With two games in 72 hours over the Easter weekend, The Bees are entering a big period of the season according to Dean Smith. First up are Sheffield United at Griffin Park on Friday before a trip down to Ashton Gate to take on Bristol City next Monday. With both The Blades and The Robins above Brentford in the league, Dean concedes that this is a must-win weekend for his side if they are to prolong their Play-Off ambitions.
Speaking to iFollow Brentford ahead of Friday’s game, Dean said: “It’s a big period for us because of the teams that we are playing against. We have got to a stage now where they are must-win games for us. We have been playing catch up since the first eight games of the season and we have worked really hard to catch up. What we don’t want to do is to fail miserably over this weekend so we will go all-out to win these games. Where we finish up is where we finish up but we just have to concentrate on each game as it comes. These two are two teams above us so we can’t let that gap extend any further or the season is over in terms of a Play-Off campaign.”
Friday’s game is a repeat of the season opener which saw The Blades take the points thanks to a single Billy Sharp strike at Bramall Lane. The Bees had chances that day, most notably through Lasse Vibe, Nico Yennaris, and Neal Maupay, to secure at least a point but left South Yorkshire empty handed. Dean would like to get a measure of revenge for that defeat on Friday but knows, with United currently six points better off than Brentford in ninth, that will not be easy.
“We knew that it was going to be a tough game with them having such a successful season last season,” Dean said of the opening day fixture. “Chris Wilder did a fantastic job in League One and has kept it going this season. They are above us in the table but we certainly deserved a minimum of a draw that day. Lasse Vibe has missed the header and then Nico Yennaris missed the rebound. We’ve had too many of them this season, where we have missed the really big chances. It would be nice to get the win against them on Friday but we know that they are going well, and have gone well all season.”
That opening day defeat is one of a number of games The Bees could reflect ruefully on should they miss out on the top six this campaign. Looking back on their defeats this campaign, Dean feels you’d only need the fingers of one hand to count those that his side deserved to be beaten in. While that may be of little consolation now, Dean feels it is something that the group can take into next season.
“I look back at the games we have lost and there aren’t many where I have come off the pitch thinking that they deserved to beat us,” admitted Dean. “Wolverhampton Wanderers created a number of opportunities against us away from home and I thought Cardiff City deserved to beat us but other than those I can’t find too many where I have come away thinking we deserved to get beaten. That just shows me that the level of our performance now is higher than it has ever been. If we don’t make the top six we will be disappointed but it will also be something to carry forward for next season.”
Dean has been able to welcome all the international Bees back into training this week after they were in action on four continents over the past seven days. The Bees Head Coach was pleased to see them all come back fit and well and feels, particularly in the case of Alan Judge and Chris Mepham, they have come back with a spring in their step.
“All in all they have come back really well and had great experiences,” revealed Dean. “Alan Judge was the first one to come back. It was great for him to get a call-up and to get ten minutes; it is good news for him to see that Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane have him in their plans. Kamohelo Mokotjo and South Africa have gone and won a cup which is really good. It was a great achievement for Chris Mepham to go over to China and make his debut with Wales. It will be a good experience playing and training with the likes of Gareth Bale and Joe Allen every day. Romaine Sawyers is back now from the Caribbean and Henrik Dalsgaard played one game for Denmark and got a black eye. They have all come back in really good spirits and are back training.”
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