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Thomas Frank highlights Brentford’s ‘remarkable story’ as Premier League beckons

Brentford v Swansea City – Sky Bet Championship – Playoff – Final – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank hopes people will see the bigger picture as the club look to continue a journey of enlightenment and punch above their weight in the Premier League.

The Bees host Arsenal on Friday night back in the top flight for the first time since the 1946/47 campaign.

Under the ownership of Matthew Benham it has been some journey for the west London club, who finished third last season in the Sky Bet Championship and went on to win the play-off final at Wembley.

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In 2016, Brentford made the difficult decision to close the academy, opting instead to run a ‘B’ squad of players aged 17-21 and produce a group aimed to act as a direct feeder into the first team.

While the ‘Moneyball’ recruitment approach might not be for everyone, it has seen the club gain major returns for taking a calculated risk on seemingly under-valued talent before developing them into prized assets to sell on for a tidy profit – such as with the likes of Ollie Watkins, Said Benrahma, Neal Maupay and Chris Mepham.

Frank, though, maintains things are much more complex than a simple gamble which paid off handsomely, and it is an approach which the club hope will see them able to hold their own among England’s elite once again after a 74-year absence.

“Brentford is a remarkable story about strategy, enlightenment, but also being unbelievably brave,” Frank said.

“In the play-off final we had Mads Roerslev in our side, a player who couldn’t get into the team in the second best league in Denmark two years ago, so there are different pathways.

“There are, though, not many teams which take chances with their recruitment as we do, but of course it is not chance, like we just pick a random player.

Brentford defender Mads Roerslev

Danish defender Mads Roerslev has made the most of his opportunity with the Bees (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We work on that with data, with video scouting and analysing everything to make sure that they fit into our style of play and our specific criteria.

“It is more the bigger picture that people would look at us and say: ‘the way they do it is quite remarkable with less money than everyone in the Premier League and can still play an interesting and attractive brand of football and be forward thinking’, that is my hope.”

The spotlight will be on Bees talisman Ivan Toney, who finished last season with 31 goals in the Championship.

Frank maintains Brentford will tackle the Premier League on the front foot.

“Of course we are all learning along the way, but our big aim is to attack in the Premier League and I don’t see why we could not,” the Danish coach said.

Brentford’s Ivan Toney celebrates scoring

Ivan Toney’s goals helped fire Brentford into the Premier League (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I only say, though, for as many minutes as possible because even in the Championship you cannot attack for 90 minutes, you need to defend for several minutes depending on the opponent, but we will try to attack as much as possible against Arsenal.

“If you want to achieve something, you need to be positive. You cannot defend and then try to achieve something.

“Of course I am aware that we need to do both very well because if you don’t defend very well then you don’t have a chance to also attack, so we will attack.”

Frank added: “We are very aware we are facing world-class players but we need to believe because that is half the way to the victory.

“It is easy to believe before the game, but it is also during the game in the tough spells where we need to keep believing, keep doing the right things, keep staying in there. That is where you really show that top attitude.”