Brentford boss Thomas Frank is under no illusions as to how tough the task will be this weekend – but the respect he has for the job Jurgen Klopp has done is very much returned from our manager too.
There are a few similarities between the teams in the modern day, with Brentford known for their smart recruitment using a particular model, and some fast-paced, high-energy gameplans leading to real success for them on the pitch.
Of course, those successes and signings come a little further down the football hierarchy than Liverpool’s have over the past few years, but it’s all relative and they have very much earned their place in the top flight.
Even off the pitch there are similarities, with our weekend trip to the new Brentford Community Stadium somewhat mirroring the Reds’ Anfield expansions, the latest of which has just been announced.
Thomas Frank knows the Bees will be hard-pushed to pick up a result this weekend and has waxed lyrical about Klopp’s achievements with the Reds, our style of play and the “excitement” of playing one of Europe’s top sides, a reward for their endeavours over the past few seasons.
“It is by far the biggest test this season so far. They are one of the best teams and biggest clubs in the world. Over the last three years they have played some of the most entertaining, forward-thinking, pressing, attacking football. It is very impressive what Klopp and his staff have done,” Frank said at a press conference.
“What is so impressive is that they are an attacking threat from so many areas. When you are facing some teams it is mostly counter-attack or mostly crosses or something else. Liverpool are fantastic at crossing, they are fantastic through the middle, they are fantastic at counter-attacking high and deep, and they are really good at offensive set-pieces so they hit you from every angle. We will narrow it down and find the most important things that we think we need to match and then hopefully we can find a door that is two inches open we can put a foot in.
“Excitement is the right word. A lot of games have been more important than this. This game is important but it is not a Play-Off Final. It is a big game; we are excited about testing ourselves against a top, top team in Europe.”
For Klopp’s part, he didn’t hold back either in praising Brentford‘s approach and the work done in the dugout and on the training pitches – as well as the enthusiasm shown by his opposite number, while he is reminded of his own earlier coaching career in the “creative” manner of working the transfer market.
“I watched the press conference and it was one of the most entertaining things I’ve watched the last few years to be honest!” Klopp said.
“It’s like half an hour talking about all the different players, it was really good! Maybe I’ll start with that: the football they play is incredible, the organisation is incredible, Thomas is and Brentford is doing a brilliant job, how they recruit, how different they are, how they show that even with less money it’s possible to create something really special.
“It reminds me a lot of the time at Mainz when I was there. We had no money, we had to be creative in the transfer market – there’s a massive difference in the money Brentford has and Mainz had at that time but it shows it’s still possible.
“It’s an incredibly well-drilled football team in the 3-5-2, everybody knows what to do. I saw the celebration after the Arsenal game which was absolutely great to see how much it meant to them. We know what to expect and it will be a tough one but rightly so, that’s football and we all have a chance.”
On the likelihood of earning a result, Frank made the point that while Brentford won’t finish above the Reds across the course of a season, but in 90 minutes shock results can always happen.
It serves as a reminder, were it needed, that the Reds will need to be right on it against a team playing their biggest game of the campaign so far.
“We are going into this game with a belief that we can win. We know it is going to be unbelievably difficult. The top four sides, Liverpool, the two Manchester teams, and Chelsea, are quite a bit ahead of anyone else. These are not the teams we need to compete against; these are the potential Champions League winners. Can we get a result? I think we can but over 38 games it is impossible for us to finish above them.
“We need to find the right balance to make sure we aren’t exposed or show too much respect. We are looking forward to the challenge. Nobody expects us to do anything and it’s not this game where we need to get our points but, if we want to end as high as possible, every point counts. We are going out there to do everything to get the points. It is more likely that they win 3-0 than we win 1-0 but we have a chance to win 1-0. That’s the chance we are going for. I know we are difficult to play against and I hope we make it difficult for Liverpool.”