Reading Manager & ex-Manchester United legend Paul Ince spoke exclusively to Fair Betting Sites and is convinced that Jude Bellingham has the potential to be England’s next world class talent.
In his interview, the former England international also urged young English talent to seek moves abroad to guarantee first team football.
Ince is also convinced Man City forward Erling Haarland is ‘unstoppable like Messi’, praising the young Norwegian ahead of his first Manchester derby on Saturday.
If you would like to use any quotes, you must credit and link to https://www.fairbettingsites.co.uk as the original source. Here are the highlights of the interview.
Highlights Of The Interview
- Jude Bellingham has the potential to be England’s next world-class talent.
- Young English talent should seek moves abroad for first team football.
- Erling Haaland “Unstoppable like Messi”.
- My English World Cup starting XI
- Rashford has got his vibe back, thanks to Ten Hag.
Full transcript of the interview
Q: Who needs Bellingham more? Man United or Liverpool?
Paul Ince: I think the kid’s a very good player. I watched him when he was at Birmingham and I think it surprised a few when he went to Dortmund at such a young age. But, you know, he was brave enough to go out there. Some people don’t, especially English players who don’t like to go abroad.
We see it happening more recently than when I went out to Italy. But, for him to go to Dortmund and start every game and play the way he is playing it’s been great for him. Obviously, there’s a lot to talk about him coming back. You gotta be careful because obviously when Sancho came back from Dortmund, it didn’t happen for him straight away.
I think he should enjoy his football there for as long as possible, and enjoy playing regularly in the Champions League. If he wants to come back, then I’d think there’d be a few suitors after him – City, Chelsea, Liverpool, the lot; he’s got the potential to be a world class player for sure.
Liam: Do you think Bellingham should be looking at what happened with Sancho and be thinking about moving back to Premier League with caution?
Paul Ince: No I think if you look at Sancho now, I always kind of feel as a young kid, you’re still, you’re still learning about the game. Yeah, there was a lot of talk about Sancho in Germany, but you look at the Bundesliga compared to the Premier League, it’s very different when you’re playing for a team like Dortmund. Unless you’re playing against Bayern Munich or Leipzig, most teams are beaten quite comfortably.
To then come to Man United, a team that wasn’t functioning properly, there were obviously a few issues that were coming out from the club at the time, so it was a difficult time to try and settle in at Old Trafford.
He’s now learning and growing into it – it’s like anything for young kids, it takes time. It really does. I went to United at 22 and I needed a year or so just to understand what Man United means and when it’s all about.
Things like how you have to perform week in week out, conduct yourself and train all the time. I think it just takes time to understand the normality of a club like United – some people do, some people don’t. Sancho could be a great acquisition for them, and I think Belligham’s case is completely different if he were to join.
I think it’s a case of getting the World Cup out of the way first and go from there.
Liam: If you were his manager, Paul, right now would you just say “ keep doing what you’re doing?”
Paul Ince: I think this if you’re still young, just keep going. I said the same about Declan Rice last year when Chelsea came after him. You’ve got plenty of time to make these big moves.
Get your game time, learn from your senior players, and I think that’s what Jude should do. It’s always tough when the big clubs come calling. But, you know, it looks like to me that he’s enjoying his time at Dortmund
Why would he wanna move now? We know eventually he’s gonna come back to England. It’s just a case of which club feel they can get the best out of him when he does come back.
Liam: What do you think the ceiling is for him? Do you think he’s England’s next world class talent?
Paul Ince: I think we’ve got a lot of players who could potentially be world class players. We’ve got Harry Kane, he’s world class, Phil Folden for me, he’s gonna turn into a world class player. Declan Rice, he’s probably another one that you’d probably look at and think, yeah, if he continues to listen and learn and improve and do things the right way, then he’s another one who could be potentially a world class player.
Liam: His move to Dortmund really seems to have progressed him. Is that something that you think more young players should be doing? Maybe looking at some of the middle, higher end, German sides to get a little more game time in?
Paul Ince: I think it’s great. I think we’re seeing more of it now than we have done previously. In my time I think it was different because going over to Italy, you HAD to speak Italian – none of the players spoke English, so there was a language issue straight away.
Nowadays clubs are so cosmopolitan, you know, they have players from all over the world and the majority of them speak English, so it’s a lot easier for young players to go over to these clubs and fit in straight away because they can speak English, which means they can communicate much easier.
I like it though – we see too many of these academies have thousands and thousands of kids, you know what I mean? Often they are playing in the U23s or playing in the U21s and none of them really want to go out and experience the real life of football.
It’s brave. It’s brave to go and do it. And it just seems like it improves the player as a whole immensely.
Liam: Moving on to Harry Maguire and his recent performances for England. If you were manager of England right now, what would you be saying to Maguire to lift his confidence?
Paul Ince: I think Harry Maguire has been very good for England in the past. It’s difficult because the situation at the moment is he’s not playing for Manchester United, so he lacks that match-fit sharpness.
I think it’s tough because people are making him a scapegoat at the moment. We had the same situation with Raheem Sterling In the Euros. Now, some fans have moved on to Maguire, but you know, it’s nice as a player. I think it’s a case of, he’s going to be a little bit down cause he is not playing United – last year he was captaining the team week in, week out.
All he can do is fight, fight his way back in it. You have to fight to get your place. But one thing he does have is the confidence of Gareth, and Southgate’s always picked him, and I believe he will continue to. He should find a lot of confidence in that and now he’s gotta try and fight his way back into the United team before the World Cup starts.
We’ve got players who are not playing for their club at the moment and could probably spend the next four or five weeks not playing yet, go straight into a World Cup, which is always gonna be a bit of concern.
I think fortunately for us, not being disrespectful, you look at Iran and the United States, you can kind of get your fitness back in those games before you go for the challenging games in the last 16 or quarters.
As a player, I think when you lose, we all lose confidence. There’s not one player that I know who’s never lost his confidence and you have to battle your way through it. You have to come out on top. You gotta be mentally tough, you can’t let it affect you because you have to move on eventually.
But yeah it’s been a harsh period for him, I don’t like to see it. I don’t like to see our fans booing our own players, it’s not nice for him.
He’s gotta try and get back in the United first team, and hopefully then go on to play for England at the World Cup.
Liam: A player in the opposite position, Trent Alexander Arnold, he’s playing for Liverpool week in, week out. He wasn’t picked against Germany – would you have left Trent out of the squad?
Paul Ince: I think we’re kind of blessed. If Gareth wants to go with three at the back, he doesn’t see Trent as THE right wing back in the system that’s for sure. Think about Trippier, I think about Walker, we’ve got some really good full-backs in there.
It would be surprising if he didn’t go to the World Cup. This time last year, his form was sublime, and obviously Liverpool haven’t really started how they would’ve liked.
He’s probably not been noticed as much as he was last year when they were chasing City for the title. I think when you’re blessed with so many top full-backs, someone has to miss out. At least he is getting games, getting Champions League football and he is playing week in, week out.
Liam: What’s your definitive starting eleven for the World Cup?
Oh wow. Well, Pickford would have to be in goal. Probably Walker, Stones, Maguire, Chilwell, Rice, Bellingham, Grealish, Foden, Sterling, Kane.
Liam: No Saka?
Paul Ince: He’s a very talented player, I just think the good thing about England at this moment, they’ve got, plenty of strength in depth, plenty of top, top players, Saka being one of them.
Sometimes it’s hard to choose a team when you’ve got so many very good players. But I think for the starting game, that would be my first eleven. It’s a good problem to have as well and off the bench, he did really well the other night along with Mount, so yeah, there’s many paths he can take.
Liam: What do you make of the Ivan Toney situation?
Paul Ince: I think it’s one of those picks that’s included for now, but won’t feature in the final squad. I think people obviously say, “what’s the point of taking them?”
When I used to play for England the manager would pick a player in good form to see how they would deal with the level in training, but not necessarily to play, just to be a part of it.
Ivan Toney has been brilliant this year and last year, but if he’s not involved in the game, are you gonna select him for the World Cup, you know? So all he can do in the next six weeks is just try and maintain his form.
Liam: We haven’t seen Tammy Abraham, he’s been doing well at Roma. If Harry was to get injured, who’s the next one on the conveyor belt?
Paul Ince: We don’t really know at this moment in time – I would like to see Toney get at least 15, 20, 30 minutes. He’s a different prospect as well, isn’t he? He brings a completely different dimension to the set up.
Unfortunately, we haven’t got to see that, but that’s the manager’s choice, not mine.
Liam: What do you think of English chances of making the World Cup final?
Paul Ince: It’s gonna be tough, as an Englishman, I’d love to say, yeah, we’re gonna go all the way.
There’s some very, very good teams this year. I watched France play the other night. They got beat by Denmark, but not long before that they were very good. There’s some very, very top quality teams in there. I do expect us to breeze through the group stages, I really do.
I think we have the chance of playing the French in the Round of 16 or potentially the quarter-final, so that’s a huge test if we make it that far.
The team’s not playing with full of confidence at the moment, especially the Germany game the other night, especially after the second goal on, in from arts. But they showed the desire and ability to get back into the game, it was great to see and it lifted the crowd.
But you can’t keep going two-nil down to good teams like Germany, France and Spain. You won’t get away with it. There was some positive activity last night at the end of the game. Obviously we conceded three goals, but we also scored three great goals.
Going into a World Cup, it’s a completely different mindset. Everything that’s gone on beforehand, Nation’s League or whatever it may be, this is the business part and the mindset changers. It really, really does.
We have some truly world class players – one of the best strikers in the world, two of the most exciting young talents in Bellingham and Foden. We’ve got a very good chance, but we’ve got some tough games to get through if we’re gonna win the World Cup.
Liam: What are your predictions for the two World Cup finalists?
Paul Ince: I’m probably going to say France, and Brazil.
Liam: Do you think England’s recent form matters when going into this World Cup? Do you think about it that much as a player or does it go out the window when it gets the World Cup?
This year is a strange one, because it is in the middle of the season. So players are entering in different mentalities, and attitudes as opposed to being title winners, relegation candidates etc.
I would be lacking a bit of confidence after getting beaten 4-0 by Hungary and 1-0 against Italy – you have to look at your performance.
Once you get there though, and take part in your first training session and build up to the first game, it’s just a completely different feeling. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a completely different feeling.So what’s gone on before, is gone. It doesn’t matter. It’s what we do now that matters.
Liam: What do you think of the Nations League? Do you think it has merit?
I love it, I really do. I Used to hate playing friendlies for England. We were never competitive. When you had a friendly, they weren’t competitive and sometimes England would be playing a friendly against a lesser team where they can go in four or five nil.
For me, there was just no point to it, you know? And I love what UEFA have done with this. I love the way that we’re now seeing big, big games. For example, the game against Germany – these are games that you only normally see when you arrive in a World Cup finals.
Now we are seeing them more often and I think it is definitely competitive. There is a meaning to the end of it – it’s not just a league where there’s no merit at the finale, there’s something you get rewarded with. So, I’m more into this competitive football than having to play friendlies with score lines like 7 or 8 nil.
Liam: Yeah definitely, when you hear England getting relegated, it’s such a weird thing. It puts a lot more emphasis on trying to do better. Going from losing to Italy and then drawing 3-3 with Germany, there’s obviously a reaction there.
Paul Ince: When you look at that group, Germany, Italy, you’ve probably expected Hungary to be the underdogs but they’ve been dark horses.
It’s disappointing, but the point of matter is, everything’s competitive and there’s something to play for, and that’s never been the case when you play friendlies.
Liam: Do you think Gareth Southgate has done a good job with the squad selection over the Nation League game? Or do you think he’s missed the boat a bit?
Paul Ince: I think it’s tough as a manager – as I said, I’m in the same seat now as Gareth at the moment.
As a team, we need to find out how we are gonna play? You know, what is our identity? Are we gonna play counter attacking football? Like we saw at times against Germany. Or are we gonna go on the front foot?
By deciding what type of team you are, you can then pick your personnel based on that. I think when you are picking teams, everyone’s got their own opinion.
Everyone has an opinion, ‘he should be in the squad, he should be playing. Why is he not on the squad?’ Everyone’s an England manager.
It’s hard because when you have so many players at your disposal, so many top class players playing in the Premier League, it becomes tougher and tougher. The thing Gareth would be worried about now is picking the right players and the right personnel for the first game against Iran. That’s all that matters now, we have to move on.
He himself will be thinking deeply about the right squad right now – who am I gonna take? Who am I not gonna take? These are all incredibly tough decisions that he has to make. I would hate to be in that position – I would not like to tell someone that he’s not going to make it.
Liam: Are there any exclusions that have shocked you?
Paul Ince: It’s so tough because if you ask this in six months time when the Premier League’s finished, I could tell you. We’re actually only about two months into the league.
Trent not being in there is an obvious one – I’d like to have seen Toney take some part in the games.
I think Gareth would probably know 95% of the squad that he’s taking to Qatar. It’s just sitting down with Steve Holland and the staff and deciding who the other 5% are gonna be.
Liam; October’s gonna be crazy with the amount of games. I’d imagine there’s gonna be an injury in there somewhere.
Paul Ince: I think as a player it’s always kind of tricky. You’re kind of half playing for your club and obviously that’s your priority. They pay your wages, but you’re also half thinking, don’t get injured. Don’t get injured, you know, you subconsciously have that in the back of your mind.
When I was going to France 98 that, yeah, I still played the way I normally play, but I was praying to God, ‘please don’t get injured.’
So you could be sitting here now as England manager thinking, right, this is my squad. I’ve settled on that. And then three, four weeks down the line, you got two or three, four injuries, which changes your whole planning.
Liam: What about Kalvin Phillips, would you take him to the World Cup?
Paul Ince: If he’s fit – I think he’d be disappointed to not be involved because of injury. I think when he first started playing for England, his performances were very, very good.
You don’t go to Man City if you’re not a top class player. It’s just a case of how long this injury is gonna be? When’s he gonna be back training, when’s gonna be back fit? You know, you also gotta think you’ve got Rice there, you’ve got Bellingham there, you’ve got Henderson coming back in now.
It’s just a case of how soon he can return to full fitness, but he is an incredibly talented player that’s for sure.
Liam: If you were in the manager’s seat, would you now switch back to a back four, or would you stick with a back three with what we’ve got at our disposal?
Paul Ince: I think it’s got to be horses for courses. For example, I play a back three for Reading which has served us okay this season. If I felt there’d be an advantage for us to play a back four against the opposition, then I’d do it.
You have to have players in your squad who can be flexible, who can adapt to a new system. We’ve seen the three work. Southgate at Euro ’96 played in a three. So a lot of teams are playing three at the back, especially in the championship.
The most important thing is you have to be quite diverse and you have to be willing to change formations in the game depending how the game’s going.
Liam: Do you think Manchester United, with their very late transfer business, will get top four this season?
Paul Ince: There’s a lot of top teams in the league. What we’re hopefully seeing is a turnaround now.
Ten Hag has just walked through the door, but they look a lot better than they have been. He’s brought some good players in. Those players need to settle but they’ve got some very good results and have started the Premier League very well.
I think they’ll be up there, I think they’ll be challenging and that’s what United fans want, That’s what fans expect – one of the biggest teams in the world to be changing for the Champions League. So yeah, I’d expect them to be up there.
Liam: Who do you think, with the new recruits that have come in, is Man United’s best midfield?
Paul Ince: Casemiro is a massive bit of business, Eriksen has come to United and fit like a glove.
They give them something completely different and all you’re hoping is that those two players have an influence on the likes of McTominay and Fred. Bringing in top players like that, I think it’s important to see the club going forward.
I still think McTominay is a very good player – I think he will get better playing alongside Casemiro and Eriksen which provides a good balance. Premier League teams have gotten so big, they can mix and match with their line-ups and formations, and this midfield has so much depth.
I like the business that United have done and because of Liverpool and Chelsea’s slow start, they have a shot at the Champions League. This has always been a project for Ten Hag and I think to be successful, you just can’t keep sacking managers.
Liam: Do you think there’s a midfield player in the summer transfer window that they missed out or they should have brought in?
Paul Ince: We find out that from these big clubs, if they want someone, nine times out of 10, they normally get them. There were no warning signs of signing the likes of Bellingham, but you can’t just rush into things – you gotta take your time and you’ve gotta be given time. As long as Ten Hag is given time, he will be able to pick the ones that he requires.
Liam: Moving on to Ronaldo, do you think it was a mistake for Man United to keep him at the club?
Paul Ince: No, not all. Ronaldo is a serial winner and one of the greatest players ever to play football. He undoubtedly has an influence on the pitch. It is easy to forget last year he got 18 goals. Without those goals, where would United have been?
Those types of players don’t come along very easily. I understand he wants to play football, I get that, and he will get games. I think he just has to be patient and his time will come – it is important to keep your best players and Ronaldo is definitely a world class player, even at his age.
Liam: What do you make of the Glazers? Do you think the fans should continue to protest the ownership of the club?
Paul Ince: I don’t really get involved in that type of stuff. As a manager, you know, all you do is you talk about football and you worry about football. It isn’t for me to say what the fans should do or fans shouldn’t do. All you want your supporters or your fans to do is to support the team.
I can certainly see the reason behind it, but sometimes it can be a distraction to the team. For me, you know, as a manager, you never talk about the owners, and I’m sure Ten Hag will be thinking the same.
Liam: I’d like to talk about Rashford – do you think that this season is make or break? Do you think he might need to leave to get some more game time? And what do you think his future looks like?
Paul Ince: When he came on the scene, you thought, “wow, this kid’s amazing, special”. He still is, but has been plagued with a few injuries. He’s had few knock backs when he’s lost a little bit of confidence. The arrival of a new manager has given him a lift, and it looks like he has that confidence back the way he is playing.
He’s got his vibe back, and he definitely has the potential to be a world class player.
Liam: What would your advice be for Ten Hag for his first Manchester Derby?
Paul Ince: Manchester Derby time. Enjoy it. As I said, United are in a good place, the players are playing well. When it comes to Derby games, plans just go out the window.
It’s not about who’s first, who second, who’s fifth, who’s last. It’s a one off, and anything can happen. When you’re world class or top class manager, like he is when, he left Ajax to experience these games.
To be part of these types of games every week against one of the greatest coaches in the world in Pep. That’s why he left Ajax. But you’ve got to enjoy it, because they’re the moments you want to experience as a manager.
Liam: How would you contain Erling Haaland?
Paul Ince: You’ve just got to hope and pray he has an off day. You have some players and study them and study them, ‘I think we need to do this, we need to do that.’ But then some players are simply unstoppable.
For example, when you watch Messi, and he gets it on his left foot, you know what comes next. You just can’t stop it because he’s that good. This is the same with Haaland – his movement is fantastic. If he gets a chance nine times out of ten he’s gonna finish it.
You just hope that he won’t get too many chances. I think also, as a manager you wanna put your own stamp on it. You know, you can’t spend most of the time worrying about their players.
You’ve gotta worry about what we do as a team. And yes, we know the dangers, but you know, we have to implement our style and go there to get the result. But I’ve played enough to know they’re fantastic games with incredible atmospheres, so yeah, they’re great games to play in.
Liam: Just off the cuff, do you think Arsenal can win the league?
I just can’t see past City. I love what Arteta is doing, you know, I do, you know. They look to be improving year after year and he’s brought some really good players in. My boys are Arsenal fans, my two fans, so if they do, I’ll be getting it in the ear!
It’s fantastic to see them up there. There is a long way to go, it’ll be a good challenge against Tottenham who are also a very good side at the moment – it’ll be a good test.
Liam: Jurgen Klopp is seemingly under pressure in his press conferences – he is not the real bubbly Klopp that we know. What do you think has gone wrong?
Paul Ince: There’s so much pressure on managers, you know. We see managers lose their jobs after 10 games, everybody wants to win, but not everyone can win.
You look at what Klopp’s done the last five years at Liverpool, it’s been absolutely amazing.No one could have envisaged this when Klopp walked through the door.
The race between him and Pep was incredible – all our eyes were focused on that. So he has had some wonderful moments, some great, great moments. And at the moment, you know, it’s one of those where he has kind of lost his midfield, lost Mane, which for me is a big, big loss.
They’re probably going through a little transition at this moment in time – a lot of clubs do it, Fergie was a genius at it. Sometimes these things take time, but Klopp is a winner no doubt.
Liam: Would you have sold Mane?
Paul Ince: Sometimes when a player wants to leave the club, then it’s very hard to stand in his way. For me, Mane in that trio alongside Salah and Firmino was absolutely fantastic with Jota coming in rotation. They’ve brought in Nunez, and that takes time. Regardless, they will be up there, Liverpool, they are too good not to be up there. They need to get their players back in midfield because they have lost a few, and there’s a little period of change happening at the moment.
Liam: Here’s an easy one, who would you prefer, Nunez or Haaland?
I’ll take both of them to be honest!
I think Haaland’s incredible. I think to get him at the price they paid for him was, great bit of business. I really, really do. He’s probably a world class player already and at such a young age.
Nunez will take a little bit of time – it didn’t really help when he got sent off against Palace, that kind of stopped his progression in playing week in, week out for Liverpool particularly after scoring against Fulham.
He is still young and it’s a massive change for him. But, yeah, I think you have to take Haaland all day long.
Liam: Going back to Trent, do you think his lapse in form and lack of assists this season is a bit of a worry for him, especially with the World Cup coming up?
Paul Ince: No, no. For me, I mean, every player goes through different patches of form. I had plenty, but when you look at his quality, you know, no one can put crosses in like he does, he’s from a different planet.
Just because Liverpool are out of form that doesn’t necessarily mean Trent is out of form. No one’s mentioned Van Dijk or anyone else. Liverpool had a slow start and that’s all it is – these players are world class players
I’ve always liked Trent, I think he’s a wonderful, wonderful player. He gives England something that they don’t have. No one can put balls into the box like he does. It’s a long season, anything can happen and as I said, Liverpool will be up there, in my opinion anyway.
Liam: How bad would results have to get for Liverpool for Klopp to start worrying about his job, or do you think that they should stick with him through the hard times? If Liverpool were in the bottom half of the table at Christmas, is that bad enough?
Paul Ince: Klopp is a world class manager. For me, you don’t sack world class managers.
I think Klopp will decide when he wants to leave. He’s earned that right in what he has given Liverpool in terms of football and as a city. I hate it when people try to say ‘if he keeps losing his job might be in trouble’, it winds me up big time.
World class managers, people like Pep, they decide when to move on to different adventures.
Liam: I want to ask you about Reading – what do you think has been your biggest challenge since taking the role?
Paul Ince: Obviously we’ve got this embargo – it’s been a tough transfer window. Cause all we can do is get loanees or free transfers. You know, we haven’t been fishing from the same river or shopping from the same shops like the rest of the rest of the championship teams.
That’s been tough because, you know, a lot of the targets that you look at, they want to come but then are being snapped up by clubs who have got more money than us.
I do enjoy the challenge of putting a team together that way, we have got a great spirit, good players, great togetherness, no bad eggs.
It’s a great place to be at, and when you’ve got that feeling where you wanna come into work every day and work with these players. They do their work to the best they possibly can, and then they come back in, they do it day after day and, you know, go out on a Saturday or midweek and give you everything they’ve got.
As a manager, that’s all you can ask for. What we’re trying to build here, you know, it’s gonna take time because but we’ve got an owner who is very understanding.
Sir Alex Ferguson always said to me, if you are going to manage a football club, “make sure you pick the owner, not the football club”. I’ve been very fortunate that we’ve got an owner who lets us get on with it. We’ve also got Mark Bowes now who’s football director. So we have a great relationship. We understand where we are as a club this moment at time.
Most importantly, the fans understand it. The remit for this year has to be to stay in the league. Yes. We’ve had a good start. But yeah, the remit is stay in this league because then once the embargo is lifted, we can start planning for the future.
Liam: I think you had an amazing start – is it one of those things that you’re thinking potentially it could be Premier League in the future?
Paul Ince: I never have because I look at where we are. As I said, we have a small squads, so we lose two or three players to injury like we did at Blackpool and all of a sudden you start losing games. But the Championship’s so tough, it’s so hard.
Yeah, people get a bit excited when you start off well, so yeah, we’ve had a good start and you know, it’s been great, but the fans, the owner and the director know where we are at the moment in time.