With safety confirmed, the Royals wanted to end the season on a high in front of our fans but it wasn’t to be with a 1-0 defeat against West Bromwich Albion at the SCL Stadium. Reading will finish the season in 21st, after a late Karlan Grant goal, but with nothing to play for, for either side, it was a pretty poor contest all round.
Interim manager Paul Ince thanked the fans for their continued support in what has been a tough season. He spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live.
Ince on the defeat
“It was an evenly balanced game; in the first half we had some really good chances with Terell Thomas and Lucas Joao… it was maybe a bit of an end-of-season game where both teams were safe.
“I wanted to get a result for the fans. In these last two months they have been fantastic and there was a great crowd again today. You want to win your last home game to send them home feeling positive.
“Danny Drinkwater is in there disappointed… but he has been outstanding for me since I’ve been here – honestly, a leader, the way he plays, leading by example.
“If it’d happened four weeks ago, I might have felt different! But I told him not to be too down – he has been brilliant. The lads love him and he’s been great for the club. He has been a major part of helping the club stay in the Championship.
“I actually enjoyed the game – it was just the result that was disappointing for us all.
“The main objective has been achieved – to keep the team in the league. But of course you don’t want to lose a game that you don’t deserve to lose!”
Ince on the fans
“It is always important to thank the fans. Without them, there’s no football. We saw that in the pandemic!
“As the manager of Reading, the fans have been fantastic to me. They have supported the team, been the 12th man, going up to Sheffield and Barnsley in massive numbers… they have kept the faith.
“You could sense at times when there was a bit of apprehension with the fans and the way we play – you don’t want to be in a situation where you’re struggling to stay in the league.
“But they have carried us through. That goes without saying. They’ve been absolutely fantastic for us and hopefully we’ve given them some good moments. Some scary ones as well! 2-1 at Sheffield United, 4-4 against Swansea here… it has been exciting.
“People are starting to talk about Reading again. That’s important; the club needs an identity, a focus. It’s nice to see that people know what the club is about. There’s a long way to go and there’s a lot to build. And we need the fans along with us.”
Ince on meeting owner Dai Yongge
“It’ll be this week. It’s got to be a situation where the club agrees to the same path I want to be on. Next season will be tough so there is a lot of work to be done even before pre-season. Everything has to be put in place quickly. As soon as the games finish, there is a lot of work to be done.”
Ince on starting Terell Thomas
“We had no choice but to play him - Yiadom was playing with a fractured foot over the past three or four weeks so that shows a lot about his character. He shouldn’t have been playing but he was having injections and he’s got games with Ghana in June and the World Cup too so to do what he did was fighting for the cause.
“That shows the mentality and culture of the players you want in this club. We knew all along he wouldn’t start.”
Ince on Thomas’ debut
“He did very well. He’s not played since the end of January - apart from a few under-23 games - but to go and play right-back in the way he did was exceptional.”
Ince on 8 out of the starting 11 out of contract next season
“It’s hard to see if any of the eight will be here next season. Players need to know what they’re doing. The club needs to know who is going to be the manager, the fans need to know who is going to be the manager - I can’t make decisions on players if I’m not going to be here myself.
“I need to ascertain if I’m going to be here first before saying we need to build a project over three or four years. It has to be that way, whoever is in charge. Next season will be tough but if there is a siege mentality, then we will be fine.”
Ince on finishing with a win at Luton
“It would be nice to. Nathan Jones has done a fantastic job but it’s important we end on a high. We’re down to the bare bones but that won’t change. We were sloppy today in the final third so there is a lot to work on. We’ll go there, relaxed and try to win.”
Ince on Yakou Meite
“He had a bad injury so it is a long, long way back to full fitness. That’s why we have to be careful with him. You can’t just throw him in for 90 minutes. He’ll get some game time that’s for sure [at Luton].”