Hermann Hreidarsson shares the record for the most relegations from the Premier League (five), so he knows a thing or two about the drop.
But the former Brentford defender does not expect his former side to flirt with the lower echelons of the league this season.
Speaking at the launch of Brentford’s partnership with UK cryptocurrency exchange CoinJar, the former left-back said that he thinks Brentford – and their style – will shock a few people this season.
“If you look at the team Brentford has and their style of play, I think they’ve got a lot of weapons in their armoury to take the league by storm,” the former Iceland international told City A.M.
Much of the attention will be on Brentford’s star striker Ivan Toney, who scored 31 league goals last season, including a penalty in the play-off final at the end of May.
Hreidarsson says he expects the likes of Toney and others to hit the ground running and sees no reason why they can’t exert their exciting style on the top division.
“They’ve got good weapons with them, they will score goals for sure,” he said.
Brentford are certainly what some people within football would call an “intelligent” club. They buy – and crucially – sell extremely well, with very few decisions taken at the top of the club being done on impulse or irrationality.
Their data-driven approach has led them to this point, and Hreidarsson believes there will be various clubs looking enviously at Brentford and their model.
Local rivals Fulham famously spent over £100m in the summer preceding the 18/19 Premier League season, none of the players clicked and Fulham were relegated.
Hreidarsson credits the Brentford owner Matthew Benham and their analytical wizard behind the scenes, Rasmus Ankersen, with leading the club down a sustainable and successful path.
“You know, Matthew Benham and Rasmus Ankersen behind the scenes, their data analytics and how they recruit players and nurture them to the top,” he says.
“They’ve been selling on [players in the summer] but now the players are in the promised land now so they don’t feel the pressure to leave the club. They want to be with Brentford, because they know it’s a great club and it’s a very stable club.”
Brentford have sold high-profile players for big money in the past two summers: perhaps most notably Ollie Watkins to Aston Villa and Said Benrahma to West Ham.
Both players departed at the end of the 2019/20 season, which saw Brentford lose out in the play-off final to Fulham. Between them, they had scored 42 goals in the Championship that season. One would be forgiven for thinking that Brentford would struggle having lost all those goals, but Hreidarsson credits the overall structure of the club in allowing them to bounce back.
“It’s shown through the years…it is working and it’s down to do a lot of homework, a lot of homework,” he says. “If you do your work that properly and that decisively and you got a great plan…Brentford was going to end up in the Premiership, and I’m so pleased because this is inspiring. So inspiring.”
The former Wimbledon man is bullish in his predictions for Brentford – he confidently says they will finish ninth – and it is easy to see why. They are a modern football club who have not spent millions to get where they are.
Is there anywhere they could improve on the eve the new season, anyone that the data scientists at Brentford should be looking at?
“I think they’re covered in sort of most areas [but] I think they need a tall left-back, around 47-years-old, just bring him back,” Hreidarsson says with a laugh.
Hermann Hreidarsson previewed the 2021 Premier League season with CoinJar, Brentford FC’s new Official Cryptocurrency Partner – the ultimate platform to buy, sell and spend Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Sign up in an instant and access digital currency wherever you go.