Stewart Downing will be hoping that he can now finally wake up from his Anfield nightmare.
The England winger spent two frustrating years at Liverpool, where he was unable to replicate the form in which he found himself in at Middlesbrough and Aston Villa.
A difficult first season with Kenny Dalglish saw the 29-year-old fail to find the back of the net or make an assist in 36 Premier League appearances. But now that he has signed for West Ham, he will be optimistic that he can get his career back on track, and once again become a contender for the England squad.
Downing’s most prolific league campaign came at Villa Park during the 2010/11 season – a year that earned him a move to Liverpool. He was ever-present, and provided nine goals for teammates, whilst scoring seven himself in that campaign.
The side built by Martin O’Neill was one that excelled on the counter-attack. Quick wingers like Downing, Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor were instrumental in the high finishes that that side achieved.
Aside from his pace, the left-footed player can also deliver a devilishly teasing cross. That was useful in a side that included big forwards such as John Carew.
Whilst at Liverpool, Downing didn’t find himself on the breakaway as much, and the club’s main target man – Andy Carroll – was shipped out on loan.
But now he will be united with the England striker, who was also made the switch from Merseyside the East London this summer. And Downing may once again find himself in a side that could be deadly on the break.
With Matt Jarvis also at Upton Park, West Ham will not be short for quality crosses next season that can search for Carroll’s head.
The weight of expectation is also going to be reduced, and the winger can get back to playing with a smile on his face once again. Still in his twenties, he has time left to win even more caps for England.
But in order to force his way back into Roy Hodgson’s plans, the former Middlesbrough player needs to work hard and show once again why Liverpool paid so much money to obtain his services in the first place.
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