Downing flaps in goldfish bowl

Life under the Liverpool microscope is not suiting the £20m winger, who is unlikely to start cup final

Liverpool's Stewart Downing has admitted that moving to the club has given him "a culture shock" and subjected him to levels of pressure greater than anything he had expected.

Downing took heed of a message from the Liverpool manager, Kenny Dalglish, that Carling Cup final starting places were at stake for the side who faced Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup last Sunday and, arguably, his performance in the 6-1 win went some way to atoning for a poor display in the recent 2-1 Premier League defeat at Manchester United. The 27-year-old winger, whose experience of Carling Cup finals has not been memorable, is likely to be edged out by Craig Bellamy for a starting place against Cardiff City on Sunday, but he said he hoped to play "some part in the final".

Downing said he had had "some good games, some indifferent ones" at Liverpool since his £20 million move from Aston Villa last summer.

"It has been a bit up and down this season," he said. "I have been on the bench sometimes, whereas at other clubs I have been used to playing every week, more or less. That has been hard to get used to. It has been a little bit of a culture shock, almost. I expected pressure but I didn't expect it to be as big as it has been. You are under the microscope every day; every game people are looking at you. But that is Liverpool and that is why you want to be here. You have got to blank everything out. You want to be at a club that is challenging every week and is pushing you on as a player."

After a bright start last summer, Downing has struggled to demonstrate that he is a game-changing player worthy of the fee Liverpool paid for him. Bellamy's contribution – he was surely the best Premier League signing of last summer – has served only to highlight the England player's struggles. It is why Downing's place in the starting line-up is not guaranteed.

"The easy thing would be to just spit the dummy out and say there is no point hanging around," Downing said. "All you can do is work hard and keep training well. Kenny has stressed from day one that if you don't train well, you won't be in the team. Kenny sees everything. He watches training every day and if you are not doing well or spit your dummy out, then you won't be picked. You have just got to give him a problem by training well and make sure that he picks you."

Having watched from the bench as Middlesbrough beat Bolton in the 2004 Carling Cup final, and played in Aston Villa's defeat by Manchester United two years ago, Downing has not enjoyed his two League Cup finals. Neither do Cardiff hold good memories. Downing's Boro were expected to beat them in an FA Cup quarter-final at the Riverside in 2008 but Peter Whittingham and Roger Johnson took City through.

"I know what they can do so we have to be prepared," Downing said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album