Paul Ince Interview

Exclusive interview with Paul Ince: Michael Owen talking rubbish about Harry Kane’s Bayern move, Giorgio Chiellini must have been drunk when he said West Ham could win Serie A and Inter Milan should snub Andre Onana return

Speaking to DAZN Bet, ex-Inter Milan, Manchester United and England legend Paul Ince has named his winner for this year’s Serie A title and believes his era of Italian football was significantly stronger than the standard of today’s Premier League.

He has discussed goalkeeper Andre Onana’s switch from Italy to England and how his form under Erik Ten Hag should get better.

Ince played under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United between 1989 and 1995 – winning two Premier League titles and two FA Cups.

DZBT: Your old clubs Man United and West Ham will face each other this weekend. What are you predicting?

Paul Ince: “West Ham are tough to beat – we saw that yesterday against Wolves. They’re a good side with Mohammed Kudus, Jarrod Bowen, and Lucas Paqueta all playing well.

“Bowen is, for me, one of the best players in the Premier League and he doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He scores goals, his work-rate is tireless, and he’s a top player.

“West Ham have a good squad. I don’t think we’ll see Man United repeat the performance at Anfield where they parked the bus. I think they’ll set up differently and try to win the game.

“West Ham play a certain way. Some fans moan about it and want Man City-style football. Not every team can play like that, though, and Moyes plays a certain way. He won them a European trophy, so the style of play works for him and it works for the players.

“Moyes’ set-up won’t change. Man United will probably have lots of the ball, and Moyes will look to counter as the game goes on. I can see how the game will play out! West Ham will be off as soon as the ball is turned over, and set-pieces will be a major era for them with James Ward-Prowse and Tomas Soucek up there.”

DZBT: Have you got a score?

Paul Ince: “I think it’ll be a 2-2 draw. I can see West Ham scoring from a set-piece or hitting them on the break. I’ll go for 2-2. That’s not me sitting on the fence, I think it’s a realistic answer!”

Ince’s Insight on Andre Onana’s Form at Manchester United

Transitioning from Serie A to the Premier League presents unique challenges. Paul Ince delves into Andre Onana’s journey from Inter Milan to Manchester United, analyzing the goalkeeper’s adaptation to the heightened pressure of English football.

DZBT: Andre Onana played for your old club Inter Milan. He was in superb form there, but what has gone wrong for him at Man United?

Paul Ince: “I watched Andre Onana play at Inter, who are a top side that has signed another top ‘keeper in Yann Sommer.

“Onana was always a ‘keeper who was very good with his feet. He could also make very good saves, but people need to understand that the pressure at Man United is ten-fold. He started in OK form, but the pressure got to him after he made one or two mistakes – and we can see that in his form now.

“Some players take a few months to adjust, some take a year, and others never live up to the standards, pressure, and expectations of the fans. I think Onana has to get past that. The opposition fans always hound him when he’s on the ball, but that’s the pressure you have to deal with!

“That pressure will always be there and players have to perform every week. It’s no good having one good game – the fans want at least a 7/10 performance every week! Onana is the last line of defence, and any mistake he makes will most likely result in a goal.

“Andre Onana is still young and he’ll get through it. This phase of his career will provide valuable experience for him. It’s not just him, either, as the goalkeeper is only as good as the defence he has in front of him. That’s why he looked so good at Inter and why he didn’t have so much to do. Man United are conceding a lot of goals and a lot of shots like we saw last night. They’re not protecting him enough, and there lies the problem.

“Peter Schmeichel had Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, Roy Keane, and myself in front of him and it was hard for teams to get at us! Man United look all over the place and they’re very open at times. That doesn’t help Onana’s performances whatsoever.

“It’s a good learning curve for him and I think he’ll get through it as he’s a very good goalkeeper. He’ll improve what he’s doing, but I don’t want him to completely change how he plays. Every player goes through bad times, and it’s magnified even more due to him playing in goal.”

DZBT: Should Inter consider taking him back if his form continues? Should another Italian club take a look at him?

Paul Ince: ”I don’t think Inter should take another look at Onana as Sommer is doing very well and he’s a top ‘keeper in himself. There’s no reason for that to happen unless the manager wants to follow in Arteta’s footsteps and have two top goalkeepers!

“Onana has to get past this phase of his United career and he’ll do exactly that. He’s very good and he’s made some great saves already. It may take a year to see the best of him, but that’s the case for a lot of players. He should stay where he is.

“I’d say Onana is getting some unfair criticism as it’s not just about him. We need to consider the team as a whole and look at players like Antony and Sofyan Amrabat. Let’s see how Onana performs after he goes through his phase – I think he’ll be better for it.”

Analyzing West Ham’s Serie A Comparison and Chiellini’s Comments

Giorgio Chiellini’s recent comments about West Ham being on par with Serie A’s top teams have sparked debate. Paul Ince, with his deep roots in both English and Italian football, weighs in on this bold assertion.

DZBT: Giorgio Chiellini recently said that he thinks West Ham are as good as any team in Serie A right now. Do you agree with that?

Paul Ince: “I’m not sure why Giorgio Chiellini would say that about West Ham! I wonder if he was at the pub at the time drinking something!

“I wouldn’t say West Ham are as good as Napoli, Inter, or AC Milan. Inter got to the Champions League final last season!

“It’s a brave call – and I say that as a West Ham boy! It was great to see them win the Conference League last year and I think David Moyes has done a fantastic job. They do, however, play a certain way. They’re very compact and hard to beat. I suppose they set up like an Italian team, but I wouldn’t say they’re on the level of the top Italian teams.

“Napoli may not be as good this season, but they still won the Serie A title last season. I don’t think West Ham can be compared to the top two or three Italian teams. The football is also very different from the English game. I’m not sure if West Ham would finish in the top three in Serie A, but a lot of top Italian teams would do that in the Premier League.

“That’s not me being disrespectful, it’s just me being realistic.”

Paul Ince spent two years at Inter Milan between 1995 and 1997, reaching the UEFA Cup Final – now Europa League final.

Q . Do you think Inter will win Serie A this season?

Paul Ince: “I think Inter Milan will win Serie A this season. Juventus will push them all the way, though.

Napoli have had a disappointing defence of the title, and AC will be there or thereabouts. Inter are too strong, though, and Marcus Thuram and Lautaro Martinez are scoring for fun.

“Inter are so structured and all the players know their role. I’ve always liked Juventus and I always want them to do well! Inter are my team, though, and I think they’ll win it. Inter’s season will be all about the Champions League after reaching the final last season. It’ll be interesting if they can go one step further.”

Paul Ince on Premier League vs Serie A Standards

In an era where football legends graced the fields of Italy, Paul Ince reflects on how the Serie A of his time compares with today’s Premier League. With iconic names like Roberto Baggio and Zinedine Zidane, Ince brings a unique perspective to this comparison.

DZBT: Your era at Inter is often lauded as a golden age. Do you think that era of Serie A is better than today’s Premier League?

Paul Ince: “I 100% think that the Serie A of my day is better than today’s Premier League. I say that without a doubt!

“If, in twenty years, you asked me who the best Premier League players were in 2023/24, I don’t think too many names would come to mind. Virgil van Dijk, Kevin De Bruyne, and Erling Haaland may be the exceptions.

“Teams like Man United don’t have great players. They have plenty of good ones, but no great ones. Compare that to the Italian league of the 1990s – people know about Roberto Baggio, Gabriel Batistuta, Zinedine Zidane, Antonio Conte, Roberto Carlos, George Weah, Franco Baresi, and Paolo Maldini. They were great, great players!

“We haven’t got that in today’s Premier League. Lots of very good players, but only a few great ones.”

DZBT: Do you think that applies to any Premier League era?

Paul Ince: ”It’s difficult to say whether that applies to any era of the Premier League. The Man United team of the 1990s had David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane – players who are all great.

“The great Serie A players of the time weren’t just at the top sides, though. Batistuta played at Fiorentina, for example. Everybody knows who these players are. I think the game has changed now and you don’t really get many great players. You get a few, for sure, but not as many.

“It’s hard to believe just how much star power was in the league at the time. People will debate if it was the best era of all time, but there were certainly some true greats there.”

DZBT: Is there anyone in Serie A who you’d think would be a good fit for Man United or Liverpool? Lautaro Martinez has been linked with a move to Old Trafford.

Paul Ince: “Lautaro Martinez and Victor Osimhen would be two players who have been looked at by Premier League teams – particularly Osimhen, whose relationship with the Napoli owners has become a bit fragmented.

“Darwin Nunez and Rasmus Hojlund – the two strikers starting last night’s game – aren’t clinical finishers. Martinez and Osimhen are.

“Domenico Berardi would also be fantastic in the Premier League. Man Utd don’t have an identified striker at the moment as Martial, Rashford, and Hojlund have hardly scored this season! You need a striker who’ll get you at least 25 goals a season if you want to seriously challenge for trophies.

Rashford achieved that last season by scoring 31 goals and it resulted in United getting a Champions League place. That’s how important a clinical scorer is.

“I’d say Nicolo Barella would also be a great fit. United need someone like him in midfield!”

DZBT: Bayern Munich dominated Man United in both games. Spurs’ form has dipped over the last few weeks. Do you think those two examples vindicate Harry Kane’s move to Bayern?

Paul Ince: “I don’t think Harry Kane wanted to vindicate anything. He was sensational for Spurs and, without him, the club would have finished a lot lower in the table on several occasions.

“I think Harry was unsure who would come in after Conte left and he had two options – to stay at Tottenham and beat Alan Shearer’s record, or leave and win trophies. People may dismiss the Bundesliga, but it’s still a league title.

“It’s a tricky one. There’s so much money in the game now, and that makes it harder to decide whether to stay at a club or push yourself and win trophies. Titles are what demonstrate how great your career was, and Kane wanted to put some silverware to his name. He wanted a serious chance in the Champions League, too.

“Bayern have top players in Kingsley Coman, Alphonso Davies, Joshua Kimmich, and Leon Goretzka. We have to ask ourselves why Harry wouldn’t want the chance to play in the same team as them.

“I had the same experience when I went to Inter Milan. I wanted a culture change, and it was the best thing I ever did. It’s different for Harry as most of his teammates speak English, but I think he made the right decision.

“It’s tough to call. I think Spurs, with how Ange Postecoglou has got them playing, would be serious title contenders if Harry Kane was still there. Harry couldn’t foresee that, though.

“I’m sure he’s looking at this Spurs side and rubbing his hands together at how many goals he’d get. He is, however, doing exactly that in Germany, even if it’s an easier league. Bayern will routinely beat teams by five or six goals, and you don’t get that in the Premier League very often. Spurs would be top contenders if he stayed, that’s for sure.”

DZBT: Michael Owen said that Bundesliga titles don’t mean much as the league is so easy to win. Do you think that’s unfair?

Paul Ince: “I think Michael Owen’s comments on the Bundesliga are very unfair. A title is a title.

Bayern aren’t even top of the Bundesliga! There’s also the threat of Dortmund, Leipzig, and Stuttgart. It’s not as easy as people think. Bayern barely won it last year!

“The Bundesliga is getting tougher. Any player who moves abroad and wins the league title has achieved something in my eyes.

“Bayern have won the Bundesliga every year since 2011, but they’re judged on how they fare in the Champions League. I fancy them as winners every year, especially when they had Lewandowski!

“I saw them against Manchester United and I think Bayern will have a big chance of winning. If you ask me, Michael Owen is talking a load of rubbish! Harry Kane is loving life, scoring goals, and playing well. He went to Germany for silverware, and it’ll be great if he achieves that.”

DZBT: Harry Kane decided not to stay and break Shearer’s record. Has he had a better career than Alan Shearer?

Paul Ince: “It’s hard to compare the careers of Alan Shearer and Harry Kane. Shearer was phenomenal and I think he’s the best English striker ever.

“If you had to ask me who’d I play out of those two – it would be Shearer all day long. That’s not to disrespect Kane as he’s phenomenal as well, but I trained with Shearer and I saw how good he was.

“Shearer had a different career path going from Southampton to Blackburn before Newcastle, but some of the goals he scored were unbelievable. Defenders were petrified of him! His hold-up play was great too. He was such a powerful striker who could score every type of goal.

“You wouldn’t see Shearer coming short like Kane does, but I’m not saying Alan couldn’t have done that. It’s hard to compare them, but I’d always go with Shearer.”

Paul Ince Reflects on Managing Reading and Future Aspirations

Reflecting on his tenure as Reading’s manager, Paul Ince discusses the challenges and achievements during his time there. He also shares his aspirations for future managerial roles, shedding light on what lies ahead in his career.

Ince was Reading manager in the Championship between February 2022 and left his position in April 2023.

DZBT: It’s gone from bad to worse for Reading since you left. Do you think that shows how hard you had things there? Did you not get the credit you deserved for what you were doing?

Paul Ince: “When Alex Rae and I were at Reading, I used to tell people how tough it was because he had an embargo. We had a good team, but we couldn’t sign new players and we had to stick to our budget. Some players were on £2,000-a-week in the Championship!

“It was tough. We managed to keep Reading up in 21/22, but we started to lose some key players and we often had to field numerous youngsters on the bench. We stuck with it, and I often think if the club hadn’t had the points deduction in April, Reading would have stayed up. Things could have gone so differently.

“It’s a shame because the club always knew the points deductions could very well happen and it was always hanging over our heads. Myself and the players didn’t know it, but we were slapped with docked points right at the end of the season. It wasn’t easy to deal with all the things that were going on.

“I look back on my spell at Reading and I know it was such a shame. The fans deserve so much more. They were unbelievable towards me and they were so supportive of me and the lads. I can’t see a bad word about them at all. They were terrific.

“It still wrangles me. I’d probably still be there had it not been for the points deduction. Losing your job is one thing, but how you lose it is another. I don’t know why they’d sack a manager with four games to go only to bring in somebody who isn’t as experienced. It was hard for me to understand.

“I understand why Leeds brought in Sam Allardyce for the last few games, but I was mystified why I was sacked with four games to go. It’s even worse when I look at where the club is now. The club still has a place in my heart and I want them to succeed, but the best thing that could happen to them is for someone else to buy the club.

“Reading have a very good chance of staying in League One. It’ll be tough as it’s quite tough down there, but there are still a lot of points to be won. Being the Reading manager is a tough gig, and somebody needs to turn it around and give the feel-good factor back to the fans. They’re very frustrated at the moment and I totally get that.

“People need to understand what Alex and I had to go through during our final few months. I could write a book on my trials and tribulations there! The manager has to concentrate on their players and get the best out of them to keep them on your side.

“The Reading job was tough, but it’s one I’m very proud of. I hadn’t managed for eight years prior to joining, but we all did a great job there. The relegation wasn’t down to us – it was down to the financial mismanagement of the club. I feel quite proud of what I did.

“Sometimes you don’t get credit and sometimes you do. There are, hopefully, people out there who appreciate the job I did down there and understand it. I also hope I’m working again after Christmas!”

DZBT: Are there any vacancies you’ve got your eye on?

Paul Ince: ”There aren’t really any vacancies I’ve got my eye on at the moment. Christmas is around the corner and that makes it tough.

“I know that sackings are a part of football, but I never like to see a manager lose his job, nor do I enjoy talking about it. I’d love to go to a club where I’ve got a chance of achieving something. A lot of the teams I’ve managed were struggling to stay up.

“MK Dons were a perfect fit for me. They’d just missed out on promotion the season before and they had a very good squad – making it easy for me to go in there. They just needed a little bit extra to get promoted and we did that in my first season in charge.

“I’d want to go somewhere where I have a chance instead of fighting all the time! We’ll see what comes up.”