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Sunday 23 October 2016

Downing sad to see Allardyce go

Published 26/05/2015 | 13:21

West Ham midfielder Stewart Downing, pictured, was rejuvenated under Sam Allardyce
West Ham midfielder Stewart Downing, pictured, was rejuvenated under Sam Allardyce

Stewart Downing has empathy for Sam Allardyce and believes his successor could not be taking over West Ham at a more exciting time.

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Just minutes after the Hammers' final game of the season at Newcastle, the club confirmed that the 60-year-old's contract would not be renewed.

It was far from a surprise announcement - albeit the timing was a shock - as Allardyce departed Upton Park after a topsy-turvy, four-year spell in charge.

Downing has thanked the outgoing West Ham manager for rejuvenating his career and admits letting Allardyce go is a "big decision" by the club.

"You could see on the manager's face that he was disappointed and he has thanked us for the work we put in for him," the England midfielder said.

"He was a great manager to play for and obviously took me out of the situation I was in at Liverpool where I was not playing and I've played nearly every game for him since I've been here.

"I'm disappointed for him because he's a good man to play for and first-class whenever I had any problems and such like.

"It's a big decision for the club, but obviously Sam moves on."

Former West Ham defender Slaven Bilic is overriding favourite with the bookmakers to replace Allardyce and the Croatian has confirmed he will leave Turkish giants Besiktas.

Roberto Di Matteo is second favourite after resigning as Schalke 04 manager, while David Moyes, Unai Emery and Steve McClaren figure prominently on the list.

Rafael Benitez and Jurgen Klopp are others to have been linked to a job which Downing believes is an exciting one, especially with the move to the Olympic Stadium just a year away.

"Whoever comes in has obviously got really good players and we've proved this season that we can mix it with the best," the midfielder told West Ham TV.

"I'm sure there will be a lot of changes in the summer. Sam Allardyce and his backroom will go, so there is going to be a whole new management side with new ideas.

"I'm guessing there will be new players coming in because there will be people leaving who are out of contract etcetera, so there will be a lot of changes for what is a big season for us ahead of going to the Olympic Stadium the year after. We need to start it well."

The east Londoners started this season well enough, only to collapse in the second half of the campaign.

Sunday's 2-0 loss at Newcastle saw them finish 12th and Downing believes the loss of key men up front played a big role in that drop off.

"Obviously we were free-flowing and scoring goals, so losing (Diafra) Sakho was massive for us," Downing said. "He was on really good form and didn't really have a dip, he just kept going and going.

"Enner Valencia came in and settled well, too, but we had a lot of new players to the Premier League and they - and us - are going to have dips in form and it might have caught up with them a little bit.

"Overall, though, they settled well and you've seen other clubs where it's taken them a year to settle.

"Overall, we've done well, but it's disappointing because we were fourth at Christmas and have finished 12th. I said before the last game that we should have finished in a European spot."

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