Tag Archives: Ewood Park

A very beautiful, ugly win. They all count though.

13 Mar

Well, well, well. I’d open with a comment on our league position but fear some of us might get upset. DM’s are open hun. Hope all is ok. Instead, let’s look at the result. Brentford beating Blackburn Rovers 1-0 on a Friday night capped with another ice-cool penalty finish from Ivan Toney. A game in which we dodged more than a few bullets, no question, but perhaps could have scored more ourself. A game marred by a horrific looking injury to Bradley Dack after the Rovers’ man almost caught David Raya cold when going for an opportunistic steal. You could see the upset on Tony Mowbray’s face, obliged to talk to Sky at full time when it was clear his mind was only on his player. A game where there was no irony lost in the fact our winner came from the penalty spot whilst, being honest, our hosts  should have had one of their own awarded following a clumsy challenge by Mads Bech Sørensen on Ryan Nyambe. I’ve seen them given, Clive, and that was definitely one that got away. Given the run of ropey spot kick decisions enjoyed by Swansea City in recent weeks, perhaps it was time one went our way. No matter how harsh it was on the opposition. With the Swans at Luton this afternoon and Cardiff City knowing that defeat of Watford could see them enter the play-off positions, it’s all set for an intriguing Saturday.

First up though, events at Ewood Park. The excitement was palpable from prior to kick off with the selection of both Christian Nørgaard AND Vitaly Janelt in midfield. Finally. The moment we’d all been waiting and my word, wasn’t the return of our great Dane a joy to behold? He was magnificent from the off. Janelt likewise. The question of whether they could play together answered in emphatic style with attack broken down and passes being pinged forward with abandon. Widemen Fosu and Mbeumo playing just as fluently to take the game by the scruff of the neck. The former earning the spot kick after racing a beautiful pass from the ever creative Toney and being felled in the box. Up walked Ivan with his trademark approach. His trademark precision. His trademark goal. 1-0 up and only ten minutes gone.

No words needed

Brentford pushed on and pushed up. Possession dominated. Janelt and Jensen with the best of the follow up chances. The game in control but the knowledge that we’ve seen so many of these lost in the past always at the back of the mind. A second half that could have seen it go ether way. One finger tip save from Raya denying Dack when it seemed the ball would surely sneak inside the far post. Ivan Toney with a wonderful effort from just inside the Rovers half almost saw goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski lobbed when off his line. Substitute Sergi Canos unleashing a piledriver within moments of coming on that Kaminski did well to turn away. Marcus Forss perhaps guilty of missing the chance to put the game to bed and avoid us enduring those painful last few minutes of squeaky bum time. That’s before we mention the two penalty shouts for Rovers.

Mads has been very, very lucky. I’m still not sure how it wasn’t given but, you know what, I’ll take the decision. No matter how hard done by Blackburn will surely feel. Match referee Geoff Eltringham at his most random. Just as we’ve said Swansea would, obviously, accept everything that has gone their way in recent games of course we’d do the same. Move along. Nothing to see here. As for the Dack shout, I’m not so sure that was as cast iron as our opposition make out. It almost seems a secondary discussion given the injury suffered in the subsequent coming together. What seemed innocuous as it happened soon became clear to be anything but. The Blackburn manager confirming at full time that Dack was in a bad way with suspected cruciate ligament damage. Sometimes, our beautiful game can be anything but. Moreso given the same player had only just returned in December from a similar injury. Kudos to Tony Mowbray for keeping it together with a camera shoved in his face. He clearly wanted be anywhere but there and his words really emphasised the bond shared with his players.      

For Brentford, three points earned. The sort of game that could have been an absolute potato skin has ended with all three points coming back to West London. The return of Christian Nørgaard something that cannot be under estimated. Cannot be lauded sufficiently. He, Vitaly and Ivan were immense. They all were though. Winston Reid and Henrik Dalsgaard brutally tough. A rock solid Bees team able to call on both strength and skill. No pushovers. The top end of the table calling. A trip to Wayne Rooney’s Derby County on Tuesday night and then Nottingham Forest visit next weekend before international ‘break’. Let’s just keep Christian away from the Denmark squad, this time.

The rest of the weekend fixtures start to play out at lunchtime. Luton  – Swansea is first up at 12.15pm with Watford going in the traditional 3pm slot. Any favours grateful accepted. None expected. This promotion race will go all the way to the line. Brentford are currently in second place. That’s a fact and certainly nothing to be ashamed about. Here’s hoping we’re still there after game 46. If we can achieve what Thomas Frank described at full time as “A very beautiful, ugly win” then anything is possible. Starting at Derby…..

Nick Bruzon 

The end is nigh…

12 Mar

Brentford travel to Blackburn Rovers tonight. We all know the shape of the league table. We all know that the result will only be one step on the way to deciding which team joins Norwich City in the Premier League. Us, Watford, Swansea City or perhaps a surge up the blindside by one of the other contenders now putting a run together. Fingers crossed for the right result, obviously. Goal difference means that should we pick up all three points tonight, we will go ahead of the second placed Hornets on level games. They then travel to Cardiff City tomorrow whilst the Swans face the prospect of a trip to Luton. No doubt hoping Andre Ayew (pen) will keep up his current hot streak of converting dubiously awarded spot kicks. Whatever the methodology in Steve Cooper’s team being given these things, there’s no doubting Ayew’s precision from the spot. Sadly. 

Still, we’ve done all this to death in the last week or so. Brentford have had some rare ‘down time’ with the Rotherham game being postponed due to the hosts Covid results last Friday. It has been our first stretch without a midweek game in I don’t know how long. The backlog of league fixtures and our run to the semi finals of the League cup making it as relentless a season as has ever been experienced. Now, we are in to the final 12 games of the campaign. The regular campaign, that is. The reward for coming out on top in these will be indescribable. The agony of the play-off roulette wheel nothing any of the teams in the mix will want to go through. The three of us, at the very least, will have their eyes and expectations on securing that second place spot. This really is going to be high stakes stuff with those that miss out on automatic facing the prospect of the W place in North London. And whilst we’re not in the ‘must win’ game category yet, you can be sure every point won or lost is going to be scrutinised as we get closer and closer to the line.

Here’s hoping the unexpected break has helped our knackered legs. Blackburn played midweek and got a draw at Ewood Park. They were even winning until they were adjudged to have conceded a penalty which etc etc etc. Deja vu and all that. We’ve got no new injury concerns as far as I am aware – just the ongoing ones – and, of course, none other than Geoff Eltringham at the helm. I’d say ‘in charge’ but, you know.. The amount of times we’ve crossed swords with him a source of ongoing frustration. Stoke away, last season, just one of the many horror showings. Fingers crossed for a more measured approach tonight. There has already been enough refereeing based interference at the top of the table in recent weeks for him to add to that sh*t show.

Thanks, Geoff. One of the many.

Whichever way it goes, kick off is 7.45pm this evening. Sky have the game and, as Thomas said in his own press conference to the the build up “The biggest task for me, and the staff, and the players is to keep all the noise away so we can simply focus on training well today and playing well tomorrow. If you think too far ahead you don’t focus on what you can affect. The only thing we are focussing on is how we can perform best tomorrow.”   No bad thing. Thankfully they don’t read this. Hopefully, they pay little attention to social media. One game at a time and all that is the obvious mantra, even if it is tempting to look ahead and around.

Other news from yesterday saw Ivan Toney being nominated for manager fo the month alongside Teemu Pukki. Somebody at the EFL Twitter missing out on the ‘proof reading’ option before pressing publish. Of course, it transpired he had been nominated for player of the month (although at least the FrankOut brigade would have been happy for a while). An award which has this morning been announced as going to the Norwich City man. Well played Pukki. He’s a machine.

Also this week the kids have returned to school. Thank goodness. The brand of home-teaching in our house as dodgy as a Swansea penalty award but that’s all over now. The teaching, I mean. Instead, the school run is back on and it is one which takes us past Griffin Park. A place I still cast a wistful eye towards every time. So many memories. So much time spent and emotional investment poured into the famous old ground. Now, it has a new occupant. A mechanical digger. There it was on the forecourt yesterday, doing something to the ground side turnstile entrance gates on Braemar Road. It would seem the inevitable is definitely now underway.

Here’s hoping the only demolition work we’re talking about tomorrow is a job done on Blackburn. See you there. Metaphorically speaking. Confined to barracks once more. Joy. 

Sad times at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

I’ve seen them given, Clive. Just not like this.

10 Mar

Finally. Games in hand have played out. If anything, Brentford and Swansea City are now the ones with the opportunity of playing catch up. Watford the team looking over their shoulders. Current occupants of second place in a Championship promotion race that is going to run and run. Last night’s 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers meaning the Swans are now three points ahead of the Bees with both teams having played 34 of our 46 games. Only goal difference keeping them behind The Hornets who have, of course, played that extra fixture. Whilst, personally speaking, I’m a firm believer in the ethos that points in the bag are better than games in hand there is extra comfort to be gained by the fact that our goal difference currently is clear of both our main rivals. Hopefully we’re all a bit less stressed now. Blips happen to the best of teams. Even in the top flight Liverpool are turning Fortress Anfield into an all you can score buffet for visiting teams whilst normally indestructible Manchester City ‘lost’ a game at the weekend (not a typo). 

I’d rather be second than fourth. No question. Prefer 66 points to 63. Only a moron would say otherwise. Yet the doomsday scenario being played out by so many after our own  disaster showing against Coventry City has failed to materialise. Swansea having three games in hand at that point and the potential to go 8 points clear should they win them all. They didn’t. Instead, were humped soundly by Bristol City and Huddersfield Town. Turned one point into three c/o of 96th minute penalty awards that were straight out of Dodge City. Fishier than Michael Fish eating fish and chips. Then, last night, another one awarded although this time in the first half but when a goal down. A penalty that was as soft as any other we’ve seen awarded recently. I’ve seen them given, Clive. Just not with this regularity. Alan McInally reporting for Sky Sports aghast at what he’d just seen after Andre Ayew made it four goals from the spot in as many games.

Penalty to Swansea. Awarded whilst listening to pop music’s Dodgy

Good luck to them. As we said before, Brentford wouldn’t turn down the opportunity if offered. We’d be right on the spot, trusting Ivan Toney to do his thing. That so many have been awarded , and in such controversial circumstances, is of course going to frustrate. That’s the polite phrase. Shonky refereeing to those looking in. The EFL powerless, impotent, silent.  We can’t change that. We still have plenty of opportunity to wrestle control of our destiny. 12 more games. That’s a lot of time and a lot of points. Even if we need to do it from open play. Err, Bryan Mbeumo at Norwich anyone…? Besides, I’m still firmly of the belief that this one is going to go all the way to the wire. If for no other reason than Watford visit Brentford then host Swansea in their final two games. 

All being well, things will be a lot clearer by then. If the recent run of LLL was stressful for some think how that final brace of fixtures is going to be? That’s a level of angst I don’t want to be part of although can only presume things will head that way. None of the teams around us will drop that many points between now and then.  At least we got back on track with those defeats of Sheff Wed and Stoke. Next up Blackburn Rovers on Friday.

Cripes, that trip to Ewood Park is going to be tough. By all accounts they should have won last night. We all know our own injury situation at the back. That said, we all know our own goal scoring potential going forward. The choice being faced by Thomas Frank over who from Tariqe Fosu, Bryan Mbeumo and Sergi Canos to start with a tough one. A nice one, I suppose. For me (straps on tin hat) the later had been the most consistent performer this season from the three although nobody could deny the game against Norwich City was one where he was at anything than his best. I still stand by the fact that the abuse he came under was way out of line and totally out of order. If nothing else, there were enough others who went awol in a game against the runaway league leaders. But we’ve done that one to death. 

Brentford may well lose again this season. Sadly. That’s football. As noted earlier, even Manchester City got a nil return on Sunday. It happens. Liverpool have hit such a rough patch of home form that even Fulham picked up three points over the weekend. Swansea City have fluctuated between whipping boys and relentless winners over the last five games. The only consistent thing about the beautiful game is its inconsistency. Nothing can be predicted. Although if everyone could just stop awarding Steve Cooper’s team penalties, that would be nice. As a side note,  those bemoaning Barnsley inflicting one of our own defeats in the blip period may care to notice the Tykes now sitting in the play-off spots. Talk about a surge up the blindside. 

We can talk about others in the same breath as we do ourselves. That’s not obsession. That’s a fact. That’s what makes football so exciting. So addictive. Delivers the agony and ecstasy in equal measure. We can be at our best yet still be undone by outside influence. Be ropey as but nick the points and then see our rivals do everything but score. Of course we have to focus on Brentford as a priority. Of course we shouldn’t get overly upset about what the others do, as long as we continue to pick up the points. Yet with our destinies so inter twined, it’s hard not to look at the other games with microscopic interest. Luton v Swansea on Saturday and Cardiff v Watford will be two such games. Moreso with our own game taking place on Friday night. Fingers crossed we’ll be back in automatic by the time our nearest and dearest kick off. Fingers crossed….

Nick Bruzon  

The huge prize awaiting if……

27 Nov

Oh my. What an incentive going in to this evening’s game at Blackburn Rovers. If Brentford win and West Bromwich Albion avoid defeat at home to Bristol City, The Bees will end the night in the play-off places. The maths are that simple even if the application of these facts may not be. Football has a funny habit of kicking you in the nuts when you least expect it. When your hope is highest. Yet, at the same time, it would be churlish to ignore the position we now find ourselves in after Swansea City were held at Huddersfield last night.

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The top of the table via the BBC – basic maths.

For Thomas Frank, naming the team would seem an easy decision. Ethan Pinnock more than impressed against Reading on Saturday and so, with Julian Jeanvier still suspended, his retaining his place is an absolute no-brainer. Thankfully, a decision that can be justified on merit rather than card induced necessity. In the midfield, Christian Nørgaard is available once more and could be in with more of a chance at getting his place back. However, Mathias Jensen won’t give up his place without a fight and the cross he supplied to set up Ollie Watkins’ winner last time out was sublime. Inch perfect delivery that was begging to be put away. Watkins duly obliged.

Could Josh Dasilva be moved to accommodate Nørgaard or is, as is more likely, it simply a case of having to bide his time on the bench with Thomas selecting an unchanged starting XI? I can’t see beyond the same team as started against Reading beginning this one tonight. Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and would have more chance of calling the lottery numbers than getting something as vital as a team selection correct.

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Jensen supplied a delicious cross for the goal on Saturday.

Blackburn Rovers are no pushover, that’s for sure. A Bradley Dack brace and a shot from Stewart Downing earned them all the points in a 3-2 fight back against basement boys Barnsley on Saturday. No doubt they will be looking to build on this and climb further up the table from their current 17th. But Brentford are going to be confident. We have every right to be so, too. The last three away games have seen us pick up 9 points and scoring 3 goals each time out with fine wins at Loftus Road, Swansea and then Wigan. We haven’t won four successive games on the road since back in 2011 and so there is yet another incentive to really go for it tonight. That is, if getting Ollie Watkins to the the top of the Championship goal scorer charts or ourselves into the top six wasn’t enough already.

This one is going to be tough. Win, lose or draw it makes no real difference in the long term. At least, at this juncture. It would be quite magnificent to get the points and hope West Bromwich Albion can do us the proverbial favour. With Leeds United grabbing a late winner at Reading last night, the Baggies currently find themselves in second place. One place off the top of the table. If The Bees have the motivation to go for it then surely Slavan Bilic’s team have just as much themselves? The battle of Romaine Sawyers v Daniel Bentley could be a fascinating one although, for obvious reasons, not one I’ll be following.

Instead, it’ll be the red-button and Sky Sports smudge vision in our house. A mid-week trip to Lancashire is one that is diametrically opposed to the budget, holiday allocation at work and domestic green cards. The efforts and ability of our travelling fans to get to games like this one never ceases to amaze me. Would that being there was an option. Tonight will be very much a case of mind over body and true faith in our boys.

Brentford have been superb in the last two months. The victory over Reading very much a case of grinding one out against stubborn opposition who had set out to strangle us. Something we have often struggled with yet this time around kept going for the entire 90 minutes. However we play and whatever Blackburn do, the opportunity and ability are there. 

I can’t wait for this one. Enioy.

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We’ve had some fine away performances this season.

Nick Bruzon  

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

6 May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coming soon. To a shirt near you….

Nick Bruzon 

 

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees miss out, fans rally round Manchester United man and birthday wishes. A week in football

20 Nov

Brentford went down 3-2 at Blackburn despite Scott Hogan grabbing the first of his brace quicker than most people can spell antidisestablishmentarianism. Newcastle United are now 9 points clear of third place whilst Dwight Gayle, also with a brace as Leeds were despatched 2-0, occupies the penthouse suite at the Championship leading scorer hotel (i.e. he’s number 1). Norwich City made it four in a row – defeats that is. Their ignominy being compounded by this being at the hands of Ian Holloway and his QPR side who now sit a point ahead of our super Bees. At the bottom, it’s business as usual. Blackburn, Wigan and Rotherham continue to make up the final three.

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 of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

As ever, we start with Brentford where defeat at Ewood Park was hard to swallow. Despite Scott Hogan making it 9 and 10 for the season, those expecting us to ‘bounce back’ after Fulham were left ruing a lost chance. Indeed, it seems we’re struggling against the less fancied teams.

stats-v-bottom-three

That said, away from the action it was good to see Beesotted main man Billy Grant find the pub in Blackburn. Presumably, those aren’t wasps?

billy-grant-blackburn-bees

Talking of which, (and this really IS the last comment on the crest confusion) anybody thinking our new logo looks like a wasp may want to refine their opinion. Or start supporting Alloa Athletic. Now THIS is a wasp (with thanks to @sarangipani for this spot).

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As a final Bees related though, Bernard Quackenbush just can’t let this one go. And rightly so, quite frankly. This time, the normally accurate BBC being the ones to feel his ire.

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Instead, the main story of the week has been the furore surrounding Manchester United and England man Wayne Rooney. Regular readers to this page will know that the Old Trafford outfit are frequent visitors (largely thanks to the black humour in their ongoing struggle to pick up where Sir Alex Ferguson left off). Yet, for once, I must spring to Rooney’s defence.

Seriously, what a fuss over nothing. What a ridiculous attempt by the press to once again knock the England team and kick the players that they’ll be the first to be fawning over when something goes well. It all started when he was photographed at a wedding party and then made to apologise like a naughty schoolboy….

wayne-rooney-statement

Fortunately, most people could see through the sham. From the Brentford angle, none other than Bluetones guitarist Adam Devlin and Irish international Alan Judge were quick to weigh in with their thoughts. The former being first out of the blocks with a double whammy.

 

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Manchester United legend Phil Neville also added his own voice to proceedings in defence of his former team mate.

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But it wouldn’t be the weekly round up without mention of Manchester United failing to hit the heights.  With local rivals Manchester City winning on the road at Crystal Palace thanks to a brace from Yaya Toure, the Telegraph were quick to post the following statistic.

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Elsewhere, the peril of wearing ludicrous luminous kits was highlighted – quite literally.

neon-kit

We’ve spoken this week about the ongoing fall out at Charlton Athletic. Following a group of supporters confronting owner Roalnd Duchatelet in his home town of St. Truiden on the occasion of his 70th birthday meal, the Addicks were taking no chances this time around.

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‘Football on 5’ host George Riley put us in mind of one of the most favourite football cliches whilst preparing for the weekend’s show.

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With it , a cheap excuse to crowbar in another look at ‘the wellness scale’ of typical shot methods. I love this but can take no credit for producing what is a work of genius.

 

Wellness scale

Those of us who didn’t make it to Ewood Park were later afforded the opportunity to watch another 3-2 game. Namely, Tottenham’s home win over West Ham on Saturday night. Like our own game, the visitors took the lead before a soft penalty turned the scores.

BBC Radio London man Phil Parry was on hand to witness the action, where our own Billy Reeves laid down a gauntlet.

billy-reeves-on-phil-parry-whfc-spurs

And the answer, according to Billy today, saw the Children In Need coffers swelled further thanks to the ding-dong antics on BBC Radio London.

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They weren’t the only station reporting on this one, obviously. Ian Moose from Talksport was also present for another combo of commentary, banging on about pies and referencing ‘my good friend’ (insert name of player) – the regular form if his social media feed is to be believed. Mr Moose’s address book must be fit to burst whilst I dread to think what his birthday card bill is.

Friendship couldn’t get in the way of the result, however, as West Ham lost out at the death.

moose-post-spurs-3-2

And finally, on the same subject, regular followers of the Twitter scene may be aware of Ian offering what seem to be daily birthday wishes to one of his good footballing friends. Shameless name dropping or simply a public service keeping us abreast of all matters age related?

So it’s time for Ian’s football friend birthday of the week.  In a column that sees us looking at Manchester United, it is perhaps appropriate that this week Ian offers birthday wishes to his friend : Paul Scholes.

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Nick Bruzon

Bees come a sloppy second to Blackburn. Get me out of here…

20 Nov

Blackburn Rovers 3 Brentford 2. The scoreline does’t even begin to sum up a frustrating result after the Bees had taken the lead with barely half a minute of the game gone. That we then conspired to present our hosts with three goals (and no complaints about them for taking their chances – you can only put away what is in front of you) is something out of character with the Bees and hugely disappointing.

Equally, though, with still almost an hour to play at 3-2 down Brentford had plenty of time to salvage something. Instead, the records will show that we managed 3 shots on target all game.

Listen, I’ve no issue with holding up my hands and knowing when we’ve not deserved a thing. Look at our last home game, against Fulham, and then look away fast. There was no creativity and nothing to inspire. At least this time Dean loaded his team for attack, gave Romaine Sawyers a break for the first time this season and it paid immediate dividends. Lasse Vibe releasing Scott Hogan who sprung the offside trap and ran clear on goal to make it 1-0 Brentford after a mere 33 seconds.

Likewise, Hogan’s second, to level things up at 2-2, was the culmination of a beautiful move around the Blackburn midfield that ended with the striker taking his total to ten Championship goals for the season. With parity restored at 2-2 after just a half hour, and headline writers preparing the phrase ‘goal fest’ surely we were back in the driving seat? But no. Sloppiness followed just as sloppiness had preceded.

Sam Gallagher had been earmarked as the man to watch prior to this one but it was Danny Graham who took advantage of the huge holes in the Brentford defence to equalise on the quarter hour. It was marking that would have embarrassed a league two club, let alone a tier two Championship team, and the goal machine made no mistake. Five minutes later, he’d doubled his tally and given the home side the lead from the penalty spot. It looked a pretty innocuous challenge on the TV in what were slippery conditions – just check out the skid marks – but referee Chris Kavanagh had no hesitation and the penalty was dispatched perfectly.

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Bees hit the skids – did snow trail make it look worse than it was?

As for the winning goal though. The tales of Brentford centre-backs putting it past their own goalkeeper are legion. I’m not going to moan at Harlee Dean – the defensive o.g. has happened so many times before and will no doubt happen again. Indeed the biggest crime was even giving the ball away in the first instance, with the Bees in a very safe position on the half way line and taking it forward. Suddenly we were under pressure and paid the ultimate price as the ball was swept into the box.

Those of us watching back home could only mutter under the breath as this one popped up on the Sky Sports scrolly thing. Those of us wearing anoraks could only smile at the thought of Renton scoring in Edinburgh. At least one team displaying a lust for life there.

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The highlights of this one are on Sky now. Alternatively, if you prefer to see whether Mark Burridge and the team can salvage anything from the game, then there are double length highlights on Bees Player now we’ve got past the 12pm curfew.

Is it any better with Mark at the helm?

As for any more of an in-depth report,  regular readers know the drill. The BBC, Brentford official or Beesotted are your places. When even official lead with : Lasse vibe on “sloppy” defeat to Blackburn Rovers then it’s fairly safe to know what you are going to get.

Besides, yours truly wasn’t even allowed anywhere near Channel 5 for the highlights last night, with the remote control having been commandeered for watching Carol Vordeman (who seems to have been rebuilt more than the Brentford defence) and Danny Baker subtly attempting to wind up a daytime TV property ‘expert’.

An act which, if we’re being honest, they largely succeeded at under the watchful eyes of Ant and Dec. If only we’d had such acumen but alas it wasn’t to be. Then again, the thought of Harlee making a meal of pig’s anus or Sam Saunders standing in an oversized fish tank with an eel merging from his shorts are not the sort of images I particularly want so perhaps we park that analogy here, with apologies.

Can there be any positives from that? And by which I mean the Blackburn game rather than ‘I’m a celebrity’… ? Well, you have to start with two wonderfully taken goals. Scott Hogan is now in double figures in the Championship, level with Glenn Murray and just one behind Dwight Gayle at Newcastle United.With the Repulic of Ireland reportedly sniffing around, he is very much the ‘man of the moment’ in the Championship. January could be stressful..

Equally, at least, we can sleep that bit easier knowing that the media team won’t be dusting off the #Novemberkings moniker which was so cringe worthily chucked around during our first Championship season.

Beyond that though, it is a case of slim pickings. On a snowy day we weren’t even granted that rare treat of an orange ball. Instead, the mid-winter yellow version is deemed sufficient and I fear that really could be it now for this nostalgic favourite. Unless, of course, the FA Cup can produce something magical.

orange-ball

Is the combination of snow and orange ball now a thing of the past?

So what next for the Bees? A win would be nice, for one thing. That wonderful victory over QPR has been our only real bright spark in a 7(seven) game run that has otherwise seen four defeats and two 0-0 draws.

Tablewise, we are now just into the bottom half. Five points shy of the play-off zone and six ahead of the basement clubs. With Blackburn, Wigan and surely doomed Rotherham United (already 11 points and vastly inferior goal difference off safety) still occupying those places, that’s not even a situation worth contemplating .

Yet, equally, complacency won’t win you games or keep you up. Look at Newcastle United last season. And Aston Villa. No club is too safe or too big to go down. Keep losing and that’ll happen. Not anything to worry about for now, that’s for sure, but a swift return to winning ways will be a good thing.

As the interview with Dean Smith on Brentford official noted:

Next Saturday The Bees return to Griffin Park to host Gary Rowett’s Birmingham City with Dean saying that he wants to see a response after consecutive losses.

“Next week’s game takes on extra importance because, after back to back defeats, we have to bounce back,” said Dean. “

Never a truer word and so important it had to be mentioned twice..

Nick Bruzon

Harlee offers an alternative to going again. Dean conjures up strange images.

18 Nov

Footballers, eh? Normally the first to come out with anodyne soundbites about how the boys did well well or that despite the defeat (for which we apologise to the fans – it wasn’t good enough)  ‘we go again’. But with Brentford heading into Saturday’s game with Blackburn, club captain Harlee Dean has given a really interesting, and honest, interview on ‘official’ as part of the big match preview.

Talking about his own performance, current form, team mates and, of course, the threat posed by Blackburn it recognises our own, what we’ll call, ‘blips’ .

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Harlee speaks to the press on Thursday

Fairplay to Harlee. I’m not normally one for these interviews. If nothing else, the technique of previewing what a player is about to be quoted on and then quoting it , often verbatim, still rankles. This one has a classic example and does make me wonder if we have problems with the required ‘word count’:

Harlee, who has missed just two games all season, feels that a mid-table position is where The Bees deserve to be based on the opening 16 games of the season but has aims on being much higher.

“I feel the team should be where we are but we could be a lot better,” said Harlee.

But it is a small gripe. It’s great to hear our captain being so open, so honest and saying what we can all see. The question now is one of how we follow up these words. As he notes:

“The boys will be honest that a few of them have been good in spells and then dropped off…..  We can easily do it but we all have to be consistent, not just for one game or for 135 minutes, but for two, three, or four games in a row and see where it takes us.”

If you haven’t read the full interview yet, you can find it on ‘official’. Alternatively, the whole piece is on the Brentford YouTube page which you can find below.

Harlee. Great words, great jumper 

Dean Smith also gave his press conference, where ‘official’ began by telling us he is expecting Blackburn to offer both “a tough test” and a “stern examination”. I had to double take on reading that opening gambit. Visions of daleks gliding onto the Ewood Park pitch were soon dispelled upon noting it said stern examination rather than extermination (and with it, the photoshop imagery hit the ‘trash’ folder). That’s what writing this nonsense so early in the morning does to you!

Like Harlee, Mr Smith also noted that “The consistency element is something that we are working on.” Certainly the right mantra and let’s hope it sinks in. Consistency , consistency, consistency. Repeat it enough and, like saying Candyman, Candyman, Candyman into the mirror – will it magically appear?

On Saturday, we find out.

And if you’d like to read more, Dean’s full interview is also available on Brentford official.

In the meantime, the thought of Doctor Smith and the Daleks has been niggling. Here’s hoping Blackburn can be exterminated on Saturday (in the nicest possible terms).

dean-dalek

Nick Bruzon

Brentford walking into weekend protest at Blackburn as Charlton crank theirs up

17 Nov

Blackburn Rovers v Brentford. By rights we should be talking about Gary Blissett sending the Bees into a 1989 FA Cup quarter final against Liverpool or Jota sending Mark Burridge into near meltdown as he scored ‘that goal’ (#Burridgegasm). Instead, it seems that this Saturday we could be walking into the heart of a maelstrom with a supporter protest being planned against club owners Venkys. Like Charlton Athletic fans before them (and stick around to see how they took things to the next level at the weekend) it is another protest against an ownership that is deemed to have run a once successful club to the brink of disaster. And then pushed it over the edge.

Any excuse to take a look at this one again

The Lancashire Telegraph is reporting this morning how fans plan to raise red cards on both the 18th and 75th minute – a reference to the club’s formation in 1875 prior to their becoming founder members of the football league – as a sign of their dissatisfaction with team performance and the club’s rising debts.

Will this affect Brentford? Will it play into our hands ? Will we be able to get back to winning / goalscoring ways against a team who have been  rooted in the bottom three for what seems like most of the season ? Or could it even inspire the home side to up their game?

Who knows. What I can say is that it certainly puts our own ‘problems’ in perspective. In Matthew Benham and the current board, we have an outfit making no secret of the fact that the club is looking to be run in a financially sound way. For sure, the glut of sales / departures alongside Mark Warburton were tough for many to swallow but nobody could deny a subsequent Championship finish of 9th was a false or unimpressive position. The table doesn’t lie,

As recently as our last game, the Bees were a win away from hitting the play off zone. Sadly, we capitulated against Fulham with a, frankly, woeful performance that saw the Cottagers finally record a win against us at the fifth attempt.

Our biggest supporter dissatisfaction is currently in regards to the new club crest and, whilst all observations pro/against equally valid, it’s hardly in the Blackburn / Charlton category of doom and gloom.

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I love the nod to the past in our new crest

As for Charlton, just when things couldn’t get any crazier at the Valley supporters took matters further into the hands in the ongoing protest against owner Roland Duchatelet. They visited his home town of St Truiden on the weekend of his 70th birthday with the intention of handing out leaflets to outline their concerns.

Not only did they do this but, likewise, stumbled across the man himself enjoying a birthday meal as his team went down 3-0 at Swindon. The Coventry Telegraph is amongst those with the story whilst you can see the video footage below.

For all that Brentford fans may be unhappy about certain aspects of life at Griffin Park, things could be an awful lot worse.

Charlton fans take protest up a notch.

Nick Bruzon  

Move along, nothing to see here (especially for travelling fans)

12 Nov

Welcome back, Brentford fans. The Last Word has had a few days off as I’ve been concentrating on MK Dons (I suppose somebody has to) ahead of their visit next month. And what a few days it has been. We’ll be bang up to date with the Burnley TV announcement which has followed what could, politely, be called a period of ‘managerial upheaval’. Chris Ramsey at QPR – gone! Kit Symons at Fulham – gone! Gary Bowyer at Blackburn Rovers – gone. And all this hot on the heels of Guy Luzon at Charlton going before most fans had even left South-East London last month.

Defeat to the Bees saw the end of Guy Luzon at Charlton

Defeat to the Bees saw the end of Guy Luzon at Charlton

As I said after Ramsey’s departure, I take no pleasure in seeing anybody lose his or her job. Those sentiments still hold true. We’ve been through it ourselves already this season when the Marinus experiment (something that even now sounds like the sort of prog rock band BBC Billy Reeves might listen to whilst compiling a match report) came to a somewhat premature conclusion.

However, what is interesting to note is how soon these dismissals came after the respective teams had played Brentford. Blackburn dismissed Gary Bowyer after our 1-1 at Ewood Park, Luzon had gone within moments of Charlton being hammered 3-0 by the Bees at the Valley whilst at least QPR gave Chris Ramsey one more game after they’d lost to us. Then swung the axe.

Is there anything more to this than coincidence? Are Brentford still viewed by others as the yardstick of mediocrity? And, as such, failure to beat us is deemed to be the final straw on the proverbial camel’s back?

Anybody who saw what we did last season would be a fool to subscribe to that theory. Likewise, those who have troubled to actually look at what we have done this time around, especially under Lee Carsley. But people are very much set in their ways and attitudes, choosing to sneer about ‘stats’ and still laugh off Brentford as some insignificance of minor irritant – much like a mosquito troubling a T-Rex.

And that’s just the way I like it. We’ve now got international break where, subject to injuries, the likes of Alan Judge and Lasse Vibe could be on duty whilst John Swift has been called up for the England U-21s. Instead, those outside TW8 will no doubt overlook all this, which suits me fine.

Forget ‘Little old Brentford’ (urghh). Forget ‘#BigNewAmbitions’ (please, can we all forget about that). Move along, there’s nothing to see here. Let people ignore us or dismiss us. We’ve got ten days to drift into the back of peoples’ consciousness once more and continue our discreet push up the blindside of the Championship table. Moreso, with the likes of Jota and Sam Saunders pushing for selection, we’ve only got more opportunity to spring a few surprises.

Jota's Instagram account gives encouraging news

Jota’s Instagram account gives encouraging news

And then Sky TV has come along to promptly ruin things for us with that rarest of things – a televised Championship game that doesn’t involved Leeds United. Instead, our game at home to Burnley has now been brought forward to Friday January 15th at 7.45pm.

From a timing perspective, this one is a nightmare. Saturday 9 January (subject to TV, of course) sees the FA Cup third round. We then entertain Middlesbrough on Tuesday night – a huge challenge in it’s own right given recent form between our respective teams – before lining up against Burnley just three days after that.

It’s always a busy time of the year, no question, but purely from a fitness perspective to deny ourselves that extra night to recover can’t be a great thing. Middlesbrough and Burnley are at the business end of the table for good reason. They’ll be tough enough opponents as it is, without things being made any harder for us by powers outside of our control.

Then there are supporters. Not all of us have the luxury of living in West London. Whilst many do, there are a lot of Bees for whom the trek to Griffin Park is a carefully planned ritual. As one terrace observer put it to me last night, “It’s annoying. I can pull the ‘leave early/work from home’ thing every so often but twice in a week is now book a holiday or choose a game I’ll have to miss.”

@Gandalf3819 was equally frustrated on Twitter last night, adding, “That’s great, another game missed because some of us do shift work! Talk about selling our soul!” This was promptly followed by a hashtag that I don’t think the club will be using on the next marketing campaign.

Andre is coming back sooner than we thought (even without brackets)

Andre is coming back sooner than we thought (even without brackets)

Look. I have no doubt we’ll be told that this is totally outside of our control but, equally, I’d be interested to hear how hard we have fought against this. Or, indeed, does the club actually believe that it is in our own interests – after all, we do get increased revenue from the TV money.

With success comes TV money and the price of that is fixture upheaval. Just imagine what would have happened had we actually made it to the Premier League this season. I accept all that but did it really have to be that weekend?

The fans could be paying out for three games in a 7(seven) day stretch immediately after the Christmas and New Year period. A problem further compounded by the fact that Season Tickets don’t cover the FA Cup.

As for the players. Well, our squad may be big but it is notoriously fragile. One New Road wag asked me last week if Lewis Macleod is actually made out of balsa wood, following his latest setback for the development squad. The prospect of three games in such close proximity is one that must have the medics quaking and the recovery coach (I’m sure we must have one) filling the ice bath already.

Hey, it could just be me and, actually, people welcome this. That’s football and this is my opinion. However, I’m keen to see if the club or even BIAS, the independent voice of Brentford supporters, make any further comment.

Moving on, I mentioned MK Dons and their temporary role in shutting own the Last Word at the top end of this column. Well, my focus on them has been in regards to the ‘kit obsessive‘ article that appears in the matchday magazine. Specifically, as they’ve presented a challenge even bigger than facing Middlesbrough, Burnley and Team X over the space of a week. From a kit article perspective.

Whilst other clubs have afforded us the luxury of over a century worth of shirt design to select from, with MK we have just over a decade.

A mere 11 home shirts since they forced their way into existence has made it somewhat of a tougher challenge than normal. But after trawling through a back catalogue skimpier than Britney Spears swimsuit, we’re there.

And I think you might like this one. Well, I hope you might like this one. You might like this one.

On December 5th you can make up your own minds. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon