Paul Ince’s tenure as the Premiership’s first black manager lasted all of 177 days, a run of 11 consecutive winless matches leading to his termination at Ewood Park earlier today. In the eyes of the Times’ James Ducker, Ince was doomed from the start.
David Bentley was one of the first to take umbrage at Ince™s training methods, the England winger reportedly storming off in disgust after being ordered by a coach to do 20 press-ups as punishment for having his arms folded. Bentley soon found an escape route via Tottenham Hotspur, which might help to explain his show of dissent, but subsequent declarations from players backing Ince have tended to ring hollow. The truth is that Ince was on a collision course with his dressing-room early on, and in the age of player power, there was only going to be one winner.Some members of Blackburn™s board wanted Ince out after the 3-1 defeat by Liverpool at Ewood Park 11 days ago, although it was the abject display away to Wigan Athletic at the weekend that proved the final straw. If ever a performance reflected a manager who had œlost the dressing-room, this was it.
Blackburn™s players often complained privately that Ince was not on the training ground enough, instead leaving Ray Mathias and Archie Knox to put them through their paces, quite literally.
John Williams, the Blackburn chairman, will stand accused in some quarters of not giving Ince enough time, but he can hardly be blamed for making a change now with the team seemingly in freefall and facing a run of crucial fixtures. With wages reputedly accounting for 85 per cent of turnover, relegation is unthinkable for Blackburn. œIt would be a disaster, one source said yesterday. œIt is not even worth contemplating.