Brentford almost immediately established themselves as one of the surprise packages of the season last year when they waltzed to a 2-0 victory over Arsenal in the opening fixture of the season. Manager Thomas Frank has long drilled his Brentford side to be a high energy, counter-pressing side that are full of surprises. Through live betting you can bet on Brentford’s games in-play as they continue to impress in the Premier League this season.
The man behind most of The Bees’ success is the aforementioned Thomas Frank. The Dane joined Brentford in 2016, originally as the assistant coach to then manager Dean Smith. In addition to being a “bridge between the players and the coaching staff” co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen revealed that Frank would also “look after the players between the B team and the first team and make sure there is a pathway for them and take care of their development”.
He impressed during his time as a coach and was given the keys to the kingdom in October 2018, when Smith left his role to join Aston Villa. There were a few eyebrows raised due to his relative inexperience, having only coached in Denmark at youth level and a spell with Brondby. He experienced a tough start to life as manager, winning just one game in his first 10.
However, their form began to stabilise after he switched to a 3-4-3 formation and Frank was nominated for the manager of the month award in January 2019 after picking up 7 points from a possible 9. Brentford finished the season respectably placed at 11th in the table, making for a great platform to build on.
Strength to Strength
Frank and Brentford went from strength to strength the next couple of seasons, narrowly missing out on promotion in 2020 following their playoff final loss before finally reaching the promised land in 2021 when they beat Swansea in the same game. Striker Ivan Toney finished as the club’s top scorer in both seasons after signing from Peterborough for £5m in the summer of 2020.
Whilst the West London club had garnered praise for their style of play, there was no doubt that the Premier League was an entirely different ballgame and staying up was going to be a much tougher challenge for the side. It was clear they had to bring in reinforcements.
However, instead of throwing money at the playing staff like many newly promoted sides tend to do, Brentford recruited smartly going for quality over quantity. They signed centre back Kristoffer Ajer from Celtic, winger Yoane Wissa and defensive midfielder Frank Onyeka for a combined £33m.
They got off to a dream start to the 21-22 season when they beat Arsenal. They went on to lose just once in their next six fixtures, picking up a total of 12 points from a possible 21. Their form wavered slightly after this and they lost five in a row twice up to the end of January, but the signing of Christian Eriksen on a free transfer in that same month injected some much-needed creativity into the team.
Frank switched from a 3-5-2 formation to a 4-3-3, allowing Toney, Wissa and Bryan Mbuemo to thrive going forward. He heavily rotated his midfield, surprising the opposition and David Raya’s performances in goal both in playing out from the back and shot stopping were remarkable.
Between March 5th and April 23rd 2021, Brentford would lose just one game in seven, winning five with a lone draw to Spurs. The highlight of this run was a 4-1 win away to London rivals Chelsea. By this time Frank’s side were out of the relegation battle and surprised fans and pundits alike to finish mid-table in their debut season in the Premier League.
Brentford have started the 22-23 season impressively, losing just three of their first 11 games so far. A 4-0 mauling to the chagrin of Manchester United in their second game of the season has been the highlight so far and star man Ivan Toney has already notched himself eight league goals, earning a call up to the England squad in the process.
The signings of experienced centre-back Ben Mee along with younger talent such as Mikkel Damsgaard, Aaron Hickey and Keane Lewis-Potter have again reenergised their ranks. The switch to a 4-3-3 last season is still paying off and their front three are in fine form. Their focus on crossing and set pieces has helped them better their opposition greatly so far this year and they look to be set to again avoid a relegation battle, maybe even bettering the 11th place finish from last season.
A dream comes true
Brentford’s fairytale rise to the Premier League has been a joy to watch as a neutral. Frank’s tactical prowess in the Championship has translated superbly to the Premier League and he consistently finds his name in the hat of managerial appointments for fellow Premier League sides.
What is best about their rise is that they have done so sustainably. They have spent just £78m on players since July 2021, which is remarkably low for a side who have been promoted and stayed up. Instead of splashing the cash on shiny new toys, they have stuck with their personnel only signing to improve holes in their game. Although early on, there could even be a possibility that they push for a place in the Europa Conference League. Thomas Frank’s Brentford side are a tough matchup for any team in the league and there is no doubt they deserve to be where they are.