Thomas Frank’s mantra that football is a game of fine margins has never felt more relevant than it does right now.
Feeble refereeing compounded by panic-stricken VAR decisions mean his side have missed out on a potential six points already this season.
Each blunder is bad enough when viewed in isolation, but put them together and they’re a shocking indictment of our allegedly professional match officials.
And trust me, the situation isn’t going to get any better with the next wave of referees coming through highly unlikely to be any more proficient.
That’s no surprise when you have footballers earning millions and match officials on a relatively paltry £180,000 because, ultimately, you get what you pay for.
That’s why there’s not one former player anywhere near the decision-making process… something that should surely be a prerequisite on every VAR panel?
Schade taken out by the keeper in the curtain raiser with Spurs was a borderline penalty, but then the Flekken ‘foul’ at Newcastle leaves you open mouthed at the lack of consistency.
Link that fiasco on the Tyne with the Forest keeper’s lunge on Wissa and suddenly it’s very easy to lose the little faith we once had in the PGMOL officials.
What makes it worse is the lack of accountability or explanation from Howard Webb and his team. Managers now risk hefty fines for stating what the whole nation can see with their own untrained eyes… that our referees either aren’t up to the job or are paralysed by VAR-induced fear.
The Diaz offside caught many of the headlines and rightly so, but for me and many others the main problem there was a refusal by the officials to admit they were wrong and pull the game back.
And there’s the problem – the misplaced arrogance about Michael Oliver and Paul Tierney that screams “Respect us” every time they self-importantly set foot on the pitch.
Respect, though, needs to be earned, and their amateurish inconsistency week in, week out does little to earn mine.
I’m proud to support a club that tries to do things the right way, but with the media love affair with us now waning, is it now time for us to adopt more of a siege mentality?
Nine out of ten players caught by the Forest keeper would have gone down in a writhing mass. The situation would have been referred to VAR during a pause and we’d have come away with three points.
In a nutshell, we missed out because our players try to do the right thing. But if you can’t beat them, then maybe there’s any argument for joining them.
I’m playing devil’s advocate here of course, because winning the right way is far sweeter, and in Thomas we have a manager with principles and firm belief on how the game should be played.
Contrast him with the peevish Steve Cooper, one of the most unlikeable characters in the game, whose comments to BBCMotD2’s Forest-based panel of “experts” have to be applauded if only for their partisan nature.
Cooper has created a ‘them and us’ mentality at the City Ground and although he often makes himself look a fool with every interview he gives to outsiders, it’s a ploy that seems to work with the fans of that great club.
I’m not advocating that Thomas does the same, but perhaps it’s now time to shed our ‘bus stop in Hounslow’ little old Brentford moniker and started to snarl a little more.
Half-hearted appeals for handball in the box, no one asking the question of Tierney after Wissa’s foul. We need to be more bloody-minded because these haphazard decisions have robbed us of six points already this season and it can’t go on.
An in-game two appeals process – as in cricket – might be a start, but with the incompetence we’ve seen in the VAR studio of late, maybe that wouldn’t work either.
Before that though, Brentford fans need to stick together like the Forest fans seem to. Sniping at players still bedding into a new system, a new league or a new country will only make things worse.
Likewise, ignoring the yes, partly self-inflicted, fact that we’re short on squad depth will do nothing to get us through this sticky patch.
This is a time for a reset. In the weeks ahead we will find out a lot about the loyalty of new Bees fans who’ve only ever experienced success. As Pontus said in slightly different circumstances “this is what it means” to be a Brentford fan.
Second half showings against Arsenal and Forest suggest we’re better when we’re brave and that we will be fine as long as we strengthen wisely in January.
Meanwhile we all need to harness that sense of injustice that burned deep as we drove away from Nottingham – heightened by the fact that gambling man Harry Toffolo provided the assist for the home side’s equaliser.
But that’s a whole different issue and yet another anomaly from the powers that be, leaving the average fan wondering what the hell is going on with the joyous, spontaneous and beautiful game we once knew.
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