Stephen Ireland hardly set the world alight when he joined Newcastle on loan in January. Stephen arrived on Tyneside injured and finally returned to parent club Aston Villa injured as well.
During Ireland’s ill fated loan spell he could only manage two substitute appearances for the club. Many fans were slightly dubious and cautious over the deal before it went through as not only was the player injured beforehand but his loss of form was a cause for concern.
Stephen set himself high standards at City a couple of years ago. Sadly for the player in recent seasons he has been unable to duplicate such influential form and his performances have dipped. Ireland was used by City as bait to lure former Mag James Milner to Eastlands. That transfer led to a bitter outburst from Ireland and he warned Milner that ‘the grass isn’t always greener’.
Ireland started a handful of games at his new club but in the short space of time he failed to make an impact. A change of manager with new ideas and injury hindered Ireland’s Villa career even further, but help was at hand with Newcastle. Alan Pardew wanted to rescue Stephen from his Villa nightmare and give him a shot to shine on Tyneside.
As I mentioned earlier the player was injured when he arrived in January, but the club were confident they could get Ireland back to full fitness. Alan Pardew was sure he was bringing in a player of top calibre and a player who could add some quality to our wafer thin squad.
Ireland alienated himself further from his parent club by allegedly complaining about the area and how he didn’t like it in Birmingham – something I’m sure Jay Jay can relate to. Ireland however later denied making those comments and claimed he was misquoted.
When Ireland arrived at Newcastle he was full of praise for the club. During his first interview after joining Newcastle he had this to say:
“It feels so long since I was playing games. This is a new challenge. It’s a lovely city and a nice training ground. It’s really good here, and I want to be part of everything.”
“I’m really excited – I just want to come out of the traps and play to the best of my ability. Hopefully I can bring some of my ability to the team.”
Now I only bring those quotes up because after recently learning that he has a future at Aston Villa, Stephen told Sky Sports yesterday: “I got sent to Newcastle basically against my own will.”
I find that quite surprising to be honest. I know he’s not bad mouthing the club, but basically saying he didn’t want to go and was sent. Hmmm, fact is the player said multiple times he was happy and excited to be at Newcastle suggests to me that he wasn’t too upset about heading North. There were even suggestions that he wanted to make the loan move permanent. There was a time the lad was dead set against returning to Aston Villa.
Seemingly the situation has changed slightly now. New Villa boss Alex McCleish has handed Ireland the number seven shirt at the club and has informed Stephen that he is indeed in his plans. Now Ireland has publicly spoken of his desire to win the fans over at Villa and have a fresh start with the club. Ireland’s words have forced me to analyse whether he was only making noises to stay at Newcastle because he knew he had no future at Villa under Houllier?
It was maybe a case of I will go anywhere to get away from him rather than him having any real affection for Newcastle United. Maybe Stephen likes the idea of now being wanted at Villa because he is on ridiculous wages there and he knows a club like Newcastle simply won’t match his demands?
Maybe I’m being a little harsh, it could be the player just wanted someone to show a bit of faith in him and McCleish is doing that now. We all saw the player Ireland was under Mark Hughes at Man City and he wants the chance to be that player again which is understandable. But I think he should be grateful that Pardew gave him a chance when others wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole.
However I think the lad’s attitude is questionable. He seems to throw his toys out the pram a bit and he likes to be vocal when he’s not happy about something. When you’re a footballer actions speak louder than words, your best bet is to persist and keep working hard in training.
Either way I was shocked to hear Stephen claim he was pushed into joining us and it was against his wishes. Well with the comments he made after joining the club in January, to follow up with that yesterday tells me he’s either got a poor memory or he’s ridiculously fickle. Like I say it’s not like he has slammed Newcastle, but hearing him say that quite frankly boiled my piss.
I’m still convinced that his new found desire to now stay at Villa has something to with the enormous wages he is on there as he does have a bit of a ‘bling boy’ reputation. Well Stevie, I can assure you that watching you make a lousy two short substitute appearances in x amount of months was ‘basically against our will’.
What are your thoughts?