Tag Archives: Mike Grella

Time to go ape once more?

30 Dec

Brentford are now fifteen games unbeaten. The 3-2 Boxing Day knockout of Cardiff City seeing us move to within touching distance of the top. Sergi’s hat-trick the stuff of dreams. Now Bournemouth await in a 5.30pm kick off this Wednesday evening. Both teams level on 38 points and knowing that victory will take them second above Swansea City, who don’t play until later tonight. Their game with Reading has an 8pm kick-off. Even a draw all see the Bees and the Cherries gain a position thanks to our superior goal difference. There’s everything to play for in the latest ‘Biggest game since…’ . A game made all the more interesting by table toppers Norwich City dropping two points at home to the Loftus Road mob on Tuesday.

Sergi got 3 out of 3 on, err, Saturday (I think)

I suppose we should be thankful there’s even a game taking place at present. With Corona virus seeing fixtures now being pulled across all divisions, Big ‘Sam’ Allardyce calling for a ‘circuit breaker’ hiatus to action and talk of tougher restrictions coming in at a national level, it may only be a matter of time before things grind to another halt. 

The plus point being it may allow everyone at our clubs to stay safe and restore some tired limbs. The down side being that Brentford are flying at present. The league and the cup have both seen us come into our own as the pressure has increased on divisional (and Premier league) rivals. The points gap being reeled in by some relentless displays and magnificent use of the squad by Thomas Frank. Those called in have more than done a job. Those who have been regular starters somehow maintaining their energy levels over a run of games that has been as exciting as it has been exhausting.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting Bournemouth to be anywhere near as strong as they have been this season. So many times we’ve seen clubs drop out of the Premier League and struggle to adjust to their new surroundings. With players being shed and talismanic manager Eddie Howe leaving in August, things looked grim. To the casual observer. Instead, they’ve carved out a run of form that has only seen them lose twice since the start of November ( Sheff Wednesday ‘away’ and a slip up at home against Preston. Hmm – I think we can all relate to that.) 

Like Brentford, they have continued to astound. To perplex. To amaze. A club no doubt as tainted with the ‘teams like’ and ‘little’ moniker as we have been in recent times. Their own top flight residence lasting for five years until the end of last campaign. We’ve all got our own thoughts on howe they got there, of course. Who could forget the team they put together when going up in 2014/15 – cripes, that must have cost them a fortune – but once there they more than held their own at football’s top table. Now, they are back amongst us in the Championship and on current form giving every indication that this will be as short a stay as possible.

Nothing would give greater satisfaction than getting the win tonight. Memories of Mike Grella flooding back once more. His name was mentioned during Mark Burridge’s commentary of the Cardiff game as Sergi looked to add a fourth goal to his, and the team’s, total. Instead he had to be content with ‘just’ the match ball and all manner of plaudits. I can’t see it being anywhere near as comfortable as that 6-0 victory back in November 2011 when the gorilla went ape, but even a turgid 1-0 will do me come full time. Chance would be a fine thing. Bournemouth aren’t going to just roll over and anybody claiming to know how this will turn out is a better observer than me. So that’s everyone , then.  

The Gorilla went ape – for one night only

If I had to call it, I’d go for Brentford by the odd goal in three. But I don’t. So I won’t. Even knowing who Thomas will start with is as much a case of car-keys in a bowl as anything else these days. Josh Dasilva and Tarique Fosu were both amongst those to miss out in the starting XI against Cardiff. Sergi is on fire but must be knackered. See also Ivan Toney and Rico Henry. Surely Thomas will go for what he’d see as his strongest option on current form tonight? For me, that read him opting for : Raya, Henry, Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Janelt, Dasilva, Jensen, Canos, Mbeumo, Toney. 

That’s my own hypothesis and the obvious one based on what we’ve seen to date. Who knows what Thomas’ longer term plan and tactics are?  Christian Norgaard doesn’t seem to be quite match fit after that prolonged injury but perhaps Tuesday and Spurs will do for him. Assuming the game even goes ahead. Equally though, one thing we can predict is that Thomas has cards up his sleeve and will be just as likely to mix things up. To try and catch everyone, including Bournemouth, cold. Cripes, who’d be a pundit or anybody trig to write something accurate. Roll on 4.31pm when the team is announced.

I have to be honest, I’m quite liking this 5.30pom kick off time. It’s totally untraditional but at a time when as many of us are able find themselves ‘working from home’ is a cracking way to move direct from the company laptop when the whistle blows directly to the sofa and TV. To start the night early and sill have time to put the kids to bed at full time. Plus it means we’ve less time to wait until the big match kicks off. Which given the way Corona Virus cases are spreading, can only be a good thing. Let’s enjoy this one before it is taken out of our hands.    

It’s a real six pointer. More than that, given the bigger picture impact. Twelve pointer? Double six pointer? Norwich City and Swansea, both in that immediate touching distance, no doubt hoping both teams can lose. Of course that’s not how football works and something will have to give at the business end of the table by full time. It’s live on Sky and i-player so, all being well, everyone has a chance to follow this one if you like pictures with your words.

Bring it on. See you there (in spirit). ENJOY !!!

Something has to give this evening, whatever the result

Nick Bruzon 

Some humble pie for our Christmas puddings. What a way to show them three fingers.

27 Dec

It’s one thing doing it in front if your fans at Brentford against Blackburn Rovers (yes, we did have supporters allowed in for that brief moment!) but can you do it in Cardiff on a wet and windy Boxing Day afternoon with no support? The answer was an emphatic YES. Not once, not twice but three times as Sergi Canos fired home a sensational second-half hat-trick to secure the points for the Bees. Each goal was class. Each goal knocking a further nail in the coffin of the social media haters who’ve spent the last few months talking sh8t about, and to, a player who had been feeling his way back from that horrific injury picked up at Forest last season. With Bournemouth next up (one of the few teams still above us) the excitement can only continue.

Sticking three fingers up to the critics? Official shared this one at full-time

Brentford are now 15 unbeaten in all competitions. One point off second placed Swansea City. A squad carefully negotiating their way through December’s fixture pile up that has also seen us reach the semi-finals of the league cup. We’re five points better off than this time last season (a game also marked by a defeat of Cardiff City) and have the Championship’s leading goal scorer. It all makes somewhat of a mockery of the Frank Out nonsense  – something which, like the Sergi bile – had been emanating from the same sources and had gone equally quiet yesterday. Even if the picking of Marcondes and non-selection of Tarique Fosu and Josh Dasilva caused certain supporters’ little brains to fuse. My word, its almost as if having to play two games a week for 7 (seven) weeks might cause individuals to need a rest.

It could have been different, of course. A first half which was as brutal as the weather ended in a storm of angst. With no shots having been recorded on target, Will Vaulks changed that from inside his own half. A hoof up pitch – caught perfectly, to be fair – turned from speculation to part Nayim, part Paul Evans with a dash of David Beckham thrown in for good measure. David Raya could only back pedal but, alas, not furiously enough (is there any other way to back pedal?)  as the ball sailed over his head and into the back of the net. Urghhh. Groan. Your exclamation of despair may vary.

He caught it well

As the players trooped off and supporters hit the fridge for refreshment, the feeling of a dire second-half to come was overwhelming. We’re talking about a Neil Harris team. A side sure to set out their stall and carry on grinding it out as they had in the first. What we got , instead, was the Canos show.

His first came just minutes in and was about as incredible as they come. If Vaulks was all about the length, Sergi’s proved that technique and placement is just as important when summoning up the spectacular. With his initial shot bouncing back into play he caught it once more as the ball fell out of the sky , almost on top of him. Yet, somehow, the Spaniard was able to angle his body to catch it first time and return straight back from where it came with interest. A rising, then dipping volley that cleared the defence and the goalkeeper to level the scores. This sweetest of strikes, from outside the box, with a trajectory to send Vaulk’s earlier effort into the back of next week.

eye on the ball.. eye on the ball.. eye on the b… BOOM

It got better, though. Little over an hour gone and we were ahead. The Spaniard picking up the ball ion the left and waltzing through the Cardiff backline. Beating defenders with abandon and waiting to pick his moment before firing low into the bottom corner. 2-1 Brentford. Different technique, same class. Something Thomas Frank would describe at full time as, “Another wonder goal, while the third one was maybe a cross but don’t tell anyone”.

Yes, the third. Well it looked pretty good to me. If that was meant as a cross then all well and good. Perhaps. But it ended up in the back of the net and they all count. Due reward for a player who had been on fire. Not just these three but several other efforts that could easily have seen Sergi surpassing ‘that’ Mike Grella performance against BournemouthInstead, he’ll need to be content with the ‘praise’ from those who had previously been slating him. Destroying him. Abusing him. What a response to those pudding brained fools. Again!

For Canos, a half-hour hat-trick earned in the toughest of conditions. Not just the weather but the brutal approach of Cardiff who resorted to predicted type. Vitaly Janelt in particular being targeted for cynical assault. IF you can’t win fair, win foul being the mantra. Yet not even that worked, despite a late consolation goal via a wicked deflection that left things close for the final fifteen. Yet there was to be no collapse. No throwing away of points. A steely defence, bolstered by the return of Pontus Jansson, doing their thing in style to close out the game. The clock further run down with late, late substitutions . Marcus Forss and Josh stretching their legs. Both sure to be used for longer when Bournemouth visit on Wednesday.

All that’s to come. For today, Sunday morning, one can only admire the drive and determination from not just serge but the entire team. This was a hard fought win, no question.  You could see from the smiles at full time and the celebrations in the dressing room just what this one meant. My word, its almost like Thomas actually knows what he’s doing. Like having a strong squad to pick from and showing faith in his players is a sound tactic. Who’d have thought it? Thank goodness he, not social media, are the ones picking the team and the tactics. Fifteen unbeaten a spectacular run that will see one of its toughest tests on Wednesday. A real six-pointer in the ongoing pursuit of a place at the top of the table. Brentford are flying and I can’t wait for this one.

Until then, though, perhaps let’s just watch those goals once more…….

Nick Bruzon

The craziest day in football history? Bees top the lot as Clem and Bournemouth set the record straight.

19 Mar

No. It wasn’t a dream. I’m awake. Brentford really did come good in the most incredible style to turn a 3-1 HT deficit into a 5-3 win at Burton Albion. Back on 3rd May 2015, the Last Word published a column entitled: Was this the craziest day in Championship history? as the Bees secured a play-off semi-final with Middlesbrough and Bournemouth pipped Watford to the league title in the most dramatic of denouements. But yesterday saw all that come crashing back to the forefront of the memory for many reasons. Nonemoreso than the return of Middlesbrough fan and Last Word cult hero Clem. Of Clemwatch fame.

But we can only start up where we left off last night and the result from Burton Albion. If not as significant as that afternoon back in 2015 where our own defeat of Wigan, matched with just about every possible result going our way, saw the Bees reach the play offs for the Premier League, this was one that is at the very top of the list of “I was there” games, Purely in terms of what was a ridiculous afternoon it was from a Brentford perspective.

If you’ve seen yesterday’s post-match column we’ve done that one. What a quite spectacular game of football to have witnessed. Following it from home was stressful enough, I can only imagine what it was like being there. An afternoon reminiscent of celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup at Leyton Orient? Winning the fifth round of the FA Cup at Blackburn in 1989? That game against Wigan in 2015?

Only those in Burton will truly know how good this one felt but if social media is anything to go by then it can only have been up there with the best of the best.  There’s been plenty for those missed who out on this one to look at via the world of Twitter and other sources although, perhaps, in retrospect it was always going to be a special afternoon when Burton gifted Brentford an omen such as this.

Are Beesotted setting up in Burton?

Billy (Grant) of Beesotted fame wasn’t just spotted on the side of a building. He was one of many loving the moment Sergi Canos popped up at the railway station on the way home. As you do.

Billy and Sergi. The afternoon's excitement continues

Billy and Sergi. The afternoon’s excitement showed no sign of stopping.

Billy wasn’t alone. Just when you thought Sergi couldn’t be any more excited to be back at Brentford, his impromptu photocall proved us all wrong on that front. How Norwich City must be kicking themselves at acquiring, then falling too use, such incredible talent and incredible enthusiasm. Presumably the Spaniard has now got home or is he still obliging the supporters with more photos?

Sergio does it again. And again. What a man.

Bees photographer Mark Fuller caught the moment below as sweetly as one could hope. The next best thing to actually being behind the goal.

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Whilst his partner in media crime (not literally) Sean Ridley proved that sometimes, three words are all you need.

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But perhaps it was the EFL themselves who hit the nail on the head in regards to yesterday’s events.

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 06.18.08

Yet to truly call yesterday incredible we also need to look at Bournemouth. Specifically because  Eddie Howe’s team beat Swansea City 2-0 at Dean Court/The Vitality Stadium.

On paper, no great surprise given The Swans precarious position but dig a bit deeper and it might not have been such a ‘gimme’ as first imagined.

Back in that 2014/15 season, aswell as charting Brentford’s first Championship campaign the Last Word ran a side feature called Clemwatch. It was a feature borne out of the sudden realisation made, as most are, in The Griffin.

Namely, that whichever team ever popular BBC roving reporter Clem (Mark Clemmit)  featured on The Football League Show would subsequently fail to win that afternoon’s game.

Clem Wycombe toilets

Clem – never shy to mix it up in terms of reporting locations for The Football League Show

Was there any truth to this? Being the jinx conscious football fan (magic pants, lucky shirts, not shaving over a winning run are all par for the course) this needed study. And so over the course of that season Clem’s form was observed from the first week. Surely it wouldn’t be true. But it was.

Aside from some genuinely entertaining features, Clem finished up with a record of 7(seven) wins from 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford.

Clem was at Vicarage Road to see if the Hornets, entertaining Sheffield Wednesday, could match Bournemouth’s result to be crowned champions. Both teams were winning with the BBC clock showing 90 minutes. Then, it happened.

Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished at 1-1.

Whilst I’m sure that Watford fans will be more than pleased just to have gone up, I do hope Eddie Howe sent a big thank you to Clem. The effervescent reporter may have doomed Watford although, and it has to be said, he brought a lot of joy to viewers along the way.

Clem Clemawatch 30

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

And that was it. With The Football League show disappearing from our screens the following season to be replaced by Football League Tonight (please, please, please never forget what was served up as replacement to Manish and Clem on that first episode) his work in that particular field was done. TV rights meant the BBC would focus on the Premier League and with Brentford failing to beat Middlesbrough in that play off semi final (or any game. Ever. It seems) we went our separate ways. Until yesterday.

With Clem finally on Twitter (@MarkClemmit) he’s been a recent ‘follow’ and, mid-morning, popped up with the announcement that Eddie Howe would be his interview subject on that morning’s Football Focus.

Cue good natured banter to a TW8 based Bournemouth supporter and Mike Grella fan about her team’s upcoming fate. The jinx would surely strike again? Yet the response was a surprising one. Not from Carey but from the man himself, defending his own recent record with the tongue in cheek note that times are changing.

That's me told, then. Clem is back. And better than ever.

That’s me told, then. Clem is on better form than ever .

And sure enough, they are. Bournemouth’s win sees Eddie Howe now joining the ranks of Sam Allardyce and Paul Lambert in being blessed by Clem. The jinx has reversed.

What can you say, but:

i) Sorry, Clem.

ii) Congratulations Clem.

iii) Thanks for being a great sport, and

iv) Should the worst happen to Middlesbrough then we can’t wait to see you at Griffin Park next season. Just make sure that if you have a mic with you, it’s pointing at Dean Smith.

And, of course, if you’d like to read more about our past three campaigns and the full Clemwatch story, then you can do so here.

Talking of Dean (puts crowbar back in pocket) we couldn’t finish without going all Ian Moose. Except without the pre-match catering obsession. It simply remains to say Happy Birthday to Dean Smith. Have a great day, my friend.

IMG_5768

Happy Birthday Dean Smith. Have a great day my friend.

Nick Bruzon

As the EURO winners show, what would be our Phoenix From The Flames ?

18 Jun

With EURO2016 now fully underway, Friday’s games saw Spain crank things up a notch and Croatia lose it – on and off the pitch. With much of what involves the England fans dividing opinion and generating some very contrasting views from those ‘on the ground’, there was no doubting what we saw on our TV screens yesterday. Plus, in an effort to blow away the current glut of Griffin Park tumbleweed, we have Brentford thoughts, updates and pictures.

First up, Croatia. 2-0 up and cruising against the Czech Republic, not only did they throw it away to be held 2-2 but their ‘fans’ have, surely, lined them up as the next nation to be given a suspended disqualification alongside Russia. This, after a shower of flares and firecrackers descended onto the pitch from the Croatian end as the game reached it’s denouement.

Combined with fighting amongst their own fans, they were ugly scenes that also saw one steward lucky to escape injury as a device went off in his face. Slaven Bilic, talking as part of the ITV panel for the Spain game, attempted to quantify it with the observation that “There are many fans who are against the FA”. That these are protests against a perceived Zagreb bias in Croatian football.

I can’t comment either way on that. My knowledge of the wider problems in European football extends about as far as when Gibraltar’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Belgium is going to take place. But what I can say is that, like the flare launched at England fans during the Russia game, one can only wonder again how security – with France on its highest state of alert – is working? Moreso, just what can UEFA do, if anything, to stop what should have been a wonderful tournament (and still can be) turning into one which will as much be remembered for all the wrong reasons?

As for Spain, a second clean sheet and three goals against Turkey saw them step up an ominous gear. Wth many people’s favourites France leaving it late to record their second victory, the Spaniards by contrast made their six points look simple. After 61% possession, 707 passes and 18 shots (although with goals to match those stats)  they’re already in to 10/3. Forget patriotism – grab that price whilst you can.

Just one other observation on the Spain game, which comes courtesy of Jamie Lovell (@jtlovell1979 ) on Twitter. I can’t take the credit for this but he put into words, wonderfully, the exasperation many of us were suffering from at the hands (or voice) of co-commentator Tony Pulis.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 08.17.49

For me, Clive

Look positive Jamie, at least it wasn’t Glenn Hoddle

Ok, back home and Brentford. I took a stroll past Griffin Park yesterday and couldn’t resist the chance to stick my head over the wall. I have to say the pitch is looking wonderful already.

Granted, the club took the steps to dig it up as soon as we’d played our last ‘home’ game ( if I recall, some sort of thrashing administered to Fulham, wasn’t it?). That, following the pitch-gate shocker at the start of the season.

But, you have to say, credit for what seems to be a job well done already. Here’s to seeing how the Bees perform on it when Championship action recommences in August.

Griffin PArk June 2016

The pitch is looking luxuriant

And when it does, Brentford will find themselves joint 7th (seventh) favourites for the title. Checking my online bookmaker for research purposes this morning, this odds are now up and we’re priced 20/1.

Somewhat stingy for a team who, by our own head coach’s admission, were in a relegation scrap as recently as March? Or easy money for a team who have rediscovered the way to goal via Scott Hogan and those signings who have now ‘bedded in’ to the side? Either way, this is how the bookies see the Championship at present.

And finally, Euro ’96. Kind of. With the football in everybody’s faces at the moment, even the radio is getting in on the act. You can’t move on Absolute Radio at present for World in Motion or Three Lions. Which is no bad thing.

The latter, especially, bringing back all sorts of memories. And not just about how terrifyingly bad David Baddiel was at singing. Seriously, that was the best take?

But talk on the subject amongst some of my Brentford supporting friends led from there to the TV show from which it sprang, Fantasy Football League (of course, co-hosted by Frank Skinner). In particular, the ‘Phoenix From The Flames’ segment in which a famous moment from footballing days gone by would be recreated on a council pitch, featuring the original protagonists.

Specifically, conversation got onto the topic of which Brentford moment would we recreate? Perhaps with the wonderful Sean Ridley and Jo Tilley in the Baddiel and Skinner roles ?

That penalty’ is perhaps too obvious Besides, having not really been discussed in the media after the event, people might not remember. Other topics for consideration included:

Mike Grella destroying Bournemouth; Jota v Fulham; Paul Hayes and Will Grigg being less than on fire when taking home debut penalties; promotion v Preston; Gary Blissett knocking Manchester City out of the FA cup and inciting a banana wielding pitch invader; DJ Campbell giving Gary Breen nightmares.

In the end, though, we settled on cup action. Against Everton. Richard Lee’s penalty saves were the highlight for many but, equally, the pre-game footage of the respective club mascots still gets a watch every now and then.

Whilst the respective kids must be close to teenagers now, that would almost add to the recreation. That said, I’m not sure if we could afford Leighton Baines’ appearance fee.

Could this be recreated, Phoenix style?

Until then, here’s to a weekend of six games and, hopefully, some more magical moments.

Nick Bruzon

Cherries await as Cliff crowns a tough week. And some dogs

20 Feb

With Brentford fans adjusting to the news about Mark Warburton ahead of Saturday’s game against Bournemouth, the saga has been somewhat distracting for anybody interested in matters outside TW8. On the plus side, the interminable fixation with Eastenders has, largely, drifted past despite my twitter timeline being flooded with oblique reference to Ian Beale. The downside has been missing out on canine fun at Bristol Rovers, Liverpool (almost) doing a Trotta and a transfer story involving the one time scourge of Bournemouth, Mike Grella.

Rounding off the news about Warbs, on Thursday Chairman Cliff Crown spoke to the press from the Brentford Media Centre. I have to be honest, this was something I didn’t even realised existed and seemed less SSNHQ, more a desk covered in discarded telephones placed in front of an advertising backdrop.

Cliff Crown speaks from the heart of the media centre

Cliff Crown speaks from the heart of the media centre

However, the key points from Cliff’s performance were an admission that the club had spoken to Rayo Vallecano coach Paco Jemez although, “it’s been no more than a conversation about philosophies

Likewise, in regards to the news coming out in the first place, “Unfortunately someone leaked and that accelerated the whole process. It wasn’t something we were keen to do but we had little choice once it’d got out. We don’t know who it was, but whoever it was has done damage to everybody associated with the club

A frank admission from Cliff and if you want to see the whole interview, it is on the club’s YouTube channel, below.

 

Moving away from the situation surrounding the management, you might not have noticed the news coming from across the Atlantic this week. The New York Red Bulls may have lost the services of Thierry Henry but they have replaced him with former Brentford hit man, Mike Grella.

The date 8th November 2011. The place Griffin Park. Brentford lined up against Bournemouth for a JPT semi and ended up just one shy of brackets. Grella smashed four goals as the hapless Cherries were routed 6-0 and the Bees spent the final 11 minutes, including stoppages, chasing a 7th(seventh).

With many Bournemouth fans living in London, and even closer to TW8, it is a result that still gets mentioned on a regular basis. They may have spent much of this season TOTL but I’ll never forget the night that the gorilla went ape.

Put down this article and go immediately to twitter (then come back). Type in the hashtag – #dogsinbristolroversshirts. I don’t know what has sparked the craze but you get exactly what you ask for. Dogs. Wearing Bristol Rovers shirts.

Dogs. In Bristol Rovers shirts. Quite literally

Dogs. In Bristol Rovers shirts. Quite literally

I didn’t even realise that many Bristol Rovers shirts existed although this sort of dog related couture isn’t a new thing, with precedent having been set by Brentford.

Woofy McWoofington has long been known for his love of the ‘St.George’ home shirt, whilst even turned up in a Bees scarf for the Hartlepool game (the one before ‘that penalty’).

That said, whilst Woofy may have worn a shirt first, Rovers have picked up the stick and run with it. The internet is flooded with them. And a great thing it is too.

Woofy McWoofington - trendsetter

Woofy McWoofington – trendsetter

Finally, talking of ‘that penalty’ , don’t people watch sports news? Perhaps the incident against Doncaster Rovers didn’t get enough airplay (that’ll be it). However, watching the Liverpool – Besiktas game last night I couldn’t help feel a sense of déjà vu, watching Mario Balotelli and Jordan Henderson arguing in front of the home fans over who was going to take a late spot kick with the scores locked at 0-0.

The enigmatic Italian eventually got the honours, the goal and a rebuke from Steven Gerrard sitting in the ITV press box.

Good luck to them. We’ve grown from our own incident in a fashion that I could never have believed possible from the distraught feeling that afternoon. Whilst it is far too early to be talking about playing the likes of Liverpool, it is incredible to think that three more points tomorrow could take us one step closer to that craziness.

Let’s put the week behind us, get behind the manager and go for it.