Tag Archives: Fulham

Old man shouts at the wind as Gameweek five approaches.

30 Aug

Next up for Brentford, Crystal Palace. Two teams who received another reminder (would that one were needed) at the weekend, that it is goals rather than justice which wins football matches. For The Bees, a 1-1 draw at home to Everton was a game where despite a full on assault on the visitors’ goal (and woodwork) it took until the 85ths minute for Vitaly Janelt’s equaliser. Palace meanwhile stormed into a 2-0 lead up at City that, arguably, could well have seen the add a third to that tally but for the officials. Sadly for them, they were up against a team boasting Erling Haaland. His second half hat-trick, tucked away in under twenty minutes, saw Pep Guardiola’s team run out 4-2 victors. Elsewhere, Richard Keys has crawled back out from under his rock to remind the world what a twat he is. When Fulham have the moral high ground, this following his comments about table topping Arsenal, then you know not all is right with the world.

We can only start with the game at Selhurst Park this evening. For Brentford it is a chance to pick up where we left off against Everton. There are no easy matches in the Premier League, regardless of how they may look on paper or in a Qatari TV studio. The Toffees set up their stall to play in a certain way and despite our very best efforts, finding a way through was a mostly futile task. Credit, such as it is, to Everton. They had a gameplan, stuck to it and almost pulled off what would have been a morale-boosting win. Instead they found themselves pegged back to record a second point of the season. The Bees came close but, in the end, it wasn’t sufficient to take the win. On another day perhaps we might have. Instead, the two teams gave supporters the consummate lesson in taking chances when they present themselves.

No complaints.

Brentford came close but couldn’t capitalise on chances created

As for Crystal Palace, one has to feel for them. Whereas The Bees went to the Ethiad last season and tried to do what Everton did to us on Saturday, Palace took the opposite tack and went for it from the off. Watching back, it was as exciting a start to a game as one could expect. Even if the ending had a familiar inevitability about it. In Erling Haaland, Manchester City have only made themselves even stronger. You can’t put a price on such a potent finisher with the golden boot already looking as though it will have a new home. Six goals in his first four games is a blistering pace to set. Good luck to Nottingham Forest tomorrow night. 

Still, that’s a problem we won’t have to worry about for al little while. Instead all the focus is on Selhurst Park. Vitaly Janelt and Keane Lewis-Potter both impressed from the bench against Everton. Much as they did the week previous at Fulham. Whilst both combined for the equaliser it was as much the energy and renewed vigour they brought to the finishing XI.

One can only assume they’ll both be in with a very realistic chance of starting this evening. Yoanne Wissa was very much off his game whilst, and this may be blasphemous, I thought Josh Dasilva struggled. He’s an absolute player and a half but Saturday just didn’t feel like his day. Perhaps a change around is coming. Pontus remains touch and go at the back having missed out at the weekend whilst we already know Mikkel Damsgaard isn’t ready for a start. Yet.

Last season’s 0-0 was deemed a hard fought point at the time for newly promoted Brentford. An impressive start continuing after ‘that’ table topping 2-0 defeat of Arsenal. This time around, I don’t expect the challenge to be any easier. Patrick Viera has seen his team face the toughest of openings with defeat to the Gunners part of a run that also included  Liverpool away (1-1). Aston Villa were swept aside 3-1 with the impressive Wilfried Zaha grabbing a brace (albeit missing a penalty before putting away the rebound) aswell as Eberechi Eze and Jean-Philippe also grabbing the plaudits. 

Last season’s 0-0 at the Palace was hard fought

Injury news suggests Zaha may well be a doubt for this evening. Here’s hoping, given his prolific scoring rate. He’s bagged five of their last six league goals at Selhurst Park aswell as finding the net in all four of 2022’s home wins. Keeping him quiet (preferably absent) and nullifying the impressive Eze would seem to be key the strategy should Brentford have any aspirations of adding to our points total.  It is another ‘way’ sell out despite being available on a variety of other sources. Primarily BT Sports – a place where, thankfully, anybody unable to make it will at least be spared Richard Keys.

The former Sky Sports dinosaur is now working for (checks internet) beIN Sports of Qatar where, at least he is consistent with how out of touch he remains about the modern game. His weekend rant about Arsenal, having just recorded their fourth win on the bounce to make it 12 Premier League points out of 12 and top the table, even included the line about their coaching staff ‘celebrating like they’ve won the FA Cup’. Now where have we heard that before? The reason for his ire – the opposition. A proper ’teams like’ diatribe about Fulham. 

Been there. Done that

Granted, I’ve no time for their sponge cakes, gin bars, clacker banging, foam-finger waving, Michael Jackson loving atmosphere but, you know, each to their own. On pitch, there’s nobody in the top flight that is just going to roll over and die every week. Nobody incapable of giving anyone else a real test. This isn’t a division where Derby County’s mergre 11 points and goal difference of -69 from 2007-08 is under any threat.

It is a league where anybody is able to beat anybody on their day. Just ask Manchester United. So to bang on about Arsenal over-celebrating a win that maintained their 100% start to the season was as insulting to them as it was to their opponents. And that’s a tough thing to have to write.  Perhaps somebody better get down there and explain offside to him.

Maybe it was nothing more than desperate attention seeking. An attempt to sound relevant having been absent from the public eye for so long. Nothing more than an old man shouting at the wind. It’s a shame his patter wasn’t as smooth as his hands and instead he remains as out dated as ever. Still, that’s his problem.

Instead, for us it is all about Brentford and Crystal Palace. On whether Thomas will stick or twist with his staring XI? On another day, we may well have had a hat full against Everton. You can read the full post-match debrief here, btw. The important thing now is how we kick on and I can’t wait to find out….

Nick Bruzon  

Will it be more of the same on Saturday?

26 Aug

Saturday afternoon’s visit from Everton approaches at speed. Thank goodness. It only seems like five minutes ago Brentford were edged out at Fulham by the host’s late, late winner. It was a game that swung back and forth more often than the Drayton Manor Pirate Ship ride but, in the end, The Bees ended up victims to our own slow start. That was then. This is now. In between we’ve progressed to the third round of the League Cup at Colchester United and have been rewarded with the tantalising prospect of a visit from Gillingham. A tie that offers up a chance of progression / potato skin (delete as a you see fit), a further opportunity to stretch the squad and an extra bit of work for the team behind the Matchday programme. Enjoy. For now, though, it’s all about the battle between the former Burnley centre backs.  

The other way, Mads…. Move along. Nothing to see here in the FA Cup

Last season saw The Bees loving Premier League life with The Toffees beaten twice (we won’t talk about the FA Cup debacle). 1-0 at home and then 3-2 at Goodison Park. The first game was as turgid as the reverse fixture exciting. Richarlison doing what he does. Likewise Rico Henry. Amongst others. Everton ending it with 9 men and still deep in the relegation mire with only two games to go. In the end, they survived  – despite being humped 5-1 at Arsenal in the final game. Midweek victory over Crystal Palace, combined with Burnley tripping up and our own huge, huge disappointment in letting Leeds United off the hook mean we get the chance to do it all again.

With the season three games old, it would be fair to say Brentford and Everton have had contrasting starts. The Bees squad has only got stronger with Aaron Hickey and Ben Mee settling straight in. Keane Lewis-Potter impressed at Fulham and Colchester although is an injury doubt. Then there’s Mikkel Damsgaard who made a first start in the same game and could well now make an appearance at Lionel Road. 

For Everton, the sale of Richarlison must have been the most inevitable but gut-wrenching moment of the summer. Ben Godfrey then suffered serious injury in the opening day to defeat to Chelsea whilst the same club are now though to be in the box seat to sign Anthony Gordon ahead of Thursday evening’s transfer window slamming shut(tm).

On pitch, Brentford have twice had the ‘game of two halves’ on the road. Going 2-0 down at Leicester City in the season opener would eventually end in us ‘only’ managing a 2-2 draw. It could have been all three points. The same happened at Fulham where despite their early brace, The Cottagers were eventually pegged back before Aleksander Mitrovic did that thing in the 90th. 

It was so good, for so long

In between, there was the game at home to Manchester United. There are no more words needed about what happened in that one. The net result (aside from our three points) being Monday evening’s TV game between United and Liverpool saw The Bees name checked virtually every minute. Woebtide anybody playing the ‘Brentford’ drinking game. Two fingers per mention? I’d have been under the table by the time Jason Sancho scored their first goal. Contrast that to the weekend prior when he’d been robbed by MOTM Mathias Jensen to set up that quite incredible fourth goal in the 34th minute.

Everton, meanwhile, lost the aforementioned visit from Chelsea and then achieved the same ‘nil points’ at Aston Villa. An 88th minute point was earned at home to Nottingham Forest last week but it is a campaign which would seem to have picked up where last season’s left off. Manager Frank Lampard, as well known for being the  former boss of Frank Lampard’s Derby County, must be wondering when his luck will change. 

Football is never that simple of course. Those thinking this is a case of ‘home banker’ need to look again. If nothing else, there’s that little bit of Brazilian magic lurking in the Everton squad that can be summed up in one word: Allan. They’ve also got another name we are all well, well familiar with. Number 26. The battle of the former Burnley centre backs will likely see him and Ben Mee share the same pitch for the first time since the Clarets played their part in keeping Everton up. Burnley’s relegation being to both our clubs’s benefit with out of contract players electing to stay in The Premier League. For now. 

Number 26

Which is what may well play to our advantage. Think Kurt Zouma when West Ham visited last season. Think Christian Eriksen for the Manchester United game. Harlee Dean with Birmingham City. His comments, of course, inspiring us to play ten times better. Certain players and situations engender certain responses. Let’s not even go down the Martin Rowlands wormhole.

I can only imagine the reception 26 will get every time he goes near the ball. The memory of his refusal to play against a Burnley team whom he would move to shortly after is one that lives on. Football fans are like elephants in that respect. Never forget. Moreso given the subsequent explanation – one to rank along side a dog eating the homework or Bristol City and the closed covid lab.

I’m sure the narrative will be that crowd reaction is part of the game. Players are well used to it and blank these things out. That we should be better than resorting to such an approach from the stands. Bollocks to all of it. He’s an opposition player and once that whistle goes, all bets are off. The crowd do what the crowd do. And they do it bloody well. Look at Zouma backing off (although that was also quite a large part Norgaard !!) . Look at Eriksen dithering in the first two goals (although  that was also quite a large pard David de Gea). Look at Harlee Dean – that one was all him as his team were blown apart.

That Kurt Zouma thing – my suggestion for programme cover was politely declined

So come Saturday afternoon, we’ll absolutely be playing for all three points and doing whatever we have to do. Brentford are a win off second place in the nascent table. The thought of getting back in to the Champions League places is a tantalising one. For that, I do feel for the Everton team and their fans  – of whom I know many. Some. Well two.

They generally seem like a decent bunch who love their club as passionately as we do ours. A club that, like ours, is made up with supporters from the heart of the community rather than the heart of a travel agency. Cripes, I still can’t get over how deadly, deadly dull the atmosphere at Anfield was last season.  See also: Old Trafford (limp protest) and Stamford Bridge (fire drill in a library). At least Goodison Park was rocking.

Everton fans – including DJ Andy Bush – are always top value

Still, that’s been and gone. For now there’s only one topic under discussion. Can Brentford beat Everton? Bring on Saturday afternoon when we find out. I can’t wait. See you there.

Until then, if you want to read more the post-match debrief and top five player review for the Fulham game can be found here. If nothing else, I could really do with the hits so please do take a look. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

Fulham v Brentford. Post match debrief and player ratings.

22 Aug

Fulham 3. Brentford 2. A game of two halves, five goals but no points. This time.

The Bees managed to get themselves level

As ever at this point we look to see who makes our top five, who gets the star man award and who could be in with a chance of starting against Everton.

And as ever, the answers are here…..

Fulham game sees the worst ending possible. After full time.

22 Aug

The morning after the weekend before. An intriguing two days of Premier League football where, of course, for Brentford the only result that really counted was the 3-2 reverse at Fulham. A scoreline that does little to tell the story of a game that went back and forth until, eventually, there was 90th minute heartbreak after the Bees had thrown a second-half kitchen sink at our hosts. It was a defeat where any feel good factor from last weekend’s demolition of Manchester United was gone in 44 seconds although one in which, eventually, the result really could have gone either way. Elsewhere, Everton warmed up for Saturday’s trip to Lionel Road with their first point on the board whilst the Priti Patel saga had further ‘light’ shed on it. You’ve been warned so please feel free to leave now if that upsets you.

However, the real subject for discussion this morning has to be the game at Fulham. By all rights, Brentford should have been dead in the water and out of sight within the opening quarter. 2-0 down after Joao Palhinha had doubled their lead with twenty minutes on the clock whilst between their opening pair, Aleksander Mitrovic had also seen one chalked off by VAR. Truly, it was a woeful start from The Bees. Think Southampton away or Everton (FA cup) levels of bad. We would also accept: Burnley (a) or Norwich (h).

Brentford reeling. The team that had blown Manchester United off the park just a week earlier now being outclassed and outpaced. No movement and second to everything. Fans still showing wonderful support but wondering where anything would come from. Fulham one goal away from properly putting it to bed. Except, of course, they didn’t. As we’ve all seen now, The Bees clung on until 44 minutes when Christian Norgaard leathered a corner kick from Mathias Jensen straight past Bernd Leno on the volley. Our first and only real moment of attacking intent leaving the Fulham ‘keeper for dead. 2-1 at half time and, suddenly, the scoreboard offered a glimmer of hope.

It was an opportunity seized with both hands. Ivan Toney a man possessed as he found the back of the net three times. One, fair enough offside. One, on 55 minutes, as close and dubious as they come. It took a good two minutes of VAR deliberation and set squares before his trailing leg was eventually adjudged to be interfering with play. As he turned away from the Fulham goal. They’re the rules but, as we’ve seen so many times, they don’t half kill the game. It was a beautiful finish and deserved more.

Had we equalised then, who knows what might have been? Brentford with their tails up and driving forwards. As it is, things were levelled on 70. Ivan Toney, again. This time the goal allowed to stand – moreso as there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. 2-0 down and looking dead in the water now back to 2-2 and only one team in the driving seat. Fulham woke up. David Raya in nets absolutely wonderful. Save followed save as the game swung back and forth. Toney denied a late penalty after Mr Bankes deemed he’d thrown himself to ground when clean through in the box and bearing down on goal. As he does. Apparently.

A game that swung back and forth

In the end though, it wasn’t to be. Mitrovic doing a Jota. 90 minutes on the clock and he out jumped Bryan Mbeumo (don’t, just don’t) to steer home a ball that could, probably should, have been well cleared prior. Brentford not quite able to see it through. Fulham with all the points. What is their to say?

No complaints from here. We’d shot ourselves in the foot early doors but at least had sufficient about ourselves to launch a quite wonderful fight back. A game is won over 90 minutes, not 20, and whilst we couldn’t quite do the business this time the opening three games have shown there is enough about this team to suggest the season will be an exciting one. 

The player review and deeper dive will are below.

For now, the other takeaways from the game perhaps revealing the real reason for defeat. A pre-match encounter with Harry Potter (Simon, not the boy wizard) brought about this shocking revelation that.. “I’m teetotal today.” 

I’m sorry? What?” Was the reply from TC with genuine incredulity. The human embodiment of Gunnersaurus, Brentford’s own Winston Churchill, universally known in TW8 for his bighearted exuberance and love of all things Brentford. Perhaps those vocal styling were stifled by a dry throat. Who knows?

Brentford’s own Harry Potter

Elsewhere, there was the bizarre sight, or should that be sound, of Freed From Desire being played moments before the teams walked out. Seriously? I mean, not complaining but talk about a way to stoke up the away fans. The only thing missing was a AA with Hey Jude. By all accounts, they’s also played YNWA when Liverpool visited last week. Go figure.

Something which then gave their subsequent post match tweet regarding Ivan Toney an even more bizarre twist.

I’m sorry? What?

Then there was the away end. Appreciate they are still finishing off their new stand on the river side (something that has taken even longer to build than La Sagrada Familia) but having a mixed zone of home and away fans in the bar areas behind the goal felt odd. That’s the polite term. Unsegregated football hasn’t been a thing for decades and whilst we’re all a friendly bunch in the main, it’s an emotional game. A trailblazing step in the right direction or an accident waiting to happen? There was no bother that I saw although I heard differently from others. Their next few home games see visits from Brighton and then Chelsea. Good luck.

For Brentford, Everton are next up. An 88th minute equaliser saw them pick up a first point of the season at home to Nottingham Forest. Only Wolves, Leicester City, West Ham and Manchester Untied below them in the table. It’s not been the best start, with injuries and departure compounding to their woes from last season. On paper, the perfect opposition for Brentford. In practice, they’re already in survival mode. A caged tiger of a team. Backed in to corner and fighting for their lives or, at the least, to prove all the pundits wrong. The awesome power of everyone’s favourite Brazilian, Allan, currently confined to the bench but surely set to be unleashed at Lionel Road.

Pele. Zico. Ronaldo. Socrates. Allan

Ok. Turn away now if you are going to get upset about more Priti Patel. Last time out we asked on these pages what had happened there? Put the questions out there to try and understand why our stadium had been turned into a political arena? Moreso, when the person in question holds views that are so diametrically opposed to those of the club. We eventually got a brief statement saying that she had been invited by the Premier League, journalists had gone off topic and it wasn’t our media team controlling events. It was as neutral an ‘answer’ as would have been expected.  

Bees United were quicker out of the blocks, noting that, amongst other things whilst it hadn’t been us that invited her, the club “Should have anticipated that the media would ask about wider political issues such as government policy towards asylum seekers. Brentford’s stadium thus became the background for political views which are not universally shared by fans”

You can read that one in full, here.

Whatever the explanation. Whatever the outcome. One thing is clear that we all share different views. The vast majority of Brentford fans would seem to be extemely unhappy about what played out. I’m still of the belief that things could have been handled differently. That things should have been handled differently. That’s me.

We’ve not even had a formal piece on the real reason for her visit but, all things considered, that horse has long since bolted and perhaps it is best one we all box off. 

Our club have always been amazingly proud of their values and the amazing work being done on that front. If any positive can be taken out of all this, it is that the reaction of so many supporters shows how much we all share these. That, for me, is the real story to take away from all of this. Now let’s never talk of it again.

Finally, if there was one thing worse than the final score at Fulham it was the disaster that befell yours truly after the game. With the club putting out a tweet before kick off about the wonderful change shirt being worn for this match, the thought process naturally gravitated towards the brown/orange. Which was duly worn. Rightly so, until walking back to the pub it snagged against a bit of metal on the side of a white van. Disaster. Nooooooo. Ruined.

Like punching a hole in the face of the Mona Lisa, a masterpiece has been ruined. Kitman Bob? The club shop? Anyone? Is there a spare out there? Does anyone have one of these Jaffa caked beauties lying around gathering dust? I’ll be at the Everton and would be happy to broker a deal. Probably let’s play safe and say in an XL.

Over to you. Please…

Nick Bruzon

We’ve had an absolute shocker. Is there a response coming ahead of the weekend?

19 Aug

Brentford travel to Fulham on Saturday afternoon. Our first West London derby of the season (and, for the record, anyone boring off about the postcode can shove their clackers where the sun don’t shine). Our stock is still high after tanking Manchester United 4-0 and the smile still broad following one of THE greatest Bees’ performances of all time. It should be an amazing time, and it is, yet one can’t help feel the edge was taken off things somewhat on Thursday evening. We’ll get to all things Fulham and Man U in a moment but the topic on everybody’s mind – certainly going by social media – was Priti Patel being allowed to use Lionel Road to spout off about the government’s hugely divisive and controversial policy to send immigrants to Rwanda.

Fixed it for you, official

Stop Brentford. Stop. How on earth was this allowed to happen? Why was this allowed to happen? Never mix sport and politics is a golden rule that has been completely overlooked. Where was the swift response and explanation after Sky ran the story late in the afternoon?

Those of us just coming in from work were greeted by the Home Secretary in the South Stand at Lionel Road, attempting to justify this abhorrent policy. That’s my view, others may differ, but reading my own timeline it seemed that Bees’ supporters were united in shock, disgust and outrage at our home being used for such purposes.

Presumably she was there for footballing purposes but any such reasons were not made clear. I looked on Brentford ‘official’ and there was no story about her visit. Instead, all we have was the piece on Sky News – here for the record – and a lot of upset fans. Upset and confused. 

The club have been groundbreakers in diversity. In inclusion. In supporting refugees. In standing up to hatred and abuse. We are known for it and, quite rightly, trumpet all the amazing work we do in this field. There’s no place better for feeling welcomed. 

To then see our club used as the backdrop for what is about as inhumane a policy as one could imagine, from a government who have long proven themselves to be morally redundant and totally self-serving, is at odds with everything we stand for.

I doubt very much Ms. Patel just dropped in on the off chance. This sort of visit would have been properly lined up. Likewise, her views and policies are well, well documented. This should not have been a surprise and so for her to use our home for such propaganda purposes has left many of us feeling extremely let down. That’s the polite term. 

Why the heck our media and comms team have not been all over this up front and making crystal clear the line of political questioning a football club were comfortable to be associated with, used as a platform for,  is an explanation I’d love to hear. Instead, we got tumbleweed. No doubt (he says) there’ll be something pushed out today. There had better be but, regardless, judging by the reaction from fans – just a few of the many, many, many comments are below – it is already way too late and should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.

Right, Fulham away. Less than a third of the usual number of Brentford fans will be present for this one, given the dearth of tickets made available but rest assured we’ll be just as loud. The atmospheres at both Leicester City and then home to Manchester United ripped the roof off and I can only see more of the same coming for this one.

Frankly, I can’t wait. Memories of THAT 4-1 or Neal Maupay denying them automatic in the 89th still live strong in the mind. Our hosts devastated in their own backyard. Silenced by the Bees  – not that you could tell there was any difference from the normal happy-clappy, gin swigging, cake eating, foam finger waving, Michael Jackson worshipping, clacker filled vibe.

Stuart Dallas – scorer of my favourite ever Bees goal (pre-Mbeumo v Man U)

That’s their problem. We’ll make it happen once again. Just as we’ve done before. Just as we did when putting four goals past Manchester United with little more than 30 minutes on the clock. Brentford were imperious. Magnificent. Devastating. Matthias Jensen having the game of his life and continuing that upward trajectory of form that has more than rewarded Thomas Frank’s faith in the Danish midfielder. Christian Eriksen left ruing his summer choice. Cristiano Ronaldo a series of hissy fits, strops and self-entitlement. Harry Maguire a broken man. Lisandro Martínez out of his depth – literally and metaphorically. 

They were dreadful whilst in Erik ten Haag appear to have unearthed the new Marinus Dijkhuizen. That’s their problem though. Let’s take nothing away from Brentford who were magnificent. Both tactically and in terms of gameplay. We hassled, closed down and out ran their (apparently) illustrious opponents to such an extent that, in the end, there was genuine disappointment that it ‘only’ ended 4-0. At one point I was seriously wondering if we might even inflict brackets on Manchester United. Such was they way we were playing, 7(seven)-0 would not have been out of the question. You can get the full view that one, here.

All well and good, of course. The cardinal error now would be in thinking that we have a divine right to steamroller Fulham on Saturday. That we’ll just turn up and inflict more of the same as we’ve done against them in the past or did to Untied last week. Whilst, personally speaking, I can only see us continuing our form you can be sure that Thomas Frank will have boxed off the previous results and is only looking forward. Is only too aware that Championship flat-track bully Aleksandar Mitrović has actually started to score goals in the Premier League. Two against Liverpool in their 2-2 draw could haven three, but for a missed penalty in the 0-0 at Wolves. 

The long story short here is that for all we were amazing this is a new game. That past results have happened. That whilst confidence is high, there’s nothing like a West London derby to set the pulse racing that bit faster. Both teams are unbeaten in their opening two games and even thought Brentford are on fire, it all starts from nothing once referee Peter Bankes blows the whistle at 3pm. I can’t wait for this one. See you there. 

More of this would be amazing

Nick Bruzon. 

New season. New team. New kit? Here we go!

7 Aug

Finally. We’re off. Trains, possibly planes and a few automobiles will be filled with Brentford fans making the trip to Leicester City for Sunday afternoon’s 2pm kick off. Of course, it should have happened already but all we can say is that hopefully everyone enjoyed the carnival that caused our second Premier League season to be pushed back a day. Instead, Saturday was spent enduring Fulham and their clappers at home to Liverpool aswell as watching Everton pick up where they left off last season when going down to Chelsea. Sitting on the sidelines watching the others enjoy (or not) their moment on TV wasn’t the start we were hoping for after but better late than never. Today is the day. The game is on. 

Last season was immense. There aren’t the words to describe how much fun it was being a Brentford fan. How exciting. Although from all my summer reading, safe to say that Greville Waterman has given it his very best shot (available from all good booksellers now).  How our wonderful Brentford team took the Prem by the scruff of the neck from that opening night defeat of Arsenal to sit top of the pack. How we kicked on from there and, but for the injury to David Raya, might well have ended up in the realms of Fantasy Football.  

As it is, our final position of 13th was a huge achievement and above just about everybody’s predictions. A campaign where a wonderful start and finish bookended a downturn in results that, if nothing else, was a timely reminder that a season is played out over 38 games rather than a dozen. Where the trashing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the destruction of West Ham (twice) and Kurt Zouma, Pontus at Vicarage Road, the craziness of the 3-3 with Liverpool and the League game at Everton were amongst so many memorable moments. So many dreams that somehow came true. Now, we have the chance to do it all over again. 

Chelsea (a) up there with the very best moments of last season

We looked yesterday at the summer and personal plans for the season going forward – you can see that here. Today, it is all about the immediacy of the Leicester City game. About opponents who did the double over Brentford last season. Getting some payback would be extremely well received, that’s for sure.

Our hosts will, of course, be missing talismanic goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel who has signed for Nice. Ricardo Pereira and Harvey Barnes are also absent with injury whilst the rumours surrounding James Maddison and Wesley Fofana haven’t stopped circulating.

The Bees, on the other hand, are about as set as we can be. The injury enforced absence of Ethan Pinnock and Kris Ajer will see new signings Ben Mee and Aaron Hickey start this one. Pontus and Rico completing the defence in front of David Raya. A midfield trio of Norgaard, Janelt and Jensen will provide the ammo for our front three of Wissa, Bryan and Ivan Toney.  

It is as strong and exciting as one could hope for. Especially given the injuries and Christian Eriksen’s decision to sit on the Old Trafford bench. Ahh, money. One can’t knock an individual for their decision but the emotional investment made, and now left lying on the vomitary floor, still feels far too raw to be able to ignore.   

It’s over – but we’ll always have the green jacket

On the flip side, from our likely starting XI Wissa in particular is my man to watch. He had a storming end to the last season as he made the transition from squad player to first team regular. He really does provide a wonderful outlet, breaking forward with pace and desperate to perform his trademark goal celebration. The passion is there for all to see. The enthusiasm and the ability to match. More of that would be incredible. 

Those Martin Damsgaard rumours are also kicking around and, if you believe what you read, a deal is imminent. Could he be here in time for the Manchester United game? Amazing though it would be, that’s for then.  For now it is all about how Brentford go. Knowing that one result will not define a season but, as with Arsenal last time out, starting on the front foot. 

Also, am I alone in wondering what colours we will be playing in. Could there be a shock reveal for what Kitman Bob has described as a ‘marmite’ third shirt? He tweeted on Thursday to say that we’d see “Incoming of the marmite kit within a day or 2” . 

Just imagine the reaction as the team unzip their tracksuits at 1.59 to unleash…. who knows what??? 

I can’t wait for any of it. Roll on 2pm. Roll on Leicester City. Let’s do this. ENJOY !!!

Both of these would be incredible

Nick Bruzon

Fulham promoted. And?

20 Apr

The reaction on Twitter to one Brentford fan offering congratulations to Fulham for wining promotion to the top flight last night (albeit, looking as though it was as much a dig at QPR as anything else) was entirely understandable and expected. This most pointless of local rivals. A club who have spent the last five years going up and down more often than the lifts at the Burj Khalifa. For whom their main goal threat is the ultimate flat track bully. Aleksandar Mitrović may have bagged a few in the Championship but seems to become Aleksandar Meerkat when he steps up a level to the Premier League. A place where goalscoring has been anything but ‘simples’.

My initial reaction to the news of their promotion was that classic Partridge shrug.

Having slept on things and reconsidered then its actually all good. Bear with me…

There’s a chance to laugh at neutral stands. Gin bars. Statues of Michael Jackson. Clackers. Foam fingers. Run out music for the warm up. An(other) inevitable relegation. Six points for the Bees. Perhaps even a second column from ‘Fulham fan’ Brian Guest and his Spall 87-88 Bees away shirt. The full story on that one is here. Oh, and did we mention neutral stands?

Brian Guest – Fulham note him as a fan despite the pain inflicted by the Bees

That’s before we get to a local game – the cost of a return ticket from Brentford to Putney sure to save a few pennies from the season long travel budget.

Before we get to reflect on Stuart Dallas scoring ‘that’ goal in ‘that’ 4-1 at the Cottage.

Moments, and sounds, like this make life all the sweeter

To Jota in the last minute. To Neal Maupay doing that amazing thing in the 89th.

To the closest I ever got to winning the Big Bob giveaway – Sam Saunders scoring in the 5th rather than 7th minute (Scott Hogan grabbing our second at that point) in what eventually became the 3-0 at Griffin Park. The game when Tom Field made a shock debut.

Or to the 4-0 HT lead that was the precursor to our eventual promotion from Division Three at Peterborough.

Oh, Jota….

Safe to say that there’s plenty to milk and enjoy about the return of the Fulham game next season. With Brentford still pushing for a top ten finish, securing mathematical safety is the first order of business. That said, I’m still more focussed on another mathematical possibility – a place in Europe. Albeit that relies on the Bees winning those final five games and Manchester United (amongst others) losing the same amount. Although on last night’s showing and their abject display at Everton, nothing would surprise me on that front.

All that’s to come. I’d offer congratulations to Fulham but why? No quarter given. No encouragement needed. Just another league double to dream of.

Nick Bruzon

Limbs? It was like an explosion in a doll’s factory.

3 Apr

Sometimes there just aren’t sufficient words. Football of the highest order. An afternoon of the most incredible passion. Brentford putting in one of our best ever performances on the road as Chelsea were ripped a new one at Stamford Bridge. The 4-1 scoreline truly deserved as the Bees turned on the style in a manner not seen since, perhaps, Fulham away (the Stuart Dallas game) in our first Championship season. This was next level, though. Champions of Europe? You’re having a laugh ! Third in the Premier league and blown away as easily as an empty crisp packet caught on the breeze. Brentford were ruthless. Dominant. Outstanding. Ballsy. Devastating. Chelsea made to look second class citizens. Real Madrid now, surely, about to face the most enormous backlash when they visit the Bridge on Wednesday. That’s their problem though. This is all about the Bees. This is all about another chapter being written in the story that keeps on giving. What a way to warm up for West Ham next week.

Celebrations for the first goal (of our four. That’s four)

We’d come into this one with a ‘nothing to lose’ approach. Christian Eriksen was back after missing out at Leicester City through Covid and his stock was high after the most wonderful return to international action during the two week break. Yet even a devil may care attitude or the inclusion of a player who is up there with the best in the world, couldn’t prepare us for what came next. For the scenes in the crowd. For the noise that not so much drowned out Chelseas as silenced them (36 minutes on the clock before we heard our first decent noise from our hosts). For the performance of a Brentford side who, after going in 0-0 at half time, came back out to score more times in 45 minutes at the Bridge than even David Mellor might have achieved in his most hedonistic days (don’t visualise it, don’t visualise it).

With Brentford reverting to the three centre backs that had seen us so cautious on the road previously, any thought that we’d come to suck it up was quickly dispelled. Brentford taking the game to the opposition. Eriksen pinging it around. Bryan, Rico and Mads Roerslev slicing through the channels. The Bees on top and, err, pushing up. 0-0 at half-time giving confidence that we could perhaps snatch something. What came next is up there with the most crazy scenes and the incredible results we’ve ever borne witness to. Limbs? It was like an explosion in a doll factory.

Ironically, it was Chelsea who scored first. As at Arsenal, just minutes into the second half and the score turned from 0-0 to our hosts taking the lead. Unlike at Arsenal, this was a flash in the pan. Granted, a moment of brilliance but one that was a bolt from the blue rather than the eventual culmination of pressure, pressure, pressure. Antonio Rüdiger’s shot from distance moving through the air, clipping the inside of the post and finding the back of the net. David Raya close but unable to keep it out. The ball leathered in from over thirty yards out and a wonderful strike. Hats off Chelsea. Yet anyone thinking this was now a done deal was bout to be rudely awoken.

Within seconds , Vitaly Janelt had levelled it up. Bryan Mbeumo teeing up as he took two defenders out of the game and the German fired home form just inside the box. Bees fans erupted. An outpouring of equal parts disbelief and joy. What a moment ! Yet here was better to come. Two minutes later and Christian Eriksen had given us the lead. Again, Mbeumo the architect. His run up field on the counter attack culminating with a beautifully placed ball to Christian Eriksen. The Dane carving a hole deep into the Chelsea defence and making no mistake with his first time effort. Oh, the smile from the player . The clenched fist. The outpouring of love from the stands. The players again celebrating in the corner in front our the travelling faithful. It was dreamland for Brentford, and there was more to come.

That’s the lead!

Within the hour, it was 3-1 Brentford. Again, Vitaly Janelt. Again, Bryan with a hand. Again. Freeing up Ivan for a quite delicious pass. Though the eye of a needle. Three defenders taken out in one touch and Janelt lofting it over Mendy from the corner of the six yard box. The crowd going bonkers.

This was madness. In the best sense. Another celebration from the players in the same corner. Their broad grins and screams of joy telling you everything about what this meant. About our team spirit. About the sheer incredulity of the situation. What a moment. 60 minutes gone. Brentford now leading Chelsea by 2 goals. Clear air and the gap growing ever bigger.

There’s the third goal

There was more to come. Much more. A disallowed goal for Chelsea. The correct call, btw. Another chance down the far end that should have been buried. The home fans then pouring out en-masse. Their supporters leaving The Bridge as quickly as the points. The home end looking as though the previously imposed sanctions had been reintroduced . There were more empty seats than a studio recording of Mrs. Browns Boys. Was this why they had played ‘The Liquidator’ as the team first took the field of play? 

Yet if the Chelsea fans had given up, the opposite was true for Brentford. The team being roared on at ear shredding volume. Wissa coming off the bench and, with his first touch, doing to Chelsea what he had done to West Ham earlier in the season. A late goal – albeit this time the cherry on the icing on the cake rather than the decisive strike. The result was the same. Brentford fans all over the place and the trademark celebration, arms aloft in that W pose. 4-1 Brentford. Moments left. This time it really was game over. This time, it was history being made. No crumbling to the reputation beforehand. No concession to their galaxy of stars or the Champions League winners’ badge that adorned the blue jerseys. Just sheer, unadulterated guts and joy.

And that’s four…

The celebrations continuing long after full time. Nobody going anywhere. Players and staff celebrating with the fans. Savouring the moment. Peter Gilham in the front row of the upper tier showing just why this was the perfect birthday present. He’s seen it all but surely nothing like this in his 75 years. Walking out afterwards, catching up with friends  we’d missed in the stadium.. The reaction – universal. An almost numb feeling of joyous disbelief. That three pint buzz followed by a lot more, for real. Tim Lovejoy. Tim Lovejoy. Tim Lovejoy. Your boys took one hell of a beating. And it was magnificent.

There’s more to come on this. If nothing else, trying to pick the ‘top five’ for our post match player review. For now, though, let’s just bask in what was one of the single best ever Brentford performances. A proper ‘I was there’ moment.

Sunday morning and I’m still smiling. Match Of The Day just rewatched for the third time. This was special. Next level stuff. Now bring on West Ham…

Pontus shows what the fourth goals mean

Nick Bruzon

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