Of all the midfield generals who most clubs would crave to have in their side, I’m surprised that ‘The Guv’nor’ doesn’t get more of a stellar mention in this conversation …
Be it for Liverpool or whoever he’s represented, Paul Ince is what you might call a ‘box-to-box’ midfielder. Sort of a utility man in the middle of the park who was capable of doing whatever the situation requested of him.
Whether the ball was at the opponent’s feet coming towards him, or if it was in his possession alone and he had some time on it to dictate whatever he wanted to do, Paul Ince was the type of player who simply didn’t panic in these situations, and was an exemplary figure for all of the clubs he’d turned out for.
Including my beloved Manchester United, who I suspect, could really do with someone of his versatile midfield talents in their squad as of writing this. But we’ve got Cristiano Ronaldo so … you know!
Nowadays, and as you can probably tell with his affiliation with The United Stand YouTube Channel, Paul Ince’s legacy rests firmly with the Red Devils outfit. So, you must be wondering, how do we get to a point where one of their better Premier League players turned out for their biggest rival? Well, to cushion the blow a little bit, the fondly-titled ‘Incey’ never made the direct move from one employer to the next.
Having spent six years in United colours – following a rather ignominious arrival from local boys West Ham in 1989 – Paul Ince was the subject of a rather handsome £7 million bid from Italian giants Inter Milan. Then arguably one of the biggest European football clubs as was possible to conceive prior to the turn of the millennium.
Once the bid was accepted, Ince felt like “his mind was made up” to move to the San Siro.
Two well-spent years in Internazionale colours led to a yearning to return to British soil. No doubt, a number of fine clubs were interested in signing Paul Ince around that time, but it would be an exciting-looking Liverpool side who’d stump up the £4 million that Roy Hodgson‘s side were looking for. Yes, Hodgson managed Inter. I know!
Linking up with Messrs Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, James McAteer, Jamie Redknapp and a number of promising youngsters in their academy, Paul Ince arrived as a potential future stalwart for their midfield brigade.
And he kicked things off in the most ideal of ways on his first full debut for the Anfield side.
Scoring the winner in an eventual 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday, not only was it the ideal way to announce Paul Ince’s arrival in the Premier League as a Liverpool player, but it also went a long way to earning some craved love from his latest supporters – especially when his goal was scored in front of their famous ‘Kop’ end.
Some of whom found it difficult to shake his original affiliation to that United lot.
They needn’t have worried where their new signing’s head was at, however, as Ince would go on to spend a revered two-year spell at Anfield before Gerard Houllier shipped him off the Middlesbrough. A decision which came as a relative shock to his latest club who, by that point, were enduring quite a difficult spell in the earlier transitional phases of the Premier League. Mind you, it wouldn’t be the last time Houllier made a short-sighted decision …
Nevertheless, bygones are bygones and Paul Ince retains the title of the very few who turned out for both Liverpool and Manchester United … and to be thought of well by either sets of their vociferous supporting networks.
That’s not an easy thing to do, let me tell you – he says in his best Gordon Ramsay impression.