Tag Archives: Norwich

Who is The Masked Signer?

2 Feb

Take it off. Take it o… No, enough of that. At the start of a massive week for Brentford, the transfer window creaked shut with the loan signing of Winston Reid from West Ham, resplendent in face mask although disappointingly unchewed biro,  whilst there was a favour at Watford from the Loftus Road mob. We’ve got our own game at home to Bristol City on Wednesday (the game in hand on Swansea City) whilst Norwich City visit Millwall tonight and then play the, hopefully third placed, Swans in an epic showdown this Friday.

Winston joins

The signing of an emergency centre back was an obvious one. With Pontus Janson and Charlie Goode both currently out of action, it left us only Mads and Ethan as the regular starters. In Winston Reid we have a player with big league and International experience. A player who began his career at Midtjylland in 2005 (just how far back to Rasmus’ records go?) and has close to 200 games for West Ham. With a huge run of back to back weekend/midweek games coming up, having some extra experience and competition out there will be vital. His last action has been out on loan at Sporting Kansas City who let him return when that expired. Here’s hoping their loss is our gain.

The rest of the window saw loan deals tied up. Said Benrahma has now officially completed his transfer to West Ham (so we can put ‘loan update’ out of its misery), Patrik Gunnarsson, Jan Žambůrek and Luka Racic have returned to the fold. Samman Ghoddos has completed his transfer in. Those heading out for the short term  are Dominic Thompson, Patrik Gunnarsson, Ellery Balcombe and Halil Dervişoğlu.  And that’s it. Business concluded. The squad strengthened in our usual fashion – as much by returning B team members, that bit more experience under their belts, than anything else. More importantly, nobody out (let’s not forget that Said had already long gone). The squad now locked in and ready for the second part of the season.

I saw a tweet prior to the second half against Wycombe saying, “And some of you don’t think we need to sign anyone….? Deluded as f**k.” . Hmmm. Not sure I quite agree with that and whilst it felt grim after Admiral Muskwe got a second Wycombe equaliser just prior to half-time the second half proved (yet again) that football is a game of 90 minutes. That one early miss from Sergi Canos does not make him the devil incarnate as some would suggest. Wasn’t that a penalty earned and a blockbuster goal for the Spaniard in the second half? 

Sergi got my vote on Saturday ; Josh was first class

Where I would agree we had an obvious gap was in defence. You can only stretch it so far and any further injury would leave us brutally exposed. That gap has now been covered. I can’t see Winston stepping in to the team immediately but at least, now, we have extra options. Mads and Ethan don’t need to be run into the ground.

Elsewhere, Championship action took an unexpected turn last night when Watford missed out on the chance to go second. They went down 2-1 at home to the hoops from Shepherds Bush. Unexpected for sure but it leaves them  a point behind Brentford having played two games more. Should Millwall pull of something similar when Norwich City visit this evening it will leave that gap to the top as six points but with the same two games in hand. Cripes. The Championship just reeks of potential and has never felt more open. Yet whatever favours are delivered and results go our way, doing the business against Bristol City – a game already rearranged twice due to Corona Virus (‘suspected’ and actual) – will be the absolute priority.

That one kicks off at 7.45pm on Wednesday evening at Lionel Road. Here’s hoping Mark Burridge is already limbering up those vocal cords. I’ve got a feeling its going to be epic.

Nick Bruzon

Was this the performance that defines the season?

30 Dec

How good was that? Brentford with the king of comebacks. On the ropes from the off . Bournemouth raining early punches like Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. Our plucky heroes flat on their backs. Pontus scooping one off the line within seconds and, really, lucky not to be two down within the opening ten minutes. Yet the consummate display of determination, relentless pursuit of the prize and sheer balls saw the Bees turn 0-1 into an eventual 2-1 victory. Goals from Henrik Dalsgaard and Tarique Fosu sealing the points that saw us overtake Swansea City and move into second place. Norwich City, perhaps feeling they already had six fingers (one hand) on the league trophy, seeing the gap whittled down to just three points when full time came. It was a quite gargantuan performance of never say die football. Both teams giving it their all and, on this showing, sure to be battling it out for ‘automatic’ at the end of the season.

Fair play to Bournemouth. They flew out of the traps and should have been ahead within seconds. Dominic Solanke seeing Pontus somehow hyper-extend a leg as he chased down a nailed on goal before scooping it off the line to safety. Minutes later the same man had another glorious opportunity with Rico the one to this time hoick it clear after a butt clenching scramble. 

How Brentford hadn’t fallen behind is one to rank alongside the alleged popularity of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. Nobody knows or can explain. Instead, Brentford grew back in to it and we were off. Rocky picking himself up off the canvas to take the fight back to their opponents. A shot from Sergi Canos fired just wide. A trio of fine saves pulled out of the locker by Cherries’ ‘keeper Asmir Begović . Mbeumo and Toney working their magic. It was only a matter of time before the goal came and sure enough, it did. To Bournemouth.

Urghh. Dominic Solanke the man to finally get the goal his efforts had warranted. Credit to the player for picking his spot. The Bees defence carved open and no mistake made this time. 1-0 up and the visitors’ strength finally paying dividends. That midfield would have graced most top flight sides, let alone the Championship. Yet if anyone thought this was game over they were sorely mistaken. Mathias Jensen (the ultimate man of the match) turning provider for Henrik Dalsgaard little over ten minutes later. The Danish World Cup star heading home an equaliser that our performance may have warranted but which was in no way guaranteed. Nobody deserves to score. Unless, of course, you actually take your chance. And Henrik made no mistake with his.

1-1 at half-time and both teams, surely, well happy with that. Bournemouth probably ruing those early chances spurned but still alive and in it. Indeed, they started the second period much like they’d began the first. Pressure building, the goalmouth threatened but nothing of real substance coming. Dominance not rewarded with anything beyond recognition of their potent attacking prowess. Then Bryan Mbeumo popped up to do his thing and, with it, the game transformed. His work down the right legendary. A run into the box lit up with his dazzling footwork. One little back flick in the midst of this opening the Bournemouth defence like a can of tuna. His delivery across the penalty box absolute perfection. Tarique Fosu had already done his own thing to find the perfect position and by the time the ball dropped, he was given the freedom to gorge at the Bournemouth ‘all you can score’ buffet. One bite at the cherry was all he needed.

Boom. What a ball across. What a finish. Open the social media floodgates as the gushing began. And rightly so. The final ten minutes and additional time added on trickled by with no real fear of conceding. Pressure, yes. Panic, no. Game management to the max mixed with a couple of substitutions as the clock played out. Drago floored. Brentford triumphant. Thomas Frank making an emotional post match speech in which he’d note our awful first ten minutes, our efforts to close out the game and our opponents’ class.

The result was a cracker. Had we lost, then it wouldn’t have been fatal. Having won, it’s a wonderful way to end the year. It sees us breathing down the necks of Norwich City. Come on!! Where are you? Right behind. Swansea City overtaken ahead of their own game with Reading. The Bees now 16 unbeaten in all competitions. The ‘Frank Out’ brigade silenced once more. Instead, the u-turn of support that (yet) another win brings was evident.  

Next up, Bristol City on Saturday. Here’s hoping we have fit players. Josh Dasilva looked uncomfortable as he went off. Fingers crossed that was nothing serious. Only time will tell there. For now, though, we need to catch our breath. To marvel at a quite fantastic game of football between two top, top sides. Brentford took the points. Bournemouth will feel hard done by. Understandably. Yet I’ll leave the last word tonight to our Harry. Only 7(seven) years old but his bedtime summary of the game proving that age is no barrier to insight…

Harry: You know Bournemouth?

Me: Yes.

Harry: They must be devastated right now.

Nick Bruzon

Time to go ape once more?

30 Dec

Brentford are now fifteen games unbeaten. The 3-2 Boxing Day knockout of Cardiff City seeing us move to within touching distance of the top. Sergi’s hat-trick the stuff of dreams. Now Bournemouth await in a 5.30pm kick off this Wednesday evening. Both teams level on 38 points and knowing that victory will take them second above Swansea City, who don’t play until later tonight. Their game with Reading has an 8pm kick-off. Even a draw all see the Bees and the Cherries gain a position thanks to our superior goal difference. There’s everything to play for in the latest ‘Biggest game since…’ . A game made all the more interesting by table toppers Norwich City dropping two points at home to the Loftus Road mob on Tuesday.

Sergi got 3 out of 3 on, err, Saturday (I think)

I suppose we should be thankful there’s even a game taking place at present. With Corona virus seeing fixtures now being pulled across all divisions, Big ‘Sam’ Allardyce calling for a ‘circuit breaker’ hiatus to action and talk of tougher restrictions coming in at a national level, it may only be a matter of time before things grind to another halt. 

The plus point being it may allow everyone at our clubs to stay safe and restore some tired limbs. The down side being that Brentford are flying at present. The league and the cup have both seen us come into our own as the pressure has increased on divisional (and Premier league) rivals. The points gap being reeled in by some relentless displays and magnificent use of the squad by Thomas Frank. Those called in have more than done a job. Those who have been regular starters somehow maintaining their energy levels over a run of games that has been as exciting as it has been exhausting.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting Bournemouth to be anywhere near as strong as they have been this season. So many times we’ve seen clubs drop out of the Premier League and struggle to adjust to their new surroundings. With players being shed and talismanic manager Eddie Howe leaving in August, things looked grim. To the casual observer. Instead, they’ve carved out a run of form that has only seen them lose twice since the start of November ( Sheff Wednesday ‘away’ and a slip up at home against Preston. Hmm – I think we can all relate to that.) 

Like Brentford, they have continued to astound. To perplex. To amaze. A club no doubt as tainted with the ‘teams like’ and ‘little’ moniker as we have been in recent times. Their own top flight residence lasting for five years until the end of last campaign. We’ve all got our own thoughts on howe they got there, of course. Who could forget the team they put together when going up in 2014/15 – cripes, that must have cost them a fortune – but once there they more than held their own at football’s top table. Now, they are back amongst us in the Championship and on current form giving every indication that this will be as short a stay as possible.

Nothing would give greater satisfaction than getting the win tonight. Memories of Mike Grella flooding back once more. His name was mentioned during Mark Burridge’s commentary of the Cardiff game as Sergi looked to add a fourth goal to his, and the team’s, total. Instead he had to be content with ‘just’ the match ball and all manner of plaudits. I can’t see it being anywhere near as comfortable as that 6-0 victory back in November 2011 when the gorilla went ape, but even a turgid 1-0 will do me come full time. Chance would be a fine thing. Bournemouth aren’t going to just roll over and anybody claiming to know how this will turn out is a better observer than me. So that’s everyone , then.  

The Gorilla went ape – for one night only

If I had to call it, I’d go for Brentford by the odd goal in three. But I don’t. So I won’t. Even knowing who Thomas will start with is as much a case of car-keys in a bowl as anything else these days. Josh Dasilva and Tarique Fosu were both amongst those to miss out in the starting XI against Cardiff. Sergi is on fire but must be knackered. See also Ivan Toney and Rico Henry. Surely Thomas will go for what he’d see as his strongest option on current form tonight? For me, that read him opting for : Raya, Henry, Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Janelt, Dasilva, Jensen, Canos, Mbeumo, Toney. 

That’s my own hypothesis and the obvious one based on what we’ve seen to date. Who knows what Thomas’ longer term plan and tactics are?  Christian Norgaard doesn’t seem to be quite match fit after that prolonged injury but perhaps Tuesday and Spurs will do for him. Assuming the game even goes ahead. Equally though, one thing we can predict is that Thomas has cards up his sleeve and will be just as likely to mix things up. To try and catch everyone, including Bournemouth, cold. Cripes, who’d be a pundit or anybody trig to write something accurate. Roll on 4.31pm when the team is announced.

I have to be honest, I’m quite liking this 5.30pom kick off time. It’s totally untraditional but at a time when as many of us are able find themselves ‘working from home’ is a cracking way to move direct from the company laptop when the whistle blows directly to the sofa and TV. To start the night early and sill have time to put the kids to bed at full time. Plus it means we’ve less time to wait until the big match kicks off. Which given the way Corona Virus cases are spreading, can only be a good thing. Let’s enjoy this one before it is taken out of our hands.    

It’s a real six pointer. More than that, given the bigger picture impact. Twelve pointer? Double six pointer? Norwich City and Swansea, both in that immediate touching distance, no doubt hoping both teams can lose. Of course that’s not how football works and something will have to give at the business end of the table by full time. It’s live on Sky and i-player so, all being well, everyone has a chance to follow this one if you like pictures with your words.

Bring it on. See you there (in spirit). ENJOY !!!

Something has to give this evening, whatever the result

Nick Bruzon 

Time for a bit of Frank talking with each other.

25 Oct

How are we all doing in Brentford this morning? Presumably still smarting over yesterday’s defeat at Stoke City or looking onwards and upwards? To the visit of Norwich City and then a trip to Luton Town. For what it’s worth (not much, apparently), I’m past it already. All the pontification about the formation won’t change anything. It’s how we react to it collectively that matters now. This was one game and there was enough there in the second half to suggest that, actually, change can be a good thing. I’ve also now seen the interview with Thomas Frank – at least, the 2 minutes 53 seconds put out by the club. That’s below… 

Say what you want about Thomas’s answers but he can only react to the softball questions casually tossed to him. These are the times when the fans are desperate to hear his thoughts on what went wrong but it felt as vanilla a Q&A as could be delivered. Of course,’official’ aren’t going to spill the tactical beans, overly show our hand or hang the coach out to dry but a bit of pressure would have been nice.

Oh, for BBC Billy Reeves and some of his characteristic gentle probing. The killer question delivered with all the charm of Leslie Phillips apologetically wielding a sledgehammer.  

Billy Reeves (kind of) – a portrait of charm and that sledgehammer blow

For me, Clive, the key point to take from this one was in regards to our formation. Was it tactical? Done due to personnel reasons? Or a bit of both?  Thomas’ answer confirming the combination approach but giving some reasoning and future notice that things are likely to be similar when Norwich City are in town. 

We are struggling a little bit with injuries, especially in the middle of the park with midfielders. For the second game in a row we only had three midfielders available from the squad and we know its most likely to be the same on Tuesday.” Going on to add that, “It’s a long season. We’re playing a lot of games. We are fit, we are strong but its also about keeping that freshness.”

Read in to that what you will. More of the same to follow, presumably, but which same? Five at the back or Ivan and Marcus back together again? The difference between the two formations was obvious to all. Going for broke and opting for the later one which puts all our attacking eggs in one basket from the off but I’m sure something which would shut the moaners up. And I don’t mean about yesterday’s performance – which was rancid – but in general.

That, and dropping Sergi who seems to have become the social media target of choice. He didn’t have a good one yesterday but you could say that about the vast majority. Henrik had a stinker. All three centre backs were stretched and caught out of line time and again. There was no service at all to Ivan. Yet the enthusiastic Spaniard is one kopping it from all angles and seemingly the reason we don’t have a record of WWWWWWW. Hmmm. 

Nobody came out of the opening hour with any credit. But if we learn form it then perhaps no bad thing in the longer scheme. Stoke City absolutely deserved their win, regardless of our own shortcomings. The season is a long one and there are going to be more decisions made which we don’t agree with. Decisions made based on fitness, tactics and a myriad of injury related factors we’re just not privy to. Sometimes it will work. At others, like yesterday, it won’t.

As Thomas himself acknowledged, “In the end it wasn’t good enough ……It was not spot on in the first half for various reasons but to be fair we could have played 3-4-3, 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 7-9-13 and I don’t think that would have helped first half.

The one obvious positive has to be the role played by Marcus Forss. He can hit a ball but he can also read the game. Ice running through his veins, judging by the finish for his second. What composure. What calmness. It gave brief hope we could still pull something out of the fire and whilst it wasn’t to be, talk about impressive. Another one storming up the blindside to emerge into the light, a fully fledged Championship and international player. 

One from the official Twitter feed – the real shining light on an otherwise dark day

For all that Thomas has injury problems to contend with, what a nice challenge at the other end of the spectrum with both Marcus and Ivan banging them in for fun. Get the supply lines and formation right ongoing and the Stoke game could well be seen as a turning point in our fortunes, much like Stevenage away all those years ago.

Not that we’re in any form of crisis, btw. One shit hour doesn’t define a season. The key point to come is what we learn from it. In how we react over the next few games. I’m not joining those getting on Thomas’ back. Quite the opposite.  Of course people have opinions and every right to express them. Context is always nice. And justification , of course. 

For me, he knows this squad. He has a wonderful way of motivating players. Look at how last season went as we hit that wonderful run after the clocks went back. The players, head coach and fans in unison.

We’ve lost that, now. There is no physical support. No closeness. The bond broken thanks to Corona. Of course, every team has the same to contend with yet for for us at Brentford it was always a huge factor. That tight stadium and proximity of fans to the action was massive. Those post-match walkabouts seeing the symbiotic relationship between those on pitch and those in the stands growing ever closer. Geeing each other up to the point where we hadn’t even left Griffin Park and already couldn’t wait for the next game.

It is a massive advantage that has been removed from our armoury and with game following game following game, needs to be considered by those wondering why we’re not winning everything 5-0. Support and motivation from the stands are a massive thing for players. Everybody acknowledges that football without fans isn’t the same. Injuries bite and necessitate change. Tired legs are already obvious to see.

Thomas and the crowd have always fed off each other’s energy

It’s how we react to these factors that is going to be so crucial to our fortunes over the next month or so. Look at he bigger picture and we’re well, well set. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We have a fantastic squad and a passionate head Coach who, for the record, better not be going anywhere. That’s my opinion and you may feel it is wrong. Fair enough but as one fan to another, explain why. Explain what you would do. How you would cope with a relentless series of games that would test the fittest of players. How you would motivate players rattling around empty stadia.

Those, for me, are the challenges faced by not just Brentford but every club in this division. This Championship campaign is going to be one of the most open on record. Careful management of the squad will be key to success. This is what we are trying.

Life’s too short and too hard at present to lose it on negativity. That’s not me wearing a club hat (they don’t employ me and I have no obligation to kiss anybody’s butt). It’s me fed up with the constant moaning about a team who have a progressive set up, a passionate head coach and are only four points off second place.

That said, please let’s never play three centre backs again.

Nick Bruzon  

What happened ? A real rogue one despite late strikes back.

24 Oct

That was quite the experience. And not in a good way. Brentford went down 3-2 to Stoke City on an afternoon that was nowhere near as close as the scoreline suggests. A tactical reshuffle that saw three centre backs selected in lieu of the injured Pontus Jansson ended up with the Bees rushing to a 3-0 deficit. This, before Marcus Forss pulled back two late goals which suggested that if we are to tinker with the formation then going heavy up top rather than at the back may be the way to go. With Norwich City next up, could we start that one the way we ended this?

Close but no cigar

It was awful. The back five pulled out of position time and again. The left flank eventually exposed for the first goal after being torn apart on the other side. The right for the second. Brentford not even close. A (legitimate) shout for a first half penalty aside, we weren’t even second best in the opening period. The chance to level things up at 0-1 down was denied with both Dalsgaard and Toney seeming to be rugby tackled. As one North Stand observer would note, “Apparently not a penalty in the eyes of the man who blows his whistle like he’s on an Ibiza club night”.

Two down at half time ( Steven Fletcher and James McClean) saw Thomas Frank left with little choice but to revert to a more familiar strategy. I’ll defend Thomas to the hilt against the social media hate mob – coaching staff pick teams, not keyboard warriors – but today’s decisions seemed bizarre. Talk about throwing Charlie Goode in at the deep end. A new formation. New faces. And at Stoke City of all places. They were only going to play one way and, sure enough, they did.

But when we took things to the other extreme, kerchingg!! By then it was too late. We’d somehow conspired to go 3-0 down despite taking the game to our hosts as soon as the second half had begun. The more familiar positioning getting caught short and, instead, a push the other way seeing Marcus Forss and Ivan Toney playing together. Wow !! 

Let’s not pretend I would have had the cognisance to start this way. I wouldn’t have. Would you? Honestly?  Five at the back stunk from the off. And that was prior to kick off. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but going in the other direction was past the cusp of even this numpty’s expectation threshold. Yet, say what you want, it worked.

The first blasted home by the young Finn and the second, as we entered five minutes of storage time, converted from the tightest of angles. It was almost horizontal yet the finish was calmness personified. A Forss awakening to give us a new hope in front of the Obi stand. Despite two almost identical finishes, there was to be no further attack of the clones (ok, getting tenuous now). Instead, it finished 3-2 to Stoke with big questions to be asked before the visit of Norwich City on Tuesday.

Questions in a good way, I hasten to add. We lost. The reasons for this are quite apparent and, to be fair, easily fixable. The process that took us there one which I am sure will be ironed out behind closed doors. How many times in recent seasons have Brentford tried moving to a three CB formation before soon reverting back to the tried and tested?

That’s not to say there isn’t room to change things at the other end of the pitch. The Toney-Forss pairing one which offered a genuine Plan B. Unlike the defensive shambles and midfield holes that allowed Stoke to press up higher than Simon Cowell’s waistband.

We all saw it. It wasn’t great. Keith Stroud as random as ever. Every decision against / missed adding a further slap to the face when any help would have been gratefully accepted. Instead, we were left reliant on the man who will never be able to escape the mantle of that night at Bramall Lane. But we shouldn’t need the ref to turn the game. Not this much. Stoke City played us like a cheap fiddle and good luck to them. No sour grapes at their own approach. They were hardly going to sit back when we invited them on to us.

That’s me done on this one. It happened. We move on and go again. I’ve not even heard Thomas’s post match conference but will be keen to catch up on that one later. To this short-sighted fool, the reasons seemed apparent. Too many players going awol in an unfamiliar formation. Equally, it’s one game in a long season to come. Everybody is up agasint this relentless fixture list. I get the logic behind resting players. I don’t follow the mentality in switching things up to his extent. 

Perhaps that’s why I’m the numpty on the terrace rather than the Brentford head coach. Chin up Thomas. Chin up Bees. We can’t change what happened but we can look to the next games. And they start with Norwich City on Tuesday night.

Nick Bruzon

This is my last request. And have Beesotted seen the transfer vultures circling?

26 Jul

If you hold your breath, you can almost hang on until the season proper kicks off. Brentford have beaten Norwich City midweek. We host Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon as the final bit of prep ahead of ‘the big kick off’ ™ against Birmingham City. The squad numbers have been released and we’re good to go. All that is needed is for the accursed transfer window to shut and all will be good with the footballing world. Talk of West Bromwich Albion or Aston Villa nothing more than a passing reminder about the butt-clenching way in which business is now conducted.

What can we say at this juncture? Word on the street (and by which I mean Beesotted, so a ‘legitimate’ source in my eyes rather than the usual clickbait nonsense) suggests Romaine Sawyers is bound for The Hawthorns today.

Screenshot 2019-07-26 at 06.47.43

We don’t normally do rumours on these pages but Dave, Billy (Grant, not Reeves) and the gang are normally bang on the money when it comes to their information. £3million subject to medical is the fee in the air. With the centre of the park having been strengthened by Nørgaard, Jensen, McEachran leaving and Josh Dasilva getting stronger each game, one can see why this may well play out. Don’t forget, Kamo has been dominant there too. And with Romaine having a year left on the contract perhaps we have no real choice but to cash in on the silky-skilled midfield-maestro. (c) The Middlesex Chronicle big book of 80s alliteration (see also: Beleaguered Bees Boss).

dsc04043.jpeg

Romaine brings the ball out of the back

Whether it is a case of ‘done-deal’ of 2+2=5, remains to be seen, of course. The Beesotted boys are always a reliable mine of information so I’m only bracing myself for this one. Besides, it wouldn’t be pre-season if the previous campaign’s captain didn’t move on! And if it does transpire then it’ll be a case of trusting the DOFS, saying a huge ‘thank you’ to Romaine and moving on up. 

On the plus side, it does detract from all the talk about Neal and Said moving on. For now. With both players conspicuous by their absence over the pre-season games – even the 3-1 defeat of Norwich City – one can only curse those niggly injuries that have kept them out. Presumably that’s all it is.

No doubt the visit of Bournemouth tomorrow will see Thomas Frank trying out as much of his ‘first choice’ starting XI for Birmingham as is possible? Assuming he even has one. And that’s no disrespect to either him or the players but with the diversity of talent available, we are more and more approaching a position of choice in many berths. Whether it would be the supporter choice, of course, is another thing altogether. 

Neal and Said are without doubt amongst the first names on any and every Brentford fan team sheet. The flair and raw talent that both players have is undeniable. Their popularity unrivalled. Nobody can deny what they bring to the team and nobody wants to see them leave. If talk about Romaine is tempered by the fact that we’ve had the pleasure of seeing him grow over the last few seasons, to lose either or both of this pair after the impact made last season will be truly gutting.

No matter how much faith and trust I have in the upper echelons of the club, I can’t pretend it won’t be demoralising should either depart. Equally though, the ecstasy about somehow hanging on to beat the transfer window will be something else. 5pm on Thursday August 8th, that’s still almost two weeks, is when we have to hang on in there until. Nothing to it….

Next up, squad numbers. These have been now published although there are some noticeable gaps. Mainly at number 10 (unless that one has moved sideways and become 11). A shame that Marcus Forss wasn’t given this. Our goalscoring Force 10 from Navarone (as one Braemar Road observer noted) will have to wait for another day. Sadly.

I would also have accepted: Fox Force 5 but Ethan Pinnock has been given that honour. And with David Raya understandably bequeathed Daniel ‘David’ Bentley’s old number (sorry, Billy 😉 )(Grant), the cinematic trinity of bad puns has been missed as there can be no Air Force One. 

Screenshot 2019-07-26 at 06.25.12

Instead, we’ll just have to content ourselves with rushing out to get our number 19 shirts printed. Unless, of course, that news is confirmed. In which case it’ll be 9 or 21 for me. I’m trusting here. I’m convinced both will feature against Birmingham City next week. The transfer gods can do one! 

Screenshot 2019-07-25 at 20.09.27

Does this tell us anything…..?

Next up, and finally, this is the last time I’m mentioning this. It’s been a summer of me annoying you and you indulging me. The Last Word season review e-book (The Jaffa cake Shirt) has been limping off the cyber-shelves to ‘entertain’  – your definition may vary – dozens of you via the medium of kindle, i-Pod telephone or other electronic reading device. However, with all proceeds received from the £1.99 sale price going to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust I can only thank everybody who taken the time to download this already. 

I make no apologies for the fact that I’m still spotting typos in it. That some of the jokes are almost as weak as The Huddersfield ‘shirt launch’. That much of it has been seen before. Equally though, it does have new material in all the ‘Park Life’ programme columns (which have never been published on these pages) and, if nothing else, is simply a way to relive some of the exciting moments from last campaign as we wait for Harlee Dean and his Birmingham City team-mates to visit next weekend. Ahh, ten times better. 

Best of all though, it’s all for charity. I don’t like to overly bang on about ‘good deeds’ – that’s not my thing. But the chance to help the BFCCST, more than anything else, is why I keep on at you about getting hold of this. No more. You can now relax. I’ll be sending the BFCCST a postal order on Monday morning.

Just please go grab it now. You can download it here. Who knows, you may even enjoy it….

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Nick Bruzon

Bamford on thin ice after mayhem at Leeds. Brentford in limbo after mayhem at EFL.

29 Apr

What a way to finish the weekend in the Championship. Norwich City are up. Sheffield United are up. Brentford (and Bolton) are in limbo. Leeds United are in the play-offs whilst Patrick Bamford is flat on his arse after being allegedly floored by I don’t know who, or what, exactly in their game with Aston Villa that gave new meaning to the word controversial.

Starting with Brentford, three days on and we still have no idea if or when Saturday’s rearranged game with Bolton will take place. Or with what level of team. Not much else to say there. Everyone, from both sides, gets it. Let’s just hope that for everybody’s sake a resolution can be expedited. Whatever the direction of the eventual decision. Certainly, this morning’s update from ‘Official’ suggested a degree of frustration at the lack of any progress from the EFL.

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Draw your own conclusions

Next up, congratulations Sheffield United. Their promotion was confirmed on Sunday lunchtime as Leeds United could only pick up a point against Aston Villa rather than the win by at least 7(seven) goals which would have kept the race for second place mathematically alive going in to the final round of fixtures. It was the game which had everything that typifies the Elland Road outfit at present.

Accusations of dirty, cheating Leeds. Failure to win (see also Wigan and Brentford). Patrick Bamford going to ground like he’d been shot by a sniper ( see also: Brentford and the Keith Stroud non-penalty decision). Marcelo Bielsa maintaining his dignity and calmness whilst floating serenely atop a sea of madness.

I’ve seen the opening goal numerous times and am still torn. Yes. Kodjia was fouled but the ref never stopped the game. Play the whistle, not the ball is one of football’s most basic tenets. Some Villa players stopped but others continued. Even they weren’t sure . The real flashpoint being Tyler Roberts’ decision to play the ball through after the visitors had slowed up when it looked as though he was going to strike the ball into touch. That was the point when what followed should have been nipped in the bud.

One can well understand the reaction to that pass. It was something which the Sky commentary team described as ‘Disgusting’. Yet the mayhem which followed was even worse as Patrick Bamford went to ground looking like Ahmed El Ghazi had just emptied an entire can of pepper spray into his eyes. Instead, he was subsequently caught by the cameras pulling off an act of fakery that was up there with Ali Dia pretending to be George Weah’s professional footballer cousin. But by then El Ghazi had been shown red and the damage was done.

It did also beg the question as to what would have happened had Keith Stroud been in charge. Having called ‘no penalty’ when Bamford hit the deck against Brentford on Monday, would he have made the same call? Is Bamford more Bambi on ice? Or just the wrong player in the wrong place at the wrong time?

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Bamford and El Ghazi go for it

Regardless, Bielsa once more reigned supreme. Say what you want about Leeds United but he is the absolute boss. Literally and figuratively. As the inevitable chaos ensued, he did what Mr. Attwell  should have done and made sure his team kept the scores level. Albert Adomah was given the freedom of the Leeds defence (on purpose, for once) as he was allowed to run through unchallenged to restore parity.

Bamford may not have had a punch thrown at him but one can only presume he will have the book perform that task today. It was as embarrassing as Rivaldo back in the 2002 World Cup. A shameful, cringeworthy act that only poured more fuel on the fire of Leeds’ reputation.

The one positive to come out of this is Bielsa. Whilst Leeds have missed out, for now, could his persona prove to be the crucial difference once we get to the pressure cooker atmosphere of the play-offs? Moreso if we get the Villa-Leeds final that currently looks as though it could be based on league positions. If Sunday was tasty, just imagine what that one would be like……

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Was there another reason Bamford collapsed

Nick Bruzon

Plenty of great news and action despite the P-P. Have they fallen apart yet…?

28 Apr

I love the business end of the season. Saturday afternoon saw all sorts of promotion and relegation issues coming to conclusion with more to follow today. Despite Brentford and Bolton seeing their game called off by the EFL for those well documented reasons, there was still plenty for Bees’ fans to keep an eye on. Norwich City are promoted from the Championship. Sheffield United all but there. Leeds United now in need of beating Aston Villa by, at least, brackets today in an attempt to keep their mathematical ‘automatic’ hopes alive. Further down the league pyramid there was joy for Leyton Orient and tears for Yeovil Town. And what of Doncaster Rovers, whom we mentioned yesterday…..?

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It’s all over barring goal difference

First up, the fall out from the Bolton – Brentford P-P. The EFL have ordered that the game still be played, regardless of who the home side put in the line up. It’s a farcical scenario for all concerned with the real prospect of a men against boys match taking place, should it actually happen. Which I still can’t see being the case. Although if it did come down to the home side fielding youths / reserves then what an opportunity to give our B-team some genuine league experience. If nothing else, a sporting gesture that would see, at least, the game played on a level playing field.

With the whole footballing community firmly behind Bolton, there’s no real resentment here. More, frustration. Especially for the Bees’ fans who have shelled out on weekend travel. The plus side here being chief executive Jon Varney’s message that the club are now investigating ways of helping those supporters who had travelled.

He told Brentford ‘Official’ that, “I will be working over the coming days to find ways to compensate those who have had their day spoilt by the game being called off, particularly as it will, I’m sure, be difficult for some to get back up to a rearranged fixture at short notice.

At the top end of the Championship, Norwich City were promoted after a 2-1 home win over Blackburn Rovers. Sheffield United are as good as there following their own defeat of Ipswich Town.

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Congratulations (and happy birthday??) to my good friend Delia

The only team who can catch up are Leeds United, whose only chance of taking second place is to win both games, hope the Blades lose their final match but also overturn a goal difference that currently favours the Bramall Lane outfit by 13. Effectively, a double bracketing in each game will be needed. Whilst a 7(seven) goal margin at Ipswich Town next week is vaguely feasible, to do it against Aston Villa is a nigh on impossible task. You’ve more chance of Keith Stroud keeping his cards in his pockets for 90 minutes.

It is an incredible situation that United find themselves in, after such a strong start to the campaign. They were looking an absolute shoe in for promotion to the Premier League and, you know what, they still might do it via the medium of the play-offs. Yet as in seasons gone by, and to coin a phrase, “Leeds. Leeds are falling apart. Again.”.

The Easter weekend, especially the game at Griffin Park, was proof of this. Brentford were magnificent against a team who were second to everything. Yes. There may have been a penalty. To us aswell, after Ollie Watkins was impeded. Regardless of Mr. Stroud’s decision making, the net result was Thomas Frank playing Leeds like a cheap fiddle. I fully expect Dean Smith to do the same today as he looks to get a psychological advantage over his opponents going into that end of season promotion shoot out.

There’s simply no way Sheffield United can miss out from here. Indeed, there was a keen Brentford interest in yesterday’s game where the goals came from Scott Hogan and Jack O’Connell. More proof, if any were needed, of our consistent ability to find players who can then go on and do it elsewhere. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare when plying their trade in the top flight next season. 

In League Two, Yeovil Town saw their run come to an end with relegation to the National League (conference). There were few tears shed by the Griffin Park fans as the results came through. Six years ago, after Doncaster did that thing, Brentford faced Yeovil in the League One play off final at the W place. Whilst we did what we always do there, Gary Johnson made himself public enemy number one in TW8 doing what he did as his side edged past us and into the Championship. 

Coming up to League Two are National League champions Leyton Orient. No doubt they’ll have spent the night celebrating like they’ve won the FA Cup. And rightly so. If Bolton are suffering from shonky ownership at present, nobody needs any reminder of how things have played out in East London over the last few seasons. 

But for Marcello Trotta in that magnificent 0-1 (possibly one of the greatest Brentford performances ever) as we went up to the Championship, it could have been The O’s who took our place. Who knows how things may have turned out for both teams had it been then rather than us who claimed second place. For that, I am eternally grateful and moreso seeing the respective fates of Orient, Yeovil and Doncaster in the years since.

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What a game. What consequences

And talking of Doncaster Rovers….. Their draw and defeat for Peterborough saw them secure a League One play-off place. It’s going to happen. I’m calling it now. Final game at Griffin Park next season…….

Nick Bruzon

Leeeeeeds. Leeds are falling apart. Again.

23 Apr

Not just my words but those of the Brentford fans ringing around Griffin Park through most of the second half and well after full time last night. This, after the Bees beat Leeds United at home (yet again) by two goals to nil and, in the process, dealt a massive blow to the visitors hopes of automatic promotion whilst offering a huge boost to both Norwich City and Sheffield United in the top two slots.

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Sergi and Ezri celebrate

Whilst, naturally, anybody looking in will focus on Leeds United hitting the skids so close to the line (let’s not forget their incredible home reverse against 10 man Wigan on Friday) take nothing away from a Brentford team who were up for this from the off. One penalty shout aside, Leeds offered nothing. Even then, referee Keith Stroud called ‘no foul’ as Julian Jeanvier and Patrick Bamford came together in the box. Whilst it looked an iffy one for The Bees from where I was, on the half way line, the man in black was perfectly placed. Move along, nothing to see here.

But that’s football. They’re the breaks. We’ve had copious stonewall shouts denied this season. Duffers given against us. Ultimately, as was the case at Elland Road, a spot kick decision went our way. Leeds heads dropped. The Bees kept going and who else but that man, Neal Maupay, to give us the lead just before half time.

Sergi Canos (a deserving man of the match) played it through the middle to the talismanic Frenchman. He made no mistake as he got on the end and, running through on goal, steered it past Casilla for 1-0 Brentford. The crowd erupted as Neal made it deja-vu in front of the Leeds fans with a mirror of his celebration after putting us ahead in the reverse fixture. It was also a mirror of their reaction with several making hand gestures that, presumably, were to recognise how many times he had found the net against them.

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Pick that one out ! (thanks, Matt Davis

It was a strike that takes him to 24 league goals for the season, a figure which is the best from a Bees’ player since Nicky Forster reached the same total back in 1994-95. Only Tammy Abraham (Aston Villa) and Teemu Pukki (Norwich City) lie ahead of him on a Championship top scorer’s race that is sure to run until the very last kick of this season.

If the Brentford fans went in for their HT cuppas in ebullient mood, things were to get even better soon after. Sergi Canos doubled the advantage as he finished off a wonderful move involving Watkins and Maupay to dink it past Casilla for 2-0.

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Yessssss. 2-0 !!

The celebration from crowd and players alike said it all and was the perfect reward for a top class performance from Sergi. This was him at his very best although – to be fair – you could say that in regards to just about every player in the team yesterday. 

From that point there really was no way back. It was a two horse race where Leeds couldn’t even come second. Brentford played with confidence and calmness whilst Bielsa’s boys visibly wilted under pressure. When they did get through, Luke Daniels was authoritative. The defence an impenetrable wall of red and white. Mads Bech having his best game in a Brentford shirt by some distance. Jeanvier and Konsa were rock solid throughout. Moses and Rico pushing up the flanks with abandon. 

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View from the Braemar – Josh also impressed when he came off the bench

As for Romaine Sawyers in the middle. My word, it was one of THOSE games. Filthy flicks and silky tricks had the fans drooling. On this sort of performance I’ve no doubt that Dean Smith will be itching to get his hands on the player once more when the summer transfer window opens. It really was sublime performance and one of utter confidence.

There’s not much more to say here, really. Brentford were magnificent. We’ve beaten Leeds United more times than I care to remember in recent times. Last night was probably the best of these. Not only the way we played but a wonderful riposte to all this ‘tinpot’ jibes and conspiracy talk after the game back in October.  Don’t let one potential penalty call take anything away from how we played yesterday. The crowd were up for it from the off and kept going all game. Even Mr. Benham made his way on to the pitch at full time, heading down the touchline towards the dressing rooms.

The Championship promotion race may have a few more twists in it but I’m not sure where these will come from. Sheffield United play bottom club Ipswich Town next whilst Norwich City only need one more point to absolutely guarantee it. Goal difference for both teams is already significant as to make that three point gap from Leeds in third to  the Blades in second, effectively four. 

Still, that’s their problem. For Brentford, there are two games left to get the four points needed for another top ten finish. We’ll need results to go our way, too, but put in any sort of shift like we did yesterday and I wouldn’t bet against even that happening.

Bring on Bolton and then Preston for our last hurrah of 2018/19. If they’re even half as much fun as yesterday then it’s going to be a cracking finale. See you there.

 

Nick Bruzon

Can Brentford scupper promotion race as Championship chokepoint approaches?

22 Apr

Here we go again. The Easter Bank Holiday began with the 1-1 at Millwall (take a bow, Josh Dasilva – what a strike !) and now it ends with Brentford facing the prospect of a visit from Leeds United. With the Sky TV cameras pushing this one back to a 5.15 kick-off, one of the two automatic promotion could already have gone by the time Mr. Stroud waves his first card. Norwich City, already five points clear of Leeds in third, travel to Stoke earlier in the afternoon where a win will see them promoted and a draw as good as there (barring a monumental goal difference swing). Indeed, the Canaries could even finish the day as Champions should results – including a favour from the Bees and a slip by Sheffield United – fall their way.

So no pressure on Leeds United then. Although it is a situation that is as much of their own making after the quite incredible 2-1 home defeat administered by 10 man Wigan Athletic on what was a very Good Friday for Norwich and Sheffield United. That game saw the hosts miss a penalty before taking the lead but then conspiring to press the self-destruct button. It was the ultimate ‘deserved to win’ performance where the only reward available was ‘nil points’. 77% possession and 36 shots count for naff all if you can’t put the ball in the back of the net as, somehow, Paul Cook’s team did. Twice.   

The situation at the top of the Championship is now a quite intriguing one. Being realistic, Norwich City are home and clear. However, with Sheffield United and Leeds both locked on 82 points, it really will come down to two factors. Firstly, who can hold their nerve and pick up all 9 points? Second up, who can increase their goal difference over the course of those three games? With the Blades +6 ahead, as long as they win their final three then Leeds are consigned to the play-offs. Unless, of course, they have the ability to administer a 7(seven) goal bracketing at some point in the final few games.

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Things are tight a the top this morning

Football’s never that simple, of course. Look at our first season in the Championship where quite phenomenal results at Derby County (I’m still not quite sure who hapless Reading so comprehensively outplayed them) or Blackburn Rovers (where Ipswich slipped up) allowed Brentford to overtake both teams, and edge back into the  play-off zone on the final game of the season. I’m sure this race still has more twists to come. Pressure and expectation can do incredible things and it won’t be anywhere near as simple as either United just turning up to get their three wins.

If nothing else, there’s the small matter of Brentford. Naturally, the focus is on the visitors today yet we’ve more than enough points to try and prove. The fixture at Elland Road in October was one which had it all. THAT Neal Maupay celebration, a wonderful performance from Luke Daniels in goal and then the pain of an 88th minute equaliser from Pontus Jansson. His own post match reaction was one which then saw the player charged by the FA  (as were the club for fans throwing objects at Neal Maupay) after accusing the referee of ‘robbery’ and saying on live TV that the result felt a bit ‘shit’.  There was talk of conspiracy, too, as United’s seemingly unstoppable start to the season had begun to hit the buffers.

I saw an intriguing tweet from Beesotted yesterday, which is repeated below.

Draw your own conclusions from this and know that if weren’t already up for it, we’ll be even more so now. This one is already a game that is sure to be played out in a powder keg atmosphere. Leeds know they HAVE to win. We’d absolutely love nothing more than to see them scuppered by our ‘tinpot’ pub side. They’ve not beaten us at Griffin Park since 1950 whilst the last few seasons have seen United comprehensively played off the field.

Of course, past performance is no guarantee of current form. If anybody has the ability to motivate it’ll be Marcelo Bielsa. What a man Leeds have in the managerial hot seat and, realistically, the main reason they haven’t choked it from a promising position as has been seen so many times before. Instead, they’re up there on merit and will be gunning for goals against a Brentford side who, let’s be honest, are looking a tad ‘patched up’ at present.

Yet the inspiration of history, our own desire to still end the season ‘top ten’ aswell as the chance to get one over Leeds should be all the motivation we need. Will it be enough? Could Leeds wilt under the pressure? Who knows, but I can’t wait to find out

Quite frankly, in a game where Keith Stroud is in charge for the ref to barely warrant a mention then you know that the on [itch action is promising to be something special. And I can’t wait.

See you there.

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More of the same would be very nice

Nick Bruzon