Tag Archives: Sergio Aguero

Uncanny parallels on a day of Gayle v gale as the run comes to an end.

17 Mar

And with that, the home streak was over. After 7 (seven) straight wins at Griffin Park, Brentford went down to West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in a game dominated by two goalkeepers and awful conditions. On a day windier than a naughty puppy at Christmas after snafflling an entire family size tub of Roses, it was West Brom who played both the conditions and the ref to win the game with their one moment of true quality – Kyle Edwards embarking on mazy run through the midfield and the Brentford defence to steer it past Luke Daniels six minutes into the second half. Elsewhere, there was more than a passing interest in how our own FA Cup conquerors, Swansea City, would fare in the next round at home to Manchester City. It would be fair to say there was no irony lost in how that one turned out. But we can only start with matters at Griffin Park.

The writing was on the wall before the game even kicked off in anger, if we’re being honest. And not just the appointment of Andy Madley as our ‘referee’. There was that lowest of low tricks at the toss – changing ends. I’m not a fan of having to kick ‘the wrong way’ in the first half. It doesn’t feel right and gets everybody’s back up. Especially given it meant we’d spend the second period kicking into the wind. And it was strong, very strong. The trees behind the away end were bending double whilst three balls were lost over the stadium roof after being hoofed high into the gusty stratosphere.

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View from the Braemar – West Brom had it when to counted. Sadly.

It was a bad start to the game but entirely understandable given the circumstances. Despite pressure and chances, the Bees were unable to find a way past Sam Johnstone in goal for the opposition in that opening period. It was another game where we went for it from the off.

Yet where previously we’ve had the ability to step it up in the second period, this time there was no way through. The elements providing a massive help to a team who defended with strength whilst cynically running down the clock at every opportunity. The ball was kicked away whenever possible, the ref allowed The Baggies to get in his ear and under his skin, throw ins were delayed and dives that would have had Tom Daley smiling were common place.

Much as against Sheffield United midweek, Brentford were locked out by well drilled opponents. When the chances came, the ball didn’t quite fall right or Johnstone was on hand to pull off top drawer saves. One in particular, from a Yoann Barbet free kick, had the fans out of their seats for 1-0 Brentford before the diving’ keeper’s outstretched palm managed to guide it to safety at the explosion of the ‘goal’ celebration. Canos and Maupay also came close but it wasn’t to be. 

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View from the Braemar – Yoann comes close. So close.

When West Brom had their own opportunity, Edwards took it with style. There can be no complaints about the way he started and finished the move. Even if there were plenty afterwards as the clock headed towards it’s inexorable denouement with all the pressure and tension of a losing Countdown contestant trying to make a last round word out of JKXDZBEIO.

More so, when referee Madley followed a strong first hour with a final thirty minutes which suggested his focus was anywhere but on ensuring the game could flow. His own performance very much going to the dogs as Brentford battled against Dwight Gayle, a roaring gale and a rogue ref.

So after the play-off dream had briefly raised its head in recent weeks, we’re now nine points off the top six with nine games to go. Given the way this team can play, I’m not going to say it’s over until it’s over. But being realistic, things are going to need a remarkable swing.

On the plus side, we’ve got international break to all catch our breath and recuperate before that final push begins at the end of the month with two away games – Wigan Athletic and then a midweek trip to Swansea City. At the very least, another top ten finish is more than attainable. Another finish over the likes of Birmingham City and QPR well within our grasp.

Yesterday was frustrating and notably so, given the conditions we had to watch the game in. Whilst I’d never trade being at Griffin Park for TV, there was a pang of jealousy about the comfort of those watching ‘on screen’ from sunnier climes.

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Not exactly TW8….

Still, if it was all about the comfort then you may aswell stay at home. Something a group of West Brom fans must have been wishing after putting on the worst pre-match display for TV’s Soccer AM since, well, that day we don’t talk about against Doncaster Rovers.

With football done, it was back home to catch up on the FA Cup action. In particular, the game between Swansea City and Manchester City. That one being of particular interest to Bees fans after we’d seen a 1-0 half time lead at the Liberty Stadium in the previous round turn into a 4-1 fifth round exit at full time. The catalyst for that one being turned around was, of course, the unfortunate equaliser where a free kick had beaten Luke Daniels, hit the post, struck the back of the still diving goalkeeper on its return and deflected straight back into the net for 1-1.

So there was no irony lost as Swansea saw a 2-1 second half lead at the Liberty Stadium turn into a 3-2 sixth round exit at full time. The catalyst for that one being turned around was, of course, the unfortunate equaliser where Sergio Aguero’s penalty had beaten Kristoffer Nordfeldt, hit the post, struck the back of the still diving goalkeeper on its return and deflected straight back into the net for 2-2.

That the penalty decision, like Aguero’s late winner, had probably been made the wrong way can only have added to the sense of frustration felt by the home fans. Tell me about it. Yet another two fingers up delivered from VAR or, more the case, the lack of VAR. The FA Cup only allowing the system to be used in games players at Premier league grounds. Nothing like keeping the competition consistent, eh? 

For Manchester City, an incredible opportunity to scoop a quadruple still awaits. For Brentford and Swansea City, we’re back to the drawing board. The Championship play-offs remain a mathematical possibility but are going to take an incredible combination of wins and favours from other teams.

 With Leeds United and Frank Lampard’s Derby county still to visit, who knows what might sill happen…..

Nick Bruzon

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As Dean prepares for City game, what has he learned from the weekend? Who starts?

13 Dec

Midweek decisions. With Brentford travelling to Bristol City tonight, I’ve got some sympathy for Bees boss Dean Smith. My own all conquering Fantasy Football team has suddenly been shot to pieces by the red cards for Manchester City duo  Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho combined with long term injuries to Philippe Coutinho and Charlie Austin at Liverpool and Southampton respectively. Seriously, you couldn’t make it up.

The danger of over tinkering to remedy this has already blown up in my face at the weekend  (yes Jermaine Defoe, you do seem to be a cheap replacement for the free scoring Manchester City man) and could get worse.  The Bees, meanwhile, are at Ashton Gate tonight with Dean facing a similar set of decisions.

Thankfully, there are no new injuries but with this being the middle game in a set of three within eight days (and that’s before you even hit the busy Christmas schedule – wonderful planning from the league) is it a case of doing some longer term planning? Will he change things around a bit or does he stick with more of the same and potentially run his team into the ground?

To be honest, I can’t see him mixing things up. Whilst Burton Albion didn’t provide the stiffest of opposition it was a case of getting back to winning ways. One of the oldest of football clichés says you never change a winning team whilst I’d also chuck in the one about taking each game as it comes. Besides, what should he actually do?

As in the game with Birmingham City, it was as much a case of celebrating what hit the back of the net as lamenting what didn’t but at least on this occasion we got out of it with points. Is it simple bad luck or something intrinsically flawed with his set up?

Personally I’m in the former camp. Mostly. The plan seems a simple one, play it through for Scott Hogan to get on the end of and, when it works, it does so to devastating effect. The goal machine is now three clear of Tammy Abraham who he’ll be up against tonight in the race for leading Championship scorer. Only Dwight Gayle at Newcastle United has scored more this season. That’s a  stunning achievement although one which does show our incredible reliance on Dean’s Plan A.

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The Bees celebrated more goals for Scott at the weekend

As in the Birmingham game, we saw  the return of the three centre back system and I’m sure Dean will give that another go. Should Tom Field (two wins from his two Brentford appearances) get a start or will he have to remain content on the bench? The system is one that needs to be persisted with – the opening goal against the Blues was horrible whilst the marking for Burton would have shamed a primary school team. Yet it is a system which looks as though it will have merit whilst solving Dean’s problem of how to play at least three, if not all four, of his centre backs.

As for the midfield, one can only guess at just what is it that stops KK even making it onto the field of play? But if he is to get a look in, it needs to be a decent run of appearances rather than a token cameo. It is one that has been much needed in recent weeks – if only to try and break up the poor run – but Dean has remained steadfast. And now, with the team back to winning ways, the Austrian may aswell take a pair of tweezers to Bristol in order to pluck the splinters from his backside.

Then again, the start against Burton (at least, until the substitutions) means no change will, or should, happen. Romaine Sawyers was quite wonderful, Nico was full of fight whilst Josh McEachran picked up where he left off against Birmingham. There was a strong case for Alan Mac but one that was resisted and it seems to have been the correct decision.

Let’s not pretend we were perfect against Burton. But we were much improved. Indeed, but for that twist of fate it could have been more. We can see from the stands how unlucky we are being although my slight concern is that listening to Dean speak and reading ‘official’ it is an element that is being heavily focussed upon. “We could have done this…. the referee should have done that…. how did the ‘keeper stop it?” rather than simply, asking the question – why aren’t we finding the net more?

In a column that has already mentioned double cliché, let’s go for the hat-trick. You make your own luck in this game. Create enough chances and, eventually, things will go in your favour. Something will go in off a defender’s backside. The referee will wave somebody on when they are five yards ahead of the last defender. The opposition goalkeeper will be distracted by chants of “It’s all your fault” and spill one on the line.

Over 500 hardy souls are travelling up to Bristol tonight. Many more will be listening on BeesPlayer. Here’s hoping they are rewarded for their efforts with another hard fought performance.

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View from the Braemar – it was full blooded on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

What a mess. Where next for team in an 808 state?

4 Oct

What a stinker of a Saturday. Trying to be nice about QPR for a forthcoming programme article. Sergio Aguero, just axed from my fantasy team, almost achieving brackets single handed after five goals for Manchester City at home to Newcastle. England getting dumped out of the rugby World Cup by Australia before the qualifying pools have even finished. And Brentford, the normal hope of some weekly sporting excitement, hit rock bottom with a morale sapping defeat at Derby County.

This assumes Brentford had much morale left to sap after a stint which has been turbulent, even by our standards. Thinking back to last season and Villagegate, I think this has been even worse. At least, then, we had a manager in Mark Warburton that the fans loved and a fit squad of a quality we’d never seen before. Likewise, the team were playing scintillating football. And although the game at Charlton was probably the real low point, performance wise, we came back to reach the play offs.

However, the events of the previous ten days, and I begin with last Thursday, have probably surpassed that in sheer incompetence. I say last Thursday, because that’s when Cliff Crown, Rasmus Ankersen, Phil Giles and Mark Devlin sat in front of the fans to tell us how wonderful everything was. Marinus was there, too. That’ll be Marinus our head coach who, with the supporters out of the way, was subsequently dismissed three days later.

Despite two statements and a probing interview with our director of football (sorry, Phil, but there doesn’t seem to be anything ‘co’ about this relationship – at least, in public) we are still none the wiser as to why he went – beyond a ‘fundamentally different approach to training’. Likewise, why such a positive message had been given just days earlier.

Just what changed on the training ground on Friday?

Apparently it was nothing about results on the pitch – a good thing too, given we’ve lost both games since Lee Carsley has taken over. Lee, don’t forget, a man who has openly said he didn’t ask for the role or particularly want to go into management.

I feel for him, genuinely, and don’t want to paint Lee as any sort of bad guy. Likewise, when even the senior players are apologising on social media after the game then there has to be something intrinsically wrong in the camp.

Harlee and the Judge - not a 70s cop show but comments from our senior player

Harlee and the Judge – not a 70s cop show but comments from our senior players

I don’t envy Lee the task of trying to turn this around. The highlights, such as they are, present a sorry picture of missed tackles and one way traffic. Fairplay to the 808 Brentford fans who made the trip to Derby. I’d love to have been amongst you; part of me is glad I wasn’t – and that’s an awful thing to have to admit.

Instead, I had Beesplayer where it was literally the match and not much else. I.T. problems at the front end meant things didn’t start until about 2.45 and then the commentary team, I’m sure for legitimate reasons, couldn’t get off air quick enough.

There was barely time for Mark Burridge to ask the erudite Mark Chapman for any final words before the plug was pulled. Even Ciaran Brett, who had earlier given us the somewhat eye watering image that, “There’s a lot of Adam Forshaw in Ryan Woods”, didn’t get the chance of a further look in.

It’s a shame, because this is one time when some genuine discussion from the team about what had unfolded would have been very welcome. Instead, it was left to social media for more opinion and, for me, reviewing this Beesotted have hit it squarely on the head.

Fan feeling about the Derby game is summarised in one tweet

Fan feeling about the Derby game is summarised in one tweet

Plus points?

  1. We have two weeks off. Lee can get some serious one on one time with the squad and see what magic he can work on the players ahead of the home match with Rotherham United.
  2. At least we have already beaten Bristol City and Preston – two teams who seem in even worse shape than us.
  3. We didn’t concede in the second half. And almost scored.
  4. For all we are in a dark place now, the gap to the play offs is only ten points. And that’s not meant as an incentive for promotion but more an indication of how tight the table currently remains.

And this, for me, is the key point in all this. We’re ten games in, the table has taken shape and it doesn’t look pretty. BUT….if we can get our players back and a run together, then there is all the time and the space available to start climbing.

Let’s be honest, this time last year most supporters would have taken finishing ‘fourth bottom’ as a good thing. We ended up coming fifth. Personally, I felt we always had it in us to go all the way and said as much. Right now I’d bite your hand off for that previous aspiration.

Equally, I think we are better than that but in a campaign where rather than gelling as I had hoped we would, the team have only looked worse, you need to start somewhere.

‘Aim for fourth bottom’ is hardly a motivational message up their with the Olympic standard ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ . Equally, we need to be realistic, based on current events. Right now I’d love, with a two week break, if Rasmus, Cliff and the rest of the gang could host another fans’ forum.

Some might argue it is too close to the last one but, equally, so much has changed since then and supporter feeling is at a level I’ve never experienced before. That, in itself, is bonkers considering how excited we should be with the Bees back in the Championship and given a chance to consolidate. What harm would it do to face up to the fans for an additional ‘catch up’? At least, then, nobody could complain they haven’t been given the opportunity to speak?

Failing that, why not do an interview with Billy, Dave and the Beesotted camera rather than ‘club official’? As ‘voice of the fans’, they’re never shy and usually have their finger on the pulse.

Beesotted: Billy is never one to hold back (sorry Dave - I've no 'file photo')

Beesotted: Billy is never one to hold back (sorry Dave – I’ve no ‘file photo’)

We’ve chosen to go down this route and nobody said it would be easy but right now, with the approach hardly reaping rewards – and these things do take time – then if it is one we are to persist with, survival has to be the primary objective.

And that’s a sad thing to be saying this early into a season that had promised so much following the previous campaign.

Nick Bruzon