be naughty, they were injured….).

This is territory we’d been in before with last season’s visit to QPR. The difference then being Dean’s decision had been deliberate. And horrific. Alan Judge ending up looking like a little boy lost as sea through no fault of his own as the hosts, and it pains me to say, ran riot. Then again, Brentford couldn’t have organised a pissup in a barn door with a banjo on that day – we were that disorganised.

This time around was clearly different. Romaine Sawyers was recalled to team where he filled that ‘false’ position, with Canos and Jota continuing to add width. Likewise, a debut for Rico Henry in place of Tom Field was one which met with instant plaudits. Phil Parry has probably woken up still talking about his incredible pace – such was the impression made by the former Walsall man. Brentford were solid at the back and exciting going forward.

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Catwalk Billy Reeves had provided the one moment of joy the last time we tried a ‘false 9’

As ever, the video highlights are available from Sky. At least, until Bees Player are allowed to put their package up and that’s one I’ll certainly be adding here later. If for no other reason than to see how the ever wonderful Mark Burridge, assisted this time by Ciaran Brett, compared to Phil and Billy.

Mark Burridge adds the words, if not the leather thongs

The huge downside for the night was the injury suffered by Josh McEachran. He was stretchered off late in the first half following protracted treatment from both physios. Whilst Dean Smith had the luxury of KK to fall back on, nobody likes to see any player injured. Moreso one who has really stepped up his game this season and become an integral part of this team. Here’s hoping it looked worse than it actually was.

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Jota speaking for everyone

The other slight negative about the evening was Sergi Canos. Nothing to do with his on-pitch performance but, more, his use of post match Twitter.

Hasn’t anybody told him “We go again”  should only be used after a poor away defeat? By the defence.

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In all seriousness though, one can’t help but get drawn in by his enthusiasm about a return to the Brentford team. Long may it continue. It truly is wonderful to have him back in our ranks and out there on pitch.

And so we roll on to Saturday. A home game with doomed Rotherham United. Common sense says this one will be : lots – nil. However, as Mrs Bruzon would note, common sense is something that yours truly is severely lacking in.

Until then, let’s revel in the job done so far. The aforementioned prematch critic of Brentford was, at least, magnanimous enough to note the performance of Daniel Bentley at full time.

Personally, I’m just amazed how many goals Brentford continue to score. Scott who now?As one Twitter wag noted……

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Nick Bruzon    

Chuckles and points on offer after a two minute fantasy with Rachel.

20 Aug

Another Saturday, another game. For most teams. With Brentford travelling to Rotherham United today and looking to the top of the table, Manchester United, Southampton and Sky have already disrupted things for supporters with the return of Friday night football to our TV screens. More on that later but first, the Rotherham game.

Like Wolves, The Millers are a team that Brentford have gone neck and neck with over the last few seasons. Coming up with the Bees from League One, albeit via something called a play-off victory (I read the words, but I fail to truly grasp the concept) the Millers also begin their third successive season of Championship life.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Steve Evans – much missed. For now.

 

Alan Judge corner Rotherham

View from the Braemar : Alan Judge did it all against Rotherham last season

 

Chuckle brothers Brentford

The new look Chuckle Brothers line up was very short lived

Nick Bruzon

KFC or KC? Could ‘that hashtag’ come out of cold storage?

26 Apr

Brentford visit Hull City AFC tonight, hoping to continue a great run of form that sees the Bees unbeaten this month and, with 5 wins out of 6, closing in on Birmingham City in 9th position. Whilst I don’t want to overly dwell on the ghost of hashtags past, could 2014’s much maligned #Novemberkings raise it’s head once more?

Looking back over this campaign and the previous two seasons, the Bees have only lost  3 times out of 19 in April. 2013/14 saw us go down 1-0 at Swindon Town and then 4-1 to Colchester United after promotion had been assured. Last season saw a solitary defeat  with the Bees losing 0-1 at Sheffield Wednesday as we closed in on the play-offs.

That’s 16 games unbeaten. Earning point(s) tonight would take our record to 17 wins or draws out of 20 over the last three Aprils. With it, a possible manager of the month for Dean Smith and could there be a new hashtag for Brentford ‘official’ on twitter? Might there be a new contender for #Novemberkings crown as one out three most awful pieces of social media. (actually, as a general rule of thumb see any piece of ‘comedy’ social media for awful).

Well, as ever, there’s only two places to follow the action ‘live’. For those hardy enough to make the trip to the North East on a school night, the KC stadium and undiscovered delights of Hull Marina await. Hats off to those travelling. Seriously. Any thoughts about a trip to this new stadium were crushed pretty much as soon as the fixture computer dealt us a midweek hand. Shame.

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Hull Marina

For those staying at home, its Bees Player. Mark Burridge is our man at the helm, I believe assisted by Ciaran Brett and match day programme editor Mark Chapman.

Our commentator par-excellence (Burridge) was the butt of many jokes about his own ‘jinx’ factor recently. The April run began the moment he, temporarily, hung up his mic for a three game absence owing to his own time at the Augusta Masters golf (watching rather than competing).

Thankfully, his return to the commentary hot seat has seen the Bees continue their upward surge. Mark has had the pleasure of guiding us through 2 wins and a draw. What better man to have at the helm with the Bees aiming to make it 7(seven) unbeaten.

That said, if not Mark then there has to be some other factor involved in our current run. Beyond Dean and the players, I mean.

Well, let’s just say that a supporter who we’ll simply call ‘Dan’ to protect his anonymity (too obvious. How about Mr. S?) has been taking a well timed April break in Korea. And as ‘Dan’ has been out of the UK, the Bees have climbed the table.

Nothing to do with Lasse and his goals. Nothing to do with the team being rejigged. Nothing to do with Dean pulling it all together or Scott Hogan’s return . We all know football is jinx driven… 🙂

‘Dan’ you may not be able to enjoy the Bees in action but your sacrifice is appreciated. You stick to the KFC Tabasco chicken and we’ll stick to keeping things going at the KC.

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Korean deliciousness coinciding with the Bees unbeaten run

Nick Bruzon

Normal service resumes on the pitch. Off it, a different matter

2 Apr

What a difference a day makes. Brentford finally got back to winning ways with as comprehensive a win as you could hope for at free falling Nottingham Forest. 3-0 and a second half performance that the subsequent highlights show was as one sided as the score suggests. And with Bolton Wanderers losing at home, Tuesday night could see the Bees all but secure safety whilst sending the doomed Trotters down to League One.

Much as I’d have love to have been at The City Ground, this was a game to far thanks to a family holiday. Fair play to those who made it up to Nottingham, if for no other reason than they had the pleasure of witnessing this first hand rather than struggling through Bees Player (more on that, later).

So where do we start? Well, as ever, this is all about ‘the other stuff’ rather than any serious match report. First and foremost, Brentford are now 9 points (effectively 10 with goal difference) clear of the relegation zone. In a season that has been haunted by sales, managerial crises (plural), pitch-gate and more injuries than the average episode of Holby City, to be all but safe is nothing short of, if not a miracle, due reward for the team and the fans

With Bolton Wanderers next up at Griffin Park, a win for The Bees will surely see us safe for another season. Let’s just be clear (and this has been said before but it’s worth repeating), Brentford are facing a third successive season in The Championship. Victory on Tuesday night should see us home whilst, combined with a win for Fulham, banging the final nail into the Bolton coffin.

And if ever you needed further incentive, results in the Premier League today left Aston Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle United four points adrift of safety. What a campaign already beckons in 2016/17 if we can see ourselves over the line.

Post match celebration on Social Media (specifically Twitter) provided all the expected exuberance from players and supporters alike. Not to mention some unusual posts.

Harlee Dean led the charge with the observation that the win was, “Like a total eclipse. A win and a clean sheet”.

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Perhaps it’s just me but I’m struggling with that one . Still, I’ll forgive Harlee anything he wants if results like that keep coming.

Then it hit me. I’m sure we’ve been here before. I’m happy to stand corrected but the last time Harlee ended up involved in anything Eclipse related, I’m sure it was more a case of his full moon ?

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From Full Moon to a total eclipse

Nico Yennaris summed up the mood perfectly. His Twitter quote focussing on the positive rather than the obligatory ‘going again.’ Of all the players he has had to endure the most unwarranted criticism this season. And unfairly in my opinion. How pleasing that it was he who grabbed the decisive second goal today, at the same time opening his account for the Bees.

As he noted afterwards,  “Great to get back to winning ways. Excellent performance from the boys and delighted to get my first goal for the club” .

The other real point for those of us relying on the Internet for our match updates was the absence of Mark Burridge and Ciaran Brett on Beesplayer. I know Ciaran was present but his role seemed limited to a brief cameo rather than the excellent wingman position he’d made his own in recent weeks.

Instead, the returning Mark Chapman proved once more that being able to produce an award winning programme does not, by default, make you a pundit. And I’m sorry – I don’t want to sound critical on a day like today. But it just highlighted the fantastic service we’ve had this last month or so and Ciaran was sorely missed.

Likewise, instead of perhaps having an injured/ex player as part of the comms team and talking us through that ‘big match’ experience, we had Mark talking us through his miss at the Feltham Power League on Thursday night. Surely paying subscribers deserve better than this? Absolutely.

As for Mark Burridge, how do you replace perfection? With our commentator par-excellence now on holiday, Alan Denman had the unenviable job of filling in. Moreso, he was tasked with a first half that seemed to provide all the excitement of a pre-season friendly. That was no fault of his and, as we are all aware, the second 45 was certainly a different kettle of fish.

Actually, I thought Alan did well to keep it together. How do you make paint drying (first half, at least) sound exciting? But regardless of the action, or lack of, what was the reason behind the constant references to Yeneris rather than Yennaris; Lassa rather than Lasse ? I would never attempt commentary, or being a pundit, but is it really that hard to get the names of your team right?

As I say, it seems trite to be overly critical. The point is made more to demonstrate the symbiotic partnership we’ve been treated to from Mark B and Ciaran.

Let’s hope that, as we’ve seen today on the pitch, normal service is soon resumed off it once more.

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”.

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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.

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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

X-rated stuff at Rotherham. And that was just off the pitch

28 Feb

Two steps forward, two steps back. Not so much Paula Abdul and M.C. Skat Kat (kids, ask your parents) but the feeling around Brentford after a 2-1 defeat at Rotherham United yesterday. The Millers were always going to be tough opposition, given their perilous position in the relegation zone and so it proved. But with basement club Charlton Athletic going down to Reading by the odd goal in 7(seven) yesterday, at least we have a chance ‘to go again’ next weekend.

What can you say? I wasn’t at this one so had to rely on Bees Player, where Mark Burridge and Ciaran Brett brought us the action along with a cameo from Sean Ridley who appeared just before kick off. Our video whizz kid popped up holding what Mark described as the biggest hot dog ever, to opine further on the forthcoming game.

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A sausage added to the pre-match chat

In addition, one of the home supporters seemed to be doing his level best to join in with the commentary once it all kicked off. It was the sort of language more suited to an x-rated movie than a football match and highlighted the perils of building the press box amongst the supporters. One for the builders to take note of for Lionel Road, when it happens.

He seemed quite sure that the Brentford players were unable to do something, although I couldn’t quite figure out what. This, despite his constant screaming of “You can’t, you can’t” (at least, I think that’s what he was shouting). ‘Defend’ was the suggestion from one terrace wag. Well done Mark B in maintaining his composure throughout this first half barrage.

If it didn’t sound great the subsequent highlights show Rotherham had the lions’ share of chances. And goals. Indeed, when the most memorable thing to come out of the afternoon seems to have been the presence of Toumani in the away end (well played, that man) it’s one we’re just going to have to chalk off to experience and hope the Charlton game sees things get back to normal. Whatever normal is for this season.

Mark and Ciaran do their thing.

I have no quibbles whatsoever with Dean’s team selection. It was about as attacking as it comes given the options available to him at present. Sadly though, the heroics against Wolves just couldn’t be repeated.

Indeed, the lunchtime aperitif of Wolves v Derby showed that the men from Molineux can play a bit, when they put their mind to things. A 2-1 home victory was all the more noteworthy after a brace from George Saville of all people. Despite my own assertions on Wednesday, perhaps he can find the back of the net when he puts his mind to it.

As ever, Twitter was the other place to be for those not able to make the journey. Luis Adriano showing he knows as much about me when it comes to reading a game. It’s all his fault, perhaps?

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Is Luis a goalkeeper? It’s all his fault

Then there were the post-match tweets from the players. Honest enough from their perspective although a somewhat familiar path being trod here. As one supporter (Jacks Dad) noted, “Cut and paste working overtime this season.

Harlee: Sorry to all who travelled up. No where near good enough.

Sergi Canos: Sorry to all who travelled up today…

I thought we might have turned a corner after the poor run that had preceded the Wolves game. Sadly it wasn’t to be, this time. To be honest, after a season of managerial upheaval, the pitchgate affair and all those player sales, when we look back it’ll probably be considered quite an achievement for Brentford to stay up this season. And if we can do it without any further unrest over the next few months, all the better.

Then again, we’re Brentford FC. We don’t do things normally or quietly.

It’s only Sunday morning yet already I can’t wait for the Charlton game. This is the club we support – whether in the Championship, Ryman Premier or any division. We may not always agree with the team selections, the staff appointments, the transfer policy or the tactics. We may not always leave the game happy when the referee blows his final whistle. Certainly, we may not always agree with each other.

But I’m a much happier man for knowing that regardless of everything else, the next game is just 6 days away.

Until then, here’s Paula Abdul and Skat Kat. Kind of….

Nick Bruzon

Will it be a red card for Mark or is all now forgiven?

27 Feb

Brentford travel to Rotherham United on Saturday afternoon, hoping to build on the back of Tuesday night’s 3-0 win against Wolves. On paper, the neutral would probably mark this as an ‘away’ on their coupon. The Millers are struggling in the relegation zone whilst online bookmakers show the Bees as slight favourites. But no pre-match bet can ever factor in that most random of elements – the referee. Today’s is one who, over the early stages of his career, managed to earn himself a ban for having at dig at Liverpool (amongst the several other clubs he managed to upset).

Mark Brown is our man in the middle today and, being honest, his stats are very impressive for this season. I don’t recall him troubling us in the past whilst 71 yellow and 2 red in his 21 games over 2015/16 suggest a record that is hardly in Trevor Kettle or Keith Stroud territory . The only slight caveat being that the four he has officiated at Championship level (he is yet to grace the Premier League) have seen 16 bookings and a red.

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Mark Brown – as seen in his Football League website bio (worth a read)

Of course, this could just mean the Championship is a more physical place and, likewise, two of those games have involved Birmingham City. In those encounters alone, 11 of the 16 yellows, along with one of the reds, were shown.

During his first season as a referee, Brown himself was shown the red card. He received a three week ban in 2011 for making fun of then Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard on Twitter. Specifically, his highlighting the Reds’ unlikely chance of winning the Premier League that season.

The football authorities took a somewhat dim view of this although, personally, I think it simply demonstrates his excellent knowledge of football. Liverpool have struggled to win a raffle over the last 10 years but, maybe, this Sunday will be different.

Trawling the internet (or, rather, typing ‘Mark Brown referee’ into google) took me to the BBC, where November 2013 saw him upsetting Dave Kitson of Oxford United. His assessment included the terms “horrific“, “horrendous“, and “He is probably the most arrogant man I have ever come across on the pitch in my life”.

According to Burnley fan site, ‘Clarets Mad’, that debut season saw Brown “ridiculously” send off Kieran Trippier for two yellow cards. They go on to note that manager Eddie Howe (during his spell of not being a Messiah), “accused him of being too influenced by the crowd

All of this was a while ago, of course. Brown doesn’t appear to have troubled anybody too much in recent seasons and his forays into the Championship would seem to suggest his career is now on the rise. Here’s hoping. There’s nothing worse than a card happy ref to ruin what should, otherwise, be a fascinating contest between a side fighting for survival and a Bees outfit who will be keen to show that Tuesday wasn’t a one off.

I’m full of confidence in regards to Mark. Stats don’t normally lie and those previously mentioned instances are in the past. Besides (crowbar alert) we could have Trevor Kettle ruining the show. When I said at the top end that no pre-match bet can factor in the ref, there is always an exception. And it is Kettle.

His reputation has now become so synonymous in the football world with poor performance that supporters are placing bets on his awarding a penalty / showing red today ( at odds of 6/1 and 4/1 respectively, for the record). The game is the bottom of league two clash Dagenham and Yeovil. With all to play for in a desperate struggle, could this come in…?

Whilst, ordinarily, no-one wants to see those sort of bets come in (punters aside), the pun potential of “players in hot water”, “tempers boiling over” and “T. Kettle left the manager steaming” can never be overlooked.

They are always a favourite of the Bees Player commentary team who, as I get that crowbar out once more,  will be a lifeline for many today. The Bees’ travelling support has been wonderful this season but another trip to Yorkshire so soon after Sheffield Wednesday is a huge undertaking.

As such, I’d imagine today’s two man team of Mark Burridge (our commentator par excellence) and Ciaran Brett (whose punditry skills are fast growing on me and, being honest, is stronger when working in a less crowded commentary box) will have a significant audience. Certainly, I’ll be amongst them when the show goes ‘live’ at 2.30pm.

Whatever cracks were made at the top end of this column about it being an ‘away’ win, I see it as anything but a guaranteed. Simply put, Rotherham have to win given their precarious position at the wrong end of the Championship table.

Let’s just hope the Bees show the same commitment that they did against Wolves. Likewise, that Mark Brown continues the same form he has shown this season.

Rotherham table

Are bums starting to squeak?

Nick Bruzon

Killer Owls slaughter Bees in a Valentine’s massacre

14 Feb

Brentford fell to a second straight defeat as Sheffield Wednesday inflicted a 4-0 thrashing on the 10 man Bees. Following last week’s reverse at Brighton, this made it 7(seven) goals against without reply as we were left dead in the water after referee Scott Duncan showed straight red shown to Yoann Barbet in just the fifth minute.

In a repeat of the corresponding home game earlier in the season, Lucas João grabbed a last minute winner. This time, though, there was no question as to who deserved the points. The encounter at Griffin Park may have seen things end with a hard fought 2-1 in favour of the visitors but yesterday’s result was one which, if we are being honest, they’ll probably be disappointed not to have ended with a bracketing.

If we’re being equally honest, their cause was massively helped by the sending off. Barbet was adjudged to have brought down Gary Hooper with the Wednesday player clean through on goal after running onto a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). It may have been Valentine’s weekend but this was one card that Yoann won’t have wanted to receive. I’ve watched it and rewatched it yet my own opinion remains wooly.

Undoubtedly, the Brentford man has raised a hand to Hooper’s shoulder, to which the striker needed no further invitation to go straight down. Was it a professional foul? Was the reaction exaggerated? Who knows. Certainly not the ref and one can sympathise with Dean Smith’s assertion that, “I don’t believe the referee can make the decision. I think he guessed. He’s directly behind it, 40 yards away. I thought it was a poor decision.”

yoann-scarf-4x3277-2506113_478x359

Yoann Barbet – his sending off left Dean Smith seeing red

Put it this way. Had the same thing happened at Griffin Park, we’d have been baying for blood and a red card. There’d have been uproar had it not been given. That said, the ref had enough time to think about it – such was the length he had to run in order to flourish his card – so could at least have consulted his linesman and used any available help to make a potentially game changing decision.

Guess or not, Hooper had been in a great position and with the Bees forced into a rejig (Jack O’Connell coming on for the recalled Konstantin Kerschbaumer) parity lasted until just the 12th minute. Fernando Forestieri’s header giving the hosts an early lead.

Hooper doubled it with a great strike after a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood claiming the assist for that one as Hooper ignored the presence of Jack O’Connell to fire home with a sweet first touch. It was a cracking strike and deserving of all plaudits – such was the technique and precision employed.

It was game over just before half time. A long ball over the top (sound familiar?) reached Kieran Lee in the box. The Wednesday midfielder bamboozled Harlee Dean whose non-challenge was, at best, an attempt to jump into his opponent after Jack O’Connell had been beaten for the cross in.

Yet despite a marginally better second-half showing from the Bees , it was Sheffield Wednesday who would eventually extend the lead further. A long ball threaded through the midfield (hey, at least it wasn’t over the top) found Lucas João. With Jack and Harlee ambling (now there’s an idea for a Partridge TV show – “Ambling with Jack and Harlee”), David Button could only help push it into his own net and will, perhaps, be disappointed with that one.

4-0. Game over. Ouch.

Not even Mark Burridge can salvage this one

There is one school of thought that would suggest the referee ruined this one. The Bees had been the stronger team in the opening spell before it became 10 against 11 and were left with no hope from that point. True enough, but to be cut open so easily and so consistently was nothing but shambolic. Blame the ref, absolutely, but we need to look inwards too. Certainly, we gave our opponents a huge helping hand with what could politely be called ‘schoolboy defending’.

Likewise, take nothing away from Wednesday. They are where they are on merit and will present a major threat to anybody with play-off aspirations. Certainly those are aspirations that Brentford can no longer harbour – even Ciaran Brett from the club media team admitted during the game that those pre-match claims had been “optimistic” .

So what of the Bees? Our current form is starting to worry and the current statistical trend doesn’t make great reading. We’ve only scored 6 goals in our last 8 games – and 3 of those came up at Preston, our only win all year. Indeed, yesterday’s result means we’ve lost 6 out of our last 8 matches whilst the ‘winning run’ stretches to 5 out of 18.

With the top of the table out of reach, and Brentford now occupying 13th, should we be worried about the other end? It sounds ludicrous to even mention such an option and a 14 point gap (combined with ’less bad’ goal difference) should be too much with 15 games to go.

post SW table bbc

The BBC table shows us firmly ensconced mid-table. For now

More, its just disappointing to see the great work put in by Lee Carsley and the squad, where we were within spitting distance of the top 6 after the disaster of ‘The Marinus Experiment’, now falling away amidst further departures and a poor run of results.

Nobody has a divine right to be any good. Nobody has a divine right to promotion. Nobody stays up by default. You need to work at these things and earn them. We did so much of that last season and absolutely deserved what we got, despite a team that many suggested were ‘punching above their weight’. Personally, I thought such a suggestion to be disrespectful. We were a team that thrived on spirit and skill who could, arguably should, even have gone one better.

Now we have made the decision to dismantle and rebuild. On-field, the transfer policy that is being driven by our co-directors of football is certainly open to debate. I get that money talks and we can’t force players who don’t want to stay to remain here. Likewise, many talk about this being a longer term strategy to keep us financially viable until the Lionel Road stadium is able to be built.

All true. Yet few could deny that the change in morale, motivation and performance make this seem a world away from where we were 12 months ago. For those football fans whose week is based around the last result and looking forward to the following game (surely the point of going?), it’s a tough place to be at present.

The next few weeks, let alone the next few months, are going to be very interesting indeed.

Nick Bruzon

Bees stung at the death but is this a transfer clue from Mr Benham?

3 Jan

Oh, the irony. For the second time in three away games, Brentford have been ‘Jota’d’ . Following Kenwyne Jones’ 90th minute strike to give Cardiff City a 3-2 win, Maikel Kieftenbeld repeated the act a minute earlier as Birmingham City consigned The Bees to a 2-1 defeat at St. Andrews yesterday. With £3.7m winger Demarai Gray left out, seemingly on his way to Leicester City, the stage was set for the Bees to take advantage but, instead, Birmingham took the honours.

What can you say? In a game between two identically placed teams pushing for the play-offs, a win was vital. And, indeed, it was the Bees pushing for this that ultimately resulted in our downfall as a stray ball from Harlee, well inside the opposition half, allowed the Blues to catch us on the break.

That’s not to blame it all on one man, far from it. This is a team game and we win or lose together. Likewise, given the scenario should there have been a case for taking the point and keeping pace? Moreso given Ipswich Town and Burnley drawing 0-0.

Well, for me I like that Dean Smith had his troops ‘go for it’ until the very end. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t have taken our chances earlier in the game.

But even given our domination (63% possession), as we’ve said many times the only stat that actually counts is balls in the back of the net. The false position in the table in which Birmingham found themselves (really? after 24 games?) that the Bees Player analysts referred to early on proved to be anything but. Then again, despite the ongoing excellence of Mark Burridge (right down to his ‘old school’ use of “denouement”, Billy Reeves style) I did wonder if his co-commentators had been on the last of the Christmas sherry.

The observation that it’s definitely more than a yellow. Is it a red? (following the Jon Toral ‘challenge’ on Jake Bidwell) led to a peculiar discussion about orange cards whilst Birmingham’s winning goal involved Bidwell or someone at the back post. As for half-time guest Tim Street’s novel suggestion that a yellow card was correct because Jake hadn’t been seriously hurt, words fail me… I hadn’t realised that a compound fracture was a pre-requisite for the ref to show red.

I could go on but that’s not the point. It’s old ground and, despite the obvious passion, being able to produce an award winning programme or manufacture website content does not, by default, make you a pundit. As a paying subscriber, that’s my opinion and I’m sorry if it offends anybody. Although by that logic, given the amount of gumph churned out here, perhaps it might be time to start posting the CV to Channel 5.

So Birmingham City leapfrog the Bees who slip to 10th but still remain right amongst it. And, more importantly, we have control very much in our own hands with two home  league games to follow. First up, leaders Middlesbrough and then the televised clash with Andre Gray’s high flying Burnley. Before all that is an FA Cup game which, no doubt, will be used to give some of the squad players and subs a start. 3 matches in 6 days is a huge ask at the best of times, let alone when you are still in the play-off mix

Other points of note for the day are, in no particular order:

Our kit. The regular reader (should such an individual exist) will know my feelings around the new black ‘third’ shirt – truly a thing of beauty. However, the colour clash produced against a team playing in dark blue could surely have been avoided had we been allowed to use our red and white stripes (as we did in the home game at Griffin Park).

Birmingham shirts

The black wasn’t popular amongst those watching

Jota. Supposedly injured in the warm up/training(depending where you read), let’s hope there’s nothing more to it than that. One point the Bees Player team made that I did agree with will be the impact that a fully fit Jota will bring. The attacking potential, and battle for places, in a midfield that already includes the likes of Alan Judge and Sergi Canos is an intriguing one.

Matthew Benham. Our owner has started to follow Pedro Chirivella Burgos on Twitter. Is there anything more to this than his signing for Liverpool alongside Sergi Canos from the Valencia academy? Or can we read it as the first sign of a ‘cryptic clue’ style revelation about an impending loan?

The festive period is over. But that didn’t stop us attempting an elaborate free kick routine with a Christmas tree style line up. The chorus of boos that accompanied the set up for this was clear for all to hear and whilst, sadly, it came to nothing the logic behind it is sound. Do all possible to obscure the view of the defenders and goalkeeper.

Alan Judge was just off target this time but Sam Saunders must have been licking his lips on the bench. It was a set up I’ve not seen before and Channel 5 have a nice video link of the action on their Twitter feed.

Football on 5 freekick

Channel 5 show us the free kick routine

Stats. We’ve already mentioned these briefly but today’s Last Word goes to the undisputed king of statistics, Luis Melville. Tempting fate or the wrong stat at the wrong time as we approached the end of yesterday’s game?

When even the guru that is Luis calls it like this then, perhaps, you just have to accept it was never going to be our day.

Luis stat twitter

Luis tempts the footballing gods….

Nick Bruzon