Tag Archives: Saïd Benrahma

We’re going to need a Biggar boat.

1 Oct

Next stop on the Premier League express, the Olympic Stadium. Brentford travel to West Ham United this Sunday afternoon for a 2pm kick off against a team we’ve not played competitively since 1993. Compared to some of those we’ve already taken points from this season (Arsenal and Liverpool, where league fixtures were nothing more than a relic of the 1940s, we’re looking at you) that’s fairly recent. Relatively speaking. Back then in our solitary second tier season under Phil Holder, 0-0 at Griffin Park was followed up a 4-0 drubbing / kicking in East London that saw the slide back to (now) League One continue its inexorable momentum. Mind you, the game before and Ray Biggar doing his thing in the 1-1 draw with Notts County – a ball breaking amount of mystery time ‘added on’ until the Magpies levelled it up on about +8 that anyone there will never, ever forget – was enough to destroy whatever fragile confidence we had left. 

Upton Park / The Boleyn Ground. Whatever. It all ended the same way

That was then. This is now. Just as we have VAR to help the ref and time boards raised by the fourth official in order to let us know exactly how long there is to squirm through, we’ve also got a squad that’s ten times better than any we’ve had before. And that includes teams that have been in play offs. Brentford are on fire and playing for fun. The only points dropped being the 90th minute smash and grab at home to Brighton. Unbeaten on the road and still smiling off the back of our most recent performance, the 3-3 with Liverpool last Saturday evening. A game of gargantuan proportions that saw the mother of all footballing battles. Ivan Toney denied an 87th minute winner by the Lino’s flag which, whilst the correct decision, for a moment sent Bees’ fans into even greater states of delirium than those giddy highs already reached.

It was about as far away a moment as just about anything we’ve ever experienced. Playing a Premier League game against a full strength Liverpool side. The league leaders going behind c/o Ethan Pinnock and then twice being pulled back when it looked like they should accelerate out of sight. Brentford brilliant. Everyone playing at 110%. No let up. And that was just the crowd. The atmosphere immense with on pitch commitment to match. The Anfield outfit coming out the other side knowing we aren’t just going to make up the numbers and any walkover they may have expected was as far from the truth as the popularity of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.

What pressure? Calm as you like against Liverpool

Of course, we can’t live completely in the past. Beating Arsenal. Blitzing Wolves at Molineux. Holding Liverpool. All well and good. All brilliant. All amazing. I wouldn’t trade any of it but now it is done. The stuff of memory. Use it to inspire us and learn from but don’t just think that because we’ve done the business so far, everyone else is going to roll over. That we’ll turn up and win. Very much a case of dragging out the cliches and taking each game as it comes. Which takes us full circle to the first line – our trip to West Ham United. The BIAS supporter’s boat is about to set sail once more. This time, for a rematch with Said Benrahma. A game against a team very much doing the business at present. Penalty based substitutions aside. Seriously? That was never going to work.       

Last night’s defeat of Rapid Vienna continuing fine form that domestically sees the Hammers as one of only eight teams better placed than Brentford in the football pyramid. Michail Antonio is grabbing the goals and the headlines. Declan Rice busting guts to do his thing. The team flying. The talismanic Algerian Benrahma finding a regular place, form that we are so familiar with from his time at Brentford and the goals starting to come too. West Ham will be as tough as anyone we’ve played so far. The atmosphere as intense. The teething troubles from the early days in their new home, seemingly consigned to the past. Supporters about as passionate as they come and even a few who have donned that most odious of items, the half and half scarf. Metaphorically and for real. Well, now’s the time to drop (or grow) your balls and pin those colours to the mast.   

Said (in pre-lockdown mode). As popular now as he was then for us

October 2021. Brentford on a Premier League roll. Its a long, long way from the lower leagues. From Leroy Rosenior, Terry Butcher et al. From fans raising funds to keep us afloat. From finally escaping the third tier and celebrating the achievement by replacing our leading scorer with, err, Murray Jones. From Ray Biggar helping send us back from where we had come. After years of hard work, shrewd investment, even shrewder strategy and a lot of patience we are now at the place we’ve aspired to be for so, so long. Inside the tent pissing out rather than the other way round. There’s no way anyone is going to willingly give any of this up. It’s just been too much fun so far. 

Sunday is going to be hard as, no question, but its another step in an incredible journey and I can’t wait. However you travel – tube, train or boat be safe. Certainly avoid the road. Fuel wankers aside, the London marathon means there are closures just about all over town.

See you there.

Biggar – perhaps the programme editor’s typo upset him

Nick Bruzon 

Those funky dance moves aren’t going to bust themselves.

1 Aug

August is upon us. Anything happening this month? Something something something Premier League. Less than two weeks for Brentford to wait until Arsenal come to visit. Exciting times are ahead and, already, under way. Having drawn with Manchester United during the week Saturday saw our first game at Lionel Road since the play-offs. It was the return of Said Benrahama with West Ham United for a pre-season run out that, as much as anything else, gave us a look at new players, old friends and our ‘actual’ seats for when it all starts properly. Of course ‘Corona Virus restrictions (a phrase to top the list of three word horrors) has meant that any entry afforded to our new home so far has been very much in the hands of fate as to where we were positioned. No complaints – even getting in was a privilege but it was an added bonus yesterday seeing how things would be when the season proper kicks off on Friday week.

A new chart topper for 2021

First up, West Ham. The visitors took it 1-0 courtesy of none other than Said Benrahama. It had to be really. The goal was the sort of top draw effort we saw him pull out the bag time and again in Brentford colours. It was a moment of sublime skill and if the hammers had to win, at least it was via spectacular effort that even had the Bees faithful offering respectful applause. Those that weren’t booing him through the game. I get we weren’t going to cheer him after the warm up but booing? Errrrr … Kayla pretty much nailing it on Twitter. Come for the comment, stay for the goal.

See also : the solitary voice constantly calling out 4 game loanee Ryan Fredericks (2012) as a Brentford reject. To do it once could be considered terrace wit. Constantly? Just odd. Still, it wouldn’t be football without a bit of niche reference and, frankly, how good to watch a game with fans present. Even away support who made a vociferous effort in the South-East corner prior to kick off then promptly decided to go all Arsenal i.e. silent.

For Brentford, another game where the opportunity to use the full length of the substitutes bench was taken. Shandon Baptiste impressed again with a jinking (happy, Jim?) run through the Hammers’ defence and a second half shot that came back off the post amongst several highlights. Likewise Frank Onyeka, whose first half performance was littered with impressive touches, runs and passing before injury brought it to a possible early conclusion. Fingers crossed his substitution was nothing more than precautionary. At least he appeared , unlike Kris Ajer who was again absent. Talk on the terrace suggesting that Celtic were delaying his paperwork although how true that is, of course, nothing more than conjecture.

Rico Henry was another welcome return. Pace down the left flank mirroring Mads Roerslev on the right as part of a defence that also included three centre backs. Is this how we’ll go in the Premier league ? Expect more clues on Saturday against Valencia. Regardless, expect Rico to start for sure. Like Josh Dasilva he was much missed in the run in last season and whilst the England U-21 still remains absent, at least we’ve one star name back in the starting XI .

To be fair, though, there was no poor showing. Brentford 2021/22 seem to have hit the ground with a consistently strong start all round. How much of this translates to league football remains to be seen. I tend not to read too much into pre-season showings but as much as anything else, it’s just nice to get back in front of our team. To see old faces aswell as a lot of new ones. To have a beer before and after the game. Even during – given the catering was not up and running at Lionel Road. Fast poor Guinness the way to go along with a lot of spicy offerings on the food front, including that most important of pre-match staples : the chicken balti pie. Even if there didn’t appear to be the more traditional burgers or hot dogs on offer which did seem somewhat of a surprise. Then again, perhaps it was just me being unobservant. Equally, seeing Thomas doing his end of game ‘thumbs up’ felt like things were back to normal.

Full time at Lionel Road

The other major absentees were Buzz and Buzzette. Presumably just waiting for that XXXXX kit to be delivered by Umbro. Who could forget the shameful pensioning off of Gunnersaurus driver Jerry Quy in October? Another victim of the corona virus cull. At the time, chairman Cliff Crown assured us they were safe but, to date, there has been no sighting of our furry friends. Whilst I am sure there is nothing to fear in their protected disappearance, one can only hope they return for Valencia and Arsenal. Those funky dance moves aren’t going to bust themselves.

Initial positivity but further comment definitely still needed

What else to say? Simply put: It was GREAT to be back. Lionel Road is a fantastic place to watch football. It’s not Griffin Park but it IS home. I’ve been lucky enough to make three visits since we were first allowed back for that Blackburn game. I’m enjoying it more and more each time. The anticipation for what it’s like when the place is full is already off the scale. That game with Valencia will be another step closer and then we’re up and running. As much, it was seeing old friends again. Of stopping at The Griffin for a pint or two. Of seeing the play-off final remembered once more. Emiliano may no longer be with us how nice to see Ewan Peleschka still choosing to honour his hero on this season’s shirt. Truly, the hallmark of a champion .

Loyal

Nick Bruzon

A chance to remember ‘that’ goal then look forward to an epic build up.

13 Jul

And thus pre-season was complete. At least, in terms of the calendar. Hot on the heels of our trip to Manchester United, Brentford have had the final two games of the build up confirmed. Saturday 31st July sees a visit from West Ham United with Spanish outfit Valencia next up in a 5.30pm kick-off the following Saturday (7 August). Six days later it all starts when Arsenal jump on the Piccadilly line to South Ealing. Full details are on ‘official’, with the Valencia game expected to see a full house and even some away fans present for the visit of West Ham (presumably, actual fans rather than those in the half/half scarves).

Arsenal are a short tube ride away

With all Corona bets off from July 19th – albeit we’ll see how long that lasts – the next natural step is for Brentford to go for broke in terms of capacity. The Valencia game has been declared as the formal opening of our new stadium and I can’t wait. The atmosphere against Blackburn and Bournemouth was nothing short of incredible. When the place is full – and especially when Arsenal visit for a full blooded, full fat encounter – it only promises to be immense. More importantly these are three tests that, at least in terms of opposition, one would hope may provide a bit more a steer as how the Bees will fare in the forthcoming season. Assuming both teams go full tilt rather than use them as an experiment in squad rotation. 

We’ll likely end up somewhere in between but as much as anything else its just an excuse to go to football once more. Why wouldn’t you. Cripes, we’ve missed it. Desperately. Euro 2020 showed that, as if any reminder were actually needed, despite the painful on-pitch denouement to that competition (can’t even begin myself to start about the shameful stuff that happened off it). We’re still wiping up the tears in our house even now. A brutal punch to the stomach of a young boy who has so far experienced a World Cup semi-final and a Wembley win to reach the Premier league. Normally unshakeable faith in his team now tested once more following our assault by Fulham in the previous play-offs. Oh well, like Doncaster Rovers and Yeovil Town you can file them in the ‘where are they now?“ files.

Which pretty much sums up the quite magnificent enigma that is Brentford FC 2021. That we can now mention Yeovil and Doncaster in the same breath as Manchester United, Arsenal and Valencia. Talk about time being a great healer. Talk about looking forward to enjoying every moment of the most monumental season for our club since records began. Sink or swim? Stay or go? Still under the radar and under rated or flying high from the off? Nobody gives us much of a hope, although Ivan Toney’s popularity in the Fantasy football stakes suggests otherwise. Personally speaking, I’m hugely optimistic (quelle surprise) although will perhaps forego the annual bet on Brentford to win the league. Something that, over the years, has seen us just about in net-gain territory. Perhaps it may be more prudent to go ‘each way’ , this season. 

This far in to a small piece on West Ham and no mention of Said Benrahma. Yet. Ah, it’ll be great to see him back and no doubt there’ll be an appearance. A player up there with Jota in the ability stakes and one who has gone on to the next level, despite yet to break into the first team on a regular basis. He was AMAZING at Griffin Park. He had that brief cameo at Lionel Road when scoring ‘that’ goal in the league cup against a hapless Fulham outfit. The turn and beautiful back-heeled nutmeg before rounding Michael Hector to unleash the mother of all shots. No doubt he’ll warm up to a heroes welcome before it all goes ‘panto villain’ once the game starts. 

‘That’ goal against Fulham last season..

What an opportunity for us to lay down a marker as to how far we’ve come. The fears that selling him and Ollie Watkins would see Brentford come to nothing last season, dispelled as quickly as Fulham’s Premier league survival hopes. The faith shown by those that stuck by Thomas and the team rewarded in the most incredible style at Wembley in May. The moment still feels as fresh now as it did then. It was a long time coming and still deserves to be enjoyed to the max. A moment to provide all the inspiration we need going forward.

With the Bees back in training already you can be sure Thomas will have us set to hit the ground running. The Euros have gone. The close-season (closed?) break now feels over. Sure, we‘ve a month to wait until the Premier League kicks off properly but now it feels as though the clock really is ticking. As though we are racing full tilt towards destiny. Now, the only things in the way of that season opens with Arsenal are Manchester United. Are West Ham. Are Valencia. 

My word, this is going to be fun…..

And as our regular final thought, the entire Last Word from 2019/20 aswell as all the programme articles (previously unpublished on line) and our season-finale guest columns from Natalie Sawyer and Kitman Bob remain available for download. The later in particular, my favourite column of the season as the inside story of the big build up to Wembley was revealed.

With all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund for CRY, we couldn’t be looking to try and help a better or more personal cause to Brentford FC. If anybody can spare a few quid to help and wants to get hold of an amazing story, told averagely, then they can do so here. THANK YOU

Until then, why not enjoy that Benrahma goal one more time…..

Nick Bruzon

Now let’s unmask this phoney fan and see who she really is…

10 Dec

Brentford 0 , Wayne Rooney’s (interim) Derby County 0. The Bees made it ten unbeaten on a night that, being honest, was as frustrating on pitch as it was exciting off. We head into the weekend, sitting 7th (seventh) in the Championship. A win away from Bournemouth in the automatic spots and facing the prospect of a trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon. Themselves, victims by the odd goal in three at table topping Norwich City and sure to be raging after going behind, again, just after they’d hauled themselves back in to it last night. Yet the fact that we’re already talking about another team is, perhaps, subconsciously telling us all we need to know about last night at Lionel Road. My word that was hard going.

For the supporters taking their turn on the ticket merry go round, you could see and hear what this meant. Social media was awash with more positivity and photos. It sounded great from the TV and just imagine what the noise will be like when the stadium is eventually allowed to be full (scientists calculate that as being approximately 2032). 

Back home we had the intriguing combination of witnessing this in the company of Natalie Sawyer and Jonathan Douglas sitting with Mark and Mick in the commentary box. Fate bringing together one of our more recognisable fans alongside a former player who is a hero to just about all Brentford supporters. They seemed to go well together !  Mark was in there with his Cameron Diaz story  – pretty sure I heard her name mentioned on more than one occasion – as her fake fandom was once again put into the minds of all true Bees (and if you’d like to read more, then let’s never forget her celebrity supporter status, or lack of, being unmasked on national radio…).

Now lets unmask this imposter

Again, though, we’re digressing from the main event. When Brentford fans (or lack of) are the talking point then we’re probably in the right ball park after a gritty 0-0. It was one that saw us unable to break through the eleven men Wayne Roo… (can we just call them Derby County and take the Rooney bit as read?) had packed behind the ball. 59% possession for Brentford (I’d have had it as more) and 12 shots only tell part of the story. The crucial factor being that not one of those was on target. That when the chances came, we blazed high. We fired wide. We didn’t trouble their goalkeeper. Bryan Mbeumo, starting this one alongside Sergi and Ivan, had the best of these. It seemed harder to miss than score yet he managed the former when he found himself just yards out early in the second half with the goal gaping.

That’s football. Ideally the game doesn’t hang on one chance. Vitaly Janelt had a pair of shots from distance early on as it looked like it was simply going to be a matter of time before the floodgates opened. ‘This is going to be 0-0’ said Mrs. Bruzon early on. Hmm. What does she know? Rico’s on fire. Sergi has picked up where he left off against Blackburn. Ivan is the division’s top scorer. Alas, as with everything in life, she was right. Josh Dasilva also had his moment but couldn’t quite find a way through in a game where Thomas Frank noted at full time that, “We created five big chances but didn’t have the sharpness or quality in the decisive moments.

Too true, Thomas. His team selection was strong enough. The opposition came to do a job on us and they succeeded. No complaints there. An away point from a promotion chasing team no bad thing in their eyes, I’m sure. For Brentford, though, can there be any positives? 

Well yes, of course there are. The unbeaten sequence aside, it was another clean sheet. It was another game without Christian Norgaard – a player that I’m intrigued to see playing with Vitaly Janelt. Too similar or the making of Brentford 2021? It was another solid performance from Mads Bech Sørensen. It was another point that keeps us well in contention. This time last season we were eighth with 27 from 17 games played. This time around we are one point and one position better off. Not so much clutching at straws after a ‘challenging’ 90 minutes but more the case of looking at the table with fresh eyes having slept on it following, rather than during, the game.

For me, Clive, the frustrating thing is as much seeing Said Benrahma keeping the bench warm at West Ham. The reasons for selling (sorry, loaning) him are clear to all and so there are no complaints there. He wanted his move to the top flight and the money will be very good for us. Yet last night was the sort of game where having a player of his unique ability could have been the difference between the win and the eventual draw. He’d have decimated them, had he been on his game.

There’s no benefit in crying over who we don’t have but at the same time there has been a clear gauntlet thrown down which, to date, none of the wider players have consistently looked like picking up. We’re solid at the back. We drive forward in midfield. The goals are coming up top (normally). Unlocking that final area of the pitch is the challenge. It’s great that the full backs can overlap in such style but Rico must be knackered. Thomas can only pick from his available squad and, perhaps, it will be a return to the combination of Canos, Forss and Toney that serves us best against Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Go for it from the off and see what happens. 

For now, though, it IS another point and another game where we’ve had some more of the fans back in. Long may that continue. ( Did somebody say Tier 3…..…?). Derby County are still languishing in the bottom three and we’ve a trip to another of their relegation rivals to look forward to this weekend. Chris Hughton’s recent record at Forest is on a par with Simply Red’s greatest hits – short and terrible. LLDLL from the last five doesn’t make good reading. 

So I’m happy still. It wasn’t a great spectacle but one game is only a small part of the bigger picture. A picture which is a frenetic, non-stop season with games coming week on week on week. I’d love to have won but in the end we’re as lucky not to have lost. Derby had their own chance(s) late on and that post is still rattling.

Move along. Nothing to see here. Instead, its one for the record books and the ongoing hope that, one day, perhaps Cameron might just check what she is missing out on. Hey, if its good enough for Ryan Reynolds and Wrexham….. Yet even if she does, somehow, appear Natalie will always remain Queen Bee.

Nick Bruzon 

Football fraud or the right result?

8 Nov

WE WON THIS GAME, BY A LOT!… THE FANS WERE NOT ALLOWED INTO THE STADIUM. WE WON THE GAME, GOT 71,000,000 GOALS. BAD THINGS HAPPENED WHICH OUR FANS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SEE. NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. MILLIONS OF THANK YOU LETTERS WERE SENT TO PEOPLE WHO NEVER ASKED FOR THEM! Hmmm. Not even Donald Trump himself would be able to try and convince you that the 0-0 snoozefest between Brentford and Middlesbrough was anything but a gift from the gods for the insomniacs amongst us. Whilst there was some consolation to be taken from the hilarious proceedings at West Ham later in the evening (where FulhamL have done it again) let’s not pretend the game at Lionel Road wasn’t horrific. Football fraud of the highest order.

Official update us as FT. Was this the score or shots on target?

Let’s try to look positive. Brentford didn’t lose. We’re unbeaten in four games now. Mads Bech Sorensen impressed again as did Ethan Pinnock alongside him. The Bees are only five points off second place and we now get a well earned rest. Thank heavens Rico Henry and Ethan Pinnock have avoided international call ups. 

Likewise, Middlesbrough are no mugs. With the Jonathan Woodgate experiment consigned to the annals of history, Neil Warnock is doing what he does. Sucking any glamour out of his football and, instead, replacing it with a steely resolve. An indefatigability from his squad combined with a simple inability to breakdown the most solid of midfields. With Matthias Jenssen shackled all afternoon and Vitaly Janelt sitting in the holding role, we were unable to make any intent as the midfield was swamped in our visitors favour.   

Ironically, despite the presence of the Championship’s leading scorer in Ivan Toney it was Janelt himself who had the one golden chance of the game. With Brentford starting the second half in a more attacking frame of mind, he connected with a low Dalsgaard cross just yards out. Surely this was it? The sort of opportunity even Ian Moose might have claimed he could have tucked away as easily as he would a pie at a half-time buffet. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Instead of guiding it home the shot was slashed at and spooned wide. Urghh. 

It was that close. At least I think that’s what they’re saying

It happens. No slating of the player from me for a solitary near miss. Middlesbrough came to do a job and boy did they do it. They got their point and stay above us. Frankly, we didn’t have the nous or the tactical wherewithal to get past our opponents. Kudos to them for also going unbeaten and their own start to the season. Say what you want about it but they’re a hell of a lot more effective than last time out. The sort of Boro’ side that have long held the jinx factor over us in the Championship. I suppose we should be grateful we didn’t lose! 

Look. It’s one more game. The unbeaten streak is coming together. We’re well, well in contention and have a run of games coming up against lower placed teams. Wycombe, Barnsley, Quarter Pound of Rubbish and then Rotherham United. Those of you getting stressed that we aren’t winning the league with 33 points come back after those. Look at early pace setters Reading whose record now reads LLL. Look at Wayne Rooney’s Derby County – languishing at the very bottom of the Championship after Sheffield Wednesday saw their 12 point deduction reduced to 6.

The Championship is an absolute marathon rather than a sprint. The table may have ‘taken shape’ but it is still tighter than Trump’s claims of voter fraud. I’d love to have a few more wins under the belt but I still think we’re heading in the right direction.

The key decision remains one of replacing Said Benrahma on the opposite flank to Bryan Mbeumo. It is, to date, something we’re yet to do convincingly. Then again, how do you replace the irreplaceable? For all those laying in to the players that Thomas has tried, let’s not forget the boots that need to be filled. That once in a lifetime talent – when he could be bothered, of course. Let’s not pretend either that our own miracle man had a tendency to go awol at times.

It was Boys Own stuff at times

We’ll get there. International break has come at the perfect time to allow for a recharge. Whilst a staunch traditionalist when it comes to footballing matters, even I’d agree that perhaps for this season the extended substitutes bench is really needed once more. There are just too many games and too many injuries. A temporary return from three to five substitutes one which may well benefit everybody in the longer term. Until that happens, expect tired legs to be running around for another 90 minutes as we saw yesterday.

And finally, whilst the Benrahma / West Ham story is now done and dusted one couldn’t help but notice how he and the Hammers got on yesterday. As much due to their opposition – FulhamL.  Sure enough, another game saw another defeat for the Cottagers. That’s now 6 out of 8. The latest coming at the Olympic Stadium last night where the home side took an injury time lead c/o a Benrahma assist. Hmm – let’s see if that one makes official’s ‘Loan round up’ . Yet Scott Parker’s boys had an even later chance to level things up when awarded a spot kick. That is, until this happened. Quite possibly the worst penalty of all time. Enjoy….

Nick Bruzon

No income tax, no VAT. No money back, no guarantee.

17 Oct

The news we all feared was confirmed on Friday. Brentford will go into today’s game with Coventry City knowing we’ll be missing one of our most essential players. One of those automatic choices on the team sheet (think Dougie under Warburton or the unicorn when Marinus was the helm). Christian Norgaard has an ankle injury and will be out for eight weeks. It looked bad when he went off during the Preston anomaly (that being the 2-4 reverse rather than one of Billy Reeves’ favourite bands) and now we know. Elsewhere, West Ham finally got their man. Kind of. Whatever you think about the way they undertook their business, Said Benrahma will now be plying his trade at the Olympic stadium. Assuming, of course, he’s fit enough. You know, having ‘failed’ their medical.

It’s official

First up, Coventry City. Say what you want about Brentford, and many have, but we never fail to surprise even our own fans. That game with Preston was about as awful as it gets. And bizarre. 2-0 up at half time thanks to a brilliant brace from Ivan Toney (Oh, that pass from Sergi…) we fell apart in the second period in a manner that would make even Leeds United blush. My word it was horrific. Awful. A car crash. An insult to the word defending. etc etc etc. 

We all saw it. We all get it. Move on. Frankly, it is an impossibility that we could go awol like that again. Ever. We know what this team and this squad is capable of on their day. And that was anything but it. I’m absolutely expecting a statement of intent today. A demonstration that it was a freak of nature and, unfortunately, Coventry City are the wrong team in the wrong place.  Canos, Mbeumo, Dasilva to go rogue. Fosu to get a run out and do his thing. Raya back in goal. Toney to add to his collection. 

Cripes, we need it. That’s for sure.  We’ve that open question as to who replaces Christian Norgaard and, of course, the frustration over West Ham. No bad vibe towards Said. Quite the opposite. He was magnificent as a Bee and it has been apparent he’s wanted that step up. We all know what he can do. His talents most definitely befitting the top flight – even if it is only for a season. Said lit up Griffin Park and we loved him. Jota levels of excitement.  Let’s not pretend, either, that this one doesn’t hurt though.

No matter how philosophical one can be about our transfer model and recruitment strategy, for supporters it is Jota and Maupay levels of ‘Nooooooo’. An iconic and unique talent leaving Brentford for pastures new. We all knew this day would come and can only wish him well. The manner West Ham conduct their business one which has left a sour taste in the mouth.

A unique talent

Surprise, surprise – they weren’t able to pay up. Rather we’re left with a cobbled together deal that could only go through after the window had shut. One which involves an initial loan period and downpayment of £5million, a guaranteed £20m purchase at the end of the season  and then a further £5m of add ons. When we said he was part of a BMW, nobody expected the Hammers to act like they were trying to buy a second hand car. One very careful owner. Let’s just hope they don’t go under or try some means to weasel out of this further down the track should things not work out for whatever reason. After all, this is a player who apparently failed his medical. Hmmm

As Nathan Caton put so wonderfully….  Benrahma fails a medical at a club where Jack Wilshere & Andy Carroll passed theirs???? Yo West Ham if you don’t have the money just say bruh…

So instead, we go down this route. An inability to stump up the cash has left us agreeing to this one. It worked with Ryan Woods and, I suppose, as long as that contract is water tight then all good further down the track. We don’t need to sell and have stuck to our guns so long that a decision to go down this route is one that Matthew and the DOFs have felt is in our interests. That doesn’t stop it felling like we’ve been played, though.

That West Ham have been haggling like Del Boy on a market stall rather than a football club befitting their proud history and tradition. World Cup / FA Cup winners in 1966 and 1980, as you may be aware.

This tweet from Ongar hammer was one of many form their own fans offering similar sentiments: Our owners are the most despicable bastards going , we despise them with a passion, they are a disgrace.

Still, we’ve agreed to it. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes? We’ve proven time and again we’re no mugs in our transfer dealings. You and me getting upset isn’t going to change anything. I can’t waste the energy on it and can only wish Said well. Hope his enthusiasm, joie de vivre and talent can all translate to the pitch at his new home. 

If he does what we know he can then West Ham supporters are going to wet themselves. For us, time to focus on the future. And that starts on I-follow this afternoon with Coventry City visiting Lionel Road.

See you on the couch at 3pm.

Nick Bruzon

The simple truth about Benrahma and Brentford.

14 Oct

West Ham / Benrahma blah blah blah. Quelle Surprise. As of Wednesday morning the Algerian master is still a Brentford player. Who’d have thought it? All the click bait in the world counts for naff all. As we said on these pages earlier in the week, he won’t be going there on the cheap. Whatever you read abut deals stalling and broken promises, the simple truth of the matter is that Said remains a Brentford player. For now. Whether anyone comes up with an actual serious bid – Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Brighton are the other names we’ve seen bandied around – remains to be seen of course. If they do, then kerr-chinggg. If not, we retain the services of the most exciting player in the Championship.

There’s still almost three days to go and that’s a long time, of course. 5pm on Friday is when all deals must be completed. With personal terms having allegedly been agreed then should West Ham actually blow the dust off the ‘tens column’ in their chequebook things could well happen. Likewise, those goals against Fulham L would only have reminded other suitors of what he can do. Crystal Palace were the other team whose name kept appearing earlier in the ‘window’ but, personally, I’ve got half an eye on Aston Villa swooping in. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the obvious reasons for that one.

Said was back to his very best against Fulham L

One thing’s for sure, with revenue streams falling rapidly as fans remain locked out, Premier League survival this season is more important than ever. European qualification equally so. We’ve already seen huge money thrown around and this will continue over both the next few days and the mid-season window. Said is the obvious crown jewel, ripe for plucking by whomever has the balls to make the right offer. 

With our own goal that of promotion to the top flight then of course it makes perfect sense to hope he stays. For what it’s worth, my own preference would be that we keep (a happy) Benrahma. Transfer money is great. It is the lifeblood that will keep us going until the time we are all allowed back in. Whenever that may be. But to make it up you need the very best options at your disposal. No matter what miracles Thomas Frank was able to conjure out of his squad last season, we all know what a huge part of that Said is.

There’s that key word though. Happy. Has Said had his head turned? Sweet nothings poured into his ear? Is his heart already set on West Ham? Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. Let’s not forget the saga of Neal Maupay who was giving everything for the Bees and his long term desire to stay – then agents and Brighton happened. Should Said stay at Lionel Road will it be a case of having to reignite the fire in somebody who would rather be elsewhere? What use is a, so called, ‘wantaway’  player who drifts out of games because he has the hump? 

We all know what a happy Said can do

None of the clickbait or conjecture will help you find any answers to that one. Either he goes or he stays. And if the later then you can bet Thomas and his team will have our man firing on all cylinders before you can say “Siracusa”. (It’s a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford lock. Apparently).  

This is where we can have no influence and no impact. None of what I, you or any of the fans want will make a difference All the stress, angst and trying to sniff out clues aren’t going to help. There are no real clues to be sniffed out. Enigmatic ‘sources’ nothing more than a lure with little or no actual substance behind them. Brentford simply don’t advertise in this fashion. Bidding clubs don’t show their hands so openly. Matthew and his directors of football play hard ball.

Who is looking at Benrahma? Who has shoddier photoshop?

All of which adds up to: he’ll go but it will be at our price. Who knows where and who knows when though? Today? Tomorrow? January? Next season? Aston Villa? Crystal Palace? West Ham even? Hey, this is football. The unexpected always happens.

Elsewhere, England play Denmark tonight. Christian Norgaard remains out of the squad with that injury picked up against Preston last Sunday. There’s been no real news on him since and one has to hope he is on the road to recovery. The visit from Coventry City is almost upon us and, like Said, he’s a key part of the squad. Mathias Jensen and Henrik Dalsgaard are still key parts of the Danish set up and it’s always interesting to see how they go against top flight opposition.

That one kicks off at 7.45pm. As with the Wales game last week, it will be played out at an empty Wembley stadium. Good news indeed for those who love a bit of atmosphere at their England games – we’ll be ‘band’ free once more. 

Whatever else is going on around us, that’s cause enough to celebrate. See you on the couch this evening.

That. Band. It always comes back to this

Nick Bruzon

We’re talking about the master. Not some untried apprentice.

11 Oct

The combination of minimal domestic football due to international break and the partially closed transfer window are a potent brew for those in need of internet hits. Nowhere is this seen more than in the Benrahma from Brentford to West Ham stories doing the rounds. We should be talking about Gibraltar and their cracking win in Liechtenstein (a 100% record in UEFA Nations League group D2 so far). Instead, we’re feeling dirty for nibbling at the clickbait of another non-story. Sky sports Lyall, we’re looking at you. There’s nothing new been added to the ongoing rumours. No fact. Just another line as part of a generic summary about things that may / could / might happen.

Benrahma is still a Bee

Said Benrahma will, of course, leave Brentford at some point. That’s how football works. With The Bees, especially so. It may even be in the next week. But as has been made apparent time and again we have no need or particular desire to sell. Unless, of course, the right offer is made. The club have proven our players can do it at the very highest level (Ollie Watkins at Aston Villa the obvious latest example) and we’re just not going to give away our crown jewels any more. West Ham are going to need a much bigger cheque if they’re even vaguely serious about this one.

Which, traditionally, they’re not. At least in offering the asking price. Long is the history of them being talked up about serious offers for players that never materialise. They are the club linked to more rumours than Donald Trump. More fake news than err, well you get the gist.  How much they generate to keep their fans quiet under the belief that things are ‘happening’ (oh, what a shame it didn’t work out but we tried) and how much is purely down to ‘journalists’ selecting them as ‘transfer rumour club of choice’ I have no idea. But it’s all nonsense. Always is. Better source needed. Like selecting ketchup over HP, it’s just wrong.

My own source suggests there’s no hope of us giving in to a cut price deal. At face value, our finances look healthy. We’ve seen that incredible take up of fans in letting the club roll their season tickets over to next season. Over 90% opting to freeze their season tickets rather than take any form of interim / full-time refund. That’s one outpouring of cash we don’t need to worry about for now whilst Ollie’s £33m is more than helping balance the books. Thanks very much, Dean .

If Benrahma is to go to the Olympic stadium it’s going to need a bid that, at the least, matches the money needed to release Ollie to Aston Villa. Cut the crap and cut to the chase if you are even half-way serious. Good luck with that everyone. Frankly, he’s more chance of turning out in their claret and blue than that of the Hammers based on the current situation. 

It may change, of course. Sometimes these things can happen. Perhaps the offer will have an extra ten million added to it. But I’m not holding my breath. Not overly worried, either way. If he goes then he goes. It all only be on terms that makes us very happy and very well off. If Said stays then he’s another part of a squad that has already seen David Raya and England U-21 goal-scorer Josh Dasilva extend contracts in the last week or so.

If that seems a bit blasé then it goes without saying that my preference would be for Said to continue his journey with Brentford. I’m not a complete idiot. We all know what he can do on his day. We know there are few, if any, with the ability to control a ball or pul of tricks the way he can do. To beat his man with one foot tied behind his back (metaphorically speaking) and pull of goals of the highest quality. Make no mistake, Benrahma is a rare talent. Any squad is stronger with him in it and I’d love that to be ours.

But whenever he eventually leaves we’ll be quids in and with the confidence that our directors of football seem to know what they are doing . Are two steps ahead of the rest and have got ‘the model’ working just right now. Those early days of Marinus and Proschwitz nothing more than a blip.

Very much the magician

Right, Gibraltar.  The boys from the Victoria Stadium proved they can do also it on the road. They travelled to Liechtenstein last night and made it two wins out of two in their Nation’s League qualifying group, topping the table at the half way point. Tjay De Barr the man to make his mark in the record books, ten minutes in to a game which featured a masterclass in ‘rock’ solid defence towards the end. Hats off, Kyle Goldwin. Amongst others.

The game was as notable for another win as it was the latest appearance for the new Gibraltar kit. Gone is the traditional ‘coat of arms’ badge and, instead, the new crest and stylised stripes to represent ‘The Rock’ (consistent across home, away and ‘third’ kit) were all present.

Whilst the red/white home shirt does have feel of the GFA being sponsored by Citroen, the change variants are beautiful. Forget the marketing buzzwords (oh please, can we forget marketing buzzwords) and uplifting music that accompany launch videos. Instead, let’s just marvel in this and the black / gold third choice worn recently against Malta – itself my favourite of the three. Is it too soon to start a Christmas list?

Third choice is best

And talking of kit, there’s something very special up on eBay at present for Brentford fans. The famous non-branded Hummel shirt worn in the interim period between the Danish giants parting ways and Core taking over in the mid 90s. I understand that monies raised are all going to support a local football club and, whilst looking like it is out of yours truly’s price bracket (oh, that Griffin Park auction is still hurting), these things don’t come around too often.

Yet we can only end where we started, with Said Benrahma. For what it’s worth, I think we’ll absolutely cash in at some point. I just can’t see it being on the cheap to West Ham this week. We’re talking about the master, not the apprentice. Karren Brady and the board are really going to have to spend big if this is one investment they want to make.

There’ll need to be some big talking in the boardroom

Nick Bruzon

Another excellent bit of business for the future.

7 Oct

The transfer window has shut. Kind of. Whilst it has now closed for international registration, there’s still an additional two week extension agreed between the EFL and Premier league. Meaning 5pm next Friday, 16 October, is when Brentford fans hoping Said Benrahma will stay can relax. That hasn’t stopped us moving though, with very welcome news coming out of Lionel Road yesterday. In the Championship, Nottingham Forest L have moved quickly to arrest their current run of anti-form by replacing Abril Lamouchi with former Bee Chris Hughton. This does not bode well for the rest of the division. And there’s been a twist in the tail in regards to yesterday’s piece about Arsenal terminating their mascot, Gunnersaurus. None other than Mesut Ozil has stepped in to the breach whilst very much painting his club into a corner.

First up, as ever, Brentford. Josh Dasilva has signed a contract extension that ties him to the club until 2024. Like David Raya last week, he has committed to another four years and this is just wonderful news. The midfielder has been in magnificent form this season (like Sergi Canos, one of our outstanding players so far) but, to be fair, this is something that has been growing and growing since he turned down the offer of a contract with Arsenal in August 2018 and headed West.

Throwback to Josh joining

We all know what Josh can do, of course. Those goals from the edge of the box have fast become a trademark and are much more the norm than an ad-hoc nicety. Thomas Frank summed things up succinctly when talking to ‘official’ yesterday, noting: “His running and his pressing are getting better and better and he is taking responsibility defensively. He is magnificent on the ball; he can dictate a game and he scores goals. I expect there is even more to come from him”. 

Well put. Josh really is another of those who could go all the way. He made his England Under-21 debut against Austria last month and, I am sure, will go on to make more. He’s in the squad for tonight’s game in Andorra and the fixture with Turkey next week. On current form, I’d expect him to make the bench at the very least this evening. Yet another tick in the box for our ongoing ability to attract the very best under-the-radar young talent. A demonstration that taking the time to invest in individuals continues to reap rewards. Congratulations Josh. Looking forward to seeing you continue in action for Brentford. And England.

Great news for the Bees

Next up, Benrahma. The saga that never ends. The transfer window is closed but it isn’t. Players can still leave the EFL for the top flight although who will have the cash to spend, I wonder? If anyone. Brentford have made no secret of playing hard ball over our most coveted stars. Ollie Watkins cost Aston Villa £33m whilst look at the whole Raya / Arsenal story – we had no desire or need to sell. The price had to be very right. And it wasn’t. 

Wilfried Zaha is still at Crystal Palace so does that mean their alleged interest in Said is over?   Who knows. I’m not even sure I follow this convoluted system of staggered windows which are closed but still open depending on where you play. All I can say is that this is sure to remain a tense few weeks – for the top flight. I can’t see Said going anywhere. Not now. With Julian Jeanvier amongst those already out on loan, the squad was further trimmed yesterday with news that Jan Zamburek (Shrewsbury) and Halil Dervisoglu (FC Twente) have also left Brentford in the short term. 

It goes without saying I’d love him to stay. Sergi has filled his boots in some, albeit different, style although there’s nobody on earth who can do what the Algerian can. The Spaniard has certainly given it his all whilst that ball through to Bryan Mbeumo for our opener against Preston on Sunday (yes, we were actually winning at one point) was as much Seve Ballesteros as it was Sergi Canos . Absolute perfection. Yet Said is a unique talent and when he does stay, I can’t wait to see how Thomas will fit them both into his starting XI. Good luck with that ! In the nicest sense.

Next up, Nottingham Forest. How deep are their pockets? How can they afford it all? Having splashed the cash over the summer, their start has been somewhat less than electric. Asbri Lamouchi paid the price yesterday but was replaced within what felt like minutes by none other than our friend Chris Hughton. It was a brutal hit. Efficient. Ruthless. Clean. Lamouchi’s chair still warm and spinning as the ex-Brentford man sat down to sign his new up for his stint at the City Ground.

Cripes. It’s a good appointment. Very good. Chris has more than earned his stripes in the Championship and the Premier League in the past I’d really thought we might have seen him in the Griffin Park hotseat. Certainly, it would have been an appointment welcomed although we’ve gone a different route these days. And I’m glad we have, having long been an admirer of Thomas Frank’s style and approach. However, Forest fans should be ecstatic about this one. If nothing else, surely they’ll get a more exciting style of football and a man who knows how to get out of the division. 

Hopefully, for him, upwards rather than outwards. Forest certainly have a Leeds United / Real Madrid approach to managerial appointments. Prior to this news, including caretakers and short term appointments there have been 20 previous incumbents since since Billy Davies’ (first spell) came to an end in June 2011.  Good luck, Chris.. On and doff pitch. Although not too good! 

And finally, Arsenal. Not David Raya but the story yesterday of how, as part of a cost cutting exercise, the club had dismissed the man behind mascot Gunnersaurus after 23 years. Shameful stuff. This, despite their then splashing  of £45million on Thomas Partey and then, even worse, using a… signing hashtag. Urgh, set phasers for cringe and prepare for #NoThomasNoPartey

Yet who should ride to the rescue than club star Mesut Ozil? He took to social media where he declared, in what is royally the single trending topic of yesterday: I was so sad that Jerry Quy aka our famous & loyal mascot @Gunnersaurus and integral part of our club was being made redundant after 27 years. As such, I’m offering to reimburse @Arsenal with the full salary of our big green guy as long as I will be an Arsenal player…   

No pressure there then, Gunners. Having made this quite astounding decision in the first place, they were always going to be subject to a significant level of  public outcry. Like Kingsley at Partick Thistle, Gunnersaurus has an almost universal appeal in the football world. That rare example of being able to transcend club boundaries without the need for a (shudders) half and half scarf. Now the club are being put in a position where they have to make an embarrassing backtrack or put a small entry on the balance sheet ahead of this fan favourite.

Who doesn’t love seeing a PR shambles with a happy ending? It’s a fairly safe bet Jerry will be back in the suit soon.

Nick Bruzon

It was Boy’s Own stuff on Thursday but who starts now ?

3 Oct

The League Cup has been and gone. Brentford are through and that’s fantastic but that’s also as far as it goes. For now. Thoughts of a Christmas quarter-final with Newcastle United can wait for another month or so. Instead, the focus is back on the Championship and Sunday afternoon’s visit from Preston North End. With the mood at Lionel Road one of optimism – as much due to the performance of Said Benrahma as off-field updates that came in a new signing and the David Raya to Arsenal story finally being put to bed – the big question being who starts? And up at Aston Villa, the love story between Dean Smith and  Jota has come to an end.

First though, Brentford. Cripes. Who’d be a head coach? What lovely problems for Thomas Frank to have. What decisions to make. Everyone’s a manager and will have different options as to the team. Sergi Canos has been wonderful but Said Benrahma sent a reminder about what he can do in the most jaw-dropping style.

‘That’ goal against Fulham, with Michael Hector humiliated by the backwards nutmeg, before the Algerian lashed it low and hard into the bottom corner from distance was pure Boys Own stuff. A more incredible return than the second coming of Jota.

Benrahma’s skils – an obscene publication?

Then there’s Mbeumo and Ghoddos. The waiting for Saman was rewarded as he provided the perfect tee up for Marcus Forss to open the scoring on Thursday.  Bryan is immense though. We all know his pace down the flanks and prowess in front of goal. Could Emiliano be sweating tonight as we at least try to fit three of the four into the starting XI? That’s before you even consider Toney v Forss. The big money replacement for Ollie Watkins or the young pretender with the thunderbolts in his boots and the habit of scoring whenever he takes the field?

Dominic Thompson had a great game whilst in goal, David Raya has shown just why Arsenal were so heavily linked. Those rumours should now be dispelled for a while after it was confirmed our number one had signed a four year contract extension on Friday. Pity Luke Daniels who has done a fine job deputising in the league for a man who has pulled off some world class saves during the Cup run. A man who, don’t forget, is the current holder of the Championship golden gloves.

Luke, of all, has most to lose should Thomas twist rather than stick when it comes to selection for Preston. Having waited his turn, it has finally come. Drop him back to the bench and you may aswell start looking to the B team for our reserve ‘keeper. That is, assuming Luke wants first team football. He’s more than good enough for it at this level, that’s for sure. I don’t envy Thomas that choice or that conversation – with either ‘keeper.

For me, Clive, assuming there are no injury doubts I think he’ll go :

Raya, Henry, Dalsgaard, Pinnock, Jansson, Norgaard, Dasilva, Marcondes, Benrahma, Mbeumo, Toney.

It’s going to be harsh on anybody who misses out after Thursday but with international break approaching, this is the time to go for it. Personally speaking, I’d love to see Marcus Forss start but if nothing else the bench should be tastier than a slice of sour-dough toast smeared in marmite i.e very.

Elsewhere, there’s been more transfer news. The bees have signed German Under-21 Vitaly Janelt from VfL Bochum. There was no pretence about the  midfielder’s skillset from Thomas, describing him as “Dynamic in his play and strong in the middle when it comes to duels. Most importantly, he has the aggressiveness and intensity in the high press that we want to have”.

Another classic set of signing photos suggesting we’ve picked up a player who would fit in as well as alongside a Jonathan Douglas or Christian Norgaard as he would in a cold war era spy thriller. Think the Man From Uncle or anything from the second best Bond, Connery.

All being well Vitaly is as stylish on field as he is off it

700 words in and no mention our opponents. Well, those early season results are tricky to get too much of a reading from. The Lilywhites have only managed a single point so far but that was up at Carrow Road – not a performance to be sniffed at. Are home defeats to Stoke and Swansea the sign of a team on the way out or simply one finding their feet in another bizarre season of behind-closed-doors football?  

We’ll find out on Sunday afternoon, that’s for sure. Season ticket holders should have been sent their I-follow codes by now. Don’t forget those all important tricks to ensure stress free sign on… Firstly, use Chrome. Not Safari. Surely something as simple as an internet browser thingy shouldn’t make such a significant difference but, as we now know, it does. Secondly, even though the codes allow you to watch for free, credit cards details are still required. Presumably supporters wanting to watch the Huddersfield game the other week will have now bypassed that pitfall but for anybody just coming in from work, please be aware.

And talking of watching football over the internet… Rasmus, bring forth the crowbar. The latest edition of ‘The Warm Up’ has now gone live on YouTube. Marcus and Stu are again joined by Karleigh Osborne for a look back at Fulham and Millwall along with a couple of very special challenges. Even  Harlee Dean, sorry Crash Bandicoot, puts in an appearance in the ‘nutmeg’ challenge. There’s another competition and the results of last week’s. Plus a forfeit that must now be paid. And how……

Finally, Jota. I make no secret of the fact he has been my favourite Brentford player in years. As much for the hair. The excitement of Benrahma, the last minute goals, the leaving opponents for dead (poor Jake Bidwell) and the return from loan after his love-letter to the fans. It all ended on somewhat of a disappointing note with the triple transfer swoop by ten times better Birmingham City before the King finally found his place in the top flight with Aston Villa. 

Sadly though, it wasn’t to be. After just 16 appearances his contract has been cancelled a year early by mutual consent. He is a free agent and surely Spain beckons? I mean, there’s no way he’ll come back here a third time. Is there…?

I’ll never forget all those good times and wonderful moments. Hail to the King. Wherever he goes.

Oh Jota…. Any excuse

Nick Bruzon