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Downing defends Reds' new boys

Stewart Downing insists Liverpool's new recruits should not be made scapegoats for the Reds' disappointing league form.

• Brewin: FA Cup final preview

Liverpool take on Chelsea in Saturday's FA Cup final as they look to claim their second trophy of the season.

But with Kenny Dalglish's side eighth in the Premier League, the likes of Downing, striker Andy Carroll, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson have come in for criticism.

But Downing believes the team will start to gel and perform consistently as a team next season.

"Others might take it hard, but it doesn't bother me," Downing said. "It's easy to look at the table and think just because it's not gone well in the league that it's the new players' fault.

"But that happens at every club. There are more than four or five players in a squad and we have all not done it, not just the new ones. It's as a team. Sometimes the new ones haven't played and we have lost games. It's a building process, it takes time, it's not overnight.

"There are seven or eight new players in the team and that's quite a lot. You're expected to come in and set the world alight but sometimes it doesn't happen. But there are positives. We are building a good team. To win the Carling Cup in the first season and potentially the FA Cup as well would be a great start."

Downing admits that Saturday's trip to Wembley has added meaning for him after the former Middlesbrough star revealed he has never forgiven Roberto Di Matteo for his goal for Chelsea against Boro in the 1997 FA Cup final.

"We all still remember Di Matteo's goal so early, going in off the bar - I've hated him ever since!" Downing said.

"It was my first ever visit to Wembley. Boro were massive underdogs and I was a schoolboy at Boro at the time and we'd got tickets off the club, who took us and our families down on the coach. It was a good day out but with bad memories of the final. What did I call him at the time? Nothing I could really repeat."


Kings for a Day - Football's Giant Killers - focuses on the unique David vs. Goliath aspect of The FA Cup. Using a mixture of behind the scenes footage from this year's competition, plus archive material from previous years, the film provides a unique insight into the psyche of the underdog which is so key to the competition. The show, to be broadcast on FA Cup Final day as part of ESPN's build-up to its live coverage of that match, features interviews with the likes of FA Cup giantkillers Ronnie Radford and Vinnie Jones plus legendary FA Cup commentator John Motson.

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