West Ham United midfielder Stewart Downing has revealed that he didn't like the way he was treated by Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, so the surprise 3-1 victory against his former employers last weekend was extra satisfying.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph this week, off the back of Saturday's surprise Premier League win at Upton Park, the 30-year-old recalled the frustrating spell he endured at Anfield during the latter stages of his time on Merseyside.
Downing joined Liverpool from Aston Villa in a £20 million deal in 2011, but after two disappointing seasons departed for the Hammers in a cut-price £5 million transfer.
Discussing his ill-fated spell the Englishman admitted that his relationship with the Reds boss broke down prior to moving to Upton Park, suggesting Rodgers's man-management skills left a lot to be desired.
Stewart Downing quotes:
“I never thought of packing football in but I didn’t like the way I was treated," he said. “He put that headline out, saying I needed to ‘fight’ more. It hurt. If you ask all the managers I’ve played for, I always try, always train hard.
“If Brendan had a problem with me, if he’d pulled me and told me, then no problem. He didn’t. It hurt the way he did it.
“I went to see him, November time, and he just said to me: ‘This isn’t going to happen for you here, basically find a new club.'
“Then a couple of a weeks later he came to me with the idea of playing left-back, and he played me there a few games. I’ve never been a left-back. I was 28. I’ve never wanted to play left-back."
It quickly became clear to Downing that his future would be better served away from Liverpool, and he recalled the moment he was notified about West Ham's interest in his signature which saw him link up with Sam Allardyce in east London.
“Even when I was back in the team, and playing really good football, I knew the writing was on the wall. The club told my agent at the last game of the season: ‘Have you heard? There’s an offer from West Ham.’
“I asked Brendan and he said he didn’t know anything about it. He said: ‘I can’t promise you will play every game but I don’t want to lose you.’
“I was happy at Liverpool, I wanted to stay, I had two years left on my contract. It’s Liverpool, a big club. But I was hit with this bombshell. After that conversation I knew I had to move. I knew he wouldn’t play me.
“So last week was sweet [winning 3-1 against Liverpool]. We were really confident of beating them, with the problems they’ve had of late. I thought we could hurt them.
"Brendan has bought a helluva lot of players but I still look and think I could get in that team. It made me a stronger person.”
This season Downing has hit a rich vein of form after being moved by Allardyce into a more central role, and played a starring role against Liverpool to the delight of the player.
However, the former England international knows that he cannot afford to rest on his laurels as West Ham head to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United this weekend, with the Hammers sensing an opportunity against Louis van Gaal's under-strength side that capitulated against Leicester City last Sunday.
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