News and Views
Reading Head To QPR As New Season Starts
03 August 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?
The new Championship season kicks off this weeekend with Reading travelling to QPR for their first game of the new campaign. QPR finished just two points away from relegation last season and will be hoping for a dramatic improvement this season. With financial difficulties and fines hanging over them due to past excessive spending, it has also been a quiet pre-season for QPR. A few players have departed the club with midfielder Josh Scowen joining from Barnsley on a free transfer. The club recently extended the contract of former Reading loan player Jamie Mackie who will hope to feature more consistently this season.
Although Reading and QPR finished at opposite ends of the table, the Royals were only able to collect a point from the two Championship fixtures last season. A 1-1 draw, with the now-departed Danny Williams scoring for the Royals, in October was followed up by a very disappointing 0-1 home defeat in January. A draw appears to be the favourite prediction and wouldn't be a bad return on day one of the new season.
Jaap Stam's choice of starting eleven will be interesting to see. One player who is certain to get his competitive debut is goalkeeper Vito Mannone who signed from Sunderland to replace the departing Ali Al Habsi. Outfield the team is unlikely to be dramatically different to how we finished the last campaign. With injuries up front there is a chance of one of the academy graduates getting a competitive debut, even if only from the bench. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson took a knock in a pre-season friendly but may appear, however Kermorgant is still recovering from injury. Moore and Swift, who both signed new extended contract this week, will start in defence and midfield and find the team built around them. Paul McShane is ruled out as he completes his suspension, while Pelle Clement will be hoping for his Reading debut after joining from Ajax in the summer.
Despite the lack of incoming transfer activity at Reading, fan expectation is certainly much higher than last season. This time a year ago a popular prediction was a mid-table season. The Royals went on to surprise everyone with a third place finish and end up just a few penalty kicks away from promotion back to the Premier League. History has seen Reading follow up play-off disappointment with automatic promotion the following season, and maybe that has driven people to predict promotion in the 2017/2018 season.
A Hob Nob Anyone poll has nearly half of voters predicting promotion either automatically or through the play-offs, although the most popular category is a 7th to 12th placed finish. It's hard to see past another season of Reading "just missing out", whether that means a mid-table finish or more play-off disappointment. Automatic promotion is surely too big an ask with several teams spending big in the Championship and expecting to finish in the top two.
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