Having seen his Liverpool team-mate make the first steps to getting his career on track at Upton Park – the much-maligned figure of Stewart Downing has followed Andy Carroll in taking the journey south.
Downing was an undoubted disaster at Anfield – so much so that he had to wait until 18 months into his Liverpool career before he produced his first assist. He did at least manage to claw back some respect in the second half of last season, adding five assists and three goals, but by then the damage had very much been done.
So poor was the ex-England man that he had become possibly the player most ridiculed in the English game over the past two years. Whilst Downing-bashing has almost become as fashionable as the Ipad, the truth is that hidden under the jokes and banter there is actually a decent footballer trying to get out.
Prior to his big money move to Liverpool, Downing enjoyed his most successful campaign for a number of years – contributing seven goals and nine assists to the Aston Villa cause. It is this sort of form that Sam Allardyce will be looking to unlock at Upton Park and there is no reason to suggest that we won’t see the best of Downing again this season.
As is the case with Carroll, West Ham’s more direct and robust style should be more suited to Downing’s Strengths – whilst he should also receive a greater guarantee of first team football. In truth the intricate passing game of Brendan Rogers was never a good fit for Downing, with Allardyce putting a greater focus on getting balls into the box his assist potential should rise – particularly given the target men that he will be delivering to, such as Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan.
Further to that, outside of the Anfield pressure cooker the wide man should feel more at home, in truth the move to Liverpool proved too much for the 29-year-old – particularly given the rather hefty and unrealistic price of around £20 million pounds that he was attempting to live up to.
In truth, Downing was never going to be quite good enough for a top six side, particularly one that was experiencing plenty of struggles. The move to a safe mid table side who play to his style should suit him down to a tee and just maybe he can at least repair some of the damage done to his reputation over the previous two years. For West Ham it will be a signing that might raise a few eyebrows and might not excite the Hammers faithful, but nevertheless this could prove a shrewd piece of business.