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Oct 3, 2008

Ince relishing Fergie reunion

Blackburn Rovers boss Paul Ince can't wait to battle with the man he rates as the best manager in the history of the game when he faces Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United on Saturday. Ince played under Ferguson at Old Trafford, before being sold to Inter, and is the latest of his alumni to join the ranks of Premier League management, joining Mark Hughes, Steve Bruce and Roy Keane as well as the likes of Steve McClaren and Brian Robson, who went on to coach in the top flight after working for the Scot.

Although Ince is delighted with his links to Ferguson the ex-England midfielder wants to forge his own identity as a manager and a good result in Saturday's evening kick-off against last season's double winners - a fixture that highlights Ince's remarkable rise from League Two side Macclesfield to the Premier League via MK Dons - could help do just that.

"I've only been in management 18 months to two years and it takes time to find your own identity as a manager," Ince said. "One thing Ferguson did teach me was to have high standards on and off the pitch which I try to implement in every job I do.

"It's never a good time to play the European champions and the Premier League champions. I'm under no illusions. It'll be a really, really hard game for us. We know that.

"But why not [win]? Look at Arsenal's result against Hull last week, it's got to be the yardstick for clubs like Blackburn."

"This is the exciting thing about coming to the Premier League. It's a chance to pit yourself against the best manager of all time, as far as I'm concerned.

"Fergie has such high standards. I played under a lot of managers but they don't come close. That is no disrespect to them because I don't think anybody does."

Former England captain Ince long hoped to have a future on the touchline and he predicted that Ferguson's days of meeting former players may continue for some time to come.

He expects the likes of Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand to join the next generation of top British managers.

Ince said: "I spoke to Giggsy the other day. He's taking his coaching badges and he wants to get involved too.

"Once you get past 30 you do start to think, 'What am I going to do in three, four, five years?'

"It's the same with Robbie Fowler, he's doing his badges here with me because he's thinking that way and I'm sure the likes of Rio will think the same."

Ferguson's side could be without Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick on Saturday but Ince insists the sheer depth of the Red Devils' squad means there is no such thing as a weak Manchester United.

"The injuries don't matter, they have a fantastic squad, not just 11 players. Anderson or Darren Fletcher could come in, Giggsy could start, so we're still talking about world-class players. Then there's (Dimitar) Berbatov and (Carlos) Tevez up front. No matter who they field it will be a huge, huge battle."

United boss Ferguson is also looking forward to the battle with his old midfielder and said: "I have been impressed with Paul. He was a player who was always determined and a stubborn lad.

"He was a fighter on the pitch and I think he's taken those qualities into management. They are good qualities to have, that determination to do well and I'm not surprised he's doing well."

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