Tag Archives: red card

Bees blunted by Blades and random ref but what a celebration.

31 Mar

It’s a point closer to the play offs for both teams as a day that saw two controversial dismissals ended with Brentford and Sheffield United drawing 1-1. It was a day that ended with Daniel Bentley winning his personal battle with former Bee Clayton Donaldson as two great stops late on kept us alive. Bristol City, whose own last gasp equaliser at Barnsley gave hope to Birmingham City, are next up in what promises to be a real six-pointer at the right end of the table. With just 7(seven) games to go and the gap to the play-offs 7(seven) points, the chance of a spectacular climax to the season is still there. Just.

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Brentford entertained Harchester United at Griffin Park on Saturday

What can you say about events at Griffin Park where there was a very real danger of having to call out the Coastguard? Well, if the Middlesbrough game was made uncomfortable for the supporters thanks to the snow, this time around it was Biblical levels of rain. Somewhat appropriate for the Easter Weekend and what was still, mostly, a very Good Friday.

Those who took one look at the torrents heading their way and bailed out of coming to this one did, at least, have the consolation of staying dry behind their computers or in front of the TV as it lashed down from the warm up to the post-match handshakes. The water was already spraying up off the surface as Yoann Barbet stroked home dead ball after dead ball in his pre-kick off routine. Conditions didn’t get any better.

By the time we got down to proper business, you could have launched a flotilla down by the Braemar Road touchline. Flo Jo in particular, perhaps ruing one second half challenge that left him soaked through in the quagmire. But if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Pack it up and go home. Not that there was anything particularly hot about yesterday, the first half especially.

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View from the Braemar – Flo ended this one soaked through

That opening period being a somewhat tepid affair that saw even ‘angry dad’, my most favourite amongst those fans who sit around us in the Braemar Paddock (what genuine passion and enthusiasm that always stays the right side of ‘family’) remain silent for the vast majority of that opening period. The linesman on the near side saved the usual telling off that his performance so often warrants.

How things changed when the teams came back out after half time. There was vigour. There was gusto. There was the late arrival of Mrs Bruzon, delayed due to transport debacle. And as such, there was the customary goal for the opposition that her presence so often heralds.

If lucky pants, shirt and not shaving on a winning run work for some supporters, she’s almost the opposite. There have been several moments of what we shall simply call ‘unfortunate timing’ over the years. Within minutes of taking her seat, Sheffield United had taken the lead. A deflected effort from Chris Basham beating Daniel Bentley to make it 1-0. It spurred Brentford into life.

Yet, if Mrs B is somewhat of an albatross at times (in a footballing perspective), young Harry is the opposite. “Daddy. If we score a goal, will you lift me up?” he asked as play resumed.  Little more than ten minutes later, he was being raised aloft as Welsh international Chris Mepham (how good does that sound?) made it all square. His left footed drive from 12 yards out was followed up with the most incredible knee slide across the sodden surface.

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Chris Mepham leads the celebratory charge

Talk about enjoying the moment of his first goal in league football. Yet who could blame him? What a wonderful season it has been for a player plucked from the B-team to the Bees first team. And from there to his national side.

It’s no wonder he celebrated as he did. For once, the horrific conditions aiding the cause There are plenty of tweets doing the rounds of this one. Take your pick. They’re all brilliant.

Yet if the goal was a moment of ecstasy, we were bought crashing back down to earth with a sickening bump moments later. With most supporters watching the celebration, over in the goal mouth referee Jeremy Simpson had taken umbrage with visiting goalkeeper Jamal Blackman lashing out at Ryan Woods. He was red carded yet, likewise, so was our own ginger Pirlo.

Having seen one version of the footage, I’m at a genuine loss as to why we’ve been penalised. Perhaps something was said to the ref or perhaps he had a better view. Perhaps he simply made the mistake that Woody’s subsequent reaction suggested. Who knows? Dean Smith told the waiting media after the game that he hadn’t seen the incident as yet. Perhaps on review he’ll then appeal.

It was a game changing moment. From Brentford pushing, it was United who once more gained the ascendency. Simon Moore was brought on between the sticks to join Clayton and Jack O’Connell as three ex Bees playing for the visitors. Yet it was Daniel Bentley who proved to be busiest from that moment on. He was the man responsible for us gaining the point which has kept faint play-off hopes still alive.

As Dean Smith would note in his press conference, “Nothing has changed. It is still must-win. The less games you have left then the less likely you are to make the Play-Offs if you don’t win games. We have gone four without a win now. We have played very well in two of those games and should have got something. We have to turn that around very quickly now on Monday.

So where do we go from here? Will the Bees appeal? Do we have any hope of the play-offs? A win at Bristol City is a must if that is to happen. Should we be content with aiming for a fourth successive top ten finish? Something that would, in itself, be an incredible achievement for a club with our history and budgetary challenges relative to our rivals.

When you have the likes of Sunderland (whose incredible 4-1 humbling of Derby County was THE result of the day) and Birmingham City tripping each other up at the bottom, it shows yet again that size, reputation and spending prowess count for nothing if you can’t do it when the ref blows his whistle.

Brentford couldn’t quite get the win yesterday. But given all that was going on, I’m well happy with a point.

Roll on Monday.

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Where’s Karl Fletcher?

Nick Bruzon

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There’s nothing superb about anything this weekend.

4 Feb

It’s not been a great weekend for football. Personally, I’ve kept the duvet over the head for as long as possible. Brentford left Derby County on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline and a somewhat harsh looking red card for Sergi Canos. But it wasn’t just there where pain was felt. Sheffield Wednesday 1 – Birmingham City 3 saw a brace for Jota. Fulham 2 Nottingham Forest 0 saw the Cottagers strengthen their play-off position. QPR 1 Barnsley 0 saw true horror –a home win for the Loftus Road outfit as they climbed higher into mid-table although at least we have the consolation of their remaining 7(seven) points behind The Bees. And then to cap it all, in the game Americans refer to as ‘football’, we have another piss weak entry into the pantheon of lame calendar related puns to annoy us for the next 24 hours. The Something Eagles play the New England Patriots in what is commonly referred to as ‘Superb Owl’ day.  Hilarious. Said nobody. First though, proper football.

Derby County 3 Brentford 0 will say the record books. They’ll even show a red card for Sergi Canos. I’ve watched it a few times and still think it’s somewhat dubious. Being polite. A 50-50 ball on a greasy surface for which even County manager Gary Rowett would later say,”If I’m being honest it didn’t look like a blatant sending off, it looked like a dangerous tackle although I’d have to see a really clear view to see whether I thought it was particularly dangerous”. Still, it’s the referee who makes the final decision and his was red card.

Sergi was clearly gutted. His twitter post on the way home said it all whilst giving the local press another ‘story’. Hey kids, don’t worry about reading the player’s social media feed when you’ve got hacks on hand to turn every tweet into a ‘story’. It’s journalism you could do in bed and does obscure the real stories driven by a never ending quest for hits.

The glut of clickbait headlines do make it it somewhat tricky to determine which articles are worth negotiating the subsequent sea of adverts and ‘pop ups’ for.  You can’t see the wood for the trees some days. Which one will simply turn out to be a regurgitation of Twitter? What is a managerial interview dissected into one line at a time exclusives? What is something that makes a genuinely intriguing read? Certainly, I’ve given up on the vast majority these days.

We digress. As ever, Sky Sports have the goals and the red card incident. Neither of which support Dean’s view as to us having had the better chances or the County players surrounding the referee at the crucial red card. Certainly, their reaction was no different from ours and along with the aforementioned quotes from Rowett, probably tells you all you need to know about the validity of this one. There’s a full match report on the BBC whilst Brentford ‘official’ have the interview with Dean in full. And if you haven’t read Sergi’s post then his Twitter page is your place.

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Sky highlights show Derby players surround the ref as a red card is shown to a devastated Sergi

Still, what’s done is done. Preston are next up, at home on Saturday. Brentford may be slipping away from the play-off pack but to even be up there after a somewhat tricky start to the campaign is still a huge achievement. There’s plenty of time to go still and plenty of fun to be had en-route. I’d rather be where we are than, say, QPR or Birmingham City. As for Sunderland…. The table doesn’t lie and last season’s Premier league outfit are now in serious danger of being next campaign’s League One giant. Accrington Stanley v Sunderland as a league fixture for August. Who’d have thought that a possibility twelve months ago yet there is a very real chance of that happening should current form continue. Give me our position than their plight any day of the week.

That’s me. I’m done. Off to block the words ‘superb’ and ‘owl’ ahead of tonight’s Patriots – Eagles encounter. It’s a pun too far and (almost) as toe-curling as May the fourth’s Star Wars day.  Although nothing could get my heckles up as much as that one – at least this has given a cheap excuse to play with photoshop.

As funny as an episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys, set Twitter filters to stun. Or mute. Perhaps a few days of down time will do us all good.

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There’s nothing superb about a weak pun

Nick Bruzon

Brentford walking into weekend protest at Blackburn as Charlton crank theirs up

17 Nov

Blackburn Rovers v Brentford. By rights we should be talking about Gary Blissett sending the Bees into a 1989 FA Cup quarter final against Liverpool or Jota sending Mark Burridge into near meltdown as he scored ‘that goal’ (#Burridgegasm). Instead, it seems that this Saturday we could be walking into the heart of a maelstrom with a supporter protest being planned against club owners Venkys. Like Charlton Athletic fans before them (and stick around to see how they took things to the next level at the weekend) it is another protest against an ownership that is deemed to have run a once successful club to the brink of disaster. And then pushed it over the edge.

Any excuse to take a look at this one again

The Lancashire Telegraph is reporting this morning how fans plan to raise red cards on both the 18th and 75th minute – a reference to the club’s formation in 1875 prior to their becoming founder members of the football league – as a sign of their dissatisfaction with team performance and the club’s rising debts.

Will this affect Brentford? Will it play into our hands ? Will we be able to get back to winning / goalscoring ways against a team who have been  rooted in the bottom three for what seems like most of the season ? Or could it even inspire the home side to up their game?

Who knows. What I can say is that it certainly puts our own ‘problems’ in perspective. In Matthew Benham and the current board, we have an outfit making no secret of the fact that the club is looking to be run in a financially sound way. For sure, the glut of sales / departures alongside Mark Warburton were tough for many to swallow but nobody could deny a subsequent Championship finish of 9th was a false or unimpressive position. The table doesn’t lie,

As recently as our last game, the Bees were a win away from hitting the play off zone. Sadly, we capitulated against Fulham with a, frankly, woeful performance that saw the Cottagers finally record a win against us at the fifth attempt.

Our biggest supporter dissatisfaction is currently in regards to the new club crest and, whilst all observations pro/against equally valid, it’s hardly in the Blackburn / Charlton category of doom and gloom.

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I love the nod to the past in our new crest

As for Charlton, just when things couldn’t get any crazier at the Valley supporters took matters further into the hands in the ongoing protest against owner Roland Duchatelet. They visited his home town of St Truiden on the weekend of his 70th birthday with the intention of handing out leaflets to outline their concerns.

Not only did they do this but, likewise, stumbled across the man himself enjoying a birthday meal as his team went down 3-0 at Swindon. The Coventry Telegraph is amongst those with the story whilst you can see the video footage below.

For all that Brentford fans may be unhappy about certain aspects of life at Griffin Park, things could be an awful lot worse.

Charlton fans take protest up a notch.

Nick Bruzon  

Tony Craig day is here as an inevitable pun is released into the wild.

30 Jul

Brentford travel to Millwall this afternoon for Tony Craig’s thoroughly deserved testimonial. Elsewhere Championship rivals Wolves, a club we have focussed on a lot more in recent years, have finally succumbed to the almost inevitable in providing the most expected of bad punnery.

First up, Tony Craig.  His transfer to Millwall in July of last year was a particularly disappointing one. As we’ve noted previously, he was one of these players who gave his all in a Brentford shirt over three seasons in which he was one of our standout players.

Tony bounced back from a dubious red card administered by Keith Stroud during the infamous battle of Bramall Lane in the year of ‘that penalty’. He was a colossus at the heart of the defence during our promotion season in which he scooped the player’s player of the year award.

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Tony – as seen on the club site after helping the Bees to promotion

One particular game from that campaign, home to Oldham Athletic and just into Warbs’ managerial tenure following the departure of Uwe, was notable for one of the most incredible pieces of defending I’ve ever seen, described at the time thus:

On the only occasions Athletic really threatened, Tony Craig was there to mop things up. The highlight of which being a 5 on 1 breakaway in the first half where he stood his ground, kept standing and did sufficient to fend off the Oldham hordes. Lesser players could have been forgiven for lunging in but not Tony. It was my moment of the game – until the goal itself”.

There was no fuss and no showmanship with Tony for Brentford. That’s not to say he wasn’t skillful but he just got on with his game. No more so was the difference in attitude between him and the more outrageous players seen than in the Championship fixture with Wolves at Griffin Park back in November 2014.

That was the one where, you may recall, Bakary Sako was due to play against us in golden boots, encrusted with Swarovski crystals. Tony was the complete opposite. The anti-Sako, if you will. For one terrace wag, whose identity I’ll protect, the sight of even neon teale or electric pink boots on a Brentford player will usually elicit a cry of, “Rubbish. I like Tony Craig. Sensible, no nonsense footwear.”

Tony played the full 90 minutes that day as Wolves and Sako were locked out, leaving TW8 on the wrong end of a 4-0 thrashing. It was part of that #Novemberkings phase (please ‘official’, let’s never use hashtags again) that saw Warbs win manager of the month, Tony feature prominently and the Bees get within a sniff of the table top.

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Bakary Sako’s boots failed to sparkle

Indeed, his absence from the side in the back end of the season coincided with some defensive howlers but, more importantly, a seeming fragility across the defensive area of the team when, perhaps, his experienced head would have been the perfect tonic. Whilst he remained available for selection, Warbs kept faith. with his chosen two.

I can’t knock him for that and the end result was Brentford reaching the Play-Offs. Itself, a phenomenal achievement when viewed independently. However, I do also wonder had Tony stayed in the team, might we actually have gone one better and achieved ‘automatic’?

We’ll never know but what better way to celebrate then by getting along to Millwall this afternoon? Admission is just £10 for adults and, more importantly, Tony is using the proceeds to make a donation to Headley Court, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre which treats injured members of the Armed forces.

The other Bees news is the just announced (Saturday morning) signing of Callum Elder on loan from Leicester City for the season. Filling the gap at left back made by Jake Bidwell’s departure for Loftus Road earlier this month, the move was one which had been very widely anticipated.

Fair play to the rumour mill, it has been spot on this season. Either they’ve upped their game or the Brentford press team have become leakier than the Fulham defence. Regardless, this can only be good news on the playing front and nice to see a change from the normal ‘signing photo’. This time around, we’ve gone for the rarely seen line up of the shirt  / contract combo.

And talking of Wolves earlier ( a link made with all the subtly of Bakary Sako’s boots), it has been announced overnight that the Molineux club have parted company with / sacked manager Kenny Jackett.

This is an inevitable part of modern football life. Moreso in the Championship where managers seem to have the longevity of a cornetto in a greenhouse. Yet, I feel a particular affinity to Wolves.

Despite the initial mocking from a minority of their fans in regards to how big they were compared to ‘little old Brentford’ (somebody should use that one) it’s fair to see we’ve given as good as we’ve got over a wonderful last three seasons.

There was the 2013/14 League One campaign where, despite a record number of points for the Bees and that huge unbeaten run, Wolves stormed to the title with a final total of 103. In any other season our own 94 would have been more than good enough for top spot.

However, the following two campaigns have seen Brentford fare better than Wolves, positionally. 2014/15 saw our two clubs locked on 78 points, with the Bees reaching the play-offs in fifth and Wolves coming so close to edging out Ipswich on that incredible final afternoon. In the end, it was a goal difference gap too far but 7th place still not one to be sniffed at for a newly promoted club.

Last season saw a 7(seven) point gap split the teams with Dean Smith’s team ending it in 9th and Wolves 14th. The moral high ground for Brentford and some consolation for the £250 bet proceeds lost as a result of our being beaten (deservedly so) to that League One title.

So it was sadness that I woke this morning to the news of Kenny Jackett’s departure. Undoubtedly a huge club with big ambitions  – whether new or otherwise – (hello, is that the marketing team?) he has perhaps been an inevitable casualty of failure to make an immediate return to the top flight.

On the other hand, a rare opportunity for lazy headline writers and lazier pun makers. Chin up Kenny, I’m sure you’ll get a chance to go again soon.

No jacket required kenny original

No words required

Out of tune and out of touch but who looks good in green?

3 Jun

We’ve got a bumper Last Word today. England took on Portugal last night in their final warm up game ahead of EURO 2016. Whilst I promised we’d drop the Brentford ‘green shirt’ stuff, there is an 11th hour addendum from one supporter which Bees fans may find of interest. And on the subject, we look at the top ten green shirts of all time. From Plymouth to Palmeiras and Carlisle to Panathinaikos, can anybody make this under used colour look good?

But first, England. Whereas I’d normally say they “entertained Portugal last night” rather than “took on”, anybody who saw the game will know there’d have been more entertainment in an episode of Hale and Pace (kids, ask your dads. Actually, don’t. Spare them the pain).

The 1-0 win at Wembley was an experience that many found uninspiring, out of touch with the occasion and somewhat flat. An indication of the pain that awaits supporters over the next few weeks unless something changes and fast. ITV nailed it, by accident, in the commentary with the observation that, “This is Dier”.

But enough about the England supporter’s band.

Look, it wasn’t the best game by any stretch of the imagination. The red card for Bruno Alves, channelling his inner Eric Cantona with a crazy challenge on Harry Kane, hardly helped proceedings as both teams had to adjust to playing 11 on 10 for most of the game. If you want a full match report then, as ever, other sources are the place to go. However, if you want a full match report in two tweets then we’ve got it here c/o DJ’s Andy Bush and Conor McNamara.

Bush and CM twitter

I’m still no closer to knowing who Roy will start with against Russia next Saturday but at least we can now look forward to the tournament with no other distractions. The one week countdown is underway, the wall chart is on the fridge and Will Grigg is, apparently, still on fire (if he manages to score, ‘that song’ is just going to become interminable).

After that, the rest just comes naturally. Sit back, grab a beer, prepare the ‘butt groove’ in the sofa and enjoy a month of bonus football that we wouldn’t get in a normal ‘closed season’. Hey, if nothing else it might distract from endless rumours and talk of “Bees boss set for double transfer swoop”. All being well, it might even extinguish Will Grigg. No offence to the former Bee but I’m half expecting ‘that band’ to add ‘that song’ to their repertoire.

Next up, Brentford. More specfically, the  last word on our wearing green (unless, of course, somebody actually manages to unearth a picture of that adidas shirt). Supporter   Geoff Buckingham has been in touch about when, and why, Brentford first wore this most unusual of colours :

It was due to a motor coach not turning up !

It happened in the grim days of January 1974, when the club were close to bottom of The Football League, the country was gripped by the Miner’s Strike and ‘The Three Day’ week, and funds at Griffin Park were very tight indeed. To make matters worse, on a freezing cold 12th Jan.the Brentford team coach did not show up at the meeting point for the trip to bottom of the table Doncaster Rovers.This meant a hurried change of plan, and the players had to quickly sort out cars and drive themselves up to Doncaster. 

If that was not bad enough, one of them, winger Barry Salvage, got nicked for speeding on the return journey. As for the kit we had to borrow them from Slough Town FC. The shirts were indeed green, but with pink numbers on the back!

Anyway, the green shirts brought Brentford a bit of luck as the Bees won the match 2-1 , with a brace from ex Bognor Regis deckchair attendant Andy Woon ( you could not make this up,could you?!)

That win, in front of 3009 perishingly cold spectators, was Brentford’s only victory in a 14 game spell. But it was enough to lift the Bees up to third from bottom, and was actually a crucial two points, as we finished the season just two points above the Division 4 bottom four re-election places! 

Thanks, Geoff. And no more so than because talk of pink and green allows me to get out the industrial sized crowbar as we segue into : ‘the top ten green shirts of all time’.

This, a research topic I’ve undertaken simply down to the fact that, whilst most Brentford fans seemed quite keen on the idea (if you believe social media), one New Road observer contacted me to say: “Glad we’re not getting the hideous green kit this season but seems nailed on for next time.”

Is green hideous?   Unusual, for sure. But hideous? It’s one view and who am I to judge? Instead, let the world of football fashion be your guide….

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Carlisle away 1993

10) Carlise away 1993. Accused by many of resembling a deckchair, this cult classic even has a hint of red and white. If Matthew Benham and co are keen on the green, could this give inspiration for 2017? Bonus points always awarded for anything made by the much missed ‘Matchwinner’

 

 

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Mexico 1996 – wow

9) Mexico 1996. It’s one thing having some discreet design added to your shirt but Mexico didn’t hold back on the subtly when it came to embracing their heritage back in 1996. It’s bold, I’ll give you that. I love it!

 

 

 

La Hoya Lorca Broccoli

La Hoya – delicious design

8) La Hoya Lorca 2013/14. We’ve featured the Spanish lower division side’s kit on these pages many times over the years. And rightly so, given they’ve modelled it on the broccoli that signifies their agricultural heartland.

 

 

 

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Green Arsenal?

7) Hibernian 1989/90. It’s made by Adidas and it just looks awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

St Etienne 1981

St. Etienne add a certain, I don’t know what but it’s good

6) St. Etienne 1981/82. How can you honestly say this isn’t stylish? I’ll even forgive the non-matching collar and cuffs, such is the French chic on offer in this classic Le Coq Sportif template.

 

 

 

 

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classic adidas

5) Palmeiras 1979/ 80.  The boys from Brazil kept it simple for this adidas effort. But then again, why mess around when simple equates to style?

 

 

 

 

 

Plymouth 1984

Plymouth show that green can look good

4) Plymouth 1984/85. Much like the Palmeiras effort although with the addition of the discreet pinstripe that just screamed ’80’s football shirt’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panathinaikos 2008

Modern is good, too

3) Panathinaikos 2008/09. Another Adidas shirt. Another stunner. Even the sponsor and other branding is done sympathetically

 

 

 

 

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It’s green. It’s pink. It’s brilliant

2) Real Betis 2015/16. We love women on these pages. Not in a mysogynistic style but more to celebrate how at Brentford we have such a diverse fanbase. So it’s nice to include a wonderful effort from Spain as Betis took things one step further than even the Bees, creating a special shirt in order to celebrate the week of the Andalusian Woman.

 

 

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My favourite green shirt of all time

1) Cameroon 1990. Roger Milla. Upset after upset as the Indomitable Lions almost got to the semi finals ahead of England. That foul by Benjamin Massing on Claudio Cannigia. Oh, and one of the most iconic shirts in World football. Adidas have done it again.

 

 

 

Nick Bruzon

Plug time (regular readers know the score from here) : As ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thanks for reading.

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Its all about the kit, man. And the Bees.

 

Bees rediscover their midfield mojo in style

24 Feb

Well that was more like it. Brentford got back to winning ways last night, sweeping Wolves away in a 3-0 win that was every bit as comprehensive as it suggests . However, it wasn’t so much the scoreline as the manner of the victory which really impressed.

Sergi Canos and Alan Judge were rampant going forward whilst John Swift finally showed the potential he has been threatening. He, of all players, has come in for a lot of criticism in recent weeks (and rightly so, based on some of the ‘performances’) but that was infinitely better. Two goals (Canos getting the other) were due reward for a performance packed full of running, tricks and flicks. It just showed what the team can do when they are encouraged to advance with the ball and take it forwards.

Wolves, on the other hand, were abject. Sideways pass followed sideways pass across the back whilst the midfield had more holes than a Swiss cheese. It’s almost like they’d swapped place with Marinus era Brentford. Optimistic punts out to the flank, the opening passage aside, produced little threat whilst the returning George Saville was conspicuous by his lack of impact upon finally entering the field of play. He’d have been aswell trying his luck in a hotel car park as at Griffin Park, such was his lack of penetration.

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George Saville prepares to play. Apparently

With no offence meant to anybody who travelled down from Molineux, Wolves didn’t provide the sternest test. Let’s not kid ourselves about that. Then again, you can only beat the team who are put out in front of you.

We went for it and were duly rewarded . The fans left happy and John Swift finally put in a performance worthy of his illustrious background . Nico Yennaris, in his customary right back berth due to the absent Max Colin, took another step towards proving all the doubters wrong whilst Ryan Woods very much enjoyed the freedom afforded to him in the midfield.

Indeed, Colin wasn’t the only Griffin Park regular absent last night. Despite no longer being suspended following his red card at Hillsborough, Yoann Barbet missed out to Jack O’Connell as the Bees kept their first clean sheet since the 0-0 with Brighton back on Boxing Day. Likewise Lewis Macleod who, whilst hardly a ‘regular’, looks as though he will be missing for another few weeks with an injury. I know, I was surprised too,

Dean Smith told waiting journalists afterwards that, “It was a really good performance matched by the result and a clean sheet too. We wanted to start on the front foot with three ball carriers and I thought we did that.”

Indeed we did. What a shame we haven’t tried / been able to do that more this season. That said, with the next two games against teams in the dropzone (Rotherham United and Charlton Athletic) there is an excellent chance to continue in this style .

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View from the terrace – Swift and team celebrate our third goal

The irony of my own observation in yesterday’s column, saying , “Gone is the excitement, gone is the open attacking play, gone is the feeling that when we put our minds to it we could carve teams open for fun”.

Wow. Wasn’t that thrown back with some style? The big question is, can we do it again?

Brentford are now 17 points off the relegation zone and 11 away from the play off spots. Freed from the shackles of having to worry about either prospect, could we now see the team continue to play with a bit more freedom? Or was this just a flash in the pan? Here’s hoping for the former !

As a final note, was it Alan Partridge day in TW8? Both Dean Smith and Peter Gilham (on sparkling form, as ever, during Centre Circle Challenge) opted for an almost identikit 80’s suit trousers and Adidas tracksuit top combo in a look that was right out of the North Norfolk Digital DJ’s sport-casual range.

Where was the silver-badged black jacket seen on the likes of Mike Sullivan and Mark Chapman in the past? Is this a new club dress code? Or was it just the most sensible option in the cold (although, personally, I’d have just opted for a coat)? Then again even Marco Djuricin and John Swift both turned out in gloves.

Whilst normally one would suggest that if a footballer is cold, “just run a bit”,  on last night’s performance it would take the most churlish of individuals to find fault with the effort on display.

Here’s to doing it all again. And if gloves are what it takes, then let’s crack out the winter woolies.

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Previous encounter – the summer fashions were ‘off limits’ last night

 

Nick Bruzon

Optimism or unrealistic on our ‘crazy’ and ‘sentimental’ journey?

13 Feb

Brentford travel to Sheffield Wednesday today. Quite simply, it is a case of win or bust if the Bees are to have any realistic hopes of making the play offs that both Dean Smith and the club have been trumpeting about since the 3-0 loss to Brighton on Friday night.

As was noted in yesterday’s article, the realistic part of me knows that that a gap of 10 points between us and 6th placed Wednesday will be too much to overcome. Dean was quoted as saying that “Whilst there is still an opportunity…we will go for it.” whilst even yesterday the official site noted that, “The Bees travel to Hillsborough to face fellow promotion chasers Sheffield Wednesday this Saturday.”

Of course, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and should the Bees record what would be a 6th win in the last 18 games this afternoon then, theoretically, we could move to within just 7(seven) points of the play-offs . I am assuming, of course, that such a victory will come by sufficient a margin to start reigning in the goal difference of 14 that, effectively, makes up an additional point. From there, we have successive home games and anything could happen.

But before we even get to thinking about Derby and Wolves, can we do it today? Obviously one can only hope for the best and trust in the words of Dean Smith. With the squad back in their expected frame of mind on the training ground, is it possible we could avenge our last minute defeat at home to the Owls back in September?

That, Marinus Dijkhuizen’s final game ‘in charge’ of the Bees before our parting of the ways the following day, saw us stung at the death after Alan Judge had hauled Brentford back into it. It was a tough one to take in a game where referee Geoff Eltringham showed two reds as the Bees were caught short, pushing for a last gasp winner. Instead, we were our own victims of that period known as Jota time.

Alan Judge celebrates

Alan Judge delivered a blow to Wednesday as our fans celebrated. Until the 90th

And it is that man, Judge rather than Eltringham, who could be the difference at Hillsborough. Wednesday’s interest in the player was well documented over the January transfer window with, thankfully, our man-of –the-moment staying put at Griffin Park. At least, for now.

I’m sure he’ll have a huge point to prove. Both for the Brentford fans and, likewise, his would be employers to show just what they have missed out on. There is a huge resignation amongst the Griffin Park faithful to the fact that this is only a short term stay of execution and, regardless, Alan will still be off in the summer.

He has the absolute ability to play in the Premier League and could quite likely feature in the Euro 2016 finals this summer. If, and of course we don’t know what has been said behind closed doors, a move is on the cards then much better to do it to a team that he knows will be in the top flight rather than making an educated guess now .

Of course, there is also the opportunity for Brentford to continue the rebuilding programme around a hard core of experienced players such as Judge, David Button, Jake Bidwell and Sam Saunders. Still, all that is a long way off and, at least if club optimism is to be believed, it might still be us pushing for the top flight in three months. Believe me, I’d love to be eating my words on that front.

The other news of interest for Brentford fans is the latest ‘giveaway’ from kitman Bob Oteng. This ever popular competition returns next weekend with Bob already promising that the Derby game will feature, “a sentimental giveaway with a crazy guessing subject.

Fast becoming my favourite part of the week, Bob will be doing well to surpass his last ‘guessing subject’ – how many fouls Keith Stroud would award in our game at Brighton.

Whatever it is, he has nailed the season in two words – ‘sentimental’ and ‘crazy’. We love our Bees but only a few could deny it hasn’t been an emotional rollercoaster.

And with 16 games still to go, I reckon we’ve still got a few surprises left to come.

Bob crystal ball

Kitman Bob – man of mystery and king of crazy competitions

Nick Bruzon

Who will pass the ‘trial by TV’?

30 Nov

The pieces are falling in to place with Brentford travelling to Bolton Wanderers tonight knowing that victory will take us to within one point of Birmingham City in sixth place. Lee Carsley remains in charge (for now) whilst Dean Smith at Walsall is the new favourite to takeover longer term- certainly, if you believe what you read in the press. And for those not travelling, it all gets played out for us on Sky Sports 1 .

Formwise, Bolton aren’t in a good place at the moment. They haven’t recorded a win in eleven games and their solitary ‘three points’ all season came way back on September 12 against Wolves. Indeed, they are rooted to the bottom of the Championship table with a record that makes more painful viewing than an episode of Mrs. Browns Boys.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 06.22.54

The BBC table shows Bolton’s current predicament

Brentford, meanwhile, with memories of The Marinus experiment disappearing faster than you can relay a pitch, are back on inspired form. 5 wins from 7(seven) under Lee Carsley have seen us storm up the table to within touching distance of the promotion pack . It is a position that seemed impossible to many a few weeks ago but it just goes to show, once again, that the league is a marathon not a sprint. So can the Bees seize the moment?

The primary talking point about our team tonight is sure to be Harlee Dean or, rather, his absence. The centre back starts his three match ban tonight, following his sending off against Nottingham Forest. Whilst nobody can deny Jonathan Williams collapsed like a house of cards before his miraculous post red recovery, had Harlee not lashed out then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Jack O’Connell has impressed on the opportunities he has been given and so will, presumably, slot straight in. It will be very interesting to see what he does over the next three games to try and make the position his own and give our new manager an immediate decision to make (assuming they are in place by then).

Likewise, Jota took to social media on Sunday evening to tease an imminent return. Could tonight, even from the bench, be the time for the king to regain his crown? His Twitter feed (below) is getting Bees’ fans excited.

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Could we see Jota tonight?

I don’t write Bolton off by any stretch, either. With a four point gap between them and Rotherham in 23rd, they’ll be desperate to avoid another defeat. Further, I saw an interesting stat that, proportion wise (36%) they lead the Championship for the amount of their goals that have come in the final 15 minutes. Brentford, of all teams, know the importance of playing to the final whistle, as Ipswich and Nottingham Forest can confirm from this season alone.

Statistically, you can’t look beyond ‘away’ win. But, but – this is our team. And we all know how form and common sense go out of the window when it comes to your own team. Bolton hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Bees in recent years, with last season’s 3-1 defeat being a particularly scrappy performance where we struggled to carve out chances.

As such, I’m struggling to call it. The head says ‘three points’. The heart says ‘don’t lose’ .

At 7.45 tonight, we find out which.

button bolton

View from the terrace – even David Button tried up front last season

Nick Bruzon

Dean marchin’ , Lee walking but three more points.

22 Nov

Brentford stormed to yet another last gasp win, this time over Nottingham Forest, as a 2-1 victory proved yet again the ‘never say die’ attitude in this team. In scenes reminiscent of this season’s game with Ipswich Town and countless more at Griffin Park over the last few campaigns, Forest played the ultimate price for letting the Bees play to the final whistle. But it was the red card for Harlee Dean that has overshadowed the points and the confirmation from Lee Carsley that it was his own final game in charge.

The big centreback was shown straight red after a stupid flash of petulance saw him lash out at Forest’s Jonathan Williams. It was the briefest of moments, coming straight after a clumsy challenge by Dean on Nélson Oliveira saw a free kick awarded and a tussle over the ball with Williams.

But however brief or aggrieved one might feel, there’s no excuse for raising your arm. Referees have been programmed to show red in such instances and to do so at any time, let alone right in front of the ref and with his own team leading, was utterly inept.

His cause wasn’t helped by Williams collapsing like a sack of spuds but the damage, compounded by the Forest player’s Lazarus style recovery, had already been done.

Harlee will be a big loss for us. He was one of the boys not doing themselves justice at the start of the season, but he is now playing like a leader” said Lee Carsley after the match. For somebody who was being touted as a potential captain at the start of the season, these were anything but the actions of a leader. The challenge was cumbersome but the subsequent action was inexcusable.

We’ve been saying for the last few weeks that a red card is coming, although usually in the direction of Alan McCormack. Given Lee’s confirmation that he’s had his last game in charge, this couldn’t have come at a worse time for the player given we’ll have a new manager looking to run his eye over the team.

I’ve asked many times who drives ‘official’ twitter and this was one of many such instances. Reading the match feed, it was as though we’d been somehow wronged.

Slide1

‘Official’ twitter have their own view on the incident

 

Of course, ‘live’ comments can be made in the heat of the moment but the theme was then followed in the official match report, describing it as an “altercation”, before later adding, “Williams bounced up seemingly untouched as Dean marched angrily towards the dressing room.”

Football is an emotional game and things happen in an instant. That said, if one of our players does something like this then at least have the good grace to hold up your hands and acknowledge it afterwards. Albeit that, of course, such action is what got Harlee into trouble in the first place.

We’ve all got eyes and the majority view at the time from those who saw it was that the ref got it right. Terrace observers made comments including, “Deserved”, “Definitely a straight red” and “Furious. He’s denied us any chance of seeing Sam Saunders”.

Review of the footage, which has been available to all on the Sky website since 5.15pm last night, would further support this view. It would take a pretty blinkered fanatic not to accept that, in this case, we were in the wrong. Yet instead we plough on, North Korea style, with tales of glorious victories and atrocities committed against the imperious Bees.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. The victory itself was glorious! David Button keeping us in it until the second half turning of the screw. Sergi Canos opening proceedings when he got on the end of Harlee’s header – a final meaningful contribution before marching off for an early bath – only for an almost instant post red equaliser.

But, again, this only galvanised the Bees. Pressure built and wave after wave of attack was eventually rewarded in the 96th minute of the game. Philipp Hofmann fired through, and around, a crowded penalty box to send the crowd wild and Mark Burridge, up in the Beesplayer commentary box, to a level of excitement not heard since his ‘Burridgegasm’ at Blackburn Rovers.

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Sky viewers see the aftermath of that winner

But despite the win, I can’t help but be drawn back to that red card incident. I like Harlee Dean and it’s not particularly pleasing having to write negative comments about him, or any player. However, I can only call things how I see them. I’m sure he’ll learn from this and maybe even protest innocence but the footage is pretty damning.

Still, we are where we are and in Jack O’Connell have a more than capable replacement for the trip to Bolton Wanderers next Monday. Instead, the next question is more around who will be in charge for that one.

Lee Carsley confirmed after the match that it was pretty much his last game, with a new manager due to come in over the next couple of days. Who this will be remains under firmly under wraps with names as far reaching as Pep Clotet, Justin Edinburgh and even Neil Warnock being bandied around.

For now, I just want to thank Lee – a reluctant hero – for more than steadying the ship after the ill-fated experiment at the start of the season. Things didn’t quite work out , despite a glimmer of potential, but the transformation since the changeover has been an incredible one.

Lee has the honour of a ‘manager of the month’ award and the Bees are now just four points away from the play offs . No doubt there’ll be plenty written about the new appointment over the course of the coming week but, in the short term, Lee can step away with his head held high after a great job, very well done.

Lee Carsley MOTM

Lee  Carsley – HUGE thanks from the fans

Nick Bruzon  

Injury blues, red cards, 3 points and the verdict on Football League Tonight

16 Aug

A Bees win by any scoreline will do me. At the end of a difficult week, it would be a shot in the arm for everyone.” Not my words but those of Brentford CEO Mark Devlin ahead of our trip to Bristol City. However, even he would have been doing well to predict the outcome of this one as the Bees surged to third place in the fledgling table. And after the game there was the latest attempt from Chanel 5 to restore some credibility to the terrestrial highlights with the latest episode of Football League Tonight.

A 4-2 scoreline only tells half the story of a game that saw City end with ten men after Luke Freeman was shown a straight red by referee Keith Stroud (who else??) for a boot to the head of Harlee Dean. Indeed, the hosts were lucky not to end on 9 after James Tarkowski suffered what Marinus described as a ‘badly broken nose’ following an elbow from City captain Aaron Wilbraham.

Tarks posted this post match selfie on Twitter

Tarks posted this post match selfie on Twitter

Goals from Alan Judge and Andre Gray sandwiched an o.g. from Derrick Williams. Philipp Hofmann rounded things off to complete a heavy win for Brentford who made it six goals, and unbeaten, from our opening two league games. As ever, should you want the full match report then I’d suggest the BBC, official site or Beesotted.

Moreso as I had to give this one a wide berth for family reasons, so wasn’t even able to follow on Beesplayer although social media suggest that might not have been such a bad thing in this instance.

Roxeth on Beesplayer

Who provided the summary? And was this tongue in cheek?

Bees fans would have been ecstatic to see Andre starting, despite the constant rumours linking him with a move from Griffin Park. Marinus made it quite clear after the game that we want to keep him although was unclear if that would happen, adding “there is a lot of money in England and sometimes money talks”.

It does now beg the question as to whether Matthew Benham will look to ‘cash in’ or make Andre an offer he can’t refuse (although presumably not Vito Corleone style). Just how much is a player who can find the back of the net so frequently worth?

Besides, would Brentford really want to lose another player after the awful run of form that saw Andreas Bjelland join the long term casualty list in midweek with a cruciate injury that has ruled him out for the season? And to that you can also add Jota who missed the Bristol City game with an ankle problem. It is an injury that Marinus subsequently told Beesplayer would see him “ out for three or four months.

Nobody needs any reminding of the Spanish midfielder’s ability and this may also go some way to explaining the shenanigans at the end of the Ipswich Town game, where he and Jonathan Douglas appeared to have had a falling out. It was one which culminated in the former Bee swinging an arm at Jota as the Bees celebrated our last minute draw.

Eagle eyed Beesplayer viewers saw Dougie's 'girly slap'

Eagle eyed Beesplayer viewers saw Dougie’s ‘girly shove’

Still, if this was more bad news for Marinus after our cup exit, I have to give him huge credit for the team he picked. After criticising our head coach for his post match reaction towards his young players on Tuesday (something I stand by), fair play for naming Jermaine Udumaga, Josh Clarke and Courtney Senior on the bench for a high pressure game.

The other thing to catch the attention yesterday was an uncanny parallel to the last time we played Bristol City, a 3-1 win at Griffin Park back in January 2014.

That was a game which also saw City gift the Bees an own goal, from Aden Flint. Whilst Derrick Williams was the provider this time around, that previous match also saw him struggle with what was described at the time as, “The worst free kick I’ve ever seen…. rather than deliver a killer deadball into the box from 25 yards, (he) simply bobbled the ball directly out of play for a goal kick to Brentford. It went closer to the corner flag than the goal and was an effort that made Miguel Llera seem like Gazza.”

And so to the real elephant in the room – Channel 5. Saturday night saw their latest attempt to replace Manish and crew with ‘Football League Tonight’. Their opening show of the season had, rightly, been met with a barrage of almost universal despair as swiveling league tables, awkward audience members, confused pundits and cringey ‘banter’ all nestled alongside the random sequence of match highlights to make a show that was messier than James Tarkowski’s nose.

Well, let’s give Channel 5 some credit. Whilst not, officially, acknowledging their previous failings, Kelly Cates strode in front of the cameras to announce that, “Over the next ninety minutes we’ll bring you all of the goals and the best of the action – in order.

And that’s what we got. The league ladders that looked as though they have been plonked on kebab shop skewers remained although at least they waited until the end of the Championship highlights to show them. And then, they had already been ‘rotated’.

The awkward looking audience members were another reminder of last week’s season opener – something I understand will be remaining (watch this space…) – whilst Jamie Cureton’s trousers were somewhat disconcerting. Actually, just the presence of Jamie Cureton is somewhat disconcerting although us Brentford fans have personal reasons on that score.

However, overall you have to say that, much like Marinus against Oxford , the team at Channel 5 have learnt from their mistakes.

Some things remained despite 'lessons learned' for Channel 5

Some things remained despite ‘lessons learned’ for Channel 5

Nick Bruzon