Former Liverpool winger Stewart Downing criticised Brendan Rodgers over the handling of his Anfield departure, and made a remarkable claim about the Leicester boss regarding current captain Jordan Henderson.
Downing, 35, spent two seasons on Merseyside as the Reds endured somewhat of a transitional period between 2011-2013.
Signed for approximately £20 million after a host of superb performances with Aston Villa, the then-England international arrived with high expectations.
His Liverpool career never really clicked into high gear, however, with the changing of managers from Kenny Dalglish to Rodgers one possible reason that disrupted his progress.
Now, speaking as a guest on the Training Ground Guru Podcast (via the Liverpool Echo), Downing has lifted the lid on his time with the Reds and made some startling revelations regarding the Northern Irishman’s management style.
“The second year at Liverpool with Brendan was strange really,” Downing said.
“I didn’t get the feeling at the start that he wanted me, maybe because I was a Kenny signing.
“There was one point when he questioned our commitment, me, Jordan Henderson and Jose Enrique, which was strange, because I’d been in his office two days before that and nothing got said.”
The questioning of the commitment of Henderson strikes a particularly curious note, with the ex-Sunderland man being criticised for many things during his Reds career but never his commitment to the cause.
Downing continued: “I was under pressure already, the £20m signing, so I didn’t need more in the press.
“My commitment has never been questioned by any manager. I said: ‘if you’ve got something to say you should say it to my face.’
“I thought, ‘he’s not wanting me’, but I worked hard, got in the team and we got on after that.
After just two seasons in red, Liverpool accepted a bid from West Ham for his services.
However, Downing reveals that even then, Rodgers gave mixed messages regarding his potential exit.
“At the end of the season he told me he wanted to stay, but then the club accepted an offer from West Ham for me,” said the current Blackburn winger.
“I spoke to Big Sam and he said ‘obviously the manager wants you to go Stew, otherwise the team wouldn’t have accepted the offer’. It would have helped if they’d done it in a better way.
“If he’d just said ‘it’s time for you to go, I want new players in,’ it would have been ok. Brendan was a young manager learning his way, but I prefer a straight-talking, face-to-face conversation.
“That’s why I liked playing for Kenny, Martin and Big Sam, because they were straight-talking men. Just be honest with players.”
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