It’s safe to say the 2009/10 season was not Ireland’s best. It started with him suffering from dizziness against Fulham (actually it started promisingly with an opening day goal against Blackburn, if you want to get pedantic, but you know what I mean) and ended with Mancini suggesting Stephen needed to ‘change his head’ and Ireland duly handing in a transfer request citing lack of first-team opportunities. Thus is all quite a turn-around, having deservedly picked up the City Player of the Year award in 2008/09.
Given this turbulent year, and the international ‘hullabaloo’ with the Republic of Ireland, perhaps he is no longer such a worthy target for David Moyes.
Certainly, Moyes has been keen on the wily midfielder for a while and is seemingly weighing up the options again. However, he has an increasingly impressive midfield at his disposal; Arteta, Cahill, Fellaini, Pienaar, Osman, Bilyaletdinove, Neville and Heitinga when required, in addition to the fresh blood of Gosling and Rodwell through the thriving Everton youth system. Ireland wants first-team football; well he’ll have to work hard for it given this list. Moreover, he would certainly be required to take a wage cut if he was to make the move.
Despite all this, Ireland to Everton could be a prudent deal. An industrious all-round midfielder with the palpable ability to score goals, he could offer an option in the old ‘box-to-box’ vein. He possesses the ability to thrust forward in attack, whilst remaining comfortable and controlled in possession, and could be employed centrally or also further on the right of midfield. This relative versatility could be important as, despite the above list, Everton have often been hit hard by injury, thus exposing the skeleton of the squad. Furthermore, many of those mentioned above are not in direct competition, are more defence minded, or preferably utilised out-wide, whilst there is still uncertainty surrounding the future of Steven Pienaar
During his most fruitful season up to now (2008/09) Ireland bagged 13 goals and displayed fortitude in overshadowing the new money-men era arrivals. After last seasons dip and City eyeing further midfield reinforcements, Ireland would be available at a slightly reduced price (thought to be around £8million) and, still only 23-years-old, offers vitality for the long-term.
He is clearly a talented and dynamic player; if the best can be delivered. If anyone can release this – and, indeed, ‘change his head’ as Mancini so (un)eloquently put it – surely that man is David Moyes. Given his apparent desire for first-time football, you would hope Ireland would be ready to take a pay-cut, trek bare foot to Goodison and prove his worth (it’s not that far anyway, and I’m not quite sure why he would need to travel without shoes and socks either…s**t idea really).
Want him at Goodison? Deserve another chance at City?
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