Tag Archives: Jack O’Connell

On pitch, we’ve Bees v Blades. Off it, we’ve reached the end of an era.

30 Mar

This could be a very Good Friday indeed. Brentford start the four day weekend with a game at home to a Sheffield United team who at one point were looking like the surprise package for automatic promotion and even now are just a couple of points outside the play-off zone. A Sheffield United team who have as many ex-Bees in their squad as Birmingham City (the difference being that the Blades have picked up the baton and run). Jack O’Connell, the always awesome Simon Moore and that demi-God amongst men, Clayton Donaldson, being the terrific trio.

Yet it’s more than simply the big game we need to look at. Away from the action, it seems that we’ll be saying goodbye in some form to a pair of long standing supporters who are both quite unique club ambassadors.  

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Baby Clayton. A star struck fan. And my son

I love Easter weekend. None of the random days off you get at Christmas. For those of us lucky enough to have regular jobs, there’s the regular going to work on a Monday and Tuesday, have Wednesday and Thursday off, then a shlepp back in for one, tedious day after the Festive break. That’s just a tease. Not a holiday.

But this is different.  We’ve got two shortened weeks with a full fat four day break in the middle. And within that, a footballing double header. The trip to Bristol City takes place on Monday but first up, Sheffield United at Griffin Park.

It’s not just the prospect of some down time but more the chance for a return to footballing action after the interminable International break. At least this time around our lack of league football was tempered by the pleasure of watching various past and present Bees in action – of which the appearances for Chris Mepham and Alan Judge were the clear highlights for well documented reasons. That, and a first ever win for Gibraltar as a FIFA member. Yes, I know we spoke about this last time out but some things are worth trumpeting. Liam Walker, you beauty.  Besides, the alternative is to bang on about England fans in Holland or number 26 earning us a cool half million. And nobody needs that.

So this one is all lined up, at least in my head, for that perfect storm of brilliance. The Easter break beginning with the return of Championship action after a few weeks out and and some old friends in tow. My own son doesn’t know how close he was to being called Clayton rather than Harry. Had the big man got the winning goal in the promotion shoot out with a Doncaster Rovers team currently residing in the ‘where are they now’ files, there was a very public agreement that would have resulted in a somewhat different name on his birth certificate.

Can we get the win, though? Absolutely. Play even half as well as we did at times against Middlesbrough last time out (remember that one? A blizzard going on around us and Romaine Sawyers sent off for two of the softest yellow cards you’ll ever see) and the win will surely come. Certainly, I’m expecting this one to be an entertaining goal-fest. Although going purely on my tipping skills, don’t discount the 0-0 at 23/2.

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Last time out v Middlesbrough. Sergi was denied a goal and an orange ball

That’s to look forward to. Off field, supporters were left in shock at the news that came through on social media at the back end of the week. Namely, that two of the most iconic faces linked to Brentford are moving on.

I have to be honest, I had to choke back the surprise and genuine upset at the story in The Times yesterday which said that Natalie Sawyer, THE face of Sky Sports News, has presented her final show without even a word from her employers to the viewers. No fanfare. No mention. No goodbye. That’s it.  I hope this isn’t true but it would certainly seem to be the case and has been picked up by plenty of other sites, too.

We all know what Natalie has done for our club. How much a public face of Brentford FC she is. How much time and effort she puts in to backing the Bees. Ever popular and always taking the time to talk to the fans. An ardent supporter of the BFCCST and even appearing as a regular on BeesPlayer (THAT Keith Stroud game up at Sheffield United) and hosting our end of season Player of The year awards. Amongst other things.

No doubt all of this will continue but, at the same time, it really is the end of an era if Natalie has presented her final bulletin. Truly an inspirational figure, I can’t help but think Sky will fully appreciate just who they have lost until it is too late. Here’s to bigger things.

Mark Burridge and Natalie Sawyer

The king and queen of Griffin Park commentary

But it’s not just Natalie. King of Stats and Futsal guru Luis Melville has this week worked his final office day at The Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

We all know what incredible work the Trust does and what a KEY individual Luis has been here. Whilst perhaps a little less high profile in the wider public eye, have no doubt that his leaving will as ground shaking as Natalie’s departure. The good news being I’ve seen a tweet from Luis in which he notes that he’ll still be part of the furniture at Griffin Park (good news indeed – and hopefully on comms, too) but perhaps this tweet best sums up the regards in which he is held….

Nick Bruzon

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As Blades go top, will Brentford enjoy more success at Preston?

28 Oct

There’s been a lot going on this week and that’s before a ball has even been kicked : all fine at Loftus road whilst Harlee seems to have forgotten his history and manners in Birmingham. But relax. The latest round of Championship action can now take place, having kicked off last night with Sheffield United winning at Leeds to go to the top of the table. It was a largely one way performance and a deserved win for the Blades. Yet whilst we’ll look a bit further at that shortly, our main focus has to be, as ever, on Brentford and our trip to Preston North End.

It would be fair to say that, after a somewhat rocky start Dean Smith’s Bees are beginning to find their feet. The squad has settled down after a frenetic summer of activity which culminated in that last minute triple cash in to Harry Redknapp (a man currently residing in the ‘where are they now?’ files). Yet with the uncertainty done, spleens vented and players returning from injury things are starting to get back to normal.

Brentford are six unbeaten and have even started to have some of that ‘luck’ whose absence had been frustrating our Head Coach. We’ve 10 points out of the last 18 and will be looking to take the current run of form to 7(seven) games when we play Preston on Saturday afternoon.

There’s more good news for Dean Smith. Specifically, no new injuries. Might he be able to name an unchanged starting XI (following last Saturday’s 3-3 with Sunderland) for the first time this season? Or will Sergi Canos be pushed back into the first team after his substitute’s appearance against the Black Cats?

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A sight for sore eyes last weekend

Having played and scored in the B-team’s 3-1 win over Inter Milan during the week (and count the things right in that sentence) might a first team start be a step too far at present? Moreso with games to come against Birmingham City on Wednesday and then Leeds United next Saturday. We’re all desperate to see Sergi back in action but having already been spannered by injury the last time, up at Aston Villa, caution will surely be the order of the day as he rebuild s match fitness.

With Lewis Macleod also getting B-team minutes under his belt after that long, long recuperation there’s more good news on the horizon for Dean. I’d imagine that Preston will be a trip too far for Lewis, at least now, but the midfield options available in a few weeks time could cause some real selection posers.

Still, all that is then. This is now. Let’s focus on the present. With many Brentford fans already licking their lips at the prospect of our midweek trip to Birmingham following Harlee’s comments on Thursday, keeping our focus today will be imperative. Preston are no slouches and know that a win will take them into the play off zone, potentially as high as fourth place following that defeat for Leeds United last night. This, after finishing just below our own top ten Bees in a more than impressive 11th place last season.

Whilst we’ve had plenty of joy against Preston in recent seasons (including that penalty – for Alan Judge, in League One) past performance is not indicative of current form. “It will be a tough ask for us” said Dean in Thursday’s press conference and he’s not wrong. But he has the options at his disposal to answer that ask. As long as he locks it up at the back.

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Happier times at the denouement of out promotion campaign

Yoann Barbet and Chris Mepham can both count themselves very unlucky to have lost out in recent weeks. With three first half goals shipped against Sunderland last Saturday, could this be today’s ‘change’? Or has Dean nailed his selection colours to the mast and this is it? At 3pm, we find out.

We couldn’t end today’s column without a brief nod to the Sheffield United connection . Not so much Jack O’Connell and the magnificent Clayton Donaldson (who I STILL miss) or Keith Stroud (who I don’t) but more their form. Like Brentford three seasons ago, The Blades have come up from League One and taken the division by storm. But whereas we missed our chance to go top in the Boxing Day game with Ipswich Town (move along, nothing to see there) there was no fluffing of the lines for United last night.

Their performance against Leeds was fully deserving of their position and whilst things may have shifted around come 5pm, nobody can deny who is currently top of the table. Yet for me (Clive) the telling stat is in that L column. United have lost four games. Brentford have lost 4 games. The difference being the ability to turn draws into victory. The Blades have proved to have the cutting edge in the box, winning their other 10. If we can get that bit right then who know how high we can go?

The draw at Middlesbrough last time we travelled showed just what this side can do. Here’s to more of that spirit this afternoon. Moreso, given Deepdale has been a relatively happy hunting ground for us in recent seasons whilst, for personal reasons, Preston are always a club I’ve followed with particular interest.

Preston letter

Keith never did write back. Or did he…?

To date, my first and only foray into the world of professional football club management. It was an application that would eventually prove fruitless. I never heard back with an interview date and can only assume that, in those pre-internet days the follow up letter got lost somewhere in the Royal Mail. Had the postal service done their job properly, who knows how things might have turned out had  a then struggling North End taken that gamble?

Not well, being my guess.

Nick Bruzon

 

Bring on the Blades. Time to chop down the Forest

5 Aug

For gods sake… you don’t want to go up Brentford’. ‘Smith out’. Just some of the tongue-in-cheek comments after Brentford crashed out of the play-off zone and down to eighth place as the Championship kicked off in anger on Friday night. A win for Nottingham Forest combined with a point apiece for Sunderland and Derby County saw the Bees overtaken before we’ve even got our boots on. But with the trip to Sheffield United finally here, the moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived.

Of course the table is purely in an embryonic and predominantly alphabetical state at present. Whilst Mark Warburton and his Nottingham Forest team will undoubtedly be pleased with the win that sends them temporarily top of the pile, it is nothing more than a statistical nicety for now. Newcastle United were bottom of the lot with nil points after two games last season and look how that all turned out.

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Forest top the lot.

And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust …. the rest of this article can now be found in the Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Certainly, if there’s no Marcos Tea Bar at Lionel Road it will be an opportunity missed.

All proceeds from any sales will go to the Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given something very special. A 2017/18 third team shirt with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in the EFL typeface. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop.  Anyone who has read any of this before will know what a kit nerd yours truly is so when I say this is rare, take that in good faith!

To be in with a chance of owning it, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before selecting a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

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Nick Bruzon

A great deadline day. And how often do we say that?

1 Sep

So that’s that. The transfer window has slammed shut (TM) and Brentford could, arguably, be said to be stronger coming out of it than we are going in to it (somebody should use that one). Winger Sullay Kaikai comes in on loan  from Crystal Palace whilst left back Rico Henry joins former Walsall team mate Romaine Sawyers, signing on a massive five year contract. Newcastle United, Leicester City and Hull remain disappointed (at least from a Bees perspective) as our out door barely even creaked

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Sullay Kaikai on ‘official’ – now THAT’s a signing photo

 

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Ryan Woods signs his extension – is that really a contract?

 

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.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Brentford hung onto a win against Forest last time out

 

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

 

Nick Bruzon

Ricky Shakes Bees as Jack joins Blades

9 Jul

The rumour mill has done it again, in part, as Jack O’Connell’s move from Brentford to Sheffield United was confirmed yesterday. With the other subject for discussion, Alan McCormack, taking part in our 2-1 defeat to Boreham Wood despite being reported to have held talks with Southend United the future is less clear there.

First up, Jack O’Connell . He leaves Griffin Park for Bramall Lane, having spent 18 months and featured 18 times for Brentford. The signing of John Egan made it 5 centre backs on the books and so it was perhaps inevitable that there would be some outward movement in that position. With Yoann Barbet more than demonstrating his ability last season, full Danish international Andreas Bjelland back from that horrendous injury and Harlee Dean (who it is hard to believe is still only 24) well established perhaps Jack has just found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Jack O'Connell signs

Jack has swapped Bees for Blades

It’s a real shame on an individual level. I really thought he had the making of a great player. Correction, I think Jack has the makings of a great player.  It just won’t be with the Bees.

Jack looked like he might be forging a partnership with James Tarkowski at one point around Christmas time. He had , of course, stepped in to replace Harlee after a three game ban for seeing red against Nottingham Forest (granted, a moment that saw the visitors’ Jonathan Williams collapse like a sack of spuds before a Lazarus style recovery). It was a period that saw us earn 5 points out of 9 and one which culminated in his equaliser in the 2-2 draw at Fulham.

The fans went delirious and, but for a rogue linesman, the Bees would conceivably have gone on to pick up all three points that afternoon. Jack’s reward, keeping his place for the next game at Cardiff City despite Harlee’s ban having been served. Sadly, it wasn’t to be and a 3-2 defeat saw him consigned once more to the bench.

Like Alfie Mawson and Will Grigg last season, players have shown they can leave  Griffin Park for League 1 and earn a return to the Championship. Sheffield United have ‘been there and done it’ many times before. I have no doubt in the potential of Jack to help them do it again. Good luck !

The other transfer story doing the rounds surrounded Alan McCormack , supposedly holding talks with Southend United. Those who made the trip to Boreham Wood or tuned in to hear Mark Burridge and Charlie MacDonald describe the action on Bees Player HD would have been well aware that last night he was lining up for the Bees.

What can you say about that game? Not much, beyond well done to a Boreham Wood side who were missing Yakubu. (Yes. That one) but featured former Bees cult hero Ricky Shakes.

It was a pre-season loosener after we’ve been back in training for about five minutes and they won. Nicely done, Boreham. Dean Smith certainly made his feelings clear in the post match interview that talked of a great exercise in which he got exactly what he wanted. You can read more of that one on the official site.

For the Bees, of course a victory by any margin would have been nice but what would it have told us? Not much. Traditionally, these games see multiple players used and this was once more the case. Dean Smith picking two almost entirely different line ups with Lasse Vibe, Romaine Sawyers, Dan Bentley, Josh McEachran, Alan Judge and Sam Saunders amongst the notable absentees.

On the plus side, Lewis Macleod is fit. And scored. This is huge. Like Scott Hogan, a player with huge potential but one who has faced the best part of 18 months out of action. Here’s hoping that like Scott, all the pain and effort reaps a just reward.

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The Bees, in sponsor free kit, lost out by the odd goal in three

Then again, this does give head coach Dean Smith even more of a challenge as to whom he picks from an already voluminous set of midfield options.  Romaine Sawyers is in whilst Lewis is, cliché alert, ‘like a new signing‘. With John Swift back at Chelsea, Sergi Canos at Liverpool / ?  and Jota on loan (surely that will just be a matter of time before, sadly, formalities are completed) what next ?

Alan Judge continues his return from injury although the pessimist in me suspects that once fit, he’ll be the subject of renewed interest from a whole host of suitors. But it is the question of Macca that really intrigues. The iron fist within our velvet glove of a midfield, is a player of his style a thing of the past or do we still need that tough tackling and experience?

For me Clive, it’s the later. This is the Championship, not a nursery. Will he start every game? Unlikely. Do we have an alternative with his steel when needed? I can’t see one at the moment.

And that’s not meant as any disrespect to any of the wonderful individuals we are assembling in a truly impressive squad. But a bit of variety can only be a good thing and, personally, I’d love to see a player with his very particular set of skills, skills acquired over a long career, retained on the Griffin Park playing staff. They are skills that make him a nightmare for opponents but will Dean and the team decide they are still needed?

Here’s hoping the right decision is taken.

Nick Bruzon 

And finally…. :   The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. For all the info, the highs, the lows, more highs then  you can do so now.

Its been a wonderful three years. Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading.

 

What’s not happening at Liverpool is the real story

8 Jul

A few days of domestic calm have been followed by more stories about Brentford now doing the rounds. Jack O’Connell to Sheffield United and Alan McCormack to Southend United are the latest. I have no idea how accurate these are but, for now, we probably need to show the rumour mill a little bit more respect given the success rate that saw that triple transfer swoop and Jake Bidwell’s departure for Loftus Road successfully called. For me though, I have more interest in what is happening at Liverpool. Or, rather, what isn’t happening at Liverpool.

Despite the BBC reporting on Tuesday that the Anfield club have accepted a bid for Sergi Canos from Norwich City, at the time of writing (6am, Friday) there is still now news as to whether he has even had a medical with the Norfolk club.

Likewise Bristol City boss Lee Johnson, who is also courting the Spanish wunderkind, has been forced to admit to the Bristol Post, “It’s a player we’re interested in – that’s no secret” adding… “but a lot of things have got to go on to be able to get that one through.”

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Sergi – oh, to see more of the same

Aside from the lack of basic respect – “he’s a player”, surely the choice of phrase –  does this suggest Sergi is not overly keen on move to the West Country or East Anglia? Could we yet see him back at Brentford, even if on loan? £2.5million is a hefty amount in anybody’s book and something Dean Smith acknowledged as “beyond us” . Yet, given how well he fared last time out, might Liverpool also find it in their longer term interests to allow the player to continue his growth whilst escalating his long term value?

Look, it’s probably just wishful thinking and let’s not forget that Liverpool’s current valuation has been met.  Yet having seen what Sergi did at Griffin Park last season, should he not wish to make either of those moves then I can only live in hope. Moreso, given that other story currently out, via Tim Street in Get West London , about Dean Smith looking to get two more wingers

As for those O’Connell and McCormack stories, nobody could deny centre back and centre midfield are somewhat crowded these days. mores with the return to fitness of Andreas Bjelland. That’s going to be  case of ‘watch this space’ and we can discuss more as/if these gather any pace.

Back at Griffin Park, could we get a shirt update today? Following the announcement out of Brentford ‘official’ on Wednesday, does this now constitute ‘the coming days’…? Or is that just further wishful thinking from yours truly?

Kitman Bob, Mark Devlin, Mr. Benham. Any chance of giving the fans a look ?

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Are we now in ‘The coming days’ ?

Nick Bruzon

And finally…. :   The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. For all the info, the highs, the lows, more highs (especially about Sergi’s time at Griffin Park) then  you can do so now.

Its been a wonderful three years. Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading

Sawyers, Egan, Bentley all IN. And a return for Andy Scout

2 Jul

Well that was some day in TW8. Brentford boss Dean Smith embarked on a triple transfer swoop that has sent the fans into overdrive whilst, no doubt, earning further friends at Walsall. Romaine Sawyers IN. Daniel Bentley IN. John Egan IN. Oh, and then there was the small matter of captain Jake Bidwell joining QPR. There’ll be a separate piece on that one but, for now, we’ll simply say “good luck” and politely leave it there.

We’d all heard the rumours. We’d all scoured the local press looking for some crumb of Brentford related news in the lean summer months since the season ended. These names have been doing the rounds for some time but, being honest, did we expect to get them all? On day 1?

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Official twitter has a triple transfer montage

More to the point, how did the local press get it so right this time? And for so long? I’ve long been scornful of a rumour mill that seems as much miss as it is hit. Throw enough mud and some will stick. However, on this on you have to say ‘hats off’ for calling them all, including the news about Jake, spot on.

This is nothing but stunning. Sawyers and Egan were both in the League 1 team of the year last season, an honour Bentley had the season previous as Southend got promoted via the play off final. That, a game Sam Saunders will remember (although perhaps for the wrong reasons) after injury forced him to leave the pitch quicker than you could say “And this is Saunders territory”, just seconds after kick off.

What does this all mean for the rest of the squad? Egan is a centre back and with Harlee Dean, Jack O’Connell, Andreas Bjelland and Yoann Barbet could somebody else be moving on? Might Dean be moving to a formation with three central defenders? Or is it a case of him having to try and keep a lot of players very happy with a place on the bench? Either way, this level of competition can only be a good thing.

As for Daniel Bentley, he comes very highly rated and there is a genuine sense of excitement at his joining. The obvious question is if he will be in line to support or replace David Button. In my eyes, he ran Alan Judge oh so close for player of the season last time out and helped keep the good ship Brentford afloat when things were, shall we politely say, going through a bit of a rough patch on field.

Reading the press release, Phil Giles has noted that, “As it stands all three goalkeepers, including Jack Bonham, will be competing to be first choice goalkeeper against Huddersfield on the opening day of the season.” Whilst I have no doubt that is true, as it stands, I can’t believe having al three on our books will be a long term option. Will David sign the new contract he has been offered? Will Daniel have to be content as an understudy at first? Or will it be a case of Bentley & Bonham being our goalkeeping 1-2 as we head into 2016/17?

Then there’s Romaine Sawyers. He earned plaudits all last season and no more so than as Walsall dumped Brentford out of the FA Cup in the game we don’t talk about. They deserved it that day and he was wonderful. With John Swift back at Chelsea, Sergi Canos back at Liverpool and Jota still on his ‘loan’ in Spain there’s certainly room for an attacking midfielder.

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Romaine sports the signing scarf

Yesterday was nothing but brilliant.

Off the field, it was also confirmed that Andy Scott is now back at Brentford in an official capacity, as Chief Scout. Whilst Matthew Benham had previously alluded to his work for us, Andy is now fully on board with Phil Giles noting “I have been working with Andy over the last year or more, and he has been invaluable in identifying players and providing detailed scouting reports on all of our targets.

Andy, if you are reading then congratulations. It’s great to have you back. I’l never forget those goals or that night against Everton. Now, if you could hot foot it up to Liverpool and start compiling a dossier, there’s a chap called Sergi I think you might like to take a look at……

Nick Bruzon

And finally…. :  Andy, Daniel, Romaine or John, If you are reading ( you aren’t)  The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. For all the info, the highs, the lows, more highs about the club you are joining then  you can do so now.

Its been a wonderful three years. Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading

No pressure, lads. This is one run that needs to continue

5 Mar

Charlton Athletic are the visitors to Griffin Park today and, on paper, surely Brentford couldn’t have picked their opponents better had we tried? The Addicks are on an absolutely woeful run of form that has seen them win only once in their last 18 games. That, a 4-1 victory against fellow relegation candidates Rotherham United. They’ve shipped 8 goals in their last three games alone whilst the miserable streak included successive 6-0 and 5-0 defeats at Hull City and Huddersfield Town respectively back in January.

So bad is their current run that even hapless Bolton Wanderers have overtaken them to leave Charlton rooted to the bottom of the Championship table and, seemingly, doomed. My online bookmaker has the Bees as odds-on favourites today whilst the ‘away’ win is a hefty 15/4. Surely there can be only one result: three points for Brentford?

Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s nothing more dangerous than a team staring down the barrel. Moreso, one which knows that should they lose today the gap to safety could be as much as ten points (plus a goal difference that would be deemed an insult to the word ‘goal’). Many of us thought last Saturday would be a ‘banker’. How wrong that turned out to be and I don’t expect any difference today.

We’ve no Max Colin whilst Dean Smith must decide whether to recall Yoann Barbet. It’s still too soon for Scott Hogan to be considered although the centre forward must be chomping at the bit to get back to action after so long out. He’ll have been heartened by his recent development squad goal and one can only assume the Griffin Park faithful will see him on the pitch before the season is out.

Much closer to a return is Alan McCormack. How the Bees have missed a player of both his savoir-faire and firmness in the challenge over these last few months. It’s all very well having a team of potential stars but how much better to have the likes of a Toumani or Macca alongside them in the midfield? You can’t put a price on experience and I’m as excited at his potential involvement as anything else today.

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Could Alan McCormack feature today?

Barring a statistical miracle/disaster (delete as applicable) Brentford’s season is over. At least, in terms of exiting the division. The top 6 are just too good whilst the bottom four look to be too far adrift. Whilst it would have been wonderful to push on from last campaign, to be lining up a third season in this division is still no bad thing at all when you look at where we have come from and, equally, what we’ve been through.

I just hope that rather than limp over the line, the lads give it their all. Aswell as today’s game, next Saturday sees the 237 derby as we head down the road for that most anticipated of encounters with the Loftus Road mob. Likewise, we’ve still got a home game with Fulham along with 9 other matches.

There’s plenty to play for, with finishing the season as top dogs in West London (at least from a Championship perspective now that Chelsea appear to have ditched their brief flirtation with relegation) at the top of that agenda for me. Likewise, a top ten finish would be something to be tremendously proud of and, from a personal note, my son (almost three) will be at the game today.

It’s been nothing but “Daddy Bees, Daddy Bees” , “Harlee“and “Buzz, Buzz” in our house this week whilst, from a statistical perspective, he’s never seen the Bees lose. All the mathematical models in the world count for nothing when you’ve got something as simple as a lucky shirt, a pair of magic pants or a child who’s never tasted the pain of a loss.

No pressure, lads. Please don’t end his run today. Explaining defeat could be as tricky a concept as the birds and the bees.

Hopefully both are conversations that will be a long time coming…

HB and HD

Harlee (and Buzz) very much favourites in our house

Nick Bruzon

Bees rediscover their midfield mojo in style

24 Feb

Well that was more like it. Brentford got back to winning ways last night, sweeping Wolves away in a 3-0 win that was every bit as comprehensive as it suggests . However, it wasn’t so much the scoreline as the manner of the victory which really impressed.

Sergi Canos and Alan Judge were rampant going forward whilst John Swift finally showed the potential he has been threatening. He, of all players, has come in for a lot of criticism in recent weeks (and rightly so, based on some of the ‘performances’) but that was infinitely better. Two goals (Canos getting the other) were due reward for a performance packed full of running, tricks and flicks. It just showed what the team can do when they are encouraged to advance with the ball and take it forwards.

Wolves, on the other hand, were abject. Sideways pass followed sideways pass across the back whilst the midfield had more holes than a Swiss cheese. It’s almost like they’d swapped place with Marinus era Brentford. Optimistic punts out to the flank, the opening passage aside, produced little threat whilst the returning George Saville was conspicuous by his lack of impact upon finally entering the field of play. He’d have been aswell trying his luck in a hotel car park as at Griffin Park, such was his lack of penetration.

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George Saville prepares to play. Apparently

With no offence meant to anybody who travelled down from Molineux, Wolves didn’t provide the sternest test. Let’s not kid ourselves about that. Then again, you can only beat the team who are put out in front of you.

We went for it and were duly rewarded . The fans left happy and John Swift finally put in a performance worthy of his illustrious background . Nico Yennaris, in his customary right back berth due to the absent Max Colin, took another step towards proving all the doubters wrong whilst Ryan Woods very much enjoyed the freedom afforded to him in the midfield.

Indeed, Colin wasn’t the only Griffin Park regular absent last night. Despite no longer being suspended following his red card at Hillsborough, Yoann Barbet missed out to Jack O’Connell as the Bees kept their first clean sheet since the 0-0 with Brighton back on Boxing Day. Likewise Lewis Macleod who, whilst hardly a ‘regular’, looks as though he will be missing for another few weeks with an injury. I know, I was surprised too,

Dean Smith told waiting journalists afterwards that, “It was a really good performance matched by the result and a clean sheet too. We wanted to start on the front foot with three ball carriers and I thought we did that.”

Indeed we did. What a shame we haven’t tried / been able to do that more this season. That said, with the next two games against teams in the dropzone (Rotherham United and Charlton Athletic) there is an excellent chance to continue in this style .

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View from the terrace – Swift and team celebrate our third goal

The irony of my own observation in yesterday’s column, saying , “Gone is the excitement, gone is the open attacking play, gone is the feeling that when we put our minds to it we could carve teams open for fun”.

Wow. Wasn’t that thrown back with some style? The big question is, can we do it again?

Brentford are now 17 points off the relegation zone and 11 away from the play off spots. Freed from the shackles of having to worry about either prospect, could we now see the team continue to play with a bit more freedom? Or was this just a flash in the pan? Here’s hoping for the former !

As a final note, was it Alan Partridge day in TW8? Both Dean Smith and Peter Gilham (on sparkling form, as ever, during Centre Circle Challenge) opted for an almost identikit 80’s suit trousers and Adidas tracksuit top combo in a look that was right out of the North Norfolk Digital DJ’s sport-casual range.

Where was the silver-badged black jacket seen on the likes of Mike Sullivan and Mark Chapman in the past? Is this a new club dress code? Or was it just the most sensible option in the cold (although, personally, I’d have just opted for a coat)? Then again even Marco Djuricin and John Swift both turned out in gloves.

Whilst normally one would suggest that if a footballer is cold, “just run a bit”,  on last night’s performance it would take the most churlish of individuals to find fault with the effort on display.

Here’s to doing it all again. And if gloves are what it takes, then let’s crack out the winter woolies.

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Previous encounter – the summer fashions were ‘off limits’ last night

 

Nick Bruzon