Tag Archives: Rasmus Ankersen

Dear Phil, Cliff, Rasmus, Mark, Dean and BIAS…..

6 Sep

Wednesday morning. The internationals are done. The dust has settled on a transfer window that saw Brentford lose several B team players aswell as selling three of our crown jewels to Birmingham City. Likewise, picking up the likes of Neal Maupay, Kamo, Ollie Watkins and Henrik Dalsgaard (amongst others) earlier in the summer. We are all now well acclimatised to the fact that Lionel Road plans have been changed. Having had time to consider it all, are you happy with it all? Are Brentford well placed for the future? Is there anything you’d like to know ?

Well, as is now traditional, the club have announced a fan forum will take place this Thursday in The Hive from 7.00pm – 8.30pm. This is your chance to put any questions to a panel consisting of : Chairman Cliff Crown, Co-Directors of Football Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen, Chief Executive Mark Devlin and Head Coach Dean Smith.

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The forum has always had a strong panel

However much one can question some of the short term communication methods of the club (and I have previously), there’s no denial that the willingness to subsequently talk to supporters is something that the club embrace. This event has been called at fairly short notice but given the recent flurry of news then no bad thing. As anybody who attended the recent Lionel Road meeting would testify, you may not like everything you hear but you will be given a frank and open assessment of where we are. More importantly to many (myself included), some rationale as to why the club is making the decisions it does.

Personally, I’ve written two quite emotional columns in the last week. The first, in the direct aftermath of the transfer window closing. The second, a few days later once the video from Phil Giles had been released. Between them, they generated over 80 responses on the Last Word blog site alone. There were many more on Twitter and Facebook. That’s probably more in the last five days than the total received in the last five months.

This isn’t me blowing my own trumpet. Far from it. At the end of the day (Clive) I’m just the numpty on the terrace who shouts my mouth off every now and then. Many could relate to what I was saying. Some were scornful. Others read what they wanted to see rather than what had actually been written. All that is fine and fair. Opinion is a wonderful thing.

However, what it does show is how much Brentford fans care when something does happen that impacts us. That we all love this club – whether we feel it is being unjustly criticised or making decisions that, on the surface, seem contrary to what we have been told before or our own footballing progression.

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Jota. It really happened – and fans have been quick to debate

I’ll stick in the usual caveats at this point. That we should never, ever forget rattling buckets. That Matthew Benham has made huge and unprecedented investment in this club. That we all chose to surrender our BU shares in the face of financial oblivion and without that we’d likely have folded.  That we can’t compete financially with the vast majority of our Championship rivals. That it has been made clear Brentford are a selling club and this is our model.

Yet that doesn’t deny anybody the right to ask questions. To look at understanding things which, on the surface, seem at odds with how we see other clubs operate. To seek clarification from our club hierarchy as to things they may have previously said.

And the fact the people closest to Matthew are prepared to put themselves in the firing line is something we should only applaud. The forum has always been a great event although, sadly, one I’m unable to attend this time around due to a longstanding prior commitment that I’ve been unable to weasel out of at this late stage.

Fortunately, the option to position questions in advance is there. If not through official channels (currently, although they do always open this up on the night)  then BIAS are certainly collating these in advance on behalf of fans. As such, if anyone from the club or BIAS is reading then here are a few from myself. If any could be answered that would be hugely appreciated.

1:Norwich City are 4/5 on to beat Birmingham City this weekend (price supplied by club sponsor LeoVegas). Will any of the panel be placing a bet?

2: It is not an option to not be in the Premier League. It has to happen in the next three years…. At the moment there is no Plan B. We’ll be in the Premier League in three years.

Not my words but those of Rasmus Ankersen at the September 2015 forum. That time comes to an end this season. Is it a position the panel stand by or one that perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight, we may wish to reconsider?

3: Is there now a Plan B ?

4: “The goal is to get stronger after each transfer window.

Not my words but those of Rasmus Ankersen at the September 2015 forum. Whilst we have undoubtedly invested in potential the new signings are all that – new.  To lose three such influential and settled players would be a huge blow . Do we honestly feel that the squad is currently stronger ?

5: How is the money spent? The fees for Jota, Hogan, Andre, Maxime and Harlee are believed to be well over £33m. How is this split between the future of the club, paying back Matthew the vast amounts he has invested and ongoing costs?

6: Why don’t the club disclose fees? Instead fans are left (in Phil’s words) ‘deflated’ whilst we have to rely on rumour, gossip and potentially incorrect data. If nothing else, it might give fans a clearer idea of how well we are doing in terms of transfer activity

7: ”Strategically it’s the ideal way to do it. Sell them late and buy them early.”  Not my words but those of Phil Giles. That’s a massive gamble if the appropriate offers don’t come in at the 11th hour. Are we only selling at the end of the window on purpose? Did realistic offers for Max, Harlee, Jota and Scott Hogan come in earlier?

8: Are the panel fans of the current transfer window system?

9: Selling three of our best players to one Championship rival. Was that a strategic decision? Or did leaving things late leave us no choice?

10: Back in September 2015 you sat here and poured forth about how wonderful Marinus was. A head coach who had picked up five points from his first five games. Just a few days later he was gone. Dean’s team currently have two points from our first five games. How do you compare the respective starts and is there any danger of another change ? (for the record, I hope not).

Here’s to this Thursday. For those of you who can make it then enjoy. And for those who can’t, please don’t forget to tweet BIAS should there be anything you wish to ask.

Cliff, Mark, Rasmus, Phil and Dean. Thank you.

Nick Bruzon

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If you promise the earth, then you’d better be able to deliver.

3 Sep

The morning after the morning after the night before. Jota, Harlee and Maxime Colin are still at Birmingham City and have left Brentford. It wasn’t a bad dream. It really happened. There’ll be more than a few eyes on the Championship’s 20th placed team when they visit Norwich City on Saturday. As there will be on the Bees for our own trip to Aston Villa.

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It really happened

So what to make of it having had 48 hours to take it all in? What do we think after Phil Giles has undergone a very gentle probing from Ciaran Brett? That, on a YouTube video that we’re probably all seen already but is further below.

Well, initial feelings from yours truly were of understanding our ‘model’ yet also a feeling of utter deflation at the way it has been implemented this time around. So close to the line of looking like we’d have an incredible squad, this has happened. Feelings of confusion as to how this tallys up to those previously quoted statements that included the proclamation from Rasmus that the goal is to get stronger each transfer window. Feelings that, whilst obvious, it really is just all about the money. I wrote a column about it – you can find it here – which has generated a lot of reaction. It was angry. It was passionate. It was what being a football supporter is all about.

It was packed full of typos. I apologise. Try writing on an iPhone in a Belgian hotel room. But sometimes, thoughts need to be documented. Moments need to be captured and that’s how I was feeling about what happened between Brentford and Birmingham City at that point. I’m certainly not going to apologise for giving a damn about a team I’ve supported since 1979. I know Matthew Benham can’t keep pumping money into the club to prop it up and revenue needs to come from elsewhere. Yet the whole thing felt so cold, so calculated, so businesslike and it hurt. That’s as much from the players.

Reading Jota’s subsequent letter he may aswell have just published a tweet saying ‘Kerchinggg’. “The football industry is a volatile one and I think my departure was the best move for all concerned” he told us in his latest farewell.

Really Jota? Really? I’d rather you hadn’t bothered. You’re just hurting us now. We know how passionate you can be and how much love you have. This is agent speak.  It was as opposite to “This isn’t ‘goodbye’ but more of a ‘see you later’ or ‘hasta luego’ as we say in Spain because I have just extended my contract for an extra year.” as one could imagine.

In time I’ll remember all those wonderful memories. Right now it still all feels too raw. Birmingham City can afford to pay him a reported £40k a week, We can’t. Simple economics and you can’t blame him for taking it. Yet after all the love for the club. All the support offered when we’d supported his loan return to Eibar, something which in his own words at the time, was “based solely on personal circumstances” , there was a thought that perhaps he might sign another year’s extension. Pay back that love and loyalty or even give the Premier League a shot with Brentford.

Yeah, I know. Cloud cuckoo land. I’m a supporter. I care. There’s the obvious mistake. It is based on fantasy rather than the balance sheet. That’s not how football works in the real world. This week has shown us that in spades. Without passion and heart it is nothing more than a money making machine. We emotionally invest in these players, we get their names on our shirts and then they chip off for the next big pay day. That’s football. It happens. It hurts.

But taking 48 hours away from the last column, it has given the club a chance to say a few more things. The video with Phil Giles has been published in which he explains how the reasoning for the sales was to keep the money coming in before contracts expired. That it had always been the plan to buy over the summer and sell just prior to the window closing. “Strategically it’s the ideal way to do it. Sell them late and buy them early.

As noted in that previous column, I know this is how football, especially at Brentford, works. I know we’re all about ’sustainable’. I understand a lot of what Phil, who acknowledged that fans will be deflated by the moves, was trying to say.

But what was as telling as anything else was what the video didn’t say. Whether because Phil wasn’t asked or couldn’t answer.

Fairplay to Ciaran for asking if we were stronger after this window. After a pause, the answer was a less than convincing one. “Well we retain a squad of young players. I don’t see weaknesses in our squad. I don’t see finished players. I see a strong set of B-team players ready to come through. So from that point of view it provides a really good platform. Not just on the pitch but for the sustainability of the club in the future. It’s not an old squad who’s depreciating in value

By which I read it as : No. But hopefully down the line we will be.

Phil spoke about how Harlee had stepped up when number 26 was sold to Burnley. How we’d survived the Scott Hogan sale to Aston Villa. Indeed, we’d immediately gone out and thrashed them.

I’d love to have found out why we chose to sell three players to Birmingham City. What the strategic thinking in strengthening a team that sit just above us in the table was? Or were these simply the best/only offers for the players?

Phil says his piece. Very much like the Curate’s Egg

Reading Maxime Colin’s article in The Birmingham Mail he claimed that there had been offers from France that the club turned down. And he’d been unaware of the wider wheels in motion: “It wasn’t a plan or something prepared in advance….
“It wasn’t something prepared in advance and I wasn’t told about them, especially Jota which I didn’t know until the end”.

You know what? It feels somewhat redundant asking about it now. Phil’s video is quite clear about how we operate. Bring them through, sell them on and pay the wages at the club. That the definition of a post window squad is somewhat of a fluid one, open to interpretation. This is how Brentford FC works.

However, it would be nice to know what our aspirations are. Is Championship survival the way forward? At least until the stadium at Lionel Road is built? If that prediction from Rasmus of being in the Premier League by the end of this campaign is to come true, then selling established, settled players aren’t the actions of a club looking to make that step up. At least in the immediate short term.

I feel for Rasmus. He’s come out with some key mission statements that Brentford fans will not forget. If you promise the earth, then you’d better be able to deliver. Yet there has been no attempt to realign those aspirations. Short of the phrase #bignewambitions being airbrushed from history (and that’s no bad thing in anybody’s eyes). Why not just come out and talk to us? Speak to us openly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. And again. And again.

rasmus-goal-stronger

So here we are. The squad is what the squad is. No amount of wailing or gnashing of teeth will change that. I for one will be 110% behind the players when they run out. As noted on Friday, we have newcomers Kamo, Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins already doing great things. We’ve got Ryan back in the team, the centre back situation is clearer and Romaine Sawyers has come out the blocks flying. The option of Flo Jo and Sergi out wide is a delicious one. Start to get the wins under the belt against Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Reading then this will all be a storm in teacup. Move along, the model works.

Let’s just hope the model doesn’t break….

Oh , and if Norwich City are reading (they aren’t ) you’ve no idea what a boost it would be at Griffin Park if you could please pick up three points next Saturday.

Nick Bruzon

Would the last person to leave turn out the lights. Not even Chelsea have these headaches as Brentford up sticks to Birmingham.

1 Sep

“Most of the big moves expected on transfer deadline day didn’t happen”. Not my words but those of Matt Dyson on the Absolute Radio sportsdesk as he cited the failure of Manchester City to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal and Ross Barkley walking off the treadmill and out of his medical at Chelsea after personal terms and a fee had been agreed. How we laughed. Although not at Brentford where a fire sale has seen Harry Redknapp feasting at the all you can buy buffet. Not one, not two but three of our best players have all been sold to Birmingham City before the transfer window closed last night.

Harlee Dean – sold. To Birmingham City.
Jota – sold. To Birmingham City.
Maxime Colin – sold. To Birmingham City.

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Hola, Harry

With the B-team also stripped back and bids also coming in from the two Sheffield clubs – John Egan, United and Ryan Woods, Wednesday – those players who didn’t receive an offer must be waking up with somewhat of a complex .

With Harry Redknapp charming the pants off this side of West London, I wonder if he didn’t put in a cheeky call to Stamford Bridge. Wantaway star Diego Costa remains a Chelsea player this morning although that remains somewhat of a different problem to that faced in TW8.

And it is a problem. Fans are devastated. We’ve sold big names in the past but never like this. Never en-masse. Never to a divisional rival. A rival who we have finished above the last three seasons. Just look at he respective placings of Birmingham and Brentford before reading all the gumph about the size of the club. Their ambition. Their Premier League potential. Hmmm. Hasn’t worked out too well for Leeds United. As we’ve said many times before, nobody has a divine right to be any good. These are all pure and simple moves for financial gain. Football a secondary consideration. For both clubs and players.

Obvious. I realise. “It’s business” will no doubt be thrown at me. There’ll be talk of ‘sustainable football’ (which seems to be the bingo phrase of choice at present). Talk of this being our model and never standing in the way of a player. Perhaps even talk of further de-risking the Lionel Road project. Only last Saturday Nity Raj went on record at the fan forum as saying:”What we are talking about is a bet on football. It happens to be with Matthew’s money. He’s pretty good at bets on football and in his opinion we have reduced the risk by following this path.”

I’ll also refer you to previous statements to come out of Griffin Park.
Rasmus Ankersen: “the goal is to get stronger after each transfer window.

The same Rasmus who also told supporters in 2015 : “It is not an option to not be in the Premier League. It has to happen in the next three years…. At the moment there is no Plan B. we’ll be in the Premier League in three years.

Chuck #BigNewAmbitions into the mix and I’m struggling to see how all his marries up.

Yes, we’ve bought in advance. The likes of Ollie Watkins and Neal Maupay ooze potential whilst Kamo has won over supporters in his first few games. Yes, we have proven time again that we have a knack for unearthing gems, sometimes even leaving them to fester (see: KK).

Yet these are players who have taken time to bed in. Romaine Sawyers came in for buckets of stick last season. Andreas Bjelland is yet to set the world on fire. Maxime Colin and Yoann Barbet took time to find their feet before becoming nailed on choices. Is it fair to expect the latest raft of new players to hit the ground running?

I know we have financial challenges . I know we are up against it. I know we are a small club, historically. So are the likes of Burnley, Watford and Bournemouth. I know we should never, ever , ever forget rattling buckets. That without Matthew’s money we’d likely be playing Rymans Premier League football. At best. That we’ve always been a selling club and this is our model.

Yet this time it feels so, so different. It feels as though we are a cheap Vegas hooker and Harry Redknapp, some doddery kneed tourist, has gone on holiday with the company credit card. And boy has he filled his boots with no fear of personal liability as he can claim it back on expenses later. (That’s an analogy; I’m not suggesting in any way Harry would act in an untoward manner.)

I really thought this was it. Such a positive summer of acquisition and pre-season form. Finally, the fans had bought into the club model and could see what we were looking to do. We were slowly building a top class squad. One that would finally ally to Rasmus’s Premier League talk. Justify his much mocked quote about getting stronger each window. Prove we really do have big new ambitions.

Boom. Back to square one. We’ve been given these wonderful toys to play with and then had them snatched away. Sorry Nick, Harry Redknapp wants to play with your Star Wars figures. You can have this pile of Lego bricks – see what you can build.

Yet, as ever, we’re struggling to understand the sound bites coming out of Griffin Park. The Rasmus remains in the shadows, Dean Smith has expressed his disappointment whilst Phil Giles has said his piece on ‘official’.

Phil on Jota : “When it becomes clear that a player has outgrown the financial constraints of the Club then it is usually best that they move on for a better contract and for a transfer fee that helps to keep us financially viable in this division.”

Phil on Maxime: “We were aware that Maxime could be a target for other clubs this summer. This is why we made a pro-active decision to bring another right back in earlier in the summer“.

Cold? Realistic? Ok, now to catch breath and attempt a bit of perspective.

Harlee Dean. I’m m’eh about our decision to sell. A great servant and I stand by what I said yesterday. He’s been through it with all of us and was very, very capable at this level. But we have been overloaded at centre back , especially once Andreas returned from injury. Even without a sale, Egan and Barbet would be my absolute nailed on choice for those starting positions. Dean tried to crowbar 3 of his 4 into a starting XI last time out. Hmmm..

Jota. Tears are flowing. And that’s just from reading Sergi’s tweet. All that talk of going to the Premier League. All that talk of the clubs loyalty when he returned to Eibar on loan. A second coming that was bigger than The Stone Roses. And now it is all over. At Birmingham.

Sorry. Birmingham City??!! Historically big club but hardly Premier League. That love letter he wrote fans has been scrunched up and thrown in the bin. No new contract signed and the club cashing in while they still could. Before he walked on a free.

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Nooooo

And in that, it tells you all you need to know about our Premier League ambitions this season. Jota is, sorry was, the most talented of all our players. Probably in the last 70 years. Rather than see if he can help push us up, we’ve sold him on. One football bet the club haven’t been willing to take?

Maxime Colin. This for me being the biggest of all kicks. Why? Why? Why? Contract clause triggered, presumably? A sack of money offered? The untested Dalsgaard already bought in as cover. Phil’s words smacked of a dispassionate approach. Something I hope isn’t the case.

Which brings me onto the same old story. Talk to us. Just talk to us. Cut the sound bites. Cut the crap. Cut the buzzword bingo. Explain your choices. How about, and call me controversial, disclose some transfer fees….

Make us realise why the departure of our heroes makes such sense. Show us the huge profits we have made. Explain how the new look squad will immediately gel and attain those Premier League aspirations. If, indeed, those are our aspirations today.

Sorry. I love this club. Fan since 1979. I know we’ve been poor in the past. I know we’ve been broke. I know we have a remodelled stadium on the horizon. But waking up this morning I feel devastated. I’ve no desire to think about taking my daily walk past Griffin Park.

I can’t, anyway, but that’s not the point. I’m in Belgium, having watched Gibraltar go down 9-0 last night in a game where, but for goalkeeper Ibrahim, it could have been double that. There you go Rasmus, perhaps you could sign him for Daniel Bentley? Have that one on me.

My team got a dicking yesterday. But it wasn’t at the hands of Romelu Lukaku. It was at the hands of Harry Redknapp.

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Lukaku makes it 9 . 4 less than Harry signed

Nick Bruzon

 

Big new ambitions? Or downsizing? What do you make of stadium news?

17 Aug

Thursday morning. We’ve all had time to digest the news out of Griffin Park. Namely that in a week’s time Brentford FC will be presenting plans to Hounslow council for an amendment to our design for Lionel Road  – the key points of which include : a location move (3 metres south),Premier League quality ‘outside broadcast facilities within the stadium itself, the relocation of BFC Community Sports Trust outside the ground and the capacity reduction from 20,000 to 17,250. The target date for all of this is now late 2019 / early 2020.

The statements on the club site and in the programme from Cliff Crown & Mark Devlin have gone on to further elaborate on the reasoning about this in what, I have to be honest (and I’d say this to their face) reads an awful lot like a game of buzzword bingo in places. Especially with regards to the housing element of the project which is so key to making it a success.

That’s marketing speak. We’re always going to get it. What seems to be of as much interest to supporters is what these official statements don’t say about the redesign. The obvious questions that immediately get asked. Moreso when the statement from BIAS and the article on the Beesotted site (who had been given a preview of the plans a week earlier) cut to the heart of so many questions that supporters are asking.

What will it now look like? Why no club shop? Why no central bar areas such as The Hive? What are the Premium seats and why so many? 3000 out of a total capacity of 17250, and that includes away fans. What does that do for us ordinary fans who currently sit on, or around, the halfway line? Can we still afford to in future? Why no monorail?

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Lionel Road. A new look – sans monorail – is coming

They are just a few of the obvious questions and ones which our fan groups quite rightly ask. Read the club statements but please also read these pieces too before you continue. That said, I can’t imagine many supporters are yet to see them.

Or the GPG to which I was also directed yesterday.

Welcome back Trevor; it’s been a while since I darkened your pages. Yet it seems that he has also been granted access to not only the plans but also a chat with Matthew Benham and Cliff Crown where many of these key questions have been both anticipated and which he has attempted to answer. Albeit, and in his words: “I didn’t make any notes of the meeting at the time, so this is a summary of our discussions created a few days later in a old man’s memory”.

I’d suggest you also have a read of this, too. If it as accurate as one would hope (presumably Matthew and Cliff would be at the doors of the GPG with pitchforks, flaming torches and lawyers if they had been misquoted or the article has not been pre-approved) then it presents a lot more clarity around the logic being employed. The reasoning behind certain decisions.

Which brings me to the crux of the matter after all this preamble. We’re talking about a new stadium. Not the end of days. This is a great, great thing.

We all recognise what Matthew Benham has done for the club. The vast investments he has made and the upward trajectory Brentford FC have been on over the last 6 years since he officially took over after our first dealings way back in 2009. Many of us have questioned his ‘mathematical model’ yet, equally, after three years in the Championship the fruits of this are clear for all to see.

He’s a supporter since 1979. He has been ever clear about his vision for sustainable top flight football. Frankly, he’s too far into this to run himself out with a half-baked scheme or an unsustainable one when it comes to stadium design. I can’t imagine any of these are decisions which have been taken lightly but at the end of the day (Clive) these changes would seem to be the compromise that needs to be made in order to deliver the build.

We all love Griffin Park. We all know it’s not fit for long term purpose. Certainly not sustainable Premier League football which is THE ambition for everybody at the club. Back in September 2015  Rasmus Ankersen told supporters at the Fans forum:  “It is not an option to not be in the Premier League. It has to happen in the next three years…. At the moment there is no Plan B. we’ll be in the Premier League in three years.”

That’s only a year away now. Quite frankly, I don’t want to be squatting at Loftus Road. The sooner we are able to take things forward the better.  And on that point, if that was our ambition then why were the much touted Outside Broadcast facilities not part of the original spec? For what it’s worth.

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Griffin Park. Wonderful but not a long term future

Listen. I don’t want this to read as though it has an overly negative tone. Quite the opposite. Football is a hugely emotive thing. It is a part of all our being. Our collective experience. Our lives. Our friends and families have been made here and come here. Supporters are loving the fact that we have a new home on the horizon but, equally, from first impressions it seems that many are worried we’ll lose some of what makes being a Brentford fan unique. That we’ll be priced off our own doorstep.

Trevor’s article suggests we socialise ‘off site’. 3000 premium seats, whilst obviously a revenue winner, are pretty much 20% of the home fans. Will we be able to still be amongst ‘the heart’ of it?

Perhaps we’re lucky that at Griffin Park to sit in that location isn’t vastly prohibitive in terms of cost relative to other areas. Some element of clarity about that aspect – and Mark did note on Saturday that “We have already started planning the sales proves for Season Tickets and Premium seat packages”  – would be wonderful.

I want to keep coming and I will keep coming. I can’t wait to see what our new home looks and feels like. To experience top flight football there.

Let’s be realistic. Whatever our thoughts, nothing is going to change. Not physically. Redesigns are being submitted next week. This is it. Plans will be locked down. You can’t build a stadium based on a vote by committee of thousands. Equally, if it came down to another source would we even be in existence still? Let alone with such a prospect on the horizon?

But by the same virtue, why are we so poor at communications? (football is a village etc) . Why did it take Tom Moore to break the news a week ago? Then nothing be said once that story came out? When you take the forward thinking step of sharing the plans with our supporter groups, the obvious consequence is that they will have the time to digest them and review. To prepare questions. As I’m thankful the club have done and our groups have then reacted.

So why have the club not looked to anticipate some of these? It is clear they have come up in the discussions the club held with the fan groups. Whether as part of Cliff / Mark’s articles or as an additional statement alongside them. Why has it taken Trevor and the GPG (which not all supporters read) to provide undocumented answers?

To say again. This is a great thing that is happening. It seems trite to even consider having the hump over over a new stadium and a plan that is going to get us there. And personally, whilst I can’t get my head around some of the aspects, I don’t. We need a new home.

I don’t expect sales figures. I don’t expect minutiae to be shared in advance. That’s not how you do business. I’m not here to sell the plans to you or tear them down.

But once the news had broken, it would just have been good if we could have had a few more facts about the things that are really going to impact us. Even a picture would have been nice!

A fans forum is planned for next month. Will anything be said in advance? It would be in everyone’s interest if a bit more meat could be put on the bones of these plans. Publish an official statement rather than an article on the GPG.

It’s not every day you move home. It’s not that much to ask. Surely?

Nick Bruzon

Adios Celta. Bring on Sheffield United. Brentford win again.

30 Jul

Brentford 2 Celta Vigo 1 . With our attention split between Griffin Park and Dulwich Hamlet yesterday, those who opted for the First XI over the B-Team were treated to a fine performance. The first half especially, with The Bees dominating last season’s Europa League semi-finalists (as we seem contractually obliged to call them). With the warm up to the Championship now complete, Brentford remain unbeaten heading into those first few games with Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest.

As ever, for your big match reports go to ‘Official’ or the likes of Beesotted and the BBC. I’m just the numpty on the terrace although to my eyes the stand out points were:

Jota. Obviously. Looked wonderful in the rain, something he would later say really assists his game, and scored that delightful free kick from the heart of Saunders territory to double our lead. It was an absolute beauty, curled over the wall and into the net to double our lead before half time.

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Jota does his thing in the rain against Celta Vigo

Serge Canos. Tore Celta apart down the other other flank. Really impressed and just seemed to drift through the Spanish defence at will. Here’s hoping that the injury which caused his first half substitution, and one which Dean Smith would later describe as the player having ‘rolled his ankle’ is a mild one rather than something which will preclude him from the game at Sheffield United.

Kamo Mokotjo. Have we already picked up the bargain of the season in the South African international? Early days, obviously, but how comfortable does he look on the ball? How strong taking it forward? How effortless in holding things up when the opposition were in control ?

The watching Rasmus Ankersen must have been very pleased with this particular member of the summer talent pool. The recruitment team have been very vocal over the close(d) season and this is why.

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Rasmus. Summer chic despite the English weather

The first half. Brentford were in complete control. Waltzing through defenders and passing it beautifully. Credit to Josh McEachran, too, as he was able to break further forward than the normal ten yard radius around the centre spot he so often seems tethered to. His pass to free Lasse Vibe for the opener being a particularly exquisite one although Jota was also the beneficiary of one delightful cross field ball. Celta didn’t get close to us.

The second half. Why do we switch off? Was it a case of taking the foot off the gas or had Celta been given the proverbial rocket? Certainly, they stepped up their performance and made a much closer game of things. 2-1 being about the right result on the balance of play although how many times did we see last season that balance of play, possession and shots on target count for nothing? It’s only the ‘goals scored’ column that is of ultimate interest and so form that respect, great job from Dean Smith and the boys.

Peter Gilham. As with Southampton he was in top form on the microphone. Performing his public address duties in that wonderful style we know and love him for, he seemed in fine fettle. At one point reeling off a good half dozen Celta substitutions before concluding in his customary deadpan, “And if that’s wrong, don’t blame me.

The only down side to his/our afternoon was, as with Southampton, the axing of Siracusa (Its a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford Lock) from the goal scoring announcements. What had become a wonderfully kitsch part of the goal scoring routine has now been replaced by something infinitely corporate – LeoVegas taking on a much more sterile role in proceedings. That’s progress and money, I suppose. RIP Siracusa, the restaurant may still be there but your announcements are not forgotten.

The Celta Vigo fans. That was dedication from a small group who were in wonderful voice. Especially in The Griffin at full time. A beautiful shirt, too. Where can I get one? Although ours looked equally resplendent, nowhere moreso than in the club shop which is now fully stocked with the new home, away and GK variants.

As for Sheffield United, Dean was quoted on official at full time saying that he doesn’t know his starting 11 at the moment :

“I don’t know the 11 at the moment,” said Dean. “That will start coming to me on Monday or Tuesday when we start building for the game.

For me, I’m expecting the return of Maxime Colin at right back after he missed this one for quite a special reason….

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Injury to Canos aside (where Flo Jo will come in should the ankle prove problematic) the only question is whether Ryan Woods is able to oust Kamo or Josh from midfield. The former is surely nailed on yet the possibility of starting without our player’s player of the year seems an unthinkable one . Who’d be a manager?

And finally, yesterday’s column referenced the mid 90’s Brentford song, Saturday Afternoon Red Army. Specifically, who had sung this? Of course it was Robb Johnson (many thanks for the reminders) and it is one you can hear on Spotify now. Or for posterity, buy the ‘live’ version from Amazon.

With Nottingham Forest at Griffin Park in less than two weeks, I have no doubt #BeeThe DJ will return. It might be time for yours truly to replace perennial choice ‘Down, Down’ by The Quo with a new selection.

If Siracusa can be given the boot, then maybe its time to say adios to The Quo. For a while…

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Nick Bruzon

If Carlsberg did Twitter. New signing and backfiring bet see media team attain greatness.

19 Jul

Brentford travel to Oxford United for the latest stage in our pre-season programme, buzzing from the news that the much touted transfer of Ollie Watkins from Exeter City has been completed. Becoming our eighth signing of the summer, the conclusion of this move has seen two wonderful bits of social media (three if you count our own lack of hashtag / signing video when the news was announced). The first could leave one Bees supporter very much out of pocket whilst the second threatens to catapult a Nottingham Forest fan into Simon Hateley territory (he of Aston Villa infamy).

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Ollie Watkins joins. Its all very red

First, Ollie himself. What can you say? The Hoff may have departed over the summer but he has been replaced up top by first Neal Maupay and now the EFL young player of the year. The club were understandably excited about the news with Phil Giles telling official We first made an offer for Ollie 12 months ago, and again last January, so I am glad that we were finally able to sign him this time around”.

But it was on Twitter where the real story was beginning to unfold. Andy Scott joined Phil in celebrating the news about the Exeter man joining us, noting on the football front that it has been “A huge team effort from everybody involved” and that “patience is a virtue!” before going on to note that Ollie is “part of the family now!”.

Judging by the picture of his agent, its probably not the first time he’s heard that phrase. I’m sure he’s a lovely guy and all that but I for one wouldn’t want to cross him, going on this photo. That’s one intense look.

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Ollie and his agent. Was a horse’s head involved in transfer negotiations?

Spare a thought too for Brentford fan Josh Mahoney who is currently in the chair for a £2.5K bar bill following a tweet published last week, where he laid down a gauntlet which has come back to bite him firmly on the behind:

Can’t see us signing Ollie Watkins, if we do I’ll buy everyone who likes this a drink this season.

Yet it was the comeback from official which inspired what one supporter has described to me as “The greatest thing that media team have ever done”.

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Chris, Sean and Ciaran most definitely first up at the bar

What? This is brilliant. This is genuinely funny. Is this the same media team that has previously brought us ‘The Obama meme’,  #TrophyFriends and #Novemberkings? Whatever wind of change has blown through Chris Wickham’s department you can only doff your cap. First, no hashtag or gimmick to announce Ollie had joined from Exeter (take a leaf, Aston Villa with your fake Whatsapps and #WelcomeJT). Now, a genuine joke. And a great one. Not withstanding their choice of drink.

Andy was on fine form too, showing just what happens when you cross swords with Scott, Giles and Ankersen (not a law firm or 70s folk group).

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But it wasn’t just Josh who was left eating his words.

Up at the City Ground, Nottingham Forest fan ‘Redman’ may be regretting his own boast. Whilst not in Hateley territory (yet), this has somewhat backfired.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 05.59.07As at the time of writing (6.00am, Wednesday morning) we’re still waiting for banter to commence. Very much a case of tumbleweed and radio silence. Ironically, something matched by Forest fan Matt Dyson – the avocado loving sports presenter on Christian O’Connell’s Absolute Radio breakfast show. His bulletins failing to mention what was the day’s big transfer story.

The other question to come out of this is how we pay for the summer’s transfer activity and changes to the wage bill? Moreso to remain FFP compliant. Of course, the fees paid for our new signings are undisclosed, we have a new sponsorship deal and are about to begin our fourth season in the Championship. Yet with previous seasons seeing outward activity as well as inward, the big fear remains that we’ll be saying ‘adios’ to Jota.

Burnley are the latest club to join the rumour mill (although I’m still laughing at the thought he’d go to the likes of Derby County or the aforementioned Forest, despite their Assombalonga windfall) despite there being no further news following Dean’s talk 12 days ago about an imminent big bid coming in.

So what happens at the Kassam tonight could be telling. Of course, Dean has already said that if a bid fails to materialise then Jota “will be available for the Oxford United game”. Playing won’t be a guarantee he’ll be with us for the big kick off but any absence from the starting XI will be an enormous sign.

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Faster than a speeding bullet – is the Spanish superman leaving Griffin Park ?

I’m not stupid (completely). We all know how good Jota is. We all know his contract is running out so we could lose a £10million player for nothing. We all know our own model. We all know we’ve sold and still thrived before. Yet, the footballing romantic in me is desperate for him to stay. The last five years have been SO exciting. With a wonderful spine to this team and an ever evolving squad, he really could be the final piece in a promotion gamble.

I’ve called top six already. Given our experience and starting XI this is more than feasible. With Jota in the team, the chances can only improve.

That may well be a decision that is already out of our hands. A decision that has already been made. One thing’s for sure, the Brentford family will be taking a very keen interest in tonight’s team sheet when that one is published.

For now, though, let’s focus on the uber-positive. Jota is a bee and we’ve made another wonderful purchase. Our media team have developed a genuine sense of humour and we’ve not sold any fan favourites.

On a day that sees us looking at how football and Twitter work hand in hand, what better way to end than with another observation from the social media platform. Ian Westbrook distilling it all into one tweet.

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Nick Bruzon

Who spent Saturday wandering around Griffin Park? Who spent Sunday in pole position at the EFL cup final?

27 Feb

Well that was some weekend. A 4-2 win for Brentford over Rotherham United will never be remembered as the classic that the scoreline suggests. That said, it will be remembered for the unadulterated excitement of seeing Jota wrap up his first hat-trick for the Bees. Yet with a lazy Sunday beckoning for the Griffin Park faithful and a chance for us all to recover from Saturday’s exertions, the Manchester United – Southampton EFL final at the W place in North London saw one of our number still hard at work.

First up though, the rest of the weekend round up from Griffin Park. Sitting where we do just below the director’s box, it really is the perfect place for seeing the great and the good from the world of football. And with Rotherham United in town, surely this would be the perfect place for spotting a Chuckle Brother or two?

Sadly, neither Paul of Barry were present. Or, if they were, they were maintaining a very low profile. Instead of the Chuckle Brothers, we had to be content with Rasmus putting in an appearance ‘upstairs’ and a rare pre-match sortie along the Braemar Road touchline from Dean Smith. Likewise, suspended Harlee Dean spent the day wandering around Griffin Park.

A prematch appearance in the club shop was followed by a similar touchline stroll to Dean aswell as then being spotted, twice, doing his thing on the forecourt at half time. It speaks volumes about our club that the manager (head coach) and captain can still walk around so easily, albeit happy to stop for autographs and photos, without being harangued by baying masses.

As my own guest for the day, Cousin Charles (and those who know of his ‘connections’ and win ratio should be chaining him to the terrace) would later note – Imagine that happening at Manchester United or Chelsea. There’d be mayhem.

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Harlee looking up at the Director’s box before kick off. A fan of the Chuckle Brothers?

Instead, its just Brentford. We know our players. We’ve all met them and, with the tight environs of Griffin Park being what they are, it is the most natural thing in the world to see them up close and personal. Long may this continue. Long may the likes of Dean Smith and Harlee Dean feel comfortable enough to walk around in such close proximity to the supporters.Long may they both be as personable and friendly as they were on Saturday.

But if Dean and Harlee were spotted somewhat out of context, it was nothing compared to Cliff Crown on Sunday. Having been afforded the rare privilege of being allowed to watch an entire football match undisturbed after a roast beef lunch, yours truly took full advantage and wasn’t let down by the EFL Cup final .

Whatever your thoughts on the tournament itself, the game between Manchester United and Southampton was a stone cold classic. United being somewhat fortunate to come away with a 3-2 win that left the neutrals purring and Fantasy Football managers up and down the land crowbarring Manolo Gabbiadini into their teams.

But with United victorious and Wayne Rooney, who hadn’t even made it off the subs bench, kitted up and preparing to lift the trophy John Terry style, there was a surprise in store. Was that Cliff Crown in the royal box? The Brentford chairman? Sure enough, and with apologies for ruining the moment of the Southampton players receiving their runner’s up medals, a double take on the ‘rewind’ button confirmed the very same.

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Cliff and Brentford jacket on full display

Even better, he’d gone in there with his Brentford colours on full display. Awesome stuff, Cliff. We may have missed the Chuckle Brothers in the Griffin Park box on Saturday but this more than made up for it the next day.

Brentford at Wembley. Who’d have thought it possible this season? Here’s hoping that next year we get a chance to do it for real.

Nick Bruzon

If Sunday was brilliant (and it was) Tom’s tweet was anything but

7 Feb

We’ve spoken about the good stuff from the weekend already . Brentford were desperately unlucky not to take all three points at home to Brighton in a performance that gave huge cause for optimism. Six goals and four points since the day Scott Hogan was sold to Aston Villa, Jota destroying all comers on the right, Sergi Canos back in the team and Harlee Dean looking as though he could go on and play for England, such has been the enormity of his performances as part of a reintroduced back four. Dean Smith has finally shuffled his pack and the result has been some mouth watering football.

This is all good, very good. A fourth season in the Championship awaits and our sights must now be on a top ten finish. All this, of course, before the likes of Alan Judge, Rico Henry and the returning Lewis Macleod have even set foot in the team.

Yet one thing is still bugging me from the Brighton game. A post match tweet from Tom Field that really took the sparkle off a near perfect performance for Brentford (the final twelve seconds aside) .

Ordinarily these things contain such anodyne statements as ‘unlucky out there today’ , ‘apologies to those who travelled’ or the dreaded ‘we go again’. And that’s when we lose. Victory is the cue for outpourings of positivity from players and supporters alike. Heroic performances, such as on Sunday, likewise. So what on earth prompted this?

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How could anybody come out of Griffin Park and give abuse to one of our own players?  A player who has been nothing but incredible from his home debut, chucked into the lion’s den of a West London derby at home to Fulham. A West London derby in which he kept a clean sheet and was instrumental in two of the three goals Brentford scored.

Tom has barely put a foot wrong since that moment and has made the left back position his own this season, despite his tender years. He’s a player who, if we’re being honest, not many people had even heard of when he was thrust from the youth team to the first team name for that 11th hour debut.

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Academy graduate Tom Field made a wonderful debut against Fulham

Keeping Anthony Knockaert in his back pocket was no mean feat at the weekend, either. Tom really has been one of the bright lights in a season that, if we’re being equally honest, has been a somewhat up and down one for the Bees.

Players have off days. They don’t get abused. Yet Tom had a great game on Sunday. They all did. So what on earth would cause a handful of numpties to decide this was an appropriate means of marking a wonderful performance by Brentford? What amount of prematch WKD blue consumption could legislate for slagging off one of your own players after this incredible game? Were they just Brighton fans in disguise?

Whatever the reason, I really hope these morons have had a long hard look at themselves since. And yes – if this is a bit patronising then so what. Frankly, Tom deserves better from our fans. Much, much better. Thankfully, just about everybody else is in agreement . Replies to ‘that tweet’ have been unanimous in their opinion and support.

I’m hoping Tom realises this and appreciates just how much the fans are loving what he does out there. We all have a moan from time to time. Whether about certain players , the manager, the directors of football, stats etc. I’m surprised Rasmus doesn’t bring an umbrella to games (when he is here) such are the voluminous amount of comments aimed in his direction at times.

That’s part of football and is often justified. But not this time. It was something as bizarre as it was incorrect .

Tom, if you are reading, just know that everybody at Griffin Park has your back. Keep up the great work. Keep on doing what you do. Keep on accelerating your growth as you are and, surely, one day it won’t just be Harlee we might see in an England shirt.

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Nick Bruzon

Enough of this West Ham nonsense. Bees need to focus on Chelsea

25 Jan

Brentford, of course, are due to visit Premier League leaders Chelsea on Saturday (and how often can you say that?) as the Bees continue their FA Cup campaign with a fourth round tie (and how often can you say that?). Yet at what should be a time of maximum excitement, I still can’t help but feel distracted by the ongoing Scott Hogan stories. West Ham? Watford? Other? Nowhere?

With the transfer window due to slam shut(tm) in less than a week, where will Scott be in 7(seven) days time? And will he even feature on Saturday as we look to take a step closer to the W place in North London?

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Another Wembley dream continues this Saturday

To be quite honest, I’m getting royally cheesed off with all of this now. West Ham are in pole position yet, in what would seem to be a display of arch-hypocrisy given their (understandable) stance over Dimitri Payet, we are no further on as Brentford’s valuation is yet to be met.

The Bees have made no secret of the fact that every player has a value – meet it and we’ll sell. Don’t and he’s ours. And, as such, should be playing against Chelsea on Saturday.

But he won’t. Everybody will be left sitting in limbo as West Ham dither and hamstrings will likely tighten once more. Scott failed to make it off the bench against Newcastle United and wasn’t even named in the 18 for the debacle at Wigan Athletic on Saturday. It was a decision that left Phil Giles fuming, livid and raging after agents had advised him of the potential riches elsewhere. With stories emerging yesterday of the 5% of any transfer he’ll earn as signing on bonus, what man wouldn’t have his head turned by that sort of cash?

Everybody will be left sitting in limbo as the Bees will be unable to finalise any potential incoming transfer plans. On January 3rd Phil’s fellow co-director, Rasmus Ankersen, confirmed that Brentford related transfer news was ‘in progress’ yet, three weeks later there’s only tumbleweed blowing across the Griffin Park forecourt.

To be fair to Rasmus, he didn’t say in which direction. This could simply have been an oblique reference to outward activity and he was giving us all an exclusive on Scott’s departure.

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Progress, apparently, still ,erm, in progress

I don’t envy anybody involved in this situation. Whilst, normally, summer is the time for our main transfer movements to lose a player of Scott’s calibre half way through the season would impact any team. Likewise, one would presume that some sort of replacement would need to come in immediately. Whilst promotion is now a pipe dream and relegation is surely too extreme to consider, complacency is the mother of all fu@k ups. More importantly though, we’ve got a cup run to try and focus on. Starting with the small matter of Chelsea away.

The image of Harlee Dean lifting that trophy on 7th May is one I still have in my mind’s eye. Could it happen? Well, the bookies have us at anything form 12-1 to 18-1. And that’s just to beat Chelsea. But this is the FA Cup where anything is possible. Our hosts have come unstuck in the past whilst the trophy remains synonymous with the words ‘shock’ and ‘upset’ – to this day

That said, things would be a lot easier if we know exactly who is in our squad. Preferably, that includes Scott Hogan. Realistically, I’ve already said goodbye.

Let’s just get this done so as we can focus on the football.

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Will cup romance be limited to dreams of Buzzette?

Nick Bruzon

Not quite a sick relative as agents play dirty, West Ham beckon and furious Phil rages.

22 Jan

Brentford lost at Wigan Athletic on Saturday. 2-1. The video highlights are here. The BBC, official etc have the match reports of what Dean Smith would subsequently describe as a  ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ performance after running Newcastle so close 7(seven) days earlier. Yet it was the talk surrounding Scott Hogan and his on/off move to West Ham that reached a new level after the game as the Wigan result played very much second fiddle in the post match talking points.

It’s an unchanged starting XI for The Bees this afternoon at the DW Stadium” declared Brentford official on Twitter as the team was announced prior to kick off. What they didn’t make any reference to was the changed bench as Scott Hogan hadn’t even made it into the match day 18.

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Unchanged. Kind of…

Another minor injury? Was he being protected ahead of the Chelsea game? Was he on strike in an attempt to force through a move? Or had one of his relatives been feeling unwell?

As it transpired afterwards it was none of these with Dean Smith revealing that the player had a ‘tight hamstring’ and ‘felt it would be a risk to play‘ after being seduced by talk from agents. Dean telling BBC sport that with what he’s been told is on offer for him, it’s very hard for him to go out and play.

With what he’s been told is on offer for him, it’s very hard for him to go out and play,” Dean told BBC Sport in an interview you can hear here.

But it was West London’s Premier Journalist, Tom Moore, who threatened to blow the lid off what was going on behind the scenes. “Just spoken to a livid Phil Giles. Explosive Scott Hogan update coming”, said his Twitter thirty minutes after full time.

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Not my words but those etc etc

We had to wait a further five hours before the big reveal where, it was fair to say, that our co-director of football was threatening to do his own David Banner impersonation. Clearly, he wasn’t happy about agents circling. Phil – welcome to the world of the humble supporter,

The story, which you can find here, contains three counts of livid, two furious, three variants of rage and four no criticism of Scott. The meat of the subject matter being what we’d all suspected – that agents are whispering sweet nothings into his ear about what he could be earning at West Ham and, as such, it is affecting a player who wants to compete but is distracted.

Interestingly, despite an approach that Phil describes as “Completely illegal” the club will not be making a complaint to the FA. This, for me, is the oddest part of a story which has been played out very much in the public eye. A story which has had more leaks than the Titanic. If we are that convinced then why are we taking no action?

Indeed, both Dean and Phil have gone out of their way to defend the player. This, the complete opposite stance to when James Tarkowski refused to play against Burnley ahead of his move to Turf Moor. At the time, the club put out an immediate statement saying how the player had declared himself unavailable after being selected and “as a result of these actions he will be disciplined by the club”, later adding that, “the club will make no further comment on potential punishment.

Whilst Tarkowski would later cite a sick mother as the reason for refusing to play against a team he was looking to move to, this time the justification is an apparent minor injury. Presumably our medical team were in agreement with this? Or is it just an excuse to avoid us getting backed further into a corner with one of our biggest games of the season a week away?

As Phil notes in Tom’s article : “The whole thing is ridiculous. We’re looking ahead to next week – what are we going to do then? We want to pick our best players. We’re paying our best players to play a big game.

Will Scott feature if he hasn’t been sold? Will he want to? Will that hamstring ‘injury’ have cleared up?

One thing is for sure. I can’t imagine this ending cleanly unless diplomacy of an ambassadorial level takes place. And fast. But that’s now living in cloud cuckoo land.

Matthew Benham confirmed last week “I’m holding out” so if West Ham refuse to stump up to our valuation, then things could get very awkward. The club clearly aren’t going be held to ransom whilst Scott’s immediate focus would seem to be elsewhere.

This is lose-lose for everybody at present, with the clock ticking on time for Brentford to get a replacement in should the sale go through. Unless, of course, the plan is to see the season through with The Hoff and Lasse as our choices up top.

Either way, the sooner this ends the better. And if for no other reason than Phil’s blood pressure. The said, how nice to hear him displaying such passion and anger in public.

Now let’s hope it can be channelled for the greater good.

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Scenes unlikley to be repeated ?

Nick Bruzon