Thomas Frank has admitted Brentford strode on to the Premier League stage with “zero experience” of what to expect.
Last season’s Sky Bet Championship play-off winners returned to the top flight after an absence of 74 years but from the moment they launched their campaign with a 2-0 victory over Arsenal, they have more than made a fist of life among English football’s aristocrats.
They will head into Monday night’s clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford with 40 points already banked and all but mathematically safe and given where they started from, that represents a significant achievement in Frank’s book.
The Dane told the club’s official website: “When you go into a Premier League season as a promoted team, you don’t know exactly what to expect.
“It was even less for us as not one staff member had worked at a Premier League club before and not one player had played either – two minutes from Ivan Toney and two minutes from Sergi Canos don’t count.”
In-season signings Christian Eriksen, Mathias Jorgensen and Jonas Lossl were familiar with the Premier League but Frank continued: “When we played the first game it was with zero experience.
“What did we expect? I don’t exactly know, but I do know that we wanted to aim as high as possible, try to attack and be an asset to the league.
“I had huge belief that we could do something. That was the message to the players.”
If the Bees have enjoyed a successful campaign, this weekend’s opponents have nowhere near lived up to their own expectations.
Such have been United’s difficulties that they dispensed with the services of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, although Frank knows they will still be formidable opponents.
He said: “The club is maybe the biggest in world football with what they have created over the years.
“The team is obviously struggling in terms of their ambitions – I can say that without any disrespect. They have had a tough season.
“It is always not good when you have to sack a head coach because something is not right. I’m pretty sure that their expectations were to be higher.
“It is still a team of world-class players – [Jadon] Sancho, [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Bruno] Fernandes and [Marcus] Rashford are among the best offensive players in the league on their best day.
“It is a huge challenge. We are looking forward to it.”