After an extremely disappointing weekend, the Royals returned to the Select Car Leasing Stadium to face second-place Sheffield United. Iliman Ndiaye scored the only goal of the game for the visitors to secure all three points. Reading manager Paul Ince felt that we could take pride and belief from the performance.
We are 12 points away from the relegation zone but, with reports of a six-point deduction, picking up points is a must. Here is what Ince had to say; he spoke to the official club website and Reading Chronicle.
Ince on the defeat
“I thought we performed well in the first half. And in the second half, we have tended to panic and defend deep – but we didn’t today, we were just as good.
“And the result came down to one detail. If we turn them round and play it down the channel like we did all evening to Shane – who was outstanding all night – he’s in. But we didn’t and, when you’re playing a team like Sheffield United, you give them one chance and bang it’s 1-0.
“I’m disappointed not to get anything out of the game, but I can’t fault my players. They are devastated in the dressing room, they don’t like losing at home.
“But we just didn’t get that bit of luck tonight, the ball didn’t quite drop for us in the right places. However, we competed. And I told them that if they take this form and keep performing to that level, we’ll be fine.
“Even though we lost the game tonight, we’ve got to take belief away from the game after the way they played here this evening.”
Ince on end product
“When you look at the goal we had one mistake, one fine detail, and they go bang-bang and score. That’s what you get when you pay that amount of money.
“Some things wouldn’t fall for us in the box, Andy Carroll had a great header tipped over the bar, Thomas [Ince] has two that goes past the post. The first one that he hits that just goes past the far post, someone has to be at the far post for a tap-in. Sometimes I don’t think we’re hungry enough to score.
“Today is about being positive because I thought the performance warrants that. You could say that a few chances wouldn’t drop for us but it was one run from deep that cost us effectively. I’m more pleased with the performance, I thought we were very good today.”
Ince on setting standards
“They’re disappointed in there, but I said to them that you’ve got 11 games. Not just at home, we should be able to perform like this away - there’s no reason why you can’t. That’s the level that you have to perform at, on a consistent basis.
“We saw Naby Sarr, outstanding today, we need that consistency from our players. Tom McIntyre was very very good, Shane Long looked like he was 18 again.
“That performance shouldn’t be because Sheffield United have come to town, it should be for whoever comes to town and whoever we play away. That’s on them now. They’ve taken responsibility to say we can perform like that, now you have to do it for 11 games.”
Ince on Liam Moore return
“I wasn’t here. Liam Moore has tried so hard to get back into the team. He’s had a couple of major setbacks but if you watch him in training you’ll realise what a great acquisition he’ll be for us, he’s like a new player.
“With Tom Holmes just coming back anyway, it was probably the right time to give him three or four minutes. I am not here to worry about what has happened in the past, I can’t control what happened in the past, all I can try and impact is the future.”
Ince on Yakou Meite injury
“Yakou is injured, not sure if it is going to be three or four weeks. That’s another blow to us, because he was just finding his feet and playing well.”
Ince on Millwall this weekend
“Millwall will be a very different proposition to Sheffield United. It’s another tough one – another team in the top six or seven – and then we go to Blackburn. But we have to reproduce that performance tonight and we give ourselves a chance of picking up some points.
“We know, here at home, we have made this place a bit of a fortress. We lost our fourth game at home tonight in 17 – which is not a bad record.
“We played the team who are second in the league and at times we outplayed them. They were hanging on at the end and I think the performance merited some points.
“We can take a lot of pride and confidence from that performance. My job is to focus the players’ mind on the next game. We’ve got to win football matches. And that’s what we will try to do.”