They love a cult hero in Newcastle. The impassioned St James’ Park faithful appreciate nothing more than a hard-working but flamboyant entertainer, someone to get them off of their seats and generate the vociferous support of 50,000 Geordies.
From Malcolm Macdonald to Alan Shearer, Phillipe Albert to Paul Gascoigne, the list of charismatic and revered footballers to have graced the hallowed turf of St James’ Park is long and numerous. And no where else, other than perhaps striker, is this better exemplified than on the wing, the sight of a pacey and skillful winger flying down the sidelines in the black and white of Newcastle one of the best in football.
Whether it be David Ginola or Keith Gillespie from Keegan’s great entertainers in the 90’s, or Nolberto ‘Nobby’ Solano and Laurent Robert after them, the position of an effective winger for Newcastle United has arguably not been properly filled for a number of years now.
[ffc-gal cat=”newcastle-united” no=”5″]
But with the recent signing of Andros Townsend from Tottenham Hotspur that could all be about to change.
Mike Ashley has certainly been splashing the cash in the North-East, the purchase of Townsend just one of a number of acquisitions made in order to try and keep the club in the Premier League. The former Spurs man will line up at Goodison Park in a match that bet365 ensures you of outstanding live betting. In Townsend Newcastle have someone who could prove a difference maker, one who the fans could quickly “fall for”.
Having dropped out of favour at Spurs under Pochettino, the 24-year-old England international will hope he can resurrect his career in the Black and White of Newcastle Utd. Never truly establishing himself at Spurs, Townsend actually enjoyed his best campaign under first Andre Villas-Boas then Tim Sherwood, during the 2013-14 season.
The following season, Pochettino’s first at the club, still saw Townsend gain good amounts of first-team football, featuring in about half of Spurs’ league games over that time. Utilised more in Tottenham’s Europa League campaign, he was often employed on the right despite being predominantly left-footed, where he would invariably cut-in from the flanks and attempt to fire off a (often wayward) shot.
His pace and energy were never really in question, but the predictability of his inside move and lack of quality meant he never had the sustained impact either he or the club hoped for. In fact, many of his most eye-catching performances have come for the National side, particularly during the early part of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, although these were again from the right.
But if, as I suspect, Steve McClaren chooses to utilise him on the left then we may get a better glimpse at what Townsend really can do in this league. Possessing the pace and burst necessary to beat an opponent, he actually has great crossing ability with his left foot and on the large wide expanses of the St James’ Park pitch should get plenty of opportunity to showcase these talents.
With Aleksandar Mitrovic steadily improving his form for Newcastle, the addition of Townsend onto the wing will only help his cause, his sizeable frame and heading ability providing an excellent target for the young winger to aim for. Of course, he can still cut infield should he wish to fire off a shot or he can play on the right as previously noted, giving manager McClaren plenty of options to mix things up in midfield. But most importantly, he will be hoping for a regular starting-berth and consistency.
At a great age, at a great club and with an “arms round the shoulder” kind of coach, Townsend possesses all the tools and is in a perfect place to shine. With so many players labelling themselves as “No 10’s” these days and so-called “wingers” more often than not cutting in from the flanks, the addition of Townsend to this ever expanding group of quality players at Newcastle could see him re-establish the position of genuine winger for both club and country.
Sure it’s a risk, but if he can fulfil his potential the Geordie faithful may just have found themselves a new hero.