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Brentford In focus: Why The Bees Are Flying In The Premier League

Brentford In focus: Why The Bees Are Flying In The Premier League

Many expected Brentford to struggle when they ventured back into English football's top flight for the first time in 74 years. But Thomas Frank's side have proved the doubters wrong – sitting in ninth place after six matches, with two wins and three draws to their name. Their only defeat came at the hands of this season's other surprise package, Brighton and Hove Albion, and the Seagulls took until the 90th minute to break Brentford down. Aarron Pullen takes a closer look at what has been behind Brentford's fantastic start to life in the Premier League.



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No Intention Of Making Up The Numbers

The Bees never intended to just make up the numbers and accept their fate of dropping back down to the Championship at the first time of asking.

After all, Brentford have been doing things differently for the last few years and – as their chief executive Jon Varney explains – there was no benefit to heading down the same well-trodden path that so many have followed before.

He said: “We are fiercely committed to doing things differently by taking calculated risks.

“We cannot just follow the old-fashioned way of doing things.

“The core of our business is to make a profit every year on player trading, so we need not only to be able to find players with potential, but also to increase their value by developing them while they are in the building.”

Infrastructure And Recruitment Changes

As part of this vision, they controversially scrapped their academy in favour of ‘Brentford B’ in 2016 – a side designed to create an effective pathway through to the men’s first team.

The B-team effectively operates as its own entity with its own specific backroom staff, the only difference being they don’t play any competitive fixture in a specific league.

Instead, they play matches against an array of different sides – from Bromley to Borussia Dortmund II, Beckenham to Bayern Munich, they get a taste of all levels of opposition.

A total of 16 players over that last five years have progressed from the B-team into the first team, which is a much better hit rate than many academy set-ups.

Their reputation for bringing in players who are undervalued by their current clubs, using data and statistical modelling, has been hugely successful.

This ‘Moneyball’ style recruitment system means any arriving player should – in theory – be able to go straight into the first team, knowing the mathematics used in the scouting process allows them to fit straight in.

Or, if they’re not quite ready, they will be part of a shadowing B-team environment where they’re guaranteed matches week in, week out. 

The set-up has worked so well that other clubs of similar stature are now looking to follow suit.




Clear Progress

Any Brentford fan must still be pinching themselves at how far they’ve come in such a short space of time, having only won League Two as recently as 2009.

Now they find themselves competing against English football’s elite – and their strong start has impressed many, including former Premier League star William Gallas.

The veteran of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham knows how important a good start to the season can be, and – speaking exclusively to Genting – he recognises it is exactly what the Bees needed.

He said: “They [Brentford] started very well this season and they will know it is very important to start well at the beginning of the season – it’s very important. 

“You have to take as many points as possible because the season is very long. 

“Brentford don’t want to be relegated into the Championship next season, so that’s why they start well and strong. 

“The coach did a good job last season, I’m happy they were promoted, they look like they can surprise many people.”

Survival is the aim this season, but with Brentford firing on all cylinders so far, it is anyone’s guess how high the Bees can fly in 2021-22 and beyond.

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