Tag Archives: Rams

Bees get a draw, ref has a stinker and Matthew Benham says his piece.

27 Sep

Brentford 1 Derby County 1. Another game, another draw. We’ve now reached that magic 10 played marker, have eight points and sit in 20th place. Barring the statistical miracle of Birmingham City winning by 6 goals tonight when Sheffield Wednesday visit St. Andrews, it means that’s where we’ll be heading into Saturday’s trip to Middlesbrough.

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Griffin Park always wonderful under floodlights

But if Birmingham winning by 6 would be a statistical miracle (come to think of it, the Blues just winning at the moment would be a case for the Pope in itself) then last night’s encounter at Griffin Park could be deemed much the same. Brentford ended it on 76% whilst the first half alone concluded with Derby seeing just 17.3% of the ball. Talk about one way traffic. On paper. Yet there was no irony lost in the Rams going in for their half time cuppa with a one-nil lead under the belts after Joe Ledley was given the freedom of Griffin Park to head across the goal and past Dan Bentley with little more than a quarter hour gone.

It was goal that sparked fury amongst the Brentford defence. Well, certainly hand waving and accusations at each other. But then when you watch the Sky Highlights you’ll see why. Truly, schoolboy defending given the space afforded to the Welsh international.

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Sloppy defending gifted Derby the lead

But from there, that was it from Derby. Rather than play to win they seemed intent on playing to foul. One would have thought it was Keith Stroud in the middle rather than, apparently, acting as fourth official given the flurry of first half yellow cards and poor decisions made by referee Andy Davies. Andre Wisdom in particular can count himself very lucky that his own poor judgement, charging in on Romaine Sawyers by the angry mob in the paddock, saw him given just a caution.

It was a refereeing performance that continued right to the end where, with Ollie Watkins bearing down on goal, the ref called time as the wideman was about to shoot. It was a decision which summed up his night – Davies, not Watkins. The youngster having minutes earlier scored an equaliser for the Bees from close in that our balance of play, if not our shots, had suggested would be coming.

Derby were big, dirty and physical. Brentford were given minimal protection from the ref. How this one ended 11 v 11 I still have no idea. Yet, equally, Gary Rowett’s men did a job on us. They were solid, resolute and Dean Smith’s team had no way past them. Balls were passed sideways and backwards time and again in a bid to break through. Substitutions were lacklustre and like for like, with no visible attempt to change formation or tactic. Purely adjustments to personnel. That said, Chris Mepham really did impress when he came off the bench for Andreas Bjelland at half time.

Our own shot target wasn’t in the same ball park as our possession but you can’t deny this team keep on going. This team have guts. This team kept playing. And eventually our persistence and domination was rewarded by that man Watkins as he slid home FloJo’s cross.

Should we have won? Possibly. Did we deserve more? Well, no. Sadly. Goals are what win games. Not stats. There is a grudging respect to Derby for playing a certain way. A way we couldn’t get through. Gary Rowett had done his homework and set out his stall. Poor Neal Maupay, dwarfed by the Derby defence, struggled desperately and needed either support or to be given a break. Josh Clarke and Ryan Woods, both amongst our most positive players, were removed early. At one point the disembodied voice of Peter Gilham , commentating on our Oktoberfest Oompah Band from the back of the stand, was the highlight of the first half.

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The extent of our first half oomph, ah

But the team kept going. The team plugged away. The team would eventually get the equaliser that sent the fans home relieved.

Matthew Benham would later make a rare foray onto Twitter where he had a few things to say. Alongside his own criticism of the ref there was more than a fair share for the supporters as he noted :

A really excellent performance tonight from a young, hungry side, created the vast majority of chances. Think the moaners must’ve been watching a different game! #brentfordfc

1. Yes I know boos at the end were for the ref 2. Can’t see how constantly getting on the backs of players DURING the game helps the team.

Fair? Well, I thought we struggled at times. Not in terms of being outplayed but in terms of trying to break through the opposition. As a football fan, I’m somebody who has been brought up on the unconventional tactic of trying to get the ball into the net. Perhaps I’m just out of touch. The self-confessed numpty on the terrace rather than Head Coach. Indeed, at full time Dean would talk about how well we’d stuck to our game plan and the quality of the opposition.

That latter point in particular, one that can’t be ignored. Yet what Dean and Matthew both, perhaps, overlook is that as paying fans we go into a game with a certain level of expectation. Winning the game. That’s what football is about. Surely?

We don’t have the involvement of almost being too close. Of being within that inner circle. Of seeing what goes on behind the scenes. Of being the ones stumping up the cash for the players and the stadium. What we have seen so far is our heroes sold from under our feet (for well documented reasons), some shocking defensive lapses that have turned potential victories into defeat or draw and an average of less than a point a game after reaching that magical ten game mark with a solitary victory under the belt.

That’s not to say we’ll support them any less. That’s not to say we have that divine right to ‘be any good’. I love watching the Bees but do reserve anyone’s right to shout at times. This is West London, not North Korea. I have huge respect for our owner and understand the frustration from his perspective.  But I think he was wrong on this one. If nothing else, I didn’t even hear that much moaning from my seat on the touchline. It wasn’t a great game to watch. It was a physical battle that we were often second best in. It was also a game where our team were offered minimal protection from a fussy referee.

But it was also a game that showed we keep going. So often, Brentford teams of old have just given up. Have accepted defeat. This isn’t the Butcher era. The days of Leroy are gone. I don’t agree with everything Dean does tactically in his role as head coach. But I support this club come thick or thin. I’m well pleased with another point in what were really tricky circumstances.

At the same time, I’ll never admit that last night was any form of classic. It wasn’t. It was a game that shows just how tough this league can be. It was game where we eventually got what, on balance, we deserved through grit and determination.

Saturday will be another tough challenge, no doubt. But with Middlesbrough losing at home last night (0-1 to Norwich City) is there a chink in their armour we can exploit?

Roll on the weekend when we find out.

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Matthew says his piece on Twitter at full time

Nick Bruzon

The Bluetones, Hard-Fi and Theaudience form Staines supergroup in honour of King Jota.

17 Apr

With Brentford travelling to Barnsley today you might expect the normal prematch nonsense. Hot off the heels of Friday’s hammering of Derby County, where a brace apiece from Lasse Vibe and the talismanic Jota saw pun writers having a field day, it would be the perfect time to ‘go again’ with the big game build up. Yet headlines including Demolition Derby. Rams to the Slaughter. Silence of the Rams. Rams Raided and my own personal winner –  Bees guilty of battering Rams etc etc etc tell you all you need to know about that one. Poor Barnsley. If Brentford put in even half that performance then the Tykes would probably be better focussing on the half time mascot race between Toby and Buzz.

So we’ll leave the football for now. At least, the on pitch stuff. One of the things I love about Brentford is that everybody knows everybody. One minute you could be outside the pub with your regular match day friends, then next you find yourself talking to jumper man, having Harry Potter bawling in your ear or Billy Grant waving a microphone in your face. You see Natalie Sawyer walking past. Chairman Cliff Crown stops for a chat. Look over there, Marcus Gayle is holding court. And isn’t that Richard Archer out of Hard-Fi talking to him? Alongside Adam Devlin from one of my all time favourite bands, The Bluetones. All we need is Cameron Diaz for a full house. Although, sadly, that’s a spot that will have to go on hold (at least, for now) due to well documented reasons.

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Jumper Man – one of many familiar Brentford faces

But the point being this is all run of the mill stuff. Between 2pm and 7pm on a Saturday afternoon we’re all Brentford fans. Whoever you are and whatever happens outside the confines of Griffin Park is stuff for another day. For now, a love of the Bees unites us all as the great and good rub shoulders and enjoy the vibe.

But today we should think about what happens outside of Griffin Park because word reaches me, perhaps appropriately on Easter weekend, of a Holy Trinity coming together. A musical Holy Trinity or, if you will, a so called supergroup.

A power trio comprising Devlin (Adam, not chief executive Mark), Richard Archer and the one time musical cohort of Sophie Ellis-Bexter, Billy Reeves. The very same Billy Reeves these days more commonly known for his wonderful work with BBC Radio London.

Yes, Billy is at it again. The man who brought us the uber catchy ‘Hey! Championship!’ to celebrate our promotion from League 1 and follow up single ‘Goodbye Mark Warburton’ has now linked up with the aforementioned musical wing men to form Grown Men in Tears –   Staines’ answer to Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The product of this output is ‘Welcome Home, King Jota’  – quite possibly Billy’s finest end of season song to date.

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Grown Men in Tears. (l-r) Archer, Devlin, Reeves.     c/o The Jolly Baker, Ashford

Kudos to Adam and Richard. With added glockenspiel and flamenco guitar outro it really is Billy’s crown jewel. How catchy. Oh that chorus. Oh, the namechecking in the lyrics.  “He opens up his legs, puts in a corner, for Harlee Dean’s big head” being amongst the finest and, yet, slipping into the verse as deliciously as the King himself playing the ball over.

Oh that chorus. The harmony. I Love it. Absolutely love it. What starts off with a slightly melancholic air quickly turns into an ear worm that burrows in deep and won’t let go. A perfect 3 minutes 58 seconds of music that is as silky smooth as the man himself. Even better, its all for charity with all proceeds going to Prostate Cancer UK Charity. Move fast, though – the single will only be available for one week (as a download, 79p) via Billy’s twitter page https://www.twitter.com/TheBillyReeves  and is released April 21st.

Come for the Hard-FI / Bluetones connection, stay for musical genius.

Jota – if you are reading (you aren’t) the Brentford family love you. If this doesn’t tell you, nothing will.

You can watch the video and hear the song below. Then rush out and buy it on the 21st for just 79p. Its all for charity, mate. And isn’t it brilliant?

Big love and thanks to Mark Fuller for the video montage. What a lotta Jota 

If you are concerned about prostate cancer or prostate problems then the Prostate Cancer UK charity can help. They provide a range of information and support so you can choose the services that work for you. All their services are open to men, their family and their friends. Via their ‘Men United’ campaign they are working with the Football League to raise awareness and money.

Nick Bruzon

Rams raided in demolition derby. The Great Dane and King of Spain inspire killer Bees.

14 Apr

Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do but stand back and gasp in awe. There’s Good Friday and then there’s this. Bloody Marvellous Friday. Brentford swept Derby County aside by 4-0. It was a scoreline which, if anything, underplays just how complete a team performance this was. Barnsley should be quaking in their boots if we can even half replicate this one on Monday.

Three hours after full time and I’m still staggered by just how beautiful that was. We’ve spoken all season about what would happen if the Bees could play a full 90 minutes at full tempo. Well, here was the answer. And boy, wasn’t it a joy to behold?

“A game of two halves. And Derby weren’t in either” . Not my words but those of one New Road observer. Top comment from a top cat. He really couldn’t have summarised it in a more poetic or appropriate fashion. Sentiments shared at the bar of The Griffin post game, where the first comment I heard was one of , “4-0? 4. 0. To Brentford? Just what’s that all about?”

Ah. The tale of the unfancied and underestimated underdog being played out yet again. Derby committing the fatal mistake of playing the reputation (a traditional mid tier three outfit) rather than the team in front of them (a free scoring XI with the tastiest wings this side of Colonel Sanders).

Oh, Jota. Could we love this man any more? Every time you think he’s reached his peak he then goes one better. Or, in this case, two. His opening goal, to double Lasse Vibe’s first half opener (one that the Spaniard himself had provided the assist for) was beautifully taken. But the second, to hammer home the four goal advantage, was up there with the best of them.

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View from the Braemar. Jota points the way

The King of Spain let the ball slide one way past the hapless Richard Keogh, the player himself going the other, before reuniting with the ball. It was a moment to take the breath away and as close to Pele in 1970 or Maradona against England in 1986 as one could hope to see in West London.

But then, with supporters gasping for air, he completed the stranglehold. On Derby, that is . From a seemingly impossible angle he fired home from the corner of the six yard box, through three defenders, past the ‘keeper, across the goal and into the net at the back stick.

How the crowd roared. How the king, arms aloft, soared. Grown men gasped. The director’s box, to a man (and woman) stood as one. Acknowledging a moment that truly was the crown jewel in a consumate performance.

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The Bees line up to celebrate with the man of the moment

Between Jota’s pair, Lasse Vibe had made it 3-0. His shot from outside the box already wrapping things up and leaving the Great Dane on the cusp of what would, possibly should, have been a well deserved hat-trick. Scott who? With the greatest of respect to the former Bee, Lasse has well and truly proven what he can do and what a great piece of business that Matthew and the team pulled off back in January.

But just as against Leeds United, to overly single out any one payer would be unfair. It was one of those performances where we saw just how good Dean Smith’s team is. The difference being that, whilst both games saw great Bees’ performances, this time we kept it going for the full 90. Indeed, if anything, we actually accelerated.

Marcus Gayle summed things up nicely at full time . His twitter analysis encapsulated it in succinct fashion. “That was the most complete 90 min team performance by @BrentfordFC this season – full of confidence,creativeness and goals at  Grifffin Park

If you were there, you know what happened. If you weren’t, then my condolences. It really was THAT good. As ever, the BBC, Brentford ‘official’ or Beesotted are amongst the sources to get your full fat match report.

The next game can’t come soon enough. The trip to Barnsley may be a long one but if Brentford put in even half the shift they did today, then three points are the least we’ll come home with.

That’s for Monday, though. For now, it’s a chance to maybe play those goals once more. Sky sports have the video up now on their internet page, with Bees Player to follow tomorrow.

I can’t wait to hear what Mark Burridge made of this one.

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Derby were yards behind us, in both halves

Nick Bruzon

A tale of two Steves as Dean stays in charge where it counts

13 Oct

With Brentford making final preparations for Saturday’s trip to Newcastle United, we can at least be safe in the knowledge that any chance of Dean Smith going to Aston Villa has now officially been snuffed out. On a day of managerial change, not only was Steve Bruce named in charge at Villa Park but Steve McClaren has, seemingly out of nowhere, been reinstalled at Derby County. The same Derby County team that we visit on Tuesday evening.

First up, Aston Villa. Despite the early talk about our own Dean Smith being linked with that one it was never anything more than a story. At least, based on outward appearances. Personally, and I said at the time, there didn’t seem any chance of this happening for multiple reasons and this has now proven to be the case.

It’s great news for Brentford and, one would hope, for Aston Villa. Some fans will be relieved they haven’t inherited the manager of a ‘pub side’. Others might have some concern about a man who was in charge of local rivals Birmingham City from 2001-07.

That latter point, aside from getting stick from the opposition fans when the two sides meet, would seem to be largely irrelevant though. As long as a team is doing well then it is an awful lot easier to look at the past through rose tinted glasses.

Then again, he walks into a hotbed of expectation.

Tim Sherwood was in charge of Aston Villa back in October 2015 (hmm, that went well). A year later they’ve been through Sherwood, Kevin MacDonald, Remi Garde, Eric Black and of course Roberto di Matteo. Twelve months on and Bruce now has what was previously described as less a hot seat and more an electric chair.

And, of course, there is the additional pressure of a hashtag. The club announced his arrival with use of this cringeworthy social media device (see also: #Jakejoins). At this rate, surely we’re only a short step away from a meme to announce a new signing?

Nobody knows how this will turn out. It’ll be fun finding out though.

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Steve joins at Villa; Dean stays with his pub side

But the really interesting news yesterday surrounded Derby County and Steve McClaren. Of course,  the one time umbrella wielding manager has been there before. He and Derby parted company in 2015 amidst much interest from a Newcastle United side he would eventually join (hmm, that went well) and hot off the back of that self-destruct as they threw away an almost nailed on place in the play-offs.

Brentford were just one of the beneficiaries as the Rams somehow lost 3-0, at home, to a very average Reading side who had literally nothing to play for. Indeed, our 2-0 win over them the weekend before had further knocked the stuffing out of the Royals in their final home game of that campaign. The Bees’ reward for that capitulation,  a two legged semi with Middlesbrough. Move along, nothing to see here.

But will it work again? McClaren’s time at Newcastle was an unmitigated disaster, I’m sorry to say. He has that emotional pressure of the way his England career panned out – a disaster on the pitch and widely ridiculed off it –  whilst he is as known for his infamous Dutch accent as his two stints in charge of Eredivise side Twente. That, a role he would also be obliged to resign from.

Frankly, he seems to have more lives than a cat yet still boards come back to him. I’m not sure what just what it is that he posesses but it’s going to be interesting finding out.

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Can Steve the cat stay out of the rain this time?

Both Bruce and McClaren will have expectation from their own fans aswell as heckling from the visiting supporters to deal with. In the case of Aston Villa, one can only assume this will be limited to a few games here and there – the Birmingham s and Wolves of this world. But for McClaren, with terrace wags knowing just how many roles (and play offs) his teams have eventually choked, he could be in for a rough ride should things not get off to anything but a flier.

Forget the weight of expectation, that umbrella is the real baggage he carries around with him. Here’s hoping it is still weighing him down when Brentford visit on Tuesday.

Before that, though, is the small matter of our visit to Newcastle on Saturday. The Bees will be there in huge numbers, with chief executive Mark Devlin giving local journalists a free story with his latest ’tweet’ on ticket sales. For a club our size, the travelling fans have always gone in impressive numbers and this is no different.Close to 3,000 for the long trek up to the North-East isn’t to be sniffed at.

Great work, one and all. Let’s hope the team, and Dean Smith – our head coach – do them justice on the pitch.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Don’t Panic. Or is it trouble? 7(seven) isn’t the magic number.

21 Feb

Derby County have ended their poor run. Brentford’s continues. A 3-1 victory for the Rams at Griffin Park was one which, if we are being honest with ourselves, they deserved on their first half performance alone. Equally, as we know too well, ‘deserving’ counts for nothing in football if you can’t take your chances. For Brentford to have been a goal up with ten minutes to go yet still lose (whilst shipping three) was just woeful. Derby wanted it more and got it.

The final whistle was greeted with a chorus of boos and I can well understand why. Regardless of our gratitude that Brentford are in the Championship,at present the Bees look all at sea and the stats don’t make good reading:

7(seven) defeats out of 9 games in 2016.

Only 7(seven) goals scored in those 9 games – take Preston out of the equation and its 4 from 8.

10 goals against in the last three games.

QPR now ahead of us in the league table.

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The overcast conditions matched the mood at Griffin Park

Indeed a wonderful first half performance from one of the old guard, David Button, was the difference between 0-0 and the game being out of sight before 3.45pm. A series of world class saves kept things level, the pick of which came from one of his own players.

Unmarked in the six yard box, Jake Bidwell volleyed a clearance straight towards the Brentford goal. That man Button was on hand to parry it to his left at almost point blank range and somehow out to safety.

But going in 0-0, it seemed as though Derby had blown their chance when Alan Judge gave Brentford the lead 7(seven) minutes into the second half. And oh, what a goal.

Picking the ball up inside his own half, Judge ran and ran down the right flank before reaching the edge of the box. With Kerschbaumer making a late, unmarked, run into the centre Judge ignored him and kept going before firing home to the far corner from the acutest of angles

Whilst not quite as narrow as Van Basten in Euro ’88, it wasn’t far off. Judge had no right to score from there yet, such is his confidence and ability, he made it look simple. What a goal and what a moment for the Bees. If nothing else, the media team would have breathed a sigh of relief as it means they won’t be combing footage of the development squad to find an entrant for February’s ‘goal of the month’ competition.

And that was the high point. With the Bees’ creative juices drying up as we looked to keep it tight, things went South in the final ten minutes. The first came as the Brentford defence (rightly) called for handball. Yet only Jeff Hendrick played on and, left in yards of space, slid it neatly between Button’s legs . The previously unbeatable ‘keeper was given no chance as the rest of his defence stopped running and just waved their arms in the air, seemingly more interested in having a private game of ‘who can hail a taxi first?’.

Was it hand ball? Absolutely. Should it have stood? Probably not. But it is one of the most basic lessons of football to play the whistle, not the ball. You can’t legislate for that level of schoolboy defending. Standing still and relying on a referee to make what you believe to be the correct call is as risky a defensive strategy as they come. And it was the wrong one. 1-1.

From that point on, we were dead in the water. Cyrus ‘the virus’ Christie gave Derby the lead four minutes later, tucking in from close range and breaking Brentford hearts.

With 87 minutes on the clock, Dean Smith opted to bring on one of his two attacking midfielders in Sergi Canos (I don’t count the largely ineffectual Swift). Why he or Sam weren’t introduced earlier, or even started, I have no idea but perhaps there was a belief our fragile team would hang on to a 1-0.

And, as time ran out, it almost happened. With no working scoreboard or fourth official’s timer, the game was well into Jota time when the chance to salvage something came. And then went. Jake Bidwell’s goalbound header was miraculously saved at the death by  Scott Carson.

The ‘keeper, who seemed to have taken the advice of Rams’ sponsor ‘Just Eat’ a bit too literally, dived to his left and somehow tipped Jake’s downward header away on the goal line. If Judge’s goal had been ‘not quite Van Basten’, this save was ‘almost Gordon Banks’. Again, the angle wasn’t quite as severe as with the famous predecessor but I still don’t know how Carson got down there. Well played , that man.

And with that, it was Doncaster Rovers all over again. The chance having been and gone for the Bees, Derby broke down the other end to put the game officially out of sight, courtesy of Chris Martin. Bees fans were left feeling yellow as the indignity of another defeat in that style was further compounded by an inevitable volley of Coldplay puns.

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And this was at 0-0….

Being honest, whatever the logic behind the change in manager and decision to sell the players from last season, we are a pale shadow of the team that played with so much freedom and confidence 12 months ago. Such is the general vibe that the campaign objective now seems one of simply limping over the line and hoping we can hang in there for a fresh start in 2016/17.

But for Alan Judge and David Button, I have no idea where we’d be heading. Yesterday really would have been a wonderful chance to show a reaction after Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday. Instead, up against a team on an even worse run of form than ourselves, we ended up with the proverbial damp squib.

The only plus point of the day (aside from the genuinely unexpected arrival of the ‘Terrace Talk’ cameras into the upper room at The Griffin….) was the news that Matthew Benham is back on Twitter following his second period of self-imposed exile.

No matter how frustrating an experience some are finding it supporting the Bees at present, let’s hope people treat him with the respect he deserves this time around.

Having been spoiled to ambassadorial levels last season, the luxury of the Ferrero Rocher pyramid has now been replaced by what tastes like cold leftovers. That’s a hard thing to swallow but, whatever confusion is happening on the pitch, this is still the team we support and the club we love. Saturday’s wouldn’t be the same without it.

We’ve had a tough run of games and Tuesday night against Wolves won’t be any easier. Whilst we can’t rely on the likes of Judge and Button forever, it would be great to see if Dean Smith and his management committee can inspire some of the new breed to step up and show their potential over the coming games. It looked like we might do that a few weeks ago, only to have now taken three huge steps backwards.

That said, we are where we are. Crying over it won’t make a difference. Given the sheer lunacy of the season so far, frankly I’d be happy for another 13 points and a couple of local derby wins.

And for any County fans still reading, I’m not talking about beating the Rams at Griffin Park…..

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Fans trudge out in the shadow of Denmark’s finest

Nick Bruzon

Manchester United in Europe and Dean Smith dominate Derby build up

19 Feb

With Brentford preparing to take on Derby County this weekend, Dean Smith was in buoyant mood at yesterday’s press conference. There was more from the club’s ‘phone a fan’ scheme where Alan Judge was in the hotseat and, of course, European football has been at the forefront of our attention with Manchester United, amongst others, making the news.

But I wanted to start with a few quotes from Dean’s press conference in regards to the Derby game. The Bees recent form of nil points, no goals, 7(seven) against from the games with Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday isn’t great. But for those who think we are in free fall, spare a thought for our opponents.

A change in manager wasn’t enough to reverse the fortunes of a team who have lost four and drawn four from their last eight league games. It is a worrying run of form for a side that have come ‘so close’ in the last two seasons and would be looking to go one better this time around. That they still remain in the play-off zone is testament to their early season form and the Rams will, no doubt, be bang up for three points this weekend with Birmingham now breathing down their necks.

It is a view shared by Dean Smith who noted “They got beaten last week and will be looking for a reaction. You only have to look at their squad to know what a good squad it is.

Obvious but true. On the flipside, one can only hope the squad that Dean has left to play with can also produce a reaction. The performance against Wednesday produced some horror defending, outside of the redcard that we won’t be appealing despite the ongoing belief that the ref “couldn’t make that decision from where he was.

The one positive I guess is that at least our head coach has acknowledged this. He could hardly not, to be fair. “The manner of the goals we conceded was not good” would seem to be somewhat of an understatement but, if we can stop shipping them quite so readily, that’ll be half the job done. Then we just need to find our way at the other end …..

Next up, yesterday’s European football.

Cup fever had this corner of West London gripped last night with the draw for the Gibraltar Rock Cup. Glacis United face a nightmare tie with all-conquering Lincoln Red Imps. They, of course, reached the second qualifying round of this season’s Champions League, before narrowly missing out to Danish side FCM . And given our current fascination with all things Manchester United, their Gibraltarian equivalents (in name, at least) the rebranded Manchester 62 face College 1975. Ties to be played the week of March 16 and you can see the full draw below, c/o @GibFootballTalk.

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On the subject of Manchester United, it would be remiss of me not to mention the Europa League.

If you think Derby County are on a bad run of form, Gary Neville hasn’t exactly had things easy since taking over as manager of Valencia . How that has changed! After getting his first league win at the weekend, last night he saw his team become the first to score five goals in the opening half of a Europa League game. Agonisingly, Valencia fell one short of a 7(seven) -0 bracketing as they eventually ran out 6-0 winners over Rapid Vienna.

And finally, Brentford’s excellent ‘phone a fan’ scheme continued yesterday with Alan Judge manning the switchboard and the club having to convince another fan that yes, our man of the moment really had just called them up.

As ever, the background detail on these stories is what really makes them. The motivational pep talks aren’t just confined to our press conference, if the white board in the ticket office is to be believed.

Nick Bruzon

Is this next season’s shirt? Plus an unexpected favour

30 Jan

Saturday. Brentford have another afternoon off. The price of FA Cup capitulation. With the scheduled game against Leeds United having been brought forward, we’re not even half-way towards out next outing – the televised clash with Brighton and Hove Albion on Friday evening.   Plus, Manchester United do us a favour whilst one correspondent asks if we’ve been given a possible ‘sneak peek’ of next seasons’ kit? First though, this weekend.

It always feels like we are missing out when most of our rivals are playing. One slight positive is, I guess, that the next time we all meet up the shape of our squad will be known. Will that include Alan Judge? James Tarkowski? Anybody new? With the window due to ‘slam shut’ on Monday, the time for deals is running out. That doesn’t make them any less likely, of course.

Traditionally, the final day has been anything from a sea of tumbleweed to a flurry of frenetic activity. And that’s just the onlookers although recent times have seen them absent after reporter Alan Irwin was assaulted with an ‘adult product’ . Let’s hope our ‘out door’ remains equally quiet over the next few days.

That said, yesterday saw the transfer klaxon going off at Griffin Park with the club announcing that 19 year old centre back Emmanuel Onariase has signed on a youth contract from West Ham. With Harlee Dean, Yoann Barbet, James Tarkowski and Jack O’Connell having already featured in that position this season, what does this mean for our first teamers? Could one or more be on the way out – either now or at season end ?

The situation around James Tarkowski, if not entirely clear following the respective statements, has certainly been made very public. Likewise, Harlee’s contract expires at the end of the season. One would hope that at least one of these players is in the long-term plans of our co-directors of football. We’ll see though.

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Emmanuel signs and opts for scarf over shirt

The other slight plus from this weekend was Derby County being beaten by Manchester United in the FA Cup last night. As anybody who has been reading this week will be aware, I’m not particularly interested in the cup performances of Mr. van Gaal’s team.

However, the result does now mean that our game with Derby at Griffin Park will go ahead on February 20th. Had the Rams beaten United then we wouldn’t have had a Saturday ‘home fixture’ until March 5th against Charlton Athletic. Imagine what a long wait that would have been – over a month without a home weekend fixture.

We’d have had to do ‘that trip’ to Ikea, visit the in-laws, paint the spare room or fix the leaky tap. I can only imagine the panic over at The Griffin as takings nosedived. Thanks Man U. Please note: my interest in you is now over. Again .

And finally, fellow kit enthusiast Luis Adriano contacted me on Twitter last night with a great spot – could this be next season’s home shirt? Made by adidas, it is the away shirt for San Jose Earthquakes’ 2016 campaign.

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Could we wear this next season?

As Luis noted, “not sure it would go down too well with the traditionalists” but , from a personal perspective, I have to say that I love it. Red and white stripes but certainly a little bit of a twist on the norm. Would Matthew Benham and Mark Devlin take this much of a leap into untraditional territory? Would supporters like a shirt that was this heavy on the white?

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Osca ’83-’84 home effort. The one with the all white upper half. So rare, I don’t even have one in my own collection that, otherwise, features most things from 1978 onwards (the ‘mythical’ Adidas ’80-’81 aside).

Indeed, it came second in my all time ‘top ten’ of the Bees home shirts. As was noted at the time, that one was “The Marmite of Brentford shirts. To some, an abhoration. To others (well, me) it’s brilliant”.

Would we have the guts to go this radical? Would fans warm to it? I may be shooting in the dark but it would be interesting to know.

Either way, it’s a lot better than speculating about who might be sneaking out of that window by Monday.

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Osca 83-84. Loved the shirt – not so keen on the shorts.

Nick Bruzon

Video killed the radio story. Or did it? (and Rams raider strikes again)

26 Oct

There’ll be plenty of time this week for us Brentford fans to look ahead to the next game, where a win on Friday night will see us within four points of the play offs and potentially as high as eighth in the Championship table. First though, the last of the weekend round up following the win over Charlton where, amongst other things, the Derby County Wikipedia saboteur seems to have struck again – this after Newcastle United were humped by Sunderland – and the phrase ‘Jimmy Hill’ was amongst those heard coming from AFC Bournemouth in the aftermath of their 5-1 shocker at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

After spending the vast majority of the Championship campaign TOTL (Top of the League), Bournemouth are rapidly heading back towards the BOTL. Ten goals ‘against’ in their last two fixtures isn’t great form but, probably, the least of their worries on Monday morning. Social media was ablaze with the story of how the phrase, ”F**king hell, it was like men against boys” was heard coming from the Public Address system during the Cherries 5-1 home defeat to Spurs.

It’s a problem us Brentford fans can only aspire to. Not so much the heavy defeat in the Premier League (they made it there last season, we didn’t quite manage it) but simply being able to hear something over the P.A. Whilst Bournemouth have, according to the BBC, begun investigating the incident, one Spurs fan has already come forward with his own explanation and taken ‘ownership’. All in the interest of saving the Bournemouth P.A. team a sacking and not at all to promote his own YouTube channel.

A Spurs fan by the name of Barnaby claims that it was actually he who uttered the fateful phrase, whilst preparing a post match article for his @spurredontv fansite, giving the explanation, “Basically what had happened was, when I turned the radio mic on, the frequency must have accidentally been the same as the Bournemouth tannoy and apparently the whole of the Bournemouth stadium heard me say, ‘F**king hell, it was like men against boys’

Potty mouthed Barnaby

Potty mouthed Barnaby

Several things don’t quite add up about this story, at least to the layman like myself. Primarily, the remarkable chain of coincidence needed to make it happen. Just look at the facts, as presented:

A random punter is able to accidentally tune his radio mic into the exact same frequency as that of the stadium he is visiting. Then, for just exactly long enough to swear down the line, insulting the home team, before ending his conversation. A conversation he had no idea was being played out live.

The ability for a stranger to tune a radio mic into the exact same frequency as that of a football stadium at the exact same time he was speaking that exact three second sentence is a concept I’m struggling to grasp. It’s hard enough to get a decent phone reception inside most sporting arenas, let alone anything achieve more complex.

Draw your own conclusions. Did Barnaby do it? Was it really an amazing accident? Is he taking the credit for a genuine foul up by the Bournemouth P.A. team? Or was it the caretaker wearing a rubber mask, trying to scare everybody away so he could recover civil war gold at his leisure?

Perhaps it is best we don’t know. Barnaby gets the publicity, Bournemouth are spared any (off pitch) embarrassment whilst we’ve all had a good laugh. And for those yet to see it, here’s the explanation….

Barnaby talks ‘tannoys’. Other forms of public address system are also available.

As for Steve McClaren, the former Derby County manager has seen his share of troubles at struggling Newcastle United this season. Those were only compounded on Sunday as his team went down 3-0 at Sunderland in the Wear-Tyne derby. Not so much in the defeat or his side being firmly rooted in the relegation zone but, simply, due to another appearance from the Rams’ Wikipedia phantom.

We’ve already looked at some of his or her recent efforts last week, as Nottingham Forest and striker Chris Martin were both touched by the hand of this cyber Banksy. Now it is the turn of former Derby boss, McClaren.

Going down 3-0 to your rivals is bad enough, without further having your nose rubbed in it via the medium of the World Wide Interweb.

McClaren's team are 'owned'

McClaren’s current team are ‘owned’

Three strikes in less than a week. This is now looking beyond coincidence. To date nobody knows who is doing this, at least publicly.

Could it be time for Barnaby to step forward?

Nick Bruzon

Is this our toughest challenge yet?

2 Oct

As next challenges go, Brentford aren’t going to have it much harder than a trip to Derby County on Saturday. With the Rams finally hitting form after picking up four points from their first five games, three wins and a draw have seen them climb up the table to within a point of third place. It is more reminiscent of the form that saw them reach the play off final before being mugged by QPR and then doing everything to get there last season – certainly until they hit the self-destruct button in that final home game of the season against Reading.

Oh to have those sort of ‘problems’ now. Whilst Brentford, of course, went one better than Derby and actually reached the semi-finals for the annual choke off at the W place, it would be fair to say that we are yet to recapture the sort of form that saw Mark Warburton fall just a few games short of taking us into the Premier League and give us one of the most exciting seasons since records began.

That was then. This is now. Whilst the season is by no means a write off, there is still a huge cloud of confusion over just what is happening at Griffin Park. The GPG is currently busier than Keith Stroud with card in each hand as Bees fanatics attempt to process / fathom everything from this week.

Keith Stroud - a busy little man

Keith Stroud – always a  busy man

Namely, head coach Marinus Dijkhuizen being dismissed just eight league games into our new ‘stat based’ regime, and then being replaced by Lee Carsley who has since gone on record as saying, “I did not ask to be a football manager and it certainly wasn’t something I put my hand up for. I don’t want the job permanently,” and… “”I’ve never had that burning ambition to be a manager. I want to be a coach and bring on the young players”.

This, on top of a curious brand of football that has seen us dominating possession – namely by passing the ball sideways and backwards through the final third – but when we choose to go forward then having all the cutting edge of an arthritic pensioner armed with a pair of children’s plastic safety scissors.

Injuries haven’t helped of course, but are they entirely to blame? The anti-performance on Tuesday night against Birmingham City was soul destroying. Here was the perfect chance to show a bit of bouncebackability. Instead, we put in a lethargic effort that was an insult to the word effort.

But if Tuesday was tough, Derby on Saturday is going to be all the harder. Being quite honest, Birmingham weren’t actually that good. Something which makes our 2-0 defeat all the more bitter a pill to swallow. County, on the other hand, are at home and on form.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d LOVE to be proven wrong and I’m desperate to see our boys start to climb the table. We can’t expect to win every game and this isn’t a case of unreasonable expectation based on the last few seasons. Frankly, I’m still amazed by how far we’ve come in the last five years whilst the last campaign set a stunningly high bar.

That said, with the players and set up we have, is it too much to ask for a bit of passion? At the moment I’d settle for a fit squad that just try to find the way to goal.

Does anybody know the way to goal ?

Does anybody know the way to goal ?

The Beesotted crew have got it bang on the money in their latest article. If you haven’t seen this yet, then do take a look. They’ve hit the nail right on the head with this one – quite possibly the blog column of the year.

Besides, it could be worse. Following his dismissal from Newport County, Terry Butcher has now joined Steve Evans on the search for a new managerial role.

Be careful what you wish for….

Nick Bruzon