Tag Archives: Steve Bruce

Here we go again…..

12 Sep

No sooner has the weekend gone than Brentford hit the road for a second away game in three days. Following the 0-0 with Aston Villa on Saturday, next up is tonight’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday. Can Dean Smith’s team make it 7th(seventh) time lucky and record a first league victory that, whilst our play has more than suggested should have come by now, currently remains tantalisingly out of reach?

I missed Aston Villa. Even in as much as being able to listen to Mark Burridge and team. Whatever the opposite of a footballing green card is, it was played by Mrs Bruzon as a long planned family weekend away took precedence over any lingering thoughts of a trip to Villa Park. Let alone keeping a crafty ear pinned to goings on in the Midlands. Instead, it was country walks through muddy fields as Brentford had, by all accounts, the lion’s share of the game against opponents who believed their own pre-season hype.

Mark talks us through the highlights

Twitter, as ever, a joy to behold from supporters (theirs) who had failed to recognise the Brentford potential and, instead, assumed us to be the pub team that our relative size (and wage bills) suggested. Even Dr. Tony Xia getting in on the act as Brentford’s Championship record against Aston Villa now reads : P3 W1 D2 L0 F4 A1.

We’ve said it countless times before and will no doubt say it again. Having a big stadium, a huge fanbase, a proud history and a ginormous wage bill doesn’t give you a divine right to be any good now. History counts for naff all when it’s 11 v11 trying to play your way out of what is, arguably, football’s toughest division. Just look at how Leeds United have fared since they dropped out of the Premier League in 2004.

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 08.31.03

Arrogance and over confidence. How many times will we see it?

All of which brings with sledgehammer like unsubtly to Sheffield Wednesday this evening. A former top flight team with a huge stadium and more than the odd bit of silverware to their name. They’re unbeaten in five league games with 2 wins and 3 draws seeing them sitting 10th in the fledgling Championship table. A midweek trip immediately after Villa, with less away fans than would normally have been expected (give the distance and Saturday’s exertions) would probably not have been on Dean Smith’s ‘wishlist’ . But can Brentford come away with anything?

Out recent form has been relatively positive. In the last five games we’ve only lost once, that being the trip to Ipswich Town where the Bees dominated for the first half hour before being caught by the consummate sucker punch. It is a run that has included three more draws in the league as well as the 4-1 thrashing administered to QPR in the league cup.

If ever anyone was going to suggest that the league table lies (it doesn’t) it would be now. Our play has been quite wonderful at times and, but for some inspired opposition ‘keepers / our own defence having the odd ‘walkabout’ moment then surely the W column would be registering at least 2 ? Nottingham Forest and Bristol City, I’m looking at you.

So can we go one better against Sheffield Wednesday tonight? Well, in short: Yes. Rico Henry is fit again which means we have a recognised left back once more. Harlee Dean is amongst those to have gone and, whatever your thoughts on that move, it does mean that at least we are closer to a settled centre back pairing. Ryan Woods was, by all accounts, at his best against Aston Villa whilst with Sergi Canos suffering that ankle blow there’ll be hopes that Flo Jo has recovered from the fever that caused him to miss Saturday’s game.

Club sponsor LeoVegas have us as long as 13/5 to win this one. That’s very generous in my eyes. Whilst the deeds to the house won’t be going on it, perhaps a little investment – purely for research purposes – is the order of the day.

Take my advice at your peril. Yet, at the same time, I’ve got a feeling something is going to give tonight. In a good way.

Here’s to 7.45pm when we find out.

Nick Bruzon

 

Advertisements

Who will win the Championship? Who will go down? What about the Bees? Who has the best new kit?

3 Aug

Almost there, Brentford fans. It’s Thursday morning. The Championship kicks off tomorrow evening before The Bees travel to Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon. But with three top ten finishes under our belts, is it now the time to look at stepping up? Or should we remain content just to swim in the same waters as Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves and all those other famous names? To stay safe. To look at holding station until such time as Lionel Road is ready for us to move in to?

Yesterday’s column on Jota and not ‘Jota’ ended with several questions of this nature. The predominant one being, what are your hopes for the forthcoming season? Well for what it’s worth, here’s my take on how the Championship is going to pan out.

Starting with Brentford, the summer has been an exciting one. On the transfer front it has been one way traffic inward with, to date, nobody leaving bar The Hoff. Even KK and Jack Bonham have only gone out on loan. There has been no Jota to West Ham. No Ryan Woods to Sunderland. No Harlee Dean to Sheffield Wednesday. No Rico Henry to Hull City. No Romanine Sawyers to Southend United (and apologies – but that one really did appear) . So far…

Instead we have bought what would seem to be incredibly astutely. The EFL young player of the year in Ollie Watkins and South African international Kamo Mokotjo are the two names immediately grabbing our attention. The former because of the potential and our beating off a host of other clubs to his signature. These include a Nottingham Forest side who let Britt Assombalonga go to Middlesbrough and are now relying on veteran striker Daryl Murphy. Prolific in his day although never forget ‘that’ miss.

Murphy miss FLS Ipswich

And Murphy must score. Erm….

Kamo is getting Bees fans excited simply due to the fact of how skillful and how comfortable he already looks. Translating pre-season into real life form will be another thing, but the early signs are wonderfully positive. We seem to have genuine competition in pretty much every position. Just the amount of different stories that have appeared about our players over the summer show how strong our squad has become.

Of course, let’s not rest on our laurels here. The season may begin this weekend but that godforsaken transfer window still remains open until August 31. As we’ve seen in the past, players can come and go well after the campaign has begun. Andre Gray being a most recent example where, despite his two goals in two games at the beginning of the Marinus era, the inevitable sale to Burnley went through straight after.

Yet, at the same time, the current signs are positive. Fingers crossed it can stay that way. If Matthew Benham can juggle the finances to keep this squad together then we have the potential to be amongst the best in the league.

Little Brentford punching above their weight”. Not my words but those of just about every pundit outside of TW8 in recent times.

B*llocks” . They’re my words.

The last three years we’ve done what we have on merit. Reaching the play-offs for the Premier League in our first Championship season may have caught a few people unawares but it was fully deserved on our play. Coming out the other side of the Marinus experiment to end ninth, equally justified – despite that post Christmas wobble.

But for a ropey patch in the autumn last time around we could well have pushed on then. The football in the second half of the season, freed from the understandable obligation to play everything through Scott Hogan and reinvigorated by the returning Spanish duo of Jota and Sergi, was simply breathtaking.

We destroyed Aston Villa at Griffin Park. Absolutely destroyed them. You could say the same for the home games with Derby County. With Leeds United. With QPR, for whom Jake Bidwell probably has ongoing nightmares. Police still involved in that one (not literally), after reports of Jota picking his pocket more than once.

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 06.22.24

‘Official’ love him, too

I don’t buy any of this small club nonsense. I fully know our history and have been coming to Griffin Park since 1979. Absolutely, it is a privilege to play at the level given some of the low points we’ve been through. But that doesn’t mean we should be showing any defference, any OTT respect, any form of “we’re just happy to be here’ humility. Just as nobody has a divine right to ‘be any good’ (see: Arsenal), equally just because you have humble origins you shouldn’t go into it expecting bad things to happen. Have some confidence in our ability. Our perceived size is an advantage. It is an advantage we should play up to.

We’ve taken so many teams and pundits by surprise already. I’m convinced it will happen again. My call for the Bees was initially 6th at the start of the summer. In recent weeks I’ve revised that to fifth. I’m sticking to that and nailing my colours to the mast here. Brentford to finish fifth.

Optimistic? Stupid? Naive? Whichever – I’m here to have fun this season and am only looking upwards.

Casting the net further afield, it is not a view shared by other sources. Middlesbrough and Aston Villa remain favourites to win the league. The former, I can fully understand. They’ve only ever been a force at this level (move along, nothing to see here….) whilst boosted by both the goals of Assombalonga and the parachute payments from the Premier League will be exceptionally strong . I’m agreeing with the experts on this one.

Villa though? No. No. No. I can’t see them finishing in the top six. The were horrific last season. Only good for betting on 1-1 scorelines, <2.5 goals and away L. The hype around John Terry surely more distraction than yardstick of genuine aspiration. I find it inconceivable that Steve Bruce will have turned things around this much over the summer. Stranger things have happened, of course, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Instead, Sheffield Wednesday are the team that will finally come good and take the second spot. Celebrating their 150th year with some cracking new kits, to boot (in my opinion, and not including our own, the best shirts in the Championship ) they’ll go up after knocking on the door for so long. Joining Brentford in the play-offs will be Norwich City, Fulham and Leeds United. Pick your order for these three. Much as I’m loathe to admit it, the Cottagers played some wonderful football last season. Their stadium may well be a hotbed of neutrality but, on the field, they showed they can more than do their stuff these days.

image

Sheffield Wednesday to play as good as they’ll look?

Bottom three. Millwall, Ipswich Town and QPR for me. The former just too out of their depth whilst the Tractor Boys and not so super hoops have only gone backwards. With no real inward investment and a team that has only stagnated, those days of top flight football are a long, long way away.

Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. What do I know? Not much. I’ll happily hold up my hands when this all gets proven wrong, One man’s opinion is another’s comedy.

Club sponsor LeoVegas has us ranked joint 11th to win the league at 25/1. Do they know something we don’t?

Likewise FourFourTwo magazine have just published their season preview. Available now from all good newsagents, they call Brentford to finish 10th. Don’t let that or the fact that yours truly wrote the piece on The Bees (Klanggggggg; the sound of a name being dropped) put you off, though. It’s actually a great read.

442

Season preview edition now available

The other follow up we need to do from yesterday is in regards to Jota. Or, specifically ‘Jota’. Of Wolves. You may recall that the EFL have told Wolves that he needs to have his real surname, Silva, on his shirt rather than what they deem to be his nickname.

All well and good, although my own subsequent thought was what this might mean for us? Should we even be able to hang on to him, of course. An awkward look in the other direction being the immediate reaction.

However,Twitter user Ben (@BenPlumb97) has put the question out there in cyberspace. Thankfully, the legend that is Kitman Bob has stepped up to answer.

And relax 🙂

Bob Tweet re Jota

Nick Bruzon

What’s worse than a hashtag? Two hashtags. And a fake Whatsapp

4 Jul

Roll on August. Please. As tumbleweed continues to blow through the Championship, something actually happened yesterday. Brentford haven’t signed/sold anybody although Aston Villa have – and it would be fair to say they are wetting themselves over picking up a past his prime John Terry from Chelsea. Elsewhere, we’ve dodged the TV cameras with the latest fixtures up until the end of September. And there’s shock news there for Leeds United fans.

Clanggggg. The sound of a name being dropped. This week I wrote the annual season preview for FourFourTwo magazine, looking at the good and bad of Brentford, along with a number of other Championship based questions. One of which being – Who will be the biggest pantomime villain in the Championship this season?

I did think about Aston Villa super fan Simon Hateley – still smarting from all his bravado last season coming back to royally bite him. What was Villa’s record against the Bees? Ah yes, P 2 W0 D1 L1 GD -3 and £15m handed over – thanks for that.

But then it really would be too niche and, besides, Hateley fits more in the category of unintentional comedian rather than poor man’s Christopher Biggins. That said, he’s still going strong on Twitter at the moment, declaring his own Scott Hogan a ‘bag of shite’ this week. And you can follow him etc at @simonchateley.

Sadly, magazine deadlines ahead of an August publication got in the way of choosing a player who would surely have won the poll hands down. Aston Villa new boy, John Terry.

In the most cringeworthy of press releases – a simulated WhatsApp conversation between Dr. Tony Xia (the man going neck and neck with Vincent Tan as the Championship’s poor man’s Bond villain) – the news was released yesterday. In it, (current) manager Steve Bruce was given the news that Villa had got their man from Chelsea.

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 05.42.56

Oh, you couldn’t make it up. Toes are curling just looking at this news now. I’m not sure what’s worse. The cheesy press release or the fact they’ve signed this most disruptive and washed up of players. No premier League club have touched him. No MLS side – surely the standard cash cow for any past their prime ‘name’ – have made an offer he can’t refuse . No side challenging for Championship promotion have gone near him. I can’t wait to see us run rings around the rusty old legs. September 9th can’t come soon enough.

There were multiple hashtags for this one. #WelcomeJT and #PartOfThe Pride. Still nowhere near #Bignewambitions or #Trophyfriends but at least we’ve dropped all that nonsense now. Good luck to Villa, seriously.

Whilst Hateley was unusually silent on the subject, comments on Twitter from other fans included: “Most high profile signing at Villa for years.” ,”Im over the moon with this, great signing, leading by example, UTV” and “Can not wait until I see the legend he is at villa park, what a sight that will be!” I fear this is a massive gamble that will only end in disappointment – whether for Terry’s new admirers or his team mates.

Give me Harlee Dean, any day.

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 05.45.41

JT is a Villan. Indeed

Elsewhere, the latest round of TV fixtures has been announced. Brentford have managed to swerve the cameras whilst perennial Sky favourites Leeds United only appear once. Not a typo. The club that have had more appearances than Steve Claridge has had clubs have only been picked for their trip to Sunderland. Infact, there seems to be a real mixture of teams being shown for the games prior to 9 September.

That said, we’re not out of the woods yet with 14 July being the final date for the last September games to be announced. Fulham and QPR are amongst those to also avoid rearrangement, so far. Surely West London won’t avoid selection come the next round.

This is all part and parcel of being in the Championship, of course. Griffin Park has been a popular place for the cameras over the last few seasons and it’s no doubt a matter of time before our number is up. At least we can do some train booking in relative confidence though and with Sky having opted for Sheffield Wednesday v Nottingham Forest on September 9th, at least our trip to see Scott Hogan, John Terry (assuming not dropped, suspended/injured by that stage) et al remains as is

The full list of TV fixtures to date on ‘official’ .

bees-celebrate-at-villa-park

Brentford will return to Villa Park at 3pm on 9 Sep

AUTHOR’S PLUG – (it’s all for charity).

And if you’d like to read more about last season including those wins over Villa and Leeds, amongst others 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 the office?

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

Will there be more of the same at a price that, surely, is beyond generous?

4 Feb

Saturday morning. Match day. Except, of course, it isn’t. Brentford fans have to wait an extra day for the chance to see if we can match Tuesday night’s annihilation of Aston Villa. This time around, the visitors are none other than Brighton. A team who, whilst managing to reel in and then fend off long term runaway leaders Newcastle United, went down 3-1 at Huddersfield Town in front of the Sky TV cameras on Thursday night.

killer-bees-seagull

Will the Seagulls fall victim to Dean’s killer Bees?

There’ll never be a better time for the Bees to take on the Seagulls. Brentford blew away Aston Villa on Tuesday night as though they were nothing more inconvenient than an empty crisp packet. 3-0 really doesn’t even begin to do justice to a scoreline that saw added width courtesy of Florian Jozefzoon and the wonderful Jota.

It was something noted by Dean, who used his press conference to note that “They give us an extra dimension and that enabled me to flip the system on Tuesday” (and, as ever, you can read his full interview on ‘official’).

With one defender less and more room in the middle of the pitch, Dean set his team up in much more balanced and positive formation than we’d seen in a long time. The results more than justified the tactical reshuffle. And this is before the returning Sergi Canos has even got a look in. Whilst I can’t imagine he’ll start in this one, I can already hear the reception he’ll get coming off the bench.

img_5398

Jota was back in the starting XI on Tuesday night

The big question now being whether it was a one off or if we can expect more of the same against Brighton? I hope so. Desperately. Tuesday night saw genuinely exciting football as the Bees, perhaps with a point to prove to Scott Hogan, tore Villa a new one.

Brighton, meanwhile, may well be back in second place by the time we cross paths. Newcastle United play on Saturday although a visit from Derby County won’t be the easiest fixture in the calendar. Yet if they can get the win, that adds the pressure to Albion. Especially if third placed Reading can also do the business at hapless Ipswich Town. A win for the Royals will take them to within just two points of Brighton.

Then, of course, we’ve got Thursday night to consider. Nobody needs a midweek trip to Huddersfield at the best of times, let alone when you then put in a performance that Chris Hughton would later describe saying, “Every now and again you get a real bad one, and that was a real bad one.

Perhaps he should compare notes with Steve Bruce !  To compound their misery, highly rated defender Lewis Dunk was shown the red card so misses out at Griffin Park.

One can’t help but think Brighton will be exhausted. With little over 48 hours to recover from the game and subsequent trip back from Yorkshire to the South coast, they are back on the road again.  Whilst we’ve all been victims to the vagaries of TV scheduling, this one seems extreme and yet another example of the TV companies putting teams and fans firmly in second place.

The question being if Dean Smith and his team can take advantage of this gift we’ve been offered. Brentford have already beaten Brighton in the corresponding fixture – becoming the only team this season to leave the Amex with all three points. Can we now become the first to do the double over the Seagulls? Could Sergi cause havoc in the final twenty minutes as tiredness starts to tell?

At odds of 11/5 with club sponsors 888, it seems to be free money for anybody looking to invest. Surely that’s too generous a price?

On Sunday afternoon, we find out.

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-08-01-44

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees stung by Wasp comments as hashtags return. An (international) week in football

14 Nov

Brentford have redesigned their club crest for a new, less busy take on our 70’s Bee. QPR joined Newcastle United and Aston Villa in the lame hashtag stakes as, like the latter had done last month, they announced a second manager of the season. On pitch, there were no Championship fixtures , given it was an International weekend in which Cyprus – Gibraltar and England – Scotland were the two big ones. That said, we did have the return of the much maligned Checkatrade trophy.

That’s the latest football action in a nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

As ever, we start with Brentford where the new club crest met with praise, much split opinion and even a clarification in regards to the role of BIAS, or lack of, in the consultation process. From a personal note, I stick with my gut reaction of being very much in the pro-camp whilst the whole wasp-gate debate was, frankly, hilarious. Yet I can understand people’s reaction to change being a tough one to swallow – many of our supporters will only have ever known the cluttered clipart.

We’ve done this to death now. The only further comment I’ll make is in regards to an observation levelled at the new design from Brentford’s memorabilia guru (and do check Paul’s fantastic blog site). Specifically that it looked like a Watford cast off – with example being provided. If anything, the former accusation could be better levelled at Spiderman’s chest logo than our new crest .

The other Brentford news, as such, was a story by Tom Moore in regards to Josh McEachran. Was this an unfortunate choice of words in the headline, have we been given too much information or just deliberate click-baitery?

image

Down the road at QPR, the club finally dispensed of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. In his place, comes Ian Holloway (remember him, the chap who tipped us for a struggling campaign of relegation back in August). With his arrival, comes that favourite of these pages – the crap hashtag.

This season has already seen the likes of #JoinTheRafalution – Newcastle United and #welcomesteve – Aston Villa. Indeed, QPR themselves have already used #jakejoins when they signed a left back. Now we can add another entrant to the list.

image

Sadly, it seems nobody had told Jimmy. As of Saturday his Twitter account still claimed he was their manager whilst at close of play on Sunday he was still pictured holding the shirt.

image

The other domestic news was the return of the Checkatrade trophy. Something even less popular than Donald Trump and Nigel Farrage hanging out in a gold plated elevator.

image

You know things are bad when even the teams taking part are having a pop at the tournament.

image

You know things are bad when even the referee needs to be replaced from the crowd.

image

Yet things are also wonderful when something like this happens.

image

image

On the international front, Mexico gave a wonderful response to the week in politics. Insert your own ‘defensive wall’ comment. And what a source to deliver this news.

image

In the World Cup, Gibraltar went down in Cyprus but got off lightly compared to Estonia.And the boys from the Rock still did better than Scotland as at least they managed a goal. Indeed, the Scots found news of their 3-0 defeat hard to take.

image

Yet the same could be said about England fans. At least, those who sat through this one.

image

image

image

 

Roll on the return of league football.

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees reach new heights at Newcastle, Villa do their thing whilst pigs can fly. A week in football.

17 Oct

Brentford went down 3-1 at Newcastle United, who were overtaken in the race to the top of the table by Norwich City. Tuesday night’s opponents Derby County got off to a winning start under new manager Steve McClaren whilst the other team to replace their boss, Aston Villa, churned out yet another draw. That’s 8 out of 12 now for the Villains who sit just one point above the relegation zone. Making up the bottom three are Wigan, Blackburn and Rotherham

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

Whilst it was a week which began with the next round of World Cup qualifiers we’ll start, as ever, with Brentford. Our trip to Newcastle was one which ended in disappointment. Fan opinion seemed to be largely that the moment got the better of us.

But whatever happened on the pitch, nobody could doubt the fans had fun. And what a sight.

Looking down on the action at Newcastle was a unique experience. A wonderful opportunity to watch play unfold or the last of us just making it down from the 14 flights of stairs now?

Brentford aren’t  the only ones travelling well. For all that nobody is sniggering at the plight Aston Villa find themselves in , you can’t deny their fans are fiercely loyal.

That’s great work. Seriously. Getting home from that one isn’t going to be fun. At least Villa will have a point to celebrate with (the draw currently at a very generous 23/10).

Aston Villa weren’t the only ones to pick up a point. As Norwich City went top, Ipswich Town laboured to a 0-0 with Blackburn. Bad enough, without your neighbours then putting the boot in .

Charlton Athletic also had trouble on the pitch before eventually putting Coventry City to the sword. Given their high profile relations (or lack of) with their supporters it was nice to see them doing all possible to maintain a sense of perspective.

It wasn’t just pigs invading football pitches at the weekend. There were dogs joining in the action, too

Next up, kit news. And there’s lots of it. With Brentford celebrating their 4,000th league game on Saturday there had been a hope we might have worn some form of celebratory shirt. Whilst this doesn’t seem to be the case (as it stands), over in the Netherlands Sparta have taken that idea forward.

What a beauty. That said, whilst I’m all for a retro style shirt, let’s hope Derby County don’t go down that route on Tuesday night . This one flashed across my timeline on Friday.

Bolton Wanderers are also making the headlines. Their kitman not a patch on our own Bob Oteng. Certainly, if this is the best he can come up with.

Whilst the club may not be giving us a special kit for Saturday, let’s hope the marketing team aren’t casting their eyes towards Portugal. Just when you thought there was nothing left for a club to stick their name on, think again.

There were international games at the start of the week, too. Nobody needs any reminder of that so we’ll keep it to two that seem to sum things up nicely.

But we’ll finish with clowns. Not the crazy killer variety but over at Loftus Road where, it seems, they are struggling with the atmosphere.

Oh dear.

Nick Bruzon 

A tale of two Steves as Dean stays in charge where it counts

13 Oct

With Brentford making final preparations for Saturday’s trip to Newcastle United, we can at least be safe in the knowledge that any chance of Dean Smith going to Aston Villa has now officially been snuffed out. On a day of managerial change, not only was Steve Bruce named in charge at Villa Park but Steve McClaren has, seemingly out of nowhere, been reinstalled at Derby County. The same Derby County team that we visit on Tuesday evening.

First up, Aston Villa. Despite the early talk about our own Dean Smith being linked with that one it was never anything more than a story. At least, based on outward appearances. Personally, and I said at the time, there didn’t seem any chance of this happening for multiple reasons and this has now proven to be the case.

It’s great news for Brentford and, one would hope, for Aston Villa. Some fans will be relieved they haven’t inherited the manager of a ‘pub side’. Others might have some concern about a man who was in charge of local rivals Birmingham City from 2001-07.

That latter point, aside from getting stick from the opposition fans when the two sides meet, would seem to be largely irrelevant though. As long as a team is doing well then it is an awful lot easier to look at the past through rose tinted glasses.

Then again, he walks into a hotbed of expectation.

Tim Sherwood was in charge of Aston Villa back in October 2015 (hmm, that went well). A year later they’ve been through Sherwood, Kevin MacDonald, Remi Garde, Eric Black and of course Roberto di Matteo. Twelve months on and Bruce now has what was previously described as less a hot seat and more an electric chair.

And, of course, there is the additional pressure of a hashtag. The club announced his arrival with use of this cringeworthy social media device (see also: #Jakejoins). At this rate, surely we’re only a short step away from a meme to announce a new signing?

Nobody knows how this will turn out. It’ll be fun finding out though.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-05-59-55

Steve joins at Villa; Dean stays with his pub side

But the really interesting news yesterday surrounded Derby County and Steve McClaren. Of course,  the one time umbrella wielding manager has been there before. He and Derby parted company in 2015 amidst much interest from a Newcastle United side he would eventually join (hmm, that went well) and hot off the back of that self-destruct as they threw away an almost nailed on place in the play-offs.

Brentford were just one of the beneficiaries as the Rams somehow lost 3-0, at home, to a very average Reading side who had literally nothing to play for. Indeed, our 2-0 win over them the weekend before had further knocked the stuffing out of the Royals in their final home game of that campaign. The Bees’ reward for that capitulation,  a two legged semi with Middlesbrough. Move along, nothing to see here.

But will it work again? McClaren’s time at Newcastle was an unmitigated disaster, I’m sorry to say. He has that emotional pressure of the way his England career panned out – a disaster on the pitch and widely ridiculed off it –  whilst he is as known for his infamous Dutch accent as his two stints in charge of Eredivise side Twente. That, a role he would also be obliged to resign from.

Frankly, he seems to have more lives than a cat yet still boards come back to him. I’m not sure what just what it is that he posesses but it’s going to be interesting finding out.

steve-mcclaren-cat

Can Steve the cat stay out of the rain this time?

Both Bruce and McClaren will have expectation from their own fans aswell as heckling from the visiting supporters to deal with. In the case of Aston Villa, one can only assume this will be limited to a few games here and there – the Birmingham s and Wolves of this world. But for McClaren, with terrace wags knowing just how many roles (and play offs) his teams have eventually choked, he could be in for a rough ride should things not get off to anything but a flier.

Forget the weight of expectation, that umbrella is the real baggage he carries around with him. Here’s hoping it is still weighing him down when Brentford visit on Tuesday.

Before that, though, is the small matter of our visit to Newcastle on Saturday. The Bees will be there in huge numbers, with chief executive Mark Devlin giving local journalists a free story with his latest ’tweet’ on ticket sales. For a club our size, the travelling fans have always gone in impressive numbers and this is no different.Close to 3,000 for the long trek up to the North-East isn’t to be sniffed at.

Great work, one and all. Let’s hope the team, and Dean Smith – our head coach – do them justice on the pitch.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

The three favourites for Aston Villa – agree? Will Dean run away and join the circus?

4 Oct

They’ve only gone and done it. After just 123 days in charge at Aston Villa, Roberto di Matteo has been shown the door. With Brentford boss Dean Smith one of those at the top of supporters’ and bookmakers’ lists as a favourite for the role, could he have taken charge at Griffin Park for the last time? Or is somebody else destined for what is less a hot seat and more an electric chair?

image

The current runners and riders

To even be discussing this now smacks of madness anyway. Nobody can deny that Aston Villa were one of the teams at the start of the 80s. Thirty-five years ago. But that was then and this is now. To put it into context, Roberto di Matteo was just starting primary school when they lifted the European cup.

Yet despite his pedigree of having already taken West Brom up from the Championship aswell as the not inconsiderable tasks of bringing the FA Cup and European cup to the Chelsea trophy cabinet, this wasn’t deemed good enough for the long term. Doctor Tony Xia, who always puts me in mind of a low budget Bond villain, has eliminated his manager and now starts the hunt for a new one. But who?

Steve Bruce is the bookies favourite. Currently without a club having taken Hull City back into the Premier League, he is both available and has form at this level. But could the Birmingham City factor play a part here. Especially if things don’t go so well?

The football on offer over the last 15 months hasn’t been great and so he’d face a huge challenge in having to make an immediate impact.

Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner is the current darling of the Championship. There is no baggage with him and nothing but positivity as The Terriers have defied the pundits to storm it to the top of the table. If there is anything negative to be said it is that the headlines about Wagner always make me think of the one decent act ever to emerge from TV’s X-Factor.

image

Wagner – not to be confused with…

Yet why would Wagner leave? Unless, of course, he was voted out. Here is a chance to achieve something special with Huddersfield Town. A well settled team, playing strong football, are already knocking on the door of the top flight. They have loyal support and a great stadium. It would be a huge risk for him to jump ship so soon. One there is currently no need to take.

And so it comes back to Brentford and Dean Smith. A man whose family are Villa fans and who has seen the Bees get off to their best start since our return to the Championship. A man whose run at the end of last season saw us fall just short of the play-off zone.

Yet like Wagner, why would he want to leave a team on the up and so soon into his Griffin Park career? Dean has been here less than a year whilst also endured his own mini crisis at the start of 2016. A woeful run saw us, by his own admission, in a relegation battle. Matthew Benham kept very public faith in his man and it has been well rewarded. Would Dr. Xia have done the same?

For all the jibes that Brentford have endured on social media, our man is going nowhere. And you can quote me on that.

Instead, you have to look further down the list to the likes of Steve Clarke or even Sam Allardyce for the likely candidates. Yet the media circus that Sam would bring has surely ruled him out of any job (this month)? At a time when the club needs some stability he’s the last man to approach.

The trouble would seem to be expectation levels. With Brentford being, undeniably, a small club – albeit one on the up – we’ve seen this all before. Leeds United have been huge on the tinpot cracks since our paths have crossed whilst Wolves were hurling the abuse about their status relative to ours when that fixture returned to the calendar back in League One days. Now you can add Villa to the list.

image

Yesterday’s pick of the tweets

But just as balls in the back of the net are the only stat that counts, having once lifted a cup or two in the last century doesn’t give you a divine right to ‘be any good’ now. Frankly, Dean Smith has no need to run away and join the circus. Even if he is asked.

Aston Villa have, without doubt, a wonderful heritage and a magnificent stadium. Yet with patience a commodity in short supply at Villa Park, and the twiterrati having ideas well above their recent form, good luck to whomever gets the role.

villa-park-wideangle

Villa Park – A stadium we can only aspire to

Nick Bruzon

And the winner is….announced very early but fully deserved

6 Nov

Brentford fans have woken up to the news that Saturday’s game against Blackburn Rovers has just been made all that harder. This, after Lee Carsley pipped Steve Bruce of Hull City, amongst others, to the much coveted ‘Manager of the Month’ award for October. And whilst, of course, Lee deserves nothing but the hugest congratulations, the associated ‘jinx’ that comes with it (scoop the award, lose your next game) will be something he needs all his powers to overcome.

Spoiler alert - its a Bees double for October

Spoiler alert – its a Bees double for October

Considering Lee’s long-term reluctance to take on this sort of role, one can‘t deny the impact he has had although, equally, he is quick to recognise the help provided by his assistant, Paul Williams. In an article that went live on the official site in the small hours of Friday morning (somebody may have been reading at 1.35am ) he said, “If I could cut the award in half, he would get the other half. I see this as a reward for a great team effort over the month.”

Whoever gets the kudos, to be recognised in such a fashion just five weeks after taking over from Marinus is an incredible achievement. The transformation has been a stunning one whilst, whatever else happens this season, Lee has guided us to victory over our fiercest rivals.

Whilst the jinx worthy amongst us may now be worried about what comes next on Saturday, the oft-quoted stat regarding the post-award defeat is one that has, to be fair, bypassed Brentford in recent years. Both Uwe and Warbs (twice) have managed to dodge it. Could Lee continue that trend at Blackburn?

Well, Brentford supporters will be hoping that October’s player of the month is available to help him with this challenge.

Alan Judge made it a Brentford double, picking up the onfield prize. And if Steve Bruce thought he might have had a shout for the managerial top spot after Hull City had stormed to the top of the Championship table, nobody could have disputed Alan’s reward.

Three goals and four assists have seen the Bees firing on all cylinders and the opposition left very much in his wake. His absence was definitely felt in Tuesday night’s game against Hull, such is the impact he has had. The club’s YouTube video, whilst ending on a precautionary note about his potential availability for this weekend, sees the Judge in enthusiastic form talking about the month just gone.

Congratulations due to Alan.

Whatever happens this weekend and this month, the season has a long way to go. Lee Carsley and his back room team have done a stunning job in reversing our fortunes. Regardless of results, it is as much the way we are playing football.

With the likes of Josh McEachran, Jota and Lewis Macleod due to return to first team fitness soon, that style of football is one we could be set to enjoy even more.

Nick Bruzon

The stuff of dreams becomes a nightmare

5 Nov

What a time of contrasting managerial emotions for Brentford and QPR. Hot off the heels of our derby day victory over the Loftus Road outfit (a three points that Derby County then enjoyed on Tuesday night) Rangers have parted company with Chris Ramsey. Lee Carsley, meanwhile, has just been announced in the shortlist for manager-of-the-month.

I take no pleasure in anybody losing his or her job. Regardless of the team. Indeed, it doesn’t seem like five minutes ago we were embroiled in Village-gate and Mark Warburton was hot favourite to take over at QPR. Instead, with Tony Fernandes announcing that he was close to announcing his ‘dream manager’, Warbs eventually went to Rangers (the Glasgow incarnation) whilst Chris Ramsey took over at Loftus Road.

How things changed. Rangers exited the Premier League; Brentford came to within a play off game of making it. And now, with the Bees on the charge once more, QPR continue their slide downwards.

No doubt their fans and top brass will be worried they are looking like following the recent likes of Wolves directly into the Division One. With it, will come potential games against the likes of Mansfield Town, Carlisle and Accrington Stanley next season. Whilst I can’t see it happening it does show how fleeting football form can be.

Lee Carsley, meanwhile, has received the expected ‘reward’ for an October that saw us pick up 12 points out of 15 and four successive wins. Will he scoop the final honour? Well, being honest, I expect it to go to Steve Bruce at Hull City – they were unbeaten and a point better off. Likewise, victory over us on Tuesday (albeit in November) saw them reach the top of the Championship table.

The Bees came close but couldn't get past Hull on Tuesday

The Bees came close but couldn’t get past Hull on Tuesday

Either way, it is a tremendous reversal of form following the days of Marinus and Roy.

And nowhere more has this been typified than in Alan Judge, who is also up for the player-of-the-month award. His four assists, three goals and scintillating play make him a very genuine candidate for this award. Ironically, former Bee Andre Gray, who has been scoring goals for fun at Burnley, could be a very serious rival for this one.

Whatever happens, I’d rather be in our situation than that of Rangers who, this morning, will be sorting through the monogrammed CR tracksuits and starting the search for their next dream manager.

As for us, whilst I’d hope Lee wins the prize I can’t look past Steve Bruce. Although, should he do it, then get ready to bet against Hull City at the weekend.

We all know how that jinx normally works.

Alan Judge - has been on fire (not literally) in October

Alan Judge – has been on fire (not literally) in October

Nick Bruzon