Tag Archives: table

A double return for club legends as things crank up at the top.

23 Jan

Another night of Championship action saw more going the way of Brentford. Nottingham Forest warmed up for Tuesday night’s six-pointer after being pegged back by Reading to draw their game in hand 1-1 at The City Ground. Elsewhere, Fulham failed to trouble the scorers as they ended proceedings at Charlton with a 0-0. It is a result that leaves the temporarily third placed team two points ahead of The Bees but with an extra game played. And as a curtain raiser to Saturday’s FA Cup action, Leicester City looked in devastatingly strong form as they blitzed West Ham 4-1 in the Premier League. I guess you could say, West Hammered…. I’ll get my coat.

For a night where Brentford fans had to sit back on the couch to watch things unfold around us (or ‘Kirsty and Phil’, as happened in our house –  I’m keeping those remote control green cards up my sleeve), it all went surprisingly well. The Nottingham Forest performance was one that the BBC described afterwards as “A lacklustre game”, in which they left it very late to take the lead before letting the visitors back in just three minutes later. Sound familiar? Pretty sure something similar happened 11 days ago, too. Things are somewhat grim when Reading are deemed your Nemesis but it is still another point. Former Bee Lewis Grabban (what must he be worth these days?) scoring the goal for the home team which moves him to within two of Ollie Watkins at the top of The Championship golden boot chart. 

The result itself leaves Brentford fifth, for now, with Forest going one point ahead of us. However, with their visit to Griffin Park scheduled for this Tuesday destiny is very much in our own hands. Victory for The Bees is guaranteed to take us back to third place. This, after Fulham were held at The Valley. Huff, Puff, Oooh but no reward would seem to have been the order of the day there. As we’ve said many times, most recently at Huddersfield last Saturday, if you can’t find the back of the net it counts for nothing. They’ll be as happy as we were to remain unbeaten, of course, but it does mean we have a wonderful chance to restore the natural order of things at the business end of The Championship. Perhaps even crank up that pressure even more on Leeds and West Brom – both currently choking  (another) seemingly uncatchable lead like Greg Norman in a bunker.

All of which sets Tuesday up wonderfully but before that we have the small matter of Leicester City in the FA Cup. Expect a big house and a wonderful atmosphere for that one, regardless of who Thomas Frank chooses to start with.

Interestingly, I saw a tweet from the GPG last night suggesting some form of possible team news. A number of squad players missed the B team game in Portugal (including Mads Roeslev and Jan Zamburek) whilst the legend that is Sam Saunders got a run out towards the end, suggesting it somewhat unlikely he’ll be lined up for a stunning comeback to first team action. Or was it a late fitness test? One can dream. 

Certainly, Sam’s return to action was one that that nobody saw coming until official Twitter did their thing. Whilst it is perhaps a leap too far to ever imagine he’ll be able to forsake his new role for a return to first team action, the chance to say “And this is Saunders’ territory” for real once more has certainly put a smile on the face this morning.

Sam Saunders black kit

One can dream

Sam wasn’t the only Griffin Park hero doing his thing, either. The club has announced that Marcus Gayle has taken up a role as a Club Ambassador. Chief executive Jon Varney telling ‘official’ that, “His service both on and off the pitch to Brentford has meant that he’s already much-loved by both supporters and staff alike. Marcus has such a lot to offer by representing the Club on matchdays and continuing to build our profile in the industry as well as supporting key projects in the local community and our plans for the move to our new stadium“.

Well said, Jon. And well done Marcus. A hero to all, his service on the pitch was legendary. Here’s to things continuing off it. You can read that one in full, here.

Marcus – then and now

As for Leicester City, they got their shooting boots warmed up in some style as they returned to winning ways against one time World Cup winners West Ham. 4-1 is a landslide at any level and was a result which, whilst boosting confidecne, was marred by injuries to both Nampalys Mendy and Jamie Vardy. The latter suffering an apparent hamstring problem which he attempted, but failed, to run off. 

At full time, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers told the press that “It is not his hamstring which is good. Hopefully over the next couple of days it will ease off and he will be fit. Jamie is a real talisman for the team but if we are going to have success it is about the team”. All of which suggests that had there been any chance of him starting at the weekend, that has now gone the same way Leeds’ confidence levels i.e. dead in the water.  Full details of that one are on the BBC match report.

It’s a huge shame for the player and the club, of course. Vardy now denied the chance to run out at Griffin Park before we move home whilst The Bees miss out on the opportunity to test ourselves against the very best. If nothing else, Leicester’s form is one of the few things keeping the top end of the Premier League vaguely interesting. Making it technically competitive in a division where, as it stands, Liverpool are thirteen points clear with two games in hand. Even the Scottish top flight is tighter than that (not a typo). So a short absence for Moriarty’s other half can only be a good thing.

Yet, like us, regardless of who may be missing it is very much about using the whole of your squad to the best of the situation. I have no doubt this is going to be as tough a challenge as they come. And it is one I cannot wait for. The BBC studio is already in place and the pitch ready. All that remains is for two more sleeps to happen and then we can get things going.

Bring it on. See you there.

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Here’s to more of this on Saturday…

Nick Bruzon

Tricky choices for the boss. Brutal words to a special Guest.

21 Jan

Oh my word. Would you believe it?. There were smiles all over Brentford last night after yet another favour going our way at the top of the Championship table. Stoke City hung on to beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at the Hawthorns, meaning the gap between ourselves and the top spot is locked in at six points. With the Baggies and Leeds United both to visit Griffin Park still, along with Nottingham Forest in a week’s time, the league continues to prove itself the most exciting in Europe. Elsewhere, some audio has emerged from the Dave Berry Breakfast show on Absolute Radio after a listener, Brian Guest, got in contact regarding Fulham and their clappers at the weekend.

First up, West Bromwich Albion. Oh my, Just when the Championship couldn’t get any more unexpected, it has. And then some. I have to be honest that watching this one on Sky last night, I couldn’t help but feel Stoke City were only moments away from collapsing after their early goal. Surely West Brom would find a way through? Surely? But no. Wave after wave of pressure was repelled as the Potters closed out the game in some style. It all looked so, so controlled by the end of it. The home side unable to penetrate and their record now stretching out to one win in eight league games. See also: Leeds United. 

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As it now stands on the BBC

All of which makes the point earned by Brentford on Saturday seem even more valuable than it did back then. Sure, 0-0 hardly reeks of glamour (on paper) but I’d take it over defeat any day of the week. I’m ecstatic about the way the top two keep on hitting ‘self-destruct’. How that once humungous lead is now becoming thinner by the week.

It all goes to make next week’s visit of Nottingham Forest to Griffin Park all the more crucial. The Tricky Trees sit just behind us. Level on points but some way back on goal difference. However, they have that all important additional opportunity that is provided by having played one game fewer. Whilst I’m a firm believer in the adage that points in the bag are better than games in hand, you can bet they’ll be bang up for what is a real six pointer.

If anything, the short term destiny of The Championship is very much in their hands. Aswell as the game at Brentford, their next five fixtures include a visit from Leeds United and a trip to West Bromwich Albion. On current form, a guaranteed six points. Ahh, if only football really was that simple. The positive news here being that if Brentford keep doing their thing, then something else will go in our favour. One of those three teams has no choice but to drop points. 

I’d go so far to say that, and whisper this in hushed tones, Tuesday is more important than the visit of Leicester City in the FA Cup this weekend. I love the tournament and am desperate to proceed but if the price of keeping our assault on the upper echelons of the table going is to keep our squad fresh and play some of the B-team, then name Jan Zamburek as captain right now. Return Emiliano Marcondes to the line up. Stick Luke Daniels between the posts.

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I’m all for this on Saturday

Who knows what Thomas is thinking about there. Who’d be a head coach? For all we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves, and play-off zone consolidation has to be the immediate aim, that narrowing gap to the top makes for the most tempting prize. Like Indiana Jones reaching for the idol, would we unleash all manner of mayhem and chaos if we made a grab for it? For me, it has to be worth the gamble of naming a less familiar starting XI in the cup. 

I’ll still be 100% behind the Bees and screaming support but wouldn’t be anywhere near as disappointed as I was at Arsenal when we saw Dean Smith’s initial line up for that one last season. Then, the campaign was fresh with a wonderful chance to make a name for ourselves. Now, we’re knee deep in the blood of our Championship rivals and looking to take down more. That has to be where the resources are ploughed. Unless, of course, the players are fit enough for another stint of four games in fourteen days (at least, my fingers only go up to ten). Whomever is named, both games represent wonderful opportunities and I can’t wait.

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Alan Judge pulls one back against Arsenal

Elsewhere, I was listening to national station Absolute Radio yesterday morning. Specifically, the Dave Berry breakfast show where our eponymous host, co-host / Nottingham Forest supporter Matt Dyson, and sports anchor Glenn Moore were contacted by a listener. Brian Guest.

On hearing his name my ears pricked up. If memory serves, he may have once had a body of work published in the Fulham match day programme when The Bees came to visit. Getting one (or three) past the editor to reflect on some of their lesser moments whilst under the guise of supporting the home club. Or something like that.

Dave had asked listeners to sum up their weekend, but in just six words. It’s a regular part of the Monday show and it seems Brian is an avid listener. He got in touch to share the update, “Fulham had clappers. Why? Why? Why?”

It was a question which clearly nudged the boundaries of curiosity, and common sense, as the results are below. Enjoy. Unless you support Fulham……

Nick Bruzon  

It’s even tighter at the top as pressure grows.

19 Jan

A 0-0 draw at Huddersfield Town keeps the Brentford streak going. That’s one defeat in eight games as The Bees kept up the pressure on the top two. With Leeds United falling apart (again), their own 1-0 loss at Loftus Road yesterday means the gap from us to second is now down to 5 points from the 12 that it was just a few weeks ago. Hoping for a QPR win wasn’t the most enjoyable way to spend a Saturday lunchtime, and one which could be better translated as more praying for an away disaster, but events transpired in our favour and that’ll do me looking at the table this morning. Whilst Fulham remain fractionally  ahead of us, there was at least the consolation of watching their supporters spend all day crying on social media over the ‘clappers’ video’ from yesterday’s piece. There, there – mummy will kiss it better. Factor in the added bonus of Leicester City being next up in the FA Cup and its all happening in TW8.

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Brentford ‘official’ sum it up on Twitter

First up, Huddersfield Town. It was a performance that Thomas Frank would describe at full time as ‘average’ , saying he wasn’t happy with a point. Good man – high levels of expectation and long may that continue. Personally, 0-0 doesn’t look great on paper but this was a team missing both Pontus Jansson and Mathias Jensen. Both were deemed to be injured although one does then wonder if it leaves them fresh / available for the Leicester game. You know, just to keep the legs ticking over. Thomas would suggest in his interview (below) that it may be a game too soon for the midfielder but we’ll see. 

As for positives, it was another clean sheet to the Championship’s tightest defence. In a game of few chances, Brentford arguably had the majority. Josh Dasilva coming closest as he hit the post late on, albeit we all know that shots at goal count for naff all if you can’t put them away. But, it’s a point on the road. It’s another game unbeaten. It’s even more ground gained on the top two. It’s further psychological pressure applied to a Leeds United side who continue to astound with their ability to hit the meltdown button. 

Thomas tells it how it is.

We’re never going to pick up three points EVERY game. That’s not how football works, generally. Albeit, the memory of Liverpool and Manchester City matching each other win for win last season as the Premier League rolled out to that relentless conclusion  is still fresh in the mind. Liverpool are doing it again this time around whilst everybody else around them has reverted to what is considered the norm in footballing form. At least, for teams competing at the business end. Win most games, draw a few and slip up every now and again. Just look at the defeats for Leicester last weekend (Southampton) or Chelsea yesterday (injury hit Newcastle). So a point for Brentford is something I’ll embrace. Moreso in the bigger picture of how the season end table may play out. The key thing at this juncture is not to be hitting the skids. Not to be ‘doing a Leeds’. Not to have a record akin to West Brom, who are currently experiencing similarly patchy form.

I’m just gad that the emotional investment in proceedings at Loftus Road wasn’t wasted. Nobody wants to hope for an away defeat there, in the normal course of events, although this is anything but a normal season. So things couldn’t have turned out any better than hoped for. At least, from a Brentford / Leeds perspective. Patrick Bamford saw a penalty saved and Kalvin Phillips was shown a straight red late on for a horror challenge that summed up the wretched state of affairs currently being enjoyed / endured (delete as applicable) by the Elland Road outfit. They host Millwall next Tuesday with the Lions looking to go one better than their current position just outside the play-off zone. That promises to be fun. 

At the same time, we’re home to Nottingham Forest with the FA cup sandwiched in between. Excitement levels continue to build in this part of West London as the denouement of Griffin Park life draws to a thrilling conclusion. Fighting a battle on two fronts is going to mean some tough decisions are made on Saturday when that team is announced late in the morning. Go for broke in the cup? Stick with the B team? Or play a mix of both? Either way, I can’t wait for the next chapter of the Brentford story to unfold.

See you there.

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Things are getting tight at the top

Nick Bruzon 

New decade. Same brilliance.

2 Jan

What a start to the New Year. A 4-0 win for Brentford at Bristol City about as comprehensive as they come. Robins’ manager Lee Johnson self-combusting in a full time Scrappy Doo impersonation that saw him red carded at full time for an altercation with Thomas Frank.  With Leeds United being held at West Bromwich Albion, the gap to the top two is back down to single figures. The Bees sit third in The Championship after Fulham lost at home. Millwall, Forest and The Cottagers making up the play-off places. Ollie Watkins back up to one goal behind Aleksander Mitrovic at the top of the divisional goal scoring charts after his brace rounded things off following early goals from Bryan Mbeumo and Saïd Benrahma.

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The full time score at Ashton Gate, c/o Quest TV this morning..

We’ve all see this one, presumably? Either as part of the thousand plus who travelled to Ashton Gate or via the red button on Sky. Yet some performances need to be chewed over once more, such was the manner of victory. David Raya set up the first goal with just 6 minutes gone. His enormo-clearance one that might have been selected at Millwall on Sunday. This time he called it right with a ball that must have carried close to three-quarters of the pitch before Ollie picked it off and danced through the visitors defence. They tried but couldn’t stop him and it slipped through for Mbeumo to dink home his tenth of the season.

1-0 and game on. 1-0 and man off. Ashley Williams was shown red just minutes after he and Ollie had both been booked for a coming together. A scything challenge on Watkins resulted in his ejection and with it, the home team’s chance. It was 0-2 moments later. Less than half an hour gone and Benrahma got the goal he’s been looking for in recent weeks. Daniel Bentley could only pat down a Jensen shot and, despite upending Ollie when clean though, was unable to stop Saïd from doing his thing. It all looked ridiculously easy. The decision to trade him in for David Raya being proven more and more an incredible piece of business with each passing game.

A tactical readjustment for the hosts saw them working their way back in to the game. Relatively speaking. They didn’t concede anything further up to half time and even looked vaguely threatening. Yet there was no way through, with one kamikaze backpass in the second period giving even more opportunity for Ollie to join the scorers. His goals eventually coming in the final ten minutes. The first, guiding home a tracer bullet of a cross from Jan Zamburek down the left. His second, capitalising on a Mads Roerslev  (in for Dalsgaard) assist from the other flank.  Bentley only able to parry his header and there was to be no mistake as the ball fell nicely. 4-0 and all done. Barring the full time whistle and Johnson’s punishment. 

It really was a stunning, stunning performance. Thomas Frank’s BMW front three once more driving us forward with speed, skill and flair. It’s hard to believe the Mbeumo is only 20. Amazing to see the advances to Ollie’s game. Saïd on song just speaks for himself. All three once more dividing the goals between them. Benrahama back to his sizzling best. One second half flick over his own head had to be seen to be believed. Filthy, audacious, taking the p. All three rolled up into one and served up with a side salad of confidence and self-belief. Truly, he is a talent to behold.

With that accursed transfer window now open for a month, hanging on to B, M and W will be huge. If we can do it. Yet with spirits high and the team storming the table, why would anybody jump ship now? Yes, I know money talks and this is the naivety of being a fan but the chance to see what this team could do in the second half of the season is an intriguing one.

The defence is tight (we are now clear in the fewest ‘goals against’ chart), the midfield dominant and the attacking trio electric. Leeds United continue to wobble. Their 1-1 with West Brom meaning its only been one win out of the last five for them. Even that needed a 95th minute own goal by Birmingham City to hand them the points after having shipped four themselves.I still think that top two would be Boys Own stuff, relying on a staggering run of favours, but as long as we keep on doing our thing then anything else is a bonus. The gap in the-play off zone is starting to grow with clear air now between us and seventh placed Sheffield Wednesday. Four points the difference and our staggering goal difference of +21 bettered only by West Bromwich Albion.

It is easy to get excited, no question, but why not? Why shouldn’t we enjoy the moment? This team and this performance has been building . The goals have been flying in for months. The team slowly climbing up the table. Sneaking under the radar, if you will, to emerge into 2020 with plaudits from all. We’ve got the FA Cup against Stoke City next and then a return to Griffin Park in the league where QPR visit for our next Championship fixture. With the Lionel Road season tickets also going on sale to us non-premiums, it promises to be an exciting week or two.

Then again, when isn’t it?

Nick Bruzon

Chin up. It could be a lot, lot worse.

30 Dec

Brentford left Millwall on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat on Sunday, following a game that could politely be described as ‘turgid’ . The only goal coming early on after a defensive mishap that culminated in the ball reaching Aiden O’Brien rather than being hoofed clear by David Raya when the initial pressure was minimal. O’Brien made no mistake from outside the box with the net gaping. Eight minutes gone, a goal down (another already disallowed) and that was it for the highlights. Not much else happened. But with Leeds United shipping four to Birmingham City as they finally picked up a win, and West Bromwich Albion going down at home to Middlesbrough, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Besides, we could be Arsenal. Please. Stop sniggering.

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A rare venture in to the Millwall half

First up, well played Millwall. They did an absolute job on us. Brentford were allowed all the ball we wanted in our third of the field but the second we tried to break clear we were closed down. The Lions running at pace to strangle any attempt at playing the ball. Our usual free flowing football snuffed out and no answer available. It was no form of spectacle but goals win games and if the price of that was anti-football then well down to our hosts. They absolutely came out on top there. 

A chance for Mbeumo on half-time and a bobbled shot from the unmarked Jan Zamburek late on were about as good as it got for Brentford. We were out muscled with the three bookings for the home side feeling somewhat on the generous side. Referee Robert Jones surprising us on more than one occasion by keeping his cards in his pocket. Who knows what goes on in the minds of the officials but, being honest, Brentford could have been playing against nine men and I don’t think we’d have scored. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

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‘No foul, ref!’ Seems fair

So. Not great but let’s not lose heart. This was one game and we know what this team can do. Even West Brom lost (at home) whilst Leeds United needed an own goal deep, deep into injury time to pick up the points at Birmingham City. The 4-5 scoreline there meaning that we are now level with them on goals against. No team in the Championship has conceded fewer (happy?) than our, and their, 20 in 25 games. Interestingly, Leeds have let in half that total in the last four games alone. Kudos to our defence for being so consistent, despite what happened yesterday. Concern for theirs as it seems to be hitting some sort of self-destruct mode.

Technically, we’ve made ground on the currently second placed team. West Bromwich Albion lost top spot after losing 0-2 against rapidly improving Middlesbrough. For The Bees, it means we’ve clawed one back in the potentially crucial goal difference stakes.  

Clutching at straws? Perhaps. But the big, big thing for me is that we end 2019 sitting fourth in the Championship table. Fourth. That’s a stunning achievement and leaves The Bees magnificently set as we enter the second half of the campaign. It was only a few months ago that a significant element of the fanbase were calling for the head of Thomas Frank. How ridiculous does that seem now? How ridiculous was it then? Now look at us. Look at him. It’s a wonderful time to be a Brentford supporter and has been for years (the Marinus experiment aside).

Nobody has a divine right to be ‘any good’. Past form counts for naff all if you can’t cut it on the pitch at present. Look at how Birmingham City continue to under achieve despite all their investment and all their noise over recent years. Look at the Premier league where the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United are patchy, at best. Despite now being on their third manager since the departure of Arsene Wenger in May 2018, the Gunners’ woes continue. They are now closer to the Premier League relegation spots than the Europa League places. Pretensions of grandeur built on a rose tinted idyll of marble halls and Invincibles still reigning supreme over the reality that is a bang average team, with one good player, having taken residence in a library.

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Arsenal in a nutshell – an oldie but a goodie

Brentford are the other way. We know our limits. We know our history. We know how awful things have been for so, so long. Being honest, yesterday’s game could have been copy-pasted straight out of the Terry Butcher era. No attacking threat and a sloppy goal against. The difference being that those of us who are a bit longer in the tooth can recognise how amazing things are now. Have been for the last ten years. 

I can understand our younger element expecting nothing but WWWW and that’s fair enough. They’ve only ever known good times. Yet for me, it is a case of every win and every step up the table being another crazy reminder as to how far we have come.

So yes, let’s not pretend that yesterday wasn’t disappointing. It was. But as much because I went into it genuinely thinking that we’d win. That’s nothing to do with Millwall but simply the self-belief and confidence that surrounds Griffin Park at present. Every game is another opportunity to continue this amazing journey that, one hopes, will end with us playing (or overtaking) the likes of Arsenal next season.

Having slept on it, perhaps this was a reminder that some of us needed. Myself included. Confidence is a great thing but this is one of the toughest leagues in world football. Anyone can beat anyone. Look at Middlesbrough. Look at Millwall. Look at Preston (who went down at home to Reading). We have a wonderful team who can take on the best on our day. 

Sadly, yesterday wasn’t it.

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Nick Bruzon

What a weekend awaits. Sofa Saturday and a Super Sunday.

28 Dec

A rare Saturday without football for Brentford. Our time comes tomorrow with the trip to Millwall and the chance to see if we can build on the Boxing Day tonking of Swansea that saw the Bees end the day in third place. Instead, there’s the rare opportunity for the Premier League to take centre stage this afternoon. It is one that should be grabbed, lest we forget about the people who actually invented our beloved sport back in the early 90s. More importantly, it’s a reminder that The Last Word Fantasy Football competition is still running. Suddenly, the 3-2 kicking administer by Wolves to Manchester City last night becomes of crucial importance. There’s more than just the comedy factor of watching Manchester United hit self-destruct (again – think of them as a top flight Leeds United) in the evening game at Burnley. And who doesn’t love seeing Neal Maupay do his thing? Fingers crossed for a Brighton penalty kick today!!

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Come on Neal. More of this would be lovely ( I need the points)

So what have we learned so far? Well, yours truly really is the numpty on the terrace. Ranked 52 out of 66 – and that’s by actually trying to compete. Why bother? Honestly, setting the team to random mode would have more success. I’m that tempted to go there for the second half of the season, just to try and prove a point.

On the plus side, it does mean I can’t win my own competition – as if that was ever even a possibility. For those still curious / playing, the current top ten is below. Ben Shephard is at the top (anyone? Presumably not the host of daytime TV’s  Tipping Point ?)  and then supporter Simon Burns is coming in second. This is taken post Wolves but pre Brighton, so this could all move around once the rest of the games play out.

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Current standings

In all seriousness though, the thought of a lazy day is something I’m quite looking forward to. Some calm before tomorrow’s storm. Harry’s football club is closed, for once, and Brentford go to Millwall on Sunday. Mrs Bruzon is out with her parents so there’s nothing more to do today than watch Neal banging them in for Brighton at lunch, fall asleep on the couch in front of Jeff Stelling in the afternoon and then pay a passing homage to events at Turf Moor.

Not that I’ve got anybody from either side in my Fantasy team. Not even number 26. Although given the aforementioned inability to pick winners, his absence from my line up is one that should be considered a de facto guarantee to lump it on. He’s 14/1 to score (for Burnley) at any time, although those odds don’t seem to factor in any potential family related absence so invest at your own risk.

And then it all goes again tomorrow. Brentford make the short trip across London to the Lion’s Den where the pressure on the team will be immense. From the top of the club to the very bottom we all know what is at stake. From Matthew Benham through Thomas Frank, the players and the fans. Everybody is fully aware what will be the consequences of anything not going to plan….

Concede and we’ll be subject to ‘that’ toe-curling song. If Mrs. Browns Boys teamed up with Dick Van Dyke to do goal music. Whilst wearing Ali-Baba slippers.

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We’ve been there before…

Forget the ‘no-one likes us’ stuff. Good luck if it makes them happy. Besides, I can relate to this. In part. It’s as much a part of the Millwall legacy as our own being called a tinpot / little / pub / bus stop team Albeit, theirs is self-created (why is that now?) whilst we always look to answer our critics on the pitch.   

But that song. Urghh. Take a look at yourselves. And I apologies for mentioning it every season but it’s godawful shite. F*ck me, I’d be more embarrassed than Madonna on a staircase if that was my club. And we should know about cringe, given the awfulness of #trophyfriends. Never forget.  

Just about forgivable as ‘walk out’ fodder, it’s only a Pearly queen short of a full house in cliche bingo. But the true horror being that it then doubles up as goal music. Something we all know shouldn’t be allowed in football stadia – see also: ball boys waving giant flags, fans with drums, Mr. Portsmouth and his bell, Mexican Waves and the England supporters band. Basically, anything needed to try and generate an atmosphere.

For crying out loud, if you can’t get turned on by the ball hitting the back of the net then there’s something seriously wrong. If things are so flaccid that you need Roy Green singing about jellied eels to give you a boost of footballing viagra then perhaps it’s time to just give up and call it a day.

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The Millwall song. Currently residing alongside Mr. Portsmouth and Mexican waves.

We digress. The point being that Brentford have it all to do if we are to maintain third place and, maybe, further close the gap on Leeds United. That’s a big ask, of course. Much as they have that wonderful ability to hit self-destruct, and their current record reads DLD, not even they can cock up a trip to Birmingham City. Harlee Dean and his Blues are simply too poor at present. Whilst Boxing Day saw just about everybody at the business end of the table do us a favour, this time we’re on our own.  We have to win to progress. We have to keep a clean sheet to spare the supporters.

Frankly, I can’t wait for this one. I expect everybody around us to get maximum points on Sunday . Even Fulham, who are home to Stoke City. So the onus has to be on us to go for it. And we will. This team only knows one way to play. Attack. Score. Win.  Our goal difference speaks for itself. Our defensive solidity is renowned. Our fans loud. The atmosphere magnificent.

It won’t be easy. Bums might even squeak for a bit. But it has the potential to round off 2019 in quite wonderful style. If you are still thinking about going, then what’s to decide? Get off the couch and get going. It’s a Sofa Saturday followed by a Super Sunday.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Frank is sense. Christmas gifts see Bees go third.

27 Dec

What an afternoon. Brentford ended the day sitting third in the Championship after Swansea City were the latest to be on the receiving end of a Griffin Park trouncing. A brace from Ollie Watkins and another goal for Bryan Mbeumo putting this one out of sight, despite a tired second half flurry from the visitors. With Leeds United falling apart (again), the gap to ‘automatic’ is now down to single figures – 8 points being the difference. Even then, they needed an 89th minute equaliser from Stuart Dallas to rescue a point at home to Preston. With West Bromwich Albion (Barnsley) and Fulham (Luton) both drawing against the divisional whipping boys and Sheffield Wednesday going down to Stoke City, our rivals for the top spots formed an orderly queue to take their turn of delivering The Bees a Christmas gift. Specifically that of doing us a favour. The thought of our trip to Millwall on Sunday has suddenly become very appealing (not a typo).

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Thomas enjoys the moment at Full Time

You’ve all seen the action, presumably. Either as part of a packed Griffin Park or c/o the Sky coverage that meant our game went out live to the nation yesterday. At least, the part that doesn’t want their live action left in a recycling box or sitting on the doorstep. Otherwise, the official highlights are further below. Mbeumo opened proceedings early on. Guiding home a corner that had been headed back across the face of goal by an unmarked Ethan Pinnock. The big man, who had retained his place alongside the returning Pontus Jansson, doing magnificently to make the room and plop it straight on to Bryan’s head.

Twenty minutes gone and 1-0 up. There was barely time for anybody taking a toilet break to get back to their seats before the lead was double. None other than Ollie Watkins. The striker, and that’s what he is, grabbing a true poacher’s goal as he stuck out a leg to steer a Rico Henry cross past the despairing Freddy Woodman in the away goal. 2-0 and, surely, that was it?

Well, yes. Although being Brentford we had a little moment just after the hour when David Raya was unable to smother a shot from Bersant Celina and Andre Ayew was closest to the loose ball. Urghh. With that, the Swans got their tails up. But rather than breaking Brentford’s arm with their wing men, it was the Bees who broke their spirits. The pressure was, as ever, contained and Ollie Watkins wrapped things up. Sprinting clear, he charged down on the goal to make things safe as we headed towards injury time. There was to be no sweating on the result. No clenched buttocks. No last minute stress. The final whistle a perfunctory noise greeted with ecstasy rather than relief. And that was before we checked ‘other results’.

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The Bees were dominant

Honestly, one can’t even begin to describe the mood around the place at present. EVERYBODY has faith. Has confidence. The players are calm under pressure and exhilarating on the ball. The fans lapping it up. Peter Gilham losing his shit on the public address system. Each announcement becoming more and more enthused.

The piece about him in The Guardian yesterday described how he was offered a script but refused it. Thank goodness. We all know how incredible he is but to hear his joy transmit to the fans and the players is all a part of what is helping make our success. Even at half time, he stood there with mic in hand, not even lifting it to his lips until he had clapped everybody off and into the changing room. You may not have noticed this in the rush for the beer queue and the ablutions block but I stood and watched. What a man. The beating heart of our club.

But then, what a team. Matthew Benham’s genius and Thomas Frank’s approach have delivered up a squad that is the envy of all. A team built on a metaphorical shoe string (relatively), with a makeshift centre forward, that continue to defy expectation. At least, of those looking in. We’ve seen this coming for years. The diamonds unearthed and sold on. Their replacements being even better than before. The momentum building. The confidence high. 

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Safe to say that this performance was well received

Yet this feels like nothing I’ve experienced before. Even under the continuing highs that we’ve been served up over the last ten seasons. Now, I expect to win every game. That’s not arrogance. It’s confidence. It’s a reflection in the ability that this team has. The perfect blend of youth and experience. Unfettered skill allowed to run riot. Wise heads at the back to give guiding advice. Pontus is our big name at the back but don’t overlook Henrik Dalsgaard either. His lungs must be be gargantuan.

Next up Millwall (away) on Sunday. What an opportunity awaits if we can carry on doing what we’ve done so far. Then it’s Bristol City on New Year’s Day. Whilst one doesn’t like to look too far ahead, that game is mentioned more as an incentive (should any, somehow, be needed) for that trip to the New Den. After we run out at Ashton Gate,  West Bromwich Albion host Leeds United. Either way, something has to give.

For now, though, it’s a period of reflection. Of enjoying what was a quite incredible end to 2019 at Griffin Park. There’s the short hop to South-East London on Sunday and with it, the opportunity to carry on this enjoying this fantastic period. I’m sorry, the words are kind of failing me this morning. I’m sitting here with a huge grin on the face at this obscene hour of the day. I’m about to head back to work but the thought of commuting is, for once, not the usual harbinger of doom and gloom that comes with rising at this time of the day. Instead, there’s a big smile and a genuine feeling of well being. That’s down to Peter. To Thomas. To Matthew. To Bryan. To Ollie. To Henrik, Pontus, Josh, Ethan and the rest of the team. 

That’s down to everyone. THANK YOU. See you on Sunday… Until then, here’s the action once more

 

Nick Bruzon

As the fixture list kicks in, there’s a wonderful opportunity to be grabbed.

26 Dec

Thank goodness for football today. However you celebrated yesterday, the pressure is now off. Gifts have been bought, meals cooked and kitchen cleaned. Kind of. Still, that’s a problem for later. This afternoon we’ve got one of several opportunities to catch Brentford in TV action over the coming weeks as we play host to Swansea City in the live Sky game. A wonderful opportunity for supporters displaced by the festive period, I suppose, but no substitute for actually being at Griffin Park. The game sees our Bees sitting in the play-off zone and the Swans just outside by virtue of goal difference. Both teams knowing that a mere two points separate them from third placed Sheffield Wednesday. With Brentford flying, the mood is one of excitement. We annihilated Fulham last time out at home and can probably feel justified in thinking we may have come away from West Bromwich Albion with more. It promises to be a Christmas cracker (urghh, went there). But can we land a knockout blow on Boxing Day? (sorry).

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Full time celebrations last time out at home

The performance at West Bromwich Albion sounded immense. Talking to one fan in The Griffin yesterday lunchtime, he told me that if anything the highlights underplayed how dominant we were in that opening period. Of course, the score is what counts and both teams managed a goal apiece. However, things might have been very interesting had we gone in leading and a penalty been awarded for the wonderful diving save pulled off by defender Kyle Bartley immediately after we’d taken the lead. Instead, the officials waved play on rather than handball and the hosts did what they do – ruthless counter and subsequent equaliser. Credit to them – you can only play what the officials give. 

The Baggies are looking so, so strong and sit where they are on merit. Top of the table. Yet so do Brentford, just a few places below them. Whilst those around us have started to wobble – Swansea City being the prime example, only just recently pulling themselves out of a dreadful slump after starting at 100mph –  we’ve only got stronger. No better is this illustrated than at centre back. Despite the absence of both Julian Jeanvier and Pontus Jansson at various points recently, the addition of Ethan Pinnock to that holy trinity of defensive solidity has meant that whichever pairing Thomas Frank has started with have looked as comfortable as it comes.

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Could Pontus be back today?

The midfield trio have done the unthinkable of both replacing Romaine Sawyers and ousting Kamo to the bench. Faith in the system, the manager and his players now being well rewarded as Nørgaard, Jensen and Dasilva  pull the strings. Locking out the opposition and feeding Mbeumo and Benrahma . Those two ably supported down the flanks by flying full backs Rico and Henrik, with Ollie leading his chase for the golden boot up top. Yet it is in goal where we have perhaps our most unsung of all the current 11 heroes. The arrival of David Raya has seen the decision to sell Daniel Bentley to Bristol City more than justified. 

I was a huge fan of Bentley’s, and it’s good to see him doing well at Ashton Gate, but for Brentford things have stepped up a level. David is big, strong, quick off his line and has great distribution. He exudes confidence and there’s no fear of those random moments, flappy fingers or miscommunications with the back four that we’ve all seen so many times in the past. Our Championship goals against figure is only bettered by Leeds United (we’re 18 to their 15) and whilst this stats has been quoted on these pages before, it bears repeating. Everything starts from the back. Keep the goals out and that’s half the job done. Especially when you have the attacking options that Thomas then has available to him in his starting XI.

That’s the back slapping stuff. Now, we‘ve got another match to focus on. Yes, we have the ability to do it but congestion at the top of the table really means you need to keep winning to keep your place. Slip up on the pitch and you’ll fall down off it. Blink and you miss. I love this division so much. Anybody can beat anybody. This is not the case of  the Premier League where the wining team is usually telegraphed well in advance. Here, we’ve got to go for it and keep on going. The relentless holiday period sees trips to Bristol City and Millwall before the visit from QPR in early January. That’s before you even look at the FA Cup options.

Like today’s game with Swansea, you’ll be able to follow most of those on Sky. Certainly the Bristol game (red button) and QPR ( full fat coverage at lunchtime) but why would you? Given the choice, I mean.

Money, travel and time are the obvious factors against but if you’ve got any ability to go then let’s make it happen. These are all games that are going to be absolutely critical to our season. A glut of matches where the 12 points on offer over the next 17 (I think) days could have real bearing on our promotion campaign. Somebody has to slip up at some point. The big question being if Brentford can take advantage.

Roll on 3pm when we find out. See you there.

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Here’s to more of this today….

Nick Bruzon

So close to another mulled win on a day of celebration.

22 Dec

The morning after the night before. Head foggy. Eyes sore. Mouth tasting like Fullers has curled up, fallen asleep in there and then passed away at about 3am. Espresso now on rewind. Yesterday was fun. A lot of fun. We had a kids / grown ups party at ours, meaning a trip to The Hawthorns was out of the running. Yet the seasonal celebrations continued long after the final guests had left with the knowledge that Brentford will be in the play-off zone at Christmas. This, following a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion where, if we’re being honest, perhaps some are feeling miffed about not taking all three points from the league leaders. Certainly, going by the reports of one way traffic and chances created in the first half. There was a further present as second placed Leeds United dropped more points – albeit at the Cottage as they lost 2-1 to Fulham. Despite their losing a 3-0 lead at home to Cardiff last time out, surely not even the Elland Road outfit can throw away what is now a ten point lead from their second place to third. Surely? It’s not as though they have any form of reputation for falling apart or stuff like that.

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Loved this from ‘official’

Still, the tribulations of Leeds United and Fulham (recording a first win since I don’t know when – it wasn’t last weekend, that’s for sure) a mere dollop of cream on top of the Festive treat served up at West Brom. With my usual group displaced by holiday prep, the aforementioned party, transatlantic travel and shopping it was a case of communication via Whatsapp. The screen shot showing that Brentford were dominating our hosts with 57% possession, 7(seven) shots with 2 on target – compared to nil from The Baggies – was followed with the not unusual comment that “We all know what happens next” becasue, of course, stats don’t win matches. Goals do.

Sure enough, thirty seconds later it did. But not as expected….

A scream from the front room was followed by Harry running through to the kitchen where the dads were hiding out by the vat of mulled wine, talking sh..op and steering clear of the mayhem. He was closely followed by his friends Felix and Darius who stand on the Ealing Road with their dad JJ (he of the goal inducing pea-sized bladder with which regular readers may be familiar – not literally). It was less a run and more a charge. Guests scattering and voices raised. “Daaaad. Daaaaad. We’ve scored!! We’re beating West Bromwich Albion.” Oh. Wow. Sure enough we had. Just before half-time and confirmation followed from Felix that it was the World Cup’s Denmark international Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford who got the all important strike. Oh my. Get in !! Another mulled wine? Don’t mind if I do.

This was weird. Really weird. And if for no more reason than JJ had been with us when the goal went in rather than taking a comfort break.

Sadly though, the request for Harry to retrieve the deeds to the house and lump them on the Bees going up was retracted as quickly as it had been issued. Despite a penalty being denied us in between (“a clear, clear handball”, per Thomas Frank), Dalsgaard’s 43rd minute flick on from a corner was followed up by an almost identikit goal from the hosts. Fellow full back Darnell Furlong levelling things up deep into first half stoppage time. Oh well. Parity restored. A kick to the psychological nuts but a scoreline we’d all have taken prior to kick off, I’m sure. The important thing now was to not ‘do a Leeds United’ and, erm, fall apart. Keep that concentration going. Keep on pushing in what was sounding and reading like one way traffic (something the subsequent video highlights bear out altough our little group didn’t know this at the time).

The kids were sent back to the front room to ignore the rest of their guests and watch Jeff Stelling on mute, then keep us appraised of any second-half goal update. Nooooo. 2-1 Brom. Disaster. Charlie Austin.

Yessssssss 1-1. The lino had his flag up. Offside. “It was definitely offside, dad”, confirmed Harry. Not quite sure how he knew but his word was good enough for me. It was, on later review, the correct call and was the last action of any meaning in the afternoon. The game finishing 1-1 and the gap to Leeds in second being cut by another point. The Bees in the play-off zone and set for the visit of Swansea City on Boxing Day. Relentless West Bromwich Albion striding clear at the summit.

I’d love to have been there. The visiting contingent looked huge. The Hawthorns a magnificent stadium. Instead, yesterday’s ‘live action’ was confined to standing in a deluge and watching Harry at his Spartans FC training. Any excuse for a shot of that blue shirt in action.

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Watching one ‘Bee’ in the rain

Instead, it’ll be a case of the trip to Millwall next Sunday for that next ‘away’ hit. But that’s one for the future. For now it’s a case of enjoying the moment. Of seeing how far we have come . We’ve only been in the Championship play off-zone at Christmas once before – the season Mark Warburton had the reins, dear (reader). Back then we hung on and scraped into the top six on that incredible final day after Derby did a Leeds at home to Reading. It was a position we’d got into of our own making through an over reliance on out of form Harlee Dean (Tony Craig being confined to the bench a tactical decision I still cannot align myself with) . 

Yet Thomas Frank shows none of that ‘loyalty to favourites’. Form is recognised and Ethan Pinnock has retained his place on merit following Julian Jeanvier’s suspension. It was a decision that has now been rewarded. The absence of Pontus Jansson with a ‘minor injury’ one which might have caused trepidation prior to kick off. Yet any worries proved futile and now I’d be intrigued to see who the choice centre-back pairing will be when Swansea visit on Thursday. What a lovely problem to have !

Perhaps if anyone can sum things up it is none other than Romaine Sawyers. How nice to read his words on Twitter at full time, where he opined: “Everyone knows I’ll always hold @BrentfordFC in high regard! You guys should be proud of the team this season and keep pushing them on to the finish line! Thank you for the reception at the end of the game appreciate it!! So glad to see all my brothers today and you fans”

Thank you Romaine. Here’s to playing you next season. In the top flight….

 

Nick Bruzon

You can shove your clackers where the sun don’t shine.

14 Dec

This is it. Show me somebody that says Brentford v Fulham is an irrelevance and I’ll show you somebody who is pointless. I absolutely LOVE this fixture. Forget the fact that a Bees win will see us overtake the currently third placed Cottagers, there is no bigger priority than victory and local bragging rights. Again. Yes, I’d love the chance to make ground on the teams in the play-off pack and even at the top, where Leeds United are yet to start their customary collapse and West Bromwich Albion are matching them point for point. But, for once, they are very much second place in the importance stakes. A supplementary bonus that will come should we make it another three points at Griffin Park.

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Stuart Dallas – one of THE Brentford moments

Jota in the last minute. Neal Maupay getting that late, late equaliser at the Cottage. Stuart Dallas scoring my favourite ever goal. The one that came just before our third and fourth in the absolute hammering administered in our neighbours’ back yard. The reaction to all those goals in the face of such sterile awfulness making them all the sweeter. The rivalry with QPR is as much one based on their sheer awfulness. With Fulham, it’s as much pity. A club more toe-curling than a pair of Ali Bongo’s slippers yet one which, whilst it feels like we’re a cat toying with a spider, I take no greater pleasure in beating.

Take you gin bar. Your statue. Your neutral stand. Your foam fingers. Your away game cake. Your clackers. Your run out music for the warm up. If you want irrelevance then there it is. That’s not football. That’s nonsense. Anodyne happy-clappy crud from a club with pretensions of grandeur yet, despite only having three sides of their stadium available, are currently having to advertise on local radio in a bid to entice supporters to their Christmas futures. For the record, Griffin Park is sold out.

That’s the tub-thumping and chest beating done. The simple facts of this game are that Brentford are on fire. Scoring goals for fun and looking rock solid at the back. Thomas Frank has the team more than up for it. Ollie Watkins is breathing down the neck of Aleksander Mitrovic at the top of the Championship goal scorers chart. Pontus, Pinnock and Jeanvier (not a law firm) proving on Wednesday night that, sometimes, three into two does go. A late switch in the defence sufficient to lock out the waves of Cardiff pressure as Brentford climbed to 7th in the table.

One does have to take notice of the position Fulham are in. Third doesn’t happen by accident and, despite their absolute car-crash of a campaign last season, they have started to score goals and pick up the points once more. Or, should that be, had started to pick up the points once more. Back to back defeats have seen them wobble, allowing Leeds and West Brom to break clear whilst the chasing pack have caught right up. Breathing down the victor’s neck to a position where only four points separate them from QPR in 12th. No pressure, eh?

Logic and common sense go out of the window at this stage. Whilst we’d normally take a common sense and considered opinion on these pages, it’s a West London derby. A mere five and a half miles separate our two clubs if you were to drive. That’s less as the crow flies but involves swimming. Only Loftus Road is closer to Griffin Park and you can be sure that the Fulham fans will be here en-masse. Perhaps we’ll even hear them. Stranger things have happened. 

Thomas Frank. If you are reading (you aren’t) get Peter Gilham in there changing room pre kick-off. Let him give your team talk. Let’s do this. I can’t wait. See you there…..

Jota Fulham last minute

No caption needed

Nick Bruzon