Fulham should take inspiration from Brentford – the Bees’ success without Ivan Toney shows how they can cope after Aleksandar Mitrovic’s departure
- Fulham have struggled to score in their opening Premier League fixtures
- Aleksandar Mitrovic’s departure has given Marco Silva a problem to solve
- WATCH: ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ – Episode 1 – Mail Sport’s brand new football show
It is an odd thought, that Marco Silva might have taken solace from his side succumbing to something of a shellacking by their west London rivals.
While Fulham’s toothless performance against Brentford will have added to the pain of losing Aleksandar Mitrovic to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Silva only had to look to the team running riot in front of him for proof that such a blow does not need to be fatal.
Ivan Toney’s suspension until January was meant to hobble Brentford, but instead they have hit the ground running this season.
What is more impressive still is that Thomas Frank has managed it without any summer additions up front, with the Bees’ aggressive and direct style getting the best out of Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa, a pair who already have five goals to their name after two matches.
Three came here as Brentford strolled to victory. Wissa seized on a shocking error by Issa Diop to open the scoring, Mbeumo made it two from the penalty spot and then wrapped things up after a clinical counter-attack.
Fulham boss Marco Silva has a striker problem to solve after struggling for goals in his side’s opening two games
Aleksandar Mitrovic has departed to secure a big-money move to the riches of Saudi Arabia
Silva admitted it may be a case of make do and mend when it comes to replacing Mitrovic’s goals. That is worrying news for Fulham fans.
New No 9 Raul Jimenez has not scored in the league since March — 2022, that is — and never looked likely to change that here.
But Silva insisted he could restore the Mexican to former glories, just as he had done with Mitrovic.
Brentford have thrived in the absence of Ivan Toney who is serving a ban from football
Brentford have been able to put goals away this season without investing in attacking talents upfront
‘The striker market is not easy,’ he said. ‘I’m not sure if we are going to find the right replacement. We will do our best but if we can’t, we will face the Premier League with the players we have here.
‘When we arrived at this club, the season before Mitro had scored three goals in the Premier League. Half of that season he was on the bench.
‘The season after, he scored 43 goals (in the Championship). He had been really down at this club. What we did with him, now we have to do with the players we have in our squad.’
That task looks daunting — and it is one Silva must pull off if Fulham are to stay out of trouble this year. But Brentford have at least proved it can be done.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Leno 6.5; Tete 6 (Muniz 86min), Diop 5, Ream 5, Robinson 6.5; Reed 6 (Bassey 67, 6), Lukic 6; Wilson 5.5, Pereira 6 (Willian 67, 6), Decordova-Reid 5.5 (Palhinha 67, 6.5); Jimenez 5.5 (Traore 86).
Booked: Reed, Palhinha.
Sent off: Ream.
Manager: Marco Silva 5.
BRENTFORD (4-3-3): Flekken 5.5; Hickey 6.5 (Roerslev 78), Pinnock 6.5, Collins 7, Henry 7.5; Janelt 7, Norgaard 7 (Damsgaard 79), Jensen 7.5; MBEUMO 8.5, Wissa 8 (Dasilva 79 (Ajer 89)), Schade 6.5 (Lewis-Potter 71, 6).
Scorers: Wissa 44, Mbeumo 66 (pen), 90+2.
Booked: Hickey, Henry.
Manager: Thomas Frank 8.
Referee: Darren Bond 6.