26 June 2020 16:38
Thomas Frank has told his Brentford players they can still give Griffin Park a "magical" send-off as they begin their final run of games at the stadium behind-closed-doors in Friday's promotion clash with West Brom. Following last weekend's dramatic late win at Fulham, belief is growing that Frank's side could yet mount a late surge for the automatic places and victory over the top-of-the-table Baggies would see the gap on the top two closed to just five points. The Bees' quest to reach the Premier League this season has been intertwined with the long goodbye to their home of 116 years, but the coronavirus pandemic means fans will be absent from the final five league games at the ground, as well as a possible playoff semi-final. "I think they walked hand-in-hand, the promotion dream and the farewell season," Frank said. The biggest thing with home advantage is fans and when they're not in there anymore it's not the same.
Read more Bees star Mbeumo back for West Brom clash after positive Covid test Let's imagine we are making it very magical and getting promoted – then they'll remember it as they would have done the last six games of the season. The home side are boosted by the return of winger Bryan Mbeumo, who is available again after missing the Championship's restart because of a positive coronavirus test, though the Frenchman may start on the bench having missed a significant chunk of training while in self-isolation. We spoke with Trevor Inns, from the Griffin Park Grapevine, to find out more about Albion's latest opponents. How has the season been for Brentford, from outside it appears the club has done brilliantly to get into the position it has with a relatively small budget? Yes, obviously sitting in fourth is obviously a decent position to be in and no worse than we deserve.
The difference is that we have acted on our defensive frailties from last season with the arrival of Pontus Jansson and Ethan Pinnock and now sit second best at conceding. Our recruitment model is the envy of many a club and is well documented elsewhere. I think it's safe to say that those at the helm of the club have done exceptionally well and every Brentford supporter recognises that. How have the Bees managed in lockdown, they didn't seem to show any kind of rust against Fulham? Obviously like every other club they would have had individual programmes assigned which they would appear to have followed faithfully. Brentford manager Thomas Frank The extended break from football did have a silver lining in terms of giving players a chance to recover and get fit for the run-in, have any players at Griffin Park benefitted from the break? Yes, we probably have most of the team carrying niggles of some form or another. Most important is Jansson who had been absent from a number of games prior to the break with a niggling leg injury. Our clean sheet record is very closely correlated to having him in the team, so the break has certainly helped getting everyone back fit again (well, except for the long-term ACL injuries). However, again, the same probably applies to every other club. Who are the big danger men for Brentford heading into the clash with Albion? Benrahma is tagged as the best player outside the Premier League, Watkins is one-goal off the division leading goalscorer, Norgaard runs the midfield, Marcondes's set-pieces, Dasilva's strong, ball-carrying runs from deep (actually he's quite big!) - you can take your pick. How far do you think Brentford can go, do you think they can realistically challenge for a spot in the automatic promotion places? Getting to first or second place would probably require us to win all nine of this mini-tournament (maybe we could drop one or two points) and still require yourselves or Leeds to fall apart to some extent - which is why last weekend was good viewing. If we are to get there then obviously Friday's match is a "must win". It's been theorised that crowdless stadiums favour the more technical teams, so maybe it's not that far-fetched but no-one is getting over-excited. How do you expect to see Brentford line-up, what's your predicted XI? We play 4-3-3, there's no secrets being given away there. Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry; Jensen, Norgaard, Dasilva; Fosu, Watkins, Benrahma. That's the same starting XI as Fulham, but with 5 subs available for these games the starting XI isn't as important now. Subs changed the game at Fulham... What have you made of Albion from afar, do you think they have what it takes to earn promotion and survive in the Premier League? WBA are certainly in prime position (literally) to go up and their remaining fixtures don't look too onerous. For the same reason I don't expect us to go up, I expect WBA to get promoted. Well there's always three clubs worse then oneselves aren't there?! I suspect it's not the first season that will be the problem, it will be how the off-field team can recruit and progress the team. Some clubs manage to do that well and some don't. You will find out how good your backroom team is at that time. Home win. You will come to play football, we like that.