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Beesotted’s Jim Levack reflects on an ill-tempered and eventful afternoon’s entertainment at The Gtech as a patchwork Brentford team frustratingly go down 2-1 to Aston Villa.

Looking back through history, the names Ray Bigger and Alf Grey are enough to send a shudder down the spine of most Brentford fans. If you were there, you know.

Until last weekend that is, when David Coote wrote himself into the match officials’ Hall of Infamy by becoming the most important man on the pitch at the GTech.

It probably wasn’t all his fault. Coote is just one a growing number of officials who are being de-skilled on a weekly basis by the looming spectre of VAR.

An innocuous enough booking for Christian Norgaard just after the break gave little indication of what was to follow in a chaotic, shambolic second half.

He’d given us a clue early on though, a John McGinn headlock on Ben Mee in the box completely passing him by. VAR would come to the rescue surely?

No. The chaps in Stockley Park were either on a pee break or chatting about the curry they had with their wives the night before. Play on, ordered the hapless Coote.

They’ll look at it when the ball goes dead, my neighbour assured me. Then nothing, Brentford not yet considered a big enough club for that luxury.

The second half debacle was arguably the worst refereeing display I’ve seen in decades of watching Brentford, and was symptomatic of a disturbing decline in standards.

Hardly surprising when refs are having any room for their own real-time personal take on a situation removed by the VAR robots.

You only have to listen to the gormless yet supremely arrogant Mike Dean on Sky TV to understand why the Respect the Ref campaign is doomed to failure.

Because referees must earn respect – and while VAR continues to undermine them at every turn, they are merely puppets doing the bidding of people who have never played the game professionally, sitting miles away in a studio.

The plan to bring in air traffic controllers to help them handle the pressure of making decisions just about sums it up. Here’s a better idea. Get some former footballers who’ve actually played the game in there because these people are utterly clueless.

Ben Mee’s red card was probably an ‘amber’. He dived in late and clipped the shin pad, studs up. He could have no complaints and will probably berate himself for his rashness especially as it was in the opponent’s half and nowhere near his own goal.

But then Endo’s knee-high lunge on Norgaard suffered the same initial yellow card fate… and wasn’t deemed worthy of a red by VAR. Norgaard’s knee suggested otherwise.

And there’s the rub. The inconsistency both within games and from match to match is making me question whether it’s worth the 200-mile round trip to watch a relatively poorly paid goon on a power trip decide my evening’s mood.

A few examples for those desperate to see the best in these clowns…

  • Martinez elbows Maupay. Maupay does what he does and drops theatrically. Martinez grabs his shirt by the neck and tries to haul him to his feet. No card.
  • Watkins – not forgiven by me for celebrating like a kid in the park when he scored against us at Villa Park – sparks a goalmouth brawl for alleged abuse from one fan “for the whole game”. Dubious as he was attacking the other end for 45 minutes. No yellow card.
  • Konsa grabs Ghoddos by the throat in the melee. No yellow, when potentially at least two of the three could have been sending offs.
  • John McGinn constantly demanding yellow cards when Brentford players went in hard, but more than happy to dish it out. No yellow even though I thought that was the new directive.
  • A Villa player looping the ball back over Maupay to prevent the free kick being taken. Unsporting behaviour on a par with kicking the ball away? Apparently not.
  • Martinez desperately trying to get Lewis-Potter in the book with a dying swan repeated roll before jumping up suddenly as even he realised he was making himself look ridiculous. He did try it again later in the game though, but that was just a bit of friendly timewasting. No cards for that.

As I say, there are many who think criticism of Watkins is an overreaction. I’ve even seen some comments on facebook defending Coote.

They clearly live around the corner from the GTech. Because when a trip to a home game means seven hours out of your day, the least you expect is a reasonable level of competence.

The only consistent thing about VAR is now its inconsistency. In a nutshell It’s killing the game we love and turning people off to the extent that when KLP prodded home the opener my first though was of an intervention. Very sad.

It’s also paralysing referees like Coote, whose incompetence was quickly seized on by a cynical Villa side eager to win all the fine margin duels.

They only had to be touched and they’d go down for a free kick whereas Brentford players had to negotiate a string of solid challenges before Coote would even consider blowing.

Clearly there’s no suspicion of corruption there, but it sometimes feels like there’s unconscious bias in favour of the club with the better Premier league narrative at the time.

Would Mee have been sent off for that challenge if he’d done it in a Liverpool shirt against Burnley? Unlikely.

I’ll probably calm down in a day or two and be ready for Wolves at home and another dogged, character-packed performance from our side who did us proud once more.

But right now, I can’t help feeling that the game I love is being destroyed by the very people who are supposed to be making it better.

That’s the biggest worry. There will be no punishment for Coote, whose performance was clearly way below the expected standard, but his actions have repercussions in a league where fine margins matter.

We won’t get an apology from the faceless PGMOL’s Howard Webb. We’re not big enough for that and because we’re ‘little old Brentford’ the media won’t give us more than a few column inches. The story is Villa’s surge back to their glory years.

But as people grow increasingly bored with the stop-start nature of the game and all emotion being drained from it, attendances will drop. Hopefully then the Premier League will make a stand to save our game.

Until then… expect more incomprehensible decisions that change from week to week, expect referees to send off players for two yellows when they argue about a clearly wrong decision (Dalot – Man Utd) and expect Brentford to continue getting the shitty end of the stick.

Oh and expect me to get pilloried by a dwindling number of Bees fans who still, incredibly, think everything’s fine and that moaning about standards won’t change anything.

Maybe it won’t… but it doesn’t half make me feel better.

Jim Levack