By Caoimhín Doherty
Everton signed a number of players on a free transfer this summer – but none have had the impact Andros Townsend has.
And since his arrival, the former Crystal Palace star is fast becoming a hero, to the surprise of many.
The Blues were limited in the transfer window due to financial fair play, leaving it difficult to bolster their squad for the upcoming season.
They spent a total of £1.7 million in the window having only paid for Demarai Gray.
Townsend has netted five times for Everton so far and is knocking on the door of Gareth Southgate.
Making his name at Tottenham as a youth player, the winger left and signed for Newcastle in 2016 where he first linked with Rafa Benitez.
Townsend scored four times in 13 appearances for the Geordies but left for Palace, after less than a year following the Magpies’ relegation to the Championship.
After having signed on a free transfer from Palace this summer, Townsend has linked up with Rafa Benitez for the second time.
He is a manager who he has great respect for, describing the Spaniard as a ‘great man’ and ‘great man-manager’.
Everton’s new number 14 made an instant impact with an assist on the opening day in a 3-1 home win over Southampton.
He opened his own account in a 2-1 away win at Huddersfield in the League Cup 10 days later.
Known for his cannon of a left boot the skilful winger put it to good use at home to Burnley – finding the top left corner from 30-yards with a ‘Goal of The Month’ contender in a recent 3-1 win.
The former Palace man has scored a further three times for the Toffees – with goals away to QPR in the League Cup and at home to Norwich.
His most recent strike came last Saturday at Old Trafford, hammering home from just inside the box to finish off a superb counterattack.
The 30-year-old’s newfound form means his five goals in nine leaves his record equal with his last 79 games for Palace.
Focusing just on his league form, a tally of three goals and two assists this season has aided his new club in gaining their most points from their first seven games since the 2004/05 season.
Although Everton fans’ opinions on Townsend will be positive, initially his arrival was met by next to no excitement. How opinions have since changed!
Season ticket holder Gary McClelland admits he has warmed to the new signing.
He said: “When the rumours started, I was not too optimistic, if I’m honest.
“To me, it just seemed like another older player coming to Everton for a final paycheck.
“But I must admit, from the first game you can see he is not here to sulk, he wants to play football at the top level and so far, you cannot fault him.”
Fellow Everton fan, Tiarnán Doherty, expressed his delight at the new Everton winger outside Old Trafford on Saturday.
He said: “I love him. He seems to already understand what it means to be wearing our shirt.
“He knows what our fans want… he fights for every ball and he runs himself into the ground.
“It is no surprise he has become a fan favourite. As you seen today, he sent over two and a half thousand of us crazy today with that goal.”