Thomas Frank and Ivan Toney have Brentford fans singing about European football and the Bees believe they can hit those heights even if their star striker is banned
- Thomas Frank has Brentford fans believing they could make Europe this season
- The Bees are in eighth place after their 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday
- Ivan Toney scored his 13th goal of the campaign in the win over the Cherries
- Brentford believe they can carry on this form even with Toney facing
Pound for pound, name five managers across Europe better than Brentford’s Thomas Frank. Well done if you got to more than three.
In terms of club size, Brentford should be bottom half of the Championship or top end of League One. But, on the pitch, they ended Saturday night eighth in the Premier League, above big-spending Liverpool and Chelsea, who treat £100million like it is loose change.
The Dane often refers to Brentford’s small budget and fans embrace their underdog status too, with chants of ‘We’re just a bus stop in Hounslow’.
Thomas Frank has Brentford fans dreaming of European football after displays this season
Another song was heard at the Gtech Community Stadium on Saturday evening. ‘We’re all going on a European tour,’ they sang. It was a joke with a smidgen of genuine belief. Never say never, especially in this strange World Cup-impacted season.
Frank has earned his stripes every season at the club, taking them to the Premier League after 74 years out of the top flight and now setting the target of a top-half finish. But here comes a monumental task for Frank — can Brentford still hit the heights if Ivan Toney is banned for breaching betting rules?
The striker, who surpassed last season’s goal tally with his 13th of the season on Saturday, is yet to discover the exact repercussions of allegedly placing 262 bets. The FA’s punitive measures could see him banned for about six months.
Ivan Toney notched his 13th goal of the season in the Bees 2-0 win over Bournemouth
Toney has scored a staggering 31 per cent of Brentford’s Premier League goals since they were promoted and many of them have been match deciders. In converting his 21st penalty of 21 taken for the Bees, he tipped a tight contest his team’s way.
So take his talismanic traits out of the side and will they crash? Of course not. There is a lazy assumption that Brentford are a one-man band. They are not. They played Liverpool off the park a fortnight ago with Toney out injured.
Bryan Mbeumo is vastly under-rated, while Ben Mee has been one of the Premier League’s best defenders of late, while their midfield trio complement each other perfectly.
‘There is an opportunity to finish higher up,’ said Mee, the former Burnley man. ‘Teams are faltering and we need to take advantage of that. We can be one of the teams who do.
Ben Mee is leads the way for Brentford as they sit in eighth place in the Premier League table
‘Ivan is a big part of the dressing room, he’s a big personality, a good solid lad.’
Brentford are a fine team with or without Toney, but this is not to say they will not miss him.
Kevin Schade has been signed on loan from Freiburg as an extra attacking option, but Frank feels he is not ready to start league matches yet.
Keane Lewis-Potter and Mikkel Damsgaard have struggled for consistent minutes since summer switches from Hull and Sampdoria respectively and there is a feeling the pair will need to shoulder more responsibility.
Frank’s work is outstanding in a field of elite coaches in England, but any upcoming Toney conundrum will define Brentford’s season and any hopes of a ‘European tour’.
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