Tag Archives: Norwich City

Bravery and aggression are the key as we look for Rico, Ivan and, err, Allan.

28 Nov

Brentford go into Sunday’s game at home to Everton with positive news on the injury front and the taste for goal after hitting three at Newcastle United last week (summarised here). The downside being our recent form has also seen defensive solidity thinner than the laughs in an episode of Mrs Browns Boys. With ten conceded in the last four games there’s only one way back from there. A battling point at St. James Park saw the focus very much being on the front foot and more will be the same when Rafa Benitez brings what is left of his injury ravaged squad to Lionel Road.

Thomas Frank used this week’s press conference to emphasise the importance, and intent, of taking the game to our opponents. The words brave and aggressive cropped up again and again with the mindset being that the best chance of beating Everton will be to outscore them. Obvious, perhaps, but why not throw caution to the wind and dictate the pace?

Thomas – come for the quotes, stay for the knitwear

Brentford are the home team and the desire to take the game to our visitors is, as Thomas noted, the piece of the puzzle that is in our hands. “It is very important that our approach is front-footed, aggressive, and brave. That is the bit I can control”, also nothing that “We need to consistently press high, be aggressive, and run in behind….we need to be able and have a mindset to take risks if you want to have a better chance of winning football matches.

You can read that in full on Brentford ‘official’. The other good news to come out of the press conference is on the fitness front. Wissa will be on the bench whilst Mads Bech is available once more, as is Mathias Jensen. For me, Clive, this is nothing but positive. Mads gives that extra option at the back and, of course, has those long throws that cause mayhem in the box. As for Wissa, well we’re all familiar with his heroics. It’s as close to a certainty as possible that we’ll see him put in an appearance at some point. With Shandon Baptiste also getting a late run at Newcastle, all of a sudden there are options. 

This is even better news given that if ever there was a chance to get back in the saddle then today is the day. Mind you, we said the same against Norwich City and look how that turned out. Groan. Everton’s confirmed absences include Richarlison and Mason Holgate (both suspended) whilst Yerry Mina, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Andre Gomes and Tom Davies also miss out. Indeed, there’s a stat on the BBC that highlights the importance of Calvert-Lewin, with the club winning just 21% of their games without him since the beginning of last season compared to 50% when he plays. Ultimately, stats don’t win games just as a single player does not make a team. Yet, at the same time, one can’t overlook the importance of a game-changer and, for Brentford, that absence can only be a boost.

The downside being the availability of Allan. Our H, just as with Lucas Biglia of Argentina during World Cup 2018, has become fascinated with a random player outside of our own. Whilst I’ve still no idea what drove the Biglia thing and nor does he in retrospect, it’s happened again.

Biglia. Why?

In the Premier League it is the Everton midfielder although at least this time we do know why. Much like our own Zanka, it’s the fact that he’s that rare breed of footballer known by a single name. Something that is very much associated with Brazil. And H is intrigued by it.

Pele, Alisson, Ronaldinho, Socrates, Zico….Allan (or some variant in the long list of exotic sounding South Americans) has become the refrain in the build up to this one. He’s certainly the one we have marked as a major road block to our potential success today. On a sidenote, my bookmaker (used purely for research purposes) has him at 14-1 to score at anytime today. I’m already terrified. Then again, for what its worth I’m calling this one 3-1 Brentford today so if anybody must score for the opposition then…

Allan – the main man for Everton and 14-1 to score at any time. Gulp…

The other stat of note in the build up to this concerns Lionel Road. Funnily enough, given the fortress that it has felt, less than a third of our points have come at home. This is the lowest ratio of any top-flight team and equally surprising given the way we played against Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Then again, the way we played against Brighton and Norwich City (in particular) perhaps tells a tale. Big games + big noise = big performance. The visit of Everton certainly fits into the former category so let’s hope that the rest, combined with Thomas going for goal, follows suit.

Off field, pre-match covid status checks aside (joy), the excitement surrounds the return of the Panini Adrenalyn XL cards swap-shop under the Family Stand from 1pm. Try saying that three times in a row. Fair to say H (definitely H) has taken to the trading cards with some enthusiasm. Despite the downside being a haemorrhaging of the piggy bank, he’s almost completed the whole Brentford team. Just Rico Henry and Ivan Toney (elite) to go. If anyone has either of these and is doing swaps, he’ll be there with the spares and the other ‘needs’ list from 1.30pm.

Until then, see you there. It was bitter standing on the sidelines for 90 minutes at football club yesterday so for crying out loud, don’t freeze your bits off today. Wind chill factor alone sure to dampen the spirits. No harm in wearing the pre-match beer jacket either. It’ll help the volume and keep the cold out. Bring it on. And bring your swaps.

Can anyone help complete the set?

Nick Bruzon 

Can we be party poopers at the coronation of King Eddie?

19 Nov

And we’re back in the room. Brentford travel to Newcastle United this weekend on the back of a first real challenging streak in the Premier League. Recent form of LLLL takes no account of the performance against Chelsea or the shonky ref. Likewise Leicester City, where I’d imagine the midfield partnership of James Maddison and Simon Hooper will cause further mayhem for whomever they come up against next. As for Burnley and Norwich City. Hmmm . The Canaries will no doubt feel they deserved to win and three points will show this to be the case. The appointment of Dean Smith at Carrow Road something one could write an entire chapter on but that’s a subject for elsewhere. So we’ve been great, we’ve been unlucky and we’ve been downright awful. Injuries decimating us, too. Whatever the analysis and performance, it all comes down to wins. Or lack of. The net result is nil points and the hope that International break has helped recharge some batteries.

one of the few bright sparks recently

Which leads into Saturday afternoon. The game at Newcastle United is a sellout for the travelling fans. Presumably the home side, too, with Eddie Howe taking another opportunity to test himself away from Bournemouth. Things were average at Burnley (8th and 13th in the Championship) with his eventual departure for what were deemed at the time to be personal reasons and since confirmed as being due to the death of his mother rather than anything to do with being ‘homesick’ . That one’s here.

It’ll be manic at Newcastle. Their first home game under the new regime saw the lead taken against Spurs within three minutes before normal form resumed. Cripes, Spurs winning a game is reason enough to be worried about your own form but with the Magpies being the only top flight team yet to win a game, will the new incumbent have done sufficient in this relatively short time to change that around? 

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank gave a, perhaps, surprising assessment of the opposition in Thursday’s press conference. He’s told the massed ranks of the journalistic corps that: “We haven’t looked that much at Newcastle, apart from individual players, but rather what Eddie Howe did at Bournemouth in terms of shape and style. I expect them to come flying out, pressing us…. His profile is fantastic and stands for progressive football, front-footed pressing, and he wants to be dominant on the ball. I admired his job at Bournemouth a lot. I’m convinced that, over time, he will be a success at Newcastle

Over time. Let’s hope for sure it’s not immediate. Perhaps of more interst is his claim that we are not studying our opponents. One can only presume a bluff from Thomas that, surely, isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. Not even a cursory glance? Mind games and false messaging or just supreme confidence in our own ability, our own shape and our own players? Whatever that shape is and whomever they may be this time around.

With injuries continuing to bite there is some good news. Mathias Jensen is back from Denmark, has completed his quarantine following that Covid test result and so has been in training. Will he start or have recent performances now been deemed sufficient that a place on the bench is the best he can hope for? The availability of the broader midfield will determine that as much as anything else. Norgaard and Janelt nailed on starters for 2 of the 3 berths, even if the latter was below his best against Norwich. I felt.

Zanka will be assessed and Wissa is getting closer with Thomas due to decide today (Friday) if he is able to play some part. Likewise Shandon Baptiste who is deemed in contention to be in the squad. Kris Ajer and David Raya remain the key absences with the former due a scan at the end of the month to see how he is placed going forward.

For me, Clive, its as much as getting through this one unscathed. Obviously we want the win and there is still sufficient in the starting XI to beat just about anyone on our day. Yet with those much missed players starting to get close to a return, let’s not scupper this with any rushed return or further injury blow. Our luck on this front has been bad enough already. I’m amazed that Shandon Baptiste is where he is already after that dislocated shoulder but there you go. Hurrah for medical treatment. Yet with the busiest time in the calendar fast approaching, including that league cup quarter-final with Chelsea, keeping the squad fit is as crucial as picking up the points.

The atmosphere on Saturday is going to be nuts. All the focus on Newcastle United. Brentford nothing more than the bit part players at the coronation of King Eddie. The chance to be party poopers always a wonderful one.

I’ve no idea what any of Thomas’ talk means. Nobody will reveal their cards in public, that’s for sure. All we can say is that after the frustration of Burnley and Norwich, this is the perfect time for us to get back in the groove. Let’s hope we take it.

Bring it on and see you there.

Hopefully he won’t be smiling at full time

Nick Bruzon

We’ll do our best to feck them over.

9 Nov

International break but its all happening around Brentford off the back of the Norwich City game. Manchester United tickets have sold out. Hardly unexpected. The GPG now waging war on touts and chancers crying in to Facebook. Newcastle United have a new manager in Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe, just time for our visit on Saturday week. On the fitness front, Mathias Jensen has had to pull out of the Danish squad following a positive test for Covid 19 en-route to International duty. With that news being confirmed at Copenhagen airport, the rest of the squad remain unhindered meaning Christian Norgaard avoids isolation for now. What this means on the domestic front remains to be seen but if there is any consolation to be taken, at least this comes at the start of the two week window. Meaning that in theory he may even be back for the trip to Newcastle. That’ll keep the usual suspects happy on social media. Last year’s Sergi fast becoming this year’s Jensen. Groan.

What do you do though? Of course fans need to be able to express their opinions and discuss. The passion and the interaction are an integral part of the game. Yet after last season’s vitriol I thought we’d done with all that. Copious amounts of egg left on face as Sergi did his thing in the face of the morons and has only picked it up even more this time around. The Frank Out ‘campaign’ ending with the only ‘out’ being the club going out of the Championship and in to the Premier league. Now, after four defeats on the bounce the knives are being sharpened in certain quarters. Not that I can imagine the usual suspects are reading (can read) so we’re largely shouting in to the void.

FFS. It’s hardly the stuff of crisis. Overall, the start to the season has been beyond the expectations of just about everyone. Recent form of LLLL doesn’t look great on paper, that’s for sure, but let’s not forget that includes the full frontal assault on Chelsea and the pantomime villain theatrics of James Maddison when Leicester City came to Lionel Road. Both, games where there were the additional factors of obscene clock running down and woeful refereeing. Burnley was, granted, horrific, and Norwich City not much better. But two bad games do not a disaster make. Moreso given we are in the grip of a devastating run of injuries. 

He’s behind you….

As for Mathias Jensen’s form, thoughts on him and other performances were published in yesterday’s player review (which is here). We’ll never know if the subsequent medical update had anything to do with it or, additionally, if ‘The Curse of The Warm Up’ has struck again. As has been observed, everyone who has appeared alongside Stu and Marcus has failed to start the next game due to illness or injury. However, one thing has become clear over the years – Thomas Frank won’t buy into fan led demands for player removal. Or selection. See also Tariqe Fosu who is worshiped as some sort of game changing demi-god by a few whilst just about everyone else is wondering what has gone on behind the scenes to limit his appearances to just a handful of league cup ties.

Moving on to Manchester United, there was an odd (that’s the polite word)  post on Twitter yesterday by one ‘fan’ having a moan about being unable to get a ticket for that game. Whether this was the subsequent ‘joke’ he maintained it was, who knows? An attention seeking clikcbait tweet which required some serious back-pedalling after the obvious reaction or simply a case of nonsense blowing up out of all proportion? What we can say is the visit of Manchester United on December 14th is about as hot a ticket as has ever been seen at Brentford.

A joke. Apparently

And with such demand come the usual touts and chancers. It was always going to happen with the membership scheme eventually being open to all (and rightly so). This isn’t happy-clappy land and you’ll never get a perfect system. There’ always be people who want in on the action or tying to take advantage but the GPG are one the case.

Elsewhere, Trevor Inns has posted a quite to the point message.  

If any one has some spares for the Manchester Utd home game, please tell us about it. 

Especially if on sale above face value.  Twitter. Facebook. TikTok. Anywhere. Let us know.

Brentford Tickets for Brentford Fans 

Already got two that have a rude awakening tomorrow morning!

DM me or admin@griffinpark.org.  

Well said that man. Let’s get as many genuine fans in for these games as possible. F*ck the tourists and the touts. Let’s keep the noise loud and fill Lionel Road with Bees rather than away supporters. Keep this a fortress rather than a library. Here’s to more rude awakenings.

Finally, Eddie Howe. About as telegraphed a move as possible, he’s now in charge at Newcastle United. The only club in the top flight not to win a game after Norwich City picked up their first three points on Saturday, we’re first up for the new era. Howe’s first bite at the cherry. Whether his presence will be sufficient to turn things around this soon remains to be seen. All being well, we’ll have some better news on the fitness front (Wissa would be nice). Even if just at centre back where Zanka (our Urine-son as Match Of The Day called him) going off after just 12 minutes on Saturday added to the casualty list and hardly helped the game plan.

It’s a long way off at the moment and one that will no doubt be bigged up to the max from next week. Whatever your politics or thoughts on the club’s new owners, the focus on a  game that was already going to be under the microscope has only intensified further. All being well, everybody will forget about Bees and a party pooping will be in the offing. 

There wouldn’t be a better time for this to happen, that’s for sure.

Nick Bruzon 

The Monday after the weekend before.

8 Nov

Brentford v Norwich City. It just had to happen. There was an almost cosmic inevitability about the way this one would play out. The Canaries having only scored three goals and picked up two points from their opening ten Premier League games. Brentford…. Well, we saw what happened. With Newcastle United next up after international break, are there any positives to be taken? Have we learned anything from this one? Is it nothing more than bad luck and great goalkeeping? Most importantly, who was our star man and who is leading the charge for the Bees?

In our latest look back at the game just gone, you can find the answers to some of those question here. Or, at least, one fan’s opinion. Is it right? Do you agree? Were Norwich lucky? Did Brentford deserve anything? Who should be first name on the team sheet for Newcastle United and who needs a fast track to the training ground?

Enjoy…….

Nick Bruzon

Result fails to match the experience. This is why our club remains like no other.

7 Nov

Well wasn’t that just the afternoon that was both simultaneously awesome and awful. On pitch, Brentford made it LLLL after going down 2-1 to Norwich City. Early goals for the visitors giving them a 2-0 half time lead which proved that little bit too much to overcome. International break cannot arrive soon enough. With it, the chance to regroup and refresh before we go again (shudders) with games against Newcastle United and Everton. It should have been a home win. It could have been a home win. Tim Krul twice denying Christian Norgaard from point blank range when it was odds on ‘goal’. The offside flag chalking off one for Mbeumo (not Boo-mo, Match of the Day. Cripes, how hard is it to do a little research? ) early into the second period. It was the correct decision, sadly, but with the Bees coming out like Thomas Frank had let off a few half-time fireworks, the impetus of halving the deficit so soon after the restart would have been immense. Instead, the marauding Rico Henry pulled one back on the hour but that was as good as it got.

Looking down on Pukki doing his thing

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. No bad thing given the frustration of that one. Norwich City, sitting ducks based on their current form. Instead, the prey became the predator. They were quickest out the blocks and had the lead within six minutes. The otherwise exciting Sergi left flat on his arse half way through a move that culminated in Mathias Normann being offered the freedom of the pitch. Waltzing through everyone, the Bees midfield and defence were more standoffish than a bunch of nervous teenagers at a school disco. Eventually he picked his moment with a low strike that stand in goalkeeper Fernandez couldn’t quite reach. 

Soon after, it was two. Pukki from the penalty spot after Charlie Goode (an early sub for Zanka) was adjudged to have brought down the Norwich man when clean through. He had no real choice and did the best of a bad situation but there was deemed sufficient contact and the ref pointed to the spot. 2-0. Game over. Despite the second half resurgence it was three points dropped. Norwich with a first win of the season. A deserved win. It wasn’t enough to save Daniel Farke who it was confirmed had left the club after the game. The Canaries board acting now in a bid to salvage their Premier League place. With Nuno Espírito Santo, Neil Warnock and Steve Bruce all now available, the next incumbent of that particular hot seat could be an intriguing decision.

That’s the football. Brentford played well in patches but that was it. Patches. The early season confidence taking a bit of a battering and providing for a frustrating experience on pitch. If you want to read more (somebody might) the Hollywood Bets column will be up shortly. Link to follow.

Yet off field, it was Brentford at their very best. At our most awesome. Sometimes you need to take a step back and appreciate just what a club we have. Just how that ‘family’ feel we had at Griffin Park has been retained. Anybody reading yesterday’s column may recall the fact that our Harry was spending the afternoon up on the gantry with fellow competition winner Luke Mitschke and the Ifollow commentary team of Mark Burridge, Karleigh Osborne and Charlotte Tanner. Well, he’s had his moment and, my word, one can’t thank the club, Mark and the rest of the team enough. 

H was bouncing off the walls before, a little nervous on the walk up to Lionel Road but once into the groove had an absolute blast. Gassing away on the mic and looked after like royalty. To give two youngsters the chance to get involved in everything from pre and post match analysis to actually commentating on a Premier League game something that they’ll never forget. All being well, the listeners enjoyed it. Certainly, we’ve had more than a few messages back. Specifically in regards to Harry’s on-air observation that clearly the referee was a Norwich City fan. Likewise, apologies to anyone who heard him raging off-mic at Tim Krul for manhandling Ivan Toney.

H, Mark and Karleigh preview the game. Or discuss ‘that’ goal for Bristol City. I’m not sure which

The view from up on the gantry nothing short of incredible. The highest point in the stadium but still felt on top of the pitch, with the action unfolding in a glorious panorama. Mark Burridge, cool as you like. Handling it all in his unflappable style. A huge pang of jealousy from yours truly at his ability to make it all seem so effortless. So natural. So much fun. Actually, not jealousy but respect. And also for his engaging Luke and Harry. Making their day so special.

What a view

We’ve said it many, many times before but there is no other club like it. Where fans feel like family. Where supporters still have the chance to get involved to such an extent. Even with Premier League status putting us more under the microscope and Covid continuing to ruin everything for everyone, to keep this ‘Griffin Park’ vibe was nothing short of wonderful. To keep it real and remember what we do so well just the best feeling. Cripes, the onfield stuff hurt yesterday but off it, Brentford were, and are, the best.

Thank you everyone. Long may it continue. Now here’s to Newcastle United.

Mark Harry and Luke at the end of a wonderful experience

Nick Bruzon

One man’s balls are another’s bolas. Time to get back on the horse.

6 Nov

Move along, nothing to see here.” A comment taken from the opening line in yours truly’s programme notes for today’s game, following last week’s result at Burnley ( In the interest of keeping these pages a true catalogue of the campaign, a 3-1 reverse for Brentford). For reasons that primarily involve mental overload, there’s been a week or so’s break from penning any of this nonsense. But with the visit of Norwich City imminent, now is the time to pick up the keyboard once more. There’s news of a brand new feature to run in tandem with these pages whilst, on a personal note, today offers the chance of a quite unique way to watch (and potentially get involved in) the game.

Norwich City. Cripes. Where are they this season? Come on. Based on current form they don’t so much need a 12th man as a 13th and 14th. The stats speak for themselves with last year’s all-conquering form nothing more than a beautiful memory. Nothing more than a name etched into a Championship winner’s trophy. Played 10. Lost 8. Drawn 2. Goals scored 3. Goal difference -22. Mark Lawrenson’s pre-match prediction on the BBC includes the quite soul-destroying observation that,  “After 10 games of the season, Daniel Farke’s side just have that pallor of relegation about them.” Their problems further compounded by the absence of captain Grant Hanley this afternoon.

Where are you? etc etc . Best. Football thing. Ever.

Let’s be clear. I take no pleasure from this. As has been documented many times, we’ve a lot of love for Norwich City in our house. A club whose approach and welcoming arms are very much like Brentford in so many respects. Equally though, games of football are there to be won and this one presents the best opportunity one could ask for to get back up amongst that pack of teams chasing Europa League places. A phrase which, for the record, whilst statistically true is still one which reminds me of the beer infused afterglow with which we are enjoying our football this season. That three pint feeling of numbed bonhomie. Everything is awesome. Crazy times. Exciting games. A dream that keeps on giving for a team who are, mostly, indestructible. Burnley aside. Even the there game blip of LLL involved double dubious refs (Chelsea and Leicester City) aswell as a top, top ‘keeper in inspired form when the European Champions came to visit.

So yes, everybody will be expecting a win today. That includes me. Aside from some payback for last season (what foul on Bryan in the box?) form alone suggests there will never be a better chance to get back on the winning horse. All being well, Vitaly Janelt will start this one after coming off the bench at Burnley. Wow – hasn’t he been missed? Likewise, a return for Bryan Mbeumo has been strongly hinted at. For Kris Ajer, the prognosis remains a longer term one but having these two back will be huge boost. Moreso, if Yoane Wissa and Shandon Baptiste join them in the category marked ‘available for selection’. Whilst today may well be a game too soon, with international break next up the trip to Newcastle United could well see that later pair back in contention too.

As ever, Thomas Frank would speak about our opponents in respectful terms, urging caution if anyone is expecting to just turn up and take three points. He used his press conference to talk about the difficulty in opening up a five man defence, adding “I understand the expectation from everyone outside is that we will win. The reality is that the level between the two teams is so tight and it is all about the day. Every game in this league is going to be unbelievably difficult”.

As ever, the fans have their part to play. The atmosphere at Lionel Road has been immense this campaign. “Hell on Earth”, as Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell described the intensity. Also, and being honest, a little muted at times. Relatively speaking. Brighton and Leicester City in particular where tails dropped and there was as much focus on pantomime villain James Maddison as anything else. It was a point also picked up on by Thomas. Not to criticise but as much to emphasise the difference that keeping it loud makes:  

We have a big task ahead of us but I also think our fans have a big task. If we want to make this a fortress, and a hostile environment, it needs to be every single game. It can’t only be the nice performances against the big clubs”.

Will we win today? I think so. Will it be easy? No. If nothing else, there’s change everywhere and we know what that does to all of us who get sucked in by jinxes and keeping things consistent. For a start, there’s new a ball in the offing. The Premier League winter edition is now available for use. Whilst longer terms readers will be aware of our love for the traditional ‘orange’ variant (come on snow clouds, do your thing), one can’t deny that this one is eye catching. Nike’s one-of-a-kind design taking inspiration from the world of comic books. Apparently. Whatever the blurb, it feels as far away from the all time best balls ever (aside from 007’s bolas) the 1978 Adidas Tango and The Mitre Ultramax as it is possible to imagine. Yet, yet, yet…. it is so different it’s incredible. Let’s hope our play on the pitch is a stylish as the red, yellow and blue effort.

A new contender…..?

On a personal note, huge thanks to our Harry and the Community Sports trust. Earlier in the year, our commentator par excellence Mark Burridge hosted a Juniors Bees commentary workshop via Zoom. Remember when that was our only way to interact during one of the various lockdowns? It was a wonderfully engaging session and a great way to capture the imagination of our younger fans, who were afterwards invited to submit their own commentary efforts. All well and good, but things cranked up a notch when we received a phone call recently to say that two of the participants had been selected to spend an afternoon in the company of the commentary team, on the gantry, for their efforts in the respective age groups. And our H had scooped the junior section.   

Needless to say, excitement is in the air. With a responsible adult needing to accompany the respective kids, that role reluctantly falls to myself. Less responsible and more available. So rather than sitting in the North Stand, for one game only it will be alongside Mark, Karleigh and team looking out on all around from what is rumoured to be the best view in the house. Will changing seats make the same difference as changing ends before kick off? It’s a risk we’re willing to take and you can read more on Brentford official, here…

And finally, we don’t do match reports on these pages. Not in depth, anyway. There isn’t the time for that level of in depth analysis. On the flip side, there is a new column which will be running alongside this one in conjunction with our principal partner, Hollywood Bets. It’s different to what we normally do (albeit, will have the same level of typos and other nonsense) and is a first dip of the toe into a more analytical role. We’re not talking Phil, Rasmus and Matthew Benham’s super-computer levels of observation but a more traditional  fans’ take on ‘Player ratings’ after every game.

You can find the story of the season so far here and then there’ll be an updated version published after each Premier league game. Feel free to @ me when my take on who has done well is invariably different to everybody else’s. At the end of the day, Clive, it’s not an exact science. One man’s balls are another’s bolas.  

Balls, Q? Bolas, 007

Will injury blow impact title chances?

27 Oct

After Iheanacho lifts over, Pérez collides with Raya while trying to latch onto Tielemans’ pass – both are fine to continue as play resumes. Not my words, the words of official Leicester City Twitter on Sunday afternoon at 3.46pm. Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon.  After a few days of tests and scans with the medical department, I’m gutted to say that I’ve damaged my Posterior Cruciate Ligament in my left knee on Sunday. Not my words, the words of Brentford goalkeeper David Raya as it was announced he will miss the next four to five months recovering from the injury sustained in the collision with Ayoze Pérez. All of which means preparation form tonight’s game with Stoke City along with the Premier league clashes with Burnley, Norwich City and way beyond are now back to the drawing board. Huesca loanee Álvaro Fernández  will be handed the gloves with the Bees now minus our inspirational shot stopper. 

Bad news from social media

Urghh. Something had seemed odd during the game when Raya hadn’t run up to cause havoc in the Leicester box late on. The award of a corner kick deep into the 7(seven) minutes of injury time was met with exhortations from the crowd for the Brentford ‘keeper to push up and cause mayhem in the opposition box. Instead, we got a rather tepid limp forward and a holding position maintained well inside his own half.

The irony being this moment occurred during time added on to make up for all the ‘treatment’ required by our visitors during the regulation ninety. Supporters infuriated by opponents, and I’ll be generous here, making the most of every moment they went to ground. Collapsing like industrial chimneys after the plunger had been, err, plunged.

Plunge the plunger…..

Cripes. Even Harry had said to me at full time. “Dad. Do you know who men of the match should be?”   Err, ‘men’? I questioned.  He continued, “The Leicester physios”. Well said that boy. Well said.

The regularity with which they collapsed to the floor before making a full recovery had not gone unobserverd by H, us, the entire North stand and fourth official who would eventually hold up the board. My word, It was almost as though it had been a preordained tactic.

Channel your inner Fred Dibnah. Get the lead and go to ground. Run down the clock. Grind it out.

Channelling their inner ‘Fred’ was a success for Leicester

Nobody is suggesting there was any particular malice from Perez, btw. At the time it had seemed like another brave save from Raya. Watching back the highlights on Match of the Day, it didn’t even warrant a viewing. Indeed the most distasteful element aside from the pronunciation of Boo-moo (one to file alongside Canyos) was the celebration from James Maddison for what transpired to be his winning goal.

We’d given him stick all game, and understandably given his own combination of cosying up to the ref whilst playing in bowling shoes, so one can hardly blame him for milking the moment.

I want to be the villain,” he said at full time. “It makes it all the sweeter when I score up that end.”  If nothing else, it makes our rematch on 19th March all the more intriguing. 

Giving it back to the West Stand

Hey, you never know. By that point David may be fit again. Fingers crossed the anti-gravity treadmill does it’s thing. We have the consolation in the fact that no surgery is required. Brentford head of medical Neil Greig confirming that this sort of injury ”Usually heals well without the need for surgery. David has already begun using a brace specifically designed to aid this process.”  You can read that one in full on ‘official’.

Until that point, its a case of best wishes to David off the field and the same to Álvaro Fernández on it. The reserve ‘keeper, on loan from Huesca, now has a chance to establish himself in the battle for the gloves. Whilst nobody would want to get their chance in this fashion, it’s how football goes. The Olympic silver medalist already has a full international cap to his name and so hardly as though we are chucking Don Incognito into the mix. He will no doubt be desperate to hit the ground running and propel Brentford back into the race for the Champion’s League places. Or beyond…. Had The Bees got the decisive goal on Sunday, we’d be waking up this morning placed fifth in the Premier League. Such fine margins in a race which still has a long way to run.

If nothing else, the Directors of Football seem to have got this ‘talent spotting’ thing sorted out just fine. Whilst of course I’m desperately sad to lose David, and for such a long period of a season in which he was making an even bigger name for himself than already, at least there is comfort to be taken in the cover. What this means for the Stoke City game this evening, where he was sure to feature, remains to be seen. Roll on 6.45pm and the team announcements for that news. I can’t imagine Thomas will risk him with his first choice league ‘keeper now MIA.

Then we’re on to Burnley. To Norwich City. To Newcastle United and a long run of games in which David will need to join the rest of us on the sidelines. Looking on and cheering. A run of games where we play some of the biggest names and sternest tests in English football. So just like the season to date then. 

There’s not much else to say at this point. The injury has been confirmed and we can’t dress it up any. A top class player is out. A replacement with all the potential is in. Bring on Saturday afternoon when we see just what Álvaro can do. Until then, it’s a case of knowing that the entire Brentford family is behind David, thinking of him and hoping for a speedy recovery.

David Raya is a Bee.

Nick Bruzon

It was hell on earth. Could the same happen again?

24 Oct

Sunday morning and another early start. The eSpresso has been drunk, last night’s washing up done and the cat fed whilst the rest of the family still sleep. Even the cat.  Hey, never let it be said that yours truly doesn’t lead a rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. Yet all of this mundane normality will explode out of the blocks in a few hours time. Brentford host Leicester City knowing that victory combined with a win for Liverpool could propel the Bees to fifth in the Premier League table (one of the teams having to get some combination of points in the Spurs – West Ham game makes fourth just out of sight). Having performed so well in recent weeks, moreso seeing how fellow promoted teams have fared against teams we’ve taken all the way (Chelsea hitting Norwich City for a 7(seven) goal bracketing yesterday), means we go in to this one with tails very much up.

A typical early morning in TW8

Bloody hell. The atmosphere, and performance, in the Chelsea game (Brentford rather Norwich) were like nothing else. Then again, we said the same after West Ham away and the 3-3 with Liverpool. Every time you think that things have got as good as they can, the team and the fans rewrite the form book. Last Saturday evening had just about everyone channeling their inner Dean Smith. We actually did deserve to win. It’s a real ‘break glass in case of emergency phase but for once, it rang so very true.

Of course, the record books will show we didn’t. Ben Chilwell’s goal separating the teams. True enough. Talking to friends and colleagues last week, all anyone outside TW8 could say was just how the heck had we been denied at least a point? The reaction was almost universal. Match of The Day showing the collection of wonderful saves, posts rattled and last gasp defending that kept us at bay. Kudos to Chelsea, btw. They did what they needed to and won the game. Yet seeing them dismantle Norwich City yesterday put it truly into context. Perhaps even more dramatically than Watford being obliterated by Liverpool the week after we were denied a famous victory over the Anfield side by nothing more than an offside flag.

It was a case of less Canaries and more headless chickens at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea with their pedal to the metal. Norwich, stuck in reverse and about as clueless as a Glenn Hoddle punditry masterclass. Just as at Lionel Road, the game started with the Champions of Europe pouring forward. Unlike the game at Lionel Road, the opposition crumbled and had no idea how to counter (or even contain) their opponents. The half-time assessment that with some substitutions Norwich might be able to play for the draw (they were 3-0 down at this juncture, having previously scored just 2 goals all campaign) was about as far fetched as it was just plain stupid. Instead, all we got was the aforementioned bracketing.

Let’s be clear. I’ve no particular love for Chelsea. Or any other club. At most, a lot of admiration for Norwich after they way they treated our Harry a few years back. Likewise, today’s opponents given the much needed shot of footballing romance they gave us all a few years back. If nothing else, the proof that the ‘elite’ don’t have it all their way.

Good times at Carrow Road. Pre kick-off

Ultimately though, in our house it’s all Brentford. At the same time, seeing how the three promoted teams have performed against the best in the land shows such a marked contrast as one can’t help but try to draw parallels. The respective results speak for themselves.  Watford 0 Liverpool 5 to Brentford 3 Liverpool 3.  Chelsea 7(seven) Norwich 0 to Brentford 0 Mendy Chelsea 1. Last season’s performance in the Championship counting for nothing now we’ve all stepped up. 

The one clear difference being that we were at home for both. My word, home. Talk about making that advantage count. Talk about not just raising the roof but ripping it off. The noise levels being generated have been stratospheric. Gargantuan. Like nothing we’ve ever experienced before. “It was hell on Earth, the last 20 minutes” being the considered verdict of Ben Chilwell last time out. 

Hell on earth at Lionel Road, last time out

We may not have the financial clout to match but we certainly have the passion. I’ve been in stadiums where we’ve played European Champions and missed out on promotion by play offs. And the atmosphere at Lionel Road is ten times better than that. It’s just about getting the balance right.

We had it at Griffin Park, of course. Who could forget the denouement to the 5-0 against Birmingham City or that afternoon against Preston North End? Then lockdown came, we were all stuck at home and denied football for the best part of an entire season, not to mention the end of the one before. Yet upon return its almost as if all the frustration of missing out has been bottled and the stopper now released. Seriously, being part of these crowds has been as much cathartic as anything else. Makes the missing out and the early morning washing up all that bit more bearable. Mostly, though, it plays a HUGE part in stifling our opponents and making Lionel Road a place to be feared. A genuine fortress. 

Leicester City are about as tough as opponents get. Just like Brentford, they’ll have the top quarter of the table in sight and, of course, have experienced their own huge morale boost. Namely that of coming from 2-0 down in Moscow to stride out as eventual 4-3 winners. Jamie Vardy spent the evening on the bench, with the Foxes four coming c/o of Patson Daka. Joy, another goal threat to contend with today and Kasper Schmeichel a man mountain at the other end. Having finally said farewell to one top class shot stopper in Edouard Mendy, we’re straight back up against another. Nobody sad it would be easy at this level !   

Foxes in Europe. Laboured wordplay and a half hour spent on photoshop yesterday so damn well going to use it again

Can I call it? No hope. All we can say is that if the Brentford faithful keep it as loud as we have done all season then we’ve every chance of lifting the boys onwards and upwards.

The bookies have the Bees as the outsiders, plus ça change, although at least we are deemed a little bit closer than in previous weeks. To be honest, it counts for naff all barring curiosity. All that matters is how we hit the ground at 2pm – on and off the pitch.

The bookies give Leicester the edge

Bring it on. See you there. If nothing else, there are Panini Cards to swap. Our Harry has a stack of doubles and is all set for the 1pm swap meet underneath the Family Section in the North West corner of the stadium. You can read about that on ‘official’.

Fingers crossed, the team can match his, and our, enthusiasm…..

Nick Bruzon

Who wants it most? Who will hold their nerve?

21 Apr

So, play-offs it is. Hopefully. Not a typo. A 1-1 draw for Brentford with Cardiff City last night, combined with Watford picking up an absolutely crucial win at Norwich City, means the gap to second place in The Championship is now ten points with four games to play. Maths keeps that dream alive but, realistically, it is now time to regroup and rediscover our goal scoring form before a tenth bite at the end of season cherry. An unbeaten run now stretching to eight games with only five goals against (and two of those came in the second half switch off at Derby back in mid-March) suggests all is not as rotten in the Garden of Eden as many would have you believe. However, the inability to turn wins into draws over the course of the season – only Millwall have more than our 15 – is putting paid to any aspiration of going up via the direct route. That is, of course, assuming there is no last minute wobble combined with a surge from 7th (seventh) placed Reading. As we’ve been saying all year, this one is going to run until game 46. If nothing else, just look at what happened to Nottingham Forest last season when Swansea City stole up the blind side to beat them in a photo finish on the line. A seemingly unassailable position falling apart at the death.

As for the Cardiff game, Brentford began with the same starting XI for the third successive game. Ivan Toney and Marcus Forss at one end ; Christian Norgaard alongside Pontus and Ethan at the other. Again, we started brightly and built the pressure. Again there were chances. Again, we couldn’t convert. Marcus with the two clearest opportunities and both of which hindsight will suggest could have been taken differently. The second in particular crying out for Bryan Mbeumo to tap into the net from close range. Instead, the young Finn twisting his body to stretch for the ball and only managing to guide it over. Ivan Toney also came close after intercepting a slack backpass but Alex Smithies in goal for the Bluebirds pulled off a smart save to deny the Championship’s leading goalscorer a chance to add to his haul.

The Bees come close

0-0 as the players went in for their cup of tea and orange quarters. They emerged in much the same vein as they had ended the opening period. On top and pushing. Brentford being Brentford its never easy. Ethan Pinnock adjudged to have handled in the box just prior to the hour and Kieffer Moore making no mistake from the spot. A well placed penalty giving our visitors the lead. 

It didn’t last long, thankfully. The impressive Tariqe Fosu shooting from distance for Smithies to allow it straight through his hands just four minutes later. Get in. 1-1. The pressure continued. Chances followed with Sergi Canos coming closest. His own attempt to emulate Fosu moving wickedly through the air with ‘goal’ written all over it, only to be denied by the ball cannoning off the chest of Smithies. The ‘keeper with hands nowhere near it but thankful to see it bounce clear. Close but no cigar. Despite dominating possession (don’t even start…) further goals proved as hard to come by as positive support for the European Super League. Our own hopes of going up in second place dissolving as quickly as the fledgling cash machine.

Positives? Look, I am a glass half full type. No apologies for that. What’s the point otherwise? Life is tough enough without heaping further misery or negativity on oneself. On our day we are on fire and, for now, we are keeping things super tight at the back. The play-offs themselves are all about not losing and we’re very, very good at that aspect. The only thing that counts is getting over the line. 

At the moment we’re not playing as well as we are used to – no question. The key absences and enforced restructure playing a huge part in that although as was proven against Preston this set up can still find the net. Indeed, last night could have seen more goals had we found the rub of the green. I can’t cry over that but I will take comfort from the fact that this advance towards the play-offs is the opposite of last time out.

Then, we were always playing catch up on automatic. Impossibly so. We had a wonderful run of form, building game after game, to put us in contention before it dissolved in the final two defeats against Stoke City and Barnsley. The chance of automatic in our hands at the death only to see it surrendered in such tepid form after that wonderful late surge to even put ourselves in with a chance. Our hopes built up into a wonderful fairy tale ending to life at Griffin Park before being so cruelly denied. There was an almost resigned inevitability about what would come next and, of course, whilst we got one over Swansea City in the semis, the final at the W place was as frustrating as the end to the regular campaign. 

This time around we are the hard team to beat. Brentford have only lost 7(seven) games all season. Nobody has a better record on that front. The wins may not always come but get the ball to Ivan and the goals flow. Get Josh and Rico back (one can dream) and our attacking edge goes up tenfold.

So, for me, there are two choices. Petulant stropping, gnashing of teeth and wailing. Shouting ‘Frank Out’ and blaming him for all our perceived woes. Cursing the campaign as a disaster and writing our team off as though it was already dead and buried. 

Or… back our boys for the last 7(seven) games. Making sure that we first get over the play-off line and then see where we ago from there. Try telling Derby County or Birmingham City that football life is bad. Our situation is ten times better than their plight. I’ve no doubt Wayne Rooney and Harlee Dean would trade positions with us in a heartbeat if such a thing were possible. I’ll keep on backing our team and our head coach for promotion until that chance is gone. For now, it remains very much on even if it will require us going through that dreaded end of season lottery. 

Yes, it IS frustrating. I was convinced automatic was in our hands. It still could be but we are now relying on Watford failing to pick up a single win against Millwall or Swansea City. Likewise, us winning four games in a row (including that penultimate game with the Hornets). Much as I am an optimist I am also a realist. Football is full of surprises, that’s for sure, but one of this magnitude at this late stage would seem unlikely. The again, pressure does strange things. A win for the Bees at Bournemouth on Saturday lunchtime combined with Millwall beating Watford makes it interesting. Both results are possible although the broader sequence of fixtures still make it unlikely. There’s no way Watford will drop that many points. For us to win all four will also need something huge.

Last night saw two ‘must win’ games. For us and for Norwich City. Neither happened and clearly the Canaries don’t want win the title. Farke out. Or should that be Farke off? In all seriousness, they’ve been great. Watford have been on fire in recent months. Both are going up. The only question being who wins the league, who gets the second automatic slot and then who wins at the W place. That’s all that counts now. That’s all we should be focussing on. For Brentford, automatic relies on maths. Promotion relies on us pulling together and getting over the line at the tenth attempt. 

I can already see Ivan walking up to the penalty spot in the 89th minute…. 

Is it coming to this once more….? (The place rather than the hats)

Nick Bruzon   

I want a squirrel and I want one now!!

18 Apr

Congratulations Norwich City. It is the only place to start a look at our own Championship fortunes this morning after their return to the Premier League was confirmed yesterday. Despite a home defeat, every favour possible was cashed in after Brentford were held 0-0 by Millwall, Watford lost at Luton and Swansea City left it late to salvage a draw with Wycombe. Not that these favours would have been needed in the longer term. The Canaries have been outstanding this season in terms of both ability and consistency. It has been apparent for months that ‘automatic’ would be theirs if they held the nerve. Instead, there has barely been a ruffled feather on that front. The goals and wins have kept on coming. The reward fully deserved.   

For Brentford, still all to play for but getting tougher every game. A frustrating afternoon no doubt and moreso given it followed that stonking 5-0 win at Preston last weekend. The same side selected yet, this time, the opposition infinitely harder to break down. Chances at a premium with the only one I can remember that from Marcus Forss early on in the second half. He did tremendously well to wriggle past two defenders on his way into the box before firing his shot the wrong side of the near post when squaring it would have been the easier option. In hindsight. One can’t blame him for seeing the goal open up after working the chance and our fortunes should have hung on more than this solitary opportunity. Instead, Millwall did what Millwall do. Indeed, they had their own chances to take an early lead before the game meandered to another stalemate.

The optimist in me could say it is now 7(seven) unbeaten. And it is. Another game where the pre kick-off presence of one-time albatross Clem in his Football Focus interview barely caused a murmur of consternation given his current form. His historical ‘jinx’ factor currently set to ‘positive’ and so, if anything, was a good sign going in to this one. On a side note, the interview with Thomas is well worth watching. Clem, his usual blend of gentle probing and charm personified. Thomas giving a much needed reality check on last season aswell as the challenge ahead for the remainder of this.

Clem and Thomas do their thing

It was a game that saw another point gained but, really, if there is any aspiration of automatic we need to be turning those into wins rather than becoming divisional draw specialists. Brentford are now fourth. One point behind Swansea City and eight behind Watford with a game in hand a visit form the Hornets still to come. Bournemouth on fire and tucked in behind us on level points. Their own victory at Carrow Road yesterday making it six in a row for the Cherries. Their own fine start to the campaign coming off the rails before bouncing back in some style. If anything, they are the danger team making that late surge although perhaps second place a touch too far out of the way.

For Brentford, all we can do is focus on winning then hope something happens in our favour. Tuesday night is the big one. No question. The evening of ‘must win’ games. A visit from Cardiff City as tough as any we could face. Oh, for a repeat of the Sergi Canos hat-trick against the Bluebirds back at Christmas. Of course, football doesn’t work like that and it is the first of our five remaining fixtures. Five high stakes games which could see this team become legends. From this point in the stress levels are only going to build. For everyone. How Thomas Frank manages that is going to be key to our fortunes. How he gets his team performing consistently a conundrum only he, and his staff, can unravel.

The same XI were world cup winners against Preston. Chance after chance created, and taken. Fast forward a week and it would have been easier to unlock a front door wearing oven gloves and a deep sea diver’s helmet than it was the Millwall defence. The doom and gloom in the air at full time totally disproportionate to a team that are still sitting fourth in the Championship. I’ve largely been off social media these last two weeks. Not even having the heart to update these pages. I love talking about the Bees but seeing all the negativity is just doing my head in. I’m  done with what, at times, feels little more than arrogant entitlement from a group of Veruca Salts throwing their worthless opinions around like spoiled brats hurling toys out of a pram. 

I. DEMAND. AUTOMATIC. NOWWWWW.

I’ve no real issue anyone putting the boot in if they can back it coherently. Make a case for what they feel is going wrong and, more importantly, what they might realistically change. Instead, its nothing but bullying of individuals and the same tired, lemming like phrases:

Bottle jobs.

Frank Out.

Canos / Marcondes / Jensen (delete or add as applicable) is sh*t.

Should have bought over January (I’d love to know who and how). 

Then there’s Tariqe Fosu being feted as the saviour of the team. He IS good, very good, no question. Yet one player does not win games on his own. One player is not the be all and end all of our chances. The responses to yesterday’s final result being announced on Twitter saw so many of the the usual suspects doing the usual thing. Forgetting, also, that a campaign lasts 46 games rather than something determined by the latest round of results.

Look at who is injured. Look at how we do things. Look at the pressure on everyone. On every club – something seen in yesterday’s results. Instead of whine, whine, whine how about actually backing your team? Save the post mortem for later, if it is really needed.

I’m pretty much done with Twitter and Facebook for the moment. Yesterday illustrated that just perfectly – shouldn’t have looked at the full time update but a few beers in the sunshine helped pique my curiosity later in the day. The return to The Griffin, seeing old friends and discussing football in person just wonderful. Another positive to be taken from the day. Sadly, the same can’t be said about social media. I want to enjoy my football, no matter how hard it is at times. How tense. How excruciating. Not have it dragged down by bitching. So I’m done. Let them shout into the void. I’ll go on there if it suits me and that’s it.

The replies to this. Only Wilf talking sense

We are on the threshold of greatness. Whilst only a moron would fail to recognise things are ten times harder for us than they might have been, getting out of the Championship is one of the toughest things possible. Twenty four teams fighting for three spots. The calibre of opposition and budgets of those who have parachuted down from the Prem illustrate it in some style. That’s before you get to those well established clubs. The pressure on everyone is immense. We saw that with the sequence of results that came in this weekend. It was a lost opportunity for Brentford but, then again, also for Watford and Swansea. Perhaps even Norwich City who would have been confirmed champions.

Instead, it is all eyes forward to Tuesday and that other must win game, for Norwich at home to Watford. To be fair, even a point hands them a title that is now only out of their grasp by virtue of mathematics and goal difference. I’d love them to do it if only for what it then means for Brentford, of course. As Thomas Frank said in his interview with Clem (and if you haven’t seen that as yet then you can, no should, take a look. There’s a link here) I think it is for Watford to lose but of course we need to do our bit.” 

Of course. The absolute priority has to be us getting our act together first, rediscovering our cutting edge and then seeing what else happens. Starting with Cardiff City on Tuesday at 6pm.

Nick Bruzon