“Hiding your inadequacy behind a genuine problem just undermines the genuine problem.” – Hayden Shaw 25/09/2011
Today on Goals on Sunday the guests were Sol Campbell and Paul Ince, and whilst Sol clearly had a bet with mates about how much of the Hokey Cokey he could get into the show, “That’s what it’s all about” his only audible contribution, it was left to Paul Ince to take a just cause and thoroughly undermine it by applying it his own circumstances.
Racism is wrong. No questions asked. There is no room for discriminating against somebody because of the colour of their skin in this country, or any other country. Likewise there is no place for discrimination in Football. Equality is one of the most important concepts imaginable.
However, whilst everyone should be born equal, we all have different talents. In Paul Ince’s case he was a brilliant blood and thunder midfielder at his peak. He made a fine playing career out of this. He was more talented than a huge number of players both black and white and as a result of this he made it in the game, he was the first Black player to captain England, amongst other accolades and I genuinely can’t think of any playing opportunities that he missed out on as a result of his skin colour. Whilst he was a fan favourite because of his combative style he was hardly robbed of a Ballon d’Or because Gabriel Hanot is a closet Republican with a sofa on his front lawn and a deep routed attraction to his cousin.
I haven’t ever been the victim of racism, and so I cannot comment on how it feels, and I’m sure Ince will be able to point to examples of racist abuse received at grounds during his career, something that has thankfully been stamped out in this country and should be dealt with far more harshly in others in my opinion. Yes YOU Spain, Italy and Russia.
But the fact that Ince is aware of it, and must know how awful a thing it is makes it all the more unfathomable that he can so shamelessly play the race card to give reasons for himself and of all fucking people JOHN BARNES not having top jobs in football management. Paul Ince and John Barnes not having great managerial careers because of racism is like me not having a MOBO award because I’m white. I don’t have a MOBO award because I can’t sing, can only clap along to really, really simple tunes and don’t play any instruments.
Because of how sensitive a subject racism is, it feels like very dodgy ground to even be going here, but I feel genuinely angry that Paul Ince is undermining a genuine issue, because he is. The fact that we are able to say “no mate, you haven’t got a job because you’re shit, that’s not racism” means that we are already subconsciously dismissing the possibility that there is racism at the route of less opportunities for managers. Surely a coach or a player who has felt unable to progress would be a better man to speak up against this issue? Considering the anti-racism sentiment in this country and the fact that every media source and outlet would gladly cover any interview providing even a snippet of controversy and righteous indignation, it doesn’t need to be somebody as recognisable as Ince to carry the story forward, it would be picked up and the media would milk it for everything that they could.
This is a link to a piece by A.D. Winn or @adwinn if you’re on twitter http://thelump.net/2008/12/21/tu04/ and it was written at the time of Paul Ince’s sacking from Blackburn. It’s worth a read and covers his career up until that point; I’m going to poach a couple of snippets from it just to give you an idea about the opportunities that Ince has received…
“Ince’s managerial career only started in late October 2006, as he took over a Macclesfield side bereft of ideas, luck, hope, and more importantly, points. After ensuring their league safety the following May, he left, and joined MK Dons a month later, guiding them to a promotion, a League title and League Trophy in his first season. As his 1 year anniversary approached, he left to take over the vacancy at Blackburn, despite many thinking he just wasn’t ready.”
Paul Ince stopped playing professional football in 2006, completed his coaching badges with Swindon and immediately walked into a job with Macclesfield. He did pretty well; he kept them up, which was the job description at the time. He then had a good first full season with MK Dons and won himself a trophy, at this point Ince didn’t feel it necessary to continue with further coaching qualifications, UEFA Pro Licences etc. Then he went straight into a job in the Premier League.
With ONE season of experience Paul Ince became a Premier League manager. There are managers who have been operating in the lower leagues for more than a decade without getting that opportunity. Now it’s possible that Blackburn Rovers did a telephone interview with Paul Ince and employed him without actually realising he was black, in much the same was as Jack Leslie was called up to the England squad in the 1920’s (Leslie had been informed by his manager Bob Jack that he had been selected to play for England. He later received communication cancelling his call up to the England team stating that they didn’t realise he was ‘a man of colour’.) and then realising their error decided to force him out of the club. However I doubt that’s what happened. In fact I’m more inclined to believe that despite giving Ince £10m to spend when finances were far from free flowing, Blackburn gave him every chance to try and make a success of himself, after all his success would be their success, but after 3 wins in 17 games had very little choice but to break things off with Ince and do what they should have done in the first place and appoint a manager with some experience.
Ince returned to MK Dons, left with a less than awful 23 wins from 56 games, and then went to Notts County where he lost 9 games in a row and left by a very generous mutual consent (I’d have sacked him myself).
So, for me, race has absolutely nothing to do with Paul Ince’s failings. But to further the point, why not have a very, very brief look at the other manager that he chose to mention – JOHN FUCKING BARNES! To summarise he utterly fucked up the Celtic job (getting one of the top two jobs in an entire country when you’ve got no experience is pretty generous on the part of Celtic’s board), helping the Sun’s headline writers to their finest hour with “Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious”, and then made a total fist of the Tranmere job – winning 2 out of 11 league games.
Racism still exists in the World, of that there can be no denial, but it hasn’t prevented Paul Ince from being a good manager, and unless he realises that very soon, faces up to his own shortcomings and starts doing something about them, he’s never going to be a good manager. The more he blames other people, the more bitter he’s going to become, with the irony being that plenty of people have already given Ince chances to win them over, and he has, over the course of his managerial career failed to do that. Ince could be a fantastic ambassador for the Kick Racism Out of Football campaign, he really could, just as Christiano Ronaldo could use his fame and his standing in the game to combat Worldwide poverty and slavery, but to apply these problems to themselves simply belittles the issues and makes them both look rather silly.