Tag Archives: Stamford Bridge

As Bees prepare for Wolves, who won Twitter last night?

14 Mar

Here we go again. Brentford continue one of our more unlikely rivalries of recent seasons as we prepare to entertain Wolverhampton Wanderers. Nobody needs any reminder of the epic League One campaign that saw us go neck and neck with Wolves and celebrate like we’d won the FA Cup as promotion to the Championship was confirmed three seasons ago (although if you would like to read more….. here’s the place) . And which former Manchester United player won Twitter last night ahead of the FA Cup clash with Chelsea?

Wolves Bees

Who will win the battle of Wolves v Bees ?

However, we can only start with tonight’s game at Griffin Park. It is an encounter which sees Brentford looking for the win that will take us back into the top half of the table whilst,for the visitors, things are somewhat more fraught. Only one point separates Wolves from the relegation spots currently filled by Rotherham (R), Wigan and Bristol City. Albeit they have slightly less bad goal difference and two games in hand.

But points in the bag are better than games in hand as one terrace wag is so fond of saying and failure to capitalise tonight will put Wolves right in the mire. Could Keith Stroud direct them back towards League One? Was Saturday’s 1-0 defeat of divisional whipping boys Rotherham (a win which ended a run of one draw and five straight defeats from the previous six games)  the sign of better things to come?

If Wolves picked up on Saturday, the opposite could be said for Brentford. Purely in terms of goal scoring where we failed to find the net in the league since the 0-0 draw with Norwich City on December 31 last year. Then again, we were facing a Huddersfield Town team with their sights on ‘automatic’ . This, after our own recent impressive form that had seen wins at Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest as well as the obligatory three points from Rotherham.

IMG_6343

View from the Braemar – three points and a lurid kit for Huddersfield on Saturday

But with exhaustion kicking in and Dean Smith promising changes, who starts tonight? Could Tom Field, Konstantin Kerschbaumer and Sergi Canos all make it off the bench? Rico Henry has been impressive since his return from that long injury but I thought he started to flag on Saturday whilst Nico’s injury niggles have been well documented. As for Sergi, having been rested for the Huddersfield game then a straight switch between him and Florian Jozefzoon is a substitution by numbers.

Here’s hoping for a big crowd tonight. Griffin Park under the floodlights is always a special place and it would be wonderful to see the Bees get back to winning ways. With 30 points still to play for the season is anything but dead as we look to follow up on our previous Championship finishes of 5th and 9th.

Not bad for a ‘tin pot’ team who many tipped for immediate relation from this higher division  but with the gap to 9th place currently 7(seven) points, a win tonight will be a huge step towards achieving that goal.

In other news, last night saw Chelsea reach the semi finals of the FA Cup after their 1-0 win over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. Whilst his team may have lost, former Red Devil Mikael Silvestre won Twitter with this riposte to perennial name dropper, Ian Moose from Talk Sport.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 05.38.49

Silvestre 1 Moose 0

There’s not much more to say, really. See you tonight.

Nick Bruzon

Advertisements

Noooo! Fulham have only gone and done it.

17 Feb

Brentford have a day off on Saturday. FA Cup capitulation at the hands of Chelsea (a game where we put in a performance that was very much the Murray Jones to their Dean Holdsworth) sees us now kicking our heels. Just a few miles up the road, however, near neighbours Fulham are in cup action. They entertain Tottenham on Sunday.

It is a game which made me sit up and take notice yesterday, but for a very wrong reason. At a time when Donald Trump is beating all comers hands down in the apparently deranged stakes  (his explanation of what uranium is has me intrigued, yet genuinely terrified, about what his next bit of amateur science might be), he seems to have a rival. The Fulham club shop.

Bear in mind this is the club that has already brought you ‘The Neutral stand’ and ‘The Gin bar’. A club who introduce ‘clackers’  and ‘giant foam fingers’ to try and help the home fans generate some atmosphere. Then, of course, there was that business with the Michael Jackson statue. Yet even by their previously odd standards, they have now gone ‘full Trump’.

What is the most scorned thing about modern football? Tourists on a day trip to Chelsea or Old Trafford? Grown men in full kit on a match day ? ‘Hilarious’ shirt names (I 8 Spurs etc  I don’t, for the record)? Selfie-sticks?

All are bad and yet one thing still transcends them all. The half and half scarf. There is no logical reason as to how this has sprung up or why any football fan of sound mind would buy one. Who wants memorabilia celebrating another team? Who wants to wear the opposition colours? Let alone in this most happy-clappy of styles? Over priced and cheaply produced tat. Something so offensive that no self-respecting club has even embraced previously. Up until now these abhorrent items have only been available from the street hawkers.

Up until now being the key phrase. Because, of course, Fulham have stepped forward. With this. Officially. In their official club shop.

screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-05-49-57

I may be late to this party but I don’t care. Irony goes full circle as Fulham break the fourth wall. Get your official half and half scarf. This has to be a joke? Surely? Would any self-resecting club really do this ?

Part of me hopes that Matt Jeffrey is just a fake twitter ID, playing a very long game in order to spoof the hapless Cottagers. Yet with over 1500 tweets already, and seemingly all the right credentials, he looks legitimate. And he is encouraging his Fulham fans to wear a Spurs scarf. Or, at least, half of one.

You know what, I hope they win. Genuinely. For no other reason than one can’t even begin to imagine what their marketing team will dream up for the quarter finals.

Half and half shirts, here we come….

Nick Bruzon

Could Aston Villa kerplunk Brentford AND West Ham? Deadline day & match day are here.

31 Jan

What is your focus today ? Brentford v Aston Villa in the battle for three points or Brentford v West Ham in the battle for Scott Hogan’s transfer fee. Yes, it’s match day AND transfer deadline day in a bizarre crossing of the streams that can only end badly for everybody. Moreso, with yesterday’s rumour of the day being an apparent bid for Hogan from none other than Villa themselves.

crossing-the-streams

Don’t cross the streams…

That’s not happening, fact. And when I say fact, I mean more opinion. I’ve no inside knowledge but let’s look at the situation a little bit. The Villans are locked firmly in middle table, a mere three points above our own Bees. Despite a brief resurgence when Steve Bruce took over the reins early in the season, they’ve hardly set the world alight. 12 draws (usually 1-1) from their 27 games sees them hard to beat but hardly the sort of team that will have anybody rushing out to watch them. The football I’ve seen has been of a turgid, industrial nature as the draw specialists (they’ve had the most ‘single point’ games in the division), grind their way through the Championship.

Given Scott’s avowed intent to be playing Premier League football, any move to Aston Villa would be a bizarre one. A return to that top flight is a long way off and certainly won’t happen this campaign. The very soonest they’ll be scrapping to avoid relegation to the Championship would be August 2018. Is he really going to wait that long when, along with West Ham, Crystal Palace and Watford are amongst those reportedly touting for his signature.

I believe those two as much as I believe the Aston Villa rumour but, if there’s even a chance of playing in the top flight why would he tie himself to the Championship? Villa have a wonderful history and a magnificent stadium – nobody can deny that. But they aren’t a Premier League team. Not any more.

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-06-09-14

Aston Villa hardly threatening the top flight at present

This smells of Tarkowski all over again. The day we were due to play Burnley, with the club looking to sign him up, he refused to play. I’m not suggesting for one second that Scott will attempt to pull the same stunt (assuming West Ham haven’t stumped up the requisite cash by that point) but is this enough just to put our danger man off his game? Is this enough just to keep him out of the squad as ‘negotiations’ take place? Is this enough to make an agent pick up the phone and comment how the hamstring looked a little stretched at Stamford Bridge on Saturday?

In my opinion, and that’s all it is, discount all the other nonsense. It’ll be West Ham or nowhere . I still hope it is nowhere, just so as we can demonstrate we are no longer the sort of club to be bullied in transfer negotiations. Scott will go at some point but let it be on our terms and moreso as, unless the master of surprise Matthew Benham has more than few hidden cards up his sleeve, there can’t surely be any time to bring in new blood.

Instead, this is just another game where preparation is disrupted by outside influence. I still can’t get my head around the craziness of the transfer window. Let alone holding a programme of Premier League and Championship fixtures as it ‘slams’ shut(TM).

Whilst most people will be looking to see Harry Redknapp eating out of a car window – surely something that he still has an obligation to perform, despite not managing a club since he bailed on doomed QPR two years ago because of a knee problem – in TW8 we’ll be left wondering who will even start tonight and who will be in the squad this time tomorrow.

Focus should be on the game. It should be on picking ourselves up and putting in a performance to prove the naysayers wrong after Chelsea.And it wasn’t just me on that front. For a very considered read then Billy Grant’s latest Beesotted column on the subject is well worth a look.

Dean has a lot to prove tonight and he has a lot to do to restore some confidence and cheer to the Brentford fans. He can do it, no question. He has the players to do it. But it would be a lot easier if we didn’t have any transfer related distractions hanging around.

See you at Griffin Park where, given my prediction skills, Scott will likely be on the opposition bench.

Harry REdknapp car

Will this be all that happens today?

 

Nick Bruzon

With Chelsea done and Aston Villa next up, could West Ham continue to disrupt Brentford boss?

30 Jan

I’d like to say “And relax” at this point but I can’t. We can’t. I’m still just so frustrated about the no show at Chelsea on Saturday as, it would seem, are an awful lot of Brentford fans given the response to yesterday’s column on Dean’s team selection and set up at Stamford Bridge. Yet straight off that we’ve Tuesday night’s televised home game with Aston Villa. If that wasn’t a tough enough challenge already, we’re waking up to the news that West Ham have finally sold Dimitri Payet to Marseille.

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-06-58-58

The news is official. Does this mean Scott is next?

I really feel for Dean Smith on this one. Having a full programme of fixtures at the same time as the transfer window slams shut (TM) is just ludicrous. How on earth does a manger / head coach (whatever) prepare for a game at the same time as those final thrusts of frenetic bargaining are due to reach their denouement?

Will West Ham finally budge over Scott Hogan? Will Brentford have to compromise on the valuation that we have long held out for? If no sale has gone through today will he even be in contention to line up against Aston Villa? Just how on earth can these last minute negotiations which have become so much an unwelcome part of our game take place when the exact same subjects of such haggling are supposed to be plying the very trade for which they are now sought?

Presumably if not sold then he’s a Brentford player for the rest of the season and goes straight back into the team – the club then able to conduct the inevitable sale at their leisure over the summer.

Scott will go. I won’t be crying if it doesn’t happen this time around. And if only for the two figures it will stick up to those agents who have been doing their best to disrupt his, and our, preparations over the last few weeks.

None of this glosses over the Chelsea selection. Try the same against Aston Villa and we’re doomed. Dean HAS got the players that can win big games. He’s done it himself, too. Just look at Brighton away, the home humping of Reading or even the psychological triumph of the trip to Loftus Road. Yet for all of those is a Wigan (H&A), Rotherham, Fulham or Barnsley (all home).

andy-scott-on-qpr

The QPR game just one of those when Dean’s Bees rose to the occasion

This is not me being ungrateful. I’ve said many times that the simple fact Brentford are approaching a fourth season in the Championship is cause for huge celebration in itself. But it is perplexing how the team have played so inconsistently this season. It is confusing as to why the formation change seems, at times, more and more about crowbarring in the centre backs and favoured midfielders than playing to our strengths.

I’ve not seen a team put in such a no-show as they did on Saturday in a long, long time. And let’s just discount who we were playing or where. If the FA Cup has shown us one thing this weekend, it is that a well organised and positive outfit can perform heroics against supposedly superior opposition. Sutton United, Lincoln City, Wolves and a desperately unfortunate Wycombe Wanderers are all proof of that.

Dean , if you are reading (you aren’t) Saturday was desperately disappointing. Moreso the subsequent press conference where there didn’t seem to be any perception of just how badly he’d got it wrong, this time around. Most of us expected to lose but at least to go down fighting or to even just give it a go from the off. I’d rather have lost 7(seven) – 0 and tried for 90 minutes than lose by four yet only turn up for the start of the second half. I take no pleasure from writing what I did yesterday. But sometimes things need to be said.

We’ve already been through the cold fish approach of Marinus – a man whose touchline routine appeared to be modelled on a game of musical statues. Let’s not go there again . We aren’t worldbeaters but at least it would be good to see Dean cares – something I have no doubt on. At least it would be good to see Dean get vaguely animated or just to follow up on his pre-match words.

Aston Villa aren’t going to be easy by any strength of the imagination. Specialists in the 1-1 draw (6-1 with 888sport, for the record), setting up as we did against Chelsea is a recipe for a 0-X scoreline. Reinstalling some width and remembering that the trick to scoring goals is to go forward then things could well be different – regardless of whether Scott Hogan is leading the line or trying on a West Ham shirt.

Chelsea is over. To coin that most awful of phrases, ‘We go again’. Let’s just hope it is in a different direction.

On Tuesday night, we find out.

villa-park-wideangle

An early season trip to Villa Park saw another solid performance from the Bees

Nick Bruzon

No fight, No clue, No nothing. Worst. Display. Ever (and that’s just Dean) as Bees go down at Chelsea.

29 Jan

Chelsea 4 Brentford 0 . Well played Chelsea. You can only beat what is put up in front of you and what comes next is by no means meant as either criticism, or over exuberant praise, of our hosts on Saturday. But that was atrocious.

An FA Cup scoreline most outsiders would have expected before kick off yet one which, with the players at Dean Smith’s disposal could have been so much closer. More to the point, with the players at Dean Smith’s disposal it should have been one which involved some passion and fight. Instead, he rolled over and had his belly tickled.

screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-08-25-03

Stat of the day going into this one..

The BBC match report has the highlights as does Match of the Day on the I-player, approximately an hour and nine minutes in. If you must do it to yourself, I’d suggest going with the latter option purely for Gaby Logan’s sub-Partridge introduction to the game “Two years ago Chelsea lost out to League One Bradford City in the Fourth round. Today’s opponents also started with ‘B R’ and ended in ‘Ford’ but could Brentford give the Premier League leaders another FA Cup thumping?

The answer was a categoric “No”.

It is said that games can hinge on a single moment. This one was the exact moment Dean Smith set up his team. Chelsea were never going to be at full strength with matches against Liverpool and Arsenal in the coming week. Even I could see that and my managerial experience has been limited to two games at the helm of the Brentford legends.(P2 W2 D0 L0. Just saying).

The only chance of getting anything out of this was to go for it from the off, get in their faces and then grind it out later on if needs be when Chelsea brought their big guns on.

Instead, we stuck to the five defenders and four midfielders in  a system totally devoid of any attacking intent. Tom Field was demoted to the bench. Jota and Josh Clarke sat along side him, with Scott Hogan helping make up the numbers. Wing backs without wings. I’ve seen more flare and width on a kipper tie. Brentford invited Chelsea to come at them and it was a tactical decision that was doomed to fail.

We will be going all-out to win the game” promised Dean on Thursday. His team and their tactics – a Marinus era display of sitting deep then passing it sideways and backwards rather than forwards – gave the impression that we would be going all out to sneak a turgid draw.

img_5307

Was this Dean’s game plan, left on the Stamford Bridge steps?

It was total exhibition stuff from Chelsea. Rather than Diego Costa, I was half expecting Antonio Conte to bring on the Harlem Globetrotters in the second half .

The opening forty-five was so abject from Brentford that the biggest cheer from the visiting fans came at half time with the news that Paul Hayes had put Wycombe 2-0 up at Spurs. Along with the likes of Aaron Pierre, Myles Weston and Sam Wood (Marcus Bean and Sam Saunders having to be content with a place on the bench) The Swans giving a perfect lesson in how to take on a below strength team at the business end of the Premier League in their own back yard.

I heard supporters berating Romaine Sawyers and Josh McEachran – claiming the latter had been more interested in his recent ‘golf photos’. Neither had great games, granted, but they were as much a product of the tactical decisions going on around them.

Tom Field was dropped. Why, Dean? Why? Even if he was as tired as you made out, at least start him for an hour then bring on Barbet for the defensive role once we are ahead. Given the line he’d spouted two weeks earlier about trusting his players in regards to ‘not picking’ Scott Hogan (because of course, that was your decision and not at all influenced) then why his sudden reversal? Tom had absolutely nailed that position in the last few months and this was as big a slap in the face as a manager/head coach (whatever) could deliver.

There was no attacking intent on the left. Barbet either too scared, or simply not allowed, to try and take it forward. No width on the right. Josh Clarke and Jota were both overlooked in favour of a 5-4-1 formation in which all 5 sat back and all 4 passed it sideways. And backwards. It was an open invitation for Chelsea to come at us. It was an invitation which required no RVSP and no second chance. It was an invitation which came with a party bag marked ‘goals’. Only Daniel Bentley and the linesman’s flag keeping the first half score respectable.

It was abundantly clear what was going to happen. Invite them on and pay the inevitable price.

img_5275

Pre kick off. Yet worse was to come. Much worse

Just look at the way the two managers/head coaches (whatever) performed. Smith, cutting a solitary figure standing motionless on the edge of his technical area. He was a man reverting to the same abject characteristics of his ill-fated predecessor, Marinus Dijkhuizen. He was a man displaying all the passion of a waterlogged stats graph and about as much technical ability.

His opposite number Antonio Conte was like a man possessed. A demented conductor, directing an orchestra of understudies. There he was, driving them on with every gesticulation. A man constantly encouraging his team and barking out orders. This, despite them being two up against a side whose sole purpose seemed to be ‘don’t lose’.

As for the Scott Hogan decision, who knows what was going on there? If there was any chance of taking anything out of the game he should have started. Or been dropped. There’s no room or place for wishy-washy nonsense. Whatever point either he or Dean are trying to prove at the moment is not in the best interests of this team.

The opening twenty minutes of the second period showed just what would happen if we decided to cross the half way line. Attacking the Shed end that housed the 6,000 Brentford fans we began the half the way we should have started the first.

And then it fizzled out as Chelsea started to play again.

screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-08-45-32

An impressive arena. A less than impressive performance

Only poor finishing and Dan Bentley had kept the scoreline vaguely respectable in that first period. With Romaine Sawyers (whose role yesterday eludes me) unable to go forward,  three static central midfielders passing it amongst themselves and the defence stretched (how can five men get stretched?) the only question was how many Chelsea would get. That it was only two, and eventually four, is a miracle in itself.

In Matthew we trust” , I wrote earlier this month. Well I stick by that. The problem being his trusted lieutenants. The players are there. The talent is there. The motivation and formation isn’t.

For gosh sake, I could have done a better job at motivating them and setting up yesterday . If that was a team designed to go ‘all-out to win the game’ (Dean’s words, not mine) then perhaps he needs a new dictionary or coaching manual.

We haven’t got a divine right to roll over anybody before us. Likewise, Chelsea are where they are for good reason. Roman’s roubles have allowed them to build a squad that is sweeping all before it in the Premier League. But if our ultimate fate was to lose, at least show a bit of passion. A bit of fight . Make a half-arsed attempt to try and get something out of the game instead of trying to chase it when it was already lost.

The most attacking intent shown by anybody vaguely connected with Brentford was from the paunchy geriatrics in the upper tier at full time, as a crazy punch up ensued amongst some agitated supporters.

Instead, we were left with the aforementioned stat of the day from Standard Sport still holding true. We’ve never had a better chance of putting this one to bed. Instead, there was no kapow from Dean Smith.

batman

Nick Bruzon

As Chelsea look ahead to the fifth round and Liverpool, why Brentford will cause the mother of all upsets.

28 Jan

Saturday morning. 8.15am. The (now) ‘lucky’ tinfoil FA Cup from the 5-0 victory in the third round has just come out of storage whilst over on the TV Captain Barnacles, Kwazi and Peso are having another underwater adventure. That’s HB, not me, watching Octonauts and oblivious to the fact that today’s decreed ‘naughty team’ (a title bestowed upon anybody to line up against Brentford), are none other than Chelsea – the current Premier League leaders and one time Champions of Europe.

Oh yes. Its FA Cup fourth round day and Brentford go into this one with absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. We’ve been written off by just about everybody already whilst our own fans have, genuinely, no idea if the club’s leading scorer and one man goal machine, Scott Hogan, will start, be on the bench or have received a phonecall from his agent advising him that a buttock spasm has returned or his hamstring looked a little tight in Friday’s training.

_66724714_80smobile

Just what is Scott’s number?

Nobody expects us to do it today. Mark Lawrenson and his team of guest pundits A.dot (no idea) and Adele (not that one ) from BBC radio have all tipped us to lose without scoring. Even the most tight fisted of bookmakers has us at 11/1 to win; the most generous 18/1. Chelsea, on the other hand, are 2/11 to win . Understandably so, given their wealth, their talent and their excellent start to the Premier League campaign. Chelsea lead the table by a country mile and specialise in clean sheets.

The nightmare of 2015/16, where José Mourinho proved less than ‘special’ as he lead the Blues to the edge of the relegation zone before being dismissed half way through the campaign, now seems as distant as it was unlikely. Only their failure to qualify for Europe in a season when even Spurs reached the Champions League group stages serving as a reminder of how much they had slipped last time out

Yet despite the calibre of our opposition there is room for massive hope and massive optimism. With games against Liverpool and Arsenal (genuine titles contenders and Arsenal, respectively) in the coming week you can expect an element of squad rotation. A Tuesday night trip to Anfield, where the home side will be looking to reel in the league leaders, must surely be seen as more of a threat and priority? Could an unfamiliar line up have trouble in making a cohesive unit?  With many changes predicted,  we are already boosted by the news that one man brick wall Thibaut Courtois has been replaced by ring rusty Asmir Begovic between the sticks.

There’s the atmosphere factor.Brentford sold out all 6,000 tickets within two days. nom matter what your views on the sale technique employed, expect there to be nothing but deafening noise from the Shed End. And that’s just when David Luiz puts in any form of appearance. Nobody in TW8 has forgotten about Jake Reeves.

david-luiz-collides-with-008

Nobody has forgotten…

What about the magic of the cup ? It was only two years ago that League One Bradford City humped Chelsea 4-2 at this stage of the competition. At Stamford Bridge. This, despite going 2-0 down in 38 minutes and playing against the likes of Cech, Drogba, Cahill, Oscar, Hazard and Fabregas – amongst others.

Then of course, we’ve our own recent fourth round encounter with the Blues. 2013 saw us hold Chelsea 2-2 at Griffin Park and for the entire first half of the replay until, eventually, form told.

Whilst they are few and far between we’ve had our own share of giant killing over the years. Sunderland, Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers are the names that spring immediately to mind whilst had we just conceded four goals less and scored one at Anfield then we’d have beaten Liverpool and reached the 1989 semi-final.

c1ejfmmxeaaeigf-jpg-large

Bliss doing his thing against Manchester City in the fourth round – January 1989

Yet, for me, the most telling sign for optimism are the Chelsea fans at work who, to protect their identities, we’ll simply call ‘Andrew’ and ‘Dave’. They go into this one knowing they can’t win. Apart form on the pitch. If Chelsea do manage to get past us it will be what everybody expected. But if Brentford do what I genuinely expect, there will be nothing but a very sheepish journey into the office on Monday morning and bragging rights secured for the next few months.

That alone is reason to go for it today and I can’t wait. however you travel – tube, bus, Routemaster or even on the river cruise – be safe and have fun.

But most of all, come 3pm let’s be loud. Very loud. There’s a fifth round draw to look forward to. And Brentford WILL be in it.

c1lixauxaaaidx7

The lucky cup has been touched by Buzzette. What better omen do we need?

Nick Bruzon

Forget West Ham. Now is the time for Scott to do his thing at Chelsea.

27 Jan

It has been a week of surprises and a week of shocks. Scott Hogan is still a Brentford player (at the time of writing) whilst Mrs Browns Boys won ‘best comedy’ at the National TV awards on Wednesday A bigger voting shock than Donald Trump or the Brexit result, and about as funny as Lee Hurst tied to a bomb for an hour. Yet the unfathomable success of the alleged comedy means we will only be subjected to more of the tedious Agnes Brown (for years to come). And it meant my  mind has been elsewhere rather than laughing at West Ham’s inability to prise our star man away or, of course, looking forward to the FA Cup fourth round with Chelsea on Saturday.

But if Scott is going nowhere, as it stands, then will he play against Chelsea on Saturday? Surely our best hope of beating the team that Dean Smith described yesterday as “The current leaders of the land, away” (promptly forcing me to recall the point where the draw paired us with a visit to Westminster and the Bees running out against Theresa May’s cabinet – get stuck in, Macca) is by playing our strongest XI. And that includes Scott.

Dean was in belligerent form at Thursday’s Brentford press conference, telling the media that ”Scott is available for selection. He has trained all week as he did last week” and that “we made it abundantly clear after the game last week that my decision about whether he plays or not will be final

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-06-11-27

Dean speaks to the media on Thursday

If he’s been training and is available then, surely, he starts? Or at the very least makes it off the bench if Chelsea are looking like clawing themselves back into it after an hour and we need to turn the screw?

I can’t believe a player would suffer a minor injury for a second week in succession and so with that excuse out of the window, will Dean pick his main man?

The words used were very careful. Dean hasn’t said he will pick Scott. Just that he is available and that he (DS) will be the one to make the call. Nobody appears to have pressed him on the question – will he start? A shame, as at times our media would do a better job grilling bacon than grilling a head coach with the questions that everybody wants to know the answers to.

At the same time, keeping the cards close to the chest is no bad thing. If Brentford fans don’t know and the press don’t know then you can be sure that Antonio Conte and his Chelsea team don’t know.

On a personal note, there wouldn’t be a better stage to impress his would be employers than at Stamford Bridge. If West Ham needed any further incentive to loosen their purse strings and get into the real world, then a goal scoring performance in the backyard of the Premier League leaders would surely be the perfect audition.

Should Dean start him given all that has gone on? Forget Lee Hurst’s nonsense from yesterday – something that The Guardian took apart in such wonderful style. This is a real world situation and a genuine dilemma. Would you pick Scott?

For me, it is an absolute yes. We can’t be held to ransom. If nothing else, one could call it squad rotation. Especially with the Aston Villa game coming up on Tuesday.  But what a way to rotate a squad, brining the likes of Scott Hogan and Jota into starting XI.

If Scott remains at Brentford then he’s going to play for us anyway, so let’s just carry on that he’s ours until such time as a proper offer comes in. Frankly, if he does the business against Chelsea then we’d be well within our rights to chuck an extra couple of million on the valuation

As Dean noted, “We know the pool of talent that they have but we will be going all-out to win the game. You only have to look at who could play.

In my book, ‘all out’ means picking your best players. And that includes Scott Hogan. He’s 17/5 to score at any time.

Now where are the deeds to the house?

c3g0idyxeaeynjp

Nick Bruzon

As Brentford prepare for Chelsea, is the FA cup still valid? A guest columnist writes.

18 Jan

It’s a Last Word double today. Along with the column on Sam Saunders, let’s not forget that Brentford have a fourth round FA Cup tie with Chelsea approaching. Tickets are already flying off the shelves with those unable to use the internet lining up from 8am yesterday morning to get their hands on a coveted pair.

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-06-24-36

Does this queue show the love of the cup is still there? Or is it simply because of the calibre of opposition? Would a fourth round trip to Cheltenham Town attract the same sort of queue as the one for Chelsea? As Brentford prepare to make the short trip to Stamford Bridge,  we have a special guest columnist.

Regular readers may be familiar with update from Bernard Quackenbush. Now, the entire page is handed over to him as BQ speaks about his love of, and frustration with, this oldest of tournaments. In his own words…..

I love the FA Cup.

There is an excitement like no other when it comes to the Cup. From the balls being plucked from a plastic bucket where a trembling handed ex-footballer valiantly attempts to read numbers through to the game itself. This very season, Brentford will experience the two extremes of the Cup from playing against non-leaguers dreaming of a scalp through to pitting our wits against the best team in the country.
So why have so many fallen out of love with the Cup?

When I was a kid, Cup Final Day was one of the most exciting days of the year. Both BBC & ITV would start their programmes at what felt like breakfast time. Tony Gubba would be posted outside a North London motel reporting on the type of bus that would take the finalists to Wembley. I am sure that did please one type of demographic. There would be special programming with Cup Final Jim’ll Fix It or Its A Knockout. Oh! Er…Nick? Shall we move on from that?

Live broadcasts from trains carrying moustachioed supporters from the North which culminated in seeing them sing Abide With Me after one too m any lagers, and then the game itself played under a scorching sun. And the day would not be complete without a pint…of milk.

So why do we not get this excitement anymore? Even respected journalist Tony Incenzo last week told us it broke his heart that the FA Cup was not held in high regard any more.

The obvious reason first. The Premier League.

In a day when finishing fourth is considered to be a greater achievement than winning the Cup, the old girl was always going to suffer. With the Premier League, came a greater intensity in television coverage with the Ford Super Sunday Battle for Fourth…and its live!!! happening more than once, thus putting a fairly big dent into our dear old Cup.

Its easy to blame Sky for all these woes, but they arent the only TV culprit. Already this season we have seen picks from BT that have been made purely on potential audience, therefore anyone Manchester United plays is going to be live. The decision to show their tie with Reading at Old Trafford rather than the far more appealing Sutton-Wimbledon tie made my heart sink.

Then there is dear old Auntie Beeb. Nick, may I suggest you look away. The BBC are not innocent in this. In fact a lot of blame can be pointed at the BBC for demeaning the Cup. Their early round coverage has meant that a number of ties have had to be put back to a Sunday at 2pm, just so a generic screechy BBC stock reporter can stand on the side of the pitch being patronising about both teams. We even had the sight of Nick’s favourite, Clem, trying to interview Graham Westley mid match. The look on Wesetley’s face said everything and the BBC’s profanity buzzer operator was looking forward to being able to justify his employment.

In Round 3 we have seen the BBC fall into the BT trap of picking a big team whoever they may be playing against, and on every occasion producing the dullest of matches. Spurs-Villa case in point.

The BBC’s dire coverage even extends to later rounds. Last year I looked forward to seeing highlights of the Semi Final which I didnt see as it was on BT earlier in the day, but no we all had to wait until highlights of the day’s Premier League dead rubber matches were shown and we were treated to a tedious goalless draw between two of the dullest teams in history, and then finally at some ungodly hour came the Cup Semi!

So TV has a lot to do with the degrading of the Cup, but who else? The FA!!

Right, let’s start with its marketing. Just thinking about it made me spasm.

Cringeworthy. Dire and so completely out of touch. This seasons politically correct film of friends going to a Cup match is difficult to get through without sticking pins in your eyes. Clubs, including our beloved #BeeTheDJ are being forced to play a Cup playlist, mostly of sponsored content. No doubt promoters are paying the FA to have their bland insipid music played before each tie. We even have the Cup sponsored. For me personally this is akin for the Roman Catholic church referring to ‘his Holiness the Pope as brought to you by Persil, brings out whites, whiter than white’.

Replays. I loved the days when replays went on forever. I can recall an Arsenal-Everton game which had about 4 replays. Yet these days clubs are moaning about having to play them, saying it effects our ability to succeed in Europe. Lets see. How many European trophies have English clubs won recently, then lets think back to the early 1980s when we had limitless replays when English clubs must have won nothing….Oh! Not sure if anyone knew this but Aston Villa were Champions of Europe in this period, just thought I should remind everyone of this. And this season for the first time we wont even have Quarter Final Replays (then why not have them on neutral turf)

One of the most exciting aspects of the Cup was seeing the Semi Finals at neutral venue. I’m sure we can all think of wonderful examples when we were younger of great semis (careful) at grounds like Highbury, Villa Park, Maine Road and Hillsborough, but we now have semis only at Wembley, as the new version of the national stadium (which still smells of wee) needs to be paid for. Where the stadium announcer has to check his schedule to announce in his local radio twang ‘its Team A vs Team B’.

Something many critics will point out is the likes of Stoke, Bournemouth & Watford fielding weakened teams in the Cup in order to preserve their Premier League status. Actually if you look back, these sort of mid to lower placed top flights often fielded weakened sides in the Cup. So its actually not a new practice. Although changing your whole team like my home town team of Bournemouth did, isn’t the norm and they got right royally spanked and embarrassed as a result.

The culmination of this grand competition was of course Cup Final Day. The crowds of spectators walking to Wembley on a hot day ready for a 3pm kick off. Unfortunately we now have a 5.15 kick off. The current time is an abomination, not for the reason you may think. The FA moved the time to 5.15 for a greater TV audience, but I question whether thats true. The tea time kick off is neither here nor there. Its not afternoon and its not evening. Its the time of day when people are getting home, having something to eat or going out to catch the rest of the sun.

5.15 is the worst possible time for the Final, and it feels like its been crowbarred into the TV schedules so people dont miss out on their weekly diet of a third rate singing contest or people having farcical accidents in Casualty. The Cup Final should be the sporting event of the year, and it should be treated as such. But I say 3pm is a thing of the past.

The Cup Final should be primetime, and it should be 7.45, just like the Champions League Final. Platini has plenty of faults, but he got the rescheduling of the UCL Final, spot on. The Cup Final should be pride of place in the TV schedules, the focal point of the day. Make it an event, rather than just another football match. Lets have the massive build up from 4pm. Bring in the special programmes, bring in the celebs and ex-footballers!

So theres my rant over and I thank Nick for giving me the opportunity to vent my spleen. But come 10 to 3, a week Saturday, slightly further West in London, where the posh people live, there will be at least 6000 of us still very much in love with the Cup.

Bernard Quackenbush

Dean talking buttocks as Newcastle match day arrives and Chelsea details emerge.

14 Jan

Saturday morning, 7am. It’s cold out side, very cold, but thankfully the snow has failed to materialise in Brentford. With the FA Cup behind us for now (although the club did confirm details about the Chelsea game on Friday – more below) it is back to League action for the Bees as Newcastle United are the visitors to Griffin Park.

In the red corner, Scott Hogan. He’s the man, the man with the midas touch. Worth his weight in gold, and goals, he’s been finding the net for fun this season yet now finds himself the absolute centre of transfer speculation as those West Ham stories just won’t go away.

In the blue corner (with orange trim), Dwight Gayle. Outright occupant of the penthouse suite in the Championship leading scorer hotel. Scott’s 14 are still 5 behind the Newcastle United man who showed first hand back in October how deadly he can be. Gayle’s brace contributing to a 3-1 win over the Bees at St. James Park and he hasn’t looked back.

So the big question, will we see them face off today? From one respect the good news was Dean Smith’s confirmation in Thursday’s press conference that “Scott Hogan’s buttock is fine, he has trained all week and is available for selection,” The pair were due to speak yesterday to assess the situation and then, come 2pm (or closely after) we’ll get our first look at the team sheet to see if Lasse Vibe retains his place up top or Scott walks straight back into the side.

I can only expect the later. With no fee having been agreed or deal signed then one can only presume he’ll be leading the line. Unless Scott is having some form of hissy fit à la Diego Costa or Dimitri Payet (how angry must Chelsea and West Ham fans be today?) then surely the chance to prove his mettle against the second best team in the division will be the perfect shop window for a player harbouring dreams of top flight football at some point in his career. Whether that be next week or next season.

As Dean went on to add (and you can find the full article on ‘official’ ), “I fully expect him to want to score a hat-trick against Newcastle United and show people who may question his Premier League credentials that he can do it.”

No Brentford fan wants to see Scott leave but is anyone naïve enough to think we could turn down figures in the region of £15million? More to the point, given what he has been through in his career to date, would anybody really stand in the player’s way?  Scott will go to the Premier League at some point soon – whether January or the summer. Of that, have have absolutely no doubt. He’s just too good.

Today could well be our last chance to see him at Griffin Park. At least, in the red and white of Brentford. We’ve only one more home game until the transfer window closes and that’s an evening kick off, on January 31st, against Aston Villa. I’d love to see him starting that one but in my heart of hearts I fear we’ll have said farewell by that point.

hogan-celebrates

Come on Scott. Could today be the last time we’ll see scenes like this?

Instead, let’s just live for the moment. Can Harlee Dean and crew keep out Dwight Gayle at one end, leaving Scott free to try and catch Newcastle’s free scoring goal machine at the other? Here’s hoping. This  afternoon’s game has goals in it, no doubt. The only question being just how many?

The one piece of news that the club have been able to confirm is that surrounding the FA Cup fourth round tie at Chelsea. It was announced yesterday that that game will be a 3pm kick off on Saturday 28th January. A not surprising decision but, at the same time, given the home team’s subsequent league fixtures there was always the thought it might be brought forward to Friday night or even Saturday lunchtime.

As with our previous visit to Stamford Bridge, we’ve been allocated all 6,000 tickets in their ‘Shed’ end. Details of sale are yet to be released although with the game only a fortnight away expect this to be imminent. The pricing structure of £30 adults and £15 kids is (relatively) competitive – I’m still baulking at the £41 charged by Leeds United –  so filling that end to get Chelsea rocking won’t be an issue.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-06-00-51

Everything we know about the Chelsea game in two tweets

With a home game against Brighton and the aforementioned Villa match immediately after that one, it has all the potential to be a wonderful few weeks for Brentford.

This time ten years ago we were playing games against Leyton Orient, Yeovil Town and Carlisle United as the Bees eventually finished the season a the bottom of League One. Now we’re talking about selling players for £15million whilst taking on some of the biggest names in English football.

It makes you think.

For now, though, it’s all about Newcastle United. See you there.

Nick Bruzon 

Happy with the cup draw? A chance for payback awaits.

10 Jan

The FA Cup fourth round draw has been made and Brentford will face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It is a draw that immediately evoked memories of the same stage back in 2013 where only a late equaliser from Fernando Torres kept The Blues alive as they forced a replay following a 2-2 at Griffin Park.  That second game was a much more one sided affair as 0-0 at half time turned to 4-0 in favour of a Chelsea side who would eventually make it all the way to the semis before coming unstuck against Manchester City.

Just yesterday morning when writing about the forthcoming draw, it was noted on these pages: Trumping the likes of Manchester City and Sunderland whilst running Southampton and Chelsea more than close. Oh, for a chance to do it once more.

Ask and you shall receive. If only wishes were always granted this easily.

Saunders territory Chelsea

We faced Chelsea back in 2013. 2-2 at Griffin Park

Back then, Chelsea were Champions of Europe although that’s a far cry these days following last season’s failure to even make the Europa League (10th, wasn’t it – so not singing that song for the next few weeks would be nice). That said, nobody could deny they’ve taken the bull by the horns this time around with Antonio Conte at the helm, Diego Costa scoring for fun and their defence a fantasy football manager’s dream. Another clean sheet? Don’t mind if I do.

Brentford, on the other hand, are holding our own in the Championship but consistency is probably still the biggest challenge. With rumours about Scott Hogan’s future circling daily like vultures just waiting to feast on a carcass, could our star man even be wearing the red and white by the time we make the short trip down the road for another West London derby.

Indeed, this must be the first time in some time that we’ve played games against Fulham, QPR and Chelsea all in the same season.Where’s Luis Melville when you need him to dig out the stats on the last time that happened? (Luis, if you are reading…..).

We haven’t got a chance? Or have we? Could that cup magic deliver another wonderful story?

I have no doubt the away end will be sold out. We took 6,000 Back in 2013 and surely similar numbers will travel this time, ticket allocation permitting. Certainly the Bees will inject some atmosphere into what felt very much like a library last time out (watch out for those ‘official flag wavers’) whilst I’m sure David Luiz will warrant special attention.

Nobody at Griffin Park has forgotten what happened to Jake Reeves in the replay as the youngster came out on the wrong end of an assault (won’t dignify it with the word ‘foul’ or ‘challenge’) from the Brazilian.

david-luiz-collides-with-008

That is, of course, if Luiz and the rest of Chelsea’s first team even play in this one. With the FA Cup falling down the pecking order for many of the, so-called, ‘big’ clubs might we see a less familiar line up? Even John Terry played on Sunday against Peterborough (before being promptly red carded).

Likewise, the tie only comes a few days prior to The Blues’ trip to Liverpool for a game with  a team who are currently their closest rivals for the Premier League title. Is it wishful thinking to imagine that could play into our hands? That minds will be focussed more on that than a cup tie with a Brentford team who, on paper, they should win the floor with?

Let’s hope so. As we all know ‘on paper’ counts for nothing in this sort of game. Last time out it took Chelsea over two hours of football before they were finally able to take the lead against the Bees whilst let’s not forget the fourth round 2015. Bradford City, of course, coming from 2-0 down at Stamford Bridge to eventually emerge with an incredible 4-2 victory.

Being honest, the only slight down side to all of this is feeling a little disappointed that we’ve been denied the opportunity to visit a new ground. With all due respect to Chelsea, we’ve been there and done that. Until the Bees are regularly competing in the Premier League (one day, one day) then these sort of games are the only chance we get to mix it with football’s biggest names. Wonderful though another trip to Stamford Bridge will be, the chance to play one of the Manchester teams or even the likes of Arsenal would have been incredible.

Then again, there’s always the fifth round for that.

See you there. I can’t wait.

Nick Bruzon