West Ham winger Stewart Downing has been one of the surprise players this season.
Apart from Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea, the England international has been the best creator of chances in the Premier League. This represents a significant shift in the career of the 30-year-old, who joined West Ham for around £ 6 million in 2013. Downing was one of the big-money signings for Liverpool in 2011 after he moved from Aston Villa for a reported £ 20 million. The arrival of Brendan Rodgers, though, immediately put him out of favour.
Towards the end of his Liverpool career, Downing was not deemed good enough to play further forward and he was used as a left back. The recent England call-up after a string of good performances have shown that Downing can deliver the goods when used in the right way. The 30-year-old has recalled his tough time at Anfield where he spent two years and made less than 100 appearances. England manager Roy Hodgson backed the 30-year-old to deliver for the national team, as he believed that he was not here just to make numbers and was on merit.
Downing recalled that many of his Liverpool teammates made fun of him after he was played at left back for several matches. “At left-back it was obviously difficult, but it was a chance to get back into the team for me, so I had to go along with it. I wasn’t happy playing left-back. It is not my natural position. But I knew from then it was the time for me to move. I was getting signals other players were coming in, and I was getting used at left-back when I was a winger. I think you know when the writing is on the wall for you under a manager or at a club,” said Downing.