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Thomas Talks… small miracles and supersubs

Report from the post-match written press conference after win over Watford

12 December 2021

Brentford scored two late goals to complete a come from behind win over Watford on Friday night. The Bees fell behind against the run of play in the first half but recovered to win 2-1. Pontus Jansson headed his first goal for The Bees before Bryan Mbeumo slotted hom a last gasp penalty.

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..........

Never settling for less

“It’s an amazing feeling. Everything we've been through in terms of injuries, the massive performance against Leeds and only getting a point, two big players out with Covid and playing people out of position all meant we were really hard hit.

“Then we go one down against a Watford team in the Premier League seven out of the last eight seasons with around 1,500 Premier League games between them, compared to our 150. But we fought back, stayed in the game, scored in the 84th minute and never settled for a draw, kept pushing forward and finally got the winner, so it feels unbelievable but well deserved,”

Energy is everything

“We were the best team in the first half especially before the goal, so it was a little bit of a sucker punch. And we conceded at a set piece where we shouldn’t, so we need to do that better. After that, we lost a little bit of energy and struggled a little, but we stayed in the game and talked about it at half time.

“Afterwards we found the spaces between the lines. Shandon and Wissa kept switching, getting more crosses in and we created more tempo and energy. We just kept going and kept going which was remarkable… fantastic mentality.”

Supersubs

“I was so impressed with Marcus Forss and Saman Ghoddos. They were unbelievable. Marcus showed a top mentality after maybe being disappointed not to be selected for the Leeds game and again today when I, for whatever reason, picked another striker.

“But I just knew he’d come on and produce something because he has that top mentality that the best players have. If players have that, they maximise their potential and he had a crucial flick and brought energy and presence in the box. Saman played in the 10 position and then left wing back, and that flexibility is something we’ve worked on in training ­so we’re pleased it produced some big moments.”

Staying in the game

“Last year we were dominating a lot of games and learned to do what we did against Watford. But when you're stepping up it’s a little bit more difficult to dominate games.

“I thought we actually started quite well, but after the goal we lacked energy or dropped a bit in belief. Second half not everything was perfect but we kept passing the ball, kept getting closer, produced some crosses, won the ball back and never went too direct. We kept doing the right thing and eventually that coolness and composure and determination to just keep going was what created the goal and the penalty.”

A small miracle

“We struggled a bit when we started to get the injuries like any team would, and then with two big players out for this game and a suspension, we were without five or six normal starters. Mads Roerslev has never had a full season of professional football, Shandon Baptiste hasn’t either because of injury, Charlie Goode hasn't played football for one and a half years, Alvaro is just stepping into the league and Vita is playing out of position, so playing the way we do is honestly a small miracle… and that’s not even scraping a win.”

Two targets

“I keep saying it and I’ve been very transparent about it – we have two targets. The first is to win the next game and the second is to end as high as possible. Those two things are what drive us every single time.

“I know all about talk of the 40 points target and all that stuff, but it’s nothing we're speaking about. We just look at the next game and try to end as high as possible by maximising everything and trying to get all the points we can.”

 

King Christian and Versatile Vita

“Chris has been the man of the Match in the last three games for us for us. The number of duels and interceptions he is winning and making and how cool he is on the ball, is just remarkable. Vitaly stepped into an unaccustomed position for him and he did really well. 'The machine’ has just been fantastic for us and he played at the back against Forest Green so I knew he was an option.”

Defensive duties

“We knew Watford were one of the top teams for scoring goals in the last eight games under Claudio Ranieri and I think they were fourth on expected goals. That's really impressive but we kept them down to two chances. One set piece that we should never concede and then a half chance on an angled shot from Joshua King. That is a remarkable defensive performance.”

Owing Rasmus everything

“I can't praise Rasmus enough. Of course it’s Matthew who has to take the decision and Phil (Giles) and him need to be agreeing, but I would never have been here if it wasn’t for Rasmus. It was his idea to get me into the interviews, so I owe him everything for that opportunity. I don't think people understand how good that triangle between Phil, Matthew and Rasmus is and how much Ras has done for the club.

“He is one of the best, most innovative sporting directors in the world I'm in no doubt of that, and I know he’ll have incredible success with the new company he’s setting up.”

Pontus… finally!

The skipper’s long wait for a goal ended at the best possible time when he slotted home in the 84th minute, leaving Thomas delighted…

“It was about time that he finally scored that goal (slapping his fist on the desk) but I need to praise him because this season he has taken a step up in terms of determination, staying in the box, fighting in the duels, being the last line and involved in the second phase and he had quite a few chances. So what a beautiful way and time to score.”

Bryan, the world’s second best

“Ivan trains on his penalties every day, but every second day Brian is training on them as well. They speak to each other and I think he's looking over Ivan’s shoulder. So I'm just privileged that I have the best penalty taker in the world and maybe now the second best.

“That goal will be very important for his confidence. He’s been incredible in the last two games with an assist for Sergi at Leeds and always driving the frontline with energy. He keeps going and stays positive so hopefully that goal will lift him to the next level which he nearly reached with that first half cut inside and curled shot into top corner.”

Yoane seen nothing yet

“I think Wissa did fine. I want to get him going because I've seen what he’s like when he’s close to fitness. He’s very good on the half turn but that sharpness to really accelerate past players isn’t quite there yet, which is natural after injury. He will only get better.”

Sky’s the limit for Shandon

“What a player! And he only performed to six out of 10, but I just think the sky's the limit with him. I pray and cross fingers for every training session and every game that he stays free of injuries because he’s so natural on the half turn just flowing and going past players. He just lacked the final end product but that will come.”


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