Tag Archives: Down

Could it have been any worse? Well, I’m smiling this morning.

3 Apr

What a night for Brentford fans. Simply magnificent. Twitter was awash with celebrations well into the small hours. Nothing to do with the performance at Swansea City, if one can even call it that, but more the fact that Fulham are down. Officially. They will now have to spend the last five games of the season being described as Fulham (R),  after their inevitable return to the Championship was confirmed at Watford. With Huddersfield Town already doomed, we now know two of the teams that we’ll be lining up against next time around. It’s just a shame that we’ve not been able to fulfil the opening part of the “Bees Up Fulham down” refrain, this time around. Woeful away form will do that to you though.

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Watford administer the fatal blow

The magnificent post-Christmas run that saw us within sniffing distance of the top six has well and truly come to a halt. We’ve not scored in four games whilst away from Griffin Park have been on the wrong end of some pretty turgid performances. Last night’s obliteration by Swansea City had been preceded by the stinkfest at Wigan (0-0), a 1-0 home defeat to West Brom and the post Middlesbrough 2-0 loss at Sheffield United. That’s one point earned in four games where we’ve failed to trouble the scorers. To this we can now add the latest, a 3-0 battering at Swansea City that saw us a goal down within a minute and that lead then doubled in a first half which also saw the hosts hit the crossbar twice.

The ‘highlights’ are here if you can do it to yourself. Oh, those first two goals are awful. One has to feel for the fans who travelled for this.  And the players, although at least Thomas Frank recognised that they knew the level of under. His post-match interview was pulling no punches as he noted,  We can lose. Ok, that’s football but I think the performance we put into the first half was under our normal standards. It was slightly better second half but first half is not good enough, no matter if you concede an early goal or not…we are definitely not satisfied with that and we need to sort it out as soon as possible”.

His interview, which you can see below went on to describe how we had played without intensity or belief. All well and good but why? Is it simply exhaustion as the squad, which has also seen Ryan Woods & Chris Mepham sold for many, many millions, is stretched to the very limits after a long season? Why have we had such a devastating contrast between home and away form? 

Thomas tells it like it is.

Let’s not forget how this season Griffin Park has borne witness to us scoring goals for fun and taking teams apart as easily as a kitten toying with a spider. Rotherham, Hull City and Blackburn Rovers (the latter two as recently as February) were all on the wrong end of five goal hauls. QPR were obliterated last month in a game where the most confusing factor was how we only managed three. The combination of Neal Maupay and Said Benrahma has fans purring like the aforementioned kitten, such has been the prolific nature of their form in recent months. 

So how does wonderful home form (mostly, let’s not linger on the visit from Swansea City where we were three down in about twenty minutes) translate to death on the road? I wish I knew. The second half at the Liberty Stadium in the FA Cup being about as horrific and shambolic as it has been.

That had seen us 1-0 up at HT and heading into the quarter-finals before the self-destruct button was hit and Luke Daniels was left scooping the ball out of his net four times. Five if you count the offside.

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Swansea in the FA Cup wasn’t good.

That’s not to get on the back of the players or the management. The former are amongst the most exciting we’ve had in years. A team packed full of young internationals and goals, goals, goals. Mostly. Thomas, a wonderful orator and that rare quality of being a head-coach who tells it like it is rather than how he would like it to be (#deservedtowin) . How the fans see it. A man who exudes confidence and faith in his squad. We’ve a new stadium being built at Lionel Road, for which surely next season will see a big push in order to open preceding in the top flight. That, in itself, a quite outrageous thing for those of us a bit longer in the tooth it even be considering !

Ultimately, we’ve not blown £100m on players. Oh dear. We’ve not been divisional whipping boys. We’ve not had an owner who has felt compelled to argue with supporters on social media as to whether he attends games or performs unspeakable with dogs. 

For all that Fulham slipped into the Premiership last time around, they’ve dropped out as quickly as they entered. Noses very much bloodied, foam fingers wilting and clappers crushed. The coffers emptied and a third manager now in charge. Scott Parker unable to arrest the dreadful form seen under Claudio Ranieri who himself had been unable to arrest the dreadful form seen under Slaviša Jokanović. 

Swansea City may have ensured that it won’t be Bees up but Watford definitely pressed the button to make it Fulham down. The season has had plenty of smiles and despite our own performance last night, I’ve woken up with another one across my face.

Here’s to a few more against Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™ on Saturday. 

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The season has still had plenty of smiles

Nick Bruzon

Brentford, Blackburn or Nottingham Forest? Who will win (or lose by less)?

6 May

This is it. The last weekend of the season with so much excitement still to come. And that’s just off pitch where the club have asked fans to dig out their retro shirts to mark the occasion of our current crest (badge) making one final appearance before being retired. Then there’s the small matter of Mark Warburton and Nottingham Forest hoping Brentford can do them a favour when Blackburn Rovers are the visitors to Griffin Park. With Birmingham City still not safe either, live on TV we’ve Sunday’s relegation shootout.

So what will happen? Will Brentford take the foot off the gas and Blackburn survive? Can Forest get the home win they need and hope their goals are sufficient? Both they and Rovers are locked on the same points and so if they match each others results, it comes down to goal difference. Which is currently -13 Forest and -14 Rovers. It could even turn into a case of whoever loses less heavily stays up.

And I have to say that because I fully expect Brentford to win. We’ve a chance to get up to 8th place, which would be one better than last season. Then again, for that to happen it means we need  to rely on victories for both Rotherham United and QPR. We’ve got to be realistic here.

But a win for the Bees, something that is in our hands, will see us surpass last season points total by two. That alone will be incentive for Dean Smith and a team that I fully expect to be focussed on going out in style.

I feel for the Nottingham Forest and Blackburn supporters in their having to rely on another result. Moreso, from teams who they may think are already on the beach or, in our case, at the Player of the Year awards that are taking place later on Sunday night. However, I refer you back to season 2014/15.

This was Brentford’s first in the Championship and Mark Warburton was looking to go out in style. Despite a little wobble towards the end, the Bees went into that final weekend needing to beat Wigan Athletic then rely on a slip up from Derby County or Ipswich Town in order to make the play offs. The Rams were home to hapless Reading and needed just a point to secure their own spot. We’d beaten the Royals a week earlier and they looked awful. Ipswich were on fire though and, likewise, avoiding defeat was all they needed.

On an incredible afternoon, BOTH results went our way. Despite taking an early lead at Ewood, the Tractor Boys were eventually reigned in and went down 3-2. As for Derby, they missed an early penalty and hit the self-destruct from that point. A 0-3 home loss to a bang average team with nothing, absolutely nothing, to play for was as unexpected as it was hilarious.

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Post Wigan: Err. You know that holiday? Well, Derby and Ipswich have both lost.

The point being that strange results can happen. That the team who appear to have nothing to play for on paper won’t just switch off. We’ve definitely been the beneficiaries of this fact in the past.

However on Sunday, and I take no pleasure from this prediction, my gut feeling is that Brentford are going to be the executioners. We’ve more than just pride to play for. For Blackburn Rovers to stay up, it’s going to have to rely on Nottingham Forest losing by more than they do.

Then again, as has been said many times, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. Take results based advice from these pages with a huge dollop of caution. Indeed, given the aforementioned favour they did us, there’s a big part of me that hopes Blackburn losing by less than Forest is the way this one plays out. Everybody in TW8 can go home smiling. Especially if Rotherham and (something I can’t believe we need or want to happen) QPR also win.

Then again, there’s the Mark Warburton factor. A hero to many at Griffin Park, could we take any pleasure from putting a nail in his Championship coffin? Perhaps it’s not one to overthink. Let’s just go out and let the football do the talking – whatever will be will be.

Besides, there’s more to think about off field. I make no secret of being a kit nerd and the club putting out this challenge to supporters has got me intrigued.

Just what could we see? What will the fans’  ‘favourite’ be? Does anybody even own that wonderful Hummel-lite version from 94-95; our first to feature the current crest (badge)? Is there a Samvo shirt out there that still has the sponsor intact rather than having disintegrated the first time it went through the washing machine?

On a personal note, I’ve whittled it down to a choice of three. Or four. But there are more than a few stunners to pick from.

Being fortunate enough to take part in filming an episode of Britain’s top rated day time TV show Bargain Hunt yesterday, both the Bees and the kit obsession made it into that really awkward chat bit at the start.

And that bit, when the show goes out, is quite likely to be the highlight. Let’s just say it’s a lot harder than it looks ‘playing’ live rather than when you watch from home.

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Just some of the shirt choices – although current crest (badge) only

Likewise, subject to any last minute editorial decisions then I gather the match day programme will feature a very special top ten.  Although after last weekend’s Brian Guest affair at Fulham, which the club knew nothing about in advance, we probably shouldn’t take anything on that front for granted.

So if you haven’t done it yet, why not have a root through the back of the wardrobe and see what you can pull out? Whatever your thoughts on the current crest (badge) why not help see it off in style?

The next time we all get together, there’ll be a new design in place….

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Coming soon. To a shirt near you….

Nick Bruzon 

 

Down, Down. Deeper and Down

12 May

Newcastle United. Down! Norwich City. Down !  On a busy, busy day for all things Brentford related, the Bees learned more about who we’ll be playing next season. This, when Sunderland’s win guaranteed their own safety whilst sending their arch-rivals to join us taking on the likes of Aston Villa and Burton Albion in the Championship. The rumoured news about the Brentford Academy was confirmed whilst for those looking for a bit of entertainment on the way to work today, Besotted’s latest podcast is now available.

We’ll start with The Academy. Any article entitled ‘Club Statement’ appearing on Brentford official is never normally great news. Sure enough, this one confirmed that as part of a “lengthy evaluation process” undertaken by co-directors of football Rasmus Andersen and Phil Giles “the decision has been taken to completely restructure the Club’s Academy system“.

The subsequent definition of ‘restructure’ seems to be more one of almost wholesale shut down at every level. Rather than running from under-8 up to under-21 and the Development squad, we’ll be replacing all of this with what is described as “an elite squad of  around 18 players aged 17-21.”

It’s hard to pick out the exact reason for this decision amongst what is meant to read as positive and innovative but, instead, at times gets lost in a sea of buzzwords.

Given how Brentford saw the Academy as such a huge part of its future state model, this does mark a remarkable reversal. It can’t have been an easy decision and one has, first and foremost, to feel sorry for the kids and their families involved in the structure at the moment.

How the new elite squad pans out will only be evident in a year or two’s time. That’s not to say, the personal cost aside, this won’t work either.

From one respect I can understand the logic that  “The Club will specialise in developing one age group rather than trying to master the whole talent spectrum”. Where these players are to come from is another question. Moreso, given the fierce local competition.

It’s a brave decision to make, that’s for sure. Both on a personal and professional basis. I want my club to succeed and hope that this trimmed down ’elite’ squad playing  a “carefully planned programme of games, predominantly against Category One Academy teams” is a way of doing so.

Only time will tell.

Tom Field

Academy graduate Tom Field featured in the first team against Fulham

Ok – last night’s football. How much must Sunderland have enjoyed putting the final nail in the Newcastle United Premier League coffin? Their 3-0 win over Everton meant that the trip we’ve been planning for the last few months has now come a step closer.

Along with those new experiences at Villa Park and Burton Albion, the Championship is now shaping up to be an even more exciting place. Get those railcards ready !

It does show how football fortunes can change, though. Who’d have though the 2016/17 top flight ‘North-East’ derby would be Sunderland v Middlesbrough ? Likewise that next season’s game between Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest will mark the first time that two former winners of the European Cup (kids, that’s the proper version of the Champions’ League) will meet in a league fixture outside of the top flight.

Bournemouth and Watford both keeping their places in the Premier League against most people’s expectations. Leicester City, of course, have become hugely popular champions. Tottenham have broken into the top four although have given themselves a wonderful opportunity to perform their annual ‘choke’ as they go for second place, at Newcastle United, this weekend.

The football landscape is changing. Stick to the Status Quo at your peril or run the risk of going Down,Down. Whether you agree with it or not, and I know that from reading social media last night many feel strongly,  It’s something Brentford are trying.

And talking of ‘Down, Down’, how about down, down-loading something for the journey to work. Yes, the latest Besotted podcast goes live this morning and you can get it here.

Whilst Billy (Grant, not Reeves) and the team do talk about the Academy, the emphasis in this ‘end of season’ special is very much on fun. Amongst other things this edition covers off the season’s highs and lows, rumour of the year and the Alan Judge-less player of the year.

The podcast is always well worth a listen. Nobody can doubt Billy, Dave and the rest of the Besotted crew’s passion and enthusiasm. Here’s to more next season.

And finally, on the subject of downloads, The Last Word review of the year is now available. 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 at the weekend.

‘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“ , which runs from ‘that penalty’  all the way through to the 5-1 humping of Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

If you’d like to read all about it, whilst listening to Billy and team, you can do so here.

Many thanks.

Until then, here’s The Quo…

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Its all about the kit, man. And the Bees.

Nick Bruzon

Lionel Road plans form as Gibraltar arrive on the Euro stage

7 Sep

No sooner had Brentford fan (or not, as it transpired)Cameron Diaz broken my heart this week than an idea has formed which could help bring her back into the fold. First, though, EURO 2016 qualifiers and if you aren’t bothered seeing Germany get brackets (seven) against Scotland then Sky Sports 3 has Gibraltar making their tournament debut on Sunday night.

The boys from The Rock have a ‘home’ fixture against Poland in a hugely significant game after finally becoming UEFA’s 54th member last May. I use ‘home’ loosely – the game will actually take place in Faro, Portugal – but it still promises to be an emotional experience for players, travelling supporters and those watching on TV.

It is a shame, from one respect, they’ll be rattling around a half empty stadium when a trip from Gibraltar to London would likely have been just as cost effective (thanks to the wonder of charter flights) and would have seen any number of stadia up for the task – international football at Griffin Park, perhaps?

But I digress – in a Group D that also sees World Champions Germany, the Republic of Ireland and the pool minnows, Scotland, it could be a fascinating qualification campaign. The smart money will be on Germany to walk it, of course, but I’m backing Gibraltar to pull off a shock this evening. And at 33-1 with some bookmakers for the win, worth a few quid…..?

Getting back to domestic matters, this week Cameron Diaz declared that although she wasn’t aware of The Bees existence, now that she is she’ll look into us.

As such, what better chance for the club to spring into action? To be quite honest, when it was announced last week that she’d be in London on a promotional tour, I’d have assumed the marketing and media chaps would have been all over it, anyway.

A new home shirt with ‘DIAZ, 9’ winging it’s way to her? A tour of Griffin Park? Perhaps an interview with Chris Wickham for Beesplayer?

But, it’s not too late. One thing I discovered whilst writing last season’s columns/book was an interesting fact about Swiss football. Whilst most people know that the home of domestic side ‘Young Boys’ is the ‘Stade de Suisse, Wankdorf’ what you may not be aware of is a unique feature – the, so called, ‘Hot Seat’.

The stadium has a solitary red chair amongst the other 31,999 black and yellow ones. It was the first one installed in the new ground (opened in 2005) and you can’t buy a ticket for it. Instead, a notable personality – usually linked to the club – sits there.

I love this idea and, as I’ve said before, think it would be fantastic if Brentford could try a similar scheme at Lionel Road. 19,999 red and white seats, and then one in a unique colour – or perhaps even yellow/black stripes?

In our case, the occupant could range from a deserving supporter to a local dignitary or ‘celebrity’ fan. (If nothing else, there’s a free programme article out of it every week).

And if we go down the latter route then what better guest to invite to use this ‘hot seat’ than Cameron Diaz? As Paul Davis told me on Twitter, “At least now we are on her radar”.

Mr. Benham, if you are reading (you never know) then how about it?

But even if Cameron does come good, she’s still down (down) the pecking order behind Rhino out of The Quo or Dean Gaffney.

Bees fans montage updated

Should Diaz be replaced on the celebrity Bees montage?

Nick Bruzon