Former boss backs Downing to succeed at Anfield

Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has backed new signing Stewart Downing to succeed at Anfield.

The Frenchman, who was Downing’s manager at Aston Villa last season – a season that saw the Englishman deployed in a central role and enjoy arguably his best season in the Premier League said “Stewart will fit in very well at Liverpool.”

“I like him very much as a player and I am certain he will be a very big asset to them.”

Houllier spent six years as manager at Liverpool from 1998 – 2004 added “Stewart is a very modern player. He can attack and defend and was involved in so many goals for Villa last season.

“He is one of the best crossers of a ball in the Premier League with (either his) right or left foot and is very skillful.

“He operates well on either side. I played him on the left but he also likes to play on the right, where he can cut inside and pose problems.

“Stewart is very, very professional. He takes on board everything you tell him and is very intelligent about the game.

“He picks up the details that can be so important. He has played for England but I now think he is ready to go on and confirm and consolidate his career as an international.

“I very much enjoyed working with him at Aston Villa.”

Downing has been given the number 19 shirt, most recently occupied by Ryan Babel, and took part in his first training session at Melwood on Monday. He is expected to feature against Hull City on Saturday.