Any impartial and objective observer would have agreed that Brentford fully deserved to win at Elland Road on Saturday. Their margin of victory was narrow and Brentford squeaked home with a single goal from Alex Pritchard. The statistics, though, tell a totally different tale. Brentford dominated possession, attempted and completed far more passes then the opposition, committed less fouls and had more shots on target. David Button walked off the pitch at the end of the game with his kit unblemished, so little had he had to do.
Leeds had appealed in desperation for three penalty kicks, one of which appearing to be a close call but had otherwise only threatened in the last few minutes when they made a desperate late surge towards the Brentford goal and forced a few scrambles which might have gone their way had it not been for some resolute defending. The referee was strong and did not allow himself to be swayed by the baying hordes of home supporters screaming for free kicks and penalties.
Brentford held out for a comfortable win and their only complaint would have been that they had missed a number of gilt-edged chances to make their victory far more conclusive and less stressful right at the end.
Former Leeds hero Eddie Gray fully agreed with this assessment and stated that the best team had won:
I don’t think Leeds were unlucky to lose to Brentford on Saturday.
I thought we should have had a penalty kick in the first half and I thought the referee was very average. But most of the major decisions he got right. Neil Redfearn also thought we should have had a penalty in the second half but I didn’t think that was a penalty kick and that’s just opinions. But I thought we were second best in the game and Brentford deserved to win. Brentford are one of the better teams in the league and we’re not at that level yet I don’t think.
An examination of the Leeds message boards quickly demonstrated that a mere handful of fair minded home fans shared his viewpoint, but even then there was generally a patronising sting in the tail:
I hate reading that Brentford are better than us and we are still a long way behind them. Having supported Leeds United during the Bremner, Giles, Gray era its very hard to accept that Brentford can be better than us. I know its true but it just fills me with sadness. Lets hope we don’t have to wait too long before Super Leeds are back where they belong.
I totally agree with you Eddie, Brentford, were the best side to visit Elland Road this season, they did their home work on Leeds and we did not force a single save from their keeper, but we were worth a point because of our gutsy performance.
There was a sense of disbelief that not only was it ludicrous that a team like Leeds, steeped in history and past glories, should be forced to sully their hands and demean themselves by actually having to play the likes of Brentford but that we should have then fallen down at their feet, paid homage to them and then allowed them to walk all over us.
Just read some of the other comments that more accurately reflected the sour, bitter and twisted mood of the Leeds supporters:
But it’s an indication of where we are at the moment as a club that we can’t beat Brentford.
We are Leeds, we are being victimised by referees
That referee wants kicking out of football – Leeds players were kicked off their feet time and time again – he gave Brentford ALL the free kicks, Austin was thrown to the ground in the penalty area – and he gives Brentford a free kick. I lost count of how many blatant corners we SHOULD have had – the Football League is corrupt.
I never thought I would see the day when Brentford would take six points off us
However, with the assistance of Mr Salisbury and his officiating team, Brentford couldn’t really lose the game.
It wasn’t just the clear penalty that Leeds were denied in the first half that made it an inept performance, but the referee’s clear insistence in giving Leeds absolutely nothing, whilst gifting Brentford a free-kick almost every time a tackle was made.
Although they had possession United rarely troubled Brentford’s keeper but we still didn’t deserve to lose.
Is there any way that the performance of the officials can be examined and questioned by the Football League?
If Leeds were not allowed to play football and were constantly pulled back, then the Football League needs to look at the wider implications of that.
I have never read so much myopic and delusional drivel in my life. Their argument can best be summed up as: we are Leeds, we have a divine right to win and when we don’t then it can only be someone else’s fault, and by the way there is a conspiracy against us too.
Everything about Elland Road was living in the past: The aggressive and one-eyed home fans who bayed at the referee and the away fans throughout the game, the way we were packed away in a distant, dank and dark corner of the ground and ripped off for the privilege, the constant tape loop before the game of, admittedly, great goals from their far and distant past and the distinctly old fashioned and faintly martial club song that resonated around the ground.
Leeds remain in a time warp and are firmly stuck in the early and mid 70’s, a period when they deservedly dominated the English game. It is easier and more comfortable for them to remain there, in their bunker, than take the tougher approach of self-examination and understanding why the world has passed them by. Their fans cannot and will not accept that they have fallen upon hard times through “living the dream” and abject mismanagement as well as the normal cyclical nature of good fortune and success.
They have a well developed sense of entitlement and arrogance which was truly bemusing to witness in the flesh and then read about. And yet, in truth, loyal Leeds supporters deserve far more than they have received over the past decade and more, and their reaction to Saturday’s defeat was simply their coping mechanism as they are totally unable to comprehend that the football world has moved on and their prehistoric tactics and approach have been superseded by a new breed with clubs such as Bournemouth and Brentford at the forefront.
The fact that Brentford took six points from Leeds this season without conceding a goal or barely a shot on target speaks volumes and should be lesson enough for the Leeds fans, but there’s none so blind as those who will not see.