Brentford Head Coach Dean Smith feels there’s a real edge in training at the moment as players compete for a spot in The Bees starting XI. After winning five of their last six in the Sky Bet Championship, Dean has stuck with a largely unchanged XI for the last few weeks. The run of form, and consistent team selection, has also coincided with a return to fitness for a number of first-team players which has pushed the intensity and quality of training to an even higher level.
Speaking to iFollow Brentford ahead of Saturday’s visit from Norwich City, Dean said: “When the team is winning and doing well it is for the other players to show me what they are about. Right from the start I have been telling the players that I want the ones not in the 11 to be pushing the ones who are, and they are certainly doing that at the moment. We have a great group of lads who are very competitive with each other. They are pushing each other in training and in match situations. They want to get each other’s shirts but there is a great camaraderie off the pitch. That team spirit and togetherness is ultimately what has got us on a good run currently.”
As well as winning five of the last six in the league, The Bees are also 13 unbeaten at home in the second tier, a run which stretches all the way back to August. The most recent of those victories came on the road last Saturday, as nearly 3,000 away fans roared the side on to victory at The Madejski Stadium against Reading. Dean was incredibly thankful for the fans’ support in Berkshire last weekend and feels they have just as important a job to do back at Griffin Park on Saturday.
“The supporters have been very patient with us all season and got behind us right from the off,” said Dean. “We had a bit of a slow start but they never turned on the players or myself at any stage. They stuck with us and are getting the rewards with some really good football at the moment. The only thing that they could see was missing at the beginning was results. We are starting to get them now and there’s a great rapport between the staff, players, and supporters at the moment. Hopefully we can take that into the game and have it as our 12th man on Saturday.”
Next to make the journey to West London is a Norwich City side which The Bees beat 2-1 just before Christmas, Lasse Vibe the man to get both goals. Since that defeat on home soil, The Canaries have picked up 13 points from a possible 18, and took Chelsea all the way to penalties in the Emirates FA Cup Third Round last week. Dean expects Daniel Farke’s side to be a different proposition to the one Brentford faced a month ago but believes his side will be well prepared for the challenge.
“I expect them to be different from Carrow Road,” admitted Dean. “We got two first-half goals, put them on the back foot, and turned their crowd a little bit against them. Since then they have had a reversal in fortunes. They put in two great performances against Chelsea, taking them all the way to penalties in the FA Cup, and unfortunately got beaten by Sheffield United. They went to Bristol City and beat them. They’ve had some really good results, and changed their system, to a three at the back. Whether that’s because they played Chelsea and Sheffield United, who play with a three, I don’t know but they kept it for Bristol City. We will see what turns up but we have to concentrate on ourselves. Thankfully for us the players are very tactically astute and they are executing game-plans well.”
Dean also gave a quick update on the movement, or lack of it, as the January transfer window heads towards its conclusion. Smiling, Dean said: “Not a lot has changed from last week which is always pleasing. I don’t see much happening: it’s been very quiet. I’ve had a couple of conversations with Phil and Rasmus but that’s as far as it has gone.”
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