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Beesotted contributor Jim Levack responds to Billy Grant’s article – . Levack feels it is too simplistic to put Brentford’s form simply down to a simple theory when mitigating factors such as refereeing displays, recruitment and lack of strength of depth should also come into play.

In an era when managers, players and club owners are scrutinised to within an inch of their lives, it beggars belief that match officials can still act with arrogant impunity each week. There’s little doubt in my mind that referee Simon Hooper had a major influence on the outcome of the Cardiff game, such was his frankly jaw-dropping incompetence.

But far more worrying than the official’s staggering inconsistency – awarding the softest of penalties, waving away at least two nailed on ones at the other end and then failing to book Kaikai’s assailant on the edge of the box – is the fact that some Bees fans are happy to ignore the fact that he affected Brentford’s performance.

Mr Hooper was arguably the worst, or at least most myopic, referee I’ve seen at Griffin Park since Alf Grey all but pulled on a Sheffield United shirt in 1976.

Despite his game-changing role in Saturday’s match he will slink off into the shadows with no questions to answer, to no doubt ruin someone else’s weekend next time round. The Football League should be open and transparent and let fans know he will be ‘rested’ or ‘dropped down a division’… just as players are.

As someone for whom every home game means a 200 miles round trip, I’m known for being vociferous about the growing band of referees who see themselves as bigger than the game . I don’t mind if we don’t win, as long as we put in a performance and the referee’s part in proceedings passes largely unnoticed.

So when I read Billy’s comment piece about the refusal to accept mediocrity on the pitch, I was a little surprised that Beesotted were appearing to gloss over the ineptitude of Mr Hooper to instead focus on the deficiencies of the squad, and by inference Dean Smith (the referee was poor. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that we have also been sub-standard. To focus on the referee’s performance is to gloss over the team’s non-performance – Ed).

And then it got me wondering whether he has a point… and to be honest, I think he does and he doesn’t.

He does because clearly the performances of late haven’t hit the previously stellar heights in terms of slick, fluent football that we played with the likes of Jota, Pritchard, Judge, Gray, Dallas and Co in the side. But the clue to why lies in the second part of that sentence.

While we’ve bought in some decent players, we clearly haven’t strengthened after each window as we were promised and we don’t seem to have the same clout in the loan market that we did under Warburton.

Dean Smith knows exactly the areas that need strengthening and if Scott Hogan leaves, he – and more importantly the Directors of Football – will be facing a migraine to avoid mediocrity when it comes to attacking options.

When I read Billy’s piece I have to admit I was seriously concerned as he has always preached moderation, patience and an awareness of where we are at, largely echoing the views of Matthew Benham. Where we are at now is pretty much where we deserve to be given the recruitment in the summer (I would like to think I’m massively patient. And as has been indicated in the editorial below, I know that even if we play at the top of our game, we are a Top 8 team at best. On paper the difference between 8th and 14th is nothing. So should us as fans be be overly worried? Probably not. However, if we are paying good money each week to watch football, we would like our team to at least try and play to their full potential and give us something to shout about  – Ed)

His ‘mediocrity’ article suggests a slight disconnect with Mr Benham, which is in itself disturbing. But more worryingly it fails to acknowledge the – to my mind – obvious reason why we do, at times, look mediocre this season (Not sure what this has to do with anything and why does it disturb? It’s a personal opinion. Who knows what MB is thinking. MB for all we know may be thinking the same. Maybe someone will ask him in the not too distant future – Ed).

It’s not rocket science guys… it’s because we simply haven’t got stronger in each window. FACT (Interestingly, we have only 4 points less than we did in our Championship playoff season at this moment in time. That season we came into Christmas off the back of a really strong run too – Ed)

And despite what some may think, there’s only so much any manager can do with a squad that I feel is missing two or three ingredients to turn it into the top six side that Billy would like us to be.

Any football fan with knowledge of the game can see where Brentford are lacking – pace and/or guile on the flanks, a second goalscorer and a defensive midfielder – yet repeatedly these areas remain unaddressed so we now face a situation where we will face a mad rush in a market that knows we’re loaded should Hogan depart next month.

Billy’s spot on – we’ve looked mediocre at times and the 5-0 spanking at Norwich was inexcusable, but to apply a logical formula to who should win games in the Championship is a little naïve. Anyone can beat anyone in this league.

The inference of the article is that Dean Smith and the coaching team are getting only mediocre responses from their squad – yet there’s no mention of the Directors of Football at whom the same mediocrity accusation should surely be levelled if we are, reluctantly, going down that route.

I’d urge anyone who thinks we’re mediocre right now to look at the best judge of a strong squad – the subs’ bench – now and a year or so ago. I rest my case.

If we look mediocre, then the transfer and equally critical loan policy is where the spotlight should be focused… oh, as well as the string of dreadful refs who seem determined to favour the so called big clubs.

Jim Levack

Billy Grant’s response: In response to Jim’s article above as he take the opportunity to reference my article a number of times, I hasten to emphasise that the focus of my article was to drive home the fact that I believe that as a starting 11, we have the players to deliver a top 10 finish in The Championship easily. They have shown us – when they can be bothered – they have the ability to play good football. We’ve taught teams flying high like Brighton and Reading footballing lessons this season. The problem I have is the acceptance of mediocrity. Almost as if we feel don’t deserve to be there. Or don’t deserve get the result. We are apologetic when we lose a match we should have got points from. Where is the belief?

And this has nothing to do with strength in depth. This to me is a shrouded way of saying that our players are not good enough. Everyone was raving about our players at the back end of the season when we were winning games for fun and playing great football. Bentley. Colin. Woods. Hogan. Class players. Would anyone have put money on Vibe going from hero at the back end of last season to zero this season? People also seem to forget that our squad was threadbare two seasons ago. We had a great first team but we were also lacking strength in depth. Two or three injuries to first team players and our season would have been very different. We were lucky that year with injuries. 

I feel overall our players are good enough to take on the likes of Birmingham and Preston and Leeds and Norwich on their day. We should be able to beat all of the teams from the top 10 down to Rotherham in bottom place on paper. And we should be able to give any team from 4th place to 10th a good battle. Yes give a good battle – doesn’t matter if we lose – and us fans, who don’t ask for much, are happy.

I admit that the top 3 is way out of our reach (even if we did beat Brighton). And we are too inconsistent to say we deserve a top 6 place in May. But on the flip side, are you telling me that 5th place Leeds United and 6th place Sheffield Wednesday are on their day any better than us when we actually decide to turn up? We should easily finish in the top 10. Not if we keep making excuses for dropping points we won’t. 

My article is highlighting the fact that we need to be bolded. Show some body language. And say we are going to WIN against Norwich on Saturday as nothing else is acceptable. Already, I can see the excuses piling up.

“They’re a premier league side-in-waiting”
“The referee was poor”
“We didn’t have a strong enough bench”

That’s all nonsense in my book.

If we don’t have the balls to go out there, take on teams like Norwich – who will be quite literally walking into Griffin Park on their knees – and dispose of them good and proper …. then we may as well cash out our season tickets now for the second half of the season and come back in August for the next round. 

Billy Grant
To read the original article –  – click this link