Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said on Wednesday that Stewart Downing’s recent form is enough to earn the 28 year old a recall to the England squad. Ben Twelves discusses his LFC career and asks if he has a future at Anfield?
A winger with pace, who could beat a man and possessed a good delivery was something which many Liverpool fans desired for seasons. So when Stewart Downing arrived at the club from Aston Villa the signing was warmly received by most Liverpool followers. Even if the sizeable fee raised eyebrows amongst most.
After thinking we finally had the wide-man we so badly craved, it turned out to be a disastrous campaign for new recruit who infamously recorded no goals and no assists throughout the entire Premier League campaign.
More frustratingly for some sections of the support, was the perceived lack of desire shown by Downing at times last season and eventually, patience began to wear thin amongst fans. However, a couple of goals and assists in the FA cup ensured he finished the campaign with at least some kind of contribution to his name.
A poor first season from Downing, which started with so much promise under Kenny Dalglish, left fans extremely disappointed considering the amount of money the club invested in bringing the winger to the club. A fresh start and a new season beckoned under the newly installed Brendan Rodgers and it was Downing who scored in Rodgers’ first competitive game in charge, with an arrowed strike from 25 yards after cutting inside, away at Gomel, in the Europa League 3rd qualifying round first leg.
The temporary swapping of positions from left wing to left back was a clever move from Rodgers, as it took away the pressure and constant scrutiny that Downing was clearly under to deliver. But after losing his place in his natural position in the team to young starlet Raheem Sterling, Rodgers told the England international that he could leave the club during the January transfer window.
Following that turbulent period, Downing responded to the knock-backs in exactly the right way. So far this season, in 17 league starts, he has 3 goals and 3 assists recorded and he grabbed a further 2 assists and goal during our Europa League campaign. This is closer to the 7 goals and assists, Player of the Season award winning form that prompted Liverpool to spend big money on bringing him to the club.
The question though, is even if the winger matched that tally, would it be enough for him to stay?
Despite being more productive in helping the team score and create goals, it is the new desire to be involved in general play, taking up clever positions in pockets of space to link play and work-rate off the ball that has seen Downing become a regular name on the team-sheet again and receive praise in recent weeks from fans, Rodgers and captain Steven Gerrard alike.
With the team currently in good form; scoring goals and winning games there is a freedom in the play that allows players to express themselves, something that perhaps Downing has benefited from as he looks to save his Anfield career. If the improved form that we all hoped to see from the beginning is continued until the end of the season, what’s next for Stewart Downing?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Would you keep Downing?