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Mark Hughes Will Be Able to Get The Best Out Of Stephen Ireland

stephen ireland Mark Hughes Will Be Able to Get The Best Out Of Stephen Ireland

Stephen Ireland was once the best player on an expensively assembled Mark Hughes managed side. The year was 2009 and Manchester City had just been subject to a takeover from the Royal Family of Abu Dhabi. At the time, Stephen Ireland was the best player on the Blues team that included Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Robinho and Daniel Strurridge. He helped lead the club to the quarter-final round of the UEFA Cup where City was eliminated in heartbreaking fashion by Hamburg. Ireland was rewarded with the team’s Player of the Year award for 2008-09.

At the peak of his power, the Blues brass started spending big money and eventually Ireland saw himself reduced to a reserve role. Unfortunately for Ireland, Hughes was sacked in December 2009. Then came Roberto Mancini and virtually no playing time. Even youth team members got as many games as Ireland towards the end of the 2009-10 season. In the summer of 2010 with the new Blues manager determined to beat out other English sides for the services of James Milner, Ireland was unceremoniously thrown in as a makeweight to increase City’s offer to Aston Villa. The bid was accepted by the West Midlands club and Milner headed to Manchester City while Ireland went the other way.

Ireland’s performances with Villa were astonishingly inconsistent at first and then flat out awful. He was even sent out on loan to Newcastle where like so many before him he failed to make an impression. Villans boss Paul Lambert took such a dislike to Ireland that efforts were made as soon as last season ended for any team to take him and Barry Bannan. Both were players the manager reportedly felt had become locker room cancers with a team that was generally young and impressionable.

Enter Mark Hughes, getting yet another lease on life as manager at Stoke. Ireland is for the first time in five seasons showing genuine and consistent spark in his game. He is not sulking on the pitch as he so often did at Villa and Newcastle, and he seems to be enjoying his football. For this credit must go to Mark Hughes a manager who has gotten the best out of Ireland on two occasions at different clubs, five years apart.

Ireland acknowledged Hughes influence when moving to Stoke on loan this past summer.

“I had a great relationship with Mark at Manchester City and I was desperate to work with him and his staff again.

“Mark knows how I play and how to get the best out of me.”

Now they will have an opportunity to work together again on a permanent basis.

Editor’s note: For the latest Stoke news, analysis and opinion, visit the Stoke City team page.

This entry was posted in Leagues: EPL, Manchester City, Stoke City. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

One Response to Mark Hughes Will Be Able to Get The Best Out Of Stephen Ireland

  1. Guy says:

    When Ireland is on the pitch Stoke are a much better team. He looks to attack with sharp forward passes and keeps everyone on their toes.

    He can certainly continue to improve, but right now he’s better than anyone else we’ve had at that position. Glad to see the signing.

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