Reading fans have few doubts over the job Paul Ince is doing as manager, and are increasingly pleased with owner Dai Yongge. That’s the conclusion from our latest approval ratings, which we ran this week to check back in on your feelings after the first block of 2022/23 matches.
First up, Paul Ince. This is the second time we’ve run an approval rating on him; he got exactly 3.00/5 in June after keeping Reading in the Championship. Now, after guiding the Royals to third after 10 matches of his second season in Berkshire, he’s up to a very impressive 4.26/5.
Literally none of you gave him a 1/5 or 2/5, with just 1.9% going for 3/5. Instead, the vast majority (69.5%) went with 4/5, leaving 28.6% on 5/5. That’s a ringing endorsement of how well he’s doing at the moment and he deserves the praise the Royals are defying the odds and predictions to sit in the top six after around 20% of the season.
For context, this is only the fifth time a Reading manager has beaten 4.00/5 in the Dai Yongge era. Jose Gomes took the same score (4.26) in May 2019 after keeping the Royals up, Mark Bowen hit 4.45 in November 2019, and Veljko Paunovic produced our third-best and outright best numbers in October 2020 and February 2021 respectively.
It’s a stunning turnaround in manager confidence given where Reading were in February this year. Ince has more than tripled Paunovic’s score - the lowest we ever recorded - despite himself being widely written off when he stepped into the dugout.
Speaking of turnarounds, Dai Yongge’s had one too. In tune with the Royals’ managers he came out with a record-low score in February (1.61) before improving in June (2.15), and has now shot up to 3.59/5.
Similar to the vote breakdown for Ince, few of you gave Dai one of the lowest scores: 1.9% went with 1/5 and 2.9% for 2/5. You were almost exactly evenly split between 3/5 (41.9%) and 4/5 (41%), although a respectable 12.4% opted for 5/5. Contrast this to February when 86.4% of you gave him a 1/5 or 2/5, and the improvement really hits home.
With 3.59, Dai’s now up into safer territory. While it’s not good enough to put him in the top five of his own scores, it’s not far off. The closest point of comparison is the 3.75/5 from February 2021, when Reading were in the middle of a promotion push but had failed to sign anyone the previous month. I’d classify 3.59-3.75 territory as ‘things are broadly going well but fans still have concerns’.
Things are certainly going a lot better behind the scenes at Reading nowadays. Dai’s improved score reflects satisfaction from supporters that he appointed trusted personnel to run the club: Mark Bowen as head of football operations and Brian Carey as director of recruitment.
The next stage for him is to simply support this structure. A mixture of Dai’s financial backing and the know-how of Bowen and Carey could well be the right formula to put recent years of mismanagement behind us.