Ince feels old boys still have the edge in football’s generation game
Former West Ham midfielder recalls being taught a lesson by Liam Brady
Paul Ince wonders about an emerging generation who, he feels, are so coached in specialist roles that they fail to develop into the more rounded midfielders. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
at the start of his career playing for West Ham alongside Liam Brady, who was approaching the end of his. Having arrived into Dublin on Wednesday he caught sight of his old team-mate on television while having a drink in town and laughs as he says he had to do a double take.
“I couldn’t believe I played with him,” says the 47-year- old, who was in town to launch a Carlsberg Legends promotion on Facebook in which Irish fans can win the chance to play at Anfield. “Am I that old? Surely not. But what a player. He wasn’t quick anyway and he was even slower at West Ham. But his mind! His mind was so far in front of anyone else’s. And he had a wonderful, cultured left foot.
“I was only 18 or 19 at the time and you think, ‘Move over old man, I’m taking over,’ but he would flick it around the corners and get it back. He taught me lesson, basically. I’m privileged to have played with great players like that.”
Ince wonders about an emerging generation who, he feels, are so coached in specialist roles that they fail to develop into the more rounded midfielders so central to teams in his own day.
United, he says, need a powerful box-to-box player but he struggles to name one he reckons is up to the task, while Liverpool need Jordan Henderson to come on quite a bit more before he can truly be said to be filling Steven Gerrard’s boots.
“It’s unfair to compare him to Stevie G,” he continues. “He’s still a young lad but Brendan [Rodgers] has given him the armband so he must have leadership qualities and he’ll get better as he gets older.”
Even as he is, Ince says, Liverpool should probably have a slight edge over their rivals this time out although he reckons it is a much tighter call in the light of United’s defeat of Tottenham.
Managing Ireland is, he feels meanwhile, a logical next step for Roy Keane but he is dismissive of the idea that Ryan Giggs might be Louis van Gaal’s successor at Old Trafford, however the next season or two might pan out for the Dutchman.
“Absolutely no chance. I don’t see it. Learn from Van Gaal and then go out and find your own feet as a manager. Then come back and say I’ve done five six seven years . . . that’s how I see the road for Giggsy,” he says.