Tag Archives: Leicester

Now really is the time to go again.

3 Nov

That’s been a long week. Brentford fans awaiting the visit of Millwall have had a lot to think about after last Saturday’s away defeat to Norwich City. However, it all seemed somewhat secondary to the one thought that the broader footballing community has had on its mind – the tragic events at Leicester City later that evening. I have to be honest that, after penning an initial column about both on Sunday morning, subsequent news saw the appetite for talking football dissipate as the story unfolded. The only solace, if there can be any, to be taken from this quite devastating situation has been in hearing all the wonderful stories about Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. A man with a genuine love for his players, his team and the city. Whilst this was already well known in Leicester, as an outsider looking in to only now understand the full extent of the love and respect in which he is held shows just what a terrible loss this was. I’ve no doubt it’s going to be both an emotional and celebratory one at Cardiff City this afternoon when football begins again for Leicester City.

 

As for Brentford, Thomas Frank welcomes a Millwall side who sit one place below us in 18th. It seems only five minutes ago we were knocking on the door of the play-offs. That 1-1 draw with Leeds United keeping the Bees in sixth place following what would later turn out to be Dean Smith’s last match as Brentford head coach. Three games later, played out over the space of a frenetic eight days, his successor has seen a record of LLL which included going 3 down to Preston in the space of 23 minutes. The Bees slipped another place last night and are now down to 17thafter Aston Villa managed a win rather than their customary 1-1 draw.

Yet, importantly, the table remains as tight as it has all season. We’re 7(seven) points away from the play-off places. We’re 6 away from the relegation trapdoor. That’s neither to over inflate our position (the table doesn’t lie) but nor is it to be the harbinger of doom. I’m not. There’s a hell of a long way to go and, as we’ve both said and seen, the squad has undeniable talent. Instead, the visit of Millwall should be seen as a massive opportunity for Thomas to harness that.

He’s now had a clear week with his squad to run at this. To work at things in training. To get his players firing and be clear just what is his preferred starting XI is (specifically given the injury suffered by Kamo). To try and stop opposition that have, typically for us, started to find form with 3 wins out of the last 4 coming after their own woeful start to this campaign. But which is the team suffering from a brief reversal of form? Who will pick up the points?

Look. Whatever happens it can’t be any more frustrating than Norwich last week. A game played out in awful conditions. Whilst acknowledging the hosts’ lofty position in the league and their clear ability, Brentford looked sluggish. We struggled as the team failing to show their own class. Albeit I thought Ezri Konsa had a stunning game. The atrocious weather – a deluge of diluvian levels descending on us in the first half – can’t have made things easier but it was the same for both sides.

Instead, we seemed guilty of over-elaborating yet remained unable to forge clear opportunities, that anguished triple chance in the second half aside.  As for the goal conceded, sitting in the stand it looked proper amateur hour. There’s nothing more to say. Move on. Fast. I did have to wonder if the Carrow Road scoreboard was sledging us as we went in one down at half-time with only Daniel Bentley’s spot kick save keeping us in it.

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Or , it could have been a dig at their own penalty skills

And relax. That was then. This is now. It’s a clean slate and time to go for it once more in the first of two back to back London derbies. The visit of Millwall is followed closely by the trip to QPR (for those of you who have been able to access the lower tier). Personally, I’m gutted that having started the season at 100mph, things have hit the skids somewhat. Yet equally, it is perhaps time to show some of that faith that the management had in the squad last season.

Who could forget our somewhat crumby start to that campaign? Hmm. Move along, nothing to see here. It was a period dominated by scrappy goals given away, painful defeats but Dean (supported by Thomas) telling everybody that this team were playing well and usually deserved to win. Yet once it clicked, Brentford were virtually unstoppable. I’ve got a feeling that today we’re going to see similar bouncebackability.

I was fortunate enough to meet Thomas last week, by virtue of Harry being mascot at Norwich. We had a very positive chat about the team, the players and the change in coaching staff. What I took away from that conversation was nothing but a sense of his drive, ambition for Brentford and self-belief in what we are doing as a club. For all it has been joked about in passing on social media, this is no Marinus situation. Quite the opposite. Three points are coming today. And you can quote me on that.  

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When Harry met Thomas

Tidying up the rest of the week’s news. Firstly, have you seen the survey which the GPG have put up on Twitter in regards to the ticketing website? The link is here if not.

It only takes a few minutes to complete and is your chance to share any thoughts – positive or otherwise – in regards to a system which has seen a few challenges in the initial inception. The likes of Beesotted, Bees United and BIAS have shared this one on social media and so I’ve no doubt it has already reached a wide audience. However, if our reader has somehow missed this then here you go….

Secondly. Stadium love. I took my first walk past Lionel Road in a few weeks yesterday. Oh, my. To say this has grown is somewhat of an understatement. Whilst the BFC Drone continues to amaze with those aerial flybys, it’s always great to see our new home from the ground up. Or other angles…  

This picture, taken from the SEGA building, dropped in to the Last Word postbox earlier in the week. It’s incredible how quickly the construction work is moving ahead when you consider it was only in late March that we had the ‘breaking ground’ ceremony. 

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To be this good doesn’t, necessarily, take ages

As such inspired, and with the school run back on after half term, I took a stroll on Friday. Below is my own effort, although you may want to refer to the version on Twitter which you can fully expand to see it in all its glory.

Likewise, not forgetting we still have a home at Griffin Park until 2020. A home which, whilst a little rough around the edges compared to our more illustrious friends, still never fails to take the breath away. As the same school run also demonstrated.

See you there at 3pm.

Lionel wide

Lionel Road in the morning

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Griffin Park by evening

Nick Bruzon

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What can you say? Where do you start?

28 Oct

Where to begin today? In the normal course of events, we’d start by talking about Norwich City v Brentford. Yet having gone to bed and then woken up with nothing but the horrific story from Leicester City at the forefront of the football news, I’m just in shock. As, it seems, is the entire football community. With no official word as yet, we’re still hoping for a miracle yet fearing the worst following the crash of club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter outside their King Power stadium following the Foxes 1-1 home draw with West Ham.

There are no words to describe what has happened. Moreso given how visible this was. We’ve all seen the images of the aftermath and they are terrifying. One can only feel for the families, the fans and all involved at a club who have done nothing but win friends over the last few years.

Who amongst us didn’t cheer when Leicester City defied those 5,000-1 odds to win the Premier league. Beat the top flight far cats time and again to keep up the pace, defy the pundits and win the league. What a refreshing breath of fresh air to those of us who don’t support the likes of Chelsea or Manchester City/United with their logic defying budgets and wealth of world stars at their disposal. What an inspiration to those of us supporting the likes of Brentford.

With the right stewardship, unfancied teams can triumph. They can beat the ‘bad guys’. They can make the dream a reality.

We went to Norwich City yesterday. We lost. 1-0. It wasn’t a great game in the grand scheme and it wasn’t a particularly classy goal to concede. Daniel Bentley’s penalty save from ex-Bee Jordan Rhodes one of the few highlights from a Brentford perspective. Neal Maupay somehow not equalising when most of us were already celebrating.

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Brentford press in the first half.

Despite this, it was what happened off-pitch at Carrow Road that showed me, yet again, how wonderful football can be. What an incredible family there is involved. From both sides.

It’s not even called into question that there will be no quarter given when the whistle blows. Nothing but backing the team, barracking the officials (in the unlikely event that they make a decision we can clearly see was incorrect) and enjoying the misfortunes that befall our opponents on the day.

Yet with HB fortunate enough to be one of two ‘away’ mascots on the day, there was only generosity and magnificence shown to him from start to finish on the occasion of his first Brentford road trip. Norwich were fantastic – let’s get that out there immediately. Staff, fans and players. Even manager Daniel Farke stopped by for a chat with HB, fellow mascot Harvey and Thomas Frank when the players arrived.

Nonetheless, it was Brentford who really raised the bar. The players all stopping for a photo and an autograph with a five year old who is fast shedding that customary shyness in their presence. A quick chance to stick our heads around the door of that infamous pink ‘away’ dressing room. A chance encounter with the ever friendly Chairman Cliff Crown (“Who’s that, daddy?” – sorry, Cliff). Kitman Bob being the legend that he always is and Peter Gilham clearing the scrum around the dugouts as the players warmed up, in order that Harry could get his picture with Thomas.

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Peter can now add ‘Minder’ to his many duties at Griffin Park

Big up to Harvey, too. The two lads were given the choice of who would get to lead out the team. He didn’t even question it but immediately offered the role to his younger counterpart. I can’t thank him enough but, equally, think this shows (once again) the attitude that runs throughout this club. Through so much of football. Yet which is so rarely seen in the wider world. Which needs to be talked about. That, actually, it’s not all those things the press love to highlight such as morons singing awful songs, chanting racist abuse and fighting. There’s a ton of great stuff happening too.

Which is as much as anything why, as an outsider looking in, we could all get behind what happened at Leicester City. They were an unfancied club but one doing things the right way. Doing it with the fans. And what a reward for doing so. Winning the Premier League. A Champions League run. Players now picked for England, and beyond, on a regular basis. And now this.

One can’t even begin to quantify the sheer awfulness of what we’ve seen unfolding. Of what may be announced over the next few hours or days. One thing’s clear though, the footballing world is united and sending nothing but love to Leicester City.

Nick Bruzon

‘That’ day is here. Roll on 5pm.

9 Aug

Here we go, Brentford fans. Strap yourselves in and prepare for that bumpy ride until deadline day concludes at 17.00. With the talk of Ryan Woods to Swansea continuing apace, I’ve also seen plenty of ‘stories’ (hmm) about Chris Mepham to Leicester City (combined with their Harry Maguire to Manchester United) and Sergi Canos to Middlesbrough. We should be talking about the build up to Stoke City on Saturday yet all supporters are doing is crossing their fingers, sweating profusely (that could just be me) and preparing to listen to a day of bums squeaking. After last season’s triple transfer swoop by Birmingham City, one thing we’ve learned is that anything can happen before that accursed window ‘slams shut’ (TM).

Whatever happens today, there are plenty of positives. Plenty. For one thing, no deals have actually been confirmed as yet. Except, of course, that which brought Moses Odubajo back to Brentford for another season. This is a fantastic good news story and one can only hope that, for the player’s sake alone, he is finally able to put that injury hell behind him and get a hugely promising career back on track.

The one down side here was the use of an oh-so confusing hashtag to welcome him back to Griffin Park. Regular readers will know my feelings on these at the best of times. The event-specific comedy hashtag is the lowest of social media art forms (memes aside) and nobody needs another lecture on #trophyfriends (never, ever forget) or #novemberkings. Whilst we seem to have dropped these for a while, our own use of #MolsBack heralded an unwelcome return. Moreso, given the combination of the Twitter typeface and yours truly having a somewhat warped brain read it as Mols Back.

Who is Mol? I thought his name was Moses or possibly Mo for an abbreviation? And what’s up with his back?

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Mo’s back…

It brought all those horrible memories of Manchester United using the #Pogback hashtag to herald the £90m return of player they had sold for £1.5m a few season earlier. Compared to that, MolsBack (Mo Is Back, obviously) is worth every penny of a £3.5m sale turned into a free signing. Whilst in the minority, I wasn’t (quite) alone on this one.

The penny did eventually drop. Glaringly obvious once somebody pointed it out – thank you.

So whilst the out-door is yet to swing, could it? And how many times? The majority of, if not all, Brentford fans were gutted last time out when Maxime and Jota moved to Birmingham City at the death. Joining former captain Harlee who had moved a day or so earlier. Just about the only positives from that one were: the cash (so, so much of it), that Jota hadn’t joined Fulham (which was THE rumour doing the rounds in the few days prior), their subsequent horrific form combined with our own ascension up the table and, of course, THAT game at Griffin Park. Cheer up Harlee Dean etc….

Now we have several names in the frame with Ryan Woods to Swansea being the most talked about story of the summer in TW8. Rumours of an increased £7(seven)million bid were doing the rounds last night with their own Sam Clucas being an alleged target for Stoke. Then there’s suggestions of Harry Maguire moving from 2015/16 Premier League champions Leicester City to Manchester United (talk about a step down to a club who haven’t scoopped the top honour since 2012/13). Completing that merry go round would be our own Chris Mepham. Allegedly.

That’s before we even get to Sergi Canos to Middlesbrough or Romaine Sawyers to Everton. Hey, at least that one is a step up from last season’s rumour of a move to Southend United.

Will all of this play out? No. Will any of it? Quite possibly. The fact that Woodsy was left out from Saturday’s table topping annihilation of Rotherham United spoke volumes. Moreso when Dean used his post-match interviews to explain that, “We both felt it wasn’t the right thing putting him in the squad today.”

I don’t want him to go, let’s be clear on that one. If we get to 16.59.59 and Ryan is still at Brentford then I’m going to be an exceedingly happy man. Yet few could deny his wonderful service to the The Bees. If this one plays out. If Ryan wants to leave then it would only be with best wishes, albeit a few tears in the eye.

Ryan Woods celebration Leeds

Could it be an end to scenes like this?

For me, the real testing point will be Chris Mepham. Without a doubt THE shining star and most potential drenched player in the current squad, Meps is somebody who could go as far as he wants. He has already wowed the crowds, made his Welsh international debut and been the subject of several sky high bids from Bournemouth despite just a handful of league games under his belt. Will a bigger bid come in? Will we accept? Does Chris feel he is ready to step up so soon – he certainly has the talent.

With Ryan, there is a resigned inevitability. Saturday was the tell-tale sign of a wantaway player. With Chris, it is uber-angst about the great unknown playing out. Will he be in the squad for Stoke? Could his future lie elsewhere this weekend? There is absolutely no doubt he will play in the top flight. I just hope it is for Brentford.

And that’s before we get to any of the others. Who will Dean have left to pick from? Are the directors of football already padlocking the gates to Griffin Park, cutting off the phones and taking the players on a day trip to Brentford beach? Who knows? The only things for sure are that by 5pm it will all be over and we’ll know if anyone has ‘done a Birmingham’ to us.

I say it will all be over, that’s not strictly true. Whilst 17.00 is the formal cut off, that’s only for domestic sales and purchases. Reading the deadline day report on the BBC, it clearly notes how football league clubs can still sign loanees and free agents until the end of the month. Likewise, with the European deadlines later in August, they can also sign players after our own cut off this evening. Brentford lending Ryan to Swansea?  Meps to Madrid? Sergi to Barcelona? Stranger things have happened.

Yet if if last season and Birmingham City proved one thing, it is to expect the unexpected when it comes to transfer deadline day. More importantly that whatever short term pain we feel, things have a nice way of playing out…..

Brentford came out of deadline day with heads held high. And a bucketful of cash.

Nick Bruzon

Will Rotherham provide an even bigger shock than at Leicester City? No chance. Here’s why.

25 Feb

Well that was a shock announcement. Not Premier League Champions Leicester City sacking manager Claudio Ranieri. Whilst something that everyone has an opinion on and which we will get to shortly, this column is primarily about Brentford. Yet with Rotherham United visiting Griffin Park this afternoon, could everybody’s favourite feature have taken it’s last breath? Of course, I’m talking about Kitman Bob’s BBGiveaway.

First up though, Rotherham United. One of my most hated phrases in football is ““With all due respect to….”” (i.e. none). See also : “We won’t underestimate them”. It is a phrase well known for meaning anything but and is one usually chucked out just before what is, on paper, a one sided ‘David v Goliath’ type game. A phrase used by pundits and managers alike, just in case the unthinkable happens. The equivalent of that legal arse covering we normally see when scandalous rumour is discussed, with the word ”allegedly” chucked in as a postscrtipt. For example, “I’ve heard that Mrs. Brown is actually a man in a frock. Allegedly.”

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Mrs Brown. A man. Allegedly

And so with Brentford scoring goals for fun at present, I should start by saying something like, “With all due respect to Rotherham United, we’re hoping for three points today”. But I won’t. It would be patronising and it would be a lie. I’m not hoping . I’m absolutely, fully expecting. All the better if it is a win served up with goals, goals, goals. At the very least I can see nothing but a home win and Rotherham’s miserable record continuing.

They are far and away the divisional whipping boys with a mere 17 points from 33 games and a horrific goal difference of -43. Minus forty three. Minus.Forty.Three.

The Millers are 15 points from safety. Effectively 16 if you consider that fourth bottom Bristol City have a GD of -6. Just to put that into context, this season Rotherham have picked up more managers (three) than away points (one). Club sponsors 888sport won’t even allow you to put a bet on them being relegated.

With Brentford now scoring from all positions and having found the net 12 times in the last five games alone, including 2 more in that cracking win at Sheffield Wednesday, I can see nothing but a home win today. Even without the likes of Harlee Dean and Josh McEachran we should still be far, far too strong. A manager as tactically aware as Dean Smith, with the resources at his disposal, should still have more than enough in the squad to put together a winning line up. I’m that confident, I’m betting on it. Purely for research purposes, of course.

Today’s other piece of football prediction comes courtesy of the BBGiveaway. Yes, the legend that is Kitman Bob returns today with everybody’s favourite pre-match competition.

Yet is it one tinged with possible sadness? His ’tweet’ (and, of course, you can follow him as Boblar. on Twitter) hints this could be his last giveaway. It even has the ‘scream’ emoji – Edvard Munch rather than Wes Craven.

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Bob is back with the BBGiveaway

Finger’s crossed that by ‘last one’ he simply means of his exclusive Adidas Jackets , rather than ‘ever’. Nobody needs a lecture from me about how popular Bob is or what a great job he does in engaging fans – both on the pitch and in social media. Here’s hoping that, like Roger Moore at the end of most Bond movies, BBGiveaway will return. Until then, don’t miss out on the chance to pick up this wonderful prize.

On a personal note, this has caused some serious decision making. The BBGiveaway has seen a standard call of Sam Saunders, 7 (seven) minutes. Whilst never winning, it came ‘that’ close in last season’s home win over Fulham. Just 61 seconds separated our opener and the closest I’ll ever get to taking the shirt off the great man’s back. But what do you do when your heroes move on?

Quite simply, get a new one. Whilst there’ll never be another Sam, he can’t get the opening goal for Brentford when he’s playing at Wycombe. And there IS still a Jota – albeit I feel somewhat disrespectful using Sam’s number. Perhaps 8 will be the new 7(seven)?

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Here’s hoping Bob emulates Roger. I’d still settle for a 007(seven) – 0 win

As for the other news of the week, Leicester City dispensing with the services of Claudio Ranieri, what can you say? Well, how about:  ”Deluded grandeur from the back room upstairs”.

They aren’t my words but those of ruby toothed Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall on Twitter (always worth a follow on Twitter , mainly for the unintentional comedy that comes with those who take themselves too seriously, if you can get past his security padlock).

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Not my words etc etc etc

Yet, and much as it pains me to say this, I have to agree with him. This is Leicester City; not Real Madrid. Have some perspective. Have some respect for the man who has provided the club their greatest moment and still has them alive (somehow) in the Champions League. Look at the dignity with which he continues to carry himself and the popularity he holds with supporters all over the football world.

Leicester City were never going to win the Premier League for a second time. Chelsea, Manchester City et al were caught with their pants down and it was wonderful to see the Foxes sweep them all aside. At a club like Brentford, where success has to be earned rather than bought, seeing the underdog triumph against all those big spending title contenders (and also Arsenal) was a wonderful breath of fresh air.

Seeing their manager now dispensed with in such cold and cruel fashion is a depressingly familiar one.

Ultimately, popularity doesn’t win you matches, goals do. Leicester City have failed to do that. Rotherham United have failed to do that. Can Brentford keep on doing it?

At 3pm, we find out. See you at Griffin Park.

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees undone by Leeds, Leicester City scoop more awards whilst this is one scary Santa. A week in football.

19 Dec

Brentford were hit by the ultimate sucker punch at Leeds United – an 89th minute goal from a short corner as the Elland Road outfit ran out 1-0 winners. At the tops its ‘as you were’. Dwight Gayle doing what he does for Newcastle United to move further ahead of Scott Hogan in the Championship scorer charts whilst Brighton kept pace with a 2-1 win at Birmingham City. At the bottom, Cardiff traded places with Blackburn Rovers who once again take up their place in the relegation spots alongside Wigan Athletic and Rotherham. Indeed, only the ongoing ineptitude of those teams stopping QPR from joining them although that gap now down to a mere three points….

That’s the latest Championship action in a nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest edition of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

Actually, there hasn’t been that much this week. That, or the Christmas party season has meant social media usage is a lot less than usual. But we’ll root through the detritus to start with Brentford and the last knockings from the game at Leeds United.

Despite the incredible £37/£42 ticket prices, supporters were in good voice.

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Scott hogan’s goal WAS onside.

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Leeds supporters show just what the win means.

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Tom Field underlined his importance to this team.

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Off the field, there was exciting news on the injury front.

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Whilst, as you could almost have predicted, Martin Allen has done what he does best and now set up an FA Cup third round tie at Griffin Park.

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And one we missed last week but worth a look – just for a surreal headline / teaser line image c/o Beeschat. One can only imagine what takes place over there toast at Dean Smith’s domestic tactical workshop.

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Elsewhere, pickings were slim. Just what is going on at Birmingham City?

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What is going on at Leicester City?

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What is going on at Manchester City?

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Is Mike Phelan channelling his inner Fred Dibnah? Just a flat cap short of the full look…

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Up in Scotland, Santa has taken a very scary turn for the worst.

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Perhaps he’s been listening to the advertisers.

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In more advertising news , Nike have displayed incredible precognitive powers.

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Whilst on the BBC, Sunday night’s Sports Personality of the year saw Leicester City triumph (twice) and Andy Murray receiving his overall winner’s award via a video link up from a friend.

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But, as ever, we close with Ian Moose and his birthday friend of the week. Which of his good friends from the world of football did the Talksport DJ wish happy birthday to, via the medium of a Twitter post and picture of them together?

This week: Preston manager Simon Grayson.

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Nick Bruzon

A great deadline day. And how often do we say that?

1 Sep

So that’s that. The transfer window has slammed shut (TM) and Brentford could, arguably, be said to be stronger coming out of it than we are going in to it (somebody should use that one). Winger Sullay Kaikai comes in on loan  from Crystal Palace whilst left back Rico Henry joins former Walsall team mate Romaine Sawyers, signing on a massive five year contract. Newcastle United, Leicester City and Hull remain disappointed (at least from a Bees perspective) as our out door barely even creaked

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

Sullay Kaikai

Sullay Kaikai on ‘official’ – now THAT’s a signing photo

 

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Ryan Woods signs his extension – is that really a contract?

 

Nick Bruzon 

Is victory a Long shot after strange injury update?

17 Apr

This is a curious one. Brentford take on Bolton Wanderers in Saturday’s ‘must win’ game where it is quite feasible we will be without the services of Everton loanee Chris Long. Despite being unable to feature in the midweek disappointment at Sheffield Wednesday after reportedly suffering from a knee injury (the third successive game he has missed after illness) he was able to play for the Everton U-21s yesterday. Where he promptly got injured!

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Jay Tabb : I’ve been waiting for this game such a long time

23 Dec

Brentford entertain Ipswich Town on Boxing Day, with both teams knowing that victory will take them to the top of the Championship table. However, for many of us older heads there will be as much significance attached to the game with the return of former Bees hero, Jay Tabb. Now playing for Ipswich after six seasons in TW8, it will be the first time Jay has set foot on the Griffin Park pitch in a competitive game since leaving in 2006 following the play off defeat by Swansea City.

The Last Word was fortunate enough to catch up with Jay on Monday evening to get his thoughts on (amongst other things) the campaign so far, the form of both teams and of course what Friday’s game means to a player who spent his formative years in this part of West London .

Before we get onto Brentford, what about Ipswich Town? It has been an absolutely stunning start to the season for yourselves. They must be exciting times at Portman Road? Definitely. And I imagine it’s pretty much the same as Brentford, really. It’s a very tight league at the top with only a few points separating the top six. We’ve had a good start and our manager’s done a great job.

When he took over we were at the bottom of the league but it just goes to show what happens when you get the ability at the club from the top right down to the bottom. That’s what we’ve done in the last couple of years.

We had a good season last year and just missed out on the play offs. This year it’s just going better at the moment but as I say, its so tight at the top and Christmas is a busy period. Anything can happen and we’ve just got to make sure we pick up as many good results as possible to keep it going.

You’ve mentioned the manager. What do you put the strong start down to? Is it him and being able to build up over a couple of seasons? The first five games we played ok but kind of lost the platform. We didn’t play too well against Norwich in the derby match but then had a very good draw away at Derby. That kind of kicked us on a bit and we had a few good results.

You get in a good routine and a good rhythm and confidence starts to flow. We’re a very organised team with a good squad. We’ve got a couple of superstars but not loads. We’re a hard working bunch of guys who get the job done and do what the manager tells us.

Very much like Brentford in a way. No out and out superstars or household names but you’ve almost snuck up the blindside when people were talking about the likes of Norwich City and Fulham at the start of the season.  I think that’s the story of the top six. Everybody was expecting Derby to do well but then you’ve got Bournemouth, ourselves, Brentford and Middlesbrough. So we’ve kind of crept along under the radar but I think that’s the way we like to do it and the way the manager likes to do it aswell. He’s not interested in all the publicity. It’s just about getting the results.

Brentford and Ipswich Town have taken most people by surprise

Brentford and Ipswich Town have taken most people by surprise

And you are starting to get a good run in the team now. It must be very satisfying for you as an individual? Definitely. At the start of the season I wasn’t too sure how much of a part I was going to play in the team but I kept myself fit and I’m quite reliable. The manger knows that he can put me in and I’ll do a job, which is what happened.

I found myself starting the first few games of the season, then I was out a bit, came back in and at the moment I’m playing quite well. Every time somebody gets injured or suspended in our team, somebody else comes in and does a good job so I’m sure the gaffer is delighted about that. At the moment I’ve got the jersey and I’m playing but I know that I’ve got to do really well in the next game to keep it.

As for that goal against ‘Boro at the weekend… What skill to get above two or three men, especially (and forgive me) given your stature. All about the technique but is a Tabby header something of a rarity? It was probably the best header I’ve scored. I remember scoring a nice one for Brentford against Wycombe when the fans walked to the game but I haven’t scored loads with my head. It was just really good timing with a great ball in from Ted Bishop.

I just timed my jump well so that, as I went up, it didn’t really let the defenders jump. I got above them and it was a really nice feeling to score. I haven’t done it since the start of last season.

When you see the ball hit the back of the net it’s such a great feeling for that minute after. It’s such a buzz and I’d almost forgotten what that felt like.

The Ipswich Town twitter feed captures the aftermath of Jay's goal

The Ipswich Town twitter feed captures the aftermath of Jay’s goal

What do you think has been Ipswich’s strongest performance of the season? I think Saturday has to be up there because Middlesbrough are a very, very strong side. They’ve been on a great run but I think the first half was the key.

We got into a 2-0 lead and scoring the goal right on half time was massive. In the second half they came out and had a real go at us. It was backs to the wall stuff and they had a lot of possession, so I’d say that was up there with one of our best performances.

Given where you are in the table at the moment, what is the target for the end of the season or is it simply that old cliché of “taking each game as it comes”? Yeah. It’s a boring answer but it really is. Obviously all the players and each team wants automatic promotion because the play offs are horrible but it’s just so tight. Last year, everybody knew at Christmas that Leicester were probably going to go on and get promoted but at the moment it is so hard to tell because the top six are tightly packed.

Obviously, at the back of the player’s minds you are thinking of where you are in the league and knowing we’ve had a good start but it can all change really quickly. I think if we are still where we are come March then we can start to get excited, but at the moment it’s a good start but that’s all it is.

Ipswich and Brentford have both had "a good start"

The current table – Ipswich and Brentford have both had a good start

Last time we spoke you mentioned you always look out for Brentford in the cup draws as you’d love the chance to come back and play here. Did you ever expect it to be in the League?Yeah. Brentford have been knocking on the door for such a long time now and I was there for three play-off campaigns. They went down, came back up and look like the sort of club that is just so well run and in such a stable place at the moment. So even though I was always hoping for them in the cup, last year really was the one when you thought, “They’re going to do it this time“.

The fact that we are now second and third in the League is going to make it really special. I can’t wait and I’ve been waiting for this game for such a long time. At the start of the season I wasn’t sure what kind of part I’d be playing for Ipswich, even.

When I saw the fixtures come out I thought there was a chance that if I wasn’t in the team I might have gone out on loan by then but I’ve worked hard, got myself in and hopefully I don’t get injured between now and then. I’d like to think I have a part to play in that game and it’s going to be amazing, I can’t wait to get back there.

How do you think its going to be lining up for ‘the opposition’ at Griffin Park? It’s going to be strange, really strange. I had six fantastic years there and I loved it as a club. Its going to be really weird. I think, usually, it’s strange if you’ve just left the season before and come back but I’ve been away for probably eight years, so it may be a little bit different.

But I’m still looking forward to getting back and seeing a few familiar faces like Peter Gilham etc I’m just looking forward to the game and hoping to get a good reception from the fans – its been a long while and so hopefully they’ll remember who I am.

Do you think getting the warm reception and coming back puts any extra pressure on you or is it the case of switch off once the whistle goes? I think it might put me in a good mood. It’s a great ground, a nice, tight and compact ground. I’ve not been back since the roof has been put on the other end but I think it’s going to be a really good atmosphere.

About a month ago I bought ten tickets from the club because I knew I was going to have so many people asking to come. If I get a nice cheer from the crowd it’ll be great and I’ll certainly give them a nice round of applause back.

But then the game will start and it’ll be Ipswich against Brentford. Obviously there’s Stephen Hunt coming back aswell. I was just with him today and we were talking about the game, both looking forward to it. He did a good job for Brentford too and I’m sure he’ll also get a good reception.

Brentford’s start has taken a lot of people, including many supporters, by surprise. When they got up, what did you expect them to do? I’m not too sure really. I don’t watch loads of football so I haven’t seen them play this season. Stephen Hunt watches a lot more than me and says they’ve been playing some really attractive football, passing it around. That’s what I’m expecting . I’ve spoken to a few Brentford fans in the last week and they’ve said the same.

I think their season has mirrored ours. They had quite a good start, picked some points up then had a bit of a blip before picking things up again. Its just two teams in great form and I’m hoping its just going to be a really great game.

These are the two teams of the moment. Whoever wins will top the Championship table. Do you think that’s going to alter your approach any? No, not really. It’s nice to see yourself at the top of the League but its so early yet. Even though it is nice to see that, every player would probably like to hit the top around March or April time when you can see the finish line. At the moment that’s miles away and you can’t even see it yet.

We’ve just come into half way through the season and so to go top on Boxing Day is nice but its not like you are top by eight or nine points. If you do go top its by one point and, if you lose the next game then you could be back down to fourth.

That’s why getting the result is most important. It’ll be a tough game away to Brentford and I think they’ll fancy themselves. They had a great result at Cardiff last week, especially to be 3-0 up. It’s some place to go. We went there and got beat 3-1. They are a team on really good form but so are we.

What about Christmas day? It is the day before the big game but what does it hold for you? We’ll be training at nine o’clock then I’ll be heading down to London to see some friends and family, before meeting the lads at the hotel on Christmas night. You know you can have a little bit of Christmas dinner but you can’t be stuffing your face with the packets of nuts, Pringles and all that other stuff you associate with Christmas It is one time if year where you have to be really determined and respect the job you are in.

And finally, do you have any message for the Brentford supporters coming into the game? First of all have a really nice Christmas and enjoy the game on Boxing Day. It would be great if I got a good reception and I’ll give it back.

I honestly mean it that I can’t wait for this game. It’s one I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time and the fact it has come around mow I just can’t wait.

I’m sure the fans will enjoy it aswell so we’ll see what happens on Boxing Day.

Tabby saw out his Griffin Park career in the play offs, fighting to the last

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