Brentford's win over Bournemouth proves they've got the heart for the fight

22 May 2021 06:00

Brentford have often been accused of being the bottlejobs of the Championship and when you consider some of their recent campaigns it's difficult to argue against that theory.

The Bees' 'Moneyball' system has seen them loiter around the upper echelons of the second tier for a few years now, yet they just can't seem to be able to drag themselves over the line and secure promotion to the Premier League.

Marcus Forss was the unlikely hero | Alex Pantling/Getty Images

To highlight this matter even further, a plethora of top players have been unearthed by the club before being sold on for big money, and with the majority of them flourishing in the top flight it makes you wonder how Brentford didn't secure promotion when said players were on their books?

Surely it can only boil down to the mentality within the club?

Last season's dramatic collapse was undoubtedly the pinnacle of their 'bottle-jobbing' so to speak.

Thomas Frank's side needed just one win from their final two games against struggling Barnsley and mid-table Stoke to book their place at English football's top table, yet they somehow managed to lose both outings and were forced to endure the lottery of the play-offs.

It's rare that a team who score the most goals and have the second best defensive record in the Championship don't get promoted, but that's exactly what Brentford managed to do. You see, when Brentford are good they're brilliant, but when things don't click they fall to pieces.

This frailty reared its ugly head at Wembley last year as they were beaten by Fulham in the play-off final, and having once again bottled promotion this season when it looked a shoo-in at one point, their play-off semi-final first-leg defeat to Bournemouth on Monday night smacked of 'same old Brentford'.

Ahead of the second leg at the Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday, the big question on everyone's lips was which Brentford would turn up? The one that's been one of the best teams in the league for the past two seasons or the one that falls apart when things don't go to plan?

We soon got our answer as Frank's side flooded forward with just five minutes on the clock, allowing the Cherries to hit them on the break before Arnaut Danjuma put the visitors 2-0 up on aggregate.

The goal was just the latest example of a team who don't know the term 'game management' and was hugely naive. However, after that something incredible happened.

When the chips are down and Brentford aren't having things all their own way you'd be a brave person to bet on a Bees comeback, yet Frank's side suddenly started to show some of the fight and resilience that's been missing from their game for the last couple of seasons.

Was it the support of the returning crowd that spurred them into life? Who knows, but one thing's for sure; Brentford's attitude and mentality after going two goals behind on aggregate could never be questioned.

We're not going to overlook the fact Bournemouth had a man sent off as Chris Mepham was handed his marching orders, though it was the workrate and the drive of the energetic Bryan Mbeumo that was the catalyst for the error as he hassled the Cherries defender into a mistake before being brought down.

Brentford played with the intensity that we're used to seeing from them when the sun is shining and they're swatting teams aside with ease - this wasn't the side that drop their heads as soon as they realise things aren't going as they'd hoped.

It's all smiles for Ivan Toney and his teammates | Alex Pantling/Getty Images

It was as though a switch had flicked somewhere in the Brentford side's heads and they suddenly realised that you need more than quality players to make it out of a league that's as much of a slog as the Championship.

With the constant barrage of games teams in the second tier are asked to play, no team is ever going to be at their best every single outing, and without sounding cliché about the whole thing it's character and mentality that get you through the days when you're not at your best.

Ivan Toney, Emiliano Marcondes, Mbeumo, Vitaly Janelt, the list of leaders the Bees had out on the pitch having gone a goal behind goes on, and they richly deserved their place in the final having secured a brilliant 3-1 win on the afternoon, progressing 3-2 on aggregate.

This is the type of performance that's been missing from Brentford's game and if they can show the same fight at Wembley next Saturday they should finally be able to call themselves a Premier League outfit.

Source: 90min