We won’t beat around the bush: this was a pretty naff month for Reading. Three losses, a draw and a win doesn’t constitute awful form - at least in contrast to last January - but there was little to get excited about performance-wise.
So picking out a player of the month winner, let alone a shortlist for the vote, isn’t that easy. No one really stood out to the same extent as previous winners have: Tom Ince x3, Amadou Mbengue x1 or Andy Carroll x1. In fact, for the first time this season, no regular starter managed a TTE average rating of 6.00/10 or above. A couple of FA Cup starters managed higher average grades - Femi Azeez (6/10) and Kelvin Abrefa (7/10) - but they had much smaller sample sizes.
With all that in mind, here are your candidates...
Average rating: 5.33 / Man of the match awards: 3rd (Queens Park Rangers H), 1st (Manchester United A)
After missing the first two games of the month through illness, Holmes came back into the side against QPR and put in a solid defensive performance despite the team’s late collapse. It was at Old Trafford where he really shone though, winning our man of the match vote with a performance that may have put a few scouts on high alert.
Average rating: 5.5 / Man of the match awards: 2nd (Queens Park Rangers H), 2nd (Manchester United A)
It is now the norm to see Ince’s name on these shortlists as he continues to be Reading’s greatest attacking threat by a considerable distance. Although he did not find the net in January, Ince was at the heart of most things the team did going forward and his corner set up Amadou Mbengue’s goal at Old Trafford. He is arguably the first name on the team sheet now, regardless of the fact his dad is in the dugout.
Average rating: 5.8 / Man of the match awards: 3rd (West Bromwich Albion A), 2nd (Watford H), 3rd (Manchester United A)
The fact that McIntyre finished in the top three in the man of the match vote for three of the four games he started in January provides evidence how much he he impressed. The academy graduate is finding a knack for popping up at the right place to provide a vital block or interception, while he showed his versatility when used in midfield. In the cup win over Watford, McIntyre got the assist for Shane Long’s late goal with a pinpoint long ball.
Who is your Player of the Month for January? Vote in the poll below or, if it doesn’t show up on your device, click this link.