Not much was thought of Brentford when they first got promoted to the Premier League. A side that narrowly missed out on promotion the year before, and one with a less than impressive transfer budget, it’s testament to manager Thomas Frank for getting the best out of his players.
Despite a strong start to the season, the west London side’s form inevitably dipped and soon Brentford’s name cropped up amongst the relegation odds. However, the Bees have proved everyone wrong and look to have all but ensured their Premier League status at the time of writing.
One of the biggest reasons for their success is talisman Ivan Toney. Having broken the record for goals in a single season in the Championship last season — for a year at least, until Aleksandar Mitrović did it for Fulham — the striker has carried his good form into the top flight, finding the back of the net 14 times for Brentford in all competitions as they look to establish themselves as a regular Premier League outfit.
He's certainly not been without his controversies, but his movement and goalscoring ability has been a real asset for Frank and co. at the Brentford Community Stadium. Read on, as we look at what Toney is doing that has helped Brentford so much this season.
Variety of goals
Despite being almost six feet tall, Toney doesn’t rely on his physicality to score goals. In fact, the majority are down to his clever movement and timing of runs.
He is also proving to be a reliable penalty taker, converting four of his 12 league goals from the spot. There are times where he has been forced into more physical battles but has coped well, dominating aerially and winning fouls for his side.
Link up play
As good as the team were, the addition of Christian Eriksen has taken them to the next level. It’s really enhanced Toney’s game as he gets that bit of extra quality service that the other midfielders in the team simply can’t replicate.
“I am sure he will be here,” Toney said about Eriksen’s future. “Let’s see what happens. With a player like that in the team then you are going to have the quality.
“He sets a certain standard for himself and the team and we have to come up to that and play above that so with him coming in it is great for all of us.”
With the Danish magician in the side, it’s meant Toney can link the play between the lines much easier, and with teams more than likely to figure out Frank’s possession-based system eventually, he’ll need to be as versatile as possible in the coming months.
There’s an undeniable team spirit within this Brentford side that has been a breath of fresh air for the league. You can tell the players buzz off the home support and that’s apparent in their results, with the majority of wins in the league coming in west London.
While Toney has been linked with other clubs, few would guarantee him the same continuity as Brentford can. The team is built around him and it would make a lot more sense if he was to stay and prove his consistency as a striker in the top flight.