Friday, May 25, 2012

Should We all Just Give Downing a Break?

He finished the season with only one assist in English football, and the laughable form of Stewart Downing (and, to be fair to him, several other of Liverpool's new signings) encouraged Liverpool's ruthless owners to show King Kenny Dalglish the door at Anfield.

However, Roy Hodgson still, for reasons perhaps best known to himself, opted to pick him in the England squad for the upcoming Euros. The Three Lions are not expected to win, regardless of Downing’s inclusion; the side are fifth-favourites for the title in the Euro 2012 tips.

These statements seem a little uncomfortable sitting side by side, and, with derision thrown in the direction of the new England manager ever since he decided not to leave Downing back in England, might it be the case that we are actually missing something?

Well, let us look at the plain, hard facts. Downing may not have been a hit at Liverpool, this season, but who did perform well consistently for the Reds this year?

Underperforming seemed to be the name of the game for much of the season for the whole starting line-up, and Downing actually created more changes for Liverpool than any other wide player.

The fact that the likes of Andy Carroll, the sort of player to feed off Downing's crosses into the box, were unable to convert in front of goal, perhaps should not reflect so badly on the winger.

What's more, who could Hodgson have picked in his place? Adam Johnson has been touted by many as being deserving ahead of Downing, but Johnson hardly featured for the title-winning Manchester City.

With a few more years of international experience under his belt, Hodgson perhaps was not as big an idiot as some have suggested, leaving the youngster at home in favour of a man who hasn't done at all badly in an England shirt, in recent years.

Downing's confidence looks shattered, there is no doubt about that, but in a new environment away from the unique pressures that seem to swirl around Anfield, he could yet prove his doubters wrong, by helping to fire England to the latter stages of the tournament.

If you do not fancy betting on one of the favourites, this summer, visit the Poland Euro 2012 odds page for more information on one-half of this year’s hosts.

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