Regular Beesotted contributor, Jim Levack, looks back at the weekend win over Middlesbrough and gives a grounded take on where we’re at right now… we may be unbeaten, but we are not unbeatable.
I’ll have to check this with the owner but statistically there’s a chance that Brentford won’t go the whole season without losing another game.
Strip out the emotion of a 4-1 win at Boro’ and it could easily have been our first setback in 20 had the fine margins gone the other way.
That’s a fact that won’t be lost on Thomas Frank, whose pragmatic approach to performances rather than results will have seen him analysing the video intently on the way back from the north east.
But this side is different from last season’s. There was a flamboyance and innocent swagger to the side that failed at the final Wembley hurdle. Choked if you like.
This squad is different. It’s the sum of its talented parts and those parts have grown up fast, learned from the Wembley stutter and are more focused because of it.
This squad has a ruthlessness running through its veins. It’s efficient, more resilient, and exudes self-belief and humility in equal measure.
But more important than that is a determined togetherness forged by adversity. Watch the body language of Brentford’s players when one of them scores. Even Rico, after that Cruyff turn and strike that surely deserved a goal, rushed to congratulate Ivan.
I’ve been fortunate/unfortunate enough (delete as applicable because it’s awful without fans) to be in the ground to see this team’s relentless physical and mental strength.
If one of them loses the ball, the others cover. They press intelligently because each knows what the other will do. When they break, there are bodies in the box trusting that the ball will arrive. It’s the kind of connection between the parts of a team that you simply cannot buy.
This is a team of individuals – encouraged to express themselves but within a system – in the truest sense of the word. Jan Zamburek doesn’t get a shout at Shrewsbury, Returns, slots in, assists, looks
Quite simply, this is the best Brentford side I‘ve had the pleasure to watch in my 50 plus years. The best in the Championship, with a striker set to smash the 30-goal mark and brush all challengers aside to right last season’s wrong. Premier League here we come etc etc.
Or at least that’s what around nine in 10 of the posts appearing on social media since Saturday’s win would have you believe. It’s a done deal, we’re as good as up.
The reality, as we all know from bitter experience, should never be taken for granted and won’t be by this management team and its support staff who are all playing their part.
Which is why the “one game at a time” cliché is much more than just a neat and tidy media soundbyte. It’s a mantra we should all – supporters included – live and die by in the next 19 games.
I’ll be honest I thought we’d lose at Boro’. If we had, it was going to be all about how we bounced back as a side packed with technical quality, togetherness and desire backed by prodigious workrate almost certainly would have.
Reading will be tough and if we pass the test, expectation will grow. But expectation, while only natural, is a dual-edged sword used by people who expect victory every game.
Performances are all that matters for the run-in. To play well and lose because the fine margins went against us is fine. Why? Because consistency of performance means we will play well and win next time out.
There should be no wailing and gnashing of teeth if we do lose. There are still a staggering 57 points left to play for with some pretenders to the crown due a surge or a slump.
Given the foundations on which Brentford 20/21 are built and the managed return of key personnel, I simply can’t see our push fizzling out as long as we keep doing the basics right.
But for all those Bees fans dusting down the champagne on social media, this message…
I’ve just checked the history books and haven’t found a side that’s won anything in February.