Reading FC manager speaks after first away win at Millwall

Naby Sarr’s opening goal was enough for Reading to beat Millwall 1-0 at The Den.

Here’s every word from boss Paul Ince.

To be at the top of the league

It’s great that the fans can say that. We struggled to stay in the league last year and I think the fans, who came out in droves to support us, never envisioned that after six games we would be top of the table, so give tell them that and let them enjoy the moment. Hopefully it lasts a long time, but it’s something for them for the support they’ve given us over the past six months.

The game itself

It’s a hard place to reach and we fully deserved to win the game. I told the guys after I was disappointed we didn’t put the game to bed – that was a lesson learned. Besides being happy with the performance, I’m disappointed that we didn’t put the game to bed. You win 2-0/3-0, you all sit down. What happens is the last 5-10 minutes they throw balls into our box, which can go anywhere, and then it’s a lottery. You could come away 1-1 which would be devastating because we deserved to win the game.

Chances to score more

These are clear opportunities, you can’t miss them. Jeff’s is at a time when you think we’re a bit under pressure, not because Millwall are cutting us, but because of the way Millwall are playing. They get it and go long. We’ve been preparing for it all week, so we knew what was coming, but when you’re leading 1-0 and you start to come back, you need the breakaway where we can score. We did it and it was beautiful football on our part to be fair and you think put it to bed and it’s over. We didn’t and we could easily have taken a point. I’m not happy with that but I’m happy with our first away win.

Naby Sarr

We were all waiting for this deal to happen and he was really frustrated. To be fair to Naby he was patient so when I heard it was all over I was over the moon as I had booked the game for him with the way Millwall play. Match fitness is different from training fitness. It’s his first game for us, and he was exceptional. It’s always nice to win 1-0. Hutch with a broken nose, that’s what it’s all about – fighting to win games. I appreciate where we are right now, but I just want to be competitive.

United Kingdom of Sheffield

We are still at our bare bones. I went to Luton on Friday night and this is a really good outfit. You expect them to be up there. We just have to keep going. Sir Alex Ferguson always told me the season doesn’t start until March. I’m just glad the fans have the chance to be dynamic, let’s say we’re top of the league in the pub tonight – it’s for them. Keep your feet on the ground, reach 40 points and see where we are.

What it means to beat Millwall

Too fair. I have a lot of respect for Gary Rowett. I like Millwall to be successful but you know the relationship between Millwall and West Ham, it’s not great. To come here and win 1-0 against one of your old rivals was great for me personally. It was great for the fans and the players. We threw our bodies in there, you don’t want to do that every week, but we have a spirit. You kind of think you can’t wait to play again, but I can wait. This is the championship for you, get up and go.

The pursuit of a left-back

Time is running out, especially when it comes to loans. We have to get one. To be fair, we did well, the system helped us. We looked like a big, powerful team today and that was the point of playing against Lucas [Joao]. We need a left-back because I don’t always want to play three at the back. Sometimes I want to go to 4231 so I’m crossing my fingers I’ll have news in the next 48 hours. Who wouldn’t want to go to Reading, we fly!

Ince on tactics

Yeah it was, when you look at the way they play, from set pieces, the way Cooper wants to split in the back from set pieces and Hutchinson, that’s what they do so we had planned this. I think sometimes, no disrespect to Junior, he was exceptional for me, it was about being big behind. When you look at the headers that Tom [McIntyre] won, [Hutchinson]this batch it worked like a charm and I’m just disappointed we didn’t put the game to bed.

In depth

“It’s not enough, in the Championship we are talking about 46 games, we play six games in two weeks with actually fourteen, fifteen players, we ask a lot of them. Yeah, it’s great, when things are going well, they continue for you, so we’re lucky with this situation. You look at Millwall, they bring in four or five people and they have people they’ve spent two million pounds on and all that. It gives us pause, so the point is, we’re getting there. Yak will probably take another two or three weeks, Dann another two or three weeks, so if we can get a left-back we’re still miles away from what we want. But the most important thing is that we started well. We gave ourselves a little respite and we leave on Tuesday. And those guys will go back on Tuesday because they just want to be competitive and give it their all like they did today.

In the mood

“To be fair, what I said to the players is that the Millwall fans are big fans, you know what I mean. They’re going to come out in droves to show their support for their team. They need them. calm down, because we are used to conceding goals early. We have now moved away from that, so I said to the players ‘we can come here, and for the first 15 minutes, calm them down and our management of the game was fantastic. Sometimes we was wasting time and Joe was taking [his time], but this is league football, we just wanted to calm the crowd down so we could get a foothold in the game. And as you saw at halftime the crowd was booing the players, which I don’t like, I don’t think that’s right, if you’re going to boo the team, then boo them at the end of the game, you can take care of it. We’re six games into the season, it’s always hard when you get booed at halftime because you know you’re gonna get a response from the opposition and that’s what we got, but it’s It’s too soon, look at Michael O’ Neill getting fired at Stoke after five games, who wants to be a manager, it’s not good for me. But in saying that, I just have to focus on us and what we’re doing. Once we scored the goal they were under pressure and we knew what was coming and the fact was we could hold on? Could we be focused and focused on the job at hand and we did it for 97 minutes. It’s always nice to hear that whistle.

Since I won

“It’s a noisy pitch, the fans support the players and it’s different. When you are at home in Middlesbrough, you have all your fans there and they give us a boost. Here we didn’t have all our fans, yeah we had a great audience, it was a fantastic audience, and that’s important. Winning games at home is good, but you know, if we want to do what we expect to do this year, we have to win away. If you come back from Rotherham which was a disaster, Blackpool we should have gotten something out of the game we were the better team in the second half so sometimes you kind of think as a manager you’re not not so bad if you look at the performances outside of the Rotherham game where we were horrible [in]. We came here with a lot of confidence and you have to take points if you want to do well in this league. But coming to Millwall, the fact that I’m a former West Ham guy obviously helps, it’s a great feeling.