Stewart Downing has admitted his failure to score a Barclays Premier League goal in his debut season for Liverpool is a source of embarrassment.
Downing is a bit of an enigma. Signed for £20million from Aston Villa by Kenny Dalglish last summer, the 27-year-old not only failed to find the net - he did not manage an assist either.
At the same time, he was the only outfield player to make some sort of on-field contribution to all nine England games during 2011, has played in two out of the Three Lions’ three matches this year and is in line to hold off the claims of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the left-sided midfield berth in England’s Euro 2012 opener against France in Donetsk on Monday.
With Downing it seems the glass is either completely full or totally empty.
Naturally, he does not view the situation in quite such simplistic terms and bristles with indignation at what the statistics appear to say about his contribution.
However, there is no getting away from that zero in the goals column. And it is one he does not like.
“The goal thing is,” he said, when asked directly if his failure was embarrassing. “The fact is I didn’t get enough goals. I hit the post and the bar many times and missed a few chances so I was disappointed, especially when I scored goals for Aston Villa the year before.
“Sometimes you are on a run and get goals; sometimes you don’t. I try to score and maybe next season I will get 10 or 15. Football is like that. But I am disappointed I did not score enough.”
Embarrassing is too strong a word to describe the FA’s reaction to Ashley Cole’s absence from a mayoral function in the centre of Krakow last night.
Cole was the only one of the 22 remaining members of Roy Hodgson’s squad to miss the event, a short walk from England’s team hotel, and it was put down to the Chelsea defender “resting”.
The lack of a suitable explanation left open a number of theories, including the potential for Cole being injured, although the Football Association insisted this was not the case.
Nevertheless, Cole’s absence weakened slightly England’s hopes of being “good tourists”, although Club England managing director Adrian Bevington was able to concur with mayor Jacek Majchrowski, who said he hoped for a Euro 2012 final between Poland and England in Kiev on July 1.
“We hope that wish comes true,” Bevington said. “We are trying to achieve success on the pitch but it is also very important for us as a national association and a football team to be good ambassadors for our country.”