Tag Archives: U-21

ITV on the rise but will Sky scrape the barrel? And what of John Swift?

27 Mar

There was mixed news on the International front last night. Despite many enjoying the 3-2 win for England in Germany, it was the performance of the U-21 team that saw potential bad news for Brentford where Chelsea loanee John Swift limped off less than half an hour into the game with a bloody foot. Elsewhere (and I need to thank the statistical demigod that is Luis Melville for his Twitter tip-off) there was terrifying news from the Daily Mail.

But first, England. What a night – primarily because the alleged  Supporters’ band couldn’t be heard over the TV speakers. Were they even in Berlin? Who cares! The lack of jingoistic parping from their off-key trumpets was music to my ears. If I wanted to hear the theme tune to the Great Escape I’d simply watch TV on any Bank Holiday.

That was my on-field highlight. Yes, of course the goals were wonderfully taken although if you want any form of match report than, as ever, I’d suggest the BBC. The said, the win was hard fought with the ITV commentary team doing their best to jinx it at the death. Eric Dier’s injury time goal was met with declarations of “A winner in Germany” and “a winner on his debut”, despite there still being 90 seconds on the clock.

The other plus point was the performance of Lothar Matthäus  in the punditry position. Channelling the look of Paul Robinson – Neighbours, rather than Birmingham City or Burnley – he was that rare example of an ITV pundit who it was actually a pleasure to listen to. Dead pan humour, common sense and a great reading of the game. Let’s hope they snap him up for the Euros over the summer.

Kit wise, just about everybody has said their piece on this already. England opting for traditional red with burgundy sleeves and blue socks (very much Dagenham & Redbridge 1995, as one Twitter observer noted) whilst Germany elected to wear two tone black/dark green(?) with lighter green sleeves. And don’t forget the white stripes down the side from armpit to hem that looked like a somewhat unsightly deodorant stain.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 19.02.18

As the regular reader will (should one exist still) be aware, I’m all for the unusual and a bit of variety in team kit. These, however, both looked like the product of a “What might go well with jeans?” marketing meeting. And those blue socks should never see the light of day again.

For me Clive, this has surpassed the 1994 effort (oversized flappy collars, all those subliminal badges and a shade heading towards burgundy) as the worst ever England away shirt.

As a final thought on the game, what was with all the adverts for ‘Hooch’ that kept flashing around the pitch? Surely that died out in the 90s with Global Hypercolour t-shirts, VHS cassettes and ‘Eat my shorts’ ? Or are Student Union bars (three of the most terrifying words in the English language, to rank alongside ‘Rail Replacement bus’) about to see a resurgence?

Vintage-england-away-football-shirt-top-umbro-rare-classic2_1024x1024

No longer the worst England away shirt

Next up, John Swift. With Josh McEachran still being reported out injured (and the club saying nothing to deny these stories, unless I’ve missed it) there would have been heart in mouth when he got injured last night. Despite my best searches of the internet – and it is frustrating how often a search for his name is thrown off track by: Taylor Swift, Dear John – the most we know so far is that he has a cut foot judging by the pictures circulating on Twitter.

How bad this is remains to be seen although I am sure we’ll learn more today. Whilst he has, for the most part , divided Brentford supporters during his loan spell from Chelsea, one thing we can all agree on is that another injury is the last thing we need at this pivotal point in the season. We all recall how Chris Long’s nasty gash impacted him at the tail end of the previous campaign and so let’s hope this isn’t a case of déjà vu.

I’m not a hypocrite. I don’t think Swift has had the best start to his career at Griffin Park. An over indulgence on the showboating and tendency to lose the ball has been a frustration yet, at the same time, he clearly has ability as we have seen in patches. The Wolves game in particular highlighted what he can do when we get his ‘A game’. Besides, you don’t get called up for the England U-21’s unless there is something there.

Equally, and as we are reminded time and again, he IS a young player who is still learning his game. These skills and judgement calls will come as his game develops. John has become an easy target in some circles but at a time we need everybody pulling together, let’s hope his substitution was a precautionary one and we have him back, on top form, this Saturday.

Ok. The Daily Mail. Or, rather, Mailsport online have run a disturbing story to suggest Sky will be revamping Friday night football next season to make it, what seems to be, a bit more ‘laddish’. Nuts magazine does football if you will, as guest presenters are suggested to include – brace yourself – the likes of James Corden and Holly Willoughby.

Before anybody mistakes this for any form of misogynistic rant, let’s be 100% clear. I’ve got no issues with women presenting football. Quite the opposite. I think Kelly Cates has been the shining star in the (initially at least) car crash that was Football League Tonight whilst Gabby Logan has been doing her thing, brilliantly, for almost twenty years.

And, of course, who could forget our own Natalie Sawyer who has had her feet under the presenter’s desk for so long that she probably knows more about the beautiful game than most of us put together. (Perhaps Sky should be looking ‘in house’ where, of course, Natalie has also shown her punditry skills on Football League coverage?)

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Natalie at the Sky Sports desk – feet not pictured

My issue is with novelty presenters. Comedians great. Football great. Just please don’t combine the two. Nobody needs another ‘Russell Brand’ guesting on Match of the Day.

Football punditry is three men or women, who know about football, sitting on a sofa and talking about the game. You don’t need to jazz it up anymore. We’ll still watch.

Will anybody, honestly, say: “It’s Chelsea – Leicester City tonight. I was going to give it a miss but Gary Neville is busy with Valencia so Holly Willoughby is presenting. Get the Hooch in and make room on the sofa” ?

Aside from the fact that I’ve got more chance of managing Valencia than Gary Neville next season I can’t believe that situation is going to play out anywhere. Who needs Lothar Matthäus when we could have the host of Surprise Surprise, This Morning and Streetmate (don’t remember that one)? I’ve nothing against Holly per-se but when her sporting pedigree peaks at ‘Celebrity Wrestling’ and ‘Dancing on Ice’, perhaps one to give a miss.

Comedians, alleged or genuine, don’t mix well on football

Nick Bruzon

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Getting a good vibe about The Hoff

24 Jul

With Brentford due to entertain Stoke City in Saturday’s friendly, could we have a new look centre forward pairing? For those unfamiliar with such a concept in recent seasons that’s two strikers, playing up front, together – at the same time. TW8 was gripped with excitement at the news that German Under-21 Philipp Hofmann has signed from FC Kaiserslautern.

Finally, an option to help support Andre Gray up front and of international calibre to boot. A player who participated in this summer’s U-21 tournament in Serbia, Marinus has described him as “a target man, physically strong, and a good header of the ball

The Hoff signs

The Hoff signs

For those of you with a statistical leaning, he comes in at 6 foot 4 and a half inches. Certainly the opposite to Andre Gray and very much in line with that description of his being a ‘target man’. And whilst, on paper, some aspects may put one in mind of a certain Nick Proschwitz, I’m fairly sure that’s where the analogies will end. You don’t represent your country all the way up from U-18 to U-21 without being ‘any good’.

The full story, for those who haven’t read it, is still on the club site where he is another addition to the lexicon of obvious descriptions. Chris Wickham’s article names him as, “The tall Germany Under-21 international “, (see also the oft used: long legged midfielder – Toumani).

The other piece of note from the article was his use of the baseball cap. Indoors. And backwards.

I’m certainly not down with da kidz but I’d always thought that, if one was to be worn, it had to be perched precariously on the head. Preferably at a jaunty angle. What a shame Richard Lee, of course of ‘Dr Cap’, fame is no longer with the club to put him right on such matters.

Personally, I think its just a shame that The Hoff didn’t pose in his club kitt.

Bad headlines await this season

Bad headlines await this season

In all seriousness though, Phillip looks like an excellent signing and I can’t wait to see if he makes his bow against Stoke tomorrow.

But wait. There’s more. Possibly. Rumours have been sweeping the Internet and Swedish media that the Bees are due to unveil another striker this morning (Friday). Is Danish international Lasse Vibe about to join us from IFK Göteborg?

I’m getting queasy just at the use of the word ‘international’ so many times in one page but, if this does unfold, will be another stunning statement of intent from Matthew Benham. The centre forward, who has 9 appearances under his belt for the national side, was a recent target for Reading and, supposedly, the Bees have fought off competition from Schalke for his signature.

He's got that Vibe

He’s got that Vibe

Will this transpire or is it going to be another rumour that falls flat? Well, Beesotted think its true and they, for me, have been the one source (outside of official ones, of course) to get all the summer transfer activity spot on.

That’s good enough for me. I’m already looking forward to those “Don’t hassle the Hoff” and “Good Vibes” headlines that one can only hope will follow.

Come for the puns – stay for the goals.

Nick Bruzon

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And , as ever , to read more about what Brentford have done over the last two seasons (through the eyes of a supporter) then the amalgamated Last Word compendiums  are available for your kindle. Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14) and Tales from the football village (2014/15) tell the full stories of our promotion and subsequent life in the Championship.

Featuring the best of the not so bad columns and some additional, previously unseen material, they’re still available for less than the price of a match day pie if you want some summer reading before the big kick off (™) arrives.

Bees set for Brighton as Liverpool stars reveal shocking 80’s taste

12 Sep

Championship football is almost back with us. Tomorrow sees Brighton visit Griffin Park as Brentford finally get the chance to resume competitive action and, potentially, move even further ahead of Fulham. With the gap already 7(seven) points, a victory over Brighton combined with Reading doing the needful over The Cottagers would see this grow to double figures.

Of equal statistical interest is the chance for Brentford to attain their highest league placing in 60 years, should we move one more place up the table. If my maths are correct, The Bees’ current position of eighth equals the previous benchmark, set in the 1950s (and, briefly, in 1992).

Brighton are no mugs, of course. Having reached the play off semi finals for the last two seasons (the results being a pain that Brentford fans know only too well) they’ve now started to find their legs as another attempt on the Premiership begins.

Despite losing their opening two fixtures they’ve put a little run together that sees them just a single point behind The Bees. It won’t be easy tomorrow but with the International break, at least, giving us the chance to help with a few injuries, I’m confident we can continue where we left off last time out.

If nothing else, there’s the prospect of Betinho. The signing of the Portuguese U21 took most people by surprise and I’m just itching to see what he can do as Warbs’ continental revolution continues.

The signing of Betinho is officially  announced to the world

The signing of Betinho is officially announced to the world

The second part of today’s column requires you to look elsewhere as a series of 1980’s photographs have been collated, most of them featuring Liverpool players, showing footballers relaxing in the opulence of their mock-Tudor mansions

Have you ever wondered what Graeme Souness would look like, trying out as an extra on Miami Vice? Are you curious as to what Phil Neal wore in his snooker room? Want to see Kenny Dalglish – international man of business?

In that case, I can only implore you to take a look at Steven Bloor’s Guardian article about ‘1980s footballers at home’. Featuring everything from Pat Jennings posing awkwardly by the fireplace in a cardigan/action slacks combo to Trevor Brooking taking the world’s first ‘selfie’, you can find the picture gallery here.

Aswell as the Liverpool connection, there’s even a few Bees in there, with Terry Butcher and Kenny Sansom featured.

Enjoy !!

 

Kenny Sansom - in more tasteful gear than seen in the Guardian article

Kenny Sansom – in more tasteful gear than seen in the Guardian article

Daniel, my brother. You are older than me (and a Manish bonus)

2 Aug

Not my words but those of Elton John (apart from the bit about Manish) which, I can only imagine, were ringing around the hot bed of activity that is the Griffin Park media centre on Friday as Brentford announced another new signing.

The latest name to join the Bees is Finland under-21 international, Daniel O’Shaughnessy. The 19 year centre back would seem, on paper, somebody who most definitely fits the club’s bill of acquiring young talent.

That said, early visitors to the Brentford club site may have been left somewhat confused. Had the media team taken a particularly long lunch, been caught short by a sudden signing or are they just massive Elton fans?

Apparently ‘defedner’ Daniel, brother of Daniel, played against England way back in 2003. Either Warbs had reversed the aforementioned youth policy or this had been in the under-9’s World Cup. You can see part of the story – as it first appeared – below.

Welcome Daniel - as first reported on the official site

Welcome Daniel – as first reported on the official site

The story was soon cleared up as it transpired that the game against England, where defender Daniel had actually featured alongside his brother Patrick, took place just last year – 2013. As ever, you can read the full (corrected) version on the clubsite.

Those who saw Brentford play CA Osasuna on Tuesday will already have had a brief taste of Daniel in action. Don’t bet against him having a further run out at some point today when The Bees line up against Crystal Palace.

The other news to grab my attention yesterday was an announcement from Manish Bhasin, of ‘Football League Show’ fame. I love this programme and was a regular viewer last season (despite their obsession with ‘that penalty’).

If for no other reason than to see which team ‘coupon buster’ Clem would curse with a visit. The spectre of a home defeat seems to follow the ever-popular roving reporter like seagulls sniffing around the proverbial trawler.

Well, the good news is that rather than waiting up until well past midnight on Saturday for our only chance to catch this, the show is to get a second running on Sunday mornings. The time, 9am.Ish. The place, BBC2.

Great news from Manish.

Great news from Manish.

This is fantastic news for those of us, myself included, who struggle to sit through Match of the Day. An hour of Mark Lawrenson is generally enough to finish off any hopes I had of lasting until the Bees action hits our screens.

Nice work, Manish. Now, if you could just make sure Clem is given a season ticket for Craven Cottage that would be perfect.

And if you want to read amore more about Manish, the Football League Show and how we reached the Championship then why not catch up on ‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’

The story of Brentford’s 2013/14 promotion campaign, amongst other football related gumph, is now available as a digital book. Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from last season, and some new content, you can download it here for your kindle / digital device.

Manish, Leroy and Clem feature more than Russell Slade

Manish, Leroy and Clem feature more than Russell Slade

Strip tease continues as FA tell Barlow to ‘Take That’

1 Jun

What a Sunday – football just gets better and better. With Brentford releasing another ‘teaser’ image of their shirt over the weekend ahead of Monday’s launch, I feel more confident than ever we are in for a good one. And then, to round off the great news, word is spreading on the internet that Gary Barlow’s ‘Greatest Day’ has been dropped by the FA as the official England song at the forthcoming World Cup.

I’d said my piece on this when the news of the England song’s selection was first announced. You can read it in full, here, although the salient points were:

“Rather than the much touted prospect of Kasabian, fans are to be treated to a cover version of a Take That effort – Greatest Day. Despite the sheer laziness of having Gary Barlow (a man who comes over as so bland he’d probably have England play in beige) re-record his own song, worryingly he is accompanied by a seemingly random selection of other singers.

These include, in no particular order: Emma Bunton, Kimberley out of ‘Girls Aloud’, and ‘Sporty’ Spice Mel C – hey, she likes football and sings so why not? Then we get in to the realms of ‘who’ with the likes of Katy B ( I’m not sure if this is the comedian of ‘Big Ass’ fame) and someone/thing called an Eliza Doolittle (presumably a singer/band the kidz would recognise, rather than the character from ‘My Fair Lady’).

In footballing tradition, the England football team also join in. Except, they don’t. Instead, the sporting contingent (Mel C aside) is made up of ex-Internationals, with everybody from Peter Shilton, Gary Lineker and former Brentford player Kenny Sansom participating. I’m not sure why the current squad won’t be appearing on this , probably contractual, but I quite like the thought of Steven Gerrard trying to recreate the John Barnes rap.”

Whoever is picked in Barlow and crew’s place (does anyone have New Order’s phone number) HAS to be better than this, surely?

Just as long as they steer clear of either Robbie Williams – his ‘Let me entertain you’ being the most overplayed, and least appropriate, song in sporting history – or the (alleged) England Supporter’s band, then we should be just fine.

Painful though Barlow’s all-star cast were, the thought of Bernie Clifton and co parping through an off key version of the theme from’ The Great Escape’ might just have me reaching for the ‘off’ button.

There's no room at the (Bernie) Inn for the England Supporter's band

There’s no room at the (Bernie) Inn for the England Supporter’s band

England forsake the New Order for Dad’s Army (but good Bees news)

6 Mar

It was International night on Wednesday and, from a Brentford perspective, the great news was Marcello Trotta netting the second goal for Italy in their 2-0 win over Northern Ireland in the U-21 EURO 2015 qualifiers. Back home (and you’ll see what I did there in a minute) England beat Denmark 1-0 at the W place in North London. However, the big new was off the pitch with the announcement of out ‘official’ World Cup song .

I’m sorry, but I’m about as optimistic for the chances of the song’s Brazil 2014 success as I am about England progressing in the tournament. For the simple reason that the FA have, not for the first time, ‘played it safe’.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.

More strikers than London Transport – but who pays the penalty ?

1 Mar

Awaiting today’s League One action between Brentford and Carlisle, I proceeded to torture myself by watching last night’s game between Hibernian and Dundee United. I say ‘watch’ – refusal to sign up for a second subscription channel meant it was actually a case of going ‘old school’ and following the game on the internet equivalent of the now, sadly departed, ceefax.

The reason for this sudden interest in Scottish football was for, primarily, self-serving purposes rather than any particular desire to see who might limp into second place in the final table.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.