Thomas Frank: Brentford head coach on undefeated races and fuel for a promotion challenge

Thomas Frank walks into the shot with a fluorescent cup of water in his hand, sits down and sweeps his long hair away from his face.

The Dane, who has gained a reputation as one of EFL’s most charismatic head coaches, is rarely seen without a spring in his crotch, but it is more prominent on this occasion – and with good reason.

Not only did his side reach the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup earlier this month, they are unbeaten in 15 Sky Bet championship outings – stretching back to October 27 – and have a comfortable five-point cushion between themselves and the large group of teams currently out of the top six.

The challenge of setting the record just after last season’s final defeat to Fulham is quickly gaining traction.

“Nine games is the most that a team has played in December in a long, long time, and it’s incredible to get out of that enchantment,” he says. Sky Sports, brilliant.

“I had a meeting with the coaching staff, the performance staff and the medical staff before we went into this busy schedule – which started in mid-November – where we knew we could play 15 games in a row, Saturday midweek -Saturday -Midweek.

“So if anything, we had to pay attention to how we made sure there was enough freshness in the team, how we prevented injuries, how we performed in difficult circumstances. We followed it up every week to try to make sure we nailed it with the small details on and off the field – and it went quite well.

The 47-year-old head coach guided the Bees to the playoffs of the championship last season
The 47-year-old head coach guided the Bees to the playoffs of the championship last season

“[It gives us] massive trust, of course. I do what I can to amplify it every single day, either by showing a video clip of us sprinting back, winning a duel, defending well or some good defensive play. But the best way to show it is when you come from behind.

“It’s not hard when you lead 1-0 and everyone can see that we are close to getting three points, it is when you are down that you have to show how strong you are. The best example is, when we went 1-0 away to Cardiff, which we know is a very difficult team to play against, and turned it around. “

While a recent outbreak of coronavirus at the club forced the matches against Bristol City and Reading to be postponed, the Bees are currently fourth ahead of the weekend’s action, the same position they took at the same step last season, albeit five points better off.

This is another indication that the club in west London – which fielded four Premier League teams with relative ease during their Carabao Cup race – is adequately prepared for what appears to be an inevitable leap to the top flight.

Frank celebrated two years in charge of Brentford in October
Frank celebrated two years in charge of Brentford in October

Their newfound bullishness in the transfer window should also give them an advantage. In the summer, Frank openly stated that precious assets Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma would be allowed to leave the club, and they did so subsequently by joining Aston Villa and West Ham respectively.

This month, however, I have issued a stern warning to all potential suitors. “It shows the club’s progress that I’m able to say it for sure and people will believe it. We are not selling anyone,” he said.

Due to changes in the size of a match day squad during this period, Brentford have been given the chance to blodge youngsters from their innovative and ever-improving B-team, which is now in its fifth season of existence, to complement the first squad, including the former Arsenal youngsters Fin Stevens, Scottish striker Aaron Pressley and Max Haygarth, a recent acquisition from Manchester United.

Frank thinks the setup is somehow from reaching its ceiling.

“When you start a project like the B-team, and when you start turning clubs or playing a different style of play, it takes years,” he continues.

“If you want to set up a good academy and you start today, you will not see the real results within maybe four or five years, and it will probably take between five and ten years. What we have achieved in four years is quite remarkable and I still think we are not where we want to be in terms of the level of players we want to develop.

“It does not mean that the B-team is not doing well because they are doing incredibly well, but it just takes time.

Toney came within inches of having his & # 39;  goal & # 39;  stand after 63 minutes
Ivan Toney has scored 16 goals in 26 appearances for the West London club so far this season

“Many of the players we have in the match day squad are a good, good example of that, but even more important than that are the two players who have played quite a few minutes. It is Mads Bech Sorensen and Marcus Forss who have been through the program and not only played, but did well at the top of the championship.

“It’s the real test that we not only have players in the first team team, but we actually play them in matches, start them in matches and extend their contracts, because we believe that they are not only players in the squad, but they are crucial players. “

Brentford’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last week saw Frank throw himself at Jose Mourinho – who he humanised at his pre-match press conference by saying: “I have been studying football for years and Jose is one of the greatest ever . I’m still pretty sure he also goes to the toilet sometimes. “

Since everything is fine in TW8, it can be a regular meeting.

“He said he hoped but also expected to see us in the Premier League and I said I hoped so but you never know it’s a difficult league,” adds Frank.

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Highlights of the Carabao Cup semi-final draw between Tottenham and Brentford

“I think that [last season] must be the fuel. We use the extra desire, the extra determination, and I also think we have shown that we are growing as a team.

“Since the Watford game [on December 15] and going forward, I think we’ve had longer periods with the more free-flowing football that we prefer to play, but we all know that it’s hard to play free-flowing football for 90 minutes a week, especially with three games a week.

“What we have learned is that we are a little more stable, we make better decisions and we have a little more defensive awareness. The group has just come together and you do not go 15 games undefeated in the championship without a real solidity and cohesion. “Hopefully we can add another level in the second half of the season.”

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