Paul Ince will start work at Blackburn Rovers this morning after becoming the first black Briton to be named as manager of a Premier League club, but the former England captain immediately faces several difficult challenges, most notably to persuade David Bentley and Roque Santa Cruz that he can help them to fulfil their ambitions at Ewood Park.
More experienced managers such as Sam Allardyce, Steve McClaren and Michael Laudrup were also interviewed for the job as successor to Hughes, who left for Manchester City this month, but Ince impressed John Williams, the Blackburn chairman, with his energy and enthusiasm. He has signed a three-year contract and is expected to be followed to Blackburn by Ray Mathias, his assistant at MK Dons.
Ince’s appointment will be widely applauded, given that he becomes only the third black manager in Premier League history – after Ruud Gullit and Jean Tigana – and the first black Briton. Last year, shortly after launching his managerial career with Macclesfield Town, Ince implied that he felt there was institutional racism in the boardrooms of English football, but said he was confident that he could challenge perceptions and break down barriers for black managers.