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Brentford, Blackburn or Nottingham Forest? Who will win (or lose by less)?

6 May

This is it. The last weekend of the season with so much excitement still to come. And that’s just off pitch where the club have asked fans to dig out their retro shirts to mark the occasion of our current crest (badge) making one final appearance before being retired. Then there’s the small matter of Mark Warburton and Nottingham Forest hoping Brentford can do them a favour when Blackburn Rovers are the visitors to Griffin Park. With Birmingham City still not safe either, live on TV we’ve Sunday’s relegation shootout.

So what will happen? Will Brentford take the foot off the gas and Blackburn survive? Can Forest get the home win they need and hope their goals are sufficient? Both they and Rovers are locked on the same points and so if they match each others results, it comes down to goal difference. Which is currently -13 Forest and -14 Rovers. It could even turn into a case of whoever loses less heavily stays up.

And I have to say that because I fully expect Brentford to win. We’ve a chance to get up to 8th place, which would be one better than last season. Then again, for that to happen it means we need  to rely on victories for both Rotherham United and QPR. We’ve got to be realistic here.

But a win for the Bees, something that is in our hands, will see us surpass last season points total by two. That alone will be incentive for Dean Smith and a team that I fully expect to be focussed on going out in style.

I feel for the Nottingham Forest and Blackburn supporters in their having to rely on another result. Moreso, from teams who they may think are already on the beach or, in our case, at the Player of the Year awards that are taking place later on Sunday night. However, I refer you back to season 2014/15.

This was Brentford’s first in the Championship and Mark Warburton was looking to go out in style. Despite a little wobble towards the end, the Bees went into that final weekend needing to beat Wigan Athletic then rely on a slip up from Derby County or Ipswich Town in order to make the play offs. The Rams were home to hapless Reading and needed just a point to secure their own spot. We’d beaten the Royals a week earlier and they looked awful. Ipswich were on fire though and, likewise, avoiding defeat was all they needed.

On an incredible afternoon, BOTH results went our way. Despite taking an early lead at Ewood, the Tractor Boys were eventually reigned in and went down 3-2. As for Derby, they missed an early penalty and hit the self-destruct from that point. A 0-3 home loss to a bang average team with nothing, absolutely nothing, to play for was as unexpected as it was hilarious.

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Post Wigan: Err. You know that holiday? Well, Derby and Ipswich have both lost.

The point being that strange results can happen. That the team who appear to have nothing to play for on paper won’t just switch off. We’ve definitely been the beneficiaries of this fact in the past.

However on Sunday, and I take no pleasure from this prediction, my gut feeling is that Brentford are going to be the executioners. We’ve more than just pride to play for. For Blackburn Rovers to stay up, it’s going to have to rely on Nottingham Forest losing by more than they do.

Then again, as has been said many times, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. Take results based advice from these pages with a huge dollop of caution. Indeed, given the aforementioned favour they did us, there’s a big part of me that hopes Blackburn losing by less than Forest is the way this one plays out. Everybody in TW8 can go home smiling. Especially if Rotherham and (something I can’t believe we need or want to happen) QPR also win.

Then again, there’s the Mark Warburton factor. A hero to many at Griffin Park, could we take any pleasure from putting a nail in his Championship coffin? Perhaps it’s not one to overthink. Let’s just go out and let the football do the talking – whatever will be will be.

Besides, there’s more to think about off field. I make no secret of being a kit nerd and the club putting out this challenge to supporters has got me intrigued.

Just what could we see? What will the fans’  ‘favourite’ be? Does anybody even own that wonderful Hummel-lite version from 94-95; our first to feature the current crest (badge)? Is there a Samvo shirt out there that still has the sponsor intact rather than having disintegrated the first time it went through the washing machine?

On a personal note, I’ve whittled it down to a choice of three. Or four. But there are more than a few stunners to pick from.

Being fortunate enough to take part in filming an episode of Britain’s top rated day time TV show Bargain Hunt yesterday, both the Bees and the kit obsession made it into that really awkward chat bit at the start.

And that bit, when the show goes out, is quite likely to be the highlight. Let’s just say it’s a lot harder than it looks ‘playing’ live rather than when you watch from home.

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Just some of the shirt choices – although current crest (badge) only

Likewise, subject to any last minute editorial decisions then I gather the match day programme will feature a very special top ten.  Although after last weekend’s Brian Guest affair at Fulham, which the club knew nothing about in advance, we probably shouldn’t take anything on that front for granted.

So if you haven’t done it yet, why not have a root through the back of the wardrobe and see what you can pull out? Whatever your thoughts on the current crest (badge) why not help see it off in style?

The next time we all get together, there’ll be a new design in place….

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Coming soon. To a shirt near you….

Nick Bruzon 

 

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What happens in Preston, stays in Preston as Harlee makes a frank admission.

12 Feb

F*ck off Brentford” said one supporter on Twitter after this one. Others were calling for Dean Smith’s head. I’ve even seen comments reminding us that Mark Warburton is available after his resignation/non resignation from Rangers. Seriously? Seriously?? Sure, The Bees had been beaten 4-2 by Preston North End but let’s leave that nonsense and put this one down to the proverbial bad day at the office.

After those two tonkings administered to Aston Villa and Brighton, had Dean Smith gone into this one with anything but the same approach then, perhaps, there could have been casue for frustration. But no, he stuck to his guns and rightly so.

This team and formation were the exact same decisions I would have taken and, whilst just the numpty on the terrace rather than any form of Championship Manager, it was great to see Dean continue with this attacking intent. Indeed, despite the availability of John Egan, amongst others, the only change was one of personnel as fit again Maxine Colin replaced Josh Clarke in the right back position.

The anti-performance at Chelsea had been followed by a new look team and a new set up. Despite the absence of Scott Hogan, six goals had followed from five different players.

Now make that 8 goals from 7(seven) players in three games as Lasse, Nico, Harlee, KK and Jota were joined by Maxime Colin and Tom Field on the list of recent scorers. For Tom in particular, his first league goal for Brentford – and one which gave us an early lead –  was the perfect riposte to his critic after last Sunday’s post match nonsense.

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Post goal celebrations for Tom Field, c/o the Sky Sports highlight reel

After that, though, the wheels fell off. Aiden McGeady waltzed through the Brentford midfield and defence to equalise from distance for the hosts. Preston then took the lead early into the second half as Callum Robinson stole in totally unmarked between Harlee and Andreas to beat the offside trap and tap home.

And with the Bees pushing to get back into it, Mcgeady (again)  and Daryl Horgan put the game beyond doubt as it became a case of “After you, Claude” from Brentford. Maxime Colin pulled one back late on via a generous deflection but that was how it ended.

As ever, proper match reports are available on the BBC, Besotted or ‘official’. Likewise, you’ve got free video highlights on Sky – at least, until we get the full fat Burridge infused version on Beesplayer lunchtime.

It was interesting to read the post match comments of both Dean Smith and Harlee Dean after this one. Talking to ‘official’, Dean admitted that “We lost our organisation and our discipline, we opened up too easily and they could have scored more. We need to be disciplined and have emotional control. Football is about scoring goals and you can’t get too emotionally involved when the opposition score one”.

As for Harlee, his observations were on a similar line. Along with a captain’s standard post defeat apology to those who travelled, there was an admission of tactical naivety from the players combined with their poor decisions and poor performances. Coming from the man in the midst of the action, these are probably more telling and comments I take heart from.

It is hard to remember that Harlee is only 25. One forgets just how young he was when he first turned out for Andy Scott’s Bees way back in November 2011. Yet here is a man who has fought his way up from non league and loanee to now being club captain and one of the first names on the team sheet.

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Harlee Dean – also appearing on Twitter at FT

Don’t get me wrong, nobody wants to make that long journey home (longer for those who travelled on Virgin Rail if head of media relation’s Chris Wickham’s twitter account was anything to go by) on the back of a 4-2 scoreline. Yet if the players themselves are aware of where they went wrong and where they showed inconsistency (another phrase used by Harlee in that post match article and which has been visible to all but the most blinkered of supporters this season) then there is hope that this newly reinvigorated team can continue to do what they’ve been doing.

We’ve two very tricky fixtures coming up. Midweek trips to teams currently looking for play off points. Reading this Tuesday and then Sheffield Wednesday a week later.

Here’s hoping Dean can hold his nerve in regards to team selection again.

Here’s hoping the team can learn from those mistakes on Saturday.

Here’s hoping that what happened in Preston, stays in Preston.

Nick Bruzon

 

Brentford held by Norwich as 2016 ends with a whimper, Jools and Robbie’s hand gel

1 Jan

New Years Eve. So often the most over-rated night of the year. The Emperor’s New Clothes of nights out where society dictates that you will enjoy yourself but then promptly laughs in your face by offering up Jools Holland boogie-woogying his way through another Hootenanny as a means of doing so. A turgid, self-indulgent affair whose primary function (aside from showing how many friends our host has – a musical Ian Moose, if you will) seems to be in proving that Roland Rivron remains alive. Take that, 2016 – here’s one you didn’t get your hands on.

And so it was at Griffin Park where Brentford and Norwich City were the pre-Jools entertainment in a televised game that would have had most of those watching at home asleep in their armchairs long before the former Squeeze man had begun tinkling on his ivories. Instead of the excitement we’d been promised  by Sky. Instead of the pre-match buzz generated by the news that Jota was returning. Instead of (potentially) seeing Scott Hogan off in style we had nothing but an awful game of football. Sometimes you get them and this was up there.

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The Bees could find no way through the Canaries

Dean Smith seemed so intent on avoiding a repeat of the month’s 5-0 hammering at Carrow Road that he strangled the midfield and offered minimal width. The aforementioned Hogan looked off the pace and out of sorts whilst the slippery conditions did nobody any favours. That the Bees ended the game having no shots on target tells you everything you need to know as we were left unable to break through a Norwich team who  played the last 15 minutes a man down, after Robbie Brady was shown straight red for a foul on Ryan Woods.

Watching the ‘highlights’ afterwards (and I use that word in the loosest sense) it didn’t seem half as bad as it had done live, with no chance of a replay. The incident, which happened right in front of yours truly, looked a nailed on ‘red’ with the Ginger Pirlo likewise able to demonstrate a nasty looking contact mark to both the referee and protesting Norwich players as Brady eventually trooped off.

Yet rightly or wrongly, Brentford had been handed an advantage. Here was a chance to go for it. Despite like for like subs already having been made (Barbet on for the ever impressive Tom Field and favourite son Romaine Sawyers replacing Josh McEachran) here was an opportunity to apply some pressure. Pull off a defender. Maybe Nico. Stick on the pace and trickery of Josh Clarke to run riot?

But no, it wasn’t until the scoreboard read 88 that John Egan was subbed by The Hoff. Why so late? There was hardly any time to make an impact. Why not inject some much needed pace and width? Why, if you are going to take off a defender, choose the player who is our second highest scorer for the season?

Even then, we still had chance. Hogan was played clean through, only to be denied by a wonderful last gasp tackle from Ryan Bennett. With the striker unable to unleash it meant we were denied a penalty kick although unlike the trio of bad decisions in the Boxing Day clash with Cardiff City, this one the correct call.

The Bees will stay up. The Bees won’t go up. We haven’t got a divine right to be any good and, at the end of the day, Clive, we haven’t lost. We looked the other day at viewing everything in both historical and long term context and that still rings true. Yet even allowing for that, it is still frustrating to see teams that we should be beating given the opportunity to run at us (there’s no denying Norwich City had the better chances) and around us as safety first and backwards seems to be the order of the day. Given the resources we do have, surely it is more a case of being able to get the best out of what we have and positioning them accordingly to react to, or even heaven forbid anticipate, the situation? When these players are on fire, they really can perform wonders.

In the end, but for Cameron Jerome’s woeful shooting  (Cameron Diaz would have done better with one particular effort in the second half) we could have ended this one pointless. Which, ironically, is how all supporters finished the game. What seemed to be an announcement by Peter Gilham just prior to kick off that club shop loyalty points were going to expire that day, was then confirmed on social media and in an article published on the clubwebiste at 18.18 (that’s well into the first half of the game we were watching) to say these would expire at 19.45.

And sure enough, on getting home and ‘logging on’ my balance was zero.

No doubt this was all in the terms and conditions but would it have hurt to make an announcement a little more in advance to come over as a little better organised? Look, I may well have missed this and if so then ‘hands up’ but if not, it would seem a really poor way to end a promotion which is designed around encouraging supporters to spend and accrue. Which is a shame for no other reason than we’re normally so good at fan interaction.

Instead, 2016 closed with two promotion hopes at an end – that in the league and that in the club shop.

In its place, 2017 arrived. Off pitch Jools traded places for Robbie Williams to deliver a lumpen set of karaoke greatest hits. The phrase ‘going through the motions’ sprang to mind whilst as the traditional Auld Lang Syne ended, he was caught on camera wiping his hands with anti-bacterial hand sanitiser moments after high-fiving his audience. Stay classy.

At Griffin Park, 2017 brings more questions. How is Alan Judge? Will we see him, Macca or KK again? Will the club break ground at Lionel Road? Will Scott Hogan be sold? Will he play against Birmingham on Monday? Just who will any goal threat come from if he isn’t on the pitch? Could we see him and Jota in the same team? Let’s not forget that the talismanic Spaniard is winging his way back to Griffin Park and, apparently, it was he who initiated the discussions.

Whilst the pressure and expectation on his shoulders will be immense, there’s no denying the roof will be raised should he make an appearance on Saturday in the cup. Certainly he gives Dean Smith a wonderful option.

If used correctly.

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He’s coming home

Nick Bruzon

Please let’s not do this again.

28 Oct

We’ll keep this short today. Last season’s trip to QPR was one of the low points of the season for many Brentford fans. It wasn’t that they were any good; it’s just that we weren’t. A 3-0 win for the Loftus Toad outfit was one of those proverbial games where we were lucky to get nil.

And the reason for that largely down to head coach Dean Smith opting not to play a recognised striker but, instead, having Alan Judge operating as the advanced midfielder. Or, rather, what was actually described as ‘a false 9’. It was a decision that, whatever the perceived logic, brought about inevitable consequences.image

Nobody went home happy. The only real incident of note during the game from a Brentford perspective being ‘fly on the wall’ to a conversation taking place in the row behind me. There, the emotion had clearly got to another fan who had been giving a running commentary down the phone to his, presumably, better half during the second half. As the Bees collapsed, his call reaching a sad denouement with the line, “Yes. I love you my darling. But we’re sh*t. Now please f**k off” .

Whatever happens. It can’t be that bad again tonight. QPR will no doubt be expecting more of the same in front of the Sky TV cameras. A chance for under fire boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to see if his team can overtake the Bees who, of course, sit above them in the table. And this time we’ll have a striker.

At least, I’m hoping we’ll have a striker.

Dean, if you are reading (you aren’t), pleas tell me we’ll have a striker. I can’t go through that again. It means too much…

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The day summed up

Nick Bruzon

Football’s farcical 24 hours as one innovates and one goes a bit ‘Ratners’

31 Aug

This could be the most crazy 24 hours in modern football. We’ve already had the farce of last night’s Checkatrade trophy opening round where the lure of West Ham and Leicester City U-23 teams (please note, your definition of under 23 may vary) was not enough to persuade supporters to drop the proposed #BteamBoycott in this most maligned of tournaments. And then today sees ‘Transfer Deadline day’ as Brentford supporters join the rest of the footballing community in wondering if any new names will be coming through the ‘in door’ or if anyone is heading out?

Jim White, Natalie Sawyer and the rest of the gang lead the madness on Sky Sports before the window eventually ‘slams shut’ (TM) . You all know the drill by now. Yellow ties, yellow dresses and lots of cutting to empty stadia where nothing is happening. Plus, presumably, archive footage of Harry Redknapp leaning out of a car (subject to his sore knee).

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

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

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

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

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Jim and Natalie do their thing on deadline days gone by

 

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Brentford’s most recent signing activity

 

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Nick Bruzon

Can Brentford take bragging rights, and 3 points, from QPR?

30 Oct

Game on. The first match between Brentford and QPR in over ten years takes place on Friday evening with a full house expected at Griffin Park and many more watching live on Sky. It would be fair to say, and moreso given some of the history, that expectation levels are close to going through the roof. But what are we going to get?

Don’t lose” seems to be the priority. And for supporters of both clubs. But it’s the wrong way to approach a game, in my opinion. Had we been playing the likes of Manchester City or Arsenal then, perhaps, caution would be the better part of valour. But, in footballing terms at least, QPR are currently on a par with the Bees.

Only two points separate our teams as Brentford’s three consecutive victories (at present, the longest winning streak in the Championship) makes us the division’s form team. And there weren’t many people who thought we’d be saying after the first few games of the season.

The BBC table shows Brentford are now in the top half

The BBC table shows Brentford are now in the top half

Will Lee Carsley go for broke and keep up the attacking football that has seen us score 7(seven) goals in those three wins whilst shipping only one? Or will staying unbeaten, in what is sure to be a highly charged atmosphere, be a priority?

I hope we play as we have done in recent weeks. In Alan Judge we have the Championship’s man of the moment whilst QPR, although tightening things up in the last two games, have been haemorraging goals. Only Rotherham United (24) have leaked more than the 22 that have hit the back of the Rangers’ net this season.

Besides, we’re just not very good at sitting back. Look at those opening 15 minutes against Charlton Athletic last weekend. Letting a team run at us, rather than dictating play, was almost catastrophic. In the end it all turned out rather well and, for that reason alone, I expect Lee to play in a similar vein with a similar starting XI. The main question being whether to go with Lasse Vibe ahead of Marco Djuricin?

Against Charlton, Brentford pushed until the last minute

Against Charlton, Brentford pushed until the last minute

Vibe took his, and our third, goal beautifully (although that was as much down to the stunning crossfield ball played by Alan Judge) and so could be in contention to start on the pitch rather than the bench. Either way, a nice problem for Lee Carsley to have.

And could we see Sam Saunders on the bench? Or is that just wishful thinking as the wing wizard and deadball danger man continues his return to match fitness? What a moment to make his return tonight would be.

The main threat to the Bees, especially with Jamie Mackie (a player you just don’t hear mentioned enough, such is his prodigious talent and footballing education ) injured, will be from former Poole Town dangerman Charlie Austin. Assuming he starts.

The free scoring frontman is expected to be fit once more after a month out with a hamstring injury but will he put in any form of appearance?

Well, I’m not too bothered. Of course, I’d rather our opponents were missing their better options but, equally, we’ve played good teams before and we’ve raised our game accordingly. Last season’s Championship campaign has certainly taught us to fear nobody.

I hope that Lee and the team play the game and the opponents rather than the event and reputation. The games with Fulham last season showed us all how exciting it can be if you approach a local derby with the right attitude.

Oh, for a repeat of the last one at Griffin Park. Fulham were dominated to a level unseen outside of certain private members’ clubs before snatching one against the run of play. But then Harlee’s thunderbolt and Jota’s injury time winner sent the place crazy.

Could we do it again? At 7.45pm, we find out.

Jota - his winner against Fulham at Griffin Park was quite exciting

Jota – his winner against Fulham at Griffin Park was quite exciting

Nick Bruzon

With just five games left, is this our time?

11 Apr

Brentford travel to Derby County today, with both teams knowing that last night’s victory for Bournemouth (over both Brighton and the ‘manager of the month’ curse) sees them with clear air in the race for promotion from the Championship. Four points is a lovely gap but, of course, everybody else has a chance to play catch up today, including Wolves who visit Birmingham City – where I’m hoping for both a favour aswell as the answer to the question of whether the ‘sausage protest’ is a social media wind up or if it is actually going to happen.

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

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

View from the terrace - Stuart Dallas and fans celebrate our second (of four) at Fulham

View from the terrace – Stuart Dallas and fans celebrate our second (of four) at Fulham

Faster than a speeding bullet - the Spanish superman sends Griffin Park into 95th minute rapture

Faster than a speeding bullet – the Spanish superman sends Griffin Park into 95th minute rapture

Matthew Benham (and Luis) make a great weekend even better

9 Feb

It would be fair to say that yesterday’s article attracted a mixed bag of comment from the Leeds United fans after their side had gone down 1-0 to fourth placed Brentford. Some of it fair and sporting; other parts evoking the spirit of John from Wolves (a frequent visitor to these pages last campaign).

That’s football – we all have an opinion and the multitude of options available in cyberspace make it all the easier for us to express it.

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

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

A fair point. But twitter would get even better

A fair point. But twitter would get even better

Fat fingered spelling aside, this sounds great

Fat fingered spelling aside, this sounds great (and seems popular)

‘Tinpot’ Brentford make it 6 from 6 against Leeds

8 Feb

1974-75. As footballing giants Leeds United were playing Bayern Munich in the European Cup final, ‘tinpot’ Brentford were battling it out in the fourth division with the likes of Workington, Southport, Mansfield Town and Darlington.

How times have changed. Fast forward four decades to where Brentford are the ones pushing for the top flight and, with it, the possibility of Champions League qualification. Leeds, meanwhile, are wallowing in the memories of days gone by as they flirt dangerously with the Championship relegation zone.

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

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

Could Leeds sweep aside tinpot Brentford ?

Could Leeds clean up against tinpot Brentford ?

Time to ring the changes ?

6 Feb

Brentford head to Leeds United on Saturday with the news that Warbs has missed out on his second manager of the month award in three months. Instead, as suspected, Aitor Karanka of Middlesbrough emerged as a deserved winner for January. His side’s 1-0 win at Brentford last weekend being the deciding factor (although, by all rights, that is a game that should probably still be under way given the amount of second half timewasting that took place).

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

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

Could the one time 'hottie of the year' (right) see more action ?

Could the one time ‘hottie of the year’ (right) see more action ?