Class of 2020 could fire Brentford to the big time - Interview
Friday, 10th Jan 2020 08:24 by Clive Whittingham
Brentford fan Tom Deely says an excellent summer of recruitment, big improvements in defence and an October switch of formation have all combined to make the Bees genuine play-off contenders this season.
So it’s going well after a sluggish start bedding in new players – how do you assess Brentford’s season so far?
Absolutely delighted with how the team has progressed this season. It’s obviously difficult to lose key players like Romaine Sawyers and Neal Maupay and we essentially started the season without a recognised striker, placing a lot of hope in Watkins adapting his game to fit the number nine role. The speed and extent of Ollie’s development in this role has surpassed all expectations.
We have a fairly settled team at present and a solid defence for the first time in a few seasons, so I think we should be there or thereabouts come May. That being said, the beauty of the Championship is that it’s so competitive and a number of teams are only a couple of poor results away from slipping down the table fairly quickly.
A bit of both, in truth. We looked a bit impotent in attack in the first ten games of the season and we were being overrun in midfield, in particular. It’s probably fair to say it took a few games for Jensen, Nørgaard and Mbeumo to adapt to the intensity of the Championship.
In October, Frank changed the defence from a back three, with wing backs, to a traditional back four. Since then we’ve looked like a completely different team. It’s obvious that Jansson and Pinnock feel more comfortable in a back four and we are better able to utilise Mbeumo and Benrahma in a 4-3-3.
League results so far…
How do you rate him as a manager?
I’m a big fan of Thomas Frank. He’s very honest in his assessment of the team and he’s not afraid to change things up. We brought in a lot of new players in the summer and he has done very well to integrate the new signings into our system this season.
Last season he changed our formation in December, following an absolutely dreadful run of form, which resulted in a very positive second half of the season. Similarly, this season he recognised that the system wasn’t working and changed the formation in October to afford greater protection to the midfield, which has worked very well.
We have been linked with Lyle Taylor at Charlton but for me, the primary objective in January has to be to hang on to the players we have. There are bound to be rumours circulating this month about Watkins, Benrahma and Jansson, all of whom would be huge losses. We don’t hide from the fact that we are a club who will sell for the right price and I would be pleasantly surprised if all three were here next season, but it would be great to keep hold of them for the remainder of this season.
One of the key issues we are likely to encounter as the season progresses is the lack of depth in our squad. That being said we have strengthened the squad somewhat this month, with Emiliano Marcondes returning from his loan spell at FC Midtjylland and Halil Dervisoglu arriving from Sparta Rotterdam.
Ins: >>> Bryan Mbeumo, 19, RW, Troyes, £5.85m >>> Pontus Jansson, 28, CB, Leeds, £5.54m >>> Mathias Jensen, 23, CM, Celta Vigo, £3.4m >>> Christian Norgaard, 25, DM, Fiorentina, £3.1m >>> David Raya, 23, GK, Blackburn, £3m >>> Ethan Pinnock, 26, CB, Barnsley, £3m >>> Halil Dervisoglu, 20, CF, Rotterdam, £2.7m >>> Joel Valencia 24, AM, Piast Gliwice (Poland), £1.8m >>> Dominic Thompson, 19, LB, Arsenal, Undisclosed >>> Drew Yearwood, 19, CM, Southend, Undisclosed >>> Nikolaos Karelis, 27, CF, Genk, Free
Outs: >>> Neal Maupay, 22, CF, Brighton, £19.8m >>> Ezri Konsa, 21, CB, Villa, £12m >>> Romaine Sawyers, 27, AM, West Brom, £3m >>> Daniel Bentley, 25, GK, Bristol City, £1.98m >>> Chiedozie Ogbene, 22, LW, Rotherham, Undisclosed >>> Lewis MacLeod, 25, CM, Wigan, Free >>> Yoann Barbet, 26, CB, Free, QPR >>> Moses Odubajo, 25, RB, Sheff Wed, Free >>> Jack Bonham, 25, GK, Gillingham, Free >>> Josh McEachran, 26, CM, Birmingham, Free >>> Marcus Forss, 20, CF, Wimbledon, Loan >>> Emiliano Marcondes, 24, LW, Midtjylland (Denmark), Loan >>> Ellery Balcombe, 19, GK, Viborg (Norway), Loan
Stand out players and weak links in the side?
The recent form of our front three has understandably generated a lot of focus, but our biggest improvement this season has undoubtedly been in defence. Pontus Jansson is a colossus and the sort of captain we have been craving for years. We have conceded 20 goals this season, the fewest in the division, which is a huge improvement on the 60 we conceded last season.
In terms of weaknesses, I still don’t feel that we have a settled midfield and no obvious leader in the middle of the park. This is an area in which I would like to see us invest.
This is the first season where I’m struggling to resist the urge to get carried away. The league is so tight and a couple of poor results could see us drop into mid-table; however I feel that our defence is so solid that we won’t lose many games and we are realistic playoff contenders. It would be great to finish in the top six, although history is not on our side in the playoffs. A lot will depend on keeping our key players this month.
The Twitter @loftforwords, @BillyTheBee99, @Beesotted
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