Tag Archives: Scotland

I’m glad I support Brentford rather than one big fish in a rapidly stagnating pond. And Dean speaks

5 Jul

Football is slowly waking up. This time last year, we were talking about Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar beating Celtic 1-0 in the Champions League qualifiers. Quite possibly the most embarrassing results in Scottish football history (to add to an already long list) yet last night they were equalled by fellow Glasgow side Rangers when the fourth best team in Luxembourg, part timers Progrès Niederkorn, knocked them out of Europe. And closer to home, Brentford boss Dean Smith has been up in front of the Sky sports cameras.

Ordinarily these pages wouldn’t look at the Scottish game but Rangers have held a bit of a fascination in recent years, given the circumstances which saw former Brentford boss Mark Warburton both join and leave the Ibrox club. “You walk around the stadium, the first time for me this morning, and you smell the history” he said upon becoming their manager in June 2015.

I’m sure this morning they’ll be smelling something rather different North of the border and Warbs will be very pleased with his decision to resign prior to joining Nottingham Forest. Internet bookmaker PaddyPower have already declared Celtic as league Champions prior to a ball being kicked although, to be fair, most bookies have them as 1/9 on at best to lift that particular silverware.

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Other bookmakers are also available

For all the ongoing talk about these two ‘giants’ of Scottish football joining the English Premier League, the totally one sided nature of their domestic league along with results such as those against Progrès or Lincoln show how out of touch they sadly are these days. A point made all the more apparent as after limping past the Gibraltarians last season, Celtic then endured complete capitulation in the group stages, failing to reach the Europa League whilst also suffering a 7(seven) goal bracketing.

Winning at home is nice, but to watch such consistently uncompetitive football must become a somewhat soul destroying affair. Where’s the genuine competition? Where’s the excitement? What’s the point when you win your league by a country mile or get kicked off the park the moment the competition hots up a bit. With your closest historical rival a shadow of their former selves, it really gives off the impression of going through the motions. Give me the Championship any day of the week.

Which is why the return to our own league campaign cannot come soon enough. Nobody could claim this division is one sided. Anything but, with Newcastle United’s title win going right down to the wire last season whilst Brentford have claimed more than their fair share of illustrious scalps over the last three campaigns. Three top ten finishes have surprised more than a few people outside of TW8 (most notably Ian Holloway) and I’m desperate for us to give this division another try.

The good news is that the Bees are now back in training and yesterday, ‘official’ released a video of head coach Dean Smith talking to Sky Sports News.

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Dean Smith spoke to Sky

In the interview, which you can see below, Dean sounds über positive. He talks about having had lots of fresh ideas and sharing our own sentiments that its good to be back after a long break. He has confirmed his top six aspirations along with a desire to keep hold of last seasons squad. Moreso given our strong finish to the campaign.

Then, somewhat randomly, the interview changes tack with the second half being taken up with a discourse on penalties. The recent England – Germany U-21 game. Dean Smith’s philosophy on penalty taking. As a player and as a head coach. It went on. I was half expecting him to be quizzed on Marcello Trotta.

A shame really,, as this was a somewhat wasted opportunity from Sky to dig into our plans, our set up and mindset. To find out how Dean has continued the great work already done by Warbs, Lee Carsley and, of course, the team behind the team.

A missed opportunity?

Then again, I’m more than happy being the underdog. Being that unfancied, under the radar team. Catching the likes of Leeds United, Derby County, Aston Villa, Mr Holloway et al with their pants down.

Nobody can deny the likes of Rangers and Celtic have huge stadiums, even bigger fan bases and plenty of historical honours. Likewise that Griffin Park is still only a 12,000 capacity ground with a trophy cabinet that is emptier than Arsenal’s.

But who wants to be the one big fish in a rapidly stagnating pond of tadpoles? A fish that gets gobbled up the moment any invasive species appears from the continent. The Championship, and beyond, is where it’s all at. Where the real action happens. Where real football takes place.

It’s July 5th. This time next month proceedings begin in anger with out trip to Sheffield United. I really cannot wait. It promises to be even bigger and better than ever before.

Nick Bruzon

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How can the same stuff happen to the same guy twice as Rangers meltdown? Can the same scoreline happen again as Bees travel North?

11 Feb

Well that’s been a busy few days off. Most of us have woken to news that Mark Warburton, David Weir and Frank McParland have, apparently, all ‘resigned’ at Rangers – something our former manager claims to know nothing about. With the Scottish club announcing that Graeme Murty is in charge, things could get interesting in the dugout at 3pm. Back in Brentford,  Josh Clarke and Dean Smith (nothing more than coincidental timing, I am sure) have both signed contract extensions whilst on pitch, not that one exists as yet, Hounslow council have given rugby club London Irish permission to ground share at Lionel Road. Yet all these are mere appetisers ahead of the main course – our trip to Preston North End.

Of course, we can only start at Deepdale. Brentford annihilated Preston 5-0 at Griffin Park earlier in the season and, based on current form, the casual observer would only expect more of the same. We’ve scored six goals  in our last two games – the first of the Hogan free era.

Aston Villa were despatched as simply as a half time balti pie offered to a hungry supporter. There was literally no resistance from the former Premier League team who were left looking somewhat like a pub side. The only disappointment being that 3-0 was scant reflection of a game where there was only one team in it.

As for Brighton on Sunday. 2-0 up and with a penalty opportunity to make it three, that one looked very much like another win fro the Bees. That it ended 3-3 was as much testament to the quality of our opponents (still very much promotion favourites and title contenders) combined with, perhaps, a touch of naivety from Brentford as the lead was retaken with 95 minutes on the clock. No criticism though. It was an honour to be part of the crowd for that one.

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KK is in there, somewhere, celebrating a late, late ‘winner ‘ against Brighton

Yet, as we’ve mentioned before, part of this resurgence is as much down to Dean Smith’s new formation. Lasse Vibe just one of five players to get on the scoresheet in front of two wide men and two centre backs in Harlee Dean and Andreas Bjelland. More room in the middle. Jota destroying all comers and looking a class above anybody trying to stop him. With a bench that includes Josh Clarke and Sergi Canos aswell as the finally back in favour Konstantin Kerschbaumer and Alan McCormack, Dean seems to have got the balance just right. Can he do it again for a third successive game ?

Surely he’ll go for more of the same today? Although Preston are five points above the Bees, they haven’t won in four games. We know we have the beating of them and that was in a team without Jota. Yet the BBC report that with John Egan fit again, he could return to the starting line up.

All being well, this is nothing more than opportunistic journalism. And this is meant as no disrespect whatsoever to a player who has more than justified his own contract extension. Yet playing with a traditional back four, albeit one where the defence still push up, has been nothing short of revalationary. A breath of fresh air after what could, politely, be described as some turgid, sluggish and inconsistent performances.

Come on Dean, here’s hoping you have the same courage of your convictions away from home as at Griffin Park. The bookies still have Preston as favourites  – only 2 defeats in the last 12 at home likely helping their position – but the new look Bees are a force to be reckoned with. I can’t wait to see how we fare on the road.

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Jota helped destroy Brighton. And Aston Villa

Rugby is the other news to make us sit up and take notice – Mark Warburton at Rangers aside, where one can only wonder what on earth is going on. In a communications debacle to make our own media team seem like Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, the Glasgow club have released a statement to say he has quit whilst Warbs seems unaware that he has, supposedly, penned his resignation letter.

This is a situation where nobody comes out the winner. Aside from, perhaps, Celtic whose 27 point lead over closest challengers Rangers and Aberdeen seems even safer than ever. With alleged new destination Nottingham Forest already having named their interim management team, could Mark Warburton find himself temporarily out in the cold again?

It was 10 February 2015 when the story about his ‘replacement’ at the end of Brentford’s Championship season was leaked by The Times. The club handled news about that one terribly – the only way worse could have been had we included a hashtag – as Warbs , in public at least, carried himself with dignity whilst retaining the love of players and supporters alike.

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Warbs , Jota and the team on the day of village-gate 2015

Two years to the very day, it has happened again. Another announcement about his position, this time at Rangers, clouded in confusion and controversy. Who’d be a manger. Or  in a comms role…

As for the rugby, well it seems that London Irish will be the new tenants at Lionel Road, once the stadium is built. Hounslow Council have granted permission for a ground share at the new stadium. Official tell us us that “Progress on the implementation of the Brentford Community Stadium project is continuing apace, ahead of a moving in date of the season 2019/20. The full story is on the club website.

And finally, if you can get through all the adverts , pop ups and surveys on their site, (Get) West London’s Premier Journalist Tom Moore has another video. Do check it out, it’s well worth a look.

Until then, here’s to Preston.

Nick Bruzon

As Rangers rumours get a little mixed up, Tom and Tom raise spirits with video double

22 Dec

Well, that was an odd day for Brentford fans. With the Rangers  / Jota story now changing tack in the Scottish press to suggest that former Bees boss Mark Warburton has flown to Spain to speak directly to the popular midfielder, South of the border those reports have been roundly, erm, scotched.

For one reason, I can’t believe this has happened purely because it would represent a totally illegal approach to a player still contracted to Brentford. Rangers wouldn’t break the rules in this fashion, would they ?

Warbs only ever came across as nothing but an honourable man at Griffin Park. Who could forget his performance on Sky Sports News after the Village-gate story about his eventual departure from Griffin Park broke. He was nothing but the consummate gentleman and professional defending both the club and Mr. Benham as he looked to rally his troops and supporters.

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Warbs , Jota and the team on the day of village-gate

Ok . Let’s say for argument’s sake that Mark had taken a quick Spanish holiday where he happened to bump into Jota.  Are we really expected to believe he’s then gone telling the local media? As ever, the ’stories’ are supported by nothing more authoritative than that coverall phrase “Record Sport understands” (something as concrete as : “a source close to the club”) to describe a “secret trip at some point in the last seven days”.

One can only assume the Rangers manager is speaking to his lawyers at the moment or contacting the paper to retract this article. The position it now places him in would seem one at odds with the rules of how football is governed and transfer business is carried out.

Thankfully, West London’s Premier Journalist Tom Moore was on hand to save the day and dampen the hopes of the Ibrox faithful.

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Jota isn’t going to Rangers – Tom has it on the nose

His article – which is well worth a look just for the video shot in a live office environment where Tom is, at times, drowned out by the woman who deals with the competitions on line – pours cold water on any such rumours.

Catching up with Dean Smith, Tom quotes the Brentford head coach as saying : “I know we’ve had no contact from Rangers. He’s our player and they’d have to come through us first..….I’m sure that’s just speculation. I’m not sure Mark would go out there to speak to one of our players. They would have to contact us to speak to one of our players for sure.”

Perhaps Rangers are best focussing on an equally bizarre story – their Twitter spat (is there a finer phrase in cyberspace?) with Little Mix over the Christmas Number One  – rather than pursuing a player they have no authority over. If, indeed, they are actually doing so. Hmm. A rumour gone wild? Who’d have thought it?

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The aforementioned video also includes Tom’s take on the Scott Hogan speculation, our current form ( “Good enough to survive in the division but not good enough at this stage to reach the top six in the league”) and who he sees as our standout player. Take a look. It’s a good one….

The other video to catch the eye yesterday was one which appeared on Twitter. Whilst we’ve probably all seen this, it is one so good it deserves another look. Take a bow, Tom Field.

Surely a full 90 minutes are next on the agenda. Not only are we yet to concede a league goal when he is on the pitch but now he’s only goner and pulled this out of the hat….

Nick Bruzon

No, no, no, no, nooooo, Jota! Is there any truth to Rangers rumour?

20 Dec

Is Jota leaving Eibar in January? Is Rangers (Glasgow, not Loftus Road) rather than Brentford his likely destination? Are local journalists simply hopping on the coat tails of the Scottish Sun to blow one of the usual plethora of rumours that appear at this time of year out of all proportion ?

Certainly, to read the legion of headlines one could be forgiven for imagining the talismanic midfielder is currently hot footing  it towards Rangers, having played his last for both Brentford and Eibar. The aforementioned Sun have run the ‘stories’ (please note: your definition of stories may vary) with quotes as definitve as “The Gers boss has enquired about a loan switch” and “Jota has been strongly linked”  – with Rangers.

And then in the usual lemming like rush for click bait generating headlines, the likes of Get West London, Here Is The City, The Daily Record and even something called ‘Football Insider’ have followed suit.

All tell a similar story. Nothing of any, actual, substance and simply the admission from  Eibar sporting director Fran Garagarza that Jota is ‘within his rights’ to ask for his loan from Brentford to be terminated once the January window opens.

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Jota – when will we see you again?

The one thing we can say for sure is that the Spaniard hasn’t been high up the pecking order at Eibar. But even if he was to leave, would he really go to Ibrox?

Sure, league wise there’s the chance to be a very big fish in a very small pond but the simple fact is that he remains our player. Brentford have no need to sell and his return would be both a wonderful psychological boost for a team that sit just three wins below the play-off spots for the Premier League.

If nothing else, surely Dean Smith is fighting tooth and nail to secure the return of somebody who is one of HIS players? Just imagine the link up with goal machine Scott Hogan? The option of a ball from the flank aswell as the one through the middle.

We don’t normally do ‘rumours’ on these pages. Mainly because the vast majority that have appeared over the years have proven to be unsubstantiated. The said, the locals did have a good summer this year but this one seems a headline too far.

If any midfield move is in the offing it will, surely, be through the outdoor. Konstantin Kerschbaumer’s exit must be as nailed on to happen as his backside currently is to the substitute’s bench. I’ve no evidence to support this beyond my own eyes –  what he has to do to get a game is beyond me but it seems one relationship that has been fatally holed below the waterline.

With the window opening in a couple of weeks it could be a painful ride through until the end of January. We’ll no doubt be inundated with more of these headlines (see also: Scott Hogan) from our friends in the media who would report transfer activity in a packet of cereal if it meant a headline. And yes I’ve used that one before but, frankly, I like the excuse to crowbar in the graphic.

The one thing I’d bet my hat on is that there’ll be no Mark Warburton / Jota reunion.

At least, at Rangers…..

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This sort of transfer activity always popular

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees undone by Leeds, Leicester City scoop more awards whilst this is one scary Santa. A week in football.

19 Dec

Brentford were hit by the ultimate sucker punch at Leeds United – an 89th minute goal from a short corner as the Elland Road outfit ran out 1-0 winners. At the tops its ‘as you were’. Dwight Gayle doing what he does for Newcastle United to move further ahead of Scott Hogan in the Championship scorer charts whilst Brighton kept pace with a 2-1 win at Birmingham City. At the bottom, Cardiff traded places with Blackburn Rovers who once again take up their place in the relegation spots alongside Wigan Athletic and Rotherham. Indeed, only the ongoing ineptitude of those teams stopping QPR from joining them although that gap now down to a mere three points….

That’s the latest Championship action in a nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest edition of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

Actually, there hasn’t been that much this week. That, or the Christmas party season has meant social media usage is a lot less than usual. But we’ll root through the detritus to start with Brentford and the last knockings from the game at Leeds United.

Despite the incredible £37/£42 ticket prices, supporters were in good voice.

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Scott hogan’s goal WAS onside.

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Leeds supporters show just what the win means.

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Tom Field underlined his importance to this team.

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Off the field, there was exciting news on the injury front.

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Whilst, as you could almost have predicted, Martin Allen has done what he does best and now set up an FA Cup third round tie at Griffin Park.

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And one we missed last week but worth a look – just for a surreal headline / teaser line image c/o Beeschat. One can only imagine what takes place over there toast at Dean Smith’s domestic tactical workshop.

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Elsewhere, pickings were slim. Just what is going on at Birmingham City?

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What is going on at Leicester City?

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What is going on at Manchester City?

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Is Mike Phelan channelling his inner Fred Dibnah? Just a flat cap short of the full look…

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Up in Scotland, Santa has taken a very scary turn for the worst.

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Perhaps he’s been listening to the advertisers.

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In more advertising news , Nike have displayed incredible precognitive powers.

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Whilst on the BBC, Sunday night’s Sports Personality of the year saw Leicester City triumph (twice) and Andy Murray receiving his overall winner’s award via a video link up from a friend.

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But, as ever, we close with Ian Moose and his birthday friend of the week. Which of his good friends from the world of football did the Talksport DJ wish happy birthday to, via the medium of a Twitter post and picture of them together?

This week: Preston manager Simon Grayson.

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Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees stung by Wasp comments as hashtags return. An (international) week in football

14 Nov

Brentford have redesigned their club crest for a new, less busy take on our 70’s Bee. QPR joined Newcastle United and Aston Villa in the lame hashtag stakes as, like the latter had done last month, they announced a second manager of the season. On pitch, there were no Championship fixtures , given it was an International weekend in which Cyprus – Gibraltar and England – Scotland were the two big ones. That said, we did have the return of the much maligned Checkatrade trophy.

That’s the latest football action in a nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

As ever, we start with Brentford where the new club crest met with praise, much split opinion and even a clarification in regards to the role of BIAS, or lack of, in the consultation process. From a personal note, I stick with my gut reaction of being very much in the pro-camp whilst the whole wasp-gate debate was, frankly, hilarious. Yet I can understand people’s reaction to change being a tough one to swallow – many of our supporters will only have ever known the cluttered clipart.

We’ve done this to death now. The only further comment I’ll make is in regards to an observation levelled at the new design from Brentford’s memorabilia guru (and do check Paul’s fantastic blog site). Specifically that it looked like a Watford cast off – with example being provided. If anything, the former accusation could be better levelled at Spiderman’s chest logo than our new crest .

The other Brentford news, as such, was a story by Tom Moore in regards to Josh McEachran. Was this an unfortunate choice of words in the headline, have we been given too much information or just deliberate click-baitery?

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Down the road at QPR, the club finally dispensed of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. In his place, comes Ian Holloway (remember him, the chap who tipped us for a struggling campaign of relegation back in August). With his arrival, comes that favourite of these pages – the crap hashtag.

This season has already seen the likes of #JoinTheRafalution – Newcastle United and #welcomesteve – Aston Villa. Indeed, QPR themselves have already used #jakejoins when they signed a left back. Now we can add another entrant to the list.

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Sadly, it seems nobody had told Jimmy. As of Saturday his Twitter account still claimed he was their manager whilst at close of play on Sunday he was still pictured holding the shirt.

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The other domestic news was the return of the Checkatrade trophy. Something even less popular than Donald Trump and Nigel Farrage hanging out in a gold plated elevator.

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You know things are bad when even the teams taking part are having a pop at the tournament.

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You know things are bad when even the referee needs to be replaced from the crowd.

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Yet things are also wonderful when something like this happens.

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On the international front, Mexico gave a wonderful response to the week in politics. Insert your own ‘defensive wall’ comment. And what a source to deliver this news.

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In the World Cup, Gibraltar went down in Cyprus but got off lightly compared to Estonia.And the boys from the Rock still did better than Scotland as at least they managed a goal. Indeed, the Scots found news of their 3-0 defeat hard to take.

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Yet the same could be said about England fans. At least, those who sat through this one.

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Roll on the return of league football.

Nick Bruzon

Will Gibraltar get Cold Feet? Are more brackets being served? Can England learn?

6 Sep

With another five days until Brentford travel to Brighton (assuming you are reading this on a Tuesday morning) the Championship’s barren period continues. When the return of TV’s Cold Feet was Monday’s main draw – and tell me, what sort of world do we live in where this can be lauded yet a remake of Are You Being Served so derided? – then it remains for International football to act as our main form of sustenance. Can Gibraltar whet the appetite this evening following the frugal fare served up on Sunday by England?

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The only ‘cold feet’ I’m interested in

Well, it would be fair to say that the bar has been raised. Bitter-rivals Spain filled their shooting boots with an 8-0 humping of Liechtenstein last night. No cold feet here, quite the opposite – the Spaniards were on fire. The only sour note, from a footballing perspective, the failure of all and sundry to correctly note the score as things went to 7(seven) – 0.

Even Brentford club sponsors 888 Sport got it wrong on Twitter, despite that rarest of things -a humorous GIF (see also : memes). Still, at least they had the good grace to later apologise for what, must surely, been an oversight based purely on the excitement of the occasion.  Wales, likewise, picked up where they left off in the Euros. A 4-0 tonking of Moldova proving that Chris Coleman’s boys have lost none of their drive or ambition. Which begs two questions.

Firstly, why couldn’t England ? Instead it was just like watching Mrs Browns Boys. A tedious, repetitive one trick pony which, despite an almost moral obligation to watch not many people were, if we’re being honest, actually enjoying it. A sort of footballing Emperor’s New Clothes.

More importantly, can Gibraltar go one better than a Euro qualifying campaign in which the highlights were almost scoring in Germany and actually scoring in Scotland? That aside, it was a series of brackets and, despite some fierce national pride, an eventual end to Group D with ‘nil points’.

I’m not a (total) idiot. Even England have more chance of lifting the World Cup, or qualifying for it, than the boys from the Rock. Yet the harsh lessons of that qualifying group would have stood them in good stead. And this time around, instead of the likes of Germany, Ireland or Poland, opponents include Cyprus and Estonia.

The fact that my current online bookmaker (used purely for reference purposes) doesn’t even offer Gibraltar a price to win the group is, I am sure, just a glitch in the Internet. Something that will be corrected as they shock all comers at 28/1 to beat Greece this evening.

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Six participants but only five available to bet on

On paper, no chance. I grant you that and can see how, looking in, that’s what you’d expect. Yet minnows have to start somewhere. Just look at the likes of Albania, Turkey and Scotland. And tonight could be that night.

Cast your mind back a few months and to the qualifiers for the Champions League.

Lincoln Red Imps, domestic champions on the Rock, entertained none other than Glasgow Celtic in a second qualifying round first leg tie. Despite Brendan Rodgers  coming out like the love child of Russell Slade and Steve Evans ( please, for the love of God, don’t visualise it) no amount of sour grapes or bluster could disguise the fact that his Bhoys ended the game on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat .

Upsets can happen. Every now and again, result comes along to shock the footballing world. Even if they can’t do it tonight, watching Gibraltar try to beat the odds has got to be a hell of a lot more entertaining than Big Sam’s England or ITV comedy dramas.

Failing that, brackets are 8-1.

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Gibraltar have packed their boots to start World Cup qualifiers

Nick Bruzon 

Plus ça change. After Euro 2016, England continue with the bang average

4 Sep

Slovakia 0 England 1. Three points. And a win. On paper that’s all that Big ‘Sam’ Allardyce could have asked for on his opening game in charge. Yet having stated up front that he’d have been happy with a draw, he was that close to achieving his stated low key level of start to his time in charge of the national team. That may work at Sunderland or West Ham but for England, after their woeful Euro 2016 (and let’s not pretend it was anything but) this was just more of the same.

England won. That’s an indisputable fact . And so often I’ve bigged up the fact that goals are the only thing that count at full time. Yet at a time when the impossibility of qualification failure makes results largely irrelevant, performance is as key as result. And this was nothing but anti-climax.

0-0, 1-0. Forget the scoreline. A draw or a win away to England’s ‘closest rivals’ makes no difference. Failure to qualify from a group including Malta, Lithuania and Scotland is simply unfeasible. That’s not arrogance; that’s fact. Yet that game was, to quote one sofa based observer,  ‘bang average’.

At a time when the best sort of kick back from the Euros was needed, England did everything possible to continue with the uninspirational. Non-chance followed non-chance. Even when Martin Skrtel was eventually (arguably, he should have gone earlier) dismissed, England still flattered to deceive.

It was like watching the cast of American Pie v the cast of Porkys in a race to lose their viginity. There was a lot of bluster, a lot of fighting talk, a lot of huff and puff yet no thrust, no penetration and no scoring. In the end, it was a last gasp stab through the legs as Slovakia’s keeper let Adam Lallana’s poke claim his first England goal. At the 27th attempt .

Instead, after the horror of the summer and Euro 2016 nothing has changed – Glen Hoddle was still there talking bollocks; England were still doing their best to make the mediocre look like world beaters.

Any positives?  Either my TV was broken or ‘that band’ weren’t present. Regardless, that was the only win for those of us watching at home.

We’re two years away from knowing how well England may perform at the World Cup finals. We’re two years away from knowing which of Sunday’s starting XI will even kick off   England’s attempt to lift the trophy.

But, for now, we know one thing.

Huge improvement is needed.

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Nick Bruzon 

 

 

 

After Sunday roast, time for kebabs. Just no umbrellas

4 Sep

The middle Sunday of international weekend. There’s no Brentford result to digest (it’s another 6 days until the trip to Brighton and a week since Sheffield Wednesday salvaged an injury time draw in a game they could have actually won much earlier) whilst the national team are yet to kick things off in anger. Yes, ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce begins his tenure as England manger tonight with the trip to Slovakia after leaving Sunderland in the summer to replace Roy Hodgson.

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Can Sam bring a smile to England supporters?

Cue hand wringing about EURO 2016. Talk of a new era. Questions over Joe Hart or the selection of Wayne Rooney as captain. Sly digs about this ’rough diamond’ being a different choice to the normal selections from those suits at FA HQ. And, of course, being forced to listen to ‘that band’.

There’s bound to be mention of Sam’s win ratio at supposedly less illustrious teams  (37.57% West Ham and 29.03 at Sunderland). Although what that proves, I have no idea. Even Roy Hodgson managed 41.94% at Liverpool, for what its worth. And, of course, with that West Ham link there’s bound to be some crowbarred reference to some sort of new stadium. It wouldn’t be a televised football game in 2016/17 without one.

Yes, my ITV cliche bingo card is fully charged and ready to begin crossing off those squares although, being honest, I’m not fully engaged at the moment. The Euros were painful. Dreadfully so. It is still far too recent a bad memory.

To see England earnestly attempt to go again feels like being faced with a groaning table of all-you-can-eat kebabs having just consumed an oversized Sunday Roast. Whilst normally this would be a delicious prospect, given what came before I’m not going to enjoy it. That said, what harm would it do to take a tentative nibble and see what develops from there?

Besides, regardless of who is at the helm, a 6 team qualifying group containing the likes of Lithuania , Scotland and Malta should be about as tough a nut to crack as using a sledgehammer on some stale dry roasted. Forget Big Sam. Big Ron from Eastenders or Big Daddy could get them through the group. And they are both sadly departed.

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Even Big Daddy could get England through this group

For me, the genuine excitement is over in Group H where Gibraltar have Cyprus and Estonia amongst their opponents. Whilst, of course, you’d expect Belgium to run away with that one, could the boys from the Rock make a few waves? As ever, the bookmakers don’t think so and have them at anything from 2,000-1 to 5,000-1 to win the group.

But, whatever happens, surely this is still a more rewarding prospect than watching England cruise through the qualifiers to an inevitable first place. Just remember though, 10 wins out of 10 en-route to Euro 2016 didn’t prove a particularly auspicious omen as to long term tournament success.

I hope England do well. I hope Gibraltar can upset Greece on Tuesday night.I hope we don’t get overly carried away, however the qualifying groups turn out. As has been proven again, success at a tournament proving somewhat more difficult a prospect than getting there.

Indeed, aside from Euro 96 or West Ham’s triumph in the the 1966 World Up (both home tournaments) it is only really the wonderful efforts of Bobby Robson’s team back in 1990 where England have come even vaguely close to getting their hands on foreign soil. The Premier league may be ‘the best league in world football’ (is that line still being trotted out?) and have the most over inflated transfer market, but when it comes to keeping pace with International rivals then there is still a huge gap.

All the money and all the expectation in the world are no substitute for simply being ‘any good’ or knowing how to play as a team. Just look at what Wales achieved over the summer.

After the summer, the thought of winning a World Cup feels a million miles away. The prospect of investing the emotions in a qualifying campaign that has stopped the fledgling Championship season dead in its tracks so soon and so awkwardly is a tough one. And, being blunt, a frustrating one. Just as Brentford have got going and assembled our post-transfer window squad, the shutters have come down.

Yet come 5pm I have no doubt whatsoever the TV will be tuned to ITV to see just what life under Big Sam will look like. Say what you want about him, and many have, but I can guarantee you that if it’s raining there’ll be no umbrellas in sight.

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Whatever happens, it can’t get this bad

Nick Bruzon

How do Bees fare against Monaco, Manchester City and Celtic in the pre-season buzz?

26 Jul

The season is almost here. New kits. New signings. New season tickets now in the post. Brentford, of course, have now unveiled their new strip which, presumably, will see another airing for the home version agasint Peterborough tonight. But we aren’t alone. Celtic took a (double) trip into the bizarre yesterday whilst AS Monaco and Manchester City are amongst those promoting themselves in unique style ahead of the big kick off.

First up, as ever, Brentford. The big talking point from Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Kaiserslautern was nothing to do with the on pitch matters but more one about the kit. Wonderful though it is, the universal opinion seemed to be that the shirt numbers were somewhat ‘tricky’ to read.

Very retro” was the diplomatic verdict from the Beesplayer team as they discussed this during the first half. Adding, “It’s a good job we know the players”. Was this fair? Will we get used to them? Could the players see a patch having to be added to the reverse? Will the football league change their font? More than likely, we’ll all just have to get used to it. Family time meant Saturday was a game too far but here’s to tonight and seeing the new kit in action, under floodlights. I’m sure it’ll all be fine.

The other thing that has impressed me about the new Brentford shirt was the way the launch was handled. For obvious reason there may be a slight element of bias but using the supporters was a wonderful idea.

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The new kit is available now

But it wasn’t just this. It was the subtle yet classy way we did this. No OTT catchphrases. None of those dreaded hashtags. Just a series of great (player) photos.

The same can’t be said about others. With passage to the third round of the Champion’s League now assured after edging past Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar 3-1 over two legs, Celtic have safely launched their third kit. And it is one born in the history of their European cup triumph of 1967.

#IfYouKnowYourHistory says the launch hashtag. And enough, but it is what the blurb says about the inspiration for a somewhat gaudy colour scheme that really intrigues. Apparently the shirt has been inspired by the colours used on the match ticket for the 1967 final, with the electric pink and black design honouring the ‘Lisbon Lions’ team.

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A historical inspiration – supposedly

It’s tenuous but if true then who am I to argue. It’s just a shame that, in choosing to honour what is probably the biggest moment in the club’s history, Celtic have done so in such appalling fashion. It is a shirt which, in this kit nerd’s opinion, gets a direct pass to the hall of shame.

Social media was awash with commentary, most of it less than favourable. Almost as much for the picture published (which since seems to have been removed), of new signing Kolo Toure. Perhaps he’d been shown the new kit just before the photo was taken?

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Happy to have joined

If Brentford have looked to take a different approach to kit launch this season, we aren’t alone. Over in France, AS Monaco have released a video to help with theirs. Sadly, this isn’t in the same ball park as the infamous Blackburn Rover’s effort  – Birdy’s date – instead being somewhat tasteful and rather innovative .

Virtual Reality – words not heard since the late 80’s and pixel laden video games accompanied by ill-fitting headsets and impossible controls. Well, it’s back (albeit via the medium of YouTube, and has been used on the Monaco kit launch.

With the release of a new kit becoming more and more a ‘big thing’ , one does wonder where this is going to go next. We’ve certainly come a long way since a photo in the programme or our own ‘reveal in the bathroom shop window’.

Monaco breaking new ground

Finally, have you got your new season ticket as yet? With the cards and wallets coming through letter boxes as we speak, it’s another indication of the forthcoming season. This has done nothing but further whet the appetite although I do wonder if it might have been possible to have some variety in design or even for of the year embossed onto the card or holder.

I guess this was for reasons of cost / continuation of design but football fans are, in many cases, completists and collectors. I have drawers full of the things from seasons gone by, as do many others. Being able to look back over them is a hugely sentimental / nostalgic thing for many. If the marketing chaps are reading, perhaps a small ask for next season?

Looking at Manchester City, their ticket has been despatched in a collectors box with pin badge for their new, old crest. Perhaps somewhat outside of our budget range and a tad OTT but, equally, you can’t deny it is a well meaning touch.

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Nick Bruzon