Not so long ago, a respected member of South Yorkshire’s football fraternity explained the difficulty of facing Brentford.
“They are one of those teams,” he admitted, “That you just don’t know how they are going to go. Quite easily, they could be the next Bournemouth and end-up getting promoted. They’ve got the same kind of model and quality. Then again, they could have another season like the last one where they threaten to do something and, for some reason, don’t.”
Dean Smith, the Londoners’ manager, has admitted to grappling with exactly the same problem as he prepares for this weekend’s visit to Bramall Lane. Because, despite being written-off by some, he believes Sheffield United can upset the Championship’s establishment.
“They’ve got really good footballers,” Smith said. “They had a fabulous season last season and recruited well. We’ve got to be fit and ready for that game. It will be difficult but I look forward to it. I’ll enjoy picking a team that I believe can win at Sheffield United.”
United claimed 100 points and scored over 90 goals en route to the League One title. But, with former Brentford goalkeeper Simon Moore among those nursing injuries, have some decisions to make before Saturday’s contest. Smith is wrestling with a selection dilemma of his own after losing defender Harlee Dean to suspension while Andreas Bjelland and Yoann Barbet hope to partner John Egan at centre-half.
Bjelland, a Denmark international, and Barbet, previously of Chamois Niortais, both featured alongside Egan during Brentford’s recent friendly against Celta Vigo.
“We were looking at how many minutes the players had had,” Smith, speaking earlier this week, continued. “John Egan hadn’t done near a 90 minutes. Harlee had played the 90 minutes on Tuesday. It was the plan to give both Andreas and Yoann minutes against Celta Vigo.
“I’ll look at them on Monday and Tuesday and assess and pick a team capable and ready to go on Saturday later in the week. It’s a process we enjoying doing and one we need to get right because it’s going to be a very difficult game against a good team.”
“We’ll be ready for what’s going to be a tough month,” Smith added. “Very busy.”