Saturday, 21 August 2010

'It's heartbreaking the way it's finished'

Difficult reading for City fans this morning: Stephen Ireland's first major interview as a Manchester City player. He describes what life is now like at City for a player who has grown up at the club, and how the new management and players have pulled the club away from how it used to be:
'I've been there eight or nine years, but loyalty doesn't matter much to that club any more. It's heartbreaking the way it's all finished.

'From my part there is only sadness. People who I grew up playing with and who coached me are now gone. There are lots of faces who don't feel that much for Manchester City and a lot of the homegrown guys feel like that.'

It's certainly sad for the fans, too, to see players that we've grown up with being pushed out by new arrivals. It shouldn't even need to be said that these academy players are important to us and that I would like to see a successful City team based on them. What this summer has taught is that it's not going to happen. Or at least, this coming City team will not have the 1986-88 generation at its core - or even on its periphery. I don't want to start writing another blog post but my position on this is that if we win something this year it will mean so much to me that the question of how we have done it or with whom will be irrelevant. But if I'm choosing between an average team of Academy players and an average team of mercenaries, well, that's not much of a choice.

Anway, Ireland goes on to talk about his lack of a personal relationship with Roberto Mancini:

'I felt unwanted,' he added. 'I felt like I was banging my head up against a concrete wall. In fact, I haven't felt part of it at Manchester City for the past 18 months.

'It didn't matter what I did in training, I wasn't ever going to get anywhere.

'I didn't share a relationship with Mancini. The last manager I had a relationship with was Mark Hughes - Mancini doesn't do relationships.

'He brought Patrick Vieira into the club. When I spoke with Patrick, he said that he worked with Mancini for seven or eight years but he didn't have one with him either. I think that's the way Mancini is. He has everyone on edge.
This, I'm less concerned about. I can see that it might be difficult for Ireland - who was so close to Mark Hughes - finding a manager who was much less keen to extend that arm round the shoulder that Ireland needs. But the same criticism has been made of Fabio Capello's managerial style with England. And while it might sound cruel from the outside it's clearly not an unsuccessful approach. Between them Mancini and Capello have won eight Scudetti, four Coppa Italias plus two La Ligas and one Champions League. It does work. Some 'Hughes players' have flourished under Mancini: Carlos Tévez, Vincent Kompany, to a lesser extent Kolo Touré and Pablo Zabaleta. It's a real sadness that Ireland is not one of them but I don't know how willing I am to blame Mancini for that.

Then there were some criticisms of young players at City wearing '£10,000 wristwatches' which might be an interesting point were it not being made by someone who has themselves indulged in conspicuous and dare I say vulgar consumption in the past.


Football 足球 The language of the beautiful game said...

This begs the question of why he was unhappy for the last 9 months of Mark Hughes' reign (which is roughly around half the time Hughes spent as manager)? I am very sad indeed that Stephen Ireland has left us, but Im amazed at just how many City fans are either happy or indifferent about his leaving. Form is temporary, class is permanent.

jackblue said...

Ireland had three quarters of one good season the rest of the time he has been average to bad. Did you see him in pre-season he never broke sweat. Hardly a good way to impress the boss. And as for the statement about kids with expensive watches! Did he ever get the shark for his 140,000 pound fish tank? Never mind the way the club stood by him over having two dying grannies. The man is clearly deluded and I will not miss him one bit. Milner will make everyone forget Ireland very very quickly.

Don said...

This was to be expected, really. I recall a quote from the MEN along the lines of Ireland being in the top 3 of the club in terms of ability and bottom 3 in terms of mental strength. That rings true.

Mental strength trumps footballing skill, there's no question about that. I don't deny that Ireland was capable of great play, but day-in, day-out, fact is plain he couldn't do it.

Milner is an upgrade easily worth the money. What we might lose in creativity is more than compensated for in terms of leadership, consistency and lack of drama.

budakon said...

I too am sad to see such a talented player not realise his potential whilst a city player and at the manner of his departure.

However, this interview in full smacks of both bitterness and excuses for his own failings. It's not pretty to hear him lashing out against the club that has supported him through his madness and paid him handsomely to most often be rewarded with a lack of effort. It is particularly galling to hear that he did not care when city lost if he was on the bench and then talk about a 'feeling for the club'. That and the bling complaint cry out Delusional Hypocrite to me.

It is interesting that it is Milner who forms the other half of the swap deal. A player that appears to be the polar opposite of Ireland. Where Ireland is talented, lazy, unstable and deluded. Milner is probably of average natural talent but dedicated, hard working, grounded, ambitious and manages to improve year on year.

I fully expect Ireland to put in 2 or 3 man-of-the-match performances for Villa in the next month or two followed by a gradual tailing off during the rest of the season and find himself a bench-warming super-sub by Christmas. Villa is no place for passengers and Ireland is the ultimate passenger.

Anonymous said...

It is a pity he has gone and particularly under such acrimonious circumstances. I think we will struggle for creativity in midfield. We could have a team full of defensive midfielders but we need more creative guile to unlock what will be "10 men behind the ball" defences.
Ireland's form seemed to dip after he had that health scare and was rushed to hospital. Although it was nothing serious he lost his "I'm invincible" self belief and started to doubt. Previously his resurgence under Hughes was based on a fell running and kick boxing training regime that gave him incredible stamina. I think like Dunne he will be successful at Villa but unlike Dunne he doesnt have the intelligence to pick his words carefully.

Football 足球 The language of the beautiful game said...

Call him what you will but saying he's "lazy" is grossly unfair. Don't judge anything on pre-season but of the moments I saw he was still by and large our best passer.

People who go on about "Grannygate", as if it definitively explains his ability as a player or mental strength, seldom seem to qualify it by stating that his partner had just suffered a miscarriage! (in his panic to be with her he just made an any excuse to leave not thinking about the consequences...he made a mistake...get over it...he was only 19/20 years old!).

I wish the journalist had asked him why he was unhappy for the last 9 months of Hughes' reign - I can only imagine it was because he could see players like Dunney were going to be pushed out for the "B"/"C" listers we were chasing like Lescott, Barry et al who had no more ability than him or Dunne but werely being paid the best part of double each week.

Conspicuous consumption outside the home is different to having a fish tank within the confines of your own gaff surely.

When ever i met him he was a really down to earth lad and he worked his absoloute bollocks off in the close seasons and worked a lot with local won't hear this in the papers...don't let the truth get in the way of a good story...he was emotional, he was hurting a bit like splitting up with a girlfriend after 8 won't talk about picnics in the park, you'll talk about the times u hurt each other...fuck it it's the way it goes, but I'll certainly give him a good reception when he comes back home to Manchester with Villa.

pjdemers said...

@ Football... the language of the beautiful game...

How dare you have the temerity to have sympathy for Stephen Ireland. We are trying to achieve success and we cannot let emotion interfere now can we?

Seriously though I think you're on to something. I'm all for City achieving success and while football remains a cartharsis for me, the reality is that its a cutthroat business and apparently that means there no room for sentimentality.

To which i say "horseshit"! Deep in every City fan is a hidden romantic and that's what makes this club special.Proper City fans have never been and never will be "glory hounds". Thick or thin City fans will always step up to be counted in the worse of times ( think 1999"We're not really here").

I don't have a problem with ADUG spending money as they see fit but I do think sometimes they lose sight of the social fabric that is Manchester City and that does disturb me. We need to find a balance.

Trevbrierley said...

Good partnership with old team mate Dunne on Sunday! Losing 6-0 to Newcastle was a great start! We'll really miss you Stevie!