Tag Archives: New Road

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Where’s Billy when you need him?

1 Dec

Brentford head into Saturday’s game with Norwich City on the back of three successive defeats and only one win out of the last 8 games. That recent hat-trick of ’nil points’ against Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City has only intensified scrutiny on Dean Smith with supporters starting to ask where the next win is going to come from. This is probably not how Dean envisaged his one year anniversary at Griffin Park (which the club announced on Twitter yesterday) and so it will be very interesting to hear what the press ask him today.

Dean SMith and Mick

Dean Smith at the start of this season

Here’s hoping they ask some hard hitting questions, for once. Less money for old rope and more action would be nice. With the king of gentle probing Billy Reeves currently out of action until the end of the year, there’s been nobody to really step up and fill his boots in recent weeks.

Ahh, Billy. The deadly assassin. Practiced in the dark art of asking that killer ‘to the point’ question, albeit delivered in the most charming and almost apologetic of styles, I’d love to know what he would put to Dean at the moment in regards to the current run and his approach to the game with Norwich City. Can anybody pick up the gauntlet?

Billy and Uwe

So Uwe. Stevenage…..?

Nobody could pretend we’re not displaying anti-form at the moment, certainly result wise. Is it as simple as just needing that little twist of fate; for something to go our way? Certainly we had the lion’s share of possession and chances against Birmingham – just couldn’t quite put more than one of them away for well documented reasons. Or is it more down to his team selection and substitution strategy  – the later of which has seemed dreadfully late, reactive and decided using a roulette wheel in recent weeks?

Being more down to earth, are the team just finding their level in the Championship this season? We’ve been wonderful at times; awful at others. The table doesn’t lie and so he (and we) can have no complaints with 16th based on what we’ve seen. The questions are now – Dean, what are you going to do about it? When are we next going to win a game?

I saw a comment on Twitter last night in regards to the aforementioned one year anniversary. Official highlighted his win ratio and a reply was posted comparing him to previous managers.

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Whilst not strictly true – who could forget the Marinus experiment – further investigation via the medium of our most recent result records at Soccerbase.com has revealed this isn’t too far off the mark. Looking at managers who have been in charge over the last 10 calendar years – so starting with Martin Allen who left at the end of the 2005/06 season – the ranking for all those occupying in the Griffin Park hot seat, including caretakers  is as follows :

51.28%  Mark Warburton (41 wins out of 78 games)

50% Lee Carsley (5 out of 10)

43.79 % Uwe Rösler (60 out of 137)

43.55% Martin Allen (54 out of 124)

42.85% Nicky Forster (9 out of 21)

38.1% Andy Scott (64 out of 168)

36.73% Dean Smith (18 out of 49)

25% Barry Quinn (1 out of 4)

22.22 % Marinus Dijkhuizen (2 out of 9)

21.74% Terry Butcher (5 out of 23)

16.67% Scott Fitzgerald (4 out of 24)

13.04% Leroy Rosenior (3 out of 23)

0% Alan Kernaghan (0 out of 1)

So no surprises up at the top and one which will no doubt have many asking the eternal question – why? That’s been and done. Much like Jota, Stuart Dallas, Moses Odubajo, Andre Gray, James Tarkowski (well perhaps not) et al, crying over it isn’t going to bring him, or any former fan favourite back to Griffin Park . Is it?

Besides, I’m more interested in the ‘here and now’. Discussing the win ratios with one New Road observer last night, he has pointed out something which stacks up far more interestingly than overall career percentages. Recent form. Look at the result records in Marinus’ last 9 games and Dean’s most recent over the same period…..

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Marinus form

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Dean Smith form

Matthew Benham doesn’t strike me as the trigger happy sort so those calling for a change (there are some, apparently) would probably be better putting their energies elsewhere.  From what we’ve been told, the Marinus experiment ended because of more than just results. Yet at the same time those of us on the sidelines only have results to go on. And at present they aren’t great.

If Dean was ever going to give an invigorating press conference, then today would be a good day. If Brentford were ever going to get back to wining ways, then Saturday against a Norwich City team whose current form read: LLLLL, would be the perfect time.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Come on Dean – let’s see what you’ve got.

Come on you Beeeeesss!!

Nick Bruzon

 

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Bees snatch draw from the jaws of unlikely victory

28 Aug

That’s five games against Sheffield Wednesday since Brentford ascended to the Championship and still the Bees are to record anything more than a draw against the Owls. Yet we’ll never have a better chance than yesterday after entering injury time 1-0 up despite having spent huge swathes of the game under the cosh, survived wave after wave of pressure and seen some glaring misses.

With Wednesday fans already calling the police to report the proverbial robbery, Sam Hutchinson stole in to grab a late, late headed equaliser from an injury time free kick. On chances created by the visitors it was probably a deserved result but chances count for jack if you don’t put them away. Instead, it was Brentford who ended the game feeling bitter disappointment after coming so close to making it three wins from three games at Griffin Park with no goals conceded.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

 

 

manager uniforms

View from the New Road – the memo about managerial uniform had been received

 

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The second half saw us outmuscle our opponents more

 

Romaine and gantry sheff wed

View from the Braemar – the upgraded gantry now visible

On personal note, I’d also like to offer huge THANKS to all those involved at Brentford for their help in making sure my son had such a wonderful afternoon as team mascot. He was made nothing but welcome by everybody involved  – from Malcolm in the match-day team all the way through to Dean Smith, the players and even Wednesday mascot Lucy. It really was a wonderful treat and the attention of everybody showed yet again, as if any reminder were required, what a wonderful family club we have.

Sam Saunders has, I’m afraid to say, now been pushed into second place as his favourite player. It was 90 minutes of “Where’s Harlee?” and “Come on Harlee!” as our captain has now become his new number one.

Harlee – if you are reading (who knows?) then an extra big thanks from Harry and dad.

HB Harlee and Dan

The new defensive line up still needs work

Nick Bruzon

Italian has a new ‘that penalty’ as Roy draws a parallel.

3 Jul

How on earth do you follow Friday’s news? The story of Jake Bidwell jumping on the 237 from Brentford to QPR was more than surpassed by that incredible announcement of a Bees boss in triple transfer swoop. Sorry for repeating this line but I just love how we’ve finally pulled this most longed for of footballing curios out of the bag.

Like orange balls in the snow, goalkeepers scoring, outfield players having to go in goal, a sub subbed and the request to the crowd for a replacement ref, this is the sort of thing that normally resides in the back of the box marked ‘oddities’.

Actually, can I also add : visiting team forgetting their kit and having to play in the home side’s away strip. Although, personally, in those circumstances I’ve always though we should just adopt the old school ‘shirts v skins’ rule from gym class. Or was that just my school?

But I digress. The answer to the opening question being that you can’t. At least, on a Championship front. Even Brentford have more than overplayed their trump hand in fan satisfaction with that wonderful triumvirate of transfers. That said, two further points of note from Friday.

Firstly, that the players were photographed in two of the three standard poses. Bearing the ‘signing scarf’ aloft and then, later, sitting at a table in front of a blank sheet of paper. Sadly, there wasn’t to be an accidental reveal of the new home kit. Looks like we really will be kept waiting until mid-July for that one. Bob, if you are reading, please put us put of our misery.

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Romaine sports the signing scarf

And secondly, it seems our rivals have more than a passing interest in all things Griffin Park. Ten out of ten for value to those QPR fans who kindly visited these pages yesterday to leave us their thoughts on the Jake Bidwell article.

All I’ll say on that one is, “The table doesn’t lie. 12th, wasn’t it….“?

Instead, we are left to dwell on last night’s EURO 2016 action between Germany and Italy. A game which provided a further addition to the aforementioned list. Namely that of the penalty shoot out.

After further exhausting the players with a half hour of extra time, we were treated to as bad a display of penalty taking as you could ever hope to see. And it was brilliant.

With the Italians seemingly coached by Diana Ross, I was half expecting Marcello Trotta to come off the bench at one point. Instead, we got Simone Zaza dancing up to the penalty spot. Shuffling awkwardly like a giraffe with diahorrea trying to hold it in before hoofing it miles over the bar, Tarkowski style. That he had been brought on seconds before extra time ended for this one, specific, job made it all the more tragic.

But he wasn’t alone. The normally infallible Germans failed. Twice. This, before normality resumed and players from both sides began tucking them away for fun. In the end it was, of course, Germany who went through. Penalties. Come on. We all know what happens there and, sure enough, form told.

It was an utterly compelling end to a hard fought game and for all the wrong reasons. Or, as a neutral, for all the right reasons. Because that’s all most of us were last night. England’s capitulation still seems as raw now as it did on Monday night whilst Gibraltar didn’t even make it out of the qualifying group to reach France.

With Wales (and belated congratulations there) achieving a first ever semi, it only makes you realise even more what England missed out on. Oh for the chance to have even been able to think about cocking up penalties.

Instead, its not even a case of ‘what might have been’ and more one of ‘how on earth did Roy get it so wrong’?

Talking about this last night to one New Road observer, the conversation got on to how well England would have fared had Marinus Dijkhuizen been in charge. Of course, that’s just conjecture but win, lose or draw the one thing you can say is that at least we’d have got some straight answers after the games. Marinus certainly liked to tell it how it was, unlike Roy whose pre-prepared resignation speech was followed the next day with an opening gambit of “I really don’t know what I’m doing here”.

Which then immediately drew another Bees related parallel. With thanks to supporter Antonio Bergasse (and his moment of the season)….

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Nick Bruzon

As Tarka’s the Rotter is it adios to Jota and Toums?

16 Jan

The morning after the night before. Burnley have still beaten Brentford 3-1 after playing us not so much off the park but into next week during the most shambolic first half I can recall in some time. The second half remains one of top- drawer excitement and a hugely enjoyable atmosphere as Alan Judge and the boys began an improbable fight back that, in the end, wasn’t to be. And, having slept on it, words to describe James Tarkowski’s actions still fail me.

I wrote a column when I got home last night to describe my thoughts on the player and the situation. It was an angry one – although not quite up to the recent FCM piece – and it’s here if you want to read it. In the cold light of day, has anything changed? No, with the exception of fellow central defender Andreas Bjelland.

Just to clear up any potential confusion, I can only apologise if anybody feels that the weak pun in the headline was a sleight at him. Andreas has suffered a horrendous injury and James is one of the players we’re looking to help in his place at centre back. Personally I felt a bad pun, that fitted the scenario, would be the best way of conveying what most of us are probably thinking. I could have gone much stronger but, then again, writing at 1am following an emotional night has probably impaired that decision ! Certainly one that would have been written differently with a bit more consideration.

Having given it some thought over night, my over riding feeling is one of being tremendously let down. Alan Judge and Toumani Diagouraga have both been the subject of high profile bids – in the case of the former from Burnley themselves – yet both continue to give their all for the Bees. Indeed, Toumani may well have played his last game if the gift he gave one supporter is any sort of indication. ..

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One train passenger got more than he bargained for

Yet neither player has stooped to this level. There’s nothing much you can really say on the matter. We’d all love Matthew Benham to hold out on selling him but, sadly, the financial demands of Championship football and FFP rules means it will be unlikely we can afford to leave a wheelbarrow full of cash on the training pitch. I’d love to be proved wrong on that front and hope , for once, principals would triumph. However, given that, barring a miracle, Tarks has played his last game for Brentford can we afford not to sell him just to prove a point ?

What a sad end to a great Griffin Park career. From hero to zero in the space of a day.

The other hero who sounds as though he has played his last game at Griffin Park for some time is Jota. Reports doing pretty much all the rounds suggest that he is on his way back to Spain to play for Eibar on an 18 month loan.

Certainly, Dean Smith has alluded to the hugely popular player having some personal issues at the moment and so, whilst this would be a huge loss for Brentford if confirmed, we can only wish him the very best. Of course, we all hold out hope of seeing him in a Bees shirt once more but I fear the worst.

Jota 3

It looks unlikely to be Jota in the 90th minute any more

So what else did we learn from last night?

Well, despite popularity levels on a par with James Tarkowski (at least, amongst the Brentford faithful) Joey Barton can take a mean free kick. If Burnley’s opening goal, curled in from 25 yards by Scott Arfield was a stunner, this wasn’t too far behind Whilst it hurts to say anything nice about the former Loftus Road man and outspoken numpty, you can’t deny the technique used in his strike. Fair play to the Turf Moor dead ball coach.

Sam Saunders ran his heart out, as did Alan Judge. One good thing to come out of the last week might just be the renaissance of the ever popular wing wizard (some would argue it had never gone). I’m sure he’ll get another run out at Preston next week – and no bad thing.

Brentford are still struggling to score goals. We’ve managed just 4 in 6 games whilst Dean Smith can’t seem to buy a win (not literally, that would be a breach of regulations). The Bees are still in a great position, moreso given the start to the campaign, but I really hope the rest of the campaign doesn’t fizzle out into a fug of gloom and nonchalance as we slither down the table.

Yet when this team do play, they still look stunning. Talking to one New Road observer in the pub afterwards, she noted how the first half had seen us play like a team that would struggle to even complete a dot to dot, let alone a pass to each other. The flipside being that the second period saw us turn it on for one of the most exciting periods of play we’ve seen in a long while.

And finally, Burnley ‘keeper Tom Heaton. Or, more specifically, his buttocks. “Stunning” was the politest of many references to a player that one terrace wag described as “The Kim Kardashian of the 18 yard box”. Truly, a rotund derriere that was the butt of many jokes from the Ealing Road.

On a night where Tarky was talking out of his backside, let’s just hope we can put all this business behind us.

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Nick Bruzon

Plus ça change – new coach; same result

29 Sep

Wow. What can you, actually, say after that? Birmingham City ran out 2-0 winners over a Brentford team beginning their first game under new head coach Lee Carsley. However, it was the anti-performance rather than the scoreline that will stick long in the minds of most home supporters.

Let’s be clear. I hate to sound negative about our team. I’ve supported them through thick and thin for over thirty years but that was terrible. Save for Alan Judge hitting the crossbar late on, and Lasse Vibe shooting straight at Blues’ goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, there were no real chances. But it wasn’t even the lack of attempts on goal that grated but more the general lack of attacking intent or motivation.

A twenty-minute spell in the first half aside, Brentford were non-existent and grew visibly more abject as the game progressed. At least under Marinus we picked up the pace late into games; this was the opposite.

The longer the game went on the more heads dropped. Sideways pass followed sideways pass followed backwards pass – think Jonathan Douglas at his most negative. There was no penetration or cohesion as optimistic balls forward were easily snaffled up by the Blues defence

That said, as at the weekend we conceded in the 90th minute – so there is some consistency. “Not quite as sh*t as Saturday” was the view of one New Road wag after the game. I’d disagree – I thought we were dreadful. Even Lee Carsley would later tell Billy Reeves that, “We went passive with our passing which suited them”.

With a new head coach and a chance for a new start, we’ve stalled in the blocks. Things weren’t always great under Marinus but at least we were starting to see them coming together. The draw at Leeds and victory over Preston were followed by the late defeat against Sheffield Wednesday where, perhaps, we might have snatched all three points but ended up getting stung at the death. This looked like a step backward.

As I’ve said before, we don’t have a divine right to ‘be any good’. I can accept defeat – especially if we look like we want to try for the win. But tonight we were definitely second best against a Birmingham City team who, if I’m being honest, were no great shakes themselves. But you can only beat who you are up against and they did just that.

For the ninth time in ten games we fell behind aswell as, just like on Saturday against Sheffield Wednesday, conceding in the last minute – plus ça change.

Positives? I’m struggling to find some. The half time marriage proposal from Buzz Bee (my nominee for man of the match) was the only real highlight. Our mascot’s costume being donned for one supporter to go down on bended knee, before taking the mic to ‘pop the question’.

Doing this in front of almost 10.000 fans whilst dressed as a headless, anthropomorphic bee is surely a moment never to be forgotten. It’s a shame we can’t say the same about the rest of the evening .

Nick Bruzon

Will Liverpool loanee feature for straight talking Marinus?

12 Sep

Brentford visit Leeds United today as part of a three day stint up North that will also see them based in the area until returning home following the game at Middlesbrough on Tuesday. After being deprived of domestic football for what seems like an eternity, thanks to the International calendar, things are now back with a bang as we get the chance to see the new look Bees squad in action.

It is a chance that I am desperate for. There is a very honest article on the club website with Marinus where even ‘official’ Brentford describe the start to the season as ‘turbulent’. I’ve made no secret on these pages as to how much I admire his straight talking and this interview is no different.

Admitting to learning more in the past two months than the previous four years, Marinus also notes, “It can be like a new beginning….“The squad is clear, we know who is in and who is out. The past few months – with not knowing who was leaving and coming in – has been difficult but now everyone knows who is in the squad and who they will compete with.”

It is that point which has been of particular resonance to all of us. Whilst, clearly, there has been some upset at the likes of Stuart Dallas (Leeds), Moses Odubajo (Hull) and Andre Gray (Burnley) all leaving, the additional injuries to the like of Jota, Bjelland and McEachran have given the squad an unexpected makeover. And not for the best.

But with several new additions and players returning to fitness, the head coach knows who he has to play with. The really interesting thing will now be who he picks to face Leeds Untied and what he does with them. I’m not even going to start trying to name the team for this one. Will Ryan Woods start? Could Liverpool loanee Sergi Canos put in an appearance? Just how good could Marco Djuricin be? Or will Marinus leave the initial tinkering to a minimum?

Could Sergi Canos be wearing a Brentford FC shirt today?

Could Sergi Canos be wearing a Brentford FC shirt today?

I don’t envy Marinus the problems he has been hit with at the start of this season. It has been a baptism of fire although, after what seems like months ago since the opening game 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town, we are only four games into the league campaign.

There’s an awful long way to go and with four points so far, the Bees have all the potential to start moving up the table. Supporter Rob Young, a guest contributor today, gives a much more eloquent take on this subject and I’d thoroughly recommend a read. I’ve kept my own thoughts a lot briefer so as not to steal his thunder.

Like Brentford, Leeds United also had four points from their first four games, until an excellent win at last season’s high fliers Derby County last time out saw them hit the magical 7(seven) marker. They’ll be ferocious opponents today and, no doubt, keen to avoid the double defeat inflicted on them by the Bees last season.

Uwe will, of course, have personal pride at stake here and with the Elland Road outfit seeming much more settled, the only thing I will predict is a much tougher challenge ahead of us today.

Back home, the spruce up of Griffin Park mentioned in yesterday’s article continues. The good news is that the Braemar Road forecourt does, indeed, seem to be incorporating the return of red and white stripes. This is great news for us traditionalists / older fans who recall these with fondness from back in the day.

Now, if Mr Benham could go the whole ‘retro’ hog and also give us a giant Castle badge or perhaps even a Funky Bee….

Griffin Park paint job - day 2. Is this the return of Stripes?

Griffin Park paint job – day 2. Is this the return of Stripes?

Nick Bruzon

Brentford and Marinus – a supporter’s view of the season so far

12 Sep

Ahead of Brentford taking on Leeds United today, I was contacted by supporter Rob Young who has asked if he could share his own thoughts on the season so far. It’s fair to say that Brentford have had a hectic start to the campaign. The departure of Mark Warburton to Glasgow Rangers meant Marinus was on a hiding to nothing from some quarters before before he even joined. And then we had pitch gate. And injuries.

I’m always keen to hear other perspectives and, I have to say, Rob has put into words his feelings an awful lot better than I could hope to ever achieve.

Rob – over to you. Brentford, Marinus, the supporters, transfers et al…..

Firstly many thanks to Nick for allowing me to air my thoughts on the tempestuous start to the season.

I was hoping the dust would have settled a little since the Reading defeat and the influx of 3 new players at the end of the transfer window (and none leaving) may have ‘cooled’ the fervent negativity within our fan base. But reviewing the dreaded social media its seems the two week gap has done little to dampen the plethora of frustrations, anger and derision of the owner, management, coach and players. We are very much a bunch of fans in flux at the moment – bit like Stormont in Northern Ireland. Yes we have two tough games ahead and if we get one point from six I will be happy, but I guess many more will want a lynching if that is the end result.

I genuinely feel for Marnius, new job, new challenge and having to tread in the footsteps of one of the most liked, most successful and best managers our club has ever had. How he must have wished and dreamed for a solid start to win the hearts and minds of the loyal faithful. Only for fate and the power of cash rich Clubs see the backbone of his team ripped from under him. He must have, like many of us do, have had the perfect team in his head, dreaming of them doing the business on the pitch.

He would likely have planned a team built with one of the best Championship keepers in Button, the experienced Bjelland in front, and then Josh McEachran running midfield, Jota doing what he does best out wide and Andre Gray providing the spearhead.

View from the stands: Jota appeared against Ipswich and was then injured

View from the stands: Jota appeared against Ipswich and was then injured

To lose 3 of those to injury and one heading for the ‘out’ door after the first league game must have been a real kick in the teeth. Last season we were blessed with good fortune on the injury front. Yes, we lost Scott Hogan, but by and large we managed to keep the best players fit and on the field which played a huge part in our success.

Luck plays a huge part in success or failure, on the injury front Warbs got lucky, Marinus has not. Add Moses up and going and what Marinus had hoped to be his strongest XI was decimated through no fault of his own. No wonder he looks a somewhat forlorn figure on the side lines. Poor man must wonder what the hell he has let himself in for or what he did wrong in a past life.

I wanted to comment on something Nick did mention in one of his posts about Marinus and his body language. I have a lot of experience of working alongside Dutch people. They, like many different nationalities, have a lot of different traits to us. I also worked in Finland where I found out you were often presented with a stony silence during meetings and presentations, I thought I had crashed and burnt, it took me time to realize this was actually a good thing, they would speak only when unhappy. I have found the Dutch very friendly and passionate people, they can also be very arrogant, stubborn and straight talking but will show this usually on when on the edge. The remaining time they can be reserved and calm externally but fuming inside.

Marinus can come across as a solitary figure on match day

Marinus can come across as a solitary figure on match day

Like Warbs was different to Uwe, Marinus is different to Warbs. Different people, different traits. I recall it was usually David Weir laying into the officials and not Warbs, now I notice its Marinus who sounds off to the officials. Warbs drove his team from the side, Marinus takes a more statuesque role – that’s his way. Warbs liked a suit, Marinus is a clear tracksuit man. I don’t think he doesn’t care about what’s going on the pitch, he just has his own way of dealing with it, possibly that is in the dressing room. The fact he is not screaming and gesticulating shouldn’t be taken as a weakness, I think we just have to adjust to a man from a different culture which can be seen as laid back but is a likely as passionate and caring as he can be in his own way.

It’s only natural that people will compare Marinus to Warbs and how we play now to how we played last season. But this is now and not then. Let’s be honest against Reading we could have been 4 or 5 down at half time. But that happened last season as well. We rode our luck big time last season. How many times did we hear the ‘we’ll learn from it’ comment from Warbs.

I recall some saying ‘yes but when will we learn’. Don’t get me wrong I loved the way we played last season, but I also remember the howls of anguish of how risky we were playing out from the back, how open we were at times in our play. My good friend an Ipswich Town ST holder commented that we were a side with suicidal tendencies.

As we often saw if we didn’t score first we struggled to break teams down. Our strength was the counter attack as teams pushed to recover from being behind to us. High tempo, close passing, pass and move. It was wonderful but it all hinged on taking our chances because we were just as likely to ship two or three ourselves. Teams that did their homework knew how to spoil our game and we all know what Warbs approach to ‘plan B’ was.

Had Warbs stayed would he have changed our style this season? Would teams now we are in the second season syndrome know exactly what to expect and nullified our slick passing game? I didn’t want Warbs to go, I liked him – I liked him a lot, I would have liked him to take a chance on the owner’s new approach but that wasn’t ever going to happen. He moved on and so must we. But let’s give the new man some credit, he will change formation, he will make the substitution we may not expect, he does have a plan B and C.

Warbs - had success, even if no Plan B, at Griffin Park

Warbs – had success, even if no Plan B, at Griffin Park

We all know Warbs view was the ‘on the hour sub’, and usually always the same 3 subs. Marinus has had to juggle his pack given the limited resources to hand and until he has a full complement of resources how can we be sure of what he can do with them. No one wanted this start to the season, but given all that has happened how can we panic so soon until the team is again at the strength that was planned? Was our expectation too high from too many who have only known success of the last 3 years?

I hear the voices of those who have concerns but some of these fans have only known good times over the last 6 years or so, some even less than that. They crave instant gratification and expect we now have a divine right to be top of the league marching to the Promised Land because we came 5th, so now is our turn for automatic promotion! Maybe the disquiet comes amongst the ranks because we expected to keep every member of the squad and only add even better players to that squad.

Life and football, unfortunately is not like that, sometime you have to go back to go forward. Many of us remember the times of 4000-5000 attendances and the dodgy signings and dodgy managers and false hope and promises. We are a million miles from where we were then. Even at this current state of flux we are better off and we must never forget that or how and who got us here.

I heard people say Reading were a ‘poor side’ – I actually felt they were a lot better than last season, stronger at the back, quicker and slicker up front, they signed 11 players changed their squad and are unbeaten. They struggled last season, but so did Brighton and look at them now. We have to accept other teams will improve from last year and others will do worse it’s the nature of the Championship the toughest league to get out of. Just because we have not hit out straps from the start does not mean we are going to do a Blackpool. What right do we have after a mere 1 season and 4 games to be top?

Reading  - terrible kit; good team

Reading – terrible kit; good team

We need to allow the new team, players and management alike, to get to grips to the challenge ahead they are not blind to what needs to be done and we have to stop thinking about last year and stop thinking we are a slippery slope to disaster because we have not started like a train. I am a pessimist and even I believe the glass is half full.

The way some seem to see it the pub is dry let alone the glass! We were going to strengthen this season no matter what but I was always clear in my mind this would be a year of consolidation on our goal to long term sustainability. I would have settled for staying up last year, and would do the same this year as we rebuild. I feel the pain too readily of the last relegation at this level and I don’t want to feel it again. But those times were under a different leadership, different perspective and with a different end game.

Yes we should be aiming as high as possible and never accepting second best, aiming to be better year on year but we also need to do that in a measured way. We over achieved last year in my view, only the fate of others in the last weeks got us into the play offs and it hurts me to say but we were not good enough to go up. I forecasted openly before the end of the season that 5 or 6 players would leave (not including the obvious loan and 1 year contract boys).

I was right on a couple of names in Tony Craig and Dougie but didn’t foresee some of other players going, but was pragmatic enough to know we were never going to keep everyone and it was likely some big assets would be amongst those to move on. Berating the owner and club for the fact some on the team have moved on is nonsensical. Do people really believe Mr. Benham would invest in everything he has done so far just to reap the rewards in the transfer market? People need to understand the current stupidity of the English transfer market which dictates why you have to look at foreign players with lower cost implications for the next rising talent.

Selling Andre was a no brainer at 9 million for me, he could have been the next injury victim and then where would we have been? Look at B’muff, 8 million for Tyrone Mings, now he is out all season, Ipswich are the ones who truly benefited and got a good replacement for minimal outlay. We also need to be clear and understand as supporters that as much as we have great loyalty to our club the likes of Kevin O’Connor are a thing of the past now – players will do what’s right for them and their future in what is a short career. We always say once a Bee always a Bee – but can Moses (or even Andre) ever truly have a level of loyalty after just one season.

Personally I am relatively happy with the influx of new players – ok they may not be all home grown, but go review most Championship sides and you will find plenty of non-home grown players in their squads. We have to find the next ‘star’ by looking outside of these shores due to the costs demanded of quality English players, it is about finding that ‘star’ before someone else does. I like the current new boys, I believe they all have something to offer and once they have settled I am sure things will click and players who are being berated currently will ultimately prove to be of great benefit.

Some may not make it we have to accept that but plenty will. It was interesting to see much being made of the signing of Ryan Woods – “at last an English player” was one comment I saw. I retorted that as long as he can do the job, gives 100% and wears the shirt with pride does his nationality matter? It was mentioned back to me the importance of an Englishman who knew the nature of our game…and who speaks the language. I have no doubt Ryan is an excellent signing, I am excited about him joining but the lad no matter how good he is has league 1 and 2 experience to date, the pace of Championship football is vastly different as those who have come from overseas are finding. I just hope we are not thrusting too much expectation from day one because he is English.

Ryan Woods  - now a Bee, regardless of nationality

Ryan Woods – now a Bee, regardless of nationality

The comment about the pace of the Championship and someone speaking English was I thought interesting. I made an assumption that the correspondent was openly taking a pop at KK – who to be fair has loads of energy but still needs to find his feet. I have seen enough to think he will make the grade. But let’s also be honest and say he was surely going to be a backup midfielder to McEachran. If KK was the player being targeted to be replaced by our English style midfielder let’s not forget Toums was at the heart of the team versus Reading, someone to has played in England for many seasons with plenty of experience of both Championship and League 1, who speaks English perfectly yet was totally off the pace and looked out of his depth.

I think Toums has looked a shadow of the player he was last season, someone commented to me he was back to his pre-Portsmouth loan form, I had to agree. Some said he was missing Dougie, to me he looks to have lost confidence and his composure on the ball – can this be because Douglas has gone, if so I think that a weak excuse, he should be stepping up and being the most experienced on the pitch taking the lead. I thought his removal was the right thing to do, too often he was in no man’s land and Macca gave us a better bite and tenacity.

Talking of Dougie, and I know there are many who point to a void now he has gone, I refer back to my Ipswich Town friend, who has now watched all the games in which he has played for his new club – his view was “what exactly does he do, beyond being slow” – the ground swell is there is Jay Tabb is losing out to Dougie and some locals are not happy!

No one in their right mind can feel happy with the way things have panned out that’s for sure, and that surely includes Matthew Benham and the management of the club. Football as we all know is about opinions and it is everyone’s right to voice their view how they feel they wish. I can remember many years back feeling the wroth of those who stood around me on the New Road terrace (as it was then) as we disagreed with tactics, players and the management of the time. So much so that in the end I chose to view home matches from elsewhere, in the process losing touch with many I had shared space with week in week out for many years. We were each entitled to our views but did it really change anything?

Older and wiser I know now the only thing divided support does is, especially in a small ground such as ours, is transmit the divided views and nervousness of the support or lack of it on to the pitch and to the players. Many have quite rightly voiced their frustrations and anger over the performance against Reading – which needs no further elaboration on.

However the excellent overview from the chairman and the calls from Skipper Jake Bidwell for unity along with the comments from Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen all surely need to be heeded. Much was made last season about the atmosphere at Griffin Park and how it helped the players. This I feel has been sadly missing in both our home league games, split opinions of the fans can only be prevent this atmosphere from being generated. Fans are turning on fans, many are quick to damn the new players, the coach, management and owner.

I stood in the hive having a beer over hearing so much negative clap trap I wondered if this was possibly the same club as last year. Had we transferred in moaning fans from another west London club? Yes, we are all entitled to an opinion but for heaven’s sake this is really achieving nothing, when it’s not running your way the team need us to lift them. Negativity spreads and it’s spreading throughout the club like a virus. I’ll be honest my days amongst the singing section are long past, but when we are up against it, no matter how bad we have played I believe those playing for the club need our undivided support from all sides, no matter how we chose to deliver it.

Now is the time for us to remember where we have come from in such a short period, and that this is about the longer sustainability for our club. We could go the QPR route and break the rules and throw good money after bad. Or we can follow a different path and try and find a different route to success within our means. Then again we could lose our benefactor and slowly slip into the abyss of the lower leagues and go backwards again. I don’t know him but I am pretty sure I know which way Matthew wants to take us and for that I give him, the management, Marinus and our squad my faith and belief that they will do everything possible without risking our club’s future to deliver that success we all desire.

C’mon you Bees!

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

Who sanctioned this? And more shirt news

15 Jul

So distracted had I been by Rio Ferdinand’s Roger Moore tribute show yesterday that I forgot to mention the other salient Brentford and World Cup news from Sunday. Firstly, Gary Lineker’s awkward ‘reveal’ of the trailer for the new series of Doctor Who was the straw that finally pushed me to ITV.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a quick spin in the Tardis but the almost embarrassed segue from half time analysis in a, supposedly advert free show, killed the mood of the game stone dead whilst, at the same time, setting my more geekish tendencies into an elevated state of nerdery.

It was an unnecessary distraction that just pushed me to the light channel. If we were going to get adverts and hideous monsters, then I may aswell just go for the full Adrian Chiles experience.

From Rio Ferdinand’s jacket to this….

 

From a Brentford perspective, there were also more snippets of shirt news lurking out there in cyberspace – a preview much more welcome than a face full of daleks. A quick trawl of twitter will help you locate these but I’m very pleased to hear that the castle badge will return in some form on merchandise in the club shop.

More importantly, it seems the club are looking at one part of the 125th anniversary celebrations being a game with some commemorative wording added to the badge on our new shirt. With the potential for some of these to be on sale, too, I can already hear Mrs. Bruzon hiding my wallet .

It did also get me thinking about what is the correct protocol for this sort of commemorative wording? Around the club badge in a circular pattern or horizontally – whether underneath it or more centrally?

Commemorative wording - generally spells tears

Commemorative wording – generally spells tears

My own preference is for the horizontal – under the club badge. I’m not an owl and so, bereft of the ability to rotate my head through 360 degrees (or whatever it is they can do) struggle to read the circular text.

Does it matter? Probably not. I’ll still buy one if the possibility arises but I just know what I prefer – whatever the rules are on this sort of thing.

‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’ (The story of Brentford’s 2013/14 promotion campaign, amongst other football related chatter) – is now available as a digital book. Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from last season, and some new content, you can download it here for your kindle / digital device.

Rio? Roger? Changes at Griffin Park?

14 Jul

Is Rio Ferdinand swapping Manchester United for a new role at Easyjet? Or perhaps a Royal Navy commander? Given the commentary on social media last night, he might even have found time to fly Brentford back from the Florida training camp.

The World Cup ended with a win for Germany and the BBC panelist attracting as much interest in his suit as his punditry. Twitter was awash with comments about one of the most talked about bits of fashion since Liverpool rocked the ‘Man from Del Monte’ look at the 1996 FA Cup final.

These are all over the internet now (my own effort below) with, surprisingly, former England captain Michael Vaughan being amongst the chief protagonists.

Flying home from Rio?

Flying home from Rio?

However, despite all the gentle ribbing pointed at Rio he’s actually in great company. It is universally accepted that Roger Moore is, hands down, the best man to ever fill the role of James Bond. Indeed, much of the classic Moonraker saw 007 based in Rio de Janeiro where, of course, last night’s final took place.

As such, it was some what fitting that the best of the observations about Ferdinand’s jacket was not an airline related gag but one that showed what esteemed company he is in. Nobody can carry off a safari suit/blazer/polo neck like Roger and so the mantra must have been, “If you can’t beat them, join them”.

The name's Ferdinand. Rio Ferdinand

The name’s Ferdinand. Rio Ferdinand

Back in TW8, a stroll past Griffin Park at the weekend revealed two things.

Firstly, we remain none the wiser as to who the roof sponsor will be on the New Road. A peek through the gap in the fence by the ticket office reveals this to be still covered in undercoat. Despite our proximity to Heathrow, there’s been no sign of Rio up a ladder with a few tins of the budget airline’s trademark orange paint.

And then looking into the turnstile, there is a mysterious object lurking under a clubshop plastic bag. The same thing appears in each one and so I can only presume this is the much anticipated ‘electronic ticketing system’.

20140712_191948

What’s under the bag?

 

Not quite up there on the ’shirt’ reveal but when things are this quiet, I’ll clutch at any straw of Brentford related news.

Roll on the pre-season friendlies. Please.

‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’ (The story of Brentford’s 2013/14 promotion campaign, amongst other football related chatter) – is now available as a digital book. Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from last season, and some new content, you can download it here for your kindle / digital device.