(Half Time: 0-1)
Reading Scorers: Henderson (80 mins).
Swindon Town Scorers: Grazioli (38 mins), Invincible (52 mins), Osei-Kuffour (87 mins).
Date: 13 October 2001
Attendance: 14,389

Reading: Whitehead, Shorey, Viveash, Williams, Whitbread, Igoe (Henderson 67), Harper, Parkinson, Cureton, Butler (Rougier 45), Forster (Hughes 45). Subs not used: Ashdown, Robinson.

Swindon Town: Griemink, Reeves, Gurney, Ruddock, Edwards (Heywood 83), Duke, Robinson (McAreavey 83), Howe, Hewlett, Invincible, Grazioli (Osei-Kuffour 86). Subs not used: McKinney, Carlisle.
Harper (Reading); Edwards, Gurney, Howe, Robinson (Swindon).
P Taylor (Cheshunt)

We've had some good Reading performances this season, and we've also had some bad ones. Today's performance was just not acceptable. At home against Swindon Town anything short of a victory is not good enough. What makes it even worse is that it was Reading's fourth defeat from just five matches, we're now as low as 14th in the League table, and we have some far more difficult fixtures ahead. We're really going to have to improve dramatically if we're going to climb into the promotion places. After the first few weeks of the season we had good reason to be optimistic - some good football and 13 points from five games to go third in the table. To have slipped down the table so quickly shows that there's plenty of reason for concern.

It was another poor performance from Reading today, and we had only ourselves to blame for the resulting humiliating defeat. Swindon worked harder, were first to every ball, defended solidly, and looked far more dangerous up front. We were outplayed, by Swindon Town, at home, and it hurts. There was plenty missing from Reading's game today, and Pardew needs to quickly find those missing ingredients to turn the season around.

Reading's starting eleven was different once again, with the 4-3-3 formation to make it look like an attacking game plan. Igoe was back in the starting eleven with Neil Smith no where to be seen despite a good performance at Aston Villa mid-week. Despite three strikers on the pitch we didn't get a shot in during the whole of the first half. Cureton, Butler, and Forster never looked likely to find the net. Butler put in a couple of weak attempts and that was the lot, a Butler free-kick was the closest we came which was low and span out for a corner. Pardew completely changed his mind at half time with the crowd certainly not pleased, and replaced two of the front men - leaving just Cureton up front supported by Rougier and Hughes.

It's hard to remember anything of note from the first half, but Swindon's hoofs up the pitch and poor balls that either went sailing out of play or to the middle of nowhere showed we weren't up against a team of the highest quality. Gurney managed to stand out with a couple of terrible whacks of the ball right out of play from the centre of the Swindon defence. The thing is that their passing game was far better than ours, and the defensive clearances kept us miles away from their goal. The ball spent plenty of time in the air, we failed to string any passes together going forward, and all together it was more than a bit dull.

Reading's play was summed up after winning the ball in defence, we played it around four or five players in our own half before a poor ball left Viveash with no choice but to hoof the ball out of play. We were going nowhere. Swindon always looked more likely up front, and were unlucky to have a couple of moves forward ruled out for offside. We were probably lucky that they hadn't broken through earlier than they did when they took the lead on thirty-eight minutes. A long ball over the top dropped into the area on the Swindon left and was promptly driven home with the Reading defence left standing. Poor defending and 0-1 to Swindon at half time.

For a brief period after the break we looked like we might get into the game with Hughes looking lively on making his return to the Reading team. Hughes immediately worked his way into some good positions to run onto the ball if someone could work it through to him. Once he did get the ball, and picked it up to run down the right and send over a decent cross to Rougier in the middle of the box. Rougier connected but sent his header over the Swindon crossbar. It was Reading's best chance of the game so far. Jamie Cureton had another opportunity a few minutes later but couldn't get it past the keeper. Rougier did well later in the game to come racing into the box and fire a shot at the keeper - he'd have done even better if he'd looked up and played the ball across to the unmarked Cureton though.

The game was over with over half an hour to play when Swindon scored a well worked goal that Reading failed to defend against. The ball was played down the left, crossed to the far post and headed home. A simple enough goal that was well taken with the Reading defence strangely absent. At two-nil down it was Swindon that more likely to extend their lead. They had a good effort from outside the area just over the crossbar with Whitehead beaten. If that one had dipped it might have opened the flood gates and we could have been looking at a much more serious defeat.

It got even more frustrating when Harper was quite rightly booked for diving inside the area looking for a penalty. This is happening nearly ever game now and it's seriously embarrassing to see us getting players booked for cheating. Spirt, Tenacity, and Flair my arse. The frustration continued as we failed to carve out any serious chances. Henderson has come a very long way - so much so that it was exactly the right thing to do bringing him on to replace Igoe with about twenty minutes left. Henderson was immediately involved and almost set up Cureton, but once more Cureton failed to find the target with an unimpressive effort that was well wide from inside the box.

Henderson did give Reading a bit of hope with a strike with ten minutes left. Hughes played the ball through leaving Henderson with a one on one with the keeper. The keeper came out and Henderson calmly lobbed him sending the ball into the back of the net. Yes, a great strike, 1-2, and some hope. The hope was short lived though. Instead of Reading going after the equaliser, Swindon went and wrapped it up with a goal three minutes from time. Whitehead again found his defence had totally deserted him and he came racing out of his area to make a tackle. Unfortunately he was twisted this way and then that way and the ball was planted into the back of an empty net. 1-3. And it was all over. So, home defeat against the Swindon, and Pardew must be a nervous man tonight.

Following report from John Wells:
When I left the ground today Neil Ruddock was sipping Guinness in the Madejski Hotel bar. He was chatting amiably with Reading fans and signing autographs with a smug grin on his face. Who could blame him. He had probably just played one of the most comfortable games of his career.

The crowd were certainly up for this one, and initially the players appeared to be. Ultimately it turned out to be the worst performance I have seen by a Reading side for a long time. In the early stages Swindon were restricted to tame attempts from well outside the area. Neither side looked capable of gaining the upper hand. Swindon, like so many visiors to the Madejski this season, played a five man midfield and Reading simply could not break through.

For a local derby it was a dull game. Gurney was spraying passes into the crowd from the back and Cureton was repeatedly caught offside. All the Reading forwards seemed to be intimidated by the presence of Ruddock and he was shown the sort of respect normally reserved for royalty. He eventually accepted his hosts hospitality. When no-one in a blue and white shirt seemed remotely interested in closing him down, he floated a harmless looking ball over the Reading back four. Grazioli, unlike the Reading defence, realised that he was not offside and calmly put Swindon ahead. To say it was easy is an understatement.

Reading's attack looked toothless. Cureton was easily contained by Gurney, Forster made no impression and seemed more intent on winning free kicks than getting past his man, and Butler merely continued his run of poor form. It was therefore no surprise when only Cureton of the much publicised strike force came out for the second half.

On came Rougier and Hughes. Rougier missed an absolute sitter when he headed over a good Hughes cross from about two yards out. Soon after Swindon extended their lead with a well-taken goal by Invincible. This time there was no Robinson to blame for poor defending at the far post. With just under twenty-five minutes to go Pardew sent on Henderson and adopted a desperate 3-4-3 formation. Henderson ran onto a long ball and with some confidence lifted the ball over Griemink to bring Reading back into the game. There was a hint of a comeback for a few minutes until we were finally put out of misery in a miserable manner. Whitehead and Whtitbread both expected each other to deal with a high ball and succeeded in setting up Swindon's third goal. Osei-Kuffour gratefully rolled the ball into the empty net. Who's fault? Who cared! By then there were as many Reading fans outside the stadium as there were sitting despondently inside.

After the game there were rumours flying around that Pardew had resigned. It was probably on his mind, but I would be surprised if he threw the towel in that quickly. The pressure is really on now and he is running out of systems to play and combinations to try. I still feel the decision will be made in mid-November.

To end on a positive note I was pleased to see Hughes return and Shorey looked comfortable on the ball and used it well at times, but now I am really clutching at straws!

Post Match Opinions

What a shambles. That was the worst Reading performance I have seen in a derby game. Spirit, tenacity, flair? You’ve got to be joking. It looked to me like Pardew just wrote down 11 names, told the players at the last minute, and the team talk must have been limited to “go on boys, get at them”!
We were left wanting in every department. Could we have got it more wrong? It’s all been written on these pages before, but we paid for the mistakes today. Our defence missed so many of their forward’s runs. When they were fortunate to get the ball…. HOOF! Midfield, what midfield? They didn’t tackle, they didn’t create a thing. They just shuffled around the pitch near the Swindon midfield and watched. But what summed up the tactics for me today, was Neil Ruddock. The oldest, fattest & slowest player on the pitch, playing on their left. He was easily their weakest link. And did we put him under pressure? NO! Cureton was man marked by Gurney. He seemed happy with that arrangement, as he never moved all game. Butler just ambled around their defence. Nobody sat on top of Ruddock ‘til Rougier worked it out with 15 minutes left. When he did, we created some chances.
Here are some of my other thoughts:
Shorey – good performance, could have got forward more if he hadn’t been left exposed on the left.
Whitbread – played out of position. Never looked comfortable to me.
Williams – what has happened Adie?
Igoe & Forster – swapped sides on the wing, a bit which left far too much space for Swindon, and never looked as threatening as we would expect. I felt Igoe disappeared in the 2nd half.
Harper – he had a nightmare. Didn’t tackle, passed backwards too much, and generally looked out of depth.
Whitehead – came for the third goal then stopped an watched. As for his kicking…
Henderson – great goal from our top scorer.
Pardew’s appointment never pleased all the fans. Overall, I have supported his efforts and thought he would come good. As a club, we have made good progress. Henderson & Shorey for example. Now I have to say that when you look at the Bury, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Stoke and in particular, today’s games, the performances of players and management, something has to change. The heat is on, Pardew. Are you up to it? I don’t think so!
Do us all a favour and go now.

-- Paul, Thatcham Royal

I am not a doom and gloom "Pardew out" merchant, and football is about the good and the bad, but the last two home performances are very worrying. We were not bad... we were terrible. At this rate automatic promotion is a wholly unrealistic goal. I would have to say that, after today, rebuilding a new young team around Darius Henderson and Nicky Shorey in order to get out of Division 3 in the 2002 / 3 season would look a far more realistic target. And I am only half joking. It really is not funny any more. I don't know what the problem is. Certainly Pards is right, they do not become bad players/managers overnight, but heck, this is football, and it's about winning and entertainment. The Wycombe game excepted the home fans haven't seen much of either lately.
The truth is, I think, that teams come at us wanting to capture the scalp of the Divisions hot favourites, and they want it more than us. On Wednesday night the boot was on the other fot and it showed. I am beginning to think it MUST be about effort and comittment on the day, and of course confidence. The consolation is that as we steadily slip slide down the division, maybe they will take it easier on us!
I guess as fans we need to hang in there... come on URzzzzzzzz.

-- Gary, Woking

Having travelled to Villa on Wednesday and thought we were unlikely not to get a goal (and possibly unlucky not to win) to lose at home to Swindon really takes the biscuit. We seem to be trying far to many formations and to change from 4-3-3 at half time, when 0-1 down, to 4-5-1 says to me that numerous comments regarding the Pardew/Allen lack of tactical ability is correct. Yes, its still early in the season and before today's game we were still only a few points from the "play off" zone. However, unless something changes soon we will be looking over our shoulders for the rest of the season.
Peter Taylor took Gillingham out of this division and I think he can do it for Reading.

-- Turns, Tilehurst Royal

We have been rumbled! Our weak point has been well and truly detected by other teams. Pards states that his strikers are not firing at the moment, but how can they when they don't only ever receive a few half chanes per game. And our defence are being well and truly battered. The weak point I am talking about is our central midfield. Today we saw the Swine adopt a 3-5-2 and they completely overun us in the center of the park as did Cardif, this made us try long ball tactics to bypass the midfield hotspot, but as we know that hardly ever works. Parky is 110% Reading and can tackle, but what alse does he have. Harper is a flair player but he is only 19 or 20 and is developing, how can these two be expected to control the center of the park on their own against opposition playing 5 in the center. I think we desperately need a player like Graham Cavanagh, or like Micky Gooding used to be, in the center, experienced and with a good engine. A player that can tackle, and pass. We haven't suddenly become a bad team overnight, its just that we have been rumbled and we need to counter it. If we dont have a right back then don't play one, Whitbread struggled today. Put out a 3-5-2 with Adrians wall at the back and Parky, Harper, Rougier, Neil Smith and Igoe in the middle. If we had done that today we would have had a much better result i'm sure.
-- Deano

It doesn't get ant worse than this, humiliated at home by your local rivals. To many players are strolling around like super stars instead of getting stuck in, for christ sake this was a local derby and it seemed more like a pre season friendly. It's October and we can forget about promotion on this form we'll do well to remain in this division. A disgrace to the club, it would be nice to think the players would give up a weeks salary and give it to the poor lad who suffered from meningitis who came round at half time, may be then they'll realise how lucky they are.
-- Woodley Royal

I'm sorry but the time has come to say goodbye to Alan and Martin. Two years ago when they took the helm we were in the bottom half of the table, made to look ordinary by teams going nowhere and never looked like we would get promoted. Now, look how far we've come...We made Swindon look good, and Bury, Bournemouth, Colchester were all on bad runs when they took points of us. We're a soft touch, and something has got to change and change quickly.
-- Simon, Oxford Royal

Where do you begin after that shameful humiliation yesterday? Let's start with a few facts... what we witnessed yesterday and have seen in recent games is totally unacceptable to anybody connected to Reading Football Club.
The management and coaching staff have clearly lost the plot and have run out of ideas.
As a consequence the players have somehow become bad players showing the commitment and guile of a bloody cowpat! I also firmly believe they have fallen into that classic situation whereby they themselves have lost faith in the management and are not putting in on the park. We are going down faster than the Titanic and something has to be done very quickly. The moment the game kicked off yesterday there was an air of inevitability that we were going to be beaten. What the bloody hell has happened to the players? The defence is pathetic, Ade Williams not a shadow of his former self, the midfield non existent, it's no good blaming Harper, he can't do it all alone, he hasn't the ability anyhow, Parky is past it and becoming an embarrassment, nobody ever doubts his commitment and leadership, but he can't pass a ball to save his life, the forwards between them couldn't hit a blinking herd of cows arses with a banjo let alone one!
There we were yesterday 1-0 down at half time and was does Pardew do? Take off Butler and Forster... unbelievable. I know Butler is unrecognisable this year , but he's not going to score goals in the changing room. Most managers like to field the same team, we can't even field the same team in each half. Watching the coaching staff yesterday, Pardew, Allen and Hammond its so obvious they haven't a clue. Allen's bullying has clearly produced nothing but players running around like headless chickens and hoofing when ever possible. Most gave Razor Ruddocks stick yesterday, well I'm telling you this, if half our players showed his commitment, a desire to win and that commitment we wouldn't be in the shit were in now.
Heard Pardew after the game, usual monotone arrogant report on the game, no possible solutions to turning this around, no imagination, no passion, no ideas, no idea! He says the only place it can be sorted is on the training ground... bollocks, they've been on the poxy training ground for nearly four months now, how much longer do they need?
I said after the Bury shambles, that if we got nothing out of the Colchester and Swindon game Pardew should seriously consider his position, I've not changed my mind. Madejski should have the balls to do something now, automatic promotion has probably gone, and the desperate play offs are our only hope. if something clearly is not done soon it will be mid table crap. There is someone out there that is available and the right man for the job, a proven coach and with the right experience, Peter Taylor . Get him now before it's too late.

-- Nick Newbury

Oh dear, a bitterly disappointing day and things seem to be going from bad to worse.
Three things stood out:
1) The isolation of the strikers - a long running problem
2) The complete lack of width of the team - a disaster
3) The embarrasing diving (even Viveash) that seems be endemic in the team.
Also, its time to stop playing people out of position, go back to 4-4-2 and play Henderson from the start. At the moment i'd back Pardew to be the best man to turn it around. If he did go, we'd just get someone inadequate who will probably end up fouling up anyway. We know Pardew can fashion a good div.2 side, let's not forget how far he brought us last season. Now it's up to him to sort it out because things are going worryingly stale. A couple of away games might not do us any harm - away from the pressure of the home fans.

--Rob, Staines Royal

I have little idea what Pardew will be doing in 3 weeks time after a spell of tricky looking games. But unless they pull their fingers out he will be anywhere but at the Madjeski. The players are overpaid and getting outfought and outthought by teams and players of lesser ability but with greater passion and detremination. Whilst most of the blame has to go to the players, Pardew has to take some criticism as his job is to motivate and inspire the team...Sadly he seems unable to do this now the players are 'comfortable' picking up higher wages than most players in the division without having to play. Drop Butler to the reserves for a while and start with Forster & Cureton & Henderson - we need to get goals.
-- Tom, Edinburgh

The lack of effort and attitude of the players (see Butler) is the only reason Reading are having a bad time of it — it has nothing to do with anything else, players that are not trying are treating supporters with total disregard....If what I read in the papers is correct re sour grapes over N Forster's new contract then I would prefer it if those employee's left rather than get Pardew the sack because that's exactly what they want to happen... Pathetic people.
-- R Kyme

Having had 24 hours to reflect on yesterday's events doesn't make it any easier to digest. That was an unacceptable performance that suggests this team is incapable of performing under pressure of any kind at the moment and something has to be done fast. When was the last time we actually won a 'must win' big match? Last season we fell short against Millwall, Bristol City, Colchester away and nearly blew it against Wigan - and of course lost the biggest pressure game of all, Wallsall at Cardiff...is a worrying pattern emerging here? Pards doesn't know what's wrong himself and that is evident, why sub Fozzy at Half-Time? A bit previous in my opinion condsidering he was our best player against Villa (where of course the pressure was well and truly off). Butler needs to spend some time in the reserves because he looks like he can't be arsed right now. We certainly miss Murty who always gives 110% and has been our most consistent player this season. Shorey built on his good showing in midweek, looks assured and is going to be hard to dislodge. Aside from some good stuff from Hendo and Rougier (though some people will disagree, he is fast becoming the new Jimmy Mac - whatever he does ain't good enough for some) there wasn't an awful lot more positives to say about yesterday. Things are desperate when we (bookie's favourites for the title...ahem!) make an average side like Swindon Town look good. This has to be turned around and very quick...though I shall not be joining the ranks of the 'Pardew Out' brigade just yet, if we're languishing near the arse end of the division by the time Brentford come to visit I'll have a rethink on that one!
-- Jo M

I've been supporting Reading for about a year now and I came away from Saturday's match totally depressed. I don't think I've ever witnessed such a lamentable game of football. We well deserved the "You're even worse than Oxford" from the away end. And off the pitch...well. Due to the ridiculous reserved seat policy in the East Stand we were allocated tickets close to the away fans. Now I like a good atmosphere to watch the game in, and for atmosphere the North and West Stands are like watching football in a mortuary. So the East Stand it must be, but the appalling obscenities that were being shouted from not a few morons was plain disgusting. Nothing to do with football. In front of us were a mother and her three young daughters. She had her hands over the ears of one of the girls next to her at one point. And they didn't reappear after half time. So doubtless four potential supporters of our great game that will never return. Saturday on and off the pitch...the pits.
-- Depressed of West Berkshire

What an absolute disgrace that performance was on Saturday, the players and Management should certainly feel ashamed and if they don't then time is running out on our hopes for a promotion this season. After every recent dire showing I keep thinking that it will be the next game when they get back on track...but I said that after the Cambridge game....and then the Bury game, which was a chance against the Division's bottom team to whack in loads of confidence boosting goals.....but I am still waiting!
Pardew did well to keep hold of the best players from last year's squad, we were all worried about Cureton and Butler being bought by higher Division teams, but the way they are playing it doesn't seem like the same team at all. Pardew really has to shoulder the blame, he employs different formations,"tactics" and players every bloody game, the players don't seem to know how or where they are meant to be playing and he can't get a settled strike force in place. Butler has gone downhill so fast, his effort last season was fantastic for a front man, he worked and battled hard, but recently he can't even be bothered to jump for a high ball, it is almost like he is angling for a move away.
The complete lack of any midfield is down to Pardew, he has the nerve to mention 'flair' in his adopted motto, but he cannot instill any flair in his players and seems content to allow them to hoof the ball and give away possession. I don't want Reading to be known as a long ball team but we have to face it, that is what we have been paying good money to sit and watch. Whilst you could argue that the players are letting the Manager down, I mean Harper not being able to pass to his own team mate, is the guy colour blind or what?? Someone should tell him that Reading play in Blue & White hoops and that we are meant to attack the goal opposite where Whitehead is standing for God's sake!! Harper has been terrible since he joined, but Pardew keeps faith with him...why? Please, somebody disagree with me...explain to me 'cos I may be missing something?
So, Rougier running up his own arse and missing sitters (the Swindon left winger showed him how it should be done), Adie Williams hoofs...Forster refusing to pass to his own players...the Manager must be gutted I'm sure, but it is his job to iron out these problems and he just doesn't seem to have the charisma or character to do it it would seem. Yeah, I know Adie is a Reading hero and I was happy to see him back but the fact is that he obviously misses Barry Hunter and has started to display some his characteristics recently! Forster too, is probably my favourite overall player but it is frustrating when so often he lifts the crowd with an exciting run, beats three defenders and instead of passing to someone in a scoring position he shoots without looking up and the move ends up with nothing to show for it. Henderson should have his chance to start, good luck to him, as someone mentioned in another report, let's give him and Shorey and some of the younger players a chance....at least we might see a bit of the "spirit" and "tenacity" to go along side Pardew's other laughable boast.
Come on you Royals, have a bloody good look at yourselves and let's get back on track, here's to the next game, I'm certain that game will be the one where.....er, didn't I think that a month ago!

-- Steve W

From promotion favorites to relegation contenders in 6 weeks, what the hell has happened to the team I saw play with such confidence and flair at QPR ? When i saw that Gurney & Ruddock were playing centre half's I felt our forwards would tear them apart, how wrong I was. The performance just beggerd belief, we were absolute crap to lose 3-1 at home to any team let alone the scum is unacceptable. There is something fundementally wrong at the club at the moment, do the players not like each other or the manager or what? We're just absolutely clueless. This has to stop now, I've said it before and i'll say it again change the management team before its too late, it's no good dwelling on sentiment where Pardew got us last season, and if you forgotton I will remind you STILL IN THIS DIVISION.
-- Bob, Newbury

I was not at the game on Saturday, but reading the reports and opinions appears to say much. The simple fact is that the eleven players that go out on the park are letting Pardew down. These are the same players that nearly won us promotion, so we know they can play. The problem seems to be a lack of motivation, and Pardew and Allen have to realise that making the players train with Tenacity, Spirit and Flair emblazoned on them is not on its own going to inspire them to play. Pardew can be a good manager, his shrewdness in the transfer market shows this, Harper, Cureton, Butler, Whithead, Alex Smith and others that Pardew has signed have all done the job for us in the past. Someone needs to give these players a kick up the a*se to give them a wake up call, and it appears that Pardew isn't capable of doing that. I don't want to say Pardew out, because i remember the mess that he inherited from Tommy Burns. Have we all forgotten how close he took us to promotion in what was effectively his first full season. I think Pardew should be given the benefit of the doubt. See how he deals with this challenge. If there is no improvement in the next few games, then perhaps Madejski should think about a change of managers. But lets give him his chance.
-- Tom Withey, Durham

As an exile who only gets to a few games per season, can I ask:
"What the hell is going on?"
- No win in the last five matches!
- Defeats by the likes of Colchester, Bournemouth, and Swindon (ouch)!
- key promotion rivals like Bristol City and Stoke well placed in the top 5!
Imagine you're John Madejski mulling over these facts:
- a succession of managers have been given millions to spend on players of
their choice;
- most other teams in the division who have no cash;
- the club is among the best-supported in the division;
- we have a state-of-the art stadium that would not look out of place in the
...and what have we got to show for it?
A mediocre mid-table side going nowhere!
Give Pardew and Allen the next three matches to show a marked improvement. If we're still in the bottom half of the table, they must go!
With some strong persuasion, I think we can offer Peter Taylor the ideal chance to rebuild his reputation. Remember what he did at Gillingham?
-- Mike C, Belfast

What is going on with the Team? The morale seems to be at an all time low.. Can the coaching staff not get on top of this and resolve this problem? Or could it be the coaching staff causing this problem? Reading have had a really fan focussed view up untill recently and now we are getting beaten in games by teams that last season escaped religation by 1 point.... You obviously know who they are. Come on Pardew and Allen sort it out or move on!
-- Michael

Whether or not changing the Manager will sort it out, who knows. If that's the course the Chairman goes down, we can kiss goodbye to leaving Div 2 this season, unless it's down to Div 3. A new man will need time.
And by the way, Peter Taylor's record has been patchy. If we do turn somewhere else, maybe Sanchez is the man. But this might seem a crazy view but it makes the point, apart from the very best, let's not over egg the influence of the manager. If AP was suddenly put in charge of MUFC would they play any worse; look at Brian Clough, all he claimed he used to do was sign good players and put them out to play. Danny Wilson so poor at SWFC now seems to have got it right at BCFC, but isn't this because in the main he's got a good set of players. And in key positions, we haven't. Here I think Deano is spot on.

The issue to my mind rests with the Chairman. There was much concern last season of not getting stuck with Div 1 salaries in Div 2 if we didn't go up. Didn't seem to bother Fulham did it? The infrastructure is set up for better than Div 2 and JM has brought us an awful long way but I think we need a final push. Key here is money on the pitch and specifically two class central midfielders. It's no good just blaming the strikers, we're not controlling games and opening up the opposition, for now we're relying on goals against the run of play. I've said this before on these pages but I'm a Caskey fan (unlike Notts County fans it seems), we should have kept him and added more class. At present JM seems to be saying cut your cloth accordingly, turn sows ears into silk purses, oh and by the way also get promotion. All very well and with a budget understandable, but that's all a bit hit or miss and if we miss, how much longer do we want, or can we afford, to be in Div 2? I also felt that last season even when we were winning so comfortably that we weren't quite up to it. It seemed to me that we'd come away with a thumping win and I often thought the opposition would be thinking how the hell did that happen, we didn't do so badly. We went through a period where we scored at will without necessarily dominating games in terms of percentage possession and maybe this covered up some underlying problems which came back to haunt us towards the end of the season. Certainly when we came up against the likes of Millwall and Bristol City and other must win games that have been mentioned on these pages, we couldn't do it.
It's all on a knife edge now. We've lost 5 games already. Last season we lost 10 and the top two lost 9. The current top two have only lost one or two. It doesn't take a genius to work out that much more of this and we're staying down or worse.
So my view is stick with AP (he's done a lot of good such as reinstigating the Reserve team, developing the Academy and let's not forget last season too quickly) and add to the squad. After all, we weren't good enough last year, so what's really changed to make us good enough this year? And when all said and done, once the players are on the pitch, it's down to them. What we need is class to make sure the job gets done. On the whole the team is good, it needs lifting and confidence. Magic elements but an infusion of class would do it.
This assumes critically, that AP still holds the dressing room, this JM needs to find out and to be sure that backing him is the right way forward.
As to Swindon, I'll pick up one point, which is more than we did on Saturday. The report is right in that the way we treated Ruddock typified the afternoon. I've always liked him as a player but for goodness sake we didn't dare go near him all afternoon, throughout which, he had time to enjoy a lot of chat with his away support. Someone somewhere should have "welcomed" him to the Madejski.
Disaffected but clinging to hope.

-- Nick A

It seems Reading are in for their usual season! Just when you think things are turning a corner (e.g. great start to the season) it would seem that we are back to the days of Tommy Burns et al! Pardew cannot be blamed for everything that is going on because I think it is the players who are at fault.
I am currently studying for my Masters degree and finding things very tough trying to self-finance and self-motivate every day of the week. I can't help but feel how lucky the Reading players are by having such a BRILLIANT job and earning very good wages whilst I have to struggle on NO money and have the constant worry that I still have to search for a job in the career that I want. Also, I really wish that I had a manager and a coach to motivate me for five days a week and provide the reassurance, confidence, as well as learning from experienced people, that the Reading players have.
It's about time the players took a long, hard look at themselves and have some respect for the fans who pay to watch their team week in and week out. I think we have all had enough.
I think it is out of order for players to stop playing for their management to simply see them ousted when the very same management nearly took us to the first division. If the self-belief is there, then it's not that difficult to get out of this division - it's how badly the players want it and form recent games they obviously don't want it enough.

-- Nathan

As one particularly astute fan said after Saturdays shambles 'They get Roy Evans and we get Barry Evans (for the benefit of Nick Newbury, hes the bungling incompetent oaf in Eastenders). Its all been said really only thing to add is we went through the whole range of emotions after the game. Joy, when the rumour went round that Pardew had done the honourable thing and fallen on his sword and then depression when it became apparent that he hadn't. Madeski must not make the same mistake as he did with Burns and leave it in the forlorn hope things will improve. John the time for change is now. Get Peter Taylor in now to fire a rocket up the arse of this bunch of no-hoppers before its too late.
-- Lobby, Thatcham

There is not a lot you can say after the humiliation of saturday, however below are commonly asked questions which I have given my opinion on. We are talking about a much bigger problem here than 1 game.
Should Pardew go?
Yes - Last season we were lucky to have 2 stikers on great form and we were playing a lot of average teams. When we came up against the better teams we lost. Bristol City & Millwall thrashed us twice.
In modern football the game is won & lost in midfield - most talked about and influential players in England ? Beckham, Keane, Vieira, Mcallister, Scholes, Hendrie, Bowyer, etc. Our midfield wouldn't frighten the under 10's that walked out on saturday! but more importantly EVERY person I ever talk to about football recognises that you have to match the opposing team in numbers in midfield - Pardew consistently fails to do this. Perhaps more importantly he doesn't seem to know what to do to change it! Pardew also talks all the time about the 'Mental' side of the game and how important it is. The irony of this is that we appear to have absolutely no confidence, no will to win and are completely bereft of ideas and resort to 'diving' to give us our best chances.
The biggest problem here is Madejski. John thinks Pardew and Allen are world beaters and doesn't want to pay a 'big managers' wages. My view is get Lawrie back. He has done an awful lot with no resources at Wycombe & has the eading heritage.
Should Caskey have gone?
Yes - Caskey was past his best. However we haven't replaced his creativity. We desparately need a Simon Osborn type character back (just gone on a free to Gillingham). When your lethal strikers don't get opportunities how can they score!
How good or bad are we?
The football world said about Reading last year that we could play badly and win. We played badly on many occasions and won. We were lucky on countless occasions. We are a poor side with no blend. Teams like Brentford, Oldham and Colchester were whipping boys last season, this season they are good sides who will beat us I'm afraid. We need to radically change what we are doing and how we play.
I can honestly say the last time I saw us play really well was against Wrexham at home - The date ? Tuesday OCTOBER 17TH 2000!
Is there an internal crisis at the club?
Again, in my opinion, Yes.
The players don't seem to know each other sometimes and there appears to be no collective team spirit which shines through. I have noticed recently that when glaring errors occur everyone is looking around them to blame someone else.
This wasn't the case 6 months ago.
The only reason behind this has to again be Pardew & Allen I'm afraid.
Is Pardew tactically inept ?
Absolutely. Last year you could forgive him as he was learning. Comments like 'The way Mark Mcgee left this club is a disgrace' before our game against Millwall was both niaive and stupid and did he really think it would do us any good?
In the last 9 games Pardew has had to change our formation if we were to get anything from the game.. in 6 of those he failed to do anything that had any effect on the result and in 1 (Bournemouth) he took off Henderson and brought on Cureton who was in desparate need of Hendersons aerial ability!
Tactically inept - Yes.
I'm sorry Alan but it has to be now or we wont even make the play offs.
-- Dean - Disillusioned Crowthorne Royal.

I was not at the game on Saturday but was depressed by it. I believe that the team we have now is good enough and the blame must lie with the management. By this, I do not necessarily mean AP.
Since Allen joined Pardew, hoof has been the main tactic.
I know we didn't win much with Gorman there but at least we passed it more and don't forget that our revival coicided with Fozzie's return. I say get rid of the laughing stock that is Martin Allen as his motivational techniques no longer work. Get someone in who is more of a technician and, assuming Pardew is the one with the tactical naivety, leave the motivation to him. I remeber at the open day last year when Allen answered a question about our tactics. His answer was "get it forward and down the wings as soon as possible" or hoof! It seemed to contradict what Pards had just said. Management is a partnership and it strikes me that Maddog and Pards don't see eye to eye.

-- Jape, Bath

I have been supporting Reading since 1979, so I have had my small share of joy, and large share of depression, but what I am seeing happening to the club at the moment is both disturbing and alarming.
The way things have been going since the victory over Wycombe leads me to suggest that the players are no longer playing for the manager. Pardew is a likeable man, but it would appear now that his tactics are both naive and confused. Add to this the bullying and ranting of Martin Allen, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster.
John Madjeski has done alot for Reading and without him we would not survive, but he is a business man not a Football man. I think he should look at employing a Director of football to have an overview of the whole set up at Reading, and an experienced coach, Peter Taylor or Lawrie Sanchez perhaps, to run team affairs. Then I think he may begin to see a return on his substantial investment.
I hate to say this, but While Pardew, and in particular Allen are at the helm, Reading are going nowhere, and I amongst others are not turning up anymore,because it only ruins my weekend. We need change quickly before everything goes terribly sour.
Anyone for Lincoln away next season?

-- Bob Lethaby

I think any Manager who allows Swindon to beat us at home is not fit to manage Reading. How much longer do we have to wait defeat by Notts County, Brentford, before any change is made? On the news tonight Trevor Francis and Tommy Taylor have both had the sack and yet Reading still persevere with Pardew. I dont believe Pardew can turn it round. The interviews he gives hardly inspire you with confidence and he seems clueless. I think he should do the honourable thing and resign. One can argue it is not only the Manager but the attitude of the team. I thought one of the Managers role is to motivate the team get the tactics right this is clearly not happening.
-- JD Royal

The last match I was able to make was against Wycombe when we played them off the park. I really thought then that our season had just started and wins over average Bournemouth and lowly Bury would be within our capabilities. Frustration at only taking one point from those two games though has eaten deep into my confidence that Reading are even capable of making the playoffs this season, unless someone can put their finger on what's going wrong quickly. There is definitely a problem at the club and although Wycombe has proven to be a false dawn, I had my doubts earlier on in the season, as we had not impressed against other teams fancied for promotion like Cardiff and Huddersfield despite taking the points against the latter. Pardew has apportioned blame on his goal scorers, but you can't score goals if chances are not being created and he has not offered much more in the way of excuses other than to say "we should do much better" and "the performance is not acceptable".
Pardew is a young manager and despite reaching the play offs last season, we have rarely should the assuredness that teams like Millwall demonstrated in gaining automatic promotion last season. Even reaching the play off final was a nervous affair against Wigan and this implies a lack of self belief. Is the job too soon for Pardew? or is it too big for him? Pardew, I feel has done some very positive things at the club, he has got ride of most of the dead wood and todate I believe his signings may also stand the test of time, even if it is without him as manager. I have questioned the ability of the coaching staff in the past and I go into despair when fans support the idea of Mad Dog even being considered as Pardews replacement. Martin Allen maybe effective in small doses, but who can really say they are motivated by shouting and humiliation? That sort of thing wears thin on you after a while and I recon thats why Casky went from player of the season to getting rediculed for being over weight. Good players respond to praise and encouragement, it never hurts their belief if they are rewarded. In my view we would have been promoted last season if the coach was more cultured and tactically aware and that belief and assuredness would have been there.
Not everyone will agree with this and I am sure Allens motives are good ones, but I just don't buy it. Pardew needs a father figure more like Gorman may have been, a wise head, an experienced tactician, a figure that the players respect and not hate as I am sure may be the case in the dressing room at the moment. Success is not an automatic right, just look at Wolves. Success is a rare commodity and with a football team, requires the gelling of the players the coaching staff management and all concerned with the club. It does not evolve around one individual player or manager, we learned that when McGee left us, but if the feeling in the camp is bad, then something will have to change to turn the corner. JM must be a troubled man at the moment, what should he do? We have had five managers appointed by JM and the success has been varied. Its easy to say don't panic, but things at Reading are now different, there is massive expectation. Pardew must feel like the world is on his shoulders at the moment and he either needs help or he should go.
I am sorry to be so matter of fact, but in football you can't have too many off days at the office, so poor Alan must be living on the edge right now. Saying the players should; get behind him and play will not work, look at England, Keegan could not get the players to respond, but look what the same lads have done for Sven! If Pardew himself brings in new coaching staff to lift the heads in the dressing room, I feel he has a slim chance and can buy perhaps half a dozen more games. If he goes it alone, just one more defeat will topple him. Alan its over to you unless JM moves first, but something has to change and if it does we still have time to get promoted.

-- Paul Finch

I think the calls for Pardew to be removed are premature.
As anyone who has played or coached at any level knows; positive consistency is an elusive beast, largely because team and individual morale and confidence is fragile and irrational. The manager is ultimately held accountable for the way his team plays; he is not always responsible, however and knee jerk reactions never work out long-term. I cannot think of an instance where a manger was removed and his team went on to win promotion or a cup in the same season. I am sure there are exceptions to the rule but they would be few. Typically, a new manager achieves half a dozen reasonable results before mediocre performance is resumed and more changes ensue. As for Peter Taylor, his success at Gillingham was built upon the foundations left by Tony Pulis. At Leicester, he took Martin O'Neill's cup winning side with European qualification and turned them into relegation candidates within a matter of months. I think Pardew should be given the remainder of the season to demonstrate his capability or until it is impossible to make the play offs. That would provide time to recruit a replacement and mount next season's charge. No one else is going to turn this season around with this squad. Pardew has done it once, let's give him the benefit of the doubt and, most importantly, our support in his attempt to do it again.

-- Caversham Royal

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