In Focus: Bees buzzing to get cracking in the Premier League

Tom Bodell
LiveScore
13/08/202108:00
Brentford boss Thomas Frank (centre) will need striker Ivan Toney (left) and midfielder Josh Dasilva (right) in top form this term
Brentford boss Thomas Frank (centre) will need striker Ivan Toney (left) and midfielder Josh Dasilva (right) in top form this term

Brentford owner Matthew Benham made his fortune through gambling — and the Bees will be looking to beat the odds by surviving in the Premier League.

The West Londoners were last in the old First Division in 1947 and have never played in the current incarnation of the top flight.

Just 12 months after losing the Championship play-off final to rivals Fulham, Thomas Frank’s side avenged that defeat by beating Swansea at Wembley.

Brentford have done things their own way since Benham’s takeover in 2012 — and here is what you can expect from one of the country’s smartest clubs in 2021-22. 

Betting background

If Brentford’s rags-to-riches tale is not impressive enough, Benham’s own rise is something else.

A physics graduate from the University of Oxford, he worked in finance and was vice-president at Bank of America until 2001.

After leaving the world of finance, Benham moved into sports gambling and worked in developing predictive gambling models based on analytics under Tony Bloom, Brighton's owner.

It was not until 2011 that Benham first became involved in boyhood club Brentford, loaning the Bees £1million a year over three years before buying a majority stake in 2012.

Smarter scouting

Ollie Watkins scored 14 times in the Premier League after joining Aston Villa from Brentford for £28million
Ollie Watkins scored 14 times in the Premier League after joining Aston Villa from Brentford for £28million

Leaning on his background in statistical modelling, Benham has helped the Bees beat the house by using analytics to recruit from undervalued markets.

Few clubs in England have turned such impressive profits on players in recent years.

Ollie Watkins cost just £1.8million from Exeter City in 2017. Four years later he is an England international who set Aston Villa back £28m, which will rise to £33m with add-ons.

Said Benrahma also left last summer, swapping West London for West Ham in a £25m deal. The Algerian cost the princely sum of £2.7m from Nice in 2018.

Most other clubs would consider losing two of their most important players in the same summer a disaster — even after pocketing more than £50m.

At Brentford, it is part of the process.

The Bees have a host of success stories and have been more than justified in ditching their academy to focus on a more continental model.

Picking young players up from Scandinavia, thanks in part to Benham’s ownership of FC Midtjylland, has been a constant theme.

Goals galore

Ivan Toney scored a record 31 Championship goals en route to promotion last season
Ivan Toney scored a record 31 Championship goals en route to promotion last season

The next Brentford success story is bound to be £10m club-record signing Ivan Toney.

Signed from League One Peterborough last summer, the former Newcastle youngster had never played in the Championship before.

But Toney, 25, took to the second tier with ease and ran in a record 31 goals to fire the Bees into the Premier League.

Bringing Toney to Brentford was all part of the succession plan for Watkins’ inevitable exit, as co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen explained.

He said: "We decided to buy Ivan very early because we knew we were going to sell Watkins and we preferred to sign a replacement before we sold him.

"That was so we wouldn't get into a situation — with 14 days left of the window — where everyone knew we had got big money.”

Danish dynamite

Thomas Frank arrived at Brentford in December 2016 as one of Dean Smith's assistant coaches
Thomas Frank arrived at Brentford in December 2016 as one of Dean Smith's assistant coaches

Piecing everything together on the field is Danish boss Thomas Frank.

A former youth coach for Denmark’s national team and manager of Brondby between 2013 and 2016, Frank was brought to Griffin Park as Dean Smith’s assistant.

The 47-year-old tactician also worked as a bridge between the first and B teams to ensure a pathway between the two, with Welsh international Chris Mepham the most high-profile success.

Promoted to the top job in 2018 after Smith left for Villa, he has proven to be tactically astute, switching between a back three and four with ease, putting an emphasis on a high line and intense style.

Cleaning up

Brentford were one of the Championship's most entertaining sides as they won promotion via the play-offs
Brentford were one of the Championship's most entertaining sides as they won promotion via the play-offs

The Bees kick off their Premier League adventure as the favourites for an immediate return to the Championship — but do not be fooled.

They have recruited smartly again this summer, picking up impressive former Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer, Nigerian midfielder Frank Onyeka from sister club Midtjylland and Lorient winger Yoane Wissa.

Over the past decade, Brentford have grown used to blazing a trail — now they are putting everything on red in their bid to survive.

Tags

Premier LeagueBrentford

Related Articles

LiveScore logo

LiveScore: Live Sport Updates

Football Scores & Sports News

ls-logo-roundedGet instant notifications with the LiveScore app
app-storegoogle-play
cristianoLaLiga