The Blackpool boss on being hard on his son and the Blackpool and England U-21 player on his dad milking it with that bandage
Hello Paul. Hello Small Talk.
Hello Tom. Hello Small Talk.
What have you two been up to today? PI: I've been up to a lot of things today. The most important thing is the Danone National Cup tournament draw. Me and Thomas drove down last night so we spent a couple of hours having breakfast, walking round the golf course at Watford Grove and made our way to Wembley for the draw.
You'll have to excuse Small Talk's ignorance. What is the Danone National Cup? PI: The Danone National Cup is a tournament for 10- to 12-year-old kids from all over the world. It gives kids a great opportunity to play at one of the best stadiums in the world.
Hard to argue with that. Have you been doing any coaching? PI: No but a lot of the kids from England are based in Liverpool so me and Thomas attended their school two or three weeks ago and put on a coaching session. We played a bit of football with them. My team got beat so I wasn't too happy about that. They're good kids. They're really excited about the tournament, they're really excited about playing at Wembley.
Tom, what's your dad like when he loses? He doesn't sound too happy now. TI: He's always had that mentality. It's never nice to lose games and he's always striving for perfection. He's always trying to win the game. If he feels we weren't right on the day and we lost then he'll be in a bad mood. He also knows when it wasn't our day and he moves on quickly. He's not a person who dwells on poor results. But hopefully we won't have too many of them at Blackpool.
Tom, what's it like playing for your dad? Small Talk remembers when its dad used to help out with maths homework … tetchy times. TI: It's not the first time. It happened at my first loan spell at Notts County when I hadn't really had that much professional football. That soon changed. I was showing people what I was about, what kind of player I am. At Blackpool I've established myself as a player before my dad had arrived. We have that great bond where it's father and son and player and manager. As soon I step on that pitch then I'm just another player. He doesn't treat me any differently. He probably treats me harder than anyone else but he knows what I'm capable of doing. For me, it's a great thing to have that double advantage and in football you need someone to guide you in the right way and I'm a very fortunate kid to have someone like my dad with me.
Paul, is this true? Do you treat Tom harder? PI: I think sometimes because when you do bring your son to a club, especially at Notts County, some people weren't aware of who he was because he hadn't played any league football, so people were only saying I bought Thomas because he was my son which is far from the truth because I watched him as a kid, I watched him at Liverpool and I knew what he was capable of. He just needed to go out and get some experience. Sometimes I am a little bit harder because I've watched him grow up as a kid. I've watched him grow up as a boy playing football and I'm probably the only one who knows what he's capable of. If he's not doing that, then I would be a bit more harsh than with other players. But he knows. He knows he needs to be pushed.
Are you ever uneasy about being accused of nepotism? PI: There's not been many situations where nepotism does occur in football. When I got the chance to go to Blackpool, as Thomas said, the fact we'd already worked at Notts County was strange in itself, but to take it on to Blackpool was different. Thomas was already at Blackpool. He'd already proven to himself and to the fans that he could play. It wasn't that hard for me to come in.
How far can Tom go in the game? PI: I think Thomas can go as far as he wants to go. It's not just about his ability. You've got to have the right mentality to go to the top. He's still a young kid but he's very mature for his age and he enjoys football. He wants to get to the top. He knows he's got to make sacrifices. It's a lot of work and he's prepared to do it.
When you were playing, why did you only put your shirt on when you walked out of the tunnel? PI: It wasn't superstition, it was common sense. When we used to go out for the warm-up, which lasted 30 minutes, we'd get back in the dressing room still sweating and everyone used to put their shirts on. It's hot in there, you're shouting. By the time we got to the tunnel everyone was sweating so it was just common sense putting your top on then. I did it once. We beat Millwall 5-0 when I was at Manchester United and it just carried on from there. That had to change when I was captaining teams.
Did anyone else do it? PI: No one else did it. That was my own thing but I can't do it any more, I've put on too much weight!
Take a leaf out of Gareth Bale's book and trademark it. Tom, have you ever thought about emulating your dad in that way? What about calling yourself Guv'nor Junior? TI: I'm totally different to my dad. The type of player he was and the way he carried himself on the pitch is totally different to what I am. I'm just happy being Thomas Ince.
Still, it must have been pretty cool having a footballer for a dad. Although it must have been difficult to move around so much? TI: No I don't think it is. It's all experience. Something you can always treasure later on in life when I have my own family. I've had some great experiences. I've been to World Cup 98, Euro 2000, I've been to some really big tournaments, been around the world and seen some really good games. I wouldn't say it's a problem. That's helped me along the way and will continue to do so. I've always had a great family behind me and supporting me. It's a foundation to build on. It's a milestone I want to try and reach and a platform that has been given to me. I want to reach the heights that my dad did and beyond if I can. Dad set the mark for me and at the moment I'm taking slow steps. Like my dad says, it's about timing and at the moment I'm just enjoying my football.
Small Talk's a bit jealous now. Do you remember watching England's draw against Italy in Rome in 1997? What was going through your mind when you saw your dad walking around with his head bandaged up? TI: We've still got the shirt at home. It's a memorable part of history. I'm a very fortunate boy to have someone close to me who knows about the game. He's always been a bit soft. [Laughs] I thought he milked it a little bit! It's never a nice thing but it shows the character he was. He never walked off the pitch. In those days it was bandage it up, get on with it and continue the game. And they pulled off the result.
They sure did. A proud moment. Bye Paul! Bye Tom! The Inces: Bye Small Talk!