Why Manchester United Target & Ex-Liverpool Man Tom Ince Can Be England's Next No.10
While the England senior side were busy banging in 5 goals past accountants managed by a P.E teacher, the Under-21 side’s vital European Championship play-off game versus Serbia may have been overlooked.
While a 1-0 win obviously looks meagre compared to the senior side’s 5, the number of times we penetrated (steady on) the defence of the San Marinans/Marines/Marino-ites (who knows) was slightly worrying. The inclusion of technical players such as Alex Oxlade-Chambarlain and Tom Cleverley in recent internationals has been encouraging, but whether these players can unlock the best defences in the world is doubtful.
Now, I’m not saying that any of the Under-21 players can do this, but a definitive shift from a 4-4-2 to a modern day 4-2-3-1 is certainly encouraging at a younger level. The players who benefit most from this system, are the ‘three’ behind the lone striker, and you can see by looking at Germany with players such as Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze, and Marco Reus coming through the ranks, there may be a few more creative ‘number 10’s’ advancing through the youth set up in England.
In Friday night’s case at Carrow Road, these three players behind frontman Marvin Sordell were Raheem Stirling, Wilfred Zaha and Thomas Ince. Stirling has shown remarkable progress in his early career at Liverpool, but the 17-year-old’s rawness was apparent in the game in Norwich, with crucial decision making often letting him down. Crystal Palace’s Zaha – who started this game on the right – has an unpredictable nature about him, which should probably be worked on in the Championship and in the Under-21 side for a few years yet. Both natural wingers, Sterling and Zaha probably aren’t in contention for this role, but it is Blackpool’s Tom Ince who looks most like the player that every England fan would love in their team – a number 10.
Ince has the right mix of technical ability and physical attributes to compete with the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cleverley and even Wayne Rooney, for that number 10 role
Ince’s performance in the European Championship Play-off was definitely the most eye-catching. His willingness to drop deep to find space, and also run beyond the striker was a constant danger to the Serbians, and while chances were missed, the movement and link up play he showed were promising. The midfielder has lit up the championship over the last year (along with Matt Phillips who must also be looked out for) with stunning displays for club side Blackpool, and with 6 goals scored so far this season from a cultured left foot, he looks like continuing that form.
Tom started off his career at Liverpool where his Dad Paul played for two years in the 90’s, but unlike his Father was unable to make his mark at the Anfield club, dropping down a league to the free-flowing Championship side Blackpool. He combines an English style - pace, dribbling, direct running – with (things that separate him from players other English players’ à la Theo Walcott) a vision and first touch that make him an interesting option to any Premier League side, and Roy Hodgson. A move to a big club should come soon, and with this – as a call up from the Championship is unlikely - you would expect a call to the senior set up would come along with it. Capable of playing on either wing as well as behind the striker, the 19-year-old must of course first prove himself at a higher level, but looks to have the right mix of technical ability and physical attributes to compete with the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cleverley and even Wayne Rooney, for that number 10 role.
After all this talk of number 10’s and creativity in the younger England side, the game obviously finished with only the one goal being scored, a penalty from a centre-back after a foul on a full-back, good stuff.
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