Just under a year ago we ran our first (ultimately of five) approval ratings on Paul Ince. At that point he’d helped keep Reading in the Championship, albeit somewhat unconvincingly, meaning he got a score slap bang in the middle: 3/5 on the dot.
Now, in our first (and probably only) approval rating for Noel Hunt, he’s got almost exactly the same score. In this case, it’s 3.02/5, a hair’s breadth above Ince, but within any margin of error. So, while Ince and Hunt came in for the same task (to keep Reading in the division) and had different results, in the process they inspired almost exactly the same reaction from supporters.
The voting for Hunt breaks down as follows:
So the most popular choice was 3/5 (43.2%), while slightly more of you gave Hunt 4/5 (24.4%) than 2/5 (18.2%). Just 8% of you went for 1/5 and 6.3% opted for 5/5.
That breakdown looks similar to Ince’s in June 2022, although in that case more than half of you (57%) went for 3/5. Otherwise, you were almost evenly split between 2/5 (18.1%) and 4/5 (19.2%), while a few of you went with 1/5 (3.1%) or 5/5 (2/6%).
Given that 3/5 is the midpoint in our approval ratings of 1-5, a fair interpretation of a manager getting that score overall would be that they’ve performed to expectation - nothing higher, nothing lower.
In Ince’s case that constituted Reading securing Championship survival in adequate but uninspiring fashion. However, with Hunt, ‘performing to expectation’ had the probability of relegation factored in - he was in such a tough position when he arrived that survival was always going to be seen as an uphill battle.
Against that broader backdrop, Hunt got some things right and other things wrong. It’s hard to argue that he performed outstandingly as manager, with Reading failing to pick up any wins in his five matches, including a crunch game against Wigan Athletic. On the other hand though he showed promise, especially in his first game against Burnley and, to a lesser extent, against Luton Town too.
Interestingly, this particular edition of our approval ratings got much bigger engagement than most; Hunt’s time in the dugout was a far livelier topic of debate than, say, the end of the Ince era. Perhaps that’s because, when we ran this approval rating, fans were on the whole still making their minds up about an interim manager who hadn’t been given an extended spell from which we could all draw a decisive conclusion. Contrast that to, say, the Veljko Paunovic or Ince eras, which ended with a firmly established consensus that the manager should not only have gone, but should have gone sooner.
Far more of you voted this time (over 300, when we usually get closer to 100 votes in these) and we also got a load of written responses which you can see by looking at the replies to this tweet. Thanks for all of those - it’s great to have a variety of thoughts on how a manager’s done. Here are some of the ones for Hunt:
Did the best he could under the circumstances. They played better more expansive football, rather than just playing for a draw or just not to lose. Wasn't perfect but what more could he do really. Damage was already done unfortunately.— Dave Andrews (@DaveAnd56252204) May 13, 2023
He did alright in an impossible situation, we were obviously so badly coached for so long there was no quick fix, a bit unlucky not to beat Luton then who knows it would have changed the complexion of the Wigan game— Man On Martyn (@ManOnPod_Martyn) May 13, 2023
Tough gig. Scored him 3...bang in the middle. Injuries, suspensions, and team spirit shot by the time he came in. Had he gotten it a month or 2 earlier, suspect we might have just gotten over the line. Definitely saw an improvement in our ability to keep the ball.— Caroline Parker (@CazLeary) May 13, 2023
Think he made some very strange line up choices, & his interviews often didnt seem attached to the reality of the situation. Football was slightly improved, but not hugely - & ultimatley even at home in the biggest must win game of the season, we didn't have a plan to create 2/5— Alex Everson (@Readingfanman) May 13, 2023
3. Huge respect for coming in at the worst time. He dug out two good results against top 6 sides, and we could have nicked something against a third in Cov (albeit undeservedly). He was let down by the Carradonna which changed everything, and I thought we were poor against Wigan.— Thomas (@rfctom) May 13, 2023
He quite literally went McDermott ball. 4-4-2. Long balls up to the big striker. Lots of width from the wingers. Centre mids protect. It was slightly better than Ince but the football was still poor. Squad was very limited though so I don't blame him for what happened— Jonathan Holdstock (@JH7123) May 13, 2023
For a historical overview, here’s how Hunt’s approval looks against all the other ones we’ve done since we started the series in 2015.