Former winger Andros Townsend has opened up about his return to St James’ Park with Crystal Palace tomorrow, admitting that he enjoyed a ‘fantastic’ time with the club, but fears he won’t get a good reception from the Newcastle fans.
The 26 year-old arrived on Tyneside in the January last year for £12m, however, following our relegation that summer, he left for Crystal Palace in order to remain in the Premier League – also claiming it was necessary to keep his England hopes alive.
He was heavily linked with a return to the club in January, but that did not materialise for one reason or another and you get the feeling that ship has sailed as far as a potential reunion with Rafa Benitez is concerned.
Here’s what Andros has had to say ahead of return to Newcastle on Saturday:
“I’m not sure I’ll get a good reception (from the Newcastle fans) but I had a fantastic time there.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t end well, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time there with the fans and I’m looking forward to going there and see a few familiar faces.
“I’ll enjoy it.
“Ultimately, we are going there for business, to win a football match, and that’s all I’m focused on.”
A case of what might have been for Townsend and Newcastle – and I often get the feeling there’s an element of regret on his part too. He was playing the best football he’s played in his career during his short time with us and, at the time, was adored by the fans and was working so well in a Rafa Benitez era that was on the ropes but full of hope and potential.
He’s said to have been one of Palace’s better performers during their torrid start to the season, but I think it’s fair to say he’s never quite recaptured the form he found at Newcastle in red and blue.
He managed 4 goals and 2 assists in just 13 games for us and looked as good as I’d ever seen him (see stunning free kick for us below!), yet he’s managed just 3 goals in 50 appearances at Palace – and has cut a frustrated figure at times.
Fan footage of Andros Townsend's class free-kick… pic.twitter.com/1iixdeEu45
— BenchWarmers ⚽️ (@BeWarmers) April 30, 2016
He regained some form under Allardyce, and the Palace fans seem to like his energy and ability to run with the ball, but I really do think his career would’ve thrived that bit more under Benitez at Newcastle – hindsight of course, but he might be kicking himself he didn’t have a bit more faith in us before deciding to jump ship.
Do I want him back? I’m not sure I do now – and fellow Newcastle fans would join me in saying that – but there’s certainly a feeling that it could and should have worked out differently for him at NUFC.