As a player, Paul Ince wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet. He was a vocal leader on the pitch who drove his side forward and his approach earned him the tag “the Guvnor”.
Although he was in the twilight of his illustrious career, Ince played an integral part in getting a seasoned Wolverhampton Wanderers back to the Premier League in 2003.
On Tuesday night he watched his MK Dons side face Mick McCarthy’s youthful Wolves side which emphatically won the Championship last season, and emerge victorious.
But while Ince certainly feels McCarthy will get his young and exciting side fired up for the challenge of the Premier League, he has noticed they are missing one ingredient – a new “Guvnor”.
“Sometimes, it’s not all about ‘legs’ – you have to have experience,” said Ince.
“We had Ugo Ehiogu playing for us and he gives us so much experience and he leads the team and is vocal.
“I think Wolves are a quiet team and sometimes you need that experience. I used to try to drive them on and I can’t do that anymore, but I like to get that out of my players at Milton Keynes.
“But it’s not for me to pass judgment – Mick’s probably got the same thoughts as me in that he wants to give as many first team players time on the pitch.
“I’m sure when the heavy stuff starts in the Premier League, they will be ready.”
Ince has a fond affection for the Wolves following his four-year stay at Molineux and when he departed following the arrival of McCarthy, he vowed to return one day as manager. He confessed he was delighted to see Wanderers back in the top flight once more and believes they will stand a better chance of remaining in the Premier League this time, thanks to the investment of owner Steve Morgan.
McCarthy has been allowed to bring in several recruits, including club record signing Kevin Doyle from Reading, and Ince believes that will give them a chance.
“Staying in the Premier League is all about investment and during my time, I felt we didn’t invest one iota,” he said.
“But it was only with four games to go that we were actually relegated. I think with the right investment, we’d have stayed up and would have still been there.
“It hurt and still does hurt me – the likes of myself and Alex Rae weren’t getting any younger, but just to play in the Premier League at 35 and 36 was fantastic.
“I was disappointed that we didn’t invest when we should have and that the players that we did buy weren’t really the type of players that were going to keep us in the Premier League.”