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4-4-2 or No?

A busy transfer window for Reading saw huge change at the usually consistent club. Stalwarts Pearce, Federici, and Karacan all left, with almost a dozen new faces coming in. Hector's surprise move to Chelsea on deadline day sealed what had been a frantic few months.
So the next question, ahead of tonight's game against Ipswich, is, 'what's the best way to line up our new squad'?
The obvious answer to that would be the good, old-fashioned 4-4-2. Sá has shown himself to hold up the ball excellently, and can bring new(er) boy Vydra into the attack. We've already seen the former's heading of the ball to be a threat, while the latter is ferocious in the box with his feet. Combined with the creativity of McCleary and Hurtado down both wings, there's sure to be goals.

Williams can continue his role as the aggressor, picked over Quinn for his dribbling from deep, and shooting from distance. They're similar players, but Williams' ability to pick the te…

Birmingham 2-1 Reading

Football's back, and this summer has been an exciting one by anyone's standards, but particularly for a club with Reading's recent history in the transfer windows. Indeed Quinn, Sá, and McShane - who was given the armband - all started their first competitive matches in a Reading shirt, alongside Aaron Tshibola making his full debut.

However after a lively start where Norwood hit the bar within the first five minutes, after a foul on Sá, the same problems as last season seemed to take hold. Charles Watts put this down to a lack of firepower - which I think is incredibly harsh. The moment the back four or Norwood got the ball the two strikers - Blackman and Sá - started runs up field, where the ball would be pinged the length of the field in a half-baked attempt to try and find them. Nobody showed for the ball, and when they did they were ignored in favour of the Hollywood ball. Inevitably this led to a loss of possession, and the cycle restarted. With McShane and Hector ab…

Bradford 0-0 Reading

The FA Cup Quarter Finals generally mean heartbreak for Reading fans, and that could still be the case after the side battled in a hard fought 0-0 draw at a sold out Valley Parade.
In the first half Reading were the better side, but were obviously under instruction to clear the ball at the first chance they could, which meant that clever build up play was few and far between. Jamie Mackie battled for absolutely everything down the right hand side, while Pog ran and ran, albeit with varying success. As the half progressed Danny Williams came more into the game, with a couple of bursting runs, and two long range efforts which didn't trouble the keeper. The only real chance of note was from the right; Mackie managed to get in behind the defender and pulled it back to Pogrebnyak, but his shot ricocheted against the post and harmlessly away. 
Pearce and Hector looked solid at the back, and were rarely troubled in the first 45. The Royals maintained a pretty rigid back four, with Kelly an…

The Magic of the FA Cup

Reading are into a quarter final of the FA Cup for the third time in the past five years, but this time they've been drawn against the lowest ranked team left in the competition. Now is the perfect time to look back at the near misses of 2010 and 2011.
2010 Reading 2-4 Aston Villa Reading: 18th Championship || Aston Villa: 7th Premier League
Possibly the most heartbreaking match I've ever had the pleasure of attending. I was too young for our 1995 play-off final with Bolton and away from home when Walcott's hat-trick of stoppage time goals helped overturn a 4-0 deficit for Arsenal in the league cup. It's always the hope that kills you, and 2010 was no different.
It had all started so well when Brian Howard's corner was flicked on by Simon Church to Shane Long, who nodded in at the back post just inside half an hour. Before the break the lead was doubled when Jimmy Kebe broke down the right and pulled it across the box for Long to convert again. The Royals were in…

Reading 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday

Reading faced off against Sheffield Wednesday in the Thai Consortium derby, and managed to come away from it with a first league win of the year. Chalobah scored on his home debut, and Pogrebnyak scored only his third goal of the season. Again Reading started quickly, but unlike in other games they eventually managed to get the breakthrough.

Before that, though, a pinpoint cross by McCleary was grabbed by Keiren Westwood before it found its way to Pogrebnyak. Cox also found himself clean through, but put his shot too close to the Wednesday keeper. Reading could have been punished down the other end as Wednesday went close; the ball pulled back across the box was thankfully scuffed into Federici's arms.

Pogrebnyak got his head to an absolutely perfect cross from Kelly - an area of his game that is probably above his competition for the right back spot - and sent the ball crashing into the net. Ten minutes later The Royal's lead was doubled after McCleary broke, ran pretty much …

Cardiff 1-2 Reading

Steve Clarke equalled the Cup wins of his predecessor with a late win over a Cardiff. For a large parts of the game Reading dominated but still found themselves 1-0 before half-time when Kenwyne Jones headed home a Peter Whittingham corner. In the second half the visitors were the better team, and levelled through a somewhat mishit Norwood free-kick before Hal Robson-Kanu nicked the game in the dying minutes after an Obita cross.

As I've left this a bit late, I'll just run through some major points.

Obita's crossing is awful far too often, it destroys good moves. That said, he did manage to put in an inch perfect ball for HRK's goal which may redeem him slightly.I can't describe just how badly Norwood struck his free-kick, but the keeper took a step the wrong way and couldn't get back; at which point he just needed to hit the target. Definitely not a classic but did what it needed.I thought there were occasions in the game where Blackman was running absolutely e…

Murray: Yes or No?

With Reading failing to score far too often - ten matches this season already - there's fierce debate over whether Glenn Murray is the right person to bring in on a permanent deal after a solid loan spell.
Reading actually have a better record without Murray in the team (winning 42% as opposed to 33%), and equally even with Murray's goals he was still a part of 60% of games where Reading failed to score. Obviously the headline figure is Murray has eight goals to his name, tied with Cox as the club's top scorer. The only other viable option to fill the role - Pogrebnyak - only has one, but with only a third of the playing time. Interestingly though if you look back at Pogrebnyak's 13/14 season he's far more efficient, scoring every 5.5 shots (he's taken twelve for his single goal this season), compared to Murray who fires home every 8.
Murray also loses the ball more often, on average being dispossessed 1.3 times and hitting 3.1 misplaced passes over 90 minutes…

Reading 0-0 Middlesbrough

Normal service resumed at the Madejski as The Royals didn't manage to find the net for the fourth time in the last six home matches. The point leaves Reading seven points from the relegation zone, but also only a measly eleven points from the play-offs with a run of games against those outside of the top six.
The game itself was interesting for a number of reasons: the first league match without Glenn Murray, who doesn't look like he'll be joining Reading any time soon; the continuing re-emergence of Gunter, freed from the captaincy; and the strange sequence of decisions that tend to make up a Saturday afternoon for Michael Hector.
It was obvious from the outset that Boro were going to cause problems, and as they should sitting fourth in the table, twenty-one goals to the good in GD column. Hector's first error of the match was to try to win the ball back after he'd miscontrolled it, effectively leaving Pearce with a two-on-one to deal with, but thankfully they ma…