Another Chance For ‘No Opportunities’ Ince

by Sam Wheatley

Friday, October 29th, 2010

The performance and movement of managers has become something that faces perpetually closer scrutiny as the years wear on. No longer does it do for a boss to merely take charge and ensure that nothing adverse happens to the club, they must possess foresight, be dynamic, charismatic and know how to win games. One of those who has not done partiucularly well, by any stretch of the imagination, is Paul Ince.

The Guv’nor’s ill-fated stint at Blackburn was a job that he had more or less blagged through his criticism of chairmen for not taking a chance on young managers. When it came to the crunch, Ince squelched and was gone by the end of October 2008, just a few short months into his reign at Ewood Park.

Ince’s criticism was actually nothing to do with the average age of managers; indeed, they seem to get younger and younger and the average age must be at something of an all-time low in the Premier League. In the last few year’s we’ve seen Ince himself, Roy Keane, Roberto Mancini, Owen Coyle, Gareth Southgate, Alan Shearer, Gianfranco Zola, David Moyes (he was young for a manager when he signed on the line) and even, to an extent José Mourinho. The newest addition to the Premier League’s young manager line-up is Roberto Di Matteo, the man that took Ince’s job at MK Dons after the former Manchester United midfielder left for the north.

Since then, Di Matteo has gone from strength to strength. West Brom noticed his potential, and he achieved promotion in his first season at the club. This may be nothing new, seeing as West Brom are one of those yo-yo teams, not quite good enough for the Premier League, but far too good for the Championship. The former Chelsea midfielder’s current incarnation of West Brom may be about to end that though. They have maintained the same fluid football that usually sees them give Premier League spectators a fine but ultimately doomed show when they do appear in England’s top flight, and have added a sheen that turns draws into wins and losses into draws. Obviously, they do still cut cut to pieces sometimes by the better sides in the league, but Di Matteo and his team are learning.

I would think that West Brom will survive if they continue in this trend, although of course teams are capable of going on huge losing streaks as we have seen many times in the past. But with Di Matteo, they have a manager that can be relied upon to find the odd bargain to bolster the squad. Peter Odemwingie has so far proved a very useful purchase, and given the opportunity Di Matteo will be able to unearth a few more gems.

Another young manager currently exceeding all expectations is Di Matteo’s former Chelsea team-mate down at Bright & Hove Albion, Gus Poyet. His Seagulls side sit atop League One with an six point buffer between them and second placed Bournemouth after thirteen games. Poyet took over a Brighton side in the relegation zone, and with careful and methodical purchases and tactics has them playing in a way that warrants being in a higher division. They’re beginning to get the attendance figures as well, and with a new stadium on the horizon, things look good for the south coast club.

This neatly filters back to Ince, who has just taken over at the blindly ambitious Notts County, who sit a mediocre sixteenth in League One. The new manager and club are perfectly suited for each other, both believing their powers stretch far beyond League One whereas in reality, that is probably the best place for both of them.

Many young managers do get a chance in the top flight and make a mess of it (Southgate, Shearer), whilst perhaps others have opportunities but think it better to start off in a lower league and learn their trade properly first, where the scrutiny is less intense and the consequences are arguably less severe. When Poyet faces Ince in December, we’ll see whether both are in League One because young managers really don’t get a chance, or whether it’s just that Ince isn’t very good.

I know which outcome my money’s going on.

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  • Danny Goodwin

    Ince will be gone by the end of the season…

  • Owen

    Whilst their are parts of your article that I agree with, the main point with regards to Ince is ludicrous. He no more blagged his position at Blackburn than Southgate did at Boro, Zola did at West Ham & Shearer did at Newcastle. In fact in hindsight out of all the younger/relatively inexperienced managers who have been given a job in the Premier League these past few seasons his record is probably the best.

    Have you forgotten the way he cut his cloth in his first 2 years in management? He revived a Macclesfield team that looked dead and buried in October and went out to guide them to survival with an over 40% win rate (something not to be scoffed at given the team & resources). He then won 2 pieces of silverware in his first stint at MK, again with a mightly impressive win rate (60%).

    Granted his time at Blackburn can only be described as a failure…though im still not convinced he was given enough time. But then again that is something that is much more precious in the Premiership.

    Expect him to do a good enough Job at Notts County and definitly do not be surprised to see him back in the Premiership proving his doubters wrong in the next few years!!

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