Tag Archives: Preston North End

The table doesn’t lie and the armchair provides an alternative view. Of sorts.

19 Sep

Ipswich Town 1 Brentford 1. The Bees stay second in the Championship behind Leeds United (themselves 3-0 victors over Preston last night) with a point at Portman Road. It was point that could well have been all three after a dominant first half but, in the end, we were grateful to take the one as our hosts cranked up the pressure in the second period. Indeed, they probably could have won it at the death when Kayden Jackson found himself clean through but fired high and wide.

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A draw on the road sees the Bees stay second

Full credit to those who travelled. This was a tricky/costly journey midweek in a period that has its share of road trips. We’ve Derby County on Saturday and then Arsenal, Wednesday (where the Piccadilly line strike currently scheduled looks like making this a circuitous one).  More telling, last night saw the first real chance for many of us to test the Sky Sports ‘red button’ option, now available for Championship games. With the somewhat dubious allure of Stoke – Swansea on the main screen, here was an opportunity for us to tap into the Bees feed from the comfort of our own armchairs.

Safe to say that, as it stands, this isn’t going to revolutionise football. It is, without doubt, a handy fall back option to have and one I was more than grateful for on a game that there was never any realistic opportunity of travelling for. Yet, perhaps spoiled by big production HD, the low res fuzziness made it hard to identify players whilst the lack of replays was an extreme frustration. The penalty denied Neal Maupay early in the first half a clear example. Moreso given the yellow card he subsequently earned for his trouble. Hmm

It would have been wonderful to see that one again. Likewise, a similar chance afforded to Ipswich just minutes later which the ref also turned down. There was no build up and no analysis at half time – just the TV equivalent of hold music. If anything, it was a slightly better version of the Saturday afternoon internet streams that used to be so prevalent a few season back, albeit with the added benefit of commentary.

That’s not to be ungrateful. Far from it. The picture was still more than watchable whilst it was a game under the belt where I’d otherwise have had no chance of seeing the action unfold. However, as the future of live broadcasting this has a long way to go and there is as much to be said for Billy Reeves and his BBC London crew or of course, where possible, actually being there.  However, when away clubs are going to start charging Leeds United or Sheffield Wednesday level prices for visiting fans, all of a sudden some smudgy-vision may not seem quite so bad. Moreso, if Sky get wise and look to improve the offering…

As for the game itself, this was very much the tale of two halves. The penalty incidents aside, Brentford dominated the first period. Neal Maupay’s header – his 8th goal in 6 games –  was the very least that our performance warranted. The Bees swept forward in waves, really cranking it up after the half hour, and even topped the league ‘as it stood’ when that one hit the back of the net.

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As it stood. Briefly….

It didn’t last. Just five minutes later, Liam Cooper unlocked the door to the Penthouse suite in the Championship table hotel for Leeds United as his own header put them in front against Preston. With both games staying 1-0 at half-time, more of the same was expected. It only came at Elland Road, sadly. Ipswich clearly hadn’t read the script and a couple of changes from manager Paul Hurst saw them looking like the promotion chasing side. Chance followed chance as the dead ball count started to rise. The woodwork was hit and shots were cleared off the line.

With just over a quarter of an hour to go, the inevitable goal arrived for the home team. 1-1 and now a case of hanging on. Moreso, with Neal Maupay replaced – presumably with Saturday in mind. Yet Yoann Barbet still managed to hit the bar with a quite delicious free kick late on before Jackson would spurn the aforementioned opportunity for Town at the denouement.

With Leeds cruising to a 3-0 win, the Bees ended the night in second place. West Brom humping Bristol City 4-2 to overtake their victims in third. Those ‘comedy’ gifs on Twitter not seeming anywhere near as impressive when you are on the wrong end of hiding.

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Nobody is laughing now. Or then, to be fair.

That could all change again tonight as Middlesbrough have their own chance to play catch up at home to Bolton Wanderers. Yet however that goes, nobody can deny what a quite wonderful start to the campaign this has been. The table doesn’t lie and Brentford are currently storming it.

This time last season we had 4 points after 8 games and were languishing in the bottom three. Now, we’re second with 15 points after the same amount played. That’s more than ten times better… We’ve the division’s leading scorer banging them in for fun and the prospect of a Royal visit on Thursday (more to come on that one).      

Chief Executive Mark Devlin summed it up on Twitter at full time, noting: “Could have been out of sight in the 1st half, but in the end the players  had to dig in for a hard earned point. Might have lost that type of game last season. Onto to Derby for another tough challenge Saturday. Thanks to the 453 travelling Bees for your support.”

That seems to be the theme of the campaign to date, though. A game we would probably have lost last season. Now, hard fought draws are being earned. Bully boy teams (we’re talking about you, Aitor Karanka) have been sent home empty handed with tails between their legs. That it has taken this long to drop our first points in red and white tells its own story – and not just that we should have worn brown/orange last night.

Things are good. The retro shirts have started to turn up in the mail, too. The game of size roulette seeing the ball drop in the right square. Thankfully. I’ll keep this one in the back of the wardrobe for now though. Instead, its more of that magnificent away kit for me. With Bob sure to be unpacking the brown for Saturday’s trip to Derby, I’m absolutely convinced we’ll be recording our first notch in the W column when playing away.

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One for the future – sticking to the brown/orange for now

Nick Bruzon    

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Bees get the point as Changchun Yatai get that Vibe. What next as Sunderland await?

11 Feb

Brentford 1 Preston North End 1. After that mini run of double defeats, here was a chance to get back to winning ways before the double header against two teams up to their hips and necks in the relegation quagmire – Birmingham City and Sunderland. Yet on a day which saw the long anticipated transfer of Lasse Vibe to Chinese Super League side Changchun Yatai for a fee rumoured to be £2m and a much changed Bees team lining up against promotion chasing Preston, in retrospect was it as disappointing as it felt at full time?

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Any votes for ‘China in your hand’ on #BeeTheDJ ? Farewell, Lasse

No. In a word. As a fan, I’m always desperate to win no matter whom we are up against and whichever players are staring. Yet a first XI which, had it been picked during the transfer window would have had supporters screaming ‘conspiracy theory‘, more than held their own and arguably had enough chances and possession to have wrapped this one up. There was no Sergi Canos – suspended. Ryan Woods had to be content with wandering up and down the Braemar Road paddock, chatting to supporters and confirming he should be fit for the Sunderland game. Yoann Barbet was dropped to the bench whilst wunderkind Chris Mepham was awol.

Yet this was still a strong team with Josh McEachran having a very positive start before returning to the frustrating enigma that his performances so often are. When he’s on form he really is a talent and his forward passing is a joy to behold. Equally, there’s more sideways and backwards passing than down the road at Twickenham. Watching the England-Wales rugby after this one, I was half expecting our number 10 to put in an appearance. No irony lost, given one challenge he put in on Callum Robinson. Move along, nothing to see here. It’s a tough call for Dean how he crams that central midfield, who makes way and how he can get the very best from his available resources. Certainly, the arrivals of Lewis Macleod and Alan Judge were very welcome.

It was a game played out in front of a sparse crowd under drizzle soaked skies. It was a game that saw Brentford give away a goal out of nowhere. Tom Barkhuizen putting Preston ahead before Florian Jozefzoon levelled things up just eight minutes later with a goal described by Sky Sports (and you can get edited the highlights here) as a superb strike. I say this given I missed it, in circumstances described in the trade as ‘doing a JJ’. Still, anything for the cause. From then on, it was one-way traffic and I can’t wait to hear how the ever wonderful Mark Burridge described all this when the full fat package is available later *.

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View from the Braemar: Andreas Bjelland v Preston – a Dane in the rain

With Greg Cunningham’s second yellow seeing the visitors reduced to ten men with fifteen minutes remaining, it was backs to the wall stuff. Ollie Watkins blazed just wide whilst Alan Judge came oh so close with a curling free kick in the dying seconds. Emiliano Marcondes added further threat from the bench and it is no surprise Dean came out with post-match comments that included his observation that, “We should have got three points today as our performance was good”.

Second half, it was good. Very. Although, equally, we can count our blessings The Bees didn’t go behind in the opening period. Tommy Spurr adjudged to have been marginally offside as he headed home for 1-0. But no. Instead it was that sweetest of football feelings – opposition cheers being snuffed out by the wave of a linesman’s flag. 0-0 it stayed, until Barkhuizen did the needful.

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It’s an early shower for you, number 3. Cunningham walks.

As for Brentford, up front remains a tough one for Dean. Neal Maupay had one, clear chance when put through one on one with Preston goalkeeper Declan Rudd. The man in black (Rudd, not the ref – if Kitman Bob is reading, what ARE the rules on that?) quick off his line to smoother the striker’s shot from eight yards. Other than that though, there were slim pickings in what you’d deem a typical striker’s chance. One thing’s for sure, with Justin Shaibu on loan and Lasse sold without being replaced, Neal is in for the long haul. That’s no bad thing either. We saw early on in the season what an impact he had off the bench. Here’s hoping that given a prolonged run of starts he’ll push on and find the back of the net on a regular basis.

My other thought is in regards to Dean Smith’s post-match observations. Both in this one and the previous two games. The 3-0 Loss v Derby saw him note that, “We had the better chances… the score-line wasn’t a reflection of what I thought was two-evenly matched teams”.

The game prior, our 1-0 Loss at home to Norwich, saw him opine how: I feel that the better team got beaten” going on to add later that, “I think Norwich will feel fortunate that they have gone away with all three points”.

Yesterday, it was that we should have won. Personally, my take on it is that we could have won. What a difference a letter or two makes. At least Dean recognises the chances we are creating but as has been said a gazillion times on these pages, they count for nothing if you can’t put them away.

As has also been said, who’d be a manager? Very much a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Overall, He and his team are doing just about most things right. Certainly, there are no huge complaints from where I am sitting. Quite the opposite. We’re pushing it against the best in a phenomally tough division and more than holding our own.

Actually, there’s nothing wrong with not winning a game. We all want to. Myself included. I remember league two days. No money etc. etc. etc. I saw a reference on Twitter the other day to the Eddie May/ Micky Adams relegation season. Grim stuff. We’re more spoilt now than we’ve ever been. Moreso with the new stadium plans really gathering pace. But the football fan is never happy. We always want more. We live in hope of what might be. We all have a dream. We always want better.

I understand Dean’s passion and desire but I also know what I see when I’m watching the same game he is. Too much of the ‘we deserved to win/ should have won’ starts to lose impact after a while.

Hey, it’s a small gripe. At least he’s got faith in his team and is constantly reinforcing that positive message. If it’s the worst thing Dean does then we’re in good hands. He has tough decisions ahead, that’s for sure, and I don’t envy him picking the team to start against Sunderland. Likewise, his substitutions, whenever they happen….

But these are nice decisions to have to make. There is competition for the starting berth in just about every position. Yoann Barbet, in particular, must count himself very unlucky to have missed out this time around (albeit I love seeing Josh Clarke out there). No doubt he’ll be amongst those hammering down Dean’s door this week. Metaphorically speaking.

I’ve no clue who Dean will start on Saturday at Sunderland. Could this be Alan Judge’s time? I can’t wait to find out though. Given their own late comeback from 3-0 down to earn a point at Bristol City on Saturday, it’s not going to be as easy as the table suggests. That’s for sure.

There’s nothing more dangerous than a black cat backed into a corner and desperately fighting for survival. Bring it on.

As for Lasse Vibe, there’s not much more that can really be said. We all knew his contract was up. We all know what he has done for us over the last few years. How open and friendly he is. How enthusiastic and dedicated to the cause whilst at Griffin Park. Talking to supporters yesterday and reading through social media, I can’t see anybody wishing him everything but the best.

I can’t think of any other club or any other player where losing your main goal threat has been treated with nothing but universal good vibes. Yet that’s Lasse.

THANK YOU. Here’s to the World Cup..

* until then, here’s the post lunchtime update with the ‘official highlights’. Great job on the comms, too…

 

Nick Bruzon

 

As Bees beat Preston, brilliant Billy cuts to the chase about Birmingham.

29 Oct

Bring on Birmingham City. Brentford keep marching right on! Saturday’s 3-2 defeat of Preston North End saw it 7(seven) games unbeaten in the Championship and 13 points out of the last 21. Our third win over this period saw the Bees move to within six points of the play off zone. Although with the bottom three the same distance behind us, things are still far too tight to be getting too excited. In either direction.

Preston away was always going to be a tough one. With Dean Smith changing his team once more, as he has done every game this season, Romaine Sawyers was dropped to the bench in favour of Kamohelo Mokotjo. But whilst the team was different, the outcome was the same. More goals and more points for Brentford.

As ever, the BBC, Beesotted, ‘official’ etc are your places for the full match report. Or you could catch the highlights on the internet c/o Sky – at least until the league allow the club to do their thing at mid-day. Yet what you get are another goal for Nico Yennaris (that’s four now) and Romaine Sawyers hitting a beauty from the edge of the box to restore our lead in the second half.

The sun is now past the yard arm

There was no irony lost in it being a year to the day since Brentford had beaten QPR at Loftus Road and he’d scored an absolute wonder goal that night. Twelve months later and another netbuster. Whilst it wasn’t quite in the same ball park, it was still a delicious strike. How nice to see Romaine continue to prove all the doubters wrong. He took an inordinate and unfair amount of flak last season. Some fans should now be eating humble pie.

Equally pleasing is being able to see our goals/shots ratio creeping up. A lot had been made in the opening phase of the season about how we’d had the most attempts of any Championship club despite failing to find the back of the net as frequently. 13 goals over the current unbeaten run certainly suggests this stat is changing for the better.

Yet the pick of the goals was, in my opinion, the third. “An absolute peach from a coaching point of view .” Not my words but those of BBC Billy Reeves as he probed head coach Dean Smith after the game. A beautiful exchange of passes at speed between Kamo and Flo Jo saw Preston carved open as easily as a Halloween pumpkin. The move culminated in the Dutch master delivering a ball across the face of the box which Ollie Watkins slid home.

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Ollie, Flo Jo and Lasse celebrate a wonderful winner for the Bees

Three more points and Brentford continuing to impress. The only sour note being the foul on Nico Yennaris that saw the player poleaxed by Jordan Hugill before going off after a lengthy period of treatment. Dean Smith would tell Billy in the aforementioned interview that : “For me its a possible red card because he could easily have got out the way, He’s dipped his shoulder into Nico’s head.”

More importantly, confirming that Nico is ok. Although with a similar injury being suffered by Henrik Dalsgaard recently he also added somewhat tongue-in-cheek that : “I spoke to the players earlier. A few of them have got be able to take one on the chin and not go down.”

Yet it wouldn’t be a Billy Reeves interview without him asking what the fans wanted to hear. There’s no sycophancy when the BBC man has the mic in his hand. And its why we love him so much. Master of the gentle probe, he gets the answers to the questions we all want to know. And there’s only been one subject on everyone’s lips this week. “10 times better” Birmingham City. Not my words but those of Harlee Dean etc etc etc

Billy cut to the chase. As he does. “For the fans, and maybe yourself, Wednesday’s a grudge match, isn’t it?”

Deans’ answer was as expected. “No, It’s just another game” and was meet with an immediate retort. “No, it isn’t”, pushed back Billy . At the same time echoing exactly what every Brentford supporter is thinking at the moment.

The man is a national treasure. A cat playing with a mouse. And whilst Dean’s answer was ever professional, we all know full well what is at stake this Wednesday. Not just three points but consummate bragging rights. The chance to really try and prove something. Not just following that deadline day triple transfer swoop but, probably of greater ire to supporters, Harlee Dean’s nonsensical claim this week about the current Birmingham City squad compared to our own from 2014/15.

DO listen to Billy’s interview. Not just for the probing but for Dean’s responses. Our Head Coach really is in good form at present. Not surprising, given the results. And with games against Birmingham and then Leeds United to come, things could get even more exciting.

But so is Billy. We are undeniably fortunate to have a local journalist who is a true fan. Somebody who asks the same questions that suporters would if we were lucky enough to be in his position. There’s no clickbait grabbing gumph lifted from twitter and padded out into a ‘story’ . Just a steel fist wrapped up in the most delicate of sik gloves, using the microphone like some form of journalistic broadsword to cut straight to the heart of the matter.

Here’s to Wednesday night. Whilst the players will, no doubt, be as level headed as ever, expect our fans to have an extra level of bite to them. And, perhaps, more of Billy’s oh so gentle probing.

It’s going to be fun.

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Billy – the Bard of Brentford did his thing quite superbly. Again

Nick Bruzon

As Blades go top, will Brentford enjoy more success at Preston?

28 Oct

There’s been a lot going on this week and that’s before a ball has even been kicked : all fine at Loftus road whilst Harlee seems to have forgotten his history and manners in Birmingham. But relax. The latest round of Championship action can now take place, having kicked off last night with Sheffield United winning at Leeds to go to the top of the table. It was a largely one way performance and a deserved win for the Blades. Yet whilst we’ll look a bit further at that shortly, our main focus has to be, as ever, on Brentford and our trip to Preston North End.

It would be fair to say that, after a somewhat rocky start Dean Smith’s Bees are beginning to find their feet. The squad has settled down after a frenetic summer of activity which culminated in that last minute triple cash in to Harry Redknapp (a man currently residing in the ‘where are they now?’ files). Yet with the uncertainty done, spleens vented and players returning from injury things are starting to get back to normal.

Brentford are six unbeaten and have even started to have some of that ‘luck’ whose absence had been frustrating our Head Coach. We’ve 10 points out of the last 18 and will be looking to take the current run of form to 7(seven) games when we play Preston on Saturday afternoon.

There’s more good news for Dean Smith. Specifically, no new injuries. Might he be able to name an unchanged starting XI (following last Saturday’s 3-3 with Sunderland) for the first time this season? Or will Sergi Canos be pushed back into the first team after his substitute’s appearance against the Black Cats?

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A sight for sore eyes last weekend

Having played and scored in the B-team’s 3-1 win over Inter Milan during the week (and count the things right in that sentence) might a first team start be a step too far at present? Moreso with games to come against Birmingham City on Wednesday and then Leeds United next Saturday. We’re all desperate to see Sergi back in action but having already been spannered by injury the last time, up at Aston Villa, caution will surely be the order of the day as he rebuild s match fitness.

With Lewis Macleod also getting B-team minutes under his belt after that long, long recuperation there’s more good news on the horizon for Dean. I’d imagine that Preston will be a trip too far for Lewis, at least now, but the midfield options available in a few weeks time could cause some real selection posers.

Still, all that is then. This is now. Let’s focus on the present. With many Brentford fans already licking their lips at the prospect of our midweek trip to Birmingham following Harlee’s comments on Thursday, keeping our focus today will be imperative. Preston are no slouches and know that a win will take them into the play off zone, potentially as high as fourth place following that defeat for Leeds United last night. This, after finishing just below our own top ten Bees in a more than impressive 11th place last season.

Whilst we’ve had plenty of joy against Preston in recent seasons (including that penalty – for Alan Judge, in League One) past performance is not indicative of current form. “It will be a tough ask for us” said Dean in Thursday’s press conference and he’s not wrong. But he has the options at his disposal to answer that ask. As long as he locks it up at the back.

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Happier times at the denouement of out promotion campaign

Yoann Barbet and Chris Mepham can both count themselves very unlucky to have lost out in recent weeks. With three first half goals shipped against Sunderland last Saturday, could this be today’s ‘change’? Or has Dean nailed his selection colours to the mast and this is it? At 3pm, we find out.

We couldn’t end today’s column without a brief nod to the Sheffield United connection . Not so much Jack O’Connell and the magnificent Clayton Donaldson (who I STILL miss) or Keith Stroud (who I don’t) but more their form. Like Brentford three seasons ago, The Blades have come up from League One and taken the division by storm. But whereas we missed our chance to go top in the Boxing Day game with Ipswich Town (move along, nothing to see there) there was no fluffing of the lines for United last night.

Their performance against Leeds was fully deserving of their position and whilst things may have shifted around come 5pm, nobody can deny who is currently top of the table. Yet for me (Clive) the telling stat is in that L column. United have lost four games. Brentford have lost 4 games. The difference being the ability to turn draws into victory. The Blades have proved to have the cutting edge in the box, winning their other 10. If we can get that bit right then who know how high we can go?

The draw at Middlesbrough last time we travelled showed just what this side can do. Here’s to more of that spirit this afternoon. Moreso, given Deepdale has been a relatively happy hunting ground for us in recent seasons whilst, for personal reasons, Preston are always a club I’ve followed with particular interest.

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Keith never did write back. Or did he…?

To date, my first and only foray into the world of professional football club management. It was an application that would eventually prove fruitless. I never heard back with an interview date and can only assume that, in those pre-internet days the follow up letter got lost somewhere in the Royal Mail. Had the postal service done their job properly, who knows how things might have turned out had  a then struggling North End taken that gamble?

Not well, being my guess.

Nick Bruzon

 

Who are kings of the 888Sportderby? An honour for John and a gut busting revelation from the BBC archives.

29 Mar

Finally. We inch that bit closer to the return of Championship football. Brentford host Bristol City on Saturday in a game that most definitely has the whiff of goals about it. (So 0-0, then). Elsewhere our 888sport stablemates Nottingham Forest and Preston North End complete this season’s sequence of #888sportderby games when Mark Warburton’s team visit Deepdale. But who out of the Bees, Forest, North End and Birmingham will be lifting the trophy, should one exist, as ‘home international’ style champions? And (crowbar alert) talking of internationals, there was great news for John Egan last night as he made his debut for the Republic of Ireland. Plus, a disturbing discovery from the BBC historical archives that could blow the lid off everything we know and love about football.

First up, the final #888sportderby of the season. We’ve all seen the hashtags used on Twitter to promote games between the four teams that share a sponsor but who has come out on top when you tally them all together? Well, with just the aforementioned game to come, by my very rough calculations (and if anybody would like to redo the maths then please be my guest), Brentford are now uncatchable.

Doing the double over Nottingham Forest, combined with a win apiece against both Birmingham City (a) and the 5-0 home hammering of Preston sees us on 12 points from 6 games. That’s 4 points clear of North End who can only affect the table tomorrow by administering such a trashing it that it sends Forest below basement team Birmingham by means of goal difference.

Congratulations to Dean Smith on his first piece of silverware, albeit a totally fictional one. And if our club sponsors are reading (they’re not), how about a trophy with our name on it ? Its the least you could do after all those hashtags.

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The ‘as it stands’ 888sportderby table. Hashtag

Next up, the Republic of Ireland. I didn’t see it although, to be fair, I don’t think many people over here did. The game apparently buried on a channel even more obscure than BT Sport. Indeed, I saw one ‘blue ticked’ journalist whose own synopsis of the match was seemingly based on listening in to the local radio station.

So, as ever, there’s no match report on these pages. Instead, simply a huge congratulations to John for being the latest to join the list of Brentford players to have had the honour of representing their country. Whilst the Republic may have gone down (1-0) I have no doubt this will be the first of many for John. Certainly, if his club form is anything to go by.

And finally, the BBC. Regular readers will know of my love for footballing traditions. The orange ball in the snow, goals being celebrated by the roar of the crowd rather than a snatch of ‘Chelsea Dagger’ by The Fratellis or, indeed, ‘goal music of any sort and, of course, the daddy of then all – vidiprinter brackets. The sort that appeared on Grandstand – now the Sky Sports scrolly thing and other such programmes – to show when a team had scored 7(seven) goals.

Likewise, and as we all should know, the correct usage of brackets is with the subsequent text in lower case. 7(seven) rather than 7(Seven) or the somewhat brash preference of Sky, 7(SEVEN). So far, so good. We all know the drill even though, and it is incredible to think, not everybody agrees with the 7(seven) format.

No problem. With little Brentford activity this week, and in need of distraction, I started to sniff around the BBC archives. (Or YouTube). Specifically to lay this one to rest. What I stumbled across has left me reeling.

1984. Grandstand. A triple horror. Sheffield United earned the honour of a score clarification after six goals. Yes, six. Worse, it was in block capitals whilst there are no brackets. No. Brackets. What’s all that about? Score quantification shouldn’t begin at 6, surely? It is one of football’s most fundamental rules.

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All kinds of wrong with 6 SIX

Perhaps this was just a glitch in the matrix. Further digging leads us to a 1987 clip. Again, Grandstand. This time, there appears to be some form of cross-pollination. Nestled in amongst the football action on the vidiprinter were rugby scores (and, to be clear that’s the proper sort – Union). But regardless of the game’s clear superiority over League, even I wouldn’t have expected to see it in a football update. Why not just include the table tennis and horse racing updates (the other two staple events covered by mid-80s Saturday afternoon sport) ?

But if you are going to include rugby (union) at least get it right. NOTTINGHAM 62 PTS NORTHERN 7.

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No better in 1987

7? 7? With Rugby. This is wrong. All wrong. And why PTS for just one of the teams?

At the point, I gave up.A broken man. Instead, let’s just hope that with Brentford on fire, we put 7(seven) past City at the weekend. At least, that way, the BBC have the chance to right a historical wrong.

Nick Bruzon

With a jinx lurking, can Dean make it so when Huddersfield visit?

11 Mar

What an afternoon it promises to be at Griffin Park. Huddersfield Town are the visitors as Brentford look to make it 13 points out of the last 15 and increase upon a goalscoring record that has seen us nab 20 goals in the 8 games since Scott Hogan departed. With the Terriers hitting the back of the net 14 times over the same period, this could be one to keep the scorekeepers busy and little Italian restaurants (by Brentford lock) in the public eye. With Brighton joining Newcastle United at the top of the Championship table following last night’s 3-0 win over Derby, nothing but a win will do for our third placed visitors.

So what can we expect? Short of any midweek injuries after our fine win at Nottingham Forest, surely Dean Smith has no choice but to name the same starting XI. Jota continued to grab the headlines but the incredible run from Sergi Canos to set up the second was my highlight of the highlights whilst Lasse Vibe continues to flourish up top since the departure of Scott and got two more goals.

There will no doubt be expectation on the terraces for Jota to prove a point after missing out on the Championship player of the month to Aiden McGeady of Preston. The Spaniard’s five goals, two assists and bucketloads of exciting play being deemed secondary to three goals, four assists and keeping North End within optimistic distance of the play-off pack.

Personally, I can only imagine Jota’s motivation being enjoyment rather than revenge or point proving. Since his return from that loan period with Eibar, he more than lived up to his word in that emotional farewell letter. Not only has he returned but he has come back bigger and better than ever. He gives the impression of a man who plays for the sheer fun of it and boy do the fans lap up his enthusiasm.

With Sergi Canos doing the same on the other flank (thanks to Alex Neil for sanctioning that sale and just not playing Sergi before his own departure form Norwich yesterday) these remain exciting times at Brentford. “I think it is a fun team to watch” he said yesterday. Spot on, Sergi. Here’s to more of the same today.

As for Huddersfield Town, what can we expect? Well, if the Bees were disappointed about our lack of award for Jota, we’ve been handed a massive boost by Terriers’ boss David Wagner being named manager of the month for February.

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David Wagner is the latest to face the ‘Manager of the month’ jinx

There can’t be a football fan the land over who isn’t aware of the supposed jinx/curse (call it what you will) that accompanies this award. Pick up the honour, lose your next game.

With Brighton adding to the pressure last night by moving 9 points clear of third placed Huddersfield, could the weight of this trophy further crank up the tension for the Terriers? Forget David. Once that award is presented Wagner of X-factor fame would have more chance of coaching a winning team than the recipient of the trophy.

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Wagner – remember him?

And what of the other big name for Town? Well, if it was a case of Brentford saying #WelcomeGraham last week (Gooch, that is, in the Bees player commentary box), could there be more star names making the trek to Mark Burridge’s lofty perch today?

Sir Patrick Stewart is, of course, an avid fan of Huddersfield Town and not averse to visiting Griffin Park. Yet with promotional duties for the new Wolverine film, Logan, currently occupying his time in the States, it seems he’ll be missing this one out (unless, of course, he’s hot footing it across to Heathrow on the overnight red eye).

Instead, we’ll have to be content with shared tweet of the week (at least, it was until that BBC news video went viral) for those wanting a glimpse of the man best known as Captain Picard or Professor X.

As for the Bees, can we make it 4 wins out of 5? Here’s hoping Dean Smith can make it so.(I’ll get my coat)

At 3pm, we find out. See you at Griffin Park.

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Sir Patrick Stewart – somewhat harsh from Shaz

Nick Bruzon 

What happens in Preston, stays in Preston as Harlee makes a frank admission.

12 Feb

F*ck off Brentford” said one supporter on Twitter after this one. Others were calling for Dean Smith’s head. I’ve even seen comments reminding us that Mark Warburton is available after his resignation/non resignation from Rangers. Seriously? Seriously?? Sure, The Bees had been beaten 4-2 by Preston North End but let’s leave that nonsense and put this one down to the proverbial bad day at the office.

After those two tonkings administered to Aston Villa and Brighton, had Dean Smith gone into this one with anything but the same approach then, perhaps, there could have been casue for frustration. But no, he stuck to his guns and rightly so.

This team and formation were the exact same decisions I would have taken and, whilst just the numpty on the terrace rather than any form of Championship Manager, it was great to see Dean continue with this attacking intent. Indeed, despite the availability of John Egan, amongst others, the only change was one of personnel as fit again Maxine Colin replaced Josh Clarke in the right back position.

The anti-performance at Chelsea had been followed by a new look team and a new set up. Despite the absence of Scott Hogan, six goals had followed from five different players.

Now make that 8 goals from 7(seven) players in three games as Lasse, Nico, Harlee, KK and Jota were joined by Maxime Colin and Tom Field on the list of recent scorers. For Tom in particular, his first league goal for Brentford – and one which gave us an early lead –  was the perfect riposte to his critic after last Sunday’s post match nonsense.

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Post goal celebrations for Tom Field, c/o the Sky Sports highlight reel

After that, though, the wheels fell off. Aiden McGeady waltzed through the Brentford midfield and defence to equalise from distance for the hosts. Preston then took the lead early into the second half as Callum Robinson stole in totally unmarked between Harlee and Andreas to beat the offside trap and tap home.

And with the Bees pushing to get back into it, Mcgeady (again)  and Daryl Horgan put the game beyond doubt as it became a case of “After you, Claude” from Brentford. Maxime Colin pulled one back late on via a generous deflection but that was how it ended.

As ever, proper match reports are available on the BBC, Besotted or ‘official’. Likewise, you’ve got free video highlights on Sky – at least, until we get the full fat Burridge infused version on Beesplayer lunchtime.

It was interesting to read the post match comments of both Dean Smith and Harlee Dean after this one. Talking to ‘official’, Dean admitted that “We lost our organisation and our discipline, we opened up too easily and they could have scored more. We need to be disciplined and have emotional control. Football is about scoring goals and you can’t get too emotionally involved when the opposition score one”.

As for Harlee, his observations were on a similar line. Along with a captain’s standard post defeat apology to those who travelled, there was an admission of tactical naivety from the players combined with their poor decisions and poor performances. Coming from the man in the midst of the action, these are probably more telling and comments I take heart from.

It is hard to remember that Harlee is only 25. One forgets just how young he was when he first turned out for Andy Scott’s Bees way back in November 2011. Yet here is a man who has fought his way up from non league and loanee to now being club captain and one of the first names on the team sheet.

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Harlee Dean – also appearing on Twitter at FT

Don’t get me wrong, nobody wants to make that long journey home (longer for those who travelled on Virgin Rail if head of media relation’s Chris Wickham’s twitter account was anything to go by) on the back of a 4-2 scoreline. Yet if the players themselves are aware of where they went wrong and where they showed inconsistency (another phrase used by Harlee in that post match article and which has been visible to all but the most blinkered of supporters this season) then there is hope that this newly reinvigorated team can continue to do what they’ve been doing.

We’ve two very tricky fixtures coming up. Midweek trips to teams currently looking for play off points. Reading this Tuesday and then Sheffield Wednesday a week later.

Here’s hoping Dean can hold his nerve in regards to team selection again.

Here’s hoping the team can learn from those mistakes on Saturday.

Here’s hoping that what happened in Preston, stays in Preston.

Nick Bruzon

 

How can the same stuff happen to the same guy twice as Rangers meltdown? Can the same scoreline happen again as Bees travel North?

11 Feb

Well that’s been a busy few days off. Most of us have woken to news that Mark Warburton, David Weir and Frank McParland have, apparently, all ‘resigned’ at Rangers – something our former manager claims to know nothing about. With the Scottish club announcing that Graeme Murty is in charge, things could get interesting in the dugout at 3pm. Back in Brentford,  Josh Clarke and Dean Smith (nothing more than coincidental timing, I am sure) have both signed contract extensions whilst on pitch, not that one exists as yet, Hounslow council have given rugby club London Irish permission to ground share at Lionel Road. Yet all these are mere appetisers ahead of the main course – our trip to Preston North End.

Of course, we can only start at Deepdale. Brentford annihilated Preston 5-0 at Griffin Park earlier in the season and, based on current form, the casual observer would only expect more of the same. We’ve scored six goals  in our last two games – the first of the Hogan free era.

Aston Villa were despatched as simply as a half time balti pie offered to a hungry supporter. There was literally no resistance from the former Premier League team who were left looking somewhat like a pub side. The only disappointment being that 3-0 was scant reflection of a game where there was only one team in it.

As for Brighton on Sunday. 2-0 up and with a penalty opportunity to make it three, that one looked very much like another win fro the Bees. That it ended 3-3 was as much testament to the quality of our opponents (still very much promotion favourites and title contenders) combined with, perhaps, a touch of naivety from Brentford as the lead was retaken with 95 minutes on the clock. No criticism though. It was an honour to be part of the crowd for that one.

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KK is in there, somewhere, celebrating a late, late ‘winner ‘ against Brighton

Yet, as we’ve mentioned before, part of this resurgence is as much down to Dean Smith’s new formation. Lasse Vibe just one of five players to get on the scoresheet in front of two wide men and two centre backs in Harlee Dean and Andreas Bjelland. More room in the middle. Jota destroying all comers and looking a class above anybody trying to stop him. With a bench that includes Josh Clarke and Sergi Canos aswell as the finally back in favour Konstantin Kerschbaumer and Alan McCormack, Dean seems to have got the balance just right. Can he do it again for a third successive game ?

Surely he’ll go for more of the same today? Although Preston are five points above the Bees, they haven’t won in four games. We know we have the beating of them and that was in a team without Jota. Yet the BBC report that with John Egan fit again, he could return to the starting line up.

All being well, this is nothing more than opportunistic journalism. And this is meant as no disrespect whatsoever to a player who has more than justified his own contract extension. Yet playing with a traditional back four, albeit one where the defence still push up, has been nothing short of revalationary. A breath of fresh air after what could, politely, be described as some turgid, sluggish and inconsistent performances.

Come on Dean, here’s hoping you have the same courage of your convictions away from home as at Griffin Park. The bookies still have Preston as favourites  – only 2 defeats in the last 12 at home likely helping their position – but the new look Bees are a force to be reckoned with. I can’t wait to see how we fare on the road.

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Jota helped destroy Brighton. And Aston Villa

Rugby is the other news to make us sit up and take notice – Mark Warburton at Rangers aside, where one can only wonder what on earth is going on. In a communications debacle to make our own media team seem like Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, the Glasgow club have released a statement to say he has quit whilst Warbs seems unaware that he has, supposedly, penned his resignation letter.

This is a situation where nobody comes out the winner. Aside from, perhaps, Celtic whose 27 point lead over closest challengers Rangers and Aberdeen seems even safer than ever. With alleged new destination Nottingham Forest already having named their interim management team, could Mark Warburton find himself temporarily out in the cold again?

It was 10 February 2015 when the story about his ‘replacement’ at the end of Brentford’s Championship season was leaked by The Times. The club handled news about that one terribly – the only way worse could have been had we included a hashtag – as Warbs , in public at least, carried himself with dignity whilst retaining the love of players and supporters alike.

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Warbs , Jota and the team on the day of village-gate 2015

Two years to the very day, it has happened again. Another announcement about his position, this time at Rangers, clouded in confusion and controversy. Who’d be a manger. Or  in a comms role…

As for the rugby, well it seems that London Irish will be the new tenants at Lionel Road, once the stadium is built. Hounslow Council have granted permission for a ground share at the new stadium. Official tell us us that “Progress on the implementation of the Brentford Community Stadium project is continuing apace, ahead of a moving in date of the season 2019/20. The full story is on the club website.

And finally, if you can get through all the adverts , pop ups and surveys on their site, (Get) West London’s Premier Journalist Tom Moore has another video. Do check it out, it’s well worth a look.

Until then, here’s to Preston.

Nick Bruzon

Will Grigg’s Offside. Alleged inferno fails to fire as Bees held.

2 Oct

With various headlines highlighting Gary Caldwell’s proclamation that “We deserved our point” and “we deserved our clean sheet” there’s the game in a nutshell. Brentford stretched their unbeaten home run to ten games following a 0-0 draw with a Wigan Athletic side for whom Blakey would have given 10/10 for their bus parking skills.

But as we’ve said many times, chances and possession count for nothing if you can’t find the back of the net. And on this occasion, despite 9 in our previous two games at Griffin Park, it was the Bees who couldn’t convert.

Dean Smith nailed it in his post match interview where he explained the reaction is one of disappointment really. This, despite the Bees being excellent in the first half. “The reaction is one of disappointment really,” said Dean. “We were excellent in the first half hour and should have punished them. We didn’t take our chances and they defended manfully.”

Whilst Wigan boss Gary Caldwell may not be Jose Mourinho – a fact that both are probably thankful for – teams will set up to do a job on us. Griffin Park is fast becoming a metaphorical fortress and so often the first tactic will be to shut out a team with a free scoring reputation .

As for he who must not be sung about, a Voldemort of footballers (dads, ask your kids. It’s. A. Children’s. Book), the former Bee and Northern Ireland International failed to find the back of the Griffin Park net. Plus ca change. Despite an early chorus for ‘that song’ (yawn, yawn, yawwwn), it was the home fans with their own “Will Grigg’s offside” who summed things up.

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Forget Grigg. We have our own goal machine. For once, silenced

This is no match report. It never is. I’d direct you to reputable sites such as the BBC, Beesotted or ‘official’ if you want a blow by blow account of match detail. That said, I have to say well done to Dean Smith for sticking with the same team who thumped Reading on Tuesday night.

That, a line up which had seen both tactical and enforced changes for Brentford – Ryan Woods missing that one through his accrual of fifth yellow card at Wolves. Yet it was also a line up that performed wonderfully and despite our Ginger Pirlo being available once more, Dean kept one of the early contenders for ‘player of the year’ on the bench.

It was a brave decision but the absolute correct one. Tuesday night was wonderful and to reward that with anything but a chance to, erm, ‘go again’ would have been a dreadful message to send out to those players who had taken their own chance when it had been offered.

The flip side of the decision making process is around substitutes. In the past few seasons the players to make way and the timing (the 60-70 minute ‘zone’) had become choices so prescribed that they could have been written on the back of an envelope long before kick off.

This time around, it’s almost as though things have gone the other way. I’ve nothing against this – quite the opposite. Let’s react to the way the game is unfolding. That said, is there a case that he is holding on too long now? That tactics – or players who seem to be struggling with fitness – could be reacted to quicker?

Who’d be a manager? Get it right and you are a genius. Miscalculate and everybody thinks they know better.

Look. Another game unbeaten at home and another point aren’t anything to be sniffed at. Quite the opposite. We’re in 7(seventh) place in the Championship table after a quarter of the season with another clean sheet in the bag. It is arguably the best start we’ve had at this point in the three campaigns since leaving League One.

Next up is International break (well timed for Lasse Vibe, who left Griffin Park on crutches) followed by trips to Newcastle United and Derby County. Nobody said this year’s Championship would be any easier but it’s certainly proving to be fun.

See you at St.James’ Park in two weeks….

Better than Chesney? Has Arsenal wunderkind finally been surpassed?

20 Sep

Brentford 5. Newcastle United, Birmingham, Huddersfield 6. QPR 14. Rotherham 20. Not the odds on winning September’s manager of the month award but, infact, the total goals conceded by the respective teams after 8 Championship games. And in the case of the Bees, one man has a huge part to play in that stat – goalkeeper Daniel Bentley.

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 2016 to May 2017 along with a smattering of new material, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Bentley – a model professional

 

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Bill makes an early call. And he’s not alone

 

Milton Keynes Dons v Brentford

Chesney – the legend

e?

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Nick Bruzon