Tag Archives: Robins

Put down the crowbar and look at the shoddy photoshop. The latest big game is upon us.

3 Feb

Tonight’s the night. We hope. Brentford finally play Bristol City after the teams have already seen our coming together twice cancelled. First due to Corona Virus suspicions and then, actual, cases. It is a game that reeks of potential for both clubs after recent results from our Championship rivals. Defeats for Watford and a fourth in a row last night for Bournemouth, along with Millwall holding Norwich City, make the business end of the table as open as it has been all season. The Bees are 2 and 7(seven) points behind Swansea City and The Canaries respectively but have games in hand on both. For The Robins, a win will take them level on points with sixth placed Bournemouth and possibly above them, should GD swing by more than one. Elsewhere, Manchester United did their one team bus tribute act. Not so much parking it as waiting for one.

We can, of course, only start with Brentford. It seems we’ve waited an eternity for the Bristol City game. One can only hope that severe injury list that coincided with their 11th hour cancellation of our New Years Day fixture has got a bit healthier. Much like their staff whom one can only be thankful that the sudden onset of Corona Virus symptoms proved to be nothing more than a false alarm at a time where the testing laboratories were closed. Relief all round, I am sure. It feels like we’ve all got a lot older waiting for the Bees to play the Robins…. And, with that, I’ll put away the crowbar and instead present the shoddy photoshop.

We’ve all grown old waiting for the Bees to play The Robins (kids, ask a grown up)

We all know the stats, of course. Brentford remain unbeaten in the league since October 24th and the Stoke City debacle. Since then, we’ve been unstoppable. Ivan Toney has been banging them in for fun with the hat-trick (now officially confirmed) against Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday the latest in a long line of goals, goals, goals. That was quite the performance from the entire team. Tarique on fire. Josh a welcome return to our midfield and Sergi blitzing it in the second half. The net still rippling from his goal(our fifth). An absolute blockbuster. 

If only we’d been allowed in to see Sergi, Josh and co..

We’re currently third placed on 48 points after 25 games and have just hit Wycombe for brackets. A 7(seven) -2 victory one that, being honest, could have gone to double figures had we taken those first half chances rather than allowing them back in to the game. For context, at the same marker last season we were sitting fourth with a still hugely respectable 40 points 3rd. We’d just gone down 1-0 at Millwall, fourth on 40 and were hoping Leeds United would fall apart. Again. 

Now, destiny is in our complete control. The table doesn’t lie and the prize for winning tonight , whilst not season defining, would lay down a huge marker to the top two teams Norwich City and Swansea. Especially given they then play each other on Friday night. Yeah. Frank Out!! Sergi’s rubbish. Sign somebody Benham, we’re doomed. Oh, and insert Picard graphic. Again, I’ll put away the crowbar and insert…. 

Hmm. They’ve gone very quiet…..

All this, of course, ignores Bristol City. They aren’t just going to roll over and die. Surrender meekly and hand over more points to Brentford. Although it would be nice if they did. However, with Bournemouth picking up the mantle from Leeds United, the Robins will be chomping at the bit to do their thing. The play-off zone is back in sight and Dean Holden has the hottest instead of the sadly departed Lee Johnson. Last season’s fun and games feeling even further away than the original date for tonight’s fixture and another excuse to wield the photoshop.

Last season was fun. Farewell, Lee Johnson.

Moreso, we need to be wary of the Robins given how they slipped up to Wayne Rooney’s Derby County at the weekend. Or, should that be, Rooney’s derby. Cripes, the castration of the Rams continues apace. Having got through Frank Lampard’s, Steve McClaren’s and, to a lesser extent, Ashley Cole’s it looked like they were once more Derby County. Then Rooney came in, took over, and now Derby have already lost their capitalisation. Rooney’s derby proclaimed the weekend updates….

derby further emasculated (thanks to Trevor for spotting this one !)

Etc etc etc. We could go on. But won’t. With Bournemouth serving up that favour last night and reopening the door to Bristol City, they’ll no doubt have their own spirits lifted. Here’s to our high flying Bees doing our thing one more. Even half the performance on Saturday would be sufficient. As long as it’s the second-half.

The other news last night came at Old Trafford where Manchester United hit Southampton for 9. Cripes. If we were destructive on Saturday, this was next level. Like buses, you wait ages for brackets to come along and then two appear at almost the same time. My own phone alerts suddenly going off late in the evening suggesting something happened and , sure enough, The Red Devils hit the magical 7(seven) goal mark. A feat they managed on 87 minutes yet still then finding time for an additional two goals. Well played all round and a scoreline we could only aspire to. Whilst there’s no chance of it happening tonight – Daniel Bentley’s not a flappy ‘keeper – I’d be happy with a gritty 1-0 and the three points. 

Will we get them ? Roll on 7.45pm when we find out. Mark Burridge has the hot seat on the quality comms. There’s also Sky for those of you with that option, should you prefer. Regardless of the provider, this could be huge. Bring on kick off and see you there. In spirit, if not body.

Nick Bruzon

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Monthly winners announced. Crack out the Picard graphic (and the praise).

8 Jan

Well, well, well. Brentford fans have woken up to discover that Thomas Frank has been named Championship manager of the month for December. Congratulations all round on a quite magnificent run. A nine game unbeaten streak in the month that saw us knock Newcastle United out of the league cup and climb to the automatic promotion slots. Whilst that cup dream may have ended at Spurs on Tuesday the league is very much alive. Our game at Bristol City now been rearranged for next week (Wednesday) whilst we’ve also got a visit from Middlesbrough tomorrow in the FA Cup.

For Thomas, a huge vindication of what he and the squad have accomplished to date. A slow, steady climb up the league despite a whole host of dissenting voices from the more bizarre element of our fan base. The frustration at not winning every game by a country mile or his refusal to pick the same 11 players twice a week accompanied by ‘that hashtag’. Hmm. Its all gone quiet over there, as the song goes.

Instead, the tactics justified and achievements (to date) recognised outside TW8. As Thomas noted, this is a very much about the ‘we’. “This award is one for the team. No Manager or Head Coach will win an award like this without a great team of staff and players going in the same direction”. He went on to recognise the intense efforts of those players, without careful management of whom and clever selection we couldn’t have got this far, “Across the whole of Europe, no team has played more games than Brentford this season. It takes a big effort from everyone to continue to perform to such a high level and everyone should be really proud.

You can read that piece in full, here, on the EFL website.

There was to be no double, sadly. Sergi Canos was nominated as player of the month but lost out to Middlesbrough striker Duncan Watmore. However, even to be in the shortlist is a quite remarkable achievement for player who, its bonkers to think, is still only 23. He seems to have been around forever and is only getting better and better with age. The hate mob gunning for him at the start of the season presumably now back under the rock they emerged from. As we’ve been saying all campaign ; criticism is absolutely fine. Its a natural and vital part of football but the sheer vitriol and hate directed at certain individuals, from people purporting to be supporters of the team, nothing short of embarrassing.

Fortunately, teams aren’t picked by social media. Likewise, the majority recognised the re-emergence of this most exciting player after that awful injury and refused to join the lemming like pile on. Thankfully Thomas Frank had faith in his man and has been duly rewarded. The goal against Blackburn was just magnificent. The hat-trick at Cardiff City something very, very special. That’s before you even factor in the determination, the approach play, the passion. We’ve always loved Sergi in our house and long may that continue.

Congratulations Thomas. Congratulations Sergi. Long may it continue! 

Sergi got 3 out of 3 at Cardiff

This does throw Saturday’s game with Middlesbrough in to question. Nothing to do with Corona Virus but more as to whether the curse of ‘Manager of the month’ transfers to the FA Cup? My gut says this is a league thing but with the two clubs that won the December awards coming head to head tomorrow, could this all implode? We all know the adage about that jinx –  whomever wins the monthly award loses the next game. Seeing this one play out could put a ground breaking twist on everything we know about football folklore.

Otherwise, our next game is the league clash with Bristol City which has been rearranged from Saturday just gone to this Wednesday. In a shock turn of events none of the City players who had gone down with 11th hour Corona symptoms, that they were unable to be tested for, have since been reported as having had a positive test. Who’d have thought it? I guess one should be relieved for the Robins. Imagine having to add Corona Virus to what was already a lengthy injury list at the time they pulled the game. Hmmmmmm.

I’ve heard more convincing explanations at school

The EFL are due to conduct an investigation into the circumstances but that’s not going to change what didn’t happen. Instead we had a weekend off, a sour taste in the mouth and the chance for our first team to be recharged for the Spurs match. Hurrah for VAR. Said nobody ever.

There’s only one thing to do now and that’s get heads down and focus. Nobody can change what has played out in January. Feeling we’ve been treated unjustly by the late postponement or the video treatment of Ivan Toney’s fingers at Spurs is only good, if it inspires us. Wallowing in self-pity of no benefit but I can’t imagine Thomas allowing any of that. We’ve had a quite incredible December that has seen us rewarded on and off the pitch. That’s now done and it is time, as ever, to look forward. Following Bristol City, we’ve the tames with Reading and Luton. Another crowded run of fixtures against teams with the same aspirations as the Bees for promotion.

A very fishy, dodgy story

Before that though, Middlesbrough. I can’t wait to see the team in action. Whichever element of the squad Thomas picks it from.

Nick Bruzon

And for our next trick, watch as the dog makes this homework disappear.

2 Jan

New Year, same Covid. Brentford saw this afternoon’s game with Bristol City canned last night after the visitors declared that due to a number of their squad apparently exhibiting Corona virus symptoms, and the testing laboratory being closed for the bank holiday so they couldn’t know for sure, they would be unable to safely fulfil the fixture. The timing of the sudden outbreak of symptoms to an injury hit squad (at least 8 at the last count) combined with the inability to perform any testing is one which had supporters up in arms. Fishy is not the word. Jose Mourinho would describe the late cancellation of Spurs game against FulhamL as being like Under-13s football. One can only imagine what the Tottenham boss would make of this one.

Everyone at Brentford FC sends their best wishes to Bristol City for a safe and speedy recovery to all those who are affected.” (as opposed to infected ) said the diplomatic blurb from Official on Twitter that went with the announcement. I do wonder what they made of the situation behind closed doors but the narrative on the BBC home page regarding the three games impacted by Corona Virus said it exactly as it was. Read into this what you will.

The BBC website last night

Genuinely, one hopes nobody is ill. The frustration here being the late cancellation of a game in what reads as somewhat murky circumstances. The story is one that, at face value, is about as fishy as Michael Fish dodging a salad to eat fish and chips in Dodge City whilst listening to the greatest hits of pop music’s Dodgy. A Bristol City team who had been pushing for the play-offs but fallen out of contention after losing four of their last five games. A team decimated by injury. A team due to travel to the Championship’s form club. A team who the day before the game suddenly declare an out break of ‘symptoms’, not confirmed cases, but are unable to prove this due to an inability to get tested in this brief window. Hmmmm. Read into this what you will.

An artist’s impressionif it’s good enough for them

The club won’t say anything. They don’t need to. Thomas Frank will, of course, avoid getting himself or us into trouble. Perhaps there will be good wishes to our opponents and then that will be it. Brentford now facing a sudden gap in the fixture list and needing to crowbar this in somewhere else. A Bank Holiday Saturday now cut short and the chance to spend some more time  in our own company now upon us instead. Urghh. We’ll have to do something.

The flip side to all of this, if I can grasp for any positive, is the chance to restore some fitness. Next Saturday is the FA Cup game with Middlesbrough and one in which, no doubt, the team will be made up of fringe players and those normally used to starting on the bench. With our next league game the trip to Reading on January 16th, it does mean we’ll have had a break of over two weeks without Championship action or international call ups. Might it tempt Thomas to start at full strength against Spurs on Tuesday night? If for no other reason than to keep things ticking over. The selection for the League cup semi-final was always going to be a divisive one, whichever way he went. Show faith with those that have got us this far or strengthen the team even more? After all, the ‘W’ place in North London is only 90 minutes away.

My own feeling is that he would have stuck with the Newcastle side. Now, he’ll go for the one that beat Bournemouth. Perhaps with the exception of Luke Daniels. Our reserve ‘keeper more than earning his own chance on merit this season and, were it not for the outstanding ability of David Raya, would surely have had more starts.

That Tottenham game is all to come. For now, we have an afternoon off. A chance to watch the other results roll in as Brentford sit tight. Time spent kicking our heels instead of looking to extend that unbeaten run further. Perhaps evening finishing off our Christmas holiday’s homework, assuming the dog hasn’t eaten it.

The closest we’ll get to anything at Lionel Road today

Nick Bruzon

100% VAR gets it right. 100%. But who will blink first?

13 Feb

With the midweek fixtures all played out, Brentford find themselves two points off ‘automatic’ and Leeds United still in second place. Just. For a while, it looked as though things may get even better with West Bromwich Albion behind and Fulham crying out for VAR (looked onside to me !) at Millwall. In the end, the Baggies got their win although the Cottagers ended things level. With Preston taking sixth and Bristol City warming up for Saturday’s trip to Elland Road after edging past Wayne Rooney by the odd goal in five, things remain as unclear and open as ever. Only West Brom starting to make a bit of clear air but, as we’ve seen all season, that can change in a heartbeat. Our own game at Birmingham City this weekend couldn’t be any bigger.

Before we go any further, I’ll likely mention Birmingham City a few times in the next couple of days. We’re due to play them  – why wouldn’t anyone do so in that situation? So to try, but no doubt fail, and avoid the usual nonsense about this tinpot team’s apparent obsession with their enormous club, the Griffin Park perspective on why I’ve absolutely relished our teams crossing paths in the Championship is noted further below. Why such pleasure is taken every time Brentford finish above Blues – which has been every season since our return to this level.

Sure… the financial misconduct, the managerial mayhem, that ten times better nonsense or the triple transfer swoop were factors – the sort of nonsense that makes football great in retrospect –  but nothing compared to what had gone before.

Anyway, getting back to the present, one almost had to feel sorry for Fulham last night. Almost. The brief window of opportunity I was afforded to watch that game before Kirsty and Phil started doing battle over Woodford Green property renovation (ah, the Wednesday night price of a green card for the trip to St. Andrews on Saturday is a huge one) saw two early goals and a huge controversy. Aleksander Miitrovic continuing to trade metaphorical punches with Ollie Watkins at the top of the Championship leading goalscorer charts before the Lions equalised with a goal so far offside even I spotted it first time out. Fulham were rightly incensed but, as we struggled to contain the laughs on our couch, the officials allowed it stand. 

100% VAR gets it right. 100%. But there was no VAR. No second chance. No reprieve and things were level. Millwall even had the temerity to miss a penalty and that’s how things stayed. Apparently. What would I know? The things you do for the long term footballing pleasure.  With that result, Fulham go level on points with Leeds United whilst Brentford remain two points off the pair of them. The Cottagers may aswell chalk up the three points now with a home game against Barnsley this weekend but Leeds – Bristol City promises to be another massive one. 

The Robins are just outside the play off zone. Only goal difference keeping them away from a top six that once again plays host to Preston. It really is a case of seeing who can hold their nerve. Who blinks first. Whatever else, something has to give with West Brom hosting Nottingham Forest. I’m beyond trying to figure out who I want to win in these games though. Let’s concentrate on ourselves and hope those favours continue to come.

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As it stands…

That said, we are now at the point of experiencing that additional factor of a promotion shootout. That moment where the run-in starts and every result of every club around us seems critical. Phones are refreshed mid-game as goals conceded and points dropped here, there and everywhere are celebrated with abandon. Where even a win for the Loftus Road team is to be celebrated if it comes against one of the teams in close proximity. Where shifts in the table are tracked, even ‘as it stands’, and all favours are grateful accepted. We’ve had it by the bucketload during this week’s fixtures with Brentford even sitting in second place until Leeds equalised. Walking past Griffin Park on the school run with Harry, we’ve been going through permutations of results and possibilities – it’s amazing how much that can help with arithmetic. So, If Leeds lose, how many points will they have? Where will Fulham be if they beat Millwall?

There are, of course, a lot of games to go. Almost a third of the season still. But with nobody really striking out on their own, albeit West Bromwich Albion have a few points’ breathing space (at present) one can’t help but get drawn in by the situation unfolding around us. Which, as much as anything else, is why Birmingham City is a massive one for us Brentford fans. Regardless of the history. The obsession. 

I’ll absolutely love it if we pick up the points. Might even sing a song at full time. Roll on Saturday – see you there.   

 

Until then, here’s my take on it. Birmingham City – the ‘obsession’

For me the fascination – and it is one – with Birmingham City goes back to the late 80s / early 90s. I’ve written about this before and so apologies in advance but some things feel as though they bear repeating. No matter how forlorn it may be. Yet it is as crucial now as a means of seeing how far we’ve come compared to how things were before. Those of us a bit longer in the tooth will be well aware how our paths crossed over and over back in the day. 

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.

Deano and Bliss

Things weren’t so sweet the following season as  Birmingham 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 campaign, 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 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…..

So, yes. Whilst I DO focus on Birmingham City (a lot) it is as much about the history. About showing how far we have evolved. Rising up out of the primordial swamp and leaving the dinosaurs behind us – in more than one case . Shrewd ownership has proven that you don’t need to spend big to spend clever. Can we take it to the next level? Perhaps Saturday will give a bit more of a clue, but I wouldn’t bet against this race going to the very last weekend of the season. 

Nick Bruzon

New decade. Same brilliance.

2 Jan

What a start to the New Year. A 4-0 win for Brentford at Bristol City about as comprehensive as they come. Robins’ manager Lee Johnson self-combusting in a full time Scrappy Doo impersonation that saw him red carded at full time for an altercation with Thomas Frank.  With Leeds United being held at West Bromwich Albion, the gap to the top two is back down to single figures. The Bees sit third in The Championship after Fulham lost at home. Millwall, Forest and The Cottagers making up the play-off places. Ollie Watkins back up to one goal behind Aleksander Mitrovic at the top of the divisional goal scoring charts after his brace rounded things off following early goals from Bryan Mbeumo and Saïd Benrahma.

Screenshot 2020-01-02 at 08.46.23

The full time score at Ashton Gate, c/o Quest TV this morning..

We’ve all see this one, presumably? Either as part of the thousand plus who travelled to Ashton Gate or via the red button on Sky. Yet some performances need to be chewed over once more, such was the manner of victory. David Raya set up the first goal with just 6 minutes gone. His enormo-clearance one that might have been selected at Millwall on Sunday. This time he called it right with a ball that must have carried close to three-quarters of the pitch before Ollie picked it off and danced through the visitors defence. They tried but couldn’t stop him and it slipped through for Mbeumo to dink home his tenth of the season.

1-0 and game on. 1-0 and man off. Ashley Williams was shown red just minutes after he and Ollie had both been booked for a coming together. A scything challenge on Watkins resulted in his ejection and with it, the home team’s chance. It was 0-2 moments later. Less than half an hour gone and Benrahma got the goal he’s been looking for in recent weeks. Daniel Bentley could only pat down a Jensen shot and, despite upending Ollie when clean though, was unable to stop Saïd from doing his thing. It all looked ridiculously easy. The decision to trade him in for David Raya being proven more and more an incredible piece of business with each passing game.

A tactical readjustment for the hosts saw them working their way back in to the game. Relatively speaking. They didn’t concede anything further up to half time and even looked vaguely threatening. Yet there was no way through, with one kamikaze backpass in the second period giving even more opportunity for Ollie to join the scorers. His goals eventually coming in the final ten minutes. The first, guiding home a tracer bullet of a cross from Jan Zamburek down the left. His second, capitalising on a Mads Roerslev  (in for Dalsgaard) assist from the other flank.  Bentley only able to parry his header and there was to be no mistake as the ball fell nicely. 4-0 and all done. Barring the full time whistle and Johnson’s punishment. 

It really was a stunning, stunning performance. Thomas Frank’s BMW front three once more driving us forward with speed, skill and flair. It’s hard to believe the Mbeumo is only 20. Amazing to see the advances to Ollie’s game. Saïd on song just speaks for himself. All three once more dividing the goals between them. Benrahama back to his sizzling best. One second half flick over his own head had to be seen to be believed. Filthy, audacious, taking the p. All three rolled up into one and served up with a side salad of confidence and self-belief. Truly, he is a talent to behold.

With that accursed transfer window now open for a month, hanging on to B, M and W will be huge. If we can do it. Yet with spirits high and the team storming the table, why would anybody jump ship now? Yes, I know money talks and this is the naivety of being a fan but the chance to see what this team could do in the second half of the season is an intriguing one.

The defence is tight (we are now clear in the fewest ‘goals against’ chart), the midfield dominant and the attacking trio electric. Leeds United continue to wobble. Their 1-1 with West Brom meaning its only been one win out of the last five for them. Even that needed a 95th minute own goal by Birmingham City to hand them the points after having shipped four themselves.I still think that top two would be Boys Own stuff, relying on a staggering run of favours, but as long as we keep on doing our thing then anything else is a bonus. The gap in the-play off zone is starting to grow with clear air now between us and seventh placed Sheffield Wednesday. Four points the difference and our staggering goal difference of +21 bettered only by West Bromwich Albion.

It is easy to get excited, no question, but why not? Why shouldn’t we enjoy the moment? This team and this performance has been building . The goals have been flying in for months. The team slowly climbing up the table. Sneaking under the radar, if you will, to emerge into 2020 with plaudits from all. We’ve got the FA Cup against Stoke City next and then a return to Griffin Park in the league where QPR visit for our next Championship fixture. With the Lionel Road season tickets also going on sale to us non-premiums, it promises to be an exciting week or two.

Then again, when isn’t it?

Nick Bruzon

Sometimes it’s just important to set the scene.

1 Jan

Bristol City host Brentford today. At the very top of the table Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion meet later in the day. Good luck. Good luck everybody. Personally, this is all going to be hard work. 

I woke up, took one look at the detritus from the night before and knew immediately that things were not good. Empty bottles. Lots of empty bottles. Dirty plates. Mess. Wine glasses all over the kitchen counter. Ferrero Rocher wrappers littering the living room floor like the remnants of an ambassador’s reception gone rogue. Fuzzy memories of Craig David doing his thing on the TV. Thankfully, none of Jools Holland and his smug piano show. 

Screenshot 2020-01-01 at 09.08.49

Then, with the espresso kicking in I stumbled across it. The left over fondue pot containing the congealed remains of a kilogram of Swiss cheese. The pungent smell carried to the back of the throat on a wave of grease. The plan of reducing the pain felt today by last night lining the stomach with an early evening, pre-drinks blanket of bread and melted gruyere suddenly backfiring with abandon. Should have stuck to the original plan of pizza rather than trying to be clever.

Let’s leave that thought there. All being well, nothing some fresh air won’t sort out. Hopefully. Instead 2020 begins with an immediate chance to put Sunday’s anti-football at Millwall out with the empties. A stodgy game played (if that is the word) on an over watered ploughed-field of a surface. One can’t dispute that The Lions had a specific game plan, which worked, but it was very much one for the insomniacs. Too many Brentford players looked off the pace and unable to adjust to the visitors pressing game. I’m pretty sure today will be different.

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Millwall away – awful

That’s not to suggest Bristol City will be easy. Anything but. They’ve been in the play-off race for the vast majority of the season and are only one point outside of it at present. A run of four straight defeats has now ended with Sunday’s home win over bottom three Luton Town. You can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be expecting more of the same. Then again, so will Brentford. If ever motivation was needed it will be the chance to consolidate our own top six placing. Likewise, the opportunity to bury the memory of Sunday. For the talismanic Benrahma to get back on his top game – something so desperately missing at The Den. He wasn’t alone, either, but knowing just how good he can be, an off-key Saïd stands out more than anybody. That’s the price to be paid for such incredible talent, I suppose.

I’d love to pour forth with erudite learnings and big match previews at this juncture but it’s not really working. Not today. The thought that forcing myself to the keyboard after the treat of a rare lie in would help sort things out proving to be nothing more than wishful thinking. Instead, there’s another waft of scorched emmenthal drifting across the kitchen and it’s not good. Mrs. Bruzon and Harry are both asleep still. I can only envy them. No doubt each dreaming about Ollie Watkins and  Sergi Canos. Albeit I’d imagine different content in their respective minds’ eyes. Instead, a riverside walk beckons before the football. Possibly.   

Sometimes it’s just important to set the scene. Now, how about a Bloody Mary to settle the stomach…

Nick Bruzon

A tough one to take after a night of one way traffic.

3 Oct

Brentford 1 Bristol City 1. It is a score which does nothing to illustrate the performance of The Bees over 87 of the 90 minutes before a late, late equaliser, gifted to the visitors on a plate after a self-inflicted formation change, saw two points very much dropped. Brentford dominated and the stats more than bear this out. Yet as we’ve said many times, goals are the only thing that count at full time and all the wonderful play, brilliance from Daniel Bentley, domination and shots count for nothing if your opponents score as many, or more, than you. There’s a lot of positives to be taken from this one ahead of the trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday aswell as a few very valuable lesson learned.

First up, credit to Bristol City. Let’s not sound like we’re full of the sour grapes enjoyed by the likes of Steve Evans and Russell Slade back in the day. Whilst Brentford clearly had the lions share of possession and chances, it wasn’t one way traffic. The Robins set up to defend and almost caught us on the break in the first half. Rico Henry losing the ball and a lightning fast counter attack saw David Raya making a fine save one-on-one, when a goal was all but chalked on. In the other goal, Daniel Bentley was on inspired form. Save followed save and chance followed chance as the former Bees ‘keeper and his five man defence did everything to keep out the rampaging red and white hoard.

The goal, when it did come, was quite magnificent. Josh Dasilva curling a wonderful effort into the far top corner from outside the box. It was a strike that was as tasty as a freshly toasted bagel smeared in marmite, crunchy peanut butter and fake plastic cheese i.e delicious. The celebration was equally emphatic. Arms out high, he  ran to the Braemar Road side with players coming from all directions to leap on the midfielder in congratulation. 

For me, the smile on the face of Pontus Jansson said it all. A man who wears his heart on his sleeve at all times, you could see what this one meant to our captain as he joined the ever growing pile of players. A grin from ear to ear mirroring just what the supporters were feeling. Contrast that the look in his face at full time after ‘that’ equaliser had salvaged a point for Bristol City. He cut a distraught figure in the centre of the park, taking in what had gone on around him. I do wonder if words were exchanged in the dressing room at full time, and towards whom, or whether it one where we have to recognise the calibre of the opposition and our own performances which are improving. 

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View from The Braemar – Josh celebrates (somewhere)

I guess the frustrating thing is not so much that we conceded a late goal after battering our opponents without reply – that’s just one of the many elements that make being a Brentford fan what it is – but more that it just seemed so needless.

The 4-3-3 that we’d employed to such good effect at Barnsley and then again last night, was ditched with the fat lady performing her vocal warm ups. Sergi was replaced by an additional centre back in Ethan Pinnock on 83 minutes as we switched defensive formation. Four minutes later, with the team already looking stretched despite the additional numbers in the back line, Andreas Weimann was given all the space he needed to get on the end of Jack Hunt’s long cross and leave Raya with no chance.

Bristol City had their chance. They took it. Well done. That’s how football works. We could, no should, have wrapped this one up against a well disciplined and solid team. Instead, that combination of great goalkeeping, intense defence and plain old ball luck kept them in it until the opportunity arose. And when it did, my word they grabbed it. The celebrations were as ecstatic as our own had been. Understandably so. Even then, Daniel Bentley still had to be on his game to keep things level, tipping over a dipping cross from Dalsgaard late on in the last meaningful move of the match. And that was it. 1-1. Full time.

Waking up on Thursday morning it was very much a case of the ‘D’ word to describe this one. ‘Disappointed’ rather than ‘deserved’. As in, to win. There were plenty of positives to be taken but a single point instead of the three we looked like taking for huge swathes of this game feels like the metaphorical nuts. It did last night and there’s still a numb feeling down there today. Metaphorically speaking.  When you can’t even find room, or motivation, to talk about the Kurupt FM takeover at Griffin Park then you know it’s been a hard one.

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Add your own punchline

But, we didn’t lose. The table has now ‘taken shape’ at the ten game mark and we are 15th. We are getting much better as new faces and returning heroes adjust to life without the likes of Sawyers, Bentley, Maupay and McEachran swell as each other. We have a trip to fourth placed Nottingham Forest on Saturday where, if we can hold our defensive shape and maintain the same level of positivity going forward, our rise up the table will continue. Probably. 

Brentford are six points off the promotion pack. I can’t wait for the weekend when we see if that gap can be further reigned in. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Will it be raining goals once more?

2 Oct

Hot on the heels of thumping Barnsley, Brentford host Bristol City on Wednesday evening in game 10 of a Championship season that will finally see the table have officially ‘taken shape’. Both teams know what a win could mean – for the Robins, a chance to enter the play off zone whilst another three points for The Bees should see us hit the top half of the table and overtake Birmingham City (who lost another one last night – good luck there, Josh).  Leeds United have retained top spot but despite their game being televised, I know I’m in shock too – I can imagine most neutral observers would have been watching Spurs in the Champions League. That one, of course, saw Tottenham suffer the indignity of a home bracketing as they went down 2- 7 (seven) to Bayern Munich.

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Looks familiar……

As ever, we can only start at Griffin Park. Sunday was as morale boosting as they come for Brentford. The performance – opening quarter aside – was about as dominant as they come. Barnsley weren’t even second and struggled to get close to us. Ollie was our hat-trick hero but there were plenty of superstars out there beyond the headline maker. He’s currently joint top scorer in the Championship with 7(seven) but if he wants to stride clear of Aleksander Mitrovic then he’s going to have to beat former colleague Daniel Bentley. Of course, now plying his trade at Ashton Gate following his sale to Bristol City over the summer.

That’s not going to be easy. In his three season at Griffin Park Daniel was, largely, magnificent. Sure, there were a few wobbles last season but on the whole he was about as good as we’ve seen between the sticks on TW8. I remember BBC Billy Reeves making a very early declaration that he was our best ever and, whilst time may have forced us to slightly redraw that balance when compared to the legend that is Wojciech Szczęsny (to this day, I still do now know how we pulled that one off) for me, Clive, he’s certainly in the top few. A great shot stopper with cat-like reactions who we’ll be doing well to find the back of the net against. Perhaps we just need to pump those crosses into the box and shout ‘punch’ in a West Country accent.

So who will win the battle of the badges tonight? Let’s hope our crest is the only Brentford thing the visitors try to emulate, based on our performance at the weekend. Or perhaps they could pick up where they left-off defensively – shipping three goals on the road in a draw at Preston that saw them surrender the lead twice. Personally, I’m calling this one as another win for the Bees. The formation at Oakwell suited us wonderfully and we all know what the widemen did where the pace was electric and the delivery pin-point.

I can’t wait for this one. The modern day Michael Fish at the BBC have promised us a break from the recent downpours whilst Griffin Park always feels that much more exciting when the floodlights are on. Walking past the ground this morning on the school run, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky although do pack your gloves. Sergi, I’m looking at you in particular.

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Could it be raining goals in West London tonight ?

The win is there to be grabbed and the table is about to have become the true barometer of our rival’s ability. The draw with Stoke City L can formally be deemed a disappointment (they went down, again, last night and are rock bottom on two points) whilst we’ve already taken on table toppers Leeds United and missed out narrowly. It’s going to be tight. It’s going to be tense. But it’s going to be fun. See you there.

And in true Columbo style, just one more thing. Or should that be 7(seven)? Spurs were humped by Bayern Munich last night, leaving to a chorus of boos after the German giants hit the magical bracket mark. As if going down by this many in your own back yard wasn’t bad enough, Tottenham even had the temerity to take the lead before allowing the floodgates to open.  And what a way to rain goals as the heavens opened.

Cue obligatory shots of fans sitting in solitude at full time  – is there any more wonderful a piece of camera work in world sport? A shot akin to the sudden zoom that follows two ‘treble-twentys’ in darts. The camera lurching forward in anticipation of capturing the 180 scoring arrow in extreme close up. Probably not. Unless you support the team that has just suffered that footballing humiliation. And last night, it was the Spurs players & supporters left typing “We go again” into their social media accounts.

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Nick Bruzon

The new era begins with some familiar themes. Can we go again?

21 Oct

What is there to say after that?  Frustrating. Niggly. Poor decision making Awkward. Just not quite firing on all cylinders. But enough about referee Robert Jones – the latest in a long line of stinkers to grace Griffin Park this season. With Dean Smith firmly ensconced at Aston Villa (who themselves beat Swansea), new Brentford head coach Thomas Frank saw his tenure begin with a 1-0 home defeat to Bristol City. This, after the Bees were reduced to ten men following a second yellow for Chris Mepham and then conceded the only goal of the game in the 89th minute. It was a game that started brightly for the Bees but soon settled into a lethargic vibe with Brentford just not savvy enough to avoid getting sucked into some cynical play from the visitors and the arbitrary card waving of a referee whose default setting had been switched to ‘Stroud’.

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B&W to protect the retinas from Bristol’s kit

We can moan about the ref but it’ll make no difference now. Chris Mepham’s second yellow seemed innocuous at best from where we sat. The subsequent video highlights from Sky don’t show anything more to support Mr. Jones’ decision. Unless, of course, there was some back-chat that he deemed significant enough to warrant this level of sanction. Yet this was par for the course on an afternoon, second period especially, where just about anything that could be given the wrong way, was. Where minimal protectin was offered to a Brentford side who – Kamo and Romaine in particular – came in for some harsh treatment from both opponents and officials .

What’s the problem with your flag, lino? Too heavy to lift up?” They’re not my words but those of the legend we simply refer to as ‘angry dad in the Braemar Road paddock. His rapier wit, constant keeping in the ear of the officials and dead-pan sarcasm are always a joy to behold.  And he was right. They were words which received a round of applause from all around.

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Free kick to Bristol City. They were also awarded a free kick.

Yet it is as important not to get sucked in to a game of blaming the officials for everything. Bristol City did their homework and had the ball in the net twice before Niclas Eliasson stroked home their eventual winner with the fourth official readying his board. Their young goalkeeper Max O’Leary had a debut to remember on the few occasions we did get shots away. And on the one instance he was beaten by Ollie Watkins diagonal shot, he was saved by the ball bouncing back off the inside of the post.

How it didn’t go in, I’ve still no idea. But it didn’t. Instead, it was another late goal given away (see also: Aston Villa and Leeds United) to deny Brentford point(s) that it seemed we would claim. Thomas Frank has wonderful talent at his disposal but sorting out the approach to late pressure and our own discipline is going to be as much a challenge for him as reaching the Premier League. That’s not to say he/we can’t overcome it. Moreso, with two away games to come in quick succession (Preston on Wednesday and the Norwich on Saturday) he has every opportunity available to get back to winning ways.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. Try the BBC, Beesotted, official etc. Probably a good thing too, based on yesterday. It was definitely one for the purists and best consigned to the statistical pages of history. Playing opponents we’ve had a great Championship record against, even Marinus Dijkuizen beat them, and the excitement of welcoming Thomas into the fold perhaps it could be said there was an air of, if not complacency, perhaps over-expectation. Well, there we go back down to earth with a bump.

There’s not much else to say on that one. So I won’t. See you at Norwich. And kudos to those of you on the midweek expedition to Preston. Here’s hoping you are rewarded with the points.

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A glorious afternoon. If not result

Nick Bruzon

As cup draw shows what might have been, where do you stand ?

21 Sep

As one last piece of fall out from the EFL cup defeat, Brentford fans now know who we would have been drawn against had we beaten Norwich City. With the Canaries having been handed the seemingly plum tie of a trip to Arsenal, I’ve seen several supporters bemoaning our own missing out on a trip to The Emirates stadium.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t even watch the draw this time around. The overly convoluted methodology used for rounds 1-3 had long since sapped any interest I may had had. That, and nothing to do with our capitulation against Norwich, were the reasons that an early night seemed an infinitely more palatable option. As such, it was a case of waking up to Arsenal this, draw that on my Twitter timeline this morning.

Yet at the case of formally labelling myself as the most boring man on the planet, rather than a visit to Arsenal the reward for a Brentford victory would (by my rough calculations) have been a home tie with Bristol City. And that’s assuming the balls had then been pulled in the same order.

The numerical sequencing (with Tuesday winners numbered 1-11) would have seen the Bees slot in at number 2 instead of Bristol City. They’d have taken the place of ball 3, Crystal Palace, and the tie that now sees the Robins host the Eagles would actually have seen them heading to Griffin Park for the chance to earn a quarter final slot.

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A fourth round with Arsenal, Bristol City and Norwich. But no Brentford

It’s all conjecture. Free to concentrate in the league until January, our own immediate future sees the trip to bottom club Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, followed by Tuesday night’s game with Derby County. It’s a shame from many respects as a fourth round tie at home to a fellow Championship club would have presented a wonderful chance of progress. Mind you, we’d have said the same prior to Norwich City visiting and look how that ended up. A 3-1 defeat and one of the worst penalties ever seen.

Head Coach Dean Smith has already said his piece on how the third round ended up, telling BBC Radio London: “It’s not relevant (in terms of morale) at all compared to Saturday.”

Whether he would be saying the same thing now, having seen how the draw has panned out I do wonder. Likewise, I’m surprised he doesn’t think a win would have been good for the buzz around Griffin Park. I guess that’s why I’m the numpty on the terrace and he’s the head coach.

Still, there’s no point crying over a split milk (cup). Norwich deserved it. We didn’t. Here’s to a morale boosting win on Saturday instead. Three points at The Macron now very much the order of the day and, as Dean also noted in that BBC piece, “Bolton is very important to us and we’ll have a lot of fresh players come back for that.”

I’m not going to avoid the elephant in the room here. As is typical in this situation, I’ve seen some supporters calling for a change. That Thomas Frank or King Kev should be parachuted into the head coach role. For the record, my own thoughts are anything but at present. Putting aside the constant references to bad luck, refereeing and our own ‘wonderful’ performances, this is not the time or the place.

With a set up that includes two directors of football and multiple coaches, we win or lose together. We’ve even had a specialist in the provision of strategy, leadership, cultural engagement and performance management solutions and skills join the board with the announcement yesterday that Monique Choudhuri has been named as a club director.

With our current football philosophy, one man should not be made the solitary scapegoat for current results. Nor should he take all the plaudits when things go well.

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#WelcomeMonique ?

Let’s not forget that over the summer we were told how wonderful the scouting set up had been in helping bring in all these wonderful new players. And we have undoubtedly picked up some real gems over the last few seasons. Albeit it’s quite understandable that Dean is the focal point for how things go on the pitch. That his role is to pick the best team for the job. To have a consistent side. To motivate them. A side selected from the players he has had made available to him by our set up. And in my opinion, on Tuesday he got that all wrong.

Equally, his role is to get the best out of what he has. To say the right things when results don’t quite go to plan. I don’t get the ‘self-pity’ excuse thing. I don’t agree that we are yet to play a team better than us in the league. Four draws and four defeats tell you everything you need to know on that front. But I do think he is coming under an undue amount of flak at present. He is a head coach that has guided us to top ten Championship finishes over his two seasons in charge. For a club that has made no secret of the need to sell to survive.

If Dean can settle on his best XI, and pick it. If Dean can find a Plan B rather than subs by number or giving those like for like entrants to the field of play just a few minutes when the game is all but lost. If he can get some luck on the fitness side where the returns of Sergi Canos and Lasse Vibe alone would be huge, then expect things to change.

Roll on this week’s press conferences. I’m not a journalist but, if I was , my first question to Dean would be – who is your starting XI if everybody is fit? Followed closely by, when are we going to get a win?

Here’s to the weekend when hopefully we can find out.

Barbet pen Norwich

Tuesday happened. Move along

Nick Bruzon