Over and out for Ince
As predicted in this column last week, anything less than a positive result for Paul Ince’s Blackburn against Wigan would result in his removal as coach. And so it has proved. The 3 – 0 defeat at Ewood Park at the weekend was the last straw for the board who decided to relieve Ince of his duties on Tuesday. Ince had served only 17 league games as coach and while that is barely a heartbeat when compared to the likes of Ferguson and Wenger, it is it seems, more than long enough to make your mark in today’s game. A statement on the Rovers web site said “The board, having selected Paul Ince back in June, were desperate for him to succeed and wanted to give him as much time as possible in the unforgiving environment of the Premier League, where time is such a precious commodity.” Too precious it turns out, particularly with Spurs dumping Ramos for Redknapp a few weeks ago and improving almost immediately. Rovers fear relegation and the multi million pounds penalty that goes with it. And that’s understandable. But Ince hasn’t become a bad manager in 6 months. He’s the same man that Rovers picked to succeed Mark Hughes. The fact that Ince has taken the club to 19th spot when they finished 7th last year reflects just as strongly on the Rovers board and their appointment process as it does on the now former Rovers boss.
Martin O’Neill was once in the frame for the England manager’s post. That he didn’t get it could still turn out to England’s advantage because of the brilliant job he’s doing at Aston Villa, and in particular with a clutch of England youngsters. His success has been noted by the current England coach Fabio Capello who has been impressed by Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor and also James Milner. Celebrating his anniversary in charge of the national side, Capello said “I’m very happy for players that play with Aston Villa. They are young players and are performing. The other young player I like is Milner. He’s the future, my future. He was close when he was a Newcastle player, but was injured before we put him in the squad.” Its good news isn’t it? Though, I have to admit that being an England fan and about to start a new year filled with excitement and optimism thanks to the likes of O’Neill and Capello is a truly unique experience.
BBC officials are fuming that not one Liverpool player bothered to turn up for the Sports Personality of the Year bash which was being held in their home city. Steven Gerrard pulled out last week followed by Jamie Carragher on the day before the event. Manager Rafael Benitez was also absent as he was attending a club social event. One senior BBC manager was quoted as saying “The Liverpool team not showing up in their home city was a complete disgrace and presents the club in a particularly poor light.” If the Beeb gets so uptight about a few players not turning up to one off gig, why is it that they refuse to make a fuss about Sir Alex Ferguson’s continuing refusal to speak to them after Premier League games for which they’ve paid millions of pounds in rights fees? Fergie, you may remember, hasn’t been near a BBC microphone since a documentary, made by a different part of the corporation to the sports department, wasn’t too complimentary about him and one of his sons. Personally, if I was in charge, after every game I’d put up a message on the screen stating that “We did ask Sir Alex for an interview but he’s still sulking about a programme we made nearly 5 years ago.” Sir Alex maintains that BBC never apologised for the show. But then, since he hasn’t sued them over the content, they probably rightly feel that there’s nothing to apologise for.
As this is the penultimate Oh Kay before Christmas (yes, the boss will be demanding another piece for Xmas Eve) here’s a little pay off by way of a gag that was doing the rounds in my local this week.
Wayne Rooney and Coleen are lying in bed and the neighbours’ dog is barking like mad in the garden. Wayne says “To hell with this!” and storms off. He comes back upstairs 5 minutes later and Coleen asks “What did you do?” Wayne' replies “I’ve put the dog in our garden, let’s see how they like it!”