What now for Milner and Ireland after O’Neill quits?
The shock resignation of Martin O’Neill as Aston Villa manager is unlikely to change James Milner’s mind about wishing to leave the Midlanders and join City. But what about Stephen Ireland’s move in the opposite direction?
A deal involving cash plus Ireland for Milner was supposedly near to completion with Roberto Mancini optimistic of having the England midfielder in his squad by Thursday. If Ireland decides he no longer wants to join Villa then City would be back to having to agree a cash only deal. This may prove trickier as each club’s valuation of Milner has differed widely.
There’s a chance Villa might try to keep hold of Milner until they appoint a new manager. This would be unlikely as the reason the player wants to leave is to join the City ‘project’ rather than to get away from O’Neill. A new Villa manager is unlikely to alter Milner’s position.
For Ireland the situation may be worse. Martin O’Neill has often been able to focus players minds and get the best out of them. The return to form of Richard Dunne last season is a prime example. O’Neill also tends to keep faith with a settled side and Ireland ought to have been playing week-in week-out, something he craves.
Stevie now knows he is surplus to requirements at City, a situation unlikely to improve his state of mind. Yet moving from a potential trophy winning side like City to one without a manager at Villa cannot be an appealing prospect.
One sticking point in Ireland’s move to Villa was alleged to be his wages. Clubs like Everton or Sunderland, outside the champions league, will struggle to match the £70k per week he’s believed to be on at City.
With rumours that Mesut Ozil is set to join Barcelona doing the rounds today, could United or Arsenal turn their attention to Ireland? It might be unlikely, but stranger things have happened in the last weeks of a transfer window.
- How do you think O’Neill’s departure will affect the futures of Milner and Ireland?