Tag Archives: Daniel Bentley

A tough one to take after a night of one way traffic.

3 Oct

Brentford 1 Bristol City 1. It is a score which does nothing to illustrate the performance of The Bees over 87 of the 90 minutes before a late, late equaliser, gifted to the visitors on a plate after a self-inflicted formation change, saw two points very much dropped. Brentford dominated and the stats more than bear this out. Yet as we’ve said many times, goals are the only thing that count at full time and all the wonderful play, brilliance from Daniel Bentley, domination and shots count for nothing if your opponents score as many, or more, than you. There’s a lot of positives to be taken from this one ahead of the trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday aswell as a few very valuable lesson learned.

First up, credit to Bristol City. Let’s not sound like we’re full of the sour grapes enjoyed by the likes of Steve Evans and Russell Slade back in the day. Whilst Brentford clearly had the lions share of possession and chances, it wasn’t one way traffic. The Robins set up to defend and almost caught us on the break in the first half. Rico Henry losing the ball and a lightning fast counter attack saw David Raya making a fine save one-on-one, when a goal was all but chalked on. In the other goal, Daniel Bentley was on inspired form. Save followed save and chance followed chance as the former Bees ‘keeper and his five man defence did everything to keep out the rampaging red and white hoard.

The goal, when it did come, was quite magnificent. Josh Dasilva curling a wonderful effort into the far top corner from outside the box. It was a strike that was as tasty as a freshly toasted bagel smeared in marmite, crunchy peanut butter and fake plastic cheese i.e delicious. The celebration was equally emphatic. Arms out high, he  ran to the Braemar Road side with players coming from all directions to leap on the midfielder in congratulation. 

For me, the smile on the face of Pontus Jansson said it all. A man who wears his heart on his sleeve at all times, you could see what this one meant to our captain as he joined the ever growing pile of players. A grin from ear to ear mirroring just what the supporters were feeling. Contrast that the look in his face at full time after ‘that’ equaliser had salvaged a point for Bristol City. He cut a distraught figure in the centre of the park, taking in what had gone on around him. I do wonder if words were exchanged in the dressing room at full time, and towards whom, or whether it one where we have to recognise the calibre of the opposition and our own performances which are improving. 

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View from The Braemar – Josh celebrates (somewhere)

I guess the frustrating thing is not so much that we conceded a late goal after battering our opponents without reply – that’s just one of the many elements that make being a Brentford fan what it is – but more that it just seemed so needless.

The 4-3-3 that we’d employed to such good effect at Barnsley and then again last night, was ditched with the fat lady performing her vocal warm ups. Sergi was replaced by an additional centre back in Ethan Pinnock on 83 minutes as we switched defensive formation. Four minutes later, with the team already looking stretched despite the additional numbers in the back line, Andreas Weimann was given all the space he needed to get on the end of Jack Hunt’s long cross and leave Raya with no chance.

Bristol City had their chance. They took it. Well done. That’s how football works. We could, no should, have wrapped this one up against a well disciplined and solid team. Instead, that combination of great goalkeeping, intense defence and plain old ball luck kept them in it until the opportunity arose. And when it did, my word they grabbed it. The celebrations were as ecstatic as our own had been. Understandably so. Even then, Daniel Bentley still had to be on his game to keep things level, tipping over a dipping cross from Dalsgaard late on in the last meaningful move of the match. And that was it. 1-1. Full time.

Waking up on Thursday morning it was very much a case of the ‘D’ word to describe this one. ‘Disappointed’ rather than ‘deserved’. As in, to win. There were plenty of positives to be taken but a single point instead of the three we looked like taking for huge swathes of this game feels like the metaphorical nuts. It did last night and there’s still a numb feeling down there today. Metaphorically speaking.  When you can’t even find room, or motivation, to talk about the Kurupt FM takeover at Griffin Park then you know it’s been a hard one.

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Add your own punchline

But, we didn’t lose. The table has now ‘taken shape’ at the ten game mark and we are 15th. We are getting much better as new faces and returning heroes adjust to life without the likes of Sawyers, Bentley, Maupay and McEachran swell as each other. We have a trip to fourth placed Nottingham Forest on Saturday where, if we can hold our defensive shape and maintain the same level of positivity going forward, our rise up the table will continue. Probably. 

Brentford are six points off the promotion pack. I can’t wait for the weekend when we see if that gap can be further reigned in. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Will it be raining goals once more?

2 Oct

Hot on the heels of thumping Barnsley, Brentford host Bristol City on Wednesday evening in game 10 of a Championship season that will finally see the table have officially ‘taken shape’. Both teams know what a win could mean – for the Robins, a chance to enter the play off zone whilst another three points for The Bees should see us hit the top half of the table and overtake Birmingham City (who lost another one last night – good luck there, Josh).  Leeds United have retained top spot but despite their game being televised, I know I’m in shock too – I can imagine most neutral observers would have been watching Spurs in the Champions League. That one, of course, saw Tottenham suffer the indignity of a home bracketing as they went down 2- 7 (seven) to Bayern Munich.

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Looks familiar……

As ever, we can only start at Griffin Park. Sunday was as morale boosting as they come for Brentford. The performance – opening quarter aside – was about as dominant as they come. Barnsley weren’t even second and struggled to get close to us. Ollie was our hat-trick hero but there were plenty of superstars out there beyond the headline maker. He’s currently joint top scorer in the Championship with 7(seven) but if he wants to stride clear of Aleksander Mitrovic then he’s going to have to beat former colleague Daniel Bentley. Of course, now plying his trade at Ashton Gate following his sale to Bristol City over the summer.

That’s not going to be easy. In his three season at Griffin Park Daniel was, largely, magnificent. Sure, there were a few wobbles last season but on the whole he was about as good as we’ve seen between the sticks on TW8. I remember BBC Billy Reeves making a very early declaration that he was our best ever and, whilst time may have forced us to slightly redraw that balance when compared to the legend that is Wojciech Szczęsny (to this day, I still do now know how we pulled that one off) for me, Clive, he’s certainly in the top few. A great shot stopper with cat-like reactions who we’ll be doing well to find the back of the net against. Perhaps we just need to pump those crosses into the box and shout ‘punch’ in a West Country accent.

So who will win the battle of the badges tonight? Let’s hope our crest is the only Brentford thing the visitors try to emulate, based on our performance at the weekend. Or perhaps they could pick up where they left-off defensively – shipping three goals on the road in a draw at Preston that saw them surrender the lead twice. Personally, I’m calling this one as another win for the Bees. The formation at Oakwell suited us wonderfully and we all know what the widemen did where the pace was electric and the delivery pin-point.

I can’t wait for this one. The modern day Michael Fish at the BBC have promised us a break from the recent downpours whilst Griffin Park always feels that much more exciting when the floodlights are on. Walking past the ground this morning on the school run, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky although do pack your gloves. Sergi, I’m looking at you in particular.

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Could it be raining goals in West London tonight ?

The win is there to be grabbed and the table is about to have become the true barometer of our rival’s ability. The draw with Stoke City L can formally be deemed a disappointment (they went down, again, last night and are rock bottom on two points) whilst we’ve already taken on table toppers Leeds United and missed out narrowly. It’s going to be tight. It’s going to be tense. But it’s going to be fun. See you there.

And in true Columbo style, just one more thing. Or should that be 7(seven)? Spurs were humped by Bayern Munich last night, leaving to a chorus of boos after the German giants hit the magical bracket mark. As if going down by this many in your own back yard wasn’t bad enough, Tottenham even had the temerity to take the lead before allowing the floodgates to open.  And what a way to rain goals as the heavens opened.

Cue obligatory shots of fans sitting in solitude at full time  – is there any more wonderful a piece of camera work in world sport? A shot akin to the sudden zoom that follows two ‘treble-twentys’ in darts. The camera lurching forward in anticipation of capturing the 180 scoring arrow in extreme close up. Probably not. Unless you support the team that has just suffered that footballing humiliation. And last night, it was the Spurs players & supporters left typing “We go again” into their social media accounts.

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Nick Bruzon

Interceptor Jensen signs – with a proper pen. Tour diary continues to delight.

11 Jul

Raya – In. Nørgaard – In. Jansson – In. Pinnock – In. And yesterday Brentford continued with the summer shopping following the acquisition of midfielder Mathias Jensen from Celta Vigo . Hot on the heels of signing Pontus Jansson from Leeds United, Matthew Benham has flexed the Griffin Park chequebook once more with the addition of another player who very much fits our bill. With the likes of Josh McEachran and Lewis Macleod departing over the summer, the midfield has been more than boosted with the Danish contingent of Christian Nørgaard and now, of course, Mathias. It’s wonderful news and if for no other reason than unlike with the Pontus signing, we were even able to use a proper pen rather than a half-chewed biro found down the back of the sofa.

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Mathias brings quality, and a proper pen, to the squad

Crack open the big book of Brentford summer bingo:  Matthew Benham. Statement of Intent. Going for it. New signing. Incoming. Welcome. Exciting times. Final season at Griffin Park.

These are all words we’ve become very familiar with over the last few weeks and they were trotted out once more by the bucketload as yesterday’s news was formally confirmed. The story had been doing the rounds a few days prior and had been hinted at with Matthews ‘duel’ (dual) cryptic video clue. At least, I’m assuming that’s what he meant. Even when you know the answer these things are harder to unravel than a pair of i-Pod headphones that have been left unattended in a draw for 24 hours. Oh, Apple. If only they played music as well as they knot themselves. Projecting the sound inwards, into the ears of the person intending to listen to Drake’s Greatest hit, rather than outwards – in the direction of fellow commuters.

Thomas Frank and Rasmus were, understandably, enthusing about our latest bit of business the newest signing. In the story which you can read in full on ‘official’, Thomas noted how “With Mathias’ arrival, we have a group of top-quality central midfielders with different skill sets which we can use in various combinations” whilst Rasmus went even stronger. “He is technically gifted and has a great football brain. In many ways we believe he is the perfect fit to Brentford, and we are really pleased that it was possible to sign him this window.

Wow. No pressure! But high praise indeed.  The obvious question off the back of all this is whether the door might swing the other way? There’s not been a day go by over the summer without one of Ezri Konsa, Romaine Sawyers, Neal Maupay, Ollie Watkins or Said Benrahama being linked with a move somewhere. Usually Aston Villa, Wolves or Sheffield United.

We all know the club modus operandi when it comes to business but having already trimmed the wage bill when contracts expired (farewell, Yoann Barbet) and sold Daniel Bentley, might this be it? Or could the signing of two central midfielders and two centre backs be an indication as to what may happen next?

It goes without saying that I hope nobody leaves. It also goes without saying that if somebody does, then more than a huge dollop of faith in the squad needs to be put in place. The club have consistently shown how well we recruit, sell and replace. How players continue to be better than those who had come before. How we balance the books whilst building the team.  Something I learned the hard way after the Birmingham City business a few years back. How much egg on face?

Yet in this final season at Griffin Park, might Matthew Benham really be going for it? Has he laid down an early statement of intent with his latest new signings and now be in the process of applying a heavy-duty padlock to the out-door? Who knows? These are exciting times and I can’t wait for the season proper to start in less than a month. If only for the prospect of seeing Pontus and Neal on the same team – the photo published on ‘official’  Twitter this week was just magnificent.

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I can’t wait for that first goal celebration….

Actually, that should read photos.

The one of Peter Gilham and Thomas Frank meeting Pontus just smacked of a burgeoning bromance. As did Peter’s tour diary, where the oblique reference to Drake (Charlie) had me chuckling more than it should have. Then again, so did his reference to The Pointer sisters. You can read that one, here. Keep up the great work, Peter.

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Ahhhh..

I’m so excited, indeed. Birmingham City and August 3rd can’t come soon enough.This really has the potential to be the big one….

511568510Until then, perhaps you may want to kindly please download the annual Last Word season review for e-book for your kindle, iPod telephone or other electronic reading device. You you can do so, here, with the important bit being that all proceeds received from the £1.99 sale price go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

It’s shonky, there are typos in it (still) but what better way to while away your time on the commute to work, the toilet, holiday or just simply relive some of the exciting moments from last campaign. And then prepare to see them blown out of the water in 2019/20

Nick Bruzon

Rumour meltdown: Jota, Bentley, Maupay. And a certain game (of Liverpool bingo) awaits.

1 Jun

The wait is over. Strap yourselves in for a wild ride. This is the big one. Sure, there may be something going on in Madrid this evening between Tottenham and Liverpool (and we WILL get there for a bumper game of bingo) but back in Brentford it begins. With Aston Villa confirmed as a Premier League team, there was always going to be untold speculation linking Dean Smith with not only his old club but just about any target that may have been potentially available. Yes, clickbait season – aka the early knockings of the summer transfer window – is here.

The desperate hunt for stories and transfer news sees all manner of sources close to clubs being quoted and suspicions alluded to as news sites will publish anything in the desperate search for hits. Usually involving the phrase, “We understand that…” and  “The player is thought to be: unhappy / desperate to force a move / frustrated / keen to test himself at a higher level”.

We don’t normally do rumours on these pages but with some corkers out there at present, you have to make an exception every now and again.  I’ve already seen a lot of talk about Aston Villa making a £20million swoop for Neal Maupay. It’s an obvious link between Dean Smith and Brentford with an incredible amount of money being suggested but it won’t be happening. No chance. The player is too deeply ingrained into the set up at Griffin Park. The club love him. He loves the club. The final season in our current home is where its going to be happening.

Indeed, if anyone leaves Brentford for Aston Villa then its more likely to be somebody like now out-of-contract Yoann Barbet or Josh McEachran – both of whom thrived under Dean at the start of the season just gone. Nobody can doubt Yoann’s versatility or passion and our loss will be anybody elses’ gain when pen is eventually put to paper. As for Josh, he was widely quoted as still harbouring England ambitions and, to be fair, was one of our stand out players prior to the autumn blip in form that saw us dumping our promotion ambitions for a short lived dalliance with the lower end of the table.

But rest assured, Neal is going nowhere. His value as an individual is, of course, immense but it is his interaction with those around him something that you cannot put a price on. The link up play with the likes of Sergi, Ollie and Said was a thing of beauty to behold. He needs them as much as we need him. If nothing else, can you honestly imagine him and John McGinn in the same team? Let’s just stamp on this rumour right now.

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Going nowhere

I’ve also seen whispering of Dan Bentley to Stoke City. That one seemed pretty random and probably based on nothing more than their all-round awfulness in 2018/19 and our own goalkeeping conundrum that eventually saw duties shared. Let’s not forget our first away game of last season, at Stoke, where the opening goal he and Chris Mepham conspired to let in between them was hardly a great advert for any prospective employer. Personally, I think Dan is great and would hate to see him go. Don’t let the odd hiccup last campaign tarnish his overall quality between the Griffin Park sticks.

Yet the best rumour involves the King. Jota. Despite the quality we have now, one can’t help but go misty-eyed thinking about all he did at Griffin Park. How awful it was to see him end up in that footballing backwater and cultural desert that is Birmingham City.

Now, there are stories doing the rounds that are linking him with a move across the city to reunite with Dean Smith as part of a swap deal involving somebody called Gary Gardner. I have to be honest, he’s not a player I’m overly familiar with but , regardless of the stories validity, it’s my favourite so far. Purely because of the reaction form the St. Andrews faithful. Talk about Twitter meltdown.  

DPE3B5xW0AE7Fz4I hope this one is true. Presumably we’d be in line for any sell on clause whilst it would be incredible to see Jota in the top flight.  He has the ability, that’s for sure. Jota v Jota in the Wolves – Villa game would be magnificent. Anything that causes Birmingham City angst can only be a good thing in my book and they’re likely looking to rebalance their wage bill after last season’s little bit of bother with financial irregularities and that points deduction.  Plus he’s a shoe-in for any fantasy football selection if so.

Come on – make it happen, Dean.

The genuine news out there at present is this evening’s Champions League final between Tottenham and Liverpool. It’s a game that is harder to unravel than one of Matthew Benham’s cryptic video clues. No matter who you think is the strongest of the two, the double ‘miracle’ of the semi-finals where seemingly insurmountable leads were reeled back in prove that both teams have what it takes. And both defences must be somewhat porous to have got into that position in the first place.

If anything, Tottenham pulled off the bigger miracle. Liverpool were at home and had the full 90 minutes to reel in Barcelona. Spurs were playing in Amsterdam and had capitulated to a position that saw them needing their three goals in the second half alone. To hang in there until finally taking an aggregate lead in the 96th minute of the second leg was nothing short of incredible.

I can’t even come close to calling who will win this one. What I can predict, however, is that we’ll have a field day in Champions League final bingo. For no other reason Liverpool are playing. Chuck another English team into the mix and you can bet the related clichés will be on overdrive.

If you’d like to play along, then here’s your card….

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Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Don’t let patchy away form mask longer term potential. Are we preparing for take off?

14 Apr

There’s not much to say about the result, really. Let’s look at the positives. Another goal for Neal Maupay. Another chance for Brentford to make the short trip to Reading next season. Who knows how important it may be to have the 2000+ fans we’ll take to the Madjeski rather than the 500+ we’d likely take to a Wigan Athletic or Rotherham United, for example. That is, assuming of course, that there are no further twists in a Championship race that is reaching an intriguing denouement. Likewise, and we spoke about this yesterday, the position of Charlton Athletic was further strengthened on a Saturday that saw them record a handsome victory over all but promoted Luton Town in League One. With even Millwall hanging in there via a last gasp equaliser at Bramall Lane, our final season at Griffin Park looks like it could have all the makings of a campaign that is played out very close to home.

Ruddy hell, even QPR won yesterday (not a typo) as did Fulham (not a typo). For the former, Championship football is all but a mathematical formality whilst the Cottagers have already been plugging the likes of Stoke, Swansea and Preston into the sat-nav following their rapid demotion from the top flight. And, of course, Brentford. See you next season, chaps. Whilst it would be trite to ignore our own blip in form that has seen the campaign very much decelerating to a gentle halt after briefly teasing a stab at the top six, the focus surely has to be about looking forward.

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See you next season…..

Thomas Frank alluded to this in his own post match press conference. Trying to pluck positives from a 2-1 defeat at Reading, he praised our second half improvement whilst making his intentions clear. “We now have four games left and we need to do everything we can to get 12 points. That’s the aim.” With trips to Millwall and Bolton aswell as visits from Leeds and Preston to come, it’s still possible. With the exception of the Leeds match, you’d bet on victory for the Bees in each of those. Theoretically. Of course Marcelo Bielsa is going to be about as formidable an opponent as they come but we’ve had home advantage over Leeds United in recent seasons and with our visitors having the added pressure of a promotion shoot out (3 into 2 just won’t go) to contend with, who knows what could happen in that one.

Ultimately, it counts for nothing in the short term beyond the mathematical nicety of ending the season as high as we can and increased prize money.  Of course finishing in the top ten once more will be a tremendous notch on the progress chart of Matthew Benham and his directors of football. We’ve done it in the previous four seasons and that must be the final objective for this campaign.  Whether we make it it or not won’t really change what comes next though. Whatever that is. And therein lie the biggest questions as to life at Brentford. With Season Ticket sales racing ahead of previous levels, the fans are already well up for 2019/20. Whatever that brings. 

Will there be more sales? More accumulation of untapped talent that has served us so very well in recent years? For all the derision and scorn poured at Brentford over the years as we moved away from traditional management and scouting techniques, the acquisitions and subsequent sales have more than proven we are on to something. Now, with Lionel Road on the horizon, might the top brass be tempted to ‘stick’ for a season rather than twist? The likes of Daniel Bentley and Yoann Barbet are already amongst those presumed to be on their last knockings. Sadly. Josh McEachran is who knows where (mini golf course?) whilst Ollie, Neal and Said are a holy trinity of players very much coveting some admiring glances from the wider footballing wolrd. That’s before you even factor in Dean Smith. With Aston Villa well set for a play-off push this time around, could he be thinking about using the Villa Park cheque book? Regardless of how that attempt turns out? 

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Whatever else happens, we’ll always have this

For all the paper talk, gossip and click bait nobody actually has a clue what is going to happen. Beyond Mr. Benham and his inner circle. One thing he has done consistently is surprise us all. Flip, we don’t even know what next season’s kit is going to look like or who will be replacing Adidas? How on earth are we meant to be able to figure out a recruitment strategy that has always been played very close to the chest when we don’t even know the colour of the shirt.

Just because we have sold when the price is right in the past, doesn’t mean we’ll do so again when there’s a new stadium on the horizon. How incredible would it be to start life at Lionel Road in the top flight. To make those “Bees up, Fulham down” chants a reality once more.

The fact we’re even having this conversation is ridiculous enough. In the nicest sense possible. That some fans were losing their heads as Autumn turned to Winter because we’d embarked on a bad run of Championship form. Three months later we were talking about play-off potential. That’s life at Griffin Park though. After years of underwhelming performance on the field of play (albeit a whole load of fun off it) we’re now well established. The kids don’t know they’re born.

I apologise for going all ‘during the war’ but some of those league one / two (or equivalent) campaigns over the years have been hard work from a footballing perspective. Some of the players we’ve had plying their trade, whilst full of commitment, did make you wonder just ‘how’ in retrospect. But that’s the level we had to operate at then. This is the quite wonderful scenario we are in now. Where success and victory is the expectation. Multi-million pound players , and sales, are the norm. Even if carried out within a very controlled environment. Nobody wants another Birmingham City or QPR…. 

So we lost to Reading yesterday. Bugger. Away form has been a challenge this time around, certainly compared to previous seasons at this level. There almost seems to be an acceptance amongst fans that we’re weak away from home. Which is not to have a pop at our supporters who have been consistently magnificent on the road . More, that the inability to consistently channel home performances into similar on our travels is perhaps the biggest frustration of all.

Then again, we won at Middlesbrough this season. If we can do that, and if we can hold on to this squad, then who knows what could happen next time around? Either way, I can’t wait. Once we’ve got the small matter of those final four games out of the way. How wonderful will it be to head into the summer holidays smiling, with the prospect of more to come…..

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Despite all the unknowns about next season, it’s a safe bet the Jaffa cake will be retired. Sadly.

Nick Bruzon 

Bees hoping for more, more, more as West Brom visit this afternoon

16 Mar

What a run it has been for Brentford. 7(seven) wins in succession at Griffin Park. The crowd behind the team. The team playing for fun. Those full time celebrations and walks around the paddock now becoming a very welcome, and regular, feature. Most of all, it’s fun. The smiles are broad and the goals are flying in. I love it and can’t wait for the next game to come around. However, promotion chasing West Bromwich Albion are in town today and will be the latest team looking to put a spoke in the wheel of Thomas Frank’s runaway home form. Everybody needs to be on red alert for this one. Despite relieving manager Darren Moore of his duties last week, they got back to winning ways on Wednesday night against Swansea City. It was a game which featured what must surely be a contender for worst. penalty. ever as the Swans missed out on the opportunity to equalise in quite spectacular style. When you have that level of fortune smiling on you, it’ll be no surprise if The Baggies come in to this one with their tails up. Yet with the table still tight and The Bees 7(seven) points off 6th with a game in hand, despite our own midweek slip up at Sheffield United, there’ll be no excuses for not going at this one full tilt.

And full tilt is what Thomas Frank specialises in. Our home record speaks for itself whilst last month saw Brentford hit five goals at Griffin Park on two separate occassions. Hull City and Blackburn Rovers being the teams to take that pummelling at the back. QPR were put to the sword with what looked like consummate ease last time we were all here. Then, of course, there was the win on the road at Middlesbrough. Finally, it happened. What a reward for all the hard work, effort and self-belief.

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Thomas celebrates at home. Again

Even our substitutions are positive. There’s no looking to run down the clock or grind it out in the last few minutes with additional defenders or holding midfielders. Instead, Thomas is swapping one attacking player for another. It worked a treat in that QPR game whilst was a tactic deployed very early up at Sheffield United. It was a tactic that almost paid off against a side whose own defence is tighter than a pair of 80’s football shorts.   

As for the team, Saïd Benrahma has been on fire and this week captured the Championship goal of the month award for February aswell as also being earlier nominated in the ‘player’ category. Neal Maupay is becoming a cult hero to rival the best of those we’ve seen over the years as he mixes fighting spirit with goals. His 20 in the league, to date, is a figure beaten only by a small clutch of players and the crowd love him. Sergi is once more playing like the Sergi of old. Romaine is the absolute unsung hero of the side. The choice of wing backs and three centre backs is giving both added protection in along with another option of being able to turn defence into attack. 

The squad is about as full strength as one could hope for at this point in the season. Rico Henry remains absent whilst, of course, Daniel Bentley is a casualty of that game at Middlesbrough. Luke Daniels came in for the Sheffield United game and Thomas has already confirmed he’ll be starting again today. We’ve all see what Luke can do over the last couple of seasons and he can, perhaps, count himself unlucky not to have been given a chance earlier on this tie around. The life of a goalkeeper must be a frustrating one at times.

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Saïd, Neal and the team are providing goals and smiles

So it all sounds very promising for The Bees but let’s not forget the small matter of our visitors. West Brom almost pulled off an 11th hour stay of execution from Premier League relegation last time out and they’ve picked up where they left off. At least, in terms of position. The play off zone has been an almost constant feature this time out, something that their illustrious neighbours (please note, your definition of illustrious may vary) have really struggled with in recent seasons following their own demotions from the top flight. Aston Villa and Birmingham City, I’m looking at you. 

Dwight Gayle is still banging them in, sitting just behind Neal in the Championship goal scorers table. He has managed 3 from his last 2 games against The Bees and will no doubt be looking to improve on that today. The run of results that saw Darren Moore pushed out was immediately reversed with that 3-0 defeat of Swansea City. If nothing else, could the change of manager (given what many fans were describing as confusing tactics) and the huge slice of luck in ‘that penalty’ prove pivotal in lifting them back to a position of being promotion favourites ?

All is forgiven, Marcello…

My heart says ‘home win’ today. Brentford have been on fire, especially at Griffin Park, whilst West Bromwich Albion are still dusting themselves down after the upheaval and wayward performances of the last few weeks. Yet with the visitors looking to lock down their play-off position and the Bees still with hopes of ghosting up the table to sixth, could pressure and expectation be the biggest factors here? Will the winning team be the one the handles this the best? Or will Thomas Frank have more of those wonderful motivational cards up his sleeve to inspire the team and the fans to another home win?

I’m just the numpty on the terrace and have no means of being able to answer that with any form of accuracy. But I tell you what, I can’t wait for kick off to find out how this one is going to go. It promises to be as exciting a game as any we’ve had to date.

Roll on 3pm. See you there.

Nick Bruzon 

All good things come to an end. Now is the time to go ag, ag, ag.. once more.

10 Feb

So it wasn’t to be 11 unbeaten. It wasn’t to be another victory on the road in the incredible orange and brown. A 2-1 win for Nottingham Forest saw Brentford defeated for the first time since that mid-December trip to Hull (and back?) . With back to back TV clashes at home to Aston Villa and then up at Swansea City in the FA Cup to come, January’s manager-of-the-month nominee Thomas Frank is now tasked with the challenge of getting the momentum going once more.

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Thomas will need to go ag.. once more

Brentford official would describe this one as ‘Frustrating’ on the club Twitter feed at full time. The stats would certainly bear this out with the game ending on 70% possession and 21 shots for The Bees.  Ollie Watkins had a goal disallowed, the woodwork was hit twice and Daniel Bentley pulled off a magnificent double penalty save. Sergi Canos provided hope late on with his fourth in four games. Yet we all know that ‘deserving’ and ‘stats’ count for nothing if you can’t take your chances or if you give away sloppy goals.

Certainly, Nottingham Forest will be well pleased with their win and made no mistake when opportunity knocked. The highlights are up on Sky’s website already and are very much a case of – move along quickly, nothing to see here. At least, at the back.

The defensive coaches will no doubt be having words on Monday morning about what were two very soft efforts to concede. In the cold light of day we can’t be pleased about either but, at the same time, let’s not deny Lewis Grabban or Molla Wague any kudos here. They worked their chances, were perhaps given a helping hand but still had to put them away.

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Another penalty save counted for nothing in the end

On another day we might have won this one. The positive news being that there were chances to take. The run of goals, goals, goals had to end at some point. We’ll bounce back. The visit of Aston Villa on Wednesday night couldn’t have come at a better time. If we can’t get ourselves up for this one then what’s the point of bothering? Who doesn’t want to prove a point to Dean Smith? Player or fan?

We all acknowledge why he took the ‘dream job’ and I can’t imagine there’ll be any ‘ill will’  but that doesn’t change the fact he left a wonderful young squad at a progressive club. He’d taken Brentford to a position where we’d been named as Championship favourites when Villa came calling and that mantle was passed to Thomas Frank. Now he returns with a team who are scoring goals, and shipping them, for fun. It could be a scintillating encounter.

Then there’s Swansea City in the FA Cup. What an incredible opportunity awaits in that game. A fleet of free coaches heading up the M4 in the hope of reaching the quarter finals in a winner takes all clash. there’s no chance of a replay now. It has to be sorted on the day, via the mediums of extra time and penalties if needed. No prizes for guessing which direction that one could end up heading. This is Brentford after all….

I’d love to have beaten Nottingham Forest. If only to extend a fine winning run in recent seasons agasint the Tricky Trees at the City Ground. There’s the personal reasons of wanting to get one over a few of their supporters whilst who doesn’t love extending an unbeaten run? Instead, It was former Bee Lewis Grabban who swung the axe to chop us down for the first time in five home games.

Now, we have to prove this was the blip that I am sure it will be after a fine run of form. Forest are pushing at the play-offs. Brentford looking at a cup run. As Harry said to me at full time, “Daddy. Was that a league game? … Thank goodness, so we’re still in the FA Cup then!

I can’t account for the naivety of youth and I’m certainly not going to dent his enthusiasm. Wednesday will be huge but Sunday could be epic.

Nick Bruzon

Magnificent Brentford obliterate Blackburn. What an afternoon at Griffin Park.

2 Feb

My word. That was incredible. What an afternoon. What a game. What a result. Brentford swept aside Blackburn Rovers in a phenomenal display that saw a 0-2 deficit with just 7(seven) on the clock turned into an eventual 5-2 thrashing. We’ve handed out some football lessons over the last few seasons – the likes of Leeds United, Birmingham City and Aston Villa amongst those to feel the pain of a full force red machine – but this was something else. Moreso given the quite horrific start to proceedings.

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Brentford were head and shoulders above Blackburn at Griffin Park

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages and now isn’t the time to change that record. If you were lucky enough to be there you’ll know how scintillating Brentford were. How irrepressible Said Benrahma was. How desperate were an opening eight minutes that saw Bradley Dack and Danny Graham hand in-form Blackburn an early lead with Daniel Bentley beaten twice. And then the Bees woke up.

Benrahma got our first after a wonderful exchange of passes. The Rovers defence sliced open with all the precision of a surgeon. The execution, clinical. That the goal came so soon after having shipped our second almost nullified the effect of going down so early. The crowd shifted from moan to buzz to noise.

The Bees kicked on. Harrison Reed in the Rovers midfield kicked off. It was symptomatic of his afternoon, tumbling under the most innocuous of challenges and doing his level best to wind up the Brentford players. But they, and the ref, were having none of it. Instead, all he got was a chorus of boos for his trouble. 

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Cheer up cheater Reed. Captain Romaine makes his point.

With Benrahma also finding the crossbar from out wide, Brentford went in 2-1 down at half time but very much in the ascendency. And when they came out for the second period, things escalated to the realms of fantasy football. Ollie Watkins levelled up from distance (something which seems to be very much his thing at present) as the Bees continued to turn the screw. 

Attacking with confidence, flair and swagger there was only one team in it. With Blackburn forced to withdraw both their goalscorers they could do nothing but try to soak up the relentless pressure. A kitchen sponge would have done a better job. 

Ollie Watkins got his second and our third on 73, heading home after David Raya made a mess of a high ball in the box. Five minutes later Neal Maupay doubled the lead after another slick passage of play from Thomas Frank’s free-flowing Bees. And with Brentford refusing to slow it down, birthday boy Sergi Canos completed the rout in the final few minutes.

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Size doesn’t matter – the Bees kept pushing up until the end.

One can’t underrate the beauty of our play or the tremendous character shown by the team. To go two down so quickly against a Blackburn side coming into the game on such a great run of form could have been the catalyst for disaster. Instead, it was a metaphorical boot up the backside that resulted in us being privileged enough to witness one of THE Brentford performances. 

The goals are up on Sky already – they’re every one of them worth a watch. Ollie Watkins ended this one being nominated for Sky Sports ‘goal of the day’. Frankly, it could have been any of the five. Trying to pick a Man-of-the-match from that one is a task akin to the judgement of Solomon. Ollie? Said? Kamo? Romaine? Yoann? Any of them.

Neal was as formidable and ballsy as ever. He must be nightmare to play against. Talking to one Braemar Road observer in the second half, he commented that we probably haven’t had such a tenacious (that’s the polite version) player since the likes of Terry Hurlock. There is no quarter given. Whether in the challenge, the build up or the finish. 

Honestly, I can’t was lyrical enough about this one. It was a finish and performance that put me in mind of Birmingham City last season. The 5-0 rout. Fans lined the pitch at full time as the players walked off to a heroes’ serenade. Thomas Frank, his arm around Neal Maupay, amongst the last to exit this arena of joy. How wonderful for him to see his own plans coming together after that horrific run of form that coincided with his own step up into the head coach role. Yet he has stuck to his principals, taken a horrific amount of flak on the chin but won those dissenting voices around. That’s now 9 games unbeaten and the goals flying in for fun. These 5 came after the 3 against Barnet, the 4 at Rotherham United and another 3 at home to Stoke City. 15 in four games – that’s just ridiculous.

The only question now being how Tuesday night can follow this? A visit from Barnet in an FA Cup replay, our lesson learned, could turn into a massacre IF Brentford continue with the same flair and attacking intent. It’s no gimme of course but I can’t wait to see if we can pick up then where we left off tonight.

What a performance.

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The smile says it all as Brentford go 4-2 up

Nick Bruzon

Sheer Bliss for Neal and Thomas. Who or what comes next?

6 Jan

Brentford 1 Oxford United 0. The Bees are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup. It’s another clean sheet. It’s five games unbeaten. It could have been by more but in the end Neal Maupay’s penalty kick proved to be the crucial difference between the two sides. It never felt in doubt yet, but the same virtue, could have gone either way with the visitors pushing late on. Who cares though? I don’t. The most important thing is the Bees are ball number 4 of those to be decanted from the velvet bag into the tombola for Monday night’s draw. We’ve successfully navigated the potato skin already trodden on by the likes of Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and even divisional rivals Norwich City on Saturday. We can now start making another tin foil trophy and blocking out the diary for the last weekend in January. Start dreaming of a visit from the likes of Manchester City or Accrington Stanley. Start dreaming of another cup run.

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Buzz Bee was up for the cup before kick off

Brentford looked positive and were dominant without creating bucketloads of chances. Oxford United did sufficient to close us out and would slowly find a way into a game played out against a strong starting XI. Moreso, one which was bolstered from the bench by the arrival of Neal Maupay. Indeed it was our top scorer who would eventually prove pivotal. His mazy run through the midfield and into the box was brought to a crunching halt by the intervention of former Bee John Mousinho. Maupay made no mistake from the spot and with ten minutes left on the clock that was it, surely?

Indeed it was. Nothing further transpired and despite a late flourish from the visitors it always seemed as though we would progress. Brentford did what they needed to. End of. The game wasn’t a classic by any stretch of the imagination but when the balls drop for Monday’s draw (live on the BBC from Molineux – hopefully not another dreadful crossover with TV’s The One Show) nobody will care how we got there. Nobody is going to begrudge us a visit from Manchester City or a trip to Accrington Stanley because we failed to feast at the Oxford United all you can score buffet. It’s massively disrespectful to both our opponents and to the team which Thomas put out. They did what they had to. They kept it tight at the back. They scored the winning goal.  

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Yesss!! 1-0 as we celebrate Neal Maupay’s penalty

What else can we take from this one? Neal Maupay is now cup tied. As are the likes of Ollie Watkins and Rico Henry. Good news all round on that front. Was there as much to be read into those who were left out of the 18 man squad altogether? There was no room for Henrik Dalsgaard, Nico Yennaris, Romaine Sawyers, Daniel Bentley or Chris Mepham. Was this injury, simple squad rotation or anything deeper, given the obvious lure these players offer to the top flight. Dean Smith, of course, is also rumoured to be sniffing around now that the transfer window is wide open. Given his own Aston Villa were tipped out by Swansea City availability for the cup (or not) won’t be on any list of his concerns.

Brentford and transfer stories go hand in hand at this time of the year. That will never change. With Ryan Woods having had his loan at Stoke City confirmed to a fully fledged sale earlier this week (who on earth saw that one coming?), have we perhaps already concluded our business? We live in hope although I can’t imagine we’ll have seen the last of such activity this time around. Even if it is simply rebuffing further approaches from Eddie Howe for Chris Mepham or politely telling Dean Smith that his money’s not welcome at Griffin Park. One can dream.

But that’s what it’s about at the moment. Dreams. Some are dreaming of keeping the squad intact. Others of a dream FA Cup draw again the likes of a Liverpool or Manchester City. Personally, I’ll be happy with a home tie and a chance of progression. There’s nothing to stir the blood and fire the imagination like an FA Cup run. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to really embark on one of these. The days of Martin Allen and a fifth round replay at home to Southampton, the winners knowing they would host Manchester United in the quarter finals. Of course, for those of us a bit longer in the tooth there was 1988 /1989 when we reached an Anfield quarter-final. Gary Blissett’s heroics that season are as fresh in the memory now as they were then. 

The fact that you can count these on the fingers of one hand show just how infrequent a Brentford cup run is. With league form starting to solidify and Thomas Frank’s new look defence having finally eradicated the silly mistakes that had been symptomatic of our game prior to the Christmas fixtures, could this be the year to finally focus on a stab at Wembley? No matter what our form at the ‘W’ place is ! 

Roll on Monday night. I can’t wait to find out….

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The iconic Bees cup image as Bliss puts Manchester City to the sword

Nick Bruzon

Five years of festive fun as Brentford do it again.

18 Dec

Whatever is happening on the pitch, off it there’s always one night a year that reinforces to me what a close knit family Brentford football club are. How well we look after our younger fans. How excited they are at the chance to meet their heroes. How great it is for parents and guardians to ‘unfortunately’ have to do the same – under the guise of simply being responsible for their little ones.

Last night saw the latest Junior Bees Christmas party at Griffin Park. It was, as ever, a quite wonderful event. Father Christmas was there. Buzz and Buzzette were there. Thomas Frank was there in the middle of the forecourt, talking to anyone and everyone. As importantly, the players were there. Hosting games, signing autographs, giving out presents, putting some huge smiles on the faces of our young fans and, in the case of Sergi Canos, our older ones too. There must have been as many pictures with him and Neal Maupay for the grown ups as the Juniors (although maybe that was just me).

I love our club for doing this and can’t thank everyone enough. Let’s hope it has provided some much needed Christmas cheer as we head into the festive period. Certainly, I saw nothing but happy faces as two hours shot by in the blink of an eye.

That the club continues to do this is nothing but brilliant. Yet, also, it’s given me plenty to embarrass Harry with further down the line. So if you’ll forgive the self-indulgence, here’s my favourite picture from each of the last five years of his own Junior Bees Christmas experience…..

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December 2014 – not the reaction Buzzette was hoping for

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December 2015. They kissed and made up 

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December 2016 – foul throw?

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December – 2017. Sergi and Josh on the ‘ being popular’ stall

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December 2018 – all smiles

 

THANK YOU, Brentford.

Nick Bruzon