For years, Brentford had been on the cusp of securing Premier League football. However, the Bees had also long fallen short at the final hurdle, last playing in the top tier back in the 1946-47 season. It’s been a roller-coaster journey for the Brentford faithful, who watched their side lose the play-off final in 2019-20 against Fulham, as well as suffering disappointment in the 2014-15 playoffs. Under Thomas Frank, the London club have bounced back, earning their place in the Premier League via a play-off final victory over Swansea City. But can the Bees survive on their return to the top flight?
A Squad of International Calibre Players
It's no secret that Brentford adopts a Moneyball approach to transfer recruitment, using statistics to determine the best value-for-money talent on the market. Over the years, this has served the Bees well, and now their squad features an array of fully-fledged international players. Christian Norgaard and Mathias Jensen were taken away with the Danish national side at the 2020 European Championships, and Kasper Hjulmand’s team were 20/1 in betting on EURO 2020 with Paddy Power to surpass all expectations and win the competition on June 25th.
Jensen and Norgaard aren’t Brentford’s only representatives at the EURO 2020, with Pontus Jansson also featuring in the final 26-man Sweden squad. Other members of the Bees roster also have international experience, including Ethan Pinnock with Jamaica and Halil Dervisoglu with Turkey. This speaks volumes about Brentford’s ability to recruit high-quality players who can handle the pressure of playing for their countries on the global stage. In the Premier League, this experience of dealing with high-stakes matches will serve the Bees well.
In 2020-21, two of the newly-promoted sides from the 2019-20 season suffered relegation back to the Championship. Although there are no guarantees that Brentford will follow in Fulham or West Brom’s footsteps, their failure showcases the gulf in quality between the first and second tier. That said, Leeds stayed true to their attack-minded style and battled their way to a ninth-place finish. Similarly to the Whites, the Bees have a regular goal threat in Ivan Toney, much like Leeds had with Patrick Bamford. Although the Englishman is unproven in the Premier League, the record-breaking striker believes that he’ll only get better the bigger the stage becomes.
Toney scored 33 goals and assisted a further ten in 48 Championship matches last season, breaking Glenn Murray’s previous record of 30 goals back in 2012-13. With Bryan Mbeumo also spearheading the Bees’ attack, Brentford possess a mixture of pace and technical ability in the final third. This combination is a must-have as they seek to beat the drop. However, the London club will be without Emiliano Marcondes and Henrik Dalsgaard next season, who left the side following the expiration of their contracts.
What Can Brentford Achieve?
Premier League survival isn’t beyond the realms of possibility for Brentford in 2021-22, but neither is relegation. If Toney can make the transition and sustain his goalscoring form, there’s no reason that the Bees can’t steer clear of a relegation battle. However, that’s easier said than done, and it will take a collective effort from all involved to secure top-flight safety.