Tag Archives: Tarks

The one stat that tells the story of the season

3 May

Whilst the majority of the football world were, rightly, congratulating Leicester City and Burnley on their respective Premier League accomplishments last night, over in TW8 there was equal cause for celebration. Not that one time Brentford loan star Jeff Schlupp was now a top flight champion but QPR losing 1-0 against Andre Gray and his team mates means that the Bees end the season as the highest placed London team in the Championship table.

With only one game to play, there’s now an insurmountable five point gap between us and the Loftus Road mob. Fulham aren’t even at the party. Hey, the table doesn’t lie.

London teams table

The ‘as it stands’ table does’t lie

If ever there was an incentive to really go for it on Saturday against Huddersfield then here it is. The chance for Brentford to really stretch out that lead over QPR whilst, at the same time, even overtaking Birmingham City (whose game at Cardiff won’t be the easiest) and snatch 9th position in the final table.

Whatever happens, considering the ups and downs of a campaign that saw us lose players, head coaches and, at one point, games like they were going out of fashion this is a stunning achievement. Perhaps not at Leicester City levels but still not one to be sniffed at. Moreso given how Dean Smith was talking about a relegation battle as recently as March.

I’m not going to pretend Burnley are our new best friends. The memories of the Gray and Tarkowski sales still linger heavily although it would take the most churlish amongst us not to see the joy in the supporter’s eyes when that final whistle blew. It would take the most churlish amongst us not to offer their players – even Joey Barton-  congratulations on a job very well done. It would take the most churlish amongst us not to thank them for putting the final nail in the coffin for any hopes QPR had of overtaking us.

Likewise, we can take some pride in the fact Andre honed his skills and began the  season at Griffin Park. Now he has taken his game to new heights and it will be intriguing to see how he goes in the top flight where, of course, there is further silver lining in the fact that the ‘promotion’ clause in his transfer will now be activated.

Not that the club ever reveal details of transfer fees, of course.

For now though, there’s that all important season ending stat. It may not be up to Luis Melville standards but there’s no denying it:

Brentford are kings of West London Championship football and there’s nothing QPR or Fulham can do about it.

Maybe next season, chaps .

West London football map

Nick Bruzon

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The Juggernaut v the Oil Tanker awaits as Bees take on Ipswich

8 Apr

It only seems like five minutes ago that Brentford couldn’t buy a win yet now we have the chance to make it three on the spin with the trip to Ipswich Town imminent. Victories at Nottingham Forest (3-0) and then home to Bolton (3-1) have surely crushed those lingering relegation doubts as morale has soared.

In his press conference on Thursday Dean Smith made all the right noises about the huge boost these results had been whilst giving an update on the current injury situation. With our Head Coach confirming that John Swift and Leandro Rodriguez (amongst others) will both miss out again through injury, I really can’t see any changes to the team that started so brightly against Bolton on Tuesday night.

Given that  the Bees did, if we’re being honest, allow Wanderers back into a game where a stronger team would have punished us in the second half, there can be no room for any let up this time around. Ipswich are still pushing for the play-off spot that they also made last season and you can be sure Mick McCarthy will be expecting three points from his team.

Last season’s encounter at Portman Road finished in a 1-1 draw, notable for Daryl Murphy somehow missing an unmissable goal for the home side when all he had to do was tap it into the gaping net. It was an effort described afterwards by Mick Mills and his local radio commentary team as: “Breathtaking. It will go into the top ten all time misses. If you can find ten worse ones I’d like to see them.”

Murphy miss FLS Ipswich

BBC FLS viewers saw Murphy set to pounce. And fail (for once)

Murphy remains leading scorer for Ipswich this season although will miss out this time round as he his still suffering with a knock picked up on international duty.  Despite ‘that miss’ this should really be seen as a boost for the Bees although, of course, we still have the prospect of lining up against Jonathan Douglas once more.

The thought of seeing him facing off to Alan McCormack in midfield is a delicious one. Goliath v Goliath. The Juggernaut v the Oil Tanker. No prisoners will be taken whilst, of course,  there was the incident at the end of our clash at Griffin Park this season.

Back in August, we opened proceedings at home to Ipswich as the Marinus era kicked off with such optimism. Then it all went South as the game started with Andre Gray on the bench, the pitch turned into that infamous minefield and Ipswich cruised into a two goal lead either side of half time. We didn’t even see Macca take on Dougie as our man went off 6 minutes before the former Bee came on.

From that point though, things went a bit bonkers. Andre pulled one back in Jota time before James Tarkowski sent the crowd wild with a 96th minute equaliser. Dougie still had time to accidentally (I’m sure) stand on Jota’s foot and spanner him for the next few months. Indeed, there was an exchange at full time where eagle-eyed Bees Player viewers caught sight of Douglas swinging an arm at the Spanish hero.

Douglas hits jota post Ipswich

Bees Player viewers saw Dougie appear to give Jota a ‘girly slap’.

Will that be water under the bridge now or will the memory linger? I’m sure the former, if for no other reason than Jota has (sadly) moved back to Spain ‘on loan’ whilst Dean Smith will no doubt have drilled the importance for discipline into his team. Regardless, the fans are likely to remind Dougie of this incident whilst the battle with Macca, regardless of anything that had gone before, will alway be a fascinating one.

That said, what do I know? Listening to the latest Beesotted podcast on the way to work this morning it was very interesting to hear the views of Town supporter Harry ‘from Bath’. Of course, come for the views of Billy (Grant), Sav, Matt, Dave and terrace wag Gemma Teale but stay for Harry’s insight. You’ll find that part just after the hour…

Another point of note from Dean’s press conference was his observation that, “Historically the pitch at Portman Road has always been fantastic so hopefully it will be the same and we can play some of our football.” Nobody needs any reminding about the state of the Griffin Park pitch at the start of this season and the huge holes that began to appear where it seems that somebody had forgotten that all important point of letting the turf bed in.

With the Bees confidence returning and the side being encouraged to run at their opponents, it will be fascinating to see what we can now do on a level playing field.

Whether in the stands at Portman Road or alongside Billy Reeves on Bees Player, on Saturday afternoon we find out.

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Bru celebrated (too early) as Ipswich opened the scoring last time

Nick Bruzon

As Tarka’s the Rotter is it adios to Jota and Toums?

16 Jan

The morning after the night before. Burnley have still beaten Brentford 3-1 after playing us not so much off the park but into next week during the most shambolic first half I can recall in some time. The second half remains one of top- drawer excitement and a hugely enjoyable atmosphere as Alan Judge and the boys began an improbable fight back that, in the end, wasn’t to be. And, having slept on it, words to describe James Tarkowski’s actions still fail me.

I wrote a column when I got home last night to describe my thoughts on the player and the situation. It was an angry one – although not quite up to the recent FCM piece – and it’s here if you want to read it. In the cold light of day, has anything changed? No, with the exception of fellow central defender Andreas Bjelland.

Just to clear up any potential confusion, I can only apologise if anybody feels that the weak pun in the headline was a sleight at him. Andreas has suffered a horrendous injury and James is one of the players we’re looking to help in his place at centre back. Personally I felt a bad pun, that fitted the scenario, would be the best way of conveying what most of us are probably thinking. I could have gone much stronger but, then again, writing at 1am following an emotional night has probably impaired that decision ! Certainly one that would have been written differently with a bit more consideration.

Having given it some thought over night, my over riding feeling is one of being tremendously let down. Alan Judge and Toumani Diagouraga have both been the subject of high profile bids – in the case of the former from Burnley themselves – yet both continue to give their all for the Bees. Indeed, Toumani may well have played his last game if the gift he gave one supporter is any sort of indication. ..

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One train passenger got more than he bargained for

Yet neither player has stooped to this level. There’s nothing much you can really say on the matter. We’d all love Matthew Benham to hold out on selling him but, sadly, the financial demands of Championship football and FFP rules means it will be unlikely we can afford to leave a wheelbarrow full of cash on the training pitch. I’d love to be proved wrong on that front and hope , for once, principals would triumph. However, given that, barring a miracle, Tarks has played his last game for Brentford can we afford not to sell him just to prove a point ?

What a sad end to a great Griffin Park career. From hero to zero in the space of a day.

The other hero who sounds as though he has played his last game at Griffin Park for some time is Jota. Reports doing pretty much all the rounds suggest that he is on his way back to Spain to play for Eibar on an 18 month loan.

Certainly, Dean Smith has alluded to the hugely popular player having some personal issues at the moment and so, whilst this would be a huge loss for Brentford if confirmed, we can only wish him the very best. Of course, we all hold out hope of seeing him in a Bees shirt once more but I fear the worst.

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It looks unlikely to be Jota in the 90th minute any more

So what else did we learn from last night?

Well, despite popularity levels on a par with James Tarkowski (at least, amongst the Brentford faithful) Joey Barton can take a mean free kick. If Burnley’s opening goal, curled in from 25 yards by Scott Arfield was a stunner, this wasn’t too far behind Whilst it hurts to say anything nice about the former Loftus Road man and outspoken numpty, you can’t deny the technique used in his strike. Fair play to the Turf Moor dead ball coach.

Sam Saunders ran his heart out, as did Alan Judge. One good thing to come out of the last week might just be the renaissance of the ever popular wing wizard (some would argue it had never gone). I’m sure he’ll get another run out at Preston next week – and no bad thing.

Brentford are still struggling to score goals. We’ve managed just 4 in 6 games whilst Dean Smith can’t seem to buy a win (not literally, that would be a breach of regulations). The Bees are still in a great position, moreso given the start to the campaign, but I really hope the rest of the campaign doesn’t fizzle out into a fug of gloom and nonchalance as we slither down the table.

Yet when this team do play, they still look stunning. Talking to one New Road observer in the pub afterwards, she noted how the first half had seen us play like a team that would struggle to even complete a dot to dot, let alone a pass to each other. The flipside being that the second period saw us turn it on for one of the most exciting periods of play we’ve seen in a long while.

And finally, Burnley ‘keeper Tom Heaton. Or, more specifically, his buttocks. “Stunning” was the politest of many references to a player that one terrace wag described as “The Kim Kardashian of the 18 yard box”. Truly, a rotund derriere that was the butt of many jokes from the Ealing Road.

On a night where Tarky was talking out of his backside, let’s just hope we can put all this business behind us.

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Nick Bruzon

Tarky – Our new Bjelland

16 Jan

Oh, the irony. A game featuring Joey Barton in which the former QPR man was only the second biggest w*nker on show. Burnley beating Brentford 3-1 (and well played on that front – seriously) was but the mere sideshow as former Bee James Tarkowski gave his very best demonstration of how to lose friends and alienate people.

What a colossal wand. His pre-match hissy fit and refusal to play against the club so publically courting him have instantly graduated the player formally known as ‘Tarks’ to Martin Rowlands levels of popularity.Never have I known such anger, frustration and incredulation amongst the Griffin Park faithful. It was disappointment on a level approaching a post match article about the development squad.

For a player under contract, and whom we have turned down a bid for, to then refuse to play smacks whole heartedly of the last time he has pulled on the red and white.

To be honest, having taken things to that level he probably doesn’t give a monkey anyway. With agents pouring money and sweet nothings into his ear, along with the prospect of a move North, offending his employers and supporters was probably the least of his concerns.

Well, James. This one’s for you. Call me Kevin Keegan but I tell you this. I’d love it. I’d absolutely love it if Mr. Benham leaves you to rot in the reserves. You’re under contract and so we don’t, actually, have to sell you.

Sure, the lorry load of cash that Sean Dyche will now have to drive up to Griffin Park would be nice, but sometimes principals are the better part of valour. You’ll never be able to play for Brentford again, that’s for sure.

I just hope Matthew is in a position where he can really tell you to do one. Five months of doing laps around the youth team training pitch would be a wonderful return for this complete slap in the face to those supporters – young and old – whose shirts bear your name.

The game tonight went to the deserved team. Burnley produced three class goals and, being honest, we were lucky that’s all it was. Brentford put in a complete first half no show as the visitors were allowed to run riot. How Andre Gray didn’t join the scorers (or The Bees were able to contain it to just three) we’ll never know. Yet Alan Judge’s goal, early in the second half, raised the roof and gave us hope that the impossible may just happen.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Whilst the follow up display was as good as the first half was bad, by that point we’d already been fatally holed below the waterline. The play-offs now look nothing more than a wistful flight of fancy whilst, with a fifteen point gap, relegation is surely too impossible to comprehend.

Instead, it simply remains to hope we hang on to all our transfer targets and eventually choose, under our terms, to sell Tarkowski to Wigan Athletic or some other such Northern non-entity.

Again, well played Burnley. You thoroughly deserved your win and no amount of Tarkowski related frustration will change that.

The alternate post-match exit music of Jessie J and her chart topping ‘Price Tag’ single was a very telling choice. Lyrics of “It’s not about the money, money, money. We don’t need your money, money, money,” were, I am sure, anything but coincidence.

As for the Bees, the next few days are going to make very interesting viewing indeed.

Tarkowski post Bristol City

Tarks – picture taken months ago rather than last night

Nick Bruzon

A goal scoring hero returns for TV clash

15 Jan

Brentford entertain Burnley this evening. On the one hand it is a battle for the promotion play-offs and a chance to get one over Sean Dyche but there is more to it than just that. Bees fans will, no doubt, be hoping our boys can teach him and Andre Gray a footballing lesson. Many remain unhappy about the net result of the striker’s sale whilst the unsettling rumours surrounding James Tarkowski and Alan Judge have been as welcome on the terrace as a visit from ‘the phantom farter’ (if you’ve ever stood in the vicinity, you’ll know). Chuck former QPR employee and motormouth Joey Barton into the mix aswell and, I think it would be safe to say, we might have quite an atmosphere tonight.

Will Tarks and Judge play? One would only assume so. I’ll be furious if either is missing. That said, Sean Dyche can’t be blamed for trying to both acquire and unsettle the players just ahead of the game. Dean Smith confirmed yesterday that the Burnley boss had put in a bid for our leading scorer and player of the season to date.

We saw the same thing happen with Andre Gray just before we played at Turf Moor earlier on the season. Dyche finally got his man with Brentford happy to sell for a lorry load of cash despite his scoring 2 from 2 against both Ipswich Town and Bristol City. The Bees very much missed his cutting edge in that game at Burnley although, equally, even with Dean Holdsworth, Robert Taylor and Lloyd Owusu up front I think we’d have struggled to score in that one.

As was noted in the Last Word at the time, Marinus seemed obsessed with ball retention and pass completion – to the point that out 62% domination saw the ball rarely cross the half way line as time and again it went across the defence and out to the midfield before heading back to David Button.

Hanging on to the ball at the back is all well and good, and we did that part very well, but the lack of any imagination, movement, cut and/or thrust when we tried to take it forward was, ultimately, what did for us.”

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The Bees at Turf Moor – as our pitch looked like a ploughed field, theirs was magnificent

So can we do any better in front of the Sky cameras tonight? It’s true that Burnley look in ominously good form with their 5-0 win on Tuesday night. Likewise, their mini slump has ended with them still sitting in an excellent league position. Whilst they’ve only won 3 times in the last 10, they’ve picked up 10 points out of a possible 15. Andre Gray leads the divisional scoring charts on 16, having now broken clear of a chasing pack that includes our own Alan Judge.

Yet we have our own incentives to win as noted at the top of this column. Likewise, three points will lift us up to 9th and within touching distance of that play-off zone once more. I’d imagine Sergi Canos will start this one, having moved back to the bench in midweek, although I wouldn’t be upset to see Sam Saunders hang on to his place. Personally, I thought the wing wizard gave a very good account of himself against Middlesbrough.

As ever, the main question is going to be one of where the goals will come from. Is Marco Djuricin ready to start? Will The Hoff be given a chance from the off? Or does Lasse Vibe retain his place? I have no clue as to which way Dean Smith will jump but, personally, would stick with Lasse given the current options.

Which, as I put the industrial sized crowbar away, talk of strikers brings us onto tonight’s guest of honour – Lloyd Owusu – who is being welcomed into the Brentford ‘Hall of Fame’. Signed by owner/chairman/manager Ron Noades from Slough Town in 1998, his impact was immediate. 25 goals followed, including the Third Division title decider against Cambridge United. The denouement of that season saw the final game of the season become a battle to be Champions at the Abbey Stadium and Lloyd was the right man in the right place to help Brentford bag the honours.

Leading scorer 3 times in his 4 seasons, he stayed with us right up to the end of the Steve Coppell era and that play off final (spoiler alert – we lost) at the Millennium Stadium against Stoke City. It was a sad end to a great career at Griffin Park and more so as, out of contract, he left for Sheffield Wednesday.

Three years later there was better news for Bees as the hero returned. Martin Allen brought him back to Griffin Park for a further two years. 2005-06 saw him bag a further 14 goals in 42 games that resulted in another play off appearance – we lost. Injury blighted his final season but, by that stage, the legend had been born.

The arms raised high in the air and the chants of “Ooh Ooh Ooh” from the terrace have become an iconic image, and sound, for those who frequented Griffin Park at the time. Equally, Peter Gilham going into meltdown every time he launched into a lung busting scream of “Owusuuuuuuu!

Here’s hoping for some more tonight.

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Lloyd Owusu – back at Griffin Park tonight

Nick Bruzon

From storming mad to a storm in TW8

11 Jan

And relax Brentford fans. Before we start to look ahead to Middlesbrough and Burnley, just a quick note to say thanks for all the feedback on social media this weekend. Specifically, regarding Saturday night’s column about the FA Cup against Walsall and the visit of FC Midtjylland. Football is a game that has always polarised opinions (just ask any visitor to the GPG) but the reaction to this one on Facebook and Twitter was amongst the most extreme I’ve ever seen. I have no idea if anybody in the club reads this column but would hope that they at least note this has clearly been an emotive subject for the supporters.

Monday morning. With Middlesbrough due here in just over 36 hours, the rain of the weekend has been followed by an overnight downpour of biblical proportions (is there any other type?) in TW8. At the time of writing (6.30am) it is still tipping down in Brentford. One can only hope that the drainage system is working and the Griffin Park pitch holds up.

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View from the terrace – the rain was constant on Saturday

To be fair, since the farce at the start of the season that saw it needing to be relaid just two games in the surface has been magnificent. Whilst it was clearly greasy on Saturday, I didn’t notice it overly cutting up. However, with another three hours of rain due on Tuesday afternoon according to the BBC, one can only imagine what referee Gavin Ward (oh, joy) will make of things when he carries out his pitch inspection.

I’m sure we’ll be fine but, equally, with conditions likely to be slick it could be a fast paced game. Certainly, I’m expecting a huge reaction from Brentford – both players and fans. Whilst Saturday was absolutely gutting, we are still placed in an extremely interesting position. A minimum of three points this week will see us close in further on two promotion rivals.

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The current BBC table shows how crucial points are this week

It is, being honest, a season defining week. The cup is over but the league is very much alive – if we can do what we know we can do. I’d love to see the likes of Toums, Tarks and the Judge start this one. They were sorely missed on Saturday but the transfer stories doing the rounds may still take this out of our hands

Middlesbrough, of course, are seen by many as some form of bogey team. Three league wins and two play off semi final victories in the last 16 months certainly make Boro’ the form team when it comes to games between our respective sides.

Then again, I don’t pay too much attention to history. Do so and you’ll beat yourself before you even leave the dressing room.

Personally, my only focus is on getting three points. Former Bees promotion hero Adam Forshaw will be down with his new side and whilst it would be nice to show him how we’ve progressed since last season, I’d settle for a scrappy 1-0.

Let’s just hope we don’t give him a half time lap of honour.

Nick Bruzon

As Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley stories gather pace, what’s actually happening?

5 Jan

Two days in to the dreaded transfer window period and already Brentford have been deluged with rumours and stories concerning our star players. Alan Judge and James Tarkowski have, supposedly, both been attracting interest from Burnley whilst the former has also been the subject of a derisory  bid from Sheffield Wednesday.

I’m not a massive fan of discussing transfer rumours but even by normal standards the silly season has started early. And ignoring them won’t make anything just ‘go away’. Moreso when you look at the sources. Everybody from Sky Sports to the West London websites and Beesotted have jumped on the Judge ‘story’.

I take the piece from Beesotted most seriously of all. Dave and Billy seem to have that incredible knack of knowing the right people behind the scenes and winkling out the facts from any story. Whilst I’d don’t take everything they say as 100% Gospel, recent seasons have shown us that they invariably get it right. When other sources are chucking enough mud in the hope that some sticks (followed by an “as exclusively revealed….”), the Beesotted boys generally sort the wheat from the chaff.

And their article suggests that Sheffield Wednesday have offered to triple Alan’s wages which, if correct, one would think is something that currently we’d struggle to get close to. Whilst, of course, Brentford are not obliged to sell this season’s top performer, those sort of figures are sure to turn anybody’s head and make having to listen to ‘that band’ every week almost bearable.

Sheffield wednesday band with trevor francis

Any new player at Hillsborough will have to listen to this

With Burnley also reported to be after Alan, I can only see this heading to a similar bidding war as the one we saw between the Clarets and Hull City over Andre Gray during the summer. How it turns out will be a very interesting test of both Brentford’s resolve and plans aswell as the player’s own personal preferences. I have no insight on either factor so, rather than speculate, can only sit and wait for the next move. And it’s not a comfortable position to be in.

Burnley have, of course, also been lined with James Tarkowski. This after fears that Michael Keane would be on his way to Everton. However, with The Lancashire Telegraph now claiming that aswell as having a bid for James turned down, Burnley will be hanging on to Keane (“I’m going nowhere” is his purported quote) could that one die down ?

The Tarkowski story was one also reported by Beesotted (via their Northern ‘contacts’) and so seems to be one doing the rounds up that way, too. But, again, there’s nothing us regular fans can do about it apart from sit tight and wait to see what happens next or who Burnley are linked with. At this rate, I’d fancy them to go sniffing after Nick Proschwitz, such is their fascination with everything Brentford.

Tarkowski post Bristol City

Tarks – hopefully us Bees fans will have better days, too

And, as ever, there is nothing out of Griffin Park. On the one hand I fully respect their stance of refusing to comment on speculation. There’s no point in adding fuel to any fire. On the other, the days of sticking your head in the sand are long gone.

The Internet makes information available at the drop of a hat and people are happy to share it, read it or speculate on it in a bid to generate headlines, satisfy their own desire to ‘be in the know’ and stir up sales. I can only imagine agents to be sitting back and rubbing their hands at present.

The alternative is we come out and make a definitive statement. To say that the club have had bids (or not) but have turned them down. That we have no need or intention to sell and both players are under contract. That we’re building this side to push for the Premier League and have no desire to sell a key player to a play-off rival.

Of course, that will never happen. It’s just not the way we operate and comms haven’t exactly been our strong point in recent years – who could forget the ‘success’ of Village-gate or the Marinus debacle? Besides, when money is involved and the window has another four weeks to run, such a statement would be as valuable as the Chairman’s ‘vote of confidence’.

But like it or not, the fans have read the stories. The websites and news outlets are talking about them. It would be nice to see us at least try.

Until then, we’ve got an FA Cup game to think about on Saturday. I can’t imagine either player will feature (and only because of the chaotic calendar that sees 3 games in 6 days). But you can bet your  bottom dollar what conclusions people will draw from that.

Press day at the Brentford media centre could be an interesting one this week.

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The  Internet makes ‘hiding in the sand’ a tough option for the likes of Rasmus, Phil and the media/comms teams

 

Nick Bruzon