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Ireland’s Off – The George Caveney Column

Ireland to Merseyside. It must be true…

A couple of weeks ago in I publicly predicted the demise of Phil Brown as the next managerial chop in the Premiership. Okay, I know it’s not the shock of the season, but I was quite self-congratulatory when I saw the announcement earlier. So I’ve been and bought a lottery ticket, and now I’m going to tell you just one thing that will happen in the summer.

Stephen Ireland will leave. Of that I’m certain.

Maybe Mancini doesn’t like young ‘uns who look like potatoes with small ears and drive hairdresser’s cars without irony. Can’t say I do, either – but Stevie has played a big part in our success over the last two difficult seasons, and he’s more of a workhorse and character than many in the current squad gurgling about first team action. Just like Dunne’s sudden offloading, any decision to pass him on may well come back to haunt us in the jostle for fourth spot we’ll be embroiled in again next season. Especially if, as ‘reports suggest’, Stevie’s on his way to Liverpool. If I ever use the terms ‘sources close to the player are expected to confirm…’ or ‘Speculation points to the possibility of…’ – please have me put down. Why hack’s can’t just admit “I’m making sh*t up again ‘cos I’m too hungover to chase a lead,” I’ve no idea.

Anyway. Stephen Ireland will go to Anfield. Of that I’m not as certain, but it’s as valid a premonition as any.

He’d be ideal for the kind of game that Benitez defaults to. And if it’d cost Liverpool £16m to get rid of the jowly Spaniard, bets are on he’ll still be there to plug it. He also looks like a potato, so it must be a sign. What worries me is that with regular first-team games and a more stable club, Ireland will find the form to make life a misery for his nursery side – and many others. Dunne’s Villa switch has been a good move for him. If only because he got away from Garry Cook, who for my money is a silly, disruptive tosspot. I’m not sure Villa will spoil our party, though – I think we’ll probably manage that quite easily ourselves – but our decisions haven’t always been the wisest.

Of course, Stephen Ireland may force the issue, especially if he’s not getting the selection. So I’ll stick my neck out and say it: He’ll be one of the first to leave in the summer. We’ll see him in a pink tonka toy full of Superman underpants hurtling down the M62 come June – to Goodison if not Anfield. And he won’t be looking back. Mark my words. People who buy and drive cars beyond their ability don’t use mirrors. Or indicators. But they always manage to find the b*****d foglights.

What say you? Am I stating the beedin’ obvious? Again.

Oh, and who agrees Zola and Grant are next for the chop?

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Article title: Ireland’s Off – The George Caveney Column

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