Tag Archives: Middlesbrough

New kit goes for a spin and implications of Frank Lampard news considered.

5 Jul

We’ll keep this brief today. On the Brentford front there was a debut for the new 2019/20 kit as the B team began pre-season with a 5-0 win at Bedfont Sports. Yet the big Championship story was one which unfolded when Frank Lampard left Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™ to become the new Chelsea manager. It is one which we draw particular attention to, given the weekend column where this possibility was talked up along with the question of what the Pride Park club would be known as ongoing. It is a question which, it seems, we may have been somewhat presumptive in answering. 

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Chelsea ‘official’ share the news on Twitter

We all know about the media love-in with Frank and Derby. The fact that the team seemed to undertake a universal name change where it was simply impossible to see one mentioned without the other in journalistic circles. 

This is something we’ve picked up with sledgehammer like unsubtlety on these pages. But why not? Moreso given that this ‘joke’, something about as funny as an episode of Mrs. Brown’s Boys, was thought to have come to an end following Frank’s appointment at Chelsea. 

Indeed, we had remarked perviously that, Primarily, the immediate logical step being one which will see the Pride Park outfit having to be renamed. At present, the hot favourite title in the frame is a simple ‘Derby County’ . This is a choice which will only be seen as a nice historical nod to their origins and one which may help appease fans, upset by the loss of a man who helped keep them in sixth place in the Championship after replacing Gary Rowett”.

But are we wrong? It would seem there are alternatives being put out there – both variants on a similar theme. One suggestion hints that ongoing, rather than a return to Derby County journalists are considering rebranding the club as : Frank Lampard’s former club Frank Lampard’s Derby County.

However, another source close to the club tells me that is is thought to be somewhat of a laboured mouthful. Instead  they are close to settling on one of either : Frank Lampard’s former club Derby County or… New Chelsea manager Frank Lampard’s former club Derby County.

All bets will be off if Frank Lampard Senior takes over but whichever way this one turns out , don’t expect this nonsense to end anytime soon. If for no other reason a similar fate is already playing out in the Championship.  We’ve seen it starting to occur at The Riverside where Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough are looking forward to life with their new manager. 

 As for Brentford, what can you say about last night’s 5-0 win for the B-team? Well, not much from here as yours truly was more focussed with keeping tabs on Flying Ant Day (which was formally declared at 7.33pm following multiple reports flooding in from West London and beyond).

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Yet social media was awash with pictures of the lads in action with as much focus turning to the new home kit and a reveal of our more traditional goalkeeper’s shirt. An all green number rather than the electric blue/orange combo that had been revealed earlier in the month (which you can see in the full fat match report on ‘official’, here) . 

I’ve made no secret about being a fan of this season’s shirt – one of, if not the, best in years. Perhaps the white socks are a look we’re going to have to get a little more used to, although I’m sure this is something that will only be a requirement in a ‘clash’ situation.  Here’s hoping ! 

And finally, as unsubtle as ever,  for things that may not be worth so much of a read (but are for a great cause).. please do download a copy of the Last Word season season review – containing the least bad of these columns from the World Cup to Aston Villa deserving to win the play offs. It also includes the World Cup aswell as all the ‘Park Life’ articles submitted for the matchday programme and so not previously available on these pages.  

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

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

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Nick Bruzon

 

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Deploy the fishing rod emoji and brace for impact after points deduction

22 Mar

Poor old Birmingham City (yeah, yeah, yawn – I’’m “obsessed”). With Brentford having caught right up with our Championship rivals, to the extent of being a single point behind them with a game in hand as we head into international break, that gap has suddenly leapt to a whopping 8 in our favour. This after Sky and BBC WM (amongst others) today reported the point deduction awarded to the St. Andrews outfit for breaching profitability and sustainability regulations. It is a sanction meted out as a result of the club losing  £37.5m in the 12 months up until June 2018 after Harry Redknapp had gone shopping the previous summer. That, of course, a spending spree which saw Jota, Maxime Colin and Harlee Dean added to a wage bill that may have been ten times better for the players but has proven anything but for the club. With any punishment for the fan led assault on Jack Grealish in the Aston Villa game still lurking in the wings, who knows if there could be more to follow?

Yeah, yeah. I’m obsessed. Apparently. I love it though and don’t deny focussing on Blues. A lot. If for no other reason than they are a great yardstick as to our own progress. Can a team who plays fair and invests wisely, yet frugally, out play a free spending outfit with Premier League experience and a big stadium? A team who once had their moment in the sun but are now very much in the top flight shadows. See also: Leeds united, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough.  

Having finished above Birmingham for the previous four seasons in the Championship we’re now in serious danger of making that five out of five since promotion from League One. And it is magnificent.

Of course there’s the arrogance of so many fans on social media. Of course there are the cracks about being ‘tinpot’. About ‘little’ ‘teams like Brentford. But they are an irrelevance to me and to most Bees. Bring it on. All day long. We eat that crap for breakfast. It keeps us going. Inspires us. See also: Leeds United, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough. Size counts for nothing. Quite frankly,  the bigger you think you are the harder you fall. As is now being proven. The Twitter tears today are a quite magnificent thing to behold.

Of course there was big mouth Harlee Dean and his infamous ‘ten times better’ quote. As diplomacy goes, it was up there with Martin Rowlands and Russell Slade in the cult hero stupidity stakes (typo). Henry Kissinger, he ain’t. But we more than made our point about that in the two games which followed as Brentford scored 7(seven) without reply to secure another win double for the season. The post match lap of honour and singalong, as Big Bee Radio went rogue, the stuff of legend.

Yet for me the fascination – and it is one – with Birmingham City goes back to the late 80s / early 90s. I’ve written about this before and so apologies in advance but some things bear repeating. Those of us a bit longer in the tooth will be well aware how our paths crossed over and over back in the day.

1990-91 saw us go head-to-head in an epic Leyland DAF Southern zone semi with the Blues. Having already disposed of them in the FA Cup second round, Brentford could have fancied themselves as knock out football favourites. But with Wembley beckoning ,  there are no prizes for working out who eventually won both legs to record a  3-1 aggregate win.

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The 91-92 Third Division title race famously saw things go our way in the final game of the season as Huddersfield Town and Gary Blissett ‘did the needful’ at Peterborough. A moment made all the sweeter by Saint & Greavsie having already used their Saturday morning show to congratulate Birmingham on being champions.

Things weren’t so sweet the following season as  Birmingham edged past us in the battle to be named the least bad of our respective sides. Both teams fought a desperate, and in our case doomed, battle against relegation from Division One (now the Championship) with that final game humbling at Bristol City being enough to sink the Bees and save the Blues.

However, the coup de grâce was delivered in 1994-95 where, thanks to the joys of Premiership restructuring, there was only one automatic promotion place to the Championship available. With both teams neck and neck at the top, one game stood out like a sore thumb on the fixture list. For months in advance the trip to St. Andrews, only three games before the denouement of the campaign, was the one we all thought would be the crunch match.

Sure enough, it was. In the pressure cooker atmosphere of a packed stadium, where a win for Brentford would have made it all but mathematically impossible for even us to stuff things up, it was Blues who came out on top with a 2-0 win. To this day, I’ve been unable to watch half-time guest of honour Jasper Carrott. I’d love to blame psychological scarring from that result but, in fact, it’s more just his material. Ahhh, insurance claims.(kids, ask your dads).

Oh well, despite defeat at least we were still in the play-offs…..

And now, bringing things bang up to date, the nine point deduction sees us overtake Birmingham City once more. It is as familiar a tale as Brentford cocking up a play-off campaign. I’m not going to deny a smile upon hearing the news yet equally, I’m now desperate to make sure we finish the campaign ten times better off then them. Points wise. Let’s make sure that we’d have made it five successive finishes above Birmingham on playing ability alone, regardless of any punishment. 

So, yes. I DO focus on Birmingham City. A lot. But it is as much about the history. About showing how far we have evolved. Rising up out of the primordial swamp and leaving the dinosaurs behind us – in more than one case . Shrewd ownership has proven that you don’t need to spend big to spend clever. The current rumours about Saïd Benrahma are proof alone of that.

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Just how much is he worth now?

Ultimately, a nine point deduction will make no immediate difference. City won’t go down whilst they were never in any real danger of assaulting the play-offs. Current form alone (LLLL) was conspiring against them. Yet this does, at least, look to mitigate against those trying to buy their way to success without having the resource to do it. Trying to consistently spend beyond their means, whatever the consequence . However fairly the others are doing it. Aka – cheating.

Big spenders, beware. And also owners looking to hire Harry.

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Not my words but those of the BBC

Nick Bruzon

Bees hoping for more, more, more as West Brom visit this afternoon

16 Mar

What a run it has been for Brentford. 7(seven) wins in succession at Griffin Park. The crowd behind the team. The team playing for fun. Those full time celebrations and walks around the paddock now becoming a very welcome, and regular, feature. Most of all, it’s fun. The smiles are broad and the goals are flying in. I love it and can’t wait for the next game to come around. However, promotion chasing West Bromwich Albion are in town today and will be the latest team looking to put a spoke in the wheel of Thomas Frank’s runaway home form. Everybody needs to be on red alert for this one. Despite relieving manager Darren Moore of his duties last week, they got back to winning ways on Wednesday night against Swansea City. It was a game which featured what must surely be a contender for worst. penalty. ever as the Swans missed out on the opportunity to equalise in quite spectacular style. When you have that level of fortune smiling on you, it’ll be no surprise if The Baggies come in to this one with their tails up. Yet with the table still tight and The Bees 7(seven) points off 6th with a game in hand, despite our own midweek slip up at Sheffield United, there’ll be no excuses for not going at this one full tilt.

And full tilt is what Thomas Frank specialises in. Our home record speaks for itself whilst last month saw Brentford hit five goals at Griffin Park on two separate occassions. Hull City and Blackburn Rovers being the teams to take that pummelling at the back. QPR were put to the sword with what looked like consummate ease last time we were all here. Then, of course, there was the win on the road at Middlesbrough. Finally, it happened. What a reward for all the hard work, effort and self-belief.

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Thomas celebrates at home. Again

Even our substitutions are positive. There’s no looking to run down the clock or grind it out in the last few minutes with additional defenders or holding midfielders. Instead, Thomas is swapping one attacking player for another. It worked a treat in that QPR game whilst was a tactic deployed very early up at Sheffield United. It was a tactic that almost paid off against a side whose own defence is tighter than a pair of 80’s football shorts.   

As for the team, Saïd Benrahma has been on fire and this week captured the Championship goal of the month award for February aswell as also being earlier nominated in the ‘player’ category. Neal Maupay is becoming a cult hero to rival the best of those we’ve seen over the years as he mixes fighting spirit with goals. His 20 in the league, to date, is a figure beaten only by a small clutch of players and the crowd love him. Sergi is once more playing like the Sergi of old. Romaine is the absolute unsung hero of the side. The choice of wing backs and three centre backs is giving both added protection in along with another option of being able to turn defence into attack. 

The squad is about as full strength as one could hope for at this point in the season. Rico Henry remains absent whilst, of course, Daniel Bentley is a casualty of that game at Middlesbrough. Luke Daniels came in for the Sheffield United game and Thomas has already confirmed he’ll be starting again today. We’ve all see what Luke can do over the last couple of seasons and he can, perhaps, count himself unlucky not to have been given a chance earlier on this tie around. The life of a goalkeeper must be a frustrating one at times.

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Saïd, Neal and the team are providing goals and smiles

So it all sounds very promising for The Bees but let’s not forget the small matter of our visitors. West Brom almost pulled off an 11th hour stay of execution from Premier League relegation last time out and they’ve picked up where they left off. At least, in terms of position. The play off zone has been an almost constant feature this time out, something that their illustrious neighbours (please note, your definition of illustrious may vary) have really struggled with in recent seasons following their own demotions from the top flight. Aston Villa and Birmingham City, I’m looking at you. 

Dwight Gayle is still banging them in, sitting just behind Neal in the Championship goal scorers table. He has managed 3 from his last 2 games against The Bees and will no doubt be looking to improve on that today. The run of results that saw Darren Moore pushed out was immediately reversed with that 3-0 defeat of Swansea City. If nothing else, could the change of manager (given what many fans were describing as confusing tactics) and the huge slice of luck in ‘that penalty’ prove pivotal in lifting them back to a position of being promotion favourites ?

All is forgiven, Marcello…

My heart says ‘home win’ today. Brentford have been on fire, especially at Griffin Park, whilst West Bromwich Albion are still dusting themselves down after the upheaval and wayward performances of the last few weeks. Yet with the visitors looking to lock down their play-off position and the Bees still with hopes of ghosting up the table to sixth, could pressure and expectation be the biggest factors here? Will the winning team be the one the handles this the best? Or will Thomas Frank have more of those wonderful motivational cards up his sleeve to inspire the team and the fans to another home win?

I’m just the numpty on the terrace and have no means of being able to answer that with any form of accuracy. But I tell you what, I can’t wait for kick off to find out how this one is going to go. It promises to be as exciting a game as any we’ve had to date.

Roll on 3pm. See you there.

Nick Bruzon 

Sterile Boro’ beaten by Frank’s Jaffas. Matthew beats all comers on Twitter.

10 Mar

One down, two to go. Brentford kicked off a potential season defining fortnight of games against promotion chasing sides with an emphatic 2-1 win over Middlesbrough. An own goal from Ryan Shotton (cheers) and a quite wonderful effort from man-of-the-moment Saïd Benrahma secured the points after Sergi Canos had also hit the crossbar aswell as having one chalked off by the officials. See also: Neal Maupay. All of a sudden the gap to ‘that’ zone in the table has closed to six points with an additional game on our rivals. Whilst points in the bag are better than games in hand, with the trip to Sheffield United and then the visit from now managerless West Bromwich Albion next up, destiny is very much in our control as the season builds to an intriguing denouement. 

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Sky cameras capture the winning moment

Where to even start with this one, though? It seems to be the perennial question as Thomas Frank and Brentford continue to astound the critics. And the fans. Honestly, who amongst us thought a win was on the cards yesterday? As much given the miserly defence of our hosts, the previous record against Middlesbrough or simply the fact that we were turning out in our beloved brown /orange away kit?

For the record – and I am going milk this one given the general amount of p*ss poor punditry on these pages – yours truly did note prior to kick off that: “Firstly, past form counts for nothing. Brentford may not have beaten Boro’ since our paths have crossed in this division but that was then and this is now. Players change and the squad we have now is not the one it was then. Results from seasons gone by count for nothing more than statistical niceties / horror shows (delete as applicable). Believing they are anything more is akin to suggesting that the colour of our away kit dictates performance. Jinx shirts? Never heard such nonsense.”

Those fortunate enough to be present were witness to a game where, for once, the results were born out in the stats that showed the Bees ending this one with 63% possession.

It’s not a figure I generally hold any credence with. If for no other reason one then get’s drawn into the Dean Smith ’deserved to win’ mentality when results don’t go the way you think. Balls in the back of the net are what count but at the same time, it’s always great to see domination rewarded. Moreso with Julian Jeanvier having to be replaced during the warm up ( I think that’s the third time we’ve suffered a player being subbed pre kick-off  in 2018/19  – hmm…) and then having gone a goal down within minutes of kick off. That, after Ashley Fletcher had capitalised on a defensive faux-pas to make it seem as though normal service would be resuming.

But there was to be no laying down by the Riverside. Quite the opposite. That confidence at home became more and more evident on the road as Brentford attacked with flare and continued the neat pass and move game that has become synonymous with Thomas Frank’s team. Eventually, the pressure told.

First up, the World Cup’s Henrik Dalsgaard ™ of Brentford caught George Saville with his pants down and fired in a shot that the aforementioned Shotton could only steer home. It’s always nice to get one over the ex and with Saville caught short, it was 1-1 with 70 on the clock.

Yet things got better. That man Benrahma continued his current hot streak with a contender for the March goal of the month competition. He started the move that saw Romaine Sawyers play a  sublime ball through the hapless Saville and football Friend. The World Cup’s Henrik etc etc etc squaring it back from the touchline to find the onrushing Benrahma as the Algerian raced onto the ball to guide it home. What a strike! What a move. He’s already in the running for February’s award (and there is still time to vote) but could already have a contender for March. As my good friends at Beesotted put it so wonderfully…. 

This is Brentford though. We don’t do easy. And sure enough, the substitution of goalkeeper Daniel Bentley (shoulder) with just under a quarter hour to go saw Icelandic youth international Patrik Gunnarsson make his first team debut. What a time and place to do it. What pressure for the 18 year old. Moreso with a buttock clenching 7(seven) minutes of storage time added at the death. 

Yet this is also Brentford, where there is nothing but confidence in what we do. Where Thomas Frank brought on Marcondes for Canos late on rather than try to close out the game. It was a move akin to the one he did against QPR and helped bring about the same outcome – three more points for the Bees. It was a level of confidence shown in our entire set up that was rewarded most wonderful. For me, Lars Friis nailed it at full time, as he tweeted:

There was as much to be read in comments after the game to show you just what a job we’d done. There was a welcome return on social media for the phrase #TeamsLikeBrentford . That most magnificent of exclamations as alleged ‘big club’ come unstuck against ‘little’ Brentford. I guess it’s been a while coming from Boro’ given our singular inability to beat them since paths have crossed but, like proverbial revenge, a dish very much best served cold. 

Middlesbrough legend Bernie Slaven was full of expectation going into this one but was brought down to earth with a bump at full time. His pre kick off tweet of: “Good Luck to Boro today against Brentford, No excuses  this lot have only had 1 away victory.” had to be considered somewhat at full time. On the plus side, he was magnanimous enough to admit “Majorly disappointing display + result from the Boro this afternoon – Brentford zipped the ball around with accuracy + intent and deserved  all 3 points.”

Unlike Tony Pulis – outplayed and somewhat out of he’s depth in the post match analysis where he moaned that, “We got off to a great start, then we should have had a penalty – one of three definite penalties…..Refs have to get those decisions right and how he’s got that wrong I don’t know. He has a clear view and that’s three definite penalties in a home game and we didn’t get any.

Awww. It’s Leeds United all over again. Still, That’s Pulis’s issue to get over. Brentford showed the never say die style that has epitomised performances since Christmas. That freedom to play football without fear of defeat or making mistakes (albeit, we’ll pretend Sheffield Wednesday never happened). Of having a head coach who enthuses confidence, to the point of making attacking substitutions in the final few minutes rather than attempt to hang on to slender leads. Contrast that to Pulis who pulled off Assombalonga at 1-0 up, removed their threat and ended up paying the ultimate price.

Next up is Sheffield United away. John Egan, Jack O’Connell and Scott Hogan all started The Blades 2-0 defeat of Rotherham United yesterday. Simon Moore was on the bench. Better the devil you know or a game that will be as tough as they come? Who cares. After the Boro’ performance, I’d fancy us to beat anyone. Jaffa cake kit or otherwise.

The spirit in our camp is stunning. We’ve seen the smiles on the players faces after home games. Thomas embracing the crowd at full time. Now that has been translated to about as big an away performance as they come. The highlights are up on Sky and deserve to be enjoyed. Even Matthew Benham is in fine form, deploying the 🎣 emoji in fine style as the subject of seat colours joking with supporters about, amongst other things, the seat colours at Lionel Road….

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I can’t top that. Roll on Tuesday…

Nick Bruzon

 

Last Tango In Brentford ? Or dancing in the streets of Algiers?

8 Mar

Bring on Middlesbrough. Brentford are back in action on Saturday after what has felt a somewhat disjointed week in terms of footballing action. For the interested observers / half & half scarf wearers amongst us, there was the excitement of Manchester United doing their thing in the Champions League as Real Madrid failed to do theirs. Yet for us Bees last weekend’s thumping of QPR now seems as far off as the chances of Fulham staying in the Premier league. Keep up the good work, Scott. That victory over the Loftus Road mob was another emphatic notch in Thomas Frank’s metaphorical bedpost as he made it 7(seven) wins in a row at Griffin Park. Yet the big questions as we head up to the Riverside were whether that form could be replicated on the road this season, would Saïd Benrahma scoop the Championship’s player of the month award for February and is it going to be a case of ‘Au revoir, Yoann Barbet’ ? 

First up, Middlesbrough. If ever there was to be a test of our credentials then here it is. If ever there was to be a question as to whether the play-offs are a genuine aspiration then here it is. The game marks a run of three in two weeks against sides going for promotion. Boro’ are currently in the zone, as are Tuesday night hosts Sheffield United and then next Saturday’s visitors in West Bromwich Albion. It is about as tough a run as we could have served up yet the price for success needs no spelling out with the gap to the top six currently reeled in to eight points.

We all know our Championship record against Middlesbrough doesn’t make great reading. We all know that Brentford playing away from home this season doesn’t take a genius to predict how we’ll perform – regardless of the kit colour we turn out in. Had we been able to translate home form to away then the top flight would be beckoning. So this one will be about as tough as it comes. Moreso given the home sides’s miserly defence. Thomas Frank used his press conference to note that “I can only praise Tony Pulis (for Boro’s defensive record) because it’s fantastic.

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Thomas celebrates at home. Away would be wonderful !!

Indeed it is. Sadly. Only 24 goals have been conceded in 34 league games. Yet there are positives to be taken, too. Firstly, past form counts for nothing. Brentford may not have beaten Boro’ since our paths have crossed in this division but that was then and this is now. Players change and the squad we have now is not the one it was then. Results from seasons gone by count for nothing more than statistical niceties / horror shows (delete as applicable). Believing they are anything more is akin to suggesting that the colour of our away kit dictates performance. Jinx shirts? Never heard such nonsense. Move along now. Nothing to see here. 

The other topic of conversation that came up in Thomas’s ’ press conference was that of Yoann Barbet. His contract is up at the end of the season and the word on the terrace is that he won’t be staying. Which would be tragic given his relative longevity at Griffin Park, his popularity, his versatility and the role in our new look defence that he has made his own. If ever there was a player who embodied that cliche about cutting them open to discover that they bleed red & white / brown & orange it is Yoann.

So when pushed on the point yesterday the answer was one which suggested the clock is ticking and farewell collections are going around the changing room. Thomas has been quoted as saying :”We know that Yoann is very popular among the fans. He is very popular among the staff too. He has done very well in the back three. He is a player that we would like to keep at the club but there needs to be two to tango”.

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View from the Braemar – Yoann sums up the spirit in the Bees camp

We all know the club model. That players come and go – especially if valuations are met. New talent emerges to replace that which has departed. Contracts may not necessarily be offered or, certainly, at the level asked for. Nobody knows for sure what is happening here but the words from the club suggest the ball is in the player’s court. Whether it is one he wants to pick up remains another thing.

Personally, I’ve heard a lot of terrace talk (conjecture rather than the much lamented matchday video feature) and of course, have no idea what is true. So it doesn’t get published. Do we take the club’s words at face value? Would Yoann want to stay? How hard do we fight? Or is this simply part of the ongoing cycle of players coming in, impressing and eventually moving on. Whatever happens, you can absolutely bet he’ll be giving his all until the end of the season. And hopefully beyond.

The final news heading in to the Boro’ game was that of the monthly EFL awards. There was genuine surprise when Saïd Benrahma wasn’t even nominated for January’s player of the month prize following a quite magnificent start to 2019.

As such, there were belated plaudits when he was named on the shortlist for February’s award earlier this week. Surely this time the honours would be Saïd’s?

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View from the Braemar – Saïd is as popular with the fans as Yoann

Sadly not, as it transpired this morning. The club breaking the news on twitter (below) although there’s still a chance to sweep our man to some deserved glory. The chance to vote for him to scoop ‘goal of the month’ is still available, if you follow the link. Whilst he’s up against some divisional rivals with huge fan bases, as Ajax proved at Real Madrid this week it isn’t always the biggest club that wins. Whatever they may expect. So go on – get voting.

Then onwards and upwards to Middlesbrough.

Nick Bruzon 

Bees put a quarter pound of rubbish back in the bin as Thomas makes it 4 and 7(seven) in a row.

3 Mar

This is getting embarrassing now. Another home game, another win for Brentford. That’s 7(seven) on the bounce. Another visit from QPR, another win for Brentford. That’s four on the bounce. The latest, Saturday’s 3-0, was about as one-sided as they get. But for a somewhat moribund first half performance from both sides, with neither willing to concede first blood in the penultimate 237 derby to take place at Griffin Park, it could likely have been another 5 goal finish for the Bees. In the end we had to settle for goals from Sergi, Saïd and Neal’s 20th of the season – from the spot – to keep the points safe and see Queens Park Rangers fans streaming out early as though the proverbial fire-drill was taking place. Elsewhere, the excitement continued North of the Border where Partick Thistle and their ebullient mascot Kingsley even got in on the act.

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Thomas celebrates at full time

But we can only start at Griffin Park. It was magnificent. Again. That’s starting to become a regular phrase on these pages but when you see Brentford scoring goals for fun then it’s no surprise. The approach play has the crowd on the edge of their seats ; the inevitable finishes have them leaping high into the air. The excitement palpable. The celebrations euphoric.

Once more it was Neal Maupay who lead the charge. The first came from the penalty spot after Keith Stroud decreed that Ollie Watkins had, indeed, been thrown to the ground. The finish was as calm and comfortable as they have been all season from the spot. If ever there was a moment when the occasion might get the better of him then here it was. Instead, the net rippled and the crowd exploded.

The poacher turned provider for our second, breaking down the right and riding a challenge from goalkeeper Lumley outside the box that would have had Keith reaching for his red had the Frenchman tumbled. But no, with the scent of goal in his nostrils Maupay evaded the lunge and squared the ball for that man Benrahma to fire home. 2-0 and game over.

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Yesssss!!! HB celebrates at 2-0

It could have been more even prior. Dalsgaard producing a stunning save from Lumley with a point blank header whilst Kamo, amongst others, came close after the Bees had opened up our opponents as easily as somebody deploying an umbrella when the heavens open. 

QPR had no response. If they had looked out of it after the penalty, they were dead and buried now. All they could produce was gallows humour from the away end as they started singing about having had one shot. That, from Jake Bidwell, causing more danger to his own fans sitting in the upper tier than Daniel Bentley and his rock solid defence.

Yet rather than attempt to lock it down, Thomas Frank kept going. With just shy of ten minutes to go, the stage was surely set for Josh McEachran. But no. Instead we were treated to more pace as Emiliano Marcondes and Sergi Canos were introduced to the field of play. The crowd celebrated (and consulted the big book of Brentford tactics).

It proved to be inspirational stuff as the fresh legs mad further inroads into the already porous blue and white ‘defence’. More importantly, keeping the ball down the correct end until Sergi wrapped things up with another word class run and finish deep into injury time. 3-0. Dead and buried. Game over. 

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Sergi (and team) celebrate the third

The goals are up on the Sky Sports website. Enjoy them again. Please. With them comes a win that sees Brentford up one place in the table to sit four points off tenth and eight off the play-off zone with twelve to play. Is that possible? 

Well, if home form could translate to away then who dares to dream. Next up is a trip to Middlesbrough. If there is to be any aspiration of reeling in our rivals and making an incredible leap towards the top flight then now is the time to find our feet on the road. Moreso given that the game immediately after is a midweek trip to Sheffield United. By the time we all come together at Griffin Park once more, Thomas Frank could be planing for next campaign in the Championship or masterminding a blitzkrieg assault on the upper echelons of the table with only one target in sight. Sixth place.

That’s to come, of course. For now I’m still buzzing about another stunning performance from Brentford. Griffin Park is certainly the place for goals, points and excitement. Off the pitch as well as on it where man-with-the-mic Peter Gilham, for whom the attempted takeover of ’67 is still fresh in the mind, was steadfast in his refusal to acknowledge QPR. At various points in the afternoon he described them as the visitors, the opposition and just about anything else he could find from a well thumbed thesaurus. Kudos to the legend that is PG for sticking to his principals so strongly.

We all know what this one means to him. Even the players. Saïd celebrated his goal by running the entire length of the Braemar Road touchline. Whilst we weren’t sure what that particular celebration was about at the time, Thomas Frank would later reveal that the player had gone in search of Peter. To give him a hug and celebrate together. What a club !! 

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Saïd celebrates whilst looking for Peter

He wasn’t the only one celebrating. Hats off to football’s best mascot (that isn’t Buzzette). North of the border it would be fair to say that Partick Thistle’s Kingsley seemed pleased about his mention in the match day programme. 

If the  potential of Brentford going up a division is one to tantalise, equally exciting is the prospect of one day getting Buzzette and Kingsley together. What a photo-op. What an image.

Full time saw the players perform their now customary lap of Griffin Park at full time. The smile on Saïd’s face, in particular, almost as broad as those on the faces of the fans he stopped to talk with. Which was just about everyone along the Braemar Road paddock.

Thomas Frank was sporting an old school Bees scarf he’d, presumably, picked up from somewhere along the way before making his way to the press box for a chat with the BBC Radio London team of Billy Reeves, Sam Parkin and Phil Parry.

I can’t wait to hear that one in full. Just to see him walking around the ground and talking to fans, you can feel how much this all means to Thomas. How much he is enjoying life but, also, empathises with the supporters and the players. The aforementioned double-substitution was yet another demonstration of his ability to buck the trend and deviate from the Brentford norm.

Then again, the performances his team are puling out of the bag are evidence of that. Get things right away from Griffin Park and this could be a run-in to end them them all

As the song goes, “I did it myyyy wayyyyyy”. And yesterday, he certainly did.

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(with thanks to the brilliant BBC Billy)

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Saïd and young fans enjoy the moment at full time

Nick Bruzon

Visitors inflict more pain as the record continues.

25 Nov

Brentford 1 Middlesbrough 2. What can you say? Bogey team? Curse of the cameras? That there was never any hope against a side we’ve not beaten in the league since a 2-1 win at Griffin Park back in December 1938? Or just an awkward game where, once more, a flurry of goals conceded in a short space of time (two in five, second-half, minutes) saw the result put beyond reach and the post Dean Smith era now see us with a record of P6 L5. With play-off chasing Sheffield United to visit on Tuesday, it is a record that is only going to come under further scrutiny.

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View from the Braemar – Henrik attacks

It had all started so promisingly. Even before kick-off, five-year old Harry had put possibly the biggest football-related smile on my face that’s been there in a while when he turned to Mrs. Bruzon over lunch and said, “Mummy. The best thing you can do this afternoon is watch it on TV. Because when you come to the ground, we lost”. It was a point he reiterated outside the clubshop at 5pm – both times, totally unprompted. He’s brave, I’ll give him that. Mrs. B (whose record isn’t, quite, that bad) duly stayed away. Sadly, it made no difference.

The first half was as cagey as a caged tiger watching the collected works of Nicolas Cage on video. Frankly, something that would have been infinitely more entertaining than a frustrating opening period where Moses Odubajo running for an impromptu toilet break was the highlight for many. Certainly, the subsequent song that broke out from the Ealing Road. He whatswhere he wants?  Yet aside from the relieved number 2 taking aim from distance with an effort that Middlesbrough goalkeeper Darren Randolph had to push over, I don’t recall much else from the first half. It was just that low key an opening period with the visitors coming close-ish a couple of times but never, truly, leaving us with fear of the net bulging.

Instead, with the referee offering little protection, it was a case of trying to out-play the wall of muscle in front of us. With the stats all heavily weighted in our favour, it was an attempt that would prove futile in the one that truly counts – goals scored – as the teams went in for their half tea and a wee with the game goalless.

And then it began. 55 minutes gone, 0-0. 61 minutes gone, 0-2. The first goal given away down the left where despite questions about offside being asked, the Bees were sliced open with a combination of passes that allowed Jordan Hugill a tap in that even Ian Moose might have finished off. Scored rather than eaten, for the record. Five minutes later the lead was doubled when the Brentford defence allowed Marcus Tavernier all the time and space needed to direct his downward header past a diving Daniel Bentley. Game over, man. Game over.

To be fair, it was the kick up the backside we needed. The Bees pushed and pressed. Thomas Frank changed his team around. The momentum built. This was more like it. This was the Brentford we know and love. Alan Judge, who had a great game, pulled one back with a quarter of an hour remaining.  His goal a beauty as he drilled a low diagonal shot through a crowd and past goalkeeper Randolph. From a short corner. A short. Corner. This is not a drill. This is not a typo.

The words “Don’t take it short, it never blinkin’ works” hadn’t even emerged fully formed from my mouth before the usual exhortation was changed quite miraculously into a lungbusting scream of GOOOOAAALLLLL!!

Oh. My. Word. We’d seen one. It actually happened. This most maligned of set-pieces had actually worked. Moreso, the first goal Tony Pulis’s team have let in from a corner this season by all accounts.  Could it be? Was this THE sign that the Middlesbrough hoodoo was about to be lifted?

With the reinvigorated Bees chasing a point, former player George Saville put in an appearance for Middlesbrough. His presence was barely felt. Frankly, he could have dropped his trousers and he’d have made more of an impression. Instead, Brentford continued. Sergi Canos came close. Breaking through a crowded defence he perhaps snatched at it before the referee could blow his whistle. But Mr. Brooks wasn’t giving anything, to either team and perhaps, with the obvious benefit of hindsight, there was an extra touch available to be taken.  

Likewise Josh Da Silva came close. His own shot from distance forcing Randolph into a full length save. It was a moment that had the crowd gasping but was about as close as we would get. Instead, Middlesbrough had the wherewithal to close this one out and secure all three points. Points that, on the evidence of what played out, only the most churlish could have denied them. And it hurts to say it but their finishing when presented the space in that five-minute period was, ultimately, what decided the game. From that moment on Brentford were playing catch up and it was a race too far.

No sour grapes from yours truly. No whinging. We’re off the boil at present, that’s for sure, although I’m not sure I can put my finger on just why.  I have no doubt it WILL come good again whilst I’d also point to the performance of Alan Judge alongside josh and Emilian Marcondes from the bench as highlights. Chris Mepham had a bizarre rush of blood to the head just towards the end which earned him a yellow and, with a more Stroud-esque referee, could have been worse.

Sheffield United are next up. It’ll be interesting to see it Thomas restores captain Romaine Sawyers. Whether Josh Da Silva has done enough to earn himself a first start. How he toughens up the defence. Just how we fair against a side containing a pair of centre-backs and a reserve goalkeeper we know very well indeed.

No doubt Jack O’Connell, John Egan and Simon Moore will have a point to prove. Then again, I’ve no doubt Thomas Frank will aswell.

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Our visitors made themselves comfortable both before kick-off and early into the second half

Nick Bruzon

If there’s one thing you do today…

24 Nov

Brentford entertain Middlesbrough this evening after the long lay-off for International break. It is a game that will be played in the huge shadow that was the loss of our technical director Robert Rowan early last week.

I’ve not picked up a keyboard in the last two weeks. There really hasn’t been the appetite. Being honest, I’ve not even known where to try and start. There are no words to truly try and empathise or contextualise what happened. One can’t even begin to imagine what Rob’s family have been going through. No words to truly explain the feeling after the club, the entire Brentford family, have lost such a universally loved individual at such an early age. Tragic. Awful. Horrific. Heart-breaking. Well, yes. All these. But so much and more that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the pain being felt.

We very rarely crossover between the usual hurried notes on these pages and the official output from Brentford FC themselves, save for a hyper link to a match report or copy/pasted YouTube clip. Yet today is different. It’s all about the matchday programme. About Rob. About what Sam Marshall and his team have put together in honour of this much loved man. From the cover art itself, through articles with those that knew him aswell as a few from Rob himself. Like the game and the atmosphere at Griffin Park today, I get the feeling this is going to be an emotional but also uplifting one as we celebrate the life of this quite unique and much missed individual.

You can read all about what’s in this special edition here. Regardless of the Middlesbrough game and how that goes, if there’s one thing you do today please pick up a copy.

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Nick Bruzon

Another defensive copy/paste but at least we’re getting good at kick-offs.

11 Nov

QPR 3. Brentford 2. What can you say? Not much. Try the BBC, Beesotted or ‘official’ for your match reports. Results saw The Bees end the day in 15th whilst our next opponents, Middlesbrough are up to second after their own win. Only Norwich City, our previous ‘away’ opposition, stand between them and the table top. Nobody said Championship life was easy, that’s for sure. But those goals against yesterday. Ewww. Not pretty. It felt like Preston all over again. If you want to see them once more then the defensive highlights are below.

Defensively challenged

It had all promised so much. The Bees back to winning ways and picking up the first points for Thomas Frank after steam-rollering Millwall last weekend. The team flying once more after being bundled (and rained) out of it at Norwich City. QPR with the somewhat dubious lure of having just seen Steve McClaren named as October’s ‘manager-of-the-month’. We all know what ‘should’ happen after that.  Everything was in place for another win. And then disaster struck as the defence went walk about for a ten-minute spell in the second half.

You were there. You don’t need me to repeat the obvious or dissect this further. It was something that Thomas had no choice but to acknowledge in his own post-match interview –  which you can see in full further below. That chat, one which looked like it was taking place in front of a room previously occupied by the Loftus Road firing squad.  

Yet more agonising was the fact that this was the second time in the last three away games that we’ve gone awol for a short period, during which time three goals have been conceded and the game effectively lost. Don’t forget there was also the trip to Preston last month where the score reached 3-0 to the home team before we’d even left the changing room.

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Thomas  updates us. (But has anyone seen Ian Holloway or Chris Ramsey, recently?)

That we almost turned that one around and gave ourselves hope yesterday when the World Cup’s Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford made it 3-2 with 82 on the clock makes it all the more frustrating. All the more confusing. Similar happened at Deepdale. We can score goals. We play beautiful attacking football at times. Our young centre backs are quite magnificent whilst it’s wonderful having Moses Odubajo back aswell. We all know how strong Daniel Bentley has been for us. Just why do we have these blips?  

Well, as Thomas noted in that video, “The most important thing for me at the moment is the desire to get better”. Likewise, his comments on the BBC after both yesterday’s game and the one at Preston have a very similar feel.

Preston: Three goals away from home should be more than enough to win three points but we need to defend better in general. In this league you need to be on it.

QPR: In the second half we had a blackout more or less for 10 minutes, where we defended way too soft for all three goals. We need to do that better in general.

Doom and gloom from me? No. Frustration and confusion. That’s for sure. As much due to the injuries. Ollie Watkins, who had a blinder after he came on against Millwall, was missing due to what Thomas described as, “A toe issue where the joint in the toe is twisted“. So nothing to do with any rumoured transfer interest, which is good….

Yet it was those injuries that occurred once the game had started that caused as much concern. With Brentford heading towards half time one up c/o Neal Maupay (now up to 12 Championship goals already) things were looking good. Then, with the tea brewing, he collapsed to the floor unchallenged and ended up being stretched off. The concern was palpable and was later confirmed as the result of a concussion.

Sadly there was worse to come with Said Benrahma taking his place on the stretcher after rolling his ankle in the build-up to Henrik’s goal. Thomas would later confirm that the Algerian had rolled his ankle although, as yet, there’s no prognosis as to severity or recovery time. Here’s hoping it’s not as severe as first thought. The only saving grace here being that we’ve two weeks off thanks to International break for that recuperation process to begin in earnest. And to practice defending…..

From 1-0 up on fifty minutes, Brentford were then given three further attempts to perfect our kick off routine as the clock reached the hour mark. Whilst we’d lost Neal Maupay, that shouldn’t stop goals going in. Should it?  

Well, with no viable alternative then taking the option to push Sergi (or anyone) up top would only ever have an impact on the shape. But who else was there to fill that void? With absolute respect to Alan Judge, we’ve tried him there at Loftus Road and things didn’t exactly work out well for the team. The lack of alternate striking option has long been flagged on the terraces as a concern. Moreso, with Ollie also sitting this one out. In this instance, the percentages backfired.  

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Recent periods of the defence going awol have been a gift for our opponents

But I still maintain we have absolute quality in this squad. On its day, our first team is about as strong as we’ve seen. Talking to a fellow dad (and former Bee) at Harry’s football training in the morning, he was enthusing about the quality of football he’s having the pleasure of watching at present. On the way home from that, we happened to spot Neal Maupay whose enthusiastic hello to HB and chat about what was coming up that afternoon suggested everything was set for a fairytale ending.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. A frustrating finish to a day that had promised so much but, equally, one step missed in a longer journey being taken. The forthcoming Middlesbrough game is about as tough as they come. Moreso, given our own recent form against them. It would be great if for that one the defensive blips could be cured on the pitch rather than afterwards in the post-match analysis.

We’ve two weeks to really figure them out and get our players fit again. There’s been a hell of a lot of football played in the space of a few weeks. Perhaps all of us recharging would be for the best.

In the meantime, here’s that interview with Thomas…

Thomas talks

Nick Bruzon

Following a day of massive news, a ‘special guest’ reflects on the most important story of all.

11 Oct

You couldn’t make it up. The tumbleweed of International break had been in full effect and then suddenly Griffin Park exploded into life like a Leeds United fan taking to social media. There was Brentford news everywhere. The night was, of course, dominated by the story of Dean Smith taking over at Aston Villa (LW thoughts on that one are here) whilst our home game with Middlesbrough on 24 November has been moved to a 5.30pm kick off for the benefit of Sky TV. The club celebrated our 129th birthday whilst also released the teaser video for the first team photo (good luck unwinding that one…..).

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Ctrl-C ; Ctrl-V…..? Time to get updating

Yet perhaps the biggest off-pitch matter to happen yesterday was World Mental Health Day. Chatting to fellow Brentford fan (and long time Last Word contributor) Bernard Quackenbush yesterday evening about what was, then, the potential Aston Villa news, he suggested adding his own thoughts on the subject via the medium of a ‘guest’ column. Moreso, given his own personal story and the role played by the club in helping get through this.

I love it when BQ writes. More importantly though, a subject as important as Mental Health shouldn’t be forgotten about on the other 364 days of the year. It was truly uplifting reading much of the material at times yesterday. Likewise, a lot of it really made us think – which is how mine and Bernard’s conversation unfolded.  

But rather than ramble on, here’s the man himself…

Bernard Quackenbush writes

For those of us on Twitter it is apparent that every day is some sort of commemorative day, whether its National Chilli Sausage Day or World Wind Up A Leeds Fan Day. I’m not stranger to this as through my job I shall be promoting National Adoption Week next week. Most of the days are relatively unknown until a PR machine moves into action and there it is under ‘trends’. One such day appeared today ‘World Mental Health Day’, and our very own Brentford have been raising awareness all day today.

First was a great article featuring Jay Reza, Finance Officer for the Community Sports Trust. He talks about dealing with his depression and how Brentford supported him when his line manager noticed he wasn’t his normal self and encouraged to seek advice and help and he describes how his colleagues at Brentford CST were all very supportive.

Secondly we saw a story about Richard O’Kelly and Sergi Canos taking a training session with Hounslow Hawks and the West London Football Project which was captured by the Sky cameras.

Just two examples of how our wonderful club, despite our ambitions, still manage to connect with the local community and recognise and understand that we all have difficulties within our lives.

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I myself have had a very difficult time since I last wrote a guest blog a couple of years ago. In fact my contributions in the comments section have been much fewer and far between during that period. This is because one March morning last year my wife of 20 years unexpectedly told me she was leaving me. As you can imagine this came as the mother of all shocks and left me reeling till at least this January. My own mental health suffered greatly and I went into deep depression. I sought help and realised that I have been suffering from depression since I was a child, after having an ‘unfulfilling’ childhood. I have not recovered and still experience depression every day.

So why am I telling you all this on Nick’s cheerful and chirpy Brentford blog? It’s because I have found that one of the very few positive constants in my life has been Brentford. Whenever times have been bad in my life, Brentford has always been there for me. Whether we have been at our current lofty heights or the horror of the Terry Butcher period, there has always been something positive for me to draw from in any period following Brentford.

Case in point, was the day after my wife left and we were due to have an evening match against a struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers. I did feel for some time I was not up to going, but I though damnation to her, or words to that effect, I am going to go. So off I left Bournemouth a little earlier than normal for an evening match, plugged my iPod into the car and made my way up to GP.

As I was so early it was time for a pint in the Lord Nelson and things had already began to feel differently. Then the walk to the ground. Anyone who has ever crossed that railway bridge on a night game can never fail to be overawed by the sight of GP’s floodlights illuminating the area with Brentford Towers in the background and an A380 overhead. Its quintessentially Brentford, and a view which is truly a great wonder of this world!

I like the EUro qualifiers but want to get back to Griffin Park

The approach to GP Is an uplifting one.

Entry into the ground to the accompaniment of the dulcet tones of Peter Gilham followed by devouring a sausage in a bun, which is not a euphemism, are all part of the sights of sounds of GP on match day. Despite what happened the previous day things felt a lot better. Griffin Park is like a safe place, somewhere you can lose yourself for 2 or 3 hours. Just forget all your problems and troubles. For the record, Wolves did a number on us and scored 2 goals in the last 4 minutes to win, but that day the result was unimportant to me. What was important, was that I was able to take some time out from the devastation within my own life, and feel part of something very special. Brentford on a match day.

So when you go to the Bristol City game on 20th October have a look around you. Yes, there are TV cameras about, but look at the people. 1 in every 4 people suffer from some kind of mental health issue. Someone you will be looking at has a mental health issue, maybe you have one, but we are all there because we all love Brentford and we are all there to have some time out from our busy and often tricky lives. COYB!!

Bernard Quackenbush

P.S.. You can follow BQ on Twitter at @BernardQuack . Thoroughly recommended for Brentford fans.