How Can Brentford Avoid ‘Second Season Syndrome’ In The Premier League?
Over the last couple of years the phrase ‘second season syndrome’ has become more common in Premier League football. The saying refers to when a team perhaps overachieves in their first top-flight season, and after riding the crest of a wave in their initial nine-month period, they get a real taste of reality in their second year, struggling to pick up results and inevitability tasting relegation.
As far as the Premier League relegation odds 21/22 are concerned, many had Brentford down as one of the sides to struggle. This was the west London outfit’s first campaign in Premier League history and while their manager Thomas Frank looked to be tactically astute in the Championship, navigating the Bees through the play-offs at the second time of asking, there was still little experience in that squad. However, the Danish coach has been a breath of fresh air this season, with Brentford upsetting a few of the big boys in their first proper season.
Although not mathematically safe from the drop, it’s extremely unlikely Brentford will go down this season, and Frank can start to gear up for a busy summer. It’s easy to say they’ve overachieved, but the hard part will now be to avoid the same fate of Sheffield United and Leeds United in recent years — both of which finished in the top half in their first seasons, only to go down in the Blades’ case and to flirt with relegation as Leeds have done in this campaign. It’s essential Frank gets things right, so read on as we look at what Brentford can do to avoid that second-season syndrome in the Premier League.
Home form is essential
Referring back to Sheffield United — you felt the Blades were victims of their own circumstances. Most of their points came before the coronavirus pandemic and their players clearly thrived off a packed-out Brammall Lane. Brentford fans will need to be in full voice as they have been this season and you only need to look at the opening day win against Arsenal and draw against Liverpool to see what a bearpit atmosphere the new Brentford Community Stadium can create. All it will take is a winning run and you can expect the ground to be bouncing.
Greater squad depth
The turn of the year saw a slight dip in results for Frank’s side. They struggled to deal with the fatigue of the busy Christmas period, dropping avoidable points that could have guaranteed their safety by now. They’ll need to be busy in the transfer window to get some fresh faces on board. Defensively, Frank has used the same back four throughout the season but there need to be some more reinforcements to deputize for injuries.
Ivan Toney will likely have no end of suitors, with both Arsenal and Everton linked with the Bees’ top scorer, and with the World Cup on the horizon, his head could be turned in order to get in Gareth Southgate’s squad for Qatar. If that does happen, they’ll need to compensate for his goals with a new number nine.
Make Eriksen permanent
A big part of Toney’s staying lies in Christian Eriksen. The Danish playmaker, who arrived in January after suffering a cardiac arrest at the Euros last summer, has completely changed the way Frank’s team has played this season, with his creativity simply unmatched. Tottenham Hotspur is rumored to be interested in the 30-year-old, who joined the Bees to get his fitness back up to scratch due to rules around his defibrillator at Inter Milan.
Frank is full of praise for his Danish compatriot, and is quietly confident he can get Eriksen to stick around — the creative spark they’ll need to stay afloat this season.
“I am always positive,” Frank said. “I always believe we have a very good chance. I know he is happy here, he is enjoying his football. It is a decision that will be taken at the end of the season.”