Tag Archives: Matthew Benham

Pep talk from Thomas sees a night to remember.

30 Dec

Well, what is there to say about that one? Nobody likes to overly celebrate ‘plucky defeat’, let’s be honest. Yet at the same time one can only be full of admiration for a Brentford team that came so close to taking at least a point from our illustrious opponents. From the League Champions. Manchester City may have run out 1-0 winners but with a starting XI designed to take advantage of Liverpool slipping up the night before, the visitors failed to have things their own way. Anything but. In a game where referee David Coote showed how us just much he dislikes Coldplay (that can be the only explanation for an ongoing refusal to get out his Yellow), the Bees gave as good as they got. Indeed, were it not for VAR showing Phil Foden to be ‘just’ onside, Brentford could have taken a point that nobody watching would have denied we were worth.

Little toe plays finger onside

That’s not how football works, as we well know. Manchester City had their chance and took it. They’ll likely point to another VAR decision that went against them and a post being hit to further emphasise it was ‘deserved’.  Instead, as with Chelsea, a super spirited performance against just about the toughest opposition imaginable, saw the Bees missing out by the odd goal in one. The difference this time that there was no Rico Henry, no Christian Norgaard, No David Raya etc etc etc. We all know who is missing. We all know how bad Brighton away was the game before. We all went into this game knowing that City turning up and Brentford failing to show could be disastrous. Instead, it was about as as close an encounter as they come.

Dominic Thompson filling in magnificently for Rico at left wing back. Mads Roerslev coming in for Sergi. Matthias Jensen hanging onto his place as much due to lack of options but having a blinder in the middle. Ivan, Wissa and Frank the Tank combining time and again early on as the goal threatened. Dreamland beckoned. City were rattled as a flurry of chances fell our way. The no show against Brighton in the previous game nothing but a distant nightmare. Whatever pep talk Thomas Frank gave his troops clearly worked wonders. The crowd, likewise, on it from the get go.

Yes. Yes. Yeeessss … Noooooooooo. Urghh. There was Phil Foden, suddenly freed up by Kevin De Bruyne, and making it 1-0 City down the other end. 16 minutes gone and with Brentford fans still wondering how the ball hadn’t gone in for us, there were the visitors to punish us with some quite clinical finishing. That’s why they’re League Champions. Brutal. Ruthless. Efficient.

And with that, it was game over. The early surge from the Bees petering out. The game settling in to a pattern of containment but one where, with just a solitary goal dividing the teams, it felt alive all the way until full time. Despite the falling over, theatrics and some silly nonsense from Grealish, Foden and Jesus (amongst others) Brentford kept going. Kept playing out of the skin and ran it so very, very close. We’ve all seen the game. We all know how tight this one was.  There are full fat match reports elsewhere if you want them.

Oh Jesus… Dominic Thompson takes his place prior to kick off

For me, Clive, the important take away is that it was yet another night where we have run a top four team all the way. There was no panic. There was nobody star struck by the galaxy of high profile names lining up in front of them. There was just a solid, solid performance that left me feeling totally gutted at the end of it by virtue of the fact we’d come away empty handed. Points well earned by City but on another day….

Equally, one can take heart in how we’ve performed so far.  It was another notch on the belt of progress. Of showing that we are in this top flight on merit. Looking at those teams currently in the Champions League spots, our home games with Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City have only seen five goals conceded. And most of them were in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool.  

Yet last night was probably the most pleasing of those performances, despite the defeat, and as much due to the relatively makeshift nature of the team. For a home side to be priced at 16-1 prior to kick off tells us everything about how two sides from the same division were perceived. By full time, that opinion had been changed by just about everybody.

This Brentford team are full of surprises. With our next league games against Aston Villa and then Liverpool at Anfield, the task at hand isn’t going to get any easier. At the same time, it’s only going to get even more exciting.  Certainly, if we put in a few more shifts like this.

Well played Manchester City. Well played. But well played Brentford, too. You were magnificent last night. The player review is also now up (and you can get that here). For now, time to sit back and wonder what might have been. Perhaps, next season…..    

Until then, we’ve got Aston Villa and Liverpool to look forward to. Not to mention Port Vale in the cup. All the immediate focus will be on if we can close down a certain Ollie Watkins. There’s a man that knows the way to goal. Can he still do it? Roll on Sunday when we find out.

See you there.

Next up – this man makes a return…

Nick Bruzon

All you need are two pints, the internet and a credit card. Can anyone swap Osca for Tracy?

24 Dec

Christmas Eve 2021. Mayhem and chaos run amok outside. Boris has just been on the radio telling people that the best gift you can give this year is the booster jab. F the f off you f’ing f and then f off some more with your patronising bullsh*t. Besides, we all know that the best gift would be the Brentford Adidas 80-81 home shirt, although the chances of finding one of those are about as slim as, well, no analogy needed. Please note: we would also accept the Osca 1983 shirt in any size beyond ‘spray on’. Or perhaps just Terry Hurlock’s phone number. Yet with football on pause until the festive pile up of Brighton, Manchester City and Aston Villa (we hope…..) let’s take stock.

They must be out there, somewhere? I’m too scared to approach Terry Hurlock though

The chance of being able to afford any football kit for the foreseeable has long gone. Primarily because the spare change has been spent on Christmas presents. And stupidity. Thankfully, Brentford have chosen to roll the current home shirt into next season and so that’s a few quid in the back pocket already. Although looking through the Umbro back catalogue for next week’s Manchester City programme, here’s hoping Kitman Bob has taken note of their previous templates when selecting our away / third kits for 2022. My word, they’re just stunning. Umbro rather than Manchester City. Although also Manchester City.  

The stupidity, I can only lay at my own doorstep. It’s long been said that the internet or, at least, mobile phones should come with a built in breathalyser. Some sort of sign to warn: You are too dumb to use this device safely.  Don’t send that text message. Don’t make that call. Don’t visit that online auction website. If you aren’t safe to drive you certainly aren’t safe to use anything that may commit you to flashing the plastic at a later, more sober, date. It all sounds so obvious, in hindsight. In the cold light of day.

Yet an early December evening spent in The Griffin, a very heavily Guinness infused evening, talking football, shirts and other such Brentford related nostalgia ended up with a wobble home and yours truly noodling around the darker recesses of the internet. Not like that.

Instead, it was the usual search around the various shirt sites in case one of the aforementioned holy grails had turned up. It hadn’t, of course. It never does. But, if nothing else, the more generic auction rooms sometimes have shirt related curios. And other things too.

Oh dear. Other things. The combination of a cyber-space wormhole and alcohol fuelled Christmas nostalgia meant that once the search for shirts proved fruitile (a combination of fruitless and futile) it would seem I just carried on looking. As you do. Until apparently bidding on a few other items. And I say apparently because this part was promptly forgotten about until an emailed invoice arrived at the end of last week, confirming that one of my bids had been successful. 

Crap. What bid? Where? When? Checks invoice. Ah, that bid. Yes, it all came flooding back. And there was no ebay style ‘just ignore it’ option available, given they already had my card detail hard coded in.

There was no choice. The contract had to be honoured. Payment was made. The only saving grace being that with the auction house just down the road from the in-laws, at least they were able to pick it all up rather than add crippling postage to the already brutal ‘hammer fees’. 

And so yesterday, it arrived. Or should I say, they arrived. Boxes of random toys. James Bond cars. Thunderbirds spacecraft and the year’s most in demand, must have Christmas gift. That is, if the year was 1993. Groan. Tracy Island, anyone? 

So if anybody fancies swapping Tracy for Osca, I’ll be in the Griffin for the Christmas Day pint tomorrow. Probably paid for from the pennies pot. And definitely not going online afterwards.

Have a great day, stay safe, enjoy Brighton and remember…..don’t drink and bid.

Nick Bruzon

The ultimate question is asked. And answered. In style.

11 Dec

Sometimes, words are not enough. You really had to be there to experience just what a 2-1 win for Brentford over Watford meant. To experience how it felt. To be part of the blood pumping final surge inspired by a first Premier League goal for Pontus Jansson and followed up with that late, late spot kick show. Noise which, if it continues for the visit of Manchester United on Tuesday evening, is sure to make what should be a walkover turn into a proper two horse race. Don’t @ me. The bookies have United at 3/5 on already. It’s up to us to prove them wrong, and cash in, again !

Yessssss!!! Celebrations at 2-1 !

That’s for then. For now, Saturday morning sees us still buzzing. Hornets stung by Bees. Watford played off the park but despite dominating, Brentford unable to find a way through or able to level the scores after Emmanuel Dennis had converted a corner midway through the first half. The patched up Bees line up (no Sergi, Ivan or Ethan) seeing Vitaly Janelt slotting in ably at left centre back and a start for Wissa up top. Chances coming closer and closer – one surging run and shot from Bryan in particular – but unable to penetrate the Watford back line. Claudio Ranieri’s team defending resolutely and looking like they may hang on to all three points. It felt like it may be another case of Brentford, Innit. Instead we pushed up and up. Pontus did his thing and then the ultimate question was asked. And answered….

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages, albeit the player piece will be up shortly. So for me, Clive, it gives a chance to cut straight to the chase. To those those frenetic final ten minutes. To Brentford continuing to push and the noise levels cranking up to near Messianic levels of adulation and exhortation. Pontus Jansson urging the supporters and players on. His goal coming at the back post after Marcus Forss had flicked on a cross from Vitaly. Peter Gilham so caught up in the moment he credited it to Charlie Goode. Something which, to be fair, upon catching the highlights this morning the Sky Cameras also did. Then, with the captain pumping fists in celebration, that awful wait for VAR.

From the stands, we weren’t sure if it was for offside or reviewing the hammy theatrics from Watford goalkeeper Bachmann. His otherwise fine performance finallly coming to a halt and, as Bryan tried to return the ball to the centre spot, collapsing on the floor (and taking Christian with him) like a sack of spuds. Offside was the review decisions to be made. Wait. Wait. Squirm. Scratch itchy bum. Wait. Wai… Yeessssssssss!!!!! The goal stands. Come on Bees. Come on.

Never in doubt. Errr

Six minutes to go. Pressure. Possession. Threat. The tension levels in the Watford end must have been through the roof. The solitary yellow flare that had greeted their opener now nothing more than an acrid reminder of moments long since past still siting at the back of the nostrils. Five minutes added on. Four. Three. Two. Here’s Norgaard.He stays calm. He threads it through to Samman in the box. The Iranian is scythed and referee Michale Oliver, a man seemingly with an aversion to waving yellow at Watford, at least gets this one right and points to the spot. Now, we have ‘that’ question.

Quite simply, who takes the pens in the absence of Ivan?

It was one answered in some style. Not just in the confidence of Mbeumo to march towards the spot and ignore more (understandable) theatrics from Bachmann but then in the technique. Nobody can replace Ivan but my word, Bryan came close. That trademark approach was there again. The goalkeeper committed into moving early and the ball casually stroked home. The eruption of noise so welcome. The celebration immense. The points secured. Brentford up to ninth in the Premier League and doing to Watford what Leeds had done to us on Sunday. What an evening. What a finish. What a time to be a Brentford fan.

Bryan’s already off with the net still rippling

We got back to The Griffin in time to hear not just Thomas Frank, but also Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, waxing lyrical about Brentford. Bigging up this team packed full of fortitude and never-say-die approach. About the intensity of the atmosphere inside Lionel Road. Not just to pull back the equaliser but then to keep on pushing for the jugular. Make no mistake, this was as much down to the fans as the players. That intensity at the end just amazing. Bring it to the Manchester United game on Tuesday and we could be in for an even bigger treat.  

After the somewhat subdued Everton game last time out at Lionel Road, this was next level. Both ended in three points for The Bees but, more importantly, this one sees us with our tails up. With smiles broad. With the party atmosphere continuing long into the night. Psychologically this was as good as it gets. Proof that we can raise our game not just against the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea but against those lesser fancied teams where we could be expected to win it from the off. 

There’s no such thing as an easy game of football. No opposition that should be written off. Despite Watford’s position in the table (and let’s not forget they put four past Man U the other week) they were no slouches. Solid at the back. Tough to breakdown. Understandably devastated, At the same time, football is about seizing the moment when it comes. Regardless of opposition. Last night, Brentford did that in some style. 

The momentum is with us. Now bring on Manchester United.

Celebrations at Full Time

Nick Bruzon

Perhaps we can call it a business meeting.

10 Dec

Friday night under the lights and Brentford host Watford. The 2-2 draw at Leeds United feels a lifetime ago already as the December fixture list continues to crank up. We’ve got Manchester United at home on Tuesday, the small matter of the trip to Southampton next weekend and then the league cup quarter-final a few days after that. Whilst by no means season defining, come out of this run with a few wins under the belt and there’ll a lot of smiles as we head towards the New Year. The other news of the day being Liverpool tickets are now on sale, but we’ll get there shortly. First up, Watford.

Charlie enjoys the point on his Instantgram

Cripes. The result from Elland Road was niggling on Sunday evening. That was then. This is now. Personally, I still feel it was a good point for Brentford in a ferocious atmosphere (Spurs could learn a thing or two – all the glitz and glamour counts for nothing if you can’t generate noise) even if it was deeply gut-wrenching to concede so late an equaliser. Lessons learned and all that. As Thomas Frank noted in the press conference for the Watford game, “When it is so close it is difficult to accept that you just lost two points, but we have this rule that you have 24 hours to celebrate and 24 hours to be disappointed. I constantly remind the players, staff, and myself about it. We came in Monday, and it was difficult because we were still in this 24 hour bracket. We were off yesterday and today I didn’t see any sign of any disappointment. It was just a group of players willing to train hard and concentrate”.

Philosophical to the last. As eloquent as ever. But he’s right. We can’t dwell on the negative or rest on our laurels when things go right. Use the moment, in either direction, and then move on. Very much a case of, if not so much going again, as taking each game as it comes. And if anyone has a spare crowbar, we‘ll continue to mangle our metaphors in tomorrow’s match update.

It’s all about looking forward to Watford (and more wonderful cover art on the programme)

For Brentford, there are two obvious casualties. Ivan Toney remains self-isolating as a result of that Covid test prior to the Leeds game. I’m not clear on whether that will still be the case for the visit of Manchester United but a rough count on my fat fingers thinks we ‘may’ be in the clear. hHis own health and fitness aside, of course. 

Ivan has been magnificent this season. The current leader in our game by game review to see who the top Brentford performers are (and you can find the latest look at our ‘top five’ here). Pulling in as big a defensive shift as that up top, he’s every manager’s dream. You can’t put a price on those additional elements to his game outside of the assists and goals. He really is the consummate all-round player and the stereotypical ‘first name on the team sheet’. As for who will step up should we somehow be awarded a penalty by tonight’s referee, Michael Oliver, then good luck calling that. 

One thing’s for sure, it won’t be Sergi Canos. He also misses out after stepping in for Ivan on Sunday. A fifth yellow card of the season means a one-game ban is now in force. It’s a crying shame for Sergi, and Brentford, given he had one of his best games of the season. Pushed up top from wing back (where Mads Roerslev stepped in admirably) he adapted quickly and after a slight positional shift, obliterated our opponents in that second half. The team up with Shandon Baptiste in particular bringing ongoing success as we took the game to our opponents and watched them fall apart. Again.

Sergi misses out

Instead, one can only assume Marcus Forss will step in and step up alongside Bryan. Thomas as already confirmed he was ‘that’ close to starting against Leeds and with Wissa continuing to be nursed back in to the team, it will surely be a place on (and appearance from) the bench for our talismanic late, late goalscorer. Let him come on and do to Watford what he did to Liverpool and West Ham.

All being well we can afford to rotate the team and the subs though choice rather than necessity. With the Manchester United and Southampton games following in close succession, having everyone physically fit will be as big a challenge as anything else. The Brentford casualty list already one which is stretching our troops although kudos to Charlie Goode for stepping up so well in place of Kris Ajer. Likewise, the return of Shandon Baptiste couldn’t have come at a better time.

The heart says it’ll be a win for Brentford. The head says I’ve maximum respect for Claudio Ranieiri. He has had the luxury of a relatively stable team in recent weeks, albeit one that has lost 5 out of their last 6 league games.The one outlier from there being the absolute ticking administered to Manchester United late last month. That 4-1 thrashing being the last straw for the Old Trafford board and, regrettably, jus ta few weeks too soon for us. Oh, to have faced a side in a trough of despair and supporter unrest rather than one that has a chance to reset. Still, that’s all to come. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much. First and foremost has to be Watford. Bring it on and see you there.

The one other piece of immediate news being Liverpool away tickets are now on sale. That game takes place Jan 15th and expect another sell out crowd ( home and away) for the trip to Anfield. One can only assume these will fly off the shelves as we work through the TAP barriers. We picked up ours yesterday. With ‘Plan B’ now in operation (a first if ever I heard one in TW8), let’s hope the’C’ word doesn’t get in the way of our party on Merseyside.

Hey, perhaps we can call it a business meeting. There’s certainly enough cheese, and the odd whine, on these pages.

The games come thick and fast

Nick Bruzon 

Who shone at Elland Road? Who impressed in the absence of our current top performer?

6 Dec

Another game down. Another point on the board. Brentford and Leeds United played out a 2-2 draw at Elland Road in a game that had mores twists and turns than a loose propellor. With Watford next up at Lionel Road, we’ll still be without Ivan Toney for that one.

Celebrating at 2-1

For now though, its time for the regular player review. Who shone? Who impressed? Could Alvaro Fernandez and Charlie Goode make it three appearances on the bounce in the top five Brentford players? Nice though it was to see Leeds United fall apart (again) in the second half, who amongst us from TW8 didn’t end the game feeling as though it could have been even better?

Well, you can find the answers to those questions and the player piece here. Enjoy.

Next up, Watford. A Friday night game under lights and in front of the TV cameras. See you there…

Nick Bruzon

Was the boss really watching the same game as us? Did anyone impress?

4 Dec

Brentford head up to Leeds United on Sunday off the back of that 2-0 defeat at Tottenham. Spurs deserving of the win in a game where the Bees seemed very much on the back foot. Thomas Frank would use his press conference prior to that Leeds game to say, “I loved our approach; we were front-footed, we were aggressive, we were pressing forward and pressing high throughout the game. I love that we were brave and wanted to be on the ball.”

A first appearance since Covid tests for Jensen

Ok. That’s his view and respect for the opinion but we called it differently. Very differently. Did anyone display this high press at Tottenham? Who was brave? Who wanted to be on the ball more than Spurs and, as importantly, how? Well, the latest player analysis from that one is now online and can be found here.The good news being that there are positives to be found with some key players finding form and some new names troubling the charts to discover who will be the main men for Brentford over the course of 2021/21.

Enjoy. And see you at Leeds United.

Nick Bruzon

Who starts? Who is fit? Can we do it?

2 Dec

Well that’s all got interesting this week. Everton followed their defeat at Brentford on Sunday with an absolute home humping to Liverpool last night. It ended 1-4 with the only question being asked as the game progressed was how it had taken the Reds so long (nine minutes) to open their account? All of which means that if Brentford win at Tottenham tonight and Manchester United fail to beat Arsenal then the Bees will move up to 7th (seventh) in the table. The European spots beckon. Just the small matter of winning at Spurs to contend with first. Hmmm.

Ok. So Everton was a win, there were some impressive performances from key individuals and the table doesn’t lie over the course of a season. Spirits will be high for this one although who makes it into the starting XI remains to be seen with several players appearing to go off injured on Sunday afternoon. Brentford head coach Thomas Frank was playing those cards close to his chest, with the only significant news being that Kris Ajer will likely be out for another 3-4 weeks whilst Zanka is being assessed weekly. Otherwise, Thomas told us that he has, ”The squad from last game, all the players will be available for this game. No extra players will be available.

Full time, Sunday

With an intense period of games coming up, is this the time to twist? Or will Thomas hold fire for Leeds United and Watford? I’ve no idea. For me, Clive, Rico was run into the ground last season, culminating in that lengthy absence. He won’t want to miss out tonight though, that’s for sure. If they’re fit then go strong.

Tottenham, it would be fair to say, have had a mixed season so far. Antonio Conte seemed to have steadied the ship and then there was the debacle of the European defeat at the hands of Latvian outfit NS Mura. Cripes, that was grim viewing for anyone in N17.

The games are thick and fast

We all know the challenge ahead. We’ll be loud, the Bees are outsiders (although at 17/4, odds have definitely been longer at various points in the season. Liverpool and Chelsea in particular where I think we were 9s, at home) and its a new stadium etc etc etc For Brentford fans, we’ve heard it all before so not much to add. All we can do is be out best. 

As much as anything, probably worth reading the travel guide on Brentford ‘official’ . Likewise, and especially for those coming in directly from work, the Tottenham bag policy. That’s a proverbial ball-ache nobody needs. Likewise, if anyone could clarify the difference between a laptop bag and a laptop sleeve, that would be appreciated. There’s no idea how draconian the stewards will be – Brentford levels or militant. Travel light and prepare for a walk seems to be the key, here.

There’s not much else to say at this juncture. Beyond please don’t forget its a 7.30pm kick off. All the fallout will come tomorrow. For now, enjoy the game and see you there. 

Nick Bruzon

Apologies to Bush (Andy, not Shepherd’s) as hectic month awaits and social media delivers.

30 Nov

December is here. A non-stop charge into action with Brentford facing 7(seven) league games aswell as that league cup quarter final at Lionel Road. Victory against Everton on Sunday the perfect way to set ourselves up for the coming month. Next up are Spurs, Leeds United, Watford, Manchester United etc etc etc It’ll be nuts. It’ll be chaotic. It’ll be a whole lot of fun.

Everton already seems an after thought. A game of football that will live long in the record books as a 1-0 win for Brentford. That’ll do for me. Take the points, exorcise the memory and move on. Our opposition in about an awful a run of form as they come and for whom a lesson in injury related sportsmanship wouldn’t go amiss, either. Thoughts and prayers for Lucas Digne. Thoughts and prayers. What a shame the same didn’t happen and the ball kicked out when Rico Henry was actually crocked. 

Still, its all been and gone now. A win for the Bees is a win. Not to mention a clean sheet, another Ivan Toney penalty taking masterclass and a couple of (perhaps) unexpected entrants into the look at our top five performers. Were we wrong? Who missed out? Who should have been included? The journey to discover our season long contenders continues, too, and you can see that here.

Did Sergi’s hair make the top five?

As for this morning, I’m feeling a bit ‘Peter Gilham’. Specifically, the time he was obliged to promote the club’s latest foray into social media. Live on pitch he encouraged us to use, “Snapchat”. Then paused for a moment before adding, “Whatever that is.”

I was sent a video by a friend who was making his first visit to The Brentford Community Stadium. And no, it wasn’t Absolute radio DJ Andy Bush and Everton who, as it turned out, may not actually have been making his initial trip to our new home. In fact, it seems the frustration endured was limited to TV viewing, judging by the first hour of yesterday’s Hometime show.

As such, my apologies for the mix up which saw his file picture published in the announcements page. And when I say his, I mean ‘a’.

DJs with glasses – they all look so similar…

We’re fortunate enough to have many friendly and familiar faces around us where we sit in the North stand. Some we’ve been near for years and others who, Brentford being Brentford, we just know because everyone knows everyone.

Our H has picked up where he left off at Griffin Park and, sitting in relatively close proximity to the pitch,  still absorbs the moment of victory like no other. Perhaps barring one. So it certainly put a smile on our faces when ‘the moment’ was captured on a Tik Tok (whatever that i…) .

@brentfordfc

This. Is. Football. ❤️

♬ original sound – Tik Toker

And talking of Peter / social media, well it would be remiss not to revisit this one. We’ve all seen it but on a bitter cold Tuesday morning, may well put a smile on the face. Mr. Brentford delivering again. And again. Any excuse…..

As for Spurs, we go into our game at their new home on Thursday with several injury related questions in the air. Whilst Shandon Baptiste and Yoanne Wissa both made it onto the pitch from the bench against Everton, Christian Norgaard went off minutes after sitting down and clutching his back. Likewise Sergi Canos and Rico Henry. Fingers crossed both were precautionary. Having to reshuffle the pack once more, just as payers are returning, a headache Thomas Frank could well do without. Moreso given we head to Leeds United on Sunday. 

My £30 ticket is in hand for that one. £30. Thank you Leeds. So generous. Worth going for the pleasure of not having our pockets picked on the way in as happened so often in the Championship. And League One. Remember that? Oh, Ben Strevens….

Still, that’s to come. As are Watford, Man U et al . With forthcoming programme columns coming out of the ears, these pages may go a bit darker territory than normal. Perhaps not. Let’s just play it by ear. One things for sure, with a game every few days next month it’s going to be football, football, football. And I can’t wait. See you there.

Ben Strevens. At Leeds United. In League One

Nick Bruzon 

Bravery and aggression are the key as we look for Rico, Ivan and, err, Allan.

28 Nov

Brentford go into Sunday’s game at home to Everton with positive news on the injury front and the taste for goal after hitting three at Newcastle United last week (summarised here). The downside being our recent form has also seen defensive solidity thinner than the laughs in an episode of Mrs Browns Boys. With ten conceded in the last four games there’s only one way back from there. A battling point at St. James Park saw the focus very much being on the front foot and more will be the same when Rafa Benitez brings what is left of his injury ravaged squad to Lionel Road.

Thomas Frank used this week’s press conference to emphasise the importance, and intent, of taking the game to our opponents. The words brave and aggressive cropped up again and again with the mindset being that the best chance of beating Everton will be to outscore them. Obvious, perhaps, but why not throw caution to the wind and dictate the pace?

Thomas – come for the quotes, stay for the knitwear

Brentford are the home team and the desire to take the game to our visitors is, as Thomas noted, the piece of the puzzle that is in our hands. “It is very important that our approach is front-footed, aggressive, and brave. That is the bit I can control”, also nothing that “We need to consistently press high, be aggressive, and run in behind….we need to be able and have a mindset to take risks if you want to have a better chance of winning football matches.

You can read that in full on Brentford ‘official’. The other good news to come out of the press conference is on the fitness front. Wissa will be on the bench whilst Mads Bech is available once more, as is Mathias Jensen. For me, Clive, this is nothing but positive. Mads gives that extra option at the back and, of course, has those long throws that cause mayhem in the box. As for Wissa, well we’re all familiar with his heroics. It’s as close to a certainty as possible that we’ll see him put in an appearance at some point. With Shandon Baptiste also getting a late run at Newcastle, all of a sudden there are options. 

This is even better news given that if ever there was a chance to get back in the saddle then today is the day. Mind you, we said the same against Norwich City and look how that turned out. Groan. Everton’s confirmed absences include Richarlison and Mason Holgate (both suspended) whilst Yerry Mina, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Andre Gomes and Tom Davies also miss out. Indeed, there’s a stat on the BBC that highlights the importance of Calvert-Lewin, with the club winning just 21% of their games without him since the beginning of last season compared to 50% when he plays. Ultimately, stats don’t win games just as a single player does not make a team. Yet, at the same time, one can’t overlook the importance of a game-changer and, for Brentford, that absence can only be a boost.

The downside being the availability of Allan. Our H, just as with Lucas Biglia of Argentina during World Cup 2018, has become fascinated with a random player outside of our own. Whilst I’ve still no idea what drove the Biglia thing and nor does he in retrospect, it’s happened again.

Biglia. Why?

In the Premier League it is the Everton midfielder although at least this time we do know why. Much like our own Zanka, it’s the fact that he’s that rare breed of footballer known by a single name. Something that is very much associated with Brazil. And H is intrigued by it.

Pele, Alisson, Ronaldinho, Socrates, Zico….Allan (or some variant in the long list of exotic sounding South Americans) has become the refrain in the build up to this one. He’s certainly the one we have marked as a major road block to our potential success today. On a sidenote, my bookmaker (used purely for research purposes) has him at 14-1 to score at anytime today. I’m already terrified. Then again, for what its worth I’m calling this one 3-1 Brentford today so if anybody must score for the opposition then…

Allan – the main man for Everton and 14-1 to score at any time. Gulp…

The other stat of note in the build up to this concerns Lionel Road. Funnily enough, given the fortress that it has felt, less than a third of our points have come at home. This is the lowest ratio of any top-flight team and equally surprising given the way we played against Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Then again, the way we played against Brighton and Norwich City (in particular) perhaps tells a tale. Big games + big noise = big performance. The visit of Everton certainly fits into the former category so let’s hope that the rest, combined with Thomas going for goal, follows suit.

Off field, pre-match covid status checks aside (joy), the excitement surrounds the return of the Panini Adrenalyn XL cards swap-shop under the Family Stand from 1pm. Try saying that three times in a row. Fair to say H (definitely H) has taken to the trading cards with some enthusiasm. Despite the downside being a haemorrhaging of the piggy bank, he’s almost completed the whole Brentford team. Just Rico Henry and Ivan Toney (elite) to go. If anyone has either of these and is doing swaps, he’ll be there with the spares and the other ‘needs’ list from 1.30pm.

Until then, see you there. It was bitter standing on the sidelines for 90 minutes at football club yesterday so for crying out loud, don’t freeze your bits off today. Wind chill factor alone sure to dampen the spirits. No harm in wearing the pre-match beer jacket either. It’ll help the volume and keep the cold out. Bring it on. And bring your swaps.

Can anyone help complete the set?

Nick Bruzon 

We have out next two refs. What do you think of where we are at?

23 Nov

The dust has settled. The point is in the bag for Brentford. A 3-3 with Newcastle United seeing some reward coming our way and now the prospect of midweek fixtures to look forward to once more. Back to back TV games, too. First up Everton at Lionel Road on Sunday afternoon (Sky), followed by the trip to Spurs next Thursday evening (Amazon Prime). We’ve had the referees named for both fixtures already. Everton sees Darren England at the helm with the trip to Tottenham overseen by Jonathan Moss. 

First up, though, the last knockings from Newcastle United. Whilst we don’t normally do full fat match reports on these pages, this season is slightly different. In an attempt to provide some more in depth analysis, we’ve started tracking the form – shot and long term – of those players doing their thing for Brentford in the top flight. Who were the main men on the day? Who is leading the season long charge in terms of being ‘first name on the team sheet’? Consistent good form that makes them the players Thomas Frank just can’t do without?

You can find the answers to those, here. Or, at the least, yours truly’s take. No doubt there’s some glaring omission or schoolboy error of judgement. Or have we got it right? Over to you…

As for those forthcoming games, Thomas Frank had gone into the fixture with Newcastles suggesting Matthias Jensen, Yoanne Wissa and Shandon Baptiste could be involved. In the end, we started with two centre backs and the only one of the aforementioned names to put in an appearance being a last minute cameo from Shandon. I’ll take that and party. His introduction to Premier League football had been a stunning one, that red card wobble at Wolves aside. Moreso given the lengthy absence he had suffered previously. So to see him leave the field at West Ham with that dislocated shoulder was, to be polite, frustrating.

Yet despite the usual protracted absence that goes with injuries to key players (Kris Ajer and David Raya, we’re thinking of you), this one has felt relatively brief. A four league game spell that has coincided with that much noted glitch in results. But with the LLLL put to bed and Shandon back in the mix, spirits are that bit higher going into the Everton weekend. 

Now, if Wissa can also do his medical thing, that would be quite the tonic. His appearances from the bench have been quite wonderful. As has ‘that’ celebration. Oh for another ‘W’ this Sunday.

Another of these would be a thing of beauty

Mr England is the main man for that one. As is usual in these situations, the name is familiar but is it for good or bad reasons? Well, a look back through the Last word archives suggests we’ve generally got away with it.

His key contribution to Brentford folklore being a red card administered to Sam Morsy of Wigan Athletic for poleaxing Yoann Barbet with a head butt.

Darren England has the helm when Everton come to town

As for Everton. Well we can look more at them closer to the time. If Brentford have had medical issues then the same can be said for our next opposition. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes all missed out on the 3-0 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday. Richarlison picked up a yellow card which means he misses the game at Lionel Road. All in all, a bad day at the office for Rafa who, like Thomas Frank, will be very much hoping for better news on the fitness front.

Then we have Spurs where its fair to say we’ve crossed paths with Jonathan Moss several times over the years. Aswell as an opportunity to insert the obligatory Culture Club joke, he’s probably best known in TW8 for not sending off Neal Maupay at Aston Villa after, err, doing that thing on Mile Jedinak. Move along, nothing to see here. Even if a post-match red was understandably shown. That game ending 2-2 with Dean Smith subsequently suggesting his opponent may have incited the ‘challenge’, to the point of deserving some further punishment himself.  The Head coach noting, “If you remember the incident, Mile Jedinak fell over, got up and then smashed Neal in the back of the head so, if they are looking at retrospective for Neal, then we’ll do so for Jedinak.

Plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks, that’s for sure. If nothing else, we’ve also got that marvellous opportunity of Leeds United being obliged to only charge us £30 to get into Elland Road. That alone being reason to brave the Sunday afternoon rail mayhem. For now though, time to catch our breath and reflect on where we are at present. That Newcastle United review is here. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon