Tag Archives: Newcastle United

Christian Eriksen. Tottenham return rumours latest.

17 Apr

There’s no doubting the phenomenal difference made to Brentford since Christian Eriksen returned to the Premier League. The five games he has started has seen the bees pick up 15 points from five games. Thirteen goals scored and only three against. Watford the latest to fall victim to his wonderful talents (unless there’s another reason for that run of form……….). Newcastle United and Tottenham the latest clubs being linked to his signature once the six month deal signed with the Bees expires in the summer.

Christian helped destroy Chelsea the other week

Not surprisingly, as the Premier League heads towards a fascinating climax his name is at the top of the list for those clubs looking to make an early start on next season’s business. Tottenham have been linked all weekend. Monday through Friday it was Newcastle United. Obvious, of course. The former club is an easy ‘story’. The nouveau riche, with their morally dubious cheque book, able to throw whatever they want. Should they want to.

The latest doing the rounds suggesting that Brentford have already agreed a deal that will see Eriksen sit out Saturday evening’s game with Tottenham. Well, here’s the update. Here’s the answer. Here’s the take on things from our source close to the club.

It’s bullish*t. All of it. Nothing more than click bait. Click bait. Click bait. Nobody knows a damn thing. Brentford have always been three steps ahead of just about everybody when it comes to talent acquisition. Anybody thinking Eriksen is already looking to the North East / North London needs to revaluate their gossip sources.

With Brentford pushing for the top ten of the premier league, the most obvious choice of his club is staring us all in the face. He’s universally loved at Lionel Road. Has the support network of friends and international team mates. Has history with Thomas Frank. Has a club who were prepared to take the chance. And boy has it paid off. Yesterday’s game at Watford seeing another entry on the top five performer’s board .

Eriksen to Spurs? To Newcastle? To Fulham? (why join a Championship club?) All being well his future lies at Lionel Road. However, we won’t know for sure until the summer. You can bet your bottom dollar nothing is even close to being decided now. Regardless of what clickbait you may read.

Now, if Pontus would like to lend him a biro of course…..

If its good enough for Pontus…..

Nick Bruzon

The points needed to survive. The three teams going down.

6 Apr

You couldn’t have scripted it. With Brentford trashing Chelsea 4-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, those clubs at the bottom of the table hoping the Bees might be sucked into the relegation shake up have been dealt a brutal body blow. Not that we’re talking up that prospect on these pages – as the regular reader will know, top ten is still the target. Yet for Leeds United, Norwich City, Everton, Burnley, Watford and Newcastle (aka the bottom six) going down is still a very real prospect. The big question on everybody’s lips being – who survives?

The current bottom 6 + Brentford

I love this time of year. Everyone seems to be in possession of a supercomputer capable of predicting the results of the final games. Of seeing where each club may pick up points or where they may stumble.

We’re no different here and ahead of this evening’s game between Burnley and Everton at Turf Moor have run the numbers to see who will be playing Championship football next season. Now, the results are in.

A supercomputer, yesterday

First up, the good news for anybody anxious about Brentford. Looking at the current table, only one more point is needed to keep us safe. Whilst we haven’t run the full range of Bees’ games, those where we will encounter a bottom six club (Watford, Everton and Leeds United) have been included  and they see another 7(seven ) points added to the total. A win in Watford, a draw at Everton and then final game defeat of Leeds United. The level to which they fall apart could even have a determining outcome on the final place in our bottom three.

Norwich City are, sadly, doomed. They are currently bottom on 18 points and will only pick up 3 more. A last game of the season defeat of Spurs, because, you know – go out in style. Too little, too late to aid the survival battle but enough to ruffle some feathers.

After that, though, things get interesting. Newcastle United will finish highest of the 6 teams scraping for survival. Another 8 points added to their current 31 takes them up to 39. They’ve lost three on the bounce at present but what looks on paper to be a relatively gentle run in (a three game sequence against the Champions League contenders aside) should see them pick up enough to guarantee another season of top flight football.

Watford are also home. Of the bottom 6, they’ll pick up the most points from their remaining fixtures. 13 points, including crucial defats of relegation rivals Leeds United, Burnley and Everton will see them end the season in 16th place on 35.

So we’ve three more clubs looking at two relegation spots. Everton, Burnley and Leeds United.

The Frank Lampard effect won’t be enough to save Everton. Their form is abysmal. Their run in too tough. The best they can hope for is another 7 points. Defeat this evening to Burnley will see the slide towards the EFL continue and they will finish the season in 19th with 32 points.

Even with the level of help given in the FA Cup, Everton won’t make it

Meaning Leeds United and Burnley slug it out for that final spot. Incredibly, it’s going to end level. Burnley with 12 and Leeds picking up just 3 (home to Brighton in the penultimate game) will see both sides finish on 33 points. Goal difference will be key. As it stands, Leeds are on -33 and Burnely on -18, meaning that the Elland Road outfit seem to be on the way out of the top flight given that chasm will only grow wider. Their last game of the season taking place at Lionel Road and sure to be about as tense an affair as they come. Brentford pushing for the top ten. Leeds fighting to survive?

Could this pan out? Is it nothing more than fantasy football (our reader will know yours’ truly strengths when it comes to that)? Or should the green jacket just stay on for the next six weeks?

Who knows. I tell you one thing, if it did come downs to the Lionel Road denouement, just about he perfect season would achieve legendary status. Come on Brentford. Come on !

For anybody still taking note, below is where the points will be gained and dropped. For anyone else, here’s the Chelsea player review.

That final fixture breakdown…..

BURNLEY 12 points

06-04-22 Everton (H) W

10-04-22 Norwich (A) W

17-04-22 West Ham (A) L

 21-04-22 Southampton (H) W

 24-04-22 Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) L

 30-04-22 Watford (A) L

 07-05-22 Aston Villa (H) L

 15-05-22 Tottenham (A) L

 19-05-22 Aston Villa (A) L

 22-05-22 Newcastle United (W) 

NORWICH CITY 3 points

10-04-22 Burnley (H) L

 16-04-22 Manchester United (A) L

 23-04-22 Newcastle United (H) L

 30-04-22 Aston Villa (A) L

 07-05-22 West Ham (H) L

 11-05-22 Leicester ( A) L

 15-05-22 Wolverhampton Wanderers (A) L

 22-05-22 Tottenham (H) W

WATFORD 13 points

09-04-22 Leeds (H) W

16-04-22 Brentford (H) L

 23-04-22 Manchester City (A) L

 30-04-22 Watford v Burnley (H) W

 07-05-22 Crystal Palace (A) D

 11-05-22 Everton (H) W

 15-05-22 Leicester City (H) W

 22-05-22 Chelsea (A) L

LEEDS UNITED 3 points

09-04-22 Watford  (A) L

25-04-22 Crystal Palace (A) L

30-04-22 Manchester City (H) L

08-05-22 Arsenal (A) L

11-05-22 Chelsea (H) L

15-05-22 Brighton (H) W

22-05-22 Brentford (A) L

EVERTON 7 points

06-04-22 Burnley (A) L

09-04-22 Manchester United (H) L

20-04-22 Leicester (H) W

24-04-22 Liverpool (A) L

01-05-22 Chelsea (H) L

07-05-22 Leicester (A) L

11-05-22 Watford (A) L

15-05-22 Brentford (H) D

19-05-22 Crystal Palace (H) W

22-05-22 Arsenal (A) L

NEWCASTLE UNITED 8 points

08-04-22 Wolverhampton Wanderers (H) D

17-04-22 Leicester (H) W

 20-04-22 Crystal Palace (H) D

 23-04-22 Norwich ( A) W

 30-04-22 Liverpool (H) L

 08-05-22 Manchester City (A) L

 16-05-22 Arsenal (H) L

 22-05-22 Burnley (A) L

New look Bees win after top, top performances from Eriksen and Toney.

6 Mar

My word – that was about as wonderful an afternoon as it gets on Saturday. Brentford came away from Norwich City with a 3-1 win under the belt and a whole host of talking points. The memory of last week against Newcastle well and truly exorcised whilst defeats for Leeds United, Burnley and then , on Sunday afternoon, Watford adding further pressure to that clutch of clubs at the wrong end of the Premier League. The Canaries rooted to the very bottom of that pile after a game they would have ear marked as eminently winnable saw Thomas Frank outsmart Dean Smith in his selections – both tactical and in choice of personnel.

Thomas won the tactical battle

First up, the formation. The reveal of the team at 2pm suggested it would be one last throw of the dice for three centre backs. Ajer, Pinnock and Jansson all being selected yet nothing could have been further from the truth. Kick-off saw Sergi Canos playing up top on the left rather than in the much anticipated right wing back role. Kris Ajer then slotting in to a more traditional right back position with Pontus and Ethan in the middle and Rico on the left. It was the formation so many fans have been crying out for – even if, for me Clive, Ajer should be a nailed on right sided CB rather than anything further out wide.

The other key change being the undroppable Mathias Jensen finally being relieved of his place in the starting XI. Christian Eriksen coming in for his first start in Brentford colours and didn’t he do well? With, by ‘well’, we mean amazingly so. He was truly magnificent. Norwich unable to get close whilst the BBC recorded his performance as seeing him with more touches (66) and more passes (44)   – of which he had more in the final third (16)  – than any team-mate. All this done over the course of almost 100 minutes of football. The expected substitution on the hour failing to materialise as he played the entirety of a game that ran to an additional 10 minutes of time added on over the course of both halves.

Thomas choosing not to bring a knife to a gun fight was a selection rewarded with precision passes, space making runs and inch perfect dead ball delivery. Our opening goal – the first of a hat trick for Ivan Toney – came as a direct result of his corner kick being delivered directly onto Ajer’s head and flicked on to the free scoring front man.

Ivan steers home Ajer’s flick on for 1-0 Brentford

Whilst the performances of Mathias Jensen have, it would be fair to say, polarised opinion the Brentford faithful were united in their adulation for Eriksen. He truly was that good and, on any other day, would have ended this one as man of the match. Instead, Brentford ‘official’ limited the choice to Toney, Toney, Toney or Toney? Which to be fair, is hardly a surprise given his and our first Premier League hat-trick. The first goal coming on the half hour from the aforementioned corner kick, with not one but two penalties being awarded over the opening fifteen minutes of the second half. Both despatched to the bottom left corner in that trademark style. Tim Krul able to do nothing beyond engage in childish attempts to psych out our man. They were as futile as his attempts to stop the subsequent spot kicks.

Brentford 3-0 up before VAR then came to the rescue when chalking off an effort from Milot Rashica after Pukki was adjudge to have flicked it on with his head from a marginal offside. Dean Smith’s already bad afternoon going from worse to even worse. His only crumb of comfort seeing VAR then return the favour after Bryan Mbeumo made it 4-0 Brentford. Ethan Pinnock deemed to have been fractionally ahead of play as the ball was being played in to a crowded box.

For a moment…..

Pukki pulled one back for the Canaries but it was too little, too late. Much to the relief of the vociferous Bees travelling support. In the end, the eight minutes of time added on dwindled away. The game closed out. Three points in the bag – our first win in 9 games and one which could not have come at a more opportune moment. 

Toney and Eriksen grabbed all the headlines but hats off to the rest of the team. David Raya immense – especially early on – whilst Kris Ajer proved more adept in his new role than yours truly had anticipated. Oh me of little faith. Surely more of the same will come against Burnley this Saturday. Whether it remains a permanent formation change remains to be seen but, for now, the back line held firm and provided much needed impetus in the attacking third of the field.

One can only imagine how things will look when Josh Dasilva is available once more (the trip to Chelsea on April 2nd). Vitaly Janelt likely to miss out if the rest of the squad are fit. It barely seems possible to be talking this way about a player currently running fifth in our season long review but the signing of Eriksen and recent return of Josh means we are now spoiled in midfield to levels previously only seen at an ambassador’s reception. The flare on display only matched by the one Mr. Carrow was sent to investigate at half time.

Make no mistake, this win was crucial. It was deserved and it was, at times, hard fought. Ultimately, though, the best team won. The best decisions won. Thomas Frank and his team now have the challenge of proving this was no flash in the pan and that normal service has returned. That Christian Eriksen really is the signing he promised to be. 

With all the horror and angst going on in Europe at the moment, how nice was it to just switch off and experience ‘normal’ Saturday afternoon once again? Blessed relief from the outside world, even if the banners waved to show support for Ukraine pre kick-off meant it was still at the forefront of our minds going in to the game.

For now, we’re been and done. Here’s to doing it all again next week when Burnley come to town. Bring it on and see you there.

Nick Bruzon

NGL this slaps. I think.

5 Mar

It’s not been the best week, if we’re being completely honest. The night times dominated by stress dreams about the situation in Europe. The days, seeing it tough to focus. As much as anything else due to the, so called, ‘mash-up’ of Wonderwall with the theme from TV’s ‘Friends. Something I still can’t decide whether is awesome or awful but has, regardless, stuck in the head like some insane ear worm that won’t stop nibbling. To cap it all, I’m trying to use the Pick your Bees starting line-up feature on the BBC for the Brentford – Norwich City game and it won’t let me select Sergi Canos as a defender. What the actual? Which is supremely frustrating because, if for no other reason, I wanted to see how he’d look in a flat back four today. So it’s Mads Roerslev – for BBC purposes. On the plus side, all of this various angst means we continue to push the Newcastle United game further to the dark recesses of the mind. Although if you would like to read more about that one then you can do so, here.

So, today’s game. Well we’re all fully fit. Apparently. The only absentee will be Josh Dasilva who starts the first of his three match ban for the red card he picked up against Newcastle. Thomas Frank used his press conference to tell us that Christian Eriksen keeps progressing and is in a good place. For me, he absolutely has to start today and should. We can always sub him out if fitness concerns  – natural given the length of time since he last played a competitive 90 minutes – kick in and legs begin to tire.  However, the key to this one is going for it from the off. 

On Ivan Toney, Thomas confirmed  that the player, “Is in a much better place. He played three lots of 20 minutes on Tuesday and looked good. Hopefully he is ready.”

Hopefully he is. Again, though, for me he starts. If he is fit then go for broke. Let’s not pussy foot around. Full tilt from kick off. The 20 minute salvo. And then the same again in the second half before the inevitable substitutions on 60+. 

Personally, I’d like to see us trying to play for the entire game but perhaps I’m just a dinosaur. The game and tactics have changed but, equally, can we at least have our strongest XI from the off today, please. Even if they only last an hour let’s go for that early lead.

I saw a stat this morning that said Norwich have scored the first goal in the fewest matches (5), but Brentford have conceded the opener most often (19). 

Those aren’t my words, Carol. They’re the words of the official Premier League Twitter feed. If that doesn’t tell you the opportunity for something to give is there then nothing will. The question being who takes advantage in a battle of tactical decisions? Thomas Frank or Dean Smith?

Tactics will be key today

The Norwich fans will be up for it. Their players knowing that each passing game sees the chance of Premier League survival getting slimmer and slimmer. This will absolutely be one they’ve targeted as winnable.

I would if I was Dean Smith – our current for is, on paper, terrible. Even if the performances haven’t always matched that. Yet the only stats that count are balls in the back of the net and points on the board. The time for justice and deserving has long gone. Instead, Brentford need to translate some of these words into actual results. As, of course, do Norwich City. 

The good news is that there is a whiff of change in the air. Thomas also used his conference to confirm some flexibility. To suggest we may look to a more traditional defensive line up, saying “I will be more flexible for the rest of the season so, depending on the game and the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, I will use a back three sometimes and a back four sometimes.”

This, something that should allow a higher, more pressing formation with players playing in their right positions. Even if this will inevitably mean Pontus Janson and Mathias Jensen are sacrificed from the starting XI. Kris Ajer on the right side of the the two centre backs and nowhere, nowhere near any sort of suggestion as a makeshift full back, please. Football is emotive and the thought of not picking Pontus is almost sacrilege in some quarters but, if we go two, we do it properly. None of this crowbarred nonsense. Rico, Ethan, Kris, Mads.  

And I say inevitably dropping Mathias Jensen. He’s clearly a nailed on starter for Thomas, in normal circumstances. For me, when he’s on it I’d agree. Recent performances have definitely been up there. The issue remains consistency. For every two good things there’s one wayward. For every man of the match performance (and there have been a few) he has a stinker. With Christian Eriksen available then he plays with Vitaly. Christian Norgaard sitting in front of the back four. Bryan and Sergi, or even Saman, wider. Ivan up top.

As we’ve said many times, everyone is an expert from the comfort of their armchair or playing Football Manager. It’s a pressure free environment when you are doing it in the pub with a pint or three. Proposed strategy quietly forgotten about when the team win; gobbed-off about when we slip up. Granted, that’s been a lot recently. There are very few amongst us who have actually managed a professional football club or even attempted to (ahem).

just saying

Then again, this passion and debate is what makes the game of football so wonderful. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone would do it differently. We all have players we love and others who we cannot believe get anywhere close to starting. Long may that continue.

At least change is coming. One would suggest that given the experiments Thomas has been undertaking on the training field, and his words in the press conference, that will start from today. Regardless, there’ll be those amongst us still not happy with how he picks. And if so, ask yourself what’s more important – backing that team and winning the game or bitching at individuals wearing the red and white? Just saying. You can read the full piece from the press conference, here.

Until then, safe travels to Norwich. If you really need anything to help eat up the time time then Dave Berry has a double Christian Eriksen special. Yours truly on yesterday’s Absolute radio breakfast show but, infinitely better, on his Doctor Next Door podcasts where, amongst other episodes, there’s a genuinely interesting and reassuring discussion on pacemakers and the heart.

This could be huge. I can’t wait. See you there. And if you don’t have time for a podcast, there’s always the Friends – Oasis thing…. Even if I’ve no idea what ngl this slaps actually means.

Da Kidz..? Little help please.

Nick Bruzon 

As famous faces look on, opportunity knocks.

4 Mar

We’ve had a few days down time but now, with the next game here, time to get back on the horse. Last time out was about as emotive and angry as it gets although, at least, the correct decision was eventually made. Not that it changes anything about what’s going on in the more immediate short term. Please do have a read – you can find that here. Back home, Brentford face a trip to Norwich City. We’ll be minus Josh Dasilva after his red card in the game with Newcastle United for a team that will, surely, start Christian Eriksen this time around. Talk about a half decent option lying in wait ! For those of us kicking our heels until the weekend, there was also the chance to see our own FA Cup vanquishers, Frank Lampar…. etc Everton, in action last night as they progressed to the quarters watched by a trio of famous faces from Absolute Radio.

L-R : Matt Dyson, Glenn Moore, Andy Bush are joined by Michael Caine

The obvious starting point is Norwich City v Brentford. Dean Smith v Thomas Frank. A game against a Canaries side who look were looking nailed on for a return to the Championship until, eventually, earning a first win of the season at, errr, Lionel Road. A game that ended in the ignominious position of Charlie Goode playing up top. It was to be Daniel Farke’s last at the helm and , since then, our ex has seen his team pick up the points although still remain adrift. Win the game and they are four points (effectively five, given goal difference) begin Brentford). Lose it and the gap becomes a chasm. 

For Brentford, less a must win and more a don’t lose. With Watford hosting Arsenal and Burnley entertaining (if that’s the word) Chelsea, this weekend sees a wonderful opportunity to put some clear air between the bottom three and the rest of the Premier League. With Everton facing a trip to sporadic Spurs and Leeds United, now bereft of Marcello Bielsa, looking to see if they can stop their catastrophic haemoraging of goals at Leicester City, its not just the bottom three with a vested interest in how the game at Carrow Road turns out.

Another trip to Norwich – H still not ready for his debut

For what its worth, I’m not sure playing it safe is the way to go in this one. Playing for a point a somewhat redundant exercise. Norwich will recognise the opportunity this represents for them given our own current run of form. Given our own no-show against Newcastle last week. That,  a game which we can file in the bottom five performances of the season: Southampton (a), Burnley (a), Brighton (a) and Norwich (h) being the other four.

They’ll be on us from the off. Let them. The best form of defence is attack. Cut the cagey sideways stuff. It hasn’t worked . Feed Ivan. Start Christian. Let the centre backs do their job. Hope we don’t concede a corner (albeit that has been much, much less of a problem since David Raya and the defence have got back in sync after that long absence). As much as anything, keep it loud from the crowd. “Where are you? WHERE ARE YOU? Let’s be ‘avin you!”, to coin a phrase.

Happy birthday??? to my good friend Delia

If nothing else, Norwich are hitting anti-form too. Aside from losing in the FA Cup midweek, their previous three Premier League games have seen 9 goals conceded in a run of defeats that culminated in that rarest of things against Southampton. Namely, Dean Smith not claiming he was managing had deserved to win. Anything but, with his post match interview revealing that, “The better team won on the night, we can’t argue with that”. Not. A. Typo.

So if this is an opportunity for them, it is very much one for us. A chance to get back to winning ways. The first of two huge games (Burnley are at home next week) where we could really inflict some relegation pain on our opponents aswell as shushing any noise about the R word amongst our own support. Form isn’t great, that’s for sure, with Newcastle giving some genuine concern about our ability to get stuck in and to adapt. It IS hard playing with ten men but it was still frustrating, even allowing for the deficit. The positive being how we played until the red card was, understandably, shown. Despite the best efforts of one supporter to persuade Mike Dean otherwise….

You can’t blame him for trying

Win, lose or draw the previous game is forgotten about after 24 hours. That’s the mantra from Thomas Frank. It needs to be one we stick to this weekend. We’ll have 11 men on the pitch and a chance to calm any nerves. Of course we had the same chance last weekend and fluffed our lines. Fingers crossed there’s no repeat this time around. There shouldn’t be. And you can catch up on the player / team performance ratings from that Newcastle game here.

The other lead in to this one was at Everton in the FA Cup last night. Boreham Wood eventually going down 2-0 but preserving their ‘goals against’ column longer than Brentford did in the previous round. We’d let in two by the time that Salomon Rondon eventually broke the non-leaguer’s hearts. Spurred on by a crowd of over 38,000 (that included Absolute Radio DJs Andy Bush,  Matt Dyson and Glenn Moore), the Toffees found it hard going to break down a resolute backline. Victory was eventual and, perhaps, inevitable but the manner of the performance will give further heart to Leeds, Watford, Burnley and those other clubs fighting it out at the wrong end of the Premier League table.

All being well, that won’t include Brentford. One can’t ignore form. One can recognise the opportunity of the next two games which, if taken on top of our current points total, should see us propelled well, well clear. 

For what it’s worth, I’m still totally confident. This is the Premier League, not a walk in the park. There are no easy games but there are those we’ll have earmarked. Norwich will be one. And I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there. 

He came on against Newcastle. Surely a start is next?

Nick Bruzon

Former Brentford ‘keeper has the balls that FIFA lack. Well said Szczesny (and Poland).

28 Feb

Monday morning. The weekend has seen Brentford go down at home to Newcastle United, keeper Kepa take the worst penalty since Yoann Barbet found low-earth orbit against Norwich City and Leeds United parting company with Marcelo Bielsa. Yet it was dominated by FIFA proving themselves as spineless as ever when it comes to Russia. The ongoing and barbaric atrocities being committed by Putin and his lackies in the Ukraine have resulted in global condemnation, ejection from everything as far afield as the Eurovision song contest to hosting their own Grand Prix (and anything in between) whilst the footballing community have made their own feelings very clear.  Wojciech Szczesny and Poland leading the charge and refusing to play Russia next month. 

We’ve always loved the player, affectionally known as Chesney, at Brentford after his 25 game stint in 2009/10. It seems like five minutes ago he was pulling out all the stops, game after game. Ripping up tress in goal and performing last line of defence heroics that haven’t been matched until, well, probably David Raya. Now, he’s up on the global stage making his feelings (and those of his countrymen) known loud and clear.

Speaking to the DAZN Sports streaming service, Szczesny was unequivocable with his thoughts:

“We won’t play against Russia at the World Cup, that’s for sure. Let’s see if FIFA will have balls to give Russia the World Cup by forfeit – I don’t think so”.

“I refuse to stand on the pitch, wearing the colours of my country and listen to the national anthem of Russia! I refuse to take part in a sporting even that legitimases the actions of the Russian government.”

Well said, that man. With Sweden and the Czech Republic joining the Poles in their decision, FIFA have finally flinched. There has been no kicking the Russian team out. Instead, a typically half-arsed measure of still allowing them to compete but on neutral ground under the name Football Union of Russia (RFU). No flags , no anthems, no flags. But still playing. 

President of the Polish FA, Cezary Kulesza, was as forthright as Szcezny on hearing this news. He called it “Totally unacceptable” with, incase anybody was in any doubt, the commitment that.. “We are not interested in participating in this game of appearances. Our stance remains intact: Polish national team will not play with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is.“

Look. I get its not the fault of the Russian players or Russian people. Robert Lewandowski was amongst those also recognising that side. At the same time, giving a government and a dictator who thrives on his own ego, on global recognition and some misplaced macho bullshit where the world order is still rooted in the 18th century any credibility or attention, no matter how watered down it may be, is a complete and utter NO. It was an open goal and FIFA have missed. Missed it worse than Diana Ross taking a penalty.

The world looks on at a c*nt

Instead, they’re now in a situation where Gianni Infantino still sleeps with the Order of Friendship medal given to him by Vladimir Putin under his pillow. Where the head of FIFA has acted with all the speed of a turning oil tanker in swerving questions before, finally, finally coming out with this nonsensical watered down rubbish. Nobody is going to play against Russia in the current circumstances. The World Cup, already under huge scrutiny given the controversy of Qatar, could become an even bigger farce than it is already looking like turning in to. And rightly so.

The World is burning at the moment. Football had a chance to draw a line in the sand. To show strong leadership. To show support  – primarily for Ukraine but also its other members. The football community has come out and made their feelings quite clear. Even in the symbolic gestures from supporters waving banners, flags and going to games in yellow and blue. From players openly saying they refuse to participate in the charade. 

The game’s leadership, anything but. It makes me sick. F*ck Ras-Putin. F*ck FIFA. Our beautiful game is currently being made to look very ugly at the top level.

Anyway, that’s just me. For what it’s worth. Trying to bring up a young child to know the difference between right and wrong or explain what the heck is going on in the world at present isn’t an easy job. I get sleepless nights over where this could end up but, at least, I still have my principles. It’s a shame others don’t. Oh well, enjoy that medal Gianni.

I was going to talk about the League cup, about Leeds United , about Newcastle and about Brentford going to Norwich City but really can’t be bothered with any more. This stuff is written on the hoof. Made up as it goes along and having done so, I’m over football for now.  A relief for everyone. If you really want to then you can get the player / performance review from the Bees – Magpies game, here

I’m downing tools for a few days.

Be good.

enjoy that medal

Nick Bruzon

Newcastle United debrief. Who impressed as The Bees end up stung?

27 Feb

Brentford ended Saturday on the wrong end of a 0-2 home defeat to Newcastle United. Josh Dasilva saw red and, the debut of Christian Eriksen aside, there was little to cheer. At least, for those us supporting The Bees. Norwich City are next up and the hope will be very much that a run of one point from the last eight league games can be arrested.

Frustration all round

Performance wise, was there anything to write home abut? Did anybody impress for Brentford in a game that saw Newcastle United muster an incredible 26 shots over the course of the 90 minutes? Who would be your first name on the team sheet for the trip to Norwich on Saturday?

As ever, the player review and match summary to look at those very questions is now up. You can find that here….

Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

He’s only got four fingers but he still knows what to do with his head.

27 Feb

When does a blip become a trend? When does a bad run of results become more of a worry? The first of three games against teams below Brentford saw a 2-0 win for Newcastle United at Lionel Road. It was as abject a showing as we’ve seen all season (certainly in my bottom five ‘performances’ ) with the only two positives being the performance of David Raya and the entrance of Christian Eriksen into the field of play. If you want some further straw clutching at good news, then the ongoing holes in the Leeds United defence and use of VAR at Everton were further bonuses on an afternoon of slim pickings. It’s not time to enter panic mode but it IS time to now start getting points on the board. Failure to do so against Norwich City next week or Burnley in a fortnight and things could look very different.

What a moment

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe pretty much nailed it at full time. “If you can’t win, don’t lose”. Certainly that was our approach going in to that recent run of games against the clubs chasing Europe, for all our defensive heavy tactics ended up fruitless. This was different. This was the chance to turn the screw and aim for three points at home. To ride the wave of optimism engendered by the return of Ivan Toney to the squad. By Josh Dasilva starting once more. By the promise that we would see Christian Eriksen make a debut. The chance for Brentford to take a home game by the scruff of the neck. Instead, it was an opportunity that saw the Bees fall flat on their collective faces. 

Referee Mike Dean didn’t help matters, that’s for sure. The red card shown to Josh Dasilva after just 11 minutes about the only thing he got right all afternoon and even that was a decision that had originally been given as a free kick to Brentford. Then VAR stepped in and, upon review, there can be few of us not wincing at a challenge which, whilst I am 100% sure was made with no ill intent, did not look pretty on the replay. The Bees down to ten men for the majority of the game and any early impetus gone in a flash.

Let’s not blame Mike Dean for our own failings, though. He didn’t help matters but Newcastle United wanted this 100 times more than we did. Their 26 shots (to our 6) and 63% possession (for an away team !!!) matched by their two first half goals. Indeed, were it not for David Raya who was absolutely dominant in goal for Brentford things could have ended up a heck of a lot worse. Joelinton magnificent with his head for the eventual opener. An absolute blinder with Ajer made to look invisible. Joe Willock finishing a rapier like counter attack just before half time after Jensen had delivered a Brentford corner so deep it needed its own scuba gear.

The players trooped off with ‘All Apologies’ playing out over the tannoy at half-time. Irony alive and well at Lionel Road where it was anything but a state of Nirvana. 

It was a case of All Apologies to the Brentford fans at half time

On the plus side, if there can be one, it perhaps accelerated the entrance of Christian Eriksen. What a moment. What a reception. Universal applause and good will. Not just in the stadium but , no doubt, further afield. The moment we’d been building to finally where. A standing ovation and the player straight in to the action in place of Jensen. Within a minute he might had opened Newcastle up. His game then demonstrating the passing and movement we’re all so familiar with and which could prove invaluable in the coming weeks. 

Sadly, it wasn’t quite enough but ten men are always going to struggle against opposition that stretched us further than the elastic on a pair of granddad’s pants. That were on their game and had their fans singing throughout. One song about Joelinton, to the tune of ‘She’s Electric’ on repeat after he’d bagged the opener. “He’s only got four fingers” ringing around Lionel Road again and again and again. 

Albeit subsequent post match discussion suggesting the line might, actually, have been a reference to his price tag. That’s what £40million gets you, I suppose.  

As for Brentford, hindsight is wonderful thing. The popular opinion being that Eriksen should have started from the off. Should have take the game to Newcastle and let them play catch up. Personally speaking, I’d have made the same call. Bring him on. We have an abundance of midfield options. Norgaard, Janelt and Dasilva in the middle with Roerslev at right wing back. Instead, we got the three of them plus Mathias Jensen (who should have been dropped after his cameo at Arsenal), no Roerslev or Canos and Ivan Toney on the bench. It survived just 11 minutes.  

I guess if Ivan is not 90 minute fit the thinking was to have him, Josh and Christian Eriksen on together. Besides, as one terrace wag put it in the pub after the game, having played for Spurs Eriksen is used to coming on at 2-0 down. It didn’t work though. Not this time. Personally, I’d have started Ivan and brought him off if needed. Then use impact player Wissa up top with Bryan.

Being an armchair manager is easy. There’s no consequence to your decisions. No comeback or tirades of abuse for getting it wrong. None of us know what goes on behind the scenes. How fit players are. Why some start ahead of others. It’s not the team I’d have picked but it was still a team that should have been good enough to perform a hell of a lot better than they did. The ten men didn’t help, of course, but it just felt as though we barely got even half way close to sniffing the chance of having a look in.

It’s done. It’s dusted. It’s put to bed. The player review and ‘deeper dive’ is here. A bad day over. A bad day made even worse by then having to watch Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. In itself, always an awful experience and one made even worse by their proving how ‘live’ the show was by harping back to the result. There it was again. And again.

Instead, it’s time to focus on Norwich City. They looked desperate against Southampton on Friday night. Another team spending huge swathes of time on the backfoot and inviting pressure on themselves. Bringing the inevitable goals against with even Dean Smith replacing his usual “We deserved to win” with, “The better team won on the night, we can’t argue with that.” . Like Eddie Howe, a manager reading the game correctly, even if the result didn’t go as planned. 

It will be crucial how Thomas and his team react to this performance when we go to Carrow Road next week. Otherwise, those last two games of the campaign (Everton away and Leeds United at home) might end up proving very significant. All that’s to come, of course. For now we need to focus on Norwich City and then Burnley. 

Nobody said life at this level would be easy but I’m still loving it. Bring them on and see you there.

So much optimism from the young Bees before kick-off

Nick Bruzon

He’s going to play. They both are !!

26 Feb

Well that’s been about the worst week imaginable. There can’t be any amongst us not experiencing some or all of the obvious emotions about what’s going on across the other side of Europe. Shock, anger, fear, disgust, angst and just utter despair about the actions of one man  with that terrifying combination of maniacal tendencies that are off the scale and a microscopic penis (he must, surely, be over compensating for something?). It feels wrong to be in a position where everything is ‘normal’ but we’re the lucky ones where it is and for that reason, even if just for the family, we’ll be carrying on. For us, that means Brentford hosting Newcastle United. Last week’s game at Arsenal now filed away and The Bees moving on to the first in a sequence of three fixtures against clubs currently in the bottom four. Norwich City (a) and then Burnley (h), also to follow.   

The news out of the press conference yesterday was just about as good as it was possible to get for Brentford fans…. 

Christian Eriksen will be in the squad, and he will get on the pitch to make his debut.

It’s going to happen….

Not my words, Carol. The words of Thomas Frank. Talk about a boost to a midfield which, at times, has seen uphill runs become power-sappingly mundane and overtaking National Express coaches become a long, drawn-out affair. Parking the bus proving far too adept a tactic at stopping the Brentford attacking force. Now, we have Christian available. We have Josh Dasilva starting games again – seeing him on the pitch at 3pm at Arsenal a sight to behold – and we have that other bonus offered up but Thomas…. 

We have all players available, which is positive. That also means Ivan Toney will be involved in the squad tomorrow.

Finally. This is just great news. One can only hope Ivan will be on from the start. He’s been hugely missed and the combination of him and Josh Dasilva in the attacking third one I cannot wait to see. Let alone when you then chuck Christian Eriksen into the mix. 

Actual. Christian. Eriksen. Playing for Brentford. With apologies, its been almost a month now and I still can’t believe it is about to happen. Yet it is. All the reports out of training and those pre-season friendlies suggesting that his story is en-route for a fairy tale ending. I’m sure he’ll come off the bench for this one and, when he does, that most will be immense. That noise will be huge. Even the Newcastle fans might join in, such was the global reach of last summer. The football family united as one.

For me, he’ll come in to a midfield three that will, or at least should, start as Norgaard, Dasilva and Janelt. With Shandon Baptiste and Mathias Jensen also available to pick from, we’ve suddenly got choice. Huge choice. When fully fit, that choice will only get tougher. 

The obvious hope here is that Brentford will be given that added cutting edge we’ve been struggling to find in recent games. The defence seems to have sorted itself out, as much as it can with the options available, although the right wing back channel against Arsenal looked brutal. Mads Roerslev will begin this one, surely?

As we’ve said, many times, players can only play where they are asked. That said, sometimes the peg feels just too square for a particular round hole. Much better keep that option available for higher up the field. Nobody can knock the effort or desire whilst some of the vitriol seen and heard from certain ‘fans’ is just nothing short of embarrassing. Get a grip.

That’s me, I suppose. Embrace the positive. Look at where we are and what we have achieved so far. Fourteenth in the Premier League. Other clubs failing to win the much talked up ‘games in hand’ . See also: last season. Another year in the top flight is there for the taking and, for the record, it will be. A campaign lasts 38 games. Not 7(seven), 8 or 9. The thread below also giving some much needed sense but, also, insight into supporter mindset in some of the replies / quote tweets.

Our start was wonderful. Our run of covid and injuries less so. It would impact any team, let alone one with the budget and set up of ours. That recent sequence of fixtures still showing all the fight one would expect (Southampton aside, which was just a giant turd of a performance), most of which were against clubs aiming for The European places and the title. Now that particular challenge, at least, has been overcome. Everyone is back and we can see what the team does with those added midfield elements. 

Honestly, having both Christian and Josh added to the mix is just HUGE.  Its not a gimme, of course. The team still need to do their thing. The crowd need to get behind them, too. Likewise, Newcastle United aren’t just gong to roll over. The Magpies still sitting way close to that trap door for their liking although recent results have seen them hit form once more and pull out of that awful nose dive that dominated so much of the season.

Allan Saint-Maximin remains the obvious danger man although his participation seems in doubt. Eddie Howe confirming that the player was still in Monaco on Thursday for medical reasons, seeing a personal physio and receiving what was described as the “Best and most intense treatment” possible. (What’s French for anti-gravity treadmill? ).

Draw what you will from that update. Is there any real hope? Will it be the bench at most?  Big money signing Kieran Trippier amongst those definitely missing out too. In the end, though, as we’ve proven against Arsenal. Against Liverpool, Against Chelsea and both Manchester clubs. Quite simply, it doesn’t matter who Brentford are up against IF we choose to play. If we find the ball. If the crowd get behind the team then this side can be up there with the very best. Can drive Cristiano Ronaldo to stropping off – still up there in the highlights of the season to date.

Don’t cry for me, Cristiano…. The mother of all tantrums

We’ve had some wonderful moments so far this campaign. We’ve more than held our own for all but three or four games. Now to see if the return of a talisman and the arrival of a certain Dane can help write another new chapter in the Brentford story.

Bring it on and see you there. Perhaps crack out that mid-90s shirt, too….

Get your Ericsson kits out

Nick Bruzon

Is THE debut coming? Will a star return?

24 Feb

Next up for Brentford, Newcastle United. The Arsenal game has long since been put to bed with The Bees still in fourteenth (everyone) despite the mini-meltdown going on in some social media quarters. Instead, the forthcoming sequence represents a wonderful opportunity to both silence the doubters and even make ground on that top ten spot still being hoped for by some. Fourth bottom Magpies, then a trip to 20th placed Norwich City and a visit from a Burnley team also, currently, below the trapdoor. After Leeds United conceded their tenth goal in two games as they came dangerously close to a second bracketing of the winter (Liverpool only managing a mere 6 last night), anyone in TW8 pressing the panic button may want to look a little further afield.

The game at Arsenal has been and gone

Of course Saturday’s game a is a big one. They all are though. Obvious focus is on our recent run of results where only one point has been picked up out of the last 7(seven) games. Games that, let’s not forget, have included trips to Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal aswell as the visit from Manchester United.

Out of that run, only the car crash at Southampton has caused any stress. Truly, up there with the worst performances of the season. But enough about their supporters and the Coldplay light show that rubbed salt into an already gaping wound.

The last few minutes at St. Mary’s in January were as bad as they get. Anything but Paradise

Dwell on the negative all you want. Suck up the doom and gloom. Or cast that net a bit wider to reflect on the season gone so far. Remember that a campaign is defined by 38 games, not a handful. That we now have David Raya back. That the trip to Arsenal saw Josh Dasilva start his first game of the season. That, perhaps, most importantly we still have the prospect of Christian Eriksen to come.

Saturday is the day. Christian seems set to be in the squad with a place on the bench ready and waiting.  The two warm up games already played have seen him assisting more than the lovely Debbie McGee. First Southend United and then Glasgow Rangers put to the sword in behind-closed-doors encounters. The step up to top flight football will be a huge one for anybody, let alone a player who has been out of action for the best part of a year yet there is more than enough pedigree, not to mention points to prove, to suggest Brentford may have pulled off the coup of the transfer window in enticing Eriksen to Lionel Road.

Christian helps pull another rabbit form the hat

The player’s own prognosis after the game with Rangers offering further optimism, ”I am actually a bit surprised that my body is acting as it is … I’ve been training hard but 𝙄 𝙙𝙞𝙙𝙣’𝙩 𝙚𝙭𝙥𝙚𝙘𝙩 𝙞𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙗𝙚 𝙖𝙨 𝙜𝙤𝙤𝙙 as I feel now.”

Then, of course, there’s a certain goalscorer. After missing the last three games with a minor calf injury, Ivan Toney was pictured back in training this week. His endeavour has been desperately missed. Even half an hour in the denouement of the Arsenal game may have altered the result but we’re talking ifs, buts and maybes. Instead, the tactic would appear to have been a clear one of zero-risk, picking your battles and ensuring he is completely fit and niggle free ahead of the run in. Ahead of this mini sequence that, should it go our way, will see nerves calmed and the table climbed.

What you can say for sure is that any team without Ivan Toney is a weaker team. That he has been sorely missed That the prospect of seeing him in a line up that also include Josh Dasilva, let alone Christian Eriksen, is one that has us all salivating. The greatest power trio since ZZ Top. Whether Newcastle is too soon for that combination to play out remains to be seen but it will come. And when it does……! 

Whether this also prompts any formation change also remains to be seen.  I can’t see Thomas Frank staring with anything but his regular three centre backs supported by Rico on the left and, err, Sergi or more likely Mads on the right. The calls to shift Kris Ajer out right are becoming more and more vocal by they day but teams have never been picked by social media. For me, Clive, it would be too much of a risk. Play your best players in their best positions. Take the game to the opposition so that defence is as much a secondary consideration as anything else. Now is not the time for further experimentation. 

There’s two ways to look at the last twelve games of the season. Either a wonderful opportunity to build on the, mostly success, of a first Premier League campaign. To continue an unexpected push for the top ten. To cheer on our team. To enjoy the positive rather than wallow in doom and gloom. Or to embrace negativity.

Personally speaking, I’m in the former camp. This season has been the most incredible fun already. The most unexpected. I want more of it. We will have more of it. We’re fourteenth, everyone. Last time I looked it was only 18,19 and 20 who went down. I’ve supported Brentford fo far too long for this to be considered a ‘bad’ table position. My word, some of the comments out there. But that’s me. I get some might be concerned but all being well, let’s hope some words are eaten over the next few weeks. So we can enjoy that season finale with Leeds United for all the right reasons. 😉

Instead, it’s a case of looking forward to Ivan’s return. To host starting. To a certain Dane coming off the bench….

I can’t wait . Bring it on and see you there.

Until then, here’s the Arsenal deep dive and what might have been on Saturday….

Nick Bruzon