There isn’t much in the world of football that can epitomise the Jekyll and Hyde cliche quite like our form at home compared to our form on our travels this season. It is truly, truly baffling how we can go toe to toe with pretty much anyone at home but look like a semi-pro team away.
Saturday was just awful. ‘Boro are a good team and look pretty much nailed on for a top-six spot come May, but that doesn’t excuse a 5-0 loss. Yes, decisions went against us - particularly the challenge on Shane Long in the first half - but I don’t think they were as crucial to the result as Ince might think.
Here’s how the fans reacted...
The performance and result
There’s not really much to dissect from the performance, it was just awful. An xG of 0.14 compared to Boro’s 3.89. three shots (all off target) to their 13 and 35% possession. We just didn’t lay a glove on them.
Not only that, but we let them batter us as well. They’re a good team, but to lose 5-0 against anyone in this league is just nowhere near good enough. The club let down the hearty fans who had travelled up from Berkshire.
Here’s what the Loyal Royals had to say, and I think it’s fair to say that they weren't happy...
Great performance from my sons u10s side this, grit, determination and played some great football. Just a shame #readingfc can't do the same.— Dan Gabriel (@DanG188) March 5, 2023
Fair play to anyone going to away games currently, never even a performance let alone a result. #readingfc— Craig (@Craig_RFC88) March 4, 2023
Another day, another away day all-round disasterclass. So predictable with lack of change/tactical ideas. Points deduction imminent, problems of the past persistent, not much to be positive about with the men’s side. No wins for the bottom 3 clubs, so some consolation there. https://t.co/jXeleVhTXR— Bill Fernley ⚽️ (@lankylibero14) March 4, 2023
Today we played like we’ve been given an EXTRA 6 pts #readingfc— Jamie Burr (@Jamiepburr98) March 4, 2023
With our away form & Boro’s home record it was always gonna be a tough ask for any more than a point today ……but that performance was embarrassing! #readingfc It is a whole team issue but for me hugely disappointed with Yiadom today - positioning all wrong and we paid for it!— Sam Smit (@SamanthaSmit29) March 4, 2023
What a dreadful week in the world of #readingfc related things. 6 point deduction incoming which will leave us only 6 above the bottom 3 after today's results. To top that off we continue our totally inept and dismal away form with a 5-0 thrashing. We are in deep deep trouble!— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) March 4, 2023
Something the fans found almost as embarrassing as the performance on the pitch was Ince’s comments after the game. He was adamant that two decisions in the first half basically determined the result of the match.
The challenge on Long is a stonewall penalty, but to suggest that it’s determined the result of the game is nonsense. Ince’s refusal to shoulder any blame and his eagerness to distance himself from the players whenever we get beat is ridiculous and unacceptable.
It’s look like the fans are starting to lose patience with the manager, if they hadn’t done so already...
But it’s becoming more and more difficult to back someone refusing to take responsibility, blame the referees and have a laugh and joke after a FIVE-NIL loss. It makes a mockery of us fans, myself included, who traveled yesterday and have traveled away all season #readingfc (2/2)— Joe (@iJC106) March 5, 2023
I just knew Ince would blame the ref. We had NO SHOTS ON TARGET! #readingfc— Paolo (@Skeptichead) March 4, 2023
Wow....can't believe Ince.— Neil Palmer (@neilpalmerphoto) March 4, 2023
Blaming the ref for a 5-0 defeat !!! #readingfc
Really hope Bowen is listening to this interview on BBC Berks. Absolutely disgraceful from Ince. Blaming the ref, laughing, flippant. We’ve lost 5-0 & he doesn’t think “it’s been a torturous afternoon”. He’s clearly never watched his own brand of football #readingfc— Ben Thomas (@mrblthomas) March 4, 2023
Hearing Paul Ince laugh on the radio. An absolute disgrace. All of us fans travelled up spending our hard money to watch that absolute shambles. Bloke should be ashamed of himself. Get out the club ince #ReadingFC— Cameron (@ronniemac93) March 4, 2023
Disappointed to see sack is trending in the UK and that it isn't because Paul Ince has been giving the boot from #ReadingFC— Milo (@MiloRoyal1871) March 4, 2023
Paul Ince post-match excuse bingo. Cards at the ready #readingfc— Harry Smith (@harrysmithEFL) March 4, 2023
Paul Ince taking credit for how much better he's made our defence when we're on course to concede over 70 again this season #readingfc— Matthew Williamson (@Photomattic) March 4, 2023
Paul ince is a few bad results, subs, tactics, press outings away from being classed in the same vain as Paul Clement. The fact he’s even close is a sign he’s not fit at our club #readingfc— callum (@callum51201553) March 5, 2023
A rank performance, an abysmal result and some excruciatingly painful comments from Ince. All in all, a horrific afternoon.
With at least a six-point deduction looming as well, and some really tough fixtures coming up, this is a seriously crucial period for us.