Top of the league and we’re having a laugh… Nobody would have imagined the start the Royals have had so far this season; it may be early days, but let’s enjoy it while it lasts!
Naby Sarr scored on his debut to give Reading a 1-0 victory at Millwall but manager Paul Ince felt it should have been more comfortable in the final stages. Ince praised his team after the victory, with all the side throwing their bodies in when they needed to, but he also wasn’t happy with the chances his side missed. He spoke to the official club website and Berkshire Live.
Ince on the victory
“This is a tough place to come to. Our fans were great and we knew if we could quieten the home fans, that would work in our favour.
“And we totally deserved to win the game. Defensively, we were awesome – we threw our bodies in there when we needed to. These players are running through brick walls for each other. And I’m pleased with the performance.
“And yet I’ve just had a go at the players because we should have won that game 2-0 or 3-0. Two one-on-ones and we’ve got to score, kill the game. When you get those clear-cut chances that we had today, you’ve got to put teams to bed.
“Instead, they end up throwing balls into the box and you just don’t know where they’re going to bounce or drop, it becomes a lottery. You end up hanging on for dear life because we weren’t ruthless. And we could have come away with a 1-1 today - and we would have been devastated.
“We knew what was coming from Millwall, we prepared for it all week. But at 1-0, subconsciously you drop deeper when you’re under the cosh from a team like Millwall. So we needed that threat on the counter attack. And we had that threat - and to create those two chances it was lovely football. We should have been 3-0 and we would have been cruising.
“But other than that, we were great from back to front. Overall, it’s great to come to a place like this and come away with a result.
“It’s our first away win, it’s another clean sheet and it’s another three points. Today is a positive day for us, the fans and everyone at the club.”
Ince on being top of the league
“The fans have endured a hard few years at this club, so being top of the table is great for them. And it’s still really, really tough – look at the players we’ve lost, the embargo in place, the bench which still had three or four kids on there.
“We’ve got a threadbare squad and the fans know that - so that’s what makes this start so special. And the fans deserve that little bit of joy going home tonight. It’s good to give them that.
“But of course it means absolutely nothing. I am not interested in it one bit. It doesn’t matter. And I certainly won’t get carried away after six or seven games. I’m just focused on getting as many points as we can and staying in this league.
“My job is to make sure we keep our feet on the ground. We’ve got a long, long way to go. We want to stay in this league, that’s our aim.
“The fans have suffered. But they’ve stuck with us. And they should enjoy it while they can. I’m sure they never envisaged we’d be where we are after six games. So let them enjoy that.
“But that’s for them. Not us. We’ll keep our feet on the ground.”
Ince on the chances missed by Hendrick and Long
“We’ve got to [score]. You can’t miss them. Hendrick’s chance was when we were under the cosh. You need that break - it was great play and it would have been game over, but we didn’t do it and could easily have just got a point out of it so I’m not happy about that.”
Ince on Naby Sarr’s debut
“He will probably say it wasn’t worth the wait because he’s been here the past four weeks but it shows what type of person he is. We’ve all been waiting to get the deal done. He’s been more frustrated than I could tell you. It’s not nice for something who is training Monday to Friday but can’t play on the Saturday. It’s the worst nightmare.
“But to be fair to him, he has been patient and frustrated and probably thought it wasn’t going to happen, but when I got the news I was over the moon because I earmarked this game for him. It was the perfect game for him. He was exceptional for us and got the winner which was nice.
“Hutchinson - broken nose - that’s what it’s all about. It’s what we are about. We’re fighting to win games. Enjoy where we are at the moment, but my remit is to just be competitive.
Ince on Tuesday’s game against Sheffield United
“I’m not having this first v second. I know how it works. We’re still down to our bare bones. I watched their game at Luton on Friday night and they’re a very good outfit. You expect them to be up there with their resources.
“We just have to go again and keep going. Sir Alex Ferguson always said the season doesn’t start until March, so let’s see where we are then. I’m just pleased for the fans and the fact they can say tonight we’re top of the league. It’s for them.
“We keep our feet on the ground, get to 40 points and see where we go from there.”