Tag Archives: Sergi Canos

Post-match debrief and final season review

24 May

Brentford 1 Leeds United 2. In the end, there was to be no falling apart (Burnley aside) and the 9 man Bees ended up on the wrong end of nil points. On the plus side, a final Premier League position of 13th was well above the expectations of everyone outside of TW8 and with the promise of more to come, August can’t get here soon enough.

As ever at this juncture, time to look at who shone for Brentford. Not just in the Leeds United game but, this time around, over the entire season too. We’ve the usual after match top five and also the final scores and positions in the game-by-game summary that has been conducted over 2022-23

You can find that, here. Enjoy. Here’s to a short break and then doing it all again next time around…

Video nice and video nasty suggest a special dish will be on the menu.

10 May

Another day, another vote. We wrote yesterday about the almost impossible choice facing anybody making their Brentford player of the year selection. Such have been the performances this season there are a genuine half-dozen candidates who could lay claim to the award. Now, with just Everton (a) and Leeds United (h) to go, we’re almost at the end of the line. There’s still a ton of excitement to come – and the resurfacing of ‘that’ video yesterday has only served to further stoke supporter intrigue in all things Elland Road (that’s the polite term) – with the hope paramount that we’re all channeling our inner Joy Division next Sunday. That is, assuming Neal Maupay and Brighton don’t get there first this weekend.

Could Neal do it, again

First up, the player of the year vote. For what its worth I’ve gone David Raya. There seems to be a lot of noise for Christian Norgaard too. Both magnificent candidates. As are all the other names on a shortlist where Rico Henry, Ivan Toney and Christian Eriksen seem to be amongst the other names of those leading the charge.

It really is a case where car keys in the bowl would be just as fair a mechanism for selecting the winner though. They’ve all been incredible and this is, without a doubt, the toughest vote ever. My thoughts on the runners and riders, to coin a phrase, are in yesterday’s piece – along with the Southampton post-match debrief and our own season long ‘top five’.

Then, on Monday, another vote dropped. Like standing at a bus stop you wait ages and then two come along at once. This time, the goal of the season.

What a choice this one is. A shortlist of 11 that is dominated by two players. The technical brilliance of Vitaly Janelt at Southampton. His pair agasint Chelsea also included. Then there’s Wissa. Liverpool. Aston Villa. Oldham in the cup. And, of course, that amazing moment against West Ham. Oh, the hairs on the back of my neck are tingling just thinking about that one. About just how incredible it was.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

Then there’s Sergi Canos. He scored our first top flight goal of the season. You know? That night we beat Arsenal and went top of the Premier League. Don’t @ me. The table doesn’t lie.

If Wissa was incredible for the timing and the celebration, this one was at home and that mass out pouring of joy. It wasn’t a bad finish either, with a personal celebration to match.

Sergi very much enjoys the moment…

The vote is live now. As with the POTY awards, all you need is a fan number and a surname to take part. Much as I was tempted by Ajer against Southampton or Saman up at Burnley, for me it is a straight fight between Sergi and Wissa at West Ham.

However, that’s me. Vitaly’s precision and technique are more than worthy of recognition – just which of the three ? Good luck sorting through all of this but at least it’s fun doing so. The video is below.

And talking of videos, a segue as subtle as the ‘jokes’ in Mrs. Brown’s Boys, if ever inspiration was needed for the Everton and Leeds United games (it isn’t) then we were given a helpful reminder from Elland Road yesterday. A helpful reminder that revenge is a dish best served cold. A reminder, that there could be something very special on the menu next Sunday.

We were all saving it. We were all keeping our powder dry. But we’ve all started sharing it. And Monday seemed to be ‘Mind the Gap’ reminder day. Sometimes, there is no real comment needed. No point waxing lyrical for pages. Just remember that even Leeds United ‘official’ shared it before hastily changing their minds….

I am sure that Thomas Frank and all those in an official capacity at Brentford will remain tight lipped in the build up to this one and maintain a stance of nothing more than looking to finish the season with a win. For Brentford fans, we all know what this would mean. Not just the video but the ongoing arrogance and entitlement since our days together in League One. Oh, Ben Strevens xx

A season that has given so much since Sergi got the ball rolling against Arsenal back in August looks like it is going to go all the way to the wire.

And I cannot wait. If its good enough for Ivan then its good enough for me….

Hmm. Love will tear us apart, anyone? A game that was already laced with anticipation looks like it might have cranked up a level or three.

In the meantime, the post match debrief from the Southampton game is now up and online. Should anybody need any further food for though in picking their POTY then this may provide the calm before the storm.

Nick Bruzon

Perhaps we can call it a business meeting.

10 Dec

Friday night under the lights and Brentford host Watford. The 2-2 draw at Leeds United feels a lifetime ago already as the December fixture list continues to crank up. We’ve got Manchester United at home on Tuesday, the small matter of the trip to Southampton next weekend and then the league cup quarter-final a few days after that. Whilst by no means season defining, come out of this run with a few wins under the belt and there’ll a lot of smiles as we head towards the New Year. The other news of the day being Liverpool tickets are now on sale, but we’ll get there shortly. First up, Watford.

Charlie enjoys the point on his Instantgram

Cripes. The result from Elland Road was niggling on Sunday evening. That was then. This is now. Personally, I still feel it was a good point for Brentford in a ferocious atmosphere (Spurs could learn a thing or two – all the glitz and glamour counts for nothing if you can’t generate noise) even if it was deeply gut-wrenching to concede so late an equaliser. Lessons learned and all that. As Thomas Frank noted in the press conference for the Watford game, “When it is so close it is difficult to accept that you just lost two points, but we have this rule that you have 24 hours to celebrate and 24 hours to be disappointed. I constantly remind the players, staff, and myself about it. We came in Monday, and it was difficult because we were still in this 24 hour bracket. We were off yesterday and today I didn’t see any sign of any disappointment. It was just a group of players willing to train hard and concentrate”.

Philosophical to the last. As eloquent as ever. But he’s right. We can’t dwell on the negative or rest on our laurels when things go right. Use the moment, in either direction, and then move on. Very much a case of, if not so much going again, as taking each game as it comes. And if anyone has a spare crowbar, we‘ll continue to mangle our metaphors in tomorrow’s match update.

It’s all about looking forward to Watford (and more wonderful cover art on the programme)

For Brentford, there are two obvious casualties. Ivan Toney remains self-isolating as a result of that Covid test prior to the Leeds game. I’m not clear on whether that will still be the case for the visit of Manchester United but a rough count on my fat fingers thinks we ‘may’ be in the clear. hHis own health and fitness aside, of course. 

Ivan has been magnificent this season. The current leader in our game by game review to see who the top Brentford performers are (and you can find the latest look at our ‘top five’ here). Pulling in as big a defensive shift as that up top, he’s every manager’s dream. You can’t put a price on those additional elements to his game outside of the assists and goals. He really is the consummate all-round player and the stereotypical ‘first name on the team sheet’. As for who will step up should we somehow be awarded a penalty by tonight’s referee, Michael Oliver, then good luck calling that. 

One thing’s for sure, it won’t be Sergi Canos. He also misses out after stepping in for Ivan on Sunday. A fifth yellow card of the season means a one-game ban is now in force. It’s a crying shame for Sergi, and Brentford, given he had one of his best games of the season. Pushed up top from wing back (where Mads Roerslev stepped in admirably) he adapted quickly and after a slight positional shift, obliterated our opponents in that second half. The team up with Shandon Baptiste in particular bringing ongoing success as we took the game to our opponents and watched them fall apart. Again.

Sergi misses out

Instead, one can only assume Marcus Forss will step in and step up alongside Bryan. Thomas as already confirmed he was ‘that’ close to starting against Leeds and with Wissa continuing to be nursed back in to the team, it will surely be a place on (and appearance from) the bench for our talismanic late, late goalscorer. Let him come on and do to Watford what he did to Liverpool and West Ham.

All being well we can afford to rotate the team and the subs though choice rather than necessity. With the Manchester United and Southampton games following in close succession, having everyone physically fit will be as big a challenge as anything else. The Brentford casualty list already one which is stretching our troops although kudos to Charlie Goode for stepping up so well in place of Kris Ajer. Likewise, the return of Shandon Baptiste couldn’t have come at a better time.

The heart says it’ll be a win for Brentford. The head says I’ve maximum respect for Claudio Ranieiri. He has had the luxury of a relatively stable team in recent weeks, albeit one that has lost 5 out of their last 6 league games.The one outlier from there being the absolute ticking administered to Manchester United late last month. That 4-1 thrashing being the last straw for the Old Trafford board and, regrettably, jus ta few weeks too soon for us. Oh, to have faced a side in a trough of despair and supporter unrest rather than one that has a chance to reset. Still, that’s all to come. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much. First and foremost has to be Watford. Bring it on and see you there.

The one other piece of immediate news being Liverpool away tickets are now on sale. That game takes place Jan 15th and expect another sell out crowd ( home and away) for the trip to Anfield. One can only assume these will fly off the shelves as we work through the TAP barriers. We picked up ours yesterday. With ‘Plan B’ now in operation (a first if ever I heard one in TW8), let’s hope the’C’ word doesn’t get in the way of our party on Merseyside.

Hey, perhaps we can call it a business meeting. There’s certainly enough cheese, and the odd whine, on these pages.

The games come thick and fast

Nick Bruzon 

Leeds. Leeds fall apart. Again. Then do the unthinkable….

5 Dec

Where to even start with that? Leeds United 2 Brentford 2. The proverbial game of two halves. One which began with Ivan Toney absent through Covid (he’ll also miss Watford and Manchester United I believe) ended with the Bees conceding the equaliser just seconds before the five minutes injury time had completed. It was as close as you’ll get to securing all three points and whilst of course we’d all have taken the draw if offered it up front (would that such a thing were possible), to come so close feels like an absolute kick to the unmentionables right now. You could hear the cheer from Elland Road to Gibraltar, such was the relief that greeted Patrick B@&ford’s late, late equaliser. Instead, one can only look to the positives and prep for Watford on Friday. 

Full time at Elland Road

After the no show at Tottenham, this was a different Brentford team. Literally and mentally. Ivan and Onyeka out; Baptiste and Roerslev in. Sergi sitting up top. The Bees going for it from the off. More pressure in the opening five minutes than there had been all game at Spurs. Leeds happy to sit back and absorb as Brentford pushed. Up. The opening quarter hour one way traffic although no out and out chance. Bryan coming closest. The hosts coming back into it to start taking control themselves and then… disaster.

Charlie Goode picked up the ball and set off on a mazy run forward. Taking the ball to Leeds before losing it with a sloppy pass. The game taken back to the Bees and there was Tyler Roberts to give the home side the lead. 27 minutes on the clock and all the anticipation, gone. All the momentum, gone. All the positivity, gone. Gone in a heartbeat. Brentford with no answer and hanging on for half-time. Supporters left with that feeling that comes when about to watch Match of the Day, only to find it cancelled and replaced with a repeat of My Family (happy?). Oh Kris Marshall. How we laughed.

Mr. Harper’s boys. And girls

1-0 down at half-time. Elland Road silent, barring the sound of crockery being smashed. Teacups being thrown. Rollickings administered. Arses being kicked. Possibly. Whatever Thomas Frank did or said, The Bees came out a side possessed. Playing with purpose. With drive . With passion. Leeds on the back foot. Sergi Canos pulling the strings and all of a sudden it was 1-1. Shandon Baptiste getting on the end of it. The Spaniard with the assist and then coming close minutes after. Oooh. How didn’t he score? 

We didn’t have to wait long for the lead. This time, there was to be no hesitation from Sergi. Linking with Bryan before blasting home just after the hour. The goal had been coming and was celebrated in style. The cry of ‘Leeds. Leeds are falling apart. Again’. belted out from the visiting fans. The smiles broad and the songs loud. Brentford continuing to drive. Leeds collapsing at a rate that was well and truly in keeping with the infamous song. Wissa, on for Sergi, looking fleet of foot. The goal not quite coming and Fernandez in nets, having already pulled off a number of smart saves, helping run down the clock with sportsman like efficiency. Get ball. Dive on it. Wait. Wait….. Waiiiitttt. Distribute. The crowd giving it the expected reaction. “Salt with your chips, Sir”?

We interrupt this article for a moment to visit the home of Alanis Morissette in Canadia. The singer is in the library, leafing through the dictionary and rechecking the definition of Ironic. And also unlucky, which it isn’t. 

Back at Elland Road, a colossal five minutes of time added on have been, err, added on. Brentford still trying to take the ball out of defence but understandably also trying to close out the game. Yes, there have been a few fouls (and a shonky yellow for Rico) but this was excruciating. Where did it come from? 91. 92. 93. 94. A ball is played in to Fernandez who can only flap it over the line. He makes the catch and it’s game over when he hoofs it forward. Instead, a corner is awarded…

The inevitability…..

Leeds’ goalkeeper Meslier comes charging into the crowded box. The ball is swung in and over. The ‘keeper makes a nuisance of himself and there’s the aforementioned England international to steer it in for 2-2.  Urghhh For once, it’s Bees rather than Leeds who have fallen apart. 

The noise is immense. The silence from the away end, deafening. The game as good as over. Then it is. Urghhhh.

Look. A point is a point. The second half was one way traffic from us until the death and a marked step up from that game at Spurs We were also missing Ivan and will again. Watford and Manchester United next up for Brentford with Sergi also joining him on the sidelines for The Hornets’ game. That was a pre kick-off blow that might have knocked the stuffing out of most teams but instead Brentford rose to the challenge. In the cold light of day it will feel ok. Right now it’s just plain frustrating. Oh, what might have been but for two sloppy goals.

Instead, all we can do is look at the table. Eleventh as it stands. We could have been higher but perhaps this will serve as an education. Just as against Brighton, failure to close out a game we might have won or keep focus until the final whistle has been met with joy for the opposition. At least, this time, we’re still going home with something. It just could have been so much more….

We’ll do the player review tomorrow. There’s only so much can be written on a coach back to London via a mobile phone. Then it’s looking forward to Watford. To Manchester United. To having Ivan revitalised and perhaps even a few more points in the bag.

For now, well played Brentford. Our fans were immense. Leeds did what they had to and the relief was palpable. Those fingers from before? That was how their director Victor Orta greeted this result…

Nick Bruzon

Apologies to Bush (Andy, not Shepherd’s) as hectic month awaits and social media delivers.

30 Nov

December is here. A non-stop charge into action with Brentford facing 7(seven) league games aswell as that league cup quarter final at Lionel Road. Victory against Everton on Sunday the perfect way to set ourselves up for the coming month. Next up are Spurs, Leeds United, Watford, Manchester United etc etc etc It’ll be nuts. It’ll be chaotic. It’ll be a whole lot of fun.

Everton already seems an after thought. A game of football that will live long in the record books as a 1-0 win for Brentford. That’ll do for me. Take the points, exorcise the memory and move on. Our opposition in about an awful a run of form as they come and for whom a lesson in injury related sportsmanship wouldn’t go amiss, either. Thoughts and prayers for Lucas Digne. Thoughts and prayers. What a shame the same didn’t happen and the ball kicked out when Rico Henry was actually crocked. 

Still, its all been and gone now. A win for the Bees is a win. Not to mention a clean sheet, another Ivan Toney penalty taking masterclass and a couple of (perhaps) unexpected entrants into the look at our top five performers. Were we wrong? Who missed out? Who should have been included? The journey to discover our season long contenders continues, too, and you can see that here.

Did Sergi’s hair make the top five?

As for this morning, I’m feeling a bit ‘Peter Gilham’. Specifically, the time he was obliged to promote the club’s latest foray into social media. Live on pitch he encouraged us to use, “Snapchat”. Then paused for a moment before adding, “Whatever that is.”

I was sent a video by a friend who was making his first visit to The Brentford Community Stadium. And no, it wasn’t Absolute radio DJ Andy Bush and Everton who, as it turned out, may not actually have been making his initial trip to our new home. In fact, it seems the frustration endured was limited to TV viewing, judging by the first hour of yesterday’s Hometime show.

As such, my apologies for the mix up which saw his file picture published in the announcements page. And when I say his, I mean ‘a’.

DJs with glasses – they all look so similar…

We’re fortunate enough to have many friendly and familiar faces around us where we sit in the North stand. Some we’ve been near for years and others who, Brentford being Brentford, we just know because everyone knows everyone.

Our H has picked up where he left off at Griffin Park and, sitting in relatively close proximity to the pitch,  still absorbs the moment of victory like no other. Perhaps barring one. So it certainly put a smile on our faces when ‘the moment’ was captured on a Tik Tok (whatever that i…) .

@brentfordfc

This. Is. Football. ❤️

♬ original sound – Tik Toker

And talking of Peter / social media, well it would be remiss not to revisit this one. We’ve all seen it but on a bitter cold Tuesday morning, may well put a smile on the face. Mr. Brentford delivering again. And again. Any excuse…..

As for Spurs, we go into our game at their new home on Thursday with several injury related questions in the air. Whilst Shandon Baptiste and Yoanne Wissa both made it onto the pitch from the bench against Everton, Christian Norgaard went off minutes after sitting down and clutching his back. Likewise Sergi Canos and Rico Henry. Fingers crossed both were precautionary. Having to reshuffle the pack once more, just as payers are returning, a headache Thomas Frank could well do without. Moreso given we head to Leeds United on Sunday. 

My £30 ticket is in hand for that one. £30. Thank you Leeds. So generous. Worth going for the pleasure of not having our pockets picked on the way in as happened so often in the Championship. And League One. Remember that? Oh, Ben Strevens….

Still, that’s to come. As are Watford, Man U et al . With forthcoming programme columns coming out of the ears, these pages may go a bit darker territory than normal. Perhaps not. Let’s just play it by ear. One things for sure, with a game every few days next month it’s going to be football, football, football. And I can’t wait. See you there.

Ben Strevens. At Leeds United. In League One

Nick Bruzon 

We’ll do our best to feck them over.

9 Nov

International break but its all happening around Brentford off the back of the Norwich City game. Manchester United tickets have sold out. Hardly unexpected. The GPG now waging war on touts and chancers crying in to Facebook. Newcastle United have a new manager in Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe, just time for our visit on Saturday week. On the fitness front, Mathias Jensen has had to pull out of the Danish squad following a positive test for Covid 19 en-route to International duty. With that news being confirmed at Copenhagen airport, the rest of the squad remain unhindered meaning Christian Norgaard avoids isolation for now. What this means on the domestic front remains to be seen but if there is any consolation to be taken, at least this comes at the start of the two week window. Meaning that in theory he may even be back for the trip to Newcastle. That’ll keep the usual suspects happy on social media. Last year’s Sergi fast becoming this year’s Jensen. Groan.

What do you do though? Of course fans need to be able to express their opinions and discuss. The passion and the interaction are an integral part of the game. Yet after last season’s vitriol I thought we’d done with all that. Copious amounts of egg left on face as Sergi did his thing in the face of the morons and has only picked it up even more this time around. The Frank Out ‘campaign’ ending with the only ‘out’ being the club going out of the Championship and in to the Premier league. Now, after four defeats on the bounce the knives are being sharpened in certain quarters. Not that I can imagine the usual suspects are reading (can read) so we’re largely shouting in to the void.

FFS. It’s hardly the stuff of crisis. Overall, the start to the season has been beyond the expectations of just about everyone. Recent form of LLLL doesn’t look great on paper, that’s for sure, but let’s not forget that includes the full frontal assault on Chelsea and the pantomime villain theatrics of James Maddison when Leicester City came to Lionel Road. Both, games where there were the additional factors of obscene clock running down and woeful refereeing. Burnley was, granted, horrific, and Norwich City not much better. But two bad games do not a disaster make. Moreso given we are in the grip of a devastating run of injuries. 

He’s behind you….

As for Mathias Jensen’s form, thoughts on him and other performances were published in yesterday’s player review (which is here). We’ll never know if the subsequent medical update had anything to do with it or, additionally, if ‘The Curse of The Warm Up’ has struck again. As has been observed, everyone who has appeared alongside Stu and Marcus has failed to start the next game due to illness or injury. However, one thing has become clear over the years – Thomas Frank won’t buy into fan led demands for player removal. Or selection. See also Tariqe Fosu who is worshiped as some sort of game changing demi-god by a few whilst just about everyone else is wondering what has gone on behind the scenes to limit his appearances to just a handful of league cup ties.

Moving on to Manchester United, there was an odd (that’s the polite word)  post on Twitter yesterday by one ‘fan’ having a moan about being unable to get a ticket for that game. Whether this was the subsequent ‘joke’ he maintained it was, who knows? An attention seeking clikcbait tweet which required some serious back-pedalling after the obvious reaction or simply a case of nonsense blowing up out of all proportion? What we can say is the visit of Manchester United on December 14th is about as hot a ticket as has ever been seen at Brentford.

A joke. Apparently

And with such demand come the usual touts and chancers. It was always going to happen with the membership scheme eventually being open to all (and rightly so). This isn’t happy-clappy land and you’ll never get a perfect system. There’ always be people who want in on the action or tying to take advantage but the GPG are one the case.

Elsewhere, Trevor Inns has posted a quite to the point message.  

If any one has some spares for the Manchester Utd home game, please tell us about it. 

Especially if on sale above face value.  Twitter. Facebook. TikTok. Anywhere. Let us know.

Brentford Tickets for Brentford Fans 

Already got two that have a rude awakening tomorrow morning!

DM me or admin@griffinpark.org.  

Well said that man. Let’s get as many genuine fans in for these games as possible. F*ck the tourists and the touts. Let’s keep the noise loud and fill Lionel Road with Bees rather than away supporters. Keep this a fortress rather than a library. Here’s to more rude awakenings.

Finally, Eddie Howe. About as telegraphed a move as possible, he’s now in charge at Newcastle United. The only club in the top flight not to win a game after Norwich City picked up their first three points on Saturday, we’re first up for the new era. Howe’s first bite at the cherry. Whether his presence will be sufficient to turn things around this soon remains to be seen. All being well, we’ll have some better news on the fitness front (Wissa would be nice). Even if just at centre back where Zanka (our Urine-son as Match Of The Day called him) going off after just 12 minutes on Saturday added to the casualty list and hardly helped the game plan.

It’s a long way off at the moment and one that will no doubt be bigged up to the max from next week. Whatever your politics or thoughts on the club’s new owners, the focus on a  game that was already going to be under the microscope has only intensified further. All being well, everybody will forget about Bees and a party pooping will be in the offing. 

There wouldn’t be a better time for this to happen, that’s for sure.

Nick Bruzon 

Still fighting on three fronts. Now bring on Saturday.

28 Oct

For the first time since 2016/17 Manchester City won’t have their name on the league cup.  For Brentford, a potato skin avoided and then some. The Bees are in the quarter finals for the second successive season after last night’s 2-1 victory at Stoke City. A line up including more first team regulars than we, perhaps, had any expectation of seeing run out raced into a 2-0 half-time lead (Canos and Toney) which ultimately proved sufficient to see us over the line. Romaine Sawyers (who else?) pulled one back for the hosts but it was too little too late to stop the Bees recording a first ever win in the Potteries and earning a place in the last 8. Liverpool, West Ham, Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester City and Sunderland make up the list of those teams with their own aspirations of lifting the silverware. Now we await the draw with bated breath. For more reasons than one. 

No caption needed

Last season was just awful. Wembley, promotion, goals, fine wins, bracketings and incredible signings aside. Having to watch from afar as the team rattled around a virtually empty stadium nothing short of torture. Finally in our new home and locked out by a global pandemic.

To compound the felony, Brentford were enjoying out best ever run in the League Cup. A whole gamut of Premier League sides despatched by a Championship club looking to join them in the top flight. A sequence of victories that took us all the way to a single-legged semi-final at Tottenham. Ivan Toney’s equaliser being chalked off by the machinations of VAR. A brief moment of 1-1 based ecstasy turning into an eventual 2-0 win for our hosts before their inevitable defeat in the final to Manchester City. They seem (seemed) quite good at lifting this particular trophy.

A tournament that Brentford have traditionally been bang average in (a smattering of fourth round visits being our best ever) had suddenly exploded into life. Thomas Frank with his eyes on the silverware. The rest of us with our eyes on the TV. It would have been wonderful to be a part of it. Instead, we were all locked out.

The finger nail ended up being ahead of the ankle. Offside

Fast forward 12 months and we are in similar territory. The big difference being that this time around, the fans are back. And how. What an effort for last night’s shlep to Stoke City. What a reward for the journey. Brentford now 90 minutes away from matching last season’s heroics. Perhaps with a chance to go even further. Hey, if nothing else the magnificent win in the play-off final has finally broken our Wembley hoodoo. No longer is it a place to fear but somewhere to look forward to. The next step on the journey about to be made. And we will discover our fate this Saturday when the draw is made on TV’s Soccer AM. 

Ah, Soccer AM. Sad to say it’s not for me anymore. Been there, done that, disgraced myself. Hey, those ‘end of the show’ penalties aren’t going to miss themselves. Helen Chamberlain and Russ Williams have long since moved on. Lovejoy, too. These days, free time on Saturdays is too short a commodity to be spent with Fenners and Jimmy Bullard. I’ve got football club to get H to and other ‘essential’ jobs to be completed before the matchday routine can begin. 

The classic lineup on the Soccer AM sofa

Yet this weekend things will be different. There’s a cup draw to be watched. The list of priority domestic tasks can, for once, include switching on the TV. Probably being confused by banter and catchphrases that will have long since been handed down to a younger generation. This confused 51 year old will, for once, have a legitimate reason to have the show on rather than feeling as awkward as a dad in a disco. Coverage starts at 10.30 although at what point the Soccerettes (are they still a thing?) appear with the balls is yet to be confirmed. I suspect the phrase “Harry, call me when its about to start” may well be uttered. Much as I used to love the show, and I did, age is now feeling as though it has very much caught up on yours truly. Groan.

So yeah. I’ll be watching. Hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Looking forward to seeing if things have changed any. Mostly, though, awaiting our fate. Last night’s team selection suggesting Thomas very much has the League Cup as a legitimate target. Not just an excuse to give fringe players a run out but a trophy to try and win. A place in Europe to be earned. A smile to be put on the faces of fans after missing out last year. An even bigger smile, I mean. A metaphorical heart attack to be given to the Directors of football or Matthew Benham when a potential cup winning team is named at the expense of keeping players fresh for the league campaign. Hey, who says we can’t battle on two fronts? Or three?

It was a strong, strong line up. Canos. Toney. Jensen. Zanka. Ghoddos. Forss. Ajer.  All started this one. Rico, Christian Norgaard and Frank the Tank also came off the bench. Every one of these players featured against Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday  Chuck Charlie Goode, Mads x2 and Alvaro Fernandez to see there was no messing around from Thomas here. He has a cup in his sights. Likewise, perhaps, giving a chance to put his enforced goalkeeping change into play sooner than later. The understanding between the back five and the man in, err, blue will be even more essential than ever. 

For now though, we can dream of Wembley. Of Soccer AM. Of finally exorcising the nightmare of what happened before the Doncaster game. That Doncaster game. Of replacing Manchester City on the trophy. Of a draw that could be cruel or kind. A home tie with Sunderland or a trip to Liverpool? A rematch with Leicester City, perhaps?

On Saturday we find out. Bring it on….

The pre-Doncaster Soccer AM debacle (our H almost due, too)

Nick Bruzon

West Ham undone by El Scorcho from Wissa.

4 Oct

Just magnificent. An epic finish of biblical proportions. Brentford head into international break with another win under the belt. Just when you thought it wasn’t possible to even come close to Liverpool last week, we went and did this. The latest moment of joy, a 2-1 defeat of West Ham at the Olympic Stadium that was as deserved as it was late. Surviving wave after wave of second half pressure, it was that man Wissa who popped up to fire home the winner in front of the Bees faithful with virtually the last kick of the game. The visiting fans went absolutely nuts. The home support in meltdown. Oh for a Rio Ferdninad or John Colby to have got in the way for them. Instead it was another three points earned, up to 7th (seventh) and now two weeks before we welcome Chelsea to Lionel Road.

Yesssss. Wiiiiissssaaaaaaaa!!!!

What a win. What a start. With Ajer missing and Janelt replaced during the warm up, Thomas Frank saw his plans further hampered by a shoulder injury to Shandon Baptiste. Yet this season is as much about strength in depth and the Bees played like a side posessed. Solid at the back but starting on the front front. Mbeumo hitting the top of the bar with minutes before scoring not long after. A fine break from Canos saw his shot only parried and there was Bryan to steer it over the line. ‘Keeper Fabianski shovelling it clear but the goal had already been chalked up, with VAR going through a momentary act of agreement.  

Twenty minutes gone and a goal up. An effort that was reflective of our dominance. A game that was threatening to be much akin to our solitary defeat, that by Brighton, where we had all pressure and no end product. This was different. Roared on by a packed and passionate away contingent, the Bees had gone for it from the off. Pushing men forward and breaking with pace. Rock solid at the back. It might have been double. The home side might have had some cheer but a header from Zouma was about as good as it got. 1-0 Brentford at half time and, despite the enforced substitutions, looking great value for the lead.

VAR confirms what the ref had already seen

And then the second half started. David Moyes can only have delivered the mother of all rollickings whilst the orange segments were being served up because his team re-emerged with with purpose by the bucketload. The manager losing his shit on the touchlines (more than once – here’s the ball…) and his team actually breaking with intent. Yet, somehow, the Bees held firm. Blocks, deflecting, fine saves. It was heart in mouth time as West Ham pushed and probed. 100 yards from the action the supporters giving it their all. Willing the Bees on to hold firm and we almost did. Almost. The clock running down with snail paced movement until, with 80 minutes gone, there was Bowen to fire home the equaliser through a crowd of defenders and inside the near post. It looked side netting from where we stood, binoculars primed by those in the upper tier, but alas it was in. Urghh. Look at what we could have won.

West Ham fans exploding with delight. Bubble machines making a half-arsed attempt to parp out their wares in cringe inducing celebration. Who needs gimics? Whatever. 1-1 and the Hammers continuing to push. Brentford, somehow, hanging in there. Three minutes of time added on and then, deep into this additional period a free kick awarded. Into the box we went. All of us barring goalkeeper Raya. Pontus with the sweetest of connections but once again Fabianski was there to get it clear. Not clear enough. It fell to the edge of the box where the unmarked Wissa kept his cool and despite a man bearing down on him, slammed a scorcher straight back from where it came with interest. Boom. Fabianksi no chance. The net billowing. Limbs. Scenes. Celebrations. Call it what you want, the first team piling on to each other. Even Raya running up to join in. The supporters united in ecstasy. Not knowing whether to celebrate with the team or the home fans stood just to our left who had been giving it large all game. Pantomime villains for 90 minutes and resorting the the role of petulant schoolboys.

Oh football. This is why we love it so much. There was barely time for the restart before the ref called it game over. An incredible ending to a wonderful game. Wissa immense. The balls on that man to connect so well but really it was more than him. It was all round effort. Another top, top team performance. If Liverpool had been amazing, this was up there for different reasons. There’s nothing finer than a last gasp winner and it was one that came in what was an archetypal game of two halves. It’s West Ham, innit? You almost had to feel for the home support. Almost.    

Brentford now three points off second placed Liverpool and a further off the top of the table. Our opening salvo of 12 from 7(seven) games perhaps beyond even the wildest dreams. Nobody gave us a prayer yet here we are again. West Ham the latest to be hit by the runaway bus. A huge arena silenced. The list of achievements that bedecked the middle tier to our left – 1964 FA Cup Winners… 1965 European Cup Winner’s Cup… 1966 World Cup winners – nothing but a reel of the past. A team with an impressive list of former glories but unable to match the moment when it came. Wissa rounding off an afternoon that will live long in the memory.   

West Ham. Winners ( in one respect)

Now , time to catch the breath. A few weeks off. Hopefully the injuries won’t be a severe as first feared although Baptiste’s shoulder, since confirmed as dislocated, isn’t the sort of thing you can just run off in five minutes. One can only imagine it’s going to be a prolonged period of time spent with our old friend, the anti-gravity treadmill.

Until then, time to reflect on about as exciting start to Premier League life as it is possible to have hoped for. It’s been nothing but fun and yesterday, following on from Liverpool the game before, had it all. Top flight football. Opponents steeped in history. Rival fans giving it their all. The bus stop in Hounslow doing it for fun. West Ham pointless. Brentford leapfrogging them in the table and another win under the belt.

Fair to say that top flight life is good. Long may it continue like this. Brentford proving that reputations count for nothing. Ours included. We ARE tinpot. We ARE a bus stop. We ARE put together through shrewd acquisition and team spirit rather than big money buys. And? We know it. We don’t, actually, care. The sooner other teams get used to it and play the 11 in front of them rather than the preconception then the easier they may find it. Until then, keep writing us off all day long.

That was a lot of fun. A lot..

Nick Bruzon

A topsy-turvy day ends with a lot to be said for sustainable football.

1 Sep

In the end it all came to nothing for Brentford. Nobody in but nobody has gone and the transfer window has now slammed shut. Thankfully. Despite the lemming like collective jumping on the Fosu to Swansea City bandwagon, Tariqe is still a Bee. As are both Joel Valencia and Halil Dervişoğlu. None of those players moving out on anticipated loan with the former, apparently, floundering after Fulham failed to take Matt Grimes from the Liberty Stadium. Fosu having driven all the way to Wales in expectation before that one bit the dust. If you believe what you read. Which I didn’t. It made no sense and just goes to show you can’t always trust the Twitter rumour mill until things are done and dusted. The Athletic, amongst others, convinced it was on. It might have been but wasn’t. Well, I guess you get what you pay for.  Swansea clearly haven’t. Look positive though, its nothing compared to the mess at Barcelona.

Fosu. Deadline Day ended with Swansea trailing in his wake.

What else is there to say? Perhaps, as much as anything, is the question of why the Bees seemed set to offload a man popular with just about the entire fanbase and who has certainly proven his place? At one point it looked like we were going to have to start celebrating Canos Friday instead. And whilst, of course, supporters don’t decide team or managerial selection (thank goodness, based on some of the observations last season) , nobody could deny that this move seemed strange. Which is as much why trying to scratch below the surface will, once again, likely show why yours truly is the numpty on the terrace rather than anybody with any form of influence or input. 

Given his age, experience and development already I’m not sure the advantage to either Brentford or the player in sending him to Swansea? A club shedding players like a snake does its skin and positioned at the bottom end of the Championship table. Temporarily moving out a player who has always impressed for Brentford made no real sense, at face value. Perhaps there were deeper issues we are unaware of. Who knows?  

Maybe it was nothing more than looking to trim a squad that, per the GPG, is now one over the current maximum Premier League size of 25 (excluding Under 21 players).  As they put it, the current number of eligible players over 21 is 26. We still need one to go out. Or he sits on the sidelines. Albeit we have some temporary ‘respite’ on that side of things given Mads Bech would appear to be out for half the season at least. He can fill the somewhat unflattering ‘makeweight position’ in the short term and, as such, we may well see Tariqe in the Premier League.

Personally speaking, I’m just pleased there was no 11th hour bid for one of our ‘first name on the teamsheet’ players. Sergi Canos, Rico Henry, Ethan Pinnock and David Raya are still with us. There was no late, late bid to take Ivan Toney to Barcelona in lieu of the now departed Lionel Messi or Antoine Griezmann. £40m for the later a poor return on the £120m to bring him in just two seasons ago. The Catalan club off-loading their star names faster than Fulham exited the Prem last season. Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba taking wage cuts to keep the team within FFP limits whilst another £25m was recouped by the sale of Emerson Royal to Spurs.

Matthew Upson, commenting on the BBC live feed, would note. “For Messi to go says it all. I could not picture it. It has got that bad, we are seeing such a different Barca team – what will the team be like in coming seasons? To see it in thus position, I find it sad.”  

Why? As one source a bit  closer to West London said to me last night: “Why are so many people sad about it? Them and Real Madrid got so much more money than any other team just to maintain their cartel status and bring tourists to La Liga. F*ck ‘em. Get found out and go bust.”

Well said that man. Or woman. Brentford may not be going out and buying the big name players but, instead, we keep on doing our business the old school way. Albeit with a modern twist. Finding untapped talent and developing it. Building a squad through patience rather than remortgaging the house and putting the deeds on the line for an apparent quick fix solution. 

There’s a lot to be said for sustainable football.

Nick Bruzon 

A poor man’s Hans Gruber and a drum. Trip to the Palace reminds us what we’ve missed.

22 Aug

Brentford ahead of Manchester City. Not my words, Carol. Those of crisps star Gary Lineker on TV’s Match Of The Day last night (definitely not this morning on ‘catch up’ after falling asleep on the sofa). This, following a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace. As eventful a game as one could imagine from the scoreline with both teams feeling aggrieved not to have taken all three points by the time referee Martin Atkinson called a halt to proceedings. Thomas Frank would take the applause from the travelling support as his, our, team, remain unbeaten in the Premier League. The current table seeing us sitting in fourth place with only Liverpool, Brighton and Everton ahead. Today’s fixtures will, no doubt, alter the balance of this fledgling ladder but, as it stands, there can be no complaints. Two games. Four points. None conceded. Champions League spot occupied. Don’t @ me. The stats don’t lie. As Shakira almost once sang.

Full Time. Thomas takes the applause and praises the fans

Where to start? Support levels were stonking. From both teams. Brentford loud, louder and ending it loudest. Palace, with a frenzied welcome of flag waving that transformed into huge vocals which the silent Arsenal visitors we had last week could only dream of.

All this, before resorting to that most heinous of football crimes. A drum. Oh for crying out loud, a f*&king drum. Still, as one observer put things, it was the only thing they could beat.

A drum. Pass the bucket

On pitch, Palace started at 100mph. The team looking to make up for lost time after last weekend and almost getting off the mark within minutes – only the frame of the goal keeping David Raya’s sheets clean when, by all rights, they should have been left aswell and truly blemished from close in. Conor Gallagher the man coming close but, in truth, it was the best opportunity they had and symptomatic of their game. No cutting edge when fast paced attack reached the final third. Benteke also with a good chance whilst Sergi played  Wilfried Zaha like a second hand fiddle.  The Ivorian resorting to a second half hissy fit that left him well and truly rattled. He wasn’t alone though. 

See also:  the chap in the supermarket end sporting the turtle neck jumper, blazer and slacks. He looked like the murderer in an episode of Midsomer Murders. It was the librarian wot did it. Or, perhaps, the classic Hollywood ‘late 80s’ English criminal. A poor man’s Hans Gruber who seemed somewhat perturbed by the fact that the Brentford fans were making noise. It all ended with him being invited to leave early into the second half before an eventual, calmer, return.  

Ahh, McClane…

As for Brentford, Bryan Mbeumo came closest. Hitting the Crystal Palace bar from a first half free kick whilst Ivan Toney and Frank Onyeka also had chances. Good chances. Sergi and Bryan linking up wonderfully down the right all game. Frank the Tank bossing midfield. Ajer travelling out of defence with all the comfort of a man who the ball tied ti his foot. Rock solid along side Ethan and Pontus when called upon. And when they were beaten, David Raya was there. If he’d been a virtual passenger against Arsenal, this time round he was well and truly needed. A fingertip save from James McArthur the other real moment of danger from the home side but our man was equal to it.

In the end though, we’ve left feeling almost disappointed. It was a game Brentford could have won. Perhaps should have. Yet credit to our opponents. The pace at this level is relentless. Lightning fast. Reflexes need to be that bit quicker and the fact we are, to date, holding our own is nothing to be sniffed at. This team has been prepared to compete over the last few seasons ans now we are here. Now we are doing it. So far. 

Special note for referee Martin Atkinson. It was as hard fought and physical a game as we’ve had in a while. Challenges flying in and he did everything possible to let the game flow. Even to the detriment of the players with the trainers coming onto the field a number of times. This was something Jurgen Klopp would talk about after Liverpool beat Burnley at lunchtime, saying that “it’s like we’re going 10 to 15 years backwards.” with officials now encouraged not to penalise ‘trivial’ things in order to let games flow. 

I’m all for an open game but there were a number of decisions and fouls, for both teams, where the decision making process seemed to be one where the ref simply chose not to see. Balance needs to be struck. Nobody wants the stop-start cardathons of Keith Stroud on a bad day, but there is also a level of physicality which if let unchecked will end up seeing somebody hurt. Perhaps its as much frustration after seeing a number of calls that, obviously, should have gone our way either not given or awarded to the hosts. At least we’ve not had VAR getting in the way. Yet. Time will tell how things play out on those fronts. 

Next up in the league for Brentford, a trip to Aston Villa. A chance to reunite with Dean Smith, Ezri Konsa and perhaps Ollie Watkins. We’ve sold 2,400 for that one. So far. If it was noisy at the Palace, there’s sure to be a party in the Park. Confidence is high and excitement levels even higher. Perhaps we might even make it out of ‘last spot’ in the Match of the Day running order. With Manchester City kicking off before us and playing Arsenal, we’ll need to win to retain our place ahead of them. Hey, one can fantasise. Only 36 games to go….. 

Until then, we’ve a chance to reflect on just how good it was being able to travel. Going on the road once more. Being part of the massed ranks of travelling fans. A moment that has, for so long, felt a million miles away from being possible. A chance to travel with friend and family. To see familiar faces and jumpers. Yet it has happened . And it was amazing. H getting into the atmosphere like a duck to water.

Now bring on the Villa so we can do it all again.

Nick Bruzon