Tag Archives: Leicester City

Once a hero, always a hero. Martin Allen provides a great escape from lockdown.

12 Apr

Martin Allen I bloody love you. With the lockdown biting hard on football, what could have been a miserable afternoon of self-isolation and staying indoors was turned into nothing short of a magnificent two and a half hours. Following on from last week’s session with Phil Giles, Mad Dog himself was there to lift any bank holiday gloom for Brentford fans in the latest of the GPG live video chats on Saturday.

Bedecked in ‘that’ tank top and with Bees supporters hanging on his every word, it was a quite unique peek behind the curtain of what went on at the time and what makes Martin tick. Whilst he also talked about West Ham, Leicester City and Eastleigh the conversation was dominated by The Bees.  The affection felt for his time at Griffin Park, his players and Peter Gilham (whose red PMA wristband he still wears) there for all to see and hear.

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Live in your living room – face to face with Martin Allen

I’ve no idea how the time went so quickly. Yet from the off Martin had us hooked. It was quite bizarre, in the nicest sense. In the blink of an eye we were all transported back to 2004 with tales of the Great Escape. Of the Cup runs. Of Harry Redknapp. Of the unapproved ‘bid’ to sign Paolo Di Canio from West Ham. One can only imagine the panic in the board room. Of play-off pain. Of Steve Claridge. Michael Turner. Sonko. The genuine affection and pride in Jay Tabb. The potential of Alex Rhodes and Oli Skulason, both of whom saw promising careers so cruelly hit by injury. 

The former a player whom Martin felt had the potential to go all the way to the top whilst the story of breaking the injury news to the later one which brought a lump to the the throat. We talked about the players v fans match. About secret 5.30am video filming in the Thames at Kew Bridge with a lad called Mark Chapman (never heard of him). And we talked a lot about Sam Sodje.

Oh my. You could probably write a book on that section alone. The tackles. The signing. Training with Deon Burton. His approach to opening letters from the council – and the carnage that almost ensued as a result. And I bet what was discussed don’t even begin to touch the sides. The recording of the session has gone live already – you can find it below c/o the GPG YouTube upload. Please do take a look as these words can’t even begin to do it justice.

Equally, there was honesty. Things that didn’t work out so well. Stephen Hunt. The move to Leicester City. Eastleigh. Yet as Martin also added, he doesn’t do hindsight. No regrets at all were evident. Just an engaging look back on all those things that had gone well. The smile on his face broad as we talked about Luton Town away (a game that , seemingly, everyone went to) . The deadpan humour evident and the twinkle in the eye there for all to see. 

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Another game of ‘Celebrity Squares’ (albeit only one celebrity)

Thomas Frank is wonderful. I love how he is with the fans. How welcoming and open he is at all times. Yet for those of us of a certain age, to see Martin pull us up by the bootstraps and bring Brentford football club so close to the success we enjoy now was nothing short of incredible at the time. It all feels so fresh, even 15 years on. To hear it discussed in such open, engaging and, being honest, hilarious  detail by the very architect of the moment was nothing short of incredible.

Martin is unique. We all know that. I’m pretty sure he even ate a dog biscuit at one point late on in the session. We all worshipped him at the time. We all still love him now. Nothing can change or take away what he did. Nothing can replace that love he shared with us and vice-versa. It must be quite a special and rare feeling for an ex-manager to still be welcomed back with such open arms. Yet for him to talk through all this left a huge smile on the face. A quite wonderful feeling of well being at what is a quite awful time out there. The way he made every question feel so personal – not just in the answers given but the engagement with the person asking it. Nobody else mattered beyond you and him. And it was quite special.

The whole thing is here. ENJOY

Once again, huge thank to Trevor Inns and his GPG team for setting this up. It really was phenomenal fun. Even now, Sunday morning, I’m still smiling at the though of Sodje launching into a scissor kick or Martin dropping the F bombs at Harry Redknapp and co.     

There is talk of another one next Saturday. Good luck to whoever follows this, you’ve got one hell of a job to do ! 

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Every ball was caught and kicked with us

Nick Bruzon

Brentford 4000 will play the Tranmere Stripper.

27 Jan

Just when cup football couldn’t get any more incredible, it does. Brentford are out but by no means down. Tranmere Rovers ended Sunday on the wrong end of an almost bracketing as Manchester United were unable to find the additional goal that would have turned 0-6 to to 0-7(seven). Shrewsbury grabbed all the headlines holding Liverpool 2-2 in a gripping cup tie that even the arrival of Mo Salah was unable to rescue. Yet waking up this morning and checking the overnight updates, the real headline is being created as we speak where  Brentford 4000 will play the Tranmere Stripper in round 2.

Not words that are used lightly. And words that, being honest, can only be used in what is shaping up to be a quite pulsating World Cup of Programme Covers. The first round results are now in with  The Bees having trounced Denis Waterman and Wolves after earning close to 75% of the vote. Meanwhile the stripper, last season’s semi-finalist ( losing to eventual winner, Middlesbrough’s comic art) brought some respite for Tranmere fans reeling from Manchester United going ballistic. One of the most talked about covers from last time out (see also: Frank McAvennie and West Ham putting the right wing in to their Christmas party fancy dress) made light work of Slough Town as they cruised into the second round.

Tranmere Rovers will provide just about as tough an opponent as is possible. Yet Brentford have proven, time and again, that class and reputation doesn’t phase us. Whilst one may question just how much class there is about the imagery used to support the Associate Members Cup semi final  (Northern Zone) semi final v Burnley, it is very much a fascinating product of the time. Whilst it’s highly unlikely anybody would risk the wrath of social media / public scrutiny or have the lack of sense to go there these days (see also: Frank McAvennie and West Ham), back then all filters were seemingly set to ‘off’.  

I’m not here to pass moral judgement on anybody or anything. Personally, I love the unusual. Anything that strays away from the norm. Historical curios. Which is what just about every piece of artwork in the World Cup sets out to show. There are some incredible contenders still alive and gunning for glory. Noreen form Birmingham City. Elton John’s giant key. Paul Parker’s hot air ballon trip. The bizarre styling on show at Albion Rovers. Swindon Town and their Fat Striker.

As ever, @TheSkyStrikers on Twitter is the place to follow the tournament. Your host Miles McClagan adding a fair bit of deadpan wit to his own commentary as the tournament unfolds. The likes of Leicester City, Liverpool, and Manchester United may have grabbed the headlines this weekend. At least for on-field activity. Yet off-pitch, Brentford and Tranmere are shaping up for the mother of all battles in social media. The timing of our second round clash has yet to be announced but keep those eyes open and keep voting.

In the meantime, here are a few more of the runners and riders…

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Salvador Dali had a short stint at Albion Rovers

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Noreen – ten times better than the rest. Probably.

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Swindon Town – there’s hope for us all

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Cripes – this was actual 1990. Come on West Ham. WTF…??

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Praying to a giant George Berry at Wolves. 

Nick Bruzon

We’re out of the cup but…we’re still in one more.

26 Jan

This is short and sweet today. Brentford may have lost to Leicester City in the  FA Cup on Saturday. Well played, Foxes. If you want to read thoughts on that one they are here. At least we can concentrate on The League and Nottingham Forest this Tuesday.

Yet we are still alive in the cup. Sort of. Anybody who had the (mis)fortune to see my programme column yesterday would have, hopefully, seen the piece about the World Cup of Programme Covers. A thankfully Osman free environment to celebrate the best and the bizarre of artwork from the history of British football’s matchday magazines.

And Brentford have qualified for the knock out stages. We’re up against Wolves. Specifically Denis Waterman adorning the cover whilst holding a beer. As you do. For The Bees, the hand drawn cover by competion winner Ben Summers to celebrate our 4000th game, against Barnsley. (That in itself, worth a reminder of what happened…)

So the vote is live. The vote is here. You know what to do….

 

Nick Bruzon

 

FA Cup showcases the future. Some still living in the past.

25 Jan

Congratulations and well played Leicester City. Brentford exited the FA Cup on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline but can be more than proud of the performance on Saturday afternoon. Not for any patronising or ‘plucky Bees punching above their weight’ related reasons but simply because of how comfortable our B-team heavy side looked against the team currently third placed in the Premier League. With West Bromwich Albion making it through to continue a battle on two fronts, after their own win at West Ham, how crucial could the experience (and confidence) gained today prove to be in the all important run in to the Premier league? And whilst not wanting to give the oxygen of publicity to crazed opinion, Thomas Frank absolutely nailed it today despite the provocative clickbait dangled by one BBC London journalist looking for nibbles.

Saturday was awesome. It summed up the very best of our club from start to finish. Yes, Thomas Frank named a team that still leant heavily on less familiar players. Benrahma, Watkins. Pontus, Jensen, Raya and Dalsgaard were among those nowhere near the squad. Rico, Pinnock, Mbeumo, Norgaard and Josh Dasilva on the bench. However, the opening ten minutes aside, Brentford more than matched the former Premier League Champions. Being honest, we can feel hard done by after not even coming away with a draw. Luka Racic seeing a wonderful second half attempt tipped over, Emiliano Marcondes beating everybody but the inside of the post and Bryan Mbeumo having an equaliser denied by the offside flag.

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Brentford attack, again, in the second half

Credit to Brendan Rodgers. His team started at 100 mph and grabbed the early goal. Taking advantage of the time needed for our new look team to find their collective feet. Kelechi Iheanacho converting a slide rule pass from, erm, somebody on just four minutes after the Bees had been stretched thinner than a value brand pizza base. 

But as the game progressed, Brentford grew into it. The new look combination of our starting XI finding their feet and space. Zamburek and Marcondes inventive. Dervisoglu again impressing. Racic and Roerslev definitely more names for the future. Thompson and Yearwood adding further credibility to the Brentford recruitment strategy. Leicester content to absorb and contain rather than put it out of sight. Although, equally, one has to look at what The Bees did. No quarter was given. No question left unanswered. The Championship club more than matching their illustrious opponents but not quite able to force the ball over the line. This time.

Let’s cut to the chase. Nobody is upset. We’re all hugely proud of how our boys performed. There were no dissenting voices when the team was named. More, the reaction seems to have been universal. That this presented the newcomers with the chance to prove what they can do. To give themselves that big game experience that we may be so reliant on coming into the business end of the season. And that they rose to that challenge.

There’s also the small matter of Tuesday night’s Championship six-pointer with Nottingham Forest, a game of pivotal importance to our long term future. This was a consequence free dry run with everything to gain and nothing to lose. We came, they scored, we almost conquered. On another day perhaps. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. This time .    

That’s not to say this wasn’t an occasion to showcase the very best of what we do. So the result didn’t go our way. And? It was still a magical afternoon. Griffin Park a sell out for what would prove to be the last ever cup tie in our famous home. The realisation of that one only hitting home once we got back from the post match beers. A quick catch up of the BBC coverage to make sure Bryan’s ‘goal’ definitely wasn’t then morphed into a catch up of the punditry and the aforementioned stat.

Being quite self-indulgent, and I make no apologies, it was of huge personal pride to hear H read the teams out before kick off. Fair play to him – dad’s fear of stage fright was immediately kicked in to touch –  as proven with the announcement of “Number three. Uncle Justin’s favourite player. Riiiiiccoooo Henrrryy”.

Yet this is the sort of thing that continues to make our club great. Magnificent. Unique. In the week that fan engagement manager Ryan Murrant shared the sad news that he would be moving on, how invigorating to see his work rewarded by a 6 year old coming alive and claiming that microphone as though it was his own personal radio for speaking to the Griffin Park faithful.

Sure, proud dad. I get it and don’t pretend otherwise. Nobody else probably noticed or cared. And that’s fine. It’s mentioned more to showcase, yet again, what we do. Week in, week out. Why we are brilliant.  Why we grab our fans from the off. Why we are all one, huge family. Why it was an absolute honour to bequeath Woody H’s tinfoil trophy at full time. Why the people who share no more immediate connection than the random allocation of a seat number have unintentionally become friends.

As for the aforementioned clickbait, the normally respected Nick Godwin of BBC Radio London was full of it on Saturday evening. As patronising as he was off the mark. Behind the times and living in the past rather than looking at what was unfolding. 

As might have been shouted to the Leicester number 28, Fuchs off ! The B-team players more than rose to the occasion. Testament to our long term strategy of recruitment and transition to the first team. This ‘medium sized Championship team’ may aswell have been labelled tinpot or a bus stop. Sorry, but we’re just a soupçon of places outside the automatic promotion slots to the Premier League. Our profit margins have seen the Brentford transfer model rebranded from crackpot to genius. It was being lauded by the BBC during Saturday’s live coverage, and even their stats didn’t begin to touch the sides. 

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Fuchs off.

Brentford using their intelligently collated squad is not what is killing the FA Cup. Pandering to an ever crowded fixture list. Canning replays. Killing neutral ground semis. Stretching out the weekend to four or five nights so that the draw is made before the final ties have even been played. That’s what is killing the FA Cup. Not, pauses for breath, ‘teams like Brentford‘.  If, indeed, it is even dying. A sell out crowd and Lineker fronted TV panel certainly suggests otherwise. See also, the jam packed KC stadium for Hull City v Chelsea which was on our screens as we got home.

But let’s not end this on a negative. Leicester City scored the goal so deserved their win. Brentford showed even more green shoots of long term potential. Lionel Road is coming. So are Nottingham Forest. I’d have loved to have a crack at Wembley but it wasn’t to be . That doesn’t devalue the experience or upset me any.

Instead, our youngsters showed just what they can do. And it is nothing but positive.

Nick Bruzon  

Could it be sheer Bliss this weekend?

24 Jan

Nothing overly deep and meaningful needed. The FA Cup fourth round is upon us. Brentford host Leicester City, the 2015-16 Premier League Champions. The only club, barring Manchester City, keeping things vaguely interesting at the business end of the Premier League as Liverpool threaten to have the title sewn up by spring half-term. Likewise, we’re one of the clubs keeping things hugely interesting at the top end of the Championship as you know who are fighting each other in a two way battle to fall apart quickest. It promises to be epic, no matter who Thomas Frank and Brendan Rodgers go with in their respective starting XIs. Get your tin foil ready and bring it on….

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Can Brentford keep on the “Road to Wembley” ?

Ok. Me attempting to speculate as to who will be starting for either side is as futile an exercise as trying to decipher the finances at Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. The answers to both are buried deep, with no hope of anyone outside the inner circle being able to accurately predict. We know that Thomas will likely  have a few more familiar faces than in the third round, although will equally keep faith with some of his B-team players. We know that some form of medical miracle aside, Jamie Vardy will play no more part in proceedings for Leicester than hitting rewind on the BBC live coverage to see how that first Brentford goal went in. 

Hey, you can’t blame me for being optimistic. This is the FA Cup. The stuff of dreams. The chance to test ourselves against the best the country has to offer. An opportunity to keep going to a midweek fifth round. To push on (or should that be up?) all the way to Wembley ; the true home of the semi-finals. Ok, so some of the more traditional elements may be slowly eroding but that doesn’t make it any less special. Moreso, when you think that for most of us the 88/89 run to a 4-0 defeat by Liverpool in an Anfield quarter final is as good as it has ever been in this tournament. Even if we did have the pleasure of seeing Gary Blissett knock out his beloved Manchester City en-route.

Bliss Manchester City

Get dreaming tonight

And yes, I do mention these a lot but its as a result of two things. Firstly, that when cup fever takes hold there’s nothing like it. The communal coming together of a football club punching above it’s traditional weight – and we were back then – with dreams of silverware on the horizon. The chance to make a name for yourselves. To cause what would have been one of the single biggest upsets in cup history.

Then, at the back end of the 80’s, Liverpool were all conquering. Indestructable. Unbeatable.  Much like today (we’ll ignore the bit in the middle). Surely Brentford couldn’t do it? And whilst, of course, we didn’t, a fleet of coaches, a lot of inflatable Bees and Richard Cadette’s “Oohhh’ moment early on almost made the impossible possible.

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The Bees haven’t reacehd an FA Cup quarter final since Livepool in 88/89

Secondly though, we just don’t do it very often. Even in recent seasons when we’ve had the squad to compete with the best in The Championship, the combination of bad fortune, bad performance and a lot of tinkering has meant we’ve just not hit the heights that this team is capable. Underestimating opposition such as Walsall, when Dean Smith was greeted as a Ginger Judas and the Romaine Sawyers inspired visitors took us apart in awful conditions at Griffin Park.

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Passionate away support can be key – as we’ve learned

It is this lack of long term relationship with the cup that makes those rare moments of glory live all the longer in the memory. DJ Campbell mugging Gary Breen as Sunderland were knocked out. Twice leading Champions of Europe (apparently, if only somebody had said) Chelsea before Fernando Torres spared their blushes. The comeback at Southampton. And that’s probably about it in recent times. 

Saunders territory Chelsea

2013 Griffin Park . Ramires, Terry, Cole, Oscar, Lampard, Torres, Cahill – that’s some wall

Even last season, we were all set for the quarters – 1-0 up at Swansea – before Daniel James et al turned us inside out . That it only ended 4-1 was a miracle in itself. The quintessential game of two halves.

For me, the visit of Leicester City sees us with everything to gain and nothing to lose. Honestly, I don’t care who Thomas opts to start with. The Championship is huge and we’ve the obvious game with Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night. Equally though, I love the FA Cup and see nothing but opportunity here. Whether he goes ‘full B-team’, the regular league side or that expected combination of both you know that we’ll all be giving it our best. The crowd up for it. The players moreso. 

The tinfoil is already out at home. The trophy from the third round due to be reupholstered (is that the word?) tonight, after a few bits began to peel away in the euphoria of Emiliano Marcondes’ third round winner against Stoke.  

This could be magnificent. And I can’t wait. See you there !!! 

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Time to reupholster this (the cup, not Emiliano or H) 

Nick Bruzon

A double return for club legends as things crank up at the top.

23 Jan

Another night of Championship action saw more going the way of Brentford. Nottingham Forest warmed up for Tuesday night’s six-pointer after being pegged back by Reading to draw their game in hand 1-1 at The City Ground. Elsewhere, Fulham failed to trouble the scorers as they ended proceedings at Charlton with a 0-0. It is a result that leaves the temporarily third placed team two points ahead of The Bees but with an extra game played. And as a curtain raiser to Saturday’s FA Cup action, Leicester City looked in devastatingly strong form as they blitzed West Ham 4-1 in the Premier League. I guess you could say, West Hammered…. I’ll get my coat.

For a night where Brentford fans had to sit back on the couch to watch things unfold around us (or ‘Kirsty and Phil’, as happened in our house –  I’m keeping those remote control green cards up my sleeve), it all went surprisingly well. The Nottingham Forest performance was one that the BBC described afterwards as “A lacklustre game”, in which they left it very late to take the lead before letting the visitors back in just three minutes later. Sound familiar? Pretty sure something similar happened 11 days ago, too. Things are somewhat grim when Reading are deemed your Nemesis but it is still another point. Former Bee Lewis Grabban (what must he be worth these days?) scoring the goal for the home team which moves him to within two of Ollie Watkins at the top of The Championship golden boot chart. 

The result itself leaves Brentford fifth, for now, with Forest going one point ahead of us. However, with their visit to Griffin Park scheduled for this Tuesday destiny is very much in our own hands. Victory for The Bees is guaranteed to take us back to third place. This, after Fulham were held at The Valley. Huff, Puff, Oooh but no reward would seem to have been the order of the day there. As we’ve said many times, most recently at Huddersfield last Saturday, if you can’t find the back of the net it counts for nothing. They’ll be as happy as we were to remain unbeaten, of course, but it does mean we have a wonderful chance to restore the natural order of things at the business end of The Championship. Perhaps even crank up that pressure even more on Leeds and West Brom – both currently choking  (another) seemingly uncatchable lead like Greg Norman in a bunker.

All of which sets Tuesday up wonderfully but before that we have the small matter of Leicester City in the FA Cup. Expect a big house and a wonderful atmosphere for that one, regardless of who Thomas Frank chooses to start with.

Interestingly, I saw a tweet from the GPG last night suggesting some form of possible team news. A number of squad players missed the B team game in Portugal (including Mads Roeslev and Jan Zamburek) whilst the legend that is Sam Saunders got a run out towards the end, suggesting it somewhat unlikely he’ll be lined up for a stunning comeback to first team action. Or was it a late fitness test? One can dream. 

Certainly, Sam’s return to action was one that that nobody saw coming until official Twitter did their thing. Whilst it is perhaps a leap too far to ever imagine he’ll be able to forsake his new role for a return to first team action, the chance to say “And this is Saunders’ territory” for real once more has certainly put a smile on the face this morning.

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One can dream

Sam wasn’t the only Griffin Park hero doing his thing, either. The club has announced that Marcus Gayle has taken up a role as a Club Ambassador. Chief executive Jon Varney telling ‘official’ that, “His service both on and off the pitch to Brentford has meant that he’s already much-loved by both supporters and staff alike. Marcus has such a lot to offer by representing the Club on matchdays and continuing to build our profile in the industry as well as supporting key projects in the local community and our plans for the move to our new stadium“.

Well said, Jon. And well done Marcus. A hero to all, his service on the pitch was legendary. Here’s to things continuing off it. You can read that one in full, here.

Marcus – then and now

As for Leicester City, they got their shooting boots warmed up in some style as they returned to winning ways against one time World Cup winners West Ham. 4-1 is a landslide at any level and was a result which, whilst boosting confidecne, was marred by injuries to both Nampalys Mendy and Jamie Vardy. The latter suffering an apparent hamstring problem which he attempted, but failed, to run off. 

At full time, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers told the press that “It is not his hamstring which is good. Hopefully over the next couple of days it will ease off and he will be fit. Jamie is a real talisman for the team but if we are going to have success it is about the team”. All of which suggests that had there been any chance of him starting at the weekend, that has now gone the same way Leeds’ confidence levels i.e. dead in the water.  Full details of that one are on the BBC match report.

It’s a huge shame for the player and the club, of course. Vardy now denied the chance to run out at Griffin Park before we move home whilst The Bees miss out on the opportunity to test ourselves against the very best. If nothing else, Leicester’s form is one of the few things keeping the top end of the Premier League vaguely interesting. Making it technically competitive in a division where, as it stands, Liverpool are thirteen points clear with two games in hand. Even the Scottish top flight is tighter than that (not a typo). So a short absence for Moriarty’s other half can only be a good thing.

Yet, like us, regardless of who may be missing it is very much about using the whole of your squad to the best of the situation. I have no doubt this is going to be as tough a challenge as they come. And it is one I cannot wait for. The BBC studio is already in place and the pitch ready. All that remains is for two more sleeps to happen and then we can get things going.

Bring it on. See you there.

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Here’s to more of this on Saturday…

Nick Bruzon

Tricky choices for the boss. Brutal words to a special Guest.

21 Jan

Oh my word. Would you believe it?. There were smiles all over Brentford last night after yet another favour going our way at the top of the Championship table. Stoke City hung on to beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at the Hawthorns, meaning the gap between ourselves and the top spot is locked in at six points. With the Baggies and Leeds United both to visit Griffin Park still, along with Nottingham Forest in a week’s time, the league continues to prove itself the most exciting in Europe. Elsewhere, some audio has emerged from the Dave Berry Breakfast show on Absolute Radio after a listener, Brian Guest, got in contact regarding Fulham and their clappers at the weekend.

First up, West Bromwich Albion. Oh my, Just when the Championship couldn’t get any more unexpected, it has. And then some. I have to be honest that watching this one on Sky last night, I couldn’t help but feel Stoke City were only moments away from collapsing after their early goal. Surely West Brom would find a way through? Surely? But no. Wave after wave of pressure was repelled as the Potters closed out the game in some style. It all looked so, so controlled by the end of it. The home side unable to penetrate and their record now stretching out to one win in eight league games. See also: Leeds United. 

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As it now stands on the BBC

All of which makes the point earned by Brentford on Saturday seem even more valuable than it did back then. Sure, 0-0 hardly reeks of glamour (on paper) but I’d take it over defeat any day of the week. I’m ecstatic about the way the top two keep on hitting ‘self-destruct’. How that once humungous lead is now becoming thinner by the week.

It all goes to make next week’s visit of Nottingham Forest to Griffin Park all the more crucial. The Tricky Trees sit just behind us. Level on points but some way back on goal difference. However, they have that all important additional opportunity that is provided by having played one game fewer. Whilst I’m a firm believer in the adage that points in the bag are better than games in hand, you can bet they’ll be bang up for what is a real six pointer.

If anything, the short term destiny of The Championship is very much in their hands. Aswell as the game at Brentford, their next five fixtures include a visit from Leeds United and a trip to West Bromwich Albion. On current form, a guaranteed six points. Ahh, if only football really was that simple. The positive news here being that if Brentford keep doing their thing, then something else will go in our favour. One of those three teams has no choice but to drop points. 

I’d go so far to say that, and whisper this in hushed tones, Tuesday is more important than the visit of Leicester City in the FA Cup this weekend. I love the tournament and am desperate to proceed but if the price of keeping our assault on the upper echelons of the table going is to keep our squad fresh and play some of the B-team, then name Jan Zamburek as captain right now. Return Emiliano Marcondes to the line up. Stick Luke Daniels between the posts.

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I’m all for this on Saturday

Who knows what Thomas is thinking about there. Who’d be a head coach? For all we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves, and play-off zone consolidation has to be the immediate aim, that narrowing gap to the top makes for the most tempting prize. Like Indiana Jones reaching for the idol, would we unleash all manner of mayhem and chaos if we made a grab for it? For me, it has to be worth the gamble of naming a less familiar starting XI in the cup. 

I’ll still be 100% behind the Bees and screaming support but wouldn’t be anywhere near as disappointed as I was at Arsenal when we saw Dean Smith’s initial line up for that one last season. Then, the campaign was fresh with a wonderful chance to make a name for ourselves. Now, we’re knee deep in the blood of our Championship rivals and looking to take down more. That has to be where the resources are ploughed. Unless, of course, the players are fit enough for another stint of four games in fourteen days (at least, my fingers only go up to ten). Whomever is named, both games represent wonderful opportunities and I can’t wait.

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Alan Judge pulls one back against Arsenal

Elsewhere, I was listening to national station Absolute Radio yesterday morning. Specifically, the Dave Berry breakfast show where our eponymous host, co-host / Nottingham Forest supporter Matt Dyson, and sports anchor Glenn Moore were contacted by a listener. Brian Guest.

On hearing his name my ears pricked up. If memory serves, he may have once had a body of work published in the Fulham match day programme when The Bees came to visit. Getting one (or three) past the editor to reflect on some of their lesser moments whilst under the guise of supporting the home club. Or something like that.

Dave had asked listeners to sum up their weekend, but in just six words. It’s a regular part of the Monday show and it seems Brian is an avid listener. He got in touch to share the update, “Fulham had clappers. Why? Why? Why?”

It was a question which clearly nudged the boundaries of curiosity, and common sense, as the results are below. Enjoy. Unless you support Fulham……

Nick Bruzon  

It’s even tighter at the top as pressure grows.

19 Jan

A 0-0 draw at Huddersfield Town keeps the Brentford streak going. That’s one defeat in eight games as The Bees kept up the pressure on the top two. With Leeds United falling apart (again), their own 1-0 loss at Loftus Road yesterday means the gap from us to second is now down to 5 points from the 12 that it was just a few weeks ago. Hoping for a QPR win wasn’t the most enjoyable way to spend a Saturday lunchtime, and one which could be better translated as more praying for an away disaster, but events transpired in our favour and that’ll do me looking at the table this morning. Whilst Fulham remain fractionally  ahead of us, there was at least the consolation of watching their supporters spend all day crying on social media over the ‘clappers’ video’ from yesterday’s piece. There, there – mummy will kiss it better. Factor in the added bonus of Leicester City being next up in the FA Cup and its all happening in TW8.

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Brentford ‘official’ sum it up on Twitter

First up, Huddersfield Town. It was a performance that Thomas Frank would describe at full time as ‘average’ , saying he wasn’t happy with a point. Good man – high levels of expectation and long may that continue. Personally, 0-0 doesn’t look great on paper but this was a team missing both Pontus Jansson and Mathias Jensen. Both were deemed to be injured although one does then wonder if it leaves them fresh / available for the Leicester game. You know, just to keep the legs ticking over. Thomas would suggest in his interview (below) that it may be a game too soon for the midfielder but we’ll see. 

As for positives, it was another clean sheet to the Championship’s tightest defence. In a game of few chances, Brentford arguably had the majority. Josh Dasilva coming closest as he hit the post late on, albeit we all know that shots at goal count for naff all if you can’t put them away. But, it’s a point on the road. It’s another game unbeaten. It’s even more ground gained on the top two. It’s further psychological pressure applied to a Leeds United side who continue to astound with their ability to hit the meltdown button. 

Thomas tells it how it is.

We’re never going to pick up three points EVERY game. That’s not how football works, generally. Albeit, the memory of Liverpool and Manchester City matching each other win for win last season as the Premier League rolled out to that relentless conclusion  is still fresh in the mind. Liverpool are doing it again this time around whilst everybody else around them has reverted to what is considered the norm in footballing form. At least, for teams competing at the business end. Win most games, draw a few and slip up every now and again. Just look at the defeats for Leicester last weekend (Southampton) or Chelsea yesterday (injury hit Newcastle). So a point for Brentford is something I’ll embrace. Moreso in the bigger picture of how the season end table may play out. The key thing at this juncture is not to be hitting the skids. Not to be ‘doing a Leeds’. Not to have a record akin to West Brom, who are currently experiencing similarly patchy form.

I’m just gad that the emotional investment in proceedings at Loftus Road wasn’t wasted. Nobody wants to hope for an away defeat there, in the normal course of events, although this is anything but a normal season. So things couldn’t have turned out any better than hoped for. At least, from a Brentford / Leeds perspective. Patrick Bamford saw a penalty saved and Kalvin Phillips was shown a straight red late on for a horror challenge that summed up the wretched state of affairs currently being enjoyed / endured (delete as applicable) by the Elland Road outfit. They host Millwall next Tuesday with the Lions looking to go one better than their current position just outside the play-off zone. That promises to be fun. 

At the same time, we’re home to Nottingham Forest with the FA cup sandwiched in between. Excitement levels continue to build in this part of West London as the denouement of Griffin Park life draws to a thrilling conclusion. Fighting a battle on two fronts is going to mean some tough decisions are made on Saturday when that team is announced late in the morning. Go for broke in the cup? Stick with the B team? Or play a mix of both? Either way, I can’t wait for the next chapter of the Brentford story to unfold.

See you there.

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Things are getting tight at the top

Nick Bruzon 

Let’s do this. Come on…..!!!

10 Jan

It’s all about lunchtime TV at Griffin Park. The Brentford – Leicester City FA Cup tie has been picked for live coverage with the BBC deciding that this is the game for their  Saturday 12.45pm slot. Of more critical importance, we’ve got QPR coming down tomorrow for another. This one kicks off live on Sky at 12.30pm. But, frankly, watching it from the comfort of the sofa is the last place I’d choose to be. There’s nothing like a West London derby and this is, in theory, our last one at home before we move to Lionel Road. In theory, he says. The Bees and Fulham are both sitting in the play-off spots at present……..

Let’s get back to more immediate matters though. QPR and then Leicester City. 

First up, the visit of the not so super hoops. Anybody present for our 3-1 win at Loftus Road would know how incredible an atmosphere the Brentford fans generated. How exhilarating our performance. How easily we opened up our hosts, time and again. The BMW’s motor purring. Benrahma’s penalty and celebration entering the pantheon of club folklore as they ran to celebrate on the touchline with Peter Gilham.

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Back of the net…!!!

We know what this game means to Peter. You can bet tomorrow he’ll be referring to them as ‘our visitors’. Their name the most blasphemous of phrases following the well documented events of 1967. He’s not alone in having that added desire to win this fixture. We’ve a fine recent record against neighbours separated only by a distance of just over five miles and a short hop on the 237 from Westfield to a bus stop in Hounslow. It is one we will be absolutely pumped to continue on Saturday. Play-offs and promotion are, perhaps, equaled by local bragging rights as a motivation factor. Albeit, we’ll very much be playing the game and the team in front of us rather than the occasion.

Whilst Brentford are flying, QPR have been very much on a bumpy track recently. Although two wins in a row (wow!!) in January may suggest a positive start to 2020, prior to that they had a dreadful December – picking up just one one point from the last four games  – and a winless November. All being well,  vague form – back to back wins against bang average teams – will be arrested as easily as it has raised it’s head. Especially if we can get that early goal.

SWIFT Brentford QPR

Results at home to QPR have been wonderful in recent seasons

And if we don’t, patience will be the order of the day. The bench is starting to look stronger whilst the team just keep on going for the full 90 minutes. Me banging on won’t change this. You know it and I know it. Thomas Frank and his team are flying. We’ve all seen what Brentford can do. I just can’t wait for the opportunity to try and close the gap on the top two. With our game taking place at lunchtime, victory would take us to within 6 points of Leeds United and West Brom. How nice to do that at the expense of Rangers.

As for Leicester City and the FA Cup, TV was always an option and given their fixture list the Saturday lunchtime seemed likely. Now it has been confirmed that the BBC have selected us. As such, kick off is now 12.45 on Saturday 25th with tickets going on sale Friday afternoon to existing season ticket holders. Full details are on the official website.

There’s not too much else to say at this juncture. If for no other reason, the (subsequently corrected) error in yesterday’s piece that forgot about us playing Nottingham Forest the Tuesday after Leicester. Oops.  Besides, I think we’ve done this one to death now.

Very much time to concentrate on the league. And it’s not often you can say that when you are still in the cup. Bring it on tomorrow. Get on the bus. Get off in Hounslow. See you there….

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Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

Nick Bruzon

Exciting cup draw provides as much intrigue off-pitch as on.

7 Jan

So there we have it. Brentford will host Leicester City in the FA Cup following last night’s fourth round draw. The former Premier league champions who currently lead the chasing pack behind Liverpool in the top flight will visit Griffin Park at some point over the weekend of 24-27 January. We say ‘at some point’ given as it is a tie that will be sure to be on any potential shortlist of those selected for TV coverage. 3rd in the Championship v 2nd in the Premier league. Others ups for consideration include Hull City v Chelsea , Bristol City or Shrewsbury Town v Liverpool and Northampton Town v Wayne Rooney. There are plenty of other intriguing ties, especially in Birmingham, but we can only start in West London.

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There you have it

For both clubs, this is going to present selection questions. Leicester City especially. Whilst we both looked outside of the regular starting XI in the third round, might Thomas Frank be tempted to give his star players the chance to test themselves against one of the Premier league big boys? A possible dress rehearsal for next season’s league action? Leicester City may well go light (relatively), given they have a midweek game either side of this one.  Home to West Ham the prior Wednesday and then the second-leg of the EFL Cup semis with Aston Villa the following Tuesday.

And has anybody checked in on Bees Fan Engagement Manager Ryan Murrant? Whilst his work at Griffin Park is legendary, especially with the way he inspires our youngest generation of supporters, he is a self-confessed and very vocal
Leicester City fan. Could this be a case of his cracking open the half and half scarf? Will it be club over employer? Or simply a case of hoping that football is the real winner of what has all the potential to be one of the most exciting matches in the round. As Lasse Vibe put it on Twitter, ”Schmeichel vs the rest of Denmark.”

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Ryan – Bee or Fox?

All that’s a problem to come though. First things first and the question is one of when the game takes place. Here’s hoping the TV gods are smiling on us if we are selected for coverage. Nobody wants the solitary Monday night tie in the ‘post-draw’ segment of the round, albeit given out visitor’s prior commitments one can only think that Saturday lunchtime will be the appointed time. Should it be a case of Manchester City v Fulham or the multi-optioned Watford or Tranmere Rovers v Wolverhampton Wanderers or Manchester United that are deemed more appealing then we are back on for a Saturday 3pm.

To be fair, it wouldn’t be the FA Cup without Manchester United being selected for the cameras. Who cares about magic or intrigue when there’s the opportunity to appease the nation’s armchair supporters? That said, the permutations from the respective replays leading up to that one do present slightly more intriguing options than normal. Especially if Tranmere win. If…. Watford v Wolves, anyone? 

The other tie really grabbing my attention is the possible situation at St. Andrews where landlords Birmingham City could be forced to pay a visit to their tenants, Coventry City, and then squat in the ‘away’ end. Cue demands for ten times more tickets than their official allocation as they miss the point of how the cup works. To be fair, even should Coventry fail to overcome Bristol Rovers in the replay, its a tie I’d love to see selected for coverage. Even though we know full well it’ll never happen. A night out in Birmingham being about as glamorous as a trip to Mrs. Brown’s bedroom. Besides, we’ve got Northampton Town for the interest further down the EFL tables. Their home tie with Derby County, and the guaranteed baggage that comes with that, sure to have lazy directors, cliché spouting pundits and overkeen caption writers already prepping their scripts.

For now, though, it’s a case of ifs, buts and maybes. I’m just glad Brentford are at home and there’s (at least) one more chance to visit Griffin Park. Anything else after that is a bonus. 

Here’s that draw in full….

Watford or Tranmere Rovers v Wolverhampton Wanderers or Manchester United

Hull City v Chelsea

Southampton v Middlesbrough or Tottenham Hotspur

Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield Wednesday

Bournemouth v Arsenal

Northampton Town v Derby County

Brentford v Leicester City

Millwall v Sheffield United

Reading or Blackpool v Cardiff City or Carlisle United

West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion

Burnley v Norwich City

Bristol Rovers or Coventry City v Birmingham City

Manchester City v Fulham

Rochdale or Newcastle United v Oxford United

Portsmouth v Barnsley

Bristol City or Shrewsbury Town v Liverpool

Nick Bruzon