All in all it’s been a trio of good results for the Rams this week. A solid draw against a very good Brighton team, an excellent performance against a very ordinary Bristol City side and a gutsy, battling away win at Ipswich to round it off.
The most significant, and maybe surprising, thing to come out of the last three games is the reawakening of Tom Ince. When he arrived at the club on loan almost a year ago, he made such an immediate impact by scoring 11 goals in his 18 appearances, as well as picking up numerous assists, that he was voted the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for April. So it was no surprise that the Rams chased after his permanent signature in the summer.
This season started quite slowly for Tom; he didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet until the seventh game of the season against Reading. More importantly, his form in general was not to the standard the Derby faithful were used to seeing. To add to this, and it seems to be becoming more of the norm with any football club these days, the fans seem to enjoy singling out one player who is not performing… Most recently it has been Tom Ince. Last season the captain, Richard Keogh, wore this tag, although it was possibly due to the noisy minority.
The consensus for wide players can be; “he’s not scoring in every game so he must be rubbish”,w or “well he was only playing for a contract last season so he’s a money grabbing so and so”. Yes, Tom Ince can be frustrating at times, and yes he still drifts in and out of games, but that is what you get with skilful, attacking players. His first goal last Tuesday night against Bristol City was a goal that could only be scored by players such as Tom as he ran in off the wing, beating three players to slot the ball in the bottom corner. For a team with promotion aspirations, players that are able to score goals like this are certainly necessary.
The footballing world also need to remember he is only 23 and still learning his trade. Indeed there are already signs of improvement to the defensive side to his game. If he continues to show his capabilities as a team player as well as a technically fantastic footballer, he could definitely make the cut in the Premier League. Not only did Tom score a hat trick against Bristol City, he also made a total of seven tackles, which was the most out of any Derby player on the night.
The wide man’s return to top form comes at a good time for Paul Clement’s side, who now stand second in the table. A win on Boxing Day against Fulham will give them 47 points at the halfway stage of the season. Equal that in the second half of the campaign, and it’ll probably be good enough to seal promotion. I personally think come April, Tom Ince will have played a huge part in the story of our season.