When Andros Townsend was announced on Merseyside as a new Everton signing in the summer, many Toffees supporters were hesitant and even annoyed at the capture of a 30-year-old winger who had been released from struggling Crystal Palace.
The Rafa Benitez renaissance in the blue half of Liverpool has been a breath of fresh air for the supporters who have so far enjoyed their start to the season. They have won four games out of seven and lost only once in the Premier League as they share the same amount of points heading into the second international break as Manchester City and Manchester United. Their fine start has been down to a collective team effort of buying into Benitez’s philosophy but experienced wide-man Townsend has been one of the star men in the club’s explosive start to the campaign.
The former Eagle may have been forced to leave the nest at Selhurst Park but he is spreading his wings at Goodison Park and his form in the opening stage of the campaign has come as a surprise to many. The ex-England international has been directly involved in five of Everton’s 13 goals in the league this term, providing three goals and two assists. It may have been five years since the duo worked alongside each other at Newcastle United, but the pair’s strong working relationship has been clear to see with Townsend’s displays on the pitch this term.
The Toffees are currently one point better off than last season’s start under Carlo Ancelotti, who abandoned the club when Real Madrid came calling in the summer. The supporters felt their dream of restoring their former glory died when the Italian departed but Benitez is starting to instil belief in his doubters over his once-red history. Regardless of his previous employment, the Spaniard has his stars collectively playing for one another and getting positive results on the board. Townsend has been an integral cog to the Everton machine and he is playing with great execution. Benitez has him full of confidence and he has rolled back the years with some of his work on the field.
He may have a key role for Everton at the front of the pitch, but the winger has also shown a great work ethic out of possession. Townsend has made eight interceptions for his side in transition, recovered the ball on 35 occasions and has a 46% tackle success rate. This epitomises the way the Spanish boss wants to play, especially his attackers. He wants them to contribute equally into the defensive work as they do on the attack.
The man who came through the ranks at Tottenham Hotspur has already proven to be one of the steals of the summer on a free transfer. No one would have expected that after being released by Palace that he would then get a move to Merseyside, but it just shows the faith Benitez had in his ability and it is already paying off. Sometimes in football all it takes is the right mentor and system to have a player undergo a major transformation in a quick turnaround and Townsend is showing that, alongside fellow winger and summer signing Demarai Gray.
It’s already been highlighted that Everton is going under a renaissance period under Benitez, but personally, Townsend is going through one of his own and he’s been rediscovering the fine form that earned him 13 England caps between 2013-16. Everyone underestimated Everton’s transfer business in the summer, but it could turn out that they had one of the best window out of all the clubs in the Premier League.