Paul Ince on Wolves v Leicester and Jamie Vardy for England
After discussing all things Manchester United, we also sat down with Paul Ince to talk through the upcoming Premier League weekend.
It features two of his former sides, with Wolves up against high-flyers Leicester City. He also revealed why he believes Gareth Southgate should give Jamie Vardy an England re-call ahead of the rescheduled Euro 2020.
On Wolves v Leicester City
It appears everybody’s got a soft spot for Wolves, and how Nuno Espirito Santo has got them playing football. I feel this campaign must be a turning point for them after missing out on European football last season.
This year they’ve spent a lot of money for a club like Wolves. They’ve brought in some very good players. When you look at the players they’ve brought in, they must finish in the top six for me. Nuno’s a very good manager who must be plying his trade in European competition. When you do spend that money, expectation is to qualify for Europe – be it through league position or a cup win.
I was in London for Wolves’ game against Crystal Palace last week and noticed they’ve taken a different approach, particularly at home this season. They’ve always been a counter-attacking team but they’ve had to change their style and become a more possession-based side.
Last season it was only really Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez and new Liverpool forward Diogo Jota getting forward for them. But against Palace they had four or five players getting forward into the box. Against Leicester I think he’ll revert to something we saw last season – I don’t think he’ll take the game to them. The Foxes rolled over Leeds United convincingly on Monday night and that could be something of concern for Nuno.
Both are teams who will aspire to get in Europe this campaign. Leicester were so close to getting into the Champions League last season and Brendan Rodgers will feel his side can get there. No one is really pulling up any trees. Man United are woeful, Man City haven’t got going whilst Liverpool have been just getting through games.
If you omit Man City and Liverpool, who are the best two sides in the league by some distance, there’s no reason why Leicester and Wolves can’t challenge for those top four spots.
In Jimenez and Leicester’s Jamie Vardy we’ve two great forwards on show and it bodes well for being a great battle. I think it’s going to be a tough game for Wolves. Watching Leicester against Leeds, they were very good. It’s about the strikers, it’s Jimenez v Vardy – that’s what it is. There’s going to be goals – that’s for sure. I think Wolves might just nick it. 2-1.
On Vardy for England
I think he’d be great for England if he came out of international retirement. I don’t think he gets enough accolades at all. People are quick to talk about Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Marcus Rashford. But what Vardy has done in his career is nothing short of amazing.
He’s 33-years-old and showing no signs of slowing down. He’s changed his game under Brendan Rodgers as well. We knew Leicester’s approach when they won the league – play it over the top and he’d make the run and get the goals time and time again, but under Rodgers he’s changed the way he plays. He’s had to adjust his game, but it’s suited him. He doesn’t have to make those runs all the time and that favours him physically and mentally.
He’s got better and better with time. Vardy’s a fine wine. His performance against Leeds optimised this with, his unselfishness and awareness of teammates. You can’t rely solely on Harry Kane for England. Is Dominic Calvert-Lewin the right alternative? No he’s not. Will he be that player in the future? Yes, his time will come.
Vardy would be a great alternative option for England if he was to come out of retirement. It was evident at the 2018 World Cup, if Kane’s having an off game, and he did have a couple in Russia, there wasn’t anyone there who was going to come on and replace him, and I think Vardy would be that man.
Kane is always going to start for England, but it’s always nice to have that competition – and I think Vardy is that competition. But is he happy to go to the Euro 2020 and be a number two to Harry Kane? I’m not sure. I’d love him to, but I’m not sure. At the end of the day, the most important thing is his club. That’s his bread and butter and at 33-years-old, he’s more entitled to make the decision not to represent England if it’s going to prolong his career at Leicester.
The reason he’s playing so well right now is because he’s getting his rest. Of course we’d all want him to come out of retirement because he’d be a great bonus for England to have at the Euros.
But at the same time he’s got to think about his own fitness. Football’s a short life and he’s got another life after football. If he’s physically and mentally drained travelling with England then he must decide whether it’s the right decision to come back out of retirement – after already making that decision once before.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication