Tag Archives: Eddie Howe

I’m a defender….. get me out of here!!!

21 Nov

Newcastle United 3. Brentford 3. Or as I saw one correspondent put it late last night: Community Asset Stolen by Evil Despotic Sportswashing Murderous Regime FC 3 – 3 Bus Stop in Hounslow . Whatever the wrongs or potential rights of Newcastle’s new ownership, Eddie Howe saw his tenure start off at 100 mph. Albeit that with the medicating Magpies’ manager confined to a hotel room after testing positive for Covid, the club chose to replace him at the game with the spirit of Kevin Keegan. They’d have had as much joy picking Ant or Dec. Mind you, Thomas Frank opted for a similar approach. All out attack, combined with an ongoing injury crisis at the back, led to a change in formation and a game of goals, goals, goals. It finished 3-3 but such were the glut of chances it could have gone any way. In the end, a point can only be seen as positive thing, despite Brentford leading twice. Huge sighs of relief after Joelinton stumbled at the crucial moment late on rather than giving Eddie Howe the perfect get well soon gift.

It was certainly a trial of sorts for the spectators. Ouch, my heart

It was as exciting going forward as it was shambolic at the back. For all those bemoaning the absence of David Raya in nets for Brentford, Karl Darlow was the sloppier of the two ‘keepers on display. Ivan Toney’s equaliser for 1-1 on 11 minutes a great finish to a great move but one that, ultimately, went straight through the Newcastle goalie. Less shot-stopper and more shot-letter-inner. Hey, you can only take the chances that present themselves and Ivan did that with aplomb. 

It was no less than we deserved after falling behind just 75 second earlier. A cross evading Pontus and Jamaal Lascelles outmuscling Vitaly to head home unchallenged. It was as easy as they come. Fernández little hope and the dream start for the home supporters. Thank goodness for Ivan, who then did his thing after being released by Sergi. Indeed, it could have been two even sooner than it eventually was . Bryan finding himself in similar territory to that occupied by our goalscorer beat Darlow, only for the ball to bobble back off the post. There was Ivan to bundle it home home but, alas, he was fractionally offside. The flag was immediate with VAR and subsequent viewings showing there to be half a boot in it. As with his ‘goal’ against Liverpool it felt good but one where the cameras have again come to the opposition’s defence.

Soon after, we were ahead. This time, Rico Henry ghosting in unmarked at the backstick. His second in as many goals. Sergi once more the provider. Trapping it in a style it much akin to way he did against Reading when scoring ‘that’ goal, this time the second touch was followed by a left footed inswinger that took out the entire Newcastle back 2/3/4 (?). There was the marauding left-back to power home with his head and give Brentford the lead. Up in the gods, the Bees’ fans erupted. Surely there was only one way forward from here? Surely?

Alas not. Once again the game swung. With half time beckoning, Roerslev’s attempted clearance only spun as far as Joelinton who swept home first time to the bottom corner, past the despairing stretch of Ethan Pinnock,  leaving Fernández minimal chance. 2-2 and it could have been worse. Fernández and Pontus then getting in each other’s way defending a free kick. The ‘keeper spilling it under pressure but there was Ivan on the line to get it clear.  The striker helping  keep them out as well as bang them in.

The second half saw the introduction of Onyeka bang on the start of the 60-70 substitution window so favoured in days gone by. Hey, Newcastle aren’t the only ones who can channel a former manager. It worked, too. Within seconds of coming on, there was Frank the Tank with a shot -cum-cross turned past the hapless Darlow by Lascelles. It goes down as an o.g. because it was . Pure and simple. The midfielder’s ball into the box hinting at a trajectory towards the back post but the Newcastle captain made sure it wasn’t in doubt. 

The lead restored. The heart unable to take it. And moreso as it lasted less than a quarter hour. Pontus and Roerslev unable to deal with a deep cross and, again, a goal. 3-3. The uber impressive Allan Saint-Maximin nodding home for 3-3. Once again, Fernández left minimal chance to keep it out. 

Indeed, there could, probably should, have been a fourth. Maximin going on a run reminiscent of Daniel James for Swansea in the FA Cup. Eventually he freed up Joelinton who, with the goal beckoning, not for the first time this afternoon fell over at the crucial moment. Rather than unleashing waves of misery on the Bees faithful, the ball was cleared. Another point added to our total and the run of LLLL coming to an end.  

For Thomas Frank, the outcome was clear. Speaking afterwards, his belief was unshakeable. “Slightly biased, I think we had the bigger chance to win it.. but I am aware they had the big transition at the end of the game which could have killed it off for them. I think we were the team that maybe should have taken three points.

For me, Clive, take the point and run. I’ve watched it back this morning and it really could have gone either way. A game which both teams clearly viewed as an ideal opportunity to pick up the win saw caution thrown to the wind and defence something that was as much a concept as anything of genuine practicality. For the Bees, injuries meant our hand was forced and with the best way to keep the ball out being by sticking it in at the other end, no complaints. Newcastle is as raucous a place to go and moreso yesterday. Eddie Howe missed his own coronation. Ivan Toney showing his former club what they missed out on.

Next up, Everton. At Lionel Road. Thomas needing to choose whether to stick or twist with his formation. And perhaps some sleep for yours truly. More to follow on that later….. The formation rather than the late night

The calm before the storm – a few familiar faces as part of a sell out away contingent

Nick Bruzon  

Can we be party poopers at the coronation of King Eddie?

19 Nov

And we’re back in the room. Brentford travel to Newcastle United this weekend on the back of a first real challenging streak in the Premier League. Recent form of LLLL takes no account of the performance against Chelsea or the shonky ref. Likewise Leicester City, where I’d imagine the midfield partnership of James Maddison and Simon Hooper will cause further mayhem for whomever they come up against next. As for Burnley and Norwich City. Hmmm . The Canaries will no doubt feel they deserved to win and three points will show this to be the case. The appointment of Dean Smith at Carrow Road something one could write an entire chapter on but that’s a subject for elsewhere. So we’ve been great, we’ve been unlucky and we’ve been downright awful. Injuries decimating us, too. Whatever the analysis and performance, it all comes down to wins. Or lack of. The net result is nil points and the hope that International break has helped recharge some batteries.

one of the few bright sparks recently

Which leads into Saturday afternoon. The game at Newcastle United is a sellout for the travelling fans. Presumably the home side, too, with Eddie Howe taking another opportunity to test himself away from Bournemouth. Things were average at Burnley (8th and 13th in the Championship) with his eventual departure for what were deemed at the time to be personal reasons and since confirmed as being due to the death of his mother rather than anything to do with being ‘homesick’ . That one’s here.

It’ll be manic at Newcastle. Their first home game under the new regime saw the lead taken against Spurs within three minutes before normal form resumed. Cripes, Spurs winning a game is reason enough to be worried about your own form but with the Magpies being the only top flight team yet to win a game, will the new incumbent have done sufficient in this relatively short time to change that around? 

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank gave a, perhaps, surprising assessment of the opposition in Thursday’s press conference. He’s told the massed ranks of the journalistic corps that: “We haven’t looked that much at Newcastle, apart from individual players, but rather what Eddie Howe did at Bournemouth in terms of shape and style. I expect them to come flying out, pressing us…. His profile is fantastic and stands for progressive football, front-footed pressing, and he wants to be dominant on the ball. I admired his job at Bournemouth a lot. I’m convinced that, over time, he will be a success at Newcastle

Over time. Let’s hope for sure it’s not immediate. Perhaps of more interst is his claim that we are not studying our opponents. One can only presume a bluff from Thomas that, surely, isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. Not even a cursory glance? Mind games and false messaging or just supreme confidence in our own ability, our own shape and our own players? Whatever that shape is and whomever they may be this time around.

With injuries continuing to bite there is some good news. Mathias Jensen is back from Denmark, has completed his quarantine following that Covid test result and so has been in training. Will he start or have recent performances now been deemed sufficient that a place on the bench is the best he can hope for? The availability of the broader midfield will determine that as much as anything else. Norgaard and Janelt nailed on starters for 2 of the 3 berths, even if the latter was below his best against Norwich. I felt.

Zanka will be assessed and Wissa is getting closer with Thomas due to decide today (Friday) if he is able to play some part. Likewise Shandon Baptiste who is deemed in contention to be in the squad. Kris Ajer and David Raya remain the key absences with the former due a scan at the end of the month to see how he is placed going forward.

For me, Clive, its as much as getting through this one unscathed. Obviously we want the win and there is still sufficient in the starting XI to beat just about anyone on our day. Yet with those much missed players starting to get close to a return, let’s not scupper this with any rushed return or further injury blow. Our luck on this front has been bad enough already. I’m amazed that Shandon Baptiste is where he is already after that dislocated shoulder but there you go. Hurrah for medical treatment. Yet with the busiest time in the calendar fast approaching, including that league cup quarter-final with Chelsea, keeping the squad fit is as crucial as picking up the points.

The atmosphere on Saturday is going to be nuts. All the focus on Newcastle United. Brentford nothing more than the bit part players at the coronation of King Eddie. The chance to be party poopers always a wonderful one.

I’ve no idea what any of Thomas’ talk means. Nobody will reveal their cards in public, that’s for sure. All we can say is that after the frustration of Burnley and Norwich, this is the perfect time for us to get back in the groove. Let’s hope we take it.

Bring it on and see you there.

Hopefully he won’t be smiling at full time

Nick Bruzon

We’ll do our best to feck them over.

9 Nov

International break but its all happening around Brentford off the back of the Norwich City game. Manchester United tickets have sold out. Hardly unexpected. The GPG now waging war on touts and chancers crying in to Facebook. Newcastle United have a new manager in Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe, just time for our visit on Saturday week. On the fitness front, Mathias Jensen has had to pull out of the Danish squad following a positive test for Covid 19 en-route to International duty. With that news being confirmed at Copenhagen airport, the rest of the squad remain unhindered meaning Christian Norgaard avoids isolation for now. What this means on the domestic front remains to be seen but if there is any consolation to be taken, at least this comes at the start of the two week window. Meaning that in theory he may even be back for the trip to Newcastle. That’ll keep the usual suspects happy on social media. Last year’s Sergi fast becoming this year’s Jensen. Groan.

What do you do though? Of course fans need to be able to express their opinions and discuss. The passion and the interaction are an integral part of the game. Yet after last season’s vitriol I thought we’d done with all that. Copious amounts of egg left on face as Sergi did his thing in the face of the morons and has only picked it up even more this time around. The Frank Out ‘campaign’ ending with the only ‘out’ being the club going out of the Championship and in to the Premier league. Now, after four defeats on the bounce the knives are being sharpened in certain quarters. Not that I can imagine the usual suspects are reading (can read) so we’re largely shouting in to the void.

FFS. It’s hardly the stuff of crisis. Overall, the start to the season has been beyond the expectations of just about everyone. Recent form of LLLL doesn’t look great on paper, that’s for sure, but let’s not forget that includes the full frontal assault on Chelsea and the pantomime villain theatrics of James Maddison when Leicester City came to Lionel Road. Both, games where there were the additional factors of obscene clock running down and woeful refereeing. Burnley was, granted, horrific, and Norwich City not much better. But two bad games do not a disaster make. Moreso given we are in the grip of a devastating run of injuries. 

He’s behind you….

As for Mathias Jensen’s form, thoughts on him and other performances were published in yesterday’s player review (which is here). We’ll never know if the subsequent medical update had anything to do with it or, additionally, if ‘The Curse of The Warm Up’ has struck again. As has been observed, everyone who has appeared alongside Stu and Marcus has failed to start the next game due to illness or injury. However, one thing has become clear over the years – Thomas Frank won’t buy into fan led demands for player removal. Or selection. See also Tariqe Fosu who is worshiped as some sort of game changing demi-god by a few whilst just about everyone else is wondering what has gone on behind the scenes to limit his appearances to just a handful of league cup ties.

Moving on to Manchester United, there was an odd (that’s the polite word)  post on Twitter yesterday by one ‘fan’ having a moan about being unable to get a ticket for that game. Whether this was the subsequent ‘joke’ he maintained it was, who knows? An attention seeking clikcbait tweet which required some serious back-pedalling after the obvious reaction or simply a case of nonsense blowing up out of all proportion? What we can say is the visit of Manchester United on December 14th is about as hot a ticket as has ever been seen at Brentford.

A joke. Apparently

And with such demand come the usual touts and chancers. It was always going to happen with the membership scheme eventually being open to all (and rightly so). This isn’t happy-clappy land and you’ll never get a perfect system. There’ always be people who want in on the action or tying to take advantage but the GPG are one the case.

Elsewhere, Trevor Inns has posted a quite to the point message.  

If any one has some spares for the Manchester Utd home game, please tell us about it. 

Especially if on sale above face value.  Twitter. Facebook. TikTok. Anywhere. Let us know.

Brentford Tickets for Brentford Fans 

Already got two that have a rude awakening tomorrow morning!

DM me or admin@griffinpark.org.  

Well said that man. Let’s get as many genuine fans in for these games as possible. F*ck the tourists and the touts. Let’s keep the noise loud and fill Lionel Road with Bees rather than away supporters. Keep this a fortress rather than a library. Here’s to more rude awakenings.

Finally, Eddie Howe. About as telegraphed a move as possible, he’s now in charge at Newcastle United. The only club in the top flight not to win a game after Norwich City picked up their first three points on Saturday, we’re first up for the new era. Howe’s first bite at the cherry. Whether his presence will be sufficient to turn things around this soon remains to be seen. All being well, we’ll have some better news on the fitness front (Wissa would be nice). Even if just at centre back where Zanka (our Urine-son as Match Of The Day called him) going off after just 12 minutes on Saturday added to the casualty list and hardly helped the game plan.

It’s a long way off at the moment and one that will no doubt be bigged up to the max from next week. Whatever your politics or thoughts on the club’s new owners, the focus on a  game that was already going to be under the microscope has only intensified further. All being well, everybody will forget about Bees and a party pooping will be in the offing. 

There wouldn’t be a better time for this to happen, that’s for sure.

Nick Bruzon 

Time to go ape once more?

30 Dec

Brentford are now fifteen games unbeaten. The 3-2 Boxing Day knockout of Cardiff City seeing us move to within touching distance of the top. Sergi’s hat-trick the stuff of dreams. Now Bournemouth await in a 5.30pm kick off this Wednesday evening. Both teams level on 38 points and knowing that victory will take them second above Swansea City, who don’t play until later tonight. Their game with Reading has an 8pm kick-off. Even a draw all see the Bees and the Cherries gain a position thanks to our superior goal difference. There’s everything to play for in the latest ‘Biggest game since…’ . A game made all the more interesting by table toppers Norwich City dropping two points at home to the Loftus Road mob on Tuesday.

Sergi got 3 out of 3 on, err, Saturday (I think)

I suppose we should be thankful there’s even a game taking place at present. With Corona virus seeing fixtures now being pulled across all divisions, Big ‘Sam’ Allardyce calling for a ‘circuit breaker’ hiatus to action and talk of tougher restrictions coming in at a national level, it may only be a matter of time before things grind to another halt. 

The plus point being it may allow everyone at our clubs to stay safe and restore some tired limbs. The down side being that Brentford are flying at present. The league and the cup have both seen us come into our own as the pressure has increased on divisional (and Premier league) rivals. The points gap being reeled in by some relentless displays and magnificent use of the squad by Thomas Frank. Those called in have more than done a job. Those who have been regular starters somehow maintaining their energy levels over a run of games that has been as exciting as it has been exhausting.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting Bournemouth to be anywhere near as strong as they have been this season. So many times we’ve seen clubs drop out of the Premier League and struggle to adjust to their new surroundings. With players being shed and talismanic manager Eddie Howe leaving in August, things looked grim. To the casual observer. Instead, they’ve carved out a run of form that has only seen them lose twice since the start of November ( Sheff Wednesday ‘away’ and a slip up at home against Preston. Hmm – I think we can all relate to that.) 

Like Brentford, they have continued to astound. To perplex. To amaze. A club no doubt as tainted with the ‘teams like’ and ‘little’ moniker as we have been in recent times. Their own top flight residence lasting for five years until the end of last campaign. We’ve all got our own thoughts on howe they got there, of course. Who could forget the team they put together when going up in 2014/15 – cripes, that must have cost them a fortune – but once there they more than held their own at football’s top table. Now, they are back amongst us in the Championship and on current form giving every indication that this will be as short a stay as possible.

Nothing would give greater satisfaction than getting the win tonight. Memories of Mike Grella flooding back once more. His name was mentioned during Mark Burridge’s commentary of the Cardiff game as Sergi looked to add a fourth goal to his, and the team’s, total. Instead he had to be content with ‘just’ the match ball and all manner of plaudits. I can’t see it being anywhere near as comfortable as that 6-0 victory back in November 2011 when the gorilla went ape, but even a turgid 1-0 will do me come full time. Chance would be a fine thing. Bournemouth aren’t going to just roll over and anybody claiming to know how this will turn out is a better observer than me. So that’s everyone , then.  

The Gorilla went ape – for one night only

If I had to call it, I’d go for Brentford by the odd goal in three. But I don’t. So I won’t. Even knowing who Thomas will start with is as much a case of car-keys in a bowl as anything else these days. Josh Dasilva and Tarique Fosu were both amongst those to miss out in the starting XI against Cardiff. Sergi is on fire but must be knackered. See also Ivan Toney and Rico Henry. Surely Thomas will go for what he’d see as his strongest option on current form tonight? For me, that read him opting for : Raya, Henry, Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Janelt, Dasilva, Jensen, Canos, Mbeumo, Toney. 

That’s my own hypothesis and the obvious one based on what we’ve seen to date. Who knows what Thomas’ longer term plan and tactics are?  Christian Norgaard doesn’t seem to be quite match fit after that prolonged injury but perhaps Tuesday and Spurs will do for him. Assuming the game even goes ahead. Equally though, one thing we can predict is that Thomas has cards up his sleeve and will be just as likely to mix things up. To try and catch everyone, including Bournemouth, cold. Cripes, who’d be a pundit or anybody trig to write something accurate. Roll on 4.31pm when the team is announced.

I have to be honest, I’m quite liking this 5.30pom kick off time. It’s totally untraditional but at a time when as many of us are able find themselves ‘working from home’ is a cracking way to move direct from the company laptop when the whistle blows directly to the sofa and TV. To start the night early and sill have time to put the kids to bed at full time. Plus it means we’ve less time to wait until the big match kicks off. Which given the way Corona Virus cases are spreading, can only be a good thing. Let’s enjoy this one before it is taken out of our hands.    

It’s a real six pointer. More than that, given the bigger picture impact. Twelve pointer? Double six pointer? Norwich City and Swansea, both in that immediate touching distance, no doubt hoping both teams can lose. Of course that’s not how football works and something will have to give at the business end of the table by full time. It’s live on Sky and i-player so, all being well, everyone has a chance to follow this one if you like pictures with your words.

Bring it on. See you there (in spirit). ENJOY !!!

Something has to give this evening, whatever the result

Nick Bruzon 

In the end the lure of the beach was too much.

23 Jan

What can you say? Congratulations Chris Mepham on finally securing his dream move to the Premier League. The Welsh centre-back completed one of the most expected moves of the season yesterday when he finally left Brentford for AFC Bournemouth with the fee reported at £12million plus the usual, copious add-ons. It was no surprise given Eddie Howe’s previous bids in the last two windows along with the player’s own omission from the squad that beat Rotherham United 4-2 on Saturday. This, following injury absence that had coincided with Thomas Frank rejigging his defensive line up and seeing his Bees finally return to unbeaten ways. Yet the gain here is all for Bournemouth as, despite a suggested higher offer from Dean Smith (something c/o my good friends at Beesotted, who are always on the money), the young Welsh International has declined a move to Aston Villa and chosen to take a trip to the beach. So to speak. 

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We can take consolation in great memories, lots of money and no hashtag

For Brentford, it means further shrewd transfer business as another player who we have picked up for minimal outlay (Chris joined as an under-16 back in 2014) has departed for the sort of money we could only dream about a few years ago. The club has made no secret of saying it will sell if the valuation and deal is correct and here we would seem to have another example. Bournemouth have made no secret of their intent to acquire a player whose rise has been, frankly, stratospheric. He hit the ground running last season and regular Welsh call ups were soon to follow. 43 games and one goal (oh, that knee slide against Sheffield United…) after his Griffin Park debut he has now reached the top flight with Bournemouth.

Eddie Howe must be purring like the metaphorical cat who got the cream. In one respect it is a gamble given Chris has played so few games but my word, what performances he has put in over that time. Last season, especially, where nobody could quite believe the confidence, precision and calmness of a player thrust into the squad and then the first team following the departure of Harlee Dean to Birmingham City. 

Things continued a pace this time around with Chris a regular call for ‘first name on the team sheet’ although, it would be fair to say, things did go somewhat amiss from mid-October. For the whole team. Thomas Frank’s first game in charge, a 1-0 defeat at home to Bristol City, saw Meps shown red for two bookings (the second somewhat innocuous) but from that point a malaise came over the Bees defence and midfield. It has something that has only been over remedied with the restructure of our our line up and with Chris having missed the resurgence through injury, perhaps the thinking is that with the fee on offer we have sufficient cover now in place to continue the upwards surge.

Whatever the reason, nobody can deny the talent that Bournemouth now have at their disposal. Chris has the potential to go all the way to the very top. On a personal note I’m obviously sad to see him go but it’ll be intriguing to see how quickly he adapts to life in the top flight. One can only assume he’ll take to things like a duck to water and despite the apparent ‘better terms’ offered by Aston Villa, taking the direct route to follow your dream is very much the way to go. As the ever eloquent Bernard Quackenbush put it on Twitter last night:

“As someone who has lived in Bournemouth for 38 years, with its miles of sandy beaches, warmer climate and with Sandbanks, The New Forest & the Dorset countryside on your doorstep.

Why the f@ck would you choose to live in Birmingham over Bournemouth. It was the only sane choice“.

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‘That’ knee slide

Elsewhere, we’ve had some downtime on these pages recently and so didn’t comment on the 4-2 win at Rotherham on Saturday. It was a result that saw our first win in the quite wonderful brown/orange kit as the unbeaten run continued to 7(seven) games. Those hardy souls who made the long trip to Yorkshire were treated to goals of the highest quality. Kamo’s second (our third) has to be the pick of the bunch  – a quite wonderful pass and move display direct form kick-off after being pegged back to 2-2. That Rotherham didn’t get a touch until fishing the ball out of the net tells you all you need to know about this one.  With an FA Cup fourth round trip to Barnet next up, what a time to find your form on the road. Wha ta time for the Jaffa cake shirt to finally come to the fore.

Albeit, the word on the street is that Thomas Frank has never tasted Jaffa cakes before. The training ground address is 100 Jersey Road, Osterley, TW5 0TP…..

Mmmm. Jaffa Cakes

Nick Bruzon

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

20 Jul

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

Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 05.26.39

The words of Sheffield United about John Egan

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

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

You can read that one in full, here.

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

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

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

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Thank you, John. From HB (and dad)

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

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

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

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

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

15-16 Bidwell

16-17 Dean

17-18 Egan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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That’s about as official as it gets

Nick Bruzon

As unexpected shocks go, this is up with the best of them. What next, though?

1 Feb

Can we look yet? 5.30am and the alarm has just gone off but, it seems, Brentford are in the clear. At least for now. The domestic transfer window has formally slammed shut and we have survived. Whilst outside of TW8, the biggest Bournemouth related shock of yesterday was their beating Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge, at Griffin Park we had our own cause to be wary of Eddie Howe. The Bournemouth manager reported by Sky Sports to have bid a staggering £5.5 million for Chris Mepham. Something that other sources later claimed had been upped to £7(seven) million pounds.

Chris is a huge talent and has done nothing but impress in the handful of appearances since making his Championship debut but a bid of that size is one that nobody expected. With all the talk of Lasse Vibe heading off to China or Ryan Woods to Sunderland, nobody had considered the thought that our new star could be on his way to the seaside. Thankfully, he isn’t. For now.

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Chris Mepham won’t be turning his back on the Bees

Once again, it shows how much guess work and clickbait goes into those January rumours. Nobody saw this one coming and it will be very interesting to hear the official verdict on our January business. After the carnage in the summer when Harry Redknapp started to splash the cash at the 11th hour, you could have been forgiven for fearing the worst.

Instead it has been a case of tumbleweed at Griffin Park. Chris Mepham is still at Brentford and that can only be a good thing for all concerned. He has shown so much ability and maturity in such a short time that there is no doubt he can play at the highest level. Yet, for now, he continues his footballing education with Brentford and that’s fantastic news.

Instead, it is the ‘in door’ which has swung this time around with the signing of 20 year old Chiedozie Ogbene confirmed from Limerick earlier in the week. Another free scoring attacker (10 goals in 37 appearances last season) he is a player with huge potential. With Alan Judge staying at Griffin Park and Emiliano Marcondes taking those initial steps in the first team, competition is set to be even fiercer than ever before.

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#WelcomeOgbene

In other ‘non’ news, number 26 is still at Burnley  – so no sell on clause for us. Although given his family ties, there was no way he was ever going to join the likes of Arsenal or any other Southern club. Manchester City would have been the only viable option out of all those clubs being linked with the strike happy centre-back.

That said, Justin Shaibu has gone out  – albeit on loan to Walsall. I really thought he may have been given a bit more of a try out in the first team – especially when Lasse has not been available. One does wonder what will happen should the Great Dane decide his career lies abroad. The transfer window in China remains open until February 28th so I don’t think we are quite out of the woods there. Still, all that is pure conjecture. We know from Dean Smith and other club sources that he has been in conversation with another club but, to date, no agreement has been met. Fingers crossed that Lasse sticks with the rest of his team mates to see where this season might take us.

I’m a very happy man this morning. Whilst it has got to the point that nothing would surprise us anymore (and almost did), when the worst that happened on deadline day was my triple Chelsea defence taking a fantasy football hammering – thanks, Eddie – then things have gone very, very well.

Yet had we sold anyone then I think it fair to say that whenever this has happened we’ve bounced back. This summer’s window has seen the quintessential example of this, with it taking Birmingham City the best part of four months to finally limp out of the bottom three. Even then, it took a win over fellow relegation strugglers Sunderland. Brentford, meanwhile, have picked ourselves up since losing Maxime et al to become the divisional form team as we’ve climbed from bottom of the table to the fringes of the play-off race.

But we digress. I don’t want to get caught up on the woes and travails at St. Andrew (albeit February 20th could be a very tasty encounter). Like it or not we are set up to grow, develop and sell players at present. Everybody has their price although clearly Chris Mepham’s is expected to be a lot more than has already been dangled under our noses.

We didn’t sell this time around. It’s brilliant. Moreso, it poses a very interesting question now about what happens should the Bees really kick on from that wonderful recent form. Espcially if Lasse stays put.

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Nick Bruzon

The craziest day in football history? Bees top the lot as Clem and Bournemouth set the record straight.

19 Mar

No. It wasn’t a dream. I’m awake. Brentford really did come good in the most incredible style to turn a 3-1 HT deficit into a 5-3 win at Burton Albion. Back on 3rd May 2015, the Last Word published a column entitled: Was this the craziest day in Championship history? as the Bees secured a play-off semi-final with Middlesbrough and Bournemouth pipped Watford to the league title in the most dramatic of denouements. But yesterday saw all that come crashing back to the forefront of the memory for many reasons. Nonemoreso than the return of Middlesbrough fan and Last Word cult hero Clem. Of Clemwatch fame.

But we can only start up where we left off last night and the result from Burton Albion. If not as significant as that afternoon back in 2015 where our own defeat of Wigan, matched with just about every possible result going our way, saw the Bees reach the play offs for the Premier League, this was one that is at the very top of the list of “I was there” games, Purely in terms of what was a ridiculous afternoon it was from a Brentford perspective.

If you’ve seen yesterday’s post-match column we’ve done that one. What a quite spectacular game of football to have witnessed. Following it from home was stressful enough, I can only imagine what it was like being there. An afternoon reminiscent of celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup at Leyton Orient? Winning the fifth round of the FA Cup at Blackburn in 1989? That game against Wigan in 2015?

Only those in Burton will truly know how good this one felt but if social media is anything to go by then it can only have been up there with the best of the best.  There’s been plenty for those missed who out on this one to look at via the world of Twitter and other sources although, perhaps, in retrospect it was always going to be a special afternoon when Burton gifted Brentford an omen such as this.

Are Beesotted setting up in Burton?

Billy (Grant) of Beesotted fame wasn’t just spotted on the side of a building. He was one of many loving the moment Sergi Canos popped up at the railway station on the way home. As you do.

Billy and Sergi. The afternoon's excitement continues

Billy and Sergi. The afternoon’s excitement showed no sign of stopping.

Billy wasn’t alone. Just when you thought Sergi couldn’t be any more excited to be back at Brentford, his impromptu photocall proved us all wrong on that front. How Norwich City must be kicking themselves at acquiring, then falling too use, such incredible talent and incredible enthusiasm. Presumably the Spaniard has now got home or is he still obliging the supporters with more photos?

Sergio does it again. And again. What a man.

Bees photographer Mark Fuller caught the moment below as sweetly as one could hope. The next best thing to actually being behind the goal.

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Whilst his partner in media crime (not literally) Sean Ridley proved that sometimes, three words are all you need.

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But perhaps it was the EFL themselves who hit the nail on the head in regards to yesterday’s events.

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Yet to truly call yesterday incredible we also need to look at Bournemouth. Specifically because  Eddie Howe’s team beat Swansea City 2-0 at Dean Court/The Vitality Stadium.

On paper, no great surprise given The Swans precarious position but dig a bit deeper and it might not have been such a ‘gimme’ as first imagined.

Back in that 2014/15 season, aswell as charting Brentford’s first Championship campaign the Last Word ran a side feature called Clemwatch. It was a feature borne out of the sudden realisation made, as most are, in The Griffin.

Namely, that whichever team ever popular BBC roving reporter Clem (Mark Clemmit)  featured on The Football League Show would subsequently fail to win that afternoon’s game.

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Clem – never shy to mix it up in terms of reporting locations for The Football League Show

Was there any truth to this? Being the jinx conscious football fan (magic pants, lucky shirts, not shaving over a winning run are all par for the course) this needed study. And so over the course of that season Clem’s form was observed from the first week. Surely it wouldn’t be true. But it was.

Aside from some genuinely entertaining features, Clem finished up with a record of 7(seven) wins from 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford.

Clem was at Vicarage Road to see if the Hornets, entertaining Sheffield Wednesday, could match Bournemouth’s result to be crowned champions. Both teams were winning with the BBC clock showing 90 minutes. Then, it happened.

Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished at 1-1.

Whilst I’m sure that Watford fans will be more than pleased just to have gone up, I do hope Eddie Howe sent a big thank you to Clem. The effervescent reporter may have doomed Watford although, and it has to be said, he brought a lot of joy to viewers along the way.

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

And that was it. With The Football League show disappearing from our screens the following season to be replaced by Football League Tonight (please, please, please never forget what was served up as replacement to Manish and Clem on that first episode) his work in that particular field was done. TV rights meant the BBC would focus on the Premier League and with Brentford failing to beat Middlesbrough in that play off semi final (or any game. Ever. It seems) we went our separate ways. Until yesterday.

With Clem finally on Twitter (@MarkClemmit) he’s been a recent ‘follow’ and, mid-morning, popped up with the announcement that Eddie Howe would be his interview subject on that morning’s Football Focus.

Cue good natured banter to a TW8 based Bournemouth supporter and Mike Grella fan about her team’s upcoming fate. The jinx would surely strike again? Yet the response was a surprising one. Not from Carey but from the man himself, defending his own recent record with the tongue in cheek note that times are changing.

That's me told, then. Clem is back. And better than ever.

That’s me told, then. Clem is on better form than ever .

And sure enough, they are. Bournemouth’s win sees Eddie Howe now joining the ranks of Sam Allardyce and Paul Lambert in being blessed by Clem. The jinx has reversed.

What can you say, but:

i) Sorry, Clem.

ii) Congratulations Clem.

iii) Thanks for being a great sport, and

iv) Should the worst happen to Middlesbrough then we can’t wait to see you at Griffin Park next season. Just make sure that if you have a mic with you, it’s pointing at Dean Smith.

And, of course, if you’d like to read more about our past three campaigns and the full Clemwatch story, then you can do so here.

Talking of Dean (puts crowbar back in pocket) we couldn’t finish without going all Ian Moose. Except without the pre-match catering obsession. It simply remains to say Happy Birthday to Dean Smith. Have a great day, my friend.

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Happy Birthday Dean Smith. Have a great day my friend.

Nick Bruzon

Crazy transfers, spray on pants and the chance to win a cup tie

9 Aug

Brentford travel to Exeter City in the first round of the League Cup tonight, no doubt anxious to make up for last season’s humiliation at this stage when Oxford United were given the freedom of Griffin Park. Elsewhere, those of us with half an ear to the wider football grapevine can breath a huge sigh of relief at the news that the Paul Pogba to Manchester United saga is finally over. And Olympic fever is slowly taking hold in the Bruzon household.

First up, as ever, Brentford. The trip to Exeter City marks a chance for the Bees to start another attempt at a cup run after a  somewhat disappointing last couple of seasons. Capitulation in the FA cup against Brighton in 2014/15 was followed by last season’s no show at home to Walsall. As for the League Cup, who needs any reminder of the tie with League Two Oxford United?

Well, all of us do – just to make sure it never happens again. Dean, if you are reading (you aren’t)  I realise this wasn’t your fault but….

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

 

Marinus Oxford touchline

The Oxford United fiasco (not a prog rock band)

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Steve Austin – 0.5 of a Grabban

Nick Bruzon

QPR, tick. Next stop Chelsea. Can Bees ‘do a Bournemouth’?

1 Nov

Sunday morning and Brentford fans are still basking in the afterglow of Friday night’s 1-0 win over hapless QPR. Lovely though it is to enjoy that moment (along with further West London ineptitude over at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho took his post Liverpool press conference to a new level of bonkers), it did leave Saturday feeling a bit empty. With no Championship action for us until the visit of Moses Odubajo and Hull City on Tuesday, we’ve had to wait for the other teams to play their ‘game in hand’

To be quite honest, I let it pass me by. There was a new James Bond film to go and watch. Daniel Craig may not be Roger Moore (then again, who is?) but ‘Spectre’ more than lives up to all the plaudits it has received to date. With enough ‘knowing winks’ to the predecessors in the series, we were only a Victor Tourjansky and a decent theme song away from being the best ‘Bond’ to date.

Victor Tourkansky examines the league tables

Victor Tourkansky examines the league tables

So it was only this morning that I’ve properly taken stock of all that happened on Saturday. Hull City won again to lock up second place but, equally, Brentford remain just four points off the play off spaces themselves with everybody now on level games played. It certainly adds an extra level of frisson to an encounter between two teams who, like it or not, it seems were only ‘discussing’ the transfers of Moses and Andre Gray (how did that work out for you, Steve?) only five minutes ago.

There’s no point crying over it. We are where we are. Players have gone but, infact, Brentford have only improved. Whilst I still find that somewhat bizarre given our start, all due praise must be offered to reluctant hero Lee Carsley.

Looking at the table, the Bees have 20 points after 14 games and sit in 11th place. This time last campaign, we were 13th with 19 points. Of course, last time out we then embarked on that stunning run to the play offs and almost an automatic slot. As such, Lee is going to need to do his very best to keep the momentum going and match pace with what Warbs achieved.

That said, if he can then the rewards could be beyond all expectation. If we thought last season was amazing then this could be even more incredible. Not just promotion but, equally, the chance to be the best team in West London. It wasn’t for nothing I mentioned the horror show at Chelsea earlier.

With their side seemingly in self-destruct mode, they are only four points off relegation to the Championship with almost a third of the Premier League season played out. Indeed, a win for Bournemouth today could see the Stamford Bridge outfit pushed down to 16th.

And this is mentioned because, however unlikely, in football anything can happen. Bournemouth proved last season that it is possible for a small team to achieve the impossible – even in these days of big spending and even bigger debts. Conversely, recent relegation for Newcastle United and Champions League qualification stuff up for Manchester United show that nobody is infallible – no matter the size of their reputation or bank balance.

Eddie Howe was the benchmark for success last campaign

Eddie Howe was the benchmark for success last campaign

I can’t imagine, honestly, that Chelsea will go down. But they’ve not been this abject in many a season. And should it happen, then the likes of Brentford, Fulham and even QPR will all be chomping at the bit to leap frog them into the Premier League.

Even better, the chance to be true kings of West London football.

Laugh it up all you want, but the current tables and current form don’t lie. The Bees are on a roll and I can’t wait for Tuesday night to see how much further that might go.

Nick Bruzon