"I’m enjoying my stay here. I’ve enjoyed it since the first day I came. It’s a terrific football club. It’s fantastic they want me.
"There’s terrific players. I’m confident, despite this season, we’re going in the right direction and if we get the right players in then I’m happy.
"The important thing in football is, if you’re happy, then why change it?
"I know it’s been a disappointing season, but I can see the bigger picture."
But now just a couple of weeks later he is quoted as saying,
"I want to keep playing and enjoying my football," said Downing.
"When I was injured that made me realise what it can be like to be out for such a long time. It hurt. The most important thing is to play football, but I do want to play in the Champions League at some point.
"The most important thing for me, though, is to stay fit and then the rewards will come with that, hopefully. I have got back into the England squad, I have to make sure I stay there."
The career of a footballer can be perilously short. You're one Nigel DeJung tackle away from it being all over. As a fan it hurts when your club loses one of it's key players, but most knowledgeable fans understand that sport is a business and as Jerry Seinfeld says "We're all rooting for laundry."
If it is true that for the third year in a row our Player of the Year wants to leave the club that's not what really bothers me. What bothers me is the obvious dis-ingenuousness of his original comments. His verbal fellatio of the club and its fans could not have been more false. In his feeble mind he might have thought that he was doing or saying the right thing with his effusive praise of our club, but in reality all he did was make the slap in the face sting that much more.
We were all resigned to Ashley Young leaving. Stewart's comments gave us all hope that he was not. I was imagining a full year of him and Marc Albrighton bombing up the wings tormenting FBs everywhere. The perfect compliment for a prolific finisher like Darren Bent. We would use the funds generated from selling Young to invest in the rest of the squad. With a full preseason the club would have time to adapt to playing without Young, the future still seemed bright. These quotes today were just a kick in the teeth.
In contrast James Milner was completely honest with the club and fans. He played his ass off ever game which to be fair Stewie has done too. He never lied about how happy he was and how he wanted to stay. When he left most level headed Villians harbored no ill will, especially when the club received such a healthy fee in return. As Milner languishes on the bench many of the Villains I talk to on Twitter hope he could return.
This is why to this day Johnny Damon is still booed at Fenway Park. In his last year with the team he said he would never go to the Yankees, and then he did. When the Yankees told the aging LF to hit the bricks he signed with Detriot and told everybody that was where he wanted to be from day one. Yeah sure Johnny. Was it the school system or the quality of life in Detroit? Later in the year when the Tigers were out of contention he had a chance to come back to Boston for a month as the Red Sox clinged to contention. Still upset that the club didn't match the Yankees offer, and angry with the fans for booing him upon his return he invoked his no-trade clause. Publicly he stated he was happy in Detroit and wanted to come back. Just what every team needs is a DH with 8 HRs. He knew he wasn't coming back but couldn't be bothered to be honest five years after leaving.
Stewart Downing was immense this year, but he is not the first or the best player to leave our proud club. Most of the players from the European Cup Champions didn't finish their careers with Aston Villa. They are still treated as the conquering heroes that they are. If you leave we'll miss you for only as long as it takes for us to find somebody better. You can be honest, don't tell us you love us unless you mean it. Have fun blowing your England chances just like Milner.