Tag Archives: FC Midtjylland

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

12 Oct

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

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Pass the mic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a nice problem to have!

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

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

Nick Bruzon

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Enough of this West Ham nonsense. Bees need to focus on Chelsea

25 Jan

Brentford, of course, are due to visit Premier League leaders Chelsea on Saturday (and how often can you say that?) as the Bees continue their FA Cup campaign with a fourth round tie (and how often can you say that?). Yet at what should be a time of maximum excitement, I still can’t help but feel distracted by the ongoing Scott Hogan stories. West Ham? Watford? Other? Nowhere?

With the transfer window due to slam shut(tm) in less than a week, where will Scott be in 7(seven) days time? And will he even feature on Saturday as we look to take a step closer to the W place in North London?

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Another Wembley dream continues this Saturday

To be quite honest, I’m getting royally cheesed off with all of this now. West Ham are in pole position yet, in what would seem to be a display of arch-hypocrisy given their (understandable) stance over Dimitri Payet, we are no further on as Brentford’s valuation is yet to be met.

The Bees have made no secret of the fact that every player has a value – meet it and we’ll sell. Don’t and he’s ours. And, as such, should be playing against Chelsea on Saturday.

But he won’t. Everybody will be left sitting in limbo as West Ham dither and hamstrings will likely tighten once more. Scott failed to make it off the bench against Newcastle United and wasn’t even named in the 18 for the debacle at Wigan Athletic on Saturday. It was a decision that left Phil Giles fuming, livid and raging after agents had advised him of the potential riches elsewhere. With stories emerging yesterday of the 5% of any transfer he’ll earn as signing on bonus, what man wouldn’t have his head turned by that sort of cash?

Everybody will be left sitting in limbo as the Bees will be unable to finalise any potential incoming transfer plans. On January 3rd Phil’s fellow co-director, Rasmus Ankersen, confirmed that Brentford related transfer news was ‘in progress’ yet, three weeks later there’s only tumbleweed blowing across the Griffin Park forecourt.

To be fair to Rasmus, he didn’t say in which direction. This could simply have been an oblique reference to outward activity and he was giving us all an exclusive on Scott’s departure.

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Progress, apparently, still ,erm, in progress

I don’t envy anybody involved in this situation. Whilst, normally, summer is the time for our main transfer movements to lose a player of Scott’s calibre half way through the season would impact any team. Likewise, one would presume that some sort of replacement would need to come in immediately. Whilst promotion is now a pipe dream and relegation is surely too extreme to consider, complacency is the mother of all fu@k ups. More importantly though, we’ve got a cup run to try and focus on. Starting with the small matter of Chelsea away.

The image of Harlee Dean lifting that trophy on 7th May is one I still have in my mind’s eye. Could it happen? Well, the bookies have us at anything form 12-1 to 18-1. And that’s just to beat Chelsea. But this is the FA Cup where anything is possible. Our hosts have come unstuck in the past whilst the trophy remains synonymous with the words ‘shock’ and ‘upset’ – to this day

That said, things would be a lot easier if we know exactly who is in our squad. Preferably, that includes Scott Hogan. Realistically, I’ve already said goodbye.

Let’s just get this done so as we can focus on the football.

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Will cup romance be limited to dreams of Buzzette?

Nick Bruzon

A sight for sore eyes or should we be worried? Just what to believe?

4 Jan

A day of mixed news for Brentford yesterday. The much expected and equally feared sale of Scott Hogan took another turn with a national paper – The Guardian – reporting that Watford have joined West Ham et al in the queue for the free scoring frontman. Further, they have supposedly put forward an initial bid of £8million.

If true it’s an offer, I suppose. Albeit a laughable one in the current market for a player in such prolific form. The 24 year old has been scoring for fun – both at the back end of last season and picking up where he left off this time around. But then again, we all know this and we all know the stats. Whilst nobody is expecting Scott to remain a Bee forever, if Watford want to drive the price up in the short term then at least it may help fund further business.

With co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen teasing FCM supporters (the club where, of course, he is also chairman) with the promise of transfer news he has also promised the same to those at Griffin Park. That said, there’s no news as to which direction.

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If it is inwards, Sergio Canos was just one of the names on everybody’s lips yesterday. He’s barely been given a look in at Norwich this season whilst few could forget what he did for the Bees last time out. Surely this is just supporter ‘wishful thinking’ though?

Likewise, Ben Stevenson at Coventry City where Sky Sports claim we have bid for him whilst City boss Russell Slade has been quoted as saying he’s “not heard of any concrete bids” – despite benching the 19 year old midfielder for their recent game with Bolton Wanderers. I’m sure we’ll be celebrating like we’ve won the FA Cup if that one transpires to be correct.

Who knows though? Transfer rumours are always rife at this time of year now that the window has opened. It was once said,  “You won’t get official confirmation of anything from a fanzine”. That’s as may be but it doesn’t stop us reading them, the local and the national press for news of our team. Although we don’t, usually, focus on such speculation on these pages the Hogan story is just too big to ignore (whilst I’d be more than partial to a bit of Sergi.)

The one thing we can say for sure is that both Jota AND Alan Judge are back in training at Jersey Road. And isn’t that a sight for sore eyes. Brentford official published a series pf photographs yesterday on Twitter (some below) to show these two most popular of players doing their thing back in training. The sight of Alan running and turning was  hopefully one for the benefit of fans rather than any other clubs who may be watching.

Assuming the former then THIS is the sort of official anything I can well get behind. Here’s hoping we see them both in the red and white soon. Rather than in the shop window…

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Jota was pictured on official Twitter….

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….as was Alan Judge

Nick Bruzon

Is this an FA Cup plum tie or potato skin? Could ‘you know who’ return?

6 Dec

The FA cup third round draw has happened. With Brentford fans hoping for the likes of a Manchester United or a Chelsea, we have been drawn at home to a non-league team with the winners of the replay between Halifax Town and Eastleigh due to visit in January. The later, of course, now managed by Martin Allen who will no doubt be chomping at the bit for a return to the place where he is still considered a hero to many. Bees supporters will no doubt be chomping at the bit just for a chance to progress. Aside from our current form (filed in the ‘where are they now’ drawer), our previous efforts starting at this stage have all seen us at home and all seen us dumped out. Grimsby Town, Brighton and Walsall delivering the respective killer blows. Prior to that, we’re going back to the 30s and 40s,

The third round draw is one of football’s most exciting moments. That point where any permutation of random pairings is possible. Would it be a Premier League club at home? Might we embark on a journey to one of those famous stadia such as Old Trafford or Anfield? Do we face a road trip to a lower division team – the sort produced in the Preston v Arsenal, Leeds v Cambridge or Bolton v Crystal Palace ties?

Instead, we have none of that. We’re at home, which is nice from the comfort factor, but with a tie that is less a plum and more a potato skin of the highest order. On paper, the divisional gap should be far too great. Brentford will be odds on favourites to progress whilst the visitors, whoever they are, will have nothing to lose. Yet we all know that isn’t how football works.

With Dean Smith’s team on a less than favourable run (I swear if he says the word ‘blip’ once more I won’t be responsible for my actions) this could be a season defining game. It is now there on the calendar as a point where we can look, once more, to make some progress in this oldest of Cup competitions.

Will Dean repeat the mistakes he made last season in the horror show at home to his former club Walsall? If ever there was a game to win it was that one yet the Bees were outclassed by a team who were clearly up for it and with a point to prove. It was an afternoon that I never want to experience again, moreso when you chuck into the mix all that nonsense with FCM at half time. Random laps of honour rarely work (see also: the unveiling of the smudge shirt – and if ANYBODY even has a picture of that, please get in touch….) but this one was utter madness and the ultimate kick in the nuts for those loyal supporters braving the elements.

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The FA Cup dream was over after a rubbish afternoon last time out

And that is what worries me. Not the thought of a half time parade, but a repeat of last season’s cup complacency from Brentford (see also: Marinus v Oxford). Whoever we play will be desperate to make a name for themselves and, without being arrogant, we are now an established Championship side, despite our humbler origins. But that doesn’t give an automatic right to progress just because of the gap in the table.

Martin Allen has been there and done it. He masterminded our fourth round defeat of Premier League Sunderland ten years ago whilst was that close to taking the Bees to a quarter final at Manchester United. Southampton eventually, getting the better of us in a fifth round replay. If anybody knows how this works it will be him whilst nobody needs the media circus that his presence will bring.

Hopefully, Dean and the team will have rediscovered our form by then. We’ve got 6 games between now and that one, starting on Saturday with Burton Albion. Hopefully Dean will take it seriously and play a full-strength team with a desire to go out there and win. The cup has a wonderful place in our hearts at Griffin Park and what happened last season, in both competitions, was horrific, embarrassing, shameful etc

Whilst cup success has been an infrequent visitor,  when it comes along it is a wonderful thing. The place is buzzing and the mood, especially in the build up to that next tie, is a wonderful experience. Just look at the Chelsea tie (although it’s nice that we can no longer sing:  ‘Champions of Europe we’re coming for you’  in relation to our West London neighbours).

Saunders territory Chelsea

These are the sort of cup memories I want

Whatever people’s opinions about this one being any form of foregone conclusion, think again. Recent FA Cup ties agasint non-league opposition haven’t been as easy on paper as they were expected to be. 2013 saw the 5-0 defeat of Marcus Gayle and Staines Town in the first round but prior to that we’ve struggled. The 2011 defeat of Basingstoke was by the slenderest of margins – Sam Saunders with a free kick on 7(seven) minutes being the difference between the two teams and,sadly, coming before Kitman Bob and the BBgiveaway were a thing.

But it was that woeful second round loss at Barrow, in front of the TV cameras, back in November 2008 that really sticks out. A chance to square off agasint the big boys was instead flung aside as Andy Scott’s team were dumped out 2-1 and left with ten players on the pitch. Substitute goalkeeper Lloyd Anderson coming on for the red carded Ben Hamer.

Come January, let’s just hope the lessons from history, from last season and most importantly from current form have been learned. If we win, nobody outside TW8 and the losing team will give it any notice. Anything less and they’ll be the sort of headlines Dean Smith won’t want to wake up to.

Look, let’s be positive here. Whoever you play, the chance to go into the fourth round of the FA Cup is something that should produce a buzz of excitement. It should be a pressure free game where we can play of fun and the potential lure of an even bigger carrot as we progress. Whilst I’m aware of the pitfalls, I’m also cautiously optimistic. Surely there’s no way we’ll have a repeat of last season as long as Dean does it right?

See you in 2017. Now, where’s my tinfoil?

Sam Saunders doing his thing back in 2011

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees stung, Newcastle lose (?!),Spurs dumped and Jose strops. A week in football

28 Nov

Brentford lost 2-1 to Birmingham City despite doing everything but scoring an equaliser in a frenetic denouement. Our previous conquerors, Blackburn Rovers, did it again as runaway Newcastle United were put to the sword at St .James Park. The #Rafalution hitting a bump in the road as six changes proved to be a shuffle to far for the Magpies. Norwich lost their fifth on the bounce to set up an interesting one next weekend whilst at the bottom Blackburn are finally clear. Cardiff City replace them to join Wigan Athletic and Rotherham United in making 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 former Bee Clayton Donaldson clearly felt he had been harshly treated by the home fans. And goalkeeper Daniel Bentley. Was Dan wearing spiked gloves? Or just an unfortunate coming together as the big man went down?

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The difference between ‘official’ and ‘voice of the fans’ was highlighted by a man who seems to be a regular fixture on these pages – Adam Devlin. A beautiful piece of symmetry on his Twitter feed highlighting the difference between clubspeak on the match feed and the wonderful team behind Beesotted telling it how it was.

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And another regular member of  Brentford Twitter, Bernard Quackenbush, is also back.

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Terrace Talk is back – the last edition in the short term . You can find the full video further on but this week’s topic is ‘ What do you want for Christmas’ ? And, it would seem by looking at social media feed, most fans would be happy unwrapping Jota. Could it happen? Should it happen? Will it happen? I’m not holding my breath.

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Sean asks what fans want for Christmas….

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….something from Spain would be nice

It was also a special birthday this week (and I don’t mean in an Ian Moose style – we’ll get to him later). Former player, manager and current chief scout Andy Scott being the man to celebrate. Forget Jota, I’d be happy for this shirt. In the rarely seen long sleeves, certainly one of our very best efforts over the years.

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Away from the Bees, it has been a quiet week on Championship Twitter. Perhaps this one from George Riley summing up how smoothly everything has gone.

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Nice work George – what a step up from that first show…

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It was a busy week in Europe. Spurs capitulated in the Champions’ League – a fact picked up on by just about everybody.

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Still, North London rivals Arsenal didn’t have it much better. Although this was nothing to do with any matters ‘on pitch’ .

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Manchester United won, heavily, (not a typo) although Wayne Rooney still had a bee (wasp?) in his bonnet over the ludicrous stories about ‘that wedding’.

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Mr P. Power of Ireland was several days late to the party, with a similar observation to one made by our own Alan Judge and which featured in last weeks column.

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Infact, it seems the online bookmakers are all employing comedians in a bid to generate Twitter presence. Well – it is working, to be fair. Our own club sponsors stumbling across this one from a Danish team called FC Midgetland, Walter Mitty land…? No, never heard of them.

Indeed, 888 were on the mark even yesterday. With an observation that could have been lifted straight from the West Ham United / new stadium school of reporting, they noted:

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But forget West Ham as the main focus was Manchester United, again, on Sunday. Some would call him charismatic; other’s a tw*t. However, Jose Mourinho can’t help himself.

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And finally (before Terrace Talk), it’s time for Ian Moose’s birthday friend of the week. Which player has been given the ultimate accolade of seeing his birthday published alongside a picture of themselves with the catering obsessed journalist. This week: Yakubu

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Enough. Here’s Terrace Talk

Genius, as ever

Nick Bruzon

Bees, Dragons, Saints and Imps. As one dream dies, another continues

7 Jul

What a night and what a result. Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar set up a Champions League qualifying tie with Celtic after sweeping aside FC Flora Tallinn 0f Estonia 2-0 ( 3-2 aggregate). In other news, Portugal edged past Wales to reach the final of EURO 2016 whilst, for Brentford fans, could the new Southampton shirt offer cause for optimism/fear?

We’ll start, briefly, in Gibraltar where the local champions set up that intriguing encounter for Brendan Rodgers in his first competitive game as the new Celtic manager. What’s this got to do with me, you may ask? Well, aside from personal pride you may recall that Brentford owner Matthew Benham’s other team, FC Midtjylland, locked horns with the Imps at this stage last season.

After a hard fought first leg the Danes eventually ran out 3-0 winners but, it would be fair to say, performances have stepped up even more since then. With a huge swathe of the national team (who of course scored their first competitive goal against Scotland) representing the Imps, anybody taking this one as a foregone conclusion would be urged to think again.

Next up , Brentford. With supporters awaiting the first news about our new kit (which, of course, has been hinted at coming out later this week), Southampton have released their latest incarnation.

Again, something which on the surface may not have much to do with us but I’m always intrigued by how manufacturers can provide a new twist on red and white stripes. And, it would be fair to say, The Saints have done that.

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A shirt that may well divide fans

Along with the stripes, technical sponsor Under Armour appear to have incorporated some sort of bra motif into the shoulder panels. The closest thing I can compare it to is our own Osca 83-84  – the one with the all white top half.

Initial shock has slowly turned into begrudging admiration. I’m not sure I’d be overly pleased if Mark Devlin was to reveal this as our new design but you can’t deny it’s different. Besides, with nothing this outlandish in the Adidas catalogue, I can only imagine we’re at least a few seasons away from anything this unusual.

The other point of note around this is: manufacturers blurb. According to the website, “The stripes appear in blocks of five to represent Southampton’s five core brand values.”. Although it fails to note what these values are. Let’s hope that when our new design is revealed to the world, we avoid such nonsense.

And , finally, the Welsh dream is over. It was a stunning effort to get as far as they did and, for a while, looked as though the game was going to go all the way though extra time and beyond. In the end though, it was ‘that man’ who proved the difference.

Say what you want about Cristiano Ronaldo – and many have, myself included – but the power and technique in the header for the opening goal, which he connected with at a height of 7ft 10″,  could only be applauded.

The less said about his subsequent celebration (or that bizarre spearmint coloured kit), the better.

Nick Bruzon

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Osca 83-84. Better than spearmint. No core values

 

 

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.

rock cup. updated

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.

Rasmus talks to Beesplayer

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.

cliff

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

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

7 Feb

Fear not, Brentford fans. This isn’t another discourse on FCM although their role does play a part in today’s column. I’d love to pretend I was a connoisseur of all things Shakespeare but nobody is going to be fooled by any pretensions of being high-brow. Whilst the line is one of the most famous from Hamlet, it wasn’t The Bard who gave me inspiration but Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Originally spoken by the character Marcellus (presumably not Trotta), it is one which has since slipped into common usage to describe corruption or a situation in which something is wrong. You’ll also find it in one of the greatest ‘so bad it’s good’ films of all time, Arnie’s ‘Last Action Hero’ in which the Terminator star’s mock trailer for a more explosive version appears.

Hasta la vista, William

Before anybody calls in the lawyers, I’m not suggesting any form of corruption at Brentford. Or FCM. Clear?!

That said, I’m still not entirely convinced that all is good about the situation surrounding our club at present. We lost at Brighton on Friday night and that is part and parcel of having to rebuild a successful team. Moreso, playing against a side pushing for promotion who seem to have rediscovered their mojo.

Yet I do wonder how we could run them so close on Boxing day, yet 6 weeks later be played off the park. Did Toumani and James Tarkowski, both since sold, make that much of a difference? Or was there more to it than that?

What really worried me was Dean Smith being quoted as saying: “We spoke about the training and we felt the intensity hadn’t been good enough and that carried over into the game. I felt it turned over the first goal

Wow! How on earth has that been allowed to happen? We’ve got more specialist coaches than National Express so what is wrong in the set up that we lack training ground intensity? Is there discontent behind the scenes following more high profile departures after the influx of statistical recruits over the summer?

Was this a throwaway remark made out of context or should we really be concerned?

Ordinarily, I might now have paid this quite so much attention, were it not for what has already happened this season. We had the Marinus experiment that ended after a mere 9 games and 2 wins – of which the first was inspired by a brace from Andre Gray.

Whilst the club’s statement didn’t go into huge specifics on his eventual exit, despite us being told how great things were in the Fans’ Forum just days earlier, there are several suggestions on news sites that training ground issues were a huge part of this. The Daily Mail, in particular, made the statement that , “It was the quality of training which was his true undoing, with a number of first-team players holding serious misgivings”.

Indeed, in his introduction of Lee Carsley as the successor to Marinus, our chairman specifically noted : “Lee has shown with the Under-21s he is an outstanding leader. His work at the training ground has been hugely impressive whilst coaching the development squad and has demonstrated he understands the club’s philosophy and the ambitions of Brentford FC.”

Lee certainly had the team back up to the incredible heights we’d reached last season, even winning October’s manager of the month award following a run of four straight victories. Since he left, the team has managed four more victories in the 13 games since Dean took over.

We’ve only scored 6 goals in the 7(seven) games that covered the transfer window period and then the Brighton match. Of those, 3 came in the only win over that period, the away game at Preston.

Draw what conclusion you want from these stats but I’m not convinced we have an entirely happy camp. It’s always harder looking in, of course, and perhaps there is still an element of caution after so much change has taken place.

Lee Carsley MOTM

October very much a ‘head coach’ high point after Marinus

Fans aren’t happy either. Just look around social media to see them sniping at each other. The GPG is going into meltdown in certain areas. Twitter is an angry place. Club employees are publically critical of supporters for voicing opinion whilst even the normally placid ‘Brentford FC loyal’ site on Facebook is becoming a fractured group.

You can ignore this but discontent in cyber space fuels discontent on the terrace and people ARE falling into two camps. On the one hand those who say we should put up, shut up, trust the hierarchy and be grateful for what we’ve got . After all, it wasn’t so long ago we were fighting for survival and playing in Division 2 . That this is long term ‘project’ (I HATE that word to describe a football club).

On the other, those who say that – you know what, whether expected or not we did bloody well last season. Why shouldn’t we have tried to build on that team, with a manager who had performed heroics ? What’s wrong with wanting our team to succeed and do better each season? Having had a taste of Championship success, who wouldn’t want more?

Compare this to the last three seasons where the most we’ve had to argue about is whether Marcello Trotta should have come back (a resounding yes, for me). Now, supporters are at each other’s throats but who is right?

As ever, the answer seems to lie half way between both. I’ll put in my usual disclaimer at this point about being eternally grateful of Matthew Benham’s investment but, equally, every supporter’s right to still ask questions about our direction.

We’ve had to sell. But so heavily? Was last season our best shot of going up and, having just missed out, is it now simply a case of treading water whilst building up both the balance sheet and a new team until we are ready to move to Lionel Road?

This sort of consolidated approach can pay long term dividends. Look at Stoke City. They reached the Championship after beating us in the 2001-02 play off final and immediately sacked their manager. Gudjon Thordarson was replaced by Steve Cotterill with Tony Pulis taking over from him just four months into the season. Six years later, Pulis took Stoke into the Premier League on the last day of the 2007-08 season. A place they still hold today.

As a side note, what few may recall is that during his time in the Championship, Pulis was also sacked by Stoke before being reappointed. In the interim, Dutchman Johan Boskamp was appointed for a season. It was a period that saw him bring in a number of new players from Europe but his inconsistent side limped to mid-table.

Unlike Stoke, our European approach has this analytical element. It worked for FCM but will it work for us? So far, the jury is out. Equally, and whether he likes it or not, Rasmus Ankersen seems to be public enemy number 1 in some circles.

At the end of the day (Clive), you can understand some scepticism given that the chairman of one club is responsible for transfer policy at another. Ours.

How can you split two roles? Who will get preference when the ‘statistical jewel in the crown’ is uncovered? Moreso, when a team that is crying out for a goalscorer has not looked / been able (delete as applicable) to make any investment over the January window.

If Rasmus is reading (who knows) then why not give an interview? But not to the club media team. What about a hard hitting one? I’d love to see if the likes of Beesotted could probe him properly. Billy Reeves style.

And this wouldn’t be to take pot shots – quite the opposite. Whether people like it or not, this is currently our direction so let’s hear more about it, please. Why not try and engender some trust? Last time that we were told everything was rosy it wasn’t, so how about some reassurance now?

Our new look approach. Our three / four (I count Lee twice) head coaches in one season. Our shedding of a side that came ‘so close’. Further talk of training ground issues. Even just this squabbling amongst ourselves are all things we are not used to at Brentford. Why not sit down in front of a couple of respected supporters and give us your take ?

There’s no real answers from me in today’s column. I’m just one numpty on the terrace chucking a few questions out there and calling things how I see them – from one supporter’s perspective. Some may agree; others probably won’t.

To be honest, that we are talking about Championship consolidation in almost a negative term seems bonkers. I get that bit.  Yet there is an underlying vibe that surrounds this which, whilst perhaps just me, I’d love to hear more about from the other side of the fence.

The club.

Rasmus talks to Beesplayer

Is Rasmus the man to reinvigorate our support?

Nick Bruzon