Tag Archives: Sheffield Wednesday

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.

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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 

Live action, team news and transfer talk. Phil and Trevor’s Saturday afternoon takeaway had it all.

5 Apr

Saturday, 3pm. The most action packed afternoon in Brentford since we put five goals past Sheffield Wednesday. That, the last time there was any meaningful football related action in the vicinity of Griffin Park before the full Coronavirus lockdown began cranking up to the point we are now in. Sitting at home (or taking allowed exercise a safe distance from each other) and dreaming of the day that the beautiful game may return. Wondering how many we’d have won by at Fulham had that game not been called off hours before kick-off. Hoping we get a chance to play out the remainder of a campaign that has been one of the most thrilling on record. From Leeds United starting like a train, falling apart (again) before re-establishing themselves through to our own philosophy of goals, goals, goals that had taken us to the very fringe of the ‘automatic’ places. Then everything just stopped.

My word. Hasn’t life changed? Days merging into days. Social isolation very much the way of modern existence. Not even living, in the traditional sense, but more existing from one day to the next. That’s how it feels at times and is a small price to pay for not dying, I suppose. Let’s never forget those key workers battling on the metaphorical frontline or keeping those services we so often take for granted up and running. It’s not so much the staying indoors as the not knowing when it will all end. When life will return to normal. If, indeed, it ever can to the same extent as what we’ve enjoyed prior to all of this. 

That’s the gloom out of the way. Yesterday was fun. Yesterday had football. Yesterday had Brentford doing what we do best – interacting with supporters on a face-to-face basis. Rather than kicking off against Wigan (“I think we’d have won that, Dad” – HB’s considered verdict), 3pm saw the live webcast with Director of football Phil Giles facing off to 200+ Bees fans aswell as a couple of what we’ll politely call ‘randoms’ – think a humour level that would make Mrs. Brown’s Boys seem like Morecambe and Wise.

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Phil faces off to fans

 Hats off to Trevor Inns and the GPG for setting this up. Nobody seemed quite sure how it would work but after the opening few minutes had seen interlopers, barking dogs and racists ejected we were all well into the flow. Phil taking questions on anything and everything Brentford related from a video wall resembling a giant version of the Celebrity Squares game board. No limits being placed on what could be asked and no punches pulled in the answers being given.

There was talk of the relationship between Pontus and Rasmus that had seen the players make the decision to defer wages after our Captain had heard about what was happening at Leeds United. Likewise, how his move from Elland Road had been the easiest bit of transfer business we’d ever completed.

Phil telling us that his preference would unquestionably for the season to be played out, whenever that may be. Even though contract situations may then cause complications with, legally, any club surely having their hands tied in retaining players.

That the continuation of the season would ideally not be behind closed doors – the difference between playing that way and in front of supporters described in unequivocal detail. 

Phil explained how the players were staying fit and engaged. How Thomas was in constant contact with them. How some of the B team – youngsters away from their families – had returned home.

He talked about  his own role, about Matthew Benham, about finances and about the new stadium. There was hope for those wanting to see a return to Griffin Park as it was discussed how we were obliged , by league rules, to finish the campaign in the same stadium as we had started it. Albeit noting that Tottenham seem to have circumnavigated that regulation.

There was even team news with the confirmation that Pontus was definitely fit for Fulham, Phil understanding that he would have started that one.  

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of what was discussed. A close to two hour chat seeing everybody being give the chance to ask what they wanted. A session that as supporter Paul Reddick noted on Twitter afterwards, meant :  “I actually forgot about COVID-19 for a couple of hours so well done for that”.  Hear! Hear!

For me there was the additional aspect of a peek behind the curtains. A look into the front rooms (and back gardens) of those who switched on their webcams. Who was that making Malteser cakes? Dave Lane enjoying a quite delicious looking beer. It was all happening in Greville Waterman’s kitchen at one point whilst others just kicked back with a cup of tea waiting their chance to ask a question or simply take in all the information. And was Adam Hobbs really in the pub or was it a case of digital trickery as he phased in and out of existence in the foreground?

In all seriousness, it was just so nice to see those familiar faces once more. Many of whom we knew. Others, recognisable by sight from a Saturday afternoon. For this reason alone, it felt even more engaging. 

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If you are going to take part, why not make the most of it?

All being well the technology exists to play this back out. Certainly, there was a ‘recording’ light in the top corner. Otherwise, Billy Reeves kept his journalistic skills well honed, transcribing the chat to Twitter. You can pick up his thread here. Being honest, and I apologise now if I have misquoted Phil from memory, it’ll be more accurate than these fuzzy recollections.

It simply remains to say huge thanks to Phil, the club, Trevor and his team in bringing this to the fans. To making a Saturday afternoon feel as ‘normal’ as it possibly could in the circumstances. Of giving us all a chance to do what we do so well as a club – talking to fans. Of allowing the supporters an opportunity to come together.

Here’s to the next one where I understand a certain Mad Dog will be in attendance……..  

Nick Bruzon

Owls become pussycats as Bees run riot.

8 Mar

Now that’s how to return to winning ways. Brentford trashed Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 in a game that was every bit as one sided as the scoreline suggests. The Bees climb to fourth, tucked in behind a Fulham side who of course we visit on Friday evening. We’re now five points clear of seventh (effectively six given the quite incredible goal difference of +31) and ten off second placed West Bromwich Albion. With The Baggies next up at Griffin Park and nine games to go, destiny remains very much in our hands.

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Brentford attacked from the off

What an afternoon. It was one of those where another bracketing looked on the cards and could easily have played out. Brentford came out of the traps flying and peppered the Wednesday goal, including one effort from Watkins that flew off the crossbar. Josh Dasilva opened the scoring when a shot was only parried. It fell kindly to him tin the box and there was no mistake with his left foot. Emiliano Marcondes doubled things soon after with an absolute beauty from what must have been a good twenty-five yards. It was a thing of beauty and worth the admission price alone as it flew through the air and into the far corner of the net. Less than twenty minutes gone and two up.

Brentford continued to press and Bryan Mbeumo made it three. He worked an opening and hit a low shot through the box that curled off the base of the post. The Bees in total control. Sheffield so far off the pace that forget about Wednesday, they were still on Monday. It was domination that continued in the second period although the goals took a back seat until late strikes form DaSilva and Fosu gave the scoreline the margin our performance warranted. The Bees had been rampant. The Owls outclassed and outplayed. Wednesday boss Garry Monk would use phrases such as ‘inexcusable’, ‘embarrassed‘ and ‘lost for words’. Thomas Frank would call us ‘scarily good’.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. Never have done. If you want detail then official or the BBC are you best places. Or the highlights are below.

Goals, goals, goals….

Suffice to say though that this was about as completes a performance as they come. Thomas Frank would talk afterwards about our desire to defend. We were rock solid at the back despite the ongoing absence of Pontus Jansson. Anything that was hit on target, comfortably saved by David Raya.

Marcondes and Dasilva will get the goalscoring headlines but don’t rule out their overall contributions either. Emiliano was named man of the match whilst Josh had one of those games where the ball seemed tied to his foot with a piece of string. Said Benrahma did everything but score but must, instead, be content with a clutch of assists. 

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Taking deserved applause at full time

Next up is the televised game at Fulham on Friday night. With The Cottagers needing a late equaliser at Bristol City, the chance is there to really stick a late season mark on our rivals. Victory in Hammersmith would take us to within a point of third place. The satisfaction of doing them infinitely more preferable though. It won’t be easy. It never is. But it will be fun and I can’t wait. With another midweek break there’s more chance to recharge legs and do the same as we did yesterday.

There’s not much else to say, really.  Referee Keith Stroud had a great game, letting the football flow and keeping himself out of the limelight. It felt comfortable all afternoon and, honestly, never in doubt from the moment the game began.There will no doubt be tougher tests ahead but you can only play who you are up against. Beyond that, simply a case of keeping heads down until Friday night and then we see what happens down the road.

I can’t wait….

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Mr. Stroud was in good form – even giving a wave

Nick Bruzon   

Keep your hands and noses clean – look who’s in charge….

7 Mar

The promotion push continues. With just ten games to go in the Championship campaign, fifth placed Brentford are all set to host Sheffield Wednesday at Griffin Park this afternoon. Whilst the eleven point gap to ‘automatic’ may be starting to look significant, we’ve already reeled in Leeds United once this season. Any hope of doing the same needs to begin today although primary focus needs to be on strengthening our current top six placing. To that end, we were given a small boost last night as Nottingham Forest were obliterated at home by Millwall. Still, the good news is that our man in the middle is Keith Stroud.

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Keith Stroud – NO card.

The big on-pitch question today is whether Pontus Jansson may be ready to make a long-overdue return. We spoke last time out about his importance and his presence but the BBC match preview really highlights this from a statistical perspective. Brentford have won just twice since his last appearance, that against QPR in early January. Indeed, we’ve only tasted victory in two of the eleven games he’s missed all season compared to fourteen out of twenty-five when he has appeared.

One does need to counter this with the fact that this recent ‘run’ has only seen us defeated twice in the league – Nottingham Forest and Luton (a). It has been a period of eminently loseable fixtures such as Cardiff City and Birmingham away ; Leeds United and Middlesbrough at home. Yet we’ve still survived those unscathed and it could be argued the had we hung on to the 1-0 lead against the Elland Road outfit, Brentford may well be looking down on more than just the 19 teams currently below us.

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View from the Braemar – I’d love to see Pontus back

That’s football. No point dwelling on ifs, buts and maybes. Instead, time to focus on Sheffield Wednesday. Of course I’d love Pontus in the team but we should still have enough in the starting XI to give anybody a run. Leading the charge will be Ollie Watkins who was, of course, named EFL Player of the Year at the London Football awards this week. Alongside him fellow nominees Said Benrahma and Bryan Mbeumo. With Thomas Frank beating the likes Roy Hodgson and Frank Lampard for the managerial honour, one has to think that morale will be high in the camp.

For the visitors, they are currently the quintessential example of a mid-table side. On paper. Sitting 12th, Wednesday are 10 points off relegation and 8 off the play-offs. A late charge for the play-offs would seem even more optimistic than our own efforts to hit the top two slots. Aside from their own recent form, which has only seen 1 victory and 4 defeats in the last 8 league games, the sheer weight of numbers above them makes that more improbable. Millwall being the latest teams to knock on the door following their own 3-0 heroics at Nottingham Forest last night. Added to this are injuries suffered by The Owls in the FA Cup defeat by Manchester City midweek. Kieran Lee is  almost certainly out whilst defender Julian Borner went off at half-time. It’s just a shame that stamina levels weren’t tested further by a period of extra time and penalties. 

That’s not to say that today is going to be easier than recent challenges. It’s anything but. Yet at the same time I’ve got the feeling in my heart that we will win this. Whether Pontus plays or not. But for the referee we could have come away from Cardiff City with a lot more last weekend as Brentford kept going until the very end.

So let’s all breath a sigh of relief that Keith Stroud is in charge today. Could today see his traditional flourish of a red card? Will there be random decision making? Or might we have the more level-headed Keith of recent outings? Whatever happens, he can’t do a more frustrating job than Simon Hooper. 

Do get there early for his always entertaining warm up routine, too. Very much a modern day Burridge (John, of Crystal Palace goalkeeping fame, rather than Mark, of commentary and greyhounds).

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Keith Stroud – has form

The other point of note about today is the additional health and safety precautions in place given the current concerns around Covid-19. You can read the full statement on the club website although the main impact for supporters will be a cessation of our usual close contact with the players whilst the traditional prematch hand shake will stop for now. The full gamut of measures and what to expect are noted here although I’d also note that we should probably be glad football is even going ahead. In Italy, all sporting fixtures are now being played behind closed doors whilst the top flights clubs have already started to mention they expect similar may follow.

For now, keep those hands clean and let’s see what happens down the line. Until then, heres to Sheffield. Let’s do this.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon 

Will it be Wednesday on Wednesday? What about Pontus on Saturday?

4 Mar

Could Pontus Jansson be back in Brentford colours for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday? That was the question on everybody’s lips last night following an instagram post from the player which suggested a return was imminent. So much for that nonsense you may have read on more ‘loyal’ sites. With the Owls in FA Cup action at home to Manchester City this evening, the result there could have as much bearing on our promotion push as any return of our talismanic captain.

So, Pontus. The desperation to play was clear to all in a post which read : “It has been the absolute worst months for long time to not be able to be out on the pitch and play games. I am soon there where I want to be and I promise that I have given and will give everything to be back as soon as possible” . This, followed by a string of emojis and tagging in the club.

 

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A personal message and a string of emojis

What a boost. How timely. Could he feature against Sheffield Wednesday? Just knowing a return is close will be huge for the player, the squad and the fans. His experience has been sorely missed as games we may have won previously have ‘only’ seen us pick up a point. 

use the word ‘only’ in the loosest sense. Let’s not forget that Brentford are fifth in the Championship with only ten games to go. We’ve amazing goal difference and are still banging them in for fun (we’ll pretend Luton Town never happened). No team at this, or even higher, level could honestly say they were stronger with Pontus missing from the team. Strong? Yes. But stronger….. ? Hmm. His wealth of experience and fighting spirit are worth their metaphorical weight in gold. His influence on the pitch and inspiration off it clear for all to see.

Not just in the centre back position, I hasten to add, where the replacements have still performed admirably as the Bees have stayed in contention. It is more in that ‘money can’t buy’ yet presence and charisma that only a Captain can bring. He is a true leader and the sooner we have him back the better the entire team will be. Whilst perhaps Saturday may be optimistic, it does seem the end is in sight. Here’s hoping it comes soon.

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Could Pontus be back soon?

Who we line up against remains to be seen, of course. There’s a huge FA Cup match this evening between Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City. The cup fan want a win for the Owls – who doesn’t love an upset – even if it does mean further exposure for ‘that band’ . The Brentford fan in me wants a win for the Owls, but one which goes to energy sapping extra time, possibly penalties and perhaps even a contagious red card or two. Anything that can feasibly make the trip to Griffin Park that little bit more of an exertion.

With Wednesday eight points off the play-off zone, perhaps a win tonight may also focus their attention in the direction of Wembley rather than promotion. Any questionable decision to rest injury risks / tired legs made that little bit easier. Hey, I’m allowed to be optimistic.

In all seriousness, I’d absolutely love the Owls to stuff City tonight. There’s no finer sight than a giant being slayed. My love for the FA Cup has been well documented and here’s hoping another chapter in this love story can be written on Wednesday, by Wednesday. Anything else is a bonus.

Bliss Manchester City

Can the Owls emulate the Bees ?

Nick Bruzon   

No jacket required. Although three points would have been nice.

1 Mar

Another point on the board. A 2-2 draw for Brentford at Cardiff City in a game we may well have won after racing into an early lead courtesy of Luka Racic and Bryan Mbeumo. Instead, things ended level on a day that saw both Leeds United and Fulham recording victories which, realistically, mean hopes of automatic are diminishing quicker than the laughter at a studio recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. No matter, with only ten games to go we remain fifth. The Bees firmly in play-off contention and perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. There is no additional expectation now as top six remains the target. Anything else is a bonus outside of our control.

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Benrahma takes the game to Cardiff

What can you say? Positives included the return of Christian Norgaard after going off at Luton. A confident performance from Luka Racic at centre back which included a goal after just five minutes. A corner broke and he fired it straight back past Cardiff ‘keeper Alex Smithies. Said Benrhama was passing through the eye of a needle whilst Brentford kept going for the win all game long. Bryan Mbeumo scored an exquisite free kick to double the lead as he fired one over the wall and in with little more than twenty minutes on the clock.

With the fire drill sounding, this one was done and dusted. Wasn’t it? Alas not. Junior Hoilett grabbing the first with his head, following a long throw, where he looked suspiciously offside. At least to those of us behind the goal. Then bang on half time it was the turn of Joe Ralls with an almost carbon copy finish. Urghhh. Frustration rather than anger was the order of the day. The Bees had been playing well with Said Benrahma forcing a fine save from Smithies in between. 

Meanwhile, Will Vaulks had drawn the wrath of the normally mild-mannered Thomas Frank following one obscene challenge on Norgaard. Referee Simon Hooper and his assistants failing to produce the red card required in such a situation. But this summed up Hooper – for both sides. He had an absolute stinker from start to finish. That’s not meant as bitterness – he was as poor towards the home side as he was the visitors. Both sets of supporters ending the day feeling hard done by and, being honest, Cardiff City probably more as they cranked up the pressure in the second period.

Yet we had our own moments too and certainly Brentford never gave up. Josh Dasilva coming closest as he fired one wide with his right foot when space had opened up. Either side could have taken it. Brentford probably should after that early brace. But football is a 90 minute game as we know and so we have to be content with a point. We have to be content with remaining firmly in play-off contention and passing a back-handed compliment to Fulham, whose own victory over Preston meant we weren’t overtaken. Bristol City sit three points off us in seventh although superior goal difference means that is effectively four. 

All being well the enigma that is the Pontus Jansson injury will be resolved by the time Sheffield Wednesday visit Griffin Park on Saturday. Bright this Racic and Jeanvier have been, it is no coincidence that our recent run has coincided with his absence . The calming influence, experience and confidence of our inspirational captain something that would seem to be missing at present. This is the moment our young, young team would really benefit from the presence of this (relatively) elder statesman. Here’s hoping his return is imminent.

The other big question of the day came buried away in the Cardiff match day programme. Specifically the ‘Famous Fans’ segment. Natalie Sawyer is a given as is Richard Archer from Hard-Fi / newly formed pop combo ‘Offworld’ (do check them on Spotify et al). Yet there was no Rhino from the Quo. The Bluetones’ Adam Devlin was conspicuous by his absence. Likewise comedian Nathan Caton, Cameron Diaz, Rick Wakeman or Dean Gaffney (Wellard from Eastenders). I’d even have accepted Bradley Walsh. But no. Instead we got Phil Collins. Phil. Collins.

How? Why? I know he grew up locally but seriously, has anyone ever seen hm at Griffin Park? Go figure.

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Never seen him at Griffin Park

There’s not much else to say at the moment. Anticipated travel chaos failed to materialise on the way up. The return journey one hit by train delays but even that allowed the bonus of an extended post match discussion in the pub prior to departure.  Such are the things that make up an away day. You never know what will happen on or off the pitch. The random nature of such trips one where the 90 minutes in the middle are so often the thing that gets in the way. The eye of the storm in a chance to catch up with different friends in a different city. The journey up one full of anticipation and expectation. The potential to eat and drink somewhere different always welcome. The one day in the week when health related good intentions can quite legitimately be thrown out of the window and the already meagre cash reserves are drained with abandon. The notes in the wallet taking on the nature of Monopoly money. 

And now it’s heads down for a week. The bank card buried deep in the back of the sock draw in a half-arsed attempt to avoid temptation. A week in the office (urghh) the only thing standing in the way of Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday when it all starts again. All being well, Thomas may tell us more about the injury situation during the week. Some positive news on that front will be very well received.

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Emiliano and Said were unable to fashion a winning goal

Nick Bruzon

As the fixture list kicks in, there’s a wonderful opportunity to be grabbed.

26 Dec

Thank goodness for football today. However you celebrated yesterday, the pressure is now off. Gifts have been bought, meals cooked and kitchen cleaned. Kind of. Still, that’s a problem for later. This afternoon we’ve got one of several opportunities to catch Brentford in TV action over the coming weeks as we play host to Swansea City in the live Sky game. A wonderful opportunity for supporters displaced by the festive period, I suppose, but no substitute for actually being at Griffin Park. The game sees our Bees sitting in the play-off zone and the Swans just outside by virtue of goal difference. Both teams knowing that a mere two points separate them from third placed Sheffield Wednesday. With Brentford flying, the mood is one of excitement. We annihilated Fulham last time out at home and can probably feel justified in thinking we may have come away from West Bromwich Albion with more. It promises to be a Christmas cracker (urghh, went there). But can we land a knockout blow on Boxing Day? (sorry).

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Full time celebrations last time out at home

The performance at West Bromwich Albion sounded immense. Talking to one fan in The Griffin yesterday lunchtime, he told me that if anything the highlights underplayed how dominant we were in that opening period. Of course, the score is what counts and both teams managed a goal apiece. However, things might have been very interesting had we gone in leading and a penalty been awarded for the wonderful diving save pulled off by defender Kyle Bartley immediately after we’d taken the lead. Instead, the officials waved play on rather than handball and the hosts did what they do – ruthless counter and subsequent equaliser. Credit to them – you can only play what the officials give. 

The Baggies are looking so, so strong and sit where they are on merit. Top of the table. Yet so do Brentford, just a few places below them. Whilst those around us have started to wobble – Swansea City being the prime example, only just recently pulling themselves out of a dreadful slump after starting at 100mph –  we’ve only got stronger. No better is this illustrated than at centre back. Despite the absence of both Julian Jeanvier and Pontus Jansson at various points recently, the addition of Ethan Pinnock to that holy trinity of defensive solidity has meant that whichever pairing Thomas Frank has started with have looked as comfortable as it comes.

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Could Pontus be back today?

The midfield trio have done the unthinkable of both replacing Romaine Sawyers and ousting Kamo to the bench. Faith in the system, the manager and his players now being well rewarded as Nørgaard, Jensen and Dasilva  pull the strings. Locking out the opposition and feeding Mbeumo and Benrahma . Those two ably supported down the flanks by flying full backs Rico and Henrik, with Ollie leading his chase for the golden boot up top. Yet it is in goal where we have perhaps our most unsung of all the current 11 heroes. The arrival of David Raya has seen the decision to sell Daniel Bentley to Bristol City more than justified. 

I was a huge fan of Bentley’s, and it’s good to see him doing well at Ashton Gate, but for Brentford things have stepped up a level. David is big, strong, quick off his line and has great distribution. He exudes confidence and there’s no fear of those random moments, flappy fingers or miscommunications with the back four that we’ve all seen so many times in the past. Our Championship goals against figure is only bettered by Leeds United (we’re 18 to their 15) and whilst this stats has been quoted on these pages before, it bears repeating. Everything starts from the back. Keep the goals out and that’s half the job done. Especially when you have the attacking options that Thomas then has available to him in his starting XI.

That’s the back slapping stuff. Now, we‘ve got another match to focus on. Yes, we have the ability to do it but congestion at the top of the table really means you need to keep winning to keep your place. Slip up on the pitch and you’ll fall down off it. Blink and you miss. I love this division so much. Anybody can beat anybody. This is not the case of  the Premier League where the wining team is usually telegraphed well in advance. Here, we’ve got to go for it and keep on going. The relentless holiday period sees trips to Bristol City and Millwall before the visit from QPR in early January. That’s before you even look at the FA Cup options.

Like today’s game with Swansea, you’ll be able to follow most of those on Sky. Certainly the Bristol game (red button) and QPR ( full fat coverage at lunchtime) but why would you? Given the choice, I mean.

Money, travel and time are the obvious factors against but if you’ve got any ability to go then let’s make it happen. These are all games that are going to be absolutely critical to our season. A glut of matches where the 12 points on offer over the next 17 (I think) days could have real bearing on our promotion campaign. Somebody has to slip up at some point. The big question being if Brentford can take advantage.

Roll on 3pm when we find out. See you there.

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Here’s to more of this today….

Nick Bruzon

Crisis club in tailspin? Are fans revolting?

8 Dec

Sheffield Wednesday 2 Brentford 1. 

Sack the board. Spend £100million. Benham out. Frank out. It’s disaster. Nooooo. You don’t want to go up etc etc.

That’s one response to yesterday’s game I suppose. Some people may feel that way. Not me.

Personally speaking, I’m of the ‘everybody just calm down’ school of thought this morning. We lost a game. Away. To a team who are at the business end of the table for good reason. We might have won. Perhaps we should have drawn. But that’s not how football works. They scored twice. We scored once. We were missing two World Cup players. Arguably the most experienced members of our squad. We’ve still got one of the youngest and most exciting teams in the division. We’re ninth in the Championship. We’re three points off Nottingham Forest in fifth place. We move into Lionel Road in little over eight months time. We’ve back to back home games approaching – Cardiff City and then Fulham on Saturday. 

Football life is good. Very good. Enjoy the moment. Ride the wave. I’d love to have won it yesterday but it’s not the end of the world. Anything but. Come back to me in May if you think there is any form of crisis. There isn’t, for the record.

Besides, from my perspective there’s another reason for yesterday’s defeat. Pick up Wednesday’s programme to find out why. Or just look at Twitter.

See you then.

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Nothing more than a temporary glitch

Nick Bruzon

 

 

 

 

Victory would be huge but can we do it?

7 Dec

Here’s the good news. Win today and Brentford will go into the top six, regardless of other results. Victory at Sheffield Wednesday means we would overtake fourth-placed Nottingham Forest, who sit just three points ahead of the Bees following their own draw at Millwall last night, regardless of other results. Here’s the bad news. We’re at Sheffield Wednesday. Hillsborough has been somewhat of a bogey ground for us in recent seasons, losing four out of the last five played  from of our recent visits. The sole victory coming in 2017, courtesy of goals from John Egan and Harlee Dean. Yet with confidence high following the annihilation of Luton Town last week, we have to go into this one with our tails up.

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Brentford celebrated 7 (seven) times on Saturday

Besides, past form counts for nothing. So we may have found this fixture a tricky one historically but this team is now one that is on fire. They have the taste for goals, even prior to last weekend’s 7(seven) goal bracketing of Luton, whilst recent away games have seen us banish the alleged jinx of the chocolate and orange back to the rumour mill from which it emanated last season. 3-0 at Wigan. 3-0 at Swansea. 3-1 at QPR. I forget what happened at Blackburn the other night but we have, mostly, being picking up the points in emphatic style. Could there be more of the same to come today?

Well, the BBC stat page (for once not focussing on the number of non-English players we’ve used – thanks for that helpful insight) give us the good news that regular thorn in our side Fernando Forestieri will be missing . This is a bonus for Brentford and just one of several absences for the hosts. Wednesday’s last three home games have all ended as draws and whilst a point may be sufficient to take us in to that hallowed top six, you can bet Thomas Frank will have the scent of blood in his nostrils.

Last Saturday against Luton Town was about as complete a performance as we’ve had the privilege of watching. It was immense from start to finish. The Hatters may, in part, have been the architects of their own demise but you can only play who you are up against. Josh Dasilva’s hat-trick included that blockbuster from outside the box and the tightest of finishes on the angle. The ball from Said Benrahma to sit that up was about as filthy as they come. Yet for me, Clive, Mathias Jensen had the goal of the game. A cool head and clever positioning allowed him to stroke the ball straight through a defender’s legs with slide rule precision for our third. You’ve seen it. You know. Laser guided brilliance.

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Mathias and Josh celebrate

That was then. This is now. We know the chance that awaits us if we can do this . Brentford have had similar opportunities in the last two games. Then, though, victory also required other results to go our way in order to hit the top six. Against Blackburn we got the ‘other results’ but not much else. When Luton came to Griffin Park it was the opposite. Now, thanks to Millwall (not often one can say that) holding Forest last night, destiny is in our hands. The stage is set. Will Thomas Frank’s boys fluff their lines or are we going to give them a standing ovation?

The heart says that we’re flying and more of the same will come. The head says that this is going to be a tough afternoon. Don’t forget that Wednesday are only a single point behind us in the table. Their incentive to get back into the mix will be just as great as ours. If not more, given as they’ll be playing in front of their own fans in their former home. Owner Dejphon Chansiri holding the keys to Hillsborough these days after buying it from the club for £60million. Misconduct? Sounds fine to me. Good luck with that counter claim against the EFL. 

Perhaps all that nonsense is just what we need. An unnecessary distraction for the visitors at a time that the Bees need everything going for them if we are to really turn the screw on our divisional rivals. Not being funny, I’d be happy to come out of this with a point and no injuries ahead of the midweek visit from Cardiff. You can bet your bottom dollar that the team will be thinking otherwise. Win or bust will, I am sure, be the mentality.

I can’t wait for this one. Bring it on ! 

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The BBC show the state of play , as it stands..

Nick Bruzon