There have been a few mutterings and imprecations since Saturday’s defeat at Huddersfield about the curse of the Manager of the Month Award, particularly as the loss ended our perfect run of five consecutive victories.
Frankly I put very little store on such superstitions and I would rather put our defeat down to our own failings and, indeed, the good play of our opponents, rather than to any supernatural occurrences.
We are penned in behind the goal at the majority of away games and our view of the game is therefore extremely curtailed and limited, particularly when the play is at the other end, and you are as myopic as I am, and it is amazing how different a perspective you get when you watch the television or Beesplayer recording of the match.
Sometimes it seems that you were, in fact, watching a totally different game.
Those shots that in real time appeared to whistle inches past the post were in reality miles wide and sometimes the pattern and ebb and flow of the game bear no resemblance to what you think you saw live at the stadium.
But in this case nothing I saw on the Football League Show’s in-depth coverage of the match changed the impression that I had formed whilst sitting freezing behind the goal at Huddersfield on Saturday afternoon.
It was a weird match that we could have won by a couple of clear goals, lost by the same margin, or even drawn, rather than ending up losing by the odd goal in three.
And, no, I am not sitting on the fence either.
Control fluctuated throughout the ninety-six minutes of hell-to-leather, nonstop action.
Like two boxers exchanging blows, Brentford had twenty-two efforts on goal and Huddersfield nearly matched us with eighteen.
Both keepers made important saves, Button from Wells when the nippy striker got in behind the straining Tony Craig, and Alex Smithies, the indiarubber man, saved his team on no less than four occasions, from Judges deflected effort, Bidwell’s long range volley, Judge’s curling free kick and finally, Smith’s late angled shot which looked for a moment as if it was going to sneak in at the far post.
It was simply just one of those games.
We had our chances early on to deflate a nervous home team desperately looking for a win, but failed to capitalise, and then went behind to an exceptionally well-crafted goal from Huddersfield that came totally against the run of play.
Our game then fell apart for a spell as we defended poorly and stood off our opponents and we were fortunate not to concede again.
Another belated revival saw us regain the initiative and miss more chances just before half time.
We stood and admired the second goal just after the break and it looked for a while as if we were on the ropes, but we came again after the substitutions and dominated the final twenty minutes without quite managing to make up the two goal deficit.
So, all in all, it was a magnificent game of football which both sides will think that they deserved to win, and we simply have to learn from and not repeat our mistakes rather than worry about curses and similar mumbo-jumbo.
Richard Poole summed it up perfectly:
Let us not forget that even though we lost, these are the kind of games where everyone SHOULD learn a lot.
It’s these type of matches against teams below us in the table where we learn the most, and if we take everything on board this defeat will help make Brentford a more solid team.
These coming games will show our true strength and sort the men out from the boys.
Many keyboard warriors on the message boards are advocating throwing skipper Tony Craig under the bus after what they feel are two indifferent games from the Brentford skipper.
Grant Holt certainly won his battle on Saturday and dominated Craig, who appeared all too easily to be knocked off the ball. The referee allowed Holt total freedom to exploit the dark arts with several late challenges which should surely have been penalised, but all in all, it was not one of Craig’s better games.
Danny Graham also worried him in the first half last weekend with his strength, anticipation and movement and gave Tony a particularly difficult opening forty-five minutes, but he persisted and eventually came out on top of a tricky and experienced opponent.
There was talk under Uwe Rosler of our bringing in a beast of a defender – a Dan Burn beanpole type who would be expected to win everything. Martin Taylor of that ilk had a reasonable loan spell with us early last season, but nothing else materialised until the eventual arrival in January of the far more cultured James Tarkowski.
Andre Gray showed that Burn, for all his aerial prowess, is vulnerable on the floor when he led the Fulham defender a merry dance recently, and given Mark Warburton’s determination to play a style of football that demands that every player is comfortable on the ball and able to pass it accurately and fluently I cannot see us being in the market for that type of player.
Craig is calm and composed in possession, with the ability to switch play with accurate long passes to the right wing, and I do not think that he will easily be jettisoned by the management particularly given his left-footedness, which helps provide us with more balance at the back.
Harlee Dean has been playing out of his skin throughout November and although I felt he was sub-par on Saturday as Wells and Holt got the better of our central defensive duo, it would be harsh in the extreme to recall James Tarkowski quite yet.
James and Harlee played together earlier in the season after Craig’s suspension but their partnership did not look the equal of the Dean/Craig or indeed the Tarkowski/Craig combinations.
A difficult conundrum for Warburton and David Weir to mull over throughout the coming week.
They might also look to refresh the midfield area where Stuart Dallas, Jota and Tommy Smith have all mightily impressed when coming off the bench recently and are clamouring for a starting position. Sam Saunders too is looking for some increased game time.
Has Toumani’s magic spell ended and is he returning to the ranks of the mere mortals?
Does young Jon Toral, who has punched well above his weight since his recent introduction to the first team, need a rest and to be taken out of the firing line for a brief period?
Could Jota spell Alex Pritchard for a game or two, particularly at home?
Will Alan Judge try too hard next Saturday to impress his former employers at Blackburn Rovers?
Does Jonathan Douglas need the odd day off in order to retain his sharpness?
Does Mark Warburton simply leave well alone as Saturday saw Brentford play an unchanged team for the third game in a row?
This will certainly be an interesting week at the training ground and I wait next Saturday’s team announcement at quarter past two with keen anticipation.
At this moment I would guess that there will indeed be a couple of changes and I would welcome everybody’s viewpoint as to which players he should select.
I will finally remind everybody to keep a sense of perspective as for all the things we got wrong on Saturday, we did so much right too, and could easily have scored four goals.
Our recent record is not too shabby either!
Oh, and just to dispel all thoughts of that Manager of the Month nonsense, who can tell me which Brentford managers have won this coveted award since 1970 and which one of them has won it the most times in that timeframe?
A small prize will be awarded to anybody who provides me with the correct answers.