Brentford's plan for Premier League is to keep calm and carry on
After a 74-year absence, Brentford are FINALLY back in the big time… but boss Thomas Frank insists ambitious Bees will ‘be calm and stick to the strategy’ rather than splash the cash in the Premier League
- The Bees beat Swansea 2-0 in the Championship play-off final at the weekend
- Thomas Frank’s side made it to the top tier after losing at that stage last year
- Striker Ivan Toney has described his excitement at playing in the Premier League
- And the innovative West London side will stick by their methods next campaign
As champagne soaked into the Wembley turf, and the swarm inside the Brentford half began to dwindle, a member of the Bees’ backroom staff grabbed a bag of balls and set off along the byline.
Every few paces he chucked one towards the stragglers gathered behind the goal. Why not? They will not be much use anymore. Come pre-season, those EFL-branded balls will be replaced by a sparkling set carrying the Premier League logo.
The itinerary and coffers will look rather different thanks to this Championship play-off victory over Swansea, too. Beyond that, though, the message from Brentford is clear: we will not change.
Brentford were promoted after defeating Swansea 2-0 in the Championship play-off final
Manager Thomas Frank (top) has masterminded the club’s return to the English top-flight
After the game, manager Thomas Frank — drenched in beer and draped in a white towel — largely resisted looking beyond the next few hours and next few drinks.
But he did briefly allow his mind to wander towards the Premier League: ‘We will definitely be calm and stick to the strategy,’ he said.
After early goals from Ivan Toney and Emiliano Marcondes ended 74 years outside the top flight, Frank is determined Brentford will not become another ambitious club who lose their way in the haze of pound signs.
‘It’s going to be extremely important that we stick to that,’ Frank added. ‘And I’m not in doubt that we will.’
Frank was similarly bullish nine months ago, when he sat in the same chair following defeat by Fulham. Since then, they have refined their brave playing style but the foundations have stayed firm.
The roots of this promotion stretch back nearly a decade, to when boyhood fan Matthew Benham took over and implemented smart recruitment and his Smartodds statistics company. They were in League One then, even now they sit in midtable in the Championship money race.
No wonder midfielder Mathias Jensen insisted: ‘I don’t worry about the Premier League and I don’t fear anything. Of course I know it’s a different level — it’s the biggest league in the world and probably a lot of the best teams in the world.
‘But this club is capable of taking the next step right now. We’ll see how it goes but I’m quite comfortable. I think we can do very well like Leeds this season.’
Marcelo Bielsa’s side finished ninth following promotion in 2020. All without compromising on their fearless football.
‘They play a different kind of football but the way they played in the Championship and the way we play just shows that we’re capable of taking the next step,’ Jensen added. ‘Hopefully we can do very well in the Premier League as well. This is what we’ve been dreaming of for so long and working for.’
And Frank hopes Brentford’s own journey can inspire, too. ‘There should be a lot of other clubs out there dreaming,’ he said. ‘Everything is possible if, as we’ve said, you work hard, have a clear strategy, a top attitude and togetherness. Then anything is achievable in the world.’
Players like Ivan Toney (right) have already stated their excitement at playing in the highest tier
Brentford sold Said Benrahma (left) and Ollie Watkins (right) to Premier League clubs last year
You can forgive the fairytale thinking. Defender Ethan Pinnock was in non-league four years ago while the manager’s own journey is a lesson in perseverance, too.
‘I really walked the hard way — coaching since I was 20 from under-eights to now the Premier League,’ Frank said. ‘The only thing I hope is that it can inspire a lot of other coaches out there who dream about helping people to be better people and players.’
To think some Brentford fans were wary about ceding control to Benham when, in 2009, he offered a lifeline to a club facing a ‘bleak’ financial future. To think many of his innovative methods have since drawn derision. The pay-off? An increase in revenue of £178million by joining the big time.
But anyone looking to replicate their success must arm themselves with more than data analysis. Brentford rely on the nous to spot hidden gems on the scrapheap, the people to improve them in-house. And the bravery to sell when time and price align.
But they should be confident of keeping the current squad together and will stick to their ideas
B Team graduate Mads Roerslev (left) set up the second and epitomises the club’s approach
Last season’s failure cost them Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma. How vultures would have circled after a record 10th play-off failure. Instead, their chances of keeping Jensen, Toney, David Raya, Rico Henry, Bryan Mbeumo, even Frank, have never looked so healthy.
Perhaps some will still go but Brentford are certainly eyeing a few reinforcements. For now, though, time to celebrate — and remember. The club dedicated this victory to Robert Rowan, their former technical director who died in 2018 aged just 28.
He was a key architect of their pioneering B-team and, at Wembley, graduate Mads Roerslev created Marcondes’ second goal.
No wonder Brentford are not about to change for anyone. Or fear anything.
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