No Ivan Toney, no downside. That, at the very least was the proof offered by Brentford towards West Ham as they breezed to a 2-0 victory at Gtech Neighborhood Stadium; in lieu of Toney, absent with a minor hamstring damage, two of the hosts’ entrance three scored, and had been a collective menace.
In fact, Toney’s affect at Brentford has been so nice that the broader query of how the membership can endure his absence will linger – particularly given the paucity of their opponents. Earlier than the sport, David Moyes had admitted that West Ham’s gamers had “one eye” on Thursday’s Europa Convention League semi-final towards AZ Alkmaar; wherever their different eye was, there was little proof of it in southwest London.
In a curious means, this was a recreation outlined by its absences. For West Ham, 9 adjustments from Thursday betrayed this match’s lowly standing. It was not solely gamers who had minds elsewhere; it took barely 60 seconds for West Ham followers to interrupt right into a rendition of “We’re all happening a European tour”. It was heard once more when Danny Ings had a objective disallowed for handball, from Divin Mubama, throughout a interval within the second half when West Ham fleetingly threatened.
The altogether extra fascinating query was how Brentford would cope within the absence of Toney. To those that have seen Toney’s 66 objectives over three seasons for the membership, and the sheer vary and flexibility of his recreation, it’s an unpalatable prospect. And but it’s one which the membership might quickly must confront. There are twin threats to Toney’s future at Brentford: the potential of a ban for breaching the Soccer Affiliation’s betting guidelines; and the chance that Toney leaves the membership altogether.
Toney’s enchancment this 12 months – he has gone from 12 objectives to twenty, whereas his broader impression on matches has grown commensurately – is such that Brentford are braced for critical curiosity from their extra prosperous rivals. Had been Harry Kane to go away Tottenham Hotspur, it’s simple to envisage them figuring out Toney as the closest there may be to a like-for-like alternative; the identical view that Gareth Southgate has now taken for England. Manchester United, if they can’t snare Kane, may effectively be eager to discover the chances of recruiting Toney too, who would carry the bodily qualities of Wout Weghorst and an attacking menace on an altogether totally different order.
Each Brentford and Toney can even likely bear in mind that, at 27 – however that he has been a late developer – golf equipment won’t be minded to spend fairly as a lot to him in years to come back. For whereas Brentford’s rise has been underpinned by astute recruitment, the cousin of this has been an unsentimental consciousness of when it’s prudent to promote a participant; irrespective of how good, everybody has a value at which letting them go is nice enterprise.
For proof of this, Brentford solely want to think about the person who arrived on the pitch within the 59th minute: Stated Benrahma. From 2018-20, Benrahma loved two productive years at Brentford – the primary member of the ‘BMW’ strikeforce, alongside Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins.
All three had been offered earlier than Brentford reached the Premier League. And but the cash obtained for the trio – a mixed £64 million – helped to make the membership what they’re at the moment, ninth within the high flight and a member of the Premier League’s middle-classes.
Their replacements – Toney, Bryan Mbeumo (purchased a 12 months earlier than BMW left) and Yoane Wissa – value £19 million. Whereas making a £45 million revenue, then, Brentford continued their upward ascent. With Toney absent, Mbeumo showcased his personal improved Premier League marketing campaign by defeating Lukasz Fabianski for the opening objective – although Fabianski will wince trying again at his tried save – and offering persistent menace, each on the right-hand aspect and when drifting to different positions. Aged 23, and with heightened footballing acuity to go together with his tempo, Mbeumo’s personal trajectory looms as an thrilling one.