Tag Archives: TV

What’s brewing at Birmingham for Brentford? Will Bees’ keeper get stung on the Arse(nal)?

12 Sep

Brentford head to Birmingham City this lunchtime for a Championship opener sure to be overshadowed by transfer speculation. Number 26’s move back down South from Burnley to West Ham (they’re actually going to pay for somebody?) sure to reap us a healthy windfall should it happen. Elsewhere, the talk around David Raya to Arsenal shows no sign of abating, with his agent stoking the flames on that one. I don’t, now, expect him to play today with the answer to that one hidden in plain sight on Brentford ‘official’.

If yesterday morning’s piece was lacking the usual buzz about the season to come then the prospect of having a match today is making things feel slightly better. An early kick off on Sky sure to set the pulse raising when things get back under way in Birmingham at 12.30. 

Who starts for Brentford remains to be seen, of course.

David Raya  / Luke Daniels between the sticks is the big question. The answer is Luke Daniels. I call that specifically based on the match preview published yesterday by ‘official’. It notes that “Mads Roerslev will be absent due to a foot injury while David Raya has missed the last three matches with a knock”. Before also adding that “There are no tanks”. Possibly.

There you go. Forget the rumours – its injury. Having not played in weeks, and so presumably off the pre-season pace given this health related update, I’d be amazed if it is anyone but Luke Daniels who starts today. The club have made it quite clear they have no desire or need to sell Raya. His recent absence has been down to nothing more than a knock. Honestly! Who could think otherwise?

Look, I don’t know what’s actually going on here. Who does? Phil and Rasmus aside. Arsenal are involved in quite public dealings with Aston Villa to sell goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. Dean Smith being able to wield the chequebook is like watching a kid at Christmas. The smile on his face when Ollie Watkins walked in to the room was infectious. In a nice way. Will he get a new ‘keeper and thus add more smoke to the Raya rumours? Or will the club hold firm and show him that the Premier League, with Brentford, is the future. Oh to be a fly on the wall at Benham towers these days.

Whatever happens, happens. We don’t need or want to sell. If we do then it will be on our terms. Common sense dictates that Luke Daniels is our lunchtime starter and then we go from there. Wait for Raya to recover and then see if he is a Bee or a bookworm (because they play in a libra.. oh, why do I bother?). 

David Raya – still a Bee. For now.

On the plus side, all this has distracted from Benrahma talk. Nobody has mentioned his name for a good week or so. Move along. Nothing to see here. Again, I can’t see him starting against Birmingham or being involved in any capacity but we’ve more than enough in the squad to do the business today.

Hand on heart, I’m calling this as ‘away win’. There’s too much talent and too many memories of how last season played out to do anything less than looking to start at 100 mph. The BMW may have lost some constituent parts but it will still be pedal to the medal for our, ermm, MTC. That one needs a little work.

New season – different model rolling off the forecourt

The other transfer story doing there roads (Josh Clarke to Wigan aside) is the alleged move of number 26 to West Ham. We all know the terrible personal circumstances that led to him refusing to play against Burnley before suddenly signing for them. That’s happened and we can’t change it. Only remember. What is it with our ex-centre backs and their dealings with the press? Something something something ten times better…. 

But the plus side to this is, of course, the windfall we’ll receive should it go through. Whilst, personally, I take the majority of football rumours with a huge pinch of salt, the prospect of multi-millions was enough bait to make me click. Lancslive are clapping it could be as much as £8.5million to the Bees, given any sale  needs to factor in what they describe as a whopping “27.5 per cent sell-on fee to Brentford of any profit on the £3.5m the Clarets paid the Bees for the 27-year-old’s services in 2016. That means that should Tarkowski depart for £35m then Brentford could pocket more than £8.5m, cutting the Clarets profit to around £26.5m.” You can read the full piece here if you want.

Rasmus models his new look

Again, I’ve no idea how true any of this is / isn’t. The only thing we can say for certain is that Brentford are masters of the transfer market. Buy them cheap, sell them high, take a cut on anything in the future. It’s more than plausible we’re in line for further financial reward and, if so, reduces the need to make any hurried sales ourselves. In theory. Arsenal may need to add an extra nought on to their offer.

Still. All that’s to come. For now, it’s a case of Brentford v Birmingham City. Of taking your place on the couch. Chosing a lucky shirt and cracking open the goal sweets. And the beers. See you at lunchtime on social media and in front of the TV. 

And finally… e-book, season review etc etc. If you’d like to read more then you can still pick up 2019-20 for free, here. Time is ticking on this one so move fast before Amazon stick a price back on them (at which point any proceeds received go to the Community Sports Trust). From Birmingham City to Ollie Watkins and beyond….

Enjoy

New season – new lucky shirt

Nick Bruzon

Just what the doctor ordered? Possibly.

11 Sep

Ollie Watkins has gone. Aston Villa his new home. Brentford move on. What does the weekend promise….? Birmingham City. Birmingham City. Owned by a per… well, we don’t sing that one any more. Things have changed at the top of the club. Then again, we won’t be singing anything for a while. The Bees travel to St. Andrews tomorrow for a Championship opener which, save for our dozens of journalists, will be bereft of fans. Much like the conclusion to the previous campaign. 

There will be no fans an no noise this time around

Given the ever evolving advice about Corona Virus (and ‘advice’ is a word used in the loosest sense), one can’t see that changing anytime soon. Oh, good. More couch time at home watching the games on i-follow rather than nail biting away days to those far flung pubs that are visited once a year (subject to cup ties).  Just what the doctor ordered. And this one is on Sky, meaning that per my non-Sky sources, even the online service won’t work. Now TV, a pub or a social bubble are your options. Assuming we are still allowed to meet some of our friends this weekend? 

Anyway, the point being it promises to be a very different start to the season compared to normal. I can’t see anything significant changing any time soon, either. Talk of experiments at allowing fans into grounds seems diametrically opposed to the tighter rules about gathering that come in to play from Monday. It’s all a bit underwhelming now. Everybody well sick of this (no pun intended) and longing for the day we can do something as simple as attend a game of football with our friends. Dreams about filling Lionel Road nothing more than that in the short to mid term.

Cripes. I turn 50 next month. There had been a lot of thought about doing the Preston or Coventry games in style. Of going hell for leather with friends. Now, we’ll be lucky to watch it with more than six of us in the same room. On the plus side, it does make up for there fact I don’t actually have more than six friends who’d want to celebrate.

Anyway, We digress. I’m tired.The dawn of a new season is upon us and that should be an exciting time. There have to be some positives and, of course, there’s always light on the horizon. Benrahma and Raya are still Bees. Will either start / feature  for Brentford tomorrow? Is Luke Daniels our new skipper or will Pontus step straight back in to the team and exert control of the armband?  Can Ivan Toney fill the boots left empty by Ollie Watkins following his move to Aston Villa. Only Thomas Frank knows that one and whilst I can’t see anyway in for the mercurial Algerian, as much through his lack of participation in the pre-season games as any transfer related wrapping in cotton wool (“Hello? Matthew? It’s Dean Smith here…”).

That first team selection is, as we have said many times already, going to be telling. The window has a long way to run – October this year – and the cramped fixture list means we could be well into the campaign by the time our final squad is locked down. Then again, our  directors of Football have their heads screwed on. Time has more than proven that and so whilst it’s easy to panic, gritting teeth and trying to stay calm has to be the way forward. An infinitely tougher task for those of us on the outside looking in but that’s part of being a football fan. Especially at Brentford.

As for our opponents, they’ve got Aitor Karanka in charge and no longer have a number 22 shirt, having retired it after club icon17 year old (is that compulsory still?) Jude Bellingham moved to Borussia Dortmund. With the flair gone and the former Middlesbrough man at the helm, expect a more robust than ever approach from our hosts. Their squad may not be ten times better than it was last season but no doubt Harlee Dean, Maxime Colin, Josh McEachran (inj) and now Jon Toral will all have a point to prove. We’ve more old boys there than a school reunion. Even Aston Villa only have three (although the dream I had last night about Jota – get your minds out of the gutter – perhaps only two).

And Toral must score….

It should be super exciting. And to an extent it is. Yet it would be a lie to say this has the the overwhelming buzz of previous campaign launches. This is nothing to do with ‘that’ result at the W place in North London but more because it all feels so detached still. So disjointed. So close to being awesome yet, instead, we’re locked out of our new home with more of the same to follow. I-follow and Sky coverage ARE great but watching football on TV, being played out in front of empty seats, just doesn’t have the same allure as normal. 

Of course it doesn’t. Its an ersatz replacement but one which will hopefully line us up for when we do get the chance to return. Whenever that may be and however that may look. 

Once the table starts to take shape and the games begin then hopefully the usual positive feelings will return. A win on the road will be the perfect tonic. See you on the sofa for Saturday brunch.

And finally… e-book, season review etc etc. If you’d like to read more then you can pick them all up for free, here. Time is ticking on this one so move fast before Amazon stick a price back on them (at which point any proceeds received go to the Community Sports Trust). From Betinho to Ollie Watkins and beyond….

Nick Bruzon

New kit revealed as Tom wins the auction star prize.

29 Aug

And suddenly pre-season feels like it is upon us. Having already beaten Wayne Rooney’s Derby County (missed that one, oops) Brentford travel to the London Stadium this afternoon to take on West Ham United. The big questions there not being so much will we be in our new kit after it was finally released last night but more who will feature? This, after the reports linking all manner of clubs from Aston Villa to AC Milan with the likes of Ollie Watkins, Rico Henry and Said Benrahma show no signs of abating.

Yet, so far, the only transfer news of any real note has been incoming. Centre back Charlie Goode ( I can’t even begin to imagine what song will be sung for him) joining from Northampton Town. Their player of the year earning the Cobblers a club record fee when he moved to Lionel Road last month. With Pontus Jansson, Julian Jeanvier and Ethan Pinnock already on the books, before you even get to the B-team, does the mean the out door may be swinging soon? Moreso with talk of Ivan Toney refusing to go away although, so far, nothing concrete?

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He can move any mountain

Today’s game is unlikely to give that many clues even though we play Championship rivals Wycombe Wanderers in the league cup in just eight days time. The first competitive fixture to take place at Lionel Road after Griffin Park finally closed the gates yesterday. That final farewell tours coinciding with the conclusion of the ‘everything must go’ two day auction. Will Thomas Frank use this for experimentation or are we going to get significant clues as to what happens next? To see who his preferred line up will be? These games traditionally see huge swathes of substitutions and so I wouldn’t be reading too much into his team either way. Regardless of who starts or misses out.

Instead, with live stream from West Ham available via the Bees’ club site just prior to kick off, it’s more a chance to put your feet up and enjoy crowd free football once more. To get stressed because there’s no sign of Benrahma. To put 2 + 2 together when Ollie goes off / doesn’t come on – although hopefully come up with 5. With a fortnight until the league games start (Birmingham City away) I’m sure our Directors of football have it all in hand. Whatever that plan may be. 

The one thing we can be sure of is that whomever makes up the squad for the forthcoming season, we now know what they’ll be wearing. A day which began with yours truly marvelling over the new West Ham third kit – credit where due – ended with the same reaction towards our new away shirt. You’ve all seen the pictures by now, I am sure, after Brentford official dropped it onto Twitter with minimal fanfare in the early evening. The days of Mark Devlins’s six day strip tease in the build up nothing more than a distant memory. 

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A full house were present for the new kit launch

A dark grey affair with a mottled body and that glorious red trim. Simple but oh-so effective. I love it. The home version is much more of a traditional effort, featuring the return of stripes on the back and a lot of red on the arms and shoulders. Safe and steady although growing on me rapidly after having the early thunder stolen by the change kit.

Great job Umbro. Great work from Kitman Bob. Well worth the wait. The queue for the online shop when they went live suggesting he and the team have struck gold again. 

When I did get on, the loyalty points seem to have disappeared. Surely not? Or is it just user error ( the likely answer) and they have been moved to another part of the site? Certainly, the TAPs are still there on the ticketing side of things. Go figure. Although if somebody could help this technophobe find where they are, that would be appreciated.  

The other news yesterday was the end of the auction. With several items being understandably pulled for historical reasons there was still plenty of interest for those with deep pockets (i.e. the turnstiles) aswell as all manner of other things available. Everything from prints and pictures to signs, boards, laminated menus and trophies was up for sale. If it could be unscrewed from Griffin Park, you could buy it. Not to mention more than enough kits from days gone by. Any loitering on the site from yours truly was purely for research purposes, although one or two gaps may have been plugged.

I have to be honest, this didn’t sit overly well with me at first. Some of the items seemed to be way too close to the historical bone to be up for sale and it’s great that things such as gifts form other clubs and stadium designs were withdrawn. Likewise things such as the certificate of thanks for the poppy donation remained. Would it have been that hard to discreetly file it had we not wanted something of this nature? 

Yet, equally, much of this would only have ended up in a skip and so the fans have been given a chance to take a bit of Griffin Park with them. It’s a delicate balancing act but some of the prices being paid show how much it meant for the chance to own a part of club history. Besides, it would be hypocritical to get overly hissy given the opportunity afforded to, and taken by, this kit nerd.

With any luck, many of the items that didn’t make it on to the site or which were later withdrawn may now get the chance to go on display. Somewhere. I’d love to take a look around a Brentford museum if one were ever to be created in or around Lionel Road. Perhaps exiting via a club shop… 😉  There’s a whole wealth of Brentford history and seeing so much of it, for the first time in places, was exciting stuff.

Yet whatever your thoughts, it brought us this moment. If for no other reason a reason to be thankful that the club chose to go down the auction route. Here’s hoping Tom wears his new ‘kit’ when we’re allowed in to Lionel Road.

 

Come on Brentford. Come on Sergi. The time is now !

4 Aug

Here we go. Tuesday is upon us. The biggest game in our history is a phrase that has been used many, many times before but with Brentford facing Fulham for a place in next season’s Premier League, perhaps it could actually be true this time. At least, if not in our history then certainly in living memory. The chance of returning to the top flight for the first time since that brief, war interrupted, spell from 1935-47 is one game away. Our most exciting team in recent times has the possibility to emulate what could be argued our greatest ever. 

Cripes. This is exciting. Ridiculously so. We all know about Brentford’s past form in the play-offs. An albatross around the neck that has now been removed. A beast of burden that has flown away with the move to Lionel Road. The Griffin Park gypsy curse has now been lifted. That’s not to say that victory is assured, of course, but at least we can start from fresh. Elephants in the room can be talked about and monkeys have jumped from our backs. The five semi-final and the three deciding game defeats nothing more than a historical footnote. We’ve tripped up as many times as there have been Fast And Furious movies (not counting 2019 spin-off: Hobbs And Shaw). Now, all jinxes have been reset. New ground, new Brentford.

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Lionel Road – the early years

Being quite honest, I AM confident. Not arrogantly so. We’re going to have to be on our best to win this. Just because we’ve beaten Fulham twice this season don’t mean a third time around is assured. But why not be positive? Why not believe in your team? That doesn’t make me a bad man. I’m going into this one on the up. Dreaming of what might be at the end of it. Celebrations. Excitement. Optimism. Just reward for what has been a season of some incredible football after a wobbly start. Seeing that incredible run-in, as Leeds Untied and West Brom were slowly reeled in, come to final fruition as we look to join them in the Premier League.

I’ve been to every play-off that Brentford have taken part in to date. Kevin Godfrey’s late equaliser against Tranmere. Kevin O’Connor scoring that first leg-penalty against Swindon. Trouncing Bristol City. There have been some highs. Not many, but some. Yet never quite getting over the line. No moment will surpass the semi-final defeat to Huddersfield Town on penalties. Quite possibly my lowest moment ever as a Bees’ fan – worse even than ‘that’ penalty.

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94-95. The all time kick in the nuts

These are mentioned for context aswell as positivity about the feelings that a win will engender. Nobody in this squad has survived even from the Middlesbrough semi at the start of Championship life, let alone further back. They are only looking forward. When it comes to tonight’s game, past results are nothing more than a historical curio known and experienced by those of us in our mid-thirties (and beyond).

The moment is approaching. I can’t wait for it all to start. The team will be in the special blue shirts (good news) and you can bet our flair players will love using the wide open spaces of Wembley to cause havoc down the flanks. And through the middle. Fulham have injury doubts over Mitrovic and Kabano but, at the end of the day (Clive) , it doesn’t matter who they start. This is purely down to us and how we play. Results over the season have proven that there isn’t a top six team that can stop us when we are on fire. Play like we’ve been doing and the momentum will be with us. The destruction of Swansea City last week showed that.

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Brentford are back in blue and white

Easy. On paper. In practice, who knows. At 7.45 we find out. We’d all love to be there. Are desperate to be there. SkyBet released the below film last night.

Yours truly was fortunate enough to be invited to take part and, being honest, it was quite emotional. A huge privilege being allowed back through the gates of Griffin Park to help out.

 

H came with me and is now buzzing under the belief that he is the last fan ever to step foot on the hallowed turf. Is he? Who knows? Personally, I’m taking inspiration from his shirt. The boy has a gift for calling games and he’s nothing but full of positive premonitions about tonight. Oh, if Sergi was to score the winner late on I think the roof would come off with the noise.

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Is this the ultimate good omen?

That’s all a long way off. I am confident, as noted, but it is with good reason. Confident because I know what our players can do. Confident because I know how driven Pontus Jansson is.  Confident because Thomas Frank has motivational powers unequalled by any previous Brentford manager (perhaps Martin Allen aside). Confident because if all else fails, we’ve still got ‘that’ whiteboard. 

Yet, at the same time, there are nerves at the moment. Perhaps as much due to the anticipation. To knowing how slowly the clock is going to be moving today as it inches towards kick-off time. Hoping we come out of the traps flying.

We took a family trip up to London yesterday. It was like a ghost town but still great fun. We came back via the river service from Westminster to Kew Gardens (always a great trip and about as Corona safe an outdoor activity as you can undertake). The boat went past both grounds  – Craven Cottage and Lionel Road – within the space of a few Peronis. We’re that close to each other. Near neighbours doing battle for the ultimate prize. 

Is it being knocked down, daddy?” asked H, looking at the cranes and bulldozers that lined our opponents three-sided ground. Let’s hope Fulham do, indeed, collapse tonight.

No pressure….

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H embracing his inner Bee at Kew

Nick Bruzon    

Time to say goodbye to our past. On and off the pitch.

29 Jul

Let’s. Do. This. Brentford stand 90 minutes away from Wembley and a shot at the Premier League. Swansea are the visitors on an evening that sees our last, last, last ever game at Griffin Park. Despite the build up of the regular campaign, it has been typical of life at Griffin Park that it has come to this one rather than the Barnsley fixture. And now we are here. Steve Cooper’s team standing in our way but the good news being that Rico Henry will be standing in theirs. This, after Keith Stroud’s reckless decision to award our man a straight red in the first leg was over-turned yesterday.

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The verdict was – great tackle

Finally. Something has gone our way. A frustrating few days for the players has ended with them being given a huge shot in the arm. Swansea have that narrow 1-0 lead but everybody around the club is talking the right way. Whilst Cooper says his team won’t be playing for the draw Thomas Frank is in no doubt how our team will approach this one, telling the press that: “We are in total combat mode. We are so ready to play and we will come out flying …There are important games and then there are little bit more important games; this is one of those defining games and moments. We are not nervous; we know we need to attack

As for Steve Cooper’s approach of going for the win, whilst offering all the necessary respect Thomas was clear that they could be split. “In the back of their minds they know they have something to protect.

And therein lies the beauty / stress of two-legged football. Do they stick or twist? Will their approach waiver? Might the pressure of holding this slim advantage do strange things to them? The prize on offer is a huge one. Namely, that £170million chance of top flight football. It feels as though we’ve had more bites at this than Jaws but now really is THE time and I’m 100% confident we’ll do this.

The beers, pizzas, goals sweets and even mid-game extra strong mints are in. If you do one thing this evening, PLEASE have a packet of these on hand – something on a par with the lucky shirt, magic pants and JJ’s bladder in the lucky omen stakes when it comes to good goal news.

What will Thomas do? Subject to any injuries, I’d imagine he may be looking to mix things up a little bit. Knowing how well we play at our very best, the team names itself but there has been one hell of a lot of football played on recent weeks. There could be some exhausted players. What price would you put on somebody who may not have started every game but does have potentially fresher legs. Might we see a start for Shandon Baptiste or even Sergi Canos?

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If anyone can inspire us, it is Thomas

Brentford official name the teams at 6.45pm and from there, we know what the approach will be. For me, it is one of channeling the spirit of the season. Play with confidence. With swagger. Run at our your opponents. Know the way to goal. Keep going and never , ever give up. Think Jota. Not just in playing until the final minute but remember Jake Bidwell. Our former captain has had what could politely be described as a turgid time in recent returns to Griffin Park. More of the same would do very nicely, thank you.

As for farewell Griffin Park, what can you say? Now really is the time. We’d all LOVE to be there. We are all desperate to be there. The players would love us there but for that reason alone, I truly believe they will have the extra impetus to do this tonight. Peter Gilham will say the right words. He’ll make the right noise on the microphone. Nobody will be in doubt what this means. Not only for our future but also as a means of saying goodbye to our past. On and off the pitch.

I can’t wait for this one. It promises to be one the biggest games in our long history. One can’t under estimate how much is riding on this. We’ve never been in the Premier League before – could this be the moment we leave the EFL behind? The Bees have the power – will Thomas Frank’s big guns fire?

See you at kick off when we find out.

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This really is it…..

Nick Bruzon

Hamer House Of Horror. Killer Bees do it again but now face awful prospect.

12 Jul

Oh. My. Word. Even by current Brentford standards that was just ridiculous. Wayne Rooney’s Derby County swept away 3-1 to make it a magnificent 7 (seven) wins on the spin for The Bees. Saïd Benrahma on fire and Ollie Watkins back to the top of the Championship goal scorer charts after giving us the lead with less than four minutes on the clock. West Bromwich Albion subsequently held 1-1 at Blackburn Rovers, despite taking the lead, and now just three points ahead. Likewise, Leeds United, although they play their game in hand today against Swansea City. That’ll be a Swansea team who know that victory will see them hit the play-off zone. It’s all getting crazy exciting. And that’s before we get to the most bonkers bit of all – Tuesday night will see us all cheering on, err, Fulham… Open brackets: for one game only, not a typo, purely due to longer term potential benefit. Close brackets.

First things first, Brentford. It was a day of miracles. Not least our family managing to avoid the scores all day long until our return home at 8pm. Phones off. Wine opened. Game successfully recorded. Sit back on the couch and let enjoyment begin. But enough about studio pundit Sam Saunders and the returning Sergi Canos. 

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Sergi was back

Within moments, any stress had melted away. Ollie Watkins popping up at the back post with the wine still breathing. 1-0 Brentford. Derby left floundering as the Bees sliced them apart. The neighbours presumably thinking we’d lost the plot. Screaming our heads off and dancing around the front room like a bunch of loons. Game on. What a start. What Manager of the month curse?      

It was shortly after that I chose to remind Mrs. Bruzon of the game at Pride Park a few years back where we’d been 1-0 up, missed chance after chance before being pegged back at the death. Lightning doesn’t strike twice though. Does it….?

So of course, Jason Knight chose to level things and serve up a plate with some words, a knife and a fork. Hey, it’s not easy being a numpty on the couch . Words were well and truly eaten. Washed down with the obligatory ‘goal sweet’ (one Starmix per person per goal, regardless of which team scores).

Still, 1-1 at half time. Brentford looking comfortable. Rooney and (eighteen year old – are we still doing that?) Louie Sibley keeping the hosts alive. Norgaard and the defence snuffing out pretty much anything, as ever. Pontus fired up and putting himself about. Pinnock a rock. Roerslev overlapping down the right in lieu of the benched Henrik Dalsgaard and Rico Henry on the other flank doing his level best to become this season’s unsung hero.

Sam Saunders came on to do his half time thing and then thirty minutes later we all settled down to watch the second period. Oh. wow. One can’t even begin to imagine what Thomas did with his white board at half time. Brentford went ballistic. Derby were obliterated. The Bees starting at 100mph once more with man of the moment Said Benrahma restoring the lead as quickly as Ollie had done first time around.

His shot from distance going at, through and past former Bee Ben Hamer. It had no right to go in but, frankly, at this stage of the campaign we’ll take any gifts offered. The shake of the head from Derby manager Phillip Cocu said it all. As did the smile on the face of Saïd. It was as awful a moment for the home side as it was enjoyable for us. A real horror show of a moment but you don’t score goals without taking shots. Sometimes they go in.

Hamer had another spillage soon after, somehow flapping it just past the back stick, before he was beaten by a strike of ridiculous quality from the Algerian wideman. Stepping in from the left wing, Saïd curled it from outside the box and into the top corner on the far side. Hamer diving but not even getting close to it. Cocu would later bemoan the space offered to Benrahma by the two defenders nearest him but the form he is in at present, you wouldn’t bet against him doing that with blindfold on. It was a quite special goal from the man who continues to exceed even his own incredible standards.

Little over an hour gone. 3-1 up and in complete cruise control. The final 25 minutes passed in a blur of red wine and wotsits. The bench was used to full effect although there was to be no return to action for Sergi Canos. Yet. Who knows what the visit of Preston may bring on Wednesday evening.

And what a match that promises to be. The beauty about watching yesterday’s game on an 8 hour time delay meant the West Bromwich Albion result was already in the bag before we even hit play. So huddled around the laptop there was a scroll upwards through the results for the big reveal. Charlton.. Derby…. Barnsley…. Blackburn….. YESSSSSS!!! Oh my. 1-1. More screaming. The police knocking on the door having received a report from the neighbours. Not literally but nothing would have surprised me, given the reaction at that moment ! Oh.. My… Can we be manager of the month every week, please ?

All of which means that the Baggies are three points ahead of us but with inferior goal difference and on level games. Three left to play. Fulham visit the Hawthorns on Tuesday evening, knowing that any aspirations they have for ‘automatic’ are 100% reliant on their winning that one.

Which means if they do, and then we beat play-off chasing Preston on Wednesday, we’ll finish the day in second place. At the least. Leeds still have to host Swansea today and then aren’t in action again until their home banker with Barnsley on Thursday. They’re still as good as up but, put simply, wins for Swansea, Fulham and Brentford will see us top on Wednesday night. 

I appreciate one shouldn’t be looking too far ahead. Thomas Frank has been adamant about that as he attempts to keep his players’ feet on the ground. Yet, at the same time, one has to dream. It’s what football fans do. We look at the next game. We look at what other results may do. And if it means that we need to wish Fulham well for one night only, then let’s at least be ready for that awful prospect. Crack open the Victoria sponge, pour yourself a G&T and dig Thriller out of the record collection. See you next Tuesday for that horror show.

All that’s to come. I don’t want have to consider the prospect overly. Perhaps taking a leaf out of Thomas’ book is the way to go. Just check the result at full time. Besides, any emotional investment in foam fingers counts for nothing if we don’t do it in what is a huge challenge against Preston. Perhaps that’s where the focus really needs to be.

For now, though, let’s pause to reflect on where we have got to. How close we are to what would be a quite incredible conclusion to the season. At are very least, we are guaranteed a play-off place. A few more results in our favour, combined with this quite scintillating form continuing, and  who knows what may happen……  

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Brentford ‘official’ Twitter capture the moment at full time

Nick Bruzon

Different day. Same hope. All to play for with just five games left.

7 Jul

Tuesday, I think. If the days had been merging in to one when lockdown started, football is now following suit with the games coming thick and fast. Brentford host Charlton Athletic this evening with another chance to further close the gap on West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United at the top. Behind us, something has to give as Fulham visit Nottingham Forest in the 5pm kick off. Strap yourselves in – we go again. Again.

Anybody who has been watching this team know just how well Brentford are playing at present. Five successive wins have been earned alongside an equal number of clean sheets. It was three against Wigan and could have been double that. See also : Reading away. We’ve beaten the teams at the top and played with a spring in the step. Peter Gilham mounting a furious one-man campaign to simulate the entire crowd.

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Peter does his thing against Wigan

We know all this, of course, but it doesn’t make it any less impressive. At the same time, it is a run that needs to be kept going if there is any genuine aspiration of catching up with the top two. The gap is five points with five to play. That’s on West Bromwich Albion. Perennial chokers Leeds United are six ahead – surely not even they can throw it this time. Can they….?

With the Baggies next two home games against play-off chasing Wayne Rooney’s Derby County and Fulham, sandwiching a trip to Blackburn, there are no immediate ‘gimmes’ on their fixture card. Just look at what the Rams did to Nottingham Forest on Saturday in their own pursuit of the top six. Thanks, Wayne.

Then again, look what the Kaiser Chiefs did to the NHS in between that game and ours –  Ricky Wilson and co popping up on I-follow for a quite unexpected rendition of ‘Happy birthday’. Sometimes, even the best intentions (and you can’t end the wonderful work the NHS do or any of the praise they receive) can turn into the bizarre.

On the plus side, at least it provided a break from Snoop Dogg promoting a food delivery service. Does he really need the money?

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Unexpected

West Brom play the day after us once more and so we all know the price of victory and the potential state of the table at 8.15pm this evening. But nobody is taking anything for granted, that’s for sure.

Charlton Athletic may have released top scorer Lyle Taylor (who had refused to play for fear of putting a ‘life-changing’ move at risk) but they are still very dangerous opponents. Relegation had been beckoning for a team who, prior to last minute defeat against Millwall, picked up 7(seven) points out of a possible 9 from their own restart. They are now clear of the bottom three but will be looking to make that secure. Moreso given as Wigan are not guaranteed to go down, despite the 12 point fine waiting in the wings should they survive naturally. 

You can absolutely bet they will be caged tigers rather than tame pussycats rolling over to have their tummies tickled. We have the quality, of course, but going in to this one with anything less than sheer belief and realisation that there is a huge job to do will be fatal.

Thankfully, we have Thomas Frank at the helm. A man full of confidence but with his feet firmly on the ground. An absolute awareness of what needs to be done on our side combined with a realisation of just how futile it is to stare at the table. Permutations count for nothing. Other results are out of our hands. He’ll focus on nothing more than the immediate. Leave the analysis to the supporters. That’s how it should be.

At the same time, Thomas knows the wealth of talent at his disposal. Just how well his side are playing. That the goals can come from anywhere. The last few games have seen Marcondes, Mbeumo, DaSilva and Valencia get on the list along with Championship top scorer Ollie Watkins and the mercurial Saïd Benrahma. The Algerian’s own hat-trick against Wigan saw his quite magnificent second goal astound even his most ardent admirers. Did he mean it? Was it a misdirected cross? Frankly, who cares ? It was a goal we’ll never forget and will no doubt see him with even more of a spring in his step when things start in earnest once more this evening.

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Saïd (in pre-lockdown mode)

There’s not much else to say beyond enjoy the game. It will be about as exciting as they come. A top v bottom clash where empty stadia are, normally, a great leveller. Where form goes out the window. Where every point is vital. Form may lean towards a home banker but I’ve got a feeling Charlton are going to make this much harder than the table suggests. At the same time, I can’t wait to see how we go.

Roll on 6pm. With the spirit in the camp sky high, this one could be an absolute cracker !

Nick Bruzon

Is this his best goal ever? And a sneak peak inside the ground on matchday.

5 Jul

Magnificent . Wonderful. Incredible. One starts to run out of superlatives after a while. A Said Benrahma hat trick was the icing on the cake of another dominant performance for Brentford. Five in a row and none conceded as a 3-0 defeat of Wigan Athletic on Saturday afternoon kept up the pressure on the top two. With West Bromwich Albion just a couple of points ahead and due to face relegation threatened Hull City this afternoon for their ‘game in hand’, the season really is building to a ‘who blinks first’ crescendo. Leeds United can breath a little easier after their own three points yesterday but it was at Wayne Rooney’s Derby County, of all places, where the day got off to a quite wonderful start. Their 95th minute equaliser against Nottingham Forest saw the Bees staying in third without even having to kick a ball. Instead, we kicked on in just about the best style possible.

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Celebrating with the ‘fans’ at full time……?

Wigan weren’t even at the races. No surprise given the situation playing out at the DW where we can have nothing but the utmost sympathy for their players, staff and supporters. Yet to overlook the performance from Brentford would be to offer the hugest level of disrespect to Thomas Frank and his team. The Bees were at their scintillating best. Tearing it up down the flanks , cutting through the middle and only last gasp defence denying Ollie Watkins the opportunity to add to his haul. 

But if one of the division’s form teams (Wigan were unbeaten in 9 and had won 6 of their last 7(seven) games) looked like they might hold tight, that man Benrahma popped up with just shy of 20 minutes on the clock. Marcondes headed the ball towards towards him, the Algerian turned, spun and volleyed it low in to the bottom corner. 1-0 and game on ! 

And whilst the score remained the same until half time, things changed in the most dramatic style shortly in to the second period. Benrahma picking up the ball close to the corner flag by the New Road and hitting it goalwards on the tightest of angles. It floated across the defence before taking a handbrake turn into the top corner. The ultimate example of the cross-cum-shot and one that had no right to go in but, somehow, it did. The smile on his face said it all. As did the tweet from Brentford official, which declared: IF HE’S MEANT THAT, THAT IS RIDICULOUS..

Did he mean it, they would go on to ask this morning? The goal is below and, my word, needs to be seen to be believed.

And then minutes later it was three. Benrahma claiming the match ball with another shot pinged in from the eye of the box. Josh Dasilva and then Christian Norgaard combining to set him up for a beautifully struck shot. How does he make it look so easy? 

There was more but I don’t really have the words today. Watch the video. It was a long, emotional afternoon. Beers were drunk before, during and after. Points were cheered and smiles were broad. Sitting in the shadow of Griffin Park as the sun set, it was another chance to count our blessings. With chaos reigning all around, the good ship Brentford seems as calm and stable as ever.

Thomas Frank hinted at it in his prematch interview with Clem that went out on Football Focus. The link to that one is here – it’s on I-player for a week – and is well worth a watch. He exudes calm. Confidence. Common sense. His manner is nothing but inspiring and his approach philosophical. Why look at the table for more than a second? You can’t change anything. Influence anything. Concentrate on your own next training session. Your own next game. It is an approach that clearly worked yesterday.

By all logic, this should be awful. Shut out of our own ground. Denied the chance to watch this most special of teams in the flesh. To see if our last minute surge to the top of the table may have sufficient legs to see us surge past West Bromwich Albion or Leeds United on the line. Yet the communal feeling that is still so apparently there – on social media, whatsapp groups and in our little bubbles – is nothing but intoxicating. We really are in this together. Even if it is from the safety of our front rooms. 

Hearing Peter Gilham roaring the team on (via the video links) still sends shivers up the spine. Seeing him celebrate the goals and, along with the other officials, take the applause at full time even better. I was sent these pictures last night of what it looks like from that perch on high. I’d love to be there but, you know what, being with friends and family feels like the right way to do this. 

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Peter celebrates

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….the other side of that post game celebration

Yet perhaps the last word today should got to Thomas Frank, from the aforementioned BBC piece. Asked by Clem for a single word to describe the achievement if Brentford were to reach the Premier league, he answered in characteristic style:  “I will give you that word. If and when we achieve it. I promise you that.” 

I can’t wait to hear what that is…

Nick Bruzon

When you phone in a performance, look what happens…

1 Jul

Brutal. Brilliant. Together. Brentford blitzed Reading 3-0 where, but for the last line of defence, it could easily have been more. The hosts not getting a look in as the gap to ‘automatic’ closed further. West Bromwich Albion sit a mere two points ahead of us heading into their own game at Sheffield Wednesday tonight whilst Leeds United limped to a 1-1 draw with Luton Town. Most generous hosts. 

With the stress over getting the I-Follow on the TV dissipating ten minutes in (it worked, far too easily, when I’d tried previously so was obviously going to fail when it came to a ‘live’ game) there was nothing more to do than sit back, pop a beer and ready the ‘goal sweets’. It wasn’t long before that bag of Haribo ‘Starmix’ saw a Tuesday evening debut. The Reading defence breached by Bryan Mbeumo after the Bees had been banging on the door all game.

With the BMW finally starting a game together for the first time since lockdown, it was Ethan Pinnock who provided the assist. A corner being headed back for the wide man to steer home. Get in. It felt as though it had been coming but pressure, possession and stats count for naff all if you can’t take the chances when you create them. All the shots on goal are deemed meaningless if you can’t keep it tight at the other end. A lesson so ably demonstrated by Leeds United later in the evening as their 75% ball retention and 23 shots to their opponents’ 3 could only result in a 1-1 with bottom club Luton Town.

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Football on the big screen. Goal sweets in hand

Half time came and went. A first foray into I-Follow deemed what could well be described as a successful one after those initial teething troubles. Whether we could say the same for Mark Burridge and Mick Cabbie in the commentary box is a matter of debate. And that’s not meant as a critique of their skills.

Rather, that they did quite wonderfully holding it all together after a tech failure just prior to kick off meant the dynamic duo were obliged to commentate via mobile phone. It was like taking a step back in time an early 80s UEFA Cup match coming at you from close to the Iron Curtain, with commentary being delivered ‘down the line’.  

Bonus points to Mark for his use of the early evening ‘For those of you just coming in late or from work’. With the unique sound that can only come from phone commentary, shut your eyes and it could have been World Cup Argentina ’78. As @the_mattfinish on Twitter would also compare : Motson’s commentary of the Platini goal had this same crackly greatness.

But whilst Thomas Frank’s boys may be playing with the same confidence as World Champions, 1-0 at half time was still only 1-0. As we saw against West Bromwich Albion on Friday night, we rarely have things our own way all game and, sure enough, Reading matched the Baggies by coming for us in the second period.

However, the Bees were also able to ensure a repeat with another clean sheet being earned. Pontus Jansson with the one notable clearance to keep on lockdown at the back whilst the attackers did their thing at the other end.

First, Josh Dasilva. The midfielder following up his own shot to beat the home defence to the ball and double our lead just after the hour. What a man and what a performance. With Christian Norgaard equally strong, and named man of the match at full time, the Bees looked solid throughout. More importantly, 2-0 and any pressure off. For the supporters if nothing else. Brentford back in in the driving seat. Reading nothing more than passengers. Shares in Haribo going through the roof. 

With Thomas Frank taking full advantage of his expanded substitution allowance, changes were made. They allowed the team to push up (Brentford) and yet another late goal for the Bees rounded things off in style. This time, Joel Valencia the man as he lashed home an absolute beauty from distance with the clock entering Jota time. 3-0. Game over, man. Game over. Brentford clear in third. West Brom within touching distance. 

A further bonus then delivered later in the evening as the scoreline from Elland Road came in. It was a result that barely anyone saw coming. Yours truly especially. All gifts gratefully accepted though and whilst one would suspect that Leeds United are all but up (not even they’ll choke this) there’s always the morale boost of watching them wobble. Of being able to sing that Joy Division song.

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Fail to take the chance ; pay the price… The BBC stats tell a sorry tale for Leeds

Fulham finally got back to winning ways but still sit behind us. Nottingham Forest play tonight so have the chance to overtake them with a win at home to Bristol City. Things really are that tight now. Every win counts. Every notch on the goal difference chart could prove vital. Brentford have the momentum but we have to keep it going. Of course the supporters are going to look ahead to what ifs and those permutations when ‘x’ beats ‘y’.

That’s part of being a football fan. Thomas Frank seems to be taking a much more grounded approach and is focussing on nothing more than the next training session and the next game. Acknowledging at full time that whatever is coming next is always the biggest one. It is not about yesterday or tomorrow but ‘now’.

And that is home to Wigan Athletic. Like the Royals, they are currently languishing mid-table. Does the fact they have nothing to play for beyond pride bode well or is a side under no pressure perhaps the most dangerous of all? Roll on Saturday when we can find out. 

That’s for then. For now, we can reflect on a job very well done. It wasn’t so much that Reading were awful but Brentford were, quite simply, awesome.  We’ve put ourselves into a position where defeat or a draw for the Baggies tonight will see the Bees go second should we manage to pick up maximum points against Wigan.  

Perhaps even Thomas Frank may have half an ear on proceedings at Hillsborough this evening. I know I will…

 

Nick Bruzon

The latest round of fixtures is as big as they come. Here’s why.

30 Jun

How different does the Championship table look since the restart? Brentford head to Reading tonight, hot on the heel of Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion in automatic whilst Cardiff City have now hit the top six. Nottingham Forest have overtaken Fulham to close in on the Bees whilst the hapless Cottagers must now go the next three games without scorer Aleksander Mitrovic. This, after the front man was yesterday given a retrospective ban following his use of the elbow at Elland Road. It is understood that Fulham are not appealing. Neither will they be speaking to the FA to contest the punishment. 

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The verdict was ‘violent conduct’

All of which means that not only are Brentford faced with a quite wonderful opportunity at the Madjeski at 6pm this evening (please don’t forget the early start and try to sign in to I-Follow early) but there is added incentive for Ollie Watkins. 

Whilst most observers were marvelling over Saïd Benrahma channeling the spirit of Paul Daniels against West Brom  – i.e. his magic tricks rather than dodgy hairpiece – Ollie went top of the Championship goalscoring charts after converting the game’s only strike. Although he and Mitrovic both have 23 goals, Ollie has now overtaken the Fulham man on ‘assists’. And with the free-eating frontman out of action for the next few games, what an opportunity for Ollie to move clear.

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All being well, a scene that will play out tonight

If anything, the golden boot threat could come from former Bee Lewis Grabban. He is up to 19 as Nottingham Forest turn up the heat. The Tricky Trees are the ones to keep a wary eye on now and a home game with free falling Bristol City tomorrow night will surely have the goal hungry striker licking his lips. What must he be worth at present? 

Still, it all counts for nothing if we can’t beat Reading this evening. That’s the eternal ‘if’, of course. Things that look like a given on paper rarely play out as simply in real life. This isn’t to say I’m not confident about our own team’s ability, because I am. We’ve picked up like we left off and it takes huge guts and ability to beat the first and third placed teams. Moreso in these quite bizarre circumstances of crowd free football. But they’ve been and gone. The table doesn’t lie and all they mean now is that we are up to third. Fine though those wins were, they have been and gone. Now is the moment to keep the heat on West Brom and Leeds. 

Moreso given that I can’t see anything beyond ‘home win’ at Elland Road tonight. Luton Town are in huge trouble but not even Leeds will choke that one. They looked too strong on Saturday. Too solid and clinical when the moment came. Patrick Bamford found the net early and it was game over from that point. Fulham all huff and puff – picked off with clinical precision by Bielsa’s assassin like team. A cat toying with a spider. 

So Brentford need to beat Reading. Victory would take us just two points behind West Brom and very much game on. Talk about cranking up the pressure ahead of their trip to Sheffield, Wednesday. It’s a genuinely exciting prospect and I can’t wait for kick off tonight. There are snacks in the cupboard, beer in the fridge and goal sweets at the ready. 

Bring it on. I can’t wait for this one. With Fulham starting their own game (the battle between the two worst teams in West London at Loftus Road) half an hour later and then Leeds kicking off at 7.45pm, dare we dream what the table could look like when referee Dean Whitestone calls full time at the Madjeski?

Let’s do this !!!!! 

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Can the kings of West London football kick on this evening?

Nick Bruzon