Tag Archives: Manchester United

Grandad’s on tour. A European tour….?

8 Apr

Brentford host Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon with the sole aim of getting back to winning ways after the midweek reverse at Manchester United. A cautious opening at Old Trafford saw The Bees on the back foot and, despite our cranking things somewhat with a procession of second-half substitutes, there way no way through. Anybody wanting the deeper dive on that one (and, if nothing else, the race to find our season long ’top five’ is becoming tighter than ever) can do so here.

Supporters at Old Trafford, midweek

So, to today’s business. The game at Manchester United has been and gone. There’s no further dwelling on it. Instead, Newcastle United present the next barrier to Brentford and possible European qualification. The Champions’ League is now 10 points away and whilst I’m very much the glass half-full type, short term focus rather than longer term dreaming is probably the way to go. Focus on the task immediately at hand and let the points do their own thing.

It’s going to be a fascinating battle, that’s for sure. Newcastle are even higher up the table than Brentford and after four wins on the bounce will be looking to nail down a top three place. The’ve only conceded 20 goals all campaign whilst at the other end who could forget how they stuck five past us in the earlier season reverse at St. James’ Park?

£63m striker Aleksander Isak is on fire. Leading the line in a team Thomas Frank described in the build up as “Energetic, pressing, physical and dynamic.” Who said money can’t buy you happiness?  Regular readers can, at least, take comfort in the fact that yours truly – the Jonah of Fantasy Football – has picked him in my online team. 

Ivan and Bryan leading the charge against the divisions’ stingiest defence. Their challenge to find a way though what Thomas called. “A very well drilled and well picked back five,“ adding that “It looks like they’ve played together forever; they are always in the right positions and they are very good in the duels”.

All true, of course. A record that speaks for itself. Yet, at the same time, what a line up to prove yourself against. What a personal challenge for Ivan Toney who, if nothing else, once got five minutes of Premier League action for Newcastle United back in 2015 after coming on for Aleksander Mitrovic against Chelsea. What price would he worth to them now? Toney, not Mitrovic. The Serbian, of course, currently serving an 8 match ban.

Still, Ivan’s not for sale. Nor is David Raya (although picking up the signing pen wouldn’t go amiss, one can dream…..). If Newcastle’s defence is stingy then ours isn’t too shabby. Only 7(seven) clubs have conceded less this season and if it hadn’t been for the aforementioned reverse fixture, that record would be even better. Wednesday night’s reverse was only our second in 17 games. Ethan Pinnock and Ben Mee have been as colossal a centre back pairing as we have ever had the luxury of enjoying. Captain Pontus Jansson now fit again and returning alongside them to a 3 man defence accompanied by the flying wing backs.

Will there be changes in midfield? Vitaly Janelt is reportedly in contention although whether he will have to make do with a place on the bench remains to be seen. The only thing we can say for sure is that this game is about as big is it comes for both sides at this point in the season. With places in Europe up for grabs and a Premier League table that is as fluid as any I can recall in living memory, every point counts. Every win something to be appreciated for all its worth. 

Looking a bit further afield, in the Championship it was a very Good Friday from some respects. The Loftus Road mob lost, again, and are falling apart in a style that makes Leeds United look like amateurs. From looking like they were on track for the Premier League back in October, now they are one place and one point above the relegation trapdoor. The prospect of all four West London clubs playing top flight football seems as far apart as ever. 

Whilst we wouldn’t normally look at the Championship in these pages, there was other significant news on Friday. Namely, Burnley making an immediate return to the Premier League. Congratulations, of course, are the first order of the day. If to nobody else, then their own commentary team after that quite wonderful meltdown in our first top flight campaign. Here’s to more of the same next season.

Finally, if anybody is in The Griffin prior to kick off then please come along and say hello to Grandad, who will be coming to his first Premier league football match. He’s recovering from major surgery after takin a recent fall but the glue is holding well. 

Grandad, for those who listen to Absolute Radio, not being a flesh and blood relative but, rather, the official mascot of Bush and Richie on their Hometime Show. For reasons too convoluted to share in one paragraph, he’s now in our care for the Bank Holiday weekend and being photographed in all the best places, and with the best people, that West London has to offer.

Until then, here’s to kick off. This game’s going to be huge and I can’t wait. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Advertisement

Manchester United v Brentford. Post match debrief and player ratings

6 Apr

Manchester United 1 Brentford 0.  The Bees head home from Old Trafford after experiencing what was only a 2nd defeat in 17 Premier League games.  Wednesday night’s battle for a Champions League going the way of the home side. With Newcastle United smashing West Ham 5-1, Saturday’s showdown between The Bees and Magpies at the Gtech promises to be epic.

Bees fans before kick off. Does Rico make our top five?

Whilst the weekend promises much, for now time to reflect on how Brentford fared on the road. As ever at this juncture, we look back at who shone for the Bees.  Who created problems for Manchester United and who is leading the top five in our season long quest find an overall star player (aswell, of course, as the game by game marks)? Will any of the subs have played themselves into contention for a starting berth when we kick off against Newcastle at the weekend? 

And as ever at this juncture, you can find the answers here in the post match debrief and player ratings feature.

Is this our biggest week ever?

4 Apr

We’ve had a solid decade of huge game following huge game yet for Brentford this really is about as big as it gets. Wednesday night sees the Premier League trip to Old Trafford where Manchester United will be a very different prospect from the side that were 4-0 down at half time when we met at the Gtech earlier in the campaign. Then there’s the visit from Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon. Like The Red Devils, a team looking for a place in next season’s Champions League. Or, should that be, like The Red Devils, Brighton and even, perhaps, The Bees? Don’t @me – the table doesn’t lie.

Put simply, with ten games to go we’re just 7(seven) points behind third placed Newcastle. Manchester United in fourth, the same. Victory in both / either fixture and it really would be dreamland for Brentford (as Tony Gubba once said). But for the last minute penalty equaliser scored by Brighton on Saturday that gap would have been even smaller (and you can catch the post match debrief and top five player ratings from that game, here).

It’s a nothing to lose and everything to gain opportunity for Brentford. We’re already safe from relegation (every club’s primary objective when the season begins). Beating last season’s 13th place would seem odds on (we’re 15 points clear of Wolves in that berth). Closer to home, Chelsea and Fulham both trail us in the battle to become West London’s best placed club. As do the Loftus Road outfit but with League One currently beckoning for (checks for this week’s manager) Gareth Ainsworth’s team, their participation in this is a theoretical one rather than anything more viable.  

As it stands

For all the time I’ve been writing these columns, people have laughed. At, rather than with me. Backing the manager. Backing Mathias Jensen. Backing Sergi Canos. Backing Brentford when we sat in front of Swansea City in the Championship table even though they had three games in hand and there was only a hair’s breadth between us. Hey, we were second everyone. And they didn’t overtake us .

That’s all fine, too. Football is a game of opinion. Of personal choice. Of how much faith you are prepared to invest in your team. Without any of this it would certainly be a much duller place. So feel free to laugh it up once more but, genuinely, I’m backing us for that top four placing. It’ll be a huge ask, no question, but there’s literally no pressure on us. 

On Wednesday evening we’ve got the chance to do a Premier League double over Manchester United . Not a typo. That game back in August was simply incredible. Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest hissy fit (at 2-0 down) saw a powerhouse performance from Brentford tear the visitors apart. Erik ten Hag given the rudest of rude awakenings for the challenge that lay ahead.

Brentford were amazing that afternoon with the Jensen-Toney-Mbeumo goal one of the greatest moves we’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing unfold. Christian Eriksen left in no uncertain terms by feelings of the home fans about his choice of club over the summer.

That was then and this is now. I’m not so naive enough to think we’ll get anywhere near to the same margin of scoreline. If anything, a resurgent Manchester United will be the ones looking for a 4-0 victory. They are a different beast now – as much since shedding the Portuguese show pony – and have even won a trophy (not a typo). 

Not doubt Sunday’s reverse in Newcastle will be one they are looking to put behind them, fast. Whilst the 22 point gap to league leaders Arsenal will be too much to overcome, their own priority will absolutely be on securing that all important top four finish. Consecutive defeats will be the last thing on the agenda and so the pressure is all theirs ; not ours. 

Yet underestimate Brentford at your peril. For all we’re still the bus stop, even Micah Richards popped up on the weekend’s Match of the Day to admit he’d got it wrong about us. This, following the Brighton highlights.

This season we’ve already beaten United, Liverpool and won up at The Ethiad in that 19/1 defeat of Manchester City.  The bet placed on that one (purely for research purposes) coming in very handy. We drew at Arsenal in a game where, but for the vagaries of officaldom, Bryan Mbeumo’s early goal would have stood and then who knows what would have played out. Then, of course, its just a year ago since we blew Chelsea away 4-1 at Stamford Bridge.

The point being that with Brentford, anything is possible. Manchester United will undoubtedly be favourites on Wednesday evening. We rarely are when it comes to the big four or Liverpool. Yet time and again we’ve upset the odds. Beaten the bookies. Taken the most unexpected of points. Unexpected that is, outside of TW8.

Draw from that what you will

Whatever happens tonight when Brighton play one of their million games in hand at Bournemouth, this is all about what we can do at Old Trafford. It is , of course, a sell out and Brentford fans will be hoping we can go one better than last season. Then, for all the occasion we very much under performed. A bright start saw us eventually ground down and blown away. Fair play to the hosts. They did what they had to and got the result.

This time around we’re a different beast. The novelty factor of Old Trafford has long gone and now it is very much another BAU date in the calendar rather than a ‘new ground’ experience. The bookmakers, understandably, have United as odds on to win but in a season that has seen all manner of unexpected results, could this be another on the list?

Roll on Wednesday evening when we find out. I can’t wait for this one – see you there.

Nick Bruzon

Brighton v Brentford. Post match debrief and player ratings.

3 Apr

Brighton 3 Brentford 3. The Bees head up to Old Trafford and Wednesday night’s battle for a Champions League place with Manchester United off the back of another game unbeaten. That’s just once in the Premier League since late October following a draw at the Amex that, being honest, had us defending for our lives at times – such was the attacking intent of our hosts. 

Who was star player at Brighton?

Whilst Wednesday promises much, for now time to reflect on how Brentford fared at Brighton. As ever at this juncture, we look back at who shone for the Bees.  Who created problems for the Seagulls and who is leading the top five in our season long quest find an overall star player (aswell, of course, as the game by game marks)? Will any of the subs have played themselves into contention for a starting berth when we kick off against Manchester United? Likewise, how did Brentford ‘official’ get it so wrong in their own selection?

And as ever at this juncture, you can find the answers here in the post match debrief and player ratings feature…

What comes next after the ugly Mitrovic affair?

21 Mar

Well that was quite the weekend. As Ivan Toney warmed up for England duty by helping Brentford move another point closer to Europe and further clear in the race to be crowned the best placed football club in West London (don’t @me Chelsea and Fulham fans,the table doesn’t lie), up at Manchester United things took a surreal turn that promises to have huge repercussions.

We have, of course, all now seen the triple red carding awarded to Fulham in their FA cup defeat. Surely? The major talking point of which was Aleksandar Mitrovic sent off and shoving referee Chris Kavanagh. This, after getting himself involved in the incident that had already seen Willian dismissed for his handball on the line. Manchester United going on to win the game has probably been the least talked about moment ever since.

Jaw dropping scenes at Old Trafford

Mitrovic has now been formally charged. Whilst violent conduct would normally warrant a three game sentence, the FA have already set their stall out by saying, “The standard punishment which would otherwise apply to Aleksandar Mitrovic for the sending-off offence of violent conduct that he committed towards the match referee is clearly insufficient.In addition, Aleksandar Mitrovic’s behaviour and/or language was allegedly improper and/or abusive and/or insulting and/or threatening following his dismissal.”

Chris Sutton has called for a ten game ban. Others are looking for longer, citing the Paulo Di Canio red card in which referee Paul Alcock was given a shove and then stumbled backwards, falling to the ground. 

The player was suspended for elven matches after that incident, which saw him leave the field of play immediately after.

Whether Alcock’s fall was exaggerated is by the by. Raising hands to an official is a footballing taboo up there with launching a kung-fu style kick on a spectator. Whatever the provocation, you just don’t do it.

Look at Mitrovic sequence now. And I have, many times already. 

He got himself unnecessarily involved.

Pushed the referee. 

Squared up to the referee, right in his face. Had Mr Kavanagh not stepped backwards it looked as though we were approaching headbutt territory. 

Mitrovic mouths off at  the referee. 

Waves his finger at the referee in a style much akin to a teacher telling off a naughty pupil. 

Mitrovic walks away then goes charging back for a second go at the referee.

 Mitrovic has to twice be pulled and pushed away by his own team mates. Physically restrained from approaching the official.

What a terrible example to any children who may have been watching. 

Surely, now, the book will be rewritten and then thrown hard in his direction? Metaphorically speaking, of course.

For all the gobbing off Brentford fans have had to endure in recent week about Ivan Toney, all of a sudden its gone very quiet over at The Cottage. There can be no defence of what was the most heinous of onfield acts. Supporter Richard Osman’s assertion that a ten game ban would be unfair, met with not unexpected short thrift.

Make no mistake, this will be talked about for years. Much as the Cantona and Di Canio incidents still are to this day. Moments where players have gone so far beyond the acceptable norm that the FA have had no choice but to take drastic action, regardless of what the provocation may have been.

One can only presume hands will be held up – in acceptance rather than at the referee – as any attempt to deny charges will only be met with further shock. Mitrovic appealing? Not really. 

Even now, I can’t help but rewatch it. Wondering ‘did it really go that far?’ – yes, being the answer. Wondering at what point he thought this was appropriate or likely to make the referral change his mind. Every second longer into the incident, the hole being dug deeper. 

Ugly scenes

In many ways, Brentford fans being able to watch our neighbours in self-destruct mode has been quite the tonic. A wonderful way to end a weekend that saw us sitting three points clear of Fulham and four above Chelsea. And if you want to read more about that, you can do so here in the post match debrief and top five player ratings.

Yet, at the same time, is it right to take pleasure from a display like this towards the referee? To see a player so lose his head that a gargantuan punishment is undoubtedly coming his way.  To see the club also charged with failing to control their players. That’s down to personal opinion – stop sniggering at the back, please.

For now, calm has returned but the FA’s decision as to what happens next will be one the entire footballing community will be hanging on. Too lenient? Too tough? There’s no real idea as to how far they’ll go. Di Canio got the 9 games. Cantona nine months. At amateur level it’s a year.

One things for sure, we’re not going to be seeing Aleksander Mitrovic for a while. 

Nick Bruzon

Fulham game sees the worst ending possible. After full time.

22 Aug

The morning after the weekend before. An intriguing two days of Premier League football where, of course, for Brentford the only result that really counted was the 3-2 reverse at Fulham. A scoreline that does little to tell the story of a game that went back and forth until, eventually, there was 90th minute heartbreak after the Bees had thrown a second-half kitchen sink at our hosts. It was a defeat where any feel good factor from last weekend’s demolition of Manchester United was gone in 44 seconds although one in which, eventually, the result really could have gone either way. Elsewhere, Everton warmed up for Saturday’s trip to Lionel Road with their first point on the board whilst the Priti Patel saga had further ‘light’ shed on it. You’ve been warned so please feel free to leave now if that upsets you.

However, the real subject for discussion this morning has to be the game at Fulham. By all rights, Brentford should have been dead in the water and out of sight within the opening quarter. 2-0 down after Joao Palhinha had doubled their lead with twenty minutes on the clock whilst between their opening pair, Aleksander Mitrovic had also seen one chalked off by VAR. Truly, it was a woeful start from The Bees. Think Southampton away or Everton (FA cup) levels of bad. We would also accept: Burnley (a) or Norwich (h).

Brentford reeling. The team that had blown Manchester United off the park just a week earlier now being outclassed and outpaced. No movement and second to everything. Fans still showing wonderful support but wondering where anything would come from. Fulham one goal away from properly putting it to bed. Except, of course, they didn’t. As we’ve all seen now, The Bees clung on until 44 minutes when Christian Norgaard leathered a corner kick from Mathias Jensen straight past Bernd Leno on the volley. Our first and only real moment of attacking intent leaving the Fulham ‘keeper for dead. 2-1 at half time and, suddenly, the scoreboard offered a glimmer of hope.

It was an opportunity seized with both hands. Ivan Toney a man possessed as he found the back of the net three times. One, fair enough offside. One, on 55 minutes, as close and dubious as they come. It took a good two minutes of VAR deliberation and set squares before his trailing leg was eventually adjudged to be interfering with play. As he turned away from the Fulham goal. They’re the rules but, as we’ve seen so many times, they don’t half kill the game. It was a beautiful finish and deserved more.

Had we equalised then, who knows what might have been? Brentford with their tails up and driving forwards. As it is, things were levelled on 70. Ivan Toney, again. This time the goal allowed to stand – moreso as there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. 2-0 down and looking dead in the water now back to 2-2 and only one team in the driving seat. Fulham woke up. David Raya in nets absolutely wonderful. Save followed save as the game swung back and forth. Toney denied a late penalty after Mr Bankes deemed he’d thrown himself to ground when clean through in the box and bearing down on goal. As he does. Apparently.

A game that swung back and forth

In the end though, it wasn’t to be. Mitrovic doing a Jota. 90 minutes on the clock and he out jumped Bryan Mbeumo (don’t, just don’t) to steer home a ball that could, probably should, have been well cleared prior. Brentford not quite able to see it through. Fulham with all the points. What is their to say?

No complaints from here. We’d shot ourselves in the foot early doors but at least had sufficient about ourselves to launch a quite wonderful fight back. A game is won over 90 minutes, not 20, and whilst we couldn’t quite do the business this time the opening three games have shown there is enough about this team to suggest the season will be an exciting one. 

The player review and deeper dive will are below.

For now, the other takeaways from the game perhaps revealing the real reason for defeat. A pre-match encounter with Harry Potter (Simon, not the boy wizard) brought about this shocking revelation that.. “I’m teetotal today.” 

I’m sorry? What?” Was the reply from TC with genuine incredulity. The human embodiment of Gunnersaurus, Brentford’s own Winston Churchill, universally known in TW8 for his bighearted exuberance and love of all things Brentford. Perhaps those vocal styling were stifled by a dry throat. Who knows?

Brentford’s own Harry Potter

Elsewhere, there was the bizarre sight, or should that be sound, of Freed From Desire being played moments before the teams walked out. Seriously? I mean, not complaining but talk about a way to stoke up the away fans. The only thing missing was a AA with Hey Jude. By all accounts, they’s also played YNWA when Liverpool visited last week. Go figure.

Something which then gave their subsequent post match tweet regarding Ivan Toney an even more bizarre twist.

I’m sorry? What?

Then there was the away end. Appreciate they are still finishing off their new stand on the river side (something that has taken even longer to build than La Sagrada Familia) but having a mixed zone of home and away fans in the bar areas behind the goal felt odd. That’s the polite term. Unsegregated football hasn’t been a thing for decades and whilst we’re all a friendly bunch in the main, it’s an emotional game. A trailblazing step in the right direction or an accident waiting to happen? There was no bother that I saw although I heard differently from others. Their next few home games see visits from Brighton and then Chelsea. Good luck.

For Brentford, Everton are next up. An 88th minute equaliser saw them pick up a first point of the season at home to Nottingham Forest. Only Wolves, Leicester City, West Ham and Manchester Untied below them in the table. It’s not been the best start, with injuries and departure compounding to their woes from last season. On paper, the perfect opposition for Brentford. In practice, they’re already in survival mode. A caged tiger of a team. Backed in to corner and fighting for their lives or, at the least, to prove all the pundits wrong. The awesome power of everyone’s favourite Brazilian, Allan, currently confined to the bench but surely set to be unleashed at Lionel Road.

Pele. Zico. Ronaldo. Socrates. Allan

Ok. Turn away now if you are going to get upset about more Priti Patel. Last time out we asked on these pages what had happened there? Put the questions out there to try and understand why our stadium had been turned into a political arena? Moreso, when the person in question holds views that are so diametrically opposed to those of the club. We eventually got a brief statement saying that she had been invited by the Premier League, journalists had gone off topic and it wasn’t our media team controlling events. It was as neutral an ‘answer’ as would have been expected.  

Bees United were quicker out of the blocks, noting that, amongst other things whilst it hadn’t been us that invited her, the club “Should have anticipated that the media would ask about wider political issues such as government policy towards asylum seekers. Brentford’s stadium thus became the background for political views which are not universally shared by fans”

You can read that one in full, here.

Whatever the explanation. Whatever the outcome. One thing is clear that we all share different views. The vast majority of Brentford fans would seem to be extemely unhappy about what played out. I’m still of the belief that things could have been handled differently. That things should have been handled differently. That’s me.

We’ve not even had a formal piece on the real reason for her visit but, all things considered, that horse has long since bolted and perhaps it is best one we all box off. 

Our club have always been amazingly proud of their values and the amazing work being done on that front. If any positive can be taken out of all this, it is that the reaction of so many supporters shows how much we all share these. That, for me, is the real story to take away from all of this. Now let’s never talk of it again.

Finally, if there was one thing worse than the final score at Fulham it was the disaster that befell yours truly after the game. With the club putting out a tweet before kick off about the wonderful change shirt being worn for this match, the thought process naturally gravitated towards the brown/orange. Which was duly worn. Rightly so, until walking back to the pub it snagged against a bit of metal on the side of a white van. Disaster. Nooooooo. Ruined.

Like punching a hole in the face of the Mona Lisa, a masterpiece has been ruined. Kitman Bob? The club shop? Anyone? Is there a spare out there? Does anyone have one of these Jaffa caked beauties lying around gathering dust? I’ll be at the Everton and would be happy to broker a deal. Probably let’s play safe and say in an XL.

Over to you. Please…

Nick Bruzon

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

19 Aug

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

Fixed it for you, official

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More of this would be amazing

Nick Bruzon. 

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

14 Aug

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

Brilliant Brentford batter United.

14 Aug

Is this what they mean by ‘second season syndrome’? Saturday evening saw Brentford write yet another incredible chapter in a story which continues to leap from the pages of a Hollywood movie script. If last season’s home opener against Arsenal had been a nice kick about with the boys, this was a full on bullying. A 4-0 spanking of Manchester United was a performance to rival the destruction of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season. The Bees utterly dominant and scoring goals for fun. Each attack leading to another one on the board and, in the end, the only disappointment being that we didn’t make it to the 7(seven) goal bracketing of United that seemed more than possible with little more than half an hour played. Frank out !!  

At least in the Chelsea game our hosts had been vaguely involved. On Saturday, Brentford didn’t allow Manchester United the chance to even step foot in the game. The Bees on them from the off. Even the camaraderie seen in our pre kick-off huddle compared to our visitor’s standing around listlessly in their puke green kits telling you all you needed to know about the mental approach. There were points to be both won and proven here. The narrative around Christian Eriksen allegedly ‘saving our season‘ (yawn) being put to bed in a style that even the good people at Dormeo would have appreciated. 

What came next was like nothing seen at Lionel Road. The ferocity of approach up there with the play-off semi. United on the back foot from the off. Brentford hounding their rivals. Running with the ball. Passing it around with aplomb. Mathias Jensen on fire. Christian Eriksen greeted with a cacophony of boos every time he got near the ball. What must he be thinking now? “Left for the money” sung the crowd, amongst other things. He’s walked in to a living nightmare and one which only got worse with every passing minute.  Man U? More like Manure.

Within ten minutes, Brentford were ahead. Josh Dasilva receiving the ball from Jensen, drifting across to a shooting position and lashing it low from well outside the box. David de Gea should have stopped it but instead, all he could do was let it squeeze through him and into the back of the net. It was a good shot and let’s also credit the build up of pressure as a contributory factor. David Raya at the other end seeing his squad position for Spain moving up another notch.  

Credit, too, for the way Jensen took the ball off Roanldo to provide the assist. The tantrum prone stropmeister then left sitting on his haunches for a good 30 seconds after the ball had hit the back of the net. Like Eriksen, all his nightmares coming true. Unlike Eriksen, he had no fight. No stomach for a battle. Instead of getting up to inspire his team his game descended into a series of theatrical dives and hissy fits. One thumping of the pitch in frustration having the entire North stand in fits of laughter. 

An overprivileged show pony who should have been leading by example. Instead, his petulance and ego only contributing to United’s demise.

Get over yourself, Ronaldo

But if Josh had put us into dreamland with that early goal it was nothing compared to what came next. Jensen doubling the lead after de Gea played a woeful pass out of defence to Eriksen ( think Alvaro Fernandez at Anfield levels of bad) who was sold totally up the river. Jensen reacting quickest and cleverest to nick the ball and with a beautiful shimmy, create the space for 2-0. The cheers as loud as the Bees were brilliant. 

Two became three as Ivan Toney plopped it straight on to Ben Mee’s head in a crowded box and then, with 34 minutes gone, the pick of the bunch. Jensen again at the heart of everything. He won the ball off of Jaden Sancho in our box and played a delightful ball half up the pitch straight to Toney. His own first touch then delivering an exquisite raking pass on the diagonal straight to the feet of the on running Mbeumo. Luke Shaw’s clumsy challenge on th edge of the box evaded and the ball stroked home for 4-0. FOUR. NIL. Brentford 4-0 up against Manchester United with little more than a half hour played. My word. 

There it stayed until half-time. I genuinely expected United to come back out in different kits, blaming the shirt colour for blending in with the grass as the true reason for the absolute shoeing they’d received. Instead, there was more of that vile green which I’ll be amazed should it ever see ther light of day again. Equally, I expected them to come out at 100mph – Erik ten Hag having delivered the mother of all team talks. Instead, there was nothing. Sure, a bit more endeavour but no real chances. Instead, Aaron Hickey showing that his flattening of Ronaldo meant that we weren’t going to roll over in the second period.   

4-0 it stayed. It could have been more. Probably should have been more. Yet to be upset with ‘only’ ending the game third in the Premier League and with one of our greatest results ever under the belt would be nothing short of churlish. The full time celebrations showing just what it meant to everyone inside the stadium. That Manchester United were terrible is their problem. You still have to beat your opponents and Brentford did it in a style that made the world sit up and take notice. 

Full time as enjoyable as ever

One had to feel for their supporters. Obliterated by Brentford and their misery further compounded by the RMT strike meaning all trains back to Surrey were cancelled.

Or, should that be, almost all their supporters. Professional gobshite Terry Christian was still giving it large before the game. This, despite last season’s gloating having already blown up spectacularly in his face. Some people never learn. 

Still, that’s his problem. For me and for Brentford fans it was another beautiful afternoon. Another of those times you have to pinch yourself to see just how far we’ve come. Ten years ago we were drawing 0-0 with Bury at Gigg Lane. I was there for that one and now, well….  

It was demonstration that all the money in the world counts for naff all when you are that shambolic. That, ultimately, you cannot put a price on team spirit and mindset. 

All the talk coming into the game was about Christian Eriksen. All the talk coming out of it was about Mathias Jensen. He was incredible. Let’s not pretend otherwise. The star man awards (how to pick 5 out of 16 I have no idea) are now up and you can find them here. Otherwise, perhaps might just go and watch Match Of The Day once more. Think we may be first up. 

Jensen – a work of art

Nick Bruzon

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

12 Aug

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

 

Damsgaard – new player ; new shirt

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

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

Happy days at Chelsea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

its over

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

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

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

strop, strop, stop

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon