Brentford set to seal return to top after 73-year absence


Thomas Frank, Brentford’s head coach, paused for a moment to consider the matter. Would Premier League riches change Brentford?“You know, when I am silent I need to think,” he said. “I really want, from the bottom of my heart, to say that we will never change. But because money has this mighty power, you never know what’s going to happen.

It’s a truly remarkable state of affairs that Brentford – little old Brentford – even contemplates these questions. Being where they are, 90 minutes from the Premier League at the end of their last season at Griffin Park, is almost a fairy tale in itself.

If they are able to take that final step by beating Fulham in Tuesday night’s play-off final, it would complete one of the great stories in modern English football history.

Since 1947, Brentford has failed to qualify as a high performance team. After 73 years, they fought on the edge of the Premier League – not by spending money, as so many other teams in the Championship have tried, but through innovation and cleverness. Their triumph of creativity and bravery, carried by a small group of people who are not afraid to do things differently.

It will remain a triumph even if they do not clear the last hurdle.

Under the ownership of Matthew Benham, Brentford’s data-driven recruiting approach ensured their stability. And under Frank’s leadership, alongside the club’s two football managers, a common focus on the ‘human touch’ has made them a team capable of competing with the best.

As a club, they hate the “Moneyball” tag, rejecting the idea that they are just numbers. Really, it’s a story about the people – those who are here now and those, like Robert Rowan, the former CTO who tragically passed away in 2018, who helped build this project.

“That’s the big secret,” Frank said. “The human touch. Yes, we are very good on the data side. Yes, we are extremely good at recruiting. But the reason we recruit very well is that we want good characters. It’s so big for me.

In Frank, the former assistant who was promoted after Dean Smith left for Aston Villa in October 2018, Brentford has an engaging and inspiring leader. He never played professionally, but studied sports psychology and started his coaching career working with youth teams in Denmark. Much like the club as a whole, it is a little different. And just like the club as a whole, it works. “We think it all depends on the destination, but on the trip,” he said. “And the trip was fantastic. It’s a continuous journey, like in life, and there are a few stops along the way.

Who could be the hero of Brentford? There are many candidates, especially in their formidable front line “BMW” of Saïd Benrahma, Bryan Mbeumo and Ollie Watkins. Talk to those at the club, however, and it’s the focus on the collective that stands out.

“I’ve told them all, staff and players alike, it’s very rare in the best elite environments that you literally have an entire team that really wants to go through a brick wall for each other,” he said. Frank said. ” Each of them. This is not often the case. It’s a group of actors to work with.

“We have everything to gain and nothing to lose. We’re in the league now and we’ll still be in the league next season if we lose. We can only win. It is important to know this. When we finish the game, there will be no regrets. No regrets. ”

As always, Brentford has all the bases covered. They’ve already decided the order of the penalty shooters if it hits a shootout, for example, and they have specific defensive setups for each scenario of the match.

“We work so hard in training it’s fun to go out and play,” said defenseman Henrik Dalsgaard.


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