Frank backs Toney to match excellence of Ollie Watkins and gives fond appraisal of two years as boss
Thomas Frank is backing Ivan Toney to follow in the footsteps of Ollie Watkins after the striker took his tally to five goals in as any games.
The summer signing from Peterborough scored both goals in a solid 2-0 victory over Coventry City in the latest behind-closed-doors match at the Brentford Community Stadium.
He lunged to turn in a Bryan Mbeumo cross just after the break before heading home an Emiliano Marcondes cross aimed at the far post nine minutes later.
“He’s done well in this season, so far,” said the Brentford boss. I’m pleased with his performance.
“For me it’s so much more than the goals, which is of course maybe the most important part of being a striker. His link-up play, his persistence in the box and the pressing part are the three things we’ve been working on very, very hard and he’s progressing in those areas.
“It’s a big task [replacing Watkins]. I think Ollie played a top season last year and he’s continued in the Premier League. But the reason we decided to buy Ivan was because we believe in him, and we believe that he can be another top goalscorer in this division.
“We always remember that Ollie left us in at the top, top and also need to remember where he started, so I expect Ivan to develop, I wouldn’t say massively throughout the season because for me it’s not only the goals, for which I’m very pleased, but there’s other bits, not only to help the team but also for him to get the next level.”
Toney came off after taking a knock but Frank says there is every chance he will recover for the midweek trip to Sheffield Wednesday.
Talking of his decision to recall David Raya in goal, Frank said: “Last season, I think he showed he’s one of the top keepers in the division. It was down to an injury that he was out this season but I think when he was fit and ready and up to speed [he’d be the number one]. Luke Daniels has done very well for us but I think it was the right time to get David into the role.”
Frank can look back with great satisfaction on his two years at the club so far and said that apart from the August play-off final defeat to Fulham, it had been a dream appointment for him.
“I’m very privileged to be at an unbelievable club, in terms of how well run it is, the clear strategy, clear alignment from top to bottom,” he said. “You need togetherness through the club with the staff and the players and we work all in the same direction and we have big ambitions.
“It’s not often that you have that special feeling and I'm 100 per cent sure that when I look back at my football life – and hopefully there will be many, many years – I'm pretty sure that I’ll look back and think that was the best spell I had: not in terms of success but in terms of where you feel 100 per cent aligned with strategy and people moving in the same direction.”