Tag Archives: Oxford United

Out of the cup but where next?

20 Sep

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

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

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Barbet’s pen. (Inset: now)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dean Smith – nice trainers ; tough challenge

Nick Bruzon

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Will we slip on another potato skin or dodge that lower league bullet ?

8 Aug

It seems like only five minutes ago that Brentford performed those League cup heroics against Hull City and Everton, before narrowly missing out on Round 5 via a last minute equaliser and penalties against Birmingham City at St. Andrews. Infact, it was 2010 and The Bees first XI included the likes of Mickey Spillane, Craig Woodman and Pim Balkestein. Whilst the squad has evolved from that small League One group it would be fair to say that our record in the competition hasn’t been a great one since then. Could Tuesday night’s game in Kingston against AFC Wimbledon see us get back to winning ways?

The wins over higher division Hull and Everton were wonderful occasions, no question. The latter in particular seeing a practically full strength Premier League team beaten by a never say die Brentford XI. Gary Alexander scored the equaliser and Charlie MacDonald even had the luxury of seeing a penalty saved before the eventual spot kick triumph. Richard Lee the man on form then.

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Gary Alexander does his thing against Everton. 1-1

Now, we are the team to be shot down. A high performing Championship club travelling to an AFC Wimbledon side whose own ascension through the divisions and struggle to find a home has been a story in itself. Yet the game presents a huge potato skin for a Brentford side that is sure to be changed one from that which lost out to Sheffield United on Saturday.

The last time we won a League Cup tie Montell Moore and Nick Proschwitz (not a typo) were amongst the scorers in that defence shredding 6-6 at Dagenham and Redbridge. Kevin O’Conor played what was, if I am correct, his last ever game for the Bees – scoring what proved to be the decisive spot kick in the subsequent shoot out.

Since then the wheels have come off somewhat. We lost at Griffin Park to Fulham. At the time, something of a rarity for the Cottagers whom we would go on to take 10 points out of 12 from over the course of the following four league games. Didn’t Jota do something in the last minute, too?

Then there was the humiliation handed out by Oxford United at home as the Marinus experiment came crashing down to earth with a bump. Regular readers may be aware this gets mentioned a lot but it is important to never forget how bad that was. The team he selected was one which, long term, had a few players who are now regular (Nico, Lasse, Andreas) but at the time was an untested mixture of youth and new faces. 3-0 down in 12 minutes, that we only lost 4-0 was the main miracle of the night.

It was the consummate example of the flawed logic in both wholesale, untested change and woeful man management. Never forget.

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The Oxford United fiasco  / Marinus experiment (neither being prog rock bands)

Then last season it was the turn of Exeter City to dump us out in the first round. Despite Harlee Dean, John Egan, Josh Clarke and Sam Saunders amongst those picked, Brentford struggled to a 0-0 before Ryan Hartley got an extra time winner for the Grecians.

And now is the time to go again. I can only expect more change tonight but this time I fear for Wimbledon. Harlee is available after suspension.Yoann Barbet was benched on Saturday. Likewise Maxime Colin. Expect the pace of Josh Clarke down the flank and surely starts for Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins. I’d imagine Flo Jo will begin on the left with with a very strong bench, just in case.

As the higher placed team we’re there to be shot down, just as Everton and Hull were all those years ago. That’s one of the privileges of being a Championship side and, sadly, a bullet we’ve taken more than once in recent years.

Will this time around be any different? A full house of Bees fans will be there to roar us on with only 200 tickets remaining on the gate. Watch out for the traffic delays though and get there early.

See you there. Until then, here’s one of the highlights from the Everton game. When our mascot was told to keep holding the hand of his young counterpart, he took that instruction quite literally.

 

Nothing puts Peter Gilham off his stride

Nick Bruzon

Jota : There has been no bid. Bees win as Oxford go down by the odd goal in 7 (seven)

20 Jul

Despite a brief second half scare when a 2-0 lead turned into a 3-2 deficit, Brentford had sufficient in them to leave Oxford United with a 4-3 win under the belts. Yet, as ever these last few weeks, the talking point was that man Jota. With the trip to Sheffield United just over two weeks away, could he still be our player when the season begins?

For all the info on the game itself, then ‘official’ has the match report. Early goals from Flo Jo and Lasse Vibe were book ended by the late equaliser and subsequent winner from Reece Cole and Sergi Canós respectively. But for many the key stat was in the starting XI where Jota was not only named but lasted until the 66th minute, at which point Dean Smith took advantage of the rarely available opportunity to make a 7(seven) man substitution.

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View from the stand – Jota gets a 66 minute run out

Talking ‘human resources’ to Dean Smith after the game, that virtuoso of gentle probing Billy Reeves went straight to work to ascertain the status of Spanish wing wizard (Jota. Not Sergi).

Unless somebody makes a substantial bid he’s staying at Brentford and he’s happy to do so – I think you could see he was happy to be out there.

Not my words but those of our head coach. Seems clear (for now) but for complete certainty, Billy probed further. “Just to be absolutely clear then, there has been no bid?”. the answer was as definitive as one could hope at present, short of revealing that the player had actually signed a contract extension. “There has been no bid. No.

You can hear the full interview below. Aswell as talk of Neal Maupay, of whom Dean enthused, and the versatile Ollie Watkins our head coach also discussed the wider midfield situation. Great work Billy, as ever.

 

But with inward transfer activity seemingly completed (you did listen to the interview) what of outward? Your guess is as good as mine at this juncture. All I can say is that the footballing romantic in me is crossing his fingers that Matthew Benham can work some more magic. That we can both afford to hang on to the player and, likewise, he’s prepared to give it a shot with us – should this oft mentioned ‘substantial’ bid ever materialise.

As for Oxford United, I wasn’t there. Kudos to the 376 of you who did make it. Having never been to the Kassam before, it was an opportunity missed. Moreso as , in my own mind’s eye, the club are synonymous with their compact Manor Ground. Now, in the name of progress, they have three fine looking new stands and a car park.

Yet talking to one fan after the game he enthused about it, describing the new stadium as “Open spaces, interrupted by some surrounding outbuildings. Somehow and I’m not sure how it’s possible, the stadium architects have perfectly captured the spirit of the manor ground”.

Here’s hoping that when Lionel Road is eventually built, we can somehow capture some of the charm of our own Griffin Park. Here’s hoping….

Nick Bruzon

If Carlsberg did Twitter. New signing and backfiring bet see media team attain greatness.

19 Jul

Brentford travel to Oxford United for the latest stage in our pre-season programme, buzzing from the news that the much touted transfer of Ollie Watkins from Exeter City has been completed. Becoming our eighth signing of the summer, the conclusion of this move has seen two wonderful bits of social media (three if you count our own lack of hashtag / signing video when the news was announced). The first could leave one Bees supporter very much out of pocket whilst the second threatens to catapult a Nottingham Forest fan into Simon Hateley territory (he of Aston Villa infamy).

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Ollie Watkins joins. Its all very red

First, Ollie himself. What can you say? The Hoff may have departed over the summer but he has been replaced up top by first Neal Maupay and now the EFL young player of the year. The club were understandably excited about the news with Phil Giles telling official We first made an offer for Ollie 12 months ago, and again last January, so I am glad that we were finally able to sign him this time around”.

But it was on Twitter where the real story was beginning to unfold. Andy Scott joined Phil in celebrating the news about the Exeter man joining us, noting on the football front that it has been “A huge team effort from everybody involved” and that “patience is a virtue!” before going on to note that Ollie is “part of the family now!”.

Judging by the picture of his agent, its probably not the first time he’s heard that phrase. I’m sure he’s a lovely guy and all that but I for one wouldn’t want to cross him, going on this photo. That’s one intense look.

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Ollie and his agent. Was a horse’s head involved in transfer negotiations?

Spare a thought too for Brentford fan Josh Mahoney who is currently in the chair for a £2.5K bar bill following a tweet published last week, where he laid down a gauntlet which has come back to bite him firmly on the behind:

Can’t see us signing Ollie Watkins, if we do I’ll buy everyone who likes this a drink this season.

Yet it was the comeback from official which inspired what one supporter has described to me as “The greatest thing that media team have ever done”.

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Chris, Sean and Ciaran most definitely first up at the bar

What? This is brilliant. This is genuinely funny. Is this the same media team that has previously brought us ‘The Obama meme’,  #TrophyFriends and #Novemberkings? Whatever wind of change has blown through Chris Wickham’s department you can only doff your cap. First, no hashtag or gimmick to announce Ollie had joined from Exeter (take a leaf, Aston Villa with your fake Whatsapps and #WelcomeJT). Now, a genuine joke. And a great one. Not withstanding their choice of drink.

Andy was on fine form too, showing just what happens when you cross swords with Scott, Giles and Ankersen (not a law firm or 70s folk group).

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But it wasn’t just Josh who was left eating his words.

Up at the City Ground, Nottingham Forest fan ‘Redman’ may be regretting his own boast. Whilst not in Hateley territory (yet), this has somewhat backfired.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 05.59.07As at the time of writing (6.00am, Wednesday morning) we’re still waiting for banter to commence. Very much a case of tumbleweed and radio silence. Ironically, something matched by Forest fan Matt Dyson – the avocado loving sports presenter on Christian O’Connell’s Absolute Radio breakfast show. His bulletins failing to mention what was the day’s big transfer story.

The other question to come out of this is how we pay for the summer’s transfer activity and changes to the wage bill? Moreso to remain FFP compliant. Of course, the fees paid for our new signings are undisclosed, we have a new sponsorship deal and are about to begin our fourth season in the Championship. Yet with previous seasons seeing outward activity as well as inward, the big fear remains that we’ll be saying ‘adios’ to Jota.

Burnley are the latest club to join the rumour mill (although I’m still laughing at the thought he’d go to the likes of Derby County or the aforementioned Forest, despite their Assombalonga windfall) despite there being no further news following Dean’s talk 12 days ago about an imminent big bid coming in.

So what happens at the Kassam tonight could be telling. Of course, Dean has already said that if a bid fails to materialise then Jota “will be available for the Oxford United game”. Playing won’t be a guarantee he’ll be with us for the big kick off but any absence from the starting XI will be an enormous sign.

Jota 2-2

Faster than a speeding bullet – is the Spanish superman leaving Griffin Park ?

I’m not stupid (completely). We all know how good Jota is. We all know his contract is running out so we could lose a £10million player for nothing. We all know our own model. We all know we’ve sold and still thrived before. Yet, the footballing romantic in me is desperate for him to stay. The last five years have been SO exciting. With a wonderful spine to this team and an ever evolving squad, he really could be the final piece in a promotion gamble.

I’ve called top six already. Given our experience and starting XI this is more than feasible. With Jota in the team, the chances can only improve.

That may well be a decision that is already out of our hands. A decision that has already been made. One thing’s for sure, the Brentford family will be taking a very keen interest in tonight’s team sheet when that one is published.

For now, though, let’s focus on the uber-positive. Jota is a bee and we’ve made another wonderful purchase. Our media team have developed a genuine sense of humour and we’ve not sold any fan favourites.

On a day that sees us looking at how football and Twitter work hand in hand, what better way to end than with another observation from the social media platform. Ian Westbrook distilling it all into one tweet.

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Nick Bruzon

Is it all smoke and mirrors? Or have we been here before? Jota missing again.

16 Jul

Well that’s been an interesting few days for Brentford fans. Le tour de France is now over. We’ve seen another new signing with striker Neal Maupay joining from AS Saint-Étienne (he’s on the phone, presumably being the cry from the Griffin Park media suite as the deal was being confirmed). The friendly with Swiss side Lausanne-Sport ended in a 1-1 draw whilst we’ve now got less than three weeks until the season opener up at Sheffield United. Yet, for all that, there’s one word on supporter’s lips – Jota. Just what is going on?

Despite a wonderful looking line up in France for Saturday’s game with Lausanne, there were two notable absentees. Maxime Colin and, of course, the talismanic Spaniard – King Jota. Whilst Max was labelled an injury precaution, things were less clear on the subject of Jota. One could also argue that Lewis Macleod and Alan Judge were the other big names to miss out but given their lengthy injuries and recuperation there was never a chance of either player featuring.

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Injuries and absence aside, the team was a very strong one

BBC Billy Reeves had already probed Dean Smith last Friday on that subject. Likewise, I’ve already given my own thoughts (all that is here) but since then we’ve had radio silence. The ‘imminent’ big bid from a Premier League side has yet to materialise or, if it has, nobody is saying anything. The local press have no more clue than myself (at least, in public) whilst usually reliable sources on the rumour front such as Beesotted have remained very much under the radar.

It’s a shame the likes of Billy (Reeves – BBC and Grant – Beesotted) were missing yesterday. I’d love to have heard their thoughts and questions on a team line up that already looks incredibly strong for the forthcoming season. Stick Jota, Maupay and Colin in there too and Sheffield United could have a Championship baptism of fire. Not to mention the rest of the league .

Instead, it was left to ‘official’ where the match report had no managerial comment although Twitter did at least give us some update.

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 07.38.18So there you have it. Despite all the noise this just seems to be smoke and mirrors at the moment. Indeed, it all very much smacks of West Ham and Scott Hogan once more. All talk, all rumour, all unsettling but no action.

It reminds me in a way of the Simon Moore transfer. His sale had been talked up for most of the 2013/14 pre-season before he eventually ended up at Cardiff City. Prior to that though, he’d featured in a two minute pre-season cameo before being substituted with an ‘injury’. This, was immediately followed by his sale to a Cardiff City team we’d then play in a friendly after the infamous explanation for another absence as ‘visiting the beach’.

That game, for the record, being one we emerged from with a fantastic 3-2 win after going 2-0 down early on. Although Paul Hayes in the last minute doesn’t quite have the same ring.

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Simon Moore. Once went to Cardiff beach, according to Uwe

Is Jota being viewed as a big part of our plans for 2017/18 (one can only hope) or is the writing already on the wall? Without a doubt the club know more than they are saying in public – nobody expects them to reveal transfer dealings negotiations ahead of any deal being signed or rejected. But a second absence in eight days speaks huge volumes. If the player does feature against Oxford United on Wednesday, it will be very interesting to see for how long. A full 90 minutes or a token run out at the death? There’s going to be a lot of squeaky bums over the next three days, let alone the next three weeks.

On the positive side, the signing of Neal Maupay presents another exciting opportunity for Brentford. Nobody can deny that whatever the initial scepticism around our transfer strategy, we’ve unearthed some gems from the continent over the last few seasons.

Of course there’s Jota but you could add Yoann Barbet, Maxime Colin, Lasse Vibe, Andreas Bjelland and, in my mind, the criminally under used Konstantin Kerschbaumer to that list for starters. We’ll draw a discreet veil over Big Nick although he did join us from the English league so doesn’t really count in that bracket. That said, for the record, this Wednesday will mark the five year anniversary since Hull City paid SC Paderborn £2.6 million for his services. How times change.

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Neal Maupay – as seen on official

As a final thought for today, since the previous column about Peter Gilham it has been wonderful to see the outpouring of love and best wishes for Mr Brentford. Without a doubt he is one man to unite this club, having talked the Bees family through thick and (a lot of ) thin. So to read his own message was intensely heart warming for all of us but, as importantly, the fact that he has just carried on with his pre-season duties as though it was BAU.

His tour blogs have kept us updated as to those behind the scenes details of what goes on when the Bees are abroad. Here’s hoping he’s back with the mic on his hand for August 12th and our first home game.

Peter, we’re still thinking of you. Get well soon.

Nick Bruzon

As both managers speak, who will come out on top in FA Cup third round and who will start?

6 Jan

Brentford begin their FA Cup campaign on Saturday and it couldn’t be more intriguing if it tried. Martin Allen, a man who needs no introduction to Bees’ fans, brings his non-league Eastleigh side to Griffin Park for a third round tie that has so much to offer. But where to start ? And who will start?

Staff wise, the two names on everybody’s lips at the moment are Jota and Hogan. The former having returned from his loan in Spain this week with supporters desperate to see this most popular of players back in the red and white. One can only imagine the roof will come off when his name is announced, let alone when / if he makes it onto the pitch. Is it too soon? Could it be the perfect opportunity to reintegrate him to the first team? What a lovely decision Dean has to make.

As for Scott Hogan, stories are flying around thick and fast in regards to bids coming in fro the likes of Watford and West Ham. To those of us on the outside looking in, his sale looks a foregone conclusion but could Matthew Benham hold firm in regards to his most coveted asset?

Starting Scott on Saturday, effectively cup tieing the player prior to any potential move,  would be a key sign that we are not looking to sell. However, injury looks to have taken that one out of Dean’s hands anyway. The spasm in his right buttock which led to Scott being substituted in the 93rd minute on Saturday has now been changed to a glute injury, according to BBC Radio London.

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Is Scott on the injury list? Or the shopping list?

Whatever the cause, one could imagine him being rested tomorrow. Although, equally, West Ham host Manchester City tonight in their own third round tie. It is more than feasible that one of Scott’s reported suitors might not even be involved by the time we start proceedings.

Whomever starts tomorrow, this game represents a huge opportunity for Brentford to (apologies in advance) go again. Our recent form has not been great in this oldest of competitions and that’s being polite.

Brentford’s previous FA Cup game, at home to a Walsall side that Dean Smith had just left to join the Bees, was utterly shambolic. Apologies but there’s no other word for it. And moreso coming off the back of our League Cup humiliation at the hands of Oxford United where Marinus seemed to have picked his team on the basis of youth and inexperience.

Last year’s third round was a day that started with so much promise and ended with so much frustration. I’m absolutely convinced we’ll have learned from that and won’t make the same mistakes of complacency this time around. The lure of the fourth round and the prospect of fans being able to lift their tin foil trophies high are simply too great.

Certainly, Dean seems set for a cup run, despite acknowledging the slip hazard this game represents when he spoke to ‘official’ yesterday. Let’s just hope he has earned the lessons of last time out.

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Last year’s FA Cup third round had a rubbish ending

Then there’s the Martin Allen factor. As most of us can probably remember, he knows a thing or two about cup runs and upsets. He certainly knows a thing or two about motivation.

One of our most popular managers in modern times, he remains a favourite at Griffin Park and only this week has spoken to the team at Beesotted with his thoughts on the game as well as reflecting on events at Brentford back in the day.

Great work from Billy Grant and team in getting hold of the opposition manager just prior to a big cup tie for what really must be an exclusive and rare interview in such circumstances. You can find that one an hour in to the latest podcast, which is available here. Well, well worth a listen.

Tickets remain available on the day and start from  just £10 for adults (that’s less than the price of two pints in some pubs these days) or £5 for the kids.

Where else are you gong to go? Ikea? Westfield? The mother-in-law’s?

Surely it can only be Griffin Park? Surely it can only be a Brentford win?

Surely…..

See you there.

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

A good news, bad news, interesting news kind of day as Bees prepare for Fulham.

3 Nov

Well, yesterday was all over the place. With Brentford looking to follow last Friday’s West London derby win over QPR with a repeat against Fulham there was bad news, good news and interesting news coming out of Griffin Park. That final point, one which will have as much intrigue for Cottagers as Bees with the three most exciting words in the English language : Terrace Talk Extra.

First up; the bad news. We all feared the worst when Lewis Macleod collapsed in a heap at Loftus Road last week. An elongated period of treatment that saw the player eventually stretchered away took the shine off an otherwise wonderful evening.

Despite our most optimistic hopes, the realist amongst the Brentford faithful braced themselves for bad news. Sure enough, it has now been delivered. Not only will Lewis miss the game against Fulham but, indeed, the next nine months as he undergoes what has been described as ‘reconstructive knee surgery’.

It’s terrible news for Lewis. The Brentford family all know his well documented struggle with injury yet, this season, it looked like he’d finally got past all of that. A series of strong performances had seen him as one of the star players in Dean Sith’s team yet now the future must seem a bleak one.

That said, he couldn’t hope for a finer support network around him. Brentford have always shown tremendous long term faith in their injured players whilst several of his own team mates have been there, too.

Andreas Bjelland missed almost the entire of last season following a severe knee injury picked up less than 45 minutes into his debut  – ‘that’ cup match against Oxford United. Likewise, in Scott Hogan we have a man a man who has more than been there before coming back bigger and better after an agonising 18 month wait to return from reconstructive surgery after his own, well documented, knee ligament injury.

Indeed, the infrequent ’tweeter’ broke his usual vow of cyber silence yesterday to post this message :

Any further words at this juncture would seem somewhat trite. The Brentford family will all be behind Lewis, wishing him the very best. Here’s hoping he’s back on the anti-gravity treadmill before we know it.

The other tweet to catch my eye yesterday was from Lasse Vibe – the aforementioned interesting news.

It was nothing more complex than the ‘scissors’ emoji followed by a link to instantgram, “whatever that is”, to quote one of Peter Gilham’s finest on pitch announcements from last season. Well, it seems that in this instance Lasse has had a makeover.

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Lasse Vibe: Hair today. Gone tomorrow

Gone are the flowing locks to be replaced by super smart new look and accompanying glasses. The reaction around cyberspace seems largely a popular one. Top comments to his post included: “footballer to wizard in one cut!”  , “Looks like you should be in University Challenge!” and the somewhat worrying thought “Please don’t become like Torres after his haircut “.

That said, the new image did have me wondering whom Lasse now resembles. The Boy wizard? Bees fan Simon? El Niño himself? Or somebody else?

Personally, I prefer the ‘or somebody else’ option, simply because it allows us to crank out a montage. Clockwise from top right, could it be: Brett Stark from mid-90s Neighbours (kids, ask  your mums), Magne from A-ha (again, kids ask….) , Brad Pitt or our own video editor par excellence , Sean Ridley?

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Who’s got that Vibe?

And talking of Sean Ridley (as seamless a name drop as noted pie fantasist Ian Moose offering birthday wishes to “my good friend….”), Wednesday’s good news saw a bonus: Terrace Talk Extra.

Coming in at close to thirteen minutes of head to head brilliance, it sees  a Fulham fan venturing deep into the heart of enemy territory. Well, The Griffin. There, he has gone one-on-one with one of our own for a light hearted, but very informative, preview of Friday night’s game.

Which Brentford player would Fulham most like to sign? Who is elderly ‘keeper with a generic name, Ted Smith ? How many loving shots of delicious and refreshing Frontier lager could Sean cram in?

You can find the answers to all of these in Terrace Talk Extra: below.

Who comes out on top? Brentford or Fulham?

And finally, an apology for an oversight. Tuesday saw the Last Word rundown of the best ever Brentford moustaches. Yet, it would seem, there has been a major oversight. No Barry Tucker.

Well I’m more than happy to put that right. Better late than never, here’s Barry’s ‘tache…

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Nick Bruzon

Crazy transfers, spray on pants and the chance to win a cup tie

9 Aug

Brentford travel to Exeter City in the first round of the League Cup tonight, no doubt anxious to make up for last season’s humiliation at this stage when Oxford United were given the freedom of Griffin Park. Elsewhere, those of us with half an ear to the wider football grapevine can breath a huge sigh of relief at the news that the Paul Pogba to Manchester United saga is finally over. And Olympic fever is slowly taking hold in the Bruzon household.

First up, as ever, Brentford. The trip to Exeter City marks a chance for the Bees to start another attempt at a cup run after a  somewhat disappointing last couple of seasons. Capitulation in the FA cup against Brighton in 2014/15 was followed by last season’s no show at home to Walsall. As for the League Cup, who needs any reminder of the tie with League Two Oxford United?

Well, all of us do – just to make sure it never happens again. Dean, if you are reading (you aren’t)  I realise this wasn’t your fault but….

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

 

Marinus Oxford touchline

The Oxford United fiasco (not a prog rock band)

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Steve Austin – 0.5 of a Grabban

Nick Bruzon

If another player is going to be missing, can we find our voice?

25 Mar

Is Josh McEachran out for the rest of the season? With the loan window not so much being slammed as quietly easing shut yesterday, it was being reported on both West London Sport and Sky Sports (although both Lyall Thomas) that the former Chelsea man has suffered a training ground injury similar to the one that kept him out for such a long time at the Marinus end of the season. And with nobody else joining Leandro Rodríguez from Everton, despite suggestions after the Blackburn game that Head Coach Dean Smith was looking to make two more short-term acquisitions what does this mean for the Bees?

Firstly, and as has been said many times, our local press love talk of a double transfer swoop. An event that is actually rarer than a Nick Proschwitz goal, when it comes to inbound activity this is one area where I take nothing as fact until Matthew Benham has fired up his cryptic clue generator, Besotted have run an ‘exclusive’ or Brentford official have published the ‘signing shirt’ photo. I’ll also accept: ‘player holding scarf aloft’ or ‘new man sitting in portacabin holding pen over contract’.

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Josh signs for Brentford – classic ‘contract’ pose

Still, aside from goalkeepers (where Dean can still delve into the market to cover a ‘7 day emergency’), we now know the make up of the players available to see us, hopefully, over the line and start preparations for a third successive season in the Championship. Or do we?

The McEachran question is very much out there with nothing, as at the time of writing (Friday morning), from Brentford official. It would be a huge shame for the Bees and the player if this is the case. Josh did, if we’re being honest, struggle at the early part of his Griffin Park career but had been showing steady improvement over his 15 games. Now, it could be back to square one.

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The injuries have piled up this season

Moreso, it would be yet another injury in a season which has been overshadowed (amongst other things) by the vast amount of players sidelined for medical reasons. We were told at the fans forum earlier in the season it was nothing but coincidence yet this horrendous run of bad luck has hardly helped our cause.

Still, we are where we are and there is enough quality in this squad to more than see us home. Should they play to their potential and ability – as a team. None of this ‘one man show’ stuff that we saw against a Blackburn side who were there for the taking.

Presumably Alan McCormack will slot straight into Josh’s position whilst we can also expect that other Chelsea wunderkind, John Swift, to return after the strange affair of the ‘hipster’ meme. Here’s hoping this period of enforced absence will have him reinvigorated and firing on all guns, back to the player who helped tear Wolves apart back in February. That result, a rare moment of solace in a 2016 that has seen Brentford lose 11 out of our 14 fixtures. Only the win at Preston and draw with Leeds in late January breaking the run of L’s blotting Dean’s copy book this calendar year.

We can moan and bitch about results all we want. Most of us have at various points, myself included. And rightly so at times.Yet without a bit of solidarity now, we could conceivably be facing a desperate start to 2016/17. In League 1.

The Bees still have to play 4 of the teams below us and with the gap a mere 6 points between us and the relegation spots, let’s not take anything for granted. Let’s not leave it too late to find our voice and our unity. Let’s not leave it too late to stop sniping at each other.

Absolutely, the players and the management team have to play their part. They are the only ones who can secure the points. But as supporters, we also have a our own role. Assuming we want to stay up, of course.

I saw a quite terrifying graphic on Twitter last night, c/o Jonathan Burchill. It highlighted this season and our previous Championship relegation campaign, back in 1992/93.

No words needed…..

The choice is simple. Stay up and we could be taking on the likes of Aston Villa and Newcastle United (I’m counting Chelsea as safe now, despite their mid-season hilarity). Throw it away, and it’ll be trips to Bristol Rovers, Oxford and Accrington Stanley.

Accrington Stanley, you may ask. Who are they?

Exactly.

Nick Bruzon