City ready to fight fire with fire against Toney and the Bees
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Stopping the Championship's top scorer Ivan Toney is just one of the challenges Norwich City face this evening but Daniel Farke also expects the leaders to give title rivals Brentford plenty to worry about.
The second-placed Bees arrive looking to close a seven-point gap on the Canaries after shaking off three successive defeats to get back on track with home wins over Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke.
However, Norwich have won five on the spin and top scorer Teemu Pukki has scored seven goals in his last five games to take his tally for the season to 18.
That is still seven fewer than impressive Brentford star Toney though, who was signed from Peterborough last summer for a reported initial £6.5million, in a deal potentially worth around £10m.
“Of course we knew about Ivan Toney," Farke said, when asked if City had been interested in signing the striker. "We followed his way, but I don’t speak too much about what could have happened, or rumours or speculation, players we could have signed or should have signed or whatever.
“I never speak about our scouting or how close we came to signing a player, I just speak if we sign a player.
“Of course he is a really good player, there is no doubt about this, he has proven this during the season so far, he has scored many goals and is unbelievably important for Brentford.
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“One of the topics is of course to control him because he is a key man for them but in general Brentford is a really good side with many offensive threats, with a really good approach.
“For that, it’s not like we just have to control one player, we have to control all of them on the pitch and that is our task.”
Bees boss Thomas Frank has faced a similar job to Farke this season as he successfully guides his team to recovery from play-off final defeat despite selling two players for big money.
The Canaries boss points to a key difference in their tasks though, saying: “Thomas is a really good coach. It also fits Brentford in general that I have a lot of respect for what they have done over the last years.
“The club has more or less grown from year to year, also with the facilities, the new stadium, they have built a really compact set-up, and earned lots of money with transfers and were always able to find some good young players to develop. I think he is doing a really good job.
“You can’t really compare our situation. Of course it was a disappointment with their loss of the play-off final but they still had 46 games before where they won many of their games and had a pretty successful season.
“For us it was difficult because when you are relegated from the Premier League you are getting a bit used to losing games and you have to change this mentality a little bit.
“So I wouldn’t say it was equal but none the less, I have lots of praise for him and what he has done with the key people in the club, I think they are doing a fantastic job and it’s no coincidence they are in the best positions in this league and have chances to be successful.”
The first meeting of the two sides this season ended in a 1-1 draw at the impressive new Brentford Community Stadium in West London in October.
Important saves from City keeper Tim Krul were needed after Toney had opened the scoring in the first half, after the visitors had wasted good chances, but a deflected shot from substitute Kenny McLean earned Norwich a draw in the 87th minute.
“They’re quite flexible in their approach and also in how they build up the game," Farke said of this evening's challenge (5.30pm kick-off). "In general it is a really good side, a good possession-based side, they have different principles in their game.
“For that, you always have to do your job and in general in this league it is never that easy because you have to deliver every three days and you don’t have too much time to work with your team in order to prepare them in a perfect way for the next opponent.
“You can’t have too many meetings about the other team and also not too much time on the training pitch to prepare, so it’s always difficult.
“It’s also a big task because Brentford without any doubt is a top side on this level, they have good players, a good coach, they have grown more or less from year to year and also they have quite a reputation as a club.
“For that we are respectful but it is also important that we bring our strengths on the pitch and for that we are also quite focused on our game.”
- The Canaries have confirmed that a period of silence will be held ahead of kick-off, in memory of the club's former manager Glenn Roeder, who died aged 65 at the weekend after a long battle against a brain tumour.