Tag Archives: Leeds

Here’s hoping a change in garb sees a change in form.

19 Oct

Phew. We’re back. International break has been and gone in a cloud of mixed results (England going down to Czech Republic and Gibraltar almost pulling off the mother of all come backs against Georgia) aswell as those awful ‘off-field’ scenes in Bulgaria. Domestically, Brentford have officially launched the special shirt that will be worn today at home to Millwall whilst Leeds United have followed suit with their centenary effort for the visit of Birmingham City. Something that is as stylish as it is impressive – mainly because it sees them kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon rather than at a time dictated by their Sky Sports overlords.

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Today is the day

First up, Griffin Park. Obviously. It seems an eternity since the 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest. Thank goodness. Primarily because it was about as turgid a performance as it is possible to see. From both sides. The teams were set up to cancel each other out and boy did they do that. A defensive glitch seeing the hosts take their chance when it came in an encounter that really put the stale into stalemate. 

The only lasting memory to take from that one being the long-term knee injury suffered by Sergi Canos. Boooo. That’ll happen though when the man-in-the-middle offers no protection to anybody and leaves his cards back in the Forest changing room. Urghh. Referees. Still, at least with Stuart Attwell at the helm today, we can be sure of quality decision making and consistency from the man in black. 

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Man in black, assuming he runs out in the traditional grab of course. Who could forget that it is Brentford rather than Millwall who are the ones who will be in blue today? The reason for that being to mark our first-ever victory at Griffin Park, back in October 1904. The 2-0 win agasit Millwall Athletic being the first time the Bees had genuinely deserved to win a home game and the shirt being worn today is designed to pay homage to that occassion. Let’s hope its not the last time we win a home game prior to leaving for Lionel Road at the end of the season.

Whatever your thoughts on this one (and I DO love it), it seems to have made rapid progress off the shelves. The limited edition boxes that came with the initial orders have already cleared out as fans pick up this uber-smart, and sponsor free, variant on our home colours.

For those baulking at the price (£60 for an adult shirt) look positive – at least it isn’t the £149 that Leeds United have charged supporters for their own centenary effort to be worn in today’s game against Birmingham City. My word, it IS lovely but that’s a sum of money even yours truly would have had to say no to. HOW can they justify it? How can fans afford it? I couldn’t. You could buy three or four away tickets at Elland Road for that price. Yet, the limited run of 1919 sold out in minutes and is now retailing on eBay for anything between £400-£2000. Not that they have any bids but at some point somebody will crack. Possibly.  

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Good luck with that…

Still, we digress. Back in West London, we’ll be facing a Millwall side who no longer have Neil Harris in charge following the manager’s shock resignation at the beginning of the month. He is a man as linked with the Lions as Harchester United and that toe-curling ‘run out’ song / goal music about jellied eels i.e. intrinsically. 

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Harchester United – did ‘The Den’ proud.

As such, his departure was news that caught everybody cold. The club moved quickly to put Adam Barrett, who had initially joined as a first team development coach, into the caretaker’s hot seat.

True to form in such situations, he immediately recorded a win – against Leeds United of all teams. Yet with the ‘caretaker first game victory’ out of the way (a result as predictable as Brentford in the play-offs or the curse of  ‘manager-of-the-month) , does this now open things up for us?

Whilst we are missing our talismanic Spaniard, the Lions have their own headaches. The first of which being the absence of goalkeeper Frank Fielding, injured in the aforementioned game with Leeds. As a Bees fan, I’m shedding no tears here – he’s quality. Except, perhaps, in that it means we’ve one less chance to pull the Big Book of Middlesex Chronicle 80’s alliteration from the shelf. Fielding foiling us from a free kick being one  line that can’t be used today.

The big question being who is going to be pulling the trigger today? If not from dead balls then certainly open play? 7(seven) goal Ollie Watkins, pressed into a role as emergency front man but filling his boots in the Championship goal scorer charts? Or more traditional striker Nikos Karelis? Nick the Greek yet to start a game since joining the Bees but now starting to put in the appearances from the bench as he picks up fitness. 

We love Ollie in our house. Almost as much as Sergi and Pontus. Personally speaking, I’m well happy if he continues in this position and I fully expect he will. However, it is genuinely intriguing to see what Nikos might do when given a bit more than a fifteen minute cameo to chase a game. Is he the next Neal Maupay? Might he be another Nick Proschwitz ? (yes, that DID happen). Or is he just emergency cover until Halil Dervisoglu rocks up in January? Whichever way he goes, there’s only one way to find out and that’s not by getting splinters in your arse. Roll on that moment of returning to full fitness so he can have a decent stab at seeing which way this one will transpire.

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Here’s to a few more of these later today

Elsewhere, the time away from these pages has seen Euro 2020 qualifiers dominate the headlines. England went down in the Czech Republic but put matters right against Bulgaria a few days later, coming one short of administering the brackets that go with a 7(seven) goal scoreline. As we are all well aware however, the result is the last thing anybody will remember from this game. The stomach turning sight and sounds of fascism and racism from the home support being images that are indelibly engrained on the memory.

Nobody needs a lecture from me on this – and you aren’t going to get one. We ALL know how vile this is whilst the way English conducted themselves does need to be applauded. Next stop, UEFA. And FIFA. Will the authorities have the balls to actually do something credible for once? Or will it be yet another pointless slap on the wrist? I pray for the former and fear the latter. Let’s see what happens…

On a more positive finish, Gibraltar lost in their qualifying group. Again. However, much as in the narrow 1-0 defeat to Republic of Ireland, it was a game that saw them playing out of their skin to come ‘oh so close’ against higher ranked opponents. This time, the visitors were Georgia who despite racing in to a 2-0 first half lead, saw parity restored before snatching a late, late winner at the Runway end of the Victoria Stadium. 

Yet rather than heartbreak for the boys for The Rock, it was a performance that should be viewed with immense positivity. Primarily because it was one of the most attacking displays I’ve seen them put in . Rather than ten men behind the ball and a series of stat building sideways/backwards passes, they pushed forward. With intent. The second period in particular seeing them put in a shift that caused even Mrs. Bruzon to note ‘They’re faster than Brentford’. I’m taking that as a compliment . Even at 3-2 down, they kept going and almost rescued a Euro 2020 Group D qualifying point.

It wasn’t to be, this time. It’s coming though. From small acorns…..

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Two Chipolinas. There’s only two Chipolinas. (and two Casciaros, two Hernandez’…)

Nick Bruzon

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Will Sunday Service resume? Have faith in our boys. Whoever they are.

29 Sep

Here we go. 7am Sunday morning and Brentford fans are beginning the trip to Barnsley. Personally, it’s a journey too far for yours truly. This one was covered off yesterday but, in summary, was a decision ratified the exact same second the people at Sky Sports Leeds decided to move us to a lunchtime kick off. That’s football these days and things could be worse. We might be suffering the vagaries of VAR being experienced by those teams a division up. With a rare period of Saturday sofa time able to be enjoyed yesterday, it was an excruciating afternoon of stop-start football as game after game was delayed (Aston Villa and Bournemouth providing the prime examples)  for this much maligned analysis of wafer thin decisions that would have been otherwise imperceptible to the human eye.

Choose your own VAR graphic

Still, at the moment any hope of being caught up in VAR frustration is a nice dream to have. First priority has to be getting back to winning ways. Brentford haven’t had as strong a start as hoped for, certainly given the way we finished last season, and two wins from our opening eight games isn’t form to set the world on fire. We’ve looked wonderful in places. Abject in others.

The decision to sell Neal Maupay was a huge one, no matter how much this was out of our hands (ahh, the joy of agents), which we’ve been slowly adjusting to. Said Benrahma missed a significant period out recovering from injury although is now back and itching to prove his invaluable role in this team. We’ve also been short of two midfield giants. Romaine Sawyers is currently top of the league at West Brom whilst Kamo has had to be content with a place on the bench following his own return and recovery time from an extended African Cup of Nations over the summer. 

Players need to recharge, of course, but I cannot wait to see him back in regular action. He was immense last season and surely, today, is the perfect opportunity for Thomas to shuffle his pack? If there is to be a switch in line up after three games unchanged then his is the obvious name. I’d love to see him start this one, although would be intrigued as to who makes place?

Likewise, it’s probably a bit too soon for Nikos Karelis to be starting a game although I’d expect him to put in an appearance from the bench at some point. We all know how well Ollie Watkins has done in adjusting to his new role but one can’t help felling it is only a short term positional change until we have a more traditional centre forward available. Then again, this is Brentford so who knows.

I had a message from an observer on the New Road last night that simply read ‘4-4-2’.

For a moment I thought he was live-scoring with the Strictly Come Dancing judges but after a moments reflection I questioned two things. 1) How did he know I was watching Strictly? I wasn’t, for the record. Just happened to be in the room at the same time as Mrs. Bruzon had it on TV. 2) It was actually his own suggestion of formation at Barnsley but would we ever go this far? 

Not a hope. There’s more chance of me watching ‘Strictly’. Something that hasn’t happened since the exact same second their best, ever, competitor in Judy Murray was voted off. The show has been dead to me since that moment. Nobody could reach the level she attained, although David James gave it a mighty fine stab last night and deserves to be booted out just for the gratuitous amount of chest hair on display. Not that I was watching. 

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Safer with Anton than David. Don’t drop….

See also: Wagner being kicked out of the X-Factor. Not one of all those to follow in the illustrious footsteps of the (apparent) singer or dancer has come even half way close to emulating their efforts. If you are going to take part in these trials by TV then at least do it in style. As these two did.

You’ll be doing well to find a better moment than Anton du Beke precariously slinging Judy around a ballroom or Wagner making the effortless segue from ‘She Bangs’ to ‘Love Shack’ whilst positioning himself behind a giant pair of bongo drums.

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Love shack, baby…. Better than a 0-0 v Stoke City

But we digress. Radically. The point being that Brentford won’t play anything as traditional as a 4-4-2 line up. No matter what prediction has been made by my fellow fan. So it’s Ollie or Nikos to start and, of course, it will be Watkins out of those two. Instead, any line up change will likely be in midfield with the rest of the team pretty much picking itself. Is there room for Nørgaard, Jensen and Mokotjo in the centre? Could any change to accommodate the South African come elsewhere? Or does Thomas keep faith with the team that destroyed Derby County but then struggled to break through against Preston and Stoke City?

One thing’s for sure, don’t take the advice of the numpty if you are looking for tactical insight. As we know full well, Brentford make a habit of constantly surprising us. On and off the pitch. Three games with a settled team is lovely but with a squad chock full of new and familiar faces, could something give when the referee gets proceedings underway at Oakwell? Roll on the 12.30pm team announcement (or 12.32pm on ‘official’) when we find out.

For those travelling to Barnsley, hats off and well done. It is a supreme effort when the game is, of course, available on BBC Radio London DAB or Sky Sports. The later of which is also being shown in the shadow of our own stadium at The Griffin pub.

Billy Reeves, Claire & Gerhard or Simon & Billy (Grant). Whoever you spend your afternoon with, enjoy the game. Win, lose or draw the season remains young and the table is still forming. There’s a LONG way to go in this campaign. Leeds United started at 100mph but things have started falling apart and the Elland Road outfit have dropped from 1st to 4th after picking up 4 points from the last possible 12 available. Beat Barnsley today and we’ll be on better form than Bielsa’s boys following our own 4 from the last 9.

Leeds will come good again. As will we. Starting today. I’m hugely confident about this one and am calling it now……. Away win.

The online bookmaker I use for research purposes also agrees and has us as ‘odds on’ favourites (marginally) at 19/20. Whilst not a game to bet the mortgage on, I take confidence in their faith. Let’s hope Sunday service is resumed at Oakwell.

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Let’s hope Brentford are more competitive today

Nick Bruzon

A positive end to an awful week. Can we go one better today?

31 Aug

Normality returns today. Kind of. Brentford host Derby County at Griffin Park having reached the end of a week that saw Bury expelled from the football league and Bolton Wanderers narrowly avoid the same fate. We’ve updated TV news, with the 237 derby game at Loftus Road seeing us becoming a diet version of Sky Sports Leeds (that’s two appearances in as many months for us)  and there was the brilliance from Brentford ‘official’ on Twitter yesterday. Have they done their best ever tweet?

First up, the visit from Frank Lampard’s former club, Frank Lampard’s Derby County. Or just Derby County as we can thankfully call them once more. That really was getting tedious. Say what you want about the Rams but they came so close last time . There was the wonderful turn around against Leeds United as the Elland Road side fell apart, again, in the play-off semi before suffering the ultimate pain. They could only look on as John Terry lifted the winner’s trophy high into the Wembley sky and Aston Villa reached the Premiership.

That end of season agony has continued this time around. Whilst Leeds have picked themselves up and gone again, and Villa have now recorded their first top flight points under Dean Smith, things haven’t been quite so easy for Derby. Like the Bees, they’ve only picked up one win so far and that was against hapless Huddersfield Town. Both clubs find themselves in the bottom third of the fledgling table and will, obviously, be keen to record the win that sees things heading back up in the direction they are more accustomed to.

The news is positive. For Brentford. FloJo is set to miss out for out guests, as does Bogle. We’ve the potential return of Said Benrahma to the starting XI whilst there’s a chance for our first look at new striker Nikoloas Karelis. He looks an absolute unit – and that’s just from the picture on the squad page – so it will be interesting to see how he fits in as the meat in the sandwich of our always impressive wide men.

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Karelis – the meat in a wide man sandwich

Even better though, word on the street reaches me that Buzzette is set to return. Whilst, of course, she has been present this season it is just that. Being present. The normal spring in the step and enthusiastic dancing have been somewhat lacking. With it, the team’s fortunes have been on the down turn. Has she been carrying an undisclosed injury? Perhaps struggling with a protracted summer holiday? Either way, I gather her coach has had a word, she’s been declared fully fit and back to normal so we can once more expect to see her busting those inspirational moves, throwing shapes and doing whatever else it is the kids do as the discotheque.

Away from Griffin Park, I’m at a loss for what to say about the Bury / Bolton situation. From the impotent handling of matters by the EFL through to their apparent willingness to let one our our oldest clubs go to the wall, it has been heartbreaking. Gigg Lane was the first away ground I visited, back in the 80s, and was a journey I always looked to make whenever possible. Seeing this play out has been agonising.

I’m just an onlooker – once can’t begin to even imagine the pain that their supporters and staff are going through right now. It’s shameful that it was allowed to get this far and then play out in such a crushing denouement. All we’ve been left with is a dead club and the footballing equivalent of Donald Trump offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ after a mass shooting.

The only positives, if there can be any, from this shameful situation are that, at least, Bolton are still with us. That does then lead to whole host of further questions to the EFL as to how one club can be given a further extension but not the other. And it is where we get the other news, which I read this morning. Bury aren’t giving up and there is an interesting piece on the BBC in regards to potential legal action, given the way that the final nail was driven into their coffin. There is talk of additional bids being ignored, amongst other things. It is well worth a read and can be found here.

The whole situation is all the more ironic given the amounts of money being pumped into the higher level of the game by Sky, amongst others. Their own decision to rebrand an articifical ‘deadline day’ with ticking countdown clock was a shameful one and , rightly, came in for criticism from all quarters. Dignity? Respect? Who needs them when there’s a joke angle that can be had at the expense of people’s livelihoods and a club’s very existence? 

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Stay classy, Sky.

And now they’ve gone and picked us for TV. We’re already on at Barnsley in late September. Make that twice in successive months with the rematch against Mark Warburton, Yoann Barnet and QPR has been moved to Monday 28 October. You can understand why. Any history aside, there are sure to be goals in this now with Barbet currently shipping penalties for fun this season. His ‘go again’ key getting a right hammering at present. Although knowing us, it’ll be the fans in the upper tier returning any spot kick rather than the not so super-hoops’ goalkeeper ! Come on lads, prove me wrong.    

There was a positive end to the week. At least on social media where ‘official’ are definitely finding their feet after the never forgotten shame of #trophyfriends. Friday’s 4-1 humping of QPR in a U-23 game was most notable for our second goal. The prolific A. Trialist, a player who has had more clubs than former Bee Steve Claridge, popped up to head home from Ali Coote. This, in a move which began form a short corner (not a typo).     

So it was all the better when ‘official’ got in on the act, with one of those goal gifs/memes ( I never know which is which) made popular by Bristol City. Who needs comedy acting when you have comedy word kits. Magnificent. I want one.

Great work all round. See you in the club shop at lunchtime. 

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A Trialist. From a short corner. What’s not to love?

Nick Bruzon

No falling apart, this time, as shrewd loanees help the hosts.

22 Aug

There’s not much to say, really. Congratulations Leeds United after a rare victory over Brentford last night. A 1-0 win at Elland Road returned the home side to the top of the Championship table after a game that could have gone either way. But didn’t. Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah’s late strike via Wolves loanee Helder Costa was the ultimate difference between the two sides. It was a game where Bees new boy Bryan Mbuemo came within a lick of paint from seeing his first half strike find the back of the net from the inside of  the post and substitute Saïd Benrahama could have levelled things at the death. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Leeds failed to fall apart. Instead, we must focus on another road (and river) trip this Saturday with Charlton (a) next on the agenda.

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The only stat that counts. Sadly.

Brentford started this one on top. The view afforded via the Sky Sorts smudge vision option saw us dominant in the opening period but chances were at a premium despite possession. Oh, for a pound every time that phrase were used. The aforementioned Mbuemo effort about as close as it got, the wideman shooting from outside the edge of the box and across the face of the goal only to see his shot beat ‘keeper Casilla before bouncing back across the six yard box via the edge of the back stick. Half time came with the hosts finding their feet and the chance of a break in the action probably a welcome one for Thomas Frank.

Yet instead of allowing us to pick up the pace once more, the second period began as the first had ended. Leeds on the front foot and the Bees hanging on. It was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened. The game had that feeling about it and, sure enough, with less than ten minutes to go the net rippled. Nketiah making no mistake from close in after Costa’s wonderful run and cross. Inch perfect box delivery to rival the pizzas being eaten on our couch as this one unfolded (although not from a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford Lock). Hey, there has to be some compensation for missing out on seeing this one live.

That the move for the goal started with a clear foul on Benrahma was almost a moot point. There was still plenty enough time to stop the rampaging Leeds hordes but the pace of Costa and the positional awareness of Nketiah proved vital. It was a finish akin to Sergi and Ollie at Middlesbrough and showed how well Marcelo Bielsa has played the loan market. Being able to take players from Premiership Arsenal and Wolves certainly paying dividends for a team whose record in the Championship is now WDWW. 

It was disappointing more than anything else as on a different night we could easily have had a point. It wasn’t that Leeds were streets ahead but they took their chance whilst the longer the game went on the more it felt as though they were in control. Saïd could have taken the point late on but blazed over. It wasn’t to be and there are no sour grapes.  Besides, you’ve likely seen it all by now and, if not, the main action is up on the Sky website. We don’t particularly do match reports on these pages and there’s always the likes of the BBC, Beesotted or ‘official’ if you want any greater analysis. By which I mean any analysis.

I’m not sure what else to say at this juncture. One could take pleasure for another defeat suffered by QPR. Another penalty given away by Yoann Barbet. Another season where we are already ahead of the hapless hoops.  But with Fulham already up into the top three, let’s adopt the philosophy that with the table in fledgling state we need a good ten games before it is deemed to have ‘fully formed’. It is a mantra I have long stuck to and see no reason to change this time around.

Four games in is far too early to know who are the whipping boys and who are looking good for a fast track to the top flight. Besides, last season proved that running away with things early means nothing if the wheels fall off at the death. Just ask Leeds.

Instead, it’s Charlton next. They are currently unbeaten but the trip to The Valley is usually a wonderful occasion. A full house is guaranteed by the visiting fans with the short hop across London on a hot day something that will be enjoyed by all. Hopefully, we’ll be feeling the same at 5pm…..

See you there.

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Hopefully the result will be better on Saturday

Nick Bruzon  

It would be fair to say that things are never dull.

20 Aug

Brentford travel to Elland Road on Wednesday evening for a game that is sure to be played out against a rich backdrop of recent history. Even if it is one in which the main protagonists have both since moved on. Neal Maupay has left Brentford for Brighton. Pontus Jansson has left Leeds United for the Bees. The question is now one of whether we can continue our fine record against Marcelo Bielsa and his boys. A record which saw us moments away from picking up two wins last season but, instead, having to be content with a ‘mere’ four power points following the late, late equaliser scored by Jansson back in October.

History is history, of course. Yet it does present an interesting, if brief, retrospective. We demolished Leeds at Griffin Park to railroad their rapidly diminishing promotion chances. To borrow a line from the song at the time. “Leeds. Leeds are falling apart. Again.”  We almost picked up the win on our travels, but for that 88th minute goal. There was the penalty (definite), the celebrations, both of them, from Neal Maupay. The post match reaction of Pontus himself which saw the player charged by the FA  (as were the club , home supporters throwing objects at our number 9) after accusing the referee of ‘robbery’ and saying on live TV that the result felt a bit ‘shit’.  There was even that wonderful talk of conspiracy as United’s seemingly unstoppable start to the season began to hit the buffers. Copy. Paste. Return.

Yes, it would be fair to say that things are never dull when our teams meet.

But whilst history is nice, and it is, things move on. Past form is not a guarantee of current performance. Leeds United have started like a runaway train – as they always seem to do – topping the nascent table after three games and 7(seven) points. Only Charlton can match them, even if Brentford sit just 3 points behind. There’s no way Leeds will choke it again, is there…..?

Well, looking at the immediate short term i.e this fixture, the bookies have the home side as 3/5 odds on favourites with Thomas Frank’s team out there on 4/1 to pick up the points. Whether that form and that favouritism continues throughout the campaign depends on when Leeds decide to start treading on their annual potato skin. As a general observation, August is far too early for that to happen. Especially when they are up against, and score a point for each of these you see on Wednesday: tinpot Brentford, teams like Brentford, pub side, little club…..  

I would say this does also seem the exception to the rule these days. I’d also say that when we’ve hit the early peaks this season we have looked sublime. Consistency is , of course, the key for Thomas. The first half against Birmingham and the denouement of the Hull City game were both magnificent. We perhaps rode our luck a tad up at Middlesbrough, at least in the opening period, but took a wonderful three points in the end.

Ollie and Sergi have both started at 100mph. Pontus looks imperious at the back. The midfield is developing solidity and then there’s Benrahma. The fleet footed Algerian wing-wizard is back. I can’t expect him to start on Wednesday, it’s been too long, but the brief cameo afforded to supporters at the weekend had the fans leaving Griffin Park with spirits high. More of the same would do very nicely, thank you.

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Pontus – now a Bee.

The other question, team selection aside, is just who can travel to this one? With adult tickets at £37 in advance and no trains home after full time, this promises to be a costly exercise. With Sky TV continuing their red button coverage for midweek fixtures there is an understandable alternative. Yet it is a game which promises to be a real treat for those fortunate enough to be travelling. I can’t even pretend to be amongst their ranks this time out. Sadly. Hats off to those who have found the time and the finances to make this a viable prospect. 

And those who have should read the away travel guide on ‘official’ . Whilst, normally, it isn’t one that troubles the statisticians I have had a look this morning to see if the £42 ‘pay on the day’ option is available. Not, it seems. But what I did discover was the wonderful dead pan line:  Finding Drysalters requires fans to pass the Old Peacock pub, a staunch home supporters’ pub, which is not recommended for travelling support.

Good luck with that. Good luck everyone. Especially to Thomas Frank and the team. It won’t be easy but it will be fun. And I can’t wait. Even if this time it is from the comfort of the sofa.

Nick Bruzon

Bees and Tigers share points in the proverbial game of two halves.

18 Aug

Brentford 1 Hull City 1. Whilst it wasn’t the 5-1 trashing of last season, the finish to this one was as exciting as the previous time these two teams had come together. Something all the more pleasing as it had started with all the excitement and enjoyability at a studio recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. Yet in the end, Ollie Watkins and Julian Jeanvier came within inches of giving Thomas Frank a second league win on the bounce following last Saturday’s despatch of Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough.  

There was good news from the off. Kamo and Said Benrahama named as available, albeit having to be content with a place on the bench. Bryan Mbuemo starting. As did Christian Nørgaard in the centre.  Yet if the announcement of the team had us salivating, the mood dipped with a first half performance that both teams may aswell have been dialled in from last Thursday. Chances were at a premium and that’s the polite version. The moment Mbuemo left his man for absolute dead and pointing the wrong way was a crown jewel atop an otherwise staid opening period. 

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View from The Braemar… Mbuemo does his thing.

Yet as at Middlesbrough, the second half saw Brentford crank it up. Even if we did concede the opener. Jarod Bowen being given the freedom of the penalty box to fire home and give Hull City the lead on 52. It wasn’t pretty defending and looked worse on the highlights but at the same time proved the catalyst  for the Bees to wake up and start playing as we know they can.

Thomas Frank shuffled the pack and went for a Plan B. The defensive switch from three centre backs saw the midfield boosted. Josh Dasilva and that man Benrahma coming on to a heroes welcome in a seventieth minute double substitution. Little more than 60 seconds later and we were level. Sergi Canos performing wonders down the right hand side to place an inch perfect pass through to Ollie Watkins. The timing was magnificent. The calls for offside ignored. The goal stood as he swept home to joyful response from all around Griffin Park. 

Sergi has begun this season on fire. Ollie has his second goal in as many games. It could have been a third. Just moments later but for a quite wonderful save from Hull ‘keeper Long. Both teams pushed on and pushed up. Benrahma not quite fully fit but still had the crowd on their feet with every surging run. With every bit of trickery. The smile on his face returning although, if anything, he was perhaps guilty of trying to hard. His time will come and what a welcome return. Mbuemo grew into the game and it was great to see  Christian Nørgaard in action. 

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But despite all the attacking intent on display as the game reached a gripping denouement, it was the post (officially, but looked like a fine save to me)  that kept Brentford in it following a fiercely fired free kick from Kamil Grosicki taken deep in the heart of Saunders territory (with thanks to the Middlesex Chronicle big book of 80’s alliteration). But the with the clock ticking onwards, we had our own chance. A beautiful cross onto the head of Julian Jeanvier with the goal gaping. Surely? Surely?? Surely??? Nooooooo!!!  If anything he headed it too well and angled his effort just past the post when straight into the back of the net would have produced the necessary outcome. 

It was an afternoon where football was played in a good spirit and even the players got in on the humour. There’s no-where to hide at Griffin Park, as Hull’s Kingsley discovered upon hearing the shout “You’re not Kingsley. There’s only one Kingsley….” He turned to confront the Braemar Road with an angry scowl on his face before the shout continued… “and he’s got spikey yellow hair”.  Cue the look of confusion turning into a smile of appreciation. At least, I hope that’s what it was. 

It was also an afternoon where I thought we were somewhat unlucky in the end, even if Hull manager Grant McCann did feel that “I think we deserved to win the game. I’ve seen it back and their goal is a yard offside. It’s really disappointing at this level to get a decision like that wrong.”. Hmmm. Perhaps upon review he may feel differently. Ollie’s goal WAS tight but it was onside.

Deserving to win is as false a concept as the possibility of a joke appearing in an episode of Mrs. Browns Boys. The Bees had their chances but couldn’t quite take them. There was no ill-will directed towards the team. This is still a group of players finding their feet together and adjusting to life after Maupay. Leeds United are next up and that one’s only going to be wonderful. Assuming you can afford the £37 away ticket prices. I have no doubt there’ll be plenty of scores to settle from the Elland Road side following the events of last season and, of course, the acquisition of our own new captain over the summer.

Enjoy that one. For now, time to regroup and reflect on the positives

Nick Bruzon

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View from the Braemar. Captain Pontus cools down

Thomas the frank engine aiming for full steam ahead against Hull.

17 Aug

It’s time for Brentford to exorcise the memory of the League Cup. With Hull City set to visit Griffin Park on Saturday afternoon, thoughts will be along the lines of last week at Middlesbrough or last season’s 5-1 thrashing of The Tigers rather than the midweek draw with Cambridge United. That one’s been and gone. Ground that has been covered and no real tears shed. Move along, nothing to see here. We can concentrate on the league etc etc. No bad thing given the tough run of fixtures now upon us with Leeds United away on Wednesday and then the trip to Charlton next weekend.

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Brentford were head and shoulders above Hull last season

First things first. Today. Like Brentford, Hull have picked up three points from their opening fixtures following a win (Reading) and a defeat (Swansea City). Two games in, the nascent state of the table makes it impossible to get a genuine fix on who is in with a chance of going up, who are dead certs for the drop and who is going to be the recipient of the annual Leeds United choke award. Presumably, Leeds United for that last one. So it really is a journey in to the unknown for Brentford and as much for Thomas Frank on his team selection.

He named an unchanged side to the one that somehow lost the season opener to Birmingham City for the subsequent trip to Middlesbrough. Whilst we may have ridden our luck early into that one, nobody who saw it could deny how we grew into the game. The wonderful way we took the lead with Sergi and Ollie combining magnificently for the goal (kudos to Emiliano Marcondes, too, for luring the entire Boro’ defence out of position) and then closed it out with some comfort. Thomas was purring like a kitten at full time and understandably so. 

That said, he now has more players with time under their belts. That being one positive to come from the performance against Cambridge United. And with a busy week to come (those trips to Leeds and Charlton await) could changes come? Thomas used his press conference to confirm that Ethan Pinnock was doubtful, Kamo and Norgaard need to be assessed whilst Said is getting closer and closer. How good will it be to have any combination of those players available for selection ?  

Talking about last season’s 5-1, he was quick to recognise the performance but not dwell on it. Instead, calling it a “New game. New history  although going on to add that , “so we never know what is going to happen but the aim for us is for us to dominate and play with intensity.  Positive sounding for sure, in an interview packed with talk of attacking intent and maintaining the performance for the entire game. You can see that one here….

Thomas, frank

Whilst the 5-1 may now be deemed history, the BBC match preview does give some very telling statistics. You can see the full piece here but the one that really grabbed me were the facts that the Bees have allowed our opponents just 15 touches in their box in their first two Championship matches. That’s six fewer than any other team. If any evidence was needed of the immediate impact being made by Pontus Jansson and the new look defence then here it is. I still maintain that picking him up from Leeds Untied was the Championship signing of the season.

The evidence to date has been quite telling. The skill, the passion, the heart on the sleeve, the armband being immediately awarded. His reaction on pitch after Birmingham and on social media after Middlesbrough tells you all you need to know about his attitude. Magnificent. Elland Road on Wednesday could be fun 🙂  

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View from the Braemar – Captain Jansson has impressed.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. All that’s to come and there are more pressing matters at hand. If nothing else, the question of what kit the visitors will turn up in. Their magnificent Umbro home shirt with the return of the Tiger strip design ? Or the new third kit that was launched this week? Something the club describe as  a contemporary design in deep lagoon, accompanied by medieval blue shorts. Hats off to Umbro, as with the Bees they’ve designed some stunners this season. 

Nice though it is, here’s hoping that it’s the performance rather than the shirts we’re drooling over today. Wit the weather set fair and blue skies already over Griffin Park, the conditions should be perfect. I can’t wait for this one. See you there.

Which will we get this afternoon? Home or third?

Nick Bruzon

Strap yourselves in. Here we go…..

3 Aug

Dear Gary Lineker and the Match Of The Day team. The football season has started. Whilst you’ll likely be telling us next weekend that the beautiful game is back when the top flight kicks off in anger, things are already underway in some style. Last night saw the goalkeeping calamity that was the 3-3 between Luton Town and Middlesbrough then this afternoon we have the small matter of Brentford v Birmingham City at Griffin Park as the Championship opens in style. Fulham travel to Barnsley and QPR are at Stoke as we once more enjoy the side-battle of seeing who is the best team in West London at this level. There’s the obligatory Leeds United TV game on Sunday before we round things off with the visit of Frank Lampard’s former club Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™ to Huddersfield Town. As importantly, North of the border there’s a cry for help from my pal Kinglsey at Partick Thistle as he takes on Gunnersaurus (Arsenal) in the final of the Mascot World Cup. 

Oh, wow. This is it. We’re here. Season Ticket has arrived. Programme column has been submitted. Plans to meet up for pre-match beers locked in. Early morning stroll around Griffin Park taken.

I had to. One last chance to breathe in the start of a new campaign before the big move up the road. To enjoy the clam before the oncoming storm. It’s a glorious morning in Brentford with clear skies and the sun up just after 6am. Pack the factor 50. And that’s just for the action on pitch where the occasion of a visit from Birmingham City is always a special once. Even better, when it kicks off our season.

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Early morning, Griffin Park. Welcome home…

This one is sure to be sizzling. The game is close to a sell out and Birmingham will be on raucous form. If nothing else, it’s not very often they can say they are unbeaten in a Championship campaign yet that is, technically, what their record shows at present with Luton Town toping the fledgling table. So spirits will be high. At least, hopefully, until things kick off. Brentford are strengthened by the fact that, to date, only Romaine Sawyers and Ezri Konsa (£££ ker-chingg) have been sold whilst we welcome a host of summer signings of whom Pontus Jansson from Leeds United is the obvious high profile name.

I’m genuinely excited by seeing him in action. We all know Pontus of old. He’s one of those players who has always been a thorn under the saddle. A player who wears his heart on his sleeve. Who has broken ours in the past. Last season at Elland Road in particular. Who has captained his national side and played in the finals for the World Cup. See also: Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford.

And now Pontus is a Bee  – signed over the summer at short notice and on a (relative) cut price fee compared to the £10m valuation that was floating around last season. This is bonkers. But brilliant. Something special is happening at Griffin Park and if we can survive the next few days with the squad unscathed then it could be a very special campaign indeed.

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

Thomas Frank and the team ended on a real high last time. The second half of the season, trips to Swansea aside, saw us in buoyant form. The team were really firing with Said and Neal, in particular, on scintillating form. There will be no Benrahma today (fitness) but Thomas has already confirmed that both Ollie Watkins and the free-scoring French frontman – (c)  The Middlesex Chronicle big book of Brentford alliteration – are available. Whether they start remains to be seen but common sense dictates that it will be the bench, at best, simply given a lack of pre-season match prep. Then again, this is Brentford. Who knows? We do love a surprise or two.   

As for Birmingham City, there’s not much else to say. There’s an element of their fanbase who seem obsessed with Brentford, going by social media, but as much as anything else for me they are always a great yardstick of our own progress. As we’ve said before, the 90s were a period where our paths seemed permanently inter-twined and, sadly, it was Blues who came out on top more often than not. Albeit that last weekend at Peterborough was about as special as they get. Then they went up during the 94-95 single team promotion season. We came second after going neck and neck (including defeat at St.Andrews three games out from the end) so it was the play-offs. Hmmmm.

If those newer fans think ‘that penalty’ hurt (and it did) the prolonged agony of that campaign concluding and Bees just missing out as what would have been the toughest of promotions came tantalisingly close was another level of pain. Especially given our fate was then confirmed by Play-off semi-final defeat, on penalties, to Huddersfield Town. It was about as gut wrenching as it gets. Nobody needs any more reminder of that or the hero that is Bob Taylor somehow missing that unmissable open goal at the McAlpine in the first leg.

And that was it.  Until recently. We’ve been together for what is now a sixth season, despite Birmingham doing their level best to get relegated on more than one occasion. Yes. Harlee Dean did something stupid. Plus ça change. That’s something he’ll have to live with and which Brentford fans will never let him forget.

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How IS that working out?

That’s not obsession but more part of what makes football so magnificent. Those ad-hoc moments that turn into club folklore. Martin Rowlands kissing the badge. Saint & Greavsie prematurely awarding Birmingham City the 91-92 Third Division title before Gary Blissett did his thing at Peterbrough. Russell Slade whining about our celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. Pontus Jansson’s half-chewed biro. And, of course, the Bees responding to his Birmingham City ‘ten times better’ claim by finishing above Blues for a fourth, and then last season fifth, successive Championship campaign.

No doubt #BeeThDJ will be filled with requests for Daydream Believer today. No doubt the club will ignore them. Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. It WAS brilliant fun for the fans when it happened but let’s never go back. Instead, it should remain as another of those folklore moments those of us fortunate to experience will never forget. 

He said it. Not me.

History is great. It should be a means of measuring progress. A means of inspiring. That’s what Birmingham City are for me as much as anything else. Inspiration. Now the chance to write another page in our history begins today. Of course, it is the final season at Griffin Park. We’re going to see and hear loads about that this campaign. Take it all in. Enjoy every second. Once it’s gone, it IS gone. But at the same time, let’s not use it as a distraction. This is a unique opportunity to combine the inspiration with the history.  And I cannot wait for things to get going. Roll on 3pm. See you there.

And if you need something to do prior to kick off, this week has seen the World Cup of Football Mascots unfolding on Twitter. Whilst Buzzette was not selected for the group stage (are they mad?)  that perennial favourite of these pages, Kingsley, was.

The Partick Thistle legend is now in the final against Gunnersaurus of Arsenal and needs your help. Please. At the time of writing, the North London club’s dinosaur (their mascot, not Piers Morgan) is just ahead in the poll but there is still time to turn things around. You can vote below. As long as it’s for Kingsley.

I caught up with my good friend last night (with apologies for going Ian Moose there) and he has promised to visit Griffin Park this season should he end up lifting the trophy. So please, get involved. Imagine the union that would be a coming together of him and Buzzette. If nothing else, its nice to enjoy a ‘World Cup of…’ that’s NOT being promoted by Richard Osman. Much as I enjoy his Pointless show, and I do, the link to his team is always a disturbing one.

We all know Buzzette is awesome. I defy anyone to name a better mascot in the top four divisions. Nice try, Wigan Athletic, but no cigar. Yet things are pretty special at Partick Thistle, too. So please – a vote for Kingsley is a vote for mascot magnificence. Who else could get away with this?  

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Nick Bruzon

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

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