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Thomas Frank exclusive: Demanding more from Brentford; Missing manager camaraderie; that fans stoush

"Look, you always want more, but yes, I think we can sign this season off as approved. A lot of people, both inside and outside the club, are saying to me this is perhaps the most successful season we've had when considering how much adversity, we've faced..."

It's been a long ol' season for Brentford and their Danish manager Thomas Frank but as it draws to a close, he is nevertheless content with the outcome.

"Our topscorer with 20 goals in the Premier League last season was suspended for six months. On top of that I believe we've had the most injuries to come to terms with along with Newcastle. At one point we had seven regular starters out and we've missed key players at various points the whole season.

"We've had to change our system and adapt all the time. And that in the toughest league in the world and with our budget. Last season we had the smallest budget, this season we're among the smallest in the league once again. Considering all that, I think the season has been ok," Frank continues in an exclusive conversation with Tribalfootball. Yet, he still can't really let go of being slightly irritated about how things turned out.

"We want to be an asset to the Premier League; we don't just want to take part. I am not saying we should be in the top 10 next season, because in this league you can quickly lose momentum as the level is so high. But I hate it when people are congratulating me on surviving another season.

"That is f*** boring, pardon my French. I know it's the toughest league in the world and at the end of the day is comes down to winning matches. I get that. But we trained so hard in pre-season to take ourselves to the next level and just look at the first 10-12 matches of the season. We went up on all the offensive stats.

"And then the injuries set in. I really would have liked to have tried some more this season, but in the end, you content yourselves with the minimum target which is staying in the Premier League, naturally", says Frank who believes Brentford should mix in with teams around mid-table with dreams of pushing for more.

"I have a theory that you can't touch the top six or seven, unless they really have a poor season. That means our place is somewhere between eight and 17 and in a magical season perhaps climb even higher. Yes, money talks, but it is possible to beat the odds as we've proven in my seven years at the club."

Three poor games below standard

Speaking of beating the odds, Frank is getting pretty tired of hearing people say how much Brentford are punching above their weight.

"Just looking at budgets, yes, we are punching above our weight, but I really think we have great players. I also think we are very good at getting the optimal out of those players. We have a really good structure and a fantastic culture which can take you far.

"There is not one our three seasons in the Premier League which you can point to and say we got more than we deserved. We finished ninth last season, and nothing indicated we should have finished lower. It was rather a question whether we shouldn't have finished even higher. So, I really believe we've performed according to our standards," states Frank while pointing out three exceptions this season.

"We lost at home to Everton, we lost our away game at Sheffield United and when we lost 4-2 against West Ham. Those three were really poor performances from us. In every other match we've performed at least to a reasonable level."

Putting things into perspective

Unlike a few of his colleagues on the sidelines, one rarely sees Thomas Frank in a tantrum which made it all the more remarkable when he suddenly vented his frustrations at a press conference during the season. Not least as it was directed at Brentford supporters.

"Yeah, I got a bit annoyed with being booed off the pitch against Chelsea. It was not a great first half and we were 1-0 behind, but this is Chelsea we're up against, come on! Things need to be put into perspective. If we hadn't performed, if we had been 4-0 down, fair enough, but not at that point", says Frank who enjoy a good standing in the Brentford community.

"I'm fully away that that can change after three defeats on the bounce, I'm not stupid, but I have my opinion and I've never been afraid to say it. I just try to express it decently."

The Brentford boss is about to become number four on the list of longest serving managers in the top four English leagues when Jürgen Klopp departs Liverpool this summer. When Klopp announced his farewell, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola stated the German made him a better manager and Franks draws inspiration from Klopp as well. But also, from every other manager.

Flattering United and Liverpool rumours

"I really think every manager in the Premier League inspires me in some way. It is easy to point out the two biggest names, Klopp and Pep, but I also find it impressive what Eddie Howe has done at Newcastle, for instance. I also have a lot of respect for what Sean Dyche is doing at Everton.

"Chris Wilder hasn't had the best of seasons, but I remember facing him the first time at Sheffield United and being really impressed by the structure of his team. I really look at what all the others are doing and then twist it my own way," says Frank who bemoans that the old tradition of managers sharing a quiet moment together after a game has gone a bit missing.

"Sean Dyche told me it's a dying tradition. But him and me do it, I've also done it with Rob Edwards (Luton) and David Moyes, of course. I also did it with Brendan Rodgers, so the British lads, more or less," says Frank who was one of the managers rumoured to take over from Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool FC, just as there is now talk of him taking over from Erik ten Hag at Manchester United. While he found the rumours flattering, he still loves life at Brentford.

"Being put up for a position like that is of course a recognition of one's work somehow, but as I have said many times; I have no problem staying where I am for a long time. It's very close to the perfect football life," says the Dane who has begun preparing for his fourth season in the Premier League. No doubt, he plans to make a real fist of it.

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Jacob Hansen


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