On the eve of his first anniversary as Brentford manager, Thomas Frank spoke to the Totally Football League Show about dealing with the flux at the club, how Ollie Watkins is replacing Neal Maupay and improving every day…
One of the first things any Brentford manager has to deal with is the constant state of flux. Their policy of finding rough diamonds, polishing them before selling at a healthy profit means that squad churn is inevitable, but this summer was more severe than most.
Ten players – including key man like Neal Maupay, Romaine Sawyers and Ezri Konsa – left, and 12 came in. With that in mind, perhaps their slightly slow start to the season is understandable. The Bees have three wins to their name, although the performance at the weekend in their 3-1 win over Barnsley offered a little more hope that better times might be ahead.
And while he would clearly have liked more points to their name, manager Thomas Frank is quietly pleased with how the opening weeks of the season have gone, as he told the Totally Football League Show this week.
“There was there was quite a big turnover this summer in terms of players out and in,” said Frank. “You need time to build that continuity [in the team] and build a bit of momentum and a relationship [between the players]. So I think that’s part of why we haven’t just hit top performances. Especially with the way we play, it’s important that we try to create those relations and then and get it clicking.
“Defensively, we’re very solid, but going forward I tried to search for that. The team that could get us playing the way we wanted to play. And then then I believe you need to play some some players, some some games together.
“I think if you guys follow us closely, [you’ll know] there’s been some some games where we definitely should have gotten three points, especially the first game against Birmingham when we were winning 1-0 – I think the shots statistic was 15 to 1. And away to Charlton and was 21 to 3.
“I think we’ve been much better defensively. I think we have been improving our that side of the game very much so now we are quite solid. So the thing we are lacking is actually going forward, but hopefully we will turn that around.”
For that, they will need more players to chip in with some goals. Maupay’s departure left a hole to fill up front, the responsibility for which has fallen to Ollie Watkins, and he is coping with that rather nicely, scoring seven of the eight league goals Brentford have managed this season, including a hat-trick at Barnsley.
“I can’t praise Ollie enough for his dedication and humility,” Frank told the Totally Football Show, “and just a willingness to work hard and learn every single day.
“He went into a new role. – of course, he played some games as a striker, and before that any player played as a 10. But of course, you need to learn some some new positions and a little bit more [about being a centre forward].
“We’ve been working very hard with him on that perspective, and he has definitely embraced it. He could’ve scored even more goals on Sunday. We are very pleased and happy with him. But I would prefer and hope that some of the other players are chipping in and hopefully scoring some goals as well.”
That last point is key. Midfielder Bryan Mbeumo is the only other Brentford player to find the net this season, and while they may have some new players looking to settle in, that has to improve quickly if they are to climb the table.
Frank himself is coming up to his year anniversary as Bees manager, stepping up last October when Dean Smith moved to Aston Villa. So how does he reflect on the last 12 months in charge?
“I’m loving it, every single day,” he said. “It’s a top club. We are not the biggest, but I think really we stand out now in our strategy and, especially the guys behind it – [owner] Matthew Benham and the two sporting directors, Phil (Giles) and Rasmus (Ankersen). So it’s a it’s a pleasure to walk in every single day to the training ground.
“There’s a lot of hungry players, a lot of hungry staff members, so we hope we can still improve every single day.”
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