Brentford midfielder Sam Saunders has revealed the secrets behind the Bees’ recent excellent form – and it is not what you might think.
Uwe Rosler’s men are on a seven-match unbeaten run in League One and they are sitting pretty in the play-offs.
Moreover, Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat at Southend in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy is the Bees’ first defeat in any competition since the middle of October.
And while Saunders acknowledges that hard work on the training pitch played a major role, the 29-year-old says the bond of friendship within the club is equally as important.
“We have been together as a group for a couple of years now, so we have that bond together that comes through time,” he said.
“At some clubs, the guys meet for training at 11, go home at lunchtime and don’t see each other until the following morning. But we get together after training and we socialise together.
“Even the lads who have come in recently have bought into our philosophy that we’re not just about what happens on the pitch.”
Dressing room banter goes beyond encouraging your team-mates though, and you need to be careful not to fall victim to a prank.
Saunders said: “We love our pranks. We’ve had cars wrapped in cling-film, I’ve found all the laces from all my boots strung up around the dressing room and we’ve done the old classic of putting maggots in coat pockets. It is all taken in good spirits.”
Although the pranks appear juvenile, they are having a positive effect on the team in very tangible ways, Saunders said.
“On the pitch, we are always playing for each other. I think that’s why we have scored so many late equalisers or late winners. We never give up.
"And we have good players. I believe you find out who the good players are when the team is struggling, not when it is doing well, and a lot of us have been together through the tough times.”
And with promotion to the Championship being the ultimate goal, Saunders knows more than most just how effective team spirit can be.
He said: “Harlee Dean and I were at Dagenham & Redbridge when they were promoted, and there was great team spirit there. It is no coincidence."
Brentford host MK Dons this weekend in League One, before going to Notts County in a fortnight’s time.
The Bees then host Bradford in the FA Cup second round replay, following last Friday’s 1-1 draw.