Beesotted’s Jim Levack looks ahead to the East-versus-West London clash and asks whether Thomas Frank and his coaching staff will pull off another tactical master stroke on their travels.
There was a quote from Thomas Frank in the build-up to what turned out to be one of the most breathtaking games we’ll ever see that summed up the club’s calm, measured approach to life in the top flight.
“There’s a chance we could be beaten 3-0 but there’s also a chance that we could win 1-0,” he told the visiting press pack assembled via Zoom.
Not the most inspirational comment maybe, but it was designed to get across the simplicity and realism of the situation that lay in wait for both Brentford’s players and fans.
It was designed to take the pressure off and inspire his players to do better things, to feel no fear at their illustrious opponents and to give a sense of realism in all the noise and hype.
When the time came, both fans and players showed respect but were not overawed by either the occasion or the names on Jurgen Klopp’s teamsheet.
Even a narrow defeat would have felt like a win. As it was, a 3-3 draw proved beyond doubt that this squad – because it will be the squad that determines our fate – is capable of ruffling even the most beautifully preened feathers.
Thomas Frank, like Dean Smith before him, is a good, intelligent man, but above all a man with an awareness of football’s place in the greater scheme of things.
He’s also a fine man manager and observer with an eye for the small details that contribute to the difference between success and failure. Look after and genuinely care about your people, and they will do the same for you.
Now he has a different problem. Keeping a largely young and precociously talented squad’s feet on the ground, but rest assured he will because of the values that now permeate not just the playing side but the whole club.
Confident but humble is a repetitive mantra for Frank, but talk to his players and backroom staff and it’s a mindset completely ingrained and in tune with the club’s incredible fanbase.
Tomorrow at West Ham will be tough, especially coming down from the way Brentford rattled table-toppers Liverpool in what has to rank among the top five Bees games this fan has watched in his 50 plus years.
But far more than a precious point, that clash with the Reds and their fans’ insistence that it was their side’s shortcomings rather than our perfectly executed game plan, marked a coming of age for some of our players that should stand them in good stead at the London Stadium.
Sergi, whose appearance against Norwich last season saw him trying far too hard, was imperious. Bryan looked like he was made for the Premier League, Rico bossing Salah, Kriss with that powerful loping run, Pontus so close twice, Christian and Vitaly quietly efficient, Ivan doing what Ivan does. Just unforgettable.
Hard to pick out any single individual, but I will.
The crowd against Liverpool, new fans among them, got Brentford over the line. Each time Klopp’s side took the lead, the decibel level climbed another notch, the travelling contingent blocked out.
The fans lapping up every last drop of this brave new Premier League world did not know when they were beaten and believed they wouldn’t be… like the players.
Take that into every game and this incredible side will win or draw more than it loses and continue to earn deserved plaudits from the experts who are only just realising what we’ve known for several years.
That this is a very special club with amazing fans who truly appreciate what’s happening now because of what they experienced in the past – and who will never complain as long as they see the kind of desire they’ve witnessed so far this season.