Stewart Downing. A Boro boy at heart, and loves the club. Yet, he was one of the players some of the supporters turned their back on when times got tough in the top flight last season. He was brought back by Steve Gibson for at the time seemed to be a lot of money for a player who left West Ham, when he was arguably in the form of his career, to re-join Boro to be our star player and lead us to the big money league.
The division football supporters in England crave. The Premier League. Which, no matter what supporters say about his contribution in that season, he was able to do and was key at times of the season and did help us on the way to promotion.
It was obvious Aitor Karanka and Downing didn’t see eye to eye when going into the Premier League season. If it was up to Aitor, I don’t believe Downing would have still been at the club. However, he stayed and in light of Boro’s reasonably good start to the Premier League, Downing got himself 1 goal and 2 assists in the opening 10 games. Which was more than Adama Traore and Gaston Ramirez contributed to the team.
As the season went on his game time decreased, and when he was he was played as a wide left player, in more of a wing back role, in Karanka’s defensive style of play. I think it’s fair to say, Downing didn’t have the legs to get up and down the pitch for 90 minutes, which made Downing looking like a player who is well passed his best before date.
I’m sure Stewart Downing was glad to see the back of Aitor Karanka, and pleased the season ended. Although, going into the summer Downing must have been questioning whether he will be in Monk’s plans, after several news sources claimed he was free to leave.
Although, similar to Rudy Gestede, Fabio Da Silva and Adama Traore all have worked hard and created more added options for Monk. Downing featured against Scunthorpe in the League cup and impressed, then also came on as a substitute in Saturday’s draw against Preston North End, which again saw him play well. Downing is obviously working hard off the pitch, but can he still do a job in the famous red and white shirt? I believe so.
There hasn’t been a day gone by that I haven’t seen a Boro fan comment on the latest Boro tweet with “Sign a Number 10!” or “Announce a winger”, both must be up there with the most tweeted about Boro topics this summer.
Yet, many believed Downing was set to leave. However, that is somewhat in the past now, as we look forward to the future. Stewart Downing when at West Ham was one of the best central attacking midfielders in the Premier League, and was close to getting another England call up. But, hasn’t featured for Boro many times in that particular position, however when he has, he has been the best player on the pitch.
We have been linked with Jota from Brentford in the past few days, with Boro seemingly having a firm interest in adding the services of the Brentford number 10. Although, for me this doesn’t mean Downing will be completely out of the first team picture. He is currently one of a very limited amount of wide players at the club, whilst also having the ability to play in a more central role as well.
People may think I am giving Downing the benefit of doubt, although last season I was one of the supporters who didn’t want him to play, as he didn’t fit Karanka’s system. Well….he did defensively, but as mentioned earlier was unable to attack as often.
With every day that goes by, it is looking increasingly likely Downing will remain a Boro player, and I will be more than happy if he stays. I have faith in
I have faith in Monk to get the best out of Downing, who could prove to be a crucial squad player on and off the pitch this season. Monk’s more offensive nature will give Downing a lot more freedom than he was given under Karanka, which will allow him to push further forward.
I also want Downing to turn around what at the moment would be a horrific way to bow out from his childhood club. I would love him to become loved by the supporters again, and make him feel like he belongs at the Riverside. Let’s not boo him because of the restrictions on his playing style he was given by other managers, but let’s support the lad and try and get the best out of him.
As all Boro supporters know, if we can get the best out of him, there’s not much better in the division.