Football Insights - Paul Ince
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Football Insights - Paul Ince

It's crunch time in the Champions League this week as the last 16 1st leg ties get underway with one of the stand-out games Liverpool v Inter Milan. Former Liverpool and Inter Milan midfielder Paul Ince talks exclusively to Genting Casino ahead of the game and also chats about his former clubs, Manchester United, Wolves and Middlesbrough.


On Manchester United’s Current Situation

Themain problem at United is that they haven’t really tied down a long-term manager. They’ve had Moyes, Mourinho, Van Gaal, Ole, now an interim manager. You’re never going to go back to the Fergie days, but when you look at what Klopp’s achieved at Liverpool and

Pep at Manchester City, they’ve been there for five or six years. At United, there seems to be changes all the time and a lot of money spent on that. There’s no consistency. There are a lot of things coming out in the press, a lot of unrest. In our time, we

tried to keep things in house. We’d deal with it in the changing room, but it looks like now there’s some fragmentation in the changing room. In our changing room, people didn’t always get on and go out for dinner. But when it came to training, we were all as one.

On Cristiano Ronaldo’s Form

This is not the Ronaldo of 19 years ago when he was first at Old Trafford - this is a 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo. When people say he’ll be great for the club and the youngsters, you’d have thought that would be the case. But he’s walking off down the tunnel and

throwing his toys out the pram. For me that’s a bad example. This is someone at the end of his career and if he can’t start against Burnley who are bottom of the table there’s something seriously wrong. It should be about the team, but it’s now become all about Ronaldo.

On Harry Maguire’s Form

Harry Maguire hasn’t been the same since the situation in Mykonos. I always think what would Fergie do? Maguire’s not the quickest but he’s still a top player. Everyone loses form and regains form, and he’s going through that period where he’s making mistakes. It’s

not just him - it’s the midfield, he gets no protection from the midfield. If I was playing in that midfield with Roy Keane, Maguire wouldn’t be getting isolated all the time. Lindelof didn’t do anything wrong at the start of the season. He was playing very

well and probably better than Maguire. Then Varane came in and I thought if anyone would be left out it would be Maguire.

On Leeds v Manchester United Rivalry

I loved playing at Leeds. We know the history between Leeds and Man United, but I love their fans, they’re amazing. I was so glad they made it back to the Premier League. The atmosphere at Elland Road is electric, it’s hostile, you can hear the abuse and the

shouting. You’ve got to be mentally tough but I loved it there. Leeds are fighting for their lives at the moment, so this is a game you’d fancy United to win. But if they don’t have the character, they’ll get beaten. Leeds don’t stop running, and United’s players don’t seem to want to run back.

On The Next Manchester United manager

Ole came into the United job at a time when the fixtures were easier and then everyone was asking for him to get the job full time. They should have waited until the end of the season and then gone for Pochettino - what he did at Tottenham was amazing. They didn’t

and we’re sitting here now. Ten Haag’s style of football is very attacking but have United got the players to play like that. If they’re going to compete they’re going to need five or six new players. I’d like to see Pochettino come in. People say he hasn’t

won trophies but he got Tottenham to the Champions League final which is no mean feat. I also like Potter at Brighton - he’s done a great job and the style of football is fantastic. He looks a top, top manager. They need to be prepared and have a plan for five years, not just changing managers every couple of years.

On Manchester United’s Recruitment

You have to look at United’s recruitment. They didn’t know about Bissouma, now he’s at Brighton and might cost £40m. They didn’t know about Kante, now he’s at Chelsea. All these players have been about but why have United not spotted them? They need to get someone

like Bissouma because the midfield needs to change. Fred’s not the answer, McTominay is one of those who’s a good player but would be better with someone like Bissouma next to him. Is Pogba going to stay? I can’t see it. It’s not just about two midfield players.

They need a striker, too. Haaland’s a tricky one because of the situation with his dad and Keane at Old Trafford. I can’t see him going to Old Trafford just based on that, and if there’s no Champions League he definitely won’t. 

On Salah And Mane

If anyone’s going to leave Liverpool I think it will be Salah. Mane and Salah have been here a long time now and what they’ve achieved has been sensational. Sometimes players want to try pastures new, go abroad and try different clubs. The fans obviously won’t

want them to go but if the contracts aren’t right they’re going to move on. I don’t care who you are in the Premier League, Barca or Real Madrid come knocking and you’re going.

On Jadon Sancho’s Form

When you go to Germany and play for one of the big clubs like Dortmund, it’s not as good as the Premier League. They’re beating teams 3-0 or 4-0 and Sancho’s getting two goals and doesn’t have to track back. It’s pretty easy for him unless you’re playing against

Bayern or one of the top teams. The Premier League’s different and you don’t get as much time - and I know that because I played in Italy. It was a big move for Sancho. When I first came to United I was 21 and it takes time to find your feet as a young kid.

It didn’t help that at the start of the season he was playing left wing. He might have lost a bit of confidence, but the fans have always been great with him. You need a good team around you that’s performing well. The last two games he seems to have grasped

it, and he will get better. It’s not his fault he cost £75m. He’s got plenty of years ahead of him.

On Declan Rice’s Future

Declan Rice has been outstanding in the last year, probably the best midfielder in the Premier League. It’s always tough as a West Ham boy to leave your home club, but when teams like United come calling it’s the next step. He’s one of those players that can do that

and then go on to Barcelona and win titles. But at the moment he’s captain of West Ham, playing under a good manager in Moyes, they’re vying for the Champions League spots. If they get fourth he might want to stay. He’s a player any team would need - all of

this stupid talk about numbers and whether he’s a six or a four or an eight, he’s a box to box player, like Gerrard and Keane. Why wouldn’t the top clubs be coveting him.

On Jesse Lingard’s Future

I don’t see a future for Lingard at United. Jesse did ever so well at West Ham and Ole said he was part of his plans this season. He got kind of hoodwinked into the idea that he’d play more minutes for United, but that didn't pan out. He’s coming to the end of

his contract and there’ll be loads of clubs looking at a player of that class. It might be a case of another manager coming in at United and offering him another contract, but at the moment it’s disappointing for Jesse. He’s stuck on the bench and in the stands and not getting enough game time.

On Luis Diaz’s Form

He’s a good player, I watched him at Porto and I thought he was special. It’s a good bit of business for Liverpool. They’ve brought in Jota and Diaz, so does that mean Salah or Mane might go? It’s a lot of money but Diaz looks brilliant. He’ll score goals and create.

You watched him play against Leicester and it looks like he’s already been there four or five years, he fitted in so well. He’ll only get better and better, and Liverpool fans will love him. He could easily be a legend at Liverpool.

On Liverpool v Inter Milan

I enjoyed playing for both clubs - they were two very different experiences. Inter was amazing and probably the best experience I ever had as a player, going out there, learning the language and the lifestyle. The fans were amazing and adored me. Even when I

was bad on the pitch they thought I was good. Everything about Inter was amazing. I didn’t want to leave, I came back for family reasons, so for me to leave was a big regret for me, probably the biggest regret of my career.

To go to Liverpool, after being at United for years, there was a bit of trepidation. But they took me in as one of their own. The city’s like that and the people are like that. I was just a Liverpool player and they treated me like that. That’s why I still live

in the north west, because they’re such wonderful people. We had a good team there but we just didn’t have that successful mentality, there was too much rubbish going on off the pitch. There wasn’t the same focus that my United team had to win trophies and titles. 

On Manchester United v Atletico Madrid

It’s a tough one - if you asked me last year I would have said Atletico Madrid were favourites by a country mile. This year they’ve struggled and they’re not the same team. They’ve still got some decent players - Oblak, Suarez, Felix, Koke - but they seem to be

struggling in La Liga. But you could say the same thing about United. If United can get something in Madrid you’d fancy them at Old Trafford. It’s all about who turns up and performs on the day. Both are inconsistent at the moment. If they can get rid of all

the issues off the pitch and all the political rubbish, there’s no reason United can’t go far in the Champions League.

On Wolves’ Form

It was tough when Nuno left for Spurs. Bruno Lage came in and changed the way they played. It was more attacking, getting more players forward. But they’ve kind of gone under the radar - people are talking about United, West Ham, Arsenal and Spurs for the top

four but no one’s mentioned Wolves. Losing to Arsenal last week was disappointing but to go to Tottenham and win 2-0 is fantastic. Wolves won’t want to be mentioned, they’ll just want to keep performing. Having Jimenez back is great, he’s been a big loss for

them. I wasn’t too happy about Traore going, they should have kept him. He was getting better at Wolves, so that was surprising. The next three games will decide where they are.

On Blackburn And Middlesbrough

If you look at the Championship top two, you’d expect Fulham and Bournemouth to go up. Blackburn have done ever so well - Tony Mowbray’s done an exceptional job. And Diaz is scoring for fun, so this is a great opportunity for them. If they don’t go up they’ll

probably lose Diaz to a Premier League side. It’s going to be tough, the Championship’s very demanding. It’s great to see them up there, I had a great time there as a manager. The fans have gone through a lot with the Venky’s, so it’d be good if they can get up through the playoffs.

I had three wonderful years at Middlesbrough. I know Steve Gibson very well and he’s put so much money into the club. It’d be great to see them go up. The style of football is amazing - Chris Wilder’s got them firing, playing entertaining football. There’s probably

ten teams that could get into the playoffs. This is the time where teams have got to start putting runs together, then when you get in the playoffs it’s a lottery.




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V: 1.37.0 All rights reserved. August 2021