Thursday 14 December 2017

Revitalised Ince hails McClaren effect after rocking Baggies

West Brom 1 Derby County 2

Thomas Ince of Derby County celebrates after the full time whistle (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Thomas Ince of Derby County celebrates after the full time whistle (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

John Percy

Tom Ince has heard all the stories from his father, Paul, about how it feels to win the FA Cup.

And, while Ince Jnr's hopes of climbing the Wembley steps this season may be remote, he provided the magic to inspire Derby County towards a deserved upset.

The 24-year-old winger has been sparked into life by the reappointment of manager Steve McClaren and his winner from a wonderfully executed free-kick was a reminder of his undoubted ability. He now has eight goals since McClaren returned in October.

"I've heard a few stories about the old FA Cup from my dad," said Ince. "Finals and all that and 'I've won the FA Cup' all the time.

"These are bonus games for us and whoever we get in the next round, we'll be ready. The way we play under the manager suits me down to the ground and I'm enjoying my football and playing with a smile on my face.

"He allows me to express myself, whereas in previous stints in the Premier League I wasn't given that licence."

Ince's strike completed a remarkable turnaround for the Championship team, after falling behind to Matt Phillips' composed finish. Darren Bent's equaliser six minutes into the second half was swiftly followed by Ince's set-piece and Derby defended resolutely to survive a late Albion bombardment.

It means McClaren has now won 10 games in 15 since his return and he is reviving his reputation again after that difficult spell at Newcastle. He was also asked to wave at the 5,300 travelling fans towards the end here, a clear sign that the bad blood over his sacking in May 2015 is over.

"Wherever you have success, it has got to be a good fit and if it is not a good fit, it doesn't mean you are a bad manager," he said.

"We were a good fit before and, through circumstances, we parted from that and coming back was always a test.

"Football is a fickle business, especially in management and we know you are neither great or that bad. You are always somewhere in the middle and you've got to keep level-headed."

Meanwhile, Tony Pulis will still be struggling to comprehend how his team failed to force at least a replay and is now focusing on squad strengthening. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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