Tag Archives: Dijkhuizen

Is something rotten in the state of Brentford?

9 Dec

We’ve not really touched these pages in the last week or two. Matters outside of Griffin Park (namely, a social life rearing it’s head once more like some long forgotten relic of pre-parental life) have meant the column takes a back seat. To be honest, it’s probably no bad thing given the recent run in form that for Brentford finally looked like it may be coming to a halt with that 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Monday night. We all know what happened there, with the Bees doing to ‘deserving’ opponents what our own head coaches have felt hard done by so many times over the last few seasons. An injury time equaliser from Lewis Macleod rescuing a point after the hosts had conspired to miss all manner of seemingly unmissable chances earlier on. Good news, we thought. We have stopped the bleeding (not my words but those of Thomas Frank). Then Swansea City happened and a 3-2 defeat that was about as shambolic as it has been in recent months.

The Bees were a goal down with less than 30 seconds on the clock. The Griffin Park scoreboard hadn’t even sprung into life by the time Wayne Routledge had tapped home the opener after the defence had failed spectacularly to clear the most innocuous of pass backs and straight crosses. It was 2-0 Swansea soon after as Chris Mepham turned into his own net to gift the visitors a second. That the clock was registering 27 by the time Swansea made it three was only due to the injury suffered by Martin Olsson. One can only hope that the lengthy treatment before play resumed (there were 8 minutes added on at the end of the first half) was precautionary but it didn’t look good from where we sat on the far side.

IMG_E9753

No minutes on the clock and already a goal down. 

That third goal was everything that was wrong with the team at present. A listless ball across midfield that was picked up by nobody. A needless free kick awarded on the right hand side. A ball delivered in that wasn’t cleared far enough before spaces were left for the return that would have embarrassed my son’s U-6 team. Kudos to Ollie McBurnie for attempting the overhead kick that lead to their goal but that he was even afforded that much room was a crime in itself. Leroy Fer made no mistake as the Brentford defence were unable to mop up the resulting detritus. I’ve seen better markers in a packet of Sharpies. 3-0 down and 27 minutes gone, 8 of which had seen the clock stopped for Olsson’s injury.

Frustratingly for Brentford, that unfortunate break in play should have allowed the team time to regroup. To have a chat about what next to avoid the inevitable third and actually find a way back into the game. But there had been nothing and the inevitable happened.

That’s it. If you want to read about inspired comebacks. About almost snatching a point. About hitting the bar two or three times then be my guest. Here’s the BBC website. Here’s Brentford official. Here’s Sky Sports where the report is about as lightweight as our midfield was for that opening period but they do have the goal highlights. I’d suggest you watch them just to see how not to play football.

Don’t let a fight back fool you or mask over another dreadful start. I’d hope Thomas has been up all night figuring out how to repair the gaping holes in the team, in their confidence and in supporter morale. The boos on the third goal and half time suggest that the crowd as finally been lost.

IMG_9758

View from the Braemar. The perimeter boards really rubbing it in during the first half.

It was yet another game where quite wonderful individuals have been that. Individual. Where the team spirit has seemingly gone out the window. Where the inability to kick a ball forward instead of faff has cost us. Where the result of being unable to put in a challenge has been a glut of goals conceded in a short space of time. See also Preston. QPR. Middlesbrough. Sheffield United. I honestly thought the game with the Blades had seen us as off the pace as we could possibly be but this one really trumped it.

That first half was on a par with, if not worse than, Oxford United in the league cup a few years back. At least in that one (and we’re clutching at straws) Marinus could blame his relative short time in the job, the sandpit of a pitch and his own tactical naivety in picking eleven players with barely a handful of first team appearances between them. But Thomas has been part of the set up for two years. He knows the players. They know him. This was a good line up – on paper – but instead it did what it has done time and again in recent weeks. Defensive hesitancy. Midfield absence. Full backs brutally exposed. Passing the ball sideways and backwards instead of forward. Inability to make a challenge, close down or simply mark an opponent. Just not kicking it away when it was near the goal. The ‘discussion’ amongst the team after the third went in was there for all to see.

To be fair, it changed after. As the heavens opened, the Bees came alive. Albeit Brentford very much had Daniel Bentley to thank for even keeping us alive at 3-1 down. This after Ollie Watkins had pulled one back in the first half and before Said Benhrahma gave us hope with a wonderful freekick midway through the second. But it was all too late. You can’t keep on giving away 2 or 3 quick fire goals – bang, bang, bang – and expect to take anything from a game.

From the point where we were named as joint favourites for the league title with Leeds United, Brentford have not so much hit the skids as gone through the crash barrier and plummeted down the mountain side. We’ve got games coming up at Hull City and then home to Bolton Wanderers. Both sides in the rapidly diminishing clutch of teams currently below the Bees. Failure to pick up at least 4 points out of 6 in those will see us getting sucked into that relegation vortex.

It’ll be a big ask given Thomas has only picked up 4 points from his opening 9 games. Even Marinus had managed 8 from the same period. What we’d give for that sort of form at the moment although please note the Dijkuizen experiment is not one I’m calling for a return of. Ever.

Marinus Oxford touchline

Marinus and the Oxford United fiasco (not a prog rock band). Never forget

What’s really troubling me is why this isn’t working at the moment. We’ve had many poor teams and poor runs over the years at whatever level we’ve played. But the squad is currently packed full of internationals. It is the same squad Dean Smith had. We have the Championship’s second top scorer (Neal Maupay currently one behind Lewis Grabban). Top flight clubs covet the likes of Ollie Watkins, Chris Mepham, Daniel Bentley and Ezri Konsa. Josh McEachran (up there for player of the season so far) has pretentions of playing for England.

We’re not talking about times where the set up has been so thin that we’ve had to beg a favour off Neil Shipperly. These are good players. Great players. Players who hit the ground running and propelled Brentford to the very top end of the table back in August and September. Now, they’ve got all the confidence of a studio audience going in to a recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.

Neil Shipperly

Neil Shipperley. Never forget

Is it simply bad luck? Injuries limiting selection? Or is there something going on behind the scenes. Something as simple as an arm around the shoulders that is missing? Or something more in tune with a change in tactical set up? This should have been a seamless transition but for whatever reason it’s just not working out at the moment.

Let’s not pretend that the end of Dean Smith’s time here didn’t see us in a mini-blip relative to what he’d done prior with just 1 win out of 6. Yet what was intrinsically different then was that he had the winning form that made nobody in any doubt it would be back again soon. Even when we weren’t taking all three points, there was none of this constant shipping of goals over a short space of time.

Nobody has a divine right to be any good. We can’t just rock up and expect to win. Equally though, you still need to rock up in the first place. You can’t keep on giving the opposition two or three goal leads and expect to come away with anything.

Thomas has got a huge, huge challenge ahead of him. Both tactically and psychologically. I hope he has thick skin and a plan B. Or C. The way the crowd reacted yesterday after a frankly awful opening period suggest that if he can’t turn things around fast, things could get very ugly. For everyone.

img_9781.jpg

Raining (goals) at Griffin Park v Swansea

Nick Bruzon

Advertisements

Warning. Warning. Danger, danger. The robot on wheels and Doctor Smith sting harrowed Potters.

12 Aug

Ah, the fetid stench of a crowbarred headline. Apologies, but its that sort of morning after the night before. How about Disappointed? Dominated? These, just two of the words used by Brentford head coach Dean Smith to describes his feelings after the 1-1 draw at Stoke City on Saturday. He’s not wrong. It was a wonderful performance by Brentford where only a defensive faux-pas (move along, nothing to see here) kept the hosts in the game whilst only the reactions of England squad member Jack Butland in their goal afforded the Potters even a point. We’re only two games into the Championship campaign but with another one sided performance off the back of last weekend’s 5-1 trouncing of Rotherham United (themselves winners yesterday at home to Ipswich), could those chants of “Bees Up, Fulham down” which were ringing around the ‘bet365 stadium’ already be some form of early season prescience?

IMG_5667

Stoke City – home of the Tile Mountain. Apparently.

Brentford were stunning. Irresistible. Enthused. a constant threat. They pushed and probed. Romaine Sawyers pulling the skills in the middle with an absolute standout performance. Ezri Konsa and Chris Mepham looking like they’ve played together for years. Ollie Watkins rampant down the left whilst first Sergi, but especially Said Benrahma, bursting down the other side, and through the middle, with aplomb. It was beautiful to watch and the visiting fans were on their feet time and again.

Stoke City, on the other hand, were second to everything. Their squad is superb. On paper. Packed full of big names and new signings yet there was none of the team spirit which Brentford possess. Only their opening goal, after being on the back foot for the opening half hour, came about as a result of the one real mishap all game. Chris Mepham heading back over Daniel Bentley amidst confusion over who was going to go for the ball. Benik Afobe grateful to pounce on the loose ball as it trickled towards the back stick and tap it home for 1-0 Stoke. It was a goal that was as against the run of play as they come but that didn’t matter. Possession counts for nothing if you can’t take your chances. Stoke had one sniff and gobbled it up.

The home crowd woke up. Brentford hung in there. We survived. Half time came and the Bees were clapped off. The supporters still believing. And then the second half began. Kamo came on for Josh McEachran. The Bees regained their composure and twenty minutes in parity was restored. Ollie Watkins with a wonderfully drilled shot, low and hard from 25 yards out, levelling things up. It was more than ample reward for a performance that had seen the Bees slowly, yet relentlessly, turning the screw. And this was before we’d even been treated to the electric pace of new boy Benrahma.

It could have been 2-1. Perhaps it should have been one. The Potters had Jack Butland to thank as Watkins almost wrapped it up whilst Neal Maupay came close on a couple of occasion to. Whilst Tony Pulis out ranks the rest of the league (albeit having played a game more) taking his Middlesbrough team to the top of the table, at times it felt as though we had all stepped back in time to The Britannia and he was pulling the strings. Stoke kicked. Stoke tripped. The Bees were denied a stonewall penalty. “Hoooofffff” exhorted the Bees fans, everytime they took the industrial route out of defence.

IMG_E5687

View from the away stand – spot the ball; spot another foul

It ended 1-1. Nobody would have been surprised had Brentford taken all three points. Everyone was surprised how Tom Ince was somehow named as man of the match. One for the sponsors, I’m sure.

In a shock turn of press conference events, Dean was quick to note how he thought we deserved to win. Whilst praising the magnificence of his team he would note that  “The only thing missing was that we didn’t get the three points that we deserved…

You can see that video in full below.

Brentford now up to six points in the ‘deserved to win’ table

What else can you say? Well, the new brown and orange away kit looked superb. The Bees performance matched it. Given the numbers on view in the away stand I can only presume that these are starting to gain the popularity already lavished on them by those of us with taste. I can only imagine that the comment of “It looks like curtains” from one Stoke fan on the way out was a reference to their own promotion chances rather than my own replica top. A few more performances like this and they’ll be flying off the shelves by the time we make the trip to Blackburn at the end of the month.

IMG_5706

Brown and orange was everywhere

Last week against Rotherham was brilliant. Yet they were the team that are rank outsiders for the league. Stoke are at the other end of that spectrum. The favourites by a country mile. Yet, if anything, I take infinitely more heart in the way Brentford played yesterday. Never surrendering. Never giving up. The sort of game that in days gone by we’d have sat back, 10 behind the ball, and hoped to grind out a point from or maybe snatch a lucky goal.

Instead, it was the complete opposite. Don’t fear the reputation. Don’t get over awed by the location. Just go out and play your game. Do your thing. Take it to the home side.  And my word, didn’t we do that with some style!

Four points from six has been our best opening to a Championship campaign in the five season we’ve now been playing at this level. Only Marinus Dijkhuizen in 2015/16 has matched this (not a typo) and we all know what came after next after that pair of games. Move along, nothing to see here. Editor, fetch me the Burnley unicorn graphic….

Marinus unicorn

Any excuse to crowbar this one in – how far we’ve come

It IS early. We do need to wait 10 games for the table to truly take shape. Yet at the same time, I can’t help but feel absolutely exhilarated by the 180 minutes of league football I’ve had the privilege of witnessing Dean Smith’s team play so far. Marinus he ain’t, that’s for sure.

Catching up afterwards with one observer who actually knows what he is talking about, it was opined that, “We were fantastic AGAIN today. I want automatic promotion AND the moral high ground“.

This, before adding that “ROMAINE SAWYERS IS A ROBOT ON WHEELS“. On yesterday’s performance, I wouldn’t disagree. 

Warning! Warning! Danger, danger. Sheffield Wednesday…..Robot Romaine and Doctor Smith are out to pick up where they left off.

robot romaine

Sheffield Wednesday are next up in the league

Nick Bruzon

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?

 

And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust …. the rest of this article can now be found in the Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Certainly, if there’s no Marcos Tea Bar at Lionel Road it will be an opportunity missed.

All proceeds from any sales will go to the Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given something very special. A 2017/18 third team shirt with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in the EFL typeface. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop.  Anyone who has read any of this before will know what a kit nerd yours truly is so when I say this is rare, take that in good faith!

To be in with a chance of owning it, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before selecting a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 16.13.22

Nick Bruzon

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.

IMG_6723

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.

IMG_6728

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.

IMG_6694

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.

screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-08-25-03

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.

img_5307

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.

img_5275

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.

screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-08-45-32

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.

CmR3E6-WcAAdb1O

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)….

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 09.58.45

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.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 05.29.31

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.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 07.09.00

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.”

4877

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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 06.18.42

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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 06.14.46

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