The imminent departure of Stephen Ireland
It now looks increasingly likely that Academy product Stephen Ireland will leave the club as part of a cash plus player deal for Aston Villa’s James Milner. For the sentimental fans amongst us, the departure of
Then things took a turn for the worse. Mark Hughes, who I think got the best out of the Irishman – was sacked. Ireland has argued otherwise, saying that Hughes played him out of position, and speaking indirectly to his manager’s preference for Carlos Tevez in the attacking midfielder / deep lying forward role.
After Hughes’ sacking came injuries and more loss of form, resulting in time on the substitutes bench. The appointment of Roberto Mancini tightened the screws on
This I feel was the real nail in
It is a sign of the club’s sheer ambition that, even for all the Irishman’s talent, for all his endeavour, and for all of his unquestionable commitment to the Blue shirt of Manchester down the years, he has – in effect – ended up being used as bait. This is ruthless, but this is where we are at Eastlands now. Holding out for a £2m payout will ensure that the Irishman is not remembered fondly, but the Club does not want the player, and so the player will do all he can to get the best deal for himself. Moreover, this is far from the point, but £2m is a drop in the ocean for the Club. He and his agent both know that.
No room left for Craig Bellamy
The flying Welsh winger, who last season enjoyed probably the best campaign of his career, is also on the verge of an exit. Personally, I have always thought Bellamy’s future to be welded to that of his fellow compatriot, Mark Hughes. When Hughes left the club the winger’s days were always going to be numbered no matter what he did on the pitch.
And on the pitch, I felt Bellamy’s form dipped slightly towards the end of last season, but not by much. He was still playing at a relatively high level, but he started the season on such a rich vein of form that there was only ever going to be one way to go.
But form is not the problem nor the issue. Bellamy’s enemies are now age, injury proneness and personality - the latter of which we found out a little bit more about this week. We all know that it hasn’t been plain sailing between manager and player. Screaming rows over the treatment of Bellamy’s knee, the player’s refusal to train, an internal investigation over comments Bellamy allegedly made in support of David Moyes after Everton’s defeat of City at Eastlands, and most recently, claiming that Mancini hadn’t spoken to him since February and doesn’t speak to Carlos Tevez.
Wherever the blame lies for Bellamy’s disgruntlement, a stream of discontent has trickled – and sometimes flowed – throughout his career. At City it now appears to have caught up with him again. This Wednesday he was left out of Mancini’s 25 man Europa League squad.