Tag Archives: Norwich City

Decisions to be made. Will we get off the mark today?

23 Sep

Matchday. Winless Brentford travel to, erm, winless Bolton Wanderers with Dean Smith in confident mood. He used yesterday’s press conference to tell us: “In terms of how we play, then more of the same will certainly put us on the road to getting a win“.

Agreed, IF we keep up the good bits for a full 90 minutes. IF we are able to change how we play should things not be going to plan. IF we don’t need to rely on refereeing decisions to sink or save us.

As a management team and playing squad those people out there pulling the strings and kicking the balls need to take collective responsibility for performances. It’s not the fault of the paying supporters who, being honest, have been remarkably fair. Whatever has been said on social media where the keyboard warrior is king (and nobody forces anybody to read that), there hasn’t been any dissent where it really counts – the game.

Outside of the Norwich ‘performance’ in the cup (and I use that word at its loosest after we’d aped the Marinus/Oxford farce), there’s been none of the booing or moaning one might expect for a side at the foot of the table and without a win after almost 20% of the league campaign.

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No real booing to date.

It was interesting to note Dean used his briefing to also note this, saying “On the whole, our supporters have been very patient” as well as adding that “expectation and pressure is only built up from outside. The pressure we put on ourselves in the eighth or ninth game is no different to the first game”. You can read this in full on ‘official’

Expectation IS building up on the outside, Dean. Of course it is. This is our team and we want to win. Especially given the much touted quality of our squad. Indeed, I expect a win. Wins even. No question. I’m realistic enough to think the title may be a step too far but does that make me a bad person for hoping we should be able to pick up three points every now and again?

Even prior to the transfer window closing, where we still had the likes of Maxime Colin and Jota available. Stupidity at the back against Bristol City and Nottingham Forest saw us pick up 1 point instead of 6. The opening periods in the games at Ipswich Town and then the visit of Reading should have had us out of sight. By all accounts we dominated Aston Villa and were unlucky not to leave that one with a W.

So today is the day. Today IS the day. The BBC tell us that super computer SAM, the Sports Analytics Machine, is calling this as 54% chance of an away win. Having checked my online bookmaker (for research purposes only), they see Bolton at 5/2 and the Bees at evens for the win. However, having done that I made my excuses and left. If Mrs. Bruzon is reading, no bet was placed. Honest.

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SAM calls this one as ‘away’

It won’t be as simple as the odds make out. Dean was the first to acknowledge how determined Bolton will be to break their own duck whilst admitting that he’s “clashed swords with Phil Parkinson and Steve Parkin many times. You know you are going to be in for a battle.

With our head coach confirming there’s still no Sergi Canos or Lasse Vibe, it’s a case of as you were for his selection options. Which two of three play at centre back this week? Surely Josh Clarke to push up on the right ahead of Henrik ?

Does the (currently) misfiring Neal Maupay keep his place up top? Could there be a start for Justin Shaibu who was denied a beauty against Norwich by the thickness of paint on the inside of the post. Curse that meddling groundsman. Had it not been for his attention to detail we might have scored. Or how about goal scoring Ollie Watkins?

As for midfield, the impressive Romaine Sawyers was off this season’s pace against Reading but I’m sure he’ll be back in alongside Ryan and Nico with the likes of Kamo and Josh (M) on the bench.

And this is as much our problem as Dean’s . Just who is the starting XI? Who is the preferred team? It’s great having a squad but you also need some consistency. Chopping and changing every game , whether forced by circumstance or through deliberate choice, is not an ideal means of playing football.

But if we and Dean (at least, in public) don’t know, then you can be sure Bolton do. And, being quite honest, whatever pressure and expectation there is I still think we’ll have far, far too much in us for this one.

Prediction time: I’m with SAM. Dean will be able to sleep easy tonight. The Bees will open the gap over Bolton to five points and, with Tuesday’s visitor Derby County hosting Birmingham City, there could be further distance made between us and Brentford reserves. Gary Rowett will no doubt be desperate to prove a further point to his former employers and it’s a result that I for one could also get behind.

It’s one theory. I hope for all our sakes that at 5pm it proves to be the correct one.

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Dean Smith – hopefully he’ll inspire us to victory today

Nick Bruzon

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As cup draw shows what might have been, where do you stand ?

21 Sep

As one last piece of fall out from the EFL cup defeat, Brentford fans now know who we would have been drawn against had we beaten Norwich City. With the Canaries having been handed the seemingly plum tie of a trip to Arsenal, I’ve seen several supporters bemoaning our own missing out on a trip to The Emirates stadium.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t even watch the draw this time around. The overly convoluted methodology used for rounds 1-3 had long since sapped any interest I may had had. That, and nothing to do with our capitulation against Norwich, were the reasons that an early night seemed an infinitely more palatable option. As such, it was a case of waking up to Arsenal this, draw that on my Twitter timeline this morning.

Yet at the case of formally labelling myself as the most boring man on the planet, rather than a visit to Arsenal the reward for a Brentford victory would (by my rough calculations) have been a home tie with Bristol City. And that’s assuming the balls had then been pulled in the same order.

The numerical sequencing (with Tuesday winners numbered 1-11) would have seen the Bees slot in at number 2 instead of Bristol City. They’d have taken the place of ball 3, Crystal Palace, and the tie that now sees the Robins host the Eagles would actually have seen them heading to Griffin Park for the chance to earn a quarter final slot.

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A fourth round with Arsenal, Bristol City and Norwich. But no Brentford

It’s all conjecture. Free to concentrate in the league until January, our own immediate future sees the trip to bottom club Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, followed by Tuesday night’s game with Derby County. It’s a shame from many respects as a fourth round tie at home to a fellow Championship club would have presented a wonderful chance of progress. Mind you, we’d have said the same prior to Norwich City visiting and look how that ended up. A 3-1 defeat and one of the worst penalties ever seen.

Head Coach Dean Smith has already said his piece on how the third round ended up, telling BBC Radio London: “It’s not relevant (in terms of morale) at all compared to Saturday.”

Whether he would be saying the same thing now, having seen how the draw has panned out I do wonder. Likewise, I’m surprised he doesn’t think a win would have been good for the buzz around Griffin Park. I guess that’s why I’m the numpty on the terrace and he’s the head coach.

Still, there’s no point crying over a split milk (cup). Norwich deserved it. We didn’t. Here’s to a morale boosting win on Saturday instead. Three points at The Macron now very much the order of the day and, as Dean also noted in that BBC piece, “Bolton is very important to us and we’ll have a lot of fresh players come back for that.”

I’m not going to avoid the elephant in the room here. As is typical in this situation, I’ve seen some supporters calling for a change. That Thomas Frank or King Kev should be parachuted into the head coach role. For the record, my own thoughts are anything but at present. Putting aside the constant references to bad luck, refereeing and our own ‘wonderful’ performances, this is not the time or the place.

With a set up that includes two directors of football and multiple coaches, we win or lose together. We’ve even had a specialist in the provision of strategy, leadership, cultural engagement and performance management solutions and skills join the board with the announcement yesterday that Monique Choudhuri has been named as a club director.

With our current football philosophy, one man should not be made the solitary scapegoat for current results. Nor should he take all the plaudits when things go well.

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#WelcomeMonique ?

Let’s not forget that over the summer we were told how wonderful the scouting set up had been in helping bring in all these wonderful new players. And we have undoubtedly picked up some real gems over the last few seasons. Albeit it’s quite understandable that Dean is the focal point for how things go on the pitch. That his role is to pick the best team for the job. To have a consistent side. To motivate them. A side selected from the players he has had made available to him by our set up. And in my opinion, on Tuesday he got that all wrong.

Equally, his role is to get the best out of what he has. To say the right things when results don’t quite go to plan. I don’t get the ‘self-pity’ excuse thing. I don’t agree that we are yet to play a team better than us in the league. Four draws and four defeats tell you everything you need to know on that front. But I do think he is coming under an undue amount of flak at present. He is a head coach that has guided us to top ten Championship finishes over his two seasons in charge. For a club that has made no secret of the need to sell to survive.

If Dean can settle on his best XI, and pick it. If Dean can find a Plan B rather than subs by number or giving those like for like entrants to the field of play just a few minutes when the game is all but lost. If he can get some luck on the fitness side where the returns of Sergi Canos and Lasse Vibe alone would be huge, then expect things to change.

Roll on this week’s press conferences. I’m not a journalist but, if I was , my first question to Dean would be – who is your starting XI if everybody is fit? Followed closely by, when are we going to get a win?

Here’s to the weekend when hopefully we can find out.

Barbet pen Norwich

Tuesday happened. Move along

Nick Bruzon

Out of the cup but where next?

20 Sep

Brentford 1 Norwich City 3. We’re out of the EFL Cup after a night in which we were never even close to being in it. Hey, let’s be positive though. At least Bolton Wanderers lost ahead of Saturday after their long trip to West Ham.

Dean Smith would later describe the second half performance as being “insipid” but I’d also question if he watched the opening period.  It was a 45 minutes punctuated by strange refereeing decisions and a Bees team who were second to just about everything. Even spot kicks as, when presented with the ultimate lifeline and a chance to haul ourselves back into it at 1-0 down, Yoann Barbet blasted his penalty so far over the top that it’s now in low earth orbit.

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Barbet’s pen. (Inset: now)

But then we’ve a tradition of centre backs hoofing dead balls over the bar. See also that ill-fated period of giving spot kick duties to number 26 ( a player who, ironically, missed one for Burnley last night as they lost out against Leeds). Likewise Miguel Llera and his attempts to channel Sam Saunders but which were more akin to Jonny Wilkinson. Why not just give it to a striker? A player whose job it it to strike the ball. To find the back of the net. Subsequent free kicks would suggest the Frenchman’s radar was somewhat ‘off’.

Yet let’s not hide behind one missed penalty. Even before then the writing felt on the wall where, with three B-team players making their first starts, those experienced heads picked by Dean needed to stand up and be counted. To guide the debutants. Instead, they went awol. Instead, the head coach was unable to do anything beyond take tips from Thomas Frank and occasionally lift his arms in frustration.

If Yoann was impersonating Jonny then this was almost like watching the ghost of Marinus past. And in places it was almost like reliving that ill-fated Oxford United tie from a few seasons back.

At a time when we should have come out all guns blazing in the second half, we fell even further behind. Just six minutes were on the clock after the restart when Mario Vrancic doubled the Canaries lead with a free kick curled over the wall and under Luke Daniels. His first had come just ten minutes into the opening period following a very soft penalty decision awarded to Norwich. But they took advantage of their opportunity; you can’t knock them for that. We wasted ours to the extent that even the Met Police were sledging us.

And at 2-0 down, the game was up. Brentford, who had been second best for most of the first half, didn’t even bother. Only Justin Shaibu, on for the totally ineffectual Neal Maupay, coming close with a curler that bounced back off the inside of the post. At least, until Josh Clarke popped up with our consolation goal in stoppage time. But by that point Josh Murphy had already made it 3 for the visitors.

As a means of psyching ourselves up for Saturday and the trip to Bolton, this was less a shot in the arm as us shooting ourselves in the foot. Unless, of course, it was an attempt to deliberately mislead any watching scouts. Truly, this was a soul destroying experience. Akin to what I can only imagine it would feel being force-fed Mrs Browns Boys for 90 minutes.

I could sit here and pick this apart but what’s the point? If you were there, you saw it. If you weren’t, then know that Norwich City were totally up for it and deserved their win. Likewise, know that should we pull our socks up and pull a result out of the bag on Saturday then I have no doubt this one will be forgotten about as quickly as it happened.

We’ve strength to come back off the bench, for sure. That’s the advantage of having a squad which gets stronger each transfer window. Just who plays? Whilst injuries haven’t helped his cause, Dean seems no closer to knowing his first team and this is going to be our 9th game in the Championship. There’s only so long you can experiment for.

Get it right and he’ll be a hero. Get it wrong and the few boos we heard at full time last night could well become a crescendo.

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Dean Smith – nice trainers ; tough challenge

Nick Bruzon

A historical hat-trick awaits in the League Cup. But which way?

19 Sep

We’ve a return to league cup action tonight with Brentford looking to put what management see as the bad luck but wonderful performances in the Championship behind us and reach the fourth round of this tournament.  If so it would, incredibly, be just the third time ever. Standing between us and, even more incredibly, a draw that will take place at a normal time on a normal channel (Sky Sports news , following the Manchester United v Burton tie) are Norwich City. But can we get past the Canaries to reach a place we’ve been to only twice before ? For the record, 1982-83 and 2010-11 : losing at Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City respectively.

Well, if ever there was incentive to go for it then it has to be tonight. Putting aside our previous form in this tournament, victory would see us into the last 16 of a trophy where the unfancied teams have, historically, had a little bit more success than in the FA cup. Who could forget Bradford City (of league 2) getting all the way to the final in 2012/13 after beating Arsenal en route, Swindon lifting the silverware in 1969 (agasint Arsenal) , Luton doing the same in 1988 (also: Arsenal) whilst the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool have lost to lower league opposition on more than regular basis.

Yet for Brentford to find themselves in Wednesday night’s draw with a chance to do the same, first there is the small matter of Norwich City. It would be fair to say that last season’s Championship fixtures were amongst the most disappointing of all those games we played. Coming amidst a woeful run for both teams, the Bees didn’t even attempt to dial in performance as we were thrashed 5-0 at Carrow Road in early December. It was the proverbial game where we lucky to get nil and, it would be fair to say from anyone who had the misfortune to sit through it, that this really was one of the low points in an otherwise exciting season.

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So bad at Carrow Road last season that 1 on 3 outside the box became a penalty and 2-0

It was a performance only matched in the return fixture at Griffin Park on New Year’s Eve. That one finished 0-0 in a game where both teams were lucky to get nil. Even the prospect of sneaking out early to watch Mrs Browns Boys and Jools Holland bringing Roland Rivron out of cold storage for the annual ‘hootenanny’ seemed tempting at one point. Well, it didn’t. Nothing is that bad but this game did run it awfully close.

Yet from that point the Bees exploded into form. Despite rumours of Scott Hogan’s departure we started to get the wins and the performances in. The FA Cup against Chelsea aside. That one was less Mrs. Brown’s Boys and more Len Goodman’s Partners in Rhyme (and if you haven’t seen that one yet then please, don’t. Bad doesn’t even begin to describe it. Think budget level Catchphrase on acid with Len channeling the worst of a bad dad wedding speech).

Hogan even managed a goal against Birmingham City before injury his buttocks, apparently, and finally moving to Aston Villa.

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Mrs Brown. If December was bad, NYE wasn’t much better

Could we emulate the same tonight? Could the cup help motivate a Championship campaign where despite the efforts of the team and the self-belief of our head coach, results are not going as one would hope. Could this be the perfect fillip going in to Saturday’s bottom two clash with Bolton Wanderers? Reaching the fourth round, let alone a tie with likes of Manchester united, Arsenal or even Birmingham City – that latter one for more reasons than you could shake a stick at – would produce a fantastic buzz around Griffin Park at a time when perhaps it may come in handy.

Personally, I’ll be happy just being able to watch a fourth round draw without the need for an intravenous drip of double espresso (with an s, there’s no x . Restaturants, try using a dictionary) to help me through the night.

But for that to happen then we need to win tonight. Given we’ve only done this twice before in our entire history then let’s not take anything for granted. Indeed, I saw a stat yesterday (thanks to Jonathan Burchill on twitter) that said we’ve only even reached the third round three times. Burnley (1960) and then who else but Norwich City (19968 and 1991) as the teams to halt our progress.

Either way there’s going to be a historical hat-trick tonight. Will it be our third trip to the fourth round or a trio of Canary infused defeats at this stage?

At 7.45pm, we find out. See you there.

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Espresso for the draw? Give me expressb. Or preferably just Sky

Nick Bruzon

If you promise the earth, then you’d better be able to deliver.

3 Sep

The morning after the morning after the night before. Jota, Harlee and Maxime Colin are still at Birmingham City and have left Brentford. It wasn’t a bad dream. It really happened. There’ll be more than a few eyes on the Championship’s 20th placed team when they visit Norwich City on Saturday. As there will be on the Bees for our own trip to Aston Villa.

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It really happened

So what to make of it having had 48 hours to take it all in? What do we think after Phil Giles has undergone a very gentle probing from Ciaran Brett? That, on a YouTube video that we’re probably all seen already but is further below.

Well, initial feelings from yours truly were of understanding our ‘model’ yet also a feeling of utter deflation at the way it has been implemented this time around. So close to the line of looking like we’d have an incredible squad, this has happened. Feelings of confusion as to how this tallys up to those previously quoted statements that included the proclamation from Rasmus that the goal is to get stronger each transfer window. Feelings that, whilst obvious, it really is just all about the money. I wrote a column about it – you can find it here – which has generated a lot of reaction. It was angry. It was passionate. It was what being a football supporter is all about.

It was packed full of typos. I apologise. Try writing on an iPhone in a Belgian hotel room. But sometimes, thoughts need to be documented. Moments need to be captured and that’s how I was feeling about what happened between Brentford and Birmingham City at that point. I’m certainly not going to apologise for giving a damn about a team I’ve supported since 1979. I know Matthew Benham can’t keep pumping money into the club to prop it up and revenue needs to come from elsewhere. Yet the whole thing felt so cold, so calculated, so businesslike and it hurt. That’s as much from the players.

Reading Jota’s subsequent letter he may aswell have just published a tweet saying ‘Kerchinggg’. “The football industry is a volatile one and I think my departure was the best move for all concerned” he told us in his latest farewell.

Really Jota? Really? I’d rather you hadn’t bothered. You’re just hurting us now. We know how passionate you can be and how much love you have. This is agent speak.  It was as opposite to “This isn’t ‘goodbye’ but more of a ‘see you later’ or ‘hasta luego’ as we say in Spain because I have just extended my contract for an extra year.” as one could imagine.

In time I’ll remember all those wonderful memories. Right now it still all feels too raw. Birmingham City can afford to pay him a reported £40k a week, We can’t. Simple economics and you can’t blame him for taking it. Yet after all the love for the club. All the support offered when we’d supported his loan return to Eibar, something which in his own words at the time, was “based solely on personal circumstances” , there was a thought that perhaps he might sign another year’s extension. Pay back that love and loyalty or even give the Premier League a shot with Brentford.

Yeah, I know. Cloud cuckoo land. I’m a supporter. I care. There’s the obvious mistake. It is based on fantasy rather than the balance sheet. That’s not how football works in the real world. This week has shown us that in spades. Without passion and heart it is nothing more than a money making machine. We emotionally invest in these players, we get their names on our shirts and then they chip off for the next big pay day. That’s football. It happens. It hurts.

But taking 48 hours away from the last column, it has given the club a chance to say a few more things. The video with Phil Giles has been published in which he explains how the reasoning for the sales was to keep the money coming in before contracts expired. That it had always been the plan to buy over the summer and sell just prior to the window closing. “Strategically it’s the ideal way to do it. Sell them late and buy them early.

As noted in that previous column, I know this is how football, especially at Brentford, works. I know we’re all about ’sustainable’. I understand a lot of what Phil, who acknowledged that fans will be deflated by the moves, was trying to say.

But what was as telling as anything else was what the video didn’t say. Whether because Phil wasn’t asked or couldn’t answer.

Fairplay to Ciaran for asking if we were stronger after this window. After a pause, the answer was a less than convincing one. “Well we retain a squad of young players. I don’t see weaknesses in our squad. I don’t see finished players. I see a strong set of B-team players ready to come through. So from that point of view it provides a really good platform. Not just on the pitch but for the sustainability of the club in the future. It’s not an old squad who’s depreciating in value

By which I read it as : No. But hopefully down the line we will be.

Phil spoke about how Harlee had stepped up when number 26 was sold to Burnley. How we’d survived the Scott Hogan sale to Aston Villa. Indeed, we’d immediately gone out and thrashed them.

I’d love to have found out why we chose to sell three players to Birmingham City. What the strategic thinking in strengthening a team that sit just above us in the table was? Or were these simply the best/only offers for the players?

Phil says his piece. Very much like the Curate’s Egg

Reading Maxime Colin’s article in The Birmingham Mail he claimed that there had been offers from France that the club turned down. And he’d been unaware of the wider wheels in motion: “It wasn’t a plan or something prepared in advance….
“It wasn’t something prepared in advance and I wasn’t told about them, especially Jota which I didn’t know until the end”.

You know what? It feels somewhat redundant asking about it now. Phil’s video is quite clear about how we operate. Bring them through, sell them on and pay the wages at the club. That the definition of a post window squad is somewhat of a fluid one, open to interpretation. This is how Brentford FC works.

However, it would be nice to know what our aspirations are. Is Championship survival the way forward? At least until the stadium at Lionel Road is built? If that prediction from Rasmus of being in the Premier League by the end of this campaign is to come true, then selling established, settled players aren’t the actions of a club looking to make that step up. At least in the immediate short term.

I feel for Rasmus. He’s come out with some key mission statements that Brentford fans will not forget. If you promise the earth, then you’d better be able to deliver. Yet there has been no attempt to realign those aspirations. Short of the phrase #bignewambitions being airbrushed from history (and that’s no bad thing in anybody’s eyes). Why not just come out and talk to us? Speak to us openly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. And again. And again.

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So here we are. The squad is what the squad is. No amount of wailing or gnashing of teeth will change that. I for one will be 110% behind the players when they run out. As noted on Friday, we have newcomers Kamo, Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins already doing great things. We’ve got Ryan back in the team, the centre back situation is clearer and Romaine Sawyers has come out the blocks flying. The option of Flo Jo and Sergi out wide is a delicious one. Start to get the wins under the belt against Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Reading then this will all be a storm in teacup. Move along, the model works.

Let’s just hope the model doesn’t break….

Oh , and if Norwich City are reading (they aren’t ) you’ve no idea what a boost it would be at Griffin Park if you could please pick up three points next Saturday.

Nick Bruzon

Brilliant Bentley, play-offs, clappers and a special guest in the programme. What an afternoon.

30 Apr

Well, that was some afternoon. Brentford travelled to Fulham where a point was probably a fair result in a game we were lucky not to have gone in three or four down at half time but which ultimately ended 1-1. That they didn’t win will be the least concern for our hosts . With Leeds United going three down at home to Norwich City before eventually managing a point, those results mean that barring a staggering swing in goal difference, Fulham have reached the play-offs and we’ve another trip to Elland Road. And off field, did anybody pick up a copy of the match day programme…..?

First up though, congratulations to Fulham. Yes. It has to be said. A full house at Craven Cottage saw a cracking game of football as the hosts set out to ensure Leeds couldn’t catch them. What happened was as afternoon that will go down as on of those ‘I was  there’ days – for both sides.

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A full house saw a great game in a wonderful atmosphere

Easily one of the best teams to visit Brentford this season (Fulham, not Leeds), Saturday saw them come flying out of the blocks as they looked to get the win they needed to secure a play off spot. With Brentford on the back foot and being carved open for fun, it was only a matter of time before the first goal. Tom Cairney grabbed it after eight minutes and that was, surely, the cue for the floodgates to open?

With the Bees rocking, chance after chance came. Floyd Aite in particular firing so very high and so very wide when clean through. A second goal would have probably been fair on the balance of play but possession, stats and chances count for jack if you can’t put them away.

And sure enough, goal of the season contender Nico Yennaris stepped up. An interchange of passes with Konstantin Kerschbaumer saw the sweetest of finishes into the far corner on the diagonal from just inside the box.
1-1 and the Bees took the noise up another few decibels.

And a good thing too. The goal, obviously, but the even louder support for an already vociferous away following. Anything to drown out those infernal clackers/clappers. Those things that, if you check out the video highlights (and Sky Sports have their version up now), sound like hundreds of charity buckets being rattled.

But with Brentford having hauled themselves back in to it, charitable donations seemed to be the order of the day. How goalscorer Cairney didn’t restore Fulham’s lead I still have no idea. He was left totally unmarked, and I mean totally, 8 yards out but could only guide the inch perfect cross well wide of the goal. Daniel Bentley wasn’t even forced into a save.

Moments later, another chance. Referee Darren Bond awarding what seemed, at the time, a totally innocuous penalty against the Bees. The ball had been crossed in and was pinging around the middle, going nowhere, when he pointed to the spot.

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View from the stand. Penalty – obv

Even watching it afterwards, Yoann Barbet does make contact with Stephan Johansen but only as the ball had been delivered into the heart of the crowded penalty box.  Generous would seem very much the verdict on this one.

Step up Tom Cairney with another chance to let Fulham retake the lead. Step up Daniel Bentley to do his thing quite magnificently and show just why he is up there as a serious, serious contender for player of the season. Diving low to his left he not only pushed the ball clear but then made the bravest of second saves as he threw himself amongst the onrushing boots and onto the ball.

Yessss!  The away fans erupted. Again. The clackers were drowned out. Again. Fulham had seen another gilt edged chance spurned. Again. Daniel Bentley, you beauty.

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View from the stand – Brilliant Bentley does his thing

And with that, half time. Checking the scores saw Leeds United 3-1 down and as good as out. Despite our best efforts in the second period, both teams had really given their all and it couldn’t match the pace of the first. The highlight being a debut for Zain Westbrooke who, along side full backs Tom Field and Josh Clarke really marked a positive embrace of those who have come up from the youth set up and B team.

Sure enough, with the 90 played out and Leeds United all but shooting themselves in the foot, the hosts were happy enough to stroke it around their defence and settle for a point. Brentford fans stayed to applaud the players off (Lasse Vibe, Yoan Barbet and KK amongst those handing over their shirts and really taking in the moment – do we need to read anything into this?) before going off to settle for a pint. The fans, not the players.

Off the field, two moments of real note. Firstly, Matthew Benham taking to Twitter. Always a good thing when this happens, he put the kibosh on any prospect of Lionel Road Clackers.

Like Goal Music, another thing that will have to reside in the drawer labelled : Do not open. Ever.

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And secondly, forgive a bit of self-indulgence.

Back in January, my hitherto unseen identical twin brother Brian Guest saw a tweet from Fulham, looking for home supporters to participate in the ‘Your Club’ section of the matchday programme. This could be amusing (he told me) and applied. One thing led to another and along with a photo of Brian sporting the Spall ’87 Brentford away shirt, a series of tongue-in-cheek answers were submitted. Surely this would never get past the editor?

But it did. Brian’s selection was swiftly confirmed, “A while off but appropriately enough, for the Brentford game”.

Seriously? Had they actually read the answers?

A reminder of the 4-0 defeat at Brentford.  Mention of the recent 4-1 home hammering administered by Stuart Dallas, Alan Judge, Jota et al. The Intertoto Cup – prestige and honour.

It went on. The wonderful Michael Jackson statue appeared. The Pizza Hut shirt. The Richard Osman / Pointless ’joke’ –  something that should contractually be met with tumbleweed these days.

Surely somebody would then look at this and rumble it? Surely?

But no. Before even reaching the Cottage, one Braemar Road observer (and fellow fan of the World Polo finals – thanks!) had already been in touch. It had got through. Commentator par-excellence Mark Burridge then took to Twitter advising likewise. And on reaching the Cottage, there it was (part of which you can see below).

Big thanks Fulham. Seriously. The game may have ended 1-1 but all three points to the Bees off the field.

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Nick Bruzon

Cardiff. We lost. And? It was sunny.

8 Apr

Cardiff City 2 Brentford 1. Apparently. Come for the football; stay for the sunshine and Cardiff beach. On a day that saw brackets in the Championship as Norwich City beat Reading 7(seven) – 1, we are clearly at the ‘relaxed’ end of the campaign.

Those who travelled to the Cardiff City Stadium were treated to as non-commital a stroll in the sunshine as one could expect. Perhaps it was just the net result of playing 3 games in 8 days but, with mid-table safety assured and QPR 6 points behind the Bees, this one had all the feel of a pre-season friendly.

A late shout for a penalty aside, when surely Alan McCormack was felled on the edge of the box, there was little to get the blood pumping. But perhaps this alone is testament to where our team are and where we have come from.

What’s that you say? We should accept a defeat like puppies rolling over to have our tummies tickled? At the same time, whilst I can’t imagine anyone having that specific thought, the point is more a long term one.

Sure. Brentford lost. However we’re now a regular mid-table Championship team and, moreso, one with every potential to really push on next season. The post Hogan era is one which has offered nothing but goals, points and exciting football.

I’d love to have won. I’d love to have pulled Fulham ever closer to us. But we didn’t. At the same time there was an acceptance about the game. Cardiff offered nothing. Nothing.

We Are Hoilett‘, declared the big screen at one point. Whilst perhaps true, Brentford were no better. In that whilst we equalled the Bluebirds, even taking the lead as half time approached thanks to the mercurial talent of Sergi Canos, it was what felt like our first real attempt at goal. To Cardiff’s none. A lot of huff. A lot of puff. But no penetration. Neil Warnock nullifying the attacking threat of the Bees as Dean Smith was unable to find a plan B.

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But hey. Sergi had done the business. Despite the reluctance of the City scoreboard controller to acknowledge our goal, Brentford went in at half time a goal up. Surely this would be enough?

Sadly not. Failure to defend another corner (remember Burton?) was a gift to the Welsh hosts before many of the visiting fans had returned from their half time tea and a wee (other drinks/activities are available). And from there, the die was cast.

Despite Dan Bentley doing his very best, it was soon 2-1 to the hosts before everything reverted to the pre-season feel. And from that point, nothing. From either team. The Bees had the odd sortie forward, one culminating in the foul on McCormack, but there was little or nothing to get the blood pumping.

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There was a big hint outside the ground

That’s no real complaint. We’ve no divine right to win everything. The players must be on their last legs and have done nothing in recent weeks than offer encouragement for next season. Now, the season is all but at an end. Although there are still plenty of highlights left.

Good Friday at home to Derby. The trip to Barnsley where our own Buzz has the chance to avenge his alleged defeat to Toby Tyke in our early season mascot race. Then there is the small matter of games with QPR and Fulham.

Whatever the time of year. Whatever the season. Whatever our league placings. Whatever the division. Those are games where nothing but a Brentford win can be the aspiration. Games where we know how incredible a win for the Bees can feel. Games where defeat can be that emptiest of sensations.

Think of Stuart Dallas at the Cottage. Romaine Sawyers at Loftus Road. Likewise, Alan Judge being pressed into that ‘false 9’ position a season earlier. When it’s great; it’s incredible. When it’s bad then there are no words.

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View from the terrace – didn’t he hit that well

We may have lost today, but the season is still ending on a high. It is an odd feeling though.

From a personal perspective I’ve never been to an away game where the entire vibe was so relaxed. From both sets of fans. About the most that got Cardiff excited was the funfair in the car park. Perhaps one to give a wide berth to when Lionel Road is built. Even Billy Grant of Beesotted fame (and it’s always great to see our favourite fan group out and about) was in stealth mode with ne’er a selfie stick in sight. But at least he was here and still doing the much loved podcast thing. Have mobile phone, will travel.

With Simon Moore and his Sheffield United team earning promotion to the Championship today, perhaps it was ironic that we spent a sunny day in Cardiff, very much in beach mode.

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Come for the football. Stay for the newspapers

Nick Bruzon

This is one mother I never want to see again. Mrs Brown is no alternative to Brentford.

26 Mar

Sunday 26 March. Mother’s Day. Mothering Sunday. Not a day for Championship football or Brentford, although purely due to the ongoing Intenational fixture list that saw Gibraltar go down in Bosnia last night and England hosting Lithuania this evening. Yet with the boys from the Rock kicking off at 5pm, and no highlights to show from Griffin Park later on, there was a gap in the TV schedule last night that could only be filled by one thing. BBC1, 9.15pm and a new series featuring everybody’s (I beg to differ) favourite Irish mammy. Yes, it was time for : All Round to Mrs. Brown’s.

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Mrs Brown. Tongue clearly not in cheek

Regular readers of this column will be aware of my ire when it come to Mrs Brown. And now, somehow,  (s)he had been given a prime time slot with a new twist – a chatshow / audience participation event although still keeping all the zany characters that, apparently, we know and love.

Genuinely, I don’t get it. I have tried before but, to be honest, the man dressed as a woman act died many years ago. Yet despite the baffling lack of genuine laughs, the awards keep coming Was I missing something? Had I served it a horrendous injustice in previous columns? There was only one way to find out. The answer was a categorical ‘No’.

To be fair, looking around cyberspace before hand , there was sufficient warning to watch something else. Likewise, when I shared this plan with one New Road wag his suggestion was a simple one, “Prime time to do something else.

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Warning came far and wide

But no, despite the scepticism I settled in. I wish I hadn’t. The theme tune sounding like something rejected from a 70’s sitcom as the composers of Terry and Mildred, assuming not dead, are now licking their lips at the prospect of a forthcoming royalties cheque. This, accompanied by lemming like ‘clapping along’ from an audience who must have been prozac’d up to their eyeballs to get them into the studio.

An opening ‘gag’ of crack/craic confusion brought tumbleweed to my sofa but the sycophants in Studio B lapped it up. There were definitely drugs involved  – that or  the BBC had just borrowed the laughter track (and jokes) from Last of the Summer Wine.

An old man asleep in an armchair chair (something which got its own laugh) then saw the audience in hysterics when Mrs Brown, gave him a ‘shower’; with a can of air freshener. Including, for which the audience reached its most tear screamingly manic, his groin. This, a moment not peaked until the subsequent reference to Delia Smith with a penis. All the in the first 135 seconds.

I just hope Cliff Crown washed his hands after their last boardroom encounter. Him and Delia, not Mrs Brown. (To the best of my knowledge Brendan O’Carroll’s not guested at Griffin Park before).

How about her (yes, I’ll play along) guests? Pamela Anderson and Judy Murray . The former limping through a flaccid script involving cup size (tea, of course) and David Hasselmuff that would have made Baywatch look like the complete works of Shakespeare.Before Scotland’s finest appeared, we then had a VT from obligatory Irish guest, Louis Walsh. The music mogul a man one suspects would turn up to the opening of an envelope and then provide obligatory reference to Simon Cowell.

Not even the wonderful Judy Murray was able to dignify this with any class, despite her best efforts.This is no reflection on her but more reference to a show which was the consulate example of the oft heard phrase,’You can’t polish a turd‘. Her on screen arrival being railroaded by a man dressed as a woman – this time Baywatch era Pamela

Smiling is over rated”, said Judy at one point. Watching this, I couldn’t agree more.

Roll on next week when the return of the Championship calendar and Football League Tonight on Channel Five gives us our sanity back. And that’s a phrase I never thought I’d say.

All Round To Mrs. Brown’s is currently up on the I-player for another 29 days (should you be feeling masochistic).

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Poor Judy. And Pamela. And us

Nick Bruzon

The craziest day in football history? Bees top the lot as Clem and Bournemouth set the record straight.

19 Mar

No. It wasn’t a dream. I’m awake. Brentford really did come good in the most incredible style to turn a 3-1 HT deficit into a 5-3 win at Burton Albion. Back on 3rd May 2015, the Last Word published a column entitled: Was this the craziest day in Championship history? as the Bees secured a play-off semi-final with Middlesbrough and Bournemouth pipped Watford to the league title in the most dramatic of denouements. But yesterday saw all that come crashing back to the forefront of the memory for many reasons. Nonemoreso than the return of Middlesbrough fan and Last Word cult hero Clem. Of Clemwatch fame.

But we can only start up where we left off last night and the result from Burton Albion. If not as significant as that afternoon back in 2015 where our own defeat of Wigan, matched with just about every possible result going our way, saw the Bees reach the play offs for the Premier League, this was one that is at the very top of the list of “I was there” games, Purely in terms of what was a ridiculous afternoon it was from a Brentford perspective.

If you’ve seen yesterday’s post-match column we’ve done that one. What a quite spectacular game of football to have witnessed. Following it from home was stressful enough, I can only imagine what it was like being there. An afternoon reminiscent of celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup at Leyton Orient? Winning the fifth round of the FA Cup at Blackburn in 1989? That game against Wigan in 2015?

Only those in Burton will truly know how good this one felt but if social media is anything to go by then it can only have been up there with the best of the best.  There’s been plenty for those missed who out on this one to look at via the world of Twitter and other sources although, perhaps, in retrospect it was always going to be a special afternoon when Burton gifted Brentford an omen such as this.

Are Beesotted setting up in Burton?

Billy (Grant) of Beesotted fame wasn’t just spotted on the side of a building. He was one of many loving the moment Sergi Canos popped up at the railway station on the way home. As you do.

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Billy and Sergi. The afternoon’s excitement showed no sign of stopping.

Billy wasn’t alone. Just when you thought Sergi couldn’t be any more excited to be back at Brentford, his impromptu photocall proved us all wrong on that front. How Norwich City must be kicking themselves at acquiring, then falling too use, such incredible talent and incredible enthusiasm. Presumably the Spaniard has now got home or is he still obliging the supporters with more photos?

Sergio does it again. And again. What a man.

Bees photographer Mark Fuller caught the moment below as sweetly as one could hope. The next best thing to actually being behind the goal.

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Whilst his partner in media crime (not literally) Sean Ridley proved that sometimes, three words are all you need.

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But perhaps it was the EFL themselves who hit the nail on the head in regards to yesterday’s events.

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Yet to truly call yesterday incredible we also need to look at Bournemouth. Specifically because  Eddie Howe’s team beat Swansea City 2-0 at Dean Court/The Vitality Stadium.

On paper, no great surprise given The Swans precarious position but dig a bit deeper and it might not have been such a ‘gimme’ as first imagined.

Back in that 2014/15 season, aswell as charting Brentford’s first Championship campaign the Last Word ran a side feature called Clemwatch. It was a feature borne out of the sudden realisation made, as most are, in The Griffin.

Namely, that whichever team ever popular BBC roving reporter Clem (Mark Clemmit)  featured on The Football League Show would subsequently fail to win that afternoon’s game.

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Clem – never shy to mix it up in terms of reporting locations for The Football League Show

Was there any truth to this? Being the jinx conscious football fan (magic pants, lucky shirts, not shaving over a winning run are all par for the course) this needed study. And so over the course of that season Clem’s form was observed from the first week. Surely it wouldn’t be true. But it was.

Aside from some genuinely entertaining features, Clem finished up with a record of 7(seven) wins from 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford.

Clem was at Vicarage Road to see if the Hornets, entertaining Sheffield Wednesday, could match Bournemouth’s result to be crowned champions. Both teams were winning with the BBC clock showing 90 minutes. Then, it happened.

Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished at 1-1.

Whilst I’m sure that Watford fans will be more than pleased just to have gone up, I do hope Eddie Howe sent a big thank you to Clem. The effervescent reporter may have doomed Watford although, and it has to be said, he brought a lot of joy to viewers along the way.

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Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

And that was it. With The Football League show disappearing from our screens the following season to be replaced by Football League Tonight (please, please, please never forget what was served up as replacement to Manish and Clem on that first episode) his work in that particular field was done. TV rights meant the BBC would focus on the Premier League and with Brentford failing to beat Middlesbrough in that play off semi final (or any game. Ever. It seems) we went our separate ways. Until yesterday.

With Clem finally on Twitter (@MarkClemmit) he’s been a recent ‘follow’ and, mid-morning, popped up with the announcement that Eddie Howe would be his interview subject on that morning’s Football Focus.

Cue good natured banter to a TW8 based Bournemouth supporter and Mike Grella fan about her team’s upcoming fate. The jinx would surely strike again? Yet the response was a surprising one. Not from Carey but from the man himself, defending his own recent record with the tongue in cheek note that times are changing.

That's me told, then. Clem is back. And better than ever.

That’s me told, then. Clem is on better form than ever .

And sure enough, they are. Bournemouth’s win sees Eddie Howe now joining the ranks of Sam Allardyce and Paul Lambert in being blessed by Clem. The jinx has reversed.

What can you say, but:

i) Sorry, Clem.

ii) Congratulations Clem.

iii) Thanks for being a great sport, and

iv) Should the worst happen to Middlesbrough then we can’t wait to see you at Griffin Park next season. Just make sure that if you have a mic with you, it’s pointing at Dean Smith.

And, of course, if you’d like to read more about our past three campaigns and the full Clemwatch story, then you can do so here.

Talking of Dean (puts crowbar back in pocket) we couldn’t finish without going all Ian Moose. Except without the pre-match catering obsession. It simply remains to say Happy Birthday to Dean Smith. Have a great day, my friend.

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Happy Birthday Dean Smith. Have a great day my friend.

Nick Bruzon

With a jinx lurking, can Dean make it so when Huddersfield visit?

11 Mar

What an afternoon it promises to be at Griffin Park. Huddersfield Town are the visitors as Brentford look to make it 13 points out of the last 15 and increase upon a goalscoring record that has seen us nab 20 goals in the 8 games since Scott Hogan departed. With the Terriers hitting the back of the net 14 times over the same period, this could be one to keep the scorekeepers busy and little Italian restaurants (by Brentford lock) in the public eye. With Brighton joining Newcastle United at the top of the Championship table following last night’s 3-0 win over Derby, nothing but a win will do for our third placed visitors.

So what can we expect? Short of any midweek injuries after our fine win at Nottingham Forest, surely Dean Smith has no choice but to name the same starting XI. Jota continued to grab the headlines but the incredible run from Sergi Canos to set up the second was my highlight of the highlights whilst Lasse Vibe continues to flourish up top since the departure of Scott and got two more goals.

There will no doubt be expectation on the terraces for Jota to prove a point after missing out on the Championship player of the month to Aiden McGeady of Preston. The Spaniard’s five goals, two assists and bucketloads of exciting play being deemed secondary to three goals, four assists and keeping North End within optimistic distance of the play-off pack.

Personally, I can only imagine Jota’s motivation being enjoyment rather than revenge or point proving. Since his return from that loan period with Eibar, he more than lived up to his word in that emotional farewell letter. Not only has he returned but he has come back bigger and better than ever. He gives the impression of a man who plays for the sheer fun of it and boy do the fans lap up his enthusiasm.

With Sergi Canos doing the same on the other flank (thanks to Alex Neil for sanctioning that sale and just not playing Sergi before his own departure form Norwich yesterday) these remain exciting times at Brentford. “I think it is a fun team to watch” he said yesterday. Spot on, Sergi. Here’s to more of the same today.

As for Huddersfield Town, what can we expect? Well, if the Bees were disappointed about our lack of award for Jota, we’ve been handed a massive boost by Terriers’ boss David Wagner being named manager of the month for February.

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David Wagner is the latest to face the ‘Manager of the month’ jinx

There can’t be a football fan the land over who isn’t aware of the supposed jinx/curse (call it what you will) that accompanies this award. Pick up the honour, lose your next game.

With Brighton adding to the pressure last night by moving 9 points clear of third placed Huddersfield, could the weight of this trophy further crank up the tension for the Terriers? Forget David. Once that award is presented Wagner of X-factor fame would have more chance of coaching a winning team than the recipient of the trophy.

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Wagner – remember him?

And what of the other big name for Town? Well, if it was a case of Brentford saying #WelcomeGraham last week (Gooch, that is, in the Bees player commentary box), could there be more star names making the trek to Mark Burridge’s lofty perch today?

Sir Patrick Stewart is, of course, an avid fan of Huddersfield Town and not averse to visiting Griffin Park. Yet with promotional duties for the new Wolverine film, Logan, currently occupying his time in the States, it seems he’ll be missing this one out (unless, of course, he’s hot footing it across to Heathrow on the overnight red eye).

Instead, we’ll have to be content with shared tweet of the week (at least, it was until that BBC news video went viral) for those wanting a glimpse of the man best known as Captain Picard or Professor X.

As for the Bees, can we make it 4 wins out of 5? Here’s hoping Dean Smith can make it so.(I’ll get my coat)

At 3pm, we find out. See you at Griffin Park.

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Sir Patrick Stewart – somewhat harsh from Shaz

Nick Bruzon