Tag Archives: Mark Warburton

How to watch it tonight. What we’ll miss in person.

17 Feb

What is there to say today? Brentford travel to QPR looking to further strengthen the automatic spot we’ve finally reached and possibly retake the top from Norwich City. With Watford now third after their own win last night things remain super tight. Norwich City go to Coventry and Swansea City host Nottingham Forest. Neither look particularly taxing opponents, on paper, but you could have said the same about Barnsley. On paper. This is the Championship where anything can happen. Where any team can beat any. Where every point counts.

I could give the tub thumping speech about take overs and there being a mere 3.5 miles between our respective homes. Two stadia kept at arms length by the 237 bus and not much more. Show me someone telling Peter Gilham this one doesn’t matter and I’ll show you someone taking their life in their hands. It is a mantra absorbed by all the players and evidenced, yet again, by the reaction to Said Benrahma’s penalty last season (crips, that seems a lifetime ago already). The players running to our man with a mic and celebrate together.

Back of the net…!!! Mayhem followed a split second later

It’s a game we want to win more than any other. Yet at the same time, without fans being there in person it fells like we’ve lost something. As much the chance to see unhappy faces in person. To celebrate together. Even knowing that when it gets truly grim, as can happen at times, we’re all in this together. I’ve recounted this one before but even the occasion of Dean Smith’s infamous 4-6-0 formation was punctuated by two highlights.

Firstly, BBC Billy Reeves doing his disco thing. Walking behind the goal at half time, he 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”. 

BBC Billy provided a rare moment of joy the time we tried a ‘false 9’

The second came as the goals rained in. 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” .

Thankfully, this is very much the thin end of the wedge when it comes to recent games at the Kiyan Prince Foundation stadium. Last season saw us beating QPR 3-1 – the game with the aforementioned Benrahma pen – whilst the same scoreline was repeated at Griffin Park. That, one of the last few games with fans present and one where there was the personal bonus of seeing H leading the players out.

Yet you are only as good as your last result and for us it was that 2-0 no show against Barnsley whilst our hosts beat Blackburn 1-0 courtesy of a 51st minute goal from Yoann Barbet. Safe to assume it wasn’t a penalty. Equally though, let’s not forget our last result against QPR.  A 2-1 win at Lionel Road in November (game 7(seven) in the unbeaten streak) which had the added bonus of salty tears at full time from Mark Warburton.

His own griping about he 200 fans we’d supposedly smuggled in up there with anything that ever came out of the mouth of Steve Evans or us Celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. It was a thing of absolute beauty and a tribute to our board of directors / substitutes who made more noise than a Harry Potter convention. It will be interesting to see if there are any temporary additions made to the board this evening in an attempt to redraw the balance.

Oh, Mark. Thank you. For a season where we’ve felt very much locked out you made an already special moment feel even more wonderful. Here’s to more of the same tonight. Kick off is at 7pm . See you there. In spirit. Unless Mr. Benham want to make me one of his 200 directors.

Instead, our options are many. There’s I-follow where ST holders have VIP (i.e. free) access. Failing that you can buy a pass or press the Sky ‘red’ button. Let’s not forget the ideal combination – our friends at radio. Billy ‘disco’ Reeves has confirmed its live on BBC Radio London DAB digital. Ah, ambassador, with these commentary options you are spoiling us.

And just when today couldn’t get any more exciting, our referee is Gavin Ward. On that bombshell…

Nick Bruzon

Fine win and Twitter debacle leave delicious amounts of egg on face.

28 Nov

Oh, what a night. Brentford fans are waking up to see the team sitting fourth in the Championship following yet another defeat of QPR (that’s 8 out of the last 10, now). A 2-1 victory where what happened on pitch was as enjoyable as our visitors’ use of social media off it. The not so super hoops left very much on the wrong end of their own self-inflicted Twitter debacle. Mark Warburton’s full time interview captured for posterity and packed with all the whining of a Sccoby-Doo villain just as they are being unmasked. Having lambasted the officials and the 200 supporters we’d apparently smuggled in (did anyone else get the memo about that or was Billy Reeves being his usual, vociferous self?), he may aswell have rounded off his post-match meltdown proclaiming they’d have gotten away with it had it not been for those meddling kids. It was a moment bookended by their earlier ‘crack’ about our Lego stadium. Hmm, that one aged well. The meat in this comedy sandwich being a first goal for Vitaly Janelt and another two (sorry, one) for Ivan Toney which guided the Bees to victory.

And I’d have gotten away with it had it not been for you meddling kids etc etc

Let’s start with the all important stuff, our win. That’s 7(seven) unbeaten and four points off table-topping Norwich City. Only three goals conceded over this period with last night even seeing the novelty value of us letting one in. For what it was worth.

By then, Janelt had already opened proceedings from distance with less than a quarter hour gone. A low drive from some way outside the box left the away side no chance. The defence motionless. Any resistance to our first real opportunity crumbling like an oxo cube as the ball powered through the lot of them, accompanied by cheers that could be heard all over TW8. Presumably. I wouldn’t know. Having not been in the stadium. But it sounded loud on TV. Those seats certainly know how to make a noise.

Janelt, man of the match against Barnsley, looks like another imperious acquisition. The technique to hit that ball first time, from that distance, a quite wonderful addition to an approach that is already making him a fan favourite. Christian Norgaard is still two weeks away from a return and that’s going to make for a very interesting team selection indeed. Can the two of them play together? I’m looking forward to finding out.

Then, something odd happened. With Marcondes having just missed out on the chance to double our lead following a goalkeeping clearance that was about as ropey as they come,  we let a goal in. Not a typo. It happens. And it was a good one. Credit where it is due, the run and cross down the right had alarm bells ringing. The positioning and cool finish of Lyndon Dykes just about spot on. Warburton would, understandably, be purring about this one afterwards. Brentford perhaps disappointed about letting our guests back into this without even getting close to stopping the chance being created. David Raya no real hope of being able to keep it out by the time the ball was hit goalwards. Urghh. What’s a fan to do? Get another beer, wait for half time and go again. 

Then, something even stranger when the teams re-emerged. Remember that ‘formation’ thing up at Stoke City? The thing we don’t talk about involving three centre-backs? Well, it happened again. But this time it worked. Dalsgaard came off to see Pontus line up alongside Ethan and Mads Bech (who we’ll get to shortly). Mathias Jensen replacing Josh in the midfield. How nice to have a Plan B that involves a change in tactics to suit the occasion. How nice to see it work. QPR rendered impotent at a stroke. The game all one way as Brentford once again dominated. Ivan Toney timing his own run to connect with Mbeumo’s delivery perfectly as the lead was soon restored. Except it wasn’t.

Offside” said the fourth official. “Nooooo”, came the cry from our respective homes (and not the stadium where only club officials were present, Mark). It was tight, very tight. But the replay showed that Ivan WAS onside. Just. But marginal seems to be sufficient these days.

We’re all well familiar with the machinations of VAR.  Where even a freeze-framed hand momentarily ahead of the critical defender is deemed fair game to rule out a goal. Where was the blinkin’ technology when it would actually help? (We’ll file that one under phrases not often used and which we’ll probably all be cursing next season as it conspires to spanner us ). 

No matter. It didn’t take long until the pressure built to a legitimate goal for Ivan. Another perfect header. This time it was Marcondes with the delivery. A precise free-kick delivered direct to the Championship’s leading goalscorer. He made no mistake, finishing this one with all the appetite of a child opening the advent calendar and not stopping to think that numbers 1-24 signify days rather than minutes. The chance was snaffled up. The game set in our favour. The visitors devastated. And there was worse to come….

Specifically for Todd Kane, who was sent off after receiving a second yellow card. His assault on Marcus Forss leaving the referee no real choice but to deem the player not fit to stay on the field of play. Down to ten men, Rangers were unable to adjust. Despite five minutes of time added on there was no real pressure, a last second free kick aside. It was calmly dealt with. Oh, to have a Plan B when you need it. 2-1 and a well deserved win. A 19th defeat out of 20 on Friday nights for QPR (thanks to the BBC for that one).

Not to the one we’d predicted

That said, my own take is that we were lucky not to see our own red card. Mads Bech’s errr ‘robust’ challenge on Lyndon Dykes in the first half adjudged to have been shoulder to shoulder rather than the blatant shove which subsequent replays appeared to suggest. Having not been there, I can’t say for sure but watching the highlights I think we might have swerved one there. Move along. Nothing to see. Just makes it all the sweeter that, for once, the good fortune has gone our way to supplement the tactical dominance.

What else is there to say? Well, how about what happened on Twitter? Lesson one on social media – if you are going to give it Billy Big Balls then damn well make sure your team can follow it up. Scoop:  Irony is alive and well over in Shepherds Bush where the team from the Wendy House made this crack before kick off….

Friday night from the L̶E̶G̶O̶ Brentford Community Stadium….  proclaimed QPR twitter. Hmmm. Fair enough. Had that been us, we’d have been cringing. And only becasue you know what happens when you go in like that. Sure enough, payback was delivered in some style. Hats off to whomever was driving ‘Brentford official’ at full time.

Yet the real full time highlight was Mark Warburton’s post match interview. Clearly frustrated, he was blaming everyone but his own team for this one. The ref. The Lino. The 200 fans that we had apparently smuggled in. The full interview is on their twitter feed if you really want it.

For me, Clive, the GPG cut to the chase in style. Enjoy.

That’s it for now. Have a great day and here’s to spending it in the knowledge we’re still winning. Still enjoying this run. Still pushing up (Brentford). Enjoying our best start to Championship life since promotion. Mark, this one’s for you. Ed Sheeran and his Lego house were too obvious. Besides, I much prefer something upbeat to start the morning. Happy Saturday everyone.

Deploy fishing rod emoji and stand back…

Nick Bruzon

Bees smash QPR to secure bragging rights. Again.

29 Oct

You wait ages at the bus stop and then three come along all at once. Brentford trounced Queens Park Rangers in their own back yard, again, last night as a 1-3 victory made it 9 points out of 9. It was a performance that, if anything, the scoreline fails to do justice to. But for home goalkeeper Liam Kelly it could have been double that. Only a series of fine saves keeping things respectable for the hosts who had no answer to the irrepressible waves of black and yellow. With Huddersfield Town next up, the Bees will be looking to strengthen their position in a top half of the table that is becoming increasingly congested.

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Players and fans alike celebrated this one

What a night. What a turn out. What a way to show our neighbours what this Brentford team can do. Three very much the magic number as our third successive victory saw Brentford hitting three goals. This following the 3-2 over Millwall and the 0-3 up at Swansea. Yet to so consistently outplay your neighbours, who missed their own chance to go second, in their own back yard takes special kudos. It was a game played out in a powder keg atmosphere, at least in the away end. The home fans barely mustering a squeak, barring one character with a sombrero, rattle and kazoo, until after the interval when Grant Hall’s equaliser gave them brief hope.

That goal, ironically coming from a corner earned off the back of a quite magnificent save from David Raya, briefly restored parity. Briefly. Ollie Watkins had already given us the lead, heading home a Mbuemo cross in front of the home fans. It was goal that had been threatening and was exquisitely taken. For once, Kelly left with no chance and after that it was only a matter of time and how many. Or so it felt.

Yet despite our domination, noise and attacking intent Brentford couldn’t quite squeeze through for the second. And with Hall rousing the snoozing home support from their own game of library simulator, one did have to wonder what would come next. Rise to the challenge or ‘do a Brentford’? The answer was emphatically the former. 

With little more than the next ten minutes played, the lead had been restored. Mbuemo was felled in the box and referee Andy Woolmer had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. It’s good enough for me.

That man Benrahma picked up the ball and smashed it high and hard into the top corner. Got to be honest that from where we were standing, it looked briefly as though he might have Barbet’d it, such was the height he got. Instead, it was all about technique with the speed and ferocity meaning it got no further than the back of the net.

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View from the stand – there you go. A lead restored.

And what a way to celebrate. What a smile. What a charge, followed by the rest of the team, over to the dugouts where he celebrated with Peter Gilham. We noted yesterday the history lessons installed by our beloved man-with-the-mic. This is why. This is what it meant. To him. To Saïd. To the team. To us. Get in you beauties.

The game continued. So did the pressure. Benrahma playing like a man possessed. He and Ollie teaming up with another of those filthy moments to come ‘that’ close to another goal of the season contender. Pontus Jansson busting every sinew. Screaming at anybody that would listen. Regardless of whether they wanted to. Nørgaard pulling strings in the middle. Mbuemo working the opposite flank. QPR huffing, puffing but doing nothing more than instigate the obligatory fire drill.

Sure, the final ten minutes felt slightly more tense. Purely because the random nature of referees or a flukey deflection, after such a fine Bees performance, could have played havoc on the points front with the margins still so fine. At least, on goals scored. There was no danger though. The fresh impetus added by Jensen and Valencia from the bench giving Brentford that final burst of energy needed to wrap things up. 

Boom. Watkins was there at the death to get his second and our third as the hosts were caught out in their hunt for some reward. Jensen slipping it through to Ollie who made no mistake in his own personal hunt for the Championship’s golden boot. His close range finish takes him to ten for the season already, equalling his highest total for Brentford . And we aren’t even in November. Neal who now?

Brentford are up to 12th but, more importantly, it’s getting tight at the top. Very tight. We’re four points off second place. One more win, and other results going our way, could even see us into the play off zone. Huddersfield Town visit Griffin Park on Saturday in a game that is sure to have a few more people now looking for tickets. That one won’t be easy but that’s a column for another day.

For now, it’s all about the moment. All about going to that horrible, horrible stadium and coming away with yet another win. About laughing at the jealous jeers on social media. About knowing how proud Thomas Frank must be feeling as he has held his head high , despite the nonsense being directed his way in recent weeks, to see his team come out the other side in quite magnificent style. About knowing that we may be a bus stop but West London is OURS. 

Pete Doherty. Mike O’Callaghan. John Storm. Comedian Bill Bailey. Are you reading? Your team took one hell of a beating last night. And it was absolutely beautiful.           

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A bus stop. Last night.

Nick Bruzon

Calling all agents. Let’s do this.

28 Oct

There’s not too much to say, today. Brentford travel to Queens Park Rangers with morale high after those epic victories over Millwall and then up at Swansea City. Thanks again, agent Bidwell. This time we’ve none other than Mark Warburton and Yoann Barnet filling the roles of Griffin Park legends who have taken the short journey by 237 to Shepherds Bush. With the hosts flying high, it promises to be tasty. The big question being which team continues with their recent form and which has their head coach searching through the kitbag for that envelope labelled ‘Plan B’ ?

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All of this is, of course, before you factor in the small matter of a local derby. The history between our two clubs has been well documented and, if nothing else, Peter Gilham seems on a one man mission to ensure that neither fans nor players every forget the failed takeover. Whatever your thoughts on his refusal to even mention them by name, a crash course in local history seems as much a part of new players joining as the pre-season karaoke,  half-chewed biro and obligatory signing photo pose with choice of contract, scarf or new shirt.

We all know what happened. Almost. We all know that our recent record against our near neighbours is a good one. A very good one. Brentford have won 5 and drawn 1 of our last 7(seven) competitive fixtures. We’ll draw a discreet veil over the incident of the 4-6-0 formation which culminated in something called a ‘false 9’. Very much a Plan C that will hopefully never be repeated.

The not so good news for Brentford fans is that the injury glut that has already spannered Sergi Canos has now done for Nikos Karelis. ‘Official’ describe him as having suffered a serious knee injury against Millwall which will see him out for a significant period of time. The flip side of this being that both players were missing for the Swansea game and look how we went there. Benrahma and Mbuemo are on fire whilst Josh Dasilva must be one of the first names on the team sheet in the middle.

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Swansea, last time out.

Chuck in a bit of revenge required for ‘that’ 2-2 capitulation (0-2 on 90+2 becoming 2-2 on 90+4 having an almost Millwallesque feel about it) and the hosts won’t have it easy. Then there’s the pressure of knowing that a point will be enough to take them into the play-off positions by virtue of goal difference.

Will Yoann Barnet add to his collection of penalties conceded this season? At least three at the last count. Will Ollie Watkins be able to keep himself at the business end of the Championship goal scorer chart? Can Brentford make it three wins on the bounce?

I can’t wait for the chance to find out. For those who can’t make it, there’s Sky and The Griffin are also showing the game.

Or how about ‘Our friends at radio’? How it’s going to work tonight is that BBC Radio London on DAB/Digital have comms with
Phil Parry, Paul Parker and the mellifluous Billy Reeves. Enjoy.

However, you choose to follow let’s bring it on. See you there!!!

QPR Loftus Road

Off we go, again….

Sure, play detective. But this is the real story making football headlines.

10 Oct

And on that bombshell. My word, what a way for Thomas Frank to celebrate his birthday (Sergi’s new contract until 2023 rather than the belated, and obligatory, narcissistic greeting from Ian Moose – my good friend). Whilst the rest of the football world may have been talking about the social media spat – the polite word – between the current wives of Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy, over at Griffin Park it was the late afternoon kit reveal that was making all the headlines. Brentford will run out against Millwall next Saturday wearing a special edition kit designed to evoke memories of 1904. QPR tickets have gone on sale and for those of you wanting to catch up on the Kurupt FM takeover against Bristol City last week, this Saturday’s Soccer AM is your place.

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Great news !

However, we can only start with THE big news from yesterday. The story that just about everybody was talking about. Certainly, based on my Twitter feed. The sudden and unexpected dropping of a quite beautiful looking ‘third’ kit which will be worn by Brentford next Saturday.

Whilst Kitman Bob had hinted at something more to come during the pre-season build up, things had gone very quiet after the launch of our home and away shirts. Then, out of nowhere, this appeared yesterday evening.

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My. Word.

Obviously one needs to see it in the flesh but from the publicity stills and video alone, it’s an absolute class 10 /10 effort. My word. It really is stunning. If the current away shirt is special, and it is, all of a sudden it has become second best of this season’s kits next to this. Relatively speaking, of course A thing of sheer beauty and, even better, sponsor free.

The blurb on official tells us that:  we will mark our first-ever victory at our famous old stadium by donning a 1904-inspired third kit against Millwall on 19 October. Produced by Technical Supplier, Umbro, this commemorative jersey features a stylized crew neckline in spun poly fabric with printed tonal blue stripe, a gold woven crest and ‘Farewell Griffin Park’ back neck sign-off.

You can read that in full, here. Likewise, find the link to ordering one of these beauties, the first 400 of which come in a limited edition box.

I’ve no idea how historically faithful it is. Certainly, the blue we wore back then had yellow stripes whilst this one is more two-tone blue. Yet as discussed with one Ealing Road wag last night, it could be Donald Trump’s version of the truth and I’d still hoover it up. Indeed, the order has already gone in – despite the price tag. It is a heavy one this time around and I can well sympathise with those who may baulk at the £60 for an adult or £50 for a child sized effort. Certainly, compared to the prices that we are used to normally. Is this the cost of having a unique and (presumably) limited edition run? 

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We’ve been back to our past before. This, from 2004

Either way, it’s too special and too delicious not to add to the collection. I console myself with the thought that I haven’t bought the home shirt for a few seasons (until this time around) and will just have to lay off the pints before the Millwall game to protect the pocket. It’s a small price to pay. Top marks Kitman Bob. Top marks everyone. I love it !

Enjoy!

Next up, QPR away. Your latest chance to see Yoann Barbet give away another penalty. That’s at least three so far this season – by my counting. Your chance to catch up once more with Mark Warburton who, it has to be said through gritted teeth, has his team doing relatively well so far. Compared to normal form. It won’t last – don’t get excited. 

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I love a 237 derby and, it would be fair to say, we’ve definitely had the lion’s share of the results since our paths have crossed in the Championship. Sure, there’s been the odd slip up but, overall, it is the Bees who have the ascendency with 6 wins out of 9 in league and cup.

Monday October 28th is the date with ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ view upper tier tickets available already, before you get to the ones where you can’t see the away goal. Then ground floor go on sale. It’s always an odd way of doing things but there you go. At prices approaching Leeds United levels (£34 to see a Monday night game that is also on TV? ) you can get these now. 

Personally speaking, I’m all set. The month’s pocket money went in the space of an hour on a new shirt and match ticket. On the plus side, making the not so super hoops try and do Plan A better is always worth the entrance fee. Even if it does require a mortgage.

Finally, Soccer AM. I have to be honest they are two words that normally put a shiver up the spine. Not so much because of the ‘bantz’ but more as a result of the penalty shoot out performance from the Brentford fans at the end of the show on ‘Doncaster’ day. I can’t help but feel partially responsible for a ‘nil point’ performance that in no way was an omen for what came next.

Gibbs shirt on Soccer AM

Soccer AM. Even HB made a first, off screen, appearance

The show is still going. And this weekend’s has all the fallout from the Kurupt FM takeover at Griffin Park on the occasion of the Bristol City game.  In their words, you can see ‘Chabuddy G & the gang wreak havoc’.

There’s nothing more to really add off the back of that. Roll on Saturday. Despite International Break. Enjoy. 

Nick Bruzon

Free agent joins new team. Club sack manager (again).

19 Jun

What’s there to say after Tuesday’s double whammy of Championship news? Yoann Barbet was the name in the frame for Brentford fans once it was announced that he had signed for QPR. There was always a fair chance our paths were going to cross again but Loftus Road was the last place anybody expected him to pop up, with Leeds United being the name that has appeared on more than a few occasions. I guess it just goes to show, once more, that the clickbait is nothing more than that. Elsewhere, Birmingham City will no doubt have somebody ten times better lined up for their own hot seat after sacking Garry Monk. I hear Gary Rowett is available.

So, Yoann Barbet. Emotions were mixed on social media after the news was revealed via the medium of cringey hashtag. #BonjourBarbet being the offending article this time around. You have to feel for Yoann. Whatever snake emojis were offered in his general direction (and there were a few) nobody deserves that. It put one in mind of the #JakeJoins they used when Jake Bidwell moved to Loftus Road.

bonjour Barbet

Urghh – hashtags

Personally, I’m not in the snake camp. If anything it’s an attitude of general ambivalence. He was a hero to us at Brentford and provided plenty of good times. Enthused team spirit. Was nothing but welcoming and friendly when approached by supporters – young and old. He could even smile at himself (if you recall the reaction to his goal at Bolton following ‘that’ league cup penalty v Norwich City’) . We had the chance to retain him if it was one we had both wanted to take but, for whatever reason, Yoann’s contract was allowed to run out and he became a free agent.

From there, he has taken the decision to join Mark Warburton at Loftus Road. A place where he will no doubt find himself having to do Plan A better. A lot. There’s no ill will pointed towards him – just surprise at the destination and a lot of good luck offered. He’ll need it. If nothing else, it’ll make the 237 derbies even more interesting than they had already become following the news about their new manager.

That’s the thing. Of all the clubs there had to be a better option. Surely? Leeds were rumoured. There was talk of Aston Villa looking to take him up a level. Then again, who hasn’t Dean Smith been linked with? Or Mark Warburton, for that matter. I’ve also heard Alan Judge’s name in the frame to reunite with his former manager. It’s an inevitable part of the transfer window as lazy journalists look for stories where none are even close to existing. Perhaps Yoann’s link to those clubs was nothing more than ‘fake news’. Urghhh.

At the end of the day (Clive), the player has made his choice. Whatever the motivation – be it money, staying local or maybe there were just no other offers. Who knows? Yoann will be well aware of the history between our clubs but as long as he doesn’t do anything along the lines of Martin Rowlands or Harlee Dean (surely nobody could be that stupid) then presumably we’ll all move on. Albeit, If Said wants to recreate Jota v Jake Bidwell then that would be nice.

 

Instead, it is left to Bernard Quackenbush on Twitter to sum up what many of us are thinking: Feel somewhat deflated by this. I wanted to give the guy a warm welcome if he ever returned with an opposing team. But just cannot applaud anyone wearing those hoops.

No meltdown – more an opportunity lost.

Yoann barbet post Forest

Better times

As for Birmingham City…wow!!  The tailspin they’ve been in since relieving Gary Rowett of his duties in December 2016 has been well documented. From a Premier league chasing position, they’ve gone on to flirt with relegation a couple of times, over spent, seen points deducted and consistently finished below Brentford (that’s five seasons in a row, now).

With Garry Monk, it looked as though he might arrest that decline. Instead, the sale of Jota to Aston Villa has been seen as the catalyst for a bizarre parting of the ways with the club formally announcing that: “The board of directors are hopeful that over time the team can adopt a fresh and modern footballing philosophy,“. Hmmmm – read as much between the lines on that as you can.

You couldn’t make it up after the Rowett affair but instead, another promising manger has gone.  No tears here – any rival choosing to weaken themselves through sackings and sales is only a good thing for us. The BBC report tells us how owners Trillion Trophy Asia are calling for a change in “footballing philosophy”. Good luck with that. It could be a long and painful season ahead at St. Andrews.

And finally, with a sledgehammer like unsubtle change of direction, huge thanks to all those who have downloaded a copy of the Last Word season season review – containing the least bad of these columns from the World Cup to Aston Villa deserving to win the play offs. It also includes the World Cup aswell as all the ‘Park Life’ articles submitted for the matchday programme and so not previously available on these pages.  

ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so what better way to remind yourself how brilliant 2018/19 was? To kill a bit of time on the commute to work / on your summer holidays / on the toilet etc You can download it , now, for your kindle , iPod telephone or other electronic reading device here.

At £1.99 it’s cheaper than half a pint so what’s to lose? Apart from £1.99 – which then goes to a great cause anyway. Many thanks again. And enjoy.

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Nick Bruzon

Oh my word. We’ve only gone and done it. This is fantastic.

8 May

Amazing. Incredible. Unbelievable. We have witnessed history in the making. It would be no exaggeration to describe this moment as epochal. As Sir Alex Fergie ‘Ferguson’ said when Manchester United won the 1999 Champions League final in those most dramatic of circumstances, “Football, bloody hell.” Yet that’s how things feel this morning…. Brentford have only gone and done it. We’ve named Umbro as our new technical sponsor. This is magnificent. One has to feel for Liverpool supporters whom, having enjoyed their own moment against Barcelona last night, now find themselves sliding down football’s pecking order of intrigue. Albeit we will get there in a moment but, of course, can only start with this morning’s breaking story from Griffin Park (and we don’t mean the rumoured appointment of Mark Warburton at QPR).

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My inner kit-nerd is cock-a-hoop at the news Brentford have appointed Umbro next season. Names don’t get any more iconic than theirs with the manufacturer, who celebrate their 95th birthday this month, producing some bona-fide classics over the years. What this means for The Bees, at least in terms of design, we have no idea from the short video which has been released this morning. Kitman Bob’s clues have hinted at a possible three shirts this season, with the away colours being one of brown, black/yellow or gold/white. Then again, he could have been throwing out Matthew Benham style clues and so we’ll have to wait until the big reveal – hopefully next month – to see the full reveal.

That said, sniffing around the internet at some of the templates / designs already announced for next season, I am excited. The Gremio (Brazil) ‘away’ in our home colours would be incredible. I’m not normally a fan of collars but have to admit this is a wonderful design. Moreso if black trim were to be incorporated. Looking at the Bournemouth shirt, the great news in their Umbro design being the addition of stripes to the reverse. Something sure to appease traditionalists saddened by the wholesale decision from Adidas to pull those from their entire range last time out.

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Umbro’s designs for 2019 offer excitement

The Gremio effort has had my, somewhat shonky, creative juices flowing. A rapid play around with photoshop to see what their design would look like in our colours produced some interesting results. Specifically for those who have been here slightly longer as it produces a potential kit very much reminiscent of our 2000-02 effort. Could this be what Bob meant by “New vibes and old skool” ? Or are we miles off the pace?

With apologies in advance for the poor quality, this is what comes around after a bit of mouse play and tweaking of the colours. Adding LeoVegas a step too far at this short notice, but you get the general idea. I hope. Whether this is anywhere near the mark remains to be seen, of course. I have no inside knowledge whatsoever on this one and so it is pure guesswork. Yet…you have to start somewhere on the speculation. So why not here?  

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Could this be it? Sponsor aside. Gremio become Brentford

Next up, Liverpool. Even the most curmudgeonly amongst us has to admit that was quite exciting last night. Turning around a 3-0 deficit whilst shorn of some world class talent was nothing short of spectacular. Barcelona very much second to everything and playing the stereotypical hare to the Anfield tortoise.

That said, sometimes even tortoises can come out with smiles on their faces and this game  was very much the quintessential example. One can only be thankful it was on BT Sport so we were spared the sights and sounds of Jamie Carragher’s verbal ejaculation of his team’s performance.

However incredible the victory was, it did raise a few questions. Has this out-miracled the Miracle of Istanbul? Have Liverpool shot their bolt early, leaving Ajax to clean up in the final? Do we need to update our Anfield bingo cards to factor in the Barcelona game and, if so, what specific squares should be added?  

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Updates now needed. But which?

Say what you want about last night, exciting though it was (and it was), this still came second to possibly the greatest comeback of all time. Brentford at Burton Albion back in 2017. 3-1 down after the half became 5-3 to The Bees just 45 minutes later. We didn’t need 90 minutes to pull this one out the fire.

Barcelona are good, sure, but Burton Albion on a cold afternoon is another challenge altogether.  And I bet you Divock Origi didn’t get the train home with supporters like Sergi Canos did afterwards.     

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Sergi gets the train home after THE comeback

Next up, Mark Warburton. It looks like things are happening at the other end of the 237 bus route. Word on the street being that he has already been appointed and it is merely a case of waiting for the ink to dry before he is officially named as the new manager of… QPR.

Oh my word. Are you serious? If this is the case, then firstly I’ll offer him good luck on taking over at the definition of a crisis club. No money. No players. Any talent they do have is sure to leave over the summer. Closer to home though, there’s the small matter of his history at Griffin Park. Martin Rowlands has become infamous for what he did whilst Jake Bidwell has become something of a joke figure. As much for being skinned alive time and again as the awful #JakeJoins Twitter campaign when he signed.

We all know what Warbs did. For that, every Brentford fan is eternally grateful. His return with Nottingham Forest (fashion choice aside, where he ended up looking like an extra from TV’s The Brittas Empire) was a cordial and respectful one. Should the news be confirmed today, I’d expect next time around to be very different indeed.

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Mark Warburton – won at football but lost at fashion.

And I can’t wait….

Finally, Brentford released the names of those players who will not be offered a new contract when their current deals expire at the end of June. The news about Yoann Barbet, no matter how sad for the fans, was expected after being confirmed by both Thomas Frank and the player himself. Likewise, we say goodbye to Jack Bonham, Lewis Macleod and Josh McEachran. These were hardly unexpected yet the one real surprise was the decision not to take up the option on Moses Odubajo.  Fans seemed genuinely shocked at this and moreso given some of his performances since rejoining the club last season.

Yet the presence of Henrik Dalsgaard, (theoretically) Josh Clarke and the burgeoning relationship between Sergi Canos in the wing back role mean this was , perhaps, inevitable. No matter how much of a shock on the surface. Let’s not forget, either, that the door can swing both ways. On a personal note I’m sad to see Moses and Yoann leave. No question. Yet, as was noted yesterday, the moment to start really trusting our Directors of Football happened a long time ago. No matter how strange some decision may seem up front, wider long-term context is what this club is all about. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more to follow but I’d also bet my life on new faces turning up over the summer.

If nothing else, Mr. Benham has started dropping clues again….

Nick Bruzon

Bring on the big guns. And also Arsenal.

31 Aug

Finally. It actually happened. The game that so many of us have been waiting for will finally take place. Brentford entertain Nottingham Forest on Saturday in a chance to head back to the very upper reaches of the Championship table. Elsewhere, and you may have missed this on social media last night, we’ve been drawn away at Arsenal in the third round of the league cup. It it is a tie that seems to be exciting just about everyone, no more so than our own chairman Cliff Crown.

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A fairly safe bet we’ll need to go brown for this one

You can understand the buzz around this game. We all know the history at Arsenal and of the many, many trophies they have won. Even if things have got (relatively) barren in recent years and Europa League qualification is the best they have to be content with. As the later end of The Wenger era saw them very much standing still, the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Spurs have all overtaken Arsenal at football’s top table. With Tottenham currently sitting pretty as kings of North London football, I have no doubt current boss Unai Emery will view the Carabao Cup as a huge opportunity to try and start redressing that balance.

C137D36D-7E04-4531-81DE-C0D1C441FEA8For Brentford fans, this presents the rarest of opportunities. Our paths haven’t crossed in over 70 years and for many it is a chance to visit a new stadium. Whilst the records are under debate (certainly in regards to our own number of defeats) the one thing everyone agrees on is that Brentford have the lion’s share of victories. As much as five can be deemed any sort of lion’s share. Personally, I’m just grateful for a kind draw (the prospect of Boro’ away, urghh) , an eminently winnable game and the chance to return my books before they become overdue.

The other thing to catch my eye on Twitter was the number of people who already seem set to miss this one : New York, Vegas, Franz Ferdinand (the band rather than the deceased Archduke), recovering from a car crash……

These just some of the many, albeit wonderful reasons (perhaps not so much that last one), as to why people are now checking their diaries to see if there is any chance of avoiding a pre-booked clash. Yet with Arsenal playing on the Sunday, the game seems likely to be played on the evening of 26th September. A cup tie on a Wednesday evening is something that The Emirates won’t have seen for a few years, even if it does push yours truly dangerously close to the list of absentees.

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That’s the night of my own work Christmas party (being the last time all 11 of the team are in together prior to late December). And now I’ll have to let the team down. Them, not Brentford. Unless of course they fancy some celebratory cup football. Yes, do spare a thought for Mads and her team in the ticket office as all manner of strange(r) requests are likely to come out of the woodwork. I can only imagine the queue for this one being akin to the launch of our own brown and orange away shirt.

All of which is wonderful, but there is also the small matter of Nottingham Forest tomorrow. Of course I’m excited about the prospect of reaching the Carabao cup fourth round but the league campaign is where it’s all at. Can Brentford get back to winning ways after the slip up at Blackburn? Will we be able to inflict a first defeat of the season on a Forest team who themselves beat Premier League opposition in the cup this week. A very late brace from the wonderfully named Matty Cash seeing Newcastle United’s celebrations at a 90th minute equaliser being somewhat short lived. An eventual 3-1 win sees the Tricky Trees presented their own chance of further profession, with a home tie against Stoke City the reward.

I thought the Bees looked wonderful with the build up play on Tuesday night against Cheltenham. It’s great to see the players coming in adapting to the system used by the first team. I also think we were over elaborate, profligate and almost got caught out. Dean Smith will no doubt be making changes with Romaine Sawyers and Ollie Watkins amongst those sure to return.

There’s no Ryan Woods, of course. His own ‘loan to sale’ was confirmed last week Saturday and he is now a Stoke player. Let’s hope they don’t injure him. Although I’d imagine neck ache from looking up at the sky will be his main health concern.

There’s no doubt we’re all well up for that Arsenal game. Chairman Crown and his family may even don a half/half scarf (although hopefully not) whilst Nico Yennaris and Josh Dasilva have their own points to prove. Yet all that is to come. If nothing else, we’ve a score to settle after last season’s capitulation at home to Forest. 1-0 up after 40 minutes turned into 3-1 down after 47 and an eventual 4-3 defeat that was nowhere near as close as the score line suggests. Then (away) manager Mark Warburton doing his ‘Brittas Empire’ thing in a shirt / short combo that was tighter than the final score.

Still, that was then and this is now. Warbs has moved on from The City Ground. Brentford have moved up. Dean Smith and his team are playing some quite wonderful football. Here’s hoping we can find the back of the net and return to winning ways.

See you on Saturday.

Brittas Warbs

Mark Warburton – won at football but lost at fashion last time out.

Nick Bruzon

Snow day for Brentford still sees carnage at Birmingham City. Again.

4 Mar

So Brentford need to ‘go again’ with Cardiff City. The wintry conditions in the preceding few days putting paid to any chance of the game going ahead. And whilst hindsight may be a wonderful thing as things thawed rapidly on Saturday, making the call early was the correct decision. Moreso given the icy blast that was still blowing through TW8 at the weekend. Yet, with two away trips to come this week (Burton Albion on Tuesday and Millwall, Saturday) perhaps a day off was a blessing in disguise. Even without our game there was still plenty to keep us entertained in the Championship – starting and ending with Birmingham City who went down at Nottingham Forest.

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Griffin Park was among the places caught in the snowy conditions this week.

Positives for the Blues were that they scored their first goal in five games. Unfortunately, their opponents managed it twice, consigning the division’s lowest scorers to another defeat. Five in a row. Anti-manager of the month form for Steve Cotterill who despite embarking on a post-match Kevin Keegan style ‘I’d love it’ rant on BBC Radio, was consequently sacked. It is a decision which leaves Birmingham City looking for their fourth manager of the season and the club firmly locked in the bottom three. With a visit from Middlesbrough next up, it certainly won’t get any easier for whomever comes in next.

Garry Monk is hot favourite. His name being added to the mix over the last few days was something which proved the catalyst for Cotterill’s frustration. “If that’s been going on behind my back, it’s best for them to get on with it”, he told BBC WM 95.6FM. Gordon Strachan and Mark Warburton are names that have also been bandied about.

The latter’s selection, if it somehow happened, would certainly make things interesting for ‘BeeTheDJ’ (or at least, at full time)  – assuming our club paths crossed next season. The respective directions that Birmingham and Brentford are currently heading, could conceivably see a two division gap between us for 2018/19.

It finished 5-0. It finished loud…

Then again, the knee jerk actions of a board whose hiring and firing policy could be written on the back of a fag packet mean nobody is safe for any amount of time. Even if the Bees and the Blues are both in the Championship next time around, there’s no guarantee that whomever inherits the manager’s office will still be there when we play each other once more.

Since the incredible decision to jettison Gary Rowett with the team on the fringe of the play-off race back in December 2016, they’ve been through more incompetent henchmen than a Bond Villain. Think Max Zorin in his zeppelin, finger poised over the ‘eject’ button.  There was the disastrous Gianfranco Zola period, Harry Redknapp (but only after he’d splurged the the transfer budget and wage bill – mostly towards us), three games for Lee Carsley and then Cotterill’s ill-fated period at the helm. Talk about self-inflicted suicide.

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Max Zorin – any excuse

Our own model – in terms of management and spending – proving to be the infinitely stronger tactic. A fourth, successive Championship top ten finish, with the possibility of a second play-off challenge, is more than on the cards. Contrast this to a team who despite their huge reputation and even bigger spending, have finished below us every year since our paths re-crossed at this level

Brentford fans had been quick to request the likes of ‘Price Tag’, Money’ and ‘I need a dollar’ as pre-kick off song selection for our recent game with The Blues. What had happened over the summer still so very fresh in our minds. As such, there was no irony lost yesterday in Joe Lolley and Matty Cash getting the Nottingham Forest goals that would ultimately prove the final nail in the Birmingham coffin. Certainly, this this latest incarnation.

Can they pull themselves out of this downward spiral? Barnsley above them have a game in hand, are already two points better off and have infinitely better goal difference. Likewise, Hull City (who entertain Millwall on Tuesday) are starting to see a bit of clear air. Burton, one point below them, also have a game in hand but are the bookies favourites, along with seemingly doomed Sunderland and the Blues.

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The current relegation prices. For research purposes.

Still, that’s their problem. The only downside out of all this for the Bees being our own trip to Burton on Tuesday. Whilst the table suggests this will be a formality, a team with their backs to the wall and staring into the abyss always have that potential to come out all guns blazing. They really are entering ‘do or die’ territory now as games start to run out. Whether the target is one of still harbouring play-off aspirations or consolidating another top ten finish, then these are the sort of games that need to be won.

To even be talking like this is, I still think, incredible. And as much in the show of faith invested by the club in our players and staff. We all know the horror start that the Bees had. Four points and in the bottom three after eight games. A wealth of experience and talent sold. Yet we’ve put out heads down, not panicked and built on the base of shrewd acquisition, experience and belief in our own process. The evidence has been tangible.

I’m gutted that yesterday’s game was cancelled. I’d love to have seen how we went against Cardiff City. Yet, perhaps it has also given us a chance to take stock. Both on and off the pitch. To look at what is happening around us. With the first shovel due to be planted at Lionel Road on March 19th, it’s fair to say things are looking positive!

Moreso, compared to some of our divisional rivals.

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Until next time, Cardiff….

Nick Bruzon

Table makes wonderful reading as Brentford beat Bolton to tighten the gap.

14 Jan

Brentford 2 Bolton Wanderers 0. Another league game unbeaten at Griffin Park (that’s 13 now, our longest run since 1951) and The Bees a mere three points outside the play-offs. True, that gap is tighter than a duck’s behind at the moment.  The same winning margin divides all six teams from Sheffield United down to ourselves in 11th. Yet with victory (and other results going our way)  all that stands between Brentford and a place in the promotion slots, let’s not pretend things aren’t getting very exciting as we enter the second half of the season. Saturday’s trip to Reading already can’t come soon enough.

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Form an orderly queue. Bolton were the visitors on Saturday

It was a game where victory eventually came to the team who bossed it yet nobody would have been surprised had we left Griffin Park with a point. Brentford had taken the lead just before half time. Flo Jo picking up a sweet pass from Lasse Vibe to hammer home high and hard from the cusp of the six-yard box and into the far corner of the net. It was a powerful finish to light up what in truth had been a somewhat turgid opening period. But a 1-0 lead going into the break was all that mattered and as the players re-emerged, it seemed only a matter of time before that was doubled.

Kamo fired straight at goalkeeper Ben Alnwick from yards out with the whole of the goal to aim at. Nico saw a shot bounce of the post. The Bees pressed. The Bees came close. Then the balance of play began to swing as Bolton sensed a glimmer of hope. Dean stuck to his starting XI as the pressure built.

The away fans gasped. The home support clenched buttocks. If the first half had been a damp squib then this was very much exploding into life. A freekick was headed wide, I forget who, as Bolton came oh-so close. Barbet and Bjelland the unfortunate victims of a bouncing ball as Daniel Bentley came to the rescue.  Bolton, cynical in the challenge, but desperate for a point.

And then it was over. Sergi Canos, a late sub for Florian Jozefzoon, squaring it for Neal Maupay to double our lead with the sweetest of backheels. Being honest, there had been a slight suspicion of offside from where we were sitting but nobody cared. The execution had been delicious and the sense of relief was palpable. Besides, watching the video highlights afterwards (Sky Sports have theirs up already; 12pm for the league to let us put the ‘official’ version up) there was nothing wrong with the goal. Perfect positioning and the calmest of finishes. Stick that in your pie and eat it, Ian Moose.

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Bolton were left looking dazed and confused by the end

It’s hard to find fault on what was a wonderful afternoon. Brentford continuing their fine, fine form ahead of Saturday’s trip to Reading. There’ll be over 2,000 Bees fans at that one. A quite wonderful effort for a game where the reward for another win is there for all to see. If I have any ‘negative’ (and the word is used in the loosest sense) it would have been in the delay to making any substitutions.

Whereas the Warburton era saw you able to set your watch by his making changes within ‘the zone’ (60-70 minutes on the clock), regardless of how the team were doing, these days there seems to be almost a reluctance to switch things around until late on. Even when the opposition are turning the screw as we saw yesterday. Sitting where I was, there was a definite upping off the the ante from Bolton that might have seen us pay pay the price with the Bees continuing as was.

It’s a small observation and, ultimately, one that will be dismissed by the fact we came away with a 2-0 win. That will be proven as Dean having faith in the players he picked to do a job and their following it through. And on that point I can’t disagree – they DID. Yet equally, football is a game of fine margins. We all saw how tense it got for a while and there have been times this season when it’s felt as though we’ve been slow to react to what is happening in front of us.

But as we all know, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. I couldn’t manage a beer yesterday (it’s dry January) let alone a football team. Perhaps that is just part and parcel of being a Bees/football supporter – we’ve been conditioned over the years to fear the worst. To expect that kick in the nuts; that ultimate sucker punch. Defenders are paid to defend and they did that admirably. Chris Mepham in particular having yet another stand out game. Talk about a wise head on young shoulders. Dean made his calls and the result shows he got them right. Again.

Equally, the Warburton era saw a team picked by numbers even when perhaps a change might have been due. Jonathan Douglas (at the end) and Harlee Dean (when he was at the more unpredictable end of the scale) seemingly nailed onto the teamsheet. Dean isn’t afraid to mix things around as was seen with Sergi tied to the bench for most of yesterday’s game. With Mepham continuing to keep out more experienced colleagues.

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Late sub Sergi – insert your own caption

But we digress. That’s the price of writing these things on the hoof. Mark Warburton was a hero to pretty much all of us at Griffin Park. He did his thing his way and we all know how close Brentford came. Likewise, we all know how things ended.

That was then, this is now. Dean Smith is the man in charge. Along with his coaching staff, he’s more than getting the results. More than building a quite wonderful team spirit. He has his team set for a second half of the season that could, if things continue, eclipse any that have come before.

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be saying this back in September given the start that Brentford had. Players sold, bottom of the table and four points from eight games. Then, we went to Bolton and won 3-0. How things have turned since that point. Could Saturday’s win over the same opposition prove an equally telling catalyst ?

One things for sure, it’s going to be fun finding out. Here’s to Reading and that gap towards the top getting even tighter.

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The red and white express raced to another win on Saturday

Nick Bruzon