As part of the aftermath to his move to Aston Villa as part of the James Milner deal, Stephen Ireland has taken the extraordinary step of slagging off all-and-sundry at Manchester City, from the manager right down to the youth players. He comes across as a little bitter. And a massive tool.
Here's what Ireland had to say:
"I'm not really a highly-self-confident person... But I can honestly say Manchester City have tried to replace me for the last three or four seasons and it's never happened. I can easily say I've got, if not more ability, as much ability as any player they have signed this year."Footballers spending lavish amounts of money is nothing new, nor is it something for which to begrudge them. But for a player who is only turning 24 today, to criticise other young players for buying big on bling is the height of hypocrisy. Those in £5million mansions shouldn't throw stones...
"Without a shadow of doubt the situation I found myself in will happen a lot at Manchester City with all the high-profile players they have at the club. At Manchester City sitting on the bench I didn't feel part of the team. I was neither happy or sad if we lost."
"The young lads (at Villa) are so polite. At City they're not like that. They're coming in with £10,000 watches on their wrists and walking around as if they have played 200 Premier League games. I can really see myself having a good time here."
However, the most startling comment is the one where he simply didn't care how the team performed, when he was relegated to the bench. That's a slap in the face to every City supporter that got his name on their shirt, or ever belted out "Ireland is Superman". A lot of fans spend a lot of money travelling up and down the country (and around the world) to see City play — and to discover that one player was not really fussed about the result borders on treason.
If Ireland was as good as he claims, he would have used any opportunity he could get to prove the manager wrong. Rather than reflect on his own shortcomings, he has decided to blame the manager. It's a familiar theme with Ireland...
20 August 2010: "Did I talk to him? Not at all. Mancini does not build relationships with players."Whilst it's easy for Ireland, and those with an anti-Mancini agenda, to criticise the manager for not playing him at the end of last season, it should also be carefully noted that he didn't get too many starts whilst Hughes was still here at the beginning of the campaign.
12 February 2010: "I was being played out of position... Maybe as a holding midfielder, left wing, right wing. It is not me... But the last six months under Mark Hughes was very frustrating for me."
20 November 2008: "(Hughes) is a proper manager, the kind which I have always wanted to play under and who covers every aspect of preparation and training. I have got more confidence this season and that is because the manager has shown his confidence and trust in me."
It's amazing how a player that spent a good eight years in our youth and first team systems can have such negativity about City when he's left (or in Ireland's case, when he was still at the club!). Thankfully, he's Aston Villa's player — and problem — now.