Brentford manager Thomas Frank commended Ivan Toney’s attitude ahead of tonight’s trip to Reading. A game that, should the Bees win, will propel them to the top of the Championship table.
The forward has been in prolific form and bagged his 21st and 22nd league goals of the season in the win over Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Toney, who signed from Peterborough United in the summer, became the third player in three seasons to surpass the 20-goal landmark for the Bees, a contribution Frank is delighted with.
He said: “He has been doing what I want. He has been leading the line, a good pressing player, growing more and more into one of the leaders in the squad and trains well, he has a top attitude.
“Plus, he is giving assists at crucial points, for example the header by Saman Ghoddos against Luton, a beautiful cross by Ivan. When we looked at him in the summer, we just saw he would fit the way we play.”
In the 2018/19 campaign Neil Maupay, now at Brighton, netted 25 times in the Championship with Ollie Watkins following this with 26 goals last season. Watkins left for Aston Villa in the summer, but Toney was recruited and has filled the void.
Having worked with all three in his time in west London, Frank sees similarities in all of them.
“The last three strikers we are privileged to have at Brentford. All three of them had a top mentality and work ethic and wanted to get better,” he said.
“It takes a lot of time to nail down a striker who suits our culture and then we still have to develop them but doing that for three consecutive seasons is remarkable,” he added.
Away from the field, Toney has been one of a number of footballers subjected to vile racist abuse online. While he expressed his disgust at such acts, Frank has been impressed with how the 24-year-old has dealt with this difficult situation.
He said: “Ivan has got a really strong personality, so he deals with that in a good way. It is important we as a club stood right behind him and did everything we could in our official channels.
“We highlight diversity as a massive thing, every kind of area where we are dividing people we need to do better. It is cowards on social media.”
Frank will be eager for Toney to deliver the goods for Brentford again on the pitch on Wednesday evening when the Bees travel to Berkshire to face promotion rivals Reading in what Frank believes will be a difficult test.
He said: “We are playing against a very good side. [Reading manager] Veljko Paunovic has done an amazing job. I think on their day their front four of [Ovie] Ejaria, [Michael] Olise, [Lucas] Joao and [John] Swift are among the best in this division.
“Joao, what a striker, very good to go in behind, physically strong, can finish outside the box and inside the box and Swift can dictate the game.”
Brentford are currently on a remarkable 20-game unbeaten run which has left them in second place in the table.
Although a win against fourth-placed Reading would send Brentford top, Frank is not getting carried away and stressed that he is focusing on one game at a time.
He said: “We know where would like to be at the end of season, it is just another game. You don’t win the Championship in February.”
While Brentford are in great form, they have kept just one clean sheet in their last ten games, which is a slight concern to Frank.
“It was too many chances against Middlesbrough. We need to get the clean sheets back on board and it fits perfectly into the game against Reading,” he said.
“We need to really step up defensively compared to the last games where we have been giving away too many soft goals away and we need to be on our absolute highest standards defensively as they are a good team.”
The game kicks off at 19:00 tonight and Brentford will be hoping to do the league double over their opponents to move to the summit of the table above Norwich City.