One point behind league-leaders Norwich City, the most goals scored in the division and a prolific striker who has already found the net 22 times this campaign. Currently on a 20-game unbeaten run, Brentford are on somewhat of a roll in the Sky Bet Championship and Thomas Frank's side show no signs of slowing down, as they look to secure promotion to the Premier League this season.
“For me, Brentford are the best team in the division and one of my favourite teams to watch,” said Sky Sports pundit, Don Goodman, speaking to the EFL.
“I’m not just jumping on the bandwagon, I’ve thought that for some time.”
History was made earlier this season, as the Bees reached the Carabao Cup Semi-Finals for the first time - a competition in which they had never previously passed Round Four, and that form has been replicated in the league, as the second piece of club history was made with their 4-1 win over Middlesbrough last weekend.
Victory over Neil Warnock’s side saw Brentford's unbeaten run in the Championship stretch to 20 games, the club’s longest-ever sequence without defeat.
In those 20 games, Frank’s side have won 12 and drawn eight, scoring 40 goals and conceding just 17 in the process, making them the highest scorers in the division with 52 in total.
“I don’t think anybody could have predicted how well they’d bounce back from last season,” Goodman continued.
“I think we could have predicted that they may be in the top six and maybe be in with a chance of the top two, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted that they wouldn’t miss players like Said Benrahma and Ollie Watkins, who were so key to them last season. It’s really quite remarkable.”
It wasn’t the easiest of starts to the 2020/21 campaign for the Bees, either. Having lost out at Wembley in the Play-Off Final last season, Brentford said farewell to Griffin Park - their home for more than 100 years - and made the move to the Brentford Community Stadium.
Said Benrahma and Ollie Watkins also departed for the Premier League, taking their combined 42 league goals from 2019/20 with them and many wondered if Thomas Frank’s side would be able to replicate the form that took them to Wembley last season.
“The most impressive thing for me, is not only did they lose Watkins and Benrahma, but they won eight games in a row at the end of last season to give them a chance at automatic promotion. They then blew it in the final two games and had to try through the Play-Offs. They picked themselves up to overcome Swansea City in the Play-Offs and then didn’t turn up at Wembley in the Final against Fulham.
“That wasn’t the Brentford that I’ve known over the past two or three seasons. To lose how they did, have just a week or two off before being back in for the new season, not have the time to get over it and put it behind them, makes this season even more impressive for me.
“I’ve won one Play-Off Final, but I’ve lost two and it’s really hard to get over at the start of the following season, so when you throw all that into the mix with Brentford, I think Thomas Frank has just done a remarkable job and on the very slight chance that Brentford don’t get promoted this year, I think he’ll be a manager in the Premier League next year, I think he’s brilliant.
“There were signs of a very small hangover from last season, because they’ve only lost three games all season and they all came at the start of the season, but they’re now on a 20-game unbeaten run and there’s no doubt that that hangover has gone.”
Following the sale of Benrahma and Watkins, in came Ivan Toney from Peterborough United, and with 22 goals in 27 games the striker has made the step up to the Championship with ease.
“For Ivan Toney to have 22 goals in 27 appearances is scarily good form,” Goodman said.
“If you were to ask Ivan Toney if it was going as well in the Championship as he thought it would, I’m sure he’d tell you that it’s going better. I think we’d all acknowledge that.
“I also think it’s important to acknowledge that he has come into the perfect team for him. It’s a team that he knew would give him chances and he’s taken those chances, so his team-mates deserve a lot of credit as well, as he would give them credit, I’m sure.
“Sergi Canos has made the sale of Benrahma easier to bare, they’ve kept Bryan Mbeumo, Tariqe Fosu is coming into his own after a settling in period from League One - he’s now looking like a proper Championship player, and people are really stepping up so I’m really impressed with them.”
Goodman also stated the importance of players picking the “right” club for them when it comes to transfers, and there’s no doubt that Toney has done exactly that.
“It’s important to think before you move as a player and to think about whether that club is the right fit for you in terms of the football suiting your style of play.
“In Ivan Toney’s case, the answer is an emphatic yes, but there are so many examples where the answer is an emphatic no. But for me, Toney has chosen and opted to go to the perfect team to get the best out of him as a player.”
With 22 goals already, Toney is on course to surpass Watkins’ 25 league goals last season, as he looks to fire Brentford to the Premier League. With his stats, coinciding with the Bees’ impressive 20-game unbeaten run, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s only a matter of time before Thomas Frank’s side reach the top flight.
“I knew he was good, there was never any doubt about that,” Goodman continued.
“I thought he might score 20 goals across the course of the season, but it looks like he might score 30 the way he’s going and all credit to him.
“As you can tell by my enthusiasm, Brentford are one of my favourite teams to watch, there’s a lot to like about them.”
"He's come into the perfect team."— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) February 8, 2021
Championship football? No problem for @ivantoney24 🔥
22 goals and counting for the @BrentfordFC man!#EFL | #SkyBetChampionship pic.twitter.com/X55dxTAX1Q