Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Thomas Frank: “We don’t think taking the knee has had a big enough effect”

Posted on 20 February 2021 by Tadhg Creedon
Ivan Toney celebrating after scoring against Bristol City at the Brentford Community Stadium on January 13th, 2021 (Souce: Getty Images)

Brentford manager Thomas Frank was fully supportive of his top scorer Ivan Toney after his comments yesterday to Sky Sports. In explaining his club’s decision to stop taking the knee before games, Toney said he believed players were being used as puppets, allowing those at the top to rest on the subject and that nothing had changed as a result. Frank seconded Toney’s concerns by saying:

“We don’t think taking the knee has had a big enough effect. We can actually also say that by just deciding not to take the knee anymore, I think we have put even more focus on Black Lives Matter and diversity, instead of just turning on your telly and seeing the first ten seconds before a game.”

The Dane also spoke of the racial abuse Toney has received throughout his career and how the club as a whole has rallied behind him.

“Of course if hurts me every single time when one of my players gets racially abused or discriminated [against] because I care, we care about the individuals in our club. Speaking about Ivan: I just really can’t get my head around racism,” he said.

Frank added: “It’s up to me to speak to him as a manager but more importantly as just a person. The most important thing is that I support him and the club support him and he knows that.”

Getting back on track

Frank was talking ahead of Brentford’s trip this afternoon to Coventry City and his side are hoping to avoid their third Championship defeat in succession. While the Bees remain second, a point ahead of Swansea, who have two games-in-hand; their hosts are just three points above the relegation zone with just one win in their last seven games.

When the sides last met in October, it was a brace from the aforementioned Toney that handed three points to the Bees. As for tomorrow’s challenge, Frank said: “Every game is a different task, with a different style of play we need to handle and different mentality.”

He added that he agreed with Coventry boss Mark Robins’ assessment that Coventry would need to make a fast start while his own side would be looking to bounce back. “Maybe it will just be a big clash and then see who stands at the end of the game,” he concluded.

The Bees’ defence has not been standing up to scrutiny in recent weeks, however. They have conceded ten in their last six games and are without a clean sheet in their last eight league games. When asked how his side can improve on these alarming statistics, Frank responded:

“With these expected goals against we’re still the best team in the league which is a big thing.

“But you must also look at the actual goals, and some of it is down to small margins but also some of it is down to individual mistakes.

“A lot of the goals we have conceded recently: at least six or seven were avoidable.”

Embed from Getty Images

Back to basics

With tomorrow’s game at St Andrews Trillion Trophy Stadium being their eighth league game in 25 days, fatigue may be beginning to take its toll on the Brentford squad. In order to prevent a more damaging slump in form and reestablish the mentality of their 21-game unbeaten run, Frank asserted that:

“We need to be aware of the basics, be aware of the main principles. The main thing we talk about is that we must keep having that attitude where we are confident but humble for the next game.

“We must keep putting in the hard work and when you put that all together, we will get a performance.”

Josh Da Silva in action vs. Hull City at the KCOM Stadium in Hull on February 1st 2020 (Source: Getty Images)

“Remarkable” Dasilva

Former Arsenal man Josh Dasilva has played an integral role in the Bees promotion push this season. The 22-year-old, who is now in his third season with the club and played his 100th game for Brentford against QPR, bagged two goals in his side’s recent victory over Reading. Speaking on Dasilva’s progression, Frank remarked:

“Josh is a very good example of what we like to do here at Brentford. We try to recruit very talented and promising young players from different clubs. And you know the way we do it here with our development plans.

“We try to bring players to the next level and he’s been remarkable in that aspect, just putting layers and layers to his game.”

Dasilva and his teammates will need to be at the top of their game if they are to halt their recent dip in form. The good news for Brentford though is that they seem to do their best work away from home, with the QPR defeat their first on the road since October. They may have met only six times in the last 58 years, but the Bees are unbeaten against the Sky Blues since 1963.

The game kicks off at 12.30 this afternoon live on Sky Sports as Brentford look to resume winning ways.