Having lost four of their last six Championship games, Brentford’s Premier League promotion push has threatened to be derailed over the past month.
With an already intense 46-game campaign further condensed by the coronavirus pandemic, Brentford have arguably suffered more than most with the hectic fixture list and are currently paying the price.
Being the last side to wrap up the 2019/20 season with the Play-Off final on August 4th, Brentford opened their 2020/21 account just over a month later with a Carabao Cup First Round clash at home to Wycombe Wanderers (September 6th).
With most of this month undoubtedly used for preparation for the new season, Brentford’s players would have been lucky to have even had a week off before they were thrust back into the challenges of another gruelling campaign.
Coupled with the mental anguish of the Wembley Play-Off defeat as well as a small squad beset by injuries and a run to the Carabao Cup semi-finals, it’s little wonder Thomas Frank’s side have started to lose some of an edge which had initially seen them go 21 league games unbeaten.
So while the postponement of their home game against Rotherham last weekend due to a Covid outbreak at the South Yorkshire club was unfortunate, it may be exactly the kind of break the Bees need to re-energise and refresh.
Brentford were uninspired and lethargic as they sleep walked their way through their last defeat away to league leaders Norwich, following similarly lacklustre losses to Barnsley, Coventry City and QPR.
After sitting two points clear of Norwich at the top of the table exactly a month ago, the Bees are now fourth – three points behind second-placed Watford and a further ten behind the Canaries.
This fortuitous nine day break before facing Blackburn Rovers on Friday night could not come soon enough for the squad to regroup after a tough run of form and games.
The timing of the Rotherham postponement also comes with a hint of irony, with March 9th marking the one year anniversary when the footballing world was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.
Brentford’s pre-lockdown form is also eerily reminiscent of their current form, as the Bees had won just one of their previous six before the season came to an abrupt standstill.
However, after coming back from the three-month hiatus, they rattled off eight consecutive victories to thrust themselves firmly into the promotion conversation.
Although this break is nowhere near as long, it still allows for the reset Brentford desperately needed before coming back to six consecutive fixtures against opposition in the bottom half of the table.
While the pause won’t see the return of the likes of injured duo Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva, it will help those with lingering issues such as Pontus Jansson, Emiliano Marcondes and Christian Norgaard as well as Ivan Toney and Marcus Forss who have also had niggling injuries over the past few weeks.
Three league games precede an international break which will provide further time for recovery, so while the nine day break on it’s own may not appear much to recover tired minds and bodies from tough losses, the timing couldn’t be any better.
It should mean Brentford return from the international break much fresher and ready to bounce back to winning ways as they enter the business end of a long, busy season.