Football is an emotional game and being a fervent supporter of almost any club means that you have to experience both the highs and the lows on a regular basis.
It is therefore so easy to over react and quickly lose sight of your sense of perspective so I make it a firm rule never to comment on a game when emotions are still running high immediately after the final whistle at a time when initial superficial and kneejerk reactions can so easily dominate and overrule common sense and clear judgement.
More often than not once everything has calmed down, you have taken a few deep breaths and sufficient time has passed to reflect on what occurred in a more measured manner, things can look a lot different to how they initially appeared the previous day.
It is also pointless to change your mind repeatedly about a team from match to match simply depending upon the result as many other factors come into play. In other words, they lost last week therefore they are useless, but they won the next game, so they are all heroes again.
I think we are all running the risk of falling into this trap at the moment when we consider what we are currently watching on the pitch at Brentford.
The knives were out recently when we lost three games in a row to the likes of Brighton, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County and barely laid a glove on any of them and many supporters felt that we were in free fall.
We desperately needed some points on the board against Wolves in midweek in order to boost our flagging confidence and help ensure that we kept a safe distance between us and the stragglers at the foot of the Championship table.
We were fortunate indeed to come across a team as inept as we had been in our previous few matches just at the right time and we easily beat quite the worst team I have seen this season, and one that made the donkeys of MK Dons appear like Real Madrid in comparison.
One swallow does not make a summer and yet many rabid and one-eyed fans on social media and the message boards alike saw this win as a massive turning point and perhaps even as the precursor to a late run on the outside towards the playoffs rather than recognising it for what it really was, simply a much needed and long awaited opportunity for us to fill our boots against another average team like us on a bad run and having a particularly awful evening.
Credit to the Bees, they did not look a gift horse in the mouth and took full advantage and were not flattered by the margin of their victory.
But did it change anything?
In my opinion, not a jot or iota.
I certainly thought that we would have more chance of winning points against the likes of Wolves, Rotherham and Charlton than had been the case against the top teams, but as yesterday’s abject, weak and dispirited show against relegation favourites Rotherham clearly demonstrated, we are and will likely remain a soft touch and a poor or average team at best for the remainder of the season.
I was desperately praying and hoping that yesterday would show a new side of the Bees and that we would use the confidence gained from Tuesday’s victory to show some fire in our belly, fight fire with fire, stand up to the long ball barrage and onslaught of a typical Neil Warnock team desperate for the three points and scrap and win the right for us to play our football and eventually let our undoubted skill do the talking.
That was not the case as depite dominating possession we did little with it, allowed ourselves to be pushed back and then wilted under the unrelenting pressure and conceded two utterly avoidable goals both totally down to appalling defending firstly by O’Connell and then by Canos.
Judge benefited from a soft and bizarre penalty decision to score from the rebound after Camp saved his weak spot kick, but the unexpected fillip of an equaliser right on half time was frittered away and did not give us the impetus to take the game to a home team that came out after the break still seething from the perceived injustice of the award.
Instead we allowed Rotherham to take the initiative, pen us deep in our own half and their pressure finally told, helped it must be said by poor defending by Canos and aided and abetted by a referee who had stood firm before the break but finally wilted under the pressure of a vociferous home crowd and who gave us absolutely nothing in the second half as the ball kept coming back into our half and we were never able to impose our preferred style of play upon the game.
What was particularly worrying was the number of aerial duels that we lost in our own penalty area as we were totally outmuscled, and also how infrequently we won the crucial second ball.
Brentford allowed themselves to be drawn into a battle, a fight to the death with a team desperate for the points and one that was always going to overpower us as we gently subsided to defeat and proved, yet again, that this team is totally incapable of scrapping for a result.
Swift and Hofmann between them ludicrously missed a glaring opportunity to equalise straight after we went behind and the game drifted away from us as the home team held on for a fully deserved victory and we rarely threatened to pull a late rabbit out of the hat until Vibe missed two last gasp chances to salvage something from the mess.
Everything that we already know about this current squad was reinforced yesterday.
- We are rarely able to keep a clean sheet
- We defend set pieces appallingly
- An overworked back four receives little cover and support from the midfield
- You have to win the second balls – and we don’t
- There is barely a tackle in any of our midfield and we have a soft underbelly, and as I said last week, far too many chihuahuas and barely a pit bull in the team
- We miss the influence of Alan McCormack terribly – that in itself is an indictment of just how weak we are
- When the going gets tough half the team disappears and we are so easily bullied out of a game and are vulnerable to any team that attempts to outbattle us
- We pretty much depend upon one man, Alan Judge, to both create and score goals
- We do not have a striker worthy of the name
- We have forgotten how to score late goals
- For all our possession we create so very little and are powderpuff in attack
- It is rare that we press as a team to win the ball back in key areas of the pitch
- Our ratio of goals to shots on target is poor in the extreme
- Despite the odd glimmer recently we rarely threaten or score from set pieces
- Without Tarkowski we lack the ability to move or pass the ball out incisively from the back and beat the opposition press
- We need to show some patience as the squad is packed full of young, callow and inexperienced players still finding their way in this division but the best two, in Swift and Canos might well be playing elsewhere next season
In sum, nothing has really changed since the dog days of January. We still have a weak and over matched squad largely lacking in pace, goals, experience, strength, determination, invention, desire and quite frankly, although it pains me to say this – balls.
All that is different is that thankfully we do not have too many of the promotion challengers left to play. What remains to be seen is how we stand up to the teams fighting for their life down at the bottom of the table.
From the evidence of yesterday, we might well capitulate to anybody who really wants to win and does not allow us any time to settle on the ball, and despite how appalling they are, I fear for us next weekend if Charlton employ the same tactics as Rotherham.
Charlton have also come up with a gem in the loan market with the pacy and skilful Yaya Sanogo from Arsenal and he could well lead us a merry dance next weekend if we are not careful.
I am pretty certain though that we will play enough uninterested teams, like us, merely going through the motions to ensure that we finish the season safe and sound in lower midtable mediocrity.
We desperately need to rebuild and examine carefully some of the blatant errors in recruitment that have been made this season and at some point soon I will go through the entire squad and give you my opinion on who will or should remain and who is likely to depart.
That, and the key question regarding how well we are likely to recruit fresh blood this Summer, is for the future though, and the squad now has a week to reflect upon their myriad inadequacies and shortcomings and then prepare to put on a performance next Saturday in what will be a tough and keenly contested local derby against an equally desperate Charlton team.
Are we up for the fight and this time, can we impose our style of football upon yet another team mired in a relegation battle?
I hope that the players’ ears are burning from the tongue-lashing that I expect they will receive after the Rotherham disappointment and every Brentford supporter can simply hope that we will put on an acceptable performance next Saturday.