Tottenham next manager: Why Thomas Frank ticks the right boxes but Brentford exit unlikely
As Tottenham edge towards the appointment of a new head coach, Brentford boss Thomas Frank feels conspicuous by his absence from the running.
Frank, whose side face Spurs in north London tomorrow, was one of the earliest names linked with the job after Antonio Conte was sacked in March, but was never thought to be a serious candidate, despite his body of work at Brentford.
Tactically adaptable, charismatic, Premier League-proven and an impressive man-manager and coach, Frank ticks many of the boxes for Spurs, particularly as the 49-year-old is still surely on the way up.
His Bees side have got better with every season, underlined by a guaranteed top-10 finish this term, and a win tomorrow would move them to within a point of Spurs, despite the chasm between the size of the clubs and their resources.
If Spurs have their doubts, they might be down to Frank’s outspokenness or record of managing big players (Christian Eriksen is comfortably the biggest name he has coached), but more than anything there are reasons to think Frank would be a poor fit as Conte’s successor because his success at Brentford feels in large part down to his synergy with his surroundings.
Along with Brighton, the Bees are the best-run smaller club in the top flight, and Frank feels like a key cog in a well-oiled machine, completely in sync with his environment and the fanbase.
Like Graham Potter at Brighton, there is no guarantee Frank would be so successful if transplanted into a different environment, particularly a chaotic club like Spurs, who have recently lacked a clear direction and strategy, and are still in the process of building a structure of their own.
If, or more likely when, a big club eventually comes calling for Frank, he would likely be a better fit in a more holistic and cerebral environment than Spurs.
The Dane’s ability to keep Brentford progressing will be sorely tested by the absence of Ivan Toney, with the striker to sit out the first game of his eight-month ban tomorrow — a boost to Spurs’s European hopes.
Frank and Brentford will have been planning for this eventuality since November, when Toney was charged, and the Bees were fine without Toney in the 2-0 win over West Ham last time out, although David Moyes fielded his reserve side.
Spurs’s interim boss Ryan Mason will be able to call on his own star striker in Harry Kane tomorrow, although there remains an outside chance that it could be the England captain’s last home game for the club.
Spurs have no interest in selling Kane in the summer, and he has not been acting or talking like a player planning to push for a move, but the club’s all-time leading scorer has just a year remaining on his contract, so all eventualities remain on the table.
Mason was also in place for the final home game of the 2020-21 season, a 2-1 defeat by Aston Villa which turned into a toxic occasion and a chance for supporters to vent their frustration at the running of the club.
The acting head coach is prioritising improving the mood at Spurs and rebuilding a connection with fans, and will want to finish the home season on a positive note, to further the club’s hopes of a Europa League place and his own outside chance of landing the permanent job.
That Frank is not also in the running says more about Spurs than it does about the Brentford boss, who has a chance to remind tomorrow’s opponents what they could be missing.