Football: Webb finds it tough at the top

After Saturday's 3-0 defeat, Adam Szreter finds the Brentford manager ready to quit
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The Independent Online
Poor old David Webb. So the pressure of life at the top of the League is getting to him at last and he wants to do a Kenny, as it is known in Blackburn (a Kevin in Newcastle). "I don't need the hassle," he says.

On Saturday, his Brentford team were appalling, and it made you wonder how bad the rest of the Second Division is. Burnley, though, were quite bright and inventive. In Adrian Heath they seem to have a promising manager and it will be no surprise if they force their way into the play-offs.

The game itself was memorable for a spectacular scissors-kick by Damien Matthew which curled beautifully into the top corner of the Brentford net right on the stroke of half-time.

Earlier, two headed goals by the Burnley captain, Jamie Hoyland (the second claimed by him despite Andy Cooke's header which bounced down towards the goal-line off the crossbar), had knocked the stuffing out of Brentford. Although the hosts improved in the second half, Burnley showed enough professionalism to keep them at arm's length and inflict on them their first home defeat in the League since Boxing Day 1995.

Webb conveniently disowned the performance afterwards by saying he had bowed to pressure from others and changed the playing system - a strange decision when you are four points clear at the top of the table. He also dismissed the possibility that the players might have been affected by the letter of resignation their manager handed to his chairman, Martin Lange, earlier in the week.

The apparent cause of Webb's unhappiness was a Brentford supporter who had described Webb as a "waste of space" after they had lost for the first time in 15 matches at Preston last Saturday. Pretty harsh, you might think, but at least the fan did not then hit him on the forehead Basil Fawlty style with a wet spoon.

Being insulted by one of your own fans when you are top of the League is hard to fathom, but it cannot be right that the manager of a professional football club should throw all of his toys out of the pram as a consequence.

In his programme notes, Webb hinted at other incidents that had upset him over the past few weeks, and his message was that everything would be fine as long as people started being extremely nice to him and his players.

Having come so close to promotion two seasons ago, perhaps it is understandable that Webb, who always appears relaxed, should be wobbling just a little at the moment.

The tone of what he said after the game, which was as clear as mud, suggested that he feels he has made his point and probably it will all blow over upon the chairman's return from America today. "He's full of crap," said one of the west London hacks afterwards. Maybe, but then many of the best football managers are.

Goals: Hoyland (9) 0-1; Hoyland (34) 0-2; Matthew (45) 0-3.

Brentford (4-4-2): Dearden; Hutchings, Ashby, Bates, Anderson; Smith, McGhee, Canham, Bent (Omigie, 80); Taylor, Asaba. Substitutes not used: Statham, Fernandes (gk).

Burnley (3-4-3): Beresford; Brass, Hoyland, Winstanley; Parkinson, Thompson, Matthew, Smith; Weller (Harrison, 84), Cooke, Barnes. Substitutes not used: Swan, Vinnicombe.

Referee: J Kirkby (Sheffield).

Bookings: Brentford Bent, Asaba. Burnley Cooke.

Man of the match: Weller.

Attendance: 6,624.

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