Tag Archives: Derby

Here we go. Again. Cup shocks abound and potato skins await.

26 Sep

Could the big one be on? After a Tuesday night run of Carabao Cup shocks that saw Frank Lampard’s Derby County™ beat Manchester United, Burton overcome Burnley and QPR go down at Blackpool (please, stop sniggering) Wednesday night could see the biggest of them all. Is it just possible, if all the stars are aligned and the footballing gods are smiling, that Arsenal could beat Brentford? Stranger things have happened.

One thing’s for sure, if Manchester United came unstuck at home last night then it can happen to anyone. Fair play and hats off to Derby. Their own win over Brentford on Saturday being put all the more into context after a game which saw them go behind, come back and then concede the ultimate sucker punch – a 95thminute equaliser for the hosts after themselves going ahead on 85 – to take the game to a penalty shootout in which they eventually triumphed.

They’re the headlines. Nobody wants to get overly bogged down in pages of Mourinho misery or the family Lampard celebrating. That’s for those two teams to both enjoy. Right now the focus is, of course, on Brentford at Arsenal. Assuming Brentford can get to Arsenal with the Piccadilly line out of commission due to strike action – there goes that easy hop from West to North London.

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Have vodka bottle, will travel. Alternate travel to Highbury & Islington needed tonight

Still, the ghost of Bob Crow shouldn’t get in the way of what promises to be a special night. For Arsenal, a high pressure potato skin against Dean Smith’s hotly tipped Brentford side. Currently three points off the top of the Championship table and playing some quite wonderful football. Manager Unai Emery faced with the quandary of picking the reserves or risking the fitness of his more established names. Don’t forget that they’ve a game against top four Watford and then the excitement of a Europa League trip to FK Qarabag to follow this one.  

For Brentford, nothing to lose and everything to gain. With over 8,000 away tickets sold (and who knows how many more dotted around the stadium) it promises to be a vocal affair. Those stunning brown/orange shirts out in full force and not to mention a few faces from the past in the stands. The team, surely surely captained by Nico Yennaris, with a chance to prove how far they’ve really progressed. To see how worthy of all the praise that has been coming their way they actually are. Saturday’s result wasn’t great, that’s for sure, but if anything it’ll give Dean and his team even more incentive to prove what a blip it was with a chance to get back to winning ways in a consequence free environment.

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The Bees have been head and shoulders above most opponents this season

Excited? Yes. As much as anything it’s a chance for bonus midweek football and a visit to a new stadium. At least, with the Bees. A chance to see if we can carve out a famous victory. Blah, blah. Cliché, cliché. Yet perhaps as much as anything else, an opportunity to erase the painful memory of the anti-football we played at Chelsea in the fourth round of the 2016/17 FA Cup. A 4-0 defeat where we were lucky to get the proverbial nil.

There’s not much more to say, really. We all know the scoop and there’s only so many ways you can dress it up. Yet if tonight didn’t have you salivating already, there’s even more great news to follow. Football’s greatest competition (with all due respect to the Carabao Cup) is back. Saturday’s game at Reading sees the return of none other than….Centre Circle Challenge.

I should be fully focussed on Arsenal. Yet the prospect of seeing two supporters pinging balls from the corner flag to the heart of the meridian line, all soundtracked by Peter Gilham’s deadpan commentary, has me as excited as the trip to The Emirates. Almost. Brentford official has all the details including, most importantly, how you can enter this ultimate of fan participation events on the hallowed turf of Griffin Park.

All that’s to come. For now though, focus on whether we can emulate those famous League Cup nights against the likes of Hull City and Everton. Right down to the mascots…. 

Nick Bruzon

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Rams sting Bees and Leeds slip up as table has almost ‘taken shape’.

23 Sep

Presumably this is why it takes ten games for the table to have formally ‘taken shape’. On Tuesday Brentford were, briefly, top of the Championship and ended the evening in second place behind Leeds United. Fast forward to the next round of games and a 3-1 defeat to Frank Lampard’s Derby County on Saturday saw The Rams overtake a Bees team who slip to 7th(seventh). Game 9 of 2018/19 saw a performance, if that is the word based on feedback from those present, which was somewhat out of character by all accounts. One that when matched with a devastating 15-minute patch from our hosts, put this game well out of sight by half-time with no prospect of a Burton-esque comeback. Yet with perhaps half an eye on our mid-week trip to Arsenal, Birmingham City recording a win (not a typo) at Leeds United means the gap between ourselves and the Elland Road side remains just three points.

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One game away from fully ‘taking shape’, The Bees are a win off the top.

What’s to say? I wasn’t there for this one. Taking HB to football club in the morning was about as close to the action as it was possible to get this weekend. Seeing his elation at going 7-0 up, scant consolation for what followed at Pride Park. Moreso, given that in the excitement of his own celebration his forgot to reference the brackets. Where have I gone wrong? As ever, the likes of Brentford official, the BBC or Beesotted are your place for quality review whilst the highlights are up on Sky, too. You can catch them here.

They don’t show much more beyond the four goals, including Henrik Dalsgaard’s opener with less than a minute on the clock. How different the afternoon looked as though it may turn out at that point. Sadly, Frank Lampard’s Derby County had other ideas and started banging them in for fun. There’s no evidence of what Dean Smith would later describe as “A pathetic decision if I’m honest” that led to the free kick for their third on the half hour. Likewise, you can’t see that their second came from a Brentford corner.

That’s not to say we didn’t get what was coming. When ‘official’ use the terms ‘fully deserved’ and ‘worthy winners’ (something Dean would also agree with) then perhaps one simply has to doff the hat to the opponents. This time. Controlling second half possession, something Dean would also pick up on in the interview you can see below, is all well and good but as official would also note in their match report, ‘The game was won by then’.

As for Dean, he seemed a somewhat dejected character in this interview. Lost for words, almost. That’s not to criticise him. More to note that he is normally so upbeat post-match. Perhaps the stunning start to the campaign has now hit a bit of a bump after two tough performances on the road. The second half at Ipswich midweek immediately followed by a first half at Frank Lampard’s Derby Cou….etc. that has been at odds with how we’ve performed previously. That perhaps, as some were saying last night, Ryan Woods isn’t as easy to replace as we’d all hoped.

Dean seems a bit out of sorts , despite acknowledging deserved winners.

But if it is a bump, then we’ve every chance to get back to winning ways. Two home games follow in the league and I still maintain we’ve played some quite scintilating football this season. Next up in the Championship are Reading at home on Saturday. That’s the all-important ‘game ten’ when, conceivably, we could be at the top of the table once more should results all go our way. Game 11 sees the visit of Birmingham City the following Tuesday. No other words are needed about that one. For now.

Prior to all of that is the trip to Arsenal in the cup on Wednesday. Whomever Dean starts with and regardless of their team selection, rest assured that the Jaffa Cake army will be there in force. The full 8,000 plus have been sold for this one with plenty more still looking for tickets. No doubt we’ll be up for proving ourselves against one of the most famous clubs in the land in a game that is sure to be one typified by attacking football. Although should Nico not win the team vote for Captain there’ll be something seriously rotten in the state of Denmark.

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Here’s hoping Mark Devlin and his crack team have got McVities locked in for this one

Still, all that’s to come. For now we’ve been beaten. Well beaten, seemingly. With Dean admitting that Frank Lampard’s Derby County deserved to win this one, it’s three points dropped in both the real table and the justice league.  

How we go from here over the next ten days is going to be crucial. I know the Arsenal game is the obvious highlight on the calendar that it has been for the last few weeks. Whilst I can only concur with the exuberance and potential that goes with that one, the league is (cliché alert…..) the bread and butter. Personally, I’ve as much riding on that Reading match whilst the subsequent return of Jota, Maxime and Harlee promises to be an occasion that could even be ten times better than mid-week at the Emirates.

One things for sure. These are exciting times to be a Brentford fan. We may have lost yesterday. We may have been beaten by a side who nobody is denying deserved it. We may have dipped below the dizzy heights of our other performances this campaign. And?  We’re three points off the top of the Championship table. Read that last line again. Three points off the top.

Nobody said it would be easy. Not every result is going to go to form or go our way. Just ask Leeds United. Reading the interview with their manager Marcelo Bielsa this morning, he’s the first to admit to tactical errors and has told the media that, “The proposal I chose for this game at the beginning was not the right one,”

That’s football. It happens. What is important is how a team picks itself up off the back of that. Whilst also acknowledging that, sometimes, the opponents are better than you. Nobody has a divine right to be any good, every time.

Brentford have three huge games coming up. I can’t wait to see how we go. Again.

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Next up…..

Nick Bruzon

Lucky pants? Tick. Magic hat? Tick. Clem? Tick. The omens are good.

20 Sep

Easy come. Easy go. Brentford saw that brief flirtation with the ‘automatic’ places in the fledgling Championship table come to a (presumably temporary) end as Middlesbrough beat Bolton 2-0 last night. It was an evening that saw Birmingham City became one of only two teams – see also Ipswich Town – who are yet to win a league game. Hey, I guess at least they’re ten times better at getting draws. Nobody in the division has more than their 6. And back at Griffin Park, today sees a potentially secret weapon heading our way. From, of all teams..…

Middlesbrough may have overtaken us in the table ‪on Wednesday evening‬ c/o George Saville and a late strike from Britt Assombalonga but they are, at least, sending us a gift this morning. A journalistic gift as, it seems, Neal Maupay is to be the subject of an interview from one of our favourite reporters. So not Ian Moose.

Per his Twitter feed during the week, it seems that none other than ever popular Boro’ fan and BBC man Mark Clemmit (Clem, to us) will be at the training ground today. Primarily to catch up with the Championship’s leading scorer ahead of Football Focus but who knows where this one may go?

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Clem lines up a visit to Neal (or Ian Moose)

Long suffering readers may well recall our season long analysis of Clem during his time on the much missed Football League Show back in 2014/15. Specifically the anti-form that seemed to follow him around as part of his roving reporter duties for Manish and team.

Quite simply, there was a theory that whichever club he featured for that weekend’s show would subsequently fail to win. A visit from the popular reporter being the death knell for their team that many supporters believed it to be.

Nobody does superstition like football fans and there was no bigger jinx at the time than Clem. If you could distill the essence of lucky pants, magic hat, prolonged bouts of not shaving and favourite shirt (all much more efficient barometers of potential success than coaching, opposition or fitness) into one potent brew then promptly throw them down the sink, that was Clem. Seemingly.

But was it? Well, we undertook a Clemwatch survey on these pages to see if the ever popular man-with-the-mic was being unfairly maligned or, infact, was a footballing albatross best avoided. A season long analysis followed which saw only 7(seven) victories for teams he featured on that evening’s show. Out of 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford. The Hornets lead with all other results going their way, the title was in their grasp. With the BBC showing 90 minutes, Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished ‪at 1-1‬. The title lost, with the final goal. All under Clem’s watchful eye.

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Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

Then, suddenly, things changed. The Football League show was sadly lost to us and Clem took a back seat. Those quite wonderful reports, finished. Until Football Focus duties reared their head and he picked up the roving reporter’s baton once more. With a difference. This time, his teams started winning. It’s true.

It began the day Brentford won 5-3 at Burton when perhaps something special was in the air. Some sort of football magic that saw The Bees come back from 3-1 down whist elsewhere Clem broke his bad ‘form’. From being the man avoided like the plague (think: trapped in a lift with Ian Moose and only one pie available) his team that day – Bournemouth – won. Now he is being welcomed with open arms. A visit from Clem coincides with a win for your team.

With his presence at Brentford today, I’m betting the mortgage (metaphorically speaking) on The Bees to beat Derby County on Saturday. Moreso, given we’re sure to be in that quite wonderful brown/orange away kit.

Here’s to 3pm when we find out. And perhaps Football Focus at lunchtime….

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Neal is doing it game after game.

Nick Bruzon

The table doesn’t lie and the armchair provides an alternative view. Of sorts.

19 Sep

Ipswich Town 1 Brentford 1. The Bees stay second in the Championship behind Leeds United (themselves 3-0 victors over Preston last night) with a point at Portman Road. It was point that could well have been all three after a dominant first half but, in the end, we were grateful to take the one as our hosts cranked up the pressure in the second period. Indeed, they probably could have won it at the death when Kayden Jackson found himself clean through but fired high and wide.

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A draw on the road sees the Bees stay second

Full credit to those who travelled. This was a tricky/costly journey midweek in a period that has its share of road trips. We’ve Derby County on Saturday and then Arsenal, Wednesday (where the Piccadilly line strike currently scheduled looks like making this a circuitous one).  More telling, last night saw the first real chance for many of us to test the Sky Sports ‘red button’ option, now available for Championship games. With the somewhat dubious allure of Stoke – Swansea on the main screen, here was an opportunity for us to tap into the Bees feed from the comfort of our own armchairs.

Safe to say that, as it stands, this isn’t going to revolutionise football. It is, without doubt, a handy fall back option to have and one I was more than grateful for on a game that there was never any realistic opportunity of travelling for. Yet, perhaps spoiled by big production HD, the low res fuzziness made it hard to identify players whilst the lack of replays was an extreme frustration. The penalty denied Neal Maupay early in the first half a clear example. Moreso given the yellow card he subsequently earned for his trouble. Hmm

It would have been wonderful to see that one again. Likewise, a similar chance afforded to Ipswich just minutes later which the ref also turned down. There was no build up and no analysis at half time – just the TV equivalent of hold music. If anything, it was a slightly better version of the Saturday afternoon internet streams that used to be so prevalent a few season back, albeit with the added benefit of commentary.

That’s not to be ungrateful. Far from it. The picture was still more than watchable whilst it was a game under the belt where I’d otherwise have had no chance of seeing the action unfold. However, as the future of live broadcasting this has a long way to go and there is as much to be said for Billy Reeves and his BBC London crew or of course, where possible, actually being there.  However, when away clubs are going to start charging Leeds United or Sheffield Wednesday level prices for visiting fans, all of a sudden some smudgy-vision may not seem quite so bad. Moreso, if Sky get wise and look to improve the offering…

As for the game itself, this was very much the tale of two halves. The penalty incidents aside, Brentford dominated the first period. Neal Maupay’s header – his 8th goal in 6 games –  was the very least that our performance warranted. The Bees swept forward in waves, really cranking it up after the half hour, and even topped the league ‘as it stood’ when that one hit the back of the net.

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As it stood. Briefly….

It didn’t last. Just five minutes later, Liam Cooper unlocked the door to the Penthouse suite in the Championship table hotel for Leeds United as his own header put them in front against Preston. With both games staying 1-0 at half-time, more of the same was expected. It only came at Elland Road, sadly. Ipswich clearly hadn’t read the script and a couple of changes from manager Paul Hurst saw them looking like the promotion chasing side. Chance followed chance as the dead ball count started to rise. The woodwork was hit and shots were cleared off the line.

With just over a quarter of an hour to go, the inevitable goal arrived for the home team. 1-1 and now a case of hanging on. Moreso, with Neal Maupay replaced – presumably with Saturday in mind. Yet Yoann Barbet still managed to hit the bar with a quite delicious free kick late on before Jackson would spurn the aforementioned opportunity for Town at the denouement.

With Leeds cruising to a 3-0 win, the Bees ended the night in second place. West Brom humping Bristol City 4-2 to overtake their victims in third. Those ‘comedy’ gifs on Twitter not seeming anywhere near as impressive when you are on the wrong end of hiding.

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Nobody is laughing now. Or then, to be fair.

That could all change again tonight as Middlesbrough have their own chance to play catch up at home to Bolton Wanderers. Yet however that goes, nobody can deny what a quite wonderful start to the campaign this has been. The table doesn’t lie and Brentford are currently storming it.

This time last season we had 4 points after 8 games and were languishing in the bottom three. Now, we’re second with 15 points after the same amount played. That’s more than ten times better… We’ve the division’s leading scorer banging them in for fun and the prospect of a Royal visit on Thursday (more to come on that one).      

Chief Executive Mark Devlin summed it up on Twitter at full time, noting: “Could have been out of sight in the 1st half, but in the end the players  had to dig in for a hard earned point. Might have lost that type of game last season. Onto to Derby for another tough challenge Saturday. Thanks to the 453 travelling Bees for your support.”

That seems to be the theme of the campaign to date, though. A game we would probably have lost last season. Now, hard fought draws are being earned. Bully boy teams (we’re talking about you, Aitor Karanka) have been sent home empty handed with tails between their legs. That it has taken this long to drop our first points in red and white tells its own story – and not just that we should have worn brown/orange last night.

Things are good. The retro shirts have started to turn up in the mail, too. The game of size roulette seeing the ball drop in the right square. Thankfully. I’ll keep this one in the back of the wardrobe for now though. Instead, its more of that magnificent away kit for me. With Bob sure to be unpacking the brown for Saturday’s trip to Derby, I’m absolutely convinced we’ll be recording our first notch in the W column when playing away.

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One for the future – sticking to the brown/orange for now

Nick Bruzon    

The three-five players our club can’t afford not to not sign/let go. Farewell John Egan. And Flo?

20 Jul

Welcome back to Championship life, Brentford fans. You can now ignore the weeks of clickbait as things have actually happened. With The Bees already accepting a bid for Florian Jozefzoon (Leeds United thought to be the original target but Derby County now in the box seat to complete that one) it was John Egan who was the first to leave Griffin Park yesterday. Sheffield United splashing out their record transfer fee (£4million is the word on the street) to take our captain up to Bramall Lane where he will line up in a defence featuring fellow ex-Bees Jack O’Connell and Simon Moore. Yet unlike last season’s summer sale (© the Middlesex Chronicle big book of 80’s alliteration) to Birmingham City, this feels totally different.

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The words of Sheffield United about John Egan

Four. Million. Pounds. Wow! Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has been quoted on the BBC as saying ,”We see him as a leader and he is worthy of the fee we’ve paid for him, in my opinion he is a better player than a couple of those who have already moved for bigger fees this summer”

Meanwhile, over on Brentford official I had images of Phil Giles being handed a hessian sack, over-flowing with bills and a dollar sign stenciled on the front. His take on it was a simple one – they offered what we wanted and so the club accepted. Noting specficially that, “We were happy to complete the transfer once our valuation had been met for a player who has done very well for us and who was our captain last season. The remaining group of centre backs are young but hugely talented so it will remain to be seen whether we need to replace John directly over the final weeks of the transfer window”.

You can read that one in full, here.

It marks a stark contrast to his approach when pressed on the Birmingham City transfers back in September. When last season’s summer window closed with ‘that’ 11th hour triple move to St. Andrews  his explanation was slightly different as to why it had happened in that fashion. Eleven months ago  – it had always been the plan to buy over the summer and sell just prior to the window closing. “Strategically it’s the ideal way to do it. Sell them late and buy them early.”

Now, with John gone to the Blades and Flo seemingly also out the door to Derby County, we’re doing business early. Likewise, let’s not forget that fellow centre back Andreas Bjelland has also departed after declining our new offer when his contract expired.

Am I upset? Yes, but no. On a personal note, John was always massively popular in our house. He visited Harry at Halloween and took great care of him when he was fortunate enough to be mascot last season (leading the team out rather than dressed up as Buzzette).  It will be sad to see such a likeable individual and talented player leave. Four million speaks volumes about his quality. Let’s not forget, either, that aswell as being Captain he is also a full international.

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Thank you, John. From HB (and dad)

Yet the reaction on social media seemed to be one of universal agreement – with that much money on the table, for a player who has given great service and that we picked up when his own contract had expired, this was great business. It is a view I absolutely concur with and as much because it really gives Chris Mepham a chance to make a huge name for himself this season. Whether alongside Yoann, Mads or new boy Ezri Konsa.

If nothing else, what must that say about his (Meps’) valuation? Eddie Howe has been well, well out of his depth if this is what our players are going for. As long as the first team stay fit  (and at Griffin Park) then this has the makings of a great defence.

Let’s just hope Dean doesn’t make Chris captain, though. Or Woodsy!  Jonathan Burchill (@Jonathan77777) on Twitter has done his own analysis and come up with the following gem:

Kevin O’Connor retired at end of 2013-14 promotion season. Since then every @BrentfordFC captain has left the club within 12 months of taking the armband:

14-15 Craig (& Douglas, who was capt more often that season)

15-16 Bidwell

16-17 Dean

17-18 Egan

Interesting stat, Jonathan. My own immediate question would be whether this mean Nico Yennaris and Josh McEachran, who stepped in as captain last time out, could be also be leaving before Rotherham visit?

Alfie Mawson to Barnsley (currently Swansea). Jack O’Connell and now John Egan. Both Sheffield United. Harlee to Birm… ok, maybe not that last one. Yet the list of quality centre backs that have left in recent years but will line up against us this season for famous clubs is one that is growing. You could also chuck in the likes of Andreas, Tony Craig and number 26 to that mix of quality, albeit their paths now lie elsewhere. It says how blessed we have been in this positon. How well we have continued to recruit.

The obvious question is, who next? Whether in or out. With Flo seemingly as good as gone, that’s two that have departed. The likes of Meps, Ryan Woods, Ollie Watkins and Daniel Bentley are amongst the other big names whom fans are, understandably, sweating on. Will these two sales have been sufficient to staunch the flow of departures? Are they enough to counterbalance inward movement that has seen Said Benrahama and Ezri already joining Dean Smith’s exciting young squad.

We’ve still a while to go until the transfer window slams shut. I’m sure this won’t be the last of it. This is Brentford. We are now well used to how things happen. Heroes leaving when valuations are met. Unknowns and young potential joining who then go on to become the next big thing. I’ve promised myself I won’t get upset this season. That we’ll really show some faith in what the club are doing. Four top ten Championship finishes in a row show they know an awful lot more than me about football, that’s for sure.

At the same time, keeping this squad together will only be seen as an immediate good thing. A chance for us to really build and make a push for that top six. Could we even strengthen further? Who knows? One step at a time.

For now, it is a case of thank you, farewell and good luck to John. And don’t even think about scoring against us. Please ! 

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That’s about as official as it gets

Nick Bruzon

Who will lose it at the bottom? Can the Bees make it another top ten success?

6 May

Well here we are. One final round of games awaits in the Championship. Brentford entertain Hull City AFC, knowing a win could take us as high as 7(seven)th in the final table. We already know we’ve a trip to Stoke City next season and a possible return to The Valley, if Charlton can do the needful in the League One play-offs. Yet it is at the bottom of the table where the longer term situation is perhaps more interesting. Birmingham City v Fulham is THE big one in the division today and is sure to have Bees’ fans split as to who they’d like to come away with the win. Along with the Blues, the final two relegation spots are predominantly in the hands of Burton, Bolton and Barnsley. And all this is before we get to the end of season ‘player of the year’ dinner and awards. Plus some nonsense on pitch at half time – I really wouldn’t be looking there. Move along; nothing to see.

First up, the visit of Hull. A club, like Wolves, I’ve developed a long standing and unexpected admiration for over the years. Standing up to crackpot owner? Tick. Some of the best kits ever? Tick. Correct use of AFC in their name? Tick. That said, not sure if I can forgive them for Nick Proschwitz but, hey, you can’t have everything.

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Great kits. Great principals

With the sun (and shorts) out, it promises to be a great day. At the time of writing (6.59am) the sky in TW8 is a wonderful clear blue and things are already warming up. The bank holiday awaits and it’s our last time all together for a couple of months. This really promises to be special. Even if we are left wondering whether this is the last time we see some of our heroes in action. Listening to the Beesotted podcast the other day I am curious as to whether it will be a case of farewell Ryan Woods, Andreas Bjelland and Josh McEachran – amongst other potential departures.

Whilst that is a column for another day, it’s mentioned more as a chance to really appreciate these great players. I’m desperate to see the likes of Woodsy and the World Cup’s Andreas back next season of course. Who wouldn’t? By the same virtue I’m also a realist as to how we operate. The last few seasons have taught us that. With the likes of Chris Mepham fast tracking up the football ladder at a rate of knots, the future is still looking good.

We digress. Plus ça change. The club have surprised us at just about every step of the way over the last few seasons. I can’t call what’s going to happen today, let alone further down the track. Let’s just focus on the here and now. Dean Smith wants to finish on a high. As do the fans. I can’t see much change from the side which went down at Barnsley last weekend. If only because it was so out of sorts relative to the last few months that the players themselves will be desperate to prove a point and end with three. Hull City AFC are clear of the relegation pack so can also play pressure free. This could, and should, be a good one. Get those calculators out and prepare to start tracking the goals.

At the bottom, I’m calling Burton and Birmingham City to go down. Blues fans, if you somehow see this then don’t cry. Don’t take it as some personal dig. Whatever some commentators to these pages think, I don’t ‘hate’ your club. Likewise, any perceived negativity is not down to the triple transfer swoop over the summer although, undoubtedly, it has added to a rich tapestry that has been woven over the last 26 years.

That said, Harlee Dean’s ‘ten times better’ comments are most definitely a long term dish that I would take great pleasure in serving up cold at 3pm. If you want to know why there’s such an interest in goings on at St.Andrews, then click here. You probably won’t care. That’s football and I’m not looking for any sympathy after a season spent doing battle with brave keyboard warriors, frustated by their own team’s inadequacy and looking to lash out.

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He said it….. Not me.

Yet given the hand that the fixture list has dealt today, I can’t look beyond League One for The Blues next season. If I’m wrong then will happily hold up my hands tomorrow. Likewise, I’d be genuinely happy if Birmingham do stay up – if only for another chance at six points next season. Ba-doom, Tish !

But I can’t see anything beyond a Fulham win at St. Andrew today. Words which are as distasteful to me as saying Happy Star Wars Day – May the fourth be with you.

With Preston chasing the play-offs, surely that one is a step too far for visitors Burton Albion despite their own impressive run of form in recent weeks. Sadly for Nigel Clough and his team their current streak of WWW is looking like it will be too little, too late. Even though pressure can do funny things, surely that one has to go down as ‘home win’ in the race for the final play-off spot? Doesn’t it…?

Barnsley travel to Derby County today. Derby County, a team who have mastered the art of ‘the choke’ . Who could forget that infamous play-off final against the Loftus road mob? What about the time we reached the Championship play-offs under Mark Warburton. All they needed was a point at home to an impotent Reading side yet somehow self-destructed and went down 3-0. With Barnsley fighting for their lives, that’s where I’m calling the shock (now watch it happen at Preston).

Which takes us to Bolton. Home to Nottingham Forest. Should they win, that takes them level on points with Birmingham. But they need to win well and that’s a BIG ask. The goal difference gap still sees them four behind the Blues yet they are the division’s second lowest scorers having managed just 36 all campaign. The only side having fared worse with the worse in the ‘F’ column being Birmingham who currently have a paltry 35. Compared to our own 61 or the 82 of Champions Wolves, it’s no surprise they both find themselves in such big trouble.

So the heart is ruling the head, here, but with Fulham having to win to have any chance of ‘automatic’ I’m calling four goals as a gap that can be reeled in for Bolton. Even if they need another club to do most of the legwork.

But before you go putting the mortgage on any of this then please bear in mind two things….

Firstly, I’ve not even mentioned Reading. They aren’t safe yet and travel to a Cardiff side that, like Fulham, are also chasing the other promotion slot. Secondly, my predictive skills are notoriously woeful. I’ve called Birmingham and Burton to go down but there’s as much chance of it being Bolton and Reading. Pressure can do strange things.

Instead, I’ll be at Griffin Park cheering on the Bees. Albeit with half a near on the terrace trannie. Purely out of curiosity….

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The BBC table shows just how tight things remain at the bottom

Nick Bruzon

Barnsley deliver a hammer blow as relegation trapdoor still beckons for the other B’s…

29 Apr

Sunday morning and it all feels a bit ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show.’ Not in the same crushing style as the punch to the gut that is an actual play-off defeat or a penalty hitting a crossbar (apparently it happened once, five years ago, but nobody ever mentions that). Yet at the same time, Brentford offered a tantalising glimpse of what might have been before going down 2-0 to a Barnsley team who benefited from what head coach Dean Smith would describe as ‘A spawny goal’ to open proceedings. With Aston Villa and Derby County drawing one apiece, had we been able to turn this one into a victory then The Bees would still been alongside them in the promotion race heading into the final round of Championship matches. Alas, it was not to be and instead we’ll have to content ourselves with aiming for what would still be a staggering 7(seven)th placed finish and the choke off to see who drops into League One – Birmingham City, Burton, Barnsley or Bolton.

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Spawny? Or did he really mean to sneak inside the back stick from there ?

That’s not to be downbeat. Genuinely. That the team had even hauled themselves into this position following a ‘mixed’ start to the campaign is something that should be celebrated. Four points from eight games saw us not so much flirting with relegation as taking her out on a first date although fortunately she would go on to spurn our advances. The triple transfer departure, and moreso the last day style in which it happened, was hardly great for morale either. I’m the first to hold my hands up on that one. Yet soon after, magic started to happen.

The win at Bolton in late September was followed by a run that saw us fail to pick up points in only one more game over the rest of the calendar year. That being the defeat at Cardiff City which led to Ian Moose demonstrating how to make friends and influence people at Griffin Park. Despite the odd hiccup / low par performance along the way, Dean Smith and his team have kept themselves going to make this one of the most exciting seasons on record. Three points yesterday would have kept it alive for another 90 minutes (at least). Yet to come even this close is something we should be applauding. I’m sure over time we all will.

The trick now is, as with every season, how we build on this. Can we keep the squad together? Will new contracts be signed or will the likes of Ollie Watkins, Ryan Woods, Alan Judge, Chris Mepham and Daniel Bentley be on the shopping lists of those fat cats in the Premier League? Or even the Championship. Without a doubt money talks but sometimes, sitting tight can be better for your career. Just look at the Birmingham City three. Ten times better – at going down. The talk about Woodsy joining Sunderland seems almost laughable now when you see how they have fared, too.

Who’d be a club owner? Moreso with a new stadium now well under construction. No doubt there’ll be decision made which surprise us. Decisions made which shock us. That’s all to come though. For now, we’ve still one more game with the visit of Hull City next Sunday. Still one more round of Championship fixtures to see if Harlee Dean’s decision making off the pitch is proven to be as suspect as some of those choices he made on it this time around. After that much trumpeted move, there is a very real chance of the Blues actually going down. Albeit my head says they are safe, despite what the heart thinks.

Their relegation rivals have equally tough games. On paper. Burton are at Preston. Barnsley go to Derby (although we do know how County love a final day choke) whilst Bolton entertain Nottingham Forest. At least The Trotters have home advantage but they are also reliant on having to increase their goal difference.

As we saw yesterday (and the highlights are now available on Sky’s internet site), the biggest of requirements can lead to the most spirited of performances. Hats off to Barnsley. We wanted it. We needed it. But so did they. And perhaps ten times as much. Brentford were fighting for an unexpected bonus. Let’s not forget that we haven’t actually been in the play-off zone at any point this campaign. Brentford were fighting amongst themselves, going by Dan Bentley’s reaction after the second goal went in – understandable having watched this on the highlights. But The Tykes were fighting for their lives. This really was a case of do or die. Whilst it may not have been the prettiest, the hosts did what they had to. And that takes guts.

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Dan and Henrik discuss the second goal

With Burton making it three wins in a row, next Sunday may not be as cut and dried as people think. Of course I’ll be at Brentford v Hull City. Of course I’ll be desperate for three more points to lock in a fourth, successive top ten finish at this level. But I’d be a liar if I was to pretend that there won’t also be an ear on my terrace trannie. Keeping abreast of other results and just what they’ll mean at about twenty past two next Sunday

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Will Brentford keep going? Can Aston Villa do us a favour? Saturday is HUGE!

27 Apr

Two games to go and this is still wide open. With the fixtures falling as kindly as one could have hoped for, Brentford travel to relegation threatened Barnsley on Saturday knowing that with two games to go we are three points off Derby County in sixth place. The same Derby County who head up to an Aston Villa side still looking at a slim chance of ‘automatic’ promotion to the Premier league. It is a chance that, much like our own play-off dream, will require three points on Saturday to keep it alive. Cardiff City may have dealt a blow to our own promotion ambitions on Tuesday night as they went down 3-1 to the Rams yet, at the same time, have given us a back door bonus by really handing Villa that incentive to try and catch them.

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I’ve always loved Aston Villa (eh, Simon ?)

Elsewhere, fifth placed Middlesbrough (four points ahead of Brentford) take on 7th placed Millwall (one ahead). That’s an evening game and by the time it comes around, our own game will of course have played out. Will it prove of supreme relevance or be a statistical anomaly by that juncture?

Realistically, three points for Brentford up at Oakwell are an absolute must. Any other result will leave us relying on a combination of mathematics and good fortune even more convoluted than the table already looks.  Barnsley have to go for it, too. Any permutation beyond home win will leave them all but down and needing both Bolton and Birmingham City to self-destruct. In itself, not an improbable combination based on the season’s results to date.

As ever, though, outside distractions really are that. Distractions. By virtue of the teams playing each other, something will go our way at some point. The worst combination of results being victories for Millwall and Derby. The best, home wins for Aston Villa and Middlesbrough. Both, more than feasible. Then again, I fancied Cardiff City to do it on Tuesday. One up at half time and in control, you have to tip your hat to a Derby County team that, aided by some suicidal defending, produced a devastating second half performance to break their three game losing streak.

Trying to call anything this weekend is a fool’s errand. As much as anything else, pressure and necessity will cause some teams to collapse like a house of cards. Others will rise to the occasion. The prospect of glory an adrenaline boost to the arm that sees them (and all being well us) surge towards those all critical three points.

Brentford were magnificent against Fulham. To the very end of the game where Neal Maupay produced one of THE moments. Likewise, for huge patches of the game against QPR where, but for Mr. Madley, the victory would have been a much more comfortable one. Then again, perhaps he has also done us an unintentional favour. What a way for a team to have to test themselves in the toughest of circumstances. 11 v 14 is never easy. Moreso, when the 14 were flying in with horror challenges, studs up, yet facing no real danger of card based justice.  

We know we have the ability to win this one. To beat anybody on our day. Only 3pm on Saturday will dictate how well we can meet that challenge. How much resistance Barnsley can provide or whether they are dead men walking. Either way,  I can’t wait for this one !!

Elsewhere, did you read Mark Devlin’s programme column in the QPR edition of BEES? Talk about putting his views on the line in a wonderful article about Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and, more importantly, her decision in regards to the Safe Standing application made by West Bromwich Albion.

With ‘Safe Standing’ a clearly stated and supported desire of The Bees, he was pulling no punches with comments that included:  “I fear that politicians will once more put their prejudice and fears ahead of what is needed and wanted by the football community” and “I was even more shocked that she appeared to claim there was insufficient demand or interest from clubs, fans and leagues”  

Well said Mark. How refreshing to see any Chief Executive standing up to be counted in such clear and uncertain terms. That’s Brentford, though. Trailblazers again.

The good news being that a public petition has now topped the 100,000 votes required for parliament to consider it for debate. Albeit, this still remains open and there is time to add your voice to the list on a matter that will potentially have a direct impact on Brentford, given the current construction of Lionel Road. The link to that one is here. Thirty seconds that could impact your club if you can make the time to sign.

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Lionel Road . I’ve not seen a hole this big since the Birmingham City defence turned up

Next up, football stickers. I’ve banged on a bit in the last few weeks about the World Cup 2018 album. Primarily, my son Harry’s rapidly developing interest in this most traditional of football related activities. For reasons unnkown the mere mention of the name’ Lucas Biglia’ (Argentina) has him in stitches whilst Spain and Iceland are his favourites. Not because of the countries but the kits – no idea where he gets that from.

So imagine my surprise just coming in from work on Wednesday to hear he had been presented with what Mrs Bruzon described as ‘a two inch wad of swaps’ (although, personally, I’d say it looked more like seven) by a mystery benefactor from the Bramear Road stand. 

I say ‘mystery’. I wasn’t with them at the time and so all we know is that she sits near us at Griffin Park and the one-sided exchange took place by St. Paul’s Park. If this was you – THANK YOU. I have a suspicion who it may be and will be donning the Columbo mac at the Hull City game.

Yet this is mentioned as much to say, yet again, how truly wonderful the Brentford FC family are. For a fellow fan to go out of their way to do this for a young supporter they’ve never spoken to before really made me feel proud. Thank you. Again.   

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The amazing pile of swaps

Finally, congratulations to my good friends (No, I’m not going all Ian Moose) at Beesotted. Their Pride of West London podcast has now made the final shortlist for the Football Blogging Awards. What an honour it would be for them to win this.

As noted before, we all know what a great job they do and just how entertaining Billy (Grant) and the team are. Likewise, how many painful train journies have been made ten times better by listening to them opine on all things Brentford. And beyond.

Please. Help give them the recognition they deserve in the Best Football Podcast category and vote Beesotted at the FBAS

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Nick Bruzon

Tonight is huge (again)….but not necessarily at Anfield.

24 Apr

Something, something, something, royal baby. Blah, blah, blah, Liverpool getting a semi. Those glory, glory European Anfield nights. Some perspective people, please. There are much more important matters afoot. Hey, Brentford aren’t even playing tonight and will have to be content with gorging on the memory of Saturday’s derby day victory over QPR combined with looking forward to the weekend trip to Barnsley. Yet if ever there was a case of ‘other results’ being of critical importance to The Bees then Tuesday night is that time as Derby County host Cardiff City and Nottingham Forest are home to Barnsley.

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Sergi and Romaine amongst the architects of QPR’s doom on Saturday

We all know the current position in the Championship table. Middlesbrough in fifth, are on 72 points. That’s four ahead of Brentford and the aforementioned Rams on 68. Yet sixth placed Millwall have 69. I’m no Stephen Fry but even yours truly has sufficient mental acumen to know that’s a gap of one point. One. Point. With two games left to reel it in.

Yet, as ever, there is a potential fly in the ointment. Derby County do have that game in hand. And they play it tonight. Against Cardiff City. Victory will stretch the gap to an, albeit still catchable, three points. Cardiff, on the flip side, know that a win will give them a monumental advantage in the race with Fulham for an automatic promotion slot. Success will see them four points clear in second place with just two games to go.

This is huge. You couldn’t make up a game of this consequence. West London will be split down the middle tonight with Brentford no doubt hoping for a Cardiff win whilst Fulham fans will be mildly waving their clappers in support of Derby. Even QPR supporters will be praying for…. actually, they won’t as they’re long dead in the water.

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Cardiff win tonight and I’ll even forgive them the hashtags

But if this one has impact on Brentford, then our attention is going to be split on two fronts. There’s also the game at Nottingham Forest where defeat for Barnsley will massively increase their chances of relegation. A win will see them leapfrog fourth bottom Bolton Wanderers and have the added benefit of dragging Birmingham City back into things. The Blues own safety net of five points will be a lot squeakier if that becomes three, once the remaining games level out.

Honestly, I’m not sure which result will be best for us here. No doubt Dean Smith would tell Brentford fans just to worry about ourselves. Yet with The Bees going to Oakwell on Saturday, do we want them with destiny back in their own hands and safer, or with that potentially demoralising punch to the gut having been administered by Nottingham Forest? In themselves, a team who have won just a single game out of the last nine, losing the other eight and managing just three goals in the process.

Is it better for us to go into Saturday’s game with Barnsley’s safety all but a mathematical miracle, potentially even hoping that Birmingham City could administer a mid-afternoon psychological blow to our opponents? Or is being the architects of their own survival a better option? Something that would then also see us in the utterly distasteful position of hoping for QPR success on Saturday, with the Blues heading to Loftus Road.

Sadly, having seen the ineptitude of the hapless hoops on Saturday I now have to declare Birmingham City safe. That hurts. But all good things come to an end. Bolton travel to fellow relegation candidates Burton on Saturday and then host goal shy Forest as the season reaches an intriguing denouement. I’m not even going to get close to calling those.

Instead, it really is a case of whatever happens tonight at the City Ground happens. Any result is both good and bad for us. It WILL have an impact but only Saturday at 3pm will tell what that is. Instead, the game of absolute importance will be the one at Pride Park.

I remember back in 1995/96, listening to BBC Radio 5 ( I think, sure the sport had moved on from Radio 2 by then) and Birmingham City v Bradford. It was the season that only one side went up and the Blues only needed two points to guarantee the league title from second placed Brentford. Their 0-0 with Bradford City was one of the most painful bits of self-inflicted torture I’ve ever sat through.  It was rewarded, briefly, the following weekend as The Bees were doing the needful at Bristol Rovers whilst Huddersfield Town took the lead against City. Sadly, results didn’t hold and we ended up in the play-offs. What I wouldn’t pay for that conclusion this time around…

So choose what you do tonight carefully. That Liverpool – Roma Champions League tie is, undoubtedly, a huge occasion. The Reds have a magnificent record in Europe that we can’t get close to. Yet. And if nothing else, the chance to play ‘Liverpool in Europe’ bingo is always a wonderful one.

But for me (Clive) it’ll a case of eschewing Anfield and BT Sport where, whatever happens, it will only be half time. At full time.  Instead, I’ll be glued to Sky Sports and the game from Derby. The prize at the end of that one could be of infinitely more importance in this little corner of West London…

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Liverpool bingo – celebrating both history and cliche

Nick Bruzon

It’s all about London football. And stickers.

20 Apr

Ruddy Hell, it’s Soft Cell”. Not my words but those of pundit stroke DJ, Alan Partridge. Whilst we may not be in the ball park of Norfolk based local radio, the excitement levels are reaching similar heights. Championship football in London is stunning at present. Our own Brentford are on the verge of the play offs with three games left to reel in four points. Millwall are in that zone as things stand. Friday night sees them take on a Fulham team looking to bounce back from last weekend’s devastating denouement and retake an ‘automatic’ position. Then there’s QPR. Languishing in 15th. Oh well. As Meatloaf almost sang, “Three out of four ain’t bad”.

Cliche alert: This weekend’s action promises to be hotter than the current climate. A seasonal sizzler of a fixture list that sees Brentford at home in a second, successive West London derby. This time QPR are the visitors. Quarter Pound of Rubbish as even a friend who’s an Arsenal fan referred to them today.

Childish? Yes. Of course. But it put a smile on my face to know that a schoolyard term from my own childhood in the seventies is still doing the rounds, some forty years later.

We digress though. Last weekend at Fulham showed just how exciting football can get. What a moment from Neal Maupay to wrap up a deserved point. Indeed, I’m still not sure how we missed out on all three in that one. But for the referee. And if you’d like to read more… the matchday programme, BEES, has the considered thought on that fame. And also those blinkin’ clappers.

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BEES – worth it just for the cover alone

Frankly, the visit of QPR couldn’t come at a better time. Not because of their poor placing and form. Not because of rent-a-quote manager Ian Holloway. Not because of their absent players. And not because of our play-off dreams. Quite the opposite. The last thing we need is that playing on our minds. Just look at Derby County who are now entering their traditional ‘choke’ period.

Instead, it is the perfect opportunity to continue some wonderful runs of form. Both in the league and against our visitors from Loftus Road. Indeed, the mauling administered at Griffin Park last season was about as good as it got. A brutal demolition that, if you are looking for an appropriate analogy, would have been stopped within a few rounds had it been a boxing match. The hapless hoops sent back to their corner and Buzzette’s arm raised proudly into the sky by the referee.

We don’t need to think about the chance of ghosting into the top six when there is local pride to play for. And with no respect to Fulham, it’s all about Brentford and QPR when it comes to being kings of West London Championship football. Winning this one is the absolute priority for the weekend. Kings of West London. Kings of the 237 derby. Proving Holloway wrong. Again. Anything table related will be a consequential bonus. Other results going our way something that I’ll happily take, once our own dust has settled. Hey, I don’t even know who Birminghan City are losing to this weekend – that’s how fixed I am on this one.

We all know what it means. What the history is. What chance you have of getting a ticket (slim to none, although do try – just in case). There’s not much I can add, suffice to say that there won’t be much sleep in our house tonight. And not because of the heat. Simply put, I can’t wait for this one.

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Results at home to QPR have been wonderful in recent seasons

That said, I would crave your indulgence for two bits of extra-curricular activity. Firstly, if anybody has any Panini World Cup swaps then I will be outside The Hive at half time with a very excited four year old son. Definitely he will definitely be looking to help fill in what is definitely his World Cup sticker book. If anyone can help out or is looking for Antoine Greizmann (amongst others), then that’ll be the time and place.

Secondly, Beesotted. Their quite wonderful ‘Pride of West London’ podcast is up for Listener’s choice at the British Podcast Awards. I’ve no doubt Dave, Billy and the rest of the team would appreciate your vote. Certainly, anyone who has listened to this before will know they absolutely deserve it. You can find the link here.

For now though, it’s all about 3pm on Saturday. See you there (with stickers).

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Nick Bruzon