Tag Archives: EFL

A positive end to an awful week. Can we go one better today?

31 Aug

Normality returns today. Kind of. Brentford host Derby County at Griffin Park having reached the end of a week that saw Bury expelled from the football league and Bolton Wanderers narrowly avoid the same fate. We’ve updated TV news, with the 237 derby game at Loftus Road seeing us becoming a diet version of Sky Sports Leeds (that’s two appearances in as many months for us)  and there was the brilliance from Brentford ‘official’ on Twitter yesterday. Have they done their best ever tweet?

First up, the visit from Frank Lampard’s former club, Frank Lampard’s Derby County. Or just Derby County as we can thankfully call them once more. That really was getting tedious. Say what you want about the Rams but they came so close last time . There was the wonderful turn around against Leeds United as the Elland Road side fell apart, again, in the play-off semi before suffering the ultimate pain. They could only look on as John Terry lifted the winner’s trophy high into the Wembley sky and Aston Villa reached the Premiership.

That end of season agony has continued this time around. Whilst Leeds have picked themselves up and gone again, and Villa have now recorded their first top flight points under Dean Smith, things haven’t been quite so easy for Derby. Like the Bees, they’ve only picked up one win so far and that was against hapless Huddersfield Town. Both clubs find themselves in the bottom third of the fledgling table and will, obviously, be keen to record the win that sees things heading back up in the direction they are more accustomed to.

The news is positive. For Brentford. FloJo is set to miss out for out guests, as does Bogle. We’ve the potential return of Said Benrahma to the starting XI whilst there’s a chance for our first look at new striker Nikoloas Karelis. He looks an absolute unit – and that’s just from the picture on the squad page – so it will be interesting to see how he fits in as the meat in the sandwich of our always impressive wide men.

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Karelis – the meat in a wide man sandwich

Even better though, word on the street reaches me that Buzzette is set to return. Whilst, of course, she has been present this season it is just that. Being present. The normal spring in the step and enthusiastic dancing have been somewhat lacking. With it, the team’s fortunes have been on the down turn. Has she been carrying an undisclosed injury? Perhaps struggling with a protracted summer holiday? Either way, I gather her coach has had a word, she’s been declared fully fit and back to normal so we can once more expect to see her busting those inspirational moves, throwing shapes and doing whatever else it is the kids do as the discotheque.

Away from Griffin Park, I’m at a loss for what to say about the Bury / Bolton situation. From the impotent handling of matters by the EFL through to their apparent willingness to let one our our oldest clubs go to the wall, it has been heartbreaking. Gigg Lane was the first away ground I visited, back in the 80s, and was a journey I always looked to make whenever possible. Seeing this play out has been agonising.

I’m just an onlooker – once can’t begin to even imagine the pain that their supporters and staff are going through right now. It’s shameful that it was allowed to get this far and then play out in such a crushing denouement. All we’ve been left with is a dead club and the footballing equivalent of Donald Trump offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ after a mass shooting.

The only positives, if there can be any, from this shameful situation are that, at least, Bolton are still with us. That does then lead to whole host of further questions to the EFL as to how one club can be given a further extension but not the other. And it is where we get the other news, which I read this morning. Bury aren’t giving up and there is an interesting piece on the BBC in regards to potential legal action, given the way that the final nail was driven into their coffin. There is talk of additional bids being ignored, amongst other things. It is well worth a read and can be found here.

The whole situation is all the more ironic given the amounts of money being pumped into the higher level of the game by Sky, amongst others. Their own decision to rebrand an articifical ‘deadline day’ with ticking countdown clock was a shameful one and , rightly, came in for criticism from all quarters. Dignity? Respect? Who needs them when there’s a joke angle that can be had at the expense of people’s livelihoods and a club’s very existence? 

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Stay classy, Sky.

And now they’ve gone and picked us for TV. We’re already on at Barnsley in late September. Make that twice in successive months with the rematch against Mark Warburton, Yoann Barnet and QPR has been moved to Monday 28 October. You can understand why. Any history aside, there are sure to be goals in this now with Barbet currently shipping penalties for fun this season. His ‘go again’ key getting a right hammering at present. Although knowing us, it’ll be the fans in the upper tier returning any spot kick rather than the not so super-hoops’ goalkeeper ! Come on lads, prove me wrong.    

There was a positive end to the week. At least on social media where ‘official’ are definitely finding their feet after the never forgotten shame of #trophyfriends. Friday’s 4-1 humping of QPR in a U-23 game was most notable for our second goal. The prolific A. Trialist, a player who has had more clubs than former Bee Steve Claridge, popped up to head home from Ali Coote. This, in a move which began form a short corner (not a typo).     

So it was all the better when ‘official’ got in on the act, with one of those goal gifs/memes ( I never know which is which) made popular by Bristol City. Who needs comedy acting when you have comedy word kits. Magnificent. I want one.

Great work all round. See you in the club shop at lunchtime. 

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A Trialist. From a short corner. What’s not to love?

Nick Bruzon

Farce of the missing game comes to an end. Can we end on a high ?

4 May

Pope declares his admiration for the Catholic faith. Bear defecates in small forest. Laurence Bassini has insufficient cash.  EFL call off Bolton v Brentford. The most obvious facts since records began were formally, finally, declared yesterday morning with the Bees being awarded a nominal 1-0 win and all three points for the game which will not be played and never had a hope in hell of happening the second it was called off last Friday. Instead, Sunday lunchtime’s visit from Preston North End will now become our final game of the season and, with it, the chance to secure a top ten finish is still on. Likewise, the chance to ensure that the nine points deducted from Birmingham City for breaking financial regulations give no chance of claiming ‘if only’ as we finish above them, again, with Bees already ten points better. 

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At least we got to play Bolton at home this season

What a mess. What a farce. What a shame. The only positive to come out of this in the immediate short term was the game being cancelled. Something which should have happened the exact same second Bolton Wanderers were unable to field a team. We all know the circumstances around why they did this, and there’s no vitriol being directed towards their first team, but the can of worms this opens with teams being able to cancel games unilaterally with no immediate form of solution, sanction or recourse available to the EFL is a worrying one. Might want to update that BCP plan, chaps.

Moreso, it begs the question as to how on earth they felt adequate safety personnel might be in place on Thursday afternoon when the next morning it was realised they wouldn’t. That being the formal reason the game was called off, rather than any considerations around fans, players or other clubs who now see Brentford climb to 12th after our third away win of the season.

Most frustratingly, there was no confirmation from the authorities as to whether we’d recorded the win in our magnificent away kit or who had scored the goal. With Neal Maupay (24) sitting four behind leading scorer Teemu Pukki of Norwich City (28) this would have been an excellent chance to try and narrow that gap. Instead, there’s only the Preston game left for Neal to try and finish top of the Championship pile .

Likewise, the brown and orange has been denied a triumphant farewell. Brentifrd fans were left crying into their beer last night at this devastating news, with Kitman Bob having used Twitter to declare that..

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For all I’m rooting for Neal in the goalscorer stakes, for the purposes of this result I’m pretty sure it was Sergi Canos on 7(seven) minutes who got this one. That said, it was @OllieW3BB on Twitter who probably wins the BBGiveaway this time around. His own shout for the time of the first goal deserving of more than a few ‘likes’ – something which at least one person seemed to appreciate.

Ollie: If my maths is right, the 8493rd min!!! Almost 6 days after KO 😂😂😂     

Kitman Bob: deserves a training top at least !!!

As for Brentford, like it or not as to how this happened we’re now up to 12th. I still say we would have won, regardless, and the point been Brentford’s had the game taken place on pitch.

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Brentford have won away?

If nothing else, The Trotters visit back in December brought about a most telling exchange in our house between Mrs. Bruzon and five year old Harry.

Rachel: “They won!! Does that mean the jinx is off and I can come back to football?”

Harry: “No mummy. Bolton were so bad that even if you’d been here Brentford would still have won”

Recent form and the current situation suggest nothing had changed on that front. Instead, we’re now in a position where, in theory, 10th place is still available. for that to happen we not only need to beat Preston on Sunday (something which is by no means a given) but also rely on favours. Including a win for Bolton at Nottingham Forest. With morale through the floor, the realist in me just can’t see that happening although I live in hope.

Regardless, our own victory is an essential. Primarily, to end the season on a high but as much to widen the gap over Birmingham City to a potential 13 points. That, an outcome which will please yours truly (at the least) for reasons which have been well documented on these pages and of which Harlee’s ten times better nonsense is only the most recent. Although at least on this day of piss weak ‘jokes’ (Star Wars fans, I’m looking at you) it has brought a smile to my face thinking about his interview and the on-pitch payback. Again. Thinking about their inability to beat us or finish above us. Again.

Roll on Sunday. See you there.

League after game 45

After 45 games, there’s still plenty to play for

Nick Bruzon

Are we going for gold? Black, yellow or brown? Kitman Bob drops huge clue in Twitter strip tease.

3 May

And then things started to happen. The EFL have named the date on which the game between Bolton and Brentford will be played. Supposedly. This Tuesday, the same evening that our B team host Manchester City and so there goes the chance to play the kids as had been widely touted. Elsewhere, social media proved king once more as Kitman Bob started answering fan questions about next season’s kit, dropping some pretty big clues in the process.

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Has Bob started pointing the way to 2019/20?

First up, Bolton. The game is supposedly going to happen this Tuesday in the deadzone between the season ending and the play-offs starting. It clashes with our own fixture at home to Manchester City B – always a big draw – whilst also means casual fans will now find themselves further torn as any hopes for a clear run to see Barcelona complete their Champions League rout against Liverpool now have some serious competition. Messi or Maupay ? Sergi or Suarez? I know, I know.

Except, of course, I still can’t see how the game will go ahead. The EFL ‘demanding’ it is one thing but even their own statement notes that, “The Board also discussed the potential of Bolton Wanderers being placed into Administration and took the view if that was to happen, the EFL would not insist the game be played.” They go on to add that “we would advise all supporters to wait until the details for the game are confirmed by the Club before making any travel arrangements”. Meanwhile Brentford official have also advised that they “Will continue to update fans on all issues surrounding this game as often as possible in the coming days.

So clear as mud, then. The game will take place this Tuesday (it is now Friday). Except the advice from the EFL is that it might not and supporters shouldn’t make any arrangements as yet. A situation more farcical given there’s no train home after the game finishes (unless you want to hang around until 1am for the bus to Manchester and the 5 o’clock service to London) . Virgin rail and hotels are expensive enough as it is, let alone when you have to book at a moment’s notice.

Would this even allow the club time to lay on supporters’ coaches?  Would health and safety / policing allow for a game to be set up at short notice? More so one which may not even happen. What about the players who should now be on well -earned breaks? There will be more to follow, no doubt, including what I still expect to be an award of three points to Brentford.

On to matters more appealing, Twitter was awash with talk of next season’s kit yesterday. Something further compounded by EFL Championship supporter of the year, 98 year old Audrey Baker, gifting our Junior Bees an embroidered gold scarf in her role as patron of the Junior membership schemes. It is a most generous and timely present, moreso given our own recent recognition as a gold standard family club. These are smart as and I’m seriously tempted to get the ‘Jimmmy Krankie’ costume from out of the special cupboard in order to try and blag one of the white and gold beauties on Sunday.

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What a gesture for our young fans

Yet as well as being a wonderful gift, it got fans wondering if this was a hint as to next season’s away colour scheme. Moreso when Kitman Bob started doing what he only he can do – going rogue on Twitter (in the nicest possible sense).

He had already told us that our 2019/20 effort would promise “New vibes and old skool” (although was that home, away or both?) whilst the release date could be imminent given, “I think there is an agreement to announce it a few days after the Preston game. “

Then Audrey did the scarf thing and that was it. Bob did what only he, Brentford and Matthew Benham can get away with – chucking out clues into cyberspace and even offering fans a choice of an easy, medium or hard one. Name me any other club or kitman that does this? I love it. Moreso, when the tease offered up to supporters seemed, at first glance, eminently gettable. Or should that be Eminemly gettable? :

Let’s start with a easy-clue then. Famous US Rapper had a massive hit with this.😁😁😁

Get in. I’ve solved this one already. Quite possibly. The clue in the scarf is there already. It has to be Kanye West – Gold Digger. Surely?

Or does it? Bob appeared to pour cold water on that speculation.  “White gold. Kitmans nightmare !  Gold is nice though 😀” . A double bluff or something that is being ruled out purely on cleanliness grounds?

Moving on, Wiz Khalifa – Black and Yellow – seemed the popular consensus. It makes sense for so many reasons and has always been popular. Who could forget the Bathroom shopfront  launch of our 2011-12 beauty whilst I’m still a sucker for the version worn on the road in our first Championship campaign after promotion.

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We’ve got good form here .

Then it hit me. People have missed the obvious one. Hidden in plain sight. We all love the Jaffa Cake kit. All of us. How about more of the same? It’s so obvious when you think about it. DJ Khaled – Brown paper Bag. YESSS!!!! Another season of the brown / orange or similar. It was a fact fact further, definitely compounded by Bob’s subsequent musing “Why has everyone gone for Wiz 🤔🤔🤔”   .

So there you have it. We’re going brown again. Definitely brown.  Not gold and white or black and yellow.

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Too obvious? Or will it be Wiz?

Yet there was more intrigue thrown out there with the other clue offered out by Bob. Namely that, “There maybe  more than one away kit …..” .

Three kits? Does this mean that, in the final season in our current home, Brentford could be going for something special from the historical locker? We did this before in 2004/05 with the away kit commemorating 100 years at Griffin Park. Perhaps something similar is in the offing? Once can only hope that is the case.

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Something historic this way comes?

Whilst we’re all making educated guesses, ultimately nobody knows for sure. The technical sponsor is still not public knowledge although the kit nerd in me is desperate for Umbro, would love the nostalgia of Hummel and can see the unique situation of personalised shirts that would come with New Balance and their NB logo . No doubt it’ll end up being somebody like Macron, whose latest Stoke City effort is about as safe as they come – with some very unusual collars….

The only way to know for sure will be when the club top brass allow Bob to get his kits out. Come on Mr. Benham. Please, put us out of our misery.

Nick Bruzon

Bolton, Bassini and Bamford make the headlines. Ajax make like Brentford.

1 May

Well that was quite the day. The Bolton – Brentford saga rumbles on. Ajax produced gasps of admiration in the Champions League. As much for their kit as their performance against a Tottenham side who proved to be about as successful at playing football as the EFL are at decision making. And Patrick Bamford of Leeds United has now been charged with “successful deception of a match official“. Just for the record, that being his dive against Aston Villa that saw Anwar El Ghazi red carded (now rescinded) rather than the one against Julian Jeanvier that saw Mr. Stroud award ‘no penalty’ – got to love that finger wag.

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Classic Keith… And turn away then point/wag/raise card

First up, the farce of the game at Bolton. 96 hours on, Brentford are still none the wiser as to if or when the game will take place. Instead, the EFL have granted Laurence Bassini an additional 48 hours to prove he has the funds to take over the club. So how does that work? Without wanting to cast aspersions about the state of his books or the reputation of the former Watford owner, if he doesn’t have it now then how are an extra two days going to make any difference?

Regardless of the outcome, what does that mean for the game that is yet to happen (and won’t, let’s cut to the chase)? The BBC piece on this story notes that “Bassini is confident he can complete the deal and is determined the Brentford fixture will be fulfilled, even if they have to field a team made up of the club’s younger players.” How realistic this is remains to be seen. The one thing we can be sure of is that the game has now been confirmed as not taking place this week – oh, well done EFL. I prostrate myself at the feet of your imperious decision making powers.

In theory, there are an additional four days after Sunday’s season finale when the game could still happen (per EFL regulations) although I’m still unclear as to how this will be the case for all manner of logistical reasons. The least of which being supporters ability to travel, Bolton’s ability to organise a game at short notice, policing, availability of players, willingness of players, which level of actual players might be selected  etc etc etc.

The whole thing is an absolute joke of a farce of a mess of a situation. The game will never happen. It can’t.  An already awful situation at Bolton is now seeing both clubs being made a further mockery of. This is without even mentioning that Bolton are due to travel to Nottingham Forest on Sunday. The mayhem if they strike for that one could tip this over the edge…..

Next up, Ajax. Their 1-0 win at Tottenham last night in the Champions League was incredible. Not just the level of football as that left Spurs flat on their backsides but the kit they wore. Their Regista 18 template looked awfully familiar – did somebody say Jaffa Cakes? If it’s good enough for Ajax then surely it was good enough for The Bees? (He says, deploying the fishing rod emoji).  

Are you Brentford in disguise?  Quite possibly, barring a slight tweak on the colour scheme and the fact that they won away from home.

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Who wears it best? Brentford or Ajax?

Yet the real take away from this was the obvious discussion on Twitter that followed. Specifically, the reaction from Kitman Bob Oteng to one supporter’s desire that we use the Ajax version for ourselves in 2019/20. His reaction, being an intriguing one:

 “Wait till you see next seasons away kit then make your choice 😁.  Not long to go 🐝:”

I’ve heard some very promising things about what we have in store although am yet to see anything ‘official’. However, this has just piqued my already sky high curiosity even further.

With Bob also using Twitter to tell fans that the kit, “Should be announced very soon !” , could this be as soon as the end of the season? Subject to the EFL determining when the end of the season is, of course? Or is that just blind optimism from yours truly? Come on Bob, Mr. Benham et al. Please put us out of our misery and get that reveal out there….

Then, this morning, a further clue has been thrown out there by the main man. Bob making the suggestion that the new shirt is a mix of “New vibes and old skool🤔😉”. What this all means I have no idea but I can’t wait to find out.

Finally, Patrick Bamford. The Leeds player has now been charged following his play acting on Sunday. Whilst the entire footballing community can see he is guilty as charged (the fact the red card has already been reversed telling you all you need to know about the FA’s stance), it does beg the question as to how you can be charged with ‘successful deception’ ? An oxymoron if ever I heard one – see also:  deafening silence or military intelligence.

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Can everyone stop getting shot?

By definition, if you have deceived somebody successfully then you’ve got away with it. Except, of course, he hasn’t. Expect a two game ban and his return in time to see Leeds in the play-offs.

The successful deployment of the fishing rod emoji when the news was announced produced the expected reaction from Leeds United supporters. One, Julian Fortuna (and I can happily say this because he’s family) asking the question :

U know what sergi canos and connor hourihane have in common?… Both got away scot free after video evidence caught them clearly committing acts of violent conduct and going unpunished.   

Two points of order, here Julian. Firstly, the whole point about video evidence is that it gives the authorities time to review the facts in the cold light of day. Allowing correct decisions to be made and due process to follow. No charges were levelled at Canos or Hourihane.

More importantly, the correct answer to the question is actually: Both players have scored against Leeds United this season.

Sadly, I think that may be the last chance we get to see that happen. At least for a season. I’m pretty sure that the Leeds United choke is now over. Marcelo Bielsa will rally his troops for that final play-of push. Leeds United will reach the Premier League. Probably before the EFL make a decision about when the Bolton – Brentford game will be played.

Nick Bruzon

Dear EFL…..For once, put the supporters first and sort this mess out. I dare you.

30 Apr

Come on EFL, sort this nonsense out. Now. The failure to rearrange the Bolton – Brentford game that you cancelled on Friday, with the season due to formally end this Sunday lunchtime, is nothing short of farcical. With Preston due to visit Griffin Park then, it is clear that it cannot take place prior. Instead, we are left in a situation where should a game occur it will be played in the dead zone between the campaign ending and the play-offs starting. A game that nobody wants at this juncture and which nobody will attend. Except, of course, it won’t happen. It is a complete slap in the face (and wallets) of the fans from both clubs aswell as the players – who are left in limbo rather than starting a well-earned holiday. It is a complete demonstration, once again, of the impotence of the footballing authorities when it comes to any sort of decision making process.

Waiting for the EFL to swing into action feels like that episode of The Simpsons when Bart and Skinner are repeatedly searching the night sky in a punishment related amateur astronomy lesson (as you do):

“Six hours nineteen minutes right ascension, fourteen degrees fifty-eight minutes declination……No sighting.

No Sighting.

No Sighting.”

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The EFL look for an answer with no success

There has been nothing. Nothing. No decision just to cancel the game and award us the three points by default. Not that we particular want that with Neal Maupay then denied a final chance to top the Championship goal scoring charts or The Bees missing out on trying to improve our patchy away record. As for Bolton, with the debacle going on there at a senior level, playing a pointless game (no pun intended) is probably the last thing on their minds. Yet, instead, we are all being taken for a ride on the EFL bullshit express. Supporters already out of pocket and likely to be even further so should the game somehow be arranged at a moment’s notice.

But no, I stand corrected. The EFL have done something in public. They have made… a statement. You can read this below

Discussions have continued with Bolton Wanderers, Brentford and other relevant parties throughout the course of the past 48 hours in regards to the rescheduling of last weekend’s Sky Bet Championship fixture. 

 There has been suggestions in the public domain that that the game could potentially take place on Wednesday 1 May 2019. However, Bolton Wanderers has not yet confirmed this will be the case and the EFL will advise via the appropriate channels as soon as a definitive decision is reached. 

 EFL Regulations do provide for any match to be played within four days of the end the normal playing season.

It is one of those which tells you precisely nothing. There is nothing here beyond hot air and waffle. No substance. No answers. No solution. No help. Instead, Thomas Frank doesn’t even know if he should be preparing Brentford for a game with Bolton or a game with Preston. Except he does, because there is no way on this earth that the Bolton game can or will happen. Sadly. And even if it did, what would the EFL do to help supporters? Why has it been left to Brentford to be the ones looking at means of compensating fans who had bought travel tickets and accommodation for Saturday’s no show?

Let’s be clear. Everybody sympathises with the Bolton players. There’s no gripe there. The lack of solution and the lack of help from anybody with the ability to make that call is what is proving to be the ‘challenge’. And that’s the polite word.

I don’t want the game called off for reasons as noted before. Yet given the calendar and the circumstances around this, with little time for either club to prepare an ‘after the lord mayor’s show’ team of players who would rather be on holiday. Of supporters having to find and fund travel to a game that would, surely, end up being played behind closed doors or in the face of a public protest at short notice. Of the complete farce that it would be should this somehow go ahead.

Just put everyone out of their misery now. Please.

Then use the summer to make an informed and considered decision about what, if any, action should be taken. Playing the game won’t keep Bolton up. It won’t propel Brentford to the play-offs. But it will draw a line under this whole sorry mess and put the clubs ,the players and most importantly  the fans out of their misery.

For once, put the supporters first. I dare you.

Bolton Wanderers v Brentford - Sky Bet Football League Championship

It’s just a load of big balls at the EFL and Bolton

 

Nick Bruzon  

Bamford on thin ice after mayhem at Leeds. Brentford in limbo after mayhem at EFL.

29 Apr

What a way to finish the weekend in the Championship. Norwich City are up. Sheffield United are up. Brentford (and Bolton) are in limbo. Leeds United are in the play-offs whilst Patrick Bamford is flat on his arse after being allegedly floored by I don’t know who, or what, exactly in their game with Aston Villa that gave new meaning to the word controversial.

Starting with Brentford, three days on and we still have no idea if or when Saturday’s rearranged game with Bolton will take place. Or with what level of team. Not much else to say there. Everyone, from both sides, gets it. Let’s just hope that for everybody’s sake a resolution can be expedited. Whatever the direction of the eventual decision. Certainly, this morning’s update from ‘Official’ suggested a degree of frustration at the lack of any progress from the EFL.

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Draw your own conclusions

Next up, congratulations Sheffield United. Their promotion was confirmed on Sunday lunchtime as Leeds United could only pick up a point against Aston Villa rather than the win by at least 7(seven) goals which would have kept the race for second place mathematically alive going in to the final round of fixtures. It was the game which had everything that typifies the Elland Road outfit at present.

Accusations of dirty, cheating Leeds. Failure to win (see also Wigan and Brentford). Patrick Bamford going to ground like he’d been shot by a sniper ( see also: Brentford and the Keith Stroud non-penalty decision). Marcelo Bielsa maintaining his dignity and calmness whilst floating serenely atop a sea of madness.

I’ve seen the opening goal numerous times and am still torn. Yes. Kodjia was fouled but the ref never stopped the game. Play the whistle, not the ball is one of football’s most basic tenets. Some Villa players stopped but others continued. Even they weren’t sure . The real flashpoint being Tyler Roberts’ decision to play the ball through after the visitors had slowed up when it looked as though he was going to strike the ball into touch. That was the point when what followed should have been nipped in the bud.

One can well understand the reaction to that pass. It was something which the Sky commentary team described as ‘Disgusting’. Yet the mayhem which followed was even worse as Patrick Bamford went to ground looking like Ahmed El Ghazi had just emptied an entire can of pepper spray into his eyes. Instead, he was subsequently caught by the cameras pulling off an act of fakery that was up there with Ali Dia pretending to be George Weah’s professional footballer cousin. But by then El Ghazi had been shown red and the damage was done.

It did also beg the question as to what would have happened had Keith Stroud been in charge. Having called ‘no penalty’ when Bamford hit the deck against Brentford on Monday, would he have made the same call? Is Bamford more Bambi on ice? Or just the wrong player in the wrong place at the wrong time?

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Bamford and El Ghazi go for it

Regardless, Bielsa once more reigned supreme. Say what you want about Leeds United but he is the absolute boss. Literally and figuratively. As the inevitable chaos ensued, he did what Mr. Attwell  should have done and made sure his team kept the scores level. Albert Adomah was given the freedom of the Leeds defence (on purpose, for once) as he was allowed to run through unchallenged to restore parity.

Bamford may not have had a punch thrown at him but one can only presume he will have the book perform that task today. It was as embarrassing as Rivaldo back in the 2002 World Cup. A shameful, cringeworthy act that only poured more fuel on the fire of Leeds’ reputation.

The one positive to come out of this is Bielsa. Whilst Leeds have missed out, for now, could his persona prove to be the crucial difference once we get to the pressure cooker atmosphere of the play-offs? Moreso if we get the Villa-Leeds final that currently looks as though it could be based on league positions. If Sunday was tasty, just imagine what that one would be like……

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Was there another reason Bamford collapsed

Nick Bruzon

Drastic action at Bolton but great news at Griffin Park. And six years ago today….

27 Apr

What can you say? One has to feel for the Bolton Wanderers players, compelled to take the drastic action which has resulted in the game with Brentford being cancelled by the EFL on Friday evening. On the flip side, there was wonderful news out of Griffin Park yesterday with the news that we  have been voted the best place for families to watch EFL football in London and the second best in the country as a whole. Whilst, of course, it was six years ago today that Doncaster Rovers came to Griffin Park…..

There’s not much to really add on the Bolton story at present. With the players going on strike after not being paid for March, the decision to play the match was taken out of the club’ hands. Given the proximity to the end of the season, one can’t see this one going ahead now and our final road trip of the campaign will, in all probability, end with the game being declared a nominal 0-3 win to the Bees. Unless, of course, Bob tells the EFL that he’s packed the brown and orange. In which case it’ll be a point each.

That said, the EFL have just come out this morning (10.30) and told the club that they need to fulfil their fixtures. Whether , when and how this is feasible remains to be seen, of course.

Nobody comes out of this smiling. The players and supporters up at Bolton have been through the ringer this season. They are a club with nothing but friends in the wider football community and to see them in this predicament is awful. For Brentford, the players and fans have already travelled. More were due to be heading up today. What the league will do about their travel costs I have no idea, although an educated guess suggest naff all. Who cares about fans or players though ? One things for sure, we haven’t heard the last of this and whilst we’re all hoping for a happy conclusion things are not looking good at the moment.

Bolton Wanderers v Brentford - Sky Bet Football League Championship

Good times at Bolton in days gone by

Back in West London, The Bees were yesterday one of just nine clubs to be given an EFL Gold award for family excellence and matchday engagement. The “Outstanding and extraordinary quality of the family experience provided” was specifically noted as we were ranked second best in the entire EFL.

This is just incredible news yet fully deserved. I can vouch first hand for all the great work that has gone on over the years. As a parent myself (did I mention?) the way Harry has been treated and been able to get involved in his five years has been nothing short of extraordinary. Kit shoots. Mascot. Meet the players. Open Days. To name but a few. The constant approachability of staff and players makes being part of the football club seem like second nature. Oh look, there’s Neal Maupay popping into the local curry house for a post Leeds United meal. As you do. And nobody cares because its just the norm for us.

We’ve got #BeeTheAnnouncer. #BeeTheDJ (where love will still tear us apart). The family enclosure and the Bee Block. Buzzette is quite possibly the most engaging of all the EFL mascots and the kids love her. As do the grown ups. I still pray for the day she meets Kinglsey of Partick Thistle.

Quite frankly, if it wasn’t down to the way that the club treats our families and youngsters I wouldn’t be able to go to football. Harry absolutely LOVES it. He has bought into Brentford in a way I could never have envisaged. Mrs Bruzon has bought a season ticked for 2019/20. This is all down to the wonderful atmosphere, the family friendly vibe and the way that everybody from fans to staff to players to chairman to owner makes us all feel so, so welcome. 

Thank you!!! 

The players have always typified the family spirit at Brentford

The players have always typified the family spirit

And finally, it was six years ago today. On a personal note, the ill fated appearance on Soccer AM prior to the Doncaster Rovers game. The nil points in the penalty shoot out game at the end ( a season’s worst, apparently) should have served as a warning. Following that, was the promotion deciding game. Something. Something. Something. Penalty. 

I forget the exact nature of the events that followed. If only somebody had mentioned it. Ever. Still, it would be fair to say that despite the heartbreak that followed at full time, things have worked out for the best in the long term. Not that we knew or felt that back then. It is amazing how time can heal although I’ll never, ever forget the pain of seeing that ball hit the bar. Of hearing the resounding thud of leatherette on woodwork. Of having to watch the subsequent celebrations from the away end. Of seeing The Griffin deserted at full time.

Interestingly, despite the consequent promotion and fall from grace, Doncaster Rovers look like they may be in with a chance of crossing paths with us once more. With just two games to play, they are currently sitting in the final League One play-off place. I’m still hoping Charlton Athletic scoop those particular honours, for reason as previously noted.  However, should Rovers triumph it will set up an intriguing and long awaited chance of getting one back.

I’m already guessing who next season’s final game at Griffin Park will be against….. 

Natalie lines up on Soccer AM

Not even Natalie scored that day

 Nick Bruzon

Last Tango In Brentford ? Or dancing in the streets of Algiers?

8 Mar

Bring on Middlesbrough. Brentford are back in action on Saturday after what has felt a somewhat disjointed week in terms of footballing action. For the interested observers / half & half scarf wearers amongst us, there was the excitement of Manchester United doing their thing in the Champions League as Real Madrid failed to do theirs. Yet for us Bees last weekend’s thumping of QPR now seems as far off as the chances of Fulham staying in the Premier league. Keep up the good work, Scott. That victory over the Loftus Road mob was another emphatic notch in Thomas Frank’s metaphorical bedpost as he made it 7(seven) wins in a row at Griffin Park. Yet the big questions as we head up to the Riverside were whether that form could be replicated on the road this season, would Saïd Benrahma scoop the Championship’s player of the month award for February and is it going to be a case of ‘Au revoir, Yoann Barbet’ ? 

First up, Middlesbrough. If ever there was to be a test of our credentials then here it is. If ever there was to be a question as to whether the play-offs are a genuine aspiration then here it is. The game marks a run of three in two weeks against sides going for promotion. Boro’ are currently in the zone, as are Tuesday night hosts Sheffield United and then next Saturday’s visitors in West Bromwich Albion. It is about as tough a run as we could have served up yet the price for success needs no spelling out with the gap to the top six currently reeled in to eight points.

We all know our Championship record against Middlesbrough doesn’t make great reading. We all know that Brentford playing away from home this season doesn’t take a genius to predict how we’ll perform – regardless of the kit colour we turn out in. Had we been able to translate home form to away then the top flight would be beckoning. So this one will be about as tough as it comes. Moreso given the home sides’s miserly defence. Thomas Frank used his press conference to note that “I can only praise Tony Pulis (for Boro’s defensive record) because it’s fantastic.

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Thomas celebrates at home. Away would be wonderful !!

Indeed it is. Sadly. Only 24 goals have been conceded in 34 league games. Yet there are positives to be taken, too. Firstly, past form counts for nothing. Brentford may not have beaten Boro’ since our paths have crossed in this division but that was then and this is now. Players change and the squad we have now is not the one it was then. Results from seasons gone by count for nothing more than statistical niceties / horror shows (delete as applicable). Believing they are anything more is akin to suggesting that the colour of our away kit dictates performance. Jinx shirts? Never heard such nonsense. Move along now. Nothing to see here. 

The other topic of conversation that came up in Thomas’s ’ press conference was that of Yoann Barbet. His contract is up at the end of the season and the word on the terrace is that he won’t be staying. Which would be tragic given his relative longevity at Griffin Park, his popularity, his versatility and the role in our new look defence that he has made his own. If ever there was a player who embodied that cliche about cutting them open to discover that they bleed red & white / brown & orange it is Yoann.

So when pushed on the point yesterday the answer was one which suggested the clock is ticking and farewell collections are going around the changing room. Thomas has been quoted as saying :”We know that Yoann is very popular among the fans. He is very popular among the staff too. He has done very well in the back three. He is a player that we would like to keep at the club but there needs to be two to tango”.

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View from the Braemar – Yoann sums up the spirit in the Bees camp

We all know the club model. That players come and go – especially if valuations are met. New talent emerges to replace that which has departed. Contracts may not necessarily be offered or, certainly, at the level asked for. Nobody knows for sure what is happening here but the words from the club suggest the ball is in the player’s court. Whether it is one he wants to pick up remains another thing.

Personally, I’ve heard a lot of terrace talk (conjecture rather than the much lamented matchday video feature) and of course, have no idea what is true. So it doesn’t get published. Do we take the club’s words at face value? Would Yoann want to stay? How hard do we fight? Or is this simply part of the ongoing cycle of players coming in, impressing and eventually moving on. Whatever happens, you can absolutely bet he’ll be giving his all until the end of the season. And hopefully beyond.

The final news heading in to the Boro’ game was that of the monthly EFL awards. There was genuine surprise when Saïd Benrahma wasn’t even nominated for January’s player of the month prize following a quite magnificent start to 2019.

As such, there were belated plaudits when he was named on the shortlist for February’s award earlier this week. Surely this time the honours would be Saïd’s?

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View from the Braemar – Saïd is as popular with the fans as Yoann

Sadly not, as it transpired this morning. The club breaking the news on twitter (below) although there’s still a chance to sweep our man to some deserved glory. The chance to vote for him to scoop ‘goal of the month’ is still available, if you follow the link. Whilst he’s up against some divisional rivals with huge fan bases, as Ajax proved at Real Madrid this week it isn’t always the biggest club that wins. Whatever they may expect. So go on – get voting.

Then onwards and upwards to Middlesbrough.

Nick Bruzon 

QPR visit is time to get the arousal level up (although hopefully not the ref).

2 Mar

Let’s draw a discreet veil about what happened midweek. Brentford went down 2-0 at Sheffield Wednesday after what has been reported all round as somewhat of a horror show of a performance. Our neighbours, on the other hand, arrested a run of form that had seen them lose 7(seven) league games on the bounce after getting one over Leeds United at Loftus Road. Well done there. That recent set of results has now been tweaked to read: LLLLLLLW . 

And we can now chuck all of that out of the window. It’s derby day. West London, as opposed to Frank Lampard’s County (TM) . Queens Park Rangers visit Griffin Park in a game that is a must win. Not so much for the chance to put further clean air between us and the not so super hoops as the opportunity to continue a fine home record against our neighbours from the other end of the the 237 bus route.

Last season saw us triumph 2-1 thanks to Sergi and Flo Jo. The year before it was 3-1 as Jota ran riot. 2015/16 saw us take the honours 1-0 in front of the Sky cameras courtesy of Marco Djuricin. The big question now being if Brentford can make to four on the bounce whilst, at the same time, wiping the memory of the return encounter earlier in the season where that ten minute blip just after half-time meant a less than happy afternoon spent in the environs of White City.

SWIFT Brentford QPR

Results at home to QPR have been stunning in recent seasons

The short answer to that one is ‘Yes.’ Being blunt. Even allowing for the reversal of league fortune suffered by both teams during the week, I’m still going into this one buoyant. Leeds United were clearly suffering from an ‘off day’, as was evidenced last night when West Brom took an absolute hammering. 4-0 that one finished and I’ve no doubt Thomas Frank will have Brentford producing a similar reaction.

Our home form has been blistering in recent weeks. The performance against Aston Villa was magnificent whilst to put five goals past both Hull City and blackburn Rovers has made it a quite incredible February.  The form of Saïd Benrahma has been electrifying whilst Neal Maupay was named as EFL player of the year the other night at the London football awards.

Besides, if you can’t get yourself up for this match then what’s the point?  There’s a great quote from Thomas on the BBC website in their match preview, where he notes that: “We know it is a massive game for the fans and the club. Griffin Park will be bang on it…..it is one of these games where I feel the same tension as the Brondby-Copenhagen derbies in Denmark, where you don’t have to say much to the players as the arousal level is up there.”

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Wonderful news for Neal, midweek

The arousal level is certainly up there at home. I love this game. I sit next to a Rangers’ fan at work whilst HB has been telling everyone from his school friends to Chairman Cliff Crown (after a chance encounter yesterday)  about the forthcoming visit from Quarter Pound of Rubbish. No idea where he picked up that from – the things they must say at football club or in the schoolyard. 

It promises to be a fierce encounter. One to set the pulse racing and the blood pumping. One where fans from both sides will be doing all they can to push their team on and remind the officials about the rules of the game (I’m looking at you, Braemar Road linesman). One where tempers could threaten to boil over in the heat of the moment and the passion of the occasion . So the great news is that the EFL have named Keith Stroud as our man in the middle….

We all know Keith of old. The battle of Bramall Lane can never be forgotten. The soul destroying flourish of a red card with all the authority of a picked upon school kid granted immunity from the bully by virtue of his prefect badge. The infamous penalty incident  at Newcastle United where he disallowed a goal for the Magpies and awarded an indirect free kick to Burton rather than allow it to be retaken after encroachment.

That one seemed to be the death knell of his career but he’s been back this season – officiating 20 games where, stat check, Keith has only shown two red cards and averaged 3.5 yellows. Somewhat restrained compared to his former reputation. Could we see a mellower version in action this afternoon? Or will he be performing his one man Clintons’ tribute show?

Roll on 3pm when we find out. See you there.

Keith Stroud montage

Which Keith will we get today?

Nick Bruzon

Hearty updates from the club top table as head coach news is absorbed.

12 Oct

With the shockwaves of Dean Smith’s departure from Brentford for Aston Villa still reverberating around Griffin Park, the timing was ideal for Thursday night’s ‘Fan Forum’. Sitting at the top table were chief executive Mark Devlin and Chairman Cliff Crown alongside co-directors of football Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen. As ever, Peter Gilham remained in-situ as MC. Directing questions from the floor in a two part event – the first half being dedicated to football matters and then the second looking at all things ‘Lionel Road’.

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Pass the mic

So what did we learn? Should fans be worried about Dean’s move to Aston Villa? Is there any news on the replacement name for the head coach role as yet?

Rasmus opened proceedings, noting “I’m sure you’ve seen the news…” and with that setting the tone for what was, as ever, an open session with no subject deemed taboo. He went on to add that “Brentford is not a one man band. It is a football club that has a strategy.” He emphasised the point by explaining how he reminded the players that Dean being approached was a complement to them. To Brentford. That we are more than just one person.

And he’s right. The togetherness and good wishes on social media when the news broke showed our fondness towards Dean. But as much as anything else, perhaps a corner having been turned in regards to widespread acceptance of how Brentford football club works these days. That we all presume the club will replace from within and Thomas Frank step up. That we all trust the decisions being made.

On the subject of Dean’s replacement, Phil explained how “Are we starting from scratch today? More or less, yes….We’d like to see it as an opportunity to improve.”

For Rasmus, it was as much about being open minded. The main thing being to find someone who fits our structure. Who is able to execute our strategy.

For me, and many others, the longer term concern being Dean Smith waving the Aston Villa chequebook at us in January. Phil was clear that, of course, there is nothing to stop them making offers but we are not duty bound to accept. He was unequivocal about the situation in regards to a promotion push, saying that “If we are in the top six in January we won’t be selling players….If we’ve a high likelihood of getting promoted we’d be very reluctant to sell.”

There was, from memory, a caveat about astronomical offers but the message on this front was an extremely positive one. Albeit one that hinges on us being in contention at that juncture. With over two months until that window opens that’s a long way to go.

Cliff was asked about ticket prices at Elland Road, a seemingly annual bone of contention and one felt throughout the Championship. His diplomatic reply, and one has to also recognise it was probably bound by his role on the EFlL board, was that they were doing nothing wrong. That all we can do is protect the fans and ensure they are not being charged more than home supporters – as the EFL rules dictate.

Peter Gilham came up with the suggestion of a £42 block in the corner of one home stand whilst Mark Devlin spoke about the potential of reciprocal pricing. Of exploring whether groups of clubs would be prepared to charge the same for each others ‘away’ support. This could then be proposed to the EFL .

Either way, not a subject that is going to go away (pun intended) anytime soon. However, with the FSF still pushing ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ I’m sure that drum will keep on being banged.

And so the single most important matter of the night. Kit. After a passionate plea from the floor about the desire to leave our current supplier, Mark confirmed that “We are unlikely to be with Adidas next season”. That on talk of the stripes and home shirt in general we were given a disappointing option. Likewise, other clubs he had spoken to – Sheffield United and Sunderland were mentioned- felt exactly the same.

Interestingly, Mark also added that whilst it was something we were talking about and looking at ways of getting around, plain backs are often preferred by not only the media but also the players. There was no talk of brown/orange.

An update on the injury front was provided. Rico Henry will be in full contact training next week with the hope of B-team games next month. Emiliano Marcondes has an ongoing foot injury that we’re struggling to get to the bottom of.

The final two points from the opening session were the Premier League and Midtjylland. On the former, was it feasible that should promotion be achieved our final season at Griffin Park could host Premier League football? Mark was very open on this.

Whilst we are miles away from being fully compliant with top flight regulations, and that proposals needed to be submitted in January, he was hopeful a middle ground could be reached. Specially given the clear work being done to build a fully functioning Premier League stadium at Lionel Road. As such, any deal to stay at Griffin Park in the top flight would only be for one season. Even then, it would cost £2-3million to do what we could but it would be our absolute priority to stay if at all possible.

Finally, FC Midtjylland. Matthew Benham’s other club. A friendly was requested from the floor and Rasmus replied explained how “We need to know who is the best team.”

The proposal was to look at doing something during an International break although, personally, I can only see that time as hampering The Bees given the 12-13 cap winners we now have on our books at all levels of the club.

What a nice problem to have!

More was covered over the ‘football’ half of the session but these seemed the main discussion points. A prior commitment meant at home meant the ‘stadium’ half was missed although no doubt social media / Brentford ‘official’ will have all you need on that.

It only remains to thank the club for their time. Likewise, to appreciate how lucky we are being given the opportunity to challenge, to ask, to question on such a regular basis. Long may it continue.

Nick Bruzon