MIND GAMES can often be a potent weapon in a manager’s arsenal.
And Brendan Rodgers has certainly used them in his favour to extract a vast improvement from Stewart Downing.
Telling Downing he could look for another club and then consistently playing the winger was either a great piece of management or a great piece of luck.
Or perhaps the penny has simply dropped with Downing that he is probably not going to leave to a better club.
It might just be the kick up the backside he needed. Now that he is under serious pressure, Downing has started to perform.
You are left asking the question of why he hasn’t played like this since he first joined Liverpool. It has been an awful long time coming.
Rodgers may well have decided he didn’t need Downing, but managers are allowed to change their mind and the England man has responded.
Downing has managed to raise the bar and set a new standard in his performances, and if he falls underneath it he knows there’s a chance he might be heading towards the exit.