Brentford secured promotion to the Premier League for the first time after Saturday’s 2-0 play-off final victory over Swansea.
Here, the PA news agency looks at what the Bees need to do to prepare for life in the top flight.
Ivan Toney’s record haul of 31 goals in the regular season – and two more in the play-offs – meant he was destined for the Premier League next season, with or without Brentford. The 25-year-old is on West Ham’s radar, but the Bees are now in a strong position to keep hold of their star man, unlike previous seasons when they lost the likes of Neal Maupay, Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma to the top flight. Left-back Rico Henry, linked with Southampton, is another boss Thomas Frank will desperately want to keep.
There is a feeling behind the scenes at Brentford that late-season injuries to Henry and powerhouse midfielder Josh Dasilva ultimately cost them automatic promotion. Captain Pontus Jansson and midfield pivot Christian Norgaard also missed large chunks of the campaign through injury. Keeping his main men fit will be crucial to Frank’s fortunes next term.
Keep crunching the numbers
Anyone expecting Brentford to splash the cash after their £160million windfall will be sorely disappointed. Under Matthew Benham’s ownership, Brentford have become a club synonymous with innovative thinking. The Bees have adopted a recruitment model which places its emphasis on statistical data, identifying undervalued players, often in unfashionable leagues across Europe, and improving them. The Premier League offers a different challenge off the field as well as on it, but their run to the Carabao Cup semi-final showed this squad can already handle themselves among the elite.
If Frank wants to strengthen anywhere then centre-half might be the position. Ethan Pinnock looks ready-made for the Premier League but Jansson’s injury issues means defensive reinforcements may be on the cards. Some back-up for Toney in attack would also be prudent.
Be Leeds, not Fulham
Brentford topped the goalscoring charts two seasons running with their possession-based, attacking style of play. It will be fascinating to see whether such tactics hold up in the top flight, or whether Frank will take a more pragmatic approach. We have seen Leeds largely flourish by sticking to their guns upon promotion, while Fulham fell upon their own sword.
I thought we were in lockdown but there were lots of voices in the stadium, which I found quite bizarre.
While gaining plaudits for their football, Brentford have been guilty of winding up their opposition on occasions. Midfielder Emiliano Marcondes naively claimed Fulham feared them ahead of last year’s play-off final, which the Cottagers won. Brentford’s noisy off-field entourage during lockdown also irked a few clubs. But Frank was noticeably low-key during the build-up to this year’s final, instead opting to heap praise on Swansea and their manager Steve Cooper. Clearly a lesson has been learnt.
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