Tag Archives: Manager of the month

Fine margins see Huddersfield staying alive as Brentford goal glut runs dry.

12 Mar

All good things come to an end and that was certainly the case on Saturday as Brentford saw their hot streak in front of goal stop with a juddering halt. Huddersfield Town shutting us out (and not just in front of goal, if we’re being honest) as they recorded a 1-0 win at Griffin Park. With Fulham, of all teams, doing them a stonking favour with a 3-1 win up at Newcastle United, there’s everything to play for in the top slots .Good luck to anyone trying to call the two automatic promotion places that the Terriers, Magpies and Seagulls are currently fighting over.

Still, promotion is nothing but a pipe dream for Brentford at present – albeit we have a wonderful chance to still impact the play off race later in the season when we travel to Fulham. Assuming they haven’t choked it by that point.

Instead, our aspirations are more about building for next season and, with safety all but mathematically assured, we’ve been doing this in fine style recently. Brentford entered this game off the back off a goal glut which had seen us rise to the top half of the Championship table. Then Huddersfield paid a visit.

Despite a lurid kit – think QPR with added highlighter pen – and the pressure of David Wagner having been named ‘manager of the month’ the visitors accomplished their sole aim. Win the game to keep the pressure on Newcastle and Brighton.

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View from the Braemar – three points and a lurid kit for Huddersfield Town

Whether it was exhaustion, a terrible display from referee Oliver Langford (who seemed to be set to ‘random’ mode), superior opposition or just a combination of all the above, we were second best on the afternoon. Despite a bright start to both periods, Huddersfield were soon able to control the game and snuff out our attacking threat. Indeed, it was the visitors who had the better chances even if the only way they did find the back of the net was via a combination of a Harlee Dean deflection and Dan Bentley.

It was a shame because the pair of them have been unsung heroes this season. The goals of Scott Hogan and the return of our talismanic Spaniards have dominated the headlines and perception of our team. Yet both Dan and Harlee have more than played their parts and are serious contenders for player of the season, when we look back over the entire campaign.

Things could have been different. Perhaps. Brentford had a bright start to both periods, Jota unleashing a drive from outside the box after three minutes that Danny Ward in the Huddersfield goal had to go full stretch to parry away.

Moments into the second half (the Bees having survived a huge scare almost from kick off) Lasse Vibe was presented a gilt edged chance.

Rico Henry releasing Flo Jo, whose slide rule pass across the box found the great Dane unmarked and Ward flatfooted. Yet instead of stroking it home, he somehow managed to sky it over the bar from eight yards out. In truth, the ball was travelling at him, at speed, yet even allowing for that movement one would still have hoped to see the net ripple. And that, a deflected effort that looped onto the top of the crossbar aside, was as good as it got.

After the game, Dean Smith would talk about fine margins being the difference. In the interview which you can find on Brentford ‘official’, he noted how:  “If the goal is given, if Lasse takes his chance, if the free-kick is given at the end of the game then it is different. Unfortunately we are not getting loads of those calls at the moment.

Was this a thinly veiled dig at referee Oliver Langford? A man who incensed captain Harlee Dean and the entire Griffin Park crowd with a series of odd decisions. Certainly, we’ve been getting the goals (and even penalty calls) in recent weeks. Yet even watching from the sidelines, Dean was more animated than I think I’ve ever seen him before as decision after decision went the way of the opposition. He was less Dijkhuizen and more Saturday Night Fever, such was the way he waved his arms around every time a crunching foul was overlooked.

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Dean channeling his inner Travolta, with Huddersfield staying alive in the promotion race

I’ll be keen to see the official highlights later on today. The 90 seconds served up by Sky (in as much all you need to know about the game) glossed over any refereeing faux-pas. Instead, they are just a chance to remind ourselves about what might have been.

That said, I did find Dean’s assertion that, “I thought that we more than matched them today” a bit of an odd one. Statistically speaking alone, the visitors had more possession, more shots and more goals whilst just looking at the game as a supporter I can acknowledge when we’ve been nullified. Huddersfield weren’t streets ahead but they were the better team on the day, no question. They are where they are for a reason.

Instead, we’ll just have to regroup for Tuesday night’s game against Wolves. Expect personnel changes for no other reason than the amount of games we’ve played in such a short space of time. Again, something Dean alluded to in that interview. Could the likes of KK, Tom Field, Sergi Canos and Josh Clarke find themselves back in the starting XI?

Whoever he picks will have the somewhat dubious privilege of Keith Stroud being the man to wave the cards in that theatrical style of his. Here’s hoping Keith is the restrained man in the middle that we have seen on occassion rather than the Keith of Bramall Lane infamy.

This season his record is 161 yellows and 11 reds in his 35 games. That’s an average of 4.6 bookings per game. By comparison, Mr Langford has 113 yellows and 5 reds over the same period. I’m not sure which is better really, going on yesterday.

Instead, let’s just hope it’s our football that everyone is taking about once more come Tuesday night.

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Keith Stroud – your eyes aren’t wrong. There is NO card in hand

Nick Bruzon

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With a jinx lurking, can Dean make it so when Huddersfield visit?

11 Mar

What an afternoon it promises to be at Griffin Park. Huddersfield Town are the visitors as Brentford look to make it 13 points out of the last 15 and increase upon a goalscoring record that has seen us nab 20 goals in the 8 games since Scott Hogan departed. With the Terriers hitting the back of the net 14 times over the same period, this could be one to keep the scorekeepers busy and little Italian restaurants (by Brentford lock) in the public eye. With Brighton joining Newcastle United at the top of the Championship table following last night’s 3-0 win over Derby, nothing but a win will do for our third placed visitors.

So what can we expect? Short of any midweek injuries after our fine win at Nottingham Forest, surely Dean Smith has no choice but to name the same starting XI. Jota continued to grab the headlines but the incredible run from Sergi Canos to set up the second was my highlight of the highlights whilst Lasse Vibe continues to flourish up top since the departure of Scott and got two more goals.

There will no doubt be expectation on the terraces for Jota to prove a point after missing out on the Championship player of the month to Aiden McGeady of Preston. The Spaniard’s five goals, two assists and bucketloads of exciting play being deemed secondary to three goals, four assists and keeping North End within optimistic distance of the play-off pack.

Personally, I can only imagine Jota’s motivation being enjoyment rather than revenge or point proving. Since his return from that loan period with Eibar, he more than lived up to his word in that emotional farewell letter. Not only has he returned but he has come back bigger and better than ever. He gives the impression of a man who plays for the sheer fun of it and boy do the fans lap up his enthusiasm.

With Sergi Canos doing the same on the other flank (thanks to Alex Neil for sanctioning that sale and just not playing Sergi before his own departure form Norwich yesterday) these remain exciting times at Brentford. “I think it is a fun team to watch” he said yesterday. Spot on, Sergi. Here’s to more of the same today.

As for Huddersfield Town, what can we expect? Well, if the Bees were disappointed about our lack of award for Jota, we’ve been handed a massive boost by Terriers’ boss David Wagner being named manager of the month for February.

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David Wagner is the latest to face the ‘Manager of the month’ jinx

There can’t be a football fan the land over who isn’t aware of the supposed jinx/curse (call it what you will) that accompanies this award. Pick up the honour, lose your next game.

With Brighton adding to the pressure last night by moving 9 points clear of third placed Huddersfield, could the weight of this trophy further crank up the tension for the Terriers? Forget David. Once that award is presented Wagner of X-factor fame would have more chance of coaching a winning team than the recipient of the trophy.

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Wagner – remember him?

And what of the other big name for Town? Well, if it was a case of Brentford saying #WelcomeGraham last week (Gooch, that is, in the Bees player commentary box), could there be more star names making the trek to Mark Burridge’s lofty perch today?

Sir Patrick Stewart is, of course, an avid fan of Huddersfield Town and not averse to visiting Griffin Park. Yet with promotional duties for the new Wolverine film, Logan, currently occupying his time in the States, it seems he’ll be missing this one out (unless, of course, he’s hot footing it across to Heathrow on the overnight red eye).

Instead, we’ll have to be content with shared tweet of the week (at least, it was until that BBC news video went viral) for those wanting a glimpse of the man best known as Captain Picard or Professor X.

As for the Bees, can we make it 4 wins out of 5? Here’s hoping Dean Smith can make it so.(I’ll get my coat)

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

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Sir Patrick Stewart – somewhat harsh from Shaz

Nick Bruzon 

The good, the bad and the ugly. Wales and Aston Villa amongst those asking the questions. A week in football

10 Oct

Brentford striker Scott Hogan was named Championship player of the month whilst Norwich city boss Alex Neil scooped the managerial award. As the Bees prepare for the trip to Newcastle United it was another former Premier League side making the headlines. Aston Villa having sacked manager Roberto di Matteo after a handful of games were strongly linked with our own Dean Smith. But with World Cup qualifiers meaning there were no Championship games this weekend, it’s ‘as you were’ in the league table. Brentford can prepare for Saturday’s game in Newcastle knowing that victory will take us to within a point of the currently third placed Magpies.

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

It would be wrong to start with anything but a final congratulations to Scott Hogan. His six goals in five games over September rightfully scooping him the player of the month award. Brentford Chief Executive Mark Devlin amongst those leading the praise.

If this was positive news another announcement, that of the televised Christmas fixtures, bought about a less than positive reaction. Here’s just one, of many, on a similar theme when it was announced that our game with Norwich City had been moved to a 5.30pm kick off on December 31st.

There was as much concern over our manager (sorry, head coach) as this fixture. With Aston Villa sacking their own incumbent, Dean Smith quickly moved to second favourite for this position. Despite sitting in Steve Bruce’s considerable shadow, there was a lot of worry at Griffin Park that our man could be approached. Brentford supporter Natalie Sawyer was amongst those voicing concern.

Concerns shared at Aston Villa, too. There, the same keyboard warrior who threatened to give up football earlier in the month if his beloved side failed to beat a pub team was back. Not only had he reneged on his promise but he still seemed angry.

Still, this was just the small fry compared to the Twitter spat that rapidly unfolded between Aston Villa and Virgin Rail. Whilst we’ve all see this (surely) in the cold light of day it looks even more ridiculous. As we’ve said many times before, unless you are Inverness Caledonian Thistle then football clubs really, really shouldn’t do Twitter sarcasm.

The ‘quiet coach’ . Presumably a euphemism for either the manager or a trophy room that hasn’t been opened since the last century (unless you count the Intertoto cup) .That final ‘comeback’ met with the expected criticism from all comers. However, the pick of the bunch were these two :

In terms of domestic games, the Checkatrade Trophy was back and provided more highlights. Or should that be lowlights ?

Ahh, West Ham. Despite no Premier League game for them this weekend ( a phrase they’ll be repeating most Saturdays in 2017) they still managed to make the headlines. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

But it was the International game where the real ‘action’ was. England emerged from the considerable shadow of Sam Allardyce to record a crushing 2-0 win at home over Malta.

They weren’t the only team making headlines for unexpected reasons. Wales continued to confound pundits following Euro 2016. not with their on pitch antics but with their prematch photos.

If anybody knows just what is gong on, then answers on a postcard please.

And finally, tweet of the week. Infact there are two. First up, who doesn’t love a bit of Accidental Partridge? That wonderful moment when ‘Idea for a show’ becomes reality. And Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp seems to have hit gold.

But in a week where Donald T Rump has made all sorts of nasty headlines in the U.S.A. for his obscene comments about women, Antiques Roadshow guru (seriously, follow his updates on a Sunday evening if you are partial to Fiona Bruce and her dusty collectibles) Jamie Lovell proved that, sometimes, we all just need to catch our breath.

Nick Bruzon

Great Scott. Hogan nominated for Championship player of the month.

6 Oct

That was some news to wake up to. Scott Hogan has made the final four in the Championship ‘player of the month’ awards for September. A haul of six goals in five games that include strikes in the wins over Brighton, Reading and the stunning hat trick in the 5-0 blitz of Preston, have propelled him to a very realistic chance when the winner is announced tomorrow.

Over in the managerial category Dean Smith hasn’t been nominated but can, perhaps, count himself somewhat unlucky. An identical record to nominee Jaap Stam (P5 W3 D1 L1) also included our 4-1 defeat of his Reading team. That one probably our performance of the season in terms of a display over the full 90 minutes.

Yet to argue the point is somewhat trite and, perhaps, disrespectful to those who are all worthy nominees. Simply to be discussing it shows how Brentford continue to progress. Indeed, the number of nominations and awards already picked up by the likes of Mark Warburton and Lee Carsley prior to this had already set an unlikely bar to reach. The Bees continue to take those who underestimate us by surprise and long may this continue.

As for Scott Hogan, will he scoop the award? September saw him score more goals than fellow contender Tammy Abraham at Bristol City , whilst two of those saw him get the better of another on the shortlist – Brighton defender Shane Duffy. Jacob Murphy has found the back of the net four times, from the wing, as Norwich City have stormed up to second place in the now formed table.

Good luck to all four. Victory would be a fantastic honour for Scott but, then again, should he miss out then anything which keeps us under the radar will be good news for Bees fans. However, with Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane now bigging up our man and the goals flying in, air traffic control are reporting a very large blip.

If he continues on this form then surely a call up isn’t far away. And come January, Matthew Benham’s resolve may well be tested. You can’t put a price on a quality goals scorer and with Scott banging these in, seemingly for fun, I can only imagine the top flight clubs will be gathering.

Then again, there is the loyalty factor. Does it exist in football still and how much will the faith shown in the player over that horrendous 18 month injury be rewarded? Without meaning to be, that period could well have been one of the best investments Matthew has ever made.

To the outsider looking in, our players have always been treated in nothing but the best way. The support of Alan Judge or the contract extension for Jota when he went out on loan (please come back). Whilst we may be living in dreamland at the thought of seeing the latter again, the point being that we give our squad nothing but support.Here’s hoping that pays dividends long term.

Scott can make the Premier League. Of that there is no doubt. The question being as to whether he does it with Brentford or somebody else. Keep on with our current form and the answer to that one may well be one we like.

Nick Bruzon

As the Bees prepare for a last hurrah, why Middlesbrough will go up on Saturday..

6 May

What a day tomorrow promises to be. Brentford travel to Huddersfield Town looking to secure 10th (and a possible 9th) place in the Championship table. At the business end, the mythical beast that is the fixture computer has served up a play-off before the play-offs in the Middlesbrough v Brighton ‘winner takes all’. As for yesterday’s Josh McEachran to Chelsea story. Let’s just park that one right here.

First up though, I have to start with the Middlesbrough – Brighton game simply because of what it represents. And I can tell you who’s going to reach the Premier League aswell.

With both teams locked on 88 points, The Seagulls have to win to snatch ‘automatic’. Anything less, with Boro on a superior goal difference, will see Brighton consigned to a play off with Sheffield Wednesday.

Sadly, for Brighton fans, I’ve got Boro’ all over this one. If for no other reason than Chris Hughton has just been named manager of the month for April. No matter how strong the visitors are and what the weight of expectation from the home supporters, we all know how the award works.

Win manager of the month – lose your next game.

It’s a curse as longstanding as Clem featuring ‘your team’ for his prematch feature. Last season saw a mere 7(seven) winners for sides highlighted by the ever popular roving reporter. ‘MotM’ is, for the jinx wary amongst us, no different.

Genuinely, I’d love to see former Bee Chris do it. Realistically, I think ‘that curse’ may strike again.

In a way, whilst proud that Dean Smith was also nominated, at least Chris ‘taking the hit’ has increased our chances slightly. No doubt Huddersfield will want to sign off in style etc etc etc but equally Brentford fans know what another three points means. Already 5 clear of QPR and out of sight from Fulham, this really is a stunning chance to strengthen our stranglehold on the West London mini league.

Hopefully this message has also translated to Dean and the players. Certainly the build up to, and reaction from, last weekend’s 3-0 thumping of the Cottagers suggests this will be the case.

For us, the season is almost over. We’ll look back on it over the next week or so (although I promise that the cliché of an ‘end of term report card‘ is one I’ll leave to others). Instead, for now, here’s hoping the men in black can ‘go again’ one more time.

For those fortunate enough to be able to make the trip, Kitman Bob has suggested on Twitter that the players plan to give their shirts away at the end of the game. I’ve no idea how this will happen although if Sam Saunders is reading, perhaps rather than throw it to the crowd you could just put yours in an envelope addressed to….

In all seriousness, this kit nerd has loved the various giveaways over the season and what a great gesture to say ‘thanks’ to those who have travelled with The Bees this campaign. Good luck to the 400+ able to make the trip tomorrow.

And finally, Josh McEachran to Chelsea?? No. Seriously. I don’t normally talk about rumours but this one was so random it bears reflection. Coming from a source weaker than a watered down bottle of value brand low-sugar ketchup, the Express ran a ‘story’ yesterday saying how Chelsea “hadn’t ruled out re-signing” Josh.

This, in itself, turned out to be a comment on something they’d read in the Evening Standard the night before. Thankfully Tom Moore, West London’s Premier Journalist, was able to speak with Dean Smith where this one was not so much scotched but laughed off in a state of confusion.

Tom’s article quotes Dean as saying: ” I have heard nothing at all about this. Is that to help him with his treatment? I’m not aware of any buyback clause either

Perhaps the Standard/Express had got confused and were assuming John Swift would be returning to Stamford Bridge when his loan expires. That, surely, the most likely outcome when the season draws to a close.

Either way, it just proves once more the old adage about not believing everything you read in the papers. Unless it comes from Beesotted, I’ll generally give such speculation a very wide berth.

And with that out of the way, I can get back to lumping the mortgage on Middlesbrough’s promotion.

What can go wrong?

Sam Saunders black kit

One last look – at the shirt..

Nick Bruzon

Can Dean match the heights of some illustrious company?

19 Apr

Brentford host Cardiff City this evening with head coach Dean Smith aiming to continue April’s unbeaten run after seeing the Bees pick up three wins and a draw since March came to an end. It is an identical record to Chris Hughton’s Brighton whilst only Aitor Karanka and Middlesbrough have better form after winning all five of their games this month. With the Bees now aiming to finish as high as possible, what’s left for us ?

Dean has made no secret of his desire to finish in the top ten. There’s currently a 4 point gap to Preston in 10th and 5 to Birmingham in ninth. With a game in hand it’s more than possible, statistically speaking, although translating that into actual points will be a big ask.

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Russell Slade – has gone down in Brentford legend

And its not going to be easy tonight. For Cardiff City, a win is an absolute must. Five points outside the play-off places , anything but an away win will surely see our teams tied together for another season. Of course, Russell Slade will be celebrating like he’s won the FA Cup if he can secure the points and make some ground on Sheffield Wednesday.

The irony of his doing that two years and a day after those incredible scenes as the Bees went up would be lost on nobody.Despite his team going on a recent mini slump that has seen two draws and a loss,  you can bet he’ll have the Bluebirds fired up.

Then again, so will Dean. Since the injuries that have robbed his midfield of John Swift and Josh McEachran, the team have looked a different prospect. Whilst no side could say they were the same without the quality of Alan Judge, even Saturday against Bristol City saw us go so close to making it four in a row as the Bees continued with their attacking intent.

For all Dean talks about 10th, closer to home another win could make the battle for April’s ‘Manager of the month’ an interesting one. Of course, Aitor Karanka remains a shoe in for that as it stands with those 15 points out of 15. Yet with his Middlesbrough outfit facing fellow title chasers Burnley tonight (that’ll be some game) should Andre Gray and co do the business then it opens that one right up.

For me, the target still remains the Bees ending up as the top side in West London. We’re 6 clear of Fulham and only 3 behind the Loftus Road mob (with a game in hand).

Whilst Dean scooping an award in April will be a sign that we’re on track for that one, its a short term aspiration. If the Bees can finish top of this mini-pile after 46 games then I think that after all the ups and downs, the season will have been considered to have  ended on a high.

That’s a big ‘IF’ and, as I say, it won’t be easy tonight. Should anybody be in any doubt I’ll just put two words out there…

Stuart. Attwell.

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8 people liked the official announcement. Wow !

And finally, an apology. Yesterday’s column looked, in part, at the tour-de-force that was Sean Ridley hosting Terrace Talk. As part of this, it was noted that he ended his feature chasing after a duck.

I realise, now, this was wrong. In fact I am reliably informed it was an Egyptian Goose. So caught up was I in the excitement of his quite wonderful performance (and if you haven’t seen it yet, please do) that I’ve made a basic ornithological mix up.

I’m sorry.

That said, Sean has left a tough act to follow. No pressure, Jo 🙂

Nick Bruzon

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

7 Feb

Fear not, Brentford fans. This isn’t another discourse on FCM although their role does play a part in today’s column. I’d love to pretend I was a connoisseur of all things Shakespeare but nobody is going to be fooled by any pretensions of being high-brow. Whilst the line is one of the most famous from Hamlet, it wasn’t The Bard who gave me inspiration but Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Originally spoken by the character Marcellus (presumably not Trotta), it is one which has since slipped into common usage to describe corruption or a situation in which something is wrong. You’ll also find it in one of the greatest ‘so bad it’s good’ films of all time, Arnie’s ‘Last Action Hero’ in which the Terminator star’s mock trailer for a more explosive version appears.

Hasta la vista, William

Before anybody calls in the lawyers, I’m not suggesting any form of corruption at Brentford. Or FCM. Clear?!

That said, I’m still not entirely convinced that all is good about the situation surrounding our club at present. We lost at Brighton on Friday night and that is part and parcel of having to rebuild a successful team. Moreso, playing against a side pushing for promotion who seem to have rediscovered their mojo.

Yet I do wonder how we could run them so close on Boxing day, yet 6 weeks later be played off the park. Did Toumani and James Tarkowski, both since sold, make that much of a difference? Or was there more to it than that?

What really worried me was Dean Smith being quoted as saying: “We spoke about the training and we felt the intensity hadn’t been good enough and that carried over into the game. I felt it turned over the first goal

Wow! How on earth has that been allowed to happen? We’ve got more specialist coaches than National Express so what is wrong in the set up that we lack training ground intensity? Is there discontent behind the scenes following more high profile departures after the influx of statistical recruits over the summer?

Was this a throwaway remark made out of context or should we really be concerned?

Ordinarily, I might now have paid this quite so much attention, were it not for what has already happened this season. We had the Marinus experiment that ended after a mere 9 games and 2 wins – of which the first was inspired by a brace from Andre Gray.

Whilst the club’s statement didn’t go into huge specifics on his eventual exit, despite us being told how great things were in the Fans’ Forum just days earlier, there are several suggestions on news sites that training ground issues were a huge part of this. The Daily Mail, in particular, made the statement that , “It was the quality of training which was his true undoing, with a number of first-team players holding serious misgivings”.

Indeed, in his introduction of Lee Carsley as the successor to Marinus, our chairman specifically noted : “Lee has shown with the Under-21s he is an outstanding leader. His work at the training ground has been hugely impressive whilst coaching the development squad and has demonstrated he understands the club’s philosophy and the ambitions of Brentford FC.”

Lee certainly had the team back up to the incredible heights we’d reached last season, even winning October’s manager of the month award following a run of four straight victories. Since he left, the team has managed four more victories in the 13 games since Dean took over.

We’ve only scored 6 goals in the 7(seven) games that covered the transfer window period and then the Brighton match. Of those, 3 came in the only win over that period, the away game at Preston.

Draw what conclusion you want from these stats but I’m not convinced we have an entirely happy camp. It’s always harder looking in, of course, and perhaps there is still an element of caution after so much change has taken place.

Lee Carsley MOTM

October very much a ‘head coach’ high point after Marinus

Fans aren’t happy either. Just look around social media to see them sniping at each other. The GPG is going into meltdown in certain areas. Twitter is an angry place. Club employees are publically critical of supporters for voicing opinion whilst even the normally placid ‘Brentford FC loyal’ site on Facebook is becoming a fractured group.

You can ignore this but discontent in cyber space fuels discontent on the terrace and people ARE falling into two camps. On the one hand those who say we should put up, shut up, trust the hierarchy and be grateful for what we’ve got . After all, it wasn’t so long ago we were fighting for survival and playing in Division 2 . That this is long term ‘project’ (I HATE that word to describe a football club).

On the other, those who say that – you know what, whether expected or not we did bloody well last season. Why shouldn’t we have tried to build on that team, with a manager who had performed heroics ? What’s wrong with wanting our team to succeed and do better each season? Having had a taste of Championship success, who wouldn’t want more?

Compare this to the last three seasons where the most we’ve had to argue about is whether Marcello Trotta should have come back (a resounding yes, for me). Now, supporters are at each other’s throats but who is right?

As ever, the answer seems to lie half way between both. I’ll put in my usual disclaimer at this point about being eternally grateful of Matthew Benham’s investment but, equally, every supporter’s right to still ask questions about our direction.

We’ve had to sell. But so heavily? Was last season our best shot of going up and, having just missed out, is it now simply a case of treading water whilst building up both the balance sheet and a new team until we are ready to move to Lionel Road?

This sort of consolidated approach can pay long term dividends. Look at Stoke City. They reached the Championship after beating us in the 2001-02 play off final and immediately sacked their manager. Gudjon Thordarson was replaced by Steve Cotterill with Tony Pulis taking over from him just four months into the season. Six years later, Pulis took Stoke into the Premier League on the last day of the 2007-08 season. A place they still hold today.

As a side note, what few may recall is that during his time in the Championship, Pulis was also sacked by Stoke before being reappointed. In the interim, Dutchman Johan Boskamp was appointed for a season. It was a period that saw him bring in a number of new players from Europe but his inconsistent side limped to mid-table.

Unlike Stoke, our European approach has this analytical element. It worked for FCM but will it work for us? So far, the jury is out. Equally, and whether he likes it or not, Rasmus Ankersen seems to be public enemy number 1 in some circles.

At the end of the day (Clive), you can understand some scepticism given that the chairman of one club is responsible for transfer policy at another. Ours.

How can you split two roles? Who will get preference when the ‘statistical jewel in the crown’ is uncovered? Moreso, when a team that is crying out for a goalscorer has not looked / been able (delete as applicable) to make any investment over the January window.

If Rasmus is reading (who knows) then why not give an interview? But not to the club media team. What about a hard hitting one? I’d love to see if the likes of Beesotted could probe him properly. Billy Reeves style.

And this wouldn’t be to take pot shots – quite the opposite. Whether people like it or not, this is currently our direction so let’s hear more about it, please. Why not try and engender some trust? Last time that we were told everything was rosy it wasn’t, so how about some reassurance now?

Our new look approach. Our three / four (I count Lee twice) head coaches in one season. Our shedding of a side that came ‘so close’. Further talk of training ground issues. Even just this squabbling amongst ourselves are all things we are not used to at Brentford. Why not sit down in front of a couple of respected supporters and give us your take ?

There’s no real answers from me in today’s column. I’m just one numpty on the terrace chucking a few questions out there and calling things how I see them – from one supporter’s perspective. Some may agree; others probably won’t.

To be honest, that we are talking about Championship consolidation in almost a negative term seems bonkers. I get that bit.  Yet there is an underlying vibe that surrounds this which, whilst perhaps just me, I’d love to hear more about from the other side of the fence.

The club.

Rasmus talks to Beesplayer

Is Rasmus the man to reinvigorate our support?

Nick Bruzon

And the winner is….announced very early but fully deserved

6 Nov

Brentford fans have woken up to the news that Saturday’s game against Blackburn Rovers has just been made all that harder. This, after Lee Carsley pipped Steve Bruce of Hull City, amongst others, to the much coveted ‘Manager of the Month’ award for October. And whilst, of course, Lee deserves nothing but the hugest congratulations, the associated ‘jinx’ that comes with it (scoop the award, lose your next game) will be something he needs all his powers to overcome.

Spoiler alert - its a Bees double for October

Spoiler alert – its a Bees double for October

Considering Lee’s long-term reluctance to take on this sort of role, one can‘t deny the impact he has had although, equally, he is quick to recognise the help provided by his assistant, Paul Williams. In an article that went live on the official site in the small hours of Friday morning (somebody may have been reading at 1.35am ) he said, “If I could cut the award in half, he would get the other half. I see this as a reward for a great team effort over the month.”

Whoever gets the kudos, to be recognised in such a fashion just five weeks after taking over from Marinus is an incredible achievement. The transformation has been a stunning one whilst, whatever else happens this season, Lee has guided us to victory over our fiercest rivals.

Whilst the jinx worthy amongst us may now be worried about what comes next on Saturday, the oft-quoted stat regarding the post-award defeat is one that has, to be fair, bypassed Brentford in recent years. Both Uwe and Warbs (twice) have managed to dodge it. Could Lee continue that trend at Blackburn?

Well, Brentford supporters will be hoping that October’s player of the month is available to help him with this challenge.

Alan Judge made it a Brentford double, picking up the onfield prize. And if Steve Bruce thought he might have had a shout for the managerial top spot after Hull City had stormed to the top of the Championship table, nobody could have disputed Alan’s reward.

Three goals and four assists have seen the Bees firing on all cylinders and the opposition left very much in his wake. His absence was definitely felt in Tuesday night’s game against Hull, such is the impact he has had. The club’s YouTube video, whilst ending on a precautionary note about his potential availability for this weekend, sees the Judge in enthusiastic form talking about the month just gone.

Congratulations due to Alan.

Whatever happens this weekend and this month, the season has a long way to go. Lee Carsley and his back room team have done a stunning job in reversing our fortunes. Regardless of results, it is as much the way we are playing football.

With the likes of Josh McEachran, Jota and Lewis Macleod due to return to first team fitness soon, that style of football is one we could be set to enjoy even more.

Nick Bruzon

The stuff of dreams becomes a nightmare

5 Nov

What a time of contrasting managerial emotions for Brentford and QPR. Hot off the heels of our derby day victory over the Loftus Road outfit (a three points that Derby County then enjoyed on Tuesday night) Rangers have parted company with Chris Ramsey. Lee Carsley, meanwhile, has just been announced in the shortlist for manager-of-the-month.

I take no pleasure in anybody losing his or her job. Regardless of the team. Indeed, it doesn’t seem like five minutes ago we were embroiled in Village-gate and Mark Warburton was hot favourite to take over at QPR. Instead, with Tony Fernandes announcing that he was close to announcing his ‘dream manager’, Warbs eventually went to Rangers (the Glasgow incarnation) whilst Chris Ramsey took over at Loftus Road.

How things changed. Rangers exited the Premier League; Brentford came to within a play off game of making it. And now, with the Bees on the charge once more, QPR continue their slide downwards.

No doubt their fans and top brass will be worried they are looking like following the recent likes of Wolves directly into the Division One. With it, will come potential games against the likes of Mansfield Town, Carlisle and Accrington Stanley next season. Whilst I can’t see it happening it does show how fleeting football form can be.

Lee Carsley, meanwhile, has received the expected ‘reward’ for an October that saw us pick up 12 points out of 15 and four successive wins. Will he scoop the final honour? Well, being honest, I expect it to go to Steve Bruce at Hull City – they were unbeaten and a point better off. Likewise, victory over us on Tuesday (albeit in November) saw them reach the top of the Championship table.

The Bees came close but couldn't get past Hull on Tuesday

The Bees came close but couldn’t get past Hull on Tuesday

Either way, it is a tremendous reversal of form following the days of Marinus and Roy.

And nowhere more has this been typified than in Alan Judge, who is also up for the player-of-the-month award. His four assists, three goals and scintillating play make him a very genuine candidate for this award. Ironically, former Bee Andre Gray, who has been scoring goals for fun at Burnley, could be a very serious rival for this one.

Whatever happens, I’d rather be in our situation than that of Rangers who, this morning, will be sorting through the monogrammed CR tracksuits and starting the search for their next dream manager.

As for us, whilst I’d hope Lee wins the prize I can’t look past Steve Bruce. Although, should he do it, then get ready to bet against Hull City at the weekend.

We all know how that jinx normally works.

Alan Judge - has been on fire (not literally) in October

Alan Judge – has been on fire (not literally) in October

Nick Bruzon

Judge and Djuri’ send QPR down as Bees pass trial by TV

31 Oct

Can Brentford take bragging rights, and 3 points, from QPR? That was the question posed in Friday morning’s column and the answer was very much a resounding, ‘YES’!!!

A 1-0 win, via the boot of Marco Djuricin, sent the Bees fans home ecstatic and the Rangers’ support skulking back to Loftus Road with their tails between their legs – all the pre-match bluster very much coming to nothing.

In front of a full house and the Sky TV cameras, Brentford were magnificent. As a game, it hadn’t promised to be much of a spectacle (we had only scored three goals and earned two points from our previous six league encounters) but when it really counted, in a Championship encounter, QPR just couldn’t match the Bees. And didn’t it feel great?

Sky TV capture the score and the moment for posterity

Sky TV capture the score and the moment for posterity

Lee Carsley’s fourth win in a row (for a man who doesn’t want a long term managerial role, he’s doing a very good job of putting himself in an untenable position) propelled Brentford up to 10th in the table, overtaking both QPR and Fulham. The days of Marinus seem a long way away already and our interim head coach could even be talking himself into a position for the manager of the month ‘poison chalice’.

With our games completed for October, the Bees remain the form side with 12 points and four wins from the month. Only Brighton, Hull and Derby come close to catching that although, of course, the rest of the Championship have a game in hand. In terms of emulating what happened when Warbs took over from Uwe, he’s not doing too bad a job. Oh for a repeat of that (although preferably without any mention of football being a village).

Still, all of this is a long way off. Back to the game which, being honest, produced a somewhat staid first half. Very much a cautious affair, it was waiting to explode into life but didn’t quite fire. Massimo Luongo (an alleged one time target for the Bees – back in those pre-season days of Bees bosses being poised to make double swoops, so beloved of our local journalists) hit the stanchion and the inside of the post late on in the opening 45 for the visitors. That was about as worried as we got all game.

Frankly, Rangers were a shadow of their reputation and past Premier League status. They offered little and this was a game waiting for them to be opened up. Like breaking into a can of corned beef, a tricky task but the reward was one so worth the effort.

Once we'd opened up QPR, the reward was all the sweeter

QPR – it was worth perservering

But if the first period had been quiet, the second was anything but. Clearly Lee could smell blood in the water because the Bees came out at 100 miles an hour. Marco Djuricin produced a great stop from one time England goalkeeper Rob Green before John Swift fired the resulting clearance just over. Alan Judge, set free by Toumani (GPG man of the match by a country mile), went down in the box when, perhaps, better opportunity awaited had he been able to stay on his feet. Referee Simon Hooper called “no foul” but it hardly mattered.

Seconds later came the moment. That man Judge, yet again, was the provider. Cutting down the left flank he played a fast, low cross into the box that Djuricin did wonderfully to fire past the helpless Green. It really was a goal about technique and positioning as the Austrian got himself in front of the defender to meet the perfect delivery. And didn’t Bees fans go crazy?!

Only Toumani getting on the end of it could have made the moment any sweeter. Even now, having slept on it, I’ve still got a goofy smile on my face at the thought of that hitting the back of the net. The noise, the excitement, the goal. Hey, even the flare (kids, don’t do them) added a certain ambience on this occasion.

It doesn’t get much better than this. If last season saw us become the much lambasted #Novemberkings, could we see a new hashtag appearing on Saturday? Not even I’d be so churlish as to deny us that – even just for one day.

The only down side was Alan Judge heading straight down the tunnel after being substituted. Hopefully this was nothing more than a precaution for a player fast becoming one of the Championship’s hottest properties.

Whilst it was great to be part of the action at Griffin Park, it did mean we were unable to follow ‘our friends at radio’. I have no doubt the Beesplayer team have produced another ‘Burridgegasm’ for Marco’s goal. Roll on the video highlights.

Likewise, we were denied a chance to hear Billy Reeves. The sometime Beesplayer host was doing his thing on BBC Radio London where I do wonder if his oft quoted ‘meridian line’ put in a real life appearance. Judging by the two-minute gap between the scoreboards at each end of Griffin Park, we were clearly playing in opposing time zones.

Still, this is all minutiae. 1-0 to the Bees is the only thing that counts this morning. We’re up to tenth in the table and, as it stands, just four points away from the promotion spots. That challenge is all to come though. For now, it’s just about enjoying the moment and the fact that we are the best team in this corner of West London.

Get in !!!

As it stands.....

As it stands…..

Nick Bruzon