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Thomas Talks… that winning feeling and smiling faces

Report from the post-match written press conference after win at Norwich

7 March 2022

Ivan Toney scored a hat-trick as The Bees picked up a vital victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday. The striker volleyed in from a corner to put The Bees ahead in the first half and then scored two penalties after the interval to seal the win. Norwich pulled one back, but The Bees grabbed a 3-1 win.

It was an enthralling match with no shortage of incident. As well as four goals, two of them penalties, there were two more disallowed and a series of yellow cards. 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..........

Keeping perspective

“It was very important to win but I said to the players before the game it was never a ‘must win’ game. It’s easy to say that after we’ve won and of course I knew how important the game was. Everyone knew that. Norwich did and we did.”

Smiling faces

“I said two things to the players about what a win would do for us. The first was that it would mean less media noise around us and the second was the smiles on their faces when they come in to training on Monday morning would be big. And that's a massive thing.”

Handling the pressure

“I was pleased with the players character, mentality and coolness in what I would say was a difficult game. All of them were solid individually throughout, the performance as a team was solid and we won the game fair and square.”

Everything is relative

“The Norwich performance wasn’t particularly better than some of the other performances in the last eight games where, for whatever reason, we didn't get a point or a win.

“I keep giving a consistent message to the media, and more importantly to my players, about the way we want to play. I’ve always said that if we stick to our principles, eventually it will drop because in more or less all the games we’ve done more than enough to have a chance to get something out of them.

“I'm not saying that in the eight games we didn't win that we should have won all of them, but the performances we’ve put in give us a chance every single game.”

Ivan: Top performing

“He top performed and is in a really good place. You need your top players to step up in games like this and he did exactly that. The first one is a well worked set piece where he was in the position he had to be and then the two penalties, one of which he wins himself.

“I’ve said it many times before but the more penalties he scores the closer we are to the truth that Ivan is the best penalty taker in the world because of his coolness and strategy… and I mean in the world.

“Name one player with a record from the spot like his. It’s not Messi, it’s not Ronaldo. It’s Ivan Toney. Show me the stats that prove I’m wrong and we can discuss it.”

Christian Eriksen making a difference

“The plan wasn’t for him to play 99 minutes. He was good but he will get even better. If you ask him I’m pretty sure he will say he will be even better. It’s fantastic to see him out there and he’s very important for us. The delivery for the first goal was fantastic and some of his passes in behind with a first time left or right foot ball were unbelievable, so that’s the quality he can give us.

“Christian is happy to get involved with the physical stuff too. It means something to him and he’s very invested in it. He wants to do well for us and make sure we end as high as possible.

“Hopefully after each game going forward, especially the next three or four, he will add more and more to his game in terms of the quality. Of course you can't expect him to play ten out of ten in every game because no one in the world does that. But there will be a greater possibility for it.”

Looking forward to the next one

“It’s fair to say that was an important win. I’d compare it to a game when we beat Bolton 1-0 after a winless run in December 2018, a game which was a big turning point for us. Then we really wanted the next game to come, and it feels like that now.

“Obviously I’m extremely happy but when you win a game at this level it’s mixed with relief because it’s so tough. It’s just relief. It's not even extraordinary happiness.

”Like everyone involved in football, you love to win football matches and when you don't do that for a while it hurts, so to get that win is great. It was a fine performance, not through the roof, but suddenly because of the narrative that we scored some goals it’s suddenly much better. We need to be consistent in the performances, but of course the win is big.”

Trying new things

Brentford had eight shots on target at Carrow Road and Thomas was asked if the switch to a 4-3-3 formation had anything to do with it.

“It worked okay but it's still something we need to work even more on to be even better at it. It was a solid performance. On the ball we need to do better, but it’s not easy to play out because Norwich press well. That’s an area where we can do that tiny bit better.

“We can keep the ball in their half better and need a little more composure in those moments, but in general I'm definitely pleased that we created more. Maybe it was because of the 4-3-3 but maybe it was because of other things as well, but let’s see in the next game how it goes.”

Fuming Brian

“Pontus Janssen wanted a clean sheet and was very angry at the end, but the situation and the win will temper that. I know my Assistant Manager Brian Riemer will be fuming too but because of the relief or happiness of the win we'll reluctantly take it. As I said to both them we’ll discuss it on Monday, but straight after the game we have to be pleased.”

Injury niggles

”Christian Nørgaard had a little tweak in his thigh or hamstring and because we were 3-0 up we didn't want to risk one of our most important players. Kristoffer Ajer came off with a slight issue too but I’m not sure what the extent of that is.”

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