Tag Archives: Ronaldo

Brilliant Brentford batter United.

14 Aug

Is this what they mean by ‘second season syndrome’? Saturday evening saw Brentford write yet another incredible chapter in a story which continues to leap from the pages of a Hollywood movie script. If last season’s home opener against Arsenal had been a nice kick about with the boys, this was a full on bullying. A 4-0 spanking of Manchester United was a performance to rival the destruction of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season. The Bees utterly dominant and scoring goals for fun. Each attack leading to another one on the board and, in the end, the only disappointment being that we didn’t make it to the 7(seven) goal bracketing of United that seemed more than possible with little more than half an hour played. Frank out !!  

At least in the Chelsea game our hosts had been vaguely involved. On Saturday, Brentford didn’t allow Manchester United the chance to even step foot in the game. The Bees on them from the off. Even the camaraderie seen in our pre kick-off huddle compared to our visitor’s standing around listlessly in their puke green kits telling you all you needed to know about the mental approach. There were points to be both won and proven here. The narrative around Christian Eriksen allegedly ‘saving our season‘ (yawn) being put to bed in a style that even the good people at Dormeo would have appreciated. 

What came next was like nothing seen at Lionel Road. The ferocity of approach up there with the play-off semi. United on the back foot from the off. Brentford hounding their rivals. Running with the ball. Passing it around with aplomb. Mathias Jensen on fire. Christian Eriksen greeted with a cacophony of boos every time he got near the ball. What must he be thinking now? “Left for the money” sung the crowd, amongst other things. He’s walked in to a living nightmare and one which only got worse with every passing minute.  Man U? More like Manure.

Within ten minutes, Brentford were ahead. Josh Dasilva receiving the ball from Jensen, drifting across to a shooting position and lashing it low from well outside the box. David de Gea should have stopped it but instead, all he could do was let it squeeze through him and into the back of the net. It was a good shot and let’s also credit the build up of pressure as a contributory factor. David Raya at the other end seeing his squad position for Spain moving up another notch.  

Credit, too, for the way Jensen took the ball off Roanldo to provide the assist. The tantrum prone stropmeister then left sitting on his haunches for a good 30 seconds after the ball had hit the back of the net. Like Eriksen, all his nightmares coming true. Unlike Eriksen, he had no fight. No stomach for a battle. Instead of getting up to inspire his team his game descended into a series of theatrical dives and hissy fits. One thumping of the pitch in frustration having the entire North stand in fits of laughter. 

An overprivileged show pony who should have been leading by example. Instead, his petulance and ego only contributing to United’s demise.

Get over yourself, Ronaldo

But if Josh had put us into dreamland with that early goal it was nothing compared to what came next. Jensen doubling the lead after de Gea played a woeful pass out of defence to Eriksen ( think Alvaro Fernandez at Anfield levels of bad) who was sold totally up the river. Jensen reacting quickest and cleverest to nick the ball and with a beautiful shimmy, create the space for 2-0. The cheers as loud as the Bees were brilliant. 

Two became three as Ivan Toney plopped it straight on to Ben Mee’s head in a crowded box and then, with 34 minutes gone, the pick of the bunch. Jensen again at the heart of everything. He won the ball off of Jaden Sancho in our box and played a delightful ball half up the pitch straight to Toney. His own first touch then delivering an exquisite raking pass on the diagonal straight to the feet of the on running Mbeumo. Luke Shaw’s clumsy challenge on th edge of the box evaded and the ball stroked home for 4-0. FOUR. NIL. Brentford 4-0 up against Manchester United with little more than a half hour played. My word. 

There it stayed until half-time. I genuinely expected United to come back out in different kits, blaming the shirt colour for blending in with the grass as the true reason for the absolute shoeing they’d received. Instead, there was more of that vile green which I’ll be amazed should it ever see ther light of day again. Equally, I expected them to come out at 100mph – Erik ten Hag having delivered the mother of all team talks. Instead, there was nothing. Sure, a bit more endeavour but no real chances. Instead, Aaron Hickey showing that his flattening of Ronaldo meant that we weren’t going to roll over in the second period.   

4-0 it stayed. It could have been more. Probably should have been more. Yet to be upset with ‘only’ ending the game third in the Premier League and with one of our greatest results ever under the belt would be nothing short of churlish. The full time celebrations showing just what it meant to everyone inside the stadium. That Manchester United were terrible is their problem. You still have to beat your opponents and Brentford did it in a style that made the world sit up and take notice. 

Full time as enjoyable as ever

One had to feel for their supporters. Obliterated by Brentford and their misery further compounded by the RMT strike meaning all trains back to Surrey were cancelled.

Or, should that be, almost all their supporters. Professional gobshite Terry Christian was still giving it large before the game. This, despite last season’s gloating having already blown up spectacularly in his face. Some people never learn. 

Still, that’s his problem. For me and for Brentford fans it was another beautiful afternoon. Another of those times you have to pinch yourself to see just how far we’ve come. Ten years ago we were drawing 0-0 with Bury at Gigg Lane. I was there for that one and now, well….  

It was demonstration that all the money in the world counts for naff all when you are that shambolic. That, ultimately, you cannot put a price on team spirit and mindset. 

All the talk coming into the game was about Christian Eriksen. All the talk coming out of it was about Mathias Jensen. He was incredible. Let’s not pretend otherwise. The star man awards (how to pick 5 out of 16 I have no idea) are now up and you can find them here. Otherwise, perhaps might just go and watch Match Of The Day once more. Think we may be first up. 

Jensen – a work of art

Nick Bruzon

Footballing gods serve up a chance for instant payback on Saturday. How will it go?

12 Aug

Saturday evening is almost here. Brentford host Manchester United in our first home game of the season. A game going out live across the world on TV. A game that sees us with a superb opportunity to carry on where we left off at Leicester City. A squad further boosted by the wonderful double news of Mikkel Damsgaard signing and then being revealed wearing our new third shirt. Our opponents, meanwhile, still smarting from their own opening day home humbling at the hands of Brighton and Hove Albion – (C) The Middlesex Chronicle Big Book of 80s alliterative headlines / Jim Levack. All the focus should be on the wonderful occasion it is sure to be. Yet, the footballing gods being what they are, the game has served up a further twist in the interminable tale that is the Christian Eriksen transfer saga. That, of course, being our first game back at Lionel Road will see him turning out once more – albeit this time in Puke green (if you believe the photos of United’s new ‘third’ shirt) rather than red and white. So let’s get that out the way and then move on. Hopefully forever.   

 

Damsgaard – new player ; new shirt

Nobody could deny the excitement in the air last season as the stories started to build that we may be making what was seen (then) as an audacious bid to help Christian pick up his career after that thing at the Euros. The thought of attracting a World Class player to Brentford just about as impossible as things get but that’s what we always do – make the impossible possible.

It was more tantalising a prospect given that, at the time, we were definitely in a form dip. The injury to David Raya along with fixture congestion and covid cases meant the early season juggernaut had very much hit the buffers. Norwich City. Burnley. Southampton. Brighton. Just some of the names that spring to mind. Then Christian came in, got his fitness back and his introduction to the starting XI coincided with our return to winning ways. Chelsea. West Ham. Watford. Burnley. Just some of the names that spring to mind. Ironically, the one real poor performance being the one against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Very much a ‘no show’ when our hosts were there for the taking.

Happy days at Chelsea

Anyway, long story short the narrative built up in the media is that Eriksen saved Brentford’s season. And to that I say bollocks. There’s no doubt he gave us a HUGE boost. That he was quite wonderful for the Bees. That a starting XI with him in it would always have been the selection of choice. He was amazing. He was a breath of fresh air. He was skill on a stick with that calmness and passing range one could only aspire to.  Yet he wasn’t the only factor.

From where I was sitting, it was undoubtedly the return of David Raya that was THE single key factor which – if you had to name one thing that ‘saved our season’ – we should be looking at. Suddenly, our opponents discovered that goal scoring was an aspiration rather than a gimme (Oh, that third against Liverpool is still the stuff of nightmares). Suddenly the defence were calm again. Were confident. Suddenly the distribution had returned. Rather than sitting on the back foot we had the ability to build attacks from our own 18 yard box.

I’d also cite Wissa finding his feet. The performances of Rico Henry and Christian Norgaard. Ivan Toney scoring for fun once more. Vitaly Janelt. Yes, Eriksen inspired and helped but the players had it already. The players had showed early doors we weren’t just here to make up the numbers. Hey, even the green jacket had a role to play. Don’t knock it – I bet there’ll be more than a few of us pulling on the magic pants on Saturday morning

just some of the factors that put a late spring in our step

All of us which then brings us to the weekend and Manchester United. There’s been a lot of talk about how we ‘greet’ Christian. Polite applause on warm up and then boo the hell out of him seems to be the popular consensus on social media. I make no pretence that I’m still hurting massively. Not so much that he left for Old Trafford  – his decision to go for money and carnage is a personal one and that’s an individual’s choice. Few of us could resist the sort of figures being talked up in the press so let’s not pretend otherwise. 

More, it was the manner in which it all played out. We’d taken a chance. We’d formed what seemed, at face value, a beautiful relationship. Christian was king of the castle. The fans loved him. The players fed off him. He got back to winning ways. There was the obvious Danish connection. Then, what was always only a six month contract expired. Again, we knew this was going to happen. It was made clear from the off. Yet seeing how things had played out – so beautifully for both parties – there was a genuine belief amongst the fans that his signing on the dotted line would be a formality. Instead, there was nothing. Nothing.

Days turned to weeks. The list of potential suitors moving from the obvious – Spurs (the history)  and Newcastle (and their dumper truck full of money )  – to the ridiculous – Everton and Leicester City. All along, Brentford still being mentioned in tandem until the bookies dropped us like a stone.  Manchester United entered the mix but still nothing. No news. No updates. No decision. Like playing poker with a brick wall – nobody could read anything. The Bees back in the race all of a sudden as Spurs were deemed persona non grata. It was down to the two of us until, eventually, the stories started to leak that he had signed. Albeit nothing official. Nothing out of Old Trafford for another two weeks until, eventually, the news we’d all feared was confirmed. 

Good luck to him. At least we can all move on. And in the signing of Mikkel Damsgaard we certainly can. The man that replaced him in the Euros now replacing him at Lionel Road. Yet the manner it all played out in still feels raw. As we’ve said before, like Jota joining Birmingham City. We love our heroes. Worship them. We know they move on. That’s life. That’s football. Yet to remain tight lipped for so long. To then not even say farewell, beyond some crappy Instagram post that may aswell not even have bothered getting out of bed, it had already overslept for so long. To read all that talk about wanting Champions League football. Hmm.

So yes, my heart IS broken. It shouldn’t be but I’m a football fan. I’m emotional. He didn’t ‘save us’ but he was amazing. I’ll never forget Chelsea and Watford away. Or Norwich away. Or Burnley home. Any of them. Good, good times ad the smile will return in time. For now, though, I still feel like we’ve been dumped for the attractive girl who we can all see is a bit of a nightmare. And it hurts.

its over

I won’t be booing Christian. I’ll be booing all of them. If he plays / comes on then so be it. I can’t stand any of that self-entitled nonsense that goes with anything Old Trafford related. All that Fergie gumph. All that belief amongst their fans that they’ve a divine right to be competing at the very top because they used to be any good. The instant sacking of head coaches. Cripes, I thought we gave our manager a ridiculously hard time but that’s nothing compared to some of the crap you read. The worshipping of the man-boy Ronaldo.

Ah, who could forget his hissy fit at Lionel Raod last season? He didn’t even make the starting XI against Brighton. The complete antithesis of a team player. He may get the goals but the disruption to broader team play that trying to channel it through him does is clear for all. Not that it helped dropping him on Sunday. 

If anything , this, rather than Eriksen will provide the real sideshow on Saturday.

strop, strop, stop

Brentford will never have a better chance to beat Manchester United than on Saturday. Our confidence is high. We have new kits and that wonderful, wonderful new signing in Damsgaard. Our opponents seem to be in disarray. Lionel Road will be rocking. The first home game is always loud – just ask Arsenal – but I’ve got a feeling this one will be ten, times better. More than a few people – and players – with points to prove.

I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there.

Until then, here’s the recap from Sunday and the performance at Leicester City…

Nick Bruzon

Double fantasy points to one result. Could it happen?

2 May

Four Premier League games to go. Brentford about to face Manchester United in a top flight fixture. Bees with their tails up following an unbeaten April that included the 4-1 trashing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and culminated in last weekend’s 0-0 with Tottenham. A game which, even now, seems bizarre that we ‘only’ took one point. Life is good. Further enhanced by Everton winning yesterday – something which has put the relegation cat amongst the pigeons. All of a sudden Leeds United finding destiny outside of their own hands. That final fixture of the season could be huge. All that’s to come, though. For now we need to focus on matters at hand. Namely our own top ten aspirations and a trip to Old Trafford.

This one really has it all to play for. A win for Brentford will take us to tenth in the table with just three games to play. Manchester United are eating dinner in the last chance saloon if Champions’ League qualification is the aspiration. Like Watford at the other end, only maths are keeping them alive. 8 points from fourth place with three games to play. The Bees with a wonderful chance to pull the plug on their life support before the inevitable blow is dealt by one of the many tams above them winning an actual game. With the Theatre of Dreams (TM) more a place of nightmares at present, there will never be a better chance. Morale seems to be worse than that of the studio audience at a live recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys as Brendan O’Carroll fluffs his lines once more and they need to go again. Will the torture ever end?

For Brentford, there was great news in that both Kris Ajer and Christian Norgaard are expected to return. Magnificent though their respective covers did in the Spurs game, I can’t imagine Thomas Frank will mess around with making them fight for their place. Both players are just too good to leave on the bench if they are fit. Hardly cutting edge insight, granted, but at this point in the season the line up is largely settled and the team – now working around the magnificent Christian Eriksen – are on fire.

View from the away end – Christian shows how much it means at Chelsea

All the predictions of doom and gloom continue to be thrown back in the faces of those who utter them. 20th was the call before the season began. Relegation was the call as we hit that mid-winter blip. Even as recently as Saturday afternoon the team line up prompted reactions such as ‘Where are the centre backs’ and ‘Just seen the line-up. Time to stick a straw straight into a bottle of gin’. Again, the critics left with copious amounts of egg on face as Brentford again did what we’ve been doing all season.

Tonight will be no different. My online bookmaker (used purely for research purposes) has Brentford at 18/5. Manchester United 22/31. To be fair, a lot tighter than games against the clubs chasing Europe normally are but still a clear winner has been targeted by the bookies. And? It’s nothing new. We have the spirit. We have the form. We have the passion and the ability to pull it out the bag as seen at Chelsea. At West Ham. Against Liverpool, and Arsenal. That never say die spirit that has kept us going until the last kick of every game. Blood and guts turning draws into wins. 

And we have a green jacket. Cinderella, you shall go to the ball. After missing out on this one for a whole plethora of reasons, an 11th hour saviour has sailed in to view. Now, there is the offer of a return trip and a ticket. Jurassic Park!! I’m in. As the message went: “ I need to know if the green jacket will be making an appearance…

It has now been worn six times at games. It has seen 16 points. 

Norwich (a) W.

Burnley (h) W.

Chelsea (a) W

West Ham (h) W

Watford (a) W

Tottenham (h) D  – albeit worn by Mrs B due to yours truly’s enforced absence.

Could this luckiest of lucky totems inspire further glory? Or is it just down to Christian Eriksen? A mere coincidence that the run has matched those games he has started for Brentford.

En-route to another three points. This time, Watford.

As for Manchester United, they give the impression of a team intent on shooting themselves in the foot time and again. Only Cristiano Ronaldo, that talismanic tour de force, with his unpredictability and almost super human talent, able to offer any vague hope of salvation at the moment. A player who despite his own desperately sad personal news in recent works, still drives onwards. Still pulls the goals out the bag and the team out of the mire.

As we’ve said on the pages many times, an 18 month spell working in Manchester back in 2007-08 meant that I was often that most odious of species – an Old Trafford football tourist. The cliches about fans living down South all true as a colleague, who shared a pair of season tickets with three fans from London, often found he had a spare for midweek games. If Brentford weren’t playing at the likes of Accrington Stanley (coldest. away game. ever), Bury or Stockport County then what else was there to do of an evening? Amongst other visits I was there for the night Ronaldo defied logic and gravity to score ‘that’ free kick against Portsmouth. It is ability of that level that still sets the alarm bells off, even now – fourteen years later.

Still. That was then. This is now. Last night I had a strange dream (involving the fact that I somehow watched the game on Sky 24 hours before kick off) that Brentford win 3-1. Then, our Harry got up from bed, came out of his room and the first thing he said to me was, “Dad – we’re going to win 3-1 tonight.” .

Insert Twilight zone jingle. The go directly back to the bookie’s website for some further research. Undue optimism or is there something in the air? At 35/1, it would seem churlish not to have a nibble. Will it come off? I can’t wait to find out. See you there. Have jacket, will travel.

Until then, here’s the Tottenham catch up and player review….

Nick Bruzon 

Will this be the best deal on deadline day? Are we safe?

31 Aug

Deadline day is here. For unbeaten Brentford (the 1-1 at Aston Villa on Saturday making it WDD from our August Premier league fixtures) there is an unusual lack of speculation. This time of year should be sponsored by Anusol, such is the amount of itchy bum time felt at Lionel Road. There’s normally at least one of our top names linked with a move outside the club. Yet even Ivan Toney’s name has barely been mentioned this time around, despite our main man getting off the mark on Saturday at Villa Park. Instead, all the talk as the window prepares to ‘slam shut’ (TM)  has been around Manchester City, Manchester United – something, something, something Cristiano Ronaldo –  and the possibility of Daniel James leaving them for Leeds United (one of ten clubs currently below Brentford in the top flight). 

Celebrations after taking the lead at Villa. Another top-flight point the eventual reward

I don’t like it. The quiet, I mean. By now we should have complete faith in our directors of football. And, to be fair, I do. Yet that doesn’t make it any easier. Certainly, as an outsider looking in. Old habits die hard and having seen our loyalty tested so many times over the years, despite the fact that in recent times things have always gotten better as the replacements bed in, it doesn’t do anything to dispel those lingering doubts that somebody could rock up with a nuclear sized bid that it would be impossible to ignore. Such is the amount of cash currently sloshing around English, and European, football.

The Dean Holdsworth / Murray Jones ‘deal’ the one which we go back to time and again. Yet something that stands out as the the bit of business, if one can call it that, to show how hard it has been for Brentford to retain / attract talent over the years. Of course things are different now but that doesn’t stop the little devil from tapping on the shoulder. In football just about anything is possible when a dumper truck full of money turns up at the front door. Even as recently as the Birmingham City firesale in 2017, late exits have still delivered the mother load of unexpected shocks. Maxime Colin – gone. Jota – gone. Harlee Dean – gone. Insert ten times better comment.   

Time is a great healer

Honestly, it feels too late for anything to happen now. We’ve no intent, need or desire to sell. The start to Premier League life has been a more than positive one. Unbeaten and only one goal against. That, in Saturday’s draw with Aston Villa. It was a game yours truly missed due to a long overdue few days holiday and, instead, Match Of The Day was the place for source material on that one. It was another point and could have been three. Oh, Vitaly Janelt. Ingenuity and optimism that, despite the rules, was worth a punt in the spur of the moment. David Raya at the other end seeming to keep us in it on more than one occasion. 

Yet despite all the positivity on pitch, and inward movement being lined up off it, old habits die hard. Over an hour watching Sky Sports News last night (prior to changing channels for a fascinating ‘fly-on-the’wall’ documentary about weddings) revealed nothing beyond the fact that we are looking to move Joel Valencia out on loan. That was it for the Bees. No mention of Ivan Toney. Nothing. Not even a whisper. 

Instead, it was all Manchester City discussion now Harry Kane has confirmed he is staying put in the short term and Manchester United. The Ronaldo story about as exciting as they come but, in fact, the outward movement of Daniel James to Leeds United could be one of the shrewdest bits of business over the summer. 

£30m the price for a 23 year old who destroyed the Championship at Swansea City, has already got 74 appearances for the Red Devils under his belt and has been long coveted by Marcelo Bielsa. His powerpoint on the Welsh International must be one bursting with positive feedback and he could be a game changer at Elland Road. Certainly, a signing I’m watching with envious eyes in terms of a divisional rival picking up a player who could slot into any team with the potential to be devastating from the off. Cripes, our Harry is still traumatised by his game-changing wonder goal in the FA Cup fifth round a few seasons back….

The Daniel James impact. Brutal

We know our model. Honestly, how many supporters could say they knew much about Frank Onyeka or Yoanne Wissa prior to them joining the Bees? See also: Jota, Benrahma, Mbeumo et al. Ronaldo and Daniel James are oven ready household names. The sort of players that come with a huge cost, huger expectation and the ability to be immediate game changers. With the exception of Pontus Jansson, and perhaps Kris Ajer, we remain masters of tapping into the unknown. Those players tracked well in advance. Players who can do the business despite remaining largely off the broader radar. Shrewd acquisitions rather than five star names. 

Aston Villa have done similar. Their own business over the window lined up early to replace Manchester City bound Jack Grealish. For me, Clive, they are the ones to have come out of the latest round of wheeler-dealing ahead of the rest. So far. Emi Buendia in particular. We’re well familiar with what he can do from last season. There was more of the same on Saturday. As long as we can resist any 11th hour offers then Brentford could well be saying similar. Although if anybody at Lionel Road wants to do a bit more shopping then nobody would complain. 

Just as long as that ‘out door’ stays firmly shut. Just 16 hours to go. And counting……

Pontus – our most high profile signing in years and still a Bee

Nick Bruzon

From Cristiano to Henrik via Rio. And more shirt news…

16 Jun

Ruddy hell – the World Cup ! Just where do you start? Having been upstaged in the Champions League final by Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo stuck it to his Real Madrid team mates in some style last night as Portugal drew 3-3 with Spain in a game that, on a personal note, also served as a timely reminder of yours truly briefly dabbling with Manchester United. In the loosest sense. Elsewhere, today sees the magnificent four game spread that also offers Brentford fans a chance to catch our man in action. Henrik Dalsgaard and his Denmark team face off with Peru on a day that sees games running from 11am right through to the conclusion of Croatia-Nigeria around 10 pm tonight. And on a Brentford note, there’s also shirt news imminent. Monday is the day….

First up, Portugal. Specifically, Ronaldo. He’s a genius. Pure and simple. So consistently incredible. Never failing to pull it out of the bag when it counts. Even the most churlish amongst us could only sit back and admire what he did last night. Even with the posturing, the preening and the strutting around like a coked up peacock. Despite all this, the sheer audacity of the man and his ability with a football still shone through. It was a performance that would have had Alan Partridge foaming at the mouth. That was liquid football and then some. Sheer brilliance.

The one down side to all of this was Rio Ferdinand in the BBC studio. It’s impossible not to like Rio. A legend for his country and a quite remarkable human being given the personal situation he’s been through. He always talks passionately about the game and with enthusiasm. Yet therein lies part of the puzzle. He doesn’t half go on about it. Clanggggg, The sound of another name being dropped. If he mentioned that he’d played with Ronaldo once he must have done it a dozen times. Nutritionists. Training. Manchester United. Fergie’s opinion. At home with Cristiano. We had it all.

There’s form here. Back in Brazil 2014 it was the same. Manchester United this. Manchester United that. I didn’t realise he’d won the Champion’s League. If only somebody had said.

Rio panel

Who could forget Rio, in Rio? World Cup 2014

Of course an ex-player is going to draw on their experience. That’s only natural and, to be fair, helps paint a picture of what we see going on. It gives an insight into something we might not have visibility of in the normal course of events. Just perhaps tone it down a little bit. Please. The past is great but there’s very much a present going aswell with a quite ridiculous game of football being played out last night. I’d love to have heard more about that. Not just from Rio but the panel where much of half time was devoted to features about England rather than dissecting the first half and the earlier games where those of us just coming in from work would likely have missed.

The brilliance of Ronaldo also detracted from two quite delicious goals score by Spain. Diego Costa levelling thing ups at 1-1, executing a wonderfully hit shot after holding off two defenders for what felt like an eternity. Yet it was nothing compared to the sweetest of volleys that Nacho fired home to give Spain a 3-2 lead. Rio and the panel were rightly purring about this one afterwards as the Spaniard wrapped his foot around a rising ball to swerve it hard and low past the ‘keeper and in off the post from outside the box. It was a stunner. A thing of beauty. To quote Partridge once more, He must have a foot like a traction engine.

And then Cristiano stepped up to score ‘that’ free kick and steal all the headlines with just minutes left on the clock. Whatever else you may think or say about him, and many have, there’s no denying he certainly has a sense of occasion   

With a free kick given in the heart of Saunders territory, there was an inevitability about what would happen next. Sure enough, he lifted it up and over the wall before it dipped into the back of the net. Yet in a moment of clarity, I knew it would happen. I’ve been there before. Ten years or so back I spent an 18 month secondment up in Manchester. For a Brentford fan, this was great. The likes of Bury, Rochdale, Stockport County and Accrington Stanley (never have I been so cold at an away game) were all on the doorstep. As was Old Trafford.

There were no split loyalties here. Aside from the fact the chances of our paths crossing were slim to zero, I was on tourist duty. Doing it for the love of football. Whilst weekends would see me in London and at Griffin Park, a Tuesday night would quite often afford one the chance to take in a local game. And with so many United season ticket holders living down South and unable to make it, there was usually a spare going around the office. Why not? It was that or watch Coronation Street.

One such was the game against Portsmouth. A 2-0 win for United but more importantly, once which provided a moment that stuck with me since. Cristiano Ronaldo scoring ‘that’ free kick from last night. Ten years earlier. It looked incredible then. It still does. Last night’s effort was a reminder of just how consistently good he has been throughout his career. To still pull tricks like that out of the bag even now. And at 33, I’d imagine there’s a few more of those to come.

Cristiano has done this before..

That was then, this is now. Waking up on Saturday morning, it’s his name all over the radio. He’s the one making the headlines on the sports pages. But tomorrow could it be Henrik Dalsgaard we are reading about?

-1I can’t wait to see our man in action. For those of us who are a bit longer in the tooth it’s quite ridiculous. The thought of Brentford having a player at the World Cup is bonkers. But I love it. If only because it shows just how well our set up and transfer model is working. Despite the confusion and frustration at times. Despite the short term heartache of that summer sale. Here is the proof. Likewise, Andreas Bjelland was desperately unlucky to miss out. Panini even going so far as including him in their World Cup sticker book.

Good luck today, Henrik. If you are reading (you aren’t) know that this little corner of West London will be cheering you on. I’ll watch as much of the World Cup as possible anyway. Yet now there’s even more incentive. Roll on 5pm.

And finally, Monday is the day. Yes, England are playing but in our house it’s something even more exciting. The Brentford ‘away’ shirt is launched. We’ve already had the sneak peak pic released this week. Now, we’re just 48 hours away from seeing this for real.

I can’t even begin to speculate what this is going to look like. I’ve run it through photoshop, played with the light settings and filters but it’s giving nothing away. Instead, we’ll just have to sit back in anticipation and await the reaction. I’ve got a feeling this is going to be interesting though.

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 09.01.52

David Hunt – the biggest come back since Lazarus

And finally, I know I bang on about this a lot but my season reviews containing the least bad of the columns and some new content are now available for download.

The reason I bang on about this is because all proceeds raised are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. We all know about the great work they do whilst my own son has now started Saturday morning football training at one of their sessions. And he loves it. As such, I’d love to try and do something in return.

As additional incentive, I’d like to give one of you this ‘unavailable to the general public’ Brentford FC third shirt from 2017/18. I’ve got hold of it from a source close to the club and am giving it away to one supporter by means of a draw. All you have to do is download the 2017/18 season review (or the five-year compendium) to enter the draw that will take place at the end of the month – just DM/ tweet me the download confirmation email by June 30th and we’ll pick a lucky winner.

You can download Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18 . In addition, all five seasons of the Last Word (previously available individually) have been bundled together in one giant volume. There’s a lot to plough through… There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 is also available.

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THANK YOU

Nick Bruzon

 

 

 

Can Adidas and Juventus provide inspiration for Brentford?

6 Jun

It’s only Tuesday and I’m climbing the walls already. Say what you want about Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo and The Champions League but their win over Juventus on Saturday at least gave us one final taste of club football. But now that really is it until August. With tumbleweed blowing through Griffin Park at present the wait to see/ hear anything from Brentford seems, as it stands, an interminable one.

It was a final that had it all. Goals, oh those stunning goals. Open, attacking play. Sergio Ramos doing the unspeakable; Cristiano Ronaldo doing the amazing, yet again. No matter how much you want this pantomime villain to fall flat on his face, has there ever been a footballer so full of self-belief in his own ability? So consistently skillful? For every bit of strutting, posing or crying he delivers it back tenfold in goals. It’s amazing to think he is a year older than Wayne Rooney. They linked up for years at Manchester United but whilst one has stagnated and regressed, the other has gone on and on to consistently greater heights.

But we digress. I’m not here to blow smoke up Ronaldo’s backside. The final was the last flicker of a wonderful season that is now consigned to the record books. But it did get me thinking about Brentford whilst I was subsequently sniffing around the Internet, looking up various nuggets of information on the respective teams. Specifically Juventus, whose new kit is causing somewhat of a stir.

Like Brentford, they’ve redesigned their crest for the forthcoming season. Gone are the stripes and the charging bull synonymous with Turin (and a motif that that also appears on the shirt of city rival Torino) . It has been replaced by a simple graphic of a J which apparently took a year to come up with and “Is a symbol of the Juventus way of living”. Got to love a bit of marketing speak.

Personally, I hated it at first but it has grown on me somewhat. Especially compared to its somewhat busy predecessor. Sound familiar? I do wonder if there are any Juve fans who claim it looks more like a letter K?

Like Brentford, Juventus also use Adidas as a technical sponsor and, it would be fair to say, their forthcoming kit is a stunner. Although, for the record, it has no stripes on the back ! It was the picture of this that I saw yesterday which has me salivating.

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Images of the new Juventus shirt are now doing the rounds

It is similar to this year’s wonderful Brentford effort, but with a balance of black and white that should have every supporter purring. The round neck collar and button down effect adds a real retro touch whilst the stripes down the side, (which you can’t really see on this picture although the internet has plenty ) are one of the more recent Adidas innovations. But a great one.

So the question is, with this benchmark set how will Adidas fare for Brentford when our own effort is revealed? If I wan’t already keen for Mark Devlin to start his now traditional strip tease before, having seen this I’m now desperate. It’s a thing of sartorial excellence. Ronaldo may have got his hands on the cup but he’ll never look this good.

Is it too much to hope we could have something similar? I remain a huge advocate of our 2016/17 shirt but even I would happily admit that this one, in red and white, would blow it off the (Griffin) Park. So much so that using some cruddy photoshop skills I’ve tried to recreate it just to see how we could, theoretically, look. And apologies for the poor quality, but you try doing this at six in the morning.

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Cruddy photoshop but you get the jist. Possibly

As for the away shirt, well if we’re playing fantasy football at present then I would refer you back to another Adidas effort.

This time, that of Real. Although Betis rather than Madrid. Specifically their 2015/16 special to celebrate the week of the Andalusian Woman. One of my favourite efforts in recent years, I’d love to see how this looked with the Brentford badge on it.

It’ll never happen. But one can dream.

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It’s green. It’s pink. It’s brilliant

Along with dreaming about kit, the other traditional thing at this time of year is the plugging of the season review e-book. Please. Stay with me – this time around it is for a great cause . All funds raised from downloads of Welcome Home, King Jota are being given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Likewise, any subsequent sales from the previous versions.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17 and a bit of new material too, you can pick it up here. It’s all for a great cause and, hey, you may even enjoy it.

So PLEASE. Do something great to help our club. What else will £1.99 get you? What better way to spend some time on the daily commute, the beach, by the pool or even hiding out in the toilet at work?

For less than the cost of half a pint on match day, it’s the season review that has been designed to fit in your pocket (if you are using an i-phone).

If nothing else, Father’s Day is approaching. Just saying….

Nick Bruzon

Bees, Dragons, Saints and Imps. As one dream dies, another continues

7 Jul

What a night and what a result. Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar set up a Champions League qualifying tie with Celtic after sweeping aside FC Flora Tallinn 0f Estonia 2-0 ( 3-2 aggregate). In other news, Portugal edged past Wales to reach the final of EURO 2016 whilst, for Brentford fans, could the new Southampton shirt offer cause for optimism/fear?

We’ll start, briefly, in Gibraltar where the local champions set up that intriguing encounter for Brendan Rodgers in his first competitive game as the new Celtic manager. What’s this got to do with me, you may ask? Well, aside from personal pride you may recall that Brentford owner Matthew Benham’s other team, FC Midtjylland, locked horns with the Imps at this stage last season.

After a hard fought first leg the Danes eventually ran out 3-0 winners but, it would be fair to say, performances have stepped up even more since then. With a huge swathe of the national team (who of course scored their first competitive goal against Scotland) representing the Imps, anybody taking this one as a foregone conclusion would be urged to think again.

Next up , Brentford. With supporters awaiting the first news about our new kit (which, of course, has been hinted at coming out later this week), Southampton have released their latest incarnation.

Again, something which on the surface may not have much to do with us but I’m always intrigued by how manufacturers can provide a new twist on red and white stripes. And, it would be fair to say, The Saints have done that.

Southampton

A shirt that may well divide fans

Along with the stripes, technical sponsor Under Armour appear to have incorporated some sort of bra motif into the shoulder panels. The closest thing I can compare it to is our own Osca 83-84  – the one with the all white top half.

Initial shock has slowly turned into begrudging admiration. I’m not sure I’d be overly pleased if Mark Devlin was to reveal this as our new design but you can’t deny it’s different. Besides, with nothing this outlandish in the Adidas catalogue, I can only imagine we’re at least a few seasons away from anything this unusual.

The other point of note around this is: manufacturers blurb. According to the website, “The stripes appear in blocks of five to represent Southampton’s five core brand values.”. Although it fails to note what these values are. Let’s hope that when our new design is revealed to the world, we avoid such nonsense.

And , finally, the Welsh dream is over. It was a stunning effort to get as far as they did and, for a while, looked as though the game was going to go all the way though extra time and beyond. In the end though, it was ‘that man’ who proved the difference.

Say what you want about Cristiano Ronaldo – and many have, myself included – but the power and technique in the header for the opening goal, which he connected with at a height of 7ft 10″,  could only be applauded.

The less said about his subsequent celebration (or that bizarre spearmint coloured kit), the better.

Nick Bruzon

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Osca 83-84. Better than spearmint. No core values

 

 

Who will win : Gareth v Charlie? And is there a knock on for Lionel Road?

25 Jun

There was double news out of Griffin Park yesterday. Josh McEachran is alive and (seemingly) well as he launched the club’s 2016/17 training gear whilst Brentford have announced another pre-season friendly. In the Euros , Wales v Northern Ireland is the big one today (although Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal side may argue otherwise as they take on Croatia and Poland begin proceedings against Switzerland).

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Will Cristiano provide the highlights this weekend?

Yesterday was, without a doubt, one of the craziest days I’ve ever lived through. This column isn’t about politics and I don’t intend to overly dwell there now. There is enough great material out there for those wanting to vent their spleen, smack their head in disbelief or celebrate what has been deemed by the ‘out’ camp as, seemingly, ‘taking our country back’ (to the dark ages?).

But I’ll leave you this one observation, given Brentford have our future and Lionel Road intrinsically linked to the housing market. With the redevelopment of Griffin Park and the subsequent apartment blocks to be built alongside the stadium being key, the industry suffered what could politely be called ‘a bad day at the office’ after the results were announced.

Lauren Davidson and Rhiannon Bury, writing in the Telegraph, note in their end of day market review that, “Housebuilders Crest Nicholson, Bellway and Bovis were all in the top ten fallers for the day, dropping more than 24pc, alongside property developers Derwent London and Great Portland Estates, which fell 24.6pc and 22.2pc respectively, as fears about a fall in house prices caused investors to offload their stocks”.

Whatever the other ramifications for the country, from the perspective of a new stadium for Brentford, I do wonder what will happen if this is anything but a short term ‘blip’?  Still that’s a question for cleverer people than me to answer (i.e. just about anybody).

Whilst we still have a home at Griffin Park, we now know that another preseason friendly has been announced. Peterborough United being the visitors on 26 July. All being well it’ll be a chance to see the new kit in action for the first time and enjoy an evening in the sunshine. Besides, when the alternative is Holby City then evening fixtures can’t come around quick enough.

And although we are yet to see that new kit (the simultaneous launch date remaining July 23, unless somebody tells me differently) we’ve now been shown the club’s range of training gear. And there’s a hashtag, too….

Whilst it seems a more Adidas-centric one than something club inspired, this season #FirstNeverFollows. Apparently. Here’s hoping there are 23 other clubs following us when we wrap things up against Blackburn in May.

As for the gear, well it’s now on sale and looking good. Can we read anything into the ‘full kit’ from the fact that the famous ‘three stripes’ are now running down the side of the body rather than over the arms? Certainly its a look that other Adidas dressed clubs (especially in the MLS) have been sporting.

Likewise, it’s great to see Josh back. What a horrendous first season he had with double long term injuries sandwiching a tricky time on the pitch. Fingers crossed that, as with the incredible return of Scott Hogan at the end of 2015/16, Josh is now able to push on and, erm, go again.

Moving back to Europe once more, today sees the last 16 begin with 6 teams vying for a quarter final spot. As noted at the top end of the column, Wales v Northern Ireland is the game that will likely have most of us gripped. For some, the battle to see whether Gareth Bale and the other 10 can stop Charlie Lawson launching into another celebratory routine. I’m still terrified by ‘Big Jim’s’ farmhouse kitchen soliloquy whilst sipping on the Black Bush. For that reason alone I’d love to see how he tops it this time around.

For others, of course, we have the Brentford connection in the Northern Ireland camp. Stuart Dallas , Niall McGinn and Will Grigg’s on the bench/ fire (delete as applicable). Will these old boys prove the club wrong? Can they line up a quarter final shot at the winner of the Hungary / Belgium game? Or will Gareth Bale keep up his hot streak of 3 goals from 3 games.

Whoever wins through, across the first 7(seven) games, by the time England wrap up proceedings on Monday night in ‘game 8’ v Iceland, we’ll all be set for another exciting 2 weeks in Europe. I can’t call any of the winners. I’m not even going to bother trying.

Instead why not just switch off from the stress, grab a beer, sit back on the sofa and enjoy a weekend of sporting action. If this morning is anything to go by, Charlie is already getting in the mood.

You can check out his latest, pre game video, here.

Brilliant …..

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How would Charlie celebrate a win over Wales?

Nick Bruzon 

Green cards and the last 16. What a day as fixtures revealed

23 Jun

That was fun! Brentford finally found out when we’ll play the likes of Fulham, Aston Villa and Newcastle United on the same day that EURO 2016 went bonkers. In the best posible way. Ireland recorded a wonderful 1-0 win over Italy whilst Iceland continued their incredible journey and Hungary topped Group F. Cristiano? Hello, Cristiano…? Hello??

First up, the Euros. Iceland recorded a stunning last minute win over Austria that saw them leapfrog Portugal and take second place in their group. With it, comes a last 16 tie against England on Monday evening.

The Icelandic commentator, it would be fair to say, very much enjoyed the moment. There can’t be many who have yet to hear the winning goal but, in case not, here it is. Mark Burridge, eat your heart out….

Burridgegasmsonn?

The rest of the results saw the third place teams take order. Northern Ireland will face Wales on Saturday whilst Ireland’s reward for a 1-0 win over Italy will be the chance to take on hosts, France. Cue the inevitable, and understandable, Thierry Henry ‘handball’ references. Moreso, with the French pundit already lined up for that one.

It really was a wonderful moment for the Irish, despite Sam Matterface being the latest victim of the bug in the ITV water. Even with Glenn being kept on the pundits’ sofa for this one, it didn’t stop the normally reliable Sam coming out with comments that bordered dangerously on the Hoddlesque.

On Shane Long, “He may play for Southampton but he is no Saint” was the pick of the first half. This was later followed by the description of Italy’s Lorenzo Insigne as “Five foot four. He’s the same height as Victoria Beckham.”

Wow. It was a reference that was tenuous at best and, surely, was only used to win some secret ITV betting pool. I can only imagine Glenn Hoddle cringing in the studio as his use of “I think that’s a tactical move” to describe a substitution from England – Slovakia slipped to second place in the pecking order.

Whatever the explanation, we’re got more of the same on Monday night. England – Iceland is on ITV, folks. Cue wall to wall adverts for a certain frozen food store along with the inevitable defrosting of Kerry Catatonia and Peter Andre for some rush released adverts.

As for domestic matters, Brentford now know what we have in store and, it would be fair to say, the footballing gods have mostly smiled on us. Proceedings begin at a Huddersfield Town side that we put 9 goals past in two games last season. Scott Hogan must be licking his lips already.

Scott Hogan

Scott Hogan – after 18 months out, ran defences ragged

Newcastle United away is on a Saturday although the trip to Villa Park is an early Tuesday evening. Boxing Day, Cardiff City, is at home whilst the season ends with QPR (H), Fulham (A) before concluding at Griffin Park against Blackburn.

We’ve all got our favourites.  We’ve all got those dates that have already been pencilled into the diary as ‘immovable’ (until Sky move them). We all know which games we are already missing due to pre-arranged ‘plans’.

In a wonderful display of symmetry, we welcome Ipswich Town for our opening home game of the campaign. I’m sure, Jonathan Douglas especially, will receive a warm welcome after last season. How is the foot now, Jota?

Green cards are being applied for and the diary filled in. With EURO2016 now through what has, if we are being honest, felt like a somewhat protracted group stage, the excitement level feels as though it has cranked up exponentially.

Roll on the weekend when it all continues.

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Bru celebrated (too early) as Ipswich opened the scoring last season

Nick Bruzon  

And finally…. :  With Brentford now set to ‘go again’  The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, re-live a stunning few seasons  of Championship life once more and remind ourselves how things turned out after that penalty’ you can do so now.

Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading.

Ronaldo an Ice, Ice Baby as Manchester United invoke the cringe factor. Again

15 Jun

What a wonderful night at the EUROs. As England and Wales fans combined to see off further Russian hooligans with nothing more than chanting, everybody’s favourite underdog Iceland achieved the double feat of earning their first ever point – against Portugal – whilst simultaneously forcing Cristiano Ronaldo to channel his inner Russell Slade. And whilst Brentford news remains practically nonexistent, back home at least we have Manchester United and Wayne Rooney to keep things ‘interesting’ as the Old Trafford club have launched their latest movie crossover.

First up, and briefly, England. With the game against Wales taking place tomorrow (Thursday) supporters have come under attack from Russian thugs again. This time, along with Welsh counterparts as fans of both nations were enjoying drinks together. Updates all over Twitter suggest that the trouble was broken up quickly with the home nations reacting no more than by singing “F**k off, Russia” at their attackers.

Like many, I’ve an anxious feeling about how this is going to play out. I understand from THE man on the spot, Brentford supporter Billy Grant (whose first video has now topped a million YouTube hits) that their next blog should be out imminently. It will be very interesting to hear what the Beesotted boys have to say about the latest. Keep ‘em peeled.

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You’ve dropped something. This pic did the rounds last night

OK. Iceland. What a night . What a result. With many people tipping Portugal to go all the way, a spirited performance from a nation who had almost a tenth of their entire population in the stadium had people all over Europe cheering as the game ended 1-1.

Despite a horrendous volley of puns from the BBC, “An eruption of form”, “The main geezer” (that one was Lineker) and “Iceland are used to the Northern lights. Ronaldo is used to the limelight”, they managed to hold firm. Even a Ronaldo free kick from the heart of Saunders territory in the final moments was able to be kept out.

Best of all though, they managed to upset Cristiano Ronaldo. Massively. In a demonstration that,once again, stats don’t win football matches (apart from ‘balls in the back of the net’) he gave a post match press conference that was part  40% Steve Evans and 60 % Russell Slade.

They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup”. Words that every Brentford fan will recall after that win over Leyton Orient. Russell Slade’s outburst lives on in the memory and came flooding back last night as the Portuguese peacock told reporters, “I thought they’d won the Euros the way they celebrated at the end, it was unbelievable.”

He then turned ‘Steve Evans’ as he noted, “They scored a goal, they created two chances in the 90 minutes, and otherwise they got every player behind the ball. They put the bus in the net.”

Yes Cristiano. And still you couldn’t beat them. Fantastic work, Iceland. Here’s to seeing your journey continue.

Next up. Manchester United. We’ve already talked on these pages about their ‘media partnership’ that seen them now involved in film promotion. Hey, I suppose they’ve had to do something whilst not winning those trophies.

The X-men spin off, which also involved them body-painting their child mascots blue, was a start. An awful start. So bad it was kind of compelling.

Wayne Rooney. Compelling

As noted previously, Rooney’s wooden exclamation of “Bloody Hell” isn’t in the same ball park as Cantona’s “Au Revoir” or men like Figo who never give in to grey (“still got it”). But compared to the ‘proper’ actors around him, dreadfully trying to crowbar the names of his Manchester United team mates into a ‘scene’ from the new movie, Wayne came across with the gravitas of Morgan Freeman.

Now it’s my turn to say “Bloody Hell”. They’ve only gone and done it again. This time for Independence Day: Resurgence . The original film from 1996, an easy entrant into my top 10 of all time. So utterly bad it’s stunningly brilliant . I am as keen to see the sequel as I am to find out just what Kitman Bob has in store for next season’s Brentford shirt.

This time around, Wayne doesn’t get to hog the limelight. Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, “It’s pronounced Blind” (not sure that works so well here – perhaps watch the video) and others get to chew the scenery with Jeff Goldblum.

Oh, my. It’s awful. Just so, so bad. Beyond cringeworthy and into the territory of having to watch from behind the sofa. Truly, toecurling stuff. Yet at the same time, I might just have to watch it once more.

I can’t wait for the next one

I’m glad I’m not Blind

Nick Bruzon

Plug time :  With the Brentford tumbleweed continuing, the most I can do is guide you to where The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of the pain induced by Stroud and the fallout from that penalty’ you can do so now.

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

Thanks for reading.