Tag Archives: Glasgow Rangers

What happens in Preston, stays in Preston as Harlee makes a frank admission.

12 Feb

F*ck off Brentford” said one supporter on Twitter after this one. Others were calling for Dean Smith’s head. I’ve even seen comments reminding us that Mark Warburton is available after his resignation/non resignation from Rangers. Seriously? Seriously?? Sure, The Bees had been beaten 4-2 by Preston North End but let’s leave that nonsense and put this one down to the proverbial bad day at the office.

After those two tonkings administered to Aston Villa and Brighton, had Dean Smith gone into this one with anything but the same approach then, perhaps, there could have been casue for frustration. But no, he stuck to his guns and rightly so.

This team and formation were the exact same decisions I would have taken and, whilst just the numpty on the terrace rather than any form of Championship Manager, it was great to see Dean continue with this attacking intent. Indeed, despite the availability of John Egan, amongst others, the only change was one of personnel as fit again Maxine Colin replaced Josh Clarke in the right back position.

The anti-performance at Chelsea had been followed by a new look team and a new set up. Despite the absence of Scott Hogan, six goals had followed from five different players.

Now make that 8 goals from 7(seven) players in three games as Lasse, Nico, Harlee, KK and Jota were joined by Maxime Colin and Tom Field on the list of recent scorers. For Tom in particular, his first league goal for Brentford – and one which gave us an early lead –  was the perfect riposte to his critic after last Sunday’s post match nonsense.

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Post goal celebrations for Tom Field, c/o the Sky Sports highlight reel

After that, though, the wheels fell off. Aiden McGeady waltzed through the Brentford midfield and defence to equalise from distance for the hosts. Preston then took the lead early into the second half as Callum Robinson stole in totally unmarked between Harlee and Andreas to beat the offside trap and tap home.

And with the Bees pushing to get back into it, Mcgeady (again)  and Daryl Horgan put the game beyond doubt as it became a case of “After you, Claude” from Brentford. Maxime Colin pulled one back late on via a generous deflection but that was how it ended.

As ever, proper match reports are available on the BBC, Besotted or ‘official’. Likewise, you’ve got free video highlights on Sky – at least, until we get the full fat Burridge infused version on Beesplayer lunchtime.

It was interesting to read the post match comments of both Dean Smith and Harlee Dean after this one. Talking to ‘official’, Dean admitted that “We lost our organisation and our discipline, we opened up too easily and they could have scored more. We need to be disciplined and have emotional control. Football is about scoring goals and you can’t get too emotionally involved when the opposition score one”.

As for Harlee, his observations were on a similar line. Along with a captain’s standard post defeat apology to those who travelled, there was an admission of tactical naivety from the players combined with their poor decisions and poor performances. Coming from the man in the midst of the action, these are probably more telling and comments I take heart from.

It is hard to remember that Harlee is only 25. One forgets just how young he was when he first turned out for Andy Scott’s Bees way back in November 2011. Yet here is a man who has fought his way up from non league and loanee to now being club captain and one of the first names on the team sheet.

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Harlee Dean – also appearing on Twitter at FT

Don’t get me wrong, nobody wants to make that long journey home (longer for those who travelled on Virgin Rail if head of media relation’s Chris Wickham’s twitter account was anything to go by) on the back of a 4-2 scoreline. Yet if the players themselves are aware of where they went wrong and where they showed inconsistency (another phrase used by Harlee in that post match article and which has been visible to all but the most blinkered of supporters this season) then there is hope that this newly reinvigorated team can continue to do what they’ve been doing.

We’ve two very tricky fixtures coming up. Midweek trips to teams currently looking for play off points. Reading this Tuesday and then Sheffield Wednesday a week later.

Here’s hoping Dean can hold his nerve in regards to team selection again.

Here’s hoping the team can learn from those mistakes on Saturday.

Here’s hoping that what happened in Preston, stays in Preston.

Nick Bruzon

 

How can the same stuff happen to the same guy twice as Rangers meltdown? Can the same scoreline happen again as Bees travel North?

11 Feb

Well that’s been a busy few days off. Most of us have woken to news that Mark Warburton, David Weir and Frank McParland have, apparently, all ‘resigned’ at Rangers – something our former manager claims to know nothing about. With the Scottish club announcing that Graeme Murty is in charge, things could get interesting in the dugout at 3pm. Back in Brentford,  Josh Clarke and Dean Smith (nothing more than coincidental timing, I am sure) have both signed contract extensions whilst on pitch, not that one exists as yet, Hounslow council have given rugby club London Irish permission to ground share at Lionel Road. Yet all these are mere appetisers ahead of the main course – our trip to Preston North End.

Of course, we can only start at Deepdale. Brentford annihilated Preston 5-0 at Griffin Park earlier in the season and, based on current form, the casual observer would only expect more of the same. We’ve scored six goals  in our last two games – the first of the Hogan free era.

Aston Villa were despatched as simply as a half time balti pie offered to a hungry supporter. There was literally no resistance from the former Premier League team who were left looking somewhat like a pub side. The only disappointment being that 3-0 was scant reflection of a game where there was only one team in it.

As for Brighton on Sunday. 2-0 up and with a penalty opportunity to make it three, that one looked very much like another win fro the Bees. That it ended 3-3 was as much testament to the quality of our opponents (still very much promotion favourites and title contenders) combined with, perhaps, a touch of naivety from Brentford as the lead was retaken with 95 minutes on the clock. No criticism though. It was an honour to be part of the crowd for that one.

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KK is in there, somewhere, celebrating a late, late ‘winner ‘ against Brighton

Yet, as we’ve mentioned before, part of this resurgence is as much down to Dean Smith’s new formation. Lasse Vibe just one of five players to get on the scoresheet in front of two wide men and two centre backs in Harlee Dean and Andreas Bjelland. More room in the middle. Jota destroying all comers and looking a class above anybody trying to stop him. With a bench that includes Josh Clarke and Sergi Canos aswell as the finally back in favour Konstantin Kerschbaumer and Alan McCormack, Dean seems to have got the balance just right. Can he do it again for a third successive game ?

Surely he’ll go for more of the same today? Although Preston are five points above the Bees, they haven’t won in four games. We know we have the beating of them and that was in a team without Jota. Yet the BBC report that with John Egan fit again, he could return to the starting line up.

All being well, this is nothing more than opportunistic journalism. And this is meant as no disrespect whatsoever to a player who has more than justified his own contract extension. Yet playing with a traditional back four, albeit one where the defence still push up, has been nothing short of revalationary. A breath of fresh air after what could, politely, be described as some turgid, sluggish and inconsistent performances.

Come on Dean, here’s hoping you have the same courage of your convictions away from home as at Griffin Park. The bookies still have Preston as favourites  – only 2 defeats in the last 12 at home likely helping their position – but the new look Bees are a force to be reckoned with. I can’t wait to see how we fare on the road.

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Jota helped destroy Brighton. And Aston Villa

Rugby is the other news to make us sit up and take notice – Mark Warburton at Rangers aside, where one can only wonder what on earth is going on. In a communications debacle to make our own media team seem like Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, the Glasgow club have released a statement to say he has quit whilst Warbs seems unaware that he has, supposedly, penned his resignation letter.

This is a situation where nobody comes out the winner. Aside from, perhaps, Celtic whose 27 point lead over closest challengers Rangers and Aberdeen seems even safer than ever. With alleged new destination Nottingham Forest already having named their interim management team, could Mark Warburton find himself temporarily out in the cold again?

It was 10 February 2015 when the story about his ‘replacement’ at the end of Brentford’s Championship season was leaked by The Times. The club handled news about that one terribly – the only way worse could have been had we included a hashtag – as Warbs , in public at least, carried himself with dignity whilst retaining the love of players and supporters alike.

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Warbs , Jota and the team on the day of village-gate 2015

Two years to the very day, it has happened again. Another announcement about his position, this time at Rangers, clouded in confusion and controversy. Who’d be a manger. Or  in a comms role…

As for the rugby, well it seems that London Irish will be the new tenants at Lionel Road, once the stadium is built. Hounslow Council have granted permission for a ground share at the new stadium. Official tell us us that “Progress on the implementation of the Brentford Community Stadium project is continuing apace, ahead of a moving in date of the season 2019/20. The full story is on the club website.

And finally, if you can get through all the adverts , pop ups and surveys on their site, (Get) West London’s Premier Journalist Tom Moore has another video. Do check it out, it’s well worth a look.

Until then, here’s to Preston.

Nick Bruzon

We’ve got that Vibe (but Mark has a few things to answer)

6 Apr

Dean Smith’s team have done it again. That’s 6 goals and 6 points in two games for Brentford as they eased past Bolton with a 3-1 win at Griffin Park on Tuesday night. Again Nico Yennaris grabbed a goal from midfield and again, Beesplayer commentator par-excellence Mark Burridge was absent from the commentary box. Meanwhile, Mark Warburton and his Rangers team secured a return to the Scottish Premiership as the Glasgow outfit secured the Championship title with a 1-0 win over Dumbarton.

But we can only begin by reviewing events at Griffin Park where a 3 goal spell in 19 first half minutes wrapped things up for the Bees. Nico grabbed the opener from close range whilst Lasse Vibe completed the scoring with a fine pair. His first saw the Dane working through a crowd in the box until he found clear air whilst the second was a fine header from Judge cross.

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A handful of Bolton fans were present as Nico and Lasse scored 3 first half goals

It was a second goal in as many games for Nico and a third over the same spell from Lasse as the Bees matched the three goals they scored in Saturday’s second half at Nottingham Forest. But whilst it may look comfortable on paper, with some fans already looking ahead to the brackets that come with 7(seven) goals Bolton were allowed back into a game which, but for some better shooting, they may well have got something out of.

That’s not to overly criticise but more to note that we are by no means the finished article. The second half in particular saw us pushing our luck. Bolton were allowed to run at the Bees defence whilst Macca gave away a very soft looking penalty that Zach Clough converted to give the Trotters hope. That said, he nearly made it four himself with an absolute pile driver that Bolton ‘keeper Ben Amos did well to tip over at the last moment.

As for Nico Yennaris, he’s been viewed (unfairly) as one of the ‘fall guys’ by certain sections of social media all season and so to see him shine in midfield is nothing short of wonderful. Two goals in two games and another dominant, positive performance from the player usually found at right back have been a real plus for Dean Smith. This, at a time when both Josh McEachran and John Swift have been missing. Literally (with injury), rather than metaphorically as some have noted in recent games.

These wins have been earned against sides who, if we’re being equally honest, haven’t been great yet at the same time, we can only beat the team in front of us. As was noted just yesterday, how often in the past have underrated teams failed to read the script and given Brentford unexpected trouble?

Instead, yesterday’s game put me in mind of last season’s against Blackpool. Playing a similarly doomed team under floodlights, the Bees ended it looking like comfortable winners.

Clearly the players were in high spirits, with Twitter once more awash with plenty of good vibes and even, dare I say it, ‘bantz’ (Urrgh, I feel so dirty). What a world away from all the going again or apologising to the fans that were the hallmarks of the early months in 2016.

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As hit Andy Carol ??? Sam with the Twitter ‘bantz’

The gap to the bottom three is now 12 points (effectively 13 with GD) and the teams in the drop zone only have 6 games left to play. The Bees are up to 14th and 7(seven) points off a tenth place that Dean Smith was targetting as he spoke to the press after the game. “It means we can go to Ipswich on Saturday and try to make it three wins in a row and then we can be looking at a top 10 finish,” he told journalists.

Personally, I’d be ecstatic if we could build on this to finish as top team in West London. The Bees are 5 clear of Fulham and just 3 behind QPR with a game in hand on both sides – albeit at promotion chasing Hull City ! For now though, let’s just enjoy the moment and then start to think about a rematch with Jonathan Douglas and his Ipswich Town side at the weekend.

The other point of note for last night was one more applicable to those amongst us who look for omens, jinxes and signs. For the second game in a row , Brentford scored three goals and picked up three points. For the second game in a row, the commentating legend that is Mark Burridge missed proceedings due to his taking a well earned break.

Much as he is, without doubt, untouchable when it comes to this role, I can’t help but wonder if his absence is another catalyst in the Bees resurgence?  From an albatross on the golf course to an albatross in the commentary box? Or nothing more than Brentford playing to the best of their ability against struggling teams?

Saturday against Ipswich Town could be interesting – if nothing else for the phone calls to immigration should Brentford make it 3 in a row…

And finally, huge congratulations to Mark Warburton. Rangers 1-0 victory last night secured the Championship title, promotion and a return to the Premiership for the Ibrox team.

His popularity at Griffin Park was, and still is, no secret. Certainly something that was evident by the huge swathe of good wishes in his direction on Twitter last night.

Whilst the Bees are now heading well into a new era, nobody could deny the role Mark played in getting us to this point. Things were ‘that close’ for Warbs and the Bees last time out – how good to see this most admired of managers taking that next step this time around.

Nice one, Mark.

Nick Bruzon

Bees, Bolton, Rangers and Warbs all on the brink

4 Apr

There will no doubt be plenty to talk about over the next few days with Brentford and Bolton both knowing a lot more about where our respective clubs will be next season following Tuesday night’s clash at Griffin Park. Yet that same evening many of us will likely have a fair bit of interest North of the border where Mark Warburton is, for the second successive season, on the brink of taking his team into the Premier League. This time though, it will be his Rangers side rather than our beloved Bees.

For us,  the weekend results have all but (officially) doomed Wanderers. The end to both their Championship status and our relegation fears could come at full time should the Bees make it two wins in a row.  It won’t be easy of course. Brentford’s position is by no means a false one (tables don’t lie) and indicative of a sub-par 2015/16. Of course the reasons for that are numerous and have been well documented – although the answers as to whether there have been more rights or wrongs this campaign remain to be seen.

Indeed, despite the huge disappointment felt as Mark Warburton and Matthew Benham parted company after coming ‘so close’ (do Brentford ever do anything but ‘so close’?) is it fair to even call this campaign ‘sub-par’?

Well, only after our fate is assured either way will we be able to answer that question fully but whichever way you look at it, glass half-empty or half-full, to be facing the prospect of this third season in the Championship can only be viewed as a stunning positive.

And yes, I know I’ve made this point a lot in recent weeks but it is needs to be acknowledged. Cripes, we’ve spent enough time analysing all the frustrations, problems and ‘if onlys’ that have got us to this point. Safety first, please, and then we can properly take stock of all that has happened. And all that might have had we not switched models.

We all loved Warbs. To see him and Rangers storming it in Scotland hurts, but not in a bad way. Not like ‘that penalty’, Ray Biggar or any of our play-off campaigns. It is great to see Warbs continuing his success and is something I can only wish him well on.

Bees 1-0 v Watford Warburton

Warbs – in there, somewhere. The day of ‘Village-gate’

With the greatest of respect to Marinus, Lee Carsley and Dean Smith, I’d love to have seen Warbs able to stay on at Griffin Park. That’s not a dig any any of the candidates who came next but, simply, me wondering where we would have been had this most loved of men (and potentially more than just a handful of his squad) been here still. Yes, there were things he might have done differently but to finish fifth in your first full season managing, in the Championship, after getting us promoted from the First Division, is the sort of stuff you could write a book about or two…. (hey, if I can’t be unsubtle in my own blog then when can I?)

Instead we can only wish him well for Tuesday night as Rangers host Dumbarton, standing on the brink of a return to the Scottish Premiership. Warbs left with an incredible reputation as a debutant manager yet also as a man who carried himself with dignity in some very trying times.

Of course, my head and heart will be at Griffin Park hoping we can secure another win that will put us in a position we’d have taken with arms wide open three or four years ago. Yet, at the same time, I’ll have half an ear pressed to the terrace tranny, wondering if Mark can continue the fantastic start to his managerial career.

Good luck Mark. There’ll be thousands down here wishing you well.

As a final thought, and totally unrelated, who remembers the Brentford FC phone card? For that matter, who remembers phone cards full stop? Given these days of mobile phones, it seems crazy to think we’d even use call boxes or have pre-loaded ‘credit’ cards to allow us to make phone calls when on the move.

But we did. 1990 seems like only five minutes ago to me and, back then, Third Division Brentford were at the heart of the ‘mobile’ revolution. Digging through the back of the cupboard this morning I’ve stumbled across a few old membership packs – how I wish we could bring back the ‘funky bee’ in some form – and our own venture into the ‘phone card’ market.

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Back then, it was all about the Funky Bee

Mercury didn’t last that long. Having the card was great. Having a Mercury phone to put it into was an altogether different prospect. But stumbling across this has brought back some fond memories. If nothing else, just seeing popular club physio Roy Clare as part of this squad.

We’ve come a long way since those days. Mostly down but, now the Bees are back on the rise once more, I’m desperate to see us carry on our climb to new success.

Here’s to three more points on Tuesday night and then we can, barring disasters, start to make some plans for the biggest Championship season yet.

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ET phone home? Not with a Mercurycard

Nick Bruzon 

 

What is it with service stations as Rangers lose out to Leeds?

26 Jan

Leeds United visit this evening. It’s going to be a strange one for sure with Brentford hero Toumani Diagouraga set to line up alongside former team-mate Stuart Dallas in Steve Evans’ team. In the end it wasn’t Mark Warburton and Rangers. Instead, the much anticipated, and photographed, transfer was confirmed by the club on Monday and Toums is now, officially, part of the set up at Elland Road. And over in Germany, a former Bee has got himself in a spot of hot water.

But we need to start with the worst kept secret in football. Alongside the normal rumours from the local and national press, social Media had been awash with comments from players and photographs from fans over the weekend that, let’s just politely say, indicated this was a ‘done deal’. Even Bees Player commentator par-excellence Mark Burridge has since released his own picture from Saturday after bumping into the player at a motorway service station.

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Mark bumped into Toumani at the weekend

With all the transfer talk being about Judge to Sheffield Wednesday, Tarks (and my thoughts on his terrible news were published last night) to Burnley and even Toums to Rangers, this one took many by surprise when it was first suggested. But then we got the social media meltdown, evidence flying around and, finally, an announcement from the club when the deal was penned.

That’s football. As we’ve noted many times, like it or not club policy is normally one of making no comment until the ink is dry. Fair play to Mark B here, too. The temptation to release his photograph must have been immense but he remains professional to the last and kept this one tucked away until the news had been made official.

Moreso given that this wasn’t his first chance encounter at a service station on the way back from Preston ‘away’.  Keen eyed observers may recall he met none other than Keith Stroud a few years ago. This, well after the infamous ‘maddest game of football that ever existed’ up at Bramall Lane in which the dimuntive man in the middle…saw red. Even by his standards.

But we digress. Toumani is clear to line up against us tonight and, I would fully expect, he’ll get a heroes welcome this evening. From both sets of fans. “Toumani scores, we’re on the pitch” went the infamous song. Bookmakers currently have him at 7/1 to do it tonight at anytime. Expect that price to shrink. A lot.

Football loves a romantic story and, whilst in any other circumstance I’d hate to see anyone score against us (Karleigh Osborne for Bristol City two years ago being the exception) I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone in having a little smile if it happened tonight. Preferably if we were already three up.

I hope the stewards are ready.

The other news to cross my timeline yesterday involved ‘Big’ Nick Proschwitz. You may have already seen the story in which the player, now at German club Padeborn, was reported to have ‘revealed’ himself for twenty seconds in front of a female employee. This, whilst under the influence of alcohol during a stay at a Turkish training club.

The club’s president has already come out and said that “Nick Proschwitz doesn’t belong to our squad anymore”. In defence, the former Bee has been quoted as saying, “ I didn’t have any pants on under my jogging trousers. One of the lads pulled my trousers down – but that was only for a second or so.”

Thankfully, he seems to have a key witness in his defence. The alleged victim. She has told German news agencies that, “At no point was I sexually harassed….The only thing that has harassed me is the false media reports. We barely noticed the fact that a player came into the room, pulled his trousers down and then immediately left.”

Barely noticed the player… Immediately left… I believe her.

Nick Bruzon

There’s Toumani broken hearts on New Road

23 Jan

Preston await. Despite Brentford saying nothing (certainly by 10am on Saturday morning) we’ll be another man down. Just about every other source, including the player and his colleagues on Twitter, were talking about the sale of Toumani Diagouraga to Leeds United. The destruction of the team that took us to within a play-off semi final of the Premier League continues as fans have been left heartbroken by the dismantling of the side that served us so incredibly well.

Mark Warburton – gone

Andre Gray – gone

Moses Odubajo – gone

Stuart Dallas – gone

Jota – gone

Toumani Diagouraga – gone

Alex Pritchard – gone

Jonathan Douglas – gone

Nick Proschwitz – gone

Personally, and I know I’m in a minority, I’ve not shed any tears over the departure of Dougie. His time had come. Likewise, I can’t see anybody crying over the absence of Proschwitz from the team whilst Pritch was only ever a loan signing.

But you can’t remove this much quality and expect no reaction – on or off the field. Moreso when, Max Colin aside, those that have come in have hardly matched their predecessors in terms of ability and performance. With Toumani now gone I fear the midfield is going to be left with a hole you could park a juggernaut in.

Swift and McEachran are, currently, showing the solidity of tumbleweed whilst I saw one post on social media describing KK as having all the resistance of a wet piece of kitchen towel.

Whatever Rasmus and co think they are doing, you just can’t rip the soul out of a team, replace it with statistical niceities and sideways passing / ball retention then hope to pick up where you left off. There, I was rude about so-called, moneyball. Sue me.

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No more Toumani at Griffin Park. Thanks

Frankly, I dread to think what would have happened had Alan Judge not been in such imperious form or Lee Carsley performed such miracles after Marinus was brought in (great research there) and then so unceremoniously dumped. This, just days after he’d been paraded at the fans’ forum where we’d been given the message that everything in the garden was rosy. Hey, Rasmus even told us at that session that we’d be in the Premier League within three seasons.

Carry on like this and I’d agree – the Ryman Premier.

Look, this might all work out but, right now, our club feels a very different place to 24, even 12, months ago. And I’m not sure I like it very much. Selling Toumani to Leeds United really has been the last straw. I thought there might be chance he’d follow Warbs to Rangers but this just feels all wrong.

Not for the player, of course. I can only wish him the very best and offer huge thanks for everything he did. He was supporter’s player of the year for good reason and our loss is very much Leeds’ gain.

We never did see that goal we’d craved for so long but lump your mortgage on him doing it on Tuesday night. When, of course, Leeds United visit Griffin Park.

As for today, Preston North End see Brentford having lost four games on the spin. Dean Smith has stated the obvious and noted that he wants to get back to winning ways. As one New Road observer has noted, he was hardly going to come out with: “Well, Chris, I was thinking that losing 5 or 6 in a row might give us that extra impetus going into February”.

Apologies, Dean. But I’m just not in the frame of mind to be happy-clappy, nicey-nicey about our top brass at the moment. Results aside, the way the season has progressed has been really unlike anything those who have supported this club for more than a year (me, 1979) have known.

I’d love success. But at what price?

Let’s really hope things start kicking in on the pitch again soon.

And finally, it seems Absolute Radio DJ Christian O’Connell has a rival. Following yesterday’s piece in which we talked about the sad end to the Cameron Diaz story, it seems that none other than Bees Player commentator par excellence, Mark Burridge, is adding his two penneth into the mix.

He notes: “ I met Cameron Diaz in 2005 when she was filming The Holiday, (filmed in Guildford I believe) whilst staying at Pennyhill Park. ‘What’s Brentford?’ she laughed when I asked her…..so I explained who we were and she replied ‘I don’t know what Brentford is’….I then explained it was a story in an English newspaper about her knowing Dan Tana and picking up the bug to support us…..’Oh yes, I know Dan but I don’t know Brentford’…….this story was relayed on messageboards and been mentioned on Beesplayer for years. I claim the Cameron ‘outing’ prize’ Nick.

I have no idea who has officially ‘outed’ Cameron but OC, Mark – if either of you are reading this then, to quote Harry Hill, “There’s only one way to sort his out…”

Nick Bruzon

 

Please come back in one piece, Alan

13 Nov

Do you laugh or cry? There was mixed news on the medical front yesterday as Brentford gave what is now, sadly, becoming a regular news feature – injury round up. And it seems the prognosis on Marco Djuricin, after he was stretchered of at Blackburn Rovers, is not great. Lewis Macleod meanwhile, yet to trouble the statisticians since signing from Glasgow Rangers in January, is lined up for even more recovery time.

Those were the headlines from a list that has, at the least, shrunk to 7 (seven) players compared to the double figures we’d seen earlier on in the campaign. Further, of that group Josh McEachran is due to play in a friendly against Bournemouth today whilst Jota resumes training with the team next week.

Jota - resumes training with the team net week

Jota – resumes training with the team net week

There were no surprises in regards to Andreas Bjelland and Scott Hogan (both out for the long term with no set return date) but it was the news about Marco Djuricin and Lewis Macleod that was the real disappointment. The Austrian striker is now looking at an eight-week rehabilitation from the ankle ligament injury suffered at Blackburn although, thankfully, not requiring surgery.

As for Lewis Macleod, we can expect his progress to be set back by the best part of a month after coming off early in the development squad game against Reading. Head of medical Neil Greig telling supporters that Lewis, “Will need to be progressively returned to training over the coming three to four weeks in order to account for his previous history.”

Injuries happen. That is part and parcel of football. I’ve just never known so many at one club in such a short space of time. It was a point flagged at the Brentford fans’ forum earlier on the season and labelled nothing more than coincidence. To be fair the casualty list has, mostly, shrunk since then but it is massively frustrating – and that’s the polite word. Especially in the cases of Marco and Lewis.

The injuries have piled up this season

The injuries have piled up this season

Having sold Andre Gray for a vast fee, the team has struggled to replace that sort of killer instinct up top. Djuricin looked like he was shaping up to be the man to do it and then – boom. Out for two months. That said, Lasse Vibe is our second highest scorer after Alan Judge and will now, surely, be the man landed with that starting role after bagging recent goals at Blackburn and Charlton.

Looking at Lewis Macleod, there was much frustration (along with many good wishes) from the Rangers supporters when Mark Warburton signed him up the moment the January transfer window opened. And yet despite all the promise, we are still waiting to see him in first team action.

I can only feel for the player and the club staff. To have such a prodigious talent in the wings, constantly wrapped in cotton wool, must require an incredible amount of patience. I’m desperately keen to see him in on pitch as, I have no doubt, Lewis and all around him are.

After so long out, easing him back in can only be the right thing to do. The Championship has proven an incredibly physical league and the risks of chucking somebody who may not be fully fit into a competitive match seems obvious to me. I have no doubt we’ll get that decision right – I just hope it is this year.

The one real positive was the news that Brentford’s man of the moment, Alan Judge, is fully recovered after missing the games against Hull City and Blackburn Rovers. As such, he has joined up with the Republic of Ireland squad for tonight’s European qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Good luck, Alan. And please come back in one piece.

Nick Bruzon  

The stuff of dreams becomes a nightmare

5 Nov

What a time of contrasting managerial emotions for Brentford and QPR. Hot off the heels of our derby day victory over the Loftus Road outfit (a three points that Derby County then enjoyed on Tuesday night) Rangers have parted company with Chris Ramsey. Lee Carsley, meanwhile, has just been announced in the shortlist for manager-of-the-month.

I take no pleasure in anybody losing his or her job. Regardless of the team. Indeed, it doesn’t seem like five minutes ago we were embroiled in Village-gate and Mark Warburton was hot favourite to take over at QPR. Instead, with Tony Fernandes announcing that he was close to announcing his ‘dream manager’, Warbs eventually went to Rangers (the Glasgow incarnation) whilst Chris Ramsey took over at Loftus Road.

How things changed. Rangers exited the Premier League; Brentford came to within a play off game of making it. And now, with the Bees on the charge once more, QPR continue their slide downwards.

No doubt their fans and top brass will be worried they are looking like following the recent likes of Wolves directly into the Division One. With it, will come potential games against the likes of Mansfield Town, Carlisle and Accrington Stanley next season. Whilst I can’t see it happening it does show how fleeting football form can be.

Lee Carsley, meanwhile, has received the expected ‘reward’ for an October that saw us pick up 12 points out of 15 and four successive wins. Will he scoop the final honour? Well, being honest, I expect it to go to Steve Bruce at Hull City – they were unbeaten and a point better off. Likewise, victory over us on Tuesday (albeit in November) saw them reach the top of the Championship table.

The Bees came close but couldn't get past Hull on Tuesday

The Bees came close but couldn’t get past Hull on Tuesday

Either way, it is a tremendous reversal of form following the days of Marinus and Roy.

And nowhere more has this been typified than in Alan Judge, who is also up for the player-of-the-month award. His four assists, three goals and scintillating play make him a very genuine candidate for this award. Ironically, former Bee Andre Gray, who has been scoring goals for fun at Burnley, could be a very serious rival for this one.

Whatever happens, I’d rather be in our situation than that of Rangers who, this morning, will be sorting through the monogrammed CR tracksuits and starting the search for their next dream manager.

As for us, whilst I’d hope Lee wins the prize I can’t look past Steve Bruce. Although, should he do it, then get ready to bet against Hull City at the weekend.

We all know how that jinx normally works.

Alan Judge - has been on fire (not literally) in October

Alan Judge – has been on fire (not literally) in October

Nick Bruzon

Brentford and Marinus – a supporter’s view of the season so far

12 Sep

Ahead of Brentford taking on Leeds United today, I was contacted by supporter Rob Young who has asked if he could share his own thoughts on the season so far. It’s fair to say that Brentford have had a hectic start to the campaign. The departure of Mark Warburton to Glasgow Rangers meant Marinus was on a hiding to nothing from some quarters before before he even joined. And then we had pitch gate. And injuries.

I’m always keen to hear other perspectives and, I have to say, Rob has put into words his feelings an awful lot better than I could hope to ever achieve.

Rob – over to you. Brentford, Marinus, the supporters, transfers et al…..

Firstly many thanks to Nick for allowing me to air my thoughts on the tempestuous start to the season.

I was hoping the dust would have settled a little since the Reading defeat and the influx of 3 new players at the end of the transfer window (and none leaving) may have ‘cooled’ the fervent negativity within our fan base. But reviewing the dreaded social media its seems the two week gap has done little to dampen the plethora of frustrations, anger and derision of the owner, management, coach and players. We are very much a bunch of fans in flux at the moment – bit like Stormont in Northern Ireland. Yes we have two tough games ahead and if we get one point from six I will be happy, but I guess many more will want a lynching if that is the end result.

I genuinely feel for Marnius, new job, new challenge and having to tread in the footsteps of one of the most liked, most successful and best managers our club has ever had. How he must have wished and dreamed for a solid start to win the hearts and minds of the loyal faithful. Only for fate and the power of cash rich Clubs see the backbone of his team ripped from under him. He must have, like many of us do, have had the perfect team in his head, dreaming of them doing the business on the pitch.

He would likely have planned a team built with one of the best Championship keepers in Button, the experienced Bjelland in front, and then Josh McEachran running midfield, Jota doing what he does best out wide and Andre Gray providing the spearhead.

View from the stands: Jota appeared against Ipswich and was then injured

View from the stands: Jota appeared against Ipswich and was then injured

To lose 3 of those to injury and one heading for the ‘out’ door after the first league game must have been a real kick in the teeth. Last season we were blessed with good fortune on the injury front. Yes, we lost Scott Hogan, but by and large we managed to keep the best players fit and on the field which played a huge part in our success.

Luck plays a huge part in success or failure, on the injury front Warbs got lucky, Marinus has not. Add Moses up and going and what Marinus had hoped to be his strongest XI was decimated through no fault of his own. No wonder he looks a somewhat forlorn figure on the side lines. Poor man must wonder what the hell he has let himself in for or what he did wrong in a past life.

I wanted to comment on something Nick did mention in one of his posts about Marinus and his body language. I have a lot of experience of working alongside Dutch people. They, like many different nationalities, have a lot of different traits to us. I also worked in Finland where I found out you were often presented with a stony silence during meetings and presentations, I thought I had crashed and burnt, it took me time to realize this was actually a good thing, they would speak only when unhappy. I have found the Dutch very friendly and passionate people, they can also be very arrogant, stubborn and straight talking but will show this usually on when on the edge. The remaining time they can be reserved and calm externally but fuming inside.

Marinus can come across as a solitary figure on match day

Marinus can come across as a solitary figure on match day

Like Warbs was different to Uwe, Marinus is different to Warbs. Different people, different traits. I recall it was usually David Weir laying into the officials and not Warbs, now I notice its Marinus who sounds off to the officials. Warbs drove his team from the side, Marinus takes a more statuesque role – that’s his way. Warbs liked a suit, Marinus is a clear tracksuit man. I don’t think he doesn’t care about what’s going on the pitch, he just has his own way of dealing with it, possibly that is in the dressing room. The fact he is not screaming and gesticulating shouldn’t be taken as a weakness, I think we just have to adjust to a man from a different culture which can be seen as laid back but is a likely as passionate and caring as he can be in his own way.

It’s only natural that people will compare Marinus to Warbs and how we play now to how we played last season. But this is now and not then. Let’s be honest against Reading we could have been 4 or 5 down at half time. But that happened last season as well. We rode our luck big time last season. How many times did we hear the ‘we’ll learn from it’ comment from Warbs.

I recall some saying ‘yes but when will we learn’. Don’t get me wrong I loved the way we played last season, but I also remember the howls of anguish of how risky we were playing out from the back, how open we were at times in our play. My good friend an Ipswich Town ST holder commented that we were a side with suicidal tendencies.

As we often saw if we didn’t score first we struggled to break teams down. Our strength was the counter attack as teams pushed to recover from being behind to us. High tempo, close passing, pass and move. It was wonderful but it all hinged on taking our chances because we were just as likely to ship two or three ourselves. Teams that did their homework knew how to spoil our game and we all know what Warbs approach to ‘plan B’ was.

Had Warbs stayed would he have changed our style this season? Would teams now we are in the second season syndrome know exactly what to expect and nullified our slick passing game? I didn’t want Warbs to go, I liked him – I liked him a lot, I would have liked him to take a chance on the owner’s new approach but that wasn’t ever going to happen. He moved on and so must we. But let’s give the new man some credit, he will change formation, he will make the substitution we may not expect, he does have a plan B and C.

Warbs - had success, even if no Plan B, at Griffin Park

Warbs – had success, even if no Plan B, at Griffin Park

We all know Warbs view was the ‘on the hour sub’, and usually always the same 3 subs. Marinus has had to juggle his pack given the limited resources to hand and until he has a full complement of resources how can we be sure of what he can do with them. No one wanted this start to the season, but given all that has happened how can we panic so soon until the team is again at the strength that was planned? Was our expectation too high from too many who have only known success of the last 3 years?

I hear the voices of those who have concerns but some of these fans have only known good times over the last 6 years or so, some even less than that. They crave instant gratification and expect we now have a divine right to be top of the league marching to the Promised Land because we came 5th, so now is our turn for automatic promotion! Maybe the disquiet comes amongst the ranks because we expected to keep every member of the squad and only add even better players to that squad.

Life and football, unfortunately is not like that, sometime you have to go back to go forward. Many of us remember the times of 4000-5000 attendances and the dodgy signings and dodgy managers and false hope and promises. We are a million miles from where we were then. Even at this current state of flux we are better off and we must never forget that or how and who got us here.

I heard people say Reading were a ‘poor side’ – I actually felt they were a lot better than last season, stronger at the back, quicker and slicker up front, they signed 11 players changed their squad and are unbeaten. They struggled last season, but so did Brighton and look at them now. We have to accept other teams will improve from last year and others will do worse it’s the nature of the Championship the toughest league to get out of. Just because we have not hit out straps from the start does not mean we are going to do a Blackpool. What right do we have after a mere 1 season and 4 games to be top?

Reading  - terrible kit; good team

Reading – terrible kit; good team

We need to allow the new team, players and management alike, to get to grips to the challenge ahead they are not blind to what needs to be done and we have to stop thinking about last year and stop thinking we are a slippery slope to disaster because we have not started like a train. I am a pessimist and even I believe the glass is half full.

The way some seem to see it the pub is dry let alone the glass! We were going to strengthen this season no matter what but I was always clear in my mind this would be a year of consolidation on our goal to long term sustainability. I would have settled for staying up last year, and would do the same this year as we rebuild. I feel the pain too readily of the last relegation at this level and I don’t want to feel it again. But those times were under a different leadership, different perspective and with a different end game.

Yes we should be aiming as high as possible and never accepting second best, aiming to be better year on year but we also need to do that in a measured way. We over achieved last year in my view, only the fate of others in the last weeks got us into the play offs and it hurts me to say but we were not good enough to go up. I forecasted openly before the end of the season that 5 or 6 players would leave (not including the obvious loan and 1 year contract boys).

I was right on a couple of names in Tony Craig and Dougie but didn’t foresee some of other players going, but was pragmatic enough to know we were never going to keep everyone and it was likely some big assets would be amongst those to move on. Berating the owner and club for the fact some on the team have moved on is nonsensical. Do people really believe Mr. Benham would invest in everything he has done so far just to reap the rewards in the transfer market? People need to understand the current stupidity of the English transfer market which dictates why you have to look at foreign players with lower cost implications for the next rising talent.

Selling Andre was a no brainer at 9 million for me, he could have been the next injury victim and then where would we have been? Look at B’muff, 8 million for Tyrone Mings, now he is out all season, Ipswich are the ones who truly benefited and got a good replacement for minimal outlay. We also need to be clear and understand as supporters that as much as we have great loyalty to our club the likes of Kevin O’Connor are a thing of the past now – players will do what’s right for them and their future in what is a short career. We always say once a Bee always a Bee – but can Moses (or even Andre) ever truly have a level of loyalty after just one season.

Personally I am relatively happy with the influx of new players – ok they may not be all home grown, but go review most Championship sides and you will find plenty of non-home grown players in their squads. We have to find the next ‘star’ by looking outside of these shores due to the costs demanded of quality English players, it is about finding that ‘star’ before someone else does. I like the current new boys, I believe they all have something to offer and once they have settled I am sure things will click and players who are being berated currently will ultimately prove to be of great benefit.

Some may not make it we have to accept that but plenty will. It was interesting to see much being made of the signing of Ryan Woods – “at last an English player” was one comment I saw. I retorted that as long as he can do the job, gives 100% and wears the shirt with pride does his nationality matter? It was mentioned back to me the importance of an Englishman who knew the nature of our game…and who speaks the language. I have no doubt Ryan is an excellent signing, I am excited about him joining but the lad no matter how good he is has league 1 and 2 experience to date, the pace of Championship football is vastly different as those who have come from overseas are finding. I just hope we are not thrusting too much expectation from day one because he is English.

Ryan Woods  - now a Bee, regardless of nationality

Ryan Woods – now a Bee, regardless of nationality

The comment about the pace of the Championship and someone speaking English was I thought interesting. I made an assumption that the correspondent was openly taking a pop at KK – who to be fair has loads of energy but still needs to find his feet. I have seen enough to think he will make the grade. But let’s also be honest and say he was surely going to be a backup midfielder to McEachran. If KK was the player being targeted to be replaced by our English style midfielder let’s not forget Toums was at the heart of the team versus Reading, someone to has played in England for many seasons with plenty of experience of both Championship and League 1, who speaks English perfectly yet was totally off the pace and looked out of his depth.

I think Toums has looked a shadow of the player he was last season, someone commented to me he was back to his pre-Portsmouth loan form, I had to agree. Some said he was missing Dougie, to me he looks to have lost confidence and his composure on the ball – can this be because Douglas has gone, if so I think that a weak excuse, he should be stepping up and being the most experienced on the pitch taking the lead. I thought his removal was the right thing to do, too often he was in no man’s land and Macca gave us a better bite and tenacity.

Talking of Dougie, and I know there are many who point to a void now he has gone, I refer back to my Ipswich Town friend, who has now watched all the games in which he has played for his new club – his view was “what exactly does he do, beyond being slow” – the ground swell is there is Jay Tabb is losing out to Dougie and some locals are not happy!

No one in their right mind can feel happy with the way things have panned out that’s for sure, and that surely includes Matthew Benham and the management of the club. Football as we all know is about opinions and it is everyone’s right to voice their view how they feel they wish. I can remember many years back feeling the wroth of those who stood around me on the New Road terrace (as it was then) as we disagreed with tactics, players and the management of the time. So much so that in the end I chose to view home matches from elsewhere, in the process losing touch with many I had shared space with week in week out for many years. We were each entitled to our views but did it really change anything?

Older and wiser I know now the only thing divided support does is, especially in a small ground such as ours, is transmit the divided views and nervousness of the support or lack of it on to the pitch and to the players. Many have quite rightly voiced their frustrations and anger over the performance against Reading – which needs no further elaboration on.

However the excellent overview from the chairman and the calls from Skipper Jake Bidwell for unity along with the comments from Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen all surely need to be heeded. Much was made last season about the atmosphere at Griffin Park and how it helped the players. This I feel has been sadly missing in both our home league games, split opinions of the fans can only be prevent this atmosphere from being generated. Fans are turning on fans, many are quick to damn the new players, the coach, management and owner.

I stood in the hive having a beer over hearing so much negative clap trap I wondered if this was possibly the same club as last year. Had we transferred in moaning fans from another west London club? Yes, we are all entitled to an opinion but for heaven’s sake this is really achieving nothing, when it’s not running your way the team need us to lift them. Negativity spreads and it’s spreading throughout the club like a virus. I’ll be honest my days amongst the singing section are long past, but when we are up against it, no matter how bad we have played I believe those playing for the club need our undivided support from all sides, no matter how we chose to deliver it.

Now is the time for us to remember where we have come from in such a short period, and that this is about the longer sustainability for our club. We could go the QPR route and break the rules and throw good money after bad. Or we can follow a different path and try and find a different route to success within our means. Then again we could lose our benefactor and slowly slip into the abyss of the lower leagues and go backwards again. I don’t know him but I am pretty sure I know which way Matthew wants to take us and for that I give him, the management, Marinus and our squad my faith and belief that they will do everything possible without risking our club’s future to deliver that success we all desire.

C’mon you Bees!

Matthew Benham wins at Twitter, again, as Bjelland joins Bees.

2 Jul

Well played to the local press as a second, rumoured, transfer was confirmed in less than a week. This time, Danish international centre back Andreas Bjelland was the man to join Brentford, from FC Twente, following hot on the heels of Konstantin Kerschbaumer.

As ever, all the pertinent information is available on the BBC, the club site, Beesotted and just about any other news source going. I’ll leave you to pick through those at your leisure, suffice to say that signing a player of this calibre (21 full international caps including three of their Euro 2016 qualifiers) is a massive statement of intent from Matthew Benham.

As ever though, this column is less about the ‘proper’ stuff and more about the associated bits on the side that may not get so much of a public airing. And whilst Matthew may be looking to make a statement on the pitch, off it he continues to lead the way.

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, it’s the annual clean up to make more space on the site for the inevitable follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are ! 

Thumbs up for the new team

Thumbs up for the new team