Tag Archives: Saïd Benrahma

What’s that noise? Tumbleweed!

10 Nov

And there we go. Quite magnificent. Brentford returned to three goal winning ways with as comprehensive a scoreline as one could hope for on the road following our 0-3 defeat of Wigan Athletic on Saturday. The horror show of the laboured Huddersfield Town game (something that should have seen both teams banned under the Geneva convention) was well and truly laid to rest after a victory that sees us climb to within two points of the play-off zone. Elsewhere, the aforementioned Terriers were trounced at Preston North End in a game of particular significance to look at shortly. Yet, as ever, we can only start with The Bees.

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Official Twitter show the celebrations

What can you say? Well, in theory not much. There was no real chance of attending this one whilst for multiple reasons, Friday night saw sleep a rarer commodity than a Nick Proschwitz goal. As such, Saturday afternoon saw my time spent curled up on the sofa, drifting in and out of a light snooze with Jeff Stelling and WhatsApp. Not literally, I’m not for one second suggesting Jeff sleeps with viewers. It was more the case of dozing in front of the TV as random dreams of Paris, The Eiffel Tower and other such romantic notions were punctuated by the phone going off or an excited shriek from the Soccer Saturday studio. 

And there was a lot of vibrations and shrieking. WhatsApp didn’t stop buzzing from the moment the team were announced. If we’re being honest with ourselves, days gone by would have seen the selection of number 10 as something to fill supporters with a sense of disappointment. Of dread. Of midfield nothingness. Nowadays, 10 is the first number we look for on the team sheet. The fleet-footed Algerian Benrahma having inherited the shirt and filled it with a joie de vivre so clearly missing in previous seasons. 

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Number 10 – popular with the fans !

So come 2pm, here was the team. Our group have several traditions. One Braemar Road observer will always send the line up around once official have published it at 2.01pm. Another will then remark that the bench looks weak. It’s as much part of football’s rich tapestry of supporter ritual as not shaving on a winning run, lucky shirts, magic pants et al. And this weekend’s message saw Benrahma awol. Noooooo. On a day where we’d only that morning noted the need to undo our own shackles, and those of the opposition, our skeleton key was missing. Hamstring, rather than agent. Thankfully.

Into his boots stepped Joel Valencia. The side, otherwise unchanged from the one which had trounced QPR before falling down agasint Huddersfield. Whatever Thomas Frank said prior to kick off, it worked. And then some. We were most definitely back in ‘attack mode’. 

Five minutes gone and the phone buzzed. ‘Bryan’ . Jeff and the team then confirmed Mbeumo had done it again. Get in. This was good. Too good. If anything, might we have scored too early? Oh ye of little faith. This is not the Brentford of days gone by (mostly). 0-1 up at half time then saw the game, and the phone, explode in a manner not seen since the commentary on ‘that’ Jota goal at Blackburn. #Burridgegasm  .

“Kamo !! “

“Need to see that magical goal celebration tomorrow”

“Wigan red”

“Still plenty of room for 3-2”

And 2 up thanks to the brilliance of Mokotjo became 3 up thanks to a quite wonderful strike from Josh Dasilva. He doesn’t do simple, that’s for sure. Do check out the video highlights for all three but, for me Clive, his was definitely the pick of anther very strong bunch. As much for the way we tore and stretched Wigan. They were left looking so thin, and the Bees creating so much space, that you’d have found better markers in a packet of Sharpies. It really was destructive from The Bees. 

The only sour note being a straight red for Jeanvier deep into injury time for his part in a scuffle. Whether the club take it on the chin or appeal remains to be seen but that’s a problem for another day. For now, it’s another case of saying hats off to Thomas Frank. Hats off to Brentford. 

What’s that noise? Silence? Tumbleweed? No, its the Social media keyboard warriors who had been calling for his head and slagging him off as clueless creeping back under their rocks.  Fairplay to Thomas for keeping on doing what he is doing. 12 points and 12 goals form the last five games does tend to suggest he has his game plan exactly on course!  

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Thomas Frank – popular with the fans !

Next up is International break followed by the visit from Reading. They’ve hit a 10 out 12 point form run that makes this one an extremely interesting challenge. The table doesn’t lie but it is rebalancing itself. Nowhere more is this seen than at the top where West Brom (with Romaine Sawyers taking his game to the next level) and Preston occupy the top two slots.

North End destroyed Huddersfield yesterday to continue their inexorable climb upwards. Almost sneaking up the blindside to go past Leeds United into second place after their third win in a row. For me, the highlight of this one was Paul Gallagher’s second half penalty. It was on a par with Benrahma at QPR for the consummate lesson in how to finish from twelve yards. Power and precision very much the order of the day.

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Benrahma at QPR. Gallgher did similar

Yet Preston are mentioned to note that, much like Brentford, put the wins together and the rest happens naturally. Don’t worry about other clubs and other results. Concentrate on your own game. With the top half of Championship table locked up tighter than Alcatraz, if you keep winning then the potential for ascension remains huge. Thomas Frank is proving it. Alex Neil at Preston is proving it. Keep getting those wins on the board and then when somebody falls apart or hits the skids – boom ! Move in and move up.

The Bees are now doing it and have gone up to 9th. We’ve overtaken QPR. We’ve overtaken Birmingham City. Who can we overtake next?

Roll on Saturday week when we can find out.

Nick Bruzon

Will Wigan be banging the same drum when Bees visit?

9 Nov

Wigan Athletic, here we come. Brentford have the chance to get things back on track this Saturday following the bloody nose administered by Huddersfield Town. Hats off to the brave five hundred or so making the trip through the fog for this one. Last season’s tedium (including the unspeakable horror of a drum) combined with last night’s trip to the good bit of Shepherds Bush, where popular music’s The Bluetones were playing, make this one a journey too far for yours truly. Those green cards aren’t going to earn themselves. But is it the right decision to swerve this?

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The Bluetones – more fun than a trip to Wigan in the fog

From a musical perspective then, yes. The Bluetones were magnificent. It was the second trip to the end of the 237 in as many weeks and the result was just as satisfying. Moreso, given the number of Bees both in attendance and on stage.

At the other end of the spectrum, the previous game and drum at Wigan were simply awful.  It was one described on these pages at the time as insipid a 0-0 draw as one could imagine ; as turgid as it comes. Wigan were determined to strangle any life out of the game. Brentford, unable to find a way through as any attacking intent was choked out of the game.

Well, for those going up today it can’t be as bad as that. Can it? Brentford had their own challenge with stubborn opponents against Huddersfield Town last weekend. One would hope that Thomas Frank., himself speaking very openly in the Beesotted podcast this week, won’t fall into the same trap again. A repeat of our previous away trip and the Brentford that went to Swansea City would do very finely, thank you. 

Yet if Huddersfield were the division’s form team when our paths crossed, Wigan very much aren’t. One point out of a possible nine was rounded off with injury time defeat at home to Swansea last time out. Paul Cook, architect of the aforementioned snoozefest, is still at the helm for our hosts. Hopefully his team’s precarious position, just two places above the relegation spots, will encourage them to play a more open game in the search for success. The Bees are always at their best when playing that wonderful brand of free-flowing football which had seen 9 points and 9 goals prior to the visit from the Terriers.

Injurywise, there aren’t expected to be any changes from the side that has featured in recent weeks. I can only assume it will be more of the same when our starting XI is announced at 2pm. In part due to available players but as much to right the wrongs from the Huddersfield game. It was one which saw Saïd Benrahma stifled. Strangled into submission and, when he did get the ball, perhaps guilty of trying too hard to do it on his own. Perhaps that was down to the frustration of our scrap or maybe it was just his mindset.

He is singled out because he is, by a country mile, our most creative player. When Saïd is on song there’s no sweeter sound. One man can’t do it all but one man can inspire others around them. Sometimes it’s hard to remember he is just 24 years old (see also: Sergi Canos – 22) such is the vision and ability he has. This is a player who is only going to get better and better. One we really need to savour whilst we can. One who could be the catalyst in pushing this team forward.

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We all love Said

Whilst Brentford are mid-table at present, the play-off zone is a mere four points away. Had we picked up the win at Griffin Park the Bees would now been in eighth. It is something noted not to berate anybody for missing the opportunity but more to show how tight things remain in The Championship. Just four points separate Frank Lampard’s former club Derby County in 15th to Nottingham Forest in fifth. This is wide open for whoever wants it. At present, Hull City are the only side in the division to have won three games on the bounce. The form book is out of the window at the moment.

Checking with the bookies – purely for research purposes – not even they can call it. Brentford are very narrow favourites but the odds on offer suggest more than ever that any result is possible . Good luck with your accumulators. Personally, I wouldn’t go near this one with a barge pole. If nothing else, drums can be a largely unsettling factor.

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The Bees are favourites. On paper

All of which is summed up to say that yours truly hasn’t a clue. Although anybody still reading will surely have established that already from a column that very much feels like ‘contractual obligation’ today. The mind is still very much focussed on the fun and games had last night. Can Brentford get things heading back in the right direction? Will Paul Cook conspire to frustrate us one more?  There’s only one place to find out – and it ’s not here this morning.

Roll on 3pm when, all being well, the normal course of events can resume.

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Last time out – A drum is no substitute atmosphere

Nick Bruzon 

Bees smash QPR to secure bragging rights. Again.

29 Oct

You wait ages at the bus stop and then three come along all at once. Brentford trounced Queens Park Rangers in their own back yard, again, last night as a 1-3 victory made it 9 points out of 9. It was a performance that, if anything, the scoreline fails to do justice to. But for home goalkeeper Liam Kelly it could have been double that. Only a series of fine saves keeping things respectable for the hosts who had no answer to the irrepressible waves of black and yellow. With Huddersfield Town next up, the Bees will be looking to strengthen their position in a top half of the table that is becoming increasingly congested.

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Players and fans alike celebrated this one

What a night. What a turn out. What a way to show our neighbours what this Brentford team can do. Three very much the magic number as our third successive victory saw Brentford hitting three goals. This following the 3-2 over Millwall and the 0-3 up at Swansea. Yet to so consistently outplay your neighbours, who missed their own chance to go second, in their own back yard takes special kudos. It was a game played out in a powder keg atmosphere, at least in the away end. The home fans barely mustering a squeak, barring one character with a sombrero, rattle and kazoo, until after the interval when Grant Hall’s equaliser gave them brief hope.

That goal, ironically coming from a corner earned off the back of a quite magnificent save from David Raya, briefly restored parity. Briefly. Ollie Watkins had already given us the lead, heading home a Mbuemo cross in front of the home fans. It was goal that had been threatening and was exquisitely taken. For once, Kelly left with no chance and after that it was only a matter of time and how many. Or so it felt.

Yet despite our domination, noise and attacking intent Brentford couldn’t quite squeeze through for the second. And with Hall rousing the snoozing home support from their own game of library simulator, one did have to wonder what would come next. Rise to the challenge or ‘do a Brentford’? The answer was emphatically the former. 

With little more than the next ten minutes played, the lead had been restored. Mbuemo was felled in the box and referee Andy Woolmer had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. It’s good enough for me.

That man Benrahma picked up the ball and smashed it high and hard into the top corner. Got to be honest that from where we were standing, it looked briefly as though he might have Barbet’d it, such was the height he got. Instead, it was all about technique with the speed and ferocity meaning it got no further than the back of the net.

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View from the stand – there you go. A lead restored.

And what a way to celebrate. What a smile. What a charge, followed by the rest of the team, over to the dugouts where he celebrated with Peter Gilham. We noted yesterday the history lessons installed by our beloved man-with-the-mic. This is why. This is what it meant. To him. To Saïd. To the team. To us. Get in you beauties.

The game continued. So did the pressure. Benrahma playing like a man possessed. He and Ollie teaming up with another of those filthy moments to come ‘that’ close to another goal of the season contender. Pontus Jansson busting every sinew. Screaming at anybody that would listen. Regardless of whether they wanted to. Nørgaard pulling strings in the middle. Mbuemo working the opposite flank. QPR huffing, puffing but doing nothing more than instigate the obligatory fire drill.

Sure, the final ten minutes felt slightly more tense. Purely because the random nature of referees or a flukey deflection, after such a fine Bees performance, could have played havoc on the points front with the margins still so fine. At least, on goals scored. There was no danger though. The fresh impetus added by Jensen and Valencia from the bench giving Brentford that final burst of energy needed to wrap things up. 

Boom. Watkins was there at the death to get his second and our third as the hosts were caught out in their hunt for some reward. Jensen slipping it through to Ollie who made no mistake in his own personal hunt for the Championship’s golden boot. His close range finish takes him to ten for the season already, equalling his highest total for Brentford . And we aren’t even in November. Neal who now?

Brentford are up to 12th but, more importantly, it’s getting tight at the top. Very tight. We’re four points off second place. One more win, and other results going our way, could even see us into the play off zone. Huddersfield Town visit Griffin Park on Saturday in a game that is sure to have a few more people now looking for tickets. That one won’t be easy but that’s a column for another day.

For now, it’s all about the moment. All about going to that horrible, horrible stadium and coming away with yet another win. About laughing at the jealous jeers on social media. About knowing how proud Thomas Frank must be feeling as he has held his head high , despite the nonsense being directed his way in recent weeks, to see his team come out the other side in quite magnificent style. About knowing that we may be a bus stop but West London is OURS. 

Pete Doherty. Mike O’Callaghan. John Storm. Comedian Bill Bailey. Are you reading? Your team took one hell of a beating last night. And it was absolutely beautiful.           

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A bus stop. Last night.

Nick Bruzon

Calling all agents. Let’s do this.

28 Oct

There’s not too much to say, today. Brentford travel to Queens Park Rangers with morale high after those epic victories over Millwall and then up at Swansea City. Thanks again, agent Bidwell. This time we’ve none other than Mark Warburton and Yoann Barnet filling the roles of Griffin Park legends who have taken the short journey by 237 to Shepherds Bush. With the hosts flying high, it promises to be tasty. The big question being which team continues with their recent form and which has their head coach searching through the kitbag for that envelope labelled ‘Plan B’ ?

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All of this is, of course, before you factor in the small matter of a local derby. The history between our two clubs has been well documented and, if nothing else, Peter Gilham seems on a one man mission to ensure that neither fans nor players every forget the failed takeover. Whatever your thoughts on his refusal to even mention them by name, a crash course in local history seems as much a part of new players joining as the pre-season karaoke,  half-chewed biro and obligatory signing photo pose with choice of contract, scarf or new shirt.

We all know what happened. Almost. We all know that our recent record against our near neighbours is a good one. A very good one. Brentford have won 5 and drawn 1 of our last 7(seven) competitive fixtures. We’ll draw a discreet veil over the incident of the 4-6-0 formation which culminated in something called a ‘false 9’. Very much a Plan C that will hopefully never be repeated.

The not so good news for Brentford fans is that the injury glut that has already spannered Sergi Canos has now done for Nikos Karelis. ‘Official’ describe him as having suffered a serious knee injury against Millwall which will see him out for a significant period of time. The flip side of this being that both players were missing for the Swansea game and look how we went there. Benrahma and Mbuemo are on fire whilst Josh Dasilva must be one of the first names on the team sheet in the middle.

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Swansea, last time out.

Chuck in a bit of revenge required for ‘that’ 2-2 capitulation (0-2 on 90+2 becoming 2-2 on 90+4 having an almost Millwallesque feel about it) and the hosts won’t have it easy. Then there’s the pressure of knowing that a point will be enough to take them into the play-off positions by virtue of goal difference.

Will Yoann Barnet add to his collection of penalties conceded this season? At least three at the last count. Will Ollie Watkins be able to keep himself at the business end of the Championship goal scorer chart? Can Brentford make it three wins on the bounce?

I can’t wait for the chance to find out. For those who can’t make it, there’s Sky and The Griffin are also showing the game.

Or how about ‘Our friends at radio’? How it’s going to work tonight is that BBC Radio London on DAB/Digital have comms with
Phil Parry, Paul Parker and the mellifluous Billy Reeves. Enjoy.

However, you choose to follow let’s bring it on. See you there!!!

QPR Loftus Road

Off we go, again….

If Saturday was crazy, that was just unbelievable…

23 Oct

I can’t call this tonight. The heart says Brentford. The table says Swansea. The Championship says anything can happen. All I’ll say for sure is that it can’t be as awful as last season. It can’t be exciting as Millwall. Can it…..? 

Those, the last words written on these pages yesterday as Brentford prepared for their trip to the Liberty stadium. They were words written on the back of last season’s record against Swansea which had read:  P3 L3 Goals scored 3 Goals against 10.

Yet they were also words written in the aftermath of that scintillating comeback and eventual victory over Millwall on Saturday. A game that will live long in the memory for those fortunate enough to have been present. One that social media, amongst other sources, has helped draw those who missed out into the communal outpouring of excitement that continued long after the final whistle had blown.

And boy, what a way to kick on from there. What a way to pick up that ball and run with the momentum of confidence. A 3-0 win on the road for The Bees lifting us up into the top half of the table and a mere four points from the play-off zone. And we’ve not even had the chance to become #Novemberkings yet. Urghh, feel so dirty. Should have just said it’s still October. 

The scoreline was emphatic. The preference and quality of the goals equally so. The first coming from Saïd Benrahma, curling home from the edge of the box. It was a finish to match any of his ten from last season as he opened his account this time around. His return to fill fitness very much being rewarded with a continuation of where he left off last time out.

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The moment, captured on film

It was two before half time. Special agent Jake Bidwell firing home from the penalty spot, under pressure from Ollie Watkins.  The own goal from our former skipper something that even the YouTube highlights describe as almost being as though he meant it. I’m sure he didn’t. I’d have been amazed if he could. Who cares though. As we’ve said many, many times before – balls in the back of the net are the only thing that count. No matter how they get there.

Thanks, Jake. Thanks everyone.

The best was yet to come. Bryan Mbuemo with a quite ridiculous third. Running through the Swansea midfield before firing home with a sublime finish on the diagonal. If we’re going to quote yesterday’s column, and frankly why not, then I’l crave forgiveness for a little more self-indulgence with the observation that “Bryan Mbuemo is looking as though he could be our latest hidden gem, unearthed.   To put it mildly, the French U-21 would seem to have found his feet in the Championship. What perfect timing with the trip to Shepherds Bush next up.

If Millwall was an ‘I was there’ moment then, being honest, this was probably more the case of ‘I wasn’t there’. Not surprisingly, the number of visiting fans seemed thin on the ground judging by the shots afforded us in the highlights reel. The final report on ‘official’ counts it at 215. Hats off to each and every one of them.  Their reward, a fine victory and having the pleasure of seeing Mbuemo fire home that splendid final goal at the away end.

It could have been better. Sleight of foot and almost interplay between Benrahma and Watkins that seemed almost choreographed ended up with the Algerian curling one just wide of the far post. It was a moment of magic to rival a drunken Paul Daniels and Hans Moretti firing crossbow bolts at the lovely Debbie McGee. The finish was almost as deadly.  Metaphorically speaking. That one’s on the highlight reel too. Benrahma rather than Daniels. Paul rather than Luke. Do check it out.

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Debbie – lovely

There’s not much more to say. On a game where Swansea City dominated the possession and the shots on target, it was Brentford who came away with all three goals and all three points. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere but it’ll take greater intellect than this numpty on the terrace to work it out.

It was a stunning result. It’s been a magnificent few days. Here’s to Monday evening. Here’s hoping another former Bee or two can pick up where Jake left off. Better still that Bryan, Saïd, Ollie and the rest of the gang do the same. 

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More of the same would do nicely on Monday

Nick Bruzon

How do you top Saturday? Simple. Don’t repeat last season.

22 Oct

It’s an obvious question. The turnaround that saw Brentford go from 0-2 down with 84 minutes on the clock to end the game as 3-2 winners over Millwall was one of those ‘I was there moments’. See also: Burton away, Fulham away or the time somebody laughed at Mrs. Browns Boys. Oh well, as Meatloaf once sang… And the simple answer is that we go again. This time to Swansea City where an intense period of Championship action resumes this evening with the hope that we forget about 2018/19….

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What a finish on Saturday

It would be fair to say that whilst it probably can’t get any better than Saturday for The Bees, it certainly can’t get any worse than last season. Swansea were the Mrs. Brown to our sanity. An undefeatable nemesis whose performance against us in the FA Cup fifth round at The Liberty stadium was a humbling experience only made worse by their performance against in the League  at The Liberty Stadium. 

The 4-1 trashing administered in the cup, one which was earned from an Ollie Watkins inspired 0-1 HT lead. The turnaround in the second period was immense. Swansea scoring four times as they earned a quarter final at home to Manchester City, Daniel James earned a transfer to Manchester United and Neal Maupay earned the wrath of the BBC and (probably) Ian Moose. That after firing over late in the game .

The league game in April saw Brentford on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline in an encounter that had it been the proverbial boxing match, would have been stopped within the first minute after Nathan Dyer gave Swansea the lead with what even the BBC described at the time as “One of the fastest goals scored at the Liberty stadium”. Don’t forget, either, how we’d also lost the early season league game 3-2 after shipping three goals in an opening half hour that had already included a close to ten minute delay for an injury break. It would be fair to say that we were all well glad to see the back of Swansea City last season.

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Swansea in the FA Cup wasn’t good.

That was then. This is now. Swansea are riding high in the table. Currently sitting in third position and surely favourites for this one tonight. Surely? Well, having already buried last season’s away shirt ‘hoodoo’ (there wasn’t one, but if it makes the brown/orange haters, of which there were apparently a few, then all the better) with our form on the road this time out, Brentford had THAT morale boosting win at the weekend. Ollie Watkins is at the business end of the Championship leading goalscorer charts whilst Bryan Mbuemo is looking as though he could be our latest hidden gem, unearthed. Sergi may be injured but the likes of Pontus and Said lead the the charge of players with their hearts on the sleeve. Josh Dasilva has discovered his appetite for goalscoring and seems to enjoy the taste.

Hats off to those travelling. Long midweek journeys provide a very easy option these days via the medium of the Sky ‘red’ button. There’s also the lure of iFollow for those of you who like your coverage ‘old school’. The excitement of the team as Ollie did his thing on Saturday very much akin to the moment Mark Burridge exploded up at Blackburn after Jota went on that little sortie forward.

 I can’t call this tonight. The heart says Brentford. The table says Swansea. The Championship says anything can happen. All I’ll say for sure is that it can’t be as awful as last season. It can’t be exciting as Millwall. Can it…..?

Nick Bruzon

It’s much more fun to win this way.

20 Oct

The greatest come back since Lazarus? Burton Albion away? Liverpool in the Champion’s League (take your pick of those – you may have heard mention of their particular ‘miracles’). The intensity of the turnaround at Griffin Park yesterday probably tops the lot. Whilst not a European trophy lifting moment or matching the relentlessness of our comeback against The Brewers, for Brentford to turn around a 2-0 deficit with 6 minutes left on the clock but end the game as 3-2 victors over Millwall was pretty, pretty good. Thomas Frank, unable to curb his own enthusiasm at full time, was quick to note that “It’s much more fun to win this way”. The boys in blue arresting a run in form that had only seen us win once since late August.

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Brentford – unbeaten in anniversary blue

And he’s right. They were words uttered on a full time touchline stroll as fans gave the head coach and his team a standing ovation. There were hugs from Saïd. Even handshakes from Matthew Benham as everybody came together once more to enjoy one of those moments that makes Griffin Park SO, SO special. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Imagine turning your back on all of this because it isn’t the set up of previous decades. Imagine not wanting to be part of this last hurrah. Imagine booing the head coach and demanding his head week in, week out. 

We aren’t Liverpool. We aren’t going to win every game every week. Sometimes we are a bit rubbish (Forest away last time out was tough viewing). Sometimes we are awful. That’s football. Yet when it all comes together there’s no place on earth I’d rather be. With my family . With my friends. With my team. A place where despite the many changes we’ve seen in recent years, on and off field, the heart of this football club is still there. Still beating strong. Still pulling us all together in a communal outpouring of joy the likes of which is still sending shivers running up the spine over 12 hours later.   Instead of joyless negativity then, personally speaking, my own preference is to focus on the positive and yesterday was about as positive as it gets.

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A belated and very happy birthday to my good friend at full time

What a game. What a start. What pressure. Ollie was returned to the right side of the pitch as Niko Karelis got that first start which had been suggested in yesterday’s article might be coming. Every now and again we call one right – it can happen. The set up looked much more balanced than at the City Ground. Surely it was only a matter of time before the goal came. Pressure built as The Bees turned the screw. Millwall not getting a look in. Karelis hit the post early on before referee Stuart Attwell then pointed to the spot for what seems an innocuous incident at best  – at least on first viewing – but let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. 

Urgh. We did. This is Brentford, innit. Ollie Watkins seeing his penalty well saved by visiting ‘keeper Bartosz Bialkowski. There was worse to come. Just before the half ended, Karelis went down with what looked like a sickening injury and was eventually stretchered off. The visiting fans showing their class, waving him off and singing cheerio as the rest of the ground gave the customary respectful applause reserved for such incidents – regardless of the team. 

And as the team readjusted, the Lions pounced. They’d not been in the hunt yet a rare foray into the Brentford box saw Raya unable to fully clear Molumby’s effort and Tom Bradshaw stabbed home from close in to leave the half time cuppas with a very bitter after taste. Typical Brentford. Dominate. Come close. So close. Slip up in a rare moment of defensive absenteeism. Stats and possession count for nothing if you can’t finish. Millwall giving the consummate demonstration as they took their one chance with aplomb. And their second. 

Mr. Attwell pointing to the spot once more after the teams had emerged. This time, Ollie Watkins adjudged to have wrestled his man to the ground. Raya unable to equal the save pulled off by his counterpart between the sticks and Jed Wallce doubled the visitor’s lead.  Painful stuff. Familiar stuff. Brentford dominant but somehow on the wrong end of the scoreline. “Where’s the midfield?“, shouted one supporter. “Up there with Natalie” replied another.

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Dougie was back for this one

Just as goals scored rather than possession and stats being the only true indicator of whether a team deserve to win is one mantra I live by, so is staying and playing until the end. So often we’ve ‘done a Brentford’ and spannered ourselves late on. See: Bristol City just last time out. Even more often we’ve taken it to the wire and pushed on. See: just about any goal Jota ever scored or Thomas and his own brand of attacking substitutions – last season in particular seeing him opt to go big rather than bringing on defensive subs in order to close out a match. And what a way to do it.

First up, Josh Dasilva. The midfielder coming off the bench to fire home from just outside the box with 84 minutes on the clock. It was a strike of precision – just as he had done against Bristol City – and gave hope for a barnstorming finish as we looked to pick up a point. Four minutes later, it was all level. Bryan Mbueno the man as his beautifully place shot from Dasilva territory seemed to drift over the defence, past Bialkowski and in to the far corner of the net. 

It all felt very slo-mo ; all very surreal. A split second wait for the random officials to wave a flag – it had happened early on in the half with Ollie called ‘offside’ as he found the net – but no. Nothing. Except an eruption of joy from fans and players alike. Get!! In!! We’d done it. Saïd Benrahma with the assist, along with an apparent deflection too, and a point all but assured. 2-2 from the unlikeliest of situations. Just please don’t cock it up from here. Please don’t ‘do a Brentford’. 

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Fans and players celebrate

You could see from the looks on the player’s faces what this one meant. How hard a level that they, and we, knew this battle had been fought at. But wait, like a  4am infomercial for the greatest hits of Country or a butcher’s knife kit, there was more. If Josh and Bryan had provided the ten CD set, it was none other than leading scorer Ollie Watkins who weighed in with the bonus extra. And what an extra. So much better than a 12 track disc of County duets.

With four additional minutes shown on the board, there WAS still time. Time for huge handbags in front of the Millwall fans as Attwell once more lost control. Time for passions to rise to even more intense levels than had already been seen. And when it came, with Ollie guiding home in the last of those additional minutes, Griffin Park exploded. The noise incredible. The relief, palpable. The joy unconfined. The noise intense. The smiles broad. The Lions silenced. The perfect payback for Karelis. The perfect reward for Thomas Frank who has come in for all levels of dog’s abuse so early in to a season in which his new squad is taking shape. Is readjusting to life without Maupay. The reaction from captain Pontus said it all. The grins from Ollie and Saïd, beautiful. Brentford up to 13th and now six points off the play-off zone. 

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Yesssssss. 3-2. 

With little over a quarter of the season gone, both ends of the table are still a long way off. We’ll play well and lose. We’ll pick up some jammy points along the way. I’m still not sure which way this campaign is going to go but it’s going to be fun getting there. As has been seen this season with the likes of Derby County, Barnsley and Middlesbrough, when we get it right we are simply wonderful. To that list you can now add Millwall. 

What a performance. What a result. What a moment. What a game that, you know what, we deserved to win.

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Nick Bruzon     

Only two things on the agenda today – three points and a new shirt….

21 Sep

Hurry up 3pm. Brentford host Stoke City this afternoon, with everyone wanting to put the defeat at Preston behind us (2-0 last weekend) and get back to winning ways. Well, d’uh! Cliche alert and copy/paste your basic football soundbite by rote. Yet sometimes the simplest and most basic sentiments are the best and today is no exception. If any further morale boost were needed then it has come in the formal confirmation of the much touted Kurupt FM shirt – and then some. Not only is the limited edition top now available (we hope, still)  but next month’s home game against Bristol City sees a very special tie up. I’d go so far as to describe it as a crossover that hasn’t been bettered since Scooby Doo met Sonny and Cher.

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Come on Fred, don’t be so bashful

First up, Preston. We lost. They’re in the play-off zone and we’re six points off it. But the season is still early and still three games short of that magical point when the table can formally have been declared to have ‘taken shape’. Let’s just file that game under ‘Move along, nothing to see here’. The only other take away being that we got a look at the orange goalkeeper’s shirt in action. 

There’s been nothing on these pages since that game which is probably a good thing for all concerned. Instead, there’s been a bit of down time but now we’re set for the visit of Stoke City. Bottom of the league Stoke City. With the televised trip to fellow basement club Barnsley a week later, the next 8 days represent an excellent opportunity to push us into the upper reaches once the current nascent state of the league has become almost ‘fully formed’.

Will Thomas stick with the same or utilise the numbers at his disposal? He has pretty much the full squad available to him with the main question being when we get a look at front man Nikoloas Karelis. Brentford have looked magnificent going forward and the return of Said Benrahma has been a more than welcome one. Along with Bryan Mbuemo, who is finding his feet very quickly, Brentford haven’t been afraid to try their luck in front of goal. Even if the results have been mixed at times. Yet with the BBC telling us that Stoke have conceded the highest percentage of their shots faced (23.3%), could this be the game to try our luck from distance? It almost worked last weekend. 

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Benrahma – does everything. Even helping the fans with their ‘selfies’

Look, I’ve no idea which way Thomas is going to jump. We’re all full of conjecture but, for what its worth, I’d keep the same starting XI. When we’ve fired we’ve been imperious. Two wins out of the first seven isn’t prolific form but that can soon change. We were magnificent against Derby County last time out at Griffin Park and with Stoke struggling, I’m going to stick my neck on the block and say that I expect more of that form we saw against the Rams. Another game packed full of attacking intent from Brentford and another three points. The Potters have shipped 17 already, the leakiest defence in the Championship, and I wouldn’t be surprised if full time saw that figure take a further battering. Just bring on the afternoon when we get our chance to go for it.

The other news to put a spring in the step is that around the Kurupt FM shirt which Matthew Benham and his family first unveiled. It has finally been confirmed as being made available with all profits going to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Even better though, Brentford ‘official’ have now revealed that the local stars will be joining us for the game at home to Bristol City as they takeover Griffin Park. Cripes. #BeeTheDJ could be very interesting….

You can read about it all on ‘official’ whilst, of course, don’t forget to pick your shirt up – assuming there are any left (at present the online store only has these remaining at either end of the size spectrum).  It promises to be special. Until then, though, here’s to Stoke City.  

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This really is happening

Nick Bruzon

Bring it on! Championship action is back.

14 Sep

Preston boss Alex Neil faces a raft of injury concerns ahead of Brentford’s visit to Deepdale…… Not my words but those of the BBC big match preview this morning and, with the greatest respect to our hosts, great news for the travelling Bees. After the interminable wait through international break following the humping of Derby County – a period punctuated by the obvious results of double victory for England along with twin defeats for Gibraltar & Scotland (sorry, JJ) – we’re back to the important stuff. Championship action. And, as ever, I can’t wait.

There’s something quite special about that moment you wake up and, as the fog clears, realising that it’s a weekend. For most of us, there’s no mad rush to get ready for the school run. No stress of having to go to work for the day. No commuter hell to fight through just to face all manner of other challenges once you reach the office.

Instead, waking up can be done at leisure. Lie ins can be enjoyed – yours truly had the luxury of 7(seven)am today. Fantasy football teams can be prepared, BBC match previews read and blogs written. The morning can be eased in to. Until the mad rush to get ready for Harry’s football club begins. But it’s fun. It’s relaxing. Mrs B is asleep and H is yet to surface. A rare moment of stolen tranquility before the fun starts. 

And that’s all before train rides North and the proper action scan be served up where this afternoon we have Preston v Brentford as our dish of the day. I’m really excited about this one. We’ve already kicked last season’s away day blues in to touch with the win on the road at Middlesbrough. Last time out at Griffin Park was magnificent. Derby County were trounced in a game that saw us really unfortunate not to extend the 3-0 lead that had been built at half-time. 

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Raining (goals) last time out, against Derby County.

Brentford really were scintillating with the team looking solid at the back and irrepressible going forward. Wing back Sergi Canos a joy to behold. Bryan Mbuemo a new hero in the making. Ollie Watkins making centre-forward look more and more comfortable a role with each passing goal.

Then there was Saïd Benrahma – a player who seems to have a permanent smile on the face and one who has the ability to pass it on to the supporters, too. Words cannot say how pleased I am that we’ve retained the mercurial wide man. Consolidating our form and position over the next few months will be crucial to retaining his services, one would presume, as the top flight can only be his inevitable home. Fingers crossed it will be with Brentford.

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Just a few men of the moment. 

Getting ahead of ourselves, perhaps, but one needs to aim high. It’s part of being a football fan. One of the many reasons we come . The expectation. The hope. Yes, there’s the social side too. Something that is more prevalent on those wonderful away days we get to experience in the Champinship. “Why are you leaving at 9am” asks Mrs Bruzon, “when the game doesn’t kick off until 3?”. She is yet to experience playing away and so doesn’t understand that the 90 minutes of on-pitch time are often the least enjoyable of the day.It’s as much about meeting your friends sharing that train ride, discovering a new pub in a new town and ticking another stadium off the list. The football itself is another bonus added to a great day out with your mates. Especially when there’s a win at the end of this.

And today, Preston is the place. This one won’t be easy, despite their own apparent injury concerns. Even at this early stage in proceedings the Deepdale outfit find themselves separated from the play-off zone by nothing more than goal difference. It is a  position they will no doubt expect to consolidate after three wins out of three in the league (Stoke, Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan). Yet Brentford are no slouches. We’ve seen the team really start to find their feet as we adjust to the loss of Neal Maupay and the acquisitions of those new faces. Derby County was the quintessential demonstration that Thomas Frank has the tools at his disposal. How he uses them today will be key.

Thankfully, injury is not something that will trouble him. Whilst we had nobody on England duty (one day…one day), those who did represent their countries have come back healthy. And hopefully not too tired ! With England scoring goals for fun – and shipping them too – supporters went home happy after the victories over Bulgaria and Kosovo last week. We won’t overly dwell on Gibraltar v Denmark and Switzerland, where the ‘shipping’ was our main issue.

The point being that it was still enjoyable. But it was still England qualifying. A largely redundant exercise for those seeking a competitive edge given the size of the groups, the amounts of teams who can get through and the quality of those playing. Give me the Championship any day of the week. At least until the tournament proper kicks off in 2020.

Until then, here’s to Preston away. Enjoy…..

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Supporters enjoy watching England win at Wembley

Nick Bruzon

Thomas Frank’s Demolition Derby.

1 Sep

Well that was something else. Brentford tanked Derby County in a game that finished 3-0 and could easily have seen the scoreline double that. It really was as dominant a performance as one could hope for against a team who, back to full strength after their mid-week changes against Nottingham Forest in the cup (that worked well), offered nothing. Their manager Philip Cocu would afterwards accuse his team of ‘arrogance’. It looked more like impotence to me, with the Rams unable to penetrate as the Bees ran riot.

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Raining (goals) at Griffin Park

Brentford were boosted by the news that Saïd Benrahama was finally able to start a game. What a performance he put in. But then you could say the same for Bryan Mbuemo on the right and Sergi Canos coming from the wing back position. With Rico pushing high on the other side  it really was about as attacking a team one could expect to see. Topping it off was Ollie Watkins in centre forward role. Norgaard and Jenssen are becoming stronger and stronger in the middle whilst the final three of Jeanvier, Pontus and Dalsgaard were rock solid in the rare moments of the visitors breaking through. David Raya was in goal but it could have been David Bowie and we’d probably still have kept a clean sheet.

Mbuemo got the first on 17, after Watkins had been denied whilst the favour was returned just 60 second later. Ollie sliding home after a wonderful move. Mbuemo supplying the killer pass but don’t underestimate the work performed by Sergi Canos in either goal. He was magnificent. Devastating. Destructive. Left the Rams tied up in knots.

That it was only three at half time is a question to rank alongside where the Derby County of last season have gone. Back to their parent clubs from loans, perhaps ? Either way, there was no answer to the waves of relentless Brentford pressure. Ollie wrapped up the scoring before going in for his half-time cuppa but the Bees could equally have had a penalty after Keogh was adjudged not to have handballed it. Hmmm. Move along Derby, nothing to see here.

The second half continued as the first had ended. Bees on top. Derby nowhere. To be fair, they did have a shot but Raya had it covered. And that was it from the visitors. If anything Brentford could, probably should, have made it at least four. If not more. Mbuemo seemed clean through with the goal gaping although the benefit of hindsight and TV show the good work done by Roos in the County goal. Likewise, when Ollie found himself sprinting clear for the hat-trick chance. Keeper Roos came bouncing out of the box to chest it away.

The return of dancing Buzzette and Saïd had the crowd buzzing from the off. The enthusiasm was tangible. Whether Peter Gilham almost exploding as he announced the second goal through to Benrahama’s post-substitution long walk back to the dugouts, whipping up the home fans behind the goal to further heights of excitement. And there he was at full time once more, taking HB’s request for a selfie into something quite unexpected. The positivity coursing through the team a joy to behold. The relationship with the supporters as strong as ever.

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Saïd helps HB take the search for the perfect selfie to the next level.

Thomas Frank noted at full time that “The first 45 minutes is one of the best I have seen at Griffin Park since I have been here”. There can’t be any out there who would disagree. The second wasn’t bad either, although could never compare to the explosive opener. Had one of those other chances gone in then who knows what might have been. However, to be anything but happy with such a comprehensive win over opponents who came so close to reaching the top flight last time out would be churlish. County weren’t even at the races. Brentford, like a champion derby winner.

The month has ended with Brentford recording wins over Derby and up at Middlesbrough. I’m still bamboozled by the points dropped against Birmingham City whilst we were a lick of paint away from maintaining our recent domination of Leeds United. Ollie is looking more and more comfortable up top whilst I’m loving Bryan Mbuemo. Here’s hoping September picks up where August left off.

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Men of the moment. Sergi and Ollie needed for a full house

Nick Bruzon