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Beesotted contributor Nemone Sariman’s latest article looks back at Brentford’s draw with Crystal Palace and asks some very interesting numerical questions!!

A great philosopher once wrote, “Nobody likes a draw”. I didn’t understand this at the time. After all, one point is better than zero points, right? Well, yes. But also … no.  

Am I making sense so far? 

Now, most people manage words and numbers with equal competence, with some perhaps leaning slightly more towards one than the other. But I am a words person. When they were handing out numeracy skills, I was obviously busy doing something else at the time (probably looking for my calculator) so, when anyone asks me number questions, I can’t cope. 

When I watch The Apprentice, by the time Lord Sugar announces how much profit the second team has made, I have already forgotten the first team’s number. And I once had to invigilate a Maths exam but completely confused myself trying to figure out what time the exam would end if it started at 9:06, lasted for an hour and three-quarters and had a 25% extra time entitlement due to the student’s special needs. And the fact that an hour has sixty minutes and not a nice, round one hundred, didn’t help. 

In the end I explained the predicament to the student and asked him if he could help me work out his end time. He said, “No idea, Miss. I can’t do Maths. That’s why I need the 25% extra time.”

So it absolutely blew my tiny mind when a friend pointed out that a football team is better off (points-wise, at least) winning three matches out of ten and losing the other seven, than drawing eight matches out of ten and losing two. 

This really didn’t sound right. But, after managing to work out that 3 x 3 = 9 and that 8 x 1 = 8, and asking a little kid to check my working-out, I discovered that my friend WAS right. <

Seven games without a win sounds pretty poor. And an unbeaten run of eight games sounds pretty good.  Who’d have thought that the former could actually propel a team further up the table (depending on factors such as goal difference and how other teams fare, of course) than the latter? One set of results is better for the table, the other is better for the soul. 

However, if you equalise after being behind, it gives the soul a bit of pep (no, not that Pep), whereas the reverse – being in a winning position and having the opposition catch up – vaporises any pep as if it had never been there, making us feel like we’ve lost. (What is the opposite of a pep, anyway? A klopp?)

So … can a loss be better than a draw? A GOOD thing, even? One benefit is that it forces a team to review, reflect and change strategies. When we draw, it can be tempting to think, “Let’s just keep doing what we’re doing since we’re unbeaten.” Ok, but it’s a long climb up that table if you’re going by a single point each time, and others are going up in threes.

The fact that I am number-blind means that things like stats and formations don’t mean anything to me. In fact, I’m pretty sure that someone once said “4-5-3” to me, just to see if I was paying attention, and I nodded sagely as if I knew what they were talking about. But I’m aware enough to understand that we have only ever managed to gain a point from Crystal Palace, and that two of our previous occasions have been 0-0 draws. 

The optimist in me says that we should have been grateful for those single points, and I even wrote an article to this effect after our draw against Leicester at home last season. But, the better our results, the more our expectations rise. Maybe we’re entitled brats, grumbling about something that would have made us happy a few seasons ago? Or maybe we’re just raising the bar and becoming more ambitious? 

Like some portent of doom, the weather was not with us on Saturday. First home game: no water. Second home game: too much water. Luckily The Bees didn’t let this daunt our spirit – and it made for some extraordinarily artistic photos – but Crystal Palace fought just as hard, seeming to scupper us every time our passing attained any kind of flow. And, much as it pains me to admit this, Eze scared me. 

However, Crystal Palace couldn’t quite match the speed, the skill and the grace of Schade, who scored his well-deserved debut league goal. It looked great on the pitch and even better in the slow-motion replays. Sadly, after 76 minutes, Andersen took the smiles off our faces. Oh dear. We came away with a point but, with Brentford souls having been klopped whilst Palace’s were pepped, it stung a little.

Well done to Kevin Schade, though. His glorious goal resulted in a chorus from the West Stand of the Schade song, the longest player song I have ever heard and whose words I don’t know, other than the last line: 

“And he’s wearing number 9!”

Yes, we’re back to numbers again. 

This transports me to the conversation below, which I once had with the husband and which demonstrates that I can add shirt numbers to my expanding list of number things that cause me problems: 

Me: “Can a footballer wear whatever shirt number they want?”

Him: “As long as nobody in the squad already has it, yes.”

Me: “Can they wear a three-digit number?”

Him: “No.”

Me: “Does the first choice goalkeeper have to wear number 1?”

Him: “Usually, yes.”

Me: “Ederson doesn’t.”

Him: “No. He doesn’t.”

Me: “So can an outfield player wear number 1?”

Him: “No.”

Me: “Can a striker wear a shirt that isn’t number 9?”

Him: “Yes.”

Me: “But can a defender or a goalkeeper wear number 9?”

Him: “No. Can we stop this now, please?” 

I can’t be the only person who is flummoxed by this? (The numbering logic, I mean, not the husband’s snarky attitude.)

Next week we will be facing Bournemouth, Masters of the Dark Arts, so I suspect we will need our wizarding wits about us. And, since seven is a significant number in magical mythology, perhaps something worthy of note – and preferably in our favour – will happen in the 7th minute? A Ben Mee* goal?

*Shirt number 16, 1 + 6 = 7. And I didn’t need my calculator for that. 

Nemone Sariman