Middlesbrough put in a toothless performance at the Riverside on Saturday against Championship leaders Norwich City, in a game that exposed the gulf between the two sides.
Stewart Downing was, once again, left out of the starting lineup, with the club’s reluctance to trigger a one-year extension to his deal should he play, again putting politics ahead of points.
However, according to the Northern Echo, Downing has today waived the extension clause in his current deal, in a bid to play in the final run of games, and help to secure Boro’ a place in the play-offs.
The job seems to be a bigger task than it should have been, with results at the weekend seeing the Teessiders slipping out of the top six at a time when their form has dipped badly and put any play-off football in grave jeopardy.
Ironically, it is a sign of the commitment — something that the rest of the team seem devoid of — Downing has towards Boro’ that he has sought to do something that will enable him to play.
And the fact that he wants to do this for a club that are making it clear he is not in their long-term plans — regardless of which division they end up in next year — should not be lost on Boro’ fans.
It should see the player restored to the starting lineup immediately, and considering how crucial tomorrow night’s home game with Bristol City is, all politics and unrest must be put to one side, with everything and anything that can help get the side three points being used.
It is not rocket science to see what needs to happen.
Boro’ need goals. To get goals, they need a supply line. And whether you are a fan of his, or not, Stewart Downing can get the ball into the box and danger zones that will help them score.
He must play tomorrow, and Boro’ must win tomorrow.
Defeat is unthinkable for the club, and with so many teams in the hunt for the play-offs — including many on great runs of form, unlike Pulis’s side — it is likely to end any hopes of a Premier League return for another year.
What are your thoughts of the Downing contract situation ahead of the Bristol City game tomorrow, Boro’ fans? Would you start him? Let us know your opinion…
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