Fulham full back Cyrus Christie confirmed that Brentford’s trash talking in the build up to the play-off final served as extra motivation for the Whites at Wembley.
The Republic of Ireland international came off the bench as Scott Parker’s side beat their local rivals 2-1 earlier this month to clinch an instant return to the top flight and Christie contrasted Brentford’s confidence with his side’s more measured approach ahead of the game. Speaking to the On The Ball podcast earlier this week, the 27 year-old gave credit to his manager, both for setting the tone ahead of the big game and for devising a game plan that outwitted Thomas Frank after Brentford had won both league clashes during the regular season.
Christie revealed that his team-mates took inspiration from the Netflix documentary The Last Dance, which chronicled Michael Jordan’s career with the Chicago Bulls, with a behind the scenes look at the basketball legend’s final season with the franchise.
Building up a lot of us were watching The Last Dance and playing clips, and for our manager that was something he could relate to in terms of the psychological aspect. We were quiet, we were humble, and I believe Brentford did a lot of talking in the press leading up to the game. I think that kind of gave us the extra edge as well, we used that as added motivation, not that we actually needed any.
The suggestion from Brentford midfielder Emiliano Marcondes that Fulham might ‘fear’ his side having lost the two local derbies that had taken place during the regular season was eagerly seized upon by the Fulham squad.
For us it was added motivation, we picked up on it straight away and other people were telling us about it. They obviously said that we would fear them because they had won the two previous games. We were confident and knew we had prepared properly and done the job right, and we knew the occasion was there for us. We’ve got big players that love big occasions, and we rose to that.
Christie also heaped praise on double goalscoring hero Joe Bryan:
Joe Bryan was the main man and the hero for that game which was fantastic for him, because he’s a wonderful player and he’s a fantastic guy. He’s properly come under a bit of criticism, a bit of stick, for probably no reason really at all. For him to take that moment, it was fantastic to see.
Anything can happen when it comes to the play-offs in a one-off game. They did a lot of talking, and it was added motivation for us. But at the end of the day we knew the biggest prize was on the line, and we knew we could go down in the history books at Fulham with another promotion.
The clock’s ticking by, and you’re thinking, when is this going to end? I believe we were the strongest team throughout in that game and I believe we played the best game, and I wouldn’t say they had many clear-cut chances really.