Ireland is ‘fantastic’ but needs to be consistent, says ex-Aston Villa boss
Ex-Aston Villa manager John Gregory says Stephen Ireland is a great player but he wants the midfielder to be more consistent
John Gregory believes Stephen Ireland needs to prove he is a “great footballer” on a more regular basis at Aston Villa.
The 53-year-old, who left Villa a decade ago, has been impressed by some of Ireland’s performances for the Birmingham outfit since the midfielder joined from Manchester City in 2010.
Gregory admitted he would have relished the chance to work with the former Republic of Ireland international and extract the very best from the playmaker during his four seasons as manager at Villa Park.
“I’d have loved the chance to work with him,” Gregory told Villa’s website.
“I think there’s a great footballer in there. We see glimpses of it but we don’t see it enough.
“I don’t know Stephen – I’ve never met him – but what I see is a fantastic talent. I really enjoy watching him.
“Every now and then he does something and it makes me sit on the edge of my seat. There’s something about him.”
Gregory also admitted he felt Paul Lambert could have named Ireland as the club’s new captain.
“I thought Paul might make him captain this season just to give him more responsibility,” added Gregory.
“Sometimes people react to it well, sometimes it’s a burden and obviously sometimes you can’t make them captain because you aren’t going to play them every week.
“But I remember when Paul said before the first game at West Ham: ‘I’ve picked my captain but haven’t announced it.’ I just thought: ‘Hmmm, I wonder if it’s Stephen Ireland.’ I was interested to find out.
“He has everything – a great touch, masses of energy, he can get around the pitch and he was player of the year with the fans.
“He should be the first choice every week on the team-sheet. But I understand why he’s not because he needs to be more consistent.”