Tag Archives: League cup

When the brackets come second, you know it’s BIG news.

24 Sep

For a day with no game (something in itself that feels quite odd at present) Wednesday still had plenty to deliver. For Brentford, our opponents for the League Cup fourth round tie were confirmed. It’ll be Fulham at Lionel Road next week. Elsewhere, there were brackets for Newcastle United, Chelsea came close to the same magical scoreline and in Wales, Ryan Reynolds is the name being linked with a takeover of Wrexham. Yes. THE Ryan Reynolds. The actor of Deadpool andDetective Pikachu fame. Albeit perhaps best we just gloss over Green Lantern.

The new Wrexham away kit needs a rethink

First up, the League Cup. With Brentford through to the fourth round we’ve been handed the chance to make our furthest ever progression in the tournament with a home tie. Against Fulham. Cripes, if only there was some recent encounter between the two clubs that pundits and commentators could bludgeon to death in the build up to this one. And then through the game itself. Alas, not.

Yet if there is something to mention, let the others be the ones to wallow in the past. Its all about the present. About going forward from where you are. 

For Brentford, that’s unbeaten in three games and two Premier League clubs already despatched this season. The performance against Huddersfield Town on Saturday one which saw the Bees back to their best. That indefatigable, keep going until the end spirit seeing us run out eventual 3-0 winners after dominating the game. 

A great team performance on Saturday

For Fulham, its nil points and 7(seven) goals against from their opening two league fixtures. And that’s with the advantage of playing in an empty stadium. Well done. Well done everyone. 

The sweetest part being that their fansite will be obliged to copy/paste this entire article onto their own page – as they always do for anything published on the internet that concerns Cottaging – and thus be reminded further of their woeful start to life this time around. After all the smugness over the summer, it’s great to see them being on the wrong end of a kicking week in, week out.

The Fulham defensive wall needs some work

Anyway, whatever. For me its about Brentford. For going as far and high as we can. Let anyone else worry about themselves. It’s an amusing side story to laugh at but doesn’t detract from the desire to keep on doing our bit. Which we are. Let’s concentrate on Fulham next week when they come to visit. The details for that one are yet to be confirmed although given the proximity of the game, it can only be imminent. Instead, we’ve a trip to Millwall to focus on this Saturday.

However, the big story yesterday was one which came out of Wales where National League Wrexham have the most unexpected of potential new investors lined up – actors Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool etc) and Rob McElhenney (no idea). The club, currently under fan ownership (sound familiar?) has seen 1,223 Supporters Trust members opt in favour of the proposal which would see control handed over (sound familiar ?)  for an investment thought to be worth £2m . To put that in numbers, only 31 voted against  – less than 5% of those polled.

The stage seems set for them to enter, should they follow through of course. For Brentford, the move from fan owners surrendering their shares in return for new investment has been the best deciosn ever made. Matthew Benham has transformed the club through shrewd management and innovative techniques. Whether Ryan and Rob could bring the same tactical nous to North Wales remains to be seen. Smart one-liners and katana blades can only take you so far compared to an advanced computer modelling system – at least on the football pitch. Certainly I wouldn’t fancy Matthew in a fight although he’d win at recruitment every time.

Safe to say the football world will be watching with interest over the coming weeks. Let’s just hope its not like the time Michael Jackson turned up at Exeter City. Or Fulham, for that matter.

And finally, back to the league cup. Newcastle United hit brackets last night with a 7(seven) – 0 win at Morecambe. Six up at half-time, they left it late to hit the magical mark with an injury time o.g. just prior to the final whistle getting them over the line. It was a night that saw former Bees favourite Toumani Diagouraga shown a red card for the hosts – a case of Newcastle score, he’s off the pitch?

“Shooooot” – Toumani is a Griffin Park legend.

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea (are we  still doing that?) came close to the same score. Their 6-0 home defeat of Barnsley saw a hat-trick for £71million signing Kai Havertz as a strong looking line up romped home. Olivier Giroud made it 6 on 83minutes but, alas, that’s where things ended. A brace of brackets in one night would have likely seen the roof come off in our house. Instead, we had to be content with the one on a night that also saw Everton hit five.

Anyway, good luck to them all. A win next week could well see us paired with any one of these teams. We’ve tasted cup success against Chelsea and Everton in recent-ish years. I’d love the chance to do it again. However, before that there’s Fulham. And before that there’s Millwall.

Roll on Saturday. Another game on the couch. Another game on the I-follow/ See you there. In spirit.

A cracker against Chelsea at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon 

A good news/bad news kind of start to the day.

23 Sep

Another win for Brentford. Another game unbeaten. Through to the fourth round of the league cup at the expense of a West Bromwich Albion side who may have seen this one as a chance to restore some morale. Instead, the game ended two apiece – three of the goals coming from spot kicks and Marcondes with a sublime overhead kick – before we went through 5-4 in the penalty shootout. The reward for this being a visit from either Fulham or Sheffield Wednesday in next week’s fourth round. That, and the knowledge we’ve already defeated more Premier League sides than all three of those that made the jump up from the Championship last season. Leeds United the only one of those to taste any success (and that in the game of haemorrhaging defences against the hapless Cottagers). What a shame there was nobody allowed in to see it.

Sergi amongst those to feel the Forss

The expected changes to both teams were made. For Brentford it saw a return to goal of David Raya and a start for Marcus Forss, amongst others. Rico Henry, Emiliano and the sublime Sergi Canos also getting another runout from the off (let’s hope they can manage to avoid over exertion) after doing the business against Huddersfield on Saturday. With a strong bench that was well utilised the Bees were as strong as one could have expected. Certainly given the constant procession of midweek games clubs have had no choice but to play given the way the previous campaign was extended. It still makes no sense to even be playing the competition this year but, hey-ho, player burnout is a secondary consideration I suppose.

And if we are playing it, how nice to see Brentford doing so to the best of their available ability. West Brom barely got a look in during the opening half. Canos flashing one just wide and Emiliano hitting the post from distance. Fosu impressing throughout. The hosts with the one moment of danger just before half-time with a free kick awarded on the periphery of Saunders territory. It came to nothing.

Yet if the first half had seen everything but a goal, it all changed after the tea. The hosts took the lead form the spot. Dominic Thompson adjudged to have fouled Hal Robson-Kanu. The Baggies man picking himself up to give his side the lead. It was a lead that lasted less than two minutes and one which was cancelled out in fine style. Apparently.

We say ‘apparently’. Yours truly missed out after “Doing a JJ”. The net rippling off the back of Marcondes’ quite wonderful bicycle kick as this numpty had gone for a ‘splash and dash’ . Regular readers may be aware how back in the days we were allowed into grounds, it was a feat that the Giant Scot with the Pea sized bladder used to pull off with abandon from the Ealing Road terrace (missing goals by having to go for a wee, rather than bicycle kicks). Yet after suffering the same fate for our second on Saturday , has the baton been passed? Cripes. I hope not. 

If for no other reason that having fallen behind again to another Robson-Kanu spot-kick (not seen a worse ‘pen’ decision since Pontus elected for his infamous biro) we were then given our own chance to level things up.

‘That’ BIC

Daddy”, said H (I would imagine, if his teacher is reading) “wee. Go again”. One had to be impressed by the wordplay, if not the ignominy of being banished to the bathroom. I guess if you have to go, you have to go. Sure enough, it worked. Nothing to do with Marcus Forss at all. Like the lucky shirt, magic pants and not shaving, is this a new ‘omen’ to top the lot? Urghh.

Anyway, 2-2 it stayed. David Raya pulling off a flying save relatively late on to preserve the scoreline and justify his place back in the team after injury. The Twitter hate mob seemed out for our captain for the night. Makes a change from the quite bizarre Ivan/Sergi angst being seen in certain social-media quarters. Go figure. Nothing like getting on the team’s back based on nothing more than unfounded rumour. Anyway, if you’re one of those me banging on won’t change it. And if you aren’t, then presumably its nothing more than weird. Cripes. Considering some of the dross we’ve had over the years, the current squad is light years ahead.

Something proven from the full time penalties. Goal followed goal followed goal. Ivan Toney getting things off to a fine start for a Brentford team kicking second. The pressure of following the lead always adding an extra layer of pressure but, If it was there, it didn’t show. Josh Dasilva made it 2-2 with his own ‘Jonny Wilkinson’ style run up. Fosu and Forss were there for three and four. Then, David Raya did his thing. Diangana denied and the stage set. Up stepped Christian Nørgaard and there was no mistake made. West Bromwich Albion denied. The Bees through. A visit from another of last season’s Championship rivals next on the agenda.

We find out tonight whether that will be Fulham or The Owls. Brentford looking forward rather than over their shoulders at what might have been. At what happened last campaign. When pushed on whether this win was seen as revenge, Thomas Frank noted : “That’s the past, this is the future”.

With it, comes a chance to set our own personal best in this tournament. We’ve never reached the fifth round before. That game at Birmingham City being as close as it has got in recent years. Now, we’re all set for another crack.

Before that though, there’s a chance to rest tired limbs over the next few days. Saturday sees the trip across London to face Millwall. I’d love to be going – as much for the pre-match pub crawl as the actual game. Again, an action now denied and one with no end in sight. The latest announcements from the government curtailing any experiments with letting spectators back and meaning it looks like March, at the earliest, before we can even consider attending a game. ‘For the greater good’ and all that but let’s not pretend this isn’t soul destroying. That this isn’t devastating for so many, if not all, clubs on the financial front. That football without fans present and watching on I-follow is an ersatz replacement for the real thing.

I don’t really want to end on a downer. The prospect of Preston had been dangled like a carrot. That’s now been snatched away and for the foreseeable too. Waking up and listening to the radio this morning makes for hard news. We want in. We want normal. We just want to go and watch a game of football.  We aren’t allowed. For crying out loud, wash your hands and wear a mask. Like it or not. Believe it or not. Let’s all just do this . Please. I want to watch football. Not listen to Boris giving the impression of a man making it up as he goes along.

The latest rules invoking a virus busting cut-off at 10pm mean anyone wanting to watch the Arsenal – Liverpool game down the pub on Monday night will be kicked out with the game approaching 85 minutes gone. Small consolation, I suppose. And nothing Arsenal won’t have experienced before with fans streaming out early.

Before 22.00, everything is just fine. Be warned, horror awaits straight after.

Instead, let’s end with the thought of another fine performance. Of our MOTM Marcus Forss scoring. Again. With thoughts of Brentford continuing our winning form. Of taking consolation that, had we gone up last season, we’d have missed out on being physically present for that. 

Here’s to Millwall on Saturday. See you on I-follow.

Nick Bruzon 

The wait is over…

22 Sep

And with that, Saman Ghoddos finally became a Brentford player after the 27 year old attacker signed on a year’s loan from Amiens SC, with the option for a further two year permanent deal. The player put pen to paper and, with it, provided much relief. Not so much because it saw a 16 month pursuit come to an end but more because it meant we could finally retire those ‘Waiting For Ghoddos’ quips made by just about the entire internet in the build up to this one. I say quips. The line had been used so often it had become about as amusing (and tedious) as an episode of Mrs. Browns Boys. He’s gone straight in to training although one would suspect tonight’s trip to West Bromwich Albion in the third round of the league cup might be a leap too far.

The wait is over (sorry, sorry, sorry)

Speaking to ‘official’, Thomas Frank waxed lyrical about Ghoddos. So did Rasmus. Our head coach noting that along with his off the ball play, “He will bring good attacking qualities in the final third. He is good in one-on-one situations, is a good crosser of the ball, and makes very intelligent passes….He also has a personality and style of play that will work well with the group.You can read that piece, along with the thoughts of our top-knotted Co-Director of Football, here.

Imagine, somehow, the deal to take Said Benrahama from Lionel Road fails to transpire. My word, we’d be overflowing with attacking riches. I still can’t see that happening. Stadiums need to be paid for, books balanced and we’ve made no secret of the fact we expect him to leave. Yet, if things did play out differently…..

Like Pontus and Andreas (err), Saman had his moment in the World Cup 2018 sticker book

Still, we’ve not even seen our new man in action yet. The expectation from some fans no doubt huge. Players can take time to adjust. Others hit the ground running. For now, I’m glad we’ve got Bryan and Sergi tearing it up on the drive forward. That Josh Dasilva has picked up where he left off in the middle of the park. Canos in particular looks like he is planning for fun. Freedom of movement and confidence exuding from every pore. Long may that continue.

Whether tonight sees him get another run out or rested will be revealed when the team to play West Bromwich Albion is announced at 6pm. Don’t forget the early kick off if you are looking to follow this one on the ‘player’ option. £10 passes are available via the cup sponsor’s website and can be bought here

A trip to the Hawthorns feels very much like a case of déjà vu. They were one of the many teams we beat in the post Lockdown ‘run-in’ last season as Brentford came oh so close to making that step up. In the end, it was the Baggies that made it. Deservedly so. They got over the line in the final game and rightfully claimed their reward. 

Last time out against West Brom

That said, it has shown how hard the step up is. From going toe to toe with the Bees and Leeds United, they’ve now been on the wrong end of eight goals conceded and nil points as Everton and Leicester City have both feasted at the Slavan Bilić all you can score buffet.

Still, there’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded, err, Throstle and they’ll no doubt be looking to reset the form this evening. A home tie against a lower division ‘team like’… sure to have their eyes wide open and the players waking up this morning dreaming of the fourth round. The publicity seeking nature of the cup sponsor means we already know the reward for victory – a home tie with Fulham or Sheffield Wednesday. Their current ‘thing’ of doing the next round draw before the current one has even begun something designed as much with the intent of generating publicity, outtrage, knee jerk reaction and social media comment aka free advertising. So I won’t. You know their name. 

That’s their choice. We’ve ben treated to all manner of bizarre draws in the past. It’s their hilarious gimic  – something that has become about as amusing (and tedious) as an episode of Mrs. Brow…..

Instead, focus should be on going through. On getting the win. Rather than be distracted by the prospect of a local derby or the chance of a rematch with the final team to face Brentford in front of a Griffin Park full house.

The thought of playing the Cottagers something that will only see all the references to last season and the denouement of ‘that’ run in dragged up again. Oh. Joy. It’ll be like Doncaster Rovers all over. Something. Something. Something. Penalty.

Oh well. As Matthew Benham once said, “It’s become like a zombie that we can’t kill. But what can you do, eh?”. That, in regards tour transfer model but it feels much the same. We bounced back from that in style. I’m fully expecting the same thing to happen this time around. Needless to say, we’ll have the last laugh.

That’s for the future. For now, there’s another game. Could David Raya return? Will any of the new boys feature. Might Marcus Forss start? Could Ivan Toney get the goal he was so close to on Saturday afternoon. Roll on kick off. See you there – in spirit.

Let’s hope tonight is less tedious than…

Nick Bruzon 

A fine win. For Brentford.

17 Sep

Get in! We’re through to the next round of the league cup. Brentford warmed up for Saturday’s game at home to Huddersfield Town with a 2-0 win at Southampton. A much changed Bees lines up, which could only name five substitutes due a positive Corona Virus test in the B-team, ran out against a virtual full strength Saints outfit and will now travel to West Bromwich Albion for round three. That, a game where victory will see us equal our furthest run in this competition. Elsewhere, Bees United were getting excited about Midgetland’s performance in the Champions League. Priorities and all that.

What are the main talking points from this one ? Well, given the lack of TV coverage or attendance (thanks a bunch, Corona) watching the game was a no-no. Instead, we had our friends at radio and the brief smattering of YouTube highlights (which are now online) to keep us entertained. That, and Sky Sports news on mute. Besides, we don’t really do full-fat match reports on these pages ( a mantra as well worn as “and if you’d like to read more”, which you can do here, with all money received from the season review e-book going to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust).

The first, a powerful header from Christian Norgaard, late on in the first half. The Danish midfielder left unattended by the Southampton defence and ghosting in to make the perfect connection. The ball, cushioned by that luxuriant bouff, pinging off his head with the sweetest of contacts as home ‘keeper Alex McCarthy stayed rooted to his line. A delightful finish and one which saw the newly capped international on the Brentford scoresheet for the first time in his career.

Minutes later, it was 2-0. Josh Dasilva with a trademark goal from distance. His shot from the edge of the box was low and hard, finding the back of the net from just inside the left post. It was a fitting end to what sounded an action packed first half. Certainly one backed up by that meagre video selection which offered up nothing more than a Luke Daniels save in the second period.

2-0. Game over. West Bromwich Albion and a reunion with Romaine Sawyers await. The chance for another Premier League scalp. Brentford still the David team rather than divisional stablemates. I forget exactly what happened there. Oh well. We’ll make it this time, I’m sure. Just look at he reaction to the season of Doncaster and ‘that’ penalty (and if you’d like to read more… )

Josh shared this one at full-time. The joy apparent

The other huge take away from this one was the Southampton kit. My word, that’s gorgeous. I hate to go all shirt nerd (again) but the deep red with white sash combo was a thing of beauty. Proof that stepping away from your traditional stripes to pay homage to history can work. If Kitman Bob has plans for a ‘third’ shirt this season then we could do well worse than go down this route.

Sartorial and footballing magnificence

On Twitter, we had a reminder of Matthew Benham’s ‘other’ team over in Denmark. Bees United posting news of their European triumph. The obvious question being why? Who cares? I mean, good luck to them and all that but I have no more allegiance to them than I do to West Ham. For example. Imagine supporting Brentford and them?

I’m glad our owner’s Danish side aren’t in any apparent trouble but that’s about as far as it goes. We don’t support two teams. We don’t wear half and half scarves. There are more important things to focus attention on. When it comes to FCM I take a leaf from the book of Simpsons bartender Moe Syzlak, “I’m a well wisher, in that I don’t wish you any specific harm”.

Syzlak – well-wisher. Of sorts.

That said, if the long awaited ‘Benham derby’ was to ever take place then you could be sure Lionel Road will be full for that one. If only to prove a point.

Assuming fans are ever allowed in. Thanks bunch, Corona.

For now, though, it’s a case of job done. Very well. Brentford are into the third round of the League Cup. Why the tournament is even taking place in what is already an over-crowded fixture list thanks to the extension of last season is another question. Personally, I’d have canned it. The easy way to put a dead duck of a tournament out of it’s misery. A footballing ‘last of the summer wine’ – hanging around for years and years with the big players rapidly losing interest. But, it IS still here and any win is a win. Any chance to progress towards the W place one which we’ll be looking to grasp.

Hopefully the B team will be out of isolation shortly and able to help us in that cause. Take care. Be safe. And bring on Huddersfield Town.

Nick Bruzon

Cambridge follow Oxford in giving Bees the third degree.

14 Aug

Well that wasn’t great. Cambridge United reached the second round of the League Cup at the expense of a Brentford team chock full of new signings yet tinkered with to such an extent that it was almost at the level of  Marinus and the car keys in a bowl team selection of Oxford United from the same stage a few season back. Almost. At least this time we held on for a 1-1 draw before succumbing to fatal spot kicks taken in front of an ecstatic away support. On the plus side, the arrival of alleged Celtic target Rico Henry and long term signing Ollie Watkins put some much needed spring in the step to a game we almost won but, obviously, didn’t. 

Screenshot 2019-08-13 at 22.51.01

Griffin Park looked great under lights. Despite the result.

Upset? In a cup sense then of course but personally I slept well upon returning home. Dru Yearwood’s mistake early on presented Cambridge a chance from which they made no mistake but then they barely had a look in. Dru himself looked composed after that and grew into the game but the challenge of throwing so many new faces together was one that Brentford struggled with. Thomas Frank would later describe it as a disjointed performance and few present in the 5000+ crowd could argue with that.

Trying to look on the bright side this morning, there are still plenty of positives. Thomas was always going to play the new boys  – even this self-confessed numpty on the terrace called that one out yesterday – so it was a self-imposed challenge. The visitors came at us from the off and got the early goal as we struggled to settle in. Fair play to them in doing what they needed to but after that there was no more. Rather than turn into an Oxford style car crash (3-0 down after 12 minutes with Kemar Roofe’s 40 yard lob of Jack Bonham the ultimate slap in the face for the hapless head coach back in 2015) Brentford put the brakes on. Even though we struggled to get through our opponents, looking to walk it in rather than shoot, at least it stopped the goals going in.

Marinus Oxford touchline

Marinus and the Oxford fiasco (not a prog rock band). Never, ever forget

Thompson, Mbuemo, Valencia and Yearwood in particular all grew into the game and now have vital minutes under the belt. Zamburek and Racic stepped in and stepped up to a line up which was very much one for this evening only. Rico Henry and Ollie Watkins made a huge difference when they came on and showed what might have been had Thomas not used the game to try out new faces and give his starting XI a break after their exertions in the weekend win at Middlesbrough. Hull City on Saturday is going to be a tough one so you can understand why he has done this.

Outside of the rested faces, we’ve still got the likes of Said and Kamo to come back in to the team. And Marcus Forss scored another goal for the Bees. Huge news there with a starting berth possibly up for grabs in Thomas Frank’s all attack front line for Hull.

The subsequent second round draw saw Cambridge United drawn away to Swansea City. That in itself a reason to be grateful for crashing out. After last season’s horror shows against the Swans (home, away and FA Cup trip) the less we see of them in the short term the better. Besides, it also means we are now free to concentrate on the league.

And, of course, Celtic lost. Knocked out of the Champions League at home by CFR Cluj of Romania. Their own collapse at the death seeing them fail to make the group stages once more. This in itself of huge importance to Brentford, given the apparent interest in Rico Henry and the fact that their window remains open for a few more weeks so anyone could still leave for the Scottish top flight. Should they desire.

With the lure of Europe’s top table no longer available (as ever at this time of year), might a move to Glasgow be quite so appealing for Rico?  If, indeed, it was? The way he played last night, he is somebody who will surely be part of Thomas Frank’s plans this season so hanging on to him will be another boost.

Also, the cover of the programme looked great. Clutching at straws now, granted, but it was that sort of night. Some would say ‘couldn’t be bothered’ . Personally, I’ll go for slight over-tinkering in a bid to get new blood circulating. Another time we may have got away with it but not this time and there’s not much else to say, really.

Well done to our visitors. No gripes for me there. Bad luck Bees. We tried but much like Oxford, Cambridge gave us an education in how to play cup football and it was Brentford left with the blues. Nobody needs any further lecture from me on the subject.

Roll on Saturday and Hull City. See you there.

Screenshot 2019-08-13 at 22.50.41

Nice artwork

Nick Bruzon

Here’s hoping for a starry, starry night on Tuesday.

12 Aug

Middlesbrough has been and gone. Another trip to the Riverside and another win. Easy when you know how. Winning up there is starting to become a bit of a habit for Brentford but let’s not dwell on it any more. The points are in the bag and the team that scored the most goals won. Next up is the visit of Cambridge United to Griffin Park in the League Cup on Tuesday evening. And whilst we’re hoping it won’t be another ‘last ever’, who knows what might happen should the team be anything but on their game.

Screenshot 2019-08-11 at 07.10.50

The weekend at Middlesbrough was fantastic but it’s been and gone

As Brentford saw last season when pitted against the likes of Oxford United and Barnet, league position is no guarantee of cup success. Yes, we did beat both teams but neither game was anywhere near as emphatic as the divisional gulf may have suggested prior to kick off. Just as we’ve been the team administering the shocks in the past, now Cambridge United will be looking to throw down a potato skin from the depths of League Two. Will Thomas Frank put his foot in it though?

Well, I can’t help but feel there’ll be changes. Albeit, strong ones. Those acquisitions made later in the window are sure be given a go. Aren’t they? Presumably we’ll see Joel Valencia, Bryan Mbuemo, Dominic Thompson and Dru Yearwood on the team sheet. What about a certain Mr. Benrahma, too? Josh Clarke? Luke Daniels? It will be interesting to see how much Thomas tinkers but get it wrong and we face paying the ultimate price i.e. losing. Which could then bring us to the aforementioned ‘last ever’. Namely, cup game under lights at Griffin Park. And whilst I’m already in danger of ploughing the West Ham furrow of last ever this/that and the other at Upton Park / The Boleyn Ground, it does make you think.

If nothing else, about how wonderful an atmosphere can be generated by an ‘after-dark’ cup tie. Here’s hoping it isn’t our ‘last ever’, if only for the reason that  I can’t be ticking that one off the list in August. And it also means that Cambridge will have scored a first goal of the season after opening their League two campaign with successive 0-0 draws. So if you haven’t got your ticket as yet then it’s not too late. Besides, what’s the alternative? Staying at home to watch the ultimate Sky TV love-in of Salford City v Leeds United? Pass me the bucket. Please.

The other bonus about Cambridge visiting is that we get an unexpected glimpse at one of THE kits of 2019/20. Namely, their Hummel away shirt which is a spin on the Vandanel effort from the early 90s. So glaring it’s beautiful. One fan’s explosion in a paint factory is another’s Starry Night or Birth of Venus. And I’m definitely in the latter category. Much like Van Gogh’s masterpiece, let’s hope we don’t get lost in those blue and white depths.

Elsewhere, I did promise we’d try and keep on top of The Last Word Fantasy Football League this season. So here we go. After the first round of head-to-head fixtures the top ten are as below. Thanks all for entering and let’s not forget there’s a shirt on offer for the winning team at season end. Please let’s not forget….

Until then, here’s to Cambridge United on Tuesday. See you there…

Screenshot 2019-08-12 at 10.04.51

Nick Bruzon 

Ten times better than we could have hoped for – although perhaps not the shirt. Final Griffin Park game revealed.

21 Jun

Well that’s been an interesting few days. Hot on the heels of Yoann Barbet and Garry Monk, the Championship news keeps on coming thick and fast. Brentford fans can now start planning their away days – in theory – after the league fixtures were revealed yesterday. The computer has been very kind to us, even allowing for  early trips to Leeds United and Middlesbrough. Things kick off with a visit from Birmingham City and finish with a final game at home to Barnsley. Elsewhere, we have a new goalkeeper shirt (as Ibuprofen sales go through the roof to cope with the impending migraine) whilst yesterday’s League Cup draw, from a supermarket (as you do) sees us gifted a 24th chance to experience Griffin Park one more time as Cambridge United are the visitors.

Screenshot 2019-06-19 at 18.17.03

We have a new GK shirt – sunglasses not included.

The excitement levels ahead of the 2019/20 campaign cranked up a few notches now we know when we’ll be playing who. It’s fair to say that the fate handed out to us by the legendary ‘fixture computer’ is ten times better than anybody could have asked for. A visit from troubled Birmingham City, now bereft of both Jota and Garry Monk, kicks things off on August 3rd. Regardless of any discontent currently being experienced at St. Andrews, I am sure that Blues will have got their house in order by that point. Thus leaving us with as compelling an encounter as one could hope for at any point in the campaign, let alone to get things underway in the late summer sunshine.

Whilst we always trot out the line about waiting ten games until the table has truly been deemed to have ‘taken shape’, August offers a stern test of our credentials that could well give a firm indication of how we are set. Aswell as hosting Birmingham we’ve got away trips to Middlesbrough and Leeds United (sure to be moved for TV, given there’s a ‘Y’ in the day) along with visits from Hull City and Derby County, technically still Frank Lampard’s Derby County, although those Chelsea stories just won’t go away. Plus there’s my favourite of all ‘away days’, the trip to newly promoted Charlton Athletic.

Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 05.40.31

That first month of league fixtures in full

There’s a return to Griffin Park for another fixture favourite – the Boxing Day game. Swansea City are the visitors on December 26th. I can’t see it being one to trouble Sky and run the risk of being shifted. If for no other reason, Leeds United aren’t involved. QPR away is October 26th and they visit on January 11th. Fulham come to Griffin Park on December 14th whilst we get the chance to pack out the away end and neutral stands on March 14th.

Rounding it all off is the visit from Barnsley. May 2nd is the final game at Griffin Park. Thankfully it is one which doesn’t have the additional significance of a local derby or a traditional rivalry – unless, of course, Toby Tyke fancies donning his spikes for a rematch of that infamous mascot race against Buzz Bee. Things are going to be emotional enough on that day without adding to the pressure by chucking in the likes of a Fulham or QPR. Albeit, knowing Brentford we’ll probably make the play-offs this time around, just to give us an additional final game and throw all carefully laid plans for saying goodbye into disarray.

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Did he, though?

Next up, the goalkeeper shirt. Cherry Tomato red? Lurid Orange? Definitely electric blue. Definitely ‘different’. Quite how it falls into the ‘retro’ category that the club have been touting, I’m not sure, unless we are talking about a throwback to the garish days of David Button and Graham Benstead?

I have to be honest that my gut reaction was one of abhorrence. It’s not going to fly off the shelves and I’m not going to be rushing out to buy one (except, perhaps, as a Christmas present for Mrs. Bruzon who thinks it’s gorgeous). But having given it a bit more consideration after the knee had jerked, I think this is a smart move from Brentford. And by smart, I mean intelligent rather than stylish.

Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 07.07.50Goalkeeper’s shirts aren’t traditionally designed to be mass selling items. As long as there’s no clash with the home shirt then bring it on. It has drawn our eye and perhaps the logic here is that it may do the same to opponents. If the colour scheme gives even a fractional advantage then go for it. Who am I to knock kitman Bob’s methodology? I ’m sure he and the club know exactly what they are doing with this one – even if things didn’t work out quite so well for us when ‘that’ Hummel shirt was in use….   

Next, up the draw for the league cup took place yesterday. The tournament sponsors continuing their trend of ‘unusual’ locations/times for the draw and hosting it in a supermarket. Presumably, this is to get people talking about it and mentioning their names so, out of principal, I won’t. Moreso, given that in Brentford at least, the aforementioned supermarket survives only by reason of having no competition rather than customers going there through choice. If their usual empty shelves and ‘borderline’ use by dates was anything to go by, you’d have been forgiven for expecting several of the balls to be missing or the likes of Bradford Park Avenue or Middlesbrough Ironopolis to be included.

Anyway, nonsense aside, we’ve been given a home tie. Cambridge United. In a draw which I’m amazed isn’t rigged – given the number of big-name ties that seem to come out every time the balls are pulled – the first round also sees Wimbledon play MK Dons and the ‘media love-in’ derby between Salford City and Leeds United. One can only assume those two will be picked for TV coverage. Leeds on the box – who’d have thought it?

And finally, as unsubtle as ever, if you’d like to read more (to coin a phrase)….. please do download a copy of the Last Word season season review – containing the least bad of these columns from the World Cup to Aston Villa deserving to win the play offs. It also includes the World Cup aswell as all the ‘Park Life’ articles submitted for the matchday programme and so not previously available on these pages.  

ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so what better way to remind yourself how brilliant 2018/19 was? To kill a bit of time on the commute to work / on your summer holidays / on the toilet etc You can download it , now, for your kindle , iPod telephone or other electronic reading device here.

At £1.99 it’s cheaper than half a pint so what’s to lose? Apart from £1.99 – which then goes to a great cause anyway. Many thanks again. And enjoy.

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Nick Bruzon

 

The lunchtime after the night before. Arsenal through despite storming second half from Bees.

27 Sep

If only….. So close….. Why didn’t he go for it from kick off?…. Why can’t we just enjoy a big game just even one fuc&ing time?…. I enjoyed half a big game – should have been a whole one but for team selection.” These, just some of the things I saw / heard after Arsenal beat Brentford 3-1 in Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup third round. It’s the obvious reaction to a game that, once The Bees stepped up in the second half, was about as exciting as they come. Likewise, and I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t disappointed on seeing that our usual starting XI weren’t in the frame for the opening period, it really has the feeling of an opportunity missed. In the immediate short term.

I don’t subscribe to any ‘big day out’ nonsense. This was a cup tie in an arena that was about as sanitised and sterile as they come and hardly the place where, but for a ball pulled from the hat, one would come to voluntarily. Giant ‘goal flags’, players giving out counter terrorism advice on the big screens and even mid-match graphics exhorting the home fans to ‘Come On You Reds.’ At one point I had to double check that the flag saying Arsenal Library actually said Arsenal Liberia. For me, this was all about the chance to progress against a club still labouring to escape the grisly shadow of, by their esteemed standards, recent mediocrity. A team sure to have been playing several reserves. They duly obliged.

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Arsenal library

Let’s be honest here, the first half was hard work. We weren’t even close to coming second as the hosts, helped by a very early goal, slipped effortlessly into cruise control. Reserves or otherwise. The Bees looked lethargic; the crowd subdued. That we were only two down at half time was as much thanks to Arsenal failing to put this one to bed. Halftime couldn’t come soon enough but, with it, Dean Smith seemingly delivered the mother of all team talks.

Sergi and, in particular, Alan Judge burst into life. Kamo mopping up the midfield. Dean’s initial selection more than justified as The Bees woke up. A goal threatened and came via a quite wonderful free kick from Judgey on the hour. Situated deep in the heart of Saunders territory, he was the last person anyone expected to hit it from the clutch of players gathered over the ball. But boy, what a sweet strike up, over and around the wall that left Jay Leno in the Arsenal goal with no chance. Sumptuous.

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Over the wall and en-route to goal

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Yesssssss !!!!!

An immense knee slide followed as the Brentford fans exploded. Not literally. Although that earlier advice might at least have come in handy. Could we haul ourselves back into this? The addition of Henrik Dalsgaard adding further strength. Likewise Maupay and Benrahma. It wasn’t for a want of trying, that’s for sure.

Sadly though, it wasn’t to be. The prolific Lacazette putting it out of sight deep into stoppage time to give the game that final 3-1 score. No complaints from me with the end result but a lot to think about on the way home and a lot of time to do it thanks to the tube strike.

Dean’s team selection…. Absolutely I was gutted to see the likes of Said Benrahma, Neal Maupay and Daniel Bentley on the bench when the teams were announced. After all the hype, build up and ‘that’ Chelsea cup tie I really thought we’d hold firm. We didn’t. I understand why. These were still more than recognised players who came in at a point where the team are in the midst of a 7(seven) game run over 22 days.

Fitness and rotation are the obvious factors at play here whilst the second half proved that, actually, Dean called it right. He picked a side that had the ability to do a job. To a man they came out and put a stunning shift in after half-time with the performance further bolstered by later substitutions. It was the first half ‘no show’ that left us on the backfoot and with a mountain to climb. Rabbits in the headlights of slick, but comfortable opponents who play at that level for a reason.

We could have won. We maybe should have won. I’m still not sure why we took so long to start firing given how we came flying out of the traps in the second period. Would the team that lost at Frank Lampard’s Derby County on Saturday have fared any better? Alan Judge scored a wonder goal but that’s all I can take away from this in the direct aftermath. So close counts for nothing. That’s not to overlook the fact that, personally, I’m immensely cheered and proud by how we grew into this one.

As ever, some perspective. And as much to me. Whilst this was from many respects a chance to really make a name for ourselves, at the end of the day (Clive) we’re moaning about not beating Arsenal. Despite a moribund first half we were alive and in it until the final minute.

That’s no bad yardstick of progress in my eyes. We’ve got two more league games to come in less than a week. Thankfully, both at home. Get six points against Reading and Birmingham then we’ll be looking at last night less as an opportunity missed, less as us ‘not enjoying a big game’ as was earlier noted and more a stepping stone en route to bigger and better things.

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The moment- 2-1 and game on!!!

Nick Bruzon

The tickets are flying and ‘that song’ approaches as something incredible is found in the office.

11 Sep

Fast work Brentford fans. Looks like tickets for the trip to Arsenal in the League Cup on Wednesday 26th are flying out of the door. In league action, where has the ref gone? With apologies in advance, but the second week of international break really bites hard. Indeed, things have got to the point where the semi-imminent visit from Wigan Athletic and Will Grigg is now a major highlight on the calendar.  Even if it does mean ‘that’ song will be doing the rounds. Assuming ‘that song’ is even a thing still. Best of all, a chance encounter in the office has led to the discovery of 2018’s ‘must have’ accessory. 

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Will Grigg missed out on a home debut hat trick. Form went south from there

First, the Arsenal game. After all the discussion over 5,000 or 9,000 tickets for Brentford fans, we received the latter. And they’ve been flying off the shelves. Or rather, the internet. I saw a post last night suggesting we are close to half-way selling out that allocation on day 1. Just to season ticket holders. Most impressive for a game that, ultimately, could be against the Arsenal B-team – certainly, if the club go to Wenger based form. Could a new manger see a new approach to a trophy his side have taken lightly over the years (at least, in the early rounds) and haven’t won since 1993?   

Regardless, we’ll be there en-masse and looking to equal a best ever run in a tournament that hasn’t treated us too kindly since inception. The fourth round defeats to Nottingham Forest and, erm, Birmingham City (urghh – that one really hurt) being about as good as it’s got. As an interesting aside, 80% of those early tickets sales were made online and, even if the confirmation mail looked forward to seeing us at Griffin Park (erm, we have got this one right?) it would seem to speak volumes about the ease of the system. As ever, big up to Mads and her team who would have still undertaken 800+ Arsenal sales in person (something that could also have been the title of Arsene Wenger’s autobiography).

Next up, Wigan Athletic. They visit Griffin Park on Saturday for a championship game where a win could see the Bees reach the ‘automatic’ positions, subject to other results. That’s by no means guaranteed, of course, and it won’t just be a case of turning up with the expectation of three points. Moreso, given the visitors are sure to have ex-Bee Will Grigg in their side. How things could have turned out differently for him. They didn’t, despite the bright start, and with the greatest respect there were few tears shed when news of his departure was announced.

Of course, he’s performed really well since dropping back in to League One since aswell as flourishing for Northern Ireland on the international stage. Despite not appearing for them at Euro 2016, ‘that song’ still follows him around like a bad smell. Yet with the highly rated Daniel Bentley in goal, Yoann Barbet (a magnificent captain last time out) at left back as well as Ezri Konsa (England U-21), Chris Mepham (Wales) and Henrik Dalsgaard (something, something, something, World Cup) its fair to say our defence will probably be less terrified and more simply aware of a striker who will no doubt have a point to prove.

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Captain Barbet played a blinder last time out.

For now, we’ve no idea who the man in the middle will be for that one. A quick check on the EFL website reveals that the referees are yet to be announced for the forthcoming fixtures. An unusual occurrence given these normally go up faster than Keith Stroud raising a yellow card.

Instead, there is simply the realisation that the EFL seem to opt for a certain style of photograph when leading the stories about who will be ‘in charge’ for future games. A term that was certainly at it’s loosest the last time we were all together, for the 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest. That was the one where Mr. Bankes led the mayhem. Even if ultimately it was us and fouling Forest who were deemed not have controlled the players.

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The long arm of the law

And finally, something quite amazing happened at work yesterday. Please note – your definition of ‘quite amazing’ may vary. However, I’ve got first dibs on this. It seems that it’s not just the Bees who have incredible taste when they are on the road. As if the brown/orange change shirt couldn’t deliver anymore, I was on a different floor in the office on Monday when I spotted something quite wonderful.

A good omen for the games at Ipswich (next league – a, and Arsenal)? Or simply the ideal accompaniment for when it’s… raining goals?

I’ll get my coat on the way out.

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Where can we get them?

Nick Bruzon

Bring on the big guns. And also Arsenal.

31 Aug

Finally. It actually happened. The game that so many of us have been waiting for will finally take place. Brentford entertain Nottingham Forest on Saturday in a chance to head back to the very upper reaches of the Championship table. Elsewhere, and you may have missed this on social media last night, we’ve been drawn away at Arsenal in the third round of the league cup. It it is a tie that seems to be exciting just about everyone, no more so than our own chairman Cliff Crown.

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A fairly safe bet we’ll need to go brown for this one

You can understand the buzz around this game. We all know the history at Arsenal and of the many, many trophies they have won. Even if things have got (relatively) barren in recent years and Europa League qualification is the best they have to be content with. As the later end of The Wenger era saw them very much standing still, the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Spurs have all overtaken Arsenal at football’s top table. With Tottenham currently sitting pretty as kings of North London football, I have no doubt current boss Unai Emery will view the Carabao Cup as a huge opportunity to try and start redressing that balance.

C137D36D-7E04-4531-81DE-C0D1C441FEA8For Brentford fans, this presents the rarest of opportunities. Our paths haven’t crossed in over 70 years and for many it is a chance to visit a new stadium. Whilst the records are under debate (certainly in regards to our own number of defeats) the one thing everyone agrees on is that Brentford have the lion’s share of victories. As much as five can be deemed any sort of lion’s share. Personally, I’m just grateful for a kind draw (the prospect of Boro’ away, urghh) , an eminently winnable game and the chance to return my books before they become overdue.

The other thing to catch my eye on Twitter was the number of people who already seem set to miss this one : New York, Vegas, Franz Ferdinand (the band rather than the deceased Archduke), recovering from a car crash……

These just some of the many, albeit wonderful reasons (perhaps not so much that last one), as to why people are now checking their diaries to see if there is any chance of avoiding a pre-booked clash. Yet with Arsenal playing on the Sunday, the game seems likely to be played on the evening of 26th September. A cup tie on a Wednesday evening is something that The Emirates won’t have seen for a few years, even if it does push yours truly dangerously close to the list of absentees.

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That’s the night of my own work Christmas party (being the last time all 11 of the team are in together prior to late December). And now I’ll have to let the team down. Them, not Brentford. Unless of course they fancy some celebratory cup football. Yes, do spare a thought for Mads and her team in the ticket office as all manner of strange(r) requests are likely to come out of the woodwork. I can only imagine the queue for this one being akin to the launch of our own brown and orange away shirt.

All of which is wonderful, but there is also the small matter of Nottingham Forest tomorrow. Of course I’m excited about the prospect of reaching the Carabao cup fourth round but the league campaign is where it’s all at. Can Brentford get back to winning ways after the slip up at Blackburn? Will we be able to inflict a first defeat of the season on a Forest team who themselves beat Premier League opposition in the cup this week. A very late brace from the wonderfully named Matty Cash seeing Newcastle United’s celebrations at a 90th minute equaliser being somewhat short lived. An eventual 3-1 win sees the Tricky Trees presented their own chance of further profession, with a home tie against Stoke City the reward.

I thought the Bees looked wonderful with the build up play on Tuesday night against Cheltenham. It’s great to see the players coming in adapting to the system used by the first team. I also think we were over elaborate, profligate and almost got caught out. Dean Smith will no doubt be making changes with Romaine Sawyers and Ollie Watkins amongst those sure to return.

There’s no Ryan Woods, of course. His own ‘loan to sale’ was confirmed last week Saturday and he is now a Stoke player. Let’s hope they don’t injure him. Although I’d imagine neck ache from looking up at the sky will be his main health concern.

There’s no doubt we’re all well up for that Arsenal game. Chairman Crown and his family may even don a half/half scarf (although hopefully not) whilst Nico Yennaris and Josh Dasilva have their own points to prove. Yet all that is to come. If nothing else, we’ve a score to settle after last season’s capitulation at home to Forest. 1-0 up after 40 minutes turned into 3-1 down after 47 and an eventual 4-3 defeat that was nowhere near as close as the score line suggests. Then (away) manager Mark Warburton doing his ‘Brittas Empire’ thing in a shirt / short combo that was tighter than the final score.

Still, that was then and this is now. Warbs has moved on from The City Ground. Brentford have moved up. Dean Smith and his team are playing some quite wonderful football. Here’s hoping we can find the back of the net and return to winning ways.

See you on Saturday.

Brittas Warbs

Mark Warburton – won at football but lost at fashion last time out.

Nick Bruzon