Tom Ince – The Low-down

Tom Ince (20) signed for Blackpool from Liverpool in the summer of 2011 and in just over a year he has grown with each game he has played and is now one of Blackpool’s key attacking weapons. In his first season he scored 8 goals and made 8 assists in 41 appearances. This season he already has 13 goals, 9 assists in 20 league appearances.

Goal & Assist Analysis

The following two diagrams chart Ince’s goals and assists from this season and the location they occurred in relation to the opposition goal.

Tom Ince - Goals
Tom Ince – Goals 2012/13

From the diagram you can see that only two of his goals have been scored from outside the box, with the majority of the goals being struck from central areas (please note that he has three penalties in his tally). All but one of his goals were scored with his left foot.

Tom Ince - Assists
Tom Ince – Assists 2012/13

What is interesting here is that he tends to start games lined up on the wide right of Blackpool’s forward line, however, 36%  of his goals and assists come from the left hand side. This is partly due to him being left footed, but also potentially down to him being rotated from the right to left in games. It’s perhaps the dynamic of a switch that catches defenders cold and not picking him up as he switches sides as much as it is natural for him to play on the left hand side.

Starting out

Upon joining the club the first impressions of Ince were of a young player with pace and a trick, but often prone to running with his head down, narrowing his field of vision. He takes his place in Blackpool’s 4-3-3 as one of the two wide forwards, normally as an inverted winger on the right. His first touch was initially an issue, but he has clearly worked hard on this and he is only prone to the odd error. His passing lacks a little consistency, both in range and execution however, his game isn’t necessarily based on his passing ability.

Tricky Customer?

He has good acceleration and sustains his pace well to beat men. His tricks can be a little readable and he could do with adding more subtlety and disguise to elevate his one v one play. However, he clearly enjoys to engage his direct opponent in order to beat him. He seeks to drift off the right flank across the edge of the box looking either for short combinations with team mates or to get away early shots, normally curling left to right. On the evidence of his goals he can hit powerful shots as well as placing the ball with control and accuracy. This is allied to reliable delivery from wide free kicks, corners and crossing from open play. He could, however, do with developing more variety to his delivery. Perhaps developing his pace of delivery and craft to move the ball with more bias towards the end of its flight.

It appears that he is mentally strong and doesn’t tend to lose his composure the closer he gets to the opposition goal. Generally speaking he is a team player, willing to track back and support in defence. However, his work back towards his own goal could be sharper and smarter. He could also do with increasing his field of vision to appreciate his options earlier which will also help with his decision-making. In addition to settling in to either wide forward position and has even dropped deeper and centrally at times and realistically he could also be deployed as a very effective attacking left back.

Holding back

One area of his game that had been detrimental to his development and the flow of the team is the upon receiving the ball. He had a habit of turning back away from goal in order to protect the ball from the opponent. On the face of it this isn’t necessarily a bad move, however, it appeared totally instinctive. What made it worse is that he did it even when not being marked, leading to attacks slowing down and removing his vision from his attacking space. This may well be a consequence of being deployed as an inverted winger and not being comfortable letting the ball run across his body onto his weaker right foot. However, this season he has tended to do this less often and in doing so, he is becoming a little more direct in his attacking play and causing even more stress for the opposition.

What now?

He has now represented the England Under 21 squad and he was touted for a move last summer with one club submitting a formal offer for him. However, his father is his mentor and had been working with Ian Holloway to exploit his son’s potential. Now Holloway has moved on, it’s likely that he’ll also leave. Overall, his development is on a rapidly ascending trajectory and arguably he has outgrown this Blackpool side. He needs to be playing in the Premier League to aid his development and if the touted move to Liverpool comes off that may well be excellent for both parties (the player and the buying club), especially given the price that is being mentioned. However, wherever he goes it’s important that he gets game time. Any length of time on a bench will only serve to hold him back.

If indeed he is embarking on his final games for Blackpool then it truly has been a pleasure to see such a young talent develop so rapidly and TD can only wish him the best for the future.

21 thoughts on “Tom Ince – The Low-down”

  1. You said the price Liverpool are willing to pay for Ince is supposedly good for both parties? Aren’t they offering only 4 million? Wouldn’t that be a bargain for a club like Liverpool, rather for any premier League Club?

    1. Agreed. I would like to think we would get at least 6 million. I think anything less would be a major disappointment.

      Although I still think we should aim to keep him until the end of the season. For one he is unlikely to get regular game time at Liverpool and will probably be mostly on the bench and if he stays until the end of the season he may be able to help us go up. If not he can leave and start a brand new season at another club and if we go up he will have more insensitive to stay. So I think we should try our hardest to get him to stay until the end of the season because I think it would be the best option for both parties. Tom will get more first team experience and may be able to go up with us and get regular first team action in the premier league and if not he can leave at the end of the season.

      1. I’d like him to stay, but if he gets game time at Liverpool he’s best moving now for his career. Rodgers has shown that he trusts youth, so I’d expect him to play right away.

        I suppose we must wait to see what happens.

      2. Blackpool won’t get 6mil regardless. The most they’ll get is 4mil because 35% of the fee goes to Liverpool and nobody is going to pay over 6mil for him. Liverpool are paying 4mil because they get the 35% off the top.

    2. Sorry, I’ve clarified what I meant with that statement. I meant that it would be good for the player and Liverpool. Not a great price for Blackpool really given some of the touted figures for Zaha. However, I suppose it’s a case of seeing what happens. The 35% sell on fee will harm any real value.

      You’re absolutely right, it would be a bargain, however, any other club than Liverpool would have to pay £6/7 million.

  2. I think one of the reasons he left us in the first place was that he couldn’t be guaranteed first team football under Dalglish, or at least a place in the first team squad anyway.

    Rodgers is different though, and isn’t scared of putting younger players in the team. This could be why he’d come back to us, and i’d imagine we’d put add ons in the transfer to make up the 35% or more if he is a success in the future.

    1. I believe, according to Comolli, that his initial objection was life under Hodgson.

      It was at that point he wouldn’t sign a new contract which would have put him on the highest wage outside the 1st team.

      He wasn’t ready for 1st team footy back then but was promised a loan out if that was the case, but he chose to run down his contract, hence the sale to Blackpool with the sell on clause.

      Dalglish clearly wasn’t about to play him either.

      Good buy back for Liverpool who likely won’t attract the £10+ type youngsters like Moses, Hughes etc.

      Also a real Rodgers type player = pace and attacking. I like what he wants to do but he’s making a right pigs ear of our midfield right now.
      Anyhow, enough of that on a TD site.

      Good writing by the way.

  3. I don’t watch the Championship but did watch Ince in the reserves before he left us and thought he was a decent prospect. With his stats, I’m not sure what valuations are based on when considering the fact that Zaha plays in a similar role but is somehow rated at +£20m with his far inferior stats.

    1. Eitherways, with Sturridge coming in, he does what Ince does but better ,so Ince would have to accept being a squad player, which he clearly does not want to be at this stage of his career.

      Rodgers would be better off bringing in another centre-forward and giving Assaidi some time as a squad player. I wouldn’t be upset at Ince arriving also though…

  4. If Liverpool sign Ince I’m not sure he’s going straight into the first team. More a sub and Europa League starter for me at the moment.

    I question his tracking back. If the Huddersfield game is an example it’s very half-assed and often a token response to losing the ball.

    His general play is not good enough for the top half of the Prem in my opinion. Too much shilly-shallying around, almost Arsenal syndrome, trying to walk the ball into the net.

    Think he definitely needs to stay till at least summer or risk moving too early and spoiling his career like Charlie, DJ etc, although they were a lot older when they moved. He’ll likely have to bulk up too. When did you last see such a skinny little thing in the Prem?

    So, for me, he’s still at the great potential stage…

    1. @Malcolm.. last time i saw such a ‘skinny thing’ in the prem was Ronaldo, and we all know how that turned out..

  5. I dont like Ince. I dont like BR for looking at him.

    Im no expert, and im Irish so not really a huge fan, but he looks like a Championship player.

  6. Ince is entitled to £600k of any deal and Liverpool are entitled to 35% so in order for Blackpool to net £6m someone will have to pay in excess of £10m which seems unlikely. Ince’s contract amounts to a buy back clause in disguise. Had he signed for Liverpool he would have cost more than 1.5m per year based on commoli’s comments last year. Add the £250k Liverpool received in a transfer fee then it’s almost a break even deal where Blackpool have taken all of the financial risks. Yet another example of the big clubs manipulating the smaller ones

  7. Just going to add an impartial view to the mix…Why Paul Ince the manager should court the highest fee, but Paul Ince the Dad might not want to…

    Psychology of football blog: Papa or Gaffer? Paul Ince’s Role Conflict – New football psychology blog #bfc #tangerines

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