Downing: Villa switch vindicated
The England winger joined Martin O'Neill's side in the summer after Middlesbrough were relegated into the Championship last season. A host of Premier League clubs were interested in Downing, but it was Villa who stole a march to land the £12million midfielder. And the 25-year-old claims his decision to move to the West Midlands has been justified as the Villans look to end a 14-year-wait for silverware when they do battle with Manchester United at Wembley this weekend. "This is why I moved to Villa," Downing, who missed the start of the season with a foot injury, told The Sun. "I came for European football to start with and this is making up for it. "We're fighting for fourth, we're in a Carling Cup final and in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. It couldn't have gone any better. "But this is a big game - big for the club, big for the players." Downing, who had the unsavoury experience of Boro's UEFA Cup final defeat to Sevilla in 2006, maintains that he and his Villa team-mates are keeping a level head in the build-up to the first domestic cup final of the campaign. "We are trying to be as normal as possible but we are travelling down a couple of days before so it's not quite normal," the winger admitted. "I've got maybe 30 people going - parents, uncles, a few mates, close relations. "Manchester United being favourites suits us. "We've done quite well against them this season. "We've taken four points off them and not many sides have done that. "I hope that it's at the back of their minds - that we're a team to be feared." Fear is a word associated with England boss Fabio Capello, who is sure to be at Sunday's showpiece with a vast array of Three Lions hopefuls on display. And Downing reckons there are more contenders for a place on the plane to South Africa in Claret and Blue than in Manchester Red. "I get on well with United's England lads but I don't think there will be any friends on Sunday. "Villa's England players could outnumber United's. Strange! "It's pleasing for the boss, the club and the area that we are getting noticed. It's a sign we are turning into a top team. "It would be nice to get into the squad but Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard are in there - and I never thought I'd be competing with Gerrard."