January was a very good month for Reading, and we want to know who you thought was the stand-out performer.
Three wins and a draw in the Championship left the Royals fifth in the table - seven points off Norwich City in first, three off second-placed Swansea City and seven ahead of Middlesbrough, who are hovering just outside the play-off places.
The first of those victories came at Huddersfield Town, with Lucas Joao’s double earning Reading their first comeback win of the season. ‘Revenge Month’ then began with the Royals comfortably seeing off Coventry City 3-0, and although there was a 0-0 blip at Preston North End, Reading put in arguably their best performance of the season to take Bournemouth apart 3-1 at the Madejski Stadium on Friday. The only downside was a 1-0 defeat at Luton Town, when a young Reading side was knocked out of the FA Cup.
The impressive league form is reflected in the average of our player ratings, which comes out at 6.16/10. That’s behind only October (6.46), but ahead of September (6.01), November (5.52) and December (5.68).
So which Reading player had the best January? We’ve picked out a four-man shortlist according to their average TTE ratings and inclusion in man-of-the-match awards; you can vote for your choice at the bottom of the article. In alphabetical order, here are your candidates...
Average rating: 6.75
Man of the match awards: 1st (Huddersfield Town away), 3rd (Coventry City home)
Reading’s top scorer returned to the first team with a goal-laden month. First came a terrific brace at Huddersfield Town - getting in behind for the first and leathering a shot home from range for the second. Joao added to his tally when he got in behind the Coventry City defence on the end of John Swift’s long pass (not to mention setting up Andy Rinomhota for the second) and made it four for January by dancing into the Bournemouth box and firing past Asmir Begovic.
The only major downside to his month was a missed penalty at Preston North End, when Joao put his effort wide. That would have given Reading a 100% January league record. It capped off a particularly frustrating afternoon for the forward, although he did bounce back well against the Cherries.
See ya!— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) January 29, 2021
Lucas João sends Steve Cook for a hot dog as he extends Reading's lead in style!
Watch live on Sky Sports Football now! pic.twitter.com/ySqoFWoaaq
Average rating: 7.00
Man of the match awards: 2nd (Huddersfield Town away), 3rd (Preston North End away), 2nd (Bournemouth home)
One of two players on this list with a 7/10 average - the joint-highest in the squad for January - Laurent had a particularly impressive January. He’s been imperious in midfield recently with especially eye-catching displays against Huddersfield Town and Bournemouth, and he even popped up with a goal against the latter. Given that Laurent took the December POTM award, you have to say he’s only getting better and better.
Average rating: 6.80
Man of the match awards: 3rd (Huddersfield Town away), 3rd (Luton Town away), 2nd (Coventry City home) 2nd (Preston North End away), 1st (Bournemouth home)
The only player on this list to have featured in every game for Reading in January (he played every available minute), McIntyre showed his consistency by getting into the top three in the MOTM voting for every fixture. He’s been a mature, reliable presence at the heart of the defence in Liam Moore’s absence and, at this rate, Pauno has a selection dilemma on who to pick when both are available.
He’s even been a goal threat too. McIntyre helped Reading draw level at Huddersfield with an accurate ball over the top for Joao, almost scored from a corner at Preston, was involved in the build-up for Laurent’s opener on Friday, and got the second himself with a poacher’s finish.
Average rating: 7.00
Man of the match awards: 1st (Coventry City home), 1st (Preston North End away)
Swifty’s picked up form impressively quickly after returning from injury in December. He played in all four of Reading’s league games and stood out in two, being named by you as Reading’s MOTM in the games against Coventry City and Preston North End. He was particularly good in the 3-0 win over the Sky Blues, picking out Joao for the opener and thundering a free kick in from distance. He was then the best of an underwhelming bunch in the 0-0 at Preston, playing the defence-splitting pass that led to Joao’s missed penalty.
Vote for your POTM
Those are your four candidates - you can select your favourite in the poll below. If it doesn’t display on your device, please go through this link.