While Brentford fans may go into today’s semi-final against Swansea with an eye on the side’s dreadful playoff record in the past, it’s not something manager Thomas Frank has been losing sleep over.
He even reassured the media that he would be willing to have pints at pubs in all four corners of Griffin Park should Brentford win their next two games and secure promotion to the top flight – a fitting way to end the 116-year journey at the West London stadium.
“That’s a deal. One hundred percent a deal,” he said when asked whether that’s the best way he’d like to celebrate the side’s first-ever promotion to the Premier League.
In what is set to be the final game played at Griffin Park, Frank would certainly hope the old footballing cliché ‘Form goes out of the window in big games’ holds for his side as recent results don’t do good reading for the Bees. They’ve missed the chance of going second, then securing promotion on the final day, and to make matters worse, find themselves on the wrong side of a 1-0 first-leg result against Swansea.
“We will come out flying and do everything we can that will stay with the fans forever. I know that I will personally carry my players off the pitch. If the football Gods give us something they haven’t in the past, then we will go up,” a reassured Frank stated while emphasising a buoyant mood in the camp going into the biggest game at Griffin Park of the century.
“It’s like the world has turned against our players. There have been lots of things going against them. We’ve had many decisions that I haven’t chosen to complain about. But you can’t give these excuses, and we need to know we go into his game with the right attitude.”
It will be important for Frank to ensure that his players put in an attacking display, as their chance creation has considerably gone down in the last three games, and with that so have their shots on target. In the five games before the Stoke defeat, the Bees averaged close to six shots on target per game – the number in the last three hasn’t gone beyond three.
When I put this statistic forward to him in the remote press conference on Tuesday afternoon, he said: “Barnsley and Stoke sat back and it became difficult to attack them. Swansea pressed us well and we fared decently before going down to ten men. But I have told my boys different ways to attack them and we can get to our desired season average of six on target.”
The club also got back Peter Gilham, the longest-serving MC in British football, for the last two home games for the season, and Frank believes his echoes around Griffin Park would give the players a monumental boost before kick-off.
Should Brentford manage to do the unthinkable, it will be the first time since 1947, they would have made it to the English top flight. They’ve failed on their last eight occasions to navigate through the playoffs and their fans are hoping that the ninth time is the charm.