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Gregory: Classy Ireland gets me on the edge of my seat
John Gregory on Stephen Ireland.
12th Sep 2012
Gregory: Classy Ireland gets me on the edge of my seat


By Paul Brown

Former boss John Gregory says Stephen Ireland is a thriller down the Villa.

Gregory admits he would have loved the chance to work with precocious Ireland when he was manager in B6.

The 59-year-old is a big fan of the magnificent midfield marauder but would like Ireland to produce his classy displays more regularly.

He said: "I'd have loved the chance to work with him.

"I think there's a great footballer in there. We see glimpses of it but we don't see it enough.

"I don't know Stephen - I've never met him - but what I see is a fantastic talent. I really enjoy watching him.

"Every now and then he does something and it makes me sit on the edge of my seat. There's something about him.

"I thought Paul might make him captain this season just to give him more responsibility. Sometimes people react to it well, sometimes it's a burden and obviously sometimes you can't make them captain because you aren't going to play them every week.

"But I remember when Paul said before the first game at West Ham:

"I've picked my captain but haven't announced it." I just thought: "Hmmm, I wonder if it's Stephen Ireland." I was interested to find out.

"He has everything - a great touch, masses of energy, he can get around the pitch and he was player of the year with the fans.

"He should be the first choice every week on the team-sheet. But I understand why he's not because he needs to be more consistent.

"He's certainly started this season well and long may that continue. I'm sure Paul will be looking to get the very best out of him and that's begun well.

"There's an amazing player in there. We have to see it more regularly."

Gregory is in positive mood as this campaign continues and believes Villa will charge up the table to secure a respectable mid-table position in May.

He says fans shouldn't expect miracles but thinks the future is bright with Lambert in charge.

He added: "When Paul came into the Barclays Premier League with Norwich, he'd been with the club for two years previous. He had shaped Norwich. He had put his own stamp on Norwich.

"When he arrived into the top-flight, every player knew what their job was on the field. They had been doing it incessantly for two years. They'd had Paul in their earholes telling them what he wants and he expects. They knew what was required.

"These guys, they are just learning. Paul has been only been at Villa for about ten weeks. It takes time to change people - their habits. It will take a little time to bed in.

"I think he has brought in young players because he can still change their habits. It's tough when you bring in old pros, at 29, 30, to make them think differently or act differently.

"But he's brought in young and hungry players who will learn what Paul wants of them.

"There will be a few hiccups between now and Christmas but I think this group of players given time and coaching will eventually hold its own in the middle of the table this season.

"We can't expect Champions League or Europa League yet. If we get in that top half, it will have been a good season.

"But Paul is still learning. He's discovering what makes Darren Bent tick. He doesn't know - he's never worked with him before. He learns more about the lads every day.

"He will find the right balance, which combinations go well together. Things will be good for Villa, I'm sure, but it will just take a little time. You can't make an omelette without breaking an egg!"

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