Beesotted’s Jim Levack looks back at the online fallout from Tuesday night’s draw with Birmingham City.
Within minutes of full-time, the curtain all but falling on automatic promotion and social media’ in full swing’, I was going to write about the Ivan Toney post.
But after a good night’s kip, any anger at the pathetic, anonymous, gutless, ignorant, spineless waste of skin responsible had turned to pity.
The perpetrator, possibly not even a Brentford fan but definitely a vile racist, really doesn’t deserve the skin off the fingers I’d waste fuelling his desperate need for validation.
The sooner he slinks back into the primordial slime he emerged from, the better – and we can all get on with the business of being decent human beings and enjoying what we’ve got.
The lowlife’s moment of glory – its zero followers speaks volumes – is though a sickening and depressing reflection of the world we now live in.
A world where even some of the right-minded, reasonable Brentford fans I’ve known for many years now see fit to issue glib condemnation as they leap aboard the social media bandwagon.
Sure, they’re entitled to their opinions but far too often they speak from either a position of utter ignorance or a blind refusal to accept hard fact.
I’ve never once written something publicly that I wouldn’t say to a player or manager’s face and be able to rationally justify.
But rational justification seems to have gone out the window in this hideous new era where everyone is a self-appointed expert, their views fuelled by passion and given in the heat of the moment.
It’s vile and although it reflects the emotion of the game, it flies in the face of the ‘be nice’ mantra that so many of the same people are quick to fire at their critics.
We’ve all got a take on whether we’re in a “blip or a slump” as one reporter put it, and yes, Thomas Frank, the Directors of Football, the players must come under the spotlight. But it’s how you do it that sets us decent fans apart from the Instagram amoeba.
As I left the ground, I bumped into a member of the Brentford back-room staff and we walked to our cars together.
I had no notebook so much of what follows is from memory, but he launched into an impassioned 15-minute list of facts that go some way to explaining the current situation and give interesting context.
“We had two weeks off after the play off final and some players have had no time off in three years. We’ve played around 70 games in the last calendar year and I’m pretty certain that’s one of the most in the country.
There was no pre-season tour to bond and Covid has changed everything because we’ve done it by the book and adhered to regulations in terms of distancing while there are plenty of clubs that haven’t.
We take two or the coaches to away games to ensure we stick to the EFL requirements but other clubs (he named them) turn up in one. Should we be doing that? If we did we’d be sending the message that we don’t care about our players’ welfare.
At the training ground we don’t have large communal group meetings, there’s no chance for players to have a coffee together as a large group or even eat together.
It’s been really tough for young foreign players over here and alone in lockdown and the condensed season has not helped in terms of physical and mental fatigue.
People seem to think that because X or Y was superb last season they will just continue getting better, but development doesn’t work like that.
Then there’s the parachute payments for clubs who drop down from the Premier League and they make a massive difference. Those sides can strengthen with the money they get for failing.
We keep in touch with a lot of the boys who leave Brentford and many of them say they wish they were still here. It’s a club like no other but they only discover that once they’ve gone.
At one stage we were thrilled to have one youth international, now we’ve got more than a dozen full internationals, we’re third in the Championship and we’ve sold two players for £60 million. But it’s still not enough for some.
Clubs like Birmingham and Sunderland would bite our hands off to swop places with us, but it’s still not enough because we’ve drawn four games. The League Cup Semi final is all but forgotten.
It’s all about perspective and being realistic but unfortunately in this world of social media those are two qualities that don’t get a look in.
Frankly Brentford fans should take a step back and look at where they’ve come from before going on social media or some of the message boards and giving knee-jerk reactions.”
I’ve recently felt the need to question Thomas’s starting line-up, substitutions and their timings, and accept I’m lucky to be able to ask him direct. He always answers with good grace even if sometimes you get a politician’s response.
Above all he is a good man and a decent human being who has that most important thing in life… perspective.
He is calm and pragmatic and believes in his vision – stubbornness to the internet experts. Maybe that, and possibly the fear of being crucified on the cross of social media, is why he hasn’t been more gung-ho in recent weeks.
Now though is the time to be brave/experiment, because I genuinely believe Bees fans would rather see us ensure a play-off spot having a bloody good go and finding form than for the season to peter out with a whimper.
If a more vibrant attacking starting XI – why not Sergi and Tariqe as wing backs or even Vitaly at left back? – didn’t work, at least he would silence the critics.
That and maybe even going two up top to take the heat off Ivan who is now actively seeking clashes with his increasingly aware markers rather than seeking to affect games, might be the jolt we need.
But, as someone said in the aftermath of last night “we’re all managers aren’t we?”.
And that, I fear, is where much of the social media maelstrom comes from… but come on Brentford fans, don’t be an Insta-scumbag. Keep it positive and ask yourself ‘would I say what I’m about to post publicly to Ivan/Bryan/Mads Bech/Vitaly if he was my brother son or cousin?’