Brentford 2019/20 Season Review: An undoubtedly brilliant season brimming with disappointment

4 min

Few would have predicted Brentford would have been just one win away from the Premier League at the start of the 2019/20 season – but to be in that position twice, even more inconceivable.

The only problem was the Bees just couldn’t quite get the job done on either occasion and, in a season that also saw the club say goodbye to Griffin Park, it will be remembered as a bittersweet campaign.

Indeed, the opening two months showed little signs of what was to come as the club grappled with a number of personnel changes from the summer – top scorer Neal Maupay the biggest departure as Brentford’s ‘Moneyball’ transfer policy continued unabated.

The Bees had taken just 12 points from their opening eleven games, lying 17th in the table when London rivals Millwall arrived at Griffin Park in mid-October. 

And it looked to be more of the same for Brentford as the Lions raced into a two-goal lead – one that remained intact until two goals in the space of four minutes from Josh Dasilva and Bryan Mbeumo levelled the scoring late in the game.

However, Ollie Watkins’ 94th minute strike not only provided a winner but kickstarted Brentford’s push for the Play-Offs and by the time the new year rolled around, they found themselves fourth in the table.

Their great run of form saw them record an impressive 1-0 win over fellow promotion chasing Fulham as well as demolishing Luton Town 7-0 – an encounter which saw Dasilva score his first professional hat-trick.

An injury to inspirational captain Pontus Jansson coincided with the Bees picking up just nine points from a possible 30 between the hectic January and March period, allowing Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion to begin to separate themselves from the rest of the promotion pack.

Thomas Frank’s side were not only out of form but seemed tired and in need of a break – that coming in the unlikeliest form of the coronavirus pandemic which shut down football at the start of March. 

Brentford hit the ground running on the June restart with seven straight wins while the top two, particularly West Brom, showed signs of stuttering, thrusting the Bees right back into automatic promotion conversations.

READ MORE: Brentford’s Championship Play-Off win is the perfect lingering goodbye to Griffin Park

After West Brom lost 2-1 at Huddersfield Town, Brentford needed just four points from their final two games against Stoke City and Barnsley to snatch promotion away from the Baggies.

A 1-0 loss at Stoke appeared to kill off any hopes until West London neighbours QPR provided a hint of salvation by holding West Brom to an impressive draw on the final day of the season.

With West Brom just two points ahead, Brentford needed to find a way to beat a Barnsley side fighting for survival with the game level at 1-1 going into injury time.

One goal would send Brentford to the Premier League for the first time in their history – instead the stoppage time winner fell to the Tykes, crushing Brentford’s automatic promotion hopes.

After 46 games, Brentford had finished third, an achievement many would not have predicted at the beginning of the year and certainly not just two points away from automatic promotion favourites West Brom.

Critics argued Brentford had bottled their chance of promotion and that ultimately going so close would see it difficult to quickly bounce back in the quick turn-around of the Play-Offs.

A 1-0 loss in the Semi-Final First Leg at Swansea City appeared to reinforce the notion before one final game at Griffin Park saw Brentford overturn the scoreline in spectacular fashion to book their Wembley place.

It was an all West London affair in the Final after Fulham progressed against Cardiff in the other Semi-Final and many expected it to be an open and entertaining encounter.

READ MORE: Why Brentford and Fulham’s Championship Play-Off was the biggest casualty of post-coronavirus football

In truth it was a poor match with tactics appearing to be the defining factor that would send Fulham to the Premier League and leave Brentford contemplating another season in the Championship. 

Although Brentford had an excellent campaign overall, they simply could not handle the pressure when fate was in their own hands with their quality and performances fading away.

Nevertheless, the 2019/20 season will be remembered affectionately with more highs than lows as Brentford exceeded all expectations and did so in style.

They fought their way to the top of the Championship, and it nearly paid off. The unfortunate key word being… nearly. 

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