Tottenham loan move simply proving an inspired one
Gareth Bale may well have been one of Tottenham Hotspur’s outstanding performers yet again over the weekend, but there was another man contracted to the Lilywhites who enjoyed arguably an even better Premier League showing. But he wasn’t anywhere to be seen during Spurs’ 3-2 loss to Liverpool during the weekend.
Instead, he was busy terrorizing Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland side at Loftus Road, playing a huge part in boosting Queens Park Rangers’ efforts against relegation and bagging himself a stunning 25-yard volley in the process. Indeed, despite his mere 21 years, it’s been a long time coming for Andros Townsend, but Tottenham’s prodigious winger looks to have finally made his breakthrough.
With the fervent speculation that shrouded itself around both Spurs and QPR’s transfer dealings at the end of the transfer window, Townsend’s move to Loftus Road generally managed to slip under the radar.
With fans in North London fixated on whether the ever-elusive Leandro Damiao might finally conclude a long-awaited move and those in the west side of the capital too busy trying to figure out what part of the ground Peter Odemwingie was trying to lurk into, little appeared to be made of Townsend’s arrival.
And in many ways, for those not connected with Spurs in any way, the chances are you probably might not have heard of Townsend at all; not for supporters in the top-flight, anyway. But for fans of clubs within the Football League, you may well be a little more familiar with the Chingford-born winger’s name.
Because while his move to Queens Park Rangers may well be the one that proves to be his breakthrough spell, it comes after a whole raft of scattergun loan moves to clubs outside of the Premier League. And in a twist of irony, it could well be the man that played his part in overseeing what were often perpetually frustrating spells away from White Hart Lane, who could also prove to be the one who sets him on his way to career in the top flight.
Given the raft of backroom staff involved with the club and its youth setup, it would be naïve to attribute the bulk of blame – if indeed there is any to be had – on Harry Redknapp for the sheer amount of times Townsend was farmed out on loan during his time in charge of Spurs. But for as useful as the loan system is in developing younger players, the fact that Townsend is now playing for his tenth club in his ninth loan spell seems somewhat staggering.
Of course, amongst the frustration there has of course also been success. The 22 appearances he made for Leyton Orient in League One back in 2009 as a 19-year-old showed the Tottenham staff that he had both the talent and the determination to really push on as a professional. Two years later and a spell under Kenny Jackett at Millwall saw Townsend really show supporters what he was capable of with a string of superb showings for the Lions.
But amongst the smatterings of success, there’s also been an apt feeling of frustration throughout Townsend’s progression and the accusation that his parent club could have been a little more careful with their choice of loan moves most definitely holds gravitas.
A move to Watford at a time when the then-Malky Mackay led side had no real need for his talents proved to be a complete waste of time and a bizarre spell at Leeds United last year – in which he claimed he wasn’t settled at the club only to join Birmingham City on loan the next day after leaving Elland Road – begs the question why he was even sent there in the first place.
Although while the suitability of his destinations on loan has often been something of a variable, the one constant has been Townsend’s ability to provide his adopted sides a real cutting edge and in Redknapp’s appointment as QPR boss, he’s finally got the stroke of luck he’s needed to display his skills on the Premier League stage.
Long, hard playing time in the Premier League is of course the Holy Grail for any young footballer breaking through and Townsend’s more than served his time gaining his apprenticeship in the Championship and beyond in order to earn that playing time. Yet there have been plenty before him who have done the same, only to find game time in the top tier all too elusive.
But as Townsend has proved since his move to QPR, this game is all about taking your chances and since he’s finally got his big opportunity to shine, he hasn’t disappointed. And for as much as Redknapp may have ultimately had faith within his ability, while the loan deal to bring him to Loftus Road might not inhabit too much in the way of a financial risk, it was certainly still a sporting one.
Their former manager doesn’t always cut the most popular of figures within White Hart Lane, but for however begrudging it may be, Redknapp deserves a certain amount of praise for handing Townsend his opportunity to shine.
After his blockbuster performance against Sunderland, the onus is now on Townsend to try and replicate that showing against Aston Villa and show his parent club, plus anybody else that may be watching, that he can sustainably provide the goods in this league.
It’s been a bumpy ride for Townsend to get his moment in the spotlight, but sometimes it’s not about how you manage to get there; just as long as you do.