Rejoice, rejoice...the bullet has been dodged
Downing is joining Villa for £12M. You can't see me but I'm currently tap-dancing on my desk and typing this by way of a wireless keyboard. I'm getting a funny look from Watkins in accounts, but I don't care.
£12M is a lot of money for a player who is far from exciting and hardly overly exceptional at one particular thing. And we've over-spent far too many times in the past to have our fingers burnt again. Yes, he is a committed professional who offers a bit of width, more than decent passing ability and has a wealth of Premier League experience. I guess he's a consistent performer lacking the sexy gene. He'll do the job you ask of him, which is the reason why Martin O'Neill has parted with the money he has.
So am I right to dance on the table and wave my elephant at straight-laced Watkins?
David Bentley was a quintessential big money hyped signing, one that we complete very often and with relative ease. Player of the moment becomes a player at Spurs. Downing has been the perpetual solution to our left-side problem for an absolute age. We've gone in there several times with bids, even been accused of tapping up the player. We've shown interest time and time again, if you believe what you read - and in this case, it's believable. Now Downing might not be box office but he's much hyped, which polarises opinions as some can't see what it is he has that warrants all the interest.
Simple fact of the matter, when it came down to it we didn't place a bid. Boro, relegated. Boro, willing to listen to offers. Boro, giving the green light to Spurs. And we chose to turn our heads, possibly looking towards Aston Villa for the brand new solution. Which ironically is where Downing will end up.
As much maligned as he is, he will do a good honest job for MoN - and he might have done a reasonable job for us.
I'm sat back down now. Apparently I have a surprise HR meeting momentarily, so let me wrap this up as quickly as possible. Downing would have given us something we haven't had since Ginola. A left-winger, be it not one of the swashbuckling ilk that we do love down at the Lane. But still. An out-and-out left sided crosser of the ball.
We didn't go for him, which means one of the following:
1) We have another left-wing target. Whether its Young and whether Villa are going to let Ashley go considering that Downing is out injured until October (I think, feel free to correct me) is possibly unlikely. Also, the assumption is being made that just because they now have two left-wingers its one too many. Remind yourself of Villa's collapse last term. With two strong wingers for the left-hand side and Milner covering the right - O'Neill has depth in squad. The counter-argument is that having two England internationals fighting for one place in the lead up to a World Cup isn't great for either player.
If it's not Young we want, I have no idea what the other left-sided option is. Which might mean...
2) Luka Modric will remain on the left-hand side, drifting in and orchestrating play to his liking as he dinks into centre-mid just behind the forwards. I know there is a call to play him in the middle alongside General Wilson. I'll like him there too. But this particular conundrum will remain unknown until we make a signing that relates to the left-side or central midfield. Until a significant signing is made, we will be left in the dark. Ooh pun.
3) There's always Gareth Bale for the left-wing. Jinx and confidence/injury issues aside - once he has recovered from his operation, he has to be re-introduced into first team duties with gentle handling. The kid has talent and bags of potential. That's no sound-bite. He has the qualities to do well for us and deserves our support in way of development. The reason we almost ruined him is thanks largely to throwing him into a crap side with zero self-respect, leading to the infamous 2 points 8 games debacle. Fact that Bale is also out for a while does have me questioning this option, because it would mean that Moddle remains on the left-hand side.
It's all a bit confusing now. For this to happen that has to go there and this has to move here and he has to do that and blah blah blah.
I guess, in conclusion (my boss just had words with security who are now walking towards me with menace) we haven't gone ahead and done something that everyone would have expected us to do. Which to me is bucking the trend. No need to rush in. We are aiming to sign a player we want and want 100% and not a % less.
It's all about what style and tactic Harry has in mind, and the club should aim to have the right players for the start of the season based on his strategic ethos.
Harry does have one, right?
I'll take a punt and say: Spurs bid for Young - will be a headline in the next 5 days.
One last comment. Watkins is a jobsworth.