Tag Archives: Crystal Palace

Time to do another Arsenal? Or will a returning hero ruin the party?

11 Sep

Saturday and the Premier League is back. Brentford host Brighton in our second top flight fixture at Lionel Road following the game with Arsenal. As if anybody needed any further reminder about that one. A 2-0 home win that saw us hit the dizzy heights of first place and sent Mikel Arteta’s team to the bottom of the table. A place they still occupy with a total of no points and no goals. For the Bees, unbeaten and a record of WDD is a wonderful start with the opportunity to try and kick on again today. With Wolves (a) and then Liverpool (h) next up For Brentford in the league, nobody could deny the intensity of games or ongoing calibre of opposition at this level. Even Arsenal. Still, that was then and this is now. Brighton are coming and with them, of course, one particular name. One particular man. One Neal Maupay.

Maupay – a work of art

Shithousery. That’s the word (I’m assuming the editor has resisted the temptation to include it in the ‘family-friendly’ programme article today – although if you want to find out its available around the ground for the price of £4) . The undisputed master of this dark art. And we loved him for it. Absolutely loved him. The goalscoring wasn’t bad either. Ruining Fulham’s promotion push at the last minute or just ruining Leeds United. The pint sized magician was as skilled with the ball at his feet as he was with his studs on the opposition. He swore he’d stay. We were distraught when he left. We’ve all moved on. Now, we have a chance to offer a welcome back and then see how both he, and Brighton, have progressed.

Leeds United. Ruined. Many, many times

I have to say I’m excited going in to this one. Plus ça change. Table wise, Brighton have finished bottom quarter in the four seasons since we parted ways in the Championship and they hit the top flight. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that makes them (relatively) ‘easier’ opposition. Just to maintain this level is a feat in itself whilst, as the preview on ‘official’ notes in 2020/21 “Graham Potter’s side played far better than their results suggested last term. On expected goals, Albion finished fifth, with 20 points more than they actually earned, and with the third meanest defence in the division”.

Whilst the table doesn’t lie, performance needs to be noted. If nothing else, they currently sit above the Bees having already picked up six points. The one blot on the copy book coming at home to Everton last time out.    

For Brentford, everybody is fit barring long term injuries Mads Bech and Josh Dasilva. Our squad has been bolstered by the signing of Danish International Mathias Jørgensen, aka ‘Zanka’. He’ll be filling the Winston Reid role of emergency centre back and comes in as cover for Mads on a one year contract. With a wealth (is there any other sort? Gamut, perhaps) of experience, including Euro 2020 and World Cup 2018 he sounds like a shrewd acquisition. One can only presume bench, at best, today. The key question being whether Frank Onyekareturns in midfield or will be left…waiting for Ghoddos to lose his place. Sorry. Apologies. I’ve finally done it. But given Saman has been with us since September 2020, that’s not bad going.  

With that Portuguese chap set to debut for Manchester United today, it’s a safe bet we won’t be first up on Match Of The Day this evening. To be fair, the only thing stoping us being ninth in the running order is the fact there are only eight games taking place this afternoon. Fair enough. Reputations need to be earned. Praise not just handed out for the sake of it. With ghoulish fascination about the fate of Arsenal aswell as Spurs being handed the opportunity to stride further clear at the top, it doesn’t take a genius to pick the setlist. That’s football. 

Yet this afternoon’s game has all the hallmarks of a really close fought battle. A hotly contested encounter which will be played out in front of a full house. The raucous crowd sure to lift the players as they have done in the previous three games.  Hey, get it right and Gary Lineker may even have us on his couch before Watford – Wolves. 

I can’t wait. For the game (I’ll be asleep by the time MOTD comes around). Roll on 3pm.

See you there. And don’t forget your Covid pass…..

Full time against Arsenal – more of the same would be incredible….l

Nick Bruzon

A poor man’s Hans Gruber and a drum. Trip to the Palace reminds us what we’ve missed.

22 Aug

Brentford ahead of Manchester City. Not my words, Carol. Those of crisps star Gary Lineker on TV’s Match Of The Day last night (definitely not this morning on ‘catch up’ after falling asleep on the sofa). This, following a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace. As eventful a game as one could imagine from the scoreline with both teams feeling aggrieved not to have taken all three points by the time referee Martin Atkinson called a halt to proceedings. Thomas Frank would take the applause from the travelling support as his, our, team, remain unbeaten in the Premier League. The current table seeing us sitting in fourth place with only Liverpool, Brighton and Everton ahead. Today’s fixtures will, no doubt, alter the balance of this fledgling ladder but, as it stands, there can be no complaints. Two games. Four points. None conceded. Champions League spot occupied. Don’t @ me. The stats don’t lie. As Shakira almost once sang.

Full Time. Thomas takes the applause and praises the fans

Where to start? Support levels were stonking. From both teams. Brentford loud, louder and ending it loudest. Palace, with a frenzied welcome of flag waving that transformed into huge vocals which the silent Arsenal visitors we had last week could only dream of.

All this, before resorting to that most heinous of football crimes. A drum. Oh for crying out loud, a f*&king drum. Still, as one observer put things, it was the only thing they could beat.

A drum. Pass the bucket

On pitch, Palace started at 100mph. The team looking to make up for lost time after last weekend and almost getting off the mark within minutes – only the frame of the goal keeping David Raya’s sheets clean when, by all rights, they should have been left aswell and truly blemished from close in. Conor Gallagher the man coming close but, in truth, it was the best opportunity they had and symptomatic of their game. No cutting edge when fast paced attack reached the final third. Benteke also with a good chance whilst Sergi played  Wilfried Zaha like a second hand fiddle.  The Ivorian resorting to a second half hissy fit that left him well and truly rattled. He wasn’t alone though. 

See also:  the chap in the supermarket end sporting the turtle neck jumper, blazer and slacks. He looked like the murderer in an episode of Midsomer Murders. It was the librarian wot did it. Or, perhaps, the classic Hollywood ‘late 80s’ English criminal. A poor man’s Hans Gruber who seemed somewhat perturbed by the fact that the Brentford fans were making noise. It all ended with him being invited to leave early into the second half before an eventual, calmer, return.  

Ahh, McClane…

As for Brentford, Bryan Mbeumo came closest. Hitting the Crystal Palace bar from a first half free kick whilst Ivan Toney and Frank Onyeka also had chances. Good chances. Sergi and Bryan linking up wonderfully down the right all game. Frank the Tank bossing midfield. Ajer travelling out of defence with all the comfort of a man who the ball tied ti his foot. Rock solid along side Ethan and Pontus when called upon. And when they were beaten, David Raya was there. If he’d been a virtual passenger against Arsenal, this time round he was well and truly needed. A fingertip save from James McArthur the other real moment of danger from the home side but our man was equal to it.

In the end though, we’ve left feeling almost disappointed. It was a game Brentford could have won. Perhaps should have. Yet credit to our opponents. The pace at this level is relentless. Lightning fast. Reflexes need to be that bit quicker and the fact we are, to date, holding our own is nothing to be sniffed at. This team has been prepared to compete over the last few seasons ans now we are here. Now we are doing it. So far. 

Special note for referee Martin Atkinson. It was as hard fought and physical a game as we’ve had in a while. Challenges flying in and he did everything possible to let the game flow. Even to the detriment of the players with the trainers coming onto the field a number of times. This was something Jurgen Klopp would talk about after Liverpool beat Burnley at lunchtime, saying that “it’s like we’re going 10 to 15 years backwards.” with officials now encouraged not to penalise ‘trivial’ things in order to let games flow. 

I’m all for an open game but there were a number of decisions and fouls, for both teams, where the decision making process seemed to be one where the ref simply chose not to see. Balance needs to be struck. Nobody wants the stop-start cardathons of Keith Stroud on a bad day, but there is also a level of physicality which if let unchecked will end up seeing somebody hurt. Perhaps its as much frustration after seeing a number of calls that, obviously, should have gone our way either not given or awarded to the hosts. At least we’ve not had VAR getting in the way. Yet. Time will tell how things play out on those fronts. 

Next up in the league for Brentford, a trip to Aston Villa. A chance to reunite with Dean Smith, Ezri Konsa and perhaps Ollie Watkins. We’ve sold 2,400 for that one. So far. If it was noisy at the Palace, there’s sure to be a party in the Park. Confidence is high and excitement levels even higher. Perhaps we might even make it out of ‘last spot’ in the Match of the Day running order. With Manchester City kicking off before us and playing Arsenal, we’ll need to win to retain our place ahead of them. Hey, one can fantasise. Only 36 games to go….. 

Until then, we’ve a chance to reflect on just how good it was being able to travel. Going on the road once more. Being part of the massed ranks of travelling fans. A moment that has, for so long, felt a million miles away from being possible. A chance to travel with friend and family. To see familiar faces and jumpers. Yet it has happened . And it was amazing. H getting into the atmosphere like a duck to water.

Now bring on the Villa so we can do it all again.

Nick Bruzon

One Flying Ant does not make Flying Ant Day. Can we deliver another kick up the Arsenal?

21 Aug

Arsenal despatched. Victory for Brentford over the hapless Gunners was only last week yet already it seems a lifetime ago. Eight days later and now we have the chance to do it all again. This time, a much stiffer challenge in the road trip to Crystal Palace. A short hop to Selhurst Park and the question of whether the Bees can recapture that spot at the top of the Premier League which was held for a tantalisingly brief period at the start of the weekend. Hey, the table doesn’t lie and it was enough to see Thomas Frank secure the League Managers Association award for performance of the week. Yet with Liverpool hosting Burnley at 12.30pm, we could find ourselves going in to this one 3 points off the top (a situation which would also see number 26 and his team rooted to the foot of the table).

Award winning

Look. We’ve done the Arsenal game to death. They were about as uncohesive a unit as one could ever see. An impotent shadow of their former selves. A team in big trouble with Chelsea and Manchester City up next. That’s their problem though. You can only beat who is in front of you and Brentford were magnificent. Calm. Confident. Dangerous. Clinicial.

Sergi’s goal a stunner. Oh, the smile that lit up Lionel Road as that one was celebrated. Absolutely priceless. How much egg on how many faces? Christian Norgaard doubling the lead as an Arsenal defence which would have struggled to mop up the floor, let alone a ball into the box, stepped aside to let him through. It could have been more. Frankly, who cares. The win was all that matters.

Yet as the old saying goes, one flying ant does not make flying ant day.  Brentford? Check. Slough? Check. Boston Manor? Check. At least three seperate sightings before you can be happy we’ve reached the most celebrated day in the Heaxapodal calendar. Before we can get too carried away. Everything from last week has now been and gone. Fun though it was.

Instead, we have the memories and confidence to push us on against Crystal Palace in the search for that second win. In the battle to oust Liverpool from the place at the top of the Premier League which they will presumably be occupying when we begin our own game.  

Oh, and that award for Thomas. I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure if somebody was trolling Leeds United by presenting him with a mini-whiteboard but a trawl back through the archives shows this is their standard. Fair enough. Let’s just hope that there isn’t a ‘Curse of the LMA performance of the week award’.

Thomas Frank’s whiteboard was the gift that kept on giving.

Thankfully, there are no new injuries and the squad remains as it is, albeit with the possibility that Tariqe Fosu may return. Prepare for incoming floods from certain quarters. The BBC report that Palace will again be without captain Luka Milivojevic but, regardless, one can only assume they will be chomping at the bit to make up for lost time. The thankless task of a trip to Stamford Bridge to open proceedings hardly an ideal one for new manager Patrick Vieira. Chelsea considered real contenders for the title by many respected pundits. And also Ian Moose. Now they will be back amidst what is sure to be a raucous atmosphere at Selhurst Park. 

Whilst the result is, as ever, impossible to predict we can at least rest easy in the fact that the Bees faithful will do what Arsenal failed at so miserably. Namely, making some/any noise. The home support sure to be given a run for their money by the 2000 or so from West London.

I can’t wait to get back on the road. I’ve not seen Brentford away since Luton Town in the sleet back in February 2020. About as soul destroying a defeat as could be imagined and one which ended with the ultimate indignity of Jan Zamburek’s shirt being stolen from the dressing room and ending up on ebay. Apparently. Just a few weeks later, Lockdown restrictions started to kick in and we’ve not travelled since. At least, until Wembley. Remind me what happened…..

Roll on 3pm. See you there.

Last Friday was immense. Now, time to move on…

Nick Bruzon

Still under the radar ? Time for a last first.

19 Aug

Almost a week later, there aren’t enough words to describe just how incredible that first week of Premier League football felt. Brentford magnificent. Arsenal awful. Manchester United party poopers. Crystal Palace, like Leeds, ceremonial lambs to the slaughter lining up away to genuine title contenders. Then again, such is the vibe at Lionel Road you could say the same about Arsenal. Nobody has a positive word to say about a performance that saw them out played, out thought and out muscled by Thomas Frank’s rampant swarm of Bees. Their supporters taking the library on the road as the vociferous home crowd ripped the roof off the Brentford Community Stadium and took us, however, briefly, to the top of the table.

Ok, so Manchester United destroyed that dream in little over 12 hours but what a feeling to wake up to on Saturday morning. There we were as headline makers in all the papers. Brentford at the top of the table with as many pictures of Woody as there were of goal scorers Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard. It was quite the surreal way to end the most spine-tingling day and night. For once, this bus stop in Hounslow the very epicentre of the global football world. And then Leeds United forgot to pack their defence. Or, rather, the Red Devils went on the sort of hot streak that does beg the question about what could happen to us at some point this season. You can’t win them all, that’s for sure.

Headlines and heroes on Saturday morning

You can be damn sure we’ll be giving it out best at the weekend though. Brentford’s second top flight fixture sees the short trip to South East London. Crystal Palace licking their wounds after being mauled by Chelsea. New boss Patrick Viera mad keen to start his first home game with a win. The Bees faithful just wishing kick off was right now, such is the good feeling around TW8. Such is the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding just about anything to do with the club. How Thomas Frank gets the balance between over confidence, getting carried away and just playing our free flowing football will be one of the key tactical cards to be played. Sergi and Bryan were rampant on Friday. Ivan everywhere. See also: Vitaly. Ethan Pinnock a rock at the back when called upon. Even David Raya had his wits about him despite Arsenal being so second best that he had nothing much to do for the opening 85 minutes. Had he failed to pull of that save it would have been itchy bum time for sure. But he did, quite wonderfully, and it wasn’t. Instead, tears of joy and a well, well deserved win.

Now, though, time to move on. Crystal Palace await and tickets are in hand. Mostly. Errr… The away stand is sold out and it promises to be as raucous as Friday night. If not moreso given the opposition are sure to make some noise too. Their ground as compact as Griffin Park once was. We had a pub in every corner. The Eagles have a supermarket at one end. All four stands bang on top of the pitch, unlike the behemoth running tracks and wide perimeters found at so many newer stadia. Albeit, the Selhurst Park capacity is double that of our former home. Its going to be tasty, that’s for sure.

most tickets have been posted out

The ‘my work’ derby, a reference so niche only about three people will get it (one of whom is me) is almost upon us. For the rest of us, its quite simply Brentford’s first ever away game in the Premier League.

Granted, these ‘first ever’ references will need to stop soon or we’ll be entering West Ham territory. The 1966 World Cup winners saw just about anything to do with their being gifted the Olympic Stadium deemed: first ever insert missing words  at their new home: game lost. half and half scarf worn. Season ticket holder arriving to find their seat didn’t exist.

See also: last ever  insert missing words at the Boleyn Ground as the media love in with Upton Park reached as sickening an over saturation point as repeats of Mrs. Brown’s Boys: away coach attacked. Bubble blown.  So bad its amazing film made  (being Final Score, of course).

Instead, let’s just focus on the game in hand. We’ve done the first / new thing. Now its time to keep on doing our well worn ‘under the radar’ act. Certainly, neither Arsenal or the pundits knew quite what to expect. Here’s hoping the same applies at Crystal Palace on Saturday. 

I can’t wait for this one. See you there. 

Have the Bees finally emerged from under the radar?

Nick Bruzon

A wonderful weekend gets even better as Friday fallout continues.

15 Aug

You don’t want to get into The Champions League, Brentford. Frank Out. Sack the board. Where’s the money, Benham? Thursday nights, Channel Five. Sadly, the Bees no longer sit at the top of the Premier League after Manchester United went on the rampage at Old Trafford yesterday lunchtime. Leeds United shipping five in a game that, as much as anything else, was a Fantasy Football nightmare with yours truly the only one in our house who hadn’t made three goal Bruno Fernandes their team captain. Hefty wins for Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton also seeing us overtaken and having, for now, to be content with fifth place in the table. It was a set of results that even saw Arsenal nudge clear of the relegation zone. For now. Their own next couple of fixtures are what one could politely call ‘challenging’.

Sunday morning. The head still spinning although this from impromptu Saturday afternoon barbecues rather than still celebrating Brentford beating Arsenal. Even though we were doing that too. The shopping trip that had to be undertaken prior to that one punctuated by shrewd acquisitions. The Times – packed full of top, top quality Brentford content – and the much anticipated long player from The Helicopter Of The hill Ghost. BBC Billy Reeves and Mark Morris from The Bluetones, amongst others, combing to produce this critically acclaimed slab of vinyl.

For once, even shopping was fun…

It was whilst mooching around Eel Pie Records in search of the aforementioned record that the Whataspp group swung into action. “Well that was fun while it lasted”. Sure enough, a quick check on the BBC and Manchester United were running riot. The Fernandes inspired goal difference swing seeing the Red Devils leapfrog the Bees in the nascent table and cause much amusement from H and Mrs. B. Oh well. That’s why I’m the numpty on the terrace and they’re going to leave me rooted to the bottom of the table once more. Much like Arsenal on Friday night. Not even pointing out the Brentford appropriate chemists on the high street enough to cause sufficient distraction.

Wasn’t he on the bench, Friday night?

Nooo. We’re third in the league.” Not my words, those of Harry as Mo Salah made it three for Liverpool in the Match Of The Day rerun. Cripes, if he’s upset now it could be trouble when Manchester City play this afternoon. Still, at least we’re sitting in the Europa League slots and the trip to Crystal Palace presents the next opportunity to reclaim top spot in the Premier League. The Eagles taking a tonking from Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. About the only positive they could take was the 1980’s Meyba branded Barcelona kit they have chosen to emulate for their change colours. A thing of beauty and perhaps some consolation for being unable to resist the goal hungry Blues? Probably not but things could be worse. Just look at Arsenal.

Sergi Canos and the rest of the Brentford team have been responsible for diplomatic incident, upsetting none less than the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, who took to Twitter following our 2-0 victory. 

What?? It’s football,it’s a loss of Arsenal at/to Brentford. Brentford deserved to win and they did. The game itself aside Arsenal and the fans don’t deserve to kind of get used to this….NO !!! I say this as one of the big fans of Arsenal. The change has taken to long to come!

He continued in this vein, closing with a flourish that saw The President channelling his inner Piers Morgan:

We just must NOT excuse or Accept mediocrity. A team has to be built with purpose to win win win. So that when we lose….it was not to be expected! I am sure we all know on whose shoulders the heaviest burden rests. I hope they know too or even accept it!!! End.

The next Ambassadorial reception could be fun. Still, even Paul and Piers combined haven’t managed to match the levels of sour grapes from this visiting supporter. It could be a best ever ‘Teams like Brentford.’

Where to even start? Beyond crying with laughter. My favourite line, of many many wonderful cuts, being:

I imagine they will hope to draw in a new fan base from the thousands of new build flats rising in and around the area. A bunch of key workers who fancy a day out. They will probably try and take Fulham’s tag of being “London’s friendly club” and have “neutral end” for most games. Please, DO go take a look.

As for Brentford,  the other highlight was our debut on Match Of The Day. One watched this morning and what a way to clear the head. “Listen to the noise” said Jonathan Pearce as Sergi celebrated the goal. You could hear that one all the way from West London to Rwanda. The decibel levels rising every time the Bees broke forward. A touching nod to Rob Rowan and that wonderful moment of Bukayo Saka being applauded on the pitch from all four sides of the ground. 2-0 Brentford and then almost three as balls into the box continued to cause mayhem. A wonderful shot of Ian Wright looking somewhat glum and then that was it. Sergi and Thomas bigging up the fans and the team. 

Brentford. They absolutely battered Arsenal”. Alan Shearer leading the praise and continuing to big us up. I could get used to this.    

Until then, time to get that LP on. Fingers crossed Billy has peformed his expected magic…

Nick Bruzon

New signings and, perhaps, a familiar face?

2 Jul

Exciting times. The Euro 2020 quarter finals are upon us and it is now July. Meaning the Premier League starts next month. Brentford, obviously, have have what could politely be called ‘interest’ in both. Our opener with Arsenal made all the more intriguing, as if the appetite needed whetting any further, by Thursday’s transfer news. Not to mention puns ahoy. England face Ukraine in Saturday evening’s last 8 game of the Euros and we’ve one last catch up on the season review book. 

First up, transfer news. Brentford official announced the widely rumoured signing of Daniel Oyegoke from Arsenal yesterday. The eighteen year old right back goes straight into the B team squad having signed on a three year contract with the option for an additional year. The obvious comparison is to Josh Dasilva (here’s hoping we get a positive injury update on him when the players return from summer holidays) who also joined from the Arsenal youth set up, albeit having made a handful of EFL cup appearances, back in 2018. To say he has progressed stratospherically would be somewhat of an understatement. Now an England U-21 and very much the one that got away, having joined for nothing after turning down a new contract at Highbury.

For Daniel, the exit of Henrik Dalsgaard suggested changes would have to come in that berth. How quickly the transition from B team to first team will be made, remains to be seen of course. Happen it will though. One thing our DOFs have done is absolutely nail the recruitment process in recent years. From the early days of Proschwitz or Dijkhuizen we’ve had a procession of shrewd talent at every level. The likes of Watkins, Benrahma and Konsa. Roerslev, Dasilva and Sorensen very much the norm now. The chance to join Brentford these days very much a marker in an indiviudual’s ability as well as their own chances of future progression.

Daniel isn’t alone. The club offered out a welcome of ‘Hey, Jude’ with central defender Jude Russell also joining the B team set up. He signs for a year from Crystal Palace, having already spent time with us in what is now last season. One of the many ‘trialist’ shirts now has a name behind it aswell as an obvious source of headlines and lazy puns should the player be involved in just about anything. Good news indeed for lazy bloggers and even lazier journalists.

You can read the full stories and actual facts about both players over on Brentford official.

Hey, Jude ( official got there first on Twitter. Don’t blame me)

Next up, our promotion from the Championship. As any semi-regular reader will know by now we’ve documented this in e-book form. The entire Last Word from 2019/20 aswell as all the programme articles (previously unpublished on line) and out season-finale guest columns from Natalie Sawyer and Kitman Bob. The later in particular, my favourite column of the season as the inside story of the big build up to Wembley was revealed.  

With all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund for CRY, we couldn’t be looking to try and help a better or more personal cause to Brentford FC. This is the last time I’ll give this the full fat plug so will simply end by thanking everyone who has downloaded a copy so far and asking anybody else who can spare a few quid and wants to get hold of an amazing story, told averagely, then they can do so here. THANK YOU.

Finally, the BIG story this weekend (short of Phil and Rasmus making a surprise swoop for out of contract Lionel Messi – hey, you read it here first) can only be the Euros. Friday sees Switzerland – Spain and then Belgium – Italy, with the big ones for the majority of us on Saturday. Then, of course, the Czech Republic face a Denmark side in which both Mathias Jensen and Christian Norgaard have been integral over the tournament.

The denouement of the quarters sees Ukraine take on England in Rome. That one’s going to be huge. No England supporters are ‘officially’ going to be there. Will any get through? Of course. Will Billy be there with his selfie-stick? (Grant, not Reeves). If anyone makes it to Italy it will be him. 

Which Billy will we get on Saturday?

Yet, regardless of who is in the stadium, you can bet the pubs back home will be jammed. Sofas heaving under the weight of both supporters and expectation. Gareth Southgate has been magnificent in his approach and team selection so far. No goals conceded and England magnificent in turning the screw against Germany during the week. A 2-0 win nothing more than absolutely deserved. 

Will they deliver more of the same? The bookies certainly think so with England generally priced at 2/5 to win this one. For the victors, the chance of a further stab at glory against either Czech Republic or Denmark. Should things fall the right way, that’s one midfield battle I can’t wait to see unfold. Here’s hoping…

From Lionel Road to the Euros…

Nick Bruzon

The simple truth about Benrahma and Brentford.

14 Oct

West Ham / Benrahma blah blah blah. Quelle Surprise. As of Wednesday morning the Algerian master is still a Brentford player. Who’d have thought it? All the click bait in the world counts for naff all. As we said on these pages earlier in the week, he won’t be going there on the cheap. Whatever you read abut deals stalling and broken promises, the simple truth of the matter is that Said remains a Brentford player. For now. Whether anyone comes up with an actual serious bid – Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Brighton are the other names we’ve seen bandied around – remains to be seen of course. If they do, then kerr-chinggg. If not, we retain the services of the most exciting player in the Championship.

There’s still almost three days to go and that’s a long time, of course. 5pm on Friday is when all deals must be completed. With personal terms having allegedly been agreed then should West Ham actually blow the dust off the ‘tens column’ in their chequebook things could well happen. Likewise, those goals against Fulham L would only have reminded other suitors of what he can do. Crystal Palace were the other team whose name kept appearing earlier in the ‘window’ but, personally, I’ve got half an eye on Aston Villa swooping in. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the obvious reasons for that one.

Said was back to his very best against Fulham L

One thing’s for sure, with revenue streams falling rapidly as fans remain locked out, Premier League survival this season is more important than ever. European qualification equally so. We’ve already seen huge money thrown around and this will continue over both the next few days and the mid-season window. Said is the obvious crown jewel, ripe for plucking by whomever has the balls to make the right offer. 

With our own goal that of promotion to the top flight then of course it makes perfect sense to hope he stays. For what it’s worth, my own preference would be that we keep (a happy) Benrahma. Transfer money is great. It is the lifeblood that will keep us going until the time we are all allowed back in. Whenever that may be. But to make it up you need the very best options at your disposal. No matter what miracles Thomas Frank was able to conjure out of his squad last season, we all know what a huge part of that Said is.

There’s that key word though. Happy. Has Said had his head turned? Sweet nothings poured into his ear? Is his heart already set on West Ham? Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. Let’s not forget the saga of Neal Maupay who was giving everything for the Bees and his long term desire to stay – then agents and Brighton happened. Should Said stay at Lionel Road will it be a case of having to reignite the fire in somebody who would rather be elsewhere? What use is a, so called, ‘wantaway’  player who drifts out of games because he has the hump? 

We all know what a happy Said can do

None of the clickbait or conjecture will help you find any answers to that one. Either he goes or he stays. And if the later then you can bet Thomas and his team will have our man firing on all cylinders before you can say “Siracusa”. (It’s a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford lock. Apparently).  

This is where we can have no influence and no impact. None of what I, you or any of the fans want will make a difference All the stress, angst and trying to sniff out clues aren’t going to help. There are no real clues to be sniffed out. Enigmatic ‘sources’ nothing more than a lure with little or no actual substance behind them. Brentford simply don’t advertise in this fashion. Bidding clubs don’t show their hands so openly. Matthew and his directors of football play hard ball.

Who is looking at Benrahma? Who has shoddier photoshop?

All of which adds up to: he’ll go but it will be at our price. Who knows where and who knows when though? Today? Tomorrow? January? Next season? Aston Villa? Crystal Palace? West Ham even? Hey, this is football. The unexpected always happens.

Elsewhere, England play Denmark tonight. Christian Norgaard remains out of the squad with that injury picked up against Preston last Sunday. There’s been no real news on him since and one has to hope he is on the road to recovery. The visit from Coventry City is almost upon us and, like Said, he’s a key part of the squad. Mathias Jensen and Henrik Dalsgaard are still key parts of the Danish set up and it’s always interesting to see how they go against top flight opposition.

That one kicks off at 7.45pm. As with the Wales game last week, it will be played out at an empty Wembley stadium. Good news indeed for those who love a bit of atmosphere at their England games – we’ll be ‘band’ free once more. 

Whatever else is going on around us, that’s cause enough to celebrate. See you on the couch this evening.

That. Band. It always comes back to this

Nick Bruzon

Another excellent bit of business for the future.

7 Oct

The transfer window has shut. Kind of. Whilst it has now closed for international registration, there’s still an additional two week extension agreed between the EFL and Premier league. Meaning 5pm next Friday, 16 October, is when Brentford fans hoping Said Benrahma will stay can relax. That hasn’t stopped us moving though, with very welcome news coming out of Lionel Road yesterday. In the Championship, Nottingham Forest L have moved quickly to arrest their current run of anti-form by replacing Abril Lamouchi with former Bee Chris Hughton. This does not bode well for the rest of the division. And there’s been a twist in the tail in regards to yesterday’s piece about Arsenal terminating their mascot, Gunnersaurus. None other than Mesut Ozil has stepped in to the breach whilst very much painting his club into a corner.

First up, as ever, Brentford. Josh Dasilva has signed a contract extension that ties him to the club until 2024. Like David Raya last week, he has committed to another four years and this is just wonderful news. The midfielder has been in magnificent form this season (like Sergi Canos, one of our outstanding players so far) but, to be fair, this is something that has been growing and growing since he turned down the offer of a contract with Arsenal in August 2018 and headed West.

Throwback to Josh joining

We all know what Josh can do, of course. Those goals from the edge of the box have fast become a trademark and are much more the norm than an ad-hoc nicety. Thomas Frank summed things up succinctly when talking to ‘official’ yesterday, noting: “His running and his pressing are getting better and better and he is taking responsibility defensively. He is magnificent on the ball; he can dictate a game and he scores goals. I expect there is even more to come from him”. 

Well put. Josh really is another of those who could go all the way. He made his England Under-21 debut against Austria last month and, I am sure, will go on to make more. He’s in the squad for tonight’s game in Andorra and the fixture with Turkey next week. On current form, I’d expect him to make the bench at the very least this evening. Yet another tick in the box for our ongoing ability to attract the very best under-the-radar young talent. A demonstration that taking the time to invest in individuals continues to reap rewards. Congratulations Josh. Looking forward to seeing you continue in action for Brentford. And England.

Great news for the Bees

Next up, Benrahma. The saga that never ends. The transfer window is closed but it isn’t. Players can still leave the EFL for the top flight although who will have the cash to spend, I wonder? If anyone. Brentford have made no secret of playing hard ball over our most coveted stars. Ollie Watkins cost Aston Villa £33m whilst look at the whole Raya / Arsenal story – we had no desire or need to sell. The price had to be very right. And it wasn’t. 

Wilfried Zaha is still at Crystal Palace so does that mean their alleged interest in Said is over?   Who knows. I’m not even sure I follow this convoluted system of staggered windows which are closed but still open depending on where you play. All I can say is that this is sure to remain a tense few weeks – for the top flight. I can’t see Said going anywhere. Not now. With Julian Jeanvier amongst those already out on loan, the squad was further trimmed yesterday with news that Jan Zamburek (Shrewsbury) and Halil Dervisoglu (FC Twente) have also left Brentford in the short term. 

It goes without saying I’d love him to stay. Sergi has filled his boots in some, albeit different, style although there’s nobody on earth who can do what the Algerian can. The Spaniard has certainly given it his all whilst that ball through to Bryan Mbeumo for our opener against Preston on Sunday (yes, we were actually winning at one point) was as much Seve Ballesteros as it was Sergi Canos . Absolute perfection. Yet Said is a unique talent and when he does stay, I can’t wait to see how Thomas will fit them both into his starting XI. Good luck with that ! In the nicest sense.

Next up, Nottingham Forest. How deep are their pockets? How can they afford it all? Having splashed the cash over the summer, their start has been somewhat less than electric. Asbri Lamouchi paid the price yesterday but was replaced within what felt like minutes by none other than our friend Chris Hughton. It was a brutal hit. Efficient. Ruthless. Clean. Lamouchi’s chair still warm and spinning as the ex-Brentford man sat down to sign his new up for his stint at the City Ground.

Cripes. It’s a good appointment. Very good. Chris has more than earned his stripes in the Championship and the Premier League in the past I’d really thought we might have seen him in the Griffin Park hotseat. Certainly, it would have been an appointment welcomed although we’ve gone a different route these days. And I’m glad we have, having long been an admirer of Thomas Frank’s style and approach. However, Forest fans should be ecstatic about this one. If nothing else, surely they’ll get a more exciting style of football and a man who knows how to get out of the division. 

Hopefully, for him, upwards rather than outwards. Forest certainly have a Leeds United / Real Madrid approach to managerial appointments. Prior to this news, including caretakers and short term appointments there have been 20 previous incumbents since since Billy Davies’ (first spell) came to an end in June 2011.  Good luck, Chris.. On and doff pitch. Although not too good! 

And finally, Arsenal. Not David Raya but the story yesterday of how, as part of a cost cutting exercise, the club had dismissed the man behind mascot Gunnersaurus after 23 years. Shameful stuff. This, despite their then splashing  of £45million on Thomas Partey and then, even worse, using a… signing hashtag. Urgh, set phasers for cringe and prepare for #NoThomasNoPartey

Yet who should ride to the rescue than club star Mesut Ozil? He took to social media where he declared, in what is royally the single trending topic of yesterday: I was so sad that Jerry Quy aka our famous & loyal mascot @Gunnersaurus and integral part of our club was being made redundant after 27 years. As such, I’m offering to reimburse @Arsenal with the full salary of our big green guy as long as I will be an Arsenal player…   

No pressure there then, Gunners. Having made this quite astounding decision in the first place, they were always going to be subject to a significant level of  public outcry. Like Kingsley at Partick Thistle, Gunnersaurus has an almost universal appeal in the football world. That rare example of being able to transcend club boundaries without the need for a (shudders) half and half scarf. Now the club are being put in a position where they have to make an embarrassing backtrack or put a small entry on the balance sheet ahead of this fan favourite.

Who doesn’t love seeing a PR shambles with a happy ending? It’s a fairly safe bet Jerry will be back in the suit soon.

Nick Bruzon

And still they come. Double bonus ahead of the weekend action.

10 Aug

The transfer window that keeps on giving keeps on giving. Despite inward business having been officially concluded for the summer, Brentford fans were given a double bonus on Friday ahead of the trip to Middlesbrough. Ollie Watkins has signed a contract extension that will keep him at Lionel Road until 2023 whilst the heavily touted story in regards to Turkish youth international Halil Dervişoğlu coming in from Sparta Rotterdam was confirmed. He has signed a pre-contract and similar to Emiliano Marcondes before him, will join the club in January. These are stories that put paid to the Crystal Palace rumours whilst further strengthen the attacking options available to Thomas Frank.

Large-1

These are both exciting and important bits of news for Brentford fans. Ollie, in particular, given how important and highly sought after the player has become. Aswell as the Crystal Palace stories there were those linking him to Spurs last season and, whilst we normally give rumours a wide berth on these pages, the fact that our players are being talked up is both a worry and a compliment. Now he is ours once more.

What a way to announce the news, too. With season ticket holders and club members being told to check their email accounts where we got the exclusive on the story first. I have to be honest, that when I saw the preview on Twitter, telling fans to check their in-boxes accompanied by the picture of a 2023 shirt, part of me did think it might be a delay to Lionel Road. But no. It was good news. Great news. Wonderful news. Off the back of Saïd Benrahma revealing his new number 10 shirt and accompanying hashtag the day before, Bees fans are really buzzing. Hats off to the club, too, for choosing this method to share a bot of extra joy with the supporters.

Screenshot 2019-08-10 at 08.07.24

Then there’s the news about Halil. One thing our Directors of Football have got on lock down is talent acquisition. Nobody could deny that in recent seasons as the much derided (outside of Griffin Park)  ‘model’ has paid dividends time and again. Now we’ve made our latest swoop for an attacker who did the business helping Sparta win second tier promotion through the play-offs (not a typo). 

Beyond that, I’m in the dark. I’m not going to pretend that Halil is a player I’m overly familiar with. Then again, it was a case of Saïd who? Neal what now? And look at how that all turned out.Have the DoFs done it again? I can’t wait for January when we find out, although let’s not wish it away too soon. Brentford have the trip to Middlesbrough today where Thomas will surely be looking for three points after starting like a runaway train against Birmingham City last weekend yet somehow coming away with nothing. Curse that woodwork. Curse great goalkeeping. On another day we could have had a hatful.

Still, as B*Witched once sang, c’est la vie. Sometimes you just don’t get the breaks. As long as we don’t get sucked into the ‘deserved to win’ mentality then play like that opening period once more and we’ll be just fine. Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough (TM) had a tough opener in front of the TV cameras last Friday at Luton Town. That one finished 3-3 in a game marked by defensive lapses and a penalty miss from Britt Assombalonga to match some of our most glaring from the likes of Yoann Barbet or number 26 (ahh, who could forget that ill-fated dead ball experiment?).

There are now options available the likes of which we’ve not seen in a long time. Saïd is definitely not ready to play, sadly, whilst Thomas is sweating on international clearance for Bryan Mbeumo coming through. Not that I can imagine him overly stressing – at least in public. He’s calm, confident and in control. Never flustered. Perhaps a bit of directional clapping, exhorting his troops to do what they have practiced on the training ground but that’s about as far as he needs to go normally.

Don’t expect too many changes from last week, except perhaps on the bench. I have no doubt everybody will want a second bite of the cherry following a performance where there is nothing but incredulity at finishing the game empty handed.

But that’s how football works. Amazing play is great as long as the ball finds the back of the net. It didn’t last week but now we’ve got the chance to put things right. And I can’t wait.

Until then, here’s B*Witched….

 

Nick Bruzon

At least Martin will be happy as fourth round offers an excellent chance of progress.

8 Jan

But for the drop of a ball. Brentford will travel to Barnet for our fourth round FA Cup tie at the end of January. It is a match that was immediately picked out as a ‘tie of note’ by the BBC production team post–draw, despite Gary Lineker’s own assertion live on Match Of The Day that, ”Barnet. I’m sure they wanted a giant. Perhaps they can get one in the fifth round if they beat Brentford… “. Whilst that came across as somewhat patronising given the huge divisional gap and the history between our two sides, I guess we should be used to the ‘Little Old Brentford’ / ‘Tinpot Brentford’ school of thought by now. Yet if you look at who was left behind in the draw: Portsmouth, QPR, Manchester United,  Arsenal, Spurs and Crystal Palace, one can’t help but feel supporters of both sides will have been dreaming of what might have been and, perhaps, this is where Gary was coming from. The only person 100% happy with this one will be Martin Allen, no doubt lining up his place on the Match of the Day or BT Sport sofas already.   

Martin Allen tank top

Martin has form at this stage

Personally, I’m very happy with this one. It represents a great chance of progression to the last 16 for Brentford. Something that I have no doubt Barnet supporters will also be thinking. They’ll have been buoyed by their own incredible victory up at Sheffield United and inspired by Newport County dumping Leicester City out on Sunday. They have a wonderful opportunity in a game which offers a massive divisional advantage to Thomas Frank’s team yet also a potato skin of the first degree. On paper there’s only one team should win it yet in practice we all know that’s not how it works in the FA Cup. Just ask Fulham.

I’m not a hypocrite. I’d have loved the chance to host a Manchester United or make a trip to Crystal Palace. Yet looking at the rest of the balls that were left when we came out of the hat, the trip to Barnet is so much more intriguing than what might have been.

Arsenal – already been there, done that, got the half and half scarf this season.

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They really did exist – The Arsenal / Brentford half & half

Tottenham – they play at the ‘W’ place. Given our past form, let’s avoid going there until we have no choice.

QPR – nobody needs the vagaries of a West London derby when looking to progress.

Portsmouth – any opportunity to avoid the walking cliche that is ‘Mr. Portsmouth’ and his bell can only be a good thing.

Portsmouth bell

No Bell. End of.

So it is Barnet rather than Manchester United for Brentford. I can’t wait. I love the FA Cup and make no apologies for saying so. Always have done. From the making of a tinfoil trophy to the dreaming of what might come next. From the chance to make a name for ourselves in the upset stakes through to the eventual prospect of being there when our captain for the day lifts that most famous of trophies.

Even better, we now have the words of Gary Lineker ringing in our ears. Any motivational speech that Thomas Frank may have needed to make for this one has just become an awful lot easier. I genuinely can’t wait for this one and will be doing all possible to make the trip to North London – tickets allowing. We may not travel with the 8,500 that went to Arsenal  – (the capacity at The Hive is officially showing as 5,176) but you can absolutely guarantee this one will be a sell-out. Bring it on!

And finally, did you catch the piece about Peter Gilham on the ITV London news last night? What a wonderful look at a man for whom no words are needed! If nothing else, we got to see one of those famous goal celebrations in the flesh. Pity the ears of anyone sitting within 25 yards – excitement, thy name is Gilham! It was an excellent article, even allowing for the cameo from yours truly – shot from a somewhat unusual angle that only accentuated nostrils and double chin.

More importantly, the club announced on Twitter last night that:We’re looking to get the footage so we can put it out on our channels later in the week“.  Given the diversity of the Brentford fanbase, with supporters living as far apart as Swindon to Salisbury and Hong Kong to somewhere else beginning with ‘H’ , that’s something that will be more than welcome. Failing that, there’s always ‘ITV Player’.

Nick Bruzon