Tag Archives: Toumani Diagouraga

How times change. What a way to end the year.

30 Dec

How times change. The last time Brentford played Sheffield Wednesday (September’s game at Hillsborough) we came back on the wrong end of a 2-1 defeat and ended the night sitting in the bottom 3 of the Championship table. Our hosts meanwhile, using the victory to climb into the play off zone. The Bees had acquired a mere 3 points from the opening 7(seven) games as we struggled to adjust to that triple sale of Jota, Harlee and Maxime Colin to Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham City. It was a period that even saw the statistical horror of Dean Smith having picked up less points than Marinus Dijkhuizen (8) at the same stage of the 2015/16 season. Things weren’t pretty. Moreso given our subsequent game with Reading which saw an early lead squandered in a tame draw that kept the Bees in the basement – only Bolton and Birmingham below them.

That was then. This is now. Suddenly, things clicked. Dean got his boys firing and the Championship is a much brighter looking place. A win today against the now managerless Owls could see us move to within 4 points of the play-off zone. Confidence is high following a run of just 2 defeats in our last 17 league games. Moreso, coming off the back of successive wins at Norwich (Oh, Romaine Sawyers. I’m still dreaming of THAT pass) and the Boxing Day knockout of Aston Villa.

Will who now? Sergi was on fire agasint Villa, despite the torrential downpour

Will who, now? Sergi was on fire against Villa, despite the torrential rain

That one in particular, as satisfying for the way we outplayed our opponents as much as the sour grapes (before and after) from manager Steve Bruce aswell as the self-entitlement from an element of the Villa fans.

Yes. You used to be good. You did win something, once. But that was then and this is now. Brentford are the progressive club, adapting to their circumstances. The likes of Villa, Birmingham and, to a lesser extent today’s visitors, amongst those who have experienced the good times and now finding things much tougher to adjust to when the boot is on the other foot.

We went into the Christmas period off the back of that awful draw with Barnsley. The 0-0 at Griffin Park was not a good game in any respect. That said, it WAS another point. The table doesn’t lie (whatever you may hear from much wiser people than yours truly) and we are where we are for a reason. Despite some wonderful play when we are on fire, failure to punish slack opposition or hang on to leads HAS hurt us.

Yet, at the same time, despite continued sales over the last few years (and some very tasty acquisitions, it must also be said) we have this wonderful knack of building team spirit and a squad which can more than compete on its day. We already have Emiliano Marcondes to come in, Lewis Macleod inching his way back into the team and Alan Judge on the bench following a 16 month recovery from that horrific leg break. There’s even the prospect of Konstantin Kerschbaumer to make a Toumani Diagouraga-esque second coming after a period out on loan. One has to live in hope…..

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Could we see scenes like this once more?

So I go into the game today fuelled with optimism. Excitement approaching peak levels. I have to be honest, I didn’t see us ending the calendar year like this after that Reading result back in mid-September. Yet now we are in a position where Brentford are the ones with a tentative glance being made towards the upper reaches of the table. With a squad that have picked themselves up after a shaky start to show some quite wonderful form. And with big spending Birmingham City now nailed to the bottom of the table. Barring a statistical miracle today, they’ll end the year in the relegation zone.

We may have lost Jota and Maxime. Harlee may think his new squad is ten times better than that which made the play offs under Mark Warburton. But I know where I’d rather be right now. A chance to go in to the top ten of the Championship with the right result and then a home FA Cup tie next weekend.

No doubt Sheffield Wednesday will be out to stop us in our tracks. The Owls will have more than a point to prove and, let’s not forget, caretaker boss Lee Bullen saw his team romp to a 3-0 win at Nottingham Forest last time out. This is by no means the stroll in the park that recent form may suggest. Brentford can do it today, no doubt. But blind optimism can be a dangerous thing if you are expecting a win – just look at Aston Villa. Dean and his team still need to be on their A-game.

Will we do it? Roll on 3pm to find out. See you there. I can’t wait for this one.

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More of the same from Boxing Day would be great. Apart from the rain

Nick Bruzon

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Has Harlee scored a huge own goal (or is he just talking b*llocks)? As for that cup draw….

27 Oct

It says something when the Haribo cup draw was only the second most nonsensical thing in the football world on Thursday. Harlee Dean, perhaps sore at missing out on this season’s Brentford captaincy to Nico Yennaris, has done some silly things in his time. Namely the ogs, suicidal back passes, red cards, woeful positioning and ‘going again’. But his motivational speech for Birmingham City prior to their forthcoming derby with Aston Villa has potentially topped the lot.

I’m not going to sit here and overly slag him off. His words generate their own, natural, reaction. Besides, despite the errors from somebody learning the game Harlee more than had his positive moments over six years at Griffin Park. Very much the unsung hero, he was one of my son’s favourite players (after Sam and Jota ). He is  also one of a very elite group – a Brentford player to score at Wembley – and, of course, would later help us to promotion. Let’s not forget our former captain is the current Bees player of the year. And now he is at Birmingham City.

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Harlee – heart on his sleeve.

Perhaps it is having to be content with a place on the bench that has triggered him to show some ‘passion’. To try and endear himself to a home side whose supporters must be frustrated at their current anti-form. Moreso, having spent huge amounts in the summer transfer window. To try and build some positivity at St. Andrews ahead of the Aston Villa game on Sunday lunchtime.

Anyway, there’s already enough flak out there for the player without me adding to it. This, after his claim that the current Birmingham City squad  – who still sit below the Bees in the table – is 10 (ten) times better than that which he himself was a part of when we finished fifth in the Championship under Mark Warburton.

His interview, which you can see below (and skip to about 1.20 to bypass the rest of the nonsense) , contains the gem:

“We’ve got quality in that squad. I’ve been in teams where we’ve finished fifth in this league and missed out on promotion by play offs. and this squad is ten times better than that. Its just about getting the balance right”.

On the one hand, a Brentford squad containing the likes of: David Button, Jake Bidwell, Number 26, Nico Yennaris, Sam Saunders, Moses Odubajo, Stuart Dallas, Alan Judge, Jon Toral, Jota, Alex Pritchard, Andre Gray, Scott Hogan. That’s before you add the experience provided by the likes of Dougie, Macca, King Kev and Toumani.

On the other, a Birmingham City squad whose record in the league since Harlee joined has been: LLLDWLWL. Five defeats out of eight. Including the 6-1 humping at Hull City and most recently a 2-0 loss at Millwall (although he was only part of the squad that day). Even we’ve beaten them this season !

Deluded? Desperate? Or just panicked? Looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights, the famous 1000 yard stare coming to the fore, was this simply a case of opening his mouth then engaging brain in order to fill dead air? Or just some misguided attempt to win over the fans before a game which will finish 1-1 (standard Aston Villa result).

One expects a player to back his new team. I’m not that naive. Yet this came over as a cheap dig and crass stupidity. Forgetful of his own past where, but for some of our own defensive errors at a time when Tony Craig was bizzarely kept out of the team, a squad that could well have reached the Premier League.

With Brentford travelling to Birmingham on Wednesday night, all he has done is further galvanise the already vocal Bees support ahead of that one. Dean Smith must be sitting back and chuckling at his own team talk having been delivered already. Don’t be surprised to see Nico given the captain’s armband in that one.

Nice one, Harlee. And thank you. For once I’m hoping you really have scored another own goal.

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Warbs’ squad. Apparently, a tenth of the talent as that now at Birmingham City

Back in the world of real football, the draw for the fifth round of the Haribo sponsored EFL cup look place yesterday. Eventually. In yet another publicity stunt masquerading as an ‘error’, the draw was massively delayed due to what was described as a twitter glitch. This, a competition, where previous draws have seen the live Facebook feed from Thailand (count the things already wrong with that sentence) mysteriously drop as Charlton were seemingly drawn against both Exeter AND Cheltenham. The confusion of round two with the three ball system.The third round taking place at 4.30am, from China. But not televised.

All of which has, coincidentally, got the drinks company name trending on social media. Something which once again happened yesterday before the draw would eventually take place over an hour after it was due to start. Who’d have thought it?

Yawn. Boycott.  I’m certainly not going to start buying their product now. Out of principal. And taste. If nothing else, they sponsor Reading.

Although perhaps, in retrospect, this is all Harlee is guilty of. Talking something up to get us publicising it. Let’s be honest, Birmingham City on a Wednesday night probably wouldn’t have been top of the list a month ago.

Now though… Things have just got very tasty. Unlike a certain soft drink.

Buzzette REd Bull

No C****** for this Bees fan. It’s Red Bull all the way

Nick Bruzon

Mark Burridge wins Twitter for the day as Brentford prepare for trip to Ipswich Town

3 Mar

Roll on Saturday. Brentford travel to Ipswich Town looking to make it three wins in a row whilst, at the same time, building on a ‘goals scored’ record that has seen us find the net 16 times in the last 6 games. The last of which saw that smile inducing hat trick from Jota (just think of it and tell me you aren’t still grinning). And those of you up early may have spotted something on Twitter from the midweek win for Newcastle United at Brighton, c/o of our commentator par excellence Mark Burridge.

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View from the Braemer – unadulterated joy from Jota and the team on Saturday

But we can only start with Brentford and Ipswich Town. Last season saw a 3-1 win for Brentford at Ipswich, in a game that was marred by Luke Hyam’s horrific lunge through Alan Judge. It was a foul subsequently defended by Tractorboy’s boss Mick McCarthy who, even given time to reflect , made no attempt to reconsider his opinion.

Hyam was shown a yellow for the assault on Judge which broke his leg, ruled him out of EURO 2016 and 11 months later still sees him nowhere close to a first team return. The Ipswich man was eventually shown a second yellow for going at Ryan Woods just before half time.

Dean Smith’s suggestion that he had been  “a bit naughty” and deserved straight red prompted a somewhat bizarre reply in which McCarthy noted, “I’m disappointed if he’s said that. I don’t think it is. I think he’s won the ball. I’ve actually complained to the referee as to why it’s a booking if he’s won the ball. I don’t think it’s naughty at all. That surprised me and disappoints me if he’s said that, but we all have opinions”.

Hyam hasn’t featured this time around but don’t expect anything different from Mick and his team. If not career threatening injuries, certainly a side who are robust in the challenge and have lost the form that has seen them threatening the play offs in previous campaigns. Instead, a squad that contains Jonathan Douglas and Toumani Diagouraga have seen their stock fall and sit below Brentford in the league table.

As for Brentford, there’s been more than a touch of Keegan-era Newcastle United about us in recent weeks. Dean’s return to picking a four man defence has seen goals aplenty, at both ends. Is kamikaze football better than the turgid possession game? Absolutely. Is it just a matter of time before the team re-adjust to both their ‘new’(traditional) system and new faces  such as Flo Jo and Sergi ? I have no doubt. Which of those two Dean starts with on Saturday will be tough choice but, like Justin Shaibu, the impact made from the bench by the Spaniard was clear for all to see.

Harlee Dean has flourished in recent months. He really has been indispensable, both at the back and going forward. He’ll be missed in his second game out following his tenth yellow, but it gives Andreas Bjelland  and John Egan a chance to really give Dean another selection headache. Along with Yoann Barbet, we really have been blessed with centre backs – the trick for Dean being which combination to pick and which players to sit alongside them.

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Suspension saw Harlee spending Saturday very much put of position

And there’s another thing. Rico Henry. He’s barely featured on these pages since, finally, making his debut in the 2-1 win up at Sheffield Wednesday. Rico, if you are reading (you aren’t) I can only apologise.  Commentators and supporters alike were left enthusing about his performance. Those who saw him in the flesh against Rotherham could only agree. Pace, skill, tricks and tackles. In abundance.

Tom Field has been magnificent at left back but Rico really has thrown down a gauntlet. In doing so, he has shown just why the statistical model has identified a second Dean Smith ex-player as one we should move for.

As for Romaine Sawyers, his killer ball through for the goal to complete Jota’s hat-trick showed just why our head coach must have been smiling when ‘the model’ threw up his name over the summer. Like Brentford, consistency has been the main problem here in a tricky first season but we’ve nobody who can split a defence like Romaine when he is on his A game.

Rotherham, like Sheffield Wednesday, saw him very much a fish out of water. The ‘false 9’ formation is not one that we’ve been overly comfortable with and Saturday was the archetypal example. A set up that looked good on paper pre kick off clearly wasn’t working and Dean Smith really should have rescued his man earlier.

As for the experts, the bookies see Brentford as 39/20 to win this one whilst ‘over 2.5 goals’ is evens. And for those of you with a penchant for curse of the ex-player (as so ably demonstrated by John Swift at Reading) Toumani is 15/2 to score at any time. Whilst the big man was only the bench last time out, football being football then surely that’s where the smart money is?

Calling the shots will be Mark Burridge, as ever. With travel chaos expected thanks to the rail service, could Beesplayer be the best place to catch up on the action? Whilst there is no substitute for being there, the thought of spending the afternoon with Mark and his team is a tempting one. If for no other reason than we can expect quick off the mark observations from our man at the mic.

Does he ever sleep? Is his attention permanently tuned in to all things Brentford and Greyhounds ? We alluded to an early morning social media spot at the start of the article and sure enough, Mark / Newcastle United delivered.

Nice one Mark . Here’s to more zingers on Saturday. And goals.

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Nick Bruzon

Sex, pies and audiotape (there’s no sex. or audio)

20 Apr

Like many Brentford fans, I was buzzing when I got home last night. A 2-1 win over Cardiff City had seen Scott Hogan add a further brace to Saturday’s last minute equaliser against Bristol City. The Bees had made it 13 points from 15 and the Last word, high on the delights of victory, had gone up early. Now it’s time to (apologies) go again as we round up the other bits and pieces from Tuesday.

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A fine win but what else happened ?

First up, Broadcast Moose. Anybody who read the post match article would have seen his comments about Russell Slade refusing to talk to him after the game. My gut reaction was that the Cardiff manager was exhibiting yet more of the sour grapes that he seems to have reserved for the Bees.

I’m pretty sure there was something mentioned about an FA Cup once whilst he was hardly full of praise when guesting on the Football League show that season. Mind you, if I’d been the victim of Manish repating the “Slade at Christmas” joke (wonderful once, woeful a second time) then I might feel a tad irritated.

Now, I’m not looking to defend Slade. Like Steve Evans, he cultivates a personality (at least, with fans) that is one of a bullish and outspoken manager. Reap what you sow. Behind closed doors he may be a lovely chap. I just don’t know, sadly. And I say sadly because I have it on good authority that at least one of Beesotted’s wonderful FA Cups made it into his direct ownership last season. Did he laugh, cry, store it up in the back of his mind? Who knows? But I digress.

Having cultivated this personality he’s there to be shot down and last night’s whine from Moose was, on the surface, such an opportunity .

Yet, Yet, Yet. Having slept on it , something doesn’t sit quite right.

I’m not too proud to admit I lay in bed last night, thinking about Russell Slade (and I hope to God my wife isn’t reading today). Or, more specifically, and probably even worse, Broadcast Moose. Hey, at least it wasn’t Jeff Stelling.

I may not know much about football’s inner workings but I do know that managers normally speak to the press and give some form of post-match conference. Sure enough, checking News Now he certainly appears to have spoken to journalists, with various pieces now online that detail his comments. For example, Sky Sports have quoted him as saying, “We lacked that clinical finish in the first half when we had total control. In the second we lost it a bit, they became a threat on the counter and we defended poorly”.

So what’s Moose’s beef? He was, as ever (yawn) banging on about the state of the catering during the game – a routine that is about as endearing as being forced to watch the season’s opener of ‘Football League Tonight on an infinite loop. Whilst Kelly and George have, thankfully, upped their game, Moose hasn’t changed the record.

But putting the pies to one side, what was really bugging me is  – why would Slade treat him like this?

Surely in the press area he’d have no choice but to answer the questions? Surely if one journalist had been singled out for a snubbing then this would have been more widely reported?

I don’t know what happened for sure – or where this contretemps actually took place. That, something Mr. Moose has failed to mention whilst making his quite provocative comments, including: “What a bad loser Russell Slade has become….,tonight point blank refused to do a post match interview….Mr Slade could only grunt no”

It takes a lot for me to think about Russell Slade as having the moral high ground but I’m just putting it out there for the sake of balance. Russell / Ian, if you are reading…..?

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Moose – at least he was happy about the pies

As for the rest of last night. Peter Gilham wins the award (should one exist) for moment of the evening, or at least half time, after exhibiting more of that deadpan brilliance for which he is so loved. Whilst talking about the opportunity for fans to get involved in the club’s social media, he mentions “Snapchat”, paused for a moment and then added, “Whatever that is.

Peter, I’m with you .

Toumani, He’s done it again. Again. After getting his second Leeds United goal at the weekend against Reading, least night he took his total to three, grabbing their second in a 2-1 win over Wolves. Whilst I was desperately sad to see Toumani go, I’m thrilled to bits for him that the floodgates are now opening. That said, I know I’m not alone in taking this ‘personally’ after such a long wait! Leeds fans must have now “been on the pitch” (metaphorically speaking) more times than the average episode of Dragon’s Den.

And finally, I couldn’t end without further mention of Scott Hogan. Or, specifically Matthew Benham and our head of medical, Neil Greig. Without their investment of faith in the player (not to mention financially or in terms of time) there’s no way we’d be celebrating his goal scoring prowess this week.

It would have been so easy to pay up his contract and let him go. Not Brentford. We’ve always treated our injured players well and boy is that being rewarded now.

Congratulations to Scott, of course. But huge thanks to Matthew and Neil.

Nick Bruzon

Honours for Alan and Andre as a star is born

18 Apr

Alan Judge. He may have been missing from Saturday’s draw with Bristol City but he was the centre of attention on Sunday as Brentford went head to head with Burnley and  Fulham to see which club would have the honour of their man being selected as ‘Championship player of the season’. With the Judge up against former Bee Andre Gray and Cottager Ross McCormack in the final three, the winner was announced on Sunday evening.

It was a tremendous honour for Alan even to be named in this group. From the outside looking in, Brentford have failed to match last seasons heights and limped into mid-table after losing huge swathes of that squad. We’ve had to rebuild the team (and the pitch) yet Alan has been consistently brilliant.

The leading number of assists in the division is matched with his being top scorer for the Bees. Selection for the Irish National team saw a very real chance of his playing in the Euro 2016 finals, until that awful leg break suffered last weekend.

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Would Alan run off with the award?

His being shortlisted for this award was fully deserved but, in the end, it was the goalscoring prowess of Andre Gray that was telling. Massive congratulations are due to Andre as he not only picked up where he left off last season but has gone even better with Burnley knocking on the door of the Premier League once more. Thanks in no small part to his ability in front of goal.

Hey, in part this award was earned at Griffin Park. Whilst his sale to Burnley seemed inevitable given all the talk over the summer, Andre did start the season as a Bee. Indeed, his two game cameo saw goals against Ipswich Town and Bristol City as Brentford made it 4 points from our opening 6.   The rest though, is history.

Well done Andre. Fully deserved and, I have no doubt, his career will only go on to bigger and better things. I can’t wait to see how he does in the top flight next season.

That said , there was still great news for Alan. Whilst he may have just missed out on ‘Championship player of the season’ he did make it in to ’ ‘Team of the Season’ . This new award names the 11 outstanding players (and a manager) across all three divisions of the Sky Bet Football League.

Just to show how tough this one was, only 6 of the 11 slots went to Championship players whilst fellow nominee Ross McCormack missed out on selection. Interestingly, the League website tells us that selection was made as “a national judging panel then chose the final Football Manager Team of the Season with Opta’s player statistics assisting”.

See? Stats aren’t all bad 🙂 And does this mean we’ll have our eyes on any of the below over the summer…..?

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The League team of the season

Ok. A few other things from the weekend. Firstly, Toumani. He’s only been with Leeds United for three months and now he’s scored again. Ironic enough he did it on his full debut after keeping us hanging for so long but to nab a second so soon is just rubbing salt into the wound. In the nicest possible sense.

Bob’s big giveaway, that ‘one-of-a-kind’ signed shirt, has officially rolled over to the Fulham game. Nobody picked ‘Hogan,90’ against Bristol City and so we all have another chance to ‘go again’. Bob made the announcement on Twitter after the game although what method he has up his sleeve to find this a home is, as yet, unknown….

And finally, everybody’s favourite club feature, Terrace Talk, was back. With a new host. Don’t panic, Jo Tilley isn’t on gardening leave but due to her role at the Fan Zone, video content manager Sean Ridley stood in as a one-off host.

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For one night only….

As the regular reader will know, I love Jo’s work on Terrace Talk but having seen this,  all I can say is…Wow!!

Was there genuine panic in her voice at the end when she told our host, “Don’t steal my job” before he went chasing a duck (literally rather than metaphorically). Whilst I can’t really comment on the quality, or lack of, amongst some of the interviewees, could Sean have found a new role for himself? Or are we just lucky enough to have not one but two roving reporters who would give Clem a run for his money?

On Tuesday night against Cardiff City, we find out.

Nick Bruzon

Who will come out on top as Brentford and QPR meet again?

12 Mar

Shepherds Bush. Home of the hell on earth that is Westfield. Currently closed music venue The Empire. That now defunct Australian pub. Oh, and also to our near neighbours QPR.

And, for one afternoon , it will also be full of the Brentford faithful. The time has finally come to take the short trip up the road for a West London derby that sees the Bees aiming to make it 6 points out of 6 against the Loftus Road mob for this season. Our 1-0 win at Griffin Park in front of the Sky cameras at the end of October was a victory that secured Championship ‘manager of the month’ for Lee Carsley and has given us recent bragging rights. But can we do it again?

More importantly, can form go out of the window? Let’s hope so. The happy hoops have won 2 out of 3 and have only lost 2 in 10 whilst, for Brentford, it is a case of “Move along please. Nothing to see here”.

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An explosive encounter awaits

That game at Griffin Park earlier in the season was one in which Alan Judge and Toumani Diagouraga shone as they bossed the midfield. The Judge has maintained his imperious form, managing to notch up 14 goals along the way and put himself in pole position for Euro 2016 selection this summer. Toumani, of course, is now at Leeds United but in his place we have the potential return of Alan McCormack.

Looking through social media and reading the player’s comments themselves, here is somebody who has the feel of what this game means. There’ll probably be some form of mini meltdown from certain quarters if Macca doesn’t feature today – such is the respect he commands and the physical presence of a man who has become somewhat of an icon for the Griffin Park faithful with his ‘take no prisoners’ approach’ .

Then again, we could play John Swift in goal with Harlee Dean up front and nobody would care if it meant getting on the 237 home with all three points in our back pocket. For all that we have our favourites and those players whom, being honest, we might not have on our teamsheet, today is all about backing the Bees together.

Whoever is picked, in whatever position, the most important thing is doing the double over our rivals after that wonderful night in October.

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October at Griffin Park – Brentford beat QPR 1-0

As for the most influential man on the pitch, our referee is Fred Graham. Whatever you may think of the man in the middle, Brentford’s own king of stats tells me that, “For all the ‘need a sign’ merchants there’s this… Ref fact: No team that begins with the letter ‘B’ has lost when Mr Graham has refereed this season.”

There’ll be close to 3000 visiting supporters crammed into the limited capacity of the Loftus Road away end. Rest assured , that although half the size of what we’ve taken to Fulham (due to ticketing allocation) we’ll be just as noisy. People just seem so up for this one.

For those who can’t make it, there is always Bees Player. Mark Burridge, ably assisted by Ciaran Brett, is the man to guide you through the 90 minutes of action.

I’ve said it before but Mark and Ciaran are fast becoming by favourite commentary matchup since the halcyon days of Billy Reeves and Chris Wickham forming their ‘axis of excitement’. The likes of Natalie Sawyer and Luis Melville are gone, but not forgotten, whilst recent co-pundit of football Mark Chapman seems to have hung up his microphone. However, whilst they all brought their own unique insight to the seat, an unfettered Ciaran is going a long way to standing out as a very intelligent co-host.

Whichever you follow the action today – at the ground, on BBC digital radio with Phil Parry & Billy Reeves (switching to all platforms at FT) via TV , the Internet or ‘Player’  – there are sure to be voluminous amounts of Bees desperately urging their team on to a repeat of October.

I’m surprisingly optimistic about this one though. Forget the current form or a hard fought 1-0, I’ve got a feeling there’s another ‘Fulham away’ coming up. How good would that be?

See you there.

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could we do this again in the ‘away’ derby?

Nick Bruzon

Exclusive. Big Reveal. Huge Announcement – we go again today

10 Mar

As marketing strategies go, it would be fair to say that the team at Beesotted have certainly hit a winner. Brentford fans are sure to be standing by social media and other sources after yesterday’s announcement about a major exclusive hasn’t, quite, been fulfilled. Yet. With the Beesotted team assuring us it should now come today (Thursday) could we go into the QPR game at the weekend with a renewed spring in our step?

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Here was the lead – who will be left with ‘egg on face’?

Bees supporters have been on baited breath as to what could be coming next. Dave, Jon, Billy (Grant, not Reeves) and the team are normally bang on the money when it comes to breaking news.

This, unlike the scattergun approach of the local press who seem to have a two-fold approach of: a) throw enough rumours and exclusives around that, eventually, one may transpire to be true and b) break down each line of an interview into a standalone flabby ‘exclusive’ about nothing more than the fact that Dean Smith is hoping things have improved on the training ground or Harlee/Sergi/Sam/Nico (delete as applicable) is hoping the boys will pick themselves up and ‘go again’.

So when Beesotted make an announcement such as this, people really should take notice and standby for what comes next. At a time when Brentford ‘official’ seems to have the reaction speed of John Terry piloting a turning oil tanker (i.e. very slow) – see ‘Toumani Diagouraga to Leeds, when his picture in their tracksuit was all over social media for two days prior to the ‘news’ being ‘revealed’ – could Billy and his crew have beaten them to the punch once more?

That said, the delay on this ‘reveal’ has been one that has resulted in a lot of good natured banter – both directed to and returned in bucketlaods by the chaps over at Beesotted Towers. You can see the full set of comments on their Twitter page but, for me, highlights included:

@BeesBanter: When its finally published we’ll celebrate like we’ve won the cup

@TinpotGamer: Looks like you lacked character and commitment out there today. Presumably you will go again.

@olde_coalface: Monorail? (kids, ask your dads)

There’s plenty more out there and, most importantly, going both ways. At a time when a lot of people are seeing nothing but doom and gloom, how refreshing to be reminded that there is still a sense of humour alive and kicking amongst the Brentford family.

What better way to head into Saturday’s 237 derby with QPR than in such high spirits! And if, or rather when, this story is revealed, I have no doubt it’s going to be up there with the best that Beesotted have given us in the past.

Today could be very interesting indeed.

Twitter comms re news

Just a smattering of the good humour on display

Nick Bruzon

Time for a few people to man up ?

9 Mar

Well that couldn’t have worked out much worse for Brentford last night had we tried. With the Bees game at Hull City P-P due to the Tigers’ FA Cup commitments, all we could do was sit back and watch as Rotherham United beat Middlesbrough, Charlton and MK Dons picked up a point in their own relegation choke off and the gap to the bottom three closed to eight points . Over in West London rivals QPR beat play off bound Derby County to make further ground over the Bees and put them in good spirit for the weekend. Hey, at least Fulham lost at home to table topping Burnley.

Ah, table topping Burnley for whom Andre Gray did it again. The division’s leading scorer grabbed the winner for the Clarets, taking his own personal total to 22 for the season and showing the Bees just what we’ve missed out on. With James Tarkowski also on the bench last night, don’t under estimate just how strong we were last season and what the consequences of our chosen transfer policy have been on the pitch.

Andre Gray for 3-0

View from the terrace – Andre used to get goals for us

We didn’t punch above our weight then but deserved what we got. On merit. The same can be said for this season where a succession of head coaches and multiple high profile departures (who have largely, on the evidence so far, been poorly replaced) has seen us sliding down the table with a series of woeful performances over 2016.

This calendar year alone has seen us lose 8 out of the 11 ‘competitive’ games we’ve featured in, although there was nothing competitive about the performances at Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton or home to Walsall and Charlton. As for the Burnley game, had it been a boxing match then the referee would have stopped it by halftime for Brentford’s own safety.

With Rotherham winning three games in a row and Charlton making it 4 points out of 6, is safety still the guaranteed position that we’ve been taking for granted as our form has continued to fall apart ? 5 defeats out of the last 6 in the league could easily become 6 out of 7, and then a potential 5 points off relegation, if we don’t pull our fingers out. And fast.

Short of Alan McCormack (just back from fitness) and Scott Hogan (surely far too soon) Dean Smith has tried just about every combination of players available to him. So what does he do and, more importantly, how does he motivate? One would presume Macca will be brought in for QPR to add some steel and experience to our midfield but, other than that, the team has no choice but to pick itself. The only question being who fills the role of ineffectual striker – Hofmann, Djuricin or Vibe. And I’m sorry but with only 12 goals in 2016 and Alan Judge miles out in front as our leading scorer, it IS a serious concern .

Look, I don’t want to be over critical. I want to enjoy the derby on Saturday and a win at Loftus Road but this is now the time for Phil, Rasmus and Dean to properly ‘man up’. They’ve selected these players and pick this team. There must be something about them that we just aren’t seeing a on a regular basis.

Is it the motivational factor behind closed doors? Is it a case of too many cooks? Is it the formation ? Is it the lack of experienced heads out there? Aside from Jake, Harlee, the Judge and David Button this is a new squad.

Or is it simply that no squad could cope with losing the likes Jota, Grigg, Gray, Odubajo, Dallas, Tarkowski. Diagouraga and even, dare I say it, Douglas?

Either way, something needs to change and fast. Otherwise, the Bees will find themselves sucked towards the relegation battle whether we think we’re too good for it or not . Personally, I think we’ll dodge it but I’d be a much happier man if we can get the win at QPR and start to put all this behind us.

Three points and Dean Smith will be the best thing since sliced bread (Warburtons?). Lose and in the eyes of many he could be toast.Longer term, of course, there are huge questions to be answered about recruitment – in and out. For now though, could we just all focus on the job at hand?

The 1-0 victory at Griffin Park was one of the highlights of the season. Oh, to be able to do it again on Saturday…

SWIFT Brentford QPR

October at Griffin Park – could we do it again ?

Nick Bruzon

No pressure, lads. This is one run that needs to continue

5 Mar

Charlton Athletic are the visitors to Griffin Park today and, on paper, surely Brentford couldn’t have picked their opponents better had we tried? The Addicks are on an absolutely woeful run of form that has seen them win only once in their last 18 games. That, a 4-1 victory against fellow relegation candidates Rotherham United. They’ve shipped 8 goals in their last three games alone whilst the miserable streak included successive 6-0 and 5-0 defeats at Hull City and Huddersfield Town respectively back in January.

So bad is their current run that even hapless Bolton Wanderers have overtaken them to leave Charlton rooted to the bottom of the Championship table and, seemingly, doomed. My online bookmaker has the Bees as odds-on favourites today whilst the ‘away’ win is a hefty 15/4. Surely there can be only one result: three points for Brentford?

Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s nothing more dangerous than a team staring down the barrel. Moreso, one which knows that should they lose today the gap to safety could be as much as ten points (plus a goal difference that would be deemed an insult to the word ‘goal’). Many of us thought last Saturday would be a ‘banker’. How wrong that turned out to be and I don’t expect any difference today.

We’ve no Max Colin whilst Dean Smith must decide whether to recall Yoann Barbet. It’s still too soon for Scott Hogan to be considered although the centre forward must be chomping at the bit to get back to action after so long out. He’ll have been heartened by his recent development squad goal and one can only assume the Griffin Park faithful will see him on the pitch before the season is out.

Much closer to a return is Alan McCormack. How the Bees have missed a player of both his savoir-faire and firmness in the challenge over these last few months. It’s all very well having a team of potential stars but how much better to have the likes of a Toumani or Macca alongside them in the midfield? You can’t put a price on experience and I’m as excited at his potential involvement as anything else today.

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Could Alan McCormack feature today?

Barring a statistical miracle/disaster (delete as applicable) Brentford’s season is over. At least, in terms of exiting the division. The top 6 are just too good whilst the bottom four look to be too far adrift. Whilst it would have been wonderful to push on from last campaign, to be lining up a third season in this division is still no bad thing at all when you look at where we have come from and, equally, what we’ve been through.

I just hope that rather than limp over the line, the lads give it their all. Aswell as today’s game, next Saturday sees the 237 derby as we head down the road for that most anticipated of encounters with the Loftus Road mob. Likewise, we’ve still got a home game with Fulham along with 9 other matches.

There’s plenty to play for, with finishing the season as top dogs in West London (at least from a Championship perspective now that Chelsea appear to have ditched their brief flirtation with relegation) at the top of that agenda for me. Likewise, a top ten finish would be something to be tremendously proud of and, from a personal note, my son (almost three) will be at the game today.

It’s been nothing but “Daddy Bees, Daddy Bees” , “Harlee“and “Buzz, Buzz” in our house this week whilst, from a statistical perspective, he’s never seen the Bees lose. All the mathematical models in the world count for nothing when you’ve got something as simple as a lucky shirt, a pair of magic pants or a child who’s never tasted the pain of a loss.

No pressure, lads. Please don’t end his run today. Explaining defeat could be as tricky a concept as the birds and the bees.

Hopefully both are conversations that will be a long time coming…

HB and HD

Harlee (and Buzz) very much favourites in our house

Nick Bruzon

From Manchester City fan to Brentford legend

3 Mar

Money can’t necessarily buy you success. Of course, at Brentford having the sort of finances available to the likes of the teams at the top end of the Premier League is just a pipe dream. Yet it made last night’s results all the more interesting as this most captivating of top flight seasons continued. Despite their mega-millions, Manchester City (at mid-table Liverpool) and Arsenal (hosting relegation candidates Swansea) both lost against opposition they’d have been expected, on paper, to breeze past.

The flip side to this is that when you are operating on a reduced budget, unearthing that game changing player is a truly joyful experience. And this is where Brentford come into the equation. The previous column looked at, amongst other things, the FourFourTwo magazine survey on your club’s ‘cult hero’ over the top four divisions.

It is genuinely a fascinating read (my own contribution aside) with the results, being published on-line now showing clubs A-M. Starting with Accrington Stanley, it has so far gone through Brentford, along with the aforementioned Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City to the point they had, at the time of writing, got as far as Morecambe.

So few of these players are the big money signings making the headlines today but each have their special place amongst the fans. And the reason for mentioing this again was, specifically, the chance to talk a bit more about Brentford. Or, rather, our own nominee – Gary Blissett.

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All time cult hero, Gary Blissett

Given the constraints of the Four FourTwo site, somebody like Bliss (not to mention those who ran him close when the question was put out there on Facebook last month) deserved more than the 100-150 words available. So here is the full, unexpurgated version.

Gary Blissett – cult hero

Where do you start when looking for a cult hero? For a team like Brentford, where the trophy cabinet is more an aspiration than anything else, most people outside of TW8 probably know us for the sort of thing that would make TV’s “What happened Next…?” rather than the record books.

Goalkeeper Chic Brodie having his career ended by a runaway dog. Millwall fans throwing a hand grenade onto the pitch (November 1965, for the record). The failed takeover bid by QPR that would have seen Brentford cease to exist and our bitterest rivals move into Griffin Park. Eight play-off defeats out of eight (the least successful of all English teams when reaching football’s ‘final four’).

Then, of course, there was ‘that penalty’ in the final minute of the final game of 2012/13. A winner takes all encounter with promotion rivals Doncaster Rovers.

Only one team could make it to the Championship and, with the scores locked at 0-0, the Bees were awarded a 90th minute spot kick. The subsequent tussle for the ball involving club captain Kevin O’Connor (approaching his 500th game), and Marcello Trotta (on loan from Fulham, of all places) is one as familiar as the Italian’s subsequent effort thudding off the crossbar and, with Bees players prostrate on the ground in despair, our opponents going down the other end where they scored to secure promotion and the title.

That’s how we do things at Griffin Park. Glorious failure being as familiar a taste as the pre-match hot dog. Yet when we do win things, it makes them all the sweeter. Every now and again it happens. And even when we don’t, we still have a lot of fun along the way. Thanks, largely, to those figures you’d label as Cult Heroes.

Big John O’Mara who, in his first season, scored 25 goals in 40 games. Centre back Peter Gelson, who made 471 appearances in a Griffin Park career that stretched from 1960 to 1975. The legendary Jim Towers and George Francis aka The Terrible Twins. Playing together for most of the 1950s, they still remain (respectively) the club’s first and second highest all time goal scorers.

Hard as nails players such as Terry Hurlock, Terry Evans and Martin Grainger.

Long serving players Jamie Bates and Kevin O’Connor.

The skilful wing wizards like Andy Sinton and Neil Smillie.

Those who just seemed to exude personality and had the crowd eating out of their hand – Allan Cockram, Lloyd Owusu and Marcus Gayle (just don’t sing that song near your granny).

Modern day heroes including Jota – the last minute goal being his own personal calling card. Toumani Diagouraga – “Toumani scores, we’re on the pitch” went the Ealing Road. He’d last done it in March 2013 and we had to sit through another 111 games without him troubling the scorers before he was sold to Leeds at the end of January. Less than 40 minutes into his full debut….

Or how about Sam Saunders? The perma-tanned wing wizard (and former tube worker) so beloved of fans that most would allow him to ‘have relations’ with their wives, if the terrace chant is to be believed.

But when it comes down to it, there can be only one winner. The moustachioed legend that is Gary Blissett. aka ‘Bliss’.

79 goals from 223 league appearances (105 from 291 total) in a 6 year career from 1987-1993 don’t even tell half the story. His brace against boyhood heroes Manchester City in the 1988-89 FA Cup fourth round sent Griffin Park into meltdown as the Bees earned a 3-1 passage into the fifth round. There, Bliss repeated the feat as his late pair at Blackburn Rovers helped Brentford to a deserved 2-0 win. Sadly it wasn’t to be in an Anfield quarter final as the Bees bowed out despite giving all-conquering Liverpool (kids, ask your dads) an almighty scare.

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Bliss does the business against his beloved Manchester City

His defining goal was probably the final game of the 91/92 season. With the Bees having won the previous five on the spin, including a 4-0 demolition of Fulham, we travelled to Peterborough knowing a win and some good fortune could make the impossible, possible.

Bliss was the man who popped up with a first half header as we then sat through an awful lot of ‘squeaky bum time’ for a famous 1-0 win. With other results going our way, including a shock defeat for a Birmingham City side that Saint & Greavsie had earlier congratulated on TV for winning the League, we snuck up the blind side and became Champions. Sometimes, it happens.

Gary was an ever present the following season as, despite the sale of strike partner Dean Holdsworth, his goals almost kept us in English football’s second tier.

But there was more to Gary than short shorts, a luxuriant ‘tache and goals, goals, goals.

A wannabe goalkeeper, he was the man who donned the gloves during a Championship game with Southend United after injury, and no spare on the bench, meant we got to enjoy that wonderful moment where an outfield player goes between the posts. Bliss promptly ignored every piece of advice being shouted to him by youth ‘keeper Ashley Bayes and kept a clean sheet.

But it was his red card at Craven Cottage after what we will politely call a ‘coming together’ with Fulham ‘keeper Jim Stannard that is a moment as popular with Bees’ fans as that goal at Peterborough. Bliss left the field to a standing ovation in a game that showed us the West London derby meant as much to the players as the supporters.

All the money in the bank can’t buy a player like Bliss. The £60,000 we paid Crewe back in 1987, even now, still seems like the bargain of the century.

Like Marcus Gayle and Allan Cockram, Bliss still visits Griffin Park. Catching up with him briefly in the week, he told me, “ I follow every game and after my beloved City Brentford are of course the team I want to see succeed more than any other team or club in the world.

I am sure MB will have Plan B, C, D and more and will one day be playing at The Ethiad IN THE LEAGUE

For those amongst us feeling slightly down about things on the pitch this year, these are surely words to put your trust in. If a demi-God such as Bliss believes, then that’s all the inspiration we need .

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Gary still features in the Junior Bees Top Trumps (style game)

Nick Bruzon