Former Reading boss Paul Ince admitted that it was difficult to keep players concentrated last season with the threat of points deductions hanging over their heads.

The former England captain took over on an interim basis in February 2021 and was given the job on a full-time basis ahead of the 2021/22 season.

Sat in the play-offs for a lot of the first half of the season, the Royals failed to win a game from February onwards and were hit with a six-point deduction in March for failing to adhere to an EFL business plan.

The former Manchester United and Inter Milan favourite struggled to get his side back on track and was sacked in April with the club in the relegation zone.

Noel Hunt took over on an interim basis but the side picked up two points out of an available 12 and were relegated to League One.

"[It is] Very difficult because you’re trying to get players to focus on the game," Ince told Simon Jordan on his Upfront podcast. "You’ll hear it all the time, ‘Players should just focus on what they can do’ but when the noise is coming through and people are talking to you, like the chefs talking about losing one of them because we can’t afford to pay them, we were still trying to win football matches at the same time.

"It was a sad ending, I loved my time at Reading and loved being there, but it was the way it ended. The remit was to stay in the league and all the talk was ‘stay in the league and next year you’ll be here’ the same old twoddle I was told the year before. Even if we go down into League One, we can build again because at least we can trade in the market.

"We were doing that [keeping the team up], and we knew the six points were hanging over us, it was in the press, and we’d win a game, and the players wouldn’t be happy because we knew it was coming off in a months’ time. It doesn’t matter how much of a leader of coach you are, there’s only so much you can do when they’re going home and start panicking. To lose your job with four games to go- I don’t get it. To sack a manager with four games to go because the team are in the relegation zone because the club got sanctions, it was poor madness. They put Noel White [Hunt] in there with no experience."

Reading Chronicle:

Yet to get back into football since his exit almost 12 months ago, Ince admitted that he is not happy seeing where the Royals now find themselves, fighting for survival in the third tier.

"I hate to see where the club are- it’s a sad sad sight. I feel for the fans. I spoke to a few girls there in the admin area- some of them are gone. People don’t see the ones who get sacked because of this or lose their livelihoods. It’s okay for us, we’ve made our money, but for these people, they lose their living because of how the owner has run the club."