Rodgers bluntly told the England international earlier this season that he had no future at the club and was free to leave - and then publicly accused him of not working hard enough.
"I just thought: 'I don't want to let him down.' But after he said what he said to me, I did think that maybe mine is one of the names in the envelopes," Downing told the Sunday Telegraph. "I think he was testing people, testing their characters, asking: 'Can they respond to criticism? Can they deal with a setback?'
"You can have great ability but if you can't deal with that, especially at a big club, then it won't work. You have to be mentally strong at the top because you get that criticism all the time."
Six months on and Downing reveals: "He wants me to stay, he's told me that.
"He said I have been brilliant and that's why he wants me to play every week. So, for me, that's all put to bed now."