Ireland spent a week with United on trial as a 15-year-old, but instead decided to join City.
“I didn’t know where I stood at United,” explained Ireland to the Daily Mirror. “I was there when I was 15, but I just didn’t like it.
“Every day there I’d be training with a different bunch of kids. I didn’t know who I was meant to be impressing, who my coaches were and I just felt all over the place.
“I only met Fergie once. I said ‘hello’ to him one day so he knew straight away I was Irish. He told me he has enough Irish players with Roy Keane and Denis Irwin, so I guess that was another hint for me to hit the road.
“I grew up supporting United so maybe my expectations were too high when I went there. But as soon as I can to City it felt right and I could see myself being where I am now.
“At United you see so many young players go out on loan, season after season, without making the first-team. I couldn’t do that. I’ve always wanted to play first-team football and thankfully I’ve managed that at City.”