Tag Archives: Tony Craig

The three-five players our club can’t afford not to not sign/let go. Farewell John Egan. And Flo?

20 Jul

Welcome back to Championship life, Brentford fans. You can now ignore the weeks of clickbait as things have actually happened. With The Bees already accepting a bid for Florian Jozefzoon (Leeds United thought to be the original target but Derby County now in the box seat to complete that one) it was John Egan who was the first to leave Griffin Park yesterday. Sheffield United splashing out their record transfer fee (£4million is the word on the street) to take our captain up to Bramall Lane where he will line up in a defence featuring fellow ex-Bees Jack O’Connell and Simon Moore. Yet unlike last season’s summer sale (© the Middlesex Chronicle big book of 80’s alliteration) to Birmingham City, this feels totally different.

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The words of Sheffield United about John Egan

Four. Million. Pounds. Wow! Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has been quoted on the BBC as saying ,”We see him as a leader and he is worthy of the fee we’ve paid for him, in my opinion he is a better player than a couple of those who have already moved for bigger fees this summer”

Meanwhile, over on Brentford official I had images of Phil Giles being handed a hessian sack, over-flowing with bills and a dollar sign stenciled on the front. His take on it was a simple one – they offered what we wanted and so the club accepted. Noting specficially that, “We were happy to complete the transfer once our valuation had been met for a player who has done very well for us and who was our captain last season. The remaining group of centre backs are young but hugely talented so it will remain to be seen whether we need to replace John directly over the final weeks of the transfer window”.

You can read that one in full, here.

It marks a stark contrast to his approach when pressed on the Birmingham City transfers back in September. When last season’s summer window closed with ‘that’ 11th hour triple move to St. Andrews  his explanation was slightly different as to why it had happened in that fashion. Eleven months ago  – it had always been the plan to buy over the summer and sell just prior to the window closing. “Strategically it’s the ideal way to do it. Sell them late and buy them early.”

Now, with John gone to the Blades and Flo seemingly also out the door to Derby County, we’re doing business early. Likewise, let’s not forget that fellow centre back Andreas Bjelland has also departed after declining our new offer when his contract expired.

Am I upset? Yes, but no. On a personal note, John was always massively popular in our house. He visited Harry at Halloween and took great care of him when he was fortunate enough to be mascot last season (leading the team out rather than dressed up as Buzzette).  It will be sad to see such a likeable individual and talented player leave. Four million speaks volumes about his quality. Let’s not forget, either, that aswell as being Captain he is also a full international.

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Thank you, John. From HB (and dad)

Yet the reaction on social media seemed to be one of universal agreement – with that much money on the table, for a player who has given great service and that we picked up when his own contract had expired, this was great business. It is a view I absolutely concur with and as much because it really gives Chris Mepham a chance to make a huge name for himself this season. Whether alongside Yoann, Mads or new boy Ezri Konsa.

If nothing else, what must that say about his (Meps’) valuation? Eddie Howe has been well, well out of his depth if this is what our players are going for. As long as the first team stay fit  (and at Griffin Park) then this has the makings of a great defence.

Let’s just hope Dean doesn’t make Chris captain, though. Or Woodsy!  Jonathan Burchill (@Jonathan77777) on Twitter has done his own analysis and come up with the following gem:

Kevin O’Connor retired at end of 2013-14 promotion season. Since then every @BrentfordFC captain has left the club within 12 months of taking the armband:

14-15 Craig (& Douglas, who was capt more often that season)

15-16 Bidwell

16-17 Dean

17-18 Egan

Interesting stat, Jonathan. My own immediate question would be whether this mean Nico Yennaris and Josh McEachran, who stepped in as captain last time out, could be also be leaving before Rotherham visit?

Alfie Mawson to Barnsley (currently Swansea). Jack O’Connell and now John Egan. Both Sheffield United. Harlee to Birm… ok, maybe not that last one. Yet the list of quality centre backs that have left in recent years but will line up against us this season for famous clubs is one that is growing. You could also chuck in the likes of Andreas, Tony Craig and number 26 to that mix of quality, albeit their paths now lie elsewhere. It says how blessed we have been in this positon. How well we have continued to recruit.

The obvious question is, who next? Whether in or out. With Flo seemingly as good as gone, that’s two that have departed. The likes of Meps, Ryan Woods, Ollie Watkins and Daniel Bentley are amongst the other big names whom fans are, understandably, sweating on. Will these two sales have been sufficient to staunch the flow of departures? Are they enough to counterbalance inward movement that has seen Said Benrahama and Ezri already joining Dean Smith’s exciting young squad.

We’ve still a while to go until the transfer window slams shut. I’m sure this won’t be the last of it. This is Brentford. We are now well used to how things happen. Heroes leaving when valuations are met. Unknowns and young potential joining who then go on to become the next big thing. I’ve promised myself I won’t get upset this season. That we’ll really show some faith in what the club are doing. Four top ten Championship finishes in a row show they know an awful lot more than me about football, that’s for sure.

At the same time, keeping this squad together will only be seen as an immediate good thing. A chance for us to really build and make a push for that top six. Could we even strengthen further? Who knows? One step at a time.

For now, it is a case of thank you, farewell and good luck to John. And don’t even think about scoring against us. Please ! 

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That’s about as official as it gets

Nick Bruzon

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Football is back. Bees all set to sting the Lions.

14 Oct

And we’re back in the room. After a two week lay off for Brentford thanks to International break, the Bees welcome Millwall as Championship football returns to Griffin Park. So much has happened since the last time we were all together (the 2-2 draw up at Middlesbrough) and I cannot wait to get back to action.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. So often, the International football served up over the break is no substitute for being at Griffin Park. I’ll park that one here for now, suffice to say that when the highlight of the Lithuania game was wondering why it was taking place in front of the marquee from the Great British Bake Off then you know things are grim.

That said (and to coin an old phrase) if you would like to read more then those World Cup qualifiers are amongst the topics under discussion in the ‘Park Life’ column from today’s match day programme.

Programme v Millwall
You can get the programme in and around the ground

Chock full of other features, new editor Sam Marshall and the club media team really have done a cracking job with this season’s publication (yours truly’s nonsense aside). What else would you buy on match day?

Off field, work is stepping up on the site at Lionel Road. Last week the club published a series of photographs showing the demolition of the ‘Capital Court’ office underway.I t is work that is continuing on a daily basis and can be seen by anybody walking past the site.

Certainly, it is a journey that my family now undertake Monday to Friday as part of the school run. Seeing where ‘Daddy bees’ are going to host all manner of ‘naughty teams’ in the next couple of years is now very much part of the morning ritual.

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Diggers at work on site at Lionel Road, Friday

Like Brentford, the Last Word has also had few weeks off – although this down to nothing more than laziness – but the thought of Millwall visiting has the blood pumping once more. The thought of seeing if the Bees can continue our unbeaten run and even pick up a first home win means I cannot wait to get down to Griffin Park. Moreso, as George Saville is likely to feature for the visitors.

It would be fair to say the former Bee had a torrid time the last time he visited. At least from the crowd, where he came in for dog’s abuse on the Braemar Road side about an incident that had allegedly happened around the back of a hotel carpark, at Brentford lock. Italian restaurants not the only little thing around there, if eye witness testimony is to be believed.

There’ll be no such chanting towards Tony Craig, should he feature. The ever popular centre back has helped both clubs earn promotion over the last few seasons. I still wager that had Mark Warburton stuck with him in our first Championship season then we’d have gone all the way rather than our eventual play-off defeat to Middlesbrough.

A dismal run towards the end of that season saw Tony dropped to the bench in favour of Harlee and number 26. It was a run punctuated by a series of defensive cock ups and 2-2 draws, including a shocker against none other than Millwall where the Lions held a 2-0 lead until a late, late resurgence from Brentford earned a lucky point.

But that was then and this is now. Nobody can deny that despite just missing out that time, to be in a fourth successive Championship campaign is nothing but impressive for a club under estimated by just about everybody outside of TW8. Dean Smith will be desperately keen to get another win under the belt. Moreso, given the amount of possession in our previous Griffin Park outing – the 1-1 draw at home to Gary Rowett’s bus parking Derby County.

He’s going to have to do it without Rico Henry. The injury suffered by our left back at Middlesbrough means he is now out for most, if not all, of the season. It’s desperately sad news for Rico. He really has looked the part since joining from Walsall and has fast become a fan favourite – especially over on the New Road side.

This does mean that Dean has a selection poser. With Tom Field on loan at Bradford until Christmas and unable to be recalled, who does he go for? Josh Clarke filled in at the Riverside rather than playing on his traditional right hand side. Andreas Bjelland and John Egan are both fit once more, having missed out in recent weeks. As such, could Yoann Barbet be shunted across? Or will we see a first league start for Ilias Chatzitheodoridis?

Having already featured in the League Cup, it’s highly likely we’ll see yet another B-team player make the step up into the first team. Dean has shown time and again he isn’t afraid to blood Kevin O’Connors kids and I think today will see another such occasion. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Just look at the impressive start made by Chris Mepham.

With striker Lasse Vibe also available again, we have a few more choices. Finally. Rico’s loss is a huge one but overall the squad should have enough about it to record that elusive home win today. The bookies have us as odds on favourites in a game that they also predict to be a goal fest. So, 0-0 then?

Well, I can advise that my Cousin Charles is coming to the game today. And whilst the stats about his attendance/win ratio probably don’t form part of Matthew Benham’s model, all I’ll say is to lump your money on three points to the Bees. For research purposes.

See you at 3pm.

matchday timings

Cut to the chase – it’s all about what happens at 3pm

Nick Bruzon

Will it be three in a row as Swansea make £5m move for former Bee ?

27 Aug

With Brentford due up against Sheffield Wednesday today, Bees fans woke to find we’d been overtaken in the table by Burton Albion whose 1-0 derby win over, erm, Derby moved them into the play-off zone. And those who went to bed really, really early have woken to the news that Championship rivals Barnsley have accepted a bid of £5million from Swansea City for former Bee Alfie Mawson.

First up, today’s game. On paper Brentford are looking good at Griffin Park. Played 2, won 2, scored 3, conceded 0. Sheffield Wednesday, on the other hand, have picked up 1 point form the last 3. On paper.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Brentford hung onto a win against Forest last time out

 

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Alfie Mawson – you can read about his unsung hero award on the EFL site

 

Nick Bruzon

If it worked for Tony, could it work for Bob ?

3 Aug

With the season just a few days away, there was good news for Brentford fans yesterday c/o new club sponsors 888sport. Free coach travel to the likes of Aston Villa, Derby County and Bristol City will be the order of the day. There was equally good news for those with an interest in the Bees kit (please, stay with me) as they also released a video “showcasing the Club’s unsung hero, Bob Oteng, the First Team Kitman

Bob is the big dog. He’s probably the most revered, the most celebrated  kit man probably not only in English football, probably European football, probably touching across America.” They aren’t my words, although I’d agree with them, but those of club masseur, Chris Domoney. And with them, the tone for the short film is set.

There can’t be many who haven’t seen it yet but , should you be in the dark, then it’s available below.

Whilst Chris goes on to make the (surely) tongue in cheek comment that , “There is an annual Bob festival in Colombia where once a year people dress up in Bob the kit man masks…” it did get me thinking about away trips. And I’m not alone.

Bees Player commentator par-excellence Mark Burridge took to Twitter to suggest,  “How about an away game with @ganodecafe10 ‘ face masks’ @Beesotted – you guys are good at this stuff! “. A legend amongst Brentford fans and anything but unsung (at least, in TW8, where his BBGiveaway has fans gripped every weekend) what a way to further add to his legendary status? Mark, Beesotted – over to you. Just name the date.

If this was to happen, it wouldn’t be the first time, either. Amongst the Brentford fans attending Saturday’s Tony Craig testimonial at Millwall were four Tony Craigs. Or, at least, four fans in the aforementioned style of headgear. If it worked for Tony then surely it can work for Bob….

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If it worked for Tony, could it work for Bob?

And talking of away games (seamless, just seamless) the club announced what it described as “An unprecedented start” to our relationship with the new chief sponsor. Namely, free away travel to several games this season. With the Aston Villa trip, and the prospect of a new ground, now on a Wednesday night this will certainly take a lot of the pain out of that one for many supporters.

I love the travel aspect of an away trip normally. Frankly, the 90 minutes of football is quite often the least enjoyable aspect of a great day out. But a midweek trip, with holiday time at work nothing but a fleeting memory, means that games late in the calendar year do present more of a logistical challenge. This, before you even look at the cost of train tickets.

So the prospect for a free coach direct from Brentford to Villa Park and back again is an offer that, I am sure, will only be very well received. Thank you.

Full details are on the club site.

Nick Bruzon

Tony Craig day is here as an inevitable pun is released into the wild.

30 Jul

Brentford travel to Millwall this afternoon for Tony Craig’s thoroughly deserved testimonial. Elsewhere Championship rivals Wolves, a club we have focussed on a lot more in recent years, have finally succumbed to the almost inevitable in providing the most expected of bad punnery.

First up, Tony Craig.  His transfer to Millwall in July of last year was a particularly disappointing one. As we’ve noted previously, he was one of these players who gave his all in a Brentford shirt over three seasons in which he was one of our standout players.

Tony bounced back from a dubious red card administered by Keith Stroud during the infamous battle of Bramall Lane in the year of ‘that penalty’. He was a colossus at the heart of the defence during our promotion season in which he scooped the player’s player of the year award.

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Tony – as seen on the club site after helping the Bees to promotion

One particular game from that campaign, home to Oldham Athletic and just into Warbs’ managerial tenure following the departure of Uwe, was notable for one of the most incredible pieces of defending I’ve ever seen, described at the time thus:

On the only occasions Athletic really threatened, Tony Craig was there to mop things up. The highlight of which being a 5 on 1 breakaway in the first half where he stood his ground, kept standing and did sufficient to fend off the Oldham hordes. Lesser players could have been forgiven for lunging in but not Tony. It was my moment of the game – until the goal itself”.

There was no fuss and no showmanship with Tony for Brentford. That’s not to say he wasn’t skillful but he just got on with his game. No more so was the difference in attitude between him and the more outrageous players seen than in the Championship fixture with Wolves at Griffin Park back in November 2014.

That was the one where, you may recall, Bakary Sako was due to play against us in golden boots, encrusted with Swarovski crystals. Tony was the complete opposite. The anti-Sako, if you will. For one terrace wag, whose identity I’ll protect, the sight of even neon teale or electric pink boots on a Brentford player will usually elicit a cry of, “Rubbish. I like Tony Craig. Sensible, no nonsense footwear.”

Tony played the full 90 minutes that day as Wolves and Sako were locked out, leaving TW8 on the wrong end of a 4-0 thrashing. It was part of that #Novemberkings phase (please ‘official’, let’s never use hashtags again) that saw Warbs win manager of the month, Tony feature prominently and the Bees get within a sniff of the table top.

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Bakary Sako’s boots failed to sparkle

Indeed, his absence from the side in the back end of the season coincided with some defensive howlers but, more importantly, a seeming fragility across the defensive area of the team when, perhaps, his experienced head would have been the perfect tonic. Whilst he remained available for selection, Warbs kept faith. with his chosen two.

I can’t knock him for that and the end result was Brentford reaching the Play-Offs. Itself, a phenomenal achievement when viewed independently. However, I do also wonder had Tony stayed in the team, might we actually have gone one better and achieved ‘automatic’?

We’ll never know but what better way to celebrate then by getting along to Millwall this afternoon? Admission is just £10 for adults and, more importantly, Tony is using the proceeds to make a donation to Headley Court, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre which treats injured members of the Armed forces.

The other Bees news is the just announced (Saturday morning) signing of Callum Elder on loan from Leicester City for the season. Filling the gap at left back made by Jake Bidwell’s departure for Loftus Road earlier this month, the move was one which had been very widely anticipated.

Fair play to the rumour mill, it has been spot on this season. Either they’ve upped their game or the Brentford press team have become leakier than the Fulham defence. Regardless, this can only be good news on the playing front and nice to see a change from the normal ‘signing photo’. This time around, we’ve gone for the rarely seen line up of the shirt  / contract combo.

And talking of Wolves earlier ( a link made with all the subtly of Bakary Sako’s boots), it has been announced overnight that the Molineux club have parted company with / sacked manager Kenny Jackett.

This is an inevitable part of modern football life. Moreso in the Championship where managers seem to have the longevity of a cornetto in a greenhouse. Yet, I feel a particular affinity to Wolves.

Despite the initial mocking from a minority of their fans in regards to how big they were compared to ‘little old Brentford’ (somebody should use that one) it’s fair to see we’ve given as good as we’ve got over a wonderful last three seasons.

There was the 2013/14 League One campaign where, despite a record number of points for the Bees and that huge unbeaten run, Wolves stormed to the title with a final total of 103. In any other season our own 94 would have been more than good enough for top spot.

However, the following two campaigns have seen Brentford fare better than Wolves, positionally. 2014/15 saw our two clubs locked on 78 points, with the Bees reaching the play-offs in fifth and Wolves coming so close to edging out Ipswich on that incredible final afternoon. In the end, it was a goal difference gap too far but 7th place still not one to be sniffed at for a newly promoted club.

Last season saw a 7(seven) point gap split the teams with Dean Smith’s team ending it in 9th and Wolves 14th. The moral high ground for Brentford and some consolation for the £250 bet proceeds lost as a result of our being beaten (deservedly so) to that League One title.

So it was sadness that I woke this morning to the news of Kenny Jackett’s departure. Undoubtedly a huge club with big ambitions  – whether new or otherwise – (hello, is that the marketing team?) he has perhaps been an inevitable casualty of failure to make an immediate return to the top flight.

On the other hand, a rare opportunity for lazy headline writers and lazier pun makers. Chin up Kenny, I’m sure you’ll get a chance to go again soon.

No jacket required kenny original

No words required

Crazy capers, Christmas jumpers and Paul McCartney (kind of)

11 Dec

With Brentford set to play Fulham on Saturday, I was reminded of a simple yet wonderful truth. “Caper is a stunning word”. Not my quote (although certainly sentiments I agree with) but those of one New Road wag with whom I was discussing the forthcoming game. A discussion which led, at a tangent, to popular music’s Wu-Tang Clan and from there to an abhorrent video coming out of QPR, which we’ll get to shortly.

Fans of the group (Wu-Tang Clan, not QPR) will, I am sure, be aware of their ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ album. A 31 track effort of which there has only been one copy ever produced and that sold at auction for USD2million to drugs baron (in a medical sense) Martin Shkreli.

However, the story took a bizarre turn on Thursday when an alleged clause in the sale contract, detailing how the group could regain possession of their record, was made public. Specifically via the medium of legally planning and attempting “to execute one (1) heist or caper to steal back Once Upon A Time In Shaolin.”

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Is this for real? Who cares .

I don’t know what the best part of this is. Bill Murray? The stunning use of brackets? Or just the phrase “ execute one (1) heist / caper” ? Truly, a pair of words more commonly associated with slapstick comedies or trashy crime thrillers.

The byproduct of reading this was my thinking more about how I could crowbar either one into today’s article. And with Brentford and Fulham about to meet at The Cottage once more, a cheap bit of photoshoppery and sledgehammer like unsubtlety, in combination with the aforementioned comedy, seemed the obvious solution.

For once, PG isn’t Peter Gilham …

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Coming soon to a stadium near you?

As for QPR, words fail me…

Whilst Alan Partridge may have famously noted, “ Wings – the band that The Beatles could have been”, nobody deserves to be treated this badly.

I’d recommend you don’t press play. Not even in an ironic sense. Words can’t describe just how toecurlingly bad this is . Where’s Keith Stroud and his red card when you need him?

You have been warned. Watch this at your own risk

That wasn’t the only video to see the light of day on Thursday. Griffin Park, so often the location for film crews needing a local football ground, has starred again.

This time in a promotional film for Sky Sports and their coverage of Football League fixtures over the Christmas period. Given their spannering of my trip to Brighton, I shouldn’t really be over indulging in their promotion but there are a number of aspects that caught my interest.

Primarily, as one observer on the Ealing Road has pointed out, Kurt and the marketing chaps really have taken Peter Gilham’s much touted new public address system to ridiculous levels.

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“This is Brentford Control…”

Then, of course, there is an appearance from another familiar face in Brentford circles. And I don’t mean Jeff Stelling who, to the best of my knowledge, has never had any involvement with the Bees or our fans – certainly beyond a squeal of excitement as we locked horns with his beloved Hartlepool back in October 2012.

That, a game which saw a brace from Paul Hayes – his first goals for the Bees – before Tony Craig rescued a point for the Monkeyhangers with a 90th minute own goal. Grown men wept. Others just reached for the vodka bottle as Brentford conspired to snatch a 2-2 draw from the jaws of certain victory – Harlee Dean having previously helped the visitors along by scoring their first (own) goal.

Still, I digress. There aren’t any prizes on offer for figuring out that, of course, Brentford super fan Natalie Sawyer is also donning her best Christmas jumper for this one.

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Who doesn’t like a Christmas jumper?

And if you’d like to see more of Jeff, Natalie and Griffin Park all doing their thing then the full video is below. Although Sky, don’t think I’m any happier about Brighton.

That said, it still beats QPR’s attempt to sleigh Paul McCartney.

Nick Bruzon

Brentford and Marinus – a supporter’s view of the season so far

12 Sep

Ahead of Brentford taking on Leeds United today, I was contacted by supporter Rob Young who has asked if he could share his own thoughts on the season so far. It’s fair to say that Brentford have had a hectic start to the campaign. The departure of Mark Warburton to Glasgow Rangers meant Marinus was on a hiding to nothing from some quarters before before he even joined. And then we had pitch gate. And injuries.

I’m always keen to hear other perspectives and, I have to say, Rob has put into words his feelings an awful lot better than I could hope to ever achieve.

Rob – over to you. Brentford, Marinus, the supporters, transfers et al…..

Firstly many thanks to Nick for allowing me to air my thoughts on the tempestuous start to the season.

I was hoping the dust would have settled a little since the Reading defeat and the influx of 3 new players at the end of the transfer window (and none leaving) may have ‘cooled’ the fervent negativity within our fan base. But reviewing the dreaded social media its seems the two week gap has done little to dampen the plethora of frustrations, anger and derision of the owner, management, coach and players. We are very much a bunch of fans in flux at the moment – bit like Stormont in Northern Ireland. Yes we have two tough games ahead and if we get one point from six I will be happy, but I guess many more will want a lynching if that is the end result.

I genuinely feel for Marnius, new job, new challenge and having to tread in the footsteps of one of the most liked, most successful and best managers our club has ever had. How he must have wished and dreamed for a solid start to win the hearts and minds of the loyal faithful. Only for fate and the power of cash rich Clubs see the backbone of his team ripped from under him. He must have, like many of us do, have had the perfect team in his head, dreaming of them doing the business on the pitch.

He would likely have planned a team built with one of the best Championship keepers in Button, the experienced Bjelland in front, and then Josh McEachran running midfield, Jota doing what he does best out wide and Andre Gray providing the spearhead.

View from the stands: Jota appeared against Ipswich and was then injured

View from the stands: Jota appeared against Ipswich and was then injured

To lose 3 of those to injury and one heading for the ‘out’ door after the first league game must have been a real kick in the teeth. Last season we were blessed with good fortune on the injury front. Yes, we lost Scott Hogan, but by and large we managed to keep the best players fit and on the field which played a huge part in our success.

Luck plays a huge part in success or failure, on the injury front Warbs got lucky, Marinus has not. Add Moses up and going and what Marinus had hoped to be his strongest XI was decimated through no fault of his own. No wonder he looks a somewhat forlorn figure on the side lines. Poor man must wonder what the hell he has let himself in for or what he did wrong in a past life.

I wanted to comment on something Nick did mention in one of his posts about Marinus and his body language. I have a lot of experience of working alongside Dutch people. They, like many different nationalities, have a lot of different traits to us. I also worked in Finland where I found out you were often presented with a stony silence during meetings and presentations, I thought I had crashed and burnt, it took me time to realize this was actually a good thing, they would speak only when unhappy. I have found the Dutch very friendly and passionate people, they can also be very arrogant, stubborn and straight talking but will show this usually on when on the edge. The remaining time they can be reserved and calm externally but fuming inside.

Marinus can come across as a solitary figure on match day

Marinus can come across as a solitary figure on match day

Like Warbs was different to Uwe, Marinus is different to Warbs. Different people, different traits. I recall it was usually David Weir laying into the officials and not Warbs, now I notice its Marinus who sounds off to the officials. Warbs drove his team from the side, Marinus takes a more statuesque role – that’s his way. Warbs liked a suit, Marinus is a clear tracksuit man. I don’t think he doesn’t care about what’s going on the pitch, he just has his own way of dealing with it, possibly that is in the dressing room. The fact he is not screaming and gesticulating shouldn’t be taken as a weakness, I think we just have to adjust to a man from a different culture which can be seen as laid back but is a likely as passionate and caring as he can be in his own way.

It’s only natural that people will compare Marinus to Warbs and how we play now to how we played last season. But this is now and not then. Let’s be honest against Reading we could have been 4 or 5 down at half time. But that happened last season as well. We rode our luck big time last season. How many times did we hear the ‘we’ll learn from it’ comment from Warbs.

I recall some saying ‘yes but when will we learn’. Don’t get me wrong I loved the way we played last season, but I also remember the howls of anguish of how risky we were playing out from the back, how open we were at times in our play. My good friend an Ipswich Town ST holder commented that we were a side with suicidal tendencies.

As we often saw if we didn’t score first we struggled to break teams down. Our strength was the counter attack as teams pushed to recover from being behind to us. High tempo, close passing, pass and move. It was wonderful but it all hinged on taking our chances because we were just as likely to ship two or three ourselves. Teams that did their homework knew how to spoil our game and we all know what Warbs approach to ‘plan B’ was.

Had Warbs stayed would he have changed our style this season? Would teams now we are in the second season syndrome know exactly what to expect and nullified our slick passing game? I didn’t want Warbs to go, I liked him – I liked him a lot, I would have liked him to take a chance on the owner’s new approach but that wasn’t ever going to happen. He moved on and so must we. But let’s give the new man some credit, he will change formation, he will make the substitution we may not expect, he does have a plan B and C.

Warbs - had success, even if no Plan B, at Griffin Park

Warbs – had success, even if no Plan B, at Griffin Park

We all know Warbs view was the ‘on the hour sub’, and usually always the same 3 subs. Marinus has had to juggle his pack given the limited resources to hand and until he has a full complement of resources how can we be sure of what he can do with them. No one wanted this start to the season, but given all that has happened how can we panic so soon until the team is again at the strength that was planned? Was our expectation too high from too many who have only known success of the last 3 years?

I hear the voices of those who have concerns but some of these fans have only known good times over the last 6 years or so, some even less than that. They crave instant gratification and expect we now have a divine right to be top of the league marching to the Promised Land because we came 5th, so now is our turn for automatic promotion! Maybe the disquiet comes amongst the ranks because we expected to keep every member of the squad and only add even better players to that squad.

Life and football, unfortunately is not like that, sometime you have to go back to go forward. Many of us remember the times of 4000-5000 attendances and the dodgy signings and dodgy managers and false hope and promises. We are a million miles from where we were then. Even at this current state of flux we are better off and we must never forget that or how and who got us here.

I heard people say Reading were a ‘poor side’ – I actually felt they were a lot better than last season, stronger at the back, quicker and slicker up front, they signed 11 players changed their squad and are unbeaten. They struggled last season, but so did Brighton and look at them now. We have to accept other teams will improve from last year and others will do worse it’s the nature of the Championship the toughest league to get out of. Just because we have not hit out straps from the start does not mean we are going to do a Blackpool. What right do we have after a mere 1 season and 4 games to be top?

Reading  - terrible kit; good team

Reading – terrible kit; good team

We need to allow the new team, players and management alike, to get to grips to the challenge ahead they are not blind to what needs to be done and we have to stop thinking about last year and stop thinking we are a slippery slope to disaster because we have not started like a train. I am a pessimist and even I believe the glass is half full.

The way some seem to see it the pub is dry let alone the glass! We were going to strengthen this season no matter what but I was always clear in my mind this would be a year of consolidation on our goal to long term sustainability. I would have settled for staying up last year, and would do the same this year as we rebuild. I feel the pain too readily of the last relegation at this level and I don’t want to feel it again. But those times were under a different leadership, different perspective and with a different end game.

Yes we should be aiming as high as possible and never accepting second best, aiming to be better year on year but we also need to do that in a measured way. We over achieved last year in my view, only the fate of others in the last weeks got us into the play offs and it hurts me to say but we were not good enough to go up. I forecasted openly before the end of the season that 5 or 6 players would leave (not including the obvious loan and 1 year contract boys).

I was right on a couple of names in Tony Craig and Dougie but didn’t foresee some of other players going, but was pragmatic enough to know we were never going to keep everyone and it was likely some big assets would be amongst those to move on. Berating the owner and club for the fact some on the team have moved on is nonsensical. Do people really believe Mr. Benham would invest in everything he has done so far just to reap the rewards in the transfer market? People need to understand the current stupidity of the English transfer market which dictates why you have to look at foreign players with lower cost implications for the next rising talent.

Selling Andre was a no brainer at 9 million for me, he could have been the next injury victim and then where would we have been? Look at B’muff, 8 million for Tyrone Mings, now he is out all season, Ipswich are the ones who truly benefited and got a good replacement for minimal outlay. We also need to be clear and understand as supporters that as much as we have great loyalty to our club the likes of Kevin O’Connor are a thing of the past now – players will do what’s right for them and their future in what is a short career. We always say once a Bee always a Bee – but can Moses (or even Andre) ever truly have a level of loyalty after just one season.

Personally I am relatively happy with the influx of new players – ok they may not be all home grown, but go review most Championship sides and you will find plenty of non-home grown players in their squads. We have to find the next ‘star’ by looking outside of these shores due to the costs demanded of quality English players, it is about finding that ‘star’ before someone else does. I like the current new boys, I believe they all have something to offer and once they have settled I am sure things will click and players who are being berated currently will ultimately prove to be of great benefit.

Some may not make it we have to accept that but plenty will. It was interesting to see much being made of the signing of Ryan Woods – “at last an English player” was one comment I saw. I retorted that as long as he can do the job, gives 100% and wears the shirt with pride does his nationality matter? It was mentioned back to me the importance of an Englishman who knew the nature of our game…and who speaks the language. I have no doubt Ryan is an excellent signing, I am excited about him joining but the lad no matter how good he is has league 1 and 2 experience to date, the pace of Championship football is vastly different as those who have come from overseas are finding. I just hope we are not thrusting too much expectation from day one because he is English.

Ryan Woods  - now a Bee, regardless of nationality

Ryan Woods – now a Bee, regardless of nationality

The comment about the pace of the Championship and someone speaking English was I thought interesting. I made an assumption that the correspondent was openly taking a pop at KK – who to be fair has loads of energy but still needs to find his feet. I have seen enough to think he will make the grade. But let’s also be honest and say he was surely going to be a backup midfielder to McEachran. If KK was the player being targeted to be replaced by our English style midfielder let’s not forget Toums was at the heart of the team versus Reading, someone to has played in England for many seasons with plenty of experience of both Championship and League 1, who speaks English perfectly yet was totally off the pace and looked out of his depth.

I think Toums has looked a shadow of the player he was last season, someone commented to me he was back to his pre-Portsmouth loan form, I had to agree. Some said he was missing Dougie, to me he looks to have lost confidence and his composure on the ball – can this be because Douglas has gone, if so I think that a weak excuse, he should be stepping up and being the most experienced on the pitch taking the lead. I thought his removal was the right thing to do, too often he was in no man’s land and Macca gave us a better bite and tenacity.

Talking of Dougie, and I know there are many who point to a void now he has gone, I refer back to my Ipswich Town friend, who has now watched all the games in which he has played for his new club – his view was “what exactly does he do, beyond being slow” – the ground swell is there is Jay Tabb is losing out to Dougie and some locals are not happy!

No one in their right mind can feel happy with the way things have panned out that’s for sure, and that surely includes Matthew Benham and the management of the club. Football as we all know is about opinions and it is everyone’s right to voice their view how they feel they wish. I can remember many years back feeling the wroth of those who stood around me on the New Road terrace (as it was then) as we disagreed with tactics, players and the management of the time. So much so that in the end I chose to view home matches from elsewhere, in the process losing touch with many I had shared space with week in week out for many years. We were each entitled to our views but did it really change anything?

Older and wiser I know now the only thing divided support does is, especially in a small ground such as ours, is transmit the divided views and nervousness of the support or lack of it on to the pitch and to the players. Many have quite rightly voiced their frustrations and anger over the performance against Reading – which needs no further elaboration on.

However the excellent overview from the chairman and the calls from Skipper Jake Bidwell for unity along with the comments from Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen all surely need to be heeded. Much was made last season about the atmosphere at Griffin Park and how it helped the players. This I feel has been sadly missing in both our home league games, split opinions of the fans can only be prevent this atmosphere from being generated. Fans are turning on fans, many are quick to damn the new players, the coach, management and owner.

I stood in the hive having a beer over hearing so much negative clap trap I wondered if this was possibly the same club as last year. Had we transferred in moaning fans from another west London club? Yes, we are all entitled to an opinion but for heaven’s sake this is really achieving nothing, when it’s not running your way the team need us to lift them. Negativity spreads and it’s spreading throughout the club like a virus. I’ll be honest my days amongst the singing section are long past, but when we are up against it, no matter how bad we have played I believe those playing for the club need our undivided support from all sides, no matter how we chose to deliver it.

Now is the time for us to remember where we have come from in such a short period, and that this is about the longer sustainability for our club. We could go the QPR route and break the rules and throw good money after bad. Or we can follow a different path and try and find a different route to success within our means. Then again we could lose our benefactor and slowly slip into the abyss of the lower leagues and go backwards again. I don’t know him but I am pretty sure I know which way Matthew wants to take us and for that I give him, the management, Marinus and our squad my faith and belief that they will do everything possible without risking our club’s future to deliver that success we all desire.

C’mon you Bees!

Brentford into the Woods as Jim White goes ‘Wolf’ on deadline day

2 Sep

The transfer window has ‘slammed shut’ and with it Brentford fans can breathe a sigh of relief. After a summer that has seen several big name departures and as many other rumours, we now know the make up of the squad. There was no David Button to Aston Villa (one of those heavily touted at various points in pre-season) or James Tarkowski to Fulham. Instead, we have only strengthened further, with the addition of Ryan Woods from Shrewsbury Town.

Joining Brentford for an undisclosed fee (although one believed to be in the £1million ball park) Ryan is described as a versatile player who has played right back, right midfield and even left back. He helped Shrewsbury gain promotion to League One last season and, on the way, was named in the PFA divisional team of the year. Such is his stature, even West Ham put in a couple of bids during the previous window although the Bees have been the ultimate beneficiaries.

Ryan – welcome to Griffin Park. Just take care on the training ground. After that previous business with twigs, more woods are the last thing we need !

Ryan Woods adopts that all too familiar pose

Ryan Woods adopts that all too familiar pose

We all know the deadline day routine by now. Jim White getting over excited in the Sky Sports studio, roving reporters doing their thing at stadia and training grounds all over the land, Natalie Sawyer helping see us over the line and Brentford fans sitting on the edge of their seats long into the night in the hope that nobody leaves.

Jim didn’t let us down and even seemed be channeling the spirit of Wolf out of the Gladiators as the window eventually came to a close. However, that was about it for familiarity.

Natalie was again missing for the final bow whilst the absence of WKD fuelled youths, banned after the dildogate affair 12 months previous, gave an almost ethereal quality to the reports flying in from empty stadiums. Thankfully, we were saved five hours of nail chewing with the decision made to stop proceedings at 6pm rather than nearer 11pm as is usual. And even better, nobody left Griffin Park.

Jim White had a new co-host as the window 'slammed shut'

Jim White had a new co-host as the window ‘slammed shut’

Given some of the other rumours that had been circulating pre-season, it would have come as no surprise had anybody else joined the likes of Andre Gray, Stuart Dallas or Moses Odubajo in leaving. For me, the fact that we have retained David Button is only excellent news. He has already had a standout start to the season following on from an excellent campaign last time out.

Likewise, with Andreas Bjelland already ruled out, hanging on to the likes of James Tarkowski and Harlee Dean was essential. We’ve done this and with the addition of Ryan, along with Marco Djuricin and Sergi Canos, there are suddenly a host of additional options going forward. Now it’s over to Marinus to see how he can use these to best effect.

The jury remains out for now on whether selling Moses, Stuart and Andre for around £12m will remain shrewd business or a fatal mistake. The fact of the matter is that they have gone and, much as I was desperate to hang on to Andre especially, there’s nothing we can do about it.

Indeed, the ‘in’ door has been a lot busier at Griffin Park over the summer with 12 players joining Brentford compared to the 6 (see also: Tony Craig, Jonathan Douglas and Will Grigg) who have been released or sold.

Have the club ‘over tinkered’ with a settled team? Has the ‘so called’ statistical model played much of a role (good or bad)? Will the new look squad gel to become even better than ever before? Most importantly, will supporters now give Marinus and the new system a bit of breathing space?

At 4 points from 4 games, we are only one ‘worse’ off than last season, when Warbs had us on 5 at this juncture. My main hope is that Marinus has us try to play football. Win or lose, Warbs certainly knew the way to goal.

I’ve got no major worries about the recruitment policy if it gets results. But I’d love to see the Bees start to find the back of the net. And you can only do that by going forward.

Still. The tools are now in place. We await what happens next with extreme interest.

Nick Bruzon

Is this another day at the beach as rumours persist?

6 Aug

Another day, another Brentford related transfer rumour with nothing but questions. Did Hull City really put in a £9million bid to for Andre and Moses? Are the club going to ‘politely decline’ if so? And does Hull have a beach?

The respective answers are. Quite probably to the pair of bids. We already know Moses has had his contract clause activated (but that is it) whilst Andre has already been the subject of a comedy enquiry to which Marinus has categorically denied any desire or need to sell. So for Hull ‘to go again’ with an increased bid is the next logical step although whether that has actually happened or not remains to be seen .

The source of these rumours, our beloved local press, would happily report a free transfer in a packet of cereal if it meant a headline. That’s just the nature of the Internet and social media these days. I’m not surprised these stories keep on being pushed around and I’m sure that agents have nothing to do with it.

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 con

book 3 and 4 cover

Its all about the kit, man. And the Bees.

tinue 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 ! 

 

 

Nick Bruzon

Is this really the end of the line for Dougie ?

22 Jul

Is the Brentford beard club going to lose its most famous member? In a move akin to Stevie G departing Liverpool, TW8 reacted to reports that Jonathan Douglas seems to have been declared surplus to requirements for the coming season and can leave the club. This, despite having a year left on his contract. And over in Gibraltar, local Champions Lincoln Red Imps hosted Matthew Benham’s other team, FC Midtjylland, for the second leg of their Champions League second qualifying round.

But first, Dougie. A seemingly nailed on selection under Mark Warburton, his time at Brentford looks as though it has come to an end.

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 !