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Thomas Frank: The Strategic Genius Behind Brentford’s Development

Since their promotion to the Premier League in the 2021-2022 season, Brentford has captured the attention of football fans worldwide with their unique strategies and impressive performances. At the heart of their success lies their talented manager, Thomas Frank. Known for his tactical acumen and ability to devise innovative game plans, Frank has played a pivotal role in Brentford’s survival in the top flight.

In this article, we will delve into the tactical philosophy of Thomas Frank, analyzing his strategic approach to attacking corner kicks, free kicks, and overall gameplay. By examining the key principles and patterns employed by Brentford under Frank’s guidance, we can gain valuable insights into their success and understand why they have become a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League.

The 4-3-3 System: A Foundation for Success

A key aspect of Brentford’s success under Thomas Frank is their tactical system. Frank has implemented a 4-3-3 formation that allows all three of their forwards to thrive in unison. While the team has the flexibility to adapt to a 3-5-2 formation, the 4-3-3 system has become the core foundation of their play.

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The defensive line is anchored by goalkeeper David Raya, who not only excels as a shot-stopper but also plays an integral role in the team’s build-up play. The backline consists of versatile defenders such as Aaron Hickey, Ethan Pinnock, and Kristoffer Ajer, who provide stability and adaptability to Frank’s defensive strategies.

In midfield, Mathias Jensen, Christian Nørgaard, and Vitaly Janelt form a dynamic trio that balances defensive solidity with creative playmaking. Their ability to control the midfield and contribute to both defensive transitions and build-up play has been instrumental in Brentford’s success.

Up front, the striking partnership of Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo has been a revelation. Toney’s physicality and hold-up play complement Mbeumo’s speed and ability to make runs in behind the opposition defense. This deadly duo has consistently posed a threat to opposing teams and contributed significantly to Brentford’s goal-scoring exploits.

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Attacking Corner Kicks: Blocking Strategies and Creative Variations

One area where Brentford excels is in their approach to attacking corner kicks. Under Thomas Frank’s guidance, the team employs “blocking” strategies to create scoring opportunities and maximize their chances from set pieces.

One of the key characteristics of Brentford’s corner kick strategy is their aggressive shape. They often have six or seven players in the box, with two players positioned around the corner. This aggressive positioning puts pressure on the opposition and forces them to focus on defending their own goal rather than launching counterattacks.

Another interesting aspect of Brentford’s corner kick routines is the presence of two kickers around the corner. This provides options for short plays and a variety of deliveries, making it difficult for the opposition to predict their next move. Additionally, the presence of both left-footed Bryan Mbeumo and right-footed Mathias Jensen adds another layer of unpredictability to their set pieces.

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In terms of target players, Mbeumo, Jensen, Ben Mee, Ethan Pinnock, and Christian Nørgaard are the main contributors. Each player has a specific role and their positioning and movement within the box contribute to the effectiveness of Brentford’s attacking corner kicks. Furthermore, Thomas Frank’s strategic use of players like Ivan Toney, who often runs towards the opposite side from where the ball is delivered, adds an element of surprise and allows for creative scoring opportunities.

Brentford’s corner kick tactics have proven to be successful, with goals coming from flick-ons at the first post, headers back into the danger area, and even volleys from the likes of Ivan Toney. The team’s ability to adapt and execute different patterns keeps the opposition guessing and has been a major factor in their goal-scoring exploits.

Attacking Free Kicks: Turning Opportunities into Goal-Scoring Set Pieces

Another aspect of Brentford’s attacking prowess lies in their ability to turn free kicks into goal-scoring opportunities. Whether in the final third or from deeper areas of the pitch, Thomas Frank has devised strategies to exploit set-piece situations and create chances for his team.

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In the final third, Brentford often opts for in-swinging deliveries to flick the ball at the near post. This strategy aims to take advantage of the chaos caused by the presence of multiple players in a confined area. By utilizing blocking strategies and precise timing, Brentford’s attackers can create opportunities to score from close range.

When the ball can be delivered in front of the 18-yard line, out-swinging deliveries are preferred. These deliveries aim to find space in the middle or far side of the box, providing opportunities for players to attack the ball and create scoring chances. Again, the blocking strategy comes into play, with one player moving behind the marker of the target attacker to create space and disrupt the opposition’s defensive organization.

Brentford’s ability to convert free kicks into goal-scoring opportunities is a testament to Thomas Frank’s meticulous planning and the execution of his players. By combining blocking strategies, precise delivery, and intelligent movement off the ball, Brentford consistently poses a threat from set pieces.

Build-up Play: Quick and Slick Progression

Brentford’s build-up play is characterized by its speed and precision. Thomas Frank emphasizes quick transitions from defense to attack, utilizing the movement of his players to create wide overloads and exploit spaces in the opposition defense.

The team’s goalkeeper, David Raya, plays a crucial role in the build-up phase. While Brentford often sets up to pass the ball out from the back, Raya is not afraid to launch direct passes to bypass the opposition’s press. His ability to accurately distribute the ball over long distances allows Brentford to quickly transition from defense to attack and catch their opponents off guard.

In midfield, players like Mathias Jensen, Christian Nørgaard, and Vitaly Janelt provide options between the defensive lines, creating passing lanes and facilitating the progression of play. Their intelligent movement off the ball and precise timing of passes contribute to the fluidity of Brentford’s build-up play.

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The wing-backs, Aaron Hickey and Rico Henry, play an important role in advancing the ball up the field. Their high positioning and overlapping runs create width and stretch the opposition defense, providing opportunities for penetrating passes or crosses into the box.

Thomas-Frank-Brentford-Tactics
2 1 build up shape with full backs high

With Ivan Toney leading the line, Brentford often looks to play long passes into the wide channels for Bryan Mbeumo to exploit his speed and make runs in behind the defense. This direct approach catches the opposition off guard and allows Brentford to quickly penetrate the final third.

Overall, Brentford’s build-up play is characterized by its speed, precision, and ability to exploit spaces in the opponent’s defense. Thomas Frank’s emphasis on quick transitions and intelligent movement off the ball has been instrumental in their success.

Attacking Principles: Directness and Exploiting Transitions

One of the hallmarks of Brentford’s attacking play is their directness and ability to exploit transitional moments. Thomas Frank has instilled a philosophy that encourages his players to quickly advance up the pitch and create scoring opportunities.

When Brentford wins back possession, their front three immediately spring into action, looking to receive long passes and stretch the opposition defense. Ivan Toney’s physicality and ability to hold up the ball provide an initial outlet, while Bryan Mbeumo’s speed allows him to make runs in behind the defense.

The team’s direct approach catches the opposition off guard and creates 1v1 situations with the goalkeeper. However, when faced with a compact defense, Brentford also relies on the crossing abilities of Rico Henry to create scoring opportunities. Their ability to seamlessly transition between direct play and patient build-up has been a key factor in their goal-scoring exploits.

In addition to their direct style of play, Brentford also capitalizes on set-piece situations. With Mathias Jensen and Bryan Mbeumo in charge of deliveries, and players like Ivan Toney and Ben Mee attacking the ball, Brentford poses a constant threat from corners and free kicks. This combination of direct play and set-piece proficiency makes them a formidable attacking force.

Defensive Principles: High Press and Compact Shape

While Brentford’s attacking play receives much of the spotlight, their defensive principles are equally important in their success. Under Thomas Frank, the team employs a high-pressing game and maintains a compact shape to limit the opposition’s space in the final third.

Brentford’s defensive strategy starts from the front, with players like Mathias Jensen leading the press and disrupting the opposition’s build-up play. Their aggressive man-for-man press forces opponents to play long or make mistakes, leading to turnovers and opportunities for Brentford to regain possession.

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In the event of a failed press, Brentford quickly retreats into a compact defensive shape, usually in a 4-5-1 or 5-3-2 formation. This compactness limits the space for the opposition to exploit and makes it difficult for them to break through the defensive line.

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Brentfords man to man pressing

The team’s energy and intensity in defending are commendable, as they consistently press and counter-press to regain possession. However, there is room for improvement in terms of efficiency, as they have conceded goals directly from turnovers and have the lowest tackle percentage in the league.

Despite these defensive shortcomings, Brentford’s ability to disrupt the opposition’s play and limit their scoring opportunities has been a key factor in their success. Thomas Frank’s emphasis on high pressing and maintaining a compact shape has made them a resilient defensive unit.

Under the guidance of Thomas Frank, Brentford has established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League. Frank’s tactical acumen and ability to devise innovative strategies have been instrumental in the team’s success.

Brentford’s attacking prowess is evident in their approach to set pieces, where they employ blocking strategies, creative variations, and utilize the strengths of their attacking players. Their direct style of play, combined with their proficiency in set pieces, has made them a potent attacking force.

In terms of build-up play, Brentford’s quick and slick transitions, intelligent movement off the ball, and precise passing have allowed them to penetrate opposition defenses and create scoring opportunities.

Defensively, Brentford’s high press and compact shape have disrupted the opposition’s play and limited their space in the final third. While there is room for improvement in terms of efficiency, their energy and intensity in defending have made them a resilient unit.

Overall, Thomas Frank’s tactical philosophy has been the driving force behind Brentford’s success. By combining attacking prowess, solid defensive principles, and a cohesive team structure, Frank has transformed Brentford into a team capable of challenging for a top-half finish in the Premier League.

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