Brentford Head Coach Dean Smith believes his squad are in a great place ahead of the opening day of the new EFL season. The Bees head to Bramall Lane on Saturday off the back of an unbeaten pre-season campaign which has also seen Henrik Dalsgaard, Luke Daniels, Ollie Watkins, Neal Maupay, and Kamohelo Mokotjo arrive at Griffin Park. After a fine pre-season so far, Dean admits the only thing left to do is pick his starting XI for Saturday’s game against The Blades.
“We have recruited really well and had a really good pre-season so far,” said Dean, speaking to the press ahead of the new campaign. “The players are in good shape and all pushing each other. They are waiting for me to let a few of them down with the decision of naming the team. While it will be disappointing for them, one of the things that we have been pointing out over pre-season is that we have a really competitive squad. We felt we had lacked a bit of consistency but with the squad that we have got we can chop and change to suit matches. Players will be playing to hang onto the jerseys which is good. Hopefully we can get that consistency that we are craving.”
The unbeaten pre-season campaign, which included a 2-1 win over Europa League Semi-Finalists Celta Vigo and a 2-2 draw with Premier League Southampton, has raised expectations around TW8, especially coming on the back of three consecutive top ten finishes in the second tier. Despite the increase in expectation, Dean doesn’t believe there is any extra pressure on him or his players to deliver Premier League football to Griffin Park this season.
“There’s no extra pressure because the pressure has always been there, from the players and coaching staff, to go and deliver performances,” Dean revealed. “It is a very close knit group: it is a really good football club to be at and we are all, including the fans, pushing in the same direction. There’s always been a pressure that put on ourselves and I would feel we haven’t recruited well if the players weren’t putting a pressure on themselves. The aim of the football club is to get to the Premier League. Hopefully we can do that this season. The drive and the energy is there for all to see at the moment. We have to maintain that. It can’t be a four or five week spell. It has to be a 46 game spell. Every point is worth fighting for.”
The 46 game Sky Bet Championship marathon gets underway on Saturday with a trip to last season’s runaway League One winners Sheffield United. The Blades will be tough opponents for The Bees after smashing through the 100 point barrier in ending a six-year stay in the third tier last season, losing just three times at home all campaign.
“I went to watch them at Eastleigh on Friday and they played two different teams for 45 minutes,” said Dean. “They were very comfortable in possession when I watched them against Stoke City. I watched them a few times last season and Chris Wilder and Alan Knill have done a fantastic job. They had been struggling to get out of League One for six years so it makes for a really tough test on Saturday. I would expect a really good atmosphere at a full house. I took Walsall there a number of times and it was always a really good atmosphere. We will certainly be respectful in terms of what they are capable of. You have to take notice of any team that gets 100 points in a league season. We have to make sure that we are on our best on the day.”