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Page last updated at 10:20 GMT, Saturday, 4 October 2008 11:20 UK

Ferguson apologises for Ince jibe

Venue: Ewood Park Date: Saturday, 4 October Kick-off: 1730 BST
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Sport website, BBC Radio Five Live, Final Score & highlights on Match of the Day

Sir Alex Ferguson and Paul Ince
Ferguson (left) concedes that, despite selling him, he rated Ince as a player

Sir Alex Ferguson admits he made a mistake by once labelling his former player Paul Ince a 'big-time Charlie'.

Manchester United boss Ferguson made the comment in 1998 when Ince played for Liverpool, who he joined from Inter Milan after six years at Old Trafford.

"I regret saying it," he said ahead of their first meeting as managers on Saturday. "It was a mistake."

Blackburn boss Ince left United acrimoniously but the pair now talk with Ferguson even offering advice.

Ferguson's comments from 10 years ago were made in a pre-match dressing room team-talk that was being filmed by a TV crew making a United documentary, and were soon picked up upon.

Now the United manager, who comes face to face with Ince's Blackburn side at Ewood Park on Saturday at 1730 BST, accepts he made an error - and that he never had a problem with the former England midfielder's abrasive personality.

Football Focus: Ince plays down Ferguson rift

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

"I had no problems with Paul and certainly not with his ego. 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."

Despite conceding he made a mistake over his labelling of Ince, Ferguson says the former midfielder received abuse from United fans purely because he signed for arch-rivals Liverpool.

"The fans did not like him because he joined Liverpool.

"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."


The relationship between Ferguson and Ince appears to have significantly thawed after the player left Old Trafford under a cloud when he made a £7m move to Inter Milan in 1995.

"When I go through bad situations I pick up the phone to Sir Alex and pick his brains," Ince revealed on Friday.

"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."

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see also
Blackburn v Man Utd
02 Oct 08 |  Premier League
How to watch Match of the Day
09 Aug 11 |  Match of the Day

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