Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Thomas Frank: “We must respect Barnet and we must respect the history of the FA cup.”

Posted on 27 January 2019 by Connor Woolley

It’s FA Cup Fourth round weekend and the ‘lost its magic’ brigade are out in force again. Try telling Barnet fans that.

After a weekend of upsets — including League One’s bottom club AFC Wimbledon hammering West Ham and Millwall’s last-gasp victory over Everton — non-league Barnet host Championship side Brentford at The Hive on Monday evening. 

Barnet, the lowest ranked team left in the competition, shocked Sheffield United in the last round with a 1-0 victory. They will be looking for a repeat against Brentford.

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The sides — both nicknamed ‘the Bees’ — last met in the EFL Trophy in 2011, a game that Barnet won 5-3 on penalties.

“We are clear favourites. It will be a massive disappointment if we don’t go through,” said the Brentford coach Thomas Frank.

“They [Barnet] combine well in the final third. If we underestimate them the same thing that happened to Sheffield United could happen to us,”

“We must respect Barnet and we must respect the history of the FA Cup.” 

After a torrid start as Brentford boss Thomas Frank takes his team into the game unbeaten in seven. He insists, though, Brentford will need to be at their best to progress. 

“It will not be a second ball game. It will be a game I expect us to dominate and control,” he said.

“We need to get the game up in tempo, with a high intensity, I want us to do that no matter who we play against.  

“We’ve seen top teams playing in the cup who just lower their focus. They play with less intensity and end up with problems.”

The upturn in Brentford’s form seems to have stemmed from a change in formation.

Since their 1-0 win over Bolton Frank has set his team up in a 3-4-3 formation. It seems that, so far, it has paid dividends.

Frank said: “I’ve been studying the system for a while and always knew that I wanted it as a second system.  

“The build-up play in this formation is very similar to a 4-3-3 so it was easy for the players to adapt to.”

The front three are still pressing in the same way. The philosophy of pressing forward and dominating possession has, of course, been maintained.

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However, change is a big part of football in January, the sale of defender Chris Mepham to Bournemouth will be a blow.

“All the staff who worked with him should be proud. It’s a big part of our strategy to develop young players,” Frank said.

“Of course he is a good player. But we have just gone the last seven games on an unbeaten run without him.”

Frank accepts the squad will need to eventually find a replacement for Mepham. For now, though, he is satisfied with what he has.

“The back three of Yoann Barbet, Julian Jeanvier and Ezri Konsa have done a fantastic job. We also have youngsters — Mads Bech Sorenson and Luka Racic — trying to push through.” 

One of that back three, Barbet, believes the FA Cup is a good opportunity for any club to win silverware.  

“We only have to win four games to reach the final,” Barbet said.

“If we progress and get another good team at home, it will be a great opportunity, we could go deeper into this competition.”

“I’ve been with the club for four years now and we’ve never been on a good cup run.”

The National League side are unlikely to make the Hive feel like home for the visiting Bees. As Barbet acknowledged:

“It’s a big chance for us to progress on Monday night. To do so, however, we cannot underestimate Barnet.”

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Barnet vs Brentford in the FA Cup fourth round kicks off Monday at 19:45 live on BT Sport 2.

Featured photograph/Connor Woolley