Tag Archives: Matthew Benham

Double fantasy points to one result. Could it happen?

2 May

Four Premier League games to go. Brentford about to face Manchester United in a top flight fixture. Bees with their tails up following an unbeaten April that included the 4-1 trashing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and culminated in last weekend’s 0-0 with Tottenham. A game which, even now, seems bizarre that we ‘only’ took one point. Life is good. Further enhanced by Everton winning yesterday – something which has put the relegation cat amongst the pigeons. All of a sudden Leeds United finding destiny outside of their own hands. That final fixture of the season could be huge. All that’s to come, though. For now we need to focus on matters at hand. Namely our own top ten aspirations and a trip to Old Trafford.

This one really has it all to play for. A win for Brentford will take us to tenth in the table with just three games to play. Manchester United are eating dinner in the last chance saloon if Champions’ League qualification is the aspiration. Like Watford at the other end, only maths are keeping them alive. 8 points from fourth place with three games to play. The Bees with a wonderful chance to pull the plug on their life support before the inevitable blow is dealt by one of the many tams above them winning an actual game. With the Theatre of Dreams (TM) more a place of nightmares at present, there will never be a better chance. Morale seems to be worse than that of the studio audience at a live recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys as Brendan O’Carroll fluffs his lines once more and they need to go again. Will the torture ever end?

For Brentford, there was great news in that both Kris Ajer and Christian Norgaard are expected to return. Magnificent though their respective covers did in the Spurs game, I can’t imagine Thomas Frank will mess around with making them fight for their place. Both players are just too good to leave on the bench if they are fit. Hardly cutting edge insight, granted, but at this point in the season the line up is largely settled and the team – now working around the magnificent Christian Eriksen – are on fire.

View from the away end – Christian shows how much it means at Chelsea

All the predictions of doom and gloom continue to be thrown back in the faces of those who utter them. 20th was the call before the season began. Relegation was the call as we hit that mid-winter blip. Even as recently as Saturday afternoon the team line up prompted reactions such as ‘Where are the centre backs’ and ‘Just seen the line-up. Time to stick a straw straight into a bottle of gin’. Again, the critics left with copious amounts of egg on face as Brentford again did what we’ve been doing all season.

Tonight will be no different. My online bookmaker (used purely for research purposes) has Brentford at 18/5. Manchester United 22/31. To be fair, a lot tighter than games against the clubs chasing Europe normally are but still a clear winner has been targeted by the bookies. And? It’s nothing new. We have the spirit. We have the form. We have the passion and the ability to pull it out the bag as seen at Chelsea. At West Ham. Against Liverpool, and Arsenal. That never say die spirit that has kept us going until the last kick of every game. Blood and guts turning draws into wins. 

And we have a green jacket. Cinderella, you shall go to the ball. After missing out on this one for a whole plethora of reasons, an 11th hour saviour has sailed in to view. Now, there is the offer of a return trip and a ticket. Jurassic Park!! I’m in. As the message went: “ I need to know if the green jacket will be making an appearance…

It has now been worn six times at games. It has seen 16 points. 

Norwich (a) W.

Burnley (h) W.

Chelsea (a) W

West Ham (h) W

Watford (a) W

Tottenham (h) D  – albeit worn by Mrs B due to yours truly’s enforced absence.

Could this luckiest of lucky totems inspire further glory? Or is it just down to Christian Eriksen? A mere coincidence that the run has matched those games he has started for Brentford.

En-route to another three points. This time, Watford.

As for Manchester United, they give the impression of a team intent on shooting themselves in the foot time and again. Only Cristiano Ronaldo, that talismanic tour de force, with his unpredictability and almost super human talent, able to offer any vague hope of salvation at the moment. A player who despite his own desperately sad personal news in recent works, still drives onwards. Still pulls the goals out the bag and the team out of the mire.

As we’ve said on the pages many times, an 18 month spell working in Manchester back in 2007-08 meant that I was often that most odious of species – an Old Trafford football tourist. The cliches about fans living down South all true as a colleague, who shared a pair of season tickets with three fans from London, often found he had a spare for midweek games. If Brentford weren’t playing at the likes of Accrington Stanley (coldest. away game. ever), Bury or Stockport County then what else was there to do of an evening? Amongst other visits I was there for the night Ronaldo defied logic and gravity to score ‘that’ free kick against Portsmouth. It is ability of that level that still sets the alarm bells off, even now – fourteen years later.

Still. That was then. This is now. Last night I had a strange dream (involving the fact that I somehow watched the game on Sky 24 hours before kick off) that Brentford win 3-1. Then, our Harry got up from bed, came out of his room and the first thing he said to me was, “Dad – we’re going to win 3-1 tonight.” .

Insert Twilight zone jingle. The go directly back to the bookie’s website for some further research. Undue optimism or is there something in the air? At 35/1, it would seem churlish not to have a nibble. Will it come off? I can’t wait to find out. See you there. Have jacket, will travel.

Until then, here’s the Tottenham catch up and player review….

Nick Bruzon 

One step closer to the mother of all first team comebacks….

15 Feb

Could Valentine’s Day have been any sexier? The pass from Christian Eriksen to free up Josh Dasilva for the first of the midfielder’s hat-trick when Brentford hosted Southend United in that ‘behind closed doors’ friendly yesterday was about as, err, stimulating as it got. It was a game in which the return of Tariqe Fosu would have had others licking their lips at the prospect of what might happen to our midfield by the end of the season. Most importantly though, it saw Christian back out on the field of play for the first time since, well, we all know. Will Arsenal on Saturday be too soon? Is a cameo from the bench against Newcastle United the more realistic option? Frankly, who knows? If the reception received when he appeared before the Crystal Palace game is anything to go by it’ll go bonkers when things finally happen for real. Whenever that may be.

A thing of beauty unfolds

There’s not much to really add at this juncture. The entire Brentford family united in good wishes to the player and anticipation about what will come, whenever it does. The most beautiful conclusion to the most awful of events. And yes, I’ve already referenced back to it. It’s just so hard not to. How lovely will it be when we are talking about what just happened in the Premier league rather than what happened in the Euros?

Surely everybody that wants to has seen the highlights already? They’re below if not. You’ve also got the ‘official’ report on Brentford ‘official’ which can be found here. All eyes were, understandably, focussed on Christian. Brentford was once again trending on Twitter (fists being shaken angrily from Essex where Brentwood continues that slide out of the limelight – of all the things that Matthew Benham has done, that’s up there with the best) but , for me Clive, it was Josh Dasilva who should be making us all take notice.

The three goals he scored were great but that he managed the full 90 minutes is just huge, huge news. He’s already had a clutch of half-hour first team appearances but could Arsenal on Saturday see his first start in the Premier League? Even if for one of Thomas Frank’s much telegraphed 60 minute substitutions? Might it give us the first hint at the favourite three in the middle? With Josh and Mathias Jensen both placing well in the Crystal Palace post-match round up – both yours truly’s attempt and, in the case of the later, ‘official MOTM – might Vitaly be the man to miss out?

It sounds implausible we’d even have to consider this. Short of switching the German U-21 to right wing back, reserve goalkeeper or keeping Christian (N) in front of the defensive trio and really locking up centre mid at the expensive of one of our more familiar attacking options, 3 into 4 won’t go. Make that 5 when Eriksen is good to go.

For me Clive, its not an immediate ‘problem’. I’d suspect that Thomas will stick with Janelt, Jensen and Norgaard for Arsenal.  Give Josh one more half hour appearance in the second half and then, boom. Newcastle United will see it all start in earnest. Then again, I thought Everton in the FA Cup was too early for David Raya and look what happened there?

David had an earlier than expected return

It’s a beautiful guessing game to have to play, that’s for sure. Only Thomas and his medical team have the answers. Only they know the preferred starting XI once everybody is fully fit. The sight of a squad decimated by covid nothing but a distant memory. The wealth of potential midfield riches a joy to behold.

Sometimes, less is more so let’s wrap up. We’re getting points back on the board after the Crystal Palace game. Next up, Arsenal on Saturday. That one’s a sell-out, of course, and will be huge.

The chance to complete our first Premier League ‘double ‘of the season.

The opportunity to go one better than our last visit to the library in Highbury.

The prospect of seeing who Thomas has available.

I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there.

It says Liberia, not Library…

Nick Bruzon    

Who were the crown jewels against Palace ?

13 Feb

Another day, another game. Brentford arrested the recent run of defeats on Saturday afternoon with a 0-0 home draw against Crystal Palace. It was an afternoon that saw David Raya playing at home for the first time in months and Josh Dasilva finally back out in front of the Lionel Road crowd. Fingers crossed he’s good for Arsenal on Saturday, based on what we saw..

As ever, it’s time to take a look at some of the game highlights and those players that shone. Who were the Brentford top five? How does Thomas pick his midfield for Arsenal and beyond? Has the result agsasint Crystal Palace had any bearing on our season long hunt for the top Bees’ performers? Well, the thoughts on all of those can be found in the latest player review, here.

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Might City take a tumble? Could we go top ten?

9 Feb

After the euphoria of Saturday’s 4-1 FA Cup victory, time for a massive dose of reality and coming back down to earth with a bump. Manchester City may have breezed into the fifth round at the weekend but their challenge tonight is as tough as it comes when Brentford make another trip to the North-West for a Premier League fixture. Just as for Frank Lampard’s Everton, who discovered that the same level of high scoring success in the pursuit of Wembley may not translate to the league when they were thumped at Newcastle United. Defeat for Watford at West Ham, whose selection of cat kicking Kurt Zouma was about as shameless as it gets given the words out of the club and manager David Moyes, and another draw for Burnley mean that the bottom three, or even five, remain relatively detatched. Whilst some Brentford fans are feeling the angst about getting potentially sucked into that pack, the simple fact is that victory over Manchester City by 9 goals or more will see us back in the top ten. Simple.

Granted, you can’t bet on higher than a 5-0 victory for Brentford or more than six goals being scored in total (at least, not on my bookmaker’s site). Even then the odds of 250-1 and 5-1 respectively suggest that victory by the magic margin may be something best confined to the realms of wishful thinking. The Manchester City squad one which runs so deep that even if they picked Mr. Tumble, you’d still expect the bookies to back them.

Pick him, Pep. Please

Thomas Frank would use his press conference yesterday to outline the challenge although also acknowledging the fact that, “It’s still 11 vs 11 tomorrow night. We are looking forward to a massive challenge, maybe our biggest of the season, but it is about believing that you can get something out of it and giving it a massive go.”

He was also savvy enough to note that, “If we go and get something out of the match it’ll be one of the biggest surprises in this year’s Premier League. Manchester City are the clear number one in the league, playing some brilliant football and having a fantastic season“.

This, very much, the expectation from just about everyone outside TW8. It is a free hit of a game. On paper a seemingly impossible task in a match with nothing to lose, barring the presumed result, and everything to gain.  Manchester City are league leaders and champions. Expected to romp home. To pick up where they left off against Fulham on Saturday afternoon. It’s a shame the EFL club were unable to offer any real resistance to City. Even to take them to extra time. But there you go.

Indeed, if there was any consolation to take from our own thing at Frank Lamp etc etc (we’ll take that as assumed from now on) Everton, it was that at least our torture was over in regulation time. There was no dragging it out any longer. No extended runout for a largely first choice XI.  Likewise, the returns of David Raya and that wonderful cameo from Josh Dasilva late on. Christian Eriksen is not available for selection as yet (in itself, about as bizarre a statement as one might have considered commiting to paper at the start of the season) but Yoanne Wissa and Bryan Mbeumo are both back in contention after missing out at Goodison Park.  

Christian remains in training, for now

For those expecting a change in formation, keep on waiting. Thomas also using his conference to confirm that the three centre back set up remains for now. It is more how we get the best out of it. With no word given on Ethan Pinnock – that I saw – short of this being some double bluff then one would expect things to remain as they were on Saturday. Hopefully the set piece coach has done his thing in training. With opposition corner kicks being the equivalent of a penalty kick at present, such is the ease with which goals come, the ability to head the ball (and outwards) will be crititcal. For all we were talking up the rewards that racing to and and past brackets could afford Brentford in terms of table position by full time, the simple fact of the matter is that unless we’ve upped our defensive game rapidly since the Everton debacle, it could be City relying on the abacus to keep track.

For what its worth, I’m expecting a ten times better performance tonight. Win, lose or draw this is about as big as it gets. As hard as it comes. Manchester City away is always the toughest game of a campaign for any other side, let alone a team who have never played at this level before. Then again, perhaps going into it without the baggage of past experience  – given that for most other sides that experience is usually a brutal one – is the best weapon up our sleeves.

If anything, it is our performances against the top teams that have seen Brentford at their very best. Whilst the trips to Burnley, Southampton and Everton have been amongst the real low points, faced with top six opposition the opposite has been true. The Bees raising their game to quite wonderful levels against Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Blitzing Man United in that first half before eventually being outplayed and, of course, that wonderful win at West Ham – Wissa’s late, late winner still up there with my favourite moments of the season. As much for the reaction of the home support just to our left. Meow!!

A shame the club didn’t share the same passion for animal rights but, there you go.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

Even the visit from Manchester City in December only saw them win it by the odd goal in one. Again, there had been early chances for Brentford before our opponents showed their class and speed to break down the other end and open us up as easily as a can of baked beans. 0-0 and on the backfoot became 0-1 in a matter of seconds. Close but no cigar.

Will tonight be any different? Nobody gives us a prayer, that’s for sure. Whether blind optimism is enough to carry us through or Thomas Frank has something special up his sleeve will become clear when things start at 7.45 pm.

Bring it on !

There’d be scenes to rival this moment if we can get a result tonight

Nick Bruzon

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