Notts County

Notts County slideshow

Tom Ince exclusive: 'Leaving Liverpool, turning down Inter - I don't regret anything'

Tom Ince walked away from Liverpool, spurned Inter Milan and Monaco, felt he had outgrown England’s Under-21s and was a phone call away from returning to Anfield. Yet as he sits at Huddersfield’s training ground considering those tough choices one emotion stands out. Vindication. With opportunities to thrive at elite clubs restricted, Ince recognised England’s most highly-rated young players are in danger of forming a lost rather than golden generation. So he left Liverpool as a teenager, joining Blackpool in the Championship, believing he would work his way up after a perceived step down. “If you are a young player waiting for a chance at a top club, what do you do?” asks Ince. “Stay in the top facility, enjoying all the best travel, wearing all the best sports gear? “Or do you say I am going to be brave and step away even if that means going to League One or the Championship? “Harry Kane is the prime example. He went on loan, went back to Tottenham and the rest is history. Credit to him. When people saw him at Norwich or Leicester, who saw his next step? He backed himself and now people forget the doubts they might have had. I think more are seeing it that way. Look at Tammy Abraham and Nathaniel Chalobah. They have done the right thing for their career by leaving Chelsea. Harry Kane is now England's No 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES “My dream was to play at Anfield but I could not waste time feeling my way was blocked. You have to take decisions and do what is best for your career. I did not want to leave. I was training with the first team. But I needed to go and show what I was about. “I had been to Notts County on loan and that was the eye opener. It was League One, but it was the atmosphere and feeling of playing against grown men who are doing this because it is their life, to put food on the table. I was 18, playing in front of 10,000 or 15,000 who have paid to watch you. It was better than playing in front of 20 or 30 fans in a reserve game. There is no sense of reward, inspiration or even motivation if you do not have that game at 3pm on a Saturday to look forward to. I did not want to go back to that.” The debate about development football is particularly relevant at Huddersfield, where the club has scrapped academy age groups Under-16 to direct focus solely on raising the standards between Under-18 to 23 level. Ince knows from experience this is the problem area. “Reserve football is not what it used to be. It’s the young lads rather than older professionals coming back from injury or suspension. There used to be more competition to it,” says Ince. Tom Ince (left) playing for Derby County Credit: GETTY IMAGES “Young lads have to look at it and ask do I waste my time and hope, or do I take the initiative at 18 or 19 where I have to get experience because reserve team football does not prepare you for anything? You can play 100 reserve games and not have a clue what has hit you after one Championship game. If there is no entry into the first team, back yourself at a club where you will play and then you have plenty of time to get back to that highest level. The alternative is you will get to 23 or 24 and think ‘what was I doing all those years?’ “People always say ‘how can the FA help, how can the Premier League help’, but it comes down to the player. Do you back yourself to get to where you want to be in four years? Go and get first-team football at the highest level you can, open your eyes and make brave decisions. It might seem at first you are thinking ‘what am I doing here, giving up a position at an Academy at a big club where it is all rosy?’ But down the line you will get to where you want to be. It is a tough call, though.” Ince feels similarly about England. He was a regular for the Under-21s but felt selection as an over-age player in 2015 was counter-productive. He pulled out of that year’s Euro Championships. Tom Ince (right) with England U21s Credit: PA “You have the Under-21s and the bridge to the first team, but there is a limbo period with that next step,” he says. “You need to show you can do it at elite level. Germany and Spain are so good because it seems their whole system through the Under-17s to the senior side blends. England are trying that now, which is the right way. “At that time I had already been to two tournaments, was 23 - 18 months older than most of the group - and I felt I needed a summer break and to consider my next career move. I did not turn down my country - you think my dad would let me do that? I just felt stuck in that limbo where I had to progress to a higher level. “England’s Under-20s have done fantastic things but who is playing for their clubs? The England youth set-up has been really successful this year, but it must be frustrating for so many of those lads they are not getting regular football. A lot of them must be thinking ‘what do I do?’ You get success, you feel confident and you want more, but it is not easy. It does not just need bravery from the players, but managers. But managers are sceptical.” Tom Ince in action for Huddersfield Credit: ACTION IMAGES If there are regrets, it is that the chance to complete the circle and establish a Premier League role did not come sooner when Liverpool tried to re-sign Ince in 2013, and he also considers what might have been when Italy beckoned in 2014. “Liverpool was very close but the Blackpool chairman did not want to be out of pocket because Liverpool owned a percentage of the sell-on fee,” recalls Ince. “He made it difficult and they would not let me go. That was disappointing because I felt I would have been given a chance under Brendan Rodgers. “When Inter were interested in me I stood in the San Siro and the English boy inside me told me to go to the Premier League.” A move to Crystal Palace and Hull - when they were in the top flight - proved unsatisfactory. “I had a taste of the Premier League with six months at Crystal Palace but it did not work out. Tony Pulis played a different way and I did not suit it,” he says. “At Hull it was similar. I started the first few games but then the manager went a different way.” At Huddersfield, Ince has the chance he has worked for, with a manager he feels suited to his style. “David Wagner is unique. He is detailed and thorough and you see the Dortmund way in him,” says Ince. “He wants entertainment and excitement and players to enjoy the game and express themselves. It’s a fantastic atmosphere around the squad. We are here to prove ourselves. Our objective is to stay in the league. The Tottenham game was an eye opener but it shows the level we are at. But we will give it a go and maybe games like that we just have to take it and move on. We will hurt a lot of teams.” In a week when Gareth Southgate’s lack of options were again exposed, Ince says every English player in the Premier League has extra motivation in a World Cup season. “You always have to have that dream,” he said. “The Premier League gives you the profile. There are a lot of youngsters in our squad, not just me. We have Tommy Smith at full-back who can impress this season. Why shouldn’t we have the dream? It would be stupid not to.”

Tom Ince exclusive: 'Leaving Liverpool, turning down Inter - I don't regret anything'

Tom Ince walked away from Liverpool, spurned Inter Milan and Monaco, felt he had outgrown England’s Under-21s and was a phone call away from returning to Anfield. Yet as he sits at Huddersfield’s training ground considering those tough choices one emotion stands out. Vindication. With opportunities to thrive at elite clubs restricted, Ince recognised England’s most highly-rated young players are in danger of forming a lost rather than golden generation. So he left Liverpool as a teenager, joining Blackpool in the Championship, believing he would work his way up after a perceived step down. “If you are a young player waiting for a chance at a top club, what do you do?” asks Ince. “Stay in the top facility, enjoying all the best travel, wearing all the best sports gear? “Or do you say I am going to be brave and step away even if that means going to League One or the Championship? “Harry Kane is the prime example. He went on loan, went back to Tottenham and the rest is history. Credit to him. When people saw him at Norwich or Leicester, who saw his next step? He backed himself and now people forget the doubts they might have had. I think more are seeing it that way. Look at Tammy Abraham and Nathaniel Chalobah. They have done the right thing for their career by leaving Chelsea. Harry Kane is now England's No 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES “My dream was to play at Anfield but I could not waste time feeling my way was blocked. You have to take decisions and do what is best for your career. I did not want to leave. I was training with the first team. But I needed to go and show what I was about. “I had been to Notts County on loan and that was the eye opener. It was League One, but it was the atmosphere and feeling of playing against grown men who are doing this because it is their life, to put food on the table. I was 18, playing in front of 10,000 or 15,000 who have paid to watch you. It was better than playing in front of 20 or 30 fans in a reserve game. There is no sense of reward, inspiration or even motivation if you do not have that game at 3pm on a Saturday to look forward to. I did not want to go back to that.” The debate about development football is particularly relevant at Huddersfield, where the club has scrapped academy age groups Under-16 to direct focus solely on raising the standards between Under-18 to 23 level. Ince knows from experience this is the problem area. “Reserve football is not what it used to be. It’s the young lads rather than older professionals coming back from injury or suspension. There used to be more competition to it,” says Ince. Tom Ince (left) playing for Derby County Credit: GETTY IMAGES “Young lads have to look at it and ask do I waste my time and hope, or do I take the initiative at 18 or 19 where I have to get experience because reserve team football does not prepare you for anything? You can play 100 reserve games and not have a clue what has hit you after one Championship game. If there is no entry into the first team, back yourself at a club where you will play and then you have plenty of time to get back to that highest level. The alternative is you will get to 23 or 24 and think ‘what was I doing all those years?’ “People always say ‘how can the FA help, how can the Premier League help’, but it comes down to the player. Do you back yourself to get to where you want to be in four years? Go and get first-team football at the highest level you can, open your eyes and make brave decisions. It might seem at first you are thinking ‘what am I doing here, giving up a position at an Academy at a big club where it is all rosy?’ But down the line you will get to where you want to be. It is a tough call, though.” Ince feels similarly about England. He was a regular for the Under-21s but felt selection as an over-age player in 2015 was counter-productive. He pulled out of that year’s Euro Championships. Tom Ince (right) with England U21s Credit: PA “You have the Under-21s and the bridge to the first team, but there is a limbo period with that next step,” he says. “You need to show you can do it at elite level. Germany and Spain are so good because it seems their whole system through the Under-17s to the senior side blends. England are trying that now, which is the right way. “At that time I had already been to two tournaments, was 23 - 18 months older than most of the group - and I felt I needed a summer break and to consider my next career move. I did not turn down my country - you think my dad would let me do that? I just felt stuck in that limbo where I had to progress to a higher level. “England’s Under-20s have done fantastic things but who is playing for their clubs? The England youth set-up has been really successful this year, but it must be frustrating for so many of those lads they are not getting regular football. A lot of them must be thinking ‘what do I do?’ You get success, you feel confident and you want more, but it is not easy. It does not just need bravery from the players, but managers. But managers are sceptical.” Tom Ince in action for Huddersfield Credit: ACTION IMAGES If there are regrets, it is that the chance to complete the circle and establish a Premier League role did not come sooner when Liverpool tried to re-sign Ince in 2013, and he also considers what might have been when Italy beckoned in 2014. “Liverpool was very close but the Blackpool chairman did not want to be out of pocket because Liverpool owned a percentage of the sell-on fee,” recalls Ince. “He made it difficult and they would not let me go. That was disappointing because I felt I would have been given a chance under Brendan Rodgers. “When Inter were interested in me I stood in the San Siro and the English boy inside me told me to go to the Premier League.” A move to Crystal Palace and Hull - when they were in the top flight - proved unsatisfactory. “I had a taste of the Premier League with six months at Crystal Palace but it did not work out. Tony Pulis played a different way and I did not suit it,” he says. “At Hull it was similar. I started the first few games but then the manager went a different way.” At Huddersfield, Ince has the chance he has worked for, with a manager he feels suited to his style. “David Wagner is unique. He is detailed and thorough and you see the Dortmund way in him,” says Ince. “He wants entertainment and excitement and players to enjoy the game and express themselves. It’s a fantastic atmosphere around the squad. We are here to prove ourselves. Our objective is to stay in the league. The Tottenham game was an eye opener but it shows the level we are at. But we will give it a go and maybe games like that we just have to take it and move on. We will hurt a lot of teams.” In a week when Gareth Southgate’s lack of options were again exposed, Ince says every English player in the Premier League has extra motivation in a World Cup season. “You always have to have that dream,” he said. “The Premier League gives you the profile. There are a lot of youngsters in our squad, not just me. We have Tommy Smith at full-back who can impress this season. Why shouldn’t we have the dream? It would be stupid not to.”

Tom Ince exclusive: 'Leaving Liverpool, turning down Inter - I don't regret anything'

Tom Ince walked away from Liverpool, spurned Inter Milan and Monaco, felt he had outgrown England’s Under-21s and was a phone call away from returning to Anfield. Yet as he sits at Huddersfield’s training ground considering those tough choices one emotion stands out. Vindication. With opportunities to thrive at elite clubs restricted, Ince recognised England’s most highly-rated young players are in danger of forming a lost rather than golden generation. So he left Liverpool as a teenager, joining Blackpool in the Championship, believing he would work his way up after a perceived step down. “If you are a young player waiting for a chance at a top club, what do you do?” asks Ince. “Stay in the top facility, enjoying all the best travel, wearing all the best sports gear? “Or do you say I am going to be brave and step away even if that means going to League One or the Championship? “Harry Kane is the prime example. He went on loan, went back to Tottenham and the rest is history. Credit to him. When people saw him at Norwich or Leicester, who saw his next step? He backed himself and now people forget the doubts they might have had. I think more are seeing it that way. Look at Tammy Abraham and Nathaniel Chalobah. They have done the right thing for their career by leaving Chelsea. Harry Kane is now England's No 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES “My dream was to play at Anfield but I could not waste time feeling my way was blocked. You have to take decisions and do what is best for your career. I did not want to leave. I was training with the first team. But I needed to go and show what I was about. “I had been to Notts County on loan and that was the eye opener. It was League One, but it was the atmosphere and feeling of playing against grown men who are doing this because it is their life, to put food on the table. I was 18, playing in front of 10,000 or 15,000 who have paid to watch you. It was better than playing in front of 20 or 30 fans in a reserve game. There is no sense of reward, inspiration or even motivation if you do not have that game at 3pm on a Saturday to look forward to. I did not want to go back to that.” The debate about development football is particularly relevant at Huddersfield, where the club has scrapped academy age groups Under-16 to direct focus solely on raising the standards between Under-18 to 23 level. Ince knows from experience this is the problem area. “Reserve football is not what it used to be. It’s the young lads rather than older professionals coming back from injury or suspension. There used to be more competition to it,” says Ince. Tom Ince (left) playing for Derby County Credit: GETTY IMAGES “Young lads have to look at it and ask do I waste my time and hope, or do I take the initiative at 18 or 19 where I have to get experience because reserve team football does not prepare you for anything? You can play 100 reserve games and not have a clue what has hit you after one Championship game. If there is no entry into the first team, back yourself at a club where you will play and then you have plenty of time to get back to that highest level. The alternative is you will get to 23 or 24 and think ‘what was I doing all those years?’ “People always say ‘how can the FA help, how can the Premier League help’, but it comes down to the player. Do you back yourself to get to where you want to be in four years? Go and get first-team football at the highest level you can, open your eyes and make brave decisions. It might seem at first you are thinking ‘what am I doing here, giving up a position at an Academy at a big club where it is all rosy?’ But down the line you will get to where you want to be. It is a tough call, though.” Ince feels similarly about England. He was a regular for the Under-21s but felt selection as an over-age player in 2015 was counter-productive. He pulled out of that year’s Euro Championships. Tom Ince (right) with England U21s Credit: PA “You have the Under-21s and the bridge to the first team, but there is a limbo period with that next step,” he says. “You need to show you can do it at elite level. Germany and Spain are so good because it seems their whole system through the Under-17s to the senior side blends. England are trying that now, which is the right way. “At that time I had already been to two tournaments, was 23 - 18 months older than most of the group - and I felt I needed a summer break and to consider my next career move. I did not turn down my country - you think my dad would let me do that? I just felt stuck in that limbo where I had to progress to a higher level. “England’s Under-20s have done fantastic things but who is playing for their clubs? The England youth set-up has been really successful this year, but it must be frustrating for so many of those lads they are not getting regular football. A lot of them must be thinking ‘what do I do?’ You get success, you feel confident and you want more, but it is not easy. It does not just need bravery from the players, but managers. But managers are sceptical.” Tom Ince in action for Huddersfield Credit: ACTION IMAGES If there are regrets, it is that the chance to complete the circle and establish a Premier League role did not come sooner when Liverpool tried to re-sign Ince in 2013, and he also considers what might have been when Italy beckoned in 2014. “Liverpool was very close but the Blackpool chairman did not want to be out of pocket because Liverpool owned a percentage of the sell-on fee,” recalls Ince. “He made it difficult and they would not let me go. That was disappointing because I felt I would have been given a chance under Brendan Rodgers. “When Inter were interested in me I stood in the San Siro and the English boy inside me told me to go to the Premier League.” A move to Crystal Palace and Hull - when they were in the top flight - proved unsatisfactory. “I had a taste of the Premier League with six months at Crystal Palace but it did not work out. Tony Pulis played a different way and I did not suit it,” he says. “At Hull it was similar. I started the first few games but then the manager went a different way.” At Huddersfield, Ince has the chance he has worked for, with a manager he feels suited to his style. “David Wagner is unique. He is detailed and thorough and you see the Dortmund way in him,” says Ince. “He wants entertainment and excitement and players to enjoy the game and express themselves. It’s a fantastic atmosphere around the squad. We are here to prove ourselves. Our objective is to stay in the league. The Tottenham game was an eye opener but it shows the level we are at. But we will give it a go and maybe games like that we just have to take it and move on. We will hurt a lot of teams.” In a week when Gareth Southgate’s lack of options were again exposed, Ince says every English player in the Premier League has extra motivation in a World Cup season. “You always have to have that dream,” he said. “The Premier League gives you the profile. There are a lot of youngsters in our squad, not just me. We have Tommy Smith at full-back who can impress this season. Why shouldn’t we have the dream? It would be stupid not to.”

Tom Ince exclusive: 'Leaving Liverpool, turning down Inter - I don't regret anything'

Tom Ince walked away from Liverpool, spurned Inter Milan and Monaco, felt he had outgrown England’s Under-21s and was a phone call away from returning to Anfield. Yet as he sits at Huddersfield’s training ground considering those tough choices one emotion stands out. Vindication. With opportunities to thrive at elite clubs restricted, Ince recognised England’s most highly-rated young players are in danger of forming a lost rather than golden generation. So he left Liverpool as a teenager, joining Blackpool in the Championship, believing he would work his way up after a perceived step down. “If you are a young player waiting for a chance at a top club, what do you do?” asks Ince. “Stay in the top facility, enjoying all the best travel, wearing all the best sports gear? “Or do you say I am going to be brave and step away even if that means going to League One or the Championship? “Harry Kane is the prime example. He went on loan, went back to Tottenham and the rest is history. Credit to him. When people saw him at Norwich or Leicester, who saw his next step? He backed himself and now people forget the doubts they might have had. I think more are seeing it that way. Look at Tammy Abraham and Nathaniel Chalobah. They have done the right thing for their career by leaving Chelsea. Harry Kane is now England's No 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES “My dream was to play at Anfield but I could not waste time feeling my way was blocked. You have to take decisions and do what is best for your career. I did not want to leave. I was training with the first team. But I needed to go and show what I was about. “I had been to Notts County on loan and that was the eye opener. It was League One, but it was the atmosphere and feeling of playing against grown men who are doing this because it is their life, to put food on the table. I was 18, playing in front of 10,000 or 15,000 who have paid to watch you. It was better than playing in front of 20 or 30 fans in a reserve game. There is no sense of reward, inspiration or even motivation if you do not have that game at 3pm on a Saturday to look forward to. I did not want to go back to that.” The debate about development football is particularly relevant at Huddersfield, where the club has scrapped academy age groups Under-16 to direct focus solely on raising the standards between Under-18 to 23 level. Ince knows from experience this is the problem area. “Reserve football is not what it used to be. It’s the young lads rather than older professionals coming back from injury or suspension. There used to be more competition to it,” says Ince. Tom Ince (left) playing for Derby County Credit: GETTY IMAGES “Young lads have to look at it and ask do I waste my time and hope, or do I take the initiative at 18 or 19 where I have to get experience because reserve team football does not prepare you for anything? You can play 100 reserve games and not have a clue what has hit you after one Championship game. If there is no entry into the first team, back yourself at a club where you will play and then you have plenty of time to get back to that highest level. The alternative is you will get to 23 or 24 and think ‘what was I doing all those years?’ “People always say ‘how can the FA help, how can the Premier League help’, but it comes down to the player. Do you back yourself to get to where you want to be in four years? Go and get first-team football at the highest level you can, open your eyes and make brave decisions. It might seem at first you are thinking ‘what am I doing here, giving up a position at an Academy at a big club where it is all rosy?’ But down the line you will get to where you want to be. It is a tough call, though.” Ince feels similarly about England. He was a regular for the Under-21s but felt selection as an over-age player in 2015 was counter-productive. He pulled out of that year’s Euro Championships. Tom Ince (right) with England U21s Credit: PA “You have the Under-21s and the bridge to the first team, but there is a limbo period with that next step,” he says. “You need to show you can do it at elite level. Germany and Spain are so good because it seems their whole system through the Under-17s to the senior side blends. England are trying that now, which is the right way. “At that time I had already been to two tournaments, was 23 - 18 months older than most of the group - and I felt I needed a summer break and to consider my next career move. I did not turn down my country - you think my dad would let me do that? I just felt stuck in that limbo where I had to progress to a higher level. “England’s Under-20s have done fantastic things but who is playing for their clubs? The England youth set-up has been really successful this year, but it must be frustrating for so many of those lads they are not getting regular football. A lot of them must be thinking ‘what do I do?’ You get success, you feel confident and you want more, but it is not easy. It does not just need bravery from the players, but managers. But managers are sceptical.” Tom Ince in action for Huddersfield Credit: ACTION IMAGES If there are regrets, it is that the chance to complete the circle and establish a Premier League role did not come sooner when Liverpool tried to re-sign Ince in 2013, and he also considers what might have been when Italy beckoned in 2014. “Liverpool was very close but the Blackpool chairman did not want to be out of pocket because Liverpool owned a percentage of the sell-on fee,” recalls Ince. “He made it difficult and they would not let me go. That was disappointing because I felt I would have been given a chance under Brendan Rodgers. “When Inter were interested in me I stood in the San Siro and the English boy inside me told me to go to the Premier League.” A move to Crystal Palace and Hull - when they were in the top flight - proved unsatisfactory. “I had a taste of the Premier League with six months at Crystal Palace but it did not work out. Tony Pulis played a different way and I did not suit it,” he says. “At Hull it was similar. I started the first few games but then the manager went a different way.” At Huddersfield, Ince has the chance he has worked for, with a manager he feels suited to his style. “David Wagner is unique. He is detailed and thorough and you see the Dortmund way in him,” says Ince. “He wants entertainment and excitement and players to enjoy the game and express themselves. It’s a fantastic atmosphere around the squad. We are here to prove ourselves. Our objective is to stay in the league. The Tottenham game was an eye opener but it shows the level we are at. But we will give it a go and maybe games like that we just have to take it and move on. We will hurt a lot of teams.” In a week when Gareth Southgate’s lack of options were again exposed, Ince says every English player in the Premier League has extra motivation in a World Cup season. “You always have to have that dream,” he said. “The Premier League gives you the profile. There are a lot of youngsters in our squad, not just me. We have Tommy Smith at full-back who can impress this season. Why shouldn’t we have the dream? It would be stupid not to.”

Tom Ince exclusive: 'Leaving Liverpool, turning down Inter - I don't regret anything'

Tom Ince walked away from Liverpool, spurned Inter Milan and Monaco, felt he had outgrown England’s Under-21s and was a phone call away from returning to Anfield. Yet as he sits at Huddersfield’s training ground considering those tough choices one emotion stands out. Vindication. With opportunities to thrive at elite clubs restricted, Ince recognised England’s most highly-rated young players are in danger of forming a lost rather than golden generation. So he left Liverpool as a teenager, joining Blackpool in the Championship, believing he would work his way up after a perceived step down. “If you are a young player waiting for a chance at a top club, what do you do?” asks Ince. “Stay in the top facility, enjoying all the best travel, wearing all the best sports gear? “Or do you say I am going to be brave and step away even if that means going to League One or the Championship? “Harry Kane is the prime example. He went on loan, went back to Tottenham and the rest is history. Credit to him. When people saw him at Norwich or Leicester, who saw his next step? He backed himself and now people forget the doubts they might have had. I think more are seeing it that way. Look at Tammy Abraham and Nathaniel Chalobah. They have done the right thing for their career by leaving Chelsea. Harry Kane is now England's No 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES “My dream was to play at Anfield but I could not waste time feeling my way was blocked. You have to take decisions and do what is best for your career. I did not want to leave. I was training with the first team. But I needed to go and show what I was about. “I had been to Notts County on loan and that was the eye opener. It was League One, but it was the atmosphere and feeling of playing against grown men who are doing this because it is their life, to put food on the table. I was 18, playing in front of 10,000 or 15,000 who have paid to watch you. It was better than playing in front of 20 or 30 fans in a reserve game. There is no sense of reward, inspiration or even motivation if you do not have that game at 3pm on a Saturday to look forward to. I did not want to go back to that.” The debate about development football is particularly relevant at Huddersfield, where the club has scrapped academy age groups Under-16 to direct focus solely on raising the standards between Under-18 to 23 level. Ince knows from experience this is the problem area. “Reserve football is not what it used to be. It’s the young lads rather than older professionals coming back from injury or suspension. There used to be more competition to it,” says Ince. Tom Ince (left) playing for Derby County Credit: GETTY IMAGES “Young lads have to look at it and ask do I waste my time and hope, or do I take the initiative at 18 or 19 where I have to get experience because reserve team football does not prepare you for anything? You can play 100 reserve games and not have a clue what has hit you after one Championship game. If there is no entry into the first team, back yourself at a club where you will play and then you have plenty of time to get back to that highest level. The alternative is you will get to 23 or 24 and think ‘what was I doing all those years?’ “People always say ‘how can the FA help, how can the Premier League help’, but it comes down to the player. Do you back yourself to get to where you want to be in four years? Go and get first-team football at the highest level you can, open your eyes and make brave decisions. It might seem at first you are thinking ‘what am I doing here, giving up a position at an Academy at a big club where it is all rosy?’ But down the line you will get to where you want to be. It is a tough call, though.” Ince feels similarly about England. He was a regular for the Under-21s but felt selection as an over-age player in 2015 was counter-productive. He pulled out of that year’s Euro Championships. Tom Ince (right) with England U21s Credit: PA “You have the Under-21s and the bridge to the first team, but there is a limbo period with that next step,” he says. “You need to show you can do it at elite level. Germany and Spain are so good because it seems their whole system through the Under-17s to the senior side blends. England are trying that now, which is the right way. “At that time I had already been to two tournaments, was 23 - 18 months older than most of the group - and I felt I needed a summer break and to consider my next career move. I did not turn down my country - you think my dad would let me do that? I just felt stuck in that limbo where I had to progress to a higher level. “England’s Under-20s have done fantastic things but who is playing for their clubs? The England youth set-up has been really successful this year, but it must be frustrating for so many of those lads they are not getting regular football. A lot of them must be thinking ‘what do I do?’ You get success, you feel confident and you want more, but it is not easy. It does not just need bravery from the players, but managers. But managers are sceptical.” Tom Ince in action for Huddersfield Credit: ACTION IMAGES If there are regrets, it is that the chance to complete the circle and establish a Premier League role did not come sooner when Liverpool tried to re-sign Ince in 2013, and he also considers what might have been when Italy beckoned in 2014. “Liverpool was very close but the Blackpool chairman did not want to be out of pocket because Liverpool owned a percentage of the sell-on fee,” recalls Ince. “He made it difficult and they would not let me go. That was disappointing because I felt I would have been given a chance under Brendan Rodgers. “When Inter were interested in me I stood in the San Siro and the English boy inside me told me to go to the Premier League.” A move to Crystal Palace and Hull - when they were in the top flight - proved unsatisfactory. “I had a taste of the Premier League with six months at Crystal Palace but it did not work out. Tony Pulis played a different way and I did not suit it,” he says. “At Hull it was similar. I started the first few games but then the manager went a different way.” At Huddersfield, Ince has the chance he has worked for, with a manager he feels suited to his style. “David Wagner is unique. He is detailed and thorough and you see the Dortmund way in him,” says Ince. “He wants entertainment and excitement and players to enjoy the game and express themselves. It’s a fantastic atmosphere around the squad. We are here to prove ourselves. Our objective is to stay in the league. The Tottenham game was an eye opener but it shows the level we are at. But we will give it a go and maybe games like that we just have to take it and move on. We will hurt a lot of teams.” In a week when Gareth Southgate’s lack of options were again exposed, Ince says every English player in the Premier League has extra motivation in a World Cup season. “You always have to have that dream,” he said. “The Premier League gives you the profile. There are a lot of youngsters in our squad, not just me. We have Tommy Smith at full-back who can impress this season. Why shouldn’t we have the dream? It would be stupid not to.”

How have Manchester United's Class of 92 fared as managers?

The news that Paul Scholes has held talks with Oldham over the vacant manager's job means the potential addition of a new feather in the cap of the Manchester United Class of 92's managerial prowess. But how have Sir Alex Ferguson's fledglings fared in positions of power? Ryan Giggs Having been appointed a player-coach at Manchester United in July 2013, Giggs then became interim manager when David Moyes was sacked the following April. He achieved a record of two wins, a draw and a defeat in the final four games of the 2013–14 season. Giggs was then appointed as Louis van Gaal's assistant manager when the Dutchman took charge for the following season but - despite many suggesting he would be a potential successor at the helm - he left the club when Jose Mourinho was announced as the new manager in July 2016. He has since been linked with a host of managerial roles, but has yet to make his next move. Paul Scholes Scholes held a coaching role at United for six months after his initial retirement in 2011, but he has largely steered clear of the dugout since reversing that decision and calling time on his playing career for a second time in 2013. He held a coaching position at United under Moyes and assisted Giggs during the Welshman's four-game spell as interim manager, but his only managerial stint came in January 2015 when he acted as Salford City caretaker manager alongside Phil Neville for their match against Kendal Town. Salford City won 2-1, giving Scholes a 100 per cent managerial winning record. Scholes been linked with different managerial roles since leaving Manchester United Credit: Action Images Nicky Butt Having retired from playing in 2011, Butt returned to Manchester United the following year as a reserve team coach. He was another Class of 92 alumnus who assisted Giggs during the Welshman's brief tenure as interim United manager in 2014 and has held the role of head of academy since November 2016. Gary Neville The bulk of Gary Neville's coaching experience has come with the England national side. He joined the coaching team in May 2012 and worked under Roy Hodgson for much of the next four years, while balancing his media duties. He was a surprise appointment to take charge as Valencia manager in November 2015, where he worked with his brother Phil. Valencia failed to win their first nine matches and he was eventually sacked the following March, having won just three of his 16 league games in charge and failing to keep a single clean sheet. Phil Neville   The younger Neville brother began his coaching career before he retired from the pitch, working with the England Under-21 squad throughout 2012 and 2013. He is yet to branch out on his own since retiring in 2013, holding a coaching role at Manchester United until 2014, acting as Salford City caretaker manager alongside Scholes for one match in 2015 and assisting his brother Gary at Valencia. The Class of 92 enjoyed considerable success as their careers advanced Credit: getty images David Beckham Don't be silly. He hasn't been a manager. Chris Casper An unfulfilled playing talent, who was forced to retire aged 24 after suffering a double leg fracture while playing for Reading, Casper's only managerial stint came at Bury where he took charge from 2005 to 2008. He then took up coaching roles at Bradford City and Grimsby Town before he was appointed Salford City's sporting director this summer. Simon Davies Wales international Davies failed to make the grade at Manchester United, playing the bulk of his career at lower league level and across the border in the Welsh top flight. He joined the Chester City coaching staff in 2006 and had two stints as caretaker manager over the next couple of years before he was given the role on a permanent basis in March 2008. He failed to last until the end of the year, dropped back down as a youth team manager at Chester and then moved to Manchester City in 2013. He served as Patrick Vieira's assistant with City's Elite Development Squad and has been in charge of the set-up since the Frenchman departed in December 2015. Mark Robins is currently at the Coventry City helm Credit: getty images Mark Robins Not quite fitting into the category of Class of 92 alumni (he came through the youth ranks with the club before leaving in 1992), Robins was one of the most successful of Sir Alex's initial batch of youngsters coined Fergie's Fledglings. He enjoyed a long playing career in the Football League and has managed a number of teams over the past decade, namely: Rotherham United, Barnsley, Coventry City, Huddersfield Town, Scunthorpe United and currently Coventry City. Kevin Pilkington The goalkeeper struggled for opportunities at Manchester United, instead playing the majority of his career at Mansfield Town and Notts County. He moved into his first coaching role as goalkeeping coach at Notts County in 2012, remaining at the club - where he was forced into emergency playing duties on more than one occasion - until September 2017 when he moved to take up the same position at Cambridge United.

How have Manchester United's Class of 92 fared as managers?

The news that Paul Scholes has held talks with Oldham over the vacant manager's job means the potential addition of a new feather in the cap of the Manchester United Class of 92's managerial prowess. But how have Sir Alex Ferguson's fledglings fared in positions of power? Ryan Giggs Having been appointed a player-coach at Manchester United in July 2013, Giggs then became interim manager when David Moyes was sacked the following April. He achieved a record of two wins, a draw and a defeat in the final four games of the 2013–14 season. Giggs was then appointed as Louis van Gaal's assistant manager when the Dutchman took charge for the following season but - despite many suggesting he would be a potential successor at the helm - he left the club when Jose Mourinho was announced as the new manager in July 2016. He has since been linked with a host of managerial roles, but has yet to make his next move. Paul Scholes Scholes held a coaching role at United for six months after his initial retirement in 2011, but he has largely steered clear of the dugout since reversing that decision and calling time on his playing career for a second time in 2013. He held a coaching position at United under Moyes and assisted Giggs during the Welshman's four-game spell as interim manager, but his only managerial stint came in January 2015 when he acted as Salford City caretaker manager alongside Phil Neville for their match against Kendal Town. Salford City won 2-1, giving Scholes a 100 per cent managerial winning record. Scholes been linked with different managerial roles since leaving Manchester United Credit: Action Images Nicky Butt Having retired from playing in 2011, Butt returned to Manchester United the following year as a reserve team coach. He was another Class of 92 alumnus who assisted Giggs during the Welshman's brief tenure as interim United manager in 2014 and has held the role of head of academy since November 2016. Gary Neville The bulk of Gary Neville's coaching experience has come with the England national side. He joined the coaching team in May 2012 and worked under Roy Hodgson for much of the next four years, while balancing his media duties. He was a surprise appointment to take charge as Valencia manager in November 2015, where he worked with his brother Phil. Valencia failed to win their first nine matches and he was eventually sacked the following March, having won just three of his 16 league games in charge and failing to keep a single clean sheet. Phil Neville   The younger Neville brother began his coaching career before he retired from the pitch, working with the England Under-21 squad throughout 2012 and 2013. He is yet to branch out on his own since retiring in 2013, holding a coaching role at Manchester United until 2014, acting as Salford City caretaker manager alongside Scholes for one match in 2015 and assisting his brother Gary at Valencia. The Class of 92 enjoyed considerable success as their careers advanced Credit: getty images David Beckham Don't be silly. He hasn't been a manager. Chris Casper An unfulfilled playing talent, who was forced to retire aged 24 after suffering a double leg fracture while playing for Reading, Casper's only managerial stint came at Bury where he took charge from 2005 to 2008. He then took up coaching roles at Bradford City and Grimsby Town before he was appointed Salford City's sporting director this summer. Simon Davies Wales international Davies failed to make the grade at Manchester United, playing the bulk of his career at lower league level and across the border in the Welsh top flight. He joined the Chester City coaching staff in 2006 and had two stints as caretaker manager over the next couple of years before he was given the role on a permanent basis in March 2008. He failed to last until the end of the year, dropped back down as a youth team manager at Chester and then moved to Manchester City in 2013. He served as Patrick Vieira's assistant with City's Elite Development Squad and has been in charge of the set-up since the Frenchman departed in December 2015. Mark Robins is currently at the Coventry City helm Credit: getty images Mark Robins Not quite fitting into the category of Class of 92 alumni (he came through the youth ranks with the club before leaving in 1992), Robins was one of the most successful of Sir Alex's initial batch of youngsters coined Fergie's Fledglings. He enjoyed a long playing career in the Football League and has managed a number of teams over the past decade, namely: Rotherham United, Barnsley, Coventry City, Huddersfield Town, Scunthorpe United and currently Coventry City. Kevin Pilkington The goalkeeper struggled for opportunities at Manchester United, instead playing the majority of his career at Mansfield Town and Notts County. He moved into his first coaching role as goalkeeping coach at Notts County in 2012, remaining at the club - where he was forced into emergency playing duties on more than one occasion - until September 2017 when he moved to take up the same position at Cambridge United.

How have Manchester United's Class of 92 fared as managers?

The news that Paul Scholes has held talks with Oldham over the vacant manager's job means the potential addition of a new feather in the cap of the Manchester United Class of 92's managerial prowess. But how have Sir Alex Ferguson's fledglings fared in positions of power? Ryan Giggs Having been appointed a player-coach at Manchester United in July 2013, Giggs then became interim manager when David Moyes was sacked the following April. He achieved a record of two wins, a draw and a defeat in the final four games of the 2013–14 season. Giggs was then appointed as Louis van Gaal's assistant manager when the Dutchman took charge for the following season but - despite many suggesting he would be a potential successor at the helm - he left the club when Jose Mourinho was announced as the new manager in July 2016. He has since been linked with a host of managerial roles, but has yet to make his next move. Paul Scholes Scholes held a coaching role at United for six months after his initial retirement in 2011, but he has largely steered clear of the dugout since reversing that decision and calling time on his playing career for a second time in 2013. He held a coaching position at United under Moyes and assisted Giggs during the Welshman's four-game spell as interim manager, but his only managerial stint came in January 2015 when he acted as Salford City caretaker manager alongside Phil Neville for their match against Kendal Town. Salford City won 2-1, giving Scholes a 100 per cent managerial winning record. Scholes been linked with different managerial roles since leaving Manchester United Credit: Action Images Nicky Butt Having retired from playing in 2011, Butt returned to Manchester United the following year as a reserve team coach. He was another Class of 92 alumnus who assisted Giggs during the Welshman's brief tenure as interim United manager in 2014 and has held the role of head of academy since November 2016. Gary Neville The bulk of Gary Neville's coaching experience has come with the England national side. He joined the coaching team in May 2012 and worked under Roy Hodgson for much of the next four years, while balancing his media duties. He was a surprise appointment to take charge as Valencia manager in November 2015, where he worked with his brother Phil. Valencia failed to win their first nine matches and he was eventually sacked the following March, having won just three of his 16 league games in charge and failing to keep a single clean sheet. Phil Neville   The younger Neville brother began his coaching career before he retired from the pitch, working with the England Under-21 squad throughout 2012 and 2013. He is yet to branch out on his own since retiring in 2013, holding a coaching role at Manchester United until 2014, acting as Salford City caretaker manager alongside Scholes for one match in 2015 and assisting his brother Gary at Valencia. The Class of 92 enjoyed considerable success as their careers advanced Credit: getty images David Beckham Don't be silly. He hasn't been a manager. Chris Casper An unfulfilled playing talent, who was forced to retire aged 24 after suffering a double leg fracture while playing for Reading, Casper's only managerial stint came at Bury where he took charge from 2005 to 2008. He then took up coaching roles at Bradford City and Grimsby Town before he was appointed Salford City's sporting director this summer. Simon Davies Wales international Davies failed to make the grade at Manchester United, playing the bulk of his career at lower league level and across the border in the Welsh top flight. He joined the Chester City coaching staff in 2006 and had two stints as caretaker manager over the next couple of years before he was given the role on a permanent basis in March 2008. He failed to last until the end of the year, dropped back down as a youth team manager at Chester and then moved to Manchester City in 2013. He served as Patrick Vieira's assistant with City's Elite Development Squad and has been in charge of the set-up since the Frenchman departed in December 2015. Mark Robins is currently at the Coventry City helm Credit: getty images Mark Robins Not quite fitting into the category of Class of 92 alumni (he came through the youth ranks with the club before leaving in 1992), Robins was one of the most successful of Sir Alex's initial batch of youngsters coined Fergie's Fledglings. He enjoyed a long playing career in the Football League and has managed a number of teams over the past decade, namely: Rotherham United, Barnsley, Coventry City, Huddersfield Town, Scunthorpe United and currently Coventry City. Kevin Pilkington The goalkeeper struggled for opportunities at Manchester United, instead playing the majority of his career at Mansfield Town and Notts County. He moved into his first coaching role as goalkeeping coach at Notts County in 2012, remaining at the club - where he was forced into emergency playing duties on more than one occasion - until September 2017 when he moved to take up the same position at Cambridge United.

How have Manchester United's Class of 92 fared as managers?

The news that Paul Scholes has held talks with Oldham over the vacant manager's job means the potential addition of a new feather in the cap of the Manchester United Class of 92's managerial prowess. But how have Sir Alex Ferguson's fledglings fared in positions of power? Ryan Giggs Having been appointed a player-coach at Manchester United in July 2013, Giggs then became interim manager when David Moyes was sacked the following April. He achieved a record of two wins, a draw and a defeat in the final four games of the 2013–14 season. Giggs was then appointed as Louis van Gaal's assistant manager when the Dutchman took charge for the following season but - despite many suggesting he would be a potential successor at the helm - he left the club when Jose Mourinho was announced as the new manager in July 2016. He has since been linked with a host of managerial roles, but has yet to make his next move. Paul Scholes Scholes held a coaching role at United for six months after his initial retirement in 2011, but he has largely steered clear of the dugout since reversing that decision and calling time on his playing career for a second time in 2013. He held a coaching position at United under Moyes and assisted Giggs during the Welshman's four-game spell as interim manager, but his only managerial stint came in January 2015 when he acted as Salford City caretaker manager alongside Phil Neville for their match against Kendal Town. Salford City won 2-1, giving Scholes a 100 per cent managerial winning record. Scholes been linked with different managerial roles since leaving Manchester United Credit: Action Images Nicky Butt Having retired from playing in 2011, Butt returned to Manchester United the following year as a reserve team coach. He was another Class of 92 alumnus who assisted Giggs during the Welshman's brief tenure as interim United manager in 2014 and has held the role of head of academy since November 2016. Gary Neville The bulk of Gary Neville's coaching experience has come with the England national side. He joined the coaching team in May 2012 and worked under Roy Hodgson for much of the next four years, while balancing his media duties. He was a surprise appointment to take charge as Valencia manager in November 2015, where he worked with his brother Phil. Valencia failed to win their first nine matches and he was eventually sacked the following March, having won just three of his 16 league games in charge and failing to keep a single clean sheet. Phil Neville   The younger Neville brother began his coaching career before he retired from the pitch, working with the England Under-21 squad throughout 2012 and 2013. He is yet to branch out on his own since retiring in 2013, holding a coaching role at Manchester United until 2014, acting as Salford City caretaker manager alongside Scholes for one match in 2015 and assisting his brother Gary at Valencia. The Class of 92 enjoyed considerable success as their careers advanced Credit: getty images David Beckham Don't be silly. He hasn't been a manager. Chris Casper An unfulfilled playing talent, who was forced to retire aged 24 after suffering a double leg fracture while playing for Reading, Casper's only managerial stint came at Bury where he took charge from 2005 to 2008. He then took up coaching roles at Bradford City and Grimsby Town before he was appointed Salford City's sporting director this summer. Simon Davies Wales international Davies failed to make the grade at Manchester United, playing the bulk of his career at lower league level and across the border in the Welsh top flight. He joined the Chester City coaching staff in 2006 and had two stints as caretaker manager over the next couple of years before he was given the role on a permanent basis in March 2008. He failed to last until the end of the year, dropped back down as a youth team manager at Chester and then moved to Manchester City in 2013. He served as Patrick Vieira's assistant with City's Elite Development Squad and has been in charge of the set-up since the Frenchman departed in December 2015. Mark Robins is currently at the Coventry City helm Credit: getty images Mark Robins Not quite fitting into the category of Class of 92 alumni (he came through the youth ranks with the club before leaving in 1992), Robins was one of the most successful of Sir Alex's initial batch of youngsters coined Fergie's Fledglings. He enjoyed a long playing career in the Football League and has managed a number of teams over the past decade, namely: Rotherham United, Barnsley, Coventry City, Huddersfield Town, Scunthorpe United and currently Coventry City. Kevin Pilkington The goalkeeper struggled for opportunities at Manchester United, instead playing the majority of his career at Mansfield Town and Notts County. He moved into his first coaching role as goalkeeping coach at Notts County in 2012, remaining at the club - where he was forced into emergency playing duties on more than one occasion - until September 2017 when he moved to take up the same position at Cambridge United.

Football League: Bristol Rovers hammer Northampton whilst Forest Green upset table-toppers Notts County

Football League: Bristol Rovers hammer Northampton whilst Forest Green upset table-toppers Notts County

Football League: Bristol Rovers hammer Northampton whilst Forest Green upset table-toppers Notts County

Football League: Bristol Rovers hammer Northampton whilst Forest Green upset table-toppers Notts County

Ellis Harrison scored twice as Bristol Rovers beat Northampton 6-0 at Sixfields.

Football League: Bristol Rovers hammer Northampton whilst Forest Green upset table-toppers Notts County

Football League: Bristol Rovers hammer Northampton whilst Forest Green upset table-toppers Notts County

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Forest Green Rovers' manager Mark Cooper in the stand during the game Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

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League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

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League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

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League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

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League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Forest Green Rovers' Mark Roberts after the equaliser Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Forest Green Rovers' Omar Bugiel at the end Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Notts County manager Kevin Nolan at the end with referee Lee Probert Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Notts County manager Kevin Nolan at the end Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Notts County's Jorge Grant in action Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Notts County's Rob Milson celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

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League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

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League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Forest Green Rovers' Charlie Cooper looks dejected Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Notts County's Rob Milson celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Notts County's Rob Milson scores their first goal Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

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League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

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League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Notts County manager Kevin Nolan Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Forest Green Rovers' manager Mark Cooper Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Forest Green Rovers' Omar Bugiel celebrates scoring their first goal Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers

Soccer Football - League Two - Notts County vs Forest Green Rovers - Meadow Lane, Nottingham, Britain - October 7, 2017 Forest Green Rovers' Omar Bugiel celebrates with team mates after scoring their first goal Action Images/Tony O'Brien EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Kevin Nolan: 'I don't have a divine right to manage in the Premier League - Notts County is my apprenticeship'

Kevin Nolan: 'I don't have a divine right to manage in the Premier League - Notts County is my apprenticeship'

Kevin Nolan: 'I don't have a divine right to manage in the Premier League - Notts County is my apprenticeship'

There are microwaves that have lasted longer than managers at Meadow Lane of late. Kevin Nolan is the 19th to have passed through the gates here at venerable Notts County, the oldest club in the world still competing at a professional level, in the last 18 years. But he still hopes, as he positions his League Two manager of the month award on his office mantelpiece, to become part of the furniture. It helps, perhaps, that Alan Hardy, Nolan’s chairman and a figure with whom he enjoys a palpable rapport, made his fortune in the interiors trade. Once, it would have taken a brave soul to accept Notts County’s call. Former owner Ray Trew developed a reputation for being more trigger-happy than Errol Flynn on sheriff’s duty in Dodge City. Martin Allen lasted all of 10 months in the dug-out, Paul Ince six months, and Jamie Fullarton a mere 69 days. Throw in an earlier ill-starred spell by Sven-Goran Eriksson as director of football, a post he abdicated the moment Trew took over, and Sol Campbell’s bizarre one-game cameo, and the picture was a tempestuous one. Nolan’s quest, with Hardy’s fulsome backing, is to steer the club into calmer waters. Ever since his players rebounded from 10 consecutive defeats last season to avert relegation, the decline has turned around, with a recent sequence of seven victories propelling them to the top of the table. Emblematic of the change is Nolan, who at 35 already seems to this manor born. Where his predecessor, John Sheridan, was sacked in January for gross misconduct, after allegedly blaming a referee for his children not receiving Christmas presents, Nolan is trying to build an image as a paragon of virtue: loyal, conscientious, meticulous. “I love being in control of a club,” he says. “I’m trying to give this one the right attitude, built on trust and respect.” Nolan picked up September's League Two manager of the month award Credit: John Robertson A captain at Bolton Wanderer when he was just 23, Nolan has long been identified as a natural leader of men. Sam Allardyce, whom he followed from Bolton to Newcastle and later to West Ham, described him as a classic general, adept at “weeding out the troublemakers”. But the transition to management has hardly been seamless. At benighted Leyton Orient, he found himself at the mercy of petty meddling by former owner Francesco Becchetti, only to be fired after 15 games. “Sacked for winning almost half your matches? That’s more egg on the face for him than me,” Nolan says. “I didn’t want an owner instructing me on what team I had to pick. When someone’s telling me, ‘That player should be playing in this way’, I’ve got no time for it. The first thing Alan did here was to explain that he would always have an opinion, but that he would only ever look to help me. That was a breath of fresh air.” The move was also heavy with emotion. Three days after he took charge of his first game, Nolan’s grandfather, a crucial influence in his upbringing after attending almost all his games, passed away. When he next walked out at Meadow Lane, the sense of loss threatened to overwhelm him, but stoicism prevailed. “I’m not a religious person, but I felt that he was with me that day,” he says. “I hope that he keeps me striving to be better.” Nolan hardly wants for popularity in his latest post. Revived left-back Carl Dickinson has paid tribute to the vibrancy of his man-management and the clarity of his team talks, while a Bolton fan appeared in his latest press conference just to shake his hand. His stock has seldom been so high. After two red cards at West Ham, he endured some fearful abuse, not least from owner David Sullivan’s son, who foolishly wrote on Twitter: “How the f--- Nolan is playing about League Two amazes me. Gives us all hope.” Nolan, famed for his resilience, acknowledges that a few barbs cut deep. “Some of the abuse does hurt. I’m human, not a robot, but I always want to prove people wrong. At such moments, you turn to your family, to those you believe in you.” Nolan was long ago identified as a natural leader of men Credit: ap In just his second year, Nolan is ahead of most managerial curves, but youth is increasingly in vogue in this division. Harry Kewell at Crawley is 39, Stevenage’s Darren Sarll is 34, while Barnet’s Rossi Eames, a retired gymnast, is another whippersnapper at 32. In Nolan’s view, there could be no finer proving ground. “Sometimes you have to start at the bottom, to build yourself up again. Yes, I played in the Premier League for many years, but that doesn’t give me a divine right to manage there. I have to earn that right, and this is my apprenticeship.” That said, Nolan does have a gentleman’s agreement with Hardy that he will be allowed to leave if a more powerful club comes calling – which, given Notts County’s rate of resurgence, appears increasingly likely. “It’s a magnificent gesture on Alan’s behalf, but for me it means nothing,” he says, diplomatically. “With the passion he has shown, it would be ridiculous if I couldn’t show the same work ethic.” One senses the workaholic lifestyle agrees with Nolan, who abhors any state of limbo. “As a player, before I had children, I can remember going home some days at 2pm, putting DVDs on, falling asleep, having my tea, going back to sea, watching another film. Before I knew it, it was morning. “Now, I never switch off. Until recently, my assistant, Richard Thomas, was living in my apartment, and we would be talking about football until one every morning. We’re still on the same WhatsApp group, texting each other all night about tactics. But I love every minute – I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love the fact that I don’t stop thinking about football. I don’t want that Saturday afternoon buzz to be taken away again.”

Kevin Nolan: 'I don't have a divine right to manage in the Premier League - Notts County is my apprenticeship'

Kevin Nolan: 'I don't have a divine right to manage in the Premier League - Notts County is my apprenticeship'

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