Tag Archives: Pep Clotet

Andy Scott the unlikely hero as Bees thump MK to begin Dean Smith era.

6 Dec

As home debuts go, this was about as good as it gets. Dean Smith, the new Brentford Head Coach, couldn’t have written a better script had he tried – such was the performance delivered in a 2-0 victory over MK Dons. Bees fans left Griffin Park asking,”Pep who?” as the attacking line up delivered everything it promised.

Indeed the other more pertinent question being asked was. “How the hell was it only 2”? With Brentford having taken a first half lead via the head of Lasse Vibe and the inch perfect cross delivery of Jake Bidwell, the floodgates looked set to open. Alan Judge was next up, drawing a wonderful save from David Martin in the MK Dons when, clean through, he was odds on to score. No matter. The goal would come. Surely?

The same player (whose work in the build up for the opener also needs due credit) hit the post with a stunning free kick that saw Kerschbaumer’s subsequent follow up cleared off the line. But if that was close, Sergi Canos was next up to have a crack.

The Spaniard worked a wonderful chance but thundered his effort of the woodwork with Martin floundering and the goal begging. If the aforementioned Judge, ‘one on one’ put one in mind of the great Clayton Donaldson, this one had the name of Marcello Trotta on everybody’s lips. The Ealing Road crossbar resounded with a thump not heard since ‘that penalty’.

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View from the terrace – Canos thunder a shot off the bar

An opening period that also saw Vibe having had a goal denied thanks to the offside flag, left the fans ecstatic but, equally, wondering how MK were (technically) still in it. Moreso, when Vibe hit the bar for a third time as the second half got underway. It was a wonderful strike that deserved better and had supporters fearing it might be one of those days.

For those of us a bit longer in the tooth, it had all the hallmarks of an ‘old school’ Brentford game. Domination, chance after chance, stonewall penalties turned down, woodwork rattled and then Milton Keynes grabbing a scrappy, late equaliser.

Vibe 2-0 no

View from the terrace – Vibe makes it 2-0 before the linesman intervenes

Instead, justice was done. Alan Judge, who had done everything but score, finally found the back of the net on seventy minutes. His effort from the edge of the box eluding everybody to roll in past Martin and finally give us the breathing space we’d been gasping for

And that really was it. Pressure off, Brentford played out the final twenty minutes of which the highlight was, absolutely, the return of Jota for a ten-minute cameo at the end.

His presence on the bench, along with Sam Saunders, Andy Gogia and Philipp Hofmann certainly signaled an attacking intent from Dean Smith. Equally pleasing was the presence of Josh McEachran amongst the substitutes, following a late withdrawal for Alan McCormack. Whilst the former Chelsea player didn’t get a run out, this time, Dean Smith’s arrival has been perfectly timed to coincide with the squad returning to peak fitness.

Jota is back

Jota prepares to make his long awaited return

As for the Head Coach? Well, you can’t deny the impact he had. An attacking bench and a team who ‘went for it’ from the off. Even that most awkward of tactics, ‘kicking the wrong way in the first half’ failed to put us off our stride. He was rightly pleased at full time, telling the BBC, “Today’s performance was excellent” although also gave full credit to Lee Carsley for putting the squad in this position.

Even more incredibly, we scored from a short corner. Yes – you read that correctly. A short. Corner.

Judge’s goal coming from a move that began with one of these much-maligned set pieces. As the regular reader knows, “Don’t take it short. They never f**king work”, if the terrace mantra is to be believed. Frankly, there’d be more chance of Chelsea losing at home to Bournemouth than one of these ever succeeding.

Well, we did and we scored. Thanks also to the influence of Sam Saunders – king of the set piece. If this is the Dean Smith effect, the next game can’t come soon enough. Moreso, with the Bees now just one point off sixth placed Cardiff City. Fulham away on Saturday already promised to be as exciting as last season’s game. You can crank that up to 11, now.

And finally, I saw a post on Twitter last night from Matthew Benham after the match. Who knows how football works behind the scenes but this one was a revelation that has come out of leftfield.

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Matthew Benham – back to his Twitter best !

I was always a huge fan of Andy as a player and was gutted when Ron Noades let him go to Oxford. Whilst his managerial career could perhaps be described as ‘mixed’ (although I’ll never forget that night against Everton), who knew he had such Griffin Park connection and influence?

Nice work Matthew. Great work Andy.

But most of all, excellent start Dean.

Nick Bruzon

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Can ‘maths’ provide distraction from Swansea and Walsall manager talk?

29 Nov

Could the deal for Walsall boss Dean Smith to take over at Brentford be back on? The Saddlers’ boss had been mentioned as a potential target earlier in the month even though local paper the Express and Star deemed it to be “far-fetched” at the time. But with the trip to Bolton Wanderers upon us, the Daily Telegraph are now reporting the move is back on with Matthew Benham puling the plug on Pep Clotet at Swansea City and casting his eyes back up to the Bescot.

The story, by John Percy, can’t be deemed entirely accurate, given the description of Matthew Benham as our chairman. He may be many things – owner, investor, fan since 1979 – but I’m sure Cliff Crown may have something to say about any claims along those lines. Further, the article doesn’t actually include any quotes from any source so there is no way of knowing if it is factually accurate or mere speculation.

Cliff post MOTM 2014 interview

Cliff Crown – remains Chairman ahead of Matthew !

 

The one thing we can say is that the Brentford head coach situation has dragged on since the club ‘parted company’ with Marinus Dijkhuizen back in late September. Lee Carsley was appointed temporarily before first saying he didn’t want it, then winning manager of the month, last week saying he’d had his last game in charge and it then being announced he’d have control for the Bolton game. Understandably, both speculation and a desire for answers are rife.

Throughout this period the names of Swansea City and Pep Clotet have been the ones being bandied around. But the Telegraph is suggesting that despite an interview being conducted, Matthew is now looking elsewhere.

With Walsall just two points off the League One automatic promotion places, Smith would certainly appear to be a man on the up. Moreso, once who has a reputation for operating on what could be deemed a ‘limited budget’. Contrast this with Clotet, where Swansea City are struggling in the Premier League.

Only Chelsea and the other relegation candidates sit below them. A trip to Anfield today could see him looking for a new job, regardless of Brentford’s ambitions. Or even taking over in the Swan’s hotseat – at least, in a caretaker role – should Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool register a win.

Regardless, this remains intrigue and speculation from all parties. If any official announcement of substance is made on a Sunday I’d be amazed. That said, John Percy has since taken to Twitter to add a further nugget of information that could have Brentford and Walsall fans intrigued.

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For now though, we’d be as well concentrating on the game at Bolton tomorrow. Moreso, given Saturday’s results that saw QPR and Fulham both remaining behind the Bees. Victory in front of the Sky cameras will see us move four and five points clear, respectively, of our rivals and at the business end of the table, to within one point of the play offs.

After Birmingham City went down to new leaders Brighton, the Blues remain on 28 points – in sixth place after 18 games. And with the Bees currently on 24 after 17, it doesn’t take Rachel Riley to do the maths on this one.

Monday had plenty of promise already. The weekend news may just have increased that significantly.

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Our artist’s impression of Rachel ‘doing the maths’, Brentford style

Nick Bruzon

Five days and this is the explanation? It feels a bit ‘villagey’

28 Nov

So as expected by just about everybody, with the Bolton Wanderers game on Monday night and no new head coach in charge (are we waiting for a sacking at Swansea City?), Lee Carsley will start his second stint as caretaker at Brentford. Or, should I say, he “Will continue as head coach”, if you read the official statement.

Despite Lee’s own admission last week when talking to Billy Reeves at BBC Radio London, “That was the last game for myself and Paul today” he finds himself back in charge of Brentford – at least in the short term. And it is a decision which makes absolute sense, given the circumstance, although how we have got there remains what could politely be described as somewhat ‘peculiar’.

The interview with Billy seemed pretty definitive about his own position and forthcoming future, in which Lee went on to add, “I am going to miss all this. It has been a fantastic couple of months”.

And by peculiar, I specifically mean the five days of media and comms radio silence before Phil Giles published his statement yesterday, saying , “In Lee’s last post-match press conference, he discussed the possibility that the Nottingham Forest game would be his last in charge.”

The Possibility? Apologies, but that bears repeating. The..possibility. Seriously. That was the opening gambit. The phrase, “That was my last game” seems like a nailed on statement to me.

Come on. We aren’t a bunch of idiots and all know what we heard. Equally we know that this sort of process can take time and, after the start to the season, every Brentford fan wants the club to get this right. But handling things like this has produced the expected reaction – and by no means directed at Lee who the fans, myself included, are just chuffed to have back in time for (at least) one more game.

Twitter was awash with comments, all of those I saw along very similar lines. And you can ignore social media all you want, but this is the gut reaction of the people coming through the turnstile.

 

And there are plenty more along those lines. The point being that fans didn’t seem overly thrilled at how things had been handled. That said,at least we had the calming influence of the aforementioned Mr. Reeves to add to the mix.

Billy on Lee

 

Let’s be clear, I want to know what as going on as much as the next person. I wrote as much about the current scenario in yesterday’s column. Equally, whilst it may well have been Lee’s intention to step down after the Forest game – something Phil and Rasmus were also expecting – no immediate follow up statement , followed by five days of silence before this latest effort lends an almost ‘villagey’ feel to proceedings.

We’ve not been great at PR for years. Here’s another example. The most frustrating part of this being that it doesn’t even cost anything – just a bit of common sense.

Still, I’m sure this will all sort itself out but it doesn’t half leave a bitter taste in the mouth. That phrase about being able to organise parties and breweries springs to mind.

Things are going great on the pitch. I fully respect Lee’s decision and, indeed, am really pleased he’s agreed to continue in the short term.

Here’s to it all continuing on Monday at Bolton.

Nick Bruzon

 

Is this today’s big unveiling?

26 Nov

Is this today’s big unveiling? I don’t mean at Leeds United, where their stunning 2016 calendar goes on sale, but of course at Brentford. Whilst we’ll get to Elland Road shortly, in TW8 we are five days on since Lee Carsley announced he’d spent his last game in charge of the first team. However, at the time of writing (Thursday morning, 6.30am) we are no closer to knowing who will succeed him in time for the televised game at Bolton Wanderers on Monday.

On what is, traditionally, ‘press day’ at the Brentford Media Centre, could we meet the new man? Or woman? Few clues have been given out beyond the mention of names as diverse as Pep Clotet, Justin Edinburgh, Uwe Rösler and, erm, Neil Warnock. Even our beloved local press, so often happy to chuck any ‘transfer related double swoop’ name into the mix, in the hope that some mud sticks, have gone silent on the topic. So will we find out today?

I’m no wiser. As a humble blogger my own knowledge is no greater than anybody reading although I share your enthusiasm in wanting to find out who the next occupant of the monogrammed training wear will be.

What I can confirm is that, currently, my own availability is yet to entice Matthew Benham to pick up the phone. With a 100% win ratio as co-manager of ‘Brentford Legends’ and a failed (on the assumption that nothing got ‘lost in the post’ ) application to manage Preston North End back in 1990 on my C.V., this can only mean there is a ‘big gun’ lined up.

Although if not…Mr. Benham – I’m still good for it.

Preston letter

Could the reply still be lost in the post?

The other reveal that is definitely due is that of the new Leeds United 2016 calendar. Apparently this has been deemed ‘controversial’ but I think it’s nothing short of pure class. Put together by nightclub owner and friend of Massimo Cellino, Terry George, it features the players in what could be deemed ‘unconventional’ poses.

Certainly , it bucks the trend from the standard ‘match action’ calendar that contains the sort of pictures we see on websites and in programmes, day in day out. The club have even put together a launch video on YouTube showing the players in everything from their smalls to fishing gear.

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All of which got me both admiring the brilliance but also wondering if there is time for us to go down a similar route. Assuming, of course, that the marketing team don’t already have something similar lined up.

‘Brentford is Brilliant’, proclaim signs all around the town. What better way to show this than have the players involved in a series of shots celebrating our heritage?

David Button juggling hot plates in Brentford Tandoori. Harlee Dean feeding the ducks at the canal. Alan Judge at Brentford County Court.Lewis Macleod picking up the leaves in St.Paul’s Park.

Perhaps, though, we’ll leave Sam Saunders away from the car wash.

Sam Saunders

Could we have a new Mr. January 2016 ?

Leeds calendar dinner

The video shows more briliance

 Nick Bruzon

Dean marchin’ , Lee walking but three more points.

22 Nov

Brentford stormed to yet another last gasp win, this time over Nottingham Forest, as a 2-1 victory proved yet again the ‘never say die’ attitude in this team. In scenes reminiscent of this season’s game with Ipswich Town and countless more at Griffin Park over the last few campaigns, Forest played the ultimate price for letting the Bees play to the final whistle. But it was the red card for Harlee Dean that has overshadowed the points and the confirmation from Lee Carsley that it was his own final game in charge.

The big centreback was shown straight red after a stupid flash of petulance saw him lash out at Forest’s Jonathan Williams. It was the briefest of moments, coming straight after a clumsy challenge by Dean on Nélson Oliveira saw a free kick awarded and a tussle over the ball with Williams.

But however brief or aggrieved one might feel, there’s no excuse for raising your arm. Referees have been programmed to show red in such instances and to do so at any time, let alone right in front of the ref and with his own team leading, was utterly inept.

His cause wasn’t helped by Williams collapsing like a sack of spuds but the damage, compounded by the Forest player’s Lazarus style recovery, had already been done.

Harlee will be a big loss for us. He was one of the boys not doing themselves justice at the start of the season, but he is now playing like a leader” said Lee Carsley after the match. For somebody who was being touted as a potential captain at the start of the season, these were anything but the actions of a leader. The challenge was cumbersome but the subsequent action was inexcusable.

We’ve been saying for the last few weeks that a red card is coming, although usually in the direction of Alan McCormack. Given Lee’s confirmation that he’s had his last game in charge, this couldn’t have come at a worse time for the player given we’ll have a new manager looking to run his eye over the team.

I’ve asked many times who drives ‘official’ twitter and this was one of many such instances. Reading the match feed, it was as though we’d been somehow wronged.

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‘Official’ twitter have their own view on the incident

 

Of course, ‘live’ comments can be made in the heat of the moment but the theme was then followed in the official match report, describing it as an “altercation”, before later adding, “Williams bounced up seemingly untouched as Dean marched angrily towards the dressing room.”

Football is an emotional game and things happen in an instant. That said, if one of our players does something like this then at least have the good grace to hold up your hands and acknowledge it afterwards. Albeit that, of course, such action is what got Harlee into trouble in the first place.

We’ve all got eyes and the majority view at the time from those who saw it was that the ref got it right. Terrace observers made comments including, “Deserved”, “Definitely a straight red” and “Furious. He’s denied us any chance of seeing Sam Saunders”.

Review of the footage, which has been available to all on the Sky website since 5.15pm last night, would further support this view. It would take a pretty blinkered fanatic not to accept that, in this case, we were in the wrong. Yet instead we plough on, North Korea style, with tales of glorious victories and atrocities committed against the imperious Bees.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. The victory itself was glorious! David Button keeping us in it until the second half turning of the screw. Sergi Canos opening proceedings when he got on the end of Harlee’s header – a final meaningful contribution before marching off for an early bath – only for an almost instant post red equaliser.

But, again, this only galvanised the Bees. Pressure built and wave after wave of attack was eventually rewarded in the 96th minute of the game. Philipp Hofmann fired through, and around, a crowded penalty box to send the crowd wild and Mark Burridge, up in the Beesplayer commentary box, to a level of excitement not heard since his ‘Burridgegasm’ at Blackburn Rovers.

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Sky viewers see the aftermath of that winner

But despite the win, I can’t help but be drawn back to that red card incident. I like Harlee Dean and it’s not particularly pleasing having to write negative comments about him, or any player. However, I can only call things how I see them. I’m sure he’ll learn from this and maybe even protest innocence but the footage is pretty damning.

Still, we are where we are and in Jack O’Connell have a more than capable replacement for the trip to Bolton Wanderers next Monday. Instead, the next question is more around who will be in charge for that one.

Lee Carsley confirmed after the match that it was pretty much his last game, with a new manager due to come in over the next couple of days. Who this will be remains under firmly under wraps with names as far reaching as Pep Clotet, Justin Edinburgh and even Neil Warnock being bandied around.

For now, I just want to thank Lee – a reluctant hero – for more than steadying the ship after the ill-fated experiment at the start of the season. Things didn’t quite work out , despite a glimmer of potential, but the transformation since the changeover has been an incredible one.

Lee has the honour of a ‘manager of the month’ award and the Bees are now just four points away from the play offs . No doubt there’ll be plenty written about the new appointment over the course of the coming week but, in the short term, Lee can step away with his head held high after a great job, very well done.

Lee Carsley MOTM

Lee  Carsley – HUGE thanks from the fans

Nick Bruzon