Tag Archives: Manchester United

Imagine no more. Could we be one decision away from the greatest thing ever?

22 Jan

Brentford host Wolverhampton Wanderers this Saturday afternoon. The fallout from the Manchester United game has been done, dusted and (along with the player / team performance summary) written about here. We’ve, likewise, looked forward to the visit from Wolves in yesterday’s column. To be quite honest, the plan had been for a lie in this morning before freezing my bits off in Gunnersbury Park whilst H spends 90 minutes at the weekly Community Sports Trust football training for years 3-6. That was the plan. But something has been niggling. Something kit related. Something utter, utter genius. Something to better even the brown and orange. Yeah. I hear you. Me too. “How is that even possible?” being the universal reaction to such a crazy statement.  

Choc & Orange – much missed

We’ve written about the good people behind @BeesShirts on Twitter before. Their ongoing homage to the history of red and white stripes along with just about anything else we’ve ever worn before. For a shirt nerd like yours truly – who, to be honest, is only a whisker away from Kitman Bob issuing the restraining order once Luis Adriano is finished with it – this is a mandatory inclusion in the social media ‘Follow 400’ max. Honestly, you don’t need any more. It’s just noise and clutter. A therapeutic clear out every now and again to avoid tipping over the magic mark is truly refreshing.

You can thank Twitter guru Richie Firth for that one. Although, I note with dismay he has let his own standards slip and is now up to a terrifying 469. Albeit, the visit to his own page to see that current tally revealed a spot on analysis of Jamie Carragher’s sartorial stylings from last night’s coverage of Watford – Norwich.

As ever, we digress. In short – don’t follow more than 400. Do follow @Beesshirts. And if you took the later advice chances are you’d have seen the greatest concept design for Brentford shirt ever. Imagine running out against Manchester United in what they’ve come up with? Well you don’t even need to imagine, if you can make it to the end of this page.

What a concept. What a look. A design based upon that classic London Transport seat material. Bringing the ‘Bus Stop in Hounslow ‘ to life. Reinventing the much loved choc /orange for an unexpected comeback. If nothing else, imagine the global shirt sales form Trainspotters. From travel enthusiasts. As a revenue generator alone, a tie up with LT could see the coffers swelling.

If THIS were to happen…….

But this is not really about money. This is about looking cool. Looking stylish. Being the trailblazers we so often are. About making Brentford stand out. About being different. About embracing what we have become so intrinsically associated with.

The aforementioned restraining order moved a step closer last night when Kitman Bob was asked for his thoughts on this. Clearly, we’ve stumbled across Matthew Benham’s latest masterplan. What other reason can you give for a reaction of “Hell no !!!!!”. Something I can only think is a coded message to keep quiet and not let the cat out of the bag.

Well, some things do need to be shouted about from the roof tops. Just imagine running out in this. Imagine the envious looks on Cristiano Ronaldo’s eyes if the Manchester United stropmonger had sulked off past players wearing this. Imagine owning something truly unique.

Imagine no more….

Bob, over to you.

What a concept

Nick Bruzon

When was the last time this happened? Who will start on Saturday?

21 Jan

League football at 3pm on a Saturday for Brentford returns for the first time in over two months with the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers this weekend (for no points, can you remember who our previous fixture at this time was without checking ? answer at the bottom). The bravery of Wednesday night and Manchester United has been done, dusted and filed away in the Dean Smith ‘deserved to win’ dustbin. Despite our wonderful performance – and for the record I still stand by the belief from yesterday’s column that Man U most definitely rode their luck in that opening period – in the end the difference between the two sides turned out to be nothing more than finishing. For all our chances, it was the Red Devils who were clinical when the moment arose. Devastatingly quick. Unlike their post goal scoring celebrations where the only thing slower than their walk back for the restart was their number 7 ambling off in a strop after being substituted. 

In your own time

What a terrible example to set by the Manchester United megastar for any young children who may have been watching etc etc etc. For the rest of us, every cliche and preconception about the world famous winker summed up in that moment. And also this one which has been doing the rounds on Twitter.  

For Brentford, we can mull on it or move on to Wolves. Thomas Frank has always been one to celebrate or reflect for 24 hours then focus on looking forward to the next game. For me, Clive, that’s the right approach but equally this is a game which could be blistering if we can continue the momentum. If we can pick up where we left off against Manchester United. Creative. Attacking. Taking the game to our opponents rather than sitting on the back foot and waiting for them to bring it to us. If the crowd and players continue that symbiotic relationship of feeding of each other. 

Who would you pick though? Centre back and midfield are the two areas where we finally seem to have interchangeable options. Should Matthias Jansen retain his place after a showing which saw him score highly in the player review feature but, sadly, not on pitch. Indeed, is it unfair on expecting him to get the goals when we play an all round team system and took until the 85th minute to get ours? Let’s not forget, either, being up against a World Class ‘keeper in David De Gea.

Its a really easy trap to fall into and go all ‘Ian Moose’. Who could forget his shameful attempts at self-publicity after Neal Maupay missed what the ego-driven broadcaster considered to be a chance so simple he’d have snaffled it up as easily as the prematch catering (is his banging on about that a thing, still?). Note to self: don’t forget to wish my good friend a happy birthday on February 7th (seventh).

But we digress. I thought Matthias had a wonderful game. I thought he should have scored. But also so could several others. Personally speaking, I’d start him again based on his performance alone. For all I rate Shandon Baptiste, and I do, I’m sure Matthias will be itching to get back out there and start this one at 100 mph. Like the rest of the Brentford team, looking to continue on from where we left off. 

Whomever, starts competition could really crank up soon. Aside from the Christian Eriksen rumours still kicking around,  Thomas Frank gave the latest assessment on Josh Dasilva in the Wolves press conference, saying “Kristoffer Ajer trained with him today and just said ‘what a player’. There is a very good player who hopefully we will see playing for us. I think it’s still four weeks away from him being involved in the squad, if we build him well. That could potentially be a tiny bit quicker, but it definitely also be longer”.    

In defence, I thought Mads Bech looked assured. Ethan too and perhaps he can consider himself unlucky to miss out on the top five this time around. With Pontus Jansson the club captain, does Kris Ajer continue on the sidelines? Is he fit to go? Who misses out if so? Indeed, do we persist with the three CB and double wing back combo that has been used so far this season? I’d love to see a try out for the more traditional set up that gave Ivan so much service before but that’s just me. 

Much as we love Sergi Canos in our house, if Rico Henry is fit then he’ll go straight in. He was immense at Liverpool and continues to provide attacking threat. Coming off the bench for the Man U game, I am sure he’ll start on Saturday. Certainly, Thomas has confirmed that everyone who was available for the last game remains in the same position this time around. 

Decisions, decisions, decisions. One things for sure, getting back to winning ways will be very welcome. Starting to get a few more points on the board can only be good. There are no rewards given for ‘close but no cigar’. No points earned for topping the ‘deserved to win table’. Next up in the Prem is that trip to Manchester City. About as tough as it gets for anyone !

As for Wolves, Thomas used that conference to pay tribute to Bruno Mars and his squad. “I think Conor Coady is a key for their defense. When you play with a back three/back five like we do, it is very difficult to break down. They are a group of players who know each other well and who want to run and fight for each other which means a lot.”

The Wolves – Bees picture has been in use since 2014

Joy. One can only hope that Spurs interest in Adam Traore (a £15m bid was rejected yesterday) could have some sort of unsettling effect. The eight placed team (Wolves, not Tottenham) are on a hot streak at present and racking up the points with ease. They’ll be as confident and optimistic of continuing that run as we will be of getting back to winning ways.

Can we do it? There’s only one place to find out. Lionel Road. On Saturday. At 3pm (not a typo) See you there…

And that last Saturday game? Newcastle United away. The 3-3 at St. James Park on November 20th.

Until then, if you’d like to read more… then here’s that post-match player review from Manchester United and the 1-3.

Nick Bruzon

Jamchester United. Bees miss out after storming performance.

20 Jan

What can you say? Brentford went down 3-1 at home to Manchester United in the proverbial game of two halves. The first seeing us utterly dominant. United, apparently the ‘biggest club in world football’ made to look like a bunch of Sunday league part-timers. The only one to emerge with any credit being David De Gea in nets who twice denied Matthias Jensen when it seemed odds on the Danish midfielder would score. The fans were on their feet in anticipation of him burying one of them but, yet again, Thomas Frank must be left wondering whose black cat he has run over. Like Chelsea, a blood and thunder performance saw us thwarted by a ‘keeper at the very top of his game. Christian Norgaard also with the best of the chances in an opening period that saw 6 decent efforts and the memory of our blank at Liverpool nothing more than that. A memory. This was a team reacting at the top of their game. A team breathing in the atmosphere at Lionel Road and then using it to super charge our drive forward.

Bryan was on fire. Matthias too, to be fair. The frustration of inconsistency rearing its head when the ball was lost or the chances spurned. The brilliance of him at his best coming through in patches. Perhaps that’s what the prospect of Josh Dasilva and Christian Eriksen breathing down your neck does. United left looking tattered and one of the worst teams to visit Lionel Road this season. We were that good. They were that bad. De Gea aside. The visitors not even testing Jonas Lössl who had replaced Alvaro Fernandez in goal.

Then , the second half happened. A sloppy first goal conceded with Lössl unsure whether to stick or twist as the ball was played forward and ended up doing neither. A despairing stretch was powerless to stop Elanga heading home. Ronaldo chesting it forward for Fernandes to give his only meaningful contribution of the evening in the build-up to the second. The ball then played through to Mason Greenwood who, despite a suspicion of offside, made no mistake. Marcus Rashford made it three late on.

The goals all well, well taken and the consummate lesson that chances can’t continue to be spurned. United weren’t even close in this game but rode their luck to the max. All we had to show for it was Ivan Toney’s late, late consolation goal. A long throw working for the second time this season. Brentford throwing everything and anything from the kitchen sink to Stephen Pressley’s socks at the United goal but nothing more followed.  

Look positive. This was Manchester Untied we were up against. It was miles improved on Liverpool. We didn’t concede form a corner either. Mads Bech coming in for Kris Ajer looked strong. Ivan is back on the score sheet whilst who didn’t enjoy the sight of Ronaldo’s hissy fit. Trudging off in what the BBC described afterwards as “a ridiculous show of petulance with a slow stroll off, some very obvious muttering and a burst of anger on the bench after he was substituted with 20 minutes left”?

In your own time, Cristiano

A case of ‘And this isn’t Ronaldo territory?’ Frankly, a two headed tortoise would have been quicker leaving the field. The chants of “winker, winker, winker” being directed towards the player showing that he hadn’t been forgiven for his World Cup shenanigans back in 2006. At least, I thank that’s what was being chanted.

Thomas would talk afterwards about how we absolutely destroyed them in the opening period. How he was hugely disappointed not to grab the win against a top team. All true. All true. Feelings felt by the majority of a fanbase who absolutely ripped the roof off Lionel Road. Kudos too, for the West stand breaking in to a chorus of: “Live round the corner. You only live round the corner.

The deeper dive player review is now up and can be found here. Otherwise, it’s a case of waking up and wondering how we came away empty handed. Of being taught a lesson that opportunities need to be grabbed when they come along. Something Manchester United are still masters at and which they demonstrated three times last night.

So head held high and all that but, at the end of the day Clive, a blank on the points tally. That’s football. All we can do now is bottle if for Wolves and, err, go again.

See you there  

Nick Bruzon

View from the opposition. Manchester United fan opens up ahead of Brentford game.

18 Jan

Brentford host Manchester United at Lionel Road on Wednesday evening. The build up to this one has been as much post-mortem from Liverpool as it has been excitement about Christian Eriksen (hey, you have to dream). Now though, we need to cut to the chase. To look at the opposition. One of the most famous clubs in the land but, by their own illustrious standards, perhaps not at the races in recent years. The challenge of following Fergie a riddle to challenge the deepest of minds. A conundrum to file along side the question of just what makes Mrs Browns Boys popular or whether anyone, actually, enjoys the England Supporter’s band.

Liverpool has been and gone now

Those, of course, are well trodden paths on these pages. Instead, let’s look at Manchester United. Through the eyes of Dale O’Donnell. The blue ticked editor of the @strettynews website, Sky Sports News contributor and member of the Football Writer’s Association. Thats the Twitter bio done. Onto the questions…

What a tumultuous season for those of us looking in. Ole sacked and the Red Devils languishing in 7th (seventh) place. European qualification – even for the Europa Conference – hanging in the balance. Are things at Old Trafford as bad as being made out? 
Well, yes, because it’s not difficult to see the root of our problems. Just look at the Glazer family and how they only see our club as a commercial cash cow. One they can continue to milk despite the team showing utter mediocrity on the pitch.

From my perspective, being any good back in the day isn’t a guarantee of success and most clubs would love to be in your position. Do the supporters have unrealistic expectation levels?
No offence – but we are Manchester United. The biggest football club – not only in England, but – in the world. We’ve seen a lot of poor recruitment, ill-advised decisions from the hierarchy and a lack of planning over the years but it still beggars belief that we’re so poor on the football pitch, with the players we have available. We’re a million miles away from where we need to be.

What about Ole? A club legend. Was he let go too early? Or was it the right move?
It was the right move because the results got so bad and our season objective looked out of reach just two or three months into the season. Ole will forever be remembered as a club legend — mostly as a player, but I think he did a lot of good as manager too — and I’m still gutted that he wasn’t the one to bring the Premier League back to Old Trafford. That would have been amazing.

How have things changed since the arrival of Ralf Rangnick? 
Not much if I’m being honest. We can see that the manager wants to play a totally different way and that was always going to take time. However, rumours about dressing room unrest are unsettling because the players might not give this man the respect he deserves, with Rangnick moving upstairs at the end of the season.

Who would you like to take over following his interim stint and who do you think will get the role?
It’s got to be Pochettino for me. I know most online polls show that United fans are rooting for Ten Hag, who I also rate as a leading candidate, but I’m not sure he is quite up to task. As ever I’d happily be proven wrong.

Donny van de Beek ? What’s going on?
Not fancied by previous management team and I don’t think Rangnick feels he can cut it in the Premier League.

What has been your best performance of the season to date? And the lowest?
Giving Leeds a good hammering on the opening day of the season was great, but our season has nosedived since. The lowest point for me, though, was obviously losing 5-0 to Liverpool. At least the Stretford End was loud that day…

Getting to the matter at hand, who are the current danger men Brentford need to be aware of?
Ronaldo (if fit) and Fernandes. You never quite know with the rest. De Gea has been our best player this season which tells you a lot.

As outsiders looking in, what’s the take from the Old Trafford faithful on the Bees?
I’ve been very impressed by your style of play and willingness to go at teams in your first season in the Premier League. A welcome addition to the top-flight.

If you could sign any one player from Brentford in the current window who would it be? Indeed, would you?
I’d probably say Kristoffer Ajer because he can play as a defensive midfielder and we badly need one of those.

Your score prediction for Wednesday?
2-1 win for United.

What would you consider to have been a successful season for our respective clubs when we get to the end of the campaign?
I’m going to say… United 4th and Brentford 10th.

And if you’d like to read more……. the return feature (the Brentford take on Manchester United) can be found here. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

Liverpool, Manchester United and Christian Eriksen latest plus the video to make our eyes light up.

18 Jan

Another day in the non-stop rollercoaster ride that is Premier League life. Brentford have done with Liverpool and we’re now set to host Manchester United . There’s FA Cup news out of Everton plus more midfield news than you can shake a stick at with Christian Eriksen of Denmark being just one of the names out there at the moment. 

Could we actually do this?

Which, with all due respect to Liverpool and Manchester United, needs to be where we start. The GPG have had the story building for over a week but now the rest of the world seems to have caught up with this. The BBC and several newspaper sites confirming that Brentford have been in touch with the Danish midfielder who has been released from his contract with Inter Milan. Serie A rules not allowing the sort of pacemaker which he has had fitted following that terrifying moment over the summer at Euro 2020.  

109 international caps. A pedigree in domestic football that also takes in Ajax and Spurs. 36 goals for his country from a variety of midfield positions. There are no words needed to describe his talent and word on the street is that there are a number of other top flight clubs looking to sign him. However, the actual word out of TW8 being that talks HAVE taken place between Brentford and the player about a six-month deal. Now, the inevitable negotiations begin.  

I can’t imagine somebody of his stature comes cheap, that’s for sure. How big a draw the power of Thomas Frank and the other Danes on our playing staff over wages will be remains to be seen. I’m drooling at the prospect of seeing him alongside Christian Norgaard. Chuck in Mathias Jensen for the full triumvirate. Right now, its more the case of hoping Thomas can do his thing to sell the Brentford project to his fellow countryman. 

Likewise, and perhaps more importantly, being hugely grateful that we can even be having this conversation. The sheer awfulness of what happened over the summer needs no revisiting. The despair and panic felt at the time unable to be put into words. And that was just us watching on from back home. It’s not possible to even half imagine how it felt for his team mates and family after he suffered that on pitch cardiac arrest in the game against Finland.

Thankfully, of course, the medical staff and his own team mates worked wonders to bring him back following the emergency treatment administered at the time. Now he’s in wonderful health by all accounts and chomping at the bit to go again – even targetting a place at the World Cup in December.  

That journey has to start somewhere and Brentford are the ones at the forefront of looking to help him take that first step. Could it happen? Will it happen? Is an unveiling before Manchester United too far flung a dream to cling to? Might it all come to nothing? Fingers are certainly crossed with, I have no doubt, much more to come in the coming days. 

The other news to set tongues wagging concerned a player already on our books. With video footage to match. We’ve all seen the pictures of Josh Dasilva in recent weeks but now he’s been in actual match action. You know, kicking a ball and everything. 45 minutes at Jersey Road in a game with Havant and Waterlooville. The comeback is most definitely on and whilst it may take a while longer to be involved in full fat first team action, this is about as big a boost as they come. Feast your eyes on this. 

Elsewhere, we’ve now gone live with the post match player and performance review following the game at Liverpool. Who were the top five for Brentford? Who is ahead in the race to be our season long star man? Who should have been included but missed out? You can find the answers and catch up on that piece, here.

In other news, TAP limits for the FA Cup fourth round tie at Everton have been announced. The figure cited by Brentford ‘official’ means just about anyone who has seen us on the road can take the trip to Goodison Park on Saturday 5th February. Season Ticket Holders with 1200+TAPs will be able to book their guaranteed place from today. 6,000 tickets are, I believe, available and priced at just £15 these are sure to fly off the shelves. If nothing else, it gives a chance to complete the Stanley Park bingo card following Sunday’s game. 

Two for the price of one

Until then though, it’s almost time for another home game. The chance to have played all 19 clubs in the Premier League will finally arrive. Manchester United being the last of the outliers following their 11th hour Covid related cancellation request back in December. How long ago does that feel now? The delay has allowed us to welcome back Kris Ajer and strengthen our goalkeeping options, amongst others permutations. It seems like another lifetime away when we were talking about having to bring out 18 year old Matthew Cox against the Red Devils for his Brentford debut? Perhaps we still will although any change should it come will, surely, be in the direction of Jonas Lössl. 

Today’s press conference will be telling as to both injuries and team selection. Even if it does end up being dominated by talks of another Dane in Christian Eriksen. All that’s to come, of course. For now we need to focus on Manchester United and the chance to pick up another three points. They looked wobbly (the story of the season) against Aston Villa and may well be without Cristiano Ronaldo which, if nothing else, is disastrous news for all the ‘Can I have your shirt…?’ placard makers. 

Could we do it? Will we do it? There’s only one place to be to find out. Lionel Road. See you there. 

Nick Bruzon 

Who were the top five performers at the weekend?

17 Jan

So Brentford lost out at Anfield on Sunday. A 3-0 reverse to Liverpool coming after 45 minutes of rock solid defending had almost threatened to send the half-time crockery flying. Then, the dam finally broke after wave upon wave of Red pressure and the rest is history. With Manchester United next up on Wednesday, are there grounds for expectation that another big name scalp will be claimed? Will the defensive, err, blips that gifted the third goal in particular be consigned to the waste bin of history?

Brentford push forward at Anfield

As ever at this juncture, we take a look at who deserves to keep their place in the Brentford starting XI after the Liverpool game and who were our top five players at Anfield? Does anyone deserve to miss out against Manchester United or will it be more of the same when Thomas names his team? Looking further afield, how is the race to be our season long star man shaping up?

You can find the answers to all these questions along with the summarised version of the team performance here. Who missed out? Who should have been included? Have we got it right? Over to you….

And that silenced The Kop

17 Jan

Liverpool 3 Brentford 0. The Bees returned to Anfield for the first time since that 1989 FA Cup tie for the return Premier League fixture following our 3-3 draw at Lionel Road earlier this season. This time, however, there was no contest. The odd flurry of chances aside – Bryan Mbeumo channelling his inner Richard Cadette for the closest of these – it really felt like one-way traffic. Yet with Manchester United next up there were still plenty of positives to take ahead of Wednesday night’s home game. Primarily, the return of Rico Henry and the backs to the wall defending – a mile away from the Southampton horror show – that accompanied the opening 44 minutes. Liverpool dominating and pushing but unable to find a way through.

Bryan runs at the Liverpool defence

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages, albeit the player review is now up. For now, the headlines surround two levels of Bees’ defence. That opening phase where despite the hosts having 75% possession, there was no way through. Kris Ajer ploughing through Jota. Pontus heading it clear time and again. Most exciting of all, the return of Rico Henry. His substitution just into the second half confirmed by Thomas Frank as being nothing more than precautionary, with the left back apparently available for Manchester united during the week. Whilst he was on the pitch, there was no holding back the man who is on a fast track to challenge for our player of the season.

Yet when the goals came, they were awful. Awful. A corner that bypassed the entire defence for the opener. A cross that could have been claimed or cleared for the second. A totally needless attempt to play it out from the back that culminated in the inevitable disaster for the third. What Alvaro Fernandez was thinking not once but twice before Minamino wrapped it up I have no idea. A huge shame because he has kept us in it as much as anyone prior to that with a series of smart saves.

What can you say? Resolute defence and valiant effort count for nothing when the final scores are read. Moreso when the nature of the goals conceded was as frustrating as we all saw. Yet having contained our hosts for the vast majority of the opening period and only falling out of sight relatively late on, the contest always felt even. At least in terms of Brentford potentially hauling themselves back in to it. Had Bryan gone the other side of the post with the away support already cheering the equaliser, who knows what might have been? Instead, class eventually shone through and the game ended as comfortably as the scoreline and the statistics suggest.

Ah, yes. Class. Let’s not forget who we were up against. And where. A team second only to Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title. A transfer budget, spending power and sheer quality of playing staff. A stadium with three times the amount of supporters than is possible at Lionel Road.

At face value these were insurmountable odds but we gave it a damn good shot before administering the fatal blow ourselves. That’s not to be harsh. This was a huge learning curve and should Premier League football be on the agenda for next season (Liverpool do seem safe, to be fair) then this sort of experience will only stand us in good stead.   

The Brentford fans were magnificent, btw. What an atmosphere being generated at the away end. What a noise. Singing throughout and cranking it up as the game progressed. In contrast, The Kop less a 12th man as more a library. Certainly, by the sound of things. The fabled atmosphere very much muted for vast swathes of the game.

Keep it like that for Wednesday and who knows what could happen.

Special mention for the rail seating, btw. Everyone stands away from home, anyway, so nothing new there but great to see this legitimised. Hopefully more to follow in our own West Stand shortly off the back of a trial that is only going to get formal approval based on all the evidence seen so far.

The only thing probably worth being aware of as we progress our own drive towards this type of standing, being how anybody lacking in stature gets to see the game. Specifically the kids. Our Harry spent the opening period staring into the backs of the fans in front given, unlike a traditional terrace, there was no room to move. The obvious answer is to stand on the seat, which he did, much to the chagrin of two Brentford ‘fans’ behind him who then started taking photos and went crying to the stewards about it. This despite the eight year old’s head being lower than everyone else in the rest of our group. My word. Seriously? Hats off to the stewards, too, who after ten minutes of their nonsense told him to stand on the seat and get on with it. He wasn’t overly phased whilst all this was going on and, instead, spent the time asking why it was called The Kop rather than The Klopp.

Rail seating looks here to stay based on the evidence

On the other hand, it was so good seeing all the other friendly faces. Including Harry Potter, whom I still can’t get used to seeing in anything beyond his now absent Gunnersaurus coat (Burgundy is not the new green), and somebody who came ‘full Sherlock Holmes’. The good vibes culminating in a chorus of “We’ll race you back to London” as the Liverpool fans poured out before full time.

Overall, a result which was expected by many observers but despite pressure, pressure, pressure The Bees held strong for so long. Had Bryan’s second half chance gone in at 1-0 down well, it would have been dreamland for Brentford, wouldn’t it? It was inches wide of the post. And that…silenced the Kop.

RIP Tony Gubba.

See you all on Wednesday for Manchester United

Nick Bruzon

Get the f*@k in !! Now THIS is what it’s all about.

15 Jan

Well here we are at last. If the Premier League hadn’t been exciting enough so far, Brentford now go into a sequence of games that sees us go to Liverpool on Sunday, host Manchester United on Wednesday and then welcome back old friends Wolves on the Saturday. It is a week of fixtures that at one point in most supporter’s lifetime would have been nothing short of fantasy football. Now it is very real and now it is here. Not to mention the news out of Lionel Road yesterday about Pontus Jansson signing an extended contract. The club captain clearly relishing his time with The Bees following that move which took him from Leeds United to Griffin Park back in 2019.

We can only begin with all things Liverpool, of course. A Sunday afternoon 2pm kick off sees our first visit to Anfield since that 1989 FA Cup quarter final. Brentford, then, a Division three club for whom Andy Sinton, Keith Jones, Allan Cockram, Gary Blissett, Keith Millen and Terry Evans were amongst the players to make yours truly go dewy eyed even now. Checks Wikipedia – Neil Smillie is 63. Cripes – that’s how long ago it was. Yet it was a rare opportunity to step up in class.To continue that epic cup run that had already seen us beat Manchester City and then a fine fifth round win up at Blackburn Rovers.

What an afternoon it was.

Liverpool, of course, were next level. In general and on the day. Reaching the ground relatively late, we walked into an already full stadium to be greeted by a wall of noise and a teeming mass of supporters. The fans moving as one on the Kop at the far end of the stadium. I remember suddenly being hit by the sheer impossibility of the task ahead but also the excitement and the potential if, somehow, footballing fate were to smile on us. If David were to beat Goliath. And it almost happened.

“No Offside!! Cadette!!! Ohhh, he’s missed!! Sinton’s lovely little ball and Richard Cadette, top scorer with seventeen goals this season… how close did he come to putting this quarterfinal? Well, it would have been dreamland for Brentford, wouldn’t it? It was inches wide of the post. And that…silenced the Kop”.

Ahh, Tony Gubba. His immortal words with the score locked at 0-0 still ring in the ears. The chance still visible in the minds’ eye. An opening ten minutes with more action than you get in most games. Then Liverpool turned it up to 11. 1-0 at HT became 4-0 by the end. We did well to hang in there but eventually class told. We went back to West London and that was it for over thirty years. Until this season and that quite incredible 3-3 at Lionel Road.

The inflatable Bee may have gone but the photo from my last trip to Anfield remains

If the trip to Anfield had been a highlight in my life as a Brentford fan, then the Premier League game in September has now overtaken that. To see the two clubs competing on an equal footing. Both in the same division. Decades of ambition finally coming to fruition. The long, hard years having to explain that our team, largely unheard of outside TW8, were Brentford rather than Brentwood (in Essex ) now nothing more than a dusty relic from a previous time. To have my family with me and little H, the excitement painted all over his face in thick brushstrokes. His tears as they scored again. The screams of joy as we pulled them back. Again. Liverpool’s lead falling apart as easily as a Leeds United promotion campaign.

That’s what a Wissa equaliser for 3-3 does

Ahh, good times. Amazing times. But a memory to file alongside Anfield ’89. Now, we’ve the chance to make new ones. Thee points the priority against a Liverpool side shorn of their best player (Mo Salah on AFCON duty along with Sadio Mane and Naby Keita) yet still putting out a terrifyingly strong looking line up for Thursday’s League Cup semi with Arsenal. That one ended 0-0, against ten men. Stoic resistance does work. With the Bees enduring that horror show at Southampton on Wednesday, one so woeful it culminated in a hard hitting approach to the player performance review – the only way is up. There’s just no way we can defend that abysmally again. Whether playing Liverpool or Lincoln City. We were victims of our own lethargy. This time around things will be different. They have to be.

Thomas Frank has hinted that Rico Henry will be ready. Amazing if so but one can’t help but think these are nothing more than mind games and Manchester United will be when we see him back in action. The attacking potential and defence quality he brings is, of course, something that needs no expansion upon. We all know it. We all love him. We all hope there will be no gamble with fitness although if he IS ready then happy days. Roll on 1pm Sunday when the team is announced and we find out.

The other big call will be in nets. Does Jonas Lössl get a start or will Alvaro Fernandez keep his place? It always takes time for a new goalkeeper and defence to sync up whilst nobody could replace David Raya. It’s a task as impossible as following Fergie at Old Trafford. The manager rather than the Black Eyed Pea. Yet, equally, we all know that things have been up and down. Moments of brilliance – he arguably saved us two points late on at home to Aston Villa – have come alongside a frustrating lack of clean sheets. The only people smiling there being the marketing team at Dormeo as another  promotional mattress and duvet set gets to stay in the warehouse. Is it all down to him? What would you do? For me, Clive, there’s nothing to lose by making the change. Something needs to give after Southampton and I’m afraid most eyes will be pointing in the obvious direction – that last line of defence.

Look, I know nothing about football. Really. I love it, live it, breath it. But I’m not a coach. I’m not involveld in what happens. Like most of us, a peripheral figure on the outside looking in when it comes to team selection and actually knowing what goes on behind the scenes.  Everyone’s an expert and a tracksuit manager. Everyone’s a critic and its the easiest thing in the world to pour forth. Indeed, that’s all part of what makes it such a wonderful game. The conjecture. The discussion. The ongoing debate with friends. Listening to pundits and then shouting at the tv as to how wrong they are. 

Ultimately though, it comes down to Thomas Frank and his squad as to who our best eleven are on the day. Rico or Sergi. Jonas or Alvaro. Whomever we go with, this promises to be as loud and exciting an experience as they come. It shouldn’t have the feel of ‘big day out’. That was for 1989 and a one off experience. An amazing one but we were a different club then with different aspirations. These days Brentford have big new ambitions (sorry, sorry, sorry – couldn’t resist) and these upcoming games the Rides, Manchester United and Wolves will go a huge way towards telling us how realistic they are. Bring it on!!! See you there.

The other news was , of course, Pontus Janson and his contract extension. This is fantastic news. He’ll now be with us until the end of of next season after it was announced yesterday that he had put pen to paper. 

No word, of course, as to whether it was ‘that’ pen but one can only dream….

That biro

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