Thomas Frank has had plenty to enjoy with Brentford (Picture: Getty)
Happy Friday everybody! My god! What a weekend we have to come! A Bank Holiday Monday, sunshine forecast across the land, and 72 hours of the most fun weekend in English football.
Championship play-off final, then League Two’s, wrapping up with Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday’s Wembley tussle for a place in the Championship.
And in between all that – the final day of the Premier League. All 20 teams playing out the season on a balmy Sunday afternoon. It is mint.
Clearly, some among us may not share my giddiness. Sufferers of hayfever – and fans of Leicester City, Everton, Leeds United and Southampton, for instance. But can you humour me by spending a bit of time with those who will?
A couple of weeks back we talked in this column about the wonderful work Luton Town are doing, over-performing their playing budget season after season.
Their wisdom in building for the future felt in stark contrast to many other Football League clubs, where fines for mismanagement can be commonplace. But even more extraordinary is that there are two clubs who are managing to achieve this in the Premier League.
A place where ‘smaller clubs’ expect to be content selling their stars to richer rivals, and keep their fingers crossed against relegation.
Brighton already had Roberto De Zerbi on their radar when Graham Potter left (Picture: Getty)
Well, no one seems to have informed Brighton or Brentford of this important tradition.
Brighton qualified on Wednesday night for Europe with a draw against champions Manchester City. Brentford will finish top half in their second-ever season in the Premier League, at least ten points above west London neighbours Chelsea.
Brighton have the lowest net spend in the division this season (earning £72million from the two windows, according to Transfermarkt) in an unbelievable lesson in sustainability. Brentford’s stadium capacity is 17,250, they sit 13th in terms of net spend. In 2008 they finished 14th in League Two.
So what’s going on? And why can’t ‘big’ clubs just copy the model? They are certainly trying. That’s why Chelsea brought then-Brighton manager Graham Potter and all his backroom team to Stamford Bridge.
Brighton booked their place in the Europa League midweek (Picture: Getty)
Thing is, Potter and his staff were just one piece of the puzzle. There are three interrelated factors that Brighton and Brentford use to out-think their rivals – and they are not quick fixes. The first is what Brighton keeper Jason Steele called ‘the togetherness, the culture’ after Wednesday night’s game. A club that knows how to set the tone from the top to the bottom and back again.
When I spoke with Brentford’s excellent technical director Lee Dykes this week, he said: ‘The club’s superpower is its structure and how it aligns its staff and people and players towards the future goal.
‘Too many clubs that I’ve seen …read more