By Eamonn Moore and Jack Gaughan
An Ince Perfect start, as newspaper headlines read. It is hard to disagree and has become something of a habitual ritual at the beginning of a season in recent years. So strange for a club who were always renowned for being slow starters.
This time 12 months ago there was a slight stumble after two opening wins, but it is crucial that the Seasiders continue to hit the ground running. Not least to continue to show Matt Phillips’ ‘advisers’ that this is a team that will be difficult to topple, but that they can overcome the Leeds Uniteds of the division without the man, in the media at least, who makes them tick.
In reality, Blackpool fans know if he were to up sticks to Southampton before the end of the month (something I still see as far-fetched) then someone else will come the fore. It was Tom Ince last year. It could well be Alberto Noguera this. In his pre-match press conference Ian Holloway spoke of wanting a ‘two-pronged’ attack with Ince and Phillips, but the way in which Pool are beginning to play – with a glut of midfield overindulgence – the new signings could be used as a floating playmaker. Afterall, Holloway likened Noguera to David Silva.
If Phillips is absent again Neil Warnock’s slightly rough and tumble defensive style will provide an important guide as to how Pool can play if their flying winger were to leave.
Naturally, a lot of the focus over the past few days has centered on Matt Phillips, but it was fellow winger Tom Ince who grabbed the headlines over the weekend, with Ollie revealing afterwards that BFC have also rejected an offer from an unnamed Premier League club for the ex Liverpool youngster:
‘There was interest in Tom Ince from a club last week. His dad wants him to stay with Blackpool, no matter what clubs might want to offer him. He thinks his son is in the right place.
‘Incey dealt with hearing the news of the offer in his own way – he went and scored two goals for me.
‘The truth is we had offers for two players last week – one for Matt Phillips and one for Tom Ince.
‘In both cases, I gave the players the information when I knew about it. Matt thought I didn’t tell him but he actually knew before I did.
‘It’s very simple really. There’s interest in our young lads but there aren`t opportunities for them to leave as we don’t want to sell them.
‘Until we agree an amount of money, club to club, then there’s no chance.’
Warnock, looking back on last year’s fixture, said: ‘I didn’t think we played too bad there, but I didn’t enjoy it. There were a lot of things missing that night.
‘I thought we did well to lose 1-0, if I’m honest. Looking at the night, I thought to myself: ‘It would be nice to come back next season with a proper team’.’
Blackpool Team News:
There will be changes to the side that beat Millwall 2-0 on Saturday. Tiago Gomes is behind the rest of the squad in terms of fitness and is likely to miss out with Angel Martinez the obvious replacement.
Isiah Osbourne is one who might be used away from Bloomfield Road more often. Scott Roberton could deputise.
Kevin Phillips has only just returned from injury so could find himself on the bench with Gary Taylor-Fletcher leading the line. That leaves the right wing up for grabs. Nouha Dicko is the obvious replacement.
Player to watch: Tom Ince
Two goals on Saturday: not a bad way to keep going where you left off last season. And all amid transfer bids and speculation. He didn’t sulk, he’s being advised well, and continues to produce excellent displays.
Leeds United Team News:
Paul Green will be out with a knee injury sustained in the 1-0 win against Wolves.
El Hadji Diouf and Danny Pugh are vying to replace him.
Player to watch: El-Hadji Diouf
If the Senegalese international plays, expect him to feed on the boos from the crowd and look to pull out every trick in the book to guide his new side to victory.
There were some tasty scenes between the midfielder and ‘Pool players last season when Diouf wore Doncaster’s colours.
Match Facts & Stats
Leeds have won 14 and Blackpool 13 of their 38 league clashes since 1920.
Leeds have won only one of their last 10 league trips to Bloomfield Road, and have not won there in 45 years.
Ian Holloway’s side were the second highest home scorers in the Championship last term (42 goals).
Gary Taylor-Fletcher is set to make his 200th appearance in a Blackpool shirt.
Three points here will give Leeds their 500th away win in league football.
Saturday August 25, 2012
Ipswich Town (H)