IT may not have been the world’s most entertaining match. But Liverpool did what they had to do to gain an FA Cup win over Stoke.
Cup games are all about winning and it doesn’t matter how good the game is. The punters aren’t bothered. The league, though, is different as that’s more about consistency.
Liverpool will hope that Stewart Downing has now gained a taste for the adulation you get from scoring and can grasp the nettle.
Some players take a while to settle at a new club, while others such as Jose Enrique and Craig Bellamy don’t have much bother at all.
Jordan Henderson is taking his time, but he is only young and was still learning the game at Sunderland when Liverpool took a punt on him.
He is athletic and intelligent and may turn out to be a good player but, apart from maybe recently against Arsenal, he hasn’t had an outstanding match yet.
Downing is different in that he is older, an England international and shouldn’t have taken so long to get to grips with it.
I have a theory that if he starts a game well, then he plays well. And if he doesn’t start well, he won’t play well. Very much like Emile Heskey, Downing is a confidence player.
That said, wide players will always drive a manager mad.
If they aren’t creating chances or scoring goals, people will wonder what they are doing. That’s the way it has always been.
Luis Suarez took the plaudits and Downing scored the winner, but for me the most impressive aspect of Liverpool’s march to the FA Cup semi-finals was the performance of Jay Spearing.
Like many people, I have been impressed with the diminutive midfielder this year. He has really kicked on.