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David Beckham has revealed his surprise that his former Manchester United team-mates Mark Hughes and Paul Ince have made the transition to top-flight management.

Hughes has established himself over the past few seasons as one of the Premier League's most respected managers, having led Blackburn Rovers to European football twice in four years despite operating on a shoestring budget.

The Welshman has embarked on a new adventure at Manchester City, where failure to lead his old enemy to at least UEFA Cup qualification is almost certain to get him the sack.

Beckham has no doubt the former Wales boss will succeed at Eastlands, but admitted he never envisaged his fellow ex-Devil gracing the technical area sans boots.

“When I was at United and Mark Hughes was playing, I was in awe of him, along with Paul Ince,†he said in The Sun. “To be on the same training pitch as both of them was amazing.

“Looking at Sparky, I never, ever thought he would go into management. He was always quite quiet in the dressing room.

“But he was exceptional for Blackburn and Wales before that. He will do a brilliant job at Manchester City. I am sure of that.â€


Filling Hughes' old role at Ewood Park is Paul Ince, another United old-boy, who has been earning his managerial stripes in the lower leagues with Macclesfield and MK Dons over the past few years.

The former England captain, renowned for his ego as much as his masterful midfield play during his heyday, will make history by becoming the first black Englishman to manage in the Premier League.

While Beckham again did not anticipate such a career move, he dearly hopes Ince triumphs at Rovers.

“Incey is the same as Sparky. I never thought he would be a manager, either,†the ex-Real Madrid man said. “He is a ****ney, like me, and I wish him all the best.

“He has enjoyed a surge to the top. For a while he tried to get a club, then he got into the game at Macclesfield, and now he is at a Premier League club with Blackburn.

“He will bring that experience from being at United and managing two football clubs. He will also have the respect of the players due to what he has done in the game.â€

The Best

Hughes and Ince will both take on their former mentor next season, as Sir Alex Ferguson seeks to steer United to a third straight domestic crown.

The Scotsman has announced he will end his glorious managerial career within the next three years, and along with Sunderland boss Roy Keane, Ince and Hughes have been tagged as potential heirs to the throne at Old Trafford.

Beckham would no doubt approve of such a succession, as he highlighted Ferguson's undeniable part in grooming his protégés for life in front of the whiteboard.

“[They have] been coached and watched by one of the best managers — if not THE best — in the history of football,†said the LA Galaxy midfielder.

“When you have had that experience playing for United, when you have seen how Alex Ferguson watches players, coaches players and protects payers, that can only help you as a manager.â€
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