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McClean Hoping To Leave Controversies In The Past

James McClean has been using WORDS. Few sentences instil a greater sense of fear and dread into a Sunderland fan than that. Amazingly, this time he has been doing it rather well.

Laurence Griffiths

James McClean has vowed to ensure the headlines he makes in the future are for football.

The controversial Irishman has caused a series of high-profile stirs during the last year which have coincided with a wretched season on the pitch, but insists he is ready to leave those days behind him.

Speaking whilst on international duty with Ireland, McClean said:

In the first season I was on top of the world,' he said. 'In the second season I was a bit indifferent for a lot of reasons that were well publicised.

The first six months was a bit of a whirlwind. A lot of things happened in between then but that will help me as a person. If I can learn from all that it will put me in good stead for the future.

I’ve no regrets, none at all. I am who I am. I was a lad from Derry and that probably went against me a bit. But that’s how it is. What I want is to just be me and what comes of that, comes of that.

I’m the same person I’ve always been. At Derry I would have got away with things like that because you’re not really in the spotlight.

I’ve always had to bite my tongue. That’s always been me growing up. That’s the way I was reared. There was no spotlight on me before, it was new to me. I’ve learned from that. I learned the hard way and matured a lot.

It’s been a difficult season for me at my club. Hopefully I’m going to put that behind me now and push on here with the Ireland squad.

I’ve never wanted to make headlines other than football. That’s just the way life is. Hopefully I can make the headlines for all the right reasons, for my football.

Fine words. Without the question the finest James McClean has ever publicly uttered. At times it almost seemed like he wanted to cause as big a storm as possible, such was the accuracy with which he pinpointed nerves.

Words are all well and good, of course, but whether he can follow through with it is another matter entirely. Once the post-season reflective calm has gone and been replaced with mid-season tension, that will be the true test.

He has apparently found a fine mentor in John O'Shea, though, backing up Paolo Di Canio's insistence that the former Manchester United defender is one of the few true talkers and leaders at the club.

I think at times John thinks he’s my dad. He tells me off a lot of time. He’s a top man, a great fella.

Both managers (Martin O'Neill and Giovani Trapattoni) had a word with me. Looking back I probably haven’t been the easiest to work with for them but I’ve taken that on board and I’ve matured a bit and hopefully it that’s behind me.

It seems that for now, at least, he is staying true to his word. When asked for an opinion on Titus Bramble's recent outburst against Paolo Di Canio, McClean gave the answer of a true diplomat and refused to be drawn into the dispute:

That’s Titus’ opinion, I’ll leave that to Titus. I’m not going to comment on the matter. Each manager has their own style, do you know what I mean? So I will just leave it at that.

'The two managers had two different style but he’s come in and helped us to get the points that made us safe so I guess you could say: `job done’. Hopefully next season we can push on.

There can be little question that McClean has burned many a bridge with the supporters this season. His descent from budding star to vilified plodder has been about as rapid as it has been spectacular.

I personally remain of the opinion that there is a player in there somewhere. With a fresh manager and a more mature and humble mind, we may well see it again.

That is if he survives the summer cull at the club, of course. Celtic have already been credited with an interest and others could follow.

Either way, it's just nice to see a James McClean interview and not feel the urge to bang your head against a brick wall as you dejectedly make your way to the bunker.

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