Tag Archives: Matthew Benham

Sorted for Bees and Wissa. Leeds pulped by Ivan hat-trick.

4 Sep

Ivan Toney you absolute goal scoring machine. Thomas Frank, you tactical genius. Brentford you beauties. Hey, even Keith Stroud. A 5-2 tonking of Leeds United at Lionel Road was a performance to rival that 4-0 win the other week. To make Frank Lampard realise how much of a bullet his Everton team may have dodged in the 1-1 last Saturday. As Manchester United discovered, when Brentford hit the back of the net there’s nobody going to stop us. Yet even then, what happened yesterday was beyond even the wildest of anyone’s pre-match predictions.

Brentford are up to 7th (seventh) in the Premier League table. The performance one of our greatest. Leeds blown away like an empty crisp packet caught on the breeze. Ivan Toney banging in a hat-trick of such quality it needs to be seen to be believed. The first, an ice-cool penalty of the like we’ve seen so many times yet which still induces that gut wrenching nausea. How can anybody be so calm from the spot? That two step approach to the ball at almost stumbling speed? Yet still bury it with all the speed of a hitman disposing of a still warm corpse?

Goooaalllllll. 1-0. Ivan from the spot

Then, the free kick to make it 2-0 just prior to half time. Shandon Baptiste being fouled out side the box and Ivan scoring with a world class curling ball into the top corner that left Meslier in nets able to do nothing beyond watch it go over the wall and beyond him. 

Yet it was the calmness of finish and presence of mind to stay cool for his hat-trick goal that had fans in raptures. Meslier rushing out of the box to prevent KLP from bearing down on goal was only able to find Ivan. Instead of hitting it first time he dribbled and waited until the time was right. Despite the plethora of Leeds defenders still in and around the box, his chip from outside the area cleared them all to make it 3-1 Brentford. Game over Leeds United. A hat trick of rare quality from a man whose stock continues to rise. With a World Cup approaching, he couldn’t have picked a better time.

Yet if Ivan’s goals gave the final result an air of inevitability, nothing could have been further from the truth. Patrick Bamford was then the right man in the right place to make wonderful goal line clearance when the ball was played over and the goalkeeper left stranded. That Leeds United were attacking at the time only goes to show just what a sweet, sweet afternoon it was turning out to be. How he steered it away from goal rather than in to the unguarded net I still have no idea. Still, that’s their concern.

Besides, a moment or two later they did manage to pull one back. A mess up in a crowded box or, as Mrs Bruzon so succinctly put things, ”A bit of a sorry shambles.” (or words to that effect). Urghh. The lead pegged back to 3-2 and ten minutes to go. It could, maybe should, have been a long and painful limp to the line. It’s Brentford, innit? Instead, the polar opposite was the case.

Within ten seconds of the restart, Bryan Mbeumo had double our lead once more. The desperate pleas for offside from Leeds not factoring in that it has been their own Koch who played him through. After you, Claude…. Meslier left with no chance. The game as good as over.

Then, who else but Wissa to round it off? Another cool finish as he stole the ball to run in on goal and fire it past Meslier. The moment underlined by Peter Gilham bursting into ‘Happy Birthday’ to Wissa as he announced the scorer. Only at Brentford.

It might have been six soon after that but let’s not be greedy. A wonderful afternoon with a wonderful scoreline. Captain Pontus letting everyone  – home and away – how he felt about things. About how much a Brentford man he is.

Despite all the goals perhaps the biggest cheer was one reserved for our old friend Keith Stroud getting in on the act as only he can do. Jesse Marsch may have a little back book chock full of former players he can sign up, but his lack of experience at this level was shown by his courting the wrath of Keith.

The warning signs were there for anybody in the know

Woebetide anybody messing around when the card happy official is on duty, let alone in the fourth official role. It takes brave, or naive, man to do that at any time. Let alone with Mr. Stroud having been seen a back door to potential Premier League officialdom opening.

Marsch may well have been incensed by the lack of penalty awarded to Leeds United. Personally, I’m not quite sure how we dodged it but, for once, VAR has gone our way. Move along, nothing to see here.

Yet his constant excursions outside the technical area and harassment of the officials would eventually be his undoing. Mr Stroud bringing the attention of referee Robert Jones to March’s transgressions and a red card was shown. Match of The Day helpfully capturing the moment, with Keith also pointing to the back of the stand from where Marsch had to watch the rest of the game.

Up there. Keep going until you reach the back

The post match debrief and player review is up shortly. Ivan has, of course, grabbed all the headlines but this was such a wonderful team performance that, if anything, only being able to choose another four players from the sixteen used by Thomas was a real challenge. From defence through midfield and infant of goal the tea were magnificent. The first holf hour suggesting a game that really could have gone either way. The Bees twice pulled back to a single goal lead until the advantage was eventually sledge hammered home.

In the end though, despite the heroics from everyone . Despite the cameo from Keith. Despite our own five goals all the headlines will be about one man. Ivan Toney. We know how good he is. Perhaps, finally, Gareth Southgate will be forced to sit up and take notice.  

As one final note, huge thanks to all at the club. Our own visit to the South Stand for this one culminated in yet another display of how chilled our own squad is. How down to earth they remain. How much of a family club we still are at heart.

One happy boy at FT

The excitement from our H when he met Wissa and Ben Mee, only matched by his chatting with Bryan at full time.

Fair to say somebody enjoyed himself

Likewise, this game even saw another jinx busted. ‘Bring somebody new. Lose the game’ . It has long been a mantra in our group that goes back to League Two days. We always want newcomers to come along for but, at the time, there seemed to be an almost predetermined outcome to what would happen in that situation. Taking the hit for the team and our friends.

Times are different now, of course, but coming from somebody who as recently as last season was luxuriating in the point pulling power of the green jacket, these habits die heard. Especially given my own choice of attire for this one was the equally lucky ‘Gary Blissett Hummel’. As such, to be told pre kickoff by part of the group from Hollywood Bets that, “This is my first Brentford game” the smile on my face was anything but reciprocated internally.

Prematch build up and lucky shirts with the team Hollywood Bets

Full time, of course, would turn out to be totally different. A 5-2 win proving that even the most ancient of taboos are no longer, necessarily, relevant in these days of Premier League football *.

That’s it for this one. Sometimes, words aren’t enough. You just have to revel in the moment. Enjoy the memories. Perhaps go and watch Match Of The Day just one more time……

Now bring on Southampton.

* Please note: I still reserve the right to wear the green jacket later this season.

Fair to say a wonderful time was had by all – even Nick from G-Tech .

Nick Bruzon

1-1 draw sees another sting in the tail.

31 Aug

What else can you say about Brentford? Five games in to the season and we’re already running out of superlatives to describe the indefatigability (is the even a word?) of Thomas Frank’s squad. Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace was, like Everton on Saturday, another game where we left it until the very end of the game to finally reap our reward. Yoanne Wissa left unmarked in the box and rising like a salmon to head home Vitaly Janelt’s delicious ball over the home defence. It was no less than we deserved on the balance of play but, as we all know, it is goals not possession or chances that eventually win games. As with Everton on Saturday, Brentford broke opposition hearts after delivering a timely reminder that football is a 90 minute game. The visit of Leeds United on Saturday cannot come quickly enough. Tails are up and morale is high. 

What a finish at The Palace

Brentford were magnificent. Crystal Palace away is always a tough one. The team announcement made that challenge even sterner with the news that Christian Norgaard had joined Pontus Jansson on the sidelines. All being well both will return for Leeds on Saturday although, if not, the Bees look to be in safe hands. Ben Mee and Zanka had another run out together at the back although the real defensive plaudits should be handed to Rico Henry and Aaron Hickey. My word, they were magnificent. The later keeping Wilfried Zaha under lock and key all game (although hats off for that moment of genius to produce the opening goal on the hour) and playing a huge part in the Palace man’s emotional post match interview.

The other man to play his part in that was none other than Yoanne Wissa. It would be fair to say he didn’t have the strongest game of his career against Everton at the weekend but what a difference a few days can make. Like some hybrid of David Fairclough (kids, ask a grown up) and Jota, he once again came off the bench to turn it up to 11. Chock full of energy and with what is now his trademark – a late, late goal.

It was as exhilarating for the Bees faithful as it was devastating for Palace. In particular, Zaha. Despite a butt clenching wait for VAR to do it’s thing, justice was eventually delivered. Cripes, not sure my heart could take another wait of that length. It was bad enough at Fulham when Ivan Toney’s back foot was adjudged to be interfering with play as he ran in the opposite direction to their goal. At least, then, there had been time to turn it around. Had this one been somehow chalked off I suspect the officials may have required safe passage from the field of play. At least, to protect their ears.

Instead it was Brentford who almost wrapped up all three points, having gone behind to Zaha’s wonderful strike on the hour. Ivan Toney with the pass of the match to release Rico Henry from nowhere. Vicente Guaita produced a fine stop to smother his effort and push it away. He was powerless to do anything about Ben Mee’s header into the ground and onto the crossbar from the resulting corner. Huge sighs of relief all round from the home support. The game wrapping up shortly after and the spoils shared. The full post match debrief and player review is up here now for anybody wanting a little bit more on the match specifics.

So close from Ben Mee

For now, it is another well earned point. Three draws, one win and a solitary defeat from our opening five fixtures. Brentford currently in ninth as we await that point where the fledgling table can officially be declared to have taken shape. The response to our equaliser as joyous as they come. The performance equally so, especially given the absentees. Janelt’s ball to Wissa vying with Ivan’s to Rico for moment of the match. Hickey and Henry may sound like a legal firm but, in practice, the flying full backs give Brentford even further options down either flank. 

It would be wonderful to take the lead rather than play catch up. Only Manchester United (h) has seen us do that. Every other game has seen us fall behind until, mostly, reaping some form of reward. Then again, Thomas has been quite clear about having his starting and finishing XIs. In using his tactics to benefit from the fact that a game of football lasts for 90 minutes. My heart would benefit from the calmness of 4-0 lead on the half hour every game but there’s no denying the excitement generated by those late, late points.

As for Wissa, what do you do? Keep him as the perennial super(b) sub where his energy and ability inspire the team, invigorate the fans and and get the goals? Or have him on from the start with the hope he gets the rub of the green? Who’d be a head coach? What a lovely problem for Thomas to have.  

This Saturday sees the visit of Leeds United. There aren’t enough words to describe the history on that one. To talk up the heartbreaking denouement to last season where, ironically, it was Brentford who fell apart. Sergi’s equaliser setting up the chance for the win that would have relegated Leeds. Instead, his red card for exuberant celebration and a rash challenge saw the then 9 man Bees unable to push on for the win that would have sunk our opponents. Instead, Jack Harrison’s 94th minute goal secured all three points and safety for the Elland Road outfit.

That was then. This is now. Whilst I am sure Thomas Frank will have put it all behind him and will be playing the moment, you can be sure the fans won’t have. How sweet would it be to pick up another home win against these of all opponents.

Roll on Saturday when we find out….

Brentford official would share this on their Twitter feed

Nick Bruzon

Footballing gods serve up a chance for instant payback on Saturday. How will it go?

12 Aug

Saturday evening is almost here. Brentford host Manchester United in our first home game of the season. A game going out live across the world on TV. A game that sees us with a superb opportunity to carry on where we left off at Leicester City. A squad further boosted by the wonderful double news of Mikkel Damsgaard signing and then being revealed wearing our new third shirt. Our opponents, meanwhile, still smarting from their own opening day home humbling at the hands of Brighton and Hove Albion – (C) The Middlesex Chronicle Big Book of 80s alliterative headlines / Jim Levack. All the focus should be on the wonderful occasion it is sure to be. Yet, the footballing gods being what they are, the game has served up a further twist in the interminable tale that is the Christian Eriksen transfer saga. That, of course, being our first game back at Lionel Road will see him turning out once more – albeit this time in Puke green (if you believe the photos of United’s new ‘third’ shirt) rather than red and white. So let’s get that out the way and then move on. Hopefully forever.   

 

Damsgaard – new player ; new shirt

Nobody could deny the excitement in the air last season as the stories started to build that we may be making what was seen (then) as an audacious bid to help Christian pick up his career after that thing at the Euros. The thought of attracting a World Class player to Brentford just about as impossible as things get but that’s what we always do – make the impossible possible.

It was more tantalising a prospect given that, at the time, we were definitely in a form dip. The injury to David Raya along with fixture congestion and covid cases meant the early season juggernaut had very much hit the buffers. Norwich City. Burnley. Southampton. Brighton. Just some of the names that spring to mind. Then Christian came in, got his fitness back and his introduction to the starting XI coincided with our return to winning ways. Chelsea. West Ham. Watford. Burnley. Just some of the names that spring to mind. Ironically, the one real poor performance being the one against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Very much a ‘no show’ when our hosts were there for the taking.

Happy days at Chelsea

Anyway, long story short the narrative built up in the media is that Eriksen saved Brentford’s season. And to that I say bollocks. There’s no doubt he gave us a HUGE boost. That he was quite wonderful for the Bees. That a starting XI with him in it would always have been the selection of choice. He was amazing. He was a breath of fresh air. He was skill on a stick with that calmness and passing range one could only aspire to.  Yet he wasn’t the only factor.

From where I was sitting, it was undoubtedly the return of David Raya that was THE single key factor which – if you had to name one thing that ‘saved our season’ – we should be looking at. Suddenly, our opponents discovered that goal scoring was an aspiration rather than a gimme (Oh, that third against Liverpool is still the stuff of nightmares). Suddenly the defence were calm again. Were confident. Suddenly the distribution had returned. Rather than sitting on the back foot we had the ability to build attacks from our own 18 yard box.

I’d also cite Wissa finding his feet. The performances of Rico Henry and Christian Norgaard. Ivan Toney scoring for fun once more. Vitaly Janelt. Yes, Eriksen inspired and helped but the players had it already. The players had showed early doors we weren’t just here to make up the numbers. Hey, even the green jacket had a role to play. Don’t knock it – I bet there’ll be more than a few of us pulling on the magic pants on Saturday morning

just some of the factors that put a late spring in our step

All of us which then brings us to the weekend and Manchester United. There’s been a lot of talk about how we ‘greet’ Christian. Polite applause on warm up and then boo the hell out of him seems to be the popular consensus on social media. I make no pretence that I’m still hurting massively. Not so much that he left for Old Trafford  – his decision to go for money and carnage is a personal one and that’s an individual’s choice. Few of us could resist the sort of figures being talked up in the press so let’s not pretend otherwise. 

More, it was the manner in which it all played out. We’d taken a chance. We’d formed what seemed, at face value, a beautiful relationship. Christian was king of the castle. The fans loved him. The players fed off him. He got back to winning ways. There was the obvious Danish connection. Then, what was always only a six month contract expired. Again, we knew this was going to happen. It was made clear from the off. Yet seeing how things had played out – so beautifully for both parties – there was a genuine belief amongst the fans that his signing on the dotted line would be a formality. Instead, there was nothing. Nothing.

Days turned to weeks. The list of potential suitors moving from the obvious – Spurs (the history)  and Newcastle (and their dumper truck full of money )  – to the ridiculous – Everton and Leicester City. All along, Brentford still being mentioned in tandem until the bookies dropped us like a stone.  Manchester United entered the mix but still nothing. No news. No updates. No decision. Like playing poker with a brick wall – nobody could read anything. The Bees back in the race all of a sudden as Spurs were deemed persona non grata. It was down to the two of us until, eventually, the stories started to leak that he had signed. Albeit nothing official. Nothing out of Old Trafford for another two weeks until, eventually, the news we’d all feared was confirmed. 

Good luck to him. At least we can all move on. And in the signing of Mikkel Damsgaard we certainly can. The man that replaced him in the Euros now replacing him at Lionel Road. Yet the manner it all played out in still feels raw. As we’ve said before, like Jota joining Birmingham City. We love our heroes. Worship them. We know they move on. That’s life. That’s football. Yet to remain tight lipped for so long. To then not even say farewell, beyond some crappy Instagram post that may aswell not even have bothered getting out of bed, it had already overslept for so long. To read all that talk about wanting Champions League football. Hmm.

So yes, my heart IS broken. It shouldn’t be but I’m a football fan. I’m emotional. He didn’t ‘save us’ but he was amazing. I’ll never forget Chelsea and Watford away. Or Norwich away. Or Burnley home. Any of them. Good, good times ad the smile will return in time. For now, though, I still feel like we’ve been dumped for the attractive girl who we can all see is a bit of a nightmare. And it hurts.

its over

I won’t be booing Christian. I’ll be booing all of them. If he plays / comes on then so be it. I can’t stand any of that self-entitled nonsense that goes with anything Old Trafford related. All that Fergie gumph. All that belief amongst their fans that they’ve a divine right to be competing at the very top because they used to be any good. The instant sacking of head coaches. Cripes, I thought we gave our manager a ridiculously hard time but that’s nothing compared to some of the crap you read. The worshipping of the man-boy Ronaldo.

Ah, who could forget his hissy fit at Lionel Raod last season? He didn’t even make the starting XI against Brighton. The complete antithesis of a team player. He may get the goals but the disruption to broader team play that trying to channel it through him does is clear for all. Not that it helped dropping him on Sunday. 

If anything , this, rather than Eriksen will provide the real sideshow on Saturday.

strop, strop, stop

Brentford will never have a better chance to beat Manchester United than on Saturday. Our confidence is high. We have new kits and that wonderful, wonderful new signing in Damsgaard. Our opponents seem to be in disarray. Lionel Road will be rocking. The first home game is always loud – just ask Arsenal – but I’ve got a feeling this one will be ten, times better. More than a few people – and players – with points to prove.

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

Until then, here’s the recap from Sunday and the performance at Leicester City…

Nick Bruzon

Christian Eriksen. The dream is over.

5 Jul

Oh. Christian Eriksen. He plays for Manchester United. They’re f’ing shite. Or however it is the song will now go. Brentford fans were last night left reeling from the news we’d all suspected but had hoped against hope wouldn’t be confirmed. Now, it would seem, the die is cast with even the BBC reporting the player has agreed a deal at Old Trafford. To be fair, whomever he had joined would have been seen as a slap in the face or a crazy move. Everton. Newcastle. Leicester City all amongst the other clubs being talked up. Now, rather than Brentford, the decision is Salford.  

Never again 😦

There’s been a lot of frustration out there last night. Others, with the ‘enjoy what we had ; it was only ever short term’ mentality.

I can sympathise with both view points but, personally speaking, right now it feels like a punch to the gut. Joining a club in complete disarray in return for a wheelbarrow load full of cash and the chance of Europa League football. Manchester United – a club whose fans will bang on about being one of the biggest in the world but who, realistically, have not been able to compete even domestically for years. Whose desperate chuck of the dice at Cristiano Ronaldo is now imploding in dramatic style. Whose defence is shot to pieces and attacking options about as potent as a toothless lion. For whom throwing money at the problem – see also: Pogba, has hardly been a recipe for success in recent seasons.

Good luck to both of them. Brentford enjoyed the very best Christian had to offer once his fitness had returned. The Brentford that guided him back into the game and took a chance on a player whom, well, we all know what had happened. The Brentford that gave him a surrogate Danish family and the chance to play alongside his international team mates going in to this winter’s World Cup. Who were ideally placed for the London lifestyle his nearest and dearest had, apparently, been so comfortable in.

Instead, as with everything in life, money talks. Certainly, if you believe what you read about signing on fees and a salary what will be, at the least, three times what we were able / prepared (delete as applicable) to offer. No doubt we’ll hear talk about the stature of Manchester United and the chance to return them to former glories. Perhaps he will achieve that. Perhaps the lure was the chance of reigniting a former giant. A club where reminders of Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy still hang from every available space like some footballing albatross around the neck. Good luck to him. Genuinely.    

We had some good times together. Some amazing times. Chelsea and Watford away in particular but, to be fair, every time he started we upped our game. He hit our own top five pretty much every time he played. Christian didn’t ‘save us from relegation’ but he did help get us going again.

Let’s not forget how well we were placed and how strong we were doing before David Raya got crocked against Leicester City.  As Kitman Bob said in his own insider’s perspective last time out on these pages: “ At the point we hit a sticky patch the mood at the training ground never changed from that first game. Staff and players knew we had a plan and there was never any panic or worry amongst us. The signing of Christian Eriksen, I cannot lie, gave the whole place an even bigger boost but on the same level was seeing the return of David Raya.”

I’m just a naive fool. A footballing romantic. Despite the talk of money and the chance to play in Europe (albeit the Champions League is a long, long way off right now), I honestly thought we’d be seeing him again. 100% convinced. Instead, I’m left with that same numb feeling as when Jota left for Birmingham City. A talisman departing for a godawful club. That awful emptiness. Them, of all places. 

This is how it feels right now

Things will be good again. They always are. Aaron Hickey and Keane Lewis-Potter are seemingly coming in. Josh Dasilva is back. Ethan Pinnock is fit. David Raya showed just how much he does for us whilst Christian Norgaard was a goat. Or whatever it is the kids say.  

Plus, as importantly, we’ll never have to sing that chant again. Sorry but like Oldham’s song, I’ve always struggled with it. That’s the polite phrase.

Fate, as ever, has administered a further blow to the unmentionables with Brentford’s first home game seeing a visit from Manchester United. One can only expect that will now be moved from a Saturday 3pm kick off to accommodate TV coverage and the inevitable media circus. Joy.

The positivity of what Christian brought to Lionel Road will never be forgotten.  I’m just struggling to feel it this morning.

Nice try, Bjorn… Not even the Scandinavian hard sell worked

Nick Bruzon  

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