Tag Archives: MK Dons

Bees playing Buckaroo and Celta Vigo ahead of big kick off at Sheffield.

29 Jul

“Saturday afternoon. Red army. Griffin Park. I want to be there”. Not my words but those (possibly) of popular music’s One Touch Go. I may well be making that last bit up; its been a long time since I’ve heard this song and the memory plays tricks. But with Brentford visiting Sheffield United a week today, I’ve had that as my current ‘ear worm’ with this afternoon’s game against Celta Vigo giving us a last chance to get down to GP before the season kicks off in anger in 7(seven) days time. And with the Bees holding Southampton (2-2) last week then recording another win on the road (3-2 up at Franchise FC on Tuesday), could Dean Smith’s men go an entire pre-season unbeaten?

It would be fair to say that, to date, the build up to the impending Championship campaign has only been a positive one for Brentford. Five impressive names have come in (with another to follow once Emiliano Marcondes sees out his contract with Flemming Pedersen’s FC Nordsjælland) whilst nobody has left. To date.

It is true that we’ve shipped a few goals but you’d be hard pressed to deny the mental strength of this team as the Bees have come back time and again to keep up this unbeaten streak – albeit needed a late helping hand from Fraser Forster to close things out in an impressive display with Southampton last week.

Forster. More sinner than Saint.

This is Brentford. We sell. Jota is the main target and subject of paper talk, with the likes of Ryan Woods (Sunderland), Harlee Dean (Sheffield Wednesday), Rico Henry (Hull City) and Romaine Sawyers (Southend United – not even making that one up although still laughing) some of the more outlandish theories I’ve seen this week. Yet with the big kick off fast approaching, we remain intact. Indeed, the club officially announced our squad numbers yesterday and they’re all in there. From Harlee at 6 through 19 Romaine and Jota 23.

The closer we get to that Sheffield United match, the more it feels like we’re trapped inside a giant game of Buckaroo. Every passing day is the equivalent of another item being added to the overladen saddle. Surely something has to give any second? Surely? Yet, to date, that mule is yet to kick. Is it conceivable we could get to Bramall Lane with the ‘out’ door remaining locked and bolted?

Waiting for the trnasfer window to shut is very much like playing Buckaroo

Waiting for the window to shut – very much like playing Bucakroo.

Only Matthew Benham and the players know the answer to that question. One can only dare to dream at the possibilities and implications of keeping this squad together.

The flip side of all this being who Dean Smith starts with against Celta Vigo? With immensely strong competition in just about every area of the park, will he still be trying out combinations? Is it a case of giving his preferred starting XI a final chance to gel before mixing things up a bit? Or does he need a defensive rejig just to stop the goals flying in ?

For me, and on the optimistic assumption that nobody is being sold, I’d be looking at a starting XI today (albeit just reminded that Harlee has that one game ban looming) of: Bentley, Colin, Egan, Dean, Henry, Mokotjo, Woods, Watkins, Jota, Canós, Vibe.

Yes, we’ve had newcomers but I’d also want those who ended last season so well to see if they can pick up where we left off. Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. Dean Smith is the man in charge and I can’t wait to see who he starts with. Who gets a last look in. What the likes of Neal Maupay and Henrik Dalsgaard can offer as the season progresses.

This afternoon will give us more of an idea. The game is pay on the day still and at the time of writing, 7am, there are clear blue skies and bright sunshine over TW8. So why not get down to Griffin Park?

Then again, I said the same thing last weekend before the Southampton game and things turned somewhat. Still, what’s a bit of climatic negativity for the chance to see our boys in action ?

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

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Derby not the only Casualty as Wigan lose out on ‘chant of the year’

18 May

As with yesterday, Brentford know another Championship opponent for next season after the play-offs claimed another victim (although it was a lot tighter than most neutrals imagined). Over at Old Trafford, Manchester United went to incredible lengths to distract people from talking about ‘that bomb’ whilst, apparently, Will Grigg is still on fire. Amongst other things.

Where to start though ? Why not Manchester United, given how ‘the bomb that never was’ (thankfully) has dominated the news these last few days. Well, their abandoned game with Bournemouth took place last night and, on the pitch, whilst the 19-0 ‘spoiler’ that would have kerplunked Manchester City for the final Champion’s League spot never happened, Louis van Gaal’s team got the  win that most people expected.

This, even if Chris Smalling’s last minute own goal denied his own ‘keeper, a share of the Premier League’s ‘golden glove’ for most shut outs in the season. Petr Cech beating David de Gea to the award by 16 clean sheets to 15. (Stop sniggering at the back. And the Ethiad).

But it was pre-kick off where my social media timeline awoke from it’s pre-kick off slumber. Specifically because United had decided to paint three of their child mascots blue.

Not in some sort of homage to neighbours City but, infact, to promote the forthcoming X-Men film. Ironically, a film I’d imagine most of them aren’t even old enough to watch judging by the photograph which appeared c/o Telegraph football’s Twitter feed.

Telegraph x-men mascots

This really happened….

As marketing decisions go, it’s one that seems to rank alongside our own #bignewambitions . Certainly in terms of the bizarre, if nothing else. Whilst you have to say that it did get people talking is there no length they won’t stoop to in order for a bit more commercial revenue ? Body painting children in the colours of your arch rivals to promote a movie?

As one twitter wag noted, “let’s hope they didn’t have to stay painted from Sunday”.

Still, if all of this distracted people from Bournemouth’s chant of the season in  “Shall we check the bogs for you?” then who am I to criticise?

And as a side note, congratulations to Bournemouth in defying the expectations of just about every critic and amateur pundit in securing a second series  season in the Premier League. Despite playing what would seem to be fast and loose with the FFP rules on the way to beating us to a promotion spot last season, like Leicester City they have still punched well above above their expected weight this time around. Here’s hoping we can join them again soon.

Sadly, I didn’t get to see any of this. Another Tuesday night saw another surrendering of the remote control to Mrs. Bruzon for Holby City. It’s all about the trade off and saving the zapper for ‘the big games’ . Besides, as we all knew, there was nothing interesting going to happen in the Man U game whilst Derby County had no hope in the play-offs at Hull City AFC after going down 3-0 in the first leg at home.

And yet again another example of why I’m the numpty on the terrace rather than any form of pundit, manager, informed observer or football fan with half a brain. With just over half an hour on the clock, Derby had swept into a two goal lead .

Could the impossible actually happen? No. Mrs Bruzon wouldn’t surrender the remote. And on pitch, things remained the same. Meaning Hull go though 3-2 on aggregate whilst, for Derby, it was a third successive capitulation in the most heartbreaking of knock out tournaments.

As with Brighton in yesterday’s column, it is a pain us Brentford fans can well relate to. On the plus side, for us, another good away trip to add to the calendar next season as at least one lengthy journey will now be crossed off the fixture list.

And talking of Brentford – finally – you may not be aware but apparently Northern Ireland International Will Grigg, now plying his trade at Wigan Athletic, is on fire. More to the point, if you believe the (apparently) popular terrace chant, “Your defence is terrified”.

I’m genuinely pleased for Will. We all know that things didn’t quite work out for him at Brentford with his cause not being helped by injury. He arrived with a huge reputation and a lot of anticipation yet ended up leaving with a goal scoring record that was, I’m sure as much for the player as the supporters, somewhat below expectation.

4 goals in 34 league games (including a brace and missed penalty on his home debut v Sheffield United) are, if we’re being honest, not the sort of figures to strike this supposed terror into the heart of any defence.

Grigg Pen

Will Grigg missed out on a home debut hat trick.

Yet, you can’t knock his subsequent League 1 record with MK Dons or Wigan Athletic. It’s going to be very interesting indeed to see how he steps up a division to the Championship. Have Brentford made the biggest mistake of all time in letting him go after his loan spell at Stadium MK or will this be proven to have been a good decision? Only time will tell.

The main reason for finally jumping on the “Grigg/fire’ bandwagon is the news that Wigan chairman David Sharpe has now rewarded the supporter purported to have created the chants with a free season ticket. Fair dues and well played.

But by that logic, if Ciff Crown is reading (you never know) how about making a similar gesture at Brentford? Whilst not ‘chants’ per se, I can lay claim to:  “And this is Saunders territory” for the awarding of any set-piece within a 25 yard radius of the goal line . This, regardless of whether the perma-tanned wing wizard and dead ball demi-god is even on the pitch. It is a lucky mantra that has worked on numerous occasions.

Likewise, I’ve got half-shares in, “Don’t take it short; it never works”  (along with a more colourful variant) whenever we are about to take a short corner. So far, this tactical advice about the most maligned of set-pieces has proven correct.

How about it Cliff? If it’s good enough for Wigan….?

Wigan chairman re Grigg

Bournemouth fans may disagree with this sharp observation

The other piece of Brentford news to catch my eye was something shared by Brentford video whizz kid (and Alex Pritchard lookalike ) Sean Ridley .

The Football League have released the new ‘official font’ and numbering to be used on next season’s kits.And, it’s fair to say, that reactions have been mixed.

I like the font, I’m not convinced by the look of the numbering but I’m very disconcerted by the apparent lack of brackets for supporters looking to get a replica shirt printed up. Looks like another season for yours truly without a: Saunders 7 (seven).

One year, club shop. One year……

new font

coming soon to a back near you

And finally, as ever at this time of the year, my own moment of self-promotion and (more importantly) thanks to all those who have so far downloaded either The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again or the three year anthology : The Bees are going up. I remain shocked but hugely respectful of the fact that anybody would take the time to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same.  Until then, the last three season reviews and overall anthology are available here.

Nick Bruzon

MK Down and the true price of FA Cup defeat

24 Apr

Bye Bye MK Dons. Brentford racked up yet another win and another hatful of goals on Saturday afternoon to confirm that Karl Robinson and his team will be making an immediate return to League One. There was also that Doctor Who moment during the Manchester United – Everton FA Cup semi which we’d worried about yesterday whilst Kitman Bob is at it again. Yet again.

MK Dons BBC

Not my words but those ..etc

First up though, Stadium MK. As is the norm the BBC, Beesotted, official site  or other less salubrious pages are the place for proper match reports. Instead, the headline news to trumpet about has to be about a 4-1 win for the Bees.

It was a game that, not for the first time this season, featured brilliant goals from first Sergi Canos and later Ryan Woods (do check these beauties out on the Bees Player highlights package). These sandwiched Lasse Vibe’s 13th of the season before Jake Bidwell rounded things off. His free kick from the touchline, just like the game at Preston, drifting past everybody and into the back of the net.

Mark Burridge is back for another win. What jinx?

Team wise both Sam Saunders and Scott Hogan were missing from the 18 who had beaten Cardiff on Tuesday night. The latter used Twitter to allay the fears of worried fans, saying, “I‘m not injured it’s been planned being managed carefully, don’t forget I’ve been out a while , next season most important thing!

Maxime Colin reclaimed his right back position although Josh Clarke, who had impressed midweek, did get the final half hour. John Swift, gash healed, was an unused substitute.

Only just over a month ago many of, us including our own head coach, had noted that the Bees were in a relegation scrap.Now its been 16 points out of 18 over April. It is a month that has seen 16 goals and five wins out of those 6 games.

As it stands we’ve hit Dean Smith’s tenth spot target and could even end as high as eighth should the winning run continue. Victory in ‘our game in hand’ at Hull City AFC on Tuesday night will see the Bees just one point behind Ipswich Town in 8th and make the ‘manager of the month’ vote a very interesting one indeed.

I’d still say that one is a straight shoot out between Chris Hughton or Aitor Karanka. Their teams have won as many as the Bees this month whilst keeping up the pace at the top of a table that sees the top three all on 87 points with just two games to go. Now that’s pressure !

As a side note, am I alone in having a ‘spellcheck’ that defaults the Middlesbrough manager’s name to Aitor Karaoke ? Now there’s some wonderful imagery. Here’s hoping for a Phil Brown style pitch side singalong as Boro’ go up and fairly leave us in peace after 6 wins out of 6 over the last two seasons.

brentford-rugby-tops

Could Chris lift something more valuable?

The other Championship news of excitement saw QPR held by Reading. It means the Bees are two points clear of the Loftus Road mob in the battle to see who will end the season as not just West but all London’s top league club. That Hull game has even more riding on it than our opponents might realise.

Back to the FA Cup. We talked yesterday about the forthcoming Doctor Who ‘reveal’ that the BBC had intended to make during half time of the semi final and, sure enough, it happened. Whilst I’ll leave Bees supporter @Lokster71 to comment on the choice of ‘assistant’  via his excellent ‘Patient Centurion’ blog, I have to say that Gary Lineker handled the obvious disruption well.

Indeed, the BBC anchor giving a quite marvellous post-reveal segue pitch side as he dead panned, “The doctor’s not the only one with a new companion, Dan Walker talks to Lee Martin…”.

The only sour notes to the afternoon were  Manchester United securing a winner at the death. To be fair, I’d have been just as unhappy had Everton done this.

It meant that with the spectre of an additional thirty minutes ‘extra time’ now removed, along with it went the chance of Mrs Browns Boys (presumably the safety net should such a situation have arisen) being pulled from the evening’s schedule. Worse, it meant we got Michael McIntyre sooner.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 06.29.45

Mrs Brown – thanks Manchester United. And Everton

Whilst Lineker scored bonus points for the Dan Walker gag, I did also think his closing “Young Prince / party like its 1999” outro felt a little bit forced and, dare I say it, cashing in on the week’s sad news.

And finally, it seems like every week we’re saying this but Kitman Bob is back on the BBgiveaway. Whilst ‘that’ shirt has rolled over to the Fulham game on Saturday, he announced last night : Buzzing about @BrentfordFC support today. I’m throwing in a  BONUS BBGIVEAWAY Tuesday.  Boots to be given away. Keep looking . Tuesday lunch time

As ever, the place to look is on Bob’s twitter account.

Here’s hoping Sam Saunders is back in the team or my bet is spannered .

Roll on Tuesday.

Bob crystal ball

Kitman Bob – man of mystery and king of competitions

Nick Bruzon

Who, cares? BBC ‘go again’ but will unbeaten April continue?

23 Apr

Today should be a day of excitement. Brentford have the chance to go above the Loftus Road mob in the table once more (only goal difference separates us now) whilst simultaneously relegating MK Dons. This is immediately followed by the FA Cup semi final between Everton and Manchester United. Yet, yet, yet – the words ‘shoddy BBC Doctor Who crossover’ are lurking to spoil things. Again.

First up Brentford’s trip to Milton Keynes. This is going to be a very interesting test of Dean Smith’s managerial process. One can only assume that, injuries aside, he’ll stick with the majority of the team that continued April’s unbeaten run, making it 13 points from 15 against Cardiff City in midweek.

image

The Bees recorded a fine win on Tuesday night

Josh Clarke gave a very assured performance in the position that Maxime Colin has filled with aplomb this season. Yet, with Dean confirming that the Frenchman is “available but we have to just manage him” he has a tricky decision to make. Personally, I’d keep Josh in the side. He absolutely deserves it for his showing on Tuesday whilst, if nothing else, it gives Maxime a bit more recovery time ahead of Hull City and Fulham. Assuming he is even required.

Then there’s John Swift. In his absence, Brentford’s record reads: WWWDW . That’s some difference from the LLLL that preceded it .

The Chelsea loanee has featured heavily this season despite a mixed period of form. When he’s good he’s great; when he’s off the pace well, the less said the better. That’s the price of youthful talent. Yet Dean certainly seemed excited about his potential return when giving his updates to the press yesterday.

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 06.15.22

Will we see him back today? I doubt it and, being honest, I hope not. At least, not in the starting XI . That’s not meant as a criticism of the player but more the point that our form needs to be rewarded. Very few players could expect to walk back into a winning team after such a lengthy lay off and, with all due respect to John, he’s not one of them.

That said, I’m sure he’ll be on the bench and from there we see what happens next. Sitting next to him will also be Scott Hogan. Surely it’s too soon for our ‘man of the moment’ to start a game despite the obvious excitement about both his recovery and his form. There’s next season for that. Now, let’s just keep easing him back and setting our watches for ‘Jota time’.

The other point from Dean’s press conference was his observation that, “People talk about a massive turnaround but in my eyes we haven’t played loads better than vs Charlton Athletic or Blackburn Rovers.”

Hmm. Not sure that’s a view which will be shared by many Brentford supporters. “Frustratingly grim” was the two word summary of this one following our inability to even take a point at home to ten man Rovers. I don’t want to overly dwell on that now –  I have eyes, I was at those games, I know what I saw. Let’s just take great comfort in the fact we’ve definitely turned the corner, even if Dean believes it’s just in terms of results.

Ok. The FA Cup. Tonight’s semi-final at Wembley (count the things already wrong in this sentence) between Everton and Manchester United should be one to get the juices flowing. Instead, the BBC have chucked a huge rock in the water. Specifically, by telling us that they’ll be using the game to announce the identity of Doctor Who’s new ‘assistant’.

Please. No. I like Doctor Who (much to Mrs Bruzon’s chagrin) and have what could politely be called more than a passing interest in the great game of football. These are big occasions in each field of interest but to jam them together just seems like some cheap-arsed attempt to boost audience figures. It is one that detracts from both events. To be honest, even making ‘an event’ out of a new cast member for the Sci-Fi classic seems like an unnecessary stunt, anyway.

The BBC have ‘form’ here. During the 2014 World Cup final, they crowbarred the trailer for the then forthcoming new series into the middle of the half-time analysis. It was a horribly awkward moment. Gary Lineker seemed genuinely lost for words as any momentum for the second half was immediately washed away. Even I switched channels to ITV, and for that to happen…

Rio panel

Not even Rio Ferdinand’s ‘Easyjet’ look could detract from the awkwardness in 2014

I love the FA Cup. Please, BBC . At a time when every season sees further elements of tradition being stripped away from this oldest of tournaments, please don’t demean it any more.

And finally, from Peter Capaldi to another doctor who (sorry) is going to be doing his bit for charity on Sunday. Brentford head of medical Neil Greig, that is.

For anybody not aware, Neil will be taking part in Sunday’s London Marathon where he’ll be running on behalf of Havens Hospices. You can read more about this great cause, and also donate, on his Just Giving page.

Good luck tomorrow, Neil.

And if Scott bangs one in against MK, we know who deserves much of that thanks.

a7b2a0ac-d31e-46ef-b299-a5b8305cc294

Neil will be doing his thing tomorrow

Nick Bruzon 

Football reaches an all time low

22 Apr

Match day is almost upon us once more. Brentford visit MK Dons knowing that a point will be sufficient to confirm the home side’s relegation back to League One. Over in Italy meanwhile, AC Milan used last night’s Serie A game with Capri to come out with something so cringeworthy as to make #trophyfriends and #BigNewAmbitions seem tame in comparison.

First up, MK Dons. There was genuine sadness amongst many supporters when Charlton joined Bolton in being relegated to League One. The controversy going on at the club surrounding owner Roland Duchatelet and the set up at The Valley has blighted their campaign, culminating in that bizarre ‘telling off’ administered to fans back in mid March.

For all that people have moaned this season about some aspects of life at Griffin Park, our ‘problems’ are, on the surface, just a drop in the ocean compared to those of the Addicks. It’s always been a great club to go and visit (especially pre-match) and for that reason alone I’ll be sad to see them outside of our league next year. Here’s hoping they bounce back fast.

Yet, on the flip side, I can’t imagine there’ll be any tears shed amongst supporters if MK Dons join them. This most divisive of clubs have done nothing but upset football fans up and down the country since their relocation and rebranding of Wimbledon FC 11 years ago.

Closer to home, we’ve had our own runs in with the club. Manager Karl Robinson left “shaken” (not my words but those of the Daily Mirror – I know) after claiming to have had a pint glass thrown at him by Bees fans back in 2012.

Chief Executive Mark Devlin, of course, categorically denied the claims – if for no other reason than we all know it’s physically impossible to find a pint glass within 100 square metres of Griffin Park on Match Day. All we have are those flimsy plastic things to wash down the free chili.

Whilst charges were never pressed by the police, not unsurprisingly that memory still lingers amongst Brentford supporters. Ordinarily I’d say it would be wrong to take pleasure in another club’s misfortunes and I’m sure Dean Smith will only be interested in keeping our unbeaten run going as we close in on QPR.

But for the Bees fans, I’m sure that a win or draw this Saturday will be treated far more excitedly than the point(s) would, ordinarily, warrant. Here’s to the weekend – whether you follow on BeesPlayer or live at Stadium MK, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of Bees fans with their fingers crossed for the right result come 5pm.

MK League one

Could this happen on Saturday?

ok – Italy. We all know that football is becoming much more corporate these days and the fans so, so sterile. Whilst I’m not advocating a return to the dark days of hooliganism by any stretch, the library at Arsenal or tourist trap at Stamford Bridge show how our stadia are becoming soulless arenas of polite applause. Our game is littered with fans wearing half and half scarfs whilst sporting selfie sticks and listening to ‘goal music’.

Yet AC Milan have taken this to the next level of awfulness after performing a pre-match haka on the San Siro pitch before kick off for last night’s match against Capri.

This, bad enough. The haka, from a sporting perspective, belongs exclusively to New Zealand. And they’re welcome to it. What on earth has the haka got to do with football? Or Milan?

Promoting skin-care company Nivea is the answer. One part of the Milan haka involves them rejigging the traditional dance to mimic the application of face cream.

Sometimes words just aren’t enough. The shameless appropriation of another team’s culture and history is below.

Not that such an act has anything to do with Saturday.

Nick Bruzon

Time for a few people to man up ?

9 Mar

Well that couldn’t have worked out much worse for Brentford last night had we tried. With the Bees game at Hull City P-P due to the Tigers’ FA Cup commitments, all we could do was sit back and watch as Rotherham United beat Middlesbrough, Charlton and MK Dons picked up a point in their own relegation choke off and the gap to the bottom three closed to eight points . Over in West London rivals QPR beat play off bound Derby County to make further ground over the Bees and put them in good spirit for the weekend. Hey, at least Fulham lost at home to table topping Burnley.

Ah, table topping Burnley for whom Andre Gray did it again. The division’s leading scorer grabbed the winner for the Clarets, taking his own personal total to 22 for the season and showing the Bees just what we’ve missed out on. With James Tarkowski also on the bench last night, don’t under estimate just how strong we were last season and what the consequences of our chosen transfer policy have been on the pitch.

Andre Gray for 3-0

View from the terrace – Andre used to get goals for us

We didn’t punch above our weight then but deserved what we got. On merit. The same can be said for this season where a succession of head coaches and multiple high profile departures (who have largely, on the evidence so far, been poorly replaced) has seen us sliding down the table with a series of woeful performances over 2016.

This calendar year alone has seen us lose 8 out of the 11 ‘competitive’ games we’ve featured in, although there was nothing competitive about the performances at Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton or home to Walsall and Charlton. As for the Burnley game, had it been a boxing match then the referee would have stopped it by halftime for Brentford’s own safety.

With Rotherham winning three games in a row and Charlton making it 4 points out of 6, is safety still the guaranteed position that we’ve been taking for granted as our form has continued to fall apart ? 5 defeats out of the last 6 in the league could easily become 6 out of 7, and then a potential 5 points off relegation, if we don’t pull our fingers out. And fast.

Short of Alan McCormack (just back from fitness) and Scott Hogan (surely far too soon) Dean Smith has tried just about every combination of players available to him. So what does he do and, more importantly, how does he motivate? One would presume Macca will be brought in for QPR to add some steel and experience to our midfield but, other than that, the team has no choice but to pick itself. The only question being who fills the role of ineffectual striker – Hofmann, Djuricin or Vibe. And I’m sorry but with only 12 goals in 2016 and Alan Judge miles out in front as our leading scorer, it IS a serious concern .

Look, I don’t want to be over critical. I want to enjoy the derby on Saturday and a win at Loftus Road but this is now the time for Phil, Rasmus and Dean to properly ‘man up’. They’ve selected these players and pick this team. There must be something about them that we just aren’t seeing a on a regular basis.

Is it the motivational factor behind closed doors? Is it a case of too many cooks? Is it the formation ? Is it the lack of experienced heads out there? Aside from Jake, Harlee, the Judge and David Button this is a new squad.

Or is it simply that no squad could cope with losing the likes Jota, Grigg, Gray, Odubajo, Dallas, Tarkowski. Diagouraga and even, dare I say it, Douglas?

Either way, something needs to change and fast. Otherwise, the Bees will find themselves sucked towards the relegation battle whether we think we’re too good for it or not . Personally, I think we’ll dodge it but I’d be a much happier man if we can get the win at QPR and start to put all this behind us.

Three points and Dean Smith will be the best thing since sliced bread (Warburtons?). Lose and in the eyes of many he could be toast.Longer term, of course, there are huge questions to be answered about recruitment – in and out. For now though, could we just all focus on the job at hand?

The 1-0 victory at Griffin Park was one of the highlights of the season. Oh, to be able to do it again on Saturday…

SWIFT Brentford QPR

October at Griffin Park – could we do it again ?

Nick Bruzon

Where’s the game plan? Who’s pulling the strings?

6 Mar

What’s the point? Were it not for my son asking when he could come and see the Bees again, I’d struggle to care after that turgid display. Well done Charlton on getting your three points but I hope they are the last you get all season. Quite simply, I can’t see Brentford picking up any more if we ‘play’ (and I use the word in the loosest sense) like we did yesterday. As such, we’re going to need the likes of MK Dons, Bolton, Rotherham and Charlton to make sure they go down for us.

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By the second half, supporters were struggling

Words can’t describe how bad our 2-1 defeat was yesterday. Just take a look around social media for an idea of what people’s feelings are. To go behind after just 19 seconds was inept enough but for that to then have the result that, “The gameplan is forgot about ” (the word is forgotten, Dean) is just shameless. Then again if the plan B that we saw for the remaining 89 minutes and 41 seconds of the game was anything to go by then one can only wonder how bad things would have been Brentford had been able to stick to the original one.

What was that gameplan, exactly? Give it to Judge and hope he bails us out? Again. Only the Irishman, Ryan Woods and Mceachran(in patches) came out of that with any credit.

Swift clearly isn’t. David Button was at fault for the winning goal as his hash of a cross gave Charlton’s Harriott all the time in he world to waltz around the holes in the Brentford defence and pick a spot for his second goal of the afternoon. If ever you needed another example of this team’s reliance on our goalkeeper then here it is.

Like watching a kitten on a record player” was how one terrace wag described it. I’d also have accepted “headless chickens” or “spinning around like a drunk propellor“.

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Are we making a move in the loan window?

Canos wasn’t at the races whilst the jury is very much out on Djuricin who fluffed a wonderful chance just prior to Barbet’s solitary moment of hope for the Bees. That goal, direct from a Judge corner (another assist for the one other invaluable part of our team), came at the denouement of the minute’s applause to commemorate the life of supporter Dean Langford. It was a wonderful moment and should have sparked the Bees back to life.

Instead we allowed ourselves to descend back into abject inadequacy. The irony of Dean Smith using his programme notes to say, “We will have to make sure that this afternoon we do not fall into the same trap that we did last week at Rotherham United.” That worked well, then.

Nick Pope in the Charlton goal didn’t have to make a save all game from what I recall. Forget testing the Pope’s faith, I’d just like if we could have tested his hands. Yet again, all the possession in the world counting for nothing if you can’t do anything with the ball.

Blah. What’s the point of criticising what we all saw? The recruitment model is clearly yet to pay dividends whilst the further loss of skill and experience in the January window is really showing just how frustrating a decision that was . Moreso, given it was one that with FFP compliance met with the summer sales, as confirmed by Cliff at the fans forum earlier in the season, we’d been assured that there would be no requirement to relinquish players in the period just gone.

Who’s to blame? Dean? Phil and Rasmus? The players? More to the point, where is our motivation coming from? Lee Carsley had us back to last season’s form so why did he step away so soon? Just WHO is pulling he strings?

Seeing a squad decimated and lightweight replacements, if any, brought in isn’t great for morale. Of course I’ll keep behind the Bees but it doesn’t mean I’m particularly enjoying what is happening at the moment. Is it that much to get the ball to our striker (hint: how about two ?) and asking them to have a shot.

Yesterday we talked up the possibility of being able to finish top ten. Based on that I’d be very happy for top twenty and survival.

Still, it’s only the trip to QPR on Saturday. That’s just another game. No need for anybody to give a sh*t .

I’ll be there but, frankly, given the input on display yesterday could do no worse a job in picking the team and giving their talk myself. This game matters above all others this season – our journey into the lion’s den.

If there is anything like the performance given yesterday we are going to be mauled. Badly. And that’s not something I want to see.

 

Nick Bruzon

All to play for but is an upset on the cards?

26 Feb

Brentford travel to Rotherham United on Saturday, hoping to build on the back of Tuesday night’s 3-0 stroll against Wolves. After a day in which the postponement of our trip to Hull City AFC (thanks to their FA cup replay with Arsenal) and an end to the fascination with all things FCM (thanks to Manchester United remembering how to score goals) were the main talking points for many Bees fans, it’ll be good to have a match to focus on once more.

So, Rotherham . The Championship table doesn’t lie and the Millers now find themselves in a bottom three who are already six points, and inferior goal difference, adrift of an MK Dons side occupying the final safe berth. A gap of what is effectively 7(seven) points will be hard enough to reel in at the best of times, let alone when you are on a miserable run of form and with only 13 games to go. Something will need to change pretty quickly or they’ll be digging out the maps for next season’s trip to Accrington Stanley.

Which makes me wary about Saturday. Not so much for us but more the mind state of the opposition. Dean Smith’s team reminded us against Wolves just how well they can play when allowed to run at their opposition and take the ball forwards. Sergi Canos, Ryan Woods, Alan Judge and John Swift (see, it wasn’t a typo in Wednesday’s article) were excellent and I’d love to see more of the same. Then again, we were playing a Wolves team who seemed to have replaced their entire midfield with a colander.

Surely there’s no chance we’ll get similar opposition in successive games? Instead, one can only imagine Rotherham are already approaching that last chance saloon and will want to turn around before they start drinking.

As such, expect dogged resistance from a side who last won in early January (albeit against Brighton) and haven’t scored in three games. I have no doubt Neil Warnock will be asking his team to come flying out of the traps at us although, equally, I have no doubt that if we can see out that early storm then the Bees can sweep to a fourth consecutive Championship win over a side we’ve beaten 2-0, 1-0 and 2-1 since we both got promoted from League 1.

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Are Rotherham approaching the bar? And League 1?

The home game at Griffin Park this time around was one punctuated with three stunning goals, including a brace for Alan Judge.

I’ve had to remind myself just how good the first was whilst, let’s not forget, he even popped up with one on his head for the winner. More of the same would do very nicely and, however we get there, is the score I’m calling for tomorrow. Confidence is a massive thing in football and with Dean Smith’s team surely full of it, we should be too good for a team whose next three games are against top 6 teams and that my online bookmaker (reference purposes only) shows as 1/8 on to go down.

Alan Judge – his first minute opener was THAT good !

Yesterday’s other talking point was the postponement of the Hull game, originally scheduled for March 8th, due to their ongoing FA Cup involvement with Arsenal. This was an inevitable casualty of the fixture list as soon as the original tie ended 0-0 and will be a source of frustration to many.

Good luck to them. I’d love it for us to be the ones having to cancel games and moreso after our third round capitulation to Walsall back in January.

That was a dreadful performance from the Bees and one which, if you recall, saw us suffer the further indignity of that strange half time ‘lap of honour’ from FCM following the news they’d drawn Manchester United in the Europa League.

How good if we could have made headway in that competition (FA cup, not Europa league) rather than match last season’s home defeat at the first hurdle? Maybe next year but, until then, I’ll certainly wish good luck to our Championship rivals in the replay.

Which brings me full circle back to last night. Thankfully, Brentford ‘official’ have listened and scaled back the Midtjylland tub-thumping to zero. Twitter and the official site were both silent before, during and after the game. It marks a refreshing change in the media/comms team and was probably no bad thing as the Danes saw their ‘cup final’ end in a 5-1 second leg defeat.

Cup football is a hotbed of upsets. If even Manchester United can get a win then maybe Arsenal could end up getting dumped too. It would certainly take the sting off our own postponement if that were to happen.

Although, perhaps, lay off the Griffin Park laps of honour.

Alan Judge corner Rotherham

Alan Judge – goals and set plays against Rotherham last time out

Nick Bruzon

No prizes for ‘unlucky’ but at least we won the possession

13 Jan

Well, you can talk about “unlucky” and “on another night “ all you want but the simple fact is that Middlesbrough left Griffin Park with all 3 points after beating Brentford 1-0. It may well have been against the run of play in a game where, especially in the first twenty minutes, we dominated but if ever there was a lesson to be learned about taking your chances when they arise then here it was. And with free scoring Burnley due to visit on Friday night, let’s hope it is one that we learn fast.

Brentford played very, very well for large parts of this game despite the best efforts of referee Gavin Ward. The aforementioned opening salvo saw a performance that was world’s apart from the debacle in the FA Cup. Lasse Vibe, especially, started at 100mph as first he set up Alan Judge for a shot that drifted just wide before finding himself clean through moments later. With defenders closing and Boro’ keeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos on inspired form, as ever, the chance was pushed away for one of the 11 corners we earned.

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Hands off Toumani….. Boro’ defend another corner

The returning Sam Saunders saw Dimi manage to get to a dipping first half free kick whilst Harlee Dean and Max Colin (my standout player from last night) also came close for the Bees. Yet despite these wonderful chances and a final figure of 60% possession if you don’t put the ball in the back of the net then you don’t win football matches.

Middlesbrough were solid and well organised. Perhaps you could even say they were cynical at times but they did what they needed to. On a blustery evening they soaked us up, rode their luck a bit yet, with the scores still at 0-0, when the chance presented itself on the hour they put it away. Or, rather, we did.

David Button, for so long this season the man who has kept us in games, saw an attempted punch spin off his gloves, over his head and, despite the claims of Daniel Ayala, straight through a melee of players and over the line. It was, to be polite, a frustrating moment and I’m not going to start criticising our ‘keeper – far from it. He’s been a hero this season and we play as a team.To be honest, the game should have been closed out by that point.

Instead, Middlesbrough did what they do – lock things down and win games. In tricky conditions, a long way from home, they made it 6 wins in 16 months against The Bees.

I’m not going to pander to our team and say “unlucky”. This was a wonderful chance to beat the league leaders and close in on play-off rivals. Instead, they’ve got away with the points once more and the gap to sixth is now eight points. From a table perspective, the only consolation is that at least positions 4-6 are really tightening up. But, being honest, I think we’re now in a place where unless we start winning very fast indeed, consolidation is the best this side can hope for this time around.

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The BBC table shows the current state of play

That’s still no bad thing and moreso given the start to the campaign we had. People have huge expectation levels and forget how far we’ve come over the last few seasons. Likewise, how mediocre things have been in the past. Ladies and gentlemen, before Marinus I give you Terry Butcher, Leroy Rosenior and even the sad end to the Andy Scott era – just for starters.

Yet at the same time, we were spoiled by what the squad achieved last season and just how close we came to the top flight. For a brief moment, ‘automatic’ was looking very much a possibility and, even then, we still got a second bite as we hit the play-offs on that stunning final day of the season.

Seeing Andre Gray scoring goals for fun this season up at Burnley (and, indeed, the brace he managed for us under Marinus) does show just what this team have been missing in recent weeks. You can’t knock Lasse Vibe’s effort, or goals, but target man isn’t his natural position. The return to fitness of Marco Djuricin can only be a good thing for a team whose record is now just two wins in eight games.

Only Derby, Burnley, Sheffield Wednesday and, erm, Fulham have scored more goals than us all season and so I’m sure you’ll hear the statisticians and coaches saying we’re looking quite healthy in that position. Well, the last five games have only seen us trouble the scorers three times – and two of those were the wonder goals from Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos at Reading. Incredible strikes, for sure, but not the sort of thing you can rely on week in, week out.

Were we unlucky last night? Yes. We played very well with Sam Saunders providing a welcome burst of fresh air and enthusiasm whilst Max Colin really impressed.

Should we have won? Probably. Judge and Vibe had the best of some good chances for Brentford.

Did Middlesbrough deserve it? It’s irrelevant. When the chance arose, we were pressured into conceding and they didn’t let us back in despite the Bees having seen the majority of the ball  by full time.

Goals win football matches, people. Regardless of who you are playing or how it gets into the back of the net.

Roll on Friday, when Burnley await. They warmed up with a 5-0 humping of MK Dons last night. Then again, if Brentford start like we did on Tuesday evening it could be an interesting one…

Nick Bruzon

The Judge is very much our ‘man of the moment’ as Terriers await

19 Dec

Brentford take on Huddersfield Town today for Head Coach Dean Smith’s second home game at Griffin Park. He’s picked up 4 points from his opening 9 and, being honest, can count himself unlucky not to have 7(seven). The linesman’s flag incorrectly denied Jota a winner at Fulham whilst Cardiff City did to us what we’ve done to so many – grab a 90th minute goal as they ran out 3-2 winners at their unimaginatively named Cardiff City Stadium.

Jota onside v Fulham

Jota WAS onside at Fulham (thanks, Channel 5)

It has been a period that has coincided with the return of Jota aswell as our first look at the impressive Josh McEachran. These, both luxuries not available to either Marinus Dijkhuizen or Lee Carsley but which , I am sure, Dean will be relying on more and more. That said, the BBC reports amongst other things that neither are in a position to last a full 90 minutes as yet so expect them on the bench.

Indeed, that BBC match preview contains a number of interesting facts and, specifically, one about Alan Judge. I can’t take the credit for this (and, you can find their full article here) but it was fascinating to read that no player in the top four divisions has provided more assists since the start of last season. He has set up 20 goals – a figure also matched, but not surpassed – by Matt Ritchie and Cesc Fabregas.

This is an incredible figure. Not least because I didn’t think hapless Chelsea had managed to score 20 goals as a team. Although in all seriousness, we all know how good a player Alan is but to see him named in such company, and have his contribution laid out in such a fashion, shows just how much of a danger man he has become. Moreso, given his current total of 8 league goals also sees him as Brentford’s leading scorer this season.

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Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans after another goal…

The last time our paths crossed, in March, the Bees thumped Huddersfield 4-1 at Griffin Park. Goals from Chris Long (2), Alex Pritchard and Jon Toral saw us get back into the play off zone. This following our defeat away to the Terriers back in early December where three points would have seen us top the Championship table (although I blame the ‘Manager of the month’ awarded given to Warbs just before that one).

This time around Brentford are a little bit more off the pace as we sit in 10th place. Yet with the mid-table zone currently tighter than a hipster’s skinny jeans, victory could take us to within a point of the play-off zone as we enter the busy Christmas period.

However, with Judge on such prolific form and the team having played so well in our previous home game (the 2-0 over MK Dons) I’m going into this one full of confidence. I can’t envisage another 4-1, although that would be nice, but I’d just be happy to come out of it with a win. Moreso against a team who may be at the bottom end of the table but have picked up 6 points out of the last 9.

And I might have half an eye on the Premier League where Chelsea host Sunderland in the relegation six pointer and Bournemouth travel to West Bromwich Albion.

With the Judge, Fabregas and Ritchie all locked on 20 assists, there could be a very interesting sub plot to today’s action.

Nick Bruzon

Alan Judge corner Rotherham

View from the stand. Alan Judge – goals and assists