Tag Archives: Forest

Brentford lost in the forest.

6 Oct

That was 90 minutes we’ll never get back. Urghh. Brentford came away from Nottingham Forest on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline after a game that turned into an insomniacs wildest dream. That goes for both teams where despite a lot of huff and puff there were few chances and entertainment was at an absolute premium. The footballing equivalent of watching Mrs. Browns Boys with the volume on. Well, not quite that bad but it was certainly hard going. A masterclass in defensive solidity, with the exception of the host’s goal where they took advantage of some very generous positional play. The unmarked Ben Watson volleying home a corner that had been headed into his path by the unmarked Joe Worrall. And when The Bees had a rare break forward, Forest closed us down quicker than a small business post Brexit. Credit to them. Frustration for us.

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Defensive discipline at The City Ground

Positives? Are there any? Well we were up against one of the division’s form teams. They started the day in fourth and ended it in second. They are where they are for a reason. Sabri Lamouchi would pay Brentford compliment at full time and my guess is we’d all have been happy coming away from that one with a point. At nullifying a team with genuine aspirations for promotion. That a hard fought game on the road was the price to pay for remaining unbeaten. But that’s not how football works and that’s not what happened.

When the chance came, Watson took it. Despite over half an hour to go there was an almost palpable feeling of dread and expectation as to how this would now finish. That didn’t stop the Brentford fans from cheering the boys on. If anything, the noise was even louder in an attempt to drown out the singing that had finally started from the home supporters. Mind you, if ‘Mull of Kintyre’ was our ‘go to’ song, I can imagine we’d be quiet too. Hey, at least it’s not ‘Hi-ho Silver Lining’. Or some of the other dreadful efforts for the McCartney back-catalogue. ‘Spies Like Us’ or ‘The Girl Is Mine’, anyone? 

Dreadful film. Even worse theme tune

Yet despite the ever vocal exhortations from The Bees faithful there was no way through. Forest too disciplined at the back to be troubled by a somewhat off-colour looking Brentford forward line. Too quick to break and avert any threat of potential danger. Leading goal scorer Ollie Watkins drifting out wide time and again, leaving the central role vacant. Nikos Karelis given far too little time to make any impact. Sergi Canos forced to limp off the pitch with all our subs having been used.   

I saw a tweet from Brentford official whilst travelling home, quoting David Raya. His observation that “‘The game plan was going well at half-time, then we switched off for one second and conceded a goal” telling us all we needed to know about this one. Containment was the order of the day. Stifle the hosts. Pick up a point. We didn’t look close to threatening, let alone scoring. The one real save that home ‘keeper Brice Samba was forced in to making came when a Mathias Jensen free kick took a wicked deflection and momentarily threatened his unmblemished net. However, he moves well for a big man and was very much Forest’s Jensen interceptor.

Overall, it was poor viewing and a struggle on pitch. We’ve got great players and I’m utterly convinced it will come very good, very soon. Thomas Frank is a wonderful motivator and certainly has a challenge on his hands as to how he fits the pieces together. I’m not joining the vitriolic Twitterati in calling for a sacking. Anything but. However, he does have to figure out if Ollie Watkins is the solution to our centre forward conundrum, do we give Nikos a few starts (assuming fitness is not an issue) or is it just a case off hanging in there until January when the transfer of Halil Dervişoğlu from Sparta Rotterdam completes? Yesterday saw us looking dreadfully lopsided. It’s fine against the weaker teams such as Derby County and Barnsley. Not quite so good against a disciplined outfit. 

Either way, the international break is well timed. We can all cool off. We can all forget about a dreadful game of football. We can all put our feet up until visit of Millwall. At least, on the supporter side. I’d imagine for the players things may be somewhat different…..

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Nick Bruzon

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The BIG questions answered by a very special guest as Brentford travel to Nottingham Forest…

5 Oct

Friday was an odd one. It was a day where all the weighty issues of the world were bouncing around my head. And that’s not a good place to be. For example… If one asteroid wiped out the dinosuars, why did the plethora of city-sized spaceships falling to earth at the end of the film Independence Day have no more inconvenient an effect than providing an invaluable cache of alien technology which was able to be reclaimed in time for the (unspeakable) sequel?  Whose version of a song entitled C’est La Vie is the best? With all due respect to The Stereophonics, and bypassing the suggestion of Robbie Neville from a fan of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea that I work with, this can only be won by the best band to wear double denim since Status Quo. Of course, I mean B*Witched. Most telling of all though, was the question of who carries off smart-casual knitwear the best? Nottingham Forest manager Sabri Lamouchi or Brentford head coach Thomas Frank. It is a question we may well be able to answer at the City Ground on Saturday afternoon.

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Great dress sense AND great music

The reason this particular thought had been turning over was c/o of today’s guest, Nottingham Forest fan and Absolute Radio DJ Matt Dyson.

Regular readers – should such a concept exist – will be aware that we’ve got the radio on in our kitchen. A lot. Combined with the unsocial hours kept by yours truly to churn this nonsense out, the radio is tuned to Absolute pretty much permanently.

It is something that has already reaped benefits, of sorts, when Christian O’Connell was able to finally put the question – Is Cameron Diaz a Brentford fan? – direct to the horse’s mouth. The result was categoric. Some might say catastrophic. Albeit one loaded with potential (you can find that here) although Cameron, if you are reading (you aren’t) or your legal people get hold of this,  I’m not for one second suggesting you look like a horse. That said, the clock IS ticking on your chance to visit Griffin Park. Get yourself over. I have it on good authority there is a permanent seat reserved for you.

We digress. As ever.  The co-host of the Dave Berry Breakfast show on 105.8 FM and DAB digital (apparently) is a long-time fan and very vocal supporter of The Tricky Trees. The highs and lows at The City Ground are a regular topic of discussion in the morning, aswell as on the weekend’s Rock N Roll Football along with fellow Forest fan Matt Forde.

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Matt Dyson – right. Co-host at breakfast wit Dave Berry

As such, who better to ask for his opinion on today’s opponents for a Brentford side very much looking to bounce back from what we will diplomatically describe as our ‘tactical meltdown’ in the last few minutes on Wednesday night? With his team flying high and his talk of Lamouchi playing havoc with my thought process, here’s our Q&A with Matt…..

Ten games in and the fledgling table is now deemed to have ’taken shape’. Nottingham Forest are two points off the top in fourth place (effectively third given Leeds United will start their annual choke at some point).  What’s happened at The City Ground?  Well, having changed our manager (and then the entire squad come the transfer window) every six months for what seems like the past decade, we’ve finally stumbled upon a good one! Sabri Lamouchi has effortlessly adapted to the Championship and he has instilled a great sense of confidence into the squad and an ability to play attractive attacking football.  Happy days.

Recent seasons have told us to expect mid-table at best. Can you hold your position? Until our incredibly brief stint at the top of the table towards the end of last month, we hadn’t reached the summit for 5 years.  That was when the legend Stuart Pearce was in charge. And while, at the time, we expected that form to tip (as tended to happen with Psycho’s teams after the honeymoon period ended) I’m not getting the same feeling this time around. I don’t want to curse us, but we look like ‘the real deal’ this season. We’re grinding out away draws even when we don’t deserve them. The players seem super confident.

What price Lewis Grabban? Brentford infamously game him away on a free a few season back , only to see his value increase with just about every subsequent move. What is he worth to you now ? He’s invaluable – the only thing that could seriously derail our season at this point is Lewis getting injured. He’s a wispy bearded behemoth of a striker. Grabbing goals left, right and centre. Brentford’s crazy loss was eventually our gain.

Who are the Nottingham Forest danger men? The aforementioned Grabban, the excellent left footed wing wizard, Joe Lolley (there literally ain’t no body like him) and the tiny Portuguese prince, Joao Carvalho.  But, in my opinion, our new sense of confidence stems from the back. The partnership of Michael Dawson (Forest past) and Joe Worrall (Forest future) had been an option for previous managers but they had other ideas. This blend of youth and experience is the backbone of Sabri’s red and white army.

Ahh, yes. Sabri Lamouchi. Is there a more wonderfully named manager in English football? What does he bring to Nottingham Forest that previous incumbents of the City Ground hot seat have struggled to do? Like I’ve said, he’s instilled confidence, made good signings and seems like our coolest manager since Cloughie. He rocks turtleneck knitwear in an effortlessly stylish way.

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Who will win today’s battle of C&A?

Tottenham got thumped 7(seven)- 2 during the week in the UCL. What is the correct use of brackets to reflect this. 7 (seven), 7 (Seven) or 7(SEVEN)? (SEVEN)

Author’s note: one can only presume Matt has not fully understood the question. As we all know, the correct answer should be 7(seven). Shouldn’t it? Can’t just be me….

The League Cup. You slipped up by the odd-ish goal in five at Arsenal, a similar fate to the one we suffered last season. Is there any point in this anymore, though? The League Cup, rather than Arsenal. Or should we just put it out of its misery?  We’ve done very well in the competition in the past, so I don’t want to ditch it. Those glorious trips to Wembley in my youth, for a cup final sponsored by a catalogue shop or an electrical goods rental store, were priceless. But if teams are going to play their reserves in the early rounds they should tell fans in advance. Going straight to pens after a draw is a step in the right direction, but a reserve team tournament is of no interest to anyone.

The big game….

I’m heading up by train and fancy downloading a movie. Which is the greatest football film ever made? Escape to Victory – John Wark’s inexplicable time to shine on the silver screen.

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We can win this….. Stallone and Wark stand shoulder to shoulder. Amazing !

Curses. My Netflix subscription has run out. I’ll make do with a podcast. Which episode of the Dave Berry breakfast show from 2019 should I listen to? Just subscribe and get all of them. Or listen live on Absolute Radio and pick which decade’s music you want to go with it. It’s ground breaking technology, so take advantage of it. Or listen to the Gameweek fantasy football podcast (which I do with my old mate Dan Prior) if you indulge in the anti-football stat-based weight around your neck that is the Fantasy Premier League. The Rock N Roll Football podcast with me and Matt Forde is also worth a listen.

Are you a Hooters man? Or is there another pub you can recommend to us travelling fans?  I used to frequent it occasionally. It’s just a family restaurant with a slightly saucy mystique. If you like being served chicken wings by women in Lycra head there.   But I think all away fans should be forced to drink in that soulless crappy looking pub at Meadow Lane (home of Notts County).  The Broken Wheelbarrow is built into the ground and looks like a hideous new build social club. Please try it and give it a rating on trip adviser

Finally, who’s going to win this one and what’s the score going to be? We should edge it 3-1. Sorry.

Thank you Matt. Very much appreciated, even if you are wrong about brackets. Regardless, this has all the elements of a cracker today. With man-to-watch Dawson, missing through injury does this give Brentford hope or will Grabban come back to haunt us? Roll on 3pm when we find out.

I can’t wait for this one. See you there. Perhaps in The Broken Wheelbarrow….

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Nick Bruzon   

It’s all go in the Championship. Bee becomes a Robin and Derby prepare for historical change.

29 Jun

It’s all been kicking off in the Championship these last few days. Brentford have sold Daniel Bentley to league rivals Bristol City. A club who, as one source close to the club told me last night, “Are really going for it this season”. Elsewhere, there is more and more expectation that Frank Lampard’s Derby County will release their man to Chelsea. And Nottingham Forest sack Martin O’ Neill then replace him just 18 minutes later.

We can only start with the news about Daniel Bentley. He’s left Brentford for Bristol City in a fee that is thought to be at least £2million – certainly per the daily mail website, amongst others, so take that with whatever pinch of salt and disgust you need to apply first before searching it out. Presumably this will be with the usual add ons and clauses that we seem to make a matter of course as part of doing business. As we saw when Alfie Mawson joined Fulham from Swansea (prior to that, Barnsley), play it right and the money keeps on coming in.   

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Noooo. My eyes. They’re  burning

Being honest, I don’t think this will come as a surprise to anybody in TW8. The club are long thought to have been on the hunt for a new goalkeeper whilst time on Dan’s own deal with us was starting to run out. Moreso given the number of uncharacteristic slips seen last season from a player who, I think, has the potential to go all the way to the top. Let’s not forget Dan is only 25 and had two absolutely cracking seasons between the sticks for Brentford after joining from Southend United when his contract had run down.

Director of football Phil Giles told official that, “As most fans will know, Dan had one year remaining on his contract. With that in mind it makes sense to sell now and reinvest the transfer fee. We have been planning ahead with regards to bringing a new goalkeeper to the club and hope to make some progress soon“.

Dan is a cracking aquisition for the Robins. Some of his shot stopping has been out of this world whilst as anybody who has had the pleasure of meeting him will know, he’s nothing but the consummate gentleman with all the time in the world for supporters – young and old alike.

It does also beg the question of whether Dan will now be obliged to make one of those awful Twitter ‘gifs’, just in case he scores. The things you do to avoid our own 2019/20 goalkeepers kit…

With City having also hoovered up England U-21 defender Jay Dasilva from Chelsea (who’d have thought it – the Stamford Bridge club selling on one of their youngsters rather than letting him breakthrough) and due to sign Sammie Szmodics from Colchester United when his contract expires on Monday, perhaps they are a team with promotion on the agenda?

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Dan inspiring the next generation

What this means for Luke Daniels, who knows. We already have Icelandic youth international Patrik Gunnarsson and England U-20 Ellery Balcombe as part of the B team set up whilst Phil’s talk of a new target surely means that something has to give. Surely? Let’s not forget that Patrik has already made a Brentford debut, coming on for Dan when we won up at Middlesbrough in the brown/orange (not a typo) back in March. As such, one would think that we’ll be looking towards youth and the future once more.

Then again, yours truly is just the numpty on the terrace with no real inside knowledge – as ever, let’s just wait and see what plays out. One thing you can be sure of is that the club know what they are doing. Our business over the last five or so years has shown that. Sure, we may get the odd Nick Proschwitz but the Neal Maupay and Said Benrahamas (amongst many, many) of this world show that more often than not we get it very right indeed,

Next up, Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™. Rams’ supporters are bracing themselves for the fact that their club may be about to undergo a radical rebranding with Chelsea in the hunt for their manager. Frank Lampard.

It is widely expected he’ll be taking over at Stamford Bridge this week, meaning all sorts of questions will be asked about what’s going to happen next. Primarily, the immediate logical step being one which will see the Pride Park outfit having to be renamed. At present, the hot favourite title in the frame is a simple ‘Derby County’ . This is a choice which will only be seen as a nice historical nod to their origins and one which may help appease fans, upset by the loss of a man who helped keep them in sixth place in the Championship after replacing Gary Rowett.

Certainly, as a founder member of the football league back in 1888, they were known by this shorter format. It is one the club enjoyed for a long period after that in a run that extended all the way up until Lampard’s arrival last year. Now, it would seem, the name Derby County is set to return once more.

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Was this the last appearance of Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™ at Griffin Park?

Nottingham Forest sack manager Martin O’Neill. Nottingham Forest replace Martin O’Neill just 18 minutes later, with former Rennes manager and French international Sabri Lamouchi taking over. Wow!! Although is it?

The trigger happy club, who had already seen a parting of the ways with Aitor Karanaka and his physical approach (who could forget the Griffin Park kick-fest?), have moved again. Reportedly as a result of dressing room disharmony. Being the numpty on etc etc I’m not close enough to know the ins and outs but a great source close to the City Ground (a friend on Twitter)  has shared this link from Daniel Taylor at The Guardian.

Its well worth a read, if only to show how lucky we are to have such positivity in our own dressing room. Likewise, what can happen when that all goes South. Thank goodness for the likes of Thomas Frank at the helm and our own recruitment approach.

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We’re lucky to have Thomas and the great morale he inspires.

And finally, as unsubtle as ever,  for things that may not be worth so much of a read (but are for a great cause).. please do download a copy of the Last Word season season review – containing the least bad of these columns from the World Cup to Aston Villa deserving to win the play offs. It also includes the World Cup aswell as all the ‘Park Life’ articles submitted for the matchday programme and so not previously available on these pages.  

ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so what better way to remind yourself how brilliant 2018/19 was? To kill a bit of time on the commute to work / on your summer holidays / on the toilet etc You can download it , now, for your kindle , iPod telephone or other electronic reading device here.

At £1.99 it’s cheaper than half a pint so what’s to lose? Apart from £1.99 – which then goes to The Community Sports Trust anyway. Many thanks again. And enjoy.

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Nick Bruzon

All good things come to an end. Now is the time to go ag, ag, ag.. once more.

10 Feb

So it wasn’t to be 11 unbeaten. It wasn’t to be another victory on the road in the incredible orange and brown. A 2-1 win for Nottingham Forest saw Brentford defeated for the first time since that mid-December trip to Hull (and back?) . With back to back TV clashes at home to Aston Villa and then up at Swansea City in the FA Cup to come, January’s manager-of-the-month nominee Thomas Frank is now tasked with the challenge of getting the momentum going once more.

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Thomas will need to go ag.. once more

Brentford official would describe this one as ‘Frustrating’ on the club Twitter feed at full time. The stats would certainly bear this out with the game ending on 70% possession and 21 shots for The Bees.  Ollie Watkins had a goal disallowed, the woodwork was hit twice and Daniel Bentley pulled off a magnificent double penalty save. Sergi Canos provided hope late on with his fourth in four games. Yet we all know that ‘deserving’ and ‘stats’ count for nothing if you can’t take your chances or if you give away sloppy goals.

Certainly, Nottingham Forest will be well pleased with their win and made no mistake when opportunity knocked. The highlights are up on Sky’s website already and are very much a case of – move along quickly, nothing to see here. At least, at the back.

The defensive coaches will no doubt be having words on Monday morning about what were two very soft efforts to concede. In the cold light of day we can’t be pleased about either but, at the same time, let’s not deny Lewis Grabban or Molla Wague any kudos here. They worked their chances, were perhaps given a helping hand but still had to put them away.

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Another penalty save counted for nothing in the end

On another day we might have won this one. The positive news being that there were chances to take. The run of goals, goals, goals had to end at some point. We’ll bounce back. The visit of Aston Villa on Wednesday night couldn’t have come at a better time. If we can’t get ourselves up for this one then what’s the point of bothering? Who doesn’t want to prove a point to Dean Smith? Player or fan?

We all acknowledge why he took the ‘dream job’ and I can’t imagine there’ll be any ‘ill will’  but that doesn’t change the fact he left a wonderful young squad at a progressive club. He’d taken Brentford to a position where we’d been named as Championship favourites when Villa came calling and that mantle was passed to Thomas Frank. Now he returns with a team who are scoring goals, and shipping them, for fun. It could be a scintillating encounter.

Then there’s Swansea City in the FA Cup. What an incredible opportunity awaits in that game. A fleet of free coaches heading up the M4 in the hope of reaching the quarter finals in a winner takes all clash. there’s no chance of a replay now. It has to be sorted on the day, via the mediums of extra time and penalties if needed. No prizes for guessing which direction that one could end up heading. This is Brentford after all….

I’d love to have beaten Nottingham Forest. If only to extend a fine winning run in recent seasons agasint the Tricky Trees at the City Ground. There’s the personal reasons of wanting to get one over a few of their supporters whilst who doesn’t love extending an unbeaten run? Instead, It was former Bee Lewis Grabban who swung the axe to chop us down for the first time in five home games.

Now, we have to prove this was the blip that I am sure it will be after a fine run of form. Forest are pushing at the play-offs. Brentford looking at a cup run. As Harry said to me at full time, “Daddy. Was that a league game? … Thank goodness, so we’re still in the FA Cup then!

I can’t account for the naivety of youth and I’m certainly not going to dent his enthusiasm. Wednesday will be huge but Sunday could be epic.

Nick Bruzon

Natalie nails it as Forest fail to chop down the Bees.

2 Sep

What an afternoon. What a game of contrasting football styles. Brentford beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 in a game which will be as much remembered for the three points that take us back into play-offs as it will an infuriating performance from ‘referee’ Peter Bankes. That, and a display of physical thuggery from the visitors which, as was said many times yesterday, came over as ‘a typical Aitor Karanka performance’. See also the phrase: Brian Clough would be spinning in his grave. It was an attitude which spilled over into social media afterwards where none other than Natalie Sawyer waded in to defend her beloved Bees in the face of what could, at best, be described as sour grapes from fans of the visiting team.

It gives me no pleasure in having to write about anything negative from yesterday. Especially about a club I’ve enormous respect for. Why would we want any form of downer after Brentford scooped the win that lifted us back into the play-off zone following last weekend’s blip at Blackburn? We’ve overcome the three game suspension of Neal Maupay and showed tremendous spirit to bounce back after an uncharacteristic fumble from Daniel Bentley allowed Forest to haul themselves into the game on the hour mark.

Yet it was the approach of the visitors which was so at odds with what we’ve seen from them over the years. A team who previously out-thought and out-played opponents to win the trophies for which they are so well known. A team who rightly earned the two stars that adorn their famous crest. Now, their manager has them playing not so much ‘kick and rush’ as ‘kick and punch’.

That there were only 7(seven) bookings for the visitors was a miracle in itself. They were cynical, scything and nasty. Mr. Bankes in the middle seeming to forget he even had cards in his pocket during a first half where Forest had no answer to wave after wave of Brentford pressure. Except, of course, the one shown to Lewis Macleod for apparent diving.

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Two stars, well earned. Plus a welcome return for the castle badge in the programme.

There was no attempt to tackle. The Bees were allowed to run at their opponents with the ‘permission to foul badge’ rotated between the players by manager Karanka. How nobody received a second yellow I have no idea. Yet it was an approach that also allowed us to see Brentford at their finest. And, in the end, crush the visitors as easily as they would a ripe avocado. 

Josh McEachran had an extremely positive game, making one incredible surge forward in the first half that must have seen him take the ball close to forty yards upfield as he rode challenges and played deft flicks. Romaine Sawyers did what he does. Sergi was felled time and again by the yellow shirted lumberjacks. Mepham and Konsa at the back continue to look as though they have been partners for years rather than weeks. Benrahma was magnificent, supplying the crosses for both goals and almost nabbing a couple himself. 

The first, a cross from the right that dropped perfectly for the unmarked Lewis Macleod to head home just before half time. The second, delivered to Ollie Watkins to stroke home with just minutes left on the clock. Between these, Peter Gilham’s quite wonderfully announced substitution of Lolley for Cash looked like it would be bang on the money for our guests. The hero of Forest’s midweek league cup win over Newcastle did it again. Yet the goal from Matty Cash proved to be a small change and, in the end, it was Watkins (nose stuffed full of gauze after receiving a boot in the face from Jack Robinson) who sealed the points that take us up to fifth place in the table.   

Again, I don’t want to come over as negative about the visitors and the ref. I’ve friends who are Forest fans and a healthy respect for the club that goes back to my own formative football years when they were THE kings of Europe. Perhaps they just had a bad day at the office whereby physicality was the only answer to the electric pace of a scintilating Brentford side.  Yet it was awful to watch them yesterday.

Equally frustrating was finding ourselves beholden to the whims of a referee whose performance switched between turning a blind eye and guesswork. All credit to captain Yoann Barbet whose cool head at the very end prevented a major case of handbags turning into a Keith Stroud convention. He led by example throughout although you could also praise the spirit of all Dean’s ‘leaders’. Our unique approach of rotating the captaincy providing its own demonstration of success.

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Yoann Barbet at FT. How was that for you?

I apologise. The point has been laboured and the point has been made. But it is done because so often over the last couple of seasons, we’ve had no answer to teams like this. We’ve seen points dropped and games lost when brute force has triumphed over attempts to play intelligent football. Yet we’ve toughened up and adapted, whilst still retaining that core belief. Being honest, this one never felt in doubt. Even at 1-1 or throughout the protracted period of stoppage time added on at the end. 

It was our own Natalie Sawyer who really summed things up nicely, taking to Twitter at full time to first note that: If ever there was a victory for football today it’s what I’ve witnessed at Griffin Park. Really surprised by how Forest played today considering I thought they’d give us a much better game following what I saw on Wednesday night..

Confronted by frustrated Forest fans, rather than sit on this one she continued to make her point (and rightly praise the Forest midweek match) before eventually going on to add: Excuse me you came not to win, you came to by physical and cynical. It’s the most disappointing performance I’ve seen from a team. I’m not saying that Brentford are wholly innocent in every game they play but today they outplayed a team that just wanted to foul and time waste.

Well said. Professionally put and spot on. There’s not much more one can really say after that. Perhaps a bit more praise for Dean Smith and his wonderful team. Kudos to Yoan Barbet and my man of the match, Said Benrahma.

Put your feet up and enjoy international break. Roll on the 15th for Wigan at home where it’s not so much Will Grigg as the Bees who are currently on fire.

Nick Bruzon

Arsenal and Leeds dates confirmed. Bees heading back to TV and the 70s as Forest visit.

1 Sep

Good news, Brentford fans. We’ve got a date for the Carabao cup tie against Arsenal which has been confirmed as taking place on Wednesday 26 September. Bad news, Brentford fans. Our game up at Leeds United has been changed and will now be a midday kick off on October 6th rather than the original 3pm start time noted when the fixtures were announced. And we’ve the small matter of a trip back to the 70s with our game against Nottingham Forest at Griffin Park this afternoon.

First up, the Arsenal game. The Gunners published a statement on their ‘official’ last night simply noting that:    

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There’s not much more to say about that beyond good luck to Mads in our ticket office and Chairman Cliff Crown today. Both will no doubt be plagued with questions, from different perspectives, in regards to that game.

One things for sure, there’ll be a huge crowd there. At least, from the away contingent. Whilst B-team games against the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and, on this week’s evidence, Bournemouth (whom King Kev’s boys beat 3-0 last night) are common place, this will be the first chance for the vast majority of us to see Arsenal reserves line up against the brown & orange army.

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A fine win at Bournemouth last night, via @BrentfordFC on Twitter

The other fixture news revealed yesterday saw the aforementioned update to our game at Leeds United. If ever a game was in doubt it was going to be the trip to Elland Road.

I’ve seen a stat that says Leeds were shown on TV an incredible 19 times last season. So far this campaign the’ve already been on at least (I may have missed one) four times – Stoke (h), Derby (a) , Swansea (a) and last night’s 0-0 with Middlesbrough. Then to come there’s a trip to Sheffield Wednesday in late September followed by the latest raft of games. Us and Nottingham Forest at home in October. Wigan and West Brom away in November. That’s 9 ‘main games’ already. And this before you discount the red button option which, to be fair, is available to all clubs for midweek Championship action.

Simply put, why? What is Sky’s obsession with Leeds United? They won something, once. Well done. Haven’t done in ages. There are plenty of other teams in the Championship who have done similar. The likes of double European Champions Nottingham Forest, West Brom and those other Sky regulars in Aston Villa.  Plenty of other, so called, ‘big clubs’. They don’t feature with anywhere near the same regularity. If it’s not Leeds, it’s not worth showing. Seemingly. Do the club just have a huge base of displaced  supporters? It’s not as though the footballing fare on offer is the sort to draw in the casual viewer, going by the Boro’ game last night.

Of course, that side of things is a matter of personal taste. If you don’t like it then don’t watch. Yet more pertinent is that fans of both Leeds and their opponents end up seeing travel plans in disarray. I know many Bees have already booked their trips to Elland Road to get in before prices go through the roof. I can’t see Sky or the train companies (LNER, in this case) refunding those. It would be great if they did or could team up with some sort of football related offer.  What a way to ‘give something back’ or show the fans they ARE thinking of them. No. Seriously.  One can only feel for Leeds supporters when their team are playing away – something they are infinitely more likely to fall foul of.

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The latest TV games are announced

On a personal note, whilst I’m in the minority this works out perfectly. Kind of. The Leeds fixture coincides with our 10th wedding anniversary. It’s a fairly safe bet Mrs. Bruzon isn’t reading this so I can continue with impunity.

The chance to travel for this game was never even an option. Not something even I’d been naïve enough to suggest. Now, there’s a chance of seeing the game. That rather than the special day out she (I mean we) had been planning there is the hope, albeit slim, that a trip to the pub could be on offer. Rather than a meal for two by the sea or at a swanky restaurant, how about a lunch of pork scratchings and Guinness? What better way of saying romance than finding a hostelry to show Leeds – Bees? Stranger things have happened…..

All that’s to come. For now, focus has to be on today’s visit of Nottingham Forest to Griffin Park where the club have announced that we’ll be going ‘Back to the 70s’. Hopefully this just means our ‘guests of honour’, a #BeeTheDJ special and the retro shirts that ‘official’ have suggested we wear rather than the dark days of hooliganism and vile chanting. Thankfully, those later elements have massively gone from the modern game whilst have rarely been an issue at Griffin Park – well done to the current regime for all their work on that front.

Given the advertising banner, I was wondering if Brentford were going to go for the controversial routine of wearing our quite magnificent ‘away’ colours at Griffin Park? Whilst there’s no doubt many would be in favour of an extra chance to see the incredible orange and brown in action, perhaps that is a flight of fancy too far. Instead, let’s just do the needful against Arsenal and hope for another away game.

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Nick Bruzon

Bring on the big guns. And also Arsenal.

31 Aug

Finally. It actually happened. The game that so many of us have been waiting for will finally take place. Brentford entertain Nottingham Forest on Saturday in a chance to head back to the very upper reaches of the Championship table. Elsewhere, and you may have missed this on social media last night, we’ve been drawn away at Arsenal in the third round of the league cup. It it is a tie that seems to be exciting just about everyone, no more so than our own chairman Cliff Crown.

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A fairly safe bet we’ll need to go brown for this one

You can understand the buzz around this game. We all know the history at Arsenal and of the many, many trophies they have won. Even if things have got (relatively) barren in recent years and Europa League qualification is the best they have to be content with. As the later end of The Wenger era saw them very much standing still, the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Spurs have all overtaken Arsenal at football’s top table. With Tottenham currently sitting pretty as kings of North London football, I have no doubt current boss Unai Emery will view the Carabao Cup as a huge opportunity to try and start redressing that balance.

C137D36D-7E04-4531-81DE-C0D1C441FEA8For Brentford fans, this presents the rarest of opportunities. Our paths haven’t crossed in over 70 years and for many it is a chance to visit a new stadium. Whilst the records are under debate (certainly in regards to our own number of defeats) the one thing everyone agrees on is that Brentford have the lion’s share of victories. As much as five can be deemed any sort of lion’s share. Personally, I’m just grateful for a kind draw (the prospect of Boro’ away, urghh) , an eminently winnable game and the chance to return my books before they become overdue.

The other thing to catch my eye on Twitter was the number of people who already seem set to miss this one : New York, Vegas, Franz Ferdinand (the band rather than the deceased Archduke), recovering from a car crash……

These just some of the many, albeit wonderful reasons (perhaps not so much that last one), as to why people are now checking their diaries to see if there is any chance of avoiding a pre-booked clash. Yet with Arsenal playing on the Sunday, the game seems likely to be played on the evening of 26th September. A cup tie on a Wednesday evening is something that The Emirates won’t have seen for a few years, even if it does push yours truly dangerously close to the list of absentees.

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That’s the night of my own work Christmas party (being the last time all 11 of the team are in together prior to late December). And now I’ll have to let the team down. Them, not Brentford. Unless of course they fancy some celebratory cup football. Yes, do spare a thought for Mads and her team in the ticket office as all manner of strange(r) requests are likely to come out of the woodwork. I can only imagine the queue for this one being akin to the launch of our own brown and orange away shirt.

All of which is wonderful, but there is also the small matter of Nottingham Forest tomorrow. Of course I’m excited about the prospect of reaching the Carabao cup fourth round but the league campaign is where it’s all at. Can Brentford get back to winning ways after the slip up at Blackburn? Will we be able to inflict a first defeat of the season on a Forest team who themselves beat Premier League opposition in the cup this week. A very late brace from the wonderfully named Matty Cash seeing Newcastle United’s celebrations at a 90th minute equaliser being somewhat short lived. An eventual 3-1 win sees the Tricky Trees presented their own chance of further profession, with a home tie against Stoke City the reward.

I thought the Bees looked wonderful with the build up play on Tuesday night against Cheltenham. It’s great to see the players coming in adapting to the system used by the first team. I also think we were over elaborate, profligate and almost got caught out. Dean Smith will no doubt be making changes with Romaine Sawyers and Ollie Watkins amongst those sure to return.

There’s no Ryan Woods, of course. His own ‘loan to sale’ was confirmed last week Saturday and he is now a Stoke player. Let’s hope they don’t injure him. Although I’d imagine neck ache from looking up at the sky will be his main health concern.

There’s no doubt we’re all well up for that Arsenal game. Chairman Crown and his family may even don a half/half scarf (although hopefully not) whilst Nico Yennaris and Josh Dasilva have their own points to prove. Yet all that is to come. If nothing else, we’ve a score to settle after last season’s capitulation at home to Forest. 1-0 up after 40 minutes turned into 3-1 down after 47 and an eventual 4-3 defeat that was nowhere near as close as the score line suggests. Then (away) manager Mark Warburton doing his ‘Brittas Empire’ thing in a shirt / short combo that was tighter than the final score.

Still, that was then and this is now. Warbs has moved on from The City Ground. Brentford have moved up. Dean Smith and his team are playing some quite wonderful football. Here’s hoping we can find the back of the net and return to winning ways.

See you on Saturday.

Brittas Warbs

Mark Warburton – won at football but lost at fashion last time out.

Nick Bruzon

Dean’s Forss-Field keeps Cheltenham out as Forest await. Lionel Road delay sees extended life at Griffin Park.

29 Aug

Brentford ensured progression to the third round of the league cup on Tuesday night after victory over Cheltenham Town by the the odd goal in one, i.e. 1-0. It was as comprehensive a performance of build-up play as they come despite the solitary mark on the scoresheet. Only over complication in front of goal and a solid display from fan favourite Scott Flinders (who would have stopped just about anything coming at him, even a small child) kept the visitors in it until the final whistle. Yet with Nottingham Forest to come next in the league, perhaps the main thing was putting Saturday’s first Championship defeat (1-0 at Blackburn Rovers) behind us and marking a return to winning ways.

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Griffin Park always looking great under lights

Dean Smith was taking no chances on this one. The last thing we needed with a potato skin like this was his going ‘full Marinus’. Instead, the bench was chock full of first teamers whilst the likes of Chris Mepham, Nico Yennaris, Lewis Macleod and Said Benrahma all started alongside familiar faces Alan Judge, Josh Clarke, Tom Field and newboy Julian Jeanvier.  With Neal Maupay serving the second game of his three match stint out, Marcus Forss returned once more following his debut at Blackburn.

Indeed, it was French central defender Jeanvier who grabbed the game’s only goal, providing the final touch to a goalmouth melee just prior to half time. It was a strike that our performance had suggested was coming. Benrahma in particular enjoying the freedom of Griffin Park as the visitors sat deep and invited Brentford to come at them. Wave after wave of attack was repelled as our own pretty football was rewarded with everything but the finishing touch. Sometimes we don’t need to walk it in!

That said, final stats of 13 shots on target compared to none for Cheltenham tell their own story although it didn’t feel like that sort of game. Comfortable, yes. But without that second goal there was always the danger of being caught by the sucker punch equaliser. Had the visitors perhaps thrown the kitchen sink at it ten minutes earlier than the last knockings of a game they were always in,  there would have been a very real chance of taking it to those immediate penalties (no extra time here). But with a Brentford team including the combination of Forss-Field in the starting XI, perhaps there was never any danger of Luke Daniels’ goal being breached.

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Rare Cheltenham attacks were snuffed out

Still, we’re through and that’s the main thing. The draw for Round 3 is on Thursday evening at 7pm which is when all the Premier league’s top clubs, and also Arsenal, join in the fun. No doubt everybody will be hoping for a trip to an Old Trafford or Anfield. Perhaps a visit from Chelsea, Fulham or Manchester City. Instead, it’ll probably be Middlesbrough away.

Of more immediate interest is what Dean Smith learned about his side ahead of the visit from Nottingham Forest on Saturday. They are one of just three unbeaten Championship sides (see also: Leeds united and Middlesbrough) and now find themselves a point behind the eighth placed Bees as the table starts to slowly settle down. So who will Dean go with? The same XI as at Blackburn? A different option up top? Could he be tempted to entertain the return of Josh McEachran to his Championship team? How about Sergi Canos who must be chomping at the bit to get a run out in what will be the last game before international break? Whomever Dean picks, the Bees are likely to be facing infinitely more testing opponents. On paper.

Then again, on paper last night should have been a cake walk but Cheltenham contained us and almost nicked an equaliser late on. Don’t let paper or reputation fool you for a second. Goals are all what counts when it comes to winning games. Banging them in and keeping them out. A simple enough philosophy but all the pretty play in the world means naff all if you do get caught with your pants down at one-nil up. But we didn’t. We’re through and that’s the important thing. It was really nice also to see several familiar fan faces out and about in the second half – you know who you are if you are reading (unlikely, but..). It’s great that people retain that love for the Bees and always a mark of what the current regime are currently doing that they continue to inspire such passion amongst the fans.

These are exciting times at Griffin Park. We’ve had an impressive start in the league and are 90 minutes away from equalling our furthest ever league cup run (round four). We have a new home on the horizon, even if if our moving in date has been put back to the start of the 2020/21 campaign as was announced yesterday.  This is no surprise to anyone who has seen the, albeit impressive, work to date. Whilst the Lionel Road site is being developed at a rate of knots, we need to be realistic. Just look at the problems Tottenham now face as a result of trying to rush into their new home. You can read the full statement on Brentford official. No doubt more to come on this over the next day or so.

So one more full season at Griffin Park awaits once the current campaign comes to a close. Could it see top flight football? Who knows. Bring on Nottingham Forest this Saturday when we take the next step to discovering our football fate.

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Mark Fuller and Yoann Barbet do their respective things at full time

Nick Bruzon

Almost 24 hours on and it still feels fantastic.

11 Apr

Almost 24 hours later and I’m still buzzing. Having spent the last ten days on a very rare holiday, following Brentford has been that bit trickier than normal. Yet what do when the last night abroad coincided with our game at Nottingham Forest? Rather than stay in a hotel room with Mark Burridge whispering sweet nothings into my ear (via the medium of I-follow) instead it was a trip outside to find somewhere showing the Champions League thriller between Manchester City and Liverpool. That said, thanks to the joy of WhatsApp and Twitter pretty much all of my attention was focussed on updates from The City Ground rather than the TV in Popeyes bar, Lanzarote. A third 1-0 win in a row for The Bees, secured via a late strike from Henrik Dalsgaard, saw Brentford move to within four points of sixth placed Millwall with just four games to go. The most unlikely of play-off dreams remains alive and it makes Saturday’s game with a Fulham team whose own victory propelled them into the ‘automatic’ places even more significant than it already was.

Just four points to Millwall in sixth. Just four points to Derby County in fifth (albeit The Rams have two games in hand). Brentford held their nerve last night in a match which, statistically speaking, seemed to pour scorn on Forest’s recent record of failing to trouble the scorers for five straight games as shot followed shot. Despite hitting the woodwork twice in the opening period, Daniel Bentley’s goalmouth once again remained untouched. Despite 16 attempts, 3 on target, there was no way through for the home team.

Rather, it was the stooping Dalsgaard who got on the end of former captain Josh McEachran’s 81st minute corner to frustrate Nottingham Forest again. You have to feel for the home fans but, being quite selfish, that’s their issue. Instead, Popeyes erupted to a quite unexpected shriek of delight that had absolutely nothing to do with Liverpool snuffing out another Manchester City attack. Nothing to do with seeing Birmingham City en-route to yet another defeat; this time at Bristol City. Nothing to do with Roma making it 3-0 against Barcelona and thus lined up to progress on ‘away goals’. Instead, it had everything to do with our Danish international full back giving us the lead with less than ten minutes remaining.

And then the waiting game began. Waiting for the internet to refresh. Waiting for another Euro 3.00 beer to reach the table. Waiting to see if Brentford could hang on. Waiting to see if Barnsley could snatch a late equaliser at Portman Road. Sadly, the Tykes couldn’t. Whilst people all around me were in awe at events unfolding in both Manchester and Rome, there was one corner of a foreign pub that was forever Brentford. And it was beautiful.

Ding: Another WhatsApp message. The trumpet ‘emoji’.
Ding: Yes!!!!

We’d hung on. Oh my, that was quite remarkable. Quick. Where is that ‘As it stands’ table? Ah. There we go. What a sight. What a time for Brentford to narrow the gap. What a game awaits on Saturday afternoon. If you haven’t got a ticket for The Cottage then what are you waiting for? This could be even bigger than the 4-1 in terms of brilliance. The potential double whammy of railroading the Fulham promotion push whilst increasing our own chances. Could it be that game at Leyton Orient all over again? If we celebrated three points there like the FA Cup, victory at The Cottage would see Champions League levels of ecstasy.

Whilst Millwall are still in the box seat as play-off dark horses, if Brentford can keep up this wonderful run then who knows? Imagine. Could it end up a Fulham v Brentford play-off final, even? Win on Saturday and anything is possible. Call it the cabin pressure at 37,000 feet, but flying home now I feel euphoric about all things football. I feel as though anything could happen. We’ve even got Ryan Woods available once more.

Seeing what Liverpool and Roma achieved last night should be sufficient evidence that this most beautiful of games can continue to surprise us. Nothing is certain until that final whistle blows. Results really can defy expectation.

But for now, it has to be as much a time for reflection on overcoming what could have been a very tricky hurdle at Nottingham Forest. Take nothing away from our opponents. Opponents who, at least as far as yours truly is concerned, have remained nothing but sporting. This was a HUGE result in a season that has the potential to match our own first back in The Championship. The season of Mark Warburton and a play-off semi with Middlesbrough when all the results aligned on the final round of games to elevate us to fifth in the table.

Could similar happen again? Who knows but I’ll tell you one thing – I can’t wait to find out. Roll on Saturday and Fulham.

See you there….

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Following Brentford. From Lanzarote. Via the Champions League.

Nick Bruzon

Afternoon thoughts as the latest ‘must win’ game approaches.

10 Apr

Another day, another game. Sitting here at midday, waiting for the evening to come around, I’m struggling. Brentford travel to Nottingham Forest tonight to take on a side who have failed to win or score in their last five games. Three nil-nils is the high point of that ‘run’ whilst their last victory came against Birmingham City (as much of a given as one can expect these days). It was a stat I’ve needed to triple check, and will do once more for good measure, after being steered towards it by two separate Forest fans on Twitter whom I’ll simply call Jamie and Matt. Yet having tapped them up for a prediction, they both replied with devastatingly similar thoughts.

“After the best part of eight hours, a goal would be nice. Anything else would be a bonus…..”

and

“Our form is atrocious – may scrape a draw though. Of the 0-0 variety”

But here is where I’m struggling. Are we walking in to a trap? Is this too good to hope for against a team who are surely safe from both relegation and promotion? Can Daniel Bentley record a 15th Championship clean sheet and Brentford make it three wins on the spin in our final game without ginger Pirlo, Ryan Woods?

His own three game ban, following the handbags against Sheffield United, comes to an end tonight. With the trip to Fulham next up, Dean Smith resisted the temptation to appeal a dismissal that still seemed somewhat harsh. Yet in his absence we’ve seen two 1-0 wins and two goals from Neal Maupay. We’ve seen domination at Bristol City and then what reads as a somewhat grittier performance at home to Ipswich Town.

But with three points the absolute priority if those play-off aspirations are to remain a reality, we’ve done the needful in differing circumstances. Now there are just five games to go and a five point gap to reel in. Another win has to be the target with the fixtures running out. You couldn’t ask, on paper, for any more than to be up against a team for whom the back of the net is something as hard to find as a Neil Warnock post-match handshake.

Which scares me. That sort of stat has to give at some time. Opponents with nothing to lose can play with freedom of expression. Brentford will need to approach this with 100% focus whilst remembering how well we’ve played at times this campaign. It’s no coincidence that despite a rough start we’ve climbed into the top ten. That we’ve taken apart the likes of Leeds United, Aston Villa and Birmingham City.

Perhaps rather than playing our opponent’s statistical record and our own future state, this really is the time to concentrate on the game at hand. Switch off from what has gone before and what might be. The consummate example of that cliche about taking one game at a time (I would also accept : every game as it comes).

By rights, us football fans can be a pessimistic bunch. It’s no surprise that Nottingham Forest supporters Matt and Jamie have come out with less than positive predictions. Being quite honest I’d probably have made similar had roles been reversed. Even now, I’m struggling to call this with any sense of accuracy although, being equally fair, that’s long been a challenge yours truly has failed to rise to.

Instead, it’s a case of hoping that Dean Smith picks the right starting XI for the right result. For hoping that Forest prove anything but Tricky Trees. And if nothing else, at anywhere between 11-1 and 13-1, a few quid on 0-0 might not be the silliest investment ever made?

Here’s also hoping Neal Maupay can ruin that one.

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Last time out saw a win against Ipswich Town

 

Nick Bruzon