Tag Archives: The Football League Show

Can we just go straight to Plan B?

27 Sep

Mark Warburton may have a Plan B up at Rangers (I don’t know, I don’t follow the Scottish Championship that closely) but he famously didn’t have one at Brentford. Marinus, on the other hand, does but as Sheffield Wednesday left Griffin Park with all three points yesterday, Brentford fans were left wondering why Plan A doesn’t seem to be working.

For the seventh time in eight league games we fell behind before, as we did last Saturday, stepping up our game considerably in the Second half. But unlike the game against Preston, where we stormed back to a 2-1 win, this time it was Sheffield Wednesday who achieved that scoreline – a 90th minute goal on the break from Lucas João being the ultimate difference between the two teams.

View from the terrace - the HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate at that point

View from the terrace. The HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate ….at that point

We can take positives from the way the team played for the majority of the second half, despite being down to ten men. The penalty awarded for James Tarkowski’s foul on Atdhe Nuhiu with less than 40 minutes on the clock saw the giant centre forward stroke it past David Button as well as, eventually, earning a red card for the fit again centre back.

It was a strange decision (the sending off, I mean). Indecisive referee Geoff Eltringham allowing himself to be harangued by Wednesday players before consulting a linesman who, eventually, helped him come to the decision of ‘straight red’. This, despite Jake Bidwell clearly being the last man back between Nuhiu and the goalkeeper.

Nuhiu is the sort of player you’d love in your team. Physical, huge presence and a proper nuisance. And he knew the way to goal – seeing an earlier effort come back off the bar. He went to ground very easily on more than one instance yet Eltringham saw nothing wrong in his game to warrant even a talking to, let alone a yellow, at any point.

Still, if Brentford went in a man and a goal down, they did everything to start fighting their way back into the game. Jack O’Connell had a stunning effort at the back with a number of perfectly timed tackles and challenges. It was a shame he was the unfortunate man in the wrong place at the wrong time for 2-1 as Brentford were exposed, pushing for a late winner.

Likewise, Josh Clarke at right back looked very impressive, especially bringing the ball out of defence. I’d be very interested to see him playing ahead of Alan Mac at some point, with the midfielder returning to that defensive role he’d made his own in the past.

With the Bees pressing, a goal seemed likely and finally it came – from the most unlikely of assists. David Button pushed almost to the half way line to curl a cross-field ball to Alan Judge. It was an exquisite delivery from a ‘keeper whose distribution has been lambasted in the past but the execution from Judge was even better.

A perfect trap and then shot across the goal into the far corner sent the crowd wild. Even the club staff celebrated that one to a fanatical level – a moment captured by the Football League Tonight and Beesplayer cameras.

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

At 1-1 and pushing it looked as though Brentford might snatch a winner that, in the first half, had been the last thing anybody expected. Instead, when the more prudent amongst us might have reverted to Plan A and locked things up to get an unlikely point, we went for it. You can’t knock Marinus’ desire and moreso with Wednesday also down to 10 men at this point.

But with the Bees in the Sheffield box, the ball broke and once Lucas João had picked O’Connell’s pocket, not even the Herculean David Button had sufficient strength to hold back the last minute one-on-one.

It was a bitter blow and moreso, having been given the hope of a route back into a game we had no chance of being anywhere near on the first half showing. Bees stat guru Luis Melville nailed it on twitter late last night with this very telling observation:

Luis's stats remain 'the bomb' (that's a good thing, I believe)

Luis’s stats remain ‘the bomb’ (that’s a good thing, I believe)

The positive is a chance to get straight back into action on Tuesday night against a Birmingham City side that hasn’t won in three (and went down at home to Rotherham United yesterday). The negative is that we haven’t really got a huge element of team choice, given the injury crisis and suspension for Tarks. Will the players have enough in the tank for another 90 minutes – moreso, against a team containing a few familiar faces in Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson?

Away from Griffin Park, the Pele cup took place at the training ground. The great man himself was, indeed, at Jersey Road where Cliff Crown was amongst the fortunate few to meet him. Hopefully they just discussed football, football, football (and, perhaps, Escape To Victory) rather than Pele’s foray into TV advertising. I would.

A moment I never thought I'd see - Pele and the Brentford chairman.

A moment I never thought I’d see – Pele and the Brentford chairman.

And then I did it. Football League Tonight. I sat through the full 90 minutes. Or should that be, stood.

Having previously given the show a good kicking on it’s debut (one which, for the record, I still stand by) it’s been pleasing to see the gimmicks fall away and, over the weeks, Channel 5 giving us a more traditional ‘highlights package’. So when the opportunity came to be an audience member, it seemed churlish to turn it down.

Being honest, I’m impressed. What we tend to take for granted is that this is a live show. Given how soon it is transmitted after the action ends, there’s no real choice but despite the problems they suffered in the opening weeks, fair play for sticking to that element. Moreso, with the ‘random’ element of an audience.

Not as bawdy as Soccer AM but sufficiently different from the Football League Show, they have now fused the better parts of each programme. Kelly Cates is definitely the show’s shining star and the chemistry from George Riley is growing.

The audience interview still seemed a bit stilted (then again, that could just be the price you pay for talking to MK Dons fans) although I do like the idea of this quick snapshot from the ‘regular fan’ aswell as the players – Barry Bannan of Sheffield Wednesday being the man brought in to admit, small consolation, that his team and been lucky to get the win.

As for Adam Virgo – I’m still not sure what to make of him. Part footballer, part Clem, part geography teacher. He’s no Leroy (still my favourite pundit from Manish’s Football League Show) but then again, he’s no Steve Claridge and is looking a lot more confortable in the role

Does it beat the Football League Show? No, not yet. Then again, football highlights shows have been in such a set style for so long that it is a format we’ve had drilled into us. You can’t knock Channel 5 for attempting to break from the norm and, moreso, acknowledge that their initial attempts to do so were somewhat OTT.

Will I watch again? Absolutely. Many of the previous gripes have been ironed out and Kelly, especially, did a great job (catching George with one particular zinger about his age and Top of the Pops). Ultimately, the show gives us what we need – the highlights, in order, with a number of extended games.

It’s just a shame that, with more focus on Brentford, we didn’t see the Bees pick up any points. Still, there’s always Tuesday. It won’t be easy and, being honest, I’m anxious.

Then again, Griffin Park under floodlights is a magical place and, IF we can start that one like we ended this one (the goal aside!) then who knows what could happen….

Mark Burridge certainly enjoys the Judge strike (along with the rest of the video highlights)

Nick Bruzon

Advertisements

From Brentford and brackets to Gibraltar and San Marino.

6 Sep

Brentford fans were left scratching around for interest this weekend, with minimal satisfaction coming from the Euro qualifiers. As expected, England successfully navigated their qualifying group (the easiest since records began) whilst for Gibraltar, although they are starting to find their feet after an international baptism of fire, the Republic of Ireland still presented a tough test as they ran out 4-0 winners on Friday night. There was no Brentford involvement, beyond a brief reminiscence about Stuart Dallas for Northern Ireland although, of course, Lasse Vibe was on the bench for Denmark in a 0-0 at home to Albania.

Instead, the weekend has left more questions about those two perennial debates – ‘minnows’ and brackets. Specifically, should the ‘smaller’ teams be allowed to play with the big boys and, when conceding more than six goals just how should we signify this 7, 7 (seven), 7 (SEVEN), seven or SEVEN?

As a footballing romantic and nostalgic, I’m all for a spot of small team involvement. Equally, I won’t deny a large element of emotional involvement as, having waited years for Gibraltar to finally be given full UEFA membership, the chance to see them test themselves against the great and the good is one I’m loving.

Are they whipping boys at the moment? Unfortunately, the stats would certainly suggest that to be the case although anybody who has seen their games against the likes of Germany, Poland and the Republic will see what strides they have already made. Tougher to break down and a lot less naïve, the boys from the Rock are finding their feet, fast.

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start international life.

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start international life.

The Faroe Islands already have six points from a group in which they have overtaken former Euro Champions Greece whilst Albania have beaten Portugal in their qualifying group. This is the same Portugal who recently lost a home friendly with Cape Verde Islands.

Minnows do get stronger and regular games against a mix of opposition are the way to do it. Not shunting them aside to pre-qualifying where they can only play each other, as seems to be the common suggestion. If this is your logic then just disband qualifying all together and draw the teams for the tournament finals based on seeding.

It only seems like yesterday that England were spannering their own qualification for the World Cup as Davide Gualtieri took less than nine seconds to open the scoring for San Marino with a goal that shook the world. Both teams have grown massively since then, even if England have remained as consistently sub-par when it gets to the tournament itself (Euro 96 aside, and that one they qualified for by default).

Davide Gualtieri opened the scoring against England back in 1994

Davide Gualtieri opened the scoring against England back in 1994

Wales have stepped up the blindside in recent seasons and have moved from 117th ranked team in the world four years ago to the point where a victory against Israel on Sunday could see them deemed the second best team on the planet. Indeed, they are, surely, going to qualify for a first major finals since 1958.

Just to put that into perspective, the teams currently occupying the 117th slot are hardy those we would consider to be traditional powerhouses of international football.

The teams currently in the same spot as Wales, four years ago

The teams currently in the same spot as Wales, four years ago

I could go on. People have very short-term memories and attention spans. I hope UEFA don’t give in to the current clamour emanating from certain circles and give all their members a chance to compete on a level playing field.

That said, games such as yesterday’s 6-0 won’t help the likes of San Marino as they came awfully close to a 7(seven) -0 bracketing. That’s a result that Gibraltar have experienced a couple of times in early qualifying whilst, domestically, former Brentford player/manager Nicky Forster was the unlucky recipient as his Staines Town side went down by that infamous scoreline to Brentwood Town in the Ryman Premier on Saturday.

Nicky Forster (left) formally the deliverer rather than recipient of 7(seven)

Nicky Forster (left) formally the deliverer rather than recipient of 7(seven)

And, as ever in these circles, it prompted the usual questions as to how this should be recorded. One local journalist ended up very much insistent about it being an unbracketed, headline grabbing, SEVEN. For somebody who then used twitter to rally against the vide printer favourite, saying: “Will live in the here and now”, the irony of his bio describing himself as “Ex Woking FC striker” was not lost.

There are others that love the bracket but insist it should be 7 (SEVEN). I’ll spare the regular reader another lecture on the unsubtly and bad sportsmanship of this. A brash, block-capitalled effect to really push home the point that someone has been on the wrong end of a thrashing. It’s gloating for the sake of it.

Clearly, an emotional subject and I don’t think we’ll ever, all, agree. Football is a modern game and one that continues to grow. That said, what’s the harm in a little bit of nostalgia along the way?

And finally, Channel 5 and Football League Tonight. Much as the minnows have been going from strength to strength on the pitch, the same can be said about the latest newcomers off it.

Saturday night was the latest point in case as, despite it being International weekend we actually had a show. In days gone by, Manish and team were shunted to one side when the Championship teams had a break, despite full fixture list in both Leagues One and Two.

So fairplay to Kelly, George and the rest of the production team for still bringing us a show. The disasters that plagued the series openers are a distant memory already and, last night, the biggest problem seemed to be Adam Virgo. More to the point, his sporting of a collared shirt with the top button done up but no tie.

Yet if a pundit’s dress sense (something all channels have suffered from over the years) is the worst we’ve got to worry about then things must definitely be moving in the right direction.

Rio Ferdinand and the BBC panel have had their own fashion problems

Rio Ferdinand and the BBC panel have had their own fashion problems

Nick Bruzon

Transfer window set to slam shut for Brentford but is this it?

31 Aug

Tuesday is the day. The transfer window slams shut ( © Sky Sports) and, with it, the last chance to see who will leave or join the Brentford squad on a full time basis. Of course, the Bees have already stepped up their loan activity with the news that Sergi Canos has signed until January from Liverpool. But does this mean that all business has now been concluded? Or will Jim White and Natalie Sawyer be working themselves into a Griffin Park related frenzy on national “Harry Redknapp leaning out of a car window” day?

Canos is the latest to wield the Brentford FC signing shirt

Canos is the latest to wield the Brentford FC signing shirt

Brentford have certainly been profligate in recent weeks with several big name players leaving TW8 for Championship rivals. Andre Gray to Burnley, Moses Odubajo to Hull City and Stuart Dallas to Leeds United have been the names to really stand out. Not to mention the release of Jonathan Douglas to Ipswich Town. Factor in the freak injuries to Jota and Josh McEachran (the latter before a ball had even been kicked in anger) and it’s no wonder our attacking options have, according to many, been stifled .

But could this change? Monday’s new saw a signing that followed hot on the heels of striker Marco Djuricin to give, on paper, an added dimension of flair to the Brentford squad. In the Red Bull Salzburg loanee we have, at the least, a plethora of puns. Moreso alongside A. Judge (that’s Alan, of course). He is an Austrian international who already has two full caps to his name,

As for Canos, it really is a huge case of potential. I’d offer a word of caution in putting too much pressure on this young man’s shoulders. In recent years we’ve learned that for every loan gem from that part of the world (see Adam Forshaw, Chris Long and Jake Bidwell) there’s a potential Joao Carlos Teixera. For every unheard of youth prodigy (see Marcello Trotta) there’s a Betinho lurking in the wings.

Betin-who ?

Betin-who ?

Whilst we’ve done very well in the past in our recruitment, the previous management haven’t been infallible. Those lamenting the departure of Warbs should bear in mind he took several bites at the cherry to get things right. The second coming of Liam  Moore is another that springs to mind. And then out of it.

It takes time to build a team. There’s no denying we’ve taken an unconventional approach in allowing several well established players to leave (albeit for an incredible amount of money) before looking to rebuild from scratch. Likewise, that we’ve then had our cause hindered by injury – and one can only worry about the amount of twigs that may reach the training ground now that Autumn is almost upon us.

However, my guess is that any long term activity has come to a close and we’ll not be troubling Sky Sports News. This is the squad Marinus has to play with and, with quality players also on the mend, we could soon be in a much stronger place.

Certainly, that usual barometer of impending transfer news – Matthew Benham’s twitter account – hasn’t troubled the scorers since August 19th. And that was the wonderful coming together of fiction and fact that saw Alan Partridge’s ‘Youth Hosteling with Chris Eubank’ become a reality.

So unless we’re planning on signing the former World Middleweight Champion, this is probably it for any ‘inward’ activity on Tuesday. Welcome Marco and Sergi. Griffin Park is certainly a place of change at present but, equally, we’re a club who are on the up.

Injury blues, red cards, 3 points and the verdict on Football League Tonight

16 Aug

A Bees win by any scoreline will do me. At the end of a difficult week, it would be a shot in the arm for everyone.” Not my words but those of Brentford CEO Mark Devlin ahead of our trip to Bristol City. However, even he would have been doing well to predict the outcome of this one as the Bees surged to third place in the fledgling table. And after the game there was the latest attempt from Chanel 5 to restore some credibility to the terrestrial highlights with the latest episode of Football League Tonight.

A 4-2 scoreline only tells half the story of a game that saw City end with ten men after Luke Freeman was shown a straight red by referee Keith Stroud (who else??) for a boot to the head of Harlee Dean. Indeed, the hosts were lucky not to end on 9 after James Tarkowski suffered what Marinus described as a ‘badly broken nose’ following an elbow from City captain Aaron Wilbraham.

Tarks posted this post match selfie on Twitter

Tarks posted this post match selfie on Twitter

Goals from Alan Judge and Andre Gray sandwiched an o.g. from Derrick Williams. Philipp Hofmann rounded things off to complete a heavy win for Brentford who made it six goals, and unbeaten, from our opening two league games. As ever, should you want the full match report then I’d suggest the BBC, official site or Beesotted.

Moreso as I had to give this one a wide berth for family reasons, so wasn’t even able to follow on Beesplayer although social media suggest that might not have been such a bad thing in this instance.

Roxeth on Beesplayer

Who provided the summary? And was this tongue in cheek?

Bees fans would have been ecstatic to see Andre starting, despite the constant rumours linking him with a move from Griffin Park. Marinus made it quite clear after the game that we want to keep him although was unclear if that would happen, adding “there is a lot of money in England and sometimes money talks”.

It does now beg the question as to whether Matthew Benham will look to ‘cash in’ or make Andre an offer he can’t refuse (although presumably not Vito Corleone style). Just how much is a player who can find the back of the net so frequently worth?

Besides, would Brentford really want to lose another player after the awful run of form that saw Andreas Bjelland join the long term casualty list in midweek with a cruciate injury that has ruled him out for the season? And to that you can also add Jota who missed the Bristol City game with an ankle problem. It is an injury that Marinus subsequently told Beesplayer would see him “ out for three or four months.

Nobody needs any reminding of the Spanish midfielder’s ability and this may also go some way to explaining the shenanigans at the end of the Ipswich Town game, where he and Jonathan Douglas appeared to have had a falling out. It was one which culminated in the former Bee swinging an arm at Jota as the Bees celebrated our last minute draw.

Eagle eyed Beesplayer viewers saw Dougie's 'girly slap'

Eagle eyed Beesplayer viewers saw Dougie’s ‘girly shove’

Still, if this was more bad news for Marinus after our cup exit, I have to give him huge credit for the team he picked. After criticising our head coach for his post match reaction towards his young players on Tuesday (something I stand by), fair play for naming Jermaine Udumaga, Josh Clarke and Courtney Senior on the bench for a high pressure game.

The other thing to catch the attention yesterday was an uncanny parallel to the last time we played Bristol City, a 3-1 win at Griffin Park back in January 2014.

That was a game which also saw City gift the Bees an own goal, from Aden Flint. Whilst Derrick Williams was the provider this time around, that previous match also saw him struggle with what was described at the time as, “The worst free kick I’ve ever seen…. rather than deliver a killer deadball into the box from 25 yards, (he) simply bobbled the ball directly out of play for a goal kick to Brentford. It went closer to the corner flag than the goal and was an effort that made Miguel Llera seem like Gazza.”

And so to the real elephant in the room – Channel 5. Saturday night saw their latest attempt to replace Manish and crew with ‘Football League Tonight’. Their opening show of the season had, rightly, been met with a barrage of almost universal despair as swiveling league tables, awkward audience members, confused pundits and cringey ‘banter’ all nestled alongside the random sequence of match highlights to make a show that was messier than James Tarkowski’s nose.

Well, let’s give Channel 5 some credit. Whilst not, officially, acknowledging their previous failings, Kelly Cates strode in front of the cameras to announce that, “Over the next ninety minutes we’ll bring you all of the goals and the best of the action – in order.

And that’s what we got. The league ladders that looked as though they have been plonked on kebab shop skewers remained although at least they waited until the end of the Championship highlights to show them. And then, they had already been ‘rotated’.

The awkward looking audience members were another reminder of last week’s season opener – something I understand will be remaining (watch this space…) – whilst Jamie Cureton’s trousers were somewhat disconcerting. Actually, just the presence of Jamie Cureton is somewhat disconcerting although us Brentford fans have personal reasons on that score.

However, overall you have to say that, much like Marinus against Oxford , the team at Channel 5 have learnt from their mistakes.

Some things remained despite 'lessons learned' for Channel 5

Some things remained despite ‘lessons learned’ for Channel 5

Nick Bruzon

Will Brentford be above Bristol City in the football league tonight?

15 Aug

Brentford travel to Bristol City today, with several obvious questions on everybody’s lips. Can we bounce back from the midweek humbling at home to Oxford United in the Capital One Cup? Will Andre Gray be ‘ready’ to start after speculation continued to link him to Hull City and, erm, today’s opponents? Who will be fit for the Bees? And can Channel 5 salvage anything from their ‘Football League Tonight’ show after last week’s car crash of a season opener.

First up, Bristol City. Well the good news is that we can expect 11 changes from the team thrashed by Oxford United. The not so good news is that Andreas Bjelland’s replacement will be an enforced one after the first half injury he suffered turned out to be severe cruciate damage that will keep him out for the entire season.

Andreas Bjelland in pre-season

Andreas Bjelland in pre-season

One can only wish him well after this most awful of starts to his life at Griffin Park. Interestingly, Marinus ruled out our playing surface as being a contributory factor, although it was something he had already acknowledged in his Beesplayer interview as, “more dangerous than a good pitch.”

This is a cruel twist of fate for our record signing and sees him join the ranks of Scott Hogan, Lewis Macleod and Josh McEachran as potentially game changing players who have come to Brentford but then seen injury rob them of the chance, so far, to impress.

On the more positive side, Marinus also confirmed that Alan Judge and Harlee Dean are both fit to return (expect to see the later line up alongside James Tarkowski at centre back) although Jota (ankle) and Nico Yennaris (dead leg) are doubts. As for Andre Gray, the impact he made against Ipswich Town last weekend was clear for all to see and one can only hope he is going to begin the game against Bristol City. Certainly, Marinus remained a lot more upbeat on that front, when pressed on the latest speculation, saying: “No news. I expect he will be playing on Saturday”.

Another player who could feature, although I expect it will be too soon, is new right back Maxime Colin. The former French U-20 signed yesterday from FSC Anderlecht, providing competition in the wake of Moses Odubajo moving to Hull. I’d still expect Alan McCormack to begin today but it will be very interesting to see how this latest new player performs when he pulls on the red and white stripes.

My prediction for today’s starting XI: Button, Bidwell, Dean, Tarkowski, McCormack, Diagouraga, Kerschbaumer, Gogia, Judge, Hofmann, Gray

Max Colin - no truth that the signing shirt has to be replaced as it is full of holes

Max Colin – no truth that the signing shirt has to be replaced as it is full of holes

As for the Oxford United game, it is done. Let’s all put it behind us. Move along, nothing to see here.

Marinus was man enough to admit, ”Maybe I was a little bit naïve about the game” and, no matter how well our opponents played (which was ‘very’) we all know that was nowhere close to the Brentford FC starting XI. It promises to be a tough match today against a Bristol City team making their first Championship appearance in front of their home fans after last season’s promotion and so expect a passionate, full house.

That said, Brentford have come out smiling from tough venues in the past. Last season gave us an excellent grounding for Championship life and so I don’t expect atmosphere to be a factor.

Instead, the challenge will be for the team to carry on where they left off against Ipswich Town and try to find a way past former Bees ‘keeper Ben Hamer in the City goal. Matthew Benham used Twitter last night to acknowledge the role Ben had played for the Bees and few who had seen him in action could disagree.

Well said Matthew

Well said Matthew

Ashton Gate or Beesplayer are the obvious places to see how things do pan out today but, if you are feeling particularly masochistic, how about avoiding the scores until 9pm and then tuning in to Channel 5 and Football League Tonight?

No. Seriously!

Surely, there can be no way this week’s show can be as bad as what was served up last week as the alternative to Manish and team? My own thoughts on their effort have been well documented and mirrored those of supporters up and down the land.

Presumably George, Kelly and the production team have taken some of the criticism about format on board. It IS a tough challenge to try and do something different and the basic elements are in place – decent presenters and League football. It was everything else, from start to finish, that was wrong about a show which is going to have to adapt, fast, to survive.

Can they do it? At 9pm we find out.

Nick Bruzon

Life after Manish – Football League Tonight crashes on Channel 5 launch

9 Aug

Channel 5 launched their brand new Football League highlights show on Saturday night and it’s fair to say that the reaction has been universal. As an act of bringing fans together, they achieved the impossible as supporters of Brentford, Ipswich Town, Wolves, Hull City, Leeds United – infact just about every league club you could mention – took to Twitter to vilify 5’s new ‘Football League Tonight’ Show.

Quite literally, where do you start? When it was announced that Manish, Leroy, Clem and the rest of the BBC team would be losing the highlights package after 6 years nobody could have imagined what we’d be left with. Indeed, the much trumpeted announcement of a 9pm start time had many of us lightweights genuinely pleased. No longer would the League highlights be an afterthought tagged on catch those who had fallen asleep during Match of the Day.

To make this worse, the choice of Saturday night viewing is a normally awful selection. Something involving Ant and Dec; a singing competition; Casualty. BBC2 at 9pm was screaming out for Clem yet we were forced to wait up until gone midnight for the chance to catch our team in action.

Clem  - much missed. Washing his hands of responsibility for what came next?

Clem – much missed. Washing his hands of responsibility for what came next?

But where the BBC lost out in terms of timeslot, they had everything else spot on. A charismatic host; great pundits; genuine humour from Leroy ; a decent amount of match action; Clem doing his thing up and down the country (and the regular reader knows there’s enough material on that topic to fill a book….)

Most importantly though, they had good highlights. In order.

Words cannot describe just how bad Channel 5’s replacement was. It got off to a fantastic start with a 9pm kick off and that’s about the only positive thing you can say about the show. Despite the potentially decent pairing of George Riley and Kelly Cates, the rest of it was a jarring car crash of a show that made me yearn for Clem.

Football highlights aren’t a hard thing to get right. Show the games in some sort of order and give some interesting analysis. Yet 5 threw that concept out of the window and left us with what was, quite possibly, the worst attempt at a football show since Colin Murray was let loose on us.

The show switched back and forth between divisions in a bizarre manner that suggested the running order had been picked out via car keys in a bowl. The studio audience (why? why? why?) stood around looking awkward yet when one was asked a question, they’d forgotten to even have a microphone ready.

Take me out - please

Take me out – please

The garish and cluttered set looked as if it had been designed by a school kid on day 1 of work experience whilst low budget rotating ‘league ladders’ resembled something left over from a 1970s episode of Blue Peter. And then there was Martin Allen…..

Usually good for a quote, the former Brentford and Gillingham boss didn’t even seem sure of what was going on (much like the audience). “We’ve got Millwall. I think they came down from the Championship” he opined at one point although did provide just one of many moments of unintentional comedy when George invited him to give some opinion on a goal his side had conceeded.

Here you go then, talk me through this” was met with some nervous laughter and the eventual reply “What do you want me to say?”

I could go on. We’re stuck with them for three years but the problems aren’t hard to fix. Show the games, in some sort of order. Cut the studio audience; give us some decent analysis. Just cut to the chase and show the bloody action rather than a level of banter that makes Jeremy Kyle look like Panorama.

When the producers saw that the show was trending on Twitter, they must have been ecstatic, until they read some of the comments. And here are just a few….

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 05.56.26

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 05.56.49

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 05.57.06

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 05.57.18

Manish FLT

Nick Bruzon 

From Ipswich Town to Fulham – which is pick of the fixtures?

18 Jun

Brentford fans have finally been able to cast their eyes over the fixture list and start updating the calendar after the 2015/16 schedule was announced on Wednesday. Whilst the derbies against Fulham and QPR were, in probably all cases, the first games just about everybody looked for, there was as much other interest elsewhere.

They aren’t going to come much tougher than Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town this season and so to begin proceedings against the Tractor Boys is going to see us start with a bang. Ipswich, like Brentford, reached the play off semi-finals last time out whilst also pipped us 4-2 in the Boxing Day battle for the top of the Championship.

Things remained level for a mere 19 seconds that day and so I’m sure there’ll be a lot of people out for a bit of payback. Personally, I’m just pleased with a home start – you really can’t ask for more than that.

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, it’s the annual clean up to make more space on the site for the inevitable follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are ! 

Supporters old and young are now planning their 'away' trips

Supporters old and young are now planning their ‘away’ trips

As summer looms there is a plan B…and a plan C

6 Jun

Things are tough being a Brentford fan at this time of the year. With the League campaign not due to kick off until the weekend of 8/9 August, the next two months loom ahead as a long and painful wait. What has already seemed an interminable amount of time since Bournemouth were crowned champions and Norwich City beat Middlesbrough in the play offs promises to be all the worse as summer drags.

Actually, let me quantify that opening line slightly. This isn’t a scenario totally unique to Brentford. We weren’t alone in coming ‘so close’ and there are as many other teams who must be chomping at the bit to get started once more (Middlesbrough, I’m sure, having a point to prove) .

Likewise, for those who did make it. Without a doubt there will be more than one Bournemouth fan with their eyes on the local newsagent for when those first packets of Panini stickers are released.

The possibility of seeing the Sam Saunders tan immortalised in sticker form for all time is just too great an opportunity missed and so I’m desperate for us to restart and, all being well, go one(or two) better.

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, it’s the annual clean up to make more space on the site for the inevitable follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are ! 

 

 

Can Matthew Benham prove Clem wrong? Dr Evil??

12 May

With Brentford and Middlesbrough preparing for the return leg of their Championship play off, I saw an interesting piece in The Times yesterday from Mark Clemmit aka Clem of BBC Football League show fame. A well known Middlesbrough fan himself, he used the column to give his own opinions on Matthew Benham’s commitment to the well documented statistical model he intends to implement at Brentford next season.

Regular readers will know of my admiration for Clem’s reporting technique and the somewhat light hearted approach to statistical analysis that had been undertaken in the weekly ‘Clemwatch’ feature. Long regarded as the harbinger of doom by football supporters, he only saw the team he selected for feature on that evening’s BBC show win 7 (seven) times all season.

Clem finished his season at Watford - who lost the title in the 90th minute

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

It was, as such, somewhat ironic to see him casting his oar into the murky water of statistics in an attempt to analyse Matthew’s plans. Although not as ironic as the fact that he was reportedly at Griffin Park on Friday, overseeing the home team fail to record a win. Again. That said, I’m sure Clem would take it as his beloved Middlesbrough chalking up another victory, regardless of his presence.

Regardless, I’d certainly recommend you try and get hold of this article if possible. And if Mark Warburton is reading, certainly a nice one to add to his future CV. Whilst acknowledging the success, so far, of ‘the model’ for FC Midtjylland in Denmark, Clem certainly seemed to land on the side of the traditional managerial structure over key performance indicators and mathematical analysis.

Fairplay to Clem for trying to balance this out, although his description of Matthew’s Smartodds HQ as “A cross between a giant dealing room and (from the Austin Powers movies) Dr Evil’s underground lair” was one that put all sorts of confused imagery into my head. If for no other reason than who would have been Evil’s mini-me and who his number 2?

Is Matthew Benham's HQ really reminiscent of Doctor Evil's lair?

Talk to the hand. Is Matthew Benham’s HQ really reminiscent of Doctor Evil’s lair?

Ultimately, nobody knows how this is going to pan out. Mark Warburton could be making a huge mistake in walking away from, potentially, the most progressive move in English football since Jimmy Hill proposed ‘three points’ for a win. I can say one thing though, Warbs will be doing his level best to make sure that the model is road tested in the Premiership. He has shown the fans and the team nothing but the most impressive personal performance since the news broke and , I have no doubt, that will continue.

Friday night will see our biggest game, to date, in living memory. And if you wanted even more intrigue, I saw a statistic that said Middlesbrough haven’t lost an evening game at the Riverside in six years. I have no idea if that is true or urban legend but, regardless, nobody can doubt the calibre of the opposition.

Given how much this game is worth, I’m sure the jinx-conscious amongst us will hope that Clem is in attendance once again. Moreso that Matthew, Warbs and the team give him plenty more to think about.

As we saw in last night’s game between Swindon and Sheffield United, which finished 7(seven) – 6(so close) on aggregate, anything is possible in the play offs. On Friday night, we find out what happens in this one.

Who is the man in the middle for the big game?

6 May

Another piece of the play off jigsaw has fallen into place with the announcement that Jonathan Moss will be the referee for our first leg with Middlesbrough at Griffin Park on Friday. Moss, of course, is the man selected to take charge of the forthcoming FA Cup final between Aston Villa and Arsenal whilst Brentford fans may remember him from our fourth round tie with Chelsea back in January 2013.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.