Tag Archives: Wolves

Is he the best new player we didn’t sign in the window?

2 Feb

Oh my word. After the week began with nothing but Christian Eriksen (and rightly so) there was a further bombshell – of the good sort – out of Brentford official on Tuesday afternoon. Just two words needed: David Raya. Make that four words: David. Raya. Josh. Dasilva. Both featured in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Aston Villa in which our much missed goalkeeper made a return to action, mirroring those earlier steps on the road to recovery made by Josh. The later scoring the opening goal of what would eventually transpire to conclude in a 2-1 reverse. Whilst Everton and Manchester City may be too much to hope for, might Saturday week against Crystal Palace be the date we are provisionally pencilling into our calendars for David’s return? Josh too. Elsewhere, we now know Christian Eriksen’s squad number and his Fantasy Football value .

First up, David Raya. What an unexpected bonus. He had been an absolute nailed on starter before that injury against Leicester City. The shot stopping. The calm. The distribution. Exuding confidence and making the step up from The Championship to Premier League look oh so simple. The almost sixth sense relationship with his defence. Knowing when to come. Knowing when to stay. Showing why Arsenal had coveted him so much but, thankfully, remained unfulfilled in their desires.

The value of a top class ‘keeper cannot be underestimated. Something we know only too well at both ends. Without David, it would be fair to say that at times we’ve looked shakier than Shakin Stevens reading Shakespeare whilst dreaming of milksh… well, we all get it.  

At times, the backline has felt shaky whilst David has been out.

Up front, that last line of defence has denied us points against Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester City. Amongst others. Grade A ‘keepers are worth their weight in gold. The players most under the spotlight and the hardest to replace. For all people are anxious, post window, about our lack of full back cover, for me ‘keeper has always been the toughest act to follow. Green shirted bench warmer the most thankless of tasks. Moreso, for newcomers to the set up.   

Now, our quest for #1 could almost be at an end. In David’s own words:  Felt so good to be out there with the boys once again after 15 weeks on the sidelines. Last push of recovery and hope to be back out there soon.

He isn’t alone.

Oh yes !!!

Then there’s Josh Dasilva. His rehabilitation has been a long and patient one. At times we’ve coped. At others Brentford have been crying out for his athleticism. His creative genius in midfield. His shots from the edge of the box. His Premier League debut. There’s been so much going on this season it is, sometimes, hard to think about a player who was a nailed on starter when fit. We’ve missed him so much. We’re almost set for the most anticipated comeback since Jota returned from Spain for round 2 at Griffin Park.  

Like David, he got another sixty minutes under the belt at Villa Park. He scored the goal, too. An effort described by ‘official’ as a shot to the far corner from a tight angle. That Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings would eventually hand victory to Aston Villa is almost a moot point. For Brentford, it was all about the return of two much, much missed stars. Make that three if you factor in the 90 minute run out for Matthias Jensen. Who’d have thought he’d be back so soon after the Wolves game?

Wolves… horrific

Right now, I’m dreaming of an Eriksen, Norgaard, Dasilva midfield?  Or should that be Dasilva, Jensen, Eriksen? With Norgaard deeper. Or perhaps Janelt, Dasilva and Norgaard? How about a Danish power trio of Eriksen, Norgaard and Jensen? With Eriksen making a gladiatorial return to the fray from the substitutes bench.

Imagine the reception he’ll get for that moment….

Whichever option Thomas goes for, it’s a quite wonderful problem to have once all are fully fit. Bring on Crystal Palace. I hope. You could call either David or Josh the best new player we’ve acquired. But both? Wow. Certainly, it feels like a huge breath of fresh air blowing through Lionel Road.

And talking of which….. there’s Christian Eriksen too. He, of course, a player whose name you may have caught recently. Well, he’s now been confirmed as wearing squad number 21.

Halil Dervişoğlu, currently on loan at Galatasaray gives up his double digits to our latest acquisition. With free printing offers already available at the club shop, one can only imagine the industrial laminator will be in heavy use over the coming weeks.

Likewise, the club website where all being well we do a better job with the photoshop once he is formally added.

He’s in !!

For those amongst us doing Fantasy Football…. And by doing, in my case we mean jinxing – given the abject lack of form immediately bestowed upon anybody selected – Christian has now been added to the game.

With a value of £5.5 million he’ll be an absolute steal once he makes that much anticipated return. Perhaps hold off a few weeks though. If nothing else, until they get his shirt right after opting for an old photo rather than a shonky cut and paste.

Brentford? Check. Value? Check? Photo? Err……

Right – that’s me done. Dreams of a two week break ruined by the transfer window, Josh Dasilva and David Raya. Everton and Manchester City on the imminent horizon. Returning heroes, all being well, just as close.

Cripes, I can’t wait. See you there.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No… he’s in the air and everything though

Nick Bruzon

Are we quite done now?

30 Jan

A week where the phrase ‘blown out of all proportion’ has been front and centre finally comes to an end for Brentford. Thomas Frank has been fined £8000 for his full time contretemps with ‘referee’ Peter Bankes after the game against Wolves. There has been a suggestion that his choice of language to earn that second yellow card may have been a tad stronger than the initial update given by our head coach that, “I turned around and said to Peter, You can just give me another one, because I was very irritated”. An explanation that may well rival that of Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons when he invited Eric Cantona to “Go on number seven. Take an early shower”. An offer that promptly earned the big mouthed liar that infamous karate kick from the Manchester United legend. 

Likewise, Ivan Toney has now issued the obligatory message to supporters after being on the wrong end of the biggest stitch up since the Great British Sewing Bee whilst on a well earned break in Dubai. The almost universal reaction amongst Brentford fans all Saturday to the video thing was that nobody gave a damn about a clip that was so out of context as to be almost irrelevant. Only the social media pile on and usual click bait mongers making something out of nothing.  So both Thomas and Ivan have now performed their Little Britain style acts of contrition,  apologised and, all being well, we can now move on.

After which, I accidentally said…..

All of which has distracted from Dominic Thompson going out on loan to Ipswich Town and Mads Bidstrup completing a similar move to Nordsjælland. The meltdown from certain quarters around both of these moves has been as hilarious as it has been predictable. No cover at left back. Phil Giles hasn’t got a clue. Why get rid of Mads? Transfer strategy, of course, being something determined in public by social media and, in part, why Rasmus Ankersen has moved on to Southampton. His role now redundant.

To be fair, the wing back situation is an area of focus and has been all season. Sergi isn’t the permanent solution (in that position) but for all those wailing and gnashing teeth about Thompson being farmed out, let’s not forget that he was as awful against Brighton as he was awesome against Manchester City. I saw one voice of opinion slating the move in one breath and in the next saying he was League One at best. Go figure? Debate is a wonderful thing and certainly keeps us all hooked. It’s not an ideal situation by any stretch and feels like we are gambling on both percentages and Rico’s health. I suspect that unless we have any 11th hour, under the radar moves occurring then this is the path down which we now walk. 

Equally, let’s not forget either that room needs to be made in the squad. Something has to give when Josh Dasilva is ready and Christian Eriksen comes in. There’s talk also of Tariqe Fosu and Charlie Goode both heading out on loan, too. With the transfer window due to make its semi-annual slam shut on Monday at 11pm, the time for any permanent moves is fast running out. To be honest, I don’t think we’ll see any either. Brennan Johnson from Nottingham Forest is as dead as a parrot whilst the noises around Hull City’s Keane Lewis-Potter have now turned into barely audible whispers. We’ve more chance of signing Harry Potter than Keane. 

Brentford’s own Harry Potter

But the imminent returns of David Raya and Josh will, in themselves, feel like brand new signings. Oh how they’ve been missed. David in particular. Chuck Christian Eriksen into the mix and it could be a very different looking Brentford team when Crystal Palace come to visit in mid-February. An incredible looking Brentford team.

The reports coming out of Ajax where Eriksen has been training are certainly sounding like Boy’s Own stuff. The story still sounds just about the most incredible thing ever – moreso if you rewind six months – yet still it seems that we are all systems go with the formal announcement expected early next week. Wow. Just wow!

Wow. Just wow

The other news that has largely passed by this week (these pages at least) has been the announcement of Bryan Mbeumo joining Christian Norgaard and Pontus Jansson in signing contract extensions. Along with Rico, Ivan and Christian, Bryan has been amongst our very best players this season. He’s at the business end of our regular player review (which you can check out here – the fall out from the crazy, crazy fame with Wolves ) and has been wowing the crowds as much as he did when first bursting onto the scene at Griffin Park.

As ever, Brentford looking to continue the strategy of tying down our hottest talent to long term contracts. It is a shrewd move for both parties and one can only presume he’ll push on to bigger and better things with the Bees. Hey, the BBC might even pronounce Mbeumo correctly by the time we play Man City or Palace.

Flying Bryan burst on to the scene in some style

So let’s close up here. As ever, we could ramble on for hours but with a trip to the gym imminent (the paunch isn’t going to fix itself) and the laptop fast running out of charge, its seems an appropriate place to finish. The coming week looks to be about as exciting as they come if, for no other reason, we get the chance to do our talking on the pitch once more. 

Everton in the FA Cup on Saturday. See you there.

Our reader is saved by the battery

Nick Bruzon

Are we really looking to press the button? Or choose a pen?

24 Jan

And let’s all relax. Winter break is upon us. We’ve no football for a fortnight. A time for Brentford to take stock, complete any transfer business before the window shuts (come on already Christian Eriksen) and then we’re back to it. The FA Cup tie with Everton followed by the trip to Manchester City in the league, a visit from Crystal Palace and then off to the Highbury library for Arsenal. Nobody said it was easy, that’s for sure. Yet off the back of several defeats (a sequence that includes losses to Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and a very strong Wolves team in the last thirty days) I’ve started to see mutterings of panic on these pages – in the comments – and also social media. Quelle surprise…. Here’s the question though. Is it time to press the big, red panic button?

Fingers at the ready

Cripes, one commentator even posted he would expect us to beat ‘teams like’ Brighton and Southampton. Teams like. Teams.. Like….…. Insert Picard emoji. The simple fact of the matter is that there are no easy games at this level. The standard of goalkeeping we have come up against is like nothing we’ve seen before. Mendy and De Gea in particular but they are not alone in the elite ‘keepers club. Whereas in the Championship we got a dozen chances per game and generally scored two or three of these, we’ve stepped up the ladder and how.

There have been some wonderful performances and we’re fourteenth everyone. Fourteenth. Out of twenty. Look at the precarious state Burnley are in if you want panic. The slide that Everton are on. Managerial sackings and more shots on target against Aston Villa from the crowd than the first team. Kids, don’t throw things.

There have also been some shockers. Burnley, Southampton and Brighton away in particular. You can’t be ‘any good’ every game and it’s true that when we’ve been off the pace we’ve been awful. There’s the 100% attention that is needed every game and at times we’ve been off it. Yet still with a team that is, mostly, made up of Championship players. Kris Ajer being the only new signing to regularly feature in the starting XI. A team that is missing one of the best goalkeepers in the division and whom we have really struggled to replace. The importance of David Raya cannot be underestimated. The confidence he exudes. The shot stopping ability. The distribution.

David Raya has been missed

Failing to replace / cover at full back has been the other, obvious, key difference. We love Sergi Canos but so much better to play him higher up. We can’t when Rico is out. The goals scored by Wolves all emanating down that side of the pitch. Mads Roerslev has impressed but his is only a recent emergence. Oh to have persuaded Henrik to stick around for one more campaign.

We’ve been decimated by covid and injury. We’re also missing Josh Dasilva. If he returns next month and Christian Eriksen joins us too, suddenly the central midfield options look magnificent. We’ve two and a half weeks until the next Premier league fixture. Plenty of time to regroup and recharge. Transfer business, if any, will be minimal.

Ultimately, we’ve had a wobbly run. No question. We’ve looked patchy at times. No question. We’re still playing a more all-round team set up rather than channelling everything through Ivan Toney. The yards he is covering from box to box are immense. Equally the performances of Bryan, Rico and Christian Norgaard have been magnificent. They’ve made the step up look oh so simple. David Raya, too, until that injury against Leicester City.

We’re not far off getting back to our best. The difference is marginal but that small gap does feel like a gulping chasm at times. Looking back to February 2021, I remember the meltdown after we’d lost against Coventry City up at St. Andrews. It was as poor a performance as we’d seen all season. We’d played three games more than Swansea City who were tucked right up behind us in third place. The wailing and gnashing of teeth, especially form a certain clique, was up there with the most ridiculous things we’d ever seen. Cripes, imagine if Twitter had been around in the Rosenior / Butcher eras.  The Swans responded just a few hours later by getting thumped by Huddersfield and going on an equally poor run themselves. Parity restored and the reminder delivered that a season is determined by results over 46 (now 38) games. Not from a snapshot in time when spirits are, understandably, low.

That’s the same now. We aren’t at Coventry levels but the mutterings are definitely creeping in. Genuinely, I’m so unphased and laid back as to be almost horizontal. I’m loving Premier League life and want this to continue as long as is possible. The return of Raya and Dasilva will be huge. Christian Eriksen putting pen to paper next level craziness. Perhaps some cover at full-back would calm a few frayed nerves. It might also give us the option to revert to a more traditional back four and strengthen higher up the pitch. Beyond this, I’d be amazed if there’s any further activity before that window ‘slams shut’ ™.

Wolves were so strong on Saturday. They’re also eighth for a reason. Please do take a look at the player review, which you can find here / below. If nothing else, it tries to take a more considered view over the course of the campaign as to where those strengths lie.

Until then, time for some calm. Time to reflect on just what we’ve already achieved this campaign. Time to look forward to those games at Arsenal and Manchester City. Tickets for the former going on sale today.

Enjoy. See you there. Until then. Perhaps a few days off. At least, until Christian Eriksen signs. Whichever pen he uses….. 😉

photoshop skills don’t match imagination

Nick Bruzon

Left or right? Who were the top performers?

23 Jan

Brentford 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2. For some fans, doom and gloom about a recent run that has seen us lose to Manchester United, Liverpool, Southampton (move along, absolutely nothing to see here) and now eighth placed Wolves. Chuck in Manchester City just prior along with a whole host of injuries and its no surprise that the points total has been slimmer than the Peter Bankes guide to competent refereeing. As ever though, we need context. As ever after a Brentford game, we have choice….

Or should that be, choices? Two infact. Will you go left for ‘the other stuff’ from the Wolves game? The Drone. The parachute. The ‘referee’. A man who Jim Levack would this afternoon put on a pedestal alongside Ray Biggar… Ah, who could forget Notts County? ‘That’ game.

Or will you turn right for the deeper dive into how the team fared (along with a bit more of the off-field nonsense)? The regular post-match search for our top five performers. The search for our season long star man. The quest to see who should keep their place for Everton and Manchester City? The genuine consideration as to whether Peter Gilham should have been included.

Well, the choice is yours….. (but go right, below).

Nick Bruzon

Eriksen update tops surreal afternoon of drone, parachute and a Bankes robber.

23 Jan

Where to even start after the most ludicrous, incident filled, crazy game of football we’ve ever witnessed? Waking up on Sunday morning and the brain is still fizzing off the back of a 2-1 victory for Wolverhampton Wanderers over Brentford at Lionel Road in which what happened between the two teams was probably the least of the talking points. With the Christian Eriksen story also feeling like a done deal now (perfect timing with Manchester City away, our next Premier League fixture) , the goals and game almost feel like an after thought.

Is Christian about become a Bee?

So let’s start there. The actual game bit. Well done Wolves. Defensively organised and solid. Taking advantage of a cautious Brentford side in the second half to go for the jugular and score three goals with the Bees defence standing off. Static. Shots from the edge of the box all flying past Jonas Lossl. That the final one was removed by VAR for offside doesn’t disguise the fact that we were left exposed time and again. Ivan Toney brought things level midway through the second half with a wonderful strike for 1-1 but just when it looked like we’d haul ourselves back in to it, the Bees shot themselves in the foot. Whilst the ‘player review’ is now online here, for this page let’s focus on the other stuff. And my word, that other stuff didn’t stop.

First up, the referee. Peter Bankes. Robin Bankes more like. A game of football stolen from the fans. He was horrific. Awful. For both teams. Wolves and Brentford united in their chants of ‘Can we have a referee’. Did I imagine it? Well, no although if you’d been reliant purely on Match of the day, yes. The only concession to anything vaguely contentious being the comment that, “The afternoon gets more and more bizarre.” Not my words Carol. The words of BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce.

This, after Toti Gomes had scythed through Kris Ajer and been shown straight red for dangerous play. That the decision was, in hindsight, correct to be reversed added further injustice given the fact that play had been immediately halted with Bryan Mbeumo clear though in the box. No sending off (come on Alex Austin, you’re by the VAR seat for a reason) and no attempt at goal possible. 

Amazingly (its Brentford, innit? and we’ve all been here way too long) the restart saw Toney’s wonder strike. Justice done but through nothing to do with the man in the middle. That said, Mr. Bankes would eventually get to wave his red card but we’ll get there shortly. 

Yet this was just one of a collection of strange events in a game which I wouldn’t be surprised if the phrase ‘irregular betting patterns’ was eventually used to describe. First up, the drone. There it was, hovering over the pitch midway through the first half and once spotted Mr. Bankes had no choice but to pull the players off. For fifteen minutes.

Peter Gilham helpfully explaining over the p.a. how Premier League rules state that “In the event of an unofficial drone over the pitch” he had to clear the field of play. Eventually adding, “Don’t blame the referee. Don’t blame the players. Don’t Blame me. Blame the drone.” He’s right, of course, and the ref did the right thing here. (Not a typo) . “Who’s the wanker with the drone?” sang the crowd before it eventually disappeared to be replaced by a police chopper. 

It meant a colossal 15 minutes of time (at least) was wasted with the players then having to come back out for a warm up before the board showed the first half would conclude at that point. After an additional +19 minutes of time added on. How he came to this conclusion I have no idea. Outside of regular incidents we’d already had a huge stoppage for the horrific injury between Rico Henry and Matthias Jensen. The pair of them both going to clear the same hoofed clearance and colliding with each other in a sickening clash of heads.

Lengthy treatment followed before both were eventually guided from the field of play and subbed off. Blood everywhere. The photos doing the rounds not pleasant. We’ll opt for a claret free choice c/o MOTD. How this stoppage was meant to signify a mere 4 minute delay I have no idea but perhaps Mr Bankes has a different watch to the rest of us.

All being well both players are ok this morning but if nothing else, it gave Peter Gilham his first opportunity of the afternoon to delve into the the official Premier League rule book and explain that both players had been replaced as ‘concussion substitutes’, meaning they didn’t count towards our tally of three permitted changes.

Sickening

Eventually, half time came. Peter telling us, “We’ve had a drone this afternoon. Now you can hear me drone on…” before prefacing the second period with the deadpan comment, “Just remember the date. Saturday 22nd January. 2022.” 

If his youthful apprentice Stu SoccerAM is ever to inherit the mantle of full time announcer, he’s  got a lot of learning to do if there’s any desire to match this level. What a teacher to have, though. Amazing. Yet that’s the experience that being at the helm since 1969 gives. Even his closest rival on the experience stakes,  George Sephton at Anfield whom we all heard last weekend, can’t hold a candle to Peter. Long may he continue. Zingers that money can’t buy.

As if to underline the date, the second half was then delayed just as the game was set to start with Mr. Bankes leaving the field of play. A problem with his earpiece meaning he couldn’t communicate with his assistants. On an afternoon of arbritary decision making to match the worst of what we’ve seen in all our years, it would have needed more than an earpiece to help him communicate. Oh well. 7(seven) minutes later and with the players having gone through a second mid-game warm up, we were back under way.

The surreal events continuing later through the half with a small parachute descending to the pitch in front of the North stand. It happened right in front of me and dropped straight down. This was not thrown from the crowd.

In lieu of ‘Action Man’ or whomever would have been held beneath the canopy, it appeared to be carrying what appeared to be a pair of frilly pink knickers. Granted, my eyes are poor but this was the ‘best guess’ consensus from those sitting around us. Whether the drone had returned to drop off a cargo of lingerie or some other reason, it rounded off a Daliesque afternoon in more confusion.

Or should that be, almost rounded off. Full time eventually came at the end of a game that had seen a total 26 minutes of additional time. Thomas Frank, understandably, frustrated after a game which had seen our early momentum stopped dead by the aerial visitor and then Brentford unable to repel Wolves in the second period. With the players being applauded off the pitch, there appeared to be confrontation in the middle with Bankes brandishing the yellow card now once but twice. Our head coach sent off. Ejected from the field of play. His explanation to the press afterwards revealing…   

I got a yellow because confronting one of their players. Fair enough. And then I turned around and said to Peter, “You can just give me another one”, because I was very irritated But its not because of this… just asked the ref and apparently I was too aggressive. Look back and if you think I was too aggressive then I can just put my hands up and say that’s not good enough. I tell my players not to keep their emotions get stupid cards and of course that was stupid by me.”

Thomas aggressively responding to Peter Bankes

A flat, flat ending to a surreal afternoon all round. Then, light at the end of the tunnel. Bright light. Christian Eriksen IS signing for The Bees. It is as nailed on as one could expect with a series of posts on social media detailing the move. And that’s just what has been shared so far. This IS happening. My word. It will be immense. We’ve got a break next weekend, followed by Everton in the FA Cup in a fortnight. Then there’s the small matter of the trip to Manchester City. 

Things are never dull at Brentford, that’s for sure. This crazy end to what was already up there as one of the craziest day we’ve ever experienced proving that yet again.

One of several posts from the GPG

Nick Bruzon

Imagine no more. Could we be one decision away from the greatest thing ever?

22 Jan

Brentford host Wolverhampton Wanderers this Saturday afternoon. The fallout from the Manchester United game has been done, dusted and (along with the player / team performance summary) written about here. We’ve, likewise, looked forward to the visit from Wolves in yesterday’s column. To be quite honest, the plan had been for a lie in this morning before freezing my bits off in Gunnersbury Park whilst H spends 90 minutes at the weekly Community Sports Trust football training for years 3-6. That was the plan. But something has been niggling. Something kit related. Something utter, utter genius. Something to better even the brown and orange. Yeah. I hear you. Me too. “How is that even possible?” being the universal reaction to such a crazy statement.  

Choc & Orange – much missed

We’ve written about the good people behind @BeesShirts on Twitter before. Their ongoing homage to the history of red and white stripes along with just about anything else we’ve ever worn before. For a shirt nerd like yours truly – who, to be honest, is only a whisker away from Kitman Bob issuing the restraining order once Luis Adriano is finished with it – this is a mandatory inclusion in the social media ‘Follow 400’ max. Honestly, you don’t need any more. It’s just noise and clutter. A therapeutic clear out every now and again to avoid tipping over the magic mark is truly refreshing.

You can thank Twitter guru Richie Firth for that one. Although, I note with dismay he has let his own standards slip and is now up to a terrifying 469. Albeit, the visit to his own page to see that current tally revealed a spot on analysis of Jamie Carragher’s sartorial stylings from last night’s coverage of Watford – Norwich.

As ever, we digress. In short – don’t follow more than 400. Do follow @Beesshirts. And if you took the later advice chances are you’d have seen the greatest concept design for Brentford shirt ever. Imagine running out against Manchester United in what they’ve come up with? Well you don’t even need to imagine, if you can make it to the end of this page.

What a concept. What a look. A design based upon that classic London Transport seat material. Bringing the ‘Bus Stop in Hounslow ‘ to life. Reinventing the much loved choc /orange for an unexpected comeback. If nothing else, imagine the global shirt sales form Trainspotters. From travel enthusiasts. As a revenue generator alone, a tie up with LT could see the coffers swelling.

If THIS were to happen…….

But this is not really about money. This is about looking cool. Looking stylish. Being the trailblazers we so often are. About making Brentford stand out. About being different. About embracing what we have become so intrinsically associated with.

The aforementioned restraining order moved a step closer last night when Kitman Bob was asked for his thoughts on this. Clearly, we’ve stumbled across Matthew Benham’s latest masterplan. What other reason can you give for a reaction of “Hell no !!!!!”. Something I can only think is a coded message to keep quiet and not let the cat out of the bag.

Well, some things do need to be shouted about from the roof tops. Just imagine running out in this. Imagine the envious looks on Cristiano Ronaldo’s eyes if the Manchester United stropmonger had sulked off past players wearing this. Imagine owning something truly unique.

Imagine no more….

Bob, over to you.

What a concept

Nick Bruzon

When was the last time this happened? Who will start on Saturday?

21 Jan

League football at 3pm on a Saturday for Brentford returns for the first time in over two months with the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers this weekend (for no points, can you remember who our previous fixture at this time was without checking ? answer at the bottom). The bravery of Wednesday night and Manchester United has been done, dusted and filed away in the Dean Smith ‘deserved to win’ dustbin. Despite our wonderful performance – and for the record I still stand by the belief from yesterday’s column that Man U most definitely rode their luck in that opening period – in the end the difference between the two sides turned out to be nothing more than finishing. For all our chances, it was the Red Devils who were clinical when the moment arose. Devastatingly quick. Unlike their post goal scoring celebrations where the only thing slower than their walk back for the restart was their number 7 ambling off in a strop after being substituted. 

In your own time

What a terrible example to set by the Manchester United megastar for any young children who may have been watching etc etc etc. For the rest of us, every cliche and preconception about the world famous winker summed up in that moment. And also this one which has been doing the rounds on Twitter.  

For Brentford, we can mull on it or move on to Wolves. Thomas Frank has always been one to celebrate or reflect for 24 hours then focus on looking forward to the next game. For me, Clive, that’s the right approach but equally this is a game which could be blistering if we can continue the momentum. If we can pick up where we left off against Manchester United. Creative. Attacking. Taking the game to our opponents rather than sitting on the back foot and waiting for them to bring it to us. If the crowd and players continue that symbiotic relationship of feeding of each other. 

Who would you pick though? Centre back and midfield are the two areas where we finally seem to have interchangeable options. Should Matthias Jansen retain his place after a showing which saw him score highly in the player review feature but, sadly, not on pitch. Indeed, is it unfair on expecting him to get the goals when we play an all round team system and took until the 85th minute to get ours? Let’s not forget, either, being up against a World Class ‘keeper in David De Gea.

Its a really easy trap to fall into and go all ‘Ian Moose’. Who could forget his shameful attempts at self-publicity after Neal Maupay missed what the ego-driven broadcaster considered to be a chance so simple he’d have snaffled it up as easily as the prematch catering (is his banging on about that a thing, still?). Note to self: don’t forget to wish my good friend a happy birthday on February 7th (seventh).

But we digress. I thought Matthias had a wonderful game. I thought he should have scored. But also so could several others. Personally speaking, I’d start him again based on his performance alone. For all I rate Shandon Baptiste, and I do, I’m sure Matthias will be itching to get back out there and start this one at 100 mph. Like the rest of the Brentford team, looking to continue on from where we left off. 

Whomever, starts competition could really crank up soon. Aside from the Christian Eriksen rumours still kicking around,  Thomas Frank gave the latest assessment on Josh Dasilva in the Wolves press conference, saying “Kristoffer Ajer trained with him today and just said ‘what a player’. There is a very good player who hopefully we will see playing for us. I think it’s still four weeks away from him being involved in the squad, if we build him well. That could potentially be a tiny bit quicker, but it definitely also be longer”.    

In defence, I thought Mads Bech looked assured. Ethan too and perhaps he can consider himself unlucky to miss out on the top five this time around. With Pontus Jansson the club captain, does Kris Ajer continue on the sidelines? Is he fit to go? Who misses out if so? Indeed, do we persist with the three CB and double wing back combo that has been used so far this season? I’d love to see a try out for the more traditional set up that gave Ivan so much service before but that’s just me. 

Much as we love Sergi Canos in our house, if Rico Henry is fit then he’ll go straight in. He was immense at Liverpool and continues to provide attacking threat. Coming off the bench for the Man U game, I am sure he’ll start on Saturday. Certainly, Thomas has confirmed that everyone who was available for the last game remains in the same position this time around. 

Decisions, decisions, decisions. One things for sure, getting back to winning ways will be very welcome. Starting to get a few more points on the board can only be good. There are no rewards given for ‘close but no cigar’. No points earned for topping the ‘deserved to win table’. Next up in the Prem is that trip to Manchester City. About as tough as it gets for anyone !

As for Wolves, Thomas used that conference to pay tribute to Bruno Mars and his squad. “I think Conor Coady is a key for their defense. When you play with a back three/back five like we do, it is very difficult to break down. They are a group of players who know each other well and who want to run and fight for each other which means a lot.”

The Wolves – Bees picture has been in use since 2014

Joy. One can only hope that Spurs interest in Adam Traore (a £15m bid was rejected yesterday) could have some sort of unsettling effect. The eight placed team (Wolves, not Tottenham) are on a hot streak at present and racking up the points with ease. They’ll be as confident and optimistic of continuing that run as we will be of getting back to winning ways.

Can we do it? There’s only one place to find out. Lionel Road. On Saturday. At 3pm (not a typo) See you there…

And that last Saturday game? Newcastle United away. The 3-3 at St. James Park on November 20th.

Until then, if you’d like to read more… then here’s that post-match player review from Manchester United and the 1-3.

Nick Bruzon

Who shone against Manchester United? Who should be picked for Wolves?

20 Jan

A 3-1 reverse for Brentford at home to Manchester United only tells one part of a evening in which the Bees did everything but score, visiting number 7(seven) Cristiano Ronaldo had a quite spectacular hissy fit and Bees fans were left genuinely frustrated not to have beaten the ‘biggest club in the world'(TM). As ever at this point, it’s time to look at who the best pf the Bees’ players were. Who is a nailed on start for the game with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday ? Has anyone broken into the season long top 5? Do you agree with the selections where there’s a few whose inclusion may cause some surprise? Have Matthias Jensen, Sergi Canos and Mads Bech (all of whom made the starting XI this time around ) done enough to hang on to their places for Wolves at the weekend?

The post match player review can be found here. Plus a few more thoughts on the overall Brentford performance. Sure, Manchester United won (no denying that) but, much like sitting through an episode of My Family, there was nothing particularly comfortable about it.

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Don’t shoot the messenger. Cup and league beckon in a huge week.

21 Sep

Do you know the way to Oldham? One in each hand. With recent seasons seeing our paths head in very much different directions, its been a while since we’ve been able to crack this one out. Needs must, though, despite the fact that Tuesday night’s league cup third round tie takes place in Brentford. With the Bees in fine form following Saturday’s 2-0 win at Wolves, it’s fair to say positivity is up. Even Thomas Frank’s most fierce detractors from last season are now lavishing social media praise on our head coach. Hmmm. And with Liverpool next up in the Premier League, the referee for that one has now been named. Be afraid. Be very afraid….

First up, the cup. Last season’s epic run to the semis was all the more frustrating in the fact that it was played out behind closed doors. Thanks a bunch, Covid. With Premier League clubs being knocked out left right and centre, all we could do was follow the action on our computer screens. Ivan Toney’s heroics and tussle with VAR at Spurs nothing more than the stuff of internet streaming. The only consolation being that at least some of us eventually got to see Brentford at Wembley where ‘the curse’ was finally broken in some style. A play-off campaign that ended in a positive manner (not a typo) and celebrations the likes of which we’d not seen in a long, long time. Kew Bridge on fire longer than even Will Grigg (Now at Rotherham United, if you were wondering). 

An epic cup run played out in empty stadia

Given how we missed out on seeing it all unfold last time out, for that reason alone I’m hopeful for big things once more. The much maligned league cup, a tournament of B-teams and squad rotation, has a new lease of life as supporters up and down the land are relishing the opportunity to watch football once more. Any excuse. The game with Forest Green Rovers saw a much larger crowd than normal and we can expect more tonight. If any additional lure were needed, there’s cheap pre-match beer and food for early entrants to the stadium. Free chili in The Hive may be a gone from Griffin Park, but the Lionel Road replacement isn’t bad.  

As for the actual game, well on paper it looks about as lopsided as they come. Oldham Athletic rock bottom of League Two, with 6 defeats and 4 points from their opening 8 fixtures. Supporters are protesting against current owners, the Lemsagam family, in a bid to oust the Moroccans whose tenure has seen relegation, the threat of administration and nine managers since 2018. Cripes, not even Nottingham Forest get through them that fast.

Sad times at Ice Station Zebra. Supporters protest.

The Bees, on the other hand, have picked up in the Premier League where we left off in the Championship. Wolves, the latest side to surrender all three points as Brentford beat the clock and our opponents. An edge of game management deployed against us in such brutal fashion by Brighton the week before, had the home fans up in arms and still raging 48 hours later. If this is how they react to David Raya changing his gloves, they’re going to go into meltdown against Brighton (who can also add falling down like the mutant offspring of Michael Douglas and Justin Fletcher to their catalogue of fan enraging tactics).

For me (Clive), and its easy to say this when we finally played a game to within an inch of the rules, it was a necessary way to close it out with just ten men on the pitch. Shandon Baptiste’s second yellow card also meaning he’ll miss out night, which is a real shame, albeit he’ll be back for Liverpool if my calculations are correct. After the Brighton game it was noted on these pages that, “Perhaps we need to be more cynical. More shrewd. Play to the letter of the rules rather than the spirit of the game. Collapse like a felled domino to slow down the clock and disrupt the flow”.

Of course, Thomas doesn’t read this or take tactical advice from the internet. If he did he’d have been ‘out’ last season, but it was pleasing to see us adapt to circumstance after getting off to that flying start. Only Stuart Atwell on VAR keeping the scoreline vaguely respectful for a home team who,  despite all their frustration, managed the princely total of ‘0’ shots on target. 

Don’t shoot me. The stats don’t lie, as Shakira almost once sang. They DID deserve more but you could argue so did we. So does Dean Smith every week. Even Bryan rattling the woodwork late on could have put things further out of sight. Instead, the lesson about balls in the back of then rather than possession being what wins games was once again in evidence. Thankfully, Brentford were the ones delivering it rather than being on the receiving end.

So with the Bees in their groove and the cup providing all it does, I’m expecting a big crowd and a good result. It won’t be easy. Never is. Under estimating any opponent or ‘teams like..’ The cardinal error to make. If anyone knows that over the last few years it’s us. With Oldham perhaps looking for some welcome distraction, they aren’t going to surrender this when the opportunity for morale boosting win and money spinning fourth round tie is at their mercy. It’s going to be fun, that’s for sure. It’s going to be tasty. And that’s just the pies.

Elsewhere, the referee and assistants for the Liverpool game on Saturday have been named. The great news being that Sian Massey-Ellis is part of the team. Her positive reputation more than precedes her as one of English football’s most on the ball officials. The not so good news being that she’s on VAR assistant duties. And for the man in the middle, we’ve been treated to….. Stuart Atwell. Stuart. Atwell. Say no more. His reputation precedes him as one of English football’s most off the boil officials.

Don’t shoot the messenger….

Still, as Rob The BEEE put it: Worst ref in the Prem by a distance…then again, in a game we should lose anyway, rolling the dice on a dodgy decision might not be a bad thing!

Perhaps he’s on to something. Come on Stuart, proves us wrong….

Nick Bruzon

Time to put it behind us and push on.

13 Sep

On we go. The latest round of Premier League fixtures is almost at an end. Brentford start the prep for Wolves sitting in tenth after the weekend’s last gasp defeat. Thomas Frank safe in the knowledge that our position can’t be changed by whatever the score is when Everton host Burnley this evening and take us all to Played 4. Yesterday’s 3-0 win for Liverpool at Leeds United seeing the hosts not so much fall apart as not even show up. A game marred by a horrific sounding injury to Harvey Elliott (yours truly was looking away at the time and Sky, tactfully, opted not to repeat it) ended with everybody sending good wishes to the player and the Anfield side going joint top. Manchester United and Chelsea ahead by virtue of goals scored. All three sides locked on ten points and GD of +8.

Last gasp defeat had heads down. For a while

For Brentford, the morning after the night before seemed to have fans in a much much more philosophical frame of mind. The frustration of Saturday evening washed away in the knowledge that on another day we could, probably should, have taken all three points off of Brighton. The awareness that chances have to be taken when they present themselves even more acute than ever whilst, of course, we’re not going to get anything from any referee. The random nature of the Championship officials something that still seems able to repeat itself at this level. Instead, it’s back to the training ground for a week to try and figure out how we might win at Wolves and then achieve what, on paper, nobody outside of TW8 will give us even the slimmest of chances of achieving. Namely, taking all three points from Liverpool on September 25th.

First up Wolves. The ultimate danger is in complacency. In looking to the obvious lure on the horizon when we’ve got one of the toughest trips in the calendar to come first. Something I’ve been guilty of with plenty of Liverpool supporting friends, including Cousin Charles. Time for him to finally pin his colours to the mast after years and years being our personal ‘lucky omen’ at Griffin Park. No pressure. Yet prior to that is the trip to Molineux to face a personal favourite of all opponents. A team we’ve gone toe to toe with over the years. From League One, through the Championship and now, finally, in the top flight. Much like Leeds United, although with some dignity. Whilst Wolves escaped the Championship a few season prior, there’s been a lot of fun along the way. Most famously that epic campaign where we ended up celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. Leyton Orient coming undone in such memorable style.

Who did what like we’d won the what now?

Brentford have got off to what is, by our standards, a flier. Primarily in not losing our opening fixture. The 90th minute on Saturday our first real bump in the road and one which we will, undoubtedly, learn from. To be fair, it can happen at any level of the game and never feels good. Albeit get a result in the next game and nobody will remember. Put it behind us and push on.

Now we have Wolves. A team whose own opening of LLL hardly one to get the pulse racing for he season ahead. Then again, they had Manchester United, Spurs and Leicester City. How many points might we have picked up from that initial salvo? Obviously we’ll never know. The race is underway and psychological advantage, as much as anything else, is starting to kick in as positive results are ticked off and the table slows starts to gestate. 

Then, on Saturday, it all changed. A trip to Watford and with it a 2-0 win. Wolves finding the back of the net for the first time in the league after opening the season taking an incredible 69 shots without scoring. That sort of attacking intent in itself something we need to be wary of. A win and some points finally earned. Hosting Brentford next with tails up and the knowledge that a win will see them leapfrog us.  

For Thomas, a lot to take away and chew on after Brighton. As we noted yesterday, Shandon Baptiste looked quite wonderful until his battery began to run out of juice. I also thought Rico had a cracking game down the left whilst the work rate and build up play from Ivan Toney cannot be praised highly enough. He got off the mark against Villa and there are many, many more to come from him. Of that I have no doubt. Kudos, too, for Kris Ajer. Getting in to Dalsgaardesque positions as he pushed up time and again. Much as I love Sergi, and we do, oh to have the experienced Dane with us for one more campaign.

The main difference between this season and last, aside from having supporters present, would seem to be the relentless pace of the games at this level. Aside from pernickety refereeing, there’s not much stopping the flow of the game. No room to hide and no time to breath. Not even VAR has overly intruded. So far. It makes for quite wonderful stuff but means there’s even less margin for error than ever. Any dip in focus sure to be punished.

I’ve loved it all so far. The atmospheres have been immense and we’ve finally achieved the dream of not only reaching the Premier League but holding our own. Wolves, Liverpool and West Ham are next up. About as famous and illustrious names as they come. As intriguing as any sequence of games. Long term divisional rivals, the team that invented football and then the 1966 World Cup winners. Something something something Trevor Brooking header.

It is the Wolves game that, from a footballing perspective, I’m looking forward to as much as any. Primarily to see how far Brentford really have come given that shared history over the last ten years. Has their stint in the Premier League given them an unstoppable advantage? Or can the Bees maintain out unbeaten away record?  On Saturday, we find out…..

Who will win in the battle of Wolves v Bees ?

Nick Bruzon