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The three favourites for Aston Villa – agree? Will Dean run away and join the circus?

4 Oct

They’ve only gone and done it. After just 123 days in charge at Aston Villa, Roberto di Matteo has been shown the door. With Brentford boss Dean Smith one of those at the top of supporters’ and bookmakers’ lists as a favourite for the role, could he have taken charge at Griffin Park for the last time? Or is somebody else destined for what is less a hot seat and more an electric chair?

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The current runners and riders

To even be discussing this now smacks of madness anyway. Nobody can deny that Aston Villa were one of the teams at the start of the 80s. Thirty-five years ago. But that was then and this is now. To put it into context, Roberto di Matteo was just starting primary school when they lifted the European cup.

Yet despite his pedigree of having already taken West Brom up from the Championship aswell as the not inconsiderable tasks of bringing the FA Cup and European cup to the Chelsea trophy cabinet, this wasn’t deemed good enough for the long term. Doctor Tony Xia, who always puts me in mind of a low budget Bond villain, has eliminated his manager and now starts the hunt for a new one. But who?

Steve Bruce is the bookies favourite. Currently without a club having taken Hull City back into the Premier League, he is both available and has form at this level. But could the Birmingham City factor play a part here. Especially if things don’t go so well?

The football on offer over the last 15 months hasn’t been great and so he’d face a huge challenge in having to make an immediate impact.

Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner is the current darling of the Championship. There is no baggage with him and nothing but positivity as The Terriers have defied the pundits to storm it to the top of the table. If there is anything negative to be said it is that the headlines about Wagner always make me think of the one decent act ever to emerge from TV’s X-Factor.

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Wagner – not to be confused with…

Yet why would Wagner leave? Unless, of course, he was voted out. Here is a chance to achieve something special with Huddersfield Town. A well settled team, playing strong football, are already knocking on the door of the top flight. They have loyal support and a great stadium. It would be a huge risk for him to jump ship so soon. One there is currently no need to take.

And so it comes back to Brentford and Dean Smith. A man whose family are Villa fans and who has seen the Bees get off to their best start since our return to the Championship. A man whose run at the end of last season saw us fall just short of the play-off zone.

Yet like Wagner, why would he want to leave a team on the up and so soon into his Griffin Park career? Dean has been here less than a year whilst also endured his own mini crisis at the start of 2016. A woeful run saw us, by his own admission, in a relegation battle. Matthew Benham kept very public faith in his man and it has been well rewarded. Would Dr. Xia have done the same?

For all the jibes that Brentford have endured on social media, our man is going nowhere. And you can quote me on that.

Instead, you have to look further down the list to the likes of Steve Clarke or even Sam Allardyce for the likely candidates. Yet the media circus that Sam would bring has surely ruled him out of any job (this month)? At a time when the club needs some stability he’s the last man to approach.

The trouble would seem to be expectation levels. With Brentford being, undeniably, a small club – albeit one on the up – we’ve seen this all before. Leeds United have been huge on the tinpot cracks since our paths have crossed whilst Wolves were hurling the abuse about their status relative to ours when that fixture returned to the calendar back in League One days. Now you can add Villa to the list.

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Yesterday’s pick of the tweets

But just as balls in the back of the net are the only stat that counts, having once lifted a cup or two in the last century doesn’t give you a divine right to ‘be any good’ now. Frankly, Dean Smith has no need to run away and join the circus. Even if he is asked.

Aston Villa have, without doubt, a wonderful heritage and a magnificent stadium. Yet with patience a commodity in short supply at Villa Park, and the twiterrati having ideas well above their recent form, good luck to whomever gets the role.

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Villa Park – A stadium we can only aspire to

Nick Bruzon

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Dean marchin’ , Lee walking but three more points.

22 Nov

Brentford stormed to yet another last gasp win, this time over Nottingham Forest, as a 2-1 victory proved yet again the ‘never say die’ attitude in this team. In scenes reminiscent of this season’s game with Ipswich Town and countless more at Griffin Park over the last few campaigns, Forest played the ultimate price for letting the Bees play to the final whistle. But it was the red card for Harlee Dean that has overshadowed the points and the confirmation from Lee Carsley that it was his own final game in charge.

The big centreback was shown straight red after a stupid flash of petulance saw him lash out at Forest’s Jonathan Williams. It was the briefest of moments, coming straight after a clumsy challenge by Dean on Nélson Oliveira saw a free kick awarded and a tussle over the ball with Williams.

But however brief or aggrieved one might feel, there’s no excuse for raising your arm. Referees have been programmed to show red in such instances and to do so at any time, let alone right in front of the ref and with his own team leading, was utterly inept.

His cause wasn’t helped by Williams collapsing like a sack of spuds but the damage, compounded by the Forest player’s Lazarus style recovery, had already been done.

Harlee will be a big loss for us. He was one of the boys not doing themselves justice at the start of the season, but he is now playing like a leader” said Lee Carsley after the match. For somebody who was being touted as a potential captain at the start of the season, these were anything but the actions of a leader. The challenge was cumbersome but the subsequent action was inexcusable.

We’ve been saying for the last few weeks that a red card is coming, although usually in the direction of Alan McCormack. Given Lee’s confirmation that he’s had his last game in charge, this couldn’t have come at a worse time for the player given we’ll have a new manager looking to run his eye over the team.

I’ve asked many times who drives ‘official’ twitter and this was one of many such instances. Reading the match feed, it was as though we’d been somehow wronged.

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‘Official’ twitter have their own view on the incident

 

Of course, ‘live’ comments can be made in the heat of the moment but the theme was then followed in the official match report, describing it as an “altercation”, before later adding, “Williams bounced up seemingly untouched as Dean marched angrily towards the dressing room.”

Football is an emotional game and things happen in an instant. That said, if one of our players does something like this then at least have the good grace to hold up your hands and acknowledge it afterwards. Albeit that, of course, such action is what got Harlee into trouble in the first place.

We’ve all got eyes and the majority view at the time from those who saw it was that the ref got it right. Terrace observers made comments including, “Deserved”, “Definitely a straight red” and “Furious. He’s denied us any chance of seeing Sam Saunders”.

Review of the footage, which has been available to all on the Sky website since 5.15pm last night, would further support this view. It would take a pretty blinkered fanatic not to accept that, in this case, we were in the wrong. Yet instead we plough on, North Korea style, with tales of glorious victories and atrocities committed against the imperious Bees.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. The victory itself was glorious! David Button keeping us in it until the second half turning of the screw. Sergi Canos opening proceedings when he got on the end of Harlee’s header – a final meaningful contribution before marching off for an early bath – only for an almost instant post red equaliser.

But, again, this only galvanised the Bees. Pressure built and wave after wave of attack was eventually rewarded in the 96th minute of the game. Philipp Hofmann fired through, and around, a crowded penalty box to send the crowd wild and Mark Burridge, up in the Beesplayer commentary box, to a level of excitement not heard since his ‘Burridgegasm’ at Blackburn Rovers.

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Sky viewers see the aftermath of that winner

But despite the win, I can’t help but be drawn back to that red card incident. I like Harlee Dean and it’s not particularly pleasing having to write negative comments about him, or any player. However, I can only call things how I see them. I’m sure he’ll learn from this and maybe even protest innocence but the footage is pretty damning.

Still, we are where we are and in Jack O’Connell have a more than capable replacement for the trip to Bolton Wanderers next Monday. Instead, the next question is more around who will be in charge for that one.

Lee Carsley confirmed after the match that it was pretty much his last game, with a new manager due to come in over the next couple of days. Who this will be remains under firmly under wraps with names as far reaching as Pep Clotet, Justin Edinburgh and even Neil Warnock being bandied around.

For now, I just want to thank Lee – a reluctant hero – for more than steadying the ship after the ill-fated experiment at the start of the season. Things didn’t quite work out , despite a glimmer of potential, but the transformation since the changeover has been an incredible one.

Lee has the honour of a ‘manager of the month’ award and the Bees are now just four points away from the play offs . No doubt there’ll be plenty written about the new appointment over the course of the coming week but, in the short term, Lee can step away with his head held high after a great job, very well done.

Lee Carsley MOTM

Lee  Carsley – HUGE thanks from the fans

Nick Bruzon  

Could Barry Ferguson’s words about Brentford come back to haunt him?

9 Jun

Forget about the ‘in play’, it’s all about Glasgow Rangers and Brentford today. Despite my well documented ineptitude at football betting (it’s bad enough that half time on TV is ruined by Ray Winstone’s disembodied head and geezer-shtick without paying for the privilege) the boredom of the summer months has seen some internet based research on that most hopeless of tasks.

And by research, I mean nothing more scientific than checking out the latest odds. Primarily on the Bees but also on Glasgow Rangers where Warbs is the bookie’s choice to be named the new manager at Ibrox. This, after admitting he has already spoken to the club and would take David Weir with him as assistant. Checking this morning, he is 1/6 on with even David being the third favourite (now THAT would be an interesting role reversal).

To be honest, it’s nothing really to do with us anymore but until Marinus has had a decent chance to get his feet under the table, Warbs’ popularity and success with Brentford means it is still somewhat tricky not to associate him with Griffin Park. All being well, Rangers’ chairman Dave King will name him shortly and then we can all move on.

 

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, it’s the annual clean up to make more space on the site for the inevitable follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are !