Tag Archives: Rafa

Could we have to make any tougher a decision? What a choice awaits.

25 Apr

Monday really was a day that saw us entering the final days of the current Championship campaign. Newcastle United confirmed their return to the Premier League, although the battle with Brighton to see which of the teams who achieved automatic promotion will be crowned champions is one which will could still go down to the final round of games. And on the subject of winning titles (oh, the subtly) Brentford have officially opened voting for the 2016/17 player of the year.

We all know what’s happened at Griffin Park this season. The second half of the campaign especially has seen some of the most free flowing and exciting football to be played by Brentford in years. This, despite the sale of top scorer Scott Hogan to Aston Villa in January.

Yet following that move, the Bees have flourished. Lasse Vibe has moved to within one strike of the former Bee in the Championship leading scorer’s table, with Jota just behind. Ah, Jota. To say he has had an eventful return to Griffin Park would be like saying the Titanic had a few stability issues.

Few of us honestly thought he’d be back after heading out to Eibar on loan, myself included. And even when there was talk of a possible return, being quite honest there was no way he could match former glories. Especially with the weight of expectation on his shoulders. Was there?

He hasn’t just matched them but taken his, and our, game to a whole new level. We’ve all seen the goals, the runs and the beautiful touches that have left opposition players floundering. Richard Keogh (Derby County) and Jake Bidwell (QPR) being just the latest to have been left with egg on face .

Yet Jota seems to play for pure pleasure. Something that could also be said of fellow Spaniard Sergi Canos out on the other wing. His return to Brentford has been an equally wonderful one.

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Danni showed perfectly how Twitter can be used to capture the current mood.

Then there are the new boys. Rico Henry has hit the ground running at 100mph whilst John Egan’s performance have propelled him toward selection for the Republic of Ireland. Romaine Sawyers has scored some stunners whilst, at times, totally bossed the midfield. His defence splitting passes are a thing of absolute beauty whilst Saturday against QPR saw me wondering if he had no fear, no danger sense or just supreme confidence – such were the deft touches and trickery he demonstrated.

How about Dan Bentley? What can you say about him beyond a huge doffing of the hat? The prospect of losing David Button was one that genuinely worried me but he’s not even been missed, such is the huge impact Dan has made. You could probably count the mistakes on the fingers of one finger yet the world class saves have been legion. He kept us alive on more than one occasion at the start of the season as the team found our collective feet and, right up to Saturday, has continued to pull top draw saves out of the bag.

As for the (metaphorical) elder statesmen, it really is a case of unsung heroes. Ryan Woods has, at times, seemed to be filling three midfield roles in his constant quest to tackle and distribute. He really is a serious contender for this season’s honour. Yoann Barbet has proven just why he was picked out in our new look recruitment drive with wonderful tackles and a fair few goals being added to his game. Pity Dean Smith having to pick between him, John Egan and Harlee.

Ah, Harlee Dean. The player on a one man mission to become the new Mr Brentford. He has been incredible. A colossus at the back this season, up there with the likes of Terry Evans. He’s had to learn his game over the last few seasons but now it is complete, just what a player. The tackles, the voice, the leading by example, the goals, the back heels (hmm, maybe not too many of those). He’s doubled up as a last minute target man whilst those driving runs forward have been a wonderful development to his style of play.

HB Harlee and Dan

Harlee – has led by example all season. A fine role model.

What about Nico? Josh? Max Colin? Any of them. It really is a tough call this time around. Reading the Ben Burgess article in the match day programme on Saturday, he was bemoaning the fact that so much player of the year voting takes place in February. Certainly, for the national awards. Yet this despite the season still having a third of the way to go.

It really was fascinating piece and, from a personal perspective, Ben’s column has been one of the standout features in the match day programme this time around. What an honour for the club to have some truly intelligent writing on the back page !

Well Ben, when it comes to Brentford you have your wish. The only question now being who to vote for. Good luck anybody trying to pick one out of those. And for those wishing to have their say, ‘official’ have the full details and form on the club website.

As for next season, the Championship has been nothing more than a one shot deal for Newcastle United. The Rafalution has been a triumphant one (despite the awful, awful hashtag) and at least we can rest easy in not needing to pack the mountaineering gear next campaign. Massive congratulations to the Magpies and, of course, Brighton for what was a supremely exciting battle.

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Worst. Hashtag. Ever. But a great performance from Newcastle United

Despite being Bookies’ favourites, Newcastle haven’t had it all their own way with pundits being reminded, yet again, that the Championship isn’t the cake walk a big club might expect. Aston Villa, we’re looking at you. Indeed, even the title looks a long way off with a four point deficit and two games to play keeping the Magpies just about alive in that race. Whilst you’d fancy the Seagulls to scoop the title, anything can happen in football and nobody at Griffin Park needs any reminders about what can happen in the final promotion shootout. I’m pretty sure there was something about a penalty?

Instead, they look certain to be replaced by Sunderland and Middlesbrough, at the very least. The trip to Sunderland one already being anticipated by many at Griffin Park whilst Middlesbrough will be very familiar territory.

Still, all that’s for another time. We’ve got two more games and a higher finish than last season to focus on. And, of course, deciding on just who to vote for.

I now know what my decision is, but I don’t fancy yours much. What a choice.

Nick Bruzon

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Amidst all the noise and distraction, let’s not forget the main event this weekend as Newcastle visit.

12 Jan

There’s been so much going on in the last week that one could be forgiven for being distracted by the main event for Brentford. It’s been all West Ham this, West Ham that over the alleged £15m sale of Scott Hogan to the Olympic stadium team. Likewise, Chelsea have been at the forefront of our attentions as the FA Cup draw has paired us with the current Premier League leaders once more. There’s even a case for adding Norwich City into the mix, given the paper talk about Sergi Canos – the only piece of transfer gossip to have the longevity of the Hogan rumour. Yet amongst all this I’ve not seen many people getting excited about Newcastle United in social media.

This Saturday sees one of THE games of the season as the Magpies are the visitors to Griffin Park. The match was, of course, originally moved to Monday night for the benefit of the TV cameras before a last minute rejig (and the inevitable travel chaos that will be caused for many) as a result of their FA Cup draw with Birmingham City.

This is a huge occasion and was without doubt one of the first games we looked for when the fixture list was published last summer. Yet now it is here, such are the other distractions at present that Newcastle United seem to be the last team on anybody’s radar.

Which, for me, is just great. Whilst nobody can deny our visitors’ history, let’s go into this as just another game rather than any form of special occasion. Newcastle have earned their place in the Championship through top flight ineptitude just as we have done through hard, hard work. Now, both teams are competing in the same division on the the same terms. If not financially then certainly in terms of opposition, games, TV rescheduling and even just the random level of refereeing.

Despite a blistering first few months to the campaign, the wheels are starting to fall off the ‘Rafalution’. Relatively speaking. Not only have Brighton caught up with the one time runaway leaders of the Championship but they now sit two points clear with a game in hand. Indeed, should Reading win their home game with hapless QPR tonight then the gap between second and third place will have shrunk to just three points.

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Worst. Hashtag. Ever.

That’s not to say I won’t be looking forward to Saturday’s game. It’s not every day that Rafa Benitez comes to town – the last time seeing him leave Griffin Park as the beneficiary of a very late draw in the FA Cup with his then Chelsea side . I’d love to see us go one better this time around, and if only to avenge the 3-1 defeat his team inflicted on us at St. James Park back in October. At one stage, that looked like it was going to be a real drubbing as the Bees were somewhat overawed by the occasion and the venue in the opening quarter hour.

Yet, equally, that can work to our advantage. There can’t be too many of the Newcastle team to have played in such a compact stadium as Griffin Park. A place where the changing rooms are less ‘palatial’ and more ‘garden shed’. A place where the fans will be on top of the pitch and on top of the opposition. A place where songs about table service  will, no doubt, be sung in the vicinity of the away dug out.

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Rafa has been here before; albeit he was outthought and outplayed by the Bees

So our approach to this one has been quite low key. That’s good. The Chelsea game will happen regardless whilst West Ham will, by all accounts, need to invest in a bigger calculator before even considering an investment in of our prize assets. If these things act as smoke screens to take the pressure off in the build up to Saturday then all well and good.  If John Swift and Reading win tonight to heap the pressure on Newcastle then even better.

Best of all though, with all of this going on there’s been no room to focus on the most horrific story of all this week. One worse than the image of the soon to be President Trump indulging in whatever golden medal wining video performance he is alleged to have indulged in. Yes, the BBC have announced the return of Mrs Brown in a new prime time Saturday night show.

The blurb from the Beeb tells us that the new show will featuring celebrity guests and allegedly outrageous stunts. Even more scary is the promise of ’shenanigans’. See also: ‘zany’ and ‘crazy’ in the list of words used to massively over compensate for extreme tedium.

I want to beat Newcastle United. I’d love the Bees to get promoted. Yet, if we are to find ourselves in the Championship  in 2017/18 then, at least, there’s the consolation of not having to sit through this tediously unfunny nonsense (It’s a man. In a cardigan.) whilst waiting for Match of the Day to start.

See you at Griffin Park on Saturday.

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Mrs Brown. Be afraid. Be very afraid

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees stung, Newcastle lose (?!),Spurs dumped and Jose strops. A week in football

28 Nov

Brentford lost 2-1 to Birmingham City despite doing everything but scoring an equaliser in a frenetic denouement. Our previous conquerors, Blackburn Rovers, did it again as runaway Newcastle United were put to the sword at St .James Park. The #Rafalution hitting a bump in the road as six changes proved to be a shuffle to far for the Magpies. Norwich lost their fifth on the bounce to set up an interesting one next weekend whilst at the bottom Blackburn are finally clear. Cardiff City replace them to join Wigan Athletic and Rotherham United in making up the final three.

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

As ever, we start with Brentford where former Bee Clayton Donaldson clearly felt he had been harshly treated by the home fans. And goalkeeper Daniel Bentley. Was Dan wearing spiked gloves? Or just an unfortunate coming together as the big man went down?

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The difference between ‘official’ and ‘voice of the fans’ was highlighted by a man who seems to be a regular fixture on these pages – Adam Devlin. A beautiful piece of symmetry on his Twitter feed highlighting the difference between clubspeak on the match feed and the wonderful team behind Beesotted telling it how it was.

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And another regular member of  Brentford Twitter, Bernard Quackenbush, is also back.

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Terrace Talk is back – the last edition in the short term . You can find the full video further on but this week’s topic is ‘ What do you want for Christmas’ ? And, it would seem by looking at social media feed, most fans would be happy unwrapping Jota. Could it happen? Should it happen? Will it happen? I’m not holding my breath.

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Sean asks what fans want for Christmas….

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….something from Spain would be nice

It was also a special birthday this week (and I don’t mean in an Ian Moose style – we’ll get to him later). Former player, manager and current chief scout Andy Scott being the man to celebrate. Forget Jota, I’d be happy for this shirt. In the rarely seen long sleeves, certainly one of our very best efforts over the years.

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Away from the Bees, it has been a quiet week on Championship Twitter. Perhaps this one from George Riley summing up how smoothly everything has gone.

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Nice work George – what a step up from that first show…

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It was a busy week in Europe. Spurs capitulated in the Champions’ League – a fact picked up on by just about everybody.

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Still, North London rivals Arsenal didn’t have it much better. Although this was nothing to do with any matters ‘on pitch’ .

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Manchester United won, heavily, (not a typo) although Wayne Rooney still had a bee (wasp?) in his bonnet over the ludicrous stories about ‘that wedding’.

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Mr P. Power of Ireland was several days late to the party, with a similar observation to one made by our own Alan Judge and which featured in last weeks column.

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Infact, it seems the online bookmakers are all employing comedians in a bid to generate Twitter presence. Well – it is working, to be fair. Our own club sponsors stumbling across this one from a Danish team called FC Midgetland, Walter Mitty land…? No, never heard of them.

Indeed, 888 were on the mark even yesterday. With an observation that could have been lifted straight from the West Ham United / new stadium school of reporting, they noted:

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But forget West Ham as the main focus was Manchester United, again, on Sunday. Some would call him charismatic; other’s a tw*t. However, Jose Mourinho can’t help himself.

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And finally (before Terrace Talk), it’s time for Ian Moose’s birthday friend of the week. Which player has been given the ultimate accolade of seeing his birthday published alongside a picture of themselves with the catering obsessed journalist. This week: Yakubu

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Enough. Here’s Terrace Talk

Genius, as ever

Nick Bruzon

With Derby next up, what can we learn from the Newcastle juggernaut?

16 Oct

Brentford travelled en-masse to Newcastle United full of expectation. We left on the wrong end of a 3-1 defeat. It is a  scoreline that doesn’t even come close to showing the gap between our two sides. I’ve no problem with being well beaten but let’s not pretend that, on this occasion, we weren’t anything but second best to deserved winners. Dean Smith’s post match assertion that “We competed well enough”  something which, I’m sorry to say, I disagree with. With the next game, at Derby County, only on Tuesday let’s hope he reviews this one carefully.

Hey, I love our Bees. I love going away and this was a corker of a trip.  Close to 3,000 visiting fans helping to make it the biggest crowd we’ve played in front of since 1946. And there, perhaps, was part of the issue. Whilst Newcastle are used to this on a weekly basis, we aren’t.

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A huge crowd to watch the Bees and Magpies

I’ll big us up when we do well or ‘fess up when we get away with proverbial murder, but I won’t stick my head in the sand. It was like watching 11 rabbits caught in the headlights of on onrushing Geordie juggernaut for the first twenty minutes . And it rolled straight over us.

How much room for the first goal as Jonjo Shelvey directed it on to the head of an unpressured Ciaran Clarke just 11 minutes in ? Dwight Gayle was given all the space he needed for the second (16) as Shelvey’s long ball over top set up the striker for the first of his pair.

Two down and rocking on the backfoot,  Newcastle really should have administered a knockout blow on 20 minutes. Had Ayoze Perez opted for head rather than hand his goal would have stood and, surely, opened the floodgates for a potential 7(seven) goal bracketing.

Instead, despite Brentford having been carved open time and again like a prize turkey with little resistance offered in return, the Bees hung on to a 2-0 half time deficit. Yet with the gap manageable and the potential there to, erm, go again in the second period we crumbled just four minutes into the half. Gayle grabbing his second of the afternoon as Shelvey turned provider once more.

To their credit, Brentford weren’t overwhelmed and even had the last word….“. Those aren’t my words but those of Channel 5 commentator Nick Halling to describe the moment Scott Hogan swopped in to give us hope. The already vocal Bees erupted further; passion flared in the stands. With most of us cheering on our our boys (although a few choosing a somewhat insalubrious selection of exhortations and admonishments) a brief period of hope turned to a case of ‘if only’.

Had we got that goal at 2 down rather than just a few moments after falling 3 behind then things might have been different. 2-1 and 40 minutes to play make it anybody’s game. But, instead, it proved to be little more than consolation.

Mark Burridge talks through the action, as ever, c/o Brentford official

Newcastle United were worthy winners. Absolutely. You can only beat who you are up against and they did that. Yet, being equally honest, were they that good? At least, yesterday.

I’d agree with Dean that we gave them a helping hand and that defensively we’re normally very good. Equally though, we offered little and had we challenged more then who knows what we’d have got out of this one?

Instead our selected team were stretched in midfield and couldn’t get the ball forward. Substitutions, made once we were 3-1 down, seemed more around containing the damage than offering any hope of pulling something unlikely out of the bag. Surely that should have been more the team he started with than reverted to?

Newcastle United played us. We played them, the history, the reputation, the atmosphere, the stadium, the occasion and ourselves.

Genuinely, I think things would have been a lot closer had the game been at Griffin Park. But then that’s home advantage and boy did they make it count. Let’s not take anything away from Newcastle after a game they could have won by more.

Look. This shouldn’t be taken as doom and gloom. Let’s not forget we were up against a team who had recently won 6-0 at  QPR and put 4 past current leaders Norwich City.

This is all part of a learning experience for a team that is still developing. It’s just, perhaps, disappointing given how competitive we can be at times and how far we have already come. The more we play in venues such as this the more we’ll learn how to handle the pressure. The more we’ll learn to take the game to our opponents or, at the least, shut them down.

And if nothing else, we can leave with our heads held high. Given our own history with sh*t hashtags, (see, amongst others: #trophyfriends, #bignewambitions, #novemberkings ) it was nice to see one that was possibly even worse than all of these put together.

Newcastle United inviting their fans  to #JoinTheRafalution.

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Brentford have a chance to get straight back into action on Tuesday night at Derby County. Interestingly, Steve McClaren got off to a strong start as his Rams beat Leeds United 1-0. With his team climbing to within five points of our own 8th placed Bees, don’t expect this one to be any easier.

For either side.

Nick Bruzon

As next season already tantalises, there’s a new ‘worst kit ever’.

13 May

Whilst the likes of Brentford and Burton Albion supporters may well be looking forward to next season’s trip to Newcastle United, unsurprisingly news of the Magpies’ relegation to the Championship hasn’t gone down well in the North-East. We’ve got a new entrant to the worst kit of all time c/o CD Palencia from Spain (where else?) and then’s even news, of sorts, from Griffin Park.

First up, Newcastle United. I only mention them purely because of the most amusing tweet I’ve seen this week. One that surpasses even the quote attributed to former Sunderland player Jack Colback which has been doing the rounds of social media. The highlight of which was the line : “I have absolutely no intention of playing in the Championship and that’s why I’m joining Newcastle.”

It would be safe to say that @hasarnn10 isn’t overly enamoured about the fate awaiting his team next season. Certainly if the below is to be believed.

Newcastle fan

Well Graziano, I think you’ll find we do.

Whilst it would be easy to launch into paragraphs of diatribe on the nonsensical quote, life’s too short. Sadly for Newcastle fans their team gave up any right to play in the amazing stadiums of the Premier League next time out and so, instead, we’ll simply file this one away for when our paths cross next season.

As one final observation, no sooner has temporary manger Rafa Benitez up and left (on Steve McClaren’s brolly ???) than  editor-in-chief for Trinity Mirror North East, Darren Thwaites, has launched an impassioned plea on behalf of ‘The Geordie Nation’, begging him to return.

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Whilst Darren’s Twitter feed has since backtracked on the whole ‘Geordie Nation’ thing, at the time of writing over 9,000 supporters have already signed the petition. Being quite selfish, I hope Darren fails in his mission.

Certainly, to the outsider looking in, Rafa almost hauled them out of the mire that Shteve had left the Magpies in.

With Brentford placing 5th and 9th in the Championship these last two seasons, there’ll be a lot of expectation for another strong finish.A Benitez led Newcastle United are surely going to be an additional hurdle in that aim.

Then again, it’s all the sweeter getting one over a ‘big’ team, given how tinpot we are and all that. On a totally unrelated note,  a big hello to any Leeds United fans reading. Hey, you never know.

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Will Rafa return?

Ok, crazy kits. Spain has long been the market leader in the ridiculous shirt. Every year, it seems as though there is an unofficial competition thing place in the Spanish lower leagues to come up with the most outrageous shirt possible.

Over the last few seasons these pages have seen ‘the tuxedo’, ‘the octopus’, the beer shirt’  and, of course the king of them all – La Hoya’s ‘broccoli’ kit.

Stop. The king is dead. Long live the king. We have a new pretender to the throne. Third division team CD Palencia have started to flex their muscle, quite literally, with their latest effort.

Even worse, their Kappa branded kit commits that most heinous of sartorial crimes by continuing the design onto this shorts. I have no idea if Kitman Bob or chief executive Mark Devlin are reading but, if so, here’s hoping we aren’t going to emulate this…..

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CDPalencia model their si-new kit

And finally, Brentford. Is Sam Saunders releasing holiday snaps ? Is this another picture of last season’s pitch?  Or is it simply that after last campaign’s pitch gate affair (which, of course, you can catch up on in the Last Word season review) it seems we are taking no chances this time around.

Visitors to Griffin Park would have seen the pitch being taken up before we’d even thumped Huddersfield Town 5-1 in the final game of the season last Saturday. A photograph was published on ‘official’ Twitter yesterday to show similar work is already under way at our Jersey Road training ground.

This is only good news. I don’t recall patchwork starting quite so soon in the past. If nothing else, there’s usually time for those end of season ‘workplace’ run outs and the ‘Bees Legends’ game.

Instead, there’s no let up in the pace for Brentford. Off the field, the players may be on holiday. Back in TW8, it’s already full steam ahead for August.

This could be a long three months…..

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Simon Moore just off camera

Nick Bruzon

What does it mean for us as Uwe’s new Groover’s blow Blues away?

9 Mar

Hull City AFC v Sheffield United and Wigan v Arsenal.

Even though Brentford fans know all about the Rösler effect in the FA Cup (last season The Bees came within a whisker of humiliating Chelsea at Griffin Park) would anybody have honestly predicted that as semi final line up?

Wigan’s defeat of a Manchester City team chasing an unprecedented domestic treble – regardless of their faltering progression in the Champion’s League – is not to be underestimated. Moreso, as they did it on City’s home pitch.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.