Bruce gunning for Ince with sights on cup run

08 January 2011 10:06
STEVE BRUCE is thinking about ducking for cover when Paul Ince heads for Wearside today in case his former Manchester United team-mate pulls out a gun.

Ince, the Notts County manager travelling to the Stadium of Light for an FA Cup third round tie, was never afraid to take on anyone during his playing days. And that extended to Sir Alex Ferguson.

The last few years of Bruce's time at Old Trafford were spent with the former England midfielder.

But while the Sunderland boss would look on from defence as Ince would regularly charge full-blooded into a tackle, he recalls the day that the over-confident young man from Ilford decided to take on the man they all feared.

I don't think Fergie was ever attacked by a rifle before, but I rem e m b e r when Paul Ince was younger, he brought his gun in to shoot him,

said Bruce.

He poked it round the door, it was a big air rifle thing.

F e r g i e must have shouted at him or something.

P a u l was larger than life and a good c h a r a c t e r to have around. He must have something about him to threaten Fergie with a gun. We saw him do it, poke the gun through the door. He was only 21 or 22 at the time.

It was just tongue in cheek, he just knocked on his door and said something like you'd better stop picking on me or you'd better play me on Saturday'.

Bruce was a major influence in the United team when Ince infamously signed for them for £1m from West Ham, weeks after he had been pictured in a Red Devils shirt.

He was vilified by the Hammers fans, who booed him for years to come.

Bruce said: He was a bit mad when he was younger. He liked to think he was the Guv'nor.

It just showed you how much front and bottle he had to be called the Guv'nor even when he walked in the door.

He was a hell of a player. He's had a great career.

I just thought who's this cocky little thing from West Ham'

But when you're cocky like him you have to be able to back it up and by God he was a good player.

He's mellowed and matured since he became a dad.

He just carries a pistol now rather than a rifle, I would have thought. He'll be going g r e y around the gills now and he won't like that but he's a good lad.

To have him and Roy Keane in front of me in their prime, and that was some comb i n a t i o n , with And r e i K a n c h e l - skis and R y a n Giggs, then H u g h e s and Cantona up front. That was some team I can tell you, it could do e v e r y - thing.

B r u c e ' s memories of Ince were outlined on the same day as Keane lost his job at Ipswich Town.

Keane, who left Sunderland towards the back end of 2008, has paid the price for failing to deliver promotion.

Bruce said: It's sad to see Roy go, you don't want people to lose their jobs. He lives and breathes football and football's a better place when he's in it, you always want to hear what he says.

It's the worst thing in the world when you are sacked, like I was at Huddersfield.

I went reclusive, I was labouring on my house getting the pie and chips in and knocked a few walls down, saved myself £50 a day. It's awful.

But it is only Ince that Bruce will be thinking about today, as he plots a passage through to the fourth round with a squad riddled with injuries and suspensions.

When the FA Cup gets to the later stages it's great for any club, said Bruce.

I've said I'd love a cup run for the last few years. We're capable of winning five games. We'll put out a makeshift team and do our best to get through.

When I was at United we won the cup in 90 by not playing a top-flight team. It just shows you that you need a bit of luck. We're virtually down to the bare bones, no other defenders really, so we will need some.

Source: Northern_Echo