Arcticterntalk.org

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 tag “work”

Premiership Football Is Killing Itself And I Do not Care


In a week when Griffin Park was packed for a superb game also televised live on Sky in which Brentford beat Aston Villa 2-1 the nonsense in the premiership has reached new heights. It is not just me but friends who are premiership season ticket holders are saying the same. IMG_6586

Lets take a look at events over only the last few days.

  1. Liverpool have signed an attitudinal centre back from Southampton for £75 million who is 26 years old on a 5.5 years deal for £180,000/week.
  2. Man City have effectively won the Premiership already in 2017 almost 5 months before the season ends having spent 134£ million in the summer alone and having won 18 straight fixtures. To try and combat this avalanche teams adopt an ultra-defensive mode when playing against them. The Newcastle side gave an incredibly defensive performance to lose 1-0 at home, in which in the first 30 minutes they always had 11 players behind the ball. How can anyone in the 52,000 crowd have been entertained by that? Certainly on Sky it was a tedious, predictable and boring game. Man City have now won 19 of their 20 premiership games and lead the title race by 15 points from Man Utd and are 21 points ahead of the team in 5th position. Is this ultimately good for football?
  3. Yet another football charged with assault. Jon Flanagan of Liverpool. Is this because they are inherently violent and unpleasant people ? Or maybe that footballers generally think themselves far superior to the football fans who pay to watch them?  Either way there has been a litany of never ending ( often alcohol-fuelled) events leading to court appearances and sometimes jail.

 

My team is Brentford and I have watched them for over 50 years. This is real football, played by real players and watched by real fans ( often in the pouring rain as was the case Boxing Evening versus Aston Villa). Things are never boring, there is little certainty in the Championship which side will win or lose, and this makes football a real game. 00001421

Money is ruining Premiership football and I could rant for hours over how the small clubs could benefit from more handouts from TV etc, however it is not going to happen. However if we reach a stage where the top 5 teams are the same every season, Man City always win the league  and the other teams are also-rans, then fans will lose interest. It may be in 5 or 10 or 20 years, in which case things will change. Why is the NFL and AFL so popular in USA? The whole system of player recruitment and wage caps is equitable and makes for a stable set of teams, changing annually . This is actually what football fans want, not to see a game where one side at home has 11 players behind the ball constantly for half the game. IMG_6587

Were Aston Villa that bad? Or were we that good? Thoughts after the night before


A very wet evening heralded an excellent game of football that even torrential rain could not dampen nor actually have much effect. A sell out crowd of 12,000 including 1,600 Villa fans saw an end to end game that at times could have gone in any direction. IMG_6569

The scoresheet will confirm that Brentford won 2-1 but that hides a lot of the game. The few minuscule words that The Times chose to post about the game really were both clueless and gave their readers no feeling of anything about the game. So lets go back to the start. Brentford have a whole series of injuries that have disrupted their starting eleven for around 2 months now, yet even with players out of position and squad players coming in, the results have been quite superb. So looking at some of  the players who were absent from last night: Egan, Henry, Dalsgaard, it is clear that the Bees defence was not first, nor second choice but maybe third choice. Nico Yennaris at right back and Joann Barbet at left back, two players not always first choice this season, playing out of their regular positions. On paper this was a team that Villa managed by the ever increasing frame of Steve Bruce should have been looking to beat comfortably. Certainly thats the view from their hordes of fans on social media. In fact Brentford looked the most comfortable they have all season in defence, with the exception of the Villa goal scored too easily. 00000513

Brentford have turned into a hard working and maybe fitter side than earlier in the season, and are playing as a team. They are also some of the best football I have seen at Griffin Park over the years. The players have a game plan and it works. The return from injury of Sergi Canos has been crucial as has the return to form of Florian.

The pitch is now in excellent condition considering the recent weather and rainfall, and yet this is Brentford, were before the game smiling stewards were trying to sweep away the rain behind the New Road stand but at a slower pace than the rain that was falling!

The return of Alan Judge to the bench was warmly applauded and we might expect to see him starting a game soon.

My impression of Villa was actually positive. They were a hard working team in the first half and probably shaded the game on points. Always a threat when coming forward but as the game went on they failed to have a plan B and arguably gave up after Lasse Vibe’s 52nd minute winner. The last 10 minutes were the usual panic stations and especially as both Brentford central defenders were off the pitch with bloody head injuries, with goal line saves keeping Villa out. 00000487

Despite negative comments on social media my impression was they are a side that will be in the playoffs. The fans are shouting to maybe have Bruce out but they might look at their alternatives and instead stick with him. Do they really want a Pulis, Warnock or Pardew? Their football was not as good as Brentford and on the night it showed, but on other nights they will beat similar teams because of their speed in attack and physical size. What however surprised Brentford fans was the odd role given to Hogan. We know he is a good player, but we also know he is a confidence player, and a player that needs service in the box. He could slot back in at Brentford in the correct role and start scoring goals again. But a real lesson for not only Villa but also Birmingham and Norwich, do not just buy the best player, but look at the system they have been operating in and why they have been the best player. The simple reason why Canos, Jota and Hogan have not flourished after leaving Brentford. IMG_6583

The football played by Brentford was superb last night, there were no defensive errors ( bar one that we got away with) and we made good substitutions at the right time. The other thing we learned last night was that we do need to give Lasse Vibe a new contract. For me he has vastly improved this last 2 years and has at least another 2 years left of Championship football. He also is a stable influence on the side and is likely to feature in the World Cup in 2018. Nico Yennaris for me had his best game in a Brentford shirt, not only his positional sense but his cajoling and encouraging his team colleagues. Could this be his best position? I would not be alone in thinking that Henrik Dalsgaard would be better in midfield . Chris Mepham was superb and a casual observer would be surprised to learn he has only started a handful of games. Sergi Canos had a superb game despite his Malfoy like hairstyle, and is getting better by the game. Romaine Sawyers also had one of his best games and also looking better each game. Even Keith Stroud had an average game, when our expectations are that he will ruin any spectacle. A question to ask him is his interpretation of the advantage rule though.

Villa do not need to panic and although automatic promotion is beyond them, the playoffs certainly are not. Their hope might be that they do not meet Brentford there. This was one of the great nights under the lights at Griffin Park and when we move to Lionel road this is what we will miss.

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Brentford v Barnsley. What did we learn from this festival of football? Talking points


  1. Never knowingly watch Barnsley ever again. Another club in the lower reaches of the championship  who seem to think that mathematically drawing each game 0-0 will preserve their league status. The time wasting tactics we saw yesterday ranging from their goalkeeper wasting time two minutes into the game, and  added to by curious injury delays towards the end, were very much old league four behaviours. Simply dire.  As a footballing side they were adequate when trying to come forward but little better than that. In 2017 this kind of gamesmanship has no place and one wonders of the mentality of manager Paul Heckingbottom or his assistant Jamie Clapham.
  2. Never undertake the role of Barnsley performance analyst (Alex Bailey, what exactly do you analyse? Minutes of time wasted when score 0-0?)
  3. Brentford are not improving at knowing how to unlock defensive minded teams. We are a far better side in terms of skin levels yet seemingly not any better than teams like Sunderland, Burton and Barnsley, with disappointing home draws in recent weeks. The team seems not set up to do this and importantly no sign of a Plan B either.
  4. Josh McCeahran had a poor game and is not suited to playing in front of the defensive unit. He did not tackle and gave the ball away in highly dangerous situations. This was a curious decision by Dean Smith. It is difficult to argue that he should be starting games as he also offered little in attacking options either.
  5. Team selection and tactics. To put Kamo and Nico on the bench was perhaps an odd selection. Players need to be played who are in form and both are in the best performing 11 players at present. Ryan Woods is out of form and this worries me as is reminiscent of the form of players like Tarkowski and Toumani shortly before their departures. Why is Florian not playing? A player in good form and a set ball expert. There is plenty of room for both Sergio and Florian in the same team. 00000198
  6. Route one football at Brentford? We have never been known for this style of football. Our current squad are also not suited not frankly capable of playing this way, yet against Barnsley and Burton, for periods of the game this was our style. Justin Shaibu is the only squad member capable potentially of playing in this style ( and why has he not been on the bench recently?).
  7. Neal Maupay. Enigma or unlucky? The season has not gone well for him and some fans are starting to turn on him. He should have scored more goals but yesterday his level of service was zero. He is not a midfielder yet was having to win the ball to be able to do anything with it. For me he has the potential but needs the team set up to provide far more crosses into the box. He also I suspect is a confidence player.
  8. Is Dean Smith getting the best from his squad? Putting aside the few folks with persistent negative views, others are questioning his team selection, tactics and ability to out manoeuvre the opposition, especially when changes need to be made during the game. His choice of central defenders have come under scrutiny  and I am a critic here too. Our central defence is the weakest for many seasons regardless of international players we have playing there. As an ex-central defender he must see that too and I would like to see changes in the transfer window.
  9. Are we going anywhere this season? My opinion is not. We are a mid-table side. We will not make the top six, and unlikely to be in the bottom six either. We should take this opportunity to blood the youngsters or move them on. Chris Mepham should be starting and Ilias should be given a run of 4-6 games to assess potential.
  10. Why do the half-time draw sellers stand both outside the gents toilet ( for their sake, the smells are not lovely) and blocking the entrance to the steps up into the stand in New Road?  I do not much like this way of making a minuscule amount of money and £2 a ticket is a lot of money frankly for a small prize. The simplest way to make a sensible amount of money would be to make catering available to supporters in their seats in the stands. Trays of hot drinks and burgers etc. All priced sensibly maybe with pre-paid vouchers. To sell 300 extra hot drinks and 300 extra burgers would make a decent amount of money and provide a service.
Neal Maupay

Neal Maupay

Brentford 2 Southampton 2. A competitive entertaining pre-season game. What did we learn?


A decent crowd turned up to watch a surprisingly competitive pre-season game that saw Bees use their new signings. A draw was a fair result with each side donating a goal. Brentford looked the sharper side early on and scored with a nicely worked goal from Vibe.  Two Charlie Austin goals put the visitors in front before a howler from the fierce looking Fraser Forster gifted Brentford a late but deserved equaliser. goal

So what were the main learnings? Here are my thoughts:

  1. Fans will turn up in decent numbers for a pre-season game especially if the new players are on show
  2. Despite all the rumours Jota looked fit, interested and made a few Southampton defenders look quite silly at times, being allowed to run around them and then across the penalty area. 1K4A2935
  3. I am no expert in physical fitness but for me these players looked far fitter than in previous seasons. The game was played by both teams sensibly, with a few good challenges but nothing rash nor dangerous.
  4. Daniel Bentley looked a class goalkeeper making a couple of excellent saves, whereas Forster looked distinctly rusty.1K4A2921
  5. The Brentford style this year will be an attacking style using the wing and the concern will be not whether we score goals, which we will, but how to concede less. It is complex to read anything into a single game but to me the body language of Harlee Dean was not positive. Is he on his way out? Will it be Barbet and Egan in central defence? Dalsgaard looked solid at full back and Colin had his usual good game. Difficult to predict the right back starter. Good to see Mokotjo defending also as last line of defence. 1K4A2986
  6. Kamo Mokotjo looked good, scary and solid. He reminded me of  Toumani speeded up. He did make a few mistakes but rapidly corrected them. It is hard to see Yennaris getting many games. 1K4A2979
  7. Lasse Vibe is a class player. His hairstyle this year will be curious. Probably still our first choice striker. Neal Maupay and  Ollie Watkins both looked good and created mischief in the Southampton defence. vibe1K4A29331K4A3036watkinsshot2
  8. Florian J looked good too, maybe fitter, quicker and more stylish than last year. florun

 

Brentford fans will be looking forward to the season knowing that the size and strength of the squad means there will be healthy competition for places, and allows for injuries and suspensions. Why will we not be a top 6 side?

A full set of photos can be found on chrisbushephotography.com

 

 

 

 

Cricket at Arundel Castle. Sussex v Leicestershire 2017. The Dogs enjoyed it.


Cricket is an unusual sport in that in the county games it takes four days to get a result (sometimes) and fans generally are less passionate about their own county than in other sports. a nice aspect is that many counties take a few games away from their main headquarters and take them to “out grounds” which are often cricket festivals and well supported. Sadly the crowd this year was smaller than in other years possibly due to the downturn in the success of Sussex cricket club over recent years.

A few photographs from a day in the hot sun. Some action photos including the wicket of Luke Wright, one of the most entertaining batsmen I have seen in 2017. A few folks hiding from the sun and a rather hot dog enjoying the sun. In fact cricket is one of the few sports where dogs are usually welcome and Arundel is am example of a ground with plenty of shade, walking space, and grass. A good place in fact to bring a dog, although this year with temperatures around 25c dogs were mostly seen in the shady areas.

Hot Dog

Hot dog.

No Sun

No Sun Allowed

Arundel Castle Cricket

Arundel Castle Cricket was not at full capacity in 2017

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Piccadilly Ice Creams

The Ice Cream sellers were amongst the most important folks in the ground

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Small wicket

Luke Wright the ex-england batsman is bowled

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Will Beer

A great name for a cricketer. Will Beer.

Ipswich 1 Brentford 1. A good point for Bees but should have been three . Some good signs for next season


Being fortunate enough to photograph the game one gets fairly close to the action and able to see some of the little things that might get missed. Let me start with the highly supportive nature of Dean Smith to all his players after the game, and also the embrace between Toumani and himself.

A fairly wet night and a fairly boggy pitch certainly not of the Griffin Park standard. Ipswich is a very friendly club and when arriving to collect press pass one is greeted by a serious of smiling and mischievous souls in the ticket office, all wearing smart clean blazers and ties. In fact I cannot fault the Ipswich club at all. Nice people, who deserve a good and decent football team. Whether they deserve mick McCarthy as a manger is a separate question. The fans I spoke to were mixed in their views.  Inconsistency of the team was a common theme. As a negative though the entrance price of 35£ for adults is excessive, 25.50£ for concessions, and 24.50£ for under 20. There is no need to charge these prices.

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There are plenty of good match reports online so no need for me to repeat much. This game was not a classic but was fully competitive until the last kick of the game. Although both sides are truly mid-table and arguably satisfied with a point, even in the 4 added minutes both pressed for a winner.

The goal was a nice pass from Romain Sawyers and a neat finish from Yennaris.

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Nico Yennaris scores

Brentford played the better football. Ipswich did a lot of shirt pulling and pushing and a few dubious tackles and manoeuvres . Maybe someone in the FA or the Referees select committee can explain to me how this “rugby league” tackle ( illegal even there and seriously punishable in the NFL in USA) was not given as a foul. The role of assistants talking to the referees arises weekly. How this was not given as a foul against Vibe I am unsure.

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An interesting style of tackling from Ipswich 

Brentford looked well set up with Woods looking more solid and winning more than his share of the 50-50 balls. The full backs looking better with every game. Maxime Colin has improved enormously this season.

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Maxime Colin demonstrating an interesting style of tackling

00007689 Bjelland went off injured, without having an inspiring game, and Barbet came on, who still looks suspect to me. 0000767300007763

Justin Shaibu had 20 minutes and as against Rotherham caused all manner of problems to the Ipswich defence and was unlucky not to score. The days of Hoffmann are truly over and he needs to move on. 000077610000774400007746

So I take away a lot of positivity in this team and performance. The sort of game a while agao that Brentford would not have drawn. The worry remains over the number of goals conceded. This will improve.

Sergi Canos is such an exciting talent and could be a truly great player.

0000770200007703Rico Henry looks a class player and fast coming forward.

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Rico Henry

Do Brentford have the best football mascot? Clearly yes……


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The Beauty of Non-league football. A few photographs from a cold January afternoon


Live football is a great game and can be easily distinguished from the reality TV nonsense that so often represents the fare delivered from the Premiership. Skill levels may be greater in the Premiership but nothing beats seeing and smelling the action from close up.  Things that would seem an anathema to stewards in league football happen weekly in the non-league arena. To put it simply, the rules are sensible. Fans can stand and drink beer on the terraces, fans can often bring well behaved dogs on a lead, fans can purchase good quality food at reasonable prices .

This is football played ny normal people and watched by those who genuinely love the game. To anyone with a camera there are many photo opportunities to observe all manner of real life at football.

Although I often go to non-league football games to watch and photograph the actions and the players, there are also some great images to be had from the fans and officials alike. Here are a few shots taken from the Ryman South game 2nd January 2017 Chipstead v Carshalton Athletic.

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Ciabbata Bread Loaf Ready To Hang on the Wall from Panetteria Italiana Merton


Food sometimes comes in unpredicatable shapes and even an experienced baker was surprised his routine ciabbata came with a picture frame hook ready for hanging on the wall. The best baker in the UK is found at Panetteria Italiana in Merton 6 Merton Hall Rd, Merton, London SW19 3NT0000676200006765

My Breakfast Is Finished Said The Cat. What else do you have for me?


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