READING 1 SWINDON TOWN 3 (Half Time: 0-1)
Henderson (80 mins).
Swindon Town Scorers: Grazioli (38 mins), Invincible (52 mins), Osei-Kuffour (87 mins).
13 October 2001
Reading: Whitehead, Shorey, Viveash, Williams, Whitbread, Igoe (Henderson 67), Harper, Parkinson, Cureton, Butler (Rougier 45), Forster (Hughes 45). Subs not used: Ashdown, Robinson.
Griemink, Reeves, Gurney, Ruddock, Edwards (Heywood 83), Duke, Robinson
(McAreavey 83), Howe, Hewlett, Invincible, Grazioli (Osei-Kuffour 86).
Subs not used: McKinney, Carlisle.
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
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”!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Oh dear, a bitterly disappointing day and things seem to be going
from bad to worse.
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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
As an exile who only gets to a few games per season, can I ask:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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".
I think the calls for Pardew to be removed are premature.
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