Paul Ince recalls how he learned of Man United exit ahead of Old Trafford return

Paul Ince recalls Manchester United exit.

Reading manager Paul Ince has been recalling his 1995 exit from Man United, as he prepares to take his team to Old Trafford for an FA Cup fourth round meeting.

Ince was one of the best midfielders in the Premier League at the time, and when United accepted an offer from Inter Milan to take him to Italy, it took him by surprise.

Self-proclaimed as ‘The Guv’nor’ during his playing career, Ince and then-United boss Alex Ferguson had a famously tetchy relationship, with Ferguson once labelling the player a ‘big-time Charlie’.

Ahead of Reading’s clash with Erik ten Hag’s side, Ince has been speaking about how Ferguson broke the news that United had decided to cash in.

Paul Ince on meeting with Alex Ferguson.

“We’d lost to Everton in the FA Cup Final, and the week before that we lost the Premier League,” the 55-year-old tells ITV. “I was playing golf with Giggsy [Ryan Giggs] and Sir Alex rang and said he needed to see me.

“I said ‘okay, I’ll see you tomorrow in the office,’ and he said ‘no, I need to see you now’, which I wasn’t best-pleased about because I was one-up at the time and we only had two holes to go, so I wasn’t that happy.

“So I went to see him in the car downstairs by the clubhouse and he said ‘we’ve had an offer from Inter Milan for £7.5 million and we’ve accepted it. We’ve got a new training ground coming up, we’ve got Nicky Butt coming through the ranks,’ so that was it.”

“I wanted to sign a new contract.”

The current Royals boss arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 1989, and he goes on to reveal that he had been hoping to reach a decade in the Red Devils shirt.

“To be fair, I had been thinking about signing another four-year contract,” Ince continues. “I was in negotiations. Get your testimonial, big thing at the time, having 10 years at a football club, especially at a club like Manchester United.

“So, yeah, it was a bit of a shock. I hadn’t reached my peak yet. But it’s probably the best thing I ever did to be fair, going and playing at Inter Milan.

“Learning a new language, a different culture. Serie A was the best league in the world at the time. Baggio, Batistuta, Maldini, Carlos, I could go on.  To experience that was phenomenal.”

“I didn’t want to leave Man United.”

The arrival of his son Tom, who now plays for him at Reading, was part of the reason that Ince didn’t want to move his family away from Manchester.

“No. Why would I?,” he responds, when asked if he wanted to leave Old Trafford. “I just had Thomas. He was only two at the time. We had just talked about nurseries for him and everything was sorted. As far as we were concerned as a family, we were there for the next four years.

“If a club doesn’t want you… you need to feel wanted. At the time, I didn’t feel wanted but I understood and respected the decision. If the manager doesn’t want you at the club, that’s fair enough. You move on.”

Paul Ince returns.

After two seasons playing for Roy Hodgson at Inter, Ince moved back to England’s north-west to play for United’s arch-rivals Liverpool.

This is part of the reason why he isn’t remembered too fondly by some United supporters, although there are others who will be happy to give him some warm applause when he walks down the touchline at Old Trafford on Saturday night.

Overall, Ince played 281 times for United, scoring 28 goals, and played his part in the club winning two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, a League Cup and a European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Man United v Reading will be broadcast live on ITV4 in Ireland. Kick-off time and details on where to access the channel can be found here.

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