Tag Archives: Lee Carsley

Bees have to settle for another point as Birmingham lose (but win the sack race).

17 Sep

Brentford 1 Reading 1. Eight league games down and the Bees still to register a win. Yet a point was, at the least, sufficient to take us above a Birmingham City side who lost their sixth successive game and consequently sacked manager Harry Redknapp. Oh please, stop sniggering. And with basement club Bolton Wanderers losing again, it puts even more significance on our own trip to the Macron this Saturday.

What can you say about our own performance at Griffin Park? Well, the first half was as good as the second was poor whilst referee Tony Harrington had a stinker. It’s a shame that the highlights now available on Sky don’t show either of the two seemingly nailed on penalties denied the Bees – Romaine Sayers in the first half and Neal Maupay in the second. Gut reaction to both was that a spot kick should have been awarded but, instead, he ruled in favour of Reading.

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Reading were the latest visitors to Griffin Park

As for their penalty to equalise Josh Clarke’s sublime opener, it was about as soft as they come. Rico Henry alleged to have shoved Tyler Blackett as a free kick drifted past and into touch. The Reading man pulling off a Norman Wisdom pratt fall to fool the ref and present his team the chance to level things up. It was a chance that was gratefully accepted.

But again, we’re hanging on arbitrary moments of refereeing indecision. The game should have been put to bed long before that. The Bess dominated and the goal from man of the match Josh no more than our pressure and play deserved. An exchange of passes with Neal Maupay in the box saw him fire home from a tight angle with defenders bearing down.

At the risk of cracking out the ‘déjà vu’ line once more, this is exactly what we got. Tons of possession. Tons of pressure and despite a first half lead (Reading still remain the only Championship club not to get a goal in the opening 45) there was a sense of the inevitable about what came next.

Whilst Jaap Stam read his team the riot act, Dean Smith seemed to have read his a bedtime story. Talk about the game of two halves. The pressure game disappeared and instead we seemed content to try and contain. To be fair, this was working ok until the ref intervened. And at that point you then pay the price for not killing it off.

Dean would later lambast Mr Harrington and his officials to the BBC, telling them that: ”Two of our boys have been tackled from behind and we get nothing”. “Three of their players were already on bookings and some of the tackles were just allowed to go on. All we are asking for is consistency. I didn’t think the referee was very good today”. “We are talking about five big decisions and only one has been given and that can’t be right at this level with professional officials”.

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The Bees had to rely on themselves rather than the officials

Fair enough and true enough. But it goes back to the same old adage about taking chances when they present themselves. Yet again there seemed this endless desire to pass it across the face of the box and walk it into the net when just shooting would have been the order of the day.

Here are three more quotes for you.

7(seven) year old supporter Felix Watts summarising at full time : “The only thing we had to do today was shoot. Really quickly. When they were in the penalty box at Griffin Park all we had to do was shoot but we kept passing it.

Fulham manger Slavisa Jokanovic after his team’s midweek 2-1 win over Hull City: “You cannot create 100 chances before scoring. You must be clinical and show more quality…..This is a similar story (to other games this season), we are dominating. I was worried and it was not a healthy game for us and our supporters.

Dean Smith (in an article you can read in full on ‘official’) : “We are eight games in and I haven’t seen a team that is better than us so far. I feel we were on a par with Wolverhampton Wanderers, who are a really good team, but we are still waiting for our first win.”

I’ll leave it to you as to who is talking most sense at this point.

Genuinely, I feel for Dean. His team aren’t getting the breaks. Reading had only two chances of note and took one. His team WAS denied by a referee set to ‘random’. At least he has said his piece on that, no matter what retribution may follow.  Watching from the stands, it was infuriating how many decisions seemed to go the wrong way. Having now seen the full highlights (below) with the mid-day curfew having been met, the non-penalties look even worse. The foul on Romaine especially whilst the decision to penalise Mauapy at the end one I’m still struggling with.

One can symapthise with Dean over the refereeing performance

But at the same time the malaise and self-pity now seems infectious. The second half performance was just phoned in with little attempt to change formation or tactics and we paid the ultimate price.

Did the Bees deserve to win? Probably. Dean can count himself very hard done by. Yet by the same virtue results have to be earned. Stats, possession and percentages count for naff all compared to balls in the net. We are only eight games in but if we are talking stats then an average of 0.5 points per game is not the mark of a team better than the third of the division we’ve already played.

Still, let’s look positive. We’ve received £12million from Birmingham City (going on the figures quoted in Ben Burgess’ programme column) for three players who are yet to pick up a point. The Blues lost again – that’s all three since they concluded their transfer business – and Harry has now been shown the door at St. Andrews following his team’s 1-3 home defeat to Preston. Hey, at least they got their first goal since the window slammed shut.

“Another rebuild. More turmoil after bringing in all those players. No time to gel. #Crazy. #JustCrazy”. Not my words but those of BBC roving reporter Clem on Twitter as the news broke of this and two other sackings yesterday as Chesterfield and Port Vale also pulled the plug.

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Clem’s gut reaction says it all

This, some something he would later change to: Horrible run. But is this chopping & Changing really workable? 

Sadly, I fear it is . In this instance.

Birmingham City have now slid beneath The Bees with only Bolton Wanderers keeping the pair of us off the bottom. The same Bolton Wanderers we travel to on Saturday. However, the Blues moved quickly  with Lee Carsley taking temporary charge at St.Andrews. We all know what he can do and you can bet your bottom dollar that he’ll get them firing quicker than you can say ‘transfer window.’

Lee more than steadied the ship at Griffin Park after the woeful Marinus experiment came to an end, even scooping the October 2015 manager of the month award. There were many who hoped he would stay on full time although that was something never in his scope, a point that was made clear from the off. But now Birmingham have the opportunity to benefit from a similar stint – presumably until Steve Bruce becomes available soon.

Lee will no doubt re-inject some vitality and confidence into Birmingham City. The big question is whether Dean can do the same to his ‘unlucky’ Bees before the chance to nail Bolton to the bottom presents itself on Saturday.

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A point sees the Bees rise above big spending Birmingham

Nick Bruzon

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I’m glad I support Brentford rather than one big fish in a rapidly stagnating pond. And Dean speaks

5 Jul

Football is slowly waking up. This time last year, we were talking about Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar beating Celtic 1-0 in the Champions League qualifiers. Quite possibly the most embarrassing results in Scottish football history (to add to an already long list) yet last night they were equalled by fellow Glasgow side Rangers when the fourth best team in Luxembourg, part timers Progrès Niederkorn, knocked them out of Europe. And closer to home, Brentford boss Dean Smith has been up in front of the Sky sports cameras.

Ordinarily these pages wouldn’t look at the Scottish game but Rangers have held a bit of a fascination in recent years, given the circumstances which saw former Brentford boss Mark Warburton both join and leave the Ibrox club. “You walk around the stadium, the first time for me this morning, and you smell the history” he said upon becoming their manager in June 2015.

I’m sure this morning they’ll be smelling something rather different North of the border and Warbs will be very pleased with his decision to resign prior to joining Nottingham Forest. Internet bookmaker PaddyPower have already declared Celtic as league Champions prior to a ball being kicked although, to be fair, most bookies have them as 1/9 on at best to lift that particular silverware.

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Other bookmakers are also available

For all the ongoing talk about these two ‘giants’ of Scottish football joining the English Premier League, the totally one sided nature of their domestic league along with results such as those against Progrès or Lincoln show how out of touch they sadly are these days. A point made all the more apparent as after limping past the Gibraltarians last season, Celtic then endured complete capitulation in the group stages, failing to reach the Europa League whilst also suffering a 7(seven) goal bracketing.

Winning at home is nice, but to watch such consistently uncompetitive football must become a somewhat soul destroying affair. Where’s the genuine competition? Where’s the excitement? What’s the point when you win your league by a country mile or get kicked off the park the moment the competition hots up a bit. With your closest historical rival a shadow of their former selves, it really gives off the impression of going through the motions. Give me the Championship any day of the week.

Which is why the return to our own league campaign cannot come soon enough. Nobody could claim this division is one sided. Anything but, with Newcastle United’s title win going right down to the wire last season whilst Brentford have claimed more than their fair share of illustrious scalps over the last three campaigns. Three top ten finishes have surprised more than a few people outside of TW8 (most notably Ian Holloway) and I’m desperate for us to give this division another try.

The good news is that the Bees are now back in training and yesterday, ‘official’ released a video of head coach Dean Smith talking to Sky Sports News.

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Dean Smith spoke to Sky

In the interview, which you can see below, Dean sounds über positive. He talks about having had lots of fresh ideas and sharing our own sentiments that its good to be back after a long break. He has confirmed his top six aspirations along with a desire to keep hold of last seasons squad. Moreso given our strong finish to the campaign.

Then, somewhat randomly, the interview changes tack with the second half being taken up with a discourse on penalties. The recent England – Germany U-21 game. Dean Smith’s philosophy on penalty taking. As a player and as a head coach. It went on. I was half expecting him to be quizzed on Marcello Trotta.

A shame really,, as this was a somewhat wasted opportunity from Sky to dig into our plans, our set up and mindset. To find out how Dean has continued the great work already done by Warbs, Lee Carsley and, of course, the team behind the team.

A missed opportunity?

Then again, I’m more than happy being the underdog. Being that unfancied, under the radar team. Catching the likes of Leeds United, Derby County, Aston Villa, Mr Holloway et al with their pants down.

Nobody can deny the likes of Rangers and Celtic have huge stadiums, even bigger fan bases and plenty of historical honours. Likewise that Griffin Park is still only a 12,000 capacity ground with a trophy cabinet that is emptier than Arsenal’s.

But who wants to be the one big fish in a rapidly stagnating pond of tadpoles? A fish that gets gobbled up the moment any invasive species appears from the continent. The Championship, and beyond, is where it’s all at. Where the real action happens. Where real football takes place.

It’s July 5th. This time next month proceedings begin in anger with out trip to Sheffield United. I really cannot wait. It promises to be even bigger and better than ever before.

Nick Bruzon

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Where’s Billy when you need him?

1 Dec

Brentford head into Saturday’s game with Norwich City on the back of three successive defeats and only one win out of the last 8 games. That recent hat-trick of ’nil points’ against Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City has only intensified scrutiny on Dean Smith with supporters starting to ask where the next win is going to come from. This is probably not how Dean envisaged his one year anniversary at Griffin Park (which the club announced on Twitter yesterday) and so it will be very interesting to hear what the press ask him today.

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Dean Smith at the start of this season

Here’s hoping they ask some hard hitting questions, for once. Less money for old rope and more action would be nice. With the king of gentle probing Billy Reeves currently out of action until the end of the year, there’s been nobody to really step up and fill his boots in recent weeks.

Ahh, Billy. The deadly assassin. Practiced in the dark art of asking that killer ‘to the point’ question, albeit delivered in the most charming and almost apologetic of styles, I’d love to know what he would put to Dean at the moment in regards to the current run and his approach to the game with Norwich City. Can anybody pick up the gauntlet?

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So Uwe. Stevenage…..?

Nobody could pretend we’re not displaying anti-form at the moment, certainly result wise. Is it as simple as just needing that little twist of fate; for something to go our way? Certainly we had the lion’s share of possession and chances against Birmingham – just couldn’t quite put more than one of them away for well documented reasons. Or is it more down to his team selection and substitution strategy  – the later of which has seemed dreadfully late, reactive and decided using a roulette wheel in recent weeks?

Being more down to earth, are the team just finding their level in the Championship this season? We’ve been wonderful at times; awful at others. The table doesn’t lie and so he (and we) can have no complaints with 16th based on what we’ve seen. The questions are now – Dean, what are you going to do about it? When are we next going to win a game?

I saw a comment on Twitter last night in regards to the aforementioned one year anniversary. Official highlighted his win ratio and a reply was posted comparing him to previous managers.

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Whilst not strictly true – who could forget the Marinus experiment – further investigation via the medium of our most recent result records at Soccerbase.com has revealed this isn’t too far off the mark. Looking at managers who have been in charge over the last 10 calendar years – so starting with Martin Allen who left at the end of the 2005/06 season – the ranking for all those occupying in the Griffin Park hot seat, including caretakers  is as follows :

51.28%  Mark Warburton (41 wins out of 78 games)

50% Lee Carsley (5 out of 10)

43.79 % Uwe Rösler (60 out of 137)

43.55% Martin Allen (54 out of 124)

42.85% Nicky Forster (9 out of 21)

38.1% Andy Scott (64 out of 168)

36.73% Dean Smith (18 out of 49)

25% Barry Quinn (1 out of 4)

22.22 % Marinus Dijkhuizen (2 out of 9)

21.74% Terry Butcher (5 out of 23)

16.67% Scott Fitzgerald (4 out of 24)

13.04% Leroy Rosenior (3 out of 23)

0% Alan Kernaghan (0 out of 1)

So no surprises up at the top and one which will no doubt have many asking the eternal question – why? That’s been and done. Much like Jota, Stuart Dallas, Moses Odubajo, Andre Gray, James Tarkowski (well perhaps not) et al, crying over it isn’t going to bring him, or any former fan favourite back to Griffin Park . Is it?

Besides, I’m more interested in the ‘here and now’. Discussing the win ratios with one New Road observer last night, he has pointed out something which stacks up far more interestingly than overall career percentages. Recent form. Look at the result records in Marinus’ last 9 games and Dean’s most recent over the same period…..

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Marinus form

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Dean Smith form

Matthew Benham doesn’t strike me as the trigger happy sort so those calling for a change (there are some, apparently) would probably be better putting their energies elsewhere.  From what we’ve been told, the Marinus experiment ended because of more than just results. Yet at the same time those of us on the sidelines only have results to go on. And at present they aren’t great.

If Dean was ever going to give an invigorating press conference, then today would be a good day. If Brentford were ever going to get back to wining ways, then Saturday against a Norwich City team whose current form read: LLLLL, would be the perfect time.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Come on Dean – let’s see what you’ve got.

Come on you Beeeeesss!!

Nick Bruzon

 

Ready. Steady. Go again…

6 Aug

Here we go. The Championship has begun. Brentford travel to Huddersfield Town today, knowing that Fulham already top the fledgling table after their 1-0 televised win over Newcastle United last night. Enjoy those previous few hours lads, they won’t last…

With months of anticipation almost at an end, just what can we expect? Let’s be honest, for us Bees supporters last season was one of giddy highs and sickening lows. We were either awesome or awful. Whilst a final position of 9th was well deserved, it was certainly ‘interesting’ getting there.

As we turned the year, having somehow got through the Marinus experiment, pitch-gate and the horror show that was ‘Football League Tonight’ (never forget how it started), there was a genuine belief we might emulate the previous campaign’s feat of reaching the play offs.

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

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

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

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We didn’t have the best start to 2015/16

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Scott’s Hogan returned against Blackburn and from there….

Nick Bruzon

Bees hoping for a Bristol double as Bob has something for the fans

16 Apr

Game on. We’re back to match day at Griffin Park with Brentford looking to make it four wins in a row when we welcome Bristol City on Saturday afternoon. Elsewhere in the Championship, we’ll also take a very brief look at last night’s result where Brighton’s thrashing of Fulham gives Big Bee Radio the chance to score some cheap points before 3pm. And, of course, Kitman Bob Oteng has the final BBGiveaway of the campaign – not Alan McCormack’s black pants (I’ve seen them requested) but something very special.

First up though, Bristol City. Let me take you back to the summer….

The pitch had collapsed, Marinus was in charge, Andreas Bjelland had suffered that horrendous injury in the Oxford United fiasco, Andre Gray was just about still a Bee whilst Stuart Dallas, Moses Odubajo and Will Grigg had all departed for 7(seven) figure sums. Jonathan Douglas too, for nothing.

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The Oxford United fiasco (not a prog rock band)

Yet despite all this, our opening away game of the League campaign saw the Bees beat Bristol City 4-2 and make it 4 points out of 6. Might we actually get away with the sales and parting company with Mark Warburton over the summer? Could this be a continuation of form rather than a longer term remodelling exercise under the much maligned ’statistical model’?

‘No’ was the subsequent and emphatic answer. Andre’s goal was his last in the red and white stripes before the inevitable sale to Burnley took place whilst Marinus was gone by the middle of September as performances and form took a sharp downturn.

But we mention this just to show how things can change. Bristol City away, whilst only two games in, marks a point where I really thought we might have the potential to match the incredible heights of last season. We were third in the fledgling table with only Brighton and Middlesbrough above us (and look where they are now). It was a psychological high point before it all came back down to earth with a bump.

That win at Ashton Gate was followed by a 1-0 defeat at Burnley where we saw more of our new ‘style’ – these pages described it as “so obsessed with passing the ball backwards and sideways between the defence and goalkeeper, it is no wonder the stats showed such high pass completion or 62% possession.

Lee Carsley returned some much needed confidence and pride to the Bees as this team found their feet. His decision to step away was sad, though respected, and Dean Smith has come in since that point. A positive beginning (oh, those Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos goals at Reading) saw that awful run at the start of 2016, not to mention the additional challenge of dealing with the Tarkowski affair. Despite this, recent form has restored a lot of the Buzz around Griffin Park.

We are safe in the Championship for a third successive season as a result of those 9 points and 9 goals from our last three games. Lasse Vibe has found his scoring boots to shoot up the Championship charts whilst the Bees are within three points of the Loftus Road mob  – with a game in hand (at Hull).

Can we make it 4 in a row today? Will the Bees make it a pair of Bristol’s ? 6 points and a double would be a rare achievement in this most up and down of campaigns.

How will we go without Alan Judge? Does Nico Yennaris, reinvented as a goal scoring midfielder, walk back into the team? Has John Swift’s gash healed?

Questions, questions questions! As ever, I can’t answer them. I can make an educated guess of: Yes, yes, we’ll cope today (although it will be sadly), yes and ‘it’s irrelevant as he won’t start’. However, I’m just the numpty on the terrace so don’t take any notice of any prediction from these quarters.

Instead, here’s to 3pm when we find out.

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View from the Braemar – how will the Bees go without Alan Judge?

Ok – Fulham. There were tears in the Bruzon household last night. Of laughter. These, as they went down 5-0 to promotion chasing Brighton. The top of the table remains of supreme interest as Middlesbrough, Burnley and the Seagulls continue to match each other blow for blow. If you you thought the final day last time out was tense, this could really match it with Boro’ hosting Brighton in the final game of the season.

Good luck to them. I’m more concerned with matters at Griffin Park. Our one decent hashtag is back today – #BeeTheDJ. Just contact @BrentfordFC on twitter with your choice of pre-match music. If you are lucky, you’ll get to hear it played before kick off.

Could I ask for this – one of the greatest TV theme tunes of all time. In honour of our West London rivals. Failing that, how about we just pick it for our ‘walkout’ music on April 30th….

If we get to 5, it is the only time I would tolerate goal music

And finally, Kitman Bob is back. It’s his final BBGIVEAWAY of the season. Despite the highs and lows we’ve experienced onfield this campaign, our kitman’s twitter competitions have provided a constant source of enjoyment and genuine pleasure to supporters.

What other club would do this for their fans? It’s easy to criticise when things go wrong but absolute kudos to all the team behind the team for all the great work they do. And these competitions have been right up there. Not just the prizes but Bob’s interaction with the fans, too.

So what do we have today? Well, at the time of writing it remains a mystery. All we have to go on so far is Bob’s promise that its going to be special.

For the last time this time around, get following and get predicting from 8am.

Enjoy. And Bob, thank you !

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More brilliance from Bob

Nick Bruzon

Bees, Bolton, Rangers and Warbs all on the brink

4 Apr

There will no doubt be plenty to talk about over the next few days with Brentford and Bolton both knowing a lot more about where our respective clubs will be next season following Tuesday night’s clash at Griffin Park. Yet that same evening many of us will likely have a fair bit of interest North of the border where Mark Warburton is, for the second successive season, on the brink of taking his team into the Premier League. This time though, it will be his Rangers side rather than our beloved Bees.

For us,  the weekend results have all but (officially) doomed Wanderers. The end to both their Championship status and our relegation fears could come at full time should the Bees make it two wins in a row.  It won’t be easy of course. Brentford’s position is by no means a false one (tables don’t lie) and indicative of a sub-par 2015/16. Of course the reasons for that are numerous and have been well documented – although the answers as to whether there have been more rights or wrongs this campaign remain to be seen.

Indeed, despite the huge disappointment felt as Mark Warburton and Matthew Benham parted company after coming ‘so close’ (do Brentford ever do anything but ‘so close’?) is it fair to even call this campaign ‘sub-par’?

Well, only after our fate is assured either way will we be able to answer that question fully but whichever way you look at it, glass half-empty or half-full, to be facing the prospect of this third season in the Championship can only be viewed as a stunning positive.

And yes, I know I’ve made this point a lot in recent weeks but it is needs to be acknowledged. Cripes, we’ve spent enough time analysing all the frustrations, problems and ‘if onlys’ that have got us to this point. Safety first, please, and then we can properly take stock of all that has happened. And all that might have had we not switched models.

We all loved Warbs. To see him and Rangers storming it in Scotland hurts, but not in a bad way. Not like ‘that penalty’, Ray Biggar or any of our play-off campaigns. It is great to see Warbs continuing his success and is something I can only wish him well on.

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Warbs – in there, somewhere. The day of ‘Village-gate’

With the greatest of respect to Marinus, Lee Carsley and Dean Smith, I’d love to have seen Warbs able to stay on at Griffin Park. That’s not a dig any any of the candidates who came next but, simply, me wondering where we would have been had this most loved of men (and potentially more than just a handful of his squad) been here still. Yes, there were things he might have done differently but to finish fifth in your first full season managing, in the Championship, after getting us promoted from the First Division, is the sort of stuff you could write a book about or two…. (hey, if I can’t be unsubtle in my own blog then when can I?)

Instead we can only wish him well for Tuesday night as Rangers host Dumbarton, standing on the brink of a return to the Scottish Premiership. Warbs left with an incredible reputation as a debutant manager yet also as a man who carried himself with dignity in some very trying times.

Of course, my head and heart will be at Griffin Park hoping we can secure another win that will put us in a position we’d have taken with arms wide open three or four years ago. Yet, at the same time, I’ll have half an ear pressed to the terrace tranny, wondering if Mark can continue the fantastic start to his managerial career.

Good luck Mark. There’ll be thousands down here wishing you well.

As a final thought, and totally unrelated, who remembers the Brentford FC phone card? For that matter, who remembers phone cards full stop? Given these days of mobile phones, it seems crazy to think we’d even use call boxes or have pre-loaded ‘credit’ cards to allow us to make phone calls when on the move.

But we did. 1990 seems like only five minutes ago to me and, back then, Third Division Brentford were at the heart of the ‘mobile’ revolution. Digging through the back of the cupboard this morning I’ve stumbled across a few old membership packs – how I wish we could bring back the ‘funky bee’ in some form – and our own venture into the ‘phone card’ market.

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Back then, it was all about the Funky Bee

Mercury didn’t last that long. Having the card was great. Having a Mercury phone to put it into was an altogether different prospect. But stumbling across this has brought back some fond memories. If nothing else, just seeing popular club physio Roy Clare as part of this squad.

We’ve come a long way since those days. Mostly down but, now the Bees are back on the rise once more, I’m desperate to see us carry on our climb to new success.

Here’s to three more points on Tuesday night and then we can, barring disasters, start to make some plans for the biggest Championship season yet.

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ET phone home? Not with a Mercurycard

Nick Bruzon 

 

Do we really want Griffin Park to become Jurassic Park?

21 Mar

Are Brentford on social media lockdown after #SwiftHipstergate overshadowed the post match press conference following the Blackburn?

And no, that’s not a typo but at present we can all take subsequent use of the word ‘debacle’ as a given.

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John Swift wasn’t smiling (or a hipster) after Dean swung the disciplinary axe

None of the usual suspects have tweeted anything football related, let alone gone again. Whatever your thoughts on that most awkward of phrases, the use of Twitter and Instgram (amongst other mediums) provides a valuable insight into squad morale and feeling. Both good and bad. Yet there has been nothing out of Harlee, Sergi, Sam, or Nico since the loss to Blackburn.

Has Dean Smith ordered a clampdown to try and maintain some semblance of control? Are the players taking a deliberate step back given the oxygen of publicity breathed into the situation by our head coach after he walked straight into Billy’s gentle probing with a very honest answer to Swift’s absence? Or is there nothing more to this than an overactive imagination from yours truly?

Personally speaking I think that although pushed into a corner from one respect, Dean has made the wrong decision here. Swift shouldn’t have started against Blackburn simply for the performance, or lack of, in the QPR game. But to then limit your bench options when there is a player who has apologised immediately, and must be chomping at the bit to prove doubters wrong, is very much the proverbial condemned man opting for canibalism as a final meal.

Casting the social media net that bit further afield to upper management, only Chief Executive Mark Devlin has dipped his toes into the waters of cyberspace on anything like a regular basis. Whilst Matthew Benham published his ‘cryptic clue’ last week, it was the first time he’d posted in a long while – albeit understandable given his prior absence (presumably as a result of some of the crazy abuse and comments being directed his way).

Chairman Cliff Crown and co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen, both previous exponents of Twitter, haven’t posted in almost a month. 27 and 22 February respectively, to be precise. Both of which is a huge shame for a club that has always been so big on fan interaction and, whether we like it or not, are going through somewhat of a rough patch on the field.

Whatever the reason I can understand why the players, at least, are taking somewhat of a backseat. Any attempt to pour oil on troubled waters at that moment would be more like chucking it onto an already raging chip fire. Indeed, such is the depth of feeling and emotion out there about our current predicament that I’ve seen people calling for Dean Smith’s head (metaphorically) and a return for the likes of Andy Scott or Martin Allen.

Say that slowly. Andy Scott or Martin Allen.

Both are men I loved in their day. Andy – both on the pitch and in his early stint as manager. Martin – well to say he is larger than life is probably an understatement to rank alongside suggestions that Steve Evans gives a calm and measured post-defeat press conference. These days though, Andy is more associated with highlights in ladies hair than on Football Focus whilst Martin Allen would, surely, be a step back into the Jurassic era?

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Martin – larger than life

Whilst I have huge respect for both men, they’ve had their time at Griffin Park. More importantly, would a fourth different Head Coach in less than a season be of any real benefit? Things aren’t working out at present, that’s for sure, but to bring in yet somebody else with so few games to go would be both a brave and risky call.

Much like the loan signings we are supposedly after, if anybody was any good they’d already be in employment at the moment. Unless, of course, Steve Coppell is reading (he isn’t).

Whatever the pitchfork wielding mob are calling for, I fully expect Dean to be at the reins when we start up again against Nottingham Forest in just under two weeks. Besides, IF Matthew was even contemplating a change (and its a bigger IF than Steve Evans) surely he would look for a short term internal fix?

Somebody who has their UEFA A coaching badges. A former player with diverse knowledge of the European game. A man who knows the players, who has a reputation as a motivational speaker and, now that FCM are out of the Europa League, may have a bit more time on his hands.

I’ll leave that thought with you…

Nick Bruzon

We go again, again

19 Mar

Brentford host Blackburn Rovers today in a game that sees both teams locked on 43 points in the Championship table and somewhat closer to the relegation zone than they would probably prefer. That said, a gap of 7(seven) points and superior goal difference is surely too much to be immediately concerned about . Yet regardless, getting back to winning ways is going to be hugely important – as much for calming any jitters as reuniting the fans.

Blindingly obvious? Perhaps. I’m no football guru or have anymore insight than the man or woman standing next to me on the terrace. But, I am a fan. And like many of us was just so disappointed by what happened last Saturday.

Forget the poor run we’d had going into the game. That counted for nothing in a one-off derby clash with our most bitter of rivals. We had the chance to walk into Loftus Road and secure the double after our early season victory under Lee Carsley at Griffin Park in October. The subsequent performance from Dean Smith, from the players and, if we’re being honest, from some of our ‘fans’ – whose anger towards each other in certain quarters wasn’t pretty and bordered on bullying or abuse– left a somewhat bitter taste on what should have been a day to remember.

Much like our work colleagues and families, we’re bound together through circumstance and should surely have been pulling together for our common goal. That of beating QPR. They weren’t great yet still strolled to a 3-0 victory. And that hurt. A lot.

But, to coin that most over used and nonsensical of phrases from this season – We go again. Nico was quick off the mark with this one last night although, for once, it seemed meant in a much more positive sense than the usual accompaniment to post match soul searching after a defeat.

As demonstrated by the player’s meeting that Alan McCormack spoke about at length in Thursday’s press conference, there seems to be an acknowledgement amongst the squad that Saturday was, what we’ll politely call, a low point. For Captain Jake Bidwell to call his troops together, outside of the watchful eye of management, speaks volumes. Although hopefully in a positive sense, long term.

Certainly, I’m going into today’s encounter with Blackburn full of confidence. The players have held up their hands, we’ve signed a loan striker in Leandro Rodriguez from Everton whilst Matthew Benham has bounced back to Twitter this week (following a lot of very unfair flak) with the return of the cryptic clue. Hey, we could even see Scott Hogan make a very welcome return to the bench after another 75 minutes for the development squad on Monday.

Let’s not underplay how much of a boost this will be. Goalscoring has been an area of concern in recent weeks and so to have one, potentially two alternates can only be a good thing. Whilst goals have been somewhat of a rare commodity in recent weeks is that trickle about to become a flood ?

Who knows? Whoever starts could have the weight of expectation on their shoulders but then again will be following somewhat of a low. Whilst we’d all love a morale boosting deluge of goals, I’d still settle for a metaphorical puddle rather than the aforementioned flood if it meant breaking that drought of victories.

Here’s to Brentford getting three points and, perhaps, a Leandro da Win-ci? .

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You call that a puddle? THIS is a puddle.

Nick Bruzon

Can Brentford keep the Wolves from the door?

23 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was only last season

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

Watching the highlights, the difference in confidence and playing style from then to now is just world’s apart. Yes, we’ve had to change the make-up of our team but seeing the class of 2014-15 in action just emphasises what a tough job their replacements have faced . Gone is the excitement, gone is the open attacking play, gone is the feeling that when we put our minds to it we could carve teams open for fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bees fans make their feelings known on Twitter

Nick Bruzon

Killer Owls slaughter Bees in a Valentine’s massacre

14 Feb

Brentford fell to a second straight defeat as Sheffield Wednesday inflicted a 4-0 thrashing on the 10 man Bees. Following last week’s reverse at Brighton, this made it 7(seven) goals against without reply as we were left dead in the water after referee Scott Duncan showed straight red shown to Yoann Barbet in just the fifth minute.

In a repeat of the corresponding home game earlier in the season, Lucas João grabbed a last minute winner. This time, though, there was no question as to who deserved the points. The encounter at Griffin Park may have seen things end with a hard fought 2-1 in favour of the visitors but yesterday’s result was one which, if we are being honest, they’ll probably be disappointed not to have ended with a bracketing.

If we’re being equally honest, their cause was massively helped by the sending off. Barbet was adjudged to have brought down Gary Hooper with the Wednesday player clean through on goal after running onto a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). It may have been Valentine’s weekend but this was one card that Yoann won’t have wanted to receive. I’ve watched it and rewatched it yet my own opinion remains wooly.

Undoubtedly, the Brentford man has raised a hand to Hooper’s shoulder, to which the striker needed no further invitation to go straight down. Was it a professional foul? Was the reaction exaggerated? Who knows. Certainly not the ref and one can sympathise with Dean Smith’s assertion that, “I don’t believe the referee can make the decision. I think he guessed. He’s directly behind it, 40 yards away. I thought it was a poor decision.”

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Yoann Barbet – his sending off left Dean Smith seeing red

Put it this way. Had the same thing happened at Griffin Park, we’d have been baying for blood and a red card. There’d have been uproar had it not been given. That said, the ref had enough time to think about it – such was the length he had to run in order to flourish his card – so could at least have consulted his linesman and used any available help to make a potentially game changing decision.

Guess or not, Hooper had been in a great position and with the Bees forced into a rejig (Jack O’Connell coming on for the recalled Konstantin Kerschbaumer) parity lasted until just the 12th minute. Fernando Forestieri’s header giving the hosts an early lead.

Hooper doubled it with a great strike after a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood claiming the assist for that one as Hooper ignored the presence of Jack O’Connell to fire home with a sweet first touch. It was a cracking strike and deserving of all plaudits – such was the technique and precision employed.

It was game over just before half time. A long ball over the top (sound familiar?) reached Kieran Lee in the box. The Wednesday midfielder bamboozled Harlee Dean whose non-challenge was, at best, an attempt to jump into his opponent after Jack O’Connell had been beaten for the cross in.

Yet despite a marginally better second-half showing from the Bees , it was Sheffield Wednesday who would eventually extend the lead further. A long ball threaded through the midfield (hey, at least it wasn’t over the top) found Lucas João. With Jack and Harlee ambling (now there’s an idea for a Partridge TV show – “Ambling with Jack and Harlee”), David Button could only help push it into his own net and will, perhaps, be disappointed with that one.

4-0. Game over. Ouch.

Not even Mark Burridge can salvage this one

There is one school of thought that would suggest the referee ruined this one. The Bees had been the stronger team in the opening spell before it became 10 against 11 and were left with no hope from that point. True enough, but to be cut open so easily and so consistently was nothing but shambolic. Blame the ref, absolutely, but we need to look inwards too. Certainly, we gave our opponents a huge helping hand with what could politely be called ‘schoolboy defending’.

Likewise, take nothing away from Wednesday. They are where they are on merit and will present a major threat to anybody with play-off aspirations. Certainly those are aspirations that Brentford can no longer harbour – even Ciaran Brett from the club media team admitted during the game that those pre-match claims had been “optimistic” .

So what of the Bees? Our current form is starting to worry and the current statistical trend doesn’t make great reading. We’ve only scored 6 goals in our last 8 games – and 3 of those came up at Preston, our only win all year. Indeed, yesterday’s result means we’ve lost 6 out of our last 8 matches whilst the ‘winning run’ stretches to 5 out of 18.

With the top of the table out of reach, and Brentford now occupying 13th, should we be worried about the other end? It sounds ludicrous to even mention such an option and a 14 point gap (combined with ’less bad’ goal difference) should be too much with 15 games to go.

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The BBC table shows us firmly ensconced mid-table. For now

More, its just disappointing to see the great work put in by Lee Carsley and the squad, where we were within spitting distance of the top 6 after the disaster of ‘The Marinus Experiment’, now falling away amidst further departures and a poor run of results.

Nobody has a divine right to be any good. Nobody has a divine right to promotion. Nobody stays up by default. You need to work at these things and earn them. We did so much of that last season and absolutely deserved what we got, despite a team that many suggested were ‘punching above their weight’. Personally, I thought such a suggestion to be disrespectful. We were a team that thrived on spirit and skill who could, arguably should, even have gone one better.

Now we have made the decision to dismantle and rebuild. On-field, the transfer policy that is being driven by our co-directors of football is certainly open to debate. I get that money talks and we can’t force players who don’t want to stay to remain here. Likewise, many talk about this being a longer term strategy to keep us financially viable until the Lionel Road stadium is able to be built.

All true. Yet few could deny that the change in morale, motivation and performance make this seem a world away from where we were 12 months ago. For those football fans whose week is based around the last result and looking forward to the following game (surely the point of going?), it’s a tough place to be at present.

The next few weeks, let alone the next few months, are going to be very interesting indeed.

Nick Bruzon