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The Brentford Model: is This Finally the Year it Works?

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Moneyball in London

Brentford have been on an upward trajectory ever since being promoted to the Championship back in the 2013/14 season. The Bees have gained many admirers over recent seasons, and their unique setup has seen them flourish both on and off the pitch.

Despite missing out on promotion last season in the play-off final, Thomas Frank's men finally seem destined to make the jump to the Premier League this year after a flurry of impressive performances as they sit inside the automatic promotion spots for now.

Here, we take a look at the factors behind their success this season and what Premier League football could mean for the Bees' infamous recruitment model.

Brentford Odds

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Brentford to win the Championship Odds @ 11/10

Toney filling Watkins' boots and more

Frank and head of recruitment Lee Dykes were tasked with replacing 26 Championship goals in Ollie Watkins and it seemed as if there was only one man for the job early on with the two identifying early in the summer window that the striker would be in the form of League one player of the year Ivan Toney.

The then-Peterborough man was hot property in the summer after scoring 26 goals in 39 games before and he was head and shoulders above all goalscorers outside of the top two divisions in England. Incredibly, Brentford managed to win his signature for a modest fee of £5m with potential add ons. Toney has been beyond exceptional since joining the Bees, netting 23 goals, and registering nine assists in just 28 games; this sees the Englishman become the first player to reach 30 goal involvements in England's top four divisions.

Ultimately, Ivan Toney's signing has been another example of the club's long-term success in recruitment, and he might be the reason why Brentford become a Premier League club at the end of the season. And, if he stays on, he will be what Teemu Pukki was for Norwich City last season and what the likes Patrick Bamford have been for Leeds United this campaign and keep them in the top flight.

Not only has he replaced the goals left since the departure of Watkins, but his statistics also suggest that he might be an upgrade on the Aston Villa man. Toney has been a major reason for Brentford's form this season, and if promoted, the Bees will already have a Premier League quality striker at their disposal and it’s just another reason why their recruitment remains one of the best.

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Ivan Toney to be the Championship top scorer @ 2/7

They've finally found consistency

What has been Brentford's main issue in trying to reach the Premier League has been inconsistencies and the failure to maintain a place in automatic promotion spots until the end. The club now boast the joint-least defeats in the Championship with four after 29 games.

Two late goals from both Josh Dasilva and Ivan Toney against Reading saw the Bees go top of the Championship table for the first time two weeks ago, however a shock defeat at home to Barnsley sent shockwaves through the division and allowed Norwich to return to the top.

Coincided by this, the victories against Reading and Middlesbrough meant that Brentford eclipsed their unbeaten run in the League one 13/14 campaign that ultimately saw them promoted with 19 games unbeaten, meaning they were on the best run of their recent topsy-turvy Championship history.

A good omen, maybe? Nevertheless, some unbeaten runs can be misleading; teams can have a run of five or six fixtures against struggling teams, but with Brentford, 21 games is not a fluke. Having faced most of the teams in the division in this run, it highlights their consistency of performance against the best and worst teams in the division. This consistency, along with Toney's goals, is the two big reasons the Bees promotion dream will likely come to fruition come to the end of the season as they've seemingly patched up recent cracks in their run to the top.

How does their Premier League dream change their recruitment model?

As mentioned, the recruitment setup at Brentford is arguably the most efficient and unique in the country. Unearthing hidden gems across the continent, developing them, and selling them on for big profits has become a recurring cycle at Brentford in the Championship.

But with Premier League football, Brentford would have the ability to stop the third part of the cycle from happening on such a regular basis. High-profile players like Neal Maupay, Ezri Konsa, Watkins, and Said Benrahma have each moved to Premier League clubs in recent seasons, and each looked at home in doing so. The Bees would have the financial capabilities to withstand any bids from clubs for their key assets, and it would reduce the turnover of players each window, which would be key in establishing themselves as a Premier League club.

Not only does Premier League football have a huge effect on Brentford keeping their best players, but it also expands the potential of their recruitment department and the players that they can attract. Currently, most of their players are from lower league teams or niche markets abroad. What top-flight football could bring to the club are new markets to delve into due to the financial benefits of the Premier League. Not only would Brentford be able to attract a better quality of player, but they can also offer bigger wages and fees, which ultimately would see their recruitment model thrive in the top division.

The Premier League dream may become very real for Brentford fans in the next few months, and the idea of their recruitment team having more resources to work with should be a mouth-watering thought for any fan of the club.

By Harry Charlwood