Tag Archives: football

When was the last time this happened? Who will start on Saturday?

21 Jan

League football at 3pm on a Saturday for Brentford returns for the first time in over two months with the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers this weekend (for no points, can you remember who our previous fixture at this time was without checking ? answer at the bottom). The bravery of Wednesday night and Manchester United has been done, dusted and filed away in the Dean Smith ‘deserved to win’ dustbin. Despite our wonderful performance – and for the record I still stand by the belief from yesterday’s column that Man U most definitely rode their luck in that opening period – in the end the difference between the two sides turned out to be nothing more than finishing. For all our chances, it was the Red Devils who were clinical when the moment arose. Devastatingly quick. Unlike their post goal scoring celebrations where the only thing slower than their walk back for the restart was their number 7 ambling off in a strop after being substituted. 

In your own time

What a terrible example to set by the Manchester United megastar for any young children who may have been watching etc etc etc. For the rest of us, every cliche and preconception about the world famous winker summed up in that moment. And also this one which has been doing the rounds on Twitter.  

For Brentford, we can mull on it or move on to Wolves. Thomas Frank has always been one to celebrate or reflect for 24 hours then focus on looking forward to the next game. For me, Clive, that’s the right approach but equally this is a game which could be blistering if we can continue the momentum. If we can pick up where we left off against Manchester United. Creative. Attacking. Taking the game to our opponents rather than sitting on the back foot and waiting for them to bring it to us. If the crowd and players continue that symbiotic relationship of feeding of each other. 

Who would you pick though? Centre back and midfield are the two areas where we finally seem to have interchangeable options. Should Matthias Jansen retain his place after a showing which saw him score highly in the player review feature but, sadly, not on pitch. Indeed, is it unfair on expecting him to get the goals when we play an all round team system and took until the 85th minute to get ours? Let’s not forget, either, being up against a World Class ‘keeper in David De Gea.

Its a really easy trap to fall into and go all ‘Ian Moose’. Who could forget his shameful attempts at self-publicity after Neal Maupay missed what the ego-driven broadcaster considered to be a chance so simple he’d have snaffled it up as easily as the prematch catering (is his banging on about that a thing, still?). Note to self: don’t forget to wish my good friend a happy birthday on February 7th (seventh).

But we digress. I thought Matthias had a wonderful game. I thought he should have scored. But also so could several others. Personally speaking, I’d start him again based on his performance alone. For all I rate Shandon Baptiste, and I do, I’m sure Matthias will be itching to get back out there and start this one at 100 mph. Like the rest of the Brentford team, looking to continue on from where we left off. 

Whomever, starts competition could really crank up soon. Aside from the Christian Eriksen rumours still kicking around,  Thomas Frank gave the latest assessment on Josh Dasilva in the Wolves press conference, saying “Kristoffer Ajer trained with him today and just said ‘what a player’. There is a very good player who hopefully we will see playing for us. I think it’s still four weeks away from him being involved in the squad, if we build him well. That could potentially be a tiny bit quicker, but it definitely also be longer”.    

In defence, I thought Mads Bech looked assured. Ethan too and perhaps he can consider himself unlucky to miss out on the top five this time around. With Pontus Jansson the club captain, does Kris Ajer continue on the sidelines? Is he fit to go? Who misses out if so? Indeed, do we persist with the three CB and double wing back combo that has been used so far this season? I’d love to see a try out for the more traditional set up that gave Ivan so much service before but that’s just me. 

Much as we love Sergi Canos in our house, if Rico Henry is fit then he’ll go straight in. He was immense at Liverpool and continues to provide attacking threat. Coming off the bench for the Man U game, I am sure he’ll start on Saturday. Certainly, Thomas has confirmed that everyone who was available for the last game remains in the same position this time around. 

Decisions, decisions, decisions. One things for sure, getting back to winning ways will be very welcome. Starting to get a few more points on the board can only be good. There are no rewards given for ‘close but no cigar’. No points earned for topping the ‘deserved to win table’. Next up in the Prem is that trip to Manchester City. About as tough as it gets for anyone !

As for Wolves, Thomas used that conference to pay tribute to Bruno Mars and his squad. “I think Conor Coady is a key for their defense. When you play with a back three/back five like we do, it is very difficult to break down. They are a group of players who know each other well and who want to run and fight for each other which means a lot.”

The Wolves – Bees picture has been in use since 2014

Joy. One can only hope that Spurs interest in Adam Traore (a £15m bid was rejected yesterday) could have some sort of unsettling effect. The eight placed team (Wolves, not Tottenham) are on a hot streak at present and racking up the points with ease. They’ll be as confident and optimistic of continuing that run as we will be of getting back to winning ways.

Can we do it? There’s only one place to find out. Lionel Road. On Saturday. At 3pm (not a typo) See you there…

And that last Saturday game? Newcastle United away. The 3-3 at St. James Park on November 20th.

Until then, if you’d like to read more… then here’s that post-match player review from Manchester United and the 1-3.

Nick Bruzon

Who shone against Manchester United? Who should be picked for Wolves?

20 Jan

A 3-1 reverse for Brentford at home to Manchester United only tells one part of a evening in which the Bees did everything but score, visiting number 7(seven) Cristiano Ronaldo had a quite spectacular hissy fit and Bees fans were left genuinely frustrated not to have beaten the ‘biggest club in the world'(TM). As ever at this point, it’s time to look at who the best pf the Bees’ players were. Who is a nailed on start for the game with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday ? Has anyone broken into the season long top 5? Do you agree with the selections where there’s a few whose inclusion may cause some surprise? Have Matthias Jensen, Sergi Canos and Mads Bech (all of whom made the starting XI this time around ) done enough to hang on to their places for Wolves at the weekend?

The post match player review can be found here. Plus a few more thoughts on the overall Brentford performance. Sure, Manchester United won (no denying that) but, much like sitting through an episode of My Family, there was nothing particularly comfortable about it.

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Jamchester United. Bees miss out after storming performance.

20 Jan

What can you say? Brentford went down 3-1 at home to Manchester United in the proverbial game of two halves. The first seeing us utterly dominant. United, apparently the ‘biggest club in world football’ made to look like a bunch of Sunday league part-timers. The only one to emerge with any credit being David De Gea in nets who twice denied Matthias Jensen when it seemed odds on the Danish midfielder would score. The fans were on their feet in anticipation of him burying one of them but, yet again, Thomas Frank must be left wondering whose black cat he has run over. Like Chelsea, a blood and thunder performance saw us thwarted by a ‘keeper at the very top of his game. Christian Norgaard also with the best of the chances in an opening period that saw 6 decent efforts and the memory of our blank at Liverpool nothing more than that. A memory. This was a team reacting at the top of their game. A team breathing in the atmosphere at Lionel Road and then using it to super charge our drive forward.

Bryan was on fire. Matthias too, to be fair. The frustration of inconsistency rearing its head when the ball was lost or the chances spurned. The brilliance of him at his best coming through in patches. Perhaps that’s what the prospect of Josh Dasilva and Christian Eriksen breathing down your neck does. United left looking tattered and one of the worst teams to visit Lionel Road this season. We were that good. They were that bad. De Gea aside. The visitors not even testing Jonas Lössl who had replaced Alvaro Fernandez in goal.

Then , the second half happened. A sloppy first goal conceded with Lössl unsure whether to stick or twist as the ball was played forward and ended up doing neither. A despairing stretch was powerless to stop Elanga heading home. Ronaldo chesting it forward for Fernandes to give his only meaningful contribution of the evening in the build-up to the second. The ball then played through to Mason Greenwood who, despite a suspicion of offside, made no mistake. Marcus Rashford made it three late on.

The goals all well, well taken and the consummate lesson that chances can’t continue to be spurned. United weren’t even close in this game but rode their luck to the max. All we had to show for it was Ivan Toney’s late, late consolation goal. A long throw working for the second time this season. Brentford throwing everything and anything from the kitchen sink to Stephen Pressley’s socks at the United goal but nothing more followed.  

Look positive. This was Manchester Untied we were up against. It was miles improved on Liverpool. We didn’t concede form a corner either. Mads Bech coming in for Kris Ajer looked strong. Ivan is back on the score sheet whilst who didn’t enjoy the sight of Ronaldo’s hissy fit. Trudging off in what the BBC described afterwards as “a ridiculous show of petulance with a slow stroll off, some very obvious muttering and a burst of anger on the bench after he was substituted with 20 minutes left”?

In your own time, Cristiano

A case of ‘And this isn’t Ronaldo territory?’ Frankly, a two headed tortoise would have been quicker leaving the field. The chants of “winker, winker, winker” being directed towards the player showing that he hadn’t been forgiven for his World Cup shenanigans back in 2006. At least, I thank that’s what was being chanted.

Thomas would talk afterwards about how we absolutely destroyed them in the opening period. How he was hugely disappointed not to grab the win against a top team. All true. All true. Feelings felt by the majority of a fanbase who absolutely ripped the roof off Lionel Road. Kudos too, for the West stand breaking in to a chorus of: “Live round the corner. You only live round the corner.

The deeper dive player review is now up and can be found here. Otherwise, it’s a case of waking up and wondering how we came away empty handed. Of being taught a lesson that opportunities need to be grabbed when they come along. Something Manchester United are still masters at and which they demonstrated three times last night.

So head held high and all that but, at the end of the day Clive, a blank on the points tally. That’s football. All we can do now is bottle if for Wolves and, err, go again.

See you there  

Nick Bruzon

View from the opposition. Manchester United fan opens up ahead of Brentford game.

18 Jan

Brentford host Manchester United at Lionel Road on Wednesday evening. The build up to this one has been as much post-mortem from Liverpool as it has been excitement about Christian Eriksen (hey, you have to dream). Now though, we need to cut to the chase. To look at the opposition. One of the most famous clubs in the land but, by their own illustrious standards, perhaps not at the races in recent years. The challenge of following Fergie a riddle to challenge the deepest of minds. A conundrum to file along side the question of just what makes Mrs Browns Boys popular or whether anyone, actually, enjoys the England Supporter’s band.

Liverpool has been and gone now

Those, of course, are well trodden paths on these pages. Instead, let’s look at Manchester United. Through the eyes of Dale O’Donnell. The blue ticked editor of the @strettynews website, Sky Sports News contributor and member of the Football Writer’s Association. Thats the Twitter bio done. Onto the questions…

What a tumultuous season for those of us looking in. Ole sacked and the Red Devils languishing in 7th (seventh) place. European qualification – even for the Europa Conference – hanging in the balance. Are things at Old Trafford as bad as being made out? 
Well, yes, because it’s not difficult to see the root of our problems. Just look at the Glazer family and how they only see our club as a commercial cash cow. One they can continue to milk despite the team showing utter mediocrity on the pitch.

From my perspective, being any good back in the day isn’t a guarantee of success and most clubs would love to be in your position. Do the supporters have unrealistic expectation levels?
No offence – but we are Manchester United. The biggest football club – not only in England, but – in the world. We’ve seen a lot of poor recruitment, ill-advised decisions from the hierarchy and a lack of planning over the years but it still beggars belief that we’re so poor on the football pitch, with the players we have available. We’re a million miles away from where we need to be.

What about Ole? A club legend. Was he let go too early? Or was it the right move?
It was the right move because the results got so bad and our season objective looked out of reach just two or three months into the season. Ole will forever be remembered as a club legend — mostly as a player, but I think he did a lot of good as manager too — and I’m still gutted that he wasn’t the one to bring the Premier League back to Old Trafford. That would have been amazing.

How have things changed since the arrival of Ralf Rangnick? 
Not much if I’m being honest. We can see that the manager wants to play a totally different way and that was always going to take time. However, rumours about dressing room unrest are unsettling because the players might not give this man the respect he deserves, with Rangnick moving upstairs at the end of the season.

Who would you like to take over following his interim stint and who do you think will get the role?
It’s got to be Pochettino for me. I know most online polls show that United fans are rooting for Ten Hag, who I also rate as a leading candidate, but I’m not sure he is quite up to task. As ever I’d happily be proven wrong.

Donny van de Beek ? What’s going on?
Not fancied by previous management team and I don’t think Rangnick feels he can cut it in the Premier League.

What has been your best performance of the season to date? And the lowest?
Giving Leeds a good hammering on the opening day of the season was great, but our season has nosedived since. The lowest point for me, though, was obviously losing 5-0 to Liverpool. At least the Stretford End was loud that day…

Getting to the matter at hand, who are the current danger men Brentford need to be aware of?
Ronaldo (if fit) and Fernandes. You never quite know with the rest. De Gea has been our best player this season which tells you a lot.

As outsiders looking in, what’s the take from the Old Trafford faithful on the Bees?
I’ve been very impressed by your style of play and willingness to go at teams in your first season in the Premier League. A welcome addition to the top-flight.

If you could sign any one player from Brentford in the current window who would it be? Indeed, would you?
I’d probably say Kristoffer Ajer because he can play as a defensive midfielder and we badly need one of those.

Your score prediction for Wednesday?
2-1 win for United.

What would you consider to have been a successful season for our respective clubs when we get to the end of the campaign?
I’m going to say… United 4th and Brentford 10th.

And if you’d like to read more……. the return feature (the Brentford take on Manchester United) can be found here. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

Liverpool, Manchester United and Christian Eriksen latest plus the video to make our eyes light up.

18 Jan

Another day in the non-stop rollercoaster ride that is Premier League life. Brentford have done with Liverpool and we’re now set to host Manchester United . There’s FA Cup news out of Everton plus more midfield news than you can shake a stick at with Christian Eriksen of Denmark being just one of the names out there at the moment. 

Could we actually do this?

Which, with all due respect to Liverpool and Manchester United, needs to be where we start. The GPG have had the story building for over a week but now the rest of the world seems to have caught up with this. The BBC and several newspaper sites confirming that Brentford have been in touch with the Danish midfielder who has been released from his contract with Inter Milan. Serie A rules not allowing the sort of pacemaker which he has had fitted following that terrifying moment over the summer at Euro 2020.  

109 international caps. A pedigree in domestic football that also takes in Ajax and Spurs. 36 goals for his country from a variety of midfield positions. There are no words needed to describe his talent and word on the street is that there are a number of other top flight clubs looking to sign him. However, the actual word out of TW8 being that talks HAVE taken place between Brentford and the player about a six-month deal. Now, the inevitable negotiations begin.  

I can’t imagine somebody of his stature comes cheap, that’s for sure. How big a draw the power of Thomas Frank and the other Danes on our playing staff over wages will be remains to be seen. I’m drooling at the prospect of seeing him alongside Christian Norgaard. Chuck in Mathias Jensen for the full triumvirate. Right now, its more the case of hoping Thomas can do his thing to sell the Brentford project to his fellow countryman. 

Likewise, and perhaps more importantly, being hugely grateful that we can even be having this conversation. The sheer awfulness of what happened over the summer needs no revisiting. The despair and panic felt at the time unable to be put into words. And that was just us watching on from back home. It’s not possible to even half imagine how it felt for his team mates and family after he suffered that on pitch cardiac arrest in the game against Finland.

Thankfully, of course, the medical staff and his own team mates worked wonders to bring him back following the emergency treatment administered at the time. Now he’s in wonderful health by all accounts and chomping at the bit to go again – even targetting a place at the World Cup in December.  

That journey has to start somewhere and Brentford are the ones at the forefront of looking to help him take that first step. Could it happen? Will it happen? Is an unveiling before Manchester United too far flung a dream to cling to? Might it all come to nothing? Fingers are certainly crossed with, I have no doubt, much more to come in the coming days. 

The other news to set tongues wagging concerned a player already on our books. With video footage to match. We’ve all seen the pictures of Josh Dasilva in recent weeks but now he’s been in actual match action. You know, kicking a ball and everything. 45 minutes at Jersey Road in a game with Havant and Waterlooville. The comeback is most definitely on and whilst it may take a while longer to be involved in full fat first team action, this is about as big a boost as they come. Feast your eyes on this. 

Elsewhere, we’ve now gone live with the post match player and performance review following the game at Liverpool. Who were the top five for Brentford? Who is ahead in the race to be our season long star man? Who should have been included but missed out? You can find the answers and catch up on that piece, here.

In other news, TAP limits for the FA Cup fourth round tie at Everton have been announced. The figure cited by Brentford ‘official’ means just about anyone who has seen us on the road can take the trip to Goodison Park on Saturday 5th February. Season Ticket Holders with 1200+TAPs will be able to book their guaranteed place from today. 6,000 tickets are, I believe, available and priced at just £15 these are sure to fly off the shelves. If nothing else, it gives a chance to complete the Stanley Park bingo card following Sunday’s game. 

Two for the price of one

Until then though, it’s almost time for another home game. The chance to have played all 19 clubs in the Premier League will finally arrive. Manchester United being the last of the outliers following their 11th hour Covid related cancellation request back in December. How long ago does that feel now? The delay has allowed us to welcome back Kris Ajer and strengthen our goalkeeping options, amongst others permutations. It seems like another lifetime away when we were talking about having to bring out 18 year old Matthew Cox against the Red Devils for his Brentford debut? Perhaps we still will although any change should it come will, surely, be in the direction of Jonas Lössl. 

Today’s press conference will be telling as to both injuries and team selection. Even if it does end up being dominated by talks of another Dane in Christian Eriksen. All that’s to come, of course. For now we need to focus on Manchester United and the chance to pick up another three points. They looked wobbly (the story of the season) against Aston Villa and may well be without Cristiano Ronaldo which, if nothing else, is disastrous news for all the ‘Can I have your shirt…?’ placard makers. 

Could we do it? Will we do it? There’s only one place to be to find out. Lionel Road. See you there. 

Nick Bruzon 

Who were the top five performers at the weekend?

17 Jan

So Brentford lost out at Anfield on Sunday. A 3-0 reverse to Liverpool coming after 45 minutes of rock solid defending had almost threatened to send the half-time crockery flying. Then, the dam finally broke after wave upon wave of Red pressure and the rest is history. With Manchester United next up on Wednesday, are there grounds for expectation that another big name scalp will be claimed? Will the defensive, err, blips that gifted the third goal in particular be consigned to the waste bin of history?

Brentford push forward at Anfield

As ever at this juncture, we take a look at who deserves to keep their place in the Brentford starting XI after the Liverpool game and who were our top five players at Anfield? Does anyone deserve to miss out against Manchester United or will it be more of the same when Thomas names his team? Looking further afield, how is the race to be our season long star man shaping up?

You can find the answers to all these questions along with the summarised version of the team performance here. Who missed out? Who should have been included? Have we got it right? Over to you….

And that silenced The Kop

17 Jan

Liverpool 3 Brentford 0. The Bees returned to Anfield for the first time since that 1989 FA Cup tie for the return Premier League fixture following our 3-3 draw at Lionel Road earlier this season. This time, however, there was no contest. The odd flurry of chances aside – Bryan Mbeumo channelling his inner Richard Cadette for the closest of these – it really felt like one-way traffic. Yet with Manchester United next up there were still plenty of positives to take ahead of Wednesday night’s home game. Primarily, the return of Rico Henry and the backs to the wall defending – a mile away from the Southampton horror show – that accompanied the opening 44 minutes. Liverpool dominating and pushing but unable to find a way through.

Bryan runs at the Liverpool defence

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages, albeit the player review is now up. For now, the headlines surround two levels of Bees’ defence. That opening phase where despite the hosts having 75% possession, there was no way through. Kris Ajer ploughing through Jota. Pontus heading it clear time and again. Most exciting of all, the return of Rico Henry. His substitution just into the second half confirmed by Thomas Frank as being nothing more than precautionary, with the left back apparently available for Manchester united during the week. Whilst he was on the pitch, there was no holding back the man who is on a fast track to challenge for our player of the season.

Yet when the goals came, they were awful. Awful. A corner that bypassed the entire defence for the opener. A cross that could have been claimed or cleared for the second. A totally needless attempt to play it out from the back that culminated in the inevitable disaster for the third. What Alvaro Fernandez was thinking not once but twice before Minamino wrapped it up I have no idea. A huge shame because he has kept us in it as much as anyone prior to that with a series of smart saves.

What can you say? Resolute defence and valiant effort count for nothing when the final scores are read. Moreso when the nature of the goals conceded was as frustrating as we all saw. Yet having contained our hosts for the vast majority of the opening period and only falling out of sight relatively late on, the contest always felt even. At least in terms of Brentford potentially hauling themselves back in to it. Had Bryan gone the other side of the post with the away support already cheering the equaliser, who knows what might have been? Instead, class eventually shone through and the game ended as comfortably as the scoreline and the statistics suggest.

Ah, yes. Class. Let’s not forget who we were up against. And where. A team second only to Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title. A transfer budget, spending power and sheer quality of playing staff. A stadium with three times the amount of supporters than is possible at Lionel Road.

At face value these were insurmountable odds but we gave it a damn good shot before administering the fatal blow ourselves. That’s not to be harsh. This was a huge learning curve and should Premier League football be on the agenda for next season (Liverpool do seem safe, to be fair) then this sort of experience will only stand us in good stead.   

The Brentford fans were magnificent, btw. What an atmosphere being generated at the away end. What a noise. Singing throughout and cranking it up as the game progressed. In contrast, The Kop less a 12th man as more a library. Certainly, by the sound of things. The fabled atmosphere very much muted for vast swathes of the game.

Keep it like that for Wednesday and who knows what could happen.

Special mention for the rail seating, btw. Everyone stands away from home, anyway, so nothing new there but great to see this legitimised. Hopefully more to follow in our own West Stand shortly off the back of a trial that is only going to get formal approval based on all the evidence seen so far.

The only thing probably worth being aware of as we progress our own drive towards this type of standing, being how anybody lacking in stature gets to see the game. Specifically the kids. Our Harry spent the opening period staring into the backs of the fans in front given, unlike a traditional terrace, there was no room to move. The obvious answer is to stand on the seat, which he did, much to the chagrin of two Brentford ‘fans’ behind him who then started taking photos and went crying to the stewards about it. This despite the eight year old’s head being lower than everyone else in the rest of our group. My word. Seriously? Hats off to the stewards, too, who after ten minutes of their nonsense told him to stand on the seat and get on with it. He wasn’t overly phased whilst all this was going on and, instead, spent the time asking why it was called The Kop rather than The Klopp.

Rail seating looks here to stay based on the evidence

On the other hand, it was so good seeing all the other friendly faces. Including Harry Potter, whom I still can’t get used to seeing in anything beyond his now absent Gunnersaurus coat (Burgundy is not the new green), and somebody who came ‘full Sherlock Holmes’. The good vibes culminating in a chorus of “We’ll race you back to London” as the Liverpool fans poured out before full time.

Overall, a result which was expected by many observers but despite pressure, pressure, pressure The Bees held strong for so long. Had Bryan’s second half chance gone in at 1-0 down well, it would have been dreamland for Brentford, wouldn’t it? It was inches wide of the post. And that…silenced the Kop.

RIP Tony Gubba.

See you all on Wednesday for Manchester United

Nick Bruzon

Get the f*@k in !! Now THIS is what it’s all about.

15 Jan

Well here we are at last. If the Premier League hadn’t been exciting enough so far, Brentford now go into a sequence of games that sees us go to Liverpool on Sunday, host Manchester United on Wednesday and then welcome back old friends Wolves on the Saturday. It is a week of fixtures that at one point in most supporter’s lifetime would have been nothing short of fantasy football. Now it is very real and now it is here. Not to mention the news out of Lionel Road yesterday about Pontus Jansson signing an extended contract. The club captain clearly relishing his time with The Bees following that move which took him from Leeds United to Griffin Park back in 2019.

We can only begin with all things Liverpool, of course. A Sunday afternoon 2pm kick off sees our first visit to Anfield since that 1989 FA Cup quarter final. Brentford, then, a Division three club for whom Andy Sinton, Keith Jones, Allan Cockram, Gary Blissett, Keith Millen and Terry Evans were amongst the players to make yours truly go dewy eyed even now. Checks Wikipedia – Neil Smillie is 63. Cripes – that’s how long ago it was. Yet it was a rare opportunity to step up in class.To continue that epic cup run that had already seen us beat Manchester City and then a fine fifth round win up at Blackburn Rovers.

What an afternoon it was.

Liverpool, of course, were next level. In general and on the day. Reaching the ground relatively late, we walked into an already full stadium to be greeted by a wall of noise and a teeming mass of supporters. The fans moving as one on the Kop at the far end of the stadium. I remember suddenly being hit by the sheer impossibility of the task ahead but also the excitement and the potential if, somehow, footballing fate were to smile on us. If David were to beat Goliath. And it almost happened.

“No Offside!! Cadette!!! Ohhh, he’s missed!! Sinton’s lovely little ball and Richard Cadette, top scorer with seventeen goals this season… how close did he come to putting this quarterfinal? Well, it would have been dreamland for Brentford, wouldn’t it? It was inches wide of the post. And that…silenced the Kop”.

Ahh, Tony Gubba. His immortal words with the score locked at 0-0 still ring in the ears. The chance still visible in the minds’ eye. An opening ten minutes with more action than you get in most games. Then Liverpool turned it up to 11. 1-0 at HT became 4-0 by the end. We did well to hang in there but eventually class told. We went back to West London and that was it for over thirty years. Until this season and that quite incredible 3-3 at Lionel Road.

The inflatable Bee may have gone but the photo from my last trip to Anfield remains

If the trip to Anfield had been a highlight in my life as a Brentford fan, then the Premier League game in September has now overtaken that. To see the two clubs competing on an equal footing. Both in the same division. Decades of ambition finally coming to fruition. The long, hard years having to explain that our team, largely unheard of outside TW8, were Brentford rather than Brentwood (in Essex ) now nothing more than a dusty relic from a previous time. To have my family with me and little H, the excitement painted all over his face in thick brushstrokes. His tears as they scored again. The screams of joy as we pulled them back. Again. Liverpool’s lead falling apart as easily as a Leeds United promotion campaign.

That’s what a Wissa equaliser for 3-3 does

Ahh, good times. Amazing times. But a memory to file alongside Anfield ’89. Now, we’ve the chance to make new ones. Thee points the priority against a Liverpool side shorn of their best player (Mo Salah on AFCON duty along with Sadio Mane and Naby Keita) yet still putting out a terrifyingly strong looking line up for Thursday’s League Cup semi with Arsenal. That one ended 0-0, against ten men. Stoic resistance does work. With the Bees enduring that horror show at Southampton on Wednesday, one so woeful it culminated in a hard hitting approach to the player performance review – the only way is up. There’s just no way we can defend that abysmally again. Whether playing Liverpool or Lincoln City. We were victims of our own lethargy. This time around things will be different. They have to be.

Thomas Frank has hinted that Rico Henry will be ready. Amazing if so but one can’t help but think these are nothing more than mind games and Manchester United will be when we see him back in action. The attacking potential and defence quality he brings is, of course, something that needs no expansion upon. We all know it. We all love him. We all hope there will be no gamble with fitness although if he IS ready then happy days. Roll on 1pm Sunday when the team is announced and we find out.

The other big call will be in nets. Does Jonas Lössl get a start or will Alvaro Fernandez keep his place? It always takes time for a new goalkeeper and defence to sync up whilst nobody could replace David Raya. It’s a task as impossible as following Fergie at Old Trafford. The manager rather than the Black Eyed Pea. Yet, equally, we all know that things have been up and down. Moments of brilliance – he arguably saved us two points late on at home to Aston Villa – have come alongside a frustrating lack of clean sheets. The only people smiling there being the marketing team at Dormeo as another  promotional mattress and duvet set gets to stay in the warehouse. Is it all down to him? What would you do? For me, Clive, there’s nothing to lose by making the change. Something needs to give after Southampton and I’m afraid most eyes will be pointing in the obvious direction – that last line of defence.

Look, I know nothing about football. Really. I love it, live it, breath it. But I’m not a coach. I’m not involveld in what happens. Like most of us, a peripheral figure on the outside looking in when it comes to team selection and actually knowing what goes on behind the scenes.  Everyone’s an expert and a tracksuit manager. Everyone’s a critic and its the easiest thing in the world to pour forth. Indeed, that’s all part of what makes it such a wonderful game. The conjecture. The discussion. The ongoing debate with friends. Listening to pundits and then shouting at the tv as to how wrong they are. 

Ultimately though, it comes down to Thomas Frank and his squad as to who our best eleven are on the day. Rico or Sergi. Jonas or Alvaro. Whomever we go with, this promises to be as loud and exciting an experience as they come. It shouldn’t have the feel of ‘big day out’. That was for 1989 and a one off experience. An amazing one but we were a different club then with different aspirations. These days Brentford have big new ambitions (sorry, sorry, sorry – couldn’t resist) and these upcoming games the Rides, Manchester United and Wolves will go a huge way towards telling us how realistic they are. Bring it on!!! See you there.

The other news was , of course, Pontus Janson and his contract extension. This is fantastic news. He’ll now be with us until the end of of next season after it was announced yesterday that he had put pen to paper. 

No word, of course, as to whether it was ‘that’ pen but one can only dream….

That biro

Nick Bruzon

A brutal evening ends with a reset needed for Sunday.

12 Jan

Where to even start with any of that ? Brentford were humped 4-1 at Southampton in a game that saw a sub-Burnley level of frustration. Even Vitaly Janelt comparing it to Brighton in his own post match comments to ‘official’. In a season packed with so many giddy highs, this truly was as moribund and frustrating an experience as they come. Moreso, given that on paper the return of Kris Ajer and a central midfield of Janelt, Norgaard and Baptiste should have given us as strong a heart as they come. Instead, there was no answer to the hosts combination of fast pressing and long balls forward. With Liverpool next up on Sunday, dial in even half as close a performance – and the word is used in the loosest sense – and we’re going to be in trouble. Regardless of who they have missing at the African Cup of Nations.

Thomas acknowledges the fans at Full Time

We’ve all seen it, I’m sure. Whether through being there, the re-run that began at 9pm or via the video highlights that are now online. Go dig them out, if you must. I have but wish I hadn’t. What felt painful last night looks even worse in the cold light of day. Southampton on top of us at all times and not giving Brentford any chance to breath. Pushing. Pressing. Chasing. Closing us down. Winning just about every second ball. The Bees adopting a much more zonal set up, in that we seemed to be playing in a different time zone. The fetid whiff of 2006/07 and Rosenior-Butcher hanging over the team like a bad smell. Defence awol. The freedom of Saint Marys being handed to our hosts time and again. My word, they punished us. Hard. 

The first goal conceded within minutes. A corner flicked over and through the entire Bees defence. Yes, it was a fast ball but nobody reacted. Nobody got close to even trying to attack it, Ivan Toney aside. He and Fernandez offering little resistance to Jan Bednarek. Urghhh. 

Yet then Brentford hit that little patch of hope. First Vitaly levelling up with the most exquisite left footed volley, his leg at right angles to the pitch, after picking out a ball from Bryan. Then, the same man forcing Fraser-Frster to go full stretch. Promising. Might we actually show the spirit seen so often? The fire and guts that hauled us back time and again when Liverpool came to visit? That roared us on to the last minute at West Ham? 

Err, no. Ibrahima Diallo ligning himself up for a shot on the edge of the box that was predictable as the outcome inevitable. Nobody charged him down or even tried. The merest of shrugs from Ethan as the ball went past another Fernandez dive that didn’t, quite, reach the ball (longer gloves needed? Better positioning?). Either way, he shouldn’t have been beaten on his inside post and even though saved by the post, the ball ricocheted straight into his hand and the back of the net. Urghhh. Hearts sank. Half time came. Surely we’d start at 100 mph? Surely?

Alas not. A long ball forward caught Pontus short. 3-1. A long ball forward caught Pontus short. 4-1. He wasn’t alone btw. The entire defence awol for most of the game. The nonchalant fannying around cross the box lucky not to hurt us further. A brief flurry at the end where Bryan, Wissa and Ivan came close was far too little, far too late.  An absolute 0 out of 10 performance from Brentford, even despite the ref moment of joy elicited by Vitaly’s goal  

The biggest challenge of all then being after full time and attempting to complete the usual post-match piece where we find the top five Brentford performers. Well, I’ve done it on the way home and you can find that here. Please do go take a look. Let us know who, if anyone , missed out or should  / could have been included.   

The positives, if we can, being that this was very much out of character. This is Premier League football where no game is easy. The gaps for a team off their game likely to be exposed even more easily than at any other level we’ve played before. Likewise, one absolutely needs to acknowledge Southampton’s desire. Their drive. Their refusal to give us an inch. The difference bing that when faced with this approach before (e.g . Chelsea, home) we’ve generally hung firm at the back and avoided the avalanche. Not this time. Oh for a T-Rex last night. Or a defence. Or the ability to take the ball to our opponents. 

It happened. Its over. It was one game. No matter how unpalatable it felt at the time. Let’s never talk of their goals ever again and, instead, hope Thomas can pick the boys up in time for Liverpool on Sunday. Hope he can give us the Brentford that travelled to Wolves and West Ham so wonderfully. Not this.

On the plus side, if Rasmus Ankersen was looking to impress his new consortium in charge at Southampton with talent they may be interested in then they’d have laughed him out the ground. The wonderful recruitment strategy he was so instrumental in at Brentford offered up nothing more than … well, we get it. No point dwelling further. The frustration around was evident last night. Having slept on it, one has to remember what this team can do when they are on it. 

Was Rasmus in the boardroom or on security?

Over to you Thomas. Can you get us back to our best for Liverpool?  One thing’s for sure, I can’t wait to find out. Bring it on and see you there.

In the meantime, that ‘heat of the moment’ post-match analysis is here. Go strap on a tin hat…

Nick Bruzon   

And the top five Brentford perfomers were…..

11 Jan

Southampton 4 Brentford 1. It was as bad as the score line suggests . It was a result which now presents yours truly with the somewhat dubious challenge of looking back at the game to try and find the top five performers for The Bees. Those players who will be looking to make a name for themselves at Liverpool on Sunday.

No celebrations at full time

Who made the list? Can anyone count themselves unlucky to have missed out? Has there been a glaring omission? Well, here you go…………….