Tag Archives: Ipswich Town

Brentford, Blackburn or Nottingham Forest? Who will win (or lose by less)?

6 May

This is it. The last weekend of the season with so much excitement still to come. And that’s just off pitch where the club have asked fans to dig out their retro shirts to mark the occasion of our current crest (badge) making one final appearance before being retired. Then there’s the small matter of Mark Warburton and Nottingham Forest hoping Brentford can do them a favour when Blackburn Rovers are the visitors to Griffin Park. With Birmingham City still not safe either, live on TV we’ve Sunday’s relegation shootout.

So what will happen? Will Brentford take the foot off the gas and Blackburn survive? Can Forest get the home win they need and hope their goals are sufficient? Both they and Rovers are locked on the same points and so if they match each others results, it comes down to goal difference. Which is currently -13 Forest and -14 Rovers. It could even turn into a case of whoever loses less heavily stays up.

And I have to say that because I fully expect Brentford to win. We’ve a chance to get up to 8th place, which would be one better than last season. Then again, for that to happen it means we need  to rely on victories for both Rotherham United and QPR. We’ve got to be realistic here.

But a win for the Bees, something that is in our hands, will see us surpass last season points total by two. That alone will be incentive for Dean Smith and a team that I fully expect to be focussed on going out in style.

I feel for the Nottingham Forest and Blackburn supporters in their having to rely on another result. Moreso, from teams who they may think are already on the beach or, in our case, at the Player of the Year awards that are taking place later on Sunday night. However, I refer you back to season 2014/15.

This was Brentford’s first in the Championship and Mark Warburton was looking to go out in style. Despite a little wobble towards the end, the Bees went into that final weekend needing to beat Wigan Athletic then rely on a slip up from Derby County or Ipswich Town in order to make the play offs. The Rams were home to hapless Reading and needed just a point to secure their own spot. We’d beaten the Royals a week earlier and they looked awful. Ipswich were on fire though and, likewise, avoiding defeat was all they needed.

On an incredible afternoon, BOTH results went our way. Despite taking an early lead at Ewood, the Tractor Boys were eventually reigned in and went down 3-2. As for Derby, they missed an early penalty and hit the self-destruct from that point. A 0-3 home loss to a bang average team with nothing, absolutely nothing, to play for was as unexpected as it was hilarious.

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Post Wigan: Err. You know that holiday? Well, Derby and Ipswich have both lost.

The point being that strange results can happen. That the team who appear to have nothing to play for on paper won’t just switch off. We’ve definitely been the beneficiaries of this fact in the past.

However on Sunday, and I take no pleasure from this prediction, my gut feeling is that Brentford are going to be the executioners. We’ve more than just pride to play for. For Blackburn Rovers to stay up, it’s going to have to rely on Nottingham Forest losing by more than they do.

Then again, as has been said many times, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. Take results based advice from these pages with a huge dollop of caution. Indeed, given the aforementioned favour they did us, there’s a big part of me that hopes Blackburn losing by less than Forest is the way this one plays out. Everybody in TW8 can go home smiling. Especially if Rotherham and (something I can’t believe we need or want to happen) QPR also win.

Then again, there’s the Mark Warburton factor. A hero to many at Griffin Park, could we take any pleasure from putting a nail in his Championship coffin? Perhaps it’s not one to overthink. Let’s just go out and let the football do the talking – whatever will be will be.

Besides, there’s more to think about off field. I make no secret of being a kit nerd and the club putting out this challenge to supporters has got me intrigued.

Just what could we see? What will the fans’  ‘favourite’ be? Does anybody even own that wonderful Hummel-lite version from 94-95; our first to feature the current crest (badge)? Is there a Samvo shirt out there that still has the sponsor intact rather than having disintegrated the first time it went through the washing machine?

On a personal note, I’ve whittled it down to a choice of three. Or four. But there are more than a few stunners to pick from.

Being fortunate enough to take part in filming an episode of Britain’s top rated day time TV show Bargain Hunt yesterday, both the Bees and the kit obsession made it into that really awkward chat bit at the start.

And that bit, when the show goes out, is quite likely to be the highlight. Let’s just say it’s a lot harder than it looks ‘playing’ live rather than when you watch from home.

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Just some of the shirt choices – although current crest (badge) only

Likewise, subject to any last minute editorial decisions then I gather the match day programme will feature a very special top ten.  Although after last weekend’s Brian Guest affair at Fulham, which the club knew nothing about in advance, we probably shouldn’t take anything on that front for granted.

So if you haven’t done it yet, why not have a root through the back of the wardrobe and see what you can pull out? Whatever your thoughts on the current crest (badge) why not help see it off in style?

The next time we all get together, there’ll be a new design in place….

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Coming soon. To a shirt near you….

Nick Bruzon 

 

Mark Burridge wins Twitter for the day as Brentford prepare for trip to Ipswich Town

3 Mar

Roll on Saturday. Brentford travel to Ipswich Town looking to make it three wins in a row whilst, at the same time, building on a ‘goals scored’ record that has seen us find the net 16 times in the last 6 games. The last of which saw that smile inducing hat trick from Jota (just think of it and tell me you aren’t still grinning). And those of you up early may have spotted something on Twitter from the midweek win for Newcastle United at Brighton, c/o of our commentator par excellence Mark Burridge.

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View from the Braemer – unadulterated joy from Jota and the team on Saturday

But we can only start with Brentford and Ipswich Town. Last season saw a 3-1 win for Brentford at Ipswich, in a game that was marred by Luke Hyam’s horrific lunge through Alan Judge. It was a foul subsequently defended by Tractorboy’s boss Mick McCarthy who, even given time to reflect , made no attempt to reconsider his opinion.

Hyam was shown a yellow for the assault on Judge which broke his leg, ruled him out of EURO 2016 and 11 months later still sees him nowhere close to a first team return. The Ipswich man was eventually shown a second yellow for going at Ryan Woods just before half time.

Dean Smith’s suggestion that he had been  “a bit naughty” and deserved straight red prompted a somewhat bizarre reply in which McCarthy noted, “I’m disappointed if he’s said that. I don’t think it is. I think he’s won the ball. I’ve actually complained to the referee as to why it’s a booking if he’s won the ball. I don’t think it’s naughty at all. That surprised me and disappoints me if he’s said that, but we all have opinions”.

Hyam hasn’t featured this time around but don’t expect anything different from Mick and his team. If not career threatening injuries, certainly a side who are robust in the challenge and have lost the form that has seen them threatening the play offs in previous campaigns. Instead, a squad that contains Jonathan Douglas and Toumani Diagouraga have seen their stock fall and sit below Brentford in the league table.

As for Brentford, there’s been more than a touch of Keegan-era Newcastle United about us in recent weeks. Dean’s return to picking a four man defence has seen goals aplenty, at both ends. Is kamikaze football better than the turgid possession game? Absolutely. Is it just a matter of time before the team re-adjust to both their ‘new’(traditional) system and new faces  such as Flo Jo and Sergi ? I have no doubt. Which of those two Dean starts with on Saturday will be tough choice but, like Justin Shaibu, the impact made from the bench by the Spaniard was clear for all to see.

Harlee Dean has flourished in recent months. He really has been indispensable, both at the back and going forward. He’ll be missed in his second game out following his tenth yellow, but it gives Andreas Bjelland  and John Egan a chance to really give Dean another selection headache. Along with Yoann Barbet, we really have been blessed with centre backs – the trick for Dean being which combination to pick and which players to sit alongside them.

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Suspension saw Harlee spending Saturday very much put of position

And there’s another thing. Rico Henry. He’s barely featured on these pages since, finally, making his debut in the 2-1 win up at Sheffield Wednesday. Rico, if you are reading (you aren’t) I can only apologise.  Commentators and supporters alike were left enthusing about his performance. Those who saw him in the flesh against Rotherham could only agree. Pace, skill, tricks and tackles. In abundance.

Tom Field has been magnificent at left back but Rico really has thrown down a gauntlet. In doing so, he has shown just why the statistical model has identified a second Dean Smith ex-player as one we should move for.

As for Romaine Sawyers, his killer ball through for the goal to complete Jota’s hat-trick showed just why our head coach must have been smiling when ‘the model’ threw up his name over the summer. Like Brentford, consistency has been the main problem here in a tricky first season but we’ve nobody who can split a defence like Romaine when he is on his A game.

Rotherham, like Sheffield Wednesday, saw him very much a fish out of water. The ‘false 9’ formation is not one that we’ve been overly comfortable with and Saturday was the archetypal example. A set up that looked good on paper pre kick off clearly wasn’t working and Dean Smith really should have rescued his man earlier.

As for the experts, the bookies see Brentford as 39/20 to win this one whilst ‘over 2.5 goals’ is evens. And for those of you with a penchant for curse of the ex-player (as so ably demonstrated by John Swift at Reading) Toumani is 15/2 to score at any time. Whilst the big man was only the bench last time out, football being football then surely that’s where the smart money is?

Calling the shots will be Mark Burridge, as ever. With travel chaos expected thanks to the rail service, could Beesplayer be the best place to catch up on the action? Whilst there is no substitute for being there, the thought of spending the afternoon with Mark and his team is a tempting one. If for no other reason than we can expect quick off the mark observations from our man at the mic.

Does he ever sleep? Is his attention permanently tuned in to all things Brentford and Greyhounds ? We alluded to an early morning social media spot at the start of the article and sure enough, Mark / Newcastle United delivered.

Nice one Mark . Here’s to more zingers on Saturday. And goals.

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Nick Bruzon

Will there be more of the same at a price that, surely, is beyond generous?

4 Feb

Saturday morning. Match day. Except, of course, it isn’t. Brentford fans have to wait an extra day for the chance to see if we can match Tuesday night’s annihilation of Aston Villa. This time around, the visitors are none other than Brighton. A team who, whilst managing to reel in and then fend off long term runaway leaders Newcastle United, went down 3-1 at Huddersfield Town in front of the Sky TV cameras on Thursday night.

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Will the Seagulls fall victim to Dean’s killer Bees?

There’ll never be a better time for the Bees to take on the Seagulls. Brentford blew away Aston Villa on Tuesday night as though they were nothing more inconvenient than an empty crisp packet. 3-0 really doesn’t even begin to do justice to a scoreline that saw added width courtesy of Florian Jozefzoon and the wonderful Jota.

It was something noted by Dean, who used his press conference to note that “They give us an extra dimension and that enabled me to flip the system on Tuesday” (and, as ever, you can read his full interview on ‘official’).

With one defender less and more room in the middle of the pitch, Dean set his team up in much more balanced and positive formation than we’d seen in a long time. The results more than justified the tactical reshuffle. And this is before the returning Sergi Canos has even got a look in. Whilst I can’t imagine he’ll start in this one, I can already hear the reception he’ll get coming off the bench.

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Jota was back in the starting XI on Tuesday night

The big question now being whether it was a one off or if we can expect more of the same against Brighton? I hope so. Desperately. Tuesday night saw genuinely exciting football as the Bees, perhaps with a point to prove to Scott Hogan, tore Villa a new one.

Brighton, meanwhile, may well be back in second place by the time we cross paths. Newcastle United play on Saturday although a visit from Derby County won’t be the easiest fixture in the calendar. Yet if they can get the win, that adds the pressure to Albion. Especially if third placed Reading can also do the business at hapless Ipswich Town. A win for the Royals will take them to within just two points of Brighton.

Then, of course, we’ve got Thursday night to consider. Nobody needs a midweek trip to Huddersfield at the best of times, let alone when you then put in a performance that Chris Hughton would later describe saying, “Every now and again you get a real bad one, and that was a real bad one.

Perhaps he should compare notes with Steve Bruce !  To compound their misery, highly rated defender Lewis Dunk was shown the red card so misses out at Griffin Park.

One can’t help but think Brighton will be exhausted. With little over 48 hours to recover from the game and subsequent trip back from Yorkshire to the South coast, they are back on the road again.  Whilst we’ve all been victims to the vagaries of TV scheduling, this one seems extreme and yet another example of the TV companies putting teams and fans firmly in second place.

The question being if Dean Smith and his team can take advantage of this gift we’ve been offered. Brentford have already beaten Brighton in the corresponding fixture – becoming the only team this season to leave the Amex with all three points. Can we now become the first to do the double over the Seagulls? Could Sergi cause havoc in the final twenty minutes as tiredness starts to tell?

At odds of 11/5 with club sponsors 888, it seems to be free money for anybody looking to invest. Surely that’s too generous a price?

On Sunday afternoon, we find out.

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Nick Bruzon

Dean Smith. If you are reading (you aren’t) I’ve got a few questions.. .

4 Dec

Norwich City 5 Brentford 0. Cripes. That’s bad. Really, really bad. And I mean from the Bees’ perspective. Up against a team touted by their own support prior to kick off as ‘pedestrian’, ‘slow’ and ‘dull’, a team who had lost five in a row prior to this one – that’s LLLLL – didn’t they administer a humping of royal proportions ? No complaints with Norwich. You can only beat who you are up against and that would seem to have been the grand total of naff all.

We’ve all caught up on what happened by now, surely. Whether through being at the game, listening on Bees Player, catching up on the video highlights c/o Sky, reading the match report, following the observations of those on social media or just a combination of the above. Yet at a time when we needed to pick up where we left off in that final half hour against Birmingham City, instead we picked up where we spent the entire game against Barnsley, Fulham, Wigan..etc . 1 step forward 8 steps back.

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The sky video shows how 1 on 3 outside the box became a penalty and 2-0

Prior to this one Dean Smith had gone on record as saying,”Sometimes we can catastrophise defeats and that leads to a demise in confidence.” If previous defeats were being talked up as a catastrophe , I can’t even begin to imagine what he makes of this one. What he can do next or how he can rejig his team and remotivate his players?

Hints are dropped in his interview on official  where Dean tells us:  “It is a performance that I thought I wouldn’t see from this group of players” before adding “I had a chat with the players and that performance can’t happen again.”

Come on Dean. Have some balls. Please. Your team who, prior to this had only won 1 in 8, have been blown off the park by the side with the worst form in the Championship. Incredibly, even Rotherham United (currently 1/50 to be relegated) managed a point over that period. For the record, 29th October against Ipswich Town. Is that response  – one which ended with ‘we go again’ style talk of future results – really the one you felt best in the circumstance?

Perhaps harsher words were exchanged in private rather than a simple chat. Here’s hoping, because something needs to be said. I recall Uwe adopting a similar line in the post match interview after the debacle at Stevenage a few seasons ago. Things transformed themselves from there as opinions were made clear in the dressing room – from all sides.

Indeed, Daniel Bentley alluded to it in his own ‘official’ interview where, amongst other things, he has come out and said: “I think I can speak for myself and the boys that I am embarrassed with that result. We weren’t good enough all over the pitch …. It was totally unacceptable. If there is stuff that is underlying then there comes a time when it needs to be said. After that tonight it was probably overdue. There’s only so long you can go without saying things that need to be said”.

What was said? By whom? And to who? Whilst I doubt we’ll ever know, let’s hope this has now cleared the air and given both Dean and his squad some element of clarity. Saturday sees us play Burton Albion, locked immediately below us in 19th place on 22 points. With the Bees in free fall – there’s no other word for 6 defeats in 8 and a mere four points over that period, something needs to change around and fast.

There’s only so much optimistic glass half full spin one can try to impart on this torrid run from a season which had begun so brightly. Fans are turning on each other in social media – always a bad sign that things are less than rosy in the garden – whilst yesterday even saw our Chairman Cliff Crown compelled to delete his own tweet about being entertained pre-match by his Norwich City counterparts Ed Balls and Delia Smith.

I’m not sure I follow the furore, here. Hardly a case of Nero fiddling given Rome had yet to start burning at the time he published that one. Indeed, whilst taking the post down in retrospect was probably a sensible precaution given the vitriol flying around and bad vibe amongst the Brentford faithful, it now makes him look as though he’s done something wrong.

We’ve all seen it and presumably such activity happens in football stadia up and down the land every weekend (mutual boardroom diplomacy and hospitality rather than Cliff name dropping B list celebrities like Ian Moose on a footballer’s birthday). Unless, of course, they were discussing rumoured transfer activity.  Although to be fair to Cliff, I don’t think he’d have been so naïve to post such a comment if that had been the case. Surely?

Look, it’s very easy to be wise after the event but even putting himself in that position in the first instance, given how we’d been performing recently, probably something that in the cold light of a day should have been reconsidered. Had we won, it would have all been seen as the bonhomie which it was and nobody paying any more notice. We didn’t and now look.

Positives on waking up this morning? Struggling here. About all I can come up with is the fact that for all we’re on the slide, the bookmakers still see us finishing the campaign mid-table. Brentford are currently 25/1 to be promoted and 10/1 to go down. Indeed, looking at the relegation suspects, aside from aforementioned Rotherham United there are still another 9 teams considered more likely than the Bees to be plying their trade in League One next season.

That said, three points against Burton on Saturday are essential. For more than one reason. Dean – if you’re reading (you aren’t) I’d love to hear how you are going to make that happen?

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Current prices to go down. Rotherham great value

Nick Bruzon

The Zenga boss is going – another crazy day in the Championship

26 Oct

Brentford fans can be glad that the most exciting thing to happen to us yesterday was the residual fallout from Saturday’s mascot race with Barnsley. This a situation now confirmed by club insiders as a win for Buzz, and a possible rematch, despite the claims of the Tykes. Yet elsewhere it was sacking season. Wigan dispensing with Gary Caldwell and Wolves relieving Walter Zenga of his duties after just 87 days in charge.

87 days. Wow. That really is crazy. To a limited extent, one can understand the situation at Wigan Athletic. They’ve been spoiled in recent years with a long run in the Premier League and even an FA Cup victory. Certainly, something away from their traditional tier three days where the most they could crow about was a Freight Rover Trophy victory. I forget who they beat.

Now, with only basement club Rotherham beneath them, they already find themselves staring an immediate relegation back to League One in the face. Despite the alleged inferno in Northern Ireland International Will Grigg, Athletic have only won twice all season. Rather than give Caldwell the time to adjust to Championship life Chairman David Sharpe has decided that after eighteen months in charge,  Wigan, “need to act now in the best long-term interests of the club.” With this decision, a fledgling career has been shot down in flames.

As for Wolves, that really is a shock. Nobody could deny the appointment of the, surprisingly, experienced Zenga was an unusual one. So for the club to set sail on this course but then abandon ship after less than three months is even more of a surprise. To an extent it reminds me of the Marinus scenario. An unexpected European manager coming in for his first role in England but barely surviving a couple of months. Yet can you compare the two?

Sure, immediate results hadn’t been great – four defeats out of the last five – but Wolves are, as it stands, only 7(seven) points away from the play offs. Marinus was a disaster. Zenga appears nowhere near that. Indeed with over 100 points still to play for then, from a Brentford perspective, perhaps Mark Warburton rather than Dijkhuizen would be a more accurate an comparison.

It was only around this time that Mark Warburton really hit the ground running during his first Championship campaign (although, of course, he also had a League One promotion under the belt). From a similar start that season we swept all around us aside as the Bees found form. The awful, awful #Novemberkings became our title as the Bees stormed up the table and came to within a Boxing Day win (thank, Ipswich) of topping the pile.

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Marinus – didn’t last long

I just don’t get it. I’m not close enough to the action at Wolves to say how bad things really were. If, indeed, they were ‘bad’. Yet it was only last month the club recorded back to back wins over Newcastle United and then our own Brentford. Surely the situation can’t have soured that much? Indeed, outside of the top six, the most anybody has won is six games – that’s just two more than Wolves have achieved.

Wolves are, historically, a huge club. They have a fantastic stadium and wonderful support. But being ‘any good’ has to be worked at and isn’t a given just because you’ve won things in the past (Are you reading, Mr Mourinho? No – obviously – but the parallel is clear).

I can’t overly speculate on the situation at Moulineux. It certainly puts our own place into perspective where things seem massively stable. For all supporters can moan at times – and we are in our own mini blip at present with two points and one goal from four games – things are nowhere near that situation.

Who’d be a manager? And who is gong to take over at either club? Nobody comes out of this situation smiling except, perhaps, Steve Evans. The former Rotherham and Leeds United loud mouth is currently putting his feet up. Could we seen him back in action soon?

Here’s hoping….

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Could it be time for Steve Evans?

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. As Chelsea and Manchester United make the headlines, Brentford play their part in a week on social media

24 Oct

Brentford drew with (temporarily) revitalised Derby County before losing the much heralded ‘game 4000’ to Barnsley on Saturday. Newcastle United went top, followed by Brighton in second and Huddersfield third. This, after the Terriers returned to winning ways against aforementioned Derby. Aston Villa made it 2 wins in 5 days (NOT a typo) whilst the Bees are now 11th. That’s four points outside the play-off zone but still ahead of both Fulham and QPR going into Friday night’s TV game with the Loftus Road mob. At the bottom, it is still Blackburn, Wigan and Rotherham who make up the final three. The Millers already 8 points and -15GD off safety

That’s the latest Championship action in a nutshell after a busy two game week. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond (especially Old Trafford, where Manchester United seem to be making the news for some reason). In the latest edition of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

As ever, we’ll start with Brentford. Saturday saw the 0-2 loss at home to Barnsley, where the ‘cheering’ of Romaine Sawyers being substituted by a section of the Griffin Park crowd has come in for wide criticism.

Last night, Romaine himself stepped in to acknowledge his perceived shortcomings and, all being well, put this behind us.

Besides, it wasn’t just current Brentford players having a bad day at the weekend. Our former favourites have been hit , too. Over at Fulham and Ipswich the following clips have been doing the rounds, c/o David Button and Jonathan Douglas respectively.

And whilst we’ve no video clip for this one, Saido Berahino may still want to look away.

Still, it wasn’t all bad for our former players. Hats off to Alfie Mawson who has come so far, so quickly….

I saw a wonderful headline during the week. You might have seen this one too. Sadly/thankfully (delete as applicable) it seems to be false – Rantie blowing out South African manager Barney Kujane, by failing to show up at the airport,  rather than blowing off.

Hull City AFC. If the clappers handed out to Fulham fans or the pleas put out by QPR on social media in an attempt to generate an atmosphere were bad, The Tigers have taken things to an awful new low. Even Chelsea isn’t this quiet that they have to do this…

But it is Manchester United who are this week’s star guests in the Twitter hall of shame.

How’s this for an entrant to the field of confusing waxworks?

If people think Romaine was out of sorts at the weekend, then spare a thought for another new player – Paul Pogba at Manchester United. The record signing at Old Trafford has, to date, struggled to pay back his fee. So this analysis from the team at Sky as the Red Devils drew 0-0 with Liverpool is hardly going to do anything for his confidence.

Still, perhaps it was their ‘warm up’ technique which needs some refinement. Not for the first time this season they’ve been snapped preparing for a big game in a car park.

The only thing Pogba won at the weekend was yellow card as Chelsea hosted former boss Jose Mourinho. Whilst a situation where Manchester United and the so called ‘special one’ get thrashed would, for the neutral amongst us, be a wonderful thing it becomes a bit different when it is at the hands of the Blues.

Mourinho had promised before the kick-off to yesterday’s game at Stamford Bridge that he would not “celebrate like a crazy kid” if his new team scored. It was a promise he never came close to being able to keep as his team were thumped four nil. Four. Nil.

Yet to celebrate any Chelsea victory feels somewhat wrong so, instead, I’ll leave you with this. If nothing else, creative genius. And do hang around for the final seconds.

Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees reach new heights at Newcastle, Villa do their thing whilst pigs can fly. A week in football.

17 Oct

Brentford went down 3-1 at Newcastle United, who were overtaken in the race to the top of the table by Norwich City. Tuesday night’s opponents Derby County got off to a winning start under new manager Steve McClaren whilst the other team to replace their boss, Aston Villa, churned out yet another draw. That’s 8 out of 12 now for the Villains who sit just one point above the relegation zone. Making up the bottom three are Wigan, Blackburn and Rotherham

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

Whilst it was a week which began with the next round of World Cup qualifiers we’ll start, as ever, with Brentford. Our trip to Newcastle was one which ended in disappointment. Fan opinion seemed to be largely that the moment got the better of us.

But whatever happened on the pitch, nobody could doubt the fans had fun. And what a sight.

Looking down on the action at Newcastle was a unique experience. A wonderful opportunity to watch play unfold or the last of us just making it down from the 14 flights of stairs now?

Brentford aren’t  the only ones travelling well. For all that nobody is sniggering at the plight Aston Villa find themselves in , you can’t deny their fans are fiercely loyal.

That’s great work. Seriously. Getting home from that one isn’t going to be fun. At least Villa will have a point to celebrate with (the draw currently at a very generous 23/10).

Aston Villa weren’t the only ones to pick up a point. As Norwich City went top, Ipswich Town laboured to a 0-0 with Blackburn. Bad enough, without your neighbours then putting the boot in .

Charlton Athletic also had trouble on the pitch before eventually putting Coventry City to the sword. Given their high profile relations (or lack of) with their supporters it was nice to see them doing all possible to maintain a sense of perspective.

It wasn’t just pigs invading football pitches at the weekend. There were dogs joining in the action, too

Next up, kit news. And there’s lots of it. With Brentford celebrating their 4,000th league game on Saturday there had been a hope we might have worn some form of celebratory shirt. Whilst this doesn’t seem to be the case (as it stands), over in the Netherlands Sparta have taken that idea forward.

What a beauty. That said, whilst I’m all for a retro style shirt, let’s hope Derby County don’t go down that route on Tuesday night . This one flashed across my timeline on Friday.

Bolton Wanderers are also making the headlines. Their kitman not a patch on our own Bob Oteng. Certainly, if this is the best he can come up with.

Whilst the club may not be giving us a special kit for Saturday, let’s hope the marketing team aren’t casting their eyes towards Portugal. Just when you thought there was nothing left for a club to stick their name on, think again.

There were international games at the start of the week, too. Nobody needs any reminder of that so we’ll keep it to two that seem to sum things up nicely.

But we’ll finish with clowns. Not the crazy killer variety but over at Loftus Road where, it seems, they are struggling with the atmosphere.

Oh dear.

Nick Bruzon 

Decisions, decisions. Who’d be a manager? The big game awaits.

10 Sep

Saturday football is back. With most sports pages devoted to the incessant wittering on about if Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho will have a glass of wine together (although whether this is before, during or after the Manchester United – Manchester City game remains unclear) you’d be forgiven for thinking nobody else was in action today. But, of course, the really big one is down on the South Coast where Brentford head to Brighton hoping to pick up where we left off against Sheffield Wednesday. Albeit without the injury time equaliser or open goal chances being served up on a plate.

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Today’s the day

Indeed, the ever erudite Billy Reeves has noted in his BBC preview that, “Dan Bentley has made more saves than any other goalkeeper in the Championship this season, which either suggests he was a smart purchase for Bees or their defence is a bit leaky.” This, an observation which he’s not alone in picking up on i.e. that whilst Dan is clearly a force to be reckoned with and a player wth the potential to go all the way, has nobody twigged that there has to be a cause to his being pressed into action so frequently?

Personally, I’m not too phased. We’re just five games into a new season with 7(seven) points on the board already.  Likewise, we have the likes of Andreas Bjelland, Yoann Barbet and, of course, Rico Henry to find their way into this defence. Indeed, if anything it is probably a holding midfielder role that is as key a position as the four men sitting in front of Dan Bentley.

Give it five more matches and we’ll be much better placed to make a call as to whether this team is a footballing colander or has found it’s feet following the summer reshuffle.  Ten games in is always the watermark for the table being deemed to have ‘taken shape’ and sides knowing whether, in the majority of cases, they’ll be an all conquering Manchester City or a hapless Manchester United (certainly, based on recent seasons).

Along with today’s trip to Brighton, those next four see us visiting Aston Villa and Wolves along with home games against both Preston and Reading. Certainly, a cross section of famous names and tough opponents. On paper.

Reading leapfrogged both us and Brighton last night following their last gasp win over Ipswich Town. The three points that came with Danny Williams’ 95th minute penalty propelling the Royals from behind the Bees up to third place in the embryonic league table. I’d love to be higher up than lower down but things are just too tight to get overly excited about at the moment. The most important thing being to pick up the wins and let the others worry about themselves for now.

And our attempt to do so will, surely, see a start for Crystal Palace winger Sullay Kaikai. Whilst too early to determine if he will be officially be deemed ’starlet’ ( a term so beloved of our local press for young loanees who are any good – see also : Spanish starlet Sergi Canos) he comes to Griffin Park with a great reputation from the Palace faithful and bags of potential.

Lasse Vibe is, of course, unavailable following his red card against Sheffield Wednesday and so common sense dictates that surely a straight swap is the inevitable next step? Or could Dean Smith have a card up his sleeve and be looking at a bit of a wider reaching reshuffle? Certainly, with two weeks to work on it then perhaps some of his bench players may feature. The likes of Sam Saunders and, especially, Konstantin Kerschbaumer (given how he ended last season) must be chomping at the bit for a start.

If nothing else, it’s playing havoc with the BBGiveaway. Kitman Bob went early, putting up the ever popular competition last night. Sam Saunders or Sullay Kaikai on 7(seven) minutes? Decisions, decisions. Who’d be a manager? It’s tough enough being a supporter.

Still, if that’s all we’ve got to worry about it promises to be a great day. You can keep your Manchester derby on TV. There’s no finer way to spend a Saturday than following the Bees on the road when time, and green cards, permit (please note: I wear the trousers in my house and, obviously, could go to every away game. If I chose to. Honestly). Having missed out on Huddersfield and Rotherham this will be a first chance for many of us, myself included, to see how we travel this season.

And I can’t wait. See you at the Amex.

Jon Toral v Brighton

Brentford make their third Championship visit to the Amex

Nick Bruzon

Will it be three in a row as Swansea make £5m move for former Bee ?

27 Aug

With Brentford due up against Sheffield Wednesday today, Bees fans woke to find we’d been overtaken in the table by Burton Albion whose 1-0 derby win over, erm, Derby moved them into the play-off zone. And those who went to bed really, really early have woken to the news that Championship rivals Barnsley have accepted a bid of £5million from Swansea City for former Bee Alfie Mawson.

First up, today’s game. On paper Brentford are looking good at Griffin Park. Played 2, won 2, scored 3, conceded 0. Sheffield Wednesday, on the other hand, have picked up 1 point form the last 3. On paper.

The Owls have been one of the teams to provide us what could politely be called ‘a challenge’ since our return to the Championship. If not quite at Middlesbrough standards then certainly a team we’ve struggled against.

A 0-0 at Griffin Park under Mark Warburton the best we’ve achieved . That, a result which was followed by 1-0, 2-1 and 4-0 defeats. Wednesday being, if you will, the anti-Fulham when it comes to Brentford performance. So can we do any better today ?

You’d be brave to call it. On the one hand , we’ve looked wonderful at times and dominated the possession in our game at Rotherham. On the other, despite dominating the possession we came away from that one on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat whilst both Ipswich and Nottingham Forest left Griffin Park feeling somewhat hard done by.

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Brentford hung onto a win against Forest last time out

 

All three games showing that most basic of football lessons  – it doesn’t matter how hard you huff and puff or how much the stat chart showed you held onto the ball. At the end of the day (Clive), the rewards go to the the team that can take their chances when they present themselves.

Look at last night’s Championship action. Derby County had 64% possession. Almost double that of their opponents. Yet it was Burton Albion who took a 12th minute chance and left their more fancied neighbours floundering as they retained that lead for an historic 1-0 win .

It was a result that shows, once more, how tough the Championship is and how nobody can be taken lightly. Our own Bees have already proven that, coming 5th and 9th in our first two seasons at this level. Kudos to Rotherham United for staying up having joined at the same time as the Bees whilst Preston North End, on their return last season, surprised many with just how well they did. Could Burton now be joining those ranks?

Reputation and domination count for little these days. Take your chances, whomever you are playing, and the rest comes naturally. It sounds so simple. On paper.

The other news of interest for Brentford fans was that about Alfie Mawson. A player who came up through the youth team, having joined from Reading in 2010, he left for Barnsley when his contract expired at the end of June 2015. Despite having been offered a new deal two months earlier, Alfie opted for dropping down a division and to take his chances in League One.

With the likes of Tony Craig, Harlee Dean, James Tarkowski, Raphael Calvet, Jack O’Connell and Finland international Daniel O’Shaughnessy also in the squad, you can understand part of his decision making process. Certainly, it was one which has proven to be correct for the player, with Barnsley winning promotion through the play-offs aswell as the JPT final. And Alfie, like Harlee Dean, even being awarded a football league ‘unsung hero’ award.

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Alfie Mawson – you can read about his unsung hero award on the EFL site

Should  / could Brentford have tried harder to keep him? Or is hindsight a wonderful thing? Probably a bit of both. The evidence was certainly there to suggest that Alfie could go far. His loan period at Wycombe in 2014/15 saw him scoop several player of the year awards (including supporters and players) aswell as coming third in the running for divisional player of the season. Something that hadn’t gone unnoticed up North.

Yet, ultimately, the decision was the player’s. Lets not forget that. Likewise, do bear in mind also that this is exactly how we have acquired Dan Bentley, John Egan and Romaine Sawyers this season.

The list of ‘next big things’ at Brentford who have had all the potential but not quite delivered is legion. As is those who supporters have been happy to see released only for players to find new form at a new club. See, amongst others : Northern Ireland International Will Grigg and the aforementioned Lewis Grabban – the benchmark figure for subsequent transfer inflation with his value accelerating from £0-8/9m in six seasons.

Instead, rather than the usual social media based angst, perhaps the more pertinent point from Alfie’s case is to highlight more just what our youth system was capable of. We’ve already seen Tom Field and Josh Clarke break into the first XI.

Here’s hoping the B team can follow suit. And in the meantime, good luck to Alfie in the Premier League!

Nick Bruzon

Goals to Newcastle?

24 Aug

Tuesday saw rumours hitting overdrive after stories began to emerge suggesting that Newcastle United were looking to make a bid for Brentford supporters’ and players’ player of the year, Alan Judge. If the timing is a surprise, the player only having the screws removed from his leg (following that horrendous break inflicted by Luke Hyam of Ipswich Town in April) little over a week ago, the story was an inevitable one.

I was amazed he didn’t leave Brentford at Christmas and, but for that injury, would surely have departed in the current window following Euro 2016. He still might if this Newcastle story rings true.

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View from the Braemar – how would the Bees go without Alan Judge?

At the time of his injury, Alan was the leading goal scorer for Brentford (14) and had provided the highest number of assists for any Championship club with 11.  Indeed, he was joint 7th overall goal scorer in the league at that juncture whilst finishing joint top, with Lasse Vibe, for the Bees as the season reached it’s denouement.

This would represent a major gamble for Newcastle United if they were to move now. There’s no way Judge can even be close to be being match ready, beyond a quick game of FIFA 16. And then, just which player will emerge from the other side of that injury? A shadow of his former self, the same man we knew before or one with even more determination to play at the highest levels and make up for the opportunity which was stolen from him over the summer?

The parachute payments will help any investment decision but it still would represent a significant outlay at this time. I have no doubt Alan will go – only the most naive can’t realise that until we have our new home, the current club ‘model’ will be one based around selling on and selling high. Even then, who knows what other expenses will need to be covered off down the line?

Alan has already been with us for three seasons during which time he has racked up 24 goals from 102 games (technically four seasons if you count 2016/17). He scored the penalty that took us up to the Championship in that famous game against Preston North End and has earned international recognition whilst on the books at Griffin Park.

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Scenes as Alan’s penalty helped confirm three points and promotion

For me, it isn’t a question of if he goes but when. That’s not that I want to see Alan leave but I’m not a (complete) idiot. We’ve had fantastic service from him whilst, given the club’s FFP related sales and desire to avoid players leaving on a free, this one seems inevitable.

Quality players attract money and whilst Newcastle may not be the force they once were (this, their second Championship campaign in recent times following previous relegation in 2008/09), you’d be a fool not to recognise their history or their spending potential.

Personally, I’d be amazed if anything happened in August. Surely it will be a case of nursing the player back to health and fitness, letting him get some games under his belt and then going from there. Come January, we could well be saying farewell.

Unless, of course, Newcastle are prepared to take the risk to secure a potential target before their promotion rivals. Ultimately, I’m just the numpty on the terrace rather than anybody ‘in the know’ but it will be very interesting to see how the Judge saga plays out.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be the Last Word without recognising yesterday’s terrible news away from the world of the football. At a time when the unspeakable ways people have come up with to inflict pain on each other continue to shock, Tuesday saw a new low point being reached. Mrs. Brown’s Boys has been voted the best sitcom of the 21st Century by Radio Times readers.

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Mrs Brown – not the first time s(he) has produced a shock result

This is terrible, terrible news. Do ‘Radio Times’ employ any form of screening or was it just open to simpletons? She’s a man. A. Man.

Granted, a man wearing  a frock and a wig. But still a man. That seems to be the joke. Which I wouldn’t mind (the man dressing as a woman being a staple of British comedy over the years) were it not for the lack of any other comedy in an alleged sitcom.

I can’t even begin to start on why this is so awful. If nothing else, how its perceived popularity is sure to see Brendan O’Carroll’s show commissioned for further series and Christmas specials. The latter, in particular, so often used to shunt the football highlights further into a graveyard slot over the years.

“There is an audience out there that comedy forgot – that Are You Being Served? audience has been left behind” said O’Carroll afterwards.

Different class, O’Carroll. Different class. How he can compare the sharp wit of Grace Brothers and Mrs. Slocombe’s Pussy to a man in a wig is like saying Alan Judge and Nick Proschwitz are both footballers.

All of a sudden, the possible sale of a footballer doesn’t seem quite so bad.

Alan Judge celebrates

Alan Judge could soon deliver a blow to Brentford fans

Nick Bruzon