Brentford 2021: Memorable – The Athletic

The past 12 months will be one of the best years in Brentford history after returning to the top flight for the first time since 1947.

They were expected to struggle, but their Matchday 1 win over Arsenal set the tone for a good start. Fans were finally allowed into the club’s new stadium, after having to wait due to the pandemic, and they were treated to some memorable moments.

Athletic took a look back at the past 12 months and picked the highlights.

Did this year go as planned?

The goal was to get promoted, so in that regard, the year went as planned. However, Brentford has a notoriously poor record in the playoffs and when they missed the automatic ascent a sense of dread filled the fan base. After losing the 2020 Championship play-off final to Fulham in overtime, even more heartache is said to have crushed the club.

Led 2-0 in the semi-final second leg against Bournemouth, it appeared their curse would never be broken until a dramatic turnaround put them through. Against Swansea City at Wembley they took an early lead and never looked back as they sealed their passage to the Premier League.

Best player

Brentford fans were worried about the team’s prospects after selling Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma during the 2020 summer transfer window, but Ivan Toney quickly buried those fears.

The 25-year-old was unstoppable when he sent Brentford back to third in the championship and broke the division’s scoring record. He scored crucial goals throughout the campaign, including two play-off penalties.

With four goals and two assists in 14 Premier League appearances, Toney is thriving in the top flight and has caught the eye of England manager Gareth Southgate.

James C. Tibbs