Tag Archives: Neymar

Can England join magnificent Japan in the hunt for a monster upset?

3 Jul

Bloody hell. Football. I think we’re all starting to run out of superlatives after yet another stunning evening of World Cup action. And this is before we even get on to England! Monday night’s game between Belgium and Japan showcased the beautiful game at her most alluring. It was one you simply couldn’t have made up and had it all – shock, excitement, wonderful goals, an edge of the seat comeback and then bitter, bitter tears at the end as Roberto Martinez and his team scraped through by the most gossamer like of margins. It was marked contrast from the earlier game where the acting skills of Neymar will remain forever branded onto the memories of most fans rather than a 2-0 win for Brazil over Mexico. And back home, with rumours starting to circulate (we’ll get there properly when something actual happens) Brentford have now announced one move.

I’m struggling to describe the emotions of watching the Belgium – Japan encounter. Even now I’m both smiling at what unfolded yet devastated at how it finished. And that’s having only seen the final 45 minutes. This, after a problem at the office (genuinely) meant I was just coming in from work as the second half kicked off. Sadly, there was no helpful score update from the commentary team. Instead it was down to the graphic in the top corner to bring things up to speed in an immediate, if somewhat unsatisfying, style. But that was where any disappointment ended.

Talk about an explosion of action. Talk about Boy’s Own stuff. Talk about underdogs and unfancied Japan sticking it to the Premier League fat cats. Belgium, for all they galaxy of stars available to their squad were simply blown away. Jan Vertonghen left for dead by Genki Haraguchi who scored with a fine finish. It was defending as leaden footed as Gary Breen at his most oil tanker like (I’m thinking of Sunderland at Brentford in the 2006 FA Cup) but don’t let that take anything away from Haraguchi’s run and shot just after half time.

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One for the Bees fans, there. What a moment.

Less than five minutes later the lead was doubled. Takashi Inui with an absolute piledriver of a shot from well outside the box. A blow as powerful as Godzilla laying waste to downtown Tokyo with his flaming breath but this time it was the Japanese handing out the pain rather than receiving it.

The football was devastating, it was brutal but it was brilliant. A quite scintillating display of moving the ball and running at pace. Yet still they came. Belgium looked lost. Little boys crying out for their mummys after having being promised an easy second round game but, instead, taking an absolute hammering. Fattened lambs to the slaughter after being fed a load of waffle about their opponents.

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The king of the monsters, laying waste to all around

All over social media, Gareth Southgate was being praised for his tactical genius. Not in avoiding the supposed hard part of the draw but simply in England dodging a team who seemed intent on providing this most exciting of tournaments with yet another shock.

And then Belgium woke up. The double substitution of Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli coming on was followed by Vertonghen atoning for his earlier error with 20 minutes to go. Five minutes later, Fellaini powered home a cross form Hazard to level things up. 2-2 and the clock ticking. Japan recomposed themselves and kept coming. A free kick at the death almost drifting in before a quite magnificent move out of the back opened up the Japan midfield and back line for Chadli to stroke home with just seconds remaining.

It was a goal as heartbreaking as it was beautiful. Godzilla having been finally subdued by the footballing equivalent of a freeze ray. With what seemed to be the entire nation willing on Japan, you had to admire the speed and skill with which the winner was scored. Even if it was begrudgingly. The coup de grâce being Lukaku’s sweet dummy when he could have been forgiven for trying to stab the ball goalwards but, instead, allowing it to run through to his teammate to break their opponents’ hearts  

The Japanese were distraught. Understandably so. I had to turn off within moments of the final whistle as they collapsed to the pitch in despair. It felt as though we were intruding on some private moment of grief after having been afforded the privilege of witnessing some of the most breathtaking football in history. Indtead, it was left to their coach Akira Nishino to sum it up:  “I don’t want to admit it. I do feel that it was a tragedy but I have to accept the defeat as a fact.”

It was a million miles away from what we will remember from the earlier game. Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 to set up a quarter final with Belgium. Fine. But the theatrics from Neymar Jr, writhing around as though he had been shot, brought torrents of disdain from just about the entire footballing community. It was Rivaldo levels of farce. Acting as unsubtle as Mrs. Brown and a moment that what about as unfunny as Brendan O’Carroll’s tedious creation.

This sequence on my Twitter timeline summing the day up in one screen grab.   

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And so the quarter finals are starting to take shape. This one really is up for grabs now. Whilst anyone could win it, looking at the games to come, anyone really could. But will England join them?

Gareth Southgate’s team do battle with Colombia this evening. On the pitch, it’s 11 v11. Off it, we have England v the curse of ITV.

Whilst I spoke about this earlier in the week, it does bear repeating. England have only one one World Cup game that has been shown on the light channel since 1998. That, back in Germany 2006 against Trinidad and Tobago. Even then, it took two very late goals (Peter Crouch after 83 minutes and Steven Gerrard on 90) to secure three points for Sven’s team. Ah, Sven – remember him?

Can England turn form around? After a World Cup of shocks, I wouldn’t bet against Gareth Southgate pulling off the biggest upset of the tournament to date. Victory under the gaze of Glenn Hoddle.

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The stats don’t lie…

And finally, Brentford. There was transfer news of sorts. Theo Archibald has joined League Two outfit Forest Green Rovers for 2018/19 (albeit with the option to recall in January). You can read the full story on ‘official’ .

All of which brings us with sledgehammer like unsubtlety to the Last Word season /five-season reviews which remain available for download. ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so why not help out this wonderful part of our club whilst providing yourself with some relief for the commute, the bathroom or just whilst relaxing on holiday.

Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began…..

Nick Bruzon

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How Leverkusen beat Brentford when it comes to scoring

5 Sep

It would be fair to say that Brentford certainly lead the way when it comes to adopting a different approach on the field. The oft quoted ‘statistical model’ has helped unearth players from all over Germany, Austria and Denmark whilst, of course, we have a new management structure in place. Our decision to play beach football at Griffin Park was, perhaps, an ill-fated one but it can never be said that life as a Brentford fan is a quiet one.

Whilst Brentford may be trendsetters in many areas, we aren’t a patch on German and, specifically, Bayer Leverkusen. Although we are picking up players from that country I wonder if we might soon adopt some of their other ideas ?

With the Bees busy promoting their latest idea, ‘Back to School’ gear for the kids, Leverkusen have adopted a more adult marketing strategy. In a move that gives new meaning to the phrase ‘get your kit off’, their website offers none more than club issue condoms for sale.

I was convinced this was a joke upon being sent the picture but, sure enough, these really exist. Alongside cuddly socks, alarm clocks and shirt pyjamas, the Leverkusen ‘must have, bedroom’ category also includes the aforementioned prophylactics.

This really exists

This really exists

Should you want to try something different, you can get them here. At just Euro 1.90, there is now the chance for fans to wear their colours on every occasion whilst still earning those all important loyalty points.

Leverkusen aren’t alone. The BBC ran a report as far back as 2002 on the popularity of such items in Brazil (Flamengo being the biggest seller, apparently). Even as recently as the World Cup of 2014, there were stories doing the rounds about local favourite Neymar have one designed in his honour.

Which does make me wonder if Matthew Benham , Mark Devlin and the rest of the Brentford marketing chaps will leap upon this as our next foray into club issue items. It’s one thing having the shirt on your back but why not go one better ?

Then again, given our previous issues in getting shirt sizes right (thanks, Puma) or even the lack of any choice for women, perhaps this is one area we are probably safest steering away from. The last thing we want is something leaky than the defence.

An idea that will probably remain on the drawing board

An idea that will probably remain on the drawing board

Nick Bruzon

The joy of text. This one’s for Jake

9 Jul

I can only wonder what Jake Reeves thought last night as Germany humiliated Brazil 7 (seven) – 1. Whilst most people were focusing on the margin of victory, for me there was massive pay back for Luiz. Specifically, because of the horrific injury he inflicted on Reeves in February of last year as Chelsea finally managed to knock Brentford out of the FA Cup.

Indeed, the comparison had already been noted with the BBC commentary team highlighting the ‘defender’ for elbowing Miroslav Klose with an observation that (apparently) he’d done similar before at Chelsea. Didn’t we remember that in TW8 as social networks were awash with comments about Jake and, equally, pictures of Luiz crying his eyes out after the game.

Whilst Fred seemed to be the ‘blame’ figure for the Brazil boo boys, for me the headless chicken that was David Luiz seemed most culpable in a team performance that was about as shocking as they come.

I’m sure Jake is too much the professional to take any pleasure from what happened but, personally, I’m just not that good a man. So here’s the montage of just some of those shots doing the Twitter rounds last night.

Tears of a clown? 'Sideshow Bob' was all over Twitter last night

Tears of a clown? ‘Sideshow Bob’ was all over Twitter last night

The other thing to really get me excited was the return of brackets. Anybody who has read this column or ‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’ will know of my love / obsession with what happens on that magical moment when the scoreboard ticks over to register a seventh goal. Brackets appear on the videprinter.

Any team who have managed seven goals or more have the privilege of their score also being written, in addition to the standard numerical format. Just to make the point that – this really isn’t a typo; they have been hammered by that many.

Moreso is the debate that accompanies this. I’m of the belief that the clarifying 7 (seven), should be in lower case font. Discreetly saying that there has actually been a goal-fest and it’s not some numpty in the production booth with fat-fingers.

Sky, on the other hand, go for a full upper case 7 (SEVEN). It’s a gauche block-capitalled effect to really push home the point that someone has been on the wrong end of a thrashing. It’s gloating for the sake of it.

Well last night the BBC, I’m very pleased to say, got in on the brackets act as their website videprinter recorded the fact with a third entry into the discussion: 7 (Seven).

Even the BBC got involved in the brackets

Even the BBC got involved in the brackets

You know what? I’ll take it. I was just thrilled to see the return of this football tradition (much like the 6.25pm World Cup proclamation of, “And for those of you just coming in from work, the score is…..”)
Remember this moment, I don’t think you’ll ever see brackets in a World Cup semi final ever again.

‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’ (The story of Brentford’s season 2013/14, 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.

 

A unique moment in World Cup history

A unique moment in World Cup history

 

Will these strikers hit the right notes in the Championship?

5 Jul

Another day, and another ‘local rag’ rumour shot down (See also: ‘Bees boss plans double swoop’, which appears more often than a Keith Stroud yellow card) as, rather than Brentford, Callum Wilson will be plying his trade in the Championship for Bournemouth next season. With the fee reckoned to be £3million (or 1 x Lewis Grabban….) the deal to take him from Coventry was confirmed on Friday.

If true, then even if Warbs had been looking at him one could only presume a transfer of that size being well out of our range – certainly without Grabbanesque sales – and nobody wants to see our prize assets leaving. Especially not before a ball has been kicked.

Still, with Northern Ireland International striker Will Grigg as the only front man on the Brentford books with regular league experience, it does beg the question as to if anyone else will come in (are you reading, Marcello?).

Of course, the untapped potential of Andre Grey is a wonderful option for Warbs to have up his sleeve. I’m intrigued to find out if the leap from Conference to Championship will be a giant chasm or a simple step for the free scoring goal machine? If what we’ve heard and seen about this young man is correct then the smart money has got to be in the latter camp.

One thing we do know about Andre is that he can’t sing. Although, to be fair, that’s a trait common to footballers in general. And you can see this on the clubwebsite at the moment where visitors have a double treat.

First up, is the next installment of Peter Gilham’s tour diary. Another fascinating read as to life on the pre-season tour. I was particularly curious about the Florida weather of which, by breakfast time, we have been told, “already the temperature was in the 1930s.”

Art deco conditions and storm clouds gathering across Europe? Still, if it means the Bees preparing to jump to the top flight (a feat we last achieved in 1935) then I’m all for that.

And as for the singing, well it’s not just PG’s diary that we are being spoiled with. The club have taken thing to Ambassadorial levels of excellence with the launch of Brentford X-Factor.

As you may be aware, any new members of the Bees set up have to perform a song on tour in front of the established staff. Not only has this fine tradition continued but the evidence is now on line. More importantly, the ‘singers’ are looking for you to ‘vote’ them through to the next round in a X-Factor style vote. Albeit through the medium of twitter, rather than premium rate phonelines.

Brentford X Factor

Thankfully, it is the fans who are the judges…

I think it’s a great idea and, if you can cover your ears long enough, the link to the videos and votes is here on the clubwebsite. I’ll say one thing for Andre, he certainly doesn’t lack confidence

 

And just catching up on a few points from yesterday, given the article on Peter’s diary, I was contacted by Andrew Cooper (Hong Kong Bee) who has noted: “I was pleased to see PG calling his diary Letter From America. There’s a missed oppo here… “Donaldson no mooore. Norris no mooore. Trotta no mooore. Saville no moore.”

I also posed the question that with Nice due to visit Griffin Park later this month , and their goalkeeper David Ospina of Colombia playing against Brazil last night, it would be a wonderful opportunity to see who could put most goals past him – Will Grigg or Brazil International, Neymar?

Neymar promptly drew a blank and, despite his team winning, the local hero has also been ruled out of the World Cup with injury.

Will – over to you to go one better (just not the injury, please).

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

Nice work PG as Norris chucks Bees

4 Jul

And relax. After a two day break the World Cup is back tonight. Fortunately, there has been plenty to keep us occupied in the last day or so – and not just at Brentford but everywhere else from Gibraltar to Florida and beyond.

Starting with the Bees, the big news for me was not the announcement of our home friendlies against Nice and Espanyol. That said, these are both very exciting fixtures against teams in their domestic top flights and are sure to be a stern test for Brentford. I’d imagine there’ll be big crowds at each (let’s hope the ticketing arrangements are done differently to the Celtic affair) whilst I’m particularly intrigued by the French visit.

Nice’s goalkeer is David Ospina who, of course, is currently plying his trade in the World Cup for Colombia andis due to play this evening against Brazil. It will be very interesting to see how he fares against Brazil international striker Neymar and then compare this to the performance of Northern Ireland International Will Grigg. I’m banking our man will score more than the, so called, “poster boy of Brazilian football” (© everywhere) .

Neither was it the announcement that Luke Norris has turned down a contract offer at Griffin Park and, instead, chosen to join the home for retired Bees (not Wycombe Wanderers) at Gillingham. Good luck with that, Luke.

It’s a shame he’s chosen to leave as, one would have thought, the challenge of breaking into a Championship side would have been a huge lure. However, I’m sure he has his reasons. For us, it will be interesting to see what happens next with Brentford’s dwindling attacking options.

For me, though, THE news was something I’d hoped for in the previous article – the return of Peter Gilham’s tour diary. You can find this, here, on the official site as PG keeps us up to speed with the latest news from our training camp in Florida. I won’t ruin the surprise, suffice to say that I’ve learnt a fascinating fact about footballer’s ‘flight socks’.

Coming soon to a bookshop near you?

 

Top stuff, Peter. I’m glad it’s back and I’ll be staying glued. Keep up the great work.

Away from Griffin Park, it is incredible to think that despite ‘pre-season’ barely underway and the World Cup only at quarter final stage (or, ‘the round of 8’ as FIFA would probably call it), qualifying for European competition has already begun.

Last night saw former Bees Shaleum Logan and Niall McGinn both on the score sheet as Aberdeen beat Daugava Riga 5-0 in the Europa League qualifying rounds.

However, this was a mere appetiser for the main European story and it is here I must apologise to Lincoln. Not City, now of the Conference Premier, but Red Imps, the champions of the Gibraltar Premier Division.

Regular readers will know of my Gibraltarian heritage and fascination with all things ‘Team 54’ (being the name by which our national side became known as they, finally, became UEFA’s newest members in May 2013). It received several columns over the course of last season and, indeed, I’m hoping to travel to Germany this November to see them in UEFA qualifying action.

However, Wednesday night saw the Lincoln Red Imps become the first Gibraltarian team to begin a Champion’s League qualifying campaign where, despite taking the lead, they were eventually held 1-1 at home by HB Torshavn of the Faroe Islands.

Whatever the result, this was an event of huge footballing significance and so I apologise for not mentioning this yesterday. Well done Lincoln – now finish the job on the return leg. The lure of a tie with Partizan Belgrade awaits the winners!

Similar congratulations to College Europa, for an equally historic moment last night. Despite going down 0-3 in Liechenstein to FC Vaduz, they’ll be sure a big crowd as the Europa League makes it’s debut in Gib for the return leg.

Who knows where this will all lead but I’m already looking forward to that moment in a few years time where Peter Gilham’s tour diary comes from a Champion’s League qualifier from ‘The Rock’.

Stranger things have happened……

‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’ (The story of Brentford’s season 2013/14 and a smattering of ‘Team 54’ ) – amongst other things – is now available as a digital book. Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from the last ten months, and some new content, you can download it here for your kindle / digital device.

 

Chuck jeans

Farewell to Luke ‘Chuck’ Norris – man of ‘action’

Brazil 1 ITV 0 (and more Brentford shirt news)

13 Jun

News of a stunning piece of Brentford memorabilia up for sale in a moment but we can only start with the World Cup in Brazil.

It’s now the morning after the night before and Brazil have got their first points on the board, running out as 3-1 winners over Croatia. I really enjoyed the game although if you want the full report go to the BBC or some other reputable source. Suffice to say it was all a bit Brentford – Marcelo scoring (albeit an o.g.), a disputable penalty and a last minute goal.

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I now declare this wall chart, open

 

The downside was the ITV coverage. The build up from the panel was as lifeless as the Copacabana backdrop to their studio. The locals clearly forsaking the normally crowded beach to be near a TV. Hopefully their feed was better than ours as Adrian Chiles struggled to get going without the spark of Roy Keane. The banter between Lee Dixon, Fabio Cannavaro and Patrick Vieira was as awkward, and painful, as a teenager on a first date.

Two points of note once the game started. Firstly, the score graphic. It was enormous. This was no discreet logo, tucked away in the top left corner and was a real distraction. Come on ITV, sort it out. It was as unsubtle and distracting as a poisonous wart on the end of the aforementioned teenager’s nose.

As for the commentary, we still await the first outing of that World Cup staple, “For those of you just coming in from work, the score is….” . Perhaps 9pm is a bit late for that one but I’m hoping the five o’clock kick off between Mexico and Cameroon sees the classic line trotted out. With any luck the oversized graphic isn’t deemed an adequate replacement.

These small whines aside I can’t wait for things to really get going now, with Friday seeing the first of the tournament’s triple-headers. Grab the remote and get ready to start working on that butt groove in the sofa.

Getting back to matters Griffin Park, there is an incredible item for sale on the eBay auction site at the moment. None other than Bob Taylor’s fully signed and framed shirt from the 1997 play off final against Crewe.

Whilst we won’t talk about what happened in that game, this is still a one off opportunity to get hold of a unique piece of Brentford history. I’ve got more chance of being selected for the ITV football panel than of being allowed to bid for this but, hopefully, one Brentford fan could be very happy by Sunday lunchtime.

You can bid here.

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Your chance to own the shirt off a Brentford legend’s back