Frank thrilled by top gun Toney ahead of Brentford's play-off preparations
Happy Brentford boss Thomas Frank paid tribute to in-demand Ivan Toney who helped himself to a landmark 30 goals in the Championship during a 2-0 win over promoted Watford.
Toney, the Bees’ record signing, is only the second player to earn the accolade in the division since Glenn Murray in 2012-13 for Crystal Palace. The victory now confirms Brentford in third spot in the table as they look forward to another attempt to prevail via the playoffs.
Striker Toney may well end up plying his trade elsewhere, irrespective of whether the west London side earn themselves Premier League status next season or not, but his penalty – a ninth of the campaign – on the hour sealed matters, as well as the ominous likelihood of attracting more suitors.
Psychologically, this was important for the Bees, with Watford, perhaps unsurprisingly, not quite meeting the levels that have already earned them automatic promotion. Isaac Success struck the bar in the second half for the Hornets, but the buzz, for the most part, was the preserve of the hungry hosts.
“It is a massive achievement,” said Frank on his chief marksman.
“It is incredible and the story of him making his debut as an 18 year old with Newcastle in the Premier League and then taking a different route to the top, through League One. I wanted Ivan to be the top scorer and, on top of that his amount of assists, ten or 11, is incredible. And you can see how the team celebrates with him, when some top players can be too individualistic.
“There is more to come from him – 100%. He will be a Premier League player and the plan is that it will be with us. In the Premier League it goes quicker in the crucial moments but he sees the game so quick and that is important if you want to play at the highest level.
"I am confident that we can keep him if we go up. If we don’t make it he is going to be very expensive as there are only around eight clubs in the world who are not selling clubs.”
The Bees go to Bristol City for their final game of the season next Saturday – and Frank maintains that momentum ahead of the playoffs is of primary importance. Brentford, of course, hope they can go one better than last time, when they lost the final to Fulham.
“It’s important to finish as high as possible,” he explained.
“I like to keep ‘flow’ so I will not make many changes for the visit to Bristol (City). We are top scorers in the league and have more points than last season. We need to look at the performances and what we have done. All four teams in the playoffs have that ambition (for promotion). We were very impressive and always playing forward.
“We coped really well in the playoffs last year. We had two good opportunities to go up automatically and missed them. Of course we have that experience now and we hope we have that extra when it comes to it.”
Watford head coach, Xisco, meanwhile, was keen to pay tribute overall to his team’s promotion success, despite the defeat in west London.
He said: “It was difficult today and the intensity. We had a good attitude but had injuries against a very good team. We also had chances to score.
“The Championship is very hard – it is important to remember the players gave a very good level over the last few months. We need to learn and continue working. We didn’t play bad in the first half but it was hard to lose a goal a minute into the second half.”
“I cannot fault the players over the last four months and they can celebrate. This (the Premier League) is my dream and the team have showed their passion. We are working hard for very good things next year and have a very good plan. Today I tried to play my best first eleven and they gave a very good level.”