The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

Archive for the month “August, 2017”

A Few Strange Things About Southern Spain Making It Unique

We travel a lot to Spain and am never really surprised by anything here. A few examples from the last few days

Arriving at 2.30 am to find a tennis club full with children of perhaps 5-9 years of age playing tennis . When exactly do they sleep?

Going to bed at 1.30 am and being awakened by upstairs flat dwellers moving seemingly all their furniture around scraping items on the floor just to ensure our wakefulness.

A selection of ducks and parakeets in the swimming pool this morning . Happily washing and drinking.

Spain has daily rubbish collections. Whereas UK is prepared for rubbish collections every 2-3 weeks.

Gross obesity has sadly arrived now in Spain not too different from USA. This is not good news as a significant number of the population smoke copious cigarettes.

Bars and some restaurants welcoming dogs. Despite the heat there are a surprising number of dogs. Spain seems also to have removed the days of feral abandoned cats everywhere. From hundreds a few years ago there are essentially none now.

Vegetables with meals seem to have been abolished by Royal Decree. The occasional salad leaf might appear but the chances of a traditional vegetable with a steak meal are rare. Fruit however is abundant and cheap.

Fairly Poor Response From Stevenage Regarding Serious Allegations of Poor Stewarding

A week ago I posted a letter of complaint from Grimsby fans via their Mariners Trust relating to clearly inappropriate stewarding examples included women being asked to show their bras.

The response here is poor and needs to be taken further in my view. Have a read and see what you think. I plan on sending my personal views to Stevenage .

Stevenage Update

A Thankyou to Chris Kamara

All Bees fans of an age will recall the hard working and hard tackling midfielder that Chris Kamara was.

It was nice to see him yesterday back at Griffin Park. As he walked along the New Road pitchside pre game he took the time to pose with fans for selfies, sign autographs and generally engage with everyone who wanted to say hello. No airs and graces just nice normal behaviours. He should be really respected for this as clearly also was heading off to work for the media up in the gantry.

Sometimes we just need to report the good stuff in football and not only the negative things. Chris Kamara you are a gentleman

A Personal Bees Prediction after 0-0 Wolves

This season is not going well. Let’s be realistic . We have two points from 5 games and no striking chance of a win until possibly the end of September. Far from chasing promotion we look a potential relegation side.

We have scored goals in only 2 of the 5 games and although the football has looked good at times in terms of end results it has not been.

Will we improve? Sure. We are not on paper a relegation side but we need to find our best permutations in midfield and defence.

Will we get into the play offs? Personally I think no chance.

My main concerns are that personally I am unconvinced by Dean Smith. I am also convinced that Yennaris is neither captaincy material nor even worth a place in the side.

Maupay will come very good with better service and Woods will help us a lot.

My prediction is Bees will finish in 15th place .

Did we do ok yesterday against Wolves? It was pleasing to keep a clean sheet. The defence was better. Midfield was average and we need Jota to commit to stay or go. But we cannot be happy with a statistic of zero wins in 5 games including 3 at home.

Stewarding concerns raised by Grimsby fans at Stevenage. Please read this and form your own views

Stewarding is a complex issue and recent terrorist events mean we should expect more attention to bags and bodies when entering entertainment venues.

This is a letter from the Mariners Trust. Grimsby town fans. Sent to many outlets already. There are valid questions that need answering here which might

constitute criminal offences if true .

Mariners Trust letter to Stevenage F.C.

Brentford go Bottom Of Championship after Lame 2-0 defeat at Ipswich

When all is said and done the reality is that four games into the season Bees have a single point and are bottom. The litany of excuses ( some reasonable and some not) have been pervading social media this last few hours. The simple reality is that Ipswich did not have to work terribly hard to win this game with the workmanlike Martyn Waghorn and Freddie Sears having an easy day.  What were probably defensive errors gave Ipswich a goal in the first half and a second soon after the restart. After that Brentford were frankly anonymous. At the final whistle maybe only Barbet came over to thank the fans and I am not sure what his hands gesture meant. Maybe “its our fault?”. 1K4A4435

All this came after a promising start and for the first 20 minutes Brentford were clearly the better side, however their inability to stop conceding goals and not scoring any one of their multiple chances meant that a 2-0 scoreline did not flatter Ipswich. Yet some of Brentford’s football was good, some long passes to the wing were sublime, yet there was no end result. Florian was busy but never seemed like scoring. 1K4A4405

Brentford do miss Woods, Canos and Henry for sure, and the underlying uncertainty over Jota, Dean and Woods, with regard to offers from other teams, also cannot be underestimated. But again the reality is that Dean Smith has created his own squad and even without the players mentioned above there should be enough quality to at least get 4-6 points from these opening four games.


I do not have a magic answer but as an n=1 these are my suggestions:

  1. We need clarity over who the captain and leader in the team. I am not sure who it should be but am positive it should not be Yennaris. They should be a visible leader and should Dean stay with us ( rumours about Leeds are strong) then this becomes a rhetorical question.
  2. We need a defensive coach to come in and coach what is firstly our first choice centre back combination and secondly our whole defence. This includes the defensive midfielder playing in front of them. We all recall how good Toumani was in that role after he had been specifically coached to play there.
  3. We need a consistent pair of strikers who will be given 4-5 games. Watkins and Maupay are the clear candidates. Vibe is a good player but out of confidence right now ( and injured ).
  4. We need to continue blooding young players like Theo Archibald, who really gave the Ipswich defence something to think about in that last 20 minutes.
  5. We also need some luck. Maybe its true you make your own luck.
  6. Lastly we need to subtly change our style. Statistics on possession and shots, make interesting reading but do not provide any league points. We need more tough tackling and high-tempo workrate. I think also Brentford fans, though they love good football, also love the type of hard tackling and aggressive football played by players like Alan McCormack and Jonathan Douglas ( seems no one knows what has happened to him)

The fixture list does not look kind to us this next 6 weeks. Games against Wolves, Villa and Sheffield Wednesday are going to be tough to get significant points from. I would right now take three draws and maybe a couple of clean sheets.  By definition we are in a relegation battle and need to do just that, battle. It is frankly difficult to see that we will be out of the relegation places until end of September at least.



Applying For a Zip Oyster Card Online For Teenagers . A Little Complex Maybe. A few tips.

Around this time of year there are exam results, A levels today and GCSE on 24th august. Parents also will be checking that their children’s Oyster card is working. Many will need to renew in secondary education and update to a 16+ card.  The Zip Oyster cards are such a good deal for children and those in education that it is difficult to be critical, however when applying a few things you need to be aware of:

  1. Firstly you can only apply now online. There are certain situations where you will need to take an application that has been already submitted to a post-office though.
  2. The TFL site is actually very helpful  Link to the Zip Oyster site
  3. Many of us have Mac computers and for whatever reason the site is not compatible with Safari as a browser. This was not immediately clear as I got some jumbled message after submitting muttering about computer stacks not available. So Google Chrome was my default browser, and worked fine.
  4. The adult needs to create a web account through which you then apply on behalf of the child.
  5. The application requires you enter details from your child’s passport for age verification purposes. So you need that handy, as some details asked you might not be aware of even if remembering the passport number.
  6. There is a £20 cost, which seems reasonable considering the savings on travel, especially in the London area.


The process is hardly onerous but being aware that Safari is not a compatible browser and that you need the child’s passport is worth knowing.


Brentford 2 Bristol City 2. Learnings and Thoughts

For a neutral this was an exciting game that was never sorted until literally the last kick of the game. Brentford fans will point to the statistics that show on paper their marked superiority  and Bristol fans will simply point to the score, and suggest that they might actually have won the game in the eight minutes of added time. Indeed bar an incredible clearance from Barbet that may have happened. Nevertheless Brentford have points tally of one point from three games, and with an away fixture at Ipswich ( who have 9 points), this may soon become one point from four games.

Social media gives a wide spread of opinions why Brentford did not win last night, focusing mostly on awful defending (again) through to the referee. Lets try and take a closer look. For me these were the key learnings and thoughts from last night:

  1. Brentford have uncovered the next premier league star in Ollie Watkins. He works hard and has great pace, can shoot and as he did last night score with headers too. He will now be the first name on the team sheet. Romaine Sawyers was also impressive, not only with his midfield play but also his ability to track back and defend. His partnership with Watkins was excellent and this can only improve.
  2. Yennaris had an unmemorable game both as captain and midfield player. He did so little and we have far better options on the bench and also in the B team. The sad news about Ryan Woods family also gives real perspective to all this.
  3. During pre-season one imagines that the manager would try out various defensive combinations and formations and decide upon a first choice. That seems far from the truth as the central defenders last night were the two whom were on the bench for the Forest debacle. Dean did give leadership and is our best central defender. Barbet however is not. He is prone to errors and made a critical one early on when the Bees confidence was high, and arguably derailed the Brentford side for the first half. There is no doubt he is a skilful player and he does the long pass better than anyone in the squad, there is much to build on, but as a central defender he would need to reduce massively the number of errors. For me the partnership of Egan ( who also has not impressed this season) and Dean is the one to use moving forward. Bjelland was shall we say not missed.
  4. Maxime Colin had a very decent game at the unfamiliar left back position but a fit Rico Henry will be a bonus when he returns. Henrik Dalsgaard also had a decent game but does need to be aware that he is a right back not right sided midfield player. Am I the only one who worries that his throw ins are illegal?
  5. Jota had a better game, not his best game, but the signs were there of improvement. His lack of form and unpredictability this season is a two-edged sword. Will it discourage suitors from making an offer? Will he regain his form of old if he stays at Brentford and signs a new deal?

On balance this was an encouraging game, but Dean Smith will be well aware that this is little margin between the best and worst teams in the division. If Bees continue to ship goals like this then make no mistake we will be in a relegation battle. This is a team in development but to allow the development defence must be solid.

Thoughts on Team for Bristol City. What are the Brentford fans saying on social media?

As much as it ever can be possible , Bees fans on social media seem united that some changes need to be made for tuesday but there is no need for panic. To summarise what has been posted and discussed since the weekend:

  1. Although Bees will always score goals there was concern over the lack of involvement of Vibe on saturday. Mostly fans agree that Watkins should start and possibly Maupay as well. I feel this criticism of Vibe is a little harsh and although have no objections with polls being posted of the best Bees player in a game, I am against highlighting the worst performing player as was done at the weekend in an online local newspaper poll. Vibe got little or no service and that is down to midfield. My hunch is that Vibe will start upfront but that Watkins will also start behind him in midfield.
  2. Midfield came in for the most criticism , and much of it fair and factual. The return of Woods will be much welcomed and there would be little surprise if the enigma that is Josh McCeahran is on the bench replaced by Watkins. Yennaris did not exactly propel himself towards a starting role tomorrow and Sawyers may take his place.
  3. The defence certainly needs a shake up. The individuals and the system need careful looking at. Concerns are growing over the need for Harlee Dean to be both marshalling the defence and also providing the leadership the team need. Egan did not have a good game on saturday and seemingly has not progressed as one might have hoped. How Dean Smith will call this is difficult to predict, however if Dean and Barbet start it would not be a huge surprise. Bjelland looked slow and predictable on saturday and most fans agree that he is not a first choice centre back at present. Rico Henry did not have a good game at all, but escaped most of the more vehement criticism. One big and interesting question is the right back position. Maxine Colin can be considered unlucky to have lost his place, however Henrik Dalsgaard is a very good and exciting player. The problem is that he was rarely seen in the right back position. For me and others he should play in the team but in a midfield role. Will he get another chance at right back tomorrow? I suspect he will. 1K4A2916
  4. Dean Smith quite rightly has come under scrutiny after two unexpected defeats and the manner of those defeats. Defensive frailty has been the keynote finding in both league games. Another bad result tomorrow will certainly put some pressure on him to turn things around soon. He continues to have both supporters and detractors.
  5. Jota. Without doubt he is an incredible player, but he certainly was not that on saturday. Difficult to speculate why, but transfer rumours cannot ever help matters. I expect to see him back to his best tomorrow .


My prediction tomorrow is a close Brentford win, maybe 2-1 or even 1-0.

Brentford Get A Warning. But how serious is this?

Whatever way Dean Smith tries to explain his way out of the debacle that was a 3-4 home defeat against one of the leagues weaker sides, one needs to put that aside and look realistically at what the fans saw today.

  1. The fans have every right to feel let down by the way that the club has marketed a club that has invested in new players, yet the whole contract  situation has been allowed to plummet to unknown depths. Last seasons captain has essentially been dropped and the captaincy handed ( unsuccessfully it seems) to John Egan who looks increasingly error prone with each game. Our best player, Jota, is potentially at risk of leaving the club. Our best midfielder Ryan woods did not play today with rumours abounding about a bid from Sunderland.
  2. The defence was shambolic. The fans have been saying for many months that the defence needs sorting out. Our best centre back pairing needs determining and generally the feeling is that a defensive coach might be the best signing the club has made. Each and every goal was preventable.
  3. Team selection was frankly wrong. There was no coincidence that Josh McCeachran and Yennaris were removed. They were beyond abysmal. If someone can honestly tell me what either did in the game I would listen avidly.
  4. Dean Smith has a large talented squad at his disposal and his job is to put together a team. Today they were not a team. There was no leader out there and little cohesion. I dare not look at the league table but fear we are bottom, for a reason.

This was unacceptable today. The only bright note was Ollie Watkins who looked a real footballer in development when we came on. I am not a fan of Dean Smith to be frank but hope he can pull this around. To concede 4 goals at home is dreadful. Changes need to be made, and the club needs to decide ( as they do) if they will or will not sell certain players. The uncertainty is a factor in todays result but the main reason for this result is that the team that Smith chose, and built, is at present the worst in the division.

What would I do? 

  1. Decide this week if the club will or will not accept offers for Dean, Woods and Jota. Personally I believe this is the biggest negative dynamic at present. The team hardly played like a real team today.
  2. Decide that Yennaris and McCeachran are not good enough at present and do not select  them on tuesday.
  3. Start Ollie Watkins
  4. Decide on a different centre back pairing. Dean and Barbet possibly.

Bristol City is a big game on tuesday.

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