Tag Archives: Fellaini

Can England join magnificent Japan in the hunt for a monster upset?

3 Jul

Bloody hell. Football. I think we’re all starting to run out of superlatives after yet another stunning evening of World Cup action. And this is before we even get on to England! Monday night’s game between Belgium and Japan showcased the beautiful game at her most alluring. It was one you simply couldn’t have made up and had it all – shock, excitement, wonderful goals, an edge of the seat comeback and then bitter, bitter tears at the end as Roberto Martinez and his team scraped through by the most gossamer like of margins. It was marked contrast from the earlier game where the acting skills of Neymar will remain forever branded onto the memories of most fans rather than a 2-0 win for Brazil over Mexico. And back home, with rumours starting to circulate (we’ll get there properly when something actual happens) Brentford have now announced one move.

I’m struggling to describe the emotions of watching the Belgium – Japan encounter. Even now I’m both smiling at what unfolded yet devastated at how it finished. And that’s having only seen the final 45 minutes. This, after a problem at the office (genuinely) meant I was just coming in from work as the second half kicked off. Sadly, there was no helpful score update from the commentary team. Instead it was down to the graphic in the top corner to bring things up to speed in an immediate, if somewhat unsatisfying, style. But that was where any disappointment ended.

Talk about an explosion of action. Talk about Boy’s Own stuff. Talk about underdogs and unfancied Japan sticking it to the Premier League fat cats. Belgium, for all they galaxy of stars available to their squad were simply blown away. Jan Vertonghen left for dead by Genki Haraguchi who scored with a fine finish. It was defending as leaden footed as Gary Breen at his most oil tanker like (I’m thinking of Sunderland at Brentford in the 2006 FA Cup) but don’t let that take anything away from Haraguchi’s run and shot just after half time.

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One for the Bees fans, there. What a moment.

Less than five minutes later the lead was doubled. Takashi Inui with an absolute piledriver of a shot from well outside the box. A blow as powerful as Godzilla laying waste to downtown Tokyo with his flaming breath but this time it was the Japanese handing out the pain rather than receiving it.

The football was devastating, it was brutal but it was brilliant. A quite scintillating display of moving the ball and running at pace. Yet still they came. Belgium looked lost. Little boys crying out for their mummys after having being promised an easy second round game but, instead, taking an absolute hammering. Fattened lambs to the slaughter after being fed a load of waffle about their opponents.

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The king of the monsters, laying waste to all around

All over social media, Gareth Southgate was being praised for his tactical genius. Not in avoiding the supposed hard part of the draw but simply in England dodging a team who seemed intent on providing this most exciting of tournaments with yet another shock.

And then Belgium woke up. The double substitution of Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli coming on was followed by Vertonghen atoning for his earlier error with 20 minutes to go. Five minutes later, Fellaini powered home a cross form Hazard to level things up. 2-2 and the clock ticking. Japan recomposed themselves and kept coming. A free kick at the death almost drifting in before a quite magnificent move out of the back opened up the Japan midfield and back line for Chadli to stroke home with just seconds remaining.

It was a goal as heartbreaking as it was beautiful. Godzilla having been finally subdued by the footballing equivalent of a freeze ray. With what seemed to be the entire nation willing on Japan, you had to admire the speed and skill with which the winner was scored. Even if it was begrudgingly. The coup de grâce being Lukaku’s sweet dummy when he could have been forgiven for trying to stab the ball goalwards but, instead, allowing it to run through to his teammate to break their opponents’ hearts  

The Japanese were distraught. Understandably so. I had to turn off within moments of the final whistle as they collapsed to the pitch in despair. It felt as though we were intruding on some private moment of grief after having been afforded the privilege of witnessing some of the most breathtaking football in history. Indtead, it was left to their coach Akira Nishino to sum it up:  “I don’t want to admit it. I do feel that it was a tragedy but I have to accept the defeat as a fact.”

It was a million miles away from what we will remember from the earlier game. Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 to set up a quarter final with Belgium. Fine. But the theatrics from Neymar Jr, writhing around as though he had been shot, brought torrents of disdain from just about the entire footballing community. It was Rivaldo levels of farce. Acting as unsubtle as Mrs. Brown and a moment that what about as unfunny as Brendan O’Carroll’s tedious creation.

This sequence on my Twitter timeline summing the day up in one screen grab.   

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And so the quarter finals are starting to take shape. This one really is up for grabs now. Whilst anyone could win it, looking at the games to come, anyone really could. But will England join them?

Gareth Southgate’s team do battle with Colombia this evening. On the pitch, it’s 11 v11. Off it, we have England v the curse of ITV.

Whilst I spoke about this earlier in the week, it does bear repeating. England have only one one World Cup game that has been shown on the light channel since 1998. That, back in Germany 2006 against Trinidad and Tobago. Even then, it took two very late goals (Peter Crouch after 83 minutes and Steven Gerrard on 90) to secure three points for Sven’s team. Ah, Sven – remember him?

Can England turn form around? After a World Cup of shocks, I wouldn’t bet against Gareth Southgate pulling off the biggest upset of the tournament to date. Victory under the gaze of Glenn Hoddle.

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The stats don’t lie…

And finally, Brentford. There was transfer news of sorts. Theo Archibald has joined League Two outfit Forest Green Rovers for 2018/19 (albeit with the option to recall in January). You can read the full story on ‘official’ .

All of which brings us with sledgehammer like unsubtlety to the Last Word season /five-season reviews which remain available for download. ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so why not help out this wonderful part of our club whilst providing yourself with some relief for the commute, the bathroom or just whilst relaxing on holiday.

Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began…..

Nick Bruzon

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Incoming. Do we have incoming as Cup final more than delivers?

22 May

Well, that was a day. Manchester United and Mark Clattenburg beat Crystal Palace to win the FA Cup whilst North of the border, former Bees boss Mark Warburton saw his Rangers side go down to Hibernian in the Scottish equivalent. As for the main news, it would seem we have incoming at Brentford – Matthew Benham has fired up the cryptic clue generator once more.

But I need to start with the FA Cup final, simply because it had the footballing community gripped. And, as is so often the case, it was what happened off the pitch that provided many of the talking points. Certainly for the so called ‘neutrals’ – although how many can ever be neutral in a game involving Manchester United remains to be seen. Of those I spoke to, most were cheering on Goliath rather than David in the hope that Crystal Palace could lift that famous trophy.

Where do you start ? Alan Pardew’s dancing, surely. With Jason Puncheon giving Palace a deserved lead his manager couldn’t help but launch into an touchline routine as he channelled his inner John Travolta. And it was bad. Like the worst of dad at a wedding after a few too many beers. More Alan Partridge than Alan Pardew.

Yet who am I to criticise? If you win it makes you even more of a hero and adds to the moment. There can’t be too many managers to have seen their side take the lead in an FA Cup final and so fairplay to him for enjoying the moment. Even if it was, almost literally, a moment as United equalised within minutes.

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BBC viewers saw Alan Pardew in ‘wedding mode’

If nothing else, it is something that is sure to go down in Cup history like Trevor Brooking’s header (apparently, he scored once and West Ham won the cup), Chas and Dave, Radford’s rocket (yawn) and the White Horse.

I hadn’t realised this but apparently Palace and Manchester United had met in the Cup Final before. Back in 1990. I was out of the room at one point getting a drink but I’m pretty sure I came back just in time to hear that fact mentioned.

And then again. And again. And again. The BBC had a crowbar and they were going to use it. I had ‘1990‘ on my FA Cup bingo card (along with ‘Fellaini elbow‘ – which took longer than expected) more as a token gesture than anything else. Sure enough, the BBC obliged.

We had the obligatory feature with Ian Wright during the build up. Specifically revisiting the estate he grew up on and the patch of grass where he played football as a youngster. I’m sure we’ve seen variants of this before, many times, but it’s still such an inspirational story. I loved the fact the BBC had gone ‘old school’ and, like last year, had a whole series of final related shows and features starting about five hours before kick off.

Ah yes, before kick off.  When the players should have been walking onto the pitch proceedings were delayed as the FA Cup tried to go ‘Super Bowl’ – but on a budget of 50p. Instead of the Rolling Stones or Coldplay (thank heavens for small mercies) , we had Tinie Tempah bouncing around a purpose built stage on the centre circle.

Perhaps this delay was the reason for the subsequent ‘sound malfunction’ with the National Anthem. What a moment in any singer’s career. With the eyes of the world watching, this was her time to shine.

Yet  as the band started, former X-Factor contestant Karen Harding stood motionless, clutching the microphone to her waist and waiting for I don’t know what. “Has she forgotten to sing?” asked Mrs. Bruzon on the sofa next to me.

To be honest, I don’t know what happened. Stage fright? Abject terror? Brain freeze? Or just missed her cue? Even if there had been an issue with her earpiece, would the fact that there were 100,000 people in the stadium singing not have been a clue?

I guess we’ll never know the real reason. Karen joined the rest of us in time to sing the last 9 (nine) words. Like Pardew’s dancing, it was another moment that will be written into the FA Cup’s already voluminous history.

She got there in the end

As for the game, Jesse Lingard’s extra time winner was a goal to light up any Cup Final (Boom – the sound of another cliche going off). It was a wonderful strike to give United the lead after Juan Mata had hauled them back into it, courtesy of some brilliance from Wayne Rooney.

The X-men actor and England man revelling in his midfield position as he provided a stunning assist for the equaliser. Rooney’s name may not have been on it but his strength and purpose as he worked with the ball for what seemed an eternity deserve genuine recognition.

Mata’s equaliser had the additional bonus of meaning BBC coverage over ran further and, as a result, saw the subsequent cancellation of the alleged comedy ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys’. It was only a shame that the same privilege couldn’t be extended to Michael McIntyre following full time.

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Mrs Brown – thanks Wayne and Juan

The other person needing special mention was referee Mark Clattenburg. Twice in the first half he stopped proceedings and denied Palace genuine goal scoring opportunity, instead bringing the ball back for their ‘advantage’. Once was bad enough but to do it a second time had even Alan Pardew making note.

The irony of former referee Mark Halsey’s comments last year that Clattenburg should have had the 2015 final were not lost. At the time he was quoted on the BBC as saying:

I’m amazed that they’ve not given him the final…

“I would imagine that Jon Moss will feel a little bit sheepish that he doesn’t really deserve it and Mark Clattenburg does.”

“How many times has Mark done massive games? He’s done the Uefa Super Cup this year, big Champions League games and earned plaudits. It just doesn’t make sense.

Well, Mark. There’s your answer.

At the end of the day (Clive), Manchester United won it. You can’t deny them their moment and, certainly, they celebrated like they’d just beaten Leyton Orient (Russell? Russell?? Russell……?). Players, fans and management were ecstatic. Understandably so.

Likewise, congratulations must be offered to Louis van Gaal and his team. I’m sure they’ll both grow from here and the Dutchman will be a force to be reckoned with next season. Now he has a first trophy under his belt, his stock is sure to be rising with the Old Trafford board.

As for matters North of the border, Hibernian beat Rangers 3-2 to lift the Scottish cup. Sadly it wasn’t quite to be for Mark Warburton although I’m sure he’ll be more than happy with a season that has seen his team promoted to the top flight.

David Gray scored a late winner for Hibs which, aswell as sparking a post match pitch invasion / riot (delete as applicable) also saw our own Matthew Benham launch the cryptic clue generator once more.

Matthew posting a YouTube video on Twitter is a well known sign in Brentford circles that a new player is about to come to Griffin Park. The only problem with these being that they normally require a doctorate in brain surgery in order to decode – even after you know the answer.

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Matthew posted this on Saturday evening

This one seems remarkably simple. David Gray singing ‘This Year’s love’. Surely there was more to this than Mathew’s intent to sign the Scottish full back?

His clues are never this simple. Sledge hammer like unsubtly just isn’t Matthew’s style.

Could this mark a new approach from our owner?  Transfer news being announced by a clue that even yours truly can unravel? Or is there a hidden message in there ?

I’ve not got the time to decipher David’s lyrics to try and find out whilst, being honest, nor would I want to. It’s for good reason the ‘Babylon’ singer is currently residing in popular music’s ‘Where Are They Now?’ files

As ever with Matthew, I’m sure the answer isn’t what it seems at first glance. It could be as simple as his having had a bet on Hibs to win the cup.

Then again, I’ll have my eyes on Brentford official this Monday. Just in case…..

And finally, as ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download.  Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same.  We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thank you for reading.

Nick Bruzon 

Here come the Bees in the Championship as ‘keepers dominate.

18 Jun

Today’s the day! Finally, the Championship fixture list is released and Brentford find out when we’ll lock horns with the likes of Fulham, Watford, Charlton and Birmingham City (where, hopefully, we’ll see Clayton Donaldson playing for the team in red and white – ignore those rumours, folks!).

I absolutely love this time of year. It puts the next ten months into perspective as we find out if holidays clash with some vital away trip and when we can squeeze in a visit to see the mother-in-law.

The fever pitch feeling around TW8 is sure to step up a notch once we get the chance to map out 2014/15. This has already gone into overdrive with the news that 4,800 early bird season tickets have been sold. To put that into perspective, it’s almost half the capacity for Griffin Park’s home support and is a stunning effort.

In no small way is this down to the competitive level prices were kept at (to be honest, I was expecting a huge hike this season). Likewise, well done to all the staff in the ticket office who I cannot praise enough. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with them in person then you’ll know how hard the likes of Mads and Abdi work and how helpful they are.

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A new season dawns over Griffin Park

Then, just to keep the excitement bubbling over, there’s the World Cup over in Brazil where day 6 action was dominated by goalkeepers. Primarily, Guillermo Ochoa who kept Brazil at bay with an immense performance as Mexico drew 0-0 with the hosts.

I can only put his exceptional display down to his shirt which seems to be the international variant of the striking design set to be worn by Richard Lee and David Button next season. As somebody who looks for omens in the smallest of things, for me this one was as subtle as being hit in the face with a wet fish by Adrian Chiles and can only bode well for The Bees.

Later that evening, Russia took on South Korea in a game that threatened to rival the previous day’s Iran – Nigeria as the most painful of the tournament. I gave up after half an hour of dreadful football which, to coin a phrase I’d heard earlier in the season, “Was like watching two pensioners trying to play X-box FIFA for the first time”.

At least the goals started to flow in the second half as the match finished one apiece. However, where Ochoa had been flawless earlier in the day, his Russian counterpart, Igor Akinfeev, had a performance he’ll want to forget about. The BBC, whose coverage of this effort is here, put it best by saying he, “has practically thrown the ball over his shoulder into the back of the net”.

The day’s other game saw Belgium perform more like seaside donkeys rather than their billing as (cliché alert), the tournament’s ‘dark horses’. A 2-1 victory over an Algeria outfit who led for most of the game was hardly the stuff to strike fear into their rivals.

Just typical I’ve got Fellaini and co in the office sweepstake.

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BBC viewers saw Mexico’s Ochoa in the same design top as Brentford will be wearing next season