Tag Archives: Thomas Frank

Bees stung by table toppers on a low key afternoon.

19 Sep

One to file under ‘bad day at the office’. Brentford welcomed Arsenal to the GTech on Sunday lunchtime and left on the wrong end of a 3-0 reverse. The destruction of Leeds United last time out now nothing more than a happy memory rather than something that could have been used as a springboard to even bigger and better things. The 11th hour posptponment of our game at Southampton following the death of Queen Elizabeth II very much slamming the brakes on our momentum. In an understandably muted GTech yesterday, it was our visitors who were able to pick up where they’d left off before – the top of the Premier League table.

A solemn occasion

There are no regrets on this side. No anger. Arsenal outplayed and outclassed Brentford at every step of the way. Thomas Frank’s decision to opt for three centre backs one designed to try and contain our opponents. It had worked so well last season but this time around we seem to have settled (been pushed into) more of a more traditional back four. A set up that allowed us to attack en-masse with the two full backs still pushing up. Instead, The Bees began on the back foot and struggled to get beyond that. The visitors going for the jugular from the off and giving us little or no breathing space in a midfield that was still missing Christian Norgaard. With little news on his longer term recovery, one can’t imagine he will be back and match fit any time soon.

On the plus side, Ethan Pinnock was hanging with Buzz and Buzzette outside the ground before kick off. The prognosis for his own return something the player said would be after right International break. Good news indeed, although who then misses out the sort of problem Thomas Frank must relish trying to unravel.

That’s one for the future, for now it is all about Brentford and Arsenal. The Gunners brutal. Devastating. Giving a clear demonstration of why they are the only team in the land keeping Manchester City off the top of the table. The sternest test faced by The Bees so far this season by some distance. It was a test we had no chance of passing after William Saliba and Gabriel Jesus had given our guests a two goal lead with less than a half hour on the clock. Two headers. Two goals. Too bad for Brentford. The midfield packed tighter than a pair of Tom Jones’ jeans.  Our own Triple Js – Jensen, Janelt and Josh Dasilva  – unable to make any real headway. Rico Henry and Aaron Hickey putting in the hard yards down the flanks.

Bryan Mbeumo with the closest chance just prior to half-time but that was it. Very much playing second fiddle on an afternoon where the atmosphere was the only thing flatter than the pint of Guinness served up during the interval. Truly the worst pint I’ve ever experienced – and there have been some bad ones over the years. Brentford very much with a problem clearing our lines, it would seem. Not for the first time yesterday.

Brentford (L) v The Griffin – (R)

If anything, it set the mood for what came next. Fabio Vieira ending any thoughts of a fairytale comeback for Brentford within minutes of the restart. His shot from outside the box beating everybody to fly home off the inside of the post. It was devastating. Game over, Man. Game over. Anther forty minutes to struggle through. The only feasible option left being that of goal difference containment. Something David Raya did his level best to maintain. Arsenal, on the other hand, when not attacking doing everything possible to channel all of football’s dark arts. Injuries. Niggles. Time wasting. Cramp. Hammy pratfalls. Referee Mr. Coote unable, or seemingly unwilling, to do anything about any of it.

The sad thing being there was no need for any of it. They were the better team on this occasion. We haven’t been owned this much since Matthew Benham took over.  It just gave an ever more frustrating feel to an already frustrating afternoon. Any thoughts of coherent flowing football snuffed out by shenanigans and shithousery. Arsenal, the only team to sit down longer than popular music’s James. 

That’s on them. They won. So it could be said that the gameplan worked. To be honest, a strangely muted Brentford team could have still been playing now and I don’t think we’d have found a way through. One Ivan Toney free kick momentarily suggesting a replay of ‘that’ moment against Leeds United but it went over. Mikkel Damsgaard also with a half-chance but that was about it. Hats off to Arsenal. Likewise their fans who, along with the Bees, gave the perfect display during the pre-match silence, the national anthem and then the 70th minute applause.

A rare first half foray forwards

For me, the applause on the 32nd minute for Robert Rowan was equally poignant. This with the feeling of much more a spontaneous, personal and fan lead gesture. We’ll never forget. 

The sad news continuing late into the night when the GPG shared this update… 

There can’t be many amongst us who didn’t know or, at the least, recognise Howard. An absolute legend of Griffin Park and a Bee through and through. Along with former manager Fred Callaghan’s sad passing also being announced, it’s been a sad week all round. I’m sure the club will do all they can to remember these two Bees’ legends when we are all together again for Brighton.

For now, time for International break. We’ve the the small matter of Ivan Toney in the England squad. Friday night in Italy could be a whole lot of fun. What price on him to score ? Well, 13/8 for an anytime bet. I might make a small investment. Purely for research purposes.  

The only other unfinished business from the game yesterday is that of our Star Man and top five player awards. That piece has gone live and you can find it here….

Nick Bruzon

All set for another nice kick about with the boys?

17 Sep

Sunday lunchtime has The Bees back in action. Our first game since Ivan Toney was called up for the England squad. No doubt set for another nice kick about with the boys. Table topping Arsenal the visitors but with confidence sky high following the 5-2 tanking of Leeds United last time out, we won’t be afraid of anyone who might try to play in our house. Guys there is only one team on that f**king pitch – and it’s us! Just ask Jesse Marsch. Or Erik ten Hag. Yet with the trip to Southampton curtailed following last Friday’s news about The Queen, could momentum have been lost? Or will it be seen as an extra game in the back pocket ahead of returns for Ethan Pinnock and Christian Norgaard (errr…)? Sergi Canos has already been deemed fit for the weekend. What price a return from the bench and another moment to match last season? You know, when he scored our opening goal in a game where the The Bees beat the Gunners and topped the Premier League.

What a game last season….

Of course, this time around it is Arsenal who have come flying out of the traps. Their 3-1 defeat at Manchester United in the previous fixture being the only reverse on an otherwise unblotted copy book. Five wins on the bounce prior to this has seen them top of the league table going in to this weekend’s abridged fixture list and, to be fair, looking magnificent. Manchester City may have traded in Gabriel Jesus but he has found his feet, fast. Granted, not as fast as Erling Haaland at the Ethiad but, to be fair, not even Ivan is banging them in that quickly.

Arteta’s other impressive summer signing from City, Oleksandr Zinchenko, is unlikely to feature in this one. Thankfully. He is one of several injury-related question marks but the strength in depth they now have means that whomever features in the first XI is sure to provide a top (top) level threat. Then again, one could say the same about Brentford. Whilst Manchester United was the headline grabber, for me the performance agasint Leeds United was up there with our most impressive in years. Ben Mee just magnificent at the back and, on any other day, would have been star man in this game by a country mile.

Then, Ivan stepped up and did his thing. Three goals of the highest quality. A trademark penalty, ‘that’ free kick and then the presence of mind and calmness of finish to hold his position until executing that quite delightful chip over half the Leeds defence. No wonder Marsch took his frustration out on Keith Stroud. Jesse hold on. As popular music’s B*Witched once sang. As if any could forget the double-denim sporting toe-tappers’ first single not to top the hit parade.

View from the South Stand – Ivan does it. Again. This time, Leeds United

We digress. As ever. C’est la vie. Ivan very much the man of the moment. Arsenal the team on fire. The game one to absolutely whet the appetite. If for no other reason given what happened last season in what a first ever fixture at this level for just about all Bees’ fans, barring a few. It’s a quite incredible memory to have but, equally, one to now recall in fond terms rather than rely on as any barometer of form. That was then. This is now. Both teams have changed. Both teams are better. With Thomas Frank utilising his five substitutes every game, Brentford are very much set up with a starting and finishing XI. Yoanne Wissa very much doing his thing from the bench in quite delightful style. Aaron Hickey giving Rico Henry a run for his money down the opposite flank.

And, for the record, how Rico has missed out on England selection is a question I’d love to put to Gareth Southgate. Gareth, if you are reading… ok, he isn’t, but I can’t be alone in wondering that one. Moreso, given some of the out of form ’staples’ selected once again. Rico’s chance will come and what better time or place to show why he should have been called up than Sunday at the G-Tech. I’m sure the England coach will be in attendance and whilst, of course, Ivan Toney will understandably be the centre of everyone’s attention, let’s not put it past Rico to show what he has too.

I can’t wait for the one. The decision to cancel football last weekend, when every other sport continued as per, a decision I am struggling with. Surely it should have been all or nothing ? We can’t change it now but we can make up for lost time. The build up and conclusion will likely be more sombre than normal – the announcement from the club telling you that – but once referee David Coote gets things underway you can bet on the roof being lifted off.

The other Brentford story form the week was another home shirt. Whilst, of course, we’ve blazed trails in retaining last season’s kit, there has been a slight tweak. A quite wonderful tweak. Long sleeves are back. Almost non-existent amongst any Premier League team, Umbro have supplied us with this most wonderful of features. As a complete and self-confessed shirt nerd it has always been my default choice, albeit one denied since the Championship (one of a few yellow Skyex aways, obtained c/o ‘other sources’, aside). Now they’re back. The club shop has them in stock and this Sunday will see yours truly wearing it in anger.

Perhaps with a jacket, given the weather has turned…

Leeds United fell apart (again) a fortnight ago. You can catch up on all of that, here. Will it be Arsenal’s turn on Sunday? I can’t wait to find out. See you there.

We do love a ‘long sleeved’ in our house

Nick Bruzon

Sorted for Bees and Wissa. Leeds pulped by Ivan hat-trick.

4 Sep

Ivan Toney you absolute goal scoring machine. Thomas Frank, you tactical genius. Brentford you beauties. Hey, even Keith Stroud. A 5-2 tonking of Leeds United at Lionel Road was a performance to rival that 4-0 win the other week. To make Frank Lampard realise how much of a bullet his Everton team may have dodged in the 1-1 last Saturday. As Manchester United discovered, when Brentford hit the back of the net there’s nobody going to stop us. Yet even then, what happened yesterday was beyond even the wildest of anyone’s pre-match predictions.

Brentford are up to 7th (seventh) in the Premier League table. The performance one of our greatest. Leeds blown away like an empty crisp packet caught on the breeze. Ivan Toney banging in a hat-trick of such quality it needs to be seen to be believed. The first, an ice-cool penalty of the like we’ve seen so many times yet which still induces that gut wrenching nausea. How can anybody be so calm from the spot? That two step approach to the ball at almost stumbling speed? Yet still bury it with all the speed of a hitman disposing of a still warm corpse?

Goooaalllllll. 1-0. Ivan from the spot

Then, the free kick to make it 2-0 just prior to half time. Shandon Baptiste being fouled out side the box and Ivan scoring with a world class curling ball into the top corner that left Meslier in nets able to do nothing beyond watch it go over the wall and beyond him. 

Yet it was the calmness of finish and presence of mind to stay cool for his hat-trick goal that had fans in raptures. Meslier rushing out of the box to prevent KLP from bearing down on goal was only able to find Ivan. Instead of hitting it first time he dribbled and waited until the time was right. Despite the plethora of Leeds defenders still in and around the box, his chip from outside the area cleared them all to make it 3-1 Brentford. Game over Leeds United. A hat trick of rare quality from a man whose stock continues to rise. With a World Cup approaching, he couldn’t have picked a better time.

Yet if Ivan’s goals gave the final result an air of inevitability, nothing could have been further from the truth. Patrick Bamford was then the right man in the right place to make wonderful goal line clearance when the ball was played over and the goalkeeper left stranded. That Leeds United were attacking at the time only goes to show just what a sweet, sweet afternoon it was turning out to be. How he steered it away from goal rather than in to the unguarded net I still have no idea. Still, that’s their concern.

Besides, a moment or two later they did manage to pull one back. A mess up in a crowded box or, as Mrs Bruzon so succinctly put things, ”A bit of a sorry shambles.” (or words to that effect). Urghh. The lead pegged back to 3-2 and ten minutes to go. It could, maybe should, have been a long and painful limp to the line. It’s Brentford, innit? Instead, the polar opposite was the case.

Within ten seconds of the restart, Bryan Mbeumo had double our lead once more. The desperate pleas for offside from Leeds not factoring in that it has been their own Koch who played him through. After you, Claude…. Meslier left with no chance. The game as good as over.

Then, who else but Wissa to round it off? Another cool finish as he stole the ball to run in on goal and fire it past Meslier. The moment underlined by Peter Gilham bursting into ‘Happy Birthday’ to Wissa as he announced the scorer. Only at Brentford.

It might have been six soon after that but let’s not be greedy. A wonderful afternoon with a wonderful scoreline. Captain Pontus letting everyone  – home and away – how he felt about things. About how much a Brentford man he is.

Despite all the goals perhaps the biggest cheer was one reserved for our old friend Keith Stroud getting in on the act as only he can do. Jesse Marsch may have a little back book chock full of former players he can sign up, but his lack of experience at this level was shown by his courting the wrath of Keith.

The warning signs were there for anybody in the know

Woebetide anybody messing around when the card happy official is on duty, let alone in the fourth official role. It takes brave, or naive, man to do that at any time. Let alone with Mr. Stroud having been seen a back door to potential Premier League officialdom opening.

Marsch may well have been incensed by the lack of penalty awarded to Leeds United. Personally, I’m not quite sure how we dodged it but, for once, VAR has gone our way. Move along, nothing to see here.

Yet his constant excursions outside the technical area and harassment of the officials would eventually be his undoing. Mr Stroud bringing the attention of referee Robert Jones to March’s transgressions and a red card was shown. Match of The Day helpfully capturing the moment, with Keith also pointing to the back of the stand from where Marsch had to watch the rest of the game.

Up there. Keep going until you reach the back

The post match debrief and player review is up shortly. Ivan has, of course, grabbed all the headlines but this was such a wonderful team performance that, if anything, only being able to choose another four players from the sixteen used by Thomas was a real challenge. From defence through midfield and infant of goal the tea were magnificent. The first holf hour suggesting a game that really could have gone either way. The Bees twice pulled back to a single goal lead until the advantage was eventually sledge hammered home.

In the end though, despite the heroics from everyone . Despite the cameo from Keith. Despite our own five goals all the headlines will be about one man. Ivan Toney. We know how good he is. Perhaps, finally, Gareth Southgate will be forced to sit up and take notice.  

As one final note, huge thanks to all at the club. Our own visit to the South Stand for this one culminated in yet another display of how chilled our own squad is. How down to earth they remain. How much of a family club we still are at heart.

One happy boy at FT

The excitement from our H when he met Wissa and Ben Mee, only matched by his chatting with Bryan at full time.

Fair to say somebody enjoyed himself

Likewise, this game even saw another jinx busted. ‘Bring somebody new. Lose the game’ . It has long been a mantra in our group that goes back to League Two days. We always want newcomers to come along for but, at the time, there seemed to be an almost predetermined outcome to what would happen in that situation. Taking the hit for the team and our friends.

Times are different now, of course, but coming from somebody who as recently as last season was luxuriating in the point pulling power of the green jacket, these habits die heard. Especially given my own choice of attire for this one was the equally lucky ‘Gary Blissett Hummel’. As such, to be told pre kickoff by part of the group from Hollywood Bets that, “This is my first Brentford game” the smile on my face was anything but reciprocated internally.

Prematch build up and lucky shirts with the team Hollywood Bets

Full time, of course, would turn out to be totally different. A 5-2 win proving that even the most ancient of taboos are no longer, necessarily, relevant in these days of Premier League football *.

That’s it for this one. Sometimes, words aren’t enough. You just have to revel in the moment. Enjoy the memories. Perhaps go and watch Match Of The Day just one more time……

Now bring on Southampton.

* Please note: I still reserve the right to wear the green jacket later this season.

Fair to say a wonderful time was had by all – even Nick from G-Tech .

Nick Bruzon

1-1 draw sees another sting in the tail.

31 Aug

What else can you say about Brentford? Five games in to the season and we’re already running out of superlatives to describe the indefatigability (is the even a word?) of Thomas Frank’s squad. Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace was, like Everton on Saturday, another game where we left it until the very end of the game to finally reap our reward. Yoanne Wissa left unmarked in the box and rising like a salmon to head home Vitaly Janelt’s delicious ball over the home defence. It was no less than we deserved on the balance of play but, as we all know, it is goals not possession or chances that eventually win games. As with Everton on Saturday, Brentford broke opposition hearts after delivering a timely reminder that football is a 90 minute game. The visit of Leeds United on Saturday cannot come quickly enough. Tails are up and morale is high. 

What a finish at The Palace

Brentford were magnificent. Crystal Palace away is always a tough one. The team announcement made that challenge even sterner with the news that Christian Norgaard had joined Pontus Jansson on the sidelines. All being well both will return for Leeds on Saturday although, if not, the Bees look to be in safe hands. Ben Mee and Zanka had another run out together at the back although the real defensive plaudits should be handed to Rico Henry and Aaron Hickey. My word, they were magnificent. The later keeping Wilfried Zaha under lock and key all game (although hats off for that moment of genius to produce the opening goal on the hour) and playing a huge part in the Palace man’s emotional post match interview.

The other man to play his part in that was none other than Yoanne Wissa. It would be fair to say he didn’t have the strongest game of his career against Everton at the weekend but what a difference a few days can make. Like some hybrid of David Fairclough (kids, ask a grown up) and Jota, he once again came off the bench to turn it up to 11. Chock full of energy and with what is now his trademark – a late, late goal.

It was as exhilarating for the Bees faithful as it was devastating for Palace. In particular, Zaha. Despite a butt clenching wait for VAR to do it’s thing, justice was eventually delivered. Cripes, not sure my heart could take another wait of that length. It was bad enough at Fulham when Ivan Toney’s back foot was adjudged to be interfering with play as he ran in the opposite direction to their goal. At least, then, there had been time to turn it around. Had this one been somehow chalked off I suspect the officials may have required safe passage from the field of play. At least, to protect their ears.

Instead it was Brentford who almost wrapped up all three points, having gone behind to Zaha’s wonderful strike on the hour. Ivan Toney with the pass of the match to release Rico Henry from nowhere. Vicente Guaita produced a fine stop to smother his effort and push it away. He was powerless to do anything about Ben Mee’s header into the ground and onto the crossbar from the resulting corner. Huge sighs of relief all round from the home support. The game wrapping up shortly after and the spoils shared. The full post match debrief and player review is up here now for anybody wanting a little bit more on the match specifics.

So close from Ben Mee

For now, it is another well earned point. Three draws, one win and a solitary defeat from our opening five fixtures. Brentford currently in ninth as we await that point where the fledgling table can officially be declared to have taken shape. The response to our equaliser as joyous as they come. The performance equally so, especially given the absentees. Janelt’s ball to Wissa vying with Ivan’s to Rico for moment of the match. Hickey and Henry may sound like a legal firm but, in practice, the flying full backs give Brentford even further options down either flank. 

It would be wonderful to take the lead rather than play catch up. Only Manchester United (h) has seen us do that. Every other game has seen us fall behind until, mostly, reaping some form of reward. Then again, Thomas has been quite clear about having his starting and finishing XIs. In using his tactics to benefit from the fact that a game of football lasts for 90 minutes. My heart would benefit from the calmness of 4-0 lead on the half hour every game but there’s no denying the excitement generated by those late, late points.

As for Wissa, what do you do? Keep him as the perennial super(b) sub where his energy and ability inspire the team, invigorate the fans and and get the goals? Or have him on from the start with the hope he gets the rub of the green? Who’d be a head coach? What a lovely problem for Thomas to have.  

This Saturday sees the visit of Leeds United. There aren’t enough words to describe the history on that one. To talk up the heartbreaking denouement to last season where, ironically, it was Brentford who fell apart. Sergi’s equaliser setting up the chance for the win that would have relegated Leeds. Instead, his red card for exuberant celebration and a rash challenge saw the then 9 man Bees unable to push on for the win that would have sunk our opponents. Instead, Jack Harrison’s 94th minute goal secured all three points and safety for the Elland Road outfit.

That was then. This is now. Whilst I am sure Thomas Frank will have put it all behind him and will be playing the moment, you can be sure the fans won’t have. How sweet would it be to pick up another home win against these of all opponents.

Roll on Saturday when we find out….

Brentford official would share this on their Twitter feed

Nick Bruzon

Brentford dominate sticky Toffees but points are shared.

28 Aug

Well wasn’t that the afternoon of tough work for Brentford? A 1-1 draw with Everton sees another point on the board and the Bees still in the top ten. It was a hard fought contest which felt, for huge swathes, as though we’d reach full time quoting our previous head coach Dean Smith and lamenting the fact that, “We deserved to win.” That, given the amount of chances created but unable to be taken relative to our opponents. Regardless, we’ll have to up our game somewhat if there is anything to be taken from the trip to Crystal Palace on Tuesday. The annihilation of Manchester United, still writ large on the cover of the matchday programme – an edition that had 12(twelve) pages of b&w Mikkel Damsgaard photos for us all to luxuriate in – now needs to be put to bed. We caught them at the right time but, as yesterday proved, The Bees need to be cleverer when presented with opponents for whom winning a game of football comes second behind killing it. We had our chances but it was one of those where we did everything but score a hatful.

It was tight in the middle

Don’t @me Everton fans. I think we’ve generally had nothing but good words to say when our paths have crossed. Likewise, we held up our hands after Brentford were humped in the FA Cup at Goodison Park last season. What comes next is hard to write about a club and supporters I’ve only got respect for. Yet Frank Lampard could well be in deep, deep trouble. His team were terrible. The tactics worse.

Injuries have bitten, sure, but the trouble seems to lie beyond that. If Anthony Gordon heads off to Chelsea they’re in even more trouble. Neal Maupay is an absolute class act but they’ll have to get the ball to him and, on this showing, I’ve just no idea how that’s going to happen.

Maupay’s fighting spirit is much needed

Brentford should have been much smarter. Sharper. Perhaps luckier.  There were plenty of opportunities from the clear cut (Bryan and, frustratingly, Wissa when the back of the net was crying out to be hit) to the unfortunate – Jensen, Ivan and then Norgaard. The later providing the most spectacular of all when his bicycle-kick hit the post. Brentford finding more wood than Ron Jeremy performing a Bryan Mbeumo 2020/21 tribute act. Jordan Pickford also had his moments – that is, when he wasn’t channeling his inner Bryce Samba. 

When your game plan is to score on the hoooooofffff and then run down the clock with an hour of time-wasting, procrastination and more dubious injuries than the average episode of Casualty (not to mention amazing recoveries to match), things are grim. It was turgid. Ten mend behind the ball at all times and constricted into a 20 yard space. Wissa’s fire extinguished by a blue duvet. Josh Dasilva unable to work any space.  Ivan and Bryan finding it tough going.  No complaints. Brentford can only play who they are up against and in Everton, it seemed to be a team already firmly locked in survival mode. They did what they set out to do very well although when your personal bar is set that low it isn’t hard.  

It wasn’t until the 86th minute that Vitaly Janelt finally levelled things up from close in. KLP’s flick on timed to perfection despite the brief wait for a VAR check which, given how things played out all afternoon, had an almost inevitable feel to it. Thankfully, there was to be no repeat of last week at Fulham.

Brentford could / should (delete as you see fit) have been cleverer. We definitely had the chances and had any one of them gone in it might have been a different story. That’s not how football works though, as we all know well. Balls in the back of the net are what count – not that a team ‘deserved to win’. Everton may well be happy with a point. Brentford will likely feel frustrated, even if Thomas Frank would afterwards talk about his pride at how we played in the circumstances. In the end, the difference between the two sides came down to Thomas once again making great use of his five substitutes. 

Regardless of their role in the goal, surely with Keane Lewis-Potter and Vitaly Janelt both upping the ante from the bench they will be screaming out for a start against Crystal Palace in a few days time. Pontus Jansson will, also, hopefully return after missing out on this one. Otherwise, I’d expect / hope for a back five with maybe Kris Ajer or Mads Roerslev making up the numbers. Palace sure to offer much more going forward than Everton did.

Personally speaking, I think Brentford should still be pleased with a point. I say that on the basis of us keeping pace with the teams in the top few places whilst, also, back in the day it would have been a game we ‘d have lost. Huff. Puff. Desperately unlucky, coming oh so close but unable to breakdown dogged determination.  As Mrs B said, “Sometimes the gods just aren’t on your side”. A point is a point and we’ll enjoy that. Until then, here’s to Tuesday night and Crystal Palace.

The footballing gods have forsaken Wissa, based on this moment yesterday

The star man and top five player review is now up here. Enjoy.

All being well the watching Gareth Southgate did and has now seen sufficient to aid his next pick. Perhaps he wasn’t the only one…..

Nick Bruzon

We’ve had an absolute shocker. Is there a response coming ahead of the weekend?

19 Aug

Brentford travel to Fulham on Saturday afternoon. Our first West London derby of the season (and, for the record, anyone boring off about the postcode can shove their clackers where the sun don’t shine). Our stock is still high after tanking Manchester United 4-0 and the smile still broad following one of THE greatest Bees’ performances of all time. It should be an amazing time, and it is, yet one can’t help feel the edge was taken off things somewhat on Thursday evening. We’ll get to all things Fulham and Man U in a moment but the topic on everybody’s mind – certainly going by social media – was Priti Patel being allowed to use Lionel Road to spout off about the government’s hugely divisive and controversial policy to send immigrants to Rwanda.

Fixed it for you, official

Stop Brentford. Stop. How on earth was this allowed to happen? Why was this allowed to happen? Never mix sport and politics is a golden rule that has been completely overlooked. Where was the swift response and explanation after Sky ran the story late in the afternoon?

Those of us just coming in from work were greeted by the Home Secretary in the South Stand at Lionel Road, attempting to justify this abhorrent policy. That’s my view, others may differ, but reading my own timeline it seemed that Bees’ supporters were united in shock, disgust and outrage at our home being used for such purposes.

Presumably she was there for footballing purposes but any such reasons were not made clear. I looked on Brentford ‘official’ and there was no story about her visit. Instead, all we have was the piece on Sky News – here for the record – and a lot of upset fans. Upset and confused. 

The club have been groundbreakers in diversity. In inclusion. In supporting refugees. In standing up to hatred and abuse. We are known for it and, quite rightly, trumpet all the amazing work we do in this field. There’s no place better for feeling welcomed. 

To then see our club used as the backdrop for what is about as inhumane a policy as one could imagine, from a government who have long proven themselves to be morally redundant and totally self-serving, is at odds with everything we stand for.

I doubt very much Ms. Patel just dropped in on the off chance. This sort of visit would have been properly lined up. Likewise, her views and policies are well, well documented. This should not have been a surprise and so for her to use our home for such propaganda purposes has left many of us feeling extremely let down. That’s the polite term. 

Why the heck our media and comms team have not been all over this up front and making crystal clear the line of political questioning a football club were comfortable to be associated with, used as a platform for,  is an explanation I’d love to hear. Instead, we got tumbleweed. No doubt (he says) there’ll be something pushed out today. There had better be but, regardless, judging by the reaction from fans – just a few of the many, many, many comments are below – it is already way too late and should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.

Right, Fulham away. Less than a third of the usual number of Brentford fans will be present for this one, given the dearth of tickets made available but rest assured we’ll be just as loud. The atmospheres at both Leicester City and then home to Manchester United ripped the roof off and I can only see more of the same coming for this one.

Frankly, I can’t wait. Memories of THAT 4-1 or Neal Maupay denying them automatic in the 89th still live strong in the mind. Our hosts devastated in their own backyard. Silenced by the Bees  – not that you could tell there was any difference from the normal happy-clappy, gin swigging, cake eating, foam finger waving, Michael Jackson worshipping, clacker filled vibe.

Stuart Dallas – scorer of my favourite ever Bees goal (pre-Mbeumo v Man U)

That’s their problem. We’ll make it happen once again. Just as we’ve done before. Just as we did when putting four goals past Manchester United with little more than 30 minutes on the clock. Brentford were imperious. Magnificent. Devastating. Matthias Jensen having the game of his life and continuing that upward trajectory of form that has more than rewarded Thomas Frank’s faith in the Danish midfielder. Christian Eriksen left ruing his summer choice. Cristiano Ronaldo a series of hissy fits, strops and self-entitlement. Harry Maguire a broken man. Lisandro Martínez out of his depth – literally and metaphorically. 

They were dreadful whilst in Erik ten Haag appear to have unearthed the new Marinus Dijkhuizen. That’s their problem though. Let’s take nothing away from Brentford who were magnificent. Both tactically and in terms of gameplay. We hassled, closed down and out ran their (apparently) illustrious opponents to such an extent that, in the end, there was genuine disappointment that it ‘only’ ended 4-0. At one point I was seriously wondering if we might even inflict brackets on Manchester United. Such was they way we were playing, 7(seven)-0 would not have been out of the question. You can get the full view that one, here.

All well and good, of course. The cardinal error now would be in thinking that we have a divine right to steamroller Fulham on Saturday. That we’ll just turn up and inflict more of the same as we’ve done against them in the past or did to Untied last week. Whilst, personally speaking, I can only see us continuing our form you can be sure that Thomas Frank will have boxed off the previous results and is only looking forward. Is only too aware that Championship flat-track bully Aleksandar Mitrović has actually started to score goals in the Premier League. Two against Liverpool in their 2-2 draw could haven three, but for a missed penalty in the 0-0 at Wolves. 

The long story short here is that for all we were amazing this is a new game. That past results have happened. That whilst confidence is high, there’s nothing like a West London derby to set the pulse racing that bit faster. Both teams are unbeaten in their opening two games and even thought Brentford are on fire, it all starts from nothing once referee Peter Bankes blows the whistle at 3pm. I can’t wait for this one. See you there. 

More of this would be amazing

Nick Bruzon. 

New striker signing could see football’s most iconic shirt deal in tatters.

19 Jul

Sure, Manchester United may have finally beaten Brentford in the race to Christian Eriksen’s signature (a wait that has taken them almost as long as that for a league title). Yes, we’re all seeing the same clickbait ’stories’ about Ivan Toney – move along, nothing to see here and then insert emoji of your choice. The question of which defenders will be fit for the start of the season hangs heavy in the air, as Thomas evaded that question on Saturday with all the ease of Mathias Jensen playing a through ball. Besides, there are wonderful new signings in the shape of Keane Lewis-Potter, Aaron Hickey and Albania international goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, who has swapped Lazio for Manchester United Lionel Road. Fair to say there’s plenty going on at present yet the top, top news is a story which you may well have missed. It comes to us from Barnsley via Ipswich Town and Tranmere Rovers, amongst others. Prolific striker James Norwood has found a new home but, in the process, has inadvertently ruined one of football’s greatest bromances. Namely, that with his long-running shirt sponsor – Bees’ fan, err, James Norwood.

James Norwood, left. And right.

Those of us with an interest in all things EFL will be familiar with James Norwood  – the player. The lower league goal machine who has been banging them in for fun since 2009. Primarily at Tranmere Rovers but more recently doing the business for Ipswich Town. Supporting him all the way on this journey through the footballing pyramid has been namesake James Norwood. A Brentford fan as well known in TW8 as being the one who these days lives in California yet seems to have an incredible knack for making it to most games. Something which, for the record, has been as applicable to our time in League Two as it is now we’ve made it up the charts.

James (our James) is a man for whom the initial novelty of sponsoring the player at Forest Green Rovers has turned into an almost ritualistic routine of keeping that run going. From The New Lawn to Prenton Park, James has been there. Perhaps not making it over for every ‘meet the player’ bash but still with another shirt for the wardrobe and another programme entry saying: James Norwood. Sponsored by: James Norwood. Something which in itself could well cause those out of the loop to think the talismanic goal scorer was also somewhat of a narcissist. For the record, he isn’t. As far as I know. 

The move to Ipswich Town in 2019 saw James continue his fine run of sponsorship form. Norwood and Norwood becoming a partnership as well known in club circles as Morecambe & Wise. Ant and Dec. Guns ’N Roses.

Mrs. Norwood, perhaps, wondering why her husband keeps running off to Europe to hang out with a footballer from teams he doesn’t even support. At face value, her confusion perhaps understandable but you can’t put a price on a great tradition. Moreso, one which has been going so strongly for so long. Until now, where disaster has struck…..

After three seasons at Portman Road, Norwood was released by Ipswich at the end of the 2021/22 campaign. Barnsley made their move and two days ago our man signed for the Oakwell club. All well and good except herein lies the problem. The Barnsley Supporters Club have moved faster than Toby Tyke in a mascot race (oh, we haven’t forgotten at Brentford…..) to secure the prestigious player sponsorship slot. 

Norwood is now a Tyke

You can’t blame them. A new hero joining the ranks and the chance to associate themselves with this footballing demi-god.

The not so good news is that it means our James Norwood is now out in the cold. His fine run over and the chance to continue football’s longest running  / most bizarre shirt sponsorship now in ruins.

There was nothing malicious about the new incumbents’ move. How were they to know up front?

The question now being whether fair play, gallantry and a sense of honour may intervene to see them step aside? A question of whether Barnsley can do anything to help broker a truce that would see this long running saga continue?

Come on Barnsley. Come on CEO, Khaled El-Ahmad. Is there ANYTHING you can do? Otherwise, this one will end with James Norwood (our James Norwood) forever remaining an ex-tractor fan.

Might this one see an 11th hour reprieve?

Nick Bruzon 

Kitman Bob’s season exclusive and new shirt clues…..

30 Jun

Christian Eriksen this. Manchester United that. It seems that there’s only one subject on everyone’s lips at the moment. Got to love the close (closed?) season. Until such time as Brentford official release a photo of our man brandishing the Pontus Jansson ceremonial biro then supporters can’t be blamed for fearing the worst whilst still hoping for the best. It’s Brentford, innnit?

So we need distraction. Something other than transfer speculation or wondering which team the Great Dane will be lining up for when The Bees host United in the first home game of the campaign. Fortunately (your definition may vary, given the normal standard of content on these pages) we have it. An exclusive from inside the club. From the legend that is Kitman Bob who has taken the time out whilst on his own summer hols to share his thoughts on the season just gone. On everything from pre-season to our 2022/23 shirt (it’s coming, folks…..).

The legend that is Bob Oteng

Sure. You could sweat over Manchester United.

You could carry on panicking over our apparent lack of summer signings….. 😉

One might even dream that we’ve copied Partick Thistle in their, alleged, kit design for 2022/23. No idea if this leaked image is true but, if so, it’s up their with our own Jaffa cake as one of the best shirts ever….. 

Could we copy Partick Thistle? Is this real? Imagine Buzzette, front and centre…..

All the angst in the world won’t change what may or may not happen between now and the season proper starting at Leicester City on Saturday 6th August. Sorry, Sunday 7th. Forgot about the carnival. Again.

So, instead, sit back and let Kitman Bob do the heavy lifting.

Here’s 2021/22 in his own words……

It’s the Bees’ first season in the Premier League and I don’t know if me or the players are the most excited. Having worked in the Premier League before, this coming season definitely feels different. Everything and everyone around me is different. There’s a different feel and atmosphere around Jersey Road. We were all feeling very exhilarated and we were all seeming to be more introspective so we could  ensure we did what was needed to help each and everyone be successful in the coming months.

Giant murals of the season gone and that day in May… A few new members of staff have joined. Luke my new assistant and Josh to help myself and Jo look after the whole team. ( i couldn’t have survived without those three people).

Having worked at a club previously that had been promoted via the play offs, the following season was one of despair. As records go it’s very rare for a team promoted via the play-offs to maintain their PL status.   BUT we are Brentford and WE do things differently…..

Pre-season is a blur. Normally for me pre-season is a drag. Training game after training game but for the first time in many years I’m looking forward to every game and every training session. To watching the new players. 

It just seems so surreal when the fixtures are announced and you see Brentford versus Arsenal. I scroll down to see when we play Liverpool, Man City and especially where we are on Boxing Day.  Then I try and calculate how many points we will have by the first international break [I’m sure we’ve all done it]. Glad to say I was so far off the mark I stopped doing it after the first international break. 

The afternoon of the first game I look round the dressing room. Admire shirts with the lion on the sleeve gave me a sense of pride and emotion of my time at Brentford and my first game Walsall away in the cup. 

The season opener against Arsenal will be remembered not only by Bees’ fans but many around the world. Post covid, post face masks, its Friday night under the lights and what a night it was. I really didn’t know what to expect, the whole stadium came alive, it was impossible to keep calm with what I was witnessing. I felt that what ever happened this season that night was truly a significant and memorable night for all.

Thomas mirrors what we all felt after that 2-0 defeat of Arsenal

The training ground on the Monday morning had such a great feel vibe but everybody knew it was just the beginning. That we had to keep on working. The players and the coaches seemed more focused than ever. I was enjoying the fact that I didn’t have a game to prepare for in 72 hours and I had a whole six days of preparation.

Four games into the season and we are doing ok. The games seem to be so different with huge atmospheres and stadiums. The Bees away fans seemed to be louder regardless of what the score is and seem to be always out singing the home fans.  (I could even hear them at Newcastle). Now when we win at home the ritual of freed from desire is becoming my new favourite. 

At the point we hit a sticky patch the mood at the training ground never changed from that first game. Staff and players knew we had a plan and there was never any panic or worry amongst us. The signing of Christian Eriksen, I cannot lie, gave the whole place an even bigger boost but on the same level was seeing the return of David Raya.

Christian at the Brentford Training Ground

Watching the games now is the same as early the part of the season. The boys looking comfortable and not out of place. Notably at Chelsea away.  The score put the gloss on the day.

The most significant memory is of how Thomas before and after the game made it feel that this will be the new norm. There was no over the top celebrations – players back to recovering and doing what’s right ready for the next game. 

As we proceeded throughout the remainder of the season so many enjoyable and memorable events on the pitch and off the pitch. Everton away was probably the best atmosphere I have ever encountered. In the portacabin in the car park we could hear the singing and the bees fans. As  we followed the team out the noise was gladiatorial, a sense of a true battle ahead.( It reminded me of certain nights at GP).

Burnley at home was magic, an invisible veil of clam and relax came over everyone. As if to say we will be back to do this all over again !!

What an inaugural season for the Bees.

Chelsea away one of many highlights for Bob

There are lots of changes off the pitch to come.  For me, I’m now looking forward to the release of the new away and 3rd kits and the TWITTER banter to follow. May drop a few hints (kit enthusiast beware there could be a Marmite on the horizon, hopefully soon).

This BUS STOP is different, many outside will say it’s a fairy tale season etc. Fairy tales are dreams. We don’t go to bed knowing what we will dream that night!!

This fairy tale is one that has been scripted( AND STILL IS).  Some would say it just doesn’t happen when you’re part of that script and living it like we all have. 

You know THAT WE ARE BRENTFORD AND WE DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY!!!   SWEET DREAMS ALL..

There’s a new change shirt coming – don’t say you haven’t been warned……

The dream is on.

16 May

What a Sunday. Brentford were magnificent, simply magnificent, in a 3-2 defeat of 9 man Everton. Burnley robbed by the most dubious of penalties at Spurs. Leeds United leaving it to 90+2 to salvage a draw that keeps them one point above The Clarets, albeit with a game more played. Next weekend is going to be huge. The Bees still with a very realistic chance of a top ten finish. As interestingly, that final relegation spot is going to go to the wire. The dream really is on. Should Burnley pick up a point in either of their final two games, then Brentford will have the final say in who goes down. Could it be Leeds? Could it….?

What an afternoon

Let’s start at Goodison Park though. We’ve likely all caught up with it by now. Either live at the ground, on Sky as events unfolded or perhaps later on MOTD2. The tale of the tape being goals for Wissa, Rico and an o.g. to give Brentford the points. 

Everton ending the game with 9 men after straight reds for both Jarrad Branthwaite and Salomon Rondon. The master outsmarting the apprentice on the other bench as Thomas Frank played his substitution cards with all the insight of a man reading the game as a scholar would the Encyclopædia Britannica. Lampard, meanwhile, was stuck on Page 2 of Topsy and Tim Play Football with no clue which way to turn. 

Even the undoubted king of shithousery Richarlison, a man who makes Neal Maupay look like Mother Theresa, unable to salvage the game for the Toffees.

Required reading

The post-match debrief is up here with all the info on who did what. For now, we need to reflect on the bigger picture. On the fact that Brentford are not only closing in on the top ten but we played a ferocious atmosphere and shut it down. We survived the desperation of a 3.30am firework laden wake up call to deliver a few rockets of our own. Our supporters immense. Our players, equally so. Thomas shuffling his pack before the decision was taken out of his hands on an afternoon when you were never quite sure what colour card would come next.

Most of all though, it means that Sunday is going to be massive. Regardless of the midweek results when Burnley and Everton play their games in hand, that final relegation spot will be open. Leeds United still have matters outside their own control – my word, Thursday night at Villa Park is going to be some game  – and Brentford are the ones now in position to potentially send them back to the Championship.

Of course, we’ll be playing for league position. A win absolutely vital for Brentford if the dream of top ten in the Premier League is to become a reality. Anything else that may transpire off the back of that, nothing more than a consequence of our actions and our ambition. Not to mention our opponents’s season long bad form with only five clean sheets and their breaking the all time Premier League record for yellow cards in a campaign.

That said, the one thing you can bank on is that Bees’ fans would, universally, love that scenario to play out. Any Everton supporters worried about being overtaken should they somehow fail to pick up another point can rest assured that the Bees will be going for it.

Which sticks in the craw somewhat given the racial abuse dished out on social media and to the families of both Rico Henry and Ivan Toney by some of the home fans. It has all been reported to the Police but the fact this is still happening is utterly sickening. Utterly baffling. Let’s see what the club do in relation to this. It’s 2022 for crying out loud. Not the 70s. 

For that alone I’d love not doing them any sort of favour but, sadly, needs must and the bigger picture potential of the Bees recording our own victory is just too huge to contemplate.  With 7(seven) wins from the last 10 games and the only real negative being the off-key evening at Old Trafford, Brentford are on fire. Oh to make it an eighth on Sunday.

Rest assured, if Leeds United think that Brentford are going to be on their summer holidays nothing could be further from the truth.  I tell you this now. I’d love it if we can get the win. Absolutely love it. Leeds United went down in my estimation when they published that video, despite subsequently removing it. I’ve got a feeling that despite his diplomatic persona, Thomas Frank is thinking much the same.

Mind the gap…

Nick Bruzon

Video nice and video nasty suggest a special dish will be on the menu.

10 May

Another day, another vote. We wrote yesterday about the almost impossible choice facing anybody making their Brentford player of the year selection. Such have been the performances this season there are a genuine half-dozen candidates who could lay claim to the award. Now, with just Everton (a) and Leeds United (h) to go, we’re almost at the end of the line. There’s still a ton of excitement to come – and the resurfacing of ‘that’ video yesterday has only served to further stoke supporter intrigue in all things Elland Road (that’s the polite term) – with the hope paramount that we’re all channeling our inner Joy Division next Sunday. That is, assuming Neal Maupay and Brighton don’t get there first this weekend.

Could Neal do it, again

First up, the player of the year vote. For what its worth I’ve gone David Raya. There seems to be a lot of noise for Christian Norgaard too. Both magnificent candidates. As are all the other names on a shortlist where Rico Henry, Ivan Toney and Christian Eriksen seem to be amongst the other names of those leading the charge.

It really is a case where car keys in the bowl would be just as fair a mechanism for selecting the winner though. They’ve all been incredible and this is, without a doubt, the toughest vote ever. My thoughts on the runners and riders, to coin a phrase, are in yesterday’s piece – along with the Southampton post-match debrief and our own season long ‘top five’.

Then, on Monday, another vote dropped. Like standing at a bus stop you wait ages and then two come along at once. This time, the goal of the season.

What a choice this one is. A shortlist of 11 that is dominated by two players. The technical brilliance of Vitaly Janelt at Southampton. His pair agasint Chelsea also included. Then there’s Wissa. Liverpool. Aston Villa. Oldham in the cup. And, of course, that amazing moment against West Ham. Oh, the hairs on the back of my neck are tingling just thinking about that one. About just how incredible it was.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

Then there’s Sergi Canos. He scored our first top flight goal of the season. You know? That night we beat Arsenal and went top of the Premier League. Don’t @ me. The table doesn’t lie.

If Wissa was incredible for the timing and the celebration, this one was at home and that mass out pouring of joy. It wasn’t a bad finish either, with a personal celebration to match.

Sergi very much enjoys the moment…

The vote is live now. As with the POTY awards, all you need is a fan number and a surname to take part. Much as I was tempted by Ajer against Southampton or Saman up at Burnley, for me it is a straight fight between Sergi and Wissa at West Ham.

However, that’s me. Vitaly’s precision and technique are more than worthy of recognition – just which of the three ? Good luck sorting through all of this but at least it’s fun doing so. The video is below.

And talking of videos, a segue as subtle as the ‘jokes’ in Mrs. Brown’s Boys, if ever inspiration was needed for the Everton and Leeds United games (it isn’t) then we were given a helpful reminder from Elland Road yesterday. A helpful reminder that revenge is a dish best served cold. A reminder, that there could be something very special on the menu next Sunday.

We were all saving it. We were all keeping our powder dry. But we’ve all started sharing it. And Monday seemed to be ‘Mind the Gap’ reminder day. Sometimes, there is no real comment needed. No point waxing lyrical for pages. Just remember that even Leeds United ‘official’ shared it before hastily changing their minds….

I am sure that Thomas Frank and all those in an official capacity at Brentford will remain tight lipped in the build up to this one and maintain a stance of nothing more than looking to finish the season with a win. For Brentford fans, we all know what this would mean. Not just the video but the ongoing arrogance and entitlement since our days together in League One. Oh, Ben Strevens xx

A season that has given so much since Sergi got the ball rolling against Arsenal back in August looks like it is going to go all the way to the wire.

And I cannot wait. If its good enough for Ivan then its good enough for me….

Hmm. Love will tear us apart, anyone? A game that was already laced with anticipation looks like it might have cranked up a level or three.

In the meantime, the post match debrief from the Southampton game is now up and online. Should anybody need any further food for though in picking their POTY then this may provide the calm before the storm.

Nick Bruzon