Thursday, 6 May 2010

'There's a question mark over next year for me'

Missing out on fourth has hurt. The sense of a gaping missed opportunity, a pause on our progress, ground lost on rivals - it's a big frustration. But I'm not sure it's quite as upsetting as what's happened to Stephen Ireland. Ireland was the best thing about last season, not just a joy to watch on the pitch, but a thrilling promise that the ADUG cash and the Jim Cassell academy boys were compatible; that we could somehow work our own version of Zidanes y Pavones.

This year has been the polar opposite: it's been back to the Pearce and Eriksson era Ireland, patchy, inconsistent, in and out of the side. When Hughes signed Carlos Tévez and played him in the hole there was no space for Ireland in the side. He tried moving him back into a midfield two but Ireland doesn't have the discipline for it. Mancini tried Ireland a few times in his favoured role in 4-2-3-1 but devoid of form and confidence he did little. So it's not a surprise to see Ireland speaking in these terms to the MEN today:
"It's been difficult," said Ireland, talking exclusively at a charity event for Francis House Children's Hospice.

"It's been difficult because I've only played 15 or 16 times which is nowhere near the amount I played last year.

"When I have played, I haven't played in my position and it's been a difficult and frustrating season for me.

"I think there's a question mark over next year for me and I don't know what will happen, but it's out of my hands.
I'm increasingly resigned to his leaving this summer. He's at the age where he if he is not a part of the manager's plans there's little point in his sticking around. It's a shame but Mancini clearly doesn't fancy him and with him sticking around, and linked with other attacking midfielders, Ireland looks even further away from the 2010/11 team. I think he'd be a good buy for Spurs, for Villa, for Everton. I'm terrified, though, of him at United. Actually terrified, too, not like I am of Kolo's positioning or Bridge up against a good winger, but like I am of Sheikh Mansour pulling out his money or City getting kicked out of English football for financial misconduct. Seeing Ireland in a United shirt would honestly remove part of my soul for ever.


thomas said...

I can't see him going to United JPB, i dont think he has enough to his game. An exciting player going forward, but this season he's made modric look like frank Bruno, his lack of physical presence really undermines his game. He doesn't have the same strong centre of gravity like a tevez or swp.

The lines Ireland should, rather than complain about not been put in his favourite position, as you acknowledge he has under Mancini, he doesn't acknowledge his own failure to cement his place in the side. He simply isn't good enough.

Get in a side ahead of milner, or a modric, probably not!

thomas said...

Further more, i doubt City will do a deal with united, even if he pushed the move. An old fashioned line, often proved wrong, but we don't need to sell, so won't be forced into doing a deal with a club we have no interest in supporting.

Kev said...

Agree with the article. Ireland is my favourite player to watch and has a lot to contribute if given the chance. I think Michael Brown done him with a bad foul at the start of the season and that did not help. With Hughes we were good to watch and had regular contributions from youth players like Richards, Ireland, SWP, Johnson (when fit) Onouha. Compare that to last night with a bit part from SWP. Unfortunatly, Hughes was not tough enough on Adeybayor, Robinho and Toure but we were moving in the right direction and I think we would have got 4th with him. Compare our performance against united with that at home which should have been easier. Unfortunatly we have gone backwards by sacking Hughes! Hughes book will be interesting in time, was Adeybayors signing his request or not, what pressure was he under to play Robinho etc???

thomas said...

I dont understand why we would want to play academy players if there form has been poor. Richards was at his worst last season, ireland has been at his worst this season. Do they deserve a start?

Ireland has been poor this season, and for the most of it, that was under Hughes.

Mancini has played ibrahim, nimely, cunningham, boyata.

StanMCFC said...

Thomas, I agree that academy players should be selected only on merit... but if we buy in bulk so that every position is fully covered by imported talent, we risk losing our soul and also render the academy meaningless.

After all what is the point of an academy if none of the players have a realistic chance of making the first team? If a manager pays a big transfer fee for a player, he will always select that player if only to justify his purchase (regardless of how well a potential academy rival is performing in training)...

Also think footballers need a run in the team before their form can be properly judged. I'd like to see Ned, for instance, given an extended sequence of games. Personally think he is a better defender than Toure (even if he's less technically gifted)...

shibart said...

The whole point of Ireland's game is there is no physical presence required. He can see a pass and have the ball released before anyone comes within a meter of him. His lack of physique was only noticeable when he was being played out of position.

If you watched Manchester City week in, week out last season, you would know that he has the potential to be a part of any side. Potential is what attracts the bigger teams, not form.

Milner is dirt. Just another over-rated player that gets the spotlight from the British media because he is English.

Schleich Collector said...

I agree strongly with all of the comments made here by thomas. Ireland would be a natural for the central creative midfield role we have no one to man, but he throws away pass after pass, and unlike last season, he refused to close down, defend and tackle,under Hughes and Mancini. Overall, he gives the impression of a player who is quite soft, both physically and mentally.
Remember the two grannies incident? Eriksson sent him to a psychologist for therapy, and that speaks volumes about the young man. He just isn't able to shoulder his personal and professional responsibilities. Look at the two last minute losses to United in the Prem this season - who was it who failed to mark the goal-scorer in each situation, and then complained about the result afterwards? So, no surprise to me that he won't consider playing again for his country, but of course, that is Trappatoni's fault, right? Somehow, I see a pattern here, and it is not consistent with players who consistently achieve at a high level on the pitch.
As for Kev's comments about how great Hughes was, I can assure him that if and when he publishes his MCFC memoir, it will be replete with the same self-serving rationalizations for failure that he offered up, one disappointing match after another. In fact, Hughes and Ireland are spiritual twins, as neither seems capable of assuming personal responsibility for anything in their professional lives other than the sporadic successes they've had. When they've disappointed, it's always someone else, or something else.

Anonymous said...


thomas said...

shibart, I'm afraid, not having that physical aspect to his game, makes him a less enticing option for clubs. He certainly wouldn't get into arsenal, liverpool, chelsea even spurs midfield.

JPB makes the point that he needs to squad to be built around him, lots of protection. I can only see the likes of sunderland offering him that opportunity!

I watched him last season, and thought he was vastly over rated then. That's my personal view. One good season in 3 doesn't make you a star, ask steve sidwell!

Anonymous said...

There is no financial misconduct and there are no rules as of yet. Even if they did bring about any financial rules in Europe, Fifa and Uefa would have their hands tied and would be gagged, as whatever they do will be judged on what they allowed other clubs to get away with previously.

They will be seen as dictatorships and for that reason alone, it just wont be happening unless the world allow it too.

It would take them three years to bring about new rules and by that time City will be earning well above our means.

Lets face facts, Manchester City FC are not going to sell any player to United FC ever, our owner is not insane enough to cross Citys fanbase.

Ireland will probably go out on loan to regain his spark then be drafted back into Mancinis established system.

Mark my words.

Anonymous said...

You worry too much - you will get ulcers!
I agree with CiTyBlUe we should loan out Ireland. Also agree with StanMCFC about Ned and Richards, Ned has been realy unlucky. I heard reports Redknap after Bellamy. They exchanged a big smile and handshake after the Spurs defeat. With his "bullying" comments before the game it would be twisting the knife if he was allowed to leave for Spurs!

shibart said...

Well Thomas, I predict Ireland becoming a big, big player in the foreseeable future. Not in stature but in prestige and success. Only time will prove one of us wrong.

wizzballs said...

all this 'playing out of position' stuff is killing me. I fear he thinks he's going to become a traditional no. 10, but they simply don't exist in the modern game.

he's made it perfectly clear he doesn't want to follow the Modric route and become a true midfielder, despite taking great strides in this direction last season.

if he wants to be a purely attacking/creative force he should have been modelling himself on arteta, who plays left, right or centre depending on the needs of his team.