A topic which is often discussed as a matter of when, and not if, is when will a team get a new manager bounce after relieving the gaffer of his duties?

Veljko Paunovic departed the club after 18 months in charge after picking up his first win in 13 matches against Preston North End.

Many felt it was a long time coming, and that it was much needed as the club sat just five points above the bottom three.

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A new manager bounce, a short-term up-tick in results following a change in manager, is often the result of the shackles being lifted from previously unhappy players, and a sense of freedom with a new boss to impress, a clean slate if you will.

With Ince taking his players into a two week international break, now is the perfect opportunity to compare and contrast the two managers of this season.

No bounce was more profound than Paunovic’s himself, who won seven of his first eight matches to sit top of the Championship, and a short-term fix of two or three wins could well be enough to keep this side treading water the right side of the dreaded dotted line.

A new wave of optimism that had engulfed the fans on this Saturday night in February, following a 3-2 win over the Lilywhites in Lancashire, was short-lived when it was announced that following the departure of Paunovic, former England and Manchester United midfielder Paul Ince was to take temporary charge.

The high-profile appointment was not wholly met with disapproval, with the press release also indicating that club legends Michael Gilkes and Mikele Leigertwood were to join the first-team coaching staff from their roles in the Academy.

It was predominantly the appointment of Ince, a man who had not managed a football club in eight years, that worried an already frustrated fanbase who were staring into the abyss of third tier football for the first time in nearly two decades.

But how has it gone since?

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The final six matches of Paunovic’s reign bought four points, with only Jose Gomes and Jaap Stam having picked up less points in their final six games than the Serbian since Nigel Adkins took charge in 2013.

There are plenty of caveats to this, with the side scoring a respectable nine goals in this time and only having two matches in front of a home crowd, something which is supposed to be an advantage.

These two home matches brought in an average crowd of 16,722; although this is massively boosted by the anniversary celebrations which brought in a crowd of more than 22,000.

In comparison to the first six matches of Ince’s reign, the gates have fallen to 13,015 over the three home matches.

It must be said, form has picked up under Ince with the side having picked up an extra win against sides with a higher average position than it was in Pauno’s last six, from 12th to 10th.

In the Championship form guide, the Royals sit 16th over the last six matches, but over the last 12, which includes Pauno’s last six and Ince’s first six, the club are right down in 23rd- proving quite starkly that the most recent six are taking the side in the right direction.

One stat that is interesting between the two is in the goals for and goals against columns.

Reading have scored just five goals in Ince’s opening six and have scored more than one goal in any game just once under Ince.

As a point of comparison, only Derby County, Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City have scored less in the last six games.

This goals for figure has dropped from nine in Paunovic’s final six, but the goals against column has improved significantly.

Reading are the second worst defensive side in the Championship, conceding 73 goals in their 38 matches, worsened only by Peterborough United with 76.

This peaked in Paunovic’s final six, conceding a whopping 15 goals.

11 goals in Ince’s first six is still a poor total, with Posh the only club having conceded more in that space of time, but it is a step in the right direction.

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Overall, it is hard to argue that bringing in Ince has had the desired effect. Seven points in his first six matches is a respectable figure for a side fighting relegation.

Jose Gomes was brought in with the same aim of keeping his side up and he achieved this despite only picking up five points in his first six, although he had an additional three months to work his magic, and a much more successful January transfer market.

The most realistic comparison would be to Paul Clement, who arrived in March after Jaap Stam had won just one in 18 matches. He picked up seven points from his first six matches and kept the Royals up, although it did require a final day stalemate with Cardiff City to confirm survival.



He might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and he might not be anyone’s idea of a long-term fix, but it cannot be denied that his bounce affect might be a factor that has tipped the odds of survival in Reading’s favour.