Manager on Monday

Sam Allardyce is thrilled that Stewart Downing is continuing to produce some of the best football of his career with West Ham United this season.

The Hammers midfielder notched his third goal of the campaign in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Sunderland, to cancel out Jordi Gomez's opener and earn his side a point.

Downing's goal threat has increased significantly this season after only notching once last term and Big Sam says his shift to a more central role has helped with that.

He explained: "When you talk about changing a player's position, with somebody like Stewart's experience, you say 'well, if it doesn't work you go back to where you were and we don't worry about it - it's more my responsibility than yours.'

"But he hasn't just liked it, he's loved it. You can see the freedom he's gained by being able to pop up in different areas of the field, finding space that we need to find, and our other midfield players will find him with the ball.

"He will turn and run at opposition defenders and cause them huge amounts of problems. Not only did he do that on Saturday, but he scored as well. He got one all of last season, but he's got three already now and could have had six or seven, so I hope he continues in the same vein.

"Lots of players have to change the way they play when they get that little bit older and gain that experience, finding a different way of expressing their ability, and it's worked brilliantly for us and him at the minute."

The point at Sunderland extended the Hammers' unbeaten run to four matches and Allardyce felt his side showed the necessary attacking instincts to have won the game.

He added: "We didn't sit back at any stage of the game on Saturday, every time we got the chance to go forward we did, and that was us trying to get the win.

"It's coming up to half way now and we're still in the top four. It makes my job easier when the team goes out and plays like it did on Saturday."