What Are We Going To Do About Flynn Downes?

2 Apr, 2024
written by AD Hammer

 

What Are We Going To Do About Flynn Downes?

With it being a Bank Holiday yesterday, and both the Mrs and youngest having just left for a week away with family, I thought it would be a great opportunity to do absolutely fuck-all and watch a bit of Flynn Downes playing for Southampton.

The guy has undoubtedly had it tough at his beloved West Ham. He’s clearly not fancied by the manager, who does seems to have a ‘bee in his bonnet’ about certain players and Downes seems to be one of them.

If we jump back two summers, his transfer came out of nowhere. He certainly wasn’t a widely linked player, having only been mentioned once or twice by ITK’s who like to spread their nets far and wide, the ones who like to announce later that they ‘told us so’.

If reports are to be believed, he was at Palace for a medical when the call came from us out of the blue. Being a lifelong West Ham fan, the opportunity was too good to turn down and he got his dream move.

I rather suspect that he wasn’t a ‘Moyes signing’ and the opportunity came around because the rebuild window was moving very slowly. If memory serves me right, we had only signed Moyes primary target – Aguerd – and pressure was building as they hadn’t even finalised the Areola loan to buy signing.

He was given very few minutes in the beginning, despite our poor form, and his chances were thwarted further when Moyes publicly belittled his ability/fitness – just what a young player stepping up from the Championship needs to boost his self-belief!

A couple of man-of-the-match performances in Europe weren’t even enough for him to get Premier League starts, despite Soucek struggling badly with form at the time.

When he did get some minutes, he was either brought on late in games from the bench and/or started as an attacking midfielder, which for many was bizarre. Although he did get a handful of chances during a poor Premier League campaign and he didn’t exactly grab those opportunities.

So, after hearing that he was very well thought of by Southampton fans, and having only seen him once earlier in the season, I thought I’d take a look at him in the promotion clash against Ipswich.

He played well, really well in my view. He sat and patrolled the central defensive midfield area and won the ball on countless occasions through tough tackling and great positional awareness. I would go as far to say that he controlled the midfield for much of a game that Southampton dominated, a sentiment I also saw echoed by an Ipswich fan-site this morning.

I missed the last five or ten minutes of the game, when Ipswich got their winner, but up until that point he was doing great. He didn’t do anything flash on the ball but was neat and tidy and seems to operate really well in a possession based system.

It looks as though he was sorely missed by Southampton during his recent spell of injury. During the five Championship games of this year that were prior to his injury, Southampton won four comfortably and drew one. While he was out of action, they lost all four. Since his return, they have won 2, drawn 1 and lost only last night’s game away to the table toppers, which they should have won.

The above suggests that letting him go out on a season long loan, without a recall option, was a big mistake. Especially when you consider what has happened with Phillips since, and the huge money paid to get him in.

However, as much as I want a new manager in as soon as possible, I can also see why he’s not a Moyes player and perhaps not suited to a counter attacking system. He isn’t blessed with pace, or high energy like a Declan Rice or Alvarez, and he doesn’t cover lots of ground like a Soucek or Ward-Prowse. He seems to base his game on positional sense, winning the ball back frequently and very rarely giving it away.

This makes me think that he will not be a highly valuable asset if we stick with our current manager, or if we appoint one who plays a counter attacking style. If we move to a possession based system then I would suggest he could do a very good job in our first team.

So, as impressed as I was with his performance yesterday, it is perhaps ‘horses for courses’. In my opinion, the answer to the question ‘What are we going to do about Flynn Downes’ is – it depends on who our manager is next season and what system he wants to implement.

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