Tag Archives: Marco Djuricin

Three years on, can anybody get past Sergi?

28 Apr

Yesterday was one of those wonderful days for Brentford fans. Not the fact that it was three years since ‘that’ penalty, although the club did make a point of this (to the minute) on ‘official’ Twitter. More, that Liverpool loanee Sergi Canos has given us another reason to recognise his brilliance as the goal of the season video was released.

First up though (and briefly) it shows how far we’ve come that the crossbar affair can now held up as some sort of anniversary. If not one to be overly celebrated then certainly something that will never be forgotten. That can only be a good thing too because it hadn’t really been mentioned by anybody. Ever. Out of adversity comes triumph and all that.

Certainly the Bees picked themselves up in some style and despite the heartbreaking play-off defeat at ‘The W place’, the rest is history

Nobody particularly needs another discourse from me on the subject. There’s been plenty written already about the subsequent fall out and Brentford’s spectacular surge to the fringes of the Premier League although if you would like to read more etc etc…  (hey, it’s been a while).

No, the main reason for yesterday’s excitement was because it saw the contenders for goal of the season released. And with voting now open, there’s an incredible shortlist for the Sergi Canos v Reading (a) award.

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Bees Player viewers see Sergi celebrate that incredible effort

Yet, yet, yet. Is the winner such a foregone conclusion? Yes, it was a strike that the rewind button (or is it a ‘back arrow’ these days?)  was specifically made for but there are some other wonderful moments in there.

Ryan Woods in the same game was pretty special too whilst you can only admire Lasse Vibe’s acrobatics v MK Dons. How about Marco Djuricin’s quite wonderful control and turn to put himself in a goal scoring position against Preston North End or the unadulterated emotion of his winner agasint the Loftus Road mob?

John Swift hit a beauty against Bolton whilst there’s a fantastic four from Alan Judge. That’s a third of the entire shortlist dedicated to one man alone yet each of them ‘A rated’ class!

That said, as one Ealing Road observer would later note – “It would be nice for Judge not to win an award, just to give him a rest and stop him getting up and down all night.

Can anybody outclass Sergi?

Twelve absolute stunners and whoever does win, there won’t be any complaints. For me (Clive) despite all of this there’s still no getting past Canos. But if you don’t take my word for it (and frankly, why would anybody?) then there are two other tell-tale signs.

First up,  Mark Burridge’s commentary. You’ll find the two Reading goals about four minutes in and, it’s fair to say, our commentator par-excellence has a moment to rival his infamous ‘Burridgegasm‘. The one when Jota scored ’Brentford’s goal of the 21st Century?’ against Blackburn Rovers last season .

Secondly, Sam Saunders. The regular reader may be aware our number 7(seven) is my favourite player. We all have one and, for me, it’s Sam.

In a way I’m glad his run and strike against Leeds United wasn’t on the shortlist. It would have made the vote a much trickier one. For about two seconds.

Yet whilst questioning it’s absence on social media last night, none other than the great man himself popped up to reply that the “celebration was worth it alone” before making the  magnanimous acknowledgement that, “only winner young Sergi

If it’s good enough for the man who has made those wonderful strikes from ’Saunders territory’ his own over the years, then who are we to argue?

Sergi. Better get that speech ready for the awards night.

The master has spoken 

Nick Bruzon

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We Came. We Saw. We Capitulated. But who is Brentford’s secret Zoolander?

13 Mar

QPR 43% Brentford 57%. What an afternoon! The Bees marched into Loftus Road hoping to achieve a rare double over our fiercest of local rivals and left it as clear and outright winners in the possession stats. It was as dominant and comprehensive a display of ball control as we could have hoped for going into a game of this nature and the Bees came out on top.

That QPR scored 3 goals to our 0 is almost a moot point. With head coach Dean Smith opting not to play a recognised striker but, instead, having diminutive Alan Judge operating as the advanced midfielder (or ‘false 9’, as I saw bandied around !?) in a 4-6-0 formation, its hardly a surprise.

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Questionable decision making yesterday

Those expecting vitriol towards the players aren’t going to get it. Go to Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere. You could see what this meant to the likes of Alan McCormack and Harlee Dean. Our number 6 seemed to be in tears at the end of it and had to be directed towards those who remained of the 3,000 Bees fans. Nico Yennaris continues to grow and Sergi Canos impressed until he was, oddly in my eyes, removed from the field of play at the first substitution.

But despite the best efforts of Woods and Canos, speculative shots from distance don’t usually win games. It worked, once, at Reading, when two world class goals won us the match but that’s very much the exception to the rule. Instead, get the ball into the centre forward. Or forwards . Ryan Woods hit the post and KK had one tipped over late on but that was the only save of note I recall QPR ‘keeper Alex Smithies having to make.

Why Dean Smith chose over an hour of the derby, away from home, to mess about with an experimental formation missing any form of traditional centre forward I have genuinely no idea. Moreso, what on earth does it say about his thoughts on the development squad if picking nobody was deemed a more positive alternate to chucking one of the youngsters in to see how they coped?

Highlights – of sorts

Seriously? What just what was that team selection about? Or is he reading these pages?(no)

Comments during the week of “One would presume Macca will be brought in for QPR …. The only question being who fills the role of ineffectual striker – Hofmann, Djuricin or Vibe” and then yesterday morning of “We could play John Swift in goal with Harlee Dean up front and nobody would care if it meant getting on the 237 home with all three points in our back pocket” were meant in an ironic sense.

Not to be met with respective answers of “nobody” and “Not Harlee. But why not try the smallest man on the pitch who, whilst uber-skillful, isn’t a centre forward

What point was he trying to prove? Whatever it was it certainly didn’t work, no matter how much Dean thinks we were in that game . But hey, “We go again”. Right now I don’t want to overly dwell on it. Abject disappointment is the over-arching emotion. This is what it must feel like to be the parent who says, “I’m not angry. I just feel very let down”.

Brentford fans were reported to be fighting amongst each other and I saw a lot of anger being demonstrated towards those deemed ‘not loyal’, simply for sitting down or not singing Oldham’s song on 90 minute loop. The irony of the pair delivering that particular tirade at one chap in the front row then, between them, failing to return for the second half and slinking out after the third goal was not lost.

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Brentford fans try to ‘up’ the noise levels

Behind me, the emotion had clearly got to another fan who had been giving a running commentary down the phone to his, presumably, better half during the second half. Even this call reached a sad denouement with the line, “Yes. I love you my darling. But we’re sh*t. Now please f**k off” .

Whether right or wrong, this is what it meant to supporters and choosing such a ridiculous time and place to experiment in this fashion shows just how badly Dean Smith called this one.

Still, out of darkness comes light. In a week that has seen Beesotted administer a gentle probing to Matthew Benham and Greville Waterman present his voluminous list of questions to Phil Giles in that marathon two hour interview, the Last Word has its own exclusive.

Who is Brentford’s next top model?

Half time was lit up when BBC Billy Reeves responded to a call of his name by performing a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ touchline sashay. Part Moonwalker, part Zoolander it was as smooth a transition from casual stroll to C&A model as you could ever hope to see. As one terrace wag noted ,” He accelerated from zero to catwalk in 1.2 seconds”.

If only we’d been able to show some blue steel yesterday.

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Is there no end to Billy’s talents?

Nick Bruzon

Who will come out on top as Brentford and QPR meet again?

12 Mar

Shepherds Bush. Home of the hell on earth that is Westfield. Currently closed music venue The Empire. That now defunct Australian pub. Oh, and also to our near neighbours QPR.

And, for one afternoon , it will also be full of the Brentford faithful. The time has finally come to take the short trip up the road for a West London derby that sees the Bees aiming to make it 6 points out of 6 against the Loftus Road mob for this season. Our 1-0 win at Griffin Park in front of the Sky cameras at the end of October was a victory that secured Championship ‘manager of the month’ for Lee Carsley and has given us recent bragging rights. But can we do it again?

More importantly, can form go out of the window? Let’s hope so. The happy hoops have won 2 out of 3 and have only lost 2 in 10 whilst, for Brentford, it is a case of “Move along please. Nothing to see here”.

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An explosive encounter awaits

That game at Griffin Park earlier in the season was one in which Alan Judge and Toumani Diagouraga shone as they bossed the midfield. The Judge has maintained his imperious form, managing to notch up 14 goals along the way and put himself in pole position for Euro 2016 selection this summer. Toumani, of course, is now at Leeds United but in his place we have the potential return of Alan McCormack.

Looking through social media and reading the player’s comments themselves, here is somebody who has the feel of what this game means. There’ll probably be some form of mini meltdown from certain quarters if Macca doesn’t feature today – such is the respect he commands and the physical presence of a man who has become somewhat of an icon for the Griffin Park faithful with his ‘take no prisoners’ approach’ .

Then again, we could play John Swift in goal with Harlee Dean up front and nobody would care if it meant getting on the 237 home with all three points in our back pocket. For all that we have our favourites and those players whom, being honest, we might not have on our teamsheet, today is all about backing the Bees together.

Whoever is picked, in whatever position, the most important thing is doing the double over our rivals after that wonderful night in October.

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October at Griffin Park – Brentford beat QPR 1-0

As for the most influential man on the pitch, our referee is Fred Graham. Whatever you may think of the man in the middle, Brentford’s own king of stats tells me that, “For all the ‘need a sign’ merchants there’s this… Ref fact: No team that begins with the letter ‘B’ has lost when Mr Graham has refereed this season.”

There’ll be close to 3000 visiting supporters crammed into the limited capacity of the Loftus Road away end. Rest assured , that although half the size of what we’ve taken to Fulham (due to ticketing allocation) we’ll be just as noisy. People just seem so up for this one.

For those who can’t make it, there is always Bees Player. Mark Burridge, ably assisted by Ciaran Brett, is the man to guide you through the 90 minutes of action.

I’ve said it before but Mark and Ciaran are fast becoming by favourite commentary matchup since the halcyon days of Billy Reeves and Chris Wickham forming their ‘axis of excitement’. The likes of Natalie Sawyer and Luis Melville are gone, but not forgotten, whilst recent co-pundit of football Mark Chapman seems to have hung up his microphone. However, whilst they all brought their own unique insight to the seat, an unfettered Ciaran is going a long way to standing out as a very intelligent co-host.

Whichever you follow the action today – at the ground, on BBC digital radio with Phil Parry & Billy Reeves (switching to all platforms at FT) via TV , the Internet or ‘Player’  – there are sure to be voluminous amounts of Bees desperately urging their team on to a repeat of October.

I’m surprisingly optimistic about this one though. Forget the current form or a hard fought 1-0, I’ve got a feeling there’s another ‘Fulham away’ coming up. How good would that be?

See you there.

Dallas montage Brentford

could we do this again in the ‘away’ derby?

Nick Bruzon

Time for a few people to man up ?

9 Mar

Well that couldn’t have worked out much worse for Brentford last night had we tried. With the Bees game at Hull City P-P due to the Tigers’ FA Cup commitments, all we could do was sit back and watch as Rotherham United beat Middlesbrough, Charlton and MK Dons picked up a point in their own relegation choke off and the gap to the bottom three closed to eight points . Over in West London rivals QPR beat play off bound Derby County to make further ground over the Bees and put them in good spirit for the weekend. Hey, at least Fulham lost at home to table topping Burnley.

Ah, table topping Burnley for whom Andre Gray did it again. The division’s leading scorer grabbed the winner for the Clarets, taking his own personal total to 22 for the season and showing the Bees just what we’ve missed out on. With James Tarkowski also on the bench last night, don’t under estimate just how strong we were last season and what the consequences of our chosen transfer policy have been on the pitch.

Andre Gray for 3-0

View from the terrace – Andre used to get goals for us

We didn’t punch above our weight then but deserved what we got. On merit. The same can be said for this season where a succession of head coaches and multiple high profile departures (who have largely, on the evidence so far, been poorly replaced) has seen us sliding down the table with a series of woeful performances over 2016.

This calendar year alone has seen us lose 8 out of the 11 ‘competitive’ games we’ve featured in, although there was nothing competitive about the performances at Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton or home to Walsall and Charlton. As for the Burnley game, had it been a boxing match then the referee would have stopped it by halftime for Brentford’s own safety.

With Rotherham winning three games in a row and Charlton making it 4 points out of 6, is safety still the guaranteed position that we’ve been taking for granted as our form has continued to fall apart ? 5 defeats out of the last 6 in the league could easily become 6 out of 7, and then a potential 5 points off relegation, if we don’t pull our fingers out. And fast.

Short of Alan McCormack (just back from fitness) and Scott Hogan (surely far too soon) Dean Smith has tried just about every combination of players available to him. So what does he do and, more importantly, how does he motivate? One would presume Macca will be brought in for QPR to add some steel and experience to our midfield but, other than that, the team has no choice but to pick itself. The only question being who fills the role of ineffectual striker – Hofmann, Djuricin or Vibe. And I’m sorry but with only 12 goals in 2016 and Alan Judge miles out in front as our leading scorer, it IS a serious concern .

Look, I don’t want to be over critical. I want to enjoy the derby on Saturday and a win at Loftus Road but this is now the time for Phil, Rasmus and Dean to properly ‘man up’. They’ve selected these players and pick this team. There must be something about them that we just aren’t seeing a on a regular basis.

Is it the motivational factor behind closed doors? Is it a case of too many cooks? Is it the formation ? Is it the lack of experienced heads out there? Aside from Jake, Harlee, the Judge and David Button this is a new squad.

Or is it simply that no squad could cope with losing the likes Jota, Grigg, Gray, Odubajo, Dallas, Tarkowski. Diagouraga and even, dare I say it, Douglas?

Either way, something needs to change and fast. Otherwise, the Bees will find themselves sucked towards the relegation battle whether we think we’re too good for it or not . Personally, I think we’ll dodge it but I’d be a much happier man if we can get the win at QPR and start to put all this behind us.

Three points and Dean Smith will be the best thing since sliced bread (Warburtons?). Lose and in the eyes of many he could be toast.Longer term, of course, there are huge questions to be answered about recruitment – in and out. For now though, could we just all focus on the job at hand?

The 1-0 victory at Griffin Park was one of the highlights of the season. Oh, to be able to do it again on Saturday…

SWIFT Brentford QPR

October at Griffin Park – could we do it again ?

Nick Bruzon

Where’s the game plan? Who’s pulling the strings?

6 Mar

What’s the point? Were it not for my son asking when he could come and see the Bees again, I’d struggle to care after that turgid display. Well done Charlton on getting your three points but I hope they are the last you get all season. Quite simply, I can’t see Brentford picking up any more if we ‘play’ (and I use the word in the loosest sense) like we did yesterday. As such, we’re going to need the likes of MK Dons, Bolton, Rotherham and Charlton to make sure they go down for us.

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By the second half, supporters were struggling

Words can’t describe how bad our 2-1 defeat was yesterday. Just take a look around social media for an idea of what people’s feelings are. To go behind after just 19 seconds was inept enough but for that to then have the result that, “The gameplan is forgot about ” (the word is forgotten, Dean) is just shameless. Then again if the plan B that we saw for the remaining 89 minutes and 41 seconds of the game was anything to go by then one can only wonder how bad things would have been Brentford had been able to stick to the original one.

What was that gameplan, exactly? Give it to Judge and hope he bails us out? Again. Only the Irishman, Ryan Woods and Mceachran(in patches) came out of that with any credit.

Swift clearly isn’t. David Button was at fault for the winning goal as his hash of a cross gave Charlton’s Harriott all the time in he world to waltz around the holes in the Brentford defence and pick a spot for his second goal of the afternoon. If ever you needed another example of this team’s reliance on our goalkeeper then here it is.

Like watching a kitten on a record player” was how one terrace wag described it. I’d also have accepted “headless chickens” or “spinning around like a drunk propellor“.

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Are we making a move in the loan window?

Canos wasn’t at the races whilst the jury is very much out on Djuricin who fluffed a wonderful chance just prior to Barbet’s solitary moment of hope for the Bees. That goal, direct from a Judge corner (another assist for the one other invaluable part of our team), came at the denouement of the minute’s applause to commemorate the life of supporter Dean Langford. It was a wonderful moment and should have sparked the Bees back to life.

Instead we allowed ourselves to descend back into abject inadequacy. The irony of Dean Smith using his programme notes to say, “We will have to make sure that this afternoon we do not fall into the same trap that we did last week at Rotherham United.” That worked well, then.

Nick Pope in the Charlton goal didn’t have to make a save all game from what I recall. Forget testing the Pope’s faith, I’d just like if we could have tested his hands. Yet again, all the possession in the world counting for nothing if you can’t do anything with the ball.

Blah. What’s the point of criticising what we all saw? The recruitment model is clearly yet to pay dividends whilst the further loss of skill and experience in the January window is really showing just how frustrating a decision that was . Moreso, given it was one that with FFP compliance met with the summer sales, as confirmed by Cliff at the fans forum earlier in the season, we’d been assured that there would be no requirement to relinquish players in the period just gone.

Who’s to blame? Dean? Phil and Rasmus? The players? More to the point, where is our motivation coming from? Lee Carsley had us back to last season’s form so why did he step away so soon? Just WHO is pulling he strings?

Seeing a squad decimated and lightweight replacements, if any, brought in isn’t great for morale. Of course I’ll keep behind the Bees but it doesn’t mean I’m particularly enjoying what is happening at the moment. Is it that much to get the ball to our striker (hint: how about two ?) and asking them to have a shot.

Yesterday we talked up the possibility of being able to finish top ten. Based on that I’d be very happy for top twenty and survival.

Still, it’s only the trip to QPR on Saturday. That’s just another game. No need for anybody to give a sh*t .

I’ll be there but, frankly, given the input on display yesterday could do no worse a job in picking the team and giving their talk myself. This game matters above all others this season – our journey into the lion’s den.

If there is anything like the performance given yesterday we are going to be mauled. Badly. And that’s not something I want to see.

 

Nick Bruzon

X-rated stuff at Rotherham. And that was just off the pitch

28 Feb

Two steps forward, two steps back. Not so much Paula Abdul and M.C. Skat Kat (kids, ask your parents) but the feeling around Brentford after a 2-1 defeat at Rotherham United yesterday. The Millers were always going to be tough opposition, given their perilous position in the relegation zone and so it proved. But with basement club Charlton Athletic going down to Reading by the odd goal in 7(seven) yesterday, at least we have a chance ‘to go again’ next weekend.

What can you say? I wasn’t at this one so had to rely on Bees Player, where Mark Burridge and Ciaran Brett brought us the action along with a cameo from Sean Ridley who appeared just before kick off. Our video whizz kid popped up holding what Mark described as the biggest hot dog ever, to opine further on the forthcoming game.

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A sausage added to the pre-match chat

In addition, one of the home supporters seemed to be doing his level best to join in with the commentary once it all kicked off. It was the sort of language more suited to an x-rated movie than a football match and highlighted the perils of building the press box amongst the supporters. One for the builders to take note of for Lionel Road, when it happens.

He seemed quite sure that the Brentford players were unable to do something, although I couldn’t quite figure out what. This, despite his constant screaming of “You can’t, you can’t” (at least, I think that’s what he was shouting). ‘Defend’ was the suggestion from one terrace wag. Well done Mark B in maintaining his composure throughout this first half barrage.

If it didn’t sound great the subsequent highlights show Rotherham had the lions’ share of chances. And goals. Indeed, when the most memorable thing to come out of the afternoon seems to have been the presence of Toumani in the away end (well played, that man) it’s one we’re just going to have to chalk off to experience and hope the Charlton game sees things get back to normal. Whatever normal is for this season.

Mark and Ciaran do their thing.

I have no quibbles whatsoever with Dean’s team selection. It was about as attacking as it comes given the options available to him at present. Sadly though, the heroics against Wolves just couldn’t be repeated.

Indeed, the lunchtime aperitif of Wolves v Derby showed that the men from Molineux can play a bit, when they put their mind to things. A 2-1 home victory was all the more noteworthy after a brace from George Saville of all people. Despite my own assertions on Wednesday, perhaps he can find the back of the net when he puts his mind to it.

As ever, Twitter was the other place to be for those not able to make the journey. Luis Adriano showing he knows as much about me when it comes to reading a game. It’s all his fault, perhaps?

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Is Luis a goalkeeper? It’s all his fault

Then there were the post-match tweets from the players. Honest enough from their perspective although a somewhat familiar path being trod here. As one supporter (Jacks Dad) noted, “Cut and paste working overtime this season.

Harlee: Sorry to all who travelled up. No where near good enough.

Sergi Canos: Sorry to all who travelled up today…

I thought we might have turned a corner after the poor run that had preceded the Wolves game. Sadly it wasn’t to be, this time. To be honest, after a season of managerial upheaval, the pitchgate affair and all those player sales, when we look back it’ll probably be considered quite an achievement for Brentford to stay up this season. And if we can do it without any further unrest over the next few months, all the better.

Then again, we’re Brentford FC. We don’t do things normally or quietly.

It’s only Sunday morning yet already I can’t wait for the Charlton game. This is the club we support – whether in the Championship, Ryman Premier or any division. We may not always agree with the team selections, the staff appointments, the transfer policy or the tactics. We may not always leave the game happy when the referee blows his final whistle. Certainly, we may not always agree with each other.

But I’m a much happier man for knowing that regardless of everything else, the next game is just 6 days away.

Until then, here’s Paula Abdul and Skat Kat. Kind of….

Nick Bruzon

Bees rediscover their midfield mojo in style

24 Feb

Well that was more like it. Brentford got back to winning ways last night, sweeping Wolves away in a 3-0 win that was every bit as comprehensive as it suggests . However, it wasn’t so much the scoreline as the manner of the victory which really impressed.

Sergi Canos and Alan Judge were rampant going forward whilst John Swift finally showed the potential he has been threatening. He, of all players, has come in for a lot of criticism in recent weeks (and rightly so, based on some of the ‘performances’) but that was infinitely better. Two goals (Canos getting the other) were due reward for a performance packed full of running, tricks and flicks. It just showed what the team can do when they are encouraged to advance with the ball and take it forwards.

Wolves, on the other hand, were abject. Sideways pass followed sideways pass across the back whilst the midfield had more holes than a Swiss cheese. It’s almost like they’d swapped place with Marinus era Brentford. Optimistic punts out to the flank, the opening passage aside, produced little threat whilst the returning George Saville was conspicuous by his lack of impact upon finally entering the field of play. He’d have been aswell trying his luck in a hotel car park as at Griffin Park, such was his lack of penetration.

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George Saville prepares to play. Apparently

With no offence meant to anybody who travelled down from Molineux, Wolves didn’t provide the sternest test. Let’s not kid ourselves about that. Then again, you can only beat the team who are put out in front of you.

We went for it and were duly rewarded . The fans left happy and John Swift finally put in a performance worthy of his illustrious background . Nico Yennaris, in his customary right back berth due to the absent Max Colin, took another step towards proving all the doubters wrong whilst Ryan Woods very much enjoyed the freedom afforded to him in the midfield.

Indeed, Colin wasn’t the only Griffin Park regular absent last night. Despite no longer being suspended following his red card at Hillsborough, Yoann Barbet missed out to Jack O’Connell as the Bees kept their first clean sheet since the 0-0 with Brighton back on Boxing Day. Likewise Lewis Macleod who, whilst hardly a ‘regular’, looks as though he will be missing for another few weeks with an injury. I know, I was surprised too,

Dean Smith told waiting journalists afterwards that, “It was a really good performance matched by the result and a clean sheet too. We wanted to start on the front foot with three ball carriers and I thought we did that.”

Indeed we did. What a shame we haven’t tried / been able to do that more this season. That said, with the next two games against teams in the dropzone (Rotherham United and Charlton Athletic) there is an excellent chance to continue in this style .

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View from the terrace – Swift and team celebrate our third goal

The irony of my own observation in yesterday’s column, saying , “Gone is the excitement, gone is the open attacking play, gone is the feeling that when we put our minds to it we could carve teams open for fun”.

Wow. Wasn’t that thrown back with some style? The big question is, can we do it again?

Brentford are now 17 points off the relegation zone and 11 away from the play off spots. Freed from the shackles of having to worry about either prospect, could we now see the team continue to play with a bit more freedom? Or was this just a flash in the pan? Here’s hoping for the former !

As a final note, was it Alan Partridge day in TW8? Both Dean Smith and Peter Gilham (on sparkling form, as ever, during Centre Circle Challenge) opted for an almost identikit 80’s suit trousers and Adidas tracksuit top combo in a look that was right out of the North Norfolk Digital DJ’s sport-casual range.

Where was the silver-badged black jacket seen on the likes of Mike Sullivan and Mark Chapman in the past? Is this a new club dress code? Or was it just the most sensible option in the cold (although, personally, I’d have just opted for a coat)? Then again even Marco Djuricin and John Swift both turned out in gloves.

Whilst normally one would suggest that if a footballer is cold, “just run a bit”,  on last night’s performance it would take the most churlish of individuals to find fault with the effort on display.

Here’s to doing it all again. And if gloves are what it takes, then let’s crack out the winter woolies.

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Previous encounter – the summer fashions were ‘off limits’ last night

 

Nick Bruzon

Tickets and travels – Wednesday and QPR are getting closer

12 Feb

After another painful wait for a game following last Friday’s shoeing at Brighton, it’s almost time to step back up to the plate with a trip to Sheffield Wednesday. The Hillsborough outfit will, of course, be looking to consolidate their place in the play-off zone. Before all that, though, we see the main swathe of tickets for QPR going on sale today.

It would be fair to say that, Chelsea aside, Brentford were kings of West London football last season. We finished well clear of Fulham whilst taking all 6 points and 6 goals off them in the League. Stuart Dallas scored THAT goal whilst Jota did his thing in the last minute. Twice.

QPR, meanwhile, slid out of the Premier League after a poor, poor campaign – returning to the second tier of English football once more. This time around, things haven’t been much better for either of our divisional rivals. Fulham are 11 points behind the Bees whilst despite a recent resurgence for the Loftus Road mob, it is still the Bees who occupy 12th to their 13th. Plus we have the advantage of first bragging rights as Marco Djuricin popped up with the only goal of the game when we secured all three points at Griffin Park back in October.

SWIFT Brentford QPR

October at Griffin Park – who could forget ?

Tickets are sure to fly for those who now have the requisite amount of points. Last year’s ‘loyalty’ being this years ‘TAP’. Rightly so, we all love a local derby and will be desperate to get one over our neighbours in their own, cramped, stadium. With only half the allocation we normally get for Craven Cottage available, it is sure to be a packed and noisy crowd. I can’t wait.

Before all that is Sheffield Wednesday. With the Bees now 10 points (effectively 11 with goal difference) off the 6th place that they occupy, anything but a win will ,surely, spell the end to the play-off aspirations that Dean Smith was still harbouring after the game at the Amex.

Despite his observation that , “We have 16 games and 48 points to play for, while there is still an opportunity to make the Play-Offs we will go for it”, I don’t think many are fooled. Sorry Dean but I can do the maths. Much as I love the Bees and only want the best for us, I’m also realistic. And can read a form table.

If that was, perhaps, a soundbite he was obliged to give, yesterday’s press day saw him come out with two much more positive / realistic ones. Firstly, that, “ I am not a massive fan of possession stats because they don’t always mean you will win the game,

Hallelujah! As, I’ve been saying all season – all the possession in the world and sideways passing counts for naff all if you can’t get the ball in the back of the net or even manage a shot. Brighton saw the quintessential example of this. Despite seeing 65% of the ball, the Bees only managed one effort on target and went down 3-0. Here’s hoping lessons have been learned.

Equally pertinent were his observations about training. Specifically that Scott Hogan is getting stuck in and has really impressed after being out for so long. This is stunning news for the player but , equally, perhaps the motivation that everybody needs after Dean’s previous bombshell about us lacking intensity.

Sheffield Wednesday will provide a phenomenal challenge. If only for our supporters having to listen to ‘that band’. Yet if Dean’s words are to be believed, then we’ve got a team that are going to go for it

On Saturday, we find out.

Sheffield wednesday band with trevor francis

Best avoided

A goal scoring hero returns for TV clash

15 Jan

Brentford entertain Burnley this evening. On the one hand it is a battle for the promotion play-offs and a chance to get one over Sean Dyche but there is more to it than just that. Bees fans will, no doubt, be hoping our boys can teach him and Andre Gray a footballing lesson. Many remain unhappy about the net result of the striker’s sale whilst the unsettling rumours surrounding James Tarkowski and Alan Judge have been as welcome on the terrace as a visit from ‘the phantom farter’ (if you’ve ever stood in the vicinity, you’ll know). Chuck former QPR employee and motormouth Joey Barton into the mix aswell and, I think it would be safe to say, we might have quite an atmosphere tonight.

Will Tarks and Judge play? One would only assume so. I’ll be furious if either is missing. That said, Sean Dyche can’t be blamed for trying to both acquire and unsettle the players just ahead of the game. Dean Smith confirmed yesterday that the Burnley boss had put in a bid for our leading scorer and player of the season to date.

We saw the same thing happen with Andre Gray just before we played at Turf Moor earlier on the season. Dyche finally got his man with Brentford happy to sell for a lorry load of cash despite his scoring 2 from 2 against both Ipswich Town and Bristol City. The Bees very much missed his cutting edge in that game at Burnley although, equally, even with Dean Holdsworth, Robert Taylor and Lloyd Owusu up front I think we’d have struggled to score in that one.

As was noted in the Last Word at the time, Marinus seemed obsessed with ball retention and pass completion – to the point that out 62% domination saw the ball rarely cross the half way line as time and again it went across the defence and out to the midfield before heading back to David Button.

Hanging on to the ball at the back is all well and good, and we did that part very well, but the lack of any imagination, movement, cut and/or thrust when we tried to take it forward was, ultimately, what did for us.”

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The Bees at Turf Moor – as our pitch looked like a ploughed field, theirs was magnificent

So can we do any better in front of the Sky cameras tonight? It’s true that Burnley look in ominously good form with their 5-0 win on Tuesday night. Likewise, their mini slump has ended with them still sitting in an excellent league position. Whilst they’ve only won 3 times in the last 10, they’ve picked up 10 points out of a possible 15. Andre Gray leads the divisional scoring charts on 16, having now broken clear of a chasing pack that includes our own Alan Judge.

Yet we have our own incentives to win as noted at the top of this column. Likewise, three points will lift us up to 9th and within touching distance of that play-off zone once more. I’d imagine Sergi Canos will start this one, having moved back to the bench in midweek, although I wouldn’t be upset to see Sam Saunders hang on to his place. Personally, I thought the wing wizard gave a very good account of himself against Middlesbrough.

As ever, the main question is going to be one of where the goals will come from. Is Marco Djuricin ready to start? Will The Hoff be given a chance from the off? Or does Lasse Vibe retain his place? I have no clue as to which way Dean Smith will jump but, personally, would stick with Lasse given the current options.

Which, as I put the industrial sized crowbar away, talk of strikers brings us onto tonight’s guest of honour – Lloyd Owusu – who is being welcomed into the Brentford ‘Hall of Fame’. Signed by owner/chairman/manager Ron Noades from Slough Town in 1998, his impact was immediate. 25 goals followed, including the Third Division title decider against Cambridge United. The denouement of that season saw the final game of the season become a battle to be Champions at the Abbey Stadium and Lloyd was the right man in the right place to help Brentford bag the honours.

Leading scorer 3 times in his 4 seasons, he stayed with us right up to the end of the Steve Coppell era and that play off final (spoiler alert – we lost) at the Millennium Stadium against Stoke City. It was a sad end to a great career at Griffin Park and more so as, out of contract, he left for Sheffield Wednesday.

Three years later there was better news for Bees as the hero returned. Martin Allen brought him back to Griffin Park for a further two years. 2005-06 saw him bag a further 14 goals in 42 games that resulted in another play off appearance – we lost. Injury blighted his final season but, by that stage, the legend had been born.

The arms raised high in the air and the chants of “Ooh Ooh Ooh” from the terrace have become an iconic image, and sound, for those who frequented Griffin Park at the time. Equally, Peter Gilham going into meltdown every time he launched into a lung busting scream of “Owusuuuuuuu!

Here’s hoping for some more tonight.

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Lloyd Owusu – back at Griffin Park tonight

Nick Bruzon

We’re off to Reading as Liverpool loanee extends his, erm, loan

28 Dec

Brentford travel to Reading today, no doubt keen to keep pace with the play-off sides but, as much, demonstrate how far we’ve come since the Royals visited Griffin Park back in August. Four games into the season, and the first match on our relaid pitch, the Bees lost out 3-1. It was a ‘performance’ analysed after the game by then Head Coach Marinus Dijkhuizen saying, “Today the first half was, I think, awful from our side. The second half was not brilliant.”

That was then and, four months later, things have definitely changed for the Bees. Dean Smith, following on from Lee Carsley, has not only steadied the good ship Brentford but now has her making up for lost time and steaming towards the top 6.

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Dean Smith – great progress

If anything, roles have now been reversed. Reading have lost 6 of their last 8 games and even the return of Brian McDermott as manager was insufficient to stop them going down at Wolves, last time out. But, as ever, don’t take anything for granted. This could well be a tough one for the Bees given they’ll be up against a team sure to try and impress a large crowd in front of the new man.

Last time out we held Brighton 0-0 in a game that saw the Bees start slowly before stepping it up in the second half, only to then be denied by the heroics of David Stockdale when we were able to get a shot in. One would hope that starting this one like we finished on Boxing Day will be the way forward.

At the risk of jinxing it, I’m going into this one full of confidence. Brentford have everything in them to win it, IF we play as we can. And with the likes of Jota and Sam Saunders on the bench, Dean Smith has plenty of extra attacking options at his disposal.Then again, with Keith Stroud in charge who knows what might happen….

Keith Stroud montage

Keith Stroud – a busy little man

I’d suspect that Max Colin over Nico Yennaris will be the key decision for Dean Smith to make. I thought Nico had a great game against Brighton, having lost out to the returning Colin for the 4-2 humping of Huddersfield. There’s no doubting the class of the Frenchman but will Dean show loyalty to Nico, much as he did when Jack O’Connell kept his place over Harlee for the Cardiff City game?

It’s a tough call and the decision may be made for him, depending on the state of Max’s groin. But if both players are fit – which way will he go? My guess is that with a glut of games coming up, any injury risk will need to be minimised and so Nico will keep his place, regardless of how well he has done. Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace so what do I know?

Off-field, there was great news yesterday with the announcement that Sergi Canós has extended his loan from Liverpool until the end of the season. Nobody could doubt the excitement or ability of the young Spaniard who has nailed down a starting place in recent weeks as his fitness has cranked up.

Sergi really is a prodigious talent and securing his services for the rest of this campaign can only be a good thing for the club. Here’s to seeing him in action today although I fear I may have breached some form of contractual obligation by failing to use the term ‘starlet’, so beloved of our local press (prefacing with Liverpool is optional).

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Sergi Canos – the ‘signing shirt’ has had good use

There was a further boost with the news that striker Marco Djuricin is back in training. We’ve had a horrendous run of injuries this season and whilst most are now cleared up, the news that we have a potential return to fitness of a centre forward is only great news. That Alan Judge is our top scorer so far this season is as much down to his own ability as the changes we’ve gone through ‘up top’.

Then again, Judge is a class apart divisionally aswell as at Brentford. Championship top scorer Andre Gray (I’m sure I’ve heard that name somewhere) at Burnley is only two ahead of Alan – on 12 to his 10. Either way, the imminent (one hopes) return of Djuricin along with the extension of Canos only bode well.

For now, though, it’s all about Reading. With 2,400 away tickets sold in advance and more available on the day, it promises to be a huge crowd and a great atmosphere.

See you there.

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More good news for Bees fans, from Twitter

Nick Bruzon