Tag Archives: Lionel Road

Post-match debrief and final season review

24 May

Brentford 1 Leeds United 2. In the end, there was to be no falling apart (Burnley aside) and the 9 man Bees ended up on the wrong end of nil points. On the plus side, a final Premier League position of 13th was well above the expectations of everyone outside of TW8 and with the promise of more to come, August can’t get here soon enough.

As ever at this juncture, time to look at who shone for Brentford. Not just in the Leeds United game but, this time around, over the entire season too. We’ve the usual after match top five and also the final scores and positions in the game-by-game summary that has been conducted over 2022-23

You can find that, here. Enjoy. Here’s to a short break and then doing it all again next time around…

Where do you go from last weekend?

9 Apr

Even a week on, it’s impossible not to still be smiling if you are a Brentford fan. The 4-1 humping administered to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (even Real Madrid only got a 3-1 there a few days later) up  with the very best we’ve ever witnessed our Bees on the road. Think how incredible it was seeing Yoanne Wissa grab that late, late winner at West Ham earlier in the season then multiply the feel-good factor by a zillion. The same player doing the same thing at Stamford Bridge, although of course, but that point the game was well out of sight. Chelsea supporters had already performed an exemplary fire drill routine at the far end and this time the goal was the cherry on the icing on the cake.  An afternoon that will live long in the memory and now one that gives the chance to step on with Sunday’s visit from West Ham.

Players celebrating with the fans as the goals fly in

Brentford will be chomping at the bit to get back out there. To pick up where we left off at Chelsea. A week to recover from the huge shift put in sees the same matchday squad available. Josh Dasilva still misses out although, incredible though it sounds to say this, even fit he’d have been doing well to force his way in – such was the performance last weekend. Instead, the main decision Thomas Frank has to make will be whether to tick with the 3 centre backs or revert to the traditional back four employed in the defeats of Norwich City and Burnley. 

Nobody saw it coming at Carrow Road ; even when the team was announced. People expected more of the same at Stamford Bridge. Including yours truly. Instead, switching back to our more defensive set up actually resulted in one of our most devastating performances of the campaign. Brentford very much pushing up with Christian Eriksen dominant. Everything will, one again, go through him when we step out against West Ham. He’s just too good not to. That’s not to diminish the performance of anyone else with Brentford showing just how good we can be when everybody is on their game. When the balance is right. When you play with confidence. When the crowd are behind you. The reverential hush of Stamford Bridge shattered by the non-stop roar from the Bees’ faithful. What a huge difference it made.

Christian Eriksen – the superlatives are fast running out

 I’ve given up trying to outthink or predict what Thomas Frank will do. For all the snide comments about our head coach and our squad, we’re doing phenomenally. We’re pulling the results out of the bag. The Norwich, Burnley and Chelsea games have seen 9 goals and nine points.

The only recent blip being Leicester City away. Even that could, perhaps should, have been different but if nothing else, the absence of that man Eriksen showing just how important he is to us. Enjoy him while you can and keep everything crossed we’re somehow able to talk him in to staying for another season.

The Bees can feel hard done by at Leicester City

As for West Ham, they’re likely to be in as fine spirits as ourselves. Thursday night saw a 1-1 draw with Lyon in the Europa League quarter-finals. The chance of reaching the last four still very real, although David Moyes is playing the ‘league places’ card and (outwardly) very much fighting on two fronts. Will he freshen up with the fringe players or go for broke? All but two of his starting XI lasted the full 90 minutes against Lyon and with much of the game played with 10 men (Aaron Cresswell seeing red just before half-time) will changes come? Will the focus be on what is a very realistic chance of lifting a European trophy?

One has to hope so. If for no other reason it’ll give them the chance to move on from 1966 or winning the FA Cup in 1980. Trevor Brooking’s header now 42 years on although you’d be forgiven for thinking it was yesterday.

Whomever David Moyes goes with, Said Benrahma will be keen to impress. There was no doubting the love for him from Brentford fans in his time with us. Thanks to Covid we never got to say a proper goodbye whilst the game at the Olympic stadium saw his threat nullified. He’ll likely start this one, too. If for no other reason than being the one to make way at half-time as David Moyes rejigged his side to cope with their self-inflicted on pitch deficit. As ever, the solution will be in taking the game to our opponents and cutting out the playmaker. In keeping the ball, breaking at pace and pinging it around with precision. Rico, Bryan and Christian (Eriksen) will be key to this. 

What a swansong from Said.

Sunday is going to be huge. For both teams. Brentford can still make the top ten of the Premier League. Every win and point will be vital. West Ham will have even loftier ambitions, sitting just three points behind fourth placed Tottenham as it stands. It’s frustrating to have had the game pushed back a day but that’s always the risk as we hit the business end of the season. Instead, today can be spend watching the next stage of the relegation battle. If nothing else, the midweek review of those teams facing the drop (and calling the final three) has very much upset Leeds United fans. Barely anyone else took the bait although I still stand by that call. Everton  – Manchester United this lunchtime is going to be fascinating.

There may be more games moved, in theory. Brentford official shared the below update following the Chelsea – Real Madrid game. So the game with Tottenham will be played on Saturday 23rd April, then.

Until then, the ‘top five’ player review from the Chelsea game is online and up.  Talk about tough decisions to be made – of the best sort.

Sadly, 11 into 5 just won’t go. No matter how much you try to crunch the numbers.

As a final thought, I may be biased but the cover for tomorrow’s matchday programme is just stunning. Top, top work from Dave Flanagan. Very much a work of art and poster quality stuff. May well have to get one of these framed up. 

Top cover art from Dave

For what its worth, I think it’s his best of the season to date. Hats off all round for the team that put this one together. As much for the decision not to go with a cat motif. Kurt Zouma, we’re looking at you. Meow. 

I can’t wait for this one. The sun is out and the place is buzzing. Bring it on and see you there.

I’d have gone for the cat cover

Nick Bruzon

Time to start talking kit (and buying tickets).

24 Mar

We’re half way through the first week of international break. Another ten days until Brentford head to Chelsea for a league game in which there was good news for us Bees yesterday. The narrow defeat at Leicester City now put behind us. Fantasy football teams left gathering dust. No bad thing in the case of yours truly, whose attempt to jinx Leeds United on Friday backfired terribly. Three players selected yet rather than this seeing them fall apart (again), they mounted that stonking rearguard action at Wolves to turn 2-0 down into an eventual 3-2 victory. At the same time, rather than the consolation of a plethora of points that should go with an on pitch win, the net result was a measly three. Three. Points. I give up. That long time aspiration to be a football manager one best consigned to the waste bin of history.

Bruzon’s falling apart. Again.

Anyway, aside from Leeds United and the Foxes putting a dent into the weekend (as ever, you can catch our take on the Brentford ‘top five’ from Leicester City here), there’s been another dalliance or two into the world of football fantasy. Namely, kit design. We shared some of them on these pages in the last few days but, along with some other efforts where we’ve messed around in Photoshop (see – it can be used for more than just venting the spleen about Mrs. Brown’s Boys) why not stick them all up in the same place?

If nothing else, we’re getting close to that time of the season where talk turns to what we’ll be running out in next season. Expect clubs to start dropping their 2022-23 efforts over the coming weeks and, whilst we’ve traditionally left things late, we already know that our home shirt will remain the current home shirt. Huge thanks from from the Bruzon family piggy bank on that decision to roll over this season’s design.

The flip side to this equation being we’re guaranteed a new away and third kit. Jon Varney has already confirmed that, “We hope the new away shirt design will excite our fans who remember the 80’s and early 90’s, whilst the new third shirt is designed very much for the future!

What does all this mean, though? The obvious guess would be a return for either the Hummel fractals or more blue on blue for our change colours. Possibly even the one season wonder that was the Funky Bee centenary crest. Go on Bob, I dare you…

Could the 2022-23 be heading down one of these routes…

Or, of course, rather than colours it could be a reference to our much loved ‘castle badge’ which was everywhere in the 80-90s . Tapping into that retro vibe very much in evidence at the moment. A bit of castle action. A helping hand from one of my favourite (non Bees) Umbro kits of all time. A sash. My word, an actual sash on a Brentford shirt…

…. or perhaps adopting the Castle badge once more?

As for the ‘one for the future’, that’s as open to interpretation as you want.  Could we be going back down the trailblazing route? Specifically that adopted with the brown / orange? Whilst it is, without doubt, up there with our best ever change strips in years, it’s fair to say that one split opinion. Incredibly, some people didn’t like it – I know, I know – so would take a huge leap of faith to retread that path. Then again, combine those colours with some yellow and our much repeated ‘Bus stop in Hounslow’ tag for the obvious solution. One we’ve talked about before and would take balls of marketing steel to adopt. Albeit, just imagine…..

Just for the meltdown…..

Then there’s our favourite yellow and black combo. The one unveiled in the window of a Bathroom shop (c/o our then sponsors, Bathwise) . Albeit remixed into more of a Bee motif.

Or something more simple but (and with apologies for shoddy photoshoppery) showing colours appropriate for what’s going on in the wider world at the moment.

It’s all complete guesswork and, with no inside knowledge, nothing more than a bit of fun. The point being that talk will soon be starting. The guesses will begin. The reveal will be dropped on us.

We’ve had it all over the years. Fans involved. A youth team member leaking the picture. The week long strip tease inflicted upon us by (now Leyton Orient) chief executive Mark Devlin. The only ask this time around being that whatever it is, please make it quick and make it soon. And Bob, if you are reading – I’m available….

How not to ‘launch’ an away kit. Curse that leak

Until then, which of these would you pick ?

Theo other, actual, news from yesterday was the news that Chelsea tickets are back on sale. With the terms of their sanctioning tweaked, Brentford fans with over 2,000 TAPS will be able to get these from today on a first come, first served basis. 1,600 were already sold before the shutters came down which, by my rudimentary calculations, means we have another 1,400 to go. Don’t @ me if that maths is wrong. Just move quick smart if you want in. Full details here, on Brentford ‘official’.

Until then, you can have a vote on the kit or catch up on that Leicester City piece.

Nick Bruzon

Time to shed the L plates and get back to business

11 Feb

Brentford are back at home on Saturday for a clash with Crystal Palace where getting a point or three on the board is very much top of the priorities. Wednesday night’s 2-0 reverse at Manchester City felt like Liverpool away all over. Whilst a performance to give huge swathes of encouragement for the rest of the campaign, it still ended with another L being added to our current run of league form. At face value, our record is worse than The England Supporters Band World Cup singalong EP. Current results seeing the letter L becoming as unwelcome as one hanging around Mrs. Brown’s (of Boys infamy) neck on a hen night. Sounds and sights that nobody needs. The big question being how we get to reverse this blip before it moves form a statistical anomaly to an albatross?

Sights and sounds nobody needs

First things first, Manchester City away. The highlights of that one were covered off in the player review which you can find here. An already tough task was made inifinitely harder before the game had even started when it was revealed there would be no Ivan Toney, no Vitaly Janelt, no Bryan Mbeumo and no Yoanne Wissa. Striking options reduced to Sergi Canos and Saman Ghoddos.

We love Sergi in our house but if those two knew each other like the back of their hand then they must have been wearing gloves. Those rare opportunities where a break was made possible immediately snuffed out by a wayward pass or the offside flag.

The positive news being our performance in keeping our hosts at bay. Many had expected Manchester City to score at will but an ultra-disciplined performance at the back – where Kris Ajer and Rico Henry in particular were standout – saw the attacking threat nullified. The midfield, likewise. Something which made the manner of the two goals we did concede all the more frustrating.

Sergi spurning chances to release the ball in midfield, losing possession and Mads Roerslev giving away a clumsy penalty form the resultant ball forward. It was all a bit Laurel and Hardy yet so avoidable. From Sergi’s part, last season’s Norwich City away all over again. An infrequent but glaring howler. For Mads, perhaps a bit of inexperience and big game rabbit in the headlights but, again, he didn’t even get close to the ball and it was as clumsy as they come. David Raya with no chance from the spot kick. Much as the game in Liverpool, forty plus minutes of resolute defending undone with one lapse minutes before half-time.

If the first had been Liverpool away, the second was a carbon copy. Perhaps even tougher to swallow given we’d been playing our way back in to the game. Rico had almost equalised moments after the penalty and now the Bees were actually breaking forward. Putting City on the backfoot. Yoanne Wissa was all set to join the fray when more sloppiness, from the unlikeliest of sources. David Raya passing it out of defence and straight to Raheem Sterling. It was Alvaro Fernandez at Anfield all over again. One that we will, perhaps, be generous and chalk down to being out of action for all those months. If nothing else, his performance the rest of the game was as welcome and confidence inspiring as they come.

Let’s be clear, having David Raya back is a magnificent thing. No Brentford fan would deny that. Form started to wobble the moment he went away and, whilst it may take a game or so to reacquaint himself with the defence, long term our prospects are infinitely sounder. Likewise Josh Dasilva, who came off the bench for a pre-planned substitution. He was our star man against Everton and continues to show what we’ve been missing. Cautious reintegration to the team – it was a LONG injury break – will surely be the way here as fitness returns.

Then there’s Christian Eriksen. Is Crystal Palace too soon for him to have a run out? He’s been in training this week and says he’s in better shape than ever , albeit obviously lacking competitive minutes.

When might he step from training ground to first XI ?

However, with two goalkeepers being maned on the bench for Manchester City, I’m half expecting him, to be added to the substitutes for Palace. Even if there’s no chance of getting an actual run out. Just think of the boost it will give the crowd when his name is read out. When we see him warming up. Running down the touchline. Perhaps as important a move to make as actually bringing a player on. As for the noise if / when Christian finally enters the fray. Whether it is against Crystal Palace or elsewhere. Thomas has a wonderful card up his sleeve and when he plays it is a decision that has everyone guessing. Everyone talking. Everyone anticipating.

As for Crystal Palace, they’re only a point ahead of the Bees following a 1-1 draw with Norwich City midweek. I don’t think even Dean Smith would claim his side deserved to win after the Eagles had a gola disallowed and were guilty of missing what has been described as one of the worst Premier League penalties of all time. If only Manchester City had followed that script.

The game at Selhurst Park ended in a 0-0 draw. Our first Premier League away day played out in a cauldron of noise – even if it did require, shudders, a drummer to help crank things up. Likewise, there was fake Hans Gruber in the supermarket end, Doing his best to wind up the visitors and falling flat on his face (metaphorically speaking) after being invited to leave by the stewards.

Goodbye

Despite the mayhem and chaos all around, Brentford more than held their own. Recreating similar (perhaps without the drum) will be huge tomorrow. Ivan Toney being declared fit, equally so. Thomas Frank used his press conference yesterday to share the update that, “We found out late on Monday afternoon that Ivan Toney would be a big doubt for the City game (with a calf injury) but fingers crossed he’ll be ready for Saturday. It will be a race against time but we’re hoping he’ll be okay for the Palace game.

Only time will tell if Ivan is involved. If Bryan starts or Vitaly is fit. Whether Christian Eriksen could make a gladiatorial entry into the fray. Roll on 2.01pm when the team is named and we find out.

Bring it on. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Do we have to do the Ivan Toney video thing? We were on a break.

29 Jan

With top flight football on brief hiatus before we get back to action, these pages have been quiet for a few days. Blessed relief for some but there’s only so many times you can try and make noise out of Brentford and games which are still at least a week away. Everton (FA Cup) and Manchester City (Premier League), for the well-played record There’s no point any further conjecture around Christian Eriksen. Currently training with Ajax but still expected at Lionel Road in a few days’ time – albeit the only person taking longer to get their paperwork lodged would seem to be Sue Gray. It was supposed to be a break from the blogging with, rather, content being filed for the next few home programmes. Crystal Palace and Newcastle United kit pieces are in – the later of which hopefully won’t go go anywhere near the censors (if you are reading, editor – unlikely, let’s be honest). Then the combination of insomnia and the world seeming to explode over ‘that’ Ivan Toney holiday video seemed like a good place to jump back onboard.

Did he really say it? Well yes, but….

We’ve all, I assume, seen it? A 7 (seven) second clip of Ivan on his holidays. Taking a well deserved break, like the rest of the squad, after the exertions of the season. In Dubai (I believe) and unwinding at a discotheque after spending the last six months in the microscope of the Premier League. After defying the pundits and most people’s expectations by not being relegated but, rather, aside from a smattering of away games holding our own for vast swathes of the campaign. Oh, we’ll never get that time at Burnley, Brighton or Southampton back. 

But the critics and the clickbait mongers need something. And here it was. Ivan, uttering the words: “F*&k Brentford”. Taken out of context and printed down they read as bizarre, at the very best. Put them into the context of the actual video clip, engage your eyes and brain for more than a millisecond and it’s just nothing. Nothing. A young man relaxing on holiday and clearly, clearly, clearly trying to impress (presumably) a woman. A woman who even has to feed him the ‘killer’ line which he then repeats in almost bemused and confused fashion. Thinks: Why am I saying this? Oh well, if it helps get my end away then whatever.

Come on, Ivan. Say: “F*&k Boo-entford”

Footballer says something silly shocker. Man clowns around to try and impress lady. Err, that’s about the strength of it I think.

Don’t even be going all holier than thou Brentford official and launching an ‘inquiry’.

Don’t even think about apologising, Ivan. About doing one of those toe-curling videos saying how much you love and respect the fans.

We know. We don’t care. It’s so obvious as to what it is that most people with more than a double figure IQ can see. If there is any ‘remorse’ felt in the cold light of day and, let’s be clear that there shouldn’t be, then make it up by getting the winner against Everton. By beating the bookies to help us with what are, at present, 39/2 odds on winning at Manchester City.  Hey, I’ve invested. Who needs non-fungible tokens? There are much easier ways to make a fortune! Please note: fortune not guaranteed.

Roll on Everton. Roll on the prospect of new manager Frank Lampard (if you believe the rumours) losing his first fixture. Put to the sword by Ivan’s boot.  Perhaps even feeding from an assist by Christian Eriksen. Sorry Toffees’ fans. Sorry Allan. It’s football and we need to dream. Imagine the scenes. There’d be more limbs than a doll factory. That’s the focus now.  This video nonsense nothing but that. Nonsense. Forgotten about and filed away.

We’re hardly in Jamie Bates personal services’ territory. In Quarter Pound of Rubbish take-over talks. Waving W£bb Out flags. Now there were actual scandals…

Ivan, if you are reading (and again, we’re clutching at straws beyond even those of beating City) then we need to be clear. Nobody gives a flying monkey. Tell us you were misquoted if you want. I mean, you weren’t but it’s irrelevant. Don’t go near an apology. Don’t listen to the press. Just do your talking on the pitch.

And if you could help me win that bet, would be hugely appreciated…

Ivan under the microscope – nobody gives a flying monkey

Nick Bruzon

Eriksen update tops surreal afternoon of drone, parachute and a Bankes robber.

23 Jan

Where to even start after the most ludicrous, incident filled, crazy game of football we’ve ever witnessed? Waking up on Sunday morning and the brain is still fizzing off the back of a 2-1 victory for Wolverhampton Wanderers over Brentford at Lionel Road in which what happened between the two teams was probably the least of the talking points. With the Christian Eriksen story also feeling like a done deal now (perfect timing with Manchester City away, our next Premier League fixture) , the goals and game almost feel like an after thought.

Is Christian about become a Bee?

So let’s start there. The actual game bit. Well done Wolves. Defensively organised and solid. Taking advantage of a cautious Brentford side in the second half to go for the jugular and score three goals with the Bees defence standing off. Static. Shots from the edge of the box all flying past Jonas Lossl. That the final one was removed by VAR for offside doesn’t disguise the fact that we were left exposed time and again. Ivan Toney brought things level midway through the second half with a wonderful strike for 1-1 but just when it looked like we’d haul ourselves back in to it, the Bees shot themselves in the foot. Whilst the ‘player review’ is now online here, for this page let’s focus on the other stuff. And my word, that other stuff didn’t stop.

First up, the referee. Peter Bankes. Robin Bankes more like. A game of football stolen from the fans. He was horrific. Awful. For both teams. Wolves and Brentford united in their chants of ‘Can we have a referee’. Did I imagine it? Well, no although if you’d been reliant purely on Match of the day, yes. The only concession to anything vaguely contentious being the comment that, “The afternoon gets more and more bizarre.” Not my words Carol. The words of BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce.

This, after Toti Gomes had scythed through Kris Ajer and been shown straight red for dangerous play. That the decision was, in hindsight, correct to be reversed added further injustice given the fact that play had been immediately halted with Bryan Mbeumo clear though in the box. No sending off (come on Alex Austin, you’re by the VAR seat for a reason) and no attempt at goal possible. 

Amazingly (its Brentford, innit? and we’ve all been here way too long) the restart saw Toney’s wonder strike. Justice done but through nothing to do with the man in the middle. That said, Mr. Bankes would eventually get to wave his red card but we’ll get there shortly. 

Yet this was just one of a collection of strange events in a game which I wouldn’t be surprised if the phrase ‘irregular betting patterns’ was eventually used to describe. First up, the drone. There it was, hovering over the pitch midway through the first half and once spotted Mr. Bankes had no choice but to pull the players off. For fifteen minutes.

Peter Gilham helpfully explaining over the p.a. how Premier League rules state that “In the event of an unofficial drone over the pitch” he had to clear the field of play. Eventually adding, “Don’t blame the referee. Don’t blame the players. Don’t Blame me. Blame the drone.” He’s right, of course, and the ref did the right thing here. (Not a typo) . “Who’s the wanker with the drone?” sang the crowd before it eventually disappeared to be replaced by a police chopper. 

It meant a colossal 15 minutes of time (at least) was wasted with the players then having to come back out for a warm up before the board showed the first half would conclude at that point. After an additional +19 minutes of time added on. How he came to this conclusion I have no idea. Outside of regular incidents we’d already had a huge stoppage for the horrific injury between Rico Henry and Matthias Jensen. The pair of them both going to clear the same hoofed clearance and colliding with each other in a sickening clash of heads.

Lengthy treatment followed before both were eventually guided from the field of play and subbed off. Blood everywhere. The photos doing the rounds not pleasant. We’ll opt for a claret free choice c/o MOTD. How this stoppage was meant to signify a mere 4 minute delay I have no idea but perhaps Mr Bankes has a different watch to the rest of us.

All being well both players are ok this morning but if nothing else, it gave Peter Gilham his first opportunity of the afternoon to delve into the the official Premier League rule book and explain that both players had been replaced as ‘concussion substitutes’, meaning they didn’t count towards our tally of three permitted changes.

Sickening

Eventually, half time came. Peter telling us, “We’ve had a drone this afternoon. Now you can hear me drone on…” before prefacing the second period with the deadpan comment, “Just remember the date. Saturday 22nd January. 2022.” 

If his youthful apprentice Stu SoccerAM is ever to inherit the mantle of full time announcer, he’s  got a lot of learning to do if there’s any desire to match this level. What a teacher to have, though. Amazing. Yet that’s the experience that being at the helm since 1969 gives. Even his closest rival on the experience stakes,  George Sephton at Anfield whom we all heard last weekend, can’t hold a candle to Peter. Long may he continue. Zingers that money can’t buy.

As if to underline the date, the second half was then delayed just as the game was set to start with Mr. Bankes leaving the field of play. A problem with his earpiece meaning he couldn’t communicate with his assistants. On an afternoon of arbritary decision making to match the worst of what we’ve seen in all our years, it would have needed more than an earpiece to help him communicate. Oh well. 7(seven) minutes later and with the players having gone through a second mid-game warm up, we were back under way.

The surreal events continuing later through the half with a small parachute descending to the pitch in front of the North stand. It happened right in front of me and dropped straight down. This was not thrown from the crowd.

In lieu of ‘Action Man’ or whomever would have been held beneath the canopy, it appeared to be carrying what appeared to be a pair of frilly pink knickers. Granted, my eyes are poor but this was the ‘best guess’ consensus from those sitting around us. Whether the drone had returned to drop off a cargo of lingerie or some other reason, it rounded off a Daliesque afternoon in more confusion.

Or should that be, almost rounded off. Full time eventually came at the end of a game that had seen a total 26 minutes of additional time. Thomas Frank, understandably, frustrated after a game which had seen our early momentum stopped dead by the aerial visitor and then Brentford unable to repel Wolves in the second period. With the players being applauded off the pitch, there appeared to be confrontation in the middle with Bankes brandishing the yellow card now once but twice. Our head coach sent off. Ejected from the field of play. His explanation to the press afterwards revealing…   

I got a yellow because confronting one of their players. Fair enough. And then I turned around and said to Peter, “You can just give me another one”, because I was very irritated But its not because of this… just asked the ref and apparently I was too aggressive. Look back and if you think I was too aggressive then I can just put my hands up and say that’s not good enough. I tell my players not to keep their emotions get stupid cards and of course that was stupid by me.”

Thomas aggressively responding to Peter Bankes

A flat, flat ending to a surreal afternoon all round. Then, light at the end of the tunnel. Bright light. Christian Eriksen IS signing for The Bees. It is as nailed on as one could expect with a series of posts on social media detailing the move. And that’s just what has been shared so far. This IS happening. My word. It will be immense. We’ve got a break next weekend, followed by Everton in the FA Cup in a fortnight. Then there’s the small matter of the trip to Manchester City. 

Things are never dull at Brentford, that’s for sure. This crazy end to what was already up there as one of the craziest day we’ve ever experienced proving that yet again.

One of several posts from the GPG

Nick Bruzon

Liverpool, Manchester United and Christian Eriksen latest plus the video to make our eyes light up.

18 Jan

Another day in the non-stop rollercoaster ride that is Premier League life. Brentford have done with Liverpool and we’re now set to host Manchester United . There’s FA Cup news out of Everton plus more midfield news than you can shake a stick at with Christian Eriksen of Denmark being just one of the names out there at the moment. 

Could we actually do this?

Which, with all due respect to Liverpool and Manchester United, needs to be where we start. The GPG have had the story building for over a week but now the rest of the world seems to have caught up with this. The BBC and several newspaper sites confirming that Brentford have been in touch with the Danish midfielder who has been released from his contract with Inter Milan. Serie A rules not allowing the sort of pacemaker which he has had fitted following that terrifying moment over the summer at Euro 2020.  

109 international caps. A pedigree in domestic football that also takes in Ajax and Spurs. 36 goals for his country from a variety of midfield positions. There are no words needed to describe his talent and word on the street is that there are a number of other top flight clubs looking to sign him. However, the actual word out of TW8 being that talks HAVE taken place between Brentford and the player about a six-month deal. Now, the inevitable negotiations begin.  

I can’t imagine somebody of his stature comes cheap, that’s for sure. How big a draw the power of Thomas Frank and the other Danes on our playing staff over wages will be remains to be seen. I’m drooling at the prospect of seeing him alongside Christian Norgaard. Chuck in Mathias Jensen for the full triumvirate. Right now, its more the case of hoping Thomas can do his thing to sell the Brentford project to his fellow countryman. 

Likewise, and perhaps more importantly, being hugely grateful that we can even be having this conversation. The sheer awfulness of what happened over the summer needs no revisiting. The despair and panic felt at the time unable to be put into words. And that was just us watching on from back home. It’s not possible to even half imagine how it felt for his team mates and family after he suffered that on pitch cardiac arrest in the game against Finland.

Thankfully, of course, the medical staff and his own team mates worked wonders to bring him back following the emergency treatment administered at the time. Now he’s in wonderful health by all accounts and chomping at the bit to go again – even targetting a place at the World Cup in December.  

That journey has to start somewhere and Brentford are the ones at the forefront of looking to help him take that first step. Could it happen? Will it happen? Is an unveiling before Manchester United too far flung a dream to cling to? Might it all come to nothing? Fingers are certainly crossed with, I have no doubt, much more to come in the coming days. 

The other news to set tongues wagging concerned a player already on our books. With video footage to match. We’ve all seen the pictures of Josh Dasilva in recent weeks but now he’s been in actual match action. You know, kicking a ball and everything. 45 minutes at Jersey Road in a game with Havant and Waterlooville. The comeback is most definitely on and whilst it may take a while longer to be involved in full fat first team action, this is about as big a boost as they come. Feast your eyes on this. 

Elsewhere, we’ve now gone live with the post match player and performance review following the game at Liverpool. Who were the top five for Brentford? Who is ahead in the race to be our season long star man? Who should have been included but missed out? You can find the answers and catch up on that piece, here.

In other news, TAP limits for the FA Cup fourth round tie at Everton have been announced. The figure cited by Brentford ‘official’ means just about anyone who has seen us on the road can take the trip to Goodison Park on Saturday 5th February. Season Ticket Holders with 1200+TAPs will be able to book their guaranteed place from today. 6,000 tickets are, I believe, available and priced at just £15 these are sure to fly off the shelves. If nothing else, it gives a chance to complete the Stanley Park bingo card following Sunday’s game. 

Two for the price of one

Until then though, it’s almost time for another home game. The chance to have played all 19 clubs in the Premier League will finally arrive. Manchester United being the last of the outliers following their 11th hour Covid related cancellation request back in December. How long ago does that feel now? The delay has allowed us to welcome back Kris Ajer and strengthen our goalkeeping options, amongst others permutations. It seems like another lifetime away when we were talking about having to bring out 18 year old Matthew Cox against the Red Devils for his Brentford debut? Perhaps we still will although any change should it come will, surely, be in the direction of Jonas Lössl. 

Today’s press conference will be telling as to both injuries and team selection. Even if it does end up being dominated by talks of another Dane in Christian Eriksen. All that’s to come, of course. For now we need to focus on Manchester United and the chance to pick up another three points. They looked wobbly (the story of the season) against Aston Villa and may well be without Cristiano Ronaldo which, if nothing else, is disastrous news for all the ‘Can I have your shirt…?’ placard makers. 

Could we do it? Will we do it? There’s only one place to be to find out. Lionel Road. See you there. 

Nick Bruzon 

Who were the top five performers at the weekend?

17 Jan

So Brentford lost out at Anfield on Sunday. A 3-0 reverse to Liverpool coming after 45 minutes of rock solid defending had almost threatened to send the half-time crockery flying. Then, the dam finally broke after wave upon wave of Red pressure and the rest is history. With Manchester United next up on Wednesday, are there grounds for expectation that another big name scalp will be claimed? Will the defensive, err, blips that gifted the third goal in particular be consigned to the waste bin of history?

Brentford push forward at Anfield

As ever at this juncture, we take a look at who deserves to keep their place in the Brentford starting XI after the Liverpool game and who were our top five players at Anfield? Does anyone deserve to miss out against Manchester United or will it be more of the same when Thomas names his team? Looking further afield, how is the race to be our season long star man shaping up?

You can find the answers to all these questions along with the summarised version of the team performance here. Who missed out? Who should have been included? Have we got it right? Over to you….

And that silenced The Kop

17 Jan

Liverpool 3 Brentford 0. The Bees returned to Anfield for the first time since that 1989 FA Cup tie for the return Premier League fixture following our 3-3 draw at Lionel Road earlier this season. This time, however, there was no contest. The odd flurry of chances aside – Bryan Mbeumo channelling his inner Richard Cadette for the closest of these – it really felt like one-way traffic. Yet with Manchester United next up there were still plenty of positives to take ahead of Wednesday night’s home game. Primarily, the return of Rico Henry and the backs to the wall defending – a mile away from the Southampton horror show – that accompanied the opening 44 minutes. Liverpool dominating and pushing but unable to find a way through.

Bryan runs at the Liverpool defence

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages, albeit the player review is now up. For now, the headlines surround two levels of Bees’ defence. That opening phase where despite the hosts having 75% possession, there was no way through. Kris Ajer ploughing through Jota. Pontus heading it clear time and again. Most exciting of all, the return of Rico Henry. His substitution just into the second half confirmed by Thomas Frank as being nothing more than precautionary, with the left back apparently available for Manchester united during the week. Whilst he was on the pitch, there was no holding back the man who is on a fast track to challenge for our player of the season.

Yet when the goals came, they were awful. Awful. A corner that bypassed the entire defence for the opener. A cross that could have been claimed or cleared for the second. A totally needless attempt to play it out from the back that culminated in the inevitable disaster for the third. What Alvaro Fernandez was thinking not once but twice before Minamino wrapped it up I have no idea. A huge shame because he has kept us in it as much as anyone prior to that with a series of smart saves.

What can you say? Resolute defence and valiant effort count for nothing when the final scores are read. Moreso when the nature of the goals conceded was as frustrating as we all saw. Yet having contained our hosts for the vast majority of the opening period and only falling out of sight relatively late on, the contest always felt even. At least in terms of Brentford potentially hauling themselves back in to it. Had Bryan gone the other side of the post with the away support already cheering the equaliser, who knows what might have been? Instead, class eventually shone through and the game ended as comfortably as the scoreline and the statistics suggest.

Ah, yes. Class. Let’s not forget who we were up against. And where. A team second only to Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title. A transfer budget, spending power and sheer quality of playing staff. A stadium with three times the amount of supporters than is possible at Lionel Road.

At face value these were insurmountable odds but we gave it a damn good shot before administering the fatal blow ourselves. That’s not to be harsh. This was a huge learning curve and should Premier League football be on the agenda for next season (Liverpool do seem safe, to be fair) then this sort of experience will only stand us in good stead.   

The Brentford fans were magnificent, btw. What an atmosphere being generated at the away end. What a noise. Singing throughout and cranking it up as the game progressed. In contrast, The Kop less a 12th man as more a library. Certainly, by the sound of things. The fabled atmosphere very much muted for vast swathes of the game.

Keep it like that for Wednesday and who knows what could happen.

Special mention for the rail seating, btw. Everyone stands away from home, anyway, so nothing new there but great to see this legitimised. Hopefully more to follow in our own West Stand shortly off the back of a trial that is only going to get formal approval based on all the evidence seen so far.

The only thing probably worth being aware of as we progress our own drive towards this type of standing, being how anybody lacking in stature gets to see the game. Specifically the kids. Our Harry spent the opening period staring into the backs of the fans in front given, unlike a traditional terrace, there was no room to move. The obvious answer is to stand on the seat, which he did, much to the chagrin of two Brentford ‘fans’ behind him who then started taking photos and went crying to the stewards about it. This despite the eight year old’s head being lower than everyone else in the rest of our group. My word. Seriously? Hats off to the stewards, too, who after ten minutes of their nonsense told him to stand on the seat and get on with it. He wasn’t overly phased whilst all this was going on and, instead, spent the time asking why it was called The Kop rather than The Klopp.

Rail seating looks here to stay based on the evidence

On the other hand, it was so good seeing all the other friendly faces. Including Harry Potter, whom I still can’t get used to seeing in anything beyond his now absent Gunnersaurus coat (Burgundy is not the new green), and somebody who came ‘full Sherlock Holmes’. The good vibes culminating in a chorus of “We’ll race you back to London” as the Liverpool fans poured out before full time.

Overall, a result which was expected by many observers but despite pressure, pressure, pressure The Bees held strong for so long. Had Bryan’s second half chance gone in at 1-0 down well, it would have been dreamland for Brentford, wouldn’t it? It was inches wide of the post. And that…silenced the Kop.

RIP Tony Gubba.

See you all on Wednesday for Manchester United

Nick Bruzon

Heroes and Villans at Lionel Road. Was this the worst dive ever?

3 Jan

Brentford are now half way through a first Premier League campaign that finds the Bees on 23 points and as close to the Champions League spots as we are the the relegation zone (a difference of 12 in either direction). The first game of 2022 seeing a 2-1 victory in a pulsating game with Aston Villa. A game where the Bees started weighed down by lethargy but ended it on fire. So much so that cringey last minute theatrics were brought into play but, thankfully, the officials were not fooled by the sniper in the crowd. Saman Ghoddos being a good yard away from Trézéguet as the Villa man pulled off the worst piece of acting since Mrs. Brown’s Boys graced our screens. A dive Tom Daley would have been proud of. Now, its onwards and upwards to Southampton and then Liverpool….

A sniper takes aim. Surely…..

Talk about a game of two halves. Brentford were awful at first. Slow. Disintersted. Leaden. One North stand observer would explain afterwards how she spent he first half hour doing her accounts on spreadsheet whilst her other half spent the time watching , well…. What he was watching was best summarised as: somebody from the world of music watching his son watching the flight tracker app on his mobile phone. I know Villa were hard to beat but it wasn’t that bad an opening period, was it?

A change in starting XI seeing Sergi in for Dominic Thompson (bench) and Mads Roerslev continuing at right wing back. Kris Ajer was, at least, on the bench with Mads Bech retaining his place in the middle. A midfield trio of Frank the Tank, Christian Norgaard and Matthias Jensen supporting Wissa and Ivan Toney up top. Shandon Baptiste making way. Only Mads Bech keeping us in it during a ghastly first 40 minutes.

Danny Ings produced the opening goal with little more than a quarter hour gone. Emi Buendia, our scourge of last season, producing a moment of absolute brilliance in the middle of the park to open up the Brentford midfield and release Ings. The Aston Villa man making no mistake with an inch perfect drive that squeezed between the despairing finger tips of Alvaro Fernandez and the far post. 1-0 Villa and it could, probably should have been more. Brentford not at the races. Or perhaps we were, because we certainly weren’t at a flat feeling Lionel Road.

Then, the game exploded into life with half-time beckoning. Mads Roerslev exchanging passes with Jensen and then breaking forward down the right. An inch perfect ball across the face of the box found Wissa. One touch, control and then a left footed curler guided home with laser like precision. Martinez in goal left with no hope. That trademark celebration igniting the crowd and his team mates from their slumbers.

Watched this on MOTD2 a few times 🙂

As we’ve said many, many times  – possession and chances are all well and good but the only thing that truly counts is the amount of times the ball has hit the back of the net. Aston Villa should have been out of sight. Instead, it was Steven Gerrard rather than Thomas Frank smashing the tea cups as the opening period ended up 1-1. Brentford with a solitary effort but what a way to take it. What a way to come back to life.

From that point on it was game over. Thomas Frank’s substitutions just heaping the pressure on. First the determined Ghoddos. Here was a man playing for his chance against Southampton. Then Baptiste who gave a masterclass in midfield. His partnership with Norgaard a constant thing of beauty. Chuck in Vitaly for a late cameo and it ended about as good as it can from a playing perspective (certainly, given the options available at present). Then, Mads Roerslev cemented his place in history. Became our 11th Premier League goal scorer.

With 83 minutes gone, Shandon played it into the box on the diagonal. The overlapping Roerslev leathered it at Martinez who could only push it back into the wing back’s path. There was no mistake with that second bite of the cherry. If Lionel Road had erupted for Wissa, the roof was positively torn off this time around. Oh, my. What a moment. What a sound. What a feeling. What a win, we hoped….

It’s Brentford, innit. Another 7(seven) minutes plus a further five of injury time added on saw Martinez charging up for the last few corner kicks. It had been bad enough against Leeds. Surely lightning couldn’t strike twice? Surely?

It didn’t, as much thanks to the alertness of the officials after Trezeguet had channelled the spirit of Rivaldo as one magnificent save from Alvaro Fernandez. How Ings didn’t level I have no idea but there was our ‘keeper to keep it out at point blank range. The spirit of Elland Road well and truly exorcised.

Fairplay to Villa. They deserved more than their nothing based on effort. One can only imagine the words had Dean Smith been at the helm still. But football hangs on moments. Hangs on goals scored. The simple truth is that Brentford seized theirs and stopped the visitors doing the same. It may have been scrappy at times but there was no disputing the quality of the goals or the phenomenal second half effort. Had we been scuppered by Trézéguet’s blatant cheating late on there may well have been a riot. Thankfully, justice was done.

Next up, the FA Cup trip to Port Vale and then back to back away games in the League. Southampton first and then Liverpool. With the African Cup of Nations seeing the Anfield outfield denied a galaxy of starts, could we be hopeful of taking a minimum four points from these two games? Who knows? Play like we started yesterday and we’ll be coming home from both empty-handed. Play like we finished it and anything is possible…..

The player review is up now and you can find that here. Until then, nothing more to do but reflect on a job well done. The table doesn’t lie. Nor does the scoreline. We’ve been hard done by at home this season when playing out of our skins (Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City in particular). For once, it was nice to see that despite a woeful start, chances can be taken. Points can be earned.

Well played all round. Until then, here’s that dive……..

Nick Bruzon