Tag Archives: Rasmus

Time to stand up and be counted. This is huge.

13 Apr

The weekend is almost here. Friday morning is upon us, meaning just one more sleep until Brentford travel to Fulham. One more sleep until The Bees have the chance to continue the push for the play offs against second placed Fulham. With the gap between the top two teams 11 points, should the Cottagers fail to win then Wolves will be crowned League champions. Otherwise, they’ll need to wait until Sunday and their own game with Birmingham City. With Barnsley hosting Bolton, the pressure at the basement end of the table is only sure to get even bigger. What a weekend awaits.

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Another trip to The Cottage awaits

Elsewhere, I’ll need to direct you to a story on the Telegraph website and then a subsequent petition. It is a story that given both our own ground development at Lionel Road and great away following, is of supreme relevance. Moreso given our predilection to stand up at football – whether on the road or in our current Griffin Park home.

First up, Fulham. Putting to one side a £35 ticket price that is approaching Leeds United levels of mickey taking – something even more shocking given the game is on TV – this one is huge. There’s so much riding on this. For Brentford, the chance to keep our play-off push alive. Three successive 1-0 wins, despite the absence of talismanic midfielder Ryan Woods, have seen us move to within just four points of fifth place with Derby County having blown one of their two games in hand.

There’s also the chance to continue a fine recent run against a Fulham side who have only beaten us once in 7 (seven) games since our paths crossed in the Championship. From Jota in the last minute back in 2014, through that season’s 4-1 destruction at the Cottage all the way up to this campaign’s 3-1 home win it would be fair to say that Brentford have had the upper hand. The only blot on the copy book being a November 2016 win at Griffin Park for, what needs to be acknowledged, was a very impressive looking outfit.

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Gone. But not forgotten.

But what a time it would be to notch another three points on the bed post. The previous encounters have all had that huge emotional significance, of course. You can’t beat the passion of a West London derby – even if one part of it is taking place in the neutral stand, with clappers and behind the Gin bar. This one, of course, will have all of that but it will have more. Much more.

A Fulham side packed with some homegrown talent and clever use of the loan system have been relentless in their pursuit of automatic promotion. Slowly that gap has been reeled in until last weekend they made it. They’d hit the top two positions. How delicious would it be to push them back out whilst continuing our own climb. You couldn’t have written a better script in the build-up to this one.

For Brentford, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. We’ve played with freedom and talent as our team has come together following the early season stumbles and triple transfer swoop by Birmingham City. Yet, perhaps as much motivated by ‘that’ ten times better  claim, the fans and the squad have been galvanised. We’ve been loud, proud and kept on churning out the results. Now, we are on the threshold of magnificence. More importantly, we are on the threshold of that bold predicton from Rasmus Ankersen coming to fruition.

I’ve mentioned this a lot on these pages but they are words that I’ve never forgotten. Back in Spetember 2015 he told supporters, “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.

They are words that have been hard to swallow at times. I’m the first to admit that. Yet, at the same time, they are THE marker post. That three year period comes to an end with the conclusion of this campaign. For all that some supporters have struggled to get used to our new set up at Griffin Park. For all that even I’ve had my doubts a t times. For all that we’ve seen a whole host of huge names sold for vast sums of money. For all of this we’re still going. For all of this we ARE in with a chance.

The absolute inner belief in this club is that Brentford are a Premier League Club. I know this for fact. Just speaking to our senior figures  – as anybody can do; they are always very accessible – you can feel the confidence and the self-assurance of the journey we are on. There is no doubt in which direction this club is heading. How incredible would it be to take that next step at Craven Cottage? See you there.

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Get it right and Rasmus really will have his face on a scarf. Half and half or otherwise

Could I also crave your indulgence to take a look at both the aforementioned Telegraph story and then ask, if you feel it appropriate, you sign the ‘safe standing’ petition. We all know what happened in the past but football has moved on so much since then. We all know football supporters still stand – it is as much part of just trying to see the game at times Yet our own Sports’ minister seems to have her head in the sand as to what supports want and to what advice she is being given.

The Telegraph quotes her as saying “The answer to dealing with persistent standing is not necessarily to introduce safe standing….There are regulations to deal with persistent standing – I would like to see them enforced.

What is the answer? To continue with the successful standing zones introduced at the likes of Celtic and several Bundelsiga clubs? Or encourage stewards to take an even tougher stance at physical enforcement? Kick supporters out of the ground?

It’s your shout. But the petition link is here if it is something you feel you need to make a stand about.

Many thanks

Nick Bruzon

Is this the future ? Next season’s ‘must start’ player, ‘must have’ fashion item and big ticket.

23 Mar

Take a couple of days away from the blog and it all happens. Despite international break meaning the visit of Sheffield United is still a week away, Brentford fans have been kept well on our toes with a surfeit of good news. The interview conducted by the GPG with Matthew Benham has been published. Season ticket prices for 2018/19 have been revealed. Chris Mepham has made his international debut for Wales whilst Andreas Bjelland’s Panini incarnation for Denmark in the 2018 World Cup has been released to the world (thanks to Beesotted for spotting that one).

Chris does his thing. What a man !

First up, the GPG and Matthew Benham. Whilst he may not say much publically, when Matthew does give these sort of interviews they are well worth a read. This one is no different. I’m sure we’ve all seen it already although if you’ve missed it then it’s here.

Another very personal piece about his thoughts, hopes, investment (which is now up to £106million. One. Hundred. And six. Million. Pounds) and the future of the club amongst other varied topics. I’m not going to regurgitate it here, suffice to say this is well, well worth a read and so good job all round to the GPG readership and production team on this one. When Matthew speaks, it’s definitely worth listening.

The one point I did want to dwell on was in regards to his thoughts for a potential April Fools joke. Per the interview, at one point Matthew considered Rasmus would have appeared modelling the new look third and third scarves (Brentford, Fulham and QPR). The associated blub from Rasmus would, in Matthew’s words “Use loads of marketing speak and say like “this ticks a lot of boxes”.  “

Seriously. What a shame this never happened. This would have been absolute genius whilst the reaction alone would have been incredible. Better still, the hopefully positive fallout once our more knee jerk elements ( I’m sure I’d have bitten too) realised they’d been had. There’s no better way to get a positive reaction than taking the occasional moment to have a good natured laugh at yourself.

It did get me thinking though. Discussing this point on Twitter afterwards with @crumblechris , it has potentially lead us to stumble across a club shop winner. Whilst we all know the usual half and half scarf is the devil’s own product, merging two tradtional rivals onto one piece of ad-hoc merchandising, why not celebrate a more positive partnership? That of our co-directors of football.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…the Phil and Rasmus half and half scarf.

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Kamo models 2018/19’s ‘must have’ fashion item. Possibly

I’d never, ever wear anything with a QPR crest on it but I’d happily hand over my money in the club shop for one of these. Matthew, Mark, Cliff. If any of you are somehow reading (unlikely, I have to be honest), how about it…?

Next up, season tickets. The news was announced yesterday that these are being frozen for the third, successive season. This is fantastic . Moreso given juniors have had their reduced to £49 in the family section. Talk about a way to get that next generation of fans along to Griffin Park . If you haven’t got one, then what better time to upgrade the membership card? Another season of Championship action (at the very least) awaits along with a team who, on their day, have played some of the most exciting football we’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Brentford as an established Championship side? It’s happened. Now to see if we can take this to the next level. Full details are on Brentford ‘official’.

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The 5-0 destruction of Birmingham City. About as a complete a peformance as we’ve ever seen.

Congratulations Chris Mepham. We all know what an incredible start he has had to league life but to move up to his national side so soon shows just how much he is destined for big things in the future. Hopefully at Griffin Park and then Lionel Road. Yet there he was making his debut for Wales in China on Thursday afternoon. A 6-0 win was just about as perfect as it could have got for him. The only downside, if there can be one, being Wales missing out on that additional goal which would have seen the game officially deemed a bracketing. Of course, the magical scoreline being 0-7(seven).

Whilst I’ll leave the interviews (and genuine effort) to the likes of Beesotted and the GPG, what I can say (clanngggg, the sound of a name being dropped) is that I was fortunate enough to catch up with both Rasmus and Phil earlier in the week. Specifically during the event to mark ground being broken at Lionel Road. Talking with them about transfer strategy (including those summer moves to Birmingham City) you could hear the genuine pride and pleasure about the way Chris has come through and filled the void left by Harlee. Along with Brentford currently having five B-team players on international duty at U-19 level, you can’t deny the fruits of their labours as The Bees look to their next first XI.

If Chris just missed out on a slice of football mythology, Andreas Bjelland has achieved it. Being immortalised in Panini form. Big thanks to the eagle-eyed team at Beesotted who spotted this one when the World Cup sticker book was revealed this week. As big an honour as an international cap, Andreas, Denmark and Brentford could become one of the most valuable commodities in playgrounds and offices up and down the land this summer.

Congratulations, Andreas. Here’s to 2022 when we see Chris Mepham (Wales and Brentford) alongside you in the book.

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Got it. Got it. Need it. Could Andreas see his stock increase?

Nick Bruzon

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 ?

And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust …. the rest of this article can now be found in the Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Certainly, if there’s no Marcos Tea Bar at Lionel Road it will be an opportunity missed.

All proceeds from any sales will go to the Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given something very special. A 2017/18 third team shirt with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in the EFL typeface. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop.  Anyone who has read any of this before will know what a kit nerd yours truly is so when I say this is rare, take that in good faith!

To be in with a chance of owning it, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before selecting a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

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The forum has always had a strong panel

 

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

 

Nick Bruzon

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.

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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

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

After a week of nothing but Bake Off, could we sting the Wolves ?

23 Sep

What a slow week. No football for Brentford beyond the forthcoming game at Wolves to look forward to. Whilst our next opponents have had two trips to Newcastle United in the space of four days to (hopefully) run down the energy levels a bit, the Bees have had that 5-0 win home over Preston followed by, well, nothing. My Twitter has been wall to wall tears and questions about the Great British Bake Off (which we’ll get to, briefly, where possible new hosts are named)  and not much more.

Of course, Wolves will be in high spirits following their last league trip, that 2-0 win at Newcastle that probably surprised just about everybody outside of the Black Country. Indeed, manager Walter Zenga was quoted afterwards as saying, “the spirit of the team, how they approached the game, how they started the game, how they played is a big answer to everybody.”.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

 Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST. 

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

 

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Zenga in his playing prime

 

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A stunning programme cover – grab yours at the ground

 

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Judy and Anton – you can’t buy chemistry like this

Nick Bruzon 

Matthew Benham’s letter to fans – the verdict

22 Jul

Wow. With Brentford fans still talking about the sales of David Button to Fulham and Jake Bidwell to QPR, Matthew Benham caught us with a stunning surprise right (or should that be, write?). Yet again our owner proving he is the master of the unexpected but utterly welcome with yesterday’s open letter. Brutally honest, frank, revealing and optimistic as Matthew wrote to supporters with his thoughts on last campaign along with his hopes for the future.

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We want to be in the top six and we will see where we can go from there”. Boom. That was some opening and an aspiration for sure. Talk about set your sights high yet, at the same time, if we start this season like we ended the last one then absolutely no reason why not. Moreso given the new signings, “They are high-quality players, young and hungry and for all three there was unanimous backing from everyone in the recruitment process to sign them.”

We’ve been in the territory of ambitious hopes before. I still recall Rasmus telling us in September how the Brentford squad would get stronger each transfer window. Honestly, could we say that had happened when the January window closed?

At the time, no. Yet nobody can deny the players that did come in have grown, developed and are arguably performing much, much better having had games under their belt. Any club would do well to replace an Andre Gray but Scott Hogan has certainly picked up the baton and run. Goals were going in for fun. Moses Odubajo looked a huge loss but I love Max Colin – a player Matthew acknowledged himself was one of the odd ones to hit the ground running

Yes, we’ve had  to make some sales this time around. Inevitable but I can’t wait to see how those new players bed into an now established squad. Of course, we don’t know what else might happen before the summer window ’slams shut’ but, for now, the changes don’t seem anywhere near as wholesale as last time out. More to the point, they seem a lot more positive – at least in terms of potential and excitement for those coming in.

Of course the owner wants to big us up, to try and engender optimism. I get that and it’s natural. But, equally, there was  an undercurrent of almost too much honesty in there. That’s no bad thing – quite the opposite. We’ve all got eyes and we could see what was happening out there at times. Likewise, we’ve moaned on these pages about the lack of such an approach or fan comms in the past. It’s more that it was just so unexpected.

This time last year there wasn’t a lot of direction or organisation. I don’t blame anyone, it happened” and “We did change too much at once as well but I like it a lot that it’s stable this year” were just two of the lines to really jump out (see, also, talk about KK and the closure of the Academy). If you want to set yourself up to be criticised then here’s the ammo. Yet, to be honest, as supporters we could see this and we knew it too. Fair play for Matthew holding up his hand.

Tinfoil cup

The FA Cup dream was over after a rubbish afternoon

Personally, I’d have been disappointed had there been no recognition for some of the low points in a campaign that included the Marinus experiment, pitch gate, the FCM parade in our Walsall cup debacle and then the infamous 4-6-0 formation in the no show at QPR . Matthew didn’t need to highlight our flaws but that he has, and that they are recognised, is infinitely more welcome than his ignoring them. He could have hidden but he didn’t and this, for me, was probably the most telling point of the entire letter.

On the new stadium, there was a teaser of an update with the admission that: “We are close to taking another big step forward. Hopefully there will be news in the next few weeks”.

Nobody could deny that Lionel Road has been a long process, for numerous well documented reasons. However, with Brentford about to begin their third consecutive Championship season as a terraced club, here’s hoping for something else to cheer about on that front. The clock is ticking

I did find Matthew’s closing comment of “I don’t like it when fans sing my name though, I wish they would stop. It’s not for me” equally interesting. As somebody who normally keeps quite a low profile, to write his letter was an unusual (albeit welcome) step. To make this admission must have been a tough one.

If nothing else, supporters just want to recognise and thank him for what he has done. Then again, if we respect the man that much then perhaps one to drop from the repertoire for now.

If Matthew spares us goal music the least we can do is spare him a song !

Is everything as good as it could be at Brentford? No. If it was we’d be celebrating a Premier League title now, having gone up against Middlesbrough in the play offs and then beaten Leicester City to the title last season. But, it IS exciting.

Just to be starting a third successive Championship campaign after so long in the doldrums and coming ’so close’ gets my spine tingling. As somebody who has been coming to Griffin Park since 1979, to be in with another attempt at breaking into the top flight is one that genuinely excites and baffles me. Historically, our default mode is mid-table or sniffing around the trap door to tier 4.

Let’s be honest. There were a lot of things that made no sense last season and frustrated us. We’ve been there, done  it and you could write a book on the subject. But far be it from me to waffle on about that any more. That’s a job for others.

It’s a new campaign, a new start and I’m full of new optimism. Forget the hashtags and slogans. Just keep the straight talk coming.

Bring on Huddersfield Town…

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Nick Bruzon

Rasmus speaks ahead of our final game…

7 May

Brentford are almost home. It’s Saturday morning and we’ve a game against Huddersfield Town just hours away. Whatever else happens we’re clear of both QPR and Fulham (whose fans continue to bite) in the Championship table after this most up and down of seasons. And should anybody have twenty minutes and any battery power to kill on the way up to, or back from, Yorkshire then Rasmus has spoken…

But firstly, the game at Huddersfield Town. The overwhelming desire for points aside, the big question for me remains one of team selection. In the best sense. Last weekend’s thumping of hapless Fulham saw Scott Hogan grab a brace, that wonderful 7th 5th minute effort from Sam Saunders and the oh-so confident debut of development squad left back Tom Field in place of Jake Bidwell.

Tom Field

Will Tom Field ‘go again’ ?

I’d love to see both Scott and Tom given another chance. With Scott, it will be a question of risk/fitness although I am sure he is chomping at the bit to try and grab at least one more after such a lengthy period out. To say his recent run has been prolific would be nothing short of an understatement. Indeed, he was nominated for April’s Championship player of the month with barely 90 minutes of football under his belt.

As for Tom, how do you drop Jake Bidwell if he is fit? The answer is that you probably won’t, although at the very least I’d hope an appearance off the bench is used as a sign of the faith we have in the young player. Much like Scott’s recent run, the confidence shown in Tom’s debut performance really cannot be underestimated. Moreso given Fulham tried, and failed, to exploit what they perceived to be a weakness in our team. No goals against and two assists tell their own tale !

As ever, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and only Dean Smith knows who will start. The rest of us mere mortals will find out at around 11.15 this morning whether in the ground, on Bees Player or via Twitter.

For many of us, it will be an attempt at simul-cast. Watching Boro – Brighton with the sound off whilst listening to Mark Burridge and his team via ‘Player’. Much as I’d love to have been there today, family time calls. Instead, I’ll kid myself that it’s a process banking the ‘away trips’ for next season.

The other thing to grab my attention was the video from co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen which appeared on the official site yesterday evening (and you can find at the end of this column). I’m the first to admit being quite critical of Rasmus / the club over the course of the season in regards to their approach (or lack of) to comms. So it was with intrigue that I’ve sat through the twenty minute video piece.

Rasmus video

Rasmus is back on Bees Player

With Chris Wickham very much administering a gentle probing, the over–riding message seemed to be that the current campaign has seen a rebuilding and consolidation exercise. That we are now in a position where the squad has contract stability and is a group of players we’d like together for the next two years.

It was another attempt to explain the strategy of the club. Something that, equally, is a lot easier in hindsight where the initial results of our decisions and the quite apparent observation that new players will take time to ‘bed in’ can be reviewed in the cold light of day.

Being honest, I do get the message Rasmus is trying to give out here although I thought it was a bit harsh at one point when asked if supporters understood what the club are trying to achieve.

I can understand why some fans feel we destroyed the team from last season – that’s how it may have looked from outside…sometimes you have to take one step backwards to take two steps forwards” and later, “A lot of things we have been working on are not things you will see the results of immediately. Our job is to build a platform.I understand it can be difficult when you don’t have that context.”

And here is my gripe – this lack of immediate context. Clearly, he relates to the shorter term viewpoint of fans and their emotional bond with our team, noting, “We’re privileged to be working in an environment where people have so much passion and interest in what you do..,.. we shouldn’t complain about being in a world where people have a lot of passion.”

For many of us, rightly so, it’s all about the result. Dean Smith himself was described as the second hand on a clock that keeps us ticking .  “We play a game, we get a result and we go again next week”.

There is a bigger plan afoot here. That much is evident and it was good to hear him enlarge upon this. But we are back to the context thing. Rasmus talked about building a culture amongst the players. All well and good and, indeed, one I agree with.

How about with the fans? This video was a great start, but it seemed very much the exception rather than the rule, safely delivered after we’d been through what will politely be called ‘the sticky patch’ at the start of 2016.

How hard would it be to have an update once a month  / quarter ongoing? How hard to make more of a regular attempt to engage with us over, what I am sure, will be an exciting but challenging next few seasons.

Otherwise, just how do you expect fans to buy in to what you are trying to achieve  and get that ‘context’ if we aren’t able to peer behind the curtain?

Genuinely. I’m pleased Rasmus has spoken. It is impossible to dispute his observation that we are in 10th place in the Championship, despite the challenges of building a foundation whilst trying to balance contracts, budgets and meet FFP.  What individuals make of the message I’ll leave to you.

As a final thought on this, two quotes.

1-When talking about the problems we’d had at the start of the campaign (pitch, Head Coach, injuries) .. “It definitely will not happen again“.

2-Re the summer transfer window: “I am pretty confident that we’ll leave the transfer window stronger than we entered it”.

Both are big claims and fans don’t forget. I remember being told in September, “The goal is to get stronger after each transfer window.”

Whilst he has used the video to expand on how this has panned out this time around, it will be very interesting to see how that assertion is met at the end of the summer.

For now though, I can’t knock this attempt to explain more to the fans. More of the same ongoing would be good.

Rasmus speaks

 

Nick Bruzon