Stewart Downing is enjoying life at Upton Park, following a torrid spell with Anfield giants Liverpool. Speaking ahead of England's upcoming fixtures with Slovenia and Scotland, for which he has been recalled by Roy Hodgson, the experienced midfielder revealed the lows he experienced while been sidelined for both club and country.
The 30-year-old has revealed he was left “hurt” by Kop boss Rodgers’ treatment and suggestions he needed to try harder, and knew, having been virtually pushed out of the club, that he had to quit the Merseyside outfit.
When asked whether being played at left-back was as low as it got, Downing replied: “I think so, yes. I was out of the team (at Liverpool) so for me just to play and get back in the team was a big thing.
“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."
Downing completed a move to Upton Park for £5 million in 2013 - a relief for the player, to say the least.
In 11 Premier League games so far this season for West Ham, he has scored two goals and assisted four others. In two years and 65 league games with Liverpool, he contributed only one more assist and a single goal.
“The West Ham move came at a good time for me and was a chance to go out and play football regularly and play under a manager who wanted me to play every week,” he said.
“I was honest enough to think it had gone,” he said. “I hadn’t been picked [by England] for two and a half years, so with the younger players coming through I thought Roy would go in that direction.
“It does hurt. You want to get picked for your country but I had bigger things to deal with at the time - I wasn’t a regular in the team at Liverpool. I was in and out, I had a difficult spell there."
Downing has been in inspirational form this season, a revitalised player since his move from the wing to a central attacking midfield position; providing the creative impetus behind West Ham's free scoring forward duo.
Allardyce’s decision to use the Englishman in this role can only be seen as a masterstroke. This, plus the installation of some self-belief has seen him match the efforts of the Premier League's biggest names.
|Stewart Downing||MF||West Ham||34||11|
|Ángel Di María||MF||Man Utd||28||9|
Downing has created the second highest number of chances in the top flight this term; that's more key passes than Cesc Fabregas, Angel Di Maria and his compatriot Raheem Sterling.
“Getting the West Ham move came at a good time, a new challenge for me, to go play week in week out," he continued. "It has helped my game and helped me get noticed again."
Having been recalled to Roy Hodgson’s England squad, Downing in serious contention to start his first international game for 30 months.