Stephen Ireland: I was forced out of Manchester City
Stephen Ireland says he was “forced out” of Manchester City after completing his transfer to Aston Villa earlier this week.
The 23-year-old dropped down the pecking order at Eastlands under Roberto Mancini last season, despite being named City’s Player of the Season in 2008-09.
And the midfielder believes he was unfairly treated in the build-up to his move to Villa Park, where he was part of the deal which saw James Milner move in the opposite direction.
“I thought that was really unfair,” said Ireland. “I was first in and last out of training and no-one worked any harder than me. I was always the best player in training so maybe I was not for him (Mancini).
“I was forced out but I couldn’t be happier than to have joined Aston Villa because as a young kid I was always fond of Villa.
“For the last year or two it wasn’t easy to operate,” Ireland added. “If I had left two or three years ago it would have been more difficult than now. Leaving now it seems as if I was never at City.
“It’s a shame to leave behind people and fans with whom I had a good relationship. But I have been expecting to leave for some time. Under Mark Hughes at City everything appeared to be moving in the right direction.
“But then to make just 16 appearances last season was a massive drop for me. I want to kick on now because it was a big blow to my confidence.”
With the move now complete, Ireland is relishing the chance to shine for his new club and says he already feels comfortable at Villa Park.
“Watching Villa on television playing in Vienna this week it just felt that I had been here a long time because I have immediately felt at home,” he added.