Andros Townsend has been saying his goodbyes to the club he has been affiliated with since the age of 8. It seems safe that this time around reports of agreed fees and imminent moves may actually come to fruition – thanks, apparently, to the intervention of Mauricio Pochettino – putting Newcastle one midfielder closer to Steve McClaren's dream lineup... whatever that actually looks like.
With one of the worst scoring records in the Premier League and the third worst defensive record, a move for Townsend at this point seems somewhat misplaced, but with the continuous failings by the club in finding a right-sided impact player is somewhat a necessity. On a grander scale, what really matters is if Townsend gets us any closer to fulfilling our coach's dream. At the end of November, Steve suggested what his vision of what he would like to see on the pitch would be:
Possession-based football, in McClaren’s eyes, wins games. Starve the opposition of possession, and eventually you will get rewarded.
In fact, he has come up with his very own ‘five-second theory’ on the subject. Keep the ball for as long as you can, lose possession inside the opposition’s final third, then win it back and hit them with a rapid, suckerpunch attack.
We have seen movements toward applying this idea in this January window. Jonjo Shelvey looked like he was going to single-handedly solve everything against West Ham in his first match with the club, holding the ball, passing the ball and generally looking like everything we had been missing in the middle of the park. However, what looks to be the new preferred partnership in central midfield (Shelvey and Henri Saivet) struggled mightily against Watford. If we assume that Watford was a hiccup born of trying a system that didn't work against a less-than-full-strength Hornets side in the FA Cup against their full-strength side, how does Townsend fit in?
As an inverted winger who prefers to cut inside instead of gaining the end line, he should slot directly in to our preferred overlap idea with Daryl Janmaat. This could come at the danger of being even more one-sided than we have been over the last forever, but at least the pieces should fit in that idea a little better. He will (ostensibly) allow Moussa Sissoko to move back to a more central role which could take some pressure off of Henri Saivet to settle as quickly as he would otherwise. He is a highly accurate passer (every year passing at a >80% clip although some years were ... light in the appearances) which could help in the possession idea and will be useful on the "rapid, suckerpunch attack" that McClaren is looking for. Now... if he can just get the strikers scoring, we may be in good shape.