Tag Archives: Fulham

A double return for club legends as things crank up at the top.

23 Jan

Another night of Championship action saw more going the way of Brentford. Nottingham Forest warmed up for Tuesday night’s six-pointer after being pegged back by Reading to draw their game in hand 1-1 at The City Ground. Elsewhere, Fulham failed to trouble the scorers as they ended proceedings at Charlton with a 0-0. It is a result that leaves the temporarily third placed team two points ahead of The Bees but with an extra game played. And as a curtain raiser to Saturday’s FA Cup action, Leicester City looked in devastatingly strong form as they blitzed West Ham 4-1 in the Premier League. I guess you could say, West Hammered…. I’ll get my coat.

For a night where Brentford fans had to sit back on the couch to watch things unfold around us (or ‘Kirsty and Phil’, as happened in our house –  I’m keeping those remote control green cards up my sleeve), it all went surprisingly well. The Nottingham Forest performance was one that the BBC described afterwards as “A lacklustre game”, in which they left it very late to take the lead before letting the visitors back in just three minutes later. Sound familiar? Pretty sure something similar happened 11 days ago, too. Things are somewhat grim when Reading are deemed your Nemesis but it is still another point. Former Bee Lewis Grabban (what must he be worth these days?) scoring the goal for the home team which moves him to within two of Ollie Watkins at the top of The Championship golden boot chart. 

The result itself leaves Brentford fifth, for now, with Forest going one point ahead of us. However, with their visit to Griffin Park scheduled for this Tuesday destiny is very much in our own hands. Victory for The Bees is guaranteed to take us back to third place. This, after Fulham were held at The Valley. Huff, Puff, Oooh but no reward would seem to have been the order of the day there. As we’ve said many times, most recently at Huddersfield last Saturday, if you can’t find the back of the net it counts for nothing. They’ll be as happy as we were to remain unbeaten, of course, but it does mean we have a wonderful chance to restore the natural order of things at the business end of The Championship. Perhaps even crank up that pressure even more on Leeds and West Brom – both currently choking  (another) seemingly uncatchable lead like Greg Norman in a bunker.

All of which sets Tuesday up wonderfully but before that we have the small matter of Leicester City in the FA Cup. Expect a big house and a wonderful atmosphere for that one, regardless of who Thomas Frank chooses to start with.

Interestingly, I saw a tweet from the GPG last night suggesting some form of possible team news. A number of squad players missed the B team game in Portugal (including Mads Roeslev and Jan Zamburek) whilst the legend that is Sam Saunders got a run out towards the end, suggesting it somewhat unlikely he’ll be lined up for a stunning comeback to first team action. Or was it a late fitness test? One can dream. 

Certainly, Sam’s return to action was one that that nobody saw coming until official Twitter did their thing. Whilst it is perhaps a leap too far to ever imagine he’ll be able to forsake his new role for a return to first team action, the chance to say “And this is Saunders’ territory” for real once more has certainly put a smile on the face this morning.

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One can dream

Sam wasn’t the only Griffin Park hero doing his thing, either. The club has announced that Marcus Gayle has taken up a role as a Club Ambassador. Chief executive Jon Varney telling ‘official’ that, “His service both on and off the pitch to Brentford has meant that he’s already much-loved by both supporters and staff alike. Marcus has such a lot to offer by representing the Club on matchdays and continuing to build our profile in the industry as well as supporting key projects in the local community and our plans for the move to our new stadium“.

Well said, Jon. And well done Marcus. A hero to all, his service on the pitch was legendary. Here’s to things continuing off it. You can read that one in full, here.

Marcus – then and now

As for Leicester City, they got their shooting boots warmed up in some style as they returned to winning ways against one time World Cup winners West Ham. 4-1 is a landslide at any level and was a result which, whilst boosting confidecne, was marred by injuries to both Nampalys Mendy and Jamie Vardy. The latter suffering an apparent hamstring problem which he attempted, but failed, to run off. 

At full time, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers told the press that “It is not his hamstring which is good. Hopefully over the next couple of days it will ease off and he will be fit. Jamie is a real talisman for the team but if we are going to have success it is about the team”. All of which suggests that had there been any chance of him starting at the weekend, that has now gone the same way Leeds’ confidence levels i.e. dead in the water.  Full details of that one are on the BBC match report.

It’s a huge shame for the player and the club, of course. Vardy now denied the chance to run out at Griffin Park before we move home whilst The Bees miss out on the opportunity to test ourselves against the very best. If nothing else, Leicester’s form is one of the few things keeping the top end of the Premier League vaguely interesting. Making it technically competitive in a division where, as it stands, Liverpool are thirteen points clear with two games in hand. Even the Scottish top flight is tighter than that (not a typo). So a short absence for Moriarty’s other half can only be a good thing.

Yet, like us, regardless of who may be missing it is very much about using the whole of your squad to the best of the situation. I have no doubt this is going to be as tough a challenge as they come. And it is one I cannot wait for. The BBC studio is already in place and the pitch ready. All that remains is for two more sleeps to happen and then we can get things going.

Bring it on. See you there.

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Here’s to more of this on Saturday…

Nick Bruzon

Tricky choices for the boss. Brutal words to a special Guest.

21 Jan

Oh my word. Would you believe it?. There were smiles all over Brentford last night after yet another favour going our way at the top of the Championship table. Stoke City hung on to beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at the Hawthorns, meaning the gap between ourselves and the top spot is locked in at six points. With the Baggies and Leeds United both to visit Griffin Park still, along with Nottingham Forest in a week’s time, the league continues to prove itself the most exciting in Europe. Elsewhere, some audio has emerged from the Dave Berry Breakfast show on Absolute Radio after a listener, Brian Guest, got in contact regarding Fulham and their clappers at the weekend.

First up, West Bromwich Albion. Oh my, Just when the Championship couldn’t get any more unexpected, it has. And then some. I have to be honest that watching this one on Sky last night, I couldn’t help but feel Stoke City were only moments away from collapsing after their early goal. Surely West Brom would find a way through? Surely? But no. Wave after wave of pressure was repelled as the Potters closed out the game in some style. It all looked so, so controlled by the end of it. The home side unable to penetrate and their record now stretching out to one win in eight league games. See also: Leeds United. 

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As it now stands on the BBC

All of which makes the point earned by Brentford on Saturday seem even more valuable than it did back then. Sure, 0-0 hardly reeks of glamour (on paper) but I’d take it over defeat any day of the week. I’m ecstatic about the way the top two keep on hitting ‘self-destruct’. How that once humungous lead is now becoming thinner by the week.

It all goes to make next week’s visit of Nottingham Forest to Griffin Park all the more crucial. The Tricky Trees sit just behind us. Level on points but some way back on goal difference. However, they have that all important additional opportunity that is provided by having played one game fewer. Whilst I’m a firm believer in the adage that points in the bag are better than games in hand, you can bet they’ll be bang up for what is a real six pointer.

If anything, the short term destiny of The Championship is very much in their hands. Aswell as the game at Brentford, their next five fixtures include a visit from Leeds United and a trip to West Bromwich Albion. On current form, a guaranteed six points. Ahh, if only football really was that simple. The positive news here being that if Brentford keep doing their thing, then something else will go in our favour. One of those three teams has no choice but to drop points. 

I’d go so far to say that, and whisper this in hushed tones, Tuesday is more important than the visit of Leicester City in the FA Cup this weekend. I love the tournament and am desperate to proceed but if the price of keeping our assault on the upper echelons of the table going is to keep our squad fresh and play some of the B-team, then name Jan Zamburek as captain right now. Return Emiliano Marcondes to the line up. Stick Luke Daniels between the posts.

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I’m all for this on Saturday

Who knows what Thomas is thinking about there. Who’d be a head coach? For all we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves, and play-off zone consolidation has to be the immediate aim, that narrowing gap to the top makes for the most tempting prize. Like Indiana Jones reaching for the idol, would we unleash all manner of mayhem and chaos if we made a grab for it? For me, it has to be worth the gamble of naming a less familiar starting XI in the cup. 

I’ll still be 100% behind the Bees and screaming support but wouldn’t be anywhere near as disappointed as I was at Arsenal when we saw Dean Smith’s initial line up for that one last season. Then, the campaign was fresh with a wonderful chance to make a name for ourselves. Now, we’re knee deep in the blood of our Championship rivals and looking to take down more. That has to be where the resources are ploughed. Unless, of course, the players are fit enough for another stint of four games in fourteen days (at least, my fingers only go up to ten). Whomever is named, both games represent wonderful opportunities and I can’t wait.

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Alan Judge pulls one back against Arsenal

Elsewhere, I was listening to national station Absolute Radio yesterday morning. Specifically, the Dave Berry breakfast show where our eponymous host, co-host / Nottingham Forest supporter Matt Dyson, and sports anchor Glenn Moore were contacted by a listener. Brian Guest.

On hearing his name my ears pricked up. If memory serves, he may have once had a body of work published in the Fulham match day programme when The Bees came to visit. Getting one (or three) past the editor to reflect on some of their lesser moments whilst under the guise of supporting the home club. Or something like that.

Dave had asked listeners to sum up their weekend, but in just six words. It’s a regular part of the Monday show and it seems Brian is an avid listener. He got in touch to share the update, “Fulham had clappers. Why? Why? Why?”

It was a question which clearly nudged the boundaries of curiosity, and common sense, as the results are below. Enjoy. Unless you support Fulham……

Nick Bruzon  

It’s even tighter at the top as pressure grows.

19 Jan

A 0-0 draw at Huddersfield Town keeps the Brentford streak going. That’s one defeat in eight games as The Bees kept up the pressure on the top two. With Leeds United falling apart (again), their own 1-0 loss at Loftus Road yesterday means the gap from us to second is now down to 5 points from the 12 that it was just a few weeks ago. Hoping for a QPR win wasn’t the most enjoyable way to spend a Saturday lunchtime, and one which could be better translated as more praying for an away disaster, but events transpired in our favour and that’ll do me looking at the table this morning. Whilst Fulham remain fractionally  ahead of us, there was at least the consolation of watching their supporters spend all day crying on social media over the ‘clappers’ video’ from yesterday’s piece. There, there – mummy will kiss it better. Factor in the added bonus of Leicester City being next up in the FA Cup and its all happening in TW8.

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Brentford ‘official’ sum it up on Twitter

First up, Huddersfield Town. It was a performance that Thomas Frank would describe at full time as ‘average’ , saying he wasn’t happy with a point. Good man – high levels of expectation and long may that continue. Personally, 0-0 doesn’t look great on paper but this was a team missing both Pontus Jansson and Mathias Jensen. Both were deemed to be injured although one does then wonder if it leaves them fresh / available for the Leicester game. You know, just to keep the legs ticking over. Thomas would suggest in his interview (below) that it may be a game too soon for the midfielder but we’ll see. 

As for positives, it was another clean sheet to the Championship’s tightest defence. In a game of few chances, Brentford arguably had the majority. Josh Dasilva coming closest as he hit the post late on, albeit we all know that shots at goal count for naff all if you can’t put them away. But, it’s a point on the road. It’s another game unbeaten. It’s even more ground gained on the top two. It’s further psychological pressure applied to a Leeds United side who continue to astound with their ability to hit the meltdown button. 

Thomas tells it how it is.

We’re never going to pick up three points EVERY game. That’s not how football works, generally. Albeit, the memory of Liverpool and Manchester City matching each other win for win last season as the Premier League rolled out to that relentless conclusion  is still fresh in the mind. Liverpool are doing it again this time around whilst everybody else around them has reverted to what is considered the norm in footballing form. At least, for teams competing at the business end. Win most games, draw a few and slip up every now and again. Just look at the defeats for Leicester last weekend (Southampton) or Chelsea yesterday (injury hit Newcastle). So a point for Brentford is something I’ll embrace. Moreso in the bigger picture of how the season end table may play out. The key thing at this juncture is not to be hitting the skids. Not to be ‘doing a Leeds’. Not to have a record akin to West Brom, who are currently experiencing similarly patchy form.

I’m just gad that the emotional investment in proceedings at Loftus Road wasn’t wasted. Nobody wants to hope for an away defeat there, in the normal course of events, although this is anything but a normal season. So things couldn’t have turned out any better than hoped for. At least, from a Brentford / Leeds perspective. Patrick Bamford saw a penalty saved and Kalvin Phillips was shown a straight red late on for a horror challenge that summed up the wretched state of affairs currently being enjoyed / endured (delete as applicable) by the Elland Road outfit. They host Millwall next Tuesday with the Lions looking to go one better than their current position just outside the play-off zone. That promises to be fun. 

At the same time, we’re home to Nottingham Forest with the FA cup sandwiched in between. Excitement levels continue to build in this part of West London as the denouement of Griffin Park life draws to a thrilling conclusion. Fighting a battle on two fronts is going to mean some tough decisions are made on Saturday when that team is announced late in the morning. Go for broke in the cup? Stick with the B team? Or play a mix of both? Either way, I can’t wait for the next chapter of the Brentford story to unfold.

See you there.

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Things are getting tight at the top

Nick Bruzon 

What would Peter do?

18 Jan

It’s very much two sides of the same Championship coin today. On the one, we’ve Brentford where victory at Huddersfield Town will take us to within four points of table toping West Bromwich Albion. On the other, there’s the somewhat distasteful situation at Loftus Road this lunchtime where Leeds United visit. Nobody ever, ever wants the home team to pick up points there yet, somehow, in this instance would it be the worst thing to happen? As for last night, there was the horror show at Neverland where Fulham hosted Middlesbrough. Not so much the narrowest of 1-0 victories for the hosts but the awful, awful reminder of clappers. If Matthew Benham is reading (unlikely, let’s be honest), please can we make sure that along with goal music and giant flags, these remain on the list of things NEVER to bring to Lionel Road. See also: foam fingers, run out music for the warm up, gin bars, neutral stands, light shows, giant statues of ‘suspect’ individuals.

First up, Brentford. There’s not too much to say on this one today. We know that with West Bromwich Albion playing on Monday night, there’s everything to gain should we get the win. Three points, obviously, but also another chance to increase the psychological pressure on the league leaders. Going into the latest round of fixtures, they’ve only managed to win once in their last 7(seven) league fixtures. Leeds United are once out of 6. It’s a figure we keep repeating but it’s one of vital importance and has seen that 12 point lead slashed. With both teams still to visit Griffin Park, that slim chance of automatic remains within our hands if they continue to assist by falling apart, again.

Which is all well and good but counts for naff all if we can’t complete our piece in the Championship equation. To be honest, even having this conversation seems bonkers but the table doesn’t lie. The Christmas period saw the play-off chasing teams start to get a little bit more clear air and now the focus is in knowing that wins allow us to keep looking upwards rather than over the shoulder. Last time out on the road saw the obliteration of Bristol City, 0-4 at Ashton Gate with Ollie Watkins grabbing a brace. His next goal, on Saturday against QPR, saw him draw level at the top of the divisional goalscoring charts with Aleksander Mitrovic. Today could see him stride clear.

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Ollie and the team are on a hot streak

Could. Of course, Huddersfield Town are no slouches. Anything but. We saw in November how they have set up and it wasn’t a great game. Brentford are designed to play free-flowing, attacking football with a rock solid core and defence. It’s fair to say on that afternoon, The Terriers embodied the term ‘industrial’. But, there’s no knocking them. Deep in the relegation they did what they had to and got the points. At the end of the day, Clive, the records books will show that they won. We lost. Knowing that you can be amazing is secondary if you are out played or outmuscled on the afternoon. Which is what happened and I won’t criticise anybody for doing what they need to do to win a game. No matter how desperate a spectacle it was for the home fans. Huddersfield didn’t care and why would they? Boot on the other foot and we’d rightly be celebrating the win. Frankly, if we don’t have the nous to get past that then we have to call it a learning curve and push on from there. Knowing that, at times, we won’t have everything our way.

To be fair, push on is what we’ve done. The quagmire of Millwall aside, it’s been nothing but great times for the last few months. The Bees have climbed the table and reeled in almost all above us. Only Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and (temporarily) Fulham remain. For all the cracks about the top two falling apart, even they’ll pick up the points this time around. QPR crumbled under the slightest pressure last week – blown over by a puff of wind – whilst West Brom face a Stoke City side that have just offloaded their most overlooked asset, Ryan Woods, to Millwall on loan.

I’d love to have gone in to today in third place but it makes no real difference. We’ll reclaim that spot with a draw or win and, being honest, watching the Fulham game last was one done very much with hands in front of the eyes. Not so much through concern about the result (they were always going to pick up points) but more because of the cringeworthy clappers. They were out in force, again, with Tarquin, Piers and the rest of the gang beating their flappers as though it was the most exciting thing since being invited into the audience of Mrs. Browns Boys. 

My word, does this club have no shame? And people wonder why they are considered a laughing stock. Clappers, foam fingers, bells, drums and flags belong where the sun don’t shine. Not in a football stadium. If you think these generate an atmosphere or are some sort of personality substitute then take a long, hard look.

As for the starters before the main course of Brentford – Huddersfield Town, there’s the small matter of QPR – Leeds United for lunch. I have to look long term here and hope for an away defeat, no matter how awful that may seem. I guess the question here is, ‘What would Peter do’?

It’s one we may have to ask…

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Could jigsaw side Leeds fall apart in the box, again?

Nick Bruzon

Just when things couldn’t get any more intriguing in The Championship….

17 Jan

There’s plenty happening on Friday morning and Brentford haven’t even got close to being involved, yet. Our weekend trip to Huddersfield Town is another opportunity to keep pace with / close the gap further on Leeds United. We’re currently third in the Championship table after humping QPR although know that should Fulham beat injury hit Middlesbrough at The Gin Bar tonight then they will, temporarily, overtake us. Although one point behind, a draw won’t be good enough thanks to their vastly inferior goal difference of +11 compared to a division’s best +23 for The Bees. Elsewhere there’s trouble for the club formerly known as Frank Lampard’s Derby County,  Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Please. Stop sniggering. There’s nothing funny about being accused of breaching EFL spending rules.

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Good times at Griffin Park last Saturday

First and foremost, Brentford. Not only does our game at Huddersfield Town present the chance to keep up the pressure on Leeds and West Brom  – both of whom are currently falling apart in the box quicker than a dropped jigsaw – but perhaps also there’s a slight element of payback. Anybody present at the Griffin Park Kickathon agaisnt the Terriers back in November can’t help but struggle to remember how awful it was. Our form since that point has been pretty much non-stop, but that encounter (ending in a 0-1 defeat) was horrific and best forgotten. It was described at the time on these pages as “A turgid afternoon in dank conditions” and has long since been consigned to the darker recesses of the memory. The place Where Mrs. Brown and her boys reside. Probably wearing Team GB tracksuits and drinking ‘expresso’. On Star Wars day, May the fourth.

We digress, but that’s how awful it was . Possibly rivalling September’s 0-0 with Stoke City for a text book demonstration of anti-football. That was then, though. We’ve since gone on to dump Stoke out of the FA Cup with our B-team and I have every confidence that the first XI will do similar tomorrow. Or, at least, have a much better chance of showing what they can do on their day.

Last weekend’s blitz of QPR saw us devastate our neighbours in a 15 minute first half flurry of non-stop attacking football. A goal apiece for the much touted WMB was bookended with further chances to extend the lead. Former Chief Executive Mark Devlin, watching on from the Director’s box, could only share the bemusement of his fellow Rangers’ fans as their world fell apart. It was yet another stunning performance from Brentford and I’d bet on more to come tomorrow.

Ironically, Mark will be watching on again. This time in his new guise as interim Chief Executive of Huddersfield Town. I’ve a lot of time for Mark – who was always extremely approachable when at Griffin Park – and whilst wishing him all the best in this role, will perhaps delay those good wishes until Sunday. There’s no room for sentiment when there are points at stake, especially with so much riding on this one.

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Plenty to mull over for the Huddersfield Chief Exec last weekend

Yet my faith in this team is unshakeable at present. My knowledge of their ability and pleasure on watching them breaking at 100mph sky high. Honestly, and this isn’t arrogance, such is the way we are playing I’d back us to pick up the points anywhere at the minute. Thomas Frank can do the job of keeping the player’s feet on the ground and telling them there are no easy games, take each one as it comes et etc. For the fans, optimism is a good, good thing and I’m loving it.

Fulham do have that chance to see us start the day in fourth place, should they get the home win against Middlesbrough this evening. Sadly, they will. Even without Aleksander Mitrovic they’ll have too much in them to come away with anything less than three points. But that’s all by the by as long as we do our thing on Saturday. Especially given as Leeds have a trip to Loftus Road – if ever a game said ‘away banker’ it is that one. On the plus side, with West Brom not in action until Monday evening, there’s further opportunity to close the gap on at least one of the top two, IF we can do our thing. No pressure lads 🙂

But these are good times. Lionel Road season tickets are flying off the shelves with the Twitter hashtag #MyNewHome showing plenty of smiling faces. The latest I saw using that one saw Alex Austin and his family now booked in, meaning the helpful advice and reminders of the rules offered to linesmen will continue long into our new home and, all being well, The Premier League. Magnificent news.

We’re doing all of this on budget and within the rules of the EFL. Something Birmingham City have already fallen fall of and now, it seems, Derby County (can we just take the “Wayne Rooney’s” as a given?) are facing trouble. The charges brought by the authorities relate to losses in the three years up to June 2018. With rules allowing clubs to lose up to £39m over a three year period (still, wow),  the controversial deal to sell Pride Park to owner Mel Morris for £80m continues to attract scrutiny. As the BBC reports, “The Rams have leased back the ground, which was said to have been independently valued at £80m despite it being on the club’s books as an asset worth £41m, from a company owned by Morris.” Hmm, sounds legit.      

 This one is sure to rumble. I’m just glad our own set up is one which is so tightly controlled. Sure, it always hurts short term when we see our heroes sold (emotionally, more than on the pitch) but I know whose shoes I’d rather be in. Sustainable, improving, getting stronger by the season and with a new home imminent. Or the club now having to answer some very awkward questions.

There’s not much more to say here. I’m sure The Rams will argue they’ve done nothing wrong. Mind you, so did QPR when they got fined. And that didn’t work out too well for them.

Instead, all the focus for us should be on events in Huddersfield. Perhaps with half an eye on Loftus Road and The Cottage…

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Saturday’s goalscoring heroes – accelerated like a Porsche off the starting line

Nick Bruzon

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

11 Jan

Saturday morning. Brentford are set to host QPR in a few hours time. The chance to inflict one more Griffin Park defeat on our near neighbours too delicious an opportunity to ignore. The potential of closing the gap between Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and ourselves to a mere six points an even bigger incentive. Whilst both of those have eminently winnable games later today, keeping the heat on two teams who have only picked up a single win apiece out of their last five and six Championship games respectively is no bad thing in the psychological stakes.  Assuming, of course, we do our thing !

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Another of these would be lovely

My word, this is what football is all about. The QPR fans can pretend it doesn’t matter. I’ve seen plenty of talk from their supporters making out that this is no derby, that there is nothing between our respective sides and that any talk of rivalry with Brentford is something purely played out in our heads.

Really? It didn’t feel that way when we were trashing the pants off them (again) at Loftus Road earlier in the season – you can stop crying now. When they tried to put us out of existence and move in back in 1967. When Martin Rowlands was kissing the badge – hopefully a doctor has now helped clear up the infection. When they were deriding us for our bus stop status. When there is a mere 5.2 miles (aka a short hop on the 237) separating our two grounds. Make that 4.2 miles next season when we move in to Lionel Road.

Try telling me it doesn’t matter

With Brentford flying high and achieving success within our means rather than incurring the huge fines that come with overspending it smacks of jealousy. With the Bees all set to move into a state of the art stadium whilst our neighbours languish in their matchbox it stinks of bitterness. With The Bees having a visionary owner rather than being a club going through the motions and struggling for a Plan B it reeks of huge inferiority complex. 

Yes, I’ll absolutely acknowledge they’ve been in the top flight more often than us and have been picked up the odd piece of silverware. Well done. Congratulations. That was then. This is now. Live on former glories at your peril. We’ve bided our time, caught them with their pants down and are now the biggest and best Championship club in West London. That’s beyond doubt – if for no other reason, the table doesn’t lie. Their supporters can pretend it doesn’t matter or doesn’t hurt all they want. I’m not having a bar of it. To borrow a line from Hamlet (Shakespeare. rather than the cigars), “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

As such, I’ll take particular pleasure in really raising the roof at Griffin Park today. Of knowing how important this game is. Of relishing how extra special it feels every time we beat the lices of QPR or Fulham. How extra sweet those points taste in games of this nature every time we add another three to our total. I’m not alone, either. Griffin Park is sure to be a cauldron of noise. If the QPR fans want to kid themselves it doesn’t matter and prefer to take their own game of Loftus Road library simulator on the road then all the better.

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It’s all gone quiet over there – again.

Ok – I’m not a complete idiot and fully appreciate that going gung-ho comes with it’s own risks. Yet this is how I feel about this one. To be honest, this is how genuinely confident I am every time The Bees run out to play at present. Regardless of opposition. Matthew Benham and his team have transformed this club. Every time we think we’ve seen a ‘best ever’ Brentford, they just go and reinvent the model (no pun intended). The football being played is like nothing we’ve ever seen. Goals flying in and the meanest defence in the division. Scintillating attack combined with a back line that oozes confidence. That’s not arrogance but a simple fact borne out by the statistics at the top of the table. That early season wobble as we found our feet nothing more than a hazy memory. For crying out loud, back then we even lost to Birmingham City….

So yes, these comments obviously come with a fair amount of home bias. With lashings of self-belief in what we do. Of course they will – it’s a Brentford blog page and we’re playing some quite incredible football at present. If that upsets anybody well tough. Get over it.  Everything we have done so far has been on absolute merit. That’s not to say the job is done. Anything but. Pride comes before a fall and if we even take our foot off the gas slightly or think a game is won before it kicks off then that’s a recipe for disaster. Thomas Frank will remind the players of that. For the supporters, our job – no, our privilege – is the chance to keep it loud and enjoy this moment. Every week sees our time at Fortress Griffin Park grow ever shorter. Let’s make sure we go out on a high.

My word. Hurry up 12.30pm. I can’t wait. Genuinely can’t wait. There’ll be Kevin Keegan levels of loving it if we do what I know we can. Bring it on and see you there.

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I’d love it etc etc etc

Nick Bruzon

Let’s do this. Come on…..!!!

10 Jan

It’s all about lunchtime TV at Griffin Park. The Brentford – Leicester City FA Cup tie has been picked for live coverage with the BBC deciding that this is the game for their  Saturday 12.45pm slot. Of more critical importance, we’ve got QPR coming down tomorrow for another. This one kicks off live on Sky at 12.30pm. But, frankly, watching it from the comfort of the sofa is the last place I’d choose to be. There’s nothing like a West London derby and this is, in theory, our last one at home before we move to Lionel Road. In theory, he says. The Bees and Fulham are both sitting in the play-off spots at present……..

Let’s get back to more immediate matters though. QPR and then Leicester City. 

First up, the visit of the not so super hoops. Anybody present for our 3-1 win at Loftus Road would know how incredible an atmosphere the Brentford fans generated. How exhilarating our performance. How easily we opened up our hosts, time and again. The BMW’s motor purring. Benrahma’s penalty and celebration entering the pantheon of club folklore as they ran to celebrate on the touchline with Peter Gilham.

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Back of the net…!!!

We know what this game means to Peter. You can bet tomorrow he’ll be referring to them as ‘our visitors’. Their name the most blasphemous of phrases following the well documented events of 1967. He’s not alone in having that added desire to win this fixture. We’ve a fine recent record against neighbours separated only by a distance of just over five miles and a short hop on the 237 from Westfield to a bus stop in Hounslow. It is one we will be absolutely pumped to continue on Saturday. Play-offs and promotion are, perhaps, equaled by local bragging rights as a motivation factor. Albeit, we’ll very much be playing the game and the team in front of us rather than the occasion.

Whilst Brentford are flying, QPR have been very much on a bumpy track recently. Although two wins in a row (wow!!) in January may suggest a positive start to 2020, prior to that they had a dreadful December – picking up just one one point from the last four games  – and a winless November. All being well,  vague form – back to back wins against bang average teams – will be arrested as easily as it has raised it’s head. Especially if we can get that early goal.

SWIFT Brentford QPR

Results at home to QPR have been wonderful in recent seasons

And if we don’t, patience will be the order of the day. The bench is starting to look stronger whilst the team just keep on going for the full 90 minutes. Me banging on won’t change this. You know it and I know it. Thomas Frank and his team are flying. We’ve all seen what Brentford can do. I just can’t wait for the opportunity to try and close the gap on the top two. With our game taking place at lunchtime, victory would take us to within 6 points of Leeds United and West Brom. How nice to do that at the expense of Rangers.

As for Leicester City and the FA Cup, TV was always an option and given their fixture list the Saturday lunchtime seemed likely. Now it has been confirmed that the BBC have selected us. As such, kick off is now 12.45 on Saturday 25th with tickets going on sale Friday afternoon to existing season ticket holders. Full details are on the official website.

There’s not too much else to say at this juncture. If for no other reason, the (subsequently corrected) error in yesterday’s piece that forgot about us playing Nottingham Forest the Tuesday after Leicester. Oops.  Besides, I think we’ve done this one to death now.

Very much time to concentrate on the league. And it’s not often you can say that when you are still in the cup. Bring it on tomorrow. Get on the bus. Get off in Hounslow. See you there….

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Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

Nick Bruzon

New decade. Same brilliance.

2 Jan

What a start to the New Year. A 4-0 win for Brentford at Bristol City about as comprehensive as they come. Robins’ manager Lee Johnson self-combusting in a full time Scrappy Doo impersonation that saw him red carded at full time for an altercation with Thomas Frank.  With Leeds United being held at West Bromwich Albion, the gap to the top two is back down to single figures. The Bees sit third in The Championship after Fulham lost at home. Millwall, Forest and The Cottagers making up the play-off places. Ollie Watkins back up to one goal behind Aleksander Mitrovic at the top of the divisional goal scoring charts after his brace rounded things off following early goals from Bryan Mbeumo and Saïd Benrahma.

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The full time score at Ashton Gate, c/o Quest TV this morning..

We’ve all see this one, presumably? Either as part of the thousand plus who travelled to Ashton Gate or via the red button on Sky. Yet some performances need to be chewed over once more, such was the manner of victory. David Raya set up the first goal with just 6 minutes gone. His enormo-clearance one that might have been selected at Millwall on Sunday. This time he called it right with a ball that must have carried close to three-quarters of the pitch before Ollie picked it off and danced through the visitors defence. They tried but couldn’t stop him and it slipped through for Mbeumo to dink home his tenth of the season.

1-0 and game on. 1-0 and man off. Ashley Williams was shown red just minutes after he and Ollie had both been booked for a coming together. A scything challenge on Watkins resulted in his ejection and with it, the home team’s chance. It was 0-2 moments later. Less than half an hour gone and Benrahma got the goal he’s been looking for in recent weeks. Daniel Bentley could only pat down a Jensen shot and, despite upending Ollie when clean though, was unable to stop Saïd from doing his thing. It all looked ridiculously easy. The decision to trade him in for David Raya being proven more and more an incredible piece of business with each passing game.

A tactical readjustment for the hosts saw them working their way back in to the game. Relatively speaking. They didn’t concede anything further up to half time and even looked vaguely threatening. Yet there was no way through, with one kamikaze backpass in the second period giving even more opportunity for Ollie to join the scorers. His goals eventually coming in the final ten minutes. The first, guiding home a tracer bullet of a cross from Jan Zamburek down the left. His second, capitalising on a Mads Roerslev  (in for Dalsgaard) assist from the other flank.  Bentley only able to parry his header and there was to be no mistake as the ball fell nicely. 4-0 and all done. Barring the full time whistle and Johnson’s punishment. 

It really was a stunning, stunning performance. Thomas Frank’s BMW front three once more driving us forward with speed, skill and flair. It’s hard to believe the Mbeumo is only 20. Amazing to see the advances to Ollie’s game. Saïd on song just speaks for himself. All three once more dividing the goals between them. Benrahama back to his sizzling best. One second half flick over his own head had to be seen to be believed. Filthy, audacious, taking the p. All three rolled up into one and served up with a side salad of confidence and self-belief. Truly, he is a talent to behold.

With that accursed transfer window now open for a month, hanging on to B, M and W will be huge. If we can do it. Yet with spirits high and the team storming the table, why would anybody jump ship now? Yes, I know money talks and this is the naivety of being a fan but the chance to see what this team could do in the second half of the season is an intriguing one.

The defence is tight (we are now clear in the fewest ‘goals against’ chart), the midfield dominant and the attacking trio electric. Leeds United continue to wobble. Their 1-1 with West Brom meaning its only been one win out of the last five for them. Even that needed a 95th minute own goal by Birmingham City to hand them the points after having shipped four themselves.I still think that top two would be Boys Own stuff, relying on a staggering run of favours, but as long as we keep on doing our thing then anything else is a bonus. The gap in the-play off zone is starting to grow with clear air now between us and seventh placed Sheffield Wednesday. Four points the difference and our staggering goal difference of +21 bettered only by West Bromwich Albion.

It is easy to get excited, no question, but why not? Why shouldn’t we enjoy the moment? This team and this performance has been building . The goals have been flying in for months. The team slowly climbing up the table. Sneaking under the radar, if you will, to emerge into 2020 with plaudits from all. We’ve got the FA Cup against Stoke City next and then a return to Griffin Park in the league where QPR visit for our next Championship fixture. With the Lionel Road season tickets also going on sale to us non-premiums, it promises to be an exciting week or two.

Then again, when isn’t it?

Nick Bruzon

One day to go. What have we missed? Your vote needed.

31 Dec

2019 is drawing to a close. Brentford end the decade sitting fourth in the Championship table following what have been the most consistently exciting ten years in our history. The current edition of FourFourTwo magazine has us ranked first out of the twenty-five greatest EFL clubs from 2010-2019. It would be fair to say that things are going very, very well – a most un-Brentford like scenario.  It was a subject we looked at in the article submitted for the Swansea City programme on Boxing Day. From Fulham to Preston ; Leeds to Birmingham City. What are the top ten highlights of the decade we are about say goodbye to? 

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Not my words – well, the content was but FFT did the maths first

The programme piece is reproduced, and enlarged upon, below. However, the real reason for running this is as much to see what was missed out. What was your moment of the decade that should have been included? Whether awesome or awful – we celebrated both.  Personally, and even though a sneaky 11 was included, the absence of last season’s Neal Maupay goal celebration at Leeds United (and at home to Leeds United)  has had me kicking myself all the way to the printers. How did it miss out?

Neal Maupay Leeds

Come on Leeds. It WAS a penalty

 So without further ado, and to whet your appetite, these were mine. But are they right?

10 Josh McEachran’s photoshoot. A bizarre series of pictures that appeared in, at least, The Telegraph and The Mail. If the pictures were odd, and they were, it is something best remembered for the description on Twitter of his looking “Like the chief whistleblower in an expose on bullying in the world of junior golf”.

9 Marcelo Trotta takes a penalty. Not ‘that’ one. Come on, we’re better than going there. I’m sure somebody has already done that anyway. Instead, the game with Gillingham in January 2014. The one he scored having made a shock/ballsy return to the club after something happened late on in a game v Doncaster the previous season. I forget exactly what.

Trotta pen v Gills

Get in!!! What Doncaster thing?

8 Chesney. It’s hard to imagine the conversation that lead to us starting the decade with none other than Wojciech Szczęsny between the sticks. Yet that’s what happened when the Polish international and Arsenal’s number 53 cut his league teeth at Griffin Park. He was immense. It was bonkers yet, if anything, it was a sign of things to come.

7 Jota. Proof that despite the sneers from outside TW8, Matthew Benham’s computer model works. And how. A luxuriantly coiffered hero, his picture still adorns the gates to Griffin Park. The last minute goals. The skill. The heartbreaking love letter to the fans when he returned to Spain (we’ll forget the second one when he left for Birmingham). The emotional second coming which saw him possibly better than ever before. My favourite player of the decade. 

6 The Marinus experiment. Proof that even Matthew’s computer gets it wrong sometimes. Have you turned him on and off again? Have you tried banging it? Ok, then the model must be broken. He lasted 9 league games, got humped by Oxford in the league cup and ditched Jonathan Douglas. Hardly the way to endear yourself to the fans, for whom Dougie was a hero to many. Yet in his short time at Griffin Park he did inspire the unicorn that launched a thousand photoshops.

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Any excuse to crowbar this one in.

5 Stuart Dallas . Specifically, scoring THAT goal at Fulham in the 4-1 win back in April 2015. The lay off from Andre Gray was beautiful but then Stuart ran on to the ball and did his thing. Oh. My. Word. One touch followed by an absolute thunder bolt of a shot from thirty yards out on the diagonal. The ball accelerating all the way into the top corner in front of the Bees’ fans. The single best hit Brentford goal of the decade, if not ever.

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THE moment

4 Snowball-gate. January 2013 and a League one match between Brentford and Tranmere. The fans had earlier helped clear the pitch to ensure the game could go ahead but what to then do at half-time with all the snow that had been accumulated at the back of the Ealing Road stand?  Snowballs. Lots of snowballs. When goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams emerged for the second period he was greeted with such a barrage that the referee was forced to delay the game.

3 Ten Times Better. October 2017 and Harlee Dean panicked in front of a tv camera, telling us about his new Birmingham City team that “We’ve got quality in that squad. I’ve been in teams where we’ve finished fifth in this league and missed out on promotion by play offs. and this squad is ten times better than that.”

The response? Our 2-0 win at St. Andrews a month later was followed by the incredible 5-0 hammering in the return fixture. “Cheer up Harlee Dean” sang the supporters. In the ultimate trolling, even the club joined in and upgraded our usual ‘win music’ from Kool And The Gang to The Monkees.

He started it

2 Victory at Leyton Orient in March 2014. The most stressful, incredible, backs to the wall performance as the 10 man Bees hung on for a 1-0 win against the combined forces of Russell Slade’s Os and referee Robert Madley. It was a MASSIVE win in a promotion 6-pointer that saw the bitter boss complaining that we’d celebrated like we’d won the FA Cup at full time. He’s right. We did. And then some.  

Cliff and Russell 2

Who did what like we’d won what now?

1 Alan Judge’s penalty v Preston in April 2014. Brentford securing promotion with a penalty? Who’d have thought it but the combination of his goal, and other results, helped the Bees to a 1-0 win and reaching the Championship. This, despite a lot of 11th hour squeaky bum time at Wolves when Rotherham started scoring. The pitch invasion and post match street party that followed were the stuff of legend with promotion to the Championship confirmed. Kevin O’Connor was at the bar in The Griffin. The players in the street, celebrating with the fans. Cliff Crown was waving Russell Slade FA Cups around. Only at Griffin Park could this happen. Thank you. Everyone.

 

Some people are on the pitch - Juge's penalty v Preston saw a wonderful denouement

Some people are on the pitch.. etc etc

And given a football team has 11 players, why not add one more for luck. The hour that is Brentford ‘Official’ trying to get down wiv da kidz on social media: #trophyfriends #bignewambitions #novemberkings . Please, let’s never talk of this again.

Instead its over to you. if you can’t be bothered, have a Happy New Year and here’s to Bristol City on ,erm, Thursday?  

Nick Bruzon

As the fixture list kicks in, there’s a wonderful opportunity to be grabbed.

26 Dec

Thank goodness for football today. However you celebrated yesterday, the pressure is now off. Gifts have been bought, meals cooked and kitchen cleaned. Kind of. Still, that’s a problem for later. This afternoon we’ve got one of several opportunities to catch Brentford in TV action over the coming weeks as we play host to Swansea City in the live Sky game. A wonderful opportunity for supporters displaced by the festive period, I suppose, but no substitute for actually being at Griffin Park. The game sees our Bees sitting in the play-off zone and the Swans just outside by virtue of goal difference. Both teams knowing that a mere two points separate them from third placed Sheffield Wednesday. With Brentford flying, the mood is one of excitement. We annihilated Fulham last time out at home and can probably feel justified in thinking we may have come away from West Bromwich Albion with more. It promises to be a Christmas cracker (urghh, went there). But can we land a knockout blow on Boxing Day? (sorry).

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Full time celebrations last time out at home

The performance at West Bromwich Albion sounded immense. Talking to one fan in The Griffin yesterday lunchtime, he told me that if anything the highlights underplayed how dominant we were in that opening period. Of course, the score is what counts and both teams managed a goal apiece. However, things might have been very interesting had we gone in leading and a penalty been awarded for the wonderful diving save pulled off by defender Kyle Bartley immediately after we’d taken the lead. Instead, the officials waved play on rather than handball and the hosts did what they do – ruthless counter and subsequent equaliser. Credit to them – you can only play what the officials give. 

The Baggies are looking so, so strong and sit where they are on merit. Top of the table. Yet so do Brentford, just a few places below them. Whilst those around us have started to wobble – Swansea City being the prime example, only just recently pulling themselves out of a dreadful slump after starting at 100mph –  we’ve only got stronger. No better is this illustrated than at centre back. Despite the absence of both Julian Jeanvier and Pontus Jansson at various points recently, the addition of Ethan Pinnock to that holy trinity of defensive solidity has meant that whichever pairing Thomas Frank has started with have looked as comfortable as it comes.

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Could Pontus be back today?

The midfield trio have done the unthinkable of both replacing Romaine Sawyers and ousting Kamo to the bench. Faith in the system, the manager and his players now being well rewarded as Nørgaard, Jensen and Dasilva  pull the strings. Locking out the opposition and feeding Mbeumo and Benrahma . Those two ably supported down the flanks by flying full backs Rico and Henrik, with Ollie leading his chase for the golden boot up top. Yet it is in goal where we have perhaps our most unsung of all the current 11 heroes. The arrival of David Raya has seen the decision to sell Daniel Bentley to Bristol City more than justified. 

I was a huge fan of Bentley’s, and it’s good to see him doing well at Ashton Gate, but for Brentford things have stepped up a level. David is big, strong, quick off his line and has great distribution. He exudes confidence and there’s no fear of those random moments, flappy fingers or miscommunications with the back four that we’ve all seen so many times in the past. Our Championship goals against figure is only bettered by Leeds United (we’re 18 to their 15) and whilst this stats has been quoted on these pages before, it bears repeating. Everything starts from the back. Keep the goals out and that’s half the job done. Especially when you have the attacking options that Thomas then has available to him in his starting XI.

That’s the back slapping stuff. Now, we‘ve got another match to focus on. Yes, we have the ability to do it but congestion at the top of the table really means you need to keep winning to keep your place. Slip up on the pitch and you’ll fall down off it. Blink and you miss. I love this division so much. Anybody can beat anybody. This is not the case of  the Premier League where the wining team is usually telegraphed well in advance. Here, we’ve got to go for it and keep on going. The relentless holiday period sees trips to Bristol City and Millwall before the visit from QPR in early January. That’s before you even look at the FA Cup options.

Like today’s game with Swansea, you’ll be able to follow most of those on Sky. Certainly the Bristol game (red button) and QPR ( full fat coverage at lunchtime) but why would you? Given the choice, I mean.

Money, travel and time are the obvious factors against but if you’ve got any ability to go then let’s make it happen. These are all games that are going to be absolutely critical to our season. A glut of matches where the 12 points on offer over the next 17 (I think) days could have real bearing on our promotion campaign. Somebody has to slip up at some point. The big question being if Brentford can take advantage.

Roll on 3pm when we find out. See you there.

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Here’s to more of this today….

Nick Bruzon