The Irish midfielder has been City's standout performer this season but life has not always been so rosy for Ireland at Eastlands.
Last season's infamous 'Grannygate' incident while away on international duty with Republic of Ireland still haunts him - Ireland has no imminent plans to return to the fold - but his form this term suggests he is on the right path.
Ireland admits he hit rock bottom last season when City were thumped 8-1 by Middlesbrough under then manager Sven Goran Eriksson. While Ireland was shattered by the experience he claims some of his team-mates were not unduly affected.
Vowing to get himself perfectly tuned both physically and mentally for the new campaign, Ireland immersed himself in an arduous fitness routine over the summer.
Turning point'It was the last day of the season and we had lost 8-1 at Boro," he told the Daily Mail.
"I didn't get the team bus. I got Jessica to drive me home and I thought to myself: 'This can't carry on. My career and my reputation are not right'.
"After that game we didn't even get a b******ing. I was so depressed at seeing that people didn't really care. People were laughing. It was the worst moment of all for me.
"I decided that wasn't a route I was going down. I didn't want to live my life travelling home from big defeats with a smile on my face. I just felt like I had to change something after everything that had happened.
"So, the next day I started training. I went up to the hills in Glossop with a martial arts expert, training from 7 to 11am. I dedicated my whole summer to working with this guy.
"I came back super fit and wanted to be number one in the team."
Never say neverWhile refusing to rule out a return to international football in the future, Ireland rejects claims that Giovanni Trapattoni has already asked him to come back.
"When I first got in to the Irish squad when I was 17 I was so proud," he added.
"It's not that I am not patriotic and I know much of this is my fault. But it's sad the way some people still want to criticise me. I know the Irish thing will take longer to fix. I just think I am quite happy as I am right now.
"I read in the press that (Giovanni) Trapattoni and Liam Brady have said they have contacted me. Well, they haven't. That's all I can say. Never say never, though."