MANCHESTER // The first time Roberto Mancini faced Paul Ince, he exited in disgrace.
Sent off and subsequently exiled by a six-week suspension, the Manchester City manager has reasons to remember his initial encounter with his immediate opponent tomorrow.
It is a reason why glances will be directed at the touchline when Ince's Notts County host Mancini's City in the FA Cup.
A visit to Meadow Lane is a trip down memory lane for the two managers. Their meeting in Italy in November 1995 was incendiary, to say the least. As Sampdoria's creator-in-chief, Mancini combined a silken touch with a short fuse.
Denied a penalty against Ince's Inter Milan, Mancini had flung his captain's armband to the ground and stormed off the pitch only to be coaxed back on by then-Sampdoria manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson.
A foul on Ince swiftly brought his contribution to an end, though serial displays of dissent did not help.
"I was angry with the referee. I protested with him a lot of times and after I protested five times, I was sent off."
After serving his lengthy ban Mancini exacted retribution in another encounter. "I nutmegged him," smiled the Italian. The triumph of finesse against force, of artistry against industry, was shortlived.
"He took me out afterwards," added Mancini. "He wanted revenge and he got his revenge. Roy Hodgson was [Inter] manager and he said to Ince: 'Stay near Mancini.'"
Fifteen years later, the amused Mancini made a whooshing sound, mimicking the noise of a pumped-up Ince charging into a collision. "It was incredible," said the Italian.
The brash Ince has been called many things, but shy and retiring are not among them.
Mancini admits Italian football proved a culture shock for the Londoner when he found himself in the more refined environment of Serie A.
"He used to play like when he was in England," added the City manager. "In Italy it was different. In Italy, every foul, the referee whistles. But he was a very good player."
Their latest encounter was more amiable. "I met him last Monday when we watched the reserve game between Liverpool and City," said Mancini.
They conversed in English. "I think he has forgotten his Italian," the City manager said. Regarding tomorrow's tie Mancini grinned: "I will have the last word," though he does not expect it to be easy against the side currently 18th in League One.
"We talked about the pitch; it is not good. I have watched Notts County and I think it will be a difficult game because they play very compact, they are aggressive and play long balls for the striker. I think it will be a difficult game."
Mancini does not anticipate making many changes. Indeed, with Adam Johnson sustaining an ankle injury in training and Mario Balotelli still sidelined, his attacking options are limited, though Edin Dzeko is available to make an FA Cup debut.
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