Oli Stein reports from Griffin Park
Brentford head coach Thomas Frank has called for his players to “learn” from their 3-2 defeat to Sheffield United at Griffin Park tonight to begin their ascent of the Championship table, away from relegation trouble.
League top scorer Neal Maupay put the Bees ahead after seven minutes, but concentration was lacking defensively and eight minutes later, they were behind.
“We need to learn,” Frank explained. “And we can’t learn quick enough in those situations defensively. We need to learn to control games and we need to learn when we are suffering to sometimes take a break. We need to balance the team throughout the game.”
Brentford were disorganised defensively and the rhythm of the game was extremely imbalanced. This was reflected by Ezri Konsa’s own goal to equalise for the Blades, as well as the fact that they allowed their opponents 18 shots at goal, five of which were on target.
Part of the reason is the young centre back duo of Chris Mepham and Konsa, both of whom are still learning on the job without an experienced head alongside them.
“They are going to be Premier League players,” Frank said. “But right now, they are making some mistakes. They need to learn quick. Damn quick. But not only them. The team needs to help each other.”
Frank continued: “Where is the responsibility? We need to take much more responsibility to make sure we don’t concede the third goal. We worked so hard to get back into the game, we can’t concede the third.”
Despite a John Fleck own goal to level the game in the 65th minute, Brentford’s concentration lapsed once more and Leon Clarke capitalised to put the Blades ahead with 18 minutes to go. This has proved problematic recently, and the Bees tend to concede after taking the lead.
“We’ve lost six games by just one goal,” Frank said. “It feels like we work so hard to score every goal and every time we score, we concede. It’s tough to take. But there’s only one way out. That’s to face it and not feel sorry for ourselves.”
The fans weren’t afraid of voicing their discontent with Brentford’s pensive build-up play — especially when trailing — and it seemed as though the lack of directness irked the 8,900-strong crowd somewhat.
Frank said: “It’s understandable. They have been backing us throughout the season. But one clear message to them is that they should never doubt that the players are working extremely hard to get out of this. We do everything we can every single day to make sure we squeeze everything out of each other to flip this around.”
For now, Brentford have won just once under Frank’s leadership and have lost their last three games. What started so promisingly this season has rapidly turned into a potential relegation dogfight.
Featured photograph/Adam Le Roux