Townsend: I’m learning my role in Pochettino’s new system
12:00 26 September 2014
Andros Townsend is convinced he can be a hit in Mauricio Pochettino’s new system but says he needs time to reach top form and give the head coach what he is looking for.
After a strong start to last season for club and country, Townsend’s campaign was disrupted by injuries – the last of which ruled him out of the World Cup.
The winger has found himself in Spurs’ second-string side so far this campaign, with his three starts coming in the Europa League and Capital One Cup, alongside two substitute appearances in the Premier League.
Townsend has been playing on the right flank in Pochettino’s 4-2-3-1 system – and his role seems very similar to how Andre Villas-Boas set his team up, with the two wide men coming inside.
However, the 23-year-old says there are important differences and he is having to adapt his game to suit the new tactics.
“I prefer being on the right side,” said Townsend. “The manager’s formation is new to me but I’m learning. We’ve had some chats about how he wants me to play and I’m trying to implement that when I go out on the field. It’s going to take time but I know I can fit into this formation.”
Asked how Pochettino’s system differs from Villas-Boas’, the winger replied: “He likes his players to come inside, to get through on goal more as opposed to staying wide and taking on the player one v one.
“It’s definitely something I’ve got to learn but I’m young enough and I’m hoping to learn so hopefully I can get there.
“I think I’m improving in every game. Of course I’m not where I want to be at the moment but I’m getting games under my belt. I’m slowly getting my fitness better and with every game I’m improving.
“Hopefully, with a few more games in the Europa League and the cup games, I might be ready to challenge for a Premier League spot.”
Townsend came through the youth ranks at Tottenham and was loaned to nine other clubs before making his breakthrough at Spurs.
Another product of the Lilywhites’ youth system, Ryan Mason, has also had to bide his time before announcing himself at White Hart Lane this week.
Mason made his Tottenham debut as a 17-year-old in November 2008 but has played just four games for the Lilywhites since then, having loan spells at Yeovil, Doncaster, Millwall, French club Lorient and Swindon in the meantime.
Now 23 years old, the midfielder impressed Pochettino in pre-season. And, although an injury ruined his chance to stay in the first-team squad at the start of the campaign, he came off the bench in Wednesday’s Capital One Cup tie against Nottingham Forest and promptly hit a 30-yard equaliser – his first goal for the club - as Spurs came from behind to win 3-1.
Townsend said: “It’s only when Ryan Mason came on that we opened them up. I think he deserved the goal and his performance and hopefully now he can be a big player for us.
“Everyone knows Ryan’s a talented player, he’s just had some unfortunate injuries. I think he was our best player in pre-season and then he got injured - but now he’s back to full fitness and everyone saw how good he is.
“Everyone nowadays knows they’ve got to be patient and go out on loan and bide their time – and now I think he’s got a manager here who believes in his ability, and hopefully his talent will shine through.”
Tottenham are through to the last 16 of the League Cup – which was their last trophy in 2008 – and they have been given a home draw against Brighton.
“We’ve got a big squad, we’ve got a young squad,” said Townsend. “I think the manager made 11 changes and you saw we had international players in the squad, so we’ve got strength in depth and hopefully the ‘second team’ that the manager puts out can go far in this competition.
“It’s another home draw, it’s another Championship side. We can’t take anything for granted. Nottingham Forest was a home draw and a Championship side and they took us all the way so we know it’s going to be another difficult game, but one we’re looking forward to.”
Tottenham now turn their attention to tomorrow’s north London derby against Arsenal at the Emirates, a fixture they have lost on the last four occasions in the league and FA Cup.
“Of course I want to be involved, but you’d have to ask the manager whether I’m going to be involved,” said Townsend.
“I know, even though we’ve not been in the best form of late, that all the boys are confident. We’re a confident group so we’re not going to be going there thinking we’ve not won in four years.
“We’re going to go there with confidence sky high and knowing, believing we can get a result if we’re playing well.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs