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Could our long claret and blue nightmare finally be over?

With his contract up at the end of the season, Stephen Ireland has finally admitted he's unlikely to play for Aston Villa again. Drugstores in Birmingham were faced with empty shelves as desperate customers cleared out their supplies of tissues.

How many different times can we use the same photo?
How many different times can we use the same photo?
Laurence Griffiths

According to the man himself, it seems that Stephen Ireland's time at Aston Villa is finally drawing to a close. Forced to accept a deadline day move to Stoke City due to high wages and, you know, the inability to actually play football, it seems Ireland has finally faced reality and admitted that he won't wear a claret and blue shirt again.


Well, that is, unless it means he dons a West Ham kit. They're good at picking up players at a fraction of what foolish clubs paid for them a few seasons before. Plus, he and Stewart Downing can exchange stories of the good old days in Birmingham. You know, back when Stephen could boast of his princess room and dream about putting shark tanks in his kitchen.

It's been three years that Villa have been saddled with Ireland, and not one of them has been good. Sure, he somehow managed to win Fans' Player of the season in 2012, but that was possibly the most dismal year in recent history. He came over as unwanted make weight in the James Milner deal and never managed to prove himself worthy, despite having a wide variety of managers to play under: Kevin MacDonald, Gerard Houllier, Alex McLeish and now Paul Lambert. Each and every one kept Ireland on the bench at some point.

With a lack of playing time, you'd think Ireland would've been off ages ago. But it's the money, you see. No one else is willing to give him the utterly insane amounts paid by Villa. Fortunately, his contract is up at the end of the season and Aston Villa will no longer have to pay money to Stephen Ireland.

I think I'll write a story about this every week until he's officially off the books. That, or until Alan Hutton mysteriously disappears and I can celebrate that every week instead. Congratulations, Ireland: You're not the most hated player at the club.