There are few players at the moment that divide opinion more than Stephen Ireland. Granted, he has not endeared himself to the Villa fans, but his recent interview did seem to have a genuine feel to it. This will again divide opinion, but it could well be that Ireland was a victim of unfortunate circumstance. Being brought in under one manager then falling out with the next regarding where he lives (if rumours are true), then he was up against it. It’s not an excuse, but it was not ideal for motivation. He did make matters worse for himself by complaining and moaning quite a lot, publicly, which is something a player should never do. He also gave a number of lacklustre performances where he appeared to not really care. He didn’t track back and he sunk even lower if there was a missed pass and he gave away possession. This was perhaps the result of confidence or it could have been a feeling that Houllier was going to hoof him out of the door at the earliest opportunity. One thing is apparent from Stephen Ireland- he is a player that needs to be loved and nurtured. Hughes gave him that attention at City and the rewards were incredible. Some of his play was sublime, and the Player of the Year award they gave him was fully deserved. If McLeish can tap into Ireland’s best football by good man management, we may never notice that Ashley Young has gone. Ireland can rip open a defence with his passing if his game is on, and I think we need to get behind him to make it happen. If he feels the fans are on his side, we should see impressive things from him. His talent is unquestionable, and although his conduct has not been ideal up to date, there is no doubt he can do marvellous things in claret and blue if he is managed and appreciated properly. He seems to want it, so all he needs is a chance.