By Laurie Fitzgerald
Over the past few years, there’s no doubt that Paul Ince has been one of the leading lights for black managers in football.
After hanging up his boots following a fantastic playing career that involved the likes of Manchester United, Inter Milan and Liverpool, Ince has spent almost five years trying to work his way to the top of English football management.
The 43 year-old started management life well when he managed to guide Macclesfield to League Two safety against all the odds and ensure survival on the last day of the 2006/07 season.
His efforts had won him many admirers, and when MK Dons manager Martin Allen left to take over at Leicester City that summer, Ince was named as his replacement at the Stadium:mk.
It proved to be a great decision from Chairman Pete Winkleman, as Ince guided the Dons to automatic promotion to League One, as well as winning the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in the process.
Ince was carving out a reputation as one of the best young managers in the game, gaining real respect in an era where black managers aren’t given many opportunities within the game.
His efforts were richly rewarded in 2008 when Blackburn Rovers appointed them as their new boss, giving him the chance to cement a career in the top-flight.
However, it was at this point when things started to go downhill for Ince. He lasted just six months before being sacked in December that year after Rovers became embroiled in a relegation battle.
Having learnt the harsh realities of management, ‘the guvnor’ returned to Milton Keynes for a second spell in charge of the Dons, but this time in League One.
Having reached the play-offs in their debut season in the third tier of English football, expectations were high.
But Ince was unable to build on the previous campaign, and stayed for just half of the duration of his two-year deal, leaving the club for a second time having guided the side to an twelfth place finish.
Despite this disappointment, the man capped 53 times by England would not have to wait long for a chance to kickstart the latest stage of his footballing career.
After taking charge at Notts County in October, Ince began to guide the side in the right direction, with the Magpies losing just one game in twelve, including a famous FA Cup win at Sunderland and a draw at home to Manchester City.
The resurgence didn’t last long; five defeats in a row, the most recent a 2-0 loss at home to Oldham, meant that Ince was shown the exit door at Meadow Lane.
It’s difficult to see where Ince goes from here; after such a promising start, his jump to the Premier League came too soon, and he acknowledged that by going back to the MK Dons two divisions below.
The problem now is that he has now had two jobs at this level and has failed to take either side forward, leading to people questioning whether he is cut out for management.
He is young and has shown in the past he is capable of being a good manager. But if Ince does get another chance in football management, then he has to make it count.
What do you think? Is Ince’s managerial career in trouble? Has he been unfairly treated with the resources available to him? Would you like him at your club? Let us know your thoughts.