'There is no story' - Brentford boss Thomas Frank glosses over Leeds United rivalry ahead of final day showdown

Brentford will hold nothing back in their 'cup final' against Leeds United in the last game of the Premier League season.

By Flora Snelson
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 12:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 12:37 pm

That's the message Bees boss Thomas Frank gave after his side's victory over relegation-threatened Everton left the fight for survival wide open.

Pascal Struijk's late equaliser for Leeds against Brighton and Hove Albion ensured that the relegation battle will go to the very last day - midweek results for Everton, at home to Crystal Palace, and Burnley, who visit Aston Villa, will not be enough to send United down, meaning Leeds' top flight status will be hanging in the balance when they travel to the Brentford Community Stadium on Sunday - a fact which is not lost on Frank.

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This season, Elland Road has felt like a sinking ship, with Marcelo Bielsa's historic promotion-winning team disintegrating into mediocrity and possibly taking their hard-fought top-flight status down with them, while Frank's newly-promoted side have climbed higher than they might have dreamed of.

In West London this weekend, the reversal of the clubs' respective fortunes will be achingly apparent two years after the shoe was very much on the other foot. Both teams were chasing automatic promotion from the Championship in February 2020 when Frank inadvertently stirred Leeds fans with a suggestion that the Whites should fear a mid-season visit to Griffin Park, then the Bees' home ground.

His words came back to haunt him at the season's conclusion, when Leeds won the Championship title and Brentford's promotion bid came to a stuttering stop.

But any history between the two clubs, hostile or otherwise, will have no bearing on the way his side attack the game on Sunday, Frank insists.

Brentford boss Thomas Frank. Pic: Stephen Pond.

“It is nothing about Everton, Burnley or Leeds and I know in my press conference I will get a lot of questions between the story about me and 'so-called' Leeds fans and a video, but there is no story there from my perspective," the Dane said.

“In the Championship two years ago - I'm normally very transparent and honest, and I don't do mind games - by mistake, I said they [Leeds] will fear coming to Griffin Park - that's what I said.

“That's the only thing I said since then, I haven't said anything bad. I think Leeds is one of the biggest clubs in the country; they should be in the Premier League with the story and the history.

“I think they've done remarkable. Of course, I can't say that I want them more than Everton or Burnley, the three of them need to fight for it [survival] and we'll say who'll be there [Premier League next season].”

Leeds United captain Liam Cooper celebrates scoring the equaliser against Brentford in the Whites' 1-1 Championship draw with their promotion rivals in 2020. Pic: George Wood.

Depending on other results, Brentford could match the impressive ninth-placed finish achieved by Leeds on their return to the Premier League last season if the Bees beat United on Sunday.

Frank is keen that the club's first ever season in the top flight ends on as strong a note as possible.

"We will put our very best team out there - it's so important to understand we need to do our very best to win," Frank said.

“First and foremost, we need to be very professional and hopefully want to win every single game for Brentford fans and themselves, but I think it's very important to show respect to the league that we do everything we can because if I was in that situation, I'd definitely expect other teams [to do the same].”

Former Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa shakes hands with Bees manager Thomas Frank. Pic: Bruce Rollinson.

“A lot of 'so-called' experts talked about we were going on holiday and we didn't have anything to fight for.

“Everyone will do our best to try and win on Sunday, and if Brentford can finish top 10, that's remarkable. As far as I know, there is a fair quid to gain if you finish higher, for the club.

“It's very simple; maybe after 10 years in the Premier League you don't care if you finish 11th or 9th but for us, every game is a cup final.”

Brentford winger Sergi Canós heads wide during Leeds United's 2-2 draw with the Bees at Elland Road in December 2021. Pic: George Wood.