Two first half goals condemned Brentford to defeat against Norwich City on Saturday. Mathias Normann put Norwich in front early on before a Teemu Pukki penalty gave the visitors a match-winning lead. Rico Henry pulled one back for Brentford but Norwich took the points.
The match included a Premier League debut for Charlie Goode but an injury to Zanka, who was withdrawn early on. 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, reports on what Thomas had to say..........
Results or form?
“One thing’s for sure, we have performed very well in three of the last four games. Again against Norwich, especially in the second half, we destroyed them and should have got much more out of it.
"We started very well and then they got a goal out of nothing when their player runs through four or five and scores with his weaker foot. Then we came back into it but a little bit out of nothing again they get a penalty that from my point of view is 50-50. But we still stayed in the game and by the end were constantly doing what we could to win it, so when we perform like we have done in these games I see no reason to change the system.”
The law of statistics
“The players had top mentality, top intensity and hard work so I can't ask for more. If you keep doing this, the law of statistics tells me that we will be absolutely fine.
"The Norwich keeper has saved two from Christian Nørgaard. One he knew nothing about the other he saved with his head so if your keeper does that it must be a little bit of luck or margins. So yes, I think it was unlucky.”
Keep calm and carry on
“I hate losing. I'm devastated and my body is burning, and you can also feel that I'm very irritated. I just hate it.
"When I watched the video back it’s reassuring to see that we performed well, so that's very good. But after I did I was more calm because it confirmed to me that we are on the right track. It’s impossible to look at these performances and not get more points if you continue doing that. It's impossible.
"If you look at the stats and Expected Goals (XG) tables through the last five years, you’ll see there'll be absolutely no problem because it will turn around. So we just need to keep faith and keep doing what we're doing and it will turn around.”
Confidence not an issue
“Hopefully we can turn it around at Newcastle next time and then it will take care of itself. But if you look at the actions on the pitch against Norwich, the way they took care of the ball, the way they did a good set and how they wanted it and offered themselves to be available to get the ball, I didn't see any lack of confidence.
"That said you could also see after the 2-0 goal today we still had strong mentality, a lot of willingness, a lot of hard work, but we lost a little bit of discipline and structure because suddenly everyone wanted to do their best, so that's what I'm more worried about at this moment.
"I understand the confidence question, but the way we put in performances is the bit I'm reinforcing in every video meeting and telling them ‘keep doing that and we'll be fine’.”
New feeling… but it’s temporary
”In sport and football after a defeat it just hurts so much, but after a good night's sleep you find out that the sun will actually rise tomorrow and then you start to look forward. It’s a new feeling for this group of players because the last three years we have won a lot, so of course the boys are irritated. There are no smiles.
"But we've been quite consistent in terms of focusing on performances and doing the same bits and that's why we'll be fine this year and we'll get out of this patch, I'm in no doubt of that.”
No new level required
“I don't think finding another level is a problem because again, if you look again at the performances, you can't have the keeper saving the ball with his head every single time. We are more than fine and I don't think we need to find another level because if you perform like this, we already have the level so it's just about keeping going.”
It’s a squad game
“I think it's important to say that we need everyone in the squad and I think Charlie (Goode) did very well. I think we've been very very unlucky with the kind of injuries so far – I’m not sure but I think we have some of the most in the league.
"But it is what it is and that that's why we need a good squad and I need players to be available and ready. We are also very fortunate that we have such a fantastic medical staff who are very much part of the squad.”
Goals will come
“We all know Bryan should have at least two or three more and probably Ivan as well, but I see how they train and I see their mood every single day and I see the mentality and mindset that they go into the games with, so I don't think there's a problem. Analyse Ivan's 11 games so far and his pressing game is fantastic, his link up play and giving players assists is the same.
"Bryan should have scored three goals more and Ivan should have had three more assists, but he's been at an extremely high level in terms of his link up play. It’s about me and the players making sure we get not only Ivan but also Bryan and our offensive players consistently into the right positions in the box.
"It will just be a matter of time before we score more goals and Ivan is scoring, so I’m 100 per cent confident those goals we saw in the Championship will come in the Premier League. I've seen enough of Ivan, Bryan, Yoane Wissa and Marcus Forss that they will score the goals we need in the season.”
The bigger picture
“I understand that games against Burnley and Norwich are decisive games but that’s the case against every team whatever position we or they are at the end of the season. But I take one game at a time and I think if we get three points against Chelsea and we lose to Norwich or vice versa that's the same amount of points. But yes, if you if lose both it’s bad but I’m not thinking like that.”
Sticking to our principles
“We always use the first international break week very consistently and more or less do the same with the same principle we work from – and that's why we've been good. And we still are.
"First week there will be some players who need to do a bit more depending on their fitness level. Some will also play a game midweek, some need to keep their level and then there's some that need to adjust and get some injuries back.
"Then they get a few days off in the week and then next week, Monday, bang. That's when we look forward to Newcastle.”
“I don't believe too much about that Premier League experience argument. I'm pretty sure these players have shown that they can perform in this league and they’ve got some brilliant results so far without any kind of Premier League experience.
"So if you can give me some experience where we guarantee goals, that would be nice. But even some of the top players in the Premier League aren’t scoring all the time, so the answer is no.”
And a few words from former Norwich boss Daniel Farke. Farke left Norwich on Saturday evening after the game, but spoke to the press before he did.
“At this level every game is about the fine margins and they were with us.”
“Brentford are unbelievably difficult to defence against and especially from set pieces they are one of the best sides in the Premier League, so we had to show real resilience to get over the line.”
“We had to get back to our DNA of being better in possession against a Brentford side who, let’s be honest, in terms of physical threat, are hard to play against the way they win the second balls. For a newly promoted side to get 12 points this early is fantastic.”