Vol. 5 Num 926 Sat. January 06, 2007  

Ince takes aim at Chelsea

Former England international Paul Ince is dreaming of maintaining his excellent start as manager of Macclesfield Town by knocking Premier League champions Chelsea out of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Ince, who used to patrol the midfield for Manchester United, has revitalised the fourth division club since taking on his first managerial job in October.

From being hopelessly adrift at the bottom of the table and without a win in 15 matches, he has inspired Macclesfield to eight victories in 14 games including two in the FA Cup to take the team into the third round for only the sixth time in their history.

"In a two-horse race you've always got a chance," Ince told reporters on Thursday. "Looking at the way Chelsea have performed in the last few weeks and the way we have a bit of form, you don't know.

"We know all the problems Chelsea have got and that's what gives us a chance."

Injury-hit Chelsea have conceded eight goals in their last four league games.

"The fact they have only got one central defender gives us a chance," said Ince. "We are going there with a chance and if you go there with a chance, who knows what can happen?

"Chelsea have drawn their last three games. We have won three so there is that element of pressure on Chelsea to come out and put us to sleep early doors."

Ince, 39, looks likely to resist the temptation to select himself after registering as a player when the January transfer window opened.

"The lads deserve, for what they've achieved and what they've done for me and the staff, to be out there and get their chance to play in a world-class stadium," he said.

Ince, who also had spells with Liverpool, Inter Milan, Middlesbrough, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, began the season as a player with Swindon Town.

Macclesfield won promotion to the Football League in 1997, play in front of average crowds of around 2,000 and pay their players less in a year than most Chelsea players earn in a week.

Ince, though, believes his team will not be overawed when they meet the millionaires of Chelsea led by Jose Mourinho.

"When you take the job on you don't expect to be playing Chelsea or walking out at Stamford Bridge alongside Jose Mourinho," he said.

"But I don't want it to be about me and Mourinho, I want it to be about the lads because they deserve it. It's about the players, not me.

"There's no reason for the lads to freeze. They are lucky players. There are a million players who would love to go to Chelsea and play against the likes of Andriy Shevchenko and Frank Lampard."

Ince is not getting too carried away, saying it will be league form rather than a glamour fixture at Chelsea which will determine his early successes as a manager.

"It would be a massive bonus (to win) but I would probably take a lot more credit if I kept this team in the league," he said. "That is the biggest challenge.

"Beating Chelsea of course would be a major, major shock and we all know that but keeping this team in the league is the biggest challenge."