Andros Townsend is a bit thin-skinned, it would appear.
The England and Tottenham Hotspur winger received a hearty round of criticism following his latest national team call-up — perhaps with good reason (two league goals in 14 appearances) — most notably from former Arsenal midfielder and current Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson.
On March 19, Merson tweeted the following (tweet has since been deleted) regarding Townsend’s inclusion in the England team to face Lithuania and Italy this week:
“If Townsend can get in, then it opens it up for anybody. We are not picking players who are playing well for their clubs.”
Townsend didn’t appear in England’s 2016 European Champions qualifier against Lithuania, but was the second-half substitute that scored the equalizing goal against Italy, an impressive strike from outside the penalty area.
Following the game, Townsend was quick to respond to Merson’s criticism, seemingly believing he had proved the 47-year-old wrong by simply scoring a goal during his 21-minute appearance.
— andros townsend (@andros_townsend) March 31, 2015
Since Tuesday’s game, Townsend has doubled-down in the media, explaining that his banter-iffic response wasn’t a spur of the moment retort, but a premeditated dig which had been on his mind for two weeks. Townsend, from the Independent:
As soon as the squad was announced two weeks ago, that tweet has been going over in my head. As soon as the goal went in, I was just desperate to get that tweet out. [Merson] said it when the squad was announced – that I should be nowhere near it.
“It didn’t really annoy me, it had kind of just given me the extra incentive to silence a few critics and hopefully I have done that – as I always have done. Of course, I have still got things to prove to people – I think you can never stop proving things to people – but I think every time I have put on an England shirt I have done myself justice, I have done Roy Hodgson justice and the nation justice.”
That is pretty crazy. Townsend, a professional player, readily admits that while he was still on the field of play, with the game going on, he wanted to run back to the locker room to post a tweet in response to someone who said something bad about him.
If Townsend is willing to admit his desperation to hit Send on that tweet, what other snide comments must he — and other professional players — compose in their Twitter client of choice, only to hit the Back button and discard forever?
Furthermore, one goal does not make a player, therefore Merson’s original opinion of Townsend isn’t officially proven “incorrect,” which is a conclusion that everyone is entirely too quick to jump to these days.
Someone, somewhere, at some point, said, “Let your play do the talking.” This seems an apt piece of advice for Mr. Townsend. Or, don’t, because this is a pretty enlightening look into the mind of a footballer.