Neal Maupay’s miss, Mokotjo injured and a need to grow up fast – Brentford talking points

Neal Maupay’s miss, Mokotjo injured and a need to grow up fast – Brentford talking points

Improvement under Frank

While the 1-0 defeat marks three losses from three under Thomas Frank, there was a marked improvement from the performance at Deepdale.

Preston North End looked like they could score every time they attacked an out of sorts Brentford defence on Wednesday, but the Bees were far more solid against Norwich City.

“The first and most important thing is that we’ve played well,” said the Bees coach in his post-match press conference. “We know that we’ve gone into the games and performed well.”

Midfielders Romaine Sawyers and Nico Yennaris tucked in alongside the holding midfielder, first Kamohelo Mokotjo and then Josh McEachran when the South African went off injured in the 30th minute, to give the Bees much more resistance in the centre of the pitch.

Going forward, Brentford still attacked with penetration and were unlucky not to equalise when Neal Maupay skied a six-yard shot into the bar.

Had the Championship’s top scorer found the net it would have been a different outlook for the Bees, so there is no need to panic yet under Frank.

“We have to adjust the small details, have a good training week, putting energy into the boys and then we go again on Saturday,” he said.

Mokotjo’s injury

Mokotjo looked in some discomfort when he hobbled off the pitch at the half hour mark and the South African could be out for some time.

Frank said after the game it was a calf problem, and although McEachran slotted into the South African’s position well on Saturday, Mokotjo’s importance to Brentford should not be understated.



Brentford head coach Thomas Frank instructs his players from the touchline.

He is possibly the only member of the Bees’ squad who provides such defensive stability in midfield and Frank has paid tribute to his away performances this year, highlighting his display against Leeds United.

Although McEachran’s playmaking ability has been impressive at Griffin Park, the 25-year-old lacks defensive aptitude in comparison, so Mokotjo could be missed in tricky games on the road.

Maupay’s miss

It was an agonising blunder from Maupay because, when the ball fell to him six yards out in front of an open goal, everyone in the stadium expected the net to bulge.

But, incredibly, the league’s top scorer managed to hit the bar. Perhaps the ball bounced heavily on him, causing the striker to get underneath the ball, but Maupay still should have added to his tally of 11 goals in the league.

The most painstaking part of the miss is that an equaliser would have earned Frank his first point as Brentford head coach and the mood in west London would be far more cheerful.

“I would have liked at least a draw,” said the Dane after the match.

Frank says no penalty

Brentford’s head coach said after the game that he did not think Ollie Watkins’ challenge on Max Aarons was a foul.

“I think there was body contact in the box,” he said. “I watched it back briefly on the phone and anyway, I can’t do anything about it now and luckily enough, not only luck, I would like to say that Dan made a very good save.”



Brentford head coach Thomas Frank shakes hands after Brentford’s loss to Norwich City at Carrow Road.

However, by leaning on the 18-year-old full back, Watkins gave the referee Oliver Langford an opportunity to point to the spot.

Frank can argue it was soft, but giving the officials a decision to make in the box is a mistake and it could have put the game beyond Brentford’s reach had Jordan Rhodes taken the penalty with any conviction.

As it was, Daniel Bentley made a save to his left on the stroke of half-time to give the Bees hope of a come back after the break.

A show of inexperience

The Bees’ boss noted his disappointment at his players’ lack of calmness in attack when chasing the game.

“We need to show much more coolness and composure,” he said. “Norwich were fearing us and we could see they were under pressure.

“I am disappointed we gave the ball away so many times just because of rushing. And that’s because the boys have big hearts and want to do so well for us. And I think that’s one of the things with a young squad.”

When Brentford have been at their best this season, they have played with an eagerness in the final third allied with an intelligence in midfield to get the timing of their forward play right.

Against Norwich, they over-extended themselves and will need to be more patient in future rather rushing the build-up play, regardless of whether these flaws are symptomatic of a young team wanting to impress and take the game to their opponents.

With no outfield players over 29, it has been debated in the past whether a lack of experience is the ultimate weakness holding Brentford back.



Marco Stiepermann of Norwich City and Ezri Konsa of Brentford compete for the ball.

Perhaps there is wisdom in adding some seasoned pros to the mix but that given the cost associated with signing older players with the quality to compete with the talent already in Frank’s team, that would go against the model that has served the Bees well so far.

Instead, it will be on the current crop to learn quickly from their mistakes and make better decisions in the games to come – and on Frank to guide them to their solutions if they cannot come up with answers themselves.

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