Tag Archives: net

Harlee, thongs and perfect scoring. Dean’s ‘false 9’ secure a genuine 3. Points, that is.

22 Feb

Why do Brentford exist?” Not my words but those of one Sheffield Wednesday fan on Twitter, just prior to kick off. Two hours later he’d found out why, as Dean Smith’s Bees recorded a quite wonderful 2-1 away win. It was a first victory for Brentford over Wednesday in more time than I can remember – certainly since our paths recrossed in the Championship.

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The spirit of Descartes is alive and well at Hillsborough

A looping header from John Egan and a follow up from captain Harlee Dean just before the end of the first period had given the Bees a deserved 2-0 lead going in for their half time cuppa. It was a gap we maintained until the game reached the last gasps of a frantic denouement, Fernando Forestieri pulling one back for the hosts. Yet despite the Owls having, finally, turned the Brentfrod goal into a metaphorical Alamo after what seems a somewhat contained first 80 minutes, the brilliant Dan Bentley and his defence more than held firm.

As ever, decent match reports are on the BBC, ‘official’ or Beesotted. As are Dean’s post match thoughts where, amongst other things, he made the very valid point that Wednesday “Will be a top six side“.  I didn’t travel and nor, does it seem, were many others in a position to do so. What a reward for those who did make it. Yet, likewise, what a treat for those stuck at home relying on Beesplayer or the wireless. Personally, I opted for the later on this occasion (with apologies to Mark Burridge), giving BBC Radio London a spin. It was a twist of the dial well worth making.

Phill Parry’s opening gambit to Billy Reeves of “You half expect the players to come out wearing nothing but leather thongs” as the prematch music built was the shape of things to come. Our commentary team subsequently noting that, perhaps, this would be against FA regulations. I was then lost in a sea of praise for Harlee, conjecture over ‘false 9s’ and general admiration for the luxuriance of Jota’s hair. Great job chaps, and thank you.

False 9’s, you (possibly) say? Indeed. With Lasse Vibe and Philipp Hofmann both missing, an already tough task was made the harder by having no recognised centre forward (don’t be naughty, they were injured….).

This is territory we’d been in before with last season’s visit to QPR. The difference then being Dean’s decision had been deliberate. And horrific. Alan Judge ending up looking like a little boy lost as sea through no fault of his own as the hosts, and it pains me to say, ran riot. Then again, Brentford couldn’t have organised a pissup in a barn door with a banjo on that day – we were that disorganised.

This time around was clearly different. Romaine Sawyers was recalled to team where he filled that ‘false’ position, with Canos and Jota continuing to add width. Likewise, a debut for Rico Henry in place of Tom Field was one which met with instant plaudits. Phil Parry has probably woken up still talking about his incredible pace – such was the impression made by the former Walsall man. Brentford were solid at the back and exciting going forward.

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Catwalk Billy Reeves had provided the one moment of joy the last time we tried a ‘false 9’

As ever, the video highlights are available from Sky. At least, until Bees Player are allowed to put their package up and that’s one I’ll certainly be adding here later. If for no other reason than to see how the ever wonderful Mark Burridge, assisted this time by Ciaran Brett, compared to Phil and Billy.

Mark Burridge adds the words, if not the leather thongs

The huge downside for the night was the injury suffered by Josh McEachran. He was stretchered off late in the first half following protracted treatment from both physios. Whilst Dean Smith had the luxury of KK to fall back on, nobody likes to see any player injured. Moreso one who has really stepped up his game this season and become an integral part of this team. Here’s hoping it looked worse than it actually was.

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Jota speaking for everyone

The other slight negative about the evening was Sergi Canos. Nothing to do with his on-pitch performance but, more, his use of post match Twitter.

Hasn’t anybody told him “We go again”  should only be used after a poor away defeat? By the defence.

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In all seriousness though, one can’t help but get drawn in by his enthusiasm about a return to the Brentford team. Long may it continue. It truly is wonderful to have him back in our ranks and out there on pitch.

And so we roll on to Saturday. A home game with doomed Rotherham United. Common sense says this one will be : lots – nil. However, as Mrs Bruzon would note, common sense is something that yours truly is severely lacking in.

Until then, let’s revel in the job done so far. The aforementioned prematch critic of Brentford was, at least, magnanimous enough to note the performance of Daniel Bentley at full time.

Personally, I’m just amazed how many goals Brentford continue to score. Scott who now?As one Twitter wag noted……

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Nick Bruzon    

In Matthew we trust. Whatever happens over the next two weeks.

15 Jan

Newcastle United left Griffin Park with all three points last night and nobody can deny them that. They scored twice. Brentford scored once. Newsflash: that’s how football works. Yet even in defeat, I woke up this morning (duh-duh-duh-duh-duhh) full of positivity. As, it would seem, have the vast majority of those out in cyberspace. This, despite losing a game and the prospect of our star man on his way to West Ham/other after Dean’s strange decision in regards to team selection.

Thoughts on that were published in yesterday evening’s post match article. Worth a look purely for the ever eloquent views of Bernard Quackenbush in the comment’s section. And Bernard, if you are reading, then that special guest slot remains yours should you ever want to go ‘full fat’ on the column (not a euphemism).

Looking across Facebook and Twitter (other sources are also available) there is a lot of pride out there today at how well Brentford played. There is huge recognition of how well Lasse Vibe performed up top. Perhaps the immediate answer for when Scott is sold is sitting right under our noses. There is huge regret at the fact that Jota couldn’t quite complete his moment of magic in the 90th minute.

If not for the well deserved point that we would have scored but the sheer and unadulterated moment of mutual celebration that the 10,000 home supporters would have shared. Jota. In the last minute. After the Bees had been knocking on the door all second half. Just imagine the sheer ecstasy had he found the back of the net in such circumstances…

Even Mark Burridge has posted on facebook this morning to say that the game, “Was a pleasure to commentate on, Marcus, Mick and I really enjoyed it….had the last minute Jota goal happened then I feel the stadium would have erupted.”

Eruption probably the understatement of the decade.

So it is a morning of regret. But lovely regret. Disappointment yet in the nicest way. Honestly, I’m struggling to explain it properly. We lost. It’s normally the cause for a moan about not creating enough chances and, had we, then things might have been different. But yesterday we played. And we played so well. No pressure Dean, but a bar has been raised after outperforming the league leaders for huge periods.

As for Scott Hogan, well I’ve see some nonsense out there today. He didn’t come out for the second half. He didn’t warm up, his attitude sucks. Allegedly. Utter garbage.

If you want bad attitude then look at Dimitri Payet or Diego Costa. Scott has done nothing but carry on doing his thing when selected. Just look at the Birmingham game when rumours had long been gathering. You can’t blame the player for the manager’s decisions to declare him available, to not start him and then to not bring him off the bench.

We’ll sell him at some point, no question. But once the price is right. Standing outside The Griffin yesterday evening, Matthew Benham and his family walked past. “Don’t sell Hogan…” shouted one supporter . “Unless the price is right” , added another.

The response was immediate: “I’m holding out”. Anybody thinking they’ll get a cut price deal might do well to remember this isn’t the Brentford of old.

We’ll reinvest, but once the players are right (Hello? Operator? Can I have the number for Norwich City please?)  The likes of Tom Field, who had another great game yesterday, and Josh Clarke have already shown we have strength within the deeper squad. Chris Mepham has now had his debut whilst Jota is back and Rico Henry has still to show us what he can do. Alan Judge gets closer to fitness each day although perhaps that is a dream too far? Or is it?

One thing Matthew has shown is he loves to surprise us. Who would ever have thought Marcello Trotta would return after the rarely mentioned penalty incident? Yet return he did as he not only won back the fans after the lowest of lows but his goals then inspired us to that wonderful promotion.

They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup”. Not my words but those of Russell Slade after that incredible Lunchtime at Leyton Orient. Trotta scored the winner that day yet, but for Mathew’s shock decision, we’d never have seen him in Brentford colours again. But for Matthew’s decision who knows what might have happened that season?

1-0 Marcello

Marcello – Matthew brought him back despite everything

Whatever happens with Scott Hogan, anybody doubting the player’s attitude should probably take a step back. Anybody doubting that a decision made will be for the long term good of the club and the team might want to consider how the side has ebbed, flowed and transformed over the years.

Co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen, made that famous quote back in September 2015, telling supporters that “The goal is to get stronger after each transfer window”. Being honest, it has never quite felt as though we are stronger in the immediate short term yet this team and this squad keep going.

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Perhaps this is as much through long term injury. As Andre Gray was doing his thing, Scott was undergoing that long, long recuperation. Imagine a team with those two together?  Now we have Rico Henry and Lewis Mcleod out for most of the season. Yet this has given others the chance to shine and I can’t imagine Tom Field giving up his place without a fight once the former Walsall man is fit again.

I’m bored of people getting overly critical about the make up of the squad or our long term direction. And that includes myself. How that squad is managed is a different issue altogether but Dean Smith showed yesterday we have players who can do it.

We came close. We lost. But we impressed. Can Dean get us to go one better? Can we get a repeat of our last away performance when we travel to Wigan next weekend? And then there’s the small matter of Chelsea away.

Whoever is picked, it’s a great time to be a Brentford fan. We’re fast approaching our fourth season in the Championship with a wonderful opportunity to cause an incredible cup upset. I’ve said it before but need to say it again. That’s just bonkers. Moreso, for those of us who have been here for sometime.

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Mike Ashley and Cliff Crown yesterday – Brentford now mixing it with the big boys

Anybody who doubts how far we’ve come just needs to look at yesterday’s match day programme. Part one of Mark Chapman’s piece on the failed takeover attempt by QPR is well, well worth a read to remind ourselves of what once might have been.

I disagree with how Dean handled Scott yesterday. A poor decision. One of the B-team should have been recalled. But I admire his trust in Lasse and how good to see that rewarded.

Who knows what will happen over the next two weeks? It might not be pretty. It might not be pleasing. Yet one can only trust in everything that has gone before and the way we are continuing to build for our long term future.

Now, who’s got shovel ? There’s a stadium to build.

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The programme this season has been quality – credit to Mark Chapman

Nick Bruzon

Dean talking buttocks as Newcastle match day arrives and Chelsea details emerge.

14 Jan

Saturday morning, 7am. It’s cold out side, very cold, but thankfully the snow has failed to materialise in Brentford. With the FA Cup behind us for now (although the club did confirm details about the Chelsea game on Friday – more below) it is back to League action for the Bees as Newcastle United are the visitors to Griffin Park.

In the red corner, Scott Hogan. He’s the man, the man with the midas touch. Worth his weight in gold, and goals, he’s been finding the net for fun this season yet now finds himself the absolute centre of transfer speculation as those West Ham stories just won’t go away.

In the blue corner (with orange trim), Dwight Gayle. Outright occupant of the penthouse suite in the Championship leading scorer hotel. Scott’s 14 are still 5 behind the Newcastle United man who showed first hand back in October how deadly he can be. Gayle’s brace contributing to a 3-1 win over the Bees at St. James Park and he hasn’t looked back.

So the big question, will we see them face off today? From one respect the good news was Dean Smith’s confirmation in Thursday’s press conference that “Scott Hogan’s buttock is fine, he has trained all week and is available for selection,” The pair were due to speak yesterday to assess the situation and then, come 2pm (or closely after) we’ll get our first look at the team sheet to see if Lasse Vibe retains his place up top or Scott walks straight back into the side.

I can only expect the later. With no fee having been agreed or deal signed then one can only presume he’ll be leading the line. Unless Scott is having some form of hissy fit à la Diego Costa or Dimitri Payet (how angry must Chelsea and West Ham fans be today?) then surely the chance to prove his mettle against the second best team in the division will be the perfect shop window for a player harbouring dreams of top flight football at some point in his career. Whether that be next week or next season.

As Dean went on to add (and you can find the full article on ‘official’ ), “I fully expect him to want to score a hat-trick against Newcastle United and show people who may question his Premier League credentials that he can do it.”

No Brentford fan wants to see Scott leave but is anyone naïve enough to think we could turn down figures in the region of £15million? More to the point, given what he has been through in his career to date, would anybody really stand in the player’s way?  Scott will go to the Premier League at some point soon – whether January or the summer. Of that, have have absolutely no doubt. He’s just too good.

Today could well be our last chance to see him at Griffin Park. At least, in the red and white of Brentford. We’ve only one more home game until the transfer window closes and that’s an evening kick off, on January 31st, against Aston Villa. I’d love to see him starting that one but in my heart of hearts I fear we’ll have said farewell by that point.

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Come on Scott. Could today be the last time we’ll see scenes like this?

Instead, let’s just live for the moment. Can Harlee Dean and crew keep out Dwight Gayle at one end, leaving Scott free to try and catch Newcastle’s free scoring goal machine at the other? Here’s hoping. This  afternoon’s game has goals in it, no doubt. The only question being just how many?

The one piece of news that the club have been able to confirm is that surrounding the FA Cup fourth round tie at Chelsea. It was announced yesterday that that game will be a 3pm kick off on Saturday 28th January. A not surprising decision but, at the same time, given the home team’s subsequent league fixtures there was always the thought it might be brought forward to Friday night or even Saturday lunchtime.

As with our previous visit to Stamford Bridge, we’ve been allocated all 6,000 tickets in their ‘Shed’ end. Details of sale are yet to be released although with the game only a fortnight away expect this to be imminent. The pricing structure of £30 adults and £15 kids is (relatively) competitive – I’m still baulking at the £41 charged by Leeds United –  so filling that end to get Chelsea rocking won’t be an issue.

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Everything we know about the Chelsea game in two tweets

With a home game against Brighton and the aforementioned Villa match immediately after that one, it has all the potential to be a wonderful few weeks for Brentford.

This time ten years ago we were playing games against Leyton Orient, Yeovil Town and Carlisle United as the Bees eventually finished the season a the bottom of League One. Now we’re talking about selling players for £15million whilst taking on some of the biggest names in English football.

It makes you think.

For now, though, it’s all about Newcastle United. See you there.

Nick Bruzon 

Brentford walking into weekend protest at Blackburn as Charlton crank theirs up

17 Nov

Blackburn Rovers v Brentford. By rights we should be talking about Gary Blissett sending the Bees into a 1989 FA Cup quarter final against Liverpool or Jota sending Mark Burridge into near meltdown as he scored ‘that goal’ (#Burridgegasm). Instead, it seems that this Saturday we could be walking into the heart of a maelstrom with a supporter protest being planned against club owners Venkys. Like Charlton Athletic fans before them (and stick around to see how they took things to the next level at the weekend) it is another protest against an ownership that is deemed to have run a once successful club to the brink of disaster. And then pushed it over the edge.

Any excuse to take a look at this one again

The Lancashire Telegraph is reporting this morning how fans plan to raise red cards on both the 18th and 75th minute – a reference to the club’s formation in 1875 prior to their becoming founder members of the football league – as a sign of their dissatisfaction with team performance and the club’s rising debts.

Will this affect Brentford? Will it play into our hands ? Will we be able to get back to winning / goalscoring ways against a team who have been  rooted in the bottom three for what seems like most of the season ? Or could it even inspire the home side to up their game?

Who knows. What I can say is that it certainly puts our own ‘problems’ in perspective. In Matthew Benham and the current board, we have an outfit making no secret of the fact that the club is looking to be run in a financially sound way. For sure, the glut of sales / departures alongside Mark Warburton were tough for many to swallow but nobody could deny a subsequent Championship finish of 9th was a false or unimpressive position. The table doesn’t lie,

As recently as our last game, the Bees were a win away from hitting the play off zone. Sadly, we capitulated against Fulham with a, frankly, woeful performance that saw the Cottagers finally record a win against us at the fifth attempt.

Our biggest supporter dissatisfaction is currently in regards to the new club crest and, whilst all observations pro/against equally valid, it’s hardly in the Blackburn / Charlton category of doom and gloom.

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I love the nod to the past in our new crest

As for Charlton, just when things couldn’t get any crazier at the Valley supporters took matters further into the hands in the ongoing protest against owner Roland Duchatelet. They visited his home town of St Truiden on the weekend of his 70th birthday with the intention of handing out leaflets to outline their concerns.

Not only did they do this but, likewise, stumbled across the man himself enjoying a birthday meal as his team went down 3-0 at Swindon. The Coventry Telegraph is amongst those with the story whilst you can see the video footage below.

For all that Brentford fans may be unhappy about certain aspects of life at Griffin Park, things could be an awful lot worse.

Charlton fans take protest up a notch.

Nick Bruzon  

Matthew Benham’s letter to fans – the verdict

22 Jul

Wow. With Brentford fans still talking about the sales of David Button to Fulham and Jake Bidwell to QPR, Matthew Benham caught us with a stunning surprise right (or should that be, write?). Yet again our owner proving he is the master of the unexpected but utterly welcome with yesterday’s open letter. Brutally honest, frank, revealing and optimistic as Matthew wrote to supporters with his thoughts on last campaign along with his hopes for the future.

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We want to be in the top six and we will see where we can go from there”. Boom. That was some opening and an aspiration for sure. Talk about set your sights high yet, at the same time, if we start this season like we ended the last one then absolutely no reason why not. Moreso given the new signings, “They are high-quality players, young and hungry and for all three there was unanimous backing from everyone in the recruitment process to sign them.”

We’ve been in the territory of ambitious hopes before. I still recall Rasmus telling us in September how the Brentford squad would get stronger each transfer window. Honestly, could we say that had happened when the January window closed?

At the time, no. Yet nobody can deny the players that did come in have grown, developed and are arguably performing much, much better having had games under their belt. Any club would do well to replace an Andre Gray but Scott Hogan has certainly picked up the baton and run. Goals were going in for fun. Moses Odubajo looked a huge loss but I love Max Colin – a player Matthew acknowledged himself was one of the odd ones to hit the ground running

Yes, we’ve had  to make some sales this time around. Inevitable but I can’t wait to see how those new players bed into an now established squad. Of course, we don’t know what else might happen before the summer window ’slams shut’ but, for now, the changes don’t seem anywhere near as wholesale as last time out. More to the point, they seem a lot more positive – at least in terms of potential and excitement for those coming in.

Of course the owner wants to big us up, to try and engender optimism. I get that and it’s natural. But, equally, there was  an undercurrent of almost too much honesty in there. That’s no bad thing – quite the opposite. We’ve all got eyes and we could see what was happening out there at times. Likewise, we’ve moaned on these pages about the lack of such an approach or fan comms in the past. It’s more that it was just so unexpected.

This time last year there wasn’t a lot of direction or organisation. I don’t blame anyone, it happened” and “We did change too much at once as well but I like it a lot that it’s stable this year” were just two of the lines to really jump out (see, also, talk about KK and the closure of the Academy). If you want to set yourself up to be criticised then here’s the ammo. Yet, to be honest, as supporters we could see this and we knew it too. Fair play for Matthew holding up his hand.

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The FA Cup dream was over after a rubbish afternoon

Personally, I’d have been disappointed had there been no recognition for some of the low points in a campaign that included the Marinus experiment, pitch gate, the FCM parade in our Walsall cup debacle and then the infamous 4-6-0 formation in the no show at QPR . Matthew didn’t need to highlight our flaws but that he has, and that they are recognised, is infinitely more welcome than his ignoring them. He could have hidden but he didn’t and this, for me, was probably the most telling point of the entire letter.

On the new stadium, there was a teaser of an update with the admission that: “We are close to taking another big step forward. Hopefully there will be news in the next few weeks”.

Nobody could deny that Lionel Road has been a long process, for numerous well documented reasons. However, with Brentford about to begin their third consecutive Championship season as a terraced club, here’s hoping for something else to cheer about on that front. The clock is ticking

I did find Matthew’s closing comment of “I don’t like it when fans sing my name though, I wish they would stop. It’s not for me” equally interesting. As somebody who normally keeps quite a low profile, to write his letter was an unusual (albeit welcome) step. To make this admission must have been a tough one.

If nothing else, supporters just want to recognise and thank him for what he has done. Then again, if we respect the man that much then perhaps one to drop from the repertoire for now.

If Matthew spares us goal music the least we can do is spare him a song !

Is everything as good as it could be at Brentford? No. If it was we’d be celebrating a Premier League title now, having gone up against Middlesbrough in the play offs and then beaten Leicester City to the title last season. But, it IS exciting.

Just to be starting a third successive Championship campaign after so long in the doldrums and coming ’so close’ gets my spine tingling. As somebody who has been coming to Griffin Park since 1979, to be in with another attempt at breaking into the top flight is one that genuinely excites and baffles me. Historically, our default mode is mid-table or sniffing around the trap door to tier 4.

Let’s be honest. There were a lot of things that made no sense last season and frustrated us. We’ve been there, done  it and you could write a book on the subject. But far be it from me to waffle on about that any more. That’s a job for others.

It’s a new campaign, a new start and I’m full of new optimism. Forget the hashtags and slogans. Just keep the straight talk coming.

Bring on Huddersfield Town…

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Nick Bruzon

Is Matthew Benham having a change of heart as a hero returns for Reading?

29 Aug

The pitch is laid and Reading await. We have a new p.a. system set to ‘go live’ whilst there is the small matter of Sam Saunders being back in the squad. After defeat at Burnley last weekend and, all being well, the turf malfunction now being rectified, perhaps we can approach Saturday’s game with even more of a spring in the step than usual.

First up, the pitch. It’s been no secret how bad this has looked with everybody from Reading boss Steve Clarke to Marinus weighing in on the subject and, as such, no surprise that this week has seen the surface entirely re-laid.

Whilst an article on the official site has advised fans they may notice “small join lines when attending Saturday’s match” we’ve also been promised this won’t affect play. Marinus has also gone on record as saying that when he saw it earlier in the week, it was looking “very good”.

The 'official' pitch photo released by the club this week

The ‘official’ pitch photo released by the club this week

Of course, the real acid test will begin at 3pm Saturday but, one would hope, we can put an end to the problems that have blighted Griffin Park so far this campaign. And with the onset of International break after the Reading game, fingers will be crossed that if we get through this one unscathed then it really will be a case of ‘business as usual’ when we use it again in late September.

Aswell as the pitch, supporters will also be treated to the ‘beefed up’ public address system. Any regular reader to these pages will know that the tinny sound quality and inaudible announcements on the Ealing Road have long been a source of frustration.

Now, we’ve been promised, “a significant improvement to the quality of both music and announcements by Peter Gilham on matchday in all home areas.” By quality of music, I can only presume they mean the noise levels rather than Big Bees Radio’s selection of the latest 45”s. To be fair, our in house DJ has been on a very much rockier vibe so let’s hope that continues.

One place music is definitely not welcome at Griffin Park is to help celebrate goals. Other clubs have opted for the use of “Goal Music”, something I can’t stand. It’s up there with ‘half and half’ scarves as things that should not be allowed within a square mile of a football stadium.

If you really need a burst of “Chelsea Dagger” or “Let me Entertain You” to help liven proceedings after finding the back of the net then there’s something seriously wrong. To be fair, there’s something seriously wrong about needing The Fratellis in any walk of life, but that’s another column for another day.

At least Matthew Benham is in agreement on this one. He has taken to Twitter several times in the past to confirm that this is something that Brentford will never do.

Not my words but those of Matthew Benham

Not my words but those of Matthew Benham

So it was with interest I watched the game between FC Midtjylland (of course, his other club) and Southampton on Thursday night. What should we get as the Danes took the lead but a snatch of Coldplay (Viva La Vida, I believe) to help ‘lift’ the mood further.

It seemed a random choice at best. Coldplay, officially the wettest band since records began, whilst certainly troubling the hit parade on more than one instance are hardly the masters of uplifting stadium rock. More crucially, is this a European ‘thing’ or could it herald a change of heart from Mr. Benham?

The thought of being treated to a snatch of ‘Jump in my Car” when The Hoff scores is too much on too many levels. Mr Benham, if you are reading then I implore you to please leave the celebrations to the crowd and the goal music to the Danes.

Jump in my car. Just not after a goal

Jump in my car. Just not after a goal

That said, I’d forgive us just about anything if Sam Saunders gets to put in an appearance today and, better, celebrates with a goal. The ever popular wing wizard is finally back in the squad and with the team seemingly more concerned with going sideways and backwards at Burnley, I’d love to see him let loose on Reading.

To be fair, I think we’ll see a much more attacking display anyway. Marinus has made no secret of how important three points are to him today. Maxime Colin was one of the few to come away from Turf Moor with universal plaudits and he may well start this one. With the option to push Alan Mac into centre mid and Nico Yennaris, along with Sam, also deemed fit then we could see a change or two. At the very least, on the bench.

Brentford managed to secure all six points against Reading last season and so, much like the pitch, it will be a very interesting test of how well our new squad and management are bedding in. That said, nothing is certain in football – just ask Derby County.

I couldn’t end today’s article without thanking the visitors for their stunning performance at Pride Park at the end of last campaign. Jaws dropped lower and lower as, with Derby only needing a point to secure one of the play off berths that Brentford were also fighting for, goal after goal flew in for the visitors.

Reading may not realise just how significant a part they played that afternoon in how events unfolded at Griffin Park. The excitement of relying on other (no offence) improbable results and them actually coming off – see also Blackburn Rovers thumping Ipswich – was unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

Oh, how I’d love more of the same this season. Can we continue things today?

At 3pm, we find out.

Nick Bruzon

New pitch and TV cameras await Reading and QPR at Brentford

27 Aug

In the most expected piece of news since the sale of Andre Gray was confirmed, the announcement has been made that Brentford’s game with QPR has been moved to the evening of Friday 30th October. And, it seems, we have a pitch in place for the visit of Reading this weekend although, of course, whether it gets the seal of approval from Steve Clarke is another thing altogether.

Will the pitch pass muster?

Will the pitch pass muster?

So. Our first game with QPR since a 1-1 draw at Griffin Park back in February 2004 will now take place on the evening of Friday 30th October. Given the local police presence required for the following day’s rugby World Cup final at Twickenham this was only ever gong to happen. Moreso, given the lure that such a game would have held for the Sky TV camera who have also exercised their option to broadcast this one.

Aside from the ‘official site’ being mathematically challenged / supporter pedantry (delete as applicable), bringing it forwards nineteen and quarter hours does, instantly, destroy all chance of Halloween horror headlines. But it’s a small price to pay.

So, a 3pm kick off on Friday then?

So, a 3pm kick off on Friday then?

Who doesn’t enjoy a game played under the new look Griffin Park Floodlights? Moreso, one against our closest rivals with a mere 5.2 miles (that’s about an hour on the 237 bus, using London Transport timings) between TW8 and Loftus Road.

Last season saw the home game with Fulham played in the same time slot and that all ended rather well for the Bees, thanks to Harlee Dean’s piledriver and then Jota ‘doing his thing’ in the last minute. We won’t even talk about the away game, yet, suffice to say it still brings a smile to the face thinking about the 4-1 hammering.

Jota - his winner against Fulham at Griffin Park was quite exciting

Jota – his televised winner against Fulham at Griffin Park was quite exciting

These local games are certainly the ones we love to win and hate to lose. We’ve got four of them this time around and I’m already getting excited about the approach of this first encounter with QPR in over a decade.

This is, of course, assuming we have a pitch to play it on (which might not be a stupid a comment as it might have sounded a month ago). That said, those of us living in the TW8 vicinity saw the floodlights burning long into the late evening as work in laying the Motz turf has now been completed.

Certainly, @JamieCrosby24 has been the man, if not on the ground, then the one loitering just outside it. He has kept Twitter updated with covert photographs and up to the minute updates, before finally advising at just after 9pm last night that “the final touches are (being) carried out.”

Jamie has kept Brentford fans updated all week

Jamie has kept Brentford fans updated all week

So Reading have somewhere to play. Referee Andrew Madley has a pitch that he can inspect. Marinus is expected to take training on the new surface this Friday. Steve Clarke might even smile. Perhaps.

I can understand Clarke’s nervousness and concern. The pictures following the Ipswich Town and Oxford United games were somewhat terrifying. However, the necessary remedial action has been taken and we now have to hope/ trust that the Motz turf does what it is supposed to between now and Saturday.

Like Fulham and QPR, a game with Reading is another that falls into the ‘local’ bracket. There are sure to be a good 1800 fans piling up the M4 for this one and it promises to be a cracking atmosphere. Last season saw a Jota inspired 3-1 victory over the Royals and Brentford fans will be hoping for more of the same as we consign the disappointment of Burnley to the waste bin of history.

There are sure to be more than a few people watching the on pitch action this weekend. And, for once, not just the men in red and white.

As ever at Griffin Park, Saturday could be interesting.

Nick Bruzon

First shots of new Griffin Park pitch look good (despite Reading fears)

25 Aug

The pitch is back. Visitors to Brentford on Monday would have seen the contractors hard at work, relaying the grass at Griffin Park ahead of the match with Reading this Saturday. The luxuriant ‘Motz’ surface is already well in place on the New Road wing as all will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the ‘turf malfunction’ that blighted the Ipswich Town and Oxford United games, aswell as forcing the postponement of the fixture with Birmingham City.

Contractors prepare to move the rolls of Motz turf into position

Contractors prepare to move the rolls of Motz turf into position

Whilst absolutely essential that this be done, Reading boss Steve Clarke has, reportedly, become the latest to get stuck into the playing surface. Somewhat ironic, given the ease with which it had previously come unstuck. However, local website ‘Get Reading’ have run a feature in which he is already approaching histrionic levels of nervousness and concern.

The story, which you can find here (for those who haven’t already seen it) includes a number of comments which I’m not sure whether are simple sabre rattling and an attempt to unnerve the Bees or genuinely deep-rooted fears.

Clarke is quoted as saying, “we have to play the first match on a pitch that is not going to be ready. It’s not correct.” This immediately begs the question of whether he possesses some hitherto unseen powers of precognition or clairvoyance. How else would he know it isn’t going to be ready? True, it is still looking very sandy but that green stuff we can now see does tend to be a bit of a giveaway.

Warning? Maybe before. It's looking very good now as work commences

Warning? Maybe before. It’s looking very good now as work commences

To be fair, one can sympathise. The layman would probably be of the impression that pitches do require months of ‘bedding in’; of something that can only be achieved over pre-season.

Yet, by his own admission, that simply isn’t the case and, these days, a re-lay prior to a game is not uncommon – however unpalatable he may find it – as he added: “I’m lucky enough to have been involved in some cup finals when they were played at Millennium Stadium. The pitch was always put down two or three days before the game and it was never good.”

Let’s not pretend the pitch was ‘any good’ previously. It wasn’t. Head coach Marinus Dijkhuizen and chief executive Mark Devlin have been amongst those leading the criticism whilst even Matthew Benham has noted this, if the ‘retweet’ below is to be taken at face value.

Matthew Benham remains undisputed king of twitter

Matthew Benham remains undisputed king of twitter

I can understand Steve Clarke wanting the best for his players from both a footballing and ‘health and safety’ perspective. Brentford will be in exactly the same boat and, having postponed one game already, will be doing everything possible to avoid a repeat of the problems we’ve previously seen.

Whilst Clarke is looking to get a delegation from the football league and a referee to view the pitch in advance, I’m pretty sure he’ll get his wish at the weekend, if nothing else. Andrew Madley, who is booked in to officiate at the weekend, will be the one who has to make the call as to whether the surface is playable or not during his pre-game inspection. I have no doubt we’ll have already be doing similar once repair works are finished on Wednesday.

Given the well publicised issues we’ve had and the fact that the Football League are fully aware of these, I can’t imagine this one going ahead if there is any element of doubt as to the integrity of the new Motz turf. Equally, one has to trust that the work which has been under way for a week already will be sufficient to provide an environment more fitting to a game of football rather than beach volleyball. If nothing else, I could do without all those cracks about Cardiff beach being cranked out again (well, maybe once more)

After Simon Moore, we've had enough of beaches to last a lifetime

After Simon Moore, we’ve had enough of beaches to last a lifetime

If Steve Clarke wants to publically voice his concerns in a psychological war of words that is likely going to impact his own side more than anybody else, then so be it. Football is a game of such finite margins that if he needs to being an additional element of doubt about his team’s ability to perform on our pitch then that’s fine by me.

I, genuinely, hope his concerns prove unfounded. For both Brentford and Reading. Ultimately, Griffin Park needs a surface that resembles a billiard table rather than a beach.

At the moment we haven’t got that so fairplay to the club for taking such drastic actions to remedy the situation. The eyes of the footballing world will be on us this weekend. Let’s hope we’ve got it right.

The pitch was 'cutting up' in our previous league game at Griffin Park

The pitch was ‘cutting up’ in our previous league game at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

A Long journey South as Bees capitulate at Turf Moor

23 Aug

Whilst Brentford may be anything from £6.5m – to £10m better off (depending on what you read) this weekend, points-wise we were left very much empty handed after going down 1-0 at Burnley. And it was a win, I’m afraid to say, that Burnley very much deserved from where I was sitting (the away stand at Turf Moor).

The action is about to begin at turf Moor - and doesn't more turf look great?

The action is about to begin at Turf Moor – and doesn’t more turf look great?

Being quite honest, one first half chance for Lasse Vibe aside, all the Andre Grays in the world would have made no real difference to Brentford. Don’t put this loss down to his absence. We were so obsessed with passing the ball backwards and sideways between the defence and goalkeeper, it is no wonder the stats showed such high pass completion or 62% possession.

Hanging on to the ball at the back is all well and good, and we did that part very well, but the lack of any imagination, movement, cut and/or thrust when we tried to take it forward was, ultimately, what did for us. At 0-0 away from home this works but having conceded such a simple goal from a set piece, where Philipp Hoffman failed to get his man, something needed to change. And it didn’t.

The introduction of Maxime Colin and switch of Alan McCormack to centre mid was certainly a start. The new right back has already won over plenty of fans based on his display and it was easy to see why. The problem is that it was too little, too late. Equally, Marinus almost had his hands tied given the sudden dearth of midfield options as a result of recent transfer activity and injury.

The style of football we were looking to play was just too static, too slow and bereft of any sense of urgency. Burnley hardly pushed us but then they had no need to. Being fair, up to the point of the Vibe chance, where he made a magnificent run onto a beautiful through ball from Kerschbaumer, we’d probably been the better of two cagey sides.

Certainly Marinus, in his interview with BBC Billy Reeves, deemed it our best passage of play since he has been here. But then Burnley scored from the simplest of set pieces and, with Brentford unable to step it up, the home side looked comfortable.

This was the sort of game crying out for a Sam Sanders, Jota or Moses to pick up the ball and run at this opposition. Our current run of form with injuries certainly hasn’t helped the cause, that’s for sure, but its no excuse. There were still plenty of good enough players out there but our obsession with sideways passing (something I thought had died with the departure of Jonathan Douglas) was what ultimately did for Brentford.

Positives included the debut of Max Colin (somebody whose name constantly puts me in mind of Christopher Walken’s character from Roger Moore’s final Bond effort, ‘A View to a Kill’) at right back and the ability to switch Alan Mac to centre mid. I thought Harlee and Tarks looked very solid at the back whilst the former added additional threat up top when we finally started to ‘go for it’ in the final five minutes. The pitch was immaculate whilst, points wise, we are in the same position after three games as we were last season.

Max Zorin - crowbarred excuse

Max Zorin – better placed at Turf…Moore ??

Those BBC stats also show we had 7(seven) shots, including 4 on target. There was Lasse’s chance, Alan Judge came close with a free kick and a slow-mo effort from The Hoff in the first half that almost fooled everybody except Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal. However, other than that I struggle to recall him being overly stretched.

Look. It wasn’t a great performance and I do have to wonder about the choice of tactics that seemed, for all the world, to be the mark of a side a side playing for a 0-0 or hoping to snatch something on the break. It’s a shame we didn’t have the courage to play more open football as the Kerschbaumer pass to Vibe showed how easily the opposition could be opened up, with the right movement.

Likewise a few more crosses, had Philipp Hoffman got into second gear to try and meet those that were delivered, would always have been welcome.

The flipside is that we are only three games into a new season and have both a new head coach and a new look squad. Our cause hasn’t been helped by horrendous bad luck when it comes to injury whilst, and you have to remember, Brentford don’t have a divine right to win every game.

Perhaps it is more a commentary on how far we have come and how quickly that we can be genuinely disappointed about losing a game in the Championship. To a team that were gracing the Premiership last season. It wasn’t so long ago that a trip up North was to the likes of Tranmere Rovers, who lost 0-2 at home to Boreham Wood in the conference yesterday, so some perspective is definitely needed.

Talking to Burnley fans before and after the game, word on the street is that the Bees were looking at a loan for Chris Long, as part of the deal that took Andre to Burnley. Interestingly, he played no part in proceedings yesterday and so one does have to wonder if there is any truth in that?

Brentford fans know just what he can do when the ball is in that final third of the field and Chris would be a great acquisition if we could get hold of him. But, equally, why would Burnley have bought the player in the first instance only to then immediately ‘get rid’?

Chris Long - could he be back again?

Chris Long – could he be back again?

Marinus, in the aforementioned interview with Billy, denied any definitive attempt so far to make a move on anybody but, equally, acknowledged that it was as position we need to cover. You can catch that in full, here.

Off field, those of us able to get back in time might have caught ‘Football League Tonight’ on Channel 5. With the show now in week three, the car crash that was the season opener seems an eternity ago as further changes were in evidence upon catching up with that today.

Only Adam Virgo and the awkward looking audience remain from those elements so heavily criticised in the season opener. Even the kebab shop poles that housed the 70’s style ‘league ladders’ have now been replaced by a 21st Century computer graphic showing the Championship table.

A compute graphic now replaces a kebab shop skewer

A compute graphic now replaces a kebab shop skewer

I understand that Channel 5 need to try and be different but, equally, they need to give the audience what they want. Well done for changing so much, so quickly.

They’ve made a decision to stick with the audience that hang around like a bunch of spare parts and so I can only imagine that is here to stay. You know what? I kind of like that aspect now. It still isn’t up to the package put together by Sky but for ‘terrestrial’ viewers, Kelly Cates and George Riley are starting to steam up the blind side.

Let’s hope Brentford can do the same thing next time out at home to Reading.

And as a side note, anybody wanting another, very interesting, insight on the Andre Gray transfer and cost would do well to check out Billy The Bee’s latest Beesotted article. It makes for an intriguing read…

Billy The Bee - Mr Grant asking the right questions, as ever

Billy The Bee – Mr Grant has a great take on events

Nick Bruzon

As Burnley await Brentford and Andre Gray, is this a gamble from Matthew?

22 Aug

The inevitable has finally happened. After weeks of speculation linking Andre Gray with Hull and an unsuccessful £9 million bid from Bristol City, Burnley met both the asking price and the striker’s aspirations to secure a deal that sees Brentford smash their inward transfer record by a country mile.

Whilst, officially, ‘undisclosed’ it is a fee that is universally reckoned to be 3 Lewis Grabbans (or, at current prices, the equivalent of 9 Will Griggs). One would go crazy trying to extrapolate that outwards to the equivalent in Proschwitzs.

Gray is now a Claret. But surely that should be a 7 (seven) ?

Gray is now a Claret. But surely that should be a 7 (seven) ?

This isn’t the doom and gloom that you’d believe from looking at social media following the news. For starters, the sort of money being talked about is incredibly hard to resist. Nine. Million. Pounds!! An 18x increase on what we paid just over a year ago.

Burnley have been unable to complete the paperwork in time so Andre will have to sit this one out from the stands whilst, for the Bees, it means our choice of strikers still includes full Danish international Lasse Vibe and German U-21 Philipp Hofmann. These are players of proven quality and hardly the equivalent of being left with the aforementioned Proschwitz.

Tom Moore - still showing the love for Dougie on this Twitter profile pic

Tom Moore – still showing the love for Dougie on his Twitter profile pic

Besides, as West London’s premier journalist Tom Moore has written in his own take on this news, “The Bees may yet be better off, if they are able to secure the replacements they want at the club…

Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen are intelligent people and will have been working on replacements all summer, in the expectation Gray would go.”

An obvious statement, perhaps, but a very true one. Whilst the price tag was a massive inducement to sell, it is still a decision that will have been considered on myriad other levels. Like Tom, I have no doubt the club have targets in mind and we’ve already seen a few names bandied about in the prelude to the sale being confirmed.

If nothing else, the speculation is finally over. We can now move on, knowing who makes up a squad that has, don’t forget, still seen more come in than go out over the last few months.

Let’s be clear – I would have loved to see Andre stay. He has already hit the ground running this season and will no doubt have every success at Burnley. But he has gone. All the wailing and gnashing of teeth from Brentford fans won’t change a thing.

For sure, Matthew Benham has taken an on-field gamble in allowing a proven goal scorer to leave, but getting overly upset about this pays a tremendous disrespect to both the rest of this team and his own, longer term, plans. Keeping his cards close to his chest is something that Matthew has done exceedingly well over the last few seasons as, time and again, we’ve been caught cold by his and the club’s transfer plans.

As a fan since 1979, Matthew will be well aware of our own history and what happens when you replace a Dean Holdsworth with a Murray Jones. Indeed, we’ve already scored six goals in two league games this campaign and, whilst two have come from Andre, the rest were very much shared around with Tarks, The Hoff, and an Alan Judge brace rounding things off.

On that note, yesterday saw good news with Alan credited a second against Bristol City after a meeting of the Dubious Goals Committee (a group whom I can only imagine meet in an oak paneled drawing room, quaffing brandy by a roaring log fire whilst sitting in leather wing-backed chairs). As the Irishman himself noted on Twitter afterward, “Nothing dubious about it clearly mine

The Judge gives his verdict

The Judge gives his own verdict

The other point of note was something suggested last night by one terrace wag who has asked if Brentford are adopting a policy of allowing somebody to join our next opponents?

Jonathan Douglas signed for Ipswich Town in time to tackle Jota and help concede two goals after he had entered the field of play with his new team in a seemingly unassailable position. Next up, the club agreed a fee with Bristol City at a time that Andre had been heavily linked with a side we would go on to beat 4-2 last weekend.

Then, the day before we are due to visit Burnley, we have completed the sale of the player who found the back of the net 18 times for Brentford last season. What next, Jack Bonham to Reading?

Andre will be missed, no doubt. I do also wonder if given his sharp, upward, career moves that Burnley fans could be saying the same thing in twelve months time? As he has already noted on his new club’s twitter feed, “Last season was a test for me, but that learning curve is why I’m at this club now”.

So there you go, cynics. It’s not all about the money. Burnley are the next rung on his career ladder. And if ever Brentford fans needed a motivation to get behind our team and show Andre which is the club on the up, then we’ve got the perfect one at 3pm on Saturday.

See you there.

Ande has the Last Word, for now

Andre has the Last Word, for now

Nick Bruzon