Tag Archives: Europa League

I’m glad I support Brentford rather than one big fish in a rapidly stagnating pond. And Dean speaks

5 Jul

Football is slowly waking up. This time last year, we were talking about Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar beating Celtic 1-0 in the Champions League qualifiers. Quite possibly the most embarrassing results in Scottish football history (to add to an already long list) yet last night they were equalled by fellow Glasgow side Rangers when the fourth best team in Luxembourg, part timers Progrès Niederkorn, knocked them out of Europe. And closer to home, Brentford boss Dean Smith has been up in front of the Sky sports cameras.

Ordinarily these pages wouldn’t look at the Scottish game but Rangers have held a bit of a fascination in recent years, given the circumstances which saw former Brentford boss Mark Warburton both join and leave the Ibrox club. “You walk around the stadium, the first time for me this morning, and you smell the history” he said upon becoming their manager in June 2015.

I’m sure this morning they’ll be smelling something rather different North of the border and Warbs will be very pleased with his decision to resign prior to joining Nottingham Forest. Internet bookmaker PaddyPower have already declared Celtic as league Champions prior to a ball being kicked although, to be fair, most bookies have them as 1/9 on at best to lift that particular silverware.

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Other bookmakers are also available

For all the ongoing talk about these two ‘giants’ of Scottish football joining the English Premier League, the totally one sided nature of their domestic league along with results such as those against Progrès or Lincoln show how out of touch they sadly are these days. A point made all the more apparent as after limping past the Gibraltarians last season, Celtic then endured complete capitulation in the group stages, failing to reach the Europa League whilst also suffering a 7(seven) goal bracketing.

Winning at home is nice, but to watch such consistently uncompetitive football must become a somewhat soul destroying affair. Where’s the genuine competition? Where’s the excitement? What’s the point when you win your league by a country mile or get kicked off the park the moment the competition hots up a bit. With your closest historical rival a shadow of their former selves, it really gives off the impression of going through the motions. Give me the Championship any day of the week.

Which is why the return to our own league campaign cannot come soon enough. Nobody could claim this division is one sided. Anything but, with Newcastle United’s title win going right down to the wire last season whilst Brentford have claimed more than their fair share of illustrious scalps over the last three campaigns. Three top ten finishes have surprised more than a few people outside of TW8 (most notably Ian Holloway) and I’m desperate for us to give this division another try.

The good news is that the Bees are now back in training and yesterday, ‘official’ released a video of head coach Dean Smith talking to Sky Sports News.

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Dean Smith spoke to Sky

In the interview, which you can see below, Dean sounds über positive. He talks about having had lots of fresh ideas and sharing our own sentiments that its good to be back after a long break. He has confirmed his top six aspirations along with a desire to keep hold of last seasons squad. Moreso given our strong finish to the campaign.

Then, somewhat randomly, the interview changes tack with the second half being taken up with a discourse on penalties. The recent England – Germany U-21 game. Dean Smith’s philosophy on penalty taking. As a player and as a head coach. It went on. I was half expecting him to be quizzed on Marcello Trotta.

A shame really,, as this was a somewhat wasted opportunity from Sky to dig into our plans, our set up and mindset. To find out how Dean has continued the great work already done by Warbs, Lee Carsley and, of course, the team behind the team.

A missed opportunity?

Then again, I’m more than happy being the underdog. Being that unfancied, under the radar team. Catching the likes of Leeds United, Derby County, Aston Villa, Mr Holloway et al with their pants down.

Nobody can deny the likes of Rangers and Celtic have huge stadiums, even bigger fan bases and plenty of historical honours. Likewise that Griffin Park is still only a 12,000 capacity ground with a trophy cabinet that is emptier than Arsenal’s.

But who wants to be the one big fish in a rapidly stagnating pond of tadpoles? A fish that gets gobbled up the moment any invasive species appears from the continent. The Championship, and beyond, is where it’s all at. Where the real action happens. Where real football takes place.

It’s July 5th. This time next month proceedings begin in anger with out trip to Sheffield United. I really cannot wait. It promises to be even bigger and better than ever before.

Nick Bruzon

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The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees win, Liverpool draw with West Ham and Kingsley is back. A week in football (Europe special).

11 Dec

Brentford got back to winning ways after despatching Burton 2-1 despite the best efforts of referee David Coote. Newcastle United and Brighton traded places at the top of the table, twice, as Dwight Gayle’s hat trick saw him move a further goal ahead of our own brace grabbing Scott Hogan. Nottingham Forest’s derby defeat to, erm, Derby saw the Bees climb an additional place to 15th on Sunday via the medium of goal difference whilst art the bottom it’s as you were. Cardiff City, Wigan Athletic and Rotherham United occupy the relegation spots although the Millers did, at least, have the pleasure of beating QPR. Stop. Sniggering.

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest edition of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

This week it’s a European special although, of course, we start with Brentford. With new co assistant head coach Thomas Frank joining in the week, was the win down to him?

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Perhaps. Although captain Harlee Dean was quick to recognise his team mates. How much better to read this sort of thing rather than any ‘going again’?

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Before kick off, this faith wasn’t shared by all. Careful, they’ll remember you.

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And it wasn’t just the musical choice that was causing some supporters pain.

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But in our last game before Christmas, those three points were all that mattered. There was a festive vibe before kick off and one that was matched at half time as supporters crowded a forecourt that remains dominated by that beautiful tree. Great work to all at the club for what really is a wonderful centrepiece.

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Hats off to Beesotted for a clip that needs no other words, beyond…..Push Up, Brentford.

And as our penultimate Bees related thought, those of you with a yearning for all things Spanish may want to look away now. Please, come back…..

From Eibar, further into Europe. In Portugal, Benfica have officially killed football.

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In Germany, Manuel Neuer has officially killed fashion.

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In the Champions league, Spurs limped into the Europa places whilst Leicester City had a familiar face between the sticks as they went down 5-0 to Porto.

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Still, that didn’t stop them humping Manchester City 4-2 on Saturday night. Well done to the Foxes although perhaps City still had their minds on a shocking incident that occurred as they played the dead rubber against Celtic.

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North of the border, Celtic may be running away with the title but that doesn’t stop the rest of Scotland having an awful lot more fun. The kings of football Twitter, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, were back and as ever the club remain happy to wade in on any subject.

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Meanwhile Kingsley, the unchallenged mascot heavyweight champion of the world, was back. Twice. Oh Buzzette, if only your paths could cross….

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kingsley

 

Back home in the Championship, hapless Fulham were doing what the do best. Being hapless.

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Massimo Cellino at Leeds has been found guilty of something again. And banned. Again.

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Whilst Norwich City legend Darren Huckerby has hit Twitter with some hime truths.

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At Old Trafford, Manchester United did something unheard of in footballing circles. They won a game. Yer prior to kick off, manager Jose Mourinho had been displaying all the seasonal goodwill of Scrooge.

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Later on, he went down like he’d been shot. That, or his Peter Crouch robot dance really needs more work.

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Liverpool were also in action on Sunday, against West Ham, in a game that was dominated by the goalkeepers.

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Although perhaps events prior to kick off had affected both teams. For Liverpool, an opportunity very much missed.

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For West Ham, David Gold’s lack of pop culture was apparent to all.

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We finish with a double helping of Moose. Ian, that is. He had an old friend in tow on Saturday.

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But, as ever, we close with his birthday friend of the week. Which of Ian’s good friends from the world of football did the Talksport DJ wish happy birthday to, via the medium of a Twitter post and picture of them together?

This week: former Bee Les Ferdinand

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Nick Bruzon

As one door closes, another opens

14 May

Friday was a day of both sadness and celebration. On the down side, shocked fans and families were coming to terms with the announcement about the Brentford Academy ‘restructure’ .The positive of the day, certainly on a personal note, was the admission of Gibraltar (along with Kosovo) into FIFA. On pitch, Sergi Canos could make a shock Liverpool debut whilst it is advantage Sheffield Wednesday in their Championship play-off with Brighton.

First up, the Academy. Today’s column is not to criticise the club for this decision. Putting aside the huge emotional aspect for the individuals involved, one can only assume this isn’t one that they have taken lightly. Or at least, I hope not.

The Academy was much heralded as part of our future model upon opening. It was a set up that, rightly, all at Brentford FC  seemed proud of. The supporters and community, likewise.

And now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, it is all over.

Having read and re-read the somewhat wooly ‘official statement’ I’m still not 100% clear as to the full reasoning or, certainly, why it was made so quickly. Likewise, how the alternative will work in terms of finding players?

Cost, lack of end product, viability, competition and a belief that alternate methods will work better all seem to be contributory with the financials being the primary driver on that first part. Certainly if you are to read lines such as :

We cannot outspend the vast majority of our competitors

and

Moreover, the development of young players must make sense from a business perspective. The review has highlighted that, in a football environment where the biggest Premier League clubs seek to sign the best young players before they can graduate through an Academy system, the challenge of developing value through that system is extremely difficult.”

So what has suddenly changed?

There wasn’t a hint of a mention when Rasmus gave his ‘state of the nation’ video address prior to the Huddersfield Town game. Likewise, as has been well identified on social media, the club even paraded some ‘future Bees’ on the pitch at half time in the 3-0 win over Fulham. That was just two weeks ago.

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Hindsight is a wonderful thing

I cannot for one second believe we would be so heartless as to do that to our youth. Whilst the parade of the Under 8-s has an unfortunate reminder of Marinus being put in front of the fans where we were told everything was going well, before being sacked just days later, this leak (along with the subsequent statement) has more than a whiff of Village-gate.

Equally, how do the press get hold of these internal stories? Why are our ‘official statements’ so poorly written? Is somebody purposely leaking this information to do our dirty work for us and, almost, prepare fans for the worst ?

Like it or not, this is a decision the club have made. I’m just desperately hoping that we have some form of follow up to further clarify matters. The press love a ‘bad news’ story whilst supporters are upset. As Bob Hoskins so famously said, “It’s good to talk“.

OK – Gibraltar. Exciting news !! UEFA’s Team 54 are now Team 211 in FIFA after football’s world governing body last night accepted their application to join by an overwhelming majority. Members at the annual congress in Mexico City (it’s never Blackpool or Grimsby) voted 172 – 12 to allow them in. Presumably 11 others going (again) with Spain in voting ‘against’.

Understandably , if not quite “dancing on the streets of Raith” , social media was awash with excitement, celebration and congratulations for FIFA’s newest member. Whilst there is now hope that Gibraltar can be parachuted into one of the World Cup qualifying groups for Russia 2018 before that kicks off, I’m just pleased to have a ‘feel good’ story coming out of FIFA.

Congratulations Gibraltar. Here’s to that first qualifying point. See you in ……?

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Gibraltar have packed their boots to start life as FIFA team 211.

And on the subject of ‘feel good’, could Sergi Canos make his Anfied debut on Sunday as the Premier League season comes to an end? With Liverpool taking part in the Europa League final against Sevilla on Wednesday evening, I’d imagine that Jürgen Klopp may make ‘a couple’ of changes for the weekend’s game with West Brom.

I’m still desperately hoping that Sergi comes back to Griffin Park next season (one can only live in hope) but I’d love to see how he goes in the top flight. It was a privilege to watch Sergi’s career blossom at Griffin Park and he certainly ended the season on fire. The Premier League title and relegation have been decided but there may still be more intrigue to come.

Next up, Sheffield Wednesday. They lead Brighton 2-0 after the first leg of their play-off semi final. I only know that from reading the Internet. Having  turned on to watch after Coronation Street had finished (don’t ask) I turned promptly off.

Being greeted by ‘That band’ massacring ‘Oldham’s song’ will do that to you.

This summer’s  EURO 2016 finals could make painful viewing.

And finally, a HUGE thanks to all those who have so far downloaded both the Last Word ‘season review’ (Ready. Steady. Go Again) aswell as the three year anthology (The Bees are going up). These are both available now.

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Goal of the season winner Sergi (and Gibraltar) both feature

Nick Bruzon

Aim for the head and don’t miss. That was unexpected!

11 Mar

Well that was a busy day. With Brentford about to take on local rivals QPR, watching last night’s Europa League clash between Liverpool and Manchester United was a clear demonstration of just what a derby means and how teams approach it. Closer to home, there can’t be a single person in TW8 who hasn’t seen the ‘BIG’ reveal from Beesotted that we talked about yesterday – namely their exclusive interview with Matthew Benham.

But I’ll start, briefly, at Anfield where despite an abject season Liverpool somehow found their self belief , passion and ability (on and off the field) to batter an inconsequential Manchester United side 2-0. But for Red Devils ‘keeper David de Gea, the game could have been out of sight by half time and, certainly, the home side can feel slightly aggrieved to have ‘only’ won by a couple of goals. United were too shambolic to even post in a performance and a rampant Liverpool took advantage of this to remind us that thirty years ago they used to be quite good in Europe. More importantly, that there’s no finer feeling for players or fans than getting one over your arch-rivals.

So can Brentford replicate the same on Saturday? Will QPR have taken note themselves? Are the Bees’ supporters ready to raise the roof? This is the game that matters more to most fans than probably any other in the regular calendar – a chance to take on our chief adversaries in their own back yard. There may only be three points on offer from the league but the chance to win bragging rights is far greater than any trophy or rise up the table. As Man U learned last night, failure to realise this can be catastrophic.

I’ve already talked on these pages about what a win would mean. I’m not going to overly regurgitate that beyond simply reminding Brentford fans (as if any reminder were needed) just how incredible it felt to beat Fulham in their own back yard last season. That 4-1 humping was, for many, THE moment of the last campaign. Oh, to even be half that good on Saturday.

If Brentford fans were in need of a further boost going into the game then Matthew Benham and Beesotted have certainly provided one with their exclusive interview. Given how private Matthew is when it comes to talking in public about the Bees, this interview was as open and honest as it was unexpected. And boy was it welcome.

Club comms, or lack of, have been high on the agenda in this column all season and so it was great to finally hear the man at the top give such an honest insight into what has happened so far this season, what hasn’t gone to plan, his own thoughts on the management aswell as aspirations for the summer.

Well done to the Beesotted team for their role in such a conversation taking place. That it can even happen in this environment rather than what would have been perceived as the sanitised approach of a chat with the likes of Chris Wickham or Mark Chapman (no offence) was a very clever, and reassuring, move.

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We’ve all read it. We’ve all analysed it. We’ve mostly (if feedback is to be believed on social media) been impressed by it. A lot of time was taken to probing Matthew, Billy Reeves style, in regards to transfer activity – both those who have left and what will happen over the summer. Likewise, he gives his own take on the head coach situation that has evolved over the campaign whilst noting now that, “I’m really, really happy with Dean”.

I’m not going to deny I’ve had a lot of questions in regards to goings on at the club this season. On and off field. I’m not alone in this. That said, I’m much more comfortable that none other than Matthew himself has taken the time to speak to Billy and Dave in order to try and give his perspective. Great work all round and thank you. More of this would go down very well indeed.

As a final thought, one point that did confuse me slightly was Matthew’s observation in regards to recruitment. Namely that, “No matter how many times we tell people that we also scout players traditionally, that we spend a lot of time watching players, it will come back that we just use maths. It’s become like a zombie that we can’t kill. But what can you do, eh?

Matthew – you may be a statistical genius, an all round good guy, club owner and the man who has given Brentford the means to look at being an established Championship side with a new home on the horizon. But surely everyone knows how to kill a zombie?

Firearms , sporting goods, explosives, heavy machinery. Aim for the head. And don’t miss!

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surely everybody knows?

Nick Bruzon

All to play for but is an upset on the cards?

26 Feb

Brentford travel to Rotherham United on Saturday, hoping to build on the back of Tuesday night’s 3-0 stroll against Wolves. After a day in which the postponement of our trip to Hull City AFC (thanks to their FA cup replay with Arsenal) and an end to the fascination with all things FCM (thanks to Manchester United remembering how to score goals) were the main talking points for many Bees fans, it’ll be good to have a match to focus on once more.

So, Rotherham . The Championship table doesn’t lie and the Millers now find themselves in a bottom three who are already six points, and inferior goal difference, adrift of an MK Dons side occupying the final safe berth. A gap of what is effectively 7(seven) points will be hard enough to reel in at the best of times, let alone when you are on a miserable run of form and with only 13 games to go. Something will need to change pretty quickly or they’ll be digging out the maps for next season’s trip to Accrington Stanley.

Which makes me wary about Saturday. Not so much for us but more the mind state of the opposition. Dean Smith’s team reminded us against Wolves just how well they can play when allowed to run at their opposition and take the ball forwards. Sergi Canos, Ryan Woods, Alan Judge and John Swift (see, it wasn’t a typo in Wednesday’s article) were excellent and I’d love to see more of the same. Then again, we were playing a Wolves team who seemed to have replaced their entire midfield with a colander.

Surely there’s no chance we’ll get similar opposition in successive games? Instead, one can only imagine Rotherham are already approaching that last chance saloon and will want to turn around before they start drinking.

As such, expect dogged resistance from a side who last won in early January (albeit against Brighton) and haven’t scored in three games. I have no doubt Neil Warnock will be asking his team to come flying out of the traps at us although, equally, I have no doubt that if we can see out that early storm then the Bees can sweep to a fourth consecutive Championship win over a side we’ve beaten 2-0, 1-0 and 2-1 since we both got promoted from League 1.

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Are Rotherham approaching the bar? And League 1?

The home game at Griffin Park this time around was one punctuated with three stunning goals, including a brace for Alan Judge.

I’ve had to remind myself just how good the first was whilst, let’s not forget, he even popped up with one on his head for the winner. More of the same would do very nicely and, however we get there, is the score I’m calling for tomorrow. Confidence is a massive thing in football and with Dean Smith’s team surely full of it, we should be too good for a team whose next three games are against top 6 teams and that my online bookmaker (reference purposes only) shows as 1/8 on to go down.

Alan Judge – his first minute opener was THAT good !

Yesterday’s other talking point was the postponement of the Hull game, originally scheduled for March 8th, due to their ongoing FA Cup involvement with Arsenal. This was an inevitable casualty of the fixture list as soon as the original tie ended 0-0 and will be a source of frustration to many.

Good luck to them. I’d love it for us to be the ones having to cancel games and moreso after our third round capitulation to Walsall back in January.

That was a dreadful performance from the Bees and one which, if you recall, saw us suffer the further indignity of that strange half time ‘lap of honour’ from FCM following the news they’d drawn Manchester United in the Europa League.

How good if we could have made headway in that competition (FA cup, not Europa league) rather than match last season’s home defeat at the first hurdle? Maybe next year but, until then, I’ll certainly wish good luck to our Championship rivals in the replay.

Which brings me full circle back to last night. Thankfully, Brentford ‘official’ have listened and scaled back the Midtjylland tub-thumping to zero. Twitter and the official site were both silent before, during and after the game. It marks a refreshing change in the media/comms team and was probably no bad thing as the Danes saw their ‘cup final’ end in a 5-1 second leg defeat.

Cup football is a hotbed of upsets. If even Manchester United can get a win then maybe Arsenal could end up getting dumped too. It would certainly take the sting off our own postponement if that were to happen.

Although, perhaps, lay off the Griffin Park laps of honour.

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Alan Judge – goals and set plays against Rotherham last time out

Nick Bruzon

Manchester United in Europe and Dean Smith dominate Derby build up

19 Feb

With Brentford preparing to take on Derby County this weekend, Dean Smith was in buoyant mood at yesterday’s press conference. There was more from the club’s ‘phone a fan’ scheme where Alan Judge was in the hotseat and, of course, European football has been at the forefront of our attention with Manchester United, amongst others, making the news.

But I wanted to start with a few quotes from Dean’s press conference in regards to the Derby game. The Bees recent form of nil points, no goals, 7(seven) against from the games with Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday isn’t great. But for those who think we are in free fall, spare a thought for our opponents.

A change in manager wasn’t enough to reverse the fortunes of a team who have lost four and drawn four from their last eight league games. It is a worrying run of form for a side that have come ‘so close’ in the last two seasons and would be looking to go one better this time around. That they still remain in the play-off zone is testament to their early season form and the Rams will, no doubt, be bang up for three points this weekend with Birmingham now breathing down their necks.

It is a view shared by Dean Smith who noted “They got beaten last week and will be looking for a reaction. You only have to look at their squad to know what a good squad it is.

Obvious but true. On the flipside, one can only hope the squad that Dean has left to play with can also produce a reaction. The performance against Wednesday produced some horror defending, outside of the redcard that we won’t be appealing despite the ongoing belief that the ref “couldn’t make that decision from where he was.

The one positive I guess is that at least our head coach has acknowledged this. He could hardly not, to be fair. “The manner of the goals we conceded was not good” would seem to be somewhat of an understatement but, if we can stop shipping them quite so readily, that’ll be half the job done. Then we just need to find our way at the other end …..

Next up, yesterday’s European football.

Cup fever had this corner of West London gripped last night with the draw for the Gibraltar Rock Cup. Glacis United face a nightmare tie with all-conquering Lincoln Red Imps. They, of course, reached the second qualifying round of this season’s Champions League, before narrowly missing out to Danish side FCM . And given our current fascination with all things Manchester United, their Gibraltarian equivalents (in name, at least) the rebranded Manchester 62 face College 1975. Ties to be played the week of March 16 and you can see the full draw below, c/o @GibFootballTalk.

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On the subject of Manchester United, it would be remiss of me not to mention the Europa League.

If you think Derby County are on a bad run of form, Gary Neville hasn’t exactly had things easy since taking over as manager of Valencia . How that has changed! After getting his first league win at the weekend, last night he saw his team become the first to score five goals in the opening half of a Europa League game. Agonisingly, Valencia fell one short of a 7(seven) -0 bracketing as they eventually ran out 6-0 winners over Rapid Vienna.

And finally, Brentford’s excellent ‘phone a fan’ scheme continued yesterday with Alan Judge manning the switchboard and the club having to convince another fan that yes, our man of the moment really had just called them up.

As ever, the background detail on these stories is what really makes them. The motivational pep talks aren’t just confined to our press conference, if the white board in the ticket office is to be believed.

Nick Bruzon

Manchester United spark a goldmine effect but could it head our way?

18 Feb

So tonight it begins. FCM v Manchester United in the Europa League last 32. As a Brentford supporter, my feelings on all things Mitdjylland have been well documented and I hadn’t planned on looking at this one. Good luck to both teams and all that but I’m more concerned with how the Bees fare in Saturday’s forthcoming game with Derby County . Then, Rasmus went and spoke to the radio.

Manchester United fans are, understandably, somewhat upset about being charged £71 a person to watch tonight’s game. Moreso when FCM’s earlier home tie against Southampton saw prices set at a much more reasonable £22. It is a staggering amount of money to watch a game of football in any right, let alone one outside of the final (where prices are out of the club’s control).

Mark Chapman (not ours, although given the amount of shared roles in this scenario nothing would surprise me) spoke to Rasmus Ankersen on BBC 5 live yesterday. The Dane, of course, being co-director of football at Brentford as well as chairman of FCM.

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Rasmus Ankersen

In the interview, which you can find here and I’d urge Bees fans to listen to, Rasmus attempts to underline the reasoning behind this price hike, arguing that it is a compromise between supply and demand. A chance to make money whilst keeping the game in FCM’s stadium.

This worries me. A lot. That a club seriously considered moving a cup tie from their home. Not because of anything such as safety concerns but just because they could shift more tickets. Likewise, that the alternate is to fleece the fans. I’m sure lots of Danes did want to see the game. As Rasmus notes in the interview, they could have sold upwards of 50,000.

Rasmus – it’s called the woodwork effect. Welcome to the real world of football. When a small team draws a big name, people that wouldn’t be seen dead within a mile of a football stadium suddenly remember their supposed love of the beautiful game. It’s why clubs have all manner of loyalty schemes (such as our own ‘Ticket Access Points’ ) in order to ensure the loyal supporters can get first dibs on games such as this. The chance to see a ‘David’ slay a ‘Goliath’ in their own backyard – not 50 miles up the road in some soulless enormodome.

Brentford chairman Cliff Crown (who also doubles up as a director at FCM) ploughed the same furrow. He was quoted on Talksport as saying “We are a very small club in a small region of Denmark and this is our cup final so we have to make the most of this opportunity.”

Putting to one side the “this is our cup final” quote (something that is as toe curling as a half and half scarf), this reiteration of the opportunistic element to this game does make me nervous and concerned.

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Cliff Crown at Southampton

With Griffin Park having a similar capacity and pricing structure to FCM (at least, based on the Southampton tickets), can we expect similar next season should we draw a Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea in the cup? Are we going to be asked to pay through the nose? The fifth of the cost of a Griffin Park season ticket for 90 minutes of football

Likewise, what happens if we go up? It almost happened last season although, at least, those fans who got in before our fate was known found ST prices kept at what would have been a very reasonable level for Premier League football. But long term, or in the case of a fortunate cup draw, what would we start to charge?

Quite frankly, I can’t afford an unexpected £71 on top of all the other expenses and so would have had to give the game a miss.

Anybody who thinks that would be an acceptable price is living in Walter Mitty land.

Saunders territory Chelsea

If Chelsea come back to Griffin Park can we expect a price hike?

Nick Bruzon

Who fancies a night out at the theatre?

28 Jan

It’s almost February and the latest batch of match tickets are going on sale. Green cards are being obtained from Mrs. B to ensure I can see the likes of Derby County, Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday. At month end, is the big one – Wolves at home on February 23rd. It’s a fixture I’ve loved over recent seasons given our divisional rivalry with the men from Molineux. And, of course, two days later there’s Manchester United v FC Midtjylland.

What’s this got to do with me, Nick?” you may ask . Well, on paper we’ve obviously got some link with the Danish Champions. Specifically that Matthew Benham owns both teams, our chairman Cliff Crown serves as a director for FCM whilst their chairman, Rasmus Ankersen, also acts as one of our co-director’s of football.

I’m sorry to bring this up again. We should still be talking about Sammy Saunders and his goal against Leeds United. But the half time lap of honour and request for applause afforded to the Danes as we were capitulating against Walsall still feels fresh. I’m not going to overly regurgitate my thoughts on that one – they’re here if you want.

Then, yesterday, ‘official’ twitter published a link selling tickets for the Manchester United v FCM Europa League game that takes place two days after our own fixture with Wolves. Just to be clear, that’s Brentford’s ‘official’ twitter. Not Man U or Midtylland’s.

They might have also done so, to be fair. I haven’t checked – not being a supporter of either team.

Good luck to Matthew. Genuinely. He’s done incredible things for Brentford and I certainly wouldn’t wish him or his other business interests – whether Matchbook, Smartodds or FCM – any ill will. Being blunt, it is in our interests that they flourish.

But, for the millionth time, I support Brentford. I don’t give a monkey about Manchester United (the comedy element of watching them race Chelsea to see who can fail to qualify for the Champions League first). I certainly don’t follow FC Midtjylland and, can honestly say, unless our paths crossed on the pitch, I’d never go and watch them play.

Going to watch ‘neutral’ football when you are bored one evening and in the vicinity is one thing. I’ve done it before. At Old Trafford of all places when I was working in Manchester for a year and borrowed a season ticket from a London based friend. Being honest, I struggled to engage. It wasn’t my team and the atmosphere was somewhat muted – moreso for a stadium that holds over 70,000. But for the sake of a ten minute tram ride it was something to do rather than spend another night in the pub – football tourism, I guess.

Yet our own club hawking tickets for a neutral game 163 miles away seems a really odd one. Maybe people will want to go. Maybe people will want a night out at the theatre? Of ‘dreams’ ™ , that is. Maybe people will want to jump on the football tourism bandwagon – that same one we were so scathing of at Stamford Bridge when the Bees took on Chelsea three years ago in the FA Cup

I don’t. I support Brentford. I’m not going to go out of my way to watch anybody else. Let alone on a school night. Let alone that far away. Let alone two days after I’ve been cheering on my team to victory over Wolves *.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but very few Brentford fans care about FCM. At least, on the pitch. Certainly, the response to the club’s tweet suggests that is still the case.

Comments included:

“Oh dear………..”

“couldn’t care less”

“Why would #brentfordfc fans want to go to that game? I don’t get it?”

“how much are tickets for @SupermarineFC v @MarlowFC ? Much more attractive game”

Please Brentford. I’m not a (total) idiot. I know Matthew has huge interests in the Danes . I realise that. Is it too much to ask you could just stop shoving them in our face?

Nick Bruzon

* please note: Other results are possible

As Brentford go down to Walsall, FCM can FC….

9 Jan

Walsall are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup; Brentford are out. This is the simple fact after The Bees went down 1-0 in torrential conditions. Don’t let the weather disguise anything though – the Saddlers wanted it more, they deserved it more and they made Brentford look very much second best. But it was the half time shenanigans involving FC Midtjylland which still leave a bitter taste in the mouth long after the final whistle has blown.

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View from the terrace – David Button slips in the rainy conditions

Let’s be clear – I don’t know where this club would be without Matthew Benham. The amount of investment he has made in Brentford FC, along with his bold vision for a new stadium at Lionel Road, have taken us from the brink of meltdown to the brink of the Premier League.

I also know he has numerous other business interests – primarily Smartodds, Matchbook and the aforementioned Danish Champions. Frankly, I don’t care about that when I’m at Griffin Park cheering on the Bees. Good luck to him and everything but I support Brentford. I wanted to see MY team try and progress in the FA Cup today.

What I didn’t want was the most sycophantic parading of another football club, on a lap of honour, around our pitch.

What I didn’t want was to be asked to applaud them for nothing more than being fortunate enough to be drawn against Manchester United in the Europa League.

What I didn’t want was to be reminded over the P.A. system that our co-director of football, Rasmus Ankersen, splits his time between the Bees and FCM where he is their chairman.

At a time when we were being played off the park after putting in one of the most abject first half displays I can recall for some time – Swift and McEachran in particular being totally anonymous (what do Chelsea put in the water of their youth team ?) – this was a time to focus on our team in our cup competition. Not one of Matthew’s other investments.

By this logic can we expect Smartodds employee of the month to be afforded a similar privilege against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night?

With fans fearing we’ve seen the last of Toumani Diagouraga – and if ever a game was crying out for him it was this one, although I understand he was injured – what I didn’t want was an over crowded and directionless central midfield.

I bumped into Rasmus outside the pub before kick off. I did have a chat with him about the FA Cup and he came across as very pleasant. However, that doesn’t cut the mustard when we then witness what happened next – both at half-time and during the game.

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Will we be seeing the back of Toumani ?

Imagination free substitutions (Judge aside) in a game where it was apparent after the first twenty minutes that somebody with the pace and experience of Sam Saunders was exactly what was required. Instead, we had sideways pass after sideways pass and then like for like changeovers. What Macca did to be hauled off I don’t know – along with Harlee, Jack and Jake he really stood out as wanting to get involved.

The only saving grace being that at least Alan Judge showed some invention when he came on and, as importantly, cup tied himself. Yet when we did get in on the Walsall goal, their goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was on hand to pull of a couple of stonking second half saves. Full credit to that man.

The FA Cup is HUGE in this country. With a direct parachute into the third round, even allowing for a handful of changes from the regular starting XI, I’d have thought we’d have been bang up for this one and a potential tilt at breaking the Wembley hoodoo. Instead, we had to stand through a first half no-show followed by the bizarre parade.

It was a monumental slap in the face to everybody who had paid hard earned money to get into Griffin Park. And I’m sorry if that bucks the corporate line. I’m not employed by Brentford FC and I’m certainly not a supporter of FC Midtjylland. Why would I be?

I have no connection with that club beyond knowing that, amongst others, one of the men most responsible for our transfer policy has his attention split between us and them. This is not a dig at the statistical model. Indeed, it genuinely hurts to say anything negative about the club I’ve supported since 1979.

This is a dig at the fact that when we should have been focusing on the FA Cup, instead there seemed to be a genuine expectation that we’d fawn at the temple of Midtjylland.

Good luck to them in Europe. For Matthew’s sake I’d hope they do well. But on a day when I helped my son make his first ‘tin foil trophy’, I’m ending it feeling thoroughly dejected about what happened today at Griffin Park.

Nick Bruzon

More important things afoot for Bees than the Chelsea result

18 Dec

Any mention of Chelsea yesterday would, understandably, have had most people focused on the so-called ‘special’ one and his sacking (please note: your definition of the word ‘special’ may differ from Mr. Mourinho). It takes a special kind of person to be sacked from the same job, by the same man, twice.

As Oscar (Wilde) didn’t, quite say : “To lose one job may be regarded as misfortune but to lose it again is just carelessness”.

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Special? Garbage

But whilst this news may have been a shock for many, there was an even bigger one at Cobham than the post dinner discussions as Kevin O’Connor’s development team took on a Chelsea XI in a friendly and went down 3-2.

In this day and age a win for any Stamford Bridge outfit is, I suppose, deemed an upset but that wasn’t the talking point. At least not for Brentford fans. We had some very positive news on the injury front – Lewis Macleod is back.

Lasting a full hour before being subbed, Lewis began his latest comeback alongside the likes of Philipp Hofmann and Yoann Barbet under the watchful eye of Head Coach Dean Smith. Indeed, Dean later noted, “The fitter these boys are then the more options we have in the coming weeks.”

An obvious observation perhaps (and you can read the full piece on the official club site) but it is most telling in the case of Lewis.

It doesn’t need me to remind anybody of the fitness issues he has had since signing from Rangers almost 12 months ago. Comeback after comeback has been blighted by twinges, knocks and pulls whilst the case of his ‘tripping over a twig’ on the training ground has been well documented. But now, it seems, he is back in the right place.

And with that run of three games (Walsall, Middlesbrough and Burnley) coming up in early January, could the moment almost be upon us? Certainly it would fit with Dean’s own timescale as to when the option would be available to him.

Brentford fans are desperate to see this much-touted prospect in action having heard nothing but good things from Rangers when Mark Warburton signed him. Indeed, I struggle to recall a Brentford player who has so much felt the weight of expectation on his shoulders since signing for the club. Although given his bad luck, even that would probably cause a dislocation.

The other news of interest from the Brentford website is that, apparently, we now have a sister club in FC Midtjylland. Whilst Matthew Benham’s ownership of both teams is well documented, as is the additional role played by Rasmus Ankersen as our co-director of football/ their chairman, I was unaware we were now linked in that official a capacity.

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Sister

Perhaps it passed me by but if so, can we now expect a shuffling of players between the two teams? Likewise, supporters? Certainly the latter option would seem to be on the cards being as we are being asked if anybody would be interested in a trip to the theatre. Of Dreams, that is, where the Danes are taking on Manchester United in the Europa League.

In what for me at least would be the ultimate in football tourism, its one I’ll certainly be passing on. If nothing else, we have a game against Wolves just two days prior. Being quite honest, watching Manchester United trying to save face after failing to escape the Champions League group stages (something even Chelsea accomplished) fills me with about as much excitement as being faced with the forthcoming surfeit of sprouts.

Good luck to anybody who wants to go. Its just not for me. If its all the same, I’d prefer to focus on Huddersfield Town tomorrow and the glut of games that are about to come our way.

Hey, by the time we get to that Wolves game Lewis Macleod might even be a first team fixture.

Nick Bruzon