“I feel the team should be where we are but we could be a lot better”
Brentford skipper Harlee Dean said that The Bees squad are putting pressure on themselves to get back to winning ways when they head to Lancashire to face Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. The Bees go into the game in 12th place, four points outside the Play-Off places after defeat to Fulham last time out before the international break. Speaking to Bees Player ahead of the match, Harlee said that victory over Rovers is the only way to respond to that defeat and start moving back up the table.
“It is good to be back in training after a few days off and we are looking forward to the game now against a team that we think we can beat,” said Harlee. “They are a team that is struggling at the moment but they have got some good players. Sam Gallagher up top is a good player and they have some other good players but they look like a team that is not really sure on their style of play. Hopefully we can use that against them and control the game. Regardless of whether you are home or away you need to respond with a win after a loss. There is pressure on us but we put pressure on ourselves. Most people probably don’t think mid-table is a bad position for us, but we do and we want to be better. We have to go into every game feeling we can win.”
Dean Smith’s side head into the game at Ewood Park having not won back-to-back matches since August. Harlee, who has missed just two games all season, feels that a mid-table position is where The Bees deserve to be based on the opening 16 games of the season but has aims on being much higher.
“I feel the team should be where we are but we could be a lot better,” said Harlee. “Consistency is key. The boys will be honest that a few of them have been good in spells and then dropped off. We have to be consistent in as many games as possible. That will leave us in good sted and we will win more games than we lose. If you win three or four in this league it will shoot you up the table. We can easily do it but we all have to be consistent, not just for one game or for 135 minutes, but for two, three, or four games in a row and see where it takes us.”
Harlee, alongside John Egan, has helped The Bees to keep six of their seven clean sheets so far this season, also popping up at the other end to net his first goal since November 2014 in September’s 5-0 win over Preston North End. The 25-year-old feels that he is currently enjoying some of his best form at Griffin Park, especially given the pressure of Andreas Bjelland and Yoann Barbet waiting in the wings to get their chance at centre-back.
“Even though two play and two might miss out we are a four who are very connected and positive with each other,” said Harlee. “We want the best for each other and we do push each other but me and John Egan are doing a good job at the minute. I will be honest that this is probably the most solid that I have felt in the five years that I have been here. We’ve had seven clean sheets this season already and we should have had a few more but it is a good start. We haven’t got many early goals this season so we have been important in stopping them scoring and giving everyone in front of us an opportunity to win the game. As well as that the back four has popped up with goals, John has three, I have one, and Maxime Colin has one, so we are doing our job at one end of the pitch and we are chipping in at the other end but we could be doing more.”
The break for the latest round of international fixtures also saw a new arrival in the Dean household as Harlee Junior was born last Monday. Harlee admitted it was a blessing that his son was born during the international break and admits that becoming a father for the first time has given him a new outlook on his football career.
“It came at the perfect time with no game as it has taken me a little while to get used to it,” said Harlee. “Football is my life but it is not the be-all and end-all now. I will never take it for granted or change the way that I play but now I have someone relying on me who I need to perform for. There is a lot more importance in my mind about where I want to be going in my career now as I have to do it for him too.”