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Thomas Talks… Pride at fearing no one

Report from the post-match written press conference after Manchester City reverse

30 December 2021

Brentford ended 2021 with a home defeat against Premier League leaders, and defending champions, Manchester City. A goal early in the first half was enough to give City the points on a mild December evening. After the game, Thomas Frank spoke to the written press via a video call. Jim Levack, who has covered Brentford for many years for Press Association, among others, reports on what Thomas had to say..........

Simple superlatives

“It was an incredible, unbelievable, fantastic performance, especially in the first half, against the best team in Europe at the moment. City have been fantastic offensively but they also have their moments where they are in form and not in form, and we met them at their highest level.”

Finding the balance

“This game was a very good reminder to me that the concentration is so closely linked to the discipline not to get impatient. And I think the players did fantastically there. They deserve a lot of praise for that throughout 90 minutes, especially when you’re 1-0 down and you want to go a little bit higher but we can't go too much because then we're opening up and City can cut through teams like they've done so many times. So that was very impressive and it showed a lot about my players mentality.”

Fearing no one

“What impressed me so much was how quiet we kept City. I would have loved to keep it 0-0 for a little bit longer and it’s annoying that we conceded that goal because it was avoidable.

"But the belief is there because we’ve done it against Chelsea and Liverpool and we can do it against any team. And I wanted us to push it a bit more in the second half and get them higher, but unfortunately we didn't have that sharpness or quality on the day.”

A defensive masterclass

“The first half for me was a masterclass in defensive organisation and mentality in the low block. We gave one chance away in 45 minutes and that's the goal that's marginally on side. We created three very good chances we need to take, so the first half was fantastic.”

Shutting the floodgates

“The second half was fine and we still defended very well. If you look at the context of recent weeks when City scored six against Leicester, beat Leeds 7-0 and Newcastle 4-0, we gave two half chances away to Jesus and Foden, and that’s remarkable.”

Inexperienced lionhearts

“We lacked the cutting edge in the second half either on set pieces or the transition, but all the boys did unbelievably well. It was Dominic Thompson’s second start in the Premier League, Mads Roerslev has never played a full season in any league, Shandon Baptiste the same, and it was only Mads Bech’s second start. We were lacking six starters and we’re not like City who can bring in Grealish, Foden, Sterling or Mahrez.”

Deserving a point

“I’m so incredibly proud and I said to the players that they should be proud and very, very pleased with this performance… because I think actually we fully deserved at least a point. It was also performance that definitely gave me a little bit more confidence in some of the players that haven't played that much. I think everyone did well.”

The strategy works

“We also have many injuries and I know other clubs do too but there’s a big difference between us and City or other clubs in terms of depth of squad, but this is a strategy we believe in. That's why I believe that Dominic Thompson and Mads Roerslev can step in and play against world class players and do well because we do a good job as a whole club.”

Being (slightly) braver

“We know we are very good in the low block and defending but then I also want us to play even more fantastic entertaining football going forward and we try to do that when we are on top of games or against teams other than City. But we try always to be brave and go toe to toe as much as possible.”

Managing expectations

“It’s been an incredible 2021. I always want more so we'll see if we can make it a better 2022 but I think it's going to be difficult because of promotion for the first time in 74 years, the fantastic start to Premier League and some incredible moments we’ve shared. I think we've been unlucky and have deserved more points than we have.”

Avoiding ‘soft’ fouls

“David (Coote) did a good job as ref but when you play against the best team in Europe at the moment with the best players you need these soft fouls to go your way and I don't think they went our way enough. I don't think it was a disaster but you know, just come on, give us a little bit.

"As long as it's it goes both ways then I'm very pleased that that we’re trying to avoid soft fouls because I think too many players go down too easily just from a touch, not City just in general, and I think that's something we need to avoid.”

Rico Henry’s fitness race

“Rico will be out for Villa but could be in contention for the Liverpool game, and there is a hope that Bryan Mbeumo can be available, but that’s touch and go. Kristoffer Ajer is training with the team so that's a big plus for us. I hope he can be on the bench for Villa but we’ll take that decision in the coming days. And then hopefully start him in the Port Vale game and see how he is.”

The 12th man

“The fans were amazing throughout the game, and they kept pushing us. I really wanted to give them that goal that could give us a fantastic point. They have been incredible and a big part of our fantastic journey so far, but it’s a journey we’re only just starting on.”

… and a Pep talk from Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola

“We played the game in this stadium against this team the way it must be played. We had to have a lot of patience and concede few set pieces, throw ins and corners and free kicks, and move the ball left to right in the moment. In the end the quality of the players made the difference, so it was a good victory.”

“Brentford fight for every ball like the last one and in some games we have to play with a rhythm that we need to win and today we needed this type of rhythm. If you attack them quick, they will attack quicker and quicker. They’ve done it with Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo and they finish really well, create freekicks, corners and these kind of set pieces the best. Every time they put the ball in the box, they are so good.”

“Just looking at Brentford’s results this season they have been so tight against Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal and won at West Ham, so the team and what they do is exceptional. That’s why we played perfectly the game we should play. They were missing quality players but the shape they play is so difficult to attack them, so you have to be patient.”

“We’re going to lose games, it’s going to happen but when it happens we will be calm, relax and try again… being relaxed is the best way to approach games.”

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