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Noel Hunt Gets An Ironically Familiar Approval Rating

Hunt earned almost the same level of approval as his predecessor did after securing survival at the end of 2021/22.

Huddersfield Town v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by John Early/Getty Images

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:

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.