Brentford supporting journalist, Jim Levack, looks back at the weekend’s FA Cup tie with Leicester City, to see what we learned from this season’s flirt with the cup.
Zamburek will play at the highest level
The young midfielder didn’t look out of place against the Foxes illustrious line-up.
He has an engine, speed of thought, fluidity, the quickest of feet and deceptive strength that you rarely find in a player new to the English game… especially at the age of 18.
“I thought he had a disappointing performance in the last round against Stoke but he showed what he is capable of today,” said Thomas Frank.
“When he gets more experience and more confidence he will play more forward and that, with his running capacity which is second to none, will be a very big asset for us.”
Emiliano’s loan break has energised him
The inventive midfielder has returned from his loan stint in Denmark refreshed and rejuvenated and was instrumental in most of the Bees’ most potent offensive forays.
He seemed to thrive on the responsibility of being one of the older heads in a youthful Brentford starting eleven, and knitted things together well after the side’s shaky first 15 minutes.
Frank said: “I was very pleased for him. He showed some really good points in there and his urgency, awareness and belief helped us grow into the game.”
The 24-year-old Dane clearly has the backing of club staff and supporters, who will be hoping he can step up to play a pivotal role in the squad for the run-in.
Brentford the brave
Frank hailed his side’s bravery in taking the initiative and developing a foothold in the game after the early setback.
“I was really pleased with the performance and couldn’t have asked for more. They gave everything out there,” he said.
“I was most impressed with our bravery. We pressed aggressively and pressed high against a team with real Premier League class and I really thing, based on the second half, we deserved at least a draw.”
The FA Cup makes Thomas angry
Thomas didn’t mince his words when asked about “might have beens”.
One reporter, a friend of the club, asked if he might have a tinge of regret at not taking the dust sheet off at least part of the BMW.
“Tuesday’s game is more important but we wanted to win both games. The flip side of that is you risk injuries to normal starters and we don’t want that.”
The Bees Head Coach was animated and agitated as he expanded on the great weakened team FA Cup debate.
“There are no ‘might have beens’ and one thing is for certain, we didn’t want a draw. I don’t understand how we can have replays in the FA Cup. I know we have tradition and culture but I don’t get that.”
The system is working
Whether the hordes of national media who descended on our little ground bother to include it in their reports or not, this was very much a Brentford B team.
And the overriding emotion of almost every Bees fan leaving the ground at the end… unadulterated pride.
“We’re going to get spanked,” was one supporter’s reaction in the Braemar Road forecourt on seeing the line-up before the game. Leicester went large while we stuck to our principles, and the outcome was closer than he ever dreamed of.
Frank agreed: “I think when we can make so many changes and still look solid, it is a credit to all the players, to the staff here and to what we are working to achieve.”
And he added, tellingly: “We don’t just perform solidly in games like this. We do it every single time.”
Toe to toe with the Champions
A near enough Leicester first team would have despatched us comfortably in our League One days.
We’ve now climbed the pyramid and have a focus on youth. Dom Thompson, Mads Roerslev and Luka Racic all looked good against a side including at least a couple of players from the Premier League Championship winning side.
“That’s just it. I think we went toe to toe with them and make no mistake this will have been a great experience for all those players. It was the steepest of learning curves,” said Frank.
Brentford means “real football”
The Leicester boss admitted he got caught up in the emotion of Griffin Park’s last FA Cup tie.
“It was a brilliant day. I found myself coming out onto the pitch before the game which I don’t normally do. This club has a great history and I really hope they move on from here. I’m sure they will.
“The ground is incredible but the whole club brings you back to real football. But the football they play under Thomas Frank is very very good.”
He added: “They play football like a big team. Everyone says you can’t play good football in the Championship but Brentford have shown that with a good structure and good ideas you can play very very good football. Like us, Brentford are very much about the team rather than any individuals.”