Brentford season preview: Ivan Toney to lead from the front for Premier League’s new entertainers

Brentford were in League Two in 2009 and their rise to the Premier League has been remarkable. Now they’re here, Thomas Frank’s side have no intention of simply making up the numbers

Jamie Braidwood
Tuesday 10 August 2021 08:27
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<p>Ivan Toney’s goals fired Brentford back into the play-off final, where they defeated Swansea to secure promotion</p>

Ivan Toney’s goals fired Brentford back into the play-off final, where they defeated Swansea to secure promotion

Last season

After missing out on automatic promotion to the Premier League on the final week of the season and then suffering play-off final heartbreak against Fulham in August 2020, many assumed Brentford had squandered their chance of making it to the big time the year before last. But an inauspicious start to the season was kick-started by the goals of Ivan Toney, as Brentford marched back to the play-off final in style. This time they took their opportunity, as they defeated Swansea at Wembley to secure promotion to the Premier League for the first time and cap a remarkable rise for the west London club.

Transfer window so far

After seeing Ollie Watkins, Said Benrahma and Neil Maupay all move on to Premier League clubs over the past couple of years, there would have been understandable anxiety around the future of Ivan Toney following his sparkling debut season in the Championship. But Brentford are a Premier League club now, and for the first time are more focused on bringing in big names rather than losing them. Centre-back Kristoffer Ajer has been signed from Celtic while midfielder Frank Onyeka arrives from FC Midtjylland.

Manager

Thomas Frank is set to be a welcome addition to the Premier League, due to both his style of play and his personality. The Danish coach is an engaging character who does not hide his emotions, while he will instruct his side to play on the front foot and adopt a bold, high-pressing strategy when out of possession. Frank’s rise to becoming a Premier League manager is almost as remarkable as Brentford’s journey to the top flight. The 47-year-old did not have a professional playing career and stumbled into coaching while studying for a master’s degree in psychology.

Key player

Ivan Toney had big shoes to fill when he arrived at Brentford in August 2020, tasked with replacing Ollie Watkins’s 26 Championship goals following the striker’s move to Aston Villa. The £6m signing from League One side Peterborough went on to smash all expectations, as well as the Championship goalscoring record, as he hit 31 goals and 45 games, as well as the opening goal in the play-off final. He will look to follow Watkins and Patrick Bamford’s lead in making the step up from the Championship. They scored 14 and 17 Premier League goals respectively last campaign.

What would be success?

For Brentford, success is simply making it to this stage. When plans for a new 17,250 capacity stadium were announced by the club several years ago, few fans would have dreamed that their first season attending matches at the ground would have been in the Premier League. Brentford are an ambitious club, however, and won’t be content with simply making up the numbers. For now, there can be no higher objective than securing another season in the top flight but as Leeds showed in the previous campaign, greater rewards are there for teams who are bold enough to take risks and play the right way. Brentford will back themselves to do just that.

Opening five fixtures

Arsenal (h) - Friday 13 August, 8pm

Crystal Palace (a) - Saturday 21 August, 3pm

Aston Villa (a) - Saturday 28 August, 3pm

Brighton (h) - Saturday 11 September, 3pm

Wolves (a) - Saturday 18 September, 12:30pm

Predicted first XI line-up

(3-5-2) David Raya; Kristoffer Ajer, Pontus Jansson, Ethan Pinnock; Sergi Canos, Vitaly Janelt, Christain Norgaard, Frank Onyeka, Rico Henry; Bryan Mbeumo, Ivan Toney

Bookies’ ranking

17th (1,000/1 for the title)

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