Massively. They were all but safe going into the final day because they beat West Brom, as I’m sure Brentford fans will vividly remember. No one had expected that relegation battle so when the season finished, everyone was just glad it was over. It was then a case of putting that behind them and moving onto the next one.
Danny Cowley was relieved of his duties as head coach just before the end of the season after less than a year in charge and he’s now been replaced by Carlos Corberan, who is highly thought of by Marcelo Bielsa, having worked under him at Leeds. How does that leadership change seem to be working so far?
It’s difficult to judge on the basis of just a few games but it was a massive shock to everyone when they made that change because the fans likely the Cowleys. Some of the performances after lockdown were not good but the management wasn’t getting the blame for that and, when we asked fans at the end of the season who they credited for getting Town out of the relegation zone and keeping the club in the Championship, they said – overwhelmingly – the Cowleys. But the club want to take the club in a new direction in terms of style so they’ve brought in someone who they see as being a very attacking and exciting head coach.
The goalscoring abilities of Karlan Grant no doubt helped the club keep its head above water last term. There has been plenty of interest from the Premier League, so do you expect him to be moving on before the end of the transfer window next month?
I think it looks more likely that not and, by the time the game comes around, things might have changed somewhat. I don’t think it’s any secret that he himself really wants to play Premier League football and Town are not daft; they’ve known for a long time that he was going to attract interest. He was the subject of a £15 million bid in January that they turned down but at the same time, the club are determined to show that they aren’t prepared to let anyone go for less than their asking price. West Brom are the main name in the frame, so it's a case of whether they are willing to meet that valuation.
At the time of speaking, Danny Ward and Pipa have been brought in permanently, while Joel Pereira has joined on loan from Manchester United. In which other areas would they ideally like to strengthen?
They’ve brought three in so far but they need to get more in, really. Ward has come back from Cardiff after leaving around five-and-a-half years and Town fans remember him as being a bit of an inconsistent winger. He’s since gone away and become a consistent centre forward but has played off the bench a lot over the past couple of years so that, plus the fans’ memories of him, means they were a little bit underwhelmed by that signing, in all honesty. When you look at his statistics, however, he should be a 20-goal-a-season striker if he keeps up the form that he had at Cardiff and plays regularly. Pereira really is there as a back-up goalkeeper, while Pipa – who signed from Espanyol – is a bit of an unknown quantity, but he is a Spain U21 international and he looks to be a very attacking option at full-back, which is a position that they’ve desperately needed to recruit for. There is still work to be done in the market, definitely.
How is Corberan likely to set up his side?
Brentford fans will remember that the Cowleys set up very defensively and tried to play on the break, but that’s not going to be the case with Corberan. The whole reason they brought him in is that they want a manager leading the team that plays on the front foot and tries to take their own game to the opposition. They call it a 4-3-3 but when they are in possession it turns into a 3-4-3 with wing-backs, while that back three will overlap into midfield as well. It’s all about creating numbers in the final third, getting to the byline and trying to get those cut-backs into the box.
And finally, what’s your score prediction for this one?
2-1 to Brentford.
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