“We need to look at what we can do” – Thomas Frank on the startling issue hurting Brentford

4 min

While Neal Maupay’s opener would eventually prove to be in vain against Manchester City, it nonetheless pointed to a worrying trend for Brentford this season.

In their opening two Premier League campaigns, the Bees have scored the first goal 30 times with their record in those games near perfect with just one loss, against Newcastle United, towards the end of the 2022/23 season.

However, a quite extraordinary record of 23 wins, six draws, and one loss has been in stark contrast to this season’s current statistical outcome when Brentford have opened the scoring.

Thomas Frank’s side have grabbed the first goal in fourteen of their 22 matches, but have lost almost half of those with a record of 5-3-6, losing 26 points from those games. 

It’s a massive concern which Frank is not taking lightly, telling London Football Scene: “It’s unfortunately a remarkable number, I don’t think it’s fantastic.

“We know we are capable of winning when we go in front, and I think basically it’s down to the goals we’ve conceded.”

Defensive solidarity is clearly a part of the problem with the Brentford boss acknowledging his side have conceded “too many goals” and while he is never one to make excuses, the reasoning behind this may be quite simple.

Brentford’s rearguard has suffered an inordinate number of lengthy injuries this season with only Ethan Pinnock featuring in every league game so far while goalkeeper Mark Flekken has missed out just once through injury. 

The rest of the backline have suffered immensely, as injuries to Nathan Collins, Ben Mee, Aaron Hickey, Rico Henry and Kris Ajer have left options at the back looking extremely thin.

READ MORE: Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins is an unstoppable force Brentford should be proud of

The lack of a consistent defensive line-up undoubtedly plays a role in the Bees conceding too many, as they have been unable to solidify partnerships and establish proper communication on a consistent basis.

And although Frank acknowledged that while some of it could be chalked up to a poor run of form and lack of momentum, they still needed to be aware of the numbers and work to remedy it.

“We need to look at what we can do. We are training on it, we are definitely reinforcing the message,” Frank added. “I think it’s pretty clear: we get a clean sheet, we win.”

This is also a key observation: even without the contributions of Ivan Toney for most of the season, the Bees are still scoring goals at a remarkable rate. 

They have failed to score in just four games so far this campaign, which would suggest they should sit much higher in the table than their current place of 15th, just three points above the relegation places.

So the recipe for success is clear – shore up the defence, and, with a bit of luck, results should start to fall into place. In their last three games, performances have started to pick up despite two defeats. 

READ MORE: Brentford continually hampered by absences – but patience remains the key word

“We know it’s the main thing we need to improve. It’s set, we’ve talked about it,” said Frank. “Of course we need to look into situations where we can do better. 

“If that’s a block, defensive clearance, awareness to close down the space, not losing one v ones.

“Those things we need to do better, but sometimes it is those margins of things where [we are] one yard too far away or take one step in the right direction. 

“We need that to go our way, but we can only do that by doing things the right way and creating our own luck.”

There are, of course, reasons for optimism in Brentford’s last two defeats, against Tottenham and Manchester City, demonstrating two much-improved performances where the same centre-half trio was named for consecutive games. 

A ten minute spell cost them against Spurs while a few preventable goals hurt them massively against the world champions. 

With upcoming games against Wolves, Liverpool, and City again, Brentford have very little time to put things right, but the upswing in performances suggest a breakthrough could be right around the corner. 

While the dropped points are indeed an alarming reality, the improvements as players have returned to the squad from injury and suspension is evident for a Brentford side that desperately needs to start turning goals scored into points on the board.

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