Recently we asked you to grade the job Paul Ince is doing in the Reading hot seat, and it’s safe to say that you’re still happy with him. Ince secured an average of 3.61/5, with the vast majority of you going for either 3/5 (36.3%) or 4/5 (51.2%). Otherwise, just one person went for 1/5 (hi Veljko), two for 2/5 and seven for 5/5.
3.61 is slap bang in the middle of the approval scores we’d previously seen for Ince. After an opening grade of 3.00/5 in June, when he’d kept Reading up but without inspiring a huge amount of long-term confidence in the process, you gave him 4.26 in September when Reading were unexpectedly riding high in the Championship. So, with that in mind, 3.61 is about halfway between ‘fans are agnostic about Ince’ and ‘fans really like Ince’.
For some historical context we’ve seen 3.61 before - when Steve Clarke was doing well as Reading manager in November 2015. Reading had started the season well and were pushing for promotion, but a drop-off in form and performances had meant a slip from second to eighth. A few days later, it emerged that Clarke was in talks for the Fulham job.
The December 2022 rating is also very similar to one posted by Veljko Paunovic. Ince’s predecessor took 3.59 in May 2021 - again when Reading had been in the running for promotion, only to eventually drop off.
The trend is clear - and could fit the Reading of 2022/23 when you consider how things started so brightly for us, only for results to fade after the first international break. Ince (and everyone else of course) will be keen for him to avoid a similar fate to Clarke and Paunovic - the latter was sacked the following month while the latter’s standing crumbled in his second season.
As far as I’m aware, TTE Approval Ratings results have no magical powers that allow them to literally predict the future (although that’d be one hell of a hook to drum up interest). Perhaps Ince’s score landing in curiously similar territory to Clarke in November 2015 and Pauno in May 2021 is a sign of things to come - that Reading’s form will continue to slide, as will confidence in Ince. Perhaps not.
There’s good reason to think Reading will be able to turn things around in the next block of games. The last period was a modest deterioration - not a collapse - so there’s no need for extensive surgery on the first team. Add in some players returning from injury, particularly at the back, and results should improve.
We’ll be back with another approval rating in the New Year (probably February) to check back in on Ince, as well as Dai Yongge. He also came out of September’s poll very well.