Tag Archives: table

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  

Brentford pointless after car crash of a no-show.

20 Feb

Wow. Just wow. There are no-shows, and there are no-shows. Then there was that. A next level no-show from Thomas Frank’s team with Coventry City taking just about as easy a three points as they could ever be offered. Brentford, generous visitors to St. Andrew’s and allowing our hosts 90 minutes to enjoy lunch at the all you can score buffet. In the end our hosts took advantage just twice but it could have been double that. Or more. Our second place in the Championship remaining by virtue of nothing more than goal difference but Swansea City must be salivating now with a massive three games in hand. A win at Huddersfield Town this afternoon (at the time of writing it is, amazingly, 1—0 to the hosts) will see them overtake us with an additional two games to play. Norwich City will, I am sure, also be looking to extend their own lead at the top in the game against Rotherham United at Carrow Road.

Full credit to Coventry City, btw. They fought and scraped for everything. Kept pushing to the last. Outplayed a changed Brentford line up in every position. One can understand Thomas needing to use games for rotation but the new look line up weren’t even close to coming second. Ben Wilson in the Coventry goal having just about as easy a game as they come. Ninety minutes to catch up on some sleep. Brentford, on the other hand, pointless. Before, during and after. Ghoddos anonymous. Mbeumo overweight. Canos out of sorts and out of touch. Forss not getting a look in. Dasilva and Dalsgaard on the bench. Toney not even making the squad. Let’s hope that was nothing serious.

We ended the game with changes having been made but Rico Henry looking like he may have sustained significant damage and a second goal conceded that came straight from the textbook of schoolboy defending. A woeful clearance from Raya, under no pressure whatsoever, selling his team short. Coventry being given all the time and space to pick their moment and double the lead ten minutes into the second half. A second goal for Tyler Walker to complement his penalty in the opening period. It had looked an innocuous decision awarded against Rico but the general consensus was that it was the right one. Walker squeezing it through and under Raya after 19 minutes to shock us, briefly, into life.

The resuscitation was a short one. A game crying out for change before half time continued the same way and the ultimate price was then paid after the defensive horror show that allowed the lead to be doubled. Brentford declared dead on the table but limping through the motions for another half hour or so. Offering up about as flaccid a performance as we’ve had the misfortune to sit through in a while. It was Stoke City away levels of bad. Second half against Preston awful. Horrific. An insult to the word performance. 

Play this rather than watching the highlights – its the same

You get the gist. Whatever the results from Huddersfield and Norwich, we’ve been about as bad as it is possible to be. Knackered? Perhaps. Mentally drained? Maybe. But enough about the fans. I’m sure the players are feeling it too and I’m equally sure that Sheffield on Wednesday can’t be anywhere near this woeful. It would be impossible to be so. Even with Ian Moose up front, the England Supporters band across the back four and Mrs. Brown filling the defensive midfield berth.

The obvious concern being that this is now three defeats on the spin. LLL. A blip could become a car crash. Barnsley was poor, QPR better (for a while) but this was off the cliff levels of bad. Man of the match probably going to referee Steve Martin, simply for his bringing proceedings to a close. The one bit of pleasure to take this afternoon. Thomas, frankly that wasn’t good enough today. Nowhere near. No guts. No desire. No clue.

On the other hand, if there can be any positive, at least we’re having the bumps now. Better to get them out the system now with 15 still to play than in the final few games of the campaign. We’ve got Ivan Toney to return. Likewise Christian Norgaard and Emiliano Marcondes. The former can’t be back soon enough. The later hopefully to provide some much needed flare. There was good news with Pontus being declared back on the grass although I can’t imagine his return being in the next few days or even weeks.

No amount of post mortem will find any genuine good from today, though. I’m not even going to try. I have eyes. What is important now is where we go from here. Wednesday night demands the mother of all reactions. Fingers crossed it comes. 

In the meantime, if Huddersfield and Rotherham would like to do us a favour then that would be good. 

Nick Bruzon

We’re Brentford, not Manchester City. Was football’s dirtiest trick delivered off pitch?

18 Feb

Well done. Well done everyone. After 30 games Brentford sit second in the Championship table. Only Norwich City above us. Still just over a third of the season to go and the Bees find themselves higher than just about everyone else in the division. Look at Birmingham City, for example, who lost again last night to further strengthen their grip on the relegation spots. Ten times better indeed. Look at Bristol City, who have just sacked their manager after losing six on the bounce. The fact of the matter is that we did go down to QPR last night. A 2-1 reverse thanks to a brace of rapid fire second half goals after we’d gone in for our cuppas leading c/o Ivan Toney, but if was only our fifth reverse of the season. Coming off the back of the Barnsley result , and at a time we’d hit the top spots, of course it’s going to look dramatic but am I bothered? No. Stressed? Definitely not. Frustrated at an opportunity lost? Absolutely. With the other teams around us all winning it wasn’t a great time to drop points but by the same virtue, the table doesn’t lie. Cliche alert: the league is a marathon not a snickers. Could we please all just try to avoid meltdown.

The look on Sergi’s face says it all

Positives from the specific 90 minutes in Shepherds Bush? Another goal for Ivan Toney. The most sublime of touches on the half hour to steer home a free kick from Matthias Jensen and give Brentford the lead. In an open and fast paced game, at complete odds to the turgid slug fest when Barnsley came to town, it was a breath of fresh air. Moreso the somewhat unusual concept of ‘scoring first’. It was a lead which reflected the balance of play and suggested usual form had returned as quickly as it had departed. You know, doom mongers, the form that saw us go unbeaten from late October through to a Sunday in the middle of February.

The second half , however, saw our hosts decide to turn it up. Its almost like they had a Plan A but decided to do it better. Nothing really changed beyond the arrival of Sam Field from the bench. It took just over a quarter hour into his home debut to level things up. A strong finish which saw his side take the scores to 1-1. Cardboard cutouts making more noise than the regular support could ever hope to i.e. none. Urghh, back to square one. Or should that be square minus one as just moments later Charlie Austin made it 2. A defection assisting his effort but they all count. The lead taken. Minutes earlier we’d been sitting pretty. Now we were in the catch up position with just a quarter hour to go. Sadly, we couldn’t . Catch up, that is. It ended 2-1 to QPR. Go to the BBC, Beesotted or ‘official’ if you want a full match report. We’ve all seen or heard what happened already.

A painful night. As much as anything else because Swansea City, Norwich City, Bournemouth and Watford (on Tuesday) all won. Brentford the only team to drop promotion points. I cold moan, gripe and whine but there’s no point. It won’t change anything and, besides, what’s the benefit? Is it even needed? Of course not. Only Swansea City have lost less games than Brentford all season (their 4 to our 5).  We’re not Manchester City. We don’t have infinite riches and talent. We’re not Glasgow Rangers or Celtic. The Championship is the toughest division in Europe in terms of relative strength of participants. This is anything but a case of flat track bullies in a league deprived of any genuine opposition. 

Let’s not forget, either, that players must be knackered. Not just from Brentford but from all clubs. Another set of two games a week and no end in sight. Our next set of games without a midweek fixture comes between 6 and 13 March ; it stretches back as far as a I care to remember and the fact that we are even in contention is nothing to be sniffed at. That we’ve kept up this relentless run of form vastly impressive. At the end of the day , Clive, we’ve lost two games. Hardly shot the dog or bedded our best friend’s other half. If it has to happen then better for it to be now than, oh I don’t know, say in the last two games of the season.

I’m not a (complete) idiot. I’d obviously rather have won. I’m gutted to have lost to that lot and their low brand shenanigans. We were accused of bringing 200 fans into the game at Lionel Road. That’s well documented. I can’t condone who, or what, they smuggled in last night. Or possibly photoshopped. Just what the heck was this all about? Definitely not funny but I suppose when cheap shots are all you have to play for then take the victories where you can. If any younger viewers are reading then look away now. Thanks to the GPG for spotting this one…..

Yeah, we lost. Tears at bedtime. That’s just from H but he was over it by the time we got to the next chapter of Harry Potter and the Expecto Fartus spell (having got through a ton of books, we’re now having to improve home made stories – and they stink). All is fine this morning. Perspective regained. Frustration still lingering but that’s no bad thing. The desire to keep going and do better now key. 

Ethan Pinnock, dropped for this one, will I’m sure be back for Coventry on Saturday. That’s a lunchtime kick off and so by the time Norwich and Swansea run out at 3pm one could well imagine the ever-changing table to have another new look.

We can’t change what happened last night. Sh*t happens. That’s life. That’s football. What counts now is how we react at the weekend then at home to Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke City. We’re still second in the Championship. Second. In. The. Championship. That’s huge. Brentford still have to play Norwich City, amongst others. Let’s just focus on ourselves for now. Remember how we got there. Starting this weekend.

As Thomas said in his post-match conference, “It is very important that we are calm … we have not suddenly become a bad team, you could see that first-half.” Who am I to say otherwise? Now bring on Coventry City.

The table doesn’t lie

Nick Bruzon   

Let’s just call this a bad day at the office and move on.

15 Feb

Well that was all kinds of awful. Brentford said farewell to the marathon unbeaten league run after going down 2-0 at home to Barnsley on Sunday. It was an absolutely deserved win for the visitors who pressed high, pressed hard and were first to everything. No sour grapes here and with the Bees not even close to being the second best team in this one, with too many players going inexplicably awol, the outcome seemed apparent from the off. A veritable … don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it….Valentine’s Day massacre. Urghh, did it. With it went the chance to retake top spot from Norwich City after the Canaries had swept aside Stoke City on Saturday. Instead, we start the week two points behind on level games played and looking forward to visiting Loftus Road on Wednesday evening. Norwich host Coventry and third placed Swansea entertain Nottingham Forest.

Let’s rephrase that a tad. It WAS awful but it is was as much frustrating. It is only one game. Nobody can keep going for ever and all teams slip up from time to time. Have the odd off day. Unlike last season, the Stoke City and Barnsley results haven’t fatally holed the good ship Brentford. Instead, they have provided some choppy waters and how navigate through the will be the real mark of this team. We all know just what they can do. How good the Bees are on the day. The inability to react to Barnsley and their approach was inexplicable but it happens. Certainly no indication that we are doing a Leeds United. Even they wobbled more than once last time out – see also West Bromwich Albion – and whilst this is the oldest cliché in the book, the league is a marathon not a sprint. 

The game had that feeling from the off with Barnsley coming at us and dominating. Yet again, Brentford conceded the opening goal but this time there was no  coming back at our opponents. No blitzkrieg assault with that free scoring form that has typified our performances this season. Instead, we looked lethargic. Sloppy. Out of sorts. Conor Chaplin making a Charlie of the Bees defence on 13 minutes to find himself totally unmarked and steer it home for 1-0. There was no answer. No reply. No nothing. A bit of huff and puff but Bryan Mbeumo’s inability to pick out Sergi Canos in acres of space summed it up. The screaming at the TV to play it out to the electric Spaniard could probably have been heard at Lionel Road, so open was the position. Alas, it fell on deaf ears. 

Bryan wasn’t alone in being off his game though. The normally magnificent Ethan had a stinker. The second goal, straight after the restart, also had the opportunity to to be snuffed out but instead Dike’s low cross bypassed the defender leaving Carlton Morris the easiest of finishes. Tariqe Fosu did nothing off the bench. Samman Ghoddos got into space but failed to capitalise. Josh and Vitaly invisible in the midfield compared to their normally dominant selves. Rico and Henrik off the pace. Ivan Toney had the first touch of a JCB. When he was fouled in the box, referee David Coote choose to perform his Arsene Wenger tribute act and instead elected not to see the incident. Barnsley were on it and got everything their performance warranted. This was not a stolen win but one which they fought hard for with the points going to the right team. For Brentford, nothing to do except wipe this from the memory and pretend it never happened.

Thomas Frank got it spot on at full time. “We know in this league you can lose to every team in this division if you don’t hit your highest level. We lost to a better team today. They won fair and square. We need to move on. It’s all about how we react on Wednesday.

He’s bang on the money here. We know only too well that there are no ‘teams like…’ in this division. That the Championship is the most exciting, toughest league in Europe with no foregone conclusions in any game. Just look at how Wycombe turned things around to win 3-2 at Huddersfield this weekend. What is more important is how we react at Loftus Road on Wednesday, at Coventry this Saturday lunchtime and further down the track. We may win or lose both of those. They won’t be season defining. What is more important is how we react. How we play. That we put this one behind us.

I’d much rather be where we are now (second on 57 points) than where we were last season after 29 games (fifth on 47 points having just gone down to Nottingham Forest). Even then, it felt good to be that high up. Knowing there were a whole stack of games and points  – 51 – still to go for. That destiny was still very much in our hands.

The same is true now. No side has everything their own way. Even the Premier League showed that this weekend with Manchester United being held by West Brom, Liverpool seeing their own title defence obliterated and Everton being undone by Fulham. Not a typo. If anything, the tech malfunction that saw us missing comms as the game started and the sight of Ian Moose pontificating before kick-off made me feel ill at ease and in mind that this was not going to be our afternoon. Presumably, the talk sh*te buffet burglar would have buried any of our half chances before posing for a selfie with one of his faux friends. How does that work in lockdown?

Look, we’re second in the table. Automatic promotion in our sights. We’ve ‘lost’ a game for the first time since October 24th last year rather than drowned a kitten. Still with a trip to Norwich City to come at the start of next month. The Championship still has plenty more twists to come. For what its worth, I’m absolutely convinced we’ll smash our hosts onWednesday evening. An empty Loftus Road and the opportunity to get straight back on the horse awaits. I cannot wait for that one – if only to get the stinky taste of Barnsley out of my mouth. 

I wouldn’t want to be in Mark Warburton’s shoes now. If Brentford do what we know they can it’ll be raining goals in West London. IF…..

The only possible explanation for Sunday – our visitors’ performance aside

Nick Bruzon

Time to exorcise some demons?

12 Feb

Say. We are top of th.., err. How about, quite well placed at present? Nahhh. Screw it. We ARE top of the league so why not enjoy the moment? The table doesn’t lie and our run of form is quite incredible. Brentford now 21 league games unbeaten. Only Spurs and Leicester City have overturned us since late October. Ivan Toney is leading the Championship goal scoring charts and the team are on fire. We’ve just overtaken Norwich City after that fine, fine win at Reading on Wednesday night. Frank out??? Where are you? Where ARE YOU? . Let’s be havin’ you! Come on. How far away is all that nonsense now? How quiet have the keyboard warriors gone? Even Sergi Canos is getting praise from the most ferocious armchair managers. Hmm – about five months too late and how magnanimous but there you go. Things are indeed good at present so why not enjoy the moment? Next up, Barnsley on Sunday and a chance to not only maintain the pace but, perhaps, exorcise one of THE demons of last season.

Cripes, we all know what happened. After that wonderful run towards the end of the campaign, Huddersfield Town did us that quite unexpected favour of beating West Brom on the Friday night. Thank you very much, Mark Devlin. All we had to do was beat Stoke City in game 45 and we were up into automatic. Instead, we did a Leeds. No matter, game 46 saw the ultimate in unexpected shocks – the Loftus Road mob got a result at West Brom. The door to the Premier League was still open. All we had to do was beat Barnsley at Griffin Park. The same Barnsley team facing their own unlikely battle to avoid relegation. Instead, they played their hearts out and we did a Leeds. Congratulations to the Tykes – a much more deserved victory than the time Toby was adjudged to have beaten Buzz in the half-time mascot race. For Brentford, there were still the play-offs……

Never forget the time the Toby and Barnsley ‘won’ at Griffin Park.

Which of course is why we meet again on Sunday. This time around Barnsley are looking super safe and, perhaps, may even have a surge towards the play-offs on their mind. The gap to Bournemouth in sixth is only 9 points. The relegation slots are way off and currently being occupied by Wycombe, Birmingham City and Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Valérien Ismaël’s side may not have won in five league games but they are a different proposition the time around. Even Chelsea were made to work hard in last night’s FA Cup game (eventually running out 1-0 winnners) and their biggest problem at present would seem to be on social media where the club were forced to announce yesterday that…” Due to a copyright claim dated 2018, the official Barnsley Football Club Twitter account (@BarnsleyFC) has been temporarily suspended”. 

As one North Stand observer would comment on our WhatsApp Group – “It’s the sort of thing that would have happened to us a few years ago.” One can only imagine the admin oversight / other that lead to that one although the good news being they are now back in action. And good news it is too. The club being one of my favourites in the league with good times having been had on our travels, regardless of the result. Now they are the ones on the road in a game about as big as it comes.

Hoping for a better result than the previous rematch

The longer this unbeaten run continues the more incredible it seems. A metaphorical skyscraper of a performance but one which, equally, could feel like a Jenga tower. The more it continues the wobblier it feels. The pressure, perhaps, building although certainly not apparent from Thomas and the players IF that is indeed the case. Perhaps its just the glass half-empty approach of football fans. Natural pessimists, normally, although this time around loving the moment. Last season I wanted every game to come but there was that huge feeling of extra stress because we knew we were playing catch up and so, so reliant on others around us.

This time, there’s still that feeling of desperation to play again but it is with uber confidence. It is with wanting to see just how far we can go. It is with having supreme and unadulterated confidence in whomever is picked to start. Of knowing that despite conceding first (as we have done in the last four games) we have the firepower to blitz just about anyone. 17 (seventeen) goals scored in those same four games speaks for itself.

That’s not to be over-confident or arrogant. Likewise, we can’t go into Sunday’s game thinking it will be anything but the toughest of challenges. Once the whistle goes then forget the form, forget the other results and forget the league placings. Focus on Barnsley and just keep on doing what we’ve been doing. We can’t ask for more than that. Everything else comes off the back of it. 

Oh, I love football at the best of times but this is next level fun. Like all of us, I’m desperate to be there in person. I hate watching it on TV, knowing how close we live to the stadium and remembering just how incredible following the Bees is in person. At least we have Mark Burridge and team to keep us company. Temporary custodians of our massed physical presence at Lionel Road. The weight of the home supporters on the shoulders of our comms team and our board of directors. Oh, and Pontus Jansson who seems the one person on the planet even louder than Harry Potter / Simon. His shouting and encouragement clearly audible over the top of the audio and a joy to behold. Kicking and screaming his way to the top alongside the players out on pitch.

No doubt he’ll be back there on Sunday doing more of the same. We’ll all be alongside him, in spirit. I can’t wait for this one. Here’s to an extra special Valentines’ Day. Just hopefully without the cards. Oh, and if Stoke want to upset another promotion push, then there’s no better time than their trip to Norwich on Saturday afternoon to play that card. Come on. Lets be havin’ you…

21 and counting. Barnsley very much our ‘Karleigh Osborne’ game…

Nick Bruzon