Ireland - We will do better

Republic of Ireland midfielder has noticed improvement in players

Stephen Ireland: Aston Villa midfielder is looking forward to the new season

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Stephen Ireland has promised Aston Villa fans a successful season after the club's dalliance with relegation last year.

Villa finished in 16th place last year - just two points above the drop zone - which ultimately cost Alex McLeish his job.

Paul Lambert was installed as his successor earlier this summer and former Manchester City midfielder Ireland is confident Villa will not relive the horrors of the previous campaign.

"Our tactics in the last couple of seasons were clearly wrong because we were fighting relegation, but I'm really confident that's not going to happen again," Ireland told the Birmingham Mail.

Positive

"The confidence in all the players is sky high at the moment and it's nice to see because I think the club deserve better and the fans deserve better than what's been happening.

"I think it's going to be a really positive season for us at this club.

"It's really encouraging to play football. He's pretty much saying we have to win the ball, keep the ball and score through good running, really."

Lambert has wasted little time implementing his fresh ideas and has revamped training to reflect his footballing beliefs.

Pressure

Players are now encouraged to retain possession and for the cultured midfielder, it is an approach he reckons will benefit the whole squad.

He added: "I know he's only been here for a few weeks, but you can already tell that the players are developing.

"You can see the boys are willing to have the ball under pressure.

"There is no hiding place anymore, really. You can't hide behind certain players or rely on certain players to win the ball anymore. We all have to do it for the team.

"I can already see players coming on in leaps and bounds, which is brilliant."