I’m taking back the Valentine that I had for Richard Dunne and passing it back to Stuart Downing. I’ve always been a sucker for defense. The problem was, I didn’t see much defense in yesterday’s game. If you’re winning 5-1 and you’re into injury time, I can forgive you for not running full speed to the ball. But when we’re not even ten minutes into the match and I see Burnley players running around and through all of you, well, there’s no excuse. I’ve applauded Villa’s defense, I’ve argued it up in pubs after just one beer, I’ve stated it’s the reason we could beat United on Sunday. After all this, what do you give me? Were there interesting shapes in the clouds above Villa Park yesterday? Because your heads sure didn’t seem in the game.
Richard, I’m pinning this one on you. You were my chosen one of the season, the one who earned my accolades and even turned me into an Ireland fan, for goodness sake. I’ve made photoshops (or rather, requested they be made). You have a poem on my facebook page—what more would you like? And so the higher the climb, the quicker the fall, and you have been knocked off the pedestal.
I admit I’m a bit of a fickle girl. Downing caught my attention when we signed him, but out of sight, out of heart for those first few months. Then he scores in his full debut for Villa, in the Carling Cup match against Pompey, and I confess I changed my computer wallpaper to reflect his celebration. Come January, though, and Stuart became the unfortunate target of much of my cynicism, especially when Emile Heskey was off the field. Being new to football, it took awhile for me to learn of Downing’s reputation as England’s unrealized potential. But that was exactly how he seemed to me—often fumbling passes and generally wearing a deer-in-the-headlights look.
Score two goals inside three minutes (and nearly complete a hat-trick) and here I am, rashly throwing out "I love yous" once again. That first goal was pure beauty, especially coming as it did off Stuart’s weaker foot. The second was a bit of a giggle, and even he seemed a bit surprised that it went in. And there really should’ve been a third, but for once Brian Jensen managed to be in exactly the correct position to block it.
A bit of flash and a good thromping of Burnley and I am pinning my allegiance to little baby face. This is tough love, Richard, and I hope it’s the kick in the arse you need to focus on Sunday’s game. Because let’s face it, even the sparkly Stuart can’t distract me from knowing that your dependability is essential.
Or perhaps I should just go buy a chain with the letter D to dangle from my neck.