Ireland feels at home at Villa
Aston Villa's new midfielder Stephen Ireland believes he was "forced out" of Manchester City as he could not find any way to re-establish himself in manager Roberto Mancini's plans.
The 23-year-old went from being the Player of the Year at Manchester City for the 2008-09 season to playing little part under Mancini after the Italian took over last term.
"I was first in and last out of training and no-one worked any harder than me," said Ireland. "I was always the best player in training so maybe I was not for him. I was forced out but I couldn't be happier than to have joined Aston Villa because as a young kid I was always fond of Villa."
He added: "Watching Villa on television playing in Vienna this week it just felt that I had been here a long time because I have immediately felt at home."
The former Ireland international admits he needs to rebuild his confidence as he prepares to make his debut against Newcastle at St James' Park.
"For the last year or two it wasn't easy to operate," Ireland said.
"If I had left two or three years ago it would have been more difficult than now. Leaving now it seems as if I was never at City.
"It's a shame to leave behind people and fans with whom I had a good relationship. But I have been expecting to leave for some time.
"Under Mark Hughes at City everything appeared to be moving in the right direction.
"But then to make just 16 appearances last season was a massive drop for me. I want to kick on now because it was a big blow to my confidence."