Tag Archives: Jon Toral

As Bees prepare to go to Hull, will Championship form prevail or could ‘that stat’ take hold ?

7 Dec

Another weekend approaches. For some, the stress of Christmas shopping. For others, the chance for some time out from the relentlessness of the Festive build up and the excitement of football. Personally, my focus will be all about Kingston-upon-Hull rather than Kingston shopping centre. The current UK City of Culture being the destination this Saturday for a Brentford team looking to pick up where we left off against Fulham last weekend. That wonderful 3-1 win a perfect return to winning ways for Dean Smith’s team. Likewise, there’s still an interest at the bottom of the table where #tentimesbetter Birmingham City slithered back into the relegation zone following another defeat on Monday night.

Ollie v Fulham

Another afternoon, another win. This time Fulham were the team to be steam-rollered

First up, Brentford and our trip to Hull City. Spirits should be high in Dean Smith’s camp. Last weekend’s obliteration of Fulham (where only David Button kept it respectable) saw the Bees rise up the table to within a win of eighth placed Leeds United. Those ‘difficult’ first few months – both in terms of results and the deadline day firesale to Birmingham City – all seem a long way off now. True, we’ve still had some iffy moments (such as the finish up the road last Monday, the first half with Sunderland or the entire game with Burton Albion) but the team seems a lot more settled.

A feat all the more impressive given how patched together we are at present. At least, on the surface. Two fullbacks playing out side of their traditional positions and Romaine Sawyers having to spend most of Saturday operating as frontman / false 9 (delete as applicable). Yet Josh Clarke and Yoann Barbet have more than settled in to moving around the pitch whilst you can’t deny the impact Romaine had against Fulham. Certainly he was my man of the match, for whatever that’s worth, although one would suspect his position there won’t be a permanent one !

It’s funny, because with the transfer window opening next month all the talk is likely to be about Ryan Woods. A player very much in form, with a huge reputation, incredible ability and now well into his third season at Griffin Park he is ‘classic’ transfer target material. Yet, for me, Josh Clarke would be an equal worry – certainly in terms of players who might end up coming under the spotlight. His talent is without question; his versatility a real strength. At a time when we’ve had to move things around he’s played at left back, right back and in his traditional mid-filed berth. He overlaps on the break and has even weighed in with the odd goal. If ever there was an unsung hero for this season then, for me, it’s Josh.

All being well, we won’t need / choose to sell anybody in January. All being well, players will look further ahead and realise the benefits of staying at Griffin Park. Certainly, it hasn’t worked out too well for the Birmingham City three. Rather than striding towards the Premier League, they find themselves doing their best to pay a visit to League One with only Sunderland and Burton Albion below The Blues in the table.

Desperately unlucky Maxime Colin finds himself injured whilst Jota has hardly settled into the side. His starring role has been reduced to one of advertising the club’s Christmas range.

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Sad times – all round

As for poor old Harlee Dean, where do you start? He certainly made a rod for his own back. As if his infamous ‘Ten Times Better’ quote about the Bees (a clear contender for the 2017/18 Russell Slade celebrated like the FA Cup award ) wasn’t bad enough, he now misses the Blues trip to Fulham on Saturday after getting sent off against Wolves on Monday night.

In case we needed any reminding of that one (the soundbite rather than the red card) then here you go. Some things deserve to be repeated:  “We’ve got quality in that squad. I’ve been in teams where we’ve finished fifth in this league and missed out on promotion by play offs. And this squad is ten times better than that. Its just about getting the balance right.

Look. I didn’t want to overly talk about Birmingham City today. It’s kind of just happened as the words have fallen out. But they’re not setting the world on fire and having blown all that cash back at the end of August (thank you very much) I can’t see them being allowed to do a repeat in January. That’s their issue though. Work with what they’ve got left, just like we’ve had to do after selling them some prize assets. And Harlee.

Personally, I wrote some pretty emotive stuff about them and us at the time. Especially the morning after deadline day. I stand by that in terms of how I felt. It was raw, it was a shock and on the surface it seemed like footballing suicide for a team that were, back then, struggling to play their way out of a paperbag. Form that continued in the immediate aftermath. Indeed, there’s a part of me that still aches to think of Jota in the doldrums when he was so adored, and so elegant, at Griffin Park. Football is a passionate game and that triple sale, as much in the timing and the destination, came like a bolt from the blue. Quite literally.

Yet, and has been said many times, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. I know nothing of any real insight. I’ve never denied it. Things have worked out. And how! Meanwhile, Birmingham City are in their own mess. That’s their board’s problem. So long and thanks for all the cash.

Brentford continue their inxeroable ascent of the Championship table with the prospect of free scoring Emiliano Marcondes to come in January and Alan Judge putting in 45 minutes for the B-team. His goalscoring appearance against Barnet on Tuesday probably getting the biggest cheer of the week in our house (see also: return of Lewis Macleod v Fulham). Moreso, his declaration that he feels “normal-ish” .

You can get that story in full on ‘official’.

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Official have all the news on this one !

And so with confidence high, we head North on Saturday. The starting XI seems a lot more settled and we have form on our side. The Bees have only lost once in the last thirteen league games (Cardiff City away) and now have the top third of the table is in our sights. Facing us, a Hull City side sitting just outside the relegation spots and featuring former Bee Jon Toral.

On paper you’d call this one as ‘away’ win . If you were a neutral. Nothing is that cut and dried when you are a fan though. The jinx conscious amongst us might point to their sacking manager Leonid Slutsky during the week.

The reverse effect to winning manager of the month (an award that may aswell come with ‘L’ tagged on), the appointment of a caretaker comes with that almost inevitable fillip of a team in decline winning their next game.

Then there’s the ‘B’ team thing. Hull City have only recorded four league wins all season. All four have come against teams whose name start with the letter B.
4-1 v Burton (h);
4-0 v Bolton (h)
6-1 v Birmingham City (h) . Stop. Sniggering…
1-0 v Barnsley (a)

Granted, that’s not in the Luis Melville category of statistical genius, but much has been made of it in the media and it makes semi-interesting review. Until you hit the stumbling block of their game with Bristol City last month. That one ended in a 3-2 defeat to The Robins .

Jinx over. The road is clear for the Bees to do their thing. Moreso given I’ve not, to date, read of a caretaker being appointed. Instead, it looks as though they are going to jump straight to Nigel Adkins. Certainly, if the local press is to be believed.

As for the thing that will really impact us, on field performance, I’d suggest the BBC or Beesotted are your best bets. Honestly, I haven’t seen enough this season to form a significant opinion about how reflective of ability Hull City’s current position genuinely is. However, as somebody far wiser than me once said: “The table doesn’t lie”. Nor do the bookmakers, who have Brentford as 6/5 favourites to win this one.

Then again. They can’t call it and all three results are at a generous price. Roll on Saturday when we find out if form will prevail.

Nick Bruzon

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Has Harlee scored a huge own goal (or is he just talking b*llocks)? As for that cup draw….

27 Oct

It says something when the Haribo cup draw was only the second most nonsensical thing in the football world on Thursday. Harlee Dean, perhaps sore at missing out on this season’s Brentford captaincy to Nico Yennaris, has done some silly things in his time. Namely the ogs, suicidal back passes, red cards, woeful positioning and ‘going again’. But his motivational speech for Birmingham City prior to their forthcoming derby with Aston Villa has potentially topped the lot.

I’m not going to sit here and overly slag him off. His words generate their own, natural, reaction. Besides, despite the errors from somebody learning the game Harlee more than had his positive moments over six years at Griffin Park. Very much the unsung hero, he was one of my son’s favourite players (after Sam and Jota ). He is  also one of a very elite group – a Brentford player to score at Wembley – and, of course, would later help us to promotion. Let’s not forget our former captain is the current Bees player of the year. And now he is at Birmingham City.

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Harlee – heart on his sleeve.

Perhaps it is having to be content with a place on the bench that has triggered him to show some ‘passion’. To try and endear himself to a home side whose supporters must be frustrated at their current anti-form. Moreso, having spent huge amounts in the summer transfer window. To try and build some positivity at St. Andrews ahead of the Aston Villa game on Sunday lunchtime.

Anyway, there’s already enough flak out there for the player without me adding to it. This, after his claim that the current Birmingham City squad  – who still sit below the Bees in the table – is 10 (ten) times better than that which he himself was a part of when we finished fifth in the Championship under Mark Warburton.

His interview, which you can see below (and skip to about 1.20 to bypass the rest of the nonsense) , contains the gem:

“We’ve got quality in that squad. I’ve been in teams where we’ve finished fifth in this league and missed out on promotion by play offs. and this squad is ten times better than that. Its just about getting the balance right”.

On the one hand, a Brentford squad containing the likes of: David Button, Jake Bidwell, Number 26, Nico Yennaris, Sam Saunders, Moses Odubajo, Stuart Dallas, Alan Judge, Jon Toral, Jota, Alex Pritchard, Andre Gray, Scott Hogan. That’s before you add the experience provided by the likes of Dougie, Macca, King Kev and Toumani.

On the other, a Birmingham City squad whose record in the league since Harlee joined has been: LLLDWLWL. Five defeats out of eight. Including the 6-1 humping at Hull City and most recently a 2-0 loss at Millwall (although he was only part of the squad that day). Even we’ve beaten them this season !

Deluded? Desperate? Or just panicked? Looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights, the famous 1000 yard stare coming to the fore, was this simply a case of opening his mouth then engaging brain in order to fill dead air? Or just some misguided attempt to win over the fans before a game which will finish 1-1 (standard Aston Villa result).

One expects a player to back his new team. I’m not that naive. Yet this came over as a cheap dig and crass stupidity. Forgetful of his own past where, but for some of our own defensive errors at a time when Tony Craig was bizzarely kept out of the team, a squad that could well have reached the Premier League.

With Brentford travelling to Birmingham on Wednesday night, all he has done is further galvanise the already vocal Bees support ahead of that one. Dean Smith must be sitting back and chuckling at his own team talk having been delivered already. Don’t be surprised to see Nico given the captain’s armband in that one.

Nice one, Harlee. And thank you. For once I’m hoping you really have scored another own goal.

Bees 1-0 v Watford Warburton

Warbs’ squad. Apparently, a tenth of the talent as that now at Birmingham City

Back in the world of real football, the draw for the fifth round of the Haribo sponsored EFL cup look place yesterday. Eventually. In yet another publicity stunt masquerading as an ‘error’, the draw was massively delayed due to what was described as a twitter glitch. This, a competition, where previous draws have seen the live Facebook feed from Thailand (count the things already wrong with that sentence) mysteriously drop as Charlton were seemingly drawn against both Exeter AND Cheltenham. The confusion of round two with the three ball system.The third round taking place at 4.30am, from China. But not televised.

All of which has, coincidentally, got the drinks company name trending on social media. Something which once again happened yesterday before the draw would eventually take place over an hour after it was due to start. Who’d have thought it?

Yawn. Boycott.  I’m certainly not going to start buying their product now. Out of principal. And taste. If nothing else, they sponsor Reading.

Although perhaps, in retrospect, this is all Harlee is guilty of. Talking something up to get us publicising it. Let’s be honest, Birmingham City on a Wednesday night probably wouldn’t have been top of the list a month ago.

Now though… Things have just got very tasty. Unlike a certain soft drink.

Buzzette REd Bull

No C****** for this Bees fan. It’s Red Bull all the way

Nick Bruzon

There’s more than one anniversary to commemorate. Could the same thing happen again?

23 Feb

With Brentford due to entertain Rotherham United this Saturday, the game sees a much heralded anniversary being marked – fifty years since the Loftus Road mob failed in their attempt to cast the Bees out of Griffin Park and take over the club. Whilst the club are understandably, marking this date with all the correct protocol and build up, it has overshadowed another anniversary. Namely, Friday 24 February being two years to the day that the Bees enjoyed 74% possession and an incredible 43 shots in a 4-0 Championship defeat of Blackpool.

Of course, the club have numerous articles on the doomed QPR affair. You can see the latest on ‘official’ at present (well worth a look) whilst the Rotherham game sees the event being given formal recognition.

Yet the Blackpool game also deserves a look back. If only for the manner in which Brentford played so soon after the news that Mark Warburton would eventually be moving on, unable to co-exist alongside Matthew Benham and his (then new) ‘mathematical model’.

Bees 1-0 v Watford Warburton

Warbs – more popular at the time than the prospect of the mathematical model

Of course, nobody knew then what we do now. It was decision which seemed crazy at the time . Moreso, given that the Blackpool game seemed a vindication of everything the club had done to get to that point. Equally though, it is one which now sees us about to embark on a fourth season of Championship football. The thought of any QPR style buy out nothing but a bad memory as Matthew Benham’s investment in Brentford continues apace.

So with Saturday seeing us prepare to play Rotherham United and (frankly) jeer QPR, the Last Word takes the chance to step back in time and remember, as if ‘live’, what we did against Blackpool. It was as close as we’ll get to those wonderful brackets that come with 7(seven) goals. Then again, with the divisional whipping boys next up, could Brentford do the same again two years on…..?

25 February 2015. 4 goals, 43 shots, 74% possession. That’s some mathematical model.

Brentford blew aside Blackpool last night like a crisp packet caught on the breeze as they recorded a second win in as many games. The 4-0 scoreline does little to reflect the one sided nature of a game in which we registered 43 shots to the visitors 2 and had 74% possession. Blackpool, who spent much of the game with ten men following a red card for Charles Dunne, offered nothing and, being honest, could have made the long journey home on the wrong end of a bracketing had we been that bit more clinical.

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Those shots in full

As it was, Jon Toral recorded a hat trick with two early goals starting proceedings and looking as though the floodgates might open. With the crowd exhorting Toumani to shoot at every opportunity, expectation was high. Even ‘the left side, Ealing Road’, joined in with the cheering before meeting the good natured retort “You only sing when your winning” from the rest of the stand.

Instead, it stayed at two until just after half time when Andre Gray’s effort eventually squeezed though, and off, a sea of legs for 3-0. And that was it until Toral was forced to make room on his mantelpiece for a match-ball as he stabbed home from close range just before the final whistle.

4-0 was no more than we deserved but with everybody above us (barring Bournemouth who play tonight) winning, it was an essential result. Yes, we could have had more but three points had to be the priority against a team who were desperate for a result and, for a moment, looked as though they might even grab the opening goal.

However, it was just a moment and, with the threat gone, Brentford recorded a victory that sees us sitting immediately outside the playoff zone, just two points off third place. All talk of Matthew Benham’s mathematical model has been pushed firmly to the back of the mind as 7(seven) goals in two games suggest something is working just fine as things currently stand. Hey, we even scored from a corner (albeit, the traditional ball into the penalty box rather than the much maligned ‘short’ variety).

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In the interest of balance I’m looking for a negative about our performance but it is hard to be truly objective when the opposition offer so little. You have to really feel for their fans making that journey for that level of resistance.

Being über critical, the only thing to elicit any form of inward groan, short corners aside, was some of David Button’s distribution. Whilst we used to think even Natalie Sawyer’s feet would be better suited to clearing the ball, that part of his game has still improved so much that a rogue effort does really stand out now. There’s good reason the fans chant “England’s number one”.

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Better than Button? Natalie Sawyer feet pictures feat Mark Burridge, too.

Warbs’ stock continues to rise as the post match discussion in the pub was very much one of “What next”? Matthew Benham has made his intentions clear and so certainly seems to have gone too far down this track for a reversal of opinion. The popular Mark Warburton, meanwhile, has said he won’t be able to work within such a structure.

However, there is an alternative which could keep both parties happy. If Matthew wants a mathematical model then I have two words which, I am sure, would prove a popular decision – Rachel Riley.

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First look at the artist’s impression of a mathematical model etc etc etc

And, as ever, if you would like to read more about that incredible period then you can do so here…….

Nick Bruzon

I smell a giant rat. If it’s good enough for Lineker….

24 May

Don’t click. Don’t click. Don’t click.” . Not a 21st Century equivalent of the mantra from ‘Candyman’ (kids, don’t even waste your time asking your dads) but a self-administered warning as the mouse hovered over one of the numerous : QPR moving for Brentford captain Jake Bidwell ‘stories’ doing the rounds yesterday. It was ignored.

I did it to myself, I did. And that’s what really hurt. As Radiohead almost sang way back.

This was always going to be flimsy but even by the desperate standards of ‘close season’ (where, as were’ve said before, news is so thin that a transfer in a cereal packet would get reported) it was bad. Yet another example of ‘journalism’ eating itself in an ongoing search for online hits.

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Transfer news has always been popular

And despite normally avoiding such things – as much because of the ‘short survey’ required to access the rest of the article – this was too intriguing a lure. The captain of Brentford going to rivals QPR. Surely not?

Not, being the key word.

Our esteemed West London sources have been quoting a ‘report’ in the Mirror – a source whose usual line of stories seem to be about the ongoing invasion of the UK by giant rats .

And that ‘report’ was one buried amongst a whole host of other unsupported rumours,  claiming that the Loftus Road mob have apparently ‘made an enquiry’ . That was it.

Seriously, this won’t happen. I just can’t see any element of truth or any plausible way it would go through. Instead, it’s just 30 seconds I’ll never get back.

So confident am I that this is bull then if it does play out I’ll attend the first home game of next season in my pants. Hey, if its good enough for Gary Lineker.

If you really want to read some nonsense then, instead, could I suggest,  The Last Word’ review of the year which recently been released for download. Entitled “Ready.Steady. Go Again” it features the least bad of these columns from the appointment of Marinus in June 2015 up until 9th place in the Championship was confirmed earlier in the month.

‘And if you’d like to read more’….. there is also an anthology of the last three seasons  : “Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up“. This runs from ‘that penalty’ and the subsequent fall out all the way through to the 5-1 humping of Huddersfield Town on Saturday. This, via all sorts of other Bees related trivia  including the answer to the oft asked question: Does Cameron Diaz support Brentford?

That said, there was genuine news from none other than Alan Judge yesterday. Twitter once again showing how much it has become legitimate font of up to the minute stories with the announcement: No Crutches

Accompanied by a self shot video that shows our player of the season walking, unaided, this is only a fantastic update.

The Brentford family were heartbroken when he suffered that season ending injury at Ipswich Town. With his chance of featuring in Euro 2016 also gone, The Judge has done nothing but keep the proverbial chin up in public.

As such, to see him at this level of recovery already is genuinely exciting. Here’s hoping Alan can push on from here and we see him in the red and white stripes come August.

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The Judge has spoken

Nick Bruzon

They think it’s all over…thankfully, it is now

11 May

The Championship season isn’t even cold and already the rumours are circulating about Brentford. Is the academy set to go? Is Dean Smith casting his eyes towards Walsall? Just for starters. Meanwhile over in East London, I’m pretty sure something happened last night – beyond West Ham beating Manchester United.

But first, it’s that time of the year where I’d ask if you can indulge me for a couple of paragraphs.

Namely, because ‘The Last Word’ review of the year has just been released for download. Entitled “Ready.Steady. Go Again” it features the least bad of these columns from the appointment of Marinus in June 2015 up until 9th place in the Championship was confirmed at the weekend.

‘And if you’d like to read more’….. there is also an anthology of the last three seasons  : “Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up“. This runs from ‘that penalty’ and the subsequent fall out all the way through to the 5-1 humping of Huddersfield Town on Saturday. This, via all sorts of other nonsense – including the answer to the oft asked question: Does Cameron Diaz support Brentford?

So if you are looking for a way to kill a few hours on the beach this summer or ease the pain of the daily commute whilst reflecting on three season’s worth of Bees based (mostly) good times , then you can do it for less than the cost of a match day programme from the kindle store. Thank you.

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Its all about the kit, man. And the Bees.

Next up rumours. I don’t talk about them as a rule but they’ve started. Dean Smith was only ever going to be associated with Walsall and so the stories already linking him to Romaine Sawyers aren’t a surprise. Gillingham centre back John Egan moreso.

Tim street in Get West London has the story – if you’d like to read more.

Personally, I wait for Besotted to start talking until I get really interested. However, if the rumour mill is already running then we could have a very long summer.

As for the Academy story, this is a marked change of direction IF it transpires to be true. We’ll reserve comment on this until the club make any form of formal announcement but given how hard they fought to have it graded as ‘Category 2’ would be a huge surprise. Especially given we’ve had a very recent demonstration of it’s results – Tom Field making a wonderful debut when the Bees put Fulham to the sword less than two weeks ago.

Tom Field

Academy graduate Tom Field featured in the first team against Fulham

Ok – West Ham . You may not be aware but apparently they played their last game at Upton Park last night. I know, If only it had been mentioned at some point in the intervening weeks prior to kick off. In a hype circus that would make the release of the recent Star Wars film seem like an understated affair, the media have decided anybody outside of East London is sporting a ‘half and half scarf’ to embrace all things Hammers.

Good luck to West Ham. Seriously. Farewell to their Boleyn Ground. Understandably an emotional time for home supporters. I’m sure we’ll feel the same when our time comes. That’s it. After this though, I don’t get it.

Look, I know that West Ham single handledly won the World Cup back in 1966 whilst Trevor Brooking once scored a goal with his head, but clubs move home all the time. It is part and parcel of modern football life yet never before have we been force fed so much rose tinted nonsense about a ground which, if we’re being quite honest, was never a particularly pleasant place to visit. Certainly for the opposition fans. Just ask the Manchester United coach driver.

I’m just glad it’s all over now. We can move on. On the plus side, perhaps lessons learned for when the Bees eventually leave Griffin Park for Lionel Road. Whilst I have no doubt the occasion will be commemorated, and rightly so, sometimes perhaps less is more.

James Swift on Twitter nailed it yesterday. He gets the Last Word…

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It’s a fact (Wimbledon aside….)

Nick Bruzon

Can Brentford keep the Wolves from the door?

23 Feb

Another day, another game. With Brentford’s form going downhill faster than Eddie the Eagle, we face a Wolves team who find themselves in a similar position to the Bees. Both locked on 40 points in the middle of the Championship table, current performances are a mile away from what supporters of both clubs have been used to in recent seasons. Can The Bees turn it around tonight? Or will Kenny Jackett inspire his team to inflict more pain on the Griffin Park faithful?

The current stats don’t make great reading for Brentford. Whilst I did something similar in the build up to the Derby game, looking at the BBC match preview (who give us the first detail below) it highlighted a huge part of the current challenge we are facing.

No Championship side has faced more shots on target this season than Brentford (168).

The Bees have conceded 10 goals in their last 3 league games.

Only Fulham and the three teams in the dropzone have conceded more goals than us.

2016 has seen us lose 7(seven) out of our 9 games.

Only David Button, Harlee Dean, Jake Bidwell and Alan Judge remain from those who featured in the 4-0 thrashing of Wolves at Griffn Park last season. Moses Odubajo, Tony Craig, Jonathan Douglas, Jon Toral, Toumani Diagouraga, Alex Pritchard, Andre Gray, Stuart Dallas and Jota are no longer with the club for a variety of well documented reasons.

This was only last season

That makes the afternoon complete, revenge for last year” opined Mark Burridge when Andre Gray’s wonderful strike made it 3-0. Yet still, there was more. Who else but Jota , doing what only he could do late on. It was a wonderful performance against a Wolves team who, the season previous, had run out 3-0 winners at Griffin Park en-route to deservedly steamrollering all comers for the League One title

Watching the highlights, the difference in confidence and playing style from then to now is just world’s apart. Yes, we’ve had to change the make-up of our team but seeing the class of 2014-15 in action just emphasises what a tough job their replacements have faced . 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.

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View from the terrace – Dallas does Wolves for 4-0 last season

Yet if we are currently struggling to recover from a dip in form, then the same could be said of Wolves. Talking to supporter Steve Darby (whose help in tonight’s ‘kit obsessive’ programme article is much appreciated ), he tells me : “This has been a frustrating season for us too. Injuries haven’t helped, neither has the owner putting the club up for sale. We are in limbo with no real investment”.

Morale seems low whilst formwise they haven’t won in 6 (3L 3D). Indeed, it all sounds a bit like the build up to the Derby County game where the visitors were on an equally poor run. There, David Button kept us in it before Alan Judge gave Bees fans hope. Sadly, it wasn’t to be as the Bees turned 1-0 on 80minutes into a 1-3 defeat.

I can’t call it this evening. A clean sheet would be a start. But for David Button, Saturday could well have seen a 7(seven) goal bracketing. He was just that good.

Genuinely, I expected a reaction against Derby. It just wasn’t to be. I’m not sure how Dean Smith can pick the lads up from here but I hope he does . I hate to sound negative about our performances and I’ll be giving it as loud as anybody in support when I’m out there tonight. But, also, I’m realistic.

Quite simply, we haven’t matched the standards from last year or earlier in the season when Lee Carsley had the Bees’ engines purring like a contented kitten .

We have to get out of first gear soon. Let’s hope it begins tonight !

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Bees fans make their feelings known on Twitter

Nick Bruzon

Sam reveals all (some) amidst marketing blitz

4 Feb

With the game against Brighton just over 24 hours away, the Brentford marketing team got ready by going on a high-profile publicity drive of our own. With mixed results.

But before we get there just a quick word of praise for our own supporters . With tickets for the Brighton game now confirmed as available on the gate, at no extra cost, chief executive Mark Devlin has already taken to Twitter to announce:

Looks likely we will have approx 1200-1300 travelling fans at Brighton. Not bad for a Friday night, live on TV, match

Many people’s plans, my own included, were thrown into chaos when the game was moved forward from a Saturday afternoon to a Friday night to accommodate the Sky cameras. It is frustrating but just part and parcel of being in the Championship.

But to be taking this many, when the option to watch from the comfort of our armchairs on a wet Friday evening presents itself, is truly admirable and shows just what a loyal fanbase this club has. There are others who will have practical reasons for being unable to attend : prior arrangements made to facilitate a trip to Brighton on a Saturday afternoon that have now backfired, childcare, work etc. Yet to still have this healthy a crowd deserves a lot of kudos be shown to those making the journey.

Here’s hoping we can reward them by replicating last season’s win at the Amex. Although perhaps without putting us through the torture of missing an unmissable open goal. Jon Toral, I’ll never forget that one….

Jon Toral v Brighton

The Bees beat Brighton 1-0 last time at the Amex – it could have been 2

 

Ok – so I mentioned at the top of the article that we’d been on a marketing drive. My email in-box was hit with both issue 1 of ‘The Buzz’ newsletter and a rather odd note about tickets for forthcoming games.

The Buzz newsletter had a mix of brief articles, video footage and social media highlights. All round a nice touch. If nothing else, I’ve learned that when Sam Saunders isn’t showing his romantic side, he is ..”An absolute animal on the dance floor. The Rondejon is my best move, as pro like myself I have it on lockdown” .

I am to dancefloors what Nick Proschwitz was to penalty boxes and really not best placed to comment on what a Rondejon even is. Whilst I’d imagine it’s something being practiced in discotheques and dancehalls up and down the land, could Sam also have a penchant for ballet?

The Rond de jambe, of course, being an exercise from that discipline at the bar or in the centre in which one leg is made to describe a series of circular movements on the ground (thanks, google) . Given the fleet footed skills of the popular wing wizard, nothing would surprise me.

Next up, the ticket email. I’ve often been accused of being ‘puerile’ but was there really any need to send me this?

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It’s ‘dear’, not ‘hi’

Was somebody showing some solidarity after the recent twitter spat about my own, perceived, support ? No. Infact, the answer transpired to be a typo on the mail shot as, it turned out, I wasn’t alone in having an email sent to my ‘carer’.

These things happen. And I’m certainly not going to pay out our ticket office. If, indeed, it was them rather than the marketing team that sent this. We all know what a great job Rosina, Vicky, Mads and the rest of the team do (under some very testing circumstances).

However, in a year when fan interaction / comms has been high on the agenda in this blog, let’s hope this was a one off. People can take offence – albeit it most of those I spoke with saw the funny side when we thought we’d been ‘singled out’.

The reason I even mention this was because, it seems, we had several new recruits in the office.

If ever there was a caption competition waiting to happen then here it is as, along with Josh, supporters might have received a call from Lasse Vibe, Jack Bonham or David Button. Another positive from the Bees to have a chat out of the blue with one of your heroes, even if the photo did make it look as though the call centre was based in a storeroom.

Was Josh to blame for the rogue email to our parents and carers? Did Jack drop the handset on the keyboard and accidentally hit ‘send’ ? Honestly, I don’t know what my reaction would have been had somebody called me out of the blue saying: “Hello. It’s David Button here”.

At the end of the day (Clive) you can’t knock the club for trying to reach out to supporters more. Whilst those first few calls must have taken a few people by surprise, this could be a great new initiative for future weeks.

I’m just waiting for my call from Sam. If he isn’t busy dancing.

Nick Bruzon

From Street football to Soccer Sounds – rounding up the weekend

4 Jan

With the Birmingham City result now consigned to history, for the majority of us Brentford fans it’s time to look forward to the FA Cup against Walsall whilst, also, gritting our teeth for the inevitable flurry of transfer rumours (in and out) that we are sure to be inundated with.

But before we look at that, and the rest of the League games heading our way faster than a Ryan Woods piledriver, the Last word ‘inbox’ has been hit with both a response to yesterday’s article about punditry along with an update from former Bee, Allan Cockram.

Starting with Bees Player, Trinity Mirror Sports Editor Tim Street has been in touch to clarify the comment I called into question regarding the yellow for Jon Toral being acceptable because Jake Bidwell hadn’t been hurt. Well, fair play to Tim who has taken the time to qualify that and, equally, talk through the pressures of matchday punditry from his side.

You can read the full exchange in the ‘comments’ section on yesterday’s article but the main jist of this is contained within the statement :

The irony is, it was because I knew I was doing a half-time summary with Mark that I was doing some of things I save for half time, like processing pictures (each one we use has to be cropped nine different ways!) during the first half and thus missed the worst of Toral’s foul. When pressed on it at half-time, I admit I kind of blurted out something which, in hindsight, was nonsensical (Mark’s expression told me that straight away) to avoid sounding hesitant. Perhaps just admitting I missed it would have been better, but I’m sure I’m not the first, and won’t be the last, to be caught out by the ‘immediacy’ of broadcast media – as I’m sure most football managers would testify!

I still stand by my punditry opinions in general. That said, they are less to do with half time guests such as Tim (where I’d agree its always good to mix things up) and more with the long haul performance over the build up and game.

For sure it’s a big ask and I wouldn’t fancy it. Perhaps, also, we’ve been spoiled in recent years with access to injured squad members who are able to add that unique perspective that only a player can. Richard Lee, in particular, always came across as a very eloquent and considered individual when in the hotseat.

Enough on that, though. As ever I’ve digressed and this was really just meant to say “Thanks” to Tim for taking the time to give his perspective on how things work.

Next up, Allan Cockram .

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Allan at Griffin Park

Whilst the hair may be a bit shorter than it was in the 80s, he still retains all the enthusiasm for football that he had in his days at Griffin Park. Very much the Sam Saunders of his day, Cockers is back in Brentford and about to launch his Soccer Sounds Technical programme.

The regular reader may recall we spoke to Gary Blissett about this a year or so back, as he and Allan were working out in the U.S. on this project .

Now Allan is back home and looking to launch Soccer Sounds in West London,

Starting on Friday 22nd January in West Acton/Ealing . The poster below explains more whilst he can be contacted via registration@soccersounds.com if anyone is interested.

Likewise, the Soccer Sounds website is up and running if you’d like to take a look.

Enjoy.

Soccer Sounds

Cockers is back

Nick Bruzon

 

Bees stung at the death but is this a transfer clue from Mr Benham?

3 Jan

Oh, the irony. For the second time in three away games, Brentford have been ‘Jota’d’ . Following Kenwyne Jones’ 90th minute strike to give Cardiff City a 3-2 win, Maikel Kieftenbeld repeated the act a minute earlier as Birmingham City consigned The Bees to a 2-1 defeat at St. Andrews yesterday. With £3.7m winger Demarai Gray left out, seemingly on his way to Leicester City, the stage was set for the Bees to take advantage but, instead, Birmingham took the honours.

What can you say? In a game between two identically placed teams pushing for the play-offs, a win was vital. And, indeed, it was the Bees pushing for this that ultimately resulted in our downfall as a stray ball from Harlee, well inside the opposition half, allowed the Blues to catch us on the break.

That’s not to blame it all on one man, far from it. This is a team game and we win or lose together. Likewise, given the scenario should there have been a case for taking the point and keeping pace? Moreso given Ipswich Town and Burnley drawing 0-0.

Well, for me I like that Dean Smith had his troops ‘go for it’ until the very end. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t have taken our chances earlier in the game.

But even given our domination (63% possession), as we’ve said many times the only stat that actually counts is balls in the back of the net. The false position in the table in which Birmingham found themselves (really? after 24 games?) that the Bees Player analysts referred to early on proved to be anything but. Then again, despite the ongoing excellence of Mark Burridge (right down to his ‘old school’ use of “denouement”, Billy Reeves style) I did wonder if his co-commentators had been on the last of the Christmas sherry.

The observation that it’s definitely more than a yellow. Is it a red? (following the Jon Toral ‘challenge’ on Jake Bidwell) led to a peculiar discussion about orange cards whilst Birmingham’s winning goal involved Bidwell or someone at the back post. As for half-time guest Tim Street’s novel suggestion that a yellow card was correct because Jake hadn’t been seriously hurt, words fail me… I hadn’t realised that a compound fracture was a pre-requisite for the ref to show red.

I could go on but that’s not the point. It’s old ground and, despite the obvious passion, being able to produce an award winning programme or manufacture website content does not, by default, make you a pundit. As a paying subscriber, that’s my opinion and I’m sorry if it offends anybody. Although by that logic, given the amount of gumph churned out here, perhaps it might be time to start posting the CV to Channel 5.

So Birmingham City leapfrog the Bees who slip to 10th but still remain right amongst it. And, more importantly, we have control very much in our own hands with two home  league games to follow. First up, leaders Middlesbrough and then the televised clash with Andre Gray’s high flying Burnley. Before all that is an FA Cup game which, no doubt, will be used to give some of the squad players and subs a start. 3 matches in 6 days is a huge ask at the best of times, let alone when you are still in the play-off mix

Other points of note for the day are, in no particular order:

Our kit. The regular reader (should such an individual exist) will know my feelings around the new black ‘third’ shirt – truly a thing of beauty. However, the colour clash produced against a team playing in dark blue could surely have been avoided had we been allowed to use our red and white stripes (as we did in the home game at Griffin Park).

Birmingham shirts

The black wasn’t popular amongst those watching

Jota. Supposedly injured in the warm up/training(depending where you read), let’s hope there’s nothing more to it than that. One point the Bees Player team made that I did agree with will be the impact that a fully fit Jota will bring. The attacking potential, and battle for places, in a midfield that already includes the likes of Alan Judge and Sergi Canos is an intriguing one.

Matthew Benham. Our owner has started to follow Pedro Chirivella Burgos on Twitter. Is there anything more to this than his signing for Liverpool alongside Sergi Canos from the Valencia academy? Or can we read it as the first sign of a ‘cryptic clue’ style revelation about an impending loan?

The festive period is over. But that didn’t stop us attempting an elaborate free kick routine with a Christmas tree style line up. The chorus of boos that accompanied the set up for this was clear for all to hear and whilst, sadly, it came to nothing the logic behind it is sound. Do all possible to obscure the view of the defenders and goalkeeper.

Alan Judge was just off target this time but Sam Saunders must have been licking his lips on the bench. It was a set up I’ve not seen before and Channel 5 have a nice video link of the action on their Twitter feed.

Football on 5 freekick

Channel 5 show us the free kick routine

Stats. We’ve already mentioned these briefly but today’s Last Word goes to the undisputed king of statistics, Luis Melville. Tempting fate or the wrong stat at the wrong time as we approached the end of yesterday’s game?

When even the guru that is Luis calls it like this then, perhaps, you just have to accept it was never going to be our day.

Luis stat twitter

Luis tempts the footballing gods….

Nick Bruzon

Play off challengers go fo it as transfer rumours begin

2 Jan

Brentford travel to Birmingham City today, hoping to end the festive fixture period with 7(seven) points out of 9. The Boxing Day draw at home to Brighton and the follow up win at Reading, which featured those goals from Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos, has left the Bees in eighth place. We’re already six clear of QPR (well played last night against Hull, btw…), Fulham are out of sight – at the wrong end – whilst a win could take us to within two points of fifth place. But with the transfer window creaking open today, what will we get?

First up, a team in the same position and with the same potential as ourselves. Birmingham City, who are likely to include former Bees Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson, sit one place below Brentford on the same amount of points. 36. A win for them does exactly what it would do for us and so this is a real chance for both sides to steal a march on a play-off rival.

Birmingham after 8 Clayton

Clayton eyes the target – outside of the box.

Despite all the potential of recent weeks, nobody has been able to break into that top 6 but the gap is getting tighter. Previously unbeatable Brighton have now had their vulnerability exposed, having lost 3 out of the last 4. Freescoring Burnley are still showing intermittent form. Don’t be fooled by a pair of 4-0 wins in recent games. These sandwich a 3-0 loss to Hull City and a six game winless streak prior to that.

And today they entertain Ipswich Town, who of course, sit directly below them. Something will have to give there as Andre Gray takes on Jonathan Douglas. As such, today’s game presents a tremendous opportunity for the Blues and Brentford to really close in on that pack of promotion wannabes.

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The BBC  show how tight that chasing pack are

Make no mistake. This team ARE in a race for the play-offs now. I find it an incredible statement to make based on the start of the season but you can’t fault the ability or desire of the Brentford squad. Birmingham are going to see a totally different side to the one they beat 2-0 at Griffin Park earlier in the season.

Lee Carsley’s first game in charge as he attempted to salvage something, anything, from the mess that was the Marinus experiment was a woeful performance. I genuinely hate to be negative about our team but even that, a match originally postponed due to the pitch debacle, met with a summary that included:

The longer the game went on the more heads dropped. Sideways pass followed sideways pass followed backwards pass – think Jonathan Douglas at his most negative. There was no penetration or cohesion as optimistic balls forward were easily snaffled up by the Blues defence….. as at the weekend we conceded in the 90th minute – so there is some consistency. “Not quite as sh*t as Saturday” was the view of one New Road wag after the game. I’d disagree – I thought we were dreadful. Even Lee Carsley would later tell Billy Reeves that, “We went passive with our passing which suited them”.

Still, that was then and this is now. It’s the sort of fixture today where I’d be happy with a point prior to kick off but I‘ve got a funny feeling we could go two better. That said, I’m sure Birmingham City fans are thinking exactly the same.

And if you think you know better than me (let’s face it, anybody still reading does) and fancy getting your hands on a pair of shirts – including the stunning black ‘third’ strip – then head over to Twitter where Kitman Bob is running a fantastic competition. He’s well worth a ‘follow’ anyway, but moreso now given what he is offering one fan…

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Move fast – what a prize

Get on it quickly.

And finally, January 2nd see the transfer window open for a month prior to the trademark ‘slam shut’ at 11pm on February 1st. As ever, for us Brentford fans, it will be a case of ‘squeaky bum’ time. Whilst I pay little notice to rumours circulating in the local press, one can’t help but be curious as to the Alan Judge situation – his being the name at the forefront of most stories on the subject.

One of THE top performers in the Championship this season, he is sure to be attracting interest from divisional rivals and those clubs currently locked in the Premier League relegation battle (think Aston Villa, Sunderland, Chelsea , Swansea City) or beyond. Jota’s name is never far from the frame either whilst Sam Saunders is out of contract at season end. David Button is pulling out all the stops in goal whilst the likes of Jake Bidwell and James Tarkowski are showing just how much we rely on them.

I could go on. The reason the Bees are where we are is because the team is playing well. Very well. And, as such, your better players are sure to attract more interest. We saw the squad rocked by a series of summer sales as popular players such as Stuart Dallas, Will Grigg, Andre Gray and Moses Odubajo all left Griffin Park for 7(seven) figure sums. It is only natural supporters will be worried about the same thing happening again.

Will that have been sufficient to balance the books or could more be on the way? Alternatively, will Dean Smith have the green light to look at bolstering the squad to form one more in his own image? I’m sure Walsall fans are probably fearing a raid as much as we are.

I’m not a huge fan of this ‘window’ system but, like it or not, it’s what we have. One just has to hope our top brass hold firm, that the books are in good shape and the squad want to continue this push – together.

I read an article on the Telegraph website this morning regarding the top fifty transfer targets for this window. Only two were from the Championship, both at QPR – Charlie Austin and Matt Phillips. Whilst a somewhat blinkered view of the talent available, if we can stay under the radar as long as possible then I’m all for that.

Besides, we‘ve got more important things to worry about. All the concern in the world about who might go counts for nothing until it happens. Let’s not let it distract us from the trip to St.Andrews.

Here’s hoping  we can start 2016 like we ended 2015.

Nick Bruzon