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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 11:09 GMT
Brentford emerge from shadows
Brentford are well placed for promotion to Division One
Ivar Ingimarsson has been capped by Iceland
BBC Sport Online's John Sinnott

For longer than Brentford fans would probably care to admit, their club has lived in the shadow of their west London neighbours; Chelsea, Fulham and QPR.

But perhaps not for much longer.

Steve Coppell's side have made an excellent start to the season and now lie third in Division Two, one point behind leaders Brighton but with a game in hand.

From what I've seen of Division One we could cope
Brentford defender Ivar Ingimarsson

Brentford's promotion challenge has also seen Steve Coppell's side enjoy their best-ever start to a campaign.

It is a start that has included seven straight wins - a sequence last repeated in 1932.

This promising opening has much to do with arrival of Coppell in the close season, according to Bees' Icelandic defender Ivar Ingimarsson.

"Steve Coppell brought with him a lot of experience from his career both as a player and a manager," says the central defender, who arrived at Griffin Park two years ago.

"He was a successful manager at Crystal Palace and he has given the side a lot of belief.

"I have been impressed by his overall approach.

"He doesn't throw things at the wall, though of course, sometimes he raises his voice.

"But on the whole everything is done in a calm manner.

"We all know the way that he wants us to play and all the team believe in what he wants."

Thinking coach

From the start of his reign Coppell has encouraged his team to play constructive football.

"He asked us to pass the ball, to have confidence to express ourselves and not to be afraid of making mistakes," says the Icelandic international.

Steve Coppell is again working with Ron Noades
Coppell is known as one of the game's thinkers

"That applied to defenders as well - that we don't have to kick the ball into touch."

Of course, Coppell has long been regarded as one of the game's thinkers.

And Ingimarsson says that thinking approach can be seen in the way Coppell prepares his team.

Training at the start of the week is now held twice a day, before and after lunch.

Coppell also makes sure that the Brentford players know what to expect from the opposition.

"We play a 4-4-2 system, though on the training ground we've worked on other systems.

"That has given us stability, but if necessary we can switch to another formation.

"He looks at tapes of the opposition and he tells us what kinds of defenders and attackers we can expect to face."

The Brentford manager has also tried to instil Premiership standards at the Second Division club.

Coppell has brought in the Italian Roberto Forzoni, who acts as a fitness coach, dietician and psychologist to the players.

"Forzoni points out what we should and should not eat," says Ingimarsson.

"He also talks regularly to the players at the training ground.

"The mental side is very important in football.

Ingimarsson joined Brentford from Torquay
Ingimarsson enjoys London's Icelandic festival

"When I was playing in Iceland for IBV Vestmannaeyjar we had a sport psychologist working with us and that year we won the double.

"The next year the psychologist went over to another team and they won the title that year.

"There can no be question that it can make a difference."

Poor relation

The changes Coppell has made has encouraged each and every player to raise their own standard within a team ethic says Ingimarsson.

"That is one of our strengths in that the team is the most important thing.

"Coppell has pointed that out very strongly.

"We have to play as a team. It's the team that wins the game, not any individual."

Ingimarsson acknowledges that Fulham and Chelsea are way ahead of the Bees when it comes to financial resources.

But the defender thinks that west London's poorer relation can not only win promotion this season, but also survive in Division One.

"After 19 games we are in the top three of this division.

"It's looking very good. There are a lot of good games ahead. You need a little luck, but we're enjoying ourselves.

"From what I've seen of Division One we could cope. We played Norwich earlier in the season and we beat them.

"This team is full of young players who will just get better so if we go up we shouldn't worry."

Links to more Brentford stories are at the foot of the page.


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