Beesotted’s Jim Levack gives his views on Brentford’s enigmatic head coach, Thomas Frank, after his team produce the result of the season at Stamford Bridge.
If Thomas Frank was ever worried about the spectre of relegation, then I’d recommend a career as a poker player when he decides to leave football.
His demeanour, even through the tricky patch when points were as hard to come by as meaningful Micah Richards analysis, has been constantly upbeat and confident.
Humour, punctuated by the occasional expletive greeted by delighted sniggers from the gathered media, has never been far from this most affable of Danes.
But it’s his calmness born of a wonderful sense of perspective about what is occasionally a shit world – a phrase he could easily have coined – that sets him apart.
Having watched him at close quarters for the past two years, his progression to respected Premier League manager is no surprise. Even if the national media still regard him as something of an enigma.
But even now with his side capable of achieving the very real possibility of a top 10 finish, only a handful of them truly understand the model that has allowed it to happen.
Thomas is a one off, the type of manager – sorry Head Coach – who might not be able to recreate the same formula at other clubs without the same vision that has proved the foundation for all that’s been achieved.
His constant mantras of “celebrating or being low for 24 hours”, “staying in the game if we go a goal down” and wanting to finish “as high as possible” had a hollow feel to them as Liverpool, Man City, Wolves and Arsenal put his side to the sword.
If there were any doubts that he would turn it round, he hid them well. His total belief in his players was, to this observer, both refreshing and worrying in equal measure.
Thomas has a hygge-like approach to life. The sun will come up tomorrow, the world will keep spinning and I’ll have a glass of red. That calmness rubbed off on his players, who have never once succumbed to the cardinal sin for Bees fans of not leaving everything on the pitch at the final whistle.
True, the spark that was needed was the arrival of ‘you know who’ but that signing again was a mark of the painstaking attention to detail in place at Brentford.
There was no “we’re Arsenal/Spurs/West Ham, come to us because and we’ll pay you a King’s ransom”. Instead Thomas presented a package that showed he and the club genuinely cared for the midfielder who he nurtured as a teenager in Denmark more than a decade ago.
Nowadays it’s cool comms for corporate organisations to have values, but for so many they are mere words backed by nothing in particular. Not so at Brentford where they’re the cornerstone of everything good the club does.
Teamwork, togetherness and hard work – not just on the field – epitomise a club who we really should have known would not lose its identity on reaching the promised land.
The values are simple and straightforward and when they’re backed by a genuine faith in the scouting system and the calibre of players it’s uncovered, they work with devastating effect.
Yes, mistakes get made but as Thomas says “we win or learn” and I suspect the same will be true behind the scenes after what will hopefully turn out to be an incredible first season among the big boys.
Perhaps the most amazing thing though is the buy-in Thomas and his staff appear to have engendered from the players, who have got on with the job with only the odd lapse blown out of proportion by a tittle-tattle hungry media.
That buy-in comes from belief. Belief in the system and belief in a leader who exudes calmness when fans, social media ‘experts’ and columnists are losing theirs.
As I drove to Stamford Bridge I, like Beesotted pod man Billy Grant who predicted the win, felt no fear. It was a free hit, we’d done well at Leicester, were finding form and could nick a result.
I’m not sure what Thomas said to the players before the game but they played with all the usual discipline and composure of recent weeks, but this time the shackles were off. It was as if we had arrived.
To rout the World Club Champions in their own back yard – spookily almost seven years to the day we’d done the same at Fxxham – was simply incredible and better still, fully deserved.
But despite what the pundits who disrespectfully and ignorantly suggest the rejuvenated Eriksen might be better off elsewhere, this was much more than a one-man show. As the stats have shown all season this has always been a prodigiously talented side simply waiting for someone to be the catalyst.
The squad has, I’m proud to say, stuck to the task and remained humble throughout… another of Thomas’s belief pillars. That’s why we’re a good fit for the former Spurs and Juve man who is finding a joy in his football where once there might have been none.
The images of he and Vitaly celebrating were magical, but for me nothing matched the brief video of Zanka and Kris Ajer waiting for a taxi outside the stadium.
No superstars here. Just honest graft, teamwork and togetherness with a dash of calm… and good values to live by.