IT’S been a long time in coming but on Saturday Stewie Downing put in a shift. He got a bit over-excited after his goal and went over-board but otherwise it was probably his best performance in a Liverpool shirt.
Worryingly his manager wouldn’t allow himself to be drawn on whether the wingers’ time at the club was genuinely up.
In my opinion though, his time at the club should still be up. His record reads like a bit part player: 67 games, 4 goals & 6 assists. That works out to a goal or assist every 6.5 games; that isn’t the form of a player that has done enough to earn his stay at the club.
We’ve always known that Downing wasn’t blessed with the kind of talent that would make him a world-beater, but from his form at Boro and then Villa, we could all see he was a consistent, solid winger. But we haven’t seen any of that yet and we don’t have time to sit about waiting for him to reach that level.
In just a handful more games, Maxi Rodriguez scored almost three times as many and provided just as many assists and he cost the club absolutely nothing, not to mention that he was probably only earning a third of what Downing is on in terms of wages at the moment.
With the two young winger-cum-strikers in Tom Ince and Daniel Sturridge looking likely to sign, Downing will definitely find his chances limited what with the form of youngsters like Suso, Shelvey and Sterling and that is the way it should be as well.
What Liverpool are trying to build, it would seem, is a team of young players that have the potential to improve but can slot straight into the first team right away. They have a ‘sell-on’ value, will be primarily British (unfortunately) and will be expected to reach a certain level on a regular basis.
Either way, that is one of the reasons why I don’t think that Downing has a future at the club. He is neither up to the required level to put in that sort of performance he offered up on Saturday every week, nor is he of the age to offer us anything long-term; at 28 he is very much – supposedly – reaching the peak of his powers.
So, as I jokingly suggested last week, if he is genuinely peeking the interest of the likes of Arsenal, amongst others, then his recent performances can’t be doing either the club or himself any harm and if we can get anywhere near what we forked out for him in the Summer of 2011, then we should still bite the hands off of anybody that offers it. In the meantime though Stewart, keep it up!