Tag Archives: table

I want a squirrel and I want one now!!

18 Apr

Congratulations Norwich City. It is the only place to start a look at our own Championship fortunes this morning after their return to the Premier League was confirmed yesterday. Despite a home defeat, every favour possible was cashed in after Brentford were held 0-0 by Millwall, Watford lost at Luton and Swansea City left it late to salvage a draw with Wycombe. Not that these favours would have been needed in the longer term. The Canaries have been outstanding this season in terms of both ability and consistency. It has been apparent for months that ‘automatic’ would be theirs if they held the nerve. Instead, there has barely been a ruffled feather on that front. The goals and wins have kept on coming. The reward fully deserved.   

For Brentford, still all to play for but getting tougher every game. A frustrating afternoon no doubt and moreso given it followed that stonking 5-0 win at Preston last weekend. The same side selected yet, this time, the opposition infinitely harder to break down. Chances at a premium with the only one I can remember that from Marcus Forss early on in the second half. He did tremendously well to wriggle past two defenders on his way into the box before firing his shot the wrong side of the near post when squaring it would have been the easier option. In hindsight. One can’t blame him for seeing the goal open up after working the chance and our fortunes should have hung on more than this solitary opportunity. Instead, Millwall did what Millwall do. Indeed, they had their own chances to take an early lead before the game meandered to another stalemate.

The optimist in me could say it is now 7(seven) unbeaten. And it is. Another game where the pre kick-off presence of one-time albatross Clem in his Football Focus interview barely caused a murmur of consternation given his current form. His historical ‘jinx’ factor currently set to ‘positive’ and so, if anything, was a good sign going in to this one. On a side note, the interview with Thomas is well worth watching. Clem, his usual blend of gentle probing and charm personified. Thomas giving a much needed reality check on last season aswell as the challenge ahead for the remainder of this.

Clem and Thomas do their thing

It was a game that saw another point gained but, really, if there is any aspiration of automatic we need to be turning those into wins rather than becoming divisional draw specialists. Brentford are now fourth. One point behind Swansea City and eight behind Watford with a game in hand a visit form the Hornets still to come. Bournemouth on fire and tucked in behind us on level points. Their own victory at Carrow Road yesterday making it six in a row for the Cherries. Their own fine start to the campaign coming off the rails before bouncing back in some style. If anything, they are the danger team making that late surge although perhaps second place a touch too far out of the way.

For Brentford, all we can do is focus on winning then hope something happens in our favour. Tuesday night is the big one. No question. The evening of ‘must win’ games. A visit from Cardiff City as tough as any we could face. Oh, for a repeat of the Sergi Canos hat-trick against the Bluebirds back at Christmas. Of course, football doesn’t work like that and it is the first of our five remaining fixtures. Five high stakes games which could see this team become legends. From this point in the stress levels are only going to build. For everyone. How Thomas Frank manages that is going to be key to our fortunes. How he gets his team performing consistently a conundrum only he, and his staff, can unravel.

The same XI were world cup winners against Preston. Chance after chance created, and taken. Fast forward a week and it would have been easier to unlock a front door wearing oven gloves and a deep sea diver’s helmet than it was the Millwall defence. The doom and gloom in the air at full time totally disproportionate to a team that are still sitting fourth in the Championship. I’ve largely been off social media these last two weeks. Not even having the heart to update these pages. I love talking about the Bees but seeing all the negativity is just doing my head in. I’m  done with what, at times, feels little more than arrogant entitlement from a group of Veruca Salts throwing their worthless opinions around like spoiled brats hurling toys out of a pram. 

I. DEMAND. AUTOMATIC. NOWWWWW.

I’ve no real issue anyone putting the boot in if they can back it coherently. Make a case for what they feel is going wrong and, more importantly, what they might realistically change. Instead, its nothing but bullying of individuals and the same tired, lemming like phrases:

Bottle jobs.

Frank Out.

Canos / Marcondes / Jensen (delete or add as applicable) is sh*t.

Should have bought over January (I’d love to know who and how). 

Then there’s Tariqe Fosu being feted as the saviour of the team. He IS good, very good, no question. Yet one player does not win games on his own. One player is not the be all and end all of our chances. The responses to yesterday’s final result being announced on Twitter saw so many of the the usual suspects doing the usual thing. Forgetting, also, that a campaign lasts 46 games rather than something determined by the latest round of results.

Look at who is injured. Look at how we do things. Look at the pressure on everyone. On every club – something seen in yesterday’s results. Instead of whine, whine, whine how about actually backing your team? Save the post mortem for later, if it is really needed.

I’m pretty much done with Twitter and Facebook for the moment. Yesterday illustrated that just perfectly – shouldn’t have looked at the full time update but a few beers in the sunshine helped pique my curiosity later in the day. The return to The Griffin, seeing old friends and discussing football in person just wonderful. Another positive to be taken from the day. Sadly, the same can’t be said about social media. I want to enjoy my football, no matter how hard it is at times. How tense. How excruciating. Not have it dragged down by bitching. So I’m done. Let them shout into the void. I’ll go on there if it suits me and that’s it.

The replies to this. Only Wilf talking sense

We are on the threshold of greatness. Whilst only a moron would fail to recognise things are ten times harder for us than they might have been, getting out of the Championship is one of the toughest things possible. Twenty four teams fighting for three spots. The calibre of opposition and budgets of those who have parachuted down from the Prem illustrate it in some style. That’s before you get to those well established clubs. The pressure on everyone is immense. We saw that with the sequence of results that came in this weekend. It was a lost opportunity for Brentford but, then again, also for Watford and Swansea. Perhaps even Norwich City who would have been confirmed champions.

Instead, it is all eyes forward to Tuesday and that other must win game, for Norwich at home to Watford. To be fair, even a point hands them a title that is now only out of their grasp by virtue of mathematics and goal difference. I’d love them to do it if only for what it then means for Brentford, of course. As Thomas Frank said in his interview with Clem (and if you haven’t seen that as yet then you can, no should, take a look. There’s a link here) I think it is for Watford to lose but of course we need to do our bit.” 

Of course. The absolute priority has to be us getting our act together first, rediscovering our cutting edge and then seeing what else happens. Starting with Cardiff City on Tuesday at 6pm.

Nick Bruzon

This is one we really must win.

6 Apr

Eight games to go. Brentford host Birmingham City on Tuesday evening following the draw with Huddersfield at the weekend. A game we go into with the knowledge that, finally, the results around us have been favourable. Yesterday saw Watford held at Middlesbrough after leading for a large chunk of that one and Swansea City losing their fourth on the bounce. The Bees in third place. Ten points behind the Hornets but with two games in hand. The first of which takes place at 7.00pm this evening. A game where victory has to be at the top of our priorities if there is to be any hope of overhauling the team(s) in ‘automatic’. If not a mathematical ‘must win’ then psychologically, very much the time to return to winning ways. Over reliance on favours not a strong card for any head coach to play too often. All good in theory. The problem being Lee Bowyer and his Blues are very much in a battle of their own at the wrong end of the table and aren’t just going to hand over the points.

All to play for still – not just for the top two

The plus point being the Bees are unbeaten since the 1-0 at Norwich City a month ago. All well and good but let’s not pretend the last three games have been anything but frustrating. Starting off at 100mph against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County but falling over the line to a 2-2 draw. See also: Nottingham Forest where chances aplenty were created but only one converted. The inevitable happened. Then Saturday saw us peg it back against Huddersfield Town for another draw. True, the point saw us clear Swansea City but Watford are the ones that, at present, we all have to catch up with. Indeed, the nature of the opening goal at the weekend a horror show to match anything Mrs. Browns Boys have inflicted on us over the years. 

The net result of all this meaning that, really, only victory will be good enough this evening. Certainly if we have genuine aspirations to recapture that place in the top two we held for a tantalising moment. True, Watford have a tough run but they also have more than enough ability to win them. To beat opponents before they have even walked out of the tunnel. For Brentford, the free-scoring fun seems to have gone awol. The team predictable and , perhaps, weighed down by both expectation and the pressure of last season. If ever there was a time to put the shooting boots back on and bolster the defence it is now. To pray Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva are back soon. The lack of any talk about either player suggests that won’t be anytime in the next five minutes. Perhaps, though, Thomas is playing his cards close to his chest.

Regardless, we still should have enough in this team to win tonight. Ivan Toney knows thew way to goal. Norgaard is back. Fosu and Marcondes must be chomping at the bit to begin this one from the off. Can Thomas inspire his troops? Make the pieces of this most enigmatic jigsaw fit together?

I don’t buy into any of this “We should have strengthened the squad in January” nonsense, btw. How do you predict injuries? How do you pay for it? How do you keep the squad happy? Which players would you have actually brought in? Moreso, at a time when we were on fire and storming it? Genuine question. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but let’s not forget, either, we’re more than holding our own against teams that have parachuted down from the Premier League and been able to maintain their structure. Likewise, that a season lasts for 46 games. Swansea City currently proving that no team can win every game. Hitting a wobble that’s actually worse than the one we did in that unholy trinity of games that reached a brutal denouement at St. Andrews against Coventry City.

Here’s the thing. Laugh and sneer all you want. This isn’t misguided optimism but genuine belief. I’ve been saying it all season and I still stand by the fact of my own personal feeling being Brentford will go up. Even now when, at face value, the table is less than favourable to us with Norwich and Watford in the box seats.  That doesn’t mean we can just continue to try and dial in performances. Saturday was a prime example of what happens when you do that. Yet with our rivals having a tough streak coming up and our own ability to turn it on should we get the on-pitch part right, this is still all to play for. It really needs to start tonight though. Two games in hand are more than handy but they need to be turned in to points. Both are at home to teams playing for their lives (see also: Rotherham in game 45).

This won’t be easy, of course. Birmingham City have got quality in that squad. I’ve seen teams finish fifth in this league and miss out on promotion by play offs. Their squad is ten times better than that. Its just about getting the balance right……

This could be huge. This might even be fun. It should be. What’s the point, otherwise? Kick off is at 7.00pm whilst before that you’ve got a ‘live’ edition of ‘The Warm Up’ . Stuart Wakeford, Marcus Gayle, Karleigh Osborne and special guest Natalie Sawyer will be hosting the show from Lionel Road at 6pm. You can catch that on YouTube with full details on ‘official’, here.. 

Until then, have a great day. See you there (metaphorically speaking). It’ll be another one on the sofa for us. All being well with a lot of cheering……

Nick Bruzon

Shoulda Woulda Coulda. Mixed bag of results leaves it tense at the top.

21 Mar

Two points dropped or another gained in a performance that was streets ahead of that second half no show on Tuesday? Brentford held 1-1 by Nottingham Forest in a game that arguably we could have won , given the chances created, or making further ground on Swansea City who lost at home to Cardiff City? The gap between us a solitary point. The huge fly in our ointment being a Watford team who won, again, and are now looking to make their own insurmountable assault on second place. A position they currently occupy with a 7(seven) point advantage over the Bees, albeit having played an extra game. With so many Brentford fans fixated on the potential 8 point lead available to the Swans after the dog’s dinner we served up at Coventry (how are those maths working out?), how many stopped to focus on The Hornets as the main danger threat to our automatic aspirations? They’ve been chipping away with win after win after win and now, all of a sudden, have found quite the clear air between second and third place as their rivals’ current milieu has been one more favouring draws and defeats.

The final score – as seen on Brentford official.

Our own game started so brightly. Ivan Toney scoring yet another from the penalty spot. It was as stonewall as they come in the decision making stakes. As ice cool as ever in the execution. Another one rolled into the bottom corner, taking the Championship’s leading scorer up to 28 from 37 games. Twelve minutes gone and Brentford ahead. Nottingham Forest on the ropes and doing well to stay alive. Mbeumo could have done better. Dalsgaard had a a glorious chance. The pressure building and the approach play suggesting more was to come.

Our visitors limited to a half-arsed penalty shout of their own that had both sets of players laughing and earned Alex Mighten nothing more than a yellow card for his trouble. The Tricky Tree less felled in the box and more needing to smooth over the rough edges on his Tom Daley tribute act.

Perfect 10s for effort, if not executionthe GPG at the right place on the screen grabs for this ‘penalty’ analysis

But let’s not get cocky here. Dominant though Brentford were, it had the feel of a game that needed more than one goal got make it safe. Half time came and went with the thought that taking one of those additional chances in the opening period might have eased stress levels in the environs of TW8. Calmed some strained nerves as the inevitable happened just after the hour. Mathias Jensen losing out to Bong after the Forest player manhandled his way through and past our man before releasing the ball forward. Brentford still had enough back to cover but Winston Reid could only guide his clearance straight to Filip Krovinovic close in. Ping. The ball was returned with interest straight back in the direction from which it came, straight past the defender and straight past David Raya in nets. 1-1. Well done. That play had been allowed to continue after the assault on Jensen a cause of huge frustration (and that’s the polite term) but, frankly, we still should have had the nous to cut that one out. Instead, the visitors handed out the consummate lesson in taking your chance when it comes.

This was not a park the bus exercise either. Progress was hard, as much through our own decision making, but there were still chances to seal it. Substitutes Ghoddos and Fosu who, personally speaking, should have come on much earlier, both coming close. Mbeumo had already had a glorious chance, foiled only by time quite wonderful defending. It had seemed an odd on goal after the square ball across the face from Ivan but, instead, a last gasp challenge saw a corner the best we could salvage. And then with almost the last kick of the game Toney saw his own deflection assisted shot go just the wrong side of the post. So near yet so far. 1-1 it finished. Forest good value and deserving of their point. Brentford left frustrated. Twitter given a wide berth. Frankly, life’s too short to read that in the heat of the aftermath.   

Checks for #Frankout

Sunday morning. Time to pick up the pieces once more. To read match reports and see what Thomas had to say for himself. His key take away being that, “this was close to a spotless performance in every aspect, we defended well, created chances, pressed forward and first half we should have been 2-0 up“.

Well yes, he’s right from many respects. Shoulda Woulda Coulda, though. Chances don’t win games, strikers do. Or, at least, goal scorers. Any other day at least one of those probably goes in and the game is safe. But it didn’t. It was today. Not the other 9 times out of 10. And it’s agonising. As much as anything else because we know how last season played out when opportunity knocked. That’s the obvious downside and the place people are likely to gravitate towards. It’s football. We’re pessimists. We’ve been here many, many times. Dont even start me on there W place in North London.

Personally speaking, I’m of the more optimistic school of thought. It goes without saying I’d prefer to be in the position Watford find themselves, even though they have played that additional game. Yet they aren’t home and hosed yet. Anything but. Let’s not forget they still need to come to Lionel Road in the penultimate game of the campaign. That’s before they host Swansea City.  We win that one and our game in hand over them then the gap is a solitary point. Imagine actually needing a favour off Swansea at the end of all this? 

I can’t really think that way. This is on us still. We still have the time and potential on our side. There are still 9 games to play. That’s a fifth of the season as near as makes no difference. This campaign still has SO much football left in it. We’ll call it after game 46. Not after a result that doesn’t go our way. 

Everybody now gets the chance to reset and recover. Hopefully our internationals will all be suffering from niggles that cause their precautionary resting from World Cup qualification and U-21 duty. We’ve still got Josh Dasilva and Rico Henry to return. Hopefully this season . Hopefully soon. Along with Ivan they are two of the best players in the division, let alone this team. Name me any Championship side that could honestly say it was better without players of their calibre? Well, we all know the answer to that and whilst lamenting their absence won’t help anyone, I’d love if they play some significant role in that final run in. Fingers crossed the anti-gravity treadmill, or whatever else they are hooked up to, is doing its thing.

Until then, time to try and chill for a bit. There are two weeks until the next round of fixtures. We’ve got the Mark Devlin derby at Huddersfield on Easter Saturday. The day before, Watford host Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea go to Birmingham City.  Fingers crossed that’s a Good Friday. For Brentford.

For a moment, it looked like we’d have comfortable afternoon. Sadly, this was the only chance taken

Nick Bruzon

Amazingly, this stat seems true – and I don’t like it.

19 Mar

Brentford host Nottingham Forest on Saturday lunchtime. The game live on Sky with a 12.30 kick off. The Bees looking to bounce back from the 2-2 draw with Wayne Rooney’s Derby County on Tuesday night. A game we could, maybe should, have been out of sight in by half time. Instead, our PMA got on the coach early and a second half no show saw us hanging on for 45 minutes before succumbing to the inevitable equaliser. Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it but there’s nothing we can do now except kick on and go ag, ag, ag, once more. Elsewhere, there was amazing news on the international front with nothing but plaudits for Ethan Pinnock and Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa but still a Bee in our hearts) earning call ups for Jamaica and England respectively.

First World problems, eh? The sort most teams would love. Automatic is still well within our control, should we find our mojo. It seemed to be well back after the game at Blackburn and the opening period against Derby. Then, inconsistency struck. For Thomas Frank, selection headaches, of the nicest sort at centre-back. Pontus, Winston and Ethan Pinnock are all fit. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, as popular music’s Meatloaf once sung. So will we dispense with full backs and go for the lot? Then there’s the perennial question of Fosu v Canos. The former at least attempted to inject some of the zest that had so sadly gone awol from the rest of the team when he came on. Sergi had already added to his goal haul. 

Yet perhaps the biggest conundrum is how Bryan Mbeumo rediscovers his spark? There, perhaps, the greatest enigma of all. He seems to be either amazing our anonymous. Like Sergi, Thomas Frank has persisted, perhaps in the hope that he will also return to last season’s consistent brilliance. With one game to go before the break I am sure we will see more of the same.

Flying Bryan is a joy to behold

That’s me. Flying Bryan was an integral part of the BMW that got us so close last time out. We’ve readjusted to life without Ollie Watkins just wonderfully, Ivan Toney scoring at an even more prodigious rate than the now Aston Villa man, but our approach play has felt, if not laboured, then certainly off the pace at times compared to last season. Then again, we’re a different team. The emergence of Vitaly Janelt in the middle a joy to behold. With Christian Norgaard fit again, those two have immediately formed a quite wonderful partnership. Questions as to whether they can play together well answered. When Josh Dasilva is fit once more we could have quite the line. Regardless of individuals, that return from injury can’t come soon enough. Whomever else is picked, a fit Josh is a guaranteed starter.

As for Nottingham Forest, well…. I heard a stat on this week’s Prutton’s Predictions podcast for Sky Sports claiming that ‘own goals’ was their leading scorer. Surely not? Well, a check of the stats sees 29 scored in the league, 25 named players getting them and Lyle Taylor leading the pack on 4. Meaning that, at the least, o.g.s would seem to be joint top. 

Urghh. I hate these sort of nuggets. Much like Derby not scoring in four games before we played them, the sort of thing that can only come back to haunt you. Either Grabban or Taylor (and talk about the DoFs making the right transfer selection there) to get a hatful or one to go in off Henrik’s backside and further strengthen o.g’s claim for the Forest golden boot.  Please note: by Henrik, substitute ‘anyone’. For once, a jinx free game of regular football would be just wonderful. It’s Brentfoird, innit? A moniker I’d love if we could dispense with as we enter this final run of fixtures.

Cripes,  I can’t call this. Even though I have on the aforementioned podcast. Let’s just wait to see what plays out. One last push before International break. The dream of three points at the forefront of the mind and then, once more, hoping Watford and Swansea care to fall over in their games at home to Birmingham City and Cardiff respectively. If ever there was a time to prove you are ten times better…

Come for the podcast, stay for the stats (and dodgy predictions)

Nick Bruzon

Rams await as Sergi speaks out.

16 Mar

Tuesday night. Another round of fixtures at the business end of the Championship table. The weekend played out with Brentford seeing our own win on the road matched by away wins for Swansea, Barnsley and Watford on Saturday. Norwich picking up three points the following day. Now, we’ve another chance to see if things can change around any. For the Bees, a trip to Wayne Rooney’s Derby County awaits. The Hornets are at Rotherham whilst Steve Cooper’s side face a trip to Bournemouth. Themselves, once looking nailed on for automatic and now trying to play catch up to the play-off pack. How quickly things can change. How quickly they can return with a few wins on the bounce. Easier said than done, of course. Elsewhere, Sergi Canos has spoken to Sky Sports about his own return from injury and the social media abuse being handed out this season by some of our followers.

Sergi got 3 out of 3 against Cardiff City

First up, Brentford face Derby County at 7pm this evening. The Rams are very much at the wrong end of the table compared to recent seasons and whilst relegation is probably not a subject on the agenda, they’ll want to start picking up a few points to make sure. Should Birmingham City start winning a few Derby may find themselves sucked in once Rotherham’s mammoth four games in hand play out. Stranger things have happened.

They’ll need to start finding the back of the net though. Saturday’s home loss to Millwall was their fourth game in a row without troubling the scorers. The sort of stat that always makes me angsty. I’ve been following Brentford far too long to take anything of that nature for granted. Following football far too long, to be fair. Complacency is the mother of all f*ck ups and we’ll need to be at our very best tonight. Pride Park never an easy place to go, regardless of how well our opponents are playing. The Championship a division where anyone can beat anyone. Something we’ve said many, many times. Mainly because it’s true. All being well a philosophy Watford and Swansea City will be on the receiving end of this evening. Much as we need to focus on ourselves only, let’s not pretend we won’t be keeping an eye on those other results.

The good news is the Bees played out of their skins to beat Blackburn Rovers on Friday night. Rock solid at the back and dominant in midfield. Winston Reid and Ethan Pinnock (a player I saw described afterwards as a ‘heading machine’) locking it up in the CB positions. The combination of Vitaly Janelt and the returning Christian Norgaard made the midfield a dream to behold. Ivan Toney doing what Ivan Toney does. Scoring. It was the sort of game that might have seen us pegged back or even beaten in days gone by. This time around, we held our nerve and took three crucial points. More of the same tonight would do very nicely, thank you. Here’s hoping everyone remains fit as, if so, I can’t see Thomas changing anything up. Sergi Canos the obvious choice to come in but given how the team played, I’d imagine he’ll have to be content with a place on the bench and trying to make his usual high energy impact.

Ah, Sergi Canos. What can you say? Well, if we’re on these pages its only going to be positive stuff. Or, at least, fair.  Then again, any regular reader (should such a concept exist) will know that. Aside from being our Harry’s favourite player he’s one of those you can’t help but love. The passion, the desire, the team spirit. The goals. The speed. The enthusiasm. The love for Brentford and our fans. Sure, he’s had his off days but who hasn’t ? The season has been a long one and players must be knackered. Moreso coming off the delayed end to the previous campaign. For Sergi, there was also that injury suffered at Nottingham Forest that kept him out for the best part of 2019/20. It’s amazing to think that at only 24 years old he’s fast closing in on his 200th Brentford appearance. 

Yet all this hasn’t stopped a quite bizarre hate campaign, bullying even, from a sub-strata of apparent fans on Twitter this season. Criticism and objective comment is one thing but this has been nothing short of consistent bile. Poison. Keyboard warriors at their very worst. We all know who they are. Their crud keeps popping up. You can try to avoid but still it appears. Frankly, I’ll call it out anyway. We can pretend it isn’t going on but it is. See also: FrankOut. Err…..?? Our team have been on an upward trajectory all season, everyone wants the same thing – promotion – and moreso after the frustration of how last season played out. So how does a ‘special’ group think they can help? By putting the boot in to one of the players trying to achieve that goal. Go figure. And sure enough, Sergi has seen it.

His interview with Dan Long on the SkySports website is here. Everyone should read this. Regardless your opinion on the player. WE all have favourites. We all have players whom, perhaps, we may inwardly groan when we see their name on the team sheet. My word, some of those to have worn the red and white over the years…. Cripes, it makes your hair curl to think back. Yet despite all of this we’ve supported them through thick and thin. Certainly, at the time. No matter how frustrating it was. And that’s been the (relatively) crap ones. The sad thing being Sergi’s actually ‘any good’. Yet the lemmings have had it in for him. His own comments sum it up..  

Normally, when you are not injured, you are playing and you manage that criticism during the season, but because I was going from zero to 100, it did affect me a little bit because it wasn’t only coming back from injury, it was also handling that pressure and that criticism from everyone. It was quite shocking because it was all at once. It didn’t help me, I’m not going to lie.

Perhaps it’ll subside. Perhaps just one person might change their choice of words or think before committing comment to social media. Might also consider the mental health of players. Just because they have the dream job and the public eye doesn’t make them immune to a constant barrage of abuse. Be kind, everyone. Would you say it to his face? Well, we all know the answer to that. 

I’m glad Sergi has said his thing. It’s a shame he has had to but it’s nothing we haven’t been banging about for months on these pages. Now, perhaps, everyone can just shut the heck up and back our boys. All of them. There’s 11 games to go and every point, every goal, is going to be crucial. Starting tonight at Derby County.

I’d love to be there in person. Instead, it’ll be time spent on the sofa with Mark Burridge. Metaphoriocally speaking. Sky also have it on the red button. See you there. In spirit.

Amazing to think this was 2015 yet he’s only 24

Nick Bruzon

A very beautiful, ugly win. They all count though.

13 Mar

Well, well, well. I’d open with a comment on our league position but fear some of us might get upset. DM’s are open hun. Hope all is ok. Instead, let’s look at the result. Brentford beating Blackburn Rovers 1-0 on a Friday night capped with another ice-cool penalty finish from Ivan Toney. A game in which we dodged more than a few bullets, no question, but perhaps could have scored more ourself. A game marred by a horrific looking injury to Bradley Dack after the Rovers’ man almost caught David Raya cold when going for an opportunistic steal. You could see the upset on Tony Mowbray’s face, obliged to talk to Sky at full time when it was clear his mind was only on his player. A game where there was no irony lost in the fact our winner came from the penalty spot whilst, being honest, our hosts  should have had one of their own awarded following a clumsy challenge by Mads Bech Sørensen on Ryan Nyambe. I’ve seen them given, Clive, and that was definitely one that got away. Given the run of ropey spot kick decisions enjoyed by Swansea City in recent weeks, perhaps it was time one went our way. No matter how harsh it was on the opposition. With the Swans at Luton this afternoon and Cardiff City knowing that defeat of Watford could see them enter the play-off positions, it’s all set for an intriguing Saturday.

First up though, events at Ewood Park. The excitement was palpable from prior to kick off with the selection of both Christian Nørgaard AND Vitaly Janelt in midfield. Finally. The moment we’d all been waiting and my word, wasn’t the return of our great Dane a joy to behold? He was magnificent from the off. Janelt likewise. The question of whether they could play together answered in emphatic style with attack broken down and passes being pinged forward with abandon. Widemen Fosu and Mbeumo playing just as fluently to take the game by the scruff of the neck. The former earning the spot kick after racing a beautiful pass from the ever creative Toney and being felled in the box. Up walked Ivan with his trademark approach. His trademark precision. His trademark goal. 1-0 up and only ten minutes gone.

No words needed

Brentford pushed on and pushed up. Possession dominated. Janelt and Jensen with the best of the follow up chances. The game in control but the knowledge that we’ve seen so many of these lost in the past always at the back of the mind. A second half that could have seen it go ether way. One finger tip save from Raya denying Dack when it seemed the ball would surely sneak inside the far post. Ivan Toney with a wonderful effort from just inside the Rovers half almost saw goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski lobbed when off his line. Substitute Sergi Canos unleashing a piledriver within moments of coming on that Kaminski did well to turn away. Marcus Forss perhaps guilty of missing the chance to put the game to bed and avoid us enduring those painful last few minutes of squeaky bum time. That’s before we mention the two penalty shouts for Rovers.

Mads has been very, very lucky. I’m still not sure how it wasn’t given but, you know what, I’ll take the decision. No matter how hard done by Blackburn will surely feel. Match referee Geoff Eltringham at his most random. Just as we’ve said Swansea would, obviously, accept everything that has gone their way in recent games of course we’d do the same. Move along. Nothing to see here. As for the Dack shout, I’m not so sure that was as cast iron as our opposition make out. It almost seems a secondary discussion given the injury suffered in the subsequent coming together. What seemed innocuous as it happened soon became clear to be anything but. The Blackburn manager confirming at full time that Dack was in a bad way with suspected cruciate ligament damage. Sometimes, our beautiful game can be anything but. Moreso given the same player had only just returned in December from a similar injury. Kudos to Tony Mowbray for keeping it together with a camera shoved in his face. He clearly wanted be anywhere but there and his words really emphasised the bond shared with his players.      

For Brentford, three points earned. The sort of game that could have been an absolute potato skin has ended with all three points coming back to West London. The return of Christian Nørgaard something that cannot be under estimated. Cannot be lauded sufficiently. He, Vitaly and Ivan were immense. They all were though. Winston Reid and Henrik Dalsgaard brutally tough. A rock solid Bees team able to call on both strength and skill. No pushovers. The top end of the table calling. A trip to Wayne Rooney’s Derby County on Tuesday night and then Nottingham Forest visit next weekend before international ‘break’. Let’s just keep Christian away from the Denmark squad, this time.

The rest of the weekend fixtures start to play out at lunchtime. Luton  – Swansea is first up at 12.15pm with Watford going in the traditional 3pm slot. Any favours grateful accepted. None expected. This promotion race will go all the way to the line. Brentford are currently in second place. That’s a fact and certainly nothing to be ashamed about. Here’s hoping we’re still there after game 46. If we can achieve what Thomas Frank described at full time as “A very beautiful, ugly win” then anything is possible. Starting at Derby…..

Nick Bruzon 

The end is nigh…

12 Mar

Brentford travel to Blackburn Rovers tonight. We all know the shape of the league table. We all know that the result will only be one step on the way to deciding which team joins Norwich City in the Premier League. Us, Watford, Swansea City or perhaps a surge up the blindside by one of the other contenders now putting a run together. Fingers crossed for the right result, obviously. Goal difference means that should we pick up all three points tonight, we will go ahead of the second placed Hornets on level games. They then travel to Cardiff City tomorrow whilst the Swans face the prospect of a trip to Luton. No doubt hoping Andre Ayew (pen) will keep up his current hot streak of converting dubiously awarded spot kicks. Whatever the methodology in Steve Cooper’s team being given these things, there’s no doubting Ayew’s precision from the spot. Sadly. 

Still, we’ve done all this to death in the last week or so. Brentford have had some rare ‘down time’ with the Rotherham game being postponed due to the hosts Covid results last Friday. It has been our first stretch without a midweek game in I don’t know how long. The backlog of league fixtures and our run to the semi finals of the League cup making it as relentless a season as has ever been experienced. Now, we are in to the final 12 games of the campaign. The regular campaign, that is. The reward for coming out on top in these will be indescribable. The agony of the play-off roulette wheel nothing any of the teams in the mix will want to go through. The three of us, at the very least, will have their eyes and expectations on securing that second place spot. This really is going to be high stakes stuff with those that miss out on automatic facing the prospect of the W place in North London. And whilst we’re not in the ‘must win’ game category yet, you can be sure every point won or lost is going to be scrutinised as we get closer and closer to the line.

Here’s hoping the unexpected break has helped our knackered legs. Blackburn played midweek and got a draw at Ewood Park. They were even winning until they were adjudged to have conceded a penalty which etc etc etc. Deja vu and all that. We’ve got no new injury concerns as far as I am aware – just the ongoing ones – and, of course, none other than Geoff Eltringham at the helm. I’d say ‘in charge’ but, you know.. The amount of times we’ve crossed swords with him a source of ongoing frustration. Stoke away, last season, just one of the many horror showings. Fingers crossed for a more measured approach tonight. There has already been enough refereeing based interference at the top of the table in recent weeks for him to add to that sh*t show.

Thanks, Geoff. One of the many.

Whichever way it goes, kick off is 7.45pm this evening. Sky have the game and, as Thomas said in his own press conference to the the build up “The biggest task for me, and the staff, and the players is to keep all the noise away so we can simply focus on training well today and playing well tomorrow. If you think too far ahead you don’t focus on what you can affect. The only thing we are focussing on is how we can perform best tomorrow.”   No bad thing. Thankfully they don’t read this. Hopefully, they pay little attention to social media. One game at a time and all that is the obvious mantra, even if it is tempting to look ahead and around.

Other news from yesterday saw Ivan Toney being nominated for manager fo the month alongside Teemu Pukki. Somebody at the EFL Twitter missing out on the ‘proof reading’ option before pressing publish. Of course, it transpired he had been nominated for player of the month (although at least the FrankOut brigade would have been happy for a while). An award which has this morning been announced as going to the Norwich City man. Well played Pukki. He’s a machine.

Also this week the kids have returned to school. Thank goodness. The brand of home-teaching in our house as dodgy as a Swansea penalty award but that’s all over now. The teaching, I mean. Instead, the school run is back on and it is one which takes us past Griffin Park. A place I still cast a wistful eye towards every time. So many memories. So much time spent and emotional investment poured into the famous old ground. Now, it has a new occupant. A mechanical digger. There it was on the forecourt yesterday, doing something to the ground side turnstile entrance gates on Braemar Road. It would seem the inevitable is definitely now underway.

Here’s hoping the only demolition work we’re talking about tomorrow is a job done on Blackburn. See you there. Metaphorically speaking. Confined to barracks once more. Joy. 

Sad times at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

What a difference 7(seven) days can make. Was this goal of the season?

28 Feb

Well, well, well. Wasn’t that the day? Brentford pulled the quintessential game of two halves out the bag to further tighten the screw on second place after a 2-1 win at home to Stoke City. It was a game with numerous highlights, and a few lowlights, but the standout moment being an absolute blockbuster of a goal from Vitaly Janelt. The midfielder leathering it from 25 yards out on the diagonal, hard and high into the top corner. It was a strike which reignited our fire in a game containing so many elements of classic 2020/21 Brentford. Yet with every other result going our way, it really was a quite wonderful Saturday. Watford losing to Bournemouth in a fixture which ended with more handbags than Victoria Beckham’s wardrobe was followed by Swansea City getting tonked at home by Bristol City, leaving the Bees three and four points clear of the Hornets and the Swans respectively. Plus, of course, infinitely superior goal difference. Granted the Welsh outfit still have two games in hand but compared to full time at St.Andrew, when they were one point behind with three games over us, things feel a touch less angsty.What a difference 7(seven) days can make! With Norwich City travelling to Wycombe Wanderers this lunchtime before hosting us midweek, the battle at the top of the Championship table is more alive than ever.

We can only start with Brentford, though. My word, even by our standards it was a horror show of a start. There was the classic ‘early goal’ conceded after an attempted pass out by David Raya went the same was as it did to gift Coventry their second goal last weekend. With less than thirty seconds on the clock and seemingly under no pressure, he rolled a clearance straight to Stoke City player  Tommy Smith who took the unselfish option and squared to Jacob Brown. There was no mistake with the simplest of finishes and that was it. 1-0 down. 

You do it to yourself, you do. And that’s what really hurts,” as popular music’s Radiohead once sang. It was almost a mirror image of last weekend and totally inexplicable. For what its worth, I think Raya is hands down, if not feet, the best in the division although one can only imagine some specific practice in training this week ! Let’s put this down to bad luck and get it behind us. Fast.

So there we were again. A goal down. A goal that, being honest, was as gifted as they come. Opponents who we then struggled to make any headway agasint. They bossed the midfield and pressed us hard. So hard. Brentford forced to go backwards and sideways with such regularity it was almost as though Thomas Frank had been possessed by the spirit of Marinus Dijkhuizen. Oh, this was tough. The Bees unable to make any headway, time and again attempting to play it through the eye of a needle in midfield before getting snuffed out. Stoke City physical, solid, determined. Expending so much energy that as the quite excellent Charlie MacDonald in the I-follow commentary box noted,’There’s no way they’ll be able to keep this up in the second half.’ My word, he was right.

Once again, Brentford came out flying. The change in approach, coupled with some tactical substitutions for the Stoke players who had already picked up bookings, was palpable. If ever the notion that football is a game of 90 minutes could be demonstrated then then here it was. With Stoke seemingly burnt out, the Bees were flying. Pressure built. The flanks were finally used. Mbeumo finding his feet. Within ten minutes, the scores levelled after that absolute blockbuster from Vitaly. Sh*t. Did you see that? He must have a foot like a traction engine. To coin a phrase. Goal of the season contender and then some. It was a moment to make us scream the house down. The neighbours thinking, well I don’t know what but, frankly, for a moment like this then who cares? It was incredible. A strike that warrants viewing after viewing after viewing. How do we find them? Hats off to our DOFS once more.

Stoke left dead on their feet – loved this one from ‘official’

Magnificent though the goal was, and it was, there was still a hell of a lot more to do. Swansea City were winning. We weren’t. Then the bench kicked in. Jensen and Canos both on. The tempo increasing. The Bees coming ever closer to what felt like it must be inevitable. On 77 minutes a very welcome return fro Christian Norgaard. The Dane replacing Janelt who left with his head held high. A first league start in an eternity and what a time for him to re-enter the fray. Within two minutes we were ahead. Yet another Brentford trend of the season, a goal for Ivan Toney. He got on the end of a ball from Mbeumo to guide it home for 2-1. A 25th of the league campaign and now six clear of Adam Armstrong in the race for the golden boot. Incredible. Just incredible. With 13 games left, what could he finish on? What records could he break?

Even better though. As we took the lead, so did Bristol City. And then they did it again. With our own game  steered safely home, the Robins delivered the ultimate of favours. Three points denied Swansea and a further goal difference shift in our favour. There’s still a hell of a long way to go on that front but compared to last Saturday lunchtime, things certainly heading in a much better direction. If nothing else, it was quite wonderful seeing our more excitable element discover that the Championship is decided on a season’s worth of results rather than a car crash at Coventry or a 7(seven) day blip. Not that I’m counting chickens here because I’m not. I’m as confident as I have been all season but, also, acutely aware that  football is football and Brentford is Brentford. Get complacent or arrogant and you get bitten on the arse. At the same time, the table doesn’t lie and I’d rather be sitting in our shoes than anybody else. Perhaps Norwich City aside. The trick now is to keep on turning that screw. Starting Wednesday at Carrow Road. Cripes, that’s going to be immense.

For now, though, its all about another wonderful team performance. At least, in the second half. I’m still not sure what caused the no-show in the first half but kudos to the Bees for hanging in there. Likewise to Stoke City for really making us work for it. In the end though, it was a game we grew in to. It was a game that never felt it would slip away the more it went on. The return of Norgaard about as big a boost as one could hope for. Likewise, the signing of Winston Reid looking as shrewd an acquisition as they come.

I don’t want to get overly carried away here. The Championship still has a huge distance to run and will have more shocks, twists and surprises for sure. Yesterday was a huge psychological boost for Brentford – and perhaps even some of our Twitter crew – on and off the pitch What a way to set up the Norwich City game. See you there. On the sofa. Until then, I might just go and watch that Janelt goal one more time.

Things I’d forgotten about. Could Norwich’s loss be our gain on Wednesday?

Nick Bruzon 

It’s all happening at the top of the table this weekend.

27 Feb

Another huge weekend in the Championship. It’s relentless. Exhausting. Captivating. Utterly, utterly compelling. For Brentford, a patched up team returned to winning ways against Sheffield, Wednesday, and now welcome a visit from Stoke City. Elsewhere, we’ll all be hoping that Bristol City and Bournemouth can reignite their spluttering play-off campaigns as they face off against Swansea City and Watford respectively. The Cherries getting things under way today with a lunchtime kick-off on Sky before we all wait for Norwich City to wrap things up at Wycombe on Sunday.

We all know the shape of the table. We can all see Norwich 7(seven) points clear with Brentford next up. Albeit hanging in there by virtue of our goal difference. What price the free-scoring heroics of Ivan Toney, ably assisted by Sergi Canos, now? Cripes, the top of the table is tight. There are going to be plenty of twists still to come in the final 13 games and the midweek result couldn’t have come at a better time. The horror show of Coventry City expunged and those thrown together to plug the gaps more than pulling it together in style. I thought Winston Reid was immense whilst Mads Bech Sørensen slotted in for Rico Henry quite wonderfully. Good thing too as he’s going to have to do it for most of the remaining season. Replacing the division’s best left back, and a player who one way or another will be in the top flight next season, no small ask. Kudos, Mads.

We all ended Wednesday happy

But it was a determined, feisty performance all round. Not our super slick best but still a million miles away from Coventry. The new look line up finding their feet and then stepping it up as the big guns eased their way back into action from the bench. There was Emiliano Marcondes. Josh Dasilva. Ivan Toney. All making late appearances that coincided with Brentford turning the screw. Samman Ghoddos and Bryan Mbeumo both starting and scoring. Both assisting. Both, being honest, afforded chances that had they been taken would have stretched the scoreline even further. But you can’t be disappointed to end the day with three goals, three points and a clean sheet. The stats, and table, don’t lie. 3-0 is 3-0 is 3-0. I’d have bitten my own hand off for that prior to kick off. Who know how much of a psychological boost Huddersfield Town’s thrashing of Swansea immediately after the debacle at St. Andrew’s proved to be? Either way, we go into the games today infinitely happier than when we turned off the TV last week. Cries of “What the actual just happened…” (or similar) ringing around our house following the most excruciating of displays. 

That was then. This is now. 7(seven) days is a hell of along time in football. Positivity restored and it will go through the roof should we come out of the game with Stoke smiling. Not that we’re going to find that an easy task. Four points outside the play-offs themselves, we join Swansea and Bournemouth in facing teams desperate to make that surge into the promotion pack. Teams who would jump at the chance for a cliffhanger at the W place in North London. The Potters, a dogged side that could almost be argued to have inherited the mantle of being our bogey team form Middlesbrough. 

Nothing needs to be said about our last two encounters – firstly the end of season implosion at their Bet 365 stadium when the promotion opportunity was finally in our hands. Following that was the disaster in this season’s visit when we didn’t so much fall apart as not even show up in that first half. Both deeply frustrating results but, in part, down to the pressure and then the team being re-jigged this time around. Both games we’ll learn from and what better time than now to avoid an unwelcome statistical hat-trick.

One can only assume that the starting line up today will be slightly more recognisable when ‘official’ announce it at 2.02pm. Might we even get a look at the lesser spotted Nørgaard? If Ivan Toney coming off the bench was a bonus, the return of someone who is probably our most influential player cannot come soon enough. The rock at the base of the midfield. We thought it was happening in December but then there was that late setback. Christian not celebrating at Christmas. Now, the talk from Thomas Frank has been super positive and with him, perhaps, underplaying the positions of Ivan and Josh prior to Wednesday, could this great Dane be closer than we think to an appearance? Optimistic to the last. That’s me. I’d love to see him back although can only presume it will be from the bench.

Today won’t be decisive in the promotion stakes whatever happens. Regardless of the 39 points still to play for, we’ve then got Norwich midweek and finish the campaign with games against Watford and Bristol City. Plenty of opportunity to shoot down our rivals (or them, us…) en route to the campaign’s denouement. Yet let’s not pretend that their isn’t a fan amongst us not hoping that Wycombe, Bournemouth and the Robins can pull off the results that their own supporters are so desperate to see this weekend. And if we complete our side of that equation, then all the better. If….

That’s where my focus is today. Anything else a bonus. A boost. All attention on Mark, Marcus and Natalie or whomever we have guiding us through the action from in the I-player commentary box. Edge of the sofa time as it is every Saturday. Lucky shirts back in play (last season’s Ecoworld ‘away’ being worn by me and H the true reason for our win) and waiting for the interminable adverts for FIFA 21 and Carabao that preceded every game.

It’s never easy watching it being played out in an empty stadium on TV. We’d all love to be there. Today probably more then ever where the atmosphere would be a huge factor agasint a team that always make me feel angsty. What play-off final? What disaster on the way home……….? Err. We all now know that won’t be possible this season following the latest roadmap to recovery (or whatever the buzzwords are) announced by Boris. Instead, I’ll see you on the sofa. Metaphorically speaking. Bring it on. Twitter is open. The beers are cold. The football snacks ready. Let’s do this !!!!!!

Nick Bruzon

And breathe. A return to winning ways more than welcome in the circumstances.

25 Feb

As you were in the league table. Brentford remain second albeit a 3-0 win (not a typo) over Sheffield Wednesday saw us nudge further ahead of the chasing pack on the goal difference stakes. However, Norwich, Watford and Swansea all picking up their own three points was reason enough to be glad we were back to winning ways as much because it saw an end to the blip which had seen our huge unbeaten run come to an end in quite cataclysm style. Instead, we’re level on 60 points with the Hornets whilst Swansea sit on 59 , having played two games less. Norwich are, of course, 7(seven) points clear in first but a televised trip to Carrow Road on Wednesday evening (17.30 for that one) could see the punch up at the top of the Championship get even tighter. That’s to come. As is Saturday’s visit from Stoke City. For now it a case of a job very well done.

A much changed Brentford team with no recognised left back or centre-forward saw Bryan Mbeumo  filling in for Ivan Toney (Marcus Forss out with a concussion) and Mads Bech Sørensen covering for Rico. This a position he is going to have to fill for the next two months although based on last night’s showing we seem to have dodged a bullet for sure. One swan doesn’t make a summer but an assured performance and the third goal would have given him confidence by the bucketload. 

Let’s be honest. Who amongst us didn’t feel slightly anxious going in to this one? Yes, I’ve got tons of optimism but the niggling self-doubt that goes with being a Brentford  / football fan had been tested on that three match run. With big names missing already, the press conference given by Thomas Frank yesterday had caused additional trepidation as to how we would line up. Along with Marcus, he also declared Ivan and Josh Dasilva missing (although both would be named on the bench, both would come off and both would help give the team some added familiarity late on ). However, in the end it saw the above mentioned changes with Sergi and Tariqe alongside Bryan aided and abetted by Ghoddos and Jensen give us a relatively familiar feel.

Understandably things started slowly although the positive being we didn’t concede first (see also: pretty much every game in February). Instead, the Bees took the lead mid-way through the first half when Bryan Mbeumo guided an effort from Sergi home at point blank range – or it hit him in the face and turned in, you choose. Either way, his reaction time was impeccable and the goal stood. The net rippling, Peter Gilham cheering and any pre-match nerves falling away by the bucketload. The memory of ‘that’ false nine formation at QPR under Dean Smith disappearing as quickly as it had come on seeing the inevitable team selection.

Half-time came and went. A game of few chances saw Brentford in control and biting hard. Some much missed steel returning in style. Move along Henrik, nothing to see here. Thankfully Keith Stroud was keeping time from the side rather than our man in the middle ! Sheffield Wednesday unable to make inroads and the changes from the bench, which also saw a return to action for Emiliano Marcondes, were sufficient to help wrap up the points. Samman Ghoddos first on the scoresheet, having missed out earlier in the half with a glorious chance when he placed it just wide after being left totally unmarked. This time there was no mistake , with Mbeumo turning provider and a beautiful finish to double the lead.

With the Bees pressing, Mads made it three. This time Ghoddos suppling the killer assist which was met with a well placed header that the keeper could only slow down on its way into the back of the net. 3-0 and game over. It might have been more had other chances gone in. That’s football though and the final score is all that counts. I’d have taken 3-0 all night long had it been offered beforehand. Which, of course, it isn’t. For the full match report you’ve got the usual places as a good start: Brentford official and the BBC (as long as you can go into it on the  assumption their reporter is either an Owls’ fan or has some sort of anti-Bees agenda).

It wasn’t overly pretty and it wasn’t our usual slick play. The absolutely key thing being three points on the board and our performance one which saw the Bees keep going and then turn the screw in testing circumstances. Winston Reid and Ethan Pinnock immense at the back. David Raya not really given the chance to be tested, barring one first half-effort. We’ll have more options for the game with Stoke City on Saturday and then the Norwich fixture. Neither are going to be easy, that’s for sure. Then again, nobody said the Championship was a walk in the park. All we can do is worry about ourselves and keep up the pressure. Keep on banging in the goals. Keep on churning out there results, It may not always be super slick but the-performance was a hundred miles away from the horror show at Coventry City. For that, I’m a happy, happy man. Lesson learned. Can they be applied again? Roll on Saturday when we find out.

And relax – we all feel it. Brentford official published this on their Twitter last night

Nick Bruzon