Congratulations are in order for Tom McIntyre, who you’ve voted as your player of the month for January 2023. A majority of you (51%) went for him as your choice, with Tom Holmes (31%) and Tom Ince (18%) rounding out the voting.
Although there wasn’t a lot of serious competition for the award (Reading weren’t that great in January), McIntyre’s a more than worthy winner in his own right. He played in every match last month, including four starts, earning an average of 5.8/10 in our player ratings to put him above anyone else who featured regularly.
That run included one clean sheet and one goal, both coming in the same match. That was when McIntyre lined up in midfield for the visit of Watford in the FA Cup. Reading ran out 2-0 winners, with McIntyre creating the second of those goals with a neat ball over the top for Shane Long to run onto and convert.
Otherwise, McIntyre started in away defeats at West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City and Manchester United, as well as coming off the bench in the 2-2 draw at home to Queens Park Rangers. His best performance from that run was probably in the 1-0 loss at the Hawthorns, when he stood up noticeably better defensively than most of his teammates to help keep the score down.
He’s the fourth POTM winner this season. Tom Ince took the first three awards of 2022/23 before Amadou Mbengue and Andy Carroll won for November and December respectively.
Going forwards, it’s best for McIntyre’s development if he can retain his left-sided centre-half spot. He’s been able to do that recently due to the enforced absence of Naby Sarr, but when the summer signing eventually returns to first-team contention, Paul Ince will have a decision to make between the two options.
Thus far, Ince has largely seemed keen to start Sarr when possible, thereby sometimes shunting McIntyre elsewhere. We’ve seen him moved to left-wing-back and midfield, neither of which (the former in particular) are his strongest positions.
So, ideally, I’d liked to see McIntyre maintain that left-sided centre-back role for as long as possible. Genuine competition for that spot between him and Sarr could get more out of both players, but I’m worried that Ince is too keen on picking Sarr over McIntyre, despite the latter having a pretty strong season so far.