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Ireland on Elano

There are plenty of stories being knocked out this week from Abu Dhabi - no doubt in attempt by journos to justify the expense of jetting them out for the best part of the week, and The Guardian carries one that, whilst not a new subject, is always interesting in how it lifts the lid on the disharmony during the 2008/09 season.

As ever it seems, it is Stephen Ireland doing the talking:

"He [Hughes] had it tough," Ireland recalls. "Some players didn't want to be there. Some players just didn't want to buy into it. Elano and Jô, they didn't want to put in the extra effort and it wasn't like it was that hard. It wasn't like you were being run like a dog, just that it was more professional and more based on team spirit, and these players didn't want to get into that stuff."

Elano was subsequently sold to Galatasaray. "Under Sven, Elano got away with anything," Ireland continues. "It was Elano's world, to be honest. The gaffer came in and there were massive changes, and Elano couldn't adjust. He's a great guy, a nice guy, I got on great with him, and he's a very talented player, but he could have added a lot more to his game and been a lot better than what he is."

"It was a shame because I am sure they [Elano and Jô] will look back and regret it. Even with Elano, he didn't play too often last year but when he did play, he did improve. He might not say that himself, but he added an awful lot to his game, which I think was down to the gaffer – but I don't think Elano would admit that or even realise it."

Whilst it was obviously a tough fight for Hughes during last season, it is a battle that he has won with key component Elano offloaded whilst Jo has been cast adrift, perhaps never to return. There were plenty of fans during last season which were firmly against Hughes over this issue, and us bloggers who sided with Hughes took plenty of heat at times.

Can anyone say though that the decisions Hughes in terms of the players brought in and moved out haven't been haven't been the correct one? The club undoubtedly now has a squad that is behind Hughes, bought into his idea and above all, is appears to be a unified force.

Well, with one perhaps still undecided.