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Interviews

💬 "You need drive and belief in you every day that you can win the next game"

Thomas Frank previews today's trip to Elland Road

5 December 2021

Team News …

Everyone should be fit and available from last night.

Wissa is the one who maybe hasn’t been training with the team as much; it could be early for him [to start] but let’s see. Mathias Jensen and Shandon Baptiste are definitely closer.

Dealing with a busy December …

Rest and recovery is a big thing. The better we can do that, the more fit, ready, and fresh the players will be. It is the right balance of a bit of rotation and using the subs well; we need to win a game over 90 minutes not over 30 minutes. The human body is capable of doing much more than we think. If I decided to play the same 11 players in the ten games we have this December spell, they could do it. It might be the right thing to do for some of them as they are more robust than others. I need to look at the individual needs and after all that, I will take a decision and put a team out that can compete on Sunday.

I have never met a player that doesn’t want to play. If there is a little doubt for the medical team or the performance team then I need to listen to those two but also listen to the player. I think the player is the most important to listen to as he knows if he is ready or not. If they say they are ready then I trust them.

If you can keep a mental freshness, you are able to push your body more. The head is the most important thing because you are capable of pushing yourself much more than you think. The fresher we can be physically and mentally, the better. This is the first three game week in I don’t know how long. We will be ready for it and we train for it. We’ve been adding more higher sprints and sprint distances during the week to make sure we can cope with it. The players are looking forward to it and I am looking forward to it.

Thursday’s defeat to Tottenham Hotspur …

I love that we were, and are, very disappointed that we didn’t get something out of the game. Looking back at the game they won it fair and square but there are moments that could have gone either way. I loved our approach; we were front-footed, we were aggressive, we were pressing forward and pressing high throughout the game. I love that we were brave and wanted to be on the ball. Did we create enough in the first-half? No, but we were playing against a quite decent team. Second-half we had a very good spell just before the second goal. First-half maybe Tottenham had a bit more of the ball, but they created that set-piece goal and the counter-attack for Moura and that was it. If we don’t concede that goal, it would be a different game. We were in the game and sniffing something but one loss of concentration and some world-class play, it was 2-0 and game over.

Our recent points haul …

I believe a lot in consistency in performances, which we have had this season, then the points will come. Sometimes they will come a lot, like 12 in seven games. We’ve got four points in seven games but we’ve still put in good performances overall through the seven games. Hopefully, in the next seven games we’ll get 12 points. The form is there, which is the most important thing, because football is a random game. Last night’s set-piece goal was slightly deflected by Bryan Mbeumo and then the margin of Pontus Jansson heading it into the back of Sergi Canos. At the other end we had a long-throw at the end of the first-half with three dangerous situations that didn’t drop for us. That’s just random. Overall, Tottenham have much more quality than us but I just love that we are brave, aggressive, and forward-thinking. That is so important; if we can have that approach over 38 games, we will be absolutely fine.

Marcello Bielsa …

Marcello Bielsa is a big inspiration to me throughout my coaching career. The first time I really looked into it was in 2007/08 when he was the Head Coach of Chile. It was the same style as they have at Leeds now and I tried to incorporate some of his principles into my Under-16 team. For me it was a big moment when I faced him in a game as, for me, he is one of the greatest in terms of developing football. When he said to me before a game that we were well set up and my players knew what to do offensively and defensively, that meant a lot to me.   

Leeds United …

Their first season didn’t surprise me. I knew they would make it very difficult for a lot of teams. They played some fantastic football. This year, have they been slightly unlucky in games, have they had slightly more injuries to their key players? It is very important to have all your best players fit and available. For me, Leeds are a big asset to the Premier League because of their history and fans but also because of the style of play they have. I am a big admirer of how Leeds play.

They are close to being back to full power. I watched the first 20 minutes intensity against Crystal Palace and that was the Leeds team that I know. I expect to see unbelievable intensity in how they press. I am completely aware of what we are going to face on Sunday. In some ways, with the intensity they play with, it is going to be one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced so far this season.  

Emulating Leeds’ success from last year …

You have your own belief as a head coach and as a club. I believe so much in my players and what they are capable of. You need to look at other clubs and get inspiration so Leeds, Wolves, and Sheffield United were an inspiration for that. Those were three clubs I looked at, tried to take the best things from that, and tried to tweak that around how we do it.

Patrick Bamford …

Patrick Bamford is a very good striker. He is clearly the number one striker they have; every single time he has been fit he has played. He can press, run in behind, and, most importantly, can score goals.   

Pontus Jansson’s return to Leeds …

He is looking forward to it. He always praises Leeds massively; that was a fantastic time in his career. He has fallen in love a few times in his life with Malmo, Leeds, and Brentford. For him, in some ways, it will be a more special feeling to go on the pitch this time because he wanted badly to be promoted with Leeds and it didn’t happen. Now it’s happened with Brentford; with both teams in the Premier League, hopefully it is going to be a very nice occasion.

The balance of the team …

It is a balance of having enough offensive players on the pitch who have that quality and then, on the day, sometimes you just have more quality. Wissa, Shandon Baptiste, and Mathias Jensen are players with a little bit more offensive skillset but they are not in the best place because of injuries. Hopefully they are coming back so we can adjust the team when needed. Sometimes we need to win the game over 90 minutes, like we did yesterday bringing them on, and sometimes they will start.

Dealing with defeats …

It is that fine balance between having confidence and belief that you can go to Tottenham and win, as it hurts a bit more when you can’t, but also having the understanding and perspective that we are up against a world class team so the chance of winning is a little bit less. You need to have a drive and belief in you every day that you can win the next game and then deal with that in the best possible way if you don’t.

Bryan Mbeumo …

Seasons are always long and it goes a little bit up and down. If you look at him so far this season, he has been much better at taking care of the ball, he is losing the ball way less which is very important. He is getting chances and is a very good pressing player. He is a very good deep runner and at linking up play. He is only 22 years old so he will grow and develop.

Playing style …

We still try to build from behind and get on the ball. We do, in moments, go longer when needed but that’s also because we have the opportunity with Ivan Toney up top. It is a pretty good idea to mix it up. We are facing much more quality. We are not one of the best teams in the league like we were last year. We still like to be good on the ball and create so it’s about getting that balance of being an aggressive, pressing team but also finding what is it that gets us enough points to finish as high as possible.

Today's game is not live in the UK. Fans around the world, can click here to see if the game is on where you are. 

Domestic fans can join Mark Burridge, Ben Burgess, and Isaiah Rankin for live Bees Player Commentary


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