Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted that Stewart Downing left the club for financial reasons and that he wanted to keep the winger. Widely regarded as a £20 million flop, Downing left the club for West Ham in the summer, but Rodgers defended the Englishman’s Anfield record and conceded that he was a player that he wanted to keep. In the wake of beating Downing’s new side – West Ham – 4-1 on Saturday, Rodgers also expressed regret to the Liverpool Echo over the tough time endured on Merseyside by Downing’s fellow West Ham player Joe Cole, pointing to his injury record as a reason for his lack of impact.
“Stewart was arguably a player I didn’t want to lose to be honest,” said Rodgers.
“It’s one where after a difficult start he showed in the second half of last season what he could do and was in the team nearly every game. I thought he got better and better.”
“Throughout pre-season he played a prominent role and then towards the end of pre-season he had to be sold in order for us to maybe invest in other players.”
“That was the disappointment really because when he was called upon he had showed up really well.”
Downing played 65 times for Liverpool before his £5m summer move, and Rodgers continued: “He ended up moving on and he’s a good guy. I like Stewart a lot. Every time I’ve seen West Ham this season he has been one of their best players.”
On Cole, who also made the move from Anfield to Upton Park, he said;
“The way things went for him in his first game – getting sent off – was a signal of how things were going to go for him here.
“He’s a good player but at this stage of his career he wanted to go and play regularly. West Ham was maybe his best opportunity to do that.”
Downing has created 27 chances this season, but has only one assist. This means that only 3.7% of the chances that he has created have been converted.
Downing Chances Created