Tag Archives: window

With Chelsea done and Aston Villa next up, could West Ham continue to disrupt Brentford boss?

30 Jan

I’d like to say “And relax” at this point but I can’t. We can’t. I’m still just so frustrated about the no show at Chelsea on Saturday as, it would seem, are an awful lot of Brentford fans given the response to yesterday’s column on Dean’s team selection and set up at Stamford Bridge. Yet straight off that we’ve Tuesday night’s televised home game with Aston Villa. If that wasn’t a tough enough challenge already, we’re waking up to the news that West Ham have finally sold Dimitri Payet to Marseille.

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The news is official. Does this mean Scott is next?

I really feel for Dean Smith on this one. Having a full programme of fixtures at the same time as the transfer window slams shut (TM) is just ludicrous. How on earth does a manger / head coach (whatever) prepare for a game at the same time as those final thrusts of frenetic bargaining are due to reach their denouement?

Will West Ham finally budge over Scott Hogan? Will Brentford have to compromise on the valuation that we have long held out for? If no sale has gone through today will he even be in contention to line up against Aston Villa? Just how on earth can these last minute negotiations which have become so much an unwelcome part of our game take place when the exact same subjects of such haggling are supposed to be plying the very trade for which they are now sought?

Presumably if not sold then he’s a Brentford player for the rest of the season and goes straight back into the team – the club then able to conduct the inevitable sale at their leisure over the summer.

Scott will go. I won’t be crying if it doesn’t happen this time around. And if only for the two figures it will stick up to those agents who have been doing their best to disrupt his, and our, preparations over the last few weeks.

None of this glosses over the Chelsea selection. Try the same against Aston Villa and we’re doomed. Dean HAS got the players that can win big games. He’s done it himself, too. Just look at Brighton away, the home humping of Reading or even the psychological triumph of the trip to Loftus Road. Yet for all of those is a Wigan (H&A), Rotherham, Fulham or Barnsley (all home).

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The QPR game just one of those when Dean’s Bees rose to the occasion

This is not me being ungrateful. I’ve said many times that the simple fact Brentford are approaching a fourth season in the Championship is cause for huge celebration in itself. But it is perplexing how the team have played so inconsistently this season. It is confusing as to why the formation change seems, at times, more and more about crowbarring in the centre backs and favoured midfielders than playing to our strengths.

I’ve not seen a team put in such a no-show as they did on Saturday in a long, long time. And let’s just discount who we were playing or where. If the FA Cup has shown us one thing this weekend, it is that a well organised and positive outfit can perform heroics against supposedly superior opposition. Sutton United, Lincoln City, Wolves and a desperately unfortunate Wycombe Wanderers are all proof of that.

Dean , if you are reading (you aren’t) Saturday was desperately disappointing. Moreso the subsequent press conference where there didn’t seem to be any perception of just how badly he’d got it wrong, this time around. Most of us expected to lose but at least to go down fighting or to even just give it a go from the off. I’d rather have lost 7(seven) – 0 and tried for 90 minutes than lose by four yet only turn up for the start of the second half. I take no pleasure from writing what I did yesterday. But sometimes things need to be said.

We’ve already been through the cold fish approach of Marinus – a man whose touchline routine appeared to be modelled on a game of musical statues. Let’s not go there again . We aren’t worldbeaters but at least it would be good to see Dean cares – something I have no doubt on. At least it would be good to see Dean get vaguely animated or just to follow up on his pre-match words.

Aston Villa aren’t going to be easy by any strength of the imagination. Specialists in the 1-1 draw (6-1 with 888sport, for the record), setting up as we did against Chelsea is a recipe for a 0-X scoreline. Reinstalling some width and remembering that the trick to scoring goals is to go forward then things could well be different – regardless of whether Scott Hogan is leading the line or trying on a West Ham shirt.

Chelsea is over. To coin that most awful of phrases, ‘We go again’. Let’s just hope it is in a different direction.

On Tuesday night, we find out.

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An early season trip to Villa Park saw another solid performance from the Bees

Nick Bruzon

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Not quite a sick relative as agents play dirty, West Ham beckon and furious Phil rages.

22 Jan

Brentford lost at Wigan Athletic on Saturday. 2-1. The video highlights are here. The BBC, official etc have the match reports of what Dean Smith would subsequently describe as a  ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ performance after running Newcastle so close 7(seven) days earlier. Yet it was the talk surrounding Scott Hogan and his on/off move to West Ham that reached a new level after the game as the Wigan result played very much second fiddle in the post match talking points.

It’s an unchanged starting XI for The Bees this afternoon at the DW Stadium” declared Brentford official on Twitter as the team was announced prior to kick off. What they didn’t make any reference to was the changed bench as Scott Hogan hadn’t even made it into the match day 18.

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Unchanged. Kind of…

Another minor injury? Was he being protected ahead of the Chelsea game? Was he on strike in an attempt to force through a move? Or had one of his relatives been feeling unwell?

As it transpired afterwards it was none of these with Dean Smith revealing that the player had a ‘tight hamstring’ and ‘felt it would be a risk to play‘ after being seduced by talk from agents. Dean telling BBC sport that with what he’s been told is on offer for him, it’s very hard for him to go out and play.

With what he’s been told is on offer for him, it’s very hard for him to go out and play,” Dean told BBC Sport in an interview you can hear here.

But it was West London’s Premier Journalist, Tom Moore, who threatened to blow the lid off what was going on behind the scenes. “Just spoken to a livid Phil Giles. Explosive Scott Hogan update coming”, said his Twitter thirty minutes after full time.

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Not my words but those etc etc

We had to wait a further five hours before the big reveal where, it was fair to say, that our co-director of football was threatening to do his own David Banner impersonation. Clearly, he wasn’t happy about agents circling. Phil – welcome to the world of the humble supporter,

The story, which you can find here, contains three counts of livid, two furious, three variants of rage and four no criticism of Scott. The meat of the subject matter being what we’d all suspected – that agents are whispering sweet nothings into his ear about what he could be earning at West Ham and, as such, it is affecting a player who wants to compete but is distracted.

Interestingly, despite an approach that Phil describes as “Completely illegal” the club will not be making a complaint to the FA. This, for me, is the oddest part of a story which has been played out very much in the public eye. A story which has had more leaks than the Titanic. If we are that convinced then why are we taking no action?

Indeed, both Dean and Phil have gone out of their way to defend the player. This, the complete opposite stance to when James Tarkowski refused to play against Burnley ahead of his move to Turf Moor. At the time, the club put out an immediate statement saying how the player had declared himself unavailable after being selected and “as a result of these actions he will be disciplined by the club”, later adding that, “the club will make no further comment on potential punishment.

Whilst Tarkowski would later cite a sick mother as the reason for refusing to play against a team he was looking to move to, this time the justification is an apparent minor injury. Presumably our medical team were in agreement with this? Or is it just an excuse to avoid us getting backed further into a corner with one of our biggest games of the season a week away?

As Phil notes in Tom’s article : “The whole thing is ridiculous. We’re looking ahead to next week – what are we going to do then? We want to pick our best players. We’re paying our best players to play a big game.

Will Scott feature if he hasn’t been sold? Will he want to? Will that hamstring ‘injury’ have cleared up?

One thing is for sure. I can’t imagine this ending cleanly unless diplomacy of an ambassadorial level takes place. And fast. But that’s now living in cloud cuckoo land.

Matthew Benham confirmed last week “I’m holding out” so if West Ham refuse to stump up to our valuation, then things could get very awkward. The club clearly aren’t going be held to ransom whilst Scott’s immediate focus would seem to be elsewhere.

This is lose-lose for everybody at present, with the clock ticking on time for Brentford to get a replacement in should the sale go through. Unless, of course, the plan is to see the season through with The Hoff and Lasse as our choices up top.

Either way, the sooner this ends the better. And if for no other reason than Phil’s blood pressure. The said, how nice to hear him displaying such passion and anger in public.

Now let’s hope it can be channelled for the greater good.

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Scenes unlikley to be repeated ?

Nick Bruzon

As transfer window starts to creak, will we be saying farewell?

30 Dec

Brentford host Norwich City on New Year’s Eve with supporters wondering if this could be our last chance of seeing Scott Hogan in a Brentford shirt. With the transfer window due to creak open on January 1st prior to the inevitable ‘slam’ shut (tm) at the end of the month, the free scoring front man is currently being linked with everybody from Newcastle United to West Ham. Even Aston Villa have been mentioned although anyone who had the misfortune to sit through the turgid encounter with Leeds United will realise it’s not so much a centre forward they need as a few crates of Red Bull. And that’s just for supporters. (please note : other energy drinks are available).

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Could these Championship rivals be the villains of the piece?

With fees as high as £15million being quoted, one really can’t see anybody blocking this move if that sort of money is genuinely on the table. Brentford have a new ground in the offing whilst have made no secret of the need to sell players over the last few seasons to ensure financial fair play criteria are met.

It is surely just a question of when rather than if? If the Christmas build up was all about the excitement of what we might receive, this next period is the opposite for supporters of a club like Brentford. The fear of who we could lose.

Like it or not, that’s the reality the club find themselves in. Being honest with ourselves, the play-offs look a leap too far at present. Much as I’m a footballing romantic and never say never, the simple fact is that we have too much quality ahead of us in the league table. Too much consistent quality.

Were Dean Smith’s team putting in the performances game after game then fair enough. But sadly, we aren’t. For every last twenty minutes against Birmingham or Cardiff is a performance like the respective first halves in those games. For every defeat of a Brighton(a) or Reading is a Barnsley or Fulham no-show.

The manager is still struggling to settle on his best team and formation. Substitutions seem haphazard whilst certain players are untouchable; others can’t get a look in. At times we look like world beaters. At others, a side lining up to let the opposition dominate.

You have to remember, also, that historically we’ve rarely (if ever) had things so good. After years of mediocrity results wise, we had that wonderful period under Uwe Rosler before Mark Warburton got us over the League One line. Since then, we’ve more than held our own in the Championship. The. Championship.

Whilst everybody wants wins and results , things need to be put a little bit into context. To see 10,000+ crowds week in, week out. To see Brentford on the cusp of a fourth season at a higher level after decade upon decade of League One or Two mediocrity. To have players that other teams are prepared to pay us millions upon millions of pounds for.

All of this is just a bit surreal. Even now. I’m still of the belief that we could, probably should, have gone up to the Premier League in 2014/15. But for village-gate who knows what might have been. Equally though, that’s behind us and the aforementioned context now needs to be the thing with which we view our longer term prospects.

But if we are unlikely to go up, this time, what about the other way? Allowing for the rose-tinted glasses of home support, going down would seem a tough act for any team in Brentford’s position. Even if we were to lose our principal goal threat.

Rotherham lost, again, last night whilst Wigan are doing their level best to join them on a trip back to League 1 ( sorry, who’s on fire did you say?). After that, QPR, Blackburn and Cardiff City are slugging it out for third spot. I’m still hoping Ian Holloway’s pre-season prediction of a West London relegation comes true. Moreso with the Bees due to host the hapless hoops towards the end of the campaign.

Other sides and other supporters have it no easier than us. I’d much rather be in our shoes than those of former Premier League champions Blackburn. For all that, at times, we’ve frustrated on the pitch in recent months, Brentford aren’t alone.

Just watching the fare on offer between Aston Villa and Leeds was a stark reminder that a gritty form of combative football followed by a final fifteen minutes of frenetic thrusting is not uncommon. And this was from two, so called, giants of the English game. Teams with genuine aspirations to return to a top flight they graced for so long. With aspirations to return to European competitions they’ve previously performed heroics in – something that looked a long way off on Thursday evening.

Should Scott Hogan leave us for Newcastle United, West Ham or other then I’ll be gutted. Likewise, if Alan Judge says farewell or Jota fails to return from Spain. Both are equally possible. But I’m also realistic about our position and how the club works. Given where we are this season then, for now, it seems a case of cashing in and holding station. A case of taking a tactical gamble whilst still picking up points and goals from other sources.

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Could scenes like this be a thing of the past?

I’ve seen some supporters say they’d give it up for the season if the aforementioned triumvirate leave in January. I don’t believe that for one second. I may be a numpty on the terrace. There may be twits on the sidelines or over enthusiastic keyboard warriors in a banana republic. That’s football and we all have opinions. However, the one thing we also all have in common is that we’ve supported this club for far, far too long. And it’s great.

We know we sell. We know we make things hard for ourselves. But we all know how much we love it supporting the Bees, no matter what fate throws at us.

Dean spoke about Norwich City yesterday, saying: “It is an important game for us because we want to exorcise the demons from the Carrow Road defeat

This much is true, but should Scott Hogan be sold then it could also see those of us who are a bit longer in the tooth needing to exorcise a more familiar demon. That of history. Dean Holdsworth, Gary Blissett, Nicky Forster, DJ Campbell and Andre Gray to name but a few.

Will it happen? Next month, we find out. Until then, here’s to stuffing the Canaries. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

No, no, no, no, nooooo, Jota! Is there any truth to Rangers rumour?

20 Dec

Is Jota leaving Eibar in January? Is Rangers (Glasgow, not Loftus Road) rather than Brentford his likely destination? Are local journalists simply hopping on the coat tails of the Scottish Sun to blow one of the usual plethora of rumours that appear at this time of year out of all proportion ?

Certainly, to read the legion of headlines one could be forgiven for imagining the talismanic midfielder is currently hot footing  it towards Rangers, having played his last for both Brentford and Eibar. The aforementioned Sun have run the ‘stories’ (please note: your definition of stories may vary) with quotes as definitve as “The Gers boss has enquired about a loan switch” and “Jota has been strongly linked”  – with Rangers.

And then in the usual lemming like rush for click bait generating headlines, the likes of Get West London, Here Is The City, The Daily Record and even something called ‘Football Insider’ have followed suit.

All tell a similar story. Nothing of any, actual, substance and simply the admission from  Eibar sporting director Fran Garagarza that Jota is ‘within his rights’ to ask for his loan from Brentford to be terminated once the January window opens.

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Jota – when will we see you again?

The one thing we can say for sure is that the Spaniard hasn’t been high up the pecking order at Eibar. But even if he was to leave, would he really go to Ibrox?

Sure, league wise there’s the chance to be a very big fish in a very small pond but the simple fact is that he remains our player. Brentford have no need to sell and his return would be both a wonderful psychological boost for a team that sit just three wins below the play-off spots for the Premier League.

If nothing else, surely Dean Smith is fighting tooth and nail to secure the return of somebody who is one of HIS players? Just imagine the link up with goal machine Scott Hogan? The option of a ball from the flank aswell as the one through the middle.

We don’t normally do ‘rumours’ on these pages. Mainly because the vast majority that have appeared over the years have proven to be unsubstantiated. The said, the locals did have a good summer this year but this one seems a headline too far.

If any midfield move is in the offing it will, surely, be through the outdoor. Konstantin Kerschbaumer’s exit must be as nailed on to happen as his backside currently is to the substitute’s bench. I’ve no evidence to support this beyond my own eyes –  what he has to do to get a game is beyond me but it seems one relationship that has been fatally holed below the waterline.

With the window opening in a couple of weeks it could be a painful ride through until the end of January. We’ll no doubt be inundated with more of these headlines (see also: Scott Hogan) from our friends in the media who would report transfer activity in a packet of cereal if it meant a headline. And yes I’ve used that one before but, frankly, I like the excuse to crowbar in the graphic.

The one thing I’d bet my hat on is that there’ll be no Mark Warburton / Jota reunion.

At least, at Rangers…..

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This sort of transfer activity always popular

Nick Bruzon

Football’s farcical 24 hours as one innovates and one goes a bit ‘Ratners’

31 Aug

This could be the most crazy 24 hours in modern football. We’ve already had the farce of last night’s Checkatrade trophy opening round where the lure of West Ham and Leicester City U-23 teams (please note, your definition of under 23 may vary) was not enough to persuade supporters to drop the proposed #BteamBoycott in this most maligned of tournaments. And then today sees ‘Transfer Deadline day’ as Brentford supporters join the rest of the footballing community in wondering if any new names will be coming through the ‘in door’ or if anyone is heading out?

Jim White, Natalie Sawyer and the rest of the gang lead the madness on Sky Sports before the window eventually ‘slams shut’ (TM) . You all know the drill by now. Yellow ties, yellow dresses and lots of cutting to empty stadia where nothing is happening. Plus, presumably, archive footage of Harry Redknapp leaning out of a car (subject to his sore knee).

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

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

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

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Jim and Natalie do their thing on deadline days gone by

 

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Brentford’s most recent signing activity

 

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Nick Bruzon

If another player is going to be missing, can we find our voice?

25 Mar

Is Josh McEachran out for the rest of the season? With the loan window not so much being slammed as quietly easing shut yesterday, it was being reported on both West London Sport and Sky Sports (although both Lyall Thomas) that the former Chelsea man has suffered a training ground injury similar to the one that kept him out for such a long time at the Marinus end of the season. And with nobody else joining Leandro Rodríguez from Everton, despite suggestions after the Blackburn game that Head Coach Dean Smith was looking to make two more short-term acquisitions what does this mean for the Bees?

Firstly, and as has been said many times, our local press love talk of a double transfer swoop. An event that is actually rarer than a Nick Proschwitz goal, when it comes to inbound activity this is one area where I take nothing as fact until Matthew Benham has fired up his cryptic clue generator, Besotted have run an ‘exclusive’ or Brentford official have published the ‘signing shirt’ photo. I’ll also accept: ‘player holding scarf aloft’ or ‘new man sitting in portacabin holding pen over contract’.

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Josh signs for Brentford – classic ‘contract’ pose

Still, aside from goalkeepers (where Dean can still delve into the market to cover a ‘7 day emergency’), we now know the make up of the players available to see us, hopefully, over the line and start preparations for a third successive season in the Championship. Or do we?

The McEachran question is very much out there with nothing, as at the time of writing (Friday morning), from Brentford official. It would be a huge shame for the Bees and the player if this is the case. Josh did, if we’re being honest, struggle at the early part of his Griffin Park career but had been showing steady improvement over his 15 games. Now, it could be back to square one.

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The injuries have piled up this season

Moreso, it would be yet another injury in a season which has been overshadowed (amongst other things) by the vast amount of players sidelined for medical reasons. We were told at the fans forum earlier in the season it was nothing but coincidence yet this horrendous run of bad luck has hardly helped our cause.

Still, we are where we are and there is enough quality in this squad to more than see us home. Should they play to their potential and ability – as a team. None of this ‘one man show’ stuff that we saw against a Blackburn side who were there for the taking.

Presumably Alan McCormack will slot straight into Josh’s position whilst we can also expect that other Chelsea wunderkind, John Swift, to return after the strange affair of the ‘hipster’ meme. Here’s hoping this period of enforced absence will have him reinvigorated and firing on all guns, back to the player who helped tear Wolves apart back in February. That result, a rare moment of solace in a 2016 that has seen Brentford lose 11 out of our 14 fixtures. Only the win at Preston and draw with Leeds in late January breaking the run of L’s blotting Dean’s copy book this calendar year.

We can moan and bitch about results all we want. Most of us have at various points, myself included. And rightly so at times.Yet without a bit of solidarity now, we could conceivably be facing a desperate start to 2016/17. In League 1.

The Bees still have to play 4 of the teams below us and with the gap a mere 6 points between us and the relegation spots, let’s not take anything for granted. Let’s not leave it too late to find our voice and our unity. Let’s not leave it too late to stop sniping at each other.

Absolutely, the players and the management team have to play their part. They are the only ones who can secure the points. But as supporters, we also have a our own role. Assuming we want to stay up, of course.

I saw a quite terrifying graphic on Twitter last night, c/o Jonathan Burchill. It highlighted this season and our previous Championship relegation campaign, back in 1992/93.

No words needed…..

The choice is simple. Stay up and we could be taking on the likes of Aston Villa and Newcastle United (I’m counting Chelsea as safe now, despite their mid-season hilarity). Throw it away, and it’ll be trips to Bristol Rovers, Oxford and Accrington Stanley.

Accrington Stanley, you may ask. Who are they?

Exactly.

Nick Bruzon

Optimism or unrealistic on our ‘crazy’ and ‘sentimental’ journey?

13 Feb

Brentford travel to Sheffield Wednesday today. Quite simply, it is a case of win or bust if the Bees are to have any realistic hopes of making the play offs that both Dean Smith and the club have been trumpeting about since the 3-0 loss to Brighton on Friday night.

As was noted in yesterday’s article, the realistic part of me knows that that a gap of 10 points between us and 6th placed Wednesday will be too much to overcome. Dean was quoted as saying that “Whilst there is still an opportunity…we will go for it.” whilst even yesterday the official site noted that, “The Bees travel to Hillsborough to face fellow promotion chasers Sheffield Wednesday this Saturday.”

Of course, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and should the Bees record what would be a 6th win in the last 18 games this afternoon then, theoretically, we could move to within just 7(seven) points of the play-offs . I am assuming, of course, that such a victory will come by sufficient a margin to start reigning in the goal difference of 14 that, effectively, makes up an additional point. From there, we have successive home games and anything could happen.

But before we even get to thinking about Derby and Wolves, can we do it today? Obviously one can only hope for the best and trust in the words of Dean Smith. With the squad back in their expected frame of mind on the training ground, is it possible we could avenge our last minute defeat at home to the Owls back in September?

That, Marinus Dijkhuizen’s final game ‘in charge’ of the Bees before our parting of the ways the following day, saw us stung at the death after Alan Judge had hauled Brentford back into it. It was a tough one to take in a game where referee Geoff Eltringham showed two reds as the Bees were caught short, pushing for a last gasp winner. Instead, we were our own victims of that period known as Jota time.

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Alan Judge delivered a blow to Wednesday as our fans celebrated. Until the 90th

And it is that man, Judge rather than Eltringham, who could be the difference at Hillsborough. Wednesday’s interest in the player was well documented over the January transfer window with, thankfully, our man-of –the-moment staying put at Griffin Park. At least, for now.

I’m sure he’ll have a huge point to prove. Both for the Brentford fans and, likewise, his would be employers to show just what they have missed out on. There is a huge resignation amongst the Griffin Park faithful to the fact that this is only a short term stay of execution and, regardless, Alan will still be off in the summer.

He has the absolute ability to play in the Premier League and could quite likely feature in the Euro 2016 finals this summer. If, and of course we don’t know what has been said behind closed doors, a move is on the cards then much better to do it to a team that he knows will be in the top flight rather than making an educated guess now .

Of course, there is also the opportunity for Brentford to continue the rebuilding programme around a hard core of experienced players such as Judge, David Button, Jake Bidwell and Sam Saunders. Still, all that is a long way off and, at least if club optimism is to be believed, it might still be us pushing for the top flight in three months. Believe me, I’d love to be eating my words on that front.

The other news of interest for Brentford fans is the latest ‘giveaway’ from kitman Bob Oteng. This ever popular competition returns next weekend with Bob already promising that the Derby game will feature, “a sentimental giveaway with a crazy guessing subject.

Fast becoming my favourite part of the week, Bob will be doing well to surpass his last ‘guessing subject’ – how many fouls Keith Stroud would award in our game at Brighton.

Whatever it is, he has nailed the season in two words – ‘sentimental’ and ‘crazy’. We love our Bees but only a few could deny it hasn’t been an emotional rollercoaster.

And with 16 games still to go, I reckon we’ve still got a few surprises left to come.

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Kitman Bob – man of mystery and king of crazy competitions

Nick Bruzon

Play off challengers go fo it as transfer rumours begin

2 Jan

Brentford travel to Birmingham City today, hoping to end the festive fixture period with 7(seven) points out of 9. The Boxing Day draw at home to Brighton and the follow up win at Reading, which featured those goals from Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos, has left the Bees in eighth place. We’re already six clear of QPR (well played last night against Hull, btw…), Fulham are out of sight – at the wrong end – whilst a win could take us to within two points of fifth place. But with the transfer window creaking open today, what will we get?

First up, a team in the same position and with the same potential as ourselves. Birmingham City, who are likely to include former Bees Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson, sit one place below Brentford on the same amount of points. 36. A win for them does exactly what it would do for us and so this is a real chance for both sides to steal a march on a play-off rival.

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Clayton eyes the target – outside of the box.

Despite all the potential of recent weeks, nobody has been able to break into that top 6 but the gap is getting tighter. Previously unbeatable Brighton have now had their vulnerability exposed, having lost 3 out of the last 4. Freescoring Burnley are still showing intermittent form. Don’t be fooled by a pair of 4-0 wins in recent games. These sandwich a 3-0 loss to Hull City and a six game winless streak prior to that.

And today they entertain Ipswich Town, who of course, sit directly below them. Something will have to give there as Andre Gray takes on Jonathan Douglas. As such, today’s game presents a tremendous opportunity for the Blues and Brentford to really close in on that pack of promotion wannabes.

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The BBC  show how tight that chasing pack are

Make no mistake. This team ARE in a race for the play-offs now. I find it an incredible statement to make based on the start of the season but you can’t fault the ability or desire of the Brentford squad. Birmingham are going to see a totally different side to the one they beat 2-0 at Griffin Park earlier in the season.

Lee Carsley’s first game in charge as he attempted to salvage something, anything, from the mess that was the Marinus experiment was a woeful performance. I genuinely hate to be negative about our team but even that, a match originally postponed due to the pitch debacle, met with a summary that included:

The longer the game went on the more heads dropped. Sideways pass followed sideways pass followed backwards pass – think Jonathan Douglas at his most negative. There was no penetration or cohesion as optimistic balls forward were easily snaffled up by the Blues defence….. as at the weekend we conceded in the 90th minute – so there is some consistency. “Not quite as sh*t as Saturday” was the view of one New Road wag after the game. I’d disagree – I thought we were dreadful. Even Lee Carsley would later tell Billy Reeves that, “We went passive with our passing which suited them”.

Still, that was then and this is now. It’s the sort of fixture today where I’d be happy with a point prior to kick off but I‘ve got a funny feeling we could go two better. That said, I’m sure Birmingham City fans are thinking exactly the same.

And if you think you know better than me (let’s face it, anybody still reading does) and fancy getting your hands on a pair of shirts – including the stunning black ‘third’ strip – then head over to Twitter where Kitman Bob is running a fantastic competition. He’s well worth a ‘follow’ anyway, but moreso now given what he is offering one fan…

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Move fast – what a prize

Get on it quickly.

And finally, January 2nd see the transfer window open for a month prior to the trademark ‘slam shut’ at 11pm on February 1st. As ever, for us Brentford fans, it will be a case of ‘squeaky bum’ time. Whilst I pay little notice to rumours circulating in the local press, one can’t help but be curious as to the Alan Judge situation – his being the name at the forefront of most stories on the subject.

One of THE top performers in the Championship this season, he is sure to be attracting interest from divisional rivals and those clubs currently locked in the Premier League relegation battle (think Aston Villa, Sunderland, Chelsea , Swansea City) or beyond. Jota’s name is never far from the frame either whilst Sam Saunders is out of contract at season end. David Button is pulling out all the stops in goal whilst the likes of Jake Bidwell and James Tarkowski are showing just how much we rely on them.

I could go on. The reason the Bees are where we are is because the team is playing well. Very well. And, as such, your better players are sure to attract more interest. We saw the squad rocked by a series of summer sales as popular players such as Stuart Dallas, Will Grigg, Andre Gray and Moses Odubajo all left Griffin Park for 7(seven) figure sums. It is only natural supporters will be worried about the same thing happening again.

Will that have been sufficient to balance the books or could more be on the way? Alternatively, will Dean Smith have the green light to look at bolstering the squad to form one more in his own image? I’m sure Walsall fans are probably fearing a raid as much as we are.

I’m not a huge fan of this ‘window’ system but, like it or not, it’s what we have. One just has to hope our top brass hold firm, that the books are in good shape and the squad want to continue this push – together.

I read an article on the Telegraph website this morning regarding the top fifty transfer targets for this window. Only two were from the Championship, both at QPR – Charlie Austin and Matt Phillips. Whilst a somewhat blinkered view of the talent available, if we can stay under the radar as long as possible then I’m all for that.

Besides, we‘ve got more important things to worry about. All the concern in the world about who might go counts for nothing until it happens. Let’s not let it distract us from the trip to St.Andrews.

Here’s hoping  we can start 2016 like we ended 2015.

Nick Bruzon

 

Is anyone courting the Judge?

17 Nov

Congratulations to Alan Judge and the Republic of Ireland who last night qualified for the finals of EURO 2016. Getting out of a group including Germany, Poland and the potential potato skin of Gibraltar is no mean feat. Moreso to follow it up with a play off victory against Bosnia-Herzcegovina that saw the first leg shrouded in fog and the second in emotion following Friday’s events in Paris. And if Lasse Vibe’s Denmark can do the needful against Sweden in Copenhagen tonight, then Brentford could have even more representation at the summer tournament.

Whilst Alan didn’t feature last night (although he was on the bench for the first leg) it shows, again, the developing strength in both the Brentford team and the Championship as a whole. The side that won in Dublin featured league counterparts Richard Keogh and Jeff Hendrick of Derby County along with Ipswich Town striker Daryl Murphy. And with Austria already qualified, then the Bees could have even more representation in Marco Djuricin.

Still, all that is a long way off. We don’t even know if all involved will be at Griffin Park by that point. Djuricin is, of course, only here on loan (albeit we have the option to buy) whilst Alan Judge is no doubt going to be the number one target for those looking to further plunder a club that has seen Moses Odubajo, Stuart Dallas, Andre Gray and Northern Ireland international Will Grigg all leave over the summer for 7(seven) figure sums.

Alan’s performances have, rightly, earned him the divisional player of the month award for October. He is the one that supporters are worried will be the next to go but will it happen? Could it happen? Do we have any choice – either financially or personally? Quite simply, the lure of the Premier League might be too much for us to compete with, regardless of any other factor.

Alan Judge and Lee Carsley

 

October saw the profile of Alan, and Brentford, raised further

This isn’t me trying to scaremonger. I’m just being realistic. We’ve had these jitters before and the last two season’s January transfer window – with the Bees pushing for promotion to the Championship and Premier League respectively – have been torturous times.

The good news then was that nobody left midseason but this time around it feels different. The well documented managerial situation, along with those huge summer sales, have many fans fearful that, in conjunction with Alan’s own stunning success, we could be preparing to say farewell.

Understandably, Brentford ‘official’ will not say anything about potential transfers whilst there hasn’t been a sniff of a rumour from our beloved local press or other sources (close to the club). The transfer window isn’t due to open for another six weeks but as we get closer to, and then enter, that period I have no doubt the stories will crank up.

Let’s be clear – I don’t want Alan or any of our prized assets go. No doubt the likes of Jota, Sam Saunders, David Button and Harlee Dean (to name but a few) will also be linked with the big leagues come January. I’m not so naïve as to think we are untouchable – the summer alone showed that. It is all part of what makes up the modern game and a club such as ours, which has seen some huge investment, doing what it needs to in order to ensure we comply with all the rules around FFP.

I’m merely putting this out there because, genuinely, I have no idea which way things are going to go at the end of next month. We have a big squad, especially in midfield, when everybody is fully fit. Equally, those players in form only have the potential to get even better as part of a settled team.

Instead, let’s hope that some more results like those in October keep that push up the League going. Then, it could all be a moot point.

Nick Bruzon

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

2 Sep

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

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

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

Ryan Woods adopts that all too familiar pose

Ryan Woods adopts that all too familiar pose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon