WHAT now for Paul Ince? Probably another job. Somebody, somewhere, will see his name, remember that blood- stained bandage, and give him another shot.
And when they do, somebody with far greater talent and a better attitude will be shamefully overlooked.
Ince, sacked by Blackpool this week after nine defeats in 10 games, has often set himself up as a trailblazer for black managers. He has spoken, quite legitimately, of the racial barriers he faces in an industry run by old, white men.
But what of other barriers? What about all the skilled young coaches in the lower leagues – black and white – who find their path to the pro game blocked by big-name former players who win jobs not on talent but on reputation? Yes, the former Man United and England man has had success. After saving Macclesfield from relegation to the Conference in 2006, he then won promotion to League One with MK Dons.
But since then his career has been a disaster, marred not just by failure but a belligerent refusal to accept criticism or even acknowledge his flaws.
In those early days, at MK Dons and later Blackburn, Ince refused to contemplate doing a coaching badge, branding them a “money-spinning thing for UEFA”. What savage irony, then, that he was attending a UEFA Pro Licence course when he received the text message from Seasiders chairman Karl Oyston to say he had been dismissed.
In that sense, it seems Ince has learned. But in others, he clearly has not. He remains aggressive and confrontational, this season’s five-match stadium ban for abusing an official symptomatic of a management style reliant on fear and intimidation.
It is no wonder that Blackpool have the worst disciplinary record in the Championship, and no coincidence either – the same went for MK Dons in 2010.
No wonder either, that he rubs so many players up the wrong way. When Ince was sacked by Notts County in 2011, Magpies players were elated. Judging by the noises coming out of Bloomfield Road, the same holds true.
Had Oyston simply called Ray Trew, the County chairman, he would have told him how divisive and intransigent Ince could be.
Instead, he got a guy who – according to Oyston – failed even to draw up a list of January transfer targets.
Who, if rumours are to be believed, was actively helping son Tom discuss an end-of-season move to Monaco, denying Blackpool the £4m in compensation due if he had moved to a British club.
And whose response to a crunch defeat to Barnsley at the weekend was to leave Oakwell without speaking to the media.
It hardly reeks of professionalism and discipline, which are the very qualities a manager needs from his players.
This may sound like a character assassination. But I’ve spoken to plenty of players and plenty of club officials who’ve worked with Ince. Some, like Keith Andrews, love him. But too many tell of a man whose abrasive nature split dressing rooms and alienated the media.
And this recurring theme is the nub of the issue. I’m all for giving managers a second crack. But only if they can demonstrate they can learn from their mistakes. If they can’t, give somebody else a go.