After a really difficult week for everyone involved with the club, The Royals travelled to Middlesborough and suffered a 5-0 defeat.
Reading now sit 15th, 12 points off the relegation zone. Manager Paul Ince said that it is time to brush ourselves down, regroup and reset. He also had a rant or two about the referee! Here is what he had to say; he spoke to the official club website and the Reading Chronicle.
Ince on the defeat
“First and foremost, Middlesbrough are a very good side. We accept that and they started strong as we expected them to - but after the first 15 minutes, we started to find our feet in the game and we settled down a bit.
“But for some reason, all of a sudden, the referee decides to give them a penalty when the ball is hit from one or two yards away and it hits Yids’ arm which is down by his side and he couldn’t wait to point to the spot.
“We know they are a good team and we know they are going to get chances, but we were just starting to get a foothold in the game.
“We took it on the chin, we didn’t let it affect us. And then the tackle on Shane Long, not only is it a penalty but it’s a red card as well! Shane has got in front of the defender, he’s gone to shoot with his left foot, the defender has put his foot on the back of his ankle and he’s actually rolled his ankle in the process.
“It’s a stonewall penalty, it’s a red card because he’s not played the ball and they’re down to 10 men, if we score the penalty it’s 1-1 and the whole context of the game changes. That has to be the defining moment.
“In the first half the referee has made two major decisions. And those decisions changed the course of the game. We’ve got 12 games to go and we’re at the business end of the season - the referees have got to get those big decisions right.
“And because of those decisions, we were in a position where we had to chase the game and that suited a very good Middlesbrough side. We made a dreadful individual mistake from our own free-kick with the last kick of the first half which gifted them a goal and we had kind of given them the game.
“1-0 down and we can regroup. But a bad mistake like that and the lads’ heads are down in the dressing room at half time.
“That’s when you have to fight and if we score the first goal in the second half, we’re back in the game, but we conceded two poor, poor goals within the space of a few minutes and we capitulated.
“I’m not one for sugarcoating things. You can’t just capitulate like that. You have to stay in the game and keep your shape. And we didn’t. We didn’t stay with our runners, we looked tired and before you know it, it looks like a hiding. At the other end our quality was poor.”
Ince on upcoming fixtures
“We have Sheffield United, Millwall and then Blackburn coming up. It’s going to be tough for us. We don’t profess to be at their level. But we know that we are strong at home and we know that we have to pick up points.
“We have to brush ourselves down, regroup, reset. And it’s all hands to the pump again now with a tough run of games.
“We’re playing some really, really tough sides and these games are going to take a lot out of us. But we’re at home, so we have to feel confident.”
Ince on the referee
“It was a tough afternoon. It wouldn’t have been as tough if the referee had the cahoonas to make the right decision. I’m never one to blame referees, but in the first half he’s made two major decisions that have changed the whole course of the game.
“First and foremost they’re a good side, but I felt after the first 15 minutes we had quietened the crowd down a bit and found our feet and then for some reason the referee gives a penalty against one of our players when he’s two yards away with his arms by his side.”
Ince on introduction of Tom Holmes and Lucas Joao
“As soon as the game was getting away from us there was no way we could win the game so we got Thomas [Ince] off to give him a rest. Tom Holmes has been out for four weeks, Lucas Joao four or five weeks, to get them 20 minutes was great.
“It’s all hands to the pump now. We’ve got a tough run of games so it’s trying to get the right personnel for Tuesday. We haven’t got a lot of strength in depth so not a lot is going to change. Middlesbrough are a really good football team who play some great stuff under a very good young English manager.
“We’ve got to brush ourselves down. If there’s ever a game you want at home it’s Sheffield United, that should motivate us. We will go down the motorway feeling that the game could have been completely different if it wasn’t for the referee doing his job.”