Tag Archives: Fulham

A topsy-turvy day ends with a lot to be said for sustainable football.

1 Sep

In the end it all came to nothing for Brentford. Nobody in but nobody has gone and the transfer window has now slammed shut. Thankfully. Despite the lemming like collective jumping on the Fosu to Swansea City bandwagon, Tariqe is still a Bee. As are both Joel Valencia and Halil Dervişoğlu. None of those players moving out on anticipated loan with the former, apparently, floundering after Fulham failed to take Matt Grimes from the Liberty Stadium. Fosu having driven all the way to Wales in expectation before that one bit the dust. If you believe what you read. Which I didn’t. It made no sense and just goes to show you can’t always trust the Twitter rumour mill until things are done and dusted. The Athletic, amongst others, convinced it was on. It might have been but wasn’t. Well, I guess you get what you pay for.  Swansea clearly haven’t. Look positive though, its nothing compared to the mess at Barcelona.

Fosu. Deadline Day ended with Swansea trailing in his wake.

What else is there to say? Perhaps, as much as anything, is the question of why the Bees seemed set to offload a man popular with just about the entire fanbase and who has certainly proven his place? At one point it looked like we were going to have to start celebrating Canos Friday instead. And whilst, of course, supporters don’t decide team or managerial selection (thank goodness, based on some of the observations last season) , nobody could deny that this move seemed strange. Which is as much why trying to scratch below the surface will, once again, likely show why yours truly is the numpty on the terrace rather than anybody with any form of influence or input. 

Given his age, experience and development already I’m not sure the advantage to either Brentford or the player in sending him to Swansea? A club shedding players like a snake does its skin and positioned at the bottom end of the Championship table. Temporarily moving out a player who has always impressed for Brentford made no real sense, at face value. Perhaps there were deeper issues we are unaware of. Who knows?  

Maybe it was nothing more than looking to trim a squad that, per the GPG, is now one over the current maximum Premier League size of 25 (excluding Under 21 players).  As they put it, the current number of eligible players over 21 is 26. We still need one to go out. Or he sits on the sidelines. Albeit we have some temporary ‘respite’ on that side of things given Mads Bech would appear to be out for half the season at least. He can fill the somewhat unflattering ‘makeweight position’ in the short term and, as such, we may well see Tariqe in the Premier League.

Personally speaking, I’m just pleased there was no 11th hour bid for one of our ‘first name on the teamsheet’ players. Sergi Canos, Rico Henry, Ethan Pinnock and David Raya are still with us. There was no late, late bid to take Ivan Toney to Barcelona in lieu of the now departed Lionel Messi or Antoine Griezmann. £40m for the later a poor return on the £120m to bring him in just two seasons ago. The Catalan club off-loading their star names faster than Fulham exited the Prem last season. Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba taking wage cuts to keep the team within FFP limits whilst another £25m was recouped by the sale of Emerson Royal to Spurs.

Matthew Upson, commenting on the BBC live feed, would note. “For Messi to go says it all. I could not picture it. It has got that bad, we are seeing such a different Barca team – what will the team be like in coming seasons? To see it in thus position, I find it sad.”  

Why? As one source a bit  closer to West London said to me last night: “Why are so many people sad about it? Them and Real Madrid got so much more money than any other team just to maintain their cartel status and bring tourists to La Liga. F*ck ‘em. Get found out and go bust.”

Well said that man. Or woman. Brentford may not be going out and buying the big name players but, instead, we keep on doing our business the old school way. Albeit with a modern twist. Finding untapped talent and developing it. Building a squad through patience rather than remortgaging the house and putting the deeds on the line for an apparent quick fix solution. 

There’s a lot to be said for sustainable football.

Nick Bruzon 

A chance to remember ‘that’ goal then look forward to an epic build up.

13 Jul

And thus pre-season was complete. At least, in terms of the calendar. Hot on the heels of our trip to Manchester United, Brentford have had the final two games of the build up confirmed. Saturday 31st July sees a visit from West Ham United with Spanish outfit Valencia next up in a 5.30pm kick-off the following Saturday (7 August). Six days later it all starts when Arsenal jump on the Piccadilly line to South Ealing. Full details are on ‘official’, with the Valencia game expected to see a full house and even some away fans present for the visit of West Ham (presumably, actual fans rather than those in the half/half scarves).

Arsenal are a short tube ride away

With all Corona bets off from July 19th – albeit we’ll see how long that lasts – the next natural step is for Brentford to go for broke in terms of capacity. The Valencia game has been declared as the formal opening of our new stadium and I can’t wait. The atmosphere against Blackburn and Bournemouth was nothing short of incredible. When the place is full – and especially when Arsenal visit for a full blooded, full fat encounter – it only promises to be immense. More importantly these are three tests that, at least in terms of opposition, one would hope may provide a bit more a steer as how the Bees will fare in the forthcoming season. Assuming both teams go full tilt rather than use them as an experiment in squad rotation. 

We’ll likely end up somewhere in between but as much as anything else its just an excuse to go to football once more. Why wouldn’t you. Cripes, we’ve missed it. Desperately. Euro 2020 showed that, as if any reminder were actually needed, despite the painful on-pitch denouement to that competition (can’t even begin myself to start about the shameful stuff that happened off it). We’re still wiping up the tears in our house even now. A brutal punch to the stomach of a young boy who has so far experienced a World Cup semi-final and a Wembley win to reach the Premier league. Normally unshakeable faith in his team now tested once more following our assault by Fulham in the previous play-offs. Oh well, like Doncaster Rovers and Yeovil Town you can file them in the ‘where are they now?“ files.

Which pretty much sums up the quite magnificent enigma that is Brentford FC 2021. That we can now mention Yeovil and Doncaster in the same breath as Manchester United, Arsenal and Valencia. Talk about time being a great healer. Talk about looking forward to enjoying every moment of the most monumental season for our club since records began. Sink or swim? Stay or go? Still under the radar and under rated or flying high from the off? Nobody gives us much of a hope, although Ivan Toney’s popularity in the Fantasy football stakes suggests otherwise. Personally speaking, I’m hugely optimistic (quelle surprise) although will perhaps forego the annual bet on Brentford to win the league. Something that, over the years, has seen us just about in net-gain territory. Perhaps it may be more prudent to go ‘each way’ , this season. 

This far in to a small piece on West Ham and no mention of Said Benrahma. Yet. Ah, it’ll be great to see him back and no doubt there’ll be an appearance. A player up there with Jota in the ability stakes and one who has gone on to the next level, despite yet to break into the first team on a regular basis. He was AMAZING at Griffin Park. He had that brief cameo at Lionel Road when scoring ‘that’ goal in the league cup against a hapless Fulham outfit. The turn and beautiful back-heeled nutmeg before rounding Michael Hector to unleash the mother of all shots. No doubt he’ll warm up to a heroes welcome before it all goes ‘panto villain’ once the game starts. 

‘That’ goal against Fulham last season..

What an opportunity for us to lay down a marker as to how far we’ve come. The fears that selling him and Ollie Watkins would see Brentford come to nothing last season, dispelled as quickly as Fulham’s Premier league survival hopes. The faith shown by those that stuck by Thomas and the team rewarded in the most incredible style at Wembley in May. The moment still feels as fresh now as it did then. It was a long time coming and still deserves to be enjoyed to the max. A moment to provide all the inspiration we need going forward.

With the Bees back in training already you can be sure Thomas will have us set to hit the ground running. The Euros have gone. The close-season (closed?) break now feels over. Sure, we‘ve a month to wait until the Premier League kicks off properly but now it feels as though the clock really is ticking. As though we are racing full tilt towards destiny. Now, the only things in the way of that season opens with Arsenal are Manchester United. Are West Ham. Are Valencia. 

My word, this is going to be fun…..

And as our regular final thought, the entire Last Word from 2019/20 aswell as all the programme articles (previously unpublished on line) and our season-finale guest columns from Natalie Sawyer and Kitman Bob remain available for download. The later in particular, my favourite column of the season as the inside story of the big build up to Wembley was revealed.

With all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund for CRY, we couldn’t be looking to try and help a better or more personal cause to Brentford FC. If anybody can spare a few quid to help and wants to get hold of an amazing story, told averagely, then they can do so here. THANK YOU

Until then, why not enjoy that Benrahma goal one more time…..

Nick Bruzon

Lloyd Owusu finally did it.

12 Jun

The Forss is strong. Urghh, had to go there. Having successfully navigated Star Wars day, the fourth of May (note: not a real day or joke) the defences were down. Yet with Euro 2020 finally upon us and the mood in Brentford still high (moreso with the confirmation from one source that Fulham DO have to return theirs – see yesterday’s column) today has an extra level of spice. An extra level of excitement. For the home nations, focus is likely to be on Wales but for me, Clive, the real highlight is Denmark v Finland at 5pm. With it already being well documented that the Bees have more players in the tournament than Premier League stablemates Arsenal, today is the big Lionel Road reunion. 

Halil Dervişoğlu has already kicked off the Brentford connection, making it on to the field of play in last night’s opener between Italy and Turkey. A booking and match rating of 3.93 out of 10 insufficient to help his nation’s cause as 0-0 at half-time turned to a 3-0 victory for the Azzurri.

Yet depending on who is selected, tonight could see three out of the twenty-two players coming from Lionel Road. Christian Nørgaard and Mathias Jensen for Denmark with Marcus Forss representing Finland. Its a long way from a Bus stop in Hounslow to Telia Parken in Copenhagen but they’ve done it. With Sweden up against Spain on Monday, it could be a five out of five for the Bees before the Premier League fixtures have even come out.

For those of us interested in these things, the bookies have Denmark as red hot favourites. 2/5 for the win. Marcus is a rather precise 51/10 to score at any time. Christian 37/4 whilst my online provider (used purely for research purposes) isn’t quoting a price on Mathias . The BBC report him fit so go figure that one. Perhaps the lack of goalscorer price is based on the assumption Denmark will be awarded a free kick. Insert wink emoji.

That said, if you are reading, Mathias (he isn’t) let’s not forget that imperious form in the play-offs. Very much a man at the top of his game and so calm in the pressure cooker environment of the second leg semi and the subsequent final at Wembley. Which we won. In case anybody had missed the score. 2-0. Against Swansea. Brentford are in the Premier League.

The highlight of yesterday’s actions being the incredulity poured on the radio controlled car used to ferry the ball form the touchline to centre circle prior to kick off. A superfluous gimmick designed for no other reason than presumably to save the referees wrists additional strain and promote a car manufacturer.  Harry loved it although he’s only just 8 years old. The again, kids love Jar Jar Binks and Paw Patrol so it’s not a great yard stick.

As Mollie Goodfellow wrote on Twitter, “Sources telling me if a player needs to be stretchered off they will simply be driven off by four remote control 4x4s carrying a stretcher.

Still, it doesn’t take to be overly serious. If anything, there’s the ongoing moment of anticipation for when the ball delivery system is sure to go wrong. Could the driver end up being breathalysed? Stick to the Budweiser to avoid any danger there.

Back home, the demolition of Griffin Park continues. Cycling home from the school run yesterday, I had to perform a cartoon style double take on Brook Road. There was the New Road stand to my left but something was missing. Next time… Fly KLM. Not any more 😦 

Delorean Gray on Twitter hit the nail on the head, noting: “Lloyd Owusu finally did it.

Thankfully, there’s plenty to keep us distracted from what still remains a sensitive topic for many. The years spent at Griffin Park are packed full of memories  – good and bad. So many of us grew up there and it IS hard seeing it go. On a personal note, I’m thrilled the ongoing delays meant our Harry had a chance to experience how incredible a place it was. That he has invested in football so heavily is quite wonderful (right now we’re having to watch a rerun of Italy – Turkey). Equally though, and it was Mark Burridge who got it bang on the other week, that Bournemouth game was the moment Lionel Road became home. 

We’ve moved on. Griffin Park has a huge place in my heart but the future lies elsewhere. We’ve players at the Euros and we’re Premier League. The only was is up…

Nick Bruzon  

We’re third, everyone. But do Fulham have to sell theirs back…?

11 Jun

The Premier League is coming. This time next week we’ll have programmed 19 trips from Brentford into the satnav. Places as far flung as Burnley and Liverpool. Manchester and Leeds. Not Fulham, though. They’re down (and Bees up). This time next month we’ll have reprogrammed most of those trips as we find out that 3pm Saturday kick offs are an aspiration rather than a lifestyle choice. I can’t wait. Euro 2020 is upon us and it has barely registered. Instead, it still seems to be nothing but Brentford in our house. Billy and The Beesotted crew organising Wednesday night’s live podcast from the pub with none other than Phil and Rasmus. Then, Cliff Crown popped up on Twitter to share something very special. It was also confirmed we’ve said a fond farewell to three of our Wembley winners as contracts are set to expire. But first, the forthcoming Premier League season.

Wednesday night – We’re fly-ing without wings……

Who are you looking forward to seeing the most? Home or away? A tweet from the Prem’s official feed got the juices flowing once more yesterday. ‘Refreshed and ready for 2021/22’ it said. There was the league table. Gone were Sheff United, West Brom and Fulham. On their place, the Bees, Watford and Norwich City. Even better though, Brentford are already in the Champion’s League spots. We’re third, everyone…. 😉 Just 38 games to go to hold that spot.

Of all the illustrious opponents we’re due to face, everyone has one they are looking forward to the most. Some are obvious. Others less so. For me, there’s not one game with out an extra angle. An additional layer of intrigue…

Arsenal – a bit of league cup payback would be nice. A chance to see our regular starting XI from the off rather than the bench. Oh, and they have a certain David Luiz in their squad. WE haven’t forgotten ‘that’ elbow.

Aston Villa – do we need to spell it out? Dean Smith. Ezri Konsa. England international Ollie Watkins. I’d absolutely LOVE to pick up three points, even if only to hear which team actually ‘deserved to win’.

Brighton – Neal Maupay. The undisputed king of shithousery. ANY excuse to see him in action. Even if it will feel a bit weird seeing him against us. Pantomime villainy awaits.

Burnley – number 26. We took the longer route around but both of us are now in the Premier League. Villainy awaits.

Chelsea – Champions of Europe. The West London derby – sorry, Fulham (I’m not of course). Some FA Cup payback and the thought of ‘that’ elbow already add recent colour to this game.

Crystal Palace – One of several London derbies. A new ground for us. The Ron Noades (RIP) derby

Everton – who could forget Richard Lee’s heroics? TC, where are you going to be?

Leeds United – teams like Brentford shouldn’t be in the Premier League. Pontus. Maupay. My cousin’s husband. This one is pretty much top of my list.

Hi, Julian….

Leicester City – the former champions. We’ve played them twice in the FA Cup. Ryan Murrant. Oh, Ryan Murrant……

Liverpool – a chance to crack open the bingo cards and show Jurgen Klopp what he missed out on when opting for Anfield over Griffin Park…

Manchester City – the league champions. Not to mention a certain FA Cup tie. Still, up there in my favourite Brentford moments.

The quintessential Brentford FA Cup image

Manchester United – seeing the Bees walk out at Old Trafford is going to be weird. In the nicest sense.

Newcastle United – simply put, one of the best away days in the calendar.

Norwich City – Delia Smith. Carrow Road. A club with a special place in my heart after they were so generous to us when H was mascot.

Carrow Road – October 2018

Southampton another new away day for us. At least, in this league. (err…. Definitely didn’t forget about League One).

Spursa chance to see if, this season, VAR works in our favour.

Now it will be in the league

Watford – Indestructible at the back end of last season. Will be very interesting to see how we both step up this time around.

West Ham – Benrahma. Oh, Benrahma. I’m sure there may be a few half and half scarves out, too.

Wolves – we went toe to toe in those League One and early Championship seasons. They’ve now gone up a notch but I cannot wait to cross swords once more.

It’s going to be amazing. All of it. Then up popped Chairman Cliff Crown on Twitter last night with, in his words. ‘This beauty’ . And he’s right. It is beautiful. We are official.

We are official

There were several obvious questions coming off the back of it.

Did he actually have to handover £1 in exchange? Coin or PayPal?

Was it signed with a half-chewed BIC ? One can only hope the Pontus Jansson ceremonial biro has been retained for posterity.

Did Fulham have to sell their share back?

Best. Pen. Ever. We ARE Premier League !!

Whatever the answer, nobody can deny that we ARE Premier League. We may be a bus stop in Hounslow but we are as deserving of our place as our 19 divisional stable mates.

On slightly sadder, albeit totally expected, news was the official cofirmation that Henrik, Emiliano and Luke Daniels will be leaving us. Their contracts expire this month and so we say adieu. Henrik in particular had already seen the news leaked by Midtjyland (the owner really needs to have a word) earlier in the week but all three will be missed. If nothing else, Emiliano has ‘that’ goal that will be forever in our hearts…

One thing I hope doesn’t change with top flight status is the interaction between club and supporters. This has been well, well documented over the years and nowhere more was it seen than just this week when Dave, Billy Grant, not Reeves) and the Beesotted crew organised their live podcast from the pub.

Surprise special guests were none other than our Directors of Football – Rasmus Ankersen and Phil Giles. As Billy said afterwards, How many clubs – never mind PremierLeague clubs – will you have the Directors of Football come down the pub for over 3 hours & chat & joke w fans & be completely honest?
BrentfordFC of course

Indeed it was completely honest and anything goes. Even when the camera stoped rolling. Part one is now up and you’ll find it on Twitter and the Beesotted ‘Pride of West London’ podcast page.

Or, just click below

On personal note, it was great to get out and about with my fellow Bees once more. Wembley was indescribable. Bournemouth incredible. Yet they were both ‘match situations’. To sit back and discuss it all, now the news has really sunk in, was equally special.

That’s the club we have though. Please, never let it change.

Never change

Nick Bruzon

Bees keeper puts in killer performance as strikers blitz Boro’.

7 Feb

Where to even begin ? How about in my bed? Don’t turn away – it’s not like that. Genuinely, I woke in the middle of the night from a terrible dream. Fate had conspired to see us in the play-off final once more. We were playing Fulham once more. For reasons unknown our opponents had rocked up wearing Sumo suits so we couldn’t get near them. Keith Stroud choosing to ignore this flagrant breach of the rules. Despite the score being 2-2 with half an hour left, they then started scoring goals. 3-2. 4-2. Ten minutes to go, somebody changed channels and I woke with a jolt. I never found out if we won or otherwise. Whether the team was broken up after a second successive defeat at the W place. Yet what I will take from it was that it was horribly vivid. Felt devastatingly real. A combination of last season and that game at the Millennium rolled in to one. Thankfully, it was nothing more than nonsense. The yin to a quite incredible yang of our 4-1 win at Middlesbrough. Three points which see us leapfrog Swansea City and offered the opportunity of topping the table. Victory against Reading on Wednesday night, our game in hand, will see us overtake Norwich City at the summit. Cripes, this is getting exciting. 

It certainly was

Yet if anything, that dream has reminded me that settling for the play-offs is not an option this time around. I can’t go through that again and, the way this team are playing, I don’t think we’ll need to. That’s now 20 games unbeaten and one of the biggest potato skins on the calendar, Middlesbrough away, has been negotiated. Not only negotiated but sliced into the air and volleyed into the recycling bin. Brentford were immense. Magnificent. About as devastating as we get. Quite honestly, it could have been brackets. 4-1 doesn’t begin to even tell half the story of a game that was about as poles apart form that awful 0-0 at Lionel Road as it is possible to be.

If nothing else, how often do you see a 2 goal striker (Ivan Toney with another brace) in a scoreline of this magnitude miss out on Man Of The Match to the winning team’s goalkeeper. A goalkeeper who, move along nothing to see here, made a rare slip to gift our hosts a third minute own goal? It could have been curtains for Brentford yet just like the game with Bristol City during the week, it only served to inspire us. What came next was about as brilliant as it has been all campaign. 

Brentford pushed up. As did Middlesbrough, to be fair. Both teams going for broke and David Raya, having got whatever it was out of his system, playing just about the best game we’ve seen him have for The Bees. Brilliance and bravery in equal measure. Bolasie amongst those thwarted before Ivan Toney eventually levelled things up on 38. The goal had been coming and Tariqe Fosu was in no way offside – it was marginal, ok – as he took the ball from Ivan, cut down the flank and returned it into the box for the simplest of tap ins. Simple , of course, if you are on this sort of form. 

1-1 and Brentford on top. Another goal was imminent although it was Middlesbrough who should have had it. A point blank double save by Raya from Britt Assombalonga and then George Saville underlining the sort of game our number 1 was having. The net should have been rippling. Neil Warnock should have been hugging his assistant in delight. Thankfully for all of us, not least the assistant, we were spared that sight by the sheer, unadulterated brilliance from the Bees’ ‘keeper. He had no right to get even half-way close yet pulled it off. The goal intact, unlike his own more delicate parts. A very painful looking boot to the groin area the price to pay for keeping us alive. Ouch!!!

“PS: that hurt” – not my words but those of David Raya when he published this photo

Half-time couldn’t come quick enough. A chance to regroup. To dry off from the biblical downpour. To massage the more tender spots. To decide which way we would approach the second half. At full pelt was the answer. Just as we’d done against Wycombe and Bristol City, it was back out and fly at the opposition. With Raya pulling off his one man heroics whenever they had a sniff it gave us that belief to keep going for it. And what a way to do so.

Vitaly Janelt made it 2-1 on 58. A shot from the edge of the box so telegraphed that we were already shouting ‘Gooooallll’ before it even reached him. Ivan Toney teeing it up so beautifully that it looked like something out of a video game. The finish was equal to it. Hard and true to the bottom corner. My word. What a strike. What goal. What a team. He buried it with all the finesse of an undertaker. Bettinelli in nets left for dead. 

2-1 became 3-1 minutes later. This time it was Matthias Jensen who capitalised on a slip and raced clear from half-way. Brentford were 3 on 1 yet, if anything, he had too much time. What to do? Pass or continue? Shoot or round the keeper? He went with the later and despite defenders rushing back, there was no mistake made. It was cool as you like and one of the hardest of chances to take. I really thought he was going to Clayton it. Much as we absolutely loved Donaldson in our house, and still do, he would sometimes overthink the moment when clean through the middle and bearing down on the goalkeeper. Yet here was no faltering. No hesitation. No doubt. If there had been any nerves then they weren’t showing. Surely things were now safe?

Perhaps, but it didn’t stop Brentford from carrying on. Rico Henry saw a shot on goal tipped onto the woodwork by Bettinelli but the ball only found its way as far as Ivan Toney. On this form, there’s only one place its going to end up and that’s in the back of the net. Boom 4-1. Game over, man. Game over. Except even then, he could have had the hat-trick as he steered another just wide. Jensen could have grabbed a second as a shot from distance hit the post and went the wrong side. It was that strong an attacking performance although one matched by our hosts. They never stopped either and on another day, with a different keeper in the way, could well have got three or four themselves.

Smiling assassin Chuba Akpom coming close as did George Saville on a number of occasions. The later in particular crudely exposing himself as somebody who hasn’t been able to progress since his time at Griffin Park and, perhaps, going for the snatched attempt rather than the more patient approach when opportunity presented itself. The again, on this form I think that David Raya would have stopped a juggernaut. 

I’m not sure what else to say about this one, really. The excitement from the players on social media said it all. The genuine pleasure from Thomas Frank, who’d got so wet in the conditions he had to change jackets at half time, a joy to behold in his post match interview.

Twenty games unbeaten in the league a quite incredible run of form and one which only sees our team looking stronger and stronger. Nine points and 14 (seven times 2) goals from our last three games are quite amazing statistics for any team at any level. Norwich City surely looking over their shoulders now. Swansea City the third team in this two way tussle. Yet unlike last season, when our run was just a tad too late in the end, this time around we are moving early. We are destroying all in our path. We’re loving out football. Oh, I can’t wait for Reading on Wednesday. It won’t be easy and we shouldn’t be over confident. Very much a case of ‘each game as it comes’.

Equally though, let’s not deny ourselves the opportunity to enjoy watching this team at their best. To celebrate Brentford at their finest. Saturday at Middlesbrough was all about that. The play-off nightmare long since dissipated into the ether. Carry on like this and we won’t be having it again.

Whose coat was Thomas wearing…….?

Nick Bruzon

Maupay does it again. What a way to celebrate. Again.

17 Jan

Life isn’t great at the moment. Not compared to normal. The relentless grind of Lockdown and ‘that’ virus. Games played out in empty stadia. Brentford not even able to take the field at the moment due to our own training ground being closed – albeit results have gone largely in our favour whilst we’ve been away – thanks, Luton.) Yet sitting at home yesterday afternoon there was a moment to put a smile on the face once more. Delivered in the game between Leeds United and Brighton c/o that king of shithousery, Neal Maupay. A cult hero at Griffin Park to rank alongside the best of them. 

We all loved Neal. No question. That goal and celebration at Fulham. The absolute dirt that went alongside his game. Cheeky digs. Sly tugs. A side to a Brentford player we’d not seen in a long, long time. Somebody you wouldn’t want to get close to, yet had that wonderful combination of mercurial talent combined with unpredictable volatilty. Err, what Aston Villa game? He was, rightly, lauded at Griffin Park. We’d have loved him to stay but we’ve all moved on. Our loss, Brighton’s gain. Had he stayed there’d have been no Ollie Watkins up front. Win-win.

The classic Neal image? Perhaps….

Yet, as we all know, his ultimate moment was up at Elland Road. Back in October 2018, with the scores locked at 0-0 in an early season Championship pacesetter, Ollie was brutally fouled (errr) by Leeds ‘keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Up stepped Neal to not only score from the spot but then celebrate in that quite wonderful style. Only he would have had the balls to take on the home contingent, arms aloft and fronting them out in the face of all manner of , understandable, abuse flying back. Cripes, had the boot been on the other foot we’d have been spewing. It was bad enough that the spot kick had been deemed questionable but this was then the ultimate indignity for the home support. A celebration to rank with the best of them and an iconic moment. 

It was a moment only bettered in the return fixture at Brentford when Neal scored again. Right in front of the away fans. He celebrated, again. Right in front of the away fans. Same pose, same stare, same abuse. Talk about king of wind up. The man has balls of steel. If anybody was looking to endear themselves to the home support then here it was. Griffin Park erupted. If it wasn’t possible to love him anymore, then here was the opportunity to do so. 

Then, Brighton came knocking and we went our separate ways. That’s football. Neal is still a fixture in my life – even if just through the medium of Fantasy Football. Then, yesterday, at Leeds United, it all came flooding back. He scored for Brighton. The Seagulls 1-0 up. The only thing missing being supporters to see the goal live. 

No matter. This is Maupay. This was Leeds. This is the man who lives for the moment. And sure enough, he did. He celebrated in the only way he knew how. Despite the fact there was nobody there to wind up. Oh, we all knew how much this meant. And it was brilliant. Never have I enjoyed a goal in a different division for a club I don’t even support so much. This one was all about the man, the moment and the place. What a way to liven up an otherwise desperate Saturday.

Thank you, Neal. Thank you for doing this.

Eyes down for a full house. Of sorts….

22 Dec

Here we go. Time for some festive cheer. A Christmas cracker etc etc etc. With London plunged in to Tier 4 and the next few weeks looking like the equivalent of being tied to a chair and force fed Mrs Brown’s Boys on repeat, could Brentford provide a much needed boost to morale? Tuesday evening sees our league cup quarter final with Newcastle United and I for one can’t wait. With doom and gloom all around us (but enough about Mrs Brown’s Boys) the chance of making the semis is a huge opportunity waiting to be taken. The chance to get closer to another appearance at the W place in North London. The chance to increase our lead over Fulham L of Premier league clubs beaten this season. The chance to actually qualify for Europe – via the medium of the Uefa Europa Conference League (UECL) place that goes to the winner. The chance to actually lift a trophy.

There are only eight teams left in this. The Bees and Stoke City sole representatives from outside the top flight. Flying the Championship flag but, equally, there in our own right. Tough opposition in Southampton, West Bromwich Albion and Wycombe Wanderers have already been despatched. And also Fulham L. Thomas Frank’s red and white army unstoppable. Now, 13 games unbeaten as the goals fly in. Ivan Toney doing his thing. Vitaly Janelt our latest unsung hero. Sergi Canos back to his best. Bryan Mbeumo lashing in two top, top goals during the weekend’s destruction of Reading. Rico Henry, surely knocking on the England manager’s door from his left-back berth. The rest of the defence being picked with all the consistency of car keys being plucked from a bowl yet whomever gets selected, locking out those coming at us. 

Bryan did his thing in some style on Saturday

Expect more changes tonight. Ethan Pinnock has served Mads Bech Sorensen’s suspension for the red card at Watford (hmmm) and will surely be catapaulted straight back in to the team. Likewise, Christian Norgaard is fit once more. Could he and Vitaly start alongside each other? Will it be a straight swap? Or is the bench the best he can hope for at present? 

Up top, with coverage beginning at 5.00pm you can set your Sky bingo cards to 5.01pm for mention of ‘Ivan Toney proving a point against former club Newcastle United’. Personally speaking, one can only imagine his primary goals being to see Brentford make it through whilst adding to his own tally for the season.Not sure I could sit through another of his penalty kicks, though. The technique incredible although one that gives me kittens in the run up. Doing it in normal time would be just fine, please.

Positivity is great but let’s not forget who we’re up against. Newcastle United (are they still everyone’s ‘favourite second team’?  – thanks, Sky) remain a top flight club and pushing to win a first trophy since 1969. With the 5-2 tonking handed out by Leeds United still fresh in the mind and then, even worse, failing to beat Fulham L, Steve Bruce will be desperate to inject his own brand of good cheer into the North-East. He’ll have to do it without Allan Saint-Maximin and captain Jamaal Lascelles, both of whom are suffering from the fallout out of Corona Virus. Urghh, there we go. The C word. Just add  – Brentford’s longest run in the competition for a ‘full house’.

The one could go either way. For me, Clive, there’s no sense in trying to predict it. It’s hard enough knowing who is even going to start let alone who will emerge on top. Instead, let’s sit back with some snacks, with a beer and watch the action unfold. The kick off is at 5.30pm and its live on Sky. Grab your bingo card and let’s do this…..

Nick Bruzon 

More chance of getting ‘that’ unicorn tattooed on my butt than this happening.

10 Nov

International ‘break’ is on us. Good news. The players and the lazy bloggers amongst us finally get a rest. Assuming they aren’t picked to represent their country (the players). Brentford updates are a little thin on the ground at present and, whilst we normally take this time to catch breath, the latest ‘loan round up’ had news from the West Ham – FulhamL game. And, perhaps, a missed opportunity? On the International front there may also be some unexpected respite for our own tired legs, with Denmark now subject to travel restrictions. 

First, loan round up. Yes, we’re still going through the motions and reporting on Said Benrahma. Come on official, whilst technically he’s on loan we know its over. Let’s stop this charade. There’s more chance of me getting a tattoo of Marinus and the unicorn on my butt than there is of him coming back to Lionel Road at the end of the season. He’s at West Ham now and so good luck to him. And them. Enjoy.

He’s not coming back, sorry

That said, having gone down the road of including Said in the loan piece (which you can read here in full) then it’s only fair that we all reflect on the circumstances of that one. ‘Official’ noting how Benrahma, “Set up Tomáš Souček for The Hammers’ injury-time opener before then giving away a 97th minute penalty for a foul on Tom Cairney; Ademola Lookman chipping the resulting effort straight into the arms of Łukasz Fabiański”.

Chipping the resulting effort? Talk about underselling it. That’s like saying Donald Trump seems mildly perturbed by the U.S. election result. The FulhamL player is widely acknowledged to have taken one of the worst penalties of all time.

I suppose, to be fair, we should be thankful that Brentford haven’t gone down the ‘Obama meme-wars’ route of a few years back with the Craven Cottage club. Instead, diplomacy was the true champion….this time around.

Putting that all to one side doesn’t mean we can’t opine though. Or, more importantly, watch it again. And again. Just because.

Over on Social Media, Lookman spoke up on the matter. He posted a tweet explaining, “After yesterdays mistake, I take full responsibility and onus for it. To my teammates, manager and the supporters I vow to put the next one in. I will not let one failure hold me back. @FulhamFC.

As Adam Devlin, cutting to the chase as ever, noted on Twitter : ”This is a new one — the apology without apologising apology”.

And I can’t top that. So we’ll move on to Denmark. Fast. With the Danes due to play Iceland this week, and the current 14 day quarantine period on individuals returning now in place, the squad has been updated. Neither Henrik Dalsgaard or Mathias Jensen will now feature on Wednesday. Likewise Mads Bech Sørensen for the U-21s. What this means for the rest of their games remains to be seen but you can read the latest, here.

Obviously it’s a huge shame for the players but in the longer term, could Brentford be the beneficiaries? Let’s look at whatever positives can be taken from this situation – not many, granted. Yet with the injuries and the games coming thick and fast, could this be a rare silver lining in the longer term storm that is the never-ending Covid situation? 

I’ll take what I can get. Football sucks as it is at present. Certainly compared to normal. Losing more players to injury or exhaustion would only be another kick in the butt. Tattoo free, of course.

Nick Bruzon

Football fraud or the right result?

8 Nov

WE WON THIS GAME, BY A LOT!… THE FANS WERE NOT ALLOWED INTO THE STADIUM. WE WON THE GAME, GOT 71,000,000 GOALS. BAD THINGS HAPPENED WHICH OUR FANS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SEE. NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. MILLIONS OF THANK YOU LETTERS WERE SENT TO PEOPLE WHO NEVER ASKED FOR THEM! Hmmm. Not even Donald Trump himself would be able to try and convince you that the 0-0 snoozefest between Brentford and Middlesbrough was anything but a gift from the gods for the insomniacs amongst us. Whilst there was some consolation to be taken from the hilarious proceedings at West Ham later in the evening (where FulhamL have done it again) let’s not pretend the game at Lionel Road wasn’t horrific. Football fraud of the highest order.

Official update us as FT. Was this the score or shots on target?

Let’s try to look positive. Brentford didn’t lose. We’re unbeaten in four games now. Mads Bech Sorensen impressed again as did Ethan Pinnock alongside him. The Bees are only five points off second place and we now get a well earned rest. Thank heavens Rico Henry and Ethan Pinnock have avoided international call ups. 

Likewise, Middlesbrough are no mugs. With the Jonathan Woodgate experiment consigned to the annals of history, Neil Warnock is doing what he does. Sucking any glamour out of his football and, instead, replacing it with a steely resolve. An indefatigability from his squad combined with a simple inability to breakdown the most solid of midfields. With Matthias Jenssen shackled all afternoon and Vitaly Janelt sitting in the holding role, we were unable to make any intent as the midfield was swamped in our visitors favour.   

Ironically, despite the presence of the Championship’s leading scorer in Ivan Toney it was Janelt himself who had the one golden chance of the game. With Brentford starting the second half in a more attacking frame of mind, he connected with a low Dalsgaard cross just yards out. Surely this was it? The sort of opportunity even Ian Moose might have claimed he could have tucked away as easily as he would a pie at a half-time buffet. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Instead of guiding it home the shot was slashed at and spooned wide. Urghh. 

It was that close. At least I think that’s what they’re saying

It happens. No slating of the player from me for a solitary near miss. Middlesbrough came to do a job and boy did they do it. They got their point and stay above us. Frankly, we didn’t have the nous or the tactical wherewithal to get past our opponents. Kudos to them for also going unbeaten and their own start to the season. Say what you want about it but they’re a hell of a lot more effective than last time out. The sort of Boro’ side that have long held the jinx factor over us in the Championship. I suppose we should be grateful we didn’t lose! 

Look. It’s one more game. The unbeaten streak is coming together. We’re well, well in contention and have a run of games coming up against lower placed teams. Wycombe, Barnsley, Quarter Pound of Rubbish and then Rotherham United. Those of you getting stressed that we aren’t winning the league with 33 points come back after those. Look at early pace setters Reading whose record now reads LLL. Look at Wayne Rooney’s Derby County – languishing at the very bottom of the Championship after Sheffield Wednesday saw their 12 point deduction reduced to 6.

The Championship is an absolute marathon rather than a sprint. The table may have ‘taken shape’ but it is still tighter than Trump’s claims of voter fraud. I’d love to have a few more wins under the belt but I still think we’re heading in the right direction.

The key decision remains one of replacing Said Benrahma on the opposite flank to Bryan Mbeumo. It is, to date, something we’re yet to do convincingly. Then again, how do you replace the irreplaceable? For all those laying in to the players that Thomas has tried, let’s not forget the boots that need to be filled. That once in a lifetime talent – when he could be bothered, of course. Let’s not pretend either that our own miracle man had a tendency to go awol at times.

It was Boys Own stuff at times

We’ll get there. International break has come at the perfect time to allow for a recharge. Whilst a staunch traditionalist when it comes to footballing matters, even I’d agree that perhaps for this season the extended substitutes bench is really needed once more. There are just too many games and too many injuries. A temporary return from three to five substitutes one which may well benefit everybody in the longer term. Until that happens, expect tired legs to be running around for another 90 minutes as we saw yesterday.

And finally, whilst the Benrahma / West Ham story is now done and dusted one couldn’t help but notice how he and the Hammers got on yesterday. As much due to their opposition – FulhamL.  Sure enough, another game saw another defeat for the Cottagers. That’s now 6 out of 8. The latest coming at the Olympic Stadium last night where the home side took an injury time lead c/o a Benrahma assist. Hmm – let’s see if that one makes official’s ‘Loan round up’ . Yet Scott Parker’s boys had an even later chance to level things up when awarded a spot kick. That is, until this happened. Quite possibly the worst penalty of all time. Enjoy….

Nick Bruzon

It was Boy’s Own stuff on Thursday but who starts now ?

3 Oct

The League Cup has been and gone. Brentford are through and that’s fantastic but that’s also as far as it goes. For now. Thoughts of a Christmas quarter-final with Newcastle United can wait for another month or so. Instead, the focus is back on the Championship and Sunday afternoon’s visit from Preston North End. With the mood at Lionel Road one of optimism – as much due to the performance of Said Benrahma as off-field updates that came in a new signing and the David Raya to Arsenal story finally being put to bed – the big question being who starts? And up at Aston Villa, the love story between Dean Smith and  Jota has come to an end.

First though, Brentford. Cripes. Who’d be a head coach? What lovely problems for Thomas Frank to have. What decisions to make. Everyone’s a manager and will have different options as to the team. Sergi Canos has been wonderful but Said Benrahma sent a reminder about what he can do in the most jaw-dropping style.

‘That’ goal against Fulham, with Michael Hector humiliated by the backwards nutmeg, before the Algerian lashed it low and hard into the bottom corner from distance was pure Boys Own stuff. A more incredible return than the second coming of Jota.

Benrahma’s skils – an obscene publication?

Then there’s Mbeumo and Ghoddos. The waiting for Saman was rewarded as he provided the perfect tee up for Marcus Forss to open the scoring on Thursday.  Bryan is immense though. We all know his pace down the flanks and prowess in front of goal. Could Emiliano be sweating tonight as we at least try to fit three of the four into the starting XI? That’s before you even consider Toney v Forss. The big money replacement for Ollie Watkins or the young pretender with the thunderbolts in his boots and the habit of scoring whenever he takes the field?

Dominic Thompson had a great game whilst in goal, David Raya has shown just why Arsenal were so heavily linked. Those rumours should now be dispelled for a while after it was confirmed our number one had signed a four year contract extension on Friday. Pity Luke Daniels who has done a fine job deputising in the league for a man who has pulled off some world class saves during the Cup run. A man who, don’t forget, is the current holder of the Championship golden gloves.

Luke, of all, has most to lose should Thomas twist rather than stick when it comes to selection for Preston. Having waited his turn, it has finally come. Drop him back to the bench and you may aswell start looking to the B team for our reserve ‘keeper. That is, assuming Luke wants first team football. He’s more than good enough for it at this level, that’s for sure. I don’t envy Thomas that choice or that conversation – with either ‘keeper.

For me, Clive, assuming there are no injury doubts I think he’ll go :

Raya, Henry, Dalsgaard, Pinnock, Jansson, Norgaard, Dasilva, Marcondes, Benrahma, Mbeumo, Toney.

It’s going to be harsh on anybody who misses out after Thursday but with international break approaching, this is the time to go for it. Personally speaking, I’d love to see Marcus Forss start but if nothing else the bench should be tastier than a slice of sour-dough toast smeared in marmite i.e very.

Elsewhere, there’s been more transfer news. The bees have signed German Under-21 Vitaly Janelt from VfL Bochum. There was no pretence about the  midfielder’s skillset from Thomas, describing him as “Dynamic in his play and strong in the middle when it comes to duels. Most importantly, he has the aggressiveness and intensity in the high press that we want to have”.

Another classic set of signing photos suggesting we’ve picked up a player who would fit in as well as alongside a Jonathan Douglas or Christian Norgaard as he would in a cold war era spy thriller. Think the Man From Uncle or anything from the second best Bond, Connery.

All being well Vitaly is as stylish on field as he is off it

700 words in and no mention our opponents. Well, those early season results are tricky to get too much of a reading from. The Lilywhites have only managed a single point so far but that was up at Carrow Road – not a performance to be sniffed at. Are home defeats to Stoke and Swansea the sign of a team on the way out or simply one finding their feet in another bizarre season of behind-closed-doors football?  

We’ll find out on Sunday afternoon, that’s for sure. Season ticket holders should have been sent their I-follow codes by now. Don’t forget those all important tricks to ensure stress free sign on… Firstly, use Chrome. Not Safari. Surely something as simple as an internet browser thingy shouldn’t make such a significant difference but, as we now know, it does. Secondly, even though the codes allow you to watch for free, credit cards details are still required. Presumably supporters wanting to watch the Huddersfield game the other week will have now bypassed that pitfall but for anybody just coming in from work, please be aware.

And talking of watching football over the internet… Rasmus, bring forth the crowbar. The latest edition of ‘The Warm Up’ has now gone live on YouTube. Marcus and Stu are again joined by Karleigh Osborne for a look back at Fulham and Millwall along with a couple of very special challenges. Even  Harlee Dean, sorry Crash Bandicoot, puts in an appearance in the ‘nutmeg’ challenge. There’s another competition and the results of last week’s. Plus a forfeit that must now be paid. And how……

Finally, Jota. I make no secret of the fact he has been my favourite Brentford player in years. As much for the hair. The excitement of Benrahma, the last minute goals, the leaving opponents for dead (poor Jake Bidwell) and the return from loan after his love-letter to the fans. It all ended on somewhat of a disappointing note with the triple transfer swoop by ten times better Birmingham City before the King finally found his place in the top flight with Aston Villa. 

Sadly though, it wasn’t to be. After just 16 appearances his contract has been cancelled a year early by mutual consent. He is a free agent and surely Spain beckons? I mean, there’s no way he’ll come back here a third time. Is there…?

I’ll never forget all those good times and wonderful moments. Hail to the King. Wherever he goes.

Oh Jota…. Any excuse

Nick Bruzon