Andros Townsend signed for Crystal Palace on 1 July 2016.
I came across this article (see below) that I wrote on The Mag when he jumped ship from Newcastle that day, his personal statement to Toon fans helping to spark my reaction.
When he left, Andros Townsend said he was torn apart when deciding to jump ship after only 12 starts, saying that he had no choice but to leave for his own personal ambitions – particularly with England. This was despite stating he was sure Newcastle would be back in the top tier at the first attempt.
I posed this question to him (in the article) at the time, saying Townsend had to ask himself the following:
‘In 12 months time would Andros Townsend rather be a Newcastle player in the Premier League playing in front of fifty thousand people under Rafa Benitez OR a Crystal Palace player under Alan Pardew’?
I didn’t like Sissoko or Wijnaldum strolling away from the scene of the crime like it had nothing to do with them but at least they were leaving for clubs potentially capable of doing something.
That wasn’t the case with Andros Townsend, he simply joined the first/only Premier League club to show any interest.
Even though the season is only seven matches old and anything can still happen, it is difficult not to take pleasure in what has actually proved to be the reality for Andros Townsend.
It was Newcastle United who actually got the winger back into the England squad/team and he missed out by a whisker from going to the 2016 Euros, yet since joining Palace he has played only 28 minutes for his country and we are only three days short of a year since he played for the three lions. I have as much chance of being on the plane to Russia next summer as Andros Townsend has.
For Newcastle, the winger had his best ever season despite only starting 12 matches, scoring four league goals, as well as a couple of assists.
Since going to Palace his Premier League record reads only three goals and four assists in 43 league appearances, including zero goals or assists this season…
Townsend even gave as one of his reasons for going to Selhurst Park, that ‘Hopefully Alan Pardew can take my game to another level…’
“I was loved by the fans (at Newcastle) and the manager was getting the best out of me, but at the end of the day I needed Premier League football at this stage in my career.
“So then it was sitting down and finding the right club for me and I think that (joining Crystal Palace) was the easiest decision out of the lot of them.
“Hopefully he (Alan Pardew) can take my game to another level and build on the great start to the season they had last year.”
Yes, that went well, giving up working with Rafa Benitez to join Alan Pardew – the former Newcastle boss proving to be the worst performing manager in all four divisions in 2016, before eventually being sacked.
It is also a kind of sweet irony that after quickly going through Sam Allardyce and Frank de Boer as well at Palace, Andros Townsend has now been landed with the manager who in the end decided not to take him to the Euros last summer.
The winger definitely has some ability but at the age of 26 has still only managed 82 starts in the Premier League and now finds himself at a club that is surely heading only one way. Maybe the fact he was prepared to turn his back on Newcastle after what the club, Rafa, and the fans had given him in such a short space of time, tells us why he has achieved so little in his career.
If he had stayed at Newcastle then a combination of Matt Ritchie and himself would surely have torn up the Championship and came back into the Premier League with great momentum, plus I believe, every chance of being in the current England squad, and possibly even team.
Christian Atsu has done ok and indeed scored one more goal and grabbed one more assist than Townsend this season but I think the Palace winger has/had far more scope.
He returns to St James Park for the first time since deserting 15 months ago and hopefully the performance and result (and atmosphere) will be a further reminder of what a bad selfish decision he made last summer.
What I wrote on The Mag on 1 July 2016:
Andros Townsend is now a Crystal Palace player.
The player having inserted a release clause in case Newcastle were relegated, then happily signing for the first Premier League club that have offered him a way out of the now Championship club.
Releasing a personal message to all Newcastle supporters, Andros Townsend sends his ‘sincerest thanks’ and claims that it was an ‘incredibly difficult decision’.
However, there is surely only one question that Andros Townsend had to ask himself.
‘In 12 months time would Andros Townsend rather be a Newcastle player in the Premier League playing in front of fifty thousand people under Rafa Benitez OR a Crystal Palace player under Alan Pardew‘?
This isn’t to say that Newcastle are guaranteed to bounce straight back but Andros Townsend clearly thinks they will, whilst the bookies make United an odds-on chance to do so.
Spending over £25m already, Newcastle are pretty much guaranteed to be the biggest Championship spenders this summer, will end up with the most expensively assembled squad and have the biggest wage bill.
All of these advantages leave Newcastle nailed on to do the job first time.
Not to mention of course that in Rafa, NUFC obviously have the best manager in the division.
Pulling all that together, if Newcastle go up and even if Palace survive in the Premier League, could Andros Townsend honestly look ahead to next summer and think he has made the right choice?
Andros Townsend personal statement to Newcastle fans:
‘I would like to put on record my sincerest thanks to the manager, board and fans of Newcastle United for the warmth and support they have shown me since I joined in January.
Please believe me when I say that this has been an incredibly difficult decision and one I have not taken lightly.
I signed for Newcastle fully aware of the task at hand and it was my absolute desire to keep the club in the Premier League.
I hope the fans could see that from day one I gave everything I possibly could during the season and never once gave up on the fight for survival. That’s why it was so hard when despite those efforts we fell short.
The future for Newcastle is very bright, with some great young players and an outstanding Manager who I have the utmost respect for.
However, after talking at length with the Manager and Managing Director I have made the decision to leave the club based purely on footballing reasons, with my wish to remain in the Premier League.
I remain humbled by the support of the fans during my time at Newcastle and wish everyone associated with the club success for the future.
The fans deserve a winning team and I fully expect to see the club promoted back to the Premier League at the first attempt.