Brentford star Vitaly Janelt has admitted ‘hardly anyone’ would have expected them to stay in the Premier League this season.
Brentford were promoted back to the top flight last season after battling through the playoffs and beating Swansea in the final.
Many expected life to be tough for them, as it is for all promoted sides, but that has not proven to be the case.
A flying start to the campaign and several top performances were followed by a tough spell in the middle of the campaign, but they have bounced back in the final third. That’s seen them rocket up the table, and they could finish in the top ten if results go their way.
That would be a superb achievement for Thomas Frank, and Janelt admits nobody saw it coming.
“Hardly anyone would have expected it. It’s amazing how it turned out,” he told Sport Buzzer.
“The hard work has paid off, for me personally and for us as a team. We started the season very well. People thought: Awesome, Brentford is playing for Europe. But at some point, we realised: Welcome to the Premier League! It won’t be that easy.
“We are an extremely tight-knit group, even when things don’t go well. Personally, I’ve improved again this season.
“I played a bit further up, on the eight, not on the six like last season. With my discipline, my power and my deep runs, I was able to contribute my part to the success.
“I would like to improve a few points, from a 7.5 to 8.5 or 9. If I score four goals again in the new season and add a few more assists, that would be good.
“We want to be as high up in the table as possible. But one thing is also clear: in our second season in the Premier League, staying up in the league is the be-all and end-all. Everything else is a bonus.”
Like several Brentford stars, Janelt’s performances have not gone unnoticed this season, and there had been talk of a potential move away this summer as a result.
That was swiftly put to bed when he signed a new contract at the beginning of April, extending his deal in London to June 2026. That leaves him to focus on helping the Bees maintain their Premier League status next season and making the improvements he is looking for.
It also means he can focus on trying to secure a place in Germany’s squad for the World Cup in Qatar, something he admits is in his plans.
“You can never rule anything out in football, but the Premier League is the ultimate for me,” he added.
“I’m not planning to leave here at the moment. We had started talks about a new contract back in January, and I was pretty sure from the start that I would extend it.
“I assume that the national coach has me on the screen. If the chance arises at some point, I’m, of course, ready.
“But I’m not someone who worries about the national team all the time. My goal for the coming years is to play in the Premier League and keep improving. I just want to do my thing.
“Naturally. There is nothing bigger for a footballer than a World Cup. But a lot can still happen before then – positively and negatively. My job is simply to make the selection as difficult as possible for the national coach.”