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Bournemouth vs Brentford Preview: Andoni Iraola Receives Plaudits from Thomas Frank

Thomas Frank praises Premier League manager of the season nominee Andoni Iraola ahead of Brentford’s clash against 10th-placed Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.

With just two games remaining, Brentford occupy 16th place following their lengthy injury crisis and, since his return, a goal drought from Ivan Toney.

Now, Frank looks to end his difficult season on a high, and knows that a strong performance on the South Coast will be needed on Saturday.

He said: “I expect a very good challenge. I think [Bournemouth] are, together with us, one of the best teams to press high.

“It’s difficult for me to pronounce his name – Andoni Iraola. I think he’s done well this season and, again, praise to him and everyone around Bournemouth.

“I think he had a tricky start, and I think he’s just another example that there’s a lot of good coaches out there.

“Football is brutal and unpredictable, but the best leaders are there with a calm head and a steady hand.”

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Brentford have struggled to adapt after losing both Aaron Hickey and Rico Henry to injuries earlier this season.

The two fullbacks were pivotal to Frank’s system last year, when the West London side finished ninth in the league.

As a result, a vastly different defensive structure – with Ben Mee also out for the season – has led to Brentford conceding a higher number of goals than usual.

Frank said: “It’s tough to lose football matches – of course it is. Other things out there in the world are much tougher but, when you’re in this business, you work very hard to make everything perfect.

“When you don’t get a little bit of reward, or a little bit of a treat, then it’s tough to keep going again and again.”

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While Brentford will look to recruit over the summer, and enter next season in a stronger position, the fact that they have avoided relegation could be seen as an achievement in itself.

All good managers – as they should – will inevitably set the highest of expectations for their players.

However, Frank acknowledges that there also needs to be an element of pride in competing with some of the best teams in Europe.

He said: “The hope and expectations that I had [at the start of the season] was that we could have done a bit more.

“It’s just such a difficult league – it’s so difficult to stay in it. We just need to understand that every time you are in the league, and you’re not a top six team, it’s still some kind of success.

“For clubs with our budget, it’s definitely a success. [The Premier League] is just the best league in the world.”

Bournemouth enter this game having already exceeded the majority of expectations, with just five defeats at home this season.

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Much of their success has come from Dominic Solanke, who is this season’s joint-fifth highest Premier League goal scorer along with Mo Salah, with both players finding the back of the net 18 times.

A subplot to Saturday’s game, then, could see Solanke and Toney pitted against each other in an audition for a place in the England squad, with Euro 2024 fast approaching.


  • Oscar Pick

    I cover stories in boxing, football, rugby, snooker and MMA. Wishing to ensure greater transparency, through accurate reporting and engaging interviews, my articles allow readers to gain an informed insight into different aspects of sport.