In the Championship, not enough credit or attention is being placed on the job Paul Ince has done at Blackpool thus far this season. The Tangerines have a thin squad, and I tipped them to be relegated to League One this season. But Ince has been resourceful, playing players out of position and spurring on performances. Friday’s 1-1 draw at Huddersfield was improbable (especially because James Vaughan missed a late penalty) but yet another excellent result where Blackpool rode out waves of opposition attacks with good shape and organization as well as timely tactical changes.
Ince’s failure to get another shot in the Premier League based on a bad run with Blackburn five years ago is especially shocking when you consider the number of recycled managers in that period. Sol Campbell’s admission last week that he may have to leave England to manage should have been biting about institutional racism in the English game. Brian Deane, the former Leeds and Sheffield United star, has become a good coach in Norway and perhaps Campbell, like Deane, will have to leave England to get a coaching opportunity since, like Deane, he is black. As for Ince, I do not know what besides institutional racism is stopping Sunderland or some other club needing a manager from seriously considering him.
My sources indicate that MLS expansion will see Orlando City move up from USL PRO (the third division of soccer in the US) while Atlanta and Miami/Fort Lauderdale markets who have existing second division clubs are being vetted for potential expansion not involving the current clubs. I am told Atlanta is closer than Miami to happening, but that the league would like to be in both markets by 2018 at the latest.
Nigel Clough’s time is finally up at Derby. Honestly, I had come to the conclusion given the Rams inability to progress during Clough’s long tenure that due to his family association with the club he had a lifetime job. But one really bad week that began with a crushing defeat at Pride Park to Reading, continued with League Cup elimination and culminated in the loss of the Clough’s family derby to Nottingham Forest was too much for the owners.
Leeds United are off to a poor start under Brian McDermott but his Championship teams almost always started slow at Reading and came good. This is important for suffering fans of Leeds to note.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid side looked completely shell-shocked by Diego Costa’s early goal and it took the entrance of two former Spurs stars, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale to even remotely stem the tide. It seems hard to believe that Atletico Madrid now has full confidence to go into the Bernabeu and win.
Real Madrid looked poor in midweek against Elche. Isco started the season dynamically but his limitations and inexperience are now on full display.
In the Premier League, Jose Mourinho has finally figured it out and if he continues to play Juan Mata as a number 10, Oscar out wide and Fernando Torres up top, the sky is the limit for Chelsea. Tottenham on the other hand are really struggling to get over the hump against top sides. Defeated by Arsenal, outplayed and out thought at home by Chelsea in the second half, AVB’s project needs time and patience. The pressure building on Spurs thanks to high expectations is unnatural for the club and unfair to the new players and the manager.