Beesotted’s Jim Levack tips his hat to Brentford Head Coach, Thomas Frank – although the Bees’ boss is unlikely to win Premier League Manager of the Season – would Klopp or Pep have done a better job at Brentford?
When the Premier League Manager of the Season is announced the only surprise will be if it’s a bus conductor from West London.
The usual suspects with cash galore and superstar allure will almost certainly walk off with the crown… just like they do every year.
Our only hope is that the public outside Liverpool and City vote for arguably the greatest footballing fairy-tale of all time… and choose Thomas Frank.
He’ll be the first to insist he’s just the figurehead, always calm and quite rightly keen to extol the virtues of the team around him.
But he has masterminded an adventure that would have had the Roy of the Rovers script writers tearing up their notes and dismissing the plot as too far-fetched.
Nine years ago I drove away from Wembley through a stream of jubilant Yeovil fans in green and white, with my two tearful sons. “Will we ever…?” they asked. “I don’t know,” I replied.
The Glovers finished 12th in the National League this season. We’ve astounded everyone outside the bus stop by breathing life into a stale top flight and are hopefully here to stay.
Stats and tables showing our points per pound spent have been doing the rounds all week, and that alone is the reason why Thomas and his squad deserve the accolade.
He exudes a calmness that permeates the whole set up at Brentford, but there’s a steely determination paired with humble confidence that sets him apart from his mind-game playing peers.
To watch him interacting with his players is an object lesson in man management. He knows what makes each individual tick, nurtures them, has fun with them, demands more of them in the nicest possible way.
Watching him and Pontus at the recent awards was to see two people relaxed and at the top of their game, with huge mutual respect. Not hard to see why the skipper actually chose to join the project.
So indulge me. If we swapped Jurgen for Thomas how would that go? Personally I’m not so sure it would work as well. Thomas, like some players who have left, is a perfect fit for the system. Leaving would only diminish their return.
The grass isn’t always greener as one of our greatest ever managers, Dean Smith, has discovered. Hierarchies with itchy trigger fingers do not make for reasoned decision-making.
The bigger picture philosophy in place at TW8 – epitomised by the lack of knee-jerking during this season’s two blips – is breathtakingly beautiful. In hindsight.
Yes, there were times (I’m sure you knew…) when the ‘will we, won’t we’ question kept popping into my head. Every 20 minutes or so, usually in work meetings but only for a few weeks.
But Matthew Benham did it his way, kept the faith, stayed calm and trusted in the bigger picture. If we’d gone down, the principles would have remained unchanged.
That reassurance that has spread through the club and supporters like a ray of sunshine is what has allowed Thomas the freedom to be brave… and succeed.
No Watford managerial turnstile here, no work ‘em ‘til they drop “miracle man” approach. Just a good honest work ethic, togetherness and transparency.
To lump Thomas in with Eddie Howe in the nominations is, to my mind, a bit of an insult. Yes, there are pressures when you have unlimited cash to spend to beat the drop, but it doesn’t half make life easier.
Our Head Coach, his backroom team and medical staff have hit the brief. They’ve improved the squad individually and as a whole, squeezed percentage improvements from every player and most importantly kept the club rooted and linked to the fans.
Perhaps the highlight for me this season – Chelsea away, Wolves away, Everton away, Liverpool at home, the list goes on – has been the pre-match and half-time videocam footage.
Boys and girls, our fans of tomorrow, singing Hey Jude with the same gusto as veterans of trips to Carlisle and Torquay, the crying grandad, Thomas’ unbridled joy as he celebrates with Woody, the image of a proud Sikh resplendent in Bees shirt, families of all beliefs and creeds freed from desire together.
All indelibly etched in my memory, layer upon layer of reasons why this club will never lose its unique identity.
So when the Manager of the Year and his team are announced, don’t be downhearted.
We all know who the true winners are.