I have been thinking about picking and choosing my away games this season given my other commitments and a determination to have a bit of a life outside Brentford.
Unfortunately I allowed myself to be enticed by the allure of six points and two decent performances at home in the last week and took myself off to Rotherham.
Having watched the Bees play and manage to lose in all sorts of idiotic manners over the years, defeats on their own do not necessarily upset me as I am totally inured to them.
What matters to me so much more is the way we play and whether or not we deserve to get something out of a game.
My verdict on today’s 1-0 defeat at Rotherham is short and not very sweet.
We lost to probably the worst team in the Championship, assuming of course that our last two decent performances were not a mere flash in the pan.
Rotherham were limited, lacked flair or much ability on the ball but played within their limitations, got the ball forward as quickly as they could and tackled and pressed like demons. They were happy to let us play unhindered in our own half but formed two solid banks of four that we struggled to penetrate.
Most of their chances came from our giving the ball away or over elaborating, most noticeably when Vibe dithered just outside our box, gave the ball away to Brown and was only rescued by a stupendous save by Bentley. The goal came when a simple through ball caught us square and appealing in vain for offside as Ward ran through to score easily. Close but it appeared just onside to me. There looked as if there had been a foul on Hogan as the move developed but nothing was given.
They always tried to get the ball into the area quickly, something we could learn from.
Brentford started poorly and got worse and took nearly twenty minutes to put together a move of any note but one that should have counted when Colin was put away and his low centre was stabbed inches wide by Vibe who missed a gilt edged chance. From time to time we clicked and moved the ball with menace and Sawyers almost set up Hogan but the ball slipped away from his feet directly in front of goal.
We played the ball carefully and slowly across the back four going forwards and then back with monotonous regularity with Hogan making a series of runs that were ignored and the ball would eventually be given away.
Macleod and Sawyers ran into blind alleys and Wood and Yennaris, industrious as they were, showed little incision.
In short we got nowhere very, very slowly.
Egan did have two headers from corners, one easily saved and he then didn’t get enough on the ball from a great position in front of goal.
The second half meandered on just like the first. Rotherham were happy to sit back content with their lead and confident that we would not hurt them. We totally dominated possession as the stats will show but rarely broke them down.
Hogan’s snap shot hit the keeper and he arched backwards to head inches wide. Late substitute Ledesma was more competent than most and had a last minute shot pushed wide by the seriously underworked Lee Camp.
Bentley too had nothing to do after the break except start us up on yet another attack doomed to go nowhere.
Possession for possession’s sake is no use to anyone and we lacked directness, pace and it has to be said, the bravery to try something different.
I can barely remember any Brentford player trying to beat a man and we always tried to play one pass too many on the edge of the box. Our crossing was execrable, too often hitting the first man.
You have to beat the likes of Rotherham if you are to achieve anything in this league and we can’t even suggest that, as has been the case in previous matches, that they tried to kick us off the pitch because they didn’t.
They were certainly more incisive and determined in the challenge but that was fair enough.
We were simply competent, average and ineffectual and everyone was waiting for someone else to take responsibility and make something happen.
We failed to impose ourselves and we have thrown away three points that were there for the taking.
Talk of challenging for the top six is a mere chimera. Expectations need to be managed and not unrealistically raised. On today’s form we will do well to avoid the bottom half.
Defensively we were OK but wasteful in possession when challenged. Colin was particularly guilty and gave the ball away carelessly and we missed Barbet’s peerless ability to change the direction of the play with a forty yard pass. Elder too needed to get forward more as he offered little threat.
The midfield were all much of a muchness. Competent but uninspired and Sawyers soon drifted out of the game. Macleod too did little to stand out and Vibe frustrated on the right wing, constantly checking back and losing possession. Woods too for all his effort and energy never hurt the opposition neither did Saunders nor McEachran when they came on.
Hogan ran into too many blind alleys and as usual lacked support but was our only real goal threat.
Hofmann was left off the bench today hopefully a hint that will be taken by him and his agent.
At least the powers that be can be under no illusions regarding what we are lacking. Pace, incision and something a little bit out of the ordinary.
We are far too predictable and are solid, well organised, technically competent but are entirely lacking in imagination, originality, pace and directness. A few more bodies in the area would also be very welcome.
You have to make something happen to succeed and today we were far too passive, blunt and uninspired.
Creativity costs money and I think that we are going to have to pull a few rabbits out of the hat before the end of the Transfer Window if this is not to be a long and frustrating first half of the season but are we able to spend money, or indeed should we given our finances? That is a conundrum for the owner.
Despite the negative tenet of my comments a fit Alan Judge or Sergi Canos would go a long way towards making us a decent team. I suspect though that we will have to hope in vain and make do for the most part with what we have.
So today provided more questions than answers but nothing that wasn’t entirely clear before we travelled.
We are a decent, honest and respectable Championship team and for this I rejoice. Are we able, capable or willing to take that next step to improve the squad, address our weaknesses and move into the next level?
Watch this space.