Nottingham Forest will look to get back to winning ways when they take on Brentford on Saturday at the City Ground.

Boss Martin O’Neill oversaw a disappointing loss to Birmingham City last time out and there isn’t much margin for error if the Reds are to secure a top six finish.

The Reds have been inconsistent of late at home.

During their last game in front of the Forest faithful they did win 3-1 over Wigan Athletic, however, and it will be a case of more of the same for O’Neill against the Bees.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Thomas Frank brings his side to Trentside in fantastic form.

Brentford are undefeated in ten games in all competitions and have scored three or more goals in their last five games.

Ahead of the game, Seat Pitch caught up with Billy Grant (@BillyTheBee99) from Beesotted Fanzine, Blog and Podcast 

Billy gave us the lowdown on all things Brentford.

Seat Pitch: You lost your manager earlier in that campaign, was it always expected that he would move on?
Billy Grant: Every time a big championship side lost a manager, Dean Smith was thrown into the frame. Villa especially as he’s a boyhood fan. We at Beesotted had heard very strong rumours from our Villa sources that he was on the way there. But I think it came as a bit of a surprise to the club as he was ‘part of the family’.
Saying that being a Villa fan he was always going to be tempted by that opportunity no matter what plans Brentford have lined up over the next few years (New stadium move. Premier League push). Also Dean Smith knew that he would be in a job at Brentford for as long as he wanted (bar a disaster). Maybe he needed a challenge.

(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Interestingly, Thomas Frank was bought over from Denmark in December 2016. Dean Smith had been in the job for a year and had been going through a few ups and downs in his time in charge. Some weeks we would play out of this world. Other weeks not so good. We would also go on runs where we would not win for weeks on end. I think there was one time when we won only one game in over 20 matches. Then the team would go on winning runs.
We could never work out why.
I wrote a piece on Beesotted when Thomas Frank was employed by Brentford. He was previously the head coach at Brondby who were one of the top 3 sides in Denmark. He had previously guided them through two Europa League campaigns.

And he was coming to Brentford as a No 2????

 

A peculiar move for him. Or not as the case might be.

It very much looks like Brentford were bringing an experienced head coach in to form part of Dean Smith’s coaching staff and to add his technical nous whilst also learning the English game. Learning on the job with no pressure.
We made a huge mistake taking the on previous manager Marinus Dijkhuizen from Holland who had zero experience of the English game. Lovely bloke. But it wasn’t to be. And in a very un-Brentford style he was sacked after eight games as he was pretty much incompatible.
With Frank, we believe the decision was made to get him in, help to shape the side tactically, and ensure he was ready to jump into the driving seat whenever Dean Smith left the club.
So to answer your question. The timing was a bit of a surprise. But it was expected that Smith would move on at some stage.
SP: Thomas Frank has taken over. What has he done differently?
BG: Frank had a horrendous start. We won only one game in our first ten matches – losing eight and drawing one. Interestingly, we never lost by more than one goal in any game bar Hull City (2-0). And we scored in every match bar Bristol City, Norwich and Hull in that run.

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

We scored 13 goals in a run where we only won one game and lost eight.
So you could say that we were in a good place. At least we were scoring. But we were having defensive problems.
I’ve chatted to Thomas Frank a few times and he’s a really really nice guy. Lives and breathes football, and is a real tactician. Some say his ideas are two or three years ahead of the pack.
Maybe when he came in, he had problems trying to get the players to understand what he wanted them to do.
It was a combination of bringing in our then B-team Head Coach – Brentford legend Kev O’Connor – to become an assistant Head Coach. Combined with Frank switching to a 3-4-3 that has led to us becoming more stable. In addition, three key players came back from injury – midfield general Kamo Mokotjo. Left-back Rico Henry and centre-back Julian Jeanviere. When I met Frank, he cited the lack of these three players as a key reason why we were not performing as he liked. That as well as bad luck. And terrible defensive errors.

(Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

At the time you think
“Yeah right. Excuses. Let’s see what happens then they come back from injury”
But when they came back, we were like a different team. Full of confidence. Still passing the ball around with aplomb, but now we had that slightly niggly edge too.
Frank seems to have worked really hard to solve the problems that have made us fragile at times. A great footballing side with a soft underbelly. Who could always be bullied. And end up finishing 10th in the table.
We now still play great football are a bit more solid defensively. But are also starting to fight back. And teams (especially Leeds) don’t like it.
Tell you what he also does differently. And this may seem trivial.

But every single match – win or lose, home or away – he walks all the way over to the main terrace and claps the Brentford fans. This has gone down tremendously well.

I personally really like Dean Smith. He really is a lovely person and I wish him well in his career in general (but as Villa are promotion rivals, I can’t necessarily wish Villa well as we want to be higher than them).

However, he never really got that massive bond with the fans because he kept himself to himself and didn’t do the simple things (like Thomas has done) to try and connect with the majority of fans.
 
SP: You have netted three or more goals in five consecutive games for the first time ever, did you see that coming and what would you put it down to?

BG: For the first time since Brentford were elected into the football league in 1920, we have we netted three or more goals in five consecutive matches. That’s some record. It’s a cliche but you can only beat what’s in front of you.

Six weeks ago we couldn’t beat an egg. So to be able to not only beat teams but to destroy them is truly wonderful.

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers were taken apart and Rotherham was a ding dong match but we scored some lovely goals.
The truth is – at the start of the season, we played some tremendous football. We beat Rotherham 5-1 on the opening day and the football we played that day, we thought we would carve everyone open. But our midfield at the time – consisting of Josh McEachean playing in a defensive role – got quickly rumbled by teams we were playing and we were soon on the back-foot. Within a month, Dean Smith left for Villa on the back of one of his win-less runs (we hadn’t won in six matches when he left) and the spiral decline continued.

The one plus-side. Maupay was scoring for fun. The guy is electric. I predicted early in the season that he would eclipse Andre Gray’s 18 goals in his only season for Brentford – which earned him a big money move to Burnley for Brentford – when the season was only half-way through. I was a few weeks out but he’s on 20 goals now. And will possibly be closer to 30 by the end of the season.

The problem was that we were light on goalscorers in other areas.

More recently we have seemed to have worked out a way to spread the goals. Against Blackburn last Saturday where scored five goals by four goalscorers and every goalscorer was aged under 23.
Against Rotherham, we scored four goals. Kamo Mokotjo – our defensive midfielder – pitched up with two.
Keep that up and we’ll be harder to pin down.
SP: On that basis, I presume we’re in for a tough game today, so who do we need to look out for?
BG: Naturally, Maupay is the man. He’s just a brilliant pest. Defenders hate playing against him
But without sounding cheesy, the whole team is brilliant as we’re playing as a team at the moment.
We tried to get a team full of technically proficient players. That didn’t really work out as when the chips were down. the heads went down.
Now we have a balance between technically proficient player and battlers and players who bring a different vibe and energy to the team. Barbet couldn’t get in the side because we had Chris Mepham come out of the B-team and stake a claim on the centre back position.

(Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Now that we’ve sold him for £12m and have gone three at the back, Barbet is back in. And has added something to the team that can’t be measured with simple stats.
Benrahma on the wing is also going to turn out to be an unbelievable player. He level of pisstakery is something else. He got a perfect 10 in WhoScored.com last week. That’s pretty hard to come by.

Then there is Mokotjo and Sawyers bossing the midfield.

I could go on.

SP: What are you expecting from Nottingham Forest?
BG: I’m not sure to be fair. You didn’t put up a great show at Griffin Park
You bought a load of expensive players. But we know that buying expensive players does not necessarily guarantee you success

(Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

And you have Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane at the helm who, in the Championship, are a bit of an unknown quantity. I understand O’Neill played 4-4-2 in his first match in charge.
Forest are known for playing attractive football. And with some decent players like Joe Lolley, we will definitely have to be on our A game.
SP: Is there a player within our ranks that you would love to have in your team?
BG: That’s a tough one. We have a set profile of player that we buy. Rarely over 25 years old. Has to have a resale value. But we have been arguing recently that an experienced pro would really help to steady the ship and take the youth to another level. Having experienced centre-back Michael Dawson in the squad might work although he’s not great in the air and that’s where we would want his leadership.
I spoke to Sean from Bandy and Shinty (https://beesotted.com/nottingham-forest-brentford-preview-feb19/) and he said that Robinson was solid for you guys.
If we needed a left-back to deputise for Rico Henry, Jack Robinson could be a possible stand-in. Good in the air. But his crossing isn’t all that. We would have to work on that
SP: Finally, what do you think the score will be today?
BG: I think the run will go on. I said on the Beesotted Pride of West London Podcast this week (https://audioboom.com/posts/7168354-pre-nottingham-forest-podcast-from-the-virtual-joint), which features an interview with Forest Fan Scott Eley, 2-1 to The Bees.
Im gonna stick with that
Billy Grant (@BillyTheBee99) from Beesotted (@Beesotted) Fanzine, Blog and Podcast (beesotted.com). You can catch the views of both Forest and Brentford fans straight after the match on http://PrideOfWest.London – live at around 7pm