He has played for Liverpool and Internazionale yet Paul Ince believes the lessons learnt during six years playing under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United will ensure the gamble Blackburn Rovers have taken employing his services pays off.
Twenty months after launching his managerial career at Macclesfield Town, Ince yesterday breezed into Ewood Park as Blackburn's new manager after making the leap from League Two – where he steered Milton Keynes Dons to the title – to the Premier League.
The ground-breaking appointment is considered something of a risk because of Ince's lack of experience in the dug-out but the former England captain, the first black Briton to manage in the Premier League, will copy the same high standards demanded by Ferguson at Old Trafford in an effort survive the cut-throat world of top-flight management.
Once branded a "big-time Charlie" by Ferguson, Ince has shed his tag of "The Guv'nor" and is already counting down the days to 4 October when he will attempt to out-wit his former manager at Ewood Park.
"I had a text off him [Ferguson] to say 'well done, congratulations' as I've had off numerous people," said Ince, who has signed a three-year contract. "We get on fine. It was only last year that he was in my office at Milton Keynes having a glass of red wine. What lessons from him will I be taking into this job? Standards, that's the main thing I can say about him. What some people class them as are very different to what his standards are – he implements that in his team and his players.
"The characters, the choice of people he picks, his people, the aura about the man. I don't want to say too much as I'll give his secrets away – but he's a fantastic manager and it's no coincidence that he's got so many ex-players now managing.
"I was privileged to work for Sir Alex because his standards are unbelievable. I've been at other clubs where the standards haven't been as high. I can take that into my managerial career."
Ferguson has been linked with a move for Roque Santa Cruz, Blackburn's £10m-rated Paraguay forward, yet Ince has made it clear that he will have no hesitation disappointing his former manager should he call. Ince also wants to keep David Bentley, the want-away England winger, yet Blackburn could be persuaded to part with the £15m-rated player if one of the big four came knocking.
"If he [Ferguson] comes on asking about Santa Cruz then I'll just tell him he's not having him," Ince added. "They've signed contracts. There's interests from other clubs but this is my first year in management and you want to keep your best players. "Bentley and Santa Cruz are two of those. If the players tell me they want to go and I say no they have to knuckle down and help this club go forward."
John Williams, the Blackburn chairman, revealed that Ince is contractually obliged to earn the Uefa pro licence that he is yet to earn in the window allocated by the Premier League.
"I don't want to make a big issue of it," said Ince. "We've got two years to get it done and it will be."Reuse content