Liverpool winger Stewart Downing has revealed that his recent improvement in form is down to some frank conversations with manager Brendan Rodgers.
“It was very open,” said Downing, 28, of his discussions earlier in the season with Rodgers. “I wasn’t in the team or playing and he said to me maybe I could look elsewhere because I need to play at my age.”
Despite Rodgers’ apparent willingness for Downing to move to pastures new, the £20 million signing from Aston Villa was keen to prove himself to the new Liverpool manager and he continued to wait his turn, even if punters who bet on football have backed him to leave.
“I didn’t totally agree but I understood where he was coming from. Obviously he needs players who are going to play and not be sat about, but I thought in the back of my mind if I get a chance I can prove myself to him. Luckily enough I did in the next week or so after that.”
Having started the season as a bit part player, and even been moved back into defence, Downing now seems to have settled in the Liverpool side and, after coming in as injury cover, he is now a fixture on the left flank. Last season Downing famously didn’t contribute a single goal or assist in Liverpool’s league campaign, but, after breaking his league duck against Fulham in December he has started to look like a much more potent threat and much of the credit for this must go to Rodgers.
“If I’m doing well he (Rodgers) will say so and if not, I’ll be pulled and told what I need to do,” Downing said to Premier League betting news reporters. “It’s the same for all the players. It’s good for me and that’s how I like it, to be told if it’s right or wrong.”
As Downing has finally found some form in a red shirt, so Liverpool have started to show some consistency and climb up the table. If Rodgers can continue to get the best out of Downing and his teammates then it might not be too late for them to sneak into a European spot come the end of the season.