Maybe it was just relief to see Stephen Ireland playing for the Magpies, but we think this Irishman could become a big player for Newcastle.
Stephen Ireland – on training pitch – he looks happy enough
Stephen still has to prove he can regain something like his old form at Newcastle, but for the last 18 months he has not felt welcome or appreciated at the two clubs he has played for – Manchester City and Aston Villa, where both of their foreign managers didn’t seem to rate him.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew does rate him, and apparently Stephen has been looking great in training, and he was welcomed big time by the Newcastle fans on Tuesday evening, when he came on after 69 minutes against Manchester United, and that both surprised and delighted the County Cork-born 24 year-old.
That will only help Stephen settle on Tyneside, and we now expect the lad to play a bigger role in the last 5 games of the season, as he gains more and more match practice.
And it could be that Stephen will love things at Newcastle, and if his statements after the Manchester United game are anything to go by, he already feels settled on Tyneside.
Here are some of the things Stephen said after the excellent 0-0 draw with the Red Devils on Tuesday night.
“The fans have been brilliant, and it was electric,” “I haven’t played in front of fans like that before in my life.” “It’s massive for our team – the teams that come here are petrified, and you can see that by the way they react.”
“To do it for a whole 90 minutes is impressive.”“It has been hard, but it was made a lot easier thanks to the club,” “I’m really impressed by the club, the staff and the fans – everybody’s been brilliant to me.”
“They have helped me with what has gone on. I’m now just looking forward to getting my head down and playing as much football as I can.” “I just want to help the club stay as high up the table as I can.”
“I have not really had a manager who has wanted me to play and I have felt like an outcast for a while. It’s nice to be treated normally for once. I haven’t had that in a while.” “I have come here now and even through my injuries, they kept telling me, ‘Listen, it’s not a problem, just get yourself right’.”
“The loyalty they have shown me, I am going to repay that as much as I can. It’s been really frustrating, but it’s all behind me now, thank God, and it’s finally here.” “It’s finally come around that I can play and I just want to finish the season strongly and try to benefit the team in whatever way I can.”
That all sounds very good to us, and it seems this lad was destined to play for Newcastle, and if he can show some of his old form by the end of the season, then Ireland will be a terrific buy for Newcastle at just around £8M.
As we said after the Red Devils game, Stephen is an emotional player, not unlike Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan, and the Newcastle fans can lift him to play at the very top of his game, and of course if he can reproduce that old form, he will be starting for Newcastle next season.
He could even turn out to be Newcastle’s first signing of the summer, and it wouldn’t be a bad one, as this lad seems to really want to play for Newcastle United.