Tag Archives: Leeds United

Neal going? Neal staying? Names – and nonsense – all over the place.

14 Jul

Yawn. Rumours. We should be talking about amazing things such as how the live YouTube stream of Dynamo Kyiv v Brentford (0-0) held stable throughout Saturday morning’s game. About how solid we looked at the back – second half especially (sadly, HB’s football club meant I missed a first half that Thomas Frank would later describe in glowing terms). We should be talking about the wonderful new home strip that the team wore and whether this may be the week where the ‘away’ colours finally put in an appearance (Come on Umbro, do your thing. Please). About our first proper look at the likes of Pontus Jansson and David Raya. But instead, it is all Neal Maupay – Sheffield United, Leeds United, Aston Villa and now even West Ham are being added to the rumour mill. Presumably as a result of their non-purchase of Scott Hogan a few years back.

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Still hoping to say happy birthday to my good friend next season – to coin a phrase

OK – let’s just cut to the chase and deal with the Neal Maupay situation from this perspective. That of outsider looking in and, as such, not privy to any club knowledge. Oh to have Phil Giles or Matthew Benham’s numbers in my i-pod telephone now. But, to be fair, even if I did I can’t imagine either party would be letting any cats out of bags. Why would they? This is a football club – not a committee meeting between supporters and top brass. Strategies and models have been laid out, precedents have been set and trust has long been earned. The amount of money invested in this club over the last 10 years and the players we have seen are a thing to behold. The sight of the new stadium springing up at Lionel Road, something to make the heart beat a little bit faster every time I walk past it.

I’m not in the employ of the club. Yes, I write in the match day programme but that’s voluntary and as much for my own pleasure or the chance to sneak past the editor some ‘in jokes’, a couple of references that only two or three other New Road Observers, Ealing Road fans & Braemar Road residents may get or simply a few open digs at our rivals. Thanks, Sam 😉

If something needs to be said on these pages then it’ll be said. But frankly, it hasn’t in recent years. The team are magnificent. Our top brass open and engaged. Our transfer business phenomenal. We’ve shrewdly and carefully built this club up. Improved and strengthened . Seen new heroes created. And, yes, leave. I still weep at the though of Jota sent to St. Andrews but take comfort in the fact that he is, at least, now an Aston Villa player. There’s one name going straight into my Fantasy Football team. Perhaps alongs side Chris Mepham, Ezri Konsa and number 26.

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Oh, Jota….. Any excuse

I also know that, like myself, we’ve a hardcore of long standing supporters for whom this positive period is something that still feels somewhat unusual. That success is brilliant but odd. That we’re only a moment away from selling Dean Holdsworth and replacing him with Murray Jones. To saying farewell Nicky Forster, Andy Sinton, DJ Campbell et al. That it’s Brentford, innit. Something is bound to go wrong. We’ll discover that Lionel Road is built on the site of an ancient burial ground. That somebody messed up the bluerprints and got the cms / inches mixed up a la Spinal Tap. That Neal Maupay’s contract was signed with invisible ink that is slowly disintegrating before our very eyes.

But it won’t. The evidence is there before our eyes. The difference is that when things happen that supporters may not like  – primarily the sale of a fan favourite – we now have a Plan B and C already lined up and in operation. Sometimes we sell early. Sometimes we sell late. Always we invest in potential. Now we are also investing in experience. The signing of Pontus Jansson a huge marker post that things continue to evolve at Griffin Park. 

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The final piece is lowered in to place at Lionel Road. Errrr “Chaaaaappp-mannnnn”

It is so apparent how things work these days. That Brentford still feels very much our club despite Matthew Benham and his team being at the helm. That they are deserving of our faith and trust. Be honest, NO football club is going to share transfer plans and divulge details of bids to supporters or journalists. Not even Brentford. Ignore the clickbait. Ignore the rumour. Trust the system.

Sure, Neal Maupay may well end up leaving us imminently. He may not. He was missing from the Dynamo Kyiv game, with Thomas conforming at full time that he had gone back to France for a couple of days but that there was nothing wrong with his approach and he’d be in training next week. Likewise, Said Benrahama although Kamo will be out for a few more weeks given his extended progress at the African Cup Of Nations.   

I’m not an idiot. I know we’re in clickbait season and that all manner of publications publish all manner of nonsense. Some of it may stick in hindsight. Most of it won’t. Maupay can’t be going to Aston Villa, Sheffield United AND West Ham. Romaine Sawyers can’t be going to Leeds United AND Aston Villa. Somebody might move. They might not. I’d love it if Neal lines up against Birmingham City on August 3rd. Absolutely love it. If only because I think he’ll destroy Harlee Dean and that’s worth anybody’s entrance fee. Let’s be blunt – I do NOT want him to leave. No matter how strong my trust in the system.

But, at the same time, IF he does then it’s not going to be a case of wailing and moaning. Most of our fans seem to get it, too. A twitter poll set up by the GPG (below) showed only 29% of voters saying that Neal must stay whatever. Likewise, the piece published by fellow blogger Luis Adriano – which you can read here – really hits the nail/neal on the head.

The last few years have more than shown that the board know what they are doing. Without Matthew Benham there probably wouldn’t even be a club now. We’d likely be watching AFC Brentford Phoenixes running out against Dulwich Hamlet or some such. Look at how Leyton Orient’s fortunes changed as a result of roping those three points to Marcello Trotta’s goal when we celebrated like we’d won the FA Cup. Look at how Doncaster and Yeovil have fared since being promoted at our expense the season prior.

We may not always do it immediately. But we ARE doing it right. I’d love Neal and/or Said to stay and really hope they do. Yet if they don’t, we’ll survive and who knows who we’ll unearth next….  

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The mutual love at Brentford is palpable – from Neal to Said and beyond

Nick Bruzon

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The Brentford transfer machine rolls on. Will Dean swoop again?

12 Jul

And then the door swung the other way. Following the sudden influx of players to Griffin Park, it was perhaps inevitable that Daniel Bentley would not be alone in leaving Brentford. Sure enough, the expected sale of Ezri Konsa to Aston Villa was announced yesterday. With Pontus Jansson ( thanks, Leeds United ) and Ethan Pinnock (c/o Barnsley) having been unveiled in recent weeks, something was going to give. With the BBC reporting a sale price of £12million, a year after Ezri joined us for £2.5m from Charlton, Dean Smith has got his man and Matthew Benham has more than balanced his books.

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Nice work. Nice training gear. Sponsored by Wolves?

Much as when Dean himself moved to Aston Villa in October, the universal reaction seems to be one of positivity and well wishes from the Griffin Park faithful. The arrivals of Ethan from Barnsley and, especially, Pontus from Leeds United had more than boosted morale whilst signposting a back three that will presumably feature Julian Jeanvier as the final part of this defensive Holy Trinity. Likewise, turning around a price differential of close to £10m in such a short space of time for a player who is already part of the England U-21 set up. Very much a case of win-win for all parties. 

Presumably we’ve added the usual sell on, appearance, international clauses that seem to be our way these days. Whether Charlton Athletic did the same last time out, who knows, but I’ve seen words out there to suggest this was not the case. Then again, that could be the usual conjecture and clickbait that is so prevalent at this time of year so perhaps best to draw a discreet veil and move on. Ultimately, we’ve got a price we’re happy with and Ezri has a dream move to the Premier League. 

If selling a CB seemed an obvious move , what about central midfield? With Dean Smith having already taken old boys Jota and Ezri to Aston Villa, could he be looking to a third? Is there any substance to the Romaine Sawyers / Leeds United stories that are flavour of the week? Again, dispensing with all gossip the fact that we have picked up Nørgaard and Jensen makes us suddenly look very strong in that area with Romaine and Kamo already in situ. Especially given the Thomas Frank preference for a plethora of centrebacks and wide men.

Clickbait journos are putting 2+2 together . Strength in depth. Our approach of selling on. Dean Smith hoovering up his old boys. The Leed United rumours. As an outsider looking in, I can see why. As an outsider looking in, I’ve no idea whether they have got 4 or 5. And I don’t particularly care. 

By which I mean that I obviously want the best for the squad. I want to see how it all plays out and who will be in that starting XI to face Harlee Dean and whoever else is left at Birmingham City when they visit on August 3rd. But to overly expend energy following clickbait and rumour or upsetting myself over what is so clearly outside of any control is time that could be infinitely better spent. There are away shirts to launch, pre-season friendlies to follow, Tyrolean tour blogs to read, Leeds fans to get upset and season review e-books (all proceeds to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust) to download here.

Subtle as a Neal Maupay goal celebration but I thank you for your indulgence.

There’s not much else to say today beyond a final good luck to Ezri. I’m sure there may be more to follow but until they do, life’s too short to get stressed by rumour and rubbish. We’ve an incredible squad at our disposal and every day that passes is one closer to the accursed transfer window ™ slamming shut. I’d also offer you these words of comfort / approach from Phil Giles , given at last year’s fan forum when the news of Dean’s departure for Aston Villa meant players would follow despite our strong start to that campaign. 

He was unequivocal about the situation in regards to a promotion push, saying that “If we are in the top six in January we won’t be selling players….If we’ve a high likelihood of getting promoted we’d be very reluctant to sell.”

That was then. This is now. Of course things change but given the gauntlet already being placed in front of our Championship rivals, do we honestly think the club will then look to cut off a metaphorical arm and haemorrhage the very life blood of a promotion push?

Ultimately, the answer to that depends on what plans are being forged behind the scenes. Obvious, I realise. Yet those words from Phil are quoted to illustrate that we’ve stayed strong and shown positivity before. Here’s hoping we can do it again.

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Nick Bruzon

Interceptor Jensen signs – with a proper pen. Tour diary continues to delight.

11 Jul

Raya – In. Nørgaard – In. Jansson – In. Pinnock – In. And yesterday Brentford continued with the summer shopping following the acquisition of midfielder Mathias Jensen from Celta Vigo . Hot on the heels of signing Pontus Jansson from Leeds United, Matthew Benham has flexed the Griffin Park chequebook once more with the addition of another player who very much fits our bill. With the likes of Josh McEachran and Lewis Macleod departing over the summer, the midfield has been more than boosted with the Danish contingent of Christian Nørgaard and now, of course, Mathias. It’s wonderful news and if for no other reason than unlike with the Pontus signing, we were even able to use a proper pen rather than a half-chewed biro found down the back of the sofa.

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Mathias brings quality, and a proper pen, to the squad

Crack open the big book of Brentford summer bingo:  Matthew Benham. Statement of Intent. Going for it. New signing. Incoming. Welcome. Exciting times. Final season at Griffin Park.

These are all words we’ve become very familiar with over the last few weeks and they were trotted out once more by the bucketload as yesterday’s news was formally confirmed. The story had been doing the rounds a few days prior and had been hinted at with Matthews ‘duel’ (dual) cryptic video clue. At least, I’m assuming that’s what he meant. Even when you know the answer these things are harder to unravel than a pair of i-Pod headphones that have been left unattended in a draw for 24 hours. Oh, Apple. If only they played music as well as they knot themselves. Projecting the sound inwards, into the ears of the person intending to listen to Drake’s Greatest hit, rather than outwards – in the direction of fellow commuters.

Thomas Frank and Rasmus were, understandably, enthusing about our latest bit of business the newest signing. In the story which you can read in full on ‘official’, Thomas noted how “With Mathias’ arrival, we have a group of top-quality central midfielders with different skill sets which we can use in various combinations” whilst Rasmus went even stronger. “He is technically gifted and has a great football brain. In many ways we believe he is the perfect fit to Brentford, and we are really pleased that it was possible to sign him this window.

Wow. No pressure! But high praise indeed.  The obvious question off the back of all this is whether the door might swing the other way? There’s not been a day go by over the summer without one of Ezri Konsa, Romaine Sawyers, Neal Maupay, Ollie Watkins or Said Benrahama being linked with a move somewhere. Usually Aston Villa, Wolves or Sheffield United.

We all know the club modus operandi when it comes to business but having already trimmed the wage bill when contracts expired (farewell, Yoann Barbet) and sold Daniel Bentley, might this be it? Or could the signing of two central midfielders and two centre backs be an indication as to what may happen next?

It goes without saying that I hope nobody leaves. It also goes without saying that if somebody does, then more than a huge dollop of faith in the squad needs to be put in place. The club have consistently shown how well we recruit, sell and replace. How players continue to be better than those who had come before. How we balance the books whilst building the team.  Something I learned the hard way after the Birmingham City business a few years back. How much egg on face?

Yet in this final season at Griffin Park, might Matthew Benham really be going for it? Has he laid down an early statement of intent with his latest new signings and now be in the process of applying a heavy-duty padlock to the out-door? Who knows? These are exciting times and I can’t wait for the season proper to start in less than a month. If only for the prospect of seeing Pontus and Neal on the same team – the photo published on ‘official’  Twitter this week was just magnificent.

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I can’t wait for that first goal celebration….

Actually, that should read photos.

The one of Peter Gilham and Thomas Frank meeting Pontus just smacked of a burgeoning bromance. As did Peter’s tour diary, where the oblique reference to Drake (Charlie) had me chuckling more than it should have. Then again, so did his reference to The Pointer sisters. You can read that one, here. Keep up the great work, Peter.

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Ahhhh..

I’m so excited, indeed. Birmingham City and August 3rd can’t come soon enough.This really has the potential to be the big one….

511568510Until then, perhaps you may want to kindly please download the annual Last Word season review for e-book for your kindle, iPod telephone or other electronic reading device. You you can do so, here, with the important bit being that all proceeds received from the £1.99 sale price go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

It’s shonky, there are typos in it (still) but what better way to while away your time on the commute to work, the toilet, holiday or just simply relive some of the exciting moments from last campaign. And then prepare to see them blown out of the water in 2019/20

Nick Bruzon

Bees in ecstasy. Leeds in meltdown. Matthew Benham amazes Brentford, again.

9 Jul

I’m lost for words. Last night really did happen. Social media has been in meltdown after THE news was confirmed. Of course it had been rumoured but deep down, did we honestly expect it to happen? Well, it has. It wasn’t a dream. Brentford have seen September’s game at Barnsley moved back a day after it was picked by satellite channel Sky Sports Leeds United  for live TV coverage. And in other Elland Road related news, we’ve only gone and signed Pontus Jansson. This is not a typo. This is not a drill. Repeat – we’ve only gone and signed Pontus Jansson.

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Seriously, I’m in shock. We’d talked about the possibility of this rumour being confirmed earlier in the week but to see it come to fruition is about as huge statement of intent and future direction as they come from Matthew Benham. This has so bucked the trend of our usual transfer strategy that I’m struggling to get my head around the news. Yet at the same time, can’t pretend to be anything short of ecstatic about  the Swedish defender joining the fun at Griffin Park.

This is a HUGE signing. A proven player and another player who, like Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford (remember that from 2018) reached the knockout stages of the World Cup. Indeed, he has  captained the national side on more than one occasion en-route to winning this current total of 20 caps.

Leeds United fans are in meltdown. Brentford fans living the dream. The news was the only thing stopping TV’s Love Island completing a whitewash of trending topics on Twitter last night as the news broke. We’d suspected something was about to happen when Matthew Benham posted a cryptic video clue  – the duel scene from the brilliant Curb Your Enthusiasm. As ever, no idea, beyond a rumoured second (err dual) signing due soon. Then official shared what seemed to be either confirmation that incoming was imminent or Peter Gilham had gone old school on his Tyrolean blog and was reverting to pen & paper. 

That was it. Surely this was all but confirmed. Short of Pontus being revealed whilst wearing the new away kit, this couldn’t have been any more exciting. And then it happened. Twitter exploded. That was just in Leeds where Brentford is still trending this morning.

The words ‘f**king brentford’ were used almost as much as the three letters, FFS. It was just ‘tinpot’ and ‘pub side’ short of a full house in ‘clubs like Brentford’ bingo. Bees fans in raptures. Leeds supporters devastated. The final aftershock of the Aston Villa equaliser being felt, even now.

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Hey, who cares? This is our gain and very much so. Thomas Frank summarised things beautifully when talking to official, as he noted “Everyone knows about the Brentford model but to develop the young players we have here, we also need experience and quality in the squad to get the perfect balance. To have someone with his CV turn down other offers to join us shows where we stand as a club now.

As for director of football Phil Giles, he was also on point to confirm what we’d all talked about – this being contrary to our usual methodology. His own update included the confirmation that “Pontus is not a player we have been tracking for some time. In fact, it was only very recently that we were alerted to his availability and reacted quickly to the opportunity.

But sometimes, when opportunity knocks, you need to go for it. What a way for Matthew Benham and his team to do that. What a marker to lay down to the rest of the division. What a prospect awaits – especially if we can hang on to the likes of Neal Maupay. Imagine the pair of them in the same team. Talk about bite!!  Talk about passion!! Talk about the celebration should we continue that unbeaten / winging run against Leeds United. That ‘away’ trip, five games in on August 21st, has just cranked up another few notches and then some. It was already ripe for being a fine encounter following October’s 1-1 draw – the one where Neal scored that goal, did that celebration and Pontus, of course, broke our hearts late on.

At the end of the day (Clive) Brentford have just stepped up a level. On the day that Aston Villa paid £25million for Tyrone Mings from Bournemouth, we’ve proven once more that we are kings of the cut price transfer. Relatively speaking – a rumoured £5m no small change and easily a club record. Yet to acquire a player of this quality really says where we are now at. No longer below the radar but very much sticking our heads above the parapet. And I can’t wait to see who takes a shot at us first. 

As the fallout continues, there’ll no doubt be enough material for the GPG to write a sequel to what was the best video in sometime – F**king Brentford. This one did the rounds in a precursor to the transfer news being confirmed. And now it has happened, expect more to follow.

I have to be honest, this is still somewhat bizarre news for so many reasons. But it is also brilliant news. For so many reasons. What a way to strengthen our squad. To tell our rivals that we aren’t here for the ride – not that this has ver been the case. To really inspire the fans ahead of our final season at Griffin Park. Is this the season that we really go for it? The next few weeks, and any outbound activity, will be very telling. At the same time, our transfer strategy has more than proven its worth over the years. Could this be the one that takes us to the next level? I can’t wait to find out. 2019/20 was always going to be exciting – now it’s gone nuclear. And not just on the Leeds twitter feed. Fair to say that Peter Gilham’s tour diary might be quite an interesting one today.

As for the other news of the day, we have our first TV game of the season. The trip to Oakwell will now take place on Sunday 29th September at 1.30pm Barnsley v Brentford isn’t one that seems an obvious draw but Sky have picked us. Perhaps, as with the Jansson signing, the Bees are finally being seen to have come of age as a Championship club.

So that’s the state of the TW8 nation this morning. Whilst I’ve no doubt this one will rumble on, there’s not much else to say beyond kindly asking you once more to please download the e-book for your kindle, iPod telephone or other electronic reading device (which you can do, here, with all proceeds go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Now we really can all leave each other to enjoy the next few days*. Regardless of what happens off pitch.

*Please note. I reserve the right to bother you all once more should anything further happen.

Nick Bruzon

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Luis on fire. Pontus on the move? Matthew one step ahead? New ‘keeper lost in the gossip.

7 Jul

Ok. So this bonkers. All the talk on Saturday has been of Brentford signing Pontus Jansson from Leeds United . A story which has emanated from BBC reporter Adam Pope, amongst others, rather than the usual clickbait grabbing rumour mongers that dominate the headlines at this time of year in a desperate quest for ‘hits’. It is one which has blown the signing of goalkeeper David Raya from Blackburn Rovers somewhat out of the water. Whilst we don’t normally do those stories on these pages – Ezri Konsa to Wolves and Neal Maupay to anywhere after missing the Wimbledon win (AFC ; not Andy Murray) being the latest offerings from the scaremongers – could there be any truth in this one? Or is it another case of better transfer news being found in a packet of cereal?

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The normal sort of transfer stories

The head says absolutely no chance. Jansson, whilst being a class act, is a player so far removed from the Brentford transfer model that any talk of Leeds United letting him come to Griffin Park is one that would need to be met with a huge pinch of salt. And an even bigger dollop of cash. £10m was the offer that Leeds reportedly turned down last season for the Swedish International. Everybody knows we buy low (relatively) and sell high, once the price is met. We’ve already picked up a new centre back in Ethan Pinnock whilst at 28, Jansson would be heading towards the upper end of the squad in terms of age range. I can’t imagine he’s earning peanuts, either.

Yet, Phil Hay (formerly of the YEP) is saying that the player is leaving. BBC Pope is quoting Brentford. Everybody else is jumping on the back of it with relationships between Leeds and Jansson said to have broken down following the Aston Villa ‘open goal’ incident. A player who clearly wears his heart on his sleeve, he was the only one to try and stop the equaliser ordered by Marcelo Bielsa following the Kodjia affair and Bamford Incident  (both of which were on pitch matters rather than prog-rock bands favoured by Billy Reeves).

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Touring soon – The Bamford Incident

Then there was his equaliser at Elland Road agasint the Bees, back in October. Despite his late strike earning a point for Leeds, after Neal Maupay’s penalty (awarded for the foul on Ollie Watkins). Instead of celebration, his interview with Sky Sports was somewhat direct:

Jansson: “It feels sh*t to be fair.”

Sky: “Mind your language please.” 

Jansson: “No, no, no, I don’t care man.”       

Fair enough. And another reason to question the accuracy. The right side of dressing room passion? Or disruptive influence that would upset the harmonious applecart that Thomas Frank is currently pushing. Take your pick. I like the view adopted by fellow supporter and kit nerd, Luis Adriano on Twitter yesterday.

 It’s not for me to say but the story is of huge, huge interest for two reasons. IF by any chance this one turns out to be true it would be a huge statement of intent from Matthew Benham. That Brentford really are going to go for it in our final season at Griffin Park. After Championship consolidation, we are really going to make a push for the Premier League. 

Likewise, that he has revamped his model to now factor in established marquee players. It’s just not something that we’ve really done before. Players join from League One, from France and Spain. From Denmark. From clubs we’ve not really heard of. That’s not to say that the likes of Jota, Benrahma, Barbet, Maupay and Colin – amongst others – haven’t more than proven their worth. They’re all class. They’re also players that we didn’t really know existed before Matthew brought them to Griffin Park. Pontus Jansson is the complete opposite. And, as we said at the top end, so far off our sale that it deserves no credence. 

Yet, equally, as we also said on these pages just last week, “One thing we continue to do is surprise with our transfer policy – both in and out.” Could Matthew be keeping one step ahead of his rivals, yet again, by bucking the trend he has made oh so clear? Or is it just smoke and mirrors?

Ultimately, I have no idea. I honestly can’t see this one happening but I’d love to be proven wrong. If nothing else, it has got us all talking. David Raya’s signing from Blackburn has barely touched the sides – lost in a sea of Leeds gossip.

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We have a new man between the sheets

Likewise,  Neal Maupay has recovered from the injury (hmm) that saw him and Said miss Friday’s 3-0 win at Wimbledon. There he was stepping off the plane at Munich airport ahead of our pre-season training camp in Austria. 

This, something we were all very much pleased to see and subtle as a ton of bricks from ‘official’, but especially given another earlier tweet from the aforementioned Mr. Adriano. Forget Will Grigg (presumably, ‘that song’ is no longer a thing), Luis was very much on fire when he summed up what we’ve all been thinking with this one ……

And I can’t top that. So I’ll simply sign off by kindly asking you once more to please download the e-book for your kindle, iPod telephone or other electronic reading device (which you can do, here, with all proceeds go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Now we can all leave each other to enjoy the next few days*. Regardless of what happens off pitch.

*Please note. I reserve the right to bother you all once more should anything happen.

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Nick Bruzon

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

21 Jun

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

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We have a new GK shirt – sunglasses not included.

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

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

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That first month of league fixtures in full

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

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

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Did he, though?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nick Bruzon

 

Well that makes #BeeTheDJ nice and easy. The four ‘other’ things you have to know about our new signing

29 May

So the news is now, officially, official. Brentford ‘Official’ confirmed one of the most heavily touted rumours of the week when the signing of midfielder Christian Nørgaard from Italian giants ACF Fiorentina (their words) was confirmed on Tuesday morning. But what do we know about the latest addition to the squad with the signing of a player who was, of course, one of Thomas Frank’s first signings at Brøndby  – what were the odds of the stats computer coming up with his name 😉 ?  As for Leeds United, with the pain of the play-offs still fresh in the mind they’ve given supporters a boost. Even if it does involve that most awful of football phrases….  

We can only begin with the arrival of Christian Nørgaard at Griffin Park. The club website has their own ‘getting to know…’ piece and you can read that one here. Personally though, I prefer to read between the lines at the less obvious facts to see what we can come up with.

Firstly, that all important question of which ‘signing pose’ would Christian opt for has been answered. There was to be no ‘shirt with name on the back’ (new or old) and no ‘pen hovering over contract’. Instead, we were given ‘club scarf’ – worn in the traditional style rather than held aloft.

It’s always a safe option. Moreso given the unfortunate incident of Marcel Eger and the shirt that looked suspiciously too tight. ‘Noooo’ screamed anyone at a time the player should have absolutely opted to hold rather than wear.

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Christian plays it safe with a scarf around the neck

The article in which his signing is announced refers to Christian as “The tall 25-year-old”. As one Braemar Road observer pointed out, this is a nice throwback to the club’s oft repeated description of “Long-legged midfielder Toumani Diagouraga”. One fan’s long-legged is another’s tall, I suppose.

According to the aforementioned ‘ten things’ piece, whilst at Brøndby Christian was described by Sporting Director Troels Bech as the “liaison between the team and this club’s wonderful fans.” This is great news, given the already strong bond between players and fans that we bore witness to under Thomas Frank. Those post-match laps of honour at the latter end of the season really helping crank up the emotion after another three points had been earned. If he does half as good a job as the likes of Yoann, Said, Neal or our official player liaison, the legend that is Peter Gilham, then we’re in for a treat.

As for songs, popular music’s The Vaccines give us an absolute shoe-in for #BeeTheDJ. And should Emiliano Marcondes cede his number 17 squad shirt then I can’t see it beyond the wit of mortal man or woman to come up with an alternate terrace chant, either.

An obvious selection

Moving on, Leeds United. I’m still amazed at quite how they managed to miss out on promotion to the Premier League this time around. Automatic was in their grasp for so long whilst even in the play-offs, they were all set in the second leg after that early goal from Stuart Dallas before hitting self-destruct just before half time against rank Lampard’s Derby County ™. Still, that’s all been and gone. Crying over it won’t change anything. Another campaign in the Championship awaits at Elland Road.

As such, one can imagine the joy after the club confirmed that head coach Marcelo Bielsa will be at the helm for another season. Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani has exercised their option to extend Bielsa’s contract for a second season whilst the man himself has confirmed his intention to continue.

I think Bielsa is great. We’ve written about him many times on these pages and even in the matchday programme. Even though his team would ultimately miss out, one can’t deny the passion he displayed and the enjoyment he gave us over 2018/19. And not just Spygate.

So it was news which I read with genuine pleasure. Until the formal announcement was pointed out. Urghh. They’ve used ‘that phrase’. We go again. I can’t help but associate this with Harlee Dean and his Twitter account – usually used in conjunction with the phrases “Can’t apologise enough” or “The supporters deserve better”.

It’s a phrase that is high up there on the post-match defeat bingo card, nestling alongside Dean Smith telling journalists that “we deserved to win”. I have a(possibly) irrational loathing of this bland platitude, used to describe the fact that your team has been rubbish. Move along, nothing to see here.  File alongside the England Supporters ‘band’, Mrs. Browns Boys, Team GB, goal music, eXpresso, Star Wars day etc etc in the list of things that really get under the skin

On the plus side, at least there was no crowbarred hashtag to accompany the news whilst the picture used put me in mind of Alan Partridge – which can only ever be a good thing. Unlike the Norwich based superstar, Bielsa has been given that much required second season. Here’s to seeing if he can produce more of that liquid football. although perhaps not at Griffin Park. (Yet) another three points from Leeds will do me just fine.

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Nick Bruzon  

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

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