Tag Archives: Dijkhuizen

Will we slip on another potato skin or dodge that lower league bullet ?

8 Aug

It seems like only five minutes ago that Brentford performed those League cup heroics against Hull City and Everton, before narrowly missing out on Round 5 via a last minute equaliser and penalties against Birmingham City at St. Andrews. Infact, it was 2010 and The Bees first XI included the likes of Mickey Spillane, Craig Woodman and Pim Balkestein. Whilst the squad has evolved from that small League One group it would be fair to say that our record in the competition hasn’t been a great one since then. Could Tuesday night’s game in Kingston against AFC Wimbledon see us get back to winning ways?

The wins over higher division Hull and Everton were wonderful occasions, no question. The latter in particular seeing a practically full strength Premier League team beaten by a never say die Brentford XI. Gary Alexander scored the equaliser and Charlie MacDonald even had the luxury of seeing a penalty saved before the eventual spot kick triumph. Richard Lee the man on form then.

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Gary Alexander does his thing against Everton. 1-1

Now, we are the team to be shot down. A high performing Championship club travelling to an AFC Wimbledon side whose own ascension through the divisions and struggle to find a home has been a story in itself. Yet the game presents a huge potato skin for a Brentford side that is sure to be changed one from that which lost out to Sheffield United on Saturday.

The last time we won a League Cup tie Montell Moore and Nick Proschwitz (not a typo) were amongst the scorers in that defence shredding 6-6 at Dagenham and Redbridge. Kevin O’Conor played what was, if I am correct, his last ever game for the Bees – scoring what proved to be the decisive spot kick in the subsequent shoot out.

Since then the wheels have come off somewhat. We lost at Griffin Park to Fulham. At the time, something of a rarity for the Cottagers whom we would go on to take 10 points out of 12 from over the course of the following four league games. Didn’t Jota do something in the last minute, too?

Then there was the humiliation handed out by Oxford United at home as the Marinus experiment came crashing down to earth with a bump. Regular readers may be aware this gets mentioned a lot but it is important to never forget how bad that was. The team he selected was one which, long term, had a few players who are now regular (Nico, Lasse, Andreas) but at the time was an untested mixture of youth and new faces. 3-0 down in 12 minutes, that we only lost 4-0 was the main miracle of the night.

It was the consummate example of the flawed logic in both wholesale, untested change and woeful man management. Never forget.

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The Oxford United fiasco  / Marinus experiment (neither being prog rock bands)

Then last season it was the turn of Exeter City to dump us out in the first round. Despite Harlee Dean, John Egan, Josh Clarke and Sam Saunders amongst those picked, Brentford struggled to a 0-0 before Ryan Hartley got an extra time winner for the Grecians.

And now is the time to go again. I can only expect more change tonight but this time I fear for Wimbledon. Harlee is available after suspension.Yoann Barbet was benched on Saturday. Likewise Maxime Colin. Expect the pace of Josh Clarke down the flank and surely starts for Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins. I’d imagine Flo Jo will begin on the left with with a very strong bench, just in case.

As the higher placed team we’re there to be shot down, just as Everton and Hull were all those years ago. That’s one of the privileges of being a Championship side and, sadly, a bullet we’ve taken more than once in recent years.

Will this time around be any different? A full house of Bees fans will be there to roar us on with only 200 tickets remaining on the gate. Watch out for the traffic delays though and get there early.

See you there. Until then, here’s one of the highlights from the Everton game. When our mascot was told to keep holding the hand of his young counterpart, he took that instruction quite literally.

 

Nothing puts Peter Gilham off his stride

Nick Bruzon

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Romaine and Sergi lead a full frontal assault as Bees do it to Leeds, again.

4 Apr

Another game, another 2-0 win for Brentford. This time Leeds United taking the place of Saturday’s Bristol City. It was a game that started in similar style to the visit from the Robins although one which, if anything, put one more in mind of the home encounter with fellow high flying visitors Brighton. As with the Seagulls, Brentford took a two goal first half lead but, this time, there was to be no reprieve for the promotion chasing side.

Poor Leeds United. Their form against Brentford hasn’t been great in recent years. The eight League games since the 2009/10 League One campaign have seen things go very much in our favour.

This one was no different and now sees us well ahead of our illustrious rivals with a record that reads : P8 W3 D4 L1 in favour of the Bees. Indeed, looking purely at the Championship, this was a third win from our six games. Not bad for a team considered ‘tin pot’ when paths first crossed. Even Marinus Dijkhuizen took a point from Elland Road last season (not a typo).

But Tuesday night felt additionally special. The table doesn’t lie and Leeds, spearheaded by the goalscoring prowess of Chris Wood, have been one of the Championship’s form sides as they’ve locked down that play-off place. So to see Brentford take them apart so clinically in that first half was a thing of beauty to watch unfold.

Sergio Canos was devastating down the left flank whilst Romaine Sawyers magnificent as Brentford came flying out of the traps in a full frontal assault on the Leeds back line. Despite the heroics of Rob Green, Brentford scored two deserved goals in the first half with Canos having a hand in both. The first seeing his shot parried out to Romaine Sawyers who had no right to shoot, let alone score, from that wide out across the face of goal. Sometimes, its all about the precision.

The second came from another Canos shot. This time falling kindly for Lasse Vibe who made no mistake after having seen an earlier chance drift agonisingly wide.

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View for the Braemar: We’ve got that Vibe (I know, I know)

Yet at 2-0 up and having dominated, the big question was whether Dean’s team would cruise home, go for broke or give us one of those half and half performances we’ve seen from time to time. Then, of course, was the Garry Monk factor. Surely he’d have launched a half time rocket up the backsides of his own team? Brentford fans strapped themselves in and waited. But nothing happened.

Rather than launch a Blitzkrieg assault Leeds remained contained. There was to be no Brighton style comeback. Instead, it all felt a bit Bristol City. Sure, United probably dominated possession a bit more in the second period but, realistically, never threatened. Harlee was magnificent, as was Dan Bentley when called upon, whilst Sawyers produced one of those wonderful defence splitting passes that only he can to free Lasse. A third might have spoiled us but nobody would have complained had the Great Dane found the back of the net once more.

Instead, we had to be content with a cameo from Macca which included a booking within 7(seven) minutes, another clean sheet and another 3 points.

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Jota and a floodlit Griffin Park – wonderful from any angle

That’s three wins in a row now for Dean Smith’s team as we climb 6 points clear of QPR and within 8 of Fulham. With games against both still to come, the title of Championship kings of West London still remains very much up for grabs.

Likewise, Dean Smith’s team are now just a win away from the 9th place we ended last season in and, whilst a run to the play offs is probably a dream too far (we’re ten points behind with 6 games left) emulating that previous finish has to be the very least of our aspirations. Certainly on this sort of form.

To overly single out anybody from what was a hugely impressive team performance would be unfair. Yet, by the same virtue, due credit to Romaine Sawyers. He’s had his critics over the season and, at times, can be the most incredibly frustrating player to watch. Equally though, when he does what he can do then there’s nobody you’d rather have in the side. Don’t forget also that this is a huge step up from League One.

Our players are only going to improve the more gameplay they get at this level. See also Rico Henry who,despite his slender build, has taken to this team like a duck to water. Oh to see what he can do when he hits the ground running at the start of next season.

That’s then, this is now. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Next up is Cardiff City away on Saturday. Despite their own mid-season flirtation with the bottom sides, the Bluebirds now find themselves just two places and four points behind the Bees. Whilst a repeat of the miracle at Burton on our last road trip is probably too much to hope for, carry on playing like we have done and Fulham might be looking nervously over their shoulders.

For now though, let’s just savour the moment. Take a look at Sky where the goals are already up . Then, when the morning comes around, really enjoy the full fat Burridge version on YouTube.

Well played Brentford. You were wonderful tonight.

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Buzzette was up for it from the off.

Nick Bruzon

No fight, No clue, No nothing. Worst. Display. Ever (and that’s just Dean) as Bees go down at Chelsea.

29 Jan

Chelsea 4 Brentford 0 . Well played Chelsea. You can only beat what is put up in front of you and what comes next is by no means meant as either criticism, or over exuberant praise, of our hosts on Saturday. But that was atrocious.

An FA Cup scoreline most outsiders would have expected before kick off yet one which, with the players at Dean Smith’s disposal could have been so much closer. More to the point, with the players at Dean Smith’s disposal it should have been one which involved some passion and fight. Instead, he rolled over and had his belly tickled.

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Stat of the day going into this one..

The BBC match report has the highlights as does Match of the Day on the I-player, approximately an hour and nine minutes in. If you must do it to yourself, I’d suggest going with the latter option purely for Gaby Logan’s sub-Partridge introduction to the game “Two years ago Chelsea lost out to League One Bradford City in the Fourth round. Today’s opponents also started with ‘B R’ and ended in ‘Ford’ but could Brentford give the Premier League leaders another FA Cup thumping?

The answer was a categoric “No”.

It is said that games can hinge on a single moment. This one was the exact moment Dean Smith set up his team. Chelsea were never going to be at full strength with matches against Liverpool and Arsenal in the coming week. Even I could see that and my managerial experience has been limited to two games at the helm of the Brentford legends.(P2 W2 D0 L0. Just saying).

The only chance of getting anything out of this was to go for it from the off, get in their faces and then grind it out later on if needs be when Chelsea brought their big guns on.

Instead, we stuck to the five defenders and four midfielders in  a system totally devoid of any attacking intent. Tom Field was demoted to the bench. Jota and Josh Clarke sat along side him, with Scott Hogan helping make up the numbers. Wing backs without wings. I’ve seen more flare and width on a kipper tie. Brentford invited Chelsea to come at them and it was a tactical decision that was doomed to fail.

We will be going all-out to win the game” promised Dean on Thursday. His team and their tactics – a Marinus era display of sitting deep then passing it sideways and backwards rather than forwards – gave the impression that we would be going all out to sneak a turgid draw.

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Was this Dean’s game plan, left on the Stamford Bridge steps?

It was total exhibition stuff from Chelsea. Rather than Diego Costa, I was half expecting Antonio Conte to bring on the Harlem Globetrotters in the second half .

The opening forty-five was so abject from Brentford that the biggest cheer from the visiting fans came at half time with the news that Paul Hayes had put Wycombe 2-0 up at Spurs. Along with the likes of Aaron Pierre, Myles Weston and Sam Wood (Marcus Bean and Sam Saunders having to be content with a place on the bench) The Swans giving a perfect lesson in how to take on a below strength team at the business end of the Premier League in their own back yard.

I heard supporters berating Romaine Sawyers and Josh McEachran – claiming the latter had been more interested in his recent ‘golf photos’. Neither had great games, granted, but they were as much a product of the tactical decisions going on around them.

Tom Field was dropped. Why, Dean? Why? Even if he was as tired as you made out, at least start him for an hour then bring on Barbet for the defensive role once we are ahead. Given the line he’d spouted two weeks earlier about trusting his players in regards to ‘not picking’ Scott Hogan (because of course, that was your decision and not at all influenced) then why his sudden reversal? Tom had absolutely nailed that position in the last few months and this was as big a slap in the face as a manager/head coach (whatever) could deliver.

There was no attacking intent on the left. Barbet either too scared, or simply not allowed, to try and take it forward. No width on the right. Josh Clarke and Jota were both overlooked in favour of a 5-4-1 formation in which all 5 sat back and all 4 passed it sideways. And backwards. It was an open invitation for Chelsea to come at us. It was an invitation which required no RVSP and no second chance. It was an invitation which came with a party bag marked ‘goals’. Only Daniel Bentley and the linesman’s flag keeping the first half score respectable.

It was abundantly clear what was going to happen. Invite them on and pay the inevitable price.

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Pre kick off. Yet worse was to come. Much worse

Just look at the way the two managers/head coaches (whatever) performed. Smith, cutting a solitary figure standing motionless on the edge of his technical area. He was a man reverting to the same abject characteristics of his ill-fated predecessor, Marinus Dijkhuizen. He was a man displaying all the passion of a waterlogged stats graph and about as much technical ability.

His opposite number Antonio Conte was like a man possessed. A demented conductor, directing an orchestra of understudies. There he was, driving them on with every gesticulation. A man constantly encouraging his team and barking out orders. This, despite them being two up against a side whose sole purpose seemed to be ‘don’t lose’.

As for the Scott Hogan decision, who knows what was going on there? If there was any chance of taking anything out of the game he should have started. Or been dropped. There’s no room or place for wishy-washy nonsense. Whatever point either he or Dean are trying to prove at the moment is not in the best interests of this team.

The opening twenty minutes of the second period showed just what would happen if we decided to cross the half way line. Attacking the Shed end that housed the 6,000 Brentford fans we began the half the way we should have started the first.

And then it fizzled out as Chelsea started to play again.

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An impressive arena. A less than impressive performance

Only poor finishing and Dan Bentley had kept the scoreline vaguely respectable in that first period. With Romaine Sawyers (whose role yesterday eludes me) unable to go forward,  three static central midfielders passing it amongst themselves and the defence stretched (how can five men get stretched?) the only question was how many Chelsea would get. That it was only two, and eventually four, is a miracle in itself.

In Matthew we trust” , I wrote earlier this month. Well I stick by that. The problem being his trusted lieutenants. The players are there. The talent is there. The motivation and formation isn’t.

For gosh sake, I could have done a better job at motivating them and setting up yesterday . If that was a team designed to go ‘all-out to win the game’ (Dean’s words, not mine) then perhaps he needs a new dictionary or coaching manual.

We haven’t got a divine right to roll over anybody before us. Likewise, Chelsea are where they are for good reason. Roman’s roubles have allowed them to build a squad that is sweeping all before it in the Premier League. But if our ultimate fate was to lose, at least show a bit of passion. A bit of fight . Make a half-arsed attempt to try and get something out of the game instead of trying to chase it when it was already lost.

The most attacking intent shown by anybody vaguely connected with Brentford was from the paunchy geriatrics in the upper tier at full time, as a crazy punch up ensued amongst some agitated supporters.

Instead, we were left with the aforementioned stat of the day from Standard Sport still holding true. We’ve never had a better chance of putting this one to bed. Instead, there was no kapow from Dean Smith.

batman

Nick Bruzon

Italian has a new ‘that penalty’ as Roy draws a parallel.

3 Jul

How on earth do you follow Friday’s news? The story of Jake Bidwell jumping on the 237 from Brentford to QPR was more than surpassed by that incredible announcement of a Bees boss in triple transfer swoop. Sorry for repeating this line but I just love how we’ve finally pulled this most longed for of footballing curios out of the bag.

Like orange balls in the snow, goalkeepers scoring, outfield players having to go in goal, a sub subbed and the request to the crowd for a replacement ref, this is the sort of thing that normally resides in the back of the box marked ‘oddities’.

Actually, can I also add : visiting team forgetting their kit and having to play in the home side’s away strip. Although, personally, in those circumstances I’ve always though we should just adopt the old school ‘shirts v skins’ rule from gym class. Or was that just my school?

But I digress. The answer to the opening question being that you can’t. At least, on a Championship front. Even Brentford have more than overplayed their trump hand in fan satisfaction with that wonderful triumvirate of transfers. That said, two further points of note from Friday.

Firstly, that the players were photographed in two of the three standard poses. Bearing the ‘signing scarf’ aloft and then, later, sitting at a table in front of a blank sheet of paper. Sadly, there wasn’t to be an accidental reveal of the new home kit. Looks like we really will be kept waiting until mid-July for that one. Bob, if you are reading, please put us put of our misery.

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Romaine sports the signing scarf

And secondly, it seems our rivals have more than a passing interest in all things Griffin Park. Ten out of ten for value to those QPR fans who kindly visited these pages yesterday to leave us their thoughts on the Jake Bidwell article.

All I’ll say on that one is, “The table doesn’t lie. 12th, wasn’t it….“?

Instead, we are left to dwell on last night’s EURO 2016 action between Germany and Italy. A game which provided a further addition to the aforementioned list. Namely that of the penalty shoot out.

After further exhausting the players with a half hour of extra time, we were treated to as bad a display of penalty taking as you could ever hope to see. And it was brilliant.

With the Italians seemingly coached by Diana Ross, I was half expecting Marcello Trotta to come off the bench at one point. Instead, we got Simone Zaza dancing up to the penalty spot. Shuffling awkwardly like a giraffe with diahorrea trying to hold it in before hoofing it miles over the bar, Tarkowski style. That he had been brought on seconds before extra time ended for this one, specific, job made it all the more tragic.

But he wasn’t alone. The normally infallible Germans failed. Twice. This, before normality resumed and players from both sides began tucking them away for fun. In the end it was, of course, Germany who went through. Penalties. Come on. We all know what happens there and, sure enough, form told.

It was an utterly compelling end to a hard fought game and for all the wrong reasons. Or, as a neutral, for all the right reasons. Because that’s all most of us were last night. England’s capitulation still seems as raw now as it did on Monday night whilst Gibraltar didn’t even make it out of the qualifying group to reach France.

With Wales (and belated congratulations there) achieving a first ever semi, it only makes you realise even more what England missed out on. Oh for the chance to have even been able to think about cocking up penalties.

Instead, its not even a case of ‘what might have been’ and more one of ‘how on earth did Roy get it so wrong’?

Talking about this last night to one New Road observer, the conversation got on to how well England would have fared had Marinus Dijkhuizen been in charge. Of course, that’s just conjecture but win, lose or draw the one thing you can say is that at least we’d have got some straight answers after the games. Marinus certainly liked to tell it how it was, unlike Roy whose pre-prepared resignation speech was followed the next day with an opening gambit of “I really don’t know what I’m doing here”.

Which then immediately drew another Bees related parallel. With thanks to supporter Antonio Bergasse (and his moment of the season)….

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Nick Bruzon

Glenn, Slovakia, Saint Etienne. So Tough, for England

21 Jun

England are through to the last 16 of EURO 2016. Wales topped the group. Russia are going home (presumably to huge cheers all round). Slovakia are now hanging on for other results after a peculiar brand of anti-football that, fair play to them, shut out Roy’s boys and leaves them waiting to see if third place can be secured.

Those are the headlines as group B came to a close for England in St. Etienne but there was so much more to it than that. Roy tinkered. Roy lost out.

It was a demonstration, if ever us Brentford fans needed another one after some of the Marinus era performances, that stats and possession don’t win games. Although, to be fair, at least England managed some shots (come on Bees fans, it’s all good now !). The BBC figures show how one sided a game this was in all but the key category – goals scored – as the match ended 0-0.

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BBC stats don’t lie….

 

Jack Wilshere was anonymous whilst Postman Pat after an all night ‘bender’ would still have offered better delivery than Jordan Henderson showed. In what seemed to be a wonderful atmosphere – so loud even ‘that band’ were drowned out for vast swathes of the game – England had the chances but just couldn’t take them. Any of them. Not even one.

Then there was Glenn Hoddle. Oh, for some level of decent co-commentary on ITV. Talking to one New Road observer during the game, his take on it was that Glenn had been replaced by a random sentence generator. Another, that Sacha Baron Cohen was filling in for him.

Whatever the answer, his performance was the normal drivel infused nonsense . “I think that’s a tactical move,” he observed after one substitution aswell as noting that “Sturridge has just had a mouthful.”

Glenn went on to explain how the lack of England’s ability to breakdown Slovakia was because “We’ve got all footballers out there at the moment”, with the solution to this being a call for Andy Carroll.

I could go on. Those are but a handful of the examples plucked at random although , equally, perhaps it is something that ITV are putting in the water. Over in the Wales  – Russia game  my sources tell me how Tony Pulis noted that, at 3-0 up, “Wales will be happy to stay in front here” .

Yes. Gareth Bale made it 3 goals from 3 to see his team top the group by a point after what seems to be a steamrollering of Russia. I didn’t see it, can’t comment but can only say “well done”.

Outside of all this, England ARE through. England remain unbeaten. They now face a last 16 game agasint the second placed team in Group F which, all things considered, could have been a lot worse on paper. Mind you, so should a game against Slovakia have been. On paper.

It will take a better man than me to call who Roy & co face next out of Hungary, Iceland, Portugal or Austria. The only thing I’d say for sure is that given recent history, what chance another encounter with Cristiano Ronaldo? He of ‘cheeky wink’ infamy.

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Ronaldo, a cheeky wink never too far away

It isn’t all doom and gloom, whatever you read.

It would have been wonderful to top that group and failure to breakdown a bus parking defence has cost England dear in that respect. Yet is it that bad?

Roy has ended the group stages happy. Indeed having dominated three games to such a level that he told reporters after the game, “That gives me some sort of satisfaction.”

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A Slovakian bus, parked. England couldn’t get past

 

For now, though, the most important task of escaping the group has been achieved. There’s a few day’s break until Monday, 8pm, when England ‘go again’.

Until then, there’s four more groups to play out and, of course, the release of the Championship fixtures tomorrow (Wednesday). For us Brentford fans, this will make a nice diversion and a chance to see how our next 9 months will map out.

Until Sky get the carving knife out…

For now, here’s St.Etienne….

St.Etienne. So Tough. Why do I bother….

Nick Bruzon

I smell a giant rat. If it’s good enough for Lineker….

24 May

Don’t click. Don’t click. Don’t click.” . Not a 21st Century equivalent of the mantra from ‘Candyman’ (kids, don’t even waste your time asking your dads) but a self-administered warning as the mouse hovered over one of the numerous : QPR moving for Brentford captain Jake Bidwell ‘stories’ doing the rounds yesterday. It was ignored.

I did it to myself, I did. And that’s what really hurt. As Radiohead almost sang way back.

This was always going to be flimsy but even by the desperate standards of ‘close season’ (where, as were’ve said before, news is so thin that a transfer in a cereal packet would get reported) it was bad. Yet another example of ‘journalism’ eating itself in an ongoing search for online hits.

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Transfer news has always been popular

And despite normally avoiding such things – as much because of the ‘short survey’ required to access the rest of the article – this was too intriguing a lure. The captain of Brentford going to rivals QPR. Surely not?

Not, being the key word.

Our esteemed West London sources have been quoting a ‘report’ in the Mirror – a source whose usual line of stories seem to be about the ongoing invasion of the UK by giant rats .

And that ‘report’ was one buried amongst a whole host of other unsupported rumours,  claiming that the Loftus Road mob have apparently ‘made an enquiry’ . That was it.

Seriously, this won’t happen. I just can’t see any element of truth or any plausible way it would go through. Instead, it’s just 30 seconds I’ll never get back.

So confident am I that this is bull then if it does play out I’ll attend the first home game of next season in my pants. Hey, if its good enough for Gary Lineker.

If you really want to read some nonsense then, instead, could I suggest,  The Last Word’ review of the year which recently been released for download. Entitled “Ready.Steady. Go Again” it features the least bad of these columns from the appointment of Marinus in June 2015 up until 9th place in the Championship was confirmed earlier in the month.

‘And if you’d like to read more’….. there is also an anthology of the last three seasons  : “Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up“. This runs from ‘that penalty’ and the subsequent fall out all the way through to the 5-1 humping of Huddersfield Town on Saturday. This, via all sorts of other Bees related trivia  including the answer to the oft asked question: Does Cameron Diaz support Brentford?

That said, there was genuine news from none other than Alan Judge yesterday. Twitter once again showing how much it has become legitimate font of up to the minute stories with the announcement: No Crutches

Accompanied by a self shot video that shows our player of the season walking, unaided, this is only a fantastic update.

The Brentford family were heartbroken when he suffered that season ending injury at Ipswich Town. With his chance of featuring in Euro 2016 also gone, The Judge has done nothing but keep the proverbial chin up in public.

As such, to see him at this level of recovery already is genuinely exciting. Here’s hoping Alan can push on from here and we see him in the red and white stripes come August.

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The Judge has spoken

Nick Bruzon

A week of silence provides a gem from the archives

13 Oct

It really has been the archetypal ‘slow news week’. Despite what seems like an eternity since Brentford went down at Derby County, there are still another five days until the chance to get back to action when Rotherham United visit. Instead, it’s been a case of relying on the Rugby World Cup, EURO qualifiers and writing programme articles for the QPR and Nottingham Forest games, amongst others, for entertainment.

Even the club website has been somewhat thin on the ground when it comes to updates of substance. There are more facts coming out of North Korea (where it is currently ‘military parade’ season) than Griffin Park at the moment. That’s no particular fault of the club – it’s just one of the prices we pay for Championship fixtures being cancelled due to an International weekend.

North Korea - a cruel regime run by a crazed despot

North Korea – a cruel regime run by a crazed despot

This morning’s front page present a meagre crop of news, with the Vibe, Judge and O’Shaughnessy in action story being the main headline to grab the attention. Quite rightly, having three players selected for various levels of International duty is something to be proud of and full congratulations are due, to all the players involved – even if the facts behind the story are somewhat shy of the truth proclaimed in the headline.

By which I mean that despite declaring that the players were “in action” the story goes on to say that, “Lasse Vibe was an unused substitute” whilst “Alan did not make the final line-up”. When I hear the word ‘action’ I automatically think about crunching tackles, screaming goals, blistering pace and resolute defending. Not unused substitutes.

It’s a pedantic point and one that shouldn’t disguise the fact that Brentford have players this close to the finals of a major international football tournament. That in itself is an incredible achievement of how far this team has come, even if we aren’t quite firing on all cylinders at present. Instead, the point is made more to illustrate just how quiet things are out there in the media at present.

Indeed, this column has been on hold for the vast majority of the time since the Derby game. Equally, that’s been as much to do with just wanting to catch my breath after the maelstrom of recent events that saw two dreadful performances following the surprise axing of former head coach Marinus Dijkhuizen. That, for reasons which are still not clear beyond unspecified differences in approach to matter on the training ground.

Instead, I’ve been preparing the ‘Kit obsessive’ articles for the next few home games. Despite the Last Word being axed from the matchday magazine a few seasons ago (hence the current ‘online’ version) I’m very much enjoying the opportunity to write the usual nonsense about the best and worst of our opponents’ kits over the years.

It is a subject very close to my heart, as the regular reader will know about the ongoing search for an Osca 83-84 or the mythical Adidas 80-81 shirt to add to my own collection. With this quest still proving fruitless, it’s been really enjoyable digging into the historical kitbag of our rivals and looking at some of the best and worst in football fashion over the years.

Osca 83-84. One of the best/worst (delete as applicable ) shirts we've ever worn

Osca 83-84. One of the best/worst (delete as applicable ) shirts we’ve ever worn

And not just the fashions but how they were advertised. Whilst it’s a well-known fact that footballers can’t act or sing, despite numerous attempts to prove otherwise, the converse is true. Non-footballers certainly shouldn’t try and turn their hand to the beautiful game.

Researching the Nottingham Forest article, I stumbled across this beauty from the Umbro back catalogue. Decent kits, the home especially, but could the models look any more awkward?

Roll on the weekend, please. Proper football can’t return soon enough. For all our sakes.

The early 90s were lacking the slick professionalism of the present day.Thankfully

The early 90s were lacking the slick professionalism of the present day.Thankfully

Nick Bruzon

Plus ça change – new coach; same result

29 Sep

Wow. What can you, actually, say after that? Birmingham City ran out 2-0 winners over a Brentford team beginning their first game under new head coach Lee Carsley. However, it was the anti-performance rather than the scoreline that will stick long in the minds of most home supporters.

Let’s be clear. I hate to sound negative about our team. I’ve supported them through thick and thin for over thirty years but that was terrible. Save for Alan Judge hitting the crossbar late on, and Lasse Vibe shooting straight at Blues’ goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, there were no real chances. But it wasn’t even the lack of attempts on goal that grated but more the general lack of attacking intent or motivation.

A twenty-minute spell in the first half aside, Brentford were non-existent and grew visibly more abject as the game progressed. At least under Marinus we picked up the pace late into games; this was the opposite.

The longer the game went on the more heads dropped. Sideways pass followed sideways pass followed backwards pass – think Jonathan Douglas at his most negative. There was no penetration or cohesion as optimistic balls forward were easily snaffled up by the Blues defence

That said, as at the weekend we conceded in the 90th minute – so there is some consistency. “Not quite as sh*t as Saturday” was the view of one New Road wag after the game. I’d disagree – I thought we were dreadful. Even Lee Carsley would later tell Billy Reeves that, “We went passive with our passing which suited them”.

With a new head coach and a chance for a new start, we’ve stalled in the blocks. Things weren’t always great under Marinus but at least we were starting to see them coming together. The draw at Leeds and victory over Preston were followed by the late defeat against Sheffield Wednesday where, perhaps, we might have snatched all three points but ended up getting stung at the death. This looked like a step backward.

As I’ve said before, we don’t have a divine right to ‘be any good’. I can accept defeat – especially if we look like we want to try for the win. But tonight we were definitely second best against a Birmingham City team who, if I’m being honest, were no great shakes themselves. But you can only beat who you are up against and they did just that.

For the ninth time in ten games we fell behind aswell as, just like on Saturday against Sheffield Wednesday, conceding in the last minute – plus ça change.

Positives? I’m struggling to find some. The half time marriage proposal from Buzz Bee (my nominee for man of the match) was the only real highlight. Our mascot’s costume being donned for one supporter to go down on bended knee, before taking the mic to ‘pop the question’.

Doing this in front of almost 10.000 fans whilst dressed as a headless, anthropomorphic bee is surely a moment never to be forgotten. It’s a shame we can’t say the same about the rest of the evening .

Nick Bruzon

Can we just go straight to Plan B?

27 Sep

Mark Warburton may have a Plan B up at Rangers (I don’t know, I don’t follow the Scottish Championship that closely) but he famously didn’t have one at Brentford. Marinus, on the other hand, does but as Sheffield Wednesday left Griffin Park with all three points yesterday, Brentford fans were left wondering why Plan A doesn’t seem to be working.

For the seventh time in eight league games we fell behind before, as we did last Saturday, stepping up our game considerably in the Second half. But unlike the game against Preston, where we stormed back to a 2-1 win, this time it was Sheffield Wednesday who achieved that scoreline – a 90th minute goal on the break from Lucas João being the ultimate difference between the two teams.

View from the terrace - the HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate at that point

View from the terrace. The HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate ….at that point

We can take positives from the way the team played for the majority of the second half, despite being down to ten men. The penalty awarded for James Tarkowski’s foul on Atdhe Nuhiu with less than 40 minutes on the clock saw the giant centre forward stroke it past David Button as well as, eventually, earning a red card for the fit again centre back.

It was a strange decision (the sending off, I mean). Indecisive referee Geoff Eltringham allowing himself to be harangued by Wednesday players before consulting a linesman who, eventually, helped him come to the decision of ‘straight red’. This, despite Jake Bidwell clearly being the last man back between Nuhiu and the goalkeeper.

Nuhiu is the sort of player you’d love in your team. Physical, huge presence and a proper nuisance. And he knew the way to goal – seeing an earlier effort come back off the bar. He went to ground very easily on more than one instance yet Eltringham saw nothing wrong in his game to warrant even a talking to, let alone a yellow, at any point.

Still, if Brentford went in a man and a goal down, they did everything to start fighting their way back into the game. Jack O’Connell had a stunning effort at the back with a number of perfectly timed tackles and challenges. It was a shame he was the unfortunate man in the wrong place at the wrong time for 2-1 as Brentford were exposed, pushing for a late winner.

Likewise, Josh Clarke at right back looked very impressive, especially bringing the ball out of defence. I’d be very interested to see him playing ahead of Alan Mac at some point, with the midfielder returning to that defensive role he’d made his own in the past.

With the Bees pressing, a goal seemed likely and finally it came – from the most unlikely of assists. David Button pushed almost to the half way line to curl a cross-field ball to Alan Judge. It was an exquisite delivery from a ‘keeper whose distribution has been lambasted in the past but the execution from Judge was even better.

A perfect trap and then shot across the goal into the far corner sent the crowd wild. Even the club staff celebrated that one to a fanatical level – a moment captured by the Football League Tonight and Beesplayer cameras.

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

At 1-1 and pushing it looked as though Brentford might snatch a winner that, in the first half, had been the last thing anybody expected. Instead, when the more prudent amongst us might have reverted to Plan A and locked things up to get an unlikely point, we went for it. You can’t knock Marinus’ desire and moreso with Wednesday also down to 10 men at this point.

But with the Bees in the Sheffield box, the ball broke and once Lucas João had picked O’Connell’s pocket, not even the Herculean David Button had sufficient strength to hold back the last minute one-on-one.

It was a bitter blow and moreso, having been given the hope of a route back into a game we had no chance of being anywhere near on the first half showing. Bees stat guru Luis Melville nailed it on twitter late last night with this very telling observation:

Luis's stats remain 'the bomb' (that's a good thing, I believe)

Luis’s stats remain ‘the bomb’ (that’s a good thing, I believe)

The positive is a chance to get straight back into action on Tuesday night against a Birmingham City side that hasn’t won in three (and went down at home to Rotherham United yesterday). The negative is that we haven’t really got a huge element of team choice, given the injury crisis and suspension for Tarks. Will the players have enough in the tank for another 90 minutes – moreso, against a team containing a few familiar faces in Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson?

Away from Griffin Park, the Pele cup took place at the training ground. The great man himself was, indeed, at Jersey Road where Cliff Crown was amongst the fortunate few to meet him. Hopefully they just discussed football, football, football (and, perhaps, Escape To Victory) rather than Pele’s foray into TV advertising. I would.

A moment I never thought I'd see - Pele and the Brentford chairman.

A moment I never thought I’d see – Pele and the Brentford chairman.

And then I did it. Football League Tonight. I sat through the full 90 minutes. Or should that be, stood.

Having previously given the show a good kicking on it’s debut (one which, for the record, I still stand by) it’s been pleasing to see the gimmicks fall away and, over the weeks, Channel 5 giving us a more traditional ‘highlights package’. So when the opportunity came to be an audience member, it seemed churlish to turn it down.

Being honest, I’m impressed. What we tend to take for granted is that this is a live show. Given how soon it is transmitted after the action ends, there’s no real choice but despite the problems they suffered in the opening weeks, fair play for sticking to that element. Moreso, with the ‘random’ element of an audience.

Not as bawdy as Soccer AM but sufficiently different from the Football League Show, they have now fused the better parts of each programme. Kelly Cates is definitely the show’s shining star and the chemistry from George Riley is growing.

The audience interview still seemed a bit stilted (then again, that could just be the price you pay for talking to MK Dons fans) although I do like the idea of this quick snapshot from the ‘regular fan’ aswell as the players – Barry Bannan of Sheffield Wednesday being the man brought in to admit, small consolation, that his team and been lucky to get the win.

As for Adam Virgo – I’m still not sure what to make of him. Part footballer, part Clem, part geography teacher. He’s no Leroy (still my favourite pundit from Manish’s Football League Show) but then again, he’s no Steve Claridge and is looking a lot more confortable in the role

Does it beat the Football League Show? No, not yet. Then again, football highlights shows have been in such a set style for so long that it is a format we’ve had drilled into us. You can’t knock Channel 5 for attempting to break from the norm and, moreso, acknowledge that their initial attempts to do so were somewhat OTT.

Will I watch again? Absolutely. Many of the previous gripes have been ironed out and Kelly, especially, did a great job (catching George with one particular zinger about his age and Top of the Pops). Ultimately, the show gives us what we need – the highlights, in order, with a number of extended games.

It’s just a shame that, with more focus on Brentford, we didn’t see the Bees pick up any points. Still, there’s always Tuesday. It won’t be easy and, being honest, I’m anxious.

Then again, Griffin Park under floodlights is a magical place and, IF we can start that one like we ended this one (the goal aside!) then who knows what could happen….

Mark Burridge certainly enjoys the Judge strike (along with the rest of the video highlights)

Nick Bruzon

Can Pele inspire Brentford or will Wednesday escape to victory ?

26 Sep

Brentford fans were given the chance to warm up for the weekend football ahead of the game with Sheffield Wednesday by enjoying Friday night’s derby between Fulham and Queens Park Rangers. And we’ve got a visit from footballing (and cinematic) royalty today, kind of…

But beginning at Craven Cottage, it really was one of those awful yet compelling choices. Our two local rivals going head-to-head with no way that both could lose. Whilst, ordinarily, you’d hope for a red card laden 0-0 in this sort of game, if one side has to win then at least it’s nice to see the other on the back end of a spanking. And what a thrashing was administered as Fulham ran out 4-0 victors.

The Rangers website described it as “another night to forget for QPR at Craven Cottage” although I much preferred Bees fan and Bluetones’ guitarist Adam Devlin’s take on things:

Adam shares what we were all thinking

Adam shares what we were all thinking

There was a debatable/condescending (delete as applicable) point made in the Sky commentary that it was, “The great West London derby” alongside the semi-apologetic caveat “with all due respect to Brentford”. Anybody with half an eye on football knows full well that the phrase ‘with all due respect to’ means anything but. A polite way of saying,”we are miles better than you ”.

Aside from my own loyalties to the Bees, a half full away end and a crowd of 19,784 compared to the 23,271 present for our own game in April suggest otherwise. Those visiting supporters who did travel provided all the excitement of a children’s magic trick as the TV coverage suggested a somewhat muted atmosphere. This was less,”The great West London derby” and more ‘The Great Soprendo’ (kids, ask your dads).

On the plus side, at least Fulham now know what it feels like to score four goals at Craven Cottage.

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 08.02.39

The stats don’t lie….

And so on to all matters Sheffield Wednesday. Not that there’s too much to say at the moment. Brentford supporters will, hopefully, have been buoyed but the updates from the management team during the week at the fans’ forum, along with the news that one of the dirty dozen (that’s the injury list) is due to return. Marinus confirmed on Thursday evening that James Tarkowski was over the knock that had kept him out of the game at Middlesbrough and the win over Preston North End in our previous outing.

The visit of Wednesday is the second of three home games in a row for the Bees and a victory today, whilst by no means a guarantee, will take us to exactly the same position as we were in last season – 11 points after 8 games. It would take us past our opponents, level with Fulham and just one point off QPR (and the teams currently in the play offs) with a game in hand.

Whilst it is still a bit early into the campaign to make an informed decision on our prospects for the season overall (only after ten games can we say that the table has ‘taken shape’) today would seem to be the perfect example of – cliché alert – taking every game as it comes. The short-term rewards for a win are tangible and some which should, one would hope, add to the already charged atmosphere at Griffin Park.

And finally. Pele. To many, the greatest footballer of all time. To me, moreso. The greatest footballer of all time abut also the greatest footballer-cum-actor who starred in the quintessential ‘football/POW escape’ crossover movie, Escape To Victory.

I’ve waxed lyrical about this film, many times so will spare the regular reader another lecture – suffice to say it comfortably nestles in my all time top ten films alongside the likes of ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, ‘Star Wars’ and the Vin Diesel classic ‘xXx’.

Pele - a footballing and acting giant

Pele – a footballing and acting giant

So imagine my excitement to read on the official site that he will be the guest of honour at the training ground today for the Pelé cup. This, as the club have announced, being “A special tournament honouring one of the world’s greatest ever players and featuring some of the best up-and-coming talent in Europe.”

Sadly, they then went on to announce that this tournament is, “Behind closed doors and strictly no admittance.”

I have to be honest, initial feelings were of immense disappointment. Why plaster this news all over the cub site on a Friday afternoon but then make it clear we couldn’t come along without prior arrangement? A footballing demi-God will be walking amongst us, just not the supporters. Were they worried we might witness the latest round of the training ground injury jinx?

It seemed to be the equivalent of that moment on TV’s Bullseye during the show’s finale – The Gamble. The competing couple had stuffed it up. The cash, the ‘Bendy Bullys’ and the washing machine or decanter set from the prize board had all been frittered away in pursuit of a speedboat.

Then Jim Bowen would give the ultimate kick in the nuts and utter the immortal lines, “I hate to do this to you, but let’s look at what you could have won”.

Out would come the obligatory boat, but there was no way anybody was getting near it. In footballing terms, Pele is within our grasp but strictly ‘off limits’.

Bullseye - another pair try to win Jim Bowen's speedboat

Bullseye – another pair try to win Jim Bowen’s speedboat

Thinking more about it this morning, I can only imagine the security nightmare that an open house ‘meet and greet’ with Pele would have caused. Our stewards are indifferent enough as it is at times on matchday, let alone with an undetermined number of people turning up unannounced at Jersey Road. Equally, this could have been as much at his request as the clubs.

That said, there are ways and means of saying things. Why share this exciting news but then make it clear in such blunt terms that we aren’t welcome? Moreso, given the open house policy we’ve all become so used to in the past.

Of course the club are going to want to share such news this but there are ways and means. If you are going to big up this sort of news, at least explain why it is being done in private or why not even have held a competition to allow a few supporters along?

Being honest, given our game with Sheffield Wednesday I can only imagine the climax of the tournament would cut across this anyway. Whilst the thought of meeting Pelé is, of course, an incredible one I’d rather be at Griffin Park with my friends.

Instead, I will simply remain in awe of the great man, think about ‘what might have been’ and perhaps crack out ‘that’ DVD once more.

A goal to rival the 'Ossie flick'

A goal to rival the ‘Ossie flick’

Nick Bruzon