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Super Stevie converts his critics

Stephen Ireland 0809

Stephen Ireland 0809

Player of the Year Stephen Ireland has admitted he knew he needed to win over some Blues fans going into this season - and senses that manager Mark Hughes has had to overcome the same obstacle.

Ireland, who is in contract talks following a campaign that often saw him justify his Superman nickname, is delighted that Hughes' future is confirmed after a platform-building first season in charge.

The 13-goal midfielder, aware he had his critics back in August, said: "I'd like to thank the fans for their votes in the player of the season award and their brilliant backing this season. I know I have turned around some of their opinions about me.

Last summer I was reading fan websites and it was clear some people didn't want me at City.

Stephen Ireland

 

"There were comments like 'if Sunderland want him, I will drive him there myself', and that really hurt.

"A year ago a lot of fans didn’t fancy me as a player - I knew that from what I saw and heard. There were a lot of negative comments from City supporters on their web-chats.

"Some people might have hid in a corner, but I didn’t. I chose to dedicate myself to getting my game right, and though it was tough, it's worked. Now the fans have forgotten all the negative stuff.

"There is nothing worse than them hating you, and nothing better than them singing your name. The manager has had some stick too, and it is how you deal with it. I did it my way and the gaffer has done it his.

"He has the players’ backing - we know that, in the long term, he is the man for the job. I'm really happy the manager’s future has been sorted out, and happy for the club. People will realise he is the right man."

It is just a year since Ireland sat down to consider what he wanted to achieve in the game over the long haul, and quickly realised he could step up his dedication levels to complement his natural talents.

He recalled: "I asked a lot of questions of myself pre-season. I didn’t make the starting line-up in the opening game at Aston Villa but once I got in against West Ham in the first home game I didn’t really look back. I felt great, and the challenge now is to be even better next season."

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