Tag Archives: Neal Maupay

Did Swansea help Brentford? Who would you pick?

6 Feb

Brentford fans are waking up to a table that sees us back in third place prior to this afternoon’s game at Middlesbrough but with the door to ‘automatic’ opened that little bit wider following a 2-0  win for Swansea City over Norwich City last night. The current state of the table sees us sitting two points behind the Swans and four behind the Canaries, albeit with one and two games in hand respectively. The right results in those outstanding fixtures speak for themselves but before we get carried away and look to Wednesday’s visit to fourth placed Reading, focus has to be on the current state of play.

Cripes, last night was interesting. There was no real preference as to the result. Win, lose or draw  – any combination could have been construed to have a positive benefit for Brentford. Instead, it was simply a case of sitting back to see how Swansea would fare against another set of promotion seeking opponents. We all saw their WWE approach the other week as they salvaged a point against the Bees – last night was much more positive. Dominating possession and attempting to play football. A first goal that would have been embarrassing had it been conceded by a team of under 7(seven)s, let alone the Championship leaders. Norwich with half a dozen men between Andre Ayew and the goal line yet none able to get in the way of his effort following a butter fingers moment from Tim Krul. How nice to see Ayew doing what we all know he can rather than writhing around on the floor like a fish out of water. 

We got the ‘good’ Ayew last night

Conor Hourihane’s doubling of the lead a splendid second half effort that left Krul no chance and Norwich dead on their feet. If anybody in TW8 thinks Steve Cooper’s team are punching above their weight, or just punching, then think again. They were brutal. In the best sense. The win thoroughly deserved and one which never really felt in doubt. Certainly, to the casual onlooker.  

Whilst it is a victory that means Swansea have overtaken us, the psychological advantage of now having Norwich in genuine catching distance cannot be under estimated. Both in positives for us, should we win today (no small feat, of course) and negatives for them should we be able to heap even further pressure on a team who have looked so, so comfortable and in control of the table for so, so long this season. Just look at how, historically, Leeds United have fallen apart. Again and again. Three points for Brentford at the Riverside could be the catalyst for a similar level of stress to be applied.

Three points. It sounds so simple. In theory. This one is going to be about as tough as they come though. For Middlesbrough, their own chance to enter the play-off race is an opportunity sitting up and waiting to be taken. Bournemouth have hit the skids big time and a recent record of LLLL sees them now just two points ahead of Neil Warnock’s team. If we think we have incentive to get the win then let’s not be blind to that which is offered up to our hosts. Yet, for Brentford there is that own unbeaten run. The positivity coursing through the team immense. The bounce back against Bristol City midweek nothing short of magnificent. This, without Josh Dasilva whom one would imagine is match fit again for the afternoon game.

Tariqe Fosu was immense. Sergi Canos brilliant. Let’s not forget, either, only 13 players have scored more Championship goals this season than the Spaniard. Ivan Toney was, well, just Ivan Toney. A goal machine on legs. Finishing and confidence to match the very best we’ve ever had. A player who has not only filled the shoes of Ollie Watkins but, if anything, outgrown them already.

We’ve been blessed in recent years but you have to put this down to the directors of football and the vision of Matthew Benham. Honestly, if you could pick one out of Toney, Watkins or Maupay who would it be? There are no wrong answers here and I think we’d happily settle on any of them. Different personalities, different approaches but all able to find the back of the net with aplomb. If he carries on at this rate, Ivan has the potential to be the very best of the bunch.

Oh ambassador. With these strikers you are really spoiling us

For me, Clive, the return of Josh Dasilva will be huge. He really is one of those ‘first name on the team sheet’ type players. I still find it amazing we got him for nothing. How Arsenal must be regretting their decision to let him go as he has developed his own game and ability at a quite phenomenal pace. What price now on him? Then again you could say the same about Rico Henry. About Ethan Pinnock. About David Raya. About Vitaly Janelt who already feels like part of the furniture despite this only being his first season. No time needed to settle in – he’s hit the ground running. Henrik Dalsgaard, the World Cup’s Henrik Dalsgaard, getting on about his business. A phenomenal engine up the right and a rock solid presence at the back. Cripes, this team is ridiculously strong on their day. That’s before you even factor in the next generation coming off the bench.

I am confident. Not in expecting victory – nothing is guaranteed in this game – but in knowing just how immense this team is when everything fires. When our top, top players do their thing. A game with Middlesbrough used to be a thing for Brentford fans to fear. A guaranteed defeat as our start to Championship life saw them beat us again and again and again. Not even the threat of a draw.

Middlesbrough used to be untouchable back in the day

Yet with that monkey now well and truly despatched, we can look at this fixture as just another game. Albeit against a team with their own huge carrot being dangled. I’ve just got a feeling that Brentford, and Ivan’s, will be bigger. 

Kick off is at 3pm. Its on ifollow, as ever. See you there. In spirit if not body. The couch, and there lucky socks, await…..   

Nick Bruzon

Maupay does it again. What a way to celebrate. Again.

17 Jan

Life isn’t great at the moment. Not compared to normal. The relentless grind of Lockdown and ‘that’ virus. Games played out in empty stadia. Brentford not even able to take the field at the moment due to our own training ground being closed – albeit results have gone largely in our favour whilst we’ve been away – thanks, Luton.) Yet sitting at home yesterday afternoon there was a moment to put a smile on the face once more. Delivered in the game between Leeds United and Brighton c/o that king of shithousery, Neal Maupay. A cult hero at Griffin Park to rank alongside the best of them. 

We all loved Neal. No question. That goal and celebration at Fulham. The absolute dirt that went alongside his game. Cheeky digs. Sly tugs. A side to a Brentford player we’d not seen in a long, long time. Somebody you wouldn’t want to get close to, yet had that wonderful combination of mercurial talent combined with unpredictable volatilty. Err, what Aston Villa game? He was, rightly, lauded at Griffin Park. We’d have loved him to stay but we’ve all moved on. Our loss, Brighton’s gain. Had he stayed there’d have been no Ollie Watkins up front. Win-win.

The classic Neal image? Perhaps….

Yet, as we all know, his ultimate moment was up at Elland Road. Back in October 2018, with the scores locked at 0-0 in an early season Championship pacesetter, Ollie was brutally fouled (errr) by Leeds ‘keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Up stepped Neal to not only score from the spot but then celebrate in that quite wonderful style. Only he would have had the balls to take on the home contingent, arms aloft and fronting them out in the face of all manner of , understandable, abuse flying back. Cripes, had the boot been on the other foot we’d have been spewing. It was bad enough that the spot kick had been deemed questionable but this was then the ultimate indignity for the home support. A celebration to rank with the best of them and an iconic moment. 

It was a moment only bettered in the return fixture at Brentford when Neal scored again. Right in front of the away fans. He celebrated, again. Right in front of the away fans. Same pose, same stare, same abuse. Talk about king of wind up. The man has balls of steel. If anybody was looking to endear themselves to the home support then here it was. Griffin Park erupted. If it wasn’t possible to love him anymore, then here was the opportunity to do so. 

Then, Brighton came knocking and we went our separate ways. That’s football. Neal is still a fixture in my life – even if just through the medium of Fantasy Football. Then, yesterday, at Leeds United, it all came flooding back. He scored for Brighton. The Seagulls 1-0 up. The only thing missing being supporters to see the goal live. 

No matter. This is Maupay. This was Leeds. This is the man who lives for the moment. And sure enough, he did. He celebrated in the only way he knew how. Despite the fact there was nobody there to wind up. Oh, we all knew how much this meant. And it was brilliant. Never have I enjoyed a goal in a different division for a club I don’t even support so much. This one was all about the man, the moment and the place. What a way to liven up an otherwise desperate Saturday.

Thank you, Neal. Thank you for doing this.

Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. You just know they’ll do it.

12 Jan

And with that the FA Cup fourth round draw has been made. Not to mention the in no way convoluted selection for the fifth. With Brentford fans settling down in front of the TV to watch proceedings unfold (and Leeds United fans settling down in front of the TV to watch The One Show) the best we could hope for was a home draw. Well, we got one. A repeat of last season’s tie  with Leicester City. The winners of which will be at home again, entertaining whomever comes out on top between Brighton and Blackpool. The chance to test ourselves once more against the former Premier League Champions . A possible return for Neal Maupay should everything go to plan. The quarter-finals wide open. I’m sure all four clubs in our little group are thinking the same about that one. This could be fun. Even if the TV companies will be wetting themselves over the prospect of Manchester United – Liverpool. Yawn.

This really is as good as it could have got for the Bees. Brentford  – Leicester City is a tie with all the elements in place for a classic FA Cup match. High flying Championship side at home to the former top flight champions and a club currently in the top three. It was a close run thing last time out and I can’t wait for the chance to go one better. Or, at least, try to ! Would that we were able to attend in person but there’s frankly no way we’ll be able to get anywhere near a football stadium by the end of January. Even 9-11 February for round five is still nothing more than a flight of fancy. Sadly, it will have to be the TV for us, Brighton and Blackpool.

Its one of those where, genuinely, any of the four teams can make it through. Brighton are hardly on fire at present. Blackpool made West Brom look even shoddier than normal at the weekend. Leicester City are clearly the favourites but they won’t relish a visit to a Brentford team who made it to the League Cup semi-finals. Who are flying high in the league and have an added element of steel that was, perhaps, missing last season. Opposition generally despatched with ease but, if we’re being honest, perhaps lacking that additional nous when it counted. Look at how Leeds United held it together at the critical time. Fair play to them. When all were expecting them to fall apart (again) they stayed firm. The brilliance of Bielsa pulling them through. Hurrah for powerpoint!

There are a few obvious plum ties in the draw. Wycombe v Spurs. Cheltenham Town v Manchester City. Chorley v Wolves is, for me, the pick of the bunch. No doubt BT and the BBC will be falling over themselves for Manchester United v Liverpool. Why? Why? Why? (Delilah). A game, and teams, we’ve seen a thousand times before. An encounter with as much cup magic as an end of the pier entertainer pulling a dirty handkerchief rather than the missing card from his sleeve. Genuinely I’d give that one a swerve. Been there. Done it. No interest. The others, and the wider draw, offer up genuine intrigue. Ourselves included. Moreso once the cards fall into place for round five. 

That’s way down the track though. First things first, we’ve got Bristol City tomorrow night. Then a few more league games. Then Leicester City visit. I’m sure, likewise, Thomas will go for a similar team that beat Middlesbrough in round three. That took us most of the way in the league cup. I’m fully behind that, too. The squad is there for a reason and these boys have more than proven they can step into the first team. Even if his rotation does cause a few tears to be shed in other quarters.

I love the FA Cup. I’d love us to get as far as possible, no question. I still see the Championship as an absolute priority. Equally, though, having one foot in the quarters a few season back was quite the moment. Until Swansea City did their thing in the second half. With the paths for both mapped out in front of us, the next month or two could be even more exciting than ever. There’s not really much else to say at this point. The balls have dropped. We know what awaits.  Bring it on.

It all went South at Swansea after a cracking first half.

Nick Bruzon

The simple truth about Benrahma and Brentford.

14 Oct

West Ham / Benrahma blah blah blah. Quelle Surprise. As of Wednesday morning the Algerian master is still a Brentford player. Who’d have thought it? All the click bait in the world counts for naff all. As we said on these pages earlier in the week, he won’t be going there on the cheap. Whatever you read abut deals stalling and broken promises, the simple truth of the matter is that Said remains a Brentford player. For now. Whether anyone comes up with an actual serious bid – Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Brighton are the other names we’ve seen bandied around – remains to be seen of course. If they do, then kerr-chinggg. If not, we retain the services of the most exciting player in the Championship.

There’s still almost three days to go and that’s a long time, of course. 5pm on Friday is when all deals must be completed. With personal terms having allegedly been agreed then should West Ham actually blow the dust off the ‘tens column’ in their chequebook things could well happen. Likewise, those goals against Fulham L would only have reminded other suitors of what he can do. Crystal Palace were the other team whose name kept appearing earlier in the ‘window’ but, personally, I’ve got half an eye on Aston Villa swooping in. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the obvious reasons for that one.

Said was back to his very best against Fulham L

One thing’s for sure, with revenue streams falling rapidly as fans remain locked out, Premier League survival this season is more important than ever. European qualification equally so. We’ve already seen huge money thrown around and this will continue over both the next few days and the mid-season window. Said is the obvious crown jewel, ripe for plucking by whomever has the balls to make the right offer. 

With our own goal that of promotion to the top flight then of course it makes perfect sense to hope he stays. For what it’s worth, my own preference would be that we keep (a happy) Benrahma. Transfer money is great. It is the lifeblood that will keep us going until the time we are all allowed back in. Whenever that may be. But to make it up you need the very best options at your disposal. No matter what miracles Thomas Frank was able to conjure out of his squad last season, we all know what a huge part of that Said is.

There’s that key word though. Happy. Has Said had his head turned? Sweet nothings poured into his ear? Is his heart already set on West Ham? Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. Let’s not forget the saga of Neal Maupay who was giving everything for the Bees and his long term desire to stay – then agents and Brighton happened. Should Said stay at Lionel Road will it be a case of having to reignite the fire in somebody who would rather be elsewhere? What use is a, so called, ‘wantaway’  player who drifts out of games because he has the hump? 

We all know what a happy Said can do

None of the clickbait or conjecture will help you find any answers to that one. Either he goes or he stays. And if the later then you can bet Thomas and his team will have our man firing on all cylinders before you can say “Siracusa”. (It’s a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford lock. Apparently).  

This is where we can have no influence and no impact. None of what I, you or any of the fans want will make a difference All the stress, angst and trying to sniff out clues aren’t going to help. There are no real clues to be sniffed out. Enigmatic ‘sources’ nothing more than a lure with little or no actual substance behind them. Brentford simply don’t advertise in this fashion. Bidding clubs don’t show their hands so openly. Matthew and his directors of football play hard ball.

Who is looking at Benrahma? Who has shoddier photoshop?

All of which adds up to: he’ll go but it will be at our price. Who knows where and who knows when though? Today? Tomorrow? January? Next season? Aston Villa? Crystal Palace? West Ham even? Hey, this is football. The unexpected always happens.

Elsewhere, England play Denmark tonight. Christian Norgaard remains out of the squad with that injury picked up against Preston last Sunday. There’s been no real news on him since and one has to hope he is on the road to recovery. The visit from Coventry City is almost upon us and, like Said, he’s a key part of the squad. Mathias Jensen and Henrik Dalsgaard are still key parts of the Danish set up and it’s always interesting to see how they go against top flight opposition.

That one kicks off at 7.45pm. As with the Wales game last week, it will be played out at an empty Wembley stadium. Good news indeed for those who love a bit of atmosphere at their England games – we’ll be ‘band’ free once more. 

Whatever else is going on around us, that’s cause enough to celebrate. See you on the couch this evening.

That. Band. It always comes back to this

Nick Bruzon

What a weekend awaits. Sofa Saturday and a Super Sunday.

28 Dec

A rare Saturday without football for Brentford. Our time comes tomorrow with the trip to Millwall and the chance to see if we can build on the Boxing Day tonking of Swansea that saw the Bees end the day in third place. Instead, there’s the rare opportunity for the Premier League to take centre stage this afternoon. It is one that should be grabbed, lest we forget about the people who actually invented our beloved sport back in the early 90s. More importantly, it’s a reminder that The Last Word Fantasy Football competition is still running. Suddenly, the 3-2 kicking administer by Wolves to Manchester City last night becomes of crucial importance. There’s more than just the comedy factor of watching Manchester United hit self-destruct (again – think of them as a top flight Leeds United) in the evening game at Burnley. And who doesn’t love seeing Neal Maupay do his thing? Fingers crossed for a Brighton penalty kick today!!

Neal Maupay Leeds

Come on Neal. More of this would be lovely ( I need the points)

So what have we learned so far? Well, yours truly really is the numpty on the terrace. Ranked 52 out of 66 – and that’s by actually trying to compete. Why bother? Honestly, setting the team to random mode would have more success. I’m that tempted to go there for the second half of the season, just to try and prove a point.

On the plus side, it does mean I can’t win my own competition – as if that was ever even a possibility. For those still curious / playing, the current top ten is below. Ben Shephard is at the top (anyone? Presumably not the host of daytime TV’s  Tipping Point ?)  and then supporter Simon Burns is coming in second. This is taken post Wolves but pre Brighton, so this could all move around once the rest of the games play out.

Screenshot 2019-12-28 at 07.07.47

Current standings

In all seriousness though, the thought of a lazy day is something I’m quite looking forward to. Some calm before tomorrow’s storm. Harry’s football club is closed, for once, and Brentford go to Millwall on Sunday. Mrs Bruzon is out with her parents so there’s nothing more to do today than watch Neal banging them in for Brighton at lunch, fall asleep on the couch in front of Jeff Stelling in the afternoon and then pay a passing homage to events at Turf Moor.

Not that I’ve got anybody from either side in my Fantasy team. Not even number 26. Although given the aforementioned inability to pick winners, his absence from my line up is one that should be considered a de facto guarantee to lump it on. He’s 14/1 to score (for Burnley) at any time, although those odds don’t seem to factor in any potential family related absence so invest at your own risk.

And then it all goes again tomorrow. Brentford make the short trip across London to the Lion’s Den where the pressure on the team will be immense. From the top of the club to the very bottom we all know what is at stake. From Matthew Benham through Thomas Frank, the players and the fans. Everybody is fully aware what will be the consequences of anything not going to plan….

Concede and we’ll be subject to ‘that’ toe-curling song. If Mrs. Browns Boys teamed up with Dick Van Dyke to do goal music. Whilst wearing Ali-Baba slippers.

Millwall wide (1)

We’ve been there before…

Forget the ‘no-one likes us’ stuff. Good luck if it makes them happy. Besides, I can relate to this. In part. It’s as much a part of the Millwall legacy as our own being called a tinpot / little / pub / bus stop team Albeit, theirs is self-created (why is that now?) whilst we always look to answer our critics on the pitch.   

But that song. Urghh. Take a look at yourselves. And I apologies for mentioning it every season but it’s godawful shite. F*ck me, I’d be more embarrassed than Madonna on a staircase if that was my club. And we should know about cringe, given the awfulness of #trophyfriends. Never forget.  

Just about forgivable as ‘walk out’ fodder, it’s only a Pearly queen short of a full house in cliche bingo. But the true horror being that it then doubles up as goal music. Something we all know shouldn’t be allowed in football stadia – see also: ball boys waving giant flags, fans with drums, Mr. Portsmouth and his bell, Mexican Waves and the England supporters band. Basically, anything needed to try and generate an atmosphere.

For crying out loud, if you can’t get turned on by the ball hitting the back of the net then there’s something seriously wrong. If things are so flaccid that you need Roy Green singing about jellied eels to give you a boost of footballing viagra then perhaps it’s time to just give up and call it a day.

Portsmouth bell

The Millwall song. Currently residing alongside Mr. Portsmouth and Mexican waves.

We digress. The point being that Brentford have it all to do if we are to maintain third place and, maybe, further close the gap on Leeds United. That’s a big ask, of course. Much as they have that wonderful ability to hit self-destruct, and their current record reads DLD, not even they can cock up a trip to Birmingham City. Harlee Dean and his Blues are simply too poor at present. Whilst Boxing Day saw just about everybody at the business end of the table do us a favour, this time we’re on our own.  We have to win to progress. We have to keep a clean sheet to spare the supporters.

Frankly, I can’t wait for this one. I expect everybody around us to get maximum points on Sunday . Even Fulham, who are home to Stoke City. So the onus has to be on us to go for it. And we will. This team only knows one way to play. Attack. Score. Win.  Our goal difference speaks for itself. Our defensive solidity is renowned. Our fans loud. The atmosphere magnificent.

It won’t be easy. Bums might even squeak for a bit. But it has the potential to round off 2019 in quite wonderful style. If you are still thinking about going, then what’s to decide? Get off the couch and get going. It’s a Sofa Saturday followed by a Super Sunday.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

It would be fair to say that things are never dull.

20 Aug

Brentford travel to Elland Road on Wednesday evening for a game that is sure to be played out against a rich backdrop of recent history. Even if it is one in which the main protagonists have both since moved on. Neal Maupay has left Brentford for Brighton. Pontus Jansson has left Leeds United for the Bees. The question is now one of whether we can continue our fine record against Marcelo Bielsa and his boys. A record which saw us moments away from picking up two wins last season but, instead, having to be content with a ‘mere’ four power points following the late, late equaliser scored by Jansson back in October.

History is history, of course. Yet it does present an interesting, if brief, retrospective. We demolished Leeds at Griffin Park to railroad their rapidly diminishing promotion chances. To borrow a line from the song at the time. “Leeds. Leeds are falling apart. Again.”  We almost picked up the win on our travels, but for that 88th minute goal. There was the penalty (definite), the celebrations, both of them, from Neal Maupay. The post match reaction of Pontus himself which saw the player charged by the FA  (as were the club , home supporters throwing objects at our number 9) after accusing the referee of ‘robbery’ and saying on live TV that the result felt a bit ‘shit’.  There was even that wonderful talk of conspiracy as United’s seemingly unstoppable start to the season began to hit the buffers. Copy. Paste. Return.

Yes, it would be fair to say that things are never dull when our teams meet.

But whilst history is nice, and it is, things move on. Past form is not a guarantee of current performance. Leeds United have started like a runaway train – as they always seem to do – topping the nascent table after three games and 7(seven) points. Only Charlton can match them, even if Brentford sit just 3 points behind. There’s no way Leeds will choke it again, is there…..?

Well, looking at the immediate short term i.e this fixture, the bookies have the home side as 3/5 odds on favourites with Thomas Frank’s team out there on 4/1 to pick up the points. Whether that form and that favouritism continues throughout the campaign depends on when Leeds decide to start treading on their annual potato skin. As a general observation, August is far too early for that to happen. Especially when they are up against, and score a point for each of these you see on Wednesday: tinpot Brentford, teams like Brentford, pub side, little club…..  

I would say this does also seem the exception to the rule these days. I’d also say that when we’ve hit the early peaks this season we have looked sublime. Consistency is , of course, the key for Thomas. The first half against Birmingham and the denouement of the Hull City game were both magnificent. We perhaps rode our luck a tad up at Middlesbrough, at least in the opening period, but took a wonderful three points in the end.

Ollie and Sergi have both started at 100mph. Pontus looks imperious at the back. The midfield is developing solidity and then there’s Benrahma. The fleet footed Algerian wing-wizard is back. I can’t expect him to start on Wednesday, it’s been too long, but the brief cameo afforded to supporters at the weekend had the fans leaving Griffin Park with spirits high. More of the same would do very nicely, thank you.

Screenshot 2019-08-20 at 06.16.59

Pontus – now a Bee.

The other question, team selection aside, is just who can travel to this one? With adult tickets at £37 in advance and no trains home after full time, this promises to be a costly exercise. With Sky TV continuing their red button coverage for midweek fixtures there is an understandable alternative. Yet it is a game which promises to be a real treat for those fortunate enough to be travelling. I can’t even pretend to be amongst their ranks this time out. Sadly. Hats off to those who have found the time and the finances to make this a viable prospect. 

And those who have should read the away travel guide on ‘official’ . Whilst, normally, it isn’t one that troubles the statisticians I have had a look this morning to see if the £42 ‘pay on the day’ option is available. Not, it seems. But what I did discover was the wonderful dead pan line:  Finding Drysalters requires fans to pass the Old Peacock pub, a staunch home supporters’ pub, which is not recommended for travelling support.

Good luck with that. Good luck everyone. Especially to Thomas Frank and the team. It won’t be easy but it will be fun. And I can’t wait. Even if this time it is from the comfort of the sofa.

Nick Bruzon

Happy birthday to my good friend. He only went and did it…

15 Aug

Narcissistic? Hypocrite? ‘Edgy’ journalist with a ‘hilarious’ ‘thing’ ? Amazing and just misunderstood? Whatever your take on Ian Moose, and his perpetual wishing of ‘happy birthday to my good friend’ (accompanied by a photo of him and his, apparent, football friend), yesterday took the biscuit. Even by the barrel scraping standards usually employed by the Talk Sport broadcaster. 

We all know what Mr. Moose said about Neal Maupay at Brentford. How he subsequently tried to ingratiate himself with the club top brass to wangle a self-promotional trip to the training ground. How Neal shoved those comments back down his throat, much like a half-time pie (obsessing about those being his other ‘hilarious’ ‘thing’) by banging in goals for fun and securing a reported £20m move to Premiership Brighton. So yesterday, on the occasion of Neal’s birthday, surely he wouldn’t? Surely? He did….

6C8AEDAE-93FE-4552-A749-43C2E2835D5B47A1FDBE-D386-4D5F-95AF-9E8DC2093C1BEFBB89F4-6880-4124-BD86-0548C065FE404A184FBD-53B5-41C5-939D-ECE95C59FCC9

Suffice to say that the one photo he could rustle up of Neal hardly had the mercurial frontman looking as though he was in the company of somebody he’d consider a ‘good friend.’ The look on his face was more one of somebody who realised they’d accidentally walked into a recording of Mrs. Browns Boys and turned around to discover the studio doors had been locked.

And on that note, why are these photos never taken in the sort of environment one would associate with two good friends spending time together? A pub, restaurant, discotheque or even just watching the football? It’s slightly odd that all his friends seem to hang out in press interviews.

Look. We all know it’s his attention grabbing thing. Yes? A desperate attempt at self-promotion. Yes? And I’ve bitten at his successfully deployed fishing-rod emoji. Now Neal has swapped Brentford for Brighton and the top flight he’s an infinitely more valuable commodity. But we’ll never forget what was said before. As the comments to the birthday message (twitter link below) more than indicate. 

Well worth a look if you are bored today. And, for the record, I believe the corresponding date is 24th October for all you well wishers and good friends out there.

Nick Bruzon

Away win? What’s the fuss about? Easy!

11 Aug

That’s one jinx well and truly laid to rest. Not just last season’s awful away record but, it would be fair to say, Middlesbrough have had the psychological advantage over Brentford since our paths crossed in the Championship. Of course, The Bees ended that one in some style, and a rare three points, with a 2-1 win at the Riverside a few months back. Fast forward and we’ve done it again. Three more points on the road against our one time nemesis in what was almost a mirror of last Saturday’s visit from Birmingham City. Domination from the home team that should have seen them out of sight before being caught out and then unable to get back in to the game. This time, though, the architect of victory was the the ever enthusiastic Sergi Canos who did magnificent work down the flank to serve it up Ollie Watkins, yards out from the goal. He needed no second chance and that was it. 1-0. Game over. And elsewhere, have you got anyone from Aston Vila or Brighton in your Fantasy Football team as yet?

Screenshot 2019-08-11 at 07.10.50

Not my words etc….

Whilst we don’t do full-fat match reports on these pages anyway, I wasn’t at this one due to a prior family commitment in a gale on the South coast. However, what has become evident from the mid-match messages being received, intermittent Twitter updates when the 3G was in the right spot and a subsequent watch of the highlights is that Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough (TM) are likely to be fuming over their cornflakes this morning. Two disallowed first half (handball and offside) were marginal as David Raya was on hand, with the woodwork, to keep them out after the home team opened the game in rampant form. Sound familiar? As the shot count ranked up in their favour to our nil, it had the fetid whiff of Birmingham City all over it.

Even official would take to Twitter at half time to declare: “We’ll be happy to get into the break on level terms after a disjointed opening 45 minutes on Teeside.”  

Few could disagree but football is a game played out over 90 minutes. A game of taking the opportunities when you can. As Thomas Frank’s unchanged team started to find a way in to the game during the second half we did wonder if something might happen . And then it did…

WATKINS…. read the text message. This was either really delayed news coming through about his recent contract extension or something even better. The internet signal couldn’t be that bad? Could it?

We’d been following the game together in a cafe and when that one flashed up on the phone it was enough to make a bored 6 year old leap up from the swivel chair he’d been practicing his Blofeld ‘reveal’ in – albeit, I’d been unable to persuade him that uttering the words, “I’ve been expecting you” was a really cool thing to do – to see what the fuss was about.

Goal, was the answer. And from there followed as anxious a countdown for the final half hour, and five minutes of injury time, as has ever been squirmed through. It can be tense enough at a game but when you are out of touch with nothing but a flaky Phone reception and trusted friends to keep you abreast of proceedings, it’s tough. Yet by all accounts, like Birmingham the week before the Bees really snuffed out the hosts and made the denouement a comfortable one. Perhaps. I’ll never know but I’ll also take those three points all day long.

Ultimately, it was a conversation between Harry (6) and Mrs. Bruzon as we watched the highlights together later that evening which summed it all up:

Rachel: Blimey. It’s all Middlesbrough.

Harry: But mummy, WE got the only goal.

Captain Pontus Jansson had taken to Twitter before the game where he declared: Such an important decision. Will be really important for us the coming years! Let’s go Ollie.

Spot on, Pontus. It was a comment borne out during the game and cemented afterwards by Sergi:  Who needs a striker? Myyyyyyy guy OLLIE WATKINS!!!! “

True enough, although hats off to Brighton who of course have signed the aforementioned missing striker. Their own 3-0 win on the road at Watford was rounded off with a goal from none other than Neal Maupay. What a start to his top flight career. Now our paths have gone in separate directions but we’ll survive. I’ll take the FPL points c/o Neal and, more importantly, the Championship points c/o Brentford.

For all that yesterday made me smile a lot on the footballing front, it was one comment just prior to the Spurs – Aston Villa game that really showed why it has been such a special few days,

OH Fuffuxake! On Twitter (aka @TheChauffeur) noting : They just announced the Vila team. Benrahma must be on the bench.

Whilst Neal did the Fantasy Football business for Brighton, Dean Smith didn’t use Ezri Konsa and Jota had to wait for a hour before getting on the pitch as a 1-0 lead turned into a 3-1 defeat at the death. For me, there was as much interest in the post match interviews in this one. Would Dean trot out the standard line about his team deserving to win after going down to the Champions League finalists ? Well, “The better team won on the day….” he noted before continuing with “in the second half”.

Oh Dean. You are great. I loved his tenure at Griffin Park and, like Neal, was sad to see him go. That’s football. Players and coaches move on. It’s how you adjust to it that’s important. As we saw yesterday.  

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The view into Harry’s room this morning whilst he sleeps. That was him. Thanks Sergi & Ollie.

Nick Bruzon

Seagulls follow the trawler and end up with more than sardines. Au revoir, Neal.

5 Aug

There was an almost inevitable end to Monday with the news finally announced that Neal Maupay has left Brentford. His non-appearance over most of the summer, followed by his absence from the squad at the weekend, left the writing somewhat on the wall and now it has been confirmed. The Premier league is the destination. Brighton and Hove Albion the choice, in a deal reported as being worth £20m. At least it wasn’t Dean Smith and Aston Villa although until that window slams shut on Thursday, one can only envisage Said Benrahma continuing to be linked with a move to the Midlands. On the plus side, we have not one but two news signings. Midfielder Dru Yearwood makes the switch from Southend United whilst French youth international attacker Bryan Mbeumo joins from Espérance Sportive Troyes Aube Champagne.  Or Troyes AC, as ‘official’ helpfully confirmed they are better known.

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I feel for Dru and Bryan. Both look like more shrewd acquisitions from Matthew and the Directors of football. Southend and Troyes’ loss, very much our gain given how well our acquisitions over the last few years have turned out. Yet all anybody is talking about today is Brighton and Neal.

Oh, how we loved him. The shithousery – there’s no other word for it. The speed. The work rate. The aerial prowess from one so small. The goals. The balls. Oh my, the size of those balls. What a way to celebrate not once but twice against Leeds United. Both times, right in the faces of their rabid support. 

And that equaliser at Fulham wasn’t bad either. ‘Limbs’ as I believe the kids call it. What a moment. What a celebration. What a photo from Mark Fuller. What a way to seal your place in club legend. To ensure that whatever came next (what stamp at Aston Villa ?) could never tarnish your reputation. Would only make you even more universally loved.

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What balls

Yet it was a love that seemed to go both ways. Talk to Neal and he would only enthuse about all things Griffin Park. Promises were made at the end of last season about his return for this one. Sadly, now, things have moved on somewhat. Money talks but so do agents, it would seem.

And whilst that may be bleedin’ obvious, the Twitter thread published on Monday night by the GPG makes for very interesting reading as to how this all played out. About how things have changed as this marriage made in footballing heaven between player and club has ended in the Bees being jilted for the Seagulls.

Do read the thread. In full. It starts below and makes for a fascinating insight as to what went on with this one. There’s no animosity towards player, Brentford or Brighton – for what it’s worth. But, as has been noted part way through, “ In this day of low morals in football these days – I’m glad that we demonstrated that we are a decent club with manners. The fact that we have done right by the player demonstrates to future signings that we provide a potential route to PL, it keeps us in business of course. 

There’s not much else to say at this point. There’s a genuine feeling of good luck to Neal, from me. Of course I’m absolutely gutted to see him go. No question. I was itching to see him stay put for one more season. To guide us to the top flight. Now that responsibility rests elsewhere.

In my heart of hearts I really did think he might stay until January. Mind you, I think the same about Said and Ollie. At least the latter started on Saturday and looked formidable during that opening salvo. I’m sure Dean Smith is opening the Aston Villa cheque book we speak but I’m also, perhaps naively, thinking this really is it . 

We’ve sold Ezri. We’ve sold Romaine. Of course we’ve sold Neal. We’ve also invested very wisely with the likes of Jansson, Jensen, Pinnock and Norgaard now joined by Blackwood and Mbeumo. Keep Benrahma and Watkins amongst their ranks and we will remain more than a force to be reckoned with.

Sell either/or and, you know what, there’ll be no meltdown from me. As with Neal this evening,  I would be gutted with further departures. Yet our DOFs and Matthew Benham have shown us time and again that they are three steps ahead of everybody else when it comes to doing the business.

I really didn’t think it could get any more depressing than selling Jota and Maxime to Birmingham City (and Harlee makes three) but we survived. We got stronger despite the crushing blow of seeing our hero put out to pasture. That trust is there and I cannot wait to see how the next chapter in the Brentford story plays out.

Until then, we’ll always have Fulham.

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What a moment. Thank you, Neal

Nick Bruzon

One shot. One goal. No excuses. No sales.

4 Aug

Every good run comes to an end. Birmingham City enjoyed that rarest of experiences on Saturday afternoon, victory over Brentford, after coming away from Griffin Park with all three points for the first time since 2016. It was our first home defeat on the opening game of a season since 1992 – that, a 2-0 loss to Wolves which ushered in the start of the post Dean Holdsworth era and saw talismanic Terry Evans crocked for the vast majority of the campaign. It almost felt like that with Neal Maupay missing amid the stories linking him with Brighton, Aston Villa et al not going away. Yet there was plenty to be encouraged by  from what was, ultimately, a frustrating afternoon. One not helped by referee Gave Ward doing his very best to lose control of the game in the second half.

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Deano and Terry  – their last game together as Bees

With transfer speculation hanging heavy in the air, there was an audible gasp when the team was announced 59 minutes before kick off. Or was that just my asthma? No Neal Maupay in the 18. A bench where Josh Clarke was the most experienced of those named by Thomas Frank. Kamo and Benrahma both absent (although that had been expected, given fitness reasons as much as anything else).

Despite those missing, Ollie Watkins (whose name has been linked with Crystal Palace on the clickbait sites all week) did start and hit the ground running. As did my man of the match, Sergi Canos. With Pontus Jansson named as captain at the heart of a three man central defence the new look Brentford  team still had a solid feel to it. And it WAS new look, with only three of those who started the equivalent game last season, the 5-1 pasting of Rotherham, beginning this one. Sergi, Ollie and Henrik – for the record.  

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View from the Braemar – Captain Jansson impressed.

But with Peter Gilham getting the crowd going, his task aided by the presence of Harlee Dean (C) in the blue of Birmingham City, Thomas Frank’s boys wasted no time in pouring forward. Surely it was only a matter of time. Boom – the crossbar hit not once but twice in close succession as the goal threatend. A clutch of great saves from Lee Camp. Another onto the post. Shots fizzing just wide. A goal was coming….wasn’t it?

We’re in danger doing a Brentford here”, I quipped to one Braemar Road observer sitting alongside after the second shot onto the bar. That, from Marcondes who may be disappointed not to have found the net in retrospect.  Within 30 seconds Kristian Pedersen had headed the visitors into the lead. A quickly taken free kick where I’m not sure if Mr. Ward had even blown was met deep. Nobody picked up Pedersen’s short run and his precision header looped over and in from distance. One effort. One goal. One nil to the visitors. 

Much like Shakira’s hips, the stats don’t lie. At least, the one that says ‘goals scored’.  Despite that being they solitary time Birmingham threatened, and our own first half dominance which saw the game end on 76% possession to Brentford, the only piece of data that really counts is balls in the back of the net. And Birmingham City edged that. Somehow. Yet goals win games and, as such, one can’t try to deny them the points.

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Brentford 0 Birmingham City 1

Looking across social media and match reports, the ‘d’ word is being floated around by all manner of observers. Deserved, not Dean. Yes, we looked fantastic at times. Yes, we DID play well in the first half. Very.  But NO, we didn’t deserve to win because we couldn’t score a goal. We slowed down noticeably in the second half and looked laborious in the build up where the cut and thrust of the wide men and wing backs had diminished noticeably. No matter how leaden, physical and solid Birmingham City looked, they did manage to score and then succeeded in closing us out. On the plus side, I take heart from the clear and almost universal recognition of the way played for a significant chunk of this game.

I liked the look of Mathias Jensen in the centre of the park when he was able to push forward although Romaine and Kamo were clearly conspicuous by their absence. Josh Dasilva struggled whilst one free kick that he took from the heart of Saunders territory ended up in the heart of Tarkowski territory as it cleared the Ealing Road stand.

Romaine’s not coming back – we’ll just have to get over it – but Kamo’s presence around the ground did put a smile on the face at full time. As did a chance encounter with Sam Saunders who was as amiable as ever when discussing the game with an enthralled HB. Something all the more special given that the uttering of standard line: “And this is Saunders territory…” when the aforementioned free kick was awarded was met with the response “Daddy? What IS Saunders territory?” Where do you even start? Just not with the wife….

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Ian Moose was loitering. Amazingly, a look at his Twitter feed this morning shows there’s no criticism of Neal Maupay’s performance. Despite the player’s absence it is a mode that seems so hard-wired into the Talk Sport shock jock that I half expected to see some form of negativity towards Neal. Perhaps the pillars were in his way.

For now though, there’s nothing more to do beyond clenching the buttocks ahead of our trip to Middlesbrough on Saturday.  We’ve another painful wait until the transfer window finally slams shut at 5pm on Thursday afternoon. Will Neal still be here or might Brighton make an offer we can’t refuse? Has Said’s absence made him invisible to big spending Aston Villa? Indeed, has Dean Smith run out of money after his latest acquisitions this week in Tom Heaton and Marvelous Nakamba ? Might the Griffin Park ‘in’ door swing further ? 

All or none of the above happening wouldn’t surprise me. The one thing to expect these days is the unexpected. Let’s not forget that despite all the rumours and whispers, nothing has actually happened as it stands. None of the names in the frame have left the club. All we can do is sit tight and wait to see who Thomas has available when the team sheet is handed in at the Riverside.

Enjoy.

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The look from Thomas says it all….

Nick Bruzon