Tag Archives: Wigan

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?

INSERT - NHS KC

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

Ifs. Buts. Maybes. Possibilities. Permutations.

4 Jul

Brentford v Wigan Athletic. Blackburn v Leeds United. West Bromwich Albion v Hull City. Those are the big three games, on paper, as we head into the latest round of Championship fixtures. With just six to play, victory at Griffin Park this afternoon will take us within just a couple of points of West Brom (who don’t play until tomorrow). Their own return to winning ways at Hillsborough during the week keeping them safe in ‘automatic’. For now. Yet although the Bees are the ones in form, let’s not forget about the team directly behind us. There’s also the small matter of Nottingham Forest who travel to Frank Lampard’s former club, Wayne Rooney’s Derby County, at lunchtime for a game where their own victory would see the Tricky Trees leapfrog the Bees. Even if just for a few hours.

Rooney caravan

Wayne Rooney – Lockdown has been tough on all of us

It would be fair to say that phase II of the Championship has been quite bizarre. A behind closed doors campaign played out in front of flags, banners and cardboard cutouts rather than fans. Games streamed back to back on TV and I-follow as everybody rushes to complete the season in as ‘normal’ as possible a style. That’s before we even get to the quite depressing situation playing out at Wigan where, if the current stories on social media about their ownership, betting irregularities and the subsequent administration are true (the thread is here), could and should lead to some extremely tough questions for Rick Parry and the EFL. Most of which will, no doubt, be swerved. One has to feel for their supporters for whom missing out on a trip to Griffin Park is probably the least of their worries.

Yet other things have remained the same. Leeds United falling apart. Again. Fulham playing in an empty and soulless stadium. Brentford on fire as our record reads: Played three. Won three. Goals for: six. Goals Against: NONE. We’ve beaten the (then) third placed team and table toppers in our opening fixtures, with the team looking stronger than ever. 

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Ollie leaves the scoreboard hanging as he silences the away ‘fans’ last week

That’s not to rest on any laurels, of course. Cliché alert. Cliché alert. Cliché aler…. You’re only as good as your last result whilst Thomas Frank has been very much advocating a policy of taking each game as it comes. Making it very public that he is only concentrating on the next training session or the next game. Which is exactly the right thing to say and do. Even if for us supporters it is very much different….

Our own fixture list and those of our rivals have been sliced, diced and analysed. Where might Leeds United drop points? (everywhere, presumably). Might we be grateful to Fulham taking points at Nottingham Forest or West Bromwich Albion in the coming weeks? What would Peter Gilham say or do if a win for the Loftus Road team at The Hawthorns in the final game of the season were to do us the ultimate favour?

Ifs. Buts. Maybes. Possibilities. Permutations. These are all part of football’s rich tapestry. The pre and post match debate that simply adds even more to it’s allure. That makes it so compelling. Of which going to the game is only one, albeit significant, part.

I love the live action. Of being part of the sellout crowds we’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy. But I love as much the interaction with my fellow fans in the build up to the games. The travel together. The drowning our sorrows or celebrations afterwards. The point we start to look ahead or when, as I believe Harlee Dean calls it,  We go again.” Although, to be fair, that phrase is usually preceded by some combination of: “Supporters deserved more. Apologies to the fans. Not good enough today.”

Harlee Birmingham tweet

Come on. He did say it a lot.

So whilst we may all indulge in fantasy or thoughts of what may come, Thomas Frank has his troops grounded. And that’s just the way to be at present. Don’t get distracted by the noise, the furore or the stress. Leave that to supporters to enjoy/endure (delete as applicable) all of that. Which given the sad state of affairs at Wigan Athletic is the perfect approach. 

If football was tough enough to predict at the best of times, their going into administration – something being linked to stories of bets on them being relegated placed by sources close to the current owners – is about as wild a psychological card as one could ever play. Will their players be demoralised? Devastated? Dead in the water? 

Or will they come out all guns blazing? Points to prove? Supporter morale to uphold? Relegation now staring them down the barrel with the 12 point deduction only to be applied once their final place in the table has been declared. Go down and it takes hold next season. Stay up and it comes into effect now, to see what then happens to the table.

I take no pleasure from any of this. I’m certainly not close enough to comment on any more than I read but, at face value, it all sounds about as shonky as things come. Moreso, with ‘that’ Rick Parry video now doing the rounds. Their fans are furious and it’s easy to understand why. What effect this has on their players remains to be seen but we find out at 3pm today.

Stay safe and crank up the I-Follow. All being well, Mark Burridge has been able to get his hands on some new tech after the mid-week meltdown at Reading. I’m still not sure how he held it together but top marks for effort and reaction to impending disaster just twenty minutes before kick-off. Here’s hoping he has a quieter afternoon, off pitch. Here’s hoping he has an even noisier one on it !

ENJOY.. LET’S DO THIS !!! 

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Goal sweets at the ready….

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

Live action, team news and transfer talk. Phil and Trevor’s Saturday afternoon takeaway had it all.

5 Apr

Saturday, 3pm. The most action packed afternoon in Brentford since we put five goals past Sheffield Wednesday. That, the last time there was any meaningful football related action in the vicinity of Griffin Park before the full Coronavirus lockdown began cranking up to the point we are now in. Sitting at home (or taking allowed exercise a safe distance from each other) and dreaming of the day that the beautiful game may return. Wondering how many we’d have won by at Fulham had that game not been called off hours before kick-off. Hoping we get a chance to play out the remainder of a campaign that has been one of the most thrilling on record. From Leeds United starting like a train, falling apart (again) before re-establishing themselves through to our own philosophy of goals, goals, goals that had taken us to the very fringe of the ‘automatic’ places. Then everything just stopped.

My word. Hasn’t life changed? Days merging into days. Social isolation very much the way of modern existence. Not even living, in the traditional sense, but more existing from one day to the next. That’s how it feels at times and is a small price to pay for not dying, I suppose. Let’s never forget those key workers battling on the metaphorical frontline or keeping those services we so often take for granted up and running. It’s not so much the staying indoors as the not knowing when it will all end. When life will return to normal. If, indeed, it ever can to the same extent as what we’ve enjoyed prior to all of this. 

That’s the gloom out of the way. Yesterday was fun. Yesterday had football. Yesterday had Brentford doing what we do best – interacting with supporters on a face-to-face basis. Rather than kicking off against Wigan (“I think we’d have won that, Dad” – HB’s considered verdict), 3pm saw the live webcast with Director of football Phil Giles facing off to 200+ Bees fans aswell as a couple of what we’ll politely call ‘randoms’ – think a humour level that would make Mrs. Brown’s Boys seem like Morecambe and Wise.

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Phil faces off to fans

 Hats off to Trevor Inns and the GPG for setting this up. Nobody seemed quite sure how it would work but after the opening few minutes had seen interlopers, barking dogs and racists ejected we were all well into the flow. Phil taking questions on anything and everything Brentford related from a video wall resembling a giant version of the Celebrity Squares game board. No limits being placed on what could be asked and no punches pulled in the answers being given.

There was talk of the relationship between Pontus and Rasmus that had seen the players make the decision to defer wages after our Captain had heard about what was happening at Leeds United. Likewise, how his move from Elland Road had been the easiest bit of transfer business we’d ever completed.

Phil telling us that his preference would unquestionably for the season to be played out, whenever that may be. Even though contract situations may then cause complications with, legally, any club surely having their hands tied in retaining players.

That the continuation of the season would ideally not be behind closed doors – the difference between playing that way and in front of supporters described in unequivocal detail. 

Phil explained how the players were staying fit and engaged. How Thomas was in constant contact with them. How some of the B team – youngsters away from their families – had returned home.

He talked about  his own role, about Matthew Benham, about finances and about the new stadium. There was hope for those wanting to see a return to Griffin Park as it was discussed how we were obliged , by league rules, to finish the campaign in the same stadium as we had started it. Albeit noting that Tottenham seem to have circumnavigated that regulation.

There was even team news with the confirmation that Pontus was definitely fit for Fulham, Phil understanding that he would have started that one.  

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of what was discussed. A close to two hour chat seeing everybody being give the chance to ask what they wanted. A session that as supporter Paul Reddick noted on Twitter afterwards, meant :  “I actually forgot about COVID-19 for a couple of hours so well done for that”.  Hear! Hear!

For me there was the additional aspect of a peek behind the curtains. A look into the front rooms (and back gardens) of those who switched on their webcams. Who was that making Malteser cakes? Dave Lane enjoying a quite delicious looking beer. It was all happening in Greville Waterman’s kitchen at one point whilst others just kicked back with a cup of tea waiting their chance to ask a question or simply take in all the information. And was Adam Hobbs really in the pub or was it a case of digital trickery as he phased in and out of existence in the foreground?

In all seriousness, it was just so nice to see those familiar faces once more. Many of whom we knew. Others, recognisable by sight from a Saturday afternoon. For this reason alone, it felt even more engaging. 

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If you are going to take part, why not make the most of it?

All being well the technology exists to play this back out. Certainly, there was a ‘recording’ light in the top corner. Otherwise, Billy Reeves kept his journalistic skills well honed, transcribing the chat to Twitter. You can pick up his thread here. Being honest, and I apologise now if I have misquoted Phil from memory, it’ll be more accurate than these fuzzy recollections.

It simply remains to say huge thanks to Phil, the club, Trevor and his team in bringing this to the fans. To making a Saturday afternoon feel as ‘normal’ as it possibly could in the circumstances. Of giving us all a chance to do what we do so well as a club – talking to fans. Of allowing the supporters an opportunity to come together.

Here’s to the next one where I understand a certain Mad Dog will be in attendance……..  

Nick Bruzon

What happened off pitch showed our true colours. Regardless of the result.

2 Feb

My word. Brentford do it again – win handsomely, that is. My words Leeds United do it again – fall apart, that is. A day that began with our tonking Hull City 5-1 and further enhancing a goal difference ratio that could prove so crucial at the business end of the season, ended with defeats for Nottingham Forest (at Birmingham City, of all places) and the aforementioned Whites. Their latest debacle taking place at home to Wigan Athletic – something I’m fairly sure happened last season, too. Yet, really, the day was all about one man – Saïd Benrahma. The hat-trick, the celebrations, the emotion, the reaction of Thomas Frank. All this, of course, following the very recent death of his father.

There can’t be anybody at Griffin Park, or beyond, who wasn’t moved by what happened. To lose a loved one is about as heart-breaking as they come. Saïd’s return to the team for the Nottingham Forest game on Tuesday ended with the player sitting on the pitch in tears – the emotion seemingly still so raw. There was emotion yesterday, too, but of a different kind.  Benrahma playing out of his skin to secure another hat-trick for Brentford – his previous one also coming against Hull City. Each goal greeted with him pointing to the sky and a reveal of his under shirt showing the message – ‘JE T’AIME PAPA’. 

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Brentford ‘official’ capture the moment on Twitter

Referee Darren Bond left no choice but to enforce football’s stupidest rule and book him the first time he did this, with his blue shirt being fully removed. Whilst one would have hoped he might have chosen not to have seen the incident, it was a case of Bond or Benrahma. The man in the middle elected to cover his own backside and pulled out a yellow card in case anybody was watching on from the stands.

Sometimes you’ve got to take that hit and do what you need to, though. The whole of the Brentford family was behind Benrahma. Thomas Frank giving his man a huge hug that set off just about any last stragglers in TW8 who hadn’t as yet succumbed to the significance of the moment.

We talk so often about our togetherness as a club, as supporters, as friends, as a family. Here it was in bucketloads. Thomas the physical embodiment of this huge outpouring of love being directed towards the Algerian  – whether in the stands, in front of the TV or on social media. Thomas the head coach but, more importantly, Thomas the man to show once more the wonderful connection he has with his players.  

To see this coming together got me, I don’t mind admitting. Seeing the pair of them walk around the pitch at full time week in, week out is always a wonderful moment. They have a stunning connection with the supporters. Smiles, hugs, high fives and selfies – and we’ve had all from both this season –  are common place. There’s no slinking off and nobody missed out with at least a wave and an acknowledgement. We see the effort and love they both put into the game but this embrace summed it all up in a nutshell.   

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Thomas giving some big love

As for Hull city, well – they were either going to react to losing their two star players in the transfer window at 100mph or collapse. We got the later. A cautious opening few minutes then saw the game explode into life. Benrahma opening proceedings with a curling shot from the edge of the box and we were away. Ollie Watkins soon doubled the lead with just 20 minutes gone. Or, rather, Hull’s Reece Burke did as he attempted to head the goal bound effort clear. Instead, he somehow directed it into the net. 0-2, game over and possible brackets . Surely?

Of course not. This is football. This is Brentford. This is the place where, at least with the supporters, those inner demons still lurk. A game is never comfortable until we are four or five up. Ryan Tafazolli punting one from close to half way in the direction of David Raya. It wasn’t particularly powerful or bobbly yet, somehow, it went under his foot and in. So innocuous an effort was it that the stats didn’t even deem it to be a hot on goal but they all count.

Oh well. The way the commentary team banged on about if for the next hour you’d have thought that anything similar had never happened before. You’d have missed the fact that only Liverpool have conceded less goals than us this season in the top four English divisions. Still, with Hull offering nothing else whatsoever I guess there had to be some talking point for them.

1-2 and Brentford ahead at half time. It was a score we’d all have taken prior to kick off. It was a score that was then obliterated in the second half. Rico Henry doing magnificent work down the left channel to volley a cross directly onto Ollie Watkins’ head. 1-3 and this time it was game over. Except Saïd had unfinished business. Two more goals followed, each one with another reveal of the shirt although his playing kit stayed firmly on.

The hat-trick clincher culminating a quite magnificent passing move in which Jensen performed a 360 turn and move of the purest filth. Kudos to him. It was a thing of absolute beauty. “Oh, my. I hope they score from here. Just for that” was my comment to Mrs. Bruzon and HB watching alongside. Sure enough, they did. In a game that was once more overshadowed by our well-documented BMW, it was great so see the Jensen Interceptor dominating the middle of the park.

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The Sky graphics team having a moment – Surname 85 playing alongside Trialist 89

All in all, it was about as wonderful a lunchtime as one could have hoped for. Then the other teams did their thing. Ok, Fulham won – but they did their level best to throw away an early 3 goal lead and were left hanging on at the end. West Bromwich Albion secured the win (not a typo) although they were at home to basement club Luton Town. Yet it was at Elland Road and St. Andrews where the truly bizarre happened. If you can call Leeds United falling apart ‘truly bizarre’ – these days it seems to be happening more often than Mrs. Browns Boys winning comedy awards.

Their latest self-destruct happening at home to Wigan Athletic as they went down 0-1. Patrick Bamford needing to polish his shooting boots, by all accounts. Ironically, Wigan being the club and game they had the opportunity to wrap up promotion against last season, before they fell apart when a goal and a man up at Elland Road.

Ah, we can joke. Not that I can imagine anybody in Leeds is laughing (but enough about the recording session for Mrs. Browns Boys). They’re still too far ahead and there’s no way they’ll throw it away this time. Is there?

As for Nottingham Forest, having grabbed the initiative from Brentford midweek they promptly there it away at Birmingham City  – the club fast replacing Wycombe as the home for retired Bees. There were four  featured yesterday – Maxime Colin, Josh McEachran, Harlee Dean and Scott Hogan. It was the later of these who levelled things up before the home side secured all three points (not a typo). 

All in all, a sound afternoon that shows the only certain thing about the Championship is that nothing is certain. We’re five points off second placed Leeds United, whose next two games are away – at Nottingham Forest and then, erm, Griffin Park. 

Could it be time for Big Bee Radio to start warming up the Joy Division? No pressure, Patrick.…

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Last season’s form at home to Wigan…

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…continued at home to Wigan

Nick Bruzon

The huge prize awaiting if……

27 Nov

Oh my. What an incentive going in to this evening’s game at Blackburn Rovers. If Brentford win and West Bromwich Albion avoid defeat at home to Bristol City, The Bees will end the night in the play-off places. The maths are that simple even if the application of these facts may not be. Football has a funny habit of kicking you in the nuts when you least expect it. When your hope is highest. Yet, at the same time, it would be churlish to ignore the position we now find ourselves in after Swansea City were held at Huddersfield last night.

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The top of the table via the BBC – basic maths.

For Thomas Frank, naming the team would seem an easy decision. Ethan Pinnock more than impressed against Reading on Saturday and so, with Julian Jeanvier still suspended, his retaining his place is an absolute no-brainer. Thankfully, a decision that can be justified on merit rather than card induced necessity. In the midfield, Christian Nørgaard is available once more and could be in with more of a chance at getting his place back. However, Mathias Jensen won’t give up his place without a fight and the cross he supplied to set up Ollie Watkins’ winner last time out was sublime. Inch perfect delivery that was begging to be put away. Watkins duly obliged.

Could Josh Dasilva be moved to accommodate Nørgaard or is, as is more likely, it simply a case of having to bide his time on the bench with Thomas selecting an unchanged starting XI? I can’t see beyond the same team as started against Reading beginning this one tonight. Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and would have more chance of calling the lottery numbers than getting something as vital as a team selection correct.

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Jensen supplied a delicious cross for the goal on Saturday.

Blackburn Rovers are no pushover, that’s for sure. A Bradley Dack brace and a shot from Stewart Downing earned them all the points in a 3-2 fight back against basement boys Barnsley on Saturday. No doubt they will be looking to build on this and climb further up the table from their current 17th. But Brentford are going to be confident. We have every right to be so, too. The last three away games have seen us pick up 9 points and scoring 3 goals each time out with fine wins at Loftus Road, Swansea and then Wigan. We haven’t won four successive games on the road since back in 2011 and so there is yet another incentive to really go for it tonight. That is, if getting Ollie Watkins to the the top of the Championship goal scorer charts or ourselves into the top six wasn’t enough already.

This one is going to be tough. Win, lose or draw it makes no real difference in the long term. At least, at this juncture. It would be quite magnificent to get the points and hope West Bromwich Albion can do us the proverbial favour. With Leeds United grabbing a late winner at Reading last night, the Baggies currently find themselves in second place. One place off the top of the table. If The Bees have the motivation to go for it then surely Slavan Bilic’s team have just as much themselves? The battle of Romaine Sawyers v Daniel Bentley could be a fascinating one although, for obvious reasons, not one I’ll be following.

Instead, it’ll be the red-button and Sky Sports smudge vision in our house. A mid-week trip to Lancashire is one that is diametrically opposed to the budget, holiday allocation at work and domestic green cards. The efforts and ability of our travelling fans to get to games like this one never ceases to amaze me. Would that being there was an option. Tonight will be very much a case of mind over body and true faith in our boys.

Brentford have been superb in the last two months. The victory over Reading very much a case of grinding one out against stubborn opposition who had set out to strangle us. Something we have often struggled with yet this time around kept going for the entire 90 minutes. However we play and whatever Blackburn do, the opportunity and ability are there. 

I can’t wait for this one. Enioy.

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We’ve had some fine away performances this season.

Nick Bruzon  

An unusual case of The Royals enjoying time in the public eye.

23 Nov

Guess who’s back? We are back. Oh yes. International break blah blah blah. Brentford host Reading this afternoon, no doubt keen to continue the recent run of fine form that has seen us pick up 12 points out of a possible 15 and find the back of the net three times with each victory. It is a purple patch that has seen the 3-2 win at home over Millwall aswell as 0-3 at Swansea, 1-3 at Loftus Road and, most recently, that brutal 0-3 at Wigan. We’ll draw a discreet veil over the Huddersfield Town sludge fest. The net result of all this being that the Bees now find themselves in a position where victory over the Royals could take us to within a single point of the play-off zone. Yet if Huddersfield came to Griffin Park as the Championship’s form team, you can today substitute the Terriers for Reading.

Recent form has been (mostly) wonderful – home and away

Despite what could be described as patchy start, the visitors have come good. And how. Since taking over, manager Mark Bowen has seen his side pick up 10 points from his four league games in charge. By means of showing just how hard he has yanked on the handbrake, this is 2 more than they won in their first eleven matches of the season. Don’t let their position fool you. The table may never lie over the course of a season but, at present, the Royals are very much enjoying life in the public eye. And it’s not often you can say that. 

These next words make me a little queasy. Chief architect in their on-pitch revival seems to be none other than John Swift. He, of course, being one of several from the Chelsea youth production line that went on to enjoy a run at Griffin Park. I’ve said this before, to much chagrin from our reader, but I never really thought he quite cut it. Not at McEachran levels of underwhelming  but the form relative to potential was excruciating at times. We could all see the class but the consistency wasn’t there. 

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File photo.  I don’t remember what this tenuous link was about , either.

Hey, let’s put it down to youth. Certainly, John seems on form now and you are only as good as your last results. Historical form counts for naff all. The BBC note how he has has already created 50 chances in the Championship this season. A figure which comes in at 13 more than any other player. At the same time, he has also been credited with the ‘assist’ six times and, as such, would seem very much their danger man. These are impressive figures although one would imagine that should Saïd Benrahma continue this own prolific return from injury, they are stats that will soon see him overtaken.

Excitingly, the mercurial Algerian is available to Thomas Frank today. A double bonus given the absence of Joel Valencia, who sustained a shoulder injury in the win at Wigan. Like Pontus and Ollie, Said is one of the first names on the team sheet. Inked in with permanent marker in style akin to Mark Warburton with Harlee Dean and Jonathan Douglas. The sort of players deemed utterly essential by the head coach to his own strategy, regardless of their form. Thankfully, our three current stars have all been shining brightly and they will need to be today. 

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Saïd – ever popular with the fans

Also missing are Christian Nørgaard (suspended) and Julian Jeanvier, after seeing red very late on at Wigan. Pontus will need to be at his very shoutiest today with a new look defence in operation. Presumably Ethan Pinnock will slot straight in alongside the vociferous Swede but knowing Thomas, anything could happen. The squad is very much at the thin end with several other key players out injured (Canos and Karelis at the top of that list) but, as we all know, the starting XI is a match for anyone on their day. Or should that be month?  And then some given recent results.

Thomas Frank really has his team on fire. The win at QPR was about as exciting and exhilarating as they come. The victory on the road at Wigan as unexpected yet complete as any we have had this campaign. The alleged ghost of orange/brown long laid to rest. Today has all the potential to lift morale even higher than it already is . To propel The Bees ever upward. To maintain a stranglehold over our visitors that, and not to put any pressure on Thomas, hasn’t seen us slip up at home since the dark days of the Marinus experiment back in 2015.

No pressure Thomas. No pressure…..      

Roll on 2.01pm when we see who he starts with.  Roll on 3pm when it all kicks off.

See you there. Enjoy.

Marinus unicorn

Any excuse to crowbar this one in – no pressure, Thomas.

Nick Bruzon 

What’s that noise? Tumbleweed!

10 Nov

And there we go. Quite magnificent. Brentford returned to three goal winning ways with as comprehensive a scoreline as one could hope for on the road following our 0-3 defeat of Wigan Athletic on Saturday. The horror show of the laboured Huddersfield Town game (something that should have seen both teams banned under the Geneva convention) was well and truly laid to rest after a victory that sees us climb to within two points of the play-off zone. Elsewhere, the aforementioned Terriers were trounced at Preston North End in a game of particular significance to look at shortly. Yet, as ever, we can only start with The Bees.

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Official Twitter show the celebrations

What can you say? Well, in theory not much. There was no real chance of attending this one whilst for multiple reasons, Friday night saw sleep a rarer commodity than a Nick Proschwitz goal. As such, Saturday afternoon saw my time spent curled up on the sofa, drifting in and out of a light snooze with Jeff Stelling and WhatsApp. Not literally, I’m not for one second suggesting Jeff sleeps with viewers. It was more the case of dozing in front of the TV as random dreams of Paris, The Eiffel Tower and other such romantic notions were punctuated by the phone going off or an excited shriek from the Soccer Saturday studio. 

And there was a lot of vibrations and shrieking. WhatsApp didn’t stop buzzing from the moment the team were announced. If we’re being honest with ourselves, days gone by would have seen the selection of number 10 as something to fill supporters with a sense of disappointment. Of dread. Of midfield nothingness. Nowadays, 10 is the first number we look for on the team sheet. The fleet-footed Algerian Benrahma having inherited the shirt and filled it with a joie de vivre so clearly missing in previous seasons. 

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Number 10 – popular with the fans !

So come 2pm, here was the team. Our group have several traditions. One Braemar Road observer will always send the line up around once official have published it at 2.01pm. Another will then remark that the bench looks weak. It’s as much part of football’s rich tapestry of supporter ritual as not shaving on a winning run, lucky shirts, magic pants et al. And this weekend’s message saw Benrahma awol. Noooooo. On a day where we’d only that morning noted the need to undo our own shackles, and those of the opposition, our skeleton key was missing. Hamstring, rather than agent. Thankfully.

Into his boots stepped Joel Valencia. The side, otherwise unchanged from the one which had trounced QPR before falling down agasint Huddersfield. Whatever Thomas Frank said prior to kick off, it worked. And then some. We were most definitely back in ‘attack mode’. 

Five minutes gone and the phone buzzed. ‘Bryan’ . Jeff and the team then confirmed Mbeumo had done it again. Get in. This was good. Too good. If anything, might we have scored too early? Oh ye of little faith. This is not the Brentford of days gone by (mostly). 0-1 up at half time then saw the game, and the phone, explode in a manner not seen since the commentary on ‘that’ Jota goal at Blackburn. #Burridgegasm  .

“Kamo !! “

“Need to see that magical goal celebration tomorrow”

“Wigan red”

“Still plenty of room for 3-2”

And 2 up thanks to the brilliance of Mokotjo became 3 up thanks to a quite wonderful strike from Josh Dasilva. He doesn’t do simple, that’s for sure. Do check out the video highlights for all three but, for me Clive, his was definitely the pick of anther very strong bunch. As much for the way we tore and stretched Wigan. They were left looking so thin, and the Bees creating so much space, that you’d have found better markers in a packet of Sharpies. It really was destructive from The Bees. 

The only sour note being a straight red for Jeanvier deep into injury time for his part in a scuffle. Whether the club take it on the chin or appeal remains to be seen but that’s a problem for another day. For now, it’s another case of saying hats off to Thomas Frank. Hats off to Brentford. 

What’s that noise? Silence? Tumbleweed? No, its the Social media keyboard warriors who had been calling for his head and slagging him off as clueless creeping back under their rocks.  Fairplay to Thomas for keeping on doing what he is doing. 12 points and 12 goals form the last five games does tend to suggest he has his game plan exactly on course!  

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Thomas Frank – popular with the fans !

Next up is International break followed by the visit from Reading. They’ve hit a 10 out 12 point form run that makes this one an extremely interesting challenge. The table doesn’t lie but it is rebalancing itself. Nowhere more is this seen than at the top where West Brom (with Romaine Sawyers taking his game to the next level) and Preston occupy the top two slots.

North End destroyed Huddersfield yesterday to continue their inexorable climb upwards. Almost sneaking up the blindside to go past Leeds United into second place after their third win in a row. For me, the highlight of this one was Paul Gallagher’s second half penalty. It was on a par with Benrahma at QPR for the consummate lesson in how to finish from twelve yards. Power and precision very much the order of the day.

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Benrahma at QPR. Gallgher did similar

Yet Preston are mentioned to note that, much like Brentford, put the wins together and the rest happens naturally. Don’t worry about other clubs and other results. Concentrate on your own game. With the top half of Championship table locked up tighter than Alcatraz, if you keep winning then the potential for ascension remains huge. Thomas Frank is proving it. Alex Neil at Preston is proving it. Keep getting those wins on the board and then when somebody falls apart or hits the skids – boom ! Move in and move up.

The Bees are now doing it and have gone up to 9th. We’ve overtaken QPR. We’ve overtaken Birmingham City. Who can we overtake next?

Roll on Saturday week when we can find out.

Nick Bruzon

Will Wigan be banging the same drum when Bees visit?

9 Nov

Wigan Athletic, here we come. Brentford have the chance to get things back on track this Saturday following the bloody nose administered by Huddersfield Town. Hats off to the brave five hundred or so making the trip through the fog for this one. Last season’s tedium (including the unspeakable horror of a drum) combined with last night’s trip to the good bit of Shepherds Bush, where popular music’s The Bluetones were playing, make this one a journey too far for yours truly. Those green cards aren’t going to earn themselves. But is it the right decision to swerve this?

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The Bluetones – more fun than a trip to Wigan in the fog

From a musical perspective then, yes. The Bluetones were magnificent. It was the second trip to the end of the 237 in as many weeks and the result was just as satisfying. Moreso, given the number of Bees both in attendance and on stage.

At the other end of the spectrum, the previous game and drum at Wigan were simply awful.  It was one described on these pages at the time as insipid a 0-0 draw as one could imagine ; as turgid as it comes. Wigan were determined to strangle any life out of the game. Brentford, unable to find a way through as any attacking intent was choked out of the game.

Well, for those going up today it can’t be as bad as that. Can it? Brentford had their own challenge with stubborn opponents against Huddersfield Town last weekend. One would hope that Thomas Frank., himself speaking very openly in the Beesotted podcast this week, won’t fall into the same trap again. A repeat of our previous away trip and the Brentford that went to Swansea City would do very finely, thank you. 

Yet if Huddersfield were the division’s form team when our paths crossed, Wigan very much aren’t. One point out of a possible nine was rounded off with injury time defeat at home to Swansea last time out. Paul Cook, architect of the aforementioned snoozefest, is still at the helm for our hosts. Hopefully his team’s precarious position, just two places above the relegation spots, will encourage them to play a more open game in the search for success. The Bees are always at their best when playing that wonderful brand of free-flowing football which had seen 9 points and 9 goals prior to the visit from the Terriers.

Injurywise, there aren’t expected to be any changes from the side that has featured in recent weeks. I can only assume it will be more of the same when our starting XI is announced at 2pm. In part due to available players but as much to right the wrongs from the Huddersfield game. It was one which saw Saïd Benrahma stifled. Strangled into submission and, when he did get the ball, perhaps guilty of trying too hard to do it on his own. Perhaps that was down to the frustration of our scrap or maybe it was just his mindset.

He is singled out because he is, by a country mile, our most creative player. When Saïd is on song there’s no sweeter sound. One man can’t do it all but one man can inspire others around them. Sometimes it’s hard to remember he is just 24 years old (see also: Sergi Canos – 22) such is the vision and ability he has. This is a player who is only going to get better and better. One we really need to savour whilst we can. One who could be the catalyst in pushing this team forward.

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We all love Said

Whilst Brentford are mid-table at present, the play-off zone is a mere four points away. Had we picked up the win at Griffin Park the Bees would now been in eighth. It is something noted not to berate anybody for missing the opportunity but more to show how tight things remain in The Championship. Just four points separate Frank Lampard’s former club Derby County in 15th to Nottingham Forest in fifth. This is wide open for whoever wants it. At present, Hull City are the only side in the division to have won three games on the bounce. The form book is out of the window at the moment.

Checking with the bookies – purely for research purposes – not even they can call it. Brentford are very narrow favourites but the odds on offer suggest more than ever that any result is possible . Good luck with your accumulators. Personally, I wouldn’t go near this one with a barge pole. If nothing else, drums can be a largely unsettling factor.

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The Bees are favourites. On paper

All of which is summed up to say that yours truly hasn’t a clue. Although anybody still reading will surely have established that already from a column that very much feels like ‘contractual obligation’ today. The mind is still very much focussed on the fun and games had last night. Can Brentford get things heading back in the right direction? Will Paul Cook conspire to frustrate us one more?  There’s only one place to find out – and it ’s not here this morning.

Roll on 3pm when, all being well, the normal course of events can resume.

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Last time out – A drum is no substitute atmosphere

Nick Bruzon