Tag Archives: Neal Maupay

Brentford dominate sticky Toffees but points are shared.

28 Aug

Well wasn’t that the afternoon of tough work for Brentford? A 1-1 draw with Everton sees another point on the board and the Bees still in the top ten. It was a hard fought contest which felt, for huge swathes, as though we’d reach full time quoting our previous head coach Dean Smith and lamenting the fact that, “We deserved to win.” That, given the amount of chances created but unable to be taken relative to our opponents. Regardless, we’ll have to up our game somewhat if there is anything to be taken from the trip to Crystal Palace on Tuesday. The annihilation of Manchester United, still writ large on the cover of the matchday programme – an edition that had 12(twelve) pages of b&w Mikkel Damsgaard photos for us all to luxuriate in – now needs to be put to bed. We caught them at the right time but, as yesterday proved, The Bees need to be cleverer when presented with opponents for whom winning a game of football comes second behind killing it. We had our chances but it was one of those where we did everything but score a hatful.

It was tight in the middle

Don’t @me Everton fans. I think we’ve generally had nothing but good words to say when our paths have crossed. Likewise, we held up our hands after Brentford were humped in the FA Cup at Goodison Park last season. What comes next is hard to write about a club and supporters I’ve only got respect for. Yet Frank Lampard could well be in deep, deep trouble. His team were terrible. The tactics worse.

Injuries have bitten, sure, but the trouble seems to lie beyond that. If Anthony Gordon heads off to Chelsea they’re in even more trouble. Neal Maupay is an absolute class act but they’ll have to get the ball to him and, on this showing, I’ve just no idea how that’s going to happen.

Maupay’s fighting spirit is much needed

Brentford should have been much smarter. Sharper. Perhaps luckier.  There were plenty of opportunities from the clear cut (Bryan and, frustratingly, Wissa when the back of the net was crying out to be hit) to the unfortunate – Jensen, Ivan and then Norgaard. The later providing the most spectacular of all when his bicycle-kick hit the post. Brentford finding more wood than Ron Jeremy performing a Bryan Mbeumo 2020/21 tribute act. Jordan Pickford also had his moments – that is, when he wasn’t channeling his inner Bryce Samba. 

When your game plan is to score on the hoooooofffff and then run down the clock with an hour of time-wasting, procrastination and more dubious injuries than the average episode of Casualty (not to mention amazing recoveries to match), things are grim. It was turgid. Ten mend behind the ball at all times and constricted into a 20 yard space. Wissa’s fire extinguished by a blue duvet. Josh Dasilva unable to work any space.  Ivan and Bryan finding it tough going.  No complaints. Brentford can only play who they are up against and in Everton, it seemed to be a team already firmly locked in survival mode. They did what they set out to do very well although when your personal bar is set that low it isn’t hard.  

It wasn’t until the 86th minute that Vitaly Janelt finally levelled things up from close in. KLP’s flick on timed to perfection despite the brief wait for a VAR check which, given how things played out all afternoon, had an almost inevitable feel to it. Thankfully, there was to be no repeat of last week at Fulham.

Brentford could / should (delete as you see fit) have been cleverer. We definitely had the chances and had any one of them gone in it might have been a different story. That’s not how football works though, as we all know well. Balls in the back of the net are what count – not that a team ‘deserved to win’. Everton may well be happy with a point. Brentford will likely feel frustrated, even if Thomas Frank would afterwards talk about his pride at how we played in the circumstances. In the end, the difference between the two sides came down to Thomas once again making great use of his five substitutes. 

Regardless of their role in the goal, surely with Keane Lewis-Potter and Vitaly Janelt both upping the ante from the bench they will be screaming out for a start against Crystal Palace in a few days time. Pontus Jansson will, also, hopefully return after missing out on this one. Otherwise, I’d expect / hope for a back five with maybe Kris Ajer or Mads Roerslev making up the numbers. Palace sure to offer much more going forward than Everton did.

Personally speaking, I think Brentford should still be pleased with a point. I say that on the basis of us keeping pace with the teams in the top few places whilst, also, back in the day it would have been a game we ‘d have lost. Huff. Puff. Desperately unlucky, coming oh so close but unable to breakdown dogged determination.  As Mrs B said, “Sometimes the gods just aren’t on your side”. A point is a point and we’ll enjoy that. Until then, here’s to Tuesday night and Crystal Palace.

The footballing gods have forsaken Wissa, based on this moment yesterday

The star man and top five player review is now up here. Enjoy.

All being well the watching Gareth Southgate did and has now seen sufficient to aid his next pick. Perhaps he wasn’t the only one…..

Nick Bruzon

Another Monkees moment approaches although this would be eleven times better.

20 May

One Premier League game to go. Brentford sit 11th in the table, with this Sunday’s visit from Leeds United even bigger than it already was following last night’s almost perfect combination of results. Everton are safe after coming back from 0-2 down to defeat Palace. Burnley control their own destiny after holding Aston Villa in a game that, arguably, they may even have won. Regardless, the point earned was sufficient to take them out of the bottom three as we head into that final round of fixtures. The Bees are now clear of both Villa and The Eagles, knowing that a win (combined with defeat for Brighton) will see us finish tenth. This would, of course, also see Leeds United relegated….…. 

Oh. My. You couldn’t have scripted it. A moment that has been building for so long is now upon us. We’d all seen the possibility from the moment the fixtures were published. Albeit most critics thinking it would be Leeds United as the ones aiming to hit the top ten whilst swinging the axe marked ‘relegation’. Instead, it is Brentford who find themselves in pole position. The stars slowly aligning over the last few months with supporters whispering under their breath about the potential for the final weekend but barely even able to speak about it for fear of the dream scenario not coming into play. Now, it has. Now we are in a place where… 

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had this kind of pre-match buzz since the return of Harlee Dean and Birmingham City to Griffin Park in February 2018. 

Their triple transfer swoop earlier in the season had, of course, already left a sour taste in the mouth

Maxime Colin. Gone. As much a blow as it meant we lost Peter Gilham’s quite wonderful Gallic stylings as he wrapped his tongue around the full back’s consonants.

Jota. Gone. There aren’t the words to describe the heartbreak felt. Even now, he’s up there in the bracket of my most favourite of all modern-era players. The passion. The joy. What he did in the last minute. Time and again. What he did at Fulham. What he did to Jake Bidwell at Griffin Park. The flowing locks. The silky skills. The heartbreaking ‘farewell’ (first time). The joyous return. All to go ’there’. Urghh

Jota – any excuse. Just one of so many wonderful moments

And, of course, Harlee Dean. Gone.

Harry Redknapp flashing the Birmingham City chequebook to hoover up a quarter of our starting XI in a move that would ultimately backfire big time. Harlee then kicking us squarely in the knackers with ‘that’ soundbite. Another case of the brain taking a good ten seconds to catch up. Much akin to a man leaving his car keys in the ignition, sticking a big bow on the bonnet and then turning his back as an opportunistic thief walked past..

If only he’d just thought it. But no, he said it.

It was a moment that is as now enshrined in Brentford infamy as Russell Slade, the Burnley commentary team, Martin Rowlands’ twisted kiss and number 26 refusing to play against Burnley. Just prior to his then signing….for Burnley.

That said, should he do the business against Newcastle on Sunday (something that will also see Leeds relegated regardless of how things play out at Lionel Road) then perhaps we can cut a little slack. Perhaps… 

Here’s hoping that Burnley can celebrate at Full Time, this time

The scene had been set but what played out when Birmingham City made their first visit to Brentford since all of that nonsense was beyond even the wildest dreams. You knew something special was in the air when, on walking into the ground, the first song heard from #BeeTheDJ was Jessie J – Price Tag . “Money. Money. Money” indeed.

The crowd were buzzing, the atmosphere charged. Flo Jo and Ollie Watkins giving us an early lead before a brace from Neal Maupay made it 4-0 with less than an hour played. Harlee coping it from everyone with even goalkeeper Daniel Bentley unable to supress his giggles. Ollie rounding things with a late fifth and that’s how things stayed. 

Yet just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, there was Brentford Official to surpass even the Jessie J moment. Instead of our regular ‘win music’, there was the ultimate in trolling.

Kool and The Gang / Celebrate subbed off.

The Monkees/ Daydream Believer brought on for a rousing reception.

The chants of ‘Cheer up Harlee Dean’ which had being doing the round most of the game, cranked up to the loudest yet. Simply beautiful and, whilst there has been a lot of subsequent dissection of this moment – predominantly saying we should have been better than this – for me, Clive, it captured the mood of the supporters quite magnificently. It was dirty. It was a low blow. It was brilliant.

That’s how it feels for this Sunday. A game where there is a personal edge to all of this.

A team whose fan base, amongst all of those aiming the tinpot jibes, has been as condescending as it comes over the years.

A club who have consistently fleeced visiting supporters.

A club, apparently, too big for a league that has regularly seen them matched up with ‘little’ Brentford in recent years. Of course, stadium size equates to the league a team should be playing in.

Neal Maupay doing what only Neal could. Even when there were no supporters present.

Then there’s ‘that. video. Probably most of all there’s that video.

“Mind the Gap, Thomas Frank”.….. Not my words Carol. The words of Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas.

I’m sure whatever Thomas says in public, there’s nothing that will give greater pleasure than boxing this one off. Than being the one whose team turn the screw and deliver the fatal blow.

Oh, to return all of that with interest and a smile….

Football isn’t that simple, of course. Wishful thinking alone doesn’t win games. Leeds United will be in a desperate fight for survival. Much as we’d all love to be facing a litter of toothless kittens, I suspect we’ll be confronted by a caged tiger. A desperate beast backed into a corner with survival hanging in the balance.

Their support will be loud. Fierce. Ours needs to be ten times better. And it will. This is going to be as exciting as it comes. As much for the chance of our own top ten finish as whatever else may come.

Watching the Burnley game in The Griff last night, the cheer as they went 1-0 up said everything about where our hearts lie. About what is now in front of us.

I can’t wait for this one. See you there…

Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

Nick Bruzon

Video nice and video nasty suggest a special dish will be on the menu.

10 May

Another day, another vote. We wrote yesterday about the almost impossible choice facing anybody making their Brentford player of the year selection. Such have been the performances this season there are a genuine half-dozen candidates who could lay claim to the award. Now, with just Everton (a) and Leeds United (h) to go, we’re almost at the end of the line. There’s still a ton of excitement to come – and the resurfacing of ‘that’ video yesterday has only served to further stoke supporter intrigue in all things Elland Road (that’s the polite term) – with the hope paramount that we’re all channeling our inner Joy Division next Sunday. That is, assuming Neal Maupay and Brighton don’t get there first this weekend.

Could Neal do it, again

First up, the player of the year vote. For what its worth I’ve gone David Raya. There seems to be a lot of noise for Christian Norgaard too. Both magnificent candidates. As are all the other names on a shortlist where Rico Henry, Ivan Toney and Christian Eriksen seem to be amongst the other names of those leading the charge.

It really is a case where car keys in the bowl would be just as fair a mechanism for selecting the winner though. They’ve all been incredible and this is, without a doubt, the toughest vote ever. My thoughts on the runners and riders, to coin a phrase, are in yesterday’s piece – along with the Southampton post-match debrief and our own season long ‘top five’.

Then, on Monday, another vote dropped. Like standing at a bus stop you wait ages and then two come along at once. This time, the goal of the season.

What a choice this one is. A shortlist of 11 that is dominated by two players. The technical brilliance of Vitaly Janelt at Southampton. His pair agasint Chelsea also included. Then there’s Wissa. Liverpool. Aston Villa. Oldham in the cup. And, of course, that amazing moment against West Ham. Oh, the hairs on the back of my neck are tingling just thinking about that one. About just how incredible it was.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

Then there’s Sergi Canos. He scored our first top flight goal of the season. You know? That night we beat Arsenal and went top of the Premier League. Don’t @ me. The table doesn’t lie.

If Wissa was incredible for the timing and the celebration, this one was at home and that mass out pouring of joy. It wasn’t a bad finish either, with a personal celebration to match.

Sergi very much enjoys the moment…

The vote is live now. As with the POTY awards, all you need is a fan number and a surname to take part. Much as I was tempted by Ajer against Southampton or Saman up at Burnley, for me it is a straight fight between Sergi and Wissa at West Ham.

However, that’s me. Vitaly’s precision and technique are more than worthy of recognition – just which of the three ? Good luck sorting through all of this but at least it’s fun doing so. The video is below.

And talking of videos, a segue as subtle as the ‘jokes’ in Mrs. Brown’s Boys, if ever inspiration was needed for the Everton and Leeds United games (it isn’t) then we were given a helpful reminder from Elland Road yesterday. A helpful reminder that revenge is a dish best served cold. A reminder, that there could be something very special on the menu next Sunday.

We were all saving it. We were all keeping our powder dry. But we’ve all started sharing it. And Monday seemed to be ‘Mind the Gap’ reminder day. Sometimes, there is no real comment needed. No point waxing lyrical for pages. Just remember that even Leeds United ‘official’ shared it before hastily changing their minds….

I am sure that Thomas Frank and all those in an official capacity at Brentford will remain tight lipped in the build up to this one and maintain a stance of nothing more than looking to finish the season with a win. For Brentford fans, we all know what this would mean. Not just the video but the ongoing arrogance and entitlement since our days together in League One. Oh, Ben Strevens xx

A season that has given so much since Sergi got the ball rolling against Arsenal back in August looks like it is going to go all the way to the wire.

And I cannot wait. If its good enough for Ivan then its good enough for me….

Hmm. Love will tear us apart, anyone? A game that was already laced with anticipation looks like it might have cranked up a level or three.

In the meantime, the post match debrief from the Southampton game is now up and online. Should anybody need any further food for though in picking their POTY then this may provide the calm before the storm.

Nick Bruzon

Do this again and the next game will be brutal. The next game will be brackets.

27 Dec

Is there a way to dress that up? Can Brentford take any consolation in the no show at Brighton (sadly, we don’t mean the home fans). What next for the visit of Manchester City on Wednesday evening? With Pep Guardiola’s team bracketing Leeds United the other week and then falling one short of the magical 7(seven) against Leicester City themselves, that one has all the potential to be a turkey shoot if the Bees don’t find whatever was missing at the Amex. Starting a game without Vitaly Janely (covid) and Rico Henry (hamstring) was always going to be tough. Moreso, given the longer term injuries felt by David Raya and Kris Ajer. Yet, yet, yet surely we could have offered something, anything, more than a first half so laid back as to be practically horizontal. Beautifully taken first-half goals by Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay (of course, although kudos to the man for his own reaction and post-match comments) were the least Brighton deserved but by the time Brentford got their arse into gear, it was too little too late.

Neal. Class, as ever

There are no words to really describe how frustrating this one was. Bryan Mbeumo limped off with little more than a half hour gone whilst Matthias Jensen was pulled off with the tea cups still being thrown around the dressing room at half-time. The makeshift defence having twice held open the door for Brighton to seize the initiative and put this one beyond reached after the initial threat that Brentford had been hinting at disappeared into the ether. By the time we rediscovered our mojo in the second half, the game had already been put to bed. Robert Sánchez in goal for the Seagulls preserving their dignity when Baptiste and Pinnock got the ball goalwards.

Having now caught up on the highlights, it feels even more deflating than seeing it at the time.

The legs, as much as the door, held open for the second goal

Perhaps we have been spoiled this season. Perhaps it is as much the fact that, at times, we’ve made the step up to the Premier League look easy. Perhaps games like this – whether outclassed or just not showing up – were always going to happen. Likewise, there is the dreaded Covid factor to factor in. An added element of pot luck to chuck into the mix of trying to prepare for big games with key names already absent. 

I’m certainly not in the doom and gloom camp – anything but. Prior to this we’d had two wins, two draws and a solitary defeat in our previous five league games. It could, probably, should have been three wins but for the 95th moment up at Leeds United. The only performance of real concern being that one at Spurs. This ranked alongside it. Alongside Burnley away. Signs as much has anything else that the Premier League is just so, so tough. Play slightly below your best and watch that gulf in class unfold into a gaping chasm.

We don’t generally do match reports on these pages. Not huge ones, anyway. Besides, we’ve all seen the game – whether at the Amex of c/o our friends at Sky. Thanks a bunch, again. Instead of regurgitating what we all know (albeit the player feature will be up later) , it is as much about where we go from here. Manchester City, Aston Villa and Liverpool (a) are next up in the league. Assuming, of course, Covid doesn’t do its thing in either camp. They’re going to be as tough a set if fixtures as they come. One could almost argue they are games with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Moreso given we know that Christian Norgaard will also be on the casualty list for the City game, given his (soft) yellow card now takes him to five and a mandatory one game ban. 

Certainly, there’s a chance for a midfield bereft of him and Vitaly to either crank it up a notch or be brutally exposed. Given the current popularity and wayward form of his Danish international team mate, one can guess which way supporter feeling will be leaning. 

The pace of Rico Henry was another crucial dimension to our game missing last night. Here’s hoping his stint on the sidelines is as short as possible albeit hamstring injuries don’t, as a rule, cure themselves overnight. On the plus side, Shandon Baptiste is really adjusting to this level well and looking more and more exciting with each game. Had Sanchez not been equal to his effort early in the second half we could well have been sitting here in a different frame of mind today. But we aren’t. That’s not how football works.

So close – Brentford ‘official’ capture the moment on their Twitter feed

Crying over being below par won’t help us recover. It certainly won’t help us against Manchester City on Wednesday. Just about the toughest job in football – stopping pep Guardiola – will only become ten times harder if we aren’t all fully on it.

So, yes, it was a terrible performance. No question. It shouldn’t take that long to get out of first gear – at any level. But it is the Premier league and the game is now over. We put it to bed, file it under b and move on.

Here’s to Wednesday. Here’s to some good news on the health front. Here’s to Manchester City. Here’s to emulating one of my all time favourite football moments. Perhaps…… See you there.

The quintessential Brentford FA Cup image

Nick Bruzon 

The three key players this club would love to start. Will it be Jammy Julian or the spirit of Neal?

4 Dec

Brentford get ready for back to back away games with the trip to Leeds United on Sunday afternoon. The midweek shlepp from Seven (7) Sisters to Tottenham out of the way and put to bed. We’ve done that one elsewhere on the pages although there is still the player analysis piece which can be found here. From this point onwards, its all about Leeds United. About crossing paths with old friends on and  off the pitch once more. About the pleasure that they are obliged to charge us a mere £30 to enter Elland Road.Every penny not paid over that top flight ceiling a delight. Alan Jugde. Stuart Dallas. Pontus Jansson. Memories of the wonderful Neal Maupay back in the day still bringing a smile to the face.

Good times in days gone by. For Brentford and even at Brighton

We’ve all seen the Tottenham game now. Most people would, one presumes, expect some sort of reaction. Some kickback. Some changes. The midfield in particular an area where freshening this up a bit would likely be of benefit. Wissa, Shandon Baptiste, and Mathias Jensen all came off the bench for Brentford at Spurs. Thomas Frank used his press conference to confirm that although “They are players with a little bit more offensive skillset.. they are not in the best place because of injuries”.

That’s a shame. We all know what Wissa can do but Shandon and Mathias also impressed in there brief appearance. A more offensive approach at odds with the sideways passing that had dominated the first hour.

Perhaps the alternative is mixing it up a bit more. Ian Toney found himself isolated out on the right with the gap from him and Bryan to the rest of the group a yawning chasm that was crying out to be filled. Granted, the run of the ball didn’t help in a stop-start game where the referee’s whistle did as much as Tottenham’s pressing to disrupt the flow.

Credit to our opposition. It was a level of intensity I’ve not experienced all season in terms of our opponents closing us down, smothering us and not giving The Bees a moment on the ball. Will Leeds play to the same pattern or will a season that sees them sitting below Brentford in the Premier League mean we have a more equal calibre of opponent to play against?

Will we see a return to Leeds United falling apart? Again. Will Jammy Julian ( you know who you are, cousin in law) be left crying into his Fantasy Football points or is his main man Raphinha the key threat?  Everyone he picks, week in week out, seeming to play out of their skins. The Gibraltarian dominating our family mini league to a level that makes the rest of us start Monday morning looking upwards.

Son last time out ; now Raphinha is the threat

One can only hope the player fulfils the potential of the last Brazillian tipped by a family member on these pages. The trumpeting of Everton’s Allan by our H last Sunday ending in an almighty splat. A 1-0 win for the Bees one I’d happily repeat in a heartbeat at Elland Road. That wasn’t the most exciting game of football but it was certainly a satisfying conclusion. More of the same would do very nicely, thank you. The performance of Charlie Goode and Alvaro Fernandez in nets bringing particular cheer. Something which was repeated on Thursday. At least we can stick a few positives into that one.

In short, it’s going to be tough. It’ll be one heck of a trip and one raucous atmosphere. Away days are always the best, even if we have been shunted to late on in the weekend. Here’s hoping for a Sunday roast. Bring it on and see you there. 

Nick Bruzon

Very much a case of lesson learned.

12 Sep

And there you go. Felled by the ultimate sucker punch. Brentford dominant but failing to capitalise on the plethora of half-chances, first half especially, that we created. Brighton offering little beyond stoic resistance, one wasted opportunity from Danny Wellbeck and a level of shithousery that looked as though they’d cloned Neal. Then, in the 90th minute, one moment of brilliance from Leandro Trossard. The Seagull opening up the Brentford defence like a can of sardines, Jensen watching and Pontus unable to connect with a lunging challenge as the visiting player curled a beauty past David Raya from the edge of the box and broke Brentford hearts. 1-0 Brighton. No complaints at all after a first defeat for the Bees. Very much a case of lesson learned about taking the chance when it comes. Winning games is about balls in the back of the net rather than deserving to win. Next up Wolves. Then Liverpool. Nobody said it would be easy.

Shithousery and unchallenged falling over was the order of the day

Ok. The game. With Onyeka and Ghoddos both fit, the only change was Baptiste leapfrogging the pair of them to start in midfield. Kudos to Thomas Frank for this call. I thought Shandon was wonderful. Driving the team forward and spreading the ball out. A gutsy call to start him after so long out but a great one. The downside here being he visibly wilted later in the second half. Understandable, and not a dig at a player who had a great game, but we were saying in the stands that he needed to be switched out. It came ten minutes too late. That, combined with the addition of Jensen, rather than the flair of Wissa put the Bees on the backfoot and let our visitors back into a game they would eventually snatch. A most unThomas like tactic of settling for the draw rather than going for the win. 

Had it ended 0-0 we’d have been happy. It could have ended with a win had we been a tad more fortune in front of goal. Ivan Toney with a quite delightful first half effort from 40 yards . A dinked chip that had no right to stay so flat from that distance floated agonisingly over the crossbar with goalkeeper Sánchez well off his line. It was an ‘if only’ moment to match his hitting the underside of the bar at Wembley and would have been a goal to rival his finish from the Janelt sky ball at Forest.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. But early on and with Brentford bossing the play, as much as the ref and opposition would allow them, chances came. Bryan moving in to the top forward position and finding himself with four opportunities of varying degrees. There’s one he might feel in retrospect he should have put away but at least the chances are coming. On another day we’d have been two or three up at half-time and romped it. That’s not how football works. Brighton managed the game quite magnificently from their perspective and made no mistake at the death when the door opened an inch. There was Trossard to boot it wide open and hoover up all three points. 

In the end, a frustrating afternoon of coming so close. Brighton, as stingy in defence as we had gone into this game expecting. No inch offered. No quarter given. No goal scored. Brentford pressing but without that moment of good fortune or game changing genius to break them down. An early yellow card for Sergi put him on high alert and his ultimate removal from the field of play by Thomas probably no bad thing, on this day. 

We can’t look back at this now without mentioning referee Graham Scott. Cripes, Graham Norton would have done a better job out in the middle and he’s a comedian. Mind you, so is Scott on that showing. The Albion players going down as easily as a sack of floor magnets (Harry’s choice of phrase and he’s only 8). Bournemouth levels of game spoilery. Yet instead of a Begovic meltdown and a Mepham red card we had an impotent referee and an opposition who played their game to perfection. Maupay at the end showing this to the fore, playing Ivan like a fiddle as we attempted to restart. 

No complaints about that either, by the way. We loved this attitude when he was at Griffin Park. A leopard won’t change his spots and we knew to expect it. What came as more of a surprise was this approach running through the whole of Graham Potter’s team and the ref’s blind eye to the whole thing.

Perhaps it’s the Premier League. Perhaps we need to be more cynical. More shrewd. Play to the letter of the rules rather than the spirit of the game. Collapse like a felled domino to slow down the clock and disrupt the flow. Let’s not forget, either, that this was a third win out of four for Brighton. They’ve had a great start and this is why. Solid, solid work.

Still, no point crying over spilt milk. It was as devastating as it comes when the game ended yesterday. To run it so close and fall down on the line. For Brentford to look so promising but come away with nothing. It was hard but at least we remained competitive. 

Tough to take at full time

One thing’s for sure, if anybody was under any doubt as to how hard it’s going to be getting results at this level then perhaps this was the reality check we needed. Congratulations, Brighton. For Brentford, back to finishing school before the game with Wolves. After that, we’ve got Liverpool at Lionel Road. Anything less than 110% focus in our first game with a team of genuine title contenders (sorry Arsenal, but…) and it could be brutal. Get it right and it could be the stuff of legends. 

We can’t change the disappointment but we can use all the positives. Now bring on Saturday. Bring on Wolves.  

Nick Bruzon  

Time to do another Arsenal? Or will a returning hero ruin the party?

11 Sep

Saturday and the Premier League is back. Brentford host Brighton in our second top flight fixture at Lionel Road following the game with Arsenal. As if anybody needed any further reminder about that one. A 2-0 home win that saw us hit the dizzy heights of first place and sent Mikel Arteta’s team to the bottom of the table. A place they still occupy with a total of no points and no goals. For the Bees, unbeaten and a record of WDD is a wonderful start with the opportunity to try and kick on again today. With Wolves (a) and then Liverpool (h) next up For Brentford in the league, nobody could deny the intensity of games or ongoing calibre of opposition at this level. Even Arsenal. Still, that was then and this is now. Brighton are coming and with them, of course, one particular name. One particular man. One Neal Maupay.

Maupay – a work of art

Shithousery. That’s the word (I’m assuming the editor has resisted the temptation to include it in the ‘family-friendly’ programme article today – although if you want to find out its available around the ground for the price of £4) . The undisputed master of this dark art. And we loved him for it. Absolutely loved him. The goalscoring wasn’t bad either. Ruining Fulham’s promotion push at the last minute or just ruining Leeds United. The pint sized magician was as skilled with the ball at his feet as he was with his studs on the opposition. He swore he’d stay. We were distraught when he left. We’ve all moved on. Now, we have a chance to offer a welcome back and then see how both he, and Brighton, have progressed.

Leeds United. Ruined. Many, many times

I have to say I’m excited going in to this one. Plus ça change. Table wise, Brighton have finished bottom quarter in the four seasons since we parted ways in the Championship and they hit the top flight. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that makes them (relatively) ‘easier’ opposition. Just to maintain this level is a feat in itself whilst, as the preview on ‘official’ notes in 2020/21 “Graham Potter’s side played far better than their results suggested last term. On expected goals, Albion finished fifth, with 20 points more than they actually earned, and with the third meanest defence in the division”.

Whilst the table doesn’t lie, performance needs to be noted. If nothing else, they currently sit above the Bees having already picked up six points. The one blot on the copy book coming at home to Everton last time out.    

For Brentford, everybody is fit barring long term injuries Mads Bech and Josh Dasilva. Our squad has been bolstered by the signing of Danish International Mathias Jørgensen, aka ‘Zanka’. He’ll be filling the Winston Reid role of emergency centre back and comes in as cover for Mads on a one year contract. With a wealth (is there any other sort? Gamut, perhaps) of experience, including Euro 2020 and World Cup 2018 he sounds like a shrewd acquisition. One can only presume bench, at best, today. The key question being whether Frank Onyekareturns in midfield or will be left…waiting for Ghoddos to lose his place. Sorry. Apologies. I’ve finally done it. But given Saman has been with us since September 2020, that’s not bad going.  

With that Portuguese chap set to debut for Manchester United today, it’s a safe bet we won’t be first up on Match Of The Day this evening. To be fair, the only thing stoping us being ninth in the running order is the fact there are only eight games taking place this afternoon. Fair enough. Reputations need to be earned. Praise not just handed out for the sake of it. With ghoulish fascination about the fate of Arsenal aswell as Spurs being handed the opportunity to stride further clear at the top, it doesn’t take a genius to pick the setlist. That’s football. 

Yet this afternoon’s game has all the hallmarks of a really close fought battle. A hotly contested encounter which will be played out in front of a full house. The raucous crowd sure to lift the players as they have done in the previous three games.  Hey, get it right and Gary Lineker may even have us on his couch before Watford – Wolves. 

I can’t wait. For the game (I’ll be asleep by the time MOTD comes around). Roll on 3pm.

See you there. And don’t forget your Covid pass…..

Full time against Arsenal – more of the same would be incredible….l

Nick Bruzon

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