Tag Archives: relegation

Brentford, Blackburn or Nottingham Forest? Who will win (or lose by less)?

6 May

This is it. The last weekend of the season with so much excitement still to come. And that’s just off pitch where the club have asked fans to dig out their retro shirts to mark the occasion of our current crest (badge) making one final appearance before being retired. Then there’s the small matter of Mark Warburton and Nottingham Forest hoping Brentford can do them a favour when Blackburn Rovers are the visitors to Griffin Park. With Birmingham City still not safe either, live on TV we’ve Sunday’s relegation shootout.

So what will happen? Will Brentford take the foot off the gas and Blackburn survive? Can Forest get the home win they need and hope their goals are sufficient? Both they and Rovers are locked on the same points and so if they match each others results, it comes down to goal difference. Which is currently -13 Forest and -14 Rovers. It could even turn into a case of whoever loses less heavily stays up.

And I have to say that because I fully expect Brentford to win. We’ve a chance to get up to 8th place, which would be one better than last season. Then again, for that to happen it means we need  to rely on victories for both Rotherham United and QPR. We’ve got to be realistic here.

But a win for the Bees, something that is in our hands, will see us surpass last season points total by two. That alone will be incentive for Dean Smith and a team that I fully expect to be focussed on going out in style.

I feel for the Nottingham Forest and Blackburn supporters in their having to rely on another result. Moreso, from teams who they may think are already on the beach or, in our case, at the Player of the Year awards that are taking place later on Sunday night. However, I refer you back to season 2014/15.

This was Brentford’s first in the Championship and Mark Warburton was looking to go out in style. Despite a little wobble towards the end, the Bees went into that final weekend needing to beat Wigan Athletic then rely on a slip up from Derby County or Ipswich Town in order to make the play offs. The Rams were home to hapless Reading and needed just a point to secure their own spot. We’d beaten the Royals a week earlier and they looked awful. Ipswich were on fire though and, likewise, avoiding defeat was all they needed.

On an incredible afternoon, BOTH results went our way. Despite taking an early lead at Ewood, the Tractor Boys were eventually reigned in and went down 3-2. As for Derby, they missed an early penalty and hit the self-destruct from that point. A 0-3 home loss to a bang average team with nothing, absolutely nothing, to play for was as unexpected as it was hilarious.

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Post Wigan: Err. You know that holiday? Well, Derby and Ipswich have both lost.

The point being that strange results can happen. That the team who appear to have nothing to play for on paper won’t just switch off. We’ve definitely been the beneficiaries of this fact in the past.

However on Sunday, and I take no pleasure from this prediction, my gut feeling is that Brentford are going to be the executioners. We’ve more than just pride to play for. For Blackburn Rovers to stay up, it’s going to have to rely on Nottingham Forest losing by more than they do.

Then again, as has been said many times, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. Take results based advice from these pages with a huge dollop of caution. Indeed, given the aforementioned favour they did us, there’s a big part of me that hopes Blackburn losing by less than Forest is the way this one plays out. Everybody in TW8 can go home smiling. Especially if Rotherham and (something I can’t believe we need or want to happen) QPR also win.

Then again, there’s the Mark Warburton factor. A hero to many at Griffin Park, could we take any pleasure from putting a nail in his Championship coffin? Perhaps it’s not one to overthink. Let’s just go out and let the football do the talking – whatever will be will be.

Besides, there’s more to think about off field. I make no secret of being a kit nerd and the club putting out this challenge to supporters has got me intrigued.

Just what could we see? What will the fans’  ‘favourite’ be? Does anybody even own that wonderful Hummel-lite version from 94-95; our first to feature the current crest (badge)? Is there a Samvo shirt out there that still has the sponsor intact rather than having disintegrated the first time it went through the washing machine?

On a personal note, I’ve whittled it down to a choice of three. Or four. But there are more than a few stunners to pick from.

Being fortunate enough to take part in filming an episode of Britain’s top rated day time TV show Bargain Hunt yesterday, both the Bees and the kit obsession made it into that really awkward chat bit at the start.

And that bit, when the show goes out, is quite likely to be the highlight. Let’s just say it’s a lot harder than it looks ‘playing’ live rather than when you watch from home.

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Just some of the shirt choices – although current crest (badge) only

Likewise, subject to any last minute editorial decisions then I gather the match day programme will feature a very special top ten.  Although after last weekend’s Brian Guest affair at Fulham, which the club knew nothing about in advance, we probably shouldn’t take anything on that front for granted.

So if you haven’t done it yet, why not have a root through the back of the wardrobe and see what you can pull out? Whatever your thoughts on the current crest (badge) why not help see it off in style?

The next time we all get together, there’ll be a new design in place….

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Coming soon. To a shirt near you….

Nick Bruzon 

 

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Palace and Arsenal write a chapter for our next season as Bees beat QPR. Again.

11 Apr

With Brentford safe in the Championship for another season and the playoffs a leap too far, thoughts turn to who we’ll be facing in 2017/18. Last night’s Crystal Palace – Arsenal game has given more than a few clues as to how that’s going to pan out. Elsewhere, there was sad news for QPR who have had to make a somewhat embarrassing retraction (stop sniggering) whilst local news site Get West London appear to have finally jumped the shark.

First up Crystal Palace. For a time it looked as they were being slowly sucked towards the Premier League relegation battle. A 0-4 thumping by Sunderland, swiftly followed by a reverse at the hands of Stoke City, had eyes lighting up in West London as the Eagles slid down, down (deeper and down). Could we have another local fixture, with the Bees going to the Palace next season? Would there be a kit obsessive programme feature including that most iconic of shirts, the red and blue sash sported by Brentford legend Neil Smillie?

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Then Big Sam and his troops got their act together, won four in a row and despite hitting a bump at Southampton, had the pleasure of playing Arsenal last night. And what a pleasure it was for the neutral. A 3-0 win for Palace makes their own safety a lot more likely and, with it, a straight shoot out between Hull City and Swansea City for the privilege of joining all but mathematically doomed Middlesbrough and Sunderland at Griffin Park next season.

It’s a shame from one respect. I was quite looking forward to the prospect of a hop across London to Selhurst Park next season. It would have been a new ground to see Brentford play at but instead we can do nothing but offer Palace congratulations on a job well done in recent weeks.

The other factor is the listening to those self-entitled numpties at Arsenal TV and Piers Morgan, somehow thinking that because they had that run back in 2003/04 when they were dubbed the undateables or whatever it was, they are entitled to be any good over a decade later. Yawn. Seriously yawn.

Anyone thinking Brentford fans moan or give our managers stick needs to look to North London. There, they take expectation to a new level with ‘Wenger’ receiving 128K worth of tweets on the UK trend list as at the time of writing (6.30am).

The biggest irony being the silence in the Emirates when they are playing. If they made half as much noise mid-game as they do once the team has lost then perhaps Arsenal might be an intimidating place to come rather than the glorified library it is so derided as being.  For the neutral, it remains wonderful, if slightly nauseous, unintentional comedy. No supporters in the land are as full of their club’s own self-importance relative to its actual ability (I know , I know – they won the FA Cup). Long may it continue.

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Twitter: Come for Monkman; stay for Wenger

On the subject of unintentional comedy, we only need to look a few miles up the road to West London rivals QPR. Already 6 points behind the Bees in the League table, now they’ve lost out to us in the player of the year awards stakes.

Whilst Brentford’s own event all but sold out within days, the not so super hoops have been forced into an awkward climbdown within a week of tickets being made available for their £119 a head do. In a brief article on the clubwebsite entitled ‘POTY EVENT CANCELLED the club has been forced to admit that, “a lack of sales has resulted in the event being cancelled”.

Here’s to Saturday week when we can really hope to compound a miserable season for our near neighbours. Fifty years on; never forget.

And finally, Get West London. Whilst it would often be easier just to follow the player feed on Twitter than read their stories, yesterday saw things reach a new low. The aforementioned journalistic jumping of the shark, if you will.

Brentford fan wears Bees shirt with BREXIT 16 on the back .

Thus proclaimed the headline on one of yesterday’s post Cardiff pieces. It went on to add – The shirt about the decision to leave the European Union sparked debate on social networking site Twitter.

Sorry, this is news how? This is a story because? Stop the press  – Football fan has political opinion. This is Donald Trump levels of news. Or lack of.  It was something that ‘sparked debate’, apparently. Or, in actual fact, led to a few references to it on Twitter.

What next. Man wears jaunty Castle Badge jumper to winter game? Transfer exclusive: Jugde to sign for Brentford?

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Coming next, on Get West London

Now I’m the first to admit writing drivel from time to time. Then again, I’m neither a journalist nor paid for the privilege. Just a self-confessed numpty on the terrace with an occasional blog column.

Come on Get West London, you can do better than this. Supporters deserve better than this. With five games and two local derbies to come, things aren’t at Arsenal levels of quiet. Just yet.

April fixtures

We’ve got all this to come still

Nick Bruzon

Dean Smith. If you are reading (you aren’t) I’ve got a few questions.. .

4 Dec

Norwich City 5 Brentford 0. Cripes. That’s bad. Really, really bad. And I mean from the Bees’ perspective. Up against a team touted by their own support prior to kick off as ‘pedestrian’, ‘slow’ and ‘dull’, a team who had lost five in a row prior to this one – that’s LLLLL – didn’t they administer a humping of royal proportions ? No complaints with Norwich. You can only beat who you are up against and that would seem to have been the grand total of naff all.

We’ve all caught up on what happened by now, surely. Whether through being at the game, listening on Bees Player, catching up on the video highlights c/o Sky, reading the match report, following the observations of those on social media or just a combination of the above. Yet at a time when we needed to pick up where we left off in that final half hour against Birmingham City, instead we picked up where we spent the entire game against Barnsley, Fulham, Wigan..etc . 1 step forward 8 steps back.

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The sky video shows how 1 on 3 outside the box became a penalty and 2-0

Prior to this one Dean Smith had gone on record as saying,”Sometimes we can catastrophise defeats and that leads to a demise in confidence.” If previous defeats were being talked up as a catastrophe , I can’t even begin to imagine what he makes of this one. What he can do next or how he can rejig his team and remotivate his players?

Hints are dropped in his interview on official  where Dean tells us:  “It is a performance that I thought I wouldn’t see from this group of players” before adding “I had a chat with the players and that performance can’t happen again.”

Come on Dean. Have some balls. Please. Your team who, prior to this had only won 1 in 8, have been blown off the park by the side with the worst form in the Championship. Incredibly, even Rotherham United (currently 1/50 to be relegated) managed a point over that period. For the record, 29th October against Ipswich Town. Is that response  – one which ended with ‘we go again’ style talk of future results – really the one you felt best in the circumstance?

Perhaps harsher words were exchanged in private rather than a simple chat. Here’s hoping, because something needs to be said. I recall Uwe adopting a similar line in the post match interview after the debacle at Stevenage a few seasons ago. Things transformed themselves from there as opinions were made clear in the dressing room – from all sides.

Indeed, Daniel Bentley alluded to it in his own ‘official’ interview where, amongst other things, he has come out and said: “I think I can speak for myself and the boys that I am embarrassed with that result. We weren’t good enough all over the pitch …. It was totally unacceptable. If there is stuff that is underlying then there comes a time when it needs to be said. After that tonight it was probably overdue. There’s only so long you can go without saying things that need to be said”.

What was said? By whom? And to who? Whilst I doubt we’ll ever know, let’s hope this has now cleared the air and given both Dean and his squad some element of clarity. Saturday sees us play Burton Albion, locked immediately below us in 19th place on 22 points. With the Bees in free fall – there’s no other word for 6 defeats in 8 and a mere four points over that period, something needs to change around and fast.

There’s only so much optimistic glass half full spin one can try to impart on this torrid run from a season which had begun so brightly. Fans are turning on each other in social media – always a bad sign that things are less than rosy in the garden – whilst yesterday even saw our Chairman Cliff Crown compelled to delete his own tweet about being entertained pre-match by his Norwich City counterparts Ed Balls and Delia Smith.

I’m not sure I follow the furore, here. Hardly a case of Nero fiddling given Rome had yet to start burning at the time he published that one. Indeed, whilst taking the post down in retrospect was probably a sensible precaution given the vitriol flying around and bad vibe amongst the Brentford faithful, it now makes him look as though he’s done something wrong.

We’ve all seen it and presumably such activity happens in football stadia up and down the land every weekend (mutual boardroom diplomacy and hospitality rather than Cliff name dropping B list celebrities like Ian Moose on a footballer’s birthday). Unless, of course, they were discussing rumoured transfer activity.  Although to be fair to Cliff, I don’t think he’d have been so naïve to post such a comment if that had been the case. Surely?

Look, it’s very easy to be wise after the event but even putting himself in that position in the first instance, given how we’d been performing recently, probably something that in the cold light of a day should have been reconsidered. Had we won, it would have all been seen as the bonhomie which it was and nobody paying any more notice. We didn’t and now look.

Positives on waking up this morning? Struggling here. About all I can come up with is the fact that for all we’re on the slide, the bookmakers still see us finishing the campaign mid-table. Brentford are currently 25/1 to be promoted and 10/1 to go down. Indeed, looking at the relegation suspects, aside from aforementioned Rotherham United there are still another 9 teams considered more likely than the Bees to be plying their trade in League One next season.

That said, three points against Burton on Saturday are essential. For more than one reason. Dean – if you’re reading (you aren’t) I’d love to hear how you are going to make that happen?

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Current prices to go down. Rotherham great value

Nick Bruzon

Gloves are off as rivalry with Birmingham City resumes

26 Nov

Saturday. Match day. Time to renew one of the more recent, but unlikely, rivalries. For Brentford supporters the likes of Fulham and QPR are, of course, the ones to get the blood pumping when it comes to those ‘must win’ games. Yet for those of us supporting a little longer, Birmingham City have more than given us a run for the money and some high stakes battles over the years.

1990-91 saw us go head-to-head in an epic Leyland DAF Southern zone semi with the Blues. Having already disposed of them in the FA Cup second round, Brentford could have fancied themselves as knock out football favourites. But with Wembley beckoning ,  there are no prizes for working out who eventually won both legs to record a  3-1 aggregate win.

The 91-92 Third Division title race famously saw things go our way in the final game of the season as Huddersfield Town and Gary Blissett ‘did the needful’ at Peterborough. A moment made all the sweeter by Saint & Greavsie having already used their Saturday morning show to congratulate Birmingham on being champions.

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View from the terrace – Deano and Terry celebrate promotion at Peterborough

Things weren’t so sweet the following season as the Blues just edged past us in the battle to be named the least bad of our respective sides. Both teams fought a desperate, and in our case doomed, battle against relegation from Division One (now the Championship) with that final game humbling at Bristol City being enough to sink the Bees and save the Blues.

However, the coup de grâce was delivered in 1994-95 where, thanks to the joys of Premiership restructuring, there was only one automatic promotion place to the Championship available. With both teams neck and neck at the top, one game stood out like a sore thumb on the fixture list. For months in advance the trip to St. Andrews, only three games before the denouement of the camapign, was the one we all thought would be the crunch match.

Sure enough, it was. In the pressure cooker atmosphere of a packed stadium, where a win for Brentford would have made it all but mathematically impossible for even us to stuff things up, it was The Blues who came out on top with a 2-0 win. To this day, I’ve been unable to watch half-time guest of honour Jasper Carrott. I’d love to blame psychological scarring from that result but, in fact, it’s more just his material. Ahhh, insurance claims.(kids, ask your dads).

Oh well, despite defeat at least we were still in the play-offs…..

And that then, three seasons ago, something wonderful happened. Brentford returned to what is now the  Championship. With it, a chance to deliver some pay league back. Finally. Yet whilst our own campaigns at this level have seen wonderful finishes of 5th, 9th and the Bees currently five points off the play-offs, Birmingham have been somewhat of a bogey team. A solitary point from our four encounters to date being the best we’ve had to show for it  – that, a 1-1 back in August 2014 .

So which way will it go today? Money where the mouth is – a Brentford win. Gut reaction was to call it 1-1 in a match preview for the Birmingham Mail yesterday but, I’ve been thinking more and more about this. For me, this has the look of a gritty game played out between two sides with rock solid defences. Yet, at the same time, I think it will have goals in it. Three to be precise. With the Bees coming out on top by 2-1. Lasse, Scott and, for the visitors, a certain Mr Donaldson.

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Clayton – a Brentford legend

Yes, the other highlight of today (not counting the free chili in The Hive) is the chance to see Clayton back at Griffin Park.

Always a hugely popular figure, even to this day, he’s a Brentford legend whose goals helped fire us to promotion and earn the chance to take on the likes of Birmingham once more. Of course, there’ll be no pleasantries when action begins (although hopefully fans will show him the respect due) but I’m sure I won’t be alone in feeling a pang of fondness for the big man when he’s out there.

As a final note, a quick follow up to yesterday’s piece in regards to Rainbow Laces weekend. Fans may already be aware of the special match day programme on sale in/around the ground whilst Captain Harlee Dean (who also gives an exclusive on his ‘coming of age’ and life at Griffin Park) has already been photographed with a special armband.

Fans expecting to see him sporting that one on match day may be disappointed. Infact, the rainbow captain’s armband is a promotional item and it is expected that regular versions will be used at the games this weekend.

Indeed, Stonewall have told clubs that they understand that players might not want to change their laces for a game. Instead, players can show and document their support in other ways, such as Harlee did in such wonderful fashion on Thursday.

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Harley Dean shows his support

I can fully get behind that. We all have our match day kit jinxes, rituals and comfort factors – magic pants, lucky shirt, the ragged old scarf from the 70s that all go towards Brentford winning. I was devastated when the lucky ‘spiderman’ undergarments went to that great bin in the sky. For the players, I can only imagine the importance of kit, footwear, boots and laces that they are familiar with is tenfold to that of us on the terrace.

Whichever way they are dressed, here’s hoping for a great game and the right result. It’s been a long time coming. 62 years, to be precise. Looking at the BBC preview this morning I was shocked to see the last time Brentford beat Birmingham in a league fixture at Griffin Park being a 2-0 back in March 1954. Top scorer Frank Dudley adding further to his tally with both goals on that day.

Perhaps time to look to history and revise that bet? 2-0 Brentford with Scott Hogan scoring is 22/1. Then again, the earlier 2-1 /scorers prediction comes in at a very handsome 177/1. On second thoughts, knowing my betting history spare coins will probably better spent on the aforementioned match day programme instead.

I wouldn’t want to jinx the team….

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Nick Bruzon

A shock u-turn. But have the bookies got it wrong for the Villa game?

13 Sep

Well that’s a bit of an about turn. With Brentford heading into tomorrow night’s game at Aston Villa sitting eighth in the Championship table, just two points behind second placed Newcastle United, the mood is a positive one. Of course, we had the marvellous win down at Brighton on Saturday but, perhaps as importantly, we’ve now had an apology from Ian Holloway

Back in early August, the former Bee (his other clubs including Bristol Rovers and, of course, the Loftus Road mob) incensed Brentford supporters with his pre-season prediction that we would go down. Writing under the moniker of ‘football expert’ in his column for Sky Sports , he called us out to finish in 22nd place, noting: “Brentford are regressing. Mark Warburton got them punching above their weight. They still haven’t replaced Andre Gray and Alan Judge will be missing for the start of the season. They could be in trouble”.

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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Ian Holloway – predictions as good as the kits of his playing day

 

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Nick Bruzon

Club gives the verdict on Holloway as fans forum reveals key updates

2 Aug

With our Championship campaign kicking off on Saturday, Brentford continued pre-season preparation with the regular fans forum last night. A panel of Cliff Crown, Dean Smith, Mark Devlin, Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen took questions from those in attendance whilst our host for the night, the inimitable Peter Gilham, fired the questions sent in over social media from a global audience. With Newcastle United, QPR , Ian Holloway and, of course, Lionel Road all up for discussion, what did we learn?

Firstly, how key Peter is to the club. Traffic delays meant proceedings were delayed until he made his entrance, mic in hand, doing a wonderful walk-and-talk. He hadn’t even reached his seat at the top table and we were off.

The panel, only missing missing Matthew Benham for a full house in ‘top brass bingo’ , were as open as ever. There were several unexpected nuggets of information in an hour and a half that showed just how willing to engage our club can be.

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the panel line up

The panel all have “realistic” hopes of a top 6 finish in a Championship that Mark Devlin sees the inclusion of Newcastle and Aston Villa as adding a rich pageantry. All, that is, except head coach Dean Smith who stuck his head on the block and suggested he’d have to go for the same 1st place that he’s told his players he is aiming for. No pressure , Dean! At 33/1, I’ll have some of that . Certainly better value than the 15/8 currently available for every pundit’s favourite, Newcastle.

Dean also acknowledged that he was very disappointed with the performance against Millwall. And that the players knew this. However, what was pleasing is that we have been creating chances.Besides, he never really pays too much notice to results over this period – a sentiment I, for one, concur with.

On the playing front, Lewis Macleod has really impressed. A player described by Dean as “excellent”, adding that “he looks a really exciting player”. We are yet to pick a captain but the selected candidate is likely to be one who will feature in the majority of games.

Whilst Dean is still considering his squad options, with the Huddersfield game less than five days away, surely that decision will be imminent? Harlee Dean, Ryan Woods or Sam Saunders surely in line for the armband, based on that logic.

Andy Gogia looks like he is heading out on loan whilst Jota remains available for recall. Although we are in touch with him, Phil acknowledged that the best thing for the player at the minute is to remain in Spain. Jota is somebody I’d love to see back but, sadly, the language being used about personal circumstances and respecting privacy suggests that it is a forlorn hope and the player’s future will lie in Spain. This, something I’d happily be proved wrong on!

Jota corner short?

Jota – when will we see you again?

The big three questions of the night (we’ll overlook the shirt talk) were, in no particular order, :

QPR – will we celebrate their failure to take over the club 50 years ago? An anniversary that comes up in March of this season.

Cue the microphone being thrust immediately to Chief Executive Devlin (no idea why) who confirmed that whilst celebrate might not be the word, it was certainly an occasion we would look to mark. Likewise, our 4000th league game which will take place agasint Barnsley in October. For the record, Peter Gilham did then confirm that “the word IS celebration, by the way

Next up. Lionel Road. No immediate progress although Cliff confirmed that the GVD (general vesting declaration) had been issued on Friday, following the CPO. This, followed by the air of caution that, “These things do take quite some time” .

It was a sentiment echoed by Mark Devlin, given how we are “Inching towards the new stadium”. As such, he has already been speaking to the football league about a dispensation for Griffin Park in order to maintain the current set up next season. That said if we do have to put seats behind the goals then the costs and reduced capacity (down by about a thousand) are already known. Let’s just hope commons sense prevails if Lionel Road is clearly under way by that point.

But THE big one was all about former Bee, Ian Holloway. What did the panel think of his tipping Brentford as a club that was regressing and one who he saw finishing in a relegation spot this time around? He also made the bold prediction of Newcastle United winning the league.

The response to this was a unanimous one. Hardly surprising but great to hear. “ I just think it proves he doesn’t know a great deal about football, especially in West London” was the frank response from Chairman Crown. A similar observation came from Mark Devlin, who noted,  “Who cares what pundits say” whilst Phil was a bit more diplomatic, noting that Ian had commentated on the Bees in two very poor performances last time out. Perhaps that had crept into his prediction?

But it was Rasmus who came out with the zinger of the night. Fusing corporate with club, his observation on the former QPR man’s prediction of  22nd was a simple:  “Thats not what Smartodds says”.

As ever, a huge THANK YOU to the club for hosting this event. No question was off limits and the vibe really was positive one. It was, as ever, a unique opportunity to question those at the top.

Let’s hope their faith in the squad is rewarded when the action begins once more this Saturday.

Nick Bruzon

Down, Down. Deeper and Down

12 May

Newcastle United. Down! Norwich City. Down !  On a busy, busy day for all things Brentford related, the Bees learned more about who we’ll be playing next season. This, when Sunderland’s win guaranteed their own safety whilst sending their arch-rivals to join us taking on the likes of Aston Villa and Burton Albion in the Championship. The rumoured news about the Brentford Academy was confirmed whilst for those looking for a bit of entertainment on the way to work today, Besotted’s latest podcast is now available.

We’ll start with The Academy. Any article entitled ‘Club Statement’ appearing on Brentford official is never normally great news. Sure enough, this one confirmed that as part of a “lengthy evaluation process” undertaken by co-directors of football Rasmus Andersen and Phil Giles “the decision has been taken to completely restructure the Club’s Academy system“.

The subsequent definition of ‘restructure’ seems to be more one of almost wholesale shut down at every level. Rather than running from under-8 up to under-21 and the Development squad, we’ll be replacing all of this with what is described as “an elite squad of  around 18 players aged 17-21.”

It’s hard to pick out the exact reason for this decision amongst what is meant to read as positive and innovative but, instead, at times gets lost in a sea of buzzwords.

Given how Brentford saw the Academy as such a huge part of its future state model, this does mark a remarkable reversal. It can’t have been an easy decision and one has, first and foremost, to feel sorry for the kids and their families involved in the structure at the moment.

How the new elite squad pans out will only be evident in a year or two’s time. That’s not to say, the personal cost aside, this won’t work either.

From one respect I can understand the logic that  “The Club will specialise in developing one age group rather than trying to master the whole talent spectrum”. Where these players are to come from is another question. Moreso, given the fierce local competition.

It’s a brave decision to make, that’s for sure. Both on a personal and professional basis. I want my club to succeed and hope that this trimmed down ’elite’ squad playing  a “carefully planned programme of games, predominantly against Category One Academy teams” is a way of doing so.

Only time will tell.

Tom Field

Academy graduate Tom Field featured in the first team against Fulham

Ok – last night’s football. How much must Sunderland have enjoyed putting the final nail in the Newcastle United Premier League coffin? Their 3-0 win over Everton meant that the trip we’ve been planning for the last few months has now come a step closer.

Along with those new experiences at Villa Park and Burton Albion, the Championship is now shaping up to be an even more exciting place. Get those railcards ready !

It does show how football fortunes can change, though. Who’d have though the 2016/17 top flight ‘North-East’ derby would be Sunderland v Middlesbrough ? Likewise that next season’s game between Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest will mark the first time that two former winners of the European Cup (kids, that’s the proper version of the Champions’ League) will meet in a league fixture outside of the top flight.

Bournemouth and Watford both keeping their places in the Premier League against most people’s expectations. Leicester City, of course, have become hugely popular champions. Tottenham have broken into the top four although have given themselves a wonderful opportunity to perform their annual ‘choke’ as they go for second place, at Newcastle United, this weekend.

The football landscape is changing. Stick to the Status Quo at your peril or run the risk of going Down,Down. Whether you agree with it or not, and I know that from reading social media last night many feel strongly,  It’s something Brentford are trying.

And talking of ‘Down, Down’, how about down, down-loading something for the journey to work. Yes, the latest Besotted podcast goes live this morning and you can get it here.

Whilst Billy (Grant, not Reeves) and the team do talk about the Academy, the emphasis in this ‘end of season’ special is very much on fun. Amongst other things this edition covers off the season’s highs and lows, rumour of the year and the Alan Judge-less player of the year.

The podcast is always well worth a listen. Nobody can doubt Billy, Dave and the rest of the Besotted crew’s passion and enthusiasm. Here’s to more next season.

And finally, on the subject of downloads, The Last Word review of the year is now available. Entitled “Ready.Steady. Go Again” it features the least bad of these columns from the appointment of Marinus in June 2015 up until 9th place in the Championship was confirmed at the weekend.

‘And if you’d like to read more’….. there is also an anthology of the last three seasons  : “Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up“ , which runs from ‘that penalty’  all the way through to the 5-1 humping of Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

If you’d like to read all about it, whilst listening to Billy and team, you can do so here.

Many thanks.

Until then, here’s The Quo…

book 3 and 4 cover

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

Nick Bruzon

Do derbies get any bigger (but who’s Staying Alive?)

29 Apr

Whilst Newcastle United v Sunderland could well be one of the big derbies in next season’s Championship (unlikely though it seems look at the table – it doesn’t lie), 2015/16 draws to a close with what is one of the most hotly contested local rivalries that our division currently has to offer. It’s only Brentford v Fulham !

Our final game of the campaign at Griffin Park sees a visit from a Fulham side who have only picked up 1 point out of a possible 9 against Brentford since our paths have crossed once more. And even that was only thanks to a wayward linesman denying Jota a late winner that was subsequently proven to have been onside when we played away in December.

Jota onside v Fulham

Jota WAS onside at Fulham (thanks, Channel 5)

The Bees have found the back of the net 8 times in those three games and so couldn’t have picked a better time to welcome back Lasse Vibe and Scott Hogan. This, after the pair were both rested for the trip to Hull City (move along, nothing to see here) in midweek.

Indeed, at one point it seems as though this might even have been the ultimate survival battle for both teams. However, a resurgent Brentford have stormed up to 10th whilst ongoing ineptitude from MK Dons, Charlton and Bolton mean that Fulham have had the hard work done for them.

Regardless, it still promises to be a more than spicy encounter. Derby games always are and the Cottagers will not doubt be finally hoping to get one over us. Make no mistake though, Dean Smith will know exactly what this means in TW8 and will be looking to sign off in front of the home fans with nothing but three points.

On a personal note, it’s the final ‘kit obsessive’ article of the season in the match day programme. The feature won’t be back next campaign for the simple reason that we’ve already ‘done’ most of our opponents. That’s not to say there won’t be a few one off specials on those newcomers to the Championship.

Without wanting to give too much away about tomorrow’s feature, I did stumble across something interesting whilst looking into the Fulham back catalogue. Were those black collars and white shirt the unlikely inspiration for John Travolta, whose ’Saturday Night Fever’ came out just after the Cottagers had reached the 1975 FA Cup final….

fulham fever (1)

Love those collars..

The other reason to mention Newcastle United and Sunderland at the top of the article was, specifically, because FourFourTwo magazine are currently running an online article featuring the 50 biggest derbies in world football. This North-East rivalry is included although, with only the top ten to go and London already featured with Arsenal v Tottenham, there is no sign of the Bees. Yet.

Could we still feature? Having already gone through some huge names I’d suggest it unlikely, although I still live in hope. Still, if that’s a disappointment , one other positive is that the part on Southampton v Portsmouth (which ranked higher than both the Tottenham and Newcastle encounters)  does not include a picture of John Westwood.

It’s wonderful that they’ve not bowed to the almost contractual obligation of having to accompany any feature on the South Coast club with a picture of the fright wig, stove pipe hat, engraved teeth and bell of self-appointed ‘Mr Portsmouth’. I’m sure he’s a ‘character’ but he’s one I’ve no desire to see, hear or smell any more of than we’ve already been exposed to over the years.

And finally, it’s our last look at Kitman Bob and his BBGiveaway. Who knows what he’s going to test us with tomorrow but with a huge roll over prize on offer, including the incredible one-of-a-kind signed shirt, I can only hope it is something special.

Tuesday night saw supporters given the wonderful challenge of having a selfie taken with Peter Gilham. How can that be topped? Knowing Bob, very easily 🙂

Keep an eye on his Twitter feed today and tomorrow to find out. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Bob has been an absolute legend this season and such a credit to Brentford football club.

Thanks, Bob ! I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve….

Bob shirt

This stunning prize is still up for grabs, c/o Kitman Bob

Nick Bruzon

Plenty of questions as Bees and Bolton await ‘win or bust’ clash

5 Apr

Brentford take on Bolton Wanderers tonight, knowing that a win should all but end any lingering thoughts about a shock relegation whilst, at the same time, dooming our opponents to League 1 (maths aside) should Fulham also emerge triumphant from their game . For one team, the chance to take on the likes of Aston Villa and Newcastle United – certainly on current form. For the other, trips to Northampton Town and Accrington Stanley could be on the cards.

Those are the stark realities between going down or staying up. At least, from a playing perspective. The off field and financial impact is sure to be infinitely greater but, from the supporters perspective, who and where the team is playing has to be well up there as the priority.

This has all been noted several times in recent weeks, of course. Yet to take survival for granted is a foolhardy action and moreso as a 14 point gap had halved over a period that had seen the Bees lose 11 out of 14 competitive fixtures in 2016. Then we beat Nottingham Forest at the weekend and everything seemed back to normal.

Whilst one would assume that the gap is too big now, I’ve supported Brentford far too long take to anything for certain. Season after season, until we are mathematically safe (or promoted – it does happen, sometimes) it becomes a case of gritting teeth and clenching buttocks. So, will we do it this time around?

The short answer is, yes. 9 points (effectively 10) is simply too big a gap. There are 7(seven) teams below us, many of whom need to play each other still. That’s almost a third of the teams in the league. Indeed, a win for the Bees tonight will take us to the same number of points as 12th placed Wolves .

And that’s not me assuming victory is a given. Bolton will no doubt provide very dangerous opposition. This really is ‘win or bust’ for them and so they may aswell just go for it. How often have we seen teams come out all guns blazing when their backs are to the wall ? How often have we seen an almost certain home victory fail to materialise?

Whilst I’d take nothing for granted in this most unusual of seasons, who didn’t honestly expect us to pick up all three points last campaign at home to Bolton and also Millwall? As the Bees entered the denouement of that one,chasing their Premier League promotion slot, both games ended 2-2 when form dictated that no result beyond ‘home win’ was possible.

Can we go one better tonight? With the Bees finally back to winning ways following the weekend win at the City Ground one would hope so. Morale should be high amongst both fans and players whilst the pressure should have eased off somewhat. At least, for Brentford.

Aside from over-confidence, the other point of caution is around injuries. The BBC report that Alan Judge and David Button, the main contenders for our ‘player of the season’, were both “nursing knocks after Saturday’s win at Nottingham Forest but should be fit”.

Alan Judge corner Rotherham

Alan Judge – goals and set pieces make him a ‘must’

All being well this is nothing but a cautionary note and both players will be available. I don’t think there’s any team in this league (or higher) who wouldn’t want players of this quality.

The other big name to be missing will be Mark Burridge. Whatever my thoughts on the Bees Player team in his absence, nobody can deny that they over saw a win for Brentford. Rather than lucky shirt, magic pants, Dean Smith’s tactics or any other reasoning, could a return to form simply be down to our commentator par-excellence being off duty for a few games?

Should the Bees secure all three points this evening, there could be more than a fair few ‘cheeky’ posts flying around social media in Mark’s direction.

In all seriousness though, this isn’t going to be easy. Yet, at the same time, Brentford should surely have enough in them to lay any fleeting relegation concerns to rest.

Surely…

Nick Bruzon

Will the axe swing ? To chop down Forest.

2 Apr

Well, something has to give today as Brentford travel to Nottingham Forest for the return of Championship action following the International break. With the Bees having lost 7(seven) out of the last 8 league fixtures and Forest 6 over the same period, this could be argued as a battle of the anti-form teams.

Equally, it could be argued as the start of a mini-renaissance for one of these two sides. The hosts are only 3 points better off than a Brentford side flirting with the fringes of the Championship relegation pack and so both will be desperate to get back to winning ways. Whilst I’d love to think that such a fate is nothing more a potential statistical anomaly (relegation rather than a return to winning ways) let’s not take anything for granted.

I’m sure we’ve all seen the graphic showing just how our campaign has mirrored that of 1992/93. Equally, nobody needs a reminder as to the denouement of that one. Another Nottingham team (County), ably abetted by a certain Mr.Biggar, denying Brentford a critical win in the 8th minute of alleged stoppage time. This, prior to the advent of the digital scoreboard that gives us some form of warning as to how long buttocks need to be clenched for, was immediately followed by the declaration of full time.

Biggar prog

Biggar – perhaps the programme editor’s typo upset him

Just to make things that bit tougher for the Bees today, not only are we looking like being another two down in midfield but Forest seem set to welcome back the goal scoring machine that is Britt Assombalonga. Having missed out through injury since February 2015, there could be no more dangerous challenge for a defence currently “having a bit of a lull” (Dean Smith’s words) than an ‘on song’ Assombalonga . And try saying that after a few pints.

So do Brentford fans have anything look forward to, aside from the pre/post match trip to Hooters ( noted purely for the burgers and proximity to the City Ground)? Well, we could also have our own changes ‘up top’. Whilst I’ve tipped Lasse Vibe to start today’s game, let’s not forget about both Scott Hogan and Everton loanee Leandro Rodriguez.

Scott, of course, having missed out for even longer than Britt following that horrible injury at Rotherham last season yet his return to action was about the only positive to be taken from the last game, at home to Blackburn. Or could Dean use the enforced absences in midfield to switch us to a more traditional two man attack including Leandro and a.n.other? Whilst I suspect that would be a bridge too far for a team set in its ways, at the very least having a few options in that area of the park marks a rare change for the Brentford head coach.

But for all his enthusiasm Scott has been out of action for an inordinate amount of time whilst Leandro is one to be filed very much in the category of ‘potential’. That’s not to doubt either player’s ability but simply to note that it would be unfair to expect either to hit the ground running and turn into instant saviours. Please, let’s not put the weight of expectation on these shoulders and, instead, remember we are an 11 man team.

image

Scott’s return was the only highlight of a poor showing against Blackburn

Whatever has happened this season, the club are still tremendously well placed. I think back to that Biggar goal and remember just what a devastating blow it was . That utterly numb feeling of knowing we’d lost an incredible opportunity for reasons outside of our control.

Likewise, finishing second and losing to Huddersfield in the 94/95 play-off semi (the season when only the champions went up automatically) or the rarely mentioned incident of Marcello, Kev and ‘that penalty‘ .

I never want to experience those devastating lows again and, thankfully, we still have it well within ourselves to make sure that this season doesn’t even come close to that level of anguish. Besides, look at what happened to those teams who did go up at our expense the year of ‘that penalty’.

Doncaster Rovers are currently 22nd in League One and staring relegation in the face. Yeovil Town meanwhile, who of course kicked us out of the way in the subsequent play-off final, are now 21st in League Two. A return to non-league is a very real possibility.

So however frustrated you may feel at the moment, just remember that things could be an awful lot worse. We have a wonderful club and the chance to take on some huge Championship clubs awaits next season.

Forest stand in our way. Here’s hoping the axe swings.

Metaphorically speaking.

Nick Bruzon