News and Views

Last Chance To Challenge For Top Two

24 February 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading travel to Brighton this Saturday knowing that only a victory will keep alive any outside chance of automatic promotion this season. Following Tuesday night's 0-1 defeat at promotion rivals Huddersfield, the Royals are 8 points behind second placed Brighton but have also played an extra game. An unlikely Reading win would keep the dream alive, but any other result will realisitically confirm that the Royals only chance of promotion this season will be through the play-offs. Reading are currently well clear of seventh placed Fulham but will still need to maintain decent form to finish in the top six.

Neither Reading or Brighton have any new injury problems ahead of the game, and Jaap Stam has options to shuffle things around after Tuesday's defeat. Paul McShane was back from injury mid-week but ended up being an unused substitute. Reading only conceeded the single late goal at Huddersfield but McShane may still find himself back alongside the ever reliable Liam Moore as Reading look to keep Brighton out.

Joey Van den Berg is fit but may find that he unable to get back in the starting eleven after Stam strengthened his squad during the transfer window. Grabban and Kermorgant again were not paired together with Kermorgant replacing Grabban from the bench with 20 minutes to play - perhaps Stam may change things up front as Reading will need to find the net. Popa looked very lively when he played the last half an hour and will be hoping for more involvement this weekend.

Reading have lost to Brighton just twice in their last 15 meetings (both 0-1 away defeats) and have won 8 of those fixtures. This season we drew 2-2 at the Madejski Stadium back in August before a surprise 2-1 victory at Brighton in the League Cup. Quinn and Swift were on the scoresheet that evening. Unfortunately our last league game in Brighton was one of those 0-1 defeats - and it will be Brighton who are firm favourites for the victory and another big step towards a top two finish and a place in the Premier League.

The game is being screened live on Sky Sports this Saturday, with a 5:30pm kick-off.

Recent Meetings With Brighton and Hove Albion:

20 September 2016 League Cup Brighton (Away) W: 2-1 Read report...
20 August 2016 Championship Brighton (HOME) D: 2-2 Read report...
15 March 2016 Championship Brighton (Away) L: 0-1 Read report...
31 October 2015 Championship Brighton (HOME) D: 1-1 Read report...
10 March 2015 Championship Brighton (HOME) W: 2-1 Read report...
26 December 2014 Championship Brighton (Away) D: 2-2 Read report...
08 March 2014 Championship Brighton (Away) D: 1-1 Read report...
04 January 2014 FA Cup Brighton (Away) L: 0-1 Read report...
15 September 2013 Championship Brighton (HOME) D: 0-0 Read report...
10 April 2012 Championship Brighton (Away) W: 1-0 Read report...
26 December 2011 Championship Brighton (HOME) W: 3-0 Read report...

Tough Run Starts At Huddersfield Tonight

21 February 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

It's third versus fourth tonight as Reading make the trip to Huddersfield looking to cement a place in the top six and keep in touch with the top two. With a visit to Brighton coming up at the weekend it's make or break time on an outside chance of automatic promotion. Only six points will do if Reading want to stay as contenders for a top two finish. The gap between Reading and seventh place is nine points but that could soon be eroded if these two games bring two defeats. Many, both inside and outside the club, still think that Reading's position in the table is somehow "false" rather than just suprising. Tonight's game is a real chance to prove our promotion credentials - if only we can avoid defeat.

When Huddersfield visited the Madejski Stadium earlier this season it was Reading that picked up the three points thanks to Roy Beerens who scored the only goal of the game. That was way back in September, but after the game Huddersfield were second and Reading were fourth - so little has changed since then. Both sides have had dips in form inbetween but it has been a suprisingly consistant league season from both clubs. Last season we were beaten 1-3 in the League at Huddersfield but drew 2-2 in the FA Cup before winning the replay 5-2 at home after being two goals down. There is a lot of recent history between the sides and the record is very evenly split.

Having waited a week for a game after last Tuesday night's dramatic 3-2 victory over Brentford, Reading have no new injury concerns. The Royals will have both Paul McShane and Joey van den Berg available for selection after they have completed their returns from injury. The return of McShane is great news as Reading look to tighten the defence and Jaap Stam is seriously spoilt for choice with loan defender Reece Oxford having to sit it out on the bench. Oxford will have to keep waiting with McShane and van den Berg probably both above him in the selection order.

Stam is also spoilt for choice in midfield. Swift scored an important first goal of the game against Brentford but Reading looked much improved after a triple substitution that included Evans joining the action as Reading turned the game around. Beerens will also be hoping to start but may find the competition for a starting place too tough. Grabban is yet to make a real impression at the club but Kermorgant looked strong when he played the last twenty minutes against Brentford. So many options!

Recent Meetings With Huddersfield

24 September 2016 Championship Huddersfield (HOME) W: 1-0 Read report...
08 March 2016 Championship Huddersfield (Away) L: 1-3 Read report...
19 January 2016 FA Cup Huddersfield (HOME) W: 5-2 Read report...
09 January 2016 FA Cup Huddersfield (Away) D: 2-2 Read report...
03 November 2015 Championship Huddersfield (HOME) D: 2-2 Read report...
24 February 2015 Championship Huddersfield (Away) L: 0-3 Read report...
03 January 2015 FA Cup Huddersfield (Away) W: 1-0 Read report...
19 August 2014 Championship Huddersfield (HOME) L: 1-2 Read report...
29 March 2014 Championship Huddersfield (HOME) D: 1-1 Read report...
14 December 2013 Championship Huddersfield (Away) W: 1-0 Read report...

Royals Legend to Head Rangers - Expected or Not?

21 February 2017
By Guest Post

The news has it that Graeme Murty, legendary Royals player, has been elevated to temporary manager of Rangers after the resignation of current manager Mark Warburton and his assistant David Weir. However, there seems to be a bit of confusion in the move as it appears as though Warburton didn't know the change was taking place. Was it just sooner than he expected or did he not actually tender his resignation? While it may seem like a moot point at this juncture, any amount of tension could interfere with Rangers' performance and this might set bookmakers throughout the country at odds in how to calculate odds when taking bets! Here is what we know so far.

News Hits the Stands 11 February

Our own had a write up on the Reading great, Graeme Murty, stating that he had been named interim manager of the Scottish football club, Rangers after Warburton and Weir resigned. It was posted that Warburton acted surprised at being replaced as did Weir and Frank McParland who is also said to have resigned from his position as recruitment head. This leads fans throughout the UK to ponder the move and if there were really resignations prior to moving Murty up or if those were unexpected events that the owners felt would be good for the club.

Statement Issued by Dave King

Amidst Warburton's denial of having turned in a resignation, Dave King, the chairman of Rangers made an official statement that the club had accepted Warburton's resignation. The controversy surrounds how the resignation was handed in and whether or not the three had any knowledge of what their agent was doing. According to King, he was approached by the agent who said they would resign immediately if Rangers would waive any compensation agreement coming from a new club the trio wished to sign with. In respect to who delivered the resignation to the Rangers' chairmen, there is some amount of controversy because there is still the question as to whether or not it was official or precipitous on the part of the Rangers' chairman.

Can Royals Legend Lead the Rangers to a Championship?

Then there is the fact that Royals legend, Graeme Murty who captained the Royals to an astounding championship back in 2006, was already with Rangers from last August of 2016. Being familiar with the team and working with them for the past half year may make a difference in the transition, albeit a temporary one. It was his lead of Reading to the 2006 promotion that took them to the Championship with 106 points. After eleven years with the Royals, diehard fans are eager to see Murty succeed, except at the cost of their own Royals. Another tension, for sure! A Royals legend leading another club to victory? It's debated how fans will take that news if and when it comes but at the moment, Royals fans are proud of their former player and wish him well.

Because such things as management do affect the way in which players function on the field, bookmakers are yet unsure how to calculate odds, not having many games to judge by. It will all work out in the end once the change is made clearer and if Warburton gives up willingly, but in the meantime, you may find various odds between bookmakers as each has a different take on how to rate players and teams. For the time being, the Royals are proud of their former star, Rangers have a temporary manager and Warburton and King can duke it out, off the field.

Reading 3-2 Brentford: Things We Learned

16 February 2017
By Alex Bower

Reading fought their way back to victory on Tuesday evening with the eventful fixture against Brentford ending 3-2. Despite going ahead through John Swift, the Royals let their lead slip in the second half. Goals from Jota and Lasse Vibe after the hour mark gave Brentford a 2-1 lead. Danny Williams led the Reading comeback with his goal before substitute Roy Beerens fired into an open net for what would be the winner. After an eventful game, here are some of the things we learned.

Passion And Belief Grows By The Game

While the game didn't exactly go to plan for Reading, it was a hard fought win for the home side. In previous seasons the squad would have collapsed when they went behind but this season it is clear their mental toughness is on a different level. Yes, some of the players had a few choice words to say to each other when Brentford took the lead, but it is obvious that this team believes they should be winning and will push themselves in order to do so.

All you need to do is have a look at the picture of Liam Moore that circulated on social media straight after the game to see what it meant to the squad. The defender wasn't alone, however, with the team urging the crowd to make some noise (including Garath McCleary who made the effort to appeal to those in attendance despite being run off his feet).

As a Reading fan it was at times a stressful one to watch but the atmosphere after the third goal and at full-time is why we keep coming back.

Defensive Frailties

It's something that is talked about a fair amount in recent games but against Brentford in particular it was a worry. As Reading fans will be all too aware, Captain Paul McShane, Joey van den Berg and Tiago Ilori are all currently missing through injury. Tyler Blackett has done a fairly good job at filling in at centre-back in the past but their absence is being felt.

The other concern will be for Reece Oxford. Apparently rather than play a natural centre-back in that position, Stam would rather play Chris Gunter there and drag Danny Williams back to right full-back. While it is impressive that Reading are still winning without their steadying influences at the back, the sooner they return the better.

More In Midfield

One of the main concerns during the game was the ease at which Reading gave the ball away in midfield. John Swift, in particular, has not been the same player he was prior to his injury but is still managing to pick up goals. On several occasions, however, it was his passes that failed to find their target.

In fact the final ball was a problem for the Royals for a large portion of the game with a lot of attacking plays collapsing due to a poorly placed pass. One player who has stood out to me in recent times is George Evans. His steady influence in front of the defence is much needed and he showed his class when brought on against Brentford.

Whether it was due to tiredness or just lack of concentration, there were far too many errors being made in midfield that will hopefully be ironed out before the next game.

Player Positioning

As has been mentioned, Stam has several injuries to contend with and that has been shown with his recent squad selections. Those teams would also suggest that the manager definitely has his favourite players in the squad who he wants to play regardless of position.

Take, for example, Garath McCleary. The winger has done an amazing job this season for the Royals and has subsequently been a vital player for the team. Against Brentford he lined up as a striker alongside Lewis Grabban. In the past he has also played as a winger and a full-back. Despite being a similar kind of player to Grabban, Stam opted to play the pair up front.

McCleary is most effective when he is running at defenses down the wing. At times it seems that Stam needs him in the team but plays him in different positions as to where he can fit him in that day. It's a similar scenario for players like Grabban who has already played as a central midfielder and striker, Williams as a central midfielder and full-back and a variety of left/right-backs filling in at centre-back. Oh and don't forget striker Yann Kermorgant the part-time defender.

At times it has worked, at times it hasn't. You can't help but think, however, that the straightforward option of playing squad members in their best positions would be the most effective plan.

A Win Is A Win

One thing that Reading fans are particularly good at (myself included) is analysing games in depth regardless of results. Each game there will be things teams do well and things that they don't do as well. At the end of the day, however, you just have to take every game as it comes and do what you can to win.

Reading took the lead, lost control of the game for a large spell and then lost the lead to boot. They didn't give up, however, and thanks to some great substitutions from Stam (which arguably could have been a little earlier) they managed to grab the win. There will be things for Stam and his squad to work on before the next game but the most important thing is that Reading have kept up with their promotion rivals ahead of some very tough games.