I feel a little sorry for Paul Ince. Admittedly the multi-millionaire side of things will probably soften the blow for him, but the guy was a legend for England, and the sort of midfielder I yearned for Spurs to buy. When England were at one of their best periods (Euro 96, le Tournoi 97, France 98) he was at the hub of it.
Still, there’s no escaping the fact that Blackburn were in freefall, and weren’t about to improve under him. It’s all very well to hear ex-pros say he should have been given more time – I think the Blackburn faithful would beg to differ. More time would have seen them exit the league. As Wendy Ramos – and indeed the wondrous Martin Jol – found out, time is a commodity a Premiership manager simply does not have. The Premiership doesn’t work like that. There’s so much money flying around that relegation is an absolute disaster – as is failure to qualify for the Champs League, if the team is that way inclined. This is no secret, so Ince really ought not to use that as an excuse. No Prem manager ought to – if he’s so dense that he thinks that his club will wait to be relegated, just to suit his personal career prospects, he ought not to have been hired in the first place.
Time waits for no manager, but Heurelho Gomes might just have been saved by it. With no transfers until Jan, and no obvious replacement in goal, Gomes has had the chance to redeem himself and restore his reputation, and he’s fairly literally grabbed it with both hands. He’s certainly turned in some top-notch performances – his ability to pull off the spectacular saves has never really been in doubt, and he now looks a lot more assured coming for crosses, even if he does annoyingly tend to punch every time. However, it remains to be seen whether that will be enough to convince ‘Arry to stick with him until the season’s end. Bless him, I fear that Gomes could have another 29 consecutive faultless games, but if number 30 features another clanger that’ll be the one we all remember. Call it David James syndrome.