Tag Archives: league

Eyes down for a full house. Of sorts….

22 Dec

Here we go. Time for some festive cheer. A Christmas cracker etc etc etc. With London plunged in to Tier 4 and the next few weeks looking like the equivalent of being tied to a chair and force fed Mrs Brown’s Boys on repeat, could Brentford provide a much needed boost to morale? Tuesday evening sees our league cup quarter final with Newcastle United and I for one can’t wait. With doom and gloom all around us (but enough about Mrs Brown’s Boys) the chance of making the semis is a huge opportunity waiting to be taken. The chance to get closer to another appearance at the W place in North London. The chance to increase our lead over Fulham L of Premier league clubs beaten this season. The chance to actually qualify for Europe – via the medium of the Uefa Europa Conference League (UECL) place that goes to the winner. The chance to actually lift a trophy.

There are only eight teams left in this. The Bees and Stoke City sole representatives from outside the top flight. Flying the Championship flag but, equally, there in our own right. Tough opposition in Southampton, West Bromwich Albion and Wycombe Wanderers have already been despatched. And also Fulham L. Thomas Frank’s red and white army unstoppable. Now, 13 games unbeaten as the goals fly in. Ivan Toney doing his thing. Vitaly Janelt our latest unsung hero. Sergi Canos back to his best. Bryan Mbeumo lashing in two top, top goals during the weekend’s destruction of Reading. Rico Henry, surely knocking on the England manager’s door from his left-back berth. The rest of the defence being picked with all the consistency of car keys being plucked from a bowl yet whomever gets selected, locking out those coming at us. 

Bryan did his thing in some style on Saturday

Expect more changes tonight. Ethan Pinnock has served Mads Bech Sorensen’s suspension for the red card at Watford (hmmm) and will surely be catapaulted straight back in to the team. Likewise, Christian Norgaard is fit once more. Could he and Vitaly start alongside each other? Will it be a straight swap? Or is the bench the best he can hope for at present? 

Up top, with coverage beginning at 5.00pm you can set your Sky bingo cards to 5.01pm for mention of ‘Ivan Toney proving a point against former club Newcastle United’. Personally speaking, one can only imagine his primary goals being to see Brentford make it through whilst adding to his own tally for the season.Not sure I could sit through another of his penalty kicks, though. The technique incredible although one that gives me kittens in the run up. Doing it in normal time would be just fine, please.

Positivity is great but let’s not forget who we’re up against. Newcastle United (are they still everyone’s ‘favourite second team’?  – thanks, Sky) remain a top flight club and pushing to win a first trophy since 1969. With the 5-2 tonking handed out by Leeds United still fresh in the mind and then, even worse, failing to beat Fulham L, Steve Bruce will be desperate to inject his own brand of good cheer into the North-East. He’ll have to do it without Allan Saint-Maximin and captain Jamaal Lascelles, both of whom are suffering from the fallout out of Corona Virus. Urghh, there we go. The C word. Just add  – Brentford’s longest run in the competition for a ‘full house’.

The one could go either way. For me, Clive, there’s no sense in trying to predict it. It’s hard enough knowing who is even going to start let alone who will emerge on top. Instead, let’s sit back with some snacks, with a beer and watch the action unfold. The kick off is at 5.30pm and its live on Sky. Grab your bingo card and let’s do this…..

Nick Bruzon 

Time to start putting the boot in. Or, rather, on.

27 Sep

Brentford are up to 9th in the fledgling table and unbeaten in all competitions since the season opener at Birmingham City. The latest result, a 1-1 draw at Millwall in a game that will be remembered as much for the return of Said Benrahma and the excessive wind coming down the I-follow line. That, less a comment on Marcus and Mark’s personal hygiene and more a reflection of the howling gusts rattling around the Harchester United stadium. Very much a case of Cold Blow Lane despite the Lions having long moved home. Certainly it wasn’t one to live long in the memory but it’s another point on the board and another chance for this team to reacquaint themselves with playing together in these oddest of circumstances. Besides, thing could be worse. Looks at Nottingham Forest. How IS that close (closed ?) season investment working out? 

What is there to say after this one? Both teams pressed. Both pushed. Both scored. Both could have won it. We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages as the regular reader will be aware (you can get the ‘official’ view here if you want). That’s no bad thing. It wasn’t that we put in a bad performance but, like Birmingham City away, the trip to Millwall is generally a game of few goals (that one where Danny Shittu gave us the o.g. winner aside). You can now add Saturday to the list and, being honest, after conceding an early goal I’m more than happy we were even able to pull it back rather than succumb to yet another 1-0 defeat. 

‘Official’ capture the equaliser in their match report – link above

Moreso, given the manner in which it was given away. Pontus somehow seeing a boot go flying high in to the sky as he tracked Mason Bennett. The Swedish international unable to keep pace, or balance, with uneven footing and the ball was delivered in Jed Wallace who made no mistake. You wouldn’t with that much space.

The defending from Brentford absolute schoolboy for the opener, regardless of the Swede’s footwear faux-pas. Surely one for Thomas to review on the whiteboard when we all reconvene at Jersey Road. 

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Pontus’ shoelace.

It was a defence that had already seen Rico Henry replaced just three minutes in. Dominic Thompson coming off the bench to cover our unsung hero. Something clearly not right – whether picked up in the warm up or earlier. Regardless, it was an opening five minutes you’d happily forget about. Many following on I-player not even watching as yet. Several reboots were needed to update the somewhat random commentary (again no reflection on Mark of Marcus) as it switched between Millwall’s effort and our own. The lack of pictures also somewhat disconcerting. Once again, a simple solution (once you realised) that Safari and the EFL app do not make happy bedfellows. Chrome all the way. After last week’s ‘credit card’ farce, a frustrating start to what should have been a super simple process. 

Regardless, we had it all to do now. And that was just being able to watch the game. But with the challenge of grappling with technology overcome it was onwards and upwards. Mark Burridge was coming loud and clear, the pictures were sharp and Brentford were pushing. Surely the Millwall goal would soon be breached. Sure enough, with little more than 20 minutes on the click we were level. Ivan Toney hauled down in the box as he waited for a Dalsgaard cross to plop onto his head.

But if the opportunity to score his first league goal was denied, he made no mistake from the spot. Ivan’s approach to the ball was more amble than run up. Not even the Brentford yoof element are this casual (that Stone Island won’t wear itself)  but it made no difference to the result. The ball calmly stroked into the bottom corner, as close to the post as was possible. The precision of the shot, over power, giving Bialkowski in the Millwall goal no chance. 

1-1. Over an hour to go. Surely one of the teams would kick on? It didn’t happen. Both had chances and, being honest, it was probably the hosts who had the better of them. Mahlon Romeo hitting a first half thunderbolt against the post from the corner of the box with the diving Luke Daniels beaten and then Tom Bradshaw offered the freedom of the box before steering wide in the second. For the Bees, a lot of threat but no real cast iron chance. Benrahma made his way on for the final quarter hour and played one delightful ball towards Toney but, alas, it was cleared.

It’s was interesting that Thomas used Sergi Canos to make way for the return of the mercurial Algerian. Even Mrs Bruzon was amongst those questioning why it hadn’t been Emiliano as the one pulled off. Still, that’s why Thomas is the head coach – he’s the one paid to read the game and make the tough calls.

We’ve picked up another point and, as ever, all the conjecture in the world and ‘if onlys’ don’t make a difference to the table at full time. Millwall probably feel they should have had all three points. Brentford will be happy with one but on another day we might have taken the lot. 

Still, I’m happy to be picking up the points. The trips to St.Andrews or The Den are never pleasant experiences. We’ve got them out the way early and are climbing the table. Look at the bottom for some context.

Wayne Rooney’s Derby County ™, Nottingham Forest and Wycombe Wanderers only have one goal and nil points between them after their opening three. Sheffield Wednesday’s start of -12pts the only thing keeping that trio off the bottom and even then something being reeled in at a rate of knots by the Owls.

Ten games in is that real marker of form. Of who will be the teams to beat and who are the division whipping boys. Certainly, I’d had Forest in the former category at the start of the campaign. These are still very early days but it’ll be interesting to see how they bed in or whether the ever sartorial Sabri Lamouchi will fall out of fashion.

Next up is the visit of Fulham L in the League Cup. A somewhat unusual Thursday afternoon, 5.30pm kick off on Sky Sports. As a consequence, the Championship game with Preston has been shunted back to Sunday 3pm.

I’d only expect a raft of changes for the visit of the Cottagers. This 100mph start to the fixture list will be killing players and perhaps the ever present Rico Henry was the first victim of this. Is it time to wrap up Sergi in the cotton wool and cup-tie Said ?

Whoever Thomas starts with, my hope for that one is the pundits and commentary team don’t go into pay-off ‘verload’ . Yes. We know. It happened. Move along now. It’s all abut the future. History belongs in the past. So to speak. 

See you there, Thursday. Well not Lionel Road but on the couch. Here’s to the chance of reve… D’oh !

Nick Bruzon

Brentford 2.0 – Here we go again.

6 Sep

It seems barely five minutes ago that the Covid interrupted season came to a close. The Griffin Park auction has only just completed and my nerves still feel shredded after reliving the agony of Stoke, Barnsley and the Craven Cottage outfit. The most painful play-off campaign out of our nine attempts still sore. Still niggling. Still a sense of incredible frustration after coming so, so close. Yet now we are back underway as fellow Championship stablemates Wycombe Wanderers visit in the first round of the League Cup. The first ‘competitive’ game at our new home, Lionel Road. 

The end to last season was horrible, for all those well documented reasons. Shut out of our home (as were fans of all clubs) in an attempt to control the pandemic. Denied the chance to say goodbye in person. Having our hopes raised by that most amazing run in before that heart-wrenching conclusion. We know what happened. We won’t overly rake over it anymore after today (although if you would like to read more then news incoming…) because it won’t change anything. Except, perhaps, provide inspiration. The desire to know how good we are and to go one better this time.

If anything, it may have been frustration of a different sort to actually reach the top flight and then remain locked out. Perhaps, in an odd sort of way, it’s better to take the long route around? Ok, I’m clutching at straws but the point being that the green shoots of optimism are returning. 

The pain IS still there but now it is more of a reminder than a cloud of doom hanging over the head’. ‘Supporters’ abusing Thomas and the team after they had  “bottled” it, they had “choked it and worse (not my words but let’s not forget all that nonsense, it did happen) now more a historical reminder about the nature of football fans. It’s emotional stuff. 

I get people were upset. I was too. Hugely. As were my family. Having to answer a hundred questions of “What happened?” or respond to condolences from well meaning colleagues nothing more than something designed to illicit a response of “F**k the f**k off and then f**k off some more” . But it didn’t. Lips bitten and friends were politely spoken too.Just as our on pitch heroes were  – even if a few morons may have coped a bit in return..

That was then. This is now. It may feel like mere minutes have passed but progress has been significant. Charlie Goode and Ivan Toney have both joined the squad. Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahama are both still Bees. For now. I can’t see either player staying but would love if it somehow happened, of course. Josh Dasilva is our latest international U-21 and Lionel Road has opened for business.

One has to say it looks magnificent. Today is our first proper chance to see it when Sky TV host the game with Wycombe. It is sure to be a different Brentford team to the one which travel to Birmingham City for next weekend’s Championship opener (also on Sky). As much given the international games taking place at present. 

The list of absentees is a huge one, with Pontus and several assorted Danes (not a prog rock band) amongst those joining Josh and Bryan Mbeumo in representing their countries. Whatever happens I’m not going to read too much in to this one – certainly in terms of who may start next weekend. Who Thomas sees as his first choice, starting XI when the squad is fully fit. 

Yet at the same time it will give a steer as to how well we may go. As to who might want to stake an early claim for a place. Most importantly, it is a competitive football match. A chance to prove that last season’s denouement has done nothing more than serve as a reminder how important EVERY point is. 

People point to the final few games but let’s not forget the opening day disappointment at home to Birmingham City. Some of the turgid 0-0s and home reverses in the first few months. Once we hit form we were amazing. But it took a while to get going and, ultimately, that’s what saw the team fall just short.

It was amazing fun getting to that point. I can’t wait to start the next stage of the journey. I can’t wait to get inside Lionel Road. Perhaps next month a few of us may be afforded that privilege.Here’s hoping, Until then, it’s TV, radio (where BBC London have today’s game) and whatever I-follow deal may be offered up.

Off-field, the conclusion to the Griffin Park auction has seen supporters now collect their wares. This Kit-nerd has been left well happy, having picked up a couple more mid-90s efforts for little more than the price of a club shop replica

Paul Stephenson’s long sleeved ‘away’ was pick of the crop – for this kit nerd

There were admiring eyes, out of respect, cast at the pick up time when the winer of the KLM cheque arrived at the same time as yours truly in order to collect his purchase.

Oh my. This was incredible in the flesh. Much bigger than expected (as all novelty cheques should be) and fully framed. I have to be honest that I’d had eyes on this when the catalogue was published but, like the Gary Blissett player board and the turnstiles, it moved out of my price range way too fast. 

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That’s life. That’s money. That’s not to be bitter. Anything but. Personally, I’m ecstatic with what I’ve been able to pick up. I just can’t wait for the chance to wear one of these in anger at a game. The only downside to this being that Kevin Dearden’s shirt fits quite nicely. Hey, I’m 50 next month and let’s say it was from early in his career.

The GPG has a cracking thread on the auction pick up already. You can find that here to see who has started to put what, where. Do take a look and please add to it.

As for Griffin Park, the clean up has begun already. Jota has been taken down from the gates whilst the ticket office and many external fitting have been removed. It won’t be long before the bulldozers move in and then we really are doing nothing more than living in the past. Albeit, plenty of happy memories. Barnsley, perhaps, aside….

As for Griffin Park, the clean up has begun already. Jota has been taken down from the gates whilst the ticket office and many external fitting have been removed. It won’t be long before the bulldozers move in and then we really are doing nothing more than living in the past. Albeit, plenty of happy memories. Barnsley, perhaps, aside….

Now, the only way is forward. The past is just that. The season is here and the bookies have us 6-1 favourites for the title. On a personal note, the club have been generous enough to keep the Park Life column going in the matchday programme. I don’t get paid for that and don’t want to. I love the club, I love being involved and writing still needs to remain personal . Or, where needed, probing. 

However, it is mentioned more to reflect how the ongoing interaction with our supporters is continuing. This is something which had been a huge part of Griffin Park life and, personally, I’m so glad we are continuing down this track. The fans are what make a club. The relationship with them what defines us.  There are so, so many involved behind the scenes.  

Sorry. It’s been a bit rambling today. Not hugely structured. A few thoughts thrown up in the air and let’s see where they land. I’ll be on the sofa at mid-day and can’t wait for it all to start again. It’s going to be different but it’s still going to be Brentford.  

Here’s to 2020-21 being the best season yet.

Supporters have always been involved – despite the size of their novelty cheques

THE main item has now been collected

Peter living the dream for all of us. Let’s do this!!

21 Dec

Wasn’t that the week just gone? This little bus stop in Hounslow celebrating the moment we won ‘our cup final’ on Saturday. Or, put in correct terms, tearing apart a Fulham side who only had the woodwork to thank them for not having anything more humiliating than a 1-0 defeat to take back up the road with them. It was a victory that saw the Bees jump above our neighbours and up to fourth place in the Championship after as comprehensive a performance as one could ever enjoy. Today promises to continue the excitement with a chance to make ground on the top three. Our own trip to leaders West Bromwich Albion the above shining star at the top of the Championship festive tree. Of equal interest though, as much for the comedy value of who will hit the self-destruct button, is the visit of second placed Leeds United to The Cottage. Whatever happens there, something will give in our favour.

Fulham was magnificent. A non stop, barnstorming performance from Brentford which, a brief open flurry aside, never saw the visitors even close to coming second. Peter Gilham would write during the week about the energy levels expended in that one and the quite staggering High Metabolic Load Distance figures achieved by the team. I had visions of him in a lab coat, examine test tubes as he talked about record levels of decelerations,  accelerations  and high speeds. It was all very Doctor Science and gave me more admiration than ever for Peter’s versatility. Albeit the subsequent reference that “For Players: HMLD = High Metallic Load Distance” had me yearning for some Metabollica on #BeeTheDJ when Swansea visit on Boxing Day. Blame the spellcheck, Peter – it’s my standard excuse!!

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Peter checks those HMLD results

 

In all seriousness though, I think in layman’s terms all this – and you should read what is a quite fascinating piece on official – means that the players put a bloody shift in. Something that was quite apparent to all watching. The science aside, it really was an article written form the heart of a man who is the living embodiment of the club. He talked about his own upbringing and, crucially, the importance of the fans. About raising the decibels even further. About making the second half of this season one to really remember.

Sitting where I do in The Braemar, I’m fortunate enough to be able to grab a word with Peter most games. He’s never too busy to say hello and is, ultimately, a fan. A fan with more knowledge and more years of support under the belt than most of us. The decibel factor is something he never fails to mention when you talk in person. The absolutely HUGE lift it gives the players. The way they respond to it. Fulham was the perfect example and what a way to finish that one. Please do take a look at his message on the club site and don’t take those words lightly.  

That was then. This is now. A trip to West Bromwich Albion just about the toughest challenge a team in this division is going to face. The Baggies pushing for a return to the top flight and relentless in their pursuit of top spot. Brentford, without a victory abasing this particular opposite since 1948. One could argue there’s a case for a ‘nothing to lose’ mentality but that’s the wrong one. Think like that and you think defeated. We’ve a first XI who are on fire at present. Who attack with pace from just about every angle. Who are rock solid at the back, having conceded less Championship goals than anyone else barring Leeds United this season. Who have a GD that is only bettered than Albion and , again, Leeds. Credit where it is due. 

The point being, we’re not a little/tinpot/pub team of underdogs. We’re absolutely up here on merit and, with that early season wobble done, Thomas Frank is a hero to all. His players busting every sinew to bring home the points. Genuinely, I’ll be disappointed if we come back to Griffin Park empty handed today.

West Brom are awesome, no doubt. So are we. Romaine Sawyers may be in the form of his life (and that’s saying something by his already impressive standards) but so are Benrahma. Dasilva, Watkins. Bryan Mbeumo is improving game on game on game. It’s hard to think he is so young, such is the way he has set this division alight in the last few months.

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Bryan impressed early season and has just accelerated further

Today will be tough. No doubt. But today could be season defining. Win this and it’s going to make people really sit up and take notice. If they aren’t already. Flying under the radar is brilliant but you have to emerge at some point. Will it be this afternoon ? I’d love to be there to find out in person but, sadly, Christmas build up means it’s a case of prior engagements. Hats off to those who have persuaded the other half to give them the afternoon off or, better, go together to the Hawthorns.

Instead, my Bees last fix remains the one at the annual Junior Bees Christmas party on Monday. It was, as ever, the most wonderful event. The team spirit must be high – if only for Pontus getting away with wearing that seasonal jumper of his. Good man.

Peter Gilham was in his usual top form, going full ‘accidental Partridge’ at one point as he announced “And in The Hive, it’s scalectrix with Bryan Mbeumo and Julian Jeanvier”. Thomas Frank was talking to all comers on the forecourt whilst the rest of the squad were scattered around the various stalls and kids games. With the choir in fine voice, it really was the consummate example of why everyone involved in our club continue to make it the most incredible family to be a part of.

Thanks Peter. Thanks Matthew. Thanks everyone. Now lets go beat some Baggies…..

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Pontus gets in the Christmas spirit on Monday

Nick Bruzon

I missed a Columbo double bill for that…

23 Sep

What is there to say after a game that saw Brentford and Stoke City share the spoils from a 0-0 at Griffin Park? Well not much, and for no more reason that yours truly has been away this weekend so didn’t get a chance to see this one, barring via the medium of highlights. With the trip to Barnsley next up,  the ‘d’ word (disappointing’ rather than ‘deserved’, as in: to win) is the overall takeaway from this one after lining up against a team that had shipped 17 in their previous 7 league games. Instead of a form returning win against fragile looking opponents we had to be content with a draw. Let it never be said that Brentford aren’t generous hosts 😉 Yet when your own club start trolling themselves at full time, you know it’s one best consigned to the record books and, perhaps, in time we’ll remain grateful at keeping another clean sheet whilst actually climbing one place in the fledgling table.

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Says it all….

Brentford ‘official’ weren’t the only ones left feeling despondent after a game in which Stoke City had really been expected to roll over and die. As we’ve said so many times, play the 11 in front of you, not the reputation. These are still early days in what is always a long season. It was a trap even this numpty fell into, predicting a hat full of goals before kick  off. Instead, the reaction on Twitter was almost universal

Scott James Whittart:  @miniwhits5 Referee was shit, both teams were shit. Cannot even think of a highlight to be shown on TV tonight.

Emma Briden : @EmmaBfc90 At least we won on possession AGAIN 

Mick Cabble: @mickcabble There are good nil nils and this wasn’t one of them both teams deserved nothing and were lucky to get nil for this stinker of a game  Bees slow and dry in front of goal it was a painful watch 

Tweet of the day, and perhaps the best summary, goes to Oh Fuffuxake! : @TheChauffeur_  He noted that: I missed a Columbo double bill for that shit.

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Better than watching a turgid sounding stalemate

Bryneth Paltrow: @bryncurran God we were shite today – well, not  @WatfordFC shite – but shite nonetheless.

Scott James Whittart: @miniwhits5 Worst game of football I’ve seen in years!!

Met Police Brentford FC: @MPSBrentfordFC A game to forget for all spectators today at Griffin Park

Even ‘my good friend’ Ian Moose was present to offer his view on things although, not surprisingly, with no Neal Maupay to slag off they were more concerned with the state of Matthew Benham’s boardroom buffet (how did he get in?) rather than any real action.

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As ever, perspective is required. From both Henrik Dalsgaard but first another supporter,  TonyCross @Lokster71. He opines:  Honestly, today’s #BrentfordFC performance was pretty poor but the panic talk of relegation is nonsense. “Oh, but Stoke will get better.” And we won’t? I’m the worst pessimist when it comes to football, but this talk makes me look like an American sales guru.

As for the World Cup’s Dalsgaard, of Brentford :  ‘I know it’s hard for the fans to hear this but I think it’s a positive that we’re more solid defensively, and I know the attacking part is going to pick up.’

The highlights are below. They are worth a look, if only for the save from David Raya following what we will politely call a mix up between Rico Henry and Pontus Jansson left Peter Etebo bearing down on goal with just the ‘keeper to poke it past. Instead, Raya was quick off his line to smother the ball and keep the Bees in a game that neither side looked able to win. How they’ve padded these out to over two minutes is a wonder to match the Spaniard’s save.

Enjoy, if you can, but don’t panic. The season is young. The team are strong. This really is a marathon not a sprint and things will come together. Starting at Barnsley on Sunday.

 

Nick Bruzon

It’s all go in the Championship. Bee becomes a Robin and Derby prepare for historical change.

29 Jun

It’s all been kicking off in the Championship these last few days. Brentford have sold Daniel Bentley to league rivals Bristol City. A club who, as one source close to the club told me last night, “Are really going for it this season”. Elsewhere, there is more and more expectation that Frank Lampard’s Derby County will release their man to Chelsea. And Nottingham Forest sack Martin O’ Neill then replace him just 18 minutes later.

We can only start with the news about Daniel Bentley. He’s left Brentford for Bristol City in a fee that is thought to be at least £2million – certainly per the daily mail website, amongst others, so take that with whatever pinch of salt and disgust you need to apply first before searching it out. Presumably this will be with the usual add ons and clauses that we seem to make a matter of course as part of doing business. As we saw when Alfie Mawson joined Fulham from Swansea (prior to that, Barnsley), play it right and the money keeps on coming in.   

lSR2iBno

Noooo. My eyes. They’re  burning

Being honest, I don’t think this will come as a surprise to anybody in TW8. The club are long thought to have been on the hunt for a new goalkeeper whilst time on Dan’s own deal with us was starting to run out. Moreso given the number of uncharacteristic slips seen last season from a player who, I think, has the potential to go all the way to the top. Let’s not forget Dan is only 25 and had two absolutely cracking seasons between the sticks for Brentford after joining from Southend United when his contract had run down.

Director of football Phil Giles told official that, “As most fans will know, Dan had one year remaining on his contract. With that in mind it makes sense to sell now and reinvest the transfer fee. We have been planning ahead with regards to bringing a new goalkeeper to the club and hope to make some progress soon“.

Dan is a cracking aquisition for the Robins. Some of his shot stopping has been out of this world whilst as anybody who has had the pleasure of meeting him will know, he’s nothing but the consummate gentleman with all the time in the world for supporters – young and old alike.

It does also beg the question of whether Dan will now be obliged to make one of those awful Twitter ‘gifs’, just in case he scores. The things you do to avoid our own 2019/20 goalkeepers kit…

With City having also hoovered up England U-21 defender Jay Dasilva from Chelsea (who’d have thought it – the Stamford Bridge club selling on one of their youngsters rather than letting him breakthrough) and due to sign Sammie Szmodics from Colchester United when his contract expires on Monday, perhaps they are a team with promotion on the agenda?

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Dan inspiring the next generation

What this means for Luke Daniels, who knows. We already have Icelandic youth international Patrik Gunnarsson and England U-20 Ellery Balcombe as part of the B team set up whilst Phil’s talk of a new target surely means that something has to give. Surely? Let’s not forget that Patrik has already made a Brentford debut, coming on for Dan when we won up at Middlesbrough in the brown/orange (not a typo) back in March. As such, one would think that we’ll be looking towards youth and the future once more.

Then again, yours truly is just the numpty on the terrace with no real inside knowledge – as ever, let’s just wait and see what plays out. One thing you can be sure of is that the club know what they are doing. Our business over the last five or so years has shown that. Sure, we may get the odd Nick Proschwitz but the Neal Maupay and Said Benrahamas (amongst many, many) of this world show that more often than not we get it very right indeed,

Next up, Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™. Rams’ supporters are bracing themselves for the fact that their club may be about to undergo a radical rebranding with Chelsea in the hunt for their manager. Frank Lampard.

It is widely expected he’ll be taking over at Stamford Bridge this week, meaning all sorts of questions will be asked about what’s going to happen next. Primarily, the immediate logical step being one which will see the Pride Park outfit having to be renamed. At present, the hot favourite title in the frame is a simple ‘Derby County’ . This is a choice which will only be seen as a nice historical nod to their origins and one which may help appease fans, upset by the loss of a man who helped keep them in sixth place in the Championship after replacing Gary Rowett.

Certainly, as a founder member of the football league back in 1888, they were known by this shorter format. It is one the club enjoyed for a long period after that in a run that extended all the way up until Lampard’s arrival last year. Now, it would seem, the name Derby County is set to return once more.

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Was this the last appearance of Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™ at Griffin Park?

Nottingham Forest sack manager Martin O’Neill. Nottingham Forest replace Martin O’Neill just 18 minutes later, with former Rennes manager and French international Sabri Lamouchi taking over. Wow!! Although is it?

The trigger happy club, who had already seen a parting of the ways with Aitor Karanaka and his physical approach (who could forget the Griffin Park kick-fest?), have moved again. Reportedly as a result of dressing room disharmony. Being the numpty on etc etc I’m not close enough to know the ins and outs but a great source close to the City Ground (a friend on Twitter)  has shared this link from Daniel Taylor at The Guardian.

Its well worth a read, if only to show how lucky we are to have such positivity in our own dressing room. Likewise, what can happen when that all goes South. Thank goodness for the likes of Thomas Frank at the helm and our own recruitment approach.

Thomas Frank FT Preston

We’re lucky to have Thomas and the great morale he inspires.

And finally, as unsubtle as ever,  for things that may not be worth so much of a read (but are for a great cause).. 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 The Community Sports Trust anyway. Many thanks again. And enjoy.

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Nick Bruzon

Dear EFL…..For once, put the supporters first and sort this mess out. I dare you.

30 Apr

Come on EFL, sort this nonsense out. Now. The failure to rearrange the Bolton – Brentford game that you cancelled on Friday, with the season due to formally end this Sunday lunchtime, is nothing short of farcical. With Preston due to visit Griffin Park then, it is clear that it cannot take place prior. Instead, we are left in a situation where should a game occur it will be played in the dead zone between the campaign ending and the play-offs starting. A game that nobody wants at this juncture and which nobody will attend. Except, of course, it won’t happen. It is a complete slap in the face (and wallets) of the fans from both clubs aswell as the players – who are left in limbo rather than starting a well-earned holiday. It is a complete demonstration, once again, of the impotence of the footballing authorities when it comes to any sort of decision making process.

Waiting for the EFL to swing into action feels like that episode of The Simpsons when Bart and Skinner are repeatedly searching the night sky in a punishment related amateur astronomy lesson (as you do):

“Six hours nineteen minutes right ascension, fourteen degrees fifty-eight minutes declination……No sighting.

No Sighting.

No Sighting.”

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The EFL look for an answer with no success

There has been nothing. Nothing. No decision just to cancel the game and award us the three points by default. Not that we particular want that with Neal Maupay then denied a final chance to top the Championship goal scoring charts or The Bees missing out on trying to improve our patchy away record. As for Bolton, with the debacle going on there at a senior level, playing a pointless game (no pun intended) is probably the last thing on their minds. Yet, instead, we are all being taken for a ride on the EFL bullshit express. Supporters already out of pocket and likely to be even further so should the game somehow be arranged at a moment’s notice.

But no, I stand corrected. The EFL have done something in public. They have made… a statement. You can read this below

Discussions have continued with Bolton Wanderers, Brentford and other relevant parties throughout the course of the past 48 hours in regards to the rescheduling of last weekend’s Sky Bet Championship fixture. 

 There has been suggestions in the public domain that that the game could potentially take place on Wednesday 1 May 2019. However, Bolton Wanderers has not yet confirmed this will be the case and the EFL will advise via the appropriate channels as soon as a definitive decision is reached. 

 EFL Regulations do provide for any match to be played within four days of the end the normal playing season.

It is one of those which tells you precisely nothing. There is nothing here beyond hot air and waffle. No substance. No answers. No solution. No help. Instead, Thomas Frank doesn’t even know if he should be preparing Brentford for a game with Bolton or a game with Preston. Except he does, because there is no way on this earth that the Bolton game can or will happen. Sadly. And even if it did, what would the EFL do to help supporters? Why has it been left to Brentford to be the ones looking at means of compensating fans who had bought travel tickets and accommodation for Saturday’s no show?

Let’s be clear. Everybody sympathises with the Bolton players. There’s no gripe there. The lack of solution and the lack of help from anybody with the ability to make that call is what is proving to be the ‘challenge’. And that’s the polite word.

I don’t want the game called off for reasons as noted before. Yet given the calendar and the circumstances around this, with little time for either club to prepare an ‘after the lord mayor’s show’ team of players who would rather be on holiday. Of supporters having to find and fund travel to a game that would, surely, end up being played behind closed doors or in the face of a public protest at short notice. Of the complete farce that it would be should this somehow go ahead.

Just put everyone out of their misery now. Please.

Then use the summer to make an informed and considered decision about what, if any, action should be taken. Playing the game won’t keep Bolton up. It won’t propel Brentford to the play-offs. But it will draw a line under this whole sorry mess and put the clubs ,the players and most importantly  the fans out of their misery.

For once, put the supporters first. I dare you.

Bolton Wanderers v Brentford - Sky Bet Football League Championship

It’s just a load of big balls at the EFL and Bolton

 

Nick Bruzon  

Dream Team. Final Score. And the small matter of a London derby

19 Apr

Brentford travel to Millwall this lunchtime for a fixture that has everything to give. For the Lions, a mere two points separate them from the relegation places whilst the Bees will be looking to close in on another top ten finish. With Promotion chasing Leeds United due to visit on Monday, if that is an aspiration that Thomas Frank is serious about then three points today will be a must for the red and white (hopefully) machine. It will be a task made all the trickier with the news that Said Benrahama is out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury.  Devastating stuff for Bees’ fans but presumably (please….) nothing more than a precaution ahead of his, and our, final campaign at Griffin Park. Yet there’s as much to take out of today ‘off-pitch’ as well as on it, thanks to a surpise contender – West Ham United.

There’s not much can be said about Millwall that hasn’t been said before. Jellied eels. Cockles. The Den. ‘That’ walkout song which also doubles up as goal music – something which is already the most heinous of supporter inflicted tortures then made worse by that banjo filled gumph  . Violence. Racism. No-one likes us  etc etc etc . It’s fair to say that the club don’t have a great reputation, something made all the worse by playing in a breeze block stadium that visiting supporters are then kettled out of once the home fans have dissipated.

As such, you could perhaps be forgiven for giving this one a swerve today. Catching up via I-follow in the sunshine with a few cold ones and the barbecue cooking could be well up there on the list of more pleasurable options. Even better, catching up via BBC Radio London digital in the sunshine with a few cold ones and the barbecue cooking. There we have the pleasure of the dream-team of commentary – Phil Parry and Billy Reeves doing their thing from the seats above the Meridian Line. The programme starts at 12.30 ahead of the 13.00 kick off.

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Yet, as always, whatever the reasons not to go you can bet that we’ll be there en-masse. Easter bank holiday has that beautiful footballing double–header of the Lions and Leeds aswell as being one of the last chances to gorge on the beautiful game before the barren summer months. Besides, for yours truly Millwall has an additional reason for the annual pilgrimage. Dream Team. Not so much Billy and Phil but that much lamented Sky One thing.

I’ve spoken about it before on these pages and will no doubt do so many times again. But why wouldn’t you? It was magnificent. For all the wrong reasons. Running for ten series, the show was centred around the ongoing and progressively more outlandish events at fictional football club Harchester United. Combining real life stadia  – Millwall’s ‘New’ Den played host to the exterior shots in later series – and action (often Leicester City, Chelsea or Everton but with the contrast turned up to make their blue shirts look like Harchester’s purple) the show was as loved for its crazy plots as the frequent use of celebrity cameos. From Ron Atkinson to John Barnes, even one time Bee’s boss Steve Coppell had a go at channeling his inner Marlon Brando. It wasn’t good.

Yet perhaps the most famous of these actors was another former Bee (and member of our ‘top ten moustaches‘ club), Andy Ansah. Forget his later work on ‘Street Striker’ or numerous films and adverts though. For me his crowning glory was six series reciting variants of: ‘Get warmed up lads’ and ‘Alright, Gaffer?’ whilst playing himself, as the club’s first team coach.

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Dream Team – Fletch is sorely missed

The plots were riddled with more holes than our defence. Murder at the FA Cup final. The plane crash. The coach crash. The coach explosion at the Millennium Stadium. Goalkeeper Jamie Parker holding his team mates at gun point in the changing room. Liverpool (the real Liverpool) being linked in the papers with a £3.5 million swoop for Didier Baptiste back in 1999. Cue much egg on face when it transpired they weren’t actually bidding for a Monaco player but actually looking at a character from a TV show.

It was truly awful yet compellingly addictive. Sadly, the show was axed in 2007 yet many loyal fans still campaign for a return . Indeed, with Griffin Park around the corner from Sky HQ and a new stadium on the horizon in Lionel Road, then what better time to bring this back with a progressive club filling the role of the new Harchester? They’ve used Watford. They’ve used Millwall. They’ve even used Brentford (albeit as part of the May 2007 Open Day when a Harchester United team played the Community Sports Trust at Griffin Park.

How about Brentford doing it again – for real ? If any show deserves a reboot, then Dream Team must be top of the list. If it worked for Doctor Who and Dallas then imagine what could be done now. Come on Sky, the world of football demands it.

If nothing else, the 2018 film ‘Final Score’ shows the appetite for terrible football drama combined with stadium movies remains alive and kicking.  If you haven’t seen it as yet then please do. The Independent described it as “The most preposterous film of the year”. Things are bad when a movie doesn’t even go ‘straight to video’ but instead, ‘straight to sky movies’. Albeit, with a supposedly simultaneous big-screen release.

For those who may not be aware, season 2015/16 saw West Ham leave The Boleyn Ground (as the media insisted on calling a stadium they had only ever previously referred to as Upton Park) in a departure that was very much ‘blink and you’ll miss it’. I think it got the odd mention on Sky Sports over the campaign but don’t quote me on that. The denouement of their protracted exit saw supporters thinking demolition work had started early as a series of explosions ripped through the old ground back in June 2016. Infact, this turned out to be the filming of something I had promptly forgotten about until the aforementioned tweet crossed my social media stream.

Oh, my. Preposterous doesn’t even begin to touch the sides on this one. When it was released, Mrs. Bruzon and myself took the first opportunity to watch this shocker about a terrorist hostage-taking at The Boleyn Ground. A name they must have mentioned about a dozen times in the first half hour, in case anybody was in any doubt. All this happens in secret (don’t ask) and whilst West Ham are taking part in a European Cup semi-final against Russian outfit Dynamo FC. Count the number of things wrong in that last sentence alone. All the while, the hostage takers are searching out Pierce Brosnan, whose East European accent was even dodgier than his beard, whilst Drax from Guardians Of The Galaxy attempts to save both the day and the annoying daughter of a former army comrade whose death he feels responsible for.

This REALLY happened.

It was incredible. So truly bad it crossed to the other side and became unintentional comedy gold. Equal parts Nicolas Cage (if only he’d been available) and Sean Bean’s ‘When Saturday Comes’ with a decent dollop of Dream Team on top.

If it worked for West Ham and Pierce than how about resuscitating the corpse of Dream Team. Come on Sky. Come on TV Producers. Come on Andy. Oh, and come on Brentford. Great though it is to visit the home of Harchester united, six points from Millwall and Leeds United would make this a quite wonderful Easter weekend.

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Final Score – if Dream Team ever reached the big screen

Nick Bruzon

Don’t let patchy away form mask longer term potential. Are we preparing for take off?

14 Apr

There’s not much to say about the result, really. Let’s look at the positives. Another goal for Neal Maupay. Another chance for Brentford to make the short trip to Reading next season. Who knows how important it may be to have the 2000+ fans we’ll take to the Madjeski rather than the 500+ we’d likely take to a Wigan Athletic or Rotherham United, for example. That is, assuming of course, that there are no further twists in a Championship race that is reaching an intriguing denouement. Likewise, and we spoke about this yesterday, the position of Charlton Athletic was further strengthened on a Saturday that saw them record a handsome victory over all but promoted Luton Town in League One. With even Millwall hanging in there via a last gasp equaliser at Bramall Lane, our final season at Griffin Park looks like it could have all the makings of a campaign that is played out very close to home.

Ruddy hell, even QPR won yesterday (not a typo) as did Fulham (not a typo). For the former, Championship football is all but a mathematical formality whilst the Cottagers have already been plugging the likes of Stoke, Swansea and Preston into the sat-nav following their rapid demotion from the top flight. And, of course, Brentford. See you next season, chaps. Whilst it would be trite to ignore our own blip in form that has seen the campaign very much decelerating to a gentle halt after briefly teasing a stab at the top six, the focus surely has to be about looking forward.

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See you next season…..

Thomas Frank alluded to this in his own post match press conference. Trying to pluck positives from a 2-1 defeat at Reading, he praised our second half improvement whilst making his intentions clear. “We now have four games left and we need to do everything we can to get 12 points. That’s the aim.” With trips to Millwall and Bolton aswell as visits from Leeds and Preston to come, it’s still possible. With the exception of the Leeds match, you’d bet on victory for the Bees in each of those. Theoretically. Of course Marcelo Bielsa is going to be about as formidable an opponent as they come but we’ve had home advantage over Leeds United in recent seasons and with our visitors having the added pressure of a promotion shoot out (3 into 2 just won’t go) to contend with, who knows what could happen in that one.

Ultimately, it counts for nothing in the short term beyond the mathematical nicety of ending the season as high as we can and increased prize money.  Of course finishing in the top ten once more will be a tremendous notch on the progress chart of Matthew Benham and his directors of football. We’ve done it in the previous four seasons and that must be the final objective for this campaign.  Whether we make it it or not won’t really change what comes next though. Whatever that is. And therein lie the biggest questions as to life at Brentford. With Season Ticket sales racing ahead of previous levels, the fans are already well up for 2019/20. Whatever that brings. 

Will there be more sales? More accumulation of untapped talent that has served us so very well in recent years? For all the derision and scorn poured at Brentford over the years as we moved away from traditional management and scouting techniques, the acquisitions and subsequent sales have more than proven we are on to something. Now, with Lionel Road on the horizon, might the top brass be tempted to ‘stick’ for a season rather than twist? The likes of Daniel Bentley and Yoann Barbet are already amongst those presumed to be on their last knockings. Sadly. Josh McEachran is who knows where (mini golf course?) whilst Ollie, Neal and Said are a holy trinity of players very much coveting some admiring glances from the wider footballing wolrd. That’s before you even factor in Dean Smith. With Aston Villa well set for a play-off push this time around, could he be thinking about using the Villa Park cheque book? Regardless of how that attempt turns out? 

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Whatever else happens, we’ll always have this

For all the paper talk, gossip and click bait nobody actually has a clue what is going to happen. Beyond Mr. Benham and his inner circle. One thing he has done consistently is surprise us all. Flip, we don’t even know what next season’s kit is going to look like or who will be replacing Adidas? How on earth are we meant to be able to figure out a recruitment strategy that has always been played very close to the chest when we don’t even know the colour of the shirt.

Just because we have sold when the price is right in the past, doesn’t mean we’ll do so again when there’s a new stadium on the horizon. How incredible would it be to start life at Lionel Road in the top flight. To make those “Bees up, Fulham down” chants a reality once more.

The fact we’re even having this conversation is ridiculous enough. In the nicest sense possible. That some fans were losing their heads as Autumn turned to Winter because we’d embarked on a bad run of Championship form. Three months later we were talking about play-off potential. That’s life at Griffin Park though. After years of underwhelming performance on the field of play (albeit a whole load of fun off it) we’re now well established. The kids don’t know they’re born.

I apologise for going all ‘during the war’ but some of those league one / two (or equivalent) campaigns over the years have been hard work from a footballing perspective. Some of the players we’ve had plying their trade, whilst full of commitment, did make you wonder just ‘how’ in retrospect. But that’s the level we had to operate at then. This is the quite wonderful scenario we are in now. Where success and victory is the expectation. Multi-million pound players , and sales, are the norm. Even if carried out within a very controlled environment. Nobody wants another Birmingham City or QPR…. 

So we lost to Reading yesterday. Bugger. Away form has been a challenge this time around, certainly compared to previous seasons at this level. There almost seems to be an acceptance amongst fans that we’re weak away from home. Which is not to have a pop at our supporters who have been consistently magnificent on the road . More, that the inability to consistently channel home performances into similar on our travels is perhaps the biggest frustration of all.

Then again, we won at Middlesbrough this season. If we can do that, and if we can hold on to this squad, then who knows what could happen next time around? Either way, I can’t wait. Once we’ve got the small matter of those final four games out of the way. How wonderful will it be to head into the summer holidays smiling, with the prospect of more to come…..

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Despite all the unknowns about next season, it’s a safe bet the Jaffa cake will be retired. Sadly.

Nick Bruzon 

Of course the football is interesting but what about the other matter…?

10 Apr

Sure, Liverpool and Spurs may have both recorded Champions League victories last night (Porto and Man City respectively) . There’s the potentially intriguing visit of Barcelona to Old Trafford where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team will continue their post-Mourinho resurgence. Manchester United playing with the shackles off once more  – (c) the entire internet. So whilst one could be forgiven for thinking that this week may have been all about the Champions’ League, those focussing on Europe have missed what is, without a doubt, the BIG one. A clash between two of football’s top clubs with a prize bigger than silverware at stake – namely, Championship survival. Forget the UCL, Wednesday evening sees Brentford play host to Ipswich Town.

This is the game that has it all. There’s the return of Alan Judge to Griffin Park. The chance for Thomas Frank and his own boys to get back to winning ways. Biggest of all, Ipswich Town will be relegated should Brentford record the win and the three teams sitting directly above the relegation trapdoor (Reading, Millwall and Wigan) all pick up three points themselves. Even if not tonight, surely it will only be a matter of time before the Tractor Boys find themselves ploughing a lone furrow into League One.    

What else is thee to say about this one? Not much, really. For Brentford, top ten is about as much as we can hope for now. A disappointing run of recent results following that magnificent surge which began just prior to Christmas have seen the slim dream of the play-offs evaporate. Yet by the same virtue, Saturday’s game against Derby County saw us at our attacking best (and defensive worst). No doubt Thomas will be hoping to pick up where we left off in a game that saw us somewhat unfortunate not to end it with all three points whilst the visitors can count heir own blessing that they ended it with all eleven players.

Top ten for a fifth successive season would still be a wonderful achievement. We have a team with an attacking set up to die for. Indeed, it has been the form on the road  – which could be described as patchy at best – that has been our achilles heel this time around. Even yours truly has finally consigned the brown/orange colours to the draw for retired kit. Magnificent though it sill is, even I can tell when the battle is over. Here’s hoping for more change next season.

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All good things come to an end

If nothing else, there’s the mystery of who takes over as kit supplier with our Adidas deal finally set to expire. I’ve heard everybody from Hummel, Puma, Nike, Umbro, New Balance and beyond chucked into the mix. For now, nobody outside the club inner circle knows who it will be and nobody is revealing. Although if Mr. Benham or Kitman Bob are reading (unlikely, let’s be honest) and would like to share the news early then that would be welcomed by all. 

Then again, with Mark Devlin now plying his trade at Dundalk it poses a further question. And not the one of whether chief executives would even ply their trade or if another phrase should be used? With a new team at the top, could this spell an end to the late-summer drip release of the new kit via the chief executive’s proverbial strip tease? We’re normally well behind the other clubs in the annual beauty pageant as the guessing games go on well into the close/closed season. If Jon Varney is reading (unlikely, let’s be honest) then how about bucking the trend? How about going early? How about starting his tenure with about as big a mission statement as one could ask a chief-executive to make?

Come on Jon, get your kits out! 

2011 kit launch bathwise

Could anything top the 2011 away shirt launch in a bathroom shop window?

Nick Bruzon