Tag Archives: David Raya

Jurassic Park !!! Crazy costume heralds ‘keeper return.

11 Jan

Game on. Brentford travel to Southampton this evening. Victory, should it be earned, will take us into the top ten. Any other result is not even an option being considered by yours truly. Optimism is high following a strong start to the year and some wonderful news off the training ground. We’ve got Liverpool (a) and Manchester United (h) to come after this one and an FA Cup fourth round tie at Everton. Immediately followed by the trip to Manchester City in the league. If Thomas Frank’s team ever wanted to be tested at the highest level then the opportunity is very much here in the next few weeks. First up though, the injury update.

Ordinarily we’d start with some reference to the Southampton game. Rightly so. It is the immediate focus but the news out of Brentford ‘official’ yesterday was jaw droppingly good. Not to mention laced with the simple question…. “Why?”

If ever some ‘Monday motivation’ (urghh – see also humpday Wednesday and Gameday Saturday) were needed then here it was by the bucketload. David Raya back in training. Or, rather, David Raya back in training but rocking up at Jersey Road in a T-Rex costume. Repeat, a T-Rex costume. To clarify, a dinosaur rather than a Mark Bolan corkscrew perm and dapper threads combo.

Jurassic Park !!!

Back on the grass? Or just the painkillers taking hold to inspire a remarkable return? If the smiles were broad at Jersey Road they were even bigger in cyberspace. The Brentford family as exited on Twitter about the next step in his return as his choice of unexpected training gear. It was one of those,  “What the actual…?” moments. One best just enjoyed. As much for his entrance as the sight of our number one looking as solid as one could hope in a shot stopping drill for the cameras.

Brentford official captured it in full. David’s idea, apparently. No idea why but you can’t deny its impressive. Not to mention making me wonder whether there is somebody else inside Buzzette at present if this is what he does as part of that journey back to full fitness?

Whilst a return to playing may be some way off still, just to see David doing his thing was a phenomenal boost. Kris Ajer’s return against Port Vale in the FA cup at the weekend had already given Bees’ fans a lift and then there was this. Yet just when things couldn’t get any better, they did. Thomas Frank using his press conference for the Southampton game to talk about Josh Dasilva. We’d all seen those pictures of him back in training last week but the news on a potential return was about as good as it gets for a player who has missed the entire Premier League campaign.

“I said to Josh the other day that he could be our best signing this year. I really hope he comes back in a fantastic place. Hopefully, five or six weeks if everything goes to plan and he could potentially be available”. That’s no time at all.

Granted, there was an understandable air of caution in the proviso that, “We need to build him very carefully and strong. He needs to have a proper pre-season to load him well. We can’t get too over-excited but everything has been fine so far. The medical staff have been fantastic and done a top job”. However, this suddenly feels close. Very close.

Josh was absolutely immense in the Championship and has already gone on to represent England U-21. With him and David back out there and Kris already in the team, it feels like we’ve had a transfer window hat trick without signing anyone. Just phenomenal news. Let’s not forget either that Josh is only 23. Whilst this absence has felt like an eternity, time is very much on his side when it comes it the future. Here’s to it being with Brentford.

Exciting news from the training ground

As for tonight, Southampton are no push-overs, that’s for sure. The challenge will be as tough as the aforementioned games with Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City. If not harder, given nobody outside of TW8 expects us to do anything against the teams from the North-West. Yet tonight, we are ahead of our hosts in the Premier League and are back to winning ways following the thing at Brighton. The comeback against Aston Villa was inspirational, with the pressure being cranked up to the nth degree until victory eventually came (even if the ultimate talking point remains Trezeguet’s theatrics at the death…).

So yes, we may be back in the zone but that still needs to come with the ultimate respect for who we are up against. Thomas would talk about their pressing and their drive.  “They go very front-footed and are at some stages the best high-pressing, energy team in the league. Then they have some key players; James Ward-Prowse is maybe the best set-piece taker in the league”.

He knows it. We know it. Sadly, there isn’t even time to parachute Ward-Prowse into my Fantasy Football team. A curse which worked so well against Aston Villa with the no-show from Ollie Watkins and two goals conceded by Ezri Konsa. Perhaps just an ‘any time’ goal scorer bet. Whilst it may mean missing out on a whopping £2.30, it could be the best pound invested given my own ongoing ineptitude when it comes to predicting football or winning bets.

Forget Wissa’s rocket – the Villa win was as much down to my own team selection

Still, whatever nonsense takes place in the build up, it all comes down to who Thomas starts and how they go? Can Kris Ajer force his way into the back three or will an appearance from the bench be part of his own, well planned return? Sergi Canos and Matthias Jensen are both available once more although I’d be amazed if Mads Roerslev misses out on the right. So it turns out to be a three-way fight between Dominic Thompson, Sergi or perhaps even the wildcard option of Saman Ghoddos on the left. Rico Henry is expected to be back for the weekend trip to Liverpool. With respect to the other three, the second he is fit then he will unquestionably go straight back in to the team.

As for the middle of the park, it has to be Janelt, Baptiste and Norgaard. Only injury to one of those will see Matthias Jensen force his way into the starting XI. They’re simply that good at present. Up top, Bryan alongside Ivan writes itself after the weekend. Albeit, we don’t know how much strength is in the legs after that short-term lay off. Roll on 6.46 when ‘official’ announce the team news.

Finally, just a thought about those who can’t make it at present. And no, this is not a reference to the ‘plastic’ fans who weren’t at Port Vale. Seriously? Personally speaking, I had a great time drinking a glass of wine on the couch with Mrs. B in front of the tv on Saturday. Sometimes, things have to give for any number of reasons – financial or otherwise.

Something which has come to a head for some of our own friends who sit alongside us in the North stand. If they are somehow reading (stranger things and all that) then know your presence has been sorely missed. Whilst we hope you are back soon, just look after yourselves and know that all in our group are thinking of you. Some of us miss games through choice. Others have less control over matters. It doesn’t make you any ‘less’ of a fan. Genuinely, I’d love a 100% attendance record but that’s just not always possible. At least I get a choice though. Take care and see you soon x

Until then, its on to Southampton. Safe travels to all that can make this one. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Will injury blow impact title chances?

27 Oct

After Iheanacho lifts over, Pérez collides with Raya while trying to latch onto Tielemans’ pass – both are fine to continue as play resumes. Not my words, the words of official Leicester City Twitter on Sunday afternoon at 3.46pm. Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon.  After a few days of tests and scans with the medical department, I’m gutted to say that I’ve damaged my Posterior Cruciate Ligament in my left knee on Sunday. Not my words, the words of Brentford goalkeeper David Raya as it was announced he will miss the next four to five months recovering from the injury sustained in the collision with Ayoze Pérez. All of which means preparation form tonight’s game with Stoke City along with the Premier league clashes with Burnley, Norwich City and way beyond are now back to the drawing board. Huesca loanee Álvaro Fernández  will be handed the gloves with the Bees now minus our inspirational shot stopper. 

Bad news from social media

Urghh. Something had seemed odd during the game when Raya hadn’t run up to cause havoc in the Leicester box late on. The award of a corner kick deep into the 7(seven) minutes of injury time was met with exhortations from the crowd for the Brentford ‘keeper to push up and cause mayhem in the opposition box. Instead, we got a rather tepid limp forward and a holding position maintained well inside his own half.

The irony being this moment occurred during time added on to make up for all the ‘treatment’ required by our visitors during the regulation ninety. Supporters infuriated by opponents, and I’ll be generous here, making the most of every moment they went to ground. Collapsing like industrial chimneys after the plunger had been, err, plunged.

Plunge the plunger…..

Cripes. Even Harry had said to me at full time. “Dad. Do you know who men of the match should be?”   Err, ‘men’? I questioned.  He continued, “The Leicester physios”. Well said that boy. Well said.

The regularity with which they collapsed to the floor before making a full recovery had not gone unobserverd by H, us, the entire North stand and fourth official who would eventually hold up the board. My word, It was almost as though it had been a preordained tactic.

Channel your inner Fred Dibnah. Get the lead and go to ground. Run down the clock. Grind it out.

Channelling their inner ‘Fred’ was a success for Leicester

Nobody is suggesting there was any particular malice from Perez, btw. At the time it had seemed like another brave save from Raya. Watching back the highlights on Match of the Day, it didn’t even warrant a viewing. Indeed the most distasteful element aside from the pronunciation of Boo-moo (one to file alongside Canyos) was the celebration from James Maddison for what transpired to be his winning goal.

We’d given him stick all game, and understandably given his own combination of cosying up to the ref whilst playing in bowling shoes, so one can hardly blame him for milking the moment.

I want to be the villain,” he said at full time. “It makes it all the sweeter when I score up that end.”  If nothing else, it makes our rematch on 19th March all the more intriguing. 

Giving it back to the West Stand

Hey, you never know. By that point David may be fit again. Fingers crossed the anti-gravity treadmill does it’s thing. We have the consolation in the fact that no surgery is required. Brentford head of medical Neil Greig confirming that this sort of injury ”Usually heals well without the need for surgery. David has already begun using a brace specifically designed to aid this process.”  You can read that one in full on ‘official’.

Until that point, its a case of best wishes to David off the field and the same to Álvaro Fernández on it. The reserve ‘keeper, on loan from Huesca, now has a chance to establish himself in the battle for the gloves. Whilst nobody would want to get their chance in this fashion, it’s how football goes. The Olympic silver medalist already has a full international cap to his name and so hardly as though we are chucking Don Incognito into the mix. He will no doubt be desperate to hit the ground running and propel Brentford back into the race for the Champion’s League places. Or beyond…. Had The Bees got the decisive goal on Sunday, we’d be waking up this morning placed fifth in the Premier League. Such fine margins in a race which still has a long way to run.

If nothing else, the Directors of Football seem to have got this ‘talent spotting’ thing sorted out just fine. Whilst of course I’m desperately sad to lose David, and for such a long period of a season in which he was making an even bigger name for himself than already, at least there is comfort to be taken in the cover. What this means for the Stoke City game this evening, where he was sure to feature, remains to be seen. Roll on 6.45pm and the team announcements for that news. I can’t imagine Thomas will risk him with his first choice league ‘keeper now MIA.

Then we’re on to Burnley. To Norwich City. To Newcastle United and a long run of games in which David will need to join the rest of us on the sidelines. Looking on and cheering. A run of games where we play some of the biggest names and sternest tests in English football. So just like the season to date then. 

There’s not much else to say at this point. The injury has been confirmed and we can’t dress it up any. A top class player is out. A replacement with all the potential is in. Bring on Saturday afternoon when we see just what Álvaro can do. Until then, it’s a case of knowing that the entire Brentford family is behind David, thinking of him and hoping for a speedy recovery.

David Raya is a Bee.

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

All to play for in second leg with key decisions to be made.

18 May

90 minutes from Wembley. Brentford a goal down after a 1-0 first leg play-off defeat at Bournemouth. A game our hosts may feel should have been out of sight after creating the lion’s share of the chances but, instead, we go into Saturday’s return fixture at Lionel Road with the deficit as narrow as they come. Indeed, it could well have been a case of honours even had Bryan Mbeumo managed to convert a glorious opportunity in the second half from six yards out. That’s football. The Cherries will no doubt be upset about not having a larger advantage after the combination of David Raya and a resolute defence combined to keep them out on all but the solitary occasion. The other semi final saw Swansea City hold on to a 1-0 win at Barnsley in a tie that, like ours, remains wide open.

All to play for, still

Positives? The tie is wide open still. Only an idiot would prefer to be behind rather than level or better but at 0-1, we find ourselves no worse off than last season against Swansea. The difference this time around being we’ll have close to 4,000 supporters lifting the roof off Lionel Road on Saturday lunchtime. Bournemouth manager Jonathan Woodgate would describe last night’s atmosphere as “Just unbelievable, it was electrical.” Imagine what it will be like for the second leg with double the amount of fans and Peter Gilham egging us on? If ever there was a time to welcome supporters back it is now. 

Last years’s return tie saw us storm out of the traps and the aggregate the lead restored within fifteen minutes. Thomas will no doubt be expecting the same, noting at full time that “We’re 1-0 down, so there’s plenty of time still to turn this round. We’ll be ready and come flying out 100%.”

It is the only way to approach the game. The noise will be incredible and the players will be chomping at the bit. Likewise, we’ll have Rico Henry and Henrik Dalsgaard available for selection once more. Both players made second half cameos from the bench to give Thomas the nicest of selection headaches for the return leg. Stick or twist? Sergi or Rico? Mads or Henrik? Revert to the mid season formation or keep on doing what we have for the last few months? Who’d be a head coach?

The obvious negative being we go into it a goal down. All the aspirations and parallels won’t change that. Having weathered the first half storm, it was a soft goal to give away. Pontus losing possession and Bournemouth breaking with devastating speed. Carving us open with no possibility of salvation. It was a blitzkrieg assault and a brutal finish. For once, Raya left with no chance. A lesson very much to be heeded for Saturday. For all we will approach this one differently, taking the game to our opponents from the off, one can’t under estimate their own ability to make something out of nothing. To turn a spark into a flame. I predict goals. I predict noise. I predict a riot (on field).

There’s not much left to really say this morning. We’ve all seen it and Bournemouth deserved to win on the night – they scored , we didn’t. It wasn’t even as though it felt stolen or against the run of play. We lost the battle in the midfield and didn’t create enough opportunities. The flip side being that , cliche alert, it really is only half time. Get it right on Saturday and last night’s result will count for nothing. A historical curio en-route to the final. IF we get it right…. You can bet that Bournemouth will have their own tails up. They’ll have their own decisions to make about approach. Go for broke as we will or look to stifle the game and run down the clock? If Thomas has selection decisions, Jonathan Woodgate will very much have tactical ones. 

Still, that’s their problem. For Brentford, we know exactly what needs to be done. I can’t wait for this one. Bring it on and hopefully see you there. As Thomas said at full time, “Bournemouth fans did an ok job… we need you guys. We need a hostile environment.”

This could be fun….

Nick Bruzon

Bees keeper puts in killer performance as strikers blitz Boro’.

7 Feb

Where to even begin ? How about in my bed? Don’t turn away – it’s not like that. Genuinely, I woke in the middle of the night from a terrible dream. Fate had conspired to see us in the play-off final once more. We were playing Fulham once more. For reasons unknown our opponents had rocked up wearing Sumo suits so we couldn’t get near them. Keith Stroud choosing to ignore this flagrant breach of the rules. Despite the score being 2-2 with half an hour left, they then started scoring goals. 3-2. 4-2. Ten minutes to go, somebody changed channels and I woke with a jolt. I never found out if we won or otherwise. Whether the team was broken up after a second successive defeat at the W place. Yet what I will take from it was that it was horribly vivid. Felt devastatingly real. A combination of last season and that game at the Millennium rolled in to one. Thankfully, it was nothing more than nonsense. The yin to a quite incredible yang of our 4-1 win at Middlesbrough. Three points which see us leapfrog Swansea City and offered the opportunity of topping the table. Victory against Reading on Wednesday night, our game in hand, will see us overtake Norwich City at the summit. Cripes, this is getting exciting. 

It certainly was

Yet if anything, that dream has reminded me that settling for the play-offs is not an option this time around. I can’t go through that again and, the way this team are playing, I don’t think we’ll need to. That’s now 20 games unbeaten and one of the biggest potato skins on the calendar, Middlesbrough away, has been negotiated. Not only negotiated but sliced into the air and volleyed into the recycling bin. Brentford were immense. Magnificent. About as devastating as we get. Quite honestly, it could have been brackets. 4-1 doesn’t begin to even tell half the story of a game that was about as poles apart form that awful 0-0 at Lionel Road as it is possible to be.

If nothing else, how often do you see a 2 goal striker (Ivan Toney with another brace) in a scoreline of this magnitude miss out on Man Of The Match to the winning team’s goalkeeper. A goalkeeper who, move along nothing to see here, made a rare slip to gift our hosts a third minute own goal? It could have been curtains for Brentford yet just like the game with Bristol City during the week, it only served to inspire us. What came next was about as brilliant as it has been all campaign. 

Brentford pushed up. As did Middlesbrough, to be fair. Both teams going for broke and David Raya, having got whatever it was out of his system, playing just about the best game we’ve seen him have for The Bees. Brilliance and bravery in equal measure. Bolasie amongst those thwarted before Ivan Toney eventually levelled things up on 38. The goal had been coming and Tariqe Fosu was in no way offside – it was marginal, ok – as he took the ball from Ivan, cut down the flank and returned it into the box for the simplest of tap ins. Simple , of course, if you are on this sort of form. 

1-1 and Brentford on top. Another goal was imminent although it was Middlesbrough who should have had it. A point blank double save by Raya from Britt Assombalonga and then George Saville underlining the sort of game our number 1 was having. The net should have been rippling. Neil Warnock should have been hugging his assistant in delight. Thankfully for all of us, not least the assistant, we were spared that sight by the sheer, unadulterated brilliance from the Bees’ ‘keeper. He had no right to get even half-way close yet pulled it off. The goal intact, unlike his own more delicate parts. A very painful looking boot to the groin area the price to pay for keeping us alive. Ouch!!!

“PS: that hurt” – not my words but those of David Raya when he published this photo

Half-time couldn’t come quick enough. A chance to regroup. To dry off from the biblical downpour. To massage the more tender spots. To decide which way we would approach the second half. At full pelt was the answer. Just as we’d done against Wycombe and Bristol City, it was back out and fly at the opposition. With Raya pulling off his one man heroics whenever they had a sniff it gave us that belief to keep going for it. And what a way to do so.

Vitaly Janelt made it 2-1 on 58. A shot from the edge of the box so telegraphed that we were already shouting ‘Gooooallll’ before it even reached him. Ivan Toney teeing it up so beautifully that it looked like something out of a video game. The finish was equal to it. Hard and true to the bottom corner. My word. What a strike. What goal. What a team. He buried it with all the finesse of an undertaker. Bettinelli in nets left for dead. 

2-1 became 3-1 minutes later. This time it was Matthias Jensen who capitalised on a slip and raced clear from half-way. Brentford were 3 on 1 yet, if anything, he had too much time. What to do? Pass or continue? Shoot or round the keeper? He went with the later and despite defenders rushing back, there was no mistake made. It was cool as you like and one of the hardest of chances to take. I really thought he was going to Clayton it. Much as we absolutely loved Donaldson in our house, and still do, he would sometimes overthink the moment when clean through the middle and bearing down on the goalkeeper. Yet here was no faltering. No hesitation. No doubt. If there had been any nerves then they weren’t showing. Surely things were now safe?

Perhaps, but it didn’t stop Brentford from carrying on. Rico Henry saw a shot on goal tipped onto the woodwork by Bettinelli but the ball only found its way as far as Ivan Toney. On this form, there’s only one place its going to end up and that’s in the back of the net. Boom 4-1. Game over, man. Game over. Except even then, he could have had the hat-trick as he steered another just wide. Jensen could have grabbed a second as a shot from distance hit the post and went the wrong side. It was that strong an attacking performance although one matched by our hosts. They never stopped either and on another day, with a different keeper in the way, could well have got three or four themselves.

Smiling assassin Chuba Akpom coming close as did George Saville on a number of occasions. The later in particular crudely exposing himself as somebody who hasn’t been able to progress since his time at Griffin Park and, perhaps, going for the snatched attempt rather than the more patient approach when opportunity presented itself. The again, on this form I think that David Raya would have stopped a juggernaut. 

I’m not sure what else to say about this one, really. The excitement from the players on social media said it all. The genuine pleasure from Thomas Frank, who’d got so wet in the conditions he had to change jackets at half time, a joy to behold in his post match interview.

Twenty games unbeaten in the league a quite incredible run of form and one which only sees our team looking stronger and stronger. Nine points and 14 (seven times 2) goals from our last three games are quite amazing statistics for any team at any level. Norwich City surely looking over their shoulders now. Swansea City the third team in this two way tussle. Yet unlike last season, when our run was just a tad too late in the end, this time around we are moving early. We are destroying all in our path. We’re loving out football. Oh, I can’t wait for Reading on Wednesday. It won’t be easy and we shouldn’t be over confident. Very much a case of ‘each game as it comes’.

Equally though, let’s not deny ourselves the opportunity to enjoy watching this team at their best. To celebrate Brentford at their finest. Saturday at Middlesbrough was all about that. The play-off nightmare long since dissipated into the ether. Carry on like this and we won’t be having it again.

Whose coat was Thomas wearing…….?

Nick Bruzon

Here’s to fifty saves in grey and a bit of history being made.

5 Jan

Well this is all a bit weird. Talk about finding yourself in illustrious company. Manchester United host Manchester City tomorrow night, with the  winners of that one knowing they’ll be facing a League Cup final at the W place near Ikea against either Brentford or Spurs. Surely it will be Tottenham? Surely? Nobody outside to TW8 gives us Bees a prayer. Yet tonight’s semi-final has all the makings of an absolute classic. A chance to crank out cliché by the bucketload in a David v Goliath clash. A game where Jose Mourinho’s superstar team, with their propensity for an ad-hoc self-destruct, host Thomas Frank’s Championship barnstormers. Brentford now sixteen games unbeaten in all competition and looking like the sort of well run, well rounded side most clubs could only aspire to be. A side only nudged out of the automatic positions at the weekend by the Bristol City symptom-gate affair. Yet with Corona continuing to grab the headlines for all the wrong reasons, if ever there was a time for football to help put a smile back on our faces then it is now.

No word of a lie, last night floored me. Boris bumping his way through the entirely predictable press conference. The usual buzz words coming out (and you thought these pages were littered with repetitive cliché) about collective national efforts but the long and the short of it being no hope of getting out for the next few months. The grim prospects of isolation, paying the bills, keeping the job going and doubling up as a home teacher all we have to look forward to. Freedoms curtailed again after that brief taste of being allowed outside in the autumn. He didn’t even have the decency to cancel Mrs. Brown’s Boys. It’s all a bit soul destroying being honest. 

If only… Instead we had more despair

This should be an exciting day. And it still can be. It still will be. It’s not the place of the players to act as any form of social pillars but, my word, they have an unexpected degree of expectation on them tonight. Not so much to win – you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be all out for that – but to keep morale flying. We’d absolute love to be there with them of course. We’re not even allowed to the pub or our mates’ house to watch it. As Thomas Frank noted in his press conference yesterday, “All players and staff members tested Covid negative before the game. It is maybe more important than ever that football is continuing. For a lot of people, football is a light in the dark that they can cheer on their heroes.

And he’s right. It would be easy to get weighed down in doom and gloom. It’s pitch black and icy cold outside with no real end in sight. I had half an eye on Boris cancelling elite sport, too. I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies. Instead, we are all systems go for this evening. The game is on Sky TV with a 7.45pm kick off The sort of game to attract an audience of unexpected Brentford supporters. Neutrals hoping for an upset and the chance to see whether Jose goes volatile or sporting. Should it happen. If nothing else a case of Manchester united with both sides up there hoping we’ll do it. The easiest option, in theory, for the final.

The big question of course being “Can we?”. The entirely predictable answer being that of course we can. More importantly, will we? Here its not so easy to call. We already know the bookies have Spurs as odds on favourites. They’ll be brutal in their assault. Kane and Son a partnership as balanced as Ant and Dec, Little & Large, Mrs Browns Boys and not laughing. The defence will need to be rock solid – no doubt a case of fifty saves in grey from either David Raya or Luke Daniels. Brentford 6-1 long shots. Yet in my heart of hearts I entirely believe we will do this. Rose tinted? Perhaps. Optimistic? Most definitely? Romantic? It’s what the cup is all about.

A case of fifty saves in grey tonight?

Yet seeing how we’ve developed as a side over the last 12 months. Over this season alone. Over the recent unbeaten streak I’m genuine I my belief that we are the strongest, most consistent team in this division. Much more balanced than last time out. Still smarting about having missed out as we did after doing so incredibly well to even haul ourselves into contention. Yet instead of self-destruction it has has been case of self-belief. Watching the ongoing debacles at FulhamL and West Brom a sore reminder of their own pointlessness in the Premier League. Absolutely they earned their shot but to see them squandering it so badly a painful reminder of where we could have been. 

Kudos to Leeds United. Like Wolves, they have proven that teams can make that step up from the Championship look effortless. Can hold their own against the established teams and the household names. That they will be playing the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham et al on a weekly basis rather than via the fortuitous nature of cup draws. I’m utterly convinced that next season we’ll be there with them. Spurs and Manchester United rather than the Baggies or Cottagers. Tonight marks a huge step on that journey. A chance to see just how well we stack up under the most intense pressure and scrutiny. A chance to beat a fifth Premier League team over the course of this cup run. Most importantly, the chance to make it to a major cup final.

Cripes, I can’t wait for this one. Life outside the front door may feel onerous at present. I’m quite happy to hold up my hands and admit to being amongst those finding things tough. But you can bet come 7.45pm ‘that virus’ will be the last thing on the mind.

We’ll be there in spirit. Bring it on. See you there. Kind of. Instead, here’s to celebrating a winner from Sergi Canos and having a pint together at W….

Can Brentford keep on the “Road to Wembley” ?

Nick Bruzon

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Banging the drum for our Triple J.

25 Nov

Another game unbeaten. Another clean sheet. Another goal for Ivan Toney. Another three points for Thomas Frank’s squad. Brentford left Oakwell on the right end of a 1-0 win over Barnsley on Tuesday. The run now up to six games without defeat whilst conceding a mere two goals over that period. The Bees are sitting within touching distance of the play-off zone – up to eighth in the Championship table ahead of tonight’s fixtures. Then there’s the small matter of the game on Friday night. A televised visit from the Shepherds Bush outfit.

Ivan does it again

The obvious talking point ahead of kick-off was the team announcement. Ghoddos out. Canos out. Janelt and Fosu both starting whilst Ethan Pinnock also made a return. No arguments with any of that although Mads Bech can perhaps count himself unlucky after impressing to date. As noted last time out, the performances against Wycombe and Middlesbrough had been somewhat of a ‘challenge’ to sit through. Defensively sound but stifled creatively. Most of the midfield / attacking force failing to impress and, whilst I still can’t get my head around the vitriol directed towards one player, it was clear some changes were needed.

Change is what we got. The addition of Janelt to the centre of the park adding more solidity. Doing to Barnsley what had been done to us in recent weeks. Good luck Thomas Frank once Christian Norgaard is fit ! With it came the added confidence to push up. Tarique Fosu finally unleashed and having a blinder, too. An early shot from the edge of the box coming close but Jack Walton in nets managed to keep it out. Rico Henry could also count himself unlucky with a similar effort as Brentford went for it from the off before the game settled down.  One smart stop from Raya aside, there was little else to recall. Barnsley barely given a chance to threaten as the Bees waited for what seemed like the inevitable goal. 

It was only a matter of time, suggested Mick Cabble on the Iplayer comms team. Mind you, we’d felt the same against Middlesbrough and Wycombe, only to see them end in those insipid 0-0 draws. This one was different though. The second half began with Marcondes (2019/20’s Canos – we need one every season, it seems) on for Josh Dasilva. All being well that’s nothing more than precautionary. Like Rico, Ethan, David and Ivan he’s been up there in our best and most consistent performers so far. Long may that continue – especially with Friday’s big one approaching.

Brentford pushed up once more (the absence of that chant another reason to abhor the current situation of empty stadia).  Mbeumo came close before who else but Ivan Toney was there to remind us of the way to goal? With just over an hour gone, he rose like a salmon to guide home a Mathias Jensen corner. 1-0. Game on. Pressure off. It really was a precision effort. The technique and the steer all about what made this one. Placement over power as Walton was left with a mountain to climb trying to get even half-way close.

It could have been double almost straight after. Toney charging Walton to force a hurried clearance which fell to Mbeumo via Marcondes. The wideman broke forward, sofas at home already relived of the pressure as we all leapt to our feet in anticipation. Nooo. He fired just high and just wide. It could, probably should, have been two. I can imagine the Twitter meltdown had it been another player 😉 . Instead of cruising over the line we were left hanging on to the thought that one freak moment, one mishap and things would be level. But it wasn’t to be. 

Canos and Forss both made it on to the pitch late, with the former cueing up the later for a chance that – like Mbeumo – the player may well be frustrated about not burying. That’s football. We got the win and the record books will reflect three more points to Brentford. The table does’t lie and we wake up this morning to see the Bees just one win away from third placed Bristol City. Frank out !

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, that’s for sure. I’ve never professed to be an expert when it comes to football but at the same time, it was clear something hasn’t been working. Personally speaking,  I loved the combination of Janelt, Josh and Jensen in the middle and will certainly be banging the drum for our Triple J once again. Probably a little more niche than the BMW or FT Index but if you know you know.

Niche

Of what is probably broader discussion on social media, could Thomas Frank’s rolling of the dice marked Fosu prove to be a key moment in the season? Certainly Tarique took his chance in some style and must be a shoe in for Friday. Only time will tell on the anger term choices but with the games coming non-stop, it won’t be the last change we see. Sergi will be back. So will Saman. Sometimes those selections will be expected. Others, not so. That’s the one thing we have been calling all season – that squad use is going to be pivotal. If for no other reason than the increased substitution ruling has given more flexibility. Yesterday’s game already seeing us make four changes mid-match.

For now, I can’t see any change for Friday. Injury aside. We’ve continued to look solid at the back but despite ‘only’ scoring one goal, it never felt in doubt. There was confidence and attacking intent. A midweek trip to Yorkshire in the cold has all the appeal of sitting down to watch the Mrs Browns Boys Christmas special (warning – it IS coming back. Again. Like cockroaches, I can imagine Mrs. Brown and her cardigan would be the only thing to survive nuclear war). 

However, we rose to the challenge and held firm when it counted. There won’t be any amongst us who wouldn’t have taken a 1-0 had it, somehow, been able to be offered prior to kick off. With Quarter Pound off Rubbish next up, Brentford couldn’t have found a better time to return to winning ways. Now, over to you Peter Gilham. Something about a team talk….

You know it would happen

Nick Bruzon

Ten out of Ten, so far. In a manner of speaking.

5 Nov

Ten games played all round. The table has now ‘taken shape’ . Brentford sit in tenth after Tuesday’s night’s 1-1 draw with Swansea City. A late goal from Andre Ayew denying us all three points. An even later one in injury time from the same player denying the visitors similar. This, after Ayew’s header home was adjudged to have been from an offside position. Elsewhere, Wayne Rooney’s Derby County are in early trouble whilst pacesetters Reading have now made it two defeats on the spin. With play-off contenders Middlesbrough up next before the two week international break ( what break??) the Bees remain well in contention for another promotion push. What have we learned so far though?

As we’ve seen the last few games the injuries are already biting. Squad rotation over the entire season is going to be absolutely key. Not just for Brentford but any team with realistic ambitions to stay afloat in this division, let alone make a run for the Premier league. Mads Bech Sorensesn joined Pontus Jansson on the missing list at centre back. Christian Norgaard is amongst the other big names currently awol thanks to the non-stop run of games our players are being obliged to undertake. Whilst we have squad depth, let’s not pretend that we are better with those players missing. I can’t imagine they will be the last, either.

Being blunt, we were lucky as on Tuesday night. Swansea City will probably feel hard done by following a game in which who else but Ivan Toney grabbed the opening goal. That’s ten out of ten  for the free scoring front man as he guided home from close range with 36 minutes on the clock. Again eluding his markers for what then seemed the simplest of finishes. Yet in truth it was a goal against the run of play and even having gained the lead, it never felt comfortable. David Raya keeping us alive before and after until, eventually, Ayew restored parity with a quarter hour to go. Even Thomas Frank would admit afterwards that “I don’t think we hit a good level” but the final score is the one that counts and that shows that the visitors failed to stretch their lead at the business end.

Man of the match Raya kept us in this one

Ok, so we were lucky. A lot of players had an off game. No excuses from me. We’ve had long enough to adjust. Ghoddos and Canos in particular below their best as we were looking for some oomph. The plus points being the form of Raya, Rico Henry, Ethan Pinnock and Toney. Not to mention Marcus Forss from the bench.

For me, the revelation of our two front men (Ivan tops the Championship charts with ten goals from ten games) has been the absolute golden bonus of a frustrating season. Frustrating, mainly because we remain locked out of our new home. Watching it all on tv is fine but no substitute for being there. No way to generate proper atmosphere. No way to try and assert any semblance of home ‘advantage. It’s tough for the players, the club, the balance sheet and especially the fans. Much as I love listening to Mark Burridge and Marcus Gayle, what I really want is to be hearing Angry Dad reminding the officials how to do their job. To hear HB cheering as Ivan slams home another goal. To hear Peter Gilham doing it for real on the p.a. system. 

We’re all in the same boat.I have to be thankful that we are quids in from Ollie Watkins’ inevitable departure yet, if anything, the goals are flowing even faster. Not just from Ivan but Marcus, too. We’ve been unlucky (Birmingham City), shot ourselves in the foot (Norwich), ridden our luck (Swansea) and plain awful at times (Stoke and Preston). Yet the wins have also started to come as the team adjust to new surroundings, new colleagues on pitch and a BMW now missing its B and W.

At the back, David Raya is back to his best whilst Rico Henry continues to astound. Ethan Pinnock looking like yet another top draw signing. We saw him grow last season and he has only continued that progress. Get the flanks right and I still think we’ll be ok. Of course, it would be lovely to clone Josh Dasilva in the middle but that’s not how football works. Thomas has the most almighty struggle in having to juggle fit players whilst waiting for the injured to recover.

I’d love to be higher up of course. Who wouldn’t? The table doesn’t lie though and if we are honest with ourselves, tenth place is reflective of our form. Great goals and pleasing wins combined with the challenges of injury and self-inflicted debacle for a team readjusting to new faces and a possible hangover from last season. Yet, more importantly, we are only four points off of second place in the table. Two points outside of the play-off zone.

Besides, look at those others we may have earmarked as promotion contenders when the season began? Wayne Rooney’s Derby County are languishing in the trapdoor zone. Wycombe Wanderers overtook them last night thanks to a last minute own goal at Birmingham City (not from whom you’d think, either) meaning only ‘minus point’ Sheffield Wednesday are below them. Nottingham Forest have had an absolute stinker and are only now starting to find their feet. A mere six points cover the 15 teams from second placed Swansea down. I’d much rather be in that pack than sitting outside of it. The wins and the run will come and, at the least, we know we can rely on goals. Whomever starts up front for Brentford. Get the midfield balance right and we’ll be just fine.

Middlesbrough on Saturday will be absolutely huge. A win for Brentford will see us overtake the fifth placed team as we go into that two week break from league action. Will see us end this part of the season on a high. The injured will at least have that additional chance to regain their fitness in the buffer zone of no further games being missed. Those selected for their country will hopefully come back in one piece. Hopefully.

In short, we’ve been awesome and at times we’ve been awful. The goals are flying in. The injuries are biting. But we remain just outside the promotion pack. The new signings are bedding in and we’ve  overcome the challenge of replacing Ollie Watkins in some style. If we can get the Benrahma piece right then we’ll be just fine. Getting on the players backs won’t help any but that’s part and parcel of football. I just wish we were there to cheer them in person. Maybe in 2021……

Longing for a stadium full of fans rather than empty seats

Nick Bruzon 

Two Tone(y) Ivan keeps on making records.

22 Oct

Up we go. Six games in, three more points and two more goals for Ivan Toney. Brentford left Hillsborough on the right end of a 2-1 away win. A Sheffield Wednesday team with more than a few familiar faces had no answer to a determined Bees side. Barring a brief flurry around their equaliser and a final push in a protracted five minutes of injury time, our hosts were never in it. It’s not often we can say that at this most hoodoo laden of venues but there we go. History counts for naff all. You can only win on the night and that’s what we did in a game that saw Samman Ghoddos and Vitaly Janet make impressive starts for Brentford. Likewise Sergi Canos, Tarique Fosu and especially Mads Bech Sørensen – coming off the bench to replace injured Pontus Jansson.

Official capture our man enjoying another moment !

We can talk about Brentford’s determination. Our solidity. The comfort factor generated by having David Raya back to his best and committed to the Bees between the sticks. Rico Henry once again doing what he does so so well. Yet for all the talk of team effort it is that man Toney who is grabbing all the headlines. Two clear in the penthouse suite of the Championship leading goalscorer hotel. i.e. he’s at the top. Six league games played and 7(seven) goals scored. Six of those coming in the last three games as brace has followed brace has followed brace. Indeed, it may even have been a hat-trick had sweet connection been made with one second half delivery from Sergi. 

It’s a moot point. To have settled in this quickly is nothing short of astounding. The goals are, of course, magnificent but the ground covered and reading of the game just as impressive. His first, based purely on instinct and reaction. On reading the game to anticipate Owls’ goalkeeper Cameron Dawson parrying Henrik Dalsgaard’s rocket shot. Timing his run to perfection, he burst clear on goal to guide it straight back into the net. 1-0 Brentford and less then ten minutes gone.

On we went. Possession dominated. Chances created. This was looking good. Up yours, ‘Frank out’ brigade. Go figure. But being who we are, making it easy is so often not on the list of requirements. Sure enough, our hosts levelled it midway through the first half. Callum Paterson getting through the Bees defence to power over Pontus and steer home a perfect cross from ex-Bee Kadeem Harris. Sheffield Wednesday level. Yet instead of collapsing it was time to step up.

Less than five minutes later and Brentford were back in front. Ivan Toney, again. This time from a Janelt corner and a celebration to match the mood. 2-1 Bees. Thomas Frank buzzing. It could have been more. Perhaps should have. Dalsgaard hit an absolute screamer just over the bar with Dawson rooted to the spot. A relieved man indeed as he could only watch it whistle past. Mathias Jensen found himself clean through but the Wednesday ‘keeper was more than equal to the task.

Still, 2-1 up at half-time is good. Very good. Just as long as you can hold on to the lead. Which is what we did. A substitution riddled second half also saw Mbeumo and Ghoddos makeway aswell as our captain. Thomas had no real comment about the longer term prognosis fro Pontus beyond saying it was hamstring related. The plus point being at least he was able to watch on for the second half. There were more chances for The Bees. Likewise the visitors. Toney might have had a hat-trick. Wednesday may well have levelled it as the pressure built late on. Instead, it ended 2-1 and that’ll do me. Three more points and Brentford now up to 7th. Back to back wins and the trip to Stoke City next. 

Tails will be up but, of course, we now sweat on injuries. Albeit those that came on more than showed their worth to this team. The strength of the squad  being built is more than impressive. Let’s not forget we’ve lost Benrahma, Watkins and Christian Norgaard is out injured. Yet we have more points than this time last season and Toney is scoring for fun.

It’s too early to get overly carried away. The table is still taking shape but I can take heart that Brentford seem to have found their feet. Sheffield Wednesday are no mugs and Barry Bannan, in particular, showed his worth. Moses Odubajo and Jordan Rhodes also there to remind us of our own past. On another night they could easily have picked up a point. At the least. But they didn’t. That’s not how football works. As we were reminded in the season opener at Birmingham. The record books will show three points and an away win – that’s all we can ask for.

Well played Brentford. Hard lines Wednesday. A few days to recharge and then the trip to Stoke City on Saturday afternoon. Pretty sure last season’s fixture was of some significance but the exact circumstances escape me. No doubt the press will be on hand to remind us. That was then. This is now. Keep on looking forward. Keep on looking upwards. The gap to second place is three points. What more incentive could we ask for?

For now, though, a chance to catch out breath for a few days. Ivan Toney won another man-of-the-match award and you could hear what this all meant to him at full time. There was no comparison to Ollie Watkins. Just a player doing his own thing and continuing to rip up the goal scoring charts. All of a sudden the trip to the Potteries isn’t as daunting as it once might have felt.

Bring it on.

Good company

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