Tottenham’s Andros Townsend and the cringe-worthy over-reaction to his England performance 13

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I wonder if it’s like this in other countries? I wonder if, in Spain, Germany, Brazil or Argentina, they’re equally incapable of reacting proportionately to the flicker of promise?

I don’t want to be accused of raining on anybody’s parade, and I don’t wish to detract from what was a good performance from Andros Townsend last night, but I can’t help but cringe at some of the hyperbole which has been written in response to what he did at Wembley against Montenegro.

Come on, the way we clutch at raw players as a symptom of our national team’s recovery is borderline embarrassing. Maybe if we praise Townsend, or Jack Wilshere, or Ross Barkley loudly enough, we won’t be able to hear the rest of the world laughing at us? Is that the logic here, because it seems to be working.

What I see in the Tottenham winger at the moment is a lot of promise, and a hell of a lot of potential, but regardless, he is still someone with a lot to learn about how to use his attributes and how to deploy his ability in a way that decides games. Anyone who disagrees with me isn’t watching closely enough.

Yes, I’m being very negative, but I can’t be the only person who’s bored of definitive opinions being formulated off the back of good results against inferior international sides - and, sorry to say it, that’s what Montenegro are. Where’s the appreciation of that, and where’s the sense of context? If you read Henry Winter’s article in The Telegraph today, for example, you could be forgiven for thinking that Winter was penning a love letter to a long-lost beau - our press are doing a very efficient job of making us looking very, very small as a footballing nation.

I’m delighted for Andros Townsend, and from what I know of him he seems like a very genuine person and professional, but the narrative from last night should be ‘well done, good for you’ and not ‘get the anointing oil and the MBE ready, we’ve got a world-beater in our side’.

How many times do we have to learn this lesson before we employ cautious optimism over hysteria?

The media have been frequently criticised for being too harsh on our players, but this over-praise syndrome is almost as damaging: we’re validating players at international level long before they should be, and it’s happened again, and again, and again. Hopefully Townsend enjoyed his night, feels proud of his first England goal, but is also able to block out all the rhetoric and focus on his need for further development.

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