SIMON JORDAN: I like Ivan Toney but Sky’s fawning coverage of his return was hard to


At the risk of morphing into the Victor Meldrew of columnists, I found myself watching the ridiculous glad-handing and love-in that preceded Ivan Toney’s return last Saturday thinking: I don’t believe it!

This is a guy who brought the game and himself into an element of disrepute, compromised his club and put them in a position where one of their highest-paid and best players can’t get on the pitch and will shuffle out of the door at the first opportunity.

And what do we get from Sky Sports and Brentford? A massive love-in. A fest of adulation, light shows, entrance music — and to cap it off, manager Thomas Frank giving him the captaincy!

I really like Ivan Toney as a player and I’ve got a lot of time for him and his dad, someone I’ve spent some time with.

Ivan Toney made his return to Brentford at the weekend in a match against Nottingham Forest. 'And what do we get from Sky Sports and Brentford ? A massive love-in. A fest of adulation, light shows, entrance music,' Simon Jordan writes

Ivan Toney made his return to Brentford at the weekend in a match against Nottingham Forest. ‘And what do we get from Sky Sports and Brentford ? A massive love-in. A fest of adulation, light shows, entrance music,’ Simon Jordan writes

So I’ve always been a champion of Toney. When he came up out of the Championship, plenty of football observers said he was unorthodox and wouldn’t be able to do it in the Premier League. Utter rubbish.

He’s not unorthodox, he’s a formidable striker, a brilliant penalty-taker, superb at holding the ball up and someone with a great football brain. He’s an all-round top player and a very rare breed in the modern game, an effective centre forward.

But despite all that, I found myself watching Sky lather themselves into a frenzy about his return and thinking, ‘Hold on, something ain’t right here’.

He got himself into this position. He initially lied about his indiscretions, showed no remorse whatsoever, then appeared on podcasts insisting it wasn’t his fault and claiming he’d been victimised. Then he comes back and is treated like a hero.

My disdain, beyond Toney’s poor behaviour, is with Sky’s fawning coverage, blinkered sections of Brentford’s fanbase and their manager for giving him the armband.

That decision surprised me as Toney’s actions were clearly not those of a leader.

Amid the landscape of fawning admiration, he was criticised for admitting he would be open to a move to a bigger club, but I feel that’s an unfair stick to beat him with.

He was led down a path by the interviewer when he should have just said: ‘My focus is on Brentford and the future will take care of itself. Every player wants to play at the highest level, but right now I owe Brentford a debt so I’m going to get on with it.’

That’s the kind of attitude you would like to hear from him, but players are often intellectually unaware or incapable of handling such prodding and probing.

They are not aware enough beyond the end of their nose as to what is a reasonable way to behave.

He should have been taken to one side and told: ‘Ivan, we all know you’re going to move and get what you want, but the bottom line is you’ve also got to have a little bit of respect for those who have facilitated solutions for you alongside your talent, so here’s what you should be saying, process it and come out with it in your own way.’

I suspect nobody said that to him because footballers don’t take kindly to being spoken to in that way and you can only give them precisely what they want. Everyone is, of course, entitled to redemption, but we unnecessarily lionise these people, Jordan Henderson being a prime example of that.

I’m afraid the Toney love-in is yet another example of the ridiculousness of the game.

If this was any other walk of life — a politician or anybody in a public office or a position of influence — there is no way they would be received with open arms by a fawning media, but this is how absurd football is. Even when it came down to him taking his medicine, the England manager, who was ill-informed, got involved and others bemoaned how unfair the ban was.

Integrity, authenticity, validity, discipline and the culture of the game are all about people sometimes having to do as they’re told or follow simple rules.

Ultimately, regardless of my feelings for him, Toney refused to accept that and was guilty of bringing the game into disrepute. I’m afraid this whole episode embodies some of the many bad things about football.

So let’s have it right, his return against Nottingham Forest was not about the homecoming of an all-conquering hero.

It was about a very good player needing to come back and make good on the problems he in part created.

I hope his inevitable departure from Brentford takes him down a new, success-laden path which provides the opportunities his talent clearly deserves. And where his off-field behaviour reflects the superstar status be may well achieve.

United need a better boss, not a fancy CEO 

Manchester United’s appointment of CEO Omar Berrada from Manchester City has been hailed as a coup, but I’m not sure why.

The Glazers, irrespective of the contempt in which they are held by the club’s fans, have turned the commercialisation of United into the finest art. They monetised everything and wrung every last drop of commercial revenue out of every single opportunity, so that is an area that doesn’t need strengthening.

Manchester City CEO Omar Berrada, whose appointment has been hailed as a coup

Manchester City CEO Omar Berrada, whose appointment has been hailed as a coup

I often find people have very inflated reputations when most of the time the person in the room with the most money is able to facilitate the best solutions. City have been in that position for some time.

Part of me also wonders why someone would leave something so successful to go to something that isn’t. Maybe it’s a massive pay rise or promotion, but it does make me wonder whether there’s controversy in the offing at City. My nose tells me when you leave an environment like this, it’s because you think something bad is going to happen.

I still believe that until United get the right person in the dugout, their problems will continue. If this guy is able to bring a culture that is effective in achieving the best outcomes, then you might find yourself with a culture where the right manager is recruited. But if the person in the dugout isn’t working, then it’s all for nothing.

United need a remarkable coach, like City have with Pep Guardiola and like they had with Sir Alex Ferguson. That’s far more important than someone in the boardroom.

Disdain for Moyes can’t be healthy 

A section of West Ham fans are not having David Moyes. They don’t like his style of play, they think he’s boring and too slow to make changes.

Facts trump sentiment but it’s a difficult one for an owner because you cannot overcome how people feel watching football.

David Moyes. A section of West Ham fans don¿t like his style of play

David Moyes. A section of West Ham fans don’t like his style of play

Moyes won the club their first trophy for 43 years last season, is still in the Europa League and the club are sixth in the Premier League table, yet some fans are unhappy.

If I was in owner David Sullivan’s position and believed in Moyes, I would be slightly irritated.

Fans seemingly want it all and have a sense of entitlement. They want a side who compete at the top of the league and compete in a way that engages and entrances.

That is what football has created for itself. If you make it an entertainment business — which is what it is now — you’ve got to give fans what they want.

If you don’t, you’ve got to be prepared to have the courage of your convictions. If you’ve employed Moyes and he is delivering the job you told him to deliver, then you have to back your own eyes and trust your own judgment.

There’s nothing wrong with expectations or wanting to watch good football. It’s a tricky one for owners to balance.

It’s the unholy trinity — owners’ expectations combined with the reality of what your players can and can’t do, plus the overwhelming expectation of fans who aren’t happy with just winning, they want to win with a flourish.

West Ham fans should perhaps be careful what they wish for. We are in danger sometimes of listening to those who shout loudest in society and think it’s representative of the entire community — from transgender issues to taking the knee.

Perhaps we pay too much attention to the vociferous minority these days.

 Listen to White and Jordan every weekday on talkSPORT from 10am-1pm



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