Tag Archives: stats

7(seven) and 0. But is it as bad as it looks or is the table lying?

13 Sep

7(seven) games in and Brentford remain locked on three points, sit second bottom in the Championship table and have still failed to record a league win. Our latest attempt saw a 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday where despite taking an early lead via Nico Yennaris, normal 2017/18 service soon resumed. The only consolation of the night was another blank and another defeat for a Birmingham City side who now join us in the bottom three.

But first, matters closer to home. Another game, another defeat for Dean Smith and his new look Bees. A trip to Sheffield Wednesday was never going to be an easy one but we were given a gift wrapped start after Nico gave us a 9th minute lead from outside the box. It was less a piledriver and more a bobbling grass cutter but, somehow, Owls ‘keeper Kieren Westwood conspired to let it squirm under his body.

And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust …. the rest of this article can now be found in the Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Certainly, if there’s no Marcos Tea Bar at Lionel Road it will be an opportunity missed.

All proceeds from any sales will go to the Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given something very special. A 2017/18 third team shirt with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in the EFL typeface. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop.  Anyone who has read any of this before will know what a kit nerd yours truly is so when I say this is rare, take that in good faith!

To be in with a chance of owning it, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before selecting a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

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Dean v Marinus. If we are looking at stats

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Harlee Birmingham tweet

Nick Bruzon

KK bids farewell (for now). But is it the right decision?

29 Jun

This is the moment for the Austrian. And what a moment it is.” Not my words but those enthused by Beesplayer commentator par excellence Mark Burridge to describe the goal scored by Konstantin Kerschbaumer as Brentford retook the lead deep into injury time against Brighton back in February. It was a strike worthy of the shortlist for goal of the season yet it was announced yesterday that the Austrian is off on loan to Germany where he will spend 2017/18 with DSC Arminia Bielefeld.

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KK is in there, somewhere, celebrating a ‘winner ‘ against Brighton

The immediate question is why? Specifically, why has this happened and why wasn’t he ever given a decent run in the side? That Brighton goal was the obvious cherry on the cake of two years at Griffin Park and it’s been no secret on these pages that he’s been a player yours truly would have given much more game time. The interplay between himself and Scott Hogan at the end of Dean Smith’s first season suggested such huge potential yet despite plenty of patchy performances from his team mates, he’s never been given a proper crack of the whip.

Then again, Dean Smith is head coach for a reason and I’m just the numpty on the terrace. He was quoted on ‘official’ yesterday as saying, “With the quality we have in the squad, we cannot guarantee game time for anyone”. Presumably, unless your name is Nico? Or Ryan? Or Romaine? Or Josh (subject to injury)? That’s meant as no disrespect to any of these players but more to make the point that a settled and pretty much guaranteed midfield is something Dean has set out to build. As such, it seemed a somewhat contradictory statement.

KK rightly deserving of a place in this pantheon of net busting brilliance

 

Stats. Is there a scarier, more mis-construed word in the Griffin Park vocabulary? The journalistic zombie that Matthew Benham just can’t kill? Well, I’m going to play the stats game here with a few.

First up – this from our own Luis Melville back in April. If anybody can nail a killer stat it’s Luis. This one is very simple but very to the point.

It’s interesting to see Luis responding to Ted Knutson (who was of course hugely involved in Player Analytics at Smartodds). For our second piece of statistical reference, a piece written by Ted in May 2017 says more about the player then these pages could ever hope to do. For me, his key statistical point being:

2320 minutes, 1 goal, 12 assists.

That’s an assist rate of about .47 per 90, which is in the top 3% of footballers. Kersch also doesn’t take set pieces, meaning nearly all of his assists come from open play. To give you an idea of how unusual this is, in the last four seasons in the Championship nine players have posted 12 assists or more, all with more minutes and nearly all of them taking set pieces.”

There’s so much more to Ted’s column than just that stat. For those doubting what Konstantin added, please do have a read. If nothing else, it gives a fascinating insight into the Brentford recruitment process. At the same time, take a positive from the fact that, officially, the player is going out to Germany to get game time under his belt. With a Jota style additional year added to his contract (see also: Jack Bonham and Carlisle), could he return even bigger and better than ever before? Here’s hoping.

Whether you would pick KK or not (and one thing I’d agree with Dean on is that the squad has midfield quality) the simple fact is that the head coach has never seen fit to give a player he inherited an extended run. Personally, I disagree but that’s football. Dean and his team must have known the statistical evidence so perhaps there is something more to it than that.

Who knows why and who knows where we’ll all be in 12 months time? I, for one, could quite honestly never ever see Jota coming back after heading out to Eibar on loan. Nobody needs any reminder of just how wonderfully that played out.

Could the same thing happen again? Just imagine….

And if you’d like to read more about KK, that goal and last season then please don’t forget (how could you?) that the regular season review e-book is now available for download. This one is titled ‘Welcome home, King Jota’  and this time around it is for a great cause. All funds raised are being given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Likewise, any subsequent sales from the previous versions.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 2016 to May 2017 and a bit of new material too, you can pick it up, here. It’s just £1.99.

So why not do something great to help our club. What else will £1.99 get you? What better way to spend some time on the commute to work, the beach, by the pool or even hiding out in the toilet at work? You might even enjoy it !

For less than the cost of half a pint on match day, it’s the season review that has been designed to fit in your pocket (if you are using an i-phone).

Nick Bruzon

There’s more than one anniversary to commemorate. Could the same thing happen again?

23 Feb

With Brentford due to entertain Rotherham United this Saturday, the game sees a much heralded anniversary being marked – fifty years since the Loftus Road mob failed in their attempt to cast the Bees out of Griffin Park and take over the club. Whilst the club are understandably, marking this date with all the correct protocol and build up, it has overshadowed another anniversary. Namely, Friday 24 February being two years to the day that the Bees enjoyed 74% possession and an incredible 43 shots in a 4-0 Championship defeat of Blackpool.

Of course, the club have numerous articles on the doomed QPR affair. You can see the latest on ‘official’ at present (well worth a look) whilst the Rotherham game sees the event being given formal recognition.

Yet the Blackpool game also deserves a look back. If only for the manner in which Brentford played so soon after the news that Mark Warburton would eventually be moving on, unable to co-exist alongside Matthew Benham and his (then new) ‘mathematical model’.

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Warbs – more popular at the time than the prospect of the mathematical model

Of course, nobody knew then what we do now. It was decision which seemed crazy at the time . Moreso, given that the Blackpool game seemed a vindication of everything the club had done to get to that point. Equally though, it is one which now sees us about to embark on a fourth season of Championship football. The thought of any QPR style buy out nothing but a bad memory as Matthew Benham’s investment in Brentford continues apace.

So with Saturday seeing us prepare to play Rotherham United and (frankly) jeer QPR, the Last Word takes the chance to step back in time and remember, as if ‘live’, what we did against Blackpool. It was as close as we’ll get to those wonderful brackets that come with 7(seven) goals. Then again, with the divisional whipping boys next up, could Brentford do the same again two years on…..?

25 February 2015. 4 goals, 43 shots, 74% possession. That’s some mathematical model.

Brentford blew aside Blackpool last night like a crisp packet caught on the breeze as they recorded a second win in as many games. The 4-0 scoreline does little to reflect the one sided nature of a game in which we registered 43 shots to the visitors 2 and had 74% possession. Blackpool, who spent much of the game with ten men following a red card for Charles Dunne, offered nothing and, being honest, could have made the long journey home on the wrong end of a bracketing had we been that bit more clinical.

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Those shots in full

As it was, Jon Toral recorded a hat trick with two early goals starting proceedings and looking as though the floodgates might open. With the crowd exhorting Toumani to shoot at every opportunity, expectation was high. Even ‘the left side, Ealing Road’, joined in with the cheering before meeting the good natured retort “You only sing when your winning” from the rest of the stand.

Instead, it stayed at two until just after half time when Andre Gray’s effort eventually squeezed though, and off, a sea of legs for 3-0. And that was it until Toral was forced to make room on his mantelpiece for a match-ball as he stabbed home from close range just before the final whistle.

4-0 was no more than we deserved but with everybody above us (barring Bournemouth who play tonight) winning, it was an essential result. Yes, we could have had more but three points had to be the priority against a team who were desperate for a result and, for a moment, looked as though they might even grab the opening goal.

However, it was just a moment and, with the threat gone, Brentford recorded a victory that sees us sitting immediately outside the playoff zone, just two points off third place. All talk of Matthew Benham’s mathematical model has been pushed firmly to the back of the mind as 7(seven) goals in two games suggest something is working just fine as things currently stand. Hey, we even scored from a corner (albeit, the traditional ball into the penalty box rather than the much maligned ‘short’ variety).

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In the interest of balance I’m looking for a negative about our performance but it is hard to be truly objective when the opposition offer so little. You have to really feel for their fans making that journey for that level of resistance.

Being über critical, the only thing to elicit any form of inward groan, short corners aside, was some of David Button’s distribution. Whilst we used to think even Natalie Sawyer’s feet would be better suited to clearing the ball, that part of his game has still improved so much that a rogue effort does really stand out now. There’s good reason the fans chant “England’s number one”.

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Better than Button? Natalie Sawyer feet pictures feat Mark Burridge, too.

Warbs’ stock continues to rise as the post match discussion in the pub was very much one of “What next”? Matthew Benham has made his intentions clear and so certainly seems to have gone too far down this track for a reversal of opinion. The popular Mark Warburton, meanwhile, has said he won’t be able to work within such a structure.

However, there is an alternative which could keep both parties happy. If Matthew wants a mathematical model then I have two words which, I am sure, would prove a popular decision – Rachel Riley.

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First look at the artist’s impression of a mathematical model etc etc etc

And, as ever, if you would like to read more about that incredible period then you can do so here…….

Nick Bruzon

On a day of on and off-field shock, meet the Liverpool of the Championship.

21 Aug

Early season form. What can you say? Saturday afternoon saw Brentford go down 1-0 to a Rotherham United team who recorded their first win of the campaign. In a game where the stats may tell a different story (see also Liverpool at Burnley, a game in which former Bee Andre Gray could at least provide one meaningful contribution to a somewhat controversial day) we ended up second best. Yet Dean Smith’s team still sit in eighth place on 6 points, level with the Loftus Road mob and a Newcastle United side who have started to rack up the points. Finally.

That said, our head coach has made that  most awkward of comments at full time, saying : “The better team lost on the day but that’s football sometimes.” No, Dean. No. Don’t believe the manual.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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A coaching manual, yesterday

 

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That Burnley game last season

 

Nick Bruzon

We Came. We Saw. We Capitulated. But who is Brentford’s secret Zoolander?

13 Mar

QPR 43% Brentford 57%. What an afternoon! The Bees marched into Loftus Road hoping to achieve a rare double over our fiercest of local rivals and left it as clear and outright winners in the possession stats. It was as dominant and comprehensive a display of ball control as we could have hoped for going into a game of this nature and the Bees came out on top.

That QPR scored 3 goals to our 0 is almost a moot point. With head coach Dean Smith opting not to play a recognised striker but, instead, having diminutive Alan Judge operating as the advanced midfielder (or ‘false 9’, as I saw bandied around !?) in a 4-6-0 formation, its hardly a surprise.

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Questionable decision making yesterday

Those expecting vitriol towards the players aren’t going to get it. Go to Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere. You could see what this meant to the likes of Alan McCormack and Harlee Dean. Our number 6 seemed to be in tears at the end of it and had to be directed towards those who remained of the 3,000 Bees fans. Nico Yennaris continues to grow and Sergi Canos impressed until he was, oddly in my eyes, removed from the field of play at the first substitution.

But despite the best efforts of Woods and Canos, speculative shots from distance don’t usually win games. It worked, once, at Reading, when two world class goals won us the match but that’s very much the exception to the rule. Instead, get the ball into the centre forward. Or forwards . Ryan Woods hit the post and KK had one tipped over late on but that was the only save of note I recall QPR ‘keeper Alex Smithies having to make.

Why Dean Smith chose over an hour of the derby, away from home, to mess about with an experimental formation missing any form of traditional centre forward I have genuinely no idea. Moreso, what on earth does it say about his thoughts on the development squad if picking nobody was deemed a more positive alternate to chucking one of the youngsters in to see how they coped?

Highlights – of sorts

Seriously? What just what was that team selection about? Or is he reading these pages?(no)

Comments during the week of “One would presume Macca will be brought in for QPR …. The only question being who fills the role of ineffectual striker – Hofmann, Djuricin or Vibe” and then yesterday morning of “We could play John Swift in goal with Harlee Dean up front and nobody would care if it meant getting on the 237 home with all three points in our back pocket” were meant in an ironic sense.

Not to be met with respective answers of “nobody” and “Not Harlee. But why not try the smallest man on the pitch who, whilst uber-skillful, isn’t a centre forward

What point was he trying to prove? Whatever it was it certainly didn’t work, no matter how much Dean thinks we were in that game . But hey, “We go again”. Right now I don’t want to overly dwell on it. Abject disappointment is the over-arching emotion. This is what it must feel like to be the parent who says, “I’m not angry. I just feel very let down”.

Brentford fans were reported to be fighting amongst each other and I saw a lot of anger being demonstrated towards those deemed ‘not loyal’, simply for sitting down or not singing Oldham’s song on 90 minute loop. The irony of the pair delivering that particular tirade at one chap in the front row then, between them, failing to return for the second half and slinking out after the third goal was not lost.

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Brentford fans try to ‘up’ the noise levels

Behind me, the emotion had clearly got to another fan who had been giving a running commentary down the phone to his, presumably, better half during the second half. Even this call reached a sad denouement with the line, “Yes. I love you my darling. But we’re sh*t. Now please f**k off” .

Whether right or wrong, this is what it meant to supporters and choosing such a ridiculous time and place to experiment in this fashion shows just how badly Dean Smith called this one.

Still, out of darkness comes light. In a week that has seen Beesotted administer a gentle probing to Matthew Benham and Greville Waterman present his voluminous list of questions to Phil Giles in that marathon two hour interview, the Last Word has its own exclusive.

Who is Brentford’s next top model?

Half time was lit up when BBC Billy Reeves responded to a call of his name by performing a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ touchline sashay. Part Moonwalker, part Zoolander it was as smooth a transition from casual stroll to C&A model as you could ever hope to see. As one terrace wag noted ,” He accelerated from zero to catwalk in 1.2 seconds”.

If only we’d been able to show some blue steel yesterday.

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Is there no end to Billy’s talents?

Nick Bruzon

Killer Owls slaughter Bees in a Valentine’s massacre

14 Feb

Brentford fell to a second straight defeat as Sheffield Wednesday inflicted a 4-0 thrashing on the 10 man Bees. Following last week’s reverse at Brighton, this made it 7(seven) goals against without reply as we were left dead in the water after referee Scott Duncan showed straight red shown to Yoann Barbet in just the fifth minute.

In a repeat of the corresponding home game earlier in the season, Lucas João grabbed a last minute winner. This time, though, there was no question as to who deserved the points. The encounter at Griffin Park may have seen things end with a hard fought 2-1 in favour of the visitors but yesterday’s result was one which, if we are being honest, they’ll probably be disappointed not to have ended with a bracketing.

If we’re being equally honest, their cause was massively helped by the sending off. Barbet was adjudged to have brought down Gary Hooper with the Wednesday player clean through on goal after running onto a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). It may have been Valentine’s weekend but this was one card that Yoann won’t have wanted to receive. I’ve watched it and rewatched it yet my own opinion remains wooly.

Undoubtedly, the Brentford man has raised a hand to Hooper’s shoulder, to which the striker needed no further invitation to go straight down. Was it a professional foul? Was the reaction exaggerated? Who knows. Certainly not the ref and one can sympathise with Dean Smith’s assertion that, “I don’t believe the referee can make the decision. I think he guessed. He’s directly behind it, 40 yards away. I thought it was a poor decision.”

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Yoann Barbet – his sending off left Dean Smith seeing red

Put it this way. Had the same thing happened at Griffin Park, we’d have been baying for blood and a red card. There’d have been uproar had it not been given. That said, the ref had enough time to think about it – such was the length he had to run in order to flourish his card – so could at least have consulted his linesman and used any available help to make a potentially game changing decision.

Guess or not, Hooper had been in a great position and with the Bees forced into a rejig (Jack O’Connell coming on for the recalled Konstantin Kerschbaumer) parity lasted until just the 12th minute. Fernando Forestieri’s header giving the hosts an early lead.

Hooper doubled it with a great strike after a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood claiming the assist for that one as Hooper ignored the presence of Jack O’Connell to fire home with a sweet first touch. It was a cracking strike and deserving of all plaudits – such was the technique and precision employed.

It was game over just before half time. A long ball over the top (sound familiar?) reached Kieran Lee in the box. The Wednesday midfielder bamboozled Harlee Dean whose non-challenge was, at best, an attempt to jump into his opponent after Jack O’Connell had been beaten for the cross in.

Yet despite a marginally better second-half showing from the Bees , it was Sheffield Wednesday who would eventually extend the lead further. A long ball threaded through the midfield (hey, at least it wasn’t over the top) found Lucas João. With Jack and Harlee ambling (now there’s an idea for a Partridge TV show – “Ambling with Jack and Harlee”), David Button could only help push it into his own net and will, perhaps, be disappointed with that one.

4-0. Game over. Ouch.

Not even Mark Burridge can salvage this one

There is one school of thought that would suggest the referee ruined this one. The Bees had been the stronger team in the opening spell before it became 10 against 11 and were left with no hope from that point. True enough, but to be cut open so easily and so consistently was nothing but shambolic. Blame the ref, absolutely, but we need to look inwards too. Certainly, we gave our opponents a huge helping hand with what could politely be called ‘schoolboy defending’.

Likewise, take nothing away from Wednesday. They are where they are on merit and will present a major threat to anybody with play-off aspirations. Certainly those are aspirations that Brentford can no longer harbour – even Ciaran Brett from the club media team admitted during the game that those pre-match claims had been “optimistic” .

So what of the Bees? Our current form is starting to worry and the current statistical trend doesn’t make great reading. We’ve only scored 6 goals in our last 8 games – and 3 of those came up at Preston, our only win all year. Indeed, yesterday’s result means we’ve lost 6 out of our last 8 matches whilst the ‘winning run’ stretches to 5 out of 18.

With the top of the table out of reach, and Brentford now occupying 13th, should we be worried about the other end? It sounds ludicrous to even mention such an option and a 14 point gap (combined with ’less bad’ goal difference) should be too much with 15 games to go.

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The BBC table shows us firmly ensconced mid-table. For now

More, its just disappointing to see the great work put in by Lee Carsley and the squad, where we were within spitting distance of the top 6 after the disaster of ‘The Marinus Experiment’, now falling away amidst further departures and a poor run of results.

Nobody has a divine right to be any good. Nobody has a divine right to promotion. Nobody stays up by default. You need to work at these things and earn them. We did so much of that last season and absolutely deserved what we got, despite a team that many suggested were ‘punching above their weight’. Personally, I thought such a suggestion to be disrespectful. We were a team that thrived on spirit and skill who could, arguably should, even have gone one better.

Now we have made the decision to dismantle and rebuild. On-field, the transfer policy that is being driven by our co-directors of football is certainly open to debate. I get that money talks and we can’t force players who don’t want to stay to remain here. Likewise, many talk about this being a longer term strategy to keep us financially viable until the Lionel Road stadium is able to be built.

All true. Yet few could deny that the change in morale, motivation and performance make this seem a world away from where we were 12 months ago. For those football fans whose week is based around the last result and looking forward to the following game (surely the point of going?), it’s a tough place to be at present.

The next few weeks, let alone the next few months, are going to be very interesting indeed.

Nick Bruzon

There’s Toumani broken hearts on New Road

23 Jan

Preston await. Despite Brentford saying nothing (certainly by 10am on Saturday morning) we’ll be another man down. Just about every other source, including the player and his colleagues on Twitter, were talking about the sale of Toumani Diagouraga to Leeds United. The destruction of the team that took us to within a play-off semi final of the Premier League continues as fans have been left heartbroken by the dismantling of the side that served us so incredibly well.

Mark Warburton – gone

Andre Gray – gone

Moses Odubajo – gone

Stuart Dallas – gone

Jota – gone

Toumani Diagouraga – gone

Alex Pritchard – gone

Jonathan Douglas – gone

Nick Proschwitz – gone

Personally, and I know I’m in a minority, I’ve not shed any tears over the departure of Dougie. His time had come. Likewise, I can’t see anybody crying over the absence of Proschwitz from the team whilst Pritch was only ever a loan signing.

But you can’t remove this much quality and expect no reaction – on or off the field. Moreso when, Max Colin aside, those that have come in have hardly matched their predecessors in terms of ability and performance. With Toumani now gone I fear the midfield is going to be left with a hole you could park a juggernaut in.

Swift and McEachran are, currently, showing the solidity of tumbleweed whilst I saw one post on social media describing KK as having all the resistance of a wet piece of kitchen towel.

Whatever Rasmus and co think they are doing, you just can’t rip the soul out of a team, replace it with statistical niceities and sideways passing / ball retention then hope to pick up where you left off. There, I was rude about so-called, moneyball. Sue me.

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No more Toumani at Griffin Park. Thanks

Frankly, I dread to think what would have happened had Alan Judge not been in such imperious form or Lee Carsley performed such miracles after Marinus was brought in (great research there) and then so unceremoniously dumped. This, just days after he’d been paraded at the fans’ forum where we’d been given the message that everything in the garden was rosy. Hey, Rasmus even told us at that session that we’d be in the Premier League within three seasons.

Carry on like this and I’d agree – the Ryman Premier.

Look, this might all work out but, right now, our club feels a very different place to 24, even 12, months ago. And I’m not sure I like it very much. Selling Toumani to Leeds United really has been the last straw. I thought there might be chance he’d follow Warbs to Rangers but this just feels all wrong.

Not for the player, of course. I can only wish him the very best and offer huge thanks for everything he did. He was supporter’s player of the year for good reason and our loss is very much Leeds’ gain.

We never did see that goal we’d craved for so long but lump your mortgage on him doing it on Tuesday night. When, of course, Leeds United visit Griffin Park.

As for today, Preston North End see Brentford having lost four games on the spin. Dean Smith has stated the obvious and noted that he wants to get back to winning ways. As one New Road observer has noted, he was hardly going to come out with: “Well, Chris, I was thinking that losing 5 or 6 in a row might give us that extra impetus going into February”.

Apologies, Dean. But I’m just not in the frame of mind to be happy-clappy, nicey-nicey about our top brass at the moment. Results aside, the way the season has progressed has been really unlike anything those who have supported this club for more than a year (me, 1979) have known.

I’d love success. But at what price?

Let’s really hope things start kicking in on the pitch again soon.

And finally, it seems Absolute Radio DJ Christian O’Connell has a rival. Following yesterday’s piece in which we talked about the sad end to the Cameron Diaz story, it seems that none other than Bees Player commentator par excellence, Mark Burridge, is adding his two penneth into the mix.

He notes: “ I met Cameron Diaz in 2005 when she was filming The Holiday, (filmed in Guildford I believe) whilst staying at Pennyhill Park. ‘What’s Brentford?’ she laughed when I asked her…..so I explained who we were and she replied ‘I don’t know what Brentford is’….I then explained it was a story in an English newspaper about her knowing Dan Tana and picking up the bug to support us…..’Oh yes, I know Dan but I don’t know Brentford’…….this story was relayed on messageboards and been mentioned on Beesplayer for years. I claim the Cameron ‘outing’ prize’ Nick.

I have no idea who has officially ‘outed’ Cameron but OC, Mark – if either of you are reading this then, to quote Harry Hill, “There’s only one way to sort his out…”

Nick Bruzon

 

Beware of Greeks bearing stretchers as ‘you know who’ takes a tumble

19 Oct

I’ll keep this brief today. Whilst the main weekend column focused on Brentford beating Rotherham United, there was plenty of other incident further afield than Griffin Park. Primarily involving Keith Stroud in the game between Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City, where Arsenal loanee and former Bee Chuba Akpom flattened the card happy official. Accidentally, of course.

Chuba Akpom didn't seem happy to join the Bees  from Arsenal.

Chuba Akpom didn’t seem happy to join the Bees from Arsenal.

In a rare twist of fate for a Stroud game, it was the referee himself who was forced to leave the field of play early as he was unable to continue after the collision. He’d already shown four yellows by this point, although Akpom escapade unpunished. Given his reputation, I half expected a ‘red’ to be shown as a final act but it wasn’t to be.

Out of interest, in eleven games this season Mr Stroud has ‘only’ (and remember who we are talking about) shown 43 yellows and one red – that coming in our game at Bristol City. Could we see him turning over a new leaf? Time will tell.

For now though, here’s the moment. No sniggering, Brentford fans

Nobody likes to see an injury of any nature

Next up, who doesn’t like to see a goalkeeper finding the back of the net?

It happened on Saturday as Wycombe Wanderers lost out at Stevenage. Jesse Joronen was the man in the right place at the right time to open the scoring after ten minutes.

Red faces in defence?

And finally, Greek football. Surely everbody has seen this now but it would be rude not to include it. To be quite honest, I’m still convinced this is fake footage. The PG Tips Chimps did a better job moving their piano (kids, ask your dads). Surely nobody could be this clumsy?

However, just when the second division game against AE Larissa couldn’t get any worse for Ergotelis midfielder Leonardo Koutris, this happened,,,,

Where’s Keith Stroud when you need him?

Nick Bruzon

Judge becomes chief executioner on a day of huge significance

18 Oct

On a day of sporting dominance, one result which will go largely unnoticed outside a small corner of West London could have huge longer-term significance. Brentford beating Rotherham United 2-1 may not be up there for the neutral at a time that saw Bournemouth getting tonked 5-1 at Manchester City or New Zealand wiping the floor with France in the rugby but it mattered to us. A lot. We’ll get to the rest of that shortly (especially Bournemouth, who seemed to suffer some form of self-inflicted manager-of-the-month curse) but can only begin at Griffin Park.

It was a day of huge importance on and off the field. The club rightly celebrated the life of Martin Lange with a rousing minute’s applause before kick-off whilst it was also ‘kick it out’ day.

Both teams and all supporters applauded for Martin Lange

Both teams and all supporters applauded for Martin Lange

‘Kick it out’ is a thoroughly noble campaign and a shame that, in this day and age, such a cause needs highlighting with a specific day. Moreso, that when it comes around, we could still do more, as a club. There were people handing out leaflets and placards in their special yellow t-shirts whilst Buzz and Buzzette wore the campaign colours prior to kick off. I’d love if our team could go one better and actually wear the logo on the shirt for this sort of game, rather than the traditional sponsor.

Brentford have done this before. Most notably when Skyex generously made way to help celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Community Sports Trust on the silver shirt back in 2012. Perhaps it is something we might want to consider for next season, if Matchbook.com are reading?

Or, even, how about being trailblazers and doing this at another game later on this campaign? After all, the ideals of ‘kick it out’ are those that, surely, we should be aspiring to every week?

Where Buzzette leads, could the team follow?

Where Buzzette leads, could the team follow?

On pitch, we’d all absorbed the message that the season was due to ‘restart’ with the Rotherham game. And boy, what a restart.

Alan Judge opened the scoring with little over a minute on the clock. The Irishman looping a sweet volley straight back over the top of the Rotherham defence and ‘keeper Lee Camp from the edge of the penalty box. It really was a wonderful strike as Judge, my man of the match, caught the clearance first time and set up another contender for goal of the season.

In a game that, like it or not, word on the street had marked down as a relegation six pointer (although interestingly, the win sees us just 8 points away from the play offs) it was the perfect start. And then it stopped.

Lee Carsley’s boys put in plenty of effort but a new look midfield containing Sergi Canos, Ryan Woods and John Swift struggled to make further impact. Indeed, Rotherham had the better chances – in each half – and to go in leading on 45 mins was a scenario I’d have bitten your hand off for before kick off. It is only the second time all season we’ve taken the lead in a game!

It was a lead that didn’t last long. If Judge’s goal had been good, within minutes of the restart Joe Mattock hit a beauty past David Button from even further out than the opener. It was a shot that got higher and faster, leaving the Bees ‘keeper no chance as it screamed past him.

One thing Lee Carsley had promised us was fight and determination. Sure enough, we got it. United’s lead lasted barely ten minutes as that man Judge grabbed his second of the game. A bullet header (yes, you read that correctly) past Camp after getting on the end of a Jake Bidwell cross restored the lead. And that’s how things stayed until full time. Scorewise, anyway.

Having score two, Alan Judge tries to set up a third

Having scored two, Alan Judge tries to set up a third.

Being quite honest, the visitors had the better chances and the majority of possession. David Button was forced into a number of smart saves that reinforced, yet gain, the importance of both him and Judge to this team. Where we’d be without them, I dread to think, based on how things began this campaign. But, they ARE here and, more importantly, it was another win for the Bees.

The BBC stats just show how much the visitors did control affairs (shots especially) and, as one New Road observer noted afterwards, “I’d like to see Rasmus try and spin these”.

The BBC stats don't lie. Except they do. We got 2 goals to their 1

The BBC stats don’t lie. Except they do. We got 2 goals to their 1

I have no doubt that had Steve Evans still been in charge of the Millers he’d have complained afterwards how they murdered us, how we’d robbed them etc. etc. etc. Instead, both Neil Redfearn and Lee Carsley were much more realistic in their appraisals of our respective teams. The Brentford man, in particular, admitting how “we started the second half poorly”.

Talking to supporters after the match, the general theme of opinion seemed to be that Alan Judge was the standout player in a game that was otherwise much akin to a League One fixture in places. The flipside being that it was a hard fought contest between two teams that haven’t had the best of starts, for a number of well documented reasons. Ultimately, the only stat that really counts is balls in the back of the net – and that’s where Brentford were strongest.

With a mid-week trip to Wolves up next, those points and a win were vital. And if nothing else, for morale. It’s just great to get back to winning ways but the big question now, of course, is whether we can do it again?

Away from Griffin Park, my highlight was at the Ethiad where Manchester City routed Bournemouth. Whilst I have nothing but respect (and even a sense of ‘if only’) for the Cherries in what they achieved last season, I can’t help but feel they brought this on themselves a touch.

There can’t be many in football who don’t know about the ‘manager of the month curse’. Pick up up this award and instantly doom your manager to losing his next game. So on Thursday, when Bournemouth started trumpeting the success of Eddie Howe and his signing a contract extension to 2020, even creating a hashtag to mark the occasion, there was only one thing that was going to happen.

Sure enough, three down in less than half an hour eventually finished up as a 5-1 humping.

Eddiesigns - no painting over that scoreline

Eddiesigns – no painting over that scoreline

Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have been where the Cherries were, playing at Manchester City, instead of struggling past Rotherham. Indeed, part of me still thinks we were the ultimate architects in our eventual capitulation last season where, catching everybody cold, we ended up in a position to cause one of the biggest upsets in sporting history. Then blew it with Village-gate and, perhaps, some tactical naivety late on when the team was crying out for a bit of change

That was then, this is now and there’s no point having any regret. We had the chance, lost out, but have had a taste of our potential. Being realistic, with a quarter of the season gone I think it would be a huge ask at this juncture to repeat last season.

Then again, there are still 105 points available…..

Nick Bruzon

Can we just go straight to Plan B?

27 Sep

Mark Warburton may have a Plan B up at Rangers (I don’t know, I don’t follow the Scottish Championship that closely) but he famously didn’t have one at Brentford. Marinus, on the other hand, does but as Sheffield Wednesday left Griffin Park with all three points yesterday, Brentford fans were left wondering why Plan A doesn’t seem to be working.

For the seventh time in eight league games we fell behind before, as we did last Saturday, stepping up our game considerably in the Second half. But unlike the game against Preston, where we stormed back to a 2-1 win, this time it was Sheffield Wednesday who achieved that scoreline – a 90th minute goal on the break from Lucas João being the ultimate difference between the two teams.

View from the terrace - the HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate at that point

View from the terrace. The HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate ….at that point

We can take positives from the way the team played for the majority of the second half, despite being down to ten men. The penalty awarded for James Tarkowski’s foul on Atdhe Nuhiu with less than 40 minutes on the clock saw the giant centre forward stroke it past David Button as well as, eventually, earning a red card for the fit again centre back.

It was a strange decision (the sending off, I mean). Indecisive referee Geoff Eltringham allowing himself to be harangued by Wednesday players before consulting a linesman who, eventually, helped him come to the decision of ‘straight red’. This, despite Jake Bidwell clearly being the last man back between Nuhiu and the goalkeeper.

Nuhiu is the sort of player you’d love in your team. Physical, huge presence and a proper nuisance. And he knew the way to goal – seeing an earlier effort come back off the bar. He went to ground very easily on more than one instance yet Eltringham saw nothing wrong in his game to warrant even a talking to, let alone a yellow, at any point.

Still, if Brentford went in a man and a goal down, they did everything to start fighting their way back into the game. Jack O’Connell had a stunning effort at the back with a number of perfectly timed tackles and challenges. It was a shame he was the unfortunate man in the wrong place at the wrong time for 2-1 as Brentford were exposed, pushing for a late winner.

Likewise, Josh Clarke at right back looked very impressive, especially bringing the ball out of defence. I’d be very interested to see him playing ahead of Alan Mac at some point, with the midfielder returning to that defensive role he’d made his own in the past.

With the Bees pressing, a goal seemed likely and finally it came – from the most unlikely of assists. David Button pushed almost to the half way line to curl a cross-field ball to Alan Judge. It was an exquisite delivery from a ‘keeper whose distribution has been lambasted in the past but the execution from Judge was even better.

A perfect trap and then shot across the goal into the far corner sent the crowd wild. Even the club staff celebrated that one to a fanatical level – a moment captured by the Football League Tonight and Beesplayer cameras.

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

At 1-1 and pushing it looked as though Brentford might snatch a winner that, in the first half, had been the last thing anybody expected. Instead, when the more prudent amongst us might have reverted to Plan A and locked things up to get an unlikely point, we went for it. You can’t knock Marinus’ desire and moreso with Wednesday also down to 10 men at this point.

But with the Bees in the Sheffield box, the ball broke and once Lucas João had picked O’Connell’s pocket, not even the Herculean David Button had sufficient strength to hold back the last minute one-on-one.

It was a bitter blow and moreso, having been given the hope of a route back into a game we had no chance of being anywhere near on the first half showing. Bees stat guru Luis Melville nailed it on twitter late last night with this very telling observation:

Luis's stats remain 'the bomb' (that's a good thing, I believe)

Luis’s stats remain ‘the bomb’ (that’s a good thing, I believe)

The positive is a chance to get straight back into action on Tuesday night against a Birmingham City side that hasn’t won in three (and went down at home to Rotherham United yesterday). The negative is that we haven’t really got a huge element of team choice, given the injury crisis and suspension for Tarks. Will the players have enough in the tank for another 90 minutes – moreso, against a team containing a few familiar faces in Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson?

Away from Griffin Park, the Pele cup took place at the training ground. The great man himself was, indeed, at Jersey Road where Cliff Crown was amongst the fortunate few to meet him. Hopefully they just discussed football, football, football (and, perhaps, Escape To Victory) rather than Pele’s foray into TV advertising. I would.

A moment I never thought I'd see - Pele and the Brentford chairman.

A moment I never thought I’d see – Pele and the Brentford chairman.

And then I did it. Football League Tonight. I sat through the full 90 minutes. Or should that be, stood.

Having previously given the show a good kicking on it’s debut (one which, for the record, I still stand by) it’s been pleasing to see the gimmicks fall away and, over the weeks, Channel 5 giving us a more traditional ‘highlights package’. So when the opportunity came to be an audience member, it seemed churlish to turn it down.

Being honest, I’m impressed. What we tend to take for granted is that this is a live show. Given how soon it is transmitted after the action ends, there’s no real choice but despite the problems they suffered in the opening weeks, fair play for sticking to that element. Moreso, with the ‘random’ element of an audience.

Not as bawdy as Soccer AM but sufficiently different from the Football League Show, they have now fused the better parts of each programme. Kelly Cates is definitely the show’s shining star and the chemistry from George Riley is growing.

The audience interview still seemed a bit stilted (then again, that could just be the price you pay for talking to MK Dons fans) although I do like the idea of this quick snapshot from the ‘regular fan’ aswell as the players – Barry Bannan of Sheffield Wednesday being the man brought in to admit, small consolation, that his team and been lucky to get the win.

As for Adam Virgo – I’m still not sure what to make of him. Part footballer, part Clem, part geography teacher. He’s no Leroy (still my favourite pundit from Manish’s Football League Show) but then again, he’s no Steve Claridge and is looking a lot more confortable in the role

Does it beat the Football League Show? No, not yet. Then again, football highlights shows have been in such a set style for so long that it is a format we’ve had drilled into us. You can’t knock Channel 5 for attempting to break from the norm and, moreso, acknowledge that their initial attempts to do so were somewhat OTT.

Will I watch again? Absolutely. Many of the previous gripes have been ironed out and Kelly, especially, did a great job (catching George with one particular zinger about his age and Top of the Pops). Ultimately, the show gives us what we need – the highlights, in order, with a number of extended games.

It’s just a shame that, with more focus on Brentford, we didn’t see the Bees pick up any points. Still, there’s always Tuesday. It won’t be easy and, being honest, I’m anxious.

Then again, Griffin Park under floodlights is a magical place and, IF we can start that one like we ended this one (the goal aside!) then who knows what could happen….

Mark Burridge certainly enjoys the Judge strike (along with the rest of the video highlights)

Nick Bruzon