Brentford kicked off the 2021/22 Premier League season with a 2-0 win over Arsenal. After the game, Thomas Frank spoke to the written press via a video call. Jim Levack, who has covered Brentford for many years for Press Association, among others, was on the call. Here's what Thomas had to say..........
“Before the game I wanted us to give everything on the pitch, for the fans to get behind us off the pitch and a victory. It was check, check, check and a perfect night so now I can go home happy.”
“I have such big belief in this group and this team. I knew we were going to face Arsenal, a massive club with better individual unbelievable players and a top coach, but I just had this feeling before the game that I’d be disappointed if we didn’t beat them. Maybe I could have had a massive reality check, but on the day we deserved to win the game fair and square.”
Pressing high and low
That will play a major role in how the Bees perform in the top-flight this season and Thomas insisted the squad won’t stray from the game-by-game approach.
“I know that we will try to attack as much as possible and press as high as possible which we did very well in spells today. But we know we need to defend high and low if we want to achieve something good in this league, so I’m very pleased we kept them down to a minimum of clear-cut chances and we deserved to win the game.”
With Brentford’s starting line up having less than 20 minutes Premier League experience between them and costing less than many clubs spend on one player, Thomas says the values that have got the Club this far will never change.
“They are a quite remarkable group of players. We speak a lot about having to perform and work hard but we also have this unique togetherness and an attitude where we are confident but humble. We needed to go out there and believe we can beat Arsenal and believe that we are a good team because even though it’s the Premier League it’s 11 against 11. We have big belief in this team and there are some really good characters and personalities that believe in themselves.”
Celebrating the small wins
Asked if the Arsenal win had set a benchmark for the season in terms of the Bees’ aspirations, Thomas swerved the answer as neatly as an Ethan Pinnock touchline turn.
“We worked very hard to be ready to play this game we top performed against a very big team. We need to celebrate the small wins and then when we train again this week there will be one focus… to train unbelievably well and perform against Crystal Palace to beat them.”
“I am pleased with the performance but we all know it’s about having consistency over 38 games and I need to see more. I’m very proud of them and they deserve praise but I need to look at the game and spells I’m not satisfied with and things we need to do better. I think it was a top performance. We looked comfortable in many ways but of course we were under pressure at times playing against world class players so there are still bits I want us to do better.”
History maker Sergi Canós struck again to be the club’s first scorer in the Premier League to add to his feat of scoring the first goal in the new stadium against Oxford United last year.
“Sergi had a top game and he was out for whole season [in 2019/20] with a cruciate ligament injury. It can take a year to get back to the same high consistent level, but he pushed himself and really did everything to be a 24/7 pro in terms of nutrition and rest and working hard. Today he kept running and running. He is remarkable, just remarkable.”
“We focus on the tactical side and how we want to set up. The 3-5-2 worked against Arsenal but I like us to flexible so we can change to other systems. The clean sheet meant a lot and that’s why we can talk tactics and structure all day long, but at the end it’s that value of togetherness where you dig in and work hard, that will get you over the line.”
Mads Bidstrup, Marcus Forss and Mads Bech became the first trio of players to appear in the Premier League for The Bees after progressing through the Brentford B pathway. Their involvement was a very real tribute to the work of Robert Rowan, our Technical Director, who died in 2018 and was warmly remembered by a minute’s ovation in the 28th minute of the Arsenal game.
“It was a very emotional moment when we applauded Robert. We were leading 1-0 and a picture of him and me flashed up on the screen. That was a really ‘woo’ moment because he was and is a big part of why we are in the Premier League now. Then I was able to give him even more credit by bringing on young player at the end of a Premier League game and that made the night complete in a way.”
Thomas will have no hesitation in giving Brentford B players their chance in the Premier League.
“I put the best player on the pitch that can solve the task and for me this was Mads Bidstrup. We also have Saman Ghoddos who is a really good player, but we needed someone who is a fantastic player who can press and cover the pitch a lot and Mads is really good at that.”
Kristoffer Ajer’s ankle
“It was just a little cramp. Nothing to worry about.”
An estimated global audience of 190 million tuned in to watch us power to the top of the league… temporarily at least.
“Maybe we had 100 fans outside West London but now maybe we have a few more after this historic evening. It was a big moment and I think a combination of so many things – our first game in the Premier League, an evening game, a full house and a great performance. Everyone in stadium will never forget it and I was proud to be part of it.”