Well that wasn’t very fun, was it? So often this season we’ve picked up points in games that we just wouldn’t have done last season, but Friday night was like watching Reading from 18 months ago. No ideas, no vigour, no aggression - and a deserved loss.
I usually pick out two or three big talking points from each game, as you know. But Friday didn't really conjure up any talking points, it was just flat from the get-go and Reading never got going.
We showed a bit of fire in the second half once we got the equaliser, but some poor defending ended any hopes of any points.
Here’s how the fans reacted to the loss...
Paul Ince was quick to criticise the schedule after the game, saying his players look tired and sloppy. That was always going to happen if we lost the game. And part of that is true.
The players did look tired. But Mamadou Loum and Tom McIntyre had midweek off, while Ince could’ve also started Tyrese Fornah, Nesta Guinness-Walker, Lucas Joao or Shane Long who haven’t been starting recently. But instead he chose to stick with the likes of Yakou Meite, Andy Carroll and Jeff Hendrick.
When the triple sub was made in the second half we saw an uplift. So it would’ve been interesting to see how we’d have gone with those players on from the start.
Here’s what the fans had to say about Ince’s comments on team selection...
I miss the start of the year playing decent football, pressing teams and hitting fast counter attacks. Ever since carroll has came along we have completely changed styles to a boring nothing but hoofball team.. ince serious needs to be questioned tactically every week #readingfc— ᴀ (@Arch33s) November 4, 2022
Ince's post match comments irk me a little bit. Of course the first XI is tired, Preston in the same boat. I believe in rotation, no reason why Hendrick couldn't have sat out, Carroll and Meite, too. NGW available for fresh legs on the left. Ince actually has options. #readingfc— Anthony Kendrick (@AJKendrick) November 5, 2022
Poor again tonight. 3 games in 6 days doesn't help but thought Ince got the team selection wrong tonight #readingfc— Ryan (@Ryan1871_) November 4, 2022
No doubt Paul Ince has done some good things since taking over as manager earlier this year and has definitely grown on me as a person. I do continue to worry about him tactically though, numerous times I believe he’s got it wrong which have lead to losing games. #readingfc— Sam Richards (@SammyRich89) November 5, 2022
Not enough responsibility being taken by Ince for my liking.— Adam GC Jones (@ajonesrfc) November 4, 2022
He’s done some decent things this season and the players have to take some responsibility but he picked the wrong XI tonight. #readingfc https://t.co/2jiJwdDKPn
Paul Ince has to take a lot of the blame tonight. Played so negatively for the majority of the game, and Meite and Carroll really don’t work well together up top. Hope he makes some changes for the Watford game. #readingfc— Joel (@Jdh72Joel) November 4, 2022
Paul Ince has to shoulder a lot of the blame for tonight. Played into Preston's hands. #readingfc— Melvir (@Melvir88) November 4, 2022
Not good enough unfortunately. Mbengue dropped when he’s been one of our best players recently? Ince has some questions to answer and needs to turn this around very quickly as we are beginning to slide down the table #readingfc— James Grant (@jamesgrant1992) November 4, 2022
Let’s be honest, the performance was dross. Apart from a small spell in the second half, we were really flat and didn’t deserve to get anything from the game.
Preston were good, they’re defensively organised and can keep the ball well. But we always have to look at ourselves and how we could’ve done better. And we didn’t imprint ourselves on the game at all.
We were blunt in attack and pretty poor defensively too. Preston’s second goal in particular was awful.
The fans were not happy with the performance, as you can tell...
Worst performance of the season by an absolute mile. Weren’t interested from the first minute there. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) November 4, 2022
Well that was a load of rubbish #readingfc. Preston were completely uninspiring but brilliantly organised, and we need to get much better at breaking those types of gritty teams down. A really flat performance that puts a bit of pressure on the next two games now.— Matt Williams (@mattwilliams100) November 4, 2022
We got back into the game, had a “5 minute spell” then sat back again.— Jamie Hodder (@Jamie_Hodder21) November 4, 2022
We deserved nothing. Quicker we can get to the World Cup break the better. We gotta get players back fit and go again.
Terrible. Terrible performance. Furious. #ReadingFC
Holmes outmuscled with ease. Mcintyre looking like he's never played in defence before. Woeful.— Ben Waite (@etiawneb) November 4, 2022
Gone from looking like contenders to the serious relegation side we expected in a matter of weeks. #ReadingFC
Let’s be honest this team doesn’t have a midfield at all. Tonight no defence either… #readingfc— HSN (@MHA_92_) November 4, 2022
World Cup break couldn't come at a better time for us. We are a mess. Terrible performances again & again, we need points. #readingfc— Tom (@TomMoore0506) November 5, 2022
Absolutely nothing performance. If Ince doesn't do anything we really really struggle. Long on for Carroll for me.we have to start pressing them. Turgid stuff so far #readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) November 4, 2022
Roll on Sarr and Hutchinson coming back ASAP to tighten up this shambolic defence. #ReadingFC— Milo (@MiloRoyal1871) November 4, 2022
Been some very off performances today we are making Ched Evans look like Haaland #ReadingFC— Chris Swift (@swifty1871) November 4, 2022
A poor performance that stemmed from a poor team selection from Ince. The ‘tiredness’ excuse doesn’t quite wash when you’ve got Guinness-Walker, Fornah, Joao and Long on the bench who are all fresh as a daisy.
There was an opportunity to rejig the starting lineup but Ince decided not to take it. That wasn’t the only problem of course - you still expect the players to show something, anything. But it was still a nothing performance.
Next up, Watford. *gulp*.