Sports Gazette

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

Defence still a concern despite unbeaten run, says Brentford manager Thomas Frank

Posted on 8 February 2019 by James Bayliss

Although Thomas Frank couldn’t contain his smile when talking about Brentford’s unbeaten run, the Dane claims that he is keeping all feet firmly on the ground as the Bees travel to promotion-chasing Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

Brentford are 17th in the league on 37 points, just ten points from the top six, and are unbeaten in nine games since a 2-0 defeat at Hull City in December.

However, Forest — undergoing changes with new manager Martin O’Neill — are in 12th, just five points away from the promotion places. Despite the Bees’ strong run, Frank is aware of the dangers his side face come the weekend.

“We know they [Nottingham Forest] have big ambitions to go to the Premier League,” he said. “That’s why they changed their manager and got Martin O’Neill, a club legend and a legend in this country. They will do everything they can to push for the play-offs. 

“They are still a very good football side. They want to dominate. Small changes are that they’re putting more crosses into the box, so that’s the thing we need to be aware of”.

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Defending crosses is one part of the game that the Bees are looking to address, but Frank highlighted overall defensive issues as the main area of the game that his side are looking to work on. 

He said: “We address it before and after games and on the training pitch. Today we had a split session, but the focus was the defensive part of it. We are working hard on that to get up to our high standards we had when we started this unbeaten run.”

Despite high scoring 5-2 and 4-2 victories of late, Frank admitted he sometimes wishes games weren’t as open as they have been, with his side unable to keep a clean sheet throughout January.

“I always dream about the perfect 3-0,” Frank said. “That’s what I’m dreaming of and we were so close to doing this against Stoke. They had two shots in the whole game and that’s what I’m aiming for every single game.”

Despite the lack of clean sheets, goals breed confidence and Brentford are feeling it around the training ground and are looking to continue this “good moment.”

“There’s a smile. We’re confident. You can feel the energy around the place,” Frank explained. “It’s a lift definitely, but I’m saying to the players that we worked so hard to get out of the bad run and we are enjoying the moment, but we need to continue. It’s up to us to maintain the high standards we’ve had so far.

“We try to not get too high because then you have a tendency to get a little complacent. But on the other side we need to use this energy, smile and confidence to keep going. Going forward we have been unbelievable the last couple of games.”

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Brentford may be enjoying a their best form since September, but it’s not too long ago that the pressure was beginning to pile, who went through the autumn months struggling for goals and victories.

Nonetheless, Frank made sure to stick to his philosophy and his approach, but admits it wasn’t easy at times.

“It’s about believing in yourself and in the team, and that’s what I and we did as a group of staff,” he said.

“We also did everything we could to address this to the players and keep them believing in it. You can only do that by communication, that’s extremely important, but also in how you behave. You can’t go in and say everything is fine, but you have to keep the energy.”

“The other part is the philosophy; how do we want to play football? You’ve got to think of that. For me this is live or die. There’s small adjustments, you tweak it a little bit, but you need to be in the same direction if you want to create something sustainable and something that can reach a high level. 

“That is the element I’m most proud of. We stick to the plan, work hard to keep it going and now we’re in a good run.”

Featured photograph/James Bayliss