Tag Archives: Sunderland

Could we have to make any tougher a decision? What a choice awaits.

25 Apr

Monday really was a day that saw us entering the final days of the current Championship campaign. Newcastle United confirmed their return to the Premier League, although the battle with Brighton to see which of the teams who achieved automatic promotion will be crowned champions is one which will could still go down to the final round of games. And on the subject of winning titles (oh, the subtly) Brentford have officially opened voting for the 2016/17 player of the year.

We all know what’s happened at Griffin Park this season. The second half of the campaign especially has seen some of the most free flowing and exciting football to be played by Brentford in years. This, despite the sale of top scorer Scott Hogan to Aston Villa in January.

Yet following that move, the Bees have flourished. Lasse Vibe has moved to within one strike of the former Bee in the Championship leading scorer’s table, with Jota just behind. Ah, Jota. To say he has had an eventful return to Griffin Park would be like saying the Titanic had a few stability issues.

Few of us honestly thought he’d be back after heading out to Eibar on loan, myself included. And even when there was talk of a possible return, being quite honest there was no way he could match former glories. Especially with the weight of expectation on his shoulders. Was there?

He hasn’t just matched them but taken his, and our, game to a whole new level. We’ve all seen the goals, the runs and the beautiful touches that have left opposition players floundering. Richard Keogh (Derby County) and Jake Bidwell (QPR) being just the latest to have been left with egg on face .

Yet Jota seems to play for pure pleasure. Something that could also be said of fellow Spaniard Sergi Canos out on the other wing. His return to Brentford has been an equally wonderful one.

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Danni showed perfectly how Twitter can be used to capture the current mood.

Then there are the new boys. Rico Henry has hit the ground running at 100mph whilst John Egan’s performance have propelled him toward selection for the Republic of Ireland. Romaine Sawyers has scored some stunners whilst, at times, totally bossed the midfield. His defence splitting passes are a thing of absolute beauty whilst Saturday against QPR saw me wondering if he had no fear, no danger sense or just supreme confidence – such were the deft touches and trickery he demonstrated.

How about Dan Bentley? What can you say about him beyond a huge doffing of the hat? The prospect of losing David Button was one that genuinely worried me but he’s not even been missed, such is the huge impact Dan has made. You could probably count the mistakes on the fingers of one finger yet the world class saves have been legion. He kept us alive on more than one occasion at the start of the season as the team found our collective feet and, right up to Saturday, has continued to pull top draw saves out of the bag.

As for the (metaphorical) elder statesmen, it really is a case of unsung heroes. Ryan Woods has, at times, seemed to be filling three midfield roles in his constant quest to tackle and distribute. He really is a serious contender for this season’s honour. Yoann Barbet has proven just why he was picked out in our new look recruitment drive with wonderful tackles and a fair few goals being added to his game. Pity Dean Smith having to pick between him, John Egan and Harlee.

Ah, Harlee Dean. The player on a one man mission to become the new Mr Brentford. He has been incredible. A colossus at the back this season, up there with the likes of Terry Evans. He’s had to learn his game over the last few seasons but now it is complete, just what a player. The tackles, the voice, the leading by example, the goals, the back heels (hmm, maybe not too many of those). He’s doubled up as a last minute target man whilst those driving runs forward have been a wonderful development to his style of play.

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Harlee – has led by example all season. A fine role model.

What about Nico? Josh? Max Colin? Any of them. It really is a tough call this time around. Reading the Ben Burgess article in the match day programme on Saturday, he was bemoaning the fact that so much player of the year voting takes place in February. Certainly, for the national awards. Yet this despite the season still having a third of the way to go.

It really was fascinating piece and, from a personal perspective, Ben’s column has been one of the standout features in the match day programme this time around. What an honour for the club to have some truly intelligent writing on the back page !

Well Ben, when it comes to Brentford you have your wish. The only question now being who to vote for. Good luck anybody trying to pick one out of those. And for those wishing to have their say, ‘official’ have the full details and form on the club website.

As for next season, the Championship has been nothing more than a one shot deal for Newcastle United. The Rafalution has been a triumphant one (despite the awful, awful hashtag) and at least we can rest easy in not needing to pack the mountaineering gear next campaign. Massive congratulations to the Magpies and, of course, Brighton for what was a supremely exciting battle.

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Worst. Hashtag. Ever. But a great performance from Newcastle United

Despite being Bookies’ favourites, Newcastle haven’t had it all their own way with pundits being reminded, yet again, that the Championship isn’t the cake walk a big club might expect. Aston Villa, we’re looking at you. Indeed, even the title looks a long way off with a four point deficit and two games to play keeping the Magpies just about alive in that race. Whilst you’d fancy the Seagulls to scoop the title, anything can happen in football and nobody at Griffin Park needs any reminders about what can happen in the final promotion shootout. I’m pretty sure there was something about a penalty?

Instead, they look certain to be replaced by Sunderland and Middlesbrough, at the very least. The trip to Sunderland one already being anticipated by many at Griffin Park whilst Middlesbrough will be very familiar territory.

Still, all that’s for another time. We’ve got two more games and a higher finish than last season to focus on. And, of course, deciding on just who to vote for.

I now know what my decision is, but I don’t fancy yours much. What a choice.

Nick Bruzon

Palace and Arsenal write a chapter for our next season as Bees beat QPR. Again.

11 Apr

With Brentford safe in the Championship for another season and the playoffs a leap too far, thoughts turn to who we’ll be facing in 2017/18. Last night’s Crystal Palace – Arsenal game has given more than a few clues as to how that’s going to pan out. Elsewhere, there was sad news for QPR who have had to make a somewhat embarrassing retraction (stop sniggering) whilst local news site Get West London appear to have finally jumped the shark.

First up Crystal Palace. For a time it looked as they were being slowly sucked towards the Premier League relegation battle. A 0-4 thumping by Sunderland, swiftly followed by a reverse at the hands of Stoke City, had eyes lighting up in West London as the Eagles slid down, down (deeper and down). Could we have another local fixture, with the Bees going to the Palace next season? Would there be a kit obsessive programme feature including that most iconic of shirts, the red and blue sash sported by Brentford legend Neil Smillie?

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Then Big Sam and his troops got their act together, won four in a row and despite hitting a bump at Southampton, had the pleasure of playing Arsenal last night. And what a pleasure it was for the neutral. A 3-0 win for Palace makes their own safety a lot more likely and, with it, a straight shoot out between Hull City and Swansea City for the privilege of joining all but mathematically doomed Middlesbrough and Sunderland at Griffin Park next season.

It’s a shame from one respect. I was quite looking forward to the prospect of a hop across London to Selhurst Park next season. It would have been a new ground to see Brentford play at but instead we can do nothing but offer Palace congratulations on a job well done in recent weeks.

The other factor is the listening to those self-entitled numpties at Arsenal TV and Piers Morgan, somehow thinking that because they had that run back in 2003/04 when they were dubbed the undateables or whatever it was, they are entitled to be any good over a decade later. Yawn. Seriously yawn.

Anyone thinking Brentford fans moan or give our managers stick needs to look to North London. There, they take expectation to a new level with ‘Wenger’ receiving 128K worth of tweets on the UK trend list as at the time of writing (6.30am).

The biggest irony being the silence in the Emirates when they are playing. If they made half as much noise mid-game as they do once the team has lost then perhaps Arsenal might be an intimidating place to come rather than the glorified library it is so derided as being.  For the neutral, it remains wonderful, if slightly nauseous, unintentional comedy. No supporters in the land are as full of their club’s own self-importance relative to its actual ability (I know , I know – they won the FA Cup). Long may it continue.

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Twitter: Come for Monkman; stay for Wenger

On the subject of unintentional comedy, we only need to look a few miles up the road to West London rivals QPR. Already 6 points behind the Bees in the League table, now they’ve lost out to us in the player of the year awards stakes.

Whilst Brentford’s own event all but sold out within days, the not so super hoops have been forced into an awkward climbdown within a week of tickets being made available for their £119 a head do. In a brief article on the clubwebsite entitled ‘POTY EVENT CANCELLED the club has been forced to admit that, “a lack of sales has resulted in the event being cancelled”.

Here’s to Saturday week when we can really hope to compound a miserable season for our near neighbours. Fifty years on; never forget.

And finally, Get West London. Whilst it would often be easier just to follow the player feed on Twitter than read their stories, yesterday saw things reach a new low. The aforementioned journalistic jumping of the shark, if you will.

Brentford fan wears Bees shirt with BREXIT 16 on the back .

Thus proclaimed the headline on one of yesterday’s post Cardiff pieces. It went on to add – The shirt about the decision to leave the European Union sparked debate on social networking site Twitter.

Sorry, this is news how? This is a story because? Stop the press  – Football fan has political opinion. This is Donald Trump levels of news. Or lack of.  It was something that ‘sparked debate’, apparently. Or, in actual fact, led to a few references to it on Twitter.

What next. Man wears jaunty Castle Badge jumper to winter game? Transfer exclusive: Jugde to sign for Brentford?

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Coming next, on Get West London

Now I’m the first to admit writing drivel from time to time. Then again, I’m neither a journalist nor paid for the privilege. Just a self-confessed numpty on the terrace with an occasional blog column.

Come on Get West London, you can do better than this. Supporters deserve better than this. With five games and two local derbies to come, things aren’t at Arsenal levels of quiet. Just yet.

April fixtures

We’ve got all this to come still

Nick Bruzon

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

28 Jan

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

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

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Just what is Scott’s number?

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

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

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

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

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Nobody has forgotten…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

As Michael and Martin prepare to drop their balls, who do you want in the fourth round?

9 Jan

Brentford are safely through to the fourth round of the FA Cup where we will be ball number 27 in Monday night’s draw. Others to look out for include: Manchester City (8) , Chelsea (13), Arsenal (20) , Fulham (21) and Hull City (4). There’s no QPR, though, as they’ve been knocked out.

With 32 teams (subject to replays playing out) left, the rewards for starting the competition as a Championship club are clear. The question now being whether your preference is a ‘winnable’ home game for the sake of longer term progression or a glamour tie with the likes of the aforementioned Chelsea, Manchester City et al for a chance to test ourselves in the backyards of the very best. Or Arsenal.

Equally possible is a dour draw. Away to the likes of a Middlesbrough, Blackburn Rovers or Derby County. Games we’ve seen week in, week out over the last few seasons and one with about as much cup magic as a children’s party entertainer.

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More cup magic here than a trip to Middlesbrough

Of course, there’s no guarantees of anything being winnable these days regardless of league placing.

Just look at Bournemouth, Liverpool, Ipswich Town and Rotherham United from this weekend alone. Complacency can be the mother of all foul ups, with teams having a tendency to raise their game when the next round of the cup comes.

Surely the dream ticket is ‘big club’ , at home. A chance for us to dent the hopes of more glamorous opposition and make a name for ourselves. Such moments, whilst fleeting for a club like Brentford, really are the stuff of dreams. We’ve done it over the years. Trumping the likes of Manchester City and Sunderland whilst running Southampton and Chelsea more than close. Oh, for a chance to do it once more.

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

Whoever it is, FA Cup ‘legends’ Martin Keown and Michael Owen will be the men pulling the balls from the tombola (please, don’t…). BT Sport is the place to catch the action if you want to see it all unfold.

This most famous of tournaments may have lost much of its sheen in recent years, with many ‘big’ clubs viewing it as an inconvenicene (surely there is a case here for just putting the League cup out of its misery) but nobody can deny that the moment of anticipation as we await the first of the names to be read out is second to none in football. Even now.

Here’s to number 27.

As one final thought today, for anybody wondering why Hull City were name checked at the top end of the article, then you may want to read a quite wonderful analysis of the weekend’s happenings c/o Football365 (@F365 on Twitter).

Oh for the ability to write like this. Well, well worth a read. Unless you are Paul Merson or Phil Thompson.

Nick Bruzon

The ultimate sucker punch; the ultimate indignity. Leeds sting Bees with a short corner

18 Dec

After 7 (seven) attempts, Leeds United finally recorded a win over Brentford in modern times as Kyle Bartley’s 89th minute header saw the home side shade a 1-0 win over the Bees at Elland Road. No complaints here. We’ve always said there’s only one stat that counts – balls in the back of the net. Leeds aced that statistical column yet how different it might have all been.

Scott Hogan had a ‘goal’ ruled out for an apparent offside that Dean Smith was left hugely frustrated about at full time. His post match interviews saw him telling the BBC that, “It wasn’t justified. I’ve seen the replays and he was marginally onside” whilst his chat with Channel 5 included the observation that “we’ve had a goal chalked off when it was marginally onside”. Interestingly, the BBC match report claim this one was ‘rightly’ ruled out yet the views that are perhaps most telling are those of former Leeds player Michael Gray.

Sitting on the Channel Five punditry sofa (what a far cry for those early days of an awkward looking studio audience milling around the set), and with the benefit of video replay, his own take on it was : “Looking across the six yard line here, he’s actually onside Scott Hogan when he put’s the ball in the back of the net… the ball does go back a little bit and it should have actually stood.

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Channel 5 footage supported their view – Scott was onside

Yes, Channel Five. Whilst this page normally opts for the Sky clip one has to say that Five’s video package is definitely the winner this weekend. Besides, when the alternate 9pm TV  option last night was Michael McIntyre with both David Brent and Sting (a man whose recent Twitter trending made me fear 2016 had lost another rock legend but, alas, it was worse than that – he was on national TV) then it was a no-brainer to opt for George Riley and co.

At least, until Sunday lunchtime when we get the Burridge free Beesplayer take on things featuring Chris Wickham, Mark Chapman and Sean Ridley. Pity those three doing their best to light up this one – a game that another internet source I stumbled across mid-afternoon described as “anything but a Christmas Cracker”.

Official highlights now available, too

Then again, it was only going to be the proverbial,’gritty game’. Tell me otherwise but it seems one of few chances with those that were taken amounting to nothing even close. At least, until first Hogan and then Bartley had their respective moments.

“Chances were at a premium” said Dean afterwards. This was only ever going to be the case going into this game and sure enough it transpired as Leeds moved to within a couple of points of third place with their late, late winner.

Tom Field started, again. He was mysteriously substituted, again. A shame for so many reasons, not the least of which being there just didn’t seem to be any need to do it. I have to be honest, Dean’s substitution philosophy does seem somewhat random at times. Perhaps the youngster just hasn’t got the legs but, equally, against Burton he came on for Yoann Barbet . Perhaps the Frenchman is still seen as first choice and isn’t fully fit.

Either way, the goal came from a ball dropped amongst our plethora of centre backs, who then parted like the Red Sea. More tellingly it was one delivered from a short corner. A short corner for crying out loud. This most maligned of set pieces works about as frequently as a Brentford win in the play offs yet here it was, reaping reward at the denouement of what should have been at least a point for the visitors. It is a routine that even the Beesplayer team had noted Leeds were favouring and if they could spot this, surely our fleet of coaches would have done the same and looked to shut it down?

Go figure?

Anyway, we’ve lost and all the analysis in the world won’t change a thing. I’d called home win, away win, draw from these three games prior to Burton. But for a rogue corner / offside flag Christmas would have come early in our house. Instead, it’s gruel for lunch next week as an investment made for research purposes only came unstuck at the death.

On the positive side, we’ve got a home clash on Boxing Day to look forward to. Always a favourite, I’ve no doubt the Bees will get back to winning ways on the 26th.

See you then  – preferably with Fields (of goals), and no Sting.

dunemoviefacts

Nick Bruzon

Is this an FA Cup plum tie or potato skin? Could ‘you know who’ return?

6 Dec

The FA cup third round draw has happened. With Brentford fans hoping for the likes of a Manchester United or a Chelsea, we have been drawn at home to a non-league team with the winners of the replay between Halifax Town and Eastleigh due to visit in January. The later, of course, now managed by Martin Allen who will no doubt be chomping at the bit for a return to the place where he is still considered a hero to many. Bees supporters will no doubt be chomping at the bit just for a chance to progress. Aside from our current form (filed in the ‘where are they now’ drawer), our previous efforts starting at this stage have all seen us at home and all seen us dumped out. Grimsby Town, Brighton and Walsall delivering the respective killer blows. Prior to that, we’re going back to the 30s and 40s,

The third round draw is one of football’s most exciting moments. That point where any permutation of random pairings is possible. Would it be a Premier League club at home? Might we embark on a journey to one of those famous stadia such as Old Trafford or Anfield? Do we face a road trip to a lower division team – the sort produced in the Preston v Arsenal, Leeds v Cambridge or Bolton v Crystal Palace ties?

Instead, we have none of that. We’re at home, which is nice from the comfort factor, but with a tie that is less a plum and more a potato skin of the highest order. On paper, the divisional gap should be far too great. Brentford will be odds on favourites to progress whilst the visitors, whoever they are, will have nothing to lose. Yet we all know that isn’t how football works.

With Dean Smith’s team on a less than favourable run (I swear if he says the word ‘blip’ once more I won’t be responsible for my actions) this could be a season defining game. It is now there on the calendar as a point where we can look, once more, to make some progress in this oldest of Cup competitions.

Will Dean repeat the mistakes he made last season in the horror show at home to his former club Walsall? If ever there was a game to win it was that one yet the Bees were outclassed by a team who were clearly up for it and with a point to prove. It was an afternoon that I never want to experience again, moreso when you chuck into the mix all that nonsense with FCM at half time. Random laps of honour rarely work (see also: the unveiling of the smudge shirt – and if ANYBODY even has a picture of that, please get in touch….) but this one was utter madness and the ultimate kick in the nuts for those loyal supporters braving the elements.

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The FA Cup dream was over after a rubbish afternoon last time out

And that is what worries me. Not the thought of a half time parade, but a repeat of last season’s cup complacency from Brentford (see also: Marinus v Oxford). Whoever we play will be desperate to make a name for themselves and, without being arrogant, we are now an established Championship side, despite our humbler origins. But that doesn’t give an automatic right to progress just because of the gap in the table.

Martin Allen has been there and done it. He masterminded our fourth round defeat of Premier League Sunderland ten years ago whilst was that close to taking the Bees to a quarter final at Manchester United. Southampton eventually, getting the better of us in a fifth round replay. If anybody knows how this works it will be him whilst nobody needs the media circus that his presence will bring.

Hopefully, Dean and the team will have rediscovered our form by then. We’ve got 6 games between now and that one, starting on Saturday with Burton Albion. Hopefully Dean will take it seriously and play a full-strength team with a desire to go out there and win. The cup has a wonderful place in our hearts at Griffin Park and what happened last season, in both competitions, was horrific, embarrassing, shameful etc

Whilst cup success has been an infrequent visitor,  when it comes along it is a wonderful thing. The place is buzzing and the mood, especially in the build up to that next tie, is a wonderful experience. Just look at the Chelsea tie (although it’s nice that we can no longer sing:  ‘Champions of Europe we’re coming for you’  in relation to our West London neighbours).

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These are the sort of cup memories I want

Whatever people’s opinions about this one being any form of foregone conclusion, think again. Recent FA Cup ties agasint non-league opposition haven’t been as easy on paper as they were expected to be. 2013 saw the 5-0 defeat of Marcus Gayle and Staines Town in the first round but prior to that we’ve struggled. The 2011 defeat of Basingstoke was by the slenderest of margins – Sam Saunders with a free kick on 7(seven) minutes being the difference between the two teams and,sadly, coming before Kitman Bob and the BBgiveaway were a thing.

But it was that woeful second round loss at Barrow, in front of the TV cameras, back in November 2008 that really sticks out. A chance to square off agasint the big boys was instead flung aside as Andy Scott’s team were dumped out 2-1 and left with ten players on the pitch. Substitute goalkeeper Lloyd Anderson coming on for the red carded Ben Hamer.

Come January, let’s just hope the lessons from history, from last season and most importantly from current form have been learned. If we win, nobody outside TW8 and the losing team will give it any notice. Anything less and they’ll be the sort of headlines Dean Smith won’t want to wake up to.

Look, let’s be positive here. Whoever you play, the chance to go into the fourth round of the FA Cup is something that should produce a buzz of excitement. It should be a pressure free game where we can play of fun and the potential lure of an even bigger carrot as we progress. Whilst I’m aware of the pitfalls, I’m also cautiously optimistic. Surely there’s no way we’ll have a repeat of last season as long as Dean does it right?

See you in 2017. Now, where’s my tinfoil?

Sam Saunders doing his thing back in 2011

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Everton and Sunderland help lead the charge as Bees silence Villa and go goal crazy.

18 Sep

Brentford moved into the top six following a 5-0 win over Preston. Huddersfield Town stayed top as they continued a week of woe for hapless QPR (stop sniggering). The Loftus Road mob going down 2-1 following their 6-0 midweek thrashing by Newcastle United. Six! Nil!!  Meanwhile, Aston Villa could only labour to a second draw of the week (presumably, another pub side) whilst the bottom three now consist of Wigan, Blackburn and Cardiff.

That’s the most recent Championship 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 round up we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media over the last seven days. It’s the good, the bad and the ugly.

We’ll start off, as ever, with Brentford for whom Scott Hogan wasn’t alone in finding the back of the net against Preston. Whilst you can read the breakdown on that one here, the salient points would seem to be that, firstly,  humour is alive and well in the squad.

Likewise,for a game involving Keith Stroud, the man in the middle was somewhat quieter than normal. King of stats Luis Melville nailing this one.

Prior to this our pub side had been at Aston Villa where one fan continued his pre-match rant about the quality of the visitors long after the result had come in as a 1-1 draw.

Bernard Quackenbush picking out one flaw in his argument.

Mr Hateley wasn’t alone, either..

But, once more, Bluetones guitarist Adam Devlin has blown away all comers when it comes to post match banter.

Yet for me, and credit where it was due, nobody could deny just how incredible a stadium Villa park is. Win, lose or draw this was a ground worthy of a visit in it’s own right. Let’s hope that when Lionel Road is built we can capture this combination of atmosphere and proximity to the pitch.

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Villa Park – off field, somewhere we can only aspire to

That was Brentford’s action. But, as ever, there is so much more.

Having had a horrendous start to their life as principal highlights provider, it would be fair to say that Football League Tonight came in for criticism from all comers. And rightly so, if you recall just what they offered up in episode 1.  Yet equally, by the end of last season they had managed to iron out the numerous flaws to give a much more watchable show, minus studio audience and gimmicks.

Sadly it would seem than normal service is being resumed this time around. BBC Billy Reeves knows a thing or two about broadcasting and so if he opines, we should sit up and take notice.

Yet it seems we aren’t alone in our disdain , Huddersfield Town are only top of the league. As they have been all season…

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EVERYBODY (well, at least close to 8,000 of us)  have already shared this but some things are so good they bear repeating.

A staple of The Beano, The Dandy and just about every kid’s comic , the baddest of bad jokes has finally seen the light of day for real.Fancy ACTUALLY having the balls to use this line for real?

Those with a long memory may recall Billy Reeves doing his zero to catwalk in three seconds shimmy at QPR last season. If you don’t then here’s a picture of our man doing his thing on what was, otherwise, the afternoon we never talk about.

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BBC Billy. Is there no end to his talents ?

So how sweet to see the not so super hoops come undone during the week?

A 0-6 home hammering at the hand of Newcastle United bringing tears of anguish to Loftus Road and tears of laughter to TW8. The only highlight for the home supporters being that Billy’s trendsetting now seems to have been adopted by their stewards.

 

 On pitch, QPR official thought they had got out of jail free….

But perhaps it wasn’t their fault. blame that ‘lucky omen’ . Fancy this happening (Please. Stop. Sniggering).

As a final thought from that one, how is the tattoo coming along?

In the Premier League, Manchester United lost. Again. I said stop sniggering. As a lover of ITV cliche bingo, this alternative take on it has certainly tickled the funny bone (and could be easily adapted for ‘Mourinho press conference’ bingo if required).

And then later in the afternoon Sunderland did their best to confuse everybody. Not so much in terms of the on pitch performance but more in their away kit. Has there been a more garish effort in Premier League history and just what did it resemble ?

But it was their game with Everton on Monday night where the real story of the week was. Even now, almost seven days later, I’ve got nothing but a smile on the face and a tear in the eye looking at these next two.

Pure class. I’ve nothing else to add. Until next time.

Plus ça change. After Euro 2016, England continue with the bang average

4 Sep

Slovakia 0 England 1. Three points. And a win. On paper that’s all that Big ‘Sam’ Allardyce could have asked for on his opening game in charge. Yet having stated up front that he’d have been happy with a draw, he was that close to achieving his stated low key level of start to his time in charge of the national team. That may work at Sunderland or West Ham but for England, after their woeful Euro 2016 (and let’s not pretend it was anything but) this was just more of the same.

England won. That’s an indisputable fact . And so often I’ve bigged up the fact that goals are the only thing that count at full time. Yet at a time when the impossibility of qualification failure makes results largely irrelevant, performance is as key as result. And this was nothing but anti-climax.

0-0, 1-0. Forget the scoreline. A draw or a win away to England’s ‘closest rivals’ makes no difference. Failure to qualify from a group including Malta, Lithuania and Scotland is simply unfeasible. That’s not arrogance; that’s fact. Yet that game was, to quote one sofa based observer,  ‘bang average’.

At a time when the best sort of kick back from the Euros was needed, England did everything possible to continue with the uninspirational. Non-chance followed non-chance. Even when Martin Skrtel was eventually (arguably, he should have gone earlier) dismissed, England still flattered to deceive.

It was like watching the cast of American Pie v the cast of Porkys in a race to lose their viginity. There was a lot of bluster, a lot of fighting talk, a lot of huff and puff yet no thrust, no penetration and no scoring. In the end, it was a last gasp stab through the legs as Slovakia’s keeper let Adam Lallana’s poke claim his first England goal. At the 27th attempt .

Instead, after the horror of the summer and Euro 2016 nothing has changed – Glen Hoddle was still there talking bollocks; England were still doing their best to make the mediocre look like world beaters.

Any positives?  Either my TV was broken or ‘that band’ weren’t present. Regardless, that was the only win for those of us watching at home.

We’re two years away from knowing how well England may perform at the World Cup finals. We’re two years away from knowing which of Sunday’s starting XI will even kick off   England’s attempt to lift the trophy.

But, for now, we know one thing.

Huge improvement is needed.

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Nick Bruzon 

 

 

 

After Sunday roast, time for kebabs. Just no umbrellas

4 Sep

The middle Sunday of international weekend. There’s no Brentford result to digest (it’s another 6 days until the trip to Brighton and a week since Sheffield Wednesday salvaged an injury time draw in a game they could have actually won much earlier) whilst the national team are yet to kick things off in anger. Yes, ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce begins his tenure as England manger tonight with the trip to Slovakia after leaving Sunderland in the summer to replace Roy Hodgson.

Big Sam

Can Sam bring a smile to England supporters?

Cue hand wringing about EURO 2016. Talk of a new era. Questions over Joe Hart or the selection of Wayne Rooney as captain. Sly digs about this ’rough diamond’ being a different choice to the normal selections from those suits at FA HQ. And, of course, being forced to listen to ‘that band’.

There’s bound to be mention of Sam’s win ratio at supposedly less illustrious teams  (37.57% West Ham and 29.03 at Sunderland). Although what that proves, I have no idea. Even Roy Hodgson managed 41.94% at Liverpool, for what its worth. And, of course, with that West Ham link there’s bound to be some crowbarred reference to some sort of new stadium. It wouldn’t be a televised football game in 2016/17 without one.

Yes, my ITV cliche bingo card is fully charged and ready to begin crossing off those squares although, being honest, I’m not fully engaged at the moment. The Euros were painful. Dreadfully so. It is still far too recent a bad memory.

To see England earnestly attempt to go again feels like being faced with a groaning table of all-you-can-eat kebabs having just consumed an oversized Sunday Roast. Whilst normally this would be a delicious prospect, given what came before I’m not going to enjoy it. That said, what harm would it do to take a tentative nibble and see what develops from there?

Besides, regardless of who is at the helm, a 6 team qualifying group containing the likes of Lithuania , Scotland and Malta should be about as tough a nut to crack as using a sledgehammer on some stale dry roasted. Forget Big Sam. Big Ron from Eastenders or Big Daddy could get them through the group. And they are both sadly departed.

Big Daddy

Even Big Daddy could get England through this group

For me, the genuine excitement is over in Group H where Gibraltar have Cyprus and Estonia amongst their opponents. Whilst, of course, you’d expect Belgium to run away with that one, could the boys from the Rock make a few waves? As ever, the bookmakers don’t think so and have them at anything from 2,000-1 to 5,000-1 to win the group.

But, whatever happens, surely this is still a more rewarding prospect than watching England cruise through the qualifiers to an inevitable first place. Just remember though, 10 wins out of 10 en-route to Euro 2016 didn’t prove a particularly auspicious omen as to long term tournament success.

I hope England do well. I hope Gibraltar can upset Greece on Tuesday night.I hope we don’t get overly carried away, however the qualifying groups turn out. As has been proven again, success at a tournament proving somewhat more difficult a prospect than getting there.

Indeed, aside from Euro 96 or West Ham’s triumph in the the 1966 World Up (both home tournaments) it is only really the wonderful efforts of Bobby Robson’s team back in 1990 where England have come even vaguely close to getting their hands on foreign soil. The Premier league may be ‘the best league in world football’ (is that line still being trotted out?) and have the most over inflated transfer market, but when it comes to keeping pace with International rivals then there is still a huge gap.

All the money and all the expectation in the world are no substitute for simply being ‘any good’ or knowing how to play as a team. Just look at what Wales achieved over the summer.

After the summer, the thought of winning a World Cup feels a million miles away. The prospect of investing the emotions in a qualifying campaign that has stopped the fledgling Championship season dead in its tracks so soon and so awkwardly is a tough one. And, being blunt, a frustrating one. Just as Brentford have got going and assembled our post-transfer window squad, the shutters have come down.

Yet come 5pm I have no doubt whatsoever the TV will be tuned to ITV to see just what life under Big Sam will look like. Say what you want about him, and many have, but I can guarantee you that if it’s raining there’ll be no umbrellas in sight.

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Whatever happens, it can’t get this bad

Nick Bruzon

As the EURO winners show, what would be our Phoenix From The Flames ?

18 Jun

With EURO2016 now fully underway, Friday’s games saw Spain crank things up a notch and Croatia lose it – on and off the pitch. With much of what involves the England fans dividing opinion and generating some very contrasting views from those ‘on the ground’, there was no doubting what we saw on our TV screens yesterday. Plus, in an effort to blow away the current glut of Griffin Park tumbleweed, we have Brentford thoughts, updates and pictures.

First up, Croatia. 2-0 up and cruising against the Czech Republic, not only did they throw it away to be held 2-2 but their ‘fans’ have, surely, lined them up as the next nation to be given a suspended disqualification alongside Russia. This, after a shower of flares and firecrackers descended onto the pitch from the Croatian end as the game reached it’s denouement.

Combined with fighting amongst their own fans, they were ugly scenes that also saw one steward lucky to escape injury as a device went off in his face. Slaven Bilic, talking as part of the ITV panel for the Spain game, attempted to quantify it with the observation that “There are many fans who are against the FA”. That these are protests against a perceived Zagreb bias in Croatian football.

I can’t comment either way on that. My knowledge of the wider problems in European football extends about as far as when Gibraltar’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Belgium is going to take place. But what I can say is that, like the flare launched at England fans during the Russia game, one can only wonder again how security – with France on its highest state of alert – is working? Moreso, just what can UEFA do, if anything, to stop what should have been a wonderful tournament (and still can be) turning into one which will as much be remembered for all the wrong reasons?

As for Spain, a second clean sheet and three goals against Turkey saw them step up an ominous gear. Wth many people’s favourites France leaving it late to record their second victory, the Spaniards by contrast made their six points look simple. After 61% possession, 707 passes and 18 shots (although with goals to match those stats)  they’re already in to 10/3. Forget patriotism – grab that price whilst you can.

Just one other observation on the Spain game, which comes courtesy of Jamie Lovell (@jtlovell1979 ) on Twitter. I can’t take the credit for this but he put into words, wonderfully, the exasperation many of us were suffering from at the hands (or voice) of co-commentator Tony Pulis.

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For me, Clive

Look positive Jamie, at least it wasn’t Glenn Hoddle

Ok, back home and Brentford. I took a stroll past Griffin Park yesterday and couldn’t resist the chance to stick my head over the wall. I have to say the pitch is looking wonderful already.

Granted, the club took the steps to dig it up as soon as we’d played our last ‘home’ game ( if I recall, some sort of thrashing administered to Fulham, wasn’t it?). That, following the pitch-gate shocker at the start of the season.

But, you have to say, credit for what seems to be a job well done already. Here’s to seeing how the Bees perform on it when Championship action recommences in August.

Griffin PArk June 2016

The pitch is looking luxuriant

And when it does, Brentford will find themselves joint 7th (seventh) favourites for the title. Checking my online bookmaker for research purposes this morning, this odds are now up and we’re priced 20/1.

Somewhat stingy for a team who, by our own head coach’s admission, were in a relegation scrap as recently as March? Or easy money for a team who have rediscovered the way to goal via Scott Hogan and those signings who have now ‘bedded in’ to the side? Either way, this is how the bookies see the Championship at present.

And finally, Euro ’96. Kind of. With the football in everybody’s faces at the moment, even the radio is getting in on the act. You can’t move on Absolute Radio at present for World in Motion or Three Lions. Which is no bad thing.

The latter, especially, bringing back all sorts of memories. And not just about how terrifyingly bad David Baddiel was at singing. Seriously, that was the best take?

But talk on the subject amongst some of my Brentford supporting friends led from there to the TV show from which it sprang, Fantasy Football League (of course, co-hosted by Frank Skinner). In particular, the ‘Phoenix From The Flames’ segment in which a famous moment from footballing days gone by would be recreated on a council pitch, featuring the original protagonists.

Specifically, conversation got onto the topic of which Brentford moment would we recreate? Perhaps with the wonderful Sean Ridley and Jo Tilley in the Baddiel and Skinner roles ?

That penalty’ is perhaps too obvious Besides, having not really been discussed in the media after the event, people might not remember. Other topics for consideration included:

Mike Grella destroying Bournemouth; Jota v Fulham; Paul Hayes and Will Grigg being less than on fire when taking home debut penalties; promotion v Preston; Gary Blissett knocking Manchester City out of the FA cup and inciting a banana wielding pitch invader; DJ Campbell giving Gary Breen nightmares.

In the end, though, we settled on cup action. Against Everton. Richard Lee’s penalty saves were the highlight for many but, equally, the pre-game footage of the respective club mascots still gets a watch every now and then.

Whilst the respective kids must be close to teenagers now, that would almost add to the recreation. That said, I’m not sure if we could afford Leighton Baines’ appearance fee.

Could this be recreated, Phoenix style?

Until then, here’s to a weekend of six games and, hopefully, some more magical moments.

Nick Bruzon