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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Oct 3, 2008

Man United's Ferguson regrets Ince jibe

Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he made a mistake by labelling Paul Ince a 'Big-Time Charlie'.

The Manchester United manager famously made his declaration during a pre-match team-talk when Ince played for Liverpool.

Ferguson's dressing room comments, which were filmed by a TV crew making a United documentary, stuck and have proved difficult for Ince to shake off.

Now the United boss, who comes face-to-face with Ince's Blackburn side at Ewood Park tomorrow, accepts he should not have made them, or at least not allowed cameras into his inner sanctum and then distributed them to a wider audience.

"It was a mistake to call Paul a Big-Time Charlie,'' said Ferguson.

"We let the TV cameras into the dressing room but it won't happen again.''

Ferguson admits the comments were used by United fans to try to wind Ince up, although the Scot believes his former midfield player would have borne the brunt of their anger anyway.

He reasons any former United man willing to play for Liverpool, or the other way round for that matter, knows exactly what he is walking into.

"The fans did not like him because he joined Liverpool,'' Ferguson argued.

"It doesn't matter who the player is, if they go to Liverpool there is a different agenda altogether with our supporters.

"It would be the same the other way round.''

Given his comments, coupled with the acrimonious manner in which Ince appeared to leave Old Trafford in 1995 in a £7million move to Inter Milan, most pundits thought relations between the pair were strained. They were wrong.

Ince has called Ferguson frequently in the last few months for advice, even though, technically, they are rivals, with Blackburn boasting a higher league position than United heading into tomorrow's game.

"I had no problems with Paul and certainly not with his ego,'' said Ferguson.

"You could not have a honeymoon all the time with him because he was so volatile.

"But he was a good player and he never let us down.

"In the end we received an offer from Inter Milan that was too good to turn down given I had Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and David Beckham coming through.

"It was the same with Jaap Stam a couple of years later. It was not an easy one but it was a lot of money and I felt it was good business at the time.''

Ince is in good company as he takes his first steps as a Premier League boss, with Mark Hughes, Steve Bruce and Roy Keane from United's 1994 double-winning side at Manchester City, Wigan and Sunderland, respectively.

Bryan Robson has also had plenty of experience in the management game, although he has been out of work since leaving Sheffield United last year.

Paul Parker, Gary Pallister and Denis Irwin are now TV pundits, Andrei Kanchelskis appears on the Masters circuit from time-to-time, Lee Sharpe has been in various TV programmes, Eric Cantona continues to promote beach football, as well as acting appearances, while Ryan Giggs is still playing -- possibly starting tomorrow's game.

Only Peter Schmeichel has not chosen management out of those Ferguson thought would do so, although there is still time for the great Dane.

"There were some very strong characters in that team,'' he said.

"I thought Peter Schmeichel would have gone into management but he is not entirely out of it and I think he is the kind of person who could be attracted back in.

"The difficulty for Peter is he combines being in England to see his son Kasper at Manchester City with his TV work in Denmark.

"That kind of thing can be difficult.''

Not that Ferguson or Ince will be thinking about Schmeichel when battle commences tomorrow.

The United boss has some selection dilemmas, specifically around who will replace Paul Scholes and, probably, Wayne Rooney, while also deciding whether to keep faith with promising Brazilian teenager Rafael Da Silva in preference to Wes Brown if Gary Neville fails a fitness test.

"I gave Rafael a chance against Aalborg because the boy is an outstanding talent,'' said Ferguson.

"It was there for everyone to see. He is an attacking player who is positive and has great belief in himself.''

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