As we’re pretty much halfway through the season and the league campaign is soon to restart, we’re checking in on what you make of the job Paul Ince is doing in the dugout.
The last time we asked - late September - you gave him a stonkingly good average of 4.26/5. That reflected an impressive start to 2022/23; with around 20% of the season complete he’d put the Royals in the top six. Performances and results were far outstripping pre-season expectations of a miserable, relegation-battling campaign.
Fast-forward a few months and the outlook appears good, albeit not as excellent as before. The second block of Reading’s campaign was a drop-off, with the Royals slipping from the top six into mid-table. It certainly wasn’t a collapse though, and going into the World Cup break in 12th was a very respectable achievement indeed.
Since the last approval rating, Reading have played 11 games and picked up exactly 11 points. That breaks down to three wins, two draws and six defeats - equivalent to form putting us 21st if the league table were based solely on this period.
Performances haven’t been disastrously bad, but they’ve certainly been at a lower standard than before the first international break. Reading have lacked that extra bit of stubbornness and resolve which was so identifiable in the early weeks, often being edged out in games rather than edging out the opposition. There have been some high points, such as the 1-1 draw at home to Norwich City and the comeback win at Hull City, but also some real stinkers: West Bromwich Albion (H), the collapse at Swansea City, Preston North End (H) and Watford (A).
In Ince’s defence he’s had to make do with a number of injuries at the back. Naby Sarr, Sam Hutchinson and Tom McIntyre are among those whose absences have been felt, and although Amadou Mbengue has stepped up admirably, Reading have still suffered from a lack of experience and authority at centre back.
Reading have had attacking problems too, having only scored seven goals from open play in the last 11 games, with none coming in November’s four matches. There’s less of an excuse here with regards to player availability, given that the Royals have had Shane Long, Andy Carroll, Yakou Meite and Lucas Joao available for some time now. It’s hard to argue that the gaffer is getting the most out of them.
So how do you assess Paul Ince’s performance overall? Have your say in the poll below. If it doesn’t display on your device, use this link right here.