Sports Gazette

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

Busy Bees must take opportunity against Bolton to avoid relegation threat

Posted on 21 December 2018 by Connor Woolley

A busy Christmas period — with four games in eleven days — starts with Brentford taking on fellow strugglers Bolton at Griffin Park on Saturday.

Brentford are now walking a tightrope above the relegation zone.

Defeat against Hull, last weekend, has left the Bees balanced precariously over the drop zone.

Hull was Thomas Frank’s eighth defeat in ten games in charge for the West London club.

This Saturday marks the half-way point of the season. Despite the poor run Frank remains optimistic. He said:

“I think when you haven’t won enough games the next one is always an opportunity.

“At home — against Bolton on Saturday — to get three points and get back on the winning track going into a busy period is a great opportunity.”

If Brentford do win at Bolton, it could provide a boost in confidence the squad needs heading into a pivotal point in the campaign.

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Thomas Frank applauds during Brentford’s defeat to Swansea

The Christmas period will be a challenge for the squad. Some players looked particularly tired against Hull.

Fortunately for Frank, though, the injury list has shrunk in recent weeks and the squad has more depth.

“It’s a long season and I think we are going to need everybody, especially over the next period of games, we need to use the full squad,” he said

“The Championship season is relentless. It’s so tough and you need to have extra energy.

“Very few players can go 46 games without a break. Having no holiday or break adds up.”

Mental tiredness is also a factor to consider at this point in the season. Brentford’s vulnerability straight after conceding stipulates that.

In recent games – when they have conceded more than once – they have done so within very short periods of time. Last week at Hull, for example, they conceded two in nine minutes.

Against Swansea it was three within half an hour. Sheffield United were two up inside the opening fifteen minutes, while, Middlesbrough scored twice in five minutes and QPR got three within ten.

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Leroy Fer celebrates scoring Swansea’s third against Brentford

“It’s definitely something we’ve been highlighting and speaking about. After conceding we need to stay in the game.

“The next five minutes are extremely important. We need to stay switched on.

“All the small mistakes are currently being turned into big mistakes and we get punished,” said Frank.

The spotlight may have been on defensive errors, so far this season, but the Bees have some of the highest average possession, passing accuracy and shots in the league.

Extending back to their last victory against Millwall at the beginning of November — aside from defeats to West Brom and QPR — Brentford have been the dominant side statistically speaking, at least.

This puts the pressure on Brentford’s forwards and the chances they’ve missed. As was evident against Hull. There must be some collective responsibility for recent performances.

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Neal Maupay celebrates Brentford’s opener vs Sheffield United

“I think we have conceded too many goals and not taken enough clear cut chances.

“It’s easy to look towards the defence and say that they need to step up.

“For me it’s about the eleven players as a team and it’s as a team that we need to do better.

“It’s a marginal game. Over this spell there has been a lack of quality in certain situations and also a lack of confidence,” Frank said.

A relegation battle with Bolton this weekend may be the perfect remedy for Frank’s side.

A win could help to regain some confidence and find some form going into a busy Christmas schedule.

Featured photograph/Connor Woolley