The Press Association’s Brentford reporter Jim Levack was delighted by the Norwich defeat
After almost 30 years of covering nearly every home game, I was asked to step aside to make way for one of the Press Association’s regional sports hacks for the Norwich match.
It was an enlightening experience and one that allowed me to stand alongside my mates without taking notes or mentally preparing possible intros for the next day’s national papers.
It also gave me a chance to think about the game not just in terms of the usual football journalist clichés, but as an impassive observer… yeah right!
It was strange to leave the ground with the thronging crowds and get back to my home in the Midlands before midnight for a change, without having to compile 1,000 words of copy in the press room.
Even more unusual, and slightly weird, was that I drove home after a 3-0 beating absolutely delighted by what I’d seen. My smile was so wide when I got home that my wife thought we had won.
In decades of watching Brentford I have rarely seen a slicker, more impressive, high tempo yet technical display than in that first hour against Norwich.
My recent fears of our slow starts to matches in the Championship were eased as we competed well with the former Premiership side and went on to scare the lives out of them.
At half time, after a few half chances went begging, I quietly feared that we were having done to us what we did to many sides last season… keep it deadlocked to the break before the slow extraction of the venom before a killer strike to the jugular.
Norwich were as efficient exponents of it as we were last term, and they were worth the win for the clinical way they executed the game-plan.
But there were so many positives that I saw hardly any Brentford fans leaving early to beat the traffic, all staying to salute a superb performance, and of course, wave farewell to the referee.
Tim Robinson’s intervention in the game was pivotal and epitomised the fine margins Mark Warburton repeatedly talks of, but it is something Brentford have to learn to deal with fast.
Their reluctance to get on with the game after the Pritchard penalty and circling of the official effectively led to the second goal as City just got on with it.
Robinson got it wrong and probably cost Brentford the game, but had we similarly got on with it, it might have stayed at 1-0 with more opportunities to level to come.
This Brentford side are quick learners as we have seen already this season, and I am sure they will learn the lessons that a misplaced pass can prove costly or a lapse in concentration lethal.
But I’d hate the otherwise immaculate James Tarkowski to dwell on it so much that he starts to think too hard about every ball, because that is when the kind of flowing football we’ve been loving starts to unravel.
Ditto Andre Gray, my kind of striker. Goalpoacher, great movement, strong, quick with a big fat arse to help hold the ball up. He will only get better and looks like the steal of the season and as he gets to know the division better, those half chances will be buried.
It would be far too easy to blame everything on the referee. Far better to look at the few minor shortcomings we need to wipe out and simply move on to Boro and beyond.
Warburton’s recent programme notes decrying those who say they’d be happy with a 21st place finish delighted me and give me hope that Tuesday night’s result isn’t dwelled on too much.
The learning curve in the first half of the season will be steep, but if Brentford play like they did in the first 60, many teams will find it hard to live with them as Norwich boss Neil Adams graciously admitted.
Yes, it would be lovely if referees could see their way clear to abandoning their ‘love-ins’ with the so-called big clubs, but it ain’t going to happen. We’ve seen enough already this season to know that.
So we will just have to beat the 12 instead… and you know what they say, you’re often more effective when you’re a man down.