STEPHEN IRELAND: VILLA CAREER EXAMINED

Retired Republic of Ireland midfielder Stephen Ireland moved to Aston Villa from Manchester City at the start of the 2010/11 season. Stephen Ireland initially asked Manchester City for £2m in compensation for him to leave for Villa on loan with ex-England international James Milner coming in the other director. Ireland didn’t want to leave Manchester City for Aston Villa though he had no choice but to leave with the Citizens keen to welcome Milner from Villa.

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The swap deal involving Ireland and Milner was completed on August 17, 2010. Ireland moved to Villa for £8m on a four-year deal as part of the swap transfer with Milner. The controversial Ireland criticised Manchester City heavily on the back of his move to Villa Park.

Ireland made his Villa debut on his 24th birthday and it ended in disaster for him and his club after they were on the receiving end of a 6-0 thumping by Newcastle United. Two months into his Villa career, Ireland was dropped by late French manager Gerard Houllier who wanted him to work harder. He spent just six months at Villa before signing for Newcastle United on loan in January 2011 until the end of that season with the possibility of joining the club permanently.

Ireland was already injured by the time he swapped Villa Park for St. James Park on the final day of the 2011 winter transfer window. He was involved in a lot of controversial/injury situations including a nightclub incident with teammate and striker Leon Best. Ireland finally made his debut in the goalless draw with Manchester United in April 2011 as he played the final 25 minutes of the game. Ireland returned to Aston Villa at the end of his hugely unsuccessful loan spell at Newcastle United after two games and 49 minutes of football. He missed the rest of that season as a result of an ankle injury.

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