Stephen Ireland: The Rise and Demise of the Irishman

Ieuan BeynonCorrespondent IIIDecember 20, 2010

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26:  Stephen Ireland of Aston Villa shows his frustrations during the UEFA Europa League  Play Off, second leg match between Aston Villa and SK Rapid Vienna at Villa Park on August 26, 2010 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It has been reported that Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland is looking for a move away from the club in the January transfer window.

Ireland was an £8m summer signing from Manchester City and was seen as a makeweight in the deal for England International James Milner.

This season has seen Ireland carry on with the form that saw him earn a move from Man City.

Two years ago, it seemed as though Ireland had the world at his feet. He was awarded the Player of the Year award at City and was seen as one of the main assets in the revolution that was happening at Eastlands.

Last season, Manchester City saw a change of manager with Roberto Mancini coming in.

Ireland seemed to struggle with the Italians' style of play and looked as if he felt suffocated by the sides' negativity.

The preseason move to Aston Villa seemed to be the perfect match: A young team who like to pass the ball and play good football.

With the arrival of Gerard Houllier, though, Ireland has found himself struggling to make an impact again.

Now, Stephen Ireland is a bit of a maverick and has never been easy to read, so there may be something that is mentally affecting his performances over the last 18 months.

But there is also a simpler answer to the enigma that is Stephen Ireland: He just isn't that good.

When he was the star of the Manchester City team, he looked like a world beater and was being linked with a move even to Wenger's Arsenal.

He was the star of the team simply because he was part of a very average side.

When Shiekh Mansour came in with his vastly deep pockets.

Ireland was soon to be shown as an average player and struggled to make the starting eleven for City.

Now, it looks like the same thing has happened at Vila.

Trouble is that Ireland's star status is waining; he needs to find a club where he'll be loved and made the number midfielder.

He doesn't have the temperament—it would seem—to be a top European contender in the Premiership.

A team like Sunderland—if the talented Jordan Henderson is sold—or a team like Wigan, who try to play football, would seem to be a perfect match for the one-time Irish international.

The right move, and his career could again prosper in the second tier of the Premiership; another bad move, and it could spell the end of what once was a promising career.

Let's hope that 'Superman' just lands in the right destination.


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