Tag Archives: Sheffield Wednesday

Time to make some history.

15 May

Welcome back / Crud, him again. Delete as applicable. We’ve needed a few weeks of ‘downtime’ on these pages for a multitude of reasons but that’s all finished. Been there, done it, bought the t-shirt. There’s been no room to talk about Brentford making a winning run to the end of the season. On Ivan Toney scooping the golden boot and breaking Glenn Murray’s Championship record with his 31st of the season at Ashton Gate. Indeed, no room to talk about the near coronary induced by the decision to keep him on the pitch when he picked up the yellow card in that final ‘regular’ game of the campaign prior to scoring. No place to talk about how the final four have played out for the play-offs. As we all know, Monday evening sees Bournemouth host Brentford followed by Swansea City visiting Barnsley. Perhaps most importantly, no real time to talk about the buzz of being allowed back into games from next week. The lucky supporters over the 3000 TAP point limit know they will be at Lionel Road next Saturday. Those entered into the ballot no doubt sweating on the results of that as much as the first leg.

Yet for everything that has gone on, the only real subject on anybody’s lips has to be the play-offs.  Positive though I have been about our promotion chances this season (spoiler alert: it’ll continue), there was perhaps a resigned inevitability about our chances of reeling in a Watford team recording win after win after win in the final few furlongs. Their own victory at Norwich City the point where deep down even the maths was too outlandish a leap of faith to make. Their 1-0 defeat of Millwall confirming a return to the Premier league. Now, Brentford are looking to join them with a tenth bite at the play-off cherry. A monkey on the back the size of King Kong. We all know the stats. We all know our record. Nine attempts. Four finals. Nine defeats. The whole process starting with Tranmere Rovers back in the early 90s and coming all the way up to Fulham last time out. An extra time defeat as much a triumph for brutality as it was football. In between we’ve had Huddersfield Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Swansea City and Middlesbrough in the semis along with final game slip ups against Crewe, Yeovil Town and Stoke City in Cardiff. That one followed up by the worst train journey ever. Apologies again to all impacted. Only Preston North End had experienced more attempts than us without success, albeit even they have finally done it. Ten play-offs ; one win. Can we do the same?

The play-offs. We all know what happened the previous nine times…..

The short answers is a categoric YES. For me, Clive, I’m convinced this is finally our turn. Dark horse for second place in ‘player of the season’ Sergi Canos popping up to get the winner at Wembley. Hey, one can dream. The simple fact of the matter is that despite the plethora of injuries we’ve readjusted our formation and hit our groove once more. Brentford are keeping clean sheets at one end and scoring goals at the other. Of course, we’d love Rico, Josh and Henrik back (and who knows what unlikely cameos may be made at some point? ) but the team have rediscovered themselves. Sergi at wing back, Tariqe in flames and Christian Norgaard alongside the centre backs a formation rejig that has seen the Bees back to winning ways. The other three teams doing their level best to trip over themselves in a bid to discover the most anti-form in the final lengths. 

Of course, football isn’t that simple. No matter how well one team is playing versus the other three, everyone has had a chance to reset and pick themselves up once more. All four teams go into this fresh and it comes down to one thing only – who holds their nerve? Swansea, Barnsley , Bournemouth or Brentford? Obviously we’re going to talk up the Bees where, perhaps, we can draw some historical parallels. Blow the dust off the previous column (during the war, Grandad) and it spoke about how we fell into the play-offs after being presented with a golden chance after Huddersfield beat West Brom in game 45. Oh, the pain of tripping up against Stoke and then home to Barnsley was indescribable. Of watching our ‘automatic’ chances slide away. An inexorable torture session viewed from behind the sofa with fingers over eyes. Played out in empty stadia as our hopes of hitting the Premier League were replaced with a ninth attempt at the play-offs. We all know what happened.

Yet, longer term, might this have done us a favour? Perhaps. Like ‘that penalty’ against Doncaster  (a pain only matched by the play-off penalty defeat to Huddersfield the season we came second when there was only one automatic slot), we bounced back in a style that had to be seen to be believed. Marcello Trotta and the team taking that pain, scrunching it up into a little ball and booting it into the net. The victory at Leyton Orient perhaps the most ballsy thing I have witnessed a football team ever do. Too right we celebrated like we’d won the FA Cup. Partridgesque levels of bouncing back following the most indescribable anguish.

This time around, rather than watching our team play in the Premier league with out us present, we’ve had to hit pause. We’ve reached the semi-finals of the League Cup. We’ve had that huge unbeaten run mid-season. We’ve discovered the most coveted goal-scorer in English football in Ivan Toney. If ever there was a shoe in for ‘player of the season’ it is him. The only real battle there as to who comes second? The fairytale ending is all lined up. A first season in the Premier League, to be played out in front of supporters, the prize at stake. Not to mention a few quid. If nothing else, a chance to avoid the most undesirable play-off record.

Who do you want in the play-offs?”. That, the most common question that has come in this direction in recent weeks. Honesty, I don’t care. Four tough teams. Four teams after the same thing. Only one can make it through. This comes down to nothing more than bottle. The fans will, of course, bring an additional aspect that wasn’t there last time out. And a good thing too. We all know how awful football in empty stadia has been. The echoy thud of the ball and the shouts from the touchline the only sounds to punctuate the players calling out to each other. Urghh, it has been grim. All being well, it is now over. Being part of the crowd against Blackburn  earlier in the season, the clamour of 2,000 fans was the most incredible noise. The sweetest of sounds. We’ll have double the amount in this time around. All four stands populated. If not heaving, certainly more present to lift the players further. Peter Gilham finally having a crowd to play up to. The players being roared on. 

Oh, I can’t wait for the play-offs. Not a typo. As much as anything else the chance to see a game of football. To enter this game of Russian roulette feeling positive is the most alien of feelings. Yet, perhaps, the depressing familiarity of what we do at this stage will finally work in our favour. There is no pressure. At least, not in our house. I’ve had the somewhat dubious pleasure of experiencing all nine of our previous attempts and have been finally numbed against the feeling of what comes next. We’ve nothing to lose because we only lose. The team can play with freedom. Without the albatross around the neck. The script is written. All we need to do is turn up and deliver.

All we need to do…… If only football were that simple.

Bring it on. Seen you next Saturday. In person.

Nick Bruzon   

Needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle.

2 Apr

Finally, the Championship is back for Brentford after the interminable two week international break. This highlights of which included a first cap for Ethan Pinnock aswell as those much celebrated goals for Ollie Watkins and Gibraltar. The former on his international debut. The later, a brief moment of respite against Montenegro that came either side of home defeats to Norway and the Netherlands. For once, no consolation in seeing the brackets wheeled out as the boys from the Rock took a second half shoeing from the Dutch after an inspired opening forty-five. This, despite the wonderful form of goalkeeper Dayle Coleing. Not often you can concede ten in two games yet still be lauded as a player of the week. That’s now been and gone. Instead, we’re off to Huddersfield Town for a TV game tomorrow lunchtime. Today, we have to sit tight and wait for Watford to host Sheffield Wednesday before Swansea travel to Birmingham City this evening. If ever there was a ‘can both sides lose?’ derby then here it is.

No celebration. No brackets

Of course we should just focus on ourselves. The squad, one hopes, mostly refreshed. Recent pictures of Rico ‘on the grass’ providing some optimism. How close he remains to full fitness is, of course, another question altogether. Likewise Josh Dasilva.

Both sorely missed in recent weeks. Both players who can only strengthen our chances in the run in should they be available. Both players who will be in the Premier League next season – one way or another. See also: Ivan Toney. Cripes, we’ve got some first XI when everyone is fit.

Might we see Rico in action again soon?

Whilst just looking out for Brentford is the text book answer to any question about the last stages of a promotion campaign, we all know that’s nonsense when it comes down to it. Every decision, every goal, every result from our rivals is scrutinised in agonising detail. Moreso, when they are in action and we have an extra day to wait before our own game. Watford are the ones currently in second place. A 3pm kick off at home to Sheffield Wednesday in their game and, surely, no possible outcome beyond a win for the Hornets? Our only hope of a favour here being the Owls fighting a desperate rearguard against relegation. Who knows? 

For Swansea, a trip to Birmingham City in the evening. Last time out Lee Bowyer’s Blues were hammered at Vicarage Road. Tonight’s test equally tough and they’ll have to be ten times better to get anything out the bag here. The combination of Harlee Dean at the heart of the defence and the Swans propensity to be awarded penalties has me worried, that’s for sure. The one real hope being that, like Wednesday, City are also perilously close to the trapdoor. The only thing keeping them out of the bottom three being their having played about a hundred games more than Rotherham United. Any salvation for them needs to start immediately.

With Brentford not in action until tomorrow, let’s not pretend we won’t be following both games with a combination of intrigue and blind optimism. I’m not expecting any favours out of either and know we’ll have to rely on ourselves. Wednesday and Birmingham will only be able to offer the expected resistance of any team facing the dual factors of a relegation battle and promotion contenders. The bookies are giving 2.75 – 1 as the current price on Watford and Swansea in a win double. Lump your mortgage on it. I have. Well, if not the mortgage the remaining contents of my online betting account. Which should see me able to spring for a Creme Egg come Saturday morning.

Whatever happens, happens. None of it counts for anything if we can’t hit our own winning streak. Whilst not a ‘must win’ game, the trip to Huddersfield is one where three points will be very, very welcome. Time is starting to run out for all of us. Brentford have nine games left. That’s still almost 20% of the campaign – a significant proportion of course – but it doesn’t feel like that many when they can be counted on your fingers and thumbs. Especially when you know how the pressure will crank up in those final few fixtures. If ever there was a time to show what we’ve got then it’s now. The Terriers tomorrow and then Birmingham City at home on Tuesday. No irony to be lost there if, somehow, they rediscover the way to goal and any semblance of form today. Stranger things.

It doesn’t feel like there are too many to go….

If you can’t face watching either of today’s games on TV then there are two alternatives. First up, The Beesotted podcast. Billy and team providing an hour long distraction in their own big game build up. You can get that here.

Then there’s the combination of social media and kits. The World Cup of Brentford shirts seeing an epic head to head between Adidas 80 and Hummel 93. That one comes to a conclusion on Saturday morning and, whilst we are sadly lacking the Chad 92, Osca yoke and Funky Bee pin stripe, let’s not pretend the two finalists are nothing but amongst the very best we’ve ever had.

You can vote below. Until then, that’s me. See you on the other side. Tonight, Matthew, I need to be Birmingham City. And that’s not a good thing for anyone, especially those of us who supported the club during the early 90s. Then again, needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle, or whatever somebody much clever than me once said. 

Nick Bruzon

And breathe. A return to winning ways more than welcome in the circumstances.

25 Feb

As you were in the league table. Brentford remain second albeit a 3-0 win (not a typo) over Sheffield Wednesday saw us nudge further ahead of the chasing pack on the goal difference stakes. However, Norwich, Watford and Swansea all picking up their own three points was reason enough to be glad we were back to winning ways as much because it saw an end to the blip which had seen our huge unbeaten run come to an end in quite cataclysm style. Instead, we’re level on 60 points with the Hornets whilst Swansea sit on 59 , having played two games less. Norwich are, of course, 7(seven) points clear in first but a televised trip to Carrow Road on Wednesday evening (17.30 for that one) could see the punch up at the top of the Championship get even tighter. That’s to come. As is Saturday’s visit from Stoke City. For now it a case of a job very well done.

A much changed Brentford team with no recognised left back or centre-forward saw Bryan Mbeumo  filling in for Ivan Toney (Marcus Forss out with a concussion) and Mads Bech Sørensen covering for Rico. This a position he is going to have to fill for the next two months although based on last night’s showing we seem to have dodged a bullet for sure. One swan doesn’t make a summer but an assured performance and the third goal would have given him confidence by the bucketload. 

Let’s be honest. Who amongst us didn’t feel slightly anxious going in to this one? Yes, I’ve got tons of optimism but the niggling self-doubt that goes with being a Brentford  / football fan had been tested on that three match run. With big names missing already, the press conference given by Thomas Frank yesterday had caused additional trepidation as to how we would line up. Along with Marcus, he also declared Ivan and Josh Dasilva missing (although both would be named on the bench, both would come off and both would help give the team some added familiarity late on ). However, in the end it saw the above mentioned changes with Sergi and Tariqe alongside Bryan aided and abetted by Ghoddos and Jensen give us a relatively familiar feel.

Understandably things started slowly although the positive being we didn’t concede first (see also: pretty much every game in February). Instead, the Bees took the lead mid-way through the first half when Bryan Mbeumo guided an effort from Sergi home at point blank range – or it hit him in the face and turned in, you choose. Either way, his reaction time was impeccable and the goal stood. The net rippling, Peter Gilham cheering and any pre-match nerves falling away by the bucketload. The memory of ‘that’ false nine formation at QPR under Dean Smith disappearing as quickly as it had come on seeing the inevitable team selection.

Half-time came and went. A game of few chances saw Brentford in control and biting hard. Some much missed steel returning in style. Move along Henrik, nothing to see here. Thankfully Keith Stroud was keeping time from the side rather than our man in the middle ! Sheffield Wednesday unable to make inroads and the changes from the bench, which also saw a return to action for Emiliano Marcondes, were sufficient to help wrap up the points. Samman Ghoddos first on the scoresheet, having missed out earlier in the half with a glorious chance when he placed it just wide after being left totally unmarked. This time there was no mistake , with Mbeumo turning provider and a beautiful finish to double the lead.

With the Bees pressing, Mads made it three. This time Ghoddos suppling the killer assist which was met with a well placed header that the keeper could only slow down on its way into the back of the net. 3-0 and game over. It might have been more had other chances gone in. That’s football though and the final score is all that counts. I’d have taken 3-0 all night long had it been offered beforehand. Which, of course, it isn’t. For the full match report you’ve got the usual places as a good start: Brentford official and the BBC (as long as you can go into it on the  assumption their reporter is either an Owls’ fan or has some sort of anti-Bees agenda).

It wasn’t overly pretty and it wasn’t our usual slick play. The absolutely key thing being three points on the board and our performance one which saw the Bees keep going and then turn the screw in testing circumstances. Winston Reid and Ethan Pinnock immense at the back. David Raya not really given the chance to be tested, barring one first half-effort. We’ll have more options for the game with Stoke City on Saturday and then the Norwich fixture. Neither are going to be easy, that’s for sure. Then again, nobody said the Championship was a walk in the park. All we can do is worry about ourselves and keep up the pressure. Keep on banging in the goals. Keep on churning out there results, It may not always be super slick but the-performance was a hundred miles away from the horror show at Coventry City. For that, I’m a happy, happy man. Lesson learned. Can they be applied again? Roll on Saturday when we find out.

And relax – we all feel it. Brentford official published this on their Twitter last night

Nick Bruzon  

Two Tone(y) Ivan keeps on making records.

22 Oct

Up we go. Six games in, three more points and two more goals for Ivan Toney. Brentford left Hillsborough on the right end of a 2-1 away win. A Sheffield Wednesday team with more than a few familiar faces had no answer to a determined Bees side. Barring a brief flurry around their equaliser and a final push in a protracted five minutes of injury time, our hosts were never in it. It’s not often we can say that at this most hoodoo laden of venues but there we go. History counts for naff all. You can only win on the night and that’s what we did in a game that saw Samman Ghoddos and Vitaly Janet make impressive starts for Brentford. Likewise Sergi Canos, Tarique Fosu and especially Mads Bech Sørensen – coming off the bench to replace injured Pontus Jansson.

Official capture our man enjoying another moment !

We can talk about Brentford’s determination. Our solidity. The comfort factor generated by having David Raya back to his best and committed to the Bees between the sticks. Rico Henry once again doing what he does so so well. Yet for all the talk of team effort it is that man Toney who is grabbing all the headlines. Two clear in the penthouse suite of the Championship leading goalscorer hotel. i.e. he’s at the top. Six league games played and 7(seven) goals scored. Six of those coming in the last three games as brace has followed brace has followed brace. Indeed, it may even have been a hat-trick had sweet connection been made with one second half delivery from Sergi. 

It’s a moot point. To have settled in this quickly is nothing short of astounding. The goals are, of course, magnificent but the ground covered and reading of the game just as impressive. His first, based purely on instinct and reaction. On reading the game to anticipate Owls’ goalkeeper Cameron Dawson parrying Henrik Dalsgaard’s rocket shot. Timing his run to perfection, he burst clear on goal to guide it straight back into the net. 1-0 Brentford and less then ten minutes gone.

On we went. Possession dominated. Chances created. This was looking good. Up yours, ‘Frank out’ brigade. Go figure. But being who we are, making it easy is so often not on the list of requirements. Sure enough, our hosts levelled it midway through the first half. Callum Paterson getting through the Bees defence to power over Pontus and steer home a perfect cross from ex-Bee Kadeem Harris. Sheffield Wednesday level. Yet instead of collapsing it was time to step up.

Less than five minutes later and Brentford were back in front. Ivan Toney, again. This time from a Janelt corner and a celebration to match the mood. 2-1 Bees. Thomas Frank buzzing. It could have been more. Perhaps should have. Dalsgaard hit an absolute screamer just over the bar with Dawson rooted to the spot. A relieved man indeed as he could only watch it whistle past. Mathias Jensen found himself clean through but the Wednesday ‘keeper was more than equal to the task.

Still, 2-1 up at half-time is good. Very good. Just as long as you can hold on to the lead. Which is what we did. A substitution riddled second half also saw Mbeumo and Ghoddos makeway aswell as our captain. Thomas had no real comment about the longer term prognosis fro Pontus beyond saying it was hamstring related. The plus point being at least he was able to watch on for the second half. There were more chances for The Bees. Likewise the visitors. Toney might have had a hat-trick. Wednesday may well have levelled it as the pressure built late on. Instead, it ended 2-1 and that’ll do me. Three more points and Brentford now up to 7th. Back to back wins and the trip to Stoke City next. 

Tails will be up but, of course, we now sweat on injuries. Albeit those that came on more than showed their worth to this team. The strength of the squad  being built is more than impressive. Let’s not forget we’ve lost Benrahma, Watkins and Christian Norgaard is out injured. Yet we have more points than this time last season and Toney is scoring for fun.

It’s too early to get overly carried away. The table is still taking shape but I can take heart that Brentford seem to have found their feet. Sheffield Wednesday are no mugs and Barry Bannan, in particular, showed his worth. Moses Odubajo and Jordan Rhodes also there to remind us of our own past. On another night they could easily have picked up a point. At the least. But they didn’t. That’s not how football works. As we were reminded in the season opener at Birmingham. The record books will show three points and an away win – that’s all we can ask for.

Well played Brentford. Hard lines Wednesday. A few days to recharge and then the trip to Stoke City on Saturday afternoon. Pretty sure last season’s fixture was of some significance but the exact circumstances escape me. No doubt the press will be on hand to remind us. That was then. This is now. Keep on looking forward. Keep on looking upwards. The gap to second place is three points. What more incentive could we ask for?

For now, though, a chance to catch out breath for a few days. Ivan Toney won another man-of-the-match award and you could hear what this all meant to him at full time. There was no comparison to Ollie Watkins. Just a player doing his own thing and continuing to rip up the goal scoring charts. All of a sudden the trip to the Potteries isn’t as daunting as it once might have felt.

Bring it on.

Good company

Nick Bruzon

Making the best of a crumby situation all round.

21 Oct

Brentford travel to Sheffield Wednesday this evening in a game where, sit down, one can only wish ‘that band’ were present. Not a typo. Oh to hear their moribund trumping. Their off-key renditions: Now that’s what I can jingoistic music. For no other reason than it would mean fans were allowed inside the ground. Instead we remain firmly behind closed doors. The closest thing possible to sit inside the confined quarters of a stadium lounge, enjoying food, drink and the game on a big screen, when the real action is taking place in the fresh air on the other side of the wall. That, the scenario playing out at Bristol City v Middlesbrough last night and one which has already been reported many times. The sheer ludicrousness of this situation lost on nobody, no matter how tightly social-distancing rules were, I am sure, being applied. We’re all desperate to get back in. Instead, we’re stuck with TV games in tumbleweed swept grounds. Fans confined to barracks rather than enjoying the fresh air in yet another example of the double-standards being applied to when it is, and isn’t, deemed safe to be near other people.

If only for real rather than cruddy photoshop

So we have coverage on Sky TV and i-follow ‘VIP’ (for those who chose to freeze their season tickets) as the next best thing. And it isn’t even close. Of course, I’m grateful for the opportunity to still see the Bees in action but let’s not pretend it’s the same. We’re all chomping at the bit to attend a game in person. To get our first taste of Lionel Road. The closest we’ll get to that is our own take on the ‘big screen / club lounge’ experience. Saturday’s offer for the trip to Stoke City has, I understand, seen heavy interest. This, even with a price of £40 for adults and £30 for children including food and beer (for the adults). 

I was tempted, but aside from the £100 it would have cost me, Harry and Mrs. Bruzon to attend personally speaking I want my first taste of the new stadium to be in a real match scenario. Not some ‘close but no cigar’ situation. Bullseye for the 21st century. ‘Look at what you could have won’. 

Fair play to the club for arranging. It will be of huge appeal to many – if only for the communal coming together and the chance to get some small look at our new home. If you don’t agree then don’t pay. Simple economics and Brentford doing nothing more than trying to make the best of what is a crumby situation all round. Balancing demand v numbers. Do it for free / token costs and we’d be flooded – then you get people upset about missing out. Lose-lose all round. So it’s not for me, Clive, but the closest we can get. For now.

Still, it’s all secondary compared to the news about Brentford supporter Jamie Powell. I’d imagine most fans have seen the devastating story on social media over the last few days. This, about his awful illness and the crowd-funding effort being launched to help raise the £350,000 to support treatment for an aggressive bone cancer in the skull. The club, the fans and the players are all behind this whilst my fellow blogger Luis Adriano wrote a quite wonderful piece yesterday which yours truly couldn’t even get close to emulating. You can find that here whilst I’d urge everyone to visit the ‘Just giving page’ to read more and donate if you can.

Life certainly deals a crappy hand at times. One can’t even imagine the anguish Jamie and his family are going through at present. It puts our own problems into perspective. Whilst, of course, not everybody will be in a position to contribute, it really is one of those where if you can then every penny counts.  

Getting back to matters more mundane, this evening’s game. Experience says that Sheffield Wednesday aren’t going to make it easy. We’ve always struggled at Hillsborough and our hosts are already eating into the -12 point deficit they began the season with. As such, I can’t see this being any easier. I’d also suggest that overly dwelling on the past isn’t going to help any.

Crack open the cliches but it really is 11 v 11. Empty stadia do make a significant difference. Away games much more of a leveller. Ivan Toney is firing them in for fun and Thomas Frank used yesterday’s press conference to confirm he expects the Championships leading scorer will be available to play. Likewise Emiliano Marcondes. This, following the game with Coventry at the the weekend.

I’m not stupid enough to even try and call this one. The bookies make Brentford favourites ; our hosts are 5/2. I take that, combined with Saturday’s solidity, as a positive. We’ve got through the first game of the post-Benrahma era with a win. Tonight will be a much sterner test but one I’m intrigued to see play out. Even if it has to be from the comfort of the sofa.

Last time out. Ivan did his thing against Coventry before injury denied him a hat-trick.

Nick Bruzon

Ivan not terrible. We hope.

18 Oct

Another win under the belt. Brentford chalked up a routine 2-0 over Coventry City that takes us to within two points of the p***-*ff positions in the embryonic table. At the half way mark to it having officially ‘taken shape’. The Bees are up to tenth and Ivan Toney has more than hit his groove. Another brace yesterday taking him top of the Championship goal scorer charts. With a tough run of fixtures coming up between now and Tuesday week – Sheffield Wednesday on, err, Wednesday, staying on the road to Stoke and then hosting Norwich City – we’ll have a much better idea of just how well Thomas Frank’s 20/21 incarnation of the team are adapting to Championship life. More importantly, with Toney being subbed off after suffering a shoulder injury, let’s hope its a case of Ivan not terrible when the teams for the game at Hillsborough are announced.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though. First things first, the Coventry game. As feels like it is going to be the case for the next few months – at the very least – it was another one where we had to watch on i-follow.

The couch and the wide angle camera – where there was as much of the empty stand on our screen as there was pitch – making the best of the bad job inflicted on us by Corona virus. That said, would it hurt to zoom in a little bit?  Perhaps its just our tv and my shoddy eyesight but I was struggling to identify the players at times. Sergi’s new look hair (or lack of) not helping. Was this the result of a training ground prank / dare that went wrong?

Official published this one – where’s the hair, Sergi?

What we could see looked good. Domination in the first half and the combination of heavy touches, desperate defence and fine goalkeeping (Pontus must be cursing) keeping things level as Brentford took the game to our guests. At one point the stats read 12 shots, 4 on target and 6 corners to the Bees compared with 0, 0 and 0 for the equivalent from Coventry.  Bryan Mbeumo will perhaps rue one chance where he seemed to be clear before getting closed out whilst Ivan Toney has Sky Blues’ ‘keeper Marko Maroši on his toes early doors.

But we all know the old adage about balls in the back of the net being the only thing that counts. Just look back to the season opener at Birmingham City.  With no goal coming and Coventry finding their feet late on, it had all the trade marks of being a classic 0-1 Brentford reverse as the players came in for their half-time cuppas. 

Oh me of little faith. Boom. Another blistering start and there was to be no escape for the visitors this time. No repeat of the second-half debacle we’d seen last time out. Instead, Ivan Toney opened proceedings within a minute of the restart. Marcondes finding Bryan Mbeumo whose ball forward – seemingly neither cross nor shot exactly( if only there were a phrase for that)  – was diverted home by the free-scoring frontman. 1-0 and pressure off. 

Little less than ten minutes later, that lead was doubled. Marcondes instrumental again. This time getting the assist as his cross found the head of Toney who made no mistake from six yards out. The floodgates were starting to open. Sit back, pop another beer and enjoy the rout.

Sadly not. Coventry were made of firmer stuff and, once more, grew into it. Instead we had to be happy with holding on for a clean sheet and sweating on our players’ fitness. Rico Henry went down for a while whilst Toney was subbed off. His replacement the quite wonderful Marcus Forss but with our new man adjusting so quickly to Championship life, his presence will be vital over the coming weeks. Thankfully, Tomas Frank would confirm to Billy Reeves at full time that the injury was not serious but we’ll no doubt be waiting on further news ahead of the trip to Sheffield,  Wednesday.

Vitaly Janelt also came on for a debut and impressed from the off. With Matthias Jensen having his best game in a Brentford shirt for a while, it offers hope that the absence of Christian Norgaard is one which whilst not ideal by any stretch, could be absorbed.

I’m a happy man today. 2-0 is 2-0. It could have been more and we still look a little rusty in places. Yet Ollie Watkins’ loss has not become the on-pitch disaster it could have been. Perhaps some of us are scarred by remembering the attempts to replace Dean Holdsworth with Murray Jones, Philipp Hofmann picking up for Andre Gray or just the car crash that was Nick Proschwitz. Instead we have cash in the bank and goals flying in. The statisticians at the GPG produced an inserting graph (not a typo) last night – 

What a way to illustrate how quickly Ivan has taken to life at this level. Ahead of Ollie and level with Neal Maupay, having played a game less than our much loved king of shithousery.

This is one game. But, as ever with Brentford, we take time to adjust. To find our feet. Look at how last season started compared to how it ended. In general, I mean, rather than those very last knockings. Move along, nothing to see there ! Once we hit our form, the Bees were unstoppable. At least until the game at Stoke City. Something something something p***-*ffs.  

We are gelling. We are winning. We’ve still got a league cup quarter-final to host, too. Let’s not forget the valuable wins picked up in that competition. Sheffield Wednesday away is as tough as it gets. Their own form has actually been better than ours, with only that 12 point deduction keeping them bottom of the table. They’re reeling in those around them already and will no doubt be desperate to get into ‘positive’ points as soon as possible. 

But we’ll be as keen to keep the goals coming. For David Raya to retain the ‘golden gloves’ he won last year. To get closer to the teams at the top of the table. I can’t wait for this one. If only to see how well we fare against a team whose home has been a less than happy hunting ground in recent seasons. Bring it on. 

Nick Bruzon

A good news/bad news kind of start to the day.

23 Sep

Another win for Brentford. Another game unbeaten. Through to the fourth round of the league cup at the expense of a West Bromwich Albion side who may have seen this one as a chance to restore some morale. Instead, the game ended two apiece – three of the goals coming from spot kicks and Marcondes with a sublime overhead kick – before we went through 5-4 in the penalty shootout. The reward for this being a visit from either Fulham or Sheffield Wednesday in next week’s fourth round. That, and the knowledge we’ve already defeated more Premier League sides than all three of those that made the jump up from the Championship last season. Leeds United the only one of those to taste any success (and that in the game of haemorrhaging defences against the hapless Cottagers). What a shame there was nobody allowed in to see it.

Sergi amongst those to feel the Forss

The expected changes to both teams were made. For Brentford it saw a return to goal of David Raya and a start for Marcus Forss, amongst others. Rico Henry, Emiliano and the sublime Sergi Canos also getting another runout from the off (let’s hope they can manage to avoid over exertion) after doing the business against Huddersfield on Saturday. With a strong bench that was well utilised the Bees were as strong as one could have expected. Certainly given the constant procession of midweek games clubs have had no choice but to play given the way the previous campaign was extended. It still makes no sense to even be playing the competition this year but, hey-ho, player burnout is a secondary consideration I suppose.

And if we are playing it, how nice to see Brentford doing so to the best of their available ability. West Brom barely got a look in during the opening half. Canos flashing one just wide and Emiliano hitting the post from distance. Fosu impressing throughout. The hosts with the one moment of danger just before half-time with a free kick awarded on the periphery of Saunders territory. It came to nothing.

Yet if the first half had seen everything but a goal, it all changed after the tea. The hosts took the lead form the spot. Dominic Thompson adjudged to have fouled Hal Robson-Kanu. The Baggies man picking himself up to give his side the lead. It was a lead that lasted less than two minutes and one which was cancelled out in fine style. Apparently.

We say ‘apparently’. Yours truly missed out after “Doing a JJ”. The net rippling off the back of Marcondes’ quite wonderful bicycle kick as this numpty had gone for a ‘splash and dash’ . Regular readers may be aware how back in the days we were allowed into grounds, it was a feat that the Giant Scot with the Pea sized bladder used to pull off with abandon from the Ealing Road terrace (missing goals by having to go for a wee, rather than bicycle kicks). Yet after suffering the same fate for our second on Saturday , has the baton been passed? Cripes. I hope not. 

If for no other reason that having fallen behind again to another Robson-Kanu spot-kick (not seen a worse ‘pen’ decision since Pontus elected for his infamous biro) we were then given our own chance to level things up.

‘That’ BIC

Daddy”, said H (I would imagine, if his teacher is reading) “wee. Go again”. One had to be impressed by the wordplay, if not the ignominy of being banished to the bathroom. I guess if you have to go, you have to go. Sure enough, it worked. Nothing to do with Marcus Forss at all. Like the lucky shirt, magic pants and not shaving, is this a new ‘omen’ to top the lot? Urghh.

Anyway, 2-2 it stayed. David Raya pulling off a flying save relatively late on to preserve the scoreline and justify his place back in the team after injury. The Twitter hate mob seemed out for our captain for the night. Makes a change from the quite bizarre Ivan/Sergi angst being seen in certain social-media quarters. Go figure. Nothing like getting on the team’s back based on nothing more than unfounded rumour. Anyway, if you’re one of those me banging on won’t change it. And if you aren’t, then presumably its nothing more than weird. Cripes. Considering some of the dross we’ve had over the years, the current squad is light years ahead.

Something proven from the full time penalties. Goal followed goal followed goal. Ivan Toney getting things off to a fine start for a Brentford team kicking second. The pressure of following the lead always adding an extra layer of pressure but, If it was there, it didn’t show. Josh Dasilva made it 2-2 with his own ‘Jonny Wilkinson’ style run up. Fosu and Forss were there for three and four. Then, David Raya did his thing. Diangana denied and the stage set. Up stepped Christian Nørgaard and there was no mistake made. West Bromwich Albion denied. The Bees through. A visit from another of last season’s Championship rivals next on the agenda.

We find out tonight whether that will be Fulham or The Owls. Brentford looking forward rather than over their shoulders at what might have been. At what happened last campaign. When pushed on whether this win was seen as revenge, Thomas Frank noted : “That’s the past, this is the future”.

With it, comes a chance to set our own personal best in this tournament. We’ve never reached the fifth round before. That game at Birmingham City being as close as it has got in recent years. Now, we’re all set for another crack.

Before that though, there’s a chance to rest tired limbs over the next few days. Saturday sees the trip across London to face Millwall. I’d love to be going – as much for the pre-match pub crawl as the actual game. Again, an action now denied and one with no end in sight. The latest announcements from the government curtailing any experiments with letting spectators back and meaning it looks like March, at the earliest, before we can even consider attending a game. ‘For the greater good’ and all that but let’s not pretend this isn’t soul destroying. That this isn’t devastating for so many, if not all, clubs on the financial front. That football without fans present and watching on I-follow is an ersatz replacement for the real thing.

I don’t really want to end on a downer. The prospect of Preston had been dangled like a carrot. That’s now been snatched away and for the foreseeable too. Waking up and listening to the radio this morning makes for hard news. We want in. We want normal. We just want to go and watch a game of football.  We aren’t allowed. For crying out loud, wash your hands and wear a mask. Like it or not. Believe it or not. Let’s all just do this . Please. I want to watch football. Not listen to Boris giving the impression of a man making it up as he goes along.

The latest rules invoking a virus busting cut-off at 10pm mean anyone wanting to watch the Arsenal – Liverpool game down the pub on Monday night will be kicked out with the game approaching 85 minutes gone. Small consolation, I suppose. And nothing Arsenal won’t have experienced before with fans streaming out early.

Before 22.00, everything is just fine. Be warned, horror awaits straight after.

Instead, let’s end with the thought of another fine performance. Of our MOTM Marcus Forss scoring. Again. With thoughts of Brentford continuing our winning form. Of taking consolation that, had we gone up last season, we’d have missed out on being physically present for that. 

Here’s to Millwall on Saturday. See you on I-follow.

Nick Bruzon 

The wait is over…

22 Sep

And with that, Saman Ghoddos finally became a Brentford player after the 27 year old attacker signed on a year’s loan from Amiens SC, with the option for a further two year permanent deal. The player put pen to paper and, with it, provided much relief. Not so much because it saw a 16 month pursuit come to an end but more because it meant we could finally retire those ‘Waiting For Ghoddos’ quips made by just about the entire internet in the build up to this one. I say quips. The line had been used so often it had become about as amusing (and tedious) as an episode of Mrs. Browns Boys. He’s gone straight in to training although one would suspect tonight’s trip to West Bromwich Albion in the third round of the league cup might be a leap too far.

The wait is over (sorry, sorry, sorry)

Speaking to ‘official’, Thomas Frank waxed lyrical about Ghoddos. So did Rasmus. Our head coach noting that along with his off the ball play, “He will bring good attacking qualities in the final third. He is good in one-on-one situations, is a good crosser of the ball, and makes very intelligent passes….He also has a personality and style of play that will work well with the group.You can read that piece, along with the thoughts of our top-knotted Co-Director of Football, here.

Imagine, somehow, the deal to take Said Benrahama from Lionel Road fails to transpire. My word, we’d be overflowing with attacking riches. I still can’t see that happening. Stadiums need to be paid for, books balanced and we’ve made no secret of the fact we expect him to leave. Yet, if things did play out differently…..

Like Pontus and Andreas (err), Saman had his moment in the World Cup 2018 sticker book

Still, we’ve not even seen our new man in action yet. The expectation from some fans no doubt huge. Players can take time to adjust. Others hit the ground running. For now, I’m glad we’ve got Bryan and Sergi tearing it up on the drive forward. That Josh Dasilva has picked up where he left off in the middle of the park. Canos in particular looks like he is planning for fun. Freedom of movement and confidence exuding from every pore. Long may that continue.

Whether tonight sees him get another run out or rested will be revealed when the team to play West Bromwich Albion is announced at 6pm. Don’t forget the early kick off if you are looking to follow this one on the ‘player’ option. £10 passes are available via the cup sponsor’s website and can be bought here

A trip to the Hawthorns feels very much like a case of déjà vu. They were one of the many teams we beat in the post Lockdown ‘run-in’ last season as Brentford came oh so close to making that step up. In the end, it was the Baggies that made it. Deservedly so. They got over the line in the final game and rightfully claimed their reward. 

Last time out against West Brom

That said, it has shown how hard the step up is. From going toe to toe with the Bees and Leeds United, they’ve now been on the wrong end of eight goals conceded and nil points as Everton and Leicester City have both feasted at the Slavan Bilić all you can score buffet.

Still, there’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded, err, Throstle and they’ll no doubt be looking to reset the form this evening. A home tie against a lower division ‘team like’… sure to have their eyes wide open and the players waking up this morning dreaming of the fourth round. The publicity seeking nature of the cup sponsor means we already know the reward for victory – a home tie with Fulham or Sheffield Wednesday. Their current ‘thing’ of doing the next round draw before the current one has even begun something designed as much with the intent of generating publicity, outtrage, knee jerk reaction and social media comment aka free advertising. So I won’t. You know their name. 

That’s their choice. We’ve ben treated to all manner of bizarre draws in the past. It’s their hilarious gimic  – something that has become about as amusing (and tedious) as an episode of Mrs. Brow…..

Instead, focus should be on going through. On getting the win. Rather than be distracted by the prospect of a local derby or the chance of a rematch with the final team to face Brentford in front of a Griffin Park full house.

The thought of playing the Cottagers something that will only see all the references to last season and the denouement of ‘that’ run in dragged up again. Oh. Joy. It’ll be like Doncaster Rovers all over. Something. Something. Something. Penalty.

Oh well. As Matthew Benham once said, “It’s become like a zombie that we can’t kill. But what can you do, eh?”. That, in regards tour transfer model but it feels much the same. We bounced back from that in style. I’m fully expecting the same thing to happen this time around. Needless to say, we’ll have the last laugh.

That’s for the future. For now, there’s another game. Could David Raya return? Will any of the new boys feature. Might Marcus Forss start? Could Ivan Toney get the goal he was so close to on Saturday afternoon. Roll on kick off. See you there – in spirit.

Let’s hope tonight is less tedious than…

Nick Bruzon 

How the week could play out. Who gets the elbow and who gets clear air?

29 Jun

Here we go. Brentford travel to Reading on Tuesday night, knowing a win will take us to within touching distance of second place West Bromwich Albion. With Fulham the ones falling apart at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon, a 3-0 win for Leeds United saw the gap to the third place Bees stretched out to 8 points. Surely not even they can blow that with 7 (seven) games to play? Funnier things have happened but perhaps the current shape of the table means it is the Baggies game at Sheffield Wednesday, on Wednesday, where we need that additional level of external interest.

Any decision about whether Brentford fans should be cheering Fulham or hoping for the draw was  taken out of our hands almost immediately. Aleksander Mitrovic was lucky to avoid straight red just minutes in to the game (and will surely be summoned by the FA to explain his use of the elbow today) and it went downhill from there. Goal followed goal with the Cottagers left floundering and Leeds looking strong as, to be fair. The only pleasure to be taken was seeing who had replaced Osama Bin Laden in their sea of cardboard cutout supporters – Joe Exotic, amongst others. 

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An ‘accident’ or deliberate brutality? Either way, the ref missed it

But with Fulham in a slump and their goal threat looking like he’ll be snuffed out, Brentford have an excellent chance to keep up the momentum that saw us head up to third place after Friday night’s fine win over West Bromwich Albion. Put simply, a win at Reading on Tuesday night will see us move just two points behind the second placed team. They then travel to Hillsborough the following night for a game that will be as significant as ours.

A trip to Reading won’t be easy. Let’s not rest on any laurels that come with those two fine wins that have kickstarted our return to Championship action in fine style. Sure, Brentford have played some wonderful football and looked solid at the back but this one has all the potential to be a giant potato skin. The unknowns of a team resting safely mid-table and under no pressure to stay alive or win are well documented.

Thankfully, we have Thomas Frank at the helm. A man who oozes confidence and common sense in equal measure. He’ll have his boys grounded and the possibility of an extra boost that may even see Bryan Mbeumo starting a game once more. Emiliano Marcondes is currently bursting with self-belief whilst David Raya and his back four have looked solid as a rock.

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David Raya – rock solid

As for West Brom, might Sheffield Wednesday be an even tougher challenge for them than Reading are for us? The Owls put a massive dent in Bristol City’s promotion aspirations yesterday and might even fancy themselves for a late surge towards the top six.

Poor Lee Johnson. His hopes of using the play-offs to kick lumps out of Said Benrahma now becoming nothing more than something he’ll need to use FIFA 20 to accomplish. All being well the beleaguered Bristol City boss will see the opportunity taken out of his hands by our own achieving of ‘automatic’.

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The full time score at Ashton Gate, c/o Quest TV.

Cripes. This is getting exciting. With Fulham on the slide and West Brom on the ropes, could we see things move even further in our favour? This week is full of ifs, buts and maybes. Focus has to be on our own game with anything else a bonus. The trip to the Madjeski is always a horrible one – so near yet so far, taking as long to reach the out of town car park from the station as it does to get to Reading from West London.

I’d still love to be given the opportunity to make the shlep down there but, sadly, social distancing laws mean it is a case of having to watch the EFL streaming service. Hands tied and voices gagged – metaphorically speaking – rather than screaming on the players in person.

Instead, it’ll be our TV that takes the abuse and the frustration. But enough about trying to make I-follow work.

Reading hashtag

Reading – have previously beaten us. In the game of embarrassing hashtags

The other result that may have gone unnoticed at the weekend and, perhaps, offers further hope was Luton Town staying alive with an incredible 1-0 win at Swansea City. Incredible, given the Hatters’ struggles with relegation and their hosts proximity to the top six. Yet as we discovered at Kenilworth Road, underestimate anybody at your peril. Our own 7(seven) – 0 win earlier in the season counted for nothing when we were outmuscled 2-1 in a horrible game just prior to Lockdown. 

Whilst nobody really expects Leeds Untied to drop points tomorrow, perhaps we may have half an eye on what plays out at Elland Road. Just in case. I mean, it’s not as though they have any reputation for falling apart at the critical moment……. 

Nick Bruzon

All rituals are reset. All clappers binned.

20 Jun

Here. We. Go. I shouldn’t be this excited about a ‘behind closed doors’ game but I am. And there are no apologies. Brentford travel to Fulham this lunchtime for the first Championship game since lockdown began. I-player passes have been issued, banner photos uploaded and we’ve had another chance to get used to the surreal sight of crowd free matches with two more fixtures last night. Norwich City v Southampton followed by Spurs – Man U. It is odd. It is so desperately lacking fans. But it IS a game of football. More than we’ve had in what feels like an eternity since the 5-0 humping of Sheffield Wednesday at Griffin Park in early March. 

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Sheffield Wednesday. 5-0. Griffin Park empty, save for the multi-coloured seats

At 12.30pm I’ll be at The Cottage, backing our boys and heckling Fulham. In spirit. In reality, this will be on the sofa. Jostling with Harry for the prime viewing seat. Mrs. Bruzon being wound up by our bickering as a 7(seven) year old – where the h*ck has that gone? – runs rings around yours truly. Beer in hand and mandatory goal sweets at the ready. Me, not H. One Starmix each time the ball hits the back of the net. All other snacks are able to be eaten with abandon but this is the only time the magic Haribo can be consumed.

It’s a silly tradition that has sprung up amongst our nearest and dearest at Griffin Park (and still beats taking a Victoria sponge to a game). The bag being passed around everyone from Angry Dad to Mr. Partridge and Ohh-nooo Brentford Panic man.

It’s this sort of silly ritual that no amount of TV viewing can replace. The fortnightly interaction with friends and those who have become part of our football family. People whose names we may not even know but whose faces are as familiar to us as those on the pitch. Where’s Jumper Man when you need him? Harry Potter? Billy (Grant)? Although I’m sure even in fan free football he’ll find a way to get his face in front of a TV camera today. The Lockdown inspired ‘Griffin Park Favourites’ Top Trumps pack was about as close as it got. 

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This was about as close as supporter interaction got

It does also make me wonder what lockdown has done to those other important factors that are responsible for Brentford’s performance? No amount of mid-week training can replace the all important power of a supporter wearing the lucky shirt and magic pants. The players can be as fit as they want but that’s nothing compared to not shaving on a winning run or meeting at the same time in the same pub for the same pre-match pint and lunch. Defeat is not rectified by bringing the players in on a Sunday but simply by drinking a Guinness in The Griffin.

All that is now out of the window. I can’t even remember what I was wearing when we were mainlining Haribo against Sheffield Wednesday. Everything is reset and we’re back off once more.

Fortunately, the Bees are in a good place and are as ready for it as possible. Thomas Frank’s press conference was full of his usual positivity. He described how the players showed unbelievable attitude, hard work and came back in a very good place. More importantly, that we are in a better place because we have all our injured players back. Everybody is fit and available for selection. Quite simply, we have the strongest line up available. Something. Something. Something. BMW.

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They’re ok I suppose

His press conference is up on YouTube now. The Zoom chats we became so familiar with in the Spring time being used again to good effect although, sadly, no camera in Greville’s house. I guess there’s only so much topless action or ‘mopping up – live’ one can be treated to. Cripes, lockdown entertainment was desperate. But we’ve got through those first three months and life is slowly starting to return to some kind of previous incarnation. Albeit in very small steps.

 

The other interesting point to come out of Thomas’ talk was his assertion that we’ll see more away wins in the championship than compared to normal. This, a phenomenon that is already playing out in the Bundesliga. Home advantage is no longer a thing with the edge gained from playing in front of your own supporters definitely missing. Here’s hoping that is proven today. Fulham’s missing foam fingers and silenced clappers could prove conspicuous by their absence.

I can’t wait for this one. It’s going to be weird. It’s not going to be the same as being there. But it will be a chance to see our beloved Brentifrd back in action. And if that comes with us stuffing Fulham then all the better.

Roll on 12.30pm. See you there. (kind of). As @TheChauffeur_ put it so succinctly on Twitter this morning…..

Nick Bruzon