Tag Archives: Manish Bhasin

Lucky pants? Tick. Magic hat? Tick. Clem? Tick. The omens are good.

20 Sep

Easy come. Easy go. Brentford saw that brief flirtation with the ‘automatic’ places in the fledgling Championship table come to a (presumably temporary) end as Middlesbrough beat Bolton 2-0 last night. It was an evening that saw Birmingham City became one of only two teams – see also Ipswich Town – who are yet to win a league game. Hey, I guess at least they’re ten times better at getting draws. Nobody in the division has more than their 6. And back at Griffin Park, today sees a potentially secret weapon heading our way. From, of all teams..…

Middlesbrough may have overtaken us in the table ‪on Wednesday evening‬ c/o George Saville and a late strike from Britt Assombalonga but they are, at least, sending us a gift this morning. A journalistic gift as, it seems, Neal Maupay is to be the subject of an interview from one of our favourite reporters. So not Ian Moose.

Per his Twitter feed during the week, it seems that none other than ever popular Boro’ fan and BBC man Mark Clemmit (Clem, to us) will be at the training ground today. Primarily to catch up with the Championship’s leading scorer ahead of Football Focus but who knows where this one may go?

77CE332B-929C-45EE-8F5B-99A094AFB922

Clem lines up a visit to Neal (or Ian Moose)

Long suffering readers may well recall our season long analysis of Clem during his time on the much missed Football League Show back in 2014/15. Specifically the anti-form that seemed to follow him around as part of his roving reporter duties for Manish and team.

Quite simply, there was a theory that whichever club he featured for that weekend’s show would subsequently fail to win. A visit from the popular reporter being the death knell for their team that many supporters believed it to be.

Nobody does superstition like football fans and there was no bigger jinx at the time than Clem. If you could distill the essence of lucky pants, magic hat, prolonged bouts of not shaving and favourite shirt (all much more efficient barometers of potential success than coaching, opposition or fitness) into one potent brew then promptly throw them down the sink, that was Clem. Seemingly.

But was it? Well, we undertook a Clemwatch survey on these pages to see if the ever popular man-with-the-mic was being unfairly maligned or, infact, was a footballing albatross best avoided. A season long analysis followed which saw only 7(seven) victories for teams he featured on that evening’s show. Out of 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford. The Hornets lead with all other results going their way, the title was in their grasp. With the BBC showing 90 minutes, Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished ‪at 1-1‬. The title lost, with the final goal. All under Clem’s watchful eye.

Clem Clemawatch 30

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

Then, suddenly, things changed. The Football League show was sadly lost to us and Clem took a back seat. Those quite wonderful reports, finished. Until Football Focus duties reared their head and he picked up the roving reporter’s baton once more. With a difference. This time, his teams started winning. It’s true.

It began the day Brentford won 5-3 at Burton when perhaps something special was in the air. Some sort of football magic that saw The Bees come back from 3-1 down whist elsewhere Clem broke his bad ‘form’. From being the man avoided like the plague (think: trapped in a lift with Ian Moose and only one pie available) his team that day – Bournemouth – won. Now he is being welcomed with open arms. A visit from Clem coincides with a win for your team.

With his presence at Brentford today, I’m betting the mortgage (metaphorically speaking) on The Bees to beat Derby County on Saturday. Moreso, given we’re sure to be in that quite wonderful brown/orange away kit.

Here’s to 3pm when we find out. And perhaps Football Focus at lunchtime….

DnZ3OjuVYAA2d2l

Neal is doing it game after game.

Nick Bruzon

Advertisements

The craziest day in football history? Bees top the lot as Clem and Bournemouth set the record straight.

19 Mar

No. It wasn’t a dream. I’m awake. Brentford really did come good in the most incredible style to turn a 3-1 HT deficit into a 5-3 win at Burton Albion. Back on 3rd May 2015, the Last Word published a column entitled: Was this the craziest day in Championship history? as the Bees secured a play-off semi-final with Middlesbrough and Bournemouth pipped Watford to the league title in the most dramatic of denouements. But yesterday saw all that come crashing back to the forefront of the memory for many reasons. Nonemoreso than the return of Middlesbrough fan and Last Word cult hero Clem. Of Clemwatch fame.

But we can only start up where we left off last night and the result from Burton Albion. If not as significant as that afternoon back in 2015 where our own defeat of Wigan, matched with just about every possible result going our way, saw the Bees reach the play offs for the Premier League, this was one that is at the very top of the list of “I was there” games, Purely in terms of what was a ridiculous afternoon it was from a Brentford perspective.

If you’ve seen yesterday’s post-match column we’ve done that one. What a quite spectacular game of football to have witnessed. Following it from home was stressful enough, I can only imagine what it was like being there. An afternoon reminiscent of celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup at Leyton Orient? Winning the fifth round of the FA Cup at Blackburn in 1989? That game against Wigan in 2015?

Only those in Burton will truly know how good this one felt but if social media is anything to go by then it can only have been up there with the best of the best.  There’s been plenty for those missed who out on this one to look at via the world of Twitter and other sources although, perhaps, in retrospect it was always going to be a special afternoon when Burton gifted Brentford an omen such as this.

Are Beesotted setting up in Burton?

Billy (Grant) of Beesotted fame wasn’t just spotted on the side of a building. He was one of many loving the moment Sergi Canos popped up at the railway station on the way home. As you do.

Billy and Sergi. The afternoon's excitement continues

Billy and Sergi. The afternoon’s excitement showed no sign of stopping.

Billy wasn’t alone. Just when you thought Sergi couldn’t be any more excited to be back at Brentford, his impromptu photocall proved us all wrong on that front. How Norwich City must be kicking themselves at acquiring, then falling too use, such incredible talent and incredible enthusiasm. Presumably the Spaniard has now got home or is he still obliging the supporters with more photos?

Sergio does it again. And again. What a man.

Bees photographer Mark Fuller caught the moment below as sweetly as one could hope. The next best thing to actually being behind the goal.

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 06.19.18

Whilst his partner in media crime (not literally) Sean Ridley proved that sometimes, three words are all you need.

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 06.18.24

But perhaps it was the EFL themselves who hit the nail on the head in regards to yesterday’s events.

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 06.18.08

Yet to truly call yesterday incredible we also need to look at Bournemouth. Specifically because  Eddie Howe’s team beat Swansea City 2-0 at Dean Court/The Vitality Stadium.

On paper, no great surprise given The Swans precarious position but dig a bit deeper and it might not have been such a ‘gimme’ as first imagined.

Back in that 2014/15 season, aswell as charting Brentford’s first Championship campaign the Last Word ran a side feature called Clemwatch. It was a feature borne out of the sudden realisation made, as most are, in The Griffin.

Namely, that whichever team ever popular BBC roving reporter Clem (Mark Clemmit)  featured on The Football League Show would subsequently fail to win that afternoon’s game.

Clem Wycombe toilets

Clem – never shy to mix it up in terms of reporting locations for The Football League Show

Was there any truth to this? Being the jinx conscious football fan (magic pants, lucky shirts, not shaving over a winning run are all par for the course) this needed study. And so over the course of that season Clem’s form was observed from the first week. Surely it wouldn’t be true. But it was.

Aside from some genuinely entertaining features, Clem finished up with a record of 7(seven) wins from 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford.

Clem was at Vicarage Road to see if the Hornets, entertaining Sheffield Wednesday, could match Bournemouth’s result to be crowned champions. Both teams were winning with the BBC clock showing 90 minutes. Then, it happened.

Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished at 1-1.

Whilst I’m sure that Watford fans will be more than pleased just to have gone up, I do hope Eddie Howe sent a big thank you to Clem. The effervescent reporter may have doomed Watford although, and it has to be said, he brought a lot of joy to viewers along the way.

Clem Clemawatch 30

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

And that was it. With The Football League show disappearing from our screens the following season to be replaced by Football League Tonight (please, please, please never forget what was served up as replacement to Manish and Clem on that first episode) his work in that particular field was done. TV rights meant the BBC would focus on the Premier League and with Brentford failing to beat Middlesbrough in that play off semi final (or any game. Ever. It seems) we went our separate ways. Until yesterday.

With Clem finally on Twitter (@MarkClemmit) he’s been a recent ‘follow’ and, mid-morning, popped up with the announcement that Eddie Howe would be his interview subject on that morning’s Football Focus.

Cue good natured banter to a TW8 based Bournemouth supporter and Mike Grella fan about her team’s upcoming fate. The jinx would surely strike again? Yet the response was a surprising one. Not from Carey but from the man himself, defending his own recent record with the tongue in cheek note that times are changing.

That's me told, then. Clem is back. And better than ever.

That’s me told, then. Clem is on better form than ever .

And sure enough, they are. Bournemouth’s win sees Eddie Howe now joining the ranks of Sam Allardyce and Paul Lambert in being blessed by Clem. The jinx has reversed.

What can you say, but:

i) Sorry, Clem.

ii) Congratulations Clem.

iii) Thanks for being a great sport, and

iv) Should the worst happen to Middlesbrough then we can’t wait to see you at Griffin Park next season. Just make sure that if you have a mic with you, it’s pointing at Dean Smith.

And, of course, if you’d like to read more about our past three campaigns and the full Clemwatch story, then you can do so here.

Talking of Dean (puts crowbar back in pocket) we couldn’t finish without going all Ian Moose. Except without the pre-match catering obsession. It simply remains to say Happy Birthday to Dean Smith. Have a great day, my friend.

IMG_5768

Happy Birthday Dean Smith. Have a great day my friend.

Nick Bruzon

Sex, pies and audiotape (there’s no sex. or audio)

20 Apr

Like many Brentford fans, I was buzzing when I got home last night. A 2-1 win over Cardiff City had seen Scott Hogan add a further brace to Saturday’s last minute equaliser against Bristol City. The Bees had made it 13 points from 15 and the Last word, high on the delights of victory, had gone up early. Now it’s time to (apologies) go again as we round up the other bits and pieces from Tuesday.

image

A fine win but what else happened ?

First up, Broadcast Moose. Anybody who read the post match article would have seen his comments about Russell Slade refusing to talk to him after the game. My gut reaction was that the Cardiff manager was exhibiting yet more of the sour grapes that he seems to have reserved for the Bees.

I’m pretty sure there was something mentioned about an FA Cup once whilst he was hardly full of praise when guesting on the Football League show that season. Mind you, if I’d been the victim of Manish repating the “Slade at Christmas” joke (wonderful once, woeful a second time) then I might feel a tad irritated.

Now, I’m not looking to defend Slade. Like Steve Evans, he cultivates a personality (at least, with fans) that is one of a bullish and outspoken manager. Reap what you sow. Behind closed doors he may be a lovely chap. I just don’t know, sadly. And I say sadly because I have it on good authority that at least one of Beesotted’s wonderful FA Cups made it into his direct ownership last season. Did he laugh, cry, store it up in the back of his mind? Who knows? But I digress.

Having cultivated this personality he’s there to be shot down and last night’s whine from Moose was, on the surface, such an opportunity .

Yet, Yet, Yet. Having slept on it , something doesn’t sit quite right.

I’m not too proud to admit I lay in bed last night, thinking about Russell Slade (and I hope to God my wife isn’t reading today). Or, more specifically, and probably even worse, Broadcast Moose. Hey, at least it wasn’t Jeff Stelling.

I may not know much about football’s inner workings but I do know that managers normally speak to the press and give some form of post-match conference. Sure enough, checking News Now he certainly appears to have spoken to journalists, with various pieces now online that detail his comments. For example, Sky Sports have quoted him as saying, “We lacked that clinical finish in the first half when we had total control. In the second we lost it a bit, they became a threat on the counter and we defended poorly”.

So what’s Moose’s beef? He was, as ever (yawn) banging on about the state of the catering during the game – a routine that is about as endearing as being forced to watch the season’s opener of ‘Football League Tonight on an infinite loop. Whilst Kelly and George have, thankfully, upped their game, Moose hasn’t changed the record.

But putting the pies to one side, what was really bugging me is  – why would Slade treat him like this?

Surely in the press area he’d have no choice but to answer the questions? Surely if one journalist had been singled out for a snubbing then this would have been more widely reported?

I don’t know what happened for sure – or where this contretemps actually took place. That, something Mr. Moose has failed to mention whilst making his quite provocative comments, including: “What a bad loser Russell Slade has become….,tonight point blank refused to do a post match interview….Mr Slade could only grunt no”

It takes a lot for me to think about Russell Slade as having the moral high ground but I’m just putting it out there for the sake of balance. Russell / Ian, if you are reading…..?

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 06.19.05

Moose – at least he was happy about the pies

As for the rest of last night. Peter Gilham wins the award (should one exist) for moment of the evening, or at least half time, after exhibiting more of that deadpan brilliance for which he is so loved. Whilst talking about the opportunity for fans to get involved in the club’s social media, he mentions “Snapchat”, paused for a moment and then added, “Whatever that is.

Peter, I’m with you .

Toumani, He’s done it again. Again. After getting his second Leeds United goal at the weekend against Reading, least night he took his total to three, grabbing their second in a 2-1 win over Wolves. Whilst I was desperately sad to see Toumani go, I’m thrilled to bits for him that the floodgates are now opening. That said, I know I’m not alone in taking this ‘personally’ after such a long wait! Leeds fans must have now “been on the pitch” (metaphorically speaking) more times than the average episode of Dragon’s Den.

And finally, I couldn’t end without further mention of Scott Hogan. Or, specifically Matthew Benham and our head of medical, Neil Greig. Without their investment of faith in the player (not to mention financially or in terms of time) there’s no way we’d be celebrating his goal scoring prowess this week.

It would have been so easy to pay up his contract and let him go. Not Brentford. We’ve always treated our injured players well and boy is that being rewarded now.

Congratulations to Scott, of course. But huge thanks to Matthew and Neil.

Nick Bruzon

Can we just go straight to Plan B?

27 Sep

Mark Warburton may have a Plan B up at Rangers (I don’t know, I don’t follow the Scottish Championship that closely) but he famously didn’t have one at Brentford. Marinus, on the other hand, does but as Sheffield Wednesday left Griffin Park with all three points yesterday, Brentford fans were left wondering why Plan A doesn’t seem to be working.

For the seventh time in eight league games we fell behind before, as we did last Saturday, stepping up our game considerably in the Second half. But unlike the game against Preston, where we stormed back to a 2-1 win, this time it was Sheffield Wednesday who achieved that scoreline – a 90th minute goal on the break from Lucas João being the ultimate difference between the two teams.

View from the terrace - the HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate at that point

View from the terrace. The HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate ….at that point

We can take positives from the way the team played for the majority of the second half, despite being down to ten men. The penalty awarded for James Tarkowski’s foul on Atdhe Nuhiu with less than 40 minutes on the clock saw the giant centre forward stroke it past David Button as well as, eventually, earning a red card for the fit again centre back.

It was a strange decision (the sending off, I mean). Indecisive referee Geoff Eltringham allowing himself to be harangued by Wednesday players before consulting a linesman who, eventually, helped him come to the decision of ‘straight red’. This, despite Jake Bidwell clearly being the last man back between Nuhiu and the goalkeeper.

Nuhiu is the sort of player you’d love in your team. Physical, huge presence and a proper nuisance. And he knew the way to goal – seeing an earlier effort come back off the bar. He went to ground very easily on more than one instance yet Eltringham saw nothing wrong in his game to warrant even a talking to, let alone a yellow, at any point.

Still, if Brentford went in a man and a goal down, they did everything to start fighting their way back into the game. Jack O’Connell had a stunning effort at the back with a number of perfectly timed tackles and challenges. It was a shame he was the unfortunate man in the wrong place at the wrong time for 2-1 as Brentford were exposed, pushing for a late winner.

Likewise, Josh Clarke at right back looked very impressive, especially bringing the ball out of defence. I’d be very interested to see him playing ahead of Alan Mac at some point, with the midfielder returning to that defensive role he’d made his own in the past.

With the Bees pressing, a goal seemed likely and finally it came – from the most unlikely of assists. David Button pushed almost to the half way line to curl a cross-field ball to Alan Judge. It was an exquisite delivery from a ‘keeper whose distribution has been lambasted in the past but the execution from Judge was even better.

A perfect trap and then shot across the goal into the far corner sent the crowd wild. Even the club staff celebrated that one to a fanatical level – a moment captured by the Football League Tonight and Beesplayer cameras.

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

At 1-1 and pushing it looked as though Brentford might snatch a winner that, in the first half, had been the last thing anybody expected. Instead, when the more prudent amongst us might have reverted to Plan A and locked things up to get an unlikely point, we went for it. You can’t knock Marinus’ desire and moreso with Wednesday also down to 10 men at this point.

But with the Bees in the Sheffield box, the ball broke and once Lucas João had picked O’Connell’s pocket, not even the Herculean David Button had sufficient strength to hold back the last minute one-on-one.

It was a bitter blow and moreso, having been given the hope of a route back into a game we had no chance of being anywhere near on the first half showing. Bees stat guru Luis Melville nailed it on twitter late last night with this very telling observation:

Luis's stats remain 'the bomb' (that's a good thing, I believe)

Luis’s stats remain ‘the bomb’ (that’s a good thing, I believe)

The positive is a chance to get straight back into action on Tuesday night against a Birmingham City side that hasn’t won in three (and went down at home to Rotherham United yesterday). The negative is that we haven’t really got a huge element of team choice, given the injury crisis and suspension for Tarks. Will the players have enough in the tank for another 90 minutes – moreso, against a team containing a few familiar faces in Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson?

Away from Griffin Park, the Pele cup took place at the training ground. The great man himself was, indeed, at Jersey Road where Cliff Crown was amongst the fortunate few to meet him. Hopefully they just discussed football, football, football (and, perhaps, Escape To Victory) rather than Pele’s foray into TV advertising. I would.

A moment I never thought I'd see - Pele and the Brentford chairman.

A moment I never thought I’d see – Pele and the Brentford chairman.

And then I did it. Football League Tonight. I sat through the full 90 minutes. Or should that be, stood.

Having previously given the show a good kicking on it’s debut (one which, for the record, I still stand by) it’s been pleasing to see the gimmicks fall away and, over the weeks, Channel 5 giving us a more traditional ‘highlights package’. So when the opportunity came to be an audience member, it seemed churlish to turn it down.

Being honest, I’m impressed. What we tend to take for granted is that this is a live show. Given how soon it is transmitted after the action ends, there’s no real choice but despite the problems they suffered in the opening weeks, fair play for sticking to that element. Moreso, with the ‘random’ element of an audience.

Not as bawdy as Soccer AM but sufficiently different from the Football League Show, they have now fused the better parts of each programme. Kelly Cates is definitely the show’s shining star and the chemistry from George Riley is growing.

The audience interview still seemed a bit stilted (then again, that could just be the price you pay for talking to MK Dons fans) although I do like the idea of this quick snapshot from the ‘regular fan’ aswell as the players – Barry Bannan of Sheffield Wednesday being the man brought in to admit, small consolation, that his team and been lucky to get the win.

As for Adam Virgo – I’m still not sure what to make of him. Part footballer, part Clem, part geography teacher. He’s no Leroy (still my favourite pundit from Manish’s Football League Show) but then again, he’s no Steve Claridge and is looking a lot more confortable in the role

Does it beat the Football League Show? No, not yet. Then again, football highlights shows have been in such a set style for so long that it is a format we’ve had drilled into us. You can’t knock Channel 5 for attempting to break from the norm and, moreso, acknowledge that their initial attempts to do so were somewhat OTT.

Will I watch again? Absolutely. Many of the previous gripes have been ironed out and Kelly, especially, did a great job (catching George with one particular zinger about his age and Top of the Pops). Ultimately, the show gives us what we need – the highlights, in order, with a number of extended games.

It’s just a shame that, with more focus on Brentford, we didn’t see the Bees pick up any points. Still, there’s always Tuesday. It won’t be easy and, being honest, I’m anxious.

Then again, Griffin Park under floodlights is a magical place and, IF we can start that one like we ended this one (the goal aside!) then who knows what could happen….

Mark Burridge certainly enjoys the Judge strike (along with the rest of the video highlights)

Nick Bruzon

From Brentford and brackets to Gibraltar and San Marino.

6 Sep

Brentford fans were left scratching around for interest this weekend, with minimal satisfaction coming from the Euro qualifiers. As expected, England successfully navigated their qualifying group (the easiest since records began) whilst for Gibraltar, although they are starting to find their feet after an international baptism of fire, the Republic of Ireland still presented a tough test as they ran out 4-0 winners on Friday night. There was no Brentford involvement, beyond a brief reminiscence about Stuart Dallas for Northern Ireland although, of course, Lasse Vibe was on the bench for Denmark in a 0-0 at home to Albania.

Instead, the weekend has left more questions about those two perennial debates – ‘minnows’ and brackets. Specifically, should the ‘smaller’ teams be allowed to play with the big boys and, when conceding more than six goals just how should we signify this 7, 7 (seven), 7 (SEVEN), seven or SEVEN?

As a footballing romantic and nostalgic, I’m all for a spot of small team involvement. Equally, I won’t deny a large element of emotional involvement as, having waited years for Gibraltar to finally be given full UEFA membership, the chance to see them test themselves against the great and the good is one I’m loving.

Are they whipping boys at the moment? Unfortunately, the stats would certainly suggest that to be the case although anybody who has seen their games against the likes of Germany, Poland and the Republic will see what strides they have already made. Tougher to break down and a lot less naïve, the boys from the Rock are finding their feet, fast.

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start international life.

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start international life.

The Faroe Islands already have six points from a group in which they have overtaken former Euro Champions Greece whilst Albania have beaten Portugal in their qualifying group. This is the same Portugal who recently lost a home friendly with Cape Verde Islands.

Minnows do get stronger and regular games against a mix of opposition are the way to do it. Not shunting them aside to pre-qualifying where they can only play each other, as seems to be the common suggestion. If this is your logic then just disband qualifying all together and draw the teams for the tournament finals based on seeding.

It only seems like yesterday that England were spannering their own qualification for the World Cup as Davide Gualtieri took less than nine seconds to open the scoring for San Marino with a goal that shook the world. Both teams have grown massively since then, even if England have remained as consistently sub-par when it gets to the tournament itself (Euro 96 aside, and that one they qualified for by default).

Davide Gualtieri opened the scoring against England back in 1994

Davide Gualtieri opened the scoring against England back in 1994

Wales have stepped up the blindside in recent seasons and have moved from 117th ranked team in the world four years ago to the point where a victory against Israel on Sunday could see them deemed the second best team on the planet. Indeed, they are, surely, going to qualify for a first major finals since 1958.

Just to put that into perspective, the teams currently occupying the 117th slot are hardy those we would consider to be traditional powerhouses of international football.

The teams currently in the same spot as Wales, four years ago

The teams currently in the same spot as Wales, four years ago

I could go on. People have very short-term memories and attention spans. I hope UEFA don’t give in to the current clamour emanating from certain circles and give all their members a chance to compete on a level playing field.

That said, games such as yesterday’s 6-0 won’t help the likes of San Marino as they came awfully close to a 7(seven) -0 bracketing. That’s a result that Gibraltar have experienced a couple of times in early qualifying whilst, domestically, former Brentford player/manager Nicky Forster was the unlucky recipient as his Staines Town side went down by that infamous scoreline to Brentwood Town in the Ryman Premier on Saturday.

Nicky Forster (left) formally the deliverer rather than recipient of 7(seven)

Nicky Forster (left) formally the deliverer rather than recipient of 7(seven)

And, as ever in these circles, it prompted the usual questions as to how this should be recorded. One local journalist ended up very much insistent about it being an unbracketed, headline grabbing, SEVEN. For somebody who then used twitter to rally against the vide printer favourite, saying: “Will live in the here and now”, the irony of his bio describing himself as “Ex Woking FC striker” was not lost.

There are others that love the bracket but insist it should be 7 (SEVEN). I’ll spare the regular reader another lecture on the unsubtly and bad sportsmanship of this. A brash, block-capitalled effect to really push home the point that someone has been on the wrong end of a thrashing. It’s gloating for the sake of it.

Clearly, an emotional subject and I don’t think we’ll ever, all, agree. Football is a modern game and one that continues to grow. That said, what’s the harm in a little bit of nostalgia along the way?

And finally, Channel 5 and Football League Tonight. Much as the minnows have been going from strength to strength on the pitch, the same can be said about the latest newcomers off it.

Saturday night was the latest point in case as, despite it being International weekend we actually had a show. In days gone by, Manish and team were shunted to one side when the Championship teams had a break, despite full fixture list in both Leagues One and Two.

So fairplay to Kelly, George and the rest of the production team for still bringing us a show. The disasters that plagued the series openers are a distant memory already and, last night, the biggest problem seemed to be Adam Virgo. More to the point, his sporting of a collared shirt with the top button done up but no tie.

Yet if a pundit’s dress sense (something all channels have suffered from over the years) is the worst we’ve got to worry about then things must definitely be moving in the right direction.

Rio Ferdinand and the BBC panel have had their own fashion problems

Rio Ferdinand and the BBC panel have had their own fashion problems

Nick Bruzon

Injury blues, red cards, 3 points and the verdict on Football League Tonight

16 Aug

A Bees win by any scoreline will do me. At the end of a difficult week, it would be a shot in the arm for everyone.” Not my words but those of Brentford CEO Mark Devlin ahead of our trip to Bristol City. However, even he would have been doing well to predict the outcome of this one as the Bees surged to third place in the fledgling table. And after the game there was the latest attempt from Chanel 5 to restore some credibility to the terrestrial highlights with the latest episode of Football League Tonight.

A 4-2 scoreline only tells half the story of a game that saw City end with ten men after Luke Freeman was shown a straight red by referee Keith Stroud (who else??) for a boot to the head of Harlee Dean. Indeed, the hosts were lucky not to end on 9 after James Tarkowski suffered what Marinus described as a ‘badly broken nose’ following an elbow from City captain Aaron Wilbraham.

Tarks posted this post match selfie on Twitter

Tarks posted this post match selfie on Twitter

Goals from Alan Judge and Andre Gray sandwiched an o.g. from Derrick Williams. Philipp Hofmann rounded things off to complete a heavy win for Brentford who made it six goals, and unbeaten, from our opening two league games. As ever, should you want the full match report then I’d suggest the BBC, official site or Beesotted.

Moreso as I had to give this one a wide berth for family reasons, so wasn’t even able to follow on Beesplayer although social media suggest that might not have been such a bad thing in this instance.

Roxeth on Beesplayer

Who provided the summary? And was this tongue in cheek?

Bees fans would have been ecstatic to see Andre starting, despite the constant rumours linking him with a move from Griffin Park. Marinus made it quite clear after the game that we want to keep him although was unclear if that would happen, adding “there is a lot of money in England and sometimes money talks”.

It does now beg the question as to whether Matthew Benham will look to ‘cash in’ or make Andre an offer he can’t refuse (although presumably not Vito Corleone style). Just how much is a player who can find the back of the net so frequently worth?

Besides, would Brentford really want to lose another player after the awful run of form that saw Andreas Bjelland join the long term casualty list in midweek with a cruciate injury that has ruled him out for the season? And to that you can also add Jota who missed the Bristol City game with an ankle problem. It is an injury that Marinus subsequently told Beesplayer would see him “ out for three or four months.

Nobody needs any reminding of the Spanish midfielder’s ability and this may also go some way to explaining the shenanigans at the end of the Ipswich Town game, where he and Jonathan Douglas appeared to have had a falling out. It was one which culminated in the former Bee swinging an arm at Jota as the Bees celebrated our last minute draw.

Eagle eyed Beesplayer viewers saw Dougie's 'girly slap'

Eagle eyed Beesplayer viewers saw Dougie’s ‘girly shove’

Still, if this was more bad news for Marinus after our cup exit, I have to give him huge credit for the team he picked. After criticising our head coach for his post match reaction towards his young players on Tuesday (something I stand by), fair play for naming Jermaine Udumaga, Josh Clarke and Courtney Senior on the bench for a high pressure game.

The other thing to catch the attention yesterday was an uncanny parallel to the last time we played Bristol City, a 3-1 win at Griffin Park back in January 2014.

That was a game which also saw City gift the Bees an own goal, from Aden Flint. Whilst Derrick Williams was the provider this time around, that previous match also saw him struggle with what was described at the time as, “The worst free kick I’ve ever seen…. rather than deliver a killer deadball into the box from 25 yards, (he) simply bobbled the ball directly out of play for a goal kick to Brentford. It went closer to the corner flag than the goal and was an effort that made Miguel Llera seem like Gazza.”

And so to the real elephant in the room – Channel 5. Saturday night saw their latest attempt to replace Manish and crew with ‘Football League Tonight’. Their opening show of the season had, rightly, been met with a barrage of almost universal despair as swiveling league tables, awkward audience members, confused pundits and cringey ‘banter’ all nestled alongside the random sequence of match highlights to make a show that was messier than James Tarkowski’s nose.

Well, let’s give Channel 5 some credit. Whilst not, officially, acknowledging their previous failings, Kelly Cates strode in front of the cameras to announce that, “Over the next ninety minutes we’ll bring you all of the goals and the best of the action – in order.

And that’s what we got. The league ladders that looked as though they have been plonked on kebab shop skewers remained although at least they waited until the end of the Championship highlights to show them. And then, they had already been ‘rotated’.

The awkward looking audience members were another reminder of last week’s season opener – something I understand will be remaining (watch this space…) – whilst Jamie Cureton’s trousers were somewhat disconcerting. Actually, just the presence of Jamie Cureton is somewhat disconcerting although us Brentford fans have personal reasons on that score.

However, overall you have to say that, much like Marinus against Oxford , the team at Channel 5 have learnt from their mistakes.

Some things remained despite 'lessons learned' for Channel 5

Some things remained despite ‘lessons learned’ for Channel 5

Nick Bruzon

Will Brentford be above Bristol City in the football league tonight?

15 Aug

Brentford travel to Bristol City today, with several obvious questions on everybody’s lips. Can we bounce back from the midweek humbling at home to Oxford United in the Capital One Cup? Will Andre Gray be ‘ready’ to start after speculation continued to link him to Hull City and, erm, today’s opponents? Who will be fit for the Bees? And can Channel 5 salvage anything from their ‘Football League Tonight’ show after last week’s car crash of a season opener.

First up, Bristol City. Well the good news is that we can expect 11 changes from the team thrashed by Oxford United. The not so good news is that Andreas Bjelland’s replacement will be an enforced one after the first half injury he suffered turned out to be severe cruciate damage that will keep him out for the entire season.

Andreas Bjelland in pre-season

Andreas Bjelland in pre-season

One can only wish him well after this most awful of starts to his life at Griffin Park. Interestingly, Marinus ruled out our playing surface as being a contributory factor, although it was something he had already acknowledged in his Beesplayer interview as, “more dangerous than a good pitch.”

This is a cruel twist of fate for our record signing and sees him join the ranks of Scott Hogan, Lewis Macleod and Josh McEachran as potentially game changing players who have come to Brentford but then seen injury rob them of the chance, so far, to impress.

On the more positive side, Marinus also confirmed that Alan Judge and Harlee Dean are both fit to return (expect to see the later line up alongside James Tarkowski at centre back) although Jota (ankle) and Nico Yennaris (dead leg) are doubts. As for Andre Gray, the impact he made against Ipswich Town last weekend was clear for all to see and one can only hope he is going to begin the game against Bristol City. Certainly, Marinus remained a lot more upbeat on that front, when pressed on the latest speculation, saying: “No news. I expect he will be playing on Saturday”.

Another player who could feature, although I expect it will be too soon, is new right back Maxime Colin. The former French U-20 signed yesterday from FSC Anderlecht, providing competition in the wake of Moses Odubajo moving to Hull. I’d still expect Alan McCormack to begin today but it will be very interesting to see how this latest new player performs when he pulls on the red and white stripes.

My prediction for today’s starting XI: Button, Bidwell, Dean, Tarkowski, McCormack, Diagouraga, Kerschbaumer, Gogia, Judge, Hofmann, Gray

Max Colin - no truth that the signing shirt has to be replaced as it is full of holes

Max Colin – no truth that the signing shirt has to be replaced as it is full of holes

As for the Oxford United game, it is done. Let’s all put it behind us. Move along, nothing to see here.

Marinus was man enough to admit, ”Maybe I was a little bit naïve about the game” and, no matter how well our opponents played (which was ‘very’) we all know that was nowhere close to the Brentford FC starting XI. It promises to be a tough match today against a Bristol City team making their first Championship appearance in front of their home fans after last season’s promotion and so expect a passionate, full house.

That said, Brentford have come out smiling from tough venues in the past. Last season gave us an excellent grounding for Championship life and so I don’t expect atmosphere to be a factor.

Instead, the challenge will be for the team to carry on where they left off against Ipswich Town and try to find a way past former Bees ‘keeper Ben Hamer in the City goal. Matthew Benham used Twitter last night to acknowledge the role Ben had played for the Bees and few who had seen him in action could disagree.

Well said Matthew

Well said Matthew

Ashton Gate or Beesplayer are the obvious places to see how things do pan out today but, if you are feeling particularly masochistic, how about avoiding the scores until 9pm and then tuning in to Channel 5 and Football League Tonight?

No. Seriously!

Surely, there can be no way this week’s show can be as bad as what was served up last week as the alternative to Manish and team? My own thoughts on their effort have been well documented and mirrored those of supporters up and down the land.

Presumably George, Kelly and the production team have taken some of the criticism about format on board. It IS a tough challenge to try and do something different and the basic elements are in place – decent presenters and League football. It was everything else, from start to finish, that was wrong about a show which is going to have to adapt, fast, to survive.

Can they do it? At 9pm we find out.

Nick Bruzon

Brentford do have a Plan B. And Plan C

9 Aug

Brentford have done it again. 2-0 down at home to Ipswich Town and with the clock showing 90, injury time goals from Andre Gray and James Tarkowski gave us a point that saw the reign of Marinus Dijkhuizen get off to an incredible start.

Did we deserve it? Just. The Bees looked very solid early on with Judge and Gogia linking wonderfully. Jota showed his appetite for goal has not diminished over the summer (well saved Bartosz Bialkowski in the Ipswich goal) but then things hit the skids with about 20 minutes left in the first half.

The defence started to stretch and the goal, just before half time, was an inevitable consequence as Kevin Bru made it 1-0. Still, if that was bad the second, just the other side of the break, was even sloppier as Ryan Fraser was given the freedom of the Griffin Park penalty box to make it 0-2 Ipswich.

View from the stands - Bru celebrates (too early) as Ipswich open the scoring

View from the stands – Bru celebrates as Ipswich score and one steward seems to go a bit ‘Cantona’

But fairplay to Marinus. He went for broke – not even waiting until the 60th minute for a substitution. Andre Gray replaced Konstantin Kerschbaumer on 54 and then Lasse Vibe came on for Alan McCormack for the final twenty minutes.

With three strikers on the pitch simultaneously, could the Bees make it work?

Well, despite Vibe missing a glorious opportunity, Andre latched on to a long ball over the top and, one on one with Bialkowski, kept his nerve to halve the deficit two minutes in to the five that referee Coote had added on. Marinus told Billy Reeves after the game that the young striker “was not mentally ready to start so we had a common decision to keep him on the bench and if we need him, then we bring him.”

What a response from a player that the head coach also admitted “Yes. Maybe” when asked if he would be on his way, following further transfer speculation.

And then, with moments left, the place really went bonkers. With David Button up for a corner, the ball hit the crossbar and seemed to hang in the air for an eternity before James Tarkowski stabbed it home through a sea of players with pretty much the last touch of the game.

It was the sort of bundled effort we’d seen Jonathan Douglas score time and again last season as Griffin Park exploded. Even better, we’ve stopped taking corners short and, guess what, scored from one.

View from the stands: Don't. Take it. Short. Ok then - goal !!!!

View from the stands: Don’t. Take it. Short. Ok then – goal !!!!

And talking of Dougie, there IS life without him. Understandably, the new look team are going to take a few games to gel whilst transfer speculation and the playing surface didn’t help anybody. But can we read anything into Dougie coming on after 78 minutes with the visitors cruising and the final result? I’ll leave that one to you.

The other major talking point from the game was the state of the pitch. Looking about an inch deep, laid on top of builder’s sand, what on earth has happened to it? Regardless of the huge chunks being kicked out of the turf, I can’t help but think somebody could get a serious injury such was the way it was cutting up.

Whilst the ‘official’ Beesplayer postmatch interview with Marinus edited out his comments on the surface, the BBC have them in full c/o of Billy Reeves (who I must also congratulate on his very brave choice of tie – if you saw it, you’ll know)

He asked the question of Marinus and got the answer. “The pitch is a disaster. Its awful, unbelievable. In preseason Boreham Wood had a good pitch…here it’s terrible.”

Even Channel 5 failed to make it look good on their new look highlight’s package But then that was such a car crash of a football show that they’d have failed to make Cameron Diaz look good. And Bees fans, if you want my full review on that (including the best of Twitter) you can read that here – think Mick Fleetwood and Samantha Fox presenting the Brits.

It was a point also noted by the Ipswich fans who, I have to say, were in great form. Talking after the game in particular, you could have forgiven them for some frustration after what would have been seen as a ‘smash and grab’ from Brentford. Instead, there was almost a relief that football was back combined with a resignation that she has lost none of her ability to kick supporters in the nuts.

We’ll be doing well to top this level of excitement over the next 45 games but, knowing Brentford, I’m sure they’ll give it their very best shot.

And talking of ‘best shots’  – special credit to Andre Gray. I have no idea about what is happening behind the scenes but I’m desperate for us to hang on to him. It was an ice cool finish at a high pressure moment.

We want you to stay” sang the crowd. That chant didn’t work on Alex Pritchard and, whilst perhaps a somewhat futile gesture, you can fully understand the sentiment.

Did he hear it? Will he listen? Prove me wrong !

Nick Bruzon

Life after Manish – Football League Tonight crashes on Channel 5 launch

9 Aug

Channel 5 launched their brand new Football League highlights show on Saturday night and it’s fair to say that the reaction has been universal. As an act of bringing fans together, they achieved the impossible as supporters of Brentford, Ipswich Town, Wolves, Hull City, Leeds United – infact just about every league club you could mention – took to Twitter to vilify 5’s new ‘Football League Tonight’ Show.

Quite literally, where do you start? When it was announced that Manish, Leroy, Clem and the rest of the BBC team would be losing the highlights package after 6 years nobody could have imagined what we’d be left with. Indeed, the much trumpeted announcement of a 9pm start time had many of us lightweights genuinely pleased. No longer would the League highlights be an afterthought tagged on catch those who had fallen asleep during Match of the Day.

To make this worse, the choice of Saturday night viewing is a normally awful selection. Something involving Ant and Dec; a singing competition; Casualty. BBC2 at 9pm was screaming out for Clem yet we were forced to wait up until gone midnight for the chance to catch our team in action.

Clem  - much missed. Washing his hands of responsibility for what came next?

Clem – much missed. Washing his hands of responsibility for what came next?

But where the BBC lost out in terms of timeslot, they had everything else spot on. A charismatic host; great pundits; genuine humour from Leroy ; a decent amount of match action; Clem doing his thing up and down the country (and the regular reader knows there’s enough material on that topic to fill a book….)

Most importantly though, they had good highlights. In order.

Words cannot describe just how bad Channel 5’s replacement was. It got off to a fantastic start with a 9pm kick off and that’s about the only positive thing you can say about the show. Despite the potentially decent pairing of George Riley and Kelly Cates, the rest of it was a jarring car crash of a show that made me yearn for Clem.

Football highlights aren’t a hard thing to get right. Show the games in some sort of order and give some interesting analysis. Yet 5 threw that concept out of the window and left us with what was, quite possibly, the worst attempt at a football show since Colin Murray was let loose on us.

The show switched back and forth between divisions in a bizarre manner that suggested the running order had been picked out via car keys in a bowl. The studio audience (why? why? why?) stood around looking awkward yet when one was asked a question, they’d forgotten to even have a microphone ready.

Take me out - please

Take me out – please

The garish and cluttered set looked as if it had been designed by a school kid on day 1 of work experience whilst low budget rotating ‘league ladders’ resembled something left over from a 1970s episode of Blue Peter. And then there was Martin Allen…..

Usually good for a quote, the former Brentford and Gillingham boss didn’t even seem sure of what was going on (much like the audience). “We’ve got Millwall. I think they came down from the Championship” he opined at one point although did provide just one of many moments of unintentional comedy when George invited him to give some opinion on a goal his side had conceeded.

Here you go then, talk me through this” was met with some nervous laughter and the eventual reply “What do you want me to say?”

I could go on. We’re stuck with them for three years but the problems aren’t hard to fix. Show the games, in some sort of order. Cut the studio audience; give us some decent analysis. Just cut to the chase and show the bloody action rather than a level of banter that makes Jeremy Kyle look like Panorama.

When the producers saw that the show was trending on Twitter, they must have been ecstatic, until they read some of the comments. And here are just a few….

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 05.56.26

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 05.56.49

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 05.57.06

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 05.57.18

Manish FLT

Nick Bruzon 

Can Matthew Benham prove Clem wrong? Dr Evil??

12 May

With Brentford and Middlesbrough preparing for the return leg of their Championship play off, I saw an interesting piece in The Times yesterday from Mark Clemmit aka Clem of BBC Football League show fame. A well known Middlesbrough fan himself, he used the column to give his own opinions on Matthew Benham’s commitment to the well documented statistical model he intends to implement at Brentford next season.

Regular readers will know of my admiration for Clem’s reporting technique and the somewhat light hearted approach to statistical analysis that had been undertaken in the weekly ‘Clemwatch’ feature. Long regarded as the harbinger of doom by football supporters, he only saw the team he selected for feature on that evening’s BBC show win 7 (seven) times all season.

Clem finished his season at Watford - who lost the title in the 90th minute

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

It was, as such, somewhat ironic to see him casting his oar into the murky water of statistics in an attempt to analyse Matthew’s plans. Although not as ironic as the fact that he was reportedly at Griffin Park on Friday, overseeing the home team fail to record a win. Again. That said, I’m sure Clem would take it as his beloved Middlesbrough chalking up another victory, regardless of his presence.

Regardless, I’d certainly recommend you try and get hold of this article if possible. And if Mark Warburton is reading, certainly a nice one to add to his future CV. Whilst acknowledging the success, so far, of ‘the model’ for FC Midtjylland in Denmark, Clem certainly seemed to land on the side of the traditional managerial structure over key performance indicators and mathematical analysis.

Fairplay to Clem for trying to balance this out, although his description of Matthew’s Smartodds HQ as “A cross between a giant dealing room and (from the Austin Powers movies) Dr Evil’s underground lair” was one that put all sorts of confused imagery into my head. If for no other reason than who would have been Evil’s mini-me and who his number 2?

Is Matthew Benham's HQ really reminiscent of Doctor Evil's lair?

Talk to the hand. Is Matthew Benham’s HQ really reminiscent of Doctor Evil’s lair?

Ultimately, nobody knows how this is going to pan out. Mark Warburton could be making a huge mistake in walking away from, potentially, the most progressive move in English football since Jimmy Hill proposed ‘three points’ for a win. I can say one thing though, Warbs will be doing his level best to make sure that the model is road tested in the Premiership. He has shown the fans and the team nothing but the most impressive personal performance since the news broke and , I have no doubt, that will continue.

Friday night will see our biggest game, to date, in living memory. And if you wanted even more intrigue, I saw a statistic that said Middlesbrough haven’t lost an evening game at the Riverside in six years. I have no idea if that is true or urban legend but, regardless, nobody can doubt the calibre of the opposition.

Given how much this game is worth, I’m sure the jinx-conscious amongst us will hope that Clem is in attendance once again. Moreso that Matthew, Warbs and the team give him plenty more to think about.

As we saw in last night’s game between Swindon and Sheffield United, which finished 7(seven) – 6(so close) on aggregate, anything is possible in the play offs. On Friday night, we find out what happens in this one.