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Thomas Talks… reasons to be proud and second season syndrome

Report from the post-match written press conference after final day defeat to Leeds United

25 May 2022

Brentford ended their Premier League season with nine men on the pitch and home defeat to Leeds United. The Bees had slightly the better of the first half but fell behind early in the second. Kristoffer Ajer limped off after Brentford had made three substitutions and Sergi Canós was sent off after equalising for The Bees. Leeds made their advantage count and scored the decisive goal in the dying seconds.

Leeds needed points to try and avoid relegation while Brentford wanted to end a first Premier League campaign on a high. The 2-1 win was enough for the visitors to ensure they stay up while Brentford finish 13th. 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 he had to say..........

Might have beens

“We were unlucky with the injury to Kristoffer. We were 1-0 down, were pushing and had a good chance to get back in the game. We were building momentum and it would have been a long 20 minutes for Leeds that's for sure. We scored and I'm sure we would have created something – and then we get the stupid red card. That's why it's difficult to take.”

Angry reaction

“It was a bad game with all that was at stake. Our dressing room afterwards was very disappointed and very angry which shows how badly we wanted to win. We didn’t hit our high performance level and then made two big mistakes with the first goal and the red card.”

Offside shout

“It makes no difference to the relegation outcome, but I’d still like to know whether the second goal is offside from VAR’s perspective because there’s a player blocking David’s view, so we'll ask the refs about that. It’s not a big thing ­– it’s just for me to understand it.”

Reasons to be proud… one, two three

  1. “We had massive belief in this team before the season and we showed we’re an asset to the Premier League. That's what I'm most proud of.”
  1. “The overall performance and the way we presented ourselves as players and as a team.”
  1. “The opening day against Arsenal and the 4-1 win at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea are right up there.”

And a fourth for luck

“Against Watford in December when we had so many injuries and had players out of position, went 1-0 down and the way we just fought our way back into the game, equalised in the 82nd minute but still went for the kill and won in the end showed everything about who we are.”

Second season syndrome

“I don’t believe in all this second season stuff or the narrative around it. That said, I know we can be relegated next season, but I also know we can finish seventh. Everything’s possible between 20th and seventh.

“We want to add layers, build and end higher and play better football. That's the aim, but you never know what happens to a team when they get a lot of injuries or lose momentum. But hopefully we'll avoid that and build.”

The Christian conundrum

“I truly believe we have a good chance of keeping Christian Eriksen but I also know there's a risk he could sign for another club. He needs to go away and decide with his family what to do. I'm an optimistic person so I’m believing, but we won’t know anything just yet.”

Strengthening sensibly

“We will add hopefully players to improve the squad – not many, but just like the other seasons, maybe one or two. That’s how we build. We’ll plan but I don’t like to talk about specific positions.”

Vital Vitaly

“We’d always like to play with Christian Nørgaard because he's been one of our most important players this season. But we have a very good player in Vitaly who can step into the six or eight role and has done a fantastic job.

“Christian’s absence wasn’t the reason we didn’t win. It was more down to the injury where we've used all our subs, and two stupid mistakes.”

Performance is everything

“In the last seven years, the Play-Off winners have only stayed up twice so I think we've done it a bit better as the performances have proven. We've been in more or less every game with a chance to win. And if you look at the stats, expected goals, our performances, we could have got more points.”

Crazy times

“To think we might have finished higher with our budget, lack of individual and team Premier League experience, what we’ve achieved is crazy.”

Classy supporters

“It says a lot about our fans that they didn’t invade the pitch. I completely understand emotions and how things can get out of hand, but the Brentford supporters have been incredible all season and made us very proud.”

Building on foundations

“We will keep the foundations from this year – the defensive side of the game, fitness and set pieces. Then we’d like to add a bit more on the offensive side of the game in terms of controlling games like we did against West Ham at home. That was a very good example of how I’d like us to dominate games even more.”

In-between feeling

“We had a kind of a party because of course there's a lot to celebrate being in the Premier League and I know everyone wants to push and get better. But we haven't won anything, so it was a little bit of an in-between feeling.”

Time to reflect

“In the next few days I’ll sit down in the quiet and calm and try to reflect, because the last two or three weeks have been busy for me in terms of planning and the relentless focus on the next thing.”

Promotion or staying in the top flight?

“Staying up is a massive achievement but obviously promotion is the biggest one and probably this one right after.”

Next season…

“We’ll stay confident but humble. Confident about what we can do well, but very humble because this league is relentless and demands respect. You can never be sure what’s going to happen because I’m pretty confident that some of the clubs that were down there never expected it could happen to them.”

Preparing to succeed

“We do things in a certain way. We try to be aligned with a clear strategy and calmness and add layers to everything. So we’re clear in what we want and hopefully we can build and sit here in a year's time having done even better… but let’s see.”

Milking the margins

“The difference between winning and losing in this league are very small, but it goes both ways. At the bottom the margins are so small that you can end down there, but also the margins are so small that you can end higher. That’s what we’re going for, but you never know.”

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