Tag Archives: Manchester City

Is he the best new player we didn’t sign in the window?

2 Feb

Oh my word. After the week began with nothing but Christian Eriksen (and rightly so) there was a further bombshell – of the good sort – out of Brentford official on Tuesday afternoon. Just two words needed: David Raya. Make that four words: David. Raya. Josh. Dasilva. Both featured in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Aston Villa in which our much missed goalkeeper made a return to action, mirroring those earlier steps on the road to recovery made by Josh. The later scoring the opening goal of what would eventually transpire to conclude in a 2-1 reverse. Whilst Everton and Manchester City may be too much to hope for, might Saturday week against Crystal Palace be the date we are provisionally pencilling into our calendars for David’s return? Josh too. Elsewhere, we now know Christian Eriksen’s squad number and his Fantasy Football value .

First up, David Raya. What an unexpected bonus. He had been an absolute nailed on starter before that injury against Leicester City. The shot stopping. The calm. The distribution. Exuding confidence and making the step up from The Championship to Premier League look oh so simple. The almost sixth sense relationship with his defence. Knowing when to come. Knowing when to stay. Showing why Arsenal had coveted him so much but, thankfully, remained unfulfilled in their desires.

The value of a top class ‘keeper cannot be underestimated. Something we know only too well at both ends. Without David, it would be fair to say that at times we’ve looked shakier than Shakin Stevens reading Shakespeare whilst dreaming of milksh… well, we all get it.  

At times, the backline has felt shaky whilst David has been out.

Up front, that last line of defence has denied us points against Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester City. Amongst others. Grade A ‘keepers are worth their weight in gold. The players most under the spotlight and the hardest to replace. For all people are anxious, post window, about our lack of full back cover, for me ‘keeper has always been the toughest act to follow. Green shirted bench warmer the most thankless of tasks. Moreso, for newcomers to the set up.   

Now, our quest for #1 could almost be at an end. In David’s own words:  Felt so good to be out there with the boys once again after 15 weeks on the sidelines. Last push of recovery and hope to be back out there soon.

He isn’t alone.

Oh yes !!!

Then there’s Josh Dasilva. His rehabilitation has been a long and patient one. At times we’ve coped. At others Brentford have been crying out for his athleticism. His creative genius in midfield. His shots from the edge of the box. His Premier League debut. There’s been so much going on this season it is, sometimes, hard to think about a player who was a nailed on starter when fit. We’ve missed him so much. We’re almost set for the most anticipated comeback since Jota returned from Spain for round 2 at Griffin Park.  

Like David, he got another sixty minutes under the belt at Villa Park. He scored the goal, too. An effort described by ‘official’ as a shot to the far corner from a tight angle. That Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings would eventually hand victory to Aston Villa is almost a moot point. For Brentford, it was all about the return of two much, much missed stars. Make that three if you factor in the 90 minute run out for Matthias Jensen. Who’d have thought he’d be back so soon after the Wolves game?

Wolves… horrific

Right now, I’m dreaming of an Eriksen, Norgaard, Dasilva midfield?  Or should that be Dasilva, Jensen, Eriksen? With Norgaard deeper. Or perhaps Janelt, Dasilva and Norgaard? How about a Danish power trio of Eriksen, Norgaard and Jensen? With Eriksen making a gladiatorial return to the fray from the substitutes bench.

Imagine the reception he’ll get for that moment….

Whichever option Thomas goes for, it’s a quite wonderful problem to have once all are fully fit. Bring on Crystal Palace. I hope. You could call either David or Josh the best new player we’ve acquired. But both? Wow. Certainly, it feels like a huge breath of fresh air blowing through Lionel Road.

And talking of which….. there’s Christian Eriksen too. He, of course, a player whose name you may have caught recently. Well, he’s now been confirmed as wearing squad number 21.

Halil Dervişoğlu, currently on loan at Galatasaray gives up his double digits to our latest acquisition. With free printing offers already available at the club shop, one can only imagine the industrial laminator will be in heavy use over the coming weeks.

Likewise, the club website where all being well we do a better job with the photoshop once he is formally added.

He’s in !!

For those amongst us doing Fantasy Football…. And by doing, in my case we mean jinxing – given the abject lack of form immediately bestowed upon anybody selected – Christian has now been added to the game.

With a value of £5.5 million he’ll be an absolute steal once he makes that much anticipated return. Perhaps hold off a few weeks though. If nothing else, until they get his shirt right after opting for an old photo rather than a shonky cut and paste.

Brentford? Check. Value? Check? Photo? Err……

Right – that’s me done. Dreams of a two week break ruined by the transfer window, Josh Dasilva and David Raya. Everton and Manchester City on the imminent horizon. Returning heroes, all being well, just as close.

Cripes, I can’t wait. See you there.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No… he’s in the air and everything though

Nick Bruzon

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Awesome news. Awful photoshop. Just another day on Planet Brentford.

1 Feb

Another transfer window slams shut for Brentford. We now know the names of the players who we have for the rest of the Premier League campaign. Those pushing for FA Cup glory (starting with Everton on Saturday) and Premier League position (continuing with Manchester City and then Crystal Palace). The headlines were, of course, made by confirmation of Christian Eriksen joining us for the rest of the season. One can’t truly describe how monumental this is. The out-door saw deadline day moves for Marcus Forss (Hull City) and Charlie Goode (Sheffield United) to join those who had already moved on earlier in the month but it was the 8am announcement of Eriksen that had everyone and anyone talking. If for no other reason, about who had given the keys of club photoshop to the work experience student.

Hi everyone. Its Christian Eriksen. I’m happy to announce I’ve signed for Brentford football club and I can’t wait to get started and hopefully I’ll see you all soon.

Not my words, Carol. The words of Christian Eriksen. The actual Christian Eriksen. And now he’s on the books at Brentford. Actual. Christian. Eriksen. He’s a player in the very top bracket of world football and now he has chosen to play for the Bees. It’s nuts. Its crazy. Its about to happen. He’s due to start training next week (so Everton and , in all probability, Manchester City are games too soon) but beyond that who knows where or when we get our first glimpse of the man in action?  

Fitness is the obvious issue here. Not so much his recovery form that horrifying collapse agasint Finland in the summer but more in getting back to the levels from last season. A season where he helped Inter Milan win the Italian title. He hasn’t played a game in anger since the Euros and it would be unimagineable for anyone to spring straight back in to action full tilt. Just look at how Josh Dasilva is being nursed back through the B team for context. But, when he’s ready, it’s going to be immense. Immense. Until then. perhaps dig out those mid 90’s shirts?

Speaking on the BBC football news show, ‘transfer expert’ Simon Stone describes it as, “A fantastic deal for him and it’s a fantastic deal for Brentford aswell. Who could imagine a club like Brentford could sign someone of that kind of standing?”

For once, a ‘teams like’ comment that is spot on. He’s the sort of player that could fit into any of the best teams in Europe. Instead, he’s chosen the Barcelona of the (former) lower leagues. As Stone also suggested, this is a move that has long foundations with Thomas Frank having coached the player when he was part of the Denmark U-17 set up.

It’s a funny old game, as somebody once said. All the bile directed towards our head coach for so long. All the negative talk. Yet all he’s done has guide us further up the football pyramid. Won an actual play off final. Seen us hit the top flight running. And now used his associations to bring in a truly World class player. Bravo Thomas.

Frank out, eh?

If nothing else, it got our H ready for school early with a quick fly-by of Lionel Road on the way in to class. The excitement will do that. The retro shirt getting a display in public and, I’d imagine, we’ll be seeing many more of these in the coming weeks.

Ericsson on the front. Eriksen on the back.

As Stone continued, in a piece you can see here, “Once he gets to match fit, if he can get to anything like the ability that he has shown through the rest of his career he will be a force for good for Brentford and, actually, a force for good for the Premier League aswell.”

For the rest of our activity, you could substitute tumbleweed. The frustration amongst certain quarters was clear. Primarily given the lack of full back cover and the loaning out of Marcus Forss to Hull. For me, Clive, the former is playing percentages. Muddling through as we’ve already done this season. The later, a gamble if Ivan gets injured but Marcus has rarely featured this season and getting minutes under the belt is the absolute priority. Sergi Canos substituted admirably at Leeds United and whilst his best position is out wide rather than wing back or up top, that versatility is something Thomas very much relies on. The fans may not always agree but the table speaks volumes.

Leeds away. Sergi is in there somewhere. Making friends as ever

Likewise, what are / were anyone’s actual aspirations? At the start of the season survival was the absolute must. We’d all have taken that if, somehow, offered. We’re fourteenth at the moment after coming though as tough a run of games as is possible. Manchester United and Liverpool back to back. Manchester City at the end of December and due up again imminently. The freak game with Wolves where everything, and we mean everything, happened….

That people are now frustrated at an apparent lack of ambition is a sign of how well we have taken to life at this level but also a colossal insult to a squad for whom relegation is now being predicted. That’s how I read it, of course. Please note: opinions may differ.  

Then again, the current era is one in which confidence and trust has been an easy thing to buy into. Again, that’s my feeling and perhaps as much this comes through living through the years of mediocrity which, whilst absolute fun, were nothing like the football we now enjoy. The players we’ve been fortunate enough to see grace the pitch. That Christian Eriksen is the next of these in line is something that just cannot be over-stated enough.

Let’s not forget, either, the imminent returns of Josh Dasilva and David Raya. They’ll feel like brand new signings and I can’t help feel both will be back in the starting XI soon. With all of the, understandable, Eriksen noise yesterday this video probably got lost in the crowd. But take a look. Raya looking flexible and throwing himself around.  With moves like Jagger, to borrow from popular music’s Maroon 5.

We’ve not sold any of the big names. People forget how commonplace a thing this used to be. Instead, several first teamers have signed contract extensions whilst we’ve got as marquee a signing as the come. Staying up and building for next season would seem to be very much the order of the day. Perhaps with an FA Cup run chucked in.

The latest chapter in the Brentford story begins on Saturday at Everton. I can’t wait….

Until then, here’s that window in full…

IN: NEW Actual Christian Eriksen: Jonas Lössl

IN: Loan return: Ellery Balcombe

Contract Extensions: Pontus Jansson, Christian Nørgaard, Bryan Mbeumo:

Out: Jan Žambůrek: Viborg FF.  Patrik Gunnarsson: Viking Stavanger.

Out loan: Marcus Forss: Hull City.  Joel Valencia: AD Alcorcón.  Dominic Thompson: Ipswich Town. Mads Bidstrup: FC Nordsjaelland. Charlie Goode: Sheffield United. Luka Racic: HB Køge

Nick Bruzon

Christian Eriksen IS a Bee. Biggest, ever signing confirmed.

31 Jan

It’s official. My word!! Christian Eriksen is an actual Bee. Brentford official made the much anticipated announcement on Monday morning with the player signing a reported six-month contract. The Denmark international midfielder and former Ajax, Spurs and Inter Milan man goes into the squad and is now, in theory, available for Everton. For Manchester City. For the rest of our first Premier League campaign. If Pontus Jansson was a marquee signing then the acquisition of Eriksen is ten times better. What a way to start a Monday morning.

We’ve been reading the stories for the last fortnight or so. What seemed like the most ludicrous rumour slowly talking shape. Gathering substance. Early last week, a Danish film crew flew over to talk with fans in The Griffin about the possibility of the move coming to fruition. The feeling amongst those of us with an ear to the ground suggesting that, for once, this wasn’t click-bait but actually something with legs.

Then, Sunday evening, Sky Sports were amongst those running a story about how the deal was done. Extensive medical tests passed and personal terms with Brentford agreed. The signing expected to be made later in the week. Exciting news to fall asleep to and then even better to wake up with. At 8am this morning, it happened. The news confirmed. The most remarkable conclusion to the awful, awful events of Euro 2020 officially revealed. For Christian alone, let alone the supporters sure to welcome him with open arms.

The excitement around TW8 palpable. Its’ all anyone has been talking about over the winter break, that brief diversion over the weekend aside (Sergi’s new hairstyle, obv). A signing so contrary to our model that it almost defies belief. 109 caps for Denmark. 36 international goals. An attacking midfielder who is genuinely up there with the very best players in world football. And he’s coming to Brentford. That’s a fact which cannot be overstated enough. It’s simply incredible

One can’t help but think back to what happened over the summer. The raw emotion. The obvious connection. Let’s not pretend it won’t be close to everyone’s minds when he runs out with Brentford for the first time. It’s the instinctive reaction but, equally, we have to put trust in medical science. Not least Christian and his family. In the fact that this wouldn’t be allowed to happen if there was thought to be any chance of risk to the player.

If nothing else, we’ve that huge connection to CRY. Andy Scott retired early whilst we’ll never forget Rob Rowan and remain eternally thankful for his legacy. You can still donate here, btw.

For now, all we can do is look forward with excitement. With lips being licked. Let’s also remember that Christian hasn’t played since the Euros. Is it feasible to expect him to hit the ground running or will it be a cautious reintroduction to first team football? One can only assume the later. Whether Everton is too soon, who knows? Setting up the winner for Ivan at Manchester City, perhaps? Or even bagging it himself?

If nothing else, what does Thomas Frank now do with his midfield? With his entire team? The international power trio of Norgaard, Eriksen and Jensen is one the headline writers will be screaming out for. The core of the Danish midfield now at the centre of ours. Then what of Vitaly and Shandon? Of the imminent return for Josh Dasilva? From looking thinner than the laughs in an average episode of My Family (happy now, Mrs Browns Boys fan?) we’re now stuffed to the gunnels. Spoiled for choice with options that just can’t be met in full. What a lovely problem for Thomas to have. What a way to perhaps push Ivan higher up and focus on doing what he does best. To spare him from having to cover so much of that additional ground.

It was the GPG who nailed it in the build-up last night. All of a sudden, Bradley Walsh becomes only the second most famous person to sign for the Bees.

Or the third depending on where you put Chris Kamara. One thing’s for sure, this news is unbelievable. Get used to it though. Things have just become very real. The only thing to perhaps eclispe Frank Lampard’s first game in charge of Everton at the weekend may have just happened. One thing’s for sure, the return to training could be fun today.

Now, time to go to the back of the wardrobe and dig out those 96-98 shirts….

Time to get these out once again

Nick Bruzon

Are we quite done now?

30 Jan

A week where the phrase ‘blown out of all proportion’ has been front and centre finally comes to an end for Brentford. Thomas Frank has been fined £8000 for his full time contretemps with ‘referee’ Peter Bankes after the game against Wolves. There has been a suggestion that his choice of language to earn that second yellow card may have been a tad stronger than the initial update given by our head coach that, “I turned around and said to Peter, You can just give me another one, because I was very irritated”. An explanation that may well rival that of Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons when he invited Eric Cantona to “Go on number seven. Take an early shower”. An offer that promptly earned the big mouthed liar that infamous karate kick from the Manchester United legend. 

Likewise, Ivan Toney has now issued the obligatory message to supporters after being on the wrong end of the biggest stitch up since the Great British Sewing Bee whilst on a well earned break in Dubai. The almost universal reaction amongst Brentford fans all Saturday to the video thing was that nobody gave a damn about a clip that was so out of context as to be almost irrelevant. Only the social media pile on and usual click bait mongers making something out of nothing.  So both Thomas and Ivan have now performed their Little Britain style acts of contrition,  apologised and, all being well, we can now move on.

After which, I accidentally said…..

All of which has distracted from Dominic Thompson going out on loan to Ipswich Town and Mads Bidstrup completing a similar move to Nordsjælland. The meltdown from certain quarters around both of these moves has been as hilarious as it has been predictable. No cover at left back. Phil Giles hasn’t got a clue. Why get rid of Mads? Transfer strategy, of course, being something determined in public by social media and, in part, why Rasmus Ankersen has moved on to Southampton. His role now redundant.

To be fair, the wing back situation is an area of focus and has been all season. Sergi isn’t the permanent solution (in that position) but for all those wailing and gnashing teeth about Thompson being farmed out, let’s not forget that he was as awful against Brighton as he was awesome against Manchester City. I saw one voice of opinion slating the move in one breath and in the next saying he was League One at best. Go figure? Debate is a wonderful thing and certainly keeps us all hooked. It’s not an ideal situation by any stretch and feels like we are gambling on both percentages and Rico’s health. I suspect that unless we have any 11th hour, under the radar moves occurring then this is the path down which we now walk. 

Equally, let’s not forget either that room needs to be made in the squad. Something has to give when Josh Dasilva is ready and Christian Eriksen comes in. There’s talk also of Tariqe Fosu and Charlie Goode both heading out on loan, too. With the transfer window due to make its semi-annual slam shut on Monday at 11pm, the time for any permanent moves is fast running out. To be honest, I don’t think we’ll see any either. Brennan Johnson from Nottingham Forest is as dead as a parrot whilst the noises around Hull City’s Keane Lewis-Potter have now turned into barely audible whispers. We’ve more chance of signing Harry Potter than Keane. 

Brentford’s own Harry Potter

But the imminent returns of David Raya and Josh will, in themselves, feel like brand new signings. Oh how they’ve been missed. David in particular. Chuck Christian Eriksen into the mix and it could be a very different looking Brentford team when Crystal Palace come to visit in mid-February. An incredible looking Brentford team.

The reports coming out of Ajax where Eriksen has been training are certainly sounding like Boy’s Own stuff. The story still sounds just about the most incredible thing ever – moreso if you rewind six months – yet still it seems that we are all systems go with the formal announcement expected early next week. Wow. Just wow!

Wow. Just wow

The other news that has largely passed by this week (these pages at least) has been the announcement of Bryan Mbeumo joining Christian Norgaard and Pontus Jansson in signing contract extensions. Along with Rico, Ivan and Christian, Bryan has been amongst our very best players this season. He’s at the business end of our regular player review (which you can check out here – the fall out from the crazy, crazy fame with Wolves ) and has been wowing the crowds as much as he did when first bursting onto the scene at Griffin Park.

As ever, Brentford looking to continue the strategy of tying down our hottest talent to long term contracts. It is a shrewd move for both parties and one can only presume he’ll push on to bigger and better things with the Bees. Hey, the BBC might even pronounce Mbeumo correctly by the time we play Man City or Palace.

Flying Bryan burst on to the scene in some style

So let’s close up here. As ever, we could ramble on for hours but with a trip to the gym imminent (the paunch isn’t going to fix itself) and the laptop fast running out of charge, its seems an appropriate place to finish. The coming week looks to be about as exciting as they come if, for no other reason, we get the chance to do our talking on the pitch once more. 

Everton in the FA Cup on Saturday. See you there.

Our reader is saved by the battery

Nick Bruzon

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

29 Jan

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

Did he really say it? Well yes, but….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ivan under the microscope – nobody gives a flying monkey

Nick Bruzon

Are we really looking to press the button? Or choose a pen?

24 Jan

And let’s all relax. Winter break is upon us. We’ve no football for a fortnight. A time for Brentford to take stock, complete any transfer business before the window shuts (come on already Christian Eriksen) and then we’re back to it. The FA Cup tie with Everton followed by the trip to Manchester City in the league, a visit from Crystal Palace and then off to the Highbury library for Arsenal. Nobody said it was easy, that’s for sure. Yet off the back of several defeats (a sequence that includes losses to Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and a very strong Wolves team in the last thirty days) I’ve started to see mutterings of panic on these pages – in the comments – and also social media. Quelle surprise…. Here’s the question though. Is it time to press the big, red panic button?

Fingers at the ready

Cripes, one commentator even posted he would expect us to beat ‘teams like’ Brighton and Southampton. Teams like. Teams.. Like….…. Insert Picard emoji. The simple fact of the matter is that there are no easy games at this level. The standard of goalkeeping we have come up against is like nothing we’ve seen before. Mendy and De Gea in particular but they are not alone in the elite ‘keepers club. Whereas in the Championship we got a dozen chances per game and generally scored two or three of these, we’ve stepped up the ladder and how.

There have been some wonderful performances and we’re fourteenth everyone. Fourteenth. Out of twenty. Look at the precarious state Burnley are in if you want panic. The slide that Everton are on. Managerial sackings and more shots on target against Aston Villa from the crowd than the first team. Kids, don’t throw things.

There have also been some shockers. Burnley, Southampton and Brighton away in particular. You can’t be ‘any good’ every game and it’s true that when we’ve been off the pace we’ve been awful. There’s the 100% attention that is needed every game and at times we’ve been off it. Yet still with a team that is, mostly, made up of Championship players. Kris Ajer being the only new signing to regularly feature in the starting XI. A team that is missing one of the best goalkeepers in the division and whom we have really struggled to replace. The importance of David Raya cannot be underestimated. The confidence he exudes. The shot stopping ability. The distribution.

David Raya has been missed

Failing to replace / cover at full back has been the other, obvious, key difference. We love Sergi Canos but so much better to play him higher up. We can’t when Rico is out. The goals scored by Wolves all emanating down that side of the pitch. Mads Roerslev has impressed but his is only a recent emergence. Oh to have persuaded Henrik to stick around for one more campaign.

We’ve been decimated by covid and injury. We’re also missing Josh Dasilva. If he returns next month and Christian Eriksen joins us too, suddenly the central midfield options look magnificent. We’ve two and a half weeks until the next Premier league fixture. Plenty of time to regroup and recharge. Transfer business, if any, will be minimal.

Ultimately, we’ve had a wobbly run. No question. We’ve looked patchy at times. No question. We’re still playing a more all-round team set up rather than channelling everything through Ivan Toney. The yards he is covering from box to box are immense. Equally the performances of Bryan, Rico and Christian Norgaard have been magnificent. They’ve made the step up look oh so simple. David Raya, too, until that injury against Leicester City.

We’re not far off getting back to our best. The difference is marginal but that small gap does feel like a gulping chasm at times. Looking back to February 2021, I remember the meltdown after we’d lost against Coventry City up at St. Andrews. It was as poor a performance as we’d seen all season. We’d played three games more than Swansea City who were tucked right up behind us in third place. The wailing and gnashing of teeth, especially form a certain clique, was up there with the most ridiculous things we’d ever seen. Cripes, imagine if Twitter had been around in the Rosenior / Butcher eras.  The Swans responded just a few hours later by getting thumped by Huddersfield and going on an equally poor run themselves. Parity restored and the reminder delivered that a season is determined by results over 46 (now 38) games. Not from a snapshot in time when spirits are, understandably, low.

That’s the same now. We aren’t at Coventry levels but the mutterings are definitely creeping in. Genuinely, I’m so unphased and laid back as to be almost horizontal. I’m loving Premier League life and want this to continue as long as is possible. The return of Raya and Dasilva will be huge. Christian Eriksen putting pen to paper next level craziness. Perhaps some cover at full-back would calm a few frayed nerves. It might also give us the option to revert to a more traditional back four and strengthen higher up the pitch. Beyond this, I’d be amazed if there’s any further activity before that window ‘slams shut’ ™.

Wolves were so strong on Saturday. They’re also eighth for a reason. Please do take a look at the player review, which you can find here / below. If nothing else, it tries to take a more considered view over the course of the campaign as to where those strengths lie.

Until then, time for some calm. Time to reflect on just what we’ve already achieved this campaign. Time to look forward to those games at Arsenal and Manchester City. Tickets for the former going on sale today.

Enjoy. See you there. Until then. Perhaps a few days off. At least, until Christian Eriksen signs. Whichever pen he uses….. 😉

photoshop skills don’t match imagination

Nick Bruzon

Left or right? Who were the top performers?

23 Jan

Brentford 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2. For some fans, doom and gloom about a recent run that has seen us lose to Manchester United, Liverpool, Southampton (move along, absolutely nothing to see here) and now eighth placed Wolves. Chuck in Manchester City just prior along with a whole host of injuries and its no surprise that the points total has been slimmer than the Peter Bankes guide to competent refereeing. As ever though, we need context. As ever after a Brentford game, we have choice….

Or should that be, choices? Two infact. Will you go left for ‘the other stuff’ from the Wolves game? The Drone. The parachute. The ‘referee’. A man who Jim Levack would this afternoon put on a pedestal alongside Ray Biggar… Ah, who could forget Notts County? ‘That’ game.

Or will you turn right for the deeper dive into how the team fared (along with a bit more of the off-field nonsense)? The regular post-match search for our top five performers. The search for our season long star man. The quest to see who should keep their place for Everton and Manchester City? The genuine consideration as to whether Peter Gilham should have been included.

Well, the choice is yours….. (but go right, below).

Nick Bruzon

Jurassic Park !!! Crazy costume heralds ‘keeper return.

11 Jan

Game on. Brentford travel to Southampton this evening. Victory, should it be earned, will take us into the top ten. Any other result is not even an option being considered by yours truly. Optimism is high following a strong start to the year and some wonderful news off the training ground. We’ve got Liverpool (a) and Manchester United (h) to come after this one and an FA Cup fourth round tie at Everton. Immediately followed by the trip to Manchester City in the league. If Thomas Frank’s team ever wanted to be tested at the highest level then the opportunity is very much here in the next few weeks. First up though, the injury update.

Ordinarily we’d start with some reference to the Southampton game. Rightly so. It is the immediate focus but the news out of Brentford ‘official’ yesterday was jaw droppingly good. Not to mention laced with the simple question…. “Why?”

If ever some ‘Monday motivation’ (urghh – see also humpday Wednesday and Gameday Saturday) were needed then here it was by the bucketload. David Raya back in training. Or, rather, David Raya back in training but rocking up at Jersey Road in a T-Rex costume. Repeat, a T-Rex costume. To clarify, a dinosaur rather than a Mark Bolan corkscrew perm and dapper threads combo.

Jurassic Park !!!

Back on the grass? Or just the painkillers taking hold to inspire a remarkable return? If the smiles were broad at Jersey Road they were even bigger in cyberspace. The Brentford family as exited on Twitter about the next step in his return as his choice of unexpected training gear. It was one of those,  “What the actual…?” moments. One best just enjoyed. As much for his entrance as the sight of our number one looking as solid as one could hope in a shot stopping drill for the cameras.

Brentford official captured it in full. David’s idea, apparently. No idea why but you can’t deny its impressive. Not to mention making me wonder whether there is somebody else inside Buzzette at present if this is what he does as part of that journey back to full fitness?

Whilst a return to playing may be some way off still, just to see David doing his thing was a phenomenal boost. Kris Ajer’s return against Port Vale in the FA cup at the weekend had already given Bees’ fans a lift and then there was this. Yet just when things couldn’t get any better, they did. Thomas Frank using his press conference for the Southampton game to talk about Josh Dasilva. We’d all seen those pictures of him back in training last week but the news on a potential return was about as good as it gets for a player who has missed the entire Premier League campaign.

“I said to Josh the other day that he could be our best signing this year. I really hope he comes back in a fantastic place. Hopefully, five or six weeks if everything goes to plan and he could potentially be available”. That’s no time at all.

Granted, there was an understandable air of caution in the proviso that, “We need to build him very carefully and strong. He needs to have a proper pre-season to load him well. We can’t get too over-excited but everything has been fine so far. The medical staff have been fantastic and done a top job”. However, this suddenly feels close. Very close.

Josh was absolutely immense in the Championship and has already gone on to represent England U-21. With him and David back out there and Kris already in the team, it feels like we’ve had a transfer window hat trick without signing anyone. Just phenomenal news. Let’s not forget either that Josh is only 23. Whilst this absence has felt like an eternity, time is very much on his side when it comes it the future. Here’s to it being with Brentford.

Exciting news from the training ground

As for tonight, Southampton are no push-overs, that’s for sure. The challenge will be as tough as the aforementioned games with Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City. If not harder, given nobody outside of TW8 expects us to do anything against the teams from the North-West. Yet tonight, we are ahead of our hosts in the Premier League and are back to winning ways following the thing at Brighton. The comeback against Aston Villa was inspirational, with the pressure being cranked up to the nth degree until victory eventually came (even if the ultimate talking point remains Trezeguet’s theatrics at the death…).

So yes, we may be back in the zone but that still needs to come with the ultimate respect for who we are up against. Thomas would talk about their pressing and their drive.  “They go very front-footed and are at some stages the best high-pressing, energy team in the league. Then they have some key players; James Ward-Prowse is maybe the best set-piece taker in the league”.

He knows it. We know it. Sadly, there isn’t even time to parachute Ward-Prowse into my Fantasy Football team. A curse which worked so well against Aston Villa with the no-show from Ollie Watkins and two goals conceded by Ezri Konsa. Perhaps just an ‘any time’ goal scorer bet. Whilst it may mean missing out on a whopping £2.30, it could be the best pound invested given my own ongoing ineptitude when it comes to predicting football or winning bets.

Forget Wissa’s rocket – the Villa win was as much down to my own team selection

Still, whatever nonsense takes place in the build up, it all comes down to who Thomas starts and how they go? Can Kris Ajer force his way into the back three or will an appearance from the bench be part of his own, well planned return? Sergi Canos and Matthias Jensen are both available once more although I’d be amazed if Mads Roerslev misses out on the right. So it turns out to be a three-way fight between Dominic Thompson, Sergi or perhaps even the wildcard option of Saman Ghoddos on the left. Rico Henry is expected to be back for the weekend trip to Liverpool. With respect to the other three, the second he is fit then he will unquestionably go straight back in to the team.

As for the middle of the park, it has to be Janelt, Baptiste and Norgaard. Only injury to one of those will see Matthias Jensen force his way into the starting XI. They’re simply that good at present. Up top, Bryan alongside Ivan writes itself after the weekend. Albeit, we don’t know how much strength is in the legs after that short-term lay off. Roll on 6.46 when ‘official’ announce the team news.

Finally, just a thought about those who can’t make it at present. And no, this is not a reference to the ‘plastic’ fans who weren’t at Port Vale. Seriously? Personally speaking, I had a great time drinking a glass of wine on the couch with Mrs. B in front of the tv on Saturday. Sometimes, things have to give for any number of reasons – financial or otherwise.

Something which has come to a head for some of our own friends who sit alongside us in the North stand. If they are somehow reading (stranger things and all that) then know your presence has been sorely missed. Whilst we hope you are back soon, just look after yourselves and know that all in our group are thinking of you. Some of us miss games through choice. Others have less control over matters. It doesn’t make you any ‘less’ of a fan. Genuinely, I’d love a 100% attendance record but that’s just not always possible. At least I get a choice though. Take care and see you soon x

Until then, its on to Southampton. Safe travels to all that can make this one. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Time for another road trip (or three). League and cup action await.

10 Jan

Brentford will travel to Everton in the fourth round of the FA Cup – ties to be played the weekend of 5th February. Along with Spurs v Brighton and Wolves v Norwich, it is one of only three all Premier League ties. Meaning there’s a good chance of the BBC going for TV coverage along with the inevitable bore fest that will be Manchester United v Middlesbrough. Unless, of course, Aston Villa can spare us all from that one tonight when they travel to Old Trafford for the final game of the round. Manchester City have the chance to warm up for our visit the following week with a home draw against EFL club Fulham whilst next on our tour of the Premier League, Southampton, are home to Coventry City.

There was immediate, perhaps bizarre, excitement in our house when Everton came out of the hat. Aside from our own recent 1-0 win and an earlier than expected chance to visit a new ground, if Brentford show half the oomph we did against Port Vale then it could be a classic. A 4-1 win on the road with Mads Bidstrup subsequently described by Thomas Frank as a little bit of our N’Golo Kanté  ( “A big, big claim of course” – Thomas’ own words ). Talking about his “Big engine”, he used the post-match to lavish praise on the midfielder, enthusing that “his ability to press and cover so many yards across the pitch is fantastic and that acceleration when he just goes past people, I think that’s so good in the pressure.”

Mads’ reward is another ‘away’ tie.

Then, of course, we’ve the prospect of another run in with everyone’s favourite Brazilian.  Pele, Socrates, Zico, Ronaldinho…. Allan. As has already been documented on these pages, the midfielder has become a cult hero to rival Argentina’s Lucas Biglia in our house. Any chance of some bonus Allan action is one which we’ll always opt for. Especially if Everton continue to, what’s the polite term, ‘misfire’ as much as they have done in recent months. League form is best described as patchy, with only Leeds United and Watford standing between them and the bottom three.

Meaning that the purse strings could be severely tested, given the trip to Manchester City in the Premier League is just a few days later. A 7.45pm kick off on Wednesday 9th February. Tickets for that one go on sale this Tuesday afternoon for anyone clearing that first TAP threshold of 3,400.  Away capacity for League games at The Ethiad is reckoned to be about 3,000 across the three tiers of the South Stand, so hopefully anyone with requisite form will be able to get in should they so desire. Definitely one where we’ll need to flex the plastic to cover costs.

Before all that we head to Southampton on Tuesday evening. They had the pleasure of a ‘behind closed doors’ tie in Swansea at the weekend (its Wales, innit). That one went to extra time before the Saints went, if not marching, certainly limping on.

Ralph Hasenhüttl telling Sky that his much changed team may not have enough players for tomorrow’s game, saying, ”We never know. At the moment, it’s all about lottery… You wake up in the morning and go to the training ground. You sit at breakfast and you are waiting for new [coronavirus] cases. The problem is with the fixtures coming up. It doesn’t get any easier.”

So far (Monday morning) there aren’t any noises being made about applications to have the game called off or training grounds being closed. Fingers crossed this is nothing more than sabre rattling and mind games. As much for the players’ health as the additional chaos caused by any more backlog. Let’s not forget that this fixture has already been put back once.

For Brentford, expect to see more of Bryan Mbeumo. He was back to his brilliant best, with Thomas waxing lyrical about his half hour appearance form the bench. Less the proverbial cameo and more scene stealing. Our head coach nothing that “I must say he’s been the same for us this year in the Premier League. He’s done really well after coming back from injury. We knew he wanted to play in the Cup to be in with a chance of being ready for Tuesday at Southampton and he’s just come in with three quality finishes”.

Too true, and surely he’ll find his way back in to the Brentford front line alongside Ivan when the teams are named at 6.46 on Tuesday evening.

In the meantime, you can read that piece in full, here. Come for Mads. Stay for Bryan.

For now, though, it’s a chance to charge the battery packs and prepare for the trip to Southampton. Don’t forget those Manchester City tickets tomorrow and, whilst we wait to find out when that Everton game will actually take place (Liverpool are also at home so something will have to give) here’s the rest of the draw in full….

Safe travels to the South coast and see you there…

Fourth round ties…

Crystal Palace v Hartlepool United

Bournemouth v Boreham Wood

Huddersfield Town v Barnsley

Peterborough United v Queens Park Rangers

Cambridge United v Luton Town

Southampton v Coventry City

Chelsea v Plymouth Argyle

Everton v Brentford

Kidderminster Harriers v West Ham United

Manchester United/Aston Villa v Middlesbrough

Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton and Hove Albion

Liverpool v Cardiff City

Stoke City v Wigan Athletic

Nottingham Forest v Leicester City

Manchester City v Fulham

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Norwich City

Allan awaits

Nick Bruzon

Can we pick up the baton and run after last time?

2 Jan

Here we go again. The first fixture of 2022 is upon us with Brentford hosting Aston Villa at Lionel Road on (checks calendar) Sunday afternoon. 2pm is the kick off time for a game going out live on Sky Sports Premier League. For the Bees, yesterday’s positive news (predominantly around Kris Ajer and Vitaly Janelt) was given a further boost by the man very much one of our top( top) performers this season, Christian Nørgaard. There was wonderful news out of ‘official’ surrounding his new deal but the ultimate question to be asked is whether we can harness the positivity from last week’s narrow defeat to Manchester City to get back to winning ways? 

Fantastic news, yesterday

The pundits would seem to be looking towards Aston Villa as the winners of this one. As are the bookies, who have Brentford priced at 2/1 to win. Fair enough. The form under new manager Steven Gerrard being seen as key. Likewise, the covid related break they’ve had. However, with captain Tyrone Mings absent as a result of a fifth yellow card could we have an added glimmer of hope? Might Ollie Watkins have an off day? What of, with apologies for going all FLW / Chronicle, much touted ‘starlet’ Jacob Ramsey? Indeed, at what point does the cut off between starlet and fully fledged stellar  / ‘out of this world’ performer occur? 

Frankly, who cares. This is all about us. This is all about how Brentford pick up the baton from our performance against Manchester City and run with it. I can only imagine we’ll have Christian Nørgaard back in the team, despite the heroics of those selected last time out. It’ll be harsh but why leave your best players on the bench if they are available? 

If nothing else, the announcement made yesterday regarding his contract extension will only serve to put an additional spring in the step of both the midfielder and the fans. It was confirmed yesterday that he has extended his time at Lionel Road until the end of the 2024/25 season, with the three and a half year deal having the option for a further year’s extension. Only somebody who had been living under a/the rock would fail to appreciate the significance of this. It’s just huge for Brentford.

Thomas Frank was effusive in his praise, telling ‘official’ that, “Christian shows great leadership qualities in training every day and he helps build our culture. That is very important to us. He has an unbelievably important role in this team, and it is great that he will be part of our future.

For me, Clive, it is magnificent news. Christian is going neck and neck with Ivan and Rico in the race to find our top performer over the season (you can read the latest instalment of that one – the post Manchester City piece – here). Anything that ties him to our future and our club can only be a good thing. Happy days indeed.

As for the game, well victory would see us overtake Aston Villa and up as far as  11th placed Crystal Palace. With the groundswell of Covid related cancellations still causing mayhem, getting a proper read on the table is till a bit tricky. Palace have played two more than us, table toppers Manchester City three more whilst Burnley in 18th have gone two less. All we can do is focus on the task in hand and remember that s Eason is 46 38 games long. The only position that matters is the one occupied after that final fixture has played out. Albeit, let’s not pretend that topping the Premier League after beating Arsenal wasn’t the most amazing / hilarious thing going. Sergi Canos and, of course, Christian helping make that possible.

For what its worth, I’m going for a Brentford win today. With goals in it. 3-2 for the record. Confidence in our boys combined with the attempt at jinxing Ollie through the medium of Fantasy Football (see yesterday) will hopefully suffice. Not to mention the small matter of Thomas’ tactics and a strange omen (which I’ll elaborate on tomorrow should it somehow come off). A wonderful opportunity awaits this afternoon and I cannot wait to see how it plays out. Even just the slightly novel concept of getting back in to regular football is a nice one. Long may that continue.

On a side note, don’t forget to pick up the matchday programme. I would’t normally plug this (as much due to my own four pages of nonsense – albeit hoping the Villa kit pics have come out well). However, the prospect of Greville Waterman effusing over Ollie Watkins and a catch up with Kevin O’Connor are never to be missed. Hey, if nothing else there’s that wonderful cover art from the amazing Dave Flanagan. Somebody I am led to believe is a goat. Whatever that means. Keep those cultural references coming.

That’s it. See you there. Here’s to 2pm……

Nick Bruzon