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Andros Townsend keen to keep proving Rafa Benitez right and Everton critics wrong


Everton new boy has heard all the talk about his focus but insists he’s champing at the bit to show Goodison Park there’s still plenty in the locker

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New Everton boss Benitez quizzed on past ‘small club’ comments

Rafa Benitez knew not to listen to those at Everton who worried Andros Townsend was no longer fully focused on playing football.

That his burgeoning media career meant he already had one eye at least on what was coming next.

The Goodison gaffer had seen enough in 90-odd minutes at the end of last season, though, to recognise the hunger Townsend had at 25, when they were together at Newcastle, was still there at 30.

And the fact the winger has hit the ground running suggests Benitez did indeed know best.

“Rightly or wrongly, the misconception when you’re a footballer, when you try to do something outside of football, is that you’re taking your eye off the game,” said Townsend.








Andros Townsend jumped at the chance to link back up with Rafa Benitez at Everton after their time together at Newcastle
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Image:

Getty Images)



“One of my first conversations with the manager was that, ‘The people at the club tell me you’re not focused any more, you’re not dedicated any more because of your media work’.

“But he said he watched me in my last game of the season for Crystal Palace against Liverpool and we were 2-0 down, and he saw me chasing around like it was a cup final.

“He said he knew then the fire was still there, so he has no problem in that sense.

“I didn’t need rejuvenating, I feel like an 18, 19-year-old breaking through with a lot of people questioning whether I’m good enough to play for this club.





“It ignites that fire within you, the competitive nature, the desire to work hard and prove people wrong, so I’m loving every minute of playing for Everton.”

That’s evident from his early performances and, with Townsend on the right and fellow new boy Demarai Gray on the left, Everton, who face Burnley tomorrow, have started the season with seven points from a possible nine.

Townsend added: “When the manager came in, the first thing he said was, ‘We need wingers’.

“And when me and Demarai came in, he was still saying, ‘We still need wingers, we need more crosses into the box, we need to play to the strength of the team’, which is Dominic Calvert-Lewin.








Everton have made a strong start under Benitez with seven points from a possible nine
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Image:

LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)



“So we have been working tirelessly on balance and crosses not only from the left, which Everton did well with last season, but also the right with me chipping in or Alex Iwobi or Seamus Coleman, and we have done that well at the start of the season.”

Townsend admits Benitez’s tough love gets him going.

He said: “One of my biggest memories of him at Newcastle was his attention to detail, he never accepts anything being good enough.

“During my spell at Newcastle, I scored four goals in 12 games but still on a Monday morning it was, ‘You didn’t do this, you didn’t do that, you didn’t run in behind, you didn’t get in the box’.

“I need that, I thrive on that and he has been like that since day one.”








Townsend and Gray have been told to get balls into the box for Dominic Calvert-Lewin
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Townsend’s own coaching methods were less combative as he took part in McDonald’s Fun Football programme.

He added: “This is the second event I have done with them and it’s incredible, especially at a time when grassroots football is on and off because of Covid.

“The last 18 months, a lot of kids haven’t had a steady football season.

“This is a pressure-free environment and, if you like football, you should come on down.”

Andros Townsend is supporting McDonald’s Fun Football. Free sessions for five to 11-year-olds are available nationwide this autumn. Visit www.mcdonalds.co.uk/funfootball to sign up and play





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