Much can be read into the time it takes footballers to show for post-match commitments – and those of a manager too.
The full-time whistle was still echoing around the stands and the match report had not yet landed on The Falkirk Herald website when Robbie Mutch entered the press room on Saturday evening, glove strapping imprints still visible on his wrists, forlorn expression of a goalkeeper just beaten 2-1 with the last touch of the ball. Like him Gregor Buchanan was still red-eyed and in full kit, when he attended after last month’s stultifying defeat to Clyde.
They fronted it up with a brutal honesty in the gut-wrenching disappointment felt after both defeats.
Usually, it’s the manager first, but after defeats as frustrating and sickening as those that have contributed to Falkirk’s two consecutive home defeats in the third tier, the players want it out of their system as soon as possible.
They know, like we do, that it is not good enough. Ray McKinnon knows too. As calls continue for the removal of the manager and grow in volume he branded his side’s display and defeat “criminal” and “unprofessional”.
That wasn’t a reactionary heat of the moment outburst, it came more than half an hour after the full-time whistle, 20 after his opposite number, but the mangager still sought time to review the game in detail. He knows what he had seen, what we had all seen, was not acceptable, but stared, stunned, into space on the full-time whistle rather heading immediately as he always does for a handshake and down the tunnel.
The glaring holes and direction-less standards of the Clyde match were gone, and by all accounts Falkirk were better than they were in victory against Forfar last week – but Airdrie were and are a better outfit than the bottom side.
They are proving it sitting above the Bairns in third place and well in the mix between the Fife double-act and Falkirk. Their standard did not come as a surprise, after the tough proposition in Lanarkshire earlier this term, but that Falkirk could not continue to redeem themselves after the lifeless defeat to Clyde at The Falkirk Stadium was.
Consistency is key in league-winning runs and while there’s still plenty of time to set such wheels in motion, the drive to get over the stuttering and inertia is currently lacking.
The Bairns have only beaten one of the teams in the top six in the table.
That didn’t change on Saturday though it looked possible in the re-energised second half spell following Declan McManus’ equaliser. It was a false dawn as Callum Gallagher’s late header as darkness descended cast a gloom over Westfield and continued Falkirk’s troublesome trait of being unable to overturn a half-time deficits into points.
The home support turned on the team and manager as they headed for the tunnel. They looked forlorn in the aftermath of the loss, and those looks will last for days. The smarting re-assessment of another home defeat will too, no matter how quickly they try to move on.