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Summer 2024: Left Wing

Selles never particularly settled on who he wanted to play at left wing. Knibbs started the season as a narrow left attacking midfielder, when he moved into central midfield then Dom Ballard took his place for a couple of games before his season ending injury. Mukairu took over the role for a while, though would often be replaced by Elliott. Vickers had a few games there too. Later in the season Ehibhatiomhan was the option off the bench, before starting some games himself before, finally, Mamadi Camará took the last half hour of the season. I think there's two profiles amongst all of those names. First - Ballard, Mukairu, Ehibhatiomhan, and to an extent Knibbs - effectively strikers who look to cut inside and score themselves. Second - Vickers and Elliott - tricksy passers. I think the fact the latter were never first choice shows that it's probably the former that he prefers, but it's a position that Selles is happy to develop players in. I'm not sure the pool of pote
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Summer 2024: Left Back

Finally, the summer. As ever, the first question on everyone's lips are - "who are we going to sign?". For Reading there is a glaring requirement to bring in players all down the left hand side, and so we'll first look at who could fit in at left back. So, what do our current left back options give us? Reading have, largely, used three different left backs. Starting the season with Matty Carson, before moving to Clinton Mola and Jeriel Dorsett. Let's start by examining what it was that caused Carson to be dropped. The main reason he simply did not do enough work defensively. Of left backs that have played over 500 minutes this season, Carson ranks lowest in successful defensive actions per 90 with just 7.17. Mola and Dorsett are both around 11. Even in the U21's game against Sunderland in the Premier League 2 Play-Off Semi Final (a mouthful) his side was targeted. There's all sorts of defensive frailties in his game that are unnecessary to go into, but eff

Starting the Year Renew

Ah, 2023. A new year. A time to take stock of what you have, and look forward to the twelve months ahead. The first thing on Paul Ince's plate is to renew Andy Carroll and Amadou Mbengue's contracts - something he's been very vocal about wanting to do. Mbengue is a difficult one. Yes, he is undoubtedly an exciting prospect but this is a club with six other senior centre backs. He'd be useful cover elsewhere, namely at right back, but Kelvin Abrefa has also showed some promise in that position in his, albeit small, cameos so far. Ince has already said his preferred back three is Yiadom, Holmes, and Sarr. Mbengue could be first-choice backup on the right side of that three, but given Yiadom is captain and played more minutes than anyone outside of Ince and Hendrick, realistically he won't get much of a look in. Likewise TMc is probably ahead of him for Sarr's spot. Shifting Moore and Dann in the summer still leaves him in the same position - and that's before

Barnsley 1-1 Reading

 A fairly low quality game, where Laurent's late goal saved Reading's season as much as a point. The one tweak to the shape Ince seems to have made is to push the wingers higher and wider. Reading, however, don't switch play quickly enough to take advantage, and when they do get the ball out wide there are no good crossers of the ball. Tom Ince and Ovie both have to check onto their strong foot, while Yiadom and McIntyre aren't particularly good at putting balls into the box full stop. That can be seen by the fact that they combined for one (or two, depending on who you trust) successful crosses all match, both relatively lucky passes by Ovie somehow finding players around the penalty spot. All exacerbated by the fact that Lucas Joao and John Swift aren't prolific from these situations either. It's also difficult for Reading to fully utilise the width that they set up to exploit. Holmes, Drinkwater, and Swift have the ability to switch play, but often the side w

"We’ve never been so flat"

There have been some abysmal Reading performances this season, I don't really need to list them out. But in that dirge, there are two performances that I haven't fully come to terms with my feelings on. The visits of Sheffield United and Luton to The SCL are a clash between feeling like the concept behind the tactics was  reasonable and the implementation clearly not working. But there's one issue with my reading of the game; Veljko himself wasn't happy with either performance. In fact, he used the exact same word to label both - 'flat'. Reading's three in midfield meant they could cover SU attacking midfielders and wing backs And yet, the set-ups for both seem to perfectly explain why the team may be flat. Against The Blades they switched to a 4-3-2-1, with Ejaria dropping deeper to form the three alongside Drinkwater and Laurent. That trio were effectively tasked with stopping McGoldrick and Gibbs-White from being able to come central. On Wednesday we may

If Anything, Reading's Win In Wales Is Just More Of The Same

Paunovic has been under increasing pressure in recent weeks. Last Tuesday he received criticism from all quarters after a dire midweek defeat to Sheffield United, where he changed the shape of the team to nullify the opposition threat. Although there were some interesting takes by those who didn't seem to fully appreciate the formation, it was clear that it wasn't just the opposition's attacking threat that the manager put the mockers on. And yet, one win seems to redeem all. My personal view on The Gaffer is that, given the injuries in the squad, he's doing as well as could reasonably be expected. Obviously he's made errors, but he's also been handicapped by off field matters. The six-point deduction has made the gap to relegation closer than it ought to be, but the team are clearly good enough to comfortably pull clear over the course of the season and, indeed, have been achieving if Reading had started on minus 6.  So my issue isn't with him, but with th

The Big Man Cometh

In the grand scheme of things, I consider myself a bit of an Andy Carroll sceptic. Reading have a penchant for signing players that spend the majority of their time in the physio room, and Carroll aligns with that transfer policy to a tee. It must be said that given the lack of other options, and a short term deal that has no real risk for the club, there isn't any big downside in gambling on the Geordie. With that being said, even I was calling out for the introduction for The Big Man at half-time on Saturday. Reading had a heap of possession just outside the box in the opening forty-five but couldn't translate that into chances. Drinkwater had a tame shot saved after good work from Yiadom, but the best chance of the half fell to Puscas after a fortuitous deflection off a Forest player. The flag went up for offside but it didn't matter as the striker couldn't convert anyway. Both managers had done a fairly good job at negating the other side's strengths. Forest'