TALENTED TOM HAS TO SHOW UP MORE THANTHIS
TOM Ince is patently a good player. But, until he stops the Houdini impersonation, he will never be a great one.
Three weeks ago, the 23-year-old tore Bristol City to shreds with a virtuoso hat-trick that showcased just why Inter Milan were once in hot pursuit. Pace, trickery, lethal finishing off both feet – the quality was Premier League class.
That was followed by a winner against Leeds, then a late leveller at Fulham. Yet, against Boro last weekend, Ince was about as bright as a burnt-out Christmas light.
Tiredness after a taxing festive period? Maybe, but only if you ignore the fact that this tale of purple patch followed by vanishing act has been a feature of Ince’s entire career.
Speaking to a colleague from Derby after the match, I asked if he didn’t get frustrated. “Oh, massively,” he said. “But you just have to accept it and hope he has a good one.”
That’s fair enough. Georgi Kinkladze, Matt Le Tissier, Paolo Di Canio – the game has a rich history of mercurial magicians whose ability to get supporters on their feet was matched only by their tendency to leave them scratching their heads.
They are the stuff of misty-eyed memories but not of England honours or top Premier League sides.
Ince has the class to achieve both, yet lacks the consistency to merit a place in a top-flight side.
As a youngster, such deficiencies were understandable. At almost 24, they are not. If Ince wants to be remembered as more than a talented luxury player, he needs to turn up more often.
INCE: Mr Inconsistency