Blackburn sack Ince

Premier League strugglers Blackburn Rovers have sacked Paul Ince as their manager, just six months after appointing the former Manchester United and England midfielder.

Rovers are currently second bottom in the table and on course for relegation from English football's lucrative top flight after winning just three of their 17 league games so far this season. "It is with great sadness the board announce that Paul Ince is to leave the club," read a statement on Blackburn's official website.

"After a board meeting yesterday (Monday) it was decided to relieve Paul of his duties. The board, having selected Paul back in June, were desperate for him to succeed and wanted to give him as much time as possible in the unforgiving environment of Premier League management, where time is such a precious commodity."

As it is, Ince, 41, appointed after former United team-mate Mark Hughes took over at Premier League rivals Manchester City, has been sacked six months into a three-year contract However, Rovers chairman John Williams said the north-west club had been left with little option as they sought to preserve their Premier League status.

Three wins in 17 games has seen a squad, which finished seventh last season, fall to 19th position. We are currently in real danger of becoming detatched from the pack.
Blackburn Rovers chairman John Williams.

"Three wins in 17 games has seen a squad, which finished seventh last season, fall to 19th position," Williams said. "We are currently in real danger of becoming detatched from the pack," added the chairman, whose team are five points adrift of safety.

"The survival of the club in the Premier League is paramount and our focus is on finding a replacement who will be able to maintain our top division status." He added: "Paul will bounce back, he is a fighter and we wish him well."

The first black manager in English football's top flight, there was plenty of goodwill towards Ince as a young English manager who had made his name as a boss in the country's lower divisions, with Macclesfield and MK Dons, whom he led to the League Two (fourth-tier) title before taking charge at Ewood Park. However, Rovers have not won in the Premier League since September and the final straw for Ince's time with the Lancashire side came following Saturday's 3-0 league loss away to local rivals Wigan - a team managed by another former United player in Steve Bruce.

Ince's exit saw him become the sixth Premier League manager to lose his job so far this season after Alan Curbishley (West Ham), Kevin Keegan (Newcastle), Juande Ramos (Tottenham), replaced by former Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp, and Roy Keane (Sunderland).

Curbishley is among those who have now been linked with the job, as has former Rovers manager Graeme Souness. Sam Allardyce, the ex-Bolton Wanderers and Newcastle manager, appeared to rule himself out of a move to Ewood Park at the weekend, having been considered for the Blackburn post when Ince got the job in June.