Brentford and Tottenham Hotspur played out an entertaining 0-0 draw on a mild spring evening in West London. Brentford had the better of it, limited Tottenham to few attempts on goal, and hit the woodwork in both the first half and the second but could not find a way through. After the game, Thomas Frank spoke to the written press, Jim Levack, who has covered Brentford for many years for Press Association, among others, reports on what he had to say..........
Taming the deadly duo
“We got a result but we should have got an even bigger one. We deserved to win the game. It was fairly even between the boxes but we kept maybe the most dangerous duo in Heung-min Son and Harry Kane extremely quiet and created a lot of good chances and opportunities where we should have scored.
“We had a pretty depleted team missing three centre backs plus Sergi Canós and Christian Nørgaard so we had players stepping in to four positions against a full-strength Tottenham side fighting for a Champions League place. That's a massive credit to the players first and foremost, to the staff who've done everything to prepare them and to the structure we have in the team.”
Giving credit where it’s due
“No one can say Tottenham were below par. It can only be down to us. I know I'm maybe a bit biased, but they had a week between games, came with a full-strength team and we had five or six injuries and we still deserved to win. I think that's amazing.
“I think it’s massively unfair (when pundits and media suggest the top teams we hold or beat had an off day) because you need to look at the game. How many teams play to a top level every game in a season? Not even Man City and Liverpool.
“I'm pretty sure Klopp and Pep only feel they hit that top level four to eight times in season and then there’s some games where they’re above average, and then there's average performances. Then you have an opponent hopefully making it difficult for you like we did, so come on give us some credit.”
Stopping the Spurs machine
“It's not that easy to do but we prepared for some patterns we’d seen. Before the last two games Tottenham were the highest scoring teams and scoring goals for fun so we knew if we got a little bit too open or they maybe got the first goal that changes the dynamic in the game.
“But knowing those clear patterns also gives some structure to our players so they know the situations and of course how to stop it. When it works it’s fantastic, but there will always be some crucial moments in a game where we need to have a defining block or sprint back like we did.”
“Christian Eriksen’s talents and ability are obviously very good. To get a player that can walk straight into the starting 11 gives all the others a lift so that in itself is a help.
“His confident but humble attitude fits bang on to what we try to create in our culture. He’s a massive team player, confident in the way he plays and his abilities and what he's capable of but, he’s also humble, down to earth and his interaction with every player is very good. That helps the team and has helped him settle in quicker.”
The eight to two question
“I’d love to say I'm confident Christian will stay with us. I'm very positive and I'm very hopeful that he will, but it will be a decision for the end of the season. It’s down to Christian. Like with everything where you need to decide if you go to one club or another, buy that house or another house or you take this or that job, there must be pro pros and cons.
“I always say if you can make it an eight-two decision where there are eight good things and two bad then you are in a good position. So I hope Christian does what’s right for him in his family and of course I really hope it will be us.”
“Kristoffer Ajer got concussed in training, Christian was a heavy contact to the shin in the Watford game that we thought might be ready but he wasn’t and Ethan Pinnock’s was a hamstring last week as well. Then Sergi and Zanka were the week before, so although there was only one in training we do train very hard… that's why we’re one of the fittest teams in the league.
Nathan’s chance will come
“Nathan Young-Coombes is a very interesting striker. We like his ability to run in behind and attack in the last line and his ability to press so I think he's potentially got a great future ahead of him.
“The next step for him is probably to play some men's football. I think there's maybe a step before the B Team before going directly into Premier League but he’s a player we believe in and of course he might get some minutes before the end of the season.”
“He’s a very intelligent footballer and technically really good. When you describe a new role and work with him, he's takes it on board quickly so his ability to learn is very good. And of course his mindset of being willing and open minded to new things is incredible.
“He’s very versatile but I still see his best position as offensive midfielder, so he can play as a number eight sometimes or as a winger but it depends on them on the other types in the team.”
Awareness of transitions
“We were good at closing down the space and being aware of one or two transitions they had that could have been dangerous, but we sprinted back in and it’s so important to do that. There were a few combinations around the box where we maybe needed to be a little bit more narrow, but overall it was a very good defensive performance.”
Growing in experience
“The experience we’ve gained as a group throughout the season has been invaluable of course, but the players have also trained and drilled and played minutes individually in these positions so that has definitely helped.”
It’s all about the squad
“We were really down to the bare bones for the Man City game when we had six regulars out, but they can see it almost doesn't matter who we put in. Of course we all need the best players and every manager will want that.
“But it says everything about the team and the structure but also their ability to stay 100 per cent match fit and train very hard and their mentality to be ready to step in when needed is big. It sounds easy, but it's very difficult to do it relentlessly, week after week.”
Ready for action
“Saman and the two Mads deserve so much praise. It's easy to play every week but it's much more difficult not to be starting or getting that many minutes. But Saman is a fantastic example of the culture and togetherness we have. He's ready when he's called upon, playing midfielder, striker, winger, wing back and has fantastic personality and character.
“That’s a big part of why we are pretty good – we have this culture and togetherness because you need that if you want to perform against the best clubs.”