The penalty kick is the best in England.
In the 2022/23 season, Erling Haaland is making history: the Man City forward has already scored 27 goals – more than the owners of the last four League Golden Boots.
Against the background of such a star, it is easy not to notice a less bright one, but growing every year and no less interesting.
A year and a half ago, Brentford barely got into the Premier League, and in 2023 they are confidently in ninth place. This is a club with many heroes, the main one being forward Ivan Toney. This season, he scored 14 goals in 21 matches and could even compete for the prize for the player of the year, if not for the circumstances. And it’s not just about stellar competitors.
Most likely, Tawney will not finish the championship to the end: in November 2022, the Football Association of England filed charges against Ivan for 232 violations of the betting regulations, and in December they discovered 30 more such incidents – all from February 25, 2017 (Ivan was then rented Scunthorpe) until January 23, 2021 (already in the colors of Brentford).
Tawney pleaded guilty (but not in all cases), the next move is for the officials. A lengthy ban looks like an inevitable scenario. According to Sky Sports, this could be a 6-month suspension. The verdict will probably be known in April.
This text will help to understand how much not only Brentford, but the whole league can lose.
Tawney made his way to the senior level through a bunch of trials and dragged the club to the Premier League with records
Tawney got into the football school surprisingly late: only at 14 he was taken to the Leicester academy. I played there for almost two years, until, before one of the training sessions, I learned from the outfitter that they did not want to see him in the team.
“By the age of 16, clubs decide who to keep in the academy and who not. I was walking on the field alone, and then the kitman (outfitter) asks:
– What are you doing here?
– Wasn’t at the meeting? So you don’t know?
I immediately understood everything, but I definitely didn’t expect to hear it from the outfitter,” Toney recalled in an interview with Total Media in 2021.
Ivan dropped his hands and didn’t know what to do. According to him, apart from football, he did not know how, so he called Northampton, who played in League 2 (the 4th division of English football):
“During one of the games, the coaches of Northampton drew attention to me – they knocked on our doors and even somehow got my family’s phones. Then I turned them down because I considered it a level below.
The merciful Northampton lads took over Tawney and he made 13 appearances in his first season, scoring 3 goals and helping to keep him in League Two.
When Ivan hit 8 the following year, Newcastle bought him, and endless loan spells began.
“On loan, a young player is treated differently. Coaches think: “He is passing through here, he will leave soon, so you don’t have to mess with him.” Sometimes they didn’t even give me an installation, they didn’t tell me what I should do on the field, ”Tawney was sad.
In 4 years he changed 7 clubs, made a noise at Peterborough, scoring 40 in two seasons in League 1, and received an invitation from Brentford. Londoners’ analysts were sure that Tawney was perfect for them.
After a record transfer window and sales of €60m in the summer of 2020, Brentford have spent just €7m, five of which on Tawney. However, the signing was delayed – head coach Thomas Frank recalled the tense process on the YouTube channel The Coaches Voice in 2021:
“We needed a striker, and we agreed to meet with Ivan. I told him how we play, what our centre-forward does – showed him that his qualities fit perfectly with our tactics: the style of opening into the box, playing along and the possibilities in pressing. However, he still had doubts.
Deadlines were running out, but there was no answer. On vacation in Denmark, at my sister’s house, I went to call:
Ivan, I don’t understand. Perhaps other clubs are also interested in you, but I already explained: if you choose us, I guarantee you will score 25 goals in a season. Our style of play, your qualities – I’m sure everything will come together.”
Tawney came and scored not 25 but 33 (breaking the league record), becoming the third Brentford striker in three seasons to jump the 25-goal mark in the Championship, a unique feat in the scouting department.
Before Ivan, Brentford had signed Neil Mope and Ollie Watkins, both good in their own way, but Tawney took the best qualities of his predecessors and added his own.
On the part of Mope – a game in accompaniment, spectacular and no less effective one-touch heels. From Watkins – movement without the ball, the ability to constantly be in the conflict zone (when 2 or more opponent players pass the player between themselves) and timely lightning-fast jerks.
Before Toney, Brentford were more creative in attack, indirect confirmation is the pizza chart from StatsBomb, which shows how good Brentford-2019 is relative to the Championship in positional attacks (Deep Completions – passes within a radius of 20 meters from the opponent’s goal, Through Passes – successful passes behind the back of the defenders).
After Said Benrahm left for West Ham, the pattern of the game changed a little: the attacks lost a little in creativity, but the effectiveness remained at the same level (again, they scored the most). The merits of Tawney can hardly be overestimated: 33 goals and 10 assists in the debut season 2020/21.
Brentford still had a lot of possession (remember this point), but they were throwing whirlwind attacks, which is not very common for teams with a high share of possession – Tawney made it very easy.
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