Dean Smith doesn’t think Brentford did themselves justice when they visited St James Park.
It was a comfortable 3-1 win that day but with only one defeat in their last seven matches (all competitions), the Brentford boss thinks his team are ‘in a good place at the moment’.
Having won at Brighton and beaten third place Reading at home, Brentford are no push overs, though it is in the balance whether star striker Scott Hogan lines up against Newcastle.
He has scored 14 of their 32 goals this season in the Championship and West Ham have now put in three offers, with the latest reported to be £12.5m.
Dean Smith declares that it is ‘admirable’ what Rafa Benitez has done at St James Park but sees it as simply a great opportunity for Brentford to face a ‘club of Newcastle’s size and stature’.
“It (playing Newcastle) is a great challenge. I didn’t think we played that well when we went to Newcastle United which was a disappointment. It is a game for us now to test our wits.
“We have hit a recent bit of form: I know it was non-league opposition (5-1 v Eastleigh) but we played well and were clinical and we beat Birmingham City quite comfortably the week before. We feel that we are in a good place at the moment and the players are looking forward to the game. There is a lot more confidence in what we are doing and how we are doing it.
“The players look confident in executing plans and they look confident in the system that we are playing. They have a great belief in what they are doing now.
“It is a great opportunity for us because it might be a little bit different for a club of Newcastle’s size and stature to come to Griffin Park. What Rafa Benitez has done with Newcastle in the Championship has been admirable.
“Everybody can point out the quality of their players and the funds and support that they have got but they still need to go and do it right.
“My first reaction to the (FA Cup fourth round) draw (home v Chelsea) was oh-no but then you think about it and it is quite interesting, It is the toughest draw that you can get, away from home against the current leaders of the league in the land. It is only down the road from us and we are both playing well.
“There is no thought of it at all at the moment as we have a massive game against Newcastle United.
“For us to be hosting a club like Newcastle United, then Aston Villa in a couple of weeks’ time, shows how far we have come as a football club. We feel that we are competitive in this league and we are looking forward to it.
“We want to show people what we are about and do that against Newcastle.”