Following the permanent arrival of Andy Carroll last summer, Allardyce was once again able to persuade the co-owners to use the remainder on acquiring the services of winger Stuart Downing, however it has often been questioned whether Big Sam was right to sign him.
A major part of the manager’s thinking was that, with Matt Jarvis already at the club to provide crosses from the left wing, they could benefit with crosses coming from both wings and he saw Downing as the man to send them in from the right. Allardyce was hoping that the trio of Jarvis, Downing and Carroll would be a winning combination.
To date this has not yet materialised, as Carroll has spent most of his time in East London on the sidelines and Jarvis is currently recovering from a thigh injury picked up in training ahead of the home tie against rivals Tottenham Hotspur, but I’m sure once they are all fit, Allardyce’s original plan will come to fruition.
Downing is not renowned for being a regular goalscorer having only scored 34 times in his professional career. He currently only has two to his name for the Hammers including one already this season, as he scored the second in the 3-1 away win at Crystal Palace last weekend.
Even though reinforcements have been brought in during the summer, which Downing himself has said he thinks will make the squad stronger, the former Middlesbrough and Aston Villa midfielder is still getting regular game time and can produce a lot of good runs from the midfield to set up and even contribute goals.
Downing was once again selected for the season opener against Spurs at Upton Park and, although he didn’t score, he was instrumental in a lot of the home side’s good moves and would have registered his third goal for the club had Hugo Lloris not made a superb save in the closing minutes of the game.
My thoughts on this matter are that for a player of Downing’s quality, especially the level he has shown so far this season, to bring him in for as little as £5m was a bargain, given the amount of money spent by Premier League clubs to acquire quality in the current transfer window.
Although he has not yet been able to perform the role that was initially set out for him, Downing has become a key player for West Ham and I believe that Allardyce was right to identify the midfielder as a good deal worth fighting for.