Tag Archives: Leeds

Perhaps we can call it a business meeting.

10 Dec

Friday night under the lights and Brentford host Watford. The 2-2 draw at Leeds United feels a lifetime ago already as the December fixture list continues to crank up. We’ve got Manchester United at home on Tuesday, the small matter of the trip to Southampton next weekend and then the league cup quarter-final a few days after that. Whilst by no means season defining, come out of this run with a few wins under the belt and there’ll a lot of smiles as we head towards the New Year. The other news of the day being Liverpool tickets are now on sale, but we’ll get there shortly. First up, Watford.

Charlie enjoys the point on his Instantgram

Cripes. The result from Elland Road was niggling on Sunday evening. That was then. This is now. Personally, I still feel it was a good point for Brentford in a ferocious atmosphere (Spurs could learn a thing or two – all the glitz and glamour counts for nothing if you can’t generate noise) even if it was deeply gut-wrenching to concede so late an equaliser. Lessons learned and all that. As Thomas Frank noted in the press conference for the Watford game, “When it is so close it is difficult to accept that you just lost two points, but we have this rule that you have 24 hours to celebrate and 24 hours to be disappointed. I constantly remind the players, staff, and myself about it. We came in Monday, and it was difficult because we were still in this 24 hour bracket. We were off yesterday and today I didn’t see any sign of any disappointment. It was just a group of players willing to train hard and concentrate”.

Philosophical to the last. As eloquent as ever. But he’s right. We can’t dwell on the negative or rest on our laurels when things go right. Use the moment, in either direction, and then move on. Very much a case of, if not so much going again, as taking each game as it comes. And if anyone has a spare crowbar, we‘ll continue to mangle our metaphors in tomorrow’s match update.

It’s all about looking forward to Watford (and more wonderful cover art on the programme)

For Brentford, there are two obvious casualties. Ivan Toney remains self-isolating as a result of that Covid test prior to the Leeds game. I’m not clear on whether that will still be the case for the visit of Manchester United but a rough count on my fat fingers thinks we ‘may’ be in the clear. hHis own health and fitness aside, of course. 

Ivan has been magnificent this season. The current leader in our game by game review to see who the top Brentford performers are (and you can find the latest look at our ‘top five’ here). Pulling in as big a defensive shift as that up top, he’s every manager’s dream. You can’t put a price on those additional elements to his game outside of the assists and goals. He really is the consummate all-round player and the stereotypical ‘first name on the team sheet’. As for who will step up should we somehow be awarded a penalty by tonight’s referee, Michael Oliver, then good luck calling that. 

One thing’s for sure, it won’t be Sergi Canos. He also misses out after stepping in for Ivan on Sunday. A fifth yellow card of the season means a one-game ban is now in force. It’s a crying shame for Sergi, and Brentford, given he had one of his best games of the season. Pushed up top from wing back (where Mads Roerslev stepped in admirably) he adapted quickly and after a slight positional shift, obliterated our opponents in that second half. The team up with Shandon Baptiste in particular bringing ongoing success as we took the game to our opponents and watched them fall apart. Again.

Sergi misses out

Instead, one can only assume Marcus Forss will step in and step up alongside Bryan. Thomas as already confirmed he was ‘that’ close to starting against Leeds and with Wissa continuing to be nursed back in to the team, it will surely be a place on (and appearance from) the bench for our talismanic late, late goalscorer. Let him come on and do to Watford what he did to Liverpool and West Ham.

All being well we can afford to rotate the team and the subs though choice rather than necessity. With the Manchester United and Southampton games following in close succession, having everyone physically fit will be as big a challenge as anything else. The Brentford casualty list already one which is stretching our troops although kudos to Charlie Goode for stepping up so well in place of Kris Ajer. Likewise, the return of Shandon Baptiste couldn’t have come at a better time.

The heart says it’ll be a win for Brentford. The head says I’ve maximum respect for Claudio Ranieiri. He has had the luxury of a relatively stable team in recent weeks, albeit one that has lost 5 out of their last 6 league games.The one outlier from there being the absolute ticking administered to Manchester United late last month. That 4-1 thrashing being the last straw for the Old Trafford board and, regrettably, jus ta few weeks too soon for us. Oh, to have faced a side in a trough of despair and supporter unrest rather than one that has a chance to reset. Still, that’s all to come. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much. First and foremost has to be Watford. Bring it on and see you there.

The one other piece of immediate news being Liverpool away tickets are now on sale. That game takes place Jan 15th and expect another sell out crowd ( home and away) for the trip to Anfield. One can only assume these will fly off the shelves as we work through the TAP barriers. We picked up ours yesterday. With ‘Plan B’ now in operation (a first if ever I heard one in TW8), let’s hope the’C’ word doesn’t get in the way of our party on Merseyside.

Hey, perhaps we can call it a business meeting. There’s certainly enough cheese, and the odd whine, on these pages.

The games come thick and fast

Nick Bruzon 

Last thoughts on the weekend and first look at the next game. Just please, no false 9.

7 Dec

Brentford travel to Port Vale in the FA Cup third round next month. Thus the balls handed us a repeat of the 2001 LDV final in last night’s draw. Cripes. Was that 20 years ago already? Where the heck does it all go? You can read full thoughts on the draw and how it panned out in Friday night’s programme column for the game with Watford. For now there’s just time for a final, brief reflection on the 2-2 with Leeds United and then we can all move on.

Sergi enjoys the moment of giving us the lead, at Leeds

The disappointment from Elland Road has ebbed away. We are now in that ‘cold light of day’ phase where it can be seen as a good point earned in hostile surroundings. Sergi’s celebration for his goal receiving the expected reaction from a fanbase well used to what happens when The Bees score at their end. Neal Maupay had played Leeds like a fiddle many, many times and now it was Sergi’s turn. Right or wrong, their reaction (its Leeds United, innit) was as predictable as us shipping a goal at the death (its Brentford, innit).

And to clarify, its wrong. There can be no excuse for chucking anything at players. Anything. We also saw what looked like a coin thrown down our end which the officials appeared to miss and one steward hastily removed once the ball was clear. I don’t think any club is perfect but some come with a pre-loaded reputation and, from the walk through the caged safety tunnel upon arrival to the reaction of director Victor Orta at full time, our hosts lived up to theirs from start to finish.

Welcome to Leeds

That said, one can only hope Leeds United stay up so we can go back again next season. Its one of the best places to watch football in the country. What a noise. What an atmosphere. Likewise, one of the most satisfying places to take points from.

Stay classy, Victor.

On pitch, the Brentford player review went up yesterday. Despite the absent Ivan Toney (who is also missing for Watford on Friday, as is the now suspended Sergi Canos for picking up his fifth yellow) there were enough players putting in big performances to make it another tough call as to who made the top five.

With Sergi in the stands for Watford, one can only presume Marcus Forss will start against the Hornets. Nobody needs a repeat of the infamous ‘false 9’ scenario employed by Dean Smith at Loftus Road back in 2016. Alan Jugde was a wonderful player for Brentford but centre forward he wasn’t. A team performance so dire that, as we have reminisced many times on these pages, the only saving grace was Billy Reeves’ 0-100 in 2 seconds move from touchline walk to disco sashay and back again.

Anyway, that Leeds United player review is below. Please do take a look and give us your thoughts.

Until then, we’re approaching the meridian point between games and so time to down tools for a few days. Time to dream of a trip to Port Vale. Time to look ahead to Watford.

See you there and, in the meantime, don’t forget to check out the action from game week fifteen \/…

BBC Billy Reeves provided the only moment of joy the time we tried a ‘false 9’

Nick Bruzon

Who shone at Elland Road? Who impressed in the absence of our current top performer?

6 Dec

Another game down. Another point on the board. Brentford and Leeds United played out a 2-2 draw at Elland Road in a game that had mores twists and turns than a loose propellor. With Watford next up at Lionel Road, we’ll still be without Ivan Toney for that one.

Celebrating at 2-1

For now though, its time for the regular player review. Who shone? Who impressed? Could Alvaro Fernandez and Charlie Goode make it three appearances on the bounce in the top five Brentford players? Nice though it was to see Leeds United fall apart (again) in the second half, who amongst us from TW8 didn’t end the game feeling as though it could have been even better?

Well, you can find the answers to those questions and the player piece here. Enjoy.

Next up, Watford. A Friday night game under lights and in front of the TV cameras. See you there…

Nick Bruzon

Leeds. Leeds fall apart. Again. Then do the unthinkable….

5 Dec

Where to even start with that? Leeds United 2 Brentford 2. The proverbial game of two halves. One which began with Ivan Toney absent through Covid (he’ll also miss Watford and Manchester United I believe) ended with the Bees conceding the equaliser just seconds before the five minutes injury time had completed. It was as close as you’ll get to securing all three points and whilst of course we’d all have taken the draw if offered it up front (would that such a thing were possible), to come so close feels like an absolute kick to the unmentionables right now. You could hear the cheer from Elland Road to Gibraltar, such was the relief that greeted Patrick B@&ford’s late, late equaliser. Instead, one can only look to the positives and prep for Watford on Friday. 

Full time at Elland Road

After the no show at Tottenham, this was a different Brentford team. Literally and mentally. Ivan and Onyeka out; Baptiste and Roerslev in. Sergi sitting up top. The Bees going for it from the off. More pressure in the opening five minutes than there had been all game at Spurs. Leeds happy to sit back and absorb as Brentford pushed. Up. The opening quarter hour one way traffic although no out and out chance. Bryan coming closest. The hosts coming back into it to start taking control themselves and then… disaster.

Charlie Goode picked up the ball and set off on a mazy run forward. Taking the ball to Leeds before losing it with a sloppy pass. The game taken back to the Bees and there was Tyler Roberts to give the home side the lead. 27 minutes on the clock and all the anticipation, gone. All the momentum, gone. All the positivity, gone. Gone in a heartbeat. Brentford with no answer and hanging on for half-time. Supporters left with that feeling that comes when about to watch Match of the Day, only to find it cancelled and replaced with a repeat of My Family (happy?). Oh Kris Marshall. How we laughed.

Mr. Harper’s boys. And girls

1-0 down at half-time. Elland Road silent, barring the sound of crockery being smashed. Teacups being thrown. Rollickings administered. Arses being kicked. Possibly. Whatever Thomas Frank did or said, The Bees came out a side possessed. Playing with purpose. With drive . With passion. Leeds on the back foot. Sergi Canos pulling the strings and all of a sudden it was 1-1. Shandon Baptiste getting on the end of it. The Spaniard with the assist and then coming close minutes after. Oooh. How didn’t he score? 

We didn’t have to wait long for the lead. This time, there was to be no hesitation from Sergi. Linking with Bryan before blasting home just after the hour. The goal had been coming and was celebrated in style. The cry of ‘Leeds. Leeds are falling apart. Again’. belted out from the visiting fans. The smiles broad and the songs loud. Brentford continuing to drive. Leeds collapsing at a rate that was well and truly in keeping with the infamous song. Wissa, on for Sergi, looking fleet of foot. The goal not quite coming and Fernandez in nets, having already pulled off a number of smart saves, helping run down the clock with sportsman like efficiency. Get ball. Dive on it. Wait. Wait….. Waiiiitttt. Distribute. The crowd giving it the expected reaction. “Salt with your chips, Sir”?

We interrupt this article for a moment to visit the home of Alanis Morissette in Canadia. The singer is in the library, leafing through the dictionary and rechecking the definition of Ironic. And also unlucky, which it isn’t. 

Back at Elland Road, a colossal five minutes of time added on have been, err, added on. Brentford still trying to take the ball out of defence but understandably also trying to close out the game. Yes, there have been a few fouls (and a shonky yellow for Rico) but this was excruciating. Where did it come from? 91. 92. 93. 94. A ball is played in to Fernandez who can only flap it over the line. He makes the catch and it’s game over when he hoofs it forward. Instead, a corner is awarded…

The inevitability…..

Leeds’ goalkeeper Meslier comes charging into the crowded box. The ball is swung in and over. The ‘keeper makes a nuisance of himself and there’s the aforementioned England international to steer it in for 2-2.  Urghhh For once, it’s Bees rather than Leeds who have fallen apart. 

The noise is immense. The silence from the away end, deafening. The game as good as over. Then it is. Urghhhh.

Look. A point is a point. The second half was one way traffic from us until the death and a marked step up from that game at Spurs We were also missing Ivan and will again. Watford and Manchester United next up for Brentford with Sergi also joining him on the sidelines for The Hornets’ game. That was a pre kick-off blow that might have knocked the stuffing out of most teams but instead Brentford rose to the challenge. In the cold light of day it will feel ok. Right now it’s just plain frustrating. Oh, what might have been but for two sloppy goals.

Instead, all we can do is look at the table. Eleventh as it stands. We could have been higher but perhaps this will serve as an education. Just as against Brighton, failure to close out a game we might have won or keep focus until the final whistle has been met with joy for the opposition. At least, this time, we’re still going home with something. It just could have been so much more….

We’ll do the player review tomorrow. There’s only so much can be written on a coach back to London via a mobile phone. Then it’s looking forward to Watford. To Manchester United. To having Ivan revitalised and perhaps even a few more points in the bag.

For now, well played Brentford. Our fans were immense. Leeds did what they had to and the relief was palpable. Those fingers from before? That was how their director Victor Orta greeted this result…

Nick Bruzon

The three key players this club would love to start. Will it be Jammy Julian or the spirit of Neal?

4 Dec

Brentford get ready for back to back away games with the trip to Leeds United on Sunday afternoon. The midweek shlepp from Seven (7) Sisters to Tottenham out of the way and put to bed. We’ve done that one elsewhere on the pages although there is still the player analysis piece which can be found here. From this point onwards, its all about Leeds United. About crossing paths with old friends on and  off the pitch once more. About the pleasure that they are obliged to charge us a mere £30 to enter Elland Road.Every penny not paid over that top flight ceiling a delight. Alan Jugde. Stuart Dallas. Pontus Jansson. Memories of the wonderful Neal Maupay back in the day still bringing a smile to the face.

Good times in days gone by. For Brentford and even at Brighton

We’ve all seen the Tottenham game now. Most people would, one presumes, expect some sort of reaction. Some kickback. Some changes. The midfield in particular an area where freshening this up a bit would likely be of benefit. Wissa, Shandon Baptiste, and Mathias Jensen all came off the bench for Brentford at Spurs. Thomas Frank used his press conference to confirm that although “They are players with a little bit more offensive skillset.. they are not in the best place because of injuries”.

That’s a shame. We all know what Wissa can do but Shandon and Mathias also impressed in there brief appearance. A more offensive approach at odds with the sideways passing that had dominated the first hour.

Perhaps the alternative is mixing it up a bit more. Ian Toney found himself isolated out on the right with the gap from him and Bryan to the rest of the group a yawning chasm that was crying out to be filled. Granted, the run of the ball didn’t help in a stop-start game where the referee’s whistle did as much as Tottenham’s pressing to disrupt the flow.

Credit to our opposition. It was a level of intensity I’ve not experienced all season in terms of our opponents closing us down, smothering us and not giving The Bees a moment on the ball. Will Leeds play to the same pattern or will a season that sees them sitting below Brentford in the Premier League mean we have a more equal calibre of opponent to play against?

Will we see a return to Leeds United falling apart? Again. Will Jammy Julian ( you know who you are, cousin in law) be left crying into his Fantasy Football points or is his main man Raphinha the key threat?  Everyone he picks, week in week out, seeming to play out of their skins. The Gibraltarian dominating our family mini league to a level that makes the rest of us start Monday morning looking upwards.

Son last time out ; now Raphinha is the threat

One can only hope the player fulfils the potential of the last Brazillian tipped by a family member on these pages. The trumpeting of Everton’s Allan by our H last Sunday ending in an almighty splat. A 1-0 win for the Bees one I’d happily repeat in a heartbeat at Elland Road. That wasn’t the most exciting game of football but it was certainly a satisfying conclusion. More of the same would do very nicely, thank you. The performance of Charlie Goode and Alvaro Fernandez in nets bringing particular cheer. Something which was repeated on Thursday. At least we can stick a few positives into that one.

In short, it’s going to be tough. It’ll be one heck of a trip and one raucous atmosphere. Away days are always the best, even if we have been shunted to late on in the weekend. Here’s hoping for a Sunday roast. Bring it on and see you there. 

Nick Bruzon

Was the boss really watching the same game as us? Did anyone impress?

4 Dec

Brentford head up to Leeds United on Sunday off the back of that 2-0 defeat at Tottenham. Spurs deserving of the win in a game where the Bees seemed very much on the back foot. Thomas Frank would use his press conference prior to that Leeds game to say, “I loved our approach; we were front-footed, we were aggressive, we were pressing forward and pressing high throughout the game. I love that we were brave and wanted to be on the ball.”

A first appearance since Covid tests for Jensen

Ok. That’s his view and respect for the opinion but we called it differently. Very differently. Did anyone display this high press at Tottenham? Who was brave? Who wanted to be on the ball more than Spurs and, as importantly, how? Well, the latest player analysis from that one is now online and can be found here.The good news being that there are positives to be found with some key players finding form and some new names troubling the charts to discover who will be the main men for Brentford over the course of 2021/21.

Enjoy. And see you at Leeds United.

Nick Bruzon

It wasn’t a dream. It isn’t (quite) a soap opera.

31 May

The morning after the morning after the night before. For a moment, I had to double check that Bobby Ewing hadn’t just walked out of our shower. No. We’re good. Instead, the closest we had was Kitman Bob and the players showering Instantgram with the most amazing post match pictures. Celebration, you say? The only Dallas nightmare Brentford have to worry about will be the chance to cross swords with Stuart at Leeds United once more. Southampton rather than Southfork the destination to plug in to the satnav. Supporters and staff clearly taking Thomas Frank’s post match directive not to think about Premier League and let’s just get drunk to heart. I think we’re now on Monday. It’s been long and hazy. It’s been immense. The realisation of what next season promises is only now sinking in. For Swansea City, a visit from newly promoted Blackpool (congratulations). For the Bees, it’ll be Leeds United, Wolves, Manchester United and all those other household names now having to park up at a bus stop in Hounslow.

Kitman Bob 1 Bobby Ewing 0

Never has it been a more exciting time to be a Brentford fan. The post-Preston spirit that saw supporters and players partying in the street and drinking together outside The Griffin as we celebrated reaching the Championship back in 2014 replicated, in part, up at Lionel Road. We’ve all seen the pictures on Kew Bridge (those not able to be present). Have all , I am sure, read the stories of the cup being brought in to the Express Tavern and other surrounding locales. West London has been buzzing. On fire. A powder keg of excitement that keep blowing up again and again. The local news donated by stories of the Bees.

Yesterday’s post match mood continuing with more time spent in the pub because, well, why wouldn’t you? We’ve only gone and made it into the Premier League. Besides, Thomas said we could.

Help was needed by Sunday evening

The phone hasn’t stopped going off. RSI from answering all the messages another thing to add to the list of unexpected top flight consequences that range from Brentford now being in the Panini sticker book to moving up a level on FIFA 22. Mixing it with Manchester United on screen aswell as on pitch. I’ve had more TV appearances than Billy Grant (ok, now we’re just being silly but apologies for those who caught the ITV News on Friday or Sunday). Most exciting of all for some, our League One and Championship rivalry with Wolves finally restored. 

Of all the big names, understandably, being bandied around that’s one in particular I am looking forward to. For those few years it felt as though we were joined at the hip. Slugging it out toe to toe and point for point in League One. The pair of us knocking the psychological stuffing out of Leyton Orient until we celebrated like we’d won the FA Cup. Bakary Sako’s Swarovski encrusted boots something we can now look back on and laugh at, in the nicest sense.

Both teams making it up together and then giving it our best in the Championship until the Molineux outfit hit the accelerator and have carved out their own new level of incredible form. A lot of friends were made along the way and that’s going to be a very special game.

Bakary Sako’s boots – this actually happened.

We all have our reasons of knowing which ones we’re looking forward to. For me, Leeds United for family reasons (Hi, Julian – you know who WILL be there with us) as much as on pitch ones. Dallas. Maupay. Maupay. Pontus. The memories are strong there. You can chuck Manchester United in to the mix aswell. Primarily, because of the 18 months I spent working in the city. For every ‘away’ trip to Bury or Rochdale was the opportunity of a midweek visit to Old Trafford, offered up as a result of having United supporting colleagues with spare Season Tickets.

Watching neutral football in such an arena is never quite the same and, from a personal note, there was still more passion watching Brentford playing up the road in Accrington. Bitter cold. Dire performance. But my team. Now, we’ll be able to face the Red Devils and use the vocal cords for real. Many of those I worked with then still in the North-West, still in touch and now people who it will be even more incredible to catch up with.

Come on Leeds. It WAS a penalty

I guess the next big date for the diary will be June 16th. That’s when the fixtures are published . The first games due to take place the weekend of August 14th. Between now and then, there’ll be plenty to look forward to. A kit launch. Perhaps a couple of very special guest contributors on these pages (the door is always open) if I can just tie up the footballing equivalent of Neighbours ‘Udagawa deal’.  A lot of squeaky bum time as transfer rumours will no doubt swirl around the club. Thankfully, the possibility of losing David, Rico, Josh, Ivan, Sergi, Ethan and all those other names linked with top flight clubs had we not made it has perhaps receded a bit. Here’s hoping. Certainly, Ivan’s post match speech gave huge encouragement that he will be going nowhere. A Premier League striker and part of the best dressing room he has ever experienced.

It is that team spirit and bond that has got us to where we are. Has brought us back from the cliff of that most devastating of blows this time last season. Missing out on the top flight at an empty Wembley. Fulham, of all clubs, taking the final spot in the Premier League and then tamely surrendering it. That’s their problem, of course. Now the opportunity is Brentford’s. The next few months are going to be the amongst the most exciting on record. The build up incredible. The thought of hearing Peter Gilham’s voice the first time we walk out at Lionel Road, one which like the Wolves fixture, I am looking forward to as much as anything else.

You couldn’t make it up. It’s the stuff of soap operas. But it’s true. It’s happening. Brentford are now in the top, top division. And its going to be soon.

Stuart Dallas – scorer of my favourite ever Bees goal (pre-Marcondes)

Nick Bruzon

Maupay does it again. What a way to celebrate. Again.

17 Jan

Life isn’t great at the moment. Not compared to normal. The relentless grind of Lockdown and ‘that’ virus. Games played out in empty stadia. Brentford not even able to take the field at the moment due to our own training ground being closed – albeit results have gone largely in our favour whilst we’ve been away – thanks, Luton.) Yet sitting at home yesterday afternoon there was a moment to put a smile on the face once more. Delivered in the game between Leeds United and Brighton c/o that king of shithousery, Neal Maupay. A cult hero at Griffin Park to rank alongside the best of them. 

We all loved Neal. No question. That goal and celebration at Fulham. The absolute dirt that went alongside his game. Cheeky digs. Sly tugs. A side to a Brentford player we’d not seen in a long, long time. Somebody you wouldn’t want to get close to, yet had that wonderful combination of mercurial talent combined with unpredictable volatilty. Err, what Aston Villa game? He was, rightly, lauded at Griffin Park. We’d have loved him to stay but we’ve all moved on. Our loss, Brighton’s gain. Had he stayed there’d have been no Ollie Watkins up front. Win-win.

The classic Neal image? Perhaps….

Yet, as we all know, his ultimate moment was up at Elland Road. Back in October 2018, with the scores locked at 0-0 in an early season Championship pacesetter, Ollie was brutally fouled (errr) by Leeds ‘keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Up stepped Neal to not only score from the spot but then celebrate in that quite wonderful style. Only he would have had the balls to take on the home contingent, arms aloft and fronting them out in the face of all manner of , understandable, abuse flying back. Cripes, had the boot been on the other foot we’d have been spewing. It was bad enough that the spot kick had been deemed questionable but this was then the ultimate indignity for the home support. A celebration to rank with the best of them and an iconic moment. 

It was a moment only bettered in the return fixture at Brentford when Neal scored again. Right in front of the away fans. He celebrated, again. Right in front of the away fans. Same pose, same stare, same abuse. Talk about king of wind up. The man has balls of steel. If anybody was looking to endear themselves to the home support then here it was. Griffin Park erupted. If it wasn’t possible to love him anymore, then here was the opportunity to do so. 

Then, Brighton came knocking and we went our separate ways. That’s football. Neal is still a fixture in my life – even if just through the medium of Fantasy Football. Then, yesterday, at Leeds United, it all came flooding back. He scored for Brighton. The Seagulls 1-0 up. The only thing missing being supporters to see the goal live. 

No matter. This is Maupay. This was Leeds. This is the man who lives for the moment. And sure enough, he did. He celebrated in the only way he knew how. Despite the fact there was nobody there to wind up. Oh, we all knew how much this meant. And it was brilliant. Never have I enjoyed a goal in a different division for a club I don’t even support so much. This one was all about the man, the moment and the place. What a way to liven up an otherwise desperate Saturday.

Thank you, Neal. Thank you for doing this.

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

23 Sep

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

Sergi amongst those to feel the Forss

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

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

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

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

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

‘That’ BIC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon 

Thank you Huddersfield. What happens now after a fantastic Friday?

18 Jul

Oh my word. Feeling ok this morning Brentford fans? Did you sleep? How are the heads? Today could be immense. The door IS now open. The game at Stoke City no longer one about keeping pace with West Bromwich Albion but, all of a sudden, we’ve been handed the chance to overtake them. Their defeat at Huddersfield Town last night offering up the chance for us to join Leeds United in the Premier league. Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe the post match celebrations last night. Caution and potential the feeling this morning.

Huddersfield Town were immense. Their 2-1 victory earned in the most high pressure of situations. An early lead only adding to the pressure being felt in TW8 as it looked like 86 minutes of backs to the wall defence would follow. The stress levels already through the roof bwhen the Baggies equalised just before half time. Their goal looked a mile offside but all protests were in vain. The dream of an unlikely loss nice whilst it had lasted but surely there was only one winner from here? The Teriers hung on. Half time came and went. The second period being chipped away in five minute increments. The drive from West Brom relentless. It was only a matter of time before they broke through the last line of defence. 

I’ve never enjoyed a game less. At least, with Brentford, you know the players. You know who is who and what could come from a situation. Relief can be taken from confidence in whomever is on the ball. Watching a team of what, to us, were relative strangers there was no idea whether it had just been passed to a Bryan Mbeumo or a Nick Proschwitz. Was that the Huddersfield Town equivalent of Ollie Watkins looking for the ball or Murray Jones ? It was horrible. Angst unlike any I’ve ever known. The clock moving slower than Neil Shipperly. The goal for the visitors only a matter of time.

Drinks break was reached. The score still level. The inhaler clasped close to my chest. It was awful. Awful. And probably more because we could see Huddersfield getting closer to earning us the unlikely draw that would finally offer Brentford the opportunity to overtake West Bromwich Albion. Football can be cruel at times. Teasing us like this before the inevitable goal that broke our hearts. Then it came. Nature called.

I had to go. 86 minutes gone and the push from the bladder could be contained no longer. The relative safety of my lucky seat had to be abandoned before it became a commode. And on return, the most impossible thing had happened. Huddersfield Town were ahead. Oh. My. Word? How? Who got it? Frankly, who cares? The only thing that mattered was the ball in the back of the net. Amazing.

Six minutes of time added on dragged even slower than the previous 90 but the Terriers held firm. They got the points that have ensured survival and offered Brentford a most incredible lifeline. For that, we can only say a huge THANK YOU. Now it is West Brom who have matters outside their control. Destiny is in our hands. Put simply, four points from the next two games will see Brentford in the Premier League.

That’s the exciting part.The theoretical part. The incredible opportunity that we have absolutely earned following win after win after win. The moment one which was very much enjoyed last night. Putting ourselves in the box seat is the first part. Now, there’s the small matter of doing it all again. Of looking to make this 9 wins in a row. And Stoke City aren’t going to make this any easier than Town did last night. We have the chance to turn the screw but can we do it?

Right. Cards on the table time. Unquestionably yes, we can and I truly believe we will. The Bees have been relentless in recent weeks and I expect this to continue. The experience of Pontus will, of course, be invaluable. His will to win evident. His desire infectious. But around him are young charges who are chock full of confidence. Of talent. We win from the front. We come from behind. Without being arrogant, we know how good we can be when we put our minds to it. Recent results have shown that. This is a cup final but, fortunately, one not being played out at Wembley. that said, don’t even begin to imagine the stress levels on Wednesday if Stoke do end the game with something…

DSC06308

Captain Pontus – key to the spine of the team

We won’t win just by turning up. We won’t get anything by assuming we’ve a divine right to the points. This is about as high pressure a situation as they come. Yet, at the same time, the most incredible chance has been afforded us. West Bromwich Albion have been in the top two since October. The second the game kicks off today, Brentford will overtake them in the ‘As it stands’ table by virtue of a goal difference that is 12 better than the Baggies. Whether we are still there 90 minutes later is the big ask.

It won’t be easy. It probably won’t be fun. But if anyone can motivate his team to do it then Thomas Frank is that man. Roll on 12.30pm. I can’t wait for this.

 Of course, before we conclude it is only right and proper to offer congratulations to Leeds and their quite wonderful fanbase after attaining promotion to the Premier League. The top flight will be all the better for having a club of their stature back amongst the elite of British football. They’ve had a bit of a wobble but, for once, there was no falling apart. Again. Now, they are free from playing tinpot pub teams and will line up against the best in the land. Visiting the likes of Old Trafford rather than Bus Stops in London.

Before all that starts they’ve got two games left to put their feet up, give the kids a run out and even let Bielsa take a turn between the sticks. With only one other team, Brentford, able to stop them lifting the title there’s no way that six point gap can be reeled in. Is there? 

Screenshot 2020-07-18 at 08.16.00

Looking at the BBC table this morning….

Nick Bruzon