Andros Townsend’s continued inclusion in England squads despite not playing for Tottenham tells you everything about why English talent stagnates.
Football is full of many little enigmas and wouldn’t it be duller game without them, but surely the continued selection of Andros Townsend for England is one of the most baffling of recent times?
It’s not that I have anything against Townsend really. On his day, he is an exciting player. I’d also say that for a spell last season he was probably a good selection for England.
I just can’t for the life of me work out what he has done since then to merit his repeated selection.
We are talking about a player who has played 112 minutes of Premier League football this season, and hasn’t managed to score or deliver a direct assist. We are talking about a winger who, according to Opta, has completed one successful take-on all season.
Okay, so Townsend grabbed a goal in an England shirt last time the squad were together, but he hadn’t done much to warrant that call-up either and the goal was against San Marino. I know England are pretty bad, relatively speaking, these days, but I’m not sure we are so bad to be making decisions based upon stuff that happens against San Marino.
The treatment by England of players such as Townsend also surely, at some point or another, has to come down to a developmental one too.
Even if you’re Townsend’s biggest fan and have no doubts whatsoever over his talent, where is the incentive for him to develop it? He isn’t learning anything sat on the Spurs bench or playing against minnows in the Europa League.
But why would he feel he needs to learn anything either? At the age of 23-years-old, he’s at a big club and he’s an apparently immovable part of the England set-up. England are telling him he’s a finished product and established player, despite him being neither, and that’s hardly an incentive for change.
Meanwhile, you have players like Nathan Dyer, for example, a regular in a Swansea side that sit far higher in the table than Spurs and has three goals to his name already this season, actually producing and improving yet seem to be barely even considered for an England call-up.
In fact, if you want to talk about English wingers in the Premier League, even Sunderland’s Will Buckley, signed from Brighton this summer, has a stronger statistical case for international recognition than Townsend, and you’re unlikely to find many Sunderland fans all that impressed with him.
Nothing will actually change, of course. Townsend will continue to get call-ups ahead of players who merit it more (or at all), he’ll continue to stagnate whilst sitting on the substitute bench, and England will continue to complain that English players don’t develop as they should.
It’s the endless self-defeating cycle of English football, and Andros Townsend is just as big a victim of it as anyone else.