Brentford’s bid for Europe offers latest giant leap in Ethan Pinnock’s remarkable rise
rentford dreams of playing in Europe next season, but Ethan Pinnock allows himself to dream even bigger.
The 29-year-old central defender started at non-league Dulwich Hamlet. From there to the Premier League high-flyers, Brentford might be quite a meteoric rise for some, but the next World Cup is three years away and Pinnock wants to be there.
Hosts Canada, Mexico and the United States qualify automatically, freeing up to five other nations from the CONCACAF region to qualify. Pinnock plays for Jamaica, who have a very good chance of reaching their first World Cup since 1998.
“That’s the goal – the extra spaces give that extra incentive,” Pinnock told Standard Sport. “I have good confidence that we can do it. It would be a great achievement for me and my family.
“We have a few Premier League players at the moment – Michail Antonino, Bobby De Cordova-Reid, Leon Bailey, me – and a lot of players in the Championship and more in the United States. We have the ingredients. What we are trying to establish is this continuity of teams and players, to put the pieces together.
Brentford signed Pinnock in the summer of 2019 and at the end of his second season the Bees were promoted to the Premier League. Now they are eighth with 11 games to go in their second top-flight season, with European football more than a whisper in the wind.
“At the time of signing, if you told me this is the position we would be in now, I would bite your hand. Everyone involved at the club has worked very hard and it is well deserved. as the season progressed, we really started to settle into our roles.
“We know that if things continue it’s a possibility,” he says of securing European football. “We focus on the process, not the result. By the end of the season, we’ll see where we end up.
Brentford recently enjoyed a 12-game unbeaten streak in the league, which included a famous 2-1 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad. Pinnock’s menial task was to keep Erling Haaland quiet. It couldn’t have gone better.
“Not many teams go to the Etihad and win – it was an incredible day. Tactically every man played his part perfectly that day. We stuck to our game plan and it worked. Everyone knows what he (Haaland) is capable of. It’s just to make sure he doesn’t do it against you.
As well as beating City, Brentford also held Chelsea and Arsenal to a draw and saw off Liverpool. And at the start of Erik Ten Hag’s reign at Manchester United, Brentford beat them 4-0.
“They weren’t smash-and-grabs,” insists Pinnock. “We start games very quickly and get to the top of the teams. When you can limit what they do, it opens up. Thomas Frank likes to say ‘confident but humble’, and I think that says a lot about our mindset. »
Pinnock missed the first two months of the season through injury, but has played the full 90 games in every game since his return, keeping seven clean sheets. At the other end of the field, much of Brentford’s success has been thanks to goals from Ivan Toney, on the road to England this month.
“He’s a great striker who is really confident in his abilities. It shows in the way he takes his penalties. When something works, you always see more players start trying it. If you wait, he’s hard to get to the ball. If you’re guessing, he’s trying to see where you’re going. That’s a bit of a Catch-22 for a keeper.
“When the ball is his you know the defenders are going to have a tough game against him. He’s a smart player, and he gets his reward. But in small-scale matches, I defend myself against him!
Pinnock and Toney will no doubt look back fondly on their career trajectories, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Brentford player who hasn’t improved under manager Frank.
“Much of the success is due to Thomas Frank,” smiles Pinnock. “He is accessible and the players feel comfortable with him. It’s never too high or too low, and that affects us as players. He trains older players in the same way as younger ones. Everyone can always learn.
“Everyone has embraced him as well. In a few interviews he sometimes swears. With the passion he sometimes forgets he’s live.
In recent weeks, the likes of Chelsea and United have reportedly been on the hunt for Toney, while Frank’s name has been dragged into Tottenham’s managerial raffle. Pinnock, as always, remains unfazed by the possibility of leaving Brentford.
“If you see the results we’re getting, it’s natural. Unless you’re at one of the top five or six clubs in the world, players will always move on eventually if they’re doing well. I do not care.