As a City fan I have experienced both the good and the bad sides of Stephen Ireland, sadly the good performances have been far outweighed by the bad, or should that be distinctly average.
Some sections of the media raised eyebrows after Ireland was included in the deal taking James Milner to Eastlands, but many City fans weren’t that surprised, for the vast majority of his career in Manchester he had flattered to deceive and his final season at the club was one of his worst.
The Irishman joined the City youth academy in 2001 when he was 15, and he broke into the first team during the 05-06 season, and from then on he became a big part of the clubs first team squad. For a long time his inclusion caused confusion amongst the City faithful his performances on the field never seemingly of a good enough quality to warrant a consistent place.
This all changed however when Mark Hughes arrived at the club to take over the clubs management, Ireland had improved slightly the year before under Sven Goran Eriksson, and under Hughes he began to look an extremely talented midfield dynamo. He managed to rack up 13 goals in 50 games that season and was probably the clubs best player, he excelled in the hole behind the striker and looked a top Premier League player.
The following season however things weren’t as good as he struggled to recapture his previous form, under Hughes and latterly Roberto Mancini Ireland struggled and flattered to deceive. His move to Villa at the start of the season was expected to rejuvenate his career, but he struggled to make an impact there for various reasons, and now on loan at Newcastle, he has another chance to prove himself as a top player.
Speaking to the Evening Chronicle, Ireland has reiterated his desire to perform well for Newcastle now that he has put his injuries behind him, he has said:
“I am here on loan for the next six weeks and it is in my hands what happens….I cannot comment too much on my future or where I will be next year….That part is out of my hands….What is in my hands is the fact I can work hard and play the best I can.”.
It is pretty clear at this point that the 24 year old has no future at Villa Park whilst Gerard Houllier is still in charge, and this loan spell on the North East is a massive opportunity for him. Once lauded as being one of the best players in the league, 2nd chances are now beginning to run out.
The problem Ireland has is that he is quite limited in terms of positions where he can be effective, playing behind a solitary striker being able to pick passes is where he is at his best, and if he is given that opportunity I see no reason why he can’t excel at St James’ Park.
At this moment in time that one magnificent season has to be viewed as a flash in the pan, one great year in a very average career, hopefully Ireland can recapture that form and find some consistency, I see no reason why Newcastle can’t be the ideal place for him to do that, if he impresses during the run in, who knows what the future might hold for club and player.
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience