Sports Gazette

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

“We are one of the best football sides in the league:” Brentford boss Thomas Frank remains upbeat ahead of Millwall visit

Posted on 2 November 2018 by Benjamin Jones

Thomas Frank insists his side are “one of the best football sides in the league,” despite Brentford going without a win in their last nine matches.

The Bees have lost all of Frank’s three matches in charge since he took over from Dean Smith — who left to join Aston Villa on October 10th — and have slumped to 16th in the table.

Their most recent defeat came in the 1-0 loss away at Norwich on Saturday. Frank remains upbeat though and believes that there is no need to panic, stating: “We just need to continually grow and improve as a team, I believe we are 100% on the right path, we are very difficult to handle, we need to keep that quality and continue to develop it.

“Going forward we know it’s a long season. It’s about being calm, doing what we believe in and we’ll be fine.”

This week has come as a welcome relief to Frank as it is the first time he has been able to have the full week on the training pitch with the team — given their fixture away at Preston in mid-week — and Frank is pleased with what he has seen.

“The boys are training so well, they’re putting a lot of effort in. There were smiles, quality and a good energy in training today and we had a good session. We are not looking for massive changes, we just want to improve small bits in the way we play.

“We are pretty certain on what qualities the players can bring to the team, the structure we have is the 4-3-3. I believe a lot in that. Maybe we need to work on the pressure from the wingers from the outside and the way we make breakthroughs, to have more offensive precision.”

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The offensive precision Frank describes will be crucial for Saturday’s match at home to Millwall as Neil Harris’ men have a reputation for a physical and direct style, rooted in high pressure that makes them difficult to play against.

“Millwall are a very hardworking, honest, efficient team. We know they can make life difficult for anyone in this league. There will be spells where we need to defend well; second balls and set pieces will be crucial.

“It’s about not giving too many long throws, corners or deep and wide free kicks away. We need to be good on the ball, show some good quality and move them around.”

Brentford’s defence was singled out as the main area for improvement by Frank. The Bees have conceded 20 goals in 15 league matches and have not kept a clean sheet since their last victory, a 2-0 win against Wigan on September 15th.

The 45-year-old drew comparisons with Liverpool when describing their defensive frailties versus their ball playing ability.

He said: “We have taken a step-up in defending this season compared to last. When we have [Yoann] Barbet, [Chris] Mepham, [Ezri] Konsa and [Henrik] Dalsgaard we know we are very strong, but I still think we need to improve the defensive mindset, be more aggressive but be clever about it.

“Look at Liverpool, a lovely attacking side but last year, they conceded way too many goals. This year they have had a fantastic start, it’s that kind of mindset I’m talking about.”

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Frank will now be aided by his new assistant head coach, Brian Riemer, who was appointed this week. The 49-year-old Dane left his post as U-19 manager at Copenhagen, the club where he also spent three years as assistant manager, to take up the role.

Frank enthused: “I am sure he can help us to progress and develop with his experience of being at a club where winning is the only thing.”

Frank also revealed that Kamohelo Mokotjo is to undergo further scans as the true nature of his injury sustained against Norwich remains a mystery. He is certain to miss Saturday’s game.

In better news, both Jay Da Silva and Rico Henry are expected to feature in the two B-team games in the coming week. Henry is stepping up his recovery from a serious knee injury that has kept him out for 13 months now, though he’s expected to return to first team duties after the international break.

Frank ended on a rallying note, insisting: “The players are not under pressure, I see them every day. Nobody is afraid. Every player in every country, in every league, will go through this kind of spell. It’s the time to show their personality and character to want to get out of it.

“Every game is a new opportunity to turn things around and we are very much looking forward to Saturday.”

Featured photograph/Darren Barnard

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