An abject, worrying and unacceptable last day performance sucked the air out of any optimism that may have flickered throughout a strange and very patchy season where the goal of avoiding relegation was achieved but the limitations of a weak squad was regularly exposed.
Nobody had told Brentford that it was time to take the foot off the gas and they ruthlessly exploited a listless home side very impressively.
The rot set in early. Very, very early. The odd decision by Wagner to experiment with the exclusively right footed Cranie at left back was exposed in less than 30 seconds when rather than carrying out a basic clearance, he responded to a call from Steer, shinned an attempted back pass in to the path of Canos and Town were 1 down before anyone had drawn breath.
Town had little in response. Makeshift centre forward Van La Parra tried to inject some pace and urgency and was assisted by some bright work by Matmour (both were to fade out alarmingly in the second half) but too many were either completely off the pace – Paterson’s persistent inability to control the ball was baffling for a player of his ability – or simply embarrassing; the impressive Hogan (apparently being watched by Roy Keane for a Euro spot) ran Hudson ragged, Cranie looked like he had his feet on the wrong legs (having been put in an invidious position by his manager) and there were others who should look back on their efforts with shame.
The only surprise from a dreadful first half was that Brentford didn’t punish their woeful hosts further, particularly when novice keeper Allinson had to replace the injured Steer. It would prove to be a harrowing experience for the ginger custodian, but he pulled off a couple of decent saves before the break to postpone the eventual agony.
A blocked effort by Van La Parra was the only remotely decent moment in a half where Town were comprehensively outplayed. And things were going to get much, much worse.
Before an epic collapse, Town found an unlikely equaliser when Whitehead’s quick thinking at a free kick released Paterson. For once, the ball didn’t bounce off him and as some sort of muscle memory kicked in the on loan man finished with aplomb.
Seemingly affronted by being level to an inferior team in all areas, Brentford soon reasserted their authority and what would become a recurring theme of missed tackles, weak relinquishing of possession and poor positioning, the Bees found yawning gaps to ruthlessly exploit.
Hogan tucked two away past the inexperienced and criminally exposed Allinson before being replaced by Vibe who did the same to make it 4-1.
A fifth and final nail was hammered in by Swift and the humiliation complete.
One had to feel sorry for the poor bugger who had to pick a man of the match from such a listless, disjointed and embarrassing display and the only consolation for supporters being promised the hope of revolution was that a woefully inadequate back four – and there will be few who believe Davidson in place of Cranie would have made much difference – will be largely disbanded over the summer.
The scale of Wagner’s challenges have been starkly illustrated in the performances since the Leeds game which have garnered one win against a terrible Blackburn side and a massive collapse in the final 2 encounters.
A weary squad, some with little or no playing future at the club, have finished the season with a whimper, dampening the expectation regularly touted by the club. It must be infuriating for Dean Hoyle that his season card initiative has been undermined by poor displays but, fortunately, many were sold before the players downed tools entirely.
So, yet another season fizzles out with very, very little to celebrate – the home form has been pretty dreadful on the whole, the league position has deteriorated and crowds actually in the stadium will continue to be depressed until the fare served up is both attractive and winning.
New faces, a good pre-season and room for Wagner to instil his philosophies with a squad more of his making may change around our fortunes but those hopes have been unnecessarily tarnished by the late performances.
Thank you for reading these reports this season (with apologies for the winter break!) and have a great summer.