Championship wrap: Liverpool switch would benefit Blackpool’s Ince
Championship wrap: James Pozzi looks at rumours linking Blackpool's Thomas Ince to Liverpool as Cardiff go top
Liverpool move would benefit a genuinely talented Ince
The Times today reported that talks between Blackpool winger Thomas Ince and his old club Liverpool are at an advanced stage over a £6m transfer in January. Having rejected a new contract at Anfield in favour of finding first-team football in 2010, Ince went on to Blackpool where he has emerged as The Seasiders’ star man, hitting an impressive 11 goals in 16 games this season. While eyebrows have been raised as to why Liverpool are paying to bring back a player they allowed to leave for nothing, it is certain that had he not left, Ince would now not be the player he is now: one certain of a great Premier League and England future.
Cardiff are now the real deal in the title race
Cardiff City held on to the top spot after picking up a resilient 1-1 away draw at an in-form Derby County. Having taken the lead through top scorer Heidar Helguson, Cardiff went down to 10 men after winger Craig Noone was sent off for two yellow cards. Theo Robinson later equalised for the home side, but the visitors impressively held on despite a Derby onslaught. The Welsh side now find themselves with 38 points, one clear of second-place Crystal Palace, after claiming first following a win at struggling Barnsley on Saturday. The hard to beat mentality implemented by boss Malky Mackay has paid dividends, as the Bluebirds are grinding out results after years of being the division’s nearly men. When the Malaysian owners purchased the club and controversially changed the club colours from the traditional blue to red, they claimed the colour red is one associated with sporting success. Since losing 5-4 at Charlton earlier this month, Cardiff have gone unbeaten in four, having tightened up and defeated Hull and Middlesbrough along the way.
Two in two shows the way ahead for Leeds
Leeds United picked up their second successive win on Tuesday night, with a hard fought 1-0 win against high-flying Leicester City at Elland Road. Having defeated the-then league leaders Crystal Palace three days before, a Luciano Becchio penalty on three minutes was enough for The Whites to ease any relegation woes and move up to 14th in the table. Fresh off the back of the GFH Capital takeover last Friday, the West Yorkshire club’s upturn in fortunes is surely no coincidence, having previously gone seven games without a win. Having now brought in loan signings Jerome Thomas from West Bromwich Albion and Alan Tate from Swansea City, the squad has greater depth and quality in areas lacking. Manager Neil Warnock said on Saturday that the season begins now. Having picked up maximum points since the start of the new era, the club’s long suffering fans now have optimism to add to their famously loyal support. The January transfer window will be an intriguing time.
McCarthy slowly turning Ipswich around
Having conceded 11 goals in recent drubbings, the size of Mick McCarthy’s task in turning around stricken Ipswich Town was laid bare for all to see. However, despite having the burden of eight loan players and a squad short on confidence, McCarthy picked up his third win since taking the Portman Road reigns last month, convincingly beating Sean O’Driscoll’s Nottingham Forest 3-1. Goals from Guirane N’Daw, Luke Hyam and Daryl Murphy ensured three points against a lacklustre Forest, whose solitary Dexter Blackstock goal was not enough. Forest fans will be alarmed at the continuing inconsistency as they lie in ninth place. It is also worth noting that McCarthy’s third win is one more than Paul Jewell had managed all season. While there is work to do, the signs of recovery are looking good under the ex-Ireland manager’s stewardship.
Boro back to winning ways after weekend Bristol blip
Middlesbrough got their promotion challenge back on track with a convincing 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town at The Riverside. After going down to a shock 3-1 home defeat to Bristol City at the weekend, Boro boss Tony Mowbray challenged his players to put away any doubts to bounce back, and this is exactly what they did against Simon Grayson’s men. A double from Australian striker Scott McDonald and a 67th-minute strike from Emmanuel Ledesma sealed victory in emphatic fashion, although it could easily have been more on the night. With the title race wide open to half a dozen teams, Middlesbrough remain in third but are just three points from top spot. They have a chance to take it on Friday night in their televised game away at a struggling Birmingham City.