Tag Archives: Lionel Road

Bees stung by table toppers on a low key afternoon.

19 Sep

One to file under ‘bad day at the office’. Brentford welcomed Arsenal to the GTech on Sunday lunchtime and left on the wrong end of a 3-0 reverse. The destruction of Leeds United last time out now nothing more than a happy memory rather than something that could have been used as a springboard to even bigger and better things. The 11th hour posptponment of our game at Southampton following the death of Queen Elizabeth II very much slamming the brakes on our momentum. In an understandably muted GTech yesterday, it was our visitors who were able to pick up where they’d left off before – the top of the Premier League table.

A solemn occasion

There are no regrets on this side. No anger. Arsenal outplayed and outclassed Brentford at every step of the way. Thomas Frank’s decision to opt for three centre backs one designed to try and contain our opponents. It had worked so well last season but this time around we seem to have settled (been pushed into) more of a more traditional back four. A set up that allowed us to attack en-masse with the two full backs still pushing up. Instead, The Bees began on the back foot and struggled to get beyond that. The visitors going for the jugular from the off and giving us little or no breathing space in a midfield that was still missing Christian Norgaard. With little news on his longer term recovery, one can’t imagine he will be back and match fit any time soon.

On the plus side, Ethan Pinnock was hanging with Buzz and Buzzette outside the ground before kick off. The prognosis for his own return something the player said would be after right International break. Good news indeed, although who then misses out the sort of problem Thomas Frank must relish trying to unravel.

That’s one for the future, for now it is all about Brentford and Arsenal. The Gunners brutal. Devastating. Giving a clear demonstration of why they are the only team in the land keeping Manchester City off the top of the table. The sternest test faced by The Bees so far this season by some distance. It was a test we had no chance of passing after William Saliba and Gabriel Jesus had given our guests a two goal lead with less than a half hour on the clock. Two headers. Two goals. Too bad for Brentford. The midfield packed tighter than a pair of Tom Jones’ jeans.  Our own Triple Js – Jensen, Janelt and Josh Dasilva  – unable to make any real headway. Rico Henry and Aaron Hickey putting in the hard yards down the flanks.

Bryan Mbeumo with the closest chance just prior to half-time but that was it. Very much playing second fiddle on an afternoon where the atmosphere was the only thing flatter than the pint of Guinness served up during the interval. Truly the worst pint I’ve ever experienced – and there have been some bad ones over the years. Brentford very much with a problem clearing our lines, it would seem. Not for the first time yesterday.

Brentford (L) v The Griffin – (R)

If anything, it set the mood for what came next. Fabio Vieira ending any thoughts of a fairytale comeback for Brentford within minutes of the restart. His shot from outside the box beating everybody to fly home off the inside of the post. It was devastating. Game over, Man. Game over. Anther forty minutes to struggle through. The only feasible option left being that of goal difference containment. Something David Raya did his level best to maintain. Arsenal, on the other hand, when not attacking doing everything possible to channel all of football’s dark arts. Injuries. Niggles. Time wasting. Cramp. Hammy pratfalls. Referee Mr. Coote unable, or seemingly unwilling, to do anything about any of it.

The sad thing being there was no need for any of it. They were the better team on this occasion. We haven’t been owned this much since Matthew Benham took over.  It just gave an ever more frustrating feel to an already frustrating afternoon. Any thoughts of coherent flowing football snuffed out by shenanigans and shithousery. Arsenal, the only team to sit down longer than popular music’s James. 

That’s on them. They won. So it could be said that the gameplan worked. To be honest, a strangely muted Brentford team could have still been playing now and I don’t think we’d have found a way through. One Ivan Toney free kick momentarily suggesting a replay of ‘that’ moment against Leeds United but it went over. Mikkel Damsgaard also with a half-chance but that was about it. Hats off to Arsenal. Likewise their fans who, along with the Bees, gave the perfect display during the pre-match silence, the national anthem and then the 70th minute applause.

A rare first half foray forwards

For me, the applause on the 32nd minute for Robert Rowan was equally poignant. This with the feeling of much more a spontaneous, personal and fan lead gesture. We’ll never forget. 

The sad news continuing late into the night when the GPG shared this update… 

There can’t be many amongst us who didn’t know or, at the least, recognise Howard. An absolute legend of Griffin Park and a Bee through and through. Along with former manager Fred Callaghan’s sad passing also being announced, it’s been a sad week all round. I’m sure the club will do all they can to remember these two Bees’ legends when we are all together again for Brighton.

For now, time for International break. We’ve the the small matter of Ivan Toney in the England squad. Friday night in Italy could be a whole lot of fun. What price on him to score ? Well, 13/8 for an anytime bet. I might make a small investment. Purely for research purposes.  

The only other unfinished business from the game yesterday is that of our Star Man and top five player awards. That piece has gone live and you can find it here….

Nick Bruzon

Sorted for Bees and Wissa. Leeds pulped by Ivan hat-trick.

4 Sep

Ivan Toney you absolute goal scoring machine. Thomas Frank, you tactical genius. Brentford you beauties. Hey, even Keith Stroud. A 5-2 tonking of Leeds United at Lionel Road was a performance to rival that 4-0 win the other week. To make Frank Lampard realise how much of a bullet his Everton team may have dodged in the 1-1 last Saturday. As Manchester United discovered, when Brentford hit the back of the net there’s nobody going to stop us. Yet even then, what happened yesterday was beyond even the wildest of anyone’s pre-match predictions.

Brentford are up to 7th (seventh) in the Premier League table. The performance one of our greatest. Leeds blown away like an empty crisp packet caught on the breeze. Ivan Toney banging in a hat-trick of such quality it needs to be seen to be believed. The first, an ice-cool penalty of the like we’ve seen so many times yet which still induces that gut wrenching nausea. How can anybody be so calm from the spot? That two step approach to the ball at almost stumbling speed? Yet still bury it with all the speed of a hitman disposing of a still warm corpse?

Goooaalllllll. 1-0. Ivan from the spot

Then, the free kick to make it 2-0 just prior to half time. Shandon Baptiste being fouled out side the box and Ivan scoring with a world class curling ball into the top corner that left Meslier in nets able to do nothing beyond watch it go over the wall and beyond him. 

Yet it was the calmness of finish and presence of mind to stay cool for his hat-trick goal that had fans in raptures. Meslier rushing out of the box to prevent KLP from bearing down on goal was only able to find Ivan. Instead of hitting it first time he dribbled and waited until the time was right. Despite the plethora of Leeds defenders still in and around the box, his chip from outside the area cleared them all to make it 3-1 Brentford. Game over Leeds United. A hat trick of rare quality from a man whose stock continues to rise. With a World Cup approaching, he couldn’t have picked a better time.

Yet if Ivan’s goals gave the final result an air of inevitability, nothing could have been further from the truth. Patrick Bamford was then the right man in the right place to make wonderful goal line clearance when the ball was played over and the goalkeeper left stranded. That Leeds United were attacking at the time only goes to show just what a sweet, sweet afternoon it was turning out to be. How he steered it away from goal rather than in to the unguarded net I still have no idea. Still, that’s their concern.

Besides, a moment or two later they did manage to pull one back. A mess up in a crowded box or, as Mrs Bruzon so succinctly put things, ”A bit of a sorry shambles.” (or words to that effect). Urghh. The lead pegged back to 3-2 and ten minutes to go. It could, maybe should, have been a long and painful limp to the line. It’s Brentford, innit? Instead, the polar opposite was the case.

Within ten seconds of the restart, Bryan Mbeumo had double our lead once more. The desperate pleas for offside from Leeds not factoring in that it has been their own Koch who played him through. After you, Claude…. Meslier left with no chance. The game as good as over.

Then, who else but Wissa to round it off? Another cool finish as he stole the ball to run in on goal and fire it past Meslier. The moment underlined by Peter Gilham bursting into ‘Happy Birthday’ to Wissa as he announced the scorer. Only at Brentford.

It might have been six soon after that but let’s not be greedy. A wonderful afternoon with a wonderful scoreline. Captain Pontus letting everyone  – home and away – how he felt about things. About how much a Brentford man he is.

Despite all the goals perhaps the biggest cheer was one reserved for our old friend Keith Stroud getting in on the act as only he can do. Jesse Marsch may have a little back book chock full of former players he can sign up, but his lack of experience at this level was shown by his courting the wrath of Keith.

The warning signs were there for anybody in the know

Woebetide anybody messing around when the card happy official is on duty, let alone in the fourth official role. It takes brave, or naive, man to do that at any time. Let alone with Mr. Stroud having been seen a back door to potential Premier League officialdom opening.

Marsch may well have been incensed by the lack of penalty awarded to Leeds United. Personally, I’m not quite sure how we dodged it but, for once, VAR has gone our way. Move along, nothing to see here.

Yet his constant excursions outside the technical area and harassment of the officials would eventually be his undoing. Mr Stroud bringing the attention of referee Robert Jones to March’s transgressions and a red card was shown. Match of The Day helpfully capturing the moment, with Keith also pointing to the back of the stand from where Marsch had to watch the rest of the game.

Up there. Keep going until you reach the back

The post match debrief and player review is up shortly. Ivan has, of course, grabbed all the headlines but this was such a wonderful team performance that, if anything, only being able to choose another four players from the sixteen used by Thomas was a real challenge. From defence through midfield and infant of goal the tea were magnificent. The first holf hour suggesting a game that really could have gone either way. The Bees twice pulled back to a single goal lead until the advantage was eventually sledge hammered home.

In the end though, despite the heroics from everyone . Despite the cameo from Keith. Despite our own five goals all the headlines will be about one man. Ivan Toney. We know how good he is. Perhaps, finally, Gareth Southgate will be forced to sit up and take notice.  

As one final note, huge thanks to all at the club. Our own visit to the South Stand for this one culminated in yet another display of how chilled our own squad is. How down to earth they remain. How much of a family club we still are at heart.

One happy boy at FT

The excitement from our H when he met Wissa and Ben Mee, only matched by his chatting with Bryan at full time.

Fair to say somebody enjoyed himself

Likewise, this game even saw another jinx busted. ‘Bring somebody new. Lose the game’ . It has long been a mantra in our group that goes back to League Two days. We always want newcomers to come along for but, at the time, there seemed to be an almost predetermined outcome to what would happen in that situation. Taking the hit for the team and our friends.

Times are different now, of course, but coming from somebody who as recently as last season was luxuriating in the point pulling power of the green jacket, these habits die heard. Especially given my own choice of attire for this one was the equally lucky ‘Gary Blissett Hummel’. As such, to be told pre kickoff by part of the group from Hollywood Bets that, “This is my first Brentford game” the smile on my face was anything but reciprocated internally.

Prematch build up and lucky shirts with the team Hollywood Bets

Full time, of course, would turn out to be totally different. A 5-2 win proving that even the most ancient of taboos are no longer, necessarily, relevant in these days of Premier League football *.

That’s it for this one. Sometimes, words aren’t enough. You just have to revel in the moment. Enjoy the memories. Perhaps go and watch Match Of The Day just one more time……

Now bring on Southampton.

* Please note: I still reserve the right to wear the green jacket later this season.

Fair to say a wonderful time was had by all – even Nick from G-Tech .

Nick Bruzon

We’ve had an absolute shocker. Is there a response coming ahead of the weekend?

19 Aug

Brentford travel to Fulham on Saturday afternoon. Our first West London derby of the season (and, for the record, anyone boring off about the postcode can shove their clackers where the sun don’t shine). Our stock is still high after tanking Manchester United 4-0 and the smile still broad following one of THE greatest Bees’ performances of all time. It should be an amazing time, and it is, yet one can’t help feel the edge was taken off things somewhat on Thursday evening. We’ll get to all things Fulham and Man U in a moment but the topic on everybody’s mind – certainly going by social media – was Priti Patel being allowed to use Lionel Road to spout off about the government’s hugely divisive and controversial policy to send immigrants to Rwanda.

Fixed it for you, official

Stop Brentford. Stop. How on earth was this allowed to happen? Why was this allowed to happen? Never mix sport and politics is a golden rule that has been completely overlooked. Where was the swift response and explanation after Sky ran the story late in the afternoon?

Those of us just coming in from work were greeted by the Home Secretary in the South Stand at Lionel Road, attempting to justify this abhorrent policy. That’s my view, others may differ, but reading my own timeline it seemed that Bees’ supporters were united in shock, disgust and outrage at our home being used for such purposes.

Presumably she was there for footballing purposes but any such reasons were not made clear. I looked on Brentford ‘official’ and there was no story about her visit. Instead, all we have was the piece on Sky News – here for the record – and a lot of upset fans. Upset and confused. 

The club have been groundbreakers in diversity. In inclusion. In supporting refugees. In standing up to hatred and abuse. We are known for it and, quite rightly, trumpet all the amazing work we do in this field. There’s no place better for feeling welcomed. 

To then see our club used as the backdrop for what is about as inhumane a policy as one could imagine, from a government who have long proven themselves to be morally redundant and totally self-serving, is at odds with everything we stand for.

I doubt very much Ms. Patel just dropped in on the off chance. This sort of visit would have been properly lined up. Likewise, her views and policies are well, well documented. This should not have been a surprise and so for her to use our home for such propaganda purposes has left many of us feeling extremely let down. That’s the polite term. 

Why the heck our media and comms team have not been all over this up front and making crystal clear the line of political questioning a football club were comfortable to be associated with, used as a platform for,  is an explanation I’d love to hear. Instead, we got tumbleweed. No doubt (he says) there’ll be something pushed out today. There had better be but, regardless, judging by the reaction from fans – just a few of the many, many, many comments are below – it is already way too late and should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.

Right, Fulham away. Less than a third of the usual number of Brentford fans will be present for this one, given the dearth of tickets made available but rest assured we’ll be just as loud. The atmospheres at both Leicester City and then home to Manchester United ripped the roof off and I can only see more of the same coming for this one.

Frankly, I can’t wait. Memories of THAT 4-1 or Neal Maupay denying them automatic in the 89th still live strong in the mind. Our hosts devastated in their own backyard. Silenced by the Bees  – not that you could tell there was any difference from the normal happy-clappy, gin swigging, cake eating, foam finger waving, Michael Jackson worshipping, clacker filled vibe.

Stuart Dallas – scorer of my favourite ever Bees goal (pre-Mbeumo v Man U)

That’s their problem. We’ll make it happen once again. Just as we’ve done before. Just as we did when putting four goals past Manchester United with little more than 30 minutes on the clock. Brentford were imperious. Magnificent. Devastating. Matthias Jensen having the game of his life and continuing that upward trajectory of form that has more than rewarded Thomas Frank’s faith in the Danish midfielder. Christian Eriksen left ruing his summer choice. Cristiano Ronaldo a series of hissy fits, strops and self-entitlement. Harry Maguire a broken man. Lisandro Martínez out of his depth – literally and metaphorically. 

They were dreadful whilst in Erik ten Haag appear to have unearthed the new Marinus Dijkhuizen. That’s their problem though. Let’s take nothing away from Brentford who were magnificent. Both tactically and in terms of gameplay. We hassled, closed down and out ran their (apparently) illustrious opponents to such an extent that, in the end, there was genuine disappointment that it ‘only’ ended 4-0. At one point I was seriously wondering if we might even inflict brackets on Manchester United. Such was they way we were playing, 7(seven)-0 would not have been out of the question. You can get the full view that one, here.

All well and good, of course. The cardinal error now would be in thinking that we have a divine right to steamroller Fulham on Saturday. That we’ll just turn up and inflict more of the same as we’ve done against them in the past or did to Untied last week. Whilst, personally speaking, I can only see us continuing our form you can be sure that Thomas Frank will have boxed off the previous results and is only looking forward. Is only too aware that Championship flat-track bully Aleksandar Mitrović has actually started to score goals in the Premier League. Two against Liverpool in their 2-2 draw could haven three, but for a missed penalty in the 0-0 at Wolves. 

The long story short here is that for all we were amazing this is a new game. That past results have happened. That whilst confidence is high, there’s nothing like a West London derby to set the pulse racing that bit faster. Both teams are unbeaten in their opening two games and even thought Brentford are on fire, it all starts from nothing once referee Peter Bankes blows the whistle at 3pm. I can’t wait for this one. See you there. 

More of this would be amazing

Nick Bruzon. 

Brentford v Manchester United. Post match debrief and player ratings.

14 Aug

Brentford 4 Manchester United 0. About as devastating a performance as one could hope to witness – for those of us from London (who support the Bees rather than United). Goals from Dasilva, Jensen, Mee and Toney blowing our visitors away and leaving Ronaldo a broken man. Yet there was so much more to it than that. The trip to Fulham on Saturday now an even more tantalising prospect than it already was.

As ever at this juncture, we look to see who was the star man and who made up the rest of the top five in our attempt to see who will be the season long top performer for Brentford. Who keeps their place after the performance against Manchester United or can anyone force their way in to the starting XI for Fulham?

And as ever, the answers are here. Sadly, 16 into 5 just won’t go but at least we can try. Enjoy…

Nick Bruzon

Footballing gods serve up a chance for instant payback on Saturday. How will it go?

12 Aug

Saturday evening is almost here. Brentford host Manchester United in our first home game of the season. A game going out live across the world on TV. A game that sees us with a superb opportunity to carry on where we left off at Leicester City. A squad further boosted by the wonderful double news of Mikkel Damsgaard signing and then being revealed wearing our new third shirt. Our opponents, meanwhile, still smarting from their own opening day home humbling at the hands of Brighton and Hove Albion – (C) The Middlesex Chronicle Big Book of 80s alliterative headlines / Jim Levack. All the focus should be on the wonderful occasion it is sure to be. Yet, the footballing gods being what they are, the game has served up a further twist in the interminable tale that is the Christian Eriksen transfer saga. That, of course, being our first game back at Lionel Road will see him turning out once more – albeit this time in Puke green (if you believe the photos of United’s new ‘third’ shirt) rather than red and white. So let’s get that out the way and then move on. Hopefully forever.   

 

Damsgaard – new player ; new shirt

Nobody could deny the excitement in the air last season as the stories started to build that we may be making what was seen (then) as an audacious bid to help Christian pick up his career after that thing at the Euros. The thought of attracting a World Class player to Brentford just about as impossible as things get but that’s what we always do – make the impossible possible.

It was more tantalising a prospect given that, at the time, we were definitely in a form dip. The injury to David Raya along with fixture congestion and covid cases meant the early season juggernaut had very much hit the buffers. Norwich City. Burnley. Southampton. Brighton. Just some of the names that spring to mind. Then Christian came in, got his fitness back and his introduction to the starting XI coincided with our return to winning ways. Chelsea. West Ham. Watford. Burnley. Just some of the names that spring to mind. Ironically, the one real poor performance being the one against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Very much a ‘no show’ when our hosts were there for the taking.

Happy days at Chelsea

Anyway, long story short the narrative built up in the media is that Eriksen saved Brentford’s season. And to that I say bollocks. There’s no doubt he gave us a HUGE boost. That he was quite wonderful for the Bees. That a starting XI with him in it would always have been the selection of choice. He was amazing. He was a breath of fresh air. He was skill on a stick with that calmness and passing range one could only aspire to.  Yet he wasn’t the only factor.

From where I was sitting, it was undoubtedly the return of David Raya that was THE single key factor which – if you had to name one thing that ‘saved our season’ – we should be looking at. Suddenly, our opponents discovered that goal scoring was an aspiration rather than a gimme (Oh, that third against Liverpool is still the stuff of nightmares). Suddenly the defence were calm again. Were confident. Suddenly the distribution had returned. Rather than sitting on the back foot we had the ability to build attacks from our own 18 yard box.

I’d also cite Wissa finding his feet. The performances of Rico Henry and Christian Norgaard. Ivan Toney scoring for fun once more. Vitaly Janelt. Yes, Eriksen inspired and helped but the players had it already. The players had showed early doors we weren’t just here to make up the numbers. Hey, even the green jacket had a role to play. Don’t knock it – I bet there’ll be more than a few of us pulling on the magic pants on Saturday morning

just some of the factors that put a late spring in our step

All of us which then brings us to the weekend and Manchester United. There’s been a lot of talk about how we ‘greet’ Christian. Polite applause on warm up and then boo the hell out of him seems to be the popular consensus on social media. I make no pretence that I’m still hurting massively. Not so much that he left for Old Trafford  – his decision to go for money and carnage is a personal one and that’s an individual’s choice. Few of us could resist the sort of figures being talked up in the press so let’s not pretend otherwise. 

More, it was the manner in which it all played out. We’d taken a chance. We’d formed what seemed, at face value, a beautiful relationship. Christian was king of the castle. The fans loved him. The players fed off him. He got back to winning ways. There was the obvious Danish connection. Then, what was always only a six month contract expired. Again, we knew this was going to happen. It was made clear from the off. Yet seeing how things had played out – so beautifully for both parties – there was a genuine belief amongst the fans that his signing on the dotted line would be a formality. Instead, there was nothing. Nothing.

Days turned to weeks. The list of potential suitors moving from the obvious – Spurs (the history)  and Newcastle (and their dumper truck full of money )  – to the ridiculous – Everton and Leicester City. All along, Brentford still being mentioned in tandem until the bookies dropped us like a stone.  Manchester United entered the mix but still nothing. No news. No updates. No decision. Like playing poker with a brick wall – nobody could read anything. The Bees back in the race all of a sudden as Spurs were deemed persona non grata. It was down to the two of us until, eventually, the stories started to leak that he had signed. Albeit nothing official. Nothing out of Old Trafford for another two weeks until, eventually, the news we’d all feared was confirmed. 

Good luck to him. At least we can all move on. And in the signing of Mikkel Damsgaard we certainly can. The man that replaced him in the Euros now replacing him at Lionel Road. Yet the manner it all played out in still feels raw. As we’ve said before, like Jota joining Birmingham City. We love our heroes. Worship them. We know they move on. That’s life. That’s football. Yet to remain tight lipped for so long. To then not even say farewell, beyond some crappy Instagram post that may aswell not even have bothered getting out of bed, it had already overslept for so long. To read all that talk about wanting Champions League football. Hmm.

So yes, my heart IS broken. It shouldn’t be but I’m a football fan. I’m emotional. He didn’t ‘save us’ but he was amazing. I’ll never forget Chelsea and Watford away. Or Norwich away. Or Burnley home. Any of them. Good, good times ad the smile will return in time. For now, though, I still feel like we’ve been dumped for the attractive girl who we can all see is a bit of a nightmare. And it hurts.

its over

I won’t be booing Christian. I’ll be booing all of them. If he plays / comes on then so be it. I can’t stand any of that self-entitled nonsense that goes with anything Old Trafford related. All that Fergie gumph. All that belief amongst their fans that they’ve a divine right to be competing at the very top because they used to be any good. The instant sacking of head coaches. Cripes, I thought we gave our manager a ridiculously hard time but that’s nothing compared to some of the crap you read. The worshipping of the man-boy Ronaldo.

Ah, who could forget his hissy fit at Lionel Raod last season? He didn’t even make the starting XI against Brighton. The complete antithesis of a team player. He may get the goals but the disruption to broader team play that trying to channel it through him does is clear for all. Not that it helped dropping him on Sunday. 

If anything , this, rather than Eriksen will provide the real sideshow on Saturday.

strop, strop, stop

Brentford will never have a better chance to beat Manchester United than on Saturday. Our confidence is high. We have new kits and that wonderful, wonderful new signing in Damsgaard. Our opponents seem to be in disarray. Lionel Road will be rocking. The first home game is always loud – just ask Arsenal – but I’ve got a feeling this one will be ten, times better. More than a few people – and players – with points to prove.

I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there.

Until then, here’s the recap from Sunday and the performance at Leicester City…

Nick Bruzon

Leicester City – Brentford. Post match debrief and player ratings.

8 Aug

Here we are again. Brentford travelled to Leicester City yesterday and came away with a hard fought point. A top, top second half-performance seeing The Bees’ bogey team hit the buffers. Goals from Ivan Toney and Josh Dasilva rounding off a comeback that, at times, looked questionable. With Manchester United next up on Saturday, the stage is well set following their own hiccups at Old Trafford.

As ever at this point, it’s tine for the post match review. What were the highs for Brentford? And the lows? Who shone agasint Leicester City and who is a shoe in for the visit of United? Most importantly, who is our first ‘star man’ of the season.

And as ever, the answers are here……

Nick Bruzon

How it’s going to work this season is….

5 Aug

The season is upon us. Brentford travel to Leicester City on Saturday Sunday (keep forgetting about that carnival – it’s so easily done, I suppose) looking to pick up where we left off last time out. A storming start and finish saw the Bees finish 13th in our inaugural Premier League campaign and then spend the summer waiting.. and waiting.. and waiting to see if Christian Eriksen would return the faith shown in him. Alas, Manchester United was the eventual decision made but one has to sympathise with the lure of those reported financials being offered, even if it is somewhat of a rarity to see a rat jumping on to a sinking ship. 

For Brentford, the summer has still seen a huge influx of activity. Ben Mee and Aaron Hickey providing welcome choice at the back with Thomas Strakosha offering an alternative in nets. The goalkeeper’s decision to Lionel Road after his time at Lazio very much an exciting one. Especially as it had been anticipated his move would be to Manchester United. Still, you never learn anything from fanzines or clickbait sites and Old Trafford’s loss is very much our gain. You don’t need to be in possession of Emma Hayes or Gary Neville levels of punditry to see where we struggled last time out.  

Then there’s Keane Lewis-Potter. The former Hull City starlet is an England U-21 and was one of the most sought after players in the Championship. His signing is very much one with the future in mind and builds further on our young but exciting squad With Josh Dasilva back to fitness aswell it would be fair to say that despite missing out on Christian Eriksen, we go into the game with Leicester looking very strong. Get Kris Ajer and Ethan Pinnock back to fitness (the former expected this month) and the Brentford squad is looking well set for what I am calling a top 12 finish. Hey, with a fair wind maybe even 10th. 

Perhaps the most exciting news of the summer was the return of the castle badge on our recently launched ‘away’ shirt’. I’ve not seen a bad word about this one. My word, it’s incredible. Absolutely love it.

Personally speaking, I’ve always felt it was awful how this was ditched for the cluttered clipart of the Middlesex montage that wasn’t designed by Russell Grant. Having this back again has only proven to be a popular decision if you believe what you reason Social media. I wonder if the same will be the case when our third shirt is revealed – something that could be imminent, per Kitman Bob. Oh Christian Eriksen, look at what you could have worn…

Absolutely loving the new away shirt

OK – I’ve been contacted by literally some of you given the relative dearth of material on these pages since the end of the last campaign, asking about any plans for 2022-23.  How it’s going to work this season is as follows…

Brentford FC Match day programme : the two articles per edition from last season are no more. I’m sure the club and the programme team have some big new ideas but it would seem that after contributing since 2009, mine are no longer required. To be fair, something would have had to give anyway and from my side it would have been at least one if not both of those features. Certainly, the kit stuff couldn’t be regurgitated again and not even I’m dumb enough to miss out on taking the hint of radio silence until turning the dial myself. Thanks for all the kind words last season though. 

The Last Word blog: It’ll carry on ; albeit stripped right back in terms of how often this goes online. Time is tight and with plenty of other pressing priorities outside of football, this also needs to be refreshed given we’ve been there and done that for many years now.

Post-match player review: This will continue. I really enjoyed writing these last season and so will continue to do this on the Hollywood Bets blog page (albeit links will always be here and on the socials).

And as if by magic, the first of those pieces is here. Ah, the crowbar like subtly remains as in force as ever. So here you go. Enjoy.

Until then, here’s to Leicester and then the visit of Manchester United on Saturday week. Reckon that could be end up being a spicy one….

Big new bank balance. Terrible new kit

Nick Bruzon   

Christian Eriksen. The dream is over.

5 Jul

Oh. Christian Eriksen. He plays for Manchester United. They’re f’ing shite. Or however it is the song will now go. Brentford fans were last night left reeling from the news we’d all suspected but had hoped against hope wouldn’t be confirmed. Now, it would seem, the die is cast with even the BBC reporting the player has agreed a deal at Old Trafford. To be fair, whomever he had joined would have been seen as a slap in the face or a crazy move. Everton. Newcastle. Leicester City all amongst the other clubs being talked up. Now, rather than Brentford, the decision is Salford.  

Never again 😦

There’s been a lot of frustration out there last night. Others, with the ‘enjoy what we had ; it was only ever short term’ mentality.

I can sympathise with both view points but, personally speaking, right now it feels like a punch to the gut. Joining a club in complete disarray in return for a wheelbarrow load full of cash and the chance of Europa League football. Manchester United – a club whose fans will bang on about being one of the biggest in the world but who, realistically, have not been able to compete even domestically for years. Whose desperate chuck of the dice at Cristiano Ronaldo is now imploding in dramatic style. Whose defence is shot to pieces and attacking options about as potent as a toothless lion. For whom throwing money at the problem – see also: Pogba, has hardly been a recipe for success in recent seasons.

Good luck to both of them. Brentford enjoyed the very best Christian had to offer once his fitness had returned. The Brentford that guided him back into the game and took a chance on a player whom, well, we all know what had happened. The Brentford that gave him a surrogate Danish family and the chance to play alongside his international team mates going in to this winter’s World Cup. Who were ideally placed for the London lifestyle his nearest and dearest had, apparently, been so comfortable in.

Instead, as with everything in life, money talks. Certainly, if you believe what you read about signing on fees and a salary what will be, at the least, three times what we were able / prepared (delete as applicable) to offer. No doubt we’ll hear talk about the stature of Manchester United and the chance to return them to former glories. Perhaps he will achieve that. Perhaps the lure was the chance of reigniting a former giant. A club where reminders of Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy still hang from every available space like some footballing albatross around the neck. Good luck to him. Genuinely.    

We had some good times together. Some amazing times. Chelsea and Watford away in particular but, to be fair, every time he started we upped our game. He hit our own top five pretty much every time he played. Christian didn’t ‘save us from relegation’ but he did help get us going again.

Let’s not forget how well we were placed and how strong we were doing before David Raya got crocked against Leicester City.  As Kitman Bob said in his own insider’s perspective last time out on these pages: “ At the point we hit a sticky patch the mood at the training ground never changed from that first game. Staff and players knew we had a plan and there was never any panic or worry amongst us. The signing of Christian Eriksen, I cannot lie, gave the whole place an even bigger boost but on the same level was seeing the return of David Raya.”

I’m just a naive fool. A footballing romantic. Despite the talk of money and the chance to play in Europe (albeit the Champions League is a long, long way off right now), I honestly thought we’d be seeing him again. 100% convinced. Instead, I’m left with that same numb feeling as when Jota left for Birmingham City. A talisman departing for a godawful club. That awful emptiness. Them, of all places. 

This is how it feels right now

Things will be good again. They always are. Aaron Hickey and Keane Lewis-Potter are seemingly coming in. Josh Dasilva is back. Ethan Pinnock is fit. David Raya showed just how much he does for us whilst Christian Norgaard was a goat. Or whatever it is the kids say.  

Plus, as importantly, we’ll never have to sing that chant again. Sorry but like Oldham’s song, I’ve always struggled with it. That’s the polite phrase.

Fate, as ever, has administered a further blow to the unmentionables with Brentford’s first home game seeing a visit from Manchester United. One can only expect that will now be moved from a Saturday 3pm kick off to accommodate TV coverage and the inevitable media circus. Joy.

The positivity of what Christian brought to Lionel Road will never be forgotten.  I’m just struggling to feel it this morning.

Nice try, Bjorn… Not even the Scandinavian hard sell worked

Nick Bruzon  

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