Tag Archives: Glasgow

I’m glad I support Brentford rather than one big fish in a rapidly stagnating pond. And Dean speaks

5 Jul

Football is slowly waking up. This time last year, we were talking about Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar beating Celtic 1-0 in the Champions League qualifiers. Quite possibly the most embarrassing results in Scottish football history (to add to an already long list) yet last night they were equalled by fellow Glasgow side Rangers when the fourth best team in Luxembourg, part timers Progrès Niederkorn, knocked them out of Europe. And closer to home, Brentford boss Dean Smith has been up in front of the Sky sports cameras.

Ordinarily these pages wouldn’t look at the Scottish game but Rangers have held a bit of a fascination in recent years, given the circumstances which saw former Brentford boss Mark Warburton both join and leave the Ibrox club. “You walk around the stadium, the first time for me this morning, and you smell the history” he said upon becoming their manager in June 2015.

I’m sure this morning they’ll be smelling something rather different North of the border and Warbs will be very pleased with his decision to resign prior to joining Nottingham Forest. Internet bookmaker PaddyPower have already declared Celtic as league Champions prior to a ball being kicked although, to be fair, most bookies have them as 1/9 on at best to lift that particular silverware.

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Other bookmakers are also available

For all the ongoing talk about these two ‘giants’ of Scottish football joining the English Premier League, the totally one sided nature of their domestic league along with results such as those against Progrès or Lincoln show how out of touch they sadly are these days. A point made all the more apparent as after limping past the Gibraltarians last season, Celtic then endured complete capitulation in the group stages, failing to reach the Europa League whilst also suffering a 7(seven) goal bracketing.

Winning at home is nice, but to watch such consistently uncompetitive football must become a somewhat soul destroying affair. Where’s the genuine competition? Where’s the excitement? What’s the point when you win your league by a country mile or get kicked off the park the moment the competition hots up a bit. With your closest historical rival a shadow of their former selves, it really gives off the impression of going through the motions. Give me the Championship any day of the week.

Which is why the return to our own league campaign cannot come soon enough. Nobody could claim this division is one sided. Anything but, with Newcastle United’s title win going right down to the wire last season whilst Brentford have claimed more than their fair share of illustrious scalps over the last three campaigns. Three top ten finishes have surprised more than a few people outside of TW8 (most notably Ian Holloway) and I’m desperate for us to give this division another try.

The good news is that the Bees are now back in training and yesterday, ‘official’ released a video of head coach Dean Smith talking to Sky Sports News.

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Dean Smith spoke to Sky

In the interview, which you can see below, Dean sounds über positive. He talks about having had lots of fresh ideas and sharing our own sentiments that its good to be back after a long break. He has confirmed his top six aspirations along with a desire to keep hold of last seasons squad. Moreso given our strong finish to the campaign.

Then, somewhat randomly, the interview changes tack with the second half being taken up with a discourse on penalties. The recent England – Germany U-21 game. Dean Smith’s philosophy on penalty taking. As a player and as a head coach. It went on. I was half expecting him to be quizzed on Marcello Trotta.

A shame really,, as this was a somewhat wasted opportunity from Sky to dig into our plans, our set up and mindset. To find out how Dean has continued the great work already done by Warbs, Lee Carsley and, of course, the team behind the team.

A missed opportunity?

Then again, I’m more than happy being the underdog. Being that unfancied, under the radar team. Catching the likes of Leeds United, Derby County, Aston Villa, Mr Holloway et al with their pants down.

Nobody can deny the likes of Rangers and Celtic have huge stadiums, even bigger fan bases and plenty of historical honours. Likewise that Griffin Park is still only a 12,000 capacity ground with a trophy cabinet that is emptier than Arsenal’s.

But who wants to be the one big fish in a rapidly stagnating pond of tadpoles? A fish that gets gobbled up the moment any invasive species appears from the continent. The Championship, and beyond, is where it’s all at. Where the real action happens. Where real football takes place.

It’s July 5th. This time next month proceedings begin in anger with out trip to Sheffield United. I really cannot wait. It promises to be even bigger and better than ever before.

Nick Bruzon

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

Bees go bonkers and Twitter explodes as Jota is recalled.

31 Dec

The visit of Norwich City has suddenly taken second place as Brentford confirmed that Jota has been recalled from his loan spell in Spain with Eibar. Rangers fans convinced that the Spaniard was heading North of the border to be reunited with former manager Mark Warburton will, instead, have to console themselves with being beaten by Celtic (probably).

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He’s coming home

With the team crying out for somebody of his ability, this is just fantastic news. Having become a Griffin Park legend in a such a short space of time, fans were devastated (albeit sympathetic) when he  was allowed to return to Spain for personal reasons.

Having said at the time that: “This isn’t “goodbye” but more of a “see you later”, that promise is now about to be fulfilled . Not surprisingly, Twitter has exploded. Within minutes his name was trending in London whilst the reaction from fans was as expected.

All the news about his return is on ‘official’ although the jist of it seems to be that Jota will be available for the FA Cup tie against Eastleigh. Now there’s a way to make an entrance…

WELCOME BACK, JOTA !!!!!!!!

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As Rangers rumours get a little mixed up, Tom and Tom raise spirits with video double

22 Dec

Well, that was an odd day for Brentford fans. With the Rangers  / Jota story now changing tack in the Scottish press to suggest that former Bees boss Mark Warburton has flown to Spain to speak directly to the popular midfielder, South of the border those reports have been roundly, erm, scotched.

For one reason, I can’t believe this has happened purely because it would represent a totally illegal approach to a player still contracted to Brentford. Rangers wouldn’t break the rules in this fashion, would they ?

Warbs only ever came across as nothing but an honourable man at Griffin Park. Who could forget his performance on Sky Sports News after the Village-gate story about his eventual departure from Griffin Park broke. He was nothing but the consummate gentleman and professional defending both the club and Mr. Benham as he looked to rally his troops and supporters.

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

Ok . Let’s say for argument’s sake that Mark had taken a quick Spanish holiday where he happened to bump into Jota.  Are we really expected to believe he’s then gone telling the local media? As ever, the ’stories’ are supported by nothing more authoritative than that coverall phrase “Record Sport understands” (something as concrete as : “a source close to the club”) to describe a “secret trip at some point in the last seven days”.

One can only assume the Rangers manager is speaking to his lawyers at the moment or contacting the paper to retract this article. The position it now places him in would seem one at odds with the rules of how football is governed and transfer business is carried out.

Thankfully, West London’s Premier Journalist Tom Moore was on hand to save the day and dampen the hopes of the Ibrox faithful.

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Jota isn’t going to Rangers – Tom has it on the nose

His article – which is well worth a look just for the video shot in a live office environment where Tom is, at times, drowned out by the woman who deals with the competitions on line – pours cold water on any such rumours.

Catching up with Dean Smith, Tom quotes the Brentford head coach as saying : “I know we’ve had no contact from Rangers. He’s our player and they’d have to come through us first..….I’m sure that’s just speculation. I’m not sure Mark would go out there to speak to one of our players. They would have to contact us to speak to one of our players for sure.”

Perhaps Rangers are best focussing on an equally bizarre story – their Twitter spat (is there a finer phrase in cyberspace?) with Little Mix over the Christmas Number One  – rather than pursuing a player they have no authority over. If, indeed, they are actually doing so. Hmm. A rumour gone wild? Who’d have thought it?

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The aforementioned video also includes Tom’s take on the Scott Hogan speculation, our current form ( “Good enough to survive in the division but not good enough at this stage to reach the top six in the league”) and who he sees as our standout player. Take a look. It’s a good one….

The other video to catch the eye yesterday was one which appeared on Twitter. Whilst we’ve probably all seen this, it is one so good it deserves another look. Take a bow, Tom Field.

Surely a full 90 minutes are next on the agenda. Not only are we yet to concede a league goal when he is on the pitch but now he’s only goner and pulled this out of the hat….

Nick Bruzon

No, no, no, no, nooooo, Jota! Is there any truth to Rangers rumour?

20 Dec

Is Jota leaving Eibar in January? Is Rangers (Glasgow, not Loftus Road) rather than Brentford his likely destination? Are local journalists simply hopping on the coat tails of the Scottish Sun to blow one of the usual plethora of rumours that appear at this time of year out of all proportion ?

Certainly, to read the legion of headlines one could be forgiven for imagining the talismanic midfielder is currently hot footing  it towards Rangers, having played his last for both Brentford and Eibar. The aforementioned Sun have run the ‘stories’ (please note: your definition of stories may vary) with quotes as definitve as “The Gers boss has enquired about a loan switch” and “Jota has been strongly linked”  – with Rangers.

And then in the usual lemming like rush for click bait generating headlines, the likes of Get West London, Here Is The City, The Daily Record and even something called ‘Football Insider’ have followed suit.

All tell a similar story. Nothing of any, actual, substance and simply the admission from  Eibar sporting director Fran Garagarza that Jota is ‘within his rights’ to ask for his loan from Brentford to be terminated once the January window opens.

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Jota – when will we see you again?

The one thing we can say for sure is that the Spaniard hasn’t been high up the pecking order at Eibar. But even if he was to leave, would he really go to Ibrox?

Sure, league wise there’s the chance to be a very big fish in a very small pond but the simple fact is that he remains our player. Brentford have no need to sell and his return would be both a wonderful psychological boost for a team that sit just three wins below the play-off spots for the Premier League.

If nothing else, surely Dean Smith is fighting tooth and nail to secure the return of somebody who is one of HIS players? Just imagine the link up with goal machine Scott Hogan? The option of a ball from the flank aswell as the one through the middle.

We don’t normally do ‘rumours’ on these pages. Mainly because the vast majority that have appeared over the years have proven to be unsubstantiated. The said, the locals did have a good summer this year but this one seems a headline too far.

If any midfield move is in the offing it will, surely, be through the outdoor. Konstantin Kerschbaumer’s exit must be as nailed on to happen as his backside currently is to the substitute’s bench. I’ve no evidence to support this beyond my own eyes –  what he has to do to get a game is beyond me but it seems one relationship that has been fatally holed below the waterline.

With the window opening in a couple of weeks it could be a painful ride through until the end of January. We’ll no doubt be inundated with more of these headlines (see also: Scott Hogan) from our friends in the media who would report transfer activity in a packet of cereal if it meant a headline. And yes I’ve used that one before but, frankly, I like the excuse to crowbar in the graphic.

The one thing I’d bet my hat on is that there’ll be no Mark Warburton / Jota reunion.

At least, at Rangers…..

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This sort of transfer activity always popular

Nick Bruzon

How do Bees fare against Monaco, Manchester City and Celtic in the pre-season buzz?

26 Jul

The season is almost here. New kits. New signings. New season tickets now in the post. Brentford, of course, have now unveiled their new strip which, presumably, will see another airing for the home version agasint Peterborough tonight. But we aren’t alone. Celtic took a (double) trip into the bizarre yesterday whilst AS Monaco and Manchester City are amongst those promoting themselves in unique style ahead of the big kick off.

First up, as ever, Brentford. The big talking point from Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Kaiserslautern was nothing to do with the on pitch matters but more one about the kit. Wonderful though it is, the universal opinion seemed to be that the shirt numbers were somewhat ‘tricky’ to read.

Very retro” was the diplomatic verdict from the Beesplayer team as they discussed this during the first half. Adding, “It’s a good job we know the players”. Was this fair? Will we get used to them? Could the players see a patch having to be added to the reverse? Will the football league change their font? More than likely, we’ll all just have to get used to it. Family time meant Saturday was a game too far but here’s to tonight and seeing the new kit in action, under floodlights. I’m sure it’ll all be fine.

The other thing that has impressed me about the new Brentford shirt was the way the launch was handled. For obvious reason there may be a slight element of bias but using the supporters was a wonderful idea.

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The new kit is available now

But it wasn’t just this. It was the subtle yet classy way we did this. No OTT catchphrases. None of those dreaded hashtags. Just a series of great (player) photos.

The same can’t be said about others. With passage to the third round of the Champion’s League now assured after edging past Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar 3-1 over two legs, Celtic have safely launched their third kit. And it is one born in the history of their European cup triumph of 1967.

#IfYouKnowYourHistory says the launch hashtag. And enough, but it is what the blurb says about the inspiration for a somewhat gaudy colour scheme that really intrigues. Apparently the shirt has been inspired by the colours used on the match ticket for the 1967 final, with the electric pink and black design honouring the ‘Lisbon Lions’ team.

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A historical inspiration – supposedly

It’s tenuous but if true then who am I to argue. It’s just a shame that, in choosing to honour what is probably the biggest moment in the club’s history, Celtic have done so in such appalling fashion. It is a shirt which, in this kit nerd’s opinion, gets a direct pass to the hall of shame.

Social media was awash with commentary, most of it less than favourable. Almost as much for the picture published (which since seems to have been removed), of new signing Kolo Toure. Perhaps he’d been shown the new kit just before the photo was taken?

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Happy to have joined

If Brentford have looked to take a different approach to kit launch this season, we aren’t alone. Over in France, AS Monaco have released a video to help with theirs. Sadly, this isn’t in the same ball park as the infamous Blackburn Rover’s effort  – Birdy’s date – instead being somewhat tasteful and rather innovative .

Virtual Reality – words not heard since the late 80’s and pixel laden video games accompanied by ill-fitting headsets and impossible controls. Well, it’s back (albeit via the medium of YouTube, and has been used on the Monaco kit launch.

With the release of a new kit becoming more and more a ‘big thing’ , one does wonder where this is going to go next. We’ve certainly come a long way since a photo in the programme or our own ‘reveal in the bathroom shop window’.

Monaco breaking new ground

Finally, have you got your new season ticket as yet? With the cards and wallets coming through letter boxes as we speak, it’s another indication of the forthcoming season. This has done nothing but further whet the appetite although I do wonder if it might have been possible to have some variety in design or even for of the year embossed onto the card or holder.

I guess this was for reasons of cost / continuation of design but football fans are, in many cases, completists and collectors. I have drawers full of the things from seasons gone by, as do many others. Being able to look back over them is a hugely sentimental / nostalgic thing for many. If the marketing chaps are reading, perhaps a small ask for next season?

Looking at Manchester City, their ticket has been despatched in a collectors box with pin badge for their new, old crest. Perhaps somewhat outside of our budget range and a tad OTT but, equally, you can’t deny it is a well meaning touch.

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Nick Bruzon

Super Lincoln go ballistic, Celtic were atrocious

12 Jul

It’s been done before. I don’t care! Brentford fans, you get your ‘Last Word’ fix tomorrow.Right now, let’s just cut to the chase and reflect on the enormity of Lincoln Red Imps (champions of Gibraltar) beating Celtic (one time European cup winners) 1-0 in the Champion’s League .

Long have these pages celebrated those fleeting moments of triumph from this most fledgling of footballing nations. Long have we absorbed the mocking of Spanish (and other) supporters.

Yet, yet, yet…. write off anybody at your peril when it comes to football. Forget the statistics. Forget the futsal. Forget the tippy-tappy. When it comes down to it, there’s only one thing that counts – the result after 90 minutes.

“A result which ranks as the most embarrassing in Celtic’s history.” Not my words but those of journalism’s, The Independent.

“The Shock of Gibraltar: Celtic beaten by minnows in Brendan Rodgers’ first match.” Not my words but those of The Mail.

Brendan Rodgers’ first game as Celtic boss ended in humiliation as his Hoops side were humbled 1-0 by Lincoln Red Imps in in the first leg of their second Champions League qualifier at the Victoria stadium.” Not my words etc.etc…. The Telegraph.

“Celtic suffered arguably the worst defeat in their history when they were humbled by Gibraltarian part-timers Lincoln Red Imps in the Champions League second qualifying round.” This time from the BBC.

“We wanted an easier job after the first leg, and this makes it a bit more complicated, but we will be fine for the second game.” Most definitely not my words but those of Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.

Brendan, I wouldn’t be so sure.

It was a scoreline you can only dream of.Let’s not forget that Gibraltar (pop 30,000ish) have only been UEFA members since 2013.  If Iceland beating England in the Euros may have been deemed an upset, this one comes in at an 11 on the Richter scale of shocks.

Forget sleeping giants. This was a sleeping policeman. MOD police office Lee Casciaro giving Rodgers a (cardiac) arrest in his first competitive game at the helm of Celtic.

No, being the clear answer

What more can you say? Celtic are still giving it large, despite having lost. On reputation and history then surely they will sweep the boys from Gibraltar to one side in the second leg next week.

The again, on reputation and history they should have done that on Tuesday night.

What a result. Congratulations to Lincoln Red Imps in producing a shock on the Rock. Here’s to the second leg…..

Nick Bruzon

 

Bees, Dragons, Saints and Imps. As one dream dies, another continues

7 Jul

What a night and what a result. Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar set up a Champions League qualifying tie with Celtic after sweeping aside FC Flora Tallinn 0f Estonia 2-0 ( 3-2 aggregate). In other news, Portugal edged past Wales to reach the final of EURO 2016 whilst, for Brentford fans, could the new Southampton shirt offer cause for optimism/fear?

We’ll start, briefly, in Gibraltar where the local champions set up that intriguing encounter for Brendan Rodgers in his first competitive game as the new Celtic manager. What’s this got to do with me, you may ask? Well, aside from personal pride you may recall that Brentford owner Matthew Benham’s other team, FC Midtjylland, locked horns with the Imps at this stage last season.

After a hard fought first leg the Danes eventually ran out 3-0 winners but, it would be fair to say, performances have stepped up even more since then. With a huge swathe of the national team (who of course scored their first competitive goal against Scotland) representing the Imps, anybody taking this one as a foregone conclusion would be urged to think again.

Next up , Brentford. With supporters awaiting the first news about our new kit (which, of course, has been hinted at coming out later this week), Southampton have released their latest incarnation.

Again, something which on the surface may not have much to do with us but I’m always intrigued by how manufacturers can provide a new twist on red and white stripes. And, it would be fair to say, The Saints have done that.

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A shirt that may well divide fans

Along with the stripes, technical sponsor Under Armour appear to have incorporated some sort of bra motif into the shoulder panels. The closest thing I can compare it to is our own Osca 83-84  – the one with the all white top half.

Initial shock has slowly turned into begrudging admiration. I’m not sure I’d be overly pleased if Mark Devlin was to reveal this as our new design but you can’t deny it’s different. Besides, with nothing this outlandish in the Adidas catalogue, I can only imagine we’re at least a few seasons away from anything this unusual.

The other point of note around this is: manufacturers blurb. According to the website, “The stripes appear in blocks of five to represent Southampton’s five core brand values.”. Although it fails to note what these values are. Let’s hope that when our new design is revealed to the world, we avoid such nonsense.

And , finally, the Welsh dream is over. It was a stunning effort to get as far as they did and, for a while, looked as though the game was going to go all the way though extra time and beyond. In the end though, it was ‘that man’ who proved the difference.

Say what you want about Cristiano Ronaldo – and many have, myself included – but the power and technique in the header for the opening goal, which he connected with at a height of 7ft 10″,  could only be applauded.

The less said about his subsequent celebration (or that bizarre spearmint coloured kit), the better.

Nick Bruzon

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Osca 83-84. Better than spearmint. No core values

 

 

Incoming. Do we have incoming as Cup final more than delivers?

22 May

Well, that was a day. Manchester United and Mark Clattenburg beat Crystal Palace to win the FA Cup whilst North of the border, former Bees boss Mark Warburton saw his Rangers side go down to Hibernian in the Scottish equivalent. As for the main news, it would seem we have incoming at Brentford – Matthew Benham has fired up the cryptic clue generator once more.

But I need to start with the FA Cup final, simply because it had the footballing community gripped. And, as is so often the case, it was what happened off the pitch that provided many of the talking points. Certainly for the so called ‘neutrals’ – although how many can ever be neutral in a game involving Manchester United remains to be seen. Of those I spoke to, most were cheering on Goliath rather than David in the hope that Crystal Palace could lift that famous trophy.

Where do you start ? Alan Pardew’s dancing, surely. With Jason Puncheon giving Palace a deserved lead his manager couldn’t help but launch into an touchline routine as he channelled his inner John Travolta. And it was bad. Like the worst of dad at a wedding after a few too many beers. More Alan Partridge than Alan Pardew.

Yet who am I to criticise? If you win it makes you even more of a hero and adds to the moment. There can’t be too many managers to have seen their side take the lead in an FA Cup final and so fairplay to him for enjoying the moment. Even if it was, almost literally, a moment as United equalised within minutes.

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BBC viewers saw Alan Pardew in ‘wedding mode’

If nothing else, it is something that is sure to go down in Cup history like Trevor Brooking’s header (apparently, he scored once and West Ham won the cup), Chas and Dave, Radford’s rocket (yawn) and the White Horse.

I hadn’t realised this but apparently Palace and Manchester United had met in the Cup Final before. Back in 1990. I was out of the room at one point getting a drink but I’m pretty sure I came back just in time to hear that fact mentioned.

And then again. And again. And again. The BBC had a crowbar and they were going to use it. I had ‘1990‘ on my FA Cup bingo card (along with ‘Fellaini elbow‘ – which took longer than expected) more as a token gesture than anything else. Sure enough, the BBC obliged.

We had the obligatory feature with Ian Wright during the build up. Specifically revisiting the estate he grew up on and the patch of grass where he played football as a youngster. I’m sure we’ve seen variants of this before, many times, but it’s still such an inspirational story. I loved the fact the BBC had gone ‘old school’ and, like last year, had a whole series of final related shows and features starting about five hours before kick off.

Ah yes, before kick off.  When the players should have been walking onto the pitch proceedings were delayed as the FA Cup tried to go ‘Super Bowl’ – but on a budget of 50p. Instead of the Rolling Stones or Coldplay (thank heavens for small mercies) , we had Tinie Tempah bouncing around a purpose built stage on the centre circle.

Perhaps this delay was the reason for the subsequent ‘sound malfunction’ with the National Anthem. What a moment in any singer’s career. With the eyes of the world watching, this was her time to shine.

Yet  as the band started, former X-Factor contestant Karen Harding stood motionless, clutching the microphone to her waist and waiting for I don’t know what. “Has she forgotten to sing?” asked Mrs. Bruzon on the sofa next to me.

To be honest, I don’t know what happened. Stage fright? Abject terror? Brain freeze? Or just missed her cue? Even if there had been an issue with her earpiece, would the fact that there were 100,000 people in the stadium singing not have been a clue?

I guess we’ll never know the real reason. Karen joined the rest of us in time to sing the last 9 (nine) words. Like Pardew’s dancing, it was another moment that will be written into the FA Cup’s already voluminous history.

She got there in the end

As for the game, Jesse Lingard’s extra time winner was a goal to light up any Cup Final (Boom – the sound of another cliche going off). It was a wonderful strike to give United the lead after Juan Mata had hauled them back into it, courtesy of some brilliance from Wayne Rooney.

The X-men actor and England man revelling in his midfield position as he provided a stunning assist for the equaliser. Rooney’s name may not have been on it but his strength and purpose as he worked with the ball for what seemed an eternity deserve genuine recognition.

Mata’s equaliser had the additional bonus of meaning BBC coverage over ran further and, as a result, saw the subsequent cancellation of the alleged comedy ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys’. It was only a shame that the same privilege couldn’t be extended to Michael McIntyre following full time.

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Mrs Brown – thanks Wayne and Juan

The other person needing special mention was referee Mark Clattenburg. Twice in the first half he stopped proceedings and denied Palace genuine goal scoring opportunity, instead bringing the ball back for their ‘advantage’. Once was bad enough but to do it a second time had even Alan Pardew making note.

The irony of former referee Mark Halsey’s comments last year that Clattenburg should have had the 2015 final were not lost. At the time he was quoted on the BBC as saying:

I’m amazed that they’ve not given him the final…

“I would imagine that Jon Moss will feel a little bit sheepish that he doesn’t really deserve it and Mark Clattenburg does.”

“How many times has Mark done massive games? He’s done the Uefa Super Cup this year, big Champions League games and earned plaudits. It just doesn’t make sense.

Well, Mark. There’s your answer.

At the end of the day (Clive), Manchester United won it. You can’t deny them their moment and, certainly, they celebrated like they’d just beaten Leyton Orient (Russell? Russell?? Russell……?). Players, fans and management were ecstatic. Understandably so.

Likewise, congratulations must be offered to Louis van Gaal and his team. I’m sure they’ll both grow from here and the Dutchman will be a force to be reckoned with next season. Now he has a first trophy under his belt, his stock is sure to be rising with the Old Trafford board.

As for matters North of the border, Hibernian beat Rangers 3-2 to lift the Scottish cup. Sadly it wasn’t quite to be for Mark Warburton although I’m sure he’ll be more than happy with a season that has seen his team promoted to the top flight.

David Gray scored a late winner for Hibs which, aswell as sparking a post match pitch invasion / riot (delete as applicable) also saw our own Matthew Benham launch the cryptic clue generator once more.

Matthew posting a YouTube video on Twitter is a well known sign in Brentford circles that a new player is about to come to Griffin Park. The only problem with these being that they normally require a doctorate in brain surgery in order to decode – even after you know the answer.

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Matthew posted this on Saturday evening

This one seems remarkably simple. David Gray singing ‘This Year’s love’. Surely there was more to this than Mathew’s intent to sign the Scottish full back?

His clues are never this simple. Sledge hammer like unsubtly just isn’t Matthew’s style.

Could this mark a new approach from our owner?  Transfer news being announced by a clue that even yours truly can unravel? Or is there a hidden message in there ?

I’ve not got the time to decipher David’s lyrics to try and find out whilst, being honest, nor would I want to. It’s for good reason the ‘Babylon’ singer is currently residing in popular music’s ‘Where Are They Now?’ files

As ever with Matthew, I’m sure the answer isn’t what it seems at first glance. It could be as simple as his having had a bet on Hibs to win the cup.

Then again, I’ll have my eyes on Brentford official this Monday. Just in case…..

And finally, as ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download.  Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same.  We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thank you for reading.

Nick Bruzon