Upon his departure, his time will be looked back on with fondness, won’t it? Stewart Downing may not have been at the top of his game for Middlesborough in recent years, but there is no denying his influence at the Riverside Stadium across his 12-years there.
Downing has not been on top of his game, particularly in the last year at Boro but, that may be heavily to do with the lack of consistent starts since the turn of the year. It is a shame as that may prove telling in how he is viewed when the day comes where he does move on. Obviously, he will go down as a Boro legend, but his contributions could be slightly underappreciated.
The 34-year-old has not had the remarkable impact in his second spell that he had in his first, and that is understandable given his age during the two periods on Teesside. Since being relegated from the Premier League, though, he surely would have wanted to have a greater influence in the final third for this Boro side.
Everyone is aware he is not the high-flying winger he once was, but he has not excelled out wide this season and Pulis would have been better moving him inside more often to use his experience to be a creative spark in the midfield, like how he has been used in previous years.
Ahead of the recent loss to Bristol City, MailSport reported that Downing is free to start for Boro again, having not begun a game since December due to a clause in his contract meaning if he was to start one more game, an extra year would have been triggered on his contract.
That clause can now be avoided through an agreement with the club and Downing has now started the last two games for Boro. But, it does speak volumes for what may happen in the summer. With consistency in his game time, he could prove to be a pivotal figure in the remaining games but beyond that, it is very much a guessing game.
The aforementioned report suggests Downing is on £35,000 per week and with Steve Gibson attempting to cut down the wage bill, it seems likely he will move on and play his football elsewhere.
If so, some Boro fans may regret not appreciating what he has done for the club in his final games, so while he is a Boro player, he should be backed more than ever.
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