Tag Archives: Plan A

Can we just go straight to Plan B?

27 Sep

Mark Warburton may have a Plan B up at Rangers (I don’t know, I don’t follow the Scottish Championship that closely) but he famously didn’t have one at Brentford. Marinus, on the other hand, does but as Sheffield Wednesday left Griffin Park with all three points yesterday, Brentford fans were left wondering why Plan A doesn’t seem to be working.

For the seventh time in eight league games we fell behind before, as we did last Saturday, stepping up our game considerably in the Second half. But unlike the game against Preston, where we stormed back to a 2-1 win, this time it was Sheffield Wednesday who achieved that scoreline – a 90th minute goal on the break from Lucas João being the ultimate difference between the two teams.

View from the terrace - the HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate at that point

View from the terrace. The HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate ….at that point

We can take positives from the way the team played for the majority of the second half, despite being down to ten men. The penalty awarded for James Tarkowski’s foul on Atdhe Nuhiu with less than 40 minutes on the clock saw the giant centre forward stroke it past David Button as well as, eventually, earning a red card for the fit again centre back.

It was a strange decision (the sending off, I mean). Indecisive referee Geoff Eltringham allowing himself to be harangued by Wednesday players before consulting a linesman who, eventually, helped him come to the decision of ‘straight red’. This, despite Jake Bidwell clearly being the last man back between Nuhiu and the goalkeeper.

Nuhiu is the sort of player you’d love in your team. Physical, huge presence and a proper nuisance. And he knew the way to goal – seeing an earlier effort come back off the bar. He went to ground very easily on more than one instance yet Eltringham saw nothing wrong in his game to warrant even a talking to, let alone a yellow, at any point.

Still, if Brentford went in a man and a goal down, they did everything to start fighting their way back into the game. Jack O’Connell had a stunning effort at the back with a number of perfectly timed tackles and challenges. It was a shame he was the unfortunate man in the wrong place at the wrong time for 2-1 as Brentford were exposed, pushing for a late winner.

Likewise, Josh Clarke at right back looked very impressive, especially bringing the ball out of defence. I’d be very interested to see him playing ahead of Alan Mac at some point, with the midfielder returning to that defensive role he’d made his own in the past.

With the Bees pressing, a goal seemed likely and finally it came – from the most unlikely of assists. David Button pushed almost to the half way line to curl a cross-field ball to Alan Judge. It was an exquisite delivery from a ‘keeper whose distribution has been lambasted in the past but the execution from Judge was even better.

A perfect trap and then shot across the goal into the far corner sent the crowd wild. Even the club staff celebrated that one to a fanatical level – a moment captured by the Football League Tonight and Beesplayer cameras.

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

At 1-1 and pushing it looked as though Brentford might snatch a winner that, in the first half, had been the last thing anybody expected. Instead, when the more prudent amongst us might have reverted to Plan A and locked things up to get an unlikely point, we went for it. You can’t knock Marinus’ desire and moreso with Wednesday also down to 10 men at this point.

But with the Bees in the Sheffield box, the ball broke and once Lucas João had picked O’Connell’s pocket, not even the Herculean David Button had sufficient strength to hold back the last minute one-on-one.

It was a bitter blow and moreso, having been given the hope of a route back into a game we had no chance of being anywhere near on the first half showing. Bees stat guru Luis Melville nailed it on twitter late last night with this very telling observation:

Luis's stats remain 'the bomb' (that's a good thing, I believe)

Luis’s stats remain ‘the bomb’ (that’s a good thing, I believe)

The positive is a chance to get straight back into action on Tuesday night against a Birmingham City side that hasn’t won in three (and went down at home to Rotherham United yesterday). The negative is that we haven’t really got a huge element of team choice, given the injury crisis and suspension for Tarks. Will the players have enough in the tank for another 90 minutes – moreso, against a team containing a few familiar faces in Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson?

Away from Griffin Park, the Pele cup took place at the training ground. The great man himself was, indeed, at Jersey Road where Cliff Crown was amongst the fortunate few to meet him. Hopefully they just discussed football, football, football (and, perhaps, Escape To Victory) rather than Pele’s foray into TV advertising. I would.

A moment I never thought I'd see - Pele and the Brentford chairman.

A moment I never thought I’d see – Pele and the Brentford chairman.

And then I did it. Football League Tonight. I sat through the full 90 minutes. Or should that be, stood.

Having previously given the show a good kicking on it’s debut (one which, for the record, I still stand by) it’s been pleasing to see the gimmicks fall away and, over the weeks, Channel 5 giving us a more traditional ‘highlights package’. So when the opportunity came to be an audience member, it seemed churlish to turn it down.

Being honest, I’m impressed. What we tend to take for granted is that this is a live show. Given how soon it is transmitted after the action ends, there’s no real choice but despite the problems they suffered in the opening weeks, fair play for sticking to that element. Moreso, with the ‘random’ element of an audience.

Not as bawdy as Soccer AM but sufficiently different from the Football League Show, they have now fused the better parts of each programme. Kelly Cates is definitely the show’s shining star and the chemistry from George Riley is growing.

The audience interview still seemed a bit stilted (then again, that could just be the price you pay for talking to MK Dons fans) although I do like the idea of this quick snapshot from the ‘regular fan’ aswell as the players – Barry Bannan of Sheffield Wednesday being the man brought in to admit, small consolation, that his team and been lucky to get the win.

As for Adam Virgo – I’m still not sure what to make of him. Part footballer, part Clem, part geography teacher. He’s no Leroy (still my favourite pundit from Manish’s Football League Show) but then again, he’s no Steve Claridge and is looking a lot more confortable in the role

Does it beat the Football League Show? No, not yet. Then again, football highlights shows have been in such a set style for so long that it is a format we’ve had drilled into us. You can’t knock Channel 5 for attempting to break from the norm and, moreso, acknowledge that their initial attempts to do so were somewhat OTT.

Will I watch again? Absolutely. Many of the previous gripes have been ironed out and Kelly, especially, did a great job (catching George with one particular zinger about his age and Top of the Pops). Ultimately, the show gives us what we need – the highlights, in order, with a number of extended games.

It’s just a shame that, with more focus on Brentford, we didn’t see the Bees pick up any points. Still, there’s always Tuesday. It won’t be easy and, being honest, I’m anxious.

Then again, Griffin Park under floodlights is a magical place and, IF we can start that one like we ended this one (the goal aside!) then who knows what could happen….

Mark Burridge certainly enjoys the Judge strike (along with the rest of the video highlights)

Nick Bruzon

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Brentford do have a Plan B. And Plan C

9 Aug

Brentford have done it again. 2-0 down at home to Ipswich Town and with the clock showing 90, injury time goals from Andre Gray and James Tarkowski gave us a point that saw the reign of Marinus Dijkhuizen get off to an incredible start.

Did we deserve it? Just. The Bees looked very solid early on with Judge and Gogia linking wonderfully. Jota showed his appetite for goal has not diminished over the summer (well saved Bartosz Bialkowski in the Ipswich goal) but then things hit the skids with about 20 minutes left in the first half.

The defence started to stretch and the goal, just before half time, was an inevitable consequence as Kevin Bru made it 1-0. Still, if that was bad the second, just the other side of the break, was even sloppier as Ryan Fraser was given the freedom of the Griffin Park penalty box to make it 0-2 Ipswich.

View from the stands - Bru celebrates (too early) as Ipswich open the scoring

View from the stands – Bru celebrates as Ipswich score and one steward seems to go a bit ‘Cantona’

But fairplay to Marinus. He went for broke – not even waiting until the 60th minute for a substitution. Andre Gray replaced Konstantin Kerschbaumer on 54 and then Lasse Vibe came on for Alan McCormack for the final twenty minutes.

With three strikers on the pitch simultaneously, could the Bees make it work?

Well, despite Vibe missing a glorious opportunity, Andre latched on to a long ball over the top and, one on one with Bialkowski, kept his nerve to halve the deficit two minutes in to the five that referee Coote had added on. Marinus told Billy Reeves after the game that the young striker “was not mentally ready to start so we had a common decision to keep him on the bench and if we need him, then we bring him.”

What a response from a player that the head coach also admitted “Yes. Maybe” when asked if he would be on his way, following further transfer speculation.

And then, with moments left, the place really went bonkers. With David Button up for a corner, the ball hit the crossbar and seemed to hang in the air for an eternity before James Tarkowski stabbed it home through a sea of players with pretty much the last touch of the game.

It was the sort of bundled effort we’d seen Jonathan Douglas score time and again last season as Griffin Park exploded. Even better, we’ve stopped taking corners short and, guess what, scored from one.

View from the stands: Don't. Take it. Short. Ok then - goal !!!!

View from the stands: Don’t. Take it. Short. Ok then – goal !!!!

And talking of Dougie, there IS life without him. Understandably, the new look team are going to take a few games to gel whilst transfer speculation and the playing surface didn’t help anybody. But can we read anything into Dougie coming on after 78 minutes with the visitors cruising and the final result? I’ll leave that one to you.

The other major talking point from the game was the state of the pitch. Looking about an inch deep, laid on top of builder’s sand, what on earth has happened to it? Regardless of the huge chunks being kicked out of the turf, I can’t help but think somebody could get a serious injury such was the way it was cutting up.

Whilst the ‘official’ Beesplayer postmatch interview with Marinus edited out his comments on the surface, the BBC have them in full c/o of Billy Reeves (who I must also congratulate on his very brave choice of tie – if you saw it, you’ll know)

He asked the question of Marinus and got the answer. “The pitch is a disaster. Its awful, unbelievable. In preseason Boreham Wood had a good pitch…here it’s terrible.”

Even Channel 5 failed to make it look good on their new look highlight’s package But then that was such a car crash of a football show that they’d have failed to make Cameron Diaz look good. And Bees fans, if you want my full review on that (including the best of Twitter) you can read that here – think Mick Fleetwood and Samantha Fox presenting the Brits.

It was a point also noted by the Ipswich fans who, I have to say, were in great form. Talking after the game in particular, you could have forgiven them for some frustration after what would have been seen as a ‘smash and grab’ from Brentford. Instead, there was almost a relief that football was back combined with a resignation that she has lost none of her ability to kick supporters in the nuts.

We’ll be doing well to top this level of excitement over the next 45 games but, knowing Brentford, I’m sure they’ll give it their very best shot.

And talking of ‘best shots’  – special credit to Andre Gray. I have no idea about what is happening behind the scenes but I’m desperate for us to hang on to him. It was an ice cool finish at a high pressure moment.

We want you to stay” sang the crowd. That chant didn’t work on Alex Pritchard and, whilst perhaps a somewhat futile gesture, you can fully understand the sentiment.

Did he hear it? Will he listen? Prove me wrong !

Nick Bruzon

As summer looms there is a plan B…and a plan C

6 Jun

Things are tough being a Brentford fan at this time of the year. With the League campaign not due to kick off until the weekend of 8/9 August, the next two months loom ahead as a long and painful wait. What has already seemed an interminable amount of time since Bournemouth were crowned champions and Norwich City beat Middlesbrough in the play offs promises to be all the worse as summer drags.

Actually, let me quantify that opening line slightly. This isn’t a scenario totally unique to Brentford. We weren’t alone in coming ‘so close’ and there are as many other teams who must be chomping at the bit to get started once more (Middlesbrough, I’m sure, having a point to prove) .

Likewise, for those who did make it. Without a doubt there will be more than one Bournemouth fan with their eyes on the local newsagent for when those first packets of Panini stickers are released.

The possibility of seeing the Sam Saunders tan immortalised in sticker form for all time is just too great an opportunity missed and so I’m desperate for us to restart and, all being well, go one(or two) better.

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, it’s the annual clean up to make more space on the site for the inevitable follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are !