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Paul Ince: The ‘Guv’ner’ or the Pretender?

By | 18th August 2008

As a proud United fan for many years, I have witnessed a great number of very talented players come through the Old Trafford doors. I have also seen a select few of these players become managers. Roy Keane, Mark Hughes, Steve Bruce, and now Paul Ince, to name a few. To be honest, I never expected Ince to delve into football management’s long corridors. Even more unexpected, in his relatively short managerial career, he has already been a shock success.

Just ask Macclesfield and MK Dons fans. Keeping Macclesfield up after starting from the very bottom was a remarkable achievement. An even more remarkable success was his Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and League Two title victories. Nobody could’ve foreseen the success Ince would have, but that success has inevitably drawn glances from the big guns. Hence Blackburn come knocking, and they get their man. There were doubts from many Blackburn fans, why him? Little experience of this level of management, concerns about his attitude. Simply, the same sort of doubts that surface when any player turns his attention to management.

As a player, Paul Ince was a winner. As a matter of fact, ask anyone what they think of Ince and the word winner becomes an almost tediously common reply. At United, he claimed every domestic honor in the game: the FA Cup, League Cup, and League title. And he won the first of Fergie’s league and cup doubles in 1994. In addition to this, he was a part of the side that won the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Ince was one of those rare players who would bleed for his teammates once they were on that pitch. Just think back to that night of 1997 against Italy. The guv’nor started the game with a white shirt, and ended it with a red one, having bled from a deep cut to the head. He treated the game like a war; defeat was not an option.

Determined and battle hardened, Paul Ince isn’t one to mix his words. Nor does he have time for those that do not appreciate a challenge. After the sales of England starlet David Bentley and shot stopper Brad Friedel, and the purchase of a seemingly flippant goalkeeper in Paul Robinson, those doubts increased to dangerously high levels. Reports of a mutiny surfaced from within the Rovers camp, although star striker Santa Cruz moved quickly to deny this.

Ince’s first league game saw a solid display from Rovers, coming from behind to beat Everton 3-2 at Goodison park. Not a bad start then. The hard work is just beginning for Paul Ince and his Rovers. However, I wouldn’t bet against him turning Blackburn into a major force outside the top 4. Doubt him if you dare.

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