Tag Archives: Old Trafford

Footballing gods serve up a chance for instant payback on Saturday. How will it go?

12 Aug

Saturday evening is almost here. Brentford host Manchester United in our first home game of the season. A game going out live across the world on TV. A game that sees us with a superb opportunity to carry on where we left off at Leicester City. A squad further boosted by the wonderful double news of Mikkel Damsgaard signing and then being revealed wearing our new third shirt. Our opponents, meanwhile, still smarting from their own opening day home humbling at the hands of Brighton and Hove Albion – (C) The Middlesex Chronicle Big Book of 80s alliterative headlines / Jim Levack. All the focus should be on the wonderful occasion it is sure to be. Yet, the footballing gods being what they are, the game has served up a further twist in the interminable tale that is the Christian Eriksen transfer saga. That, of course, being our first game back at Lionel Road will see him turning out once more – albeit this time in Puke green (if you believe the photos of United’s new ‘third’ shirt) rather than red and white. So let’s get that out the way and then move on. Hopefully forever.   

 

Damsgaard – new player ; new shirt

Nobody could deny the excitement in the air last season as the stories started to build that we may be making what was seen (then) as an audacious bid to help Christian pick up his career after that thing at the Euros. The thought of attracting a World Class player to Brentford just about as impossible as things get but that’s what we always do – make the impossible possible.

It was more tantalising a prospect given that, at the time, we were definitely in a form dip. The injury to David Raya along with fixture congestion and covid cases meant the early season juggernaut had very much hit the buffers. Norwich City. Burnley. Southampton. Brighton. Just some of the names that spring to mind. Then Christian came in, got his fitness back and his introduction to the starting XI coincided with our return to winning ways. Chelsea. West Ham. Watford. Burnley. Just some of the names that spring to mind. Ironically, the one real poor performance being the one against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Very much a ‘no show’ when our hosts were there for the taking.

Happy days at Chelsea

Anyway, long story short the narrative built up in the media is that Eriksen saved Brentford’s season. And to that I say bollocks. There’s no doubt he gave us a HUGE boost. That he was quite wonderful for the Bees. That a starting XI with him in it would always have been the selection of choice. He was amazing. He was a breath of fresh air. He was skill on a stick with that calmness and passing range one could only aspire to.  Yet he wasn’t the only factor.

From where I was sitting, it was undoubtedly the return of David Raya that was THE single key factor which – if you had to name one thing that ‘saved our season’ – we should be looking at. Suddenly, our opponents discovered that goal scoring was an aspiration rather than a gimme (Oh, that third against Liverpool is still the stuff of nightmares). Suddenly the defence were calm again. Were confident. Suddenly the distribution had returned. Rather than sitting on the back foot we had the ability to build attacks from our own 18 yard box.

I’d also cite Wissa finding his feet. The performances of Rico Henry and Christian Norgaard. Ivan Toney scoring for fun once more. Vitaly Janelt. Yes, Eriksen inspired and helped but the players had it already. The players had showed early doors we weren’t just here to make up the numbers. Hey, even the green jacket had a role to play. Don’t knock it – I bet there’ll be more than a few of us pulling on the magic pants on Saturday morning

just some of the factors that put a late spring in our step

All of us which then brings us to the weekend and Manchester United. There’s been a lot of talk about how we ‘greet’ Christian. Polite applause on warm up and then boo the hell out of him seems to be the popular consensus on social media. I make no pretence that I’m still hurting massively. Not so much that he left for Old Trafford  – his decision to go for money and carnage is a personal one and that’s an individual’s choice. Few of us could resist the sort of figures being talked up in the press so let’s not pretend otherwise. 

More, it was the manner in which it all played out. We’d taken a chance. We’d formed what seemed, at face value, a beautiful relationship. Christian was king of the castle. The fans loved him. The players fed off him. He got back to winning ways. There was the obvious Danish connection. Then, what was always only a six month contract expired. Again, we knew this was going to happen. It was made clear from the off. Yet seeing how things had played out – so beautifully for both parties – there was a genuine belief amongst the fans that his signing on the dotted line would be a formality. Instead, there was nothing. Nothing.

Days turned to weeks. The list of potential suitors moving from the obvious – Spurs (the history)  and Newcastle (and their dumper truck full of money )  – to the ridiculous – Everton and Leicester City. All along, Brentford still being mentioned in tandem until the bookies dropped us like a stone.  Manchester United entered the mix but still nothing. No news. No updates. No decision. Like playing poker with a brick wall – nobody could read anything. The Bees back in the race all of a sudden as Spurs were deemed persona non grata. It was down to the two of us until, eventually, the stories started to leak that he had signed. Albeit nothing official. Nothing out of Old Trafford for another two weeks until, eventually, the news we’d all feared was confirmed. 

Good luck to him. At least we can all move on. And in the signing of Mikkel Damsgaard we certainly can. The man that replaced him in the Euros now replacing him at Lionel Road. Yet the manner it all played out in still feels raw. As we’ve said before, like Jota joining Birmingham City. We love our heroes. Worship them. We know they move on. That’s life. That’s football. Yet to remain tight lipped for so long. To then not even say farewell, beyond some crappy Instagram post that may aswell not even have bothered getting out of bed, it had already overslept for so long. To read all that talk about wanting Champions League football. Hmm.

So yes, my heart IS broken. It shouldn’t be but I’m a football fan. I’m emotional. He didn’t ‘save us’ but he was amazing. I’ll never forget Chelsea and Watford away. Or Norwich away. Or Burnley home. Any of them. Good, good times ad the smile will return in time. For now, though, I still feel like we’ve been dumped for the attractive girl who we can all see is a bit of a nightmare. And it hurts.

its over

I won’t be booing Christian. I’ll be booing all of them. If he plays / comes on then so be it. I can’t stand any of that self-entitled nonsense that goes with anything Old Trafford related. All that Fergie gumph. All that belief amongst their fans that they’ve a divine right to be competing at the very top because they used to be any good. The instant sacking of head coaches. Cripes, I thought we gave our manager a ridiculously hard time but that’s nothing compared to some of the crap you read. The worshipping of the man-boy Ronaldo.

Ah, who could forget his hissy fit at Lionel Raod last season? He didn’t even make the starting XI against Brighton. The complete antithesis of a team player. He may get the goals but the disruption to broader team play that trying to channel it through him does is clear for all. Not that it helped dropping him on Sunday. 

If anything , this, rather than Eriksen will provide the real sideshow on Saturday.

strop, strop, stop

Brentford will never have a better chance to beat Manchester United than on Saturday. Our confidence is high. We have new kits and that wonderful, wonderful new signing in Damsgaard. Our opponents seem to be in disarray. Lionel Road will be rocking. The first home game is always loud – just ask Arsenal – but I’ve got a feeling this one will be ten, times better. More than a few people – and players – with points to prove.

I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there.

Until then, here’s the recap from Sunday and the performance at Leicester City…

Nick Bruzon

Christian Eriksen. The dream is over.

5 Jul

Oh. Christian Eriksen. He plays for Manchester United. They’re f’ing shite. Or however it is the song will now go. Brentford fans were last night left reeling from the news we’d all suspected but had hoped against hope wouldn’t be confirmed. Now, it would seem, the die is cast with even the BBC reporting the player has agreed a deal at Old Trafford. To be fair, whomever he had joined would have been seen as a slap in the face or a crazy move. Everton. Newcastle. Leicester City all amongst the other clubs being talked up. Now, rather than Brentford, the decision is Salford.  

Never again 😦

There’s been a lot of frustration out there last night. Others, with the ‘enjoy what we had ; it was only ever short term’ mentality.

I can sympathise with both view points but, personally speaking, right now it feels like a punch to the gut. Joining a club in complete disarray in return for a wheelbarrow load full of cash and the chance of Europa League football. Manchester United – a club whose fans will bang on about being one of the biggest in the world but who, realistically, have not been able to compete even domestically for years. Whose desperate chuck of the dice at Cristiano Ronaldo is now imploding in dramatic style. Whose defence is shot to pieces and attacking options about as potent as a toothless lion. For whom throwing money at the problem – see also: Pogba, has hardly been a recipe for success in recent seasons.

Good luck to both of them. Brentford enjoyed the very best Christian had to offer once his fitness had returned. The Brentford that guided him back into the game and took a chance on a player whom, well, we all know what had happened. The Brentford that gave him a surrogate Danish family and the chance to play alongside his international team mates going in to this winter’s World Cup. Who were ideally placed for the London lifestyle his nearest and dearest had, apparently, been so comfortable in.

Instead, as with everything in life, money talks. Certainly, if you believe what you read about signing on fees and a salary what will be, at the least, three times what we were able / prepared (delete as applicable) to offer. No doubt we’ll hear talk about the stature of Manchester United and the chance to return them to former glories. Perhaps he will achieve that. Perhaps the lure was the chance of reigniting a former giant. A club where reminders of Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy still hang from every available space like some footballing albatross around the neck. Good luck to him. Genuinely.    

We had some good times together. Some amazing times. Chelsea and Watford away in particular but, to be fair, every time he started we upped our game. He hit our own top five pretty much every time he played. Christian didn’t ‘save us from relegation’ but he did help get us going again.

Let’s not forget how well we were placed and how strong we were doing before David Raya got crocked against Leicester City.  As Kitman Bob said in his own insider’s perspective last time out on these pages: “ At the point we hit a sticky patch the mood at the training ground never changed from that first game. Staff and players knew we had a plan and there was never any panic or worry amongst us. The signing of Christian Eriksen, I cannot lie, gave the whole place an even bigger boost but on the same level was seeing the return of David Raya.”

I’m just a naive fool. A footballing romantic. Despite the talk of money and the chance to play in Europe (albeit the Champions League is a long, long way off right now), I honestly thought we’d be seeing him again. 100% convinced. Instead, I’m left with that same numb feeling as when Jota left for Birmingham City. A talisman departing for a godawful club. That awful emptiness. Them, of all places. 

This is how it feels right now

Things will be good again. They always are. Aaron Hickey and Keane Lewis-Potter are seemingly coming in. Josh Dasilva is back. Ethan Pinnock is fit. David Raya showed just how much he does for us whilst Christian Norgaard was a goat. Or whatever it is the kids say.  

Plus, as importantly, we’ll never have to sing that chant again. Sorry but like Oldham’s song, I’ve always struggled with it. That’s the polite phrase.

Fate, as ever, has administered a further blow to the unmentionables with Brentford’s first home game seeing a visit from Manchester United. One can only expect that will now be moved from a Saturday 3pm kick off to accommodate TV coverage and the inevitable media circus. Joy.

The positivity of what Christian brought to Lionel Road will never be forgotten.  I’m just struggling to feel it this morning.

Nice try, Bjorn… Not even the Scandinavian hard sell worked

Nick Bruzon  

Vamos David Raya.

7 May

Three Premier League games to go. Brentford face Southampton this afternoon before next Sunday afternoon’s rearranged trip to Everton (the biggest stitch up since the Allies took the field in Escape To Victory) and then the season denouement at home to Leeds United. With Monday night’s defeat at Manchester United still niggling, a return to winning ways against The Saints would be marvellous for so many reasons.

I’m not gong to lie but the game at Old Trafford really irked me. Perhaps it was exhaustion after the huge trek there and back. Moreso, one undertaken after leaving a family weekend away early. That’s football though. The journey is part of it and, being fair, the travel element of this particular long haul was a heck of a lot more enjoyable than the usual.

Pre-match optimism at Old Trafford eventually turned to frustration

No, for me Clive it was a combination of many other factors. Our own out-of-sorts approach, if we are being honest. Sure, show some respect to Manchester United and there history (lord knows, there were enough reminders of former glories hanging around the tired looking stadium) but this much? Some bright spells aside, we were largely on the back foot. Largely playing too deep. Unable to make any real penetration and lacking some of the usual spark. Where were the Brentford who dominated West Ham, obliterated Chelsea or ran rings around Tottenham?

Then there was Cristiano Ronaldo. He is the ultimate in marmite players. The pace and technique – amazing. World class. The ultimate ball tied to foot with a piece of string. The physique  – just jaw dropping. How can somebody be that fit and that athletic at any age, let alone at a point when most professionals would have hung up their boots? Truly, a model professional in more ways than one. 

For all that good stuff, there’s the bullshit side. The petulance. The backchat. The theatrical waving of arms. The histrionics. The ‘injuries’ and miracle cures. The snideness – yes, Rico fouled him but the initial move to that event was arguably started by the Portuguese show pony. On Monday, we had it all by the bucketload. 

As for the supporters… talk about entitlement. Talk about a bunch of fans whose approach was to turn up, shut up, wave a scarf and expect to win because they were once any good. Even the scheduled ‘protest’ turned into as big a non-event as the Mrs. Brown’s Boys Xmas special once it became clear they were going to win the game.

United may be sixth in the Premier League but of all the away days undertaken this campaign, it was the grand, fanbase and team I’ve been left with the least respect for. Say what you want about Leeds United (and we will over the next two weeks, I am sure) nobody could deny the atmosphere at Elland Road was incredible. What a noise. What backing for their club. Oh, the irony that on that afternoon it was Brentford who fell apart and saw almost certain victory turn to a last gasp draw.

Elland Road – raucous

Anyway, long story short the game at Manchester United has left an unusually sour taste in the mouth. And I’m sorry for harping on but there you go. Oh to have Thomas Frank’s approach of 24 hours to dwell on any result then move on.

The plus side being that Southampton this afternoon sees a chance to get back on the horse. To make one last charge for the upper half of the table. To potentially end the day in tenth place if results go our way. Something that will have even more importance given we go to an Everton side desperate for points in eight day’s time….. 😉  

Imagine what another defensive nightmare at Everton might do to the league table…..

So, what do we think for today? Barcelona bound Sergi Canos (there’s not anybody actually believing that, is there? ) and Ethan Pinnock are 4th out still, although word from Thomas is that Everton is the hope for their return. Otherwise, with Ghoddos, Zanka and Frank the Tanks also injured, we’re the same sqaud as Monday. 

The obvious change is one to a traditional back four rather than three with wingbacks. We know how well that line up has worked against the right opposition in the last month or two and would give us that extra balance in midfield. More, given how deep Christian Norgaard found himself at Old Trafford – at times he looked like a fourth centre back. Then again, I said the same thing prior to the Chelsea game and look how that went? Thomas Frank remaining one step ahead of everyone and I am sure that will be the approach this afternoon.

Of probably more interest will be whether Josh Dasilva makes a start. He came off the bench against United and the prospect of seeing him and Christian Eriksen together for a prolonged period of time is now which has supporters’ drooling. Two of our most technically gifted players in the heart of the midfield could be a joy to behold. Who makes way being the real conundrum. Four in to three just won’t go and Vitaly, who makes up that quartet, would be very hard done by to miss out. A wonderful problem to have.

Southampton won’t just roll over, of course. Like the Bees, they are also on 40 points. They will be looking to end the season with a bang after hitting the buffers in recent weeks. April saw just one win from six games played. A period that included the 6-0 tanking administered by Chelsea. Something as unusual in not just the heaviness of the defeat but their becoming one of the few clubs not to put at least three goals past the Stamford Bridge outfit in a month that saw our own Bees start that colossal Chelsea haemorrhaging. 

Its all our fault. It all our fault….

Still, for me today is all about us. The opposition an almost byproduct of needing to win. Of wanting to win. Wanting to get back to the brilliant Brentford we’ve been spoiled so much with in recent weeks. Of course we haven’t got a divine right to just turn up and win. To expect victory on demand. That’s where we came in to this piece and that sort of approach (see also: fans who thing success equates to stadium capacity) sucks. Victory needs to be earned. Fans need to be loud. Players need to want it.

It doesn’t matter whether we face Southampton or Chelsea. Liverpool or Leeds. The approach needs to be the same. From everybody. The fans got their part spot on at Old Trafford. Here’s to the rest of the pieces in that puzzle falling in to place today.   

I can’t wait for this one. See you there.

Oh, and if anyone needs a new song this afternoon, what about something for our own man in nets?

How we’ve missed him at times this season.

How good to have him back and at his best.

Granted, this one starts off a little bit Dogtanian but what simpler refrain than channeling Righeira’s early 80’s Europe classic…

Vamos, David Raya. Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh….

If nothing else, certainly less of a mouthful than the Christian Eriksen song which I still can’t get right. I know of at least one West Stand observer keen to drive this one forward. Top, top plan.

And until then, here’s the Manchester United debrief…

Nick Bruzon

Post-match debrief and player review.

4 May

Manchester United 3 Brentford 0. They got the points. Well done. At least we had the vocal presence. Sadly, the push for a top ten place hit a bump at Old Trafford on Monday night although with three games to go, that’s still on with the next bite at the cherry against Southampton on Saturday.

As ever at this point we ask who was the star man For Brentford. Who shone as Manchester United did the business? Will Thomas have been impressed enough or make changes for Southampton? Who leads the race to be our season long top performers ?

The answers are here in the post match player review and debrief. .

Nick Bruzon

Did we all enjoy our night at the theatre? Will anyone be able to go to Everton?

3 May

Farewell, oh luckiest of lucky omens. In the end, not even a magic green jacket could save Brentford on a night that saw Manchester United pick up all three points. On a night where the Old Trafford crowd put the theatre into theatre of dreams. The game played out in a bubbling cauldron of abject silence, save for the three thousand Bees’ fans in that far corner. Where Cristiano Ronaldo was the lead player – acting skills, feigning of injury and theatrical flailing of arms all coming to the fore. Where even Sammy Saunders’ name got more of a cheer than any song mouthed by the Untied. Their planned exodus in the 73rd minute failing to materialise. Hey, its easy to support your club when you are winning. It was a night made only more frustrating by today’s news about the game with Everton….

Farewell, my old friend

In the end, the Red Devils were worthy of the points after taking their chances in a 3-0 win which left many supporters feeling disappointed on the way back to London. For clarity, should read – which left many away supporters feeling disappointed on the way back to London. I’m sure the mood from the home contingent as they headed back down South was one very much of relief.

Old Trafford felt less a Theatre and more a Coliseum. A vast arena that once saw heroes triumph. Now, nothing more than a relic. Banners lauding Sir Alex Ferguson hanging from every vantage point. A ghoulish reminder of when they used to be any good. A spectre looking down over a team very much trading on former glories. One half-expected a bit of Jethro Tull for the run out music prior to kick-off. Brentford unable to take advantage of our own fine run and our opponents’ current self-destruct. Manchester United grateful for coming up against a team showing way too much respect and playing far too cautiously.

This despite a pulsating first ten minutes which saw it all Brentford until we were caught off guard. Beaten by pace. The game swung in an instant and Bruno Fernandes edged the offside trap by a hairs breadth before finding the back of the net.

During the war, Grandad

That was it. The hosts ahead and the game settling in to a much more even affair. Brentford attempting to dictate play via the magical boots of Christian Eriksen. Ivan Toney coming close. David de Gea called in to action on several occasions. Instead, it was United who had the second attempt but this time Ronaldo was offside. His hissy fit as the decision was given against triggering the expected reaction from the Bees. 1-0 down at half time and all to play for.

The second half then seeing two more goals, a bucketful more ‘gamesmanship’ and Brentford not really at the races. United looking as comfortable as they had every right to once the lead had been doubled following a foul by Rico in the box. Ronaldo unable to believe his luck – much like an opportunistic car thief finding a brand new motor with the engine running, a bow on top, the doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition. Who’s going to turn down that sort of gift horse? There was no mistake made and with the third goal coming moments after Brentford had mixed it up in midfield, the game was done.

Waking up this morning after just a few hours sleep, I’ll take one huge positive. That we are are genuinely downbeat not to have got at least a point from a game against Manchester United. It is a measure of just how far we’ve come. They rode their luck in the first game at Lionel Road and could well have been there for the taking had we gone for it as we had done all April.

Instead, United proved that games are won by seizing on moments. Dark Arts slow things down. Silent crowds, plastic fans and fake walk outs all an irrelevance. Ultimately, it comes to taking your chances and, last night, they did just that. Whatever feelings one may have, balls in the back of the net are what counts.

The player review is now up. That look at our top five performers. Something which was a bit more challenging than normal given the subdued approach to the game from Brentford. You can find that here.

Otherwise, the only other thing to do at this juncture is reflect on today’s 11th hour slap in the face in regards to the game with Everton. A Sunday afternoon already ruined by transport chaos, now made worse by those arrangements being thrown into disarray with kick off time being flipped to 4.30pm to accomodate TV. West Ham – Manchester City coming the other way nd getting our 2pm slot.

Brentford official moved quickly to give those supporters who had already purchased tickets a credit on their account. Yet, as with Liverpool (a), all the talk about not moving games so close to the actual date once again being proven to be the crock of shit that it is. Something to be taken as seriously as Cristiano Ronaldo claiming he’d been fouled.

Sky 1 Supporters 0. Sort it out please, BIAS. And not just the usual statement saying you are disappointed although, to be fair, the one published this evening has upgraded the anger rating to ‘disgusted’. Well said indeed. Now let’s see where that may lead….

Brentford Official, likewise. A credit for the fans is a wonderful gesture but won’t help anyone in rearranging travel that was already fraught so close to matchday. Nothing will happen. It never does.

Everybody will, somehow, find a way. We always do. But that doesn’t mean its easy and it certainly doesn’t mean its right. Sometimes, a tweet sums it up quite succinctly.

Nick Bruzon

Looking sharp for the Manchester United game. And beyond..

28 Jul

Fair to say we’re now up to our, err, elbows in pre-season prep for the Premier League. The weekend gone saw queues all the way around the block for the launch of the new Brentford kits (something likened by many to our lining up in the snow when Chelsea FA cup tickets went on sale first time around). There was the behind closed doors friendly defeat of Watford, with Ivan Toney picking up where he left off last season and then this evening Manchester United welcome the top flight’s third placed club in another warm up game.

Prove otherwise

We’ve already spoken about the new kit on these pages – you can find that one here – but the good news being that up close and personal it looks better than those launch photos. Dare I say it, ten times…? The away, certainly.

Going past the club shop last Thursday evening on the way to H’s swimming lesson, our cycle up Braemar Road coincided with the mannequins being arranged in the window. But enough about the Birmingham City defence. There they were. Plastic models (but enough abou…), bedecked head to foot in what we’ll be wearing over the forthcoming campaign. The relief was palpable.

Our away looks gorgeous. Discreet chevron shading running through the design whilst the home, whilst still sadly bereft of our own black trim, at least seems to have toned down the awful look of the sponsor that greeted the initial reveal. Perhaps it had been photoshopped in after the launch phots were taken. As if that would ever happen. Who knows?

Certainly the queues that ran all the way around the block and the huge wait for printing were testament to the popularity. Kudos to Chris and the team running the laminator. A three hour wait from start to finish to complete our order from going in. “Ah, we’ll just stroll up at 9 o’clock,” I casually said to Mrs Bruzon and H.

Hmmmm….The queue went from bus stop to bus stop. Griffin Park down to the New Road 65 shelter and beyond. It really was like taking a throwback to League One. Most of our time was spent waiting to even get access although the usual bonhomie that greets such occasions was alive and well. There’s nothing like the thought of needing your shirt to travel to Manchester United the following week to get the blood pumping and the spirits high.

And that is now upon us. The table doesn’t lie and with Brentford in third place – ten slots above the Old Trafford outfit – our early season form has been rewarded. Whilst the visit of Arsenal on Friday 13th will be the true acid test and our first real chance to go top of the Premier League on ability rather than alphabetical good fortune. Still, I’ll take what I can get. Pull it off this evening or next month and the place is going to go nuts. With the Bees largely expected to be whipping boys, we’ve nothing to lose, everything to gain and the knowledge that this tin pot outfit actually knows what it is doing.  

For anybody not able to travel tonight, the game is live on MUTV. Not that I can imagine we’ve too many subscribers. This Saturday’s visit from West Ham is more likely when the half and halfers will be out and about. Still, with a monthly pass available online at £7.99, perhaps a one-off subscription may be the way forward. For Manchester United rather than West Ham. You can sign up here but don’t forget to deactivate your card afterwards.

Nobody can deny our preseason is being taken lightly. The transfers are coming in whilst we’ve still not had any rumours of outward movement. No bad thing, given the number of Toney 17 shirts that were flying off the shelves at the weekend. I daren’t imagine the stress should he even change his squad number, let alone be linked to a rival. Still, that’s nothing different to any other campaign. It’s Brentford, innit. 

Old school queuing on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

We’ve won the social media turf war. What next?

6 Feb

Brentford 4000 have beaten the Tranmere stripper and will now face the awesome stylings of Bristol City defender Donnie Gillies in the World Cup of Programme Covers third round. Elsewhere, some Leeds United fans went to Old Trafford to watch their U-18s play Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup. Well done there. Well done everyone. 

First up, as ever, Brentford. In the most heavily fought tie of the round a Bees resurgence saw Tranmere Rovers slowly reeled in over the course of the day before we eventually overcame our match-day magazine rivals 52%-48%. Who said you win nothing with stats? 

Screenshot 2020-01-27 at 05.01.57

Through to the next round

The tie, described by compere Miles McClagan (@TheSkyStrikers) as “a social media turf war” was the most heavily voted for in the round as many peoples’ favourite suffered what could be described as a shock exit. With Brentford also featuring in the first round match with the highest turnout, could our name be on the cup? Or are we just good at using Twitter?

Whatever the reason, there’s no doubting things are going to be even tougher in the following round(s). Bristol City are next and it’s one of those where, frankly, words fail to do a cover justice. One just has to sit back and drink it all in.

Screenshot 2020-02-06 at 05.04.21

Bristol City will provide formidable opposition

The winner of that one will then face Ipswich Town or Morton in the quarters. Honestly, the thought of Donnie lining up against B.A. Robertson, John Wark (in full warm-up kit, of course) and a briefcase full of cash is one that has me salivating. It’s like an early 80s ‘Cold War Steve’, right down to the sponsorship. Just think Danepak rather than Fray Bentos. 

Screenshot 2020-02-06 at 05.23.21

When worlds collide…..

I don’t for one second think either the Bees or Morton will just roll over to allow this Titanic sartorial match up to take place. Certainly, we’ll give it our all. The only thing you can be sure of is that as the tournament progresses, we’re going to have a lot of fun in finding out whose name is on the cup. 

Elsewhere, Leeds United official were getting very excited because 1400 fans went to Manchester United to watch an FA Youth Cup match. 

And? What am I missing here? Genuine question, given the fuss being made on social media. Under achieving club and huge fan base with long memories about once being ‘any good’ take short trip down the road for a night out to famous club. Fans go to a game and cheer on their team. That seems to be the gist of it.

They’ve not played their rivals since 2011 so it must have been exciting for them. An ad-hoc chance to go back to the Mancunian library and try to upset their young hosts. Sing a song about Ed Woodward. Lovely stuff. 

I guess what this does do though is prove what incredible support they have. What a huge club Leeds United are. A side that has a divine right to play top flight football rather than being one who have sat in the Championship, or further beyond, since 2007. Administration will do that to you though.

Frankly, if there was any justice the EFL would stop subjecting Leeds to the annual torture of their falling apart (again) and just promote them automatically to the deserved home in the Premier League. Who needs tinpot pub teams and bus stops like Brentford trying to play their way up when we could, no should, have a top flight dominated by those grand old names of the past?

Oh, what’s the point. It was their cup final so I’m glad they enjoyed themselves. There are infinitely more important things to focus on in the coming days. We face Boro’ and Leeds go to play-off rivals Nottingham Forest. Then there’s the small matter of their trip to Griffin Park.

See you on Tuesday, Leeds United. I can’t wait for this one !!

Screenshot 2020-02-06 at 05.55.49

No room for bus stops in the Premier League? BS.

Nick Bruzon  

Here we go. Again. Cup shocks abound and potato skins await.

26 Sep

Could the big one be on? After a Tuesday night run of Carabao Cup shocks that saw Frank Lampard’s Derby County™ beat Manchester United, Burton overcome Burnley and QPR go down at Blackpool (please, stop sniggering) Wednesday night could see the biggest of them all. Is it just possible, if all the stars are aligned and the footballing gods are smiling, that Arsenal could beat Brentford? Stranger things have happened.

One thing’s for sure, if Manchester United came unstuck at home last night then it can happen to anyone. Fair play and hats off to Derby. Their own win over Brentford on Saturday being put all the more into context after a game which saw them go behind, come back and then concede the ultimate sucker punch – a 95thminute equaliser for the hosts after themselves going ahead on 85 – to take the game to a penalty shootout in which they eventually triumphed.

They’re the headlines. Nobody wants to get overly bogged down in pages of Mourinho misery or the family Lampard celebrating. That’s for those two teams to both enjoy. Right now the focus is, of course, on Brentford at Arsenal. Assuming Brentford can get to Arsenal with the Piccadilly line out of commission due to strike action – there goes that easy hop from West to North London.

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Have vodka bottle, will travel. Alternate travel to Highbury & Islington needed tonight

Still, the ghost of Bob Crow shouldn’t get in the way of what promises to be a special night. For Arsenal, a high pressure potato skin against Dean Smith’s hotly tipped Brentford side. Currently three points off the top of the Championship table and playing some quite wonderful football. Manager Unai Emery faced with the quandary of picking the reserves or risking the fitness of his more established names. Don’t forget that they’ve a game against top four Watford and then the excitement of a Europa League trip to FK Qarabag to follow this one.  

For Brentford, nothing to lose and everything to gain. With over 8,000 away tickets sold (and who knows how many more dotted around the stadium) it promises to be a vocal affair. Those stunning brown/orange shirts out in full force and not to mention a few faces from the past in the stands. The team, surely surely captained by Nico Yennaris, with a chance to prove how far they’ve really progressed. To see how worthy of all the praise that has been coming their way they actually are. Saturday’s result wasn’t great, that’s for sure, but if anything it’ll give Dean and his team even more incentive to prove what a blip it was with a chance to get back to winning ways in a consequence free environment.

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The Bees have been head and shoulders above most opponents this season

Excited? Yes. As much as anything it’s a chance for bonus midweek football and a visit to a new stadium. At least, with the Bees. A chance to see if we can carve out a famous victory. Blah, blah. Cliché, cliché. Yet perhaps as much as anything else, an opportunity to erase the painful memory of the anti-football we played at Chelsea in the fourth round of the 2016/17 FA Cup. A 4-0 defeat where we were lucky to get the proverbial nil.

There’s not much more to say, really. We all know the scoop and there’s only so many ways you can dress it up. Yet if tonight didn’t have you salivating already, there’s even more great news to follow. Football’s greatest competition (with all due respect to the Carabao Cup) is back. Saturday’s game at Reading sees the return of none other than….Centre Circle Challenge.

I should be fully focussed on Arsenal. Yet the prospect of seeing two supporters pinging balls from the corner flag to the heart of the meridian line, all soundtracked by Peter Gilham’s deadpan commentary, has me as excited as the trip to The Emirates. Almost. Brentford official has all the details including, most importantly, how you can enter this ultimate of fan participation events on the hallowed turf of Griffin Park.

All that’s to come. For now though, focus on whether we can emulate those famous League Cup nights against the likes of Hull City and Everton. Right down to the mascots…. 

Nick Bruzon

From Cristiano to Henrik via Rio. And more shirt news…

16 Jun

Ruddy hell – the World Cup ! Just where do you start? Having been upstaged in the Champions League final by Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo stuck it to his Real Madrid team mates in some style last night as Portugal drew 3-3 with Spain in a game that, on a personal note, also served as a timely reminder of yours truly briefly dabbling with Manchester United. In the loosest sense. Elsewhere, today sees the magnificent four game spread that also offers Brentford fans a chance to catch our man in action. Henrik Dalsgaard and his Denmark team face off with Peru on a day that sees games running from 11am right through to the conclusion of Croatia-Nigeria around 10 pm tonight. And on a Brentford note, there’s also shirt news imminent. Monday is the day….

First up, Portugal. Specifically, Ronaldo. He’s a genius. Pure and simple. So consistently incredible. Never failing to pull it out of the bag when it counts. Even the most churlish amongst us could only sit back and admire what he did last night. Even with the posturing, the preening and the strutting around like a coked up peacock. Despite all this, the sheer audacity of the man and his ability with a football still shone through. It was a performance that would have had Alan Partridge foaming at the mouth. That was liquid football and then some. Sheer brilliance.

The one down side to all of this was Rio Ferdinand in the BBC studio. It’s impossible not to like Rio. A legend for his country and a quite remarkable human being given the personal situation he’s been through. He always talks passionately about the game and with enthusiasm. Yet therein lies part of the puzzle. He doesn’t half go on about it. Clanggggg, The sound of another name being dropped. If he mentioned that he’d played with Ronaldo once he must have done it a dozen times. Nutritionists. Training. Manchester United. Fergie’s opinion. At home with Cristiano. We had it all.

There’s form here. Back in Brazil 2014 it was the same. Manchester United this. Manchester United that. I didn’t realise he’d won the Champion’s League. If only somebody had said.

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Who could forget Rio, in Rio? World Cup 2014

Of course an ex-player is going to draw on their experience. That’s only natural and, to be fair, helps paint a picture of what we see going on. It gives an insight into something we might not have visibility of in the normal course of events. Just perhaps tone it down a little bit. Please. The past is great but there’s very much a present going aswell with a quite ridiculous game of football being played out last night. I’d love to have heard more about that. Not just from Rio but the panel where much of half time was devoted to features about England rather than dissecting the first half and the earlier games where those of us just coming in from work would likely have missed.

The brilliance of Ronaldo also detracted from two quite delicious goals score by Spain. Diego Costa levelling thing ups at 1-1, executing a wonderfully hit shot after holding off two defenders for what felt like an eternity. Yet it was nothing compared to the sweetest of volleys that Nacho fired home to give Spain a 3-2 lead. Rio and the panel were rightly purring about this one afterwards as the Spaniard wrapped his foot around a rising ball to swerve it hard and low past the ‘keeper and in off the post from outside the box. It was a stunner. A thing of beauty. To quote Partridge once more, He must have a foot like a traction engine.

And then Cristiano stepped up to score ‘that’ free kick and steal all the headlines with just minutes left on the clock. Whatever else you may think or say about him, and many have, there’s no denying he certainly has a sense of occasion   

With a free kick given in the heart of Saunders territory, there was an inevitability about what would happen next. Sure enough, he lifted it up and over the wall before it dipped into the back of the net. Yet in a moment of clarity, I knew it would happen. I’ve been there before. Ten years or so back I spent an 18 month secondment up in Manchester. For a Brentford fan, this was great. The likes of Bury, Rochdale, Stockport County and Accrington Stanley (never have I been so cold at an away game) were all on the doorstep. As was Old Trafford.

There were no split loyalties here. Aside from the fact the chances of our paths crossing were slim to zero, I was on tourist duty. Doing it for the love of football. Whilst weekends would see me in London and at Griffin Park, a Tuesday night would quite often afford one the chance to take in a local game. And with so many United season ticket holders living down South and unable to make it, there was usually a spare going around the office. Why not? It was that or watch Coronation Street.

One such was the game against Portsmouth. A 2-0 win for United but more importantly, once which provided a moment that stuck with me since. Cristiano Ronaldo scoring ‘that’ free kick from last night. Ten years earlier. It looked incredible then. It still does. Last night’s effort was a reminder of just how consistently good he has been throughout his career. To still pull tricks like that out of the bag even now. And at 33, I’d imagine there’s a few more of those to come.

Cristiano has done this before..

That was then, this is now. Waking up on Saturday morning, it’s his name all over the radio. He’s the one making the headlines on the sports pages. But tomorrow could it be Henrik Dalsgaard we are reading about?

-1I can’t wait to see our man in action. For those of us who are a bit longer in the tooth it’s quite ridiculous. The thought of Brentford having a player at the World Cup is bonkers. But I love it. If only because it shows just how well our set up and transfer model is working. Despite the confusion and frustration at times. Despite the short term heartache of that summer sale. Here is the proof. Likewise, Andreas Bjelland was desperately unlucky to miss out. Panini even going so far as including him in their World Cup sticker book.

Good luck today, Henrik. If you are reading (you aren’t) know that this little corner of West London will be cheering you on. I’ll watch as much of the World Cup as possible anyway. Yet now there’s even more incentive. Roll on 5pm.

And finally, Monday is the day. Yes, England are playing but in our house it’s something even more exciting. The Brentford ‘away’ shirt is launched. We’ve already had the sneak peak pic released this week. Now, we’re just 48 hours away from seeing this for real.

I can’t even begin to speculate what this is going to look like. I’ve run it through photoshop, played with the light settings and filters but it’s giving nothing away. Instead, we’ll just have to sit back in anticipation and await the reaction. I’ve got a feeling this is going to be interesting though.

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David Hunt – the biggest come back since Lazarus

And finally, I know I bang on about this a lot but my season reviews containing the least bad of the columns and some new content are now available for download.

The reason I bang on about this is because all proceeds raised are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. We all know about the great work they do whilst my own son has now started Saturday morning football training at one of their sessions. And he loves it. As such, I’d love to try and do something in return.

As additional incentive, I’d like to give one of you this ‘unavailable to the general public’ Brentford FC third shirt from 2017/18. I’ve got hold of it from a source close to the club and am giving it away to one supporter by means of a draw. All you have to do is download the 2017/18 season review (or the five-year compendium) to enter the draw that will take place at the end of the month – just DM/ tweet me the download confirmation email by June 30th and we’ll pick a lucky winner.

You can download Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18 . In addition, all five seasons of the Last Word (previously available individually) have been bundled together in one giant volume. There’s a lot to plough through… There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 is also available.

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THANK YOU

Nick Bruzon

 

 

 

Is this an FA Cup plum tie or potato skin? Could ‘you know who’ return?

6 Dec

The FA cup third round draw has happened. With Brentford fans hoping for the likes of a Manchester United or a Chelsea, we have been drawn at home to a non-league team with the winners of the replay between Halifax Town and Eastleigh due to visit in January. The later, of course, now managed by Martin Allen who will no doubt be chomping at the bit for a return to the place where he is still considered a hero to many. Bees supporters will no doubt be chomping at the bit just for a chance to progress. Aside from our current form (filed in the ‘where are they now’ drawer), our previous efforts starting at this stage have all seen us at home and all seen us dumped out. Grimsby Town, Brighton and Walsall delivering the respective killer blows. Prior to that, we’re going back to the 30s and 40s,

The third round draw is one of football’s most exciting moments. That point where any permutation of random pairings is possible. Would it be a Premier League club at home? Might we embark on a journey to one of those famous stadia such as Old Trafford or Anfield? Do we face a road trip to a lower division team – the sort produced in the Preston v Arsenal, Leeds v Cambridge or Bolton v Crystal Palace ties?

Instead, we have none of that. We’re at home, which is nice from the comfort factor, but with a tie that is less a plum and more a potato skin of the highest order. On paper, the divisional gap should be far too great. Brentford will be odds on favourites to progress whilst the visitors, whoever they are, will have nothing to lose. Yet we all know that isn’t how football works.

With Dean Smith’s team on a less than favourable run (I swear if he says the word ‘blip’ once more I won’t be responsible for my actions) this could be a season defining game. It is now there on the calendar as a point where we can look, once more, to make some progress in this oldest of Cup competitions.

Will Dean repeat the mistakes he made last season in the horror show at home to his former club Walsall? If ever there was a game to win it was that one yet the Bees were outclassed by a team who were clearly up for it and with a point to prove. It was an afternoon that I never want to experience again, moreso when you chuck into the mix all that nonsense with FCM at half time. Random laps of honour rarely work (see also: the unveiling of the smudge shirt – and if ANYBODY even has a picture of that, please get in touch….) but this one was utter madness and the ultimate kick in the nuts for those loyal supporters braving the elements.

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The FA Cup dream was over after a rubbish afternoon last time out

And that is what worries me. Not the thought of a half time parade, but a repeat of last season’s cup complacency from Brentford (see also: Marinus v Oxford). Whoever we play will be desperate to make a name for themselves and, without being arrogant, we are now an established Championship side, despite our humbler origins. But that doesn’t give an automatic right to progress just because of the gap in the table.

Martin Allen has been there and done it. He masterminded our fourth round defeat of Premier League Sunderland ten years ago whilst was that close to taking the Bees to a quarter final at Manchester United. Southampton eventually, getting the better of us in a fifth round replay. If anybody knows how this works it will be him whilst nobody needs the media circus that his presence will bring.

Hopefully, Dean and the team will have rediscovered our form by then. We’ve got 6 games between now and that one, starting on Saturday with Burton Albion. Hopefully Dean will take it seriously and play a full-strength team with a desire to go out there and win. The cup has a wonderful place in our hearts at Griffin Park and what happened last season, in both competitions, was horrific, embarrassing, shameful etc

Whilst cup success has been an infrequent visitor,  when it comes along it is a wonderful thing. The place is buzzing and the mood, especially in the build up to that next tie, is a wonderful experience. Just look at the Chelsea tie (although it’s nice that we can no longer sing:  ‘Champions of Europe we’re coming for you’  in relation to our West London neighbours).

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These are the sort of cup memories I want

Whatever people’s opinions about this one being any form of foregone conclusion, think again. Recent FA Cup ties agasint non-league opposition haven’t been as easy on paper as they were expected to be. 2013 saw the 5-0 defeat of Marcus Gayle and Staines Town in the first round but prior to that we’ve struggled. The 2011 defeat of Basingstoke was by the slenderest of margins – Sam Saunders with a free kick on 7(seven) minutes being the difference between the two teams and,sadly, coming before Kitman Bob and the BBgiveaway were a thing.

But it was that woeful second round loss at Barrow, in front of the TV cameras, back in November 2008 that really sticks out. A chance to square off agasint the big boys was instead flung aside as Andy Scott’s team were dumped out 2-1 and left with ten players on the pitch. Substitute goalkeeper Lloyd Anderson coming on for the red carded Ben Hamer.

Come January, let’s just hope the lessons from history, from last season and most importantly from current form have been learned. If we win, nobody outside TW8 and the losing team will give it any notice. Anything less and they’ll be the sort of headlines Dean Smith won’t want to wake up to.

Look, let’s be positive here. Whoever you play, the chance to go into the fourth round of the FA Cup is something that should produce a buzz of excitement. It should be a pressure free game where we can play of fun and the potential lure of an even bigger carrot as we progress. Whilst I’m aware of the pitfalls, I’m also cautiously optimistic. Surely there’s no way we’ll have a repeat of last season as long as Dean does it right?

See you in 2017. Now, where’s my tinfoil?

Sam Saunders doing his thing back in 2011

Nick Bruzon