Paul Ince had the potential to go down as one of the Old Trafford greats. He was cocky and cheeky but had the ability to back it up. The self-named Guvnor thought he was bigger and better than what United had to offer, so Fergie got rid, making £7 million on him in 1995.
Ince returned to the Premiership four years later, signing for Liverpool. This “fucking big time Charlie”, as Ferguson called him, would later become their captain and score an injury time equaliser against us.
United were chasing Treble glory when they travelled to Anfield. We went 2-0 up with over half an hour to go, giving us great momentum for the final three games of the season. However, Redknapp pulled one back before that twat David Ellery sent Irwin off for “kicking the ball away”, which also meant he was wrongly denied his place in United’s FA Cup final team. United battled out the final 15 minutes with 10 men, only for Ince to score in the last minute. He celebrated wildly, kissing the badge and sealing his fate as one of the most hated players for United fans. Still, our hatred was softened when three weeks later we won the Treble and Ince with Liverpool won nothing.
Like for most players, it was a downwards spiral for Ince after leaving United. In his six years with us, he won seven trophies. In the eleven years of his playing career after being sold by Ferguson he won nothing.
It was announced yesterday that Paul Ince will take a big step up from his current position as manager of MK Dons, who just won promotion to League 1, taking over from Mark Hughes as the Blackburn Rovers boss. Ince will be proud of his status as the first black Englishman managing a top flight team in this league. However, his appointment is just another statistic for backing up his former boss, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Hughes’ first job in charge of a top flight English team came when he took on the manager’s position at Blackburn Rovers.
Blackburn had finished 11 points above relegation the season before his appointment, so his main objectives were to avoid relegation, which he managed to do in his first season.
He also guided Blackburn to their first FA Cup semi final in 40 years that season.
People really started to take notice of Hughes in his second season in charge though, when he guided Blackburn to a top 6 finish, in a year that saw them beat us twice, Chelsea and Arsenal. Blackburn made it to the League Cup semi-final, losing out to us.
The following season, Blackburn reached the UEFA Cup Round of 32 and again finished inside the top 10. They again played in a semi-final, this time in the FA Cup against Chelsea, losing 2-1.
Last season, Blackburn finished a respectable 7th in the league, only 2 points short of a UEFA Cup place, and in October Hughes was named Premiership Manager of the Month.
The secret behind his success has been developing a decent squad for next to nothing. Benni McCarthy (£2m), David Bentley (approx £500k), Ryan Nelsen (free), Stephen Warnock (£1.5m), Roque Santa Cruz (£3.5m), and Christopher Samba (£400k) are amongst the best of these deals.
His success caught the eye of Dr Death, who booted out Sven after a year and named Hughes City’s new manager. Painful.
Bruce was 41-years-old when he took on the Birmingham City job, following short stints as manager of Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, Wigan Athletic and Crystal Palace. It was half way through the season and they were a mid-table team in the 1st Division.
At the end of that season, Bruce guided them to the play offs, where they beat Norwich in the final to join the Premiership. With all newly promoted teams to the top division comes the strong likelihood of going straight back down. However, Bruce avoided the relegation battle, with Birmingham finishing 13th, just 2 points short of a top 10 finish.
In his next season as boss, he lead them in to the top 10, picking up 50 points, Birmingham’s largest points tally in the Premiership years. He was linked with a move to Newcastle United, however turned it down to stay with Birmingham.
The following season Birmingham finished 13th and reached the FA Cup quarter finals. The following season they finished 12th, with Bruce calling for more funds to build on this sustained period of relative success in the top division. However, his wishes were denied, and Birmingham were relegated in 18th place.
The fickle fans called for him to be sacked, but the board kept faith in him, and he guided Birmingham to promotion again before the season had ended. However, it was former team mate Roy Keane who managed the team that finished in top spot to join the Premier League.
Bruce left Birmingham after the club couldn’t offer him job security, with talks of Carson Yeung buying the club. He took on the job at Wigan, who had lost 10 of the 14 matches they’d played so far, picking up just 8 points from a possible 42. In his first 8 matches in charge, Wigan won 12 points out of a possible 24 and were fighting for their lives. They were safe before the final game of the season, losing on just three occasions in the final three months of the season. Oh, and their defeat on the last day meant United were crowned Champions…
After leaving United during the 2005-2006 season, Keane spent the rest of the season with Celtic. In the summer, he was named manager of Sunderland.
It came as a surprise to anyone who knew much about Keane, as it was Niall Quinn who was Chairman and gave him the job. Keane had spoken very angrily and honestly about his negative feelings about his former Irish team mate, but it seems as though their differences had been put aside.
Sunderland had lost their opening four games of the season, as well as being knocked out of the League Cup by Bury, by the time Keano took over, so he had to move fast.
He brought in six new players in his first few days of being manager, setting a great trend for what was to follow: Irish/United/former United/Celtic players.
In his first game in charge they came from behind to beat Derby, then walked all over Leedscum in his second match.
By January, Sunderland were in the top half of the table and continued to claw their way up the league table.
In his first season, Sunderland won the Championship and Keane was named the league’s manager of the year. His second season was more difficult, now challenging against the country’s finest teams in the Premiership.
Whilst all fans will curse their bad luck, it really appeared as though for weeks at a time Sunderland were being robbed of results. Still, they avoided the drop zone easily enough, never really being involved in the relegation battle. But Keane wasn’t happy.
“We’ve lost 22 games this season and people keep telling me we’ve had a good season, but I’m lucky to still be in a job,” he said.
Keane adopted the tough managerial approach of his former boss, Fergie, searching for perfection. When Sunderland won the Championship, Keane denied the opportunity to have an open top bus through the streets. He wanted Sunderland to have bigger things to celebrate before going to such lengths.
During that season, he made his tough approach known, leaving three players behind who turned up late for the coach to their away game at Barnsley.
At the end of his first season in the Premiership, finishing 15th, Keane spent much of his post match interviews talking of his frustration with the players not giving enough. There was no lap of honour after the final home game of the season at the Stadium of Light. The fact that Sunderland have spent the past 10 years or so bouncing up between the Premiership and Championship meant nothing to Keane and he wasn’t going to celebrate simply avoiding relegation.
Now Paul Ince joins his former Manchester United team mates as Premiership managers. Roy Keane (36), Paul Ince (40), Mark Hughes (44) and Steve Bruce (47) have all won at least a couple of league titles with United under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson. The fact that these four young managers have broken in to the top flight in their managerial careers so successfully and so soon after leaving Fergie’s team certainly says a lot about how our manager conducts himself.
Ferguson is a winner and he demands that in all his players. At one time or another, all four of these men were good figure heads for United. They were all battlers, fighters, who had a manager pushing them for perfection.
You only have to read Roy Keane’s autobiography to see what effect Ferguson had on him, and to know how the manager’s attention to detail brings out the best in his players.
These four men now have high standards in their expectations of their players, which has seen them climb the managerial ladder so quickly.
However, with all the great teams Fergie has created at United, his ways passed on to each of them, you have to imagine these are just the first of many former United players to make a success of a managerial career.
Who will be the next player to work under Fergie to make it as a Premiership manager?