Man Utd legend Paul Ince’s ‘obsessive’ pre-match routine used to get him in trouble with Sir Alex Ferguson

PAUL INCE had an “obsessive” pre-match routine that landed him in trouble with Sir Alex Ferguson and prompted X-rated bust-ups on the pitch.

The Manchester United legend, 55, won six major honours during his six years at Old Trafford before spells with Inter Milan, Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Wolves.

News Group Newspapers LtdPaul Ince regularly felt the wrath of his manager and team-mates at Man Utd[/caption]

But despite his heroic status at the Theatre of Dreams, that did not exempt the 55-cap England international from getting a blasting from coaches and team-mates alike.

Ferguson and his staff expected their players to solve problems by themselves on the pitch, especially when there were not many stoppages in play.

But that did not work out well for Ince, now Reading manager, who was incredibly superstitious – and was often preoccupied when Fergie delivered his final pre-match instructions.

Ince’s fellow Red Devils star Brian McClair revealed on his new Life With Brian podcast what usually happened as a result.

Discussing sports stars having to think on their feet and figure problems out, McClair, 59, explained to boxer Anthony Crolla: “Sometimes the information had already been imparted and it was down to the ones who could remember to remind the ones whose concentration and memory wasn’t so good.

“For example when Paul Ince was playing in the team, Paul would spend more time trying to be the last player to leave the dressing room and the last player to walk on to the pitch.

“He wouldn’t put his strip on until he got into the tunnel.

“This was his whole focus.


“The last thing the manager would say before we left the dressing room was one last look at the graphics regarding defending set pieces.

“And you could almost guarantee every single game, we’d lose a corner early on and there would be a f***ing mess-up in the box and guaranteed that mess-up was because Incey wasn’t where he was supposed to be.”

McClair joined United from Celtic in 1987 and was part of four Premier League-winning squads before returning to his first professional club Motherwell for a final swansong in 1998.

He continued: “I always paid attention, it wasn’t that difficult.

“It was always, ‘Where the f***ing hell was that?’

“‘Incey that’s your f***ing man.’

“‘No it’s not my f***ing man, it’s your f***ing man.’

“And then there would be an argument about it and next time it would be, ‘Just you just f***ing mark!’ whether it was me, Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce or someone else in the team.

“We were all encouraged that the information was there and you couldn’t continue to let it happen.

“Paul ended up marking no one – he couldn’t remember or pay enough attention because he was too busy trying to be the last man on the pitch.”

News Group Newspapers LtdBrian McClair now has his own podcast and revealed the story[/caption]

ReutersSir Alex Ferguson made sure his players knew when he wasn’t happy[/caption]