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Andros Townsend may not be everything Newcastle United are hoping

Looking at Andros Townsend from a Spurs fan's perspective.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

In some of the least-secret news of the January transfer window, Newcastle United are closing in on the transfer of Andros Townsend from Tottenham Hotspur.  We know that the word on the tweet has shown us that he is in Newcastle and was having a two-part, two-day medical.  There has been one happy little tweet out there from the Mirror (Preferred Media Partner) saying he's signed a 5-year contract, but it also says there is more information on the main Mirror Football twitter account... where there is not.

The announcement is meant to come today at some point and it seems unlikely that it derails at this point unless Townsend has undergone a voluntary amputation of one of his legs or something similar.  While everyone has been waiting, we have taken a moment with our good friends over at the excellent Tottenham Blog Cartilage Free Captain to try to find out more about Andros Townsend.  Special thanks to Dustin Menno for taking some time out to answer our questions!

1.  Let's get the elephant out of the room.  How did Andros Townsend go from rising star "one of our own" to being sent to Premier League Siberia?

Andros was one of the first players to break through to the first team from Spurs’ academy since Ledley King, so I think there was a great deal of excitement to see a Tottenham lad make it at the club at that time – he was essentially the herald of players like Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, and Tom Carroll and was the first to come out of what we now consider a "golden age" in Spurs’ academy. He’d been at Spurs since he was 8, and he made it despite a series of managers in Harry Redknapp and Andre Villas-Boas who barely glanced at the youth while they were in charge. He looked pretty good during his loan stints, especially his loan to QPR in 2013. We were all kind of getting excited watching him.

But there were a couple of things working against Andros at Tottenham. First, he just doesn’t fit in well with Mauricio Pochettino’s tactics. Andros is closer to a traditional English winger than anyone else on the squad. He’s got gobs of pace, a directness to his game, and a propensity to shoot from anywhere. What he DOESN’T do so well is drift inside, play narrow, and recognize pressing triggers. That made him super frustrating to watch under Poche as it was like trying to fit his large forehead into a round hole.

And the other thing is the oft-mentioned confrontation with fitness coach Nathan Gardiner. We still don’t know all the details, but that was apparently the catalyst for his exile to the U21s. Pochettino demands loyalty from his players, and he’s not afraid to banish players that step out of line. He did it with Etienne Capoue, Younes Kaboul, Emmanuel Adebayor, and now Andros. Townsend just wasn’t one of "Poche’s guys" and that more than anything was what did him in.

2.  Townsend is Newcastle's third attempt in the last 18 months.  Will he be the player that will allow us to play Moussa Sissoko consistently in position for the first time in his Newcastle career?

It’s a bit of a puzzle as to how Andros will fit in at Newcastle. On the one hand, I’m not sure he’s an immediate starter with Wijnaldum and Sissoko as Newcastle play now. On the other hand, Toon also just bought Jonjo "Voldemort" Shelvey and sold Chieck Tiote. So I dunno. Maybe Shelvey moves into the pivot beside… uh, somebody, with an attacking band of Wijnaldum, Sissoko, and Townsend in front?

The advantage of Townsend is that he can play on either flank, which makes him a useful player, especially if you like to play wide. He can get behind defenders with his pace, but needs to work on his finishing.

3.  We're not good on the offensive end, but we're worse on defense.  Daryl Janmaat jumps into the attack on a regular basis... does Andros track back?

LOL, no. This was one of his biggest knocks during his time at Spurs: he’s pretty good on offense, but he utterly fails to track back on defense much of the time, and he’s pretty worthless in the press. Which makes him a poor fit at Spurs, but potentially very useful for Newcastle, if they can get a fullback behind him that won’t get his ankles broken on a counterattack.

4.  Steve McClaren wants to build a possession-based team that is deadly on the counterattack.  From an outsider's perspective, it seems like Andros could fit the bill.  Does he fit this idea as much as a cursory look at his stats suggests he will?

Nope, Andros is built for the counter. He’s zippy. The biggest problem he has right is his propensity to blaze shots over the bar from about 35 yards out. Every so often he’ll hit one of them, but as we say at Cartilage Free Captain, his biggest target is Row Z and those people get a lot of Andros Townsend balls hit at their heads. If he sorts that out, he could be a hit at St. James’.

5.  Would you have given up on him if you were in a position of power at Spurs Tower?

Yeah, I think it was time for him to go. He’s a Tottenham lad and I’ll always like him for that, but he wasn’t getting games even before the Gardiner Incident™ and it’s been clear for a while now that he’s not a good fit for the way Spurs want to play. He’s a full England international, young, and still hasn’t hit his ceiling. He’s probably going to be good for Newcastle. But it was unfortunately time for him to go. We wish him well.

6.  I recently saved an 8 month old Flame point Siamese cat who had broken his femur and required surgery to save his leg.  This cost me multiple thousands of dollars.  Newcastle United are getting Andros Townsend for somewhere around £12m.  Who is getting the better deal?

£12m seems high at first blush for a young English dude who hasn’t played in months, but he’s an England international and apparently a favorite of Roy Hodgson, and he does have his uses. Add to that the "England premium" and the fact that he’s a home-grown player, and £12m doesn’t seem that out of the realm of possibility. West Brom still wants £25m for Saido Berahino, after all.

D’awwwww, kitty! Saving a kitten’s life is always worth the cost. (Post pictures!)

(ed. Well, ok - since you asked.  His name is Spicy McHaggis (yes, after the piper from the Dropkick Murphys).  On the flip side of his naked leg is a little over a dozen stitches closing up from his surgery to insert plate and 5 screws into his femur.


Thanks again to Dustin for answering our questions.  Keeping in mind the answers are coming from someone who was ready to give up on the player, it's still not very encouraging.... but hey - it's not like we lost a "Double Secret Derby" 6-0 or any... oh, yeah.