Former Spur insists he will ‘always be grateful’ to Poch despite how things ended

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino proved quite ruthless in getting rid of players who crossed the line during his first year in North London.

Among the victims was academy graduate Andros Townsend who was shunned from the first-team picture after an argument with fitness coach Nathan Gardiner and was sold the subsequent January.

Despite being pushed towards the exit door by the Argentine, the former Spurs star has said that he has no animosity towards Pochettino.

That was among the many revelations that Townsend made in an extended interview with The Athletic, where he discussed the influence that Harry Redknapp, Andre Villas-Boas and Pochettino had on his career.

The Crystal Palace star was particularly complimentary to Redknapp, who he insisted knew how to get the best of him.

Speaking about Redknapp, Townsend said: “His best attribute is knowing what he can get out of players, how to get the best out of them and knowing what to say at the right time. He told me, ‘Don’t feel nervous. Do what you can do, get the ball, run with it, be exciting and go and cause problems.

“He has always believed in me. He likes quick wingers, players who can carry the ball and get people off seats. I was the perfect player for him.

“He gave me my Spurs debut, loads of games in the Europa League, and then stuck his neck out when QPR were struggling and took this unknown 21-year-old to help them get out of the relegation zone.

“He gave me my first taste of serious Premier League football. That spell is probably the reason why I ended up getting 13 England caps and 200 Premier League appearances. It was a pivotal moment in my career.”

He also revealed that he shared quite a good relationship with Villas-Boas despite his initial scepticism to the Portuguese coach when he arrived at the club.

The winger admitted that he was initially “a bit wary of a foreign manager” but claimed that changed after his first meeting with the former Chelsea boss.

“He (AVB) said, ‘I know who you are. I watched you play and I know what you can do. You’ll be with us (the first team) for pre-season.’ It was perfect. Him knowing who I was brightened up my day,” Townsend said.

“On a footballing level, he was someone who believed in me. He admitted he didn’t think I had a future at Spurs but after seeing me at QPR he gave me another chance. But he always gave me opportunities, whatever game it was. If there was a youngster in and around the first team, it was me. I was number one.

“I was playing in the under-23s on deadline day and in a press conference, he was asked whether he was disappointed that he didn’t bring in another winger.

“He said, ‘No, if you saw the performance of the youngster Andros Townsend yesterday you would know that we don’t need another winger.’

“For me, at 19 or 20 and hearing that, it was incredible. He was a big-name manager so for him to be talking positively about me in the press was massive for me.”

Finally, the England star also opened up on his relationship with Pochettino and suggested that he now appreciates the former Tottenham manager’s advice in hindsight.

The 28-year-old added: “It didn’t end well and people probably think we (he and Pochettino) hate each other but I’ll always be grateful. I was too young to take his messages on board.

“If he likes you, you would always be in his office. His first season, I struggled with confidence, form and fitness. I went from the main man at Spurs to struggling to get in the team.

“I was in the office every other week, going through clips. He spent so much time trying to get me back to where I wanted to be.

“I may have been bitter and angry at the time and resented him, but after time passes you realise I was in his office with him telling me how to improve.

“For the most part, we had a really good relationship. I needed a change, though — to move on, go down and take a step back up.”

Spurs Web Opinion

Townsend was never the same player after the injury he suffered towards the end of the 2013-14 season. He seemed to have lost half a yard of pace and a bit of sharpness, which meant that he wasn’t as effective. I still think he would have gone on to have a decent career at Spurs if not for his altercation with the fitness coach and his subsequent falling out with Pochettino.

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