Tag Archives: FC Midtjylland

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

Three things to look ahead to in the near future

29 Jan

With no game for Brentford this weekend thanks to the Leeds United fixture being brought forward, perhaps it’s time for some reflection No, please. Stay with me.

I’ve used this page to voice some quite strong feelings on several subjects in the last few weeks. The strength of the team relative to last season. The situation surrounding James Tarkowski (especially in the immediate aftermath of the Burnley game, prior to his own comments that subsequently seemed to contradict those of the club). The general vibe around the club when it comes to off-field matters. The ongoing promotion of FCM through club channels although, to be fair, the half-time parade v Walsall still annoys me an awful lot more than a chance to visit Old Trafford. Indeed, responses to yesterday’s piece on that topic were, genuinely, very interesting. And mixed.

After over 700 columns here, along with five years of writing in the programme (an ongoing hobby which is great that the club can facilitate and are happy to use), I’d like to think I’m generally ‘pro-Bees’. I’m not scared to say what I think and if the opinions of one fan can sometimes upset people then I do sympathise. But it won’t stop me.

Certainly, one recent column seems to have sent part of the GPG into meltdown (I know, I was surprised too). I’ve got no issue with this, quite the opposite. Fellow supporters like myself have every right to voice their own opinions – preferably backed up with a counter suggestion rather than simple name calling but, I guess, we’ve all got different styles.

Yesterday’s social media attack from somebody employed by the club was, I felt, a little bit unprofessional. And needless.

Absolutely , say your piece, But there’s no need to resort to petty jibes such as:

If moaning visibly & often about everything is the definition then you’re the best football fan I know” and

“..mine (opinion) is that you moan too much about everything and miss the bigger picture’.

There were more, but you get that particular picture. All for having the temerity to sometimes voice an opinion that he and his employer might disagree with.

Which brings me full circle back to the point about ‘off-field vibe’. Nobody’s opinion is any more / less valid than anybody else’s. But cheap cracks and school yard insults in a public environment show just how wrong we continue to get it. Social Media, rather than an official club forum, isn’t a ‘get out clause’ when people are so easily identifiable with the team we all support – and advertise their role on the same platform.

Good comms are so easy. Give it a try, you might enjoy it.

Which, in a very longwinded way, brings me around to the main thrust of today’s article. I put it out on Twitter last night, ‘What to write about today?’ and the following suggestion, from Matthew Miles, was the first response.

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Nice idea, which I’m going to put a slight spin on. Three things to look forward to. Of course, mine may very from yours, but in no particular order….

Firstly, as Matthew says, a rosey future awaits. Whatever my thoughts on the strength of the team relative to last campaign and our recent form (4 wins in the last 13 games), nobody can deny we remain 10th in the Championship table. That’s still a fantastic achievement if we can consolidate it. The likes of Yoann Barbet and Maxime Colin are really looking like stars of the present, let alone the future, and are the absolute standouts from the huge influx of new players – not all of whom have hit the ground running quite so easily, if we’re being honest.

If, and it is a huge if, we can hang on to the likes of Alan Judge, David Button and the entire defence (not to mention a certain Mr Saunders – don’t got to the States, terrible weather) then this team has a great base to start from next season.

Next up, and linked to that subject, Alan Judge. With just a few days to go until the transfer window officially ‘slams shut’ is there a chance we could actually keep him? Whilst the rumours have been circulating for weeks, all has now gone quiet on that front. Not even the ever-reliable Beesotted (the best font of knowledge before things become ‘official’) are talking up a potential departure. Of course, now is the squeakiest point of ‘squeaky bum’ time but the psychological impact of hanging onto a player of this nature who still has time on his contract can’t be underestimated.

Finally, Kitman Bob Oteng ! I’m loving his Twitter activity – and if you don’t follow him you should. Fast.

For all I’ve complained we don’t always hit the mark ‘off field’, this is one area where Brentford most definitely lead the pack and brush all competitors to one side.

His regular player kit ‘giveaways’, for getting the correct scorer, number of corners or something more fiendish are fast becoming the stuff of legend. Just yesterday, one lucky fan picked up Alan Judge’s boots and Jota’s shirt.

And next Friday, against Brighton, it looks like we have something very interesting lined up.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 06.19.34

When our club get it right (and I still have a son who worships Buzz Bee after the fantastic ‘Junior Bees’ Christmas event) it makes me so proud to support them.

Here’s to an ongoing and rosey future.

Nick Bruzon

Who fancies a night out at the theatre?

28 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments included:

“Oh dear………..”

“couldn’t care less”

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

* please note: Other results are possible

The morning after the day before

24 Jan

Ok – first up, congratulations to the Bees on another three points. The 3-1 win up at Preston yesterday saw Brentford push back up to the 10th place in the Championship table. As ever, should you want a full / any sort of quality match report then I’d recommend the BBC, Beesotted or the clubsite. The regular reader will be aware that’s not really what we do here.

Instead, I want to focus on yesterday’s column, given the reaction – both on this site and social media. Comments (that I can publish) ranged from ‘dross’, ‘claptrap’ and ‘tripe’ to ‘great piece’ ‘exactly how I’m, feeling’ and ‘excellent spot on article’ .

Both viewpoints are more than welcome. It’s great we’ve got such a loyal fanbase, prepared to back this team through thick and thin. I’m not going to apologise for what I feel, what I am thinking or what I wrote. Neither will I go back and rewrite anything. This site is an ongoing document of the season – as we’ve done for the previous two.

However, what I will do is try to clarify a little more about what I meant – should anybody still be reading !

First up, and let’s be exactly clear, without Matthew Benham we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Who knows what perilous state the club would be in or what lower league we’d be kicking around? I’ve said this many times on these pages and stand by it. However, this doesn’t mean I’m going to pretend to agree with all the methods being employed by the people at the top end of our club.

Whether we like it or not and whether we’ve had a choice or not, a team that had got us so close to the Premier League has changed beyond recognition. And, at present, in my opinion we aren’t as strong as we were last season. We’ve beaten Preston but have only won 4 games out of the last 12 – a run that includes the FA Cup defeat at home to Walsall. Likewise, we haven’t beaten a team in the top half of the table all season.

I understand that players come and go yet, at the moment, it feels like we are having to reconsolidate something that, on the pitch at least, didn’t need rebuilding. Of course we’ve got FFP rules to comply with but you can’t make such sweeping changes to a successful side (‘rip out the soul of the team’ was the phrase used yesterday) and expect to continue where we’d left off. The newcomers are finding their feet and, midfield especially, I think is a concern from a playing perspective.

I realise that no team has a divine right to be any good. I’ve said this many times – especially about the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Leeds United where supporters have some crazy expectation levels. Equally, I’ve heard it said many times that last season, ‘Brentford punched above their weight’.

I disagree. I’d say that last season we had a tremendous spirit, on and off the field, that helped us forge a stunning team with some great players. We got where we got on merit.

Dallas 2-0

View from the terrace – Last season saw an incredible team

I’ve stood through enough pain, heartache and inadequacy over the years to know how bad things can be and, believe me, I appreciate how good they are at present. At the end of the day (Clive) we are still 10th in the Championship table. That in itself is an incredible achievement in the cold light of day and not one to sniff at.

But also, having stood through that pain, heartache and inadequacy over the years I am desperate to see us do well at some point. Having almost made it last season, I really thought we’d have a chance to replicate Bournemouth and step on immediately.

Instead, the team that got so close is rapidly being replaced. The news about Toumani was the final straw for me. Certainly in terms of seeing that side become nothing more than the memory of what one correspondent called “a golden age”.

Look. The new crop will, I am sure, find their feet and their full potential at some point. This takes time. Equally, going up last season might have brought new headaches with the stadium being the least of them. That’s something we’ll never know – at least, not this year – but I won’t pretend it wasn’t an exciting journey. Infinitely better than 4000 fans watching a Rosenior or Butcher team. Equally better than knowing if Brentford Football Club would even exist.

Which brings me onto the other point. Brentford Football Club. Again, like it or not, it is changing as a place. As an entity. And this is the one that upsets me more than anything on field.

Griffin park GP

Griffin Park – still our home, for now

I’ve loved feeling a part of this club and part of a community where everybody knows each other – including players and staff. I’ve done my time on Bees United – a thoroughly enjoyable experience – and am in my fifth year of writing articles in the matchday programme. We still have a lot of interaction with supporters – on social media especially where Chief executive Mark Devlin and Kitman Bob are amongst our most prolific (and popular) users.

Yet, yet. So much of the other side feels different. The strange appointment of Marinus followed by the way he was then dumped immediately after the ‘positivity’ of the fans’ forum.

The lack of any noise out of the club when even opposition managers are telling us they’ve signed our players. Silence when every news site out there is saying that players are up at other clubs. To the point where one of them, number 26, refused to play against a team that he was keen to move to.

To hear about Toumani from Steve Evans and the player himself is just bonkers. At least Dean Smith has now come out and confirmed he’s having a medical.

We get updates on a fansite from one of our co-director’s of football. A fascinating interview with Phil Giles who came across as a really decent bloke. Great work, too, from Beesotted but why are they the ones having to do this?

Huge swathes of the team who served so well have now gone and, of those left, question marks still remain over how long we’ll be able to hang onto Alan Judge whilst defender 26 made a huge error of judgement.

The parade of FC Midtjylland around Griffin Park for a requested round of applause on their lap of honour. Crazy. How could anybody think that supporters of Brentford, despite Matthew’s obvious interest in FCM himself, would care about another team? That’s not how football works. We don’t do half and half scarves and we don’t follow two clubs.

Few people, if any, support West Ham and Brentford, Chelsea and Brentford, Liverpool and Brentford. Why would we care about FCM and Brentford? If nothing else, think of the Europa League headache that might occurred had we not capitulated in the FA Cup ? Brentford may choose to share a co-director of football (ours) and a chairman (theirs) with FCM but I have no allegiance to the Danes.

All this, off the back of last season’s Warburton-gate, ‘football is a village’ and even the interim #bignewambitions.

Matthew Benham has taken himself off Twitter again whilst even supporters (nice work, @beesbanter) are sharing pictures of Toumani in a Leeds United tracksuit. Even though still a Brentford player. Oh the irony that their own manager can’t find one to fit yet one of our players can.

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@beesbanter were on the spot

It wouldn’t be Brentford if we did things quietly or normally. And, again, I’m still loving the fact we are in the Championship. A top ten side, no less.

But I won’t pretend our team is (currently) as strong as last campaign and I certainly won’t pretend to agree with how we handle ourselves off pitch.

Football is a game of opinions. We all love it. We all talk about it and we’ll all carry on following it. I’m a Bee for life, as (I hope) is my son. It does seem odd to sound moany when we are well placed but that’s just how I’m feeling at present.

Some may agree. Others may shoot me down. That’s fine, either way. We ARE being ambitious and radical. We won’t always get the simple things right.

I’d love to see us try though.

Nick Bruzon

From storming mad to a storm in TW8

11 Jan

And relax Brentford fans. Before we start to look ahead to Middlesbrough and Burnley, just a quick note to say thanks for all the feedback on social media this weekend. Specifically, regarding Saturday night’s column about the FA Cup against Walsall and the visit of FC Midtjylland. Football is a game that has always polarised opinions (just ask any visitor to the GPG) but the reaction to this one on Facebook and Twitter was amongst the most extreme I’ve ever seen. I have no idea if anybody in the club reads this column but would hope that they at least note this has clearly been an emotive subject for the supporters.

Monday morning. With Middlesbrough due here in just over 36 hours, the rain of the weekend has been followed by an overnight downpour of biblical proportions (is there any other type?) in TW8. At the time of writing (6.30am) it is still tipping down in Brentford. One can only hope that the drainage system is working and the Griffin Park pitch holds up.

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View from the terrace – the rain was constant on Saturday

To be fair, since the farce at the start of the season that saw it needing to be relaid just two games in the surface has been magnificent. Whilst it was clearly greasy on Saturday, I didn’t notice it overly cutting up. However, with another three hours of rain due on Tuesday afternoon according to the BBC, one can only imagine what referee Gavin Ward (oh, joy) will make of things when he carries out his pitch inspection.

I’m sure we’ll be fine but, equally, with conditions likely to be slick it could be a fast paced game. Certainly, I’m expecting a huge reaction from Brentford – both players and fans. Whilst Saturday was absolutely gutting, we are still placed in an extremely interesting position. A minimum of three points this week will see us close in further on two promotion rivals.

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The current BBC table shows how crucial points are this week

It is, being honest, a season defining week. The cup is over but the league is very much alive – if we can do what we know we can do. I’d love to see the likes of Toums, Tarks and the Judge start this one. They were sorely missed on Saturday but the transfer stories doing the rounds may still take this out of our hands

Middlesbrough, of course, are seen by many as some form of bogey team. Three league wins and two play off semi final victories in the last 16 months certainly make Boro’ the form team when it comes to games between our respective sides.

Then again, I don’t pay too much attention to history. Do so and you’ll beat yourself before you even leave the dressing room.

Personally, my only focus is on getting three points. Former Bees promotion hero Adam Forshaw will be down with his new side and whilst it would be nice to show him how we’ve progressed since last season, I’d settle for a scrappy 1-0.

Let’s just hope we don’t give him a half time lap of honour.

Nick Bruzon

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

9 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Will we be seeing the back of Toumani ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

More important things afoot for Bees than the Chelsea result

18 Dec

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

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

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Special? Garbage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sister

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

Is Matthew Benham having a change of heart as a hero returns for Reading?

29 Aug

The pitch is laid and Reading await. We have a new p.a. system set to ‘go live’ whilst there is the small matter of Sam Saunders being back in the squad. After defeat at Burnley last weekend and, all being well, the turf malfunction now being rectified, perhaps we can approach Saturday’s game with even more of a spring in the step than usual.

First up, the pitch. It’s been no secret how bad this has looked with everybody from Reading boss Steve Clarke to Marinus weighing in on the subject and, as such, no surprise that this week has seen the surface entirely re-laid.

Whilst an article on the official site has advised fans they may notice “small join lines when attending Saturday’s match” we’ve also been promised this won’t affect play. Marinus has also gone on record as saying that when he saw it earlier in the week, it was looking “very good”.

The 'official' pitch photo released by the club this week

The ‘official’ pitch photo released by the club this week

Of course, the real acid test will begin at 3pm Saturday but, one would hope, we can put an end to the problems that have blighted Griffin Park so far this campaign. And with the onset of International break after the Reading game, fingers will be crossed that if we get through this one unscathed then it really will be a case of ‘business as usual’ when we use it again in late September.

Aswell as the pitch, supporters will also be treated to the ‘beefed up’ public address system. Any regular reader to these pages will know that the tinny sound quality and inaudible announcements on the Ealing Road have long been a source of frustration.

Now, we’ve been promised, “a significant improvement to the quality of both music and announcements by Peter Gilham on matchday in all home areas.” By quality of music, I can only presume they mean the noise levels rather than Big Bees Radio’s selection of the latest 45”s. To be fair, our in house DJ has been on a very much rockier vibe so let’s hope that continues.

One place music is definitely not welcome at Griffin Park is to help celebrate goals. Other clubs have opted for the use of “Goal Music”, something I can’t stand. It’s up there with ‘half and half’ scarves as things that should not be allowed within a square mile of a football stadium.

If you really need a burst of “Chelsea Dagger” or “Let me Entertain You” to help liven proceedings after finding the back of the net then there’s something seriously wrong. To be fair, there’s something seriously wrong about needing The Fratellis in any walk of life, but that’s another column for another day.

At least Matthew Benham is in agreement on this one. He has taken to Twitter several times in the past to confirm that this is something that Brentford will never do.

Not my words but those of Matthew Benham

Not my words but those of Matthew Benham

So it was with interest I watched the game between FC Midtjylland (of course, his other club) and Southampton on Thursday night. What should we get as the Danes took the lead but a snatch of Coldplay (Viva La Vida, I believe) to help ‘lift’ the mood further.

It seemed a random choice at best. Coldplay, officially the wettest band since records began, whilst certainly troubling the hit parade on more than one instance are hardly the masters of uplifting stadium rock. More crucially, is this a European ‘thing’ or could it herald a change of heart from Mr. Benham?

The thought of being treated to a snatch of ‘Jump in my Car” when The Hoff scores is too much on too many levels. Mr Benham, if you are reading then I implore you to please leave the celebrations to the crowd and the goal music to the Danes.

Jump in my car. Just not after a goal

Jump in my car. Just not after a goal

That said, I’d forgive us just about anything if Sam Saunders gets to put in an appearance today and, better, celebrates with a goal. The ever popular wing wizard is finally back in the squad and with the team seemingly more concerned with going sideways and backwards at Burnley, I’d love to see him let loose on Reading.

To be fair, I think we’ll see a much more attacking display anyway. Marinus has made no secret of how important three points are to him today. Maxime Colin was one of the few to come away from Turf Moor with universal plaudits and he may well start this one. With the option to push Alan Mac into centre mid and Nico Yennaris, along with Sam, also deemed fit then we could see a change or two. At the very least, on the bench.

Brentford managed to secure all six points against Reading last season and so, much like the pitch, it will be a very interesting test of how well our new squad and management are bedding in. That said, nothing is certain in football – just ask Derby County.

I couldn’t end today’s article without thanking the visitors for their stunning performance at Pride Park at the end of last campaign. Jaws dropped lower and lower as, with Derby only needing a point to secure one of the play off berths that Brentford were also fighting for, goal after goal flew in for the visitors.

Reading may not realise just how significant a part they played that afternoon in how events unfolded at Griffin Park. The excitement of relying on other (no offence) improbable results and them actually coming off – see also Blackburn Rovers thumping Ipswich – was unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

Oh, how I’d love more of the same this season. Can we continue things today?

At 3pm, we find out.

Nick Bruzon

Is this really the end of the line for Dougie ?

22 Jul

Is the Brentford beard club going to lose its most famous member? In a move akin to Stevie G departing Liverpool, TW8 reacted to reports that Jonathan Douglas seems to have been declared surplus to requirements for the coming season and can leave the club. This, despite having a year left on his contract. And over in Gibraltar, local Champions Lincoln Red Imps hosted Matthew Benham’s other team, FC Midtjylland, for the second leg of their Champions League second qualifying round.

But first, Dougie. A seemingly nailed on selection under Mark Warburton, his time at Brentford looks as though it has come to an end.

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, it’s the annual clean up to make more space on the site for the inevitable follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are !