The international break probably came at a good time for everybody’s mental health. The previous few weeks had been pretty tortuous and I think it was probably a good thing that we all had a fortnight off.
However, we were back to it on Saturday with a trip to Bristol City. It would be naive (and wrong) of me to say there was any form of confidence going into the game from us fans - but we came away with a point.
A point is better than none of course, but was it really a result that changes much in the grand scheme of things? Here’s how the fans reacted to the big talking points to come from the game.
Joao had a strong international break, grabbing his first goal for Angola, and Ince went on record to heap praise on the striker in a recent interview, saying “we all know what he’s capable of”. So, of course, Ince demoted him to the bench for the Bristol game.
The underuse of Joao has been nothing short of criminal in all honesty. On Saturday his benching bemused fans, before he caused Absolute Limbs™ with a key equaliser (and some major frustration after he messed up a huge chance to get all three points)...
That's... injured Andy Carroll over Lucas Joao? Great. Cool. Wonderful. #readingfc https://t.co/qhE7s4eWRG— Matthew Williamson (@Photomattic) April 1, 2023
No idea how João can be on the bench, Carroll was supposedly not fit, I think Ince would play him even if he had both legs amputated! #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) April 1, 2023
How on earth does Carroll start over Joao?? The one time we’ve played Joao and Casadei without Carroll we actually played some decent football. Playing Carroll just means the ball is lumped up to him all day, and we’ve seen multiple times that him & Meite doesn’t work #readingfc https://t.co/dcBnEXY3H9— Joel (@Jdh72Joel) April 1, 2023
Ince has managed Joao terribly all season and now he’s key to our survival. He must start all the remaining games and we need to play to his strengths. #readingfc— Paul Towner (@PaulTowner7) April 1, 2023
It’s quite simple Lucas Joao has to start as the main man from now until end of season. Let him play for his move #readingfc— Scott (@ScottGraham_10) April 1, 2023
Who could possibly have guessed Lucas Joao could score? #ReadingFC— Jobi is Available (@NCCDakota) April 1, 2023
Always believe in Joao!#ReadingFC— Paul Ince'd by Reading FC (@bluewhitewall) April 1, 2023
Bloody hell, Lucas Joao wow he’s a pal doesn’t fail! #ReadingFC— Paul Hunsdon (@Hunsy1969) April 1, 2023
Paul Ince and the performance
Like I said before, a point is better than none, and is probably better than any of us really expected going into the game. However, it doesn’t change anything in the grand scheme of things really and it definitely doesn’t look like it’s changed the fans’ opinion on Ince.
It was by no means a fantastic performance - the hosts had more than their fair share of chances to kill off the game before our equaliser - and there were some more questionable tactical decisions and post-match comments (as ever).
The fans are really starting to fear that with Ince at the helm, there is a serious chance of relegation...
A point is better than none. Ince still needs to go, preferably tonight. It won't happen though. #readingfc— Milo (@MiloRoyal1871) April 1, 2023
We will 100% get relegated with Ince in charge. Can't see us winning again this season under him. #readingfc— Ben (@BenParsons89) April 1, 2023
Ince will play that up as a massive point. In reality, we're in a significantly worse position than we were at 3pm, and we would have been well beaten but for City's profligacy. No doubt this will easily fool the clueless board to keep him on for another week. #readingfc— Thomas (@rfctom) April 1, 2023
I don’t know what’s worse, yet another dreadful away performance or Ince’s claiming it was thoroughly deserved and we should have won. #readingfc— Paolo (@Skeptichead) April 1, 2023
That draw doesn't take away the fact paul ince is a dreadful manager and we're in serious trouble still. Need to sack him asap #readingfc— AidenRFC (@AidenRFC_) April 1, 2023
At what point will Ince & his diminishing band of supporters realise that, with a 6 point deduction likely, we need to be looking to pick up wins not merely salvaging draws? #readingfc— Andy C #FBPE (@AndyRFCCharman) April 1, 2023
Could be a crucial point today but Jesus it’s a hard watch, any imagination, creativity, bravery on the ball has been completely coached out of this team. Ince saved us from certain relegation last season and maybe this but there is no future with him #readingfc— Man On Martyn (@ManOnPod_Martyn) April 1, 2023
Once again a shambles of a performance, lucky too get a point, if the club are going too let ince finish of the season hope he now learns too start joao and meite ♂️ #readingfc pic.twitter.com/HRQhRZxkVG— stephen jones (@stephen07978633) April 2, 2023
The points deduction has been ‘imminent’ for about three weeks now, but with Ince saying on Thursday that it should be coming very soon, and results going the way they did on Saturday, things are starting to look very bleak.
A six-point hit would take us to 20th, one point off relegation. Before Joao equalised, that deduction would have put Reading into the bottom three. With Huddersfield Town beating Middlesbrough on Saturday, us not exactly hitting form and having to play Wigan Athletic and the Terriers in the last two games of the season, the threat of relegation is real.
The fans are certainly getting concerned...
Relegation looking pretty likely now! Scary times #readingfc— George Blair (@GeorgeB22998154) April 1, 2023
As it stands if we get deducted 6 points we are in relegation zone #readingfc— Connor Rose (@connor0se05) April 1, 2023
Points deduction will put us in the relegation zone. #readingfc— Dan Hindmarsh (@DH_Editz) April 1, 2023
6 point deduction and we’re in the relegation zone, get Ince out now, need a manager bounce #readingfc— Daniel Snow (@DanSnow1708) April 1, 2023
@ReadingFC let’s face it by this time Easter Monday we will be in the relegation zone even without a points deduction— ReadingFC4MySins (@Readingfc4mySin) April 1, 2023
That’s is how bad the situation is #readingfc
That’s not a good point. Bristol City were shocking. Some fans happy with that point but we’ve literally moved closer to the relegation zone once the deduction is in. Clueless. #readingfc— Jacob Potter (@pott95) April 1, 2023
Fair play to Huddersfield showing some actual desire with a great comeback. Bottom three by close of play Monday. Even if Ince goes, it's too little, too late. #readingfc— Thomas (@rfctom) April 1, 2023
Essentially my overriding feeling is: yeah a decent result. But it’s just not quite enough. We need wins and we need them really, really quickly. We’re getting ourselves in a horrible position now and, with that six-point deduction coming, it’s only going to get worse.
The difference between this season and last season is that, at this stage of the season, we were all on the same page that we needed to stick together. However, this season, the majority of fans want Ince gone and want him gone now. That isn’t to say we won’t back the boys all the way come a Saturday afternoon, but the camaraderie of last season just isn’t there this season.
I think we need to realise that Ince is going nowhere and, love it or loathe it, we need to channel the same spirit we did last season to get us over the line. It’s going to be a tough end to the season.