It’s been a rather eventful international break for Brentford. Head coach Dean Smith has left the club to join Aston Villa, along with assistant coach Richard O’Kelly, an event that most Brentford fans had seen coming ever since speculation began over the summer.
Smith has worked wonders within the club’s structure in order to get the Bees playing attractive, attacking football in the Championship which was always going to attract attention of other clubs. However, those in the know at Griffin Park will be aware it’s more the structure in place at the club and less so the head coach that has provided Brentford the success they have had.
With that in mind, there seemed little panic in the Brentford camp in finding a replacement as fans truly believe that the club is in capable hands. The plan has been in place for a predecessor to Smith since 2016 when Thomas Frank was added to the coaching staff.
Having managed the Danish youth sides and Brondby of the Danish Superliga as well as having been with Brentford for almost two years, Frank appears the perfect fit for the young Bees side, and naturally his appointment was confirmed earlier this week. News of an assistant coach is unknown currently, but it’s likely that Brentford legend and B-Team coach Kevin O’Connor will step up to the role.
The switch could have come at the perfect time for Brentford, as they had hit one of the typical Smith slumps of the season (though notably not as bad as previous seasons) having not won in the Championship in five matches.
So, can Frank turn Brentford’s form around and get them back on track? Well, his chance arrives on Saturday as Bristol City visit Griffin Park (GMT 15:00). The Robins currently sit 13th in the table just two points but six spots behind Brentford, a testament to how tight the league currently is.
Bristol are not on a good run either, having also not won in five games but with more losses than Brentford. They also have only won twice away all season (QPR and Swansea) whereas the Bees are still unbeaten at home. Furthermore, since Brentford were promoted to the Championship in 2013 they have had the better of Bristol having won six out of eight meetings with two draws.
The key man for the opposition will no doubt be Andreas Weimann who has netted five times this season, so Frank will be keen to keep him isolated. Despite losing key men such as Aden Flint, Joe Bryan and Bobby Reid in the summer, Bristol City still maintain a strong attacking threat, particularly from set-pieces, which will be another concern for Frank.
Brentford likely line-up (4-2-3-1):
Odubajo – Konsa – Mepham – Barbet
McEachran – Macleod
Benrahma – Sawyers – Watkins
It’s unlikely that Thomas Frank will tinker too much with his side for his first game on Saturday, so expect a familiar lineup. However, I think Said Benrahma will return to the starting XI after his suspension has finished with the likes of Luke Daniels retaining his spot over Daniel Bentley due to his strong performances in the past few games.
Unlike previous matches, I think Saturday’s game will be less about aggressive challenges, off the ball incidents and red cards due to the way the opposition play. However, it won’t be a walk in the park for Brentford who will need to gain a grip on the game early, establish their free flowing attacking football and utilise their fantastic wide players in order to take advantage of Bristol’s weaknesses.
Hopefully the international break and the changes that have been made will reignite the fire that Brentford had showed earlier this season and begin to propel them up the table once more.
Brentford 2 – 0 Bristol City
Up the Bees.