Tag Archives: Preston

No jacket required. Although three points would have been nice.

1 Mar

Another point on the board. A 2-2 draw for Brentford at Cardiff City in a game we may well have won after racing into an early lead courtesy of Luka Racic and Bryan Mbeumo. Instead, things ended level on a day that saw both Leeds United and Fulham recording victories which, realistically, mean hopes of automatic are diminishing quicker than the laughter at a studio recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. No matter, with only ten games to go we remain fifth. The Bees firmly in play-off contention and perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. There is no additional expectation now as top six remains the target. Anything else is a bonus outside of our control.

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Benrahma takes the game to Cardiff

What can you say? Positives included the return of Christian Norgaard after going off at Luton. A confident performance from Luka Racic at centre back which included a goal after just five minutes. A corner broke and he fired it straight back past Cardiff ‘keeper Alex Smithies. Said Benrhama was passing through the eye of a needle whilst Brentford kept going for the win all game long. Bryan Mbeumo scored an exquisite free kick to double the lead as he fired one over the wall and in with little more than twenty minutes on the clock.

With the fire drill sounding, this one was done and dusted. Wasn’t it? Alas not. Junior Hoilett grabbing the first with his head, following a long throw, where he looked suspiciously offside. At least to those of us behind the goal. Then bang on half time it was the turn of Joe Ralls with an almost carbon copy finish. Urghhh. Frustration rather than anger was the order of the day. The Bees had been playing well with Said Benrahma forcing a fine save from Smithies in between. 

Meanwhile, Will Vaulks had drawn the wrath of the normally mild-mannered Thomas Frank following one obscene challenge on Norgaard. Referee Simon Hooper and his assistants failing to produce the red card required in such a situation. But this summed up Hooper – for both sides. He had an absolute stinker from start to finish. That’s not meant as bitterness – he was as poor towards the home side as he was the visitors. Both sets of supporters ending the day feeling hard done by and, being honest, Cardiff City probably more as they cranked up the pressure in the second period.

Yet we had our own moments too and certainly Brentford never gave up. Josh Dasilva coming closest as he fired one wide with his right foot when space had opened up. Either side could have taken it. Brentford probably should after that early brace. But football is a 90 minute game as we know and so we have to be content with a point. We have to be content with remaining firmly in play-off contention and passing a back-handed compliment to Fulham, whose own victory over Preston meant we weren’t overtaken. Bristol City sit three points off us in seventh although superior goal difference means that is effectively four. 

All being well the enigma that is the Pontus Jansson injury will be resolved by the time Sheffield Wednesday visit Griffin Park on Saturday. Bright this Racic and Jeanvier have been, it is no coincidence that our recent run has coincided with his absence . The calming influence, experience and confidence of our inspirational captain something that would seem to be missing at present. This is the moment our young, young team would really benefit from the presence of this (relatively) elder statesman. Here’s hoping his return is imminent.

The other big question of the day came buried away in the Cardiff match day programme. Specifically the ‘Famous Fans’ segment. Natalie Sawyer is a given as is Richard Archer from Hard-Fi / newly formed pop combo ‘Offworld’ (do check them on Spotify et al). Yet there was no Rhino from the Quo. The Bluetones’ Adam Devlin was conspicuous by his absence. Likewise comedian Nathan Caton, Cameron Diaz, Rick Wakeman or Dean Gaffney (Wellard from Eastenders). I’d even have accepted Bradley Walsh. But no. Instead we got Phil Collins. Phil. Collins.

How? Why? I know he grew up locally but seriously, has anyone ever seen hm at Griffin Park? Go figure.

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Never seen him at Griffin Park

There’s not much else to say at the moment. Anticipated travel chaos failed to materialise on the way up. The return journey one hit by train delays but even that allowed the bonus of an extended post match discussion in the pub prior to departure.  Such are the things that make up an away day. You never know what will happen on or off the pitch. The random nature of such trips one where the 90 minutes in the middle are so often the thing that gets in the way. The eye of the storm in a chance to catch up with different friends in a different city. The journey up one full of anticipation and expectation. The potential to eat and drink somewhere different always welcome. The one day in the week when health related good intentions can quite legitimately be thrown out of the window and the already meagre cash reserves are drained with abandon. The notes in the wallet taking on the nature of Monopoly money. 

And now it’s heads down for a week. The bank card buried deep in the back of the sock draw in a half-arsed attempt to avoid temptation. A week in the office (urghh) the only thing standing in the way of Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday when it all starts again. All being well, Thomas may tell us more about the injury situation during the week. Some positive news on that front will be very well received.

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Emiliano and Said were unable to fashion a winning goal

Nick Bruzon

After failing to obey the rules of Luton can we return to being Alpha predators?

29 Feb

Cardiff City, here we come. Brentford head into Wales today, looking to get back on the horse after that thing that happened midweek at Luton. Move along, nothing to see here. Instead, it’s a massive chance to test our bouncebackability and what a moment to do so. With Leeds United and Fulham both picking up the points on Wednesday the timing to test ourselves post defeat couldn’t have been more telling. Moreso as given Preston, who st right behind us, travel to the Cottage. The favour we look so eagerly towards could well blow up in our face should The Bees fail to sting the Bluebirds. As for Leeds United, they have huge self-inflicted problems of their own after goalkeeper Kiko Casilla starts an eight game ban for racism.

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Brentford were unable to find a way through the Luton defence on Tuesday

So, Brentford. Which team will we get? Thomas Frank was conspicuously absent by the lack of traditional Thursday press conference this week. We’ve no idea if Christian Norgaard will join Mathias Jensen on the injury list after limping off at Luton. Is Pontus any closer to a return? What about Julian Jeanvier? Will we have any form of traditional defence? How do we put right what went wrong at Luton?

Well, I have to look to the positive. That game at Kenilworth Road was, surely, an aberration. If we’d followed the rules of Luton then by all rights it should have been an away banker. The basement club there to be obliterated. Instead, they fought like a team possessed and were fully deserving of the win. Brentford’s hopes of success blasted out of orbit. An Alpha predator caught by startled prey. 

Instead of our normal ferocity and tearing victims apart, we looked off the pace and makeshift. Passes failing to connect. Corners landing with all the finesse of Mrs. Brown telling a ‘joke’. An opposition goalkeeper who kept his team alive on those rare moments a shot was unleashed.

We could go on but it won’t change anything. There’s no way that level will be reached again. It can’t. It won’t. We just have to put it down to a bad day at the office and move on. Whatever Thomas has had to say behind closed doors has surely been voiced. Although I get the impression he’s less a shouter and more one to place an arm around the shoulder. To guide his young charges on where they might have done things differently.   

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Thomas is great at sharing wise words

Every team loses games. The true test is how you react to that and I can’t wait to see how that plays out this afternoon. Assuming, of course, we can even reach Wales. GWR are reporting flooded lines towards Swansea so all trains from London start and stop at Cardiff. How this knocks on to our already delayed services ( a three hour trip)  remains to be seen. Further rain is forecast whilst it’s grim in West London this morning so one can only expect congestion on the roads, too. Yet still we head up there in our droves. Still we follow this team. It’s Saturday and it’s football. It’s a chance to see if the improbable dream could actually come true. 

The green card has been offered once more and gratefully accepted. No matter the travel related hardship that may come with it. Instead, it’s a case of gritting teeth and enjoying the game. Hopefully. Why stay warm in London when you can go to the most famous beach in the UK?

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Cardiff Beach

Elsewhere, Preston travel to Fulham in a game that puts further incentive on Brentford to make sure we do our thing. Whilst we have, understandably, been talking about the possibility of making the ‘automatic’ places in recent weeks complacency could be the mother of all f*ck ups. The play-off zone remains so congested that wins are required just to stay in contention for those. We’re only ahead of The Deepdale outfit on goal difference so let’s not lose focus on those around us as we chase that clutch of teams at the summit. I suppose a draw would be the best result in that one, with both teams still to face The Bees.

As for Leeds United, we’re waking up to the news that they are now missing butter fingered goalkeeper Kiko Casilla. The player begins an eight match ban after being found guilty of racially abusing Charlton Athletic forward Jonathan Leko back in September. In addition, he has been given a £60,000 fine and asked to attend a face-to-face education session. Whilst the player doesn’t believe the verdict is a clear reflection of the incident, the FA clearly think otherwise about an aggravated charge – one classified as  making reference to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin.

This isn’t a situation that I can take any pleasure from. With horrific stories of racism still a regular feature in the game from alleged ‘supporters’, to hear about this happening on pitch is probably even more disturbing. From one professional to another. Yet at the same time, the severity of the sentence is one which the authorities (and I mean as much on a global scale)  fail to match when that abuse comes from the stands. A hard line approach is great, and correct, but it needs to be across the board. It needs to be enforced. Let’s see what happens. I’ll wait.

On pitch, 19 year old Illan Meslier is Casilla’s understudy. He has made one appearance so far this season (in the league cup – the 1-0 defeat at Arsenal). What a time to get your chance in the first team. What an awful way to be handed your chance. Will the pressure and frustration sure to be felt by this situation be the catalyst for metaphorical death or glory? Just as Leeds had managed to stop falling apart, now another thing threatens to derail them. How they react from a footballing perspective remains to be seen. But that challenge begins this lunchtime at Hull City (L).

Until then, safe travels. Good luck. See you in Wales. Hopefully……       

Nick Bruzon

With the terrace talk about Terrace Talk, it’s another point in awful conditions.

23 Feb

Another game unbeaten. Another game that Brentford fans may feel we should have won but, in the end, will be happy to have taken a point against a Blackburn Rovers team with their own promotion aspirations. A 2-2 draw played out in gale force conditions, alongside Fulham’s Friday night draw and a 0-0 for Nottingham Forest means we stay fourth. Leeds United won – fair play to them – as that once colossal gap to second place is still a very catchable six points. With the Bees next up before the teams directly above us play again (we’ve a visit to Luton Town on Tuesday before Fulham host Swansea and Leeds travel to Middlesbrough on Wednesday), the chance to apply further immediate pressure lies very much in our own hands.

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It’s up there, somewhere. Conditions were tough at gusty Griffin Park.

It was an absolute corker of a Griffin Park. Despite Blackburn playing with that howling wind at their backs in the first half, Brentford were the ones applying the early pressure. Right up until the exact moment that Rovers’ goalkeeper Christian Walton played a long, long ball up pitch and as it caught the breeze, Ethan Pinnock lost it in the air. There was Adam Armstrong to drift it over David Raya with a perfectly placed lob. The ball seemed to float over him in almost slow-motion with nothing the Spaniard, or anybody watching, could do to stop it hitting the back of the net.

Noooooooooooooooooo. 0-1 and Blackburn most definitely not reading the script. With the wind now behind the visitors and very much taken out of our sails, the rest of the first-half meandered way into nothingness. I’m struggling to recall much more in terms of incident. Still, there was always the second period to come…..

Urghh. 0-2 Rovers. With less than an hour gone, referee Tim Robinson pointed to the spot after Raya won the ball but continued his movement into somebody. Gut feeling at the time was that it was soft but legitimate. We’ve all seen them given etc. That man Armstrong made no mistake and Blackburn were home. The play-offs beckoning.

Except, they weren’t. Just minutes later Ollie Watkins had halved the deficit with an absolute howitzer of a shot. This time it was Dalsgaard who used the conditions to our advantage as his own pass through the eye of the storm was perfectly judged by the free scoring front man. Playing the offside trap to perfection, he brought it down and then leathered one from distance that swerved into the top corner and sent the home fans wild. My word, what a strike. It was as much about the timing, control and preparation as it was the finish. Hats off, Ollie. 

The crowd buoyant and Brentford inspired, we kicked on. Shandon Baptise and Mads Roerslev having come on from the bench both impressed. Should Mathias Jensen still be missing for the Luton game, I can only imagine it will be the new signing from Oxford who starts that one rather than Emiliano Marcondes. Yet it was Roerslev who was the real revelation down the right, as the Brentford player machine looks like it has spat out another winner from the B-team.

Boom. Felled in the box (apparently – move along, nothing to see here) it presented the opportunity for Benrahma to level things. There was no mistake from the spot and with 20 minutes left, there was only one team in it. 

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Saaaiiiiiiddddd!! 2-2 from the spot

Brentford pushed, poked, and tried. Benrahma’s legs a blur and Mbeumo coming close to making it another afternoon of the BMW doing their thing. At the other end David Raya keeping Arsmtrong at bay with a quite wonderful save after Dalsgaard’s back pass had dropped woefully short. It was the only realistic chance that Blackburn had between the equaliser and full time. How crucial could it prove? 

Alas, it wasn’t to be for either team. Promotion hopes hit with the lightest of pauses rather than being derailed or ground made. For either team. With West Bromwich Albion also winning, and so themselves now four points clear of Leeds United, anybody hoping for ‘automatic’ is fighting out for one place. I can’t see the Baggies surrendering another double point lead having once more found their form. Albeit their visit to Griffin Park next month could be interesting…..  

Instead, it looks like a straight shoot out between Brentford, Fulham, Leeds United, Preston and Nottingham Forest for second place. Statistically, Leeds have to be favourites. They’re the ones currently occupying that slot and with the lead over third place. Yet pressure does strong things and one thing’s for sure, nobody is going to give up on the chase. With Brentford missing Mathias Jensen, Pontus Jansson and Sergi Canos we’ve still got strength in depth to return. 

So, it wasn’t to be this time. The race for the Premier League is still alive and kicking. The players doing their thing, even at full time, where they and Thomas once more put the family feel into our wonderful club.

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Advice being given at full time….

We’ve a trip to Luton Town up next and then it’s off to Cardiff City on Saturday. The games are coming thick and fast as the excitement shows no sign of abating.

And finally, the (possible) return of the ever popular Terrace Talk video feature. Could it happen? It was a subject that was touched upon in yesterday’s programme feature and has already been picked up on by former host Sean Ridley.

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As seen in the programme….

Going by yesterday’s Twitter talk, Sean’s willing to give it a go for one last hurrah – assuming, of course, that ‘official’ are.

Just tweet @BrentfordFC and use the hashtag #TerraceTalk if you’d like to see it back just once more. Hey, the club may even agree.  And if you need a reminder of the feature’s brilliance, then here you go (from the 2016/17 visit of Nottingham Forest)…..

 

Nick Bruzon

One day to go. What have we missed? Your vote needed.

31 Dec

2019 is drawing to a close. Brentford end the decade sitting fourth in the Championship table following what have been the most consistently exciting ten years in our history. The current edition of FourFourTwo magazine has us ranked first out of the twenty-five greatest EFL clubs from 2010-2019. It would be fair to say that things are going very, very well – a most un-Brentford like scenario.  It was a subject we looked at in the article submitted for the Swansea City programme on Boxing Day. From Fulham to Preston ; Leeds to Birmingham City. What are the top ten highlights of the decade we are about say goodbye to? 

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Not my words – well, the content was but FFT did the maths first

The programme piece is reproduced, and enlarged upon, below. However, the real reason for running this is as much to see what was missed out. What was your moment of the decade that should have been included? Whether awesome or awful – we celebrated both.  Personally, and even though a sneaky 11 was included, the absence of last season’s Neal Maupay goal celebration at Leeds United (and at home to Leeds United)  has had me kicking myself all the way to the printers. How did it miss out?

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Come on Leeds. It WAS a penalty

 So without further ado, and to whet your appetite, these were mine. But are they right?

10 Josh McEachran’s photoshoot. A bizarre series of pictures that appeared in, at least, The Telegraph and The Mail. If the pictures were odd, and they were, it is something best remembered for the description on Twitter of his looking “Like the chief whistleblower in an expose on bullying in the world of junior golf”.

9 Marcelo Trotta takes a penalty. Not ‘that’ one. Come on, we’re better than going there. I’m sure somebody has already done that anyway. Instead, the game with Gillingham in January 2014. The one he scored having made a shock/ballsy return to the club after something happened late on in a game v Doncaster the previous season. I forget exactly what.

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Get in!!! What Doncaster thing?

8 Chesney. It’s hard to imagine the conversation that lead to us starting the decade with none other than Wojciech Szczęsny between the sticks. Yet that’s what happened when the Polish international and Arsenal’s number 53 cut his league teeth at Griffin Park. He was immense. It was bonkers yet, if anything, it was a sign of things to come.

7 Jota. Proof that despite the sneers from outside TW8, Matthew Benham’s computer model works. And how. A luxuriantly coiffered hero, his picture still adorns the gates to Griffin Park. The last minute goals. The skill. The heartbreaking love letter to the fans when he returned to Spain (we’ll forget the second one when he left for Birmingham). The emotional second coming which saw him possibly better than ever before. My favourite player of the decade. 

6 The Marinus experiment. Proof that even Matthew’s computer gets it wrong sometimes. Have you turned him on and off again? Have you tried banging it? Ok, then the model must be broken. He lasted 9 league games, got humped by Oxford in the league cup and ditched Jonathan Douglas. Hardly the way to endear yourself to the fans, for whom Dougie was a hero to many. Yet in his short time at Griffin Park he did inspire the unicorn that launched a thousand photoshops.

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Any excuse to crowbar this one in.

5 Stuart Dallas . Specifically, scoring THAT goal at Fulham in the 4-1 win back in April 2015. The lay off from Andre Gray was beautiful but then Stuart ran on to the ball and did his thing. Oh. My. Word. One touch followed by an absolute thunder bolt of a shot from thirty yards out on the diagonal. The ball accelerating all the way into the top corner in front of the Bees’ fans. The single best hit Brentford goal of the decade, if not ever.

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THE moment

4 Snowball-gate. January 2013 and a League one match between Brentford and Tranmere. The fans had earlier helped clear the pitch to ensure the game could go ahead but what to then do at half-time with all the snow that had been accumulated at the back of the Ealing Road stand?  Snowballs. Lots of snowballs. When goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams emerged for the second period he was greeted with such a barrage that the referee was forced to delay the game.

3 Ten Times Better. October 2017 and Harlee Dean panicked in front of a tv camera, telling us about his new Birmingham City team that “We’ve got quality in that squad. I’ve been in teams where we’ve finished fifth in this league and missed out on promotion by play offs. and this squad is ten times better than that.”

The response? Our 2-0 win at St. Andrews a month later was followed by the incredible 5-0 hammering in the return fixture. “Cheer up Harlee Dean” sang the supporters. In the ultimate trolling, even the club joined in and upgraded our usual ‘win music’ from Kool And The Gang to The Monkees.

He started it

2 Victory at Leyton Orient in March 2014. The most stressful, incredible, backs to the wall performance as the 10 man Bees hung on for a 1-0 win against the combined forces of Russell Slade’s Os and referee Robert Madley. It was a MASSIVE win in a promotion 6-pointer that saw the bitter boss complaining that we’d celebrated like we’d won the FA Cup at full time. He’s right. We did. And then some.  

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Who did what like we’d won what now?

1 Alan Judge’s penalty v Preston in April 2014. Brentford securing promotion with a penalty? Who’d have thought it but the combination of his goal, and other results, helped the Bees to a 1-0 win and reaching the Championship. This, despite a lot of 11th hour squeaky bum time at Wolves when Rotherham started scoring. The pitch invasion and post match street party that followed were the stuff of legend with promotion to the Championship confirmed. Kevin O’Connor was at the bar in The Griffin. The players in the street, celebrating with the fans. Cliff Crown was waving Russell Slade FA Cups around. Only at Griffin Park could this happen. Thank you. Everyone.

 

Some people are on the pitch - Juge's penalty v Preston saw a wonderful denouement

Some people are on the pitch.. etc etc

And given a football team has 11 players, why not add one more for luck. The hour that is Brentford ‘Official’ trying to get down wiv da kidz on social media: #trophyfriends #bignewambitions #novemberkings . Please, let’s never talk of this again.

Instead its over to you. if you can’t be bothered, have a Happy New Year and here’s to Bristol City on ,erm, Thursday?  

Nick Bruzon

Frank is sense. Christmas gifts see Bees go third.

27 Dec

What an afternoon. Brentford ended the day sitting third in the Championship after Swansea City were the latest to be on the receiving end of a Griffin Park trouncing. A brace from Ollie Watkins and another goal for Bryan Mbeumo putting this one out of sight, despite a tired second half flurry from the visitors. With Leeds United falling apart (again), the gap to ‘automatic’ is now down to single figures – 8 points being the difference. Even then, they needed an 89th minute equaliser from Stuart Dallas to rescue a point at home to Preston. With West Bromwich Albion (Barnsley) and Fulham (Luton) both drawing against the divisional whipping boys and Sheffield Wednesday going down to Stoke City, our rivals for the top spots formed an orderly queue to take their turn of delivering The Bees a Christmas gift. Specifically that of doing us a favour. The thought of our trip to Millwall on Sunday has suddenly become very appealing (not a typo).

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Thomas enjoys the moment at Full Time

You’ve all seen the action, presumably. Either as part of a packed Griffin Park or c/o the Sky coverage that meant our game went out live to the nation yesterday. At least, the part that doesn’t want their live action left in a recycling box or sitting on the doorstep. Otherwise, the official highlights are further below. Mbeumo opened proceedings early on. Guiding home a corner that had been headed back across the face of goal by an unmarked Ethan Pinnock. The big man, who had retained his place alongside the returning Pontus Jansson, doing magnificently to make the room and plop it straight on to Bryan’s head.

Twenty minutes gone and 1-0 up. There was barely time for anybody taking a toilet break to get back to their seats before the lead was double. None other than Ollie Watkins. The striker, and that’s what he is, grabbing a true poacher’s goal as he stuck out a leg to steer a Rico Henry cross past the despairing Freddy Woodman in the away goal. 2-0 and, surely, that was it?

Well, yes. Although being Brentford we had a little moment just after the hour when David Raya was unable to smother a shot from Bersant Celina and Andre Ayew was closest to the loose ball. Urghh. With that, the Swans got their tails up. But rather than breaking Brentford’s arm with their wing men, it was the Bees who broke their spirits. The pressure was, as ever, contained and Ollie Watkins wrapped things up. Sprinting clear, he charged down on the goal to make things safe as we headed towards injury time. There was to be no sweating on the result. No clenched buttocks. No last minute stress. The final whistle a perfunctory noise greeted with ecstasy rather than relief. And that was before we checked ‘other results’.

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The Bees were dominant

Honestly, one can’t even begin to describe the mood around the place at present. EVERYBODY has faith. Has confidence. The players are calm under pressure and exhilarating on the ball. The fans lapping it up. Peter Gilham losing his shit on the public address system. Each announcement becoming more and more enthused.

The piece about him in The Guardian yesterday described how he was offered a script but refused it. Thank goodness. We all know how incredible he is but to hear his joy transmit to the fans and the players is all a part of what is helping make our success. Even at half time, he stood there with mic in hand, not even lifting it to his lips until he had clapped everybody off and into the changing room. You may not have noticed this in the rush for the beer queue and the ablutions block but I stood and watched. What a man. The beating heart of our club.

But then, what a team. Matthew Benham’s genius and Thomas Frank’s approach have delivered up a squad that is the envy of all. A team built on a metaphorical shoe string (relatively), with a makeshift centre forward, that continue to defy expectation. At least, of those looking in. We’ve seen this coming for years. The diamonds unearthed and sold on. Their replacements being even better than before. The momentum building. The confidence high. 

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Safe to say that this performance was well received

Yet this feels like nothing I’ve experienced before. Even under the continuing highs that we’ve been served up over the last ten seasons. Now, I expect to win every game. That’s not arrogance. It’s confidence. It’s a reflection in the ability that this team has. The perfect blend of youth and experience. Unfettered skill allowed to run riot. Wise heads at the back to give guiding advice. Pontus is our big name at the back but don’t overlook Henrik Dalsgaard either. His lungs must be be gargantuan.

Next up Millwall (away) on Sunday. What an opportunity awaits if we can carry on doing what we’ve done so far. Then it’s Bristol City on New Year’s Day. Whilst one doesn’t like to look too far ahead, that game is mentioned more as an incentive (should any, somehow, be needed) for that trip to the New Den. After we run out at Ashton Gate,  West Bromwich Albion host Leeds United. Either way, something has to give.

For now, though, it’s a period of reflection. Of enjoying what was a quite incredible end to 2019 at Griffin Park. There’s the short hop to South-East London on Sunday and with it, the opportunity to carry on this enjoying this fantastic period. I’m sorry, the words are kind of failing me this morning. I’m sitting here with a huge grin on the face at this obscene hour of the day. I’m about to head back to work but the thought of commuting is, for once, not the usual harbinger of doom and gloom that comes with rising at this time of the day. Instead, there’s a big smile and a genuine feeling of well being. That’s down to Peter. To Thomas. To Matthew. To Bryan. To Ollie. To Henrik, Pontus, Josh, Ethan and the rest of the team. 

That’s down to everyone. THANK YOU. See you on Sunday… Until then, here’s the action once more

 

Nick Bruzon

What’s that noise? Tumbleweed!

10 Nov

And there we go. Quite magnificent. Brentford returned to three goal winning ways with as comprehensive a scoreline as one could hope for on the road following our 0-3 defeat of Wigan Athletic on Saturday. The horror show of the laboured Huddersfield Town game (something that should have seen both teams banned under the Geneva convention) was well and truly laid to rest after a victory that sees us climb to within two points of the play-off zone. Elsewhere, the aforementioned Terriers were trounced at Preston North End in a game of particular significance to look at shortly. Yet, as ever, we can only start with The Bees.

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Official Twitter show the celebrations

What can you say? Well, in theory not much. There was no real chance of attending this one whilst for multiple reasons, Friday night saw sleep a rarer commodity than a Nick Proschwitz goal. As such, Saturday afternoon saw my time spent curled up on the sofa, drifting in and out of a light snooze with Jeff Stelling and WhatsApp. Not literally, I’m not for one second suggesting Jeff sleeps with viewers. It was more the case of dozing in front of the TV as random dreams of Paris, The Eiffel Tower and other such romantic notions were punctuated by the phone going off or an excited shriek from the Soccer Saturday studio. 

And there was a lot of vibrations and shrieking. WhatsApp didn’t stop buzzing from the moment the team were announced. If we’re being honest with ourselves, days gone by would have seen the selection of number 10 as something to fill supporters with a sense of disappointment. Of dread. Of midfield nothingness. Nowadays, 10 is the first number we look for on the team sheet. The fleet-footed Algerian Benrahma having inherited the shirt and filled it with a joie de vivre so clearly missing in previous seasons. 

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Number 10 – popular with the fans !

So come 2pm, here was the team. Our group have several traditions. One Braemar Road observer will always send the line up around once official have published it at 2.01pm. Another will then remark that the bench looks weak. It’s as much part of football’s rich tapestry of supporter ritual as not shaving on a winning run, lucky shirts, magic pants et al. And this weekend’s message saw Benrahma awol. Noooooo. On a day where we’d only that morning noted the need to undo our own shackles, and those of the opposition, our skeleton key was missing. Hamstring, rather than agent. Thankfully.

Into his boots stepped Joel Valencia. The side, otherwise unchanged from the one which had trounced QPR before falling down agasint Huddersfield. Whatever Thomas Frank said prior to kick off, it worked. And then some. We were most definitely back in ‘attack mode’. 

Five minutes gone and the phone buzzed. ‘Bryan’ . Jeff and the team then confirmed Mbeumo had done it again. Get in. This was good. Too good. If anything, might we have scored too early? Oh ye of little faith. This is not the Brentford of days gone by (mostly). 0-1 up at half time then saw the game, and the phone, explode in a manner not seen since the commentary on ‘that’ Jota goal at Blackburn. #Burridgegasm  .

“Kamo !! “

“Need to see that magical goal celebration tomorrow”

“Wigan red”

“Still plenty of room for 3-2”

And 2 up thanks to the brilliance of Mokotjo became 3 up thanks to a quite wonderful strike from Josh Dasilva. He doesn’t do simple, that’s for sure. Do check out the video highlights for all three but, for me Clive, his was definitely the pick of anther very strong bunch. As much for the way we tore and stretched Wigan. They were left looking so thin, and the Bees creating so much space, that you’d have found better markers in a packet of Sharpies. It really was destructive from The Bees. 

The only sour note being a straight red for Jeanvier deep into injury time for his part in a scuffle. Whether the club take it on the chin or appeal remains to be seen but that’s a problem for another day. For now, it’s another case of saying hats off to Thomas Frank. Hats off to Brentford. 

What’s that noise? Silence? Tumbleweed? No, its the Social media keyboard warriors who had been calling for his head and slagging him off as clueless creeping back under their rocks.  Fairplay to Thomas for keeping on doing what he is doing. 12 points and 12 goals form the last five games does tend to suggest he has his game plan exactly on course!  

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Thomas Frank – popular with the fans !

Next up is International break followed by the visit from Reading. They’ve hit a 10 out 12 point form run that makes this one an extremely interesting challenge. The table doesn’t lie but it is rebalancing itself. Nowhere more is this seen than at the top where West Brom (with Romaine Sawyers taking his game to the next level) and Preston occupy the top two slots.

North End destroyed Huddersfield yesterday to continue their inexorable climb upwards. Almost sneaking up the blindside to go past Leeds United into second place after their third win in a row. For me, the highlight of this one was Paul Gallagher’s second half penalty. It was on a par with Benrahma at QPR for the consummate lesson in how to finish from twelve yards. Power and precision very much the order of the day.

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Benrahma at QPR. Gallgher did similar

Yet Preston are mentioned to note that, much like Brentford, put the wins together and the rest happens naturally. Don’t worry about other clubs and other results. Concentrate on your own game. With the top half of Championship table locked up tighter than Alcatraz, if you keep winning then the potential for ascension remains huge. Thomas Frank is proving it. Alex Neil at Preston is proving it. Keep getting those wins on the board and then when somebody falls apart or hits the skids – boom ! Move in and move up.

The Bees are now doing it and have gone up to 9th. We’ve overtaken QPR. We’ve overtaken Birmingham City. Who can we overtake next?

Roll on Saturday week when we can find out.

Nick Bruzon

Only two things on the agenda today – three points and a new shirt….

21 Sep

Hurry up 3pm. Brentford host Stoke City this afternoon, with everyone wanting to put the defeat at Preston behind us (2-0 last weekend) and get back to winning ways. Well, d’uh! Cliche alert and copy/paste your basic football soundbite by rote. Yet sometimes the simplest and most basic sentiments are the best and today is no exception. If any further morale boost were needed then it has come in the formal confirmation of the much touted Kurupt FM shirt – and then some. Not only is the limited edition top now available (we hope, still)  but next month’s home game against Bristol City sees a very special tie up. I’d go so far as to describe it as a crossover that hasn’t been bettered since Scooby Doo met Sonny and Cher.

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Come on Fred, don’t be so bashful

First up, Preston. We lost. They’re in the play-off zone and we’re six points off it. But the season is still early and still three games short of that magical point when the table can formally have been declared to have ‘taken shape’. Let’s just file that game under ‘Move along, nothing to see here’. The only other take away being that we got a look at the orange goalkeeper’s shirt in action. 

There’s been nothing on these pages since that game which is probably a good thing for all concerned. Instead, there’s been a bit of down time but now we’re set for the visit of Stoke City. Bottom of the league Stoke City. With the televised trip to fellow basement club Barnsley a week later, the next 8 days represent an excellent opportunity to push us into the upper reaches once the current nascent state of the league has become almost ‘fully formed’.

Will Thomas stick with the same or utilise the numbers at his disposal? He has pretty much the full squad available to him with the main question being when we get a look at front man Nikoloas Karelis. Brentford have looked magnificent going forward and the return of Said Benrahma has been a more than welcome one. Along with Bryan Mbuemo, who is finding his feet very quickly, Brentford haven’t been afraid to try their luck in front of goal. Even if the results have been mixed at times. Yet with the BBC telling us that Stoke have conceded the highest percentage of their shots faced (23.3%), could this be the game to try our luck from distance? It almost worked last weekend. 

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Benrahma – does everything. Even helping the fans with their ‘selfies’

Look, I’ve no idea which way Thomas is going to jump. We’re all full of conjecture but, for what its worth, I’d keep the same starting XI. When we’ve fired we’ve been imperious. Two wins out of the first seven isn’t prolific form but that can soon change. We were magnificent against Derby County last time out at Griffin Park and with Stoke struggling, I’m going to stick my neck on the block and say that I expect more of that form we saw against the Rams. Another game packed full of attacking intent from Brentford and another three points. The Potters have shipped 17 already, the leakiest defence in the Championship, and I wouldn’t be surprised if full time saw that figure take a further battering. Just bring on the afternoon when we get our chance to go for it.

The other news to put a spring in the step is that around the Kurupt FM shirt which Matthew Benham and his family first unveiled. It has finally been confirmed as being made available with all profits going to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Even better though, Brentford ‘official’ have now revealed that the local stars will be joining us for the game at home to Bristol City as they takeover Griffin Park. Cripes. #BeeTheDJ could be very interesting….

You can read about it all on ‘official’ whilst, of course, don’t forget to pick your shirt up – assuming there are any left (at present the online store only has these remaining at either end of the size spectrum).  It promises to be special. Until then, though, here’s to Stoke City.  

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This really is happening

Nick Bruzon

Bring it on! Championship action is back.

14 Sep

Preston boss Alex Neil faces a raft of injury concerns ahead of Brentford’s visit to Deepdale…… Not my words but those of the BBC big match preview this morning and, with the greatest respect to our hosts, great news for the travelling Bees. After the interminable wait through international break following the humping of Derby County – a period punctuated by the obvious results of double victory for England along with twin defeats for Gibraltar & Scotland (sorry, JJ) – we’re back to the important stuff. Championship action. And, as ever, I can’t wait.

There’s something quite special about that moment you wake up and, as the fog clears, realising that it’s a weekend. For most of us, there’s no mad rush to get ready for the school run. No stress of having to go to work for the day. No commuter hell to fight through just to face all manner of other challenges once you reach the office.

Instead, waking up can be done at leisure. Lie ins can be enjoyed – yours truly had the luxury of 7(seven)am today. Fantasy football teams can be prepared, BBC match previews read and blogs written. The morning can be eased in to. Until the mad rush to get ready for Harry’s football club begins. But it’s fun. It’s relaxing. Mrs B is asleep and H is yet to surface. A rare moment of stolen tranquility before the fun starts. 

And that’s all before train rides North and the proper action scan be served up where this afternoon we have Preston v Brentford as our dish of the day. I’m really excited about this one. We’ve already kicked last season’s away day blues in to touch with the win on the road at Middlesbrough. Last time out at Griffin Park was magnificent. Derby County were trounced in a game that saw us really unfortunate not to extend the 3-0 lead that had been built at half-time. 

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Raining (goals) last time out, against Derby County.

Brentford really were scintillating with the team looking solid at the back and irrepressible going forward. Wing back Sergi Canos a joy to behold. Bryan Mbuemo a new hero in the making. Ollie Watkins making centre-forward look more and more comfortable a role with each passing goal.

Then there was Saïd Benrahma – a player who seems to have a permanent smile on the face and one who has the ability to pass it on to the supporters, too. Words cannot say how pleased I am that we’ve retained the mercurial wide man. Consolidating our form and position over the next few months will be crucial to retaining his services, one would presume, as the top flight can only be his inevitable home. Fingers crossed it will be with Brentford.

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Just a few men of the moment. 

Getting ahead of ourselves, perhaps, but one needs to aim high. It’s part of being a football fan. One of the many reasons we come . The expectation. The hope. Yes, there’s the social side too. Something that is more prevalent on those wonderful away days we get to experience in the Champinship. “Why are you leaving at 9am” asks Mrs Bruzon, “when the game doesn’t kick off until 3?”. She is yet to experience playing away and so doesn’t understand that the 90 minutes of on-pitch time are often the least enjoyable of the day.It’s as much about meeting your friends sharing that train ride, discovering a new pub in a new town and ticking another stadium off the list. The football itself is another bonus added to a great day out with your mates. Especially when there’s a win at the end of this.

And today, Preston is the place. This one won’t be easy, despite their own apparent injury concerns. Even at this early stage in proceedings the Deepdale outfit find themselves separated from the play-off zone by nothing more than goal difference. It is a  position they will no doubt expect to consolidate after three wins out of three in the league (Stoke, Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan). Yet Brentford are no slouches. We’ve seen the team really start to find their feet as we adjust to the loss of Neal Maupay and the acquisitions of those new faces. Derby County was the quintessential demonstration that Thomas Frank has the tools at his disposal. How he uses them today will be key.

Thankfully, injury is not something that will trouble him. Whilst we had nobody on England duty (one day…one day), those who did represent their countries have come back healthy. And hopefully not too tired ! With England scoring goals for fun – and shipping them too – supporters went home happy after the victories over Bulgaria and Kosovo last week. We won’t overly dwell on Gibraltar v Denmark and Switzerland, where the ‘shipping’ was our main issue.

The point being that it was still enjoyable. But it was still England qualifying. A largely redundant exercise for those seeking a competitive edge given the size of the groups, the amounts of teams who can get through and the quality of those playing. Give me the Championship any day of the week. At least until the tournament proper kicks off in 2020.

Until then, here’s to Preston away. Enjoy…..

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Supporters enjoy watching England win at Wembley

Nick Bruzon

Neal’s going nowhere (fact) as Thomas unleashes his Action Forss. What a finish!

6 May

The morning after the night before. For you, Bees fans, the season is over. The wait until August 3rd already seems an interminable one yet, at the same time, what a way to end the campaign. What a high to finish up on. As comfortable a 3-0 won for Brentford as one could hope to see, with Preston swept aside and barely a glimmer off resistance offered. An incredible 13 minutes of first half injury time added on as fans feared the worst for Julian Jeanvier, knocked cold within the first 30 seconds but thankfully back on pitch by full time for the customary lap of honour. Another goal for Neal Maupay. Peter Gilham on fire. A top 11 finish for The Bees whilst that ever useful yardstick, the difference between us and ten times better Birmingham City, was this time around recorded as 12 points. In our favour. And Leeds United fell apart. Again. This is all before you even get to the sad farewells and the player of the year do.

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An anxious wait

The other key point, of course, being that this time next season there’ll be no more Griffin Park. No more waking up and imagining our return in a few months time. That’s not to be fearful of Lionel Road but merely to note how much we should appreciate our current home whilst we still can. Taking the kids for a pre-match stroll around TW8 and up to the club shop for the magnificent scarves c/o Audrey (thank you again, so much) it really began to hit home. We’ve all known this is coming but suddenly things seem very, very close. And I’m one of the lucky ones fortunate to have the stadium as a near neighbour. For others, I can only imagine those moments are disappearing quicker than Keith Stroud waving a yellow card.

Still, that’s for the future. For now, let’s savour another incredible afternoon. The pre-match vibe was killed stone-dead within moments of kick-off following the horrific looking injury suffered by Jeanvier. The haste with which referee Mr. Linnington and the players in his vicinity summoned the medical staff told you all you needed to know. Over ten minutes of treatment later the neck brace, oxygen and some very delicate stretcher work had us all fearing the worst. Sickening. Absolutely sickening. Sergi Canos in particular, seemed particularly shaken with his emotions going through the roof. Something seen moments after play resumed where he was quite direct in his asking the linesman what game he was watching.

With no further news as to the injury forthcoming and fans fearing the worst, it’s no surprise things took a while to get going once more but when they did, wow!! It was another master class in the Thomas Frank brand of free flowing football that we’ve all come to know and love. This, without Romaine Sawyers or Saïd Benrahama on the pitch but inspired once more by Sergi and Neal. Rico Henry ripping it up down the left flank. Moses Odubajo on the other side, winning balls he had no right to even come second to after a few ‘bambi on ice’ moments.

Ezri Konsa got the first. On what the clock says was 45 although there were close to another ten minutes played after that. One can only imagine the havoc this would have caused had there been a Big Bob Giveaway happening. The centre back swept it past ‘keeper Connor Riley to break his Brentford duck and effectively kill the game stone dead going in to half time. Preston had offered nothing to this point and were now left a mountain to climb.

It got worse for them in the second half. Brentford picked up where they left off and the second goal was only a matter of time. Sergi was inspired as he pushed and pushed before eventually setting up who else but Neal Maupay for his 25th league goal of the campaign. Yet such was his contribution and celebration that Peter Gilham, quite rightly, name checked the Spaniard for the assist as part of his goalscorer announcement. But it was that sort of day. Our man with the mic feeling the moment as much of anybody in the stands. I’ve not heard such voluminous cheering since Boris Johnson took the stage at the Conservative Party Conference and was greeted with cries of “Britain Trump. Britain Trump. Britain Trump.”

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Neal has been wonderful this season

As for the third, it was something anybody in Griffin Park will never forget. A side that was already seeing some heavy B-team presence with Marcondes, Racic and Dasilva all starting the game, ended it with more than a passing nod to Kevin O’Connor’s side. Ollie and Sergi were subbed late on for Jaakko Oksanen and Marcus Forss. And four minutes later it was 3-0. Marcus Forss with a quite wonderful run through the Preston midfield before firing home low and hard from distance.

Riley was left once more with no chance yet if Sergi had enjoyed his own moment, this was next level celebration. The young Finn running full tilt towards the home fans on the Ealing Toad. Arms aloft and loving it. Absolutely loving it. Fist pumps, Cheers. Acknowledgements. Big grins. He just kept going and going. It had the works. Yet understandably so.

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What a finish

And there it ended. 3-0 and up to 11th. Whilst we couldn’t, quite, make it five Championship top ten finishes in a row it was near as it gets. To come top half, yet again, still a quite magnificent from a squad that is founded upon discovering untapped potential and selling at profit when the time is right. Contrast this to your Leeds United and Birmingham City type teams. I cite these two in particular given the ongoing glut of tinpot accusations and ridiculous levels of overspending that have already led to some terrible acquisitions and points deductions.

Leeds have, once more, thrown away a seemingly impregnable position (although at least they are in the play offs. This season). Yesterday’s capitulation to Ipswich Town telling you all you need to know about theur current mental fragility. I still think they can do it but my word, Marcelo Bielsa will need to deliver the mother of all pep talks in the coming days.

As for ten times better Birmingham, there’s no team I enjoy trouncing more. And boy are Blues the gift that keeps on giving. Looking at our relative form over the last five seasons in the Championship, I’m spotting a trend here…..

2014/15: Brentford 5th   (78 points) Birmingham City 10th (63 points)

2015/16: Brentford 9th   (65 points) Birmingham City 10th (63 points)   

2016/17: Brentford 10th (64 points) Birmingham City 19th (63 points)

2017/18: Brentford 9th   (69 points) Birmingham City 19th (46 points)  

2018/19: Brentford 11th (64 points) Birmingham City 17th (52 points)   

You can’t make up that form of consistency and I cannot wait to see what next season brings. One thing we can be sure of is that we have now seen Yoann Barbet play his last Brentford game. Both the player and Thomas Frank have confirmed that it will be very much a case of ‘Au revoir’ for this fan favourite.

 I’m genuinely saddened. The passion and versatility alone are going to be a huge job to replicate. His popularity second to none as he went out of his way to show the love for all things, and fans, red and white. Yet fan love alone does not make a football team and, as we have now seen many times, our Directors of Football would seem to very much know what they are doing. I shot my emotional bolt after the loss of Jota and Maxime Colin to Birmingham yet look how that all played out. I’m gutted to see Yoann go, from a personal level as much as anything else, but trust implicitly what we are doing.

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What a man

The flip side to all of this is Neal Maupay. Last night he scooped supporters’ player of the year aswell as the same accolade from his team mates. He is one of the most hotly sought after talents in this squad and there’s no doubt his name will be linked with all manner of clubs over the summer.

The goals alone only tell half the story. There’s the pace, the approach play and, like Yoann and Sergi, that raw passion. He absolutely loves it and the fans love him like no other player I’ve seen in a while. Even better, everything he says suggests there is no intention whatsoever to leave. He’s already said as much to BBC Radio London and then yesterday afternoon did one of those things that you only get at Griffin Park –  he took a post-match stroll down Braemar Road and past The Griffin pub.

Seizing the opportunity to do my own one man Ian Moose impersonation although without the pies, corpulence or slagging off Maupay’s goal scoring ability (how IS that working out for you Ian?) – why not take the chance of a picture and to ask about next season’s plans? The answer was as categoric as they come. Definitely staying. Not moving. Absolutely loves it here. He even shook hands on it and promised. Fact.

Neal, just for the record we all know that a promise to a fan is as legally binding as any contract. Don’t let any agents tell you otherwise!

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Happy birthday to my good friend – to coin an (incorrect) phrase

Next season is going to be special. Very special. The emotion of leaving Griffin Park something that you can’t buy. The enthusiasm from Thomas Frank infectious. That he has won over the fans so incredibly well tells you all you need to know about his character, his mindset and his own popularity levels. With players like Ollie, Sergi, Neal and Saïd in the team, you know there are goals to come. Josh Dasilva has impressed in his late season cameos. Marcus Forss has hit the ground running. The difference that the return of Kamo made was quite apparent whilst some of Romaine Sawyers ball control has been nothing short of sizzling.

Of course players will go over the summer. They will also come. That’s how things work at Brentford. Yet if we keep the key components in the squad then this could be as exciting a close (closed?) season as it will be when things kick off once more in August.

For now, thank you Mr. Benham. Thank you Thomas Frank. Thank you Neal, Saïd, Sergi et al. Thank you Yoann. Most of all, thanks to all my fellow supporters for making 2018/19 special in so many ways. I’ve got a felling 2019/20 is when this pahse of life at Brentford is all going to come together. And I cannot wait.

See you there….

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Nick Bruzon

Farce of the missing game comes to an end. Can we end on a high ?

4 May

Pope declares his admiration for the Catholic faith. Bear defecates in small forest. Laurence Bassini has insufficient cash.  EFL call off Bolton v Brentford. The most obvious facts since records began were formally, finally, declared yesterday morning with the Bees being awarded a nominal 1-0 win and all three points for the game which will not be played and never had a hope in hell of happening the second it was called off last Friday. Instead, Sunday lunchtime’s visit from Preston North End will now become our final game of the season and, with it, the chance to secure a top ten finish is still on. Likewise, the chance to ensure that the nine points deducted from Birmingham City for breaking financial regulations give no chance of claiming ‘if only’ as we finish above them, again, with Bees already ten points better. 

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At least we got to play Bolton at home this season

What a mess. What a farce. What a shame. The only positive to come out of this in the immediate short term was the game being cancelled. Something which should have happened the exact same second Bolton Wanderers were unable to field a team. We all know the circumstances around why they did this, and there’s no vitriol being directed towards their first team, but the can of worms this opens with teams being able to cancel games unilaterally with no immediate form of solution, sanction or recourse available to the EFL is a worrying one. Might want to update that BCP plan, chaps.

Moreso, it begs the question as to how on earth they felt adequate safety personnel might be in place on Thursday afternoon when the next morning it was realised they wouldn’t. That being the formal reason the game was called off, rather than any considerations around fans, players or other clubs who now see Brentford climb to 12th after our third away win of the season.

Most frustratingly, there was no confirmation from the authorities as to whether we’d recorded the win in our magnificent away kit or who had scored the goal. With Neal Maupay (24) sitting four behind leading scorer Teemu Pukki of Norwich City (28) this would have been an excellent chance to try and narrow that gap. Instead, there’s only the Preston game left for Neal to try and finish top of the Championship pile .

Likewise, the brown and orange has been denied a triumphant farewell. Brentifrd fans were left crying into their beer last night at this devastating news, with Kitman Bob having used Twitter to declare that..

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For all I’m rooting for Neal in the goalscorer stakes, for the purposes of this result I’m pretty sure it was Sergi Canos on 7(seven) minutes who got this one. That said, it was @OllieW3BB on Twitter who probably wins the BBGiveaway this time around. His own shout for the time of the first goal deserving of more than a few ‘likes’ – something which at least one person seemed to appreciate.

Ollie: If my maths is right, the 8493rd min!!! Almost 6 days after KO 😂😂😂     

Kitman Bob: deserves a training top at least !!!

As for Brentford, like it or not as to how this happened we’re now up to 12th. I still say we would have won, regardless, and the point been Brentford’s had the game taken place on pitch.

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Brentford have won away?

If nothing else, The Trotters visit back in December brought about a most telling exchange in our house between Mrs. Bruzon and five year old Harry.

Rachel: “They won!! Does that mean the jinx is off and I can come back to football?”

Harry: “No mummy. Bolton were so bad that even if you’d been here Brentford would still have won”

Recent form and the current situation suggest nothing had changed on that front. Instead, we’re now in a position where, in theory, 10th place is still available. for that to happen we not only need to beat Preston on Sunday (something which is by no means a given) but also rely on favours. Including a win for Bolton at Nottingham Forest. With morale through the floor, the realist in me just can’t see that happening although I live in hope.

Regardless, our own victory is an essential. Primarily, to end the season on a high but as much to widen the gap over Birmingham City to a potential 13 points. That, an outcome which will please yours truly (at the least) for reasons which have been well documented on these pages and of which Harlee’s ten times better nonsense is only the most recent. Although at least on this day of piss weak ‘jokes’ (Star Wars fans, I’m looking at you) it has brought a smile to my face thinking about his interview and the on-pitch payback. Again. Thinking about their inability to beat us or finish above us. Again.

Roll on Sunday. See you there.

League after game 45

After 45 games, there’s still plenty to play for

Nick Bruzon