Talking Sport with Neil Trainis
PUBLISHED: 15:05 26 June 2008 | UPDATED: 12:44 11 August 2010
2008 Getty Images
FORMER West Ham United defender Tony Gale has warned Paul Ince that he will face a hostile reception when he returns to Upton Park as manager of Blackburn Rovers this season. It is almost 19 years since a youthful Ince, who was born in Ilford and attended
FORMER West Ham United defender Tony Gale has warned Paul Ince that he will face a hostile reception when he returns to Upton Park as manager of Blackburn Rovers this season.
It is almost 19 years since a youthful Ince, who was born in Ilford and attended Goodmayes Primary School, appeared in a photograph published in the Daily Express wearing a Manchester United shirt before the completion of his £1m transfer from the east London club to Old Trafford.
A section of West Ham supporters have never forgiven him for committing what was in their eyes an act of betrayal even though Ince, who last week was unveiled at Ewood Park as the first black British manager in the Premier League, suggested at the time his actions were prompted by his then agent Ambrose Mendy.
"I spoke to Alex Ferguson and the deal was close to being done. I went on holiday and my agent at the time, Ambrose Mendy, said it wasn't worth coming back to do a picture in a United shirt when the deal was completed, so I should do one before I left, and it would be released when the deal was announced," Ince recently told Four Four Two magazine.
"I came back from holiday to discover West Ham fans were going mad. It wasn't really my fault. I was only a kid. I did what my agent told me to do, then took all the crap for it."
That, though, has not washed with the Hammers faithful and Gale, who made over 300 appearances for West Ham, insisted that Ince will need to brace himself for their vitriol, as he has each time he has returned to east London as an opposition player throughout his career.
"It will be a hot one (reception). He always gets it in the neck whenever he comes back down here but I'm sure he'll handle it. He's still got West Ham in his heart," Gale said of a player who played for the Hammers for five seasons before establishing a glittering career with England, Manchester United, Inter Milan and Liverpool.
"He'll still get it down at our place as much as he ever did but he was very young and naive and was put up to it (appearing in the Manchester United shirt) by his agent. The fans will remember what happened but Paul will have to get on with it."
Contending with vociferous fans breathing down his neck when he takes his place in the dugout at Upton Park for the Premier League fixture on August 30, however, could be the least of Ince's problems during his first season as a manager in English football's top flight.
The legacy of another former Manchester United star already hangs over him at Ewood Park and Gale insisted Ince, who was given the all-clear by the Premier League to take over at Blackburn despite a lack of coaching qualifications, must emulate Mark Hughes' achievements at the Lancashire club.
"There'll be a lot of pressure on Incey. Mark Hughes got the best out of what he had there and he'll be a tough act to follow. He will need belief in himself because great criticism will come his way. (As a manager) he's not really had that much," Gale said of Ince, who was given a three-year contract by Blackburn even though he has yet to obtain the Uefa B and A Licences needed to enrol on the Uefa Pro Licence course.
"He hasn't had the bad times. He saved Macclesfield (from relegation from League Two in 2006/07) and took Mk Dons up but the pressure will now be greater."
(Do you think Paul Ince deserves a hard time when he returns to Upton Park on August 30? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your views.)
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