Congrats to Tom McIntyre, who you’ve chosen as your TTE player of the month for January.
He finished as the clear winner with 50% of the vote - ahead of Josh Laurent (32%), Lucas Joao (12%) and John Swift (6%). We had a particularly good set of candidates for this particular month; any of those four would have been worthy winners, while decent cases could have been made for three more that didn’t quite make the shortlist: Rafael, Michael Morrison and Andy Rinomhota.
McIntyre was excellent in January though, standing out mainly for his defensive reliability, but his offensive prowess came through a few times too as he ended the month with one goal (against Bournemouth on Friday) and one assist (for Joao at Huddersfield Town).
Results for the team have been particularly good with him in the side. Reading won three times and drew once in four Championship matches last month; McIntyre’s solidity alongside Morrison was key to that, and he’s shown himself to be a more than adequate replacement for the injured Liam Moore.
As this graphic from Five Yards illustrates, McIntyre’s dominance comes from him winning a very high percentage of both his ground and aerial duels:
The only player to be on the pitch for every minute in the Championship and FA Cup last month, McIntyre is currently enjoying his most extensive run in the side: eight straight 90-minute appearances going back to Boxing Day. His previous best was a four-match stint of 90-minute appearances in the ‘Project Restart’ portion of last season.
Both the July 2020 and Winter 2020/21 runs in the first team have featured a centre-back partnership with Morrison. The duo played together in defence four times last summer and four times in January - after McIntyre moved over to his preferred position following a brief stint at left back in Omar Richards’ temporary absence.
Those eight games have been impressive for Reading: five wins, two draws and a loss; five clean sheets, four goals conceded. Simply put, when Reading give McIntyre a run in the first team, results follow. For me, it’s evidence enough that - although he’s still quite young and has only played 1,595 minutes of Championship football since his debut in late 2018 (equivalent to about 18 full matches) - he’s already a mature, reliable presence.
He doesn’t just offer defensive benefits though. McIntyre is every inch the modern centre back: comfortable in possession when playing out from the back under pressure and positive in wanting to move the ball forward. I’ve long been an admirer of his fondness for charging upfield with the ball at his feet, but he’s also adept at picking out a runner with a pass over the top:
I’m particularly happy that I can say all of these nice things about McIntyre because, as of the last time I properly wrote about him (in the mid-season player reviews), he was having a pretty frustrating campaign. When that was published on December 23 (a few days before his eight-game run began), it looked like his appearances would be restricted to bit-part roles in midfield - unless something big changed to give him a chance in defence.
Moore’s injury did just that, and Richards’ return ensured McIntyre would be playing in his preferred role - not stuck at left back like he was for the Luton (league) and Swansea games. McIntyre’s used his opportunity to stake a big claim for regular football for the rest of the season.
Now he just needs a new contract.
2020/21 player of the month winners
September: Lucas Joao
October: Lucas Joao
November: Omar Richards
December: Josh Laurent
January: Tom McIntyre