Reading Football Club News: March 2018

Chris Gunter's Chinese Fan Club Is Just Fantastic

31 March 2018
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Chris Gunter playing for Wales

It's fair to say Chris Gunter is a Welsh football legend. He's the nation's all-time appearance holder and has yet to even hit his 30s. But still, it's somewhat of a surprise when an entire nation, other than Wales, really takes to him.

Wales' trip to China revealed one of the most surprising things to the world of football perhaps of all time. Chris Gunter is an absolute footballing icon in China. Yes, really.

Of course, don't take our word for it. Check out the video below:

On a serious note, Gunter was out there with the Welsh national team to take part in the China cup alongside China, Czech Republic and Uruguay. It was a special week for the right-back as he surpassed the late Gary Speed's record to become his country's most capped outfield player of all time.

And he has a fairly decent time of it too. Despite the Royals' lowly form, Gunter played the full 90 minutes against China in their 6-0 win and enjoyed 79 in their defeat against Uruguay in the Final.

It was a tough test for Gunter, who had to go up against the likes of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and a side in which World Cup tips are suggesting will challenge into the latter stages.

Wales of course narrowly missed out on the World Cup, so it'll be a free summer for Gunter, along with much of the rest of the squad. Only Jon Dadi Bodvarsson has any real hope of being on a plane to Russia, with the Icelandic national team. It'll be their first World Cup tournament, following their incredible journey at Euro 2016, which saw them knock out England. Bodvarsson was a part of that team and will be out to cause a few surprises once again.

Elsewhere this week, Anssi Jaakkola remained on the bench for Finland in their draw with Macedonia and Leandro Bacuna got a full 90 minutes for Curacao in their 1-1 draw with Bolivia. Modou Barrow also got a game for The Gambia in their 1-1 draw with Central African Republic.

In the next few days, it'll be back to the job in hand as The Royals welcome back their new history maker and a Chinese legend. That counts for nothing though this weekend as Paul Clement looks to turn around Reading's fortunes in the Championship.

Paul Clement Starts With Vital Win

30 March 2018
By Hob Nob Anyone?

A brilliant solo goal from Sone Aluko, two superb saves from Vito Mannone and a magnificent 'backs to the wall' team defensive effort, gave the Royals a long-awaited victory and three points to ease their relegation fears. New manager Paul Clement had an immediate impact as Reading produced a battling performance worthy of three points. His team selection was fully justified, not least of which the recall of Vito Mannone, who in my opinion had not deserved to be dropped in the first place. It was pulsating game which had both sets of fans on the edge of their seats throughout. It has to be said Rangers played some excellent football, but in spite of dominating the game overall could not find the finish their approach play deserved. In a manic final ten minutes Reading were reduced to ten men with the dismissal of Kermorgant, conceded a penalty, which was saved by Mannone, and finally hung on for five minutes of stoppage time to send their fans home happy for the first time in long while.

Confirmed: Paul Clement Is New Reading Manager

23 March 2018
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Former Swansea City manager Paul Clement has been revealed as the new Reading manager following the sacking of Jaap Stam earlier this week.

In a statement released by the club, confirming Clement has agreed terms, they emphasised his first target is to take Reading into an "eight-game battle" to avoid relegation into League One: "Not only has he coached at some of the greatest clubs in Europe, winning trophies, league titles and European honours and working with some of the greatest players in the world, fundamentally he also has a rich understanding of English football having managed in both the Championship and the Premier League in recent years. Now, everyone at Reading Football Club is fully behind Paul and his squad of players as, together, we initially set our sights on an eight-game battle and continue to strive to the take this club forward."

Clement spent a year at Swansea after being appointed at the start of 2017 and being dismissed just before Christmas in the same year. His record at Swansea was mixed, winning 14 of his 41 games in charge, drawing 5 and losing 22. His previous job in management was at Derby County where he was given even less time, again failing to complete a full year in charge, and winning 14 games out of 33. Although his record at Derby was better, and he was dismissed after a poor run, it was reported at the time he was sacked due to his style of unattractive football and his inability to work out the best way to use a large group of players available to him.

Opinion is split if Clement is the right man for the job, with his style of management similar to the outgoing Jaap Stam. Clement also enjoyed a positive start at Swansea before results quickly went downhill leading to him being sacked after less than a full 12 months in charge. Swansea were struggling at the foot of the Premier League when Clement arrived and fortunes immediately picked up as the Swans won 5 out of 9 Premier League games to begin a climb up the table. Results dipped before the Welsh side finished the season with four wins out of five to finish in 15th place and well clear of the bottom three.

The following season Clement failed to build on his success with a run of just 1 win in 11 games seeing the club show him the door before Christmas. It all feels far too similar to Jaap Stam's time at Reading with the Dutch manager seeing a first season of success as his took Reading into the play-off final before he ran out of ideas with the club plummeting towards the relegation zone.

Reading fans will be hoping Clement can provide a similar impact at Reading on arrival and provide a "new manager bounce". If Clement can halt the slide and pick up enough points to guarantee Championship football next season then we will have already achieved at Reading, then next season we will perhaps really see what he can do with this team.

Clement will arrive with the support of the Reading fans, and a couple of wins between now and the end of the season will make him a popular choice. However, if he fails to halt the slide he could see another short tenure added to his managerial statistics. It will be interesting to see if he arrives at Reading on a short term contract or if those in charge at Reading FC believe he is the man long-term.

Jaap Stam Sacked

21 March 2018
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Jaap Stam has been sacked as Reading manager after a terrible run of form, which has seen the Royals drop to 20th place in the Championship and just three points away from the relegation positions.

Under Stam's guidance the Royals have failed to win in their last nine league games, collecting just four points from a possible 27. Reading are currently on a run of just a single victory - at Burton Albion - from their least 19 league games. That run has seen the Royals sink into a relegation battle with no sign of improvement. Stam had been given plenty of time to turn things around, but with only eight games left to try and avoid relegation he has finally been shown the door.

His dismissal does not come as a huge shock, although many expected him to be given the rest of the season and depart in the summer. The new Reading manager will have a huge job ahead of them as they attempt to avoid the drop with a team struggling with confidence and form.

It has been a dramatic reversal of fortunes for Jaap Stam who guided Reading to an unexpected third place finish in his first season in charge. The Royals were just a few penalty kicks away from the Premier League in the play-off final at Wembley last May, but now are looking at a possible exit to League One football. Stam was given plenty of cash to spend in the transfer windows, but his new signings failed to make the expected impact as Reading struggled to get the results they were able to grind out last season.

Statement from Reading Football Club:

Reading Football Club announce that Jaap Stam has left his position as manager of the club with immediate effect.

Majority shareholders, Mr Yongge Dai and Ms Xiu Li Dai, had wanted to give Jaap every opportunity to turn around what has been a difficult and challenging Championship campaign.

Jaap has not wavered in the time, effort and sheer determination he has put in to try to steer the team away from the position we find ourselves in. However, after careful consideration, the decision has been made that a change is now necessary.

We would like to thank Jaap for his hard work and commitment to the club, in particular noting what he achieved in a memorable first season in club management, and we wish him the very best of luck in his future endeavours.

We will now focus on identifying and recruiting the right person to take Reading Football Club forward.

Stam Sacked - Who's Next?

Another Point Towards Safety

10 March 2018
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Although Reading once again failed to secure the win they so desperately need, the point gained today was achieved with a significantly more positive performance. Reading were aggressive and direct in their attacking play, took an early lead with a superbly created and finished goal from Bodvarsson in the sixteenth minute but could not take advantage of some excellent football to extend their lead and once again conceded just before half time due to sloppy defensive play. Leeds took advantage of another Reading error early in the second half only to concede within a couple of minutes when Reading equalised courtesy of an O'Kane own goal. It is easy to see why both sides are finding it so difficult to win matches recently, neither of them seemed capable of holding on to a lead.

A Point Closer To Safety

06 March 2018
By Hob Nob Anyone?

It was abundantly clear this was a game neither side could afford to lose as Reading decided to slug it out against a team far better equipped for the direct physical style of play adopted by both teams. In the end both teams, helped by other results, were grateful to move a point further away from the drop zone. Reading, hitting a high percentage of long balls forward which were gobbled up by Bolton's lanky defence and midfield, found it hard to get out of their own half for lengthy periods of time.

A brilliant solo effort from Mo Barrow gave Reading a lead they hardly deserved after thirty-two minutes but were pegged back just before half time when the currently leaky Reading defence lost its shape and discipline allowing former Reading striker Le Fondre to nip in a prod home from close range. How Reading could do with that kind of sharpness in the box. There was a lot of huffing and puffing in the second half but neither side had the cutting edge to secure a much needed win although Reading were denied as clear a penalty as you are likely to see when Barrow was scythed down from behind after he had given the Bolton defence the slip. Nevertheless a draw was a fair result.