Andros Townsend said he never saw Crystal Palace having the season they had under Patrick Vieira after his exit last summer.
Townsend left Selhurst Park following five seasons as a first-team regular, making 185 appearances for the Eagles before being allowed to depart on a free transfer to Everton last July upon the expiry of his contract.
He was one of several first-team players to be shown the exit door in south London as the Eagles sought to take the club in a new direction, investing heavily in new signings that brought the average age of the squad right down as well as hiring World Cup winner Vieira to replace the outgoing Roy Hodgson.
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The result was a season of adjustment littered with promise, with Palace reaching just their fifth-ever FA Cup semi-final under Vieira’s stewardship as well as managing a 12th-place finish in the Premier League. There were also memorable wins along the way over Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City as the club proved their new direction was the right move.
By comparison, Townsend, who turned 30 this month, had an indifferent season at Goodison Park, starting the 2021/22 campaign strongly with eight goal involvements in his first nine appearances for the club before suffering an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury in March that ruled him out for the rest of the campaign.
The Toffees struggled with their form throughout the season and ended up needing a dramatic 3-2 comeback win over Palace on Merseyside in May to secure their Premier League status for another year, ultimately finishing 16th – their worst top-flight finish in 18 years. Now, as Townsend aims to recover ahead of the new season, the midfielder has said he never expected Palace to perform so well under Vieira and that he would have loved to play under the Frenchman at Selhurst Park had the circumstances been right.
Speaking to talkSPORT, he said: “To be honest what they have done is spectacular and I did not see that coming I must admit. Obviously, I would have loved to play under Vieira but I also accept that the club were looking to take a different direction and bring in young players and I accept that, even though I feel really young. I mean the likes of [Ebere] Eze and [Michael] Olise are very young and with so much promise so I really accept all that.”
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