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Dublin: 2 °C Sunday 18 March, 2018

Quinn urges McClean: Don't end up like Stephen Ireland

The former Ireland, Manchester City and Sunderland striker had a cautionary tale for the man he helped sign.

Image: Steve Drew/PA Archive/Press Association Images

IT SHOULDN’T FEEL all that long ago since James McClean was the bright new talent, burning up Premier League defences.

Perhaps it’s the drastic change in climate since December 2011 and January 2012, but it is a lifetime ago in football terms.

McClean quickly made a name for himself by searing past defenders and smashing in crosses. It was a name that Giovanni Trapattoni must have privately cursed as it made him look like an endlessly stubborn soul for barely using the Derryman through Ireland’s Euro2012 campaign.

The name McClean appeared frequently for the wrong reasons too. And his outbursts on Twitter and Facebook have given the impression of a man ill at ease with his new surroundings in England’s top division, and last season that was imposed on the field.

“He certainly got a little bit of second-season-itis which happens to players from time to time” is the succinct view of Niall Quinn who was Sunderland chairman at the time McClean arrived on Wearside by way of Derry.

“Although I’m partly responsible for bringing him into the Premier League, I’m still not afraid to question his Twitter account and other things in his life that might have got in the way of the application you need to be a top player in the Premier League.”

The subject of McClean prompts Quinn to issue a cautionary tale about another Irish player who appeared to have the talent required to thrive at the highest level of football.

“There’s a warning there,” Quinn says. “Stephen Ireland argues that he’s made money along the way. I hope James doesn’t fall into that trap. This is about fulfilling your own ambitions, it’s about placing the bar higher than anybody else has for you.

“It’s all very well saying he has to raise his game, he’s got to want to raise it further than we all think. That’s the sort of single-mindedness and doggedness that was missing all year. He showed traces of his old self, but he’s got to get a good pre-season under his belt now and get back to getting people talking about him.”

Make it count

Quinn, who was speaking to as a member of SkySports’ punditry team for the new season, was keen to add that he is still thankful for the contribution made by McClean at his best and that he is still in contact with the former Candystripe.

“I hope it’s all in the past, I hope he’s matured – this is the year he has to make it all count again. I’ll be eternally grateful to him for his input during that first season when Martin O’Neill gave him his chance and he took the place by storm.

“Question marks remain about him now and [the media] are right to raise those questions. But I hope he’s big enough and tough enough now to know it’s not about interviews, it’s not about Twitter, it’s not not about flash cars or whatever.

“It’s about his application of his ability to be tough to mark, his creativity, defensive work and energy. All the things that looked to be a little bit below par last year.”

Sky Sports will show 43 live Premier League matches between August and December including all head to heads between last season’s top four.  Click here to see the full selection of games available on Sky.

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