THAT OLD CLICHE you must learn to walk before you can run comes to mind when assessing Saints at the moment.

Alan Pardew is having to almost try and start back at the beginning again.

He is trying to instill in his side some of the basics of the game that have either gone missing from Saints due to their desperate couple of years or they never had in the first place.

That approach is very much an understandable one.

But it is also one that takes time.

About a whole pre-season would be about right, but as that couldn’t be the case, these first, tentative steps are being taken in the unforgiving world of competitive league action.

There have already been a few falls resulting in nasty bruises – most notably at Huddersfield and Swindon – but there are a few signs things are moving in the right direction.

Saints needed another big and commanding centre half.

They didn’t need a ball playing defender but a destroyer, a simple one-dimensional sort who will just win headers all day long. The league demands it.

On first glimpse it appears in Neal Trotman they have one and his presence made a massive difference.

As Brentford bombed in long throw after long throw Saints looked fairly assured.

Just a week ago minus Trotman you would have feared every time the ball went out of play in the Saints half.

Dean Hammond, also on debut, looks the kind of competitive midfielder that will thrive at this level.

Defensively, in terms of a major weakness in defending set-pieces, in terms of work-rate and organisation, the Brentford game saw Saints confidently take a few full strides.

But they still have a way to go before they can run.

Some of that is not particularly the fault of Alan Pardew or the squad. The situation with Grzegorz Rasiak and Marek Saganowski is unsatisfactory and needs to be brought to a swift conclusion – the end of the transfer window will see to that if nobody else can.

They want to leave for no malicious reason but to try and ensure whatever years they have remaining to play international football are protected. Fair enough really.

But Saints will want to get value out of their departures and there are not queues around St Mary’s for their services just yet.

Saints must feel that they cannot recruit new forward players until they know whether either or both of the Poles will still be here come September 2. If they are then you don’t need much else and maybe can’t afford much else.

But if not then you really desperately do.

So at the moment there is this state of flux and a dilemma for Pardew in whether to play them or not.

Do you give them a chance to get in the shop window or worry whether their heart will be totally in it? It’s difficult and he won’t get any criticism from this direction for whatever he decides because he sees them every day and we must trust his judgement.

But Saints are lacking creativity in forward areas and need decisive action to address that.

While Saints start to look comfortable on their feet at the back they are stumbling in attack.

They’ve only scored three goals in their four league games and are not exactly carving out chance after chance.

The wide areas in particular are a problem as there is little coming from them.

Adam Lallana is a mainstay out there at the moment. We know he’s a good player but we also know he is not a natural wide man.

Elsewhere it’s trying to find somebody either to be a square peg or a youngster ready and able to grasp their chance. Not easy.

It was all these things combined that made you believe the Brentford performance indicated more progress in one area but little in others.

It might have been so different had Matt Paterson given Saints the lead after just 16 seconds.

Lallana got the ball through the Brentford defence and to Paterson’s feet. He looked stunned not to see the offside flag raised and rushed a shot that was lofted into the keeper’s arms when he had time to fire a decisive finish.

Rickie Lambert forced Lewis Price into a real save on 14 minutes with a low free kick through the wall while Jacob Mellis might have done better when he drove into the side netting after being played in behind the right back following a loose back pass.

There was a remarkable couple of minutes midway through the first half as both sides hit the post.

First it was Lallana with a diving near-post header before Sam Wood looped a header over Kelvin Davis but out off the upright.

For all his dominance at the back Trotman had a great opportunity to mark his debut with a goal on 37 minutes when Lallana’s corner was headed back across goal by Lambert but from very close range Trotman headed over.

Kevin O’Connor and Myles Weston gave Saints timely reminders before the break but it was Saints who looked the better footballing team.

The game stuck in a bit of a rut in the second half but got a goal to bring it to life on 73 minutes.

Hammond chipped a deep cross to the far post, Lambert headed it back across goal and Dan Harding gambled on it and slammed home a sliding volley to make it 1-0.

However, that lead lasted just ten minutes as Saints allowed Ryan Dickson to overlap down the left and get to the by-line. He crossed and picked out the run of sub Cleveland Taylor and his diving header levelled things up.

Saints pushed on for a winner and in the dying seconds Price made a good save from Morgan Schneiderlin before a penalty appeal for handball was waved away.

In the end it was honours even which was how it felt for Saints as well.

Let’s hope they are up and running before long.