Tag Archives: Kelly Cates

Sex, pies and audiotape (there’s no sex. or audio)

20 Apr

Like many Brentford fans, I was buzzing when I got home last night. A 2-1 win over Cardiff City had seen Scott Hogan add a further brace to Saturday’s last minute equaliser against Bristol City. The Bees had made it 13 points from 15 and the Last word, high on the delights of victory, had gone up early. Now it’s time to (apologies) go again as we round up the other bits and pieces from Tuesday.

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A fine win but what else happened ?

First up, Broadcast Moose. Anybody who read the post match article would have seen his comments about Russell Slade refusing to talk to him after the game. My gut reaction was that the Cardiff manager was exhibiting yet more of the sour grapes that he seems to have reserved for the Bees.

I’m pretty sure there was something mentioned about an FA Cup once whilst he was hardly full of praise when guesting on the Football League show that season. Mind you, if I’d been the victim of Manish repating the “Slade at Christmas” joke (wonderful once, woeful a second time) then I might feel a tad irritated.

Now, I’m not looking to defend Slade. Like Steve Evans, he cultivates a personality (at least, with fans) that is one of a bullish and outspoken manager. Reap what you sow. Behind closed doors he may be a lovely chap. I just don’t know, sadly. And I say sadly because I have it on good authority that at least one of Beesotted’s wonderful FA Cups made it into his direct ownership last season. Did he laugh, cry, store it up in the back of his mind? Who knows? But I digress.

Having cultivated this personality he’s there to be shot down and last night’s whine from Moose was, on the surface, such an opportunity .

Yet, Yet, Yet. Having slept on it , something doesn’t sit quite right.

I’m not too proud to admit I lay in bed last night, thinking about Russell Slade (and I hope to God my wife isn’t reading today). Or, more specifically, and probably even worse, Broadcast Moose. Hey, at least it wasn’t Jeff Stelling.

I may not know much about football’s inner workings but I do know that managers normally speak to the press and give some form of post-match conference. Sure enough, checking News Now he certainly appears to have spoken to journalists, with various pieces now online that detail his comments. For example, Sky Sports have quoted him as saying, “We lacked that clinical finish in the first half when we had total control. In the second we lost it a bit, they became a threat on the counter and we defended poorly”.

So what’s Moose’s beef? He was, as ever (yawn) banging on about the state of the catering during the game – a routine that is about as endearing as being forced to watch the season’s opener of ‘Football League Tonight on an infinite loop. Whilst Kelly and George have, thankfully, upped their game, Moose hasn’t changed the record.

But putting the pies to one side, what was really bugging me is  – why would Slade treat him like this?

Surely in the press area he’d have no choice but to answer the questions? Surely if one journalist had been singled out for a snubbing then this would have been more widely reported?

I don’t know what happened for sure – or where this contretemps actually took place. That, something Mr. Moose has failed to mention whilst making his quite provocative comments, including: “What a bad loser Russell Slade has become….,tonight point blank refused to do a post match interview….Mr Slade could only grunt no”

It takes a lot for me to think about Russell Slade as having the moral high ground but I’m just putting it out there for the sake of balance. Russell / Ian, if you are reading…..?

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Moose – at least he was happy about the pies

As for the rest of last night. Peter Gilham wins the award (should one exist) for moment of the evening, or at least half time, after exhibiting more of that deadpan brilliance for which he is so loved. Whilst talking about the opportunity for fans to get involved in the club’s social media, he mentions “Snapchat”, paused for a moment and then added, “Whatever that is.

Peter, I’m with you .

Toumani, He’s done it again. Again. After getting his second Leeds United goal at the weekend against Reading, least night he took his total to three, grabbing their second in a 2-1 win over Wolves. Whilst I was desperately sad to see Toumani go, I’m thrilled to bits for him that the floodgates are now opening. That said, I know I’m not alone in taking this ‘personally’ after such a long wait! Leeds fans must have now “been on the pitch” (metaphorically speaking) more times than the average episode of Dragon’s Den.

And finally, I couldn’t end without further mention of Scott Hogan. Or, specifically Matthew Benham and our head of medical, Neil Greig. Without their investment of faith in the player (not to mention financially or in terms of time) there’s no way we’d be celebrating his goal scoring prowess this week.

It would have been so easy to pay up his contract and let him go. Not Brentford. We’ve always treated our injured players well and boy is that being rewarded now.

Congratulations to Scott, of course. But huge thanks to Matthew and Neil.

Nick Bruzon

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ITV on the rise but will Sky scrape the barrel? And what of John Swift?

27 Mar

There was mixed news on the International front last night. Despite many enjoying the 3-2 win for England in Germany, it was the performance of the U-21 team that saw potential bad news for Brentford where Chelsea loanee John Swift limped off less than half an hour into the game with a bloody foot. Elsewhere (and I need to thank the statistical demigod that is Luis Melville for his Twitter tip-off) there was terrifying news from the Daily Mail.

But first, England. What a night – primarily because the alleged  Supporters’ band couldn’t be heard over the TV speakers. Were they even in Berlin? Who cares! The lack of jingoistic parping from their off-key trumpets was music to my ears. If I wanted to hear the theme tune to the Great Escape I’d simply watch TV on any Bank Holiday.

That was my on-field highlight. Yes, of course the goals were wonderfully taken although if you want any form of match report than, as ever, I’d suggest the BBC. The said, the win was hard fought with the ITV commentary team doing their best to jinx it at the death. Eric Dier’s injury time goal was met with declarations of “A winner in Germany” and “a winner on his debut”, despite there still being 90 seconds on the clock.

The other plus point was the performance of Lothar Matthäus  in the punditry position. Channelling the look of Paul Robinson – Neighbours, rather than Birmingham City or Burnley – he was that rare example of an ITV pundit who it was actually a pleasure to listen to. Dead pan humour, common sense and a great reading of the game. Let’s hope they snap him up for the Euros over the summer.

Kit wise, just about everybody has said their piece on this already. England opting for traditional red with burgundy sleeves and blue socks (very much Dagenham & Redbridge 1995, as one Twitter observer noted) whilst Germany elected to wear two tone black/dark green(?) with lighter green sleeves. And don’t forget the white stripes down the side from armpit to hem that looked like a somewhat unsightly deodorant stain.

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As the regular reader will (should one exist still) be aware, I’m all for the unusual and a bit of variety in team kit. These, however, both looked like the product of a “What might go well with jeans?” marketing meeting. And those blue socks should never see the light of day again.

For me Clive, this has surpassed the 1994 effort (oversized flappy collars, all those subliminal badges and a shade heading towards burgundy) as the worst ever England away shirt.

As a final thought on the game, what was with all the adverts for ‘Hooch’ that kept flashing around the pitch? Surely that died out in the 90s with Global Hypercolour t-shirts, VHS cassettes and ‘Eat my shorts’ ? Or are Student Union bars (three of the most terrifying words in the English language, to rank alongside ‘Rail Replacement bus’) about to see a resurgence?

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No longer the worst England away shirt

Next up, John Swift. With Josh McEachran still being reported out injured (and the club saying nothing to deny these stories, unless I’ve missed it) there would have been heart in mouth when he got injured last night. Despite my best searches of the internet – and it is frustrating how often a search for his name is thrown off track by: Taylor Swift, Dear John – the most we know so far is that he has a cut foot judging by the pictures circulating on Twitter.

How bad this is remains to be seen although I am sure we’ll learn more today. Whilst he has, for the most part , divided Brentford supporters during his loan spell from Chelsea, one thing we can all agree on is that another injury is the last thing we need at this pivotal point in the season. We all recall how Chris Long’s nasty gash impacted him at the tail end of the previous campaign and so let’s hope this isn’t a case of déjà vu.

I’m not a hypocrite. I don’t think Swift has had the best start to his career at Griffin Park. An over indulgence on the showboating and tendency to lose the ball has been a frustration yet, at the same time, he clearly has ability as we have seen in patches. The Wolves game in particular highlighted what he can do when we get his ‘A game’. Besides, you don’t get called up for the England U-21’s unless there is something there.

Equally, and as we are reminded time and again, he IS a young player who is still learning his game. These skills and judgement calls will come as his game develops. John has become an easy target in some circles but at a time we need everybody pulling together, let’s hope his substitution was a precautionary one and we have him back, on top form, this Saturday.

Ok. The Daily Mail. Or, rather, Mailsport online have run a disturbing story to suggest Sky will be revamping Friday night football next season to make it, what seems to be, a bit more ‘laddish’. Nuts magazine does football if you will, as guest presenters are suggested to include – brace yourself – the likes of James Corden and Holly Willoughby.

Before anybody mistakes this for any form of misogynistic rant, let’s be 100% clear. I’ve got no issues with women presenting football. Quite the opposite. I think Kelly Cates has been the shining star in the (initially at least) car crash that was Football League Tonight whilst Gabby Logan has been doing her thing, brilliantly, for almost twenty years.

And, of course, who could forget our own Natalie Sawyer who has had her feet under the presenter’s desk for so long that she probably knows more about the beautiful game than most of us put together. (Perhaps Sky should be looking ‘in house’ where, of course, Natalie has also shown her punditry skills on Football League coverage?)

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Natalie at the Sky Sports desk – feet not pictured

My issue is with novelty presenters. Comedians great. Football great. Just please don’t combine the two. Nobody needs another ‘Russell Brand’ guesting on Match of the Day.

Football punditry is three men or women, who know about football, sitting on a sofa and talking about the game. You don’t need to jazz it up anymore. We’ll still watch.

Will anybody, honestly, say: “It’s Chelsea – Leicester City tonight. I was going to give it a miss but Gary Neville is busy with Valencia so Holly Willoughby is presenting. Get the Hooch in and make room on the sofa” ?

Aside from the fact that I’ve got more chance of managing Valencia than Gary Neville next season I can’t believe that situation is going to play out anywhere. Who needs Lothar Matthäus when we could have the host of Surprise Surprise, This Morning and Streetmate (don’t remember that one)? I’ve nothing against Holly per-se but when her sporting pedigree peaks at ‘Celebrity Wrestling’ and ‘Dancing on Ice’, perhaps one to give a miss.

Comedians, alleged or genuine, don’t mix well on football

Nick Bruzon

Lino’s flag saves Fulham from a pointless afternoon

13 Dec

But for a flag. Brentford and Fulham played out a 2-2 Championship draw as the Bees made it 8 goals and 7(seven) points from the last three league games against our West London rivals. But, being quite honest, we’ve left this one feeling somewhat hard done by after a rogue linesman denied Jota a late winner.

In front of almost 20,000 supporters, Brentford took the lead from the penalty spot. Jake Bidwell was tripped just inside the edge of the box, running at the touchline. He didn’t look that much of a threat, if we’re being honest, but…a foul is a foul. And when they happen in the box only one thing can follow.

Up stepped Alan Judge to thump it down the middle and leave a diving Andy Londergan in the Fulham goal with no chance. 1-0 and normal service resumed. Indeed, the pressure built but the Bees couldn’t find a way through and, instead, with half time approaching the home side began to press.

That said, they still needed James Tarkowski to head past David Button to equalise. Hey, it wouldn’t be Brentford without one of our centre-backs scoring an o.g.

The same player was beaten by Dembele as the Cottagers took a second half lead but it would transpire to be a short lived one. The man seemingly at the centre of everything, Tarks, headed Jake Bidwell’s corner goalwards to find Jack O’Connell for the equaliser. The celebrations from the visiting fans at that end were immense, but not as good as they would get….

As with our first goal, it was followed by a period of immense pressure that saw Brentford desperately unlucky not to score again. Lonergan was the difference between one point and three for the Bees. And, of course, we also have the elephant in the room. Or, should that be, on the touchline?

The linesman’s flag denied Jota a winning goal as he was adjudged offside when given the freedom of the penalty box to make it 3-2 to the Bees. That the Spaniard had been granted more space than a professional footballer should have any right t expect his hardly his fault.

That’s the only reason I can think for his being deemed to have encroached. But he looked ‘on’ from where the celebrating Brentford fans were standing and television would subsequently confirm the same.

Football League Tonight was essential viewing (not a phrase I thought I’d have been using back in August) to confirm what we all knew. The goal should have stood. And so, instead of Brentford taking the lead and building, Fulham were allowed back into the game and, in the end, a draw was probably a fair result – based on chances and possession.

Jota onside v Fulham

F. Off…. Channel 5 confirm what we all knew

But as we’ve said so many times – the only stat that counts is ‘balls in the back of the net’. So to have a legitimate strike ruled out and a potential extra two points that would have taken us sixth, denied, rankles somewhat.

On the positive side, that’s five unbeaten for the Bees and, much like Football League Tonight, considering how things looked a few months ago to be talking so positively now is just amazing. It is vindication, again, of the fact that the league is a marathon not sprint. Brentford are certainly a team who are building their momentum and the battle for sixth place, or beyond, could be a very interesting one over the next month.

The Mark Burridge infused highlights package from the club’s official YouTube channel shows what a good game it was.

As for the other stuff from the game, my man of the match was Jake Bidwell although I thought Toumani also had an excellent game. Jack O’Connell continues to impress and this now presents Dean Smith with an interesting selection choice for the trip to Cardiff City on Tuesday night.

Is Harlee Dean an automatic selection, now that the three match suspension for his stupidity against Nottingham Forest has been served? And if he is, who does he replace ? Or will be quite a statement of intent from Dean Smith as to what he does when the next team sheet is handed in

Fairplay to the majority of the Brentford fans. Despite us reading about the threat of some Draconian sounding police and stewarding beforehand, everything was all very good spirited – from supporters, stewards and constabulary.

Indeed, aside from yet another flare wielding numpty (the solitary line of half-arsed Christmas lights decorating the Cottage being about the only thing more embarrassing than our yoof element) the one ejection I saw was for Fulham’s own Beiber-lite in the second half.

Fulham flare

Despite their best efforts, it’s back to ‘sniffer school’

It was a cracking atmosphere (at our end) and The Bees were LOUD. Moreso compared to the wall of silence that came from the rest of the ground. If we thought the Chelsea fans were quiet at Stamford Bridge, this took things to a new level. Mind you, with Bournemouth overtaking Chelsea last night in the Premier League table, Fulham might be getting another West London derby next season.

That said, it certainly seemed that anybody who could travel for this one, did. You know the winter months are upon us when ‘jumper man’ switches from his summer waistcoat to the world’s greatest pullover.

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The world’s greatest jumper. Fact

Likewise, one supporter – who I won’t name but simply refer to as “Project Coordinator for the Brentford Community Stadium project team” – was seen stumbling down the steps on the way to his seat before kick off. A seat which, I am sure, in line with stadium regulations he sat down in for the entire game.

Even the great and the good from the opposition were out and about after the game. Brentford may not have won, but we can still feel very hard done by not to have left the opposition…..pointless.

Nick Bruzon

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one point – for Fulham

Can we just go straight to Plan B?

27 Sep

Mark Warburton may have a Plan B up at Rangers (I don’t know, I don’t follow the Scottish Championship that closely) but he famously didn’t have one at Brentford. Marinus, on the other hand, does but as Sheffield Wednesday left Griffin Park with all three points yesterday, Brentford fans were left wondering why Plan A doesn’t seem to be working.

For the seventh time in eight league games we fell behind before, as we did last Saturday, stepping up our game considerably in the Second half. But unlike the game against Preston, where we stormed back to a 2-1 win, this time it was Sheffield Wednesday who achieved that scoreline – a 90th minute goal on the break from Lucas João being the ultimate difference between the two teams.

View from the terrace - the HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate at that point

View from the terrace. The HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate ….at that point

We can take positives from the way the team played for the majority of the second half, despite being down to ten men. The penalty awarded for James Tarkowski’s foul on Atdhe Nuhiu with less than 40 minutes on the clock saw the giant centre forward stroke it past David Button as well as, eventually, earning a red card for the fit again centre back.

It was a strange decision (the sending off, I mean). Indecisive referee Geoff Eltringham allowing himself to be harangued by Wednesday players before consulting a linesman who, eventually, helped him come to the decision of ‘straight red’. This, despite Jake Bidwell clearly being the last man back between Nuhiu and the goalkeeper.

Nuhiu is the sort of player you’d love in your team. Physical, huge presence and a proper nuisance. And he knew the way to goal – seeing an earlier effort come back off the bar. He went to ground very easily on more than one instance yet Eltringham saw nothing wrong in his game to warrant even a talking to, let alone a yellow, at any point.

Still, if Brentford went in a man and a goal down, they did everything to start fighting their way back into the game. Jack O’Connell had a stunning effort at the back with a number of perfectly timed tackles and challenges. It was a shame he was the unfortunate man in the wrong place at the wrong time for 2-1 as Brentford were exposed, pushing for a late winner.

Likewise, Josh Clarke at right back looked very impressive, especially bringing the ball out of defence. I’d be very interested to see him playing ahead of Alan Mac at some point, with the midfielder returning to that defensive role he’d made his own in the past.

With the Bees pressing, a goal seemed likely and finally it came – from the most unlikely of assists. David Button pushed almost to the half way line to curl a cross-field ball to Alan Judge. It was an exquisite delivery from a ‘keeper whose distribution has been lambasted in the past but the execution from Judge was even better.

A perfect trap and then shot across the goal into the far corner sent the crowd wild. Even the club staff celebrated that one to a fanatical level – a moment captured by the Football League Tonight and Beesplayer cameras.

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

At 1-1 and pushing it looked as though Brentford might snatch a winner that, in the first half, had been the last thing anybody expected. Instead, when the more prudent amongst us might have reverted to Plan A and locked things up to get an unlikely point, we went for it. You can’t knock Marinus’ desire and moreso with Wednesday also down to 10 men at this point.

But with the Bees in the Sheffield box, the ball broke and once Lucas João had picked O’Connell’s pocket, not even the Herculean David Button had sufficient strength to hold back the last minute one-on-one.

It was a bitter blow and moreso, having been given the hope of a route back into a game we had no chance of being anywhere near on the first half showing. Bees stat guru Luis Melville nailed it on twitter late last night with this very telling observation:

Luis's stats remain 'the bomb' (that's a good thing, I believe)

Luis’s stats remain ‘the bomb’ (that’s a good thing, I believe)

The positive is a chance to get straight back into action on Tuesday night against a Birmingham City side that hasn’t won in three (and went down at home to Rotherham United yesterday). The negative is that we haven’t really got a huge element of team choice, given the injury crisis and suspension for Tarks. Will the players have enough in the tank for another 90 minutes – moreso, against a team containing a few familiar faces in Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson?

Away from Griffin Park, the Pele cup took place at the training ground. The great man himself was, indeed, at Jersey Road where Cliff Crown was amongst the fortunate few to meet him. Hopefully they just discussed football, football, football (and, perhaps, Escape To Victory) rather than Pele’s foray into TV advertising. I would.

A moment I never thought I'd see - Pele and the Brentford chairman.

A moment I never thought I’d see – Pele and the Brentford chairman.

And then I did it. Football League Tonight. I sat through the full 90 minutes. Or should that be, stood.

Having previously given the show a good kicking on it’s debut (one which, for the record, I still stand by) it’s been pleasing to see the gimmicks fall away and, over the weeks, Channel 5 giving us a more traditional ‘highlights package’. So when the opportunity came to be an audience member, it seemed churlish to turn it down.

Being honest, I’m impressed. What we tend to take for granted is that this is a live show. Given how soon it is transmitted after the action ends, there’s no real choice but despite the problems they suffered in the opening weeks, fair play for sticking to that element. Moreso, with the ‘random’ element of an audience.

Not as bawdy as Soccer AM but sufficiently different from the Football League Show, they have now fused the better parts of each programme. Kelly Cates is definitely the show’s shining star and the chemistry from George Riley is growing.

The audience interview still seemed a bit stilted (then again, that could just be the price you pay for talking to MK Dons fans) although I do like the idea of this quick snapshot from the ‘regular fan’ aswell as the players – Barry Bannan of Sheffield Wednesday being the man brought in to admit, small consolation, that his team and been lucky to get the win.

As for Adam Virgo – I’m still not sure what to make of him. Part footballer, part Clem, part geography teacher. He’s no Leroy (still my favourite pundit from Manish’s Football League Show) but then again, he’s no Steve Claridge and is looking a lot more confortable in the role

Does it beat the Football League Show? No, not yet. Then again, football highlights shows have been in such a set style for so long that it is a format we’ve had drilled into us. You can’t knock Channel 5 for attempting to break from the norm and, moreso, acknowledge that their initial attempts to do so were somewhat OTT.

Will I watch again? Absolutely. Many of the previous gripes have been ironed out and Kelly, especially, did a great job (catching George with one particular zinger about his age and Top of the Pops). Ultimately, the show gives us what we need – the highlights, in order, with a number of extended games.

It’s just a shame that, with more focus on Brentford, we didn’t see the Bees pick up any points. Still, there’s always Tuesday. It won’t be easy and, being honest, I’m anxious.

Then again, Griffin Park under floodlights is a magical place and, IF we can start that one like we ended this one (the goal aside!) then who knows what could happen….

Mark Burridge certainly enjoys the Judge strike (along with the rest of the video highlights)

Nick Bruzon

From Brentford and brackets to Gibraltar and San Marino.

6 Sep

Brentford fans were left scratching around for interest this weekend, with minimal satisfaction coming from the Euro qualifiers. As expected, England successfully navigated their qualifying group (the easiest since records began) whilst for Gibraltar, although they are starting to find their feet after an international baptism of fire, the Republic of Ireland still presented a tough test as they ran out 4-0 winners on Friday night. There was no Brentford involvement, beyond a brief reminiscence about Stuart Dallas for Northern Ireland although, of course, Lasse Vibe was on the bench for Denmark in a 0-0 at home to Albania.

Instead, the weekend has left more questions about those two perennial debates – ‘minnows’ and brackets. Specifically, should the ‘smaller’ teams be allowed to play with the big boys and, when conceding more than six goals just how should we signify this 7, 7 (seven), 7 (SEVEN), seven or SEVEN?

As a footballing romantic and nostalgic, I’m all for a spot of small team involvement. Equally, I won’t deny a large element of emotional involvement as, having waited years for Gibraltar to finally be given full UEFA membership, the chance to see them test themselves against the great and the good is one I’m loving.

Are they whipping boys at the moment? Unfortunately, the stats would certainly suggest that to be the case although anybody who has seen their games against the likes of Germany, Poland and the Republic will see what strides they have already made. Tougher to break down and a lot less naïve, the boys from the Rock are finding their feet, fast.

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start international life.

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start international life.

The Faroe Islands already have six points from a group in which they have overtaken former Euro Champions Greece whilst Albania have beaten Portugal in their qualifying group. This is the same Portugal who recently lost a home friendly with Cape Verde Islands.

Minnows do get stronger and regular games against a mix of opposition are the way to do it. Not shunting them aside to pre-qualifying where they can only play each other, as seems to be the common suggestion. If this is your logic then just disband qualifying all together and draw the teams for the tournament finals based on seeding.

It only seems like yesterday that England were spannering their own qualification for the World Cup as Davide Gualtieri took less than nine seconds to open the scoring for San Marino with a goal that shook the world. Both teams have grown massively since then, even if England have remained as consistently sub-par when it gets to the tournament itself (Euro 96 aside, and that one they qualified for by default).

Davide Gualtieri opened the scoring against England back in 1994

Davide Gualtieri opened the scoring against England back in 1994

Wales have stepped up the blindside in recent seasons and have moved from 117th ranked team in the world four years ago to the point where a victory against Israel on Sunday could see them deemed the second best team on the planet. Indeed, they are, surely, going to qualify for a first major finals since 1958.

Just to put that into perspective, the teams currently occupying the 117th slot are hardy those we would consider to be traditional powerhouses of international football.

The teams currently in the same spot as Wales, four years ago

The teams currently in the same spot as Wales, four years ago

I could go on. People have very short-term memories and attention spans. I hope UEFA don’t give in to the current clamour emanating from certain circles and give all their members a chance to compete on a level playing field.

That said, games such as yesterday’s 6-0 won’t help the likes of San Marino as they came awfully close to a 7(seven) -0 bracketing. That’s a result that Gibraltar have experienced a couple of times in early qualifying whilst, domestically, former Brentford player/manager Nicky Forster was the unlucky recipient as his Staines Town side went down by that infamous scoreline to Brentwood Town in the Ryman Premier on Saturday.

Nicky Forster (left) formally the deliverer rather than recipient of 7(seven)

Nicky Forster (left) formally the deliverer rather than recipient of 7(seven)

And, as ever in these circles, it prompted the usual questions as to how this should be recorded. One local journalist ended up very much insistent about it being an unbracketed, headline grabbing, SEVEN. For somebody who then used twitter to rally against the vide printer favourite, saying: “Will live in the here and now”, the irony of his bio describing himself as “Ex Woking FC striker” was not lost.

There are others that love the bracket but insist it should be 7 (SEVEN). I’ll spare the regular reader another lecture on the unsubtly and bad sportsmanship of this. A brash, block-capitalled effect to really push home the point that someone has been on the wrong end of a thrashing. It’s gloating for the sake of it.

Clearly, an emotional subject and I don’t think we’ll ever, all, agree. Football is a modern game and one that continues to grow. That said, what’s the harm in a little bit of nostalgia along the way?

And finally, Channel 5 and Football League Tonight. Much as the minnows have been going from strength to strength on the pitch, the same can be said about the latest newcomers off it.

Saturday night was the latest point in case as, despite it being International weekend we actually had a show. In days gone by, Manish and team were shunted to one side when the Championship teams had a break, despite full fixture list in both Leagues One and Two.

So fairplay to Kelly, George and the rest of the production team for still bringing us a show. The disasters that plagued the series openers are a distant memory already and, last night, the biggest problem seemed to be Adam Virgo. More to the point, his sporting of a collared shirt with the top button done up but no tie.

Yet if a pundit’s dress sense (something all channels have suffered from over the years) is the worst we’ve got to worry about then things must definitely be moving in the right direction.

Rio Ferdinand and the BBC panel have had their own fashion problems

Rio Ferdinand and the BBC panel have had their own fashion problems

Nick Bruzon

Is there any Bank holiday fallout or just some perspective?

31 Aug

Calmed down yet after the Reading result? Some Brentford fans were sending Twitter into a GPG level of meltdown last night with a series of rants that were as tragic as they were hilarious. I love this club as much as anybody but we’re only played four league games this season. Brentford have an identical record to Chelsea (P4 W1 D1 L2) and victory in the ‘games in hand’ will take us to within a point of the play offs.

Absolutely, some of the ‘sideways’ football being played has been at odds with what we have been used to recently but as has been said before, we do have a new team. Likewise, the sale and replacement of club favourites has been frustrating for many and I can well sympathise with that, too.

If anything, we’ve been spoiled rotten by success over the previous four or five seasons. I’ve seem some real dross at Griffin Park in the 35+ years I’ve been a supporter yet the last few campaigns have been nothing brilliant. We don’t have a divine right to win anything or buy our way to the top like Chelsea or Manchester City (who found another £55 million just yesterday for Kevin de Bruyne).

Instead, I’d love to see some positivity and get some perspective. And let’s start with the head coach. It would be wonderful if Marinus could get involved a bit with the players or with the fans. This may not be his style and he may not feel he needs to but, come on man, go through the motions at the very least.

Clearly he has passion and cares – look at the tongue-lashings administered to the fourth officials. So why does this not carry over to the crowd or the players – at least in the public eye?

Marinus can cut a lone figure as he observes the 'action'

Marinus can cut a lone figure as he observes the ‘action’

It’s amazing the psychological impact that having a manager (whatever) who seems to give a damn can have on the supporters. I wrote yesterday that this lack of interaction, “still sits uncomfortably with me. It really will be something we all have to adjust to over the coming months.” And adjust we will, but it would be nice if Marinus could make some attempt to meet us half way.

Then there are the fans at Griffin Park. Supporter James Norwood contacted me yesterday with his own thoughts on the atmosphere, or lack of, saying:

“I have never, ever seen Griffin Park so silent. Seen, as I couldn’t hear anything, except the Reading fans who cheered on their team throughout. The score line and the teams’ on field efforts reflected the silence. I tweeted as such and many Reading fans (unfortunately) retweeted it. These are young men and they got minimal support from the stands.

The entire first half, we applauded but we never sang a note. The vocal fans from Berkshire helped out with choruses of “Your support is f*****g s**t,” and “shall we sing a song for you.” No wonder we were 2 nil down by the break and lucky not to be 5 nil down.”

He goes on with his analysis, noting: “How different from the atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium and the free flowing football thanks to the referee Martin Atkinson, who offered a refreshing approach after the disaster of the referee who officiated our match with Reading and in the words of Belle and Sebastian “gave us f**k all.”

I am a Brentford fan and I have been so since 1992 and will be until the day I die, but I have never known any other club to give so little in terms of vocal support. Yes, we pay, yes we show up, and yes we are great critics, but we’re not great supporters and that translates into the players confidence on the field.

Maxime Colin, in his Brentford website interview ahead of his first game said “I hope that I will play my first home game on Saturday. My friends tell me that the fans are very loud and strongly behind the team.” I think he was thinking about another team.“

Ok. Time for a bit of positivity with the ‘other stuff’ from the weekend. Amidst all the noise I’ve not seen much mention of how well the pitch took following the previously documented debacle. As one observer on the New Road noted: ‘No holes or sand, took the water well and played nicely when we bothered

At least that is one area we should, all being well, not need to worry about ongoing.

The pitch (c/o James Norwood) looked lot better than Reading's kit

The pitch (c/o James Norwood) looked lot better than Reading’s kit

And then there was Channel 5 and their latest episode of Football League Tonight. It seems they have taken further feedback on board with another attempt to remove the gormless planks standing behind Kelly and George from our eyeline.

I don’t mean Adam Virgo but, rather, the additional supporters loitering near the ‘big screens’ and studio walls, cluttering up every interview shot.

Whilst a few still remained visible, the vast majority are now ‘off camera’, meaning we could focus on the (still somewhat awkward) interviews.

These loitering numpties are a thing of the past . Virgo remains

These loitering numpties are a thing of the past . Virgo remains

This show lurched onto our screens as a screaming car crash but the producers have, to be fair, listened to what supporters want and, over the course of the next few weeks, moved to a more traditional model.

There’s a crowbarred analogy I could stick in here but not even I’m that unsubtle. Instead, let’s just all have some faith.

And, finally, Jota has had a haircut. The talismanic midfielder may currently be suffering from an ankle injury but he took to social media at the weekend (Instantgram, I believe) to show off his new look. I’ll leave the sartorial comments to his admirers, of whom there seem to be a few, and instead let’s just hope this throws any would-be suitors off the scent ahead of the transfer window slamming shut on Tuesday.

Same player; new hair. Move along, there's no Jota here

Same player; new hair. Move along, there’s no Jota here

A Long journey South as Bees capitulate at Turf Moor

23 Aug

Whilst Brentford may be anything from £6.5m – to £10m better off (depending on what you read) this weekend, points-wise we were left very much empty handed after going down 1-0 at Burnley. And it was a win, I’m afraid to say, that Burnley very much deserved from where I was sitting (the away stand at Turf Moor).

The action is about to begin at turf Moor - and doesn't more turf look great?

The action is about to begin at Turf Moor – and doesn’t more turf look great?

Being quite honest, one first half chance for Lasse Vibe aside, all the Andre Grays in the world would have made no real difference to Brentford. Don’t put this loss down to his absence. We were so obsessed with passing the ball backwards and sideways between the defence and goalkeeper, it is no wonder the stats showed such high pass completion or 62% possession.

Hanging on to the ball at the back is all well and good, and we did that part very well, but the lack of any imagination, movement, cut and/or thrust when we tried to take it forward was, ultimately, what did for us. At 0-0 away from home this works but having conceded such a simple goal from a set piece, where Philipp Hoffman failed to get his man, something needed to change. And it didn’t.

The introduction of Maxime Colin and switch of Alan McCormack to centre mid was certainly a start. The new right back has already won over plenty of fans based on his display and it was easy to see why. The problem is that it was too little, too late. Equally, Marinus almost had his hands tied given the sudden dearth of midfield options as a result of recent transfer activity and injury.

The style of football we were looking to play was just too static, too slow and bereft of any sense of urgency. Burnley hardly pushed us but then they had no need to. Being fair, up to the point of the Vibe chance, where he made a magnificent run onto a beautiful through ball from Kerschbaumer, we’d probably been the better of two cagey sides.

Certainly Marinus, in his interview with BBC Billy Reeves, deemed it our best passage of play since he has been here. But then Burnley scored from the simplest of set pieces and, with Brentford unable to step it up, the home side looked comfortable.

This was the sort of game crying out for a Sam Sanders, Jota or Moses to pick up the ball and run at this opposition. Our current run of form with injuries certainly hasn’t helped the cause, that’s for sure, but its no excuse. There were still plenty of good enough players out there but our obsession with sideways passing (something I thought had died with the departure of Jonathan Douglas) was what ultimately did for Brentford.

Positives included the debut of Max Colin (somebody whose name constantly puts me in mind of Christopher Walken’s character from Roger Moore’s final Bond effort, ‘A View to a Kill’) at right back and the ability to switch Alan Mac to centre mid. I thought Harlee and Tarks looked very solid at the back whilst the former added additional threat up top when we finally started to ‘go for it’ in the final five minutes. The pitch was immaculate whilst, points wise, we are in the same position after three games as we were last season.

Max Zorin - crowbarred excuse

Max Zorin – better placed at Turf…Moore ??

Those BBC stats also show we had 7(seven) shots, including 4 on target. There was Lasse’s chance, Alan Judge came close with a free kick and a slow-mo effort from The Hoff in the first half that almost fooled everybody except Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal. However, other than that I struggle to recall him being overly stretched.

Look. It wasn’t a great performance and I do have to wonder about the choice of tactics that seemed, for all the world, to be the mark of a side a side playing for a 0-0 or hoping to snatch something on the break. It’s a shame we didn’t have the courage to play more open football as the Kerschbaumer pass to Vibe showed how easily the opposition could be opened up, with the right movement.

Likewise a few more crosses, had Philipp Hoffman got into second gear to try and meet those that were delivered, would always have been welcome.

The flipside is that we are only three games into a new season and have both a new head coach and a new look squad. Our cause hasn’t been helped by horrendous bad luck when it comes to injury whilst, and you have to remember, Brentford don’t have a divine right to win every game.

Perhaps it is more a commentary on how far we have come and how quickly that we can be genuinely disappointed about losing a game in the Championship. To a team that were gracing the Premiership last season. It wasn’t so long ago that a trip up North was to the likes of Tranmere Rovers, who lost 0-2 at home to Boreham Wood in the conference yesterday, so some perspective is definitely needed.

Talking to Burnley fans before and after the game, word on the street is that the Bees were looking at a loan for Chris Long, as part of the deal that took Andre to Burnley. Interestingly, he played no part in proceedings yesterday and so one does have to wonder if there is any truth in that?

Brentford fans know just what he can do when the ball is in that final third of the field and Chris would be a great acquisition if we could get hold of him. But, equally, why would Burnley have bought the player in the first instance only to then immediately ‘get rid’?

Chris Long - could he be back again?

Chris Long – could he be back again?

Marinus, in the aforementioned interview with Billy, denied any definitive attempt so far to make a move on anybody but, equally, acknowledged that it was as position we need to cover. You can catch that in full, here.

Off field, those of us able to get back in time might have caught ‘Football League Tonight’ on Channel 5. With the show now in week three, the car crash that was the season opener seems an eternity ago as further changes were in evidence upon catching up with that today.

Only Adam Virgo and the awkward looking audience remain from those elements so heavily criticised in the season opener. Even the kebab shop poles that housed the 70’s style ‘league ladders’ have now been replaced by a 21st Century computer graphic showing the Championship table.

A compute graphic now replaces a kebab shop skewer

A compute graphic now replaces a kebab shop skewer

I understand that Channel 5 need to try and be different but, equally, they need to give the audience what they want. Well done for changing so much, so quickly.

They’ve made a decision to stick with the audience that hang around like a bunch of spare parts and so I can only imagine that is here to stay. You know what? I kind of like that aspect now. It still isn’t up to the package put together by Sky but for ‘terrestrial’ viewers, Kelly Cates and George Riley are starting to steam up the blind side.

Let’s hope Brentford can do the same thing next time out at home to Reading.

And as a side note, anybody wanting another, very interesting, insight on the Andre Gray transfer and cost would do well to check out Billy The Bee’s latest Beesotted article. It makes for an intriguing read…

Billy The Bee - Mr Grant asking the right questions, as ever

Billy The Bee – Mr Grant has a great take on events

Nick Bruzon

Injury blues, red cards, 3 points and the verdict on Football League Tonight

16 Aug

A Bees win by any scoreline will do me. At the end of a difficult week, it would be a shot in the arm for everyone.” Not my words but those of Brentford CEO Mark Devlin ahead of our trip to Bristol City. However, even he would have been doing well to predict the outcome of this one as the Bees surged to third place in the fledgling table. And after the game there was the latest attempt from Chanel 5 to restore some credibility to the terrestrial highlights with the latest episode of Football League Tonight.

A 4-2 scoreline only tells half the story of a game that saw City end with ten men after Luke Freeman was shown a straight red by referee Keith Stroud (who else??) for a boot to the head of Harlee Dean. Indeed, the hosts were lucky not to end on 9 after James Tarkowski suffered what Marinus described as a ‘badly broken nose’ following an elbow from City captain Aaron Wilbraham.

Tarks posted this post match selfie on Twitter

Tarks posted this post match selfie on Twitter

Goals from Alan Judge and Andre Gray sandwiched an o.g. from Derrick Williams. Philipp Hofmann rounded things off to complete a heavy win for Brentford who made it six goals, and unbeaten, from our opening two league games. As ever, should you want the full match report then I’d suggest the BBC, official site or Beesotted.

Moreso as I had to give this one a wide berth for family reasons, so wasn’t even able to follow on Beesplayer although social media suggest that might not have been such a bad thing in this instance.

Roxeth on Beesplayer

Who provided the summary? And was this tongue in cheek?

Bees fans would have been ecstatic to see Andre starting, despite the constant rumours linking him with a move from Griffin Park. Marinus made it quite clear after the game that we want to keep him although was unclear if that would happen, adding “there is a lot of money in England and sometimes money talks”.

It does now beg the question as to whether Matthew Benham will look to ‘cash in’ or make Andre an offer he can’t refuse (although presumably not Vito Corleone style). Just how much is a player who can find the back of the net so frequently worth?

Besides, would Brentford really want to lose another player after the awful run of form that saw Andreas Bjelland join the long term casualty list in midweek with a cruciate injury that has ruled him out for the season? And to that you can also add Jota who missed the Bristol City game with an ankle problem. It is an injury that Marinus subsequently told Beesplayer would see him “ out for three or four months.

Nobody needs any reminding of the Spanish midfielder’s ability and this may also go some way to explaining the shenanigans at the end of the Ipswich Town game, where he and Jonathan Douglas appeared to have had a falling out. It was one which culminated in the former Bee swinging an arm at Jota as the Bees celebrated our last minute draw.

Eagle eyed Beesplayer viewers saw Dougie's 'girly slap'

Eagle eyed Beesplayer viewers saw Dougie’s ‘girly shove’

Still, if this was more bad news for Marinus after our cup exit, I have to give him huge credit for the team he picked. After criticising our head coach for his post match reaction towards his young players on Tuesday (something I stand by), fair play for naming Jermaine Udumaga, Josh Clarke and Courtney Senior on the bench for a high pressure game.

The other thing to catch the attention yesterday was an uncanny parallel to the last time we played Bristol City, a 3-1 win at Griffin Park back in January 2014.

That was a game which also saw City gift the Bees an own goal, from Aden Flint. Whilst Derrick Williams was the provider this time around, that previous match also saw him struggle with what was described at the time as, “The worst free kick I’ve ever seen…. rather than deliver a killer deadball into the box from 25 yards, (he) simply bobbled the ball directly out of play for a goal kick to Brentford. It went closer to the corner flag than the goal and was an effort that made Miguel Llera seem like Gazza.”

And so to the real elephant in the room – Channel 5. Saturday night saw their latest attempt to replace Manish and crew with ‘Football League Tonight’. Their opening show of the season had, rightly, been met with a barrage of almost universal despair as swiveling league tables, awkward audience members, confused pundits and cringey ‘banter’ all nestled alongside the random sequence of match highlights to make a show that was messier than James Tarkowski’s nose.

Well, let’s give Channel 5 some credit. Whilst not, officially, acknowledging their previous failings, Kelly Cates strode in front of the cameras to announce that, “Over the next ninety minutes we’ll bring you all of the goals and the best of the action – in order.

And that’s what we got. The league ladders that looked as though they have been plonked on kebab shop skewers remained although at least they waited until the end of the Championship highlights to show them. And then, they had already been ‘rotated’.

The awkward looking audience members were another reminder of last week’s season opener – something I understand will be remaining (watch this space…) – whilst Jamie Cureton’s trousers were somewhat disconcerting. Actually, just the presence of Jamie Cureton is somewhat disconcerting although us Brentford fans have personal reasons on that score.

However, overall you have to say that, much like Marinus against Oxford , the team at Channel 5 have learnt from their mistakes.

Some things remained despite 'lessons learned' for Channel 5

Some things remained despite ‘lessons learned’ for Channel 5

Nick Bruzon

Will Brentford be above Bristol City in the football league tonight?

15 Aug

Brentford travel to Bristol City today, with several obvious questions on everybody’s lips. Can we bounce back from the midweek humbling at home to Oxford United in the Capital One Cup? Will Andre Gray be ‘ready’ to start after speculation continued to link him to Hull City and, erm, today’s opponents? Who will be fit for the Bees? And can Channel 5 salvage anything from their ‘Football League Tonight’ show after last week’s car crash of a season opener.

First up, Bristol City. Well the good news is that we can expect 11 changes from the team thrashed by Oxford United. The not so good news is that Andreas Bjelland’s replacement will be an enforced one after the first half injury he suffered turned out to be severe cruciate damage that will keep him out for the entire season.

Andreas Bjelland in pre-season

Andreas Bjelland in pre-season

One can only wish him well after this most awful of starts to his life at Griffin Park. Interestingly, Marinus ruled out our playing surface as being a contributory factor, although it was something he had already acknowledged in his Beesplayer interview as, “more dangerous than a good pitch.”

This is a cruel twist of fate for our record signing and sees him join the ranks of Scott Hogan, Lewis Macleod and Josh McEachran as potentially game changing players who have come to Brentford but then seen injury rob them of the chance, so far, to impress.

On the more positive side, Marinus also confirmed that Alan Judge and Harlee Dean are both fit to return (expect to see the later line up alongside James Tarkowski at centre back) although Jota (ankle) and Nico Yennaris (dead leg) are doubts. As for Andre Gray, the impact he made against Ipswich Town last weekend was clear for all to see and one can only hope he is going to begin the game against Bristol City. Certainly, Marinus remained a lot more upbeat on that front, when pressed on the latest speculation, saying: “No news. I expect he will be playing on Saturday”.

Another player who could feature, although I expect it will be too soon, is new right back Maxime Colin. The former French U-20 signed yesterday from FSC Anderlecht, providing competition in the wake of Moses Odubajo moving to Hull. I’d still expect Alan McCormack to begin today but it will be very interesting to see how this latest new player performs when he pulls on the red and white stripes.

My prediction for today’s starting XI: Button, Bidwell, Dean, Tarkowski, McCormack, Diagouraga, Kerschbaumer, Gogia, Judge, Hofmann, Gray

Max Colin - no truth that the signing shirt has to be replaced as it is full of holes

Max Colin – no truth that the signing shirt has to be replaced as it is full of holes

As for the Oxford United game, it is done. Let’s all put it behind us. Move along, nothing to see here.

Marinus was man enough to admit, ”Maybe I was a little bit naïve about the game” and, no matter how well our opponents played (which was ‘very’) we all know that was nowhere close to the Brentford FC starting XI. It promises to be a tough match today against a Bristol City team making their first Championship appearance in front of their home fans after last season’s promotion and so expect a passionate, full house.

That said, Brentford have come out smiling from tough venues in the past. Last season gave us an excellent grounding for Championship life and so I don’t expect atmosphere to be a factor.

Instead, the challenge will be for the team to carry on where they left off against Ipswich Town and try to find a way past former Bees ‘keeper Ben Hamer in the City goal. Matthew Benham used Twitter last night to acknowledge the role Ben had played for the Bees and few who had seen him in action could disagree.

Well said Matthew

Well said Matthew

Ashton Gate or Beesplayer are the obvious places to see how things do pan out today but, if you are feeling particularly masochistic, how about avoiding the scores until 9pm and then tuning in to Channel 5 and Football League Tonight?

No. Seriously!

Surely, there can be no way this week’s show can be as bad as what was served up last week as the alternative to Manish and team? My own thoughts on their effort have been well documented and mirrored those of supporters up and down the land.

Presumably George, Kelly and the production team have taken some of the criticism about format on board. It IS a tough challenge to try and do something different and the basic elements are in place – decent presenters and League football. It was everything else, from start to finish, that was wrong about a show which is going to have to adapt, fast, to survive.

Can they do it? At 9pm we find out.

Nick Bruzon

Life after Manish – Football League Tonight crashes on Channel 5 launch

9 Aug

Channel 5 launched their brand new Football League highlights show on Saturday night and it’s fair to say that the reaction has been universal. As an act of bringing fans together, they achieved the impossible as supporters of Brentford, Ipswich Town, Wolves, Hull City, Leeds United – infact just about every league club you could mention – took to Twitter to vilify 5’s new ‘Football League Tonight’ Show.

Quite literally, where do you start? When it was announced that Manish, Leroy, Clem and the rest of the BBC team would be losing the highlights package after 6 years nobody could have imagined what we’d be left with. Indeed, the much trumpeted announcement of a 9pm start time had many of us lightweights genuinely pleased. No longer would the League highlights be an afterthought tagged on catch those who had fallen asleep during Match of the Day.

To make this worse, the choice of Saturday night viewing is a normally awful selection. Something involving Ant and Dec; a singing competition; Casualty. BBC2 at 9pm was screaming out for Clem yet we were forced to wait up until gone midnight for the chance to catch our team in action.

Clem  - much missed. Washing his hands of responsibility for what came next?

Clem – much missed. Washing his hands of responsibility for what came next?

But where the BBC lost out in terms of timeslot, they had everything else spot on. A charismatic host; great pundits; genuine humour from Leroy ; a decent amount of match action; Clem doing his thing up and down the country (and the regular reader knows there’s enough material on that topic to fill a book….)

Most importantly though, they had good highlights. In order.

Words cannot describe just how bad Channel 5’s replacement was. It got off to a fantastic start with a 9pm kick off and that’s about the only positive thing you can say about the show. Despite the potentially decent pairing of George Riley and Kelly Cates, the rest of it was a jarring car crash of a show that made me yearn for Clem.

Football highlights aren’t a hard thing to get right. Show the games in some sort of order and give some interesting analysis. Yet 5 threw that concept out of the window and left us with what was, quite possibly, the worst attempt at a football show since Colin Murray was let loose on us.

The show switched back and forth between divisions in a bizarre manner that suggested the running order had been picked out via car keys in a bowl. The studio audience (why? why? why?) stood around looking awkward yet when one was asked a question, they’d forgotten to even have a microphone ready.

Take me out - please

Take me out – please

The garish and cluttered set looked as if it had been designed by a school kid on day 1 of work experience whilst low budget rotating ‘league ladders’ resembled something left over from a 1970s episode of Blue Peter. And then there was Martin Allen…..

Usually good for a quote, the former Brentford and Gillingham boss didn’t even seem sure of what was going on (much like the audience). “We’ve got Millwall. I think they came down from the Championship” he opined at one point although did provide just one of many moments of unintentional comedy when George invited him to give some opinion on a goal his side had conceeded.

Here you go then, talk me through this” was met with some nervous laughter and the eventual reply “What do you want me to say?”

I could go on. We’re stuck with them for three years but the problems aren’t hard to fix. Show the games, in some sort of order. Cut the studio audience; give us some decent analysis. Just cut to the chase and show the bloody action rather than a level of banter that makes Jeremy Kyle look like Panorama.

When the producers saw that the show was trending on Twitter, they must have been ecstatic, until they read some of the comments. And here are just a few….

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Manish FLT

Nick Bruzon