Tag Archives: Leeds United

Derby Does Dallas as Twitter (mostly) lines up to put the boot in. See you next season.

16 May

 

What a missed opportunity. After all the build-up and that gruelling season, when the moment came the chance was spurned. The ball was sitting up to be hit into an open goal yet there wasn’t even a lazy leg wafted in the general direction of the target. With Leeds United conspiring to throw away a two goal advantage against Frank Lampard’s Derby County™ last night, Brentford official have chosen not to wade in to the general Twitter explosion. As supporter Luis Adriano noted….

My word. What an evening. What a game. What a supersonic performance from Derby. What magnificence for the neutral amongst us. What utter horror for Leeds United supporters who have seen their side let a seemingly impregnable position at Christmas slide away and then watched it turn into a choke of Scottish goalkeeping proportions. The quite wonderful Marcelo Bielsa seing his masterplan dissolving in a sea of devastation as the end of season defeat to Wigan and, of course, the whooping handed out by Brentford came back to haunt the Elland Road faithful.

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Sky cameras show a full time that was as devastating as any play-off has ever been

From that moment at Griffin Park they stumbled out of ‘automatic’ and into the play-offs where, despite a first leg advantage earned at Derby County, Saturday’s chants of “Stop crying Frank Lampard” had a somewhat hollow ring as full time was called. And I take no pleasure in saying that after the circumstances of the Rams’ visit to TW8 for April’s 3-3.  

It was a sentiment picked up all around the world where Twitter was awash with comedians lining up to put the boot into Leeds. But you can understand why after a game that had everything which makes the play-offs so compelling yet so brutal.

Despite the heroics of former Brentford star Stuart Dallas, whose early goal gave Leeds a 2-0 aggregate advantage, the home side saw their chances fade away when a horrific mix up between Liam Cooper and ‘keeper Casilla just prior to half-time offered Frank Lampard’s Derby etc etc a lifeline.

From that point on, there was only one team in it. Incredibly, Two more goals for the visitors within fifteen minutes of the restart saw the tie tuned on it’s head. Although that man Dallas restored parity soon after to keep the dream alive, in the end it was the visitors who held their nerve in a quite wonderful final half hour of attacking football. With Leeds down to ten men Jack Marriott did the needful on 85minutes as Derby held on to reach Wembley and a show down with Dean Smith.

What came next was as brutal as we’ve ever witnessed. We’re all used to the scenes of distraught players on the pitch and devastated fans but this was next level misery. Moreso, given the complete lack of sympathy from just about anybody and everybody not connected with Leeds United. As the Derby heroes celebrated, the rest of the football community joined in. Starting with Derby official themselves where some might say that what they did was thoroughly deserved….   

There’s nothing else you can say after that. Except, perhaps, see you next season when I’m sure that a certain song may be requested on #BeeTheDJ ….

Nick Bruzon

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Mascot magnificence poses big question. And is this the best football record ever?

15 May

So Brentford now know at least one more team we’ll be playing next season after West Bromwich Albion missed out to Aston Villa in the play-offs. A 1-0 win on the night in a game that our former head coach , not surprisingly, thought his team should have won wasn’t enough to see The Baggies reach Wembley. Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™ and Leeds United do battle this evening for the chance to join them . What price a Leeds – Villa rematch in that one….. More importantly, we have quite wonderful news c/o Matt Dyson on Absolute Radio about what is, quite possibly, the greatest football / music crossover since Hoddle and Waddle.

First up, the play-offs. Aston Villa are through. West Brom aren’t. It was yet another example about how wonderful an experience it is for the winning side aswell as the neutral observers. Conversely, how utterly devastating for those who missed out. I love them and dread them in equal measure yet let’s not pretend it would have been quite wonderful to see Brentford involved last night. Instead, we had to settle for Dean Smith doing his thing.

I’ve all the time in the world for Dean. We’ve written about him on these pages many, many times. Nobody could doubt his enthusiasm or passion. He took Brentford to the position of being joint favourites for the Championship title as recently as October before succumbing to the obvious lure of his boyhood club.

The only gripe being his constant insistence in every post-match press conference that his team ‘deserved to win’ – regardless of whether the game ended in draw, defeat or victory. We saw it at Griffin Park. We’ve seen it with Villa. Even our own three points taken from the Villans back in February saw him repeating those oft heard words following Neal Maupay’s injury time winner, “On the scale of chances, not what we deserve”.

Perhaps it is Dean’s party piece nowadays. As familiar a soundbite and football cliché as the flourish of a Keith Stroud yellow card, mention that ‘The shackles are off’ at Manchester united (even if they seem to have now reattached themselves) or the Rams being rebranded as Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™. And whilst it would be nice if Dean could perhaps change the record, it would be churlish to offer him anything but the hugest congratulations at this juncture. Nobody could deny how he has lifted Aston Villa and taken them to the brink of a top flight return.

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Bingo cards at the ready for the final

The other point of note from last night was a piece of mascot related magnificence. Things don’t get more pressured or stressful than a penalty shoot out. With West Brom looking to compose themselves and prepare for the vital spot kicks, who was that joining the huddle? None other than the club mascot, of course. As you do.  Sadly, the anthropomorphic onlooker was unable to inspire the team as they just missed out.

It also posed the question of what has happened to Boiler Man? Why wasn’t he in the huddle too? Could his absence from this crucial gathering have been the narrow margin between victory and defeat? Who knows. However, should Brentford find themselves in this position in twelve months’ time, then the key fact to note is that both Buzz AND Buzzette must be involved.  

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Get in there

Then, this morning, something even more incredible than Buzzette being caught In flagrante delicto with Boiler Man and Kingsley happened. Petr Cech has only gone and made a record. Yes, that Petr Cech. With drummer, Roger Taylor. From Queen (not Duran Duran).

Entitled ‘That’s Football‘ you can hear it below. Please. Do so. Now. The news was brought to us on The Absolute Radio breakfast show by co-host Matt Dyson and , it has to be said, the record is stunning. Absolutely stunning. So bad it’s amazing.

Described as John Barnes crossed with Kraftwerk, it sees the former Arsenal goalkeeper to produce a quite incredible performance that is, essentially, a list of things that happen at football. All of which are  spoken/delivered in alternate lines by Cech and Taylor.  Think Wiliam Shatner channelling Arnold Schwarzenegger

Victory. Happiness. Glory. Fame.

The Pitch. The Roar. The Crowd. The Score

It could be the best football record ever. And that’s saying something. I’d love to hear this on #BeeTheDJ next season. Better still, what about Brentford running out to this one…..?

Thank you Matt. Thank you Roger. And thank you, Petr.

Nick Bruzon

Neal’s going nowhere (fact) as Thomas unleashes his Action Forss. What a finish!

6 May

The morning after the night before. For you, Bees fans, the season is over. The wait until August 3rd already seems an interminable one yet, at the same time, what a way to end the campaign. What a high to finish up on. As comfortable a 3-0 won for Brentford as one could hope to see, with Preston swept aside and barely a glimmer off resistance offered. An incredible 13 minutes of first half injury time added on as fans feared the worst for Julian Jeanvier, knocked cold within the first 30 seconds but thankfully back on pitch by full time for the customary lap of honour. Another goal for Neal Maupay. Peter Gilham on fire. A top 11 finish for The Bees whilst that ever useful yardstick, the difference between us and ten times better Birmingham City, was this time around recorded as 12 points. In our favour. And Leeds United fell apart. Again. This is all before you even get to the sad farewells and the player of the year do.

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An anxious wait

The other key point, of course, being that this time next season there’ll be no more Griffin Park. No more waking up and imagining our return in a few months time. That’s not to be fearful of Lionel Road but merely to note how much we should appreciate our current home whilst we still can. Taking the kids for a pre-match stroll around TW8 and up to the club shop for the magnificent scarves c/o Audrey (thank you again, so much) it really began to hit home. We’ve all known this is coming but suddenly things seem very, very close. And I’m one of the lucky ones fortunate to have the stadium as a near neighbour. For others, I can only imagine those moments are disappearing quicker than Keith Stroud waving a yellow card.

Still, that’s for the future. For now, let’s savour another incredible afternoon. The pre-match vibe was killed stone-dead within moments of kick-off following the horrific looking injury suffered by Jeanvier. The haste with which referee Mr. Linnington and the players in his vicinity summoned the medical staff told you all you needed to know. Over ten minutes of treatment later the neck brace, oxygen and some very delicate stretcher work had us all fearing the worst. Sickening. Absolutely sickening. Sergi Canos in particular, seemed particularly shaken with his emotions going through the roof. Something seen moments after play resumed where he was quite direct in his asking the linesman what game he was watching.

With no further news as to the injury forthcoming and fans fearing the worst, it’s no surprise things took a while to get going once more but when they did, wow!! It was another master class in the Thomas Frank brand of free flowing football that we’ve all come to know and love. This, without Romaine Sawyers or Saïd Benrahama on the pitch but inspired once more by Sergi and Neal. Rico Henry ripping it up down the left flank. Moses Odubajo on the other side, winning balls he had no right to even come second to after a few ‘bambi on ice’ moments.

Ezri Konsa got the first. On what the clock says was 45 although there were close to another ten minutes played after that. One can only imagine the havoc this would have caused had there been a Big Bob Giveaway happening. The centre back swept it past ‘keeper Connor Riley to break his Brentford duck and effectively kill the game stone dead going in to half time. Preston had offered nothing to this point and were now left a mountain to climb.

It got worse for them in the second half. Brentford picked up where they left off and the second goal was only a matter of time. Sergi was inspired as he pushed and pushed before eventually setting up who else but Neal Maupay for his 25th league goal of the campaign. Yet such was his contribution and celebration that Peter Gilham, quite rightly, name checked the Spaniard for the assist as part of his goalscorer announcement. But it was that sort of day. Our man with the mic feeling the moment as much of anybody in the stands.

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Neal has been wonderful this season

As for the third, it was something anybody in Griffin Park will never forget. A side that was already seeing some heavy B-team presence with Marcondes, Racic and Dasilva all starting the game, ended it with more than a passing nod to Kevin O’Connor’s side. Ollie and Sergi were subbed late on for Jaakko Oksanen and Marcus Forss. And four minutes later it was 3-0. Marcus Forss with a quite wonderful run through the Preston midfield before firing home low and hard from distance.

Riley was left once more with no chance yet if Sergi had enjoyed his own moment, this was next level celebration. The young Finn running full tilt towards the home fans on the Ealing Toad. Arms aloft and loving it. Absolutely loving it. Fist pumps, Cheers. Acknowledgements. Big grins. He just kept going and going. It had the works. Yet understandably so.

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What a finish

And there it ended. 3-0 and up to 11th. Whilst we couldn’t, quite, make it five Championship top ten finishes in a row it was near as it gets. To come top half, yet again, still a quite magnificent from a squad that is founded upon discovering untapped potential and selling at profit when the time is right. Contrast this to your Leeds United and Birmingham City type teams. I cite these two in particular given the ongoing glut of tinpot accusations and ridiculous levels of overspending that have already led to some terrible acquisitions and points deductions.

Leeds have, once more, thrown away a seemingly impregnable position (although at least they are in the play offs. This season). Yesterday’s capitulation to Ipswich Town telling you all you need to know about theur current mental fragility. I still think they can do it but my word, Marcelo Bielsa will need to deliver the mother of all pep talks in the coming days.

As for ten times better Birmingham, there’s no team I enjoy trouncing more. And boy are Blues the gift that keeps on giving. Looking at our relative form over the last five seasons in the Championship, I’m spotting a trend here…..

2014/15: Brentford 5th   (78 points) Birmingham City 10th (63 points)

2015/16: Brentford 9th   (65 points) Birmingham City 10th (63 points)   

2016/17: Brentford 10th (64 points) Birmingham City 19th (63 points)

2017/18: Brentford 9th   (69 points) Birmingham City 19th (46 points)  

2018/19: Brentford 11th (64 points) Birmingham City 17th (52 points)   

You can’t make up that form of consistency and I cannot wait to see what next season brings. One thing we can be sure of is that we have now seen Yoann Barbet play his last Brentford game. Both the player and Thomas Frank have confirmed that it will be very much a case of ‘Au revoir’ for this fan favourite.

 I’m genuinely saddened. The passion and versatility alone are going to be a huge job to replicate. His popularity second to none as he went out of his way to show the love for all things, and fans, red and white. Yet fan love alone does not make a football team and, as we have now seen many times, our Directors of Football would seem to very much know what they are doing. I shot my emotional bolt after the loss of Jota and Maxime Colin to Birmingham yet look how that all played out. I’m gutted to see Yoann go, from a personal level as much as anything else, but trust implicitly what we are doing.

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What a man

The flip side to all of this is Neal Maupay. Last night he scooped supporters’ player of the year aswell as the same accolade from his team mates. He is one of the most hotly sought after talents in this squad and there’s no doubt his name will be linked with all manner of clubs over the summer.

The goals alone only tell half the story. There’s the pace, the approach play and, like Yoann and Sergi, that raw passion. He absolutely loves it and the fans love him like no other player I’ve seen in a while. Even better, everything he says suggests there is no intention whatsoever to leave. He’s already said as much to BBC Radio London and then yesterday afternoon did one of those things that you only get at Griffin Park –  he took a post-match stroll down Braemar Road and past The Griffin pub.

Seizing the opportunity to do my own one man Ian Moose impersonation although without the pies, corpulence or slagging off Maupay’s goal scoring ability (how IS that working out for you Ian?) – why not take the chance of a picture and to ask about next season’s plans? The answer was as categoric as they come. Definitely staying. Not moving. Absolutely loves it here. He even shook hands on it and promised. Fact.

Neal, just for the record we all know that a promise to a fan is as legally binding as any contract. Don’t let any agents tell you otherwise!

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Happy birthday to my good friend – to coin an (incorrect) phrase

Next season is going to be special. Very special. The emotion of leaving Griffin Park something that you can’t buy. The enthusiasm from Thomas Frank infectious. That he has won over the fans so incredibly well tells you all you need to know about his character, his mindset and his own popularity levels. With players like Ollie, Sergi, Neal and Saïd in the team, you know there are goals to come. Josh Dasilva has impressed in his late season cameos. Marcus Forss has hit the ground running. The difference that the return of Kamo made was quite apparent whilst some of Romaine Sawyers ball control has been nothing short of sizzling.

Of course players will go over the summer. They will also come. That’s how things work at Brentford. Yet if we keep the key components in the squad then this could be as exciting a close (closed?) season as it will be when things kick off once more in August.

For now, thank you Mr. Benham. Thank you Thomas Frank. Thank you Neal, Saïd, Sergi et al. Thank you Yoann. Most of all, thanks to all my fellow supporters for making 2018/19 special in so many ways. I’ve got a felling 2019/20 is when this pahse of life at Brentford is all going to come together. And I cannot wait.

See you there….

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Nick Bruzon

Bolton, Bassini and Bamford make the headlines. Ajax make like Brentford.

1 May

Well that was quite the day. The Bolton – Brentford saga rumbles on. Ajax produced gasps of admiration in the Champions League. As much for their kit as their performance against a Tottenham side who proved to be about as successful at playing football as the EFL are at decision making. And Patrick Bamford of Leeds United has now been charged with “successful deception of a match official“. Just for the record, that being his dive against Aston Villa that saw Anwar El Ghazi red carded (now rescinded) rather than the one against Julian Jeanvier that saw Mr. Stroud award ‘no penalty’ – got to love that finger wag.

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Classic Keith… And turn away then point/wag/raise card

First up, the farce of the game at Bolton. 96 hours on, Brentford are still none the wiser as to if or when the game will take place. Instead, the EFL have granted Laurence Bassini an additional 48 hours to prove he has the funds to take over the club. So how does that work? Without wanting to cast aspersions about the state of his books or the reputation of the former Watford owner, if he doesn’t have it now then how are an extra two days going to make any difference?

Regardless of the outcome, what does that mean for the game that is yet to happen (and won’t, let’s cut to the chase)? The BBC piece on this story notes that “Bassini is confident he can complete the deal and is determined the Brentford fixture will be fulfilled, even if they have to field a team made up of the club’s younger players.” How realistic this is remains to be seen. The one thing we can be sure of is that the game has now been confirmed as not taking place this week – oh, well done EFL. I prostrate myself at the feet of your imperious decision making powers.

In theory, there are an additional four days after Sunday’s season finale when the game could still happen (per EFL regulations) although I’m still unclear as to how this will be the case for all manner of logistical reasons. The least of which being supporters ability to travel, Bolton’s ability to organise a game at short notice, policing, availability of players, willingness of players, which level of actual players might be selected  etc etc etc.

The whole thing is an absolute joke of a farce of a mess of a situation. The game will never happen. It can’t.  An already awful situation at Bolton is now seeing both clubs being made a further mockery of. This is without even mentioning that Bolton are due to travel to Nottingham Forest on Sunday. The mayhem if they strike for that one could tip this over the edge…..

Next up, Ajax. Their 1-0 win at Tottenham last night in the Champions League was incredible. Not just the level of football as that left Spurs flat on their backsides but the kit they wore. Their Regista 18 template looked awfully familiar – did somebody say Jaffa Cakes? If it’s good enough for Ajax then surely it was good enough for The Bees? (He says, deploying the fishing rod emoji).  

Are you Brentford in disguise?  Quite possibly, barring a slight tweak on the colour scheme and the fact that they won away from home.

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Who wears it best? Brentford or Ajax?

Yet the real take away from this was the obvious discussion on Twitter that followed. Specifically, the reaction from Kitman Bob Oteng to one supporter’s desire that we use the Ajax version for ourselves in 2019/20. His reaction, being an intriguing one:

 “Wait till you see next seasons away kit then make your choice 😁.  Not long to go 🐝:”

I’ve heard some very promising things about what we have in store although am yet to see anything ‘official’. However, this has just piqued my already sky high curiosity even further.

With Bob also using Twitter to tell fans that the kit, “Should be announced very soon !” , could this be as soon as the end of the season? Subject to the EFL determining when the end of the season is, of course? Or is that just blind optimism from yours truly? Come on Bob, Mr. Benham et al. Please put us out of our misery and get that reveal out there….

Then, this morning, a further clue has been thrown out there by the main man. Bob making the suggestion that the new shirt is a mix of “New vibes and old skool🤔😉”. What this all means I have no idea but I can’t wait to find out.

Finally, Patrick Bamford. The Leeds player has now been charged following his play acting on Sunday. Whilst the entire footballing community can see he is guilty as charged (the fact the red card has already been reversed telling you all you need to know about the FA’s stance), it does beg the question as to how you can be charged with ‘successful deception’ ? An oxymoron if ever I heard one – see also:  deafening silence or military intelligence.

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Can everyone stop getting shot?

By definition, if you have deceived somebody successfully then you’ve got away with it. Except, of course, he hasn’t. Expect a two game ban and his return in time to see Leeds in the play-offs.

The successful deployment of the fishing rod emoji when the news was announced produced the expected reaction from Leeds United supporters. One, Julian Fortuna (and I can happily say this because he’s family) asking the question :

U know what sergi canos and connor hourihane have in common?… Both got away scot free after video evidence caught them clearly committing acts of violent conduct and going unpunished.   

Two points of order, here Julian. Firstly, the whole point about video evidence is that it gives the authorities time to review the facts in the cold light of day. Allowing correct decisions to be made and due process to follow. No charges were levelled at Canos or Hourihane.

More importantly, the correct answer to the question is actually: Both players have scored against Leeds United this season.

Sadly, I think that may be the last chance we get to see that happen. At least for a season. I’m pretty sure that the Leeds United choke is now over. Marcelo Bielsa will rally his troops for that final play-of push. Leeds United will reach the Premier League. Probably before the EFL make a decision about when the Bolton – Brentford game will be played.

Nick Bruzon

Bamford on thin ice after mayhem at Leeds. Brentford in limbo after mayhem at EFL.

29 Apr

What a way to finish the weekend in the Championship. Norwich City are up. Sheffield United are up. Brentford (and Bolton) are in limbo. Leeds United are in the play-offs whilst Patrick Bamford is flat on his arse after being allegedly floored by I don’t know who, or what, exactly in their game with Aston Villa that gave new meaning to the word controversial.

Starting with Brentford, three days on and we still have no idea if or when Saturday’s rearranged game with Bolton will take place. Or with what level of team. Not much else to say there. Everyone, from both sides, gets it. Let’s just hope that for everybody’s sake a resolution can be expedited. Whatever the direction of the eventual decision. Certainly, this morning’s update from ‘Official’ suggested a degree of frustration at the lack of any progress from the EFL.

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Draw your own conclusions

Next up, congratulations Sheffield United. Their promotion was confirmed on Sunday lunchtime as Leeds United could only pick up a point against Aston Villa rather than the win by at least 7(seven) goals which would have kept the race for second place mathematically alive going in to the final round of fixtures. It was the game which had everything that typifies the Elland Road outfit at present.

Accusations of dirty, cheating Leeds. Failure to win (see also Wigan and Brentford). Patrick Bamford going to ground like he’d been shot by a sniper ( see also: Brentford and the Keith Stroud non-penalty decision). Marcelo Bielsa maintaining his dignity and calmness whilst floating serenely atop a sea of madness.

I’ve seen the opening goal numerous times and am still torn. Yes. Kodjia was fouled but the ref never stopped the game. Play the whistle, not the ball is one of football’s most basic tenets. Some Villa players stopped but others continued. Even they weren’t sure . The real flashpoint being Tyler Roberts’ decision to play the ball through after the visitors had slowed up when it looked as though he was going to strike the ball into touch. That was the point when what followed should have been nipped in the bud.

One can well understand the reaction to that pass. It was something which the Sky commentary team described as ‘Disgusting’. Yet the mayhem which followed was even worse as Patrick Bamford went to ground looking like Ahmed El Ghazi had just emptied an entire can of pepper spray into his eyes. Instead, he was subsequently caught by the cameras pulling off an act of fakery that was up there with Ali Dia pretending to be George Weah’s professional footballer cousin. But by then El Ghazi had been shown red and the damage was done.

It did also beg the question as to what would have happened had Keith Stroud been in charge. Having called ‘no penalty’ when Bamford hit the deck against Brentford on Monday, would he have made the same call? Is Bamford more Bambi on ice? Or just the wrong player in the wrong place at the wrong time?

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Bamford and El Ghazi go for it

Regardless, Bielsa once more reigned supreme. Say what you want about Leeds United but he is the absolute boss. Literally and figuratively. As the inevitable chaos ensued, he did what Mr. Attwell  should have done and made sure his team kept the scores level. Albert Adomah was given the freedom of the Leeds defence (on purpose, for once) as he was allowed to run through unchallenged to restore parity.

Bamford may not have had a punch thrown at him but one can only presume he will have the book perform that task today. It was as embarrassing as Rivaldo back in the 2002 World Cup. A shameful, cringeworthy act that only poured more fuel on the fire of Leeds’ reputation.

The one positive to come out of this is Bielsa. Whilst Leeds have missed out, for now, could his persona prove to be the crucial difference once we get to the pressure cooker atmosphere of the play-offs? Moreso if we get the Villa-Leeds final that currently looks as though it could be based on league positions. If Sunday was tasty, just imagine what that one would be like……

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Was there another reason Bamford collapsed

Nick Bruzon

Plenty of great news and action despite the P-P. Have they fallen apart yet…?

28 Apr

I love the business end of the season. Saturday afternoon saw all sorts of promotion and relegation issues coming to conclusion with more to follow today. Despite Brentford and Bolton seeing their game called off by the EFL for those well documented reasons, there was still plenty for Bees’ fans to keep an eye on. Norwich City are promoted from the Championship. Sheffield United all but there. Leeds United now in need of beating Aston Villa by, at least, brackets today in an attempt to keep their mathematical ‘automatic’ hopes alive. Further down the league pyramid there was joy for Leyton Orient and tears for Yeovil Town. And what of Doncaster Rovers, whom we mentioned yesterday…..?

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It’s all over barring goal difference

First up, the fall out from the Bolton – Brentford P-P. The EFL have ordered that the game still be played, regardless of who the home side put in the line up. It’s a farcical scenario for all concerned with the real prospect of a men against boys match taking place, should it actually happen. Which I still can’t see being the case. Although if it did come down to the home side fielding youths / reserves then what an opportunity to give our B-team some genuine league experience. If nothing else, a sporting gesture that would see, at least, the game played on a level playing field.

With the whole footballing community firmly behind Bolton, there’s no real resentment here. More, frustration. Especially for the Bees’ fans who have shelled out on weekend travel. The plus side here being chief executive Jon Varney’s message that the club are now investigating ways of helping those supporters who had travelled.

He told Brentford ‘Official’ that, “I will be working over the coming days to find ways to compensate those who have had their day spoilt by the game being called off, particularly as it will, I’m sure, be difficult for some to get back up to a rearranged fixture at short notice.

At the top end of the Championship, Norwich City were promoted after a 2-1 home win over Blackburn Rovers. Sheffield United are as good as there following their own defeat of Ipswich Town.

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Congratulations (and happy birthday??) to my good friend Delia

The only team who can catch up are Leeds United, whose only chance of taking second place is to win both games, hope the Blades lose their final match but also overturn a goal difference that currently favours the Bramall Lane outfit by 13. Effectively, a double bracketing in each game will be needed. Whilst a 7(seven) goal margin at Ipswich Town next week is vaguely feasible, to do it against Aston Villa is a nigh on impossible task. You’ve more chance of Keith Stroud keeping his cards in his pockets for 90 minutes.

It is an incredible situation that United find themselves in, after such a strong start to the campaign. They were looking an absolute shoe in for promotion to the Premier League and, you know what, they still might do it via the medium of the play-offs. Yet as in seasons gone by, and to coin a phrase, “Leeds. Leeds are falling apart. Again.”.

The Easter weekend, especially the game at Griffin Park, was proof of this. Brentford were magnificent against a team who were second to everything. Yes. There may have been a penalty. To us aswell, after Ollie Watkins was impeded. Regardless of Mr. Stroud’s decision making, the net result was Thomas Frank playing Leeds like a cheap fiddle. I fully expect Dean Smith to do the same today as he looks to get a psychological advantage over his opponents going into that end of season promotion shoot out.

There’s simply no way Sheffield United can miss out from here. Indeed, there was a keen Brentford interest in yesterday’s game where the goals came from Scott Hogan and Jack O’Connell. More proof, if any were needed, of our consistent ability to find players who can then go on and do it elsewhere. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare when plying their trade in the top flight next season. 

In League Two, Yeovil Town saw their run come to an end with relegation to the National League (conference). There were few tears shed by the Griffin Park fans as the results came through. Six years ago, after Doncaster did that thing, Brentford faced Yeovil in the League One play off final at the W place. Whilst we did what we always do there, Gary Johnson made himself public enemy number one in TW8 doing what he did as his side edged past us and into the Championship. 

Coming up to League Two are National League champions Leyton Orient. No doubt they’ll have spent the night celebrating like they’ve won the FA Cup. And rightly so. If Bolton are suffering from shonky ownership at present, nobody needs any reminder of how things have played out in East London over the last few seasons. 

But for Marcello Trotta in that magnificent 0-1 (possibly one of the greatest Brentford performances ever) as we went up to the Championship, it could have been The O’s who took our place. Who knows how things may have turned out for both teams had it been then rather than us who claimed second place. For that, I am eternally grateful and moreso seeing the respective fates of Orient, Yeovil and Doncaster in the years since.

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What a game. What consequences

And talking of Doncaster Rovers….. Their draw and defeat for Peterborough saw them secure a League One play-off place. It’s going to happen. I’m calling it now. Final game at Griffin Park next season…….

Nick Bruzon

Leeeeeeds. Leeds are falling apart. Again.

23 Apr

Not just my words but those of the Brentford fans ringing around Griffin Park through most of the second half and well after full time last night. This, after the Bees beat Leeds United at home (yet again) by two goals to nil and, in the process, dealt a massive blow to the visitors hopes of automatic promotion whilst offering a huge boost to both Norwich City and Sheffield United in the top two slots.

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Sergi and Ezri celebrate

Whilst, naturally, anybody looking in will focus on Leeds United hitting the skids so close to the line (let’s not forget their incredible home reverse against 10 man Wigan on Friday) take nothing away from a Brentford team who were up for this from the off. One penalty shout aside, Leeds offered nothing. Even then, referee Keith Stroud called ‘no foul’ as Julian Jeanvier and Patrick Bamford came together in the box. Whilst it looked an iffy one for The Bees from where I was, on the half way line, the man in black was perfectly placed. Move along, nothing to see here.

But that’s football. They’re the breaks. We’ve had copious stonewall shouts denied this season. Duffers given against us. Ultimately, as was the case at Elland Road, a spot kick decision went our way. Leeds heads dropped. The Bees kept going and who else but that man, Neal Maupay, to give us the lead just before half time.

Sergi Canos (a deserving man of the match) played it through the middle to the talismanic Frenchman. He made no mistake as he got on the end and, running through on goal, steered it past Casilla for 1-0 Brentford. The crowd erupted as Neal made it deja-vu in front of the Leeds fans with a mirror of his celebration after putting us ahead in the reverse fixture. It was also a mirror of their reaction with several making hand gestures that, presumably, were to recognise how many times he had found the net against them.

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Pick that one out ! (thanks, Matt Davis

It was a strike that takes him to 24 league goals for the season, a figure which is the best from a Bees’ player since Nicky Forster reached the same total back in 1994-95. Only Tammy Abraham (Aston Villa) and Teemu Pukki (Norwich City) lie ahead of him on a Championship top scorer’s race that is sure to run until the very last kick of this season.

If the Brentford fans went in for their HT cuppas in ebullient mood, things were to get even better soon after. Sergi Canos doubled the advantage as he finished off a wonderful move involving Watkins and Maupay to dink it past Casilla for 2-0.

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Yessssss. 2-0 !!

The celebration from crowd and players alike said it all and was the perfect reward for a top class performance from Sergi. This was him at his very best although – to be fair – you could say that in regards to just about every player in the team yesterday. 

From that point there really was no way back. It was a two horse race where Leeds couldn’t even come second. Brentford played with confidence and calmness whilst Bielsa’s boys visibly wilted under pressure. When they did get through, Luke Daniels was authoritative. The defence an impenetrable wall of red and white. Mads Bech having his best game in a Brentford shirt by some distance. Jeanvier and Konsa were rock solid throughout. Moses and Rico pushing up the flanks with abandon. 

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View from the Braemar – Josh also impressed when he came off the bench

As for Romaine Sawyers in the middle. My word, it was one of THOSE games. Filthy flicks and silky tricks had the fans drooling. On this sort of performance I’ve no doubt that Dean Smith will be itching to get his hands on the player once more when the summer transfer window opens. It really was sublime performance and one of utter confidence.

There’s not much more to say here, really. Brentford were magnificent. We’ve beaten Leeds United more times than I care to remember in recent times. Last night was probably the best of these. Not only the way we played but a wonderful riposte to all this ‘tinpot’ jibes and conspiracy talk after the game back in October.  Don’t let one potential penalty call take anything away from how we played yesterday. The crowd were up for it from the off and kept going all game. Even Mr. Benham made his way on to the pitch at full time, heading down the touchline towards the dressing rooms.

The Championship promotion race may have a few more twists in it but I’m not sure where these will come from. Sheffield United play bottom club Ipswich Town next whilst Norwich City only need one more point to absolutely guarantee it. Goal difference for both teams is already significant as to make that three point gap from Leeds in third to  the Blades in second, effectively four. 

Still, that’s their problem. For Brentford, there are two games left to get the four points needed for another top ten finish. We’ll need results to go our way, too, but put in any sort of shift like we did yesterday and I wouldn’t bet against even that happening.

Bring on Bolton and then Preston for our last hurrah of 2018/19. If they’re even half as much fun as yesterday then it’s going to be a cracking finale. See you there.

 

Nick Bruzon

Can Brentford scupper promotion race as Championship chokepoint approaches?

22 Apr

Here we go again. The Easter Bank Holiday began with the 1-1 at Millwall (take a bow, Josh Dasilva – what a strike !) and now it ends with Brentford facing the prospect of a visit from Leeds United. With the Sky TV cameras pushing this one back to a 5.15 kick-off, one of the two automatic promotion could already have gone by the time Mr. Stroud waves his first card. Norwich City, already five points clear of Leeds in third, travel to Stoke earlier in the afternoon where a win will see them promoted and a draw as good as there (barring a monumental goal difference swing). Indeed, the Canaries could even finish the day as Champions should results – including a favour from the Bees and a slip by Sheffield United – fall their way.

So no pressure on Leeds United then. Although it is a situation that is as much of their own making after the quite incredible 2-1 home defeat administered by 10 man Wigan Athletic on what was a very Good Friday for Norwich and Sheffield United. That game saw the hosts miss a penalty before taking the lead but then conspiring to press the self-destruct button. It was the ultimate ‘deserved to win’ performance where the only reward available was ‘nil points’. 77% possession and 36 shots count for naff all if you can’t put the ball in the back of the net as, somehow, Paul Cook’s team did. Twice.   

The situation at the top of the Championship is now a quite intriguing one. Being realistic, Norwich City are home and clear. However, with Sheffield United and Leeds both locked on 82 points, it really will come down to two factors. Firstly, who can hold their nerve and pick up all 9 points? Second up, who can increase their goal difference over the course of those three games? With the Blades +6 ahead, as long as they win their final three then Leeds are consigned to the play-offs. Unless, of course, they have the ability to administer a 7(seven) goal bracketing at some point in the final few games.

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Things are tight a the top this morning

Football’s never that simple, of course. Look at our first season in the Championship where quite phenomenal results at Derby County (I’m still not quite sure who hapless Reading so comprehensively outplayed them) or Blackburn Rovers (where Ipswich slipped up) allowed Brentford to overtake both teams, and edge back into the  play-off zone on the final game of the season. I’m sure this race still has more twists to come. Pressure and expectation can do incredible things and it won’t be anywhere near as simple as either United just turning up to get their three wins.

If nothing else, there’s the small matter of Brentford. Naturally, the focus is on the visitors today yet we’ve more than enough points to try and prove. The fixture at Elland Road in October was one which had it all. THAT Neal Maupay celebration, a wonderful performance from Luke Daniels in goal and then the pain of an 88th minute equaliser from Pontus Jansson. His own post match reaction was one which then saw the player charged by the FA  (as were the club for fans throwing objects at Neal Maupay) after accusing the referee of ‘robbery’ and saying on live TV that the result felt a bit ‘shit’.  There was talk of conspiracy, too, as United’s seemingly unstoppable start to the season had begun to hit the buffers.

I saw an intriguing tweet from Beesotted yesterday, which is repeated below.

Draw your own conclusions from this and know that if weren’t already up for it, we’ll be even more so now. This one is already a game that is sure to be played out in a powder keg atmosphere. Leeds know they HAVE to win. We’d absolutely love nothing more than to see them scuppered by our ‘tinpot’ pub side. They’ve not beaten us at Griffin Park since 1950 whilst the last few seasons have seen United comprehensively played off the field.

Of course, past performance is no guarantee of current form. If anybody has the ability to motivate it’ll be Marcelo Bielsa. What a man Leeds have in the managerial hot seat and, realistically, the main reason they haven’t choked it from a promising position as has been seen so many times before. Instead, they’re up there on merit and will be gunning for goals against a Brentford side who, let’s be honest, are looking a tad ‘patched up’ at present.

Yet the inspiration of history, our own desire to still end the season ‘top ten’ aswell as the chance to get one over Leeds should be all the motivation we need. Will it be enough? Could Leeds wilt under the pressure? Who knows, but I can’t wait to find out

Quite frankly, in a game where Keith Stroud is in charge for the ref to barely warrant a mention then you know that the on [itch action is promising to be something special. And I can’t wait.

See you there.

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More of the same would be very nice

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

Deploy the fishing rod emoji and brace for impact after points deduction

22 Mar

Poor old Birmingham City (yeah, yeah, yawn – I’’m “obsessed”). With Brentford having caught right up with our Championship rivals, to the extent of being a single point behind them with a game in hand as we head into international break, that gap has suddenly leapt to a whopping 8 in our favour. This after Sky and BBC WM (amongst others) today reported the point deduction awarded to the St. Andrews outfit for breaching profitability and sustainability regulations. It is a sanction meted out as a result of the club losing  £37.5m in the 12 months up until June 2018 after Harry Redknapp had gone shopping the previous summer. That, of course, a spending spree which saw Jota, Maxime Colin and Harlee Dean added to a wage bill that may have been ten times better for the players but has proven anything but for the club. With any punishment for the fan led assault on Jack Grealish in the Aston Villa game still lurking in the wings, who knows if there could be more to follow?

Yeah, yeah. I’m obsessed. Apparently. I love it though and don’t deny focussing on Blues. A lot. If for no other reason than they are a great yardstick as to our own progress. Can a team who plays fair and invests wisely, yet frugally, out play a free spending outfit with Premier League experience and a big stadium? A team who once had their moment in the sun but are now very much in the top flight shadows. See also: Leeds united, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough.  

Having finished above Birmingham for the previous four seasons in the Championship we’re now in serious danger of making that five out of five since promotion from League One. And it is magnificent.

Of course there’s the arrogance of so many fans on social media. Of course there are the cracks about being ‘tinpot’. About ‘little’ ‘teams like Brentford. But they are an irrelevance to me and to most Bees. Bring it on. All day long. We eat that crap for breakfast. It keeps us going. Inspires us. See also: Leeds United, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough. Size counts for nothing. Quite frankly,  the bigger you think you are the harder you fall. As is now being proven. The Twitter tears today are a quite magnificent thing to behold.

Of course there was big mouth Harlee Dean and his infamous ‘ten times better’ quote. As diplomacy goes, it was up there with Martin Rowlands and Russell Slade in the cult hero stupidity stakes (typo). Henry Kissinger, he ain’t. But we more than made our point about that in the two games which followed as Brentford scored 7(seven) without reply to secure another win double for the season. The post match lap of honour and singalong, as Big Bee Radio went rogue, the stuff of legend.

Yet for me the fascination – and it is one – with Birmingham City goes back to the late 80s / early 90s. I’ve written about this before and so apologies in advance but some things bear repeating. Those of us a bit longer in the tooth will be well aware how our paths crossed over and over back in the day.

1990-91 saw us go head-to-head in an epic Leyland DAF Southern zone semi with the Blues. Having already disposed of them in the FA Cup second round, Brentford could have fancied themselves as knock out football favourites. But with Wembley beckoning ,  there are no prizes for working out who eventually won both legs to record a  3-1 aggregate win.

Deano and Bliss

The 91-92 Third Division title race famously saw things go our way in the final game of the season as Huddersfield Town and Gary Blissett ‘did the needful’ at Peterborough. A moment made all the sweeter by Saint & Greavsie having already used their Saturday morning show to congratulate Birmingham on being champions.

Things weren’t so sweet the following season as  Birmingham edged past us in the battle to be named the least bad of our respective sides. Both teams fought a desperate, and in our case doomed, battle against relegation from Division One (now the Championship) with that final game humbling at Bristol City being enough to sink the Bees and save the Blues.

However, the coup de grâce was delivered in 1994-95 where, thanks to the joys of Premiership restructuring, there was only one automatic promotion place to the Championship available. With both teams neck and neck at the top, one game stood out like a sore thumb on the fixture list. For months in advance the trip to St. Andrews, only three games before the denouement of the campaign, was the one we all thought would be the crunch match.

Sure enough, it was. In the pressure cooker atmosphere of a packed stadium, where a win for Brentford would have made it all but mathematically impossible for even us to stuff things up, it was Blues who came out on top with a 2-0 win. To this day, I’ve been unable to watch half-time guest of honour Jasper Carrott. I’d love to blame psychological scarring from that result but, in fact, it’s more just his material. Ahhh, insurance claims.(kids, ask your dads).

Oh well, despite defeat at least we were still in the play-offs…..

And now, bringing things bang up to date, the nine point deduction sees us overtake Birmingham City once more. It is as familiar a tale as Brentford cocking up a play-off campaign. I’m not going to deny a smile upon hearing the news yet equally, I’m now desperate to make sure we finish the campaign ten times better off then them. Points wise. Let’s make sure that we’d have made it five successive finishes above Birmingham on playing ability alone, regardless of any punishment. 

So, yes. I DO focus on Birmingham City. A lot. But it is as much about the history. About showing how far we have evolved. Rising up out of the primordial swamp and leaving the dinosaurs behind us – in more than one case . Shrewd ownership has proven that you don’t need to spend big to spend clever. The current rumours about Saïd Benrahma are proof alone of that.

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Just how much is he worth now?

Ultimately, a nine point deduction will make no immediate difference. City won’t go down whilst they were never in any real danger of assaulting the play-offs. Current form alone (LLLL) was conspiring against them. Yet this does, at least, look to mitigate against those trying to buy their way to success without having the resource to do it. Trying to consistently spend beyond their means, whatever the consequence . However fairly the others are doing it. Aka – cheating.

Big spenders, beware. And also owners looking to hire Harry.

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Not my words but those of the BBC

Nick Bruzon