I’m not really sure that former Aston Villa flop Stephen Ireland can actually claim to have a soapbox to stand on when it comes to criticising others in the game and their own individual actions, but that hasn’t stopped him from launching a scathing attack on former manager Gerard Houllier.
With a miserable, anger-inducing four year spell at Villa Park, the former Republic of Ireland international only made 59 appearances for us, and although (on occasions) we saw flashes of what he was capable of doing, those high points were few and very far between.
Having made the switch from Manchester City back in 2010 in the deal that saw James Milner head in the opposite direction, it’s fair to say we definitely got the short end of the stick there and his time with us was more about us trying to get rid of him somehow.
In a recent interview with The Athletic the star of ‘Granny Gate’ seemed to be oblivious to his own actions and unsurprisingly it was all the fault of Houllier for being ‘a really horrendous manager’.
“I’ve played for a few really, really horrendous managers. I thought one in particular was Gerard Houllier. It baffles me how that guy has ever got a football job, and it scares me. It makes me think that I could easily be a manager if he’s doing it, my gardener could easily be a manager if he’s got a job, because I thought he was that bad. Every team talk Gerard Houllier gave was about his time at Liverpool. He was like: ‘Come on guys, because I told Steven Gerrard and Danny Murphy this, and they went out and done this in the second half.’ I’m thinking: ‘You’re trying to get us riled up for the second half by telling us about Steven Gerrard and Danny Murphy?’ Honestly, you would see everybody giving each other the eyes.”
He wasn’t finished there, as he had the temerity to accuse Houllier of not having ‘a clue about football’ yet few Villa fans would credit Ireland with having a clue about being a player.
“I didn’t think he had a clue about football. Everybody is training like maniacs to get in the team on Saturday and I remember he was four football fields away looking at the flowers and walking around with his hands behind his back. How is he picking the team on a Saturday? It’s frightening, frightening. That’s what killed me. He didn’t play me. He gave me bits and pieces here and there, made me play with the kids again, and I thought: ‘What the hell is going on?’ He sent me on loan to Newcastle and arghhhh…it was just like, ‘What is going on with my career?’”
We all have our own thoughts on Houllier’s time with us, but if being a ‘horrendous manager’ is defined by telling a lazy player to ‘work harder’, then I don’t actually need to comment on Ireland and his claims do I.
He’s kind of made his own comment on himself, without actually realising it.
But for the record, I will add, once he got away from said ‘horrendous manager’ he made two substitute showings for Newcastle. Nine starts (seven substitute showings + two goals) in another loan spell with Stoke, but they daftly signed him for free, where he added 25 starts (29 substitute showings) with three goals returned across four seasons and it seems he spent half a year with Bolton Wanderers according to Soccerbase but he didn’t make a single appearance.
Frightening to think with the talent that he did have that he’s only 33 and clubless, but when it’s always somebody else’s fault, you write your own reference don’t you.