Thomas Frank labels Ivan Toney the 'best penalty-taker in the world'

‘He’s the best penalty taker in the world’: Thomas Frank lauds Brentford’s hat-trick hero Ivan Toney and urges Gareth Southgate to put his faith in the hitman after England’s Euro 2020 spot-kick heartbreak

  • Ivan Toney scored a superb hat-trick as Brentford beat Leeds 5-2 on Saturday
  • Thomas Frank believes the target forward is the ‘best penalty-taker in the world’
  • He has urged Gareth Southgate to consider the striker ahead of the World Cup
  • England suffered heartbreak on penalties against Italy in the final of Euro 2020

Usually, Premier League managers are coy when asked whether one of their players should be in the England squad, trotting out the old ‘I can’t pick Gareth Southgate’s team for him’ line.

Not Thomas Frank. Brentford’s boss is different and, after Ivan Toney’s hat-trick on Saturday, he did not hide behind any cliched answer. ‘I have said many times he is the best penalty taker in the world and hopefully I won’t get bored (of) saying it,’ Frank said of his 26-year-old striker.

‘England have been in a few penalty shootouts and if they want to win one, they need to pick Ivan.’

Ivan Toney netted a scintillating hat-trick as Brentford dispatched Leeds 5-2 on Saturday

Jesse Marsch was stroppy and Leeds were sloppy, but Toney was terrific and he can only be growing more prominent in Southgate’s thoughts.

Certainly England’s manager could do worse than call up the goalscorer for this month’s Nations League matches against Italy and Germany.

Should he pass any future auditions, Toney would not be the worst player to have for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, if only for his spot-kick skills.

He’s taken 18 and scored 18 for Brentford — with his technique of a short run-up and waiting for the goalkeeper to make the first move paying dividends.

But Toney is much more than a penalty merchant. His second strike here was a superb free-kick as he bent the ball around the wall and beat Leeds’ statuesque goalkeeper Illan Meslier.

His third strike to take home the match ball was the best of them all. When Meslier rushed out of his box to beat Keane Lewis-Potter to the ball, Toney collected his attempted clearance, breezed by the Leeds goalkeeper and, 25 yards out and with three defenders between him and goal, chipped into the net to confirm his hat-trick.

The Bees hitman opened the scoring for Brentford with a composed 30th-minute spot-kick

‘It’s a nightmare to play against him,’ Frank said, thinking back to when he signed him from Peterborough for £5million in 2020. ‘I remember I called him when I was in Copenhagen, standing outside my wife’s sister’s house.

‘I said, “Ivan, what are you in doubt of? With your quality and the way we play, and you will score a minimum 25 goals so either we go up and everyone is happy, or we will sell you”. Finally he found that was the best solution and it’s since been a very, very happy marriage.’

Only Mohamed Salah on 115 and Harry Kane on 113 have scored more goals in English football since August 2018 than Toney’s 101. Because of that record, his team-mates at Brentford are advocating for his selection by England boss Southgate.

Josh Dasilva said: ‘If England were 0-0 in a World Cup group match, I would be buzzing for him to come on off the bench. But it’s not me making the decisions!’

His Bees team-mate Bryan Mbeumo added: ‘Looking ahead to the World Cup, I absolutely believe he would add something new and different to the strikers that England have.’

Brentford manager Thomas Frank insisted that Toney is the ‘best penalty taker in the world’

The Danish head coach has urged Gareth Southgate to consider him ahead of the World Cup

Brentford’s supporters have been spoilt at the Gtech Community Stadium this season. They’re yet to lose at home — beating Manchester United 4-0, drawing 1-1 with Everton and defeating Leeds 5-2. Not bad for a ‘bus stop in Hounslow’, as Frank loves to refer to his club.

As for Marsch, he claimed afterwards that he was ‘respectful’ towards the officials, despite receiving a red card for his persistent protests.

‘Jesse Marsch has spent more time on the pitch than in his technical area this afternoon,’ tweeted Brentford’s official account. ‘He’s now spending the rest of the afternoon in the stands as he’s sent off.’

Marsch’s habit of being a handful on the sidelines has not gone unnoticed by Premier League officials. He raced out of his technical area to point furiously at the pitch-side monitor when referee Robert Jones was not sent there by VAR David Coote to look at a potential penalty after Crysencio Summerville was bundled over by Aaron Hickey.

What particularly upset Marsch was it came after Brentford were awarded their spot-kick via the monitor, described as ‘incredibly soft’ by the Leeds manager.

He now wants to speak with the refereeing body, the PGMOL. Despite Marsch’s protests, it was dire defending from Leeds that truly undid them here rather than bad decisions.

The penalty they gave away for Toney’s first. The free-kick for his second. The Meslier mistake for his third. The way Mbeumo broke behind their back line to score Brentford’s fourth and how Diego Llorente gifted Yoane Wissa the ball for the fifth.

It was one of those days for Leeds. For Brentford, they are making a mockery of that ‘second season syndrome’ that is so often feared. There is a long way to go, but with Toney, a few more teams are bound to be left with bloody noses in 2022-23.

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