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Paul Ince
Gender Male
Nationality UK
Ethnic English
Job English Footballer
  English Midfielder
Desc At his best, Ince played a crucial role in both of Alex Ferguson’s first two Premier League titles. He was the midfield enforcer who never stopped, but he also weighed in with his fair share of goals arriving on the edge of the box. After six years at Old Trafford, Ince moved to Inter Milan before later spells at Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Wolves


Club as Coach Macclesfield
  MK Dons
  Notts County
Club as Player Macclesfield FC
  Swindon FC
  Wolves FC
  Middlesbrough FC
  Liverpool FC
  Inter Milan
  Manchester United
  West Ham United


Son Tom Ince

2007 03 09 Retrieve

[Macclesfield boss Paul Ince after the 2-1 win over Peterborough spared Rover for another week] Sometimes you want to crack open the champagne and sometimes you want to kick the dog

2011 04 02 Retrieve

[Paul Ince has taken a swipe at Fabio Capello poor grasp of English] It took me six months to learn Italian. I still speak it now

2013 04 05 Retrieve

[father Paul Ince says Tom Ince worth £25m] If you’re talking £15m for Zaha, Thomas has got to be £25m. If you compare the two, Thomas should cost more. Zaha is a fantastic player, don’t get me wrong. Zaha’s a stronger runner and does a lot of tricks, whereas Thomas is more direct, he makes things happen and he scores goals. You’ve got a kid playing in the Championship who has scored 18 goals. When you look at the leading scorers, they’re all strikers, and he’s there amongst them. Potentially, I think he can reach that value. If Palace want £15m for Zaha who has scored six goals, it makes you wonder what price he’s going to be. You’re not going to get it because he’s not proven in the Premier League, but if United are paying £15m for Zaha, on the stats you’d have to say Thomas is worth a lot more than that. That’s my opinion.

2014 02 05 Interview

[Former Blackpool Manager Paul Ince recalls he was in good term with club chairman Karl Oyston who just fired him via text] We had a good relationship. He had his way of doing things which were alien to the way I would but we never fell out. I got on well with his family, his wife and kids. It was disappointing I’ve had to hear it from my wife. He said because I was on the Pro-Licence that he couldn’t get hold of me

These courses are vital. In Germany, managers and coaches have to miss games to get the Pro-Licence done. I would rather have been told face to face. Me and the chairman met on Sunday night, we had a conversation, we knew what we were doing. We had players on our list that we could have got, good players who would have improved the team, who have now gone to bigger clubs in the Championship

It’s made me more determined. If I felt I couldn’t do the job as a manager I’d go and work on TV. Every club I have been to has involved firefighting: Macclesfield, MK Dons, Blackburn, Notts County, Blackpool. I’ve managed to steer them away from trouble. I know what I’m doing. I work hard. I have an eye for good players

[He talked about why he wants to get back into management] I’ve worked with some of the best players in the world. I’ve learned from some of the best managers, Fergie, Venables, Hoddle, even as a kid, learning from John Lyall at West Ham, God rest his soul

John Lyall was hard but fair. He did scare me but he was good for me. Eddie Baily [West Ham’s chief scout back then] said to Lyall: ‘The kid’s no good’. Lyall said: ‘I trust in this kid, he’s had a tough upbringing. I want to give him a chance’. I didn’t get any exams. I was always bunking school. I had no family life as a kid

My dad left when I was two. My mum left me when I was 10 to go to Germany, looking for work, bar-work to make ends meet. My older brother went to live in Ipswich. My sister had to go and live in Germany. I lived with my cousins in Ilford, then in digs from 13. I’ve had to look after myself from a young age. Growing up, I wanted to be with my parents. It’s why I spend as much time as I can with my kids

I had my own little family in Ilford [Essex], a gang of boys, hanging around on the streets, getting into trouble, fighting. There were gangs, Beacontree, Canning Town, and we were Ilford. We used to meet up for punch-ups. I remember gatecrashing a party, got into a fight, ended up breaking someone’s ribs

A week later at Chadwell Heath [West Ham’s training ground], all of a sudden Mick McGiven [one of Lyall’s coaches] came over and said: ‘the Gaffer wants to see you’. I walked into the office and there were two policemen sitting there

Lyall said: ‘I’ve been convincing these coppers not to take you to prison’. I played dumb. ‘Sorry, Gaffer, what are you on about? ‘You were in a fight last week, the boy reported you, you broke his ribs. They want to take you away. I convinced them I’m looking after you and it won’t happen again’

The two coppers walked out and then Lyall absolutely lambasted me. ‘I’ve not got time to waste on you, you little pipsqueak. If you get in any trouble again, you can p*** off’.

[He then had a coating of a different sort] Chadwell Heath has these claret-and-blue gates, and I spent the next four weeks before and after training, getting in at 8am and finishing at 4pm, painting those gates and creosoting the fence

[Ince did well and in 1989 Ferguson came calling, talking to Lyall] Lyall had looked after me since I was 13, was a father figure, and said to Fergie: ‘Listen, make sure you take over the responsibility of being a father figure to him’. That helped me. Fergie was very kind to me. He wasn’t as intense with me as he was with other players

I met him at a hotel in Waltham Abbey. He was sitting there, suit on, cup of tea, and I couldn’t believe I was in the same room as Alex Ferguson, the manager of Manchester United. It was always a dream of mine to play for Manchester United. Bryan Robson was my idol. I always wanted to base my game on his - never actually got there. I always wanted to play for the team he was playing for. So to get the chance to go to United was fantastic

Ferguson never coached; it was either Brian Kidd or Archie Knox. He would sit in his office and look down from his big window at the Cliff and if anyone was farting about, he’d be banging on the window and we all knew we were in trouble

It was only on Thursday that we saw Ferguson in training, and then on Friday morning, doing the boxes with his silly little woolly hat on. Saturday was his domain. That’s when you really saw him. If I’d seen Ferguson every day on the training ground it wouldn’t carry that as much substance. It was special when we saw him. ‘Gaffer’s here, stand by your beds’

We played Millwall at home in my first game [Sep 16, 1989]. I thought wow, Old Trafford! We beat them 5-1 and I thought I’m really going to like it here. The next week, we went to Maine Road, got beaten 5-1 and I couldn’t go outside the hotel!

Those were great teams. So many strong characters, myself, [Robson](bobby-robson.html), Keane, Cantona, Bruce, Schmeichel, so many egos, so many opinions. I’d argue with Keaney, Keaney would argue with Schmeichel, Schmeichel would argue with Brucey and everyone was shouting like little kids

But Fergie’s voice was the one that counted. We were big giants and all of a sudden he walked in and we were like little boys. Sir Alex had a great presence. He was ‘the man’

When people ask me what was the greatest ever United team under Ferguson, I always say 93-94, not because I was in it but because of the balance, the many big characters in that changing-room, who would answer Fergie back, but he managed to gel us altogether to achieve something special. That’s the greatness of the man

[Ince made close friends at United, including Eric Cantona and Ryan Giggs] Giggsy was my best mate. He came from a split home so maybe that’s one reason we understood each other. I got on really well with his mum Lynne

It got to the stage at one point where Giggsy was having problems at home and we’d talk about it. ‘Listen I’ve not had a dad since I was two and the most important person in your life is your mum. Not your girlfriend, not your wife, it’s your mum. Don’t worry too much about your dad. You’ve come so far without him’

He ended up coming to stay with me for six months in Bramhall. He was a messy little bastard! His room had underpants and socks all over the place. I was saying to Claire: ‘Have you seen his room, it’s a disgrace.’ ‘Don’t worry,’ she said, ‘he’s only a kid!’ Giggsy did milk it. That’s where we built up our friendship. We used to practise goal celebrations in the bedroom. ‘No that’s not right, let’s try this one’ and eventually got it. That’s where we got those stupid dances!

He’s a smashing kid. To see him still playing now is amazing. I remember two years ago he came to my villa in Portugal with Stacey and the kids. He took his top off and he was just the same size as when he started playing. I thought I’d better leave my top on! He’s brilliant, converting from a flying-machine winger to playing in the centre of the park where he’s got to be cleverer

Me, Giggsy and Eric used to go out, have dinner, and we’d get on really, really well. Eric was funny, a good character, great company. When he was trying to be serious, me and Giggsy would be laughing. Eric would say: ‘What are you laughing at?’ ‘Nothing Eric. You’re 6ft 2in. We’re not laughing’

Eric was the best trainer I’d ever trained with. This was someone who used to come in at 9am at the Cliff, doing his own warm-up before anyone got there. We’d turn up at 9.45 and he’d been out there working on his skills for 45 minutes, left foot, right foot, every day. After about three months, I was there training early with him, Giggsy was there, Sharpey was there, copying him. I had to work on my left foot because it was rubbish. Now my left is nearly as good as my right all because of Eric

[By 1993, the United midfielder was acquiring more England caps, and also the armband, against the USA on the summer tour in Foxboro] The first question I got asked was: ‘what’s it like to be the first black England captain?’ I’d never really thought about it that way, I said. I was just proud to be England captain. I didn’t really look at my colour. Other people did. The fan-mail was unbelievable. I had 400-500 letters. They were from deprived kids. They were from mums and dads whose sons were in trouble, but I’d inspired them by becoming the first black England captain

They’d write: ‘Can you come down and have a chat with my kid’. I thought I can’t chat to 400 people. I replied to all the letters. I wrote: ‘If you work hard, and believe, you will get there in the end. That was the case with me: have the passion to deal with the obstacles put in your way’

[Ince was a passionate player, giving everything, learning from managers, playing under Roy Hodgson after moving to Inter in 1995 and then absorbing ideas under Venables with England] When I look back to euro 96 with Venables, he played three at the back more or less, a great bit of tactical genius from Terry. We should have won euro 96. We played good football, 4-1 against Holland, all passion and being on the front foot

Even during the Spain game when we got battered [and won on penalties], I felt it was our time. Against Germany, I still think Gazza’s going to get to that ball [sliding in and almost scoring]. I was taking the sixth penalty after Gareth Southgate. When he missed I was a bit relieved! I’m joking Southy! Penalties are a lottery. We should have beaten the Germans

[In 1997, Ince left Inter for Liverpool] I could have gone to Chelsea or Arsenal. Ruud Gullit was at Chelsea and wanted me. So did Arsène Wenger at Arsenal. I thought: ‘I spent six great years at United, I liked the North-west’. So I chose Liverpool. I loved Liverpool, everything about it. The fans were unbelievable. Chelsea had the Bridge and Arsenal had Highbury but there was something bigger about Old Trafford and Anfield. The European nights, the history. The chance to play at Anfield was something I couldn’t turn down

I was good friends with Macca (Steve McManaman), Jamie (Redknapp), Jamo (David James) and Robbie (Fowler). They felt I was the missing piece in the jigsaw in midfield to go on and do things. We had a really good side, me and Jamie and Patrik Berger, McManaman, Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler, Karlheinz Riedle. If our defence had been great we would have won the title the year we finished third [in 97-98]

[One of Ince’s most memorable games came while a Liverpool player for England in qualifying for France 98, getting the required point in Rome, although they almost lost when Christian Vieri went close late on] That was a very good Italian team. That Vieri header! I was in London the other day with Thomas [after his loan move to Crystal Palace] and people came up, saying ‘remember Rome, you captained your country, you’d done [cut] your head’

I remember Demetrio Albertini elbowed me. I remember the doctor putting the stitches in, must have been the worst stitches put in. It kills me because it’s killed my hair! He was rushing, digging deeper and Hoddle was trying to do a team-talk. All the lads said they could hear me screaming because the doc was screwing up my stitches

The only other thing I remember was late on, Ian Wright cutting inside, hitting the post, him falling on the floor, Teddy Sheringham hitting the rebound, it getting blocked and him falling on the floor. Italy go down the pitch with Roberto Donadoni, who crosses, Vieri heads it and David Seaman is going the other way. It was like slow motion. I remember it going past the post

I turned and looked up the pitch and it was like a war-zone. Wrighty was on the floor, Sheringham was on the floor, their bench was on the floor, heads in hands. So was our bench. But we got through. I felt then that we could do well at the World Cup. I looked at players like Dave Seaman and Alan Shearer, and sensed that we would do really well. We had a good mix, old-school and young like Michael, we had flair and leaders

Hoddle was so into his football. I can’t believe Hoddle is not managing now. He has so much to give. He was so methodical. He was the Jose Mourinho of ‘98 because he was so far ahead of the game. He’d learned under Wenger. If Hoddle had stayed with England, we might have won something because he was that far ahead of anyone else

[England’s hopes in the round of 16 against Argentina were compromised by David Beckham’s dismissal for a gentle kick out at Diego Simeone] Becks getting sent off was devastating. I think we would have beaten Argentina and gone on to win that World Cup if we’d stayed at 11. That’s not to say anything against Becks. That’s probably a sending-off now but not back in ‘98. It was madness. It was a poor decision

Even now, I think of the shot I had at 2-2, 20 yards out. I think of what would have happened in my life if that had gone in. I’m not a great penalty-taker but I felt I’d had such a good game, playing so well, that if it came to penalties I was taking one. I was that confident. I’ll score. Then I missed a penalty and I felt it’s all my fault.

It hurt me more than ‘96. It was the World Cup. I felt that squad would never come together again. It was a morgue in the dressing-room. Tony Adams was trying to lift everyone, saying ‘we’ve done well with 10’. A few of us were in tears.

Becks was in tears. What Becks then had to go through was a disgrace, the way he was treated. It showed Becks’ strength of character to turn it around, score the winner against Greece to take England to the next World Cup. But ‘98 was my last chance. It killed me

[His club career kept going strong, continuing at Liverpool and then Middlesbrough] I didn’t want to leave Liverpool [in ‘99]. But Gerard Houllier said they were trying to sign Marc-Vivien Foe, God rest his soul

I’d had a really good season. I was 31. I had a lot left in me. Four years on, I was still playing in the Premier League against Stevie Gerrard. There was no reason to bring someone else in. But I’m not one to hold grudges. I got Player of the Year two years in a row at Middlesbrough and then went to Wolves and played under Glenn again

But my legs started to ache, I struggled to get up in the morning, and I started focusing on going into management. I never wanted to be a coach. I’m not a good coach. I don’t like coaching. I like to manage

[Ince wants more players from his generation and more recent ones to move into management] People like Rio Ferdinand - can we convince them to go into management?

You’ve got Tim Sherwood at Tottenham with Les Ferdinand on the bench. Weighty was always going to be a pundit. That’s his character and he does a fantastic punditry job. I look at Sol Campbell and Dave Seaman, played for England, where are they now? McManaman, Fowler. Shearer tried his hand at Newcastle. Gareth is now doing the Under-21s

Look at the Spanish and Germans and they all have ex-players involved in their national set-ups. We need to get the players in who’ve had the experiences, who are role models for these kids in the England Under-19s, who are earning a lot of money and think they’ve made it. They need coaches they respect straight away

[Ince’s managerial career started in unglamorous surrounds] If somebody had offered me a job in the Premiership when I left Wolves, I wouldn’t have taken it. I wanted to learn my trade, learn how to manage. I went to Swindon for four months, played a few games for Wisey and Gus Poyet, but it was mainly to look and learn. I did some coaching there, got to know the mentalities of the players. Sir Alex always said to me: ‘Motivation is the key to success’. Jose Mourinho inspires players

I have still a lot to learn. But I’ve done it the right way. I went to Macclesfield who were bottom of League Two. I got more phone calls from people saying ‘you are absolutely mad’ then saying ‘congratulations on your first job’. Before my first team-talk at Macclesfield I’ve never been so nervous. I couldn’t sleep the night before. But I kept Macclesfield up. I loved it there, putting the alarm on and locking the stadium up at 7.30pm

[Ince went on to MK Dons, and then Blackburn] I thought: ‘Jesus Christ, this is the Premiership, this is my chance’. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have taken the Blackburn job. It came too soon. Brad Friedel went. David Bentley went. They had four great years under Mark Hughes but it needed rebuilding. There was this trust fund. They weren’t actually putting any money into the club. It was really tough

[He went back to MK Dons and then on to Notts County] They were in trouble. But we got Thomas on loan [from Liverpool], Lee Miller on loan (from Middlesbrough) and went on a great run on a terrible pitch. This is what frustrates me: right, bang, we’d just beaten Sunderland away in the FA Cup, got Manchester City in the next round, drew 1-1 at Meadow Lane, and were trying to change the culture of the club. We couldn’t bring any players in and it killed us

It was exactly the same at Blackpool. Last year, they were going down, me and Alex came in, and our record was phenomenal, play-off form, and we managed to keep them up. I’m meticulous. Me and Alex got in early, didn’t leave the office until 7.30 at night. We didn’t cut corners

Anyway, we went to pre-season in Portugal. We had eight first-team players, eight kids and eight trialists. You don’t build a team from that. But we got off to a flying start. I knew the first XI we had at Blackpool could compete with anyone in the Championship with the motivation I give them

I knew as soon as we lost one or two to injury that we’d struggle. That’s why I had targets to come in to improve the team. But I wasn’t allowed to do it. I’d like to think people would understand what a great job I did at Blackpool. Football people know that

[He has hardly stopped talking, pausing only for a sip of water. Now 46, Ince also so much to say about the problems with English football generally] We are too obsessed with foreign managers. Because we have an influx of so many foreign players the owners think the best way is to bring in foreign coaches because they understand the culture of foreign players. Even watching the City-Chelsea game on Monday I was thinking everyone was foreign [19 of the 22 starters]. That can’t be right. As a former England player, that kills me

The problem we have is that the Premier League are not interested in England. The FA are but don’t have the power. We get through the group phases at a World Cup, play against a better team, get beaten and all of a sudden everyone says: ‘damn, we don’t have enough world-class players’

Well, we’re not going to have enough world-class players if we keep bringing in foreign players. There has to be some stipulation where you can only bring so many foreign players in. But the Premier League is so big now, it’s a train that’s not stopping

It saddens me more over what will happen next for England. Steven Gerrard is coming to the end of his career, probably has another two years. JT and Rio are not playing for England. Look at the all the great players we had - Shearer, Campbell, Adams. We’re not getting those players any more

I like Ross Barkley. He has something about him. I worked with Phil Jones at Blackburn. He has the right character. I don’t think he’s a central midfield player. But sometimes at centre half, he wants to go forward with the ball and gets himself in positions he shouldn’t

Look at the good England sides - Euro 96, France 98. They had characters, men, leaders. We’re not getting leaders any more. It’s the fault of the Academy system and society. Kids are getting snapped up by Premier League clubs at seven, coached at an early age. It’s not ‘go and enjoy football’. If they look half-decent they’re getting four-year contracts, their parents are being given money. Parents from foreign countries are being invited over and given a job

Why are these Premier League kids playing Under-21s? They should be playing [on loan] for League One or Two teams. You get more characters at Macclesfield and Notts County because they’re grown men, who’ve seen a bit of the outside world

Thomas could have signed a four-year deal at Liverpool. He said: ‘As much I love Liverpool, I need to go and see the real world.’ That’s why he went to Notts County where he could get kicked and no one cares who you are. He’s learned a lot from that

When I see all these kids in the England Under-21s, they’ve not been in the real world. They get too much, too soon. You see them driving around in nice cars and I’m thinking ‘you’ve not achieved anything yet’. I see them with earrings and tattoos. They think they’ve made it. A lot of players are more interested in looking like players rather than being players

Tom has no earrings, no tattoos. He wants to be a player. It would be easy for him to look like a player because ‘I’m Paul Ince’s son’ but he wants his own identity, to get away from ‘Paul Ince’s son’. He’s different to other kids. They just go on their PlayStations but Thomas will sit and watch games with me, Spanish, French, Italian football

I can have a conversation with him about any player. I don’t just want him to play the game; I want him to understand the game. If he goes to the next level, if somebody like Mourinho or Wenger says something to him, he will be able to take it in rather than go ‘uh?’ Maybe in 10 or 20 years’ time he might want to be a manager. He’s competitive - and polite

I’m polite. People don’t think I’m polite because they only see me from when I played football: aggressive, moans and shouts but only because I want to win. They don’t see me in my normal life, relaxed with my family. I’m quiet. But I want to get managing again. But I don’t want to keep jumping into fires all the time. I want a chairman who says: ‘right here’s a three-year plan’ and have some stability.

But when I look back I can’t complain, I’m a lucky, lucky man to have won trophies, played at Wembley, played in a World Cup. I’m privileged

I was the first black England captain. I was the first black Premier League manager. I am a trailblazer for other black people. I’m a pioneer

2015 11 10 Retrieve

[on David Beckham] Becks was the true professional, he was probably the best technical player I played with. I used to watch him and watch him. As soon as we’d finished [training], the mannequins would be out and he’d be taking free-kicks, corners and he’d do it for an hour. Every training session he’d give 110 per cent, he would never beat anybody but if you give him a yard, he’ll put in the best balls you’ll ever see. What a player

2015 11 28 Retrieve

[on Roy Keane] For a complete player, without a doubt Keano. Apart from the bad side he had, he was the complete midfield player for me. He was an inspiration, a leader, could score you vital goals, he could tackle when he had too, he would be naughty when he had too but playing alongside him for three or four seasons helped him improve my game a lot

2015 12 04 Retrieve

[Paul Ince believes Ander Herrera is better suited to Spanish football] When they bought Herrera I thought it was a lot of money and when I first saw him he was small and looked quite weak, especially for the Premier League. I watched him play in Spain and he suits the Spanish game but I don’t think he suits the Premier League

When he plays he gets forward and gets a couple of goals but Van Gaal has gone for two strong ones sitting in there and it’s hard for him to fit into that. I’m not sure he’s going to be a regular in a Louis van Gaal side and although he’s a very good player he’s just more suited to Spain

[Paul Ince says Marouane Fellaini deserves to be more than a bench player] I feel sorry for Fellaini because the price tag was a lot of money. He played decent for Everton as a No 10 under Moyes but there are certain players in certain teams under certain managers who suit each other’s styles

With Fellaini I think he’s a very intelligent player but he’s at the wrong club. For a player of that ability to come on for the last 10 minutes in every game more or less just for long balls. I think he’s better than that and he deserves a chance. It’s also a sad indictment of United not creating enough chances when they have to throw on Fellaini and put balls into the box

He might decide that’s enough come January because every player wants regular football and he’s too good of a player to be sitting on the bench

2015 05 07 Retrieve

[Tom Ince tipped to be the next Bale by his father Paul Ince] I’m disappointed in Hull as, in every game he’s played, he’s done well. Instead of playing, he’s sitting in my house at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon when his team are playing, which can’t be right.

I’ve not spoken to [Hull boss Steve Bruce] yet but will be speaking to him very soon. If you allow Thomas to express himself, you’ll get rewards, as they’ve seen at Derby.

He’s still got a bit to do; he’s a little bit weak and will be a late developer. I remember looking at Bale and he was a little bit skinny but, the next year, he bulked up and was outstanding. That’s where Thomas is going to be next year.

2015 12 30 Retrieve

[on Sir Alex Ferguson] What he’s done is unbelievable. You’ll never see anyone of his kind again. [. . .] The man was immense and he got the best out of me that’s for sure. The way he treated me was like a son

2016 02 17 Retrieve

[on Tony Adams] Colossus. Proper centre half. Men-of-men. In our England team we were all men, we were all big characters and big men but he was men-of-men. He was a leader and he inspired people around him. People say he wasn’t the best passer but he wasn’t that bad. His volley against Everton showed he could play. He wasn’t the quickest but his timing of tackling. He was a brilliant organiser, he’s top draw

2016 02 18 Retrieve

[Quote on Roberto Carlos] When I first met him at Inter, I thought wow. Firstly, I couldn’t believe how big his legs were, you can see that in the way he plays and strikes a ball. He had great pace up and down the line, he could tackle, score and he was an incredible player

2016 02 19 Retrieve

[Quotes on Paul Gascoigne] Probably the best player I played with. What more can I say? He’s a maverick, he just had everything. He wasn’t the quickest but he had that little injection of pace to get away from people [. . .]. He’s brilliant, scores all types of goals and without doubt the best player I played alongside

2016 03 24 Retrieve

[on Alan Shearer] When I think about a complete striker and what I’d want as a manager as my striker is Alan Shearer. It’s not just the goals he scored, he was a handful, he could run the channels, his retention of the ball was fantastic and he was a leader of men. I don’t think we’ll have a striker in that mould again

2016 10 10 Retrieve

[Paul Ince on Tony Adams] Colossus. Proper centre half. Men-of-men. In our England team we were all men, we were all big characters and big men but Tony Adams was men-of-men

2017 02 04 Retrieve

[Paul Ince believes that Wayne Rooney’s time at Manchester United is finished] If I was in his position, at his age, there’s absolutely no chance I’d stay at Manchester United. Rooney is 31 and still has a lot to offer. He wants to play football, and wants to play every game. His time at Man United is finished if they can’t offer him that anymore. He’s too good to be a bit-part player and it’s time for him to move on from Manchester United

People shouldn’t even be suggesting that Wayne Rooney is finished in football. It’s disrespectful to even suggest that. He is world class, and has proven that time and time again at the highest level

There’s been talk of a move to China or to the MLS, but he still has plenty more to give to top-flight English football. If Jose Mourinho said he was available, there should be plenty of Premier League top half clubs who would jump to sign him

2019 05 30 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Jurgen Klopp is no bottler] For Liverpool, winning the Champions League wouldn’t make up for losing out on the Premier League title. The disappointment of losing it on the last day of the season, or of Vincent Kompany’s unbelievable goal against Leicester, will be huge. There’ll be nothing that can replace the league title, but winning the European Cup would come close. I hear people saying that if Klopp loses this final, he’s a bottler. And let me tell you something right now, people who say things like that - I can’t even find the word to describe them. How can you call Liverpool bottlers? They’ve pushed City to the last game of the season, they’re in the Champions League final and they were in it last year too. Yes, they were nervous and lost out, but they’ve clearly not let it get to them.

It’s completely disrespectful to call them or Klopp a bottler. We all know that as a manager you have to win something, some silverware, but Pochettino is in the same position. Both teams have proved that when they need to dig in and get a result. When you look at Klopp when he took over - he’s done an amazing job, a job no one else could have come in and done. The only thing I would say is that if Klopp fails to win this weekend, perhaps it would be a case of putting more focus in securing a League Cup or an FA Cup, to ensure you have trophies in the cabinet and the winning mentality. But to call Liverpool or Klopp a bottler is a disgrace - utterly ridiculous, whether they win or lose on Saturday.

2019 07 23 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Jesse Lingard’s diabolical & Anthony Martial’s a fizzy drink] You’ve got Marcus Rashford who scored 11 goals last year and gets a new contract. Jesse Lingard was diabolical last year, he really, really was. Then there’s Alexis Sanchez. They got nothing out of Sanchez whatsoever. So as much as we’re talking about the defence and Chris Smalling and Harry Maguire, surely we’ve got to be looking at who’s going to be playing up top. We need to be looking at that because attacking-wise they’re not great. Martial? He’s a fizzy drink. He pops now and then. One moment he’s great, one moment he’s not

2019 07 23b Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Liverpool should be in the market for Gareth Bale if they can afford him] My opinion is if Liverpool can afford him, he should go there. Liverpool’s front three haven’t had much rest before the season - Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have played all over the summer. Bale can play right, left or central. If I was looking at a team if they could afford him, it would be Liverpool. He needs to reinvent himself as a player and play football week in, week out. He would have to take a massive wage drop. It can’t be about money for Bale. He has to go to a team who can win things. Liverpool are European champions and they want to make a massive challenge in the league again. Who else could afford him? Man City maybe, Man United and I don’t think Tottenham would be the right club. I would like to see him at Liverpool. He still has four or five years left. I think he’d be a perfect fit

2019 07 24 Retrieve

[Former Liverpool star Paul Ince suggested on Tuesday that the Reds should be one of the sides in for Gareth Bale] My opinion is if Liverpool can afford him, he should go there. Bale can play right, left or central. If I was looking at a team if they could afford him, it would be Liverpool.

2019 08 04 Retrieve

[Former Red Devils skipper Paul Ince did not hold back in an open letter questioning the management of the club from top to bottom] There’s just so much about Manchester United that isn’t right. The footballing ­decisions have been mental for a few years now. The club has fallen far behind the pack. I’d like to think that they will recover, but I think we could be waiting a while. United are back in the Europa League, which is depressing to even think about it, never mind speak about. You’ve got to realise that, while United have fallen behind, City and Liverpool have kept advancing. Don’t think for one minute that those teams will give United any chance to catch up, they’ll only slip further behind.

It’s all about personnel for United now. How you improve not only the team but the club, from the top down. You have to start again from fresh. For me, a lot of the issues come down to the attitude of the squad. The players are doing exactly what they want, when they want, and there’s no control from above. It wouldn’t happen under Fergie and it wouldn’t happen under Pep Guardiola. Players are dictating to you and the board what they want - and that’s not on. I get it. You’re a banker - not a football man. You’re absolutely fantastic at bringing in profit and sponsorship deals but you can’t just keep throwing money away on players.

You need someone in who gets football, who has the presence to deal with these players and tell them they can’t demand X, Y and Z from United. Tell them where to stick it. Players like Jesse Lingard think they’re bigger than the club and the manager. If Fergie was in charge they wouldn’t be doing it, they wouldn’t even still be at the club. Jesse has been bang average this year and if I’d performed the way he did last season the last thing I would do is post anything on social media. The way he played last season he should be embarrassed. Then there’s Pogba - the man you spent £89 million on. Why did he wait until the end of the season to say he wants to go with a sly comment in the press? If you’re gonna say it, say it in front of those thousands of fans who go to watch you

[Solskjaer says he wants to change the philosophy at the club and focus on developing young players rather than more established stars, highlighted by the summer signings of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James. But Ince believes that strategy is a mistake] On transfer business. I hear people say you need to get players in that will work hard and run around for the club - but it’s not about that. I can come in now and work hard and run about, even at my age. I mean, I wouldn’t last five minutes, but that’s not the criteria that you should want. It’s about quality players with the right spirit and attitude. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was signed for £55m, a lot of money for a full-back. Ole said he wanted to go down the route of bringing in younger, fresher talent and building the team that way - but that’s not the way to go.

Do you see many youth players in Manchester City ‘s team except Phil Foden? No, and they just won the league. Liverpool have a couple, but the majority of their team are senior, experienced players interspersed with youth. Youth players today aren’t the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. There’s just not that much coming through the academy. Yes, pick two or three youngsters but then integrate them with top class, top quality senior players - don’t rely on it. Then there’s the manager. I said last season you should’ve gone with someone more experienced and I stand by that. But you have made your bed and now have to lie in it. You have tried the whole binning a manager after a year thing and it’s not worked. Now you have to stick with Ole.

2019 08 13 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Paul Pogba’s heart isn’t fully in it at Manchester United] Before the game, I was concerned about the Paul Pogba situation and how the fans would react. The way he went about his business this summer, saying he wanted to leave, I wondered what the supporters would do. But he owes the fans because their reception was good. He must’ve been sceptical about the reaction he was going to get, but you have to applaud the fans because it couldn’t have been easy seeing him behave like that. That could have really impacted the way the team played, if all the focus was on Pogba and there was a negative environment for him. It has an impact on all the players, too, they wonder whether they’re going to walk out and he will be slaughtered - and it means he, once again, becomes the centre of attention. That being said, it’s clear that his heart isn’t fully in it at Man United and you can see that from how he played against Chelsea.

Sometimes his concentration levels weren’t as they should have been - maybe he still has it in his mind that he’s going to get away before the European window shuts in a couple of weeks. He’s saying all the right things off the pitch, but I wonder if that’s because he has one eye on the exit door. No one is going to be totally happy and confident he’s staying until the window shuts in Spain, Italy etc. You’ve got a big decision after that - if he doesn’t go to Real Madrid, how’s he going to react with his performances at United, at least up until January? With him, the toys are often thrown out of the pram, but if he’s staying he needs to knuckle down for the club.

It would be tough for United if he does go, though, and they are unable to replace him. Because from what I can see they don’t have someone already that can do what he does. His attitude was better on Sunday, but he has to continue that now, especially if he doesn’t get his transfer. He’s still putting himself in the shop window at the moment, and it’s clear he wants the move to Real Madrid, so I believe he’ll play to the best of his ability until their window shuts. It’ll be interesting to see what happens after that

2019 08 13b Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Romelu Lukaku will be a big loss for Manchester United] It’s a tough one with Romelu Lukaku, because the fact of the matter is he is always going to score you goals. Last season you could see the signs that he wasn’t happy, that he wanted to leave. There were signs that the end was approaching for him, but what he does offer is guaranteed goals in the net. As a club, for United to suddenly lose 20 or so goals that he nets, that’s a big loss and they should have replaced him - his goals will be missed. It puts a lot of pressure on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. In my eyes, for United to be performing well, Rashford needs to be netting 20-25 goals this season and I’m not yet sure if he’ll do that.

I look at United and I feel like they’re almost copying a Liverpool model. They got Virgil van Dijk in and United got Harry Maguire in, and it seems they’ve gone for three forwards too, pacey players like [Anthony] Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford - I don’t see where Lukaku fits into that - so I’m not surprised Ole let him go. But that does put extra pressure on the younger lads to find the net. The fact is, Lukaku is a goalscorer, he’s always been a natural goalscorer but the ball has to be placed right in front of him. He has to be fed and he will score you goals, and I’m sure he’ll show that at Inter Milan. Having played there myself, it’s a great move for him. It’s a wonderful club and a wonderful place to live, it’ll be a great experience. The expectations will be huge on him because he’s come from United, and there’ll be nowhere to hide, but he should relish that

2019 08 22 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Manchester United have to hand penalty-taking duty to Marcus Rashford with Paul Pogba’s miss against Wolves having sparked an unnecessary debate] It’s down to Ole’s management. He should be making it perfectly clear before they go on the pitch. He should be saying: ‘If there’s a penalty - Rashford, you’re taking it. If you’re not on the pitch - it’s Pogba, and so on’. There’s a list of order there, it makes it transparent, and there’s none of this bickering about who scored when and who missed, it leaves no room for debate. That’s where it comes down to Ole. He should be making it crystal clear that there is one penalty-taker and that’s it. He needs to show his leadership and tell the players that it’s the end of the theatricals, there’s one person only for the job.

There’s been people suggesting that Ole is trying to appease Pogba by letting him take penalties, but as the manager at one of the biggest clubs in the world that shouldn’t even be a thought. You can’t work like that, you need to show that leadership. There’s no reason why he should feel the need to appease Pogba, if anything it should be the other way around. For me, it’s clear who should be chosen, too. Marcus Rashford has never missed a penalty in senior football, he netted in United’s 4-0 opener against Chelsea, there’s an obvious choice here, he should be the penalty taker. Look at his record, why would you go for anyone else? We all miss them at times of course, but also a major consideration should be Pogba’s future. Will he even be here when the European window shuts? And if he is, will he leave in January anyway? Whereas you’ve got Rashford, who’s going to be around for four or five years, so why not just make him your man?

2019 09 04 Retrieve

[Paul Ince has insisted that football’s governing bodies do not do enough to stop racism, particularly in Italy, after Inter’s Romelu Lukaku was subjected to racist abuse] Racism was such a big issue when I was playing in Italy, so I’m unfortunately not surprised about what’s happened with Romelu Lukaku. It’s funny because I remember going to Cremonese as an Inter Milan player. I went out for the ball with the goalkeeper and he keeper fouled me. We both went down, and was rolling around for a bit. I got up just to show I wasn’t hurt and carried on playing. Then, suddenly half the stadium was shouting racial abuse at me. The ball came out - on the edge of the box - and I hard volleyed it straight in the top right-hand corner. But I’d done my hip in and I was trying to stay on, because I didn’t want to come off and let them know I was hurt. But for the next 20 minutes or so, until half time, they were shouting awful stuff at me, ‘negro’ and ‘negro di merdia’ - that kind of thing. That was terrible.

Anyway, we ended up winning the game three-one, and then the next day I got a letter from the mayor of Cremonese just to say, Paul, we apologise for that, what our fans said and our poor behaviour - that’s not us. And I said, well, to be fair, it is you. They’re your fans, and you can’t control them. So, it’s always been there. As I say, it was probably even worse when I first went to join Inter, there was even a racist remark on the wall about me, since the first day I landed there. It’s always been there. It feels like Italian fans have always got away with it - their federation never stamped down on it, and so they still feel they can use that kind of behaviour to affect black players. I don’t think UEFA did or do enough to stop it, they have to set a precedent down with all teams, whether it’s in Italy, France, England, wherever - everyone, but they’re not doing it

We’ve seen it with Marcus Rashford, we’ve seen it with Paul Pogba and obviously now Romelu Lukaku. It isn’t right. Whether it’s the fans, or whether it’s social media, we’ve got to get our heads together, just stop all this going on. It’s time to think about sporting penalties instead of fines, we’ve got to be throwing that at people, so that they’re aware that will happen. Fines aren’t doing anything. It’s not hitting home to anybody, it really, really isn’t and you can see that.

We need to make it transparent, if this behaviour continues, or it happens again, your club is out of Europe. It’s difficult though because sometimes it’s individuals with these opinions, that’s different to 20 or 100 fans. Unfortunately, there’s always one idiot, or two idiots, that will do that. There must be a deterrent. Whether it’s in England, or Europe or whatever, take points off the teams, take them out of cup games, whatever. Empty stadiums don’t really work - you’re only hit in the pocket for two or three games - but point deductions, that could work. What disturbs me is the last four or five years, we kind of felt like it was reducing and being stamped out. But in the last one or two years, it’s reared its ugly head again. It’s really disturbing

2019 09 14 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Manchester United made a mistake letting Romelu Lukaku leave because they have nobody else like him in their striker pool] When you look at United, you’d like to think that Anthony Martial would score more goals. You’d like to think Marcus Rashford would get more. Daniel James, he’s done really well and then there’s [Jesse] Lingard. So, if you can share the goals around between those three or four, if they get 12 or 14 goals each, then you’ll be okay for a season. But they’re not going to do that. Rashford only got 10 in the Premier League last season, and that was the highest outside of Lukaku! So, when you look at maybe Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, you see players who are 25-goal-a-season men. Man Utd haven’t got that now, but they had it Lukaku

[Ince added, with United considered to be following the Liverpool blueprint when it comes to forwards] It’s hard to get those strikers. They don’t grow on trees. Ole’s got to have a combination now. Could he have gone to Bayern Munich and got Robert Lewandowski - no. Could he go and get Harry Kane off Spurs? Probably not. There are people out there, but you have to be realistic.

I said the other week that Man Utd - I wouldn’t say are copying the Liverpool way - but, they’re going with short forwards who have got pace, talent and speed. They’ve got the same type of players. There’s still time for them to grow. Sometimes I look at them, I think ‘yeah’, they could be great. Then sometimes I look at them and think, they’re not so great. It’s going to be an up-and-down season for United until they get the right personnel and the right team in place. They’re still a young team, and it’s going to take time

2019 09 17 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk deserves to win the Ballon d’Or over the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi] The thing is about the Ballon d’Or is that we always go with the same people. It’s either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo winning it, isn’t it really? But there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be a defender. Virgil van Dijk has been exceptional this year, but I also thought Raheem Sterling should be up for it. It’s a tough one because Man City still won three trophies, while Liverpool only got one in the Champions League, and yet Sterling’s not even mentioned as a potential winner. That baffles me. It really, really does.

It would make a nice change for Virgil van Dijk to win the award rather than just being Messi and Ronaldo all the time. I don’t believe Ronaldo’s been overly great anyway. But, the great players are the ones who score goals and that’s why people always say Messi or Ronaldo. I know Luka Modric won it last year, but I think what Van Dijk’s done with Liverpool has been phenomenal. The way he took them forward as a team and compete with City like they are, so I’d give it to him

2019 09 24 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says It could be five years before Manchester United are Premier League title challengers] There’s a lot of things that aren’t right at Old Trafford at the moment, and they need to be addressed. I don’t know where United are going as a club. From a football point of view, I expected an in and out season, I could’ve accepted that - but I would’ve anticipated the performances would be so much better. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows they’re not going to win the title this year, or next. It could be five years before they do. I believe that the only chance they have in the near future is if Klopp and Pep leave Liverpool and City. Whether Ole will still be in charge by then, who knows

This season, again, will be a transitional year. I’m not disappointed or angry about that, it’s just where they are as a team at the moment. The results are going to be up and down and I’m prepared to accept that, as long as they challenge for the top four. I’m more concerned about the director of football situation and the way Ed Woodward is building the club. He is rightly getting a lot of stick - people who appoint managers should be made accountable. For the results, for the structure of the club, for the recruitment, and so on. They knew they were going to lose Lukaku, and it was obvious Sanchez had to move on, so why the hell have they not got a striker or two in?

Ed Woodward isn’t a football man, he’s a money man. From that perspective, I’m sure he’s doing a great job - but the fans don’t give a toss about the money if it isn’t being invested back into the team. They want Manchester United quality players on the pitch, to be entertained, to be winning things, and they’re not getting that. It doesn’t look like a Man Utd team anymore. What United need is someone who knows where to find Manchester United players, where the hidden gems are, and how to get them.

Currently, United are being held to ransom. Harry Maguire is a terrific player, but £80 million? They’re being forced to pay over the odds to get top players. What they should be doing is identifying these talents earlier, doing proper research, and getting them for a lot cheaper. That’s not down to one person to do, it’s about the director of football and their team - United probably need to hire four or five people who can go out and start building blocks. It might take a year or two, but at least they’d be moving forwards

2019 09 24b Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Manchester United have no exciting talents in their current squad] I said last year - and got ridiculed for it - that Ole shouldn’t have got the Manchester United job at the stage he did. I stand totally by that comment. Everyone got sucked into the start he’d made, without looking at the fixtures they had. It’s a result-based business, and that’s fine, but you can’t ignore performances. Now, though, having decided he’s the man, giving him a long-term project and buying into his vision, they have to stick with him. Irrespective of whether they win or lose at the weekend, he’s their man. There are no two ways about it, they’ve made their bed, and right now they’re lying in it.

They can’t be sacking their manager and abandoning the strategy, based on a few results. United will win games, people will get excited again, then they’ll lose and it’ll be back to crisis mode. They’re the biggest team in the world, they’ll be on the back pages no matter what. That’s what comes with being a Manchester United player or manager. But they no longer have that presence in terms of intimidating opponents. Teams know they can get something from them now, even at Old Trafford. Right now, United are vulnerable.

Chelsea already have a clearer vision. I think of Ole in the same way as I do Frank Lampard. Two young managers lacking experience, who have been thrown into two massive clubs. But, if you gave me the choice of who I’d rather be watching this season, it’d be Chelsea all day long - and that hurts me as a former United captain. Can anybody tell me what United are trying to do? Because I have no idea.

They’re so reliant on the young lad Daniel James - who is brilliant, but was in the Championship with Swansea last season - it’s crazy. There’s nobody there that excites me

2019 10 02 Retrieve

[Paul Ince has slated Manchester United’s performances in the 2019-20 season and believes that they should make winning the Europa League a priority now] For me, Ole needs to focus on the Europa League now and make it a priority. Similar to how Jose Mourinho did, he knows that realistically, it’s United’s best chance of Champions League football. Because, let’s be honest, top four looks like it’s going to be a struggle. At the minute, they don’t look like they will make it. And while United are falling, teams like Leicester are building and looking to make those spots. And, realistically, all United can hope for nowadays is a top four place, because they’re so far off winning a league title. It’s a trophy, it’s a Champions League space, and when your team look like they might not be capable of making the top four in the Premier League - why not try and win it? It’s got to be the main target

Don’t throw away the league of course, but I don’t want to see a weakened team against AZ Alkmaar. I know it’s not a tough opponent, but both that game and Newcastle this weekend should be games they’re winning, no question. It’ll be very disappointing if they don’t win both. For United, at the moment, every game is a big game

[Ince also highlighted the lack of quality in the draw with the Gunners] When I watched the Man Utd vs Arsenal match on Monday - with all the misplaced passes, people losing the ball, etc - it genuinely reminded me of being in the playground at school playing football, not watching two of the biggest teams in England! There’s an enormous lack of quality in those two teams, they’re both really, really poor. There’s no comparison between them, Liverpool, Man City and even Tottenham and Chelsea. Don’t get me wrong, I can see that Man Utd are trying to give their academy, and young players a chance. But you have to sit back and go - are these lads actually good enough? Are they going to be long term choices, realistically? It’s brilliant bringing them through, but we need to look at quality of them too. United are in a situation now where they’ve played seven games and are 12 points behind Liverpool, and seven behind Man City. When you talk about the gap between them and those two, that says it all - it shows you how far they’ve fallen. We’re not talking 20 games into the season - we’re talking seven

2019 10 02b Retrieve

[Paul Ince believes that Paul Pogba is looking at leaving the club in the January transfer window] Paul Pogba looks bang average again. Those young players need his guidance right now, they need nurturing and showing where they need to be on the pitch, and Pogba should take ownership of that. We should be seeing that leadership. I’m not sure his head is in it, I believe his mind is on January, but he needs to take control of the team and of the youngsters that are trying to break through

[Ince also singled out Marcus Rashford for criticism] Marcus Rashford is a concern for me, he’s struggling. You do need to remember that he’s played a lot of football for a kid so young, and there is so much pressure on him because United are so reliant on him. They haven’t gone out and bought a centre-forward, so the onus is on Rashford to perform consistently. United simply haven’t got a lethal striker, and Rashford doesn’t look like that to me yet either. The way he’s being played at the minute, and the over-reliance on him, is really impacting his performances and he knows that.

As a young player you will lose your confidence, Rashford is clearly a little bit down and not quite right, and that’s where the leaders at the club need to recognise that and pull him up. He’s a talented player, but it’s not working for him at the moment. Technically he’s very good, but for me he lacks composure. When you look at players like Eric Cantona, Alan Shearer, Ian Wright, the composure they had was incredible. With Rashford, he gets a little touch excited and he either smashes it or looks unsure. My advice for him would to be to get out on that training ground, afternoon after afternoon, and work on it. Ole needs to get him working on it too, just take him to one side with a coach and get him working on his composure. It will improve him as a player - and in turn his confidence will come back too

2019 10 07 Retrieve

[Paul Ince has blasted David de Gea for his lack of leadership following the Red Devils’ 1-0 defeat against Newcastle] I watched David de Gea’s post-match interview and I was at a loss. He’s meant to be one of the leaders. If that was Peter Schmeichel standing there, there’s no chance you’d have seen that interview. Rather than him addressing and recognising where the team were going wrong, it just felt like ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know’. This is one of the top players, the leaders at Man United, who has just signed a five-year contract. And he looks like he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. If you’re a United fan listening to your goalkeeper, one of the main leaders in the team, and that’s the interview you hear you’d be right to [think it was a disgrace]. I’d be looking thinking, ‘he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on - I bet he’s regretting signing that contract

[Ince also insisted that the academy players that have been used by Solskjaer this season have been thrown in at the deep end] You can’t blame the young players either, and in fact, I wonder how many of those are even good enough really. You look back to the academy days of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes etcetera and you just don’t get those kinds of players anymore, especially not all in one group together. So, while it’s unfair to compare them to those, I would also say that some of them are just good young players. Looking at the youth that played against Newcastle, and being realistic, how many of them will be playing first-team football on a regular basis in two or three years’ time? I’m not convinced

2019 10 07b Retrieve

[Paul Ince has criticised the board of former club Manchester United for being so hasty in their decision to make Ole Gunnar Solskjaer permanent manager] I’m not here to call for any manager to be sacked - I’ve been there, and it’s not a nice feeling. But, I will reiterate what I said before and the board should never have made the decision with Ole as quickly as they did. What had he achieved to deserve that job? He went to Cardiff and took them down, then he went to Molde. So, what on earth makes the board think that he’s the right man for one of, if not the, biggest job in football?

If they’d have waited until the end of the season and assessed the situation, I’m not sure whether they’d have appointed him. All they took into consideration was the excitement of PSG and a few other games. To go from Cardiff, to Molde, to Manchester United, you’ve got to be some manager. I’m looking at his staff, too, and aside from Micky Phelan they all seem so young. Even sometimes when I’m watching the game and I’m looking at the dugout and Ole’s speaking to them, they all seem to have no reaction. They look as if they don’t have a clue what’s going on

[Ince suggested that Tottenham boss Pochettino would have been a better fit] I always felt that Mauricio Pochettino should’ve been the man to take over after [Jose] Mourinho. He’s a top-class manager, and people are calling him a risky choice, but Ole was the risky choice. Pochettino would still have issues, though. He’d need a couple of transfer windows, he’d need to clear out players, but it’s up to the board to decide whether they trust Ole to get the club where they need to be. I can’t answer that, but if Pochettino showed interest they would have a lot to think about

2019 10 15 Retrieve

[Ex-England star Ince condemns UEFA protocol] I know UEFA had their protocol of one strike, two strikes, three strikes and you’re out but racism should be zero tolerance. It felt to me like a boxer and you get two free hits in the face and the third one you are allowed to respond. I wasn’t sure why we were waiting for the first one and the second one and even the third one in the second half, you could still hear the chants, it wasn’t as prevalent in the first half but it was still there

[That is considered to highlight the size of the task facing sporting authorities and wider society] I was more disappointed with the Bulgaria manager Balakov. His quotes after the game were disgraceful and this is someone I played against back in the day, he was a fantastic player but to hear his quotes and what he was saying, it was like he was backing the people who were doing it. Saying he didn’t hear it… well, everyone else in the stadium heard it so how could you not hear? He tried to turn the tables on England fans which, for me, someone like that shouldn’t be managing. If I had anything to do with it he wouldn’t be managing Bulgaria with the comments he came out with

[With UEFA now conducting another investigation into an incident of discriminatory behaviour] There has to be a stronger deterrent. It can’t just be about fining them £50,000 or £100,000, that’s not a deterrent for me. The only way UEFA can do that with these teams is getting them punished from European competitions. I don’t think fines will be enough

2019 10 16 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says that he doesn’t believe that Mario Mandzukic will be the answer to Manchester United’s issues up top] I don’t think Mandzukic is the answer. I feel that you never get your best players in January, clubs don’t sell their best players in January, so whoever Manchester United are going to get is going to be a stop-gap. If they’re looking to go down the young route then they should be looking at young strikers, not Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Mandzukic.

Against AZ Alkmaar they didn’t have a shot on target - that’s embarrassing. Three pathetic shots against Newcastle, that’s embarrassing as well for Man United

2019 10 17 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Manchester United should not sign £80m-rated Declan Rice as he has not yet fully developed as a player] People say things just for the sake of saying them. I don’t think [Man Utd] spend £80m on Declan Rice, that’s for sure, at this moment in time. You’ve got to remember he was a centre-half and as a midfield player, I’ve watched quite a lot of him this year, he’s still got a long way to go. I think he’s at the right club at West Ham, he’s playing week in, week out, which is important, and I think he’s got the right people around him, like Mark Noble, who has been there a long time, so he’ll learn a lot

[Ince is adamant that the 20-year-old is nowhere near the finished article and that his current valuation is way off the mark] But stop quoting these ridiculous prices, it’s madness, it really is. In two or three years time, maybe, but he’s still got a lot to learn, he’s still got to grow, be a lot more powerful and get up and down the park quicker than he does. That will come as his body develops more but he’s still got to get himself in the box, got to score goals. That’s going to be worth £80-90m, so if he can learn that as he grows older, why not?

2019 10 17b Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Man Utd could finish bottom-half] We know Ole is going to get criticised and will come under pressure because he’s not getting results, but also because we’re not getting any signs that it’s going to improve. Obviously with young players it’s going to take time, but Chelsea have got young players and they’re doing alright. Liverpool have got two young full-backs, they’re doing okay. They [United] could finish in the bottom half of the table.

When I’m seeing Ole after the games saying, ‘we’re working hard, we’re working hard’, I keep thinking we just want to see what they’re actually working on. When I see the team I don’t see what they’re doing. I don’t see their patterns of play and I don’t see how they’re working from an attacking point of view, because they’re not creating chances - they’re not even having any shots. I just don’t know what they’re actually doing at Manchester United

[Ince is also concerned that senior players are not standing up to be counted during a testing time for all concerned] You see a player like David de Gea doing an interview after the Newcastle game and he looks shell-shocked - he’s meant to be one of the leaders! He’s been there 10 [sic] years, he should be coming out saying, ‘this is wrong we need to be doing this’.

The fans want to know because at the moment no one knows what’s going on! They look out of all sorts, they look devoid of confidence and you’re not seeing any leadership and characters. Look, you’re not going to get the teams like United had under Fergie, those days are gone. They’re gone. You’re not going to get your Keanes, your Robsons, your Giggses and your Scholeses - you’re not going to get that anymore. What you’ve got to get is quality into the team and find one or two leaders, like Harry Maguire and Axel Tuanzebe, who I like. You’ve got to try and grow these leaders. When we were there and the likes of Beckham, Scholes and Giggs were coming in, we taught them what they needed to be to be a Man United player, in the same way Bryan Robson and Steve Bruce taught me - these kids haven’t got that!

2019 10 18 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Mauricio Pochettino remains the ideal fit for Manchester United] At the time last season, I felt Pochettino was the man. He was an ideal fit for Manchester United, given the finances he’d have at his disposal at Old Trafford, compared to what he has at Tottenham. It would have been the next step for him, but obviously that wasn’t to be. What’s happened at Tottenham this season doesn’t change the way I felt then

[Ince has been outspoken in his criticism of United of late] They’re a young team and there’s going to be some inconsistency in their performances and results. But it’s a little bit worrying that there’s not been any progress. It’s not always about winning games. I think Man United fans understand that the quality isn’t there yet - they’ve got five or six players who’ve been out injured. But you still want to see progress in what they’re doing, and we’re not seeing that. We didn’t see it against AZ Alkmaar, and we didn’t see it against Newcastle. That’s what people are getting a bit critical of - not having a shot against AZ Alkmaar, and against Newcastle they had two shots that didn’t really trouble the goalkeeper.

When you look at Frank Lampard’s team at Chelsea, you see what they’re doing - scoring goals and creating chances. Man United fans can deal with the results as long as you’re seeing a performance on the pitch where the Newcastle goalkeeper got man of the match and made eight saves, they’ve hit the post and the bar. You can accept that, but we’re not seeing that - we’re not seeing chances

[Ince fears for the Red Devils] People talk about relegation - they’re not going to go down, let’s get that out of our heads. I don’t know why people are saying that - they could finish in the bottom half, but who knows, they could finish in the top half. They’ve got enough quality to finish in the top half, but it’s about the gap to the teams at the top. Leicester are five points ahead - that could be eight if United lose on Sunday

2019 10 19 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Man Utd have gone soft and lost fear factor] It’s all about mentality. You have to have people and characters. The biggest thing for us was we had a presence. In the tunnel we had already beaten most teams before even going out on the pitch. We had that presence about us but if you look at United now, teams look at them and think they can get something from them. Not just at home but also when they go to Old Trafford

The game has changed. There are no (Roy) Keane, (Bryan) Robson, (Steven) Gerrard, (Patrick) Vieira or Emmanuel Petit-type players anymore. You just don’t get them anymore and a lot of those players, a lot of them had tough backgrounds and football has been their life. It was their passion but now football is just a job to some players. They get the best of everything financially and the pitches are great so they have that mentality where they are a bit soft. I watched United play Newcastle the other week and I saw them tackled and just rolling over. I wanted them to get up and get on with it, they were 1-0 down you know. That mentality we had, these players haven’t got that now. You don’t get those players anymore and this is the problem United have. That time (under Ferguson) has gone and we need to find another way to be successful

You have to get quality and that is something United haven’t got. You can’t blame the youth, players like Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong, Scott McTominay, there are no people around them to get them through these games. At least when I was playing when I first started off there was Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce, Mark Hughes and players like that. Then the Class of ‘92 came in and there was me and Roy Keane to look after them. These kids at United just haven’t got that

2019 11 01 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should try to lure Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to Old Trafford when the transfer window reopens] Zlatan Ibrahimovic seemed to tease going back to Spain, then he’s been linked with staying in the MLS, and even Perth Glory. But I think, if he wanted to, returning to Old Trafford would be the way to go. He’d be great at educating all of these young players that Ole is looking to bring through, an incredible off-pitch influence as well as on the field. They need someone who can control the changing room and be a true leader, and he fits that role. He can show the young players how it’s done. He would be the Godfather of United’s dressing room

You know that he isn’t going to play 90 minutes every game, but he’s a lethal goal scorer ultimately. It’d only be a short contract, and you know what he’s going to do and that’s score you goals. If you were to bring him on for 15 or 20 minutes he will find the net in that time. And we know that United have been struggling with creating chances and not scoring goals - he’s the perfect fit. He’s a completely different forward to anything that they’ve currently got. I know there’s been talk about Mario Mandzukic, which I could never see personally, but for a small period of time, I don’t see why you wouldn’t take Zlatan. Anthony Martial is in and out with injuries, Jesse Lingard is inconsistent, and it takes the constant pressure off (Marcus) Rashford

[Ince feels Ibrahimovic’s return to Manchester would be a welcome boost for supporters] It would also be a huge boost for the fans. They would love it, the excitement of having Zlatan back. There’s been a lot of doom and gloom at the club in the last few years, but he wasn’t part of that. You can imagine the buzz amongst fans if they knew he was coming back. All the younger players would be buzzing to have him there - knowing you’ve got Zlatan at the club. It seems like a no-brainer to me if Ole wants to go down that route. He won’t get to go to a bigger club than United at this stage in his career, that’s for sure

2020 01 07 Retrieve

[Paul Ince admits Jesse Lingard appears to be thinking about a move away from Manchester United] Jesse Lingard teaming up with Raiola shows he wants to leave - but he needs to improve his performances before thinking about a move. If you don’t feel the club is going forward the way you like - fine - but there’s no need to play that out publicly. You can do it without anyone knowing. The thing is, if Pogba’s there next month, it’s going to be a huge task for him to win the fans over now. Then you see that Jesse Lingard has signed with that agent, too. I mean, he must be feeling optimistic if he thinks that Raiola could secure him a move to Real Madrid or Juventus!

He’s a massive so-called super agent. I’m not sure why Jesse has signed with him to be honest. Obviously by getting involved with him he must think that he can secure a move in the next year or so, and he’s the man to do it. But Jesse’s not a kid anymore, and ultimately, he needs to improve his performances on the pitch before he can worry about his next move.

He’s supposed to be in his prime, but some of his performances are terrible. There’s too much competition for him to be playing every week. He clearly thinks that Raiola is the man to secure him the move away from Old Trafford

2020 01 07b Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Paul Pogba is not excited by the prospect of being a talisman at Manchester United and probably regrets returning to Old Trafford in an £89 million deal] I’ve always felt, from the moment that Jose Mourinho had a spat with him, that Pogba has wanted out. It’s felt as though there’s only one conclusion to all this speculation. He’s in the situation now where he needs to win the fans over - but I’m not sure he wants to do that and I’m not sure the fans even want him to. The fans have had enough of him, and of the situation.

With Man United’s performances being so inconsistent, and with so much discussion around Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the last thing they need is all this speculation around Pogba. He needs to just come out and say where he’s at. But instead, as we’ve seen, he hides behind Mino Raiola rather than saying it himself. In fact, even allowing his agent to come out and say all of the stuff he has is ridiculous. If that was my agent, and he came out saying the things he has - I’d get rid of him immediately

Pogba isn’t excited by being the talisman of the team, so let him go. It’s clear he regrets returning to Old Trafford. The fact is, though, when Pogba plays and he plays well there’s no way Ole would drop him. Really, he should be the talisman of that team.

He should be enthused and excited by the fact that the team could be built around him and he could be the main man, but he doesn’t seem interested in that to me. He’s not bothered about being the captain of Man United. It doesn’t excite him to be the leader of this club. It feels as though we all bought into the romance of him returning to Man United. But it’s never really happened for him, has it? It’s not gone the way either he or the club wanted it to go. I would say he regrets making the move, now

Ole has said he’s waiting for Pogba to come in and talk to him, even. But it shouldn’t be like that, it should be Ole dragging him in and asking him what exactly he sees for his future of the club. As a manager, he should be asking him what’s going on and what his issue is. You’re telling me Fergie would’ve dealt with it this way? No chance - he’d have pulled Pogba in and then decided whether he wanted to then pass that message on to fans and media.

Where it’s really frustrating is we’ve heard this story about Pogba wanting to leave several times now, but yet here he still is. Unless someone’s going to come in for him at the price United want, for someone who’s still injured, he’s still going to be there at the end of the month. It’s a vicious circle. I’m not convinced he’s going anywhere in January. He wants to, yes, but realistically I don’t know who’s going to have him. At the moment though, it feels like it’s all about Paul Pogba. And Man United have never, and should never, be about just one person. It’s about being a team - not what Paul Pogba wants now

2020 01 16 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Marcus Rashford does not know the process of being a substitute] He’s more or less started every game. I don’t think he’s used to being a substitute. I don’t think he knows the process of being a substitute […] how vigorously you warm up, do the right things. Do you think you’re going to get on the pitch? So it’s kind of a mindset where you think ‘well hopefully I’m not going to get on’. All of a sudden he’s thrust into the action because they need a goal. He is a talisman, he is the main man, and 16 minutes down he’s getting dragged off again with a bad back which hopefully he’ll be ok for the Liverpool game

2020 01 19 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Man Utd’s lack of quality to blame for Rashford injury] Rashford is one of the very few players I would call a proper United player in that team. He understands the history and what level you need to be a top player. He is at that level and goes the extra 100 yards - and he puts a strain on his body by doing that. Maybe that’s the reason he gets injured. Liverpool and City can go two goals or three goals up and bring off their top players - United cannot do that. The club relies on Rashford because they cannot score goals without him. Is he the victim of his own success? You could say that, but this is where they are currently

[Paul Ince did raise doubts over Rashford’s durability] When you are at that age however, you should be able to play every game. We are not talking about me when I was at Wolves at 34 or 35 and having to sit out of training sessions because I was that old. When you are young and playing well you want to play every game and should be capable

2020 01 21 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Haaland an embarrassing pain in the arse for Man Utd] A new signing in January has become a must. It’s not that they need to - they absolutely have to. It kind of makes Erling Braut Haaland even more embarrassing and a pain in the arse than it already was, especially after we saw his debut hat-trick. Because if they don’t sign someone, who’s going to get you goals? We saw the sitter that Anthony Martial missed against Liverpool. It’s simply not good enough. He should be burying that, if that had fallen to Rashford I’m confident that would’ve been a goal. With Rashford out, you can’t trust Martial will make up those goals. Mason Greenwood is great, but he’s young, untried and untested. You can’t put that level of pressure on such a great player

If Ole wasn’t already regretting letting Romelu Lukaku go, he seriously will be now. I’ll be the first to admit that I had a go at him at times, and he can’t retain the ball, but you do get 20-25 goals a season from him. United let him go without replacing him and now they’re paying the price. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but, really, Ole should never have let him go

2020 01 21b Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Rashford the only current Man Utd star who can be great] United fans look back at the great players and they are all from a decade ago and when I look at this current team, I don’t think too many people will look back in a year from now and think they were great players. Marcus Rashford may go on to have a great United career, but the rest of them? I’m not so sure.

The reason I went to Manchester United is I wanted to win things. It was my life, it was my passion. The money was secondary to me, but you wonder now with the money being so amazing for so many players whether it has become a job and some of that passion to succeed is lacking. When you get all that money at the age of 20 and you think you have made it, you don’t have the people around you to keep your feet on the floor. That’s when you need experienced people around you to give you advice. I was fortunate to have Bryan Robson, Mark Hughes and Steve Bruce around me when I went to United and they ran that dressing room. The manager didn’t run it, the players were running that club and he gave them a licence to do that.

Now it is completely different and I wonder whether some players see this as a way to make a lot of money quickly and success is secondary. You see some of them happy to sit there and not bother going out on loan because they are on big money at their club and they are happy to sit in the stands and I just don’t understand that mentality. I wanted to play football, whether it was for a pound a week or a thousand pound a week. I wanted to play and win trophies and that passion never left me. Now I look at United and a lot of teams in the Premier League and that drive and passion is lacking for me. It’s a problem all managers are having to try and deal with

2020 01 21c Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Premier League is overrated & Man Utd’s team of 1994 would give Liverpool game] While the Premier League is the most successful football brand in the world, I honestly feel the quality of the league is overrated. It is not as great as people think. What Liverpool have done over the last two or three years has been fantastic, but the fact that they are 30 points ahead of Manchester United halfway through the season highlights my point that Liverpool’s opposition are weak right now

I look at Liverpool and they are a proper team, the same with Manchester City, but the rest are so inconsistent and we are all getting sucked in by the idea that this is a great league that has loads of top teams in it. I did the Wolves v Man United FA Cup game a few weeks back and at the end of it, the stats come out and United didn’t have a shot on target. This is Man United. What’s going on?

So while I don’t want to take anything away from Liverpool or Man City, they have had it too easy this year. They have an end product and that is why they are so far ahead of the rest, but I honestly feel the United team I was a part of in 1994 would have given both of them a game. The depth of quality of the Premier League in the mid-90s was probably better than it is now, despite all the money coming into English football over the last few years. How many great players do we see in English football outside of Liverpool and Man City? Not too many, in my view

2020 01 22 Retrieve

[Paul Ince urge Man Utd to sign Edinson Cavani or Danny Ings as Rashford replacement] United have to consider who’s actually going to be available. Who in their right mind as a manager wants to give up a prolific goalscorer in January? There’s not that much available. For me, Edinson Cavani is the ideal choice, if he even wants to come to England. If United can get hold of him, then they should go for it. He’s going to be big money and he’s the wrong side of 30 which is a bit worrying, but I’m not sure United are in the place to be picky at the moment

Someone like Danny Ings would also be a great shout, he’s scoring goals for fun at the moment. Obviously, Southampton fans won’t want to hear that, but if you want someone who’s in form and scoring goals, Ings could be a good, proven choice. The thing is, whoever United go to now they’re going to be ripped off - they reek of desperation because of Rashford’s injury. Top four was already tough, whether Rashford was playing or not. It’s obviously just gotten a whole lot harder.

2020 01 24 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Liverpool can only be considered a great side if they keep winning trophies after trophies] For me, when I go back to the Man Utd team, we had a great, great team with great, great players. The generations have changed and football has changed, and when I look at my midfield of [Roy] Keane, [Bryan] Robson, [Ryan] Giggs and [Andrei] Kanchelskis, would they get in this team today? Yes, of course they would, it goes without saying. It’s always hard to compare with the teams you’ve played in

Liverpool can only have a great side if they keep winning trophies after trophies, that’s how you judge a great side. You can’t be a great side just based on winning the title this year, Klopp knows that. Being a great side means winning over years and years and years. Chelsea had a spell of it, Liverpool did it in the 80s. To call them a great side? No. I think what they do is great, and it would be a great achievement to win it. But to be a great side they need to win it year after year after year for me

2020 01 24b Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Ed Woodward needs to change] I don’t think the ownership is going to change, the Glazers, I think they’re here for quite a while. I think Ed Woodward needs to change, he’s done ever so well for United from a commercial point of view, bringing money into the club, merchandise, that kind of stuff. But when you talk about bringing in quality players, players that are going to take this club forward, we’ve seen the players he’s brought in. [Marcos] Rojo, [Bastian] Schweinsteiger, [Morgan] Schneiderlin, people like that. These aren’t players [that make a difference]

He needs to take a back seat. We talk about Michael Edwards at Liverpool who is their football director. Most of the clubs in the league have one. It’s the way European clubs have always been. For some reason at Man Utd we’ve decided we don’t need one

I said at the start and I’ll say it again, too many people got sucked into the fact he [Solskjaer] had such a good start when they won 14 out of 19 games that he was the man for the job. He was an interim manager. They had plenty of time to wait until the end of the season, do their research, see who was out there, but they all got sucked into it.

The crowd got sucked into it and so did the owners. You’re talking about a manager who took Cardiff down, went to Molde. The CV’s not great from that point of view. I want Ole to do well, if he does well Man Utd do well. But they haven’t done their homework properly and that comes from Woodward so maybe he’s the one who should step back and bring in someone else who knows about the football game

2020 02 01 Retrieve

[Paul Ince has delivered a withering assessment of Anthony Martial’s performance in Manchester United’s goalless draw against Wolves] I can’t believe Martial stayed on for so long. I’ve always called him a fizzy drink. You open a can, it fizzes and then it goes flat. That’s exactly what you saw today. He shouldn’t have stayed on the pitch as long as he did

[Reflecting on the game as a whole] It wasn’t the greatest performance. When you’re conceding two goals against Burnley, at home, you’d expect the atmosphere to be toxic. There you can see the fans clapping Ole off. It’s a clean sheet for Manchester United, the most positive thing I can take from it. (Aaron) Wan-Bissaka was excellent. He tried like he does every game. Once he (Adama Traore) came off all Wolves did was sit back and soaked up the pressure. They look more content with a point than Man Utd do

2020 02 08 Retrieve

[Any regrets, Ole? Man Utd the only loser in Lukaku’s ‘win-win’ Inter transfer] If Ole wasn’t already regretting letting Lukaku go, he seriously will be now. I’ll be the first to admit that I had a go at him at times, and he can’t retain the ball, but you do get 20-25 goals a season from him

2020 02 23 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Van Dijk would find it hard to turn down Barcelona or Real Madrid] I think what they’re doing is great - the players and Klopp - but great teams win trophies year in year out. They’ve got a big chance to do that but we’ll need to look back in a few years to see what they’ve done to say that was a great Liverpool team. Obviously it’s now a question of how they get better in the future, it’s tough because they’ve got some young exciting players who are only going to improve but in football things change - we saw that with Philippe Coutinho, suddenly someone like Barcelona comes in and they’re off. It’s a case of keeping the best players at Liverpool

Will someone come in for Van Dijk? When Barcelona or Real Madrid come knocking it’s hard to say no. That’s the thing about being a victim of your own success, when you’re doing so many great things like Liverpool are doing it alerts other big clubs like Barcelona or Madrid

[Ince drew comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo, who left Manchester United as a Ballon d’Or winner to move to Spain] It’s hard to say no as a player when they come in. You look at someone like Cristiano Ronaldo, you get to the stage where you’ve won the league and Champions League - are you prepared to do it year in, year out or do you want another challenge elsewhere? That’s what Klopp is going to have to deal with and he’ll have to look at that in the future and build his team around that

2020 03 10 Retrieve

[Paul Ince believes Manchester United’s new star Bruno Fernandes can reach the same standing as club heroes Eric Cantona and Paul Scholes] [Fernandes’] been fantastic since he came into the side, and even yesterday when he didn’t do that much, what he did do was top quality. That ball into Anthony Martial was outstanding. Fans are getting carried away, and I try not to, but I can certainly see why they are. Every club, every set of fans want to have a hero, and he’s going to be that for Man United. When he goes to take a corner, the fans are going wild for him, they love him, he can be a real hero. I’m talking a Paul Scholes or an Eric Cantona - he can be one of those types of heroes for the club. I’m not saying in terms of performances, or level of football, but United haven’t had a hero in their team for a long, long time. He can be that. He’s doing everything right at the moment, including the ‘shh’ gesture to Pep Guardiola, which was always going to be a sure way to win over the fans. It’s good to see someone joining with a bit of character, too.

It looks like Man United may have turned a corner, but the most important thing for them is still to make the Champions League. Whether that’s in fourth or fifth place, or by winning the Europa League. They shouldn’t just be aiming for one either, they should be aiming for both. It should be - as a team we can make top four, AND we can win the Europa - not one or the other. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has previously chopped and changed his teams, it’s felt like he’s not been sure on who his best starting XI is. But, now, we’re starting to see a bit of consistency and that’s reflected in the performances we’re seeing on the pitch. sTactically, Ole got the Manchester Derby spot on. It was the first time in ages where I can remember enjoying watching United.

2020 03 10b Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Man Utd don’t need Pogba anymore] Fans thought Paul Pogba was going to be the star, but look how that panned out. If he still wants to leave I’d say it would be far easier for Ole to do so now that Bruno is around. It doesn’t feel like they need him anymore. His truly great games have been few and far between, so the current situation could suit club and player. If he does come back before the end of the season, he’s not even going to get in the team. He’s going to have to fight for his place - if he even gets one

2020 03 12 Retrieve

[Paul Ince compared Odion Ighalo’s Europa League wondergoal to a training ground exercise] It reminds me of one of those goals you try in training. If it’s a full house, I don’t know. Maybe I’m doing a disservice to him, but I don’t know …

2020 03 20 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Man Utd can’t afford to let players like Haaland slip through the net] If they want to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool then they need a world class striker. They had the chance with Haaland, the young kid who went to Dortmund, that was sad really. He is a very, very good young player who can improve and you can’t let people like that slip through the net. That was disappointing that they couldn’t get him. They have got to have someone in who gets 20-25 goals a season

There are players who Ole will still feel should not be there next year. There will be more players leaving and more coming in. I think you have to get the right balance. You can’t always go too young. You need a right balance of experience and youth and there is still a long way to go to match Manchester City and Liverpool. They are going in the right direction and the quicker they bring in those players then the quicker that is achieved

They need another midfield player for sure. We don’t know what happens with [Paul] Pogba if he stays or goes. That’s another saga that we will have to go through once the season finishes

Martial, for me on his day, is brilliant but he doesn’t have enough of those days. Ighalo is the wrong end of 30. He has done well but you won’t pin your hat on him for the next four years. If you look at all the top teams, all the best teams have the best strikers. Their strikers have 20-25 goals in a bad season. Manchester United lost that in [Romelu] Lukaku. That’s got to be their main aim

2020 03 24 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Liverpool aren’t one of the great teams yet] It is tough to say that [they are among the best] but I think what Liverpool have done has been a great achievement. I think the quality of the Premier League hasn’t been what it has been [previously]. Are they a great team? I wouldn’t say they are; you have to win it season after season. I think they have got the talent and the manager to become a great team. Great teams keep winning. If they win it this year and next year, then we can start calling it a great team. Like that Man City team, that’s a great team. Liverpool have been good in the last two years but they need to keep winning things before we say it is a great team. You go back to other great teams. I say Arsenal Invincibles, those Man United teams and Liverpool teams that kept winning things constantly. European Cups in Liverpool’s case. For United, it was doubles, trebles and league titles. Chelsea’s team with Drogba, Terry and Lampard was a great team. Liverpool needs to continue to become a great team.

You always have to build and you can never be complacent about what you have done the year before. There’s always probably one or two players you need to add to keep improving it. It has been tough because you look at the front three - Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah - they have played every game. The strength in depth hasn’t been enough to get them rest. Liverpool have been fortunate in that department. [Virgil] van Dijk has not been injured.

They have had the same tight-knit team winning games galore. Things can change next year. Barcelona or Real Madrid could come in and take Salah or Virgil Van Dijk. You just don’t know. So you always have to be prepared for players who can have their heads turned like [Philippe] Coutinho was. They will have targets. Four or five players to strengthen again. I am not sure what will happen this season but they are out of the Champions League which they will be disappointed about. The big teams have to keep on improving. You have got to have competition because it excites the players and keep them on their toes. If you have new signings, then you step up again and it stops complacency from last year. These players coming in expect to play. Competition is healthy. They will have a shortlist to bring in but not many because they have been fantastic. We used to bring one or two in at our time to keep the momentum going. I think Klopp will do the same

2020 03 24b Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Henderson’s time at Manchester United will come] He has been excellent and excelled himself and he is still relatively young. When someone does well on loan then you begin to think can they do a job for Manchester United. I think at the moment keepers need to be more experienced. He should be happy, he is playing football week in, week out. If he goes to Manchester United and sits on the bench like [Sergio] Romero has done for years, then it isn’t good. If he plays week in, week out then his time will come

If United had a plan and Dean Henderson was in line then I don’t think they would have been stupid enough to give David de Gea a five-year contract. The fact he signed that and they agreed that with Ole means he is going to be the No.1 for a period of time. Unless he gets injured then I can’t see Henderson getting a chance despite being outstanding. We have seen a few mistakes from De Gea lately, but keepers are always questioned and prone to mistakes as the last line of defence. They gave him a five-year deal so I think he will be the No.1 for the next three or four years. If he makes too many mistakes then he will lose his position and his place

2020 03 25 Retrieve

[Former captain Paul Ince says England will be building team around Sancho and Grealish soon] I like Grealish; I really like him. When he kicks a ball, he gets people off their feet. You always think he will do something special. I really like him from that point of view. Maddison, yes, he is good too. Mason Mount could be exciting. He is getting good game time at Chelsea. If I had to pick one though it would be Grealish because I think he gives you a little bit more. He runs with the ball and travels with the ball. Grealish is the one who excites me and who I think can be a fan hero. He can be that man. He could be the one. I don’t want to draw parallels with [Paul] Gascoigne but I think the way he plays could have that impact on the imagination. It is something to look forward to. England have a lot of potentially great players. It is a bright three or four years

I think you have to look at Sancho. I have watched him a lot this year at Dortmund. This kid is going to be a great player. I can see it already. You have to look to build the England team around him. Rashford is great. Maybe with Rashford and Sancho up top then I could be excited

You are always concerned trying to rush players back - Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford. There’s Jordan Pickford’s mistakes in goal. Maybe it could end up being ideal for England after getting there. Their star player can be in better shape. Regardless, it is the way it is. To play it next year is the right thing to do and I think it just allows people not to make rash decisions about rushing people back to be fit for the Euros. We can take our time so come next season they are ready to go. It is a shame not to have it but it is the right decision to delay it.

It is different now and it is good to see players going to different countries and learning their trade. Looking at the Italian league, there’s a resurgence. When I went there it was the best league in the world. Best players, managers and money. Then the Premier League came up and it kind of fell flat on its face. Now, I see a resurgence from Serie A. Players want to play there and crowds go up. It is easier for our players to move abroad because it is so cosmopolitan. When I went to Inter there were no English players, it was mostly Italian players, I had to learn the language and get involved in the culture. Players go to clubs and they can speak English. We got lazy for a period because we didn’t want to learn a new language. Now it isn’t a scary thing because people speak English. It is great for our young players who go out there and do it. Like Sancho, they learn a different football, way of life and then they become a man. It can help you on the international stage as well. You can deal with things better from playing abroad in different games under different types of managers

2020 03 25b Retrieve

[Paul Ince believes the decision not to meet Haaland’s €20 million (£17m/$22m) release clause was a mistake] If they want to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool then they need a world-class striker. They had the chance with Haaland, the young kid who went to Dortmund, that was sad really. He is a very, very good young player who can improve and you can’t let people like that slip through the net. That was disappointing that they couldn’t get him. They have got to have someone in who gets 20-25 goals a season

2020 03 28 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Denying Liverpool title would cause uproar] It’s a tricky situation because you can’t please everyone. Can you imagine 30 years of waiting to win the season and, when you’re on the brink, they end up making the season null and void? The uproar that would cause in Liverpool. Would we rather upset one team to make everyone else happy or give it to Liverpool? We have to complete the season whatever happens and, if that’s in May or June, you’re only talking nine games. Whether it’s behind closed doors or not, that’s for others to decide but there’s too much on the line for everybody, not just Liverpool. Even relegation from the Premier League, it’s too close, so it’s crystal clear that we have to finish the season. We don’t know how long this is going to last for but making it null and void doesn’t make sense

2020 04 08 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says neither Alexis Sanchez nor Mesut Ozil has been the same since the Chilean left Arsenal for Manchester United in January 2018] It’s a strange one when you talk about Alexis Sanchez because, when you look back at his Arsenal days, you’re talking about one of the Premier League’s best attackers. He was a great player there. We all know what happened next, but something that a lot of people overlook is Mesut Ozil - the reason Sanchez was so good at Arsenal was because he had Ozil next to him. As a pair, they just had this telepathy with each other, they instinctively understood each other, they knew the runs the other were going to make without looking. Most good things that Alexis did at Arsenal were connected with Ozil. And it works both ways, they made each other better - look at Ozil since Sanchez left, he’s not been the same player. Neither have

2020 04 09 Retrieve

[Paul Ince claims Alexis Sanchez could yet prove to be a shrewd addition for Manchester United] I wouldn’t rule out Sanchez going back to United and being a key part of their team next season. Football is a funny old game. I’ve been in the situation as a manager where I’ve thought ‘right, I’m going to get rid of him and him’ but when it comes to it you can’t get the deal done, so they stay at the club. Then pre-season comes around and they’re a totally different player to the season before - they’re your key man the next season. So Sanchez could definitely go back to United, look fantastic in training, and bang suddenly he’s important to their plans after all. Some players are happy to count their money, but that’s not Sanchez - he plays with determination and passion, he clearly loves playing football. I know there’s talk about him being a bit of a loner, but that’s fine - some people are like that - it’s about what happens on the pitch, and you can see he’s always trying the right things when he plays

If someone can get him in and play him in the right position, you’ve still got a great player in there. If that’s West Ham, who can build their team around him, then it’s a great piece of business. Wherever he goes, he has to be playing week-in, week-out. Not just to justify his wage, but for his own career. And I am certain that he is desperate to play. I’ve watched him a lot, and it was never for a lack of trying that things didn’t work

2020 04 11 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Alexis Sanchez will be wishing he had linked up with Manchester City rather than United] Going to United was a mistake. I bet Alexis wishes he’d gone to City, like he was supposed to. United was never, ever the right move for him. The team wasn’t settled and their style of play wasn’t conducive to him. He was clearly desperate to make an impact. Look at the way Bruno Fernandes has hit the ground running at Old Trafford, that’s what Sanchez wanted, and was expected to do. But he didn’t get a lot of game time and was used out of position, so when he did play he started to come deeper and deeper to get on the ball, to try and influence the game, and that wasn’t his game. A move last summer was always on the cards, and I thought Inter would’ve been a good place for him to go - but, again, he doesn’t fit. Where does he play in the 3-5-2 that Antonio Conte plays? You’ve got Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez up front, there’s no room for Sanchez. Football is a funny old game, though. Sanchez could definitely go back to United, look fantastic in training, and bang suddenly he’s important to their plans after all. I wouldn’t rule out him being a key part of their team next season

2020 04 26 Retrieve

[United will be vying for Aston Villa hero Jack Grealish in the summer. Aston Villa star Jack Grealish has been linked with a move to United and Everton. However, Paul Ince has warned that plenty of Premier League rivals will also be in the hunt] Do I see him as a United player? Well, I could also see him at City or Liverpool. Tottenham also wanted him not so long ago. There will be plenty of suitors for Grealish. We’re all saying United, but he’d fit in with any team in the top five

2020 05 01 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Jadon Sancho has been warned that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may not be the best manager for his development] When it comes to transfers, it’s not just about the team, it’s about the manager. Sometimes as a player, it’s about looking at a team’s manager and coaching staff and whether they’d take you to that next level. That’s a decision Sancho will need to make. He’s [Solskjaer] clearly trying to develop a young team, so that will help, but in terms of actually the man-to-man management and development of someone like Sancho, he’s a total unknown. We’ve not seen any evidence yet that he can take a player to the next level. He’s not been at United long enough to know that, but also because in his previous jobs he’s not had players like that at his disposal

To use myself as an example, when I went to Inter Milan, I became a far better player under Roy Hodgson. He truly took my game to a next level, I felt fitter, stronger, my awareness went up tenfold. That, plus the change in culture and experience that I had. What I’m saying is, Sancho needs to consider all of those factors, culture, environment, team and ultimately the manager

2020 05 02 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Jadon Sancho is ‘worth breaking the bank for’] Ed Woodward was totally right when he said that, at Manchester United, there’ll be a ‘new normal’ in terms of spending because of the current situation. Where we’ll see it the most is with these crazily inflated transfer fees. A player that was £100m might now be more like £50m, and a £50m player might be more in the £20-30m region.

What I have to say, though, is that I believe that’s a good thing. The amount clubs and agents were demanding around signings had got stupid. Although the circumstances are terrible, it will be good to see a sense of normality again with the huge amounts we were seeing for players. One player that Man Utd, and Ed Woodward, would probably change their thinking on is Jadon Sancho. He’s worth breaking the bank for. He’s still young, only 20, yet so established. He’s obviously incredibly talented, and although the club will be entering a bidding war if they want to buy him, if they have the chance they would be stupid not to. Fans would be right to be disappointed if they thought United had the chance to have Sancho, and the club didn’t fight for him

2020 05 04 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Paul Pogba has been diabolical at times for Manchester United] What’s disappointing is the way he’s acted, his behaviour and performances reflect that he’s been unsure about his decision. You compare that to Bruno Fernandes, and his arrival at United, and it’s crazy. He’s come in and hit the ground running fairly instantly, winning over the fans in the process. Pogba never did that, and his performances have been inconsistent to say the least. Sometimes they’ve been on the border of diabolical, and occasionally they’ve been brilliant. When you cost that kind of money as a player, fans expect you to be consistently great, especially when you’re playing for Man United. Their expectations are very high. The on the pitch performances, plus his behaviour off the pitch, with his agent and generally acting up, isn’t good for the club. If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to take the club forward, to build and to instil the ‘United Way’ back into the team, then Pogba’s actions don’t reflect that. The way he’s been acting and behaving recently, he just isn’t good for the club. If you want the right attitude and mentality, and high standards, then sorry, but that doesn’t fit in with Paul Pogba. There’s been too many distractions, too many reports around him and his behaviour, so his time for me is up. Perhaps if Fernandes hadn’t come in and done as well as he has done, maybe Ole might try and keep Pogba. But now, he might be thinking if I can get the right money for Pogba, then I can let him go. It’s a shame, because he could’ve been a great player for the club, but he isn’t a great player at the moment. Ultimately, he’s a distraction and his behaviour impacts and damages the rest of the team. Now, if he was performing out of his skin every week and changing games, you could forgive him for his behaviour even when he’s being a nightmare, but he isn’t, so why bother? If he’s not performing, just let him go, get rid. The decision needs to be made, and quickly, because we can’t have another season of the Pogba circus. He wouldn’t even get in the side at the moment.

2020 05 08 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Man Utd kidding themselves if they think Liverpool can be caught in a couple of years] It will take a long time to catch up and if anyone at Old Trafford thinks it can be done in a couple of years with some big money signings, they are kidding themselves. I would look at the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson as a starting point for where we have got to now, with Liverpool so far ahead of United. David Moyes came into United at that time, didn’t get the time or money he needed to do the job and then they moved on to Louis van Gaal, who never seemed to be the right for fit United, despite winning the FA Cup in 2016. After that, you had Jose Mourinho and he didn’t look happy from day one, even though he won a couple of trophies in his first seasons

It was all about Mourinho sniping at the press, problems behind the scenes with Paul Pogba and there was a general mood of discontent at the club. Then they turned to Ole and he is very inexperienced for a job of that size. To manage Cardiff, Molde and then end up in charge of the biggest club in the world was always going to be tough for him and I’m not surprised that he has struggled. The end result is there has been a lot of damage caused by the instability at the club over the last six years and at the same time, Liverpool have had stability, especially since Klopp came in. Liverpool have had a plan, they stuck to it even when things didn’t go great for Klopp in his first year and now they are getting the rewards. At United, managers have come and gone, they’ve had their own ideas on players, spent fortunes on terrible signings and they found themselves 30 points behind Liverpool at the halfway point of the season, which is embarrassing for a club of United’s stature.

[the differences between Liverpool and United] They have a fantastic spine and that’s what United are lacking at the moment, primarily because their transfer dealings have been absolutely horrendous. There is no point beating around the bush here. Ed Woodward (executive vice-chairman) has failed in his transfer dealings and I don’t think United can move forward until he is replaced or someone comes in to help with transfers who understands the game

2020 05 09 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Liverpool used to fall apart, now they’re made of strong stuff] They won the Champions League in June and have kicked on from there. They are hungry, they are ready for it and Manchester City have not been up to the task of sticking with them this time. I give all the credit in the world to Klopp and his players. They had a massive high winning the Champions League and that came on the back of the massive low of losing out in the title race after getting 97 points and losing just one game all season. You look back to 2014 and the last time Liverpool nearly won the league, they fell apart the next season and Brendan Rodgers ended up getting sacked because they took one too many punches in the stomach, but this Liverpool team are made of stronger stuff. Klopp has built them superbly, piece by piece. He has bought a spine in Alisson, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, with players like Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane improving so much since he arrived at the club

2020 05 15 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Manchester United would be daft not to ask the Kane question] I cannot see Harry Kane to Manchester United happening. I can see him going, yes, and wanting to leave Tottenham, but not to join United. People keep saying that what they keep forgetting is they’ve got Marcus Rashford up front. He’s always wanted to play up front, but what you need to remember is he can also play off the left-hand side, as we’ve seen from plenty of his goals this season. Plus, between him and Anthony Martial, Kane coming in would also bring some competition to the side. There’s always been a sense of competition at United, and it would be nice to see that back again, players fighting for their places. So if you’re looking at Rashford left, Kane centre and Jadon Sancho on the right, it sounds pretty nice doesn’t it? But it probably sounds like a dream for a reason, it is a dream

Don’t get me wrong, if, and it’s a big if, United can get Kane, and he fancies the move, surely you’re going to go for him. You’d be absolutely daft not to. If you can get him, then you have to go and get him, but I can’t see it being the case. Spurs fans won’t like to hear me say this either, but sometimes as a player you simply need a new challenge. Whether that’s at Old Trafford, or in my opinion, more likely abroad, who knows? However if he’s on the market then if you’ve got to at least have a go at getting him, if you’re United. You’re taking a completely complete, proven player. He’s only going to get better and better. He’s a guarantee

2020 05 21 Retrieve

[Paul Ince says Pogba isn’t bigger than Man Utd & do they need him?] They’ve got to resolve the Pogba situation. It has to be resolved. You can’t keep having what we’re having every six, seven, eight weeks. He’s going, he’s staying, the agent comes out. Pogba is not bigger than Manchester United, no player is bigger than Manchester United. The way Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] is going, you don’t want any disruptions. He either knuckles down and starts performing the way he should be performing for the money he cost, or they sell him. The biggest thing for Man Utd is Fernandes coming in. Before that you are saying, ‘We need Pogba in there’. Now because he’s been out injured and Fernandes has come in, all of a sudden, ‘Do we need Pogba in there?’ Does he get in there? I know he [Solskjaer] likes [Scott] McTominay. [Nemanja] Matic has come in and started playing well. Does Pogba start every game? If Ole thinks he’s not going to, he might think he can cash in and bring one or two other players in. But the saga needs to be sorted out before the start of next season because next season is a big season for Ole. A big, big season. But I like the way they are going now, I like what I’m seeing. I can’t make judgement yet. They are not there yet where Liverpool and City are, but signs are good and that’s a good thing to say because I didn’t see those signs a year ago. I like what I’m seeing. I like the place and I like the players they are bringing in. You’ve got to give Ole time now to take them where they need to be, which is challenging for the league title