Stephen Ireland has had a tough time of things over the last year.
Stephen Ireland – while still at Manchester City
And of course he wasn’t the only long term Manchester City player who was left out of the side, once Roberto Mancini arrived at Eastlands, and preferred the new expensive signings, to a player who had joined City in 2005 at the age of 18 from Cobh Ramblers.
There’s no doubt at all that Stephen is a gifted footballer, but he hasn’t been in his best form for these last 12 months- but he also hasn’t been given much of a chance either.
His unfortunate move to Aston Villa hasn’t been good for him, as the manager who signed him, Martin O’Neill, walked out on the club soon after Stephen was signed, as Martin also threw his dummy out of the pram.
We’ll never really know why he walked out, but the conventional wisdom is that American owner Randy Lerner wouldn’t cough up enough transfer funds for O’Neill to spend.
And as soon as Frenchman Gerard Houllier took over the Aston Villa club in late September, he seemed to clash with a number of the players, and one of those players was Ireland, whom the former Liverpool manager said didn’t work hard enough.
Of course some of these things about Stephen being difficult may even be true, but he hasn’t really been wanted at both Manchester City and Aston Villa over the last 12 months.
And this is where Newcastle come in, because he’ll be welcomed with open arms by the playing squad, led by captain Kevin Nolan.
He will be quickly integrated into the Newcastle way of doing things, and with some encouragement from new manager Alan Pardew, he could quickly regain his old form on Tyneside.
What Stephen needs on Tyneside is some Tender Loving Care.
And of course, great players on the Tyne are treated with god-like status, let’s be straight about that – just look at the way a certain Mr. Ben Arfa has been embraced on Tyneside over the last six months.
Since the transfer fee will already have been agreed between the clubs, in case Newcastle want to buy him in the summer, it’s probably been set at around £6M to £7M, and if indeed Stephen can recapture his old form, he could turn out to be another bargain buy for the Newcastle club.
Of course it may not happen, but we would expect the still only 24 year-old player to be warmly welcomed on Tyneside, and yes – it’s also wishful thinking that we hope he can return to his best form - wearing the famous black and white shirt of Newcastle United.
Ireland is a great player indeed, when playing at his best, and we have to hope that’s exactly what we see from the Cork-born player during the rest of this season.
This all assumes the loan deal will go through in the next day, but today’s news that he is to have a medical at St. James’ Park today, now makes that look very likely.
If the deal goes through, then we’ll welcome Stephen to the Newcastle club – with open arms.
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