Tag Archives: Ivan Toney

Apologies to Bush (Andy, not Shepherd’s) as hectic month awaits and social media delivers.

30 Nov

December is here. A non-stop charge into action with Brentford facing 7(seven) league games aswell as that league cup quarter final at Lionel Road. Victory against Everton on Sunday the perfect way to set ourselves up for the coming month. Next up are Spurs, Leeds United, Watford, Manchester United etc etc etc It’ll be nuts. It’ll be chaotic. It’ll be a whole lot of fun.

Everton already seems an after thought. A game of football that will live long in the record books as a 1-0 win for Brentford. That’ll do for me. Take the points, exorcise the memory and move on. Our opposition in about an awful a run of form as they come and for whom a lesson in injury related sportsmanship wouldn’t go amiss, either. Thoughts and prayers for Lucas Digne. Thoughts and prayers. What a shame the same didn’t happen and the ball kicked out when Rico Henry was actually crocked. 

Still, its all been and gone now. A win for the Bees is a win. Not to mention a clean sheet, another Ivan Toney penalty taking masterclass and a couple of (perhaps) unexpected entrants into the look at our top five performers. Were we wrong? Who missed out? Who should have been included? The journey to discover our season long contenders continues, too, and you can see that here.

Did Sergi’s hair make the top five?

As for this morning, I’m feeling a bit ‘Peter Gilham’. Specifically, the time he was obliged to promote the club’s latest foray into social media. Live on pitch he encouraged us to use, “Snapchat”. Then paused for a moment before adding, “Whatever that is.”

I was sent a video by a friend who was making his first visit to The Brentford Community Stadium. And no, it wasn’t Absolute radio DJ Andy Bush and Everton who, as it turned out, may not actually have been making his initial trip to our new home. In fact, it seems the frustration endured was limited to TV viewing, judging by the first hour of yesterday’s Hometime show.

As such, my apologies for the mix up which saw his file picture published in the announcements page. And when I say his, I mean ‘a’.

DJs with glasses – they all look so similar…

We’re fortunate enough to have many friendly and familiar faces around us where we sit in the North stand. Some we’ve been near for years and others who, Brentford being Brentford, we just know because everyone knows everyone.

Our H has picked up where he left off at Griffin Park and, sitting in relatively close proximity to the pitch,  still absorbs the moment of victory like no other. Perhaps barring one. So it certainly put a smile on our faces when ‘the moment’ was captured on a Tik Tok (whatever that i…) .

@brentfordfc

This. Is. Football. ❤️

♬ original sound – Tik Toker

And talking of Peter / social media, well it would be remiss not to revisit this one. We’ve all seen it but on a bitter cold Tuesday morning, may well put a smile on the face. Mr. Brentford delivering again. And again. Any excuse…..

As for Spurs, we go into our game at their new home on Thursday with several injury related questions in the air. Whilst Shandon Baptiste and Yoanne Wissa both made it onto the pitch from the bench against Everton, Christian Norgaard went off minutes after sitting down and clutching his back. Likewise Sergi Canos and Rico Henry. Fingers crossed both were precautionary. Having to reshuffle the pack once more, just as payers are returning, a headache Thomas Frank could well do without. Moreso given we head to Leeds United on Sunday. 

My £30 ticket is in hand for that one. £30. Thank you Leeds. So generous. Worth going for the pleasure of not having our pockets picked on the way in as happened so often in the Championship. And League One. Remember that? Oh, Ben Strevens….

Still, that’s to come. As are Watford, Man U et al . With forthcoming programme columns coming out of the ears, these pages may go a bit darker territory than normal. Perhaps not. Let’s just play it by ear. One things for sure, with a game every few days next month it’s going to be football, football, football. And I can’t wait. See you there.

Ben Strevens. At Leeds United. In League One

Nick Bruzon 

Who shone on Sunday? Who is a gimme for Spurs game?

29 Nov

Brentford 1 Everton 0. Back to winning ways and the perfect means of warming up for the small matter of Thursday night’s trip to Spurs. Well, we’re doing things backwards today and are starting with the top five player review. Who was the star man? Who impressed? Who did the club miss from the official MOTM poll? Any shock inclusions / absences in our poll?

You can read that here. Enjoy. We’ll have the rest of the Brentford – Everton stuff tomorrow and start looking ahead to Spurs then.

If nothing else, we need to look at what happened to Sergi’s hair……

Nick Bruzon

Bravery and aggression are the key as we look for Rico, Ivan and, err, Allan.

28 Nov

Brentford go into Sunday’s game at home to Everton with positive news on the injury front and the taste for goal after hitting three at Newcastle United last week (summarised here). The downside being our recent form has also seen defensive solidity thinner than the laughs in an episode of Mrs Browns Boys. With ten conceded in the last four games there’s only one way back from there. A battling point at St. James Park saw the focus very much being on the front foot and more will be the same when Rafa Benitez brings what is left of his injury ravaged squad to Lionel Road.

Thomas Frank used this week’s press conference to emphasise the importance, and intent, of taking the game to our opponents. The words brave and aggressive cropped up again and again with the mindset being that the best chance of beating Everton will be to outscore them. Obvious, perhaps, but why not throw caution to the wind and dictate the pace?

Thomas – come for the quotes, stay for the knitwear

Brentford are the home team and the desire to take the game to our visitors is, as Thomas noted, the piece of the puzzle that is in our hands. “It is very important that our approach is front-footed, aggressive, and brave. That is the bit I can control”, also nothing that “We need to consistently press high, be aggressive, and run in behind….we need to be able and have a mindset to take risks if you want to have a better chance of winning football matches.

You can read that in full on Brentford ‘official’. The other good news to come out of the press conference is on the fitness front. Wissa will be on the bench whilst Mads Bech is available once more, as is Mathias Jensen. For me, Clive, this is nothing but positive. Mads gives that extra option at the back and, of course, has those long throws that cause mayhem in the box. As for Wissa, well we’re all familiar with his heroics. It’s as close to a certainty as possible that we’ll see him put in an appearance at some point. With Shandon Baptiste also getting a late run at Newcastle, all of a sudden there are options. 

This is even better news given that if ever there was a chance to get back in the saddle then today is the day. Mind you, we said the same against Norwich City and look how that turned out. Groan. Everton’s confirmed absences include Richarlison and Mason Holgate (both suspended) whilst Yerry Mina, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Andre Gomes and Tom Davies also miss out. Indeed, there’s a stat on the BBC that highlights the importance of Calvert-Lewin, with the club winning just 21% of their games without him since the beginning of last season compared to 50% when he plays. Ultimately, stats don’t win games just as a single player does not make a team. Yet, at the same time, one can’t overlook the importance of a game-changer and, for Brentford, that absence can only be a boost.

The downside being the availability of Allan. Our H, just as with Lucas Biglia of Argentina during World Cup 2018, has become fascinated with a random player outside of our own. Whilst I’ve still no idea what drove the Biglia thing and nor does he in retrospect, it’s happened again.

Biglia. Why?

In the Premier League it is the Everton midfielder although at least this time we do know why. Much like our own Zanka, it’s the fact that he’s that rare breed of footballer known by a single name. Something that is very much associated with Brazil. And H is intrigued by it.

Pele, Alisson, Ronaldinho, Socrates, Zico….Allan (or some variant in the long list of exotic sounding South Americans) has become the refrain in the build up to this one. He’s certainly the one we have marked as a major road block to our potential success today. On a sidenote, my bookmaker (used purely for research purposes) has him at 14-1 to score at anytime today. I’m already terrified. Then again, for what its worth I’m calling this one 3-1 Brentford today so if anybody must score for the opposition then…

Allan – the main man for Everton and 14-1 to score at any time. Gulp…

The other stat of note in the build up to this concerns Lionel Road. Funnily enough, given the fortress that it has felt, less than a third of our points have come at home. This is the lowest ratio of any top-flight team and equally surprising given the way we played against Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Then again, the way we played against Brighton and Norwich City (in particular) perhaps tells a tale. Big games + big noise = big performance. The visit of Everton certainly fits into the former category so let’s hope that the rest, combined with Thomas going for goal, follows suit.

Off field, pre-match covid status checks aside (joy), the excitement surrounds the return of the Panini Adrenalyn XL cards swap-shop under the Family Stand from 1pm. Try saying that three times in a row. Fair to say H (definitely H) has taken to the trading cards with some enthusiasm. Despite the downside being a haemorrhaging of the piggy bank, he’s almost completed the whole Brentford team. Just Rico Henry and Ivan Toney (elite) to go. If anyone has either of these and is doing swaps, he’ll be there with the spares and the other ‘needs’ list from 1.30pm.

Until then, see you there. It was bitter standing on the sidelines for 90 minutes at football club yesterday so for crying out loud, don’t freeze your bits off today. Wind chill factor alone sure to dampen the spirits. No harm in wearing the pre-match beer jacket either. It’ll help the volume and keep the cold out. Bring it on. And bring your swaps.

Can anyone help complete the set?

Nick Bruzon 

Still fighting on three fronts. Now bring on Saturday.

28 Oct

For the first time since 2016/17 Manchester City won’t have their name on the league cup.  For Brentford, a potato skin avoided and then some. The Bees are in the quarter finals for the second successive season after last night’s 2-1 victory at Stoke City. A line up including more first team regulars than we, perhaps, had any expectation of seeing run out raced into a 2-0 half-time lead (Canos and Toney) which ultimately proved sufficient to see us over the line. Romaine Sawyers (who else?) pulled one back for the hosts but it was too little too late to stop the Bees recording a first ever win in the Potteries and earning a place in the last 8. Liverpool, West Ham, Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester City and Sunderland make up the list of those teams with their own aspirations of lifting the silverware. Now we await the draw with bated breath. For more reasons than one. 

No caption needed

Last season was just awful. Wembley, promotion, goals, fine wins, bracketings and incredible signings aside. Having to watch from afar as the team rattled around a virtually empty stadium nothing short of torture. Finally in our new home and locked out by a global pandemic.

To compound the felony, Brentford were enjoying out best ever run in the League Cup. A whole gamut of Premier League sides despatched by a Championship club looking to join them in the top flight. A sequence of victories that took us all the way to a single-legged semi-final at Tottenham. Ivan Toney’s equaliser being chalked off by the machinations of VAR. A brief moment of 1-1 based ecstasy turning into an eventual 2-0 win for our hosts before their inevitable defeat in the final to Manchester City. They seem (seemed) quite good at lifting this particular trophy.

A tournament that Brentford have traditionally been bang average in (a smattering of fourth round visits being our best ever) had suddenly exploded into life. Thomas Frank with his eyes on the silverware. The rest of us with our eyes on the TV. It would have been wonderful to be a part of it. Instead, we were all locked out.

The finger nail ended up being ahead of the ankle. Offside

Fast forward 12 months and we are in similar territory. The big difference being that this time around, the fans are back. And how. What an effort for last night’s shlep to Stoke City. What a reward for the journey. Brentford now 90 minutes away from matching last season’s heroics. Perhaps with a chance to go even further. Hey, if nothing else the magnificent win in the play-off final has finally broken our Wembley hoodoo. No longer is it a place to fear but somewhere to look forward to. The next step on the journey about to be made. And we will discover our fate this Saturday when the draw is made on TV’s Soccer AM. 

Ah, Soccer AM. Sad to say it’s not for me anymore. Been there, done that, disgraced myself. Hey, those ‘end of the show’ penalties aren’t going to miss themselves. Helen Chamberlain and Russ Williams have long since moved on. Lovejoy, too. These days, free time on Saturdays is too short a commodity to be spent with Fenners and Jimmy Bullard. I’ve got football club to get H to and other ‘essential’ jobs to be completed before the matchday routine can begin. 

The classic lineup on the Soccer AM sofa

Yet this weekend things will be different. There’s a cup draw to be watched. The list of priority domestic tasks can, for once, include switching on the TV. Probably being confused by banter and catchphrases that will have long since been handed down to a younger generation. This confused 51 year old will, for once, have a legitimate reason to have the show on rather than feeling as awkward as a dad in a disco. Coverage starts at 10.30 although at what point the Soccerettes (are they still a thing?) appear with the balls is yet to be confirmed. I suspect the phrase “Harry, call me when its about to start” may well be uttered. Much as I used to love the show, and I did, age is now feeling as though it has very much caught up on yours truly. Groan.

So yeah. I’ll be watching. Hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Looking forward to seeing if things have changed any. Mostly, though, awaiting our fate. Last night’s team selection suggesting Thomas very much has the League Cup as a legitimate target. Not just an excuse to give fringe players a run out but a trophy to try and win. A place in Europe to be earned. A smile to be put on the faces of fans after missing out last year. An even bigger smile, I mean. A metaphorical heart attack to be given to the Directors of football or Matthew Benham when a potential cup winning team is named at the expense of keeping players fresh for the league campaign. Hey, who says we can’t battle on two fronts? Or three?

It was a strong, strong line up. Canos. Toney. Jensen. Zanka. Ghoddos. Forss. Ajer.  All started this one. Rico, Christian Norgaard and Frank the Tank also came off the bench. Every one of these players featured against Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday  Chuck Charlie Goode, Mads x2 and Alvaro Fernandez to see there was no messing around from Thomas here. He has a cup in his sights. Likewise, perhaps, giving a chance to put his enforced goalkeeping change into play sooner than later. The understanding between the back five and the man in, err, blue will be even more essential than ever. 

For now though, we can dream of Wembley. Of Soccer AM. Of finally exorcising the nightmare of what happened before the Doncaster game. That Doncaster game. Of replacing Manchester City on the trophy. Of a draw that could be cruel or kind. A home tie with Sunderland or a trip to Liverpool? A rematch with Leicester City, perhaps?

On Saturday we find out. Bring it on….

The pre-Doncaster Soccer AM debacle (our H almost due, too)

Nick Bruzon

Hail Ants. Who will be the last starter in this toughest of challenges?

25 Sep

The day has come. The one we’ve had marked on the calendar is now upon us. Brentford face a visit from, quite possibly, the most fearsome of all Premier League opponents. Being realistic we haven’t a hope but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be dreaming of the impossible come 5.30pm on Saturday afternoon. My word. Forget playing the likes of Manchester City or Chelsea. This is next level. This is the moment. Our Super Bees are going up against none other than… Stuart Atwell. Groan. I’m sure Liverpool fans feel the same about today’s ref. We’ve all been there. We’ve all suffered. As if it wasn’t going to be hard enough when Jurgen Klopp and his galaxy of stars descend upon us, we’ve this rogue element chucked in to the mix. Hail ants.

Hail ants, indeed.

At best, its the same for both of us. We can’t change anything so let’s go into this one fearing the worst but hoping for the best. Focus on Liverpool and beating them rather than getting overly het up about arbitrary elements. At least, until they happen. If they happen. Hey, you never know. Even Keith Stroud mellowed with experience. A bit. Instead, the question is more one of who Thomas is going to start with? 

Surely more of the same after the defeat of Wolves last weekend? Thomas Frank used his press conference to declare, “There will be 10 of the same starters and then I need to find the last one.” . Yet with, apparently, no injury concerns is this nothing more than gamesmanship? The Bees boss indulging in faux guessing games when the answer is already staring us in the face on the back of last weekend’s matchday programme? 

If my maths are correct, Shandon Baptiste served his red card suspension against Oldham Athletic in the midweek bracketing so could feature. Will his place be taken by Frank the Tank? Is Saman, impressive in the league cup, due another start? Might player 11 be Rico or Pontus? Answers on a postcard please. And remember, no entries can be returned. I’ve no clue but if everybody is available (barring the long term injuries) then surely the same XI has to be the way to go. Play your best team and let the opposition adjust their game to suit. 

Not that Mr. Klopp should have any major concerns about his own selections. Such is the wealth of talent available he could chuck the squad car keys into a bowl, pull out any 11 and aside from a somewhat unsavoury image for a family friendly publication, still come up with a team to beat just about anybody in this division.  Liverpool are currently on a 15 game unbeaten run and have only conceded one Premier League goal this season. That coming in their season opener against Chelsea. The Blues, of course, our next opponents and the only team higher than the Anfield outfit, courtesy of no slimmer margin than alphabetical order. In a statistical anomaly, their records are otherwise identical. 

As it stands…..

Let’s not forget Brentford though. We’re ninth in the table and well aware of our own record and form. Last weekend at Molineux was out best performance of the season by a country mile. Dominant. Dangerous. Cagey when we needed to be. Even a streak of shithousery added to our game. Yet for me, Clive, it was the way we played when down to ten men that was the most impressive element. Of course, Ivan grabbed the headlines but the defence  – especially Kris Ajer and his wonderful tackle – kept us in it. Moreso, given both Pontus and Rico were subbed out in the final quarter hour. It was undoubtedly tense to watch and you could see where the six minutes of additional time came from (hey, those gloves weren’t going to change themselves). 

This had the Wolves fans up in arms. Hey, gloves get holes in them.

I’m not stupid. I’m aware we are being served up as plucky underdogs. The team that many admire but just about everyone expects to go down to a something nil defeat. That Mo Salah will try and use the occasion to progress to that magical numerical mark. Not a 7(seven) goal bracketing (although I wouldn’t put it past him) but more reaching 100 Premier League goals. With the race for the golden boot already looking like it will be a four way fight between him, Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku and Ivan Toney you can bet he’ll fancy his changes to both step up form his current 99 and move ahead in that particular race.

Salah – has scored a few and will be looking to add to that haul

The bookies don’t fancy us, that’s for sure. We’ve come in slightly but are still at a general 6-1 this morning. For the home team in a two horse race, that tells you all you need to know about how we are perceived and how tough the opposition is. Liverpool rather than Atwell. Although also Atwell. Then again, we were similar longshots  in the season opener against Arsenal and look what happened there! Yours truly ended up laughing all the way to the bank that day with 888 having to cough up for a very tasty pint of Guinness at full time. Ker-ching !! 

Then again, this is how we love it. Under the radar. Tinpot. Unfancied. Nothing more than a bus stop. It’s going to be as raucous as they come. The supporters up for it and set to welcome rival fans who actually know a thing or two about making some noise of their own. Cripes, Arsenal may aswell have brought their library with them, such was the lack of atmosphere being generated from that far corner. Oldham were ten times louder and they had a third of the numbers present. This will be different though. Hey Jude v You’ll Never Walk Alone. 

It’s going to be immense. And that’s just before the game kicks off. Bring. It. On…. And see you there.

More of this would be wonderful

Nick Bruzon

This is how we can beat Liverpool. A game at the right end of the sexy scale.

24 Sep

This is as big as it gets. Once, being the Barcelona of the lower leagues was about as close to football royalty as Brentford could aspire to be. Then, things changed, and now we are getting set for a league fixture with Liverpool. A game played on as level a playing field as they come. Both Premier League clubs with Jürgen Klopp, who of course so famously almost took over at Griffin Park rather than Anfield, bringing his super reds to take on super Brentford FC  this Saturday afternoon. So far the top flight ride has been nothing but the most incredible fun. Arsenal beaten. Wolves beaten. Brighton educational. Palace and Villa cauldrons of noise and well earned points on the road. Now, things crank up a notch. Liverpool, well they’re about as famous as it gets. With the possible exception of West Ham whom, as we know, are the only club side ever to win the World Cup. 

Arsenal beaten. The incredible start has so far been continued..

There are two ways to view this one. Go all giggly schoolgirl and bow down to worship at the cathedral of household names about to walk out alongside Pontus, Ethan et al. Embrace your inner football tourist to just gawp at Salah, Van Dijk , Mane, Alisson and whomever else Mr Klopp chooses to put in front of us. It’ll be hard not to, that’s for sure. It’ll be surreal and one could be forgiven for the ease with which it’ll be possible to get caught up in the moment this is sure to be. Do that and we’re dead. Rabbits in the headlights of the Red Express. Beaten before a ball has even been kicked.

Instead, we HAVE to take route two. Sure, have the utmost admiration for whom we are playing but then forget about it. Play the moment, not the reputation. Keep the crowd live, lively. Recreate the atmosphere we had against Arsenal and Bournemouth. The crowd, like the Kop, being a 12th man for that one. Liverpool have the reputation. They more than have the ability. No question. They are where they are for a reason. They’ve got to where they have and maintained those standards, mostly, for a reason. Recent league and European Champions. Something about Istanbul, too. But past form counts for nothing when the whistle blows and that’s the only way to go. 11 v 11 for 90 minutes. Avoid the cliches. Put your Liverpool bingo cards away and see what happens when Stuart Atwell starts proceedings. Hurrah!!!! 

Put your Liverpool bingo cards away

I took part in a live video podcast thing last night with some Liverpool fans (presumably my good friends at Beesotted were unavailable) c/o TheRedSeaPod looking ahead to the big game. There was, understandably, a lot of talk about Brentford, our approach to the Premier league so far and aspirations for the season. How we were viewed by Liverpool fans who, hands up, had perhaps under estimated how we’d fare but were rapidly, and respectfully, revising that opinion. The point was also made that in many respects this is a ‘free hit’ for The Bees. As would a lot of other games be this season. Nobody expects anything but defeat . There’s no pressure in a fixture like this because Brentford have nothing to lose. 

It’s true, to an extent. But also going into it too laissez-faire is another catalyst for disaster. If we don’t pick up the points I’ll be genuinely gutted. Not because it’s Liverpool but because its points dropped. League 1,2, Championship and now Prem. I’ve seen us at every level for far, far too long. The approach to every game has been the same. Winning is the most incredible feeling. No matter who we have available to us (and some of those squads we’ve had to pick from in the past…..) or who we have in front of us.

I absolutely LOVE being a Brentford fan. The most incredible communal love – so to speak – and its often been said that the 90 minutes of football (more likely 100 tomorrow given its Atwell) is but a small part of a greater day. Of coming together with friends and family. This season, with Covid destroying that for the past 18 months, it feels even stronger than ever. Yet round it all off with three points and the day becomes, err, ten times better.

So yes. Perhaps a free hit in the eyes of the broader footballing world but for me, Clive, a chance to close the gap at the business end of the table. No matter how slim an opportunity it may be. Thomas talks about being humble and he’s right. I’m not arrogant enough to go into this one thinking we’ll steamroller Liverpool. Thinking we have a divine right to turn up and win. But, equally, nor should they. Under estimating Brentford has been the undoing of so many sides over the last few years. We may be under the radar. We may be tinpot. We may be a bus stop in Hounslow. But my word, can we play some football when we get going. In the sexy stakes, this one has the potential to be the polar opposite of Mrs Brown puckering up with Donald Trump if both teams hit their groove.

the opposite end of the sexy scale to what Saturday promises..

The other thing learned last night was that Liverpool have a a new third kit. Not sure how this one passed me by – perhaps it was ghoulish interest in the fake Bees shirt racing to three figures on ebay. Desperately hoping nobody parted with money for the blue ‘adidas’ one… Getting back to our visitors though, is there a chance they could rock up in what has been described as the ‘McDonalds shirt’? 

Wow. Its actually quite nice from afar but far from nice up close. What’s with the red checks? No offence, and this is the only negative thing I can say about the current Liverpool set up, but it’s a shocker. With yours truly also writing about Liverpool kit in tomorrow’s matchday programme, its very much a case of opportunity missed by not including that one. On the flip side, there are a few other shockers in there aswell as some absolute masterpieces.

Do you want fries with that?

Finally, we can’t look at Brentford – Liverpool without looking at Sergi Canos. Of all the players in our squad he’s sure to be up for it as much as, if not more than, anyone else. Playing against his first club. All being well the game against Norwich City when he momentarily went a bit Scrappy Doo playing against his other former side has been forgotten. Instead, using the huge love from the crowd and his own passion to inspire him on to even greater things. We love Sergi in our house. Our H worships the ground he walks on and nobody could have been more excited than him when he got our first ever Premier League goal, against Arsenal. The game where we ended the night at the top of the table. Hey, don’t shoot me. Blame the stats.

Ooooh. Ser-gi Canos !!

Of all the songs being belted out in what is sure to be a cauldron of noise tomorrow, his is the one we’re looking forward to singing the most. Anything more and as Tony Gubba almost once said, It’ll be dreamland for Brentford. Still, if you can’t dream then what’s the point? Bring it on.

Cripes, I can’t wait for this one. Fantasy football but for real. That’s the giggly schoolgirl thing done. Now let’s get serious. See you there….

Nick Bruzon

Don’t shoot the messenger. Cup and league beckon in a huge week.

21 Sep

Do you know the way to Oldham? One in each hand. With recent seasons seeing our paths head in very much different directions, its been a while since we’ve been able to crack this one out. Needs must, though, despite the fact that Tuesday night’s league cup third round tie takes place in Brentford. With the Bees in fine form following Saturday’s 2-0 win at Wolves, it’s fair to say positivity is up. Even Thomas Frank’s most fierce detractors from last season are now lavishing social media praise on our head coach. Hmmm. And with Liverpool next up in the Premier League, the referee for that one has now been named. Be afraid. Be very afraid….

First up, the cup. Last season’s epic run to the semis was all the more frustrating in the fact that it was played out behind closed doors. Thanks a bunch, Covid. With Premier League clubs being knocked out left right and centre, all we could do was follow the action on our computer screens. Ivan Toney’s heroics and tussle with VAR at Spurs nothing more than the stuff of internet streaming. The only consolation being that at least some of us eventually got to see Brentford at Wembley where ‘the curse’ was finally broken in some style. A play-off campaign that ended in a positive manner (not a typo) and celebrations the likes of which we’d not seen in a long, long time. Kew Bridge on fire longer than even Will Grigg (Now at Rotherham United, if you were wondering). 

An epic cup run played out in empty stadia

Given how we missed out on seeing it all unfold last time out, for that reason alone I’m hopeful for big things once more. The much maligned league cup, a tournament of B-teams and squad rotation, has a new lease of life as supporters up and down the land are relishing the opportunity to watch football once more. Any excuse. The game with Forest Green Rovers saw a much larger crowd than normal and we can expect more tonight. If any additional lure were needed, there’s cheap pre-match beer and food for early entrants to the stadium. Free chili in The Hive may be a gone from Griffin Park, but the Lionel Road replacement isn’t bad.  

As for the actual game, well on paper it looks about as lopsided as they come. Oldham Athletic rock bottom of League Two, with 6 defeats and 4 points from their opening 8 fixtures. Supporters are protesting against current owners, the Lemsagam family, in a bid to oust the Moroccans whose tenure has seen relegation, the threat of administration and nine managers since 2018. Cripes, not even Nottingham Forest get through them that fast.

Sad times at Ice Station Zebra. Supporters protest.

The Bees, on the other hand, have picked up in the Premier League where we left off in the Championship. Wolves, the latest side to surrender all three points as Brentford beat the clock and our opponents. An edge of game management deployed against us in such brutal fashion by Brighton the week before, had the home fans up in arms and still raging 48 hours later. If this is how they react to David Raya changing his gloves, they’re going to go into meltdown against Brighton (who can also add falling down like the mutant offspring of Michael Douglas and Justin Fletcher to their catalogue of fan enraging tactics).

For me (Clive), and its easy to say this when we finally played a game to within an inch of the rules, it was a necessary way to close it out with just ten men on the pitch. Shandon Baptiste’s second yellow card also meaning he’ll miss out night, which is a real shame, albeit he’ll be back for Liverpool if my calculations are correct. After the Brighton game it was noted on these pages that, “Perhaps we need to be more cynical. More shrewd. Play to the letter of the rules rather than the spirit of the game. Collapse like a felled domino to slow down the clock and disrupt the flow”.

Of course, Thomas doesn’t read this or take tactical advice from the internet. If he did he’d have been ‘out’ last season, but it was pleasing to see us adapt to circumstance after getting off to that flying start. Only Stuart Atwell on VAR keeping the scoreline vaguely respectful for a home team who,  despite all their frustration, managed the princely total of ‘0’ shots on target. 

Don’t shoot me. The stats don’t lie, as Shakira almost once sang. They DID deserve more but you could argue so did we. So does Dean Smith every week. Even Bryan rattling the woodwork late on could have put things further out of sight. Instead, the lesson about balls in the back of then rather than possession being what wins games was once again in evidence. Thankfully, Brentford were the ones delivering it rather than being on the receiving end.

So with the Bees in their groove and the cup providing all it does, I’m expecting a big crowd and a good result. It won’t be easy. Never is. Under estimating any opponent or ‘teams like..’ The cardinal error to make. If anyone knows that over the last few years it’s us. With Oldham perhaps looking for some welcome distraction, they aren’t going to surrender this when the opportunity for morale boosting win and money spinning fourth round tie is at their mercy. It’s going to be fun, that’s for sure. It’s going to be tasty. And that’s just the pies.

Elsewhere, the referee and assistants for the Liverpool game on Saturday have been named. The great news being that Sian Massey-Ellis is part of the team. Her positive reputation more than precedes her as one of English football’s most on the ball officials. The not so good news being that she’s on VAR assistant duties. And for the man in the middle, we’ve been treated to….. Stuart Atwell. Stuart. Atwell. Say no more. His reputation precedes him as one of English football’s most off the boil officials.

Don’t shoot the messenger….

Still, as Rob The BEEE put it: Worst ref in the Prem by a distance…then again, in a game we should lose anyway, rolling the dice on a dodgy decision might not be a bad thing!

Perhaps he’s on to something. Come on Stuart, proves us wrong….

Nick Bruzon

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

1 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon 

Will this be the best deal on deadline day? Are we safe?

31 Aug

Deadline day is here. For unbeaten Brentford (the 1-1 at Aston Villa on Saturday making it WDD from our August Premier league fixtures) there is an unusual lack of speculation. This time of year should be sponsored by Anusol, such is the amount of itchy bum time felt at Lionel Road. There’s normally at least one of our top names linked with a move outside the club. Yet even Ivan Toney’s name has barely been mentioned this time around, despite our main man getting off the mark on Saturday at Villa Park. Instead, all the talk as the window prepares to ‘slam shut’ (TM)  has been around Manchester City, Manchester United – something, something, something Cristiano Ronaldo –  and the possibility of Daniel James leaving them for Leeds United (one of ten clubs currently below Brentford in the top flight). 

Celebrations after taking the lead at Villa. Another top-flight point the eventual reward

I don’t like it. The quiet, I mean. By now we should have complete faith in our directors of football. And, to be fair, I do. Yet that doesn’t make it any easier. Certainly, as an outsider looking in. Old habits die hard and having seen our loyalty tested so many times over the years, despite the fact that in recent times things have always gotten better as the replacements bed in, it doesn’t do anything to dispel those lingering doubts that somebody could rock up with a nuclear sized bid that it would be impossible to ignore. Such is the amount of cash currently sloshing around English, and European, football.

The Dean Holdsworth / Murray Jones ‘deal’ the one which we go back to time and again. Yet something that stands out as the the bit of business, if one can call it that, to show how hard it has been for Brentford to retain / attract talent over the years. Of course things are different now but that doesn’t stop the little devil from tapping on the shoulder. In football just about anything is possible when a dumper truck full of money turns up at the front door. Even as recently as the Birmingham City firesale in 2017, late exits have still delivered the mother load of unexpected shocks. Maxime Colin – gone. Jota – gone. Harlee Dean – gone. Insert ten times better comment.   

Time is a great healer

Honestly, it feels too late for anything to happen now. We’ve no intent, need or desire to sell. The start to Premier League life has been a more than positive one. Unbeaten and only one goal against. That, in Saturday’s draw with Aston Villa. It was a game yours truly missed due to a long overdue few days holiday and, instead, Match Of The Day was the place for source material on that one. It was another point and could have been three. Oh, Vitaly Janelt. Ingenuity and optimism that, despite the rules, was worth a punt in the spur of the moment. David Raya at the other end seeming to keep us in it on more than one occasion. 

Yet despite all the positivity on pitch, and inward movement being lined up off it, old habits die hard. Over an hour watching Sky Sports News last night (prior to changing channels for a fascinating ‘fly-on-the’wall’ documentary about weddings) revealed nothing beyond the fact that we are looking to move Joel Valencia out on loan. That was it for the Bees. No mention of Ivan Toney. Nothing. Not even a whisper. 

Instead, it was all Manchester City discussion now Harry Kane has confirmed he is staying put in the short term and Manchester United. The Ronaldo story about as exciting as they come but, in fact, the outward movement of Daniel James to Leeds United could be one of the shrewdest bits of business over the summer. 

£30m the price for a 23 year old who destroyed the Championship at Swansea City, has already got 74 appearances for the Red Devils under his belt and has been long coveted by Marcelo Bielsa. His powerpoint on the Welsh International must be one bursting with positive feedback and he could be a game changer at Elland Road. Certainly, a signing I’m watching with envious eyes in terms of a divisional rival picking up a player who could slot into any team with the potential to be devastating from the off. Cripes, our Harry is still traumatised by his game-changing wonder goal in the FA Cup fifth round a few seasons back….

The Daniel James impact. Brutal

We know our model. Honestly, how many supporters could say they knew much about Frank Onyeka or Yoanne Wissa prior to them joining the Bees? See also: Jota, Benrahma, Mbeumo et al. Ronaldo and Daniel James are oven ready household names. The sort of players that come with a huge cost, huger expectation and the ability to be immediate game changers. With the exception of Pontus Jansson, and perhaps Kris Ajer, we remain masters of tapping into the unknown. Those players tracked well in advance. Players who can do the business despite remaining largely off the broader radar. Shrewd acquisitions rather than five star names. 

Aston Villa have done similar. Their own business over the window lined up early to replace Manchester City bound Jack Grealish. For me, Clive, they are the ones to have come out of the latest round of wheeler-dealing ahead of the rest. So far. Emi Buendia in particular. We’re well familiar with what he can do from last season. There was more of the same on Saturday. As long as we can resist any 11th hour offers then Brentford could well be saying similar. Although if anybody at Lionel Road wants to do a bit more shopping then nobody would complain. 

Just as long as that ‘out door’ stays firmly shut. Just 16 hours to go. And counting……

Pontus – our most high profile signing in years and still a Bee

Nick Bruzon

Put simply, I can’t wait. See you there.

12 Aug

This is it. Thursday morning. One more wake up to go until Brentford open the 2021-22 Premier League. Arsenal the opponents in a much publicised fixture and the event of our first game at this level, the top flight of English football, since 1947. Cripes. It’s all getting a bit close. And as if that wasn’t enough, we’ve the pleasure of a home tie with Forest Green Rovers in the second round of the league cup which takes place the week after next. A chance to see if we can go one step further than last season’s epic run and eventual semi-final defeat by Tottenham. Ahh, VAR.

Insert usual cliches and well worn tropes about little Brentford. Exciting. First fixture (sorry, done that one already). Underdogs. Tinpot. Bus stops. Stats. XG. Moneyball. Thomas Frank’s luxuriant hair.  Underachieving Arsenal. A club currently sitting in the shadow of North London neighbours Spurs (last season’s table doesn’t lie). Fan TV. 

Come on. It IS luxuriant. Almost Ginola-esque

There we go. That’s about five paragraphs saved from pretty much any article about tomorrow’s game. Including this one. We’ve done Premier League excitement to death. I won’t deny I’m still absolutely buzzing about what will be over the next 9 or so months but it is as much about the chance for us to be part of a full house crowd once more. To have a pre-match pint with friends. And a few after. To share that mutual thrill whenever a new campaign begins. Only alphabetical order keeping Arsenal above Brentford at present. The Bees entering the game in the knowledge that victory on Friday evening, should it happen, will see us the highest placed club in English football. Three points clear of the rest and only 37 games to go.   

Throw it all out the window. The simple fact of the matter is that nobody knows what to expect. Nobody knows what will play out. Will record breaking goal machine Ivan Toney inspire the Bees to victory? Pick up where he left off last season? Who will even start? Two centre-backs or three?  Who plays at right wing back? How will new signing Yoanne Wissa ( the wide man now confirmed on ‘official’ after his being photographed in the crowd during the defeat of Valencia) fit in? Does Frank the Tank start? The only thing we can say for sure is, as suspected / known by just about everyone, Josh Dasilva is out long term. This, something confirmed by Thomas Frank in yesterday’s press conference.

Welcome Wissa etc etc

Ah, Thomas. Head coach par excellence and the man who steered us over the line of play-off hoodoo and into the Prem. His stock is as high as it has ever been amongst the Brentford faithful. Aswell as those dissenting voices from last season. Coventry away, anyone? He also used the occasion of meeting the press to talk about his hopes for, firstly, the Arsenal game: 

I expect two things from Friday; my players will run themselves into the ground and the fans will be right behind us through every minute. This is the kick-off to a new world where we have never been before.

As for longer term, he explained that: “There are two simple targets for me. One is to win the next game which is on Friday against Arsenal. Two is to finish as high as possible. We want to be positive minded and attacking for as many minutes as possible.

Oooh. This could be fun. Kevin Keegan style kamikaze football? Full tilt attack? Or go for broke, grab a goal and then lock things up? The full quota of possible attacking minutes having been reached at that juncture?

For me, Clive, our methodology has only ever been one of taking the game to the opposition. The best form of defence is attack and all that. The play-off final, about as high pressure a game as one would expect, being the consummate example. We attacked from the off and kept going. Swansea City not given a look in. It’s not our way to play overly cautious and as common as anything else to see attack minded substitutions made late on. Even when winning.

Come on. It IS luxuriant (attacking football, I mean)

The difference now being we are going to be playing at a higher level. The step up in quality of opposition about as huge a gulf as they come. Obvious, of course, but something which does call into question how much attacking will be possible. Will we have the nous, or inclination, to put the brakes on as and if needed? Will our attacking threat keep up the drive that has seen 7(seven) goal bracketing become a more regular thing in recent seasons and our GD go through the roof? More importantly, how much of a challenge will they find the step up?

Questions. Questions. Questions. That nobody gives us a significant hope is clear to all. Just look at the bookmakers’ (for research purposes). They’re rarely wrong when it comes to picking winners yet, in truth, nobody knows how this is going to go. Either on Friday against Arsenal or longer term. Brentford are the great unknown. A new team at this level and one looking to become only the 7th (seventh) to win their first ever Premier League fixture. It’s a huge ask, on paper, and there’s going to be a massive global audience on Friday night as things get underway. 

Put simply, I can’t wait. See you there.

Nick Bruzon