Dean Smith was in high spirits when addressing the media ahead of Saturday’s trip to the Stadium of Light. Following a 1-1 draw with Preston North End last time out, Brentford sit eight points adrift of sixth-placed Bristol City. The Bees Head Coach admitted that the next few weeks could prove pivotal in the race for the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off places.
“Every time you don’t win it becomes a bit harder - particularly when the teams above you are picking up points - but we’ve always focused on the next game. Our ambition at the start of the season was to finish inside the top six and there’s no reason for that to change with 15 games to go. The outcome of the last couple of games has been a bit disappointing, but the performance levels have been good and that’s all we can control.
“We believe that the football club is progressing very well. The team has been consistent this season but we haven’t got the wins that our play has deserved. There’s a lot of good players in the group; last week I was forced to make three changes but it didn’t change the shape, the way that we played or our performance levels. There’s still plenty to play for.”
Dean, who said that Brentford have a fully-fit squad for the trip north following Chris Mepham’s return from illness, was adamant that his side must be at their best to take all three points on Saturday.
“They’ve obviously got a lot of character in the team. It’s common knowledge that their home form hasn’t been great this year and we’re hoping to capitalise on that. Bristol City are a good team, so to go 3-0 down at Ashton Gate and come back to earn a draw shows that they’ve got plenty of quality. We have to be very wary of the threat that they pose.
“Whenever we play away from home our plan is to get on the ball and frustrate the opposition. Their fans might be expecting to see a win due to the size of our club, but we’re hoping we can go there and show what we’re about. Chris’ (Coleman) appointment took a lot of people by surprise because he’d done so well with the Welsh national team. He will believe he can turns things around and get the club back to where their fan base believes they should be.”
The former Walsall man said that contract talks were imminent with his current deal due to expire in 2019.
“I was due to speak to Phil (Giles) and Rasmus (Ankersen) this week but that’s been postponed until Monday. We work well together and I feel as though I’m improving as a Coach. I’m challenged every day and I feel that both myself and the Club are progressing. We’re a good fit at the moment so hopefully the talks are positive.”