Brentford bid for Europe offers latest step in remarkable Pinnock rise


rentford’s hopes of European football for next season offer a pinch-me moment for Ethan ­Pinnock.

The 29-year-old centre-back started out at non-League Dulwich Hamlet; now he is a regular starter in the Premier League. But he and the high-flying Bees want more.

Brentford, who are eighth, visit seventh-place Brighton on Saturday with both teams hunting down a European place.

Pinnock joined in summer 2019 when the Bees were in the Championship, and by the end of his second season they earned promotion to the Premier League. Now Europe is more than a mere whisper in the wind.

“At the time of signing, if you’d told me this is the position we would be in now, I’d bite your hand off,” he tells Standard Sport. “As the season has progressed, we’ve really started to settle into our roles.

“We know it [Europe] is a possibility. By the end of the season, we’ll see where we end up.”

Brentford’s 12-match unbeaten League run, which only ended this month, incorporated a famous 2-1 victory over Manchester City. Pinnock’s menial task that day was keeping Erling Haaland quiet.

“Not many teams go to the Etihad and win — that was an unbelievable day,” he says. “Tactically every man played their role perfectly. We stuck to our game plan and it worked. Everyone knows what he’s [Haaland] capable of. It’s just about making sure he doesn’t do it against you.”

Besides beating City, Brentford have also held Chelsea and Arsenal to draws, beaten Liverpool, and thrashed Manchester United 4-0.

“They weren’t smash-and-grabs,” says Pinnock. “We start games really quickly and get on top of teams. When you can limit what they do, it opens up. Thomas Frank likes to say ‘confident but humble,’ and I think that really is telling of our mindset.”

Leader: Pinnock credits head coach Thomas Frank as the main reason for the Bees’ success

/ Getty Images

The head coach has been a revelation since switching an assistant role for the main gig in 2018.

“A lot of the success is down to Thomas Frank,” says Pinnock. “He’s approachable, and players feel comfortable around him. He’s never too high or too low, and that rubs off on us.

“He coaches the older players the same as the younger players. Everyone else has taken to him as well. In a couple of interviews, he swears sometimes. With the passion, he sometimes forgets he’s live on air.”

Brentford need that passion to take their season to even greater heights.

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