Since joining our academy at only nine years of age, Andros Townsend has taken in a remarkable nine different loan spells and has certainly had to bide his time in breaking into the first team squad, but after years of patience and determination, it looks like his moment is in full throttle. After Aaron Lennon suffered a long term injury following our league opener at Crystal Palace, Townsend was thrown into the starting eleven in our 1-0 victory over Swansea at The Lane and really hasn’t looked back since. His explosive pace and dribbling coupled with his new found maturity played a huge part in our impressive start to the season which has even seen him restrict club record signing Erik Lamela to the bench for longer than expected. His excellent form hasn’t gone unnoticed either; England boss Roy Hodgson called Townsend up for the crucial qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland and the rest was history. A man-of-the-match performance and a superb goal against the former followed leaving the capacity Wembley crowd and millions watching at home wondering if he could be the next big thing. At 22 years of age, Townsend certainly has time on his side but how far can he really go into becoming a top player for club/country and more importantly at this stage, can he keep his place in the Spurs team despite his recent heroics.
Townsend’s natural ability has never been in question. Even when he was used as a ‘bit-part’ squad player during his early years, it was evident that the winger had an eye for goal and was always looking to cause defenders problems with his pace and trickery. Confidence is what you need as a young player stepping up to the first team and Townsend had that in abundance. Whenever he was introduced as a substitute (although rare) in previous seasons, Townsend adopted a very direct style of play where he looked to cut in from the wings and rifle a shot at goal. His style was quickly admired by the Spurs faithful, but he unfortunately got tagged as a ‘hogger’ who wanted to do everything on his own and didn’t seem to possess a football brain.
So i hear you beg the question: what has Andros learnt in the last few years to be where he is today? I think it’s a combination of two factors. One being his successful loan spell at relegated QPR last season, where he was voted their player-of-the-year, and the other being his mental strength to recover from damaging headlines about his much publicised gambling scandal in June this year.
The time he spent at QPR improved Townsend’s physical game a great deal as he was given a clear first team run by Harry Redknapp, a manager that knows him very well, and he performed admirably in a struggling side in the Premier League. The direct style of play we saw in patches during his early years at Spurs was suddenly becoming more successful and he was contributing/scoring more goals than ever before in his career. He enjoyed the heightened responsibility in the starting line up and excelled in a free roaming right wing role, which he has adopted ever since. QPR were ultimately relegated, but it was Townsend’s performances which stood tall. His return to the Spurs squad for pre season training meant he was now a big part of AVB’s plans even though we still wasn’t overly sure whether we could rely on his unpredictable services. However, AVB made the ‘gamble’ and thrust Townsend into first team action against Swansea at the expense of the injured Aaron Lennon and he was very productive, ultimately playing a huge part in the penalty which won the match and he remained in the team from then on. Each game has passed and Townsend is continually growing in confidence, eager to repay the faith that AVB has shown in him, and we are now reaping the rewards of his recent loan spell. After all, would he have been given the same level of opportunity had he not performed at QPR? I think its very unlikely, and i would even go as far to say that he could of been moved on in the summer. How things could have been very different.
The gambling scandal in June that clouded Townsend’s Spurs career was also a huge moment in his career in my view. Following his impressive performances for QPR, Townsend was fined £18,000 by the F.A for breaching betting regulations and things didn’t look pretty for a player desperately looking to break into the Spurs first team. Townsend publicly admitted his guilt over the incident and vowed to return stronger physically and mentally on the pitch in order to redeem himself to the club and the fans. And credit to him, he did just that. Andros got his head down, trained hard and waited for the opportunity to impress and the rewards came his way (albeit a bit of luck with Lennon’s long term injury vs Crystal Palace). Fast forward to the present day and he has been a regular starter for the club so far, and produced a great debut for the National side when he scored vs Montenegro at Wembley. That’s progress.
In my biased view, I would say Andros Townsend has the ability to become a major player for club and country in the coming years, but only if he keeps up the early level of consistency he has shown so far this season. Consistency is key. Although he is obviously relishing the competition he has behind him at Spurs in the form of Erik Lamela and the returning Aaron Lennon, he needs to stay level-headed and ensure AVB cannot even contemplate dropping him with his form and attitude. Although I think Lennon’s return to match fitness will see him take his place on the bench for the first few games at least, It is getting increasingly confusing as to how AVB will accommodate our £30m man, Erik Lamela, into the team. Sooner rather than later we will need to use his services in the starting line up as paying such a large amount of money for a player who is warming the bench will inevitably come with pressure in the direction of the man who opened the chequebook, Daniel Levy. How long will keep faith in Townsend? It’s simple. If he is playing well, contributing to the team and his attitude is spot on, he cannot be dropped; even with Lamela and Lennnon lurking on the sidelines. After all, i’d much rather see Sigurdsson dropped for Lamela instead of Townsend and i can only lick my lips at the possibility of a Townsend-Eriksen-Lamela partnership behind Soldado. Wouldn’t you agree?
Without rambling on for too long, I firmly believe we are beginning to see the next Spurs star take the bull by the horns and show everyone what he is made of, leaving the critics in a trail of dust. Good on ya Andros, keep up the good work! COYS!!
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